Friday, 8 December 2017

Festive Favourites

If you’ve been following this blog for some time you’ll be aware I don’t do Christmas presents. This has resulted in the mistaken view that I’m related to the Grinch. This could not be further from the truth. It is a season I relish for several reasons which are about to become very clear to you.

In truth, one of my favourites relies on a turn in the weather. The minute I feel the merest ear tingling nip in the air it means I can begin to indulge in earnest. But indulge in what?

Hats of course.

I love wearing hats and find it as difficult to turn my back on a good hat as I do to shut my eyes when I pass a shoe shop. I’m not entirely sure where this love of hats comes from but I decided long ago not to fight it. I tend to favour hats which hark back to the 20s, 30s & 40s. And who can blame me? They just scream style as far as I’m concerned. You only have to watch an episode of The Houseof Eliott to see what I mean.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering what else tickles my festive fancy. I’m so glad you asked.

Most definitely next on the list has got to be the variety of festive drinks on offer. I’m particularly partial to a spot of mulled wine. I won’t refuse a spiced hot toddy either and have been known to frequent those coffee chains I otherwise eschew during the rest of the year to purchase such delicacies as Baileys, gingerbread and salted toffee lattes.

Naturally to accompany these drinks I need tasty treats and what better than a slice of Panettone or Pandoro. I have been known to stock up on mini chocolate panettone from Lidl so my unexpected guests can have a taste sensation with whichever drink is on offer. The fact my guests rarely get to sight this delicacy may have something to do with the fact I consume them as fast as I buy them.

Sadly I’ve never owned a Christmas jumper. A tragedy I hope to remedy soon. But what I do have are a selection of Christmas earrings. My favourites are a pair of vibrant blue sequined baubles bought for me by my wonderful fellow Ruskin Readers tutor Caroline.  I take every opportunity to wear these sparkly babies even when they don’t compliment my outfit. Tis the season and has to be done.

But now for my final festive feel good must have. The Magic Radio Christmas channel is locked in from the 1st of December on my kitchen radio. Anyone attempting to retune the dial will suffer serious injury. There are sharp knives in my kitchen. Next is the Freeview Christmas Channel. The films are saccharine sweet and the plots often ridiculous but I cannot resist it, especially when I have a mini panettone and festive drink in tow.

As is standard in my house, the Christmas tree goes up on the first Saturday of December and the downstairs areas get a festive make-over. A little party of sorts always accompanies the tangle of lights and gasps as ornaments are unveiled and their beauty re-examined. As it was my launch on the 2nd I postponed the tree set up to the Sunday. The delay did not diminish the final effect or atmosphere.

Here's a little taster of the result

I would like to take this opportunity to remind friends and family that I really don’t need a gift. If you still feel the urge to gift me this festive season then please indulge me by donating to one of my favourite charities instead. The list with links to the donations pages are all below:

Wishing you all a wonderful festive season

Friday, 1 December 2017

Book Launch

It’s today! 

So if you’re anywhere near New Cross then please pop on by, we’d love to see you.

I’ll be reading from the new book. Then there’ll be music, poetry, stand-up and much more. Food & drink available as well as copies of the book for you to buy and me to sign.  

Book 1 in the series will also be on sale.

Also on sale: Stories for Homes Vol 2 in aid of Shelter, which is also available as an e-book.

& Featuring Special Guest Author: Ross Montgomery

Huge thanks to Mihaly & the team at The Rosemary for helping me put this event together. Added thanks to my wonderful MC Amanda Hamilton for her support and advice throughout the preparations.

Friday, 24 November 2017


Once, when I was about 12 or 13 I bemoaned the fact I had no friends.  Around me, my contemporaries seemed to have scores of them.  I felt understandably left out. My mother sat me down and told me she could count her most valued friends on one hand. I disbelieved her. I was at that age when you begin doubting the wisdom of your parents.

