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Monday, 17 November 2014

Cats, Christmas - and a bull that got my goat!

Children's author David J Garnett called into my book signing this weekend  at Greenlands FarmVillage, Carnforth, Lancashire  where the annual Christmas Craft and Food Fair turned out to be the busiest on record!

As well as meeting some lovely readers we managed to raise almost £30 for Children in Need, thanks to some very generous customers.

The mild November weather made it easy for young and old to mingle with a host of animals - cows, bulls, goats, sheep, donkeys and a very friendly turkey which seemed intent on making friends with everybody.

Meanwhile author David, who lives in Bolton-le-Sands on the edge of the Lake District, explained that he was inspired to write The Glutton Cat - the story of a very greedy moggy- by his friend's cat Mindy, who, has a reputation for eating too much!

An adventure story for children, the 56-page illustrated paperback is available for £5.99 from  David, who works full time for Network Rail in Carnforth as an electrical engineering technician, has just finished the sequel  aptly entitled The Further Adventures of Glutton Cat - the Legend of Hector. 

And now for some more photos of the animals at Greenlands Farm.

Lunch anyone?

Taken for a ride? 

My thanks go to The Bookworms, the Lancaster-based reading group who hosted the
book signing.


Friday, 14 November 2014

Hard to bear? Twenty-four-hour interview stint breaks world record!

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John hears the news that he's broken the world record!

I helped to break a world record today - along with almost three hundred volunteers. The star of the show was BBC Radio Lancashire's popular presenter John Gillmore who worked  round the clock interviewing every single one of us to raise money for Children in Need.

Known affectionately as 'Gilly', John held 293 live interviews  over twenty-four hours in the Blackburn-based studio - beating the previous record-holder's  (an Italian broadcaster) total of 256.

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I do my bit

And what a day it was! The studio was buzzing with a carnival atmosphere that belied the serious intention behind the task. We all wore Paddington-bear type tags so that we could be easily identified and played a game of musical chairs as we gradually moved up the queue to take our place in the studio.

Just ahead of me was Dr Nick Lister, of the Lawrence House Academy and Space Centre, Fleetwood, the UK.s only school of astronomy.  He was very excited about robotic space probe Rosetta's successful comet landing  after 10 years work by the European Space Agency. As I watched  his live interview I felt like I was witnessing a piece of history taking place.

People came from everywhere to discuss their charity work, their businesses, their successes, their plans and their achievements.

Along with  a very lifelike Pudsey Bear,  several animals even made it into the studio  to have their moment of glory.

And then there was me, of course, talking about Baggy Pants and Bootees.  All very humbling, really.
I'll be doing a book signing at Greenlands Farm Village Christmas Fair in Tewitfield, Carnforth this weekend  (Saturday November  15 - Sunday November 16) from 10am-5pm. This is kindly being hosted by Carnforth-based reading group The Bookworms and £1 from every copy sold will go to Children in Need.

Watch this space for the final total raised by Radio Lancashire's Gillathon . And spare a thought for the  unstoppable John Gillmore.  I hope he's having a well-deserved rest...

 Greenlands Farm Village Christmas Craft and Food Fair

Monday, 10 November 2014


This is my grandfather, James Richard Brown,  who fought with the 2nd Royal Guernsey Light Infantry and the Royal Irish Fusiliers in World War One. He was invalided out of the army on May 6, 1919 after losing a lung. Today I am thinking of all the other brave soldiers who never had the chance to be
 fathers and grandfathers.
  Gold Bless them all.


Monday, 3 November 2014


A new website, a new novel, plus a sequel to Baggy Pants and Bootees. There - I've made my New Year's resolutions early and nothing can stop me  from reaching my goal.

The problem with November is that it's easy to get distracted from completing the work-in-progress. Should I blog about Guy Fawkes Inn that I discovered on my last trip to York?

Guy Fawkes Inn


Should I increase my marketing to gain maximum exposure for the festive season ?


 Should I join the group that will make me lose a dress size before the festive season. (I'm always losing things, but a weight isn't one of them.)

Find your name here

I wonder if that magazine editor still wants my piece about how I got published?


Did I  say I'd give a talk to that lovely writers' group before Christmas?


I love the new hardback from my favourite author, but I'm still only halfway through it...


I need more 'likes' for my facebook author page.  Not to mention followers on twitter.... It can pay to be cheeky              

Is the word disorganised in the dictionary? I can never find it....

Now where was I? Oh yes, my plans for next year. I've written them down at the beginning of this blog.  All I have to do is follow them. Wish me luck!


