Witches’ Knickers!

Happy New Year everyone!

I started a new, full time job last year (right at the start of lockdown) and my blog posts have dried up as a result, (good job I’m using the free version of WordPress).

So I’ve tended to just post when I’ve got news, and guess what?

Yep. There’s news 😉

I have published a collection of my short stories, now available on Amazon as an e-book (and soon in paperback too).

Martha is tidying the hedgerows while she tries to ignore what a mess her life is in.

Molly and her sisters are about to uncover a family secret.

Kelly is beginning to suspect that this spy training lark isn’t the fun adventure she’d hoped it would be.

Patsy is about to confront an old mistake.

Join them, and many other characters, in these fourteen contemporary short stories by Angela Wooldridge.

I should mention at this point that there aren’t any witches in it. Or knickers for that matter, but don’t let that put you off 😉

This is a collection of my contemporary stories. Many have been published in national magazines, others have cropped up elsewhere, some haven’t been seen before. Just click the link for some entertaining, easy reads to lighten your life in lockdown!

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

‘Tis the season to take Advent-age of cool freebies!

It’s been a few months since I last blogged, but I make no apologies as I doubt anyone noticed – life has been a bit busy. For everyone.

December is nearly here (or already here depending when you read this), and that means it’s time for this year’s Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar.

You could just go to the link and click on each day as it becomes available, and read the fantastic story for that day. (Yes – an advent calendar for readers! And it’s free!)

OR you could sign up to the mailing list. That way, you get a reminder email each day along with an extra from the author as well as all the stories as an ebook on Christmas day!

My story this year is… (drumroll…)

Santa vs Aliens (or: Snakes on a Spaceship!)

No, I don’t know what day it’ll be though, so you’ll just have to click the number each day until it shows up. But that’s ok – there will be plenty of other stories to keep you entertained 🙂

Posted in General | Tagged , | 3 Comments

A-Z of Fictional Characters: O is for Olwyn

I’ve had a block on this blogging thread as I couldn’t think of a character starting with ‘O’.

(Ok, so there’s Othello and Ophelia, but I didn’t fancy writing about them. In fact now that I’ve written this I’m sure hundreds of ‘O’s will now spring to mind, but that’s veering us away from my point).

I got so fed up of trying to think of one that I made up my own.

(I like this idea – maybe I should do an A-Z of my own characters next… but I’m veering off topic again).

So. Meet Olwyn. She’s a witch.

Available for pre-order now

It coincided with my requirement to write a flash story for an anthology my writing group is bringing out on National Flash Fiction Day (June 6th). Originally she was pregnant and had cravings for spinach, but that turned out to just be a starter to get me into the story. She’s still a witch, I definitely wanted her to be a witch – I was determined that our anthology should have a little fantasy or witchiness in it. What I hadn’t accounted for was that it would turn into a love story, and there may be a tiny nod to the movie, Bell, Book and Candle (although only a very tiny one – it is flash fiction after all).

So, if you’d like to meet Olwyn, (and lots of other characters – I have 3 stories in the anthology, and there are lots of other fab stories by my fellow writers who are all marvellous), check out Flashlight. It’s only 99p on Amazon, and will be out of June 6th, which is National Flash Fiction day.

(And of course one of the beauties of flash fiction stories is that they’re all very short, so you don’t have to invest too much time in reading them. They’re perfect for on the bus, in the bath, with a cup of tea or just to send you off into your dreams at night…)



Posted in A-Z of Fictional Characters, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Time for a change…

I spent a lot of time last year (and the year before), submitting, re-writing and again submitting The Merewoods Witches to various agents and competitions.

I got a couple of ‘nearlys’. But nearly isn’t good enough, and yesterday I found that not only did I not make it to the longlist for the Writementor Children’s Novel Prize, I didn’t even make it to the top 100.

I know everyone says not to give up, blah, blah, blah, but it’s time to pop Skye and Poggit on the shelf for a while and concentrate on something else.

I’m not leaving them forever. I’ve invested too much time and effort in them, as have all the lovely people who’ve beta read for me (and I hate to think their time might have been wasted).

I love my characters, and feedback shows that other people like them too. They like my writing, the characters, and the setting. It’s just… I think the story’s not strong enough, and there are so many other ‘apprentice witch’ stories out there that agents aren’t looking for more right now.

So maybe in a year or two I’ll find the right story for my witch and her family. We’ll let it brew for a while and see what ferments.

So, what now?

Well, I’m re-writing a book I wrote a few years back which has the working title of Goat Girl. Let’s see if I can get some agent interest with that. At least all my submitting practise from last year will be put to good use.

At the same time I’m impatient. I want to be traditionally published and I believe that it’s the right avenue for my MG books. But it’s a looong process, and I’m hungry for publication. So I’m following the example of my writer friend Suzanne Fox, and am also writing another novel with the intention of self-publishing it.

This will be an adult paranormal / mystery / romance. I won’t need to panic about the word count (I tend to write ‘lean’ which is fine for MG, but adult novels expect more), and I can get something out there in front of an audience.

So that’s two strings on my bow, three if you count my short stories. Let’s take aim and see where the arrows fall this year…

Posted in Writing | Tagged | 8 Comments

Storytime Blog Hop: Culture Sharing

Hello and welcome to my first post of a new decade!

