In The Beginning …
I began writing in my early teens, and a couple of years later saw my first published piece in October 1989. Hooked from then on in, I spent as much of my free time writing as I could. Fifteen years later, in January 2004, I did something that every writing book on the planet tells you not to do – I jacked in the day job and became a full time writer. Well, if you don’t try, you’ll never find out will you?
At the age of 14 I wrote to several famous writers asking for their advice, which included:
● Don’t – become a brain surgeon instead, it’s easier. (Alan Bleasdale)
● Never give up. (John Sullivan)
● Draw on what’s around you. (Alan Ayckbourn)
Looking back, I wholeheartedly concur will all of those. Becoming a Brain Surgeon would probably have taken less than 15 years. Nor did I give up, which is how I came to get my first book published. (Nothing surprised me more than when the publishers of my first book, 100 Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human, were forced to print 100,000 copies in the run up to Christmas 2003, such was its success.) And I’ve certainly drawn upon what’s around me – how else do you think I managed to write a book about banking, another about applying for community grants, one about running a writers’ circle and yet another about walking in the Welsh borders?
After spending eight years working for Barclays Bank in south-west London, the Welsh borders beckoned, where the summer of 1997 was spent settling in. The final months of that year saw me employed in the local offices of the DSS for three months, before moving on to the Rural Development Commission for six months.
From there, the Community & Economic Development Unit of Herefordshire Council beckoned between July 1998 and January 2004.
In the meantime I kept sending out the articles and other ideas, with more and more success, becoming a regular contributor to Country Walking magazine’s ‘Down Your Way’ section (now called Britain’s Best Walks). In September 2003, Hodder & Stoughton published 100 Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human. Re-organisation at Herefordshire Council at the same time seemed to be fate suggesting that perhaps now was the time to have a crack at this writing game full time. So, in January 2004, I did just that.
So there we have it. My writing journey so far. And like many writers, I couldn’t have got this far without the help and support of a couple of other organisations, including the Society of Authors and the Outdoor Writers & Photographers Guild.
As you explore my website you might also spot that I dabble behind the camera too. (Check out the Photography section.) I’m not, though, happy about being in front of a camera, although some people have successfully caught me unaware, as my Facebook page testifies. (Note to self: must try harder.)
Here’s what’s been keeping me busy over the last few years …
The Business of Writing – Volume 1
Ten Teatime Tales 2
Teatime Tales Box Set
One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human – Icelandic Edition
Wunderlist for Writers
The Complete Article Writer published by Createspace
Photography for Writers published by Compass Points
The Bluffer’s Guide to Dogs published by Bluffer’s
The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking (revised & updated) published by Bluffer’s
Revision and update of the Non-Fiction Modules of a Creative Writing distance learning course.
5th Place in the Writers’ Digest Annual Awards – Article Category
The Positively Productive Writer published by Compass Books
Effective Project Management distance learning course
Shortlisted – The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Short Story Competition 2011
Proofreading & Copy-editing distance learning course
Finance for Non-Financial Managers distance learning course
Effective Time Management distance learning course
The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking published by Oval Books
The Bluffer’s Guide to Banking published by Oval Books
The Little Book of Alternative Garden Wisdom published by Zymurgy Publishing
Best Walks in the Welsh Borders published by Frances Lincoln
Fundraising for a Community Project published by How To Books Ltd
First Prize – Best Non-Fiction Article – National Association of Writers’ Groups Awards for Creative Writing
Award for Excellence – Outdoor Writers’ Guild – for Best Features (Series) category
Nominated for Excellence in the Book: Humour category – Dog Writers Association of America
Running A Writers’ Circle published by Ignotus Press
Puppytalk – 50 Ways To Make Friends With Your Puppy published by Hodder Childrens Books
One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human (Italian version) published by TEA in Italy
One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human (North America version) published by Adams Media
First Prize – Shrewsbury Literary Competition Feature Article
One Hundred Muddy Paws For Thought published by Hodder & Stoughton
One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human (Portuguese version) published by Caes, Gatos & Companhia
One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human published by Hodder & Stoughton
First Prize in The David Thomas Charitable Trust/Writers News Writing Awards Foggy Morning competition.
