Like looking in a mirror?

They say a writer should write what they know. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say this and it seems to be the most common piece of advice offered to all aspiring writers. But what does it mean? And does it help you become a better writer?

For a long time this piece of advice made little sense to me. How could a writer faithfully write what they know and at the same time compose stories full of mythical dragons and magic or homicidal serial killers? I get that a former police officer could go on to write some amazing crime thrillers, and a university history professor could write some incredible historical fiction, but this doesn’t exactly hold true for the teacher spending her free time writing about the zombie apocalypse…. Am I being too literal?

It’s highly possible some writers lean heavily on their life or work experience to lend a story an extra layer of authenticity, but, the more I think about it, I‘m convinced writing what you know refers less towards mining the depths of your previous profession and more towards your ability to dig into a rich and abundant well of emotions and lifelike character descriptions. 

Being able to put ourselves in the minds of our chosen characters, imagine their facial expressions, their gestures and personality traits, their habits and actions / reactions is vital for anyone wishing to write a story worth reading. Your readers need to be able to “see” and relate to your characters, empathise with their situation and care what happens to them. To do this we need to provide them with authentic and believable descriptions and enough realism that they can relate and allow themselves to be pulled into the story. 

I’m not sure how everyone else manages this, but my approach leans towards imagining how I would react in a given situation or mimicking gestures I wish to describe and feeling lucky I’m sat in my office where no one else can see the kind of crazy person I’ve morphed into.

I also study people and try to imagine what they might be thinking or saying. As a nurse, I got to see first hand how patients and their loved ones react in a hospital environment. As a mum,  I watch my kids all the time and sometimes I sit on a bench at the park or near the library and watch people interacting with the world around them. It feels a little intrusive at times, but people fascinate me and I can’t help but wonder what thoughts are going through their heads at any given time. 

Finally, if all else fails I turn to research for inspiration. The sources I’m primarily drawn to are books and films, but I’m not opposed to searching the internet for self-help articles and websites that focus on mental and emotional health. I’m forever making notes or highlighting passages in books that are either beautifully written or explain something in a way that allows me to grasp a level of emotion I’ve been unable to describe up until that point. In films I tend to dissect a scene that moves me in some way. By understanding what made the scene so powerful, I’ve been able to discern just how important a persons body language is in conveying a given emotion and then use those cues and mannerisms in my own writing. I can’t be certain, but I feel it provides my work with more depth and accuracy and ultimately a more engaging narrative.

So, that’s me and how I try to “Write what you know”. But what about you? Are you a former NASA astronaut writing about space travel or just a regular Jane trying to bring a reader to tears with the power of the words on your page…?

When life gets in the way…

Have you ever felt like the universe is doing it’s damnedest to prevent you from enjoying the things you most want to spend time on? Ever tried to get on with your to-do list and have a million things dumped in your lap that needed sorting yesterday? Ever felt so sure your body is going to collapse under the strain of illness and life stress, that getting out of bed feels utterly pointless?

I should probably tell you that, right now, my hand is stretching itself towards the sky, giving a little wave and shouting ever so annoyingly “Me! Me! MEEEE!”. Yes, life has well and truly kicked my **** and writing has had to take a backseat for over year! Yes, you read that correctly. Where is that horror stricken emoji face when I need one?

The last blog post I wrote, was published in March over a year ago and, looking back, I’m not entirely surprised there hasn’t been a peep out of me since. I’ve had plenty of good, happy days filled with fun and the things memories are made of. I’ve also had a few too many busy ones full of challenges and deadlines. And then there’s been a whole truckload of the kind where you just want to go to bed and wake up tomorrow, or next week, or perhaps even next year. Looks like I accomplished the last – at least where any form of writing is concerned!

You may be thinking to yourself, what has happened to make this woman stop doing what she loves for over a year? Well, my friends… Life, that’s what happened. I don’t need to go into the gory details, save to say I had a major health scare that put everything else on hold. Throw the “Curse of 2020” into the mix and it has taken everything I possess just to exist, take every day as it comes and be there for my family as much as I’m capable of. Thankfully, we have weathered everything life has thrown at us and I finally feel the energy and urge to get back into writing once more.

I need to read through the chapters I finished last year and take stock, I think. I have a good friend who’s eagerly waiting for the continuation of a story she fell in love with last year. I have chapters she hasn’t even seen yet and I plan to send everything over to her as soon as possible and see what she thinks. Her feedback has been great and I can’t tell you the effect it has had on my confidence! Once that’s done, I should know at least where I am and can plan what to do next.

In the mean time Summer is over here in Norway! The first leaves on the trees have begun to turn, the temperature is dropping and the weather outside today is grey, rainy and downright dreary. The good thing about this, as I see it, is that I can officially begin to take out the things that belong to the cold, wet and rainy autumn! As the days get shorter and the evenings get darker I can claim the spot closest to the fireplace, find my cozy oversized woolly jumpers and warm woolly socks and indulge in an endless stream of hot cups of tea, whilst I knit and listen to audiobooks. ❤️

And so, for now, my focus will be to enjoy life and its many small joys and hopefully get back on track with writing. The dream of writing my own book is still as strong as it has ever been. Let’s see about making it a reality!

I wish you all a pleasant day wherever you are!

And happy writing!


Perfection in the making!

As days go, yesterday was a winner! Let me tell you why…

I reached my first goal of 10K written words about a month ago. 10% of my novel was written! I felt good. Really good! I sent it off to my 2 alpha readers and got some amazing feedback. Then life hit me hard and I haven’t had the health or momentum to write since.

Somewhere in the last couple of weeks I was reading about the pros and cons of self-publishing vs. traditionally published fiction. One of the biggest questions I’ve been asking myself since I started writing is which way should I go? There are so many sides to that discussion it feels a bit like playing hopscotch on a treadmill that’s spinning in circles. For the purpose of this post though, one thing stood out for me in that article – whether you go the self-publishing route or aim to submit and hopefully secure a contract with an agent and publisher – you need to get your work edited. Okaaaaay…

Now, I’m fairly sure I’m not the first newbie author to have second and third and one hundred and seventh doubts about the quality of their work, but I’ve really been struggling to see if what I’m writing is any good. Up until this point writing has been an exciting new challenge and a daunting one not having a clue how any of this works. I decided that, if for no other reason, contacting an editor would maybe give me an indication of “yes, this is good – keep on going” or “hmmm, maybe this is not quite your thing”.

I belong to an amazing writer’s group on FaceBook and in there they do these live events regularly with an editor so we can send in questions and she answers them. I’ve been following these when I can and I’ve really enjoyed the insights she’s shared. Between these live events and the article, I felt like something was telling me to do some research about editing and editors. So I looked up her website and totally fell in love with her concept! Her name is Emma and she runs the site Creating Perfection. Emma offers – amongst other things – a chapter by chapter editing service. The benefit of editing small sections as I write allows me the opportunity to a) learn as I go and incorporate all her advice so each successive submission will hopefully be better than the last and b) spread the cost over a longer period of time and thus make it more manageable for a debut author’s finances.

So, having contacted her and decided to jump in head first, I sent her my first 4 chapters and then tried to keep myself busy for a week so I wouldn’t obsess over what she thought about them. I needn’t have worried! Emma made it very clear at the outset that her feedback is always 100% honest as anything else wouldn’t benefit either of us. She is an absolutely lovely person and not only did she do an incredibly thorough job on editing my chapters, but she also boosted my self-esteem and had me grinning from ear to ear. Her praise and recommendation to keep doing what I’m doing made my day yesterday! It was just what I needed to hear! I now have a clear idea of what I’m doing right and that my plans for the rest of the story are sound. I feel energised and motivated to get back to it – as soon as humanly possible!

