September Song

It continues to be busy in the freelance and part-time editing world, which is a very exciting time. This is possibly going to be a long post, so sit down with a cuppa and start reading.

First, I’m very excited for the official book launch of The Original Suffrage Cook Book published by Aurora Metro Books. This will take place at The Exchange in Twickenham on Wednesday 26th September from 7pm. The How the Vote Was Won exhibition will How the Vote was won Suffrage Cook Bookalso be there making a pitstop on its current tour. The food historian Louise Quick (@Larquick on Twitter) will be talking about ‘Vegetarianism and the Sufragettes’, which should prove to be a wonderful talk. Cheryl Robson, from Aurora Metro, will also be talking about the new edition of the book, which includes short biographies of some of the notable contributors of recipes. Tickets are available from The Exchange website.

The book has been inspiring people to use the recipes from 1915 to create stunning food, and one of particular note is Emma Muscat (@20thCentCrush on Twitter), and she has kindly given me permission to use the photos in marketing for the book.

She made the apple sauce cake from p.102 of the book, and I have to say that it looks absolutely delicious, and I’ve been assured that it indeed was lovely. To be Suffrage Cook Book Emma Muscat 2018honest, I’m going to have to start getting into baking because this cake needs to be made in my kitchen. Many thanks to Emma for this fantastic photo which really deserves to have a book all of its own.

Moving on from the cook book, which I was very happy to be involved in, a new release from Aurora which I had more input was The Naturalists by Jaki McCarrick (@jakimccarrick on Twitter). This is a fantastic play set in Ireland and has been having its World Premiere in New York at Walkerspace, directed and produced by The Pond Theatre Company. I was extremely proud to have worked on this script in the production stage, and it is the first publication that has my name as book producer. I know Jaki is extremely happy with the rave reviews the play has been getting, and here’s hoping that it comes to London at some point so I can go and see it.

The Naturalists

I won’t spoil the story, so if you want to see it, be quick and get to New York. Or, failing that, buy it from Aurora Metro.

VW in RichmondMy book Virginia Woolf in Richmond is nearing completion after more than a year in the making. We have now got images to use in the book and very soon I will start typesetting it. I am also very excited, but also a little scared, that I will be talking about the book and Virginia’s life in Richmond at two London library events in November. First, on Wednesday 7th November at 6pm at Victoria Library and the second will be at Marylebone Library on Monday 12th November at 6.30pm.

In addition to all of this, the book will have its official launch at the Richmond Literary Festival on 13th November. This is hugely exciting for me and there will be a special guest speaker as well as Cheryl from Aurora talking about the Virginia Woolf Statue campaign.

I was honoured to go to Anna Vaught’s (@BookwormVaught on Twitter) book launch of The Life of Almost in Bath at Mr B’s The Life of Almost - Chosen CoverEmporium earlier this month. It was wonderful to finally meet her and also to see how many people were there to support her and her new book. The book is published by Patrician Press and should be read by everyone. People should also check out Killing Hapless Ally by the same author, and I am looking forward to her forthcoming books as well. I was privileged to proofread and edit Saving Lucia which will be published by BlueMoose in 2020.

In other news, I am very excited to have been chosen to be in a short story anthology which is due to come out in 2019. I have to be tight-lipped about it at the moment, but the story is called The Walking Stick and is my first attempt at a short story. I have others in the pipeline and I am working on one at the moment with a working title of Taxi to Hamburg.

The freelancing for ELT publishers is still going strong, and I have just finished my second set of ELT tests for one publisher. I think each set is going to form a separate book that they will sell, and this is yet more publications to add to my growing portfolio of work. They have asked me to do another set of five tests which I will start working on in the near future.


Killing Hapless Ally, Anna Vaught

Killing Hapless Ally by Anna Vaught is an intense rollercoaster of a read which grips you from the very beginning.

A dark comedy, the plot follows Alison from childhood to womanhood, as she struggles with inner voices and the family around her.

I’ve never read a book like this. I don’t know if there is another book like this. It is heart-breaking, heart-wrenching yet also heart-affirming at the same time. ‘Hapless Ally’ is the alter ego, created as the more presentable self of Alison, to deal with the incredible family and social life surrounding Alison. My goodness, the life of Alison was hard. Unbelievable treatment from her family, and as a reader, you’re there with her, willing her, aching for her to get through it. With the help of her imaginary friends including Frida (the brunette one), Albert, Shirley and Dolly, and various doctors (some more help than others), the reader sees Alison finally get to a place where she can thrive.

