Thursday, 30 December 2010


Whilst I read for enjoyment, I also read to learn about good writing practices. I read, to see how to good writers write successfully. I read fiction to learn from good novelists. Much but not all of my enjoyment of a novel, comes trying to figure out how the author did it.


As a reader, I like to know Why? What? How? When? Where? etc.

What I mean is, that I like to know the REASON a character does what he does, behaves how s/he behaves. The Meaning? Any possible Reason. I think that the writer owes it to me, if I am spending my time  to read the book.

Yes, I like a good story, but I prefer one that does not leave me for a long time. I want one that has had an effect on my mind long after I have read the book.

I want to be able to say : -
"Oh yes, now I know why he likes cooking, and touches food the way he does on TV"

....or, "Oh! Now I understand that he is an angry man because ...."

or, "That's why he's so pernickety about his clothing."

 These reasons and meanings help me to see life through the eyes of the character. It helps me to empathize with him or her. It helps me to like, or understand behaviours, when necessary.

This is why I like to write this into my own writing. Because as a reader, I long for the writer to let me into the minds and lives of the characters. Without it, I feel the writing is empty.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010


28th December

My imagination is poor....which is a difficult for writing fiction...and more difficult to admit to it in my blog. Sounds an impossible situation! Mainly, it is poor, if I am to just create a world out of nothing, nowhere I'd ever been, seen or heard of, with people or beings, doing things I have never thought of or heard of. I suppose I could probably force a little imagination, but not enough for a whole book.

I find though, that I am better if I can start from a place, person or situation, that I do know, have heard of or have become interested in. What I have found, is that once I have begun writing, imagination becomes alive. And   the most curious thing can happen, when a character that I have created, takes over, and begins to do things or say things, that were not in my plot or in my head.

It is like being taken over by aliens, because it is a feeling of losing control...not always in a bad way, but in a magical way. I let it happen, and continue to write, led by the voice of the character. When I am finished, I will re-read it, and decide whether to cut it, or parts of it, or keep it. But this is not always easy, because I always wonder if the voice of the character should be kept instead of my own voice, which could sound stilted and unnatural in comparison.

I am writing the prequel of Deep in the Cocoa, which is the second of the Cocoa Trilogy, and I have found that throughout, my imagination has certainly been sparked on many occasions, from the humdrum of reality of the historical elements in the story... although not all the historical elements are humdrum. Some of it is horrific, some of it scary, some of it quite unpleasant. Too much is the latter. And I have had to use my imagination to create the pleasant from the horror.

This Christmas morning, my son asked his girlfriend of 7 years to marry him. It was a long awaited event...especially by the girlfriend. But it is because he wanted everything perfect. The perfect ring, and the perfect timing, when she was not expecting it. I think it got the desired result. Of that I am sure. Now, because I have a poor imagination, I am thinking, that this could be the perfect launchpad for me to write a romantic novel. In fact, it could be the perfect romance. But I am still struggling to write romance. Every time I begin, my hero or heroine goes off and does something that I cannot get them out of easily. But I will not let it deter me. I will continue to try. Whether the engagement will be the beginning or the end of the novel, I don't know. But I won't let it go to waste.

As it is said, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. I ought to take advantage of this opportunity...

Hope you had a Merry Christmas.

Best Wishes
Marilyn xx

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) Chapter Meeting, Birmingham

Barbara, Frances, Nancy, Annie, Sally and Anne. On Library  steps before lunch.
This Saturday was our RNA Birmingham Chapter Meeting. We are a small group and most of us try to attend although we come from various counties - Warwickshire, Worcestershire, West Midlands, Herefordshire,  Shropshire, and now Derbyshire. This meeting was the last one of the year, the one before Christmas, and most us managed to attend. We were joined by one new member which was lovely. We have one male member, Peter, who was missed at this meeting. He is our only male member, and really does add some balance to our chats on any topic, whether it is Dialogue, Romantic theme, or Character trait.

We usually meet on the steps of the Birmingham Library at 12 midday and proceed across to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for lunch, which usually lasts just over 2 hours. We had such a fine time chatting away this Saturday, so much so, that most of us left at 3pm!

