Sunday, 20 November 2011



There is so much in life to learn, that there is no way that anyone studying a particular subject could ever conclude that he or she has learnt it all. Far more those who are novices at the subject.

I for one have spent life learning new subjects all of my life, scratching the surface of some new and interesting topic. That makes me jack of many trades and master of none. A complete novice at most things I do. But one thing is for sure, I realise that life has a lot to offer, and I feel therefore that I must learn, and never stop learning. I am humbled every day at the deficiencies in my own knowledge, which in total is not even a pinprick in the universe of knowledge, and certainly not visible to the eye. I could never boast that I am an expert in anything. But I enjoy the process of learning.

I also realise that those who really do know, are the humblest amongst us, and are the ones who relentlessly pursue new research projects, mostly primary research, endeavouring to discover something new. Something that has a chance of being useful to mankind.

I just watched a programme on Channel 4 where Alan Buckley, the archaeological chemist, recently mummified the Torquay taxi driver who donated his body for medical and scientific research. Buckley has been researching the subject for eight years and this gave him the opportunity to try out his theories on a human. Mummifying as the ancient Egyptians did was a secret. No record or writings are found, which tells anything about what methods, chemicals or other substances they used in the process.

The programme was fascinating!

Saturday, 24 September 2011


I have decided to give some of my time to a very charitable cause.

Red Balloon Learner Centres, rescue severely bullied children who have removed themselves from mainstream school, because they can no longer cope.

Red Balloon Centres provide a safe leaning environment with specialist teachers, so that these children can study until they are ready to return to main stream school, take exams, or get a job.

The founder of Red Balloon Learner Centres set up the first school in her home in Cambridge fifteen years ago. There are six centres open at present in the UK.

Red Balloon is the only organisation in the UK to actually provide a academic tuition for the GCSE and A Level syllabus and exams, as well as counselling.

My time is spent in a most interesting way, and for a very useful cause.

I am involved in raising awareness of this Charity, but also involved with fundraising for this brilliant cause.

For more details and to donate -

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The New Novel

Since my return from Trinidad and Tobago I have got 1/3 of the new novel finished. To date, 27,483 words. All these are new words and do not belong to the start of the previous novel God of the Cocoa.

This WIP is called Granville Girl, or maybe, The Jeweller's Daughter. 
I'll have to see as time goes on....

It is about the dilemma of a devoted mother who is torn between traditional practices and modern ways of thinking. It is modern - 1919! Why does a mother arrange a marriage for her 10 year old daughter? It goes against all wants for her daughter, and she knows that she is breaking an understanding between them both. Why has she done it? And will it come to pass?

                                                   It is about arranged marriage vs education.

It is about new opportunities, or old traditions.

              It is about the diversity of religion - Hindu practices and Christian teachings.

It is about similarities in religion, and freedom of the individual.

                                             It is about childhood and innocence.

       It is about broken promises.

                     It is about the bond between mother and daughter.

       It is about the power of pride and shame in a family.

                            It is about truth and honesty.

It is about lying for a good reason.

                                                       It is about immaturity and innocence.

It is about abuse of vulnerable young people.

                        It is about growing to understand - maturity.

It is about the process of taking responsibility.

      It is about knowing when bad can be good, and good can be bad.

It is about making the biggest decision of your life.

                                           It is about friendships.

Monday, 5 September 2011


Deadlines are a really good idea. You might have one already imposed on you by an outside body, like dates for entry to competitions.

But self imposed deadlines are also effective. However, they should be realistic, otherwise they might not be achievable. They should be there to motivate you to reach the goal post, achieving the target, or at least close enough to the target.

A Birthday is a good deadline. If you have an important birthday, that can be a huge motivation to finish a piece of work by that time. But any birthday, yours or a close family member's birthday can also have a similar motivating effect.

My first attempt to write a novel, was completed within 13 months of a big birthday. At least I got the 120,000 words down. That was an achievement all by itself.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Since my post in June, I apologise for not writing my blog till now. However, I have steadily worked on what I call original novel God of the Cocoa. But it has strayed!!

Really what has happened is odd. I planned it out ... a new story. I plotted it out on A3 sketch paper. Then I decided to change my style a little after reading two novels which were similar in many ways. But I really loved them. They both used small detail to draw in the reader, and I became hooked into their world...both times.

Those two novels are:

Jamaica Inn, by Daphne du Maurier
Before the Earthquake, by Maria Ellen (a debut author)

I started my own writing, and the characters took over AGAIN. So I lost my plan!!

New things have happened. I have introduced some new characters. I have written 21,000 words of that novel, and apart from some of the familiar names, the story has changed. It could still work, but not really as God of the Cocoa. That is another story. This new story is another part of the same series of Cocoa novels. Starting earlier in the life of Latchmin, my Main Character.

I am thinking that I should change the title to Granville Girl. What do you think?

I'm not sure yet, but this new title seems to be taking root in my head.

Well, the characters have beaten me again.
I still can't plot and stick to it!
But, I've got quarter of the novel done in in 6 weeks, after being stuck for weeks. And that is with some pretty slow writing. I rarely get 1,000 words a day done, because I am editing hard in order to put it up on Authonomy as I go along.

That's it! I will continue, because I have a different deadline to meet by the last week in August.

Bye for now.
Thanks for reading my blog.
Marilyn x

Sunday, 19 June 2011


BEING STUCK as a writer is no fun. I will not be beaten though. There are many ways to overcome writer's block, but I've heard it doesn't exist! And here's why.....

All you have to do is keep writing! 


What I did recently was start a different writing project. I thought I could do a Young Adult novel quickly, if I do  2,000 words a day. This is what happened. I started well. I managed approx 2,000- 2,500 a day ....That lasted only a few days, before I ran out of steam. I have about 11,000 words of that done.

But I have already had 2 other projects on the go:

1. Deep in the Cocoa, to be edited ....again

2. A new version of God in the Cocoa, a prequel to the above.

So that I don't have to decide each day what to work on, I decided to work on one project for a full week. So every project would come round again every 3 weeks. OK!

That was working out fine.

I got bored again :(

I thought I might start something entirely new ...a Romantic Novel :))

That lasted for 2 weeks, and I have 15,000 words on that.

Now I have a total of 4 projects on the go properly. That is apart from all the ideas that I write down every day.

This week however, I have returned to one of my original projects, God of the Cocoa. I have planned, and replotted this version. It is totally new, and I am very excited. I am now working more-or-less to a planned plot. More or less!

I do find though that it is so easy for me to go off course...But it isn't my fault. It is the characters that take me wandering, I get friendly, and go along with them. Are they right, I wonder? Let's find out. And before long, I've added a few friends, because Latchmin, aged 11, was lonely.

But I have to ask myself the question, before I've wasted too much time writing their story. Shall I keep this, or delete it? Inevitably, I keep it, somewhere, because I might need it....sometime.

Friday, 13 May 2011


Holiday and Research in Trinidad and Tobago

I flew with Virgin Atlantic to the beautiful and unspoilt island of Tobago, and reunited with the island, family and friends for a week. With me was my 13 year old - daughter and assistant. (She had this title from the day I booked her on the flight, so that she had enough time to come to terms with my expectations of her. There is no such thing as a free holiday!)

We started our 3 weeks away in style, sunning ourselves in Scarborough, touring the island, and swimming in the crystal clear waters of Turtle Beach, Store Bay, and Pigeon Point. The food was to die for, and our taste buds titillated every day with curried crab and dumplings, cassava, dasheen and yams, Tobago style stew chicken, pigeon peas and rice, curry goat, chicken an beef, with roti.

Tobago is still very picturesque and unspoilt, but we had to leave for Trinidad after the first 7 days, where the research was waiting for me.Trinidad is the older sister of the two islands, the wealthy, industrial island, where the my books God of the Cocoa and Deep in the Cocoa were set.

The main reason for this trip was to do some face to face primary research in Trinidad, for the Cocoa Trilogy.

