• My Publishing Journey

    I don’t think that there was ever a moment in time where I consciously made the decision to write to be published. To me, writing has never been a business, a nine ‘til five, it’s so much more than that. Perhaps I’m mad, spending all day arranging words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraph into chapters, and chapters into books, but I do this because I cannot ever consider not doing it. Many of my books began as stories I wrote to tell my own children. I remember to this day when I was writing ‘Oliver & the Missing Parents’, how my son would came home from school eagerly asking if the next chapter of the story was ready.

    Perhaps this was the turning point for me when I realised that if my children enjoy my stories, then maybe other children can too. It was here that I decided to embark on the perilous voyage of being published.

    I remained on this path for several years, my experience of the publishing world was in fact blinkered. I had no idea of how to go about approaching publishers and agents, so everything was new. I wrote more letters than I can count, and for some, despite sending an incredibly personal three thousand words, I would receive one hundred words in return, one of those words always being, ‘sorry’. The only thing personal in each rejection letter was my name and address on the envelope. This is where would have been easiest to have given up, but for some reason, I didn’t. Was it the rebel in me? The word ‘no’, has always made me even more determined. I feel a deep sense of sadness to all the amazing writers out there, who have created a window into another world for others to share, only to have it painted over with black gloss by agents and publishing gatekeepers. Dus

    Alongside the submissions and rejections, I began promoting myself as a writer using social media and building a web presence, blogging, interviews with local media, and even reading the first chapter live on air on BBC Radio. This part was fantastic, it was a journey that I loved, but during this time, I spent more time marketing than I did writing. Momentum grew along with the pile of rejection letters, but the one thing that failed to grow was my enthusiasm. It was exhausting, and felt as though the efforts were all in vain if I couldn’t get past the first hurdle. Life moved on, I began home schooling my son, and sadly, my writing stopped for quite some time.

    A few months ago, I dusted off my pessimism, and began to write again. I researched alternative publishing methods and have come to realise that there is in fact a whole new wave of publishing which I hadn’t even considered. I looked over my books, focussing on ‘Oliver & the Missing Parents’. This break was refreshing, it made me analyse what I had written far more objectively. It was almost as if I was reading someone else’s book. Perhaps I was too close to the characters, the storyline, and the plot at the time, so I edited the story to a place where I was happy to share it. I learnt how to format the text, enabling it to be downloaded onto a kindle device. This made it so much easier to share. Friends and family have read it, and have offered feedback which has given me the confidence to begin the process of self-publishing.

    Published by:
  • Capaldy v Austen

    I’ve indulged and spend the weekend, lost in a world of Regency England.

    Dr. Who Time Lord

    Peter Capoldi

    Peter Capaldi currently holds the title of Time Lord, but I’m afraid I think the rightful title belongs to Jane Austen.

    I feel I have travelled back in time, not in a tardis, but in the pages, in the words of Jane Austen as I accompanied her on a journey to a place millions of miles from where I live today.

    Whenever I begin to read her stories, I no longer live in modern Wales, but am transported to a far a different time where I become a welcomed stranger.  I feel fortunate to be invited into another life where I don’t merely peer through a portal, but I hear the music on the piano forte, feel the anticipated excitement at the arrival of horse drawn carriage, and the disappointment and elations of an era so many years ago.

    On writing her novels, I wonder could Jane

    Austen ever have known what a timeless master peace she had created.

    Published by:
  • Pupil, Teacher, Mum. 

    Over the past decade, my views on education have changed tremendously.  Born and educated in Ebbw Vale, I trod the same path as so many others.  It wasn’t until my children began to take their first steps on this path that I realised, education hasn’t really changed very much at all.  Every child is individual but our education system is not.  For many reasons the institution of schooling is tailored to the masses, and for an increasing number of children, the system fails them.
    I’m a great believer that children are born with a hunger to learn.  Creativity is the freest form of self-expression and has to be developed and nurtured.  It seems that schools by default and design are not always the place for this to happen as they are inhibited by the fundamental issues of following curriculums, performance targets, red tape and underfunding.  I find the concept that a child may be creative on a Wednesday afternoon between the hours of one and two difficult to understand.  A child who is quiet, and fears speaking out in class in case they answer wrong, sadly faces education with clipped wings.  For this reason, I made the choice to question the institution, and set my own path through an open field, stopping to smell the flowers on the way.
    I have two boys, and both of their experiences of school have been very different.   My eldest is still at school studying for his A-levels, while my youngest who is now nine, attends school part time and I home school him for the other part.  I began my teaching career in 1997 in primary schools, and by 2010, I left the world of teaching altogether.
    Home School Class Room

    Home School Class Room

    For me, this experience has been a hugely positive one.  I feel lucky to have found an incredibly supportive school that allows this to happen so that my youngest son experiences both school and home learning.  Increasingly, I see other parents taking matters into their own hands, and realising that it isn’t always best for every child to follow the same path.  Society seems almost structured to the model that your children enter into schooling at nursery and then, someone else educates them, until they leave at the end with their certificates.  This is not how it has to be, no one knows your child better than you do; a child learns so much more when they are happy, comfortable and confident, and from my experience, during their early years, the place where this is, is home.
    Published by:
  • Frustration

    It has been more than a few days since my wait began, and despite my best intention to reject the temptation to ‘wait’, sadly, I find myself waiting! The lack of action can only be described as disappointing. Six weeks of waiting is a harsh sentence for a writer, but what is the alternative?

