fiction Writing


(a snippet of)

Chapter 5 Jack

In the bathroom I have a stool to stand on to brush my teeth properly and wash my face thoroughly. I needed it to reach the sink when I was younger, but now I have grown a bit and only use it so that I have that extra bit of height because our bathroom sink is quite deep and higher up than a normal one.

Mummy bought me an electric toothbrush for my tenth birthday because she said that once you reach double digits you are old enough to have one and this made me very excited. I now brush my teeth better than I ever did before, but it means that now they know I am awake because they can hear me in the bathroom.

‘Oh hello Jack. I didn’t see you sneak in here! Did you sleep ok?’ Eileen says to me while putting her arms around me and squeezing me tight. I nod in reply.

My tooth brush buzzes three times quickly and that’s when I know it’s time to stop. Cleaning is finished for another morning. Now it’s time to wash my face with my new wash that Eileen got me. She said it will stop big spots coming early so that I will never get bullied when I become a teenager. I didn’t understand what she meant but I don’t ever want to get bullied, so I always use it to wash my face.

Finally, the screaming has stopped and I think Erin is ready to leave the house. I just have to put my clothes on but that won’t take very long at all because Eileen and I laid them out all neat last night before I went to bed. As I am getting dressed I hear the car doors open outside on the driveway and this makes me happy because it means that there will be no more waiting around before leaving the house for whatever it is we have to do and wherever it is we are going.

I get in the car and wait a few moments while Eileen locks up and makes sure that Flo is happy and won’t destroy the kitchen cupboards like she has done occasionally when she got anxious with us being away for a long time. Flo is my favourite.

As we drive out of our close along the busy road into York city centre, I think about all the happy times that I have had with Flo. I’m not allowed to walk her on my own yet, but I still enjoy walks with her because even if I am with Eileen or Erin or even Mummy sometimes then I still can feel like I’m all on my own.

Our drive keeps stopping and starting because of lots of traffic lights but I’m not taking too much notice because I am thinking about Flo and all the good times we’ve had. Suddenly our drive stops completely and I realise that we are here. The car park is busy and the signs suggest we are at a police station or a station where policemen go but I don’t know why this would be or why Erin would need to come here on a Saturday when she’s not at school.

fiction Writing


(a snippet of)

Chapter 3, Mary

I went to the park, to the café, to the pond and took in nature. I walked up the high street and looked into the windows of shops but didn’t buy anything. I passed many pubs but didn’t venture in and smelt the soothing smell of active cigarettes and didn’t break my eight-month streak of no smoking, not even a vape.

I even went for an early evening stroll which has frequently saved my days in the past when I have found myself in the same mood as this one, but it just felt weird. I felt as if I could have walked aimlessly for miles and miles with no change, yet usually it only takes until the bench by the river, two miles from the start, to begin to feel the benefits.

This time however, I was walking along and felt as if the whole world was spinning too fast around me. I passed a lady with a Jack Russel puppy who was walking rather slow paced but everyone else was on fast forward. She didn’t acknowledge me behind her until I got right up close. It was one of those situations where it’s difficult to gauge when to cough loudly or politely say excuse me so that the person in question will hear and precious time won’t be wasted with you remaining stuck behind them for longer. I had my earphones in so wasn’t so embarrassed as half of my attention was on the beautiful music gently seeping into my eardrums and taking me briefly out of the moment, but as I got creepily closer to her shoulder I hoped more for her to notice me and shift to the left slightly so that I could pass.

The cars seemed to be speeding, the light seemed to be darkening more rapidly than normal, the electric gates were closing fast on the big house just up the road and even objects that shouldn’t be moving appeared to have some element of momentum to them. The trees, houses, grass, roads, fences – everything. I felt as if I was high on drugs and hallucinating like I was in a dream. It didn’t feel as though my feet were capable of being firmly placed on the ground I was walking on, so quite frankly the experience was disturbing and uncomfortable as opposed to having the benefits that Dr Knoll frequently harped on about.

