Guest Feature – Nigel Kent

It gives me great pleasure to invite fellow poet, Nigel Kent, published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press, over to Patricia’s Pen. Nigel has come along to chat about his writing, so without further ado, let’s go over to Nigel.

My Writing

Nigel Kent

I’m so pleased to be invited by fellow Hedgehog Poetry Press author, Patricia, to talk about my writing. It’s truly rewarding to be part of such a community of writers who support and promote each other’s writing.

I have been a lifelong reader of poetry. Though my taste in poetry is fairly eclectic, I have always enjoyed most poets who write in a direct, accessible style: poets such as American Poets, Ted Kooser and Richard Jones or Welsh poet, Jonathan Edwards. This is the sort of poetry I want to write myself. Like them I try to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I want to explore the beauty, the heroism, the tragedies and courage of everyday lives in verse that continues to resonate and move after the reader has closed the book.

In ‘Psychopathogen’, my most recent pamphlet, the poems describe the effect of these exceptional times on unexceptional people: a reluctant schoolboy; a shielded grandmother; a middle-aged married couple. I wanted to document the individual stories behind the headlines.

Similarly in my collection ‘Saudade’ my subject is the different types of loss and longing that people experience in their daily lives. See ‘Miscarried’ below.

I had my first poem published when I was 17 and was paid the princely sum of ten shillings for it. However, at university I lost confidence in my writing, when I compared it with the wonderful writing I was studying for my degree in English Literature. In retirement with nothing to lose and a lot of time on my hands, I picked up writing again and have been overwhelmed by the attention my poetry has received: I was particularly delighted to have my poem ‘Miscarried’ nominated for the 2019 Pushcart Prize:


When she lost the little girl she’d longed for
they did not try again; ‘Too old!’ he said.
She did not lie silently in a closed-curtain room;
she did not stare mutely into the unused cot.

Her grief was a howling, bared-teeth grief;
a sinew-ripping grief; a snapping, snarling grief
that locked its jaws around her throat
and swiped at both his outstretched hands.

He learned in time to tip-toe round her,
flattening himself against the nursery walls,
but he never could ignore the quiet sound
of gnawing, as it devoured her hour by hour.


I haven’t regretted returning to writing. Reading and writing pretty much fills my time and has become a second career. I write most days: I need to as I am a painfully slow writer, taking days to finish a poem (if a poem is ever finished!). Furthermore, I am increasingly getting out to read my poems at live and Zoom events. Sharing the poems you have written is a nerve-wracking but ultimately rewarding experience; after all, what’s the point of writing if you can’t see and hear how your poems affect the listener!


Thank you, Nigel for sharing about your writing. I particularly loved your ‘Miscarried’ poem as I’m sure my readers will.


About Nigel Kent

Nigel Kent is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet (2019), author of ‘Saudade’ and ‘Psychopathogen’, and an active member of the Open University Poetry Society, managing its website and occasionally editing its workshop magazine. He has been shortlisted for several national competitions and his poetry has appeared in a wide range of anthologies and magazines. His latest publication, Psychopathogen, has been nominated for the 2020 Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets.

Links to books

Why not order a signed copy of Nigel’s excellent poetry pamphlets?

Available from Nigel’s website

Also available unsigned on Amazon




Guest Feature – Allison Symes

It gives me great pleasure to welcome back, Queen of Flash Fiction, Allison Symes. Allison has come along to talk about her new release. Without further ado it’s over to Allison.

Tripping the Flash Fantastic

Allison Symes

Hello, Allison Symes, flash fiction writer and blogger for Chandler’s Ford Today, here. Many thanks to Patricia for inviting me back on to her blog. Further to my interview here, just over a year ago, I am delighted to announce my second flash fiction collection has now been published by Chapeltown Books.

Following on from my debut book, From Light to Dark and Back Again, my new book Tripping the Flash Fantastic takes you back in time. I also take you into some truly criminal minds, into fantasy worlds, and show you how motherhood looks from the viewpoint of a dragon. I hope you enjoy the journey!

I loved writing this book and it is such a thrill to see it published. Collections take a while to get together and, as with any book, so much unseen work goes on behind the scenes. It was also great to be working with indie publisher, Chapeltown Books, again.

What was nice here was having input into the cover design. The choice of image wasn’t my first, funnily enough. Due to the nature of Chapeltown’s square frame, I needed an image that would work well within that, my first choice didn’t, and so I looked again for another image. I think what I have chosen is better than my first idea. There’s a lesson to be learned there I think!

