Getting Down and Dirty

In a week’s time I’m off to Vindolanda again. This will be my fourth year of digging there as part of their volunteer programme. And this is their final year of a five-year project called ‘Frontiers in Transition’.

It is two weeks of hard work, but the atmosphere and the enthusiasm of everyone there is what makes me keep going back. Other people have pictures of children or pets as screen wallpaper on their computer/tablet/phone. I have a photo I took of the Vindolanda site and surrounding countryside. Just can’t wait to see the real thing again!

vindolanda_2016

I’ve blogged about two of my previous digs and how I was inspired to go initially in the interests of research for my debut novel, Starting Over. (May 2015 / September 2016)

I learned a lot of things on my first visit, not all of which made it into the story. The detailed planning was one aspect that really impressed me. Each year the archaeologists on site have a plan specifying which areas can be uncovered. I thought that as the Vindolanda Trust owns the land they would be able to dig anywhere, but they have to apply each year to the SMC (Scheduled Monuments Consent) to outline which areas they want to explore and the related research objectives. This was evident on my second year when we were told to stop when we reached a certain point in one of the trenches. When we asked why we couldn’t keep digging there, we were told it wasn’t in that year’s plan to extend beyond that section.

(News from the first 4 weeks of digging this season.)


Book news

Aside from the digging, maybe I will have the energy to write while I’m away. I’ve started work on a Christmas story and have another novel at the 40,000-word stage.

And on June 1st, Affinity Rainbow Publications will be releasing my new novel, Running From Love. Look out for some excerpts on Facebook in the next few weeks.

This week I was thrilled to see a new review of The Circle Dance, published by Lynn Lawler. She has taken the time to analyse each of the six main characters, which I found fascinating (and informative).


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Buying options for ebooks:

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US


 

Number 6 is on its way!

My next novel is due for release on 1st June. It’s hard for me to get my head around the fact that when this book comes out, I will have six published books to my name in the space of a little under three years. I’m not sure I can keep up this pace but the thing is, writing is an addiction. If I’m not working on a novel nowadays, I miss it.

So, I guess I’ll keep writing and see what happens.

This is the cover for the new book, Running From Love. There is a golfing theme, but I hope this won’t put non-golfers off reading it. As the title and the cover suggest, there’s a fair bit of romance as well.

run_final

Back of the Book description:

Sam Wade returns home from a business trip to discover her wife of just two years has left her for another woman. Beth, a high school teacher, wants a divorce so she can settle down with her new (closeted) love, head teacher Lydia Carmichael.

To take her mind off the break-up Sam accepts an assignment to learn to play golf at the newly opened Temperley Cliffs golf resort in Cornwall. Beth and Lydia also plan their first summer holiday together.

Coming out, at whatever stage in one’s life, is never easy. Several characters in the story have to make decisions that will affect not just their respective partners but also how the wider world sees them. There is more than one way to run from love; from never having to make a commitment and say those magical three words, “I love you”.

Find out what happens when this diverse group of people find themselves together—and sport, betrayal, jealousy, and love form an unforgettable fusion of emotions.

As I mention in the Acknowledgments for this book, the initial assessment of Affinity’s beta readers was that there was too much golf, not enough romance. Hopefully I’ve got the balance right now so that whether or not you’ve ever picked up a golf club, you’ll enjoy the story.


On another note, the Affinity logo has had a makeover…the kiwi walked through a rainbow and is now sporting an outline of many colours. So you’ll be seeing the proud kiwi preening itself on forthcoming novels from Affinity Rainbow Publications.

affinityrainbow


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Buying options for ebooks:

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US


 

7 Year Cycles of Life

I was thinking about this the other day, having read once upon a time about how our minds and bodies change every seven years.

tbt_in_tree

Some of us reach the age of maturity later in life

As I’m now at the start of the tenth seven-year cycle, I decided to look it up to see what’s in store. Rather depressingly, it ends here. According to the Rudolf Steiner model, the ages 56-63 represent the final stage.

Another spiritually-based website put a more positive spin on this, calling it the Decision Cycle – at least in the first sentence, the second is a bit of a downer. “People, by this time, have a feeling about doing what they are here to do on planet earth, or not. If they do not become involved in their life purpose, they consciously, or unconsciously, begin the process of leaving the physical world and returning to the world of spirit.”

This tenth cycle doesn’t have a name but this is what the aforementioned website said about it: “In following through with decisions they make for what they feel is important, people can do their greatest work in these years.”

Another website claimed that “at 56 there is very often a tendency to let go of everything that has been, and to take on a whole new life style”. For me this happened when I turned 60 and retired from the day job. Since then I’ve been writing novels and enjoying my forays into the world of lesbian fiction.

So, rather than thinking of this cycle as an ending, I’m looking forward to forging more beginnings. Instead of winding down, this can be a time of revving up.

In writing this I was reminded of the old Beatles song, “When I’m Sixty-Four”… and the lyrics which we laughed at when we were in our teens (the Identity Cycle)…when reaching the age of 64 wasn’t something we thought was going to happen to us. Mind you, the young songwriters, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, had a pretty limited view of what they would be doing at that age…mending fuses, knitting sweaters (their wives, obviously), gardening, going for Sunday rides in the car.

Personally, I’m hoping for a bit more fun when I turn 64.

maturity

Maturing nicely (and that’s just the wine!)


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Buying options for ebooks:

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US


The Vera Effect

There comes a point in the books I’ve written so far, which I’ve named “the Vera effect” after the detective in the TV series set in Northumberland.

vera

DCI Vera Stanhope (photo credit)

In most episodes, Vera and her sergeant will have spent three quarters of the allotted two hours talking to various people and trying to make connections that will lead them to the killer. Eventually she tells her team to gather round in their very nicely appointed squad room. They sit on the couch and stare at the crime board they’ve built up during the case and Vera will say: “What are we missing here?”

crimeboard

Crime board (photo credit)

Very often it is a minor detail that they missed early on. One of the detectives will make a comment that seems insignificant or off the wall, and it switches on the light bulb. Vera and her sidekick (it was Joe, now it’s Aiden) charge off to apprehend the right person, finally—usually in the last five minutes.

So, I find this relates to my writing. I’ve set up the situation, the characters and their backgrounds and have gotten a fair way along in the story when it hits me. What am I missing here?

It’s time then to step back and look at the whole picture. This means re-reading what I’ve written so far, checking through any notes I’ve made. And then something will stand out. When I was almost at the finish line with my first novel, Starting Over, I made a discovery that led to writing a sequel, and then a third book to complete the trilogy.

I could keep you all guessing and when there was only the one book this would have been a spoiler. But as anyone can now read the back of the book blurbs and look at the cover of book three, the revelation is out there. (But if you really don’t want to know, stop reading now!)

When two complete skeletons are discovered on Starling Hill Farm in Starting Over along with a lot of quality bling, I decided that my archaeologist, Dr Kathryn Moss, had made the discovery that would be the envy of anyone involved in searching for British antiquities. One of these set of bones had to belong to Cartimandua, leader of the Brigantes tribe at the time when the Romans came back for a second go at adding Britain to its empire. (Her final resting place hasn’t been discovered, so I was able to take some historical liberties here.)

Not a lot has been written about Cartimandua. However, Roman historians, writing a century or so later, clearly had a way of keeping their readers interested. One of the things they do say about the queen of the Brigantes wouldn’t be out of place in a modern soap opera. She, apparently, had an affair with her husband’s armour bearer, Vellocatus. So, it seemed to me, that when she disappears from historical record, she could have gone somewhere with her lover. And then came the light bulb moment. Why couldn’t Vellocatus be a woman?

I’m sure it would have been very difficult to pass as a man in the first century, particularly amongst Britons who had adopted Roman habits, such as communal bathing and bathrooms. However, I’m writing romantic fiction, so I didn’t feel it was necessary to worry about such details.

So, if you like the idea of a lesbian tribal leader in the 1st Century, take a trip into the hills above Huddersfield, West Yorkshire…and read all about it in The Starling Hill Trilogy.


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Buying options for ebooks:

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US


 

Bicycle thoughts

It’s the anniversary of the release of my fourth novel on 14 March—The Circle Dance. So I started thinking about my relationship with bicycles.

The first bike I owned as an adult was a 3-speed Raleigh. After a few years I graduated to a 10-speed Apollo. This was at the time I had a part time job working in a bike shop. It was piecework; I got paid for each bike I assembled. I fell in love with the Apollo and it travelled with me when I left British Columbia for Ontario and then on to the UK. Cycling in London was an adventure and I feel fortunate not to have come to grief on more than one occasion. I don’t think I could do it now.

tbt_ten_speed

A much younger me on the beloved Apollo

When I moved north, I thought I would enjoy riding along the canal towpaths, a tranquil alternative to the roads. This didn’t last long as the narrow tires on the Apollo weren’t well suited for the rougher terrain. So I traded it in for a mountain bike. My canal riding days didn’t last as I soon became involved in playing golf in my spare time. And in the last six years I’ve added archery to my outdoor activities. And, I guess, I just wasn’t in love with the mountain bike.

canalsep

Canal path near Hebden Bridge

Sometimes I think I shouldn’t have given up my bike-riding days. It’s very much the in sport around here. The coffee shops in Hebden Bridge are filled with cyclists on a Sunday morning, taking a break from their fifty-mile journeys—a little exercise for the day. The town is a good place to stop before tackling either the long climb up onto the moor above, or going the other way, taking on the Cragg Vale challenge—which holds the title of the longest continual ascent in England, climbing 968 feet in five and a half miles. Whenever I pass cyclists in the car, powering their way up, I admire their determination and tenacity. But I know it’s not something I want to attempt.

For the leisure cyclist, electric bikes are gaining popularity—so you don’t even have to exert yourself to get up the steep hills.

The Circle Dance

Jamie, a main character in The Circle Dance is a cyclist and I think the story possibly evolved from seeing the legions of lycra-clad enthusiasts pedalling through our village.

This is a scene from Chapter Two – when Jamie arrives home, having cycled the fourteen miles from where she works. She thought she was meeting Van at the local wine bar for their first date, but Van surprises her by appearing on her doorstep. This scene is from Van’s point of view.

Van followed, enjoying the view of Jamie’s well-toned lycra clad legs and butt as they climbed. Not many people could successfully carry off the lycra-look, but this woman rocked it. Out of breath by the time they reached the top, she promised herself she would start an exercise regime soon.

Once inside the room Jamie set her bike against one wall and unclipped the water bottle. She drank the remaining liquid and put the empty bottle on the floor.

“I’ll hit the shower. There’s a bottle opener on the bookcase.”

The bookcase was something Van hadn’t seen since her student days; two long roughhewn planks supported by bricks. She found the opener and popped the cap on both bottles. Looking around for a table, she was shocked to realise there wasn’t one. An upturned plastic crate and a legless armchair by the windows at the far end of the long room were the only other bits of furniture. Jamie had disappeared behind a screen, which she guessed was where there might be a bed, possibly just a mattress if the rest of the minimal decor was anything to go by.

She took a swig of beer and crouched down to look at the books. Some computer manuals she recognised and a meagre selection of paperbacks that looked like they’d come from charity shops. She picked one up that she thought she’d read before.

The chair, once she’d lowered herself into it, was surprisingly comfortable. She balanced the beer bottle on the crate and opened the book. It was one she’d read some time ago. One of Felicity Lemon’s early crime novels. She recalled that the clever twist at the end had left her feeling cheated. It was upsetting when the perpetrator turned out to be either a cop involved in the investigation or a character that only showed up in the last thirty pages.

Jamie appeared again looking stunning in a pair of loose fitting jeans and red polo shirt. She picked up the other bottle of beer and joined Van by the window.

Van put the book down, sensing the other woman’s discomfort. “Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have barged in on you like this.”

“It’s fine.” Jamie ran her fingers through her still damp hair. An endearing habit Van thought she would never tire of seeing.

Jamie drank some of the beer, tipping her head back, giving Van a view of her strong neck muscles. She sipped at her own beer to distract herself from the hormonal urges that were building.

“You still okay with going to the wine bar? The only beer they have is bottled.”

“Hey, your territory, your choice. I’m easy.” No doubt about that.

“Right, well I like the food there and it’ll be quiet at this time.” She finished her beer and gave Van that smile; the one that melted her already softened insides. “Good to go.”

Van struggled up from the chair, vowing once again that she would renew her gym membership.

If you would like to listen to me reading an excerpt, not very expertly, this is available here: Reading from Chapter One of The Circle Dance. This is the scene where Van and Jamie first meet at a friends’ house.


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Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Buying options for ebooks:

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes



Life stories

I don’t read biographies generally, preferring fiction to non-fiction. However, I’ve just finished a biography that was every bit as fascinating as any romance. I read it as avidly as I would a gripping novel.

b_grier

I knew the name as I have read a good number of books published by Naiad Press in the past. However, this book provides a valuable history lesson as well as an insight into the life of a fascinating woman. Her dedication to promoting lesbian written work was formidable. And at a time when coming out was dangerous.

The biographer, Joanne Passet, has a lot of material to draw from, as her subject was a consummate letter writer and, fortunately, an assiduous archivist.

It makes me wonder what biographies in the future will look like…a trawl through Facebook memes and tweets, perhaps.

Reading this book I realised I had also read Jane Rule’s autobiography, so it was interesting to meet her again through her friendship with Barbara Grier.

j_rule

I have read two biographies of Virginia Woolf – one written by Quentin Bell and another by Hermione Lee, as well as the letters between Virginia and Vita Sackville-West.

v_woolf

With other writers, like Ursula K LeGuin and Doris Lessing, I have read some of their collections of essays and talks.

dancing_ukl

d_lessing

All amazing people and a reminder that women’s stories need to be told, their voices need to be heard. As the recent film, “Hidden Figures”, demonstrates…too many times female achievements are pushed into the background or claimed by male counterparts. It happened in the past and is still happening today.

Anyway, if you are interested in a history of lesbian publishing as portrayed in Indomitable, I can recommend it. (And it’s worth the price of the book for the inclusion of a photo with a youthful Lee Lynch!)


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Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Buying options for ebooks:

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes


 

The name game

I’ve now written seven novels—five published, one due for release in June, one submitted, fate unknown. And I’ve started on number eight.

As I was thinking of character names for the new story, it occurred to me that in the interest of not repeating myself, I needed a list of previously used names in each book and short story.

So I created a table in a document and slotted in names. There are a lot. And it’s not just people; there are cats, dogs, and horses too. Combining all the characters and pets in The Starling Hill Trilogy, I came up with 37. And I may have missed a few of the minor characters.

trilogy_names

The start of the lists

Of the standalone romances, I thought Christmas at Winterbourne would be the winner with 26, but the June book with 35 has topped it. No need for alarm though, readers. There are only six main characters, the rest are the supporting cast, some of whom are only mentioned in passing. But in the interests of being thorough, I’ve attempted to put all named characters on the lists.

fish

The book coming out in June features fish – they don’t have names!

I have had to resort to searching baby name websites at times. But names mostly come to me as I start to write and I get a feel for if the name fits the characters.

This list of the Top 10 American Girls’ names in 1967 was useful and I noted that I’ve used six so far.

Lisa / Kimberly / Michelle / Mary / Susan / Karen / Angela / Tammy / Melissa / Jennifer

This list reminded me—I also named the ten hens and two roosters in Starting Over, which brings that book’s total to well past Christmas at Winterbourne and level with the June release. The residents of the chicken coop at the farm were all named after Roman goddesses and gods: Juno, Ceres, Aurora, Venus, Flora, Fortuna, Diana, Bellona, Minerva, Luna, Apollo and Jupiter.

I’ve mentioned before that I use Scrivener as a writing tool. With having multiple points of view in my novels, it’s very good for helping me keep track of character movements as their interweaving stories develop. By naming each scene, I can easily find out where I left a particular character in a previous chapter.

winterbourne-scenes-scriv

From Christmas at Winterbourne

Listing the names started out as an exercise to avoid repetition. But it has also served to give me an overview of the number of characters in each book. I was rather overwhelmed to see just how many there were – and, giving you fair warning, there’s more to come!


Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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Buying options for ebooks:

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

 

My Latest Squeeze

No, I’m not being unfaithful to my wife. Let me introduce “Squeezy”.

squeeze

Meet Squeezy

My physio recommended I squeeze something regularly to counteract the repetitive strain I experience in my right arm caused by too much mouse action when I’m writing.

I could, I suppose, have found a nerf ball, or similar. But when I saw this creature in the toy section of the supermarket, I thought it was ideal. Its presence on my desk is a daily reminder to squeeze. (I’m not at all familiar with the game, but the label on it informed me that this is the baby ocelet from Minecraft.)

Valentine’s Day is imminent but it’s not an occasion we make too much of. This summer we will be celebrating our thirtieth year together. This is the anniversary we commemorate…not the date of our Civil Partnership in 2006 or the day we converted the CP to marriage in 2014. The day we moved in together thirty years ago is the special one.

It was a risk for both of us. None of my previous relationships had lasted very long, whereas she had been with the same woman for many years. But we took the chance and here we are, thirty years later.

firehouse

Celebratory dinner – a few weeks early

I know it looks like we’re sitting in a tiled bathroom, but this is actually one of London’s trendy eating places – the Chiltern Firehouse. A fantastic meal – and we had a great view of the chefs at work.

kitchen


Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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Buying options for ebooks:

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes


 

British wording and other things

The team at Affinity eBooks, beta readers and editors, try very hard to weed out any obscure British-isms in my books. They are mostly successful. I get the manuscripts back during the editing process with polite comments in the margin: “Perhaps you could find another way to say this”.

I thought they did a very thorough job with my fourth published novel, The Circle Dance, but then I received an email from my American friends saying there were two phrases they didn’t understand.

The first one is, I think, a particularly Yorkshire phrase (although if anyone can put me right on the origin, I would be grateful). Taylor, the teenage girl in the story is complaining about her brother saying “and then he goes and dobs me in.”

I thought it was fairly obvious from the context that her brother had snitched on her, telling tales. But clearly this was not a phrase these readers had come across.

The second one they picked up on was from the scene were Phoebe is lost on the moor and bemoaning her lack of outdoor skills. She reflects on the fact she didn’t last more than two sessions in the Brownies “without wanting to nut Brown Owl”.

This was a bit of personal history creeping in. I quit the Brownies after two sessions, as I didn’t want to spend precious Saturday mornings sitting around a plastic fire in a draughty village hall pretending to be a kelpie. For a start, I had no idea what a kelpie was. It just sounded a bit lame, even to a seven year old who liked reading fairy stories. If I’d been told they were mythical water horses, I might have been persuaded to stay.

kelpies_sunny_day

The Falkirk Kelpies (photo courtesy of photo everywhere)

A few weeks after I left the Brownies, I wandered out of the woods near our house armed with my homemade bow and arrows and was dismayed to see the Brownie troop marching down the road towards me. They were on a nature hike. Brown Owl stopped to ask if I would like to join them. I’m sure she was a lovely, caring woman. I just shook my head and disappeared back into the woods to carry on playing my favourite game, emulating my hero, Robin Hood.

Happy days

Happy days!

Anyway, back to the ‘nut’ expression: to nut is equivalent to a head-butt. At the age of seven, I wouldn’t have been tall enough to ‘nut’ Brown Owl unless she was kneeling down. And I don’t think it would have occurred to me to try it. My character, Phoebe, has a more aggressive personality.

A head-butt is also known in the UK as a “Glasgow kiss”. This would be my wife’s preferred method of attack. She’s from Glasgow originally and I think it’s ingrained in Scots from birth.

I did Taekwondo for a number of years and loved doing the patterns but never could quite master the aggression needed to win a fight. I took part in one and came second. My wife, however, would have no problem. When I stopped doing Taekwondo, I tried Tai Chi. After I’d attended a few sessions, my wife said she’d like to come along to see if she would like it. I had told it was good exercise as well as being a martial art.

Because she was a newcomer to the class, the instructor took her to one side to show her the basic moves while the rest of us carried on with performing the pattern we were learning. He told her to grab him by the throat so he could demonstrate how to escape. She grabbed him and he had no chance. She wasn’t letting go.

After the session, she decided Tai Chi wasn’t for her. I’m sure the instructor was relieved.

taekjen1

Clearly, a posed photo – but I think it looks like I mean it!

If anyone has come across other British-isms that may need interpretation, please let me know.


In other news – I’m pleased to say that the paperback version of Christmas at Winterbourne is available on Amazon. Links: Amazon UK / Amazon US


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Buying options for ebooks:

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes


 

The Library

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The British Library’s courtyard with the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel rising up on the far side

This past weekend we escaped into another world, ensconced in the British Library. On previous visits to London, I’ve passed the building many times but this was my first time going inside.

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Sir Isaac Newton

First though, we walked through the courtyard with the impressive statue of Sir Isaac Newton, created by Paolozzi from a sketch made by William Blake. Overwhelmed by history already and not even past the entry.

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British Library entrance

 

The view of the King’s Library tower rising up through six floors in the middle of the building is another magnificent sight. George III, mainly renowned for going mad, was a keen collector of books (so, maybe not so mad – if ebooks hadn’t been invented, I would need a book tower like this!).

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In front of the King’s Library

My wife and I were taking part in a course on Classic Crime fiction. While it covered authors we’re familiar with, such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers…there were many more we hadn’t heard of. So we now have lists of numerous books to be explored.

 

As part of the course, we were able to view some first editions including one of the original ‘puzzle’ books. These were popular for a time. The reader wouldn’t know the answer of the ‘whodunnit’ until they completed the accompanying jigsaw puzzle.

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Although I enjoy reading crime fiction, mainly of the cosy variety—not too gory—it’s not something I feel I could write. I’ll stick to romance for now.

Part of the romance of the trip was travelling on the Grand Central train from Halifax to King’s Cross and back.

train

grand

All in all, a spectacularly enjoyable few days…talking about books, soaking in the atmosphere of a great British institution, and discovering a deep reservoir of classic books to read.


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Buying options for my books:

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes