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My latest blog posts

Snow!

This week the snow hit our home in Kent, blanketing the world with soft, silent whiteness. Here are some pictures I took.

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Favourite film: Immortal Beloved

As regular readers of my blog have no doubt gathered, I adore music and it often forms the basis of my inspiration for my writing. Classical music is a particular favourite – when a song has no lyrics, it frees my mind to imagine the accompanying words; and of course

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Bewitched, bothered and bewildered

A sinister undercurrent running through my book Burning Embers is fuelled by native African culture embodying voodoo magic, witchcraft and evil intent – all under the auspices of the witch doctor. The protagonist’s former yaha (nanny), Aluna, is a big believer in all that is supernatural, and she stirs in Coral seeds

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The cost of love?

When browsing through a newspaper, I’m always drawn by articles about love and romance, whether love stories or commentary on the current state of romance in the country. So this week I was intrigued to read reports in the national press of a survey commissioned by Match.com to investigate the

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Drawing upon the seven core stories

Every writer tries to be original in her writing – otherwise, what interest is there for the writer and the reader? But some writing experts believe that it is not possible to be original when it comes to the fundamentals of the story – the bare bones, if you like.

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Censorship and writing

Writing is about expression. A writer must be free to be herself. Without constraint. Placing rules on a writer simply hinders the creative process. To paraphrase Shakespeare, ‘at the length truth will out’. But through the years many regimes have censored books whose contents they deemed to be outrageous, sacrilegious,

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The importance of the sun

Light is essential to my life. Light, to me, is life itself – it’s what gives me energy and strength and creativity. The long winter months are hard, but I get through them by taking long walks in the countryside with my beloved dogs, and by keeping the house well

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Author photo shoot

In preparation for the launch of my new novel, Burning Embers, and my author website, a professional photographer came to my home in France to do a shoot. It was great fun, and I thought I’d share my favourite pictures from the day with you here.

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Breaking down Burning Embers

Any writer will tell you that good writing involves using a varied vocabulary, but of course in a novel certain themes are paramount and we bring these to the fore by touching on them often. A friend recommended that I try a word frequency checker as a fun exercise and

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Rechristening the romance genre

I call myself a romance novelist; I write romance books. The genre in which I write is entitled ‘romance’. But I wonder, sometimes, whether that’s quite accurate. Because while I do write about romance, I would say that the core of my writing is love. I write about love. Romance

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A novel giveaway

I was intrigued to read in the Independent recently that McDonald’s has teamed up with publisher HarperCollins and for the next couple of weeks will be giving away a children’s book, rather than a toy, with each Happy Meal. McDonald’s has bought a staggering 9 million copies of Michael Morpurgo’s

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The editing process

Writing a novel is the fun bit – you let your imagination roam, you live in a half-daydream state rich with colour and imagery. Your days are spent doing what you love best in the world – playing with words, expressing your inner self, conjuring up a world that makes

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Alternative plot directions

Do you remember those ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ books for children that were in vogue in the 1970s and ’80s? The idea was that the reader, rather than the author, had some measure of say over the direction of the plot. Such fun for a child; though tricky to write, I imagine!  

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Burning Embers-inspired fruit salad

It’s the start of January, and for many of us that means an end to the indulgences of the Christmas season and renewed resolutions to eat healthily – good, fresh foods, sensible portion sizes and the five-a-day of fruit and veg. What better recipe, then, than one for an African-style

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The artistic hero

What does a woman look for in a romantic hero – in the object of the protagonist’s affection in a romance novel? Of course, we like him to be handsome and mature and intelligent and brave and masculine. We’re likely attracted to sensitivity and a sense of humour and a

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From writing a single book in a lifetime to 4,000…

If writing your first novel is hard, writing your second is harder still! The Huffington Post recently ran an interesting article on ‘One-hit-wonder authors’ – famous authors who only ever wrote one book. The authors included in the article are: Anna Sewell – Black Beauty Boris Pasternak – Dr Zhivago Cyrill

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The perfect man?

