Parents: An amazing story book on disability that every child should read

9781781322031_100dpiHad the utter joy of meeting my wonderful friend (who I met this year at Hawkesbury Lit Fest) Jo Allmond today – one half of the Jess the Goth Fairy books. Jo, along with her amazing, talented daughter (and also my very good friend) Jess, have written a series of books for children that encourage understanding of disability through beautiful, fairy flying fiction. If you have young kids, I’d urge you to get them these books – not only do they foster understanding of difference, they are delightfully written and beautifully illustrated – and would make the most wonderful TV series! It’s an amazing story book series on disability that every child should read
I’ve popped the link for you below, plus a few pics of Jo, Jess – and of course, the fairy🙂

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A letter to those who believe the UK has too many immigrants #EUreferendum

I was going to talk this week about my book, about my new novel being published, but do you know what? I’m not going to do that. I can’t. You see, last week the UK voted to leave the European Union and it has – and I don’t lie when I say this –  had a catastrophic effect on the country.

It’s a country I no longer recognise. People are being downright mean to others. Men and women are shouting at immigrants in the street, on buses, in schools at Polish people, Romanian people, anyone, basically, who doesn’t look ‘British,’ yelling to them, and I quote, ‘Get out of our country.’ Heads should be hung in shame. I am an immigrant. I am Irish. My family came to the UK when I was very young, my dad in search of work and a home, and I remember when we were little, kids running after us, repeating the words of their parents, shouting, ‘Oi, Paddies – get out.’ That was in the seventies. Nothing changes.

Now I have children, 12 and 14 years old, two beautiful, strong, intelligent girls whom I adore. Whom I would do anything for. So when I read today by chance the Save The Children stories on Syrian refugees my heart broke. Accounts from a boy of 14 being beaten. A boy of 6 being treated ‘like a dog’ and left to die with no food and water. A father having to flee with his family because he wouldn’t join the militia and so they said they would kill him.

And I read this, tears down my face and I made myself imagine my own children – of the same age – in the Syrian children’s shoes. My beautiful girls beaten and starved, enduring day after day of shelling.

And as I think of those Syrian refugees, so many of them the same age as my girls, I realise more and more that we can no longer keep everything we have to ourselves. We can’t think, hey, stuff them, this is our country, we’re too bloody full.

And so,  I urge you to ask yourself: what if it was you?

What if, in the British town where you live, bombings were happening all around you? School bombed, no food or water. No Tesco’s or nights out? What if militia took your children and were using them as human shields? What if the children were being beaten in schools used as torture centres, where they are hung from their feet? What would you do, parents? These are your children, your grandchildren. What would you do?

I’ll tell you: you’d do everything in your god damn power to escape. You’d get your kids and the clothes on your back and you’d pay a man in a boat, whatever money he wanted, to get away and save your beautiful children. And you’d hope that after the awful, unimaginable journey where you have no food and might die, you’d be welcome with open arms and looked after and your plight would be understood. But wait! Because when you get there, not only are you subjected to humiliating questions, but people like Nigel Farage think there are too many immigrants, using Nazi-like posters to drive fear and hate, and so you are confused. You didn’t do anything wrong – you just wanted to protect your beautiful little family. But  people, when they see you, instead of opening their arms out wide and saying, ‘Welcome,’ they snarl at you and tell you to, ‘Fuck off back to where you came from.’ But, of course, where you came from was a living hell. So which is better? What are you supposed to do?

Who will help you?

We are one world. We all live on the same planet. We are a global community. No one gave us the right to keep stuff all to ourselves. Think on this: when our kids were little, what did we always try to teach them? To share. So why should that sharing end as adults, as people and politicians?  Why not do it now? SHARE.

To all those who voted to leave the EU, quoting that there are too many immigrants in the UK, I implore you to look at people with kindness. I ask you to take a moment and see in their eyes yourself, and imagine what it would be like to walk in their shoes. Take a moment, just a few seconds now, the bombings, the torture…

It’s hard to swallow, isn’t it? But here’s the rub: we are all human – different, yet all the same. And it’s only when we live with that thought in our hearts, with knowing that the place where we live now, this nice, relatively safe country that is the UK – well, it’s only by coincidence that we were born here, a stroke of luck. And we must use that luck wisely and kindly.

