books

Wings in a Wounded Sky – new middle-grade novel cover reveal!

Hi everyone, just a quick post about my upcoming middle grade fantasy novel, Wings in a Wounded Sky.

The book is in the final stages of production, and will likely be out by the end of this month (my publisher tends not to have rigid release dates, so sometimes it’s a bit of a guessing game). As such – and since I’m really excited to share it – I thought I’d reveal the book’s glorious cover:

Here’s the draft blurb, to give you an idea of what the book’s about:

While orphaned Ogg, Rae, dreams of being able to socialise with humans, she doesn’t expect to be welcomed into the home of two complete strangers. When she learns they’re from another land and have no idea that humans are supposed to fear and hate Oggs, she begins to settle down and count them as family.

But when the mysterious phenomena that brought them there – great gashes in the sky that cause dramatic shifts within Culmina’s landscape – suddenly get more frequent, the situation soon threatens Rae’s new-found way of life. Discovering that the cause is the war between the Fae and the Dragon-people, who live on floating cities high above the clouds, she vows to put an end to it to save those she loves.

However, to do so, she must team up with the sassy ninth princess of the dragon-people, the down-trodden third prince of the Fae, and Max, a fellow orphan and hot-air balloon enthusiast. When prejudice runs high, she has to fight to make them co-operate, and time is running out. 

Uncategorized

What I’ve been up to lately

Hi everyone, I know this blog’s been quiet for some time — longer than I anticipated in my last update — so I thought I’d check in for a bit.

I’m still recovering from burn out, thus I’ve been trying to take it easy with writing and other ‘work’ things and instead have been attempting more hobbies/relaxing activities (like finally getting The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s DLC and messing around with that and other games. I’ve missed Zelda, a lot.)

I did start editing a children’s poetry collection (that I initially wrote back in January 2020) as a light re-introduction to other editing bits I want to do this year, however, I received edits for my upcoming middle grade fantasy novel from my publisher, and ended up deep-diving into those to get them done by the deadline. I could have asked for an extension, but I had some appointments for personal and medical stuff coming up, and I wanted to finish the edits before then, as appointments (for anything) drain me tremendously, so I pushed through. (And now I’m feeling it.)

I’m hoping to go back to gently editing that poetry collection sometime next week, once all appointments are done and over with. In the meantime, I’ve been compiling a huge (four pages) list of notes to show the doctor for the last remaining appointment in case I get overwhelmed and lose my words, or go hyper and ramble off into irrelevant information (sometimes, both of those happen, which is… interesting. Either way, having to explain things about myself always leaves me exhausted), and attempting to make my website look better.

One thing I really should mention is that the lovely people at the RSPB put me forward for their ‘star volunteer’ nomination for the work I did on #52weeksofnaturepoetry, and somehow, I was actually chosen. I’m delighted and very thankful, as their fundraising team really did a lot to help me throughout my fundraiser, and honestly, it was just so nice to hear that they enjoyed my poems.

I’m also starting to query a new project (a paranormal teen/young YA novel with a mix of Garth Nix’s Sabriel and Hocus Pocus vibes) with literary agents, though as querying was one of the things that really took its toll on me last year, I’m trying to pace myself and be very selective with who I send my query to so I don’t overwhelm myself with it all.

Thanks for reading this far — this is all I can think of for now. Blogging will likely be sporadic this year, as I’m really hoping to focus on self-care and not bury myself under figurative mountains of writing. But it is hard, as every time I attempt to rest, my brain tries to tell me I’m not being productive or proving my worth to society, which isn’t helpful in the slightest. (For those interested, I’m on Universal Credit, which is a UK benefit that many people have to rely on for income for various reasons. As I’m on it because I can’t work in traditional environments and get overwhelmed by other people, I always feel like I need to be doing something to ‘earn’ the money I receive. It’s not a healthy way of thinking, but at the moment, I can’t shake it.)

Anyway, until next time!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Uncategorized

#52weeksofnaturepoetry Fundraising Goal Reached (and general update)

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything as I’ve been recovering from burn out.

As usual, for the past year I’ve been engaged in various writing projects, and as I seem to be incapable of resting until everything’s done, I went overboard and worked myself into exhaustion. (Finding a good balance with writing is a constant struggle for me, because if I try to rest/pace myself, my brain kicks in with telling me I’m being lazy or stuff won’t get finished. Which is sort of true, because if I don’t make a conscious effort to keep going with something, it is likely the project won’t go anywhere.)

