Friday, 6 December 2013


This week I have the pleasure of interviewing author, Alison May. She has just this week published her first novel with the publisher Choc Lit. Alison is also a writing tutor. Here she is to tell you all about herself, and answer the questions I put to her.

About Me

I was born and raised in North Yorkshire, but now live in Worcester with one husband, no kids and no pets. There were goldfish once. That ended badly.

I studied History at the University of York, and worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, and a freelance trainer, before settling on ‘making up stories’ as an entirely acceptable grown-up career plan.

I am member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and won the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy in 2012. Alison’s debut novel, Much Ado About Sweet Nothing, is published by Choc Lit this week, and is available here:

Follow me on Twitter @MsAlisonMay, and find out more about me on

1. Q. What genre do you write?

A. My first novel, Much Ado About Sweet Nothing, is a romantic comedy, apart from the bits that aren’t romantic and the bits that aren’t funny. It’s at least 84% romantic comedy certainly.

I always find it tricky to describe what genre I write in because I write books that I would like to read, so there are bits of romance, bits of comedy, but some of my influences are darker and more literary so that gets chucked into the mix as well.

 2. Have you always been a writer? If not, how did you get interested in writing?

A. I haven’t always been a writer, but I’ve always been a reader, so the interest in story and character is definitely a continuous thread. I do remember setting out to write a play with one of my school friends when I was about eight, so I could look back on that, and think ‘See - I’ve always been a writer.’ But I also remember running races in the back garden with my sister and I definitely haven’t always been sporty, so I probably shouldn’t read too much into my apparent childhood interests.

3. Do you have a best time of day or week for being productive or creative?

A. Generally morning is better than afternoon, but realistically there is no good productive time, apart from the 24 hours immediately before an unmissable deadline. At school I was always better in exams than at coursework, so it’s probably not ideal that I’ve picked a career that is basically the adult equivalent of constantly having to do coursework.

I tend to give myself fake self-imposed deadlines to force myself to write. At the moment I’ve got a party I want to attend in four weeks time and I’m telling myself I can’t go if I don’t finish the first draft of my current work-in-progress by then. I’ve got about 60,000 words to get through. Wish me luck.

4. How often do you write? 

A. Most days if I’m writing a first draft. If I’m editing sometimes not looking at the manuscript for a bit is a part of the process. I’m really lucky in that my day job is freelance and sporadic so I do get days each week or month when I don’t have to go out to work. If I’m working on a first draft I’d expect to write between two and four thousand words on each of those days.

5. How do you pick your characters? Are they from real life?

A. I’ve never intentionally based a character on a real person, although I have no doubt that bits of and bobs feed into my writing from real-life. I write two different sorts of books - adaptations of Shakespeare plays, like Sweet Nothing, and entirely original stories. For the adaptations, obviously the character starts with the character in the play, and then I work on the things that are specific to the modern setting, like their job and interests. Usually I once I’ve got a character’s voice in my head the rest of the character falls into place - it’s the characters that I can’t hear in my mind that I struggle with.

6. What are your hobbies?

A. Reading obviously - although I tend not to read very much fiction while I’m working on a first draft. I love films, theatre and TV as well though - really anything that’ll tell me a story is good with me. I’ve developed a recent liking for Zumba, Bokwa and yoga, which upsets me somewhat. As one of the world’s natural curvy girls this growing tendency to exercise is a bit of a worry. It is an increasing necessity though as I spend more and more time sitting on my behind writing, and less and less on my feet at the front of classrooms.

7. Do you have any indulgences? Do you treat yourself after a good day, or week?

A. never really been one to save indulgences until the end of a good day or good week. Hence the curviness, perhaps. I love good food, and quite a lot of bad food too, and wine, and vodka, and going out and enjoying all of the above with friends.

I don’t find I need a treat after a good writing week - the feeling of ‘having written’ (which is so much nicer than the feeling of actually writing) is sufficient. It’s the bad writing weeks that require treats!

8. Tell us something about your new book?

A. Much Ado About Sweet Nothing, which is out with Choc Lit’s digital first Choc Lit Lite imprint, is a romantic comedy based on Much Ado About Nothing. It has love and heartache and wedding dresses and maths, and I am very quietly and very nervously rather proud of it.

