Sunday, 30 November 2014

Light in the Dark

The trailer for Bridge House Publishing's latest anthology, Light in the Dark, can now be seen on YouTube, at

The central character of my story, I'm Still Me, Puss, is barely there, as reflected in this stunning image created by Paul Field.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Writing spoof fiction

The Bookmuse Readers' Journal contains an entertaining selection of spoof stories written in various genres. The ink flowed when I tried my hand at spoof fiction, and I bombarded the editors with my offerings. In the end they chose my cosy crime story, featuring a pet cat who claws items from the local newspaper to provide its owner with clues for solving the mystery.

I would recommend writing spoof fiction to anyone who has writer's block. Spoofs give a writer licence to experiment, treading a fine line between parody and homage. From dukes and highwaymen in a Regency romance, to lugubrious ruminations in the style of Anita Brookner, I forgot my inner censor and enjoyed myself.  .   

Monday, 3 November 2014

Thankful Author

Today, 3 November, fellow author Angela Hayes features me in her round-up of thankful authors. I have much to be thankful for and wrote a tribute to my Dad. Dad left school at 16 and consequently had an exaggerated respect for education, combined with wariness when dealing with educated people. His early encouragement of my yen to write took the form of saying, "You write some peculiar things. Why don't you send something to Radio 3?" BBC Radio 3, in those days, was the natural home of eggheads. I wish I had been brave enough to follow his advice, but in those days I too thought eggheads were superior beings, born different to us ordinary folk.

I never made it onto Radio 3, but have had short pieces on BBC local radio. I wish Dad had been alive to hear them.   

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Was it murder?

The magazine Over My Dead Body today publishes a new selection of grisly tales, including my short story Last Resting Place. A cosy murder mystery set in an English village. But was it murder?

Read the full story at

Saturday, 27 September 2014

No thanks

Today I received an invitation to submit a romance story to an anthology. If accepted, I would have to pay  $597 (£364) to have my story edited, formatted and printed and I would also receive ten "free" print copies. That means each copy would cost me $59.70. For an additional $297 (£185) I could attend a weekend party to launch the book.

No thanks.

Compare this rapacious exercise in vanity publishing with the work of genuine publishers, which bear the full financial risk when they back little known authors. I know from working with the great team at The Wild Rose Press how much work is done behind the scenes.

Bridge House Publishing in England will soon publish its annual anthology. It also plans a launch party in December, to be held in a London pub. I and my fellow contributors will each pay a modest £15 ($24) for lunch, followed by readings and the chance to get to know each other. Not a money-making scam but a nice gesture from an author-friendly publisher.

Writing is a long, lonely slog. If only there was some way of warning would-be authors that success costs time and effort, not money.  

Image courtesy of Noomhh at  

Friday, 11 July 2014

A welcome surprise

My spy in Switzerland today told me The Rescued Heart (set in Basel and Scotland) is on sale at Bider and Tanner, a bookshop in Basel.that carries works in English. A bit of a mystery how a book published in America found its way there. However, I hope any Swiss readers agree that I have written about their city with enduring affection. Basel remains one of my favourite places: small enough to walk everywhere, large enough to have theatres and art galleries. Having France and Germany on the doorstep adds a touch of zest to Swiss reliability and efficiency. If only I could wave a magic wand and be on the spot to sign copies. 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


We homed in on it from fifty yards away. A small chest of drawers, dumped on the pavement beside the rubbish bins. Ugly handles and battered feet, but, hey, the wood was sound and the drawers still slid in and out with ease. Oblivious to the stares of passers-by, we circled the object of our covetousness, before common sense came to the rescue.

Twenty years ago, it would have come home with us, to be stripped down and restored to useful life. Twenty years ago, the hours we spent in the back garden, doing up battered finds with a cup of tea to hand, were therapeutic. But now? We have accumulated too much stuff: the house is full; the loft is full; the garage is slowly filling up.

Scrubbing, sanding, repainting and revarnishing now belong to the land of lost content. Time to let the younger generation carry off the plunder.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Invaded by Google+

In my innocence, I volunteered to create a blog for a community group. A short statement of our aims plus a few photos. Easy-peasy, you might think. Think again. Working from my laptop, it proved impossible to erase my own Google+ profile from the new community blog. Using an alternative email address did not prevent Google’s myriad, invasive tentacles identifying me. Somewhere, somehow, there must be an escape option, but non-technical dinosaurs are slow-witted, helpless prey and our privacy has gone forever. 
However, we dinosaurs still remember the old ways. I walked to the local library on my own two feet and created a Blogger account using their computer. Mission accomplished, with the bonus of fresh air and a couple of “wee blethers” along the way.  

Image courtesy of Victor Haddick at

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Spitting mad but almost grateful

In a lifetime’s travelling, I kept my eyes open for trouble. All I had stolen was one travel alarm clock and one rainjacket. Smug, moi? You bet.
Then, in my home town, smugness reared up and kicked me in the teeth. I tried on a jacket in the changing cubicle of a shop, making the classic mistake of picking up my shopping bag and leaving my handbag behind. Returning in panic ten minutes later, I found some lowlife had taken £60 in untraceable folding money. I’m still kicking myself for being such an idiot. 
Still, be thankful for small mercies. The thief did not take my house keys, car keys, driving licence, credit cards or phone—nor my precious writing notebook. No hassle, and life goes on. I could almost be grateful.  

Image courtesy of sattva at    

Friday, 31 January 2014

Giving romance heroes a say

Having read The Rescued Heart, a friend made an interesting comment. “I could see why she fell in love with him,” she said. “The way you described him, he was gorgeous. But I couldn’t see why he was attracted to her when she was middle-aged and insecure.”

In The Rescued Heart, the hero is an artist, accustomed to looking beyond the surface. However, my friend's comment made me think. As a romance author, I fall a little in love with each of my heroes despite his flaws, and I hope my readers do the same. Therefore I endeavour to get under the skin of my heroine, and I describe the characters’ shared journey from her point of view. Although my heroine takes centre stage, naturally she spends more time reacting to her man’s admirable or infuriating behaviour than reflecting on her own good and bad points. (Like all of us, she is oblivious to her own flaws).

Perhaps it is time to give my heroes more of a say.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Tumbling Beyond A Blog

Fellow author Christy Effinger interviews me today on Tumblr. Tumblr is a newcomer in the world of social media. The catchy name conjures up an image of information and opinions bounced hither and thither through cyberspace, generating their own momentum, as blog posts are read and reposted. According to Tumblr’s own figures, it has 300 million visitors a month. Mighty impressive, until you read that users must navigate their way through the 130 million blogs hosted by the site. To see where curiosity takes you, and to find out more about Christy’s Say Nothing of What You See, a paranormal tale laced with romance, visit her at:

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

On tea-making as an alternative to murder

The Chinese and Japanese civilisations have developed rituals around the act of offering a drink of tea, devising ceremonies that go far beyond domesticity or hospitality. Every step of the elaborate ritual is designed to emphasize tranquillity, mutual respect and spiritual harmony.

I could have done with some inner harmony this morning when I made my husband a cup of tea instead of murdering him. The dear man had put a baking tray away in the cupboard, unwashed. Some weeks later I retrieved it, slippery with oil and encrusted with charred remains. Grrr! Even my mother, who displayed a splendid disregard for domestic perfection, would never have done that.

Inner peace failing to manifest itself, I revert to Keep Calm and Carry On. Recall my own mistakes and near disasters. Make cup of tea for both of us and smile. He smiles back, his tranquillity undisturbed.  "Any chance of another?"  he asks.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at