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My Writing

Exciting news – I have an agent!

I’m absolutely thrilled to share that I’ve signed with a literary agent! I’m now represented by the wonderful Abi Fellows at The Good Literary Agency.

Many of my friends, family and colleagues know it’s been a long journey to get to this stage, with plenty of near-lys, rejections, heartbreak and hope. I’m so happy to have found someone who shares my passion for my writing and I’m excited about working with Abi to hopefully bring my novel into the world.

There’s still at least another draft of the manuscript to get through before we’re at the stage of sending it to publishers, but I feel I’m now a step closer to the possibility of being a published author.

My Writing

In The Moment article on embracing my disabled identity

I have a feature in the new issue of the gorgeous In The Moment magazine that’s out today. The article is about accepting – and celebrating – my identity as a disabled person.

ITM magazine

I’ve always been partially sighted. My impairment is something I tried to ignore growing up, certainly until my late teens, but now I see it as an integral part of my identity. From going on to work in disability roles in higher education and the charity sector through to my freelance writing where disability is one of my key focuses and areas of interest, embracing my identity as a visually impaired person has shaped my life so much, and for the better. I’ve also made some wonderful friends through being involved in disability groups.

ITM 1

Still, writing this feature for In The Moment was challenging. It’s one of the more personal articles I’ve had published, and it made me really think about my journey and the things that have influenced it. It can be hard to pinpoint what has shaped me, but I enjoyed reflecting on and exploring this while writing the article.

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that disability is one of the main areas I write about. Being disabled impacts on all areas of my life, and I enjoy sharing my experiences through my writing, especially when disabled voices are so often underrepresented.

ITM 2

I hope, sometimes, that others may read my work and see part of their reality reflected in my words. I hope, too, that people who don’t have lived experience of disability feel it gives them an insight into a perspective they’re unfamiliar with.

I’m excited to share that I have other features about disability, including one I’m currently working on, coming up in other magazines this year, and hopefully many after that.

 

My Writing

Article in Happiful magazine

I’m really happy to have a feature in the new issue of Happiful – one of my favourite magazines – that’s out today.

happiful magazine

My article, “How to cope with first day anxiety”, is all about dealing with the worries that come with starting a new job, from nerves about meeting new people to that pesky feeling of imposter syndrome that many of us experience, especially at times when we should be celebrating our successes instead of fearing we’re not good enough. The article is part of the “Happiful Hacks” series that gives practical, actionable advice to make readers’ lives easier.

 

happiful article

You can get Happiful in various supermarkets and newsagents, or subscribe for free to the digital edition via their website.

The article is also now available to read on their website too.

It’s especially nice to have this published because Happiful is a magazine I pitched feature ideas to quite a few times before getting this article commissioned, and I’d started to question whether it was worth me trying. Writers, keep on going!

 

My Writing

Looking back at 2019

It’s that time of year where we aren’t quite sure what day it is, have eaten far too many mince pies, and are asking each other about our New Year resolutions over yet another glass of prosecco. As I think ahead to what I want to achieve in 2020, I find myself reflecting on this past year.

This time a year ago, I decided I was going to make 2019 the year that I really push with my writing. And I’m so happy with all that I’ve managed to do. I’ve had several articles commissioned and published in a range of places, including most excitingly the Guardian; I’ve had short stories long and shortlisted in competitions; I’ve edited my YA novel; I’ve begun work on a new novel; I’ve graduated from my MA; I’ve begun a copywriting job. I’m pretty happy with all that!

Another big thing has been around how I organise my writing. I now keep detailed spreadsheets (can you tell I used to work in admin?) of ideas and where I’ve sent my work to help me keep track, which has been a huge help. I’ve also been updating this blog more regularly, uploading examples of my work to my portfolio, and engaging with the lovely writing community on Twitter more.

One of my highlights of 2019 was my week at the Arvon writers’ centre. It really cemented my feeling that writing is what I want to do with my life. It also helped me feel more connected to the writing community. I’ve been looking on the Arvon website at all the courses they have next year and trying to decide which to book onto!

Another highlight is that I’ve been mentored by the wonderful author Kate Mallinder for the past half a year, as part of the Artist Development Programme support I’m getting from disability arts charity DaDaFest. Her guidance and encouragement has been so valuable and has helped me not only develop my writing but feel more confident about my abilities. I really enjoy our chats over coffee about all aspects of creative work and feel she’s been a huge help in me making progress.