But anyway, that aside, I am incredibly proud to formally announce that I reached my fundraising goal of £500 for my #52weeksofnaturepoetry RSPB fundraiser, which ran from 1st November 2020 – 1st November 2021. The lovely people on the RSPB’s fundraising team supported me throughout, as did all my family and friends — and, of course, the kind, wonderful individuals who donated to the cause. Thank you all so much, I’m overwhelmingly grateful!

It’s amazing to have actually achieved my target, as I’ve tried fundraising in the past and it didn’t go so well. No only regarding donations, but also support. It really does make a huge difference to feel supported, both practically and emotionally, while fundraising, as it can be very demoralising when others dismiss what you’re desperately trying to achieve.

I wanted to help the RSPB because what they do for our wildlife is wonderful, and much needed, but my difficulties being around people and busy environments mean that the bigger projects and public events aren’t an option for me to join in with. So I have to work with what I can do, rather than focusing on what I can’t, and even if the difference I make is small, it doesn’t mean it’s pointless. (For anyone wondering, yes, I have been told before that working to support nature and environment charities/organisations is pointless because bad stuff still goes on. But I’m now surrounded with more encouraging, positive people, and thus strive not to let such negativity get to me.)

Moving forward, I am looking to get the poems published as a complete collection, with a percentage of the proceeds going to the RSPB. How long it’ll take me to either find a compatible publisher or self-publish the collection myself, I’m not sure, but I believe it’ll happen eventually — and when it does, I’ll post about it here.

I may not post again before the new year, as I promised myself to take a decent break from everything for a while, but after that I feel it’d be nice to write more poetry for this blog and maybe an article or two of random things I find interesting.

Until then, ciao!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Trickles – Week 52 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Raising money for RSPB)

How many ages

has this little stream sought to carve its mark,

tirelessly trickling downhill,

working particle by particle

to outline its bed?

Giants grow beside it,

a hundred variations

of leaves, stems, flowers, dangling tendrils

catching every spare droplet –

yet they weren’t even saplings, or seeds, or spores

when the stream began its task.

Other flora grew in their place, and before that,

more still.

Generations have passed

watching the water lick on,

and the ground, impressed by its perseverance,

took shape from it,

drawing a steep, gaping mouth

with fall-filled yawns.

Now visitors congregate

to the fruit of the stream’s toil:

a quiet ravine splashed with every kind of green,

picturesque to them,

practical and well-stocked

to the fauna, great and small,

who keep it company.

This 52nd poem is the final part of a project I’ve been doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. The donation page will be left up until the end of November 2021 (if not longer). Thank you for your support!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

In the Sculpture’s Mouth – Week 51 #52weeksofnaturepoetry RSPB Fundraiser

Mouth agape, silent war cry.

Body hammered scrap metal,

dusty, coarse red

from the elements.

Hardly a place

you’d expect to find three plump feather-balls

chirping for their parents.

Yet, in the gap between those rusted fangs,

they huddle within their nest.

A blush of yellow and grey

flicks from the rooftops to the sculpture’s head,

tail wagging up and down,

dripping water caught on its plumage

(a tell of its quick visit to the neighbour’s fountain).

Eyeing people in the distance, it pauses:

just another feature of the motionless guard.

All clear, it returns to its young

and fills their empty crops

with plentiful spoils.

Little worry for nimble predators

happening upon its modest family,

for, as in previous years, the imposing figure

proves a mighty deterrent.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here.

I was inspired to write this poem by a letter I read in the RSPB’s Nature’s Home magazine that had been sent in by a member of the public. The letter and accompanying photos featured a family of grey wagtails nesting in the mouth of a scrap metal sculpture, going on to say that the sculpture’s owner had seen the birds nesting there the previous year too, and so never wants to sell it. Cool, right?

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry, Uncategorized

More To Moles – Week 50 #52weeksofnaturepoetry: RSPB Fundraiser

Underground shadows,

excavating with spade-like paws,

redistributing nutrients,

aerating, creating

vital drainage in otherwise compacted ground.

Above, we see marks of their passage –

mounds of well-turned earth,

from clearing their intricate tunnels.

Occasionally, they emerge,

noses appearing first

like eager bulbs shooting up debut leaves.

But tunnels don’t dig themselves;

back to work,

shifting between activity and sleep

every four hours.

Shy creatures, they disturb few.

Still, they are called out,

considered ‘pests’,

driven away.

Caught. Killed.

Bodies strung on fences to prove the count.