9. As a writing tutor, what would be your top three tips to adult writers?

A. That’s easy:

1. Write lots.

2. Read lots.

3. Edit like you didn’t write it, and you aren’t emotionally attached to it.

If I was allowed a fourth tip, I’d add: Submit your writing lots. And then go back to number 1 and repeat.
Thank you so much Alison! It was a pleasure interview someone with such a sense of humour. I can't wait to read your new novel.
Follow Alison on Twitter, and check out her web page and her new book.
See above for all the details.
Thank you for visiting my blog, and see you again next time. 
Bye for now!

 Marilyn x

Friday, 15 November 2013


This week my guest is Sarah Menary, who has been writing in her spare time for a few years, along with a full time job. What is for sure, is that she lives a varied and very interesting life, as you will see. I am so pleased that she has kindly agreed to be a guest on my blog. Readers often wonder how writers spend their time. So here goes!

Q.1. What do you write?

A. I write gothic horror, and fantasy, and general fiction. I started writing novellas as a teenager as a sort of therapy for dealing with the world. These developed into full length novels over time. More recently I have been writing short stories and poetry, and I have been influenced by a group of poets I write with. They are all hugely talented and extremely modest people who continue to inspire me. I like to be challenged, so I write different things as it forces me to try out new ideas, I was recently challenged to write a romance story which I found very difficult, as I have a tendency to gravitate to the dark and the macabre.

Q 2. Can you tell us something about your present work in progress?

A. I have just finished work on my first international publication. It is a fantasy romance short story that I was asked to write for the Oklohama Tornado Relief Fund. The Anthology was compiled by 19 authors from around the globe, and available from 30th October 2013.

I am also working on my debut novel, The Blood Gate. It is a fantasy/horror novel about revenge and the land of the dead.

Q.3. Have you ever had writer's block, and what did you do to get out of it?

A. I have had writer's block! Not too many times though. The best way I've found to deal with it is to post the problem up on Facebook, and ask your friends for help! Some people would recoil in horror at the thought of doing that, but I have had much success with a great bunch of helpful friends who have the daftest suggestions. They always make me laugh, and I usually come up with something out of what they say.

Q 4. Where do you write? Do you stick to one place?

A. I write predominantly at home, but I find the best place to think about writing is in bed. My subconscious seems to unravel the plot if I dream. I also find that I write poetry best on the train, staring out of the window. I also have the occasional treat to go off to a writer's retreat. I know a fantastic little place in Wales where there is no mobile signal anywhere in the village, and it is fantastic if you want to get your head down to write.

Q 5. What do you like to read? Give us a few of your favourite books.

A. Tough one to narrow down! My all time favourite books are Dracula by Bram Stoker, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I am a big fan of the classics. There is a sense of patience with the Victorian classics, which I think we have lost in this fast world of today. However, I do like contemporary writers such as Val McDermid, and Neil Gaiman.

Q 6. Do you have any hobbies apart from writing?

A. I have so many hobbies it's a wonder I have time to write! I am a practicing Martial artist, studying Tang Soo Do. I am also a historical enactor and musketeer with Sealed Knot. That basically involves strapping yourself with gunpowder and having a massive battle with all of your friends! I also do a bit of freelance artwork, and I love my music.

Q 7. Do you have any pets? And do they play a part in your writing?

A. I have a very dozy cat called Artemis, She likes to walk across my keyboard and generally cause chaos! She almost set her tail on fire once when I was writing by candle light! Needless to say, the candles are now banned.

Q 8. Where do you get your inspiration?

In the strangest places! When I used to go to work early in the morning, I often found myself first on the train platform as the sun came up. There is something special about how the light hits the industrial landscape. It always feels like a secret beauty, just on show for you.

I find a great deal of inspiration from music, and I create playlists to listen to when I am writing particular pieces of work. For a high action piece, I listen to Rob Zombie, and for a more relaxed piece, I might have a bit of Moby.

Q 9. Do you find a particular food or drink helps with the creative juices?

A. Two things I need - caffeine and sugar. My family laugh at me because sometimes my fridge would be empty apart from diet coke and skittles.

Thank you so much Sarah. I'm sure readers would find your life most interesting! And best of luck with The Blood Gate.

Thank you all for taking an interest in Sarah. If you would like to ask any questions, please click on the envelope below and/or, write in the comments box.

You can follow Sarah



Thursday, 14 November 2013

What motivates Writers? Who or what inspires them? How do they come up with ...

.... ideas, names, characters, plots.

How do they write?

Where do they write?

What do they read?

Do they read much, or not at all while writing? Or just a little?

