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 So for now my picture books and chapter books remain firmly unpublished and waiting for that magic agent or spectacular rewrite when I come back to them again later.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 children's wrier, Writing, writing for children

Habits

If you Google the word ‘Habit’, the definition is ‘a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up’ and even more enjoyably, the example given is, “he has an annoying habit of interrupting me” – I’d love to know the author behind that one – it’s not hard to imagine the morning they experienced before sitting down at work to generate definitions for the Google dictionary. Because, presumably, that is a job – and actually it’s not wholly unlike the job I’ve found myself doing for the past two months.

Because I am… currently… being… PAID TO WRITE!

Every aspiring author’s dream. Someone is giving me money in exchange for my words. And it feels amazing. It also feels a little bit surprising as what I am being paid to write is a far cry from children’s picture books and novels. Much like the Google dictionary examples author, I am being paid to write online content for a website but my exact job title hasn’t been divulged to me. It is a temporary cover job and I guess the closest I’ve come to being able to give it a title is “Business Analyst Marketing Person”.

But hey – it’s writing! It’s also given me a lot to think about with regards to my other writing. We will call that hobby writing for now, as it is yet to be published and no money has so far magically appeared as a result of it. I have learnt three things from my paid writing job which I have no doubt will help me to improve my hobby writing. I’ve also set three writing targets.

  1. Write Every Day

Business analysis and marketing is not something I planned to do but now I am doing it, I am loving it. I love writing everyday and I know that my writing is improving. Like any skill, the more you do it the better you’re going to get. It’s very easy with hobby writing to wait until you feel creative or put off writing because it isn’t paying bills or getting things done, but actually that just means it’s easy not to do it. Being forced to write every day (because hey, I’ve got targets and deadlines now – real accountability) means I have written every day and every day I write, what I write improves.
WRITING TARGET 1: Write 1000-2000 words a day in April to complete YA novel.

2. Do Your Research

There are lots of things I don’t know – Google is my friend at the moment. I am having to learn about things and conduct research and find out new knowledge that I didn’t ever know I would need. If I don’t do my research then writing these articles becomes a much greater challenge. This got me thinking – I don’t naturally lean towards research when I am hobby writing. I only write fiction – stuff I make up in my head – so what would I research exactly? Well, it turns out – there’s loads of stuff! The novel I am working on at the moment involves chapters which take place in a secondary school. Why wouldn’t I research what secondary school is like today? What it feels like to be a student in one? Of course I should!
WRITING TARGET 2: Interview our lovely neighbours who happen to be secondary school students – whose knowledge won’t be over a decade out of date…

3. Live and Breathe Your Writing

I expect if I manage points 1 and 2 then point 3 will happen naturally. At the moment I am bombarded with information about the businesses I am writing about. If I Google something then 5 minutes later more articles about it will appear in my Newsfeed, my phone will buzz with advertisements via social media on the topic – the more I research what I am writing, the more I am confronted by it. If I can harness the power of the algorithms through researching the right things, then my writing devices will literally embody my hobby writing. Likewise, the more frequently I sit down to write, the more I will be immersing myself in the world of my novel.
WRITING TARGET 3: Get lost in the world I am creating. This one is a bit abstract, but I think authors are allowed to get away with this sort of thing.

Habit: “a settled or regular tendency or practice” – this bit is the part which requires effort but the effort which goes into creating a regular practice of writing will inevitably lead to the exciting part which is when you make it ‘especially hard to give up’. Writing 2000 words a day in April is an ambitious but exciting challenge and I am looking forward to completing a first draft of the story I am planning.

Alternatively I’ve also read recently about ‘Piggybacking habits’ – this is where you attach one habit to another. For example, if you need to remember to take medicine in the morning you might put it next to your toothbrush. If you know you’re going to clean your teeth everyday then you can piggyback a new habit on at the same time.

Of course this opens up a whole world of writing possibilities – stanzas in the shower, limericks on the loo, perhaps a novel whilst I nap. Suddenly forming a new writing habit has never seemed so much fun!

Posted in Uncategorized

World Book Day

It seems wrong for an aspiring author not to mention the magic that is today – World Book Day – and so I present this honorary blog post where I share my World of Books. 

There is an ancient video somewhere of my mum reading The Family at Red Roofs by Enid Bylton to me at bedtime – I have no memory of the story or it being read to me but I love watching the video because it captures the magic of the shared story experience. An experience which starts the reading journey for most children – listening to stories at bedtime.

I do remember listening to The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl, a story which our four year old son is now enjoying listening to all these years later. I remember listening to story cassette tapes in the car on long journeys – yes, tapes. A concept which will be lost on our children, who listen to stories via the wifi and a magnetic character sensor.