I’m kicking off with the first Storytime Blog Hop of the year, where writers around the world unite with a bit of story sharing. So put your feet up, grab a cuppa and click the links for lots of cool stories.

My story is one I wrote for the Indie Authors Advent Calendar a few years ago. There is a slight christmassy theme, but hey, what’s in a date? 😉

Culture Sharing

by Angela Wooldridge

We’ve got this Yuletide festival coming up,” said Kai. “It’s supposed to teach us about different cultures, and make everyone on board feel like a community. Dad says it’s pointless, the contractors stick together and the long-haulers do too. This one’s kinda fun though. There’s a big feast and everyone gets presents. We get to decorate the community areas, like they used to back on Earth. Hey, maybe we should decorate you?”

She peered up into the leaves of the walnut tree she leaned against. “Would you like that? I saw a picture of a tree with stars and things hanging from it. I’ll bring some for you tomorrow.”

The idea took root as she made her way back to her family quarters. She’d helped out in hydroponics ever since her work experience stint there aged 10, three years ago. Reporting the day’s news to the old tree at the heart of the Deep Space Exploration ship, Hermione, was a secret habit she’d picked up from Webler, the old guy she’d buddied with at the time. When he’d died last year it had only seemed right to carry on.

* * *

Dad, can I borrow some of the Yuletide decorations?” she asked at breakfast next morning.

Sure.” He barely glanced up from the screen he was frowning at. “We were issued far too much.”

I thought it’d be nice to put some around the ‘ponics section,” she said vaguely.

Ok.” Then her words sank in, and he looked up. “Actually you’d better steer clear of there today.”

What’s wrong?”

With a huge crew, chartered for generations of travel, growing their own food was imperative. If there was something wrong in Hydroponics, the Hermione was in trouble.

But Dad worked in Security. Why would he be involved?

They don’t know yet. Something spread through the vents overnight.”

He was interrupted as his comms unit buzzed.

How the hell did it get that far?” he barked. “Is it a bio hazard or an alien life form?”

He listened to whoever was squeaking in his ear. “Well find out. Fast. Sorry Kai,” he reached over and ruffled her hair. “I have to go.”

Kai worried about it as she cleared away the breakfast things, and couldn’t resist stopping at Hydroponics on her way to school.

Hey, Kid! You can’t go in there!”

I’ve got a delivery.” She waved her rucksack and dashed through the entry before anyone could stop her.

There was no sign of pursuit as she wove through the farm pods and on to the oxygenators section. Most plants on board had more than one purpose, and many of the trees were fruiting varieties.

The walnut tree stood on a small rise at the centre, its branches spreading out and up.

I said I’d get you some decorations, didn’t I?” She scrambled up the short trunk, pulling a rainbow of coloured paper from her bag, and proceeded to hang stars and lanterns from the branches.

She jumped down, and brushed off her palms. The gaudy decorations took on a solemn beauty hanging from the tree.

They suit you.” She patted the trunk, but there was no answering rustle. It was as if its attention was elsewhere.

Back at the exit, she squatted beneath the low hanging branches of a cherry tree to watch what was going on. A group near the bio-controls had taken the floor panels up and were peering below. She was so engrossed, she didn’t hear movement until someone grabbed her shoulder.

Gotcha! You’re the kid who gave me the slip earlier!”

She was marched over to the others, who drew back to reveal a taller figure crouched at the edge of the hole.

Oh no, she winced.

Kai? What are you doing here?” Of course it was Dad. She hung her head. “Wait there, young lady. I have to deal with this first.” He turned away.

She avoided the stares of his team. She tried so hard to do the right thing, now this would be what everyone remembered. But they weren’t paying attention to her.

Is it organic?”

Take a sample!”

Wouldn’t that be seen as an attack?”

And clogging up our vents isn’t?”

Enough!” Dad’s order shut them up. “It hasn’t responded to the known galactic forms of address. We need a sample to figure out what it is.”

Someone handed him a cutting tool.

Kai edged away but gasped suddenly, unable to breathe at a sharp pain in her head. A mental scream shot through her brain.

Stop!” She dropped to her knees at the edge of the floor recess. “Dad, you have to stop this!”

Not now, Kai.”

He crouched in the floorspace, about to make a second cut in the mass spreading along the floor. It was immediately obvious to Kai what it was, but most of these people had never seen a tree let alone its roots. He laid his cutter against the root.

Arrrghhh!” Kai screamed. Couldn’t they feel that? “Dad! Stop! Its alive!”

He drew back, shocked, not just by his daughter’s screams, but the unmistakeable flinch of the substance he was cutting into.

What’s going on?” asked someone.

He held up his hand. “Kai?”

Trembling, Kai looked down at her dad. “It’s alive, Dad. It’s the tree.” She explained what she had only just begun to understand. “There’s a tree at the centre of the ship that provides food, nutrients and, most importantly, air. Over the years its roots have become enmeshed with the ecosystem; as the light, water and air it takes in to stay alive is recycled from our bodies and lungs, and the earth it draws from is composted down from our waste, it really has become a part of the ship. And it’s curious. A report a day from Webler and me isn’t enough any more. It wants to get to know everyone.”

* * *

Merry Christmas, one and all!”

Dad raised his glass to take in the mixed group of people around the tree. They’d all brought a gift to hang from it, and, as if in thanks, it had showered them with walnuts. They’d appreciated the intention, and ignored the odd sore head.

Happy?” He slung an arm about Kai’s shoulders, looking more relaxed than she’d seen him look in months.

She smiled. “It was cool to have a secret. But it’s even nicer share it. Merry Christmas, Tree.”

A branch waved and she felt a whisper of air across her face.

Image by Pat_Scrap from Pixabay


Here are the links to the other stories, Happy reading!

Sisters by Barbara Lund
Rogue Ring by Katharina Gerlach
Grim Failures by Bill Bush
Secrets by Gina Fabio
The Daughter of Disappearing Creek by Karen Lynn
The Gynnos Seeker Project by Juneta Key
Mugging Morpheus by Vanessa Wells
A Little Off the Top by Tyler Vawter
Shores of Lamentation, by Melanie Drake
Syrojax Lends a Claw by Nic Steven

Posted in Storytime Blog Hops | Tagged | 11 Comments

Review of the year

A few times this year I’ve mentioned things I’ve been about to do, but not followed up with the results, so here’s my review of what I’ve been up to in 2019.

This year I…

Submitted my novel to 11 agents. Of those there are 2 I’m still waiting to hear from. The rest either politely declined or didn’t reply.

This year I…

Came 2nd in a local pitching competition. One of the judges was very keen to work with me. On closer inspection I decided it wasn’t for me. She runs a consultancy / publishing company that provides various services for self publishing (editing, proofing, cover atr, marketing etc). However, these services would cost me (they are a business, after all), and as I want to pursue the traditional publishing route, it didn’t align with my goals.

So, while it was nice to come 2nd (always the bridesmaid!) and have someone so enthusiastic about my work, it didn’t accomplish much else. Oh – except that it didn’t cost me anything and it did give me the opportunity to pitch my novel in front of an audience, which was what I wanted to get out of the experience.

This year I…

Applied for Writementor.

What is it?

Specific to writers of children’s and Young Adult books, a number of authors volunteer to mentor an as yet unpublished writer over the summer; either working on the whole MS or their submission package. Successful mentees then get to take part in an ‘agents showcase’.

I was shortlisted by 2 mentors (you get to submit to 3), but unfortunately didn’t get to be their final choice. (Once again; always the bridesmaid!)

This year I…

Took part in a pitching workshop.

This was in preparation for the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Agent’s Party (which I’ll mention in a bit.)

It was a 2 hour workshop in London, which for me also meant 3 hours travel each way.

Was it worthwhile? Yes… and no.

It was a great opportunity to receive advice and guidance from people with experience in the pitching process. It was also good to meet other SCBWI members and practice pitching to them (and learning from listening to theirs too).

But it was a long way to go for it. If you live nearby, then yes, definitely value for money and worthwhile. While I don’t regret having taken part, I wouldn’t do it again.

This year I…

Attended the SCBWI Agents Party.

An author event specific to SCBWI members. The first part of the evening involved 2 panel discussions by agents. In the second half of the evening, those agents were set up at tables around the room and everybody had the opportunity to pitch to at least 2 of them.

Again, this was in London and involved long hours of travel and a hotel for me. This time I thought that worthwhile. A number of people expressed surprise at how far I’d come, but I figure that if you’re serious about something, you put in the mileage when it matters.

However, I noticed that it’s a different kind of event depending on your proximity. If you live closer, you’re more likely to go out of curiosity; some people didn’t want to pitch, just to observe or network.

What do you get out of pitching like this?

As far as I can tell, from the agent’s angle it costs very little to say, ‘sure, send in your submission.’ From your point of view, it may get you a little higher up the slush pile as you can say, ‘Oh, I met you at x event,’ but ultimately it still comes down to your submission package. (Unless you have the best pitch ever and a glowing personailty, but even – hopefully – that won’t help if your writing sucks.)

So, yes. Worthwhile, but once (for me) is enough. I want an agent before the next one, and if it hasn’t worked this time, why would it work next time?

This year I…

Had a 121 with an agent.

This is an opportunity that crops up at festivals and conferences. Again, great if you can afford the travel and the tickets. This opportunity arose through Writementor, who hosted an online conference this year, with workshops, talks etc all online. Fantastic for those people who can’t make it to the real world events.

Yes, it costs money, but not a fortune. The agent received the first 20 pages of my MS ahead of time and I then had a 10 minute skype session with her to talk about it. It was incredibly useful. I got great feedback, with really positive comments on my writing, and I don’t feel that there would have been any reason or point in her being anything but homest, which is immensely cheering.

I have since submitted formally to her and she requested the whole MS, but I haven’t heard anything further. Sod’s law now dictates that I’ll get a rejection in the next 48 hours, but even so, I’d hope that given the connection so far, I’d get a solid reason as to why.

(Well, I’ll let you know on that one anyhow).

And finally, this year I…

Went on a writing retreat!

It’s one of those things I’d wanted to do ever since I learned it was a thing!

It was great. No matter how much I’d worried about justifying the expense. How guilty I felt in leaving my husband to sort out the kids for a week. It was worth it. (Besides, he’d balanced that out with a ski trip!) It was worth it for that week of clear headspace to just think about writing and to forge bonds with other writers. If you get the chance – just do it.