After our lunch at the BMAG
This Saturday, I took over as Chapter Liaison person, from Frances, who has done a remarkable job for many years. Although I have been a member for most of the last seven years, I am not sure exactly what this role entails, but I am hoping to find out. I also hope that I will not do too bad a job. I know this sounds negative, but if I do, I hope someone will tell me about it.

Happy writing to all writers!

Bye for now

Marilyn xx

Friday, 12 November 2010


I apologise for my sporadic updates lately. Since I have been involved with the Authonomy site, it has overtaken my life. I promise to do better....

It isn't easy to become a brilliant writer of dialogue, but I continue to try.

As a reader, in order for dialogue to work for me, it has to at least propel the story - move it on - tell me something that is happening; that has happened but I didn't already know; something that might happen; indicate the reason why .... etc.

 If not, it should tell me something about the character who is speaking - their personality - something about what kind of person s/he is - kind, manipulative, honest, determined, angry, assertive, etc.

I get really fed-up when writers write pages and pages of pointless dialogue, such as :
'Yes,' he said.
'Really,' she replied.
'Of course,' he continued.
And so on.

An issue that has cropped up lately, since I have posted some chapters of God on the Cocoa on Authonomy, is the question of DIALECT, speech specific to the locality. I will stress that it was ONE comment out of the 130++ positive, and very complimentary comments posted by readers. But this one made me think. The person, a Trinidadian reader, thought that the language used by the villagers in God of the Cocoa, was not accurate, and therefore the novel would not be acceptable as a novel about Trinidad.

My response to that was that the novel is set in 1919. The language spoken by the indentured Indians in Trinidad at that time, would not be understandable even by the Indians in Trinidad today, let alone by the wider English speaking readership.

The language then would have been a mixture of Bhojpuri, an Indian dialect, but mixed with Patois with some broken English words. This would in no way be understandable to my reader today. Not even a little of it. But I have sprinkled in a few words here and there to give a flavour.

My point is, that within dialogue, it is possible to indicate that the characters uses a different language, dialect or has a strong accent, without exclude the readership. I have incorporated a few Hindi words, removed some of the personal pronouns, changed some of the sentences to sound more authentic, and think that that should suffice.

If the novel was set in France, an English reader wouldn't expect the dialogue to be in French, or French dialect. One or two French words can be used, maybe, to give some authentic flavour. But not so many so as to completely baffle or lose the reader, causing them to fling the book aside.

Too much dialect in a book can be extremely annoying to the reader, whatever nationality it is. And the right level of dialect is not always easily achievable. That was a difficult lesson for me to learn. I had to write over 150,000 words before I realised that.

Interestingly, in the first book, the one which will never see the light of day, I did give a more authentic voice to some of the characters,with a strong village dialect. But even that was not realistic, because it was more present day. Still, it would not have been easily understandable to the wider English speaking reader.

If you have a point of view on this, please post me a comment! I would love to hear from you.

Some revised chapters have been posted on the Authonomy site. The address is:

Bye for now
Marilyn x

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


This has the be one of the nicest ways to have pumpkin. It is absolutely delicious. There is, or can be a kick to it, if you include hot peppers i.e. chillies. But this is not necessary. It is good for children, and you too, as it contains lots of yellow/orange veggies. It can be creamed, just mashed, or served with big lumps.


(serves 4-5 people - as a main meal)

1 small pumpkin, or half a large one, cubed
1 large orange sweet potato, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
large handful corriander (fresh and chopped)
large handful parsley (fresh and chopped)
1 large tomato, chopped
1 small bird pepper (chilli), finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1 organic chicken stock cube
1 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
salt to taste (seasalt)
1 litre water

(optional - chopped chunks of boiled ham or gammon)


- Heat oil in a large saucepan
- fry onions till soft
- add pumpkin and fry for 2-3 mins
- add garlic, tomato, chilli, and fry fo a minute
- add half the water and let it boil for about 5 minutes
- add half the corriander, half the parsley and all the thyme
- cover and lower heat. Simmer for 10 minutes
- add sweet potato, stock cube, paprika and salt.
- turn down heat and simmer for another 15 mins
- add (ham), rest of corriander, parsley and water
- keep on low heat until cooked to taste
- mash roughly with a potato masher

Serve with warm white/brown seeded rolls

* This is not 'hot' even though it has one chilli pepper
* can be liquidised
* can be served with Creme Fraiche

