OK, I know this is unusual - me posting twice in two days - but I promise you, it will be worth it!

Back in 1995, I was lucky enough to work on one of my favourite projects with Paul about a friendly little car who simply wanted to help others.  I fell in love with the story and road tested it with other children - many of whom still ask me about it today, as do children who have seen the original book in the school library.

However, unfortunately that was not BAP's time. Since then Paul has worked tirelessly on this project and it has, at last, come to fruition!  Check out the links below.

Before you do, let me reiterate - the book is available for FREE download on I/Pads and I/Phones so please help SCRAP as he's now known, travel the world by taking a look at the book.

Clicking the link below takes you to the home page where you can download the book.  Let me know what you think - this project is VERY special to me.  More about this special project will follow, but I wanted to get this out to you while it's hot off the press! 

http://www.middlekingdomstudios.com/SCRAP_eBook.php - to download it, simply click on the 'Box' at the bottom of the web page..

Ian has also had a song composed and produced a video of the book which runs for the duration of the song. It's on our YouTube site. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8_nIhZJXWw We hope you like it.

Until next time! :-)

Hi Guys

First of all, a massive thanks to those of you who have been regularly visiting this site in spite of my long, enforced absence - I am sorry that I have neglected this site for a while but that has been due to unavoidable circumstances.

Unfortunately I have had so much going on with coursework and other commitments that at one point I almost had to make an appointment with myself to breathe! :-)

Seriously, with luck, those hectic, stressful days are behind me for a while and I'm able to work on other, more enjoyable aspects of my life - like my writing and updating this website.

Those of you who have followed my blogs may remember me mentioning a wonderful new writer - Michael Rowland.  I have now added two reviews of his wonderful book, Leap Year, to this site.  If you haven't already bought his book, do so.  It is well worth the money!

As far as the writing is going, there is some very exciting news in the offing.  I will keep you updated as often as I can - suffice to say for now that I'm having to work flat out to write 3 books ... one of which I'm very excited about because the character has kind of taken on a life of her own.  The last time this happened was when I wrote The Wishing Tree.  I love this situation because the book virtually writes itself.  

Those of you who are writers will understand what I mean when I say that a character has become a person in her own right.  So many strange things have occurred around this book that I know I'm meant to write it.  For a start, the characters' name is completely off the wall for me.  Until this book, all the characters I've had have been named Elizabeth (or one of it's variations), Sally, Sarah, Christine, Justine ... suddenly, from out of left field, I get a character called Shannon!  Completely different type of name ... her looks are very different too - long, heart shaped face, wide open brow, grey eyes (very, very pretty) and FIERY RED hair, straightened and down her back ... in complete variance with my usual description of blonde, blue eyes, pretty...  What was also surprising was I was in class (finished my course now) and my tutor revealed she is running a course at the end of the month - about the exact subject my novel is about! :-)  I could go on - basically it's a string of coincidences.  

Someone recently asked me where I get my ideas from.  Well, I'm insatiably nosey and, I confess, I do watch out for unusual things while I'm out.  I'm looking for something that will hook me and make me wonder about the story behind either what I'm seeing, or the conversation/comment I've overheard.  Very often, there is no need for me to relate the conversation because it is just the seed - at other times it may be something juicy so it will find its way, in a vastly altered form, into the story (bear in mind that 99% of what I write is for children!)  I love old buildings, castles, or strange, tiny ones (I passed a miniature house while on a trip to Oxford a while ago and that gave me a few ideas too).

I also keep a journal - when I got my first book commissioned I looked through the  old journals until I got a spark of an idea - an isolated incident gave me a great starting point for the central story and it was a simple matter to build the rest around that - I doubt I would have remembered that incident if I hadn't written it in my journal.

Another thing that I love is listening to older people's life stories.  They are so interesting and can tell you some remarkable tales of courage and tenacity in the terrible "olden days".  Listening to their stories can give you a real flavour of what life was like back in the 30's, 40's and 50's - the days before life became easier with computers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners.  Our parents and certainly our grandparents never had the internet to do their homework on.  If they wanted to find information for their homework they had to go to the library and trawl through the encyclopaedias, history books and other informative tomes.  Today if a child wants to know about the War of the Roses they simply ask Google or Jeeves!  It's shocking to think that now a child can get an essay written for him by someone else who has a speciality in the subject, instead of having to do the work himself.  I will say at this point that I do NOT agree with this practice, merely that I am aware of its existence (I applied for a job and was told this was what I would be doing, which is why I mentioned it here).  