That’s it from me on the blog for this year. Have a fantastic Christmas and all the best for the New Year 🙂

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , | 10 Comments


It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!

Do stop by and say hello to them!

This month’s question is: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever googled in researching a story?

My reply is probably not the strangest (and I should imagine there are going to be some corkers this month!) but it’s the one that instantly springs to mind.

It’s because I managed to download a virus when I was searching how to figure out how faster than light space travel differs from real time travel. Ie if it takes you 2 weeks to get there by ftl, how long would it take the slow way.

I was trying to be accurate for a short story, but in the end I got so confused by the science that I concluded that if I’d never thought to question any of the many sci-fi novels I’d read, I could probably get away with it too. (And I did).

It’s just as well I came to that conclusion as my laptop suddenly started blaring alerts and I shut it down in a panic.

I’m looking forward to discovering everyone else’s replies. Meanwhile please wish me luck for Friday… I offered to do a talk on ‘what to do with your short stories’ for my local literary festival, and they’ve sold tickets..! eek!

Posted in IWSG | Tagged | 7 Comments

IWSG Oct: Should writers read?

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

Do stop by and say hello to them!

This month’s optional question is:

It’s been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don’t enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

My first comment would be that by becoming a writer who does read, is where you discover that all those ideas aren’t so original after all! That’s when you start to dig deeper with your imagination.

The more I tried to answer this question, the more irate I found myself at the arrogance of someone who thinks they can write without bothering to read.

How do you empathise with your reader if you don’t read, yourself?

How do you learn?

How do you learn to get better?

It’s like trying to sit an exam without revising! (And I should know, because in my teens I had this stupid idea that I should be able to pass my exams through natural ability, otherwise wasn’t it a form of deceit that I ‘knew’ all this stuff? – Little did I realise then that you retain the bits that are useful, forget the rest and look it up if you need to.)

Natural ability is great, but if you extend that reasoning, then every book would be a first draft, without benefit of editors or feedback.

How can you know if anything is any good if you don’t have anything to compare it to?

If your reply to that last one is that you rely on other people to do those things, then you either have buckets of cash, or you’re living in a dream world. Because unless you can afford to pay someone to edit everything you write (in which case, how does it differ to being a mix of you and someone else?) then you rely on the goodwill of the writing community, where you help each other out by reading and critiquing each other’s work, which again, takes you out of your pristine reading-free vaccuum.

In short, good luck if you don’t think you need to read in order to write. You’re either a genius or an idiot, and both are outside of the circles I run in.

(Gosh! Didn’t realise I felt so strongly about that! Bring on the comments!)

Posted in IWSG | Tagged | 11 Comments

#IWSG September: Upping my game?

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; Gwen Gardner, Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantiner!

Do stop by and say hello to them!

Today feels like a bit of a crazy day. And where I should be doing something sensible, instead I’m grabbing five minutes to tell you about it.

This morning started with the kid’s first day back to school after the summer holidays. I have the 2 extremes. My daughter was up dressed and ready to go by 7am (2 hours early). My son had to be woken, carried downstairs (to be fully woken by the dog licking his face) and coaxed through the whole routine, including walking him his new classroom.

The rest of the day is about me. In half an hour I’m off to catch the train to London (I’m in Devon, so it’s about a 3 hour journey), for a 2 hour workshop, after which I get the train back. I should be home about 2am tomorrow morning. (If your maths for hours in the day doesn’t add up, that’s because I’ve saved you from hearing about my morning faffing around doing ‘stuff’).

The workshop is on pitching your novel. Why am I so keen? because later this month I’ll be returning to London to attend an ‘Agents Party’ where I (and god knows how many other writers) get to meet and pitch to agents. So I’m taking all the help I can get!

I’d tell you more but I need to go and faff a bit more before I leave!

Posted in IWSG | Tagged | 10 Comments

#IWSG August: Does your writing take you by surprise?

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!

Do stop by and say hello to them!

I’m just back from holiday in Spain, and am facing a mountainous to-do list. I’ve already tackled the laundry foothills; braved the heights of the weekly shop; and am now surveying the towering cliffs of keeping-the-kids-occupied; avoiding-guilt-as-my-husband-DOES-STUFF-around-the-house, and trying-to-fit-in-writing-time.

But I’m probably not alone in all that, so I won’t whinge.

This month’s question is: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? And my answer is ALL THE TIME!!

I only need to think back to the first creative writing course I ever took. The homework was to write about a character who was packing a bag, and I ended up with an antiques dealer who had a special interest in smuggling antique erotica on the side. I was sooo nervous about reading it back to the class the following week! But I was glad I did as it reinforced the lesson to go ahead with writing whatever the muse throws at you, rather than what you think you ‘ought’ to write.

Speaking of things the muse flings around, my story, ‘Herne’s Rest’ is in the second Grumpy Old Gods anthology, which comes out this Friday (9th August). If anyone is interested in receiving an ARC and would consider leaving an Amazon review, then please let me know.

Posted in IWSG | Tagged , | 8 Comments

#IWSG July: Do you share your (ahem) superpowers with your characters?

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, MJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

Do stop by and say hello to them!