I could not put this book down. If you’ve ever had thoughts that you’re going insane, read this book. It’s a wonderful advocate for mental health and the struggles to survive. I loved Muffled Myfanwy, and think she could be the focus of another novel, but then I could say the same for Helen. This was beautifully written; so much so that it felt like Alison was talking only to you, letting you in on secrets. A triumph of a book, and very brave. Therapy to write and therapy to read. Stunning.

Killing Hapless Ally is published by Patrician Press and is available from their website and all good indie bookshops.


Emmeline_Pankhurst_statue_Victoria_Tower_GardensThis is the Emmeline Pankhurst statue in Victoria Tower Gardens, in the shadow of Westminster. It has stood in this spot since 1958 and was granted Grade II listed status in 1970. When it was moved in 1958, a promise was made that it wouldn’t be moved again, yet here we are, in 2018, with a proposal to move it to a less prominent place.

Can anybody see what is wrong with this?

This year, 2018, is the 100-year anniversary of some women gaining the vote and a statue of Millicent Fawcett was erected in Parliament Square, I can hardly believe that this proposal has been submitted. It seems incredible. One step forward and then plans to take more steps back.

It is right that we have more statues of influential women. As seen on the Secret London website, there are actually very few statues celebrating women. Everybody who has made a profound difference to our society deserves to be recognised, no matter what sex or gender they are.

Pankhurst, along with so many other women, made a huge impact towards the beginning of the last century, and this needs to be remembered and recognised. It is imperative that the right and correct memorials remain, are created and stay where they are.

Caroline Criado Perez has been a voice for more representations of women, and spearheaded the campaign for the Fawcett statue and has been very vocal in her opposition to this. Now we all need to lend our support in keeping the Pankhurst statue in its current position. Elizabeth Crawford, who runs Woman and her Sphere, is also arguing against the new proposal, and her website is a great source of information.

However, it is not just women from the Suffrage movement who deserve a statue. Mary Wollstonecraft was hugely influential, and there has been, and is, a campaign to get a statue of her to allow us to celebrate her achievements and what she did for our society.

Virginia Woolf might already have a bust in Tavistock Square where she lived from 1924, but there is also a campaign (one that I am closely connected to) to erect the first life-size bronze statue of her in Richmond, which was her home from 1914 to 1924, and where the Hogarth Press was born.

These two statue projects, are in my eyes, extremely important to celebrating achievements made. We need to acknowledge this and fight to get them into reality. Now there is the Pankhurst statue issue, and this also needs to be resolved, by allowing the statue to remain where it is.

Have a read of Elizabeth Crawford’s page and follow the links to register your objection.

I realise that I am just one person writing a short blog piece on this, hoping it might be seen by just a few people. But honestly, any help and coverage on this important issue is vital.

Progress in all directions


Although today has been a struggle in the working department, the progress I’ve made since starting on this editing/proofreading/writing journey has been immense. From nervously going to my first Byte the Book event (Justine will testify to this) and then to another, I’ve now gone to London Book Fair and been to a meeting with Amazon (a group meeting, not just me).

I suppose I’m half a freelancer. If that makes sense. The freelance editing and proofreading hasn’t taken off in the way that I’d have hoped, but instead, I’ve been writing content for ELT publishers. Completely unexpectedly, after my many probing emails to various publishers, I was finally accepted by a Greek ELT publisher and completed one set of ELT tests for them. They then asked me to do another, and that has a deadline of the end of September. Pleasingly, they’ve also asked me for yet another set, due for the end of October, to which I’ve said yes. Haven’t heard back from the Japanese ELT publisher after a small bit of work I did for them, but to be honest, right now, I’m very busy.

Working part time at Aurora Metro has been great, and I’ve been learning a lot about the publishing process. I’m also trying to learn about OnixEdit, which is particularly frustrating, but I can see that it is essential for any publisher. I worked on the company’s newest publication, The Original Suffrage Cook Book which looks like it should be a good seller. It was interesting to see the original recipes. What makes it different from the other editions out there, is that there are short biographies of some of the contributors to the cook book. Buy it here!

suffrage cookbook

The cook book ties in nicely with the Aurora Metro exhibition, ‘How the Vote Was Won‘ which is currently on tour around the south of the country. I worked on some of the banners and I have to say that they look fantastic.

As well as all of this, I’m working furiously on Virginia Woolf in Richmond, which many of you know I’ve been working on for some time. It’s due to be published this autumn, with a launch at the Richmond Literature Festival. The last few chapters I’ve revised I’m extremely happy with, and I’m going to be very excited to share it with the world. There are also some London library events lined up to help promote it.

VW Richmond

Due to this book, I now have a Goodreads author page. It’s rather empty at the moment, but I’m hoping to work on that and also my website to keep things up to date. I’m hoping to be selected for an anthology, due to be published next year, for which I’ve written a short story. If I get in, I’ll let you know.