I will often sit, transfixed, as an older person tells me what life was like at school - how different everything was and how they were taught.  To think that they had to spend hours handwriting their essays for school, and how they had to work hard because they were afraid of or in awe of their teachers.  I'm always shocked when I go into a senior school today and find children are allowed to listen to their ipods and have their phones on during lessons.  When did children take over society?  That's another story!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that inspiration surrounds us, you just have to look for it.  

Next time I will take a look a the importance of atmosphere in a book, and how the choice of words the author uses can transform a beautiful scene into a terrifying one or vice versa.

Feel free to poke around the site and have a browse through the various sections. This site is constantly being updated so you may come across some new and exciting things over the next few months.

Until then, take care and feel free to contact me with anything you want added to this site (or covering in the blog), any success stories or indeed any comments (you can contact me by leaving me a message on the contact page and I will get back to you). 

This is not my usual blog and I will be adding one later this month when things settle down for me (it's going to be a mad race to June).

Before I go any further, thank you for all your lovely birthday wishes - I had a brilliant day and it was wonderful to get to see everyone and top it off with a great night out with one of my closest friends, going for a meal at my favourite restaurant, Zizzis (thank you to the staff there for the amazing service that day, and their kindness in getting me a table even though I hadn't booked and they were so busy - and then giving us a free drink to celebrate!) After a leisurely meal we went next door to the pictures to see the Muppet Show (much better than I thought and light and frothy which is just what I wanted and needed.

However, I had to post today because a remarkable coincidence has led me to meet an incredibly talented writer, Michael Rowlands and I wanted you all to know about his childrens' books 9/11 and Leap Year.

I met him on Saturday in Waterstones while waiting for my friend.  I spotted him patiently waiting for people to approach his table to sign his books and it brought back memories of my own experience when I'd stood doing just that.  On impulse I went up - I wasn't going to, but i was drawn like a magnet and we started to chat.

Michael is an incredibly talented writer who is destined to go far.  With his background in printing he self published his first book and it sold like hot cakes until eventually a publisher took notice!   People are sitting up and taking notice of him and his patience is finally paying off.

Talking to him, he made me feel at ease and I will be interviewing him next week, which I am very excited about.  He has a fascinating story to tell and is an inspiration to would be writers everywhere.  His third book will be released later this year.

On the face of it, I thought Leap Year, his latest book, was going to be a teenage, coming of age romance - how wrong I was.  I won't spoil anything but I will say he takes the reader along on a rollercoaster ride that sends shivers of both fear and delight down the reader's spine.

Look out for the interview which I will print here as well but, if like me, you can't wait to find out more about him why not visit his website at http://www.michaelrowland.me.uk/books.html and have a browse.  Michael is very busy signing books the length and bredth of the country so go along and buy a book for that special person in your life when he is in your area.

More to follow towards the end of the month.  It's a busy time with lots of birthdays and college work so please bear with me if the regular blog does not appear until the end of the month.

Thank you to everyone who visits this site - I will keep you updated with the progress of my own writing.  However, I will also be adding some interviews and publicity shots of some very talented actors/authors and singers over the next few weeks so keep checking back.

If there is anything you would be particularly interested in seeing on this site then feel free to contact me and let me know.

Until next time...
Hi everyone, sorry there's been a long delay in posting a new blog - in fact it would appear that I have a few technical problems, sadly.  As a result, one post (a crucially important one) has disappeared into the ether ... I will try to incorporate it here because it was so important (especially for what we hope is to follow this year).