I’ve been rubbish at posting recently, so it’s time to dust the cobwebs from my blog, clear out the spam and answer this months’ IWSG question, which is…

What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

Well, it’s funny I mentioned dusting and clearing out just now as my character, Elinor (also known as Granny), has similar tidiness traits to me. She doesn’t put things away, but she knows where she last saw them. If someone tidies after her, it’s fatal, because suddenly things are out of place and can no longer be found.

I know that my husband’s left slipper is under the sofa, that the dvd the dog chewed is on top of the cabinet and my son’s minecraft toy is where he left it on the stairs three weeks ago. If they ask, I can tell. If someone moves them, then my superpower is gone!

Leave the washing up to drain long enough it’ll dry itself. Dust just comes back!

Ok, I’m not a complete slob – people do actually come back after visiting my house.

Here’s a snippet so you can get the feel of what Elinor is like (the narrator is Skye, her tidy-minded granddaughter):

‘Granny,’ I said in my most reasonable tone. ‘If we don’t clean, we get nasty bugs and things in the supplies. I’m sure you wouldn’t want weevils in the flapjack, and goodness only knows what effect silverfish might have on the bog-mandrake.’
‘I don’t mean basic household chores,’ she snapped. ‘I’m talking about disturbing the natural order of things.’
‘But these are basic chores.’
‘Skye.’ The look she turned on me had too many years of experience in it. ‘Don’t forget who raised your mother. I had the devil’s own job keeping her under control, and I can recognise her touch a mile off.’
‘But we’ll have all sorts of creatures coming in.’
‘Where d’you think I get most of my spell ingredients?’
‘Things will go off.’ I wasn’t prepared to back down on cleanliness.
‘It’s just the natural transition to the next stage of their existence.’
That sounded like so much guff. ‘It’s unhygienic,’ I muttered.

I’d ask what your views on tidiness are, but I think I might be afraid to know the answers…


Posted in IWSG | Tagged | 14 Comments

#IWSG May: What have I learned this month?

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin!

Do stop by and say hello to them!

So, what have I learned this month?


Feedback, feedback, feedback. Really, it is SO necessary.

Situation no 1: I asked my writing group to look at my agent submission package. I only included the first scene of the novel (didn’t want to bore them 😉 ), and the overwhelming feedback was that the voice was Middle Grade, not Young Adult.

I only need to be hit on the head so many times for something to sink in. And as MG was the age range when I really fell in love with books, I’m delighted to write for that age group. It makes it even more exciting, imagine being be that author for someone!

Situation no 2: After that I went through my novel again, taking out the odd cuss words and making sure that it all reads as MG.

Three days in I realised I’d been editing version 5, not version 6 (which was the post beta-reader version).

Yep. Annoying to say the least. But I was determined to find some silver to line my cloud with, and this is it:

You’d think I’d have noticed.

Part of me did. But that part just kept saying ‘Oops – can’t believe I missed that!’ and ‘Oh man – did nobody else see that either?’

What I did not do was re-write it to the extent that it needed following my beta-reader’s comments. Because I’ve read it so many times, I’m blind to my / its faults. Even after having them pointed out to me!

So I’m doubly grateful to my beta-readers, because this has reminded me of just how much I need them, and how brilliant they are.

For the record, going back and updating version 6 wasn’t too painful or time consuming, and reading over the updated version was reassuring.

Mistakes are often the best things you can make.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Storytime bloghop: The Sprite in the Well

It’s April and time for another story-time blog hop.

So grab that cuppa, any left-over bits of easter egg and settle down to read some fab stories from around the world.

If you subscribe to the Indie Authors Advent Calendar, then you may have come across this story before, but I’m fond of it as it features my characters, Skye and Poggitt from The Merewoods Witches, so I’m recycling it to spread the love 🙂


The Sprite in the Well by Angela Wooldridge.

We need some treacle,” Granny said, one midwinter morning.

But the well is frozen.” Everything had been since the severe frost, two days earlier. Poggitt, our big Hunterback frog, had been missing for the same length of time. Sulking probably, over the absence of the key ingredient to his favourite food – flapjack.

Well, take an ice-pick and try to dig some out.”

But how am I supposed to get down there?”

You’re a witch, Skye. I’m sure you can work it out.” Granny left, muttering about treacle tart recipes and feeding the bats.

Apprentice witch,” I grumbled. But with Poggitt missing I didn’t even have anyone to commiserate with.

The novelty of a treacle well had worn off fast. We now had to get our water from the stream, which meant that you ran the risk of frostbite whilst washing the breakfast things. I lit a lantern and warmed my fingers before lowering it down the well-shaft to figure out the best way down.

Eventually I put together a sort of rope harness. I know Granny likes to use the magic option as often as possible, but I didn’t fancy a slow death by drowning in semi-solid treacle if anything went wrong.

As it turned out, I’d have been more likely to break a bone.

The lantern did little to dispel the gloom, so I flicked a couple of witch-lights into being above me.

So that’s where you’ve been!”

Poggitt croaked sheepishly.

I should have known,” I continued. “The temptation of all this solid treacle was too much for you wasn’t it? Never mind that anyone might have been worried about you!”

From his webby-handed waving, I understood that he’d not given any thought about how to get back up again.

I don’t believe you,” I said. “But, considering the times you’ve backed me up with Granny, I’ll let it pass.”