Please, please, let’s look after each other. And let’s share all we have.


Here’s the Save the Children collection of Syrian children refugee stories. Please, do, if you have a moment, read it. Thank you

The Killing Files is up for review – and it’s scary!

The Killing Files
Here’s the cover – what do you think? Like?

I’VE HAD MY HEAD DOWN, WRITING MY THIRD BOOK, NOT BLOGGING AT ALL – SO SORRY. It’s been so busy – my second book in the Project trilogy is out in the UK on 2nd June next week, and the first one, Subject 375, is out in the USA (!!) this summer.

So, amid all this, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who’s reviewed The Killing Files so far. It’s so scary when you first put your work out in the world – I’ve been working all hours on deadlines and so I was nearly in tears of relief this morning when the good reviews started to come in. So to all who’ve reviewed The Killing Files so far, are due to – and to all the fab, fab book site admin folk – this message is for you. As publication date looms next week on 2nd June (!!), from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU xx

PS. Happy writing – I’ll be back soon, blogging with writing advice🙂

PPS. Ooo, before I forget: to get a Net Galley UK review copy, you can request one here. To pre-order The Killing Files, nip here. All reviews are mighty welcome! USA & Canada: I’ll blog as soon as I have a publication date set.

What makes a real writer? #amwriting

Photo of a DiarySometimes I don’t feel like a writer at all. I mean, what is a writer supposed to feel like? Grand? Intelligent? Full of ideas that over flow from their fingers tips to the page? Buggered if I know.

There are days when I wait for ideas to come and others when I simply listen to what’s in my head and let it come out onto the page. Is that right? is that the way to do it? Waiting? Listening? Drumming your fingers on the table, everything set out neat and pristine in front of you? I have absolutely no idea. But maybe that’s a good thing. I pick up my pen some days, laptop others and just get going, but even through this as I write in what ever medium comes to me, there is doubt. A sod of a thing, it grows roots inside, doubt, if you let it. It takes up home and is a proper pain to get shut of. You need weed killer for doubt, good strong stuff, industrial strength, because once it sets in, it’ll spread across everything, starving it of oxygen, wringing out the necks of every other living bloody thing that’s around it. Just cracking on – that’s a good doubt weed killer, as is exercise, reading (although, beware reading a book of the same genre you write in when you’re in the middle of a Project – this can send you either way).

So what is a real writer? God only knows. But, hang on a sec, here’s the thing – maybe that’s the point, you know, the fact that I don’t know. I mean, there is no one size fits all, is there, really when the chips are down (or your pens are). No pre determined prescription of the grandiose writer that’s scribbled out and thrust into your hand to take three times a day with water. If you can write, if you can pick up a pen or open a laptop and simply write, then you’re a writer. Simple. Can I do those things? Um, yup. Can you? Quite. So I guess that’s what we tell ourselves in those moments of doubt, that’s what should be our weed killer to it, the question: ‘Can I write?’ And then the answer will trip of our tongues, will waltz off our lips they were the prizewinners of a major competition, ‘I write therefore I am a writer.’

I write therefore, I am.

Have you got a minute to support #AutismTMI?

Stacked_LogoToo Much Information #AutismTMI is The National Autistic Society’s biggest campaign to date

It’s designed to raise awareness of autism, and will begin with the start of World Autism Awareness week from 2nd-8th April. THE ENTIRE CAMPAIGN WILL RUN FOR TWO YEARS AND AIMS TO DRASTICALLY INCREASE UNDERSTANDING OF AUTISM EVERYWHERE.

This is a cause very, very close to my heart. Not only is the main character of my novels a woman on the autistic spectrum, but I know friends and children with autism, and the more we can do to make sure we understand all about it, what it is truly like for them (and their parents), the better. Just showing an understanding of each other, taking time to hear what things are like for others, no matter what their situation, is always a calm and happy thing.  That’s a good kind of world to live in, right?

You can sign their map now to show your support. It just takes a minute, but means the world. Click here.

