Thursday, 17 December 2015

It's publication day for The Boy under the Mistletoe!

Publication day is always exciting (I should know, this is my fourth in the past three months!) but this is a particularly special one.  I've always loved Christmas and harboured secret dreams of having a festive book with my name on it long before I truly believed my writing would be published.

 
With the support of my wonderful editor Charlotte Ledger, The Boy under the Mistletoe is let off the reins today, just in time for Christmas.  I can't wait to hear what you all have to say about it, but I hope you love it as much as I do.  It's my favourite story in the Meet Cute series.  Writing about fairy lights, mistletoe and party nibbles was great fun, but it's Chelsea, the tired shop girl who's reluctant to go to her Gran's Christmas eve party that I loved most.  She's feisty and grumpy, but deep down she's a romantic too.  I'd love to write more about her one day!

Thank you so much to everyone that has supported me this year - family, friends, authors, Harper Collins, Tirgearr, Zimbell House publishing and not forgetting the readers and bloggers who've been so very kind to this new author on the block. You're all fantastic, and I wish you all a Christmas where your dreams come true, just as mine have.

And may 2016 be the best year yet!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Real-life Meet Cutes - author Debbie Johnson



For ten years, I worked - and I use the word 'worked' very loosely - as the pop page editor for my local newspaper, the Liverpool Echo. Bearing in mind the job involved free CDs (back in the days when people still used those...), free concert tickets, and interviewing some of the biggest names in showbiz, it wasn't exactly lacking in the fun department. In fact, I can't remember most of the 1990s - it's all a big, smiley-faced blur.
 
I always tried to get along to as many gigs by local bands as possible, and built up good relationships with them - and, as it turned out, one in particular. I went along to an acoustic night to see a friend's band appear, and the MC for the night was young (seven years younger than me in fact, which makes me borderline cougar), cute, and immensely talented. When he contacted me a few weeks later to see if I'd be interested in featuring him on the pop page, I was excited - for all kinds of reasons.
 
The 'interview' in question took place in a local bar, involved some questions about his singing, and a whole lot of flirting. It ended with him uttering the immortal words: 'So...do you fancy a snog, then?' We still laugh about it now - it might not have been the smoothest line in the world, but it worked! The snog turned into a relationship, the relationship turned into a marriage, and the marriage resulted in two beautiful children to add to the one I already had.
 
As a single working mum, I'd never had much time for proper relationships - I'd pretty much given up and was happy with that. And then I met Dom - and everything changed. Pretty typically, I suppose, just as I'd decided there wasn't room in my life for any man other than my son, he arrived on the scene and turned everything upside down.
 
We've now been together for 13 years, and married for 11. It's not been perfect - we've definitely hit a few bumps along the road - but so far, so good. He still sings by night, and works as a librarian by day - what woman could resist??

Debbie Johnson's latest release is Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper, out now published by Harper Impulse.

 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Boy Under the Mistletoe Cover Reveal!

It doesn't seem all that long since I first shared the covers for the first three titles in the Meet Cute series, but now that advent's approaching it's time to unveil the cover for The Boy Under the Mistletoe!  The team at Books Covered have excelled themselves and designed a stunning Scandi-Christmas themed cover which stands out from the crowd whilst being instantly identifiable as a Meet Cute story.  I can't put into words how much I love it!

 
 
This time it's the story of Chelsea and Simeon's meeting.  Surrounded by twinkling fairy lights and antique glass baubles (along with a bowl of Twiglets - because let's face it, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Twiglets), it's a full-on festive story with an unconventional meeting.
 
