Showing posts from June, 2010

Fair and Free

We're going on vacation. No kids; just husband and me. And no visits to the fair. All the same, as I pack, I'm filled the same excitement I remember from childhood days. Knowing there'd be rides, and money to spend, and the freedom to choose which ride to spend it on. Except of course, in the beginning I was too small. Big brother got to go on cars where he really turned the wheel, and really crashed. Me, I rode on solid rails wherever the world said I had to. I remember the sudden freedom inspired by a ride that let me raise and lower my plane. The roundabout would start and I'd pull my throttle back. Up, up into the sky, and there I'd fly. My brother thought I was mad. I might as well have been on a ride that forced me to stay up high, but for me it was the freedom that mattered. I could have come down if I'd wanted. I did as I chose. Then there were roller coasters and the delight of being tall enough to join the excited line. I felt so brave. There was Nemes


Blue moon on the cover of Refracted, my soon-to-be-published e-book with Gypsy Shadow Publishing... Blue sky now summer's here... Blue mountains high and far in a pale blue haze ... Blue days when we're out of the Cup... Blue eyes --my father's while mine are dull as mud... Blue flowers --don't tell me they're weeds; at least they're growing... Blue berries , red strawberries and white ice cream next Sunday... Blue birds in the garden... Blue verses for singing the blues ... Blue warpaint ... Blue eye-shadow ... and a blue man on the cover of Gypsy Shadow's next contest. It ends next week, so why not go over there and try? Just go to , and click there for the next writing prompt. But before you do, please scroll down the page and share my joy at my name listed amongst their Newest Authors... I'm definitely NOT feeling blue !

Army Mom

One of the highlights of our trip to Texas with our son was a visit to Fort Sam Houston. We drove round the outside of the fort one day and it was huge. Not huge like Texas, this was really, really, really huge. I could hardly believe as we crossed yet another intersection that the fence nearby was still the same boundary. But on another day, we really went inside. As we stopped at the gate to have our IDs checked, I found myself trying to remember if I still look like my drivers' license photo. I think there's more than a few extra gray hairs, but we all passed inspection anyway. Our son then drove us past a perfectly ordinary-looking gas station, and stopped on the parking lot of what looked, at least to me, like a regular Home Depot. Of course it wasn't, and I really shouldn't have been so surprised at the washing machine sale inside. Even army personnel have to wash their clothes. Another drive, along quiet roads, past wide intersections where the only sign that thi

Coast to Coast and Sea to Sea

One thing about growing up in England is you're never very far from the sea. Even in the days of our grandparents, a trip on the back of a motorbike to walk on the front and paddle in the waves wasn't such a rare occurrence. I've seen photos of my parents courting on the beach long years ago with my uncle and aunt. And my childhood holidays (vacations in American) just wouldn't have been the same without buckets and spades. Which is why Salt Lake City, while beautiful, could never quite feel like home though we lived there for a while. There's the Great Salt Lake, of course, which is great and salty, but it's not the sea. And there's desert, but it's not the same sort of sand. When our son went to college in Los Angeles, our occasional visits to him felt like going back in time. We just had to stand on the beach at some point in each trip and taste salt on the breeze. We've moved to Oregon now, of course, and every Christmas visit from my Mum is acco

Interview with Children's Author and Mystery Writer Mary Russel

Mary Russel, author of Flickertail and Paint, Barnyward Sleuths , was born in 1948 and grew up in the U.S. in various foster homes and in an orphanage. She found her escape in books and is now a children's author and mystery writer. It is her hope that she can provide present and future generations of readers with the same enjoyment and excitement that she finds in books. Today, Mary's sharing some of her experiences in writing with readers of my blog. I'm delighted to have this chance to interview her (the first time I've interviewed an author), and I hope you'll enjoy reading her answers as much as I have. I'm sure Mary will visit here during the day, so if you have questions to pose, just put them in the comments. Meanwhile, if you visit Mary's blog at , you'll find me being interviewed there, and eager to hear from you too. Me: What did you dream of becoming when you grew up? Mary: Besides dreaming of being a writer, I

What's in a name, or a dream?

When I was small I wanted to be a trapeze artiste and work in a circus. I knew the word was "artiste" with an "e" because "artist-ess" was too hard to say. (I liked logic, even then, and, of course, I knew there was always a different word for the feminine form.) Pretty soon I also learned that my physical talents really didn't lean towards PE, not even in school, never mind circuses. So I decided to be an "authoress" instead. I still have my first two novels tucked away in a box under the bed, written on scraps of note-books tied up with string. Somewhere between dreaming novels and becoming a mathematician, the powers that be lost the "ess"es from their words. (Were there ever mathematicianesses, I wonder, like giantesses writing with giant Greek letters?) Of course, I didn't stop dreaming (and reading) books. I didn't stop writing them either since once I became a mother (feminine in its own right) my dear first-born son

Announcing my interview with author Mary Russel

Mary Russel, author of Flickertail and Paint, Barnyward Sleuths , is interviewing me on her blog - - on Thursday 17th June, and I'll be interviewing her here on my blog. We're both new authors with lots of books in the works, and I'm sure you'll enjoy reading Mary's answers to various questions about her writing life. Mary was born in 1948 and grew up in the U.S. in various foster homes and in an orphanage. She found her escape in books and is now a children's author and mystery writer. It is her hope that she can provide present and future generations of readers with the same enjoyment and excitement that she finds in books. She has a Bachelor's Degree in journalism and enjoys reading, writing, cooking, crafts, and spending time with her husband and two very spoiled dogs. (There's a gorgeous picture of Cookie reading Flickertail and Paint on her blog, . You should really go and look.) Mary&#

Write what you know?

Sometimes they tell you to write what you know. My husband says I should write about moving from England to the US. I think I write about displacement instead, and locate it wherever my characters tell me to. But I guess there's always something of what I know, delving into the shadows of dreams to let my characters make sense of them. Sometimes they tell you to set your imagination free. Don't tie yourself to the boring facts you know. Though, of course, those facts might not be entirely boring. My imagination's been wandering since the day I learned to talk. Reining it in might be the problem. Sometimes they tell you just to write. That's the rule I found hardest of all. It seems like all the writers I meet have delighted in journaling their days. But I have a box filled with empty diaries, where my journaling lasted a mere three weeks or less. One of them has checkmarks for the days when I thought I'd been good. That's the one that lasted the whole three week

Everything's bigger in Texas

"Everything's bigger in Texas." That's what our server said when he brought my salad to the table. It was huge, and I had to leave room for the steak. But boy was it delicious! Road-bridges are bigger in Texas too. As we drove cross-country from California, we joked at the beautifully painted Arizona bridges. "Perhaps there'ss nothing else to look at." Then we started our approach to San Antonio and met a real Texan bridge. It wasn't just the pristine colors that impressed us, but the size and scope. Bridges over bridges over bridges. Lanes over lanes. In downtown San Antonio our son explained how you have to be careful to pick the right "height" when you drive. The next lane over might be fifty feet up in the air! And the exit may come from the top or bottom section of the road. Near the airport bridges spanned each other, lanes turning every way, and all of it shining bright in the Texan sun. Clean lines reflected in clean colors, it felt

Paris in Texas?

I think my preconceptions about Texas were fueled by childhood Westerns watched on TV. Heading out on the 10 from El Paso did nothing to shatter my illusions. There was lots of empty space and endless horizons. Lots of sand and dry ground, scrubby shrubs, cacti, and hills that promised canyons in shadowed depths. There were even a few cows on a ranch. But El Paso isn't San Antonio, and San Antonio is like a touch of Paris (and London and Blackpool and Italy and Spain), and already I miss it. Friends had mentioned the "River Walk" before we left, and I tried not to look too foolishly surprised that there might be a river there. But their descriptions really couldn't do it justice. (Likewise neither can mine.) The river, sunken down beneath bridges and streets, reminded me of Cambridge and punting on the Cam: or of Paris, strolling by the Seine; or even of pictures of Venice though I've never been there. Shadows dapple the banks, bright colors splash like paint refl

Defiance and Recovery

I've been to Texas at last, in fiction and in fact, though not to Defiance, Texas. Still, it's kind of appropriate that I was catching up on the first book of Mary DeMuth's Defiance Texas trilogy during my travels. The third book in this trilogy has just come out. It's called Life in Defiance and it's a wonderful stand-alone book even if you haven't read the others. I feel like I'm qualified to make that claim since I read books two and three before book one. And it's probably a tribute to the author's wonderful writing that knowing the end of a mystery made me long to read the beginning. But Life in Defiance isn't just a mystery. There's a missing girl and the question of what happened to her. There are strange events and strangers and growing threats. But over all there's the personal story of the narrator, Ouisie Pepper, bound to a man who wounds her in actions and words, determined to do whatever it takes to tame her defiant spirit

Three Blogs and Three Blog Awards?

As some of you know, I run three blogs— where I post my daily 100-word stories and poems, where I post (almost) weekly Bible studies, and where I post… well… stuff. A little while ago I discovered that neat little “post options” button at the bottom left of the window where I write new posts. I post-dated a set of blog entries and set off to help my son move house. Now I’m back it seems, by some strange coincidence, that all three blogs have won awards in my absence. I’m suitably amazed and grateful, to Ruth, at for her abitosunshine award to my drabble blog Stan, at for the versatile blogger award—one that requires me to “ share seven things about yourself then pass it on to fifteen blogs you’ve recently discovered you enjoy ,” and Alina, at for “My blog is m

There and Back Again

I used to hear about, and read about, people doing serious road-trips, like crossing the United States from coast to coast. It sounded such fun, though of course, I never expected I'd get the chance to do it. Then our oldest son, recently graduated from medical school in Los Angeles, got ready for a move to Texas and invited us along. So, if you've been wondering why my blog's been so neglected and my comments so sparse (or non-existent) for the last week, that's where we've been. On Saturday we flew to Los Angeles and walked the beach and touched the sea. Then on Sunday we loaded the car with boxes and cases (people too) and set off. Buildings gave way to agriculture, to windfarms (quite a surprise), to desert and hills. I wanted to photograph every tall white cactus at the start, but soon I realized they weren't going to go away. Then I watched the scrubby bushes grow shorter and sparser as the land grew more dry. Breakfast in Los Angeles, lunch in Phoenix, di