Left on the shelf(ie)

Second chance tea shop sainsbury's cover (1)

Life has rather taken over for the past few weeks and I’ve not written much in this blog. However, I couldn’t let this week pass without making reference to the fact that my first novel, The Second Chance Tea Shop, is now on the shelves in Sainsbury’s supermarket stores nationwide.

When I got the email from my lovely editor a few weeks back, I squeaked until Bertie the Weimaraner thought I’d gone quite mad. Then I squeaked some more, pretty much until the rest of the family came home. Although e-book sales are where it’s definitely at in terms of numbers, and the digital version has been the driver of the book’s sales figures so far, being able to walk into a shop (and a major supermarket, no less), and see The Second Chance Tea Shop on the shelf, in the chart, is such a thrill. And the paperback is GORGEOUS! Pretty, pretty colours and an embossed front jacket mean I spent the day I received them through the post just looking and stroking it (oh, and that new book smell, of course!).

So how does it feel to have a book on the shelf in a shop? Pretty much like when the agents requested full manuscripts, offered representation, the publishers did the same, the book went up on Amazon, I got my first reviews…it’s tummy tinglingly exciting (even if some of the teenagers I teach are still resolutely unimpressed by it all!). It does still feel a bit unreal, though – like it’s happening to her, not me. My alter ego, the one with the tidier, more stylish house; the slimmer one; the one with the better wardrobe. I kind of have to remind myself that she is me (she still feels like a separate entity, at times).

Friends and family have been really kind, and snapped shelfies of the book in situ in Sainsbury’s, which feels amazing. I’m so grateful to everyone who’s taken the time to ping them over to me. I think I’ve reached the four corners of the country, now! One of the nicest was from an old school friend, who took a picture of it in the Sainsbury’s in the town where I grew up. It felt lovely to know a part of me was back there :).

Oh, and I also reached the Bestseller ranks on Amazon Australia a couple of weeks ago, which was hugely exciting. That little orange banner next to my book was such a coup!

There is something else I’m hoping to go public with in the next few weeks, but for now, I’ll leave it at that. Not bad for a summer holiday, really ;).



Galactosaemia and POF 

A really powerful and emotional post from my friend Emma about her condition. Links in post for anyone who might be able to help. Much love, lovely lady xxx


I was born with a rare genetic metabolic disorder called galactosaemia. I didn’t really ever know that much about it growing up, only that I had to stick to a strict milk free diet for life, and people said it sounds like ‘intergalactic’, which made me feel unique. Especially when I didn’t know anyone else who had it. Galactose is a sugar found in milk. It gets broken down by an enzyme and released by the body. People with galactosaemia do not have this enzyme so the poisonous galactose stays in the body, causing damage to vital organs. Babies born with galactosaemia might suffer from liver disease, cataracts and brain damage. For this reason it is essential that milk is completely removed from the diet immediately after diagnosis.

Galactosaemia can cause long term complications even if it the diagnosis is made quickly, due to damage caused in the womb. Children…

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The day has come…

Today is the day I’ve been fantasising about for months (and, after six weeks of having my lovely daughters with me virtually 24/7, dreamed about!). My youngest daughter has gone to school for the first time. And I feel so, so weird.

I know I’ll get used to it; after all, having a good chunk of alone time three days a week to write book 3 of Little Somerby, and reclaim some of the things I’ve been promising myself (take more exercise, keep the house tidy, walk the dog solo, read more, etc etc) is a luxury a lot of people don’t get. And I’m sure, by Thursday (my next day at home), I’ll have a plan and a list of things to do. But for today, I’ve basically eaten toast and biscuits, listened to the radio and felt quite sad. I also had a lovely post school run breakfast with some friends in the same boat, which definitely helped a lot, and might just become A Thing.

It wasn’t like this with daughter #1; I knew she was ready, and actually, because I still had daughter #2 at home with me, I wasn’t alone. But seeing #2 walking in, clutching the hand of her Year 5 buddy for the first time…I didn’t cry, but I just felt, I don’t know…redundant. After four years of having two days a week at home with her, it feels like an ending.

This, of course, I’ll get over; probably the second I pick her up and the “Muuummmmmeeee!” starts again. But it’s been a funny old day without her. With just me, the dog and Radio 5 live for company (can’t live without 5 live!). I shall allow myself just one day of melancholy; Thursday will be planned, executed and productive. But for today, I shall be sad. It’s the end of an era.

Friends and Family

So looking forward to hearing about my friend Nerys’ travelling adventure with her family! ❤ ❤ ❤

A Family Learning to Live Outside the Lines

Before I get started with proper travelling blogs (the next one will be about our first week travelling in Hong Kong ) I wanted to maybe make more of a statement with this one about how we have arrived at this point as a travelling family.

We wanted to say thank you to all of our friends who have helped us get to the point where we have left the country with a house packed up for rent and pets and belongings dispersed far and wide. So this is for all for you …. x

First of all, we want to say thank you to all of those who have taken part in the many send offs we have had – Early Hen Do’s, Coldplay concert’s, BBQ’s, drinking sessions and Last Suppers. We thoroughly enjoyed them all and although they may have delayed us in our packing plans so that…

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Art Imitating Life…

Anyone who’s read The Second Chance Tea Shop will know that I set the novel in very familiar surroundings. The village of Little Somerby might be fictional, but it’s very much grounded in reality. The Strawberry Line, part of the railway track that was shut in the 1960s by Dr Beeching, runs alongside Little Somerby in the novel, and in reality it does actually run through the village where I live. Anna’s Little Orchard Tea Shop is based loosely on The Pantry, and the geography of Carter’s Cider is, to all intents and purposes, based on Thatchers Cider in Sandford.

There are other nods to real life things and places, of course, but as I was trawling through my photostream earlier, I found some pictures of another object that plays a part in the novel; and here it is:


I couldn’t resist including this car as Jack’s pride and joy, since it belonged to my grandfather, and now resides with my brother. He’s looking after it for me for when I claim ownership ;). And believe me, it sounds as good as it looks when it starts up!

The Second Chance Tea Shop is available  in the links below, but if you want to whet your appetite, and find out exactly where this beautiful car fits into the story, here’s an extract:

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 10.00.21

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2ly3YQC



Recently I got book 2 of Little Somerby back from my lovely editor at Aria, and I’m currently embarking on putting her feedback into action. It’s been  bit of a journey back into the book, as I got totally wrapped up in writing the early sections of book 3 at the end of June, but I’ve whacked on the book 2 playlist, cracked my knuckles (and my neck, which is suffering a bit with all the desk work at the moment) and gone in.

This got me thinking about my approach to edits and rewrites. And I’ve realised that I do have a process, of sorts. Firstly, I read through my editor’s comments, and then I skim through the manuscript, look at the marginalia that she’s written and do the odd tweak here and there. It’s nice to start with the easy stuff! If there are repeated words, light inconsistencies or a misplaced phrase, I pretty much action those on the first read.

Then the real work starts. At the moment, after a really useful brainstorm with my agent, I’m writing the new bits for the book. Since I write my novels out of sequence anyway (hey, I can say ‘novels’ now – that’s cool!), I like to write the scenes as they occur to me, and then slip them into the MS at a later stage. This also helps me to get a feel for where things need to be developed (some positive character development needs to occur, so I’m working on that at the moment). These scenes are all rather disparate at they’re written, but I know I’ll find a place for them when I go back to the whole MS. I also write them back in Scrivener, as it’s far too overwhelming for me to work on the Word document of the MS at this stage – I can never see the wood for the trees!

After this, I’ll go back to the MS and think about threading through some lines and paragraphs for plot development. One thing I’ve learned a lot about over the time I’ve been writing novels (yay, there it is again!), is that you need to do a little bit of shadowing and signposting, and this can often be sprinkled in later, if the major plot developments are already there. I know already what needs to go in, it’s just a case of finding exactly the right spots to use it.

From there it’s read, read, read, until I’m sure it all makes sense. It’s hard to do this on the same screen I edit on, so I tend to export to Kindle and pick up errors that way. When I’m happy with the amended MS, I then ping it back out to readers (often, those who’ve read the first version) and wait for feedback.

So that’s my process – would love to know yours!

#TWGGetsTalking – How to tell the difference between being nasty & being constructive #reviews

And this, darling TWG, is why you rock as a reviewer ❤ . So happy to have been reviewed by you this year, and here's to reading many more of your lovely, well thought out reviews 🙂 xxx

The Writing Garnet

Twg gets talking
You should all know by now that I like to talk, ESPECIALLY when I am passionate about something and believe that it needs to be spoken about.

Once again, opinions have been thrust into the limelight and definitions have been questioned. Before I explain further, I’m just going to paste the Oxford dictionary definitions of two words; nasty, and constructive.

Nasty:very bad, or unpleasant.
(definition of unpleasant is: Causing discomfort, unhappiness, or revulsion; disagreeable.)

Constructive: Having or intended to have a useful or beneficial purpose.

constructiveTwo completely different word with extremely clear definitions, yet people are still getting confused by the two words.


As a reviewer, I have always been made aware that authors (or anyone who gets critiqued) tend to appreciate CONSTRUCTIVE reviews as opposed to NASTY reviews. With both types of reviews your opinion is given – that is NOT the issue…

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