The Boy Under the Mistletoe is published in ebook format on December 17th 2015 by Harper Impulse, the digital first romance imprint of Harper Collins. It is available to preorder now.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Reflections on the Meet Cute series

It's two and a half weeks now since the release of the first Meet Cute story, The Boy in the Bookshop. And what a crazy time it's been!  I've been overwhelmed by the support people have shown me and am thrilled by the response to Jade and Marwan's story.  Comments in Amazon reviews have ranged from 'absolutely delightful' (thank you Laura Holdsworth) to 'a heartwarming short story with the feel good factor' (thanks Amy Ellis), and it climbed to 1,881 in the overall Amazon rankings - beyond my wildest dreams for my first short story!

The Boy at the Beach was released the following week and Toby and Lauren have won over readers with their immediate chemistry with one reader (RatherToFondofBooks on Amazon) saying 'this story cannot fail to make you feel smiley' - such a lovely comment for any writer to hear!  There was also a very exciting moment where Radio 1 DJ Chris Stark, who inspired the character of Toby, tweeted to say 'I have to read this!'

 
And then last Thursday was publication day for The Boy at the Bakery.  I've had lots of people say Cole and Lily are the cutest couple yet, with best-selling author Erin Lawless saying it's her 'favourite short (and guy) so far'.  And my publisher Harper Impulse created a fabulous playlist to accompany it!
 
I've also been busy guesting on some fabulous book blogs talking about everything from Pinterest to nightclubs to Chelsea buns!  The blogging community have been absolutely wonderful in helping me spread the word about the first three Meet Cute stories.  I'm hoping to get a 'Katey's guest blogs' tab set up on here soon so anyone who wants to can easily find my past posts. 
 
It's no longer a secret that there are nine stories in the series, with The Boy Under the Mistletoe due for release on December 17th and I'll be able to share the cover and preorder details very soon!  Chelsea and Simeon's story is actually my favourite meet cute, so this one has a very special place in my heart.
 
Huge, huge thanks to all the readers, authors, bloggers, family and friends who've spread their love of the Meet Cute series far and wide, and to Harper Collins for believing there was a market for romantic short stories in the first place.  You're all fantastic. xxx
 
 
 


Saturday, 14 November 2015

Real-life Meet Cutes - Chris Tetreault-Blay

Today's guest sharing their real life meetcute is fiction author Chris Tetreault-Blay...

My wife and I are an example of internet romance gone right.  We met during 2000 when I was the tender age of 16.  I had left school in the July, had no real direction or idea of what I was doing, etc etc.  The usual teenage angst story really.  Through my best friend at the time, I was introduced to the internet and was soon spending my summer holiday days making my first online friends.  Then one August night in the Yahoo chat room ‘The Bored Room’ I received a message from Marie, the sister of another of my online friends.  It was a fluke meeting as she only started chatting to me as she ‘thought she recognised my name’ from her sisters friends list.

 
The first memory I have of when we first started chatting is the first pictures we exchanged.  I was stunned by how beautiful she was and that she was actually enjoying chatting to me!  Marie is also 11 months older than me and, back then, that was a big deal.  Had I really been able to attract a beautiful older woman?  It would seem so.  I kept a copy of that first photo for years but regrettably have since misplaced it (possibly during a hectic move after graduating from uni in 2005).  Every night I found myself rushing to the PC, which I had to time-share with my sister and her boyfriend at the time, just to see if Marie was online so that I could chat to her.  Soon enough we were both admitting that maybe there could be more between us than just being friends…
 
 
Then came the inevitable suggestion that we meet for real, which we finally did on October 8th 2000 when I made the two-and-a-half hour train journey from Basingstoke to Newton Abbot.  For me it certainly was love at first sight.  I already had feelings for her but they were just confirmed when we finally met.  That day still lives with me just as clearly as it did back then, and all I thought about on the lonely train journey home that night was just how much I wanted to go back.
 
 
We took it in turns to make monthly trips to see each other after that until we both moved to Stoke-on-Trent in 2002 to start our university life together.  When we graduated in 2005, I decided to move to Devon rather than return to Basingstoke.  I proposed to Marie that Christmas Day and we were married in 2010.  A couple of years ago, we bought our first home together and last year welcomed the birth of our boy-and-girl twins.