I had to stop moving myself to firmly place my feet on the earth and slap my face to make sure that it was reality that I was walking through and my coffee hadn’t been spiked in the café I had been in earlier in the day. I did think the man behind me in the queue looked a little dodgy and was casting his eyes on my movements for longer than I felt comfortable about. Yet I know how cynical my thoughts can be sometimes, particularly when I am alone.

fiction Writing


(a snippet of)

Chapter 2, Erin

Erin struggled to place Flo’s harness over her head and attach the lead because she was so overexcited for the fact that they would be leaving the house but once she had a treat in her hand and gave firm commands, Flo obeyed and they were ready to go.

Erin desperately hoped that nobody would see her because she was worried that they would judge her for taking the dog out like normal after finding out such dreadfully upsetting news about a friend. Despite her dog walk being part of the process of grieving and trying to come to terms with what had happened, she feared anybody looking on wouldn’t see it that way and instead would view it as her moving on with normality after just half a day. Part of her brain stopped her briefly claiming that her thoughts were nonsense, and nobody would be so judgemental, but a strong part kept the thoughts coming so she constantly looked around and walked at a faster pace until she reached the field.

She particularly liked the route they were taking because not many people knew the walk after the field so it was often empty and free from people so Erin’s thoughts could go wild, freely with no judgement. As the sun shone on her barber jacket, she almost wanted to remove it because it gave her such warmth, but it was the kind of weather where she was too hot with a coat on but too cool with the coat off so for now she left her outfit as it was.

She realised that her pace hadn’t slowed to normal after speed walking while on the street because she got to her special place much quicker than she usually would, but she was thankful for that as she was ready to release some emotions. That was the good thing about Erin’s special spot, it allowed her to release anything and then gave her the option to leave that emotion behind and move forward once she walked back.

She had first discovered the place when she needed to vent about the loss of her dad at such a young age. She had been fairly open about her upset to her mother but never expressed the anger she felt towards it all. The fact that they were left behind, that he was taken too early and how much impact it had on her mother, so she wasn’t strong enough to support Erin and Jack properly, which wasn’t her fault at all, they had been told that often. The special place gave her room to scream at the top of her lungs, to let it all out without anyone around to hear her or give an opinion that she didn’t welcome anyway.

It was a simple place. Just a large tree trunk on its side facing an expanse of open field with a large bush behind it so that there was no worry of anybody hiding and seeing her. As soon as she placed her backside on the wood each time an instant feeling of relief came over her. It was the same feeling she had after the two hypnosis sessions that aunt Eileen took her to and it felt amazing. This time was no exception and Erin sat, breathed in deeply and for a single moment she forgot about everything.

Adulthood Non-fiction Observations Stories Writing

In a crazy world where good things happen.


Ever tried to write two novels at one time? I think I may have just taken on the challenge.

Initially I struggled to find the time to read during lock down, let alone write. Work has been so busy and my breaks were mostly spent coming to terms with what just happened. As if I’d been hit by something very hard and my whole perception knocked right out of whack.

Eventually I gave up trying to understand everything going on in the world and instead dedicated most of my time in my breaks to reading. That way my brain can shut off completely. It’s a great escape, particularly when the books I am reading are brilliant.

I finished Marian Keyes’ latest novel Grown Ups at the weekend and loved every page. Now I have started The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley and I am really enjoying it. It’s set locally to me in Southwold, Suffolk, so I can relate to the place (somewhere I’d love to be right now) and I can also relate to some of the characters as well.

While reading just now I came up with an idea for another novel. A total light bulb moment and a very cliche way to say my novel began if ever I am interviewed about my work.

I tried to find a way to entwine it into the novel I’m half way into writing, but it simply wouldn’t work. They are too different. So, I started a note page on my phone and when I next find time (difficult, but I will make it happen) I’m going to attempt to juggle writing two novels at once.

Lock down is doing wonders for my inspiration! Watch this space . . .

