Blog Archives

Outta My Mind


Besides my all consuming book editing I have just caught up on recent blog posts that I follow.

There’s a lot talent out there, thanks for blogging.

And so on to my fun rant of the day! bicker

A writing community website that I look at frequently had the dubious honour of witnessing an argument between two writers in the last few days.

While it is not worth condoning their exchange I found myself laughing quietly at the ever more wordy diatribes. When writers have a spat, well, it’s an education…

The two gentleman were not just vying for the prize of the largest ego and declaring their rival was lacking in talent, even to the point of naming their publishers, their language was suggesting that:

a. Apart from their colourful language, they were checking dictionaries for the longest words they could find to launch their written missiles in a ridiculous game of one-upmanship.

b. Words are weapons in the wrong hands, one can only hope that they understood the meaning of ALL the words that they were using.

c. No matter how large your ego is, how much in royalties you earn from your book, who has the most prestigious publisher, how you dress up “constructive” criticism sometimes what you write is no more than an insult.

BUT most of all when people make the mistake of taking themselves too seriously and therefore abuse their gift, in this case their writing ability, it reveals the lack of respect to their fellow human, the misapprehensions that they labour under and it leads to a stormy reminder that rather than knocking others talents we could and should be grateful and supportive instead.

A war of words BENEFITS NOBODY no matter what language, genre or market you aim for.

Now for something lighter:


Outta My Mind

I’ve been working on my book

My head feels like I gave it a right hook

I’m almost, but not quite, out of words

I know it sounds daft, positively absurd

But I think I’ll dream about my subject

In Technicolor tonight until I roundly object

Tomorrow morn with zeal anew

I’ll edit on and immerse myself in word stew

But about it I’m really rather excited

My enthusiasm cannot been blighted

Real unknown people have pre-ordered it

Which frankly, sent me outta my mind for a bit! 

Yep, I am sooooooooo loving being a writer bod! 🙂

Have fun, ENJOY life and your talents and don’t get into any online arguments 😉



Chekov’ed My To Do List


Sorry, seriously bad pun in the title 😉

While I was researching Robert Burns I found out that Anton Chekov’s birthday is 29th January.

Intrigued, I investigated this Russian literary legend, reread The Cherry Orchard and as I’ve written about Jane Austen and Robert Burns it seemed perfectly rational to follow the A, B, C and write 101 Interesting Facts About Anton Chekov.

I learn so much by researching facts for these books. While we may know the literary works and believe that the tales are within the writing as the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. 

These people who we respect and revere or choose not to appreciate have had lives – I know, it’s a revelation!!

All the good, bad and indifferent that causes light and shade in our lives affected these people too. Some of their experiences don’t make it into their writing but they’ll have been felt just as sharply as we feel loss, success, fear etc. now.

People are incredibly interesting, past, present or future and almost everyone has an extraordinary tale to tell.

If only I had time to write everyone’s life stories down!

Apart from Chekov I was really pleased that I made a shortlist again in a poetry competition and I am honoured that Children’s Stories Net ( have made my story Chuckles Nose their story of the week.

Believe me when I say that I’m not boasting but very grateful. It’s been a long journey from the OCD/PTSD grabbing my life and aspirations by the throat to here…that proverbial tunnel has light at the end of it.

Have fun and enjoy life.



The Writing Itch, Reading and Farewell 2014.


I hope that everyone had a great Christmas and that you can still move after being gluttons.

I still have about a ton (rough estimate ha ha) of chocolate to eat. I’ll struggle on – somehow!

Over the Christmassy days I didn’t write but by Saturday morning I needed to write, like an itch that needed to be scratched, and so I entered three competions and I wrote a poem about my 2014 which I’ve pasted in below.

I’ve been reading a lot in the last few days, a little of War and Peace, that equates to a 150+ pages so I’m progressing nicely through Part 2, some of a biography about Alice of Athlone, one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters, and a book that I haven’t read since I was at school (20 odd years ago.)

I found “The Very Bloody History Of Britain (Without The Boring Bits) The First Bit.” by John Farman by accident while browsing on Amazon and it was as funny to me yesterday as it had been then.

I recommend it if you are new(ish) to British history and want to learn in a “fun and with comic illustrations” kind of a way.

The rediscovery of a book from the past was a surprise bonus gift this Christmastime.

Tolstoy is beckoning today, War and Peace needs stamina but it’s a fabulous book.

I think the Russian influence is taking over my book purchases too, I’ve also bought a biography on Catherine the Great but I love history so no complaining here!

I hope you have a very happy and healthy 2015 and thanks for following me. It’s really appreciated. X

Speak to you next year!!

2014: Miracle Upon Miracle

At the start of this year my mental health was not what it should be

The weight of OCD and PTSD were expertly overwhelming me

But these last twelve months have shown me that miracles are real

That the hand of cards from the deck is not always a rum deal

Team Jo, as I’ve christened us, Mum, the therapist, doctor and I

Have worked solidly to strengthen me and answer the whys


But it must be acknowledged with gratitude and unrelenting zeal

That without God’s love, precious faith and His ears open to appeals

I, a mere mortal, may have let my fighting spirit gasp, stutter, die

But there’s a wondrous light peeking from my reawakening eyes

Life is returning, the illnesses are fading and to them I shan’t yield

I have walked a stony path but blessedly supported I approach healed


As the New Year bell sounds delicate buds of bountiful joy I can foresee

I reflect that in 2014 the true Jo came back and she is alive within me.


