Terrific new anthology

I’m proud to have two stories included in this fabulous new anthology of finalists in the 2022 Leicester Writes Short Story Prize, now available from Dahlia Books. One of my stories won second prize, the judges saying: ‘Maybe Baby’ by Dianne Bown-Wilson is a wonderful examination of motherhood and a masterclass in pace.’ My second story, ‘The Ache for Home’ was shortlisted – you’ll have to make up your own mind about its strengths!
Please do order a copy; it’s not just a fantastic read, but small publishers like Dahlia need all the support they can get.

Out now: Degrees of Exposure

Here it is – my second collection of short stories, newly published and just waiting for an audience!

A young man is seduced by a knitting sorceress. A couple weekending in Copenhagen bond through an unexpected donation of wedding cake. An old ex-mercenary, cut off by floodwaters, finds himself transformed into James Bond. Two worlds collide in an out-of-town retail park as a middle-aged woman helps two asylum seekers in their quest for a better life…

In this new collection of thirty-three contemporary short stories, readers are invited to dip into different worlds, walking hand-in-hand with an eclectic and colourful range of characters as they deal with love, hope, joy, disappointment, and loss. All the featured stories have either won prizes or been short- or long-listed in international creative writing competitions. Feedback includes:

‘Moving and Inspirational’ – Writers Forum ((That) Hollow Place)

‘Wonderfully imaginative’ – Yeovil Literary Prize (Seesaw of Isolation)

‘Someone with a magical way with writing’ – Writing Magazine (Stitched Up)

‘Beautifully paced’ – Dahlia Press (Nighthawks)

Degrees of Exposure is available from Amazon or FeedaRead in paperback or ebook format. Reviews and recommendations are always appreciated.

In the Kitchen – a remarkable new anthology

This collection is a surprising platter of delightful and peculiar short stories by new and established writers that allow you to lose yourself in their magic.

“In the Kitchen is an anthology which showcases the best of food-inspired writing, with each beguiling story interpreting the theme in a different way. Food, in the hands of these writers, becomes a route into our memories, into magic, rebellion, grief and joy.” CG Menon


Talim Arab, Rachel Beresford-Davies, Dianne Bown-Wilson, Mona Dash, Sarah Evans, Vanessa Jarrett, Emily Monaco, Thomas Morgan, Angela Readman, Madeehah Reza, Reshma Ruia, JP Sanders, Nasia Sarwar-Skuse, Janet H. Swinney, Vanessa Timothy, Jane Wagar, Julia Wood, Alison Woodhouse, Rabi’atu T. Yakubu, Karen Yu.

Available now from the publishers, Dahlia Press

New Anthology: Garage 54 & Other Stories

Garage 54 and Other Stories is a new anthology of short stories and poems from the Swansea and District Writers Circle. The pieces were chosen from those entered into their 2015 writing competitions. These original works are a range of genres and form an enjoyable mix to dip into as you choose.

I am delighted that my story The Absence of Something received a commendation in the 2015 short story competition and is included in the book.

Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither

sara baumeI’ve just finished reading Sara Baume’s award-winning Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither. I thought it was a fantastic creation, a hugely impressive  piece considering that it breaks many of the rules of storytelling. Very little happens. There’s a scant amount of dialogue (if any?). The main character – the narrator – isn’t hugely likeable… And yet, it really works –  what a great achievement.

As it is such an unusual book I was prompted to read the reviews on Amazon (with my writer’s hat on) to see what others made of it.

Predictably, for over three-quarters of reviewers, it was a four or five star read. Many said that they thought it was one of the best things they’d ever read: “poignant and thought-provoking”, “quietly brilliant”, “unbelievably moving” – you get the drift.

Unsurprisingly, some didn’t rate it so highly – but it’s easy to see that it wouldn’t necessarily be everyone’s cup of char.

But one review really amused me, from one of those people who not only will tell you that they don’t like your work, but exactly where you, in your naive stupidity, have gone wrong: “…this book is flawed. It’s a shame that the reviews it has gathered (here and in national newspapers) have been so lacking in critical analysis. It’s not good for a young author to be left unaware of the ways in which her work could improve…” 

I wonder if this reviewer marks exam papers as her day job?


The Momaya Annual Review 2015

momayaThe Momaya Annual Review has just been published and I’m delighted that one of my stories – In the Frame – has been included. It received an honourable mention in the Momaya Press short story competition with the theme this year being ‘treasure’.

The foreword of the book starts with the words:

“You are holding in your hands a compilation of some of the finest short stories written in English this year.” Wow.

Book or film – chalk or cheese?

I’ve just been galvanised into re-reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods by having seen the truly dreadful film that it was based on.

I’m surprised to find that quite a bit more of the film actually emanated from the book than I suspected, but somehow events that seem amusing and entertaining in print have turned into toe-curling idiocy on screen.

I had suspected when I read the first reviews that I was going to be disappointed but with the Bill Bryson connection I figured that really, it would be okay…. Really, it isn’t.

In my experience, few good books translate well onto the big screen which is hardly surprising as they represent two totally different emotional and sensory experiences. Of course, there are many great films which have been based on books, but it seems that in general the two need to be seen as unrelated if they are to be fully appreciated.

Apparently, as you might expect, they are going to be making Girl on a Train into a film. It’s hard to see how most, if any, of the emotional detail that is its strength can be retained.

Henshaw Treats

I’m delighted to have two of my stories included in Henshaw Treats an anthology just published by Henshaw Press.  The book contains thirty two of the prize winning and highly commended stories from the Henshaw Short Story Competitions over the past two years. All proceeds go to  Save the Children, so it would be great if you could support both the competition and the charity by buying the book.

A story that stays with you

I’ve just, rather belatedly, been catching up on all the stories in the Momaya 2014 annual review. The first of them, which wasn’t one of the top three, is nevertheless the one that I found the most memorable. Dog Days by Matt Barnard is just a simple story about a man and a dog. Simple – but really CoverImageFRONT-197x300powerful.

Writing competition organisers  often say they’re looking for the stories that stay with you long after you’ve read them. This is one of those.

Loved it! (and I’m not a dog person…) It gets the “I wish I’d written it” vote from me.