He croaked again.

Don’t be so smug. Now, where to start?” I stepped back.

Hey, watch where you’re putting your great big feet!” someone shouted behind me.

I jumped at least a yard in the air and the treacle underfoot dipped alarmingly. “What in the seven hells are you?”

Well, that’s just charming.” He, she, it(?) was a twig-like creature, just under two feet tall. The trailing ends of its wings and its feet were trapped in the frozen treacle. I squatted down to get a closer look and it reared back. “Don’t touch me!”

I wouldn’t dream of it.” I tucked my skirts around my legs to ward off the chill. “You must be freezing.”

It snickered, “You could say that.” It stretched out its twiggy little finger and tapped my nose.

I yelped and scooted backwards. The little beast had encased the tip of my nose in ice. “What have you done? Get it off, you little horror!”

Can’t,” it said. “I’m a frost sprite. I don’t do warmth.”

Keep your fingers to yourself then.” I summoned another ball of witch-fire and held it to my nose. Once it started melting, I was able to pry the ice off. “Come on Poggitt, let’s go.”

But Poggitt refused to budge, nodding insistently toward the sprite.

So?” I said. “He got himself into that fix, he can get himself out.”

She, thank you. You could at least get the gender right.”

Really, you couldn’t tell. “Free you up to freeze other people’s noses, or worse? No, waiting until spring might teach you some manners.” I turned to go, but Poggitt tugged insistently at my skirt. “I’m sure the treacle will be fine,” I told him.

What our friend from the Hunterbacks is trying to tell you, is that until I get free of this, there’ll be no thaw.”

I swung back. “What do you mean?”

The sprite rolled her eyes at Poggitt. “I thought you said she was clever? I mean, witch-girl, the reason I’m stuck is because I freeze things. That’s all I can do. I got caught in this muck two days ago and everything I do just makes it worse.”

So this unexpected freeze is your fault?”

She looked quite put out by that. “I was expecting water down here. Trust witches to have something unnatural in their well.”

Are you trying to say that you need my help?”

She looked like she’d bitten into something sour, and mumbled under her breath.

Excuse me?”

I said, yes please.”

I smirked, pleased to have put one over on the little pest. “It shouldn’t be that difficult, I just need to introduce a little warming charm.” I drew a couple of sigils in the air, clicked my fingers twice and pointed to the treacle at my feet. “Mellespina.”

No, stop! Wait!”

One of these days I’ll learn to think things through first. All too soon I was up to my waist in warm, runny treacle, and the more I struggled, the more it threatened to suck me down further.

Do something!” shrieked the sprite. She’d dragged her wings free, but only their constant fluttering kept her from disappearing beneath the surface.

Poggitt’s webbed feet allowed him to float, but only just. Ironic, I thought, that his dream come true had just become a nightmare. All he needed were a few oats—

That’s it!” I closed my eyes, visualised the store cupboard and began a summoning charm, trying not to stumble over the words in my haste as I felt the treacle soaking into my bodice.

Is that snow?” The sprite looked up nervously as whitish blobs began to fall toward us.

No, oats.” As more fell, I used my arms to stir them into the treacle and as the mixture thickened, I was gradually able to work my way to the surface. “There you go, Poggitt. Enough flapjack even for you!”

You people are weird.” The sprite flicked some last sticky oats from her wings. “I’ll guarantee you a mild winter though. I’m not coming back here in a hurry.”


I hope you enjoyed that. Now don’t forget to check out all these other great stories too!

Unnamed Story by Karen Lynn
0 – The Fool by Raven O’Fiernan
Big Enough by Elizabeth McCleary
Grumpy Old Demeter by Vanessa Wells
Say Please by J. Q. Rose
Provoking the Muse by Moira K. Brennan
It all Started… by Bill Bush
Zombies by Barbara Lund
Before The Dreams by Katharina Gerlach
To Wake A God by Juneta Key

Posted in Storytime Blog Hops | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

A-Z of fictional characters: N is for Norah

Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly has a similar vibe to Blood Heritage (A-Z of fictional characters: M is for Mahlia); with ancient demons and a trio of oriental demon-hunting dogs, as well as the ambience the writing provides.

But Norah is a different character to Mahlia. She’s someone who has hit rock bottom, stared all that bleakness in the face and been given a second chance by an unlikely fairy-godmother in the shape of her sister-in-law, a glamorous Hollywood actress of the silver screen era who just happens to have been targeted by an ancient oriental demon.

Norah is a quiet, unassuming character with hidden depths and her calm practicality in the face of danger is one of the things I admire about her. Hambly draws great characters (probably why she tends to feature in so many of my recommendations). They’re far from perfect, make human (rather than irritating) mistakes, and are memorable.

It’s also a fascinating tour through the Hollywood of the silent movie era; of life on the film sets and behind the scenes after the clapperboard has snapped down. From the mansions of Beverley Hills to the tenements of Chinatown, Barbara Hambly takes you on a journey that stays in your mind for a long time afterwards.

Posted in A-Z of Fictional Characters | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

#IWSG April: Stop looking that gift horse in the mouth

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; J.H. Moncrieff,Natalie Aguirre,Patsy Collins, and Chemist Ken!

Do stop by and say hello to them!