The first chapter books I remember reading were the Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels – I devoured them all – Puppies in the Pantry, Kittens in the Kitchen, Hedgehogs in the Hall…well, you get the idea! They were the perfect blend of slightly different stories in the exact same format each time – classic early reader stories. Years later I would learn that my beloved Lucy Daniels was not an author, or even a real person, she was a group of writers all trained to deliver the predictable animal tomfoolery I’d loved. My mind was blown. 

My favourite childhood book was Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine, a retelling of the traditional tale Cinderella – but in this version, Ella saves herself by being kind. Female empowerment and kindness in one book – I still read it once a year or so, just because. Closely followed by Louis Sachar’s Holes. 

Much later, in adulthood, I first read some of my favourite Young Adult novels – Junk by Melvin Burgess, Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, Wonder by RJ Palacio, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon…now I’ve started remembering, I feel guilty for having favourites, but there have been so many amazing books I’ve read over the years I would be here all night listing them. 

An interest in theatre and performance saw me consuming works by Ibsen, Shakespeare, Caryl Churchill and poetry by Benjamin Zephaniah, Carol Anne Duffy and John Agard.

My two best friends often give me books as presents – always winners whether children’s books, non-fiction or stories aimed at adults; they know me, so they know what I’ll love or what I should read. They love sharing the books which they’ve loved reading and I love them for that. My husband is very tolerant of me reading books over his shoulder – he begins each new book reminding me that I can always read it after he’s finished but by page 50 he has inevitably started talking about the plot and characters until I am hooked in and spy-read his book disjointedly whilst also reading my own. 

My favourite authors for adults are Susan Hill, Ben Elton and Jussi Adler Olsen – a trio of drama, darkness, horror, thriller and social commentary. I love books which make me think and make me feel – and these authors are my guilty pleasure. They are the books which stay with me long after I’ve finished reading them. I also love books which make me laugh out loud – a recent joy has been the Rosie trilogy of books by Graeme Simsion, the genius who created Don Tillman – one of my favourite fictional characters of all time. 

It seems to me that reading is about sharing – from the earliest memories of being read to, to the excitement of reading and sharing an amazing book with someone else, right into the core of reading itself – an author sharing the world they have created with the reader. I would love to hear about your favourite books and hope you feel inspired to share them.

So Happy World Book Day to you – now, go share a book!

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

Filth

The mud cannot be avoided. It has been raining on-off for weeks now and all our favourite walks currently require a full outfit change (and sometimes even a shower) upon our return home.

One of the undeniably joyful things about being a parent is the fact that it is once more socially acceptable to jump in puddles and slide around in mud. Why we stop doing that as we grow up is beyond me. It’s good for the soul, if not the washing machine.

This poem was inspired by our children and their love of mud.

FILTH

Oozy, squoozy, slimy, stinky, squishy, squashy,
Mud.
On my hands and arms and face and gluing my hair together.
It’s my favourite game.
Digging, filling, pouring, mixing, splatting, slopping,
Mud. 
Mum joins in. She makes mud concrete for construction toys to move.
My little sister pulls funny faces 
But even she loves stamping, stomping, squelching, squashing
Mud.
Then dad looks at us and his eyes go wide,
popping, bulging, straining, craning, staring at all the
Filth. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Finding Pace

Last night I was sat poring over another draft of a picture book text I have been working on for over a year now. Yep, you heard right. A picture book text of less than 800 words and here I am a year later, still working on it. It’s one of my favourite story ideas but something has been sticking, niggling away at the back of my mind, keeping me awake at 4am as I try to work out what it is. Then last night, I got it.

We were listening to the music of a friend of ours. His new album arrived on Spotify yesterday (you can listen here) and after dinner, kids in bed, tea poured, we sat down to listen. My first thought was this: I don’t listen to enough classical music. It was truly beautiful and wonderfully calming.

A memory of secondary school music lessons popped into my head (quite impressive as my memory is genuinely pretty awful) – when we would sit listening to music and the teacher would ask us to think about the pace of the music and the impact it had on us as it changed.

As the music I was listening to continued, I tried to apply this technique. How did I feel? Which images did it conjure? How did the pace of the music change those images?

And then my picture book suddenly made sense. I’d been re-writing the words, sometimes in rhyme, sometimes in prose, for a year now. New words, different words, the same words in different orders. But the one thing I had been ignoring was the pace of the story.

It seems so obvious now, re-reading the most recent draft. It’s a good story but the pace doesn’t match the action. It’s a fast paced story, with non-stop action but the language was too flowery, too detailed, too slow. I had to ramp up the pace, create more tension, keep the flow of the story going – and then bring the pace back in as the story concluded.

I needed to write the story like a piece of music – preferably like the Benny Hill theme song, that level of bounce and bumble.