Looking back at last year it was a kind of mixed bag but with some really interesting twists and turns thrown in for good measure.  I passed all my exams which was completely unexpected - then came a trip to London which enabled me to meet two of the most wonderful people - one of whom I already knew (Tessa) and the lovely Jodi London.  She and I had been emailing each other for a while but sadly had never met - she was even more wonderful (beautiful, kind and gentle) in person as she had come across in her emails.  It wasn't long before I was able to fully relax with her and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with both of them - I was very sad when it was over (I can only pray we will see each other again).  I would like to take this opportunity to thank both of those lovely ladies for taking the time and trouble to come over - Tessa, you know how I feel about you! :-)

This year it is publish or bust for me!  I'm flat out determined to either have a publisher or an agent by the end of this year.  As a result I am sending out an inordinate amount of submissions in the hope that one of the "big fish" bites ... psychologically, if you have a number of submissions out there, it won't hurt quite as bad when I get the rejections back because there is still hope - for me I start to lose it when I have NO hope (I have a crippling lack of confidence and belief in myself and the only thing I know for sure is that I can write.  That's why I'm pushing for it this hard.

This could be a vitally important year in many other ways and I will keep you informed as things progress.  Last year everything turned around for me when I started deiberately thinking positively and seeing the good in everything (that took a lot of effort - my happiness journal is pretty full now and frequently I have been scraping the barrel on the bad days (but that's the point of it - chronicling the good things that have happened, not the bad).

Paul has a new website after going into business with his brother.  Their address is http://filmandscriptsproductionsltd.webs.com.  Check out the Wishing Tree video and Face in the Clouds - and tell them I sent you.

I have just had an interesting conversation with him and a few others about the future of books ... he says (and several people agree with him) that the future of books is ebook.  That this is the way to go.  I emphatically disagree and would absolutely hate to see the death of books as we know them.  There is nothing better than picking up a book and flicking through it - a screen held in your hand doesn't have the same feel, you have to click and button to go on or back to a page and then have to wait while it loads (I've got one so I'm not talking about things I've never tried).  Don't get me wrong, I can see the advantages, especially if you need to travel and don't want the wait of 1000's of books (my own can carry 1200 books in its memory), or if you need to go somewhere on a bus and can't carry anything as heavy/bulky as a book.  THEN I would agree that they are brilliant (that's how I use mine).  I know everything is getting smaller these days (because they CAN or because they JUST WANT TO?!  Who knows?)  So what do you think?  Have we seen the death of books like we saw the death of the nylon record (which, happily, seems to be making a bit of a come back recently).  Let me know your thoughts on the matter.

I have been lucky enough to make quite a few new friends, partly through a charity I work with, partly from my course - and then there are the writers from NaNoWriMo who are penfriends. 

You see, writing is an intrinsic part of me - I will sit all day and read or write, never getting bored, never needing to go out even if I didn't want to.  I completely lose track of time.  But I have a lot of writing to do this year (a hell of a lot!) so I decided, alongside my friend Amanda (from NaNoWriMo) to set up the Year of Continuous Writing.  It works a little like NaNo (in fact, this year's NaNo will be allowed to form part of it) but YOU choose the word goal and you have 365 days to achieve it!  This has several advantages from what I can see - firstly, you have the support of everyone involved, you are more motivated if you know you have to hit a certain number of words by a certain time, it stops you prevaricating (which is a big one for me).  Because I have so many different types of writing I need to do I decided to allow anything that was creative based - blogs (just realised, this blog counts towards my total - mine is 2 million words - you read that right - by the 15th February 2013 for charity (the Alzheimers Society).  Anyone interested in sponsoring me, drop me a line here and let me know. 

For those of you who are writers out there, where do you get your inspiration from?  I'd love to know - and what is your favourite writing book?  I have a few but the Novel Writers Boot Camp is wonderful - you can really hear the Sergeant Major barking orders at you (the guy who wrote it was in the army but was also a writer at heart).  If you would like to join in with the Year of Continuous Writing, we have one more starting space left (we can't continue it indefinately because we need to regroup at some point and see what has worked, what hasn't and even if it's worth carrying on (if the demand is high then we probably will continue - I certainly want this to be a yearly thing!).