As you know from Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, I’m thrilled to have 5 gems on my bracelet. But with Thanksgiving round the corner, I'm once again celebrating fabulously forged friendships because a good friend is the most priceless gift of all.  

As well as the Koh-i-noor diamonds making up my sparkilicious friendship bracelet, there are other friends who also give me succour in more ways than they might realise.

The first group owed acknowledgement this Friendsgiving are the members of my Writing Group in Telegraph Hill.  Without this lot I’d spend a great deal of time writing far too many words and do a lot less editing. Yet despite the fact I sometimes come away from our sessions feeling as though I’m hobbling along on bloody stumps (thanks for that one Rupert), every single session is worth the agony.  It’s worth it because they make me want to do better. As far as I’m concerned that’s how it should be. I don’t need to belong to a writing group full of friends who tell me what I want to hear. I want them to tell me the hard truths and this group certainly does that.

Next up are the ace people at my local Argentine Tango clubs. First off there’s Tango South London. Not only did Claire Loewe teach me how to eat, breath, walk and talk tango but also aided and abetted my now insatiable shoeaholic habit. Claire, I’m sending you the bill for my therapy sessions.  Next in line is Tango 178, where friendships forged during tandas have spread from the dance floor to other areas of life.  Tango, without you, this seriously introverted being would be a hermit.

The third group of people are also dancers. They are part of the Lindy Hop scene and have taught me a dance which makes my heart sing and my brain buzz. Two people in particular have taken the time to teach me, not only the joy of this dance, but also the subtle technicalities thereof.  Loretta and Onel – I’m hooked. You have given me the confidence to seek out Lindy Hop wherever I go.

Last, but by no means least, is the literacy club Ruskin Readers. When I first joined this group I was a dejected unemployed being. Through my volunteer work with them and the amazing support of Caroline Knapp I’ve grown in confidence and become a fully-fledged member of the tutors’ team.  Despite the fact Lambeth Council have ousted our club from our beloved Carnegie Library, we’re standing strong and taking the club towards its half century anniversary.

To all you lovely people who make up my circle of friends – Thank you, thank you, thank you & a very happy Friendsgiving to you all!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Scifi & Dystopian Giveaway

I'm thrilled to announce that Where Rainbows Hide has been included in a mass e-book GIVEAWAY hosted by well known author and pod-caster, Paul Teague.

Can you spot my little baby in the fabulous line up above?

Get your FREE books here

Friday, 17 November 2017

My Top 5 #Discworld Reads

It’s time to update you on how my annual reading challenge is going. For those of you new to this blog I’ll give a quick recap. This is the second year I’ve set myself a reading challenge. Last year I decided I would have a go at reading 100 books in a year. It nearly killed me but I did it. If you want to read about it please do so by following the link above.  This post however is about my current reading challenge. It’s the one where I try to read as many Pratchett novels as I can in a year. I started with the Discworld books and there are 41 in the series.  I’ve managed to read 24 and thought I’d give you a heads up on the five I’ve found the most entertaining so far.

At number 5 is Witches Abroad

The triple act of the witches Weatherwax, Ogg and Garlic are crucial in giving readers a taste of Pratchett’s brilliance at character creation.  He does a mean job of description and one of my favourites is of Nanny Ogg’s son Jason:  “He didn’t look as if he could possibly have been born, but as if he must have been constructed. In a shipyard.  To his essentially slow and gentle nature genetics had seen fit to add muscles that should have gone to a couple of bullocks, arms like treetrunks, and legs like four beer barrels stacked in twos.”

Coming in at number 4 is Lords & Ladies

It’s loosely based around A Midsummer Night’s Dream so naturally there are fairy folk. But as this is Pratchett, expect the unexpected.  My absolute favourite scene is when Nanny Ogg takes a bath. It involves people and animals running for cover and is nothing short of brilliant as it has echoes of my own bath time regime and its effect on my lodger and neighbours. While this is a thoroughly good read in its own right I would recommend you read Wyrd Sisters or Witches Abroad before you do so as it is a sequel to them in many respects.