It really is an incredibly uplifting feeling to have so many people in your corner – friends and family and now also a kick-ass editor. I don’t know if I could do this without them. Their support means everything to me! If you’re in any doubts whether or not to engage an editor – I would highly recommend you take the plunge! He or she may just provide you with the advice you need to make your manuscript shine! I see it as making an investment in myself and my newest craft and that by doing so the result will hopefully be an amazing novel!

Love is in the air…

For some of you Valentines Day is an excuse to shower that special someone with cards, flowers, gifts and attention. For others it’s a black hole of loathing with thoughts of revenge and regret and a fervent wish you could squash your useless ex like a bug. For most though, it’s a day like every other and one more opportunity to be grateful for the important people in your lives and to cherish the small moments of love and thoughtfulness I hope you all experience. 

Now, for those of you in a loving mood today, I thought to focus on Love as we know it in fiction! Have I told you my novel is a love story? No, well it is! I’m hoping eventually it will be a fantastic love story full of life’s ups and downs, the little things we do to show we care, the new and the familiar, the lost, the forgotten and the heartbreakingly honest.

Until then though, and because I love a good list… Here are my Top 10 favourite love stories in fiction!

  1. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
  2. Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness
  3. Me before You – Jojo Moyes
  4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  5. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  6. Call me by your name – André Aciman
  7. The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
  8. The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
  9. The Fault in our Stars – John Green
  10. Until the end of the World – Sarah Lyons Flemming

I could tell you why they’re my favourites, but I don’t want to spoil them for anyone who hasn’t read them yet and you can make up your own minds as to whether these deserve a spot in your Top 10!

If you don’t have plans for Valentines Day – curl up with a good love story! That’s what I plan to do! If you’re looking for your next read, you could try out one of my recommendations above or check out these other lists here and here. And if you have any brilliant suggestions for me – don’t hesitate to post them in the comments below!

Happy Valentines Day!

The Puuuurfect Pet?

Have you ever fallen hopelessly in love with a literary pet and wished they were yours? I have! Countless times! Nearly every one of my favourite books has had a pet character and for me they have been as important to the story as any of their human counterparts. 

During the process of plotting out my novel, I was working on my character line-up and there was something missing. I couldn’t quite figure it out to begin with and then it hit me – She needs a pet! I knew straight away it would have to be a cat. Have I told you all I love cats? To be fair, I’m fairly fond of all kinds of animals, but cats are at the top of the list for me. I have 2 cats of my own and we regularly foster abandoned cats for a local cat rescue organisation, until they can be re-homed. As pets they’re infinitely more independent than your average dog, but anyone who has had a cat will know that their personalities are both unique and immensely amusing.

Being new to this writing game, I’ve been wondering how exactly I should “write” my feline character. Without the possibility of some snappy dialogue, how do I best go about giving my newest pal the personality he deserves? Here’s where being a life-long cat lover comes in handy I guess. In order to make him feel “real” I’ll need to use everything I know about cats – their habits, their likes and dislikes, their quirks and peculiarities. As a writer our job is to evoke emotions and images within the minds of our readers. To do that we must appeal to all their senses and make our pets come alive on the page. Why? Because, at least to my mind, a good pet can add a great deal to a story. Maybe you need some comedic relief to lighten the tension or perhaps you need to show the softer side of your main character. Whatever the reason, having a pet in the day to day scenes of your story may just provide it with that little bit of spice it was missing. 

I know I’ll be having fun adding a little furry fun to my story. And he may not be a big character, but he’ll definitely be one of my favourites. 

When are you at your most creative?

Yesterday I was driving through a slush storm to pick my kids up from school. The temperature was yo-yoing just around freezing and the sky was dark grey, a heavy mass of clouds that couldn’t make up their mind if they wanted to pelt us with rain or bury us in snow. Hence the slush. I drive this route twice a day Monday to Friday and apart from being “slushed” by two passing trucks, the drive yesterday was otherwise uneventful.