Sadly I don't have much planned this year but I'm sure I'll find something ... I'm the sort of person who gets very down if there is NOTHING to look forward to on the horizon, even if it's just a tiny glimmer the size of a fleck of glitter - if it's there, I feel better.  This year I am definitely going to see a show next Wednesday (hoping to meet a particualr singer from one of my favourite bands), almost certainly going to town on St Patrick's Day after a gig was announced.  I wouldn't usually go because I dislike going to town when it's going to be busy but I did say last year if they were EVER in my home town again I would go ... I can't refuse now!  If it wasn't St Patrick's Day it wouldn't bother me but it's going to be mad - and I don't drink!  It's my birthday next month, we are going to see Gilbert O'Sullivan in April and at the end of that month I'm going to London for the Harry Potter tour.  Before that, however, I'm absolutely desperate to get to the London Book Fair ... we'll see how it goes but I'd walk over hot coals to go there because there are something like 53 children's book publishers and agents who are going to be there.  If it is humanly possible I would like to go to Hay on Wye when the book festival is on and also see Hay Castle.  Fingers crossed I'll make it there - I'll need a lift/or a car to get there though!

Hope you are all having a great year so far - I'm so looking forward to hearing your views on my questions above.  This blog and website will be updated on a monthly basis from now on.

Until next time ....

Hi everyone, I thought I'd post while I had a chance - this is turning into a chaotic November!  Take the next two weeks:

Yesterday I had an amazing day - my counselling course went exceptionally well (considerably better than I expected especially as I was a world away from my comfort zone!)  We started learning how to counsel using Cognitive Behavioural techniques, which is completely different to anything I'd done before (I chickened out first and let my partner play the counsellor because she's more experienced and I thought I'd learn a lot from her (I did!)  Unfortunately, we were thrown a curve because we had to SWAP partners after the break, not just swap roles!  However, I'm happy to say that it went well - I need to build up my confidence a little (well, a lot!)

Immediately after the course I went to town to do some Christmas shopping and meet a friend for a meal and a concert.  While I was there I got inspiration for a crucial scene for my nano book so I nearly jumped out of my skin when she turned up.  We strolled up the road for a lovely meal at one of our favourite restaurants and followed that by a fantastic evening at a concert.

The theatre, rather unusually for those around here, actually sold hot drinks which was a huge relief on such a cold night!  The place was absolutely packed and I was worried - I was getting a front row seat if it was the last thing I did! We were pretty much the last in but it was unreserved so people could sit anywhere.  I flew down the stairs (which was tricky as I have a problem with my hip) when I spotted just TWO seats front and centre!  Luckily they weren't being reserved for anyone.

The support act were from Liverpool.  TJ and Murphy are two incredibly talented young lads who are huge in Norway and the rest of Europe.  These guys have a massive future ahead as soon as they get the break which, surely, can't be too far away.  i know everybody has different tastes but I particularly enjoyed them.  They came across as very warm and compassionate and sang with great feeling.  One of my favourite songs, which I've included a link to below was Raymond Steed, a beautiful ballad about the youngest person ever to be killed in World War Two - I have a lot to choose from but as we've just passed Rememberance Day I thought I'd let you hear this, especially as it is a true story.  Let me know what you think!

Kate Walsh came on next - I was particularly excited to see her because I've waited 7 long years.  I first saw her on This Morning and have liked her ever since but she has never been to my area.

Kate came across as shy, honest, friendly, funny and very girly (in a good way) and had a great rapport with the audience.  I could have watched her all night, even without a support artist.  She was joined on the stage by a cellist who gently underlined the beauty of her songs with her soft playing of the instrument which she handled tenderly, as though dealing with a new born baby, gently cradling it and creating a unique effect which added a depth and beauty to Kate's songs and music.  The result was sometimes startling - the music itself actually brought tears to my eyes because it was so touching, and unusual for me because, I'll be honest, I'm usually more drawn to the lyrics than the music.  I am spoiled for choice!  I could link so many of her songs to this website (I was going to link Snow but she hasn't done a video of that yet, which is a shame - it is her latest song) but I think I'll go with Fireworks because it is November so it seems the most appropriate!  Kate got the inspiration and wrote this song on firework night itself.  I think the songs speaks for itself! 