For links to all of my writing related stuff, my link tree is below. You can also find published work in my portfolio. My debut novel, Dear Brannagh, is available on Amazon along with the sequel Don’t Tell Jack. If you enjoy what you’re seeing here and are interested in following me on my writing journey, then please subscribe to my newsletter by dropping your name and email. There will be plenty of giveaways, news hot off the press and an honest insight into life as an author. Thank you x

Adulthood Non-fiction Observations Recommendations

Isolation: best of a bad situation 4-6

As promised here are some more ideas to make lock down/isolation/social distancing/ all of those things we are currently living through more bearable.

Candles/ Incense

Creating a calm space is always healthy but more so now. Sometimes lock down has made me feel stressed because I am able to think about what is happening and think too much about everything else. Sometimes I even feel a little trapped. By lighting the many candles in my room and an incense stick, my room becomes a calm, peaceful space and I think, quite frankly, I could stay there forever!


I have always harped on about how important music is to me and how I couldn’t live without it and this has remained the case during these mad times. At the beginning of the lock down, I was running at the weekend and, occasionally if I felt totally reckless, in my breaks. It was great. I was getting some exercise in, increasing my heart rate but also it was a release for my mind and my soul.

Bad knees soon put a stop to this but on walks (if without company) and always while walking to and from work each day I listen to music and I really appreciate that feeling of feeling alive.


Reading allows me to lose myself entirely. I escape into another world where, though problems potentially are many, they aren’t mine and they aren’t real. That reminds me, I must finish my book and get onto the next in the pile!

NB* since scheduling this post last week I have finished said book Grown Ups by Marian Keyes and it’s a brilliantly, feel-good, entertaining, hilarious, relatable and also heartbreaking read. I have begun The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley which is great so far (will let you know how I get on).

Any book recommendations welcome and I’ll keep them coming your way too.

Over and out.


Adulthood Non-fiction Observations Writing

In a crazy world where good things happen.


From the day that panic buying began, work has been mental. Honestly, it’s been like Christmas Eve every day on repeat. Mental. This has meant that my usual writing schedule has flown quite forcefully out of the window.

I have gone from chilled, to freaking out, to chilled, to care free and back to freaking out about this. After some time I realised that there’s not much I can do about it other than ensure that I look after my body so that I can continue to help the community. That’s the priority.

Each week when I plan I prioritise. Which projects need completeing first. Sometimes I will put something on hold in order to complete others. Some weeks I manage to fit it all in. I don’t know how. It feels good.

Quickly, I made the decision not to plan during this crisis. At most I get two hours out between 7am and 6pm and I am ALWAYS exhausted. I come home, maybe eat some rubbish. Usually drink a warm beverage and sit my arse on the sofa. Productive, not.

I made the decision not to plan writing in these small windows of time because, quite frankly, what is the point. As tired as I am the writing I produce would most probably be useless and I always feel begrudged when I am FORCING myself to be creative. It should come naturally. Creativity should always come naturally.

This is so true.

On Sunday’s during this lock down, I have found myself getting my laptop out. Sunday’s is usually the day when I avoid this unless I simply feel like it. I have usually completed all tasks at hand during my carefully planned week so Sunday’s are for me.

Recently I have found so much writing inspiration on Sunday’s.

The first time was to celebrate the fact that it was sunny so I was writing outside for the first time this year. But this has continued. I have found that actually, though writing almost nothing all week, my productivity when I simply fancy it is through the roof.

I wrote three chapters of my second novel in a row. I am writing more blog posts than ever and enjoying each one I write. I’m reading loads and getting so many ideas. My creative brain is on overdrive and my notes on my phone are filling faster than ever.

I love it. The lock down has done wonders for my writing. Any creatives among you, I really hope you have found the same!

A selfishly personal tale, but still upbeat and positive so thought I’d share.

You’re welcome.

Adulthood Non-fiction Observations

This week I vow to find my personality

I am writing the first part of this blog post today, Sunday, after a week where tiredness has sucked every sense of personality out of me. I will check back in on Wednesday before posting this to see how I am getting on.