What makes a perfect man? Does such a man exist? Perfection is surely subjective – so what’s your idea of a perfect man? These are the fundamental questions explored in a recent survey commissioned by Remington (the UK supplier of hair care and personal care appliances). Remington asked 2,000 women

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A Touch of Moonlight

Regular readers of this blog will recall that one of my favourite poets, and one whose verses inspired me while writing my novel Burning Embers, is the 19th-century poète Leconte De Lisle. As a reader, I enjoy rich imagery, words that create vivid pictures in my mind; and as a

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For Auld Lang Syne

Is there any more well-known but misunderstood refrain through the English-speaking word than that of ‘Auld Lang Syne’? It is, of course, the song that, traditionally, we sing at midnight on New Year’s Eve (Hogmanay  if you’re Scottish) to say farewell to the old year and celebrate the new –

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Burning Embers as a word cloud

I love words and I love art and creativity, so I think word clouds are a fabulously fun innovation. You copy a section of text into a program, and it generates word art based on a random selection of words (well, they say random, but I suspect the algorithm finds

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Christmas in Kenya

My novel Burning Embers is set in Kenya, and while the action does not span Christmas, I thought it would be interesting to consider what Christmas means to a Kenyan native. In the UK, Christmas is pretty much universal – even atheists may have trees and exchange gifts. In Kenya

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Favourite painter: David Roberts

An afternoon spent wandering aimlessly in an art gallery or exhibition, letting the images feed my imagination, is sheer bliss. As with music and dance and literature, I find many forms of art inspirational in my writing. A painter whose works I much admire is David Roberts, an artist who

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Music to write books by: revisited

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that music is instrumental (forgive the pun) in my writing. It stirs emotion, it inspires, it creates ambiance, it lets the imagination take flight. I have varied tastes when it comes to music, and I listen to an eclectic mix when writing in

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Romance in dance: ballet

What is it about ballet that speaks so to the romantic soul of the watcher? For me, I think it is many things – the catharticism of the music, the grace and fluidity of the physical form, the perfection of the movement, the strict structure within which beauty emerges, the

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How peril creates connection

In many love stories – on screen, in literature, in music – there are examples of characters coming together having been in a perilous situation, faced with death. A writer knows that introducing the risk of loss sharpens depends characters’ feelings towards each other, helps them realise those feelings; and,

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Five Christmas ice cream recipes

‘Ice cream? In December?’ I hear you cry. Surely that’s a summer-time treat? Well, not if you follow my easy and quick recipes and combine your favourite festive desserts with creamy ice cream. This is a great way to use up puddings that are going stale, or to serve up

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I wonder as I wander

Every writer has good days and bad days: times when the words just flow onto the page, as if by magic; and times when you seem to spend much of the day gazing out of the window, tidying your desk, looking up words in the dictionary – anything but write.

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‘We chase dreams and embrace shadows’: Anatole France

Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted the quote that runs along the bottom of this blog: ‘We chase dreams and embrace shadows.’ Anatole France’s quote echoes through my novel Burning Embers. ‘But who was Anatole France?’ you may well be wondering – he’s not a writer perhaps familiar to readers outside

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My latest blog posts

The Facebook Book Club

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is a game changer. So when he does something new, people sit up and take notice. How interesting, then, for we who are immersed in publishing, that his new initiative is in our camp: he just launched The Year of Books Community on Facebook to fulfil

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A new cover for Burning Embers

Have you noticed that my debut novel, Burning Embers, has a new cover? The design is to match The Echoes of Love, and I’m delighted with it because it pulls together so many elements of the book. First, the model. She’s just as I picture Coral, the heroine of the

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A sweet taste: The official partner of romance

You curl up with a good book, and sip a steaming mochaccino. You watch a romance movie with a friend, and share a bowl of popcorn. You have a romantic meal with a lover, and end with a melt-in-the-middle chocolate pudding. You unwrap your partner’s gifts from under the tree,

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Escape to Venice and Kenya this January

Are you feeling the January blues? Is winter chilling you? Well, for less than the price of a coffee you can escape to both Venice and Kenya this month with my novels The Echoes of Love and Burning Embers! The ebooks are available now on Amazon.

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Stepping into a story world

Did you see the recent news story about a real-life Hogwarts, the school at which the Harry Potter series is set? Czocha Castle in Poland was transformed into a ‘College of Wizardy’ modelled on the school in JK Rowling’s books. One hundred and ninety fans from around the world came

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Where the Rainbow Ends by Shirley Worrall

From the blurb: In 1873, Amelia Penrose and her twin brother James are abandoned as babies in a trunk outside a Liverpool orphanage.  Amelia grows up longing for security and, at eighteen years of ages, she marries American sailor, Miles Carter. They exchange England for Seattle, and are soon making

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Losing your first draft: Catastrophe or blessing?