I don’t know what 2020 will bring. I know I have a few articles due to be published which I’m excited to share with you and many more I plan to pitch. There’s a few things that I’m waiting to get decisions about in the coming weeks and months, which I’ve been trying not to worry about too much over the holidays but of course have been. Whatever happens, I hope that I build on what I’ve achieved this year and continue to develop as a writer.

My Writing

Flash fiction in Ellipsis Zine

Today I have a flash fiction story, “Two Weeks After The World Ended”, published by the wonderful Ellipsis Zine.

An earlier version of the story was long listed for the Flash 500 award at the start of the year, and I’m glad the story’s now found a home.

Take a read of it (and great stories by other writers) on the Ellipsis Zine website.

My Writing

Arvon article in Planet Mindful

It’s been a busy few weeks for me. I’ve started a new job that involves lots of copywriting (yay!), which I’m really enjoying. I’ve also been working on editing my novel that’s been my work in progress for a while now, as well as pitching and writing articles, and working on short stories too.

planet mindful.jpgI’m very happy to share that I have a feature in the current issue of the gorgeous magazine Planet Mindful. The article is about my experience of attending a residential writing course at the magical Arvon centre The Hurst earlier this year. Planet Mindful is a wonderful wellbeing magazine that I’ve enjoyed reading for a while, so it’s great to be published by them.

My Writing, Writing advice

Writing articles: coming up with ideas

I’ve had a few friends ask me how I get articles published, so I thought I’d write a series of posts about the process. This first one is about where to get ideas for articles. It is mostly geared towards print magazines, as that’s where the majority of my work gets published, but a lot of this will apply to online publications and newspapers too.

Go into a supermarket, newsagent or WH Smith and you’ll find hundreds of magazines. And most of these magazines will rely on freelance writers to produce at least some of their content.

I have a few different approaches to generating article ideas. There are lots of ways to go about it, and this is based on my own experience – there’s no wrong or right way to create ideas!

Browsing magazines

One way is to browse magazines and think about whether you could write something for them. Often I’ll be reading a magazine and find this sparks my imagination, finding myself thinking about articles I could write that would fit.

The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook lists hundreds of magazines and newspapers – I like reading through and highlighting any that sound promising, and then go and research them in more detail by reading through.

Write what you know

I regularly brainstorm ideas in my notebook, thinking about what I’m interested in or have experience of that could be used in an article. For example, one of the main areas I’m interested in is disability: I’m disabled, and have worked in the sector, giving me a good grounding in various topics.

I think about what themes or topics I could cover based on this. So, I might list “being a disabled student”, “disability travel”, “disability and employment”, etc. I would then think about these in more detail. Let’s take “disability travel”, for example. I could think about places I’ve travelled to and could write about, or advice for disabled travellers, or hotels that cater well to disabled people, etc. I would then research potential markets and think about what matches up.

We all have things we can write about. Think about your job, your hobbies, your travels, any challenging experiences you’ve had… Are there interesting angles you could take on these? I find creating mind maps or doing some free writing on a topic helps me think through potential approaches.

Combing the two approaches

Often, I find that my article ideas come from a mix of these two approaches – I may know I’d like to write for a certain magazine, especially one I am already familiar with, so I’ll brainstorm ideas that could fit that publication.

Or, I may know I want to write an article on, say, the Lake District, so I’ll read relevant magazines and think about what angle I could write.

It’s important to remember that it’s hard to sell generic articles. So, with my Lake District idea, a simple “Guide to the Lake District” is likely too general to get taken up by an editor. One of the first articles I had published was for Cumbria magazine where I wrote about my experience of going to the Calvert Trust outdoor pursuits centre for disabled people in the Lake District. I was writing about something quite unique that it’s likely hadn’t been pitched to the editor before, giving it a much stronger chance of publication. While I did interview someone from the centre to add depth to the feature, I mostly drew from my own experience to write it.

Next steps

Keep a list of all of your article ideas, even when they’re really rough. I have a spreadsheet with two tabs: one of what I’ve pitched and where, and one with a (sometimes pretty vague) list of article ideas and potential markets. I also have jottings down in various notebooks where I’ve brainstormed ideas. I often find article ideas can take a while to form. I’ll make rough notes and then come back to these a few days later, finding taking a fresh look can help me see the idea from a new perspective.

