My writing career has not taken the usual route of most sensible people’s.
Not for me the most frequent starting point of local paper reporter! My first journalistic post was on the international trade journal, Telecommunications, read around the world, in the days when mobile phones were rare, perhaps because they were the size and weight of a housebrick.
Lured by a handsome man and a salary increase, I hopped over the fence to PR consultancy, where I spent many years writing press releases, articles, brochures and newsletters. I wrote for national trade press and special interest magazines on topics ranging from company cars to cat litter, from superstores to factory shops, from private education to public health. My favourite projects were the Wall’s Pocket Money Monitor for Wall’s Ice Cream and launching Clark’s Village, the first factory shopping centre in the country.
I also spent 13 years writing about education as part of a marketing role at Westonbirt School, a traditional girls’ boarding and day school in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside. I’m not sure how I lasted so long there, being politically very left-wing – though the joy of working in a grade-I listed mansion in a private 250 acre estate may have helped.
I then spent three very rewarding years working for the national children’s reading charity Readathon, promoting children’s reading for pleasure, at home and in hospitals.
As a freelance, I’ve written for Cotswold Life and Country Garden & Smallholding (now Country Smallholding) on subjects such as organic box schemes, poultry keeping and country crafts, and I very much enjoy writing regular columns for the two magazines closest to my home. You can find these articles among my blog posts, tagged Hawkesbury Parish News and Tetbury Advertiser.
When I left Westonbirt in 2010, I started blogging, and book projects and ambitions started to materialise as if by magic. See My Books for the current catalogue, which includes some fun collections of humorous short stories (debut novel due out later this year!) and a growing assortment of non-fiction.
My first published book was Sell Your Books!, a self-help book for self-published and independently published authors, commissioned by Bristol-based SilverWood Books. This led to my blog of free book promotion advice on the website of Off The Shelf Book Promotions, my “trading as” company that I ran from home, offering promotional services to authors such as creating WordPress websites. Although the blog is still visible, I’ve phased out that activity now so as to concentrate on my writing and my work for the Alliance of Independent Authors, the global organisation for self-publishing writers and indie authors. In 2013 I was appointed Commissioning Editor of its Self-Publishing Advice blog, and my role has expanded, so that I am now an Ambassador for ALLi, run two local meetup groups for them (Bristol and Cheltenham), and write guide books for the organisation.
In the autumn of 2013, I self-published a short e-book called Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabetes, to raise funds and awareness for the JDRF, the largest charitable funder of research into a cure for this disease, which affects both my husband and our daughter. This was published as a paperback for World Diabetes Day 2014, although in our house, every day is Diabetes Day!
The most recent development in my career is to have founded a local literary festival in my home village. You can read all about the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival on its website, www.hulitfest.com.