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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

To tell you the truth...

When was the last time you were truthful with yourself ? In a world of social media where everyone seems keen to impress, I think we may have forgotten how to be really honest about our feelings.

Which is why two articles written by authors for authors  have made a big impact on me this week. The first  was written by the highly successful and enormously likeable novelist Freya North. In this  summer's edition of The Author magazine, the journal of the Society of Authors,  Freya talks candidly about facing her doubts and fears, something we all have in our lives but often prefer to dismiss.

With a dozen best-selling novels over a twenty-year career,  the contemporary fiction writer admits
'until  recently I had never known the feeling of not being able to write and so, when it struck, I was floored.'

  'I had the book whirring around in the ether, close enough that I could sense every scene, yet too far away for me to hear what the characters were saying. They were talking behind my back but every time I turned they were gone.'

Her mind, she admits was bursting, but the screen remained blank. It was months before  her latest novel, aptly named The Turning Point, was finally finished.

Freya's story of how she suffered from, and dealt with, writer's block, will no doubt bring comfort to anyone who believes it is not fashionable to admit to any kind of failing.

Meanwhile, it is six years  since Annie Barrows took on the authorship of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, when her aunt Mary Ann Schafer became ill. Sadly her aunt  died without witnessing the book's worldwide success (more than six million copies sold in 37 countries) but not without leaving a very important legacy.

Annie who was already well-known  in the States as a prolific writer of children's books, most notably the Ivy and Bean series,  says writing for adult readers was a very big learning curve.

Interviewed in this month's Writing Magazine, she  explains how the change affected her.

'As a children's book writer, you have to write so tight, you have to keep it spare, you have to know everything that's going to happen before you write a word, you have to have everything planned - so I lost my mind when I got to write for grown-ups.'  '

Her new book had so many drafts it resulted in a 57 inch high mountain of paper that took a very long time to edit.  'When I started with  The Truth According to Us....I was enjoying myself, as my editor said, far too much. I was playing with my characters......and I hadn't really got the story.

Set in America in the 1930s the book is described as an engrossing tale of small time secrets and family tragedy.

'This is a novel,' she says, about the stories families tell, not to outsiders but to themselves.' She goes on ' I don't really think there's any such thing as a fact. There's what people believe about themselves and their pasts and the stories they tell themselves and how they create a narrative out of their lives.

Which brings me back to my reason for writing this post.  Authors or not, we all have a story to tell. Without stories life would be very dull.

But instead of trying to impress the world,  should we try now and then to face our failings? It might make a whole lot of people sigh with relief after all.


Monday, 22 June 2015

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know

I came across a piece on actor Rupert Everett this week in an eighties copy of Cosmopolitan magazine (yes - I'm a hoarder!) The Most Promising Actor of 1982 and star of 'Another Country,' was interviewed by journalist and soon-to-be TV star Paula Yates. He told her;  'I want to be successful not just famous, and not just for lots of money. I want to be in position where I can choose what do, which parts I'll play.'
Interesting then, that Everett was quoted this week as saying people now think they have right to everything they want.

'People have forgotten how to communicate, he says. 'Even sex is conducted online. No one's looking outwards anymore. We've been trained over the last 30 years to be as selfish as possible. 

In the new X Factor world it's enough just to want it. The creative mantra is, 'I want this so much.' They want it so they have a right to have it.' 


I am sure Rupert Everett has worked very hard for his success and  deserves everything he has achieved, but isn't it amazing how the years can change our views?


The actor, who is now 56, is currently in the Italian coastal town of Taormina, which has been hosting the 61st Taormina Film Festival this week.


Read the full article here



Monday, 8 June 2015

Oh, to write like Einstein...

Einstein and his handwriting courtesy of The Times newspaper
I have always been envious of people with  handwriting that flows along the page  symmetrically and is easy to read. My own handwriting has been the butt of so many jokes over the years and  sometimes I do struggle to read it myself. So I'm delighted to hear of  new software that mimics the  'elegant handwriting of Einstein' according to The Times newspaper  today.

The Einstein  font is the brainchild of German typographer Harald Geisler and Elizabeth Waterhouse, (a dancer with a Harvard physics degree!)  It is based on samples of the great  physicist's handwriting taken from hundreds of notebooks, essays and letters.

The inventors wanted to see if  writing in Einstein's script could change a person's relationship with what they are writing or thinking. 'For example,' said Mr Geisler, 'when you wear something nice like a Prada shirt, your body language changes.' (Please wait while I go and buy a Prada shirt to test this theory.)

