Highs and lows of writing

It has been an odd 12 months (for everyone and everything, not just for my writing), there have been both highs and lows in my writing since I last up dated my website. Last year I was thrilled to be nominated for the BFS 2020 Best Newcomer Award for my collection Suffer Little Children, and also to have my short story Dendrochronolgy nominated for Best Short Story, and although I didn’t win, I was awarded this wonderful “Making up Words with Friends” trophy for my prowess at on-line scrabble by my fellow nominee (and dual award winner) Laura Mauro.

It was also my year for rejections. In 2020 I managed to write a novella, 10 short stories and a poem. The novella Matryoshka I am happy to say is being published by Hersham Horror on April 21st, and the poem was published as part of the Sinister Horror company’s Christmas Advent Calender. Of the remaining stories (and some that I completed in 2019) I submitted them 25 times: I have so far received 17 rejections (In addition to my own I also received two for someone called Jenny, please give her my condolences, and one for a completely different author who had subbed to the same anthology), 3 acceptances, 1 invite that is still pending final acceptance, and there are still 4 open submissions I am waiting to hear back from. For me that waiting is the hardest bit of the writing process,  though that rejection smarts when it pings into your inbox (I scored bonus points last year for shortest time before a rejection when a short story was rejected in 2 minutes). On the plus side a quick rejection does mean that you can get that story ready to be submitted once again.

I am appallingly bad at updating this website, or actually writing anything of any interest within these pages (my critics may say any pages). But I thought I’d better do a post with how things have been going so far this year. On a personal note I have now moved house, so have escaped landlocked Leicester and now have a beautiful sea view from my new house (building site) in Devon, my study sensibly has no view, it doesn’t even have a window.

From a writing point of view there have been ups and downs this year. On the upside I have had my first collection “Suffer Little Children” published by Black Shuck Books (thank you to Steve Shaw for publishing it, and to everyone who has read, reviewed, or taken the time to let me know what they think of it, it is greatly appreciated).

I’ve also had an invite to an anthology published by Hersham Horror called “The Woods” which was edited by Phil Sloman, and an acceptance into an anthology published by Things in the Well called “Trickster’s Treats #3: The Seven Deadly Sins Edition” which was edited by Marie O’Regan and Lee Murray.

In August I attended Worldcon in Dublin for the first time. Where I threw myself into proceedings with gusto. Participating as a panellist and as part of the Skulk players play reading, as well as going to as many other panels, talks, readings and literary beers as I could manage.

Coming up on Saturday 5th October I have been invited to chair a panel at the Crossroads festival in Leicester to discuss writing rules and when to break them. My panellists are the outstanding authors Alison Moore, Irfan Master and Shereen Malherbe. If you fancy coming up to see it, or to take part in any other aspects of the Crossroads writing festival then information and tickets can be found here.

Later in October I will be attending Fantasycon which I am really looking forward to, as it is a great time to meet friends both new and old, and always an amazing place to pick up new writing tips.

Then on the 27th October I will be at Horrorcon in Taunton selling my wares with a whole host of other amazing horror authors. If you fancy coming along then information and tickets can be found here.

In regards to writing lows. I set myself the target this year of writing and submitting 12 short stories to open submissions, and although I managed to stick to this through the start of the year (and had even managed to write and submit more than one a month so had some in the bank for when I moved house). A very stressful move, and now having to juggle work, life and building works, means that I have fallen behind on this and my current tally stands at 7 stories written and submitted. Of these stories one is still holding on for dear life in the submission process, one was accepted, and 5 have been rejected. Though whenever a new rejection pops up in my inbox, I am trying to think of new markets to submit the stories to.

So long story short, if you find yourself at any of the writing events I’m attending this month, please come up and say “Hi”. It’ll be lovely to meet you, and I promise not to bore to much with tales of plumbers and builders.


Well last year was the first year that I didn’t manage my new years resolution. I had resolved to write and submit twelve short stories, one per month, and things went well until about May when life, work, health, and lots of other excuses got in the way. So in the end, last year I actually wrote and submitted:

10 Short stories 


5 Non-fiction articles

So not too bad, but not quite what I was hoping to achieve. So this year I am going to be a bit more organised with my writing. I have already written and submitted two non-fiction articles, and I have tweaked my synopsis and cover letter for my novel and submitted that to a publisher. I have also managed to kick the gremlins out of my website, so it all looks pretty again.