 
To this day I believe that her sister, Catherine, still takes credit for us being together.

Connect with Chris...

Friday, 6 November 2015

Real-life Meet Cutes - author Wendy Lou Jones

Romance author Wendy Lou Jones shares the moment she met her now husband...

My hubby and I met in Medical School. He remembers me from the first day and I remember him from the 3rd year (oops!)  At that time, we got a lift into the hospital we'd been assigned to together, to and fro every day for a six week block. I fell in love with the knee peeping out of those ripped jeans in lectures and his confidence on the wards. Much pining later, my (male) housemate couldn't take it any more and told him I fancied him.



Wendy Lou Jones is the author of three romance novels, The Songbird and the Soldier, By My Side and The Summer we Loved, all published by Harper Impulse.  You can find out more about her on her Amazon author page, website, Facebook or on twitter @WendyLouWriter.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Real-life Meet Cutes - Laura from Blabbering about Books blog

Laura from popular book blog Blabbering about Books shares the moment she met her partner...

There’s a slight stigma that comes with meeting someone online and before I met my partner over the internet I would have held some sort of prejudice towards online relationships. I joined a dating website on a complete whim after an author friend wanted some really funny online dating stories to include in her next novel. I decided to join the dating website, sure that it would just be an exercise in demonstrating how silly online relationships really were. But, what I didn’t expect was to find someone who I very quickly fell for.
 
From the first message I sent him, I felt like I’d known Mike forever. It felt so natural and normal to be talking to him and despite the fact I’d never met him and knew very little about him, I still was keen to meet him. The first time we met (he was late by about half an hour!!!) was the best ‘first date’ I’ve ever had. I didn’t feel any nerves when he picked me up and instead felt like I was with a friend I’d known forever. I loved getting to know him over the next few weeks and the nicest memory I have of our first few dates is when we sat in a pub garden after a country walk and the owner of the pub came outside and said ‘did you know you’ve been holding hands for over an hour?!’

 
 
Over a year later we’re still dating and we’ve been through so many things together and I honestly cannot picture my life without him in it. Despite the fact we sometimes drive each other mad, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m so lucky to have found him and I’m so thankful to online dating for bringing Mike into my life! 
 
Many thanks to Laura for sharing the story of her and Mike's meetcute.  I highly recommend her fantastic book blog.  You can find out more about Laura by following her on twitter, @blabberingbooks.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Publication Day for The Boy in the Bookshop!



I can't quite believe the day's arrived, but The Boy in the Bookshop started landing on ereaders all over the world at midnight!  It's a very strange feeling to think people are reading Jade and Marwan's story, a story which I never dared to dream would be published.

Thank you so, so much to everyone who's bought a copy, tweeted about it, messaged me about it and been so incredibly supportive.  Readers and writers really are wonderful people, and that's why there are so many of them singled out in the acknowledgements (and there could have been many more, but as these stories were written eighteen months ago I deliberately named those who'd been generous with advice from the very start)!

But this one is dedicated to David and Zachary, my favourite boys.  I hope I've made them proud.


Have you read The Boy in the Bookshop?  If so, I'd be incredibly grateful if you'd leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.  I'd love to know what you thought.

Plus, as a little thank you for all your support I'm running a rafflecopter giveaway to win this tote bag filled with goodies perfect for any book lover!  Best of luck!



 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Real-life Meet Cutes - my story!

To celebrate the release later this week of The Boy in the Bookshop, the first story in the Meet Cute series, I'm sharing the moment I met my husband...

Way back in October 1997 (which I've just realised is literally half my life ago -gulp) I was at college studying for my A levels.  The college was around twenty miles from my home, so I'd leave early in the morning and not go back until teatime. I had a good group of friends but their free periods didn't match up with mine and as a result I spent a lot of time in the library, both studying and 'surfing the net'. 