Thursday, 30 October 2014


Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one said,
"Oh my, it's getting late."
The second one said,
"But we don't care."
The third one said,
"I see witches in the air."
The fourth one said,
"Let's run, and run, and run."
The fifth one said,
"Get ready for some fun."
Then whoosh went the wind,
And out went the lights,
And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!

Who put me on the hob?
I did!


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Shhh - did someone close the library?


Shhh - don't tell anyone.... I've just written a short story to celebrate my granddaughter's fifth birthday next week.

We were doing role play at the top of the stairs the other day  in a specially constructed den  made of cushions, towels and various pieces of furniture from her bedroom. As we stacked up a pile of her favourite books, the talk soon turned to libraries.

What is a lady who works in the library called?' I asked.

'A librarian,' she replied, after a little prompting.

And what does the librarian say when you go in the library?

' Shh...' came the reply.

Shh?' I said. 'What does that mean?'

'It means please keep quiet, Grandma. You have to keep quiet in libraries.'

And so the idea for the 'birthday present' was born. But that's, well, another story...

Meanwhile, I'm  thrilled that  a trip to the library still means as much to my granddaughter as it did to me when I was a young child. Every week my two sisters and I would visit our local library where I first discovered  one of my all-time favourite books 'A Peep Behind the Scenes' a 'turn-of-the-century' story by Mrs O.F. Walton.

 Isn't it  worrying, then, that libraries in the UK are closing every week as local authorities are forced to make 'necessary' cuts.  Free access to books should surely be something for us to pass on to a future generation.  Have you checked on the future of your library lately? If not,  take a look at

Meanwhile,  I would tell you more about my new short story but I can't because..... Shh - I promised not to say a word.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Desire at Downton Abbey...

Writer, actor,  and member of the House of Lords Julian Fellowes might not describe himself as a romantic novelist - but the new series of Downton Abbey proves otherwise.

This week's episode had all the right ingredients, not least a smiling (for a change) Lady Mary, played by Michelle Dockery ( pictured above on her way to a secret liaison.)

But romance is not romance without those who disapprove. And who better than veteran actress Maggie Smith delivering her lines with the precision of a very sharp knife? 'In my day,' she pronounced on the return of her wayward granddaughter, 'a lady was incapable of feeling physical attraction until instructed to by her mama...'

We know it's all ridiculous but we love to believe it and that's what makes it so compelling.
While Lady Mary  was presumed to have been at a 'conference on land management' in Liverpool she revealed, with a perfectly straight face, that she had 'learnt a great deal I did not know before.'
The tongue-in-cheek lines never fail to hit the spot and the tv audience clearly love it...
Romantic novelist? I wonder what they would think of Sir Julian at Mills and Boon?

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Surprise behind The Sunrise

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Alison and Pat from Plackitt & Booth, Lytham, with Victoria Hislop (centre)
Photo courtesy of Headline

Renown author Victoria Hislop, who  has sold millions of books all over the world, admits she never wanted  to be a novelist. 'I didn't have a creative gene in my body,' she told a lively audience at Lowther Theatre, Lytham, this week.

Victoria was in Lancashire to celebrate the launch of her latest novel, The Sunrise, released on September 26 and already a best seller.

 Set in Famagusta, Cypress, in the early 1970s, the book follows two families whose lives are changed forever when the Turks stage a coup forcing the locals to flee for their lives.  Based on recent history, The Sunrise charts the decline of the once prosperous town into a ghostly half-ruin. Even today, no-one is allowed into Famagusta, which is fenced off with barbed wire and guarded by Turkish soldiers.  Eerily, some of the homes remain much as they were  forty years ago, 'still with books on the shelves.'

The writer first fell in love with Greece when she visited Athens in 1976 and now sees it as her second home. She is well known on the islands for the  film of her debut novel, The Island, and can speak Greek fluently - albeit with a French accent! So taken is she with the culture that she admits she'll never write a novel set in England. 'I don't think I can write about English people,' she said with a definite twinkle in her eye.

Are her characters based on real people? 'No character is based on one individual.' she explained, 'but they do reflect the various personalities of the Greeks.'

Victoria read English at university and became a travel journalist, before realising that it would be 'much more fun' to make up her own stories.  Every day she writes in the library near her home to avoid getting  distracted by the minutiae  of daily life  - and that includes eating, or having a cup of coffee. Which perhaps explains why she is very slim!

Does she still have ambitions? 'I'd like to write like Ian McEwan,' she said, without hesitation.

Despite being married to journalist and presenter Ian Hislop, a popular panellist on BBC's Have I Got News for You,' Victoria appears unfazed by her huge success. After answering numerous questions from the floor, she thanked Plackitt and Booth, booksellers, of Lytham for hosting the event and for being a great example of the successful independent bookshop.

The Sunrise is published by Headline and available in hardback and paperback from all good booksellers.