Stories published in Take A Break magazine, Woman’s Weekly, Fiction Feast, People’s Friend, The Weekly News, That’s Life, Fast Fiction in Australia/New Zealand, Yours Fiction Special and Ireland’s Own.
100 Stories for Queensland Anthology – Painting By Numbers used in charitable anthology produced to raise money for Australian flood victims.
3rd Prize – www.5minutefiction.co.uk Valentines Day competition 2012
Shortlisted – The First NAWG Open Short Story Competition 2011
Shortlisted – Exeter Writers Circle Short Story competition 2011.
Top 8 – Write Space “Lost Love” competition 2010.
Top 5 – Write Space “Families” competition 2009.
First Prize – Wrekin Writers short story competition 2007.
3rd Prize – Swanley Scribblers Short Story Competition 2006.
Highly Commended – NAWG 2004 Short Story competition.
Short listed (final 10) – Writers News Postcard Competition – September 2003.
Short listed – Kings Lynn Writers’ Circle Short Story Competition – July 2003.
First Prize – Writers News Foggy Morning Short Story competition – April 1998.
– Regular contributor of travel pieces to The People’s Friend
– The Business of Writing series in Writing Magazine (since April 2014)
– Regular Contributor to Country Walking’s ‘Britain’s Best Walks’ section since 2004.
– Provider of Country & Border Life’s ‘Walking’ column for six years as well as producing several one-off features for the editor on a range of topics including history and local events. Also provided the ‘Practical Fashion With Simon Whaley’ feature for 12 months.
– Regular contributor to BBC Countryfile’s Great Days Out section.
Other features provided for The Simple Things, Hotel, The Lady, Water Gardener, Dogs Monthly, In Britain, Walking Wales, Garden Ideas, Trail, PetDogs, Trail, On Foot, Country Quest, The Link, Cumbria & Lake District, Holiday Cottages, The Author, British Heritage, Discover Britain, Outdoor Photography, Cheshire Life, The Daily Express, The Observer. Most features are offered with my own images for illustrative purposes. Regularly produced articles for Internet websites.
2016 – Shortlisted in the I Must Be Off travel writing competition
2016 – Runner up in the Bradt Slow Shropshire Travel Writing competition
2013 – 5th place in the Writers’ Digest (USA) Annual Writing Awards – Feature category
2012 – Long listed in the Walkopedia Travel Writing Competition
2006 – Award for Excellence from the Outdoor Writers’ Guild for my Country & Border Life walks and features.
2006 – 1st Prize – National Association of Writer’s Groups Article Competition.
2005 – 1st Prize in the County Signpost Travel Article Competition
2005 – 1st Prize in the Shrewsbury Readers and Writers article competition
DISTANCE LEARNING COURSES (WRITERS BUREAU/STT TRAINING)
2013 – Updated the non-fiction modules of Comprehensive Creative Writing Course
2010 – Effective Time Management.
2010 – Effective Project Management.
2009 – Finance for Non-Financial Managers.
2008 – Proofreading & Copy Editing.
‘Crossing The Threshold’ – a community grant toolkit for the Diocese of Hereford.
2005 – Ten pages of content for the Wales Tourist Board Guide – Walking Wales.
Stilwell’s Independent Cottage Brochure – Introduction
The Writers Bureau – tutoring over 1,000 students (2004-2016: non-fiction, fiction, proofreading & copy-editing, project management).
Writers’ Summer Holiday Tutor: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
NAWG Festival of Writing: 2007, 2008, 2012.
Swanwick Summer School: 2010
Regularly provide workshops for writers’ groups and events.
Transformational Books Ltd (USA) – Edited clients books, prior to production.
I regularly supply photographs to accompany my articles and, when needed, books. Several of my images have been used in calendars.
2011 – Shortlisted in the Outdoor Photographer of the Year – British Landscape category
The Society of Authors
The Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild