Writing

My blog has documented my entire journey to becoming a writer. Here you’ll find books, short stories, flash fiction and opinion pieces.

A Love Letter to My Rock on Our 10th Wedding Anniversary

Dearest Husband,

Happy 10/15 years! How surreal is it to be celebrating in Thailand? We’re (almost) back to where it all began. With the addition of course, of three awesome little people and too many wrinkles.

Five years ago we were welcoming our little man into the world. We already had our gorgeous girls. The Davis family was complete. It felt like a big deal. Ten years together, five married, three kids.

Getting to this anniversary has been a much bigger feat. One that’s difficult to articulate, without having to choke back sobs. We’ve been through the ringer these last five years, but rather than breaking us, we’ve emerged from the fog stronger than ever.

This is what proper love is all about.

Those hedonistic early days kind of feel like a dream now. When all we cared about was exploring new scenery, talking until the cows came home and gathering intimate knowledge of each other. As amazing as it was, living like that couldn’t last forever. Reality eventually overtook the pursuit of fun.

At first, marriage and kids and playing house was as fulfilling as travelling was. Then all of a sudden shit got very real. Very real indeed, and I must admit to spending too much time in recent years wobbling. Unsure if our foundations were strong enough to survive.

It would appear that yes they are.

Amid the harsh realities of life, while we’ve been huddled underneath the shitstorm umbrella, tested in every way, we’ve really grown.

A few months ago I decided not to spend another moment agonising over what the future might hold. In doing so it’s made me see that no matter how hard this life gets, as long as we have each other, we have everything.

Traditionally, a ten year anniversary gift should be made from tin or aluminium. Being the modern type of woman that I am, you have a blog post. Hope you enjoyed it.

Love you always,

Your wife 💋

UK Writing Competitions: Flash Fiction, Short Stories and Novel Extracts (2019)

This weekend I submitted two pieces of flash fiction to UK writing competitions. I’ve also been beavering away on a 5000-ish word short story. It feels sooooo good to be writing again! I spent hours looking for competitions to enter, so thought I’d write up a list for others in the same boat.


Please note:

  • 
Always thoroughly read the guidelines before submitting your entry.
  • I’ve only included comps open to unpublished writers.

  • I shall update this list as and when new competitions are announced.
  • Best of luck!

UK Writing Competitions ending February 2019


The 2019 Life Writing Prize| Closes: 11:59pm 1st February | Free entry | 5000 words max of writing intended to be true, reflects someone’s own life journey or experiences *NOT fiction | 1st prize: £1500 Avron course, development meeting with an editor and agent, two highly commended: £500 | winners will receive two mentoring sessions and a development meeting with an editor and agent.


Bath Flash Fiction Award | Closes: midnight 10th February | £9 one entry, £15 two, £18 three | 1st prize: £1000, 2nd prize: £300, 3rd prize: £100 third, £30 two commended, 50 authors offered anthology print publication, with all published authors shipped a free print copy.


Writers & Artists Short Story Competition | Closes: midnight 13th February | Free to enter | Prize: a place on one of Arvon’s four or six day Clockhouse writing retreats, as well as seeing your story published on the W&A website| 2000 words max

The Tangerine | Closes: 22nd Feb | Free to enter | 6000 words max
The Tangerine particularly welcomes submissions from women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities

Scottish Book Trust | monthly prompt for 50 word piece of flash fiction | no fee | prize: mug from The Literary Gift Company


UK Writing Competitions ending March 2019


The White Review | Closes: 5pm on 4th March | Entry fee: £15 (proceeds go to their charity)| 2000 words min, 7000 words max

The Short Story | Closes: midnight on 31st March | Entry fee: £5 | 1st prize £400, 2nd prize £100, 3rd prize £50, plus up to five highly commended prizes of £25 each | 400 words max


UK Writing Competitions ending April 2019


Bath Short Story | Closes: midnight on 15th April| Entry fee: £8| 1st prize £1200, 2nd prize £300, 3rd prize £100, plus £50 for the local prize| 2200 words max