Pirouetting in at number 3 is Maskerade

I love it when Granny Weatherwax & Nanny Ogg get together to sort out a problem. I love it even more when their world collides with that of Ankh-Morpork.  This tale travels through the opera house and along the rooftops of Ankh-Morpork with a satisfying disdain for snottiness. Truly befitting of some of Pratchett’s most entertaining characters.

Loping into the Number 2 spot is Men At Arms

In this novel we get the opportunity to get to know a deal more about both Sergeant Carrot and Lance Corporal Angua. I’m particularly pleased about this as I’ve always rather liked Carrot’s simple, affable character which masks an innate intelligence while I’ve been intrigued by Angua ever since I first read about her in later Discworld novels.

Finally at Number 1 is Guards Guards

The wonderful and terrifying thing about this novel is how aptly Pratchett captures the essence of society’s worst aspects. The main reason I read Fantasy is because it leaves me with the hope that right will always triumph over wrong. It’s an optimistic view which I find needs re-enforcing more and more as I grow older.  This book contained so many favourite characters that it’s difficult to pinpoint whose performance I loved best.  I however found the raw recruit Carrot totally and utterly endearing.

Pratchett takes the things we know and love and transposes them into more incredible versions of themselves. I love his unusual take on everyday items. His genius lies in the fact that he so completely transports you into the world these things and characters inhabit. And what a terrific journey it is.

If you’re into Fantasy and you’ve never read any Pratchett… you should really do it now!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Project Imagination Set Free

An e-book GIVEAWAY

Hosted by Scott Ferrell and featuring over 30 writers, including myself, of  amazing young adult stories that fall under the genres of fantasy and sci-fi in all of their many forms.

Get your free books here

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Blog Tour

So this is my first ever blog tour to promote the release of a new book.  I’m being hosted by a fabulous set of bloggers. A massive thank you to them all for having me.

Dates for your diary

2nd November

To begin with I’m staying more or less local. Post 1 is hosted by Lindsay Bamfield who I met through a North West London writing group. It was run by Stewart Permutt and was the most welcoming group ever to grace the face of the planet. I was introduced to it by my good friend Barbara Hartridge. Even though getting there and back was a major trek on the North Circular, I stayed in this writing group for almost 4 years while it was run out of various venues, including a room at Alexandra Palace.

9th November

Next I’m off to Sheffield where Post 2 is hosted by the lovely Anna Caig’s reading blog. Anna and I met in a bakery while I was visiting my Sheffield BF. Anna blogs about books she’s read in her ever growing home library and her family’s obsession with James Bond films. Since our meeting she’s guest blogged for me and also reviewed one of my books. As with all things North of the Thames, this liaison promises to be a fruitful one. Long may it continue.

15th November

Post 3 is all the way over in Oz – Adelaide to be precise. This is thanks to the magic of the internet and the wonderful online contacts I’ve made since joining The Alliance of Independent Authors. Fellow author, Lisa White, was looking for indie authors who write Magic Realism or Urban Paranormal to interview or review.  I jumped at the chance as there are few people who even recognise Magic Realism as a genre. Since our initial messages on Facebook, Lisa and I have become regular correspondents via social media. This is evidence the internet can be a force for good.

29th November

Finally I’m back in the UK for Post 4. This transpired as I follow Naomi on Twitter and have always envisaged her being something like Jacqueline Wilson’s illustrated mum due to her Twitter handle - @tattooed_mummy. It turns out my tattooed mummy has only one tattoo but I find her posts on Twitter off the wall and highly entertaining. So when she put out a call for authors to interview for her blog I was quick to jump in the queue.

I invite you all to join me on my blog tour through the parts of the UK I’ve come to know and love well with a lay-over in Adelaide.

Buy Here!