When I asked my husband to re-read the story (draft 1 million and 4…) his first comment afterwards was that I’d cut down the word count. I hadn’t. The word count was exactly the same as the previous version he’d read but he’d read this version with increased energy and speed thanks to the change in pace.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the words we put down – the notes of the story – but I am so grateful for the reminder to write with pace in mind and to craft a story like a piece of music, taking the reader on a journey as you write.

Posted in Writing

The Blank Piece of Paper

A blank piece of paper – depending on your feelings about generating new ideas for writing – can be either the most daunting or most exciting starting point for a writer. 

Let’s assume for a minute it’s the most daunting. The panic of having to put something on the paper and the possibility that what you do eventually put down might be absolute rubbish is generally the reason this bit is scary – not to mention the now mounting pressure on your creative mind to come up with something, anything, because now it’s been an hour and there’s absolutely NOTHING on the paper. How will I ever be a writer when I can’t even think of the first word? 

Luckily I am still very much in the ideas stage – there’s no pressure on me to come up with a new idea to meet a deadline or prove I’m not a one-trick pony. Right now I’m still looking for the first trick so I get to enjoy this bit – the ideas bit. 

At the moment I am taking part in an online creative exercise called Story Storm:

Each day in January an author writes a blog post about where they go for their inspiration, how they generate ideas, where creativity stems from for them. I am 17 days in and it’s been fascinating to read and certainly inspiring to have a constant stream of ways to generate ideas trickling into my inbox. 

Guess what – there is no right or wrong way to be creative. We are all capable of creativity, some of us are interested in harnessing it and taming it into some form of hobby or career, others are happy being creative as and when it is needed (my Dad is very creative with his use of duct tape to solve any household problem he comes across…) 

When I teach creative writing in schools, the generating ideas part, the blank page, is often as daunting for children as it is for adults. I want children to love creating stories and to be excited about writing down their ideas – they certainly are not shy when they are first learning to tell stories. The number of stories about dragon poo I’ve listened to our four year old enthusiastically deliver could stretch to a ten part series. But once children are sitting down in a classroom with that blank piece of paper their insecurities and worries can start to block their creativity.

So how do we engage children with writing? I don’t mean the classic story mountain planning sheet or the basics of sentence structure and correct grammar. Those things are important in their own way, of course, but how do we harness that inbuilt creativity children demonstrate all the time in their play, without accidentally instilling in them the fear of a blank page?

We must be silly. We must be playful. We must be active. 

And we must never be afraid of demonstrating our own creativity and thought processes when it comes to writing. Show them a blank page and show them that there’s nothing to be afraid of. One of my favourite activities in the classroom with younger writers was to ask them to shout out the first word which popped into their heads – even if that meant saying the name of something they could see in the room, or their own name, there was no wrong answer. Then bung some of them up on the board and start filling in your own blank page. 

Now our page isn’t blank anymore and we can start generating ideas. Let’s imagine the words on the board are DINOSAUR, TOILET (There’s always one kid who says toilet…), CHAIR, LIGHT, SANDWICH – I might say something like this,

Wow! This is a brilliant story you’ve written. Look – There’s a dinosaur who eats chairs. He loves eating chairs so much that soon no-one has anywhere to sit. You’ll never guess what – everyone has to sit on the lights instead. Well, hang off them really. All the children hang off the lights at lunchtime trying to eat their sandwiches. When the dinosaur runs out of chairs to eat in the school he starts looking for other places people sit down. Uhoh, you got it – he starts eating all the toilets! 

OK, it’s not Shakespeare but if done well it should have the desired effect of relaxing the anxieties around generating ideas and normally has the children in fits of giggles. As they get used to the idea, they start coming up with their own story ideas for the words they’ve generated on the board. 

So what did we learn? It’s okay to be silly and make up ‘a load of rubbish’ because writing should be fun and silly and some of the best authors for children tap into this world and capture children’s imaginations by doing exactly that. So go now and write it – write some rubbish down on a blank piece of paper and then have fun trying to turn it into something silly. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Forwards and Backwards

When I met my half-Danish husband eleven years ago, he introduced me to Danish culture. Denmark isn’t somewhere I’d been before or knew very much about – I was more of an Ikea girl, myself. Fast forward a few years and a huge explosion and celebration of all things Danish happened in the UK and suddenly everyone was talking about Hygge and candles and a seemingly endless list of reasons to bring out more food and drink, and all the other things I’d been hearing about since 2009. If only I’d realised how big Denmark would suddenly be over here, I’d have written the damn book myself. Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing. I didn’t write a book about Hygge and share this secret Danish cosiness with the world, but hats off to those who did.

Besides Hygge, a favourite Danish insight my husband introduced me to is the saying, “frem og tilbage er lige langt”, the sentiment doesn’t translate exactly, but in our house we refer to it as simply this, “Forwards and backwards is the same distance.” Often it crops up on long journeys when we’ve taken a wrong turn and have to retrace our steps. It makes sense literally, if you take a step forwards it is the same distance as if you take a step backwards, but I mostly enjoy the sense of acceptance and calm which it brings. It doesn’t matter which direction you’re going in, rather that you simply are going.

