Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year

As is traditional at this time of year I've been assessing the previous twelve months and looking forward to the next twelve. 2015 has been a variable year for me, but there's been more good than bad, especially when it came to the writing.

I've used my new pen (Christmas gift from my lovely husband) to write out my 2016 plans. Are your plans similar? More detailed? Totally different?

Whatever your hopes and aims for 2016, I wish you all the best for the year ahead.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015


Substantial means, of considerable importance, size or value. It also describes something strongly built or made (in the case of my cakes sometimes both meanings apply!) Another meaning is concerning the substantial points of something.

Substantially either means to a great extent, or for the most part.

To say that the substance of my substantial (100,000 words!) novel, Paint Me a Picture, concerns Mavis's relationships with her family and colleagues is substantially correct.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Greetings from the van

Gary and I are away for Christmas. Hope you're having as much fun as we are.

Gary gave me a new pen (to replace the one I bought with the proceeds from my first ever story sale). Can you guess what colour it is?

Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Zymurgy is the branch of applied science with relates to fermentation in brewing, winemaking and the creation of other alcoholic drinks.


Wishing you all a very merry Christmas, jolly holiday, happy hogmanay and wonderful new year.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015


Tumbledown means falling, or fallen, into dilapidation. To me it sounds nicer than neglected, devastated, destroyed or ruined.

Oh and coincidentally*, my lovely romantic novel Escape to the Country has tumbled down in price to just 99p/99c until 21st December.

The castle is Tarbert in Scotland. There are a lot of Scots towns and villages with the name Tarbert or Tarbet. That word means a narrow strip of land. It's quite often where two lochs meet.

There you go - two words for the price of one! You can't say I'm not good to you. Well, you could I suppose but I can't hear you from here.

*You didn't really think I planned this stuff, did you?

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Escape with a bargain

My romantic novel, Escape to the Country is available for just 99p/99c this week only.

Leah is accused of a crime she didn't commit. Dumped by Adam, the man she planned to marry, she escapes to Aunt Jayne's smallholding in the Kent village of Winkleigh Marsh. Heartbroken and homeless, she strives to clear her name and deal with her emotions. 

Jayne treats Leah's unhappiness with herbal remedies, cowslip wine and common sense in equal measure. In return Leah works hard for the delicious home-cooked meals they share. She wrestles with sheep, breaks nails and gets stuck in the mud - learning as much about herself as she does about farming. Soon Leah is happy milking cows, mucking out pigs and falling halfway in love with Duncan, a dishy tractor driver. 

Back in London, steps are being taken to investigate what's happened to the missing money. It looks as though the real embezzler must soon be unmasked and Leah will have to choose between resuming her old life or starting a new one. 

That's when her problems really start. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


Maybe you've heard, or even used, the phrase 'verbal diarrehoea' for someone who talks too much? Logorrhoea is actually the correct word to use as it means an excessive flow of words. It's prononunced log-oh-ree-a.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


The first Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writer's Support Group day. Do join IWSG if you're an insecure writer (and aren't all writers insecure at least occasionally?) or you'd like to offer support.

Last month was Nano - you may have noticed. I didn't 'win'. I didn't come close and it's not as though I did loads of other writing to make up for it. There are a few reasons and plenty of flimsy excuses, but the truth is I didn't do as well as I could have done.

There's room for insecurity in that. I could worry about my motivation, enthusiasm and low effort levels. Actually I have done that a bit. Maybe I'll do it a bit more. But it's December now. Nano is over and I can do something else. Maybe that'll go really well.

How about you? Did you 'win' Nano or do something else in November you're feeling chuffed about? Or was it a bit of a disappointment, writing wise?

Whatever November was like for you, I hope December is better.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


A guaranty is an undertaking to meet a payment or other obligation on behalf of another. It's usually made in writing. More than one are known as guaranties and they're made by a guarantor.

A guaranty can also be something used as security for a guaranty.  So a guaranty should, in theory, guarantee that the guaranty is met.

Confused yet? If so, don't worry about it and stick with guarantee. That can be used instead of guaranty as well as meaning a formal promise or assurance.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


I quite often cogitate (being a gardener and a writer makes it compulsory) but have only just realised that excogitation is also a thing. That means to think out or contrive, whereas cogitate is to ponder or even meditate.