Every writer, surely, has some experience of losing a price of writing. The computer crashes or the coffee spills on the notebook, and the words are gone for ever. It’s utterly devastating, because those lost words were so precious and loved (even if you intended to rewrite them), and because

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The most romantic Christmas song

A very happy Christmas to you! The radio station I listen to while pottering around at home waited until the 1 December this year before digging into its Christmas archives, but since then I have heard plenty of seasonal tunes. But only one makes me stop what I’m doing and

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GrosSouper: A Provencal Christmas Eve

I live for part of the year on the south coast of France, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. One of my favourite elements of life in France is the cuisine. In the morning I go to the town for fresh ingredients from the charcuterie and boulangerie and market, and then

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Big Brother is watching what you read

Although some staunch defenders of print books remain, many of us have accepted the ereader as an appreciated item in our technology collection. Personally, I still read a lot on paper, but I find the ereader useful for reading on the go. I have several hundred books in the archive,

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A Christmas Feast by Katie Fforde

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, of course, but a busy one, and if you’re an avid reader like me, you can end up feeling a little bereft come the New Year: what happened to the time to yourself you dreamt of when you would curl up and get

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The Great British post box, as beloved by Charles Dickens

I have finally finished writing my Christmas cards; each year it seems to take a little longer. I very much enjoy the whole process: selecting cards, handwriting messages, stuffing and addressing envelopes, attaching stamps. But the best part is walking to the village post box, a long-standing cherry-red pillar, and

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Lost love letters: the next 50 Shades?

What’s hot in publishing right now? A book called The Passion of Mademoiselle S. The rights to the book have been snapped up by major publishers in the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Holland and Brazil. Mademoiselle Simone, author and protagonist of the non-fiction work,must be delighted,

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Writing for your target reader: yourself

Here is a golden rule of writing: Always write with the reader in mind. It means you should know exactly who your target reader is, and write for them. Rebecca Woodhead made a superb case for this in her article ‘Social Studies’ in the January edition of Writing Magazine (I’ve 

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The thinking behind book titles

The cover of a book must be beautiful, the blurb must be compelling, the first page must pull the reader in and make him or her want more – but above all, the title must be perfect. In no more than a few words the author must: Showcase his or

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My latest blog posts

After the ‘happy-ever-after’? Why sequels aren’t my style

To date, I have published six novels: three standalones and a trilogy. The trilogy follows three generations of families, but essentially each novel can stand alone as one, cohesive love story. Increasingly, I’m finding that readers me ask whether I’ll write a sequel to a novel they’ve enjoyed. ‘Why oh

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Prometheus: the Titan who endured

I have always been interested in mythology. The Greek myths, which inspired my new book Aphrodite’s Tears, were written thousands of years ago by wise men who helped to shape our modern thinking, and many of those stories have withstood the test of time and are relevant today. I am

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The Ancient Greek myths of Delos

A maze of dry, meandering paths led them across the island. On either side crumbling stone temples, toppled columns and the remains of statues told a story of the once-great sacred island. Damian and Oriel were greeted by something new at every bend. Whether it was a view of the

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Facing the sunshine: why I write romance, not crime

A story reported widely in the British press last week caught my eye: ‘Crime pays,’ read the headline in the Telegraph; ‘thrillers and detective novels now outsell all other fiction.’ According to data by Nielsen BookScan shared at the London Book Fair, sales of crime and thriller novels in the

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Taking inspiration from the Labyrinth of Greek mythology

‘Tell me about this house. It seems enormous, a real labyrinth…’ So says Oriel, the heroine of my new novel Aphrodite’s Tears, with regard to the big house on the island of Helios where her new boss lives. Nods to Greek mythology are interwoven throughout Aphrodite’s Tears, and of course

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A heroine with the passion (and fate?) of Antigone

For my latest novel, Aphrodite’s Tears, I took inspiration from the classic stories of Greek mythology. I grew up with these stories, told to me by my governess and my parents, and one of my oldest and most treasured possessions is a children’s compendium of myths based on the epic

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The enduring wisdom of Jane Eyre

Recently, the editors at Bookish.com published an article compiling favourite romance novel heroines as chosen by romance authors (http://www.bookish.com/articles/favorite-romance-heroines/). The heroines in the list were from modern-era novels, with one notable exception: Elizabeth Bennet of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. When I consider my favourite characters in romance, I invariably find

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Falling in love: A choice to fly perilously close to the sun?

In my new novel, Aphrodite’s Tears, the heroine Oriel is struggling to maintain a professional distance from her new employer, Damian, with whom, years ago, she shared a single night of passion: ‘Rules were made to be broken.’ Damian smiled with his lips but his eyes, so astoundingly silver, had

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