Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...

A story for Christmas


By a very happy coincidence. this came out yesterday on my birthday and it can also be found in today’s issue of Love Sunday (Sunday People).

Originally written as a story for children, a few tweaks made it appropriate for all ages. Who hasn’t dreamed of an unexpected windfall when money is tight? That it was very well deserved in this case is, I think, a bonus. Honesty was definitely the best policy for struggling young mum Daisy and even the villain of the piece came good in the end.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

24 December, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Christmas celebrations with Ripon writers!

I was privileged to celebrate with two different groups this week. The photo above (thank you, Nicky) is from Write On! Ripon’s Christmas meal at the Claro Lounge, which was very enjoyable. The conversation flowed as freely as the drinks and the wearing of cracker sourced hats was purely optional.

The following evening, I was at Ripon Writers’ Group’s pre-Christmas event, which featured less food and alcohol – although members did bring contributions to a small festive buffet – but also boasted a quiz, seasonal readings including a short play by our newest member and a Secret Santa.

Good fun all round and I’m very happy to have so many friends who ‘get’ why I write.

19 December, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

A Great New Read!

If you’re looking for a gift for a lover of crime fiction, I can heartily recommend Val Penny’s latest book, published, like her other novels, by SpellBound Books Ltd.

DI Hunter Wilson is looking forward to spending a holiday in India with his girlfriend Dr Meera Sharma, away from the cold, wet winter of Edinburgh. He looks to share his happiness with others when he is attacked by Santa Claus, he says. His team swing into action to catch his attackers but then receive information about an elf found dead in a car park and a car stolen by Mrs Claus. Are the crimes by these Christmas characters connected? Can Hunter’s team restore peace and good will to Christmas?

Hunter’s Christmas and Other Stories includes tales about DI Hunter Wilson and DS Jane Renwick along with those about new and different characters in this gripping collection of short stories especially for crime fiction readers.

The multi-talented Val Penny, American by birth but now happily based in SW Scotland with her husband and cat, has a wide variety of books to her credit and no wonder! Never short of inspiration, this graduate of both Edinburgh and Napier Universities has been amongst other things a hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer.

Val’s books are widely available and she can be contacted through her website http://www.valpenny.com




10 December, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Time to relax!

Writing is hard work. Relaxing in the company of like minded friends is always a joy.


Last night saw the celebration of Write-On! Ripon’s second anniversary at Portofino Ristorante on Kirkgate.

Not everyone was able to make it, but those of us who did certainly enjoyed it. The food was good, the wine flowed and so did the conversation. 

27 October, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Ripon Poetry Festival 2023


What a weekend! Actually it began for me on Thursday evening, when the two Ripon writing groups that I belong to co-hosted the open mic event to launch this year’s festival.




The downstairs area of the Claro Lounge, where Write-On! Ripon meets on Tuesday afternoons, has never seen as many poetry lovers crammed into its many nooks and crannies. We even had to bring in chairs from the garden, so it was lucky that the afternoon had been a dry one. There were sad poems, happy poems, funny poems, angry poems – some using traditional forms and others the most free of free verse. Definitely something for everyone. 



The same could be said of Saturday evening, when the launch of the 2023 anthology was held in the Ripon Arts Hub. Everyone who had had a poem chosen for inclusion was invited to read and I was delighted to meet up with a friend from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Penny Blackburn had travelled from Newcastle to take part in various activities throughout the day and we just managed (courtesy of my son Richard) to have a photo taken of the pair of us before she set off home.


24 September, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Back to school!

What an interesting evening I had yesterday, invited to view my contribution to Lawnswood School’s ‘alumni’ wall. For non-Leeds friends, I should explain that the current co-educational school was created many years ago to replace two grammar schools, Lawnswood High for girls and Leeds Modern for boys. Apart from Old Mods John Craven and Alan Bennett, I think I’m the oldest contributor so far, but the wall will continue to evolve.
(In anticipation of people who remember their Latin grammar pointing out that I’m an ‘alumna’ rather than an ‘alumnus’, I know, but I thought it would be churlish to point it out.)


21 September, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Research recognised

Having done a lot of research for my latest writing project, I was very pleased when Val Penny decided to feature it on her blog. You can read it here. What a Summer That Was! (Writing Research) by Maggie Cobbett (valpenny.com)

31 August, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Swanwick 2023

How quickly  the time goes by at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, even more so this year with the programme spread over a shorter period than usual. The magic was still there, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Some building work was going on at the main house, but the grounds of The Hayes were as well kept as ever. Despite a gloomy forecast, we had mostly fine weather and plenty of opportunity to sit outside with our drinks at different times of day.

As well as brushing up on several aspects of writing with tutors who are experts in their fields, I wore my purple lanyard with pride and – as an ambassador – did my best to make new Swanwickers feel welcome and help them to settle in. Fellow Ripon Writers’ Group member Susan was amongst them and soon felt at home.

Having won second prize (£100 off this year’s Swanwick fees) in the Val Penny/SpellBound books short story competition, I was very pleased to meet the SpellBound team of Sumaira Wilson and Nicola East before their course on digital publishing. The ladies had kind words to say about my writing and also encouraged me to submit my next project directly to them. 

In the evenings, I enjoyed talks by Birmingham poet Roy McFarlane and romantic novelist Sue Moorcroft, who was accompanied by her agent Juliet Pickering. In addition, I took part in both the poetry and prose open mics, co-hosting the latter with Jen and making sure that no one ran over time. Harsh, perhaps, but it’s the only fair way with so many Swanwickers keen to read their work.

The fancy dress evening is always a good opportunity to pull out the stops. The theme was fairy tales this year and I found a willing partner. If you look closely at Liz’s hand, you’ll see that her Granny Wolf mask is at the ready.

As ever, there was a weird and wonderful set of characters wandering around the bar, with some costumes showing a remarkable amount of ingenuity. Was Cinderella about to ask the genie for a ball gown or inspiration for her writing, I wonder.

I knew that basket would come in handy one day. Bought in 2006 for a production by Ripon Amateur Operatic Society of ‘Fidler on the Roof’ – I was one of the mamas – it’s never actually been used for shopping but came into its own that evening.

All too soon we were packing to go home, but not before enjoying PRINKS (pre-dinner drinks) on the lawn and the farewell evening with its awards and prize draws. The die-hards gathered in the bar or around the fire pit for a sing song, but I felt my comfortable bed calling me. I’m such a light weight these days!





11 August, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Open mic at the Claro Lounge

With the closure of the Curzon cinema, Write-On! Ripon Unleashed had to find a new venue and the lower ground area of the Claro Lounge fitted the bill perfectly.

Here am I, strutting my stuff as well as showing off a new hair do. It was a great evening all round!

4 August, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Writers’ Narrative

The demise of Writers’ Forum left a gap in the market that this new emagazine is attempting to fill.

How successful it will be remains to be seen, but I’m happy to have an article on ‘filler’ writing included in the first issue.

At the moment, Writers’ Narrative is available from Amazon for £1.99, but the aim is to make it free to download.

31 July, 2023 Make the first comment on this story

Check Out My eBooks
Supporting artists, or ‘extras’ as they’re more commonly known, are the unsung heroes of television and film. Maggie Cobbett recalls the ups and downs of twenty years of ‘blending into the background’.
A working holiday in France for so little? “It sounds too good to be true,” says Daisy’s mother, but her warning falls on deaf ears.
The 20th century has just dawned when David is apprenticed to a Yorkshire coal miner. But what of the younger brothers and sister he has been forced to leave behind in their London workhouse? Will he ever see them again?
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