The internet was still a real novelty back then and I'd go online to find out football news, particularly about Sheffield United.  It was on a now defunct forum on the official club site that I started talking to 'Deadbat' - the username for the man who is now my husband, David.  We started off talking in the open threads then progressed to sending emails and snail mail post to each other, although at this point we were nothing more than friends.

It was a mild day in February 1998 when we first met in person.  He showed me around Leicester, where he was at university, when I had an interview at De Montfort and was so thoughtful - paying for taxis and buying me a pint of cider in the student union. 

The first picture of us together!

By September of that year I'd started a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies at Sheffield Hallam University (De Montfort hadn't wanted me) and as Sheffield was David's hometown we met before he went back to Leicester and on the weekends when he came back to watch the football and see his family.

We officially became a couple in November 1998, getting engaged on New Years Day 1999, married just before Christmas 2005 and welcoming our gorgeous son Zachary into the world two years later.

Summer 2015

Our Meet Cute is my favourite!

'Real- life Meet Cutes' will continue over the coming weeks with guest posts from authors and book bloggers!

Friday, 25 September 2015

The Boy at the Bakery

I'm absolutely thrilled to be able to share the cover of my short story The Boy at the Bakery with you all!  Isn't it gorgeous?!  I couldn't have been more delighted with it.
 

The Boy at the Bakery is part 3 of The Meet Cute series but can also be read as a standalone quick-fix of romance.  I hope readers everywhere fall in love with Cole and Lily!  And did I mention Cole has a dimple? Dimples are my kryptonite...
 
The Boy at the Bakery is published by Harper Impulse, the digital-first romance imprint at Harper Collins' on November 12th 2015 and is available to pre order now.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Boy at the Beach

Here's the eye-catching cover for The Boy at the Beach, the second short story in The Meet Cute series.  Isn't it fun?
 
 
 
 

The Boy at the Beach is part 2 of The Meet Cute series but can also be read as a standalone quick-fix of romance.  This time it's the story of brash club-rep Lauren and DJ Toby, and their meetcute in Magaluf is one of my favourites of the series.  I can't wait to hear what you think of it when it's released in November!
 
The Boy at the Beach is published by Harper Impulse, the digital-first romance imprint at Harper Collins on November 5th 2015 and is available to pre order now.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

Nook


 
 
 
 
 
 

The Boy in the Bookshop

I have something to admit. 
 
I've been sitting on a pretty massive secret for the past six months.
 
I'm sorry!  But I'm over the moon to be able to share the big news with you all today. 
 
Harper Impulse, the digital-first romance imprint at publishing giant Harper Collins, are publishing The Meet Cute series!  This series of romantic short stories is perfect for commuters, coffee break readers or anyone who feels they don't get enough free time to read a full length book.  Each story focuses on the moment a couple get together for the first time, or as I like to say it's the 'once upon a time' before the 'happily ever after'.
 
So without further ado, let me share the absolutely stunning cover with you!
 
 
 
 
Cover artist Stuart Bache created the perfect design for this one, I couldn't have asked for more.  I can't stop staring at it!
 
The Boy in the Bookshop is the first instalment of The Meet Cute series but can also be read as a standalone quick-fix of romance.  I have a real soft spot for Jade and Marwan's story and as a complete bibliophile I'd love to while away a few hours browsing the shelves at Beautiful Books, the bookshop alluded to in the title.
 
The Boy in the Bookshop is published by Harper Impulse, the digital-first romance imprint at Harper Collins on October 29th 2015 and is available to pre order now.
 
 
 
 

Monday, 13 July 2015

My Sherbet Lemon- shortlisted for the Woodseats Festival Writing Competition 2014

This weekend my local area celebrated ten years of our community celebration, The Woodseats Festival.  The week-long event offers activities aimed at all ages - culminating in festival day with a parade down the main road to Woodseats Primary school where there's a craft fair, stalls for local businesses/food vendors, a small fairground and a stage for dance/drama/music.

