Posted in Author, children's wrier, Kidlit, poem, Poetry, Writing, writing for children

Coming Soon!

When I started approaching agents and publishers last year I was prepared for the inevitable rejection emails. Everything I’d read about this process suggested it could (and most likely would) be a long journey to publication, if I ever got there at all.

So why not self publish?

When I decided to be a teacher I didn’t just rock up to a classroom and get on with it. I spent a year training and completed a PGCE, had my lessons observed and commented on, learnt what I was good at and what I needed to work on. I had a tutor and a mentor and by the end of the year I knew I was going to be good at my job.

How do I achieve the same validation within the world of writing? To me the answer seemed simple, find an expert in the industry and get them to love my books. I am not against self publishing at all and I have read lots of SP books which I’ve loved. But for me, I needed the reassurance that a professional in the industry agrees that my writing is worthy of being put into a book.

I still do need that external input. So for now my picture books and chapter books remain firmly unpublished and waiting for that magic agent or spectacular rewrite when I come back to them again later. But poetry, it turns out, is a different sort of ballgame.

So many agents and publishers have NO POETRY on their submissions guidelines. Why? Kids love poems! But this is a business game after all and a little poetry book by an unknown poet is not necessarily going to equal big sales numbers. When it comes to poetry there seems to be a much bigger no entry sign than any other type of text.

Three things have happened in the last few months.

Firstly, a friend in the music industry told me that when people approach him with songs the first thing he wants to know is who is this person and how committed are they? Is it one song or do they have more? The bottom line – why should he take the risk? Finally, he asked me if I had considered self publishing my poetry to show I’m committed to my own writing?

No. No, I hadn’t.

The second thing that happened was that I contacted a published poet. Someone relatively new in the industry, someone whose poems I’d read and enjoyed, someone who was where I wanted to be – visiting schools with his published poetry books and sharing them with children.

Do you have an agent? How did you get published? Please tell me your secrets!

He explained that his journey started as a self published poet. Once he’d spent a few years doing the school circuits and selling his books he approached a publisher and said, hey – look at me! I’m great at this. And he could prove it. He was selling books and that was a language the publisher was willing to take a chance on.

The third thing that happened is that it was National Poetry Day and I felt really sad. I felt sad that for another year I was looking at my poems in a file on my computer and wishing rather than doing. The theme of NPD this year was choice.

OK, Universe. You have my attention.

Because we do have a choice. A choice authors in the past didn’t have and perhaps that choice is also a chance, a chance to prove that you’re passionate and committed and most importantly, excited to share your writing with an audience.

And on that note, I hope to have some very exciting news to share with you soon…

Posted in Author, author life, children's wrier, Kidlit, poem, Poetry, Writing, writing for children

My Nose

My nose doesn’t work. It never has. Around the age of seven (it took that long!) I realised that I had absolutely no idea what people were talking about when they mentioned ‘smells’. What were these strange things that I’d nodded along with and claimed to understand?

It turned out I had anosmia (no sense of smell). People who have experienced a bad cold might have lost their sense of smell for a few days but I have never had it. I get asked if it makes me feel sad – it doesn’t. I’ve never had it, so in turn I know not what I am missing.

I hear the best smells are freshly cut grass after rain and bread baking…

I’ll leave the worst smells to your imagination.

This poem was inspired by a talk on senses at the science museum we visited at the weekend.

My Nose Knows

My nose knows
So many different things
It knows when the 
Seasons change
And when Great Gran’s about to ring.

My nose knows who 
Will win the race
At Sport’s day
Before the teacher says Go.
It knows how it feels
To run so very slow.

My nose knows when laughter
Isn’t real or kind.
It gets all hot, a tiny fire
Burns through nostrils
To my mind.

My nose knows when
Someone feels so sad
That they want to sleep all day
Cocoon themselves in blankets
Hide away.

There’s only one thing
My nose knows not.
The one thing it’s supposed to.
The smell of bread and rain and grass.
The smell of dog poo on shoes
And flowery soap.
The smell of chocolate eggs and 
Mummy’s perfume
When she holds me tight.

These things my nose will never know.

Posted in Author, author life, children's wrier, Kidlit, poem, Poetry, Writing, writing for children

Worrying

My last blog post was in May. May! Many months ago now. Shame-faced I returned to the WordPress log in screen and after several failed attempts had to accept that I no longer remembered my password to my own website. It’s been that long.

There are lots of reasons (excuses) for this tumble weed silence but perhaps the most prominent is worry. Some of it mine and some of it belonging to others. Our son started school this September. A joyful and exciting experience which was foreshadowed by sleepless nights and a wealth of worry as his four year old brain processed this step.

Of course, sleepless nights for children often mean sleepless nights for parents too and after a summer of sleeplessness the idea of being creative dwindled.

Or if not the idea (as the ideas kept coming to my sleep deprived brain) then certainly the ability to process and channel that idea into a creative output. Mostly I just ate toast.

And perhaps I let my own worries creep in too. I’ve been writing with the intention of being published for two years now – what if I’m just not good enough? What if I’m so worried about trying to get published I’m not making the time to sit down with new ideas? What if this whole pursuit is actually a bit embarrassing and I should just slink away now and pretend it was never something I wanted that much after all.

We talked to our son a lot this summer. We are a house which likes to talk. He knew he was nervous about school – he could tell us that it was the unknown that was the scariest part. I hear you buddy, I really do. Not knowing what will happen is scary. It’s scary sending your writing off into the world of experts and not knowing what (if anything) might come back.