Finally, don’t forget the Virginia Woolf Statue project. The book is closely related to that, so don’t forget to donate. If you need any further convincing, have a look at my article for the Huffington Post UK Blog.

We need to talk about vulnerability

Vulnerability is something that can, and probably will, affect most of us. Whether directly affected or not, it is certainly something that needs to be addressed in wider society.

Take my sister as an example. She spent years in the Territorial Army, and served seven months in Afghanistan, mainly in Kandahar and Camp David, as a driver and medic. I can’t imagine the horrors of what she went through and seeing her friends and colleagues injured or even worse. Of course, even after this, she knew of friends who unfortunately committed suicide after returning from Afghanistan after suffering from PTSD, which she also suffers from.

A few years after returning, she was involved in a motorbike accident that nearly ended her life. Still affected by this, her PTSD became worse and led to years of depression.

Suffering with depression and PTSD, it was always hard to hold down a job, and so onto benefits she went. Her situation wasn’t helped when we lost our father suddenly in March 2017. This was a complete shock, and naturally set her back from the road to progress.

It was later in 2017, when, at 42, she was confirmed autistic and suddenly things started making sense. Not helped by dyslexia either, we were all a step closer to understanding her better.

Thanks to inheritance from our departed father, she managed to buy a small flat with a beautiful view in Gourock, Scotland. However, this was a repossession buy, and for months over the winter, she had no heating or hot water. Let down by plumbers who said they would come, this continued for months. Her support worker did all they could, and we, as a family, did as much as we could, but with a disabled mother living alone to also look out for, I found that my shoulders were not broad enough. Surely it shouldn’t be just my responsibility. Somebody who served our country should not be left forgotten.

Now it turns out that the fire brigade broke into her flat because of a leak that came from the previous owner’s bad plumbing choices. The leak had gone down to the flat below, and they had already threatened legal action against my sister for previous leaks. I don’t know how this is going to affect her, but there must be some help out there somewhere.

We need to talk about vulnerability, and we need to do it now.

Continuation: Editing & Proofreading

I realised I hadn’t posted for a while, so I thought I should.

The above book will soon hopefully be published by Aurora Metro, and I’m really happy to be involved in it, although I joined when it was almost complete. However, I feel privileged to have done some work on it.

I continue to work hard at the office, trying to get my head around Onix, a kind of database which holds details about every single book a publisher has published. Populating the information is a slow process, but I can see that it is most useful.

I’ve also bought an ebook manual for dummies, as this is something next that I need to do – again, it will be so useful, so I’m hoping to become an ebook wiz.

The Virginia Woolf project continues – I’m now trying to get the chapters fully revised and updated. Hard work, and slow, but it’ll be worth it. Talking of Woolf, Cecil Woolf has just published a short memoir which I intend to buy. Well not just published. Thanks to Blogging Woolf for the links here. I should also mention that the wonderful Emma Woolf has had England’s Lane published, which I intend to buy too.

The weekend was lovely, and I went to visit Silchester, a Roman town, and there was an archaeological dig at the time – well worth the visit.

Finally, one of my good friends has just published his website for his new business; photography, video editing and the like. The website is continually being updated and being improved. He has some amazing testimonials already! As a new, not that new, freelancer, I wish him the best.

The next personal thing on my agenda is what to do with my dissertation – Reading the Writing of the Self: A Text-World Theory Account of the Diaries of Virginia Woolf. What to do with it? Any suggestions?

Contracted: Editing, Proofreading and Writing


Well, the big contract has now officially finished, and I couldn’t be happier. I got full payment! I’m waiting for feedback on the last three tests I created, and then I can make any adjustments. It is my first big freelance contract done and I couldn’t be happier.

The best news is that they have offered me another big contract, to be completed by the end of September. To say I am thrilled beyond words is an understatement. I never thought I would be creating content, but just editing or proofreading it, but it seems that’s the way my new career is going in. The contract gives me plenty of time to complete it. Especially as I am going to be away on holiday soon. A week in Scotland and then a week in Hungary. Now I feel I’m a proper ELT Freelancer.

For Aurora Metro, I’m busy working on the proofreading of The Original Suffrage Cook Book:

suffrage cookbook

which will be coming out soon. This is connected to our touring exhibition, How the Vote was Won, which is now in place at the Feminist Library near Waterloo. It will be there for the month of July before moving on again. There will be an official opening evening, accompanied by film screenings on Friday 6th July. I’ll be there in an Aurora Metro capacity, with a selection of our very best books, including ‘Art, Theatre and Women’s Suffrage’.

