Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saturday Musings: The Long Day

For most if not all of my parenting life--that is, eighteen and a half years--Saturdays have possessed a particular dilemma. That is, what to DO. Perhaps it's because we have never lived near family, so we don't have the ability to visit aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents. Perhaps it is because we don't load the kids up with activities, so there have rarely been sports practice or music lessons or whatever else it is all the seemingly busy people do on Saturdays. Perhaps it is because my husband has always had to work for at least part of the day on Saturday, so a day-long family activity (not that my teenagers would go for this AT ALL) is not possible.

So. Here I am on yet another Saturday, wondering how to fill what feels a very long day without relying too much on TV and the constant promise of Netflix Kids. My three oldest kids are busy--a field trip to London, a rounders game, and Saturday school for one, which generally takes cares of him. So I'm left with my two youngest, ages four and eight, to fill the day with some kind of fun or at least fruitful activity.

Today I'm planning on a trip the library and garden centre, and then a jaunt in the afternoon to buy new school shoes and pick up some flower boxes I had ordered. We might play a game of Shopping List or Sushi Go, and I might even motivate to bake something with two little helpers.

But I know it will feel like a long day, a day that needs to be endlessly filled, and I wonder, do other parents feel this way? Do they view Saturdays with a mixture of anticipation and dread? And one day, when my youngest are teenagers and disappearing with their own plans, will I miss these oh-so long Saturdays? Or will I just finally be thankful to be able to relax?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Photo: Sunset in Monmouth

I took this photo the other night, when I was walking back from the centre of town. The sky was both violet and orange--this picture doesn't do it justice--and despite the traffic (there is traffic outside the photo, promise!) everything felt peaceful. I love the late night of spring and summer--kids playing out in the garden till eight or later, the spectacular sunsets (on occasion!), the birdsong. It almost makes the dark winter evenings (and afternoons!) worth it.

I really love the town of Monmouth. It's a wonderful size, small enough to feel friendly but big enough to have some decent shops, and a lovely pedestrianised street in its oldest part--but that's a photo for another post.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thursday Throwback: This Fragile Life

When considering what book I should feature for my first Thursday Throwback, I decided the answer was obvious: the book that holds the most special place in my heart. I've written a lot of books--at the moment I think it is around 70 published works--but I can definitely say This Fragile Life is the one that means the most to me.

I got the basic idea for it more than twenty years ago, when I lived in New York. At that time I thought it would be a play, because as a twenty-two-year old new to the city, I was an aspiring (and very much struggling!) playwright.

Then, in 2012, I had a sudden idea fall into my head like a lightning bolt--it does happen that way sometimes--and I realized what the original plot premise was missing--essentially a very big twist.

I then wrote the story, and it flowed out of me like the characters were talking to me and telling me their stories themselves. That is the BEST feeling. The subject matter of the story is dear to my heart too; it deals with motherhood and fertility and the value of life, all things that as someone who has had five children and four miscarriages, touch me deeply.

Here is the blurb:

You love your best friend.
You trust her with your life.
But could you give her the most precious gift of all?
Alex’s life is a mess. She’s barely holding down a job, only just affording her apartment, and can’t remember when she was last in a relationship. An unexpected pregnancy is the last thing she needs.
Martha’s life is on track. She’s got the highflying career, the gorgeous home and the loving husband. But one big thing is missing. Five rounds of IVF and still no baby.
The solution seems simple.
Alex knows that Martha can give her child everything that she can’t provide. But Martha’s world may not be as perfect as it seems, and letting go isn’t as easy as Alex expected it to be.
Now they face a decision that could shatter their friendship forever.

The blurb doesn't tell you everything, because I wanted the twist in the story to be simply that--a twist that you didn't see coming. Fortunately most of the reviews (and there have been some wonderfully positive ones--this book has resonated more with readers, I think, than anything else I've written) don't give the twist away. So! That's all I'll say about that.

I'll leave you with a little excerpt to whet your appetite if you haven't already read this book. Buy links are below the excerpt, and if you'd like to enter the giveaway for 1 paperback copy, please leave a comment or email me at