By my calculations that means I can now spend twice as long looking at the pretty flowers and claiming I'm working by plotting on my plot.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Nice word cusp. Can't think why it isn't used more. It's not as though it doesn't have many uses.

A cusp is a pointed end where two points meet. This could be part of a tooth (pre molars are bicuspid as they have two pointy bits) or an architectural or biological feature. Eg the top of a gothic arch, a leap point or part of the valves in our hearts.

If a mathmatical curve reverses abruptly that change is marked by a cusp and cusp is also the name given to the pointed ends of a new moon.

Cusp can also denote a transition of some kind. Those who's birth sign is on or near the end of a period are said to be on the cusp. Eg if your birthday is on 20th March you're on the cusp of Pisces and Aries (what that means I haven't a clue!) Teenagers are sometimes considered on the cusp of adulthood (as are middle-aged writers!)

Monday, 9 November 2015

Dappled Things

There are both fiction and non fiction competitions here. Both have cash prizes.
For the fiction they're looking for, "carefully crafted short stories with vivid characters who encounter grace in everyday settings".

There wasn't enough sun for these trees to cast dappled shadows, but I'm sure that at times they do. 

Thursday, 5 November 2015


Today* is the launch date of my latest novel - Firestarter. It's a romantic comedy with a hot fireman and a few flames. (just pretend you don't know me when reading chapter 15, OK?)

*Good choice of date, eh?

To join in this launch party, just bring along something, or someone, hot!


Alice has a fantasy. It starts with being rescued by a hunky fireman, involves the kiss of life and ends in him not needing his uniform. At the New Forest Show, Alice is offered an innocent version of her dream. Reluctantly she turns down fireman Hamish's invitation.

Despite Alice's blameless behaviour, boyfriend Tony's obsessive jealousy kicks in. Hamish wants to take Tony's place, but a hoaxer ensures Alice already sees far too much of Hampshire Fire Service. The threat of an explosive sprout surprise, her mum's baking, sister Kate's mind boggling pep talks and the peculiar behaviour of Alice's boss Miles provide distractions.

Is Alice really in danger? What is Kate up to? Can Hamish possibly be as perfect as he seems? It takes Alice masses of wonderful food, disgusting wine, smelly mud, red footed crows and steamy Welsh passion, but she finds the answers. And rethinks her fantasy.

Thanks to all the people who've helped with promotion. You can find links to all the interviews and guest posts about the book, my writing process, locations, characters and wildlife here.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The first Wednesday of the month is when many writers share their insecurities and/or offer support. Do join us.

I have a very good reason for feeling insecure as tomorrow is the launch date of my latest novel, Firestarter. I'm sure I can't be the only author who feels a little nervous about how her book will be received.

Underneath the nerves there's a touch of optimism. I loved writing this book. If it's half as much fun to read as it was, people are going to enjoy it. I've also had extremely generous support from bloggers and writers when it came to publicity. Thank you! You can find details of the interviews and guest posts here.

If you can, please come back tomorrow for the launch.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Retrospection is the action of looking back or reviewing events and situations of the past, particularly those in our own lives. It also means to indulge or engage in retrospect. Eg, looking at my wedding photos provides happy periods of retrospection.

Retrospect means a a survey of past times or events, or to reflect on the past. Eg, in retrospect I'm glad I enrolled in creative writing evening classes fourteen years ago.

Oooh, the past is when castles were built! (It's almost like I plan this stuff.) Do you recognise this one? Or the handsome photographer  ahead of me?

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


A blurb is a short description of a book or film for promotional purposes. They're devilishly difficult to write (though not as bad as a synopsis!)

Talking of blurbs here's the one for my new romantic comedy, Firestarter, which is available to 'pre-order' now and will be released on 5th November.

Alice has a fantasy. It starts with being rescued by a hunky fireman, involves the kiss of life and ends in him not needing his uniform. At the New Forest Show, Alice is offered an innocent version of her dream. Reluctantly she turns down fireman Hamish's invitation.

Despite Alice's blameless behaviour, boyfriend Tony's obsessive jealousy kicks in. Hamish wants to take Tony's place, but a hoaxer ensures Alice already sees far too much of Hampshire Fire Service. The threat of an explosive sprout surprise, her mum's baking, sister Kate's mind boggling pep talks and the peculiar behaviour of Alice's boss Miles provide distractions.

Is Alice really in danger? What is Kate up to? Can Hamish possibly be as perfect as he seems? It takes Alice masses of wonderful food, disgusting wine, smelly mud, red footed crows and steamy Welsh passion, but she finds the answers. And rethinks her fantasy.

And talking of promotion ... you can find all the details of my blog tour here.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Brave new ending

For this competition, you're asked to write a new ending for Brave New World. The prize is a place on a playwriting workshop led by Nigel Planer.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015


Evince means to reveal the presence of a quality or feeling, or to make clear and plain. I believe this photo of our front garden evinces my love of flowers.

Evincing is also a word, evinced by its presence in my dictionary.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Have a word

Words mag offer regular free to enter writing competitions. (I was shortlisted in the June 'murder' one.)

The next one has an open theme and a deadline of the end of the year. First prize £50.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Rich means having lots of money, or other items of value. It can mean splendid, costly or elaborate eg richly decorated or patterned. Alternatively it's used to describe abundance. eg My mind contains a rich supply of story ideas.

Soil which is rich contains plenty of nutrients and is very fertile. Richness in our own food comes from fat or spices. Engines can have too rich a fuel and air mix.

Sounds, scents and colours are often described as rich when they're heavy, full or deep.

The phrase that's rich is sometimes used to convey the idea something is considered outrageous, ludicrous or extremely amusing.

Do you have any riches?

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Fattening up

No not me (like I'd tell you anyway) I'm referring to my article in the November issue of Writing Magazine, which will be in the shops any day now.

As well as my, not entirely serious, piece there's lots of good advice in this issue, especially for those who're considering trying NaNo.

There are loads of writing competitions listed too.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015


An idyll is a simple, happy and peaceful situation or period of time, or picturesque scene or incident. Often they're rustic, rural or romantic (or all three). It can also mean a poem or other artwork which describes something so idyllic. Some of the places we visit with our van are idyllically suited to my becoming an idyllist.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Brand new

OK, brand new is a phrase and not a word and this may be more of a rant than an explanation*, but this has been bothering me for a while ... Why do people (particularly those in marketing) say something is brand new? The only definition I've been able to find is 'completely new'. But new is like pregnant, dead or unique - either you are or you're not. You can't be slightly pregnant or fairly unique and an object can't be just a little bit new.

While I'm ranting, semi-naked is just as bad. There's no such thing. A person may not be wearing many clothes, but saying someone who's removed their shirt is semi-naked is like referring to someone as mildly dead. (Unlike the people who built the spynx who are really, totally and absolutely completely dead)

Are there any redundant or illogical expressions which annoy you?

*See the comments for that.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Purple pumpkin

This site has a monthly short story competition with varying word counts and a different word of phrase to be incorporated. There's a €10 prize, plus the winner and their story will be feature on the website and on social media.

The word count for September is 900 and the key word is chocolate. I don't grow pumpkins and I've eaten all the chocolate, but I can always do purple. These are autumn crocus.

Purple Pumkin are also open to a wide variety of book submissions.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Uncommon wealth

The top prize for the Commonwealth writers competition is £5,000. There are also five regional prizes of £2,500.

To enter you'll need to submit an unpublished short story of 2 to 5,000 words by 1st November - and be a citizen of a commonwealth country.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


Travail, or travails, is a situation involving a lot of hard work or difficulty. Eg the travails of book promotion. Apparently just bunging up a link and hoping people will buy it isn't enough. (But I'm going to try that anyway.)

Here's where you can buy my book!

Travels is something different altogether - I hope if you have any trips planned they don't involve any travail.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015


Consign either means to deliver something to someone (or arrange for that to be done) or to put a person or object in a place in order to be rid of them. Eg the editor consigned the manuscript to the return envelope.

A consignment is a group of items which are to be, or have been, consigned.