Last year I was shortlisted in both the poetry and short story categories of the writing competition (there wasn't one this year, as far as I'm aware), and was invited, along with the other shortlisted entrants, to read my writing at an event at Woodseats library.  I bought a new dress especially...



It was incredibly nerve-wracking to stand up and share my work, especially My Sherbet Lemon as it was a personal account of my miscarriage in April 2013.  By the time I reached the final poignant line, my eyes were prickling with tears, but somehow it was cathartic to say the words out loud in front of other people.  Miscarriage is still taboo, despite affecting so many.

I originally wrote the poem in September 2013 after a conversation with my then bereavement counsellor - it was during one of our sessions that I first used the sherbet lemon analogy - and the majority of it was written whilst on jury service, in the long waits to be called into court. 

The poem's been changed ever so slightly since those early days, but this is the finished version.  You are more than welcome to share this blog post, but please don't use the poem elsewhere, such as in print, or on your blog or website, without asking me first.

My Sherbet Lemon

You were my sherbet lemon.
A hidden surprise
in the paper bag of my body.

Sweet fizz-filled promise within
a sharp, solid shell,
an unexpected, yet pleasant surprise.

But your sunshine yellow never filled my days,
just your dull, dove-grey sac which haunts my nights.

A slit along one side.
A stab wound
rather than pinpricks at either end
released the zest, the life.
How quickly the sweetness had gone,
replaced by emptiness.

Bitterness.

Yes, you were my sherbet lemon,
for all of eight weeks.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Love Knows No Bounds- writing a reading for my best friend's wedding

A few weeks ago, my best friend Jen sent me a text.  Nothing unusual about that - we're usually in contact at least four or five days a week.  But when I opened it and read 'Can I call you later?  I need to ask you something,' my heart stopped. 

What on earth could it be?  In fact, for the hours before she called me back I was thinking all sorts, and I'd convinced myself it was going to be something awful.  All I could think of was her wedding in six weeks time, and that she'd changed her mind about me being a bridesmaid.  When she'd asked me to take on the role back in September, my eyes had filled with tears in the middle of Kings Cross station's branch of Pret. I'd been so excited at the prospect of playing a part in her big day, and after twenty-seven years of friendship I couldn't wait to stand by her side as she married her lovely Aussie fiancĂ© Chris. 

Jen (L) and me (R) in either 1992 or 1993

I tried to prepare myself to say 'of course I understand, it's your special day and you call the shots-I just want you to be happy'.  That's the truth- her happiness was the most important thing, but deep down I knew I'd be devastated if I didn't get to be there with her at the hairdresser, or to help her into her dress and accessories. 

So when the phone rang I took myself upstairs, away from my family.  I didn't want them to see me cry disappointed tears.

Me- 'Hello?'

Jen- 'Hiya!  It's only me.'

She sounded pretty upbeat.

'I didn't mean to panic you, I just wanted to ask you something.'

I held my breath, my heart pounding and running over my prepared response in my mind.  It'll be fine, so long as I can be there.  Even if I'm not bridesmaid, it'll be enough to see her walk down the aisle on the arm of her lovely Dad Steve, and to hear Chris pledging to look after her for the rest of their lives.  Unless....oh heck.  What if she doesn't want me there at all?

'Chris and I have been thinking about the wedding...'

Here it comes. 

I closed my eyes and crushed my top lip between my teeth the way I do whenever I'm anticipating bad news.

'...and because you're such a talented writer, we wondered if you'd write something for us and read it at the church?  A poem, or a bit about us as a couple, or anything really.'

WHAT?

She wasn't de-robing me of the dove grey dresses us bridemaids were wearing?!  Her and Chris wanted me to be a bigger part of their day!

My cheeks were wet with tears of happiness and relief.

And as soon as we got off the phone I started writing.