Something Dawn O’Porter wrote on her Patreon recently really resonated with me. She said: ‘Today was hard. My energy levels were zero. My personality was zero. My willingness to at least try, was zero. I really struggled.’

One of the many things that I admire about NHS workers, with the horrific shift patterns, is their energy. Aside from their incredible knowledge and skill set, their energy and enthusiasm through it all is amazing.

Never have I seen a miserable nurse, a pissed off paramedic or an impatient Doctor. It’s just not in their nature.

This past week I have found that tiredness has overruled. I’m usually smiling, at work anyway. I have to be. I work with people. Nobody wants a misery guts making them a sandwich or helping them post a parcel. I usually feel energetic and enthusiastic to help even the nuisance customers. I have a lot of patience, on the outside, and I mean it when I say thank you. Last week this was not the case.

Nurses and doctors and everything in between are tired. Of course they are. They spend their working days saving lives. I never see them crumbling to this, outwardly showing how they inwardly feel.

This week I vow to find my personality again.

To not let tiredness win. To overrule and be happy. To smile even if inside I am screaming. To find energy in any way that I can. To appreciate everything and to not put much time into negativity.

Monday arrived and I still had a bee in my bonnet. I was not having it and I couldn’t shake my negative way of being. Conversations seemed meaningless. I couldn’t even try. Everything got to me and I wondered if I would ever be the same again.

Gradually the day got better and the large gin at the end of it gave me some upbeat energy but anger still filled me. Mostly.

Tuesday came and it was like I’d been drip fed amphetamines through the night. It was lovely.

I woke up with so much more energy, ready to converse with even the slowest, dullest in society. I was working better, my brain made more sense and putting the increasing numbers of orders together didn’t feel like solving an algebra equation.

I was joking, genuinely laughing, really smiling and not getting down about tiny little nagging things. These brushed over me like the wind. I didn’t even meditate!!!!

Of course the day wasn’t perfect. Nothing ever is. Frustration came in ebs and flows and I began to think that over-tiredness and being overworked was starting to get to us all.

Yet this was mixed with laughter. Meaningless, squiffy overtired laughter but so much laughter. I felt alive again.

Wednesday morning (today) has been welcomed with a much needed lie in, a read, a slow get up and a hearty breakfast (Spaghetti hoops on toasts counts as hearty in these desperate times).

I’m feeling tired, but I’m feeling good and ready to get through another day helping others get through these terrible times.

Adulthood Non-fiction Observations

Social Media

Social Media is really strange.

It is an information overload, there is so much to take in. All the time. A constant feed of news and stories. Peoples thoughts and feelings. Other peoples thoughts about those thoughts and feelings. It never stops. Ever. Time differences make this happen. And insomnia.

This morning I planned to spend an extra hour sleeping but I have used half an hour of that hour up already staring at my screen. Scrolling. Catching up on everything that I missed while I was asleep for eight hours. EIGHT HOURS. I’ve only touched the surface. In half an hour. So much information.

There are, of course, really good bits. There are lovely photos of people doing lovely things. Inspirational posts about records of achievement or important life events that people are really happy about and wish to share with the world.

They also want to share what they had for dinner. What they are doing each moment in time. What they are thinking. Their view both politically and of a field near their house. Bizarre. We all do it though.

There is so much love on people’s birthdays. Couples anniversaries. Births of new born babies. Deaths.

When selling items or tracking down dogs or posting a job vacancy in a small business or notifying of a community event, it is a brilliant brilliant tool. There are few better places to promote than on the social.

It never stops. This fricking world never stops spinning. Sometimes you want it to. So bad. For just a minute. Sixty seconds.

Letter writing is almost extinct. Visiting a friend’s Facebook page allows you into their life, what they are doing, where they are living, whether they are married, have any children. A like is deemed contact. A love is even more. A virtual wave, a handshake, a thumbs up. You’re doing great.

