How not to kill your family – and still be a writer


Image: Pixabay


Ah, what a joy and blessing family is.

What a comfort through dark times, to know that someone has your back, is standing in your corner, will be there through thick, thicker and impenetrable.

Okay, there are times when it’s hard…

It’s not easy to concentrate on writing your next blog post when an eleven-year-old insists on lobbing a balled-up pair of dirty socks at your head.

And then there are those rare occasions when you’re in full writing flow, the words are pouring out and for once they’re not all drivel. And you’re finally taking control of that scene that’s baffled you for weeks and the dialogue is coming smoothly and it’s clever and real and you finally feel like one day you could be a proper writer …

Then the door opens and there’s a boy and a bike and a muddy P. E kit to wash and arguments over computer time and chores and showers and homework and dinner to cook and forms to sign and bus money to find and lunches to pay for …

And the next time you come face to face with your computer screen, your brain is as slow and reluctant as a toddler eating broccoli and mushroom en croute with a rhubarb glaze.

Yeah, we love our families but sometimes …

It’s not easy to juggle family and your love of writing – but help is at hand. Why don’t you zip on over and read my last blog post for Mslexia on this very subject.

It’s subtitle is DO NOT CUT OFF THIS HEAD – merely charm it!

Sound advice when dealing with family members, I think you’ll agree.


Yes, that’s my last post for Mslexia and it’s been fantastic fun. Thanks to all at Mslexia – especially Robyn – for holding my hand through my first professional gig and for giving me the opportunity to share my nonsense with a new audience.

Thanks for all of you who viewed and commented on the posts and shored up my ego – you’ve all been terrifically kind.

Normal service will now be resumed.




How to murder rejection


Image: Pixabay

Here’s a riddle for you.

What is made from paper, but these days most often from pixels on a screen?

What, despite its ephemeral nature can cut like a wound, its sting successfully piercing the heart of any creative soul?

What wounds like a well aimed blade? Like being dumped for the first time? Like being a huge Star Wars fan watching the The Phantom Menace for the first time? 

What can leave you feeling low, worthless, convinced that you’ve pointlessly wasted years of your life when you could have been pointlessly wasting it in some other way?


It’s our old friend REJECTION, of course.

Now, those of you who have read this blog before know that rejection is something of an obssession of mine – perhaps because I’ve been laid low by it’s poison on many occasions.

But, there is heartening news, my dear, beautiful bundles, because here is a gorgeous fact to ponder.


You can have that nugget of wisdom for free. If you want to type it up, add a picture of a kitten and hang it in your study, you do that.

For guidance on how to cope with this thorniest of writing issues – and for a nice list of famous authors who’ve been rejected more times than you have – why not pop over to the Mslexia blog, where my latest post is up and waiting for your perusal.

Be lucky.


How to stop worrying about not earning a living from your writing




Image : Pixabay


You there!

Yes, you, skulking at the back behind the stack of half-finished novel manuscripts, the mountain of mouldy coffee cups and the dogeared copy of On Writing.

You with the mole-like eyes, squinting into the sunlight as if you’ve been hiding in a cave for the last month.

You with the calloused fingers worn to nubs, the hunch and the haunted look as if you’re hearing the voices of a whole cast of characters other people can’t.

You’re a writer, aren’t you? Thought so.

Let me ask you –

Do you earn thousands of pounds every year from your writing?
Do your books top the New York Times bestsellers list?
Have your stories been adapted for film, turned into multi-million dollar, block-busters, viewed by every nation across the planet?


Then you are part of the 98% of authors who DON’T make a good living from their writing.

Depressed but still want to write?

Be depressed no more, my hunchback, moley, squinty, fingerless chum.

Just pop along to the Mslexia blog, where I will cure you of all your money worries.

100% satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.*


*Please be aware that satisfaction in this product is in no way guaranteed. No refunds.

And while your there, why not check out Sonya’s post on how to find readers for your blog – maybe with her help, you can make your first million.








How to murder Prevarication and Distraction


Image: Pixabay


You have a few hours free.

You’ve sent the kids off to play by the railway line (cos you know, they love Thomas the Tank Engine and there are so many nettles and hogweed, urban foxes and rats down there, it’s virtually a nature walk).

Your other half has gone to the football / aqua-zumba / sealion taming lessons you bought them last Christmas.

The house is silent except for the scritch of woodlice at the skirting board.

You open your laptop or take out your Transylvanian vellum notebook and ivory and tiger skin Montblanc pen.

You breathe deep, slow, open your mind to the ideas sloshing around it …

You catch sight of that unruly pile of Amateur Shed-Builder Monthly magazine. The untidiness distracts you, so you straighten up the stack and retake your place.

You breathe again …

Actually, now you think about it, you’re pretty thirsty – better put the kettle on. And there’s a piece of that Venezuelan Mud Pie left your mum made that would go down very well. And you’d better just check Ebay, because you put a bid in for the entire DVD collection of Chastity and Me staring Bill Clinton and your Aunty Paula would really love that for her birthday …

Six hours later and all you’ve managed to write is the word fish fifty times.

If only you weren’t so easily distracted …

Well, if you pop along to the Mslexia blog, I might just have a few suggestions for you …





How to massacre your Fear of Failure


Image: Pixabay


Another day, another Monster post.

Don’t fret, though. We’ve left Krampus, that stalker of naughty children behind, thank goodness. That guy’s creepy. I’m surprised German kids sleep at all as December looms – though I guess having a demon who drags young people to Hell for misbehaving saves on the paperwork produced issuing  ASBOs*.