So, what have I been up to this month?

Every now and then, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) have competitions called Slushpile Challenges.

This weekend, the opening lines from my novel were in the top five selected by the judging agent. Yay!

Yet there’s still a voice in the back of my head that keeps whispering, ‘What if there were only five entries?’

When I mentioned this to my husband he gave me the verbal equivalent of a slap upside the head. ‘Don’t be stupid,’ he said. ‘Look at the feedback; ‘Striking voice and strong opening.’ Don’t start second guessing and poking holes in things. Learn to take praise.’

Why is it so much easier to doubt yourself? Anyway, I’m going to poke that doubting voice in its metaphorical tonsils and ignore it.

‘Striking voice’? I’ll take that, thanks 🙂

Posted in IWSG | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

#IWSG March: The importance of names!

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

Do stop by and say hello to them!

This month I’m going to talk about names.

How do you name your characters? Do you spend hours flicking through baby name books, or do you, like me, pluck one from the ether, examine it from all (or at least a few) angles and decide, ‘yes, we’ll use that one.’

Recently I discovered that I might need to rename a character. I was (and still am) very attached to the name. Being fantasy, it’s not a real name but a word I came up with and liked the sound of. It originally belonged to a different character, but I liked it so much I swapped and gave it to my male lead. He’s had it for at least two years and it fits him.

But last week I came across this word (that I thought I’d made up) in a book. ‘Oh my god, it’s a real word!’ I exclaimed. ‘I’d better check what it means.’



The word? Ambergris.

The meaning? Whale vomit.

Can it get much worse? ‘Oh hey, this is my hero. He’s called… whale vomit…’

“Ambergris, or ‘grey amber’ is a waxy substance that originates as a secretion in the intestines of the sperm whale, and is used in perfume manufacture.”

‘Grey amber’ sounds ok, and apparently it’s meant to be pretty valuable. I’m not quite as down in the dumps as I was a couple of days ago about it (look, people can get attached to names, ok?), because I discussed it with my writing group and they’ve mostly convinced me that I can still go with it. He – my character – comes from a merchant family, so I guess I could work it into backstory… maybe his brothers and sisters could have similarly odd names… or the result of some unfortunate family tradition..?

Anyhow, I shall continue to mull this over, and perhaps in future I’ll google the random words I come up with, just to be on the safe side.

Do you have any naming incidents to share (and make me feel better 😉 ) or experience with whale vomit..?



Posted in IWSG | Tagged | 11 Comments

#IWSG Feb 2019: From slush pile to reject pile

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are;Raimey Gallant, Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace!

Do stop by and say hello to them!

Each month the IWSG provides a suggested question to answer, but I don’t feel like answering that one this month. Instead I thought I’d write about my first official rejection email from an agent, which I received a couple of weeks ago. It was a fast turn-around too, under 2 weeks, so I obviously wasn’t what they’re looking for.

I still have other submissions that have been ‘out there’ for much longer. Mind you, that could mean anything – that it’s still on the pile, that they’ve looked at it but are undecided, or that they’ve read it but haven’t bothered to send a rejection.

Some agencies say to give them a nudge if you haven’t heard from them within a certain period of time.

Some say that ‘you should hear from us within x weeks’.

So if you pass the time limit on that second one, does it mean ‘no’? or that they’re running behind?

Do I chase them?

Leave it for a bit?

Assume it’s a ‘no’ and send out some more subs?

I’ve got too much else going on at the moment to worry about it. I’ll leave be and let my subconscious sort it out. In a week or two I’ll have worked out my next step.

And that first rejection? I’m ok about it. We all ought to have rejection notches on our pencils, it’s part of the process…

Just as long as they aren’t all rejections…

Before I go, I just wanted to remind you all that the Exeter Writers Short Story Competition closes for entries at the end of this month – this year we’ve boosted the first prize to a whacking £700!! So, come on guys – I’d love to see a name I recognise from here as the winner!

Posted in IWSG | Tagged , | 24 Comments

Jan 2019: Storytime Bloghop!

It’s a chilly morning here in Devon, so it’s a good time to grab a biscuit and a cuppa, and snuggle down to read the stories in the latest blog hop.

My story features a couple of characters you may have met before in Never Kid a Kidder, Tish (whose name has never actually cropped up yet), and Jake, a regency ghost of slightly dubious character who haunts her apartment.

Lost and Found.

Ghosts hang around because they have unfinished business. Or so the stories say. I’d never tested the theory, but then they’d never bothered me personally before.
By the time I discovered Jake in my apartment, I was tied into a three year lease agreement so I was stuck with him.
‘Do you know why you’re still here?’ I asked one Saturday afternoon. I’d cleared the kitchen table and we’d put his poltergeist skills to use in a game of table tennis. He was too good at it, so I asked more to distract him than for any other reason.
‘Because I’m winning?’
‘I mean here.’ I pointed to the floor. ‘This building. Why haven’t you moved on or whatever it is you’re supposed to do when you die.’
He winced, ‘Must you put it so bluntly? It’s incredibly bad manners.’
I looked around the empty room, ‘I don’t think anyone here will mind.’
‘Just play.’ He hit the ping pong ball back at me, but it shot over my shoulder and out the open window.
Muffled swearing from outside prompted me to peer out cautiously. ‘Oh no! I can’t believe you hit Mr Norrell, he hates me!’ I watched my upstairs neighbour slide the ball into his pocket, and turned back to Jake. ‘That’s my only ball. You’ll have to get it back.’
‘Me? I can’t go out there.’
‘Nobody will see you. Besides, it’s your fault.’
He stuck his nose in the air and twitched the folds of his cravat, ‘A gentleman doesn’t assign blame.’
‘I’m not a gentleman,’ I pointed out. I wasn’t convinced that he was either. ‘Off you go.’
‘You misunderstand me,’ he said. ‘I can’t go out there because I’m confined to this building; the er… premises of my demise,’ he added helpfully.
I threw my bat down in frustration as my ill-tempered neighbour continued his self-important stroll out the front gate.