I like being around Alex, mainly because she’s so different from me. She’s one of the few people who can actually make me belly laugh, although admittedly it’s rare. And she’s so relaxed about everything that when I’m with her I find myself unwinding just a little, just enough. Sometimes I wonder what she sees in me; maybe she needs one person in her life who gives her good advice, who tells her like it is. I like to think that she needs someone like me.
     But now? If she’s pregnant? I feel like it could change everything.
     I wait three days and then I call her. I suggest we meet for coffee at a little place on Twenty-Third Street, halfway between my work place and where she is a barista. I take a cab and get there early; I order an iced latte and take the table in the corner.
     She arrives twelve minutes late which annoys me just a little because this is my lunch break, and I generally don't take hour-long lunches. But that’s Alex, and I get that. Like I said, we’re different.
     I smile, stand, place my cheek a half-inch from hers. We sit, and I ask if she wants a coffee. She shakes her head.
     And then I say nothing, because for once I have no plan, no bullet points to cover. I want to ask if she's pregnant, and yet I'm afraid to at the same time. Then Alex does something she hardly ever does; she takes the lead. She smiles and sighs and says,
     "I know you know."
     And then suddenly it's easy. "You're pregnant." She nods. I let out a shuddery breath, although I'm not sure what I'm feeling. Vindication? Jealousy? Relief? It's all mixed up. "How far along are you?" I ask and she just shrugs.
     “I’m sorry,” she says after a moment, and I stiffen.
     “For what?”
     “It just… it doesn’t seem fair, does it?” She looks at me with dark, sorrowful eyes and my throat starts to ache.
     No, it damn well doesn’t seem fair, but weirdly I’m glad she’s acknowledged it. "What are you going to do?" I ask quietly.
     "I don't know."
     I feel a little better hearing that, although I'm not sure why. "What about the father?"
     "I haven't contacted him."
     "You're not—dating?"
     She lets out an abrupt laugh and shakes her head. "No."
     "Well." I sit back. "I want to support you." This sounds trite, and yet I mean it.
     "I thought I was going to get rid of it," she says in a low voice, not looking at me. "I mean, no-brainer, right? There's no way I can have a baby."
     No, there isn't. "And then what happened?" I ask.
     Another shrug. She still won't look at me. "I don't know. I keep meaning to call and then I just—don't." She glances up at me and I see a surprising welter of pain and confusion in her eyes; I'm so used to seeing Alex seeming laid-back to the point of indifference, the emotion surprises me. "I've had two abortions already," she says and looks away again. I feel a cold ripple of surprise; I didn't know that, and I'm surprised she didn't tell me. We've been good friends, maybe even best friends, since college. Since that night I showed up on her doorstep and she let me in, no questions asked.
     She sighs wearily. "I don't know. I'm being stupid. I mean, there's no way I could keep a baby. I don't even have health insurance. And in any case…" She paused, lowering her head so her hair falls in front of her face. “I can’t really see me as a mom, can you?”
     No, I can’t, but this doesn’t seem like the time to say it, so I just murmur something unintelligible.
     “I mean, I’d probably forget it somewhere, I’m that flaky,” she says with a little laugh that still sounds sad. “And you know, babies are so full on, aren’t they? They don’t just go away when you’re tired of them or whatever.” I say nothing and she laughs again and shakes her head. “Listen to me. Just the fact that I’m saying all this proves my point, right?”
     I have a terrible feeling that she’s asking this question because she wants me to tell her that it doesn’t, that she’d be a good mom, she can do this. I don’t say any of it. The words bottle in my throat so I can barely swallow, because I know what I want now, and I want it so badly. "You don't have to keep it," I hear myself saying, and I sound weird, distant, like someone else is talking and I am floating up above the table, watching this play out.
     Alex stares at me, frowning, clearly waiting for more. And there is more. "You don't have to keep it," I say again, firmly now. "But you don't have to get rid of it either. You could give it to me. Rob and I could adopt the baby, Alex."

You can buy This Fragile Life, in paperback or ebook, here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A new blog!

Well, revamped anyway. I've moved my blog from, since I no longer live in Cumbria, and have restyled it a little bit. I also have an exciting new schedule for content, which is as follows:

Monday Meal: I'll share a meal with recipe, photos, and kids' reviews, that I've made this week.

Tuesday Treasure: I'll share a book I'm reading that I've enjoyed, or spotlight an author.

Wednesday Writing: I'll share a few lines of what I'm currently working on.

Thursday Throwback: I'll spotlight an older book of mine, with a possible giveaway.

Friday Photo: I'll post a photo from my daily walks or town life.

So hopefully there will be something for everyone, and it will be more interesting to visit with far more regular posts. So, to kick it off, I'm posting a few lines from my brand new work-in-progress, Marry Me at Willoughby Close, which is the last book in the Willoughby Close series and is out in July.  Here is the gorgeous new cover:

This story is a romance, but it is also about Alice James' journey to becoming a stronger, more independent woman. I've written three chapters so far, and am really enjoying how Alice is discovering her inner feistiness! Here is a snippet from the beginning, when Henry Trent is grilling her about being a companion to his aunt, Lady Stokeley:

Alice stared into Henry’s lean face with his bright eyes and straight nose and pursed lips and heard herself answering in a voice bordering on strident, “So I want to think about it for a moment. It’s a question I take seriously. The last thing Lady Stokeley should have is interrupted care.”
     Henry’s nostrils flared as he gave a quick, short nod. “A fair point, and yet you have already started your employment.”
     “True, but if I’m not mistaken, you are considering terminating it,” Alice returned, surprising both of them. She almost sounded bolshy. “So it’s worth making sure I want to fight for my cause.”
     Henry cocked his head, his gaze sweeping over her like a laser. “And do you?”
-->      “Yes.”

You can preorder Marry Me at Willoughby Close here. Stop by tomorrow for a Thursday Throwback and giveaway!