Why write flash fiction?

Flash fiction has been my great writing passion since I discovered the form in 2013. I had been writing short stories and having them regularly published on Cafelit, the online story magazine, when they issued their 100-word challenge.

My first thought on reading that was you have to be kidding me! How can you tell a story in so few words? A proper story that is! My second thought was well they wouldn’t have issued the challenge if it really was impossible, would they? Give it a go!

So I did and quickly became addicted to the challenge of writing the very short form of story. I think I love it so much because I’ve always enjoyed the character creation aspect of writing fiction. With flash, I’m inventing new characters all the time so win-win for me here.

Flash has to be character led simply because you haven’t the room for a lot of description but that in turn gives these short stories immediacy and pace, which I’ve always loved. The challenge of coming up with unforgettable characters and situations is always fun to try and meet! The great thing too is I can set my characters wherever and whenever I want to – for that, flash fiction is remarkably flexible. And even within the upper word count limit of 1000 words, there is much that can be done. I’ve written across the spectrum though my natural home is sub-500 words.

I’ll be holding a cyberlaunch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic on Saturday, 10th October between 7.00 and 9.30 pm. There will be quizzes and prizes amongst other fun things.  I also plan to share some of the stories from my new book and discuss how and why I wrote them as I have. If you have any questions about flash fiction, I’d be delighted to answer them. Hope to see you there! Join the event HERE

Where to Find Allison Symes

Amazon Author Central Page


Facebook Author Page

Facebook Book Page – Advice on Flash Fiction

Chandler’s Ford Today – weekly topics of interest to writers

Cafelit Page

Don’t forget the launch for Allison Syme’s new release, Tripping the Fantastic, is Saturday 10th October 2020 7:00-9:30pm over on Facebook.

My Writing Journey

It was a delight to be invited over to Beth Haslam’s, a fellow writer and friend, blog today to chat about my writing journey. This could be of interest. Why not pop along here and see what I had to say.

Beth visited Patricia’s Pen in July this year to talk about her writing – in the event you missed it, or would like a reminder, read what she had to say here.

Podcast – Reading three poems

I am chuffed to bits to be part of Damien B Donnelly’s Eat the Storms podcast. You’ll find me reading three of my poems. The first two from Taxus Baccata ‘Seagull Sequence’ and ‘Oak of Avalon’ and the final one from an upcoming anthology ‘Cupid’s Arrow’ to be published in December 2020 by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. My poem is ‘All I have to do is Dream.’

Listen to the podcast: Episode 4 – Eat the Storms- A Host of Hedgehogs

You will find me at 11:13 – but listen to the whole podcast – you won’t be sorry.

A signed copy of Taxus Baccata makes a great Xmas stocking filler, tree or table present. Order your signed copy here

Guest Feature – Carol Thomas

It gives me great pleasure to welcome fellow Chindi Author, Carol Thomas, back to ‘Patricia’s Pen.’ Carol has come along to tell you about her new children’s book. Without further ado, it’s over to Carol. 

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 Writing for Children

Carol Thomas


Thank you so much for having me on your blog Patricia.

As an experienced primary school teacher and mum of four, I know the importance of inspiring a love of books from an early age. I have read a great many children’s books and enjoy sharing them. Of course, it is not just about the story and pictures; it is about that moment of connection with those you are sharing the book with too.

Young children love books for many reasons. It can be that the subject matter connects with them; or that it fires their imagination, enabling them to venture into another world; but it can also be because of that moment they share with you as the reader. Snuggling up and sharing a story with your child is for any time, not just bedtime (though of course, that can be a very lovely way for you and them to end their day).

Growing up, my favourite book was my Ladybird version of Five Little Kittens, not because I had a big love of books, I rather liked playing with toy cars while my sister read, but because I liked cats, it rhymed and most importantly, my mum shared it with me! 

five little kittens

In a world where many things are competing for young children’s attention, I aim to write engaging stories, that I hope will be shared again and again. The language is purposefully rhythmic and rhyming, encouraging them to join in and anticipate words and phrases. The characters small and human, or cute and furry, express emotions that are relatable to a young audience and that I hope will inspire a discussion at their level.

being a friend

Aimed at under 7s, my latest book, Being a Friend at Christmas, is the story of a Little Pup who has found his forever home and knows just how lucky he has been. But as Christmas approaches he thinks about the dogs he’s left behind in the shelter and wants to make sure they have a happy time too. To make his Christmas wish come true, Little Pup has to be brave and enlist the help of Father Christmas.

