Monday, 28 April 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Many thanks to busy author, Juliet Greenwood, for inviting me to participate in the ‘My Writing Process’ blogging tour. Juliet’s second novel with Honno Press, We That Are Left was published in February this year. As Heather Pardoe, Juliet’s also working on a serial for The People’s Friend. You can find out more about Juliet at her fascinating blog

I would also like to thank fellow Choc Lit author, Linda Mitchelmore who also invited me to join this blog hop earlier in the year. Linda’s fifth novel, Red is for Rubies has just become available. You can read more about Linda and her novels here

And so, to more about my writing process...

What am I working on?

Hmm, well, I’ve got several projects on the go! I’ve just started writing my fourth romantic novel … it was inspired by a ‘secret’ path and a beautiful Georgian house on the coast where I live and I don’t really want to say much more than that! I’m working (very slowly) on building a poetry collection, I’ve got the opening chapters of a much darker novel about friendship and betrayal and I’d also like to complete a non-fiction project I’ve started. Guess that’s going to keep me pretty busy.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It differs because I write in my own voice! My romantic novels are published by Choc Lit, but that’s where the similarity to any other Choc Lit author ends; we’re all different characters writing very different books

Why do I write what I do?

Because I have to – it’s part of me, of who I am.

How does my writing process work?

Hah! I wish I had a simple answer to that one. My novels always begin with a strong image in my mind’s eye, like a ‘still’ from a film. With Turning the Tide it was seeing a troubled young woman, Harry, sitting alone by the side of creek. With Move Over Darling, I saw Coralie, looking out of her workshop at the snow and with Follow A Star, I saw May, with her rucksack slung over her shoulder hoofing it down a lonely road. Then I start a new notebook, and, these days, a Pinterest board, and keep interrogating the scene – this part takes ages – until I know enough about the characters and setting to trust myself to start writing their stories.

With poetry the process is often started by something I’ve seen that needles me until I write about it – watching the farmer outside my window break the ground to turn a field over to housing, seeing the resemblance between my dad’s feet and mine when he lay on a bed in A&E.

What my work has in common, whether it’s long or short fiction, poetry or non-fiction is that it’s about my attempts to make sense of the world, to set those thoughts and feelings down in words in the hope that it might strike a chord with readers.

The next stops on the writing process tour, on Monday 12 May, will be …

Please welcome debut novelist, Janice Preston
Janice lives in the West Midlands with her second husband and two cats. She is excitedly waiting for the publication in August 2014 of her first novel, Mary and the Marquis – a Regency romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon Historicals. You can find Janice at her new blog:  on Facebook and on Twitter @janicegpreston

And drum roll please for my fellow ChocLiteer, Mandy James
Mandy has not one but two novels out this month!  Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Dancing in the Rain
 (PS I should also add that my own writing process is quite slow!) 
Mandy lives in glorious Cornwall. You can find out more about her at her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter @akjames61

Friday, 25 April 2014

Love Will Keep Us Together

‘Isn’t it good,’ observes my ex-husband’s wife to me as we stand chatting at Rose and Si’s wedding, ‘that for all our mistakes, our children still want to get married?’
Yes, yes, it is good. Even better, all eight parents (‘Our mums and dads found new loves and moved on,’ as the Best Man, Si’s brother, neatly sums it up during his speech) are absolutely delighted to be here for the sake of a much-loved couple.

Rose and Si’s love for each other is what lights up a day of utter joy – although I don’t think I’ve ever shed so many happy tears! I’m not alone either; when it’s my new son-in-law’s turn to make a speech, his heartfelt and wonderfully touching tribute to his bride has nearly everyone at the reception in bits. My lovely Rose is radiant with happiness, all worries about people looking at her completely forgotten because only one person matters today and that’s Si. Here’s a flavour of what was a truly special day. My thanks to our dear friends, Jill and Martin for most of the photos and if you’d like to see a preview of the official photographs (which are stunning), talented photographer Alexa Loy has written a blog about the day here.

Proud parents (2 of 8!)

Me and my girls.

To the reception

They're here!

All smiles...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Don't Look - it's the Bride!

