Wednesday, 10 December 2014


Today the eye of the world is in Oslo, where the 17 year old teenager Malala Yousafzai, is collecting her award for winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

She is a Pakistani school girl who was shot in the head for wanting an education for girls. Now she is at school and resident in Birmingham. Malala was fighting for the rights of girls in education in Pakistan since she was twelve. But this phenomenon is not new.

My novel The Last Year of Childhood, is complete and deals with exactly this same problem, although in a different way, set at a different time, and in a different country.

Latchmin is 11, bright and ambitious, and wants to become a teacher. Her best friend Sumati is 14, beautiful and passionate, and has fallen in love with a local boy. 

But both their parents have arranged marriages for them to complete strangers. One is a much older man with two children. The other, has a reputation for being violent.

In their struggle to get out of these arranged marriages, things go very wrong, and they suffer consequences involving rape, violence and suicide. Their struggles are continuous as they try to help each other till the very end.


Here is a lovely recipe for Festive Tabouleh, which is lovely for Boxing Day for everyone, including Vegetarians. 

It is made with Bulgar Wheat, but could easily be done with couscous, or Cracked wheat, or rice. Whatever takes your fancy.

This will easily serve 4-6 people, or more if it is part of an array of dishes.


9oz Bulgar Wheat or Cracked wheat, soaked for 2-3 hours
1 handful fresh parsley - chopped
1 small handful fresh mint - chopped
1 pomegranate seeds
1 tin corn, drained - large or small
1 tin chick peas, drained
2 lemons - juice only
Sea salt flakes, (or ordinary salt) and black pepper, to taste
3 tbl sp olive oil
2 peppers (sweet and diced)
1 head Romanian lettuce (optional - not in photo)

Extra ingredients to make it extra special and Festive

1 onion - finely chopped
5 tomatoes chopped finely
extra pomegranate
half inch of fresh ginger chopped finely, use half tsp dry powdered
half tsp dry powdered cinnamon
quarter tsp grated nutmeg
quarter tsp mixed spice
quarter tsp powdered coriander spice

Also optional

Tangerines - chopped
Strawberries - chopped


. Drain bulgar wheat and cover in boiling water for 10 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed.
(if it is soft and ready and still has water, drain water away in a sieve)
. Add all ingredients and mix gently but well.
Line a large bowl with lettuce leaves and spoon in the Tabouleh into the centre

This a remarkably simple recipe that adds an extra special touch to cold meats on Boxing Day, or Summer salads.

Hope you try it and let me know how you got on. If you've any questions, please ask on the blog, or email me on

Check out some of my other recipes on this blog for Christmas.

Marilyn xx

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


I just want to say a couple of things about this topic of IDEAS.

Many people have a lot of trouble wondering how to get ideas. When you've read a well crafted, well written novel, you become amazed at how the writer managed to think up such a complex plot.

Well, not every writer is the same. Some are better with ideas, but most will start, and get stuck some of the way, some of the time. Sometimes ideas grow as you write, and develop into something you never thought of way back in the beginning when you wrote your first sentence. It's like exercising an ideas muscle in your head. The more it's used, the stronger it becomes.

Or, think of it as a seed planted in a pot full of good soil. It germinates when it is watered and gets the right sunlight. It grows and grows, flowers, and bears either one or two fruit, or the branches almost break with fruit. Just so with ideas. The more you think, the more you develop ideas.

But what about the first idea? They can come from anywhere. Just anywhere. A newspaper story, a conversation you have or overhear, an experience you have at a petrol station or with someone somewhere, in a bustling city, or a cosy restaurant. Just anywhere. Or, it could be a memory, a good one a bad one. You just need to work out how to put it into a story. And that is the tricky bit. But fortunately, the more you work at it, think about it, write it down and plan, plan and re-plan, the easier it becomes. Sometimes it's like a jigsaw puzzle, and will slot into the perfect space.

The idea doesn't have to be amazing. It just has to be enough to start a story where characters act out that idea. Most times, if the characters are well drawn, they will take a small idea, and create something magnificent. Remember that characters actually are like real people. In fact, in your story, they are real people, because you will create them as real as possible so that the reader becomes so taken with them, that they can identify with them, or say your character is just like someone they know or did know.

So if you want to start writing, go ahead. Get one idea, write it down, and develop it. Create some characters as if they're real people, and make them work at your story. Don't forget to make them think differently too! That then can create conflict and your story gets interesting ... intriguing, even unputdownable.

