Writing

Still She Stared…

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Our eyes locked and we held a gaze, hers bore into mine.

Seconds elapsed, I looked away, it was ten to nine.

I looked again in her direction to see if it could be,

paranoia or imagination, yet still, she stared at me…

Music filled the crowded room, feet tapped against the floor, then suddenly my memory zoomed, I’d seen that face before!

Our paths had crossed but where, but when? My mind began to search.

Perhaps at college, through a friend, a wedding, or at church.

People blocked most of my view, scents circled in the air.

But through a gap, I managed to catch her lingering stare.

Admiration? Curiosity? Spite? Or could it be, that she saw someone that she knew familiar in me?

I looked again with half a smile and she returned my gesture.

My curiosity urged me to make my way towards her.

At five to nine I made my move, simultaneously she came towards me too.

As I held out my hand to greet her, my fingers pressed against the mirror.

And still, I stared…

After one too many gins and tonics!

I wrote this poem many years ago. It was inspired by a friend of mine who told me that this had actually happened to him, and he also told me that he totally fancied himself in the mirror!

Dear Sun…

woman looking at sunset

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Dear Sun,

Well, I just don’t know what to say to you anymore. You just drop by whenever you feel like it, raise my hopes, then go off to Spain, Greece, or wherever takes your fancy. And don’t get me started on Cyprus. It’s 35c over there today. Thirty-five! I mean, how could you? You spend all summer with them. Every year! I hardly ever see you.

Yes, I have tried self-tanning lotions but they’re all fake. FAKE, I tell you. What? Which incident with the sunbed? I don’t…oh, wait a minute. Ahem. That was ages ago, it meant absolutely nothing. I was desperate, wasn’t thinking straight. Yes, I know they can hurt you, thank you very much. Look, it was just one-off, okay. I didn’t even enjoy it. I mean, you’re always letting me down, aren’t you? Promising to show up then sending all that gust and rain in your place. It’s too much to bear. I’ve had to go into therapy. Me! Can you believe it? They’ve even put me on vitamin D.

Of course, I know you’re worshipped worldwide, but what about poor us in the UK? We’re your biggest fans, you know. In fact, whenever you turn up we take to Twitter and Facebook proclaiming our joy of your arrival. What do you mean I complain when you’re here? I’ve never…oh, hang on. That’s only when you’re a bit full-on. You must admit, you can be a bit over-generous and muggy, can’t you? I mean 38c in London, it’s unthinkable. I could barely type, and you kept me up all night with all that heat. I mean, is a cool breeze at night too much to ask for? No, a fan won’t do, I can’t sleep with all that noise. Open all the windows? You really are being silly now. What if a bat or insects fly in and chew all my toes off while I’m asleep? What then, hmm?

Anyway, I’ve had enough of your excuses and quite enough of your downpours, to be honest. I don’t think I can cope with this anymore. I’m leaving you for a light lamp. No, don’t try to stop me! My mind’s made up. Yes, yes, I’ll see you around. Bye.

P.S. I love you.

My Writing Style

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When I got my book deal, I immediately texted my husband to tell him the good news. Naturally, he was over the moon for me. Messages flew between us with the final one, from him, saying he’d bought me a gift to celebrate. His words made my heart melt. How lovely of him to be so considerate and supportive. I waited anxiously for him to come home, wondering what it could be. I’d been eyeing a Michael Kors wristwatch in the shop window for quite some time. But no, that was too expensive. Maybe it’s a perfume, I thought, or a lovely bottle of something sparkling for us to celebrate with. When he finally walked through the door with a huge whiteboard under his arm, I must admit, I was a little underwhelmed. Hmm…I thought, not quite romantic. But I was wrong to think this because it was a very romantic gesture. It proved that he listens to me and cares about my craft. Why? Because I’m a planner, not a panster.

I envy authors who start with a blank page and go on to write brilliant novels without any sort of preparation because I can’t get excited about a story until I know the ending. I’ve always been like this, even with my short stories. Once I know what’s happening, created my cast and worked out the plot, then, and only then, will the words flow. Admittedly, the novel does often change as the story unfolds, but I generally stick to the original plan, editing as I go along.

I usually finish a book in three drafts. But while I used to scribble everything down in notebooks, on post-its and on scraps of paper, I now use my whiteboard, and everything is in one neat place. How amazing is that? I still use notepads and scraps of paper because it’s just a writer thing, but my main story is drafted on the whiteboard, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, which includes dates and times. It rests against the wall behind my desk.  So whenever I’m unsure about anything, instead of rummaging through draws looking for sheets of paper etc., I simply spin round on my chair and voila, the information I need is right there in front of me. I used it religiously as I penned my second novel, No Way Back, published on 21st September 2017 by Urbane Publications.  I then wiped it clean and used it again to draft the sequel. And I hope to get lots more use out of it in the future!

How Music Inspires Me When I’m Writing

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Many people ask me where I get my inspiration from when I’m writing my novels. Inspiration comes in many forms, but personally I find listening to music while I’m out running a great source, especially on lovely warm, sunny days. But even when I’m pounding away on the treadmill at the gym (okay, huffing and puffing as close to the air-con vent as possible), I’m always listening to music and often thinking about my WIP – the protagonist, the cast, the chapter I’m working on. Some of these melodies help me to create a vivid picture in my mind about the characters and their lives, the scenes, the highs and the lows, the cliff-hangers. Yes, music is a very powerful source.

With this in mind, I decided to create a compilation on Spotify of some of the songs that represent my second novel, NO WAY BACK. Several of the tracks on this collection are songs that I listened to while I was working on the book, some of which moved me to the core. In fact, two of them made me cry. They still do! A few of the tracks are mentioned in the story, such as Dancing Queen by Abba and Shape of You by Ed Sheeran. And some simply embody the story in a way that takes the characters and their lives beyond the pages of the book.

I’m sure you’ve guessed why Red High Heels by Kellie Pickler is on the playlist just by looking at the cover, and the blurb might explain why Want You Back by HAIM is on there, too. But you might be baffled by the inclusion of Zorba the Greek. I won’t spoil it for you but the story starts in Cyprus, and when you read the first chapter you’ll realise why this particular track is so significant to the story and why it has centre stage on my playlist.

So, without further ado, here’s NO WAY BACK, the book soundtrack. You can listen to it on Spotify for free but you will have an ad popping up every half hour, and you can’t download this or any other playlist onto your phone or computer unless you’re a paying subscriber.

I hope you enjoy the songs on my literature inspired playlist and that they give you an insight into the story and the characters in my novel.

No Way Back is now available on Kindle and in Paperback

Poem – My Friend

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You listen when I have something to say

You care when things don’t go my way

You mind when people taint my name

And always feel my pain….

 

We share, we stick together like glue

Sip wine and tell a tale or two…

We laugh so hard until we cry,

and shoot our dreams into the sky

 

When you succeed I burst with pride

And when you hurt, I ache inside

When you’re in trouble, when your world is blurred

I know before you’ve breathed a word

 

And sometimes, when you’ve done wrong

I steer your ship through the storm

You rant and curse but know I’m right

as I guide you gently to the light….

Because you know deep down inside

I have your back; I’m on your side.

And that’s what friends are for. ❤️