Bride-to-be (R) exhibiting early signs of shyness!

'I’m worried,’ says my lovely Rose, ‘because people might look at me.’

Ever since she was a little dot, my younger daughter has had a horror of being in the spotlight. At nursery school, she wouldn’t sit for a photo unless she had a cuddly toy to face the camera with her and we all remember her first day at university when we had to drive round the block until she could pluck up the courage to enter the halls of residence. It’s a worry I understand; a fear of flying too close to the sun, of jinxing the moment, of crashing and burning. But, as I remind her gently, there’s no hiding place next weekend – she’ll be the one in the long, white dress!

After months of anticipation, the big day is rapidly approaching. Lily and I have arranged to have to have our hair cut and coloured, but as we walk into the salon it’s been taken over by a large bridal party with young women in rollers all drinking Buck’s Fizz and generally having a good time.

‘That’s our hair screwed,’ mutters Lily when we’re asked to take ourselves off for a while. When we return, the atmosphere is one of fierce concentration as rollers are removed, elaborate hairstyles concocted and make up applied. I find myself looking at the reflection of the bride-to-be. The pale blue velour hoodie she’s currently wearing over skinny jeans is at odds with the intricate blonde curls being arranged across one shoulder. It’s fair to say there isn’t a lot of spare money in this part of rural west Wales and although prices reflect that, someone will have had to dig deep to pay today’s hair-dressing bill. While I’m musing on this, I happen to look again and catch the moment when the hairdresser carefully rests a glittering tiara in the bride’s hair – and my eyes mist up with tears, because I so hope that there’ll be a moment in every day from now on when the girl in the mirror feels like a princess.

And so, my darling Rose, people will look at you on your wedding day, but try not to worry, take a deep breath and smile if you can because it’s only because they wish the best for you, as I do too.

Rose and Si, here’s wishing you every happiness and a bit of fairy dust, not just on Saturday but every day thereafter!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


At a quick glance at Home Thoughts this year, you’d be forgiven for thinking life’s been one big celebration after another. Of course, for every milestone reached, a lot of ground has to be covered and Tom’s put in a huge amount of work to achieve his MA with Distinction. It was, therefore, a very proud moment for me, Tom’s parents, my younger stepson and Ma to be able to attend Tom’s Degree Ceremony at the Barbican Hall recently.  

‘Why are you at the front?’ asks MiL, looking at the order of play. ‘Because I’m officially Very Clever,’ Tom replies.  I feel we’ve all done Very Well to get this far. Getting across London in a group that includes three octogenarians means being particularly vigilant about gaps at stations, busy trains and crowded escalators. Ma, especially, needs an extra dollop of tlc because of her bad back and injured shoulder. However, once again, I’m truly touched by the kindness of strangers who leap, unprompted, to offer up seats. Thank you, so much, whoever you were.

I’m so Very Proud of Tom; I shed a few tears and applaud like crazy. The only problem with him being one of the first to collect his degree is that I feel there’s a certain level of appreciation to maintain – especially for those whose families can’t be with them. By the time I’ve applauded what seems like hundreds of graduates, I feel as if my hands are on fire! But, how lovely to be part of such a happy occasion.

We’re looking forwards to another happy occasion when Rose and Si marry on Easter Saturday. But first, because they’re coming to spend a weekend with us, Tom and I decide to rack up the pressure a bit more by re-decorating our living room. No sooner have we waved the happy couple goodbye when I notice the typeset copy of ‘Follow A Star’ has arrived in my in-box for careful checking. We knuckle down for two days of proofreading – separately and together – with only a few altercations about spelling, grammar and where the Mary Rose was constructed. I would love to be able to claim that we’ve nailed it, but, as regular readers of this blog will know, I’m the worst person for checking my own work – I only ever see what’s in my head!

Something else that arrives is a fundraising pack from Pancreatic Cancer UK, with a brilliant running vest. I’ve decided to take a big step (the responsibility!) and run (Piriformis willing) the Cardiff Half Marathon on October 5th this year to try to raise awareness and funds for the charity which is striving to raise survival rates for this cruel disease. Another milestone ahead – and many miles to run!