Only - get a notebook or two, and write down all the ideas that come to you, day or night. They come in the strangest places - in the bath, the shower, whilst driving. But don't reach for your notebook while driving. When you stop, write it down. Or use your phone to make notes.

Get started.

Bye for now!

Marilyn x

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

My First Public Author Reading

Today I read a story of mine in public, for the first time as an author.

It took place at Warwick Library, Warwick, Warwickshire, UK.

A few weeks ago my Writer's Group, Bardstown Writers, launched our first Anthology at the well known bookshop chain Waterstones, Stratford upon Avon. The Anthology covers small pieces for all readers: poetry, short stories, and articles. And includes one of my stories -
Dorothy at Mill Stream Cottage - an amusing short story about a goat - which is based on a real life incident. (I did have a goat a few years ago.)

However, the point about this blog post is that today was an important milestone for me as an author. Five of us from our Writer's group read extracts from the Anthology, to a live and lovely audience. I was nervous that morning, as I would be, but enjoyed the whole experience, and even got asked questions about the goat in the story.

This morning made my day! It made my week! And more. And it has given me a taste of things to come once I get my actual novel published and out there in the shops. I am definitely at the point where I really want to share my novel, The Last Year of Childhood. So keep a look out.

All I need is the last drive to get it out, and the not so small matter of luck!

Follow my blog for updates, and follow me on twitter

The Anthology can be purchased from out website -

or Tel - +44(0)7710 281832

Bye for now!

Marilyn  x

Saturday, 11 October 2014

UN International Day of the Girl Child - October 11th - TODAY

Many people acknowledge that all over the world, there is violence committed in all shapes and forms against GIRLS - young children and adolescent girls. This occurs in a way that too many of us are willing to accept as social norms in that country in which they live, or countries over there where they do these things... nothing to do with us over here!

I would like to point out that girls are human beings. Always have been - then, now and in the future. Girls never evolved from anything into a position where they are likely to accept violence towards them, whether it be emotional and psychological, or physical.

Violence against girls has always been destructive, distressing, and painful.

So, NO! Girls DO NOT accept female mutilation, beatings, inequality in society or education, or arranged marriages against their will.

As EARTH citizens, we must pull together with one voice and say NO to violence toward girls from China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, the UK, America, Japan, Jamaica, Uzbekistan, or any other part of the world.

As citizens from more fortunate and enlightened cultures and parts of the world, we must try hard to  empathize with girls around the globe who suffer pain through no fault of their own which severely limits their life and sheer existence as human beings for the enjoyment of others or for tradition or customs.

We have see girls such as Malala Yousafazi shot in the head because she wanted education for girls in her own country. Luckily she survived to win the Nobel Peace Prize 2014, yesterday!

***My novel which is at the end stages of editing, The Last Year of Childhood, is set in Trinidad 1917, and the main theme concerns two girls Latchmin,12 and Sumati 14, who are both struggling to escape arranged marriages.

Latchmin wants an education in order to become a teacher, and early marriage will put an end to that. In fact it will end her childhood. She wants all girls and women to be educated so that they can pass that down to the generations of Indian girls in the future, and bring about a situation where Indians are on an equal social and financial footing to their African counterparts, and end the devastating poverty they suffer in manual, very poor paid jobs. Whilst her mother understands because she herself was married off at 5 years old, to a much older man, and secretly wants better for her daughter, Latchmin's father wants to keep Hindu traditions. He wants her married off before puberty so that he would get the ultimate prize.... So Latchmin's struggles continue. But she is a mere child. What can she do, and where can she go? Who can she turn to for help?

Sumati, Latchmin's best friend, does not want to marry the much older man who her parents have chosen for her. And she resents the fact that he already has two children. But what choice does she have? Then she falls in love with a local boy her parents will never approve. So she takes action, and does something that will cause them heartache. The repercussions will cause her life to turn into a traumatic rollercoaster of pain and suffering for everyone involved.

This scenario was the actual situation in Trinidad at that time, early 20 C, when the novel was set. It has changed since. The British Government offered free education for all in Trinidad, after the end of slavery, and after the end of Indentureship of Indians to the Caribbean in 1917. Girls, women, Head Teachers, teachers, and the Trinidad Government were instrumental in making change happen. 

Today, the Prime Minister of Trinidad is a woman - Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

So let us remember that the Girls around the world, need us all to play our part in ending violence against them, so that they can thrive. Remember, those girls are the same as our girls, same in every way, apart from the country they live in. Let's have a heart. Let's make it right.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014



September has been a busy month getting things on track after the summer holidays.

This week, I can say that I have crossed another hurdle. 

My report from the RNA NWS on The Last Year of Childhood was positive and promising.

This makes me happy, because I have worked for a long time to get things as right as they could be, so that readers would appreciate and enjoy this book.

Good comments from a total stranger, and a body such as The Romantic Novelist's Association, are not to be pushed aside, so I am not going to be too modest about it on here. Well maybe only very slightly...

Here are some of the comments from the critique:

- Greatly enjoyed it
- A most unusual story
- A location and community about whom many readers will not know
- characters are very well defined
- I particularly congratulate you on they way you have captured the dialogue of the characters
- use of their indigenous words also works well
- the context is clear
- I could hear them talking
- The scene is set very well
- Your description of the locations is also very vivid
- All in all, this is a splendid story

My next task is finding a suitable literary agent, who would want to represent such a novel.

The main theme of the book is around ARRANGED CHILD MARRIAGES, and the disaster to young lives when parents ignore the facts of the world in order to preserve cultural traditions. Whilst this novel is set in 1917 Trinidad, the problems of Arranged CHILD Marriages are many, and are happening today in various parts of the world, INCLUDING THE UK.

For many, this is a very current issue, and the rest of us need to think about it and act on a solution, because whilst the world gears towards creating better opportunities for children and young people, child marriages actually halts childhood, in a mentally and physically intrusive and destructive way.

The Last Year of Childhood, tries to demonstrates how tangled knots develop from this one action in parenthood, which instead of enhancing young adults, it actually destroys them. For those young people who face this problem, they need to be empowered from others outside the family who are in a position to help them.  

Thank you for reading! Will keep you posted on progress!

Love, Marilyn xx

Friday, 5 September 2014


Finally, I have gotten round to writing my blog. I never forgot you!

Sorry to all my readers and followers who have been disappointed by my lack of attention to my blog this year. But this year so far has been a rollercoaster of incidents, happenings, occasions, celebrations, shocks, and surprises, from the death of my brother, to the birth of my first grandchild, conferences, writing courses, illness, getting my last daughter through her GCSE's and reeling with joy at her fantastic results.... and so much more.

One thing I have learnt from it all, is that whatever happens in life, is not a reason to give up or give in. Because once you do, you are on a very slippery path to destruction.

Last night I completed the last edit of my novel - The Last Year of Childhood.

It stands today at 466 pgs long, and 119,725 words.

I cannot tell you the relief I feel. Of course that is just a milestone to being published, whether the book is traditionally published or self published.

My next goal is finding an agent I can work with, who will believe that my novel will interest enough people, who will buy it, so it will be worth a traditional publisher taking it on.

That is where you, my followers come in....

Personally, during my final edit I enjoyed reading it so much that I forgot that I had written it. There were places where I was so pleased no one was in the room when I burst out in tears. Another day I was in such hysterics I really couldn't stop laughing.

It is a multicultural novel about two young girls who spend their last year of childhood in self-discovery. The novel spreads across many serious issues about people and how they relate to their environment. But it is also about relationships between friends, husbands and wives, parents and children, finding love, making decisions, who influences you, reaching your goals, and so much more. When you think the novel is over, there is more - another twist and yet another. I hope I have tied up all the loose ends, whilst still leaving the reader thinking about the human condition.

If you want to know more, please follow me on twitter

And I promise the next post won't take that long!

Bye for now

Marilyn x

Monday, 16 June 2014

Monday 16th June 2014 - The day that forced marriage is made illegal in the United Kingdom

Today it has been announced that Forced Marriages are illegal in the United Kingdom. What can I say but HURRAY!

It is the main theme of my new novel The Last Year of Childhood, which is set in 1917, Trinidad. The subject of forced marriage follows us from year to year, from continent to continent, from country to country, and from culture to culture. We hear snippets, but we distance ourselves from it, making it easier to accept that it goes on, and it affects every young person, girl, woman, who has to live a life in a forced marriage.

Forced Marriage ends childhood. It is not the only thing that can end childhood, but that doesn't alter the fact that it does. The Last Year of Childhood is fiction that is based on the facts of a time when this actually happened in Trinidad. If it happens in Trinidad today, it must be very, very rare indeed, as Trinidad has advanced well away from that practice.

The Last Year of Childhood is about two young girls, Latchmin, aged 12, and Sumati, aged 14, who try in their own way to escape arranged marriage (which becomes forced marriage when it is done against the will of at least one of the persons being married.) Both girls take different routes even though they are best friends, and encounter many hurdles to cross.

Do they succeed?