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Sunday, 22 December 2013

Solstice



The year has turned. Hurrah! In less than a week the onslaught of advertisements for festive food and expensive gifts will be silenced. Come Hogmanay our token decorations will come down, in order to welcome New Year visitors into a clean house.
A few more minutes of daylight each morning and the world feels a hopeful place. We humans’ reaction to the awesome power of sunlight must go back to caveman days, when our ancestors emerged blinking into another dawn, safe from nocturnal predators. Even as I wrap up warm to patrol the beach at dawn, the earth is stirring in its slumber. The first snowdrops will soon appear, and with them the promise that crops will once again push their way through the soil come Spring.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at freedigitalphotos.net

Thursday, 14 November 2013

SEASONAL RECIPE BOOK





Romance authors are often also chief cook and bottle washer for the family. The Wild Rose Press therefore asked its many authors to contribute recipes to an authors' cookbook, a seasonal collection of tried and tested favourites. To try something different this Christmas, from French onion soup to German coffee cake, download the cookbook free at http://www.thewildrosepress.com

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Review of The Rescued Heart



            A heartening review from InD'tale Magazine (www.indtale.com), an online publication which aims to introduce readers to the latest and best romances from small publishers and self-published authors. Shaunna Gonzalez gave The Rescued Heart 3 1/2 stars:




Ellen Ross, a widowed mother of two young adults, is looking for a change when a family friend invites her to accompany him to Basel, Switzerland. Basel is renowned for its art – and it doesn’t disappoint. In fact, she meets a youthful Swiss artist, Christian Karl. Christian offers excitement and a step away from her rigid upbringing when he invites her to pose for a portrait. Captivated by his artistic values, she succumbs to his seduction. The afternoon not only momentarily sets her free of the lifestyle that stifles her, but rescues her heart which she believed had died with her beloved husband. She leaves Switzerland and Christian behind, thinking that what happens in Basel will stay in Basel… but actions will always have their consequences.
Madeleine McDonald pens a novel with characters that live and breathe her homeland! Her main character feels weak at first but she consistently grows as the reader turns the pages. The author does an admirable job of painting a deliciously believable villain in Philip. Unfortunately at times the story feels contrived, with a few twists that seem a little too convenient.
Overall though, this fall/summer romance is a refreshing change of pace that rises above the typical dynamic. McDonald paints vibrant scenes from Switzerland’s green to the tiny studio of an artist to the landscape of coast and rills and a comfortable home in Scotland.


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Call centre slaves





Whenever I make a telephone call to the bank, the insurance company, or the electricity company, I make a point of saying loud and clear, “Good morning, Kevin / Damir / Maggie / Rachel or whatever name the hapless employee at the other end of the phone gives me. I also thank them by name when I ring off, even though they probably work under an alias. I can’t imagine a more dreadful job than working in a call centre and reading answers from a script, so good manners cannot go amiss.
 


Easier said than done when I run in from the garden only to find someone trying to sell me double glazing, or pretending to do a survey.  There I have to grit my teeth and remember that the voice at the other end of the line is still a fellow human being trying to make a living. So I growl after I put the phone down on them, not before.


Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Monday, 14 October 2013

Living with a non-reader



  
  I married a non-reader. He reads newspapers and magazines and I’m always amazed that he goes through them cover to cover, whereas I skim or skip whole pages. Fiction, however, is a no-go area. Just not interested.
   So when I sold a short ghost story, I pranced around the sitting room waving the acceptance email under his nose before demanding that he read the story then and there. Five single-spaced pages, is that too much to ask?
   I made a cup of tea, while he got as far as the second page. “This is weird. I don’t understand a word of it.” He stuffed the pages out of sight under his chair. “I’ll finish it later.”
   And under the chair the pages will stay, unread, unappreciated, gathering dust—until I retrieve them and our home life goes back to normal, me with my nose in a book while he watches sport on TV. Why disrupt marital harmony?   

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Walking the maze



 


We set off to walk the maze at Alkborough. A desolate setting, high above the mudflats of the Trent and the Humber. Strictly speaking, it is a labyrinth with a single path, rather then a branching maze, and is cut into turf rather than being surrounded by hedges. Set foot in a labyrinth and you become part of a tradition dating back to the Egyptians and the Cretans. So I did my best to follow my companion's instructions to empty my mind of conscious thought. Alas, being someone who always trips over her own feet, that didn’t work, since my conscious mind intervened every few strides to prompt me to do a U-turn if I wanted to stay upright and stay on the narrow path. Instead I thought of the mediaeval monks doing penance by shuffling round the path on their knees. On wet turf that must have been punishment indeed and more conducive to resentment than contrition.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Last Leviathans





A sobering, moving evening in the company of Theatre on the Edge. Writer Barrie Wheatley based his play, The Last Leviathans, on a diary kept by the surgeon of the Diana. One of Hull’s last whaling ships, in the winter of 1866 the Diana became trapped in the Arctic ice in Baffin Bay, Canada. The captain and a third of the crew died but the others survived starvation, scurvy and frostbite to sail her safe back to Hull 14 months after her departure. The dialogue sometimes sounded too modern, but clever staging jumped seamlessly between home life in Hull and the privations on board, and the sea shanties gave the play an authentic feel.    

 Image courtesy of www.theatreontheedge.co.uk

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Rescued Heart free on Kindle



For five days, The Rescued Heart is free to download on Kindle. 

Take a tour with me of the charming city of Basel and its eclectic art fair, spiced with a dose of romance.

 Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/dongga/3768706530

Friday, 16 August 2013

Connecting Nothing with Something



 A new anthology from Influx Press puts the spotlight on the run-down seaside resorts of England’s south-east coast. The title is well chosen because present-day blight, apathy and despondency threaten to obliterate their former charms. My poem was written about Hastings, but the subject is close to my heart because the seaside town where I live also struggles to regain purpose and prosperity.