The trip was successfully, thanks to all those who helped. But I also wanted to get in some personal connections into my schedule, like meet up with old friends and long lost family, including the ones I had never met. And it happened! I managed to get friends and family also involved in my pursuit for finding people who didn't mind being interviewed.

They all did beautifully and I was busy from morning till night for 9 days, travelling up and down the island visiting places like The Temple in the Sea(left); a 93 year spritely old man with Carib, Indian, and Venezuelian heritage; The Murti in Waterloo (below), The Hindu Museum; and other interesting places and people. Although there was a lot more to do, I didn't have time.

It came as a relief to return to Tobago. We spent the next 6 days relaxing and reconnecting with family and enjoying the sun, sea, and waves breaking on the fine coral white sand. We took a trip out into the ocean in a glass bottomed boat to swim amongst the fish in the Coral Gardens, Buccou Reef, and the Nylon Pool miles out in the ocean. It was a sad day to have to leave, and I miss it every day so far.


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Second Book on Authonomy

I have put a few chapters of the second book on to the Authonomy site for a while.

DEEP IN THE COCOA, is the second of the Cocoa Trilogy.

Twelve year old Tara is one of the main characters. She is exploited by her parents who keep her at home to do housework, while her sisters go to school. But her grandmother, Bassandaye does not agree with this and encourages Tara to return to school. When this fails, Bassandaye comes up with a plan. But the first Tara's hears of this plan, is when Bassandaye has already arranged for her to visit the match boy's family. Yes! Tara's grandmother has reverted to Indian tradition and found her a match. But Tara is horrified. Her dilemma now, is either to accept this match, or return to school. Both choices are causing Tara problems. She is uncomfortable with school, as well as the prospect of an early marriage.

Take a look at it and post me a comment.

Marilyn x

Sunday, 20 March 2011


I don't always find it easy to edit. Sometimes I'm on a roll. But if the edit is about proof reading, it is amazing how often I can go through something and still miss out letters from words, leave out whole words, or leave in grammatical errors.

A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to send some work to an editor. These opportunities don't come every day. I had days to go through three chapters with a fine tooth comb, and re-do my synopsis.

What I did was cheeky. But I was amazed at how many people helped. I emailed people from my writing group, and my book group and asked them to go to the Authonomy site and check out the relevant chapters of Deep in the Cocoa, my second book on the site.

I had immediate responses from many. And some really good help in various ways. From typos, to where the narrator had her nose where it shouldn't be. Which was all most useful. It's so interesting to get this kind of feedback. And so helpful.

So, a huge THANK YOU to all you who helped, and who wanted to help but didn't have the time, as it was short notice. 

The lesson ? It pays to ask. 

Saturday, 12 February 2011


I find it so important to connect with other writers from time to time. It is like watering a plant, feeding it from time to time, nurturing it gently and watching it grow. Really. The benefit can be felt when spending an uplifting day with other writers. The buzz of inspiration and growth, turning to motivation for writing, and feeling the sense of soaring.

No writers block can penetrate this.

Keeping good company is an essential for writers.

Today, I spent the time with seven other writers - members of the Romantic Novelists Association. It was brilliant!

Thanks all.

Marilyn xx

Tuesday, 8 February 2011



I am the sort of person who likes to learn. If there is a course for the subject I am interested in, I will do it.

I've done courses galore! Fashion, Cooking, Art, Graphology, Psychology, Marketing, Business, Nursing, Law, Creative Writing, and others.

Recently I came across a very large group of writers, mostly unpublished, who really resented the idea that writing can be learnt. They believe that writing is a talent. You either have it, or you don't. They believe that it cannot be learnt, no matter what. I couldn't understand this.

I think the opposite. Sure it is always good to have some talent, but even that is a starting point. Having come late to creative writing, I really believe that writing a novel can be learnt. The "How to Write" books, the Creative Writing courses - casual and with qualification courses, writing conferences, have all taught me a great deal. But even those aren't enough.