Saturday, 23 October 2010


Serves 4
2 hrs cooking time

Beef Stew

1lb cubed trimmed shin of beef or casserole beef
2 parsnips, cubed
2 sweet potatoes chopped
4 med. carrots, cubed
1 large onion
4 med. potatoes, cubed
1 handful red lentils
2-3 handfulls frozen peas
1 veg organic stock cube(Kallo)
3 cloves garlic
3 sprigs fresh chopped rosemary
sea salt and pepper to taste
2 table spoons olive oil
about 1 pint water
(optional - add chopped fresh chilli. Or, whole for a little flavour, but do not burst)

For Dumplings
half pound Self Raising (org) flour
pinch salt, and water

Add salt to flour and knead into a fairly stiff dough.
Knead for 5 mins, so that it is smooth.
Cover with a damp cloth until ready to use

Method for cooking Stew

. Use a large iron casserole pan with a lid and heat oil.
.When oil begins to smoke, put in washed beef cubes and stir quickly with a metal spoon, making sure all sides of meat are sealed. Brownish, not burnt.
. Add crushed garlic, water and rosemary, and stir
. Cover pan and lower heat and simmer for an hour, or until meat is almost softened.
. Add salt, pepper and vegetable cube.
. Add vegetables
. Make sure there is enough water. Add more if necessary.
. Add red lentils and cook for another 15 mins.
. Re-knead dough, which should have soften now, in order to consolidate.
. Pinch bits and make small balls, about 1" in diameter, and drop into the boiling stew
. Stir gently and cover
. Simmer on a very low heat for another 20 mins.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


Although this is not a Caribbean Recipe, it is the one I have used for three Octobers in a row, when the apples are ripe, falling, and I feel, really, it is criminal to waste food.

This chutney has been extremely popular with family and friends who have had the delicious opportunity of tasting it. I say opportunity, because there have been times it is like gold dust. My son and his girlfriend have been known to fight over it. So when it comes to the end of stocks, I keep the last jar for them....even the last half jar!

It can be eaten with almost anything! Anything... even with a curry, as a replacement for mango chutney. It is also an accompanyment for anything cold - chicken, turkey, ham, meat pies, quiche, salads, cheese...etc.

My stepson has replaced his need for Branst... Pickle with Spiced Apple Chutney. Apparently this one is much better. It is a must have at Christmas too.

I have to admit now, that this recipe is more or less taken from Nigella Lawson ...who is not adverse to taking recipes from somebody I'm passing this one on, tweeked here and there by me.

ALSO. It is a crime to waste apples. So here it is. Go make!


600g cooking apples
1 large onion
2 bird's eye red chillies
250g demerara sugar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 heaped tablespoon chopped or grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon tumeric
350 mls cider vinegar

4 x 250 ml jars

Peel and roughly chop the apples.
Finely chop the onion.
Seed the chillies,, and chop them finely.
*(Use gloves, or be careful to wash hands properly before touching eyes)

Use a large heavy stainless steel pan, and place all the ingredients in.
Bring to the boil.
Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 40-60 mins, or until the mixture thickens to required thickness. If you want it not so runny, keep simmering could take another hour, but do NOT allow it to stick in the pan.

Taste. If you prefer more salt, add up to another half teaspoon.

Sterilize jars. The easiest way is to wash them and place them in a tray in the oven at 180C for about 15 mins.

Allow the mixture to cool very slightly, and spoon into the jars. Close with lids, and tighten again when almost cool.

Label with date. This can be stored in a cool place, and will last for many months.
Only refridgerate when opened.

NB. Vinegar - Cider vinegar gives a more mellow flavour. But you can use Malt vinegar which gives a sharper flavour. I do a batch of each, and I have found that many people prefer the one made with Malt vinegar.

This is a very satisfying process. Enjoy.....and make another batch. Remember Christmas!


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Authonomy Race

Dear Followers, and All others,

I am very aware that I have not paid any attention to you and my blog for a number of weeks .... well all of September! And for that I am very sorry. However, I have been thinking of you, REALLY.

So much has suffered since I joined the Authonomy site, because of it's addictive nature, and the race to get my book on the Editor's Desk at Harper Collins. My editing has taken a back seat, but I must, must slow down and tackle what is most important.