With his best friend holding his hand our little one went into his new classroom for the first time a few weeks ago and bounced out three hours later with exclamations of “the best day ever”.

8 weeks of sleepless nights just melted away with a reminder that the worry is often the hardest bit. With that in mind, here’s a poem I’ve been working on. It’s time to put down the marmite toast and get working again.

Never Worry a Worry

Never worry a worry,
Or let a worry worry you.
For if a worry worries
then a worry can come true.

It’ll hide around a corner,
Sneak behind you on a walk,
It’ll creep and lurk and whisper,
’till ideas start to talk.

‘Oh dear, oh no, oh never!’
Will consume your every thought,
‘I really can’t. I won’t. I don’t,’
Will be just the very sort –

of things your brain will dwell on,
And stop you living life.
For a worried worry worries,
causing every kind of strife.

So if you feel a worry,
Bubbling away,
Don’t let your worry worry,
Embrace it for a day.

A worry’s just a thought,
That got lost along it’s lane.
So hug it, love it, talk to it,
And listen just the same.

For a worried worry worries
Because it’s all alone.
But a worry that is shared
Can change it’s worried tone.

If you have a worry,
Don’t keep it locked away.
Show your worry you will help it,
To stand and face the day.

Posted in Uncategorized

My Mum Always Knows

As a child I was occasionally prone to lying. Little lies, like when I told my year 6 teacher that it wasn’t me who’d thrown their cycling proficiency leaflets in the bin. Full disclosure: it was. Come to think of it I also lied to my University tutor about why I missed my library induction. The actual reason, I didn’t know where the library was, was too embarrassing to admit. Still to this day I think about these lies when I enter a library or ride a bike.

There was, of course, one person who always saw right through me. It’s what mums do. Now I’m a mum this gift has been passed down to me. Watch out kids…! This writing prompt photograph from the Creative Writing Ink competition inspired me to write this poem.

https://creativewritingink.co.uk/competitions/writing-prompt-competition/ – if you fancy a go too!

My Mum Always Knows

My mum always knows
when what I say’s not true.
And when I tell the smallest lie,
She even knows then too.

Like once I said I didn’t eat
the biscuits from the tin.
But she looked into my eyes
and said, “Lying is a sin.”

I felt guilty then and wasn’t sure
what I was meant to say.
Apologise and I’d get caught,
that dreaded biscuit day.

So I said, “No, really mum,
it really wasn’t me.
I knew the rules and never would
have biscuits before tea.” 

She looked at me so sadly,
disappointment filled her eyes.
And as she looked at me like that,
the lie inside me died.

“Ok, Mum. I’m really sorry
In fact it was probably me,
I think I might have stolen
some biscuits before tea.


I really am quite sorry,
I never should have lied.”
But she just walked away,
shook her head, tutted and sighed.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Menu

This poem was inspired by our son’s love of baking, cooking, tasting and creating some truly unique dishes!

The Menu

In my kitchen I can make
Chocolate soup, 
Ice-cube pie,
Spaghetti with banana.

Sandwich milk,
Carrot toast
And dinner for a Llama.

Yoghurt eggs,
Avocado cake,
Cereal with jelly.
Bacon Lemonade
And tea served in a welly.

The specials are
Pasta, 
served with broccoli flavoured lollies.

Be sure to bring your appetite,
Your raincoats and your brollies.

Posted in Uncategorized

Goldfish

This weekend was our son’s fourth birthday. From his younger sister he received a goldfish tank and we all took a trip to the local pet shop to purchase three new family members: Sugar-puffs, Muffin and Garage.

Gold fish are the archetypal children’s pet and I have fond memories of my own goldfish from years gone by. So in memory of my childhood fish here’s a little poem I wrote about them…[NB: no goldfish were eaten during the composition of this poem]

Marvin and Marlene
I have two orange goldfish
they’re called Marvin and Marlene.
It’s my job to feed them
and make sure that they’re clean.

It’s a pretty big responsibility
for someone small like me.
My dad says if I can’t manage it
he’ll have chips and fish for tea.

Posted in Uncategorized

I Don’t Wear Those Pants

It never fails to surprise me – the number of excuses a three year old can make when they don’t want to do something. They are world class masters in the art of avoidance and distraction, not least when they are required to do something as simple as put on a pair of pants. This poem was inspired by that very experience.

I Don’t Wear Those Pants

Mum says put your pants on 
But I say, no.
I can’t wear those pants I tell her
And here’s why, I go:

Chefs wear pants with eggs on
And Builder’s pants have bricks.
A Doctor’s pants have plasters 
And a Gardener’s have sticks.

If you’re a Painter you have brushes
And a Vet has mice and rats.
A Teacher’s pants have pencils
A Hat Salesman, he has hats. 

My mum just doesn’t get it,
She doesn’t seem to see.
I can’t wear blue pants, stripes or spots,
Those pants all don’t show me.

My pants would need adventures,
They’d need clever plans and codes.
They’d need zooms and zags and ziggles
And twenty-seven modes.

My pants would need to be curious,
They’d have to be able to climb.
My pants would need sparkles and sprinkles
And they’d need to tell the time. 

My pants would have super speedy stripes,
And colour-changing frazzle.
I can’t wear the pants my mum chose,
My bum deserves to dazzle.