It’s the end of 2020. What a year. Go backwards 365 days and imagine being told what your year would be like. Back then, it was just a great piece of fiction – I’d read it. I’d watched it in countless post-apocalyptic films (another passion my husband introduced me to). I have to say I’ve enjoyed candles and good food much more than apes and space travel, but that’s probably for another discussion. Now skip forwards 365 days. Suddenly making New Year’s resolutions (as a list lover this is a favourite past time of mine) seems daunting…futile… or perhaps we are just worried about tempting fate again? Who started 2020 announcing that “this will be my year” – how on earth do we begin planning for the next one?

Yet plan we do. Something must keep us going and plodding on or we would just end up standing still. So I have duly taken out one of my favourite notebooks and written 2021 at the top. What do I want to achieve in 2021? So much of this year has felt like adapting, responding, damage limitation, survival – for some, these are feelings which might have sparked creativity and passion and energy, for others they have caused anxiety, worry, confusion and the rest of us, perhaps, have muddled along somewhere in the middle.

For me, I had grandiose ideas about becoming a published author in 2020. Back in January I thought a year was generous, a safety net of 365 days but how long do these things really take? Much like the rest of my ideas about 2020, I was wrong.

I have made my own website, approached literary agents and publishers, joined writing forums, shared my writing with other writers, been awarded an honourable mention, got to the semi-finals of a major writing competition and most importantly, I’ve written. Not every day and not always consistently, but I have produced stories and poems and blog posts of which I am proud, which have kept me motivated during the harder parts of 2020 and created hope that one day this is something I will be able to call a career and not just a hobby. Perhaps a year to be published was too ambitious? Perhaps in this particular year, even more so, just because it didn’t happen in 2020 doesn’t mean it will never happen.

We’ve heard so much this year about hope and kindness and generosity and how much good can stem from so much sadness. I think at their core, New Year’s Resolutions are about being hopeful and optimistic which is probably why I have always loved writing them. I’ve never lost the two stone I write down on the list every year but that doesn’t stop me writing it down and starting the year eating healthily and off the booze. Maybe 2021 is the year I have a healthy BMI and a published story and maybe it’s not, but I don’t want to give up trying and hoping and working towards my goals because I’m scared I might not meet them.

After all, if forwards and backwards are the same distance then it doesn’t really matter where you end up, as long as you keep moving.

Posted in Uncategorized

Honourable Mention

Back sometime near the beginning of 2020 I entered a writing competition. Full disclosure – I didn’t win.

I did, however, get an “Honourable Mention” from the judges which pinged through on an email back in October. I told a few people, not many, and some suggested writing a post about it.

I’ve been avoiding writing said post for a while now and I expect that it’s mostly down to misplaced embarrassment. Who dances around because they got an honourable mention? I wasn’t even a finalist. There was the winner, the people shortlisted and then at the bottom of the pile the HMs. To be honest I felt a bit silly being excited about it.

It doesn’t help that the phrase “honourable mention” is imprinted on my brain as the award Monica and Ross receive in their eighth grade school talent show’s brother-sister dance category, with their famous performance of “The Routine”. If you don’t know what I’m referring to then we are probably on very different life paths. Go watch Season 6, episode 10 of Friends immediately and then get back to me.

They are so proud of their achievement – which of course creates that wonderful humour which stems from dramatic irony. How many brother-sister acts actually entered the eighth grade talent show after all? Yet they are so proud of their HM in what we can only assume was a very limited pool of contestants.

I guess, to my shame, I was worried that my HM announcement might be received in the same way and I really didn’t want to be doing “The Routine” on a blog post and leaving myself vulnerable.

Then I read an article by a lady who has been writing (unpublished) for 20 years. Imagine that. Other writers popped up in the comments; 5 years, 7 years, 10 years until they had a positive reply from an agent or publisher. And here I am in year 1 of actively pursuing my goal of being published. Who am I to laugh at an honourable mention? It’s a start and I am only at the beginning after all.

The main advice the other authors gave about keeping yourself motivated on the (potentially) long road to publication was this – celebrate every small step; shout about every little win; be proud of the HMs and the long lists and the almosts and the not bads and the maybes and actually be proud of this fact – you entered the competition in the first place and you put yourself out there and said hey, this is my writing, World.

Look – there’s even a link. Scroll down and my name is really there – with all the other amazing Honourable Mentions.

https://literarytaxidermy.com/news.html

Next step, the podium at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve to show everyone that yes it’s a small step to get an HM but it’s still a step and that’s worth dancing about.

And just for fun, here’s two of our best friends performing ‘The Routine’ like absolute lockdown legends…