I’ve done it!

snowman-160868_640Poppy field --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisHi


I’ve taken the plunge, I’ve put my money where my mouth is, I’ve risen to the challenge and any other cliches that you want to add…I’ve entered one of my poems in to a pay to enter competition!

Until now I’ve entered only free competitions to see how my work performs under pressure and scrutiny and it’s not done too badly.

No wins but no sense of “why did I bother? Am I MAD?” either so I’ve decided today that I may as well take the next step and enter a pay to enter, larger prize competition.

Moreover, I won’t let that little voice in my head say that I’ve probably just wasted my money or that the poem possibly has no chance of achieving any sort of prize – No, I’ve just been brave and that is a big fat juicy something in life that doesn’t have a pricetag.

The results won’t be out for a couple of months but at least I’ve entered and the rest is up to the judges.


Happy writing peeps!






Bits and Pieces


They say that variety is the spice of life and after this week I believe it!

Apart from reading the shorter books on my Kindle ready for me to really get in to War and Peace…

I’ve been working on getting some of my e-books in to a printed format which was a bit daunting but a lot of fun.

I wrote a Hallowe’en poem and a Christmas children’s story within a couple of hours of each other, a seasonal literary shift with only lunch to separate them!

I’ve also written another preschool/kindergarten children’s story and published that as an e-book.

And, in case you were thinking “oooh what a show off!!” I also wrote a children’s story that when I returned to it the next day I thought that was pants to give it a really technical phrase! and I immediately and ruthlessly deleted it and rewrote it. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind!

I was shortlisted for a competition too – top three apparently – soooo close and yet soooo far from the prize! Hey ho.

I actually managed to oversleep a little on two mornings this week – I think it’s the darker autumn mornings that are to blame and it’s ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the words willpower, sleepy and cosy!! Actually, I think it’s thanks to the anxiety disorders getting sorted too, that makes sleep SO much easier!

Next week I shall be editing like a ninja – as long as my duvet and I find a way to separate! 😉

Have a fab weekend.


A, B, C – Anxiety Borrows Creativity


At the end of last week I looked at what I wanted to work on before the end of the month including competitions that close on 30th June and publications that are closing for submissions over the summer.

As I tried to work out how I could achieve my gargantuan tasks confidently and competently my OCD and anxiety voice started to murmur that it all had to be done, every opportunity had to be taken or I just wasn’t trying hard enough.

And the strangest thing happened, although it’s perfectly logical too.

My creativity, inspiration and flow lessened as the business end and my unrealistic expectations of myself, the should do’s and the must do’s, drained the writer me of fluidity and entertaining writing.

I couldn’t find strong ideas and I wondered about the standard of work that I was producing, the twists for the plots lacked something…the sparkle just wasn’t there.

However, I am proud and delighted to say that my creativity came back before Monday dawned – when I took the pressure off myself, realised that I, as my own boss, can pick what I work on rationally not because the calendar says that in X amount of days the month is ending but because the inspiration, the nugget of a plot is there to be nurtured.

Interestingly, I haven’t done one of the pieces of work that I had deemed essential last week.

I’ve been working on something strong, non fiction, that a week ago hadn’t even been a whisper in my mind and it’s going well, thankfully.

I am sure that if I want to enter any competitions in the coming months then the work will be completed and of a better standard than if I tried rushing something through for June.

The world isn’t going to end whatever I submit to wherever, whenever!


Anxiety up = frustration until I remember that I enjoy and love writing for writing’s sake. Yes, whilst I need to make a living that should not at my wellbeing’s or my writing’s expense.

I’ve been taking care of my Mum this week too as she’s been ill so in a “God works in mysterious ways” manner events refocused my priorities and perspective as soon as she needed me to help out.

Competitions and deadlines come and go, but helping someone through a tough time and keeping my brain happy and healthy are always going to be more important.

As my therapist reminded me, in January 2014 starting this career still seemed like a far off dream but now I’m living it.

The moment should be savoured. I’m taking time to smell the roses. 

I guess the future will turn up when it’s ready.

Have a great day.


A Writer From Day One.

As a child, I used to annoy my big sister when she helped me with my reading aloud because I would read what I wanted to be there and not the actual words, so “the cat sat on the mat” might become “the cat sat down on the mat.”
I have been blessed with a really active imagination too, my inner writer!

When I was 10 I won a poetry competition, which shocked me as I knew the other contender for 1st place and I was convinced that I was the runner up, so convinced that as the guy started the intro for the runner up I was half way to standing before I realised that my name hadn’t been called and that I was the winner…it was my first attempt and it was a 13 verse Halloween poem. Of course, they might have given me 1st place because after 13 verses the judges had lost the will to live!!

I continued to write short stories and poems throughout my teen years and I was pleased when my English teacher said that if I kept working on it I could possibly maybe perhaps get something published one day…he’s a poet as well as a teacher and was probably just being diplomatically encouraging!

Then the weirdest thing happened.
When I was about twenty two/twenty three a little voice inside my head said “Stop writing for a few years. Get a bit more life experience.”
The idea made sense. I was beginning the rehash old ideas and although I loved, and love, writing I was not producing great work.

I stopped writing in earnest until I was thirty.
I just came back to it, no conscious decision, I simply started to write and the words flowed and I’d seen more of life so I could tell stories that my twenty something self wouldn’t have been able to with conviction. That was how my first novel came to be.

Life works in mysterious ways.
Hope you are having a great day.