Tag Archives: the things we thought were beautiful

My Year in Writing 2020 (what a year!)

I’ve been doing a blog post on my year in writing on and off since 2014. I was going to forget about 2020 as a real humdinger, for obvious reasons. Then I thought, no, let’s go for it. I’ve had some ups and downs, but let’s see if I’ve learnt anything from them.

Let’s start with the good:

The Things We Thought Were Beautiful Poetry Book - my year in writing

The Things We Thought Were Beautiful came out!

I published my second poetry book, The Things We Thought Were Beautiful. Not only was it packed with poems old and new, I designed the cover myself and was reasonably pleased with it. And… it got some great reviews like this one from Amazon.com:

“The poem Sorted brought tears as did Before the Divorce. Poems like The Oak in the Snow and Dandelion… use sensitive observations of nature to bring us a shiver of transcendence. Love Wish is one of the most beautiful love poems I have ever read and the poem Unknown is an astounding tribute to fatherhood. These are important poems. I am delighted to have this book in my collection and will return to it many times.” 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Boy in the Burgundy Hood is doing well!

I know the writers out there will want to know how come, but the truth is for the first half of the year I don’t know. But I do know why more recently: I’ve finally worked out the esoteric process of creating good Amazon Ads. Believe me, it’s taken a while and I won’t bore you with how it works. Because it really is complicated and it changes all the time and it’s very easy to lose a load of money on it. If you’re an author and want to know comment below and I might write another post on it sometime. And that’s as much as I want to say about it for now. Not that I’m superstitious or anything, but I’m worried my formula is collapsing on me right now!

The Boy in the Burgundy Hood ghost story - my year in writing

My next book is in draft.

Alongside that, I now have the draft of a follow-on story to The Boy in the Burgundy Hood. It’s got the working title of The Girl in the Ivory Dress and it sees our feisty but vulnerable heroine heading to a haunted seaside guest house after a major tragedy. I’m aiming for it to be out in the spring – watch this space!

So that’s the good. What’s the bad, you ask? Well, let’s not even talk about Covid. Working from home has not been a problem, but teaching two boys who I’m sure are reincarnated gladiators was a challenge. But at least now I know what a Fronted Adverbial is. And needless to say, there’s been all the sadness of not seeing loved ones for vast swathes of the year.

I got my first bad review.

With regard to my writing, I got my first bad review on Amazon. That was a blow. I’ve read a couple of articles on the inevitability of it happening and I’m trying to see it as a kind of badge of honour. But it still hurts.

The articles I’d read did help. You get one bad review and think you’re a lousy writer, why did you ever think your words were good enough to give the public to read? As with many things in life, it’s easy to dwell on the negative. But then you have to remind yourself that you’re never going to please everybody. And the book at time of writing has 28 reviews, with 19 of them being 5🌟 – an average of 4.4 🌟. Lots of you did – do – like my book. You really do have to focus on the positive. So I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, THANK YOU so much to all of you who have taken the time to write a review of one of my books. They really do make a difference!

I didn’t get to meet any readers.

Another bad. For the first year since I published The City of Light back in 2014, I’ve not done a single author event, bookshop signing, festival or school visit. I know in the scale of Covid disasters it’s a teeny tiny one, but heck, I’ve missed that personal connection with readers. Social media is great up to a point – but it can’t replace that face-to-face chemistry.

And that also meant that I didn’t get out to promote the poetry book in person (the best way to promote all books but especially poetry which is a niche market anyway). So the sales of that were not as good as I’d hoped. Which is a big shame, because I think it’s every bit as good as Up in the Air, which sold well – but so far only a handful of people know that. So if you like poetry, a small plea this Christmas 👇

So that’s it, my year in writing. Some good, some bad. Remember, if you’d like to support an author this Christmas there’s still time (at posting) to order paperbacks as gifts for friends and family.

I really hope you have weathered this difficult year well. And I wish you a Merry Christmas and a much happier, saner new year!

All: poetry inspiration for lockdown

Into our seventh week of lockdown and I’m hoping to pass on some inspiration – so here’s a reading of ‘All’ from my new poetry book The Things We Thought Were Beautiful.

Find out more about The Things We Thought Were Beautiful here:

Sorted: a poem for World Poetry Day 2020

I’m posting this poem from The Things We Thought Were Beautiful for World Poetry Day not because it’s a ‘happy’ poem, but because sharing our sadness can also help us to pull through.

Many people think of poetry as a sideline, or even worse, an irrelevance. But for many of us, poems are a source of inspiration and comfort. Losing the possibility to see and hug our close relatives is surely one of the hardest things for us all to deal with at the moment.

This poem, Sorted, heads up the ‘Without Love’ section of The Things We Thought Were Beautiful, and it was written about the frustration and emptiness we often feel when we’re not with a lover. But I think it works just as well in the context of being apart from anyone we love.

Take care and stay safe.

Sorted poem

For the First Time – Poems on Video

Here’s a video of me reading “For the First Time”, a poem about finding love. It comes from my new poetry book, The Things We Thought Were Beautiful – out now on Amazon.


If you enjoyed it, you can purchase a copy here:


The Things We Thought Were Beautiful poetry out now!

I’m excited to announce that The Things We Thought Were Beautiful is out now on Amazon!

The Things We Thought Were Beautiful is my second book of poetry. It includes poems on our changing feelings and connection to nature and the world around us, the beauty and strangeness of travel, and the places we look for meaning. Poems explore the challenges of living without love, as well as the redemption of home and family.

Here’s a taster:

The Things We Thought Were  Beautiful - Dandelion poem

These are some of the things readers said about Up in the Air, my first collection:

“Beautiful and thought-provoking collection of poems that speak of life, death, love and nature…” Amazon UK

“I love this book. I keep it at my bedside to read a passage or two before getting up to start my day or at night before the lights go out.” Amazon.com

Order your copy now:

Note – this link is to the paperback – you need to search in the Kindle store for the ebook as it takes a few days for the formats to link.

Another World: The Things We Thought Were Beautiful

Another World: The Things We Thought Were Beautiful poetry book

I’m currently working on the final draft of my second poetry book, “The Things We Thought Were Beautiful”. Like “Up in the Air”, I’ve divided this one up into sections, the first of which is called “Another World”. The poems  in this section focus on the natural world and our desire to see more deeply into it.

One of my favourite poems is Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”, in which he talks of what the eye and ear ‘half create, and what perceive.’ I’ve always loved that line. It’s as if there really is a transcendent value in nature that we can grasp, or “perceive”.

But when Wordsworth talks about us “creating” it, is that in the sense of making it real – or just us making it up? And how do we know which bits are our own creation, and which bits are real? The true reality behind reality – if there is such a thing – can only ever be understood, or felt, in glimpses. Poetry is one of the best ways of having those glimpses.

To read more about why I love Wordsworth, check out this post.