It’s been described as the perfect gift for all young dog lovers, and I hope, especially after the strange year our children and we have had, it helps spread some Christmas joy!

For more of a sneak peek – click here for the book trailer.

Purchase here 

Also by Carol Thomas 

Finding a Friend (while this is the first in the Little Pup series of books each can be read as a stand-alone story).

When Little Pup finds himself at the shelter,

he doesn’t know quite what to do.

Big dogs all around, feeling lost and alone,

Little Pup needs a friend… but who?

“A delightfully written and wonderfully illustrated picture book, with a heart warming’ tail’ of friendship.”

Purchase here 

About Carol Thomas 

profile photo

Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and lively Labrador. She has been a playgroup supervisor and has taught in primary schools for just over twenty years.

Carol writes for both adults and children. Her children’s books have irresistibly cute, generally furry characters young children can relate to.

To find out more about books by Carol Thomas:







Damien B Donnelly – Publication day – 17th September 2020

I’m delighted to invite Damien B Donnelly, fellow poet and hoglet of Hedgehog Poetry Press ‘The Cult of the Spiny hog.’ I’m particularly delighted to have Damien here as part of the launch for his beautiful pamphlet Eat the Storms .

Damien has come along to talk about Eat the Storms published by Hedgehog Poetry Press on 17th September 2020. How exciting is that? I’ve heard some of Damien’s poems and I can tell you now that readers are in for a treat. Eat the Storms is receiving fantastic reviews which are well deserved. Damien not only writes beautiful poetry but has a wonderful voice to listen to when he performs his poems. Without further ado, let’s go over to Damien.

Eat the Storms is a collection I wanted to assemble in order to see light in the darkness and find a balance and an acceptance between them both.

I wanted to bring together a collection of moments that could not be held for long, grains of sand that trickle through our hands while capturing the beautiful fragility of our fall, a selection of sensory songs that expose this fragility, not as something weak or wearisome, but as our weapon, to go down into the darkness in order to reveal how colour can exist there too, to sing of holding both light and shade together, as one, in order to release us from the claws of crazy.

‘Eat the storms… she said,’ in order to ‘…boil back those beds of bitter blackness.’

I wanted to bring the reader on a journey, starting with a soft moon on a sun-drenched beach, a blazing white light like a blank canvas of possibility and, from there, add colour to that emptiness, incorporating both light and shade, a journey that required all senses at once; to test the running water of the riverbed with your tongue, to hear the pout of a ruby red lip while slowly exploring what happens when colour gives in to shadow, when shade threatens fragility as we are faced with our own fears before bringing us back again into the light, seeing that same fragility as our force and not our failure, while holding hope in place of time that can never be held.

I wanted to imagine being able to find a way to paint behind the light, to add breath to all that is unbearable so as to swallow the truth and release the lies we stuff into the cracks of the canvas. I wanted to draw life as a riverbed, cutting its path over rough rock and soothing soil, capturing colour for an instant before it passes on to the next connection, curve, crash, to see ourselves as the roaring wave, rising for a magical moment, and not just a silent witness to the rushing water. I wanted to be able to confess to capturing colour without being called crazy because I was willing to lean in and lick the honey off a purple petal…

‘…but it takes time to swallow the truth and teach the tongue to taste the rain.’

About Damien

Damien, 45, Dublin born, returned to Ireland in 2019 after 23 years in Paris, London and Amsterdam, has been writing since childhood, poetry and short stories questioning identity, sexuality and fragility. His daily interests revolve around falling over and learning how to get back up while baking cakes.

He’s been featured in ‘Second Chance’ Original Writing, ‘Body Horror’ Gehenna & Hinnom, ‘Nous Sommes Paris’ Eyewear Publishing and The Runt Magazine. Online, he’s been featured in Black Bough Poetry, Coffin Bell, Scribe Base, Barren Magazine and Holding It Together, Apart. His debut poetry collection is published by The Hedgehog Press.

Links to social media




Order your signed copy of Eat the Storms

Gaynor Kane – Venus in Pink Marble

You may remember back in June the lovely Gaynor Kane visited Patricia’s Pen to talk about her poetry. You can revisit the article here.

Gaynor’s poetry collection Venus in Pink Marble has now been published with the awesome The Hedgehog Poetry Press and you can now grab yourself a signed copy of this fabulous work. You can also check out her launch video with Damien B Donnelly who is my guest tomorrow.

Order a signed copy from here