UK Writing Competitions ending May 2019


The Bridport Prize (Novel Extract Award) | Closes 1st May | Fee: £20 | 300 page synopsis and 8000 word extract | 1st prize: £1000 and mentoring, 2nd Prize: £500 and full manuscript assessment, 3 awards of £100 and 50 page manuscript assessment


The Bridport Prize (Flash Fiction) | Closes 1st May | Fee: £9 | 250 words max| 1st prize: £1000, 2nd prize: £500, 3rd prize: £250, 3 highly commended prizes of £100


The Bridport Prize (Short Story) | Closes 1st May | Fee: £12 | 5000 words max| 1st prize: £5000, 2nd prize: £1000, 3rd prize: £500, 10 highly commended prizes of £100 | 
The winning and highly commended stories, poems and flash fiction will be published in the Bridport Prize anthology each year.

The winning Bridport stories and shortlist will be read by leading London literary agents A.M. Heath with a view to representing writers.


The London Independent Story Prize (LISP) | Closes 6th May | Fees: £5-12 | 300 words max| Prize: £200| All entrants will be considered for print and/or digital publication in the forthcoming London Independent Story Prize Anthology. 

UK Writing Competitions ending June 2019


Bath Novel Award | Closes: 2nd June | Entry fee: £25 | 1st prize: £2500 and literary agent introductions and manuscript feedback, 2nd prize: literary agent introductions and manuscript feedback, 3rd prize: online place on editing course worth £1800 | send one page synopsis and first 5000 words of your unpublished or self-published novel (must be over 50,000 words in total)

Why You Should Read Become the Best You #ad

New year new you, blah blah blah. It can feel like everywhere we go people are trying to sell us ourselves, can’t it? The thing is, most of us could use a little help. So if you are on the lookout for some easy to digest advice, written in the style of having a chat with a friend in a cafe, then you will love Become the Best You.

The book delves into my dysfunctional childhood and troubled start to adulthood at fifteen. How I dragged myself through years of on/off depression, two mental breakdowns and eventual rock bottom.

become the best you

Why should you read this book?

There are many self-help books out there telling you how to think, what to wear and how to behave. Qualified professionals are desperate to give you their views on any subject matter you require guidance on. What’s so special about me? I’m just a regular person. I don’t have letters after my name or a rags to riches story, so why should you bother reading this book?

After having a dysfunctional childhood, and self-destructive young adulthood, I broke away from my past and created a much brighter future. Rather than just talk about my children never having to experience what I went through myself (like my parents did) I worked damn hard to ensure it was the case. Throughout this book I will share personal stories from my life and insights on how I overcame the many obstacles I have faced over the years.

I’ll tell you how I broke the cycle of dysfunction, and hopefully it will inspire you to go off and do the same. Getting passed my past wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t impossible. I promise not to talk about things that I have no personal experience of, and I won’t pretend to have all the answers. But I might just have the ones you are looking for.

become the best you

If you can identify with this list of demons I had to conquer, this book is for you!

– Raised by parents who had dysfunctional childhoods and subsequently had one myself
– Moved house lots and went to many schools
– Suffered bullying in several schools
– Suffered sexual abuse as a child
– Left home at a very young age after not finishing school
– Struggled with depression
– Got into a lot of debt
– Had very little self-respect
– Used to sleep around
– Abused drugs and alcohol
– Put myself into unnecessary, dangerous situations

What do I hope you will achieve by reading this book?

– The ability to make peace with your past
– The ability to look in the mirror and like what you see
– The ability to find your inner strength and start respecting yourself
– The courage to re-define the rules of relationships that have become toxic
– The courage to cut ties with people who make you miserable
– The courage to break the cycle, keep it broken and become the best you

What this book doesn’t do

– Use overly complicated words or examples that are difficult to understand
– Go into minute detail telling you exactly what to do
– Patronise you and assume that you aren’t capable of turning your life around


Guest Post: Will You Give a Life Changing Gift? #DontWasteXmas

#DontWasteXmas

The UK are set to waste a whopping 60 million presents this Christmas. International development charity Send a Cow are encouraging shoppers to buy life-changing, meaningful gifts instead of pointless ones.