What genre do they read? Same as they write? Or some different genre?

What hobbies do they have ...apart from writing?

...and so many more questions...

Tomorrow I will begin my series of interviews with different guest writers. There are so many questions to ask each writer. If you would like particular questions answered, please post your questions in the comments box at any time.

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Peppery Pumpkin and Sweet Potato soup...

.....with grated apple and cream. 

This is a lovely Autumn and delicious soup, full of flavour, using seasonal vegetables and fruit.
It's really easy to make. Here is the recipe.



Half small eating pumpkin - peeled and cut up into cubes
2 medium onions, chopped up
2 large sweet potatoes (6"x2") peeled and chopped up
fresh parsley chopped (2 tbl sp)
2 large cloves garlic - chopped
2 medium tomatoes - chopped finely
1 bird pepper - chopped finely
handful of fresh coriander - chopped finely
1 medium Bramley cooking apple or any other sharp apple -peeled and grated (large hole)
1 chicken stock cube
1 tsp flaked sea salt
1 tbl spoon olive oil
2 ltrs water


Using a large heavy pan, heat oil

Turn down heat to low, and cook onions till soft and transparent.

Add pumpkin cubes stir and cook for about 3-4 mins

Add sweet potato, stir and cook for another 3 mins

Add tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and bird pepper, and stir

Add water, turn up heat, and crumble in the stock cube

Add salt, and bring to the boil.

Lower heat right down, and cover pan.

Simmer for about 45 mins - 1 hour, or when vegetables are very soft.

Remove from heat and let it cool for about 20 mins.

Pour in a large food processor, and blitz till smooth-ish (optional)

Return it to the pan, and add grated apple and coriander.

Heat through to boiling point.

Cover and let simmer for about 10-15 mins

Serve with cream, and crusty granary bread. (optional)

Hope you enjoy it!

If you've got any questions or comments, please leave them below in the comments box.



Tuesday, 15 October 2013

An interview - Belle and her Beautiful Cakes -

The first time I met Belinda Gostling (Belle), was at my son's wedding last year. She had created the most exquisite wedding cake in antique purple and dusk shades, and numerous cup cakes to match, as is the fashion these days for weddings. I was amazed. So when I decided this year to throw myself a big birthday party for a big birthday, I asked her to do me a cake that represented the many things I had done in my life. And she stepped up to the plate with a three tier cake that threw me completely. Even now, when people who know me and the course of my life, see pictures of the cake, they are spell bound.

I have no idea how Belle does it... Setting up and running a business is hard enough, but with a small child still at home all day, it is a mighty task.

When I asked Belle if she would appear as a guest on my blog she had no hesitation.

It's so lovely to have you on my blog, Belle.

1. Q. Will you tell us who or what inspired you to start making cakes?

A. My background is design based, but I began making cakes when a friend asked me to do her wedding cake. I'd never really baked before, but I practiced lots ready for the big day and enjoyed it. I had a few requests after the wedding, and found that I may have a talent for baking and decorating. It wasn't until a few years later just after having my daughter, that I was made redundant, and decided to set up my own business, and Belles was created. I attended a few training courses to build my confidence, and haven't looked back.

2. Q. Which famous chef, cook or baker do you most admire, and why?

A. There are so many and I seem to discover another great Cake artist every day! I admire the work of Sharon Wee. Her work is flawless and very versatile. I would love to attend one of her training courses one day to learn some of her secrets! Also, Carlos Lischetti's sugar art work is incredibly detailed and to a very high standard and I aspire to create such beautiful models and decorations.

3. Q. Your cakes are so beautifully designed. How do you get your inspiration for these?

A. I ask the client as many questions as possible so that I get a good understanding of their likes and dislikes, and their expectations. Then I use the internet, books, magazines, to research the design theme, and together with my imagination, I sketch out some ideas and concepts. I love looking at wallpaper, wrapping paper, drawings, cards, window displays, etc, to give me inspiration. Then I transfer these ideas onto the cake.

4. Q. Are your designs all planned before hand?

A. The majority are planned, with a sketch drawn for the client to approve. However, when you start creating and making decorations, the design can sometimes alter to accommodate decorations. I am about to start making my dummy cakes for the 2014 season to take to Wedding Fairs, and a few of these will evolve whilst making them. It's fun to see where you end up!