Also, if you ever wondered what going to a shopping mall is like when you have autism, watch this #awareness

Want to know what I write in my Morning Pages? Here you go… #amwriting


Welcome to my weekly ‘Diary of a hopeful author.’ Here’s a sneak peak into what I write in my Morning Pages…

I’m off for a while. A break. A small one, but it gets to a point sometimes – and I don’t know whether you find this – that you need a wee bit of time away from technology and the day job and just, well, chill.

So for the next few weeks, that’s me – trying to clear my mind. But, as a writer, I’ll have with me my pen and notebook, scribbling my morning pages in the shadow of big, snowy mountains. Morning pages to me are a bit of a saviour. I know I’ve written about them before – and you may have tried them yourself – but it really helps to write in the morning anything that enters into you head. It’s therapeutic I find, a way of keeping the drama on the page – a way of listening to what you have to say. And that’s what writing is about, essentially – listening.

So, I thought I’d let you have a sneak peek into what walks out of my head on to the page some mornings. Unsurprisingly, I end up writing a lot about the day time, the rise of it, the sun and all that entails. Here, below,  for you, is an unedited copy of what I wrote a few days ago when I woke up at 6am, downing strong coffee. It’s basically painting a picture with words of what I could literally see from the window that day, the weather, the feelings it created, ears and eyes open, listening to the words that wanted to speak.

Here’s to us and our glorious morning pages. Have a great few weeks. I’ll catch up with you soon  :-)

My Morning Pages, March 26th, 2016

“A halo of blue light rests on the horizon beyond, a thin silk band of shimmering brightness, fragile under the burgeoning weight of the heavy, grey clouds above.

Morning has begun. But the sun is quiet. Hidden behind an artist’s wash of black and navy and marbled pewter, the sun struggles to punch out, settling, instead, to whisper through the sky, to skim paint brushes of buttercup yellow in small, secret lines across the horizon.

The trees that stand tall at the bottom of the garden are still. A gentle wind breathing in and out, they appear relatively untouched by the looming rain that threatens to charge from above, the birches and the ancient oaks saluting the morning as solid and stoic as perhaps an old grandfather would, medals on his chest in the face of an unwelcome intruder.

The rain comes now, tapping at the window panes. Only a few seconds pass until, clouds parting in biblical waves, it lashes down in great big streaks across the glass and the concrete and the petals of leaves that scatter along unpruned borders, squirrels huddling in bowing groups under the wide umbrellas of the trees.

The sky, right now, has morphed to a dirty dish cloth wash,  a soup of wet and damp and upturned, pungent soil. And yet, even through all this, the birds sing. They announce their presence through short, intermittent voices, small radio transmissions of song and sound, their dedication to the day. Light, carefree, their dance to the sun that lies kidnapped behind mottled, clotted clouds.

And as they sing, one slip of blue sky sneaks past. One glorious, warm ray.  It blinkers bright,  a single slither of pure determination, of defiance and rebellion as if shouting, ‘Come what may, the day will win!’ For, of course, it always does.”

Thanks for reading🙂 Share your own thoughts from your own Morning Pages below…

How to keep going in the face of rejection… #amwriting


Welcome to my weekly ‘Diary of a hopeful author.’ This week it’s all about rejection and how to keep going when you really don’t want to. 

There are days in writing when things suck. You get up after having, some weeks before, sent out your writing for people to read, ever in the hope that you’ll get somewhere. But then despite your best efforts, they get back to you and you read their letter and it’s a no. You have received that dreaded rejection note (again) and you are, basically, gutted.

This has happened to me. It’s happened to loads of authors out there, it’s happened to J.K. Rowling. We hear, as writers, a lot about rejection, don’t we? Almost as much as we hear about writers’ block. But while for writers’ block there are many pieces of advice out there to help us overcome it, writers’ rejection is an area of where advice is sparse.

That’s why when I saw this tweet by amazing children’s author Abi Elphinstone on her own rejection experience and how she handled it, I had to share it. Because rejection is hard, but read this and you’ll see that it is also good. Because it creates a steel and a grit that will set you up for a long time to come. And help you keep going when times get tough.