A new survey from YouGov* has found that over half (57%) of Brits who celebrate Christmas receive at least one unwanted gift on average at this time of year, with 37% claiming they would be happy to receive a charitable donation as a present.

#DontWasteXmasIf the money spent on the 60 million unwanted gifts received each year* was redirected to charities like Send a Cow, it could support millions of families living in the poorest parts of Africa.

The survey revealed that at least £380 million is spent on unwanted Christmas presents for friends, which could support 11 million African families by providing them each with a goat*. Priced at £33 each, a dairy goat provides families with nutritious milk to drink and sell – providing a vital income – and manure to improve crop yields. Nearly half (48%) of those surveyed admitted they struggle to find good presents for family and friends, and bath products topped the given list of the nation’s least loved presents.

Top unwanted Christmas gifts

1. Bath products (38%)
2. Film / box set (18%)
3. Candles (16%)
4. Chocolate (16%)
5. Socks (14%)

Send a Cow ambassador, actor and star of ‘Our Girl’, Ben Aldridge said:

“I was lucky enough to visit a Send a Cow project earlier this year and was amazed by the life-changing work they are doing in rural Africa. This Christmas, we are calling on people everywhere to donate to charities like Send a Cow instead of spending their money on unwanted Christmas presents. My family is abolishing present giving between the adults in favour of redirecting that money towards causes that really need it. I don’t need any more novelty socks or cheap stocking fillers! The money wasted on those things could actually make a huge impact elsewhere.”

#DontWasteXmasInstead of resorting to festive bath bombs or Christmas candles, shoppers can purchase life-changing virtual gifts ranging from goats and tools to allotments and beehives on the Send a Cow online shop where prices start from just £5.

You simply select your chosen gift, such as a chicken or a goat, and your loved one will receive a Christmas gift pack telling them all about the item you’ve bought in their name and the impact it will have on families in Africa.

Send a Cow, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, gives African farming families the tools, training and livestock to thrive. The charity has worked with over two million people and wants to keep on growing so more African families can lift themselves out of poverty for good.

CEO of Send a Cow, Paul Stuart, commented:

“Buying a Send a Cow virtual gift for a loved one has a double impact and goes far beyond your typical gift of socks or smellies which often end up in the bin. The person receiving the gift feels good knowing that a donation has been made with them in mind and a struggling family in Africa receives vital support to help them transform their lives. It’s a gift which feels good and does good; what could be better than that?’’

The average person spends between £10 – £20 on unwanted Christmas presents for friends and loved ones. Instead they could buy:

  • Two chickens that can provide malnourished families with eggs to eat and sell (£16)
  • Garden tools for two families so they can grow their own vegetables (£14)
  • Fruit trees to help people establish their own orchards (£20)

#DontWasteXmasWith nearly half of shoppers admitting they struggle to find good presents for loved ones, charity gifts could be the way forward for a less wasteful and more meaningful Christmas this year.

Spread the word and visit #DontWasteXmas on the Send a Cow website.

*1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,182 adults, of which 1,965 celebrate Christmas. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1 st – 2 nd November 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
2. Based on findings of YouGov survey when extrapolated to the GB population of 50,644,094 million people, 90% of which celebrate Christmas and 94% of whom gave an opinion. The survey found that, on average, Brits who celebrate Christmas received 1.4 unwanted presents in an average Christmas – 59,982,864 overall.
3. Based on findings of YouGov survey when extrapolated to the GB population of 50,644,094 million people, 90% of which celebrate Christmas and 97% of whom gave an opinion. The survey found that, on average, Brits who celebrate Christmas and give Christmas presents to friends spent £18.31 – £380,477,739 on a Christmas present for a friend. Calculations by Greenhouse PR.

**Disclaimer: this is a guest post from Greenhouse PR, I have not been incentivised.

How to Have a More Eco Christmas this Year

**If you’re looking to have a more eco Christmas this year, you’ve come to the right place. This is not a sponsored post, but does contain links to other blogs I have written and sites you might find useful.

Calling time on pointless gifts to create a more eco Christmas

eco ChristmasI have always been a thoughtful gift giver. Plus I’m thrifty beyond belief, with a brilliant eye for bargains. I can walk out of a charity shop with a carrier bag chock full (of often brand new goodies!) for a tenner. It drives my husband mad, because on the rare occasion he ventures into one, he doesn’t find a thing.

I also love to make edible and drinkable gifts as well as natural toiletries. Over the years I’ve been known to dedicate entire weeks to the gift making cause.

These days, I don’t get nearly as much opportunity to source or make presents. Unless my heart has gone into it, giving gifts for the sake of it just feels meh. Don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoy putting together packages to send in the post. Spoiling friends, who are busy taking care of their own kids and are often forgotten about, is one of my favourite things to do. Obligation giving just does not sit right with me anymore though. Especially for children (more on that later).

Think of other ways to celebrate the countdown to Christmas 

Call me jaded, but this will be my tenth Christmas as a parent. My views have changed somewhat over the years, and I have come to absolutely abhor kids advent calendars. Along with elf on the shelf, Christmas Eve boxes and everything else that leads to over excitement central.

They caused my children nothing but abject misery, so we stopped trying to keep up with what everyone else was doing two years ago. Instead we did a kindness challenge countdown, which was hugely successful. Each day between the first and twenty fourth of December, my kids were given a task to promote kindness within the home. You can read about it here if you like.

Last year we had our biggest sort through of clothes and toys ever, and donated everything to a local centre who provide for women and children in refuges. This year we shall be putting together bags of hygiene products, for our local hygiene bank. Take a look at their campaign on Instagram for all the details.

Becoming more eco-minded isn’t just about Christmas

Eco ChristmasAs my kids get older, I want to steer them away from mountains of stuff twice a year. I want them to have memorable experiences, and fun days they can look back on. Also, I don’t want them to have unrealistic expectations. The idea that people automatically give us things, simply because it’s our birthday or Christmas is a concept mine find hard to understand. If someone isn’t in our lives on a day to day basis, they are in danger of being known as “such and such who sends us stuff.” Which is not good for anyone concerned.

The solution, and quickest way to be more eco (especially at Christmas time) is to opt out of consuming cheap products. Fast food, fast fashion, plastic crap the children get bored of after five minutes. Don’t even get me started on the disgustingly toxic paraben-loaded toiletry sets that are in every supermarket from the beginning of October. It’s all such bad news for the environment, and who really enjoys receiving these types of gifts? So let’s break this wasteful cycle. Giving pointless and unnecessary presents, purely because the calendar tells us to, has to stop.

Of course, there are some very lovely companies out there. Ones who consider the environment at every angle, and donate to many charities. Here are some of my faves: Librio, who make beautiful personalised kids books. Figtree Clothing, who promote a zero waste lifestyle, as well as selling stunning organic clothing and well sourced natural toiletries. Savon Stories, who hand make organic beauty products.

Try making your own gifts for a more eco Christmas  

Home made gifts really are the best. I get such pleasure from giving things I’ve created myself, and they are always appreciated and gratefully received. Over the years my nearest and dearest have been treated to delicious sweet treats such as truffles, brownies, energy balls and biscuits. Savoury delights including pickles, chutneys and infused oils. Face masks, body scrubs and lots of random bits and bobs I can’t even remember.

If you’re in the market for making, check out this Pinterest board, which is chock full of gift making inspiration.

You might also like my epic (or so I am told) choco-coffee liqueur…

Will you be trying to have a more eco Christmas this year? Remember small steps lead to big changes!  

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