Behind every book…

The American author Pat Conroy once said, “Good writing is the hardest form of thinking. It involves the agony of turning profoundly difficult thoughts into lucid form, then forcing them into the tight-fitting uniform of language, making them visible and clear. If the writing is good, then the result seems effortless and inevitable.”

Or put more simply, in the words of Suze Orman, “Writing is hard work, not magic.”

As a writer myself, I’m only too aware of the enormous, painful and protracted effort that goes into producing a book. But the feeling when you’re finished is truly amazing. And it’s quite something to receive a great review from a reader.

So, as today is National Writing Day, why not check out a new author and support them? Or leave a review for an author you’ve recently bought a book from. Good reviews really help to make an enormous difference in search rankings. And…you might also want to consider writing somebody a note today. In our cyber world, getting a handwritten note or card from somebody is quite special. #NationalWritingDay

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Dead or Alive?

This beautiful image of a lion in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Botswana was taken by Yathin Krishnappa. Although the lion is yawning and at rest, it’s a stunning visual reminder of the killing power of this magnificent beast. There are times when authors are driven to take peoples’ lives. I’m talking about their fictional characters, of course (well in my case anyway). When I began to write Sunny Spells & Scattered Showers, I was aware that two of my characters were going to have to die before the story was resumed from my previous novel, Shipwrecks Happen.

I found it surprisingly difficult to do. I had lived with those characters for a few years when I was writing Shipwrecks Happen. I’d grown fond of them, and invested  a considerable amount of time in creating them. One of the characters even contained some biographical details from my grandmother’s life. Hopefully that struggle was a good thing – with any luck my readers will also feel they have come to know and love these particular characters. Although, I have to confess, worryingly, there was a very small part of me who, for a brief moment, enjoyed having the power of life and death. Maybe I need to revisit that feeling at some point and check myself out.

There was one character, however, who was given a reprieve from an early grave. I had intended to kill off Oscar, the dog who now appears in both books. He’s a central figure in Shipwrecks Happen and was a total product of my imagination. Life is a funny thing though, and after I’d finished writing Shipwrecks Happen, I became the owner of a little black dog just like Oscar. So when I tried to write him out of the next novel, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Do you know, I think it’s a shame, because I had great plans for Oscar’s successor – the new dog was going to rescue one of the characters in Sunny Spells and provide vital services in the daily round up of ponies at the trekking farm.

Perhaps the novel is a bit the poorer for the fact this particular storyline never happened. But I feel a whole lot happier to see Oscar live on.


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Hot off the press


Don’t you just love the part in the James Bond movies when the villain presses a button to launch the killer missile that is going to wreak havoc on millions… Well today, I pressed the button to approve the proof of my latest novel and, I’d like to think it gave me far more pleasure to do so than Blofeld ever experienced.

Sunny Spells & Scattered Showers is the follow up novel to Shipwrecks Happen. I wasn’t intending to write it. In fact, I’d a totally different book up my sleeve and was really looking forward to working on it. But, not only was I constantly pestered by readers of Shipwrecks Happen, wanting to know when I was going to write a sequel, I also found my thought drifting to the characters of Shipwrecks Happen. They wouldn’t leave me alone and soon were finding new things to get up to of their own accord. So I gave in, and began Sunny Spells & Scattered Showers, and now I’m pleased I did. It was great to find out what my characters did next and I hope you enjoy it too. Happy Reading!

p.s. The picture was taken on the Black Mountains, where the action in Sunny Spells & Scattered Showers takes place. The photogapher was the very talented Jai Cove.



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