Memories daily reminding you of the past and reminders to tell you about the events in the future. Making you realise how, maybe, you should be living. How you used to be. The moment just whizzes by.

It is good. It is bad. It is a voice, a platform, loving, dangerous, cruel, unkind, kind, helpful, useful, boring, odd.

Social Media is a really strange thing.

Non-fiction Observations Writing

For a moment I forgot I am a writer…

For a moment I forgot that I am a writer and that writing is, in a sense, work as well.

Each day I find time to write in between working busy shifts and I thoroughly enjoy to do so. Whether it is at five o’clock in the morning before I start work. It might be at half past one in the day time when I am on my break from work. Or occasionally I write in the evenings if I have chosen not to have a glass of wine. This is very occasional.

It’s therapy. It’s freedom. It’s time to myself. It’s development. It is all of those things but it is also jolly hard work.

A novel contains a huge amount of words and those words take a lot of time to edit. Getting them down in the first place is a job well done but that is also only the beginning. I didn’t realise myself how many times I would go over my manuscript before it went to print. I certainly didn’t realise how many other eyes would read and scrutinise it as well. It is a big task.

In fact, it wasn’t until the other day when I was driving with a friend on the way to a coastal retreat for the weekend in order to get more work done when I noticed that I have forgotten to consider writing as hard work for a while.

I have neglected to notice that it makes me tired. I have failed to count it as my working hours. I have disregarded the time and effort needed to make my work as good as it can be.

We were working out rotas and my friend said how she fully realises that my breaks are not always breaks and I use that time ‘off’ to write. I returned from the coast and felt worryingly tired considering I’d spent the weekend away at my happy place, a place of relaxation and recharge. Then another friend pointed out that I had in fact been WORKING and that reading and editing is tiring.

Suddenly I felt something needs to change. I’ll never stop loving writing and I’ll always see it as a fun, enjoyable, soul strengthening thing to do but I need to start seeing it as work and to stop beating my twenty-four-year-old self up for being too tired for a youngster because a writer is a job title.

Creative work is work. Reading and editing makes you tired. Painting, drawing, sketching, whatever it is your talent is in, it is still worthy to be called work. People buy it for a reason. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Hear it from me.

Non-fiction Observations Writing

My Publishing Journey: The Proof

It has been a week and a half since I received the exciting email containing the professionally edited proof of my debut novel.

At a first glance, all I felt was excitement. Giddy excitement to see my baby, still on a Word Document, but looking as it will look on the pages of an actual book. The layout just looked fabulous and having my name as the author and on copyright was pretty cool.

My words flowing, words I had written, characters I’d come up with in a world entirely created by moi – it still seems surreal. Scrolling briefly before reading any, I was happy to see that it hadn’t been completely covered in editor comments and changes, and felt quite proud that an amount of my time studying English had been worthwhile.

My publishers explained to me in detail how they have edited my manuscript and advised precisely how I go about agreeing with their changes or, indeed, disagreeing.

I realise I am no professional. I am fully aware that I am brand new to this game. However, I felt it would be useful to share with you all my tips so far on THE PROOF and what I have found helpful when reading through my entire manuscript once again.

  • READ ALOUD: it makes for clearer reading and easier to spot little mistakes
  • TAKE YOUR TIME: while time is of the essence, this book is going out into the world, do not rush, be careful to get it right
  • PLAN, BUT NOT TOO MUCH: I have planned to read a chapter a day. If I achieve more, then I am very happy but if that is all I manage then equally, I have done well. I work full time and sometimes after a busy shift my eyes need to be away from screens.
  • KEEP A CLEAR HEAD: there is no point attempting to effectively read through and edit when your brain is frazzled. I find it takes a few moments to get into the right head space in which to work properly. This weekend I am off to the beach. I have a great friend who makes this happen but also, the beach is where my mind instantly clears and I know I will get a lot of quality work done while there.
  • BE PROUD: don’t underestimate your achievement and be proud to look at your book in a professionally edited form. As much as you feel you’re boring those around you, it is VERY VERY exciting!