Authonomy, is a website run by Harper Collins, in order to divert authors away from sending manuscripts directly to them in the post. This website in itself is a very good idea. However, it is questionable as to the outcome for any particular author. Involvement feels like an adiction - as if I were involved in gambling. But instead of gambling money, the author is gambling time. Precious time. But to take a break, means that one's ratings slip, both individual ratings, as well as book ratings.

So, here it is. I put some of my book on the Authonomy site. Any amount over 10.000 words.
I have 8 chapters of God of the Cocoa - 31,000 + words, at the moment.

Any member can: Read it, Back it, or put in on their Watchlist.

They can also Comment, and send a message to the author.

All of these bring points to the book and the author/member.

If and when the book reaches the top 5, out of all 7,000+ books on the site, it will be looked at by a Harper Collins Editor. That is the aim of the author.

This takes place at the end of every month. So the race is on for October!!!

God of the Cocoa, has been on the site for 4 weeks, and it has been doing remarkably well in the scheme of things, but it needs more people to back it.

In the Weekly ratings, it has been up at No 4, in the Historical genre, No 7 in the Literary genre.

But that doesn't matter. It needs to rise to the top 5 in the Overall ratings.
At the moment it is at 1236, out of the 7,000+ on the site.


I would be eternally grateful to you for this!!!

Don't forget, I value your support as well as your feedback, even if you don't like something, I've written, for any reason, please tell me.

Here is the link.


Marilyn xxx

Monday, 30 August 2010

Fourth Edit

I am calling this last edit the fourth edit, because mostly, I am hoping it is the last! Certainly it was the worst, and most horrendous and harrowing of all the edits so far. I did a green inked one, and a red inked one on the printout. This latest edit is the third and fourth put together. Re-reading almost 125,000 words on screen and trying to make corrections from the previous two paper edits, as well as trying to cut 5,000 words, was not easy to do in one go. So I am pleased to have finished. But I had to almost tie myself down to the chair for 3 days in order to complete it! I am disappointed however, that I did not manage to cut the whole 5,000. But I did manage to cut almost half of that... which is an achievement.

Now I am suffering from some kind of blankspaceinthebrain, and I am unable to think through a plot for a short story I would like to write. Maybe I need a rest. But I am anxious to get on. Also, after that spell on editing God of the Cocoa, I am about to re-start Out of the Cocoa... which is not very far gone really, because I have been distracted ... writing related mainly. But with other things related to home, family, summer hols, and other things like the Indo Caribbean Conference, as well as the RNA Conference.

I must leave my manuscript God of the Cocoa, for a few weeks at least, then do a last edit for any last changes, typos, etc.

Tomorrow is another day. I will make an effort to sit in front a computer, blank or not, and try to write. I will not allow the dreaded writers block to take hold.

Monday, 16 August 2010


Characters should have personality...

A Head that thinks

A Heart that feels

A Body that's seen

A Voice that's heard

A Spirit that lights their path


Saturday, 14 August 2010


Firstly, it is important to begin with confidence. Remember NO ONE knows that you are writing, or what you are writing about. Best to keep it that way until you want to tell or enlist someone for research purposes.

Reason? Many will say something to put you off....without meaning to. People are really good at that ... call it jealousy, control, ignorance, or dontknowhowtokeepthegobshut sort of people. Even people who you should be able to trust. Remember most people know nothing about creative writing.

Secondly, when word gets out, and people make comment that you are not comfortable with, just smile and ignore it/them. Thank them even. At this stage, it can be ever so easy for people to discourage you...knock you off your perch. 

Thirdly, remember that Rome wasn't built in a day, nor did Shakespeare write his works in a day. It's hard to write, live in the world, and keep it a secret too .... it's as if you are doing SS assignments, and having to hurry up with it as well. But you have to allow for this. It WILL take time.

Fourthly, NO writing is wasted. Most good tutors and writers will tell you this, but there are a few who will say otherwise. Take no notice. I heard someone saying that if you do not finish a piece of work/book/story, to the end, you are setting yourself up for failure. I do not believe it. It depends on the work, though.

If you are struggling with that novel or story, or realise that it is heading no where, or you are putting all your energies into another piece of work, then you are doing the right thing by abandoning it, at least for the time being.