Con sign is a cheating or misleading sign which doesn't live up to what's written on it. Eg those which say 'up to half price sale' when in reality it's the discount which will be up to 50%, not the sale price.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


Hydrochory is passive dispersal by water. Plant seeds being carried downstream, fruit swept by tides and currents to a distant shore, writers drifting round a pool on a lilo, that sort of thing.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015


A monolgue is is either a long speech by one person, a dramatic work for one performer or a scene within a longer piece where just one person speaks. I'm not sure if that means anyone who talks to themselves is a monologist whose monological habits cause them to monogolize from time to time, but I expect it's something like that.

I tried chatting to this chap, but that turned into a monologue.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Carking cares

Cark is the harsh noise made by a carrion crow. They do sound as though they have a lot on their minds, maybe that's why cark also means burden.

Carking is an archaic term for something worrisome. I hope nothing happens today to carken you with carking doubts.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Parergon is work that's subsidiary to your main employment, or an ornamental accessory. Parerega is the plural in either case.

As a parergon to writing, I act as a photographic assistant (and I like to think I'm Gary's parergon, although I'm usually more wondswept than ornamental)

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


A gaff can be either one of two horrible sounding fishing implements, or a slang term for a person's home. Gaff can also mean a plan or secret, most often used in the phrase 'don't blow the gaff' which is similar to not letting the cat out of the bag. (English is fun, isn't it?)

Don't make the gaffe of adding an e - that's a different word.

Threave castle was once the gaff of Archibald the grim. (Upsetting him was way more than a gaffe)

I wonder if he used a gaff to catch fish in his moat?

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


A pie is a baked dish with pastry on the top and bottom (just on the bottom is a tart, just on the top is a gastro pub cheat). Easy as pie means very easy (so why can't those over-priced pubs get it right?). A pie chart is a representative circle divided into sections.

Pie in the sky* is unrealistic expectations or promises (possibly made when pie-eyed which means drunk) A pie can also be a piebald (black and white) animal or bird, a chaotic mess of printers' type or a former currency unit in India.

*Not to be confused with pie in Skye which is a picnic on a Scottish island.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


Quadrifid means to have four divisions or lobes. This akebia quinata has three parts to the flowers and five to the leaves - so that averages out right.

It also smells quite nice and grows like a triffid.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


A couloir is a steep, narrow gully on a mountainside. It's also a marvellous excuse to post yet another picture fro my Scotland trip (only 7,346 to go and you'll have seen them all)

It might not actually be of a couloir, but it's definitely a mountainside. Or a hill. Anyway, there was steepness involved.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015


A while ago I wanted a one word alternative to 'only child' and my friend Hannah discovered monogene for me. The word isn't in my dictionary and doesn't seem to have one clear definition, but being the only begotten child is one alternative. It can also mean unique, special and one of a kind.

Much as I love my brother now, there were times whilst growing up when I'd have preferred to be a monogene. (I can't give examples as he's got as much on me as I have on him!)

Monogenesis is in my dictionary. It refers to the theory that all living things developed from a single cell. Apparently it was a bacteria like thingamy*. Monogeny is an alternative term as is monogenetics.

*sorry for the technical jargon!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


An alpinist is a climber of high mountains (generally, but not neccessarily the Alps). I'm not an alpinist.

I don't know if there's a word for climbers of not very high mountains, only when it's sunny, the path doesn't look too treacherous and regular stops are permitted, but if there is, I'm one of them.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015


Specious means either misleadingly attractive or superficially plausible, but actually wrong.

Custard made with salt instead of sugar would add speciosity to your trifle. An example of speciousness is the specious claim that as chocolate is dervived from plants, a family sized bar of Aero counts as one of your five a day. That's only true if you choose the orange flavoured one (she adds speciously*)

*mint's a plant, so the green ones are OK too.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015


A monticule is a small hill. Sounds rather friendly, doesn't it? The sort of place you'd walk up to enjoy a picnic involving ginger beer and home made cake. A monticule can also be a mini mound caused by a volcano.

Here's the view from a hill (quite a big one) I climbed up last summer. Recognise it?

Clue ... instead of climbing up, you could just swan about down the bottom.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015


Umbriferous means providing shade.