No, Krampus is long gone, but the

Many-Headed-Hydra-of -Writing-Obstacles has raised another noggin.

Last time, we dealt with Lack-of-Self-Belief (or Lacky to his closest enemies).

Now, up on the Mslexia blog, I’ll show you how to conquer his sibling,


Sharpen your finest weapon, pack your biggest shield and don your thickest mail undies because this one’s a nasty piece of work and it’ll take all your fighting skills to cut him down.


*For those of you not living in the UK, an ASBO is an Anti-Social Behavour Order – a form of legal restriction issued by police to people deemed to continually behave in an anti-social manner. You know the kind of thing – being verbally or physically abusive, spraying grafitti, wearing a tasteless leisure suit in a built-up area …

A lifetime ago and only yesterday


Image :Pixabay


I take one step, another. The air’s thick with decay. The taste of leafmould coats my tongue, making it slippery against my teeth. I’d forgotten it, but now it’s as if there’s never been anything else.

How long has it been since I was here?

Stupid. I know exactly how long – to the day, to the hour. A lifetime ago and only yesterday.

I run the back of my hand against each tree trunk, savour the scrape against knuckles, the spring of moss.

Keep going.

The trees shut down the sun. Slow as mist, branches drift left and right until the way is clearer, with only a step to take over tangled roots. A groan, the snap of wooden sinew – a crack, loud as a gunshot. I look behind. The boughs have weaved together, a tight net of twigs, sewn with ivy, embroidered with holly berries. I could lean against it, let the tendrils lace us together, a wedding of flesh and greenwood.

But they’re waiting. I walk on.

Finally, the clearing and there – a ring of blood red caps. They are as I remember them – mottled grey bodies, some straight, some twisted as if reaching outwards, their feet sunk beneath the soil, ankles swallowed by a fall of gold and copper leaves.

One step forward. Another. My shoulder brushes a red cap and I’m showered in dust the colour of saffron and I never want to leave again.

Their warmth washes over me, filaments spread, creeping up my shins, gripping my skin, crawling under my nails, in through my ears and nose, filling me.



A little bit of flash, inspired by Rose McDonagh, fellow Mslexia blogger.


How to murder lack of self-belief


Image: Pixabay


Do you have a burning desire to write but think being published is something other people do? 

I felt like that for years.

People who eat chips and sausage from their laps in front of the TV don’t become writers do they?

People who wear tie-dyed leggings, glug too much vodka and orange on a night out and live in grotty one room flats with mushrooms growing out of the window frames because they can’t afford to live anywhere dry with only a minimum wage coming in – those people don’t become writers, do they?

People who didn’t revise for their exams, who had to quit college before they were thrown out … These people don’t get publishing contracts.

That’s what I thought, for decades. And though I still only have a few publishing credits to my name, something has changed.

Alright, one thing that’s changed is I now have enough writing practice under my ever-expanding belt to be able to string a reasonably coherent sentence together – just .

The other change?


My third blog post for Mslexia – How to Murder Lack of Self Belief – is up and live on the site now.

Pop along to see how I did the deed.



How authors can overcome their lack of time to write

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Greetings from ‘sporadically sunny, but when it comes down to it, pretty rainy and miserable, let’s stay in and have another cup of hot chocolate’ Bristol.

Whilst not exactly bathing in the glorious output of the sun and feeling the Vit D leech from my body with every second that passes, there is something that warms my very soul today.

No, it’s not the hot chocolate.

Nor is it the prospect of eating the dosa (and possibly imbibing in a sneaky ‘my son’s at school so why not’ cocktail) that’s waiting for me for lunch with a friend.

Neither is it chatting to you lovely people in the little ray of sunshine that is right here, right now, this blog – though it warms my insides almost as much as the dosa and Mumbai Mule coctail will, I assure you.


It’s the news that the second in my series of posts for Myslexia was published mere minutes ago.

As well as my usual nonsense rambling about dragons and tea, there are a few useful tips about conquering every wanna be author’s foe – Time Constraints.

Do pop along. A warm welcome extends to all.

Overcoming those knotty writing obstacles* with Mslexia

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Today, my first blog post for Mslexia has gone live.

Those of you who’ve read this blog before will be unsurprised to find the posts will include writing, monsters and my usual daft view on things. It’s particularly wonderful to be part of such an intelligent, respected magazine – to say I’m chuffed is an understatement.

For the next three months, I’ll be blogging about … Tell you what, why don’t you just read my pitch.

To become that most mythical and elusive of heroes – a successful author – you must conquer terrifying foes. As a blogger and novelist-in-training, I’ll share with readers practical ways to immobilise the Writing-Obstacle-Hydra’s many heads. These include:

  • Time constraints. Trick! Overcome with cunning and sleight of hand.
  • Lack of self-belief. Stifle! Slow smothering brings results.
  • Money concerns. Blamo! Best acknowledged then ignored.
  • Continued rejection. Plyers! Yank out its teeth.
  • Fear of failure. Snap! Break the creature’s neck.
  • Prevarication & distraction. Die! Die! Die! The hardest to kill.
  • Family & friends. HALT! DO NOT CUT OFF THIS HEAD ‒ merely charm it.

So, if you stumble over any of these problems in your writing, pop along to Mslexia and we’ll thrash it out together. Why don’t you take a look anyway – it’s a great read.

P.S. Don’t forget your sword.

* Not included in my posts is the fact that this guest spot has helped me to overcome one of my own writing obstacles – getting my first professional writing job.

Many thanks to everyone at Mslexia.

Just in case you missed the link, here it is again.