5. Q. What advice would you give a young person who wanted to go into the cake business?

A. Stand out from the crowd. Cake businesses are booming and with so many to choose from, you need to have a unique selling point, whether that is a specific style, catering to a niche market, or being the best at what you do.

Give great customer service. So much of my work is via word of mouth, or repeat custom, and I try to treat each of my customers individually, so that they know I value their custom.

Work out your pricing before you set up. One of the hardest areas of this industry is pricing. I would spend time to work out how much it costs to make your products and create a clear structure on how to quote to customers. Prices vary dramatically from baker to baker. Some are professionals whilst others are hobby bakers. You need to price so that you include your profit.

Cake decorating is a job you have to love. It requires a lot of patience, attention to detail, and time, But the rewards are great when you see the smile on someone's face!

6. Q. Your cakes are so moist and full of flavour, What flavours do you offer?

A.  I offer the basic flavours such as vanilla, chocolate, and lemon, but will make any flavour the client would like. I have recently made Oreo Cookie cake, Gingerbread cupcakes, Tiramisu cupcakes, and Sticky Ginger cake. It is nice to experiment and make flavours that aren't ordinarily available.

7. Q. I know this must be the hardest question to answer... Do you have a favourite design?

A. Here are a few of them!

Princess, Shoes, and bags

Tattoo Cake

Seb's Cake

Tool Box 2

Winnie the Pooh

Here's how to get in touch -
Facebook - Belles-The Cake Company
Email -

Thank you Belle!
And, best of luck for the future!


Sunday, 13 October 2013


I've always been a creative person. These days I write fiction, but I also paint from time to time in oils. I've designed various lines of luxury lingerie for Sapphire Design House, and run my own business.

I've taught Marketing and Business Studies at colleges, and for many years, have felt an affinity and empathy for people who try to start up and run their own business. I do realise that they need all the help they could get, so I intend to help the few I know in some small way, because they deserve it for all the hard work they put in.

I will be interviewing all sorts of creative people in the next few months.

Later this week, I will be interviewing Belinda Sidell, of Belle - The Cake Company, who makes absolutely fabulous, decorative special occasion cakes of all descriptions, in scrumptious flavours and designs.

Below is a preview -  one of the cakes she made, depicting aspects of the Birthday Girl's life. That was me.

Photo: 3 tiers of gorgeous moist ginger cake, covered in some memorable models of the birthday girls life.

So, keep watch later this week for an interview with Belle - The Cake Company, where she will be telling you some of the secrets of her success so far...

See you later this week!

Sunday, 8 September 2013


The Fourth and Fifth Edits, and Doing it with a Friend

Editing is becoming more enjoyable. The end of this process is in sight. I am actually doing these two together, but not on my own.

The Structural issues, Characterisations, Character Arcs, etc, have been dealt with as best as I could in previous edits.

This Fourth Edit is about filling out anything missed in previous edits, and when writing it, but at the same time - cutting words. Filling out is not about adding padding. It is about deepening the story where needed so that the reader is drawn further into the plot. But I have to do this at the expense of my word count. I still have too many words in this novel - 124,188 to date. So, trying to get it down to 120,000 if possible at this stage is about being ruthless and having a keen eye for shortening sentences without ruining the sense. Deepening the plot means that I have to return to my sources of research to find out what really happened in 1917, and whether what I already have fits in with that time.

The Fifth Edit, is wonderful! I have a friend who has volunteered. In fact, she is a member of my Book Group, who loves proofreading ... and has volunteered several times to help me out. I decided it was time to take her up on it. The time had come for another pair of eyes to look over for errors, spellings, punctuation, etc. Being as close as I have been to this novel means that I can overlook the same errors time and time again. But it is working, and we are doing well. We do it together. I am reading it out aloud off screen, and she follows on her script. She is enjoying it, and I am loving that she is finding all my excess commas!

Apart from the writing, I think these Fourth and Fifth Edits, might be the most enjoyable of the process. But can't wait to get to the end.

See you next time!

Monday, 5 August 2013


It's been 11 weeks 4 days since the incident that left me with a fractured wrist - a Compound Open Fracture of my left wrist... followed by surgery, a metal plate and 6 screws inside my wrist, stitches for 2 weeks, and a plaster cast  for 6 weeks. Plaster cast and stitches now off. But what I never envisaged, is the total inability to use my hand, fingers, or wrist... flex and bend them, or apply the smallest pressure to them. They feel like so delicate, wooden and weak....