I was exhausted when I got in!  Today was busy but tomorrow I'm out on a course and doing Reiki for a lovely lady.  Then my friend is coming round (the same one I went out with last night).  Saturday I'm on a course from 10 til 4 and then I have to shoot into town for a meal and a show to see the Sundowners - have a listen to their music, especially Gone Into the Sun at http://www.myspace.com/thesundownersuk

Tuesday I have my course and then I go to Southport (a good hour away) to see a show (Gilbert O'Sullivan this time).  If you have time, please listen to his single Where Would we be, Without Tea? which you can find at http://www.gilbertosullivan.net/sound_&_vision/promo_videos.htm and That's All They Wanted to Say which is about the Twin Towers (a beatiful, tearjerking song if ever I've heard one).  I have always loved his music and I was so excited when I got an interview after 16 years of trying many years ago now in London (the Jazz Cafe)  I never really understood what I liked about him but now I think I do - his lyrics are very clever, witty or thoughtful. 

Here's an interesting question - I was having this discussion with several friends and a surprising amount of people said that they never really listen to the words of a song but that the music is what resonates with them.  They can enjoy a song because they like the music but not the lyrics (or sometimes not even realise what a song is about).  What do you feel - is the music or the lyrics most important to you?  I'll post the results in a month's time!

The day after the show (when we'll get back around 1 a.m.) we have a family birthday and the day after that I'm at yet another show, this time Neville Skelly!  Phew!  And that's just November!  I have to fit in my writing (50K for NaNoWriMo) and my coursework/journals between all that!

Until next time!

REMEMBER:  It's the things you don't do in life that you regret, not what you do, do!
Well it's that time of year again!  No, not Christmas - yet!  I'm talking about that time when writers the world over unite in a crazy race from 0-50,000 words in one manic month!  Why?  Well for the history on NaNo (and to join) you'll need to scoot on over to www.nanowrimo.org - but don't go yet!  Basically it's a fun way to get a first draft of that novel you've always wanted to write - effectively it's around the same length as Of Mice and Men or Carrie so, technically, it is a full length book.

If someone told me that I HAD to choose just two hobbies to keep me going on a desert island I would have no trouble because top of my list would always be reading and writing (that doesn't sound right the other way round, does it?)

Why do I love it so much?  Well for one thing I'm like a sponge - ideas flow into me constantly and a simple phrase or image will trigger an idea.  Writing is like the old fashioned blood letting which made the patients feel so much better.  Just like a sponge, my ideas will keep coming until eventually I am saturated with them and I have to write or bust ... hmmm, that doesn't conjure up very nice images, does it? Sorry! :-)

I am on a course at the moment which demands a lot of writing but even that isn't enough to satisfy me.  I have, bizarrely, agreed to write DOUBLE - count it, DOUBLE - the requisite words for charity (The Alzheimers Society).  I must be mad, especially when you consider the fact that I'm also mentoring several people as well (thanks for what you said, Mandy, that meant a lot).

So where do I get my inspiration?  Well that depends on the stimulus around me.  People I see obviously set my imagination going - guys, if any of you from my counselling course are now panicking, please don't.  I would NEVER use anything that happened, or anybody as inspiration.  Just wanted to get that out - that is the only place that is taboo.  I also get ideas from Paul (see further down on the site), pictures, and things I see while I'm out and about and even song lyrics are fair game - I take the idea, twist it and run with it - you'd be surprised what comes out.

I use several techniques which really work - if anybody wants to know email me and I'll do a blog on my techniques.

Incredibly it's been almost a year since I started this site and I've learned a lot and met some wonderful people.  So what have I learned?  I've discovered that I'm stronger than I think I am and that even when I doubt myself that doesn't mean I'm not capable - another HUGE thank you here to M and L from my course for what you said today - you know who you are!  My new year's resolution is to get some confidence in myself. 

Don't be alarmed by the long breaks between the blogs - there are sometimes crazy times - like between now and January I have no less than 7 shows and 2 parties to go to, plus my course and NaNo so I will be kind of busy but I'll endeavour to get back on a more regular basis.

So, I have two questions:

1)    If you are a writer, tell me where you get your inspiration from?