What occurred to me though is that those 15 minutes twice a day, are my most productive in terms of writing ideas. I invariably put on a playlist and let my imagination loose. Don’t get me wrong – my attention is on the road! But in the back of my head, little bubbles are rising to the surface of my imagination and I see images or snippets of film and a stream of “what if’s”. I carry a small notebook where I can write these little pearls down – when I get to where I’m headed – and trust me I need to write them down or they get lost in the fog of appointments and meetings and “what’s for dinner”.

But why is it that most of my ideas come to me when driving my car? Why not in dreams? Why not when I’m sat here at my desk actually writing? Why not when I should be concentrating in a meeting or when I’m cooking dinner? I wouldn’t call the scenery along the motorway particularly inspiring….

My theory is that, when I drive on my own, my otherwise busy mind gets to relax and “breathe”. So often I’m surrounded by other people and demands on my attention, that the opportunities to be creative are severely limited. Those short intervals of alone time driving my little electrical car are golden! I could rehash a recent argument, mull over something work related, plan the dinners we’re having next week, but instead I find that I tend to gear down (pun intended) and let my mind wander towards my novel. I guess I’m not the type of person that finds driving particularly stressful – especially not on a route I drive so often – and the possibility of calm, unstressed focus allows my creativity to flow. Add in an amazing playlist I created as a “soundtrack” to my novel and I’m all set! It’s been great in terms of plotting my novel! I nearly always come back from a drive feeling energised and inspired and now that I’m consciously aware of how those moments of alone time boost my creativity – I have a great tool I can utilise when an inevitable bout of writers block hits!

Is it just me? Do any of you experience a boost in creativity when driving your car? Are there other situations or places where you feel your creativity flows better than others? I’d love to hear about it!



What’s in a name?

veelosvpr_mg_8859“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Shakespeare’s famous line from Romeo & Juliet should by all accounts be a golden rule of thumb – and far be it from me to argue with a master! However, I find myself wondering if the sentiment applies to character names? Would your readers relate to the handsome, kind and sensitive male protagonist if his name was Spike? Likewise would your female antagonist, the bane of practically everyone’s existence, pure evil personified, pack as much punch if her name was Chloë?

It’s obvious to most of us that most names come with a degree of assumed characterisation. Anyone who has ever tried to name a baby will know that it’s incredibly hard to find a name that doesn’t also remind you of a former colleague, an ex, an irritating boss, the next door neighbours dog etc. etc. etc. We are surrounded by names and whilst some we find appealing, others make us cringe and wonder “what were his parents thinking???”.

When you’re writing a novel your characters names are often a reflection of their personalities. We want people to accept the inherent personality traits that “belong” to a given name and create an image of the character that harmonises with the one you are attempting to portray in the pages of your book.

So how do we go about this? Well, looking at what the net says here and there, I managed to unwittingly use some of the basic naming rules. There are plenty of articles out there to give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Here’s a breakdown of the steps I took and rules I tried to stick to:

  1. Pick a name that reflects the characters culture, age and personality traits. Do the research and make a list of names that were popular in the country / culture, and decade your character was born in. What do the names mean? Are there cultural expectations connected to your chosen name? Anticipating these factors will allow you to provide your characters with names that feel “real” to your readers.
  2. Avoid hard to pronounce and difficult to remember names. As exotic and appealing as the names may be to you, they may just be too difficult for the average reader to pronounce and remember. Unless you plan to provide a glossary with a phonetic pronunciation guide, maybe pick another name.
  3. Some names are so “famous”, using them would be fairly pointless unless you’re writing fan fiction. If you want your characters to be unique to your novel, avoid names which will remind your readers of others with the same name. Bella, Khaleesi, Bond, Hermione … need I say more?
  4. Make sure your character’s names are indistinguishable from each other. A John, Jack and Jacob all within one plot leave us with a confused reader.
  5. Stick to the naming rules of your genre. Real world characters have real world names. Fantasy characters don’t have to!

