MY WRITING LIFE IN A NUTSHELL…
- warm, witty, whimsical stories of English life
- memoirs and essays about life in an English village
- friendly, down-to-earth how-to books for other authors
- supportive books for those affected by Type 1 diabetes
When I’m not writing books, I’m busy with other book-related activities:
- directing Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, which I founded in 2015
- taking part in other literary festivals and events for authors
- reading and reviewing books for various journals and websites, including my Debbie Young’s Reading Life book blog
- featuring as a regular panellist on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Book Club
- on my Young By Name blog about whatever currently excites my butterfly mind
HELPING OTHER AUTHORS
- helping other authors as Author Advice Centre editor and ambassador at the global Alliance of Independent Authors
- running two writers’ groups in Bristol and Cheltenham
But my writing life hasn’t always been like this – nor has it taken the 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 fiction writing and my work for the Alliance of Independent Authors, the global organisation for self-publishing writers and indie authors.
My fiction books include a new themed collection of short stories each year, which starting with Quick Change, followed by Stocking Fillers, then Marry in Haste. I’m now working on the inevitable sequel, Repent at Leisure, and, from 2017, a new series of lighthearted mystery novels, the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries, kicking off with Best Murder in Show as the start of a planned series of seven adventures running the course of a calendar year in a Cotswold village. I’m also launching a series of children’s books this year about The Teashop Twins.
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 any remaining time (!) I campaign for two charities. 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 second charity is Readathon, which encourages children to read for pleasure and also provides free books and storytellers to children in hospital.
And finally… in 2014 I 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.