Getting the words from brain to page

I’ve had the most wonderful day. I spent it wrestling with the behemoth that is re-writing. At 11 o’clock this morning I didn’t think I was going to write anything – it was like squeezing a stone and expecting to get lemonade.

I gave up and went for a walk, a coffee and a read of the paper. I was making my slow way up the hill again when a story started to tell itself in the back of my head. I practically sprinted the rest of the way, in order to get onto the PC and start typing before I lost it again. I’ve now printed off 5000-odd words. It doesn’t look much, but it adds 9% to the novel, and it has completely answered my problem as to how to give the MC’s love interest a voice of his own.

It has been wonderful to have a whole day to dedicate to writing (even though I still spent a large proportion of it on writing avoidance strategies). It wasn’t so much the number of words – I can often get 500 or 1000 words done on a work day, although the housework and family suffer a bit – but to really get my head round a new idea or direction, I need the time spent walking, thinking, letting it percolate.

How is this interesting or useful, you ask? I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it’s okay to waste a day, allowing your ideas to ferment in your subconscious. You might not think you’re working, but your brain is still chewing away at it. And also that it’s terribly easy to lose heart, if you tell yourself you must write for the next two hours, and then it doesn’t happen. Persevere. It will be worth it in the end.

Handling point-of-view changes

A very useful and thought provoking link from author Jami Gold.



Kintsuki is the Japanese art of mending broken porcelain with gold glue – so that instead of the cracks spoiling the piece, they instead add a new dimension to the piece.

Memories can mend
The broken pieces of my heart
With threads of gold.

Queen of a sandy kingdom

To keep my hand in while I wait with (oh yes – it’s the perfect cliché) bated breath for the first copy of The Calgary Chessman to come off the presses, I’m going to tell you about my protagonist.

Cassandra Longmore is a New Zealander who finds herself marooned on an island off the West Coast of Scotland, following her divorce. Feeling lost and unloved, she walks away loneliness on the beach at Calgary Bay, generally with no more company than the wind and a few oystercatchers. One day she stumbles across a mystery buried in the sand. Researching her find and discovering where it has come from will open the door to friendships and the promise of new beginnings.

There are three men in her life: Sam, the son she loves, Ewan, the good friend to whom she is attracted, and the new man in her life, archaeologist Niall. All of them introduce Cas to new ideas and feelings, and challenge her to take charge of her life and move into the future and, when she stumbles, her best friend Bernie is there to pick her back up and administer a much needed dose of tough love.

The Calgary Chessman is the first in a trilogy of novels about Cas, her family and friends. Crooked Cat Publishers will release it as an e-book and print-on-demand on 16 August 2014. You’re all invited to my online launch party at or join the facebook group The Calgary Chessman if you’d like to get updates.

Good words

I wrote this for my Dad (also a poet), who has been visiting Pompeii and the environs of Vesuvius, with the usual hiccups and delays in his tour schedule, met as always with equanimity.

Parole buone (Good words)
The poet takes in the sights of Campania

Pompous in Pompeii,
or navel-gazing in Naples,
the poet is expanding his horizons.
He enjoys olives, and wine,
in a vine-draped atrium,
but fails to rendezvous
with Herculaneum.
No matter. Non far niente.
There are plenty more places.
and words enough to play with.
Pass the wine, maestro:
I’ll reenact Pliny’s last day,
and raise a glass to Vesuvio.

I’m so proud of this

I'm so proud of this

I’m pleased as punch that the lovely Crooked Cat Publishing have agreed to publish my first novel. And I just love the cover.


The Calgary Chessman

My novel, The Calgary Chessman, will be published on 16 August 2014. You’re all invited to the launch party with my lovely publishers, Crooked Cat. Virtual champagne for everyone (or virtual elderberry cordial, if you prefer).



The Poetry Society are celebrating: 100 years since Edward Thomas created the poem ‘Adlestrop’. The anniversary date is 23 June – plenty of time to write a new poem. Click the title to visit their website and read the poem.


Blurb block

I’m trying to write the blurb for my novel that’s about to be published. I’m a writer, for heaven’s sake. How can this be so difficult?!

A haiku a day…

Marsh Harrier:
under his eye the land, the world,
turning into mist.

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