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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!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

My word is my pond, sorry, bond...

A long-standing  friend of mine has just bought a house  more than sixty miles away from her job. She's thrilled about the new 'chez-moi' but worried about the commuting.

How will you make the transition? I texted  the other day, in between  emails and overdue edits.

'How will I make the train station?' she replied. 'I'm not quite decrepit yet...'.

We both laughed in an LOL kind way.  Such misunderstandings  happen every day. But I sometimes wonder how the mighty Shakespeare might have felt faced with the same situation. Or Graham Greene for that matter, or Ernest Hemingway ( who was known to have a difficult nature at the best of times.) Would their combined writerly genius have stood up to the test of text?  Or auto-correct. Or any of the myriad inventions these days that are aimed at 'improving' our spelling and grammar.

Computers could  write novels! screeched a newspaper heading the other day with enough resonance to make the publishing world take note.  Of course they could.  But could they write a good novel?
'It’s not hard to tell a story. It’s hard to tell good stories,'  Tom Meltzer re-quoted in The Guardian recently. 'How do you get a computer to understand what good means?'

But back to the auto-correct. Even those of us who don't while away our time at the keyboard all day must  have shouted No - that's not what I meant...'   to the smug-looking screen as it churns out gobbledegook in the name of progress.  Must we  be told how to write?

I think my five-year-old granddaughter has the right idea:before she speaks, or puts pen to paper, she listens to her teacher. I sent everyone an Easter card,' she told me recently. 'But Miss Jones says yours is an original, not a duplicate.'  Maybe she just likes big words. Or else she's been reading Hemingway.

Title Wave's photo.
I reproduce this with thanks to my friend and grammar expert Wendy Guilbert for bringing it to my attention.


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Men have the Monopoly? Not so, say Mary and Magie

The Makers of Monopoly have been criticised for ignoring  the real inventor of the game - an early feminist - in a new book to be published this week.

 Mary Pilon, author of The Monopolists, insists that everyone's favourite board game was actually  invented in 1904 by  *Elizabeth Magie, and not by Charles Darrow, an unemployed salesman from Atlantic city who  has always taken the credit.

Product Details
Photograph courtesy of

According to The Times today, Eliabeth Magie designed The Landlord's Game which featured a square board with markings for properties, utilities and a corner labelled "Go to Jail.'  Her intention, it seems, was to teach the perils of capitalism, though she did create a variation in which players could pursue a monopoly.

'Pilon's book states that Darrow encountered The Landlord's Game in 1932 when Quaker enthusiasts  augmented the rental properties with Atlantic City street names.  Parker Brothers bought the rights to Darrow's game in 1935 and later purchased Magie's patent for $500. Interestingly, the official history of Monopoly distributed by Hasbro does not mention her at all.

A spokesman for Hasbro said: "While Elizabeth Magie  may have helped to inspire the game, the we know it today was designed by Charles Darrow.'

What do you think?

*Born 1n 1896, Magie was the daughter of an Illinois newspaper publisher. She worked as  a stenographer and later as a newspaper reporter herself.

The Monopolists -Obsession, Fury, and the  Scandal behind the world's Favorite Board Game is published on April 9 2015 by Bloomsbury USA.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

This is not an April Fool (if you know what I mean, like)

Would you like  to hear something awesome? 

The author of the latest Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage hates some of the 250 new entries he has included such as challenging, issue and, you've guessed it, awesome, all of which are classified as clich├ęs.

Even worse, says Jeremy Butterfield,  is the word like in a sentence when used as verbal punctuation.  'Many people below the age of 25.... seem incapable of constructing a single affirmative sentence without at least one 'like in it,' he says in The Times this week.

His entry for 'achingly' features a jibe at "superficial and gushy journalists" who use the word to describe someone's attempt to be hip, rather than something that causes actual pain.  And as for people who drop their aitches - well that's another story.

Whether he likes it or not, language is changing all the time and a dictionary without the latest 'in' words would surely not be complete.

I  still have my school version of Fowler's Dictionary but perhaps it's time I got the updated version? 
Published this week by Oxford University Press the book is available here


Sunday, 22 March 2015


Caitlin Moran, The Times Columnist of the year, can be very contentious. She can also be clever, canny and  openly supportive of  campaigns she believes in. In this weekend's Times magazine supplement she writes vividly about the fight to save  London's Soho from extinction - in words I  wish I had written myself:

'Where do you go, and what do you do, when you go to Paris, New York, Berlin or Dublin?' she asks. You don't just go to a place; you travel to see if you can see other times, too:you go to the old parts, to hunt echoes and ghosts.

'You look for footsteps and fingerprints of Bowie, Dickens, Gainsbourg, Joyce - the thrill of being able to stand on a doorstep and say, 'This is the doorstep they would have used. They came here for a reason and I have, too. This place (Soho) is a matrix, a melody, a curation - a carefully constructed and unique thing - known across the world. To change too much of it is for it to cease to exist.'

 Modern and forward-thinking as she is, Caitlin Moran believes that too much change would be a disaster for the metropolis and ultimately for mankind, especially when it  'blow(s )away those tiny streets of Soho - the sticky  basements, coffee houses, guitar shops and furtive corners...... and replace(s) them all with a new plan:executive flats and office space rendered in uniform International Architecture.

'If Soho goes,' she concludes, 'there is truly nothing left in this city that can't be sold.'

Any Londoners out there? What do you think?

Talking of the past, I'd like to congratulate Sharon Bradshaw on the publication of her debut novel The Monk Who Cast A Spell.

  Durstan, a 17 year old 8th century Monk at the Monastery on Iona, falls in love with Ailan, becomes involved with Beth when he thinks he has lost her, then is injured in a Viking raid. He doubts his Christian belief because of the magic of the old Gods whom people still worship in 794AD.....

 Follow the link to find out more:

The Monk Who Cast a Spell