2)   Also, there is a rumour the government want to stop Halloween.  When we were        little it was just a bit of fun but have things been taken too far?

Tell me what you think either by commenting on the post or via the contact page (don't worry, you don't need to provide your telephone number).  I'd love to hear from you.  Hope to update the BREAKING NEWS section of the site soon.

Until next time!  Have fun!

REMEMBER:  It’s the things you DON’T do in life that you regret, not the things you do, do.
Welcome to a new month, a new blog and, apparently a new and much more positive phase in my life!:-)

First, I just want to apologise - I said recently I would include a short story for adults and one for children every week.  I wasn't expecting life to turn out as it has done when I said that - frankly I'm too busy!  I'm not complaining though because it's a good thing and I still intend to deliver on my promise - I have a number of short stories hand written but I haven't had time to type them up.

Everyone has times in their life when they wonder whether it's worth continuing on the same path - Gilbert O'Sullivan put it nicely when he asked in his song, "Dear dream of mine, am I wasting time, thinking that you, will be my dream come true?  Dear dream, I guess, if the answer is yes, what must I do, if I'm to get to you?"  He goes on to say how hard he's tried yet he's still down because nothing is happening.  I've always loved that song!  I was listening to it recently, having just returned from holiday and one line hit home.  "But like a lot of things in life when you're down, nothing comes 'round that isn't a mess."  How true!  At that moment I decided to change my attitude completely and see if that had any effect ...

I dug out my trusty happiness journal and, after documenting my holiday in great detail (it should have gone in a sepearte one technically but I had such a good time I put it there!) I read back through it and realised something strange.  Even on the saddest, most painful, difficult days of my life there has always been a ray of sunshine somewhere!  I can hear you screaming at me that I'm wrong but I can only explain what I do - the rest is up to you.  More of that later.

Having read through it again I decided that a much more positive attitude was required if I was to make my dreams come true.  There's no point in just sitting there, hoping a book deal will land on your lap (or whatever you particularly want), you have to get out there and actively do something about it. 

People talk a lot about Cosmic Ordering.  I'm not sure how to do that, to be honest, but I changed a lot of little things - for example, I refused to accept any negativity (you can't/won't do this, that or the other - the way I look at it, the word can't doesn't really exist!  You won't find it in a dictionary - yes I know you will find cant but not can't before anyone writes in to tell me - because it is a contraction of two words: can and not, both of which are an attitude you can choose.  Either you say you can do it or you can or will not do it - what you think has a huge bearing on the outcome), really believe in myself, start being pro-active by letting people know that I am a writer.  Admittedly, I've only got one book in the shops (it's one of a series) and ghostwritten a number of other books for American companies, but that still classifies me officially as an author.  I then joined Harper Collins' site Authonomy and downloaded the best book I've written, The Wishing Tree.  For those who don't know about this site, the books are voted by the public and rise or fall according to their popularity - they are anonymously awarded star ratings.  If you get to the top 5 a panel of editors will look at the book (and agents also frequent the boards).  I started out on around the 20th July at 4975 ... 3 weeks later I'm at 1753!  I wasn't expecting to rise at all - thought my ratings would fall if anything.  I've read some wonderful books on that site, especially Secrets of the Forest by Neville Kent. 

So how has it worked?  Well I kind of hinted that it had at the beginning of the post, didn't I?!  Truth is, the last few weeks has been nothing short of Amazing!  So much good stuff has happened, but the highlights are:

  1. Paul and I are going to London on important business (more on that when I know exactly how things are going to pan out - don't want to jinx it!)
  2. I've been longing to meet some American friends for a while now and they are coming in two weeks;
  3. I'm rising nicely in the Authonomy charts - and have made some great friends;
  4. I have more friends than ever now, since I've had the courage to join a great group - we started off as fellow people on the course , now it is finished we are good friends who still ensure we meet up every Friday - once we get talking we forget the time.  It's a great support network;
  5. I've had an approach from a publisher for The WIshing Tree (again, more about that when things are firmed up)
  6. I passed my Counselling exam and am able to move on to the higher level - that was the toughest one I've ever done so I'm very proud of myself;
  7. I've increased the flow of visitors to this site dramatically;
  8. I've been asked to write a guest blog for Bryan Cohen's creative writing site which is http://www.build-creative-writing-ideas.com if you want to have a nosey.  A brilliant site for writers! 