I repeat, no writing is wasted. If you have to cut out pieces because it doesn't fit into that project, book or story, cut it out and keep it. You might want to used it elsewhere.

Lastly, keep writing. write every day. It's the only way to keep your hand in, as it were, and your mind focussed. Just keep writing.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Crete 2010

Dear All

I've been away for some time, both from my blog and from the country. I might not have wanted to, but I needed to. Now I'm back!

Sometimes things we take for granted, can just take you by surprise and blow you away. All I expected was some time to relax somewhere warm. But Crete just took me by storm. I had never before been anywhere near Greece or the Greek Islands, neither did I spend too much time thinking about it.

What a place though! So much to see, so much to do, so much to learn. So ancient. Evidence of civilization up to 7,000BC. The place is so full of most interesting archeology, history and myths. I like to learn something new when I can, but I was bowled over, to realise that places that I visited, ruins that I stood in, ground that I walked, was ground where people like the Apostle Paul walked and Titus in the New Testament

I didn't know that the ruling power of Grece was in Crete 2,000 BC, at the time of the Minoan civilization, when the mythical King Minos forced Athens to pay its taxes in blood, by sending their young men and women to Crete (to be offered to the mythical Minotaur, half man, half bull, to be devoured).

The clean air, clear seas and white/golden sands was more than refreshing, and reminded me of parts of the Caribbean - Tobago in particular.

The traditional food is just my sort of thing - a lot of slow cooked lamb and beef. The fish so fresh, and simply cooked over charcoals. Prawns the size of bananas...I am not joking.

For breakfast - thick Greek yoghurt and honey, followed by fetta cheese with olive oil and herbs, on fresh soft brown bread or yellowish white loaves.

The skies were so blue, the seas were so torquoise, the days so warm ... in fact they were a little too hot - over 40C at times. But July is the hottest month. But to compensate, the Cretean people are among the nicest, friendliest people I have ever come across....a bit like the Welsh without the nosiness.

Crete, I think has to be the perfect setting for a romantic novel. The mountains and the rocky terrain, contrast with the cozy coves overlooking the cliffs, and the gentle and most handsome of folk. The men all look like Perseus or Zeus... I suppose they created their gods in their own image. But it is definately the place to write a romantic novel? I keep wondering if I could. First I must read some.

Definately a place to visit. I will no doubt go again.

See you soon.

Love Marilyn xx

Thursday, 8 July 2010

8th July 2010

Hi All

Another hot, dry day. It's been warm and dry for weeks it seems. It feels like a Mediteranean holiday. I have done little writing in the last week, as I have been rushing around getting ready for the Romantic Novelists Association Conference in London tomorrow, Friday to Sunday. And then two weeks holiday.

I'm looking forward to the Conference... the holiday too. But being with other writers would be good for me. I am hoping to return with lots of fresh new ideas and spark....but then I go off on holiday for two weeks. I will write something then... notebook and pen jobby. I hardly ever switch off from ideas for new plots in my head.

Will be in touch when I return.

Marilyn xx

Sunday, 4 July 2010

4th July 2010

On Beginning to Write ....

If I say to someone that I am writing a novel. They say...'Oh I wouldn't know where to start.' Starting is easy. It is also the most important part. If you don't start you haven't a chance.

Start writing with the first sentence.


The first sentence is a very good place to start.

Without the first sentence, you can't write the second sentence, or the third, and so on ...

All it has to be, is what comes into your head. If you don't like it later, well, you can always change it. By then you will have a feel for what you want to write anyway.

The First Sentence, could be :

- Anything. Absolutely anything.
The dogs were barking and I couldn't get up to go to the window.

- Something someone is saying...dialogue.
'We need to get this Carnival float finished by next week,' Alister said.

- Something someone is doing
 Penny ran towards the road as though she would never stop. 

- Description of the place - smell, sound, sight, taste, feel.
The evening was dim, and the smell of the salt in the ocean hung on to every remaining beam of light that fell inside the pink painted veranda of the small wooden house, that stood solitary, overlooking the rugged drop of the cliff  to the sand beneath.  

- Something shocking - part of the plot
As Jeffery unlocked the door of the room where the children slept, he heard the swish of curtains, a rush of wind into the room, and a thump inside his chest.