That evening I was tucking into my Saturday night treat of chow mein from Mr Fibonachi’s, (I was as sure that wasn’t his real name as I was that he wasn’t of Chinese origin, but he made the best chow mein I’d ever tasted), when Jake appeared, setting a collection of objects on the table.
‘Where did they come from?’ He’d brought back the ping pong ball, but for some reason included my favourite tee-shirt, an old pair of shoes and a chicken ornament.
‘As requested,’ he bowed with a flourish of the tatty lace at his wrists. ‘I retrieved your belongings from the gentleman upstairs.’
‘But he only had my ping pong ball.’
‘I thought that too. However, when I traced it to his apartment—’
‘You traced it? I thought you couldn’t leave my place?’
This building, I said. And yes, I am able to trace the aura of something belonging to you. May I continue?’
Despite the many questions teeming through my brain, I nodded for him to carry on.
‘I traced it to a box which was marked with your apartment number. Inside were all of these.’
‘That’s creepy.’ I shivered.
‘If it makes you feel any better, you aren’t being singled out. There are boxes for all the apartments.’
‘I can’t decide if that’s creepier or not.’ I picked up the chicken ornament. ‘Where the hell did he get this? And my tee-shirt! I guess I should be grateful it’s not my underwear.’
‘Why would he have your underwear?’ Jake looked puzzled.
‘Are you telling me nobody got thrills watching people in their undies in regency England, or whenever you’re from?’
‘Oh, I see.’ He shook his head. ‘Undergarments were considerably less attractive in my day. Getting someone out of it was the challenge. Yours, however—’
‘No!’ I slammed my hands over my ears. ‘I thought we’d agreed on some boundaries!’
Now, yes. But…’ he shrugged and assumed a pious expression. ‘Sometimes you forget, and I don’t like to embarrass you.’
‘Ugh!’ I threw the chicken ornament at him, which was completely pointless as if he hadn’t caught it, it would have gone right through him anyway.
‘At least you’ve got your things back, now,’ he said.
That made me stop and think. ‘I have,’ I agreed. ‘But what about everybody else? No. This has to stop.’ I charged out of my apartment and up the stairs to Mr Norrell’s, propelled by righteous indignation and deaf to Jake’s pleas to be reasonable.

Mr Norrell answered my frenzied hammering at his door with a polite, ‘How may I help you?’
‘How dare you!’ I charged past him into his entrance hall and brandished my belongings under his nose. ‘How dare you steal my things!’
‘Where did you get those?’ he demanded.
‘Never mind where I got ‘em. Where did you get them?’
He looked at me as if I were an idiot. ‘They’re lost property, of course.’
‘No, they’re not. They’re mine.’
‘But they were lost,’ he insisted.
‘Why didn’t you give them back?’ I could feel my moral high ground starting to crumble underfoot.
‘That’s not how it works,’ he told me. ‘Caretakers don’t have time to run around after everyone, you know. So I put them in a box ready for when someone comes to collect them.’
‘But you’re not the caretaker.’ I was confused.
‘No,’ He replied sadly. ‘I retired. But I guess old habits die hard.’
He showed me his hallway cupboard, which was stacked with boxes labelled by apartment number.
‘Nobody knows to ask you if they’ve lost something,’ I pointed out.
Understanding dawned on his face. ‘I guess old habits do die hard.’ He shook his head. ‘Now I’m retired, I suppose I have time to return them. Here, I’ll start with you.’ He reached into his pocket, frowning when it turned out empty, then he spotted the ping pong ball in my hand. ‘Oh, I guess I did that already.’

‘Jake,’ I said when we were back downstairs. ‘He hadn’t put the ball with the other things, had he?’
Jake fiddled with his sleeve. ‘I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.’ Then he winked, ‘Sometimes people just need a little nudge, don’t you think?’


I hope you enjoyed the story. Don’t forget to check out the other stories too…

Bia Trevi’s Worldly Eats, by Barbara Lund
Hunting Bob, Vanessa Wells
Don’t Drink The Water, by Juneta Key
Duty, Elizabeth McCleary
The Footnote, Karen Lynn
The Monster Under The Bed, by Nic Steven
Field Trip to the UFO Museum, by Bill Bush

Scary Monsters and Other Friends, by Lisa Stapp
Morning Has Broken, by Katharina Gerlach
Good Honest Work, by Chris Wight
Bad For Business, by Gina Fabio
The Last Friday, by Raven O’Fiernan

Posted in Storytime Blog Hops | Tagged | 11 Comments