I knew whatever I came up with had to be unique, completely tailored to Jen and Chris and their relationship, and most importantly, it had to be perfect.  Within ten minutes I'd written the first draft of Love Knows No Bounds and sent it to Jen for approval. 

She replied straight away saying she loved it, but I knew I wouldn't be happy unless it said everything I wanted to say.  I wanted to convey how love can conquer all, and that although Jen and Chris are literally from opposite sides of the globe (and Jen is now away a lot with her work as cabin crew for British Airways) it really doesn't matter because their love is strong enough to survive anything, let alone distance.

I tinkered with the poem for another four weeks, right up until the deadline when the Order of Service needed to be printed, although to be honest it didn't change that much.  When I sent the final version to them for approval I was so nervous- it was far worse than waiting to hear from an editor or an agent, and any writer knows how painful that is!  When Chris emailed me back saying it was just what they were hoping for and that he 'really love[d] it' I was finally able to relax. 

Phew!

Saturday 20th June 2015 arrived and finally it was the day - my best friend's wedding!  It couldn't have been a more perfect day- the church was filled with an overwhelming aura of love and joy and I cried as Jen gently trembled with anticipation as she stood at the alter with her Dad, as Chris's face glowed with adoration as the familiar sacred vows were made, through the rousing first chorus of the 'Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer',  the traditional Welsh hymn.

But when it was my turn to stand at the lectern, I didn't feel overcome.  I felt blessed.  Blessed to be part of this day, but mostly blessed to know that my best friend had found someone who'd love and treasure her. 

Me (L) and Jen (R) on her wedding day.  I'd controlled my tears by this point!

I made a point of looking at Jen and Chris as I read, because although Love Knows No Bounds was written for them, so much of it could also apply to Chris's family who were over from Australia, his childhood friends that couldn't make it to the wedding because of the distance and travel involved, and their loved ones in the UK who don't get to see them as much as they'd like.  The line 'where you are it's tomorrow and where I am it's still today' is a reference to the messages I sent Jen during her year living in Australia where I'd say 'How's it going in the future?!'

I wanted to take in seeing the new Mr and Mrs King in these first magical moments as husband and wife, and as everyone else could see just their backs, I could see the beaming smiles on their faces, the true happiness of knowing forever stretched out ahead of them, full of 'love and adventure' as it said on their wedding stationery.

I know that wherever they end up in the world, whether that's staying in the UK or going to Chris's homeland to live, this wonderful couple will always, always be a huge part of my life.

Because I love them, and love really does know no bounds. 

This is the poem.  If anyone would like to use it for any purpose, including using on your own website or blog, please contact me before doing so. 

Love Knows No Bounds

We are from opposite sides of the world
yet Love decided you belong with me.

Some might say it was Fate, or Fortune, or Luck.
But we know that it was Love.

Love knows that we are stronger together than we ever would be apart,
that any challenge can be overcome by this wonderful combination
of You, and Me, and Love.

Because with Love, miles become millimetres,
and the widest, wildest ocean is no more than a sleepy, slender stream.
With Love, time zones melt into nothingness;
it doesn’t matter to Love that where you are it’s tomorrow
and where I am it’s still today.

With Love, the whole world is a tiny being cwtched* safely under one blanket of sky.

And when we look at Love this way, we realise
no obstacle could ever be too large for Love to scale;
that when Love decides two people shall be together,
together they shall be.

Love knows no bounds.
Love knows no bounds.
 
Congratulations Mr and Mrs King! 
I love you both xxx
 * cwtch= welsh for hug or cuddle

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Bear the Pall: Stories and Poems about the Loss of a Parent

 
I first saw the call for submissions for inclusion in this anthology on the Comps and Calls website and immediately knew I'd be sending my poem Invisible Ribbons for consideration.

Invisible Ribbons was a long time in the making.  I first started writing it in 1998, inspired by a photograph of my family which sat on the desk in my uniform room in halls of residence.  Back then it rhymed and was pretty longwinded, but it did meet the criteria I'd set myself - to reinforce that a family is still a family, whether or not it is complete, and that the person no longer alive is no less a part of it.

