Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...

‘Shadows of the Past’ is officially launched in Ripon

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There must be something special about an author’s first book launch. Although Shadows of the Past isn’t my first published work, it’s my first novel and has been a real labour of love.

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The sun was still shining when I was ‘setting out my stall’ and, although the heavens opened later and some guests had to battle through a ferocious storm to get home again, nothing could dampen my mood. Many people have asked me about the inspiration for the story, parts of which are more or less autobiographical, and the selection of photographs in the centre of the table was there for them to browse through.

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By an amazing stroke of luck, I met Susan again at Swanwick a couple of weeks ago and invited her along, upon which she offered to bring her accordion and play some French bal de musette numbers to enhance the atmosphere. As a better wordsmith than I am a cook, I’m also indebted to my good friends Cathy and Sue for providing most of the wonderful food.

People from many different threads of my life came together and some were astounded to discover that they had me as a mutual friend. The quality of the photographs below is variable – my roving photographer was also host, barman and general factotum and didn’t manage to capture everyone – but they will give you some idea of the proceedings. Some of them are stills taken from the video he was trying to make at the same time. To guests who dropped in for a while and left before he picked up his camera or arrived after exhaustion set in, I can only apologise.

 

23 August, 2015 Make the first comment on this story

The excitement mounts…and the fear!

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Knowing that my first book launch is only three days away (Saturday, 22nd August from 5 p.m.) reminds me of the panic that always set in when my flatmates and I in Manchester were about to throw a party during our student days. Would no one turn up and we’d be left to languish alone amongst the refreshments we’d lashed out on? Would everyone we knew turn up and there wouldn’t be enough to go round or even room to stand comfortably? (Well, we did once have 200 people in our flat!)

Back garden June 2016

The weather wasn’t a factor in those days, but now it is. Our garden is quite a picture at the moment and I’m hoping to see a crowd of people enjoying it on Saturday. I’ve even arranged to borrow extra outdoor furniture from the neighbours. However, as natives of our ‘green and pleasant land’ know only too well, we pay a price for all that greenness. I once took part in an ‘erotic drama’* called Natasha, filmed a few miles away from here, and have never forgotten its Indian director ranting and raving every time we were rained off. It was August, for heaven’s sake, wasn’t it! Yes, but this was North Yorkshire, not Bombay.

Anyway, Que serasera as the song goes. There will be refreshments, there will be music and there will be a hopeful author with a pile of books to sign. Please come along and join me!

*In case you’re wondering, ‘my’ scenes were neither erotic nor particularly dramatic. I was part of the church congregation of ‘Little Haven’ (actually Birstwith) and had a badly sprained ankle at the time, which made it difficult to run for cover each time the heavens opened during the church picnic scene. Richard Lintern, who played the vicar, was very kind and almost carried me at times. If you’d like to know more about this ghastly film, which went straight to video – I have a copy somewhere – you can see the trailer on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJkv67-vRY4

19 August, 2015 Make the first comment on this story

The final curtain

All good things must come to an end, unfortunately. Courses wound up and the AGM held, it was time for the jollifications to begin.

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Rain threatened and the Dregs party had to be held indoors instead of on the lawn, but the Buskers band kept us all entertained. I’m slightly to the right of centre and enjoying a glass of wine.

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It was time to dress for the occasion and I think the smiles say it all.

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After dinner, it was time for Swanwick’s own version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, written by our newest committee member, Phil Collins. The sight of Romeo (Chairman Michael O’Byrne) in baggy pants and

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Juliet (Cathy Grimmer in an impossible wig and speaking throughout in a squeaky lisp), the sword fight and dramatic deaths of Mercutio (Ben Scott) and Thibault (Simon Hall) will remain with me for a long time. The audience was divided into Montague and Capulet camps and whipped to a frenzy by Phil on one side of the stage and John Lamont on the other. Hilarious! The evening finished, as ever, with Auld Lang Syne and the many Scots among us ensured that we performed it correctly; not a trace of ‘for the sake of’ and no crossing hands until the second verse!

13 August, 2015 Make the first comment on this story

A dramatic day at Swanwick!

What could possibly compete with a stellar performance from Simon Brett, multi-talented writer and raconteur par excellence? He set the bar very high indeed and I particularly enjoyed his take on ‘Under Milk Wood’ and the recent proliferation of gloomy Scandinavian crime dramas.

HOWEVER, the seven plays performed in this year’s round of ‘Swanwick Page to Stage’ had the audience alternating between tears of emotion and tears of laughter. With perhaps equal amounts of serious drama and comedy, there was certainly plenty to enjoy. Even I – a reluctant thespian these days – was persuaded to tread the boards again and I had a whole line to myself in Cathy Grimmer’s play about a family in disarray.

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Above is a photo call for everyone involved. You can just about see me in a turquoise jacket, seated at the front with Cathy standing behind me.

12 August, 2015 Make the first comment on this story

Friends reunited!

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One of the joys of Swanwick is making new friends and catching up with old ones.

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Not many go as far back as Geoff and I, who last met in 1972. It was great to see him again.

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Today was definitely one for basking in the sunshine and I really envied Julia’s hat. She gave us another stunning performance at Buskers’ Night, which included many other talented Swanwickers. As one who can neither play nor sing to any remotely acceptable level, I was content to sit back and enjoy it all.

 

11 August, 2015 Make the first comment on this story

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt!

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Yes, folks, I really have got the T-shirt! Today was the day to don it and do my short course entitled ‘Focus on Fillers’. I’d been dreading the technology going wrong but, with some help from a couple of obliging fellow Swanwickers, the Power Point presentation in the morning ran smoothly. The afternoon was given over to a workshop where people could come up with their own ideas and discuss where they might submit them. The room was full for both sessions and there was a lot of laughter, so I hope that everyone enjoyed the course as much as I did.

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Afterwards, I was very happy to relax and become a consumer again. Prolific short story writer Della Galton was a sure fire winner as the evening speaker.

10 August, 2015 Make the first comment on this story

Check Out My eBooks
Not far from Paris lies the village of Saint-André-la Forêt, where three English schoolgirls disappear without trace during the summer of 1965.

Twenty years later, a stranded traveller stumbles across a skeleton in the nearby forest and ignores local people's warnings to leave well alone. The secrets she uncovers, some dating back to the darkest days of World War 2, are more than enough to put her own life in danger.

Available in print and eBook version.
Your handy guide to writing 'fillers' for magazines and newspapers. Discover why keeping your camera and notebook on hand can be more profitable than you might think, how to make readers' letter pages work for you and the art of putting a new slant on old wisdom.
In fiction as in life, things rarely turn out as we expect. Plenty of surprises await characters and readers alike in this collection of short stories.
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