In other news, because I possibly stupidly registered as a sole trader before April this year, this means I have a self-assessment tax return to complete, even though I didn’t make any money during that period. Nevertheless, I think I’ve done it and I’ve submitted it. We’ll see if it makes sense and if I’ve done it correctly. The next thing I need to sort out is National Insurance, which is quite vital. Lots of things to do!

The Virginia Woolf book is coming along slowly. Too slowly for my liking, but I shall endeavour!


Exhibitions and more: Editing, Proofreading & Writing


Thankfully, it continues to be a busy time for me, which I’m very happy about. Currently, for Aurora Metro, I’m focusing on helping with the How the Vote Was Won exhibition. I was very pleased to help with some of the pop up banners forming part of the exhibition, two of which you can see some of above. There are a few venues confirmed, including:

King’s Theatre, Portsmouth, 15 – 22 June 2018

The Feminist Library, London, 3 – 31 July 2018

There are also many more yet to be advertised, but when they are ready to be advertised, I’ll of course be helping to spread the word. I’m very happy with what I’ve done to help this exhibition, and I’m looking forward to driving down to Portsmouth to collect the exhibition, and then to take it to the Feminist Library ready for their stint.

With my freelance hat on, I’m still continuing with the big contract until the end of June. I believe I’m on time, so that’s always a good thing. Writing ELT materials, especially test materials, seems to be a fairly easy transition from teaching into publishing/writing. However, I can see that freelancing is not always an easy ride. I’m currently chasing an unpaid invoice which has been outstanding for coming up to a month now. Obviously not too happy about that.

I’ve also got Virginia Woolf in the back of my mind, although she has taken a back seat recently. I must get to finishing the revisions for the book, although I wonder if the copyright issues will derail the launch date. We’ll have to see.

I never thought I would be this busy so early on in freelancing. Many thanks have to go to The London School of Publishing, The College of Media and Publishing and The Publishing Training Centre. Groups and organisations I’m indebted to include the SfEP, SYP and of course, Byte the Book. Aurora Metro have also been wonderful, giving me my first taste of publishing in real life.

Rising: Editing, proofreading & content writing

assorted hot air balloons photo during sunset
Photo by Snapwire on

I love balloons. Not really the small ones, but ballooning. I’ve only been up once, for my late father’s 70th birthday. It was incredible to rise above the houses and countryside below in our home county. It was surprisingly quiet and serene, and I fully recommend it to anyone. I’m not a fan of heights, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if the landing was a bit bumpy.

I’ve chosen this image to represent where I am at the moment: on the rise. It’s certainly been a whirlwind few weeks. I’m really enjoying my part-time role at Aurora Metro. Even after one week, I’m starting to feel comfortable and fairly safe in the knowledge about what I’m doing. I’m sure there will be more challenges ahead though, but I’m ready to face them! In fact, there’s a Twitter competition at the moment to win a copy of the Virginia Prize Winner of 2009, Pomegranate Sky by Louise Soraya Black. It ends on Sunday, so get your retweets and follows in fast!


As part of my role at Aurora Metro, I’ll be attending a fantastic event on 23rd June 2018: ‘Pulling No Punches: East Asian Voices’ at SOAS in London. Many thanks to everybody involved in making this possible, and also to Justine from Byte the Book for sharing my post! Aurora Metro post here.

My freelance work continues to happen, which is absolutely super. I’ve now received first payment from my long-term contract for content creation of ELT test materials, so I’m very happy about that. It seems that the company would like a longer collaboration with me, which I’d be more than happy to do.

Things are looking good, and I’m happy I can keep updating my own website!


brown wooden framed gold open printed decorative signage
Photo by Artem Bali on

I feel I have finally broken through the barrier. You know, that barrier that seems to prevent forward motion?

It seems to be all good news from here on in. The moderately-sized ELT publisher has approved my first sample test, and I will be contracted to create four more tests for them, which is absolutely great news. It’s something I’ve never done before, but it was quite enjoyable. It’s good to get the creative juices flowing, especially for the listening and reading sections of the test. Talking of which, I should be brief, as I have to crack on with test 2. There were a few things I need to work on which I’ll be paying special attention to while creating the new tests. Feedback from the client is excellent and I feel I can really grow from here.

My new bank account for the freelance business is now up and running, so that’s good news too.

But possibly the biggest news is that I was offered a job! A part-time editing job at Aurora Metro Books. At the moment, it’s two days a week, which is perfect to fit in with my growing freelance business. I think the split between work places is going to be nothing but a benefit, so I’m really looking forward to improving in both aspects. Perfect opportunity to learn more, do more and be better.

Good times.