Of course writing must be put into practice regularly. And continuous writing and dedication to getting to a goal, is necessary for improvement. When I return to what I wrote the first year, I'm embarrassed... in fact it is hard to return. Not that it was all that bad. In fact, I am often pleasantly surprised. But the style is different now - less formal, less jarred, less awkward.

However, something in those pieces of writing didn't always work. Sometimes the characters were lacking in something; the sentences were awkward; the dialogue was repetitive.

But what makes it difficult to write a full novel, is structuring.  Good structure, makes a novel hang well.... as well as well drawn characters, plot and dialogue.

Whether there is talent or not to start with, 
it is the Energy, Effort and Enthusiasm, and the willingness to learn from every source, that will make writing improve.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Help! I Need a Publisher!: CHECKLIST FOR GETTING PUBLISHED: "I believe that if you can say yes to all of these, you give yourself more chance of being published. Unfortunately, I can't guarantee that..."


This is an interesting and amusing piece from Nicola Morgan's blog. Please read it if you are interested in becoming published. It rings true ....amusingly true, if you feel the desperate pangs of hunger of becoming a published author.


Marilyn x

Friday, 14 January 2011

Don't be Afraid

I recently took part in a Forum on Authonomy about the Existence of God. Although I shouldn't be surprised, most people on the forum didn't believe in God, in any form. Nor did they believe in the Bible. That is fine. But what I found, was that they all stemmed from a basis of ignorance. I mean, they didn't know, but they argued as though they did know.

It is amazing how many do not believe in a God, because of the suffering of innocent people in the world, especially children. They think that God should intervene. Always. And some were using scriptural verses very much out of context, as if everything anywhere in the bible could be directed to any or us at any time.

It is also amazing that unbelievers believe that when good things happen, such as their children escape serious illness, or they escaped some accident, they attribute it to themselves, as good and able parents. However, if they fail, they attribute the failure and the bad things to God. They say, "If he was a good God he would allow evil to happen."

So many of us are unaware of God's promises to us in the Bible, and what he expects of us in order to inherit these things. What is more disheartening, is that so many are not interested. And so many confuse religion with the Bible.

However, I suspect, that there are many who do believe, but are not willing to stand up and speak out. I think that people should not be afraid to stand up and say that they do believe in God ... whether they can prove it or not. No one asks unbelievers to prove it. In fact, when they do try and prove it, it is as if it is a process of elimination ... as ridiculous as ..."well bad things happen, if there was a God, and he was a good God, he would not allow bad thing so happen. Therefore there can't be a God." As easy as that, the godless disprove God's existence.

But what we fail to ask is: 

What if there is a God, and he has already given us so much, why then would he continually intervene? 

Would we be able to find the answers we have found if he did? In science, in archaeology, in anything at all?

Because if he continually intervened, and wrecked any of the processes that even we put in place, we would never discover anything, how anything works, and everything would be topsy turvy. And it isn't. 

Think about it. Never stop thinking. Life is no accident.


Dear All,

It has taken me 14 days to get around to actually writing my blog....a strange two weeks since the start of the year. HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all. Better late than never! But it was nothing stranger than cobwebs of confusion in my mind.

Last Saturday I went to a Study Day, titled, 2011 Your Best Year Yet. I nearly didn't go because I thought that I was in no doubt as to what I had to do, or even how I had to do it. But I discovered by 4pm that day that I had no way of sorting out the wheat from the chaff, as it were, from hundreds of things I actually do. Which I do in no particular order of priority.

After a series of organised Mind Maps on separate pieces of A3 paper, we asked some probing questions about:








I came up with a review of my major focus for this year.

The Outcome, was a Best Year Plan, with my TOP 10 GOALS

10 might seem a lot, but it was difficult to choose ten! I had at least 20, so you can imagine how hard it was to strike out half of what I thought was important.

Believe it or not, they were things that I knew I needed and wanted to do or achieve, but they were buried amongst everything else, that they didn't stand a chance.

It was a most interesting and useful exercise! And I returned home feeling much brighter and lighter.

Maybe you could try it. Post me a comment if you're interested, or want to know more.

Best Wishes for this year

Marilyn xx