I rewrote the poem for a competition in 2012, completely changing all of it but for the theme and a few key images.  It somehow felt more honest, especially after eliminating the rhyme.  It didn't win the competition, but the poem definitely benefitted from this reworking.

So when I saw the call for Bear the Pall (which at that time was an unnamed collection) in September 2014,  it seemed Invisible Ribbons would be the perfect fit.  Sally K. Lehman, editor of the anthology, responded very quickly saying it had been chosen for print.  I was delighted that such a personal piece was to be published, especially alongside the work of other writers who had experienced the loss of a parent.

The anthology is diverse, with the overriding theme of bereavement the only common denominator.  Writers from far-flung countries,  all with a different story, being part of the same publication - this is where anthologies come into their own. 

I am extremely proud of Invisible Ribbons.   I know my Dad would be too.

You can buy Bear the Pall from Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Katey Lovell- The Story So Far

I'm going to be totally honest with you here...

I'm not one of those people who's always wanted to be an author. 

I've always written- mostly short stories and poems- but I never entertained the idea that anyone other than my family might want to read them.  Then, in early 2013, something changed.  I decided to try my hand at writing a novel.

My friend Kitty French had self-published the first of her Knight trilogy books the year before and she encouraged me to try my hand at longer pieces of writing.  With a cheerleader behind me, I set off typing, determined to get a novel down on paper...and soon stalled. 

This was HARD. 

I reverted back to the comfort zone of poems and shorts.

Then Autumn 2013, Richard and Judy put out a call for submissions to their 'Search for a Bestseller' competition.  Having a deadline was the push I needed, and on the final date before the competition closed, I pressed the 'send' button to enter the first 10,000 words of a novel called The Loveless Life of Jackson Scott

I didn't win the competition.  I didn't even get shortlisted.  And I still haven't finished writing that novel.  But it gave me the impetus to keep writing, and during 2014 I tried incredibly hard to find publishers for my work.  I submitted a series of short stories around a fictional boyband called The Voyeurs to numerous digital-first imprints.  No one wanted them. 

I sent off another series, The Meet Cute, and although numerous publishers gave positive feedback, no one came back and said they wanted to buy them.  The rejections stung, but I carried on writing.

Then success! 

That summer I wrote an erotic festive novella called One Wild Winter which received an offer from a small indie publishing house.  However, although it was thrilling to be given validation and it was very tempting to sign the rights away, something about it didn't feel right.  After much agonising, I turned the offer down.

Small scale successes in competitions followed, including being shortlisted in both the poetry and short story categories at a local festival, but September 2014 brought my biggest victory to date - I was announced as one of the winners of The Reading Agency/Pan Macmillan's short story competition (you can read my entry here).  The prize was a daylong writing workshop at their London headquarters with bestselling author Joanna Rees.  That day changed my life.  I wanted to be part of this world and I was bloody well going to do it, somehow!

I set about submitting my writing left, right and centre, and looked to get publicity off the back of The Reading Agency/Pan Macmillan success.  The local press were wonderfully supportive and printed articles about my win in The Sheffield Star, Sheffield Telegraph, Activ8 magazine, as well as being featured in The Hereford Times, the weekly local newspaper from my old stomping ground. BBC Radio Sheffield invited me onto their 'My Life So Far' feature on Rony Robinson's show and I snatched every opportunity with both hands!

By the end of 2014 I felt things were moving forward - a short piece about my 'writing spot' was selected for the Off The Shelf festival's Shedloads of Work website to celebrate the Dylan Thomas centenary, and my short story The Gift was published in issue 3.4 of Splickety Magazine.  Following this, more poems and shorts were selected for print in various anthologies.

Summer 2015 promises even bigger things and I can't wait to share it with you!