So, over to Abi Elphinstone and her take on rejection… And good luck with your own writing🙂

2 years ago my only contact with literary agents had been rejection letters. 96 of them in fact. And I REALLY want unpublished writers to remember that amidst the inevitable frenzy of my Book2 tweets’ next week I am an author who has been turned down by nearly every agent in the UK. It’s clearly not something to boast about, but that 7-year struggle, though painful, lonely & frequently embarrassing, taught me far more about joy & determination (not just in writing, but in life) than any of my good fortune ever has.
Because inside every person who faces rejection, there grows a quiet grit. It doesn’t mean I boogie when I get a 1* review on GoodReads or miss an award longlist – but the quiet grit I learnt back then means I feel an unconquerable joy at every little thing that goes right. Disappointing days stay firmly in perspective & I’d take that hard-won grit & joy over an easy book deal any day. So keep going, keep writing, & know that if I pulled through you can too.

Abi Elphinstone’s latest book, The Shadow Keeper is out now.

Thanks for reading🙂 Join in the writing conversation  below…

What being a published author is REALLY like… #amwriting


Welcome to my weekly ‘Diary of a hopeful author.’ Hello! How the devil are you? I’m (finally) back after a winter of editing with a post that tells you, with utter honesty, about, for me, what it’s really like being a published author…

I was going to write about the merits of editing. Pen in hand, I was poised after a long winter of absence from my blog due to a looming deadline, about how nothing needs to be, in your writing, perfect when you first get it to the page.

But that’s not going to happen. I am, instead, going to speak to you about, well, what I’ve found being an author is like.

Don’t get me wrong – being an author is, in the most part, I have discovered, great. But, as in life and other walks of work, there are times when the wall you build to stay strong buckles and the stormy sea beyond threatens to flood what’s on the other side completely.

When I began as an author, got my publishing deal, I naively thought, “Awesome! Job done!’ except it wasn’t, not by a long shot. See, despite so much planning from all involved in putting a book on the market, things don’t always work out quite as you wanted. Sometimes they take longer, sometimes they may not happen at all, but still, you have to deal with comments  such as, ‘Oh, you’re going to go global,’ (Hold your horses); ‘You’ll be the next JK Rowling,’ (only one JK); ‘Why aren’t you on the bestsellers list yet?’ (yup, had that Q a few times) or (and I get this one a LOT, face to face) ‘How are book sales?’(Eeek!)  And without doubt, people are well meaning, but I never wanted to raise anyone’s hopes too much in the first place because being an author is damn competitive, man, I mean, tough, tough stuff.  Consider this: in the UK alone, over the course of 2014, publishers released 20 new books per hour, meaning that the UK published more books per inhabitant than anywhere else in the world.

And so there’s never any guarantee, no matter how cracking a novel you’ve written, that it’s all going to take off. And when it doesn’t, I cannot tell you how gutting that feeling is – you feel personally responsible, somehow, despite the large team around you, you even start, as I have done on occasions, to doubt your ability to even write (daft now when I say it, but it can be a strong feeling for writers at times) But then you remind yourself why you love writing, pick yourself up, look at what’s going well (my novel’s going down a storm in France and is to be published in over ten languages) and try and carry right on.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love my job, but yeah, like anything – and despite how awesome it may appear from the outside – there are no guarantees and sometimes it kicks you down. Careless comments, working straight through the night for a deadline (twice last week for me. Twice), not knowing quite how to push yourself out there any more than you already are, taking on too much ‘cos you think it might help, writing for free, watching others doing so well and being so, so genuinely chuffed for them, yet at the same time being just a wee bit sad for yourself.

Yep, it’s a rollercoaster, I’ve discovered, but, even though I never envisaged it would be quite this challenging, it’s one that I’m willing to ride.

And boy have I met some amazing people on the way, other authors especially, a whole bunch of us now who have each others’ backs and who I know I could turn to let off steam with at any time and, well, have a bloody good laugh (and a beer) with.

See, writing, authoring (if that’s a word – is now…) or any career really – it can be bloody amazing one minute and a proper downer the next, but, as the great Dolly Parton once said, if you want to see the rainbow, you’ve got to put up with the rain. Well said, Dolly well said. I’m off to fetch my umbrella…🙂

Thanks for reading🙂 Join in the writing conversation  below…

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