At the end of the day your characters are yours and their names are up to you to decide. I found this to be a fun exercise and like naming my children, I found names I fell in love with and that match my characters perfectly! How did you get on?

Getting the feedback you need…

Having tentatively taken my first steps along the road of writing a novel, it has occurred to me to wonder – is what I’m writing any good??? Should I even bother spending hours and hours on something that may just be “meh”? I noticed last week that, having written my first scenes, I was quite happy with the tone I could see forming… Then a few days passed, I read through them again and wondered what on earth I was doing!

At this point, chucking in the towel feels fairly justified… but then I remember why I’m doing this. I pull on my big girl pants, roll my shoulders, stretch my fingers, tighten the non existent hairband in my short cropped hair and try again. The visual you’re probably sat with now has me chuckling (sorry, not sorry). Seriously though, am I the only one who feels sitting down to write is like preparing to run a marathon? Any who… I digress.

So, I’m sat here in my little writing bubble and wondering if I was half asleep when I wrote my last scene, doubting I have what it takes to be an author – a good one that is – and thinking I should just give in whilst I’m ahead. Can I look at this objectively and see what a potential reader will see? Not a snowball’s chance in hell! I’m already blind to any faults and inconsistencies, problems and pitfalls. I need feedback from someone with fresh eyes. I need a kind, but honest voice of reason that can tell me to forge ahead or pack it in! I need… an Alpha Reader!

Alpha Reader? Yup. Alpha as in first. As in top dog. As in A* reader! A few months ago I had no idea alpha readers even existed. Their job? To read your first fumbling efforts at fiction and tell you what works and what doesn’t. Your alpha reader is someone you can trust, who won’t mind reading your craptastic spelling and grammar and telling you what parts they adored and what parts they didn’t quite understand, what characters they loved and what characters they felt need more attention. Your alpha reader is also someone who will encourage you to keep going and give you some helpful hints.

I’m happy to say I have 3 very lucky (to my mind) alpha readers who have said they are more than willing to read what I write and give me some highly appreciated feedback! This puts me in the “I have the best husband and friends in the world” box and I know you will all agree, writing just got a whole lot easier… Not? Well, maybe not. But at least now I can get a feel for what works outside of my bubble and that will make the next step a little less daunting to take!


Book review – The Songs of Us

36389285The Songs of Us – Emma Cooper

  • Format: Paperback – 432 pages
  • Published: 20th September 2018
  • Publisher: Headline Review

If Melody hadn’t run out of de-icer that day, she would never have slipped and banged her head. She wouldn’t be left with a condition that makes her sing when she’s nervous. And she definitely wouldn’t have belted out the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ in assembly at her son’s school.

If Dev hadn’t taken the kids to the zoo that day, then the accident wouldn’t have happened. He wouldn’t have left Flynn and Rose without a dad. Or shattered the love of his life’s heart.

But if they hadn’t seen the missing person report that day, they might never have taken the trip to Cornwall. And, in the last place they expected, discovered what it really means to be ‘Us’.

As part of my newly established website and blog, I wanted to showcase one of the books I have read this month – the debut novel “The Songs of Us” by Emma Cooper.

This is a book that has been recommended by a great many people in a bookclub I am a member of on Facebook – The Fiction Café – Book Club. I took to it knowing upfront that it was deemed both incredibly funny and heartbreakingly sad. It’s been a few days since I finished reading it and I have to admit, I needed the time to recover! This book really was a roller coaster ride. My goodness!!! I loved every page and don’t think I have laughed so hard or cried so many silent tears when reading a book – ever! It well and truly hooked me and I have been recommending “The Songs of Us” to everyone I come across! In execution, the book has a cast of characters you can’t help but fall in love with, a playlist worthy enough to play at full volume in your car and a story that keeps you reading passed a sensible bedtime and at every other opportunity, right up until the last page. 

I was telling my 9 year old son about the book the other morning and why it had made me cry. He was teary eyed himself, listening to my short summary of the story! At the end he asked me why I would want to read such as sad book? I told him that even though it was very sad – it was also incredibly beautiful and touching to read how loved a person can be. How reading something so evocative, can help you appreciate what happens in your own life more. And how our lives are better when we feel all the emotions – not just happiness. He seemed to accept that – with a very sage nod! 

I contacted Emma and told her how much I loved her book and asked if she wouldn’t mind answering a few questions. I know she’s busy working on her next novel, “The First Time I Saw You”, but she was more than happy to oblige and I’m truly thankful she took the time to answer my questions and is allowing me to post them here for you all to read! As I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone, I decided to stick to questions about the writing process rather than aspects of the story…. so here goes! 


14906595Hi Emma!

Firstly, let me just say a huge Thank you for writing such an amazing book and for answering my questions! 

It’s my pleasure, thank you for having me! I always get a real thrill when I hear how readers have been so affected by The Songs of Us and always, always love it when I hear that it is being talked about and recommended to friends.  That was how I often came across some of my favourite books so it’s wonderful that my book is being included.

Whilst I was reading I found myself wondering about your process when writing with so many references to popular songs. I had a distinct “chicken or the egg” feeling – what came first? Did you have a great song and then wrote the scene to match or did you have the plot and then found the perfect song to fit the scene?

A bit of both really.  There were certain songs that I always wanted to include for specific scenes – “This Woman’s Work” being one of them, but often, I would be writing a scene and a song would just pop into my head.  “Agadoo” was one of those and I burst out laughing when it did.  I had literally typed ‘Aaaaaahhh!’ and ‘doo, doo, doo, push pineapple shake a tree’ followed without any conscious thought from me.

The images your book creates are so rich and clear, I felt like I was watching it all happen right in front of me! How do you go about writing something so alive and not get bogged down just describing what you see in your head? 

That’s a really difficult question to answer …  I’m a pantser by nature, and without sounding like a pillock, my books do tend to just write themselves.  That being said, I learnt a great deal about writing techniques and features when I worked in Year six for several years.  I use a lot of pathetic fallacy, which is where you give a human feeling to an inanimate object, especially when using it to describe weather; it can give a whole different feel to a scene without too much mundane description, for example:

“As I step outside, I breathe in the dewy grass, tilting my head to the night sky which has already thrown off its dark blanket and now stretches and unpeels, revealing blood orange.”

If I had just described the scene as dawn breaking, and talked about the colours of the sky, you wouldn’t get that punch.  This isn’t something I’m really aware of as I write though … it just sort of happens!

After my many attempts at reading some of the passages from your book to my husband, and failing miserably because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe – I wondered what it was like for you to write some of the most hilarious scenes, and equally the saddest ones? 

I love that you were reading parts out to your hubby! I do this too! 

Often, I found myself laughing when I was writing, especially when Melody took me by surprise.  The “Dontcha” scene came from nowhere as did the “Birdy Song”. Equally, there were times when I had to stop writing because I was crying so much.  I have to say that I didn’t cry at the ‘big’ scene at the end of the novel though, but I think that was because I knew it was coming all the way through.  There were two scenes that really made me cry, the “Perfect Day” scene was another of those that came from nowhere. I had the song playing while I wrote it and it was a real gut-wrencher for me.  The other was when Flynn sees his mum asleep, I wrote that when I was covering a class and had to pull myself together quickly!

What did it feel like to reach the big writing milestones – writing the final words, finding out your book would be published, seeing the cover design, reaching publication day and hearing the audiobook version? 