Hence the absence of blog posts since May.

May was set to be a busy month anyway, since it was 3 weeks away from celebrating my biggest birthday so far .... Ok, a bit obvious! But it was a significant birthday with an 0 at the end...and a big party celebration planned... 150 guests invited.

Since then, May 16th, life has changed.

Taking either of my hands for granted in future is never going to happen! I am still unable to dress myself completely on my own (bra's can be a challenge!), or eat with a knife and fork. That means, I either pick up my food with fingers, or choose food that can be scooped up with only a fork. Eating out in company can be difficult. I am still wearing elasticated trousers, as I am unable to pull a zip together to do it up. These are 3 of the myriad of things I am unable to do.

How did it happen? You might well ask! I was assaulted by a neighbour ... pushed over flying, ended up flat on my back, cracked my head on the brick drive. Why? Because I told him that his dog had killed one of our chickens. And, it regularly comes in our garden, front and back. He went mad.... a dangerous the way, both he and his wife are retired police.

...And I thought I lived in a nice neighbourhood! Now I am scared to leave my house and walk on foot anywhere.

I'm not able to drive still, as I cannot grip the steering wheel, change gears, or pull up the handbrake with my left hand. So unless I get taken somewhere, I am housebound. In the countryside, buses are few to non existent, and the walk to the train station is too far.

Anyway, thank goodness it is my left hand, not my right. Yes, I am right handed, so I have been doing Facebook.... but touch typing has not been an option.

Progress is slow, tedious, and very painful, as I have also got damage to the nerves, causing Chronic, Regional Pain Syndrome. Since May 16th, I have taken over 1,000 pain tablets, which causes me some concern. I am very unhappy about the long term effect on my organs.

On the plus side, painful as it still is, with the help of the strong painkillers, I am writing this post...but must stop now, as I am in too much pain.

Although I have been unable to do any new writing, I have been doing the 4th edit on my novel
The Last Year of Childhood, slowly, between eating and sleeping 3 or 4 times a day. Yes, I get tired and sleepy a lot.

I pray for quicker progress, although I am thankful that it wasn't my scull that was fractured, or worse...

See you next time.

Marilyn x

Friday, 3 May 2013

The Last Year of Childhood - Extract 2

Novel set in 1917, Granville Village, Trinidad.

Latchmin is twelve years old, and dying of typhoid. There are crowds around her bed.

Extract 2

Everyone may not have had a chance to say their piece, but Bassandaye stood in front them and put her arms up and out to stop them. She turned to the bed where Latchmin lay still as a chicken with its neck broken. She called out, quiet and courageous, her hands clasped.

'Latchmin, baitee. You hearing me? Come! Come home.' Bassandaye reached out and touched her daughter's bony forehead, and ran the flat of her palm over the child's face and the bulge of her closed eyes.

'She not dead.' A voice spoke from the doorway. Pundit Lall had heard from the gossip in the village. He knew the family well and hurried to the house as fast as he could. Pushing them aside, he made his way to the bedside and stood next to Bassandaye, looking at the thin body wrapped in the white sheet. 'No,' he said slowly. 'She not dead, even though she looking like it.'

There was a sudden abatement of breath. Her pale skin twitched.

'It happens sometimes.' Someone spoke up before the crying became louder,

'No. She not dead,' the pundit repeated. There followed a chorus of sighs and intake of breath all at once.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Just a few thoughts on a subject that is very dear to the hearts of some, but for others, it is the worst word in the universe.

Religion = Controversy. Because man wants to control others, what they think, how they live, and punish them according to their own beliefs.

This mentality is forgetting that we were made with free will, and responsible for our own beliefs.

Religion is important to people who recognise that spirituality is part of the pie-chart of their life.

For those who see red when they hear the word religion, it is important to seperate the word religion from the word God. Both do not necesarily go hand in hand.

Religion is what man has created.

Man is what God has created.

God did not inadverteltly create religion though, because if he did, there would be One religion, not hundreds and thousands. He sent one Son for our redemption, not thousands.

God created man. It could have taken a day, or a million years. Argue about it if you must, but you will never know unless you or I, are fortunate enough to meet with him and ask.

Every religion has a link to some kind of god. There must be a reason for that.

Most people have a link to some religion, there must also be a reason for that.