According to Miss Waterhouse 'Einstein was a thinker with both beautiful ideas and graceful penmanship.' She added 'The idea  of genius handwriting that everyone can use is deliberately wonderful and ironic.'

A fundraising campaign to pay for the development of the font has been hugely successful. Its  release is scheduled for the end of this year to celebrate the centenary of Einstein's general theory of relativity.

As for me - if I type using this amazing new font AND wear designer clothes at the same time - I'll be happy.


Monday, 25 May 2015

No Greater Love...

Marie Colvin
 Marie Colvin - Photo courtesy of The Times newspaper
      When Marie Colvin, the Sunday Times war correspondent, set out on her fatal assignment to Syria three years ago, she carried with her a  heavy manuscript contained in a small knapsack.  After she was killed in a rocket attack  the 387-page unpublished novel, Gospel Prism by Gerald Weaver, was recovered with  her few belongings.

      In her role as war correspondent for the Sunday Times Marie was regarded by her peers as unsurpassable.  Despite losing her left eye when she was hit by a Sri Lankan  rocket-propelled grenade in 2001,  she still managed to file her report on time. From then on she wore the black eye patch which became her trademark.

      In a remarkably honest podcast  Weaver, who has been described as Marie's first love and lifelong friend, talks about her with deep affection.  She was, he says, the one who encouraged him to write  about  'our friendship and our relationship' adding 'Marie was the father of the book and I was the mother.'

      The author  describes his debut novel as ' a detective story with a spiritual aspect' but it is clearly so much more than this.

      'I carry Marie around inside me a lot' he says simply.

       Gospel Prism was  published on May 23 2015 and  is dedicated to Marie Colvin's memory.

      Monday, 18 May 2015


      Behind every picture there is a story.

      These two  service medals  (below) were given to me by my daughter on the anniversary of VE Day,  to add to my collection of World War Two memorabilia.  With them came a photograph of their owner, Lieutenant R Greenwood,  taken in February 1942  and a snap of two young soldiers.

       'I knew you would want to know the story behind it,' my daughter wrote. And she was right!
      Is one of these men Lieutenant Greenwood?

      Lieutenant R Greenwood

      Why did he have a scar on the bridge of his nose? Is he one of the younger men in the snapshot? What did he do after the war?If Lieutenant Greenwood was a member or friend of your family, I'd love to know. Whatever the truth he's a lasting symbol of every war hero who finally made it back home.

      Monday, 11 May 2015

      Dear Guernsey.... a letter to an old friend

      GILL CULLEN, a Guernsey girl now living in  Vancouver,  wrote this  letter to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of the Channel Islands. It has touched my  heart and the hearts  of  so many people and is reproduced  here with her  kind permission. Thanks, Gill.   Long live Freedom!
      Torteval Church, Guernsey

      Dear Guernsey

      How I wish I could be with you this year . This 70th celebration of the end of the Occupation.
      How many years I have sat and listened to stories of your Occupation , from my father ... Stories of trepidation and daring , Of victory signs , Of tea dances , of curfews (often missed . With bad recompense ) Of hunger .. Of seaweed bread ... Of cabbage soup , Of Crystal sets , Of prisoners of war .....
      My childhood was during a time of recovery for you, dear Guernsey ... And I embraced your lovely beaches , your windswept shores , your crashing waves ...
      Ferry rides ...watching every wave as it broke on the bow of the "Martha Gun " or the " Capstan" or the " Lady Dorothy "
      Other Liberation days when a trip to Herm was often in order to help celebrate ..and to walk through the fair on the way back ....
      My life has taken me away from your beautiful shores , but my heart remains a Guernsey Girl, an islander through and through ...
      I would love to to stand with everyone this year, on this anniversary .. So many of our loved ones gone .. Yet I am sure still present .. In the cry of the seagulls or in the rise and fall of the tide ...
      I miss you always more on days like this ..
      Yet you always welcome me back with open arms and a warm hug 

       Enjoy your day, dear Guernsey ........
      You will always be my first love ...
      My Sarnia Cherie ....

      Tuesday, 5 May 2015


      Reading or Weeding - The Little Garden Library in Lancashire

      A little library goes a long, long way, to misquote a famous saying.  But I didn't have to go far this weekend to discover a novel swap-shop in the small town where I live.

      Librarian Ruth Taylor has set up a Little Garden Library in  front of her Lancashire home, to the delight of passers-by. After just a week she has found plenty of curious readers who are invited to take (and leave ) anything from children's books to popular adult fiction.

