My writing journey

My journey into writing has not been a very straight one. If I look back I can see it always appealed to me. I remember writing ghost stories when I was a child at home. They were usually inspired by the Stephen King films I had snuck in and watched while my dad was asleep. But when I started secondary school I was put in the lower set for English and I came to the conclusion I wasn't smart enough to be a writer. I remember struggling to write the a lower case "d" when I was very little. My hand kept wanting to do a lower case "b", and I got it eventually, but it took me longer than most other people in my class. I used to read The Beano and I thought that one of the characters was called 'Berly the Perly', not 'Beryl the Peryl', and I felt embarrassed for getting it wrong as I had transposed the "l" and the "y". These things were few and far between, but looking back at them, I can see my dyslexia and it wasn't picked up on in school, possibly because I could always read very well and I loved reading. I wonder if I had been taught in a different way if I would have had more confidence to write sooner? Being in a low set meant I wouldn't be able to do A-Level English and since I didn’t know what I wanted to do for my career I left school at sixteen and got a job. I was fortunate to get a job in an art gallery and learned to be a picture framer. It was good to make something with my hands, but after a while framing wasn't enough creativity for me, and at twenty years old I decided to go back to school.

I painted as a hobby, but mainly spent my free time devouring stories whether they were in books or movies and thought I would like to tell stories through film. So I worked out what college course I needed to do in order to get onto a film degree, and chose a two year National Diploma in Multimedia. I made short films for as many of our assignments as I could, and got distinctions for my projects and was even student of the year - never before had I done so well in education. I was being taught by fantastic tutors in the right way for me to learn and I was being given the confidence that I could do these things. I have since read a great book on dyslexia called The Dyslexic Advantage, and I saw many similarities to how my own brain works. This book focused on the many positives of being dyslexic, and I think that part of my brain is what makes me good at telling stories and finding connections. It was also refreshing to read there are so many famous dyslexic writers, Agatha Christie, Anne Rice, Stephen King and Fannie Flag, just to name a few.

Making one of my college films:

college film stills

I completed my ND and fortunately I happened to already live in the town which had one of the best film degrees in the UK. I think it was my sheer enthusiasm that won me a place on this competitive course. When I started I felt like everyone else on the course was much more experienced than me, but I kept up and the best piece of work I did in that first year was a written piece I chose to do on Nietzsche and Fight Club. I was told if I handed that in as my dissertation in my final year I would have got top marks. Towards the end of my first year at university, my now husband came back into my life and proposed. Soon after he was offered a job in San Francisco that he couldn’t turn down, after much deliberating I decided to make the move to California.

During my first ten months in San Francisco I was unable to work so I spent that time teaching myself to cook and writing. I was working on an idea I had before I left England, and it became my first screenplay. As soon as I got my green card I found a job at a video game company working in the HR department, but again, not doing something creative was killing me inside. So I revisited the characters I had created in those first ten months and enrolled on the first of two 10-week screenwriting workshops. By the end of the second workshop, (our starting out number of thirteen people had gone down to just three) I had a fairly good first draft of a 95 page screenplay, which got into the quarterfinals in the Blue Cat screenwriting competition and felt like I was on the right track.

When my husband got laid off from his job in 2008 we looked at it as an opportunity to move somewhere new and less expensive so we could live on one salary and I could focus solely on writing, and that is what I have done ever since. I wrote three more screenplays, attended many writing seminars, my favorite being Story by Robert McKee. It was in L.A. that I had the first ideas for the Lucy Lick-Me-Not series and that is when I started to write children's stories and discovered I loved it.

In 2015 I could feel my fifth screenplay needed more than my favored 90 pages and halfway through I attempted to write it as a novel and the story flowed much better. It was a little intimidating to leave behind the format of screenplays which I felt I had mastered and venture into new territory, but it was freeing as well. As I work on this novel I’m also preparing my first a young adult novel and I have many other children's stories, several of which are ready to be illustrated. Sometimes it feels like there is not enough time to do all these things, and I'd like to have them all out and published in the world now, but I don't want to rush my writing, I want it to be perfect. Every single word is chosen specifically, whether it's a children's rhyming story or a novel for adults. I'll rush the washing up. To be honest, I rush most of the things I don't enjoy - if you open some of my kitchen cupboards you may end up under a pile of precariously strewn Tupperware, if my hair looks crazy, so what? I do not consider myself a perfectionist, but when it comes to my writing, that's another story.

More soon,


A new home, a new season, a new project

For me the Gaelic calendar feels more natural for the seasons, especially when you see crocuses and snow drops sprouting in February. If you were following the Gaelic calendar, the spring months would be February, March and April, summer would be May, June, and July, autumn would be August, September and October, and winter would be November, December and January.

As I mentioned in previous posts I recently moved to the Pacific Northwest. It's the first relocation (out of many) that we have done with the seasons. It felt right to relocate and start fresh in the spring, planting real roots for the first time in a decade. I love that people used to plan their lives by the seasons - they had to. And having that natural rhythm to follow during this move has made it feel so much easier than all our previous relocations, which tended to happen in the autumn and made our lives hectic and busy at the time of year when things should be slowing down, and we would all like to be getting into a different rhythm for coming the winter months.

Springtime brings about images of renewal and new beginnings, and that is when we found our new home and began getting all the interior work done. We moved into our house in summer, and have been settling in to a more relaxed pace of life and enjoying the many flowers in our garden and ripe plums from our tree:

summer CC

I'm very excited for the autumn and for being able to enjoy it properly now that we are settled into our new life. It will be our first real one in about eight years, and I can't wait to see the fall colors here and wear scarves and sweaters again. I'm looking forward to working in the garden and pruning it back for the winter and smelling that crispness in the air that is prevalent on most September mornings.

My back is still slowly getting more comfortable, physical therapy is helping and so I am back to writing a bit more and it feels good. I'm reworking a one-off children's story that is set around Halloween and features some new characters and a couple of seasonal monsters - more to come on that soon. For now Lucy Lick-Me-Not is taking a little break, but we'll update the FB page and website when there is more news on her return. Hopefully it won't be too long.

(Artwork by Bret Burkmar)

lucy in bed

More soon,


A room with a view (at last!)

It's been just over two years since I started this blog and wrote about my little writing cupboard in my first post. After relocating up north I now have a writing room with an actual window (well two actual windows!) I can see many types of trees from both, and I love hearing and seeing all the different kinds of birds outside in our rural setting. I especially love to hear the roosters from the many friendly neighbors around me who raise chickens and have kindly welcomed us to the neighborhood by bringing over fresh eggs with yolks the color of sunshine. It is a stark difference to the sounds of busy city life I could hear from the dark cupboard I used to write in. The walk I take my girl, Murphy, on leads to the Puget Sound and on the way we even get to see a llama who is becoming less shy each time we pass him.

Some pics of the new writing room and our walk:



I will keep the blog name, Notes from a cozy cupboard, because that is where my blog started and the new writing room has a cozy feel to it as well.

More soon,


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