My heartfelt thanks goes to…

Why am I practicing my Oscar acceptance speech on a cold wet April day?

Well after only reaching quarter finalist status in January, my Alpine based TV Pilot Drama – Out of the blue – is now a WINNING script, thanks to the incredible readers and judges of the Berlin Screenwriting Awards.

I try to write at least one script a year be it a TV pilot or feature and the idea for this script first emerged in June last year. I hoping it will go on to reach bigger and better heights as it has been entered into another two important festivals whose closing dates are fast approaching, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Continually learning…

Occasionally I’m lucky enough to have the time to dive into a quick little writing refresher course. Not only are these a great opportunity to find out how different writers approach writing, but you inevitably pick up a few tricks or techniques from each individual giving the course, and often from your fellow attendees.

Since I completed my MA, I’ve had the privilege of attending courses by Wyl Menmuir and Francesco Dimitri for Novel Writing  – because I love the way they both write. Jane Pugh for playwriting, and John Yorke (twice) for scriptwriting – because he is the king of structure especially if you are writing for TV.

My latest course is with independent publisher Indie Novella, overseen by author Damien Mosley (The Bookseller Rising Star 2023) and Literary Agent Laetitia Rutherford from Watson Little. And I’m using the course as I’ve done in the past to flush out an idea that may or may not turn out to be a novel or film. In this case, I’m working on a crime drama called The Lost Van Gogh, which is a bit like a heist movie, but so much more. Anyway, taking part in the course has freed me up to go to town with my protagonist – for which I was rewarded with some fab feedback from Indie Novella Editor Gina Adams

Your character has a unique way of expressing herself, with a very distinct style to the way you have written her, Sam. We get an immediate sense of what she is like, and also how she is likely to appear to other people. I really like the idea that your character identifies the waitress as odd, whilst she has a reaction verging on sexual to the food she has been given! We can really imagine the dynamic between the character and the waitress here as if we are sitting at a table nearby watching it unfold…

I’m not sure I meant to divulge my love of food so blatantly, but reading it back I can see how – delicately teased with whipped ricotta, burnt butter, and smoked almonds – which was gorgeous enough to successfully soothe my broken ego – could be read as slightly erotic, whoops!

A finalist…

Following on from the great feedback from the Rocliffe award, I tidied up my latest TV Pilot script  – Out of the Blue  – and entered it for a few more competitions. And I’ve just heard that my hard work has been recognised and I’ve been endowed with a finalist laurel from the Cambridge Script Festival.

This award probably means more to me than most as I was raised and educated in Cambridge, so it’s great to receive a nod of encouragement from those with the power to elevate your career… woohoo!!!

Great feedback and some helpful notes…

Every year I enter the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Competition (Television Drama) which involves a blind judging process, where selected script extracts are performed by a professional cast to an audience of producers, development executives, directors, actors, and literary agents. The aim of the competition is to emerging writing talent, like me, a chance to showcase their work.

It’s not free to enter, but one of the major benefits for writers who don’t get shortlisted for reading is the feedback and advice from experienced industry members.

This year’s feedback was very encouraging…

OUT OF THE BLUE…The script has vivid settings and uses strong visual storytelling. Each character has a distinct voice and the dialogue and interplay are often spiky and fun. Scenes flow together and advance the story which touches on interesting themes of loyalty, corruption, and betrayal, with hints of dark comedy. Overall the idea has been thought through in detail and has the potential to be a compelling series full of power plays….

I also received some great suggestions for improvements that would enhance the script. Thankfully, I had already identified and addressed most of these notes in my re-edited script that was submitted for this year’s BBC Writers Room Open Call earlier this month. So keep your fingers crossed for me…

Great storytelling stats…

Those who follow my social media channels will be aware that I have been working my storytelling magic on a bijoux vineyard in South Hams, Devon.

My task was to drive traffic to their newly redesigned website. A challenge I was happy to undertake as I already had a working relationship with the designer, who I knew would be helpful in achieving my targets.

Now as the end of my contract with Calancombe Estate looms into view, I am summarising my success as I prepare to hand over the reins to Fresh Digital, who I hope will build on my success.

In my time working with the Vineyard, Winery, and restaurant (which prides itself on growing its own grapes, crafting some amazing wines, and serving fresh home-grown food), I have increased their new user web traffic by 89% and successfully proved to The Estate that storytelling can make a significant difference to their website traffic and overall sales.

So how did I do it? Well that would be telling, but I can share with you that in my time working with the vineyard,  their web stats have consistently and organically rocketed (with no paid Ads), driving traffic to their website through email marketing (+783%), Facebook (692%), and Google (58%). All in all their web traffic from new users alone has increased by 89% – solid proof that storytelling can make an impact on your business…

#salesandmarketing #smallbusiness #storytelling

Is it just me?

It’s been a great summer. The weather has been amazing. I’ve been sea swimming more than any other year and I’ve caught up with loads of friends we haven’t since pre-lockdown days. I am feeling a tad guilty though, as it seems as soon as the good weather starts all motivation for editing my current novel or finishing the two scripts which lie dormant on my laptop, stops.

I just can’t write when the sun’s out!

To justify this I read, lounge in the sun and feast on at least a book a week – sometimes more!
I’m feeling bloated with mixed genres after swallowing whole This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub: The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw: Baltimore Boys by Joël Dicker and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (pre-film thank god!)

I gorged on Bex Hogan’s YA trilogy Viper, Venom and Vulture, one after the other like I was at a medieval banquet, then fantasised about jam and cream from the Orchard Tea Rooms as I fittingly read The Great Lover by Jill Dawson, while housekeeping in Cambridge.

Now back home in the South West, I’ve immersed myself in Wyl Menmuir’s fantastic The Draw of the Sea. And find I’ve ordered a fresh batch of recommendations to further feed my non-writing habit…
Golden Hill by Francis Spufford: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan: Cloud Street by Tim Winton and The Miniaturist
by Jessie Burton.

I shouldn’t say it,  but I hope it rains soon!


Great news for The Writers Collective

As many of you know I am also a key figure in The Writers Collective
a community of writers supported by a unique digital directory of specialist writers & services to help individuals and businesses realise their projects…

Although the COVID lockdown had a huge impact on our activities over the last few years we managed to host a successful Fringe Book Festival on October 16 & 17th 2021 to coincide with the Falmouth Book Festival and organised some writer talks and signings. We have loved to do more but the timing still wasn’t right.

So we set our sights on revamping our website to include literary events and new releases from some fabulous local authors. The new look was launched in March along with an announcement that our book club will have its first proper meetup event on June 2nd at our offices in the studios behind the Terrace Gallery, which will run alongside our existing online club.

We had always planned to run more meet-ups, talks, workshops and courses, including some residential tutored and non-tutored courses. And we are delighted to have just been taken on as a Cultivator Cornwall Client with the aim of expanding our offering, so we can help discover more writers in the South West of England.

Our ultimate aim is to start our own small press and help writers independently publish their work, so fingers crossed…



What’s new in my world

So I have been a bit quiet over the last couple of years, not surprising as most of us retreated from the real world during the pandemic. Unfortunately like a lot of other freelance writers I lost some of my regular contracts. But it’s not all doom and gloom and there was a BIG silver lining. Yes, I finally got my arse into gear and finished my first novel OWLS HEAD which is currently being sent out to competitions, publishers and agents! I also successfully adapted the book to a TV series script which has also been submitted to various competitions including the BAFTA Rocliffe Drama Comp and had some amazing feedback.

Not one to rest on my Laurels in the second three-month lockdown I wrote my second novel GAME ON and have since adapted it to a feature film script.  It’s an interesting process adapting for the screen and helps you tighten up the structure and identifies where all the holes are in the plot. Needless to say, the book needs tightening up and re-editing, so that’s next on the list! However the script has been doing well and reached the quarter-finals of the London International Screenwriting Competition, so I am super proud.

The biggest news of all though is that after finally having some success I am now on the radar and have been appointed a Screenskills Mentor to help me shape the GAME ON into something bigger and better. I’m sure to be posting a lot about this so keep your fingers crossed and follow my journey…

A journey to freedom of expression in art

It’s International women’s day, so what better excuse to focus on the contribution women have made to the creative arts.

For years women have been represented as a subject rather than the creative force in creative communities. Having the time, money and social freedom are influential factors that are allowing women to have a rewarding career in the arts.

Unfortunately, in most of the museums and galleries around the world, the old masters still dominate the walls of the most famous institutions. A silent statement that reinforces the idea that men are the leaders of the creative arts. But there is hope. As more women take over important curatorial roles in leading art galleries and museums, the imbalance is starting to be addressed, and more solo shows by female artists are now being scheduled into museum timetables.

In Falmouth and Penryn, we are lucky enough to have a legacy of strong women who promoted the arts to make it an acceptable career. The rising middle-class Quaker sisters Anna Maria and Caroline Fox were responsible for creating what came to be known as the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society. Now a centre for the arts, the Poly was partially designed to offer educational opportunities and exhibitions of the arts & sciences to the working people of Cornwall. It was a place to meet and share expertise in art practices.

Anna Maria lived unusually for her times. She was an artist and a global traveller. Much like the Bronte sisters, who were also of this age, Anna Maria’s legacy as the founder of the UK’s first adult learning establishment is still noticeable in Falmouth. The art classes she organised at the Poly in 1833 were the educational precursor to the development of Falmouth School of Art.

Under the name Polytechnic Society (RCPS) art classes continued until dedicated private art school premises in Arwenack Avenue were opened n August 1902. On offer in this establishment was the opportunity to take part in Freehand Drawing, Model Drawing, Painting from Still Life, Drawing from the Antique, Drawing of Plant Form, Drawing in Light & Shade, and from memory. It wasn’t cheap at four and ten shillings per session, but it was an opportunity to gain a qualification supported by the Board of Education. Tacita Dean, Jessica Warboys, Kate Holford, Susanna Heron and Judith Kerr are just a few of the inspirational women artists who have benefited from those humble beginners and trained at the Art School, which is now part of Falmouth University.

Although a change in the art world is gaining momentum, a high percentage of galleries represent more men than women. Thankfully our local Terrace Gallery is amongst the five per cent of galleries that have achieved an equal parity of male and female artists. The change is coming…slowly, but it is coming

What is a museum?

Tuesday marked the last field trip and penultimate session of the Citizen Curators course. The classroom sessions have been enlightening, and we have touched on the definition of a museum during the last six months. Still, our perceptions were tested thoroughly in this session as the classification of a museum was once again re-addressed.

Our group consisted of a selection of members from the seven different museums involved with the course. Some of these institutions are traditional museums with dusty artefacts, perilous swords and gruesome stuffed animals. But others like the Falmouth Art Gallery and the Clay Works at Wheal Martyn are more niche and don’t fall into the traditional Victorian image of a museum.

‘Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society.’ – The Museums Association (MA) definition in 1998

Established at the beginning of the Millenium, Shelterbox, are in their twentieth year of providing emergency aid items and shelter equipment to families cast out of their homes by natural disasters or conflict. The visitor in Truro highlights the need for this invaluable service.

A charity which receives no funding by the state, Shelterbox visitor centre, the location of our visit, ticks many of the boxes as a potential independent museum. It displays the essential objects deployed in the event of a specific emergency and the items needed for communities to recover from unexpected displacement. The curated exhibitions enable visitors to engage, learn and be inspired by the work the organisation carries out. Tick, tick tick!

Shelterbox have collected together artefacts, specimens and content to represent all stages of a disaster for the exhibition. It invites visitors to adopt the role of a packer assembling their signature green boxes for imminent disaster. Or the role of an observer after the worst-case scenario has happened when all is lost or buried. Beautifully shot audiovisual content also documents the success of the project from a grassroots perspective. It also subtly invites visitors to empathise with those who have benefited from the gift of essential tools to enable communities to rebuild. It is an interactive record of our modern world which has cultural and historical importance in educating all generations to the plight of the world’s population. Tick, tick, tick.

In my eyes, the groundbreaking Shelterbox visitor centre ticks many of the classification boxes and deserves recognition as a modern museum.