I could go on but you get my point - everything has changed for the better and I do think it's down to the change in my attitude.  I no longer feel low and that I have no talent - I know now that we can all do anything we want if we put our heart and soul into it.  Sometimes it's the small things which make me happy and sometimes the big, but at the moment it's good news all the way - touch wood!

When I write in my happiness journal I take a careful note of the day - I have yet to come across a day when something good/funny/lovely didn't happen.  Some days it can be dramatic (like when I passed my exam) and at other times I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel, at which times I have to write silly things that make me smile such as the sun shone, the dog that looked fierce was very friendly, or the baby who played Peekaboo with me in the bank when I'd had a stinker of a day and laughed herself silly - her laughter was infectious and everyone in the bank was smiling and laughing at her.  It's important, as well, that I am happy when I receive other people's good news.  I have one golden rule - absolutely nothing negative goes in that journal - I have a  proper diary as well (I actually have about 4) for my everyday thoughts but this is my favourite - it's great fun to read it back, especially if you are having a bad day.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I never have a down day, never have bad news etc, of course I do!  But I have mastered the art of shrugging it off, rather than letting it affect me.

Try it for a month and I'd love to know how you all get on.  Until next time ...

I've talked about a lot of subjects here but not one that is close to many people's hearts - music!

One of my favourite ever records is Put the Sun Back by Liverpool band The Coral (well, technically they're from Hoylake but who's checking?!)  I listen to this song whenever I'm feeling down and before I know it my spirits have lifted.  Please click on the video above to have a listen and let me know what you think.  Incidentally, I've been trying to move this clip to the middle of this post but I seem to be doing something wrong.  If anyone knows how to correct this feel free to email me - your help will be appreicated!

I love all sorts of different types of music but the most important thing to me is the lyrics.  If a says something that I can really relate to it tends to quickly become one of my favourites.  Another brilliant song, in my humble opinion, is Anytime by Gilbert O'Sullivan.  He seems to be having something of a resurgence and I love the way he mixes comedy with sadness and joy in all his albums - there really is always something for everyone.  Anytime was an instant favourite of mine because it's catchy AND it got a beautiful message which relates to me and all my really close friends.  It's telling the other person that basically I'll be there for them WHENEVER they need them.  I have a few particularly close friends for whom that is especially true (and I know the feeling is reciprocated ... you know who you are!)  Kate Walsh is another person I could listen to all day - as is Julie Maguire who's song Letting Go is amazing!

People often ask me what I listen to when I write.  Well, the truth is that usually I write in silence because I find any noise, whether television, talking or music very annoying and it tends to distract me.  More than once I've incorporated a scene from a television programme into one of my stories by accident!  However, as always there are exceptions to the rule and there are occasions when I DO feel the need for some musical inspiration (it can work really well if I'm blocked).  In those situations I will be more likely to listen to either a classical piece or just some instrumental music - the type I listen to can have a great deal of influence on what type of piece I end up with.

Have you checked out my new fiction section yet?  I was struggling to write the first story, Hope, and put some instrumental music on, closed my eyes and freewrote - this was the result.

So what is YOUR favourite music?  Leave a message on the comments page - maybe your suggestions will lead us all to discover new music we all come to love.  I'm off to listen to Butterfly House now, the Coral's latest CD which has some beautiful songs!

More will be added to this website within the next day or so - keep your eyes peeled.
Finally I'm back!  Sorry it's been so long guys but I've had SO MUCH going on - and exams to top the lot. 

Just got back from Florida with my friend a week ago and had a FANTASTIC time.  The weather was so hot - it actually hit 101 degrees!  We were melting but still enjoyed every second.  We went on Harry Potter ride 11 times it was that good (though I wouldn't recommend the Griffindor (SP?) ride unless you have nerves of steel!  It's short but NOT sweet!

The castle (and, in fact, the whole of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) takes your breath away with the incredible attention to detail.  Even as a writer I cannot find the word to describe it's brilliance.  Not to spoil it for anyone who plans to go, but the pictures DO move - I was naughty and touched a picture to see if I could figure out how it was done but I couldn't!  It just felt like a normal painting! :-)  Every single window in the shops that were not open had something to look at (the best time to see the Golden Snitch (which is in one of hte last shops you come to as you head for the caslte on the right hand side is at night (or during a thunderstorm)  It really shows up then, flying around the quaffles (or bludgeons - I'm still jetlagged).  Even the shops that are open have loads to look at both inside and in the windows - we spotted the extendable ear and remembrall (I should have got that for myself!) amongst many other things.  Mr Finche's Dungeon is incredible and what makes it even better is being able to see just a few of the real props they used in the film - they were honest enough to say when it was a replica but they did show us some of the real props.  The Marauder's map was actually working and you could see the footsteps and where they were.  Sadly it was too expensive to buy at $50 when it didn't work - when we were asked they said "The Ministry of Magic insist that we remove any enchantments when we sell things here!"  Both of us said we would have bought it if it had been working.

I have to say it was an absolute pleasure to meet the lovely Thomas and Kim who were staying at our hotel.  Please get in touch if you read this guys.

The Magic Kingdom has a brand new laser show which has to be seen to be believed.  If any of the pictures we took turn out I will post them on here.  They actually made the caslte appear to go into space.  If you're interested, check out The Magic, THe Memories and You - there are a few shows put on the internet (some better than others).  Some of the parades were so beautiful it brought tears to your eyes.  It was the Star Wars convention while we were there and we met some of the cast.

Now I'm back, sadly, but I am raring to go (I could go on and on about the holiday but you are probably not interested).  This holiday allowed me to have a much needed rest and a little sleep (long story) - I was asleep before my head touched the pillow!  Now I'm back I'm all fired up and I have plenty to do and keep you all informed about.  I am going all out to get my writing/editing and proofreading sorted, plus all my exam work.  I passed a whole chunk when I checked on my return so that is a little reassuring.  I now have a little more confidence in completing my studies (two more weeks to go - bites nails!) 

This blog will be updated on a weekly(ish) basis so keep tuned.  Make sure you listen to Letting Go by Julie Maguire.  It's simply beautiful.

Until next time!

Hi everyone, thanks for all your support.  This is just a quick update, though more may be added to this same post at a later date.

Just wanted to update you all on how things are going.  The filming is going really well and most of the scenes inside the house are now complete.  Filming will continue this week and then it's onto the external shots.  Paul says a mega thank you to the cast and crew - everyone is doing a stirling job out there and he says the make up is amazing, so much so I won't recognise him when I see the film!  This is going to be a wonderful horror feature film which we hope will hit the big screen soon.  Paul has had some fantastic publicity photographs taken and will be found on IMDB shortly.  WAY TO GO, PAUL!

On a personal level, I have to thank Jodi, Katarina and Tessa (that HAD to be in alphabetical order to make it fair) for all their help and for taking such a great interest in the screenplays! 

I have had countless people ask why I don't update this site more regularly - the simple fact is that I've been so busy lately I've been meeting myself coming back!  There are many pages still to be added so make sure you keep checking back.

It's that time of year again and I'm super busy but preparing for NaNoWriMo is a great way to relax.   I managed the mini nano last month (more about that later) so in theory I shouldn't have too much trouble completing this years ... however, I can't free up a whole month where I can do nothing but write.  If you love writing and you've never heard of NaNoWriMo, look it up on the web and join in - make sure to say I sent you! :-)  the website is www.nanowrimo.org Not entirely sure what I'm going to write this year.  I have to say a massive hello to Keri and Kristine (again, alphabetically).  We started out as NaNo Buddies - and ended up as friends.  Thanks guys - I honestly don't know what I'd do without you. 

One final point before I go - I want this to be an interactive site so please feel free to drop me a line or ask for Help Wanted.  I don't bite! :-)  I will update the site the first opportunity I get and one of the pages I plan on adding is a feedback/survey page because I really want to hear your views.

Until next time!