    It has now been a month since I sent off my manuscript, or perhaps more appropriately since my ‘agent voyage’ began. My hopes remain unchanged, I want to find someone who will help me carry my words into print and allow me to share them with others. The words I have created are my musical notes, and together they make my song.

    As much as I’m trying very hard not to, I cannot help but wonder how the manuscript has been received. Has it been converted into a coaster for coffee mugs, or perhaps it has been received with as much passion as it was sent. There are no certainties, just hopes and unanswered questions.

    So why is it I feel frustration? It is purely because the decisions and the control for something that was once all mine, has now passed out of my hands. I was merely the creator, and I have no doubt that my creation holds truth, it holds meaning, and it holds something very special that needs to be shared. The success or fulfilment of my words now belongs to another, a stranger who has become the vessel that will allow those words to sail, or to sink and remain hidden from the world like a shipwreck, lying on the ocean seabed.

    Published by:
  • How Bizarre!

    After a recent visit to Heston’s Fat Duck, I couldn’t help but notice the bizarre similarities his restaurant held to some of the best pieces of literature that exist today. The obvious question one may ask, is how can anyone possibly compare the two? They are two entirely different experiences, and totally unrelated, but then perhaps they may have neglected to consider one or two things. Heston uses food, as an author uses words. Words are words, and food is food, but this magical chef uses the same food as every other chef, but in a way that is unique, he blends together ingredients that have never been blended before and presents them in a way that is different. In much the same way, an author uses the same words that are used by so many, but presents them in a way that makes them special, unique and captivating.

    Hestons-Victorian-Feast-001It was a wonderful evening, and the whole experience was quite special. The meal provoked every sense from touch, to sight, to sound, to smell, to sensory perception and of course to taste. The best books, which I have read, have taken me to the very same place! I don’t mean to the Fat Duck in Maidenhead, but they have indulged my every sense. I remember as a child, losing myself in the works of Roald Dahl, discovering ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, I remember the descriptions being so vivid, I too could taste the bar of chocolate that Charlie Bucket had for his birthday.

    So, in a nutshell, I wanted to share with you my thoughts, on a bizarre and unique parallel between an amazing chef and an amazing author. Perhaps you’ll agree, perhaps not.

    Published by:
  • First Rejection

    It’s arrived. The definite envelope that I have, or maybe that I haven’t been waiting for appeared on my doorstep this morning, crisp and brazen! Even after waiting so long for it to arrive, it took me a moment of contemplation to consider whether or not I should actually open it. The unknown held promise and hope, although the prospect that the envelope could hold good news made the urge a little too strong to ignore. I knew that the letter held answers, so I eventually succumbed and carefully prized open the seal. Even before reading a single word, I knew the truth by the shape, the form of the letter, it was official and impersonal with not so much as my name printed at the top. As my pessimism suggested, I was holding a mere impersonal standard letter of rejection that wasn’t even addressed to me, it merely informed me, no.
    rejection-letter
    How did it make me feel? Maybe a little disappointed, but strangely, there was a feeling even more overwhelming than disappointment, and that feeling was determination. I believe in my story, I believe that my story needs an audience, and for this reason, I find myself feeling stronger. I’m not sure how and I’m not sure why, but I think it has made me feel stronger because deep down, I know that the loss is theirs. One day, they will perhaps realise that they have made a mistake and a misjudgement. However, maybe the match was one that was not meant to be, no relationship can flourish if both parties believe different things, and maybe my style isn’t theirs, and possibly, theirs may not be mine.

    I suppose like any partnership, you have to kiss a whole load of frogs before you find your Prince, well agent number one, you are not my Prince, and I am not your Princess, so I will continue kissing frogs!

    Published by:
  • Belief and Acorns

    For a writer, it may sometimes feel off putting to know that the words which they have chosen, the story that they have told, sits in waiting. Made to wait like a seed in a packet, with little chance of growing until it has been nurtured. The writer is the acorn only they know of the potential, of what their words could become if planted and looked after. In their sights, is a great oak tree, in their hands, a mere seed.

    AcroHaving never compared myself as a writer to an acorn, the comparison seems bizarre, yet strangely real. The agents, the publishers, they are the rays of sunshine, the rain, and the soil, and without them, my acorn remains just that. So, without the ability to bring sunshine or rain, I hold onto belief. Belief is trust, belief is hope, and this I continue to cling to. If belief is an opinion, then my opinion remains unchanged. Oliver & the Missing Parents will soon find sunshine and rain.

    Published by:
  • Thank you JK Rowling

    The final showing of Harry Potter draws the Carr family to the cinema this evening. How wonderful that so many people will spend tonight transported from reality and captivated by the happenings of a magical world which didn’t exist until the imagination of one incredible author shared her creations with the world by putting her words onto paper. The world of Harry Potter exists only in the imaginations and minds of those who have also been drawn into the phenomenon, yet, for so many, it has become a world of fantasy, a world of adventure and a world of magic. My children have grown up reading these words, we have shared each chapter together on holidays, cold winter evenings in front of the fire, on picnics and even sat snuggled in the car on top of many a Welsh hillside armed with flask of hot chocolate and blankets.

    Magic B

    Today, in many ways, I feel a little saddened that the era has come to an end. In a very special way, my children have grown alongside this fictional character and so, the final chapter brings home the fact that they too are growing into young men. Through her writing, JK Rowling has been a part of so many children’s lives, and I believe that she has created a world that will remain in the hearts of a generation. I am looking forward to sharing the conclusive movie with my family, and submerging myself into a world of fantasy, adventure and magic and into a world of literature.

    Published by: