Reading & Writing With Our Hearts

I’ve just finished reading Helen Dumore’s Exposure. She is among my favourite writers. I love her clear, deceptively simple prose – this was no exception. It lingers still, a poignant grown up Railway Children. Here is Dunmore on reading with our hearts

Firewords Competition with Bloomsbury and Writers and Artists –

The challenge is to write a short story (under 1000 words) that’s inspired by an  illustration by Maggie Clancy.

The deadline for entries is 31st October and the prizes include publication in Firewords ‘Escape’ themed Issue 8, back issue bundles, and copies of the brand new 2017 Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. It’s a completely free competition, so head over to the Writers & Artists website for more details and how to enter.

To read an extract from my book on Writing – From Writing With Love – (99p on Kindle) about how I learned to write from the heart

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A Love Affair with France

Francophile that I am, I’m delighted to welcome author of Paris Mon Amour and host of, On The Literary Sofa, Isabel Costello to the blog.

Here’s Isabel  talking about her lifelong love affair with with France, followed by my review of her debut novel Paris Mon Amour ~ isabel-costello-headshot

Since the publication of my debut novel Paris Mon Amour, I am often asked about my love of France and the French language.  It’s a long story that began years before I was born, and it has many chapters.

In 1950, my mother was a 16-year-old schoolgirl, the eldest of six (later seven) children from a working class family. To encourage her gift for languages, the nuns at her convent school used their connections to arrange for her to stay with a family in France who had a daughter of the same age. That girl became my mum’s friend for life, and in due course, my godmother – I am named after her.  Isabelle’s two daughters are my oldest friends and the bond between our families – now spanning three generations – set the course of my mother’s future and mine.

In many ways, I am something of a hybrid.  My upbringing held no social or financial advantages but it provided me with something far more precious: education and opportunities which extended my horizons.  My mum became a French teacher after studying at Bristol and the Sorbonne and as my dad was a self-employed lorry driver we were able to take off to France every summer. Continue reading

Sometimes A River Song, Now Available

Great News! Happy Days! Sometimes A River Song, is NOW available in paperback from Linen Press HERE

On Amazon Kindle HERE


‘… one of the most moving books I’ve read in a long time.  The narrative itself is song-like in the way the prose moves.  It reminded me initially of Eimear McBride’s ‘A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing’, mainly because the narrative voice of the girl is so distinctive and haunting…definitely her best.’ Kathleen Jones (Read more here)


We Are Called To Rise – Laura McBride

We Are Called to Rise is one of those books that demand to be read all in one go. Once I started there was no stopping. I barely came up for air. It was compelling and engaging from the very first page – I guess it helped that Avis, a woman of a certain age, rooting in her sexy underwear draw, comes up with a gun.

18271235But this novel is about much more than Avis, her underwear or guns. It is about three lives, three families colliding, bound together by a mistake made in a just a split second. It is about the fate of a clever, sensitive child.

So why did I love We Are Called to Rise, so much? Here are some of the reasons:
It’s rooted in place, in Las Vegas, the author’s home town, the town it would be impossible for me to know from any tourist guide or holiday visit. Mc Bride shows us what this desert place is really like for the people who grow up there, who live there. We feel the heat and the dust.

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8 Ways to Meet the Blank Page

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAEach time I think of writing a new story it feels to me like I’m beginning all over again. I’m not of course, I’ve learned a lot through writing a lot, but I still get that feeling that maybe I have nothing more to say, that I won’t have an idea or I won’t find another story to tell. Some writers call this writers’ block or fear of the blank page. I’m not sure it’s either. I think it’s more like the between books phase that Danni Shapiro describes here in Still Writing

‘When I’m between books, I feel as if I will never have another story to tell. The last book has wiped me out, has taken everything from me, everything I understand and feel and know and remember, and…that’s it. There’s nothing left. A low level depression sets in. The world hides its gifts from me…’

Shapiro goes on to say that she now recognises this feeling as that of, ‘the well being empty.’ We are depleted, everything is spent and so we must re-group and wait. All we can do is show up to the notebook and the page and wait for the toe-hold; the way into something new. In the meantime we need to find ways of filling our well. Here are 8 ideas that just might help:

  1. Go on a Julia Cameron style ‘Artist’s Date,’ – romance yourself, spend the day somewhere inspiring, visit galleries, exhibitions, go listen to music, take a day trip out, haunt cafes, gardens – go with your notebook and just enjoy and observe.

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