- A sense of place or time
It was August thirteenth, midday, and there we were, standing on the Spanish Steps, in Rome, again. 

It really doesn't matter. You can always change it ... anytime. Even right at the end.

The first sentence could be short, medium or long. Whatever you feel like.

The important thing is, if you ever thought you wanted to write. Just start. Then continue doing some every day if you can.

Best of luck

Bye for now

Marilyn x

Friday, 2 July 2010

2nd July 2010

Dear All

I've just spent two days at the Indo Caribbean Conference at the University of Warwick. It has been an extremely stimulating experience, where I have learnt so much about the variety of elements of Indian life in Trinidad. The religion, festivals, music, film, the history of these, and aspects of them in modern life, and their role, were of particular interest. It was good to have these creative elements of life included in the Conference, as well as the academic and historical studies. Although I really enjoy the academic bits more.... it is a saves me researching it myself, the creative bits give me that other dimention useful in depicting life in fiction as more three dimentional, and real.

Importantly, however, I have met some really interesting people, some good people to keep in touch with, and some very friendly fellow Trinidadians and other people from all parts - Guyana, Mauritius, Toronto, California, London, Leeds, New York, India, Germany, and those based at Warwick Uni.

The team at Warwick University were brilliant with the organisation too. Everything ran on time, the refreshments were excellent, and of course they were most hospitable.

Well., I am tired out! So I will continue this another day.

Bye for now

Marilyn x

Thursday, 24 June 2010

24th June 2010

Hi All

Just posted the last installment of Chapter One of God of the Cocoa.

Let me know what you think.

In order to get this book published, I would like to know if you would be interested in reading more.

I would love to hear what you think.

Did you find it  - Informative? Intriguing? Or not. Needing more historical elements? Or less historical?

If you found it lacking in dialogue, it is because the back story needed to be told at this point. But the rest of the novel contains a great deal more dialogue.

To post a comment, go to News and Comments - and click on any page. Navigate your mouse down the page, to "comments" just under the post, and click. A white box will appear. Write your comments or questions in the box. Click "publish" to send it. That's it. It will appear on the post and you can read it.

Thank you for reading my blog so far, for all your direct emails, and your comments on the blog itself, and to those who follow me on twitter.

If you wish to follow me on twitter, the address is

Keep watching. I will be posting more soon.

Bye for now

Marilyn x

Saturday, 19 June 2010

19th June 2010

Hi All

Hope you have been enjoying the first half of Chapter One of God of the Cocoa. I realise I have not been paying attention to the recipes. In the Tasty Caribbean Cooking page, I have posted a new recipe, which is based in an Indian way of cooking Aubergine. Roasted Aubergine. (Also known as Egg Plant, Melongine, Biagan, depending on where you live.) It is a healthy dish, as well as tasty, and well worth trying. And, easy to prepare.

Roasted Aubergine, also known as Baigan Choka, by the Indians in Trinidad, would have been a dish that they would have prepared in God of the Cocoa. They would have roasted the aubergine it over a chulha, an earthern fireplace, in the kitchen....described in the novel.

Post me a comment if you like it, or ask a question.

Bye for now,

Marilyn x

Thursday, 10 June 2010

10th June 2010

Thursday 10th June 2010

Hi All

Today I have posted another installment of God of the Cocoa, Chapter One.

I hope you are enjoying it so far. I know that some of you are intrigued and want to know what is going on with the couple Rajnath and Latchmin. Please be patient. Their story is unfolding. But it is important to understand some of their background first, and some of the culture to which they belong, as well as something of the new family which Latchmin has joined.

For those who already know something of the Indian culture at that time, I hope you are enjoying reading about it. Many readers have no idea about the culture, and are quited intrigued, so I am pleased to oblige.

As I have been asked to give more detail about the culture, the wedding, the journey, etc, I will put some more info on the Topic Pages. But to see an Indian wedding, Alison B, you really need this to become a film!

Also, this is the first of three novels, so a lot will be covered in them through the story without weighing you down too heavily all in one go.


* Click on "comments" at the bottom of any of my posts where comments have been posted, and that will bring them up.


* Click on the latest "News and Comments" section on the right hand side, and scroll down until you see a brown pencil below the post.

* Click on the brown pencil.
A white box will come up.
Write your post.
You can preview it and correct it.
Then click on Publish to publish it.


Bye for now

Marilyn x

Thursday, 3 June 2010

3rd June 2010

Hi All

I've posted another installment of Chapter One on the Topic Page. The back story is over, and Latchmin is at the home of her in-laws. Is she having fun?

Traumatic or what!

Read it and post a comment.

See you later
Bye for now
Marilyn x

Monday, 10 May 2010


Friday 14th May


I've been writing a few first paragraphs send to a competition. I'ts not always easy to draw in the reader into the world I wish to create... to do it with intrigue, as well as a feel of time and place, and make them want to continue to read on ...till the end, but at least the first chapter. The end of each chapter will take care of itself...I hope!

The first line is important. It could be a real puller line,or some other hook that will hold interest.

Sometimes a description, a painting of words of some background...familiar, or far away...the heat of the desert, or the cold of the Antartic...the time - a low lit evening, or a pitch black night.

It could be something intriguing or shocking.

One of the most intriguing first lines I have read recently, that have made me want to read more is from
A Golden Age, by Tahmima Anam. It reads:

Dear Husband,
I lost our children today.

This first line is not just intriguing, it is shocking for someone to lose their children. You wonder in what circumstance?

It was a most intriguing book.

The first line of God of the Cocoa is:

1. When Rajnath Kamalsingh married Latchmin, he was seventeen and she was twelve.

However, I am toying with an alternative first line:

2. When Rajnath finally married, both his parents were relieved.

Which one is better? Please post a comment and let me know what you think.

Bye for now...

Monday 10th May 2010


Today I have been writing a short piece of 900 words on the topic of "idleness". Although this word conjurs up feelings of negativity, it is an autobiograpical piece of writing, and therefore for me, definately not negative. I strive to achieve positivity in life. I have had to dig deep in my memory to find somewhere where "idleness" wasn't all bad, and I chose a period when I was a young mother and housewife. Being a housewife with young children, can be construed by some, as a period where idleness of the brain can develop and grow, but it was a time when I turned that "idleness" into building a business, and later, a limited company.

The idle mind is not necessarily the "devil's workshop" when it is mixed with creativity, vision, pride, and determination.

"Idleness" can be turned from its rawest form, into something interesting, worthwhile and positive.

To build two Limited Companies in design and manufacturing, from a base of "idleness", doodling, trial and error and a few steep learning curves, needs all of the following :
confidence, and
a huge amount of obsession, to see it through.

Marilyn Rodwell

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


21st April 2010

Because of the poor living conditions and little access to medical care, healthcare was an issue. The most vulnerable were children and babies, even at birth.

Rajnath and Latchmin did not escape this. But how did they cope? 

Is it easier to cope with death if there is more of it around? If others are also suffering from loss? Is it easier to come to terms with it? Is life as precious when life expectancy is low? Or is it easier to dispense with it? Do poor people suffer the same as the rich? Some of the answers might seem obvious in writing, but do we give it a thought in real life?

God of the Cocoa illustrates how the Kamalsingh family coped, and didn't cope, how they reacted, how it affected each one of them, how they carried on, and what remained with them.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


20th April 2010

Two edits done. Now putting all changes into computer. Finding it not as easy as it seems. Finding myself re-reading a lot of it, so time consuming and doing another edit, a third one. Trying to find more words to cut which is not easy without cutting out possibly important bits. A lot of concentrating.

Oh well! It's still all progress.

27th April 2010

I'm getting distracted with too much in my diary. Went to Hereford today to meet new writerly friends. Beautiful day for a long drive.

About the EDITING!
I think I'm getting a handle on it, although advice from others has been to ...

leave it for a few weeks to a six months!

I'm plodding on though with it anyway. I'm too impatient. I'll do this third edit then I'll leave it.

Had some wonderful news today. Will see an old school friend from thousands of miles away, soon.

Better get on.

5th May 2010

Took a little break from the third edit, which is putting the first two edits into the computer, but reading it through to make sure it all makes sense. That was driving me nuts!

Took a break to write submission letter and synopsis, etc

Back to MS. Found that Chapter Nine - Tara's Fate Sealed, is in need of cutting badly. Much of it is really surplus to requirements, and I could do with losing some words.

I am rewriting Chapter 9, and really enjoying it. Haven't really written for some time, so loving it.

This twittering business is really taking up time. But I have been engaged in a number of very useful and interesting discussions on Linkedin.

Bye 4 now!

Sunday, 11 April 2010


11.April 2010

Trying to think of the ending for my next novel. If I know Where it ends, I can wade through the bushes to work out How it ends.

12. April 2010

Knowing the outcome can be key to figuring out where to begin...but not always

15th April 2010

The Last Chapter ... has to be as important as the first, if not more. It has to stop asking questions and make sure that all questions posed are answered. This makes a complicated plot tricky, because you don't want to spoil the intrigue and blurt it all out in one go.

Final pieces of the plot must unfold, and twists must be revealed in the right order.

I am also trying to keep a decent pace, not too slow, but not break neck speed.... tricky!

Also, should ALL the questions be answered? Does the reader appreciate being left in mid air? To answer the question on their own ...whatever they think? More than one ending?

I have such an issue with God of the Cocoa.

18th April 2010

The second edit is finished, at last! Next I have to put all the changes into the computer. I have added a new beginning, so it is now 411 pgs. But not sure about the new beginning. I have to think about it, maybe get used to it.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

FOOD - 10th April 2010


Makes 4 portions

6 ozs brown or white basmati rice
1pint water
1tsp tumeric
half tsp onion salt
1 tsp parsley
Kallo chicken or vegetable stock cube
2tblsp olive oil
two handfuls frozen peas (optional)
1 med grated carrot (optional)

Use a heavy/iron frying pan with a lid.
Heat pan and add oil. Add rice dry (do not wash)
Stir rice till opaque. Do not let it go brown or stick to pan.
Add water
Add all other ingredients and stir
When it comes to the boil, cover and lower heat very low to simmer.
Remove lid after about 15 mins and check that it is simmering, and adjust heat if needed
Stir and cook for about 30mins in all
Remove lid and stir.
If water has not been absorbed but rice is cooked, leave open and let rice dry out a little.
If rice is not cooked but no water left, add some boiling water and cover for another few minutes till cooked

Thursday, 8 April 2010

8th April 2010

Got distracted by the day. Such a lovely day today...

but ...back to the editing ...Tara is becoming her own young fifteen...

standing up for herself...

decided she won't get railroaded into something that will change her life forever, and make her into somebody else's slave.

She has decided.

And it looks like she is set to stick to her guns...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

7th April 2010

Editing The Match Meeting chapter

Trying hard to shorten this chapter, as it goes on too long about Tara's thoughts and feelings. Not enough action going on... Trying to work out how important this prose is. Came across some amusing bits though, which breaks up the seriousness of the intention for an arranged marriage.

Came across a hole in my plot! Must move a whole chunk to somewhere else. Must go!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

God of the Cocoa

This is my current Project.

My main character Rajnath, works in the cane field in Trinidad 1935, for 25c a day. He is finding it hard to make ends meet, with a young family. He is bad tempered at home and subdued at work. Typical! Is he a coward? Maybe, but smart. Because the work environment is more akin to the days of slavery. Same mentality. One wrong move and you're punished. Not even a wrong move and you lose half your pay.

Copyright Marilyn Rodwell 2010

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Trinidad, West Indies

This section is about TRINIDAD and the background to my "Cocoa" books. Some of the issues and information include:

- How people got from India to Trinidad in the mid 19C,
- That today they make up almost 40% of the population,
- How they struggled to make a living and endured great hardships, poverty, ill-health and injustices
- How they dreamed of escaping their difficulties,
- About how they actually fulfulled their dreams.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Out of the Cocoa

I just wondered if any of you know anyone whose ancestors went from India to the Caribbean?

Do you know how they got there? And why they went?

I think that there must be a lot of you out there who have some ideas around this subject, but there are a so many who had no idea that there are even any Indians in the Caribbean. I recently met a college history lecturer who has written thirteen historical novels, but never knew that there were Indians in the Caribbean. He was intigued, very curious and wanted to know more.

I remember that my great grandmother said that her mother was stolen as a child, from her village, and put on ships and taken to Trinidad.

So, I am really interested in knowing if you have any stories or info to share.

Check out the comments.