      'It's all to promote reading for pleasure,' she told the local evening paper. 'I've seen similar schemes in London, for people who might not otherwise have the chance (to borrow books).

      Ruth has always loved libraries  and says this is just her way of 'passing that on.' Each book includes a personalised book mark explaining the concept of the swap shop to readers. Her home is close to a local primary school and she has had plenty of interest from children passing by.

      The mother of two  has worked in libraries  at three  secondary schools and is now based in her local council library.

      NB - I've just been round with a copy of my debut novel Baggy Pants and Bootees.  Ruth has promised to have a leisurely read of the book before passing it on!


      Saturday, 25 April 2015

      Here's 'hop'ing you like the new book!

      What are you writing next? is  a question I'm often asked.   So it's great to be nominated for the Work in Progress Blog Hop to talk about my second historical novel 'Occupying Love.'

      What is it about?  I have tried to sum it up in one sentence:

      In Nazi-occupied Guernsey during World War Two a young college student falls in love with the mysterious leader of the local Resistance, is coerced into sleeping with the German Kommandant and loses everything she holds dear before the shocking truth about her birth finally threatens to destroy her.

       The nomination comes from author Heather Burnside (pictured below)  who introduced me to the mysterious world of crime thrillers.

      Diane Nov 14

      Heather, who writes a vey successful blog and lively newsletter, is the author of SLUR, a crime thriller set in 1980s Manchester, about two young women who have been wrongly accused of murder. The main character, Julie, is subjected to insults and accusations, and believes that everyone has turned against her. This drives her to despair, and she sinks into a deep depression. When her friends reveal that they may have found the real killer she reaches a turning point and begins to fight to maintain her innocence. But she underestimates just how difficult it will be to prove a vicious murderer guilty especially when the police remain unconvinced.

      The book is available from Amazon in both Kindle and print versions and you can find out more at:

      Heather has also published a multi-genre selection of short stories called Crime, Conflict and Consequences, which will be followed by another crime thriller in summer/autumn 2015 - the sequel to SLUR.
       The rules to the blog hop are: Link back to the person who nominated you.
      Write a little about and give the first few lines of the first three chapters from your WIP.
      Nominate some other writers to do the same. So here goes...  
      Occupying Love
      Marilyn Chapman
       Chapter One
       The shock of that day never left her; it invaded her dreams and shadowed her waking moments.She could see herself now, carrying an old brown suitcase down the ship’s gangplank, her chocolate brown hair tousled by the fresh Guernsey breeze. In the year since Lydia had left the island nothing, it seemed, had changed. Fishing boats rocked from side to side, slapping waves against the harbour walls and yacht sails shimmered in the early evening sun, fine wisps of cloud skittering across the skies like pockets of hand-stitched lace.  (cont)

      Chapter Two 
      ‘Mama - it’s me - let me in.’
      Emily Le Page threw open the door, howling with a mixture of fear and delight.  ‘Lydia, my poor child, you look awful.’ She hugged her daughter to her.  ‘Why on earth are you here?'
      ‘I heard the Germans were about to invade.  I needed to know you were all right. Lydia’s eyes scanned the room. ‘Where’s Papa?  Has he…. has he gone to the docks?’
      ‘No, not tonight.  He wasn’t feeling well.   He heard the commotion and went out to check on the greenhouses.’
      ‘Thank God for that. I thought he’d been killed.’
      Chapter Three
      Emily Le Page stared at the headline on the Guernsey Star. She always read it from cover to cover and tonight was no exception.  German Officer Saves Guernsey Child from Fire! “Heroic Rescue,” says Kommandant.’
      Heroic rescue? It didn’t make sense.  Could this really be the enemy? Just a few days ago Hitler’s soldiers had taken over the island and no-one had a clue what to expect.  Murder, rape, bombs and torture were the legacy of the Nazis in Europe and here they were trying to make friends!
      A gust of wind shook the sash window and Emily shivered.  She cast her eyes round the familiar room with its carved oak furniture and sweeping bay windows. An unspeakable tragedy had brought them to this house, yet she had known more happiness within these walls then she ever thought possible. Built of pink granite on a cliff overlooking Saints Bay, ‘Sea Breeze’ was visible on a clear day many miles from shore.  Behind the house stood a small orchard of apples, pears and plums and beyond that lay the greenhouses where her husband spent his working days. (to be continued)
      Rather than nominate individual bloggers I would like to ask other authors to join in and tell us about their next novel. Good luck!