After writing the last words to The Songs of Us, I remember playing Melody’s final song really loud and having a bit of a dance around my lounge! That euphoria was short lived though once I started getting the gazillions of rejections through.  Funnily enough, I think getting my agent was my biggest milestone.  That email, next to meeting Russell and having my children, is the single most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. Having a literary agent telling you that you’re an incredible writer and that they want to help you find the right publisher is like no other feeling I have ever experienced!

Seeing my cover (and oh what a beauty it is!) was very surreal. I had an image in my mind of the tree that Tom sculpts, so I was expecting something similar to Rowan Coleman’s “The Memory Book” (which I love). Seeing this bright red balloon took me by surprise, but as I’m sure you can guess, I was over the moon with it.  I have a slight hint from my editor about the brief for “The First Time I Saw You”‘s cover and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the designers go with it.  More on this soon!!

As to the audiobook, that was quite a nerve-wracking experience, hearing actors speaking your words is just … incredible.  I’m so very lucky that I had two actors too, as this isn’t always the case in multiple viewpoints.  I think they did an exceptional job, they made your husband cry so I’ll take that as a massive win! P.S let him know he’s not on his own, Russ has cried at “The Songs of Us” more times than I can count … he had to actually leave the room when he read the ending for the first time. He’s cried at “The First Time I Saw You” several times too! 

E-book publication day I spent drinking prosecco and sitting outside my caravan obsessively checking my ranking on Amazon.  Paperback publication day, I went into an independent Book shop in Oswestry called Booka Bookshop and signed some copies … that was a very special feeling, seeing it there in the wild was just wonderful.  It’s a gorgeous book shop if you are ever close by, and they host some incredible author evenings … Jodi Picoult was there a few months ago!

And finally the universal question – what is the best advice you can offer a new author? 

Never give up.  I almost did.  It’s hard to keep believing in yourself when you’re getting email after email from agents and publishers telling you that, for whatever their reason, you’re not quite good enough.  It chips away at your self-belief day after day until you start to believe that they’re right.  I was so very close to giving up. No matter how good, deep down, I knew The Songs of Us was, it’s hard to keep believing in yourself. 

There is a phrase that you will receive when you get rejections: subjective.  This business is so subjective. I had publisher and agents saying that readers just wouldn’t like the singing parts, and of course for some readers that’s true, but there are other readers and publishers, all around the world who, like yourself, absolutely loved it.  I dread to think how different my life would be if I had have given up.

Thank you so much for being willing to answer my questions and letting me post them on here! I really hope “The Songs of Us” continues to attract new readers and gives them as great a reading experience as it gave me!

Thank you for having me and taking the time to ask such great questions!


So, my dear readers… I’m giving this book 5 out of 5 stars! If you’re reading this and curious about it – give it a go! I can guarantee “The Songs of Us” will have you in tears – happy and sad ones – and you won’t mind one bit! 

“Where words fail…

… Music speaks!” Hans Christian Andersen said that and I would imagine he knew what he was talking about!

Today I find myself staring out of the window at a clear, blue and beautiful winter sky, thinking over the scenes of my story. I can “see” my characters, “hear” their words and “feel” their emotions, but as with most stories – it doesn’t seem to work as well without a soundtrack! Have you ever had the shivers from a really good melody? Heard a singer who’s voice tugs at your heartstrings? Heard the words of a song and felt they were speaking to you? I live for moments like this and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, when I imagine the scenes of my story, there’s a soundtrack playing inside my mind in the background! It makes everything feel complete, feel “right” and I’m hoping the inspiration I take from the songs makes what I write, better.

To make my soundtrack more of a reality than an endless loop of phrases and snippets of melody running through my head, I decided to compile a playlist of songs that reflect the emotions, struggles and achievements of my main characters: Beth and Sam. As music will play a part of their story, I just had to create something that would do them justice! I know I will love listening to it – there are some of my all time favourites in there – but it occurred to me that maybe you would enjoy a peak into their musical world! If you’re interested in hearing Beth and Sam’s playlist, you can find it here on Spotify or follow the social media link at the bottom of the page! I hope you like it!