Once you have an idea as to which publication you’d like to write for, it’s important to really understand that magazine. The next blog post in this series will look in more detail at how to analyse potential markets in order to develop your initial idea further and to get the best chance of being commissioned. Go grab a notebook and start creating some ideas!

My Writing, Travel

Adventure Travel magazine Helm Crag feature

I’m very happy to have a feature in the Sept/Oct issue of Adventure Travel magazine – which is also now available to read on their website. The article is based on a walk Gary and I did last August up the fell Helm Crag in the Lake District. We both adore the Lakes and I always find my trips there leave me full of ideas.Adventure travel mag - Copy

The feature includes a photo of mine from the walk. For a lot of articles, especially travel, being able to provide accompanying photos can be the difference between selling the feature or not. A few years ago I invested in a DSLR camera, partly because I enjoy photography anyway and liked the idea of capturing high quality shots of my trips, but also because I knew it would help with my writing.

Helm crag

I have sold features with photos taken with a phone camera, like my “A Weekend Getaway to Stoke-on-Trent” feature in Simply Vegan earlier this year I didn’t fancy photographing my food in restaurants with a bulky camera! But I’m glad I took my DSLR with me to the Lakes as the photo that accompanies my Helm Crag feature takes up nearly a double A4 spread, and a photo taken with my phone wouldn’t have had the same level of quality to it.

Reading through this current issue of Adventure Travel has me wanting to get out exploring our beautiful countryside more. I live near the Peak District and haven’t been there nearly enough. Maybe this should spur me and Gary on to go out there, with the camera, and do some more walks.

My Writing

PosAbility magazine article

I have spent this evening curled up listening to the summer rain while drinking (decaf) coffee and reading through the 50th issue of PosAbility magazine.

This wonderful disability lifestyle magazine has been around for five years now. I’ve been a subscriber for part of that time and always enjoy reading each issue, from travel features to advice on disability related topics. This 50th edition sees the magazine have a total redesign, making it look much more modern and engaging.

PosAbility article

And I’m very happy to have a feature in this special issue of PosAbility! I talk about disabled student support (which seems to becoming my area of expertise!), reflecting on my journey from nervous fresher to completing my MA.

I write about disability a lot as it’s an area where I have a lot of lived experience to draw on, and I love sharing my experiences in the hope that they will help others who are going through similar things.

Uncategorized

A wonderful few days

I’ve had a very wonderful few days. On Saturday, after over a year of planning, I married Gary at a magical ceremony and reception at Drayton Manor. Beforehand Gary had been adamant he wasn’t going to cry, but as soon as I came down the aisle he was wiping his eyes – as was I. We’ve been together for nearly nine years and to have a day dedicated to us, shared with so many friends and family, was just perfect.

Wedding group

We had photos in the beautiful hotel grounds and then the two of us were whisked on a buggy into the theme park to pose on the carousel and by the lake as day trippers gave us bemused and friendly waves. After a lot of smiling for the camera and trying not to trip on my dress, we were back to the hotel and a delicious vegetarian three course meal, followed by speeches. I was impressed that our best man, Dan, managed to squeeze two Simpsons references into his speech – Gary and I are both big fans.

For the evening do, Gary’s band Skybald played a set that went down well with our guests, followed by a disco (that one of our guests declared had ‘the best set list ever’) and karaoke. We were fuelled by a pizza buffet and slices of our vegan wedding cake. The day went by so quick, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

It feels weird to think that the wedding is done, after such a long build up. Still, we have our honeymoon to Italy to look forward to, and I’m also very excited about receiving the images from our photographer in a few weeks’ time.

Caroline and Gary

Just four days after the best day of my life came another big event: my graduation. It has taken five years part time to get here, but I now have my MA in the Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing, graduating with a Distinction. Staffordshire University hold their graduation ceremonies in the beautiful Trentham Gardens in Stoke-on-Trent. As it (mostly!) did for the wedding day, the rain held off and I was able to enjoy posing in the gardens in my cap and gown.

So that’s two major life events in less than a week! I’m now thinking ahead to my future – my future with my husband, my future as a writer, and my future academically. I have some ideas as to where I want to be, and I’m excited as I look ahead.