Goals for the rest of the year are again to write and submit twelve short stories (I already have outlines for three stories and know which open submissions I want to send them to). On top of that I currently have one invite to an anthology (I’m always open to more of these 😀), I want to finish work on my first collection, and I have another novel in the pipeline.

Hope you all have a wonderful year, and good luck to you all, whatever your resolutions are.

Fun times and not updating your website

If you happened across my website you might have believed that there was little going on in this writer’s mind, as I have been somewhat lax in the last 12 months with updating my website. (Those weekly writers prompts, have been anything but prompt, but don’t say I didn’t warn you, I did!) There has however been a lot of fiction writing happening. I have finished and edited my first novel, which I have started sending out to editors, and I’ve had three new short stories published this year (you can find details of these over on my bibliography page).

Much fun and shenanigans has also been happening with trips to Edinburgh Horrorcon, EdgeLit, Fantasycon (Thanks must go to the wonderful Jim Mcleod from Gingernuts of Horror whose photo from Fantasycon I have shamelessly stolen), and later this month I will be at my last convention of the year SledgeLit. So although I may have been a little lax on posting here, there is still stuff going on. Maybe my new years resolution next year will be to actually keep on top of all the admin stuff (but probably not).


This Saturday I am making my way across to deepest, darkest Derby, to attend the friendliest convention ever Sledge-Lit, the sister convention to its summer twin Edge-Lit (and yes it is only called that because Alex Davies who runs it loves a good pun).

Now usually you can find me at the bar, but this year I will have to remain sober(ish) as I am one of the guest speakers. I am running a workshop at 10.30, then I am chairing a panel on social media at 14.30, which will see me picking the very talented brains of Stephen Aryan, Daniel Marc Chant, Claire North and Mark West. Then at 16.30 I am on a horror panel with the amazing Simon Clark, Alison Littlewood, Justin Park and Sarah Pinborough.

My highlights of the day though will be the dual launch for Dark Minds Press who are launching their anthology Impostor Syndrome, and Fox Spirit Books who are launching Tracy Fahey’s new book The Girl in the Fort. Then of course there is the rambunctious Sledge Lit raffle, which this year is being hosted by the notorious Sarah Pinborough and the lovely Gary McMahon. Also who can forget the gorgeous Pixie Peigh whose smiling countenance brightens up our day (she pretends she’s a grump, but Pixie is the heart of the convention and we all love her and her raffle tickets).

So why not come along, you can find more info, the schedule and tickets here.


Fantasycon launch of Great British Horror 2: Dark Satanic Mills

For anyone going to Fantasycon; Black Shuck Books are launching Great British Horror 2: Dark Satanic Mills, at 4 o’clock on the Friday in the Broadway Suite.Great British Horror 2 - with Penny Jones writer

I’ll be there scribbling in books, you’ll be able to tell who I am as I’ll be the really excited person, who may have had a tad too much to drink (I know it’s early, but I’ll need it to get over my nerves), and will probably have a face covered in cake (The editor has bribed me with cake, but he’s done this before and the cake is always a lie 😢).

Black Shuck Books has a special offer for all Fantasycon attendees, where you can get Great British Horror 2: Dark Satanic Mills, and John Llewellyn Probert’s Made for the Dark, at the special convention price of £35.00 for both titles. You can find the offer here.

So please come along and help fend off the terrible imposter syndrome that I am suffering from (I can’t guarantee there will be cake, but I can guarantee there will be books).

Haunted Houses at Hollycombe

Spook-o-meter 👻

Haunted House at Hollycombe

Ye Haunted Cottage was built by Orton & Spooner in the early 1900’s. It is one of the oldest haunted houses that you can still go inside. Although people were obviously more easily scared in the olden days, it is still worth going for a stroll round it. A real piece of fairground history. It can be found at Hollycombe Steam In The Country in Hampshire.



Web(sites) and (Google)spiders

Or the horror of setting up your website

As a writer I can see the pros of using computers (mainly the ease of reading my notes when typed, rather than having to try and decipher the scrawling which is my handwriting), and the joys of the internet (the convention buzz never has to end).

Edge Lit T-shirt

However I have been putting off getting my own website set up, I only caved in because Steve Shaw of Black Shuck Books wanted to know my website details for my bio in the upcoming anthology Dark Satanic Mills which you can find here.

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