The depth of Lydford Gorge would make it a pleasantly shady place to walk in summer, even without the umbriferous canopy of vegetation.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


I hope to keep this post compendious, that is comprehensive yet fairly brief. To write so compendiously would demonstrate my compendiousness, which would be nice.

Cakes are also nice (and round here they're comprehensively dealt with in a very brief time)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Fatalism can mean either a submissive attitude to events as being inevitable, or the belief that everything is predetermined and that we have no influence over anything which may happen. A fatalist is a person who thinks fatalistically.

I'm not a fatalist. Some things are out of our control, and luck plays a part, but I believe that it's generally possible for us to influence the future.

What about you?

Sunday, 12 April 2015


Rollick means to behave in a carefree, boisterous manner or to have a frolicksome adventure.

I often have a rollicking good time on our campervan adventures (I'll spare you the details of any frolicking which may occur)

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


An aardwolf is a grey and black stripy, African animal, related to hyenas. It eats insects (up to 250 termites per sitting) and is nocturnal. They're rather cute. I'm sorry I don't have a picture - next time I'm wandering the scrublands of Easterm Africa at night, I'll be sure to put that right.

I mention them because stories, amongst other things, are often listed alphabetically and being near the top can be an advantage in some situations and aardvarks have been overused for that purpose.

Three points are on offer to the first person to write a story titled, 'Adam the Aardwolf's Amazing Adventures Amongst the Agave in Aberystwyth.'

btw, it's #writing chat again tonight. The topic is genre. Do join us on twitter from 8 to 9 UK time, by tweeting using the hashtag.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Lugubrious means, doleful, mornful or dismal. It sounds as though it should be something fun, doesn't it?

As far as I can recall I've only ever come across it in relation to speech, but characters needn't just speak lugubriously, the could show their inner lugubriousness through a sad expression and dejected manner.

Much as I like the sound of foghorns, I think it would be fair to describe the noise they make as lugubrious.

Thanks to Beatrice!!!!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


According to my dictionary, hyperbole (pronounced hyperbollee) is 'an exaggerated statement not meant to be taken literally'. I wish someone would tell the media (especially the local news) and marketeers that.

People are never a bit upset and mildly inconvenienced when a bus service changes or the lift is out of order, they're devastated, trapped and stranded. When there's a mistake on their gas bill they're not a bit surprised and then glad when it's sorted out, they're shocked, dismayed and horrified then hugely relieved.

Food manufacturers don't release a new flavour, instead it's an exciting new recipe or unique taste sensation. Products are never quite a good idea which might be useful, they're innovative and life changing.

TV programmes are never quite amusing, they're always hilarious and slide-splittingly funny. Presumably 'they' watch the director's cut, leaving me with the version which got slightly lost in translation ... either that or I'm just a complete and total misery. Yeah, could be that.

Here's a picture of a deadly poisonous fungi I risked life and limb to photograph for you. Or, without the hyperbole, here's a fungi which might not be good to eat and which was growing on a slope of wet grass, meaning that had I not been careful I could have slipped a bit as I walked up to it.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


A stopple is a stopper or plug, usually for a bottle. We seem to have quite a few. I've no idea if they work - once our wine is open, we drink it rather than go round stoppling it.

Actually stopple is the verb as well as the noun, but however you say it, it seems an odd thing to do.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015


Often I challenge you to use my Wednesday Word of the Week, but not this time. I'd like this one to vanish.

Invent is a word. It means to use thought to create and originate. The result is an invention, created by an inventive inventor. It could be a physical thing, such as a wheel, space ship or cake. It might be an idea, song or story.

Re-invent doesn't mean anything, or at least not anything good as far as I can tell. Re-inventing usually seems to involve taking something good and popular and messing it up. Favourite food products are re-invented with a 'new and improved' recipe meaning they're smaller, pricier and disgusting. Classic stories are re-invented as unconvincing, watered down versions of the original. Re-invention is so much not a thing, that I'm not even going to make the letters bold.

Ooops, Wednesday Word of the Week seems to have been re-invented as Wednesday Whinge of the Week! I'm right though ... aren't I?