Sunday, July 24, 2011


This weekend has been full of sadness.

We watched the news in horror as heartwrenching photos of dying children in Somalia were replaced by those of a bombing and a massacre in Norway. At present the death toll is 93, most of them adolescents attending a camp. As the mother of teens I can barely comprehend the enormity of this tragedy and its aftermath, it almost seems disrespectful to even write about something which will have such profound repercussions for so many families and my heart goes out to them.

Then there was the death of Amy Winehouse yesterday and as soon as it was announced the social media started to buzz about her well-documented issues. Some people had little sympathy for her. But in amongst this I started to think about her family, about how helpless they must have felt over the last years. Because addiction, whether to a substance or a person, is a destructive illness and like most mental health issues it is not something you can switch off at will, even with the best professional input. This seems to be a point missed by many. I know from personal experience that caring for and about someone with a mental health problem, knowing that there is little you can do to help, is one of the hardest things. We don't yet know the exact cause of Amy's death, but addiction and despair can hit anyone and they are certainly reflected in Amy's music.

So I don't think yesterday was, as some have complained, about the perceived value of one famous life over many young ones. It shouldn't be about glamourising or demonising addiction either. It should be about remembering both the numerous young lives lost before they'd hardly begun and a tremendous talent who will never be forgotten.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A gentle reminder

In case you hadn't noticed the badge in the sidebar, I'm doing the river of stones project again and you can find all my stones on a separate blog, small stones in a river.

Do pay me a visit there.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Writing update

You are probably wondering what has happened to novel two, as the word count doesn't appear to have risen in a long time.

Well the truth is that I forgot to update the word count meter. The novel was growing, slowly, but all the time it didn't feel quite right. A lot of thought, and a few random online conversations, convinced me that this one has to be a literary novel. I was trying to write commercial fiction, with a 21 year old main character fighting for attention with two older complex characters and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it just wasn't working. So I deleted novel two before I got to 10,000 words and I'm about to start again, with another woman as the main focus. It will still be the same three main characters and the same story, it will just have a different slant. Wish me luck.

In the meantime I have been turning my attention to writing and submitting shorter work ( both fiction and nonfiction) and developing potential commercial writing opportunities. I'm currently doing some pro bono work for a local charity, which I hope will eventually lead to more paid opportunities and I've created a page on my website for my business writing. I have years of past experience working with small businesses and charities, it seems silly not to try to combine that with the writing which is now my main career focus and I've been learning copywriting skills.

As for novel one, it is still out there. In the autumn, I shall take a decision about whether to stop submitting to agents and to send it instead to indie publishers or even consider self-publishing. I still believe there would be a market for it, but I also realise that certain aspects may need a little more work and I'd obviously be very happy to do that with proper guidance from an agent or publisher. In the meantime I'm somehow resisting the temptation to fiddle with what is a clean draft.

The summer holiday is nearly upon us and I'm just trying to remain as flexible as I can and not drop any balls. Which reminds me, I'm also now having to fit physiotherapy appointments and new exercises into my schedule...

Friday, July 08, 2011

Music for a rainy Friday

One of my favourite singers performing one of my favourite songs:

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Midwife's Confession - a review

I have to admit that until last Christmas, Diane Chamberlain had passed beneath my radar. This is somewhat surprising, since I like to write issue-led fiction myself and Chamberlain has been likened to Jodi Picoult, an author I have enjoyed reading for several years.

But then I spotted Diane Chamberlain’s novel The Lost Daughter in a Kindle promotion and I was hooked. So I was delighted when I was offered the opportunity to review the latest novel, The Midwife’s Confession for her current blog tour.

Noelle, Tara and Emerson had been best friends since their college days nearly two decades before. Noelle had followed her dream of becoming a midwife and delivered both Tara and Emerson’s daughters. But after Noelle’s shock suicide the women find a letter hidden in her belongings that turns their world upside down. They begin to realise that the passionate woman who had loved her job as a midwife and who seemed to embrace life, had lived with a legacy of guilt that had consumed her and that would ultimately change everything they had come to know about themselves.

The Midwife’s Confession is a rollercoaster read, seen from multiple viewpoints. Short chapters tell the story in the first person voices of Tara, Emerson and Tara’s teenage daughter Grace. They are interspersed with chapters disclosing the hidden parts of the story, told in the third person from Noelle’s point of view. As Tara and Emerson search for the truth about their old friend, secrets and lies are revealed in layers, like an onion being peeled back. At one point I thought I’d guessed the answer, but no, there were many more twists to come. The sheer pace of the narrative keeps the reader totally engrossed through 400 pages, though I did occasionally get confused by the number of minor characters. This may have been because I was reading so fast, eager to discover Noelle’s secrets.

Diane Chamberlain’s prose is smooth and very readable, and I’m looking forward to discovering more of her work. Her background as a psychotherapist shines through in bringing to life the complex psychological depths of female relationships, both between friends and mothers and daughters. I was truly left wondering how I would have reacted if Noelle had been my friend.

Diane Chamberlain, has been described as the ‘Southern Jodi Picoult’ and is the award-winning author of 19 novels. Her emotionally complex, powerful stories are born from a former career as a psychotherapist working primarily in hospitals with adolescents. With a keen desire to understand people, and themes that often explore the havoc wreaked on friendships and family by past actions, her characters are brought to life by moral dilemmas that challenge the reader’s assumptions.

Fully aware of life’s twists of fate herself, Diane was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and now has to type using voice recognition software. Diane’s UK debut, The Lost Daughter, was one of the bestselling fiction titles of 2009.