Sunday, August 30, 2015


One of my stories in Murder In The Sun  is based on a true occurrence that took place on a school trip. Let’s just say that four teachers went and only three returned.
(Murder In The Sun - 23 stories. Out now but you’ll have to ask at WH Smith as they tend to hide them.)

Back in childhood days my two brothers and I were always fighting. One day the kitchen window got broken during one of our scraps. We were horrified. What were we going to tell Mom when she got home? Luckily I’d read in a book, or seen on television, that if the window is broken from the inside the glass is outside and vice-versa. Our shattered glass was outside so we carefully gathered it all up, put it inside and told Mom that someone had run up the entry and thrown a ball through the window. (The entry is a passageway between houses.) Mom never believed us and often asked, right up until she died, who broke the window? By then we had all lied for so many years that we honestly didn’t remember.

I confess to having a bit of work done. It wasn’t actually cosmetic surgery. It was necessary. My eyelids were drooping so I had an eye-lift on the NHS. I was awake while it was done but didn’t feel a thing due to the amazing local anaesthetic. The only nasty bit was listening to the surgeon’s tiny scissors snipping off the spare flesh. He said to pretend it was ice clinking in a glass so we made up a story about what we were drinking and where. 

I confess to putting the photo at the top to ensure you read the whole blog in order to find out what had happened to me. I should also confess to that photo being two years old but it got you reading, didn't it?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Perfect Day

I know it’s going to be a good day even though it’s barely begun. You get from life what you expect. The LSO taught me that. Every morning when he wakes he says thank you for being alive.

I woke at 7am after a good night’s sleep and couldn’t wait to get out of bed and start my good day.

Two M&S crumpets for breakfast with orange and ginger marmalade. Gorgeous, even if no-one outside the Midlands knows the difference between a crumpet and a pikelet. They were pikelets.

Turn to Facebook and emails first. I used to think it was wasting time but now I’ve unfriended all those who made me feel down I enjoy this and it’s a good way to start a day – contact with friends.

Began writing up an interview and stopped to have a reflexology treatment. How lucky am I, to be married to a reflexologist?

A cup of tea placed on my desk.

Interview completed and a bit of work done on the WIP.

Bread from Green Link, the organic shop. Lunch is a slice of Ledbury Loaf with vegetarian mushroom paté  and salad.

The sun shines. We go for a walk in Golden Valley, at the foot of the Malverns.

A long phone call from a friend.

The LSO cooks dinner.

Castle is on television. I love him. The LSO loves Beckett so that’s all right.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Edit Is A Four Letter Word

This week my cyber-sister's book came out. I asked Glynis a few questions about the book and her other writing.

Edit is a four-letter word! Where did you get that title from?
Don’t laugh but the title literally popped into my head one night. I liked it and thought I’d try to use it for an article for Writers’ Forum. Then the book idea came along.

This is your first book. Where did the idea come from?
 I noticed on the Compass Books Facebook page that Suzanne Ruthven wanted a book on editing. I’d been toying with the idea of combining some of my Writers’ Forum articles into an eBook and realized 25,000 words wasn’t impossible. I thought at that stage I could use some of my articles. This didn’t eventuate but the thought helped me believe it was do-able.

Did you enjoy writing it or was it hard work?
I loved doing the interviews, discovering all the different ways other writers go about editing.
And it was nice spending time at our beach house every month to write a chapter. Did you notice the sand between the pages?
But I hit the middle of book slump I’ve heard novelists talk about. A couple of very hard chapters stopped me in my tracks for a while.

You have the credentials to write about editing. You’ve certainly sold enough short stories. Which was your best year and how many did you sell?
2011 is my record year with 57 stories sold. There’s still a glimmer of hope in my eye that this record will be toppled. The difference now is that there are fewer markets and also I’m spending more time writing non-fiction than I used to.

And how much editing do you do on your short stories before sending them out into the world?
There are a few which seem to arrive in my brain exactly how I want them to be. I’ll keep them at least several days because there’s always something that jumps out at me by then. But usually just a few words or a piece of punctuation.
Other stories get chopped and changed a dozen times before I feel they’re ready to go out.
Once I’m happy with a story I then need to make sure it’s right for the different markets I send to. So I’ll end up with 750, 1200 and 1500 word versions of the same story, for example.

When writing Edit Is A Four Letter Word, how much did you learn along the way?
Far more than I expected, to be honest. I think the biggest lesson was to stop counting the edits and just get on with it. What does it matter how many times we have to read something?
I found it validating and reassuring to hear of best-selling authors agonising over their work. Seeing mistakes when it’s too late to make changes. Feeling unsure.
Another big lesson was knowing when to let go.
The material I gathered from other writers contained the lessons I needed for editing my own book. It couldn’t have worked out better really.

What did it feel like when that parcel of books arrived and you first saw a copy, in the flesh?  
A truck pulled up one morning as we were on the veranda having coffee. We were puzzled when a courier came in holding a heavy white sack. It took a while for it to register that these were copies of my book. I held one – and was still holding it at bedtime. It’s still sitting on my bedside table.

Any plans for more books?
I’d love another project like this. One I could work on for a week every month, alongside articles and short stories. So I’ll be keeping my eyes open for opportunities. And if any other titles pop into my brain during the night I’ll write them down again.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Three wonderful things

The joy of being in the right place. Worcestershire holds my roots and is my home.

I see my son for the first time in fifteen years. The past was always forgiven. He hugs me so hard. I never want him to let go.

I tell a friend and the tears come. She leans across the table and holds my hands. Thank-you, Abby.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Three signs (I don't mean Omens)

Seen outside a farm - LOGS, STICKS AND HOT MAX
Now I know what logs and sticks are but what is Hot Max? Or should that be who is Hot Max? Being a writer I’m thinking times are hard and the farmer’s hiring out his son. I’ll leave it to you to guess what for.

And does this one, seen on a menu board, mean cannibals are welcome?
The lack of an apostrophe isn’t down to me.

And this one seen in a book shop/café could be awkward, especially as it was on the back of the loo door.

Oops! Too late.