What are your thoughts? Post me comment.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


As part of the editing process of The Last Year of Childhood, I have decided to rewrite. It started with rewriting Chapter 1, then went on to Chapter 2, and 3 .... Now I am up to Chapter 8. Tedious as it sounds, I think that what is happening, is that I am using the main plot points, and making some changes where I have identified that change needs to be done.

I am also sharpening up the language, using more active verbs, and trying to concentrate on my characters, who they are, and that they have a good impact on the reader. I am mostly not referring to the previous draft. So I am really cutting out a lot of the bits that were not adding to the story.

Part of me is disappointed that I chose to rewrite, because it feels like a longer process than I wanted. But I am really hoping that it would be another learning curve for me, and with some luck, the next draft will be closer to something more ready for publication.

Something that happens while doing this, is that the brain does fresh thinking, and some aspects of the story turn a different corner - which is a better one. I choose not to turn some of those corners though, because it is easy to chase wild geese! In this draft, I have to choose carefully to make sure the whole thing does not go off course.

The Last Year of Childhood is the new title. Because it concentrates on two young girls, aged 11, and 14, who both have the same dilemma, of a marriage arranged for them, against their will. The book is set in 1917, Trinidad.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Photo: Honey orange and almond cake
This is a really delicious, moist, no-fat, no-flour cake, which is a Weight Watcher's recipe, which I have altered slightly, and thought I should share with you.


- half tsp low fat spread for greasing. You could use any butter or margarine if you don't need the low fat.
- 6 eggs, separated in two different bowls
- 100 g brown caster sugar, or soft brown sugar.
- Grated zest of 2 oranges, and juice of half orange.
- 150 g ground almonds

To decorate
Juice of one and a half oranges, or 20mls orange juice
2 tbl sp  clear honey
1 orange, pealed and cut into thin rounds.


- Preheat oven to gas mark 180C or 160C in a fan oven.
- Line a 20 cm springform cake tin with baking paper, and grease with low fat spread.
- In a bowl, beat together egg yolks, sugar, orange zest and juice of half orange, and almonds
- Whisk egg whites in a separate, clean grease-free bowl for about 2 mins, or until it is stiff and forms peaks.
- Using a metal spoon, spoon in one table spoon of egg white into mixture to loosen it.
- Fold in the remaining egg whites into cake mixture.
- Pour mixture into cake tin, and bake for 35 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in tin for 20 mins.

To make Topping
- Put the orange juice and honey in a small pan and bring to boil. 
- Stir once, and then without stirring, lower the heat, and leave to simmer for about 6-8 mins, or until reduced and syrupy. 
- Remove cake from tin and use a fork to prick the top all over.
- Spoon three quarter of the syrup of the top of the cake.
- Arrange the oranges on cake and spoon over the remaining syrup.
- Let the syrup soak into the cake for a few minutes, then serve in 10 slices. 

Serve on it's own, or with fromage frais, or clotted cream, or double cream. 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A thought about Editing when it gets tedious

Just a Thought .... about the novel I finished last March - 2012

February 2013 - I have returned to editing my book - The Last Year of Childhood, which I would like to get published soon, preferably by traditional means, or self publishing. I realise that it might take some time, as it might need more editing than I thought. But it took longer to write, and I practically did some of that writing in my own blood.

Why did I leave it for so long? 

I got bored.

I got complacent. I'd done the first draft.

It got tedious.

I got defocussed.

I thought I might like to try something else ...


A short story! Yes, I did get shortlisted by Choc Lit Publishing Competition. So that was worth it.

Social Networking - Face Book, Twitter, Linked in, Authonomy

Socialising for real, and concentrating on other parts of my life.

Editing became too hard to return.

And harder ...the longer I left it.

I felt I was stuck with it ... which way to turn?

How to structure?

Did I have a good first chapter?

Did I have all the right ingredients?

Did I have a compelling characters, especially a Main Character, POV,etc, etc.

Was there a good enough hook?

What about the first 3 chapters ... that I would need them spick and span before sending to an agent? Were they good enough?

Oh dear! I can't remember what I wrote in the middle chapters... ?

I bought some publishing and editing books - two of them.

I read them and marked them up.

I had lots of new ideas, and started editing again.

I stopped editing, and reread the whole 120,000 words (400+ pgs) of my novel.

I got a new notebook and wrote notes on each chapter in different colours as I went along. (colours denoting type of changes to make)

Still it was hard to re-start editing again.

Feb 2013 - I have started to edit again - The Last Year of Childhood.

I have realised that my book was not complete last March, nor will it be complete ....







Bye for now,
Marilyn xx

Monday, 11 February 2013

Home made Burgers

- Can be made with any kind of mince meat - beef, lamb, turkey, pork....

....and so, you will be sure of what kind of meat it contains, and what you are consuming. These are also more  nutritious than supermarket ones, and do not contain chemicals and additives that you are not aware of.
And, they are much tastier and meatier.  

The ingredients below will serve at least 4 adults, or 8 children. 

400g mince meat (either beef, lamb, turkey, or pork)
1 large or medium egg
1 onion, grated
2 cloves crushed garlic (optional)
2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (or 1 teaspoon dry parsley)
half teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons bread crumbs (also optional)

- Place mince meat in a bowl.
- Grate onion into the bowl
- Add breadcrumbs
- Break egg into the bowl
- Add the rest of ingredients.

Mix thoroughly using one hand. You can use a wooden spoon instead to mix ingredients together thoroughly, but please make sure it is thorough. You can do the final mix with your hand. If the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If it is too dry, add a bit of milk. If you want to use 500g of meat, see the tip below. 

When you are ready to cook, divide the meat mixture into four, five, six or eight, depending on what size of burgers you want, and how many you are serving.

- Take each amount and roll it in between your palms to make into a round ball.
- Flatten it between your palm as flat as you wish. (unless they are to put into a bread roll, they don't need to be too flat. They will cook nicely rounded.)
- Heat a non stick frying pan with a a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and spread the oil in the pan.
- When oil is hot, place the burgers into the pan.
- Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes on each side, until each side is lightly browned.
- If you over cook, it will become drier in the middle.

NB. If you are using turkey or pork, please ensure that there are no pink juices running out when it is cooked. 

To increase the volume to make more burgers with the same amount of meat, add more bread crumbs. Just use a hand grater and grate the bread directly into the bowl with the meat. If the mixture becomes too dry, add a small amount of milk or another small egg.

Freezing is easy.
- Make up extra, and put each uncooked burger in a piece of Cling Film and wrap.
- Place in the freezer and leave till you are ready to use.
- Thaw out before cooking.
- If you are doing a whole batch, place each burger on a tray that will fit in the freezer.
- Freeze
- Put in a freezer bag and label.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Writing Fiction - WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW

Write what you know .... I have asked myself many times, what does this really mean?

It seems obvious ... If I know about sport, my character could be in training for the Commonwealth Games.   If I am a computer programmer, I could set my novel in a technical environment. But that could be boring. I might well want to escape into a different world.

In any case, why write what I already know and get bored, when I could imagine and research what I want to write about, when I need to. I don't have to know it before hand.

Also, how can I write what I know about, when I really want to create something from the imagination?

How can I write fiction from fact?


Fiction is not all imaginary. If it was, the reader would not be able to identify with it at all ... and maybe we wouldn't be able to write it either. I am not sure it is at all possible to write absolutely everything from the imagination.

It must be a combination of both reality as well as imagination, in order to create fiction. Different genres require different amounts and levels of reality, fact, and imagination. For instance, Literary Fiction requires much more reality than Fantasy.

Therefore, some aspects of fiction has got to be from our own experience...something everyday...something we recognise, something we see as real. That "something", could be about love, or eating, or revenge, or struggling.

If we put the REAL, with something IMAGINARY, it becomes our work of fiction, that is more likely to keep the reader's interest.

Something imaginary, could be a character, or a place, a situation.

So if I create an imaginary character - like a woman with 5 arms and one very large eye, and call her SuperEye, and set her world on a different planet, and she absorbed metal, instead of eating food, sooner or later, I would have to make her do something that I know about, in order to write a whole story or novel that would be understandable  - to me, as well as my readers. It is also vital that this story keeps the reader's interest too.

So in order to create a story worth reading, my weird character Super Eye, would have to do things that were completely normal in the world of the reader. Super Eye might have human emotions like anger, fear, love. She would have some kind of flaw, like the inability to smell. Or the need to control her environment. And/or have something that satisfies her just as if she were human. That way, the reader has something to identify with, and become interested in the character and the plot, and continue reading, hopefully to the end.

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, has the advantage of not having to research too many things before starting to write, as well as the writer having an in depth knowledge, maybe from personal experience, which would be an advantage in writing convincing fiction.

Monday, 14 January 2013



Thank you all for visiting my blog from so many countries .... 

I'll be back soon with another post.