And all to protect land

reserved for nothing more

than human pastimes

and profit.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

A Plea to the Wizard’s Tree (or Fid Na Ndruad) – Week 49 #52weeksofnaturepoetry

Oh, Rowan! Fine, sturdy tree!

Won’t you grow beside our house

to repel wayward spirits wishing harm?

Mischievous fae; witches

threatening to curse family, crops

and land.

Your clusters of cream flowers

invoke days full of joy,

and each sour, scarlet fruit

wards against malevolence.

From the silvery grey of your bark

to your feather-like leaflets,

you could shield our grounds from unsavoury folk

without even trying.

In return, we’ll protect you

from woodcutters’ metallic bites,

mulch the ground by your roots,

restrict the harvesting of your berries

(which, you should be proud to hear,

 make wonderfully tart jam)

so each thrush, redstart, blackbird and waxwing

who visits won’t starve.

Dear fid na ndruad,

I don’t believe you acknowledge

how wonderful you are:

spoons turned from your fallen wood

keep milk from curdling,

a charm of bark in our pocket

eases rheumatic limbs,

and when we find our path unclear,

you’re the key that helps us divine.

So please, I know it’s a lot to ask,

but would you kindly indulge us

one last time?

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Not Just A Vampire’s Friend – Week 48 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for RSPB)

Cult classics feature their likenesses

in every other scene,

encouraging rumours of blood-thirsty beings

partial

to sinking their teeth into human veins.

And while, yes, Vampire bats do exist,

they’re native

to Central and South America:

weighing just two ounces,

their subtle feeding habits

don’t even disturb their prey.

Now, swing your attention

to (the often overcast) British skies,

and listen as I tell you

of the wonderous night-time furry fliers

woodlands and old buildings

readily hide.

Microbats, they’re dubbed,

as on the whole, they are rather small.

Don’t be fooled into thinking

they’re a single species, however,

for the term encompasses seventeen families,

diverse in every way –

from ear length to where they roost,

nose shape, and fur colour, too.

(And for those of you concerned,

they’re insectivores, all.)

Echolocation, that mystical-seeming skill —

with it, they navigate

the all-important hedgerow paths

between sheltered sleeping quarters

to feeding grounds,

where they zoom, zoom

to snap up flies, moths and gnats.

Yet threats lurk everywhere,

sometimes in the shape

of a misinformed homeowner,

fearing wires and woodwork

will be gnawed.

Forced awake and shunted out

during hibernation,

precious energy reserves deplete

until the bats

can go on no more.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Pine Marten – Week 47 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for wildlife charity RSPB)

Cream bib, dark coffee face and fur;

initially, you might murmur, ‘Stoat.’

After all, martens are scarce now, rare.

Mainly lying low in Scotland,

favouring highlands

where their natural habitat remains;

once they boomed

well past its borders.

Look again, hone your focus, take note:

cat-like features and size,

bushy tail,

how comfortably it climbs trees!

(And leaves sweet-smelling, coiled scats,

blue in summer from bilberries.)

Curious, independent, nimble.

A social being?

Not so much, unless it’s time

to partner up.

But the season isn’t yet right

for yowling on the evening air.

Its stomach calls for food,

and to that it must attend.

There it goes, popping

from its resting spot

(snug tree cavities are wonderfully comfortable,

don’t you know?),

and wanders through the hectares

of rich forest

it’s claimed its own.

On the menu? Small mammals.

So beware those semi-retractable claws,

little ones!

A cuddly face masks our hunter’s prowess.

Underestimation

often leads to dinner.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

A Sadness Of Green – Week 46 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for RSPB)

Excitement livens my breath.

I’m headed back,

into the woods full of memories;

hours spent trailing behind our family pooch,

zigzagging, scrambling

through ferny tongues, thorny tangles

and thick ivy tendrils.

High-fiving trees that reached out to catch me

when I slipped, often, in the mud.

She rests at home today,

sun too determined

for her paws and dark, greying coat

to fend off.

Yet my longing for familiar adventure

isn’t dulled. 

That is, until I catch sight

of her favourite path.

Opened out, cut back.

Bare.

So bare and stark

that it’s a stranger, an unknown entity

I’ve bumped into

on the way to my actual destination.

Except this alien place,

with its look-alike trees –

reminiscent of beautiful oaks

I once paused                   to catch my breath by –

surrounded by dry, cracked soil

instead of elegant green skirts,

is no stranger at all.

Just a dusty, sad friend

I wish I could care for,

but who is being held, encouraged to fade,

by keepers I cannot reach.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!