Posted in Writing


It was quite by chance that a David Bowie track on the radio the other day got me thinking about writing a new post…maybe a series of posts depending on how well this one turns out.

So what is this new post about? Well as the heading says above, it’s about music and memories. And the David Bowie track? Let’s Dance, taken from his 1983 album of the same name. Why is it so special? Because in September 1983 we were spending a fortnight in Spain with friends. It was a month before we were due to get married, and we were staying up in the hills just outside Calpe on the Costa Blanca. The joke was were were having the honeymoon first. I think if that had been the case, we definitely would not have had friends tagging along. At the time CDs did not exist. Instead cassettes were the alternative to vinyl. I remember we took two albums on that holiday: Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Elton John’s Too Low For Zero. By the time we left for home I probably knew every song by heart.

The holiday didn’t get off to a very good start. Landing at Alicante, we were met by an English courier. She had lived in Spain for many years, working as a district nurse in the area we were staying. We boarded the coach which would take us to a central dropping off point where our hire cars could be collected. During the journey she checked everyone on her clipboard and handed out sets of keys. Except when she came to us, there was no record of our booking. So when the coach arrived at its destination we were instead, driven to our villa by one of the sons of a local restaurant owner. The courier apologised and told us she would be back the next morning to sort out a car for us.

With the car organised, our holiday began. Days spent by the pool, or sightseeing and evenings eating out in the local restaurants. A wonderfully relaxing fortnight. CDs weren’t the only things not around at the time. There were no digital cameras. We were still using rolls of film. Our friend was a keen amateur photographer and taking a photo was something he rarely rushed. He’d brought a tripod and I particularly remember in Guadalest, one of the mountain villages we visited, how he took time in setting up his shots there. When we arrived home he told us he wound back the film but the camera mechanism jammed. He took it into the bathroom when it was dark, pulled down the blind and managed to get the back of the camera case off. Only to find there was no film in the camera! I’m still not sure how that happened to someone as thorough as him, but it obviously did.

As far as food went we were spoilt for choice, particularly when it came to fish. It was great to have our evening meals outside sitting on a restaurant terrace or in a garden with a chorus of cicadas in the background. A friend had recommended an Indonesian restaurant in Benidorm where you could order 4, 8, 12 or 14 course meals. Not as much of a gastronomic challenge as you might think though, as the larger the number of courses, the smaller the portions of each dish became. I think I got as far as the 12 course, (sharing with my OH) and that was my limit. In the village near the villa there was a family run café/restaurant where we occasionally dropped down for morning coffee, or lunch. One of the sons was a doppelganger for Bryan Ferry. The first time he arrived at the table to take our drinks order, we did a double take. We got chatting and learned he was a real fan, had been to all Bryan’s concerts, including one in Madrid the previous year, and had every one of his albums.

We had one scary and rather mysterious moment during our stay at the villa. The area was known as Little Belgium as many Belgians had holiday homes there or had relocated permanently. One early morning while it was still dark, dogs began to bark. Then outside our bedroom window there was a strange throaty snuffling noise. It moved away and moments later we heard cats yowling. And then all hell let loose. I heard cane furniture on the veranda being knocked over as whatever was out there seemed to be having a set to with several felines. By the time we had pulled on clothes and the men had gone outside to see what was going on, it was all over. Two cats were prowling around the pool, hackles raised, still in fight mode. There were tufts of fur everywhere, including on the surface of the water To this day, what happened still remains a mystery. We did, however, remember on that first evening when we were given a lift up to the villa, the headlights of the car lit up the eyes of an animal partially hidden on the side of the road. It quickly disappeared and we heard the driver say ‘ah lupo‘, which is wolf. The location of the villa was on the edge of open ground and scrubland which led into the mountain and one of Spain’s national parks. Who knows, maybe our early morning visitor was a wolf or some kind of wild dog, come down to scavenge. Whatever it was, the cats soon saw it off.

I guess the memory of this holiday has always lingered in my mind because it preceded our wedding and the start of our new life together. I’ve been back to the Spanish mainland many times since and enjoyed holidaying there at other locations. But over the years urbanization has crept along the coast, bringing with it more shops, bars and inevitably, tourists. That capsule of time in 1983, reminds me how different it had been then. Relaxed, less commercialised; where the local postman would call in to that family run café each morning and stay for a while to chat with the owner over a coffee. That time may have gone for ever, but it’s something I’ll always remember. And who knows? One day, that backdrop just might end up in my latest book.

Posted in Writing


I’m late with my February update. That’s because I have been plagued with back problems – old age does not come alone as my grandmother used to say! This is historic from when we travelled down to Cornwall in a friend’s car back in 2000. Stopping off to stretch our legs before travelling on to the farmhouse B & B we had booked, I stepped from the pavement into the road and a pain shot from the base of my spine up to my waist. Since then, despite physio and chiropractor appointments, it surfaces now and then, and at the most inconvenient times! I had been clear for a couple of years, but once a weakness opens up in your back, it’s there for ever, lying in wait, ready to cause chaos. The irony is, I can bend, kneel and stretch for 99% of the time without anything happening. But then there is that one day, and when I’m least expecting it, that the pain strikes. At its best it lasts a few days, at its worst – as in this last bout – nearly a fortnight. During that time sitting at the PC was fine, but only for very short amounts of time before my back locked up. That meant writing had to be abandoned completely.  Walking about I was fine, but even sitting to watch TV could cause problems.  Sleeping too was difficult. I had to roll out of bed and on some nights it was almost impossible to move without experiencing this awful sharp grabbing pain. A steady application of ice cold compresses, anti-inflammatory rubs and Ibuprofen eased but failed to shift it – and yes, I do use the Ibuprofen very sparingly. I have a booklet of physio exercises tailored to help lower back pain and these have proved a godsend. During the years I have lived with this, I’m aware that the onset is swift and unexpected, as is its departure. Last Saturday morning I woke up and there was no pain, no difficulty moving. I am now wondering whether I might be dealing with a trapped nerve – maybe I need another trip to the chiropractor? At least it means for the moment (crossing fingers and toes) I’m back to normal and the writing is back on track.

So what other news is there for February? Well we had our Covid shots mid-Feb. The vaccine centre had been set up in The Pavilion, a local events venue. The date coincided with that very cold spell we had. Our appointments were 5.10 and 5.20. We actually got our shots at 6.15. It was absolutely freezing outside and normally we would have gone into the building, but there were around ten people in front of us, more inside and the queue didn’t move very quickly. Once we got through the doors, however,  there was a radiator near the bar which we made the most of when we reached it – and thankfully the queue inside moved much quicker. The actual shot was painless. My only reaction was a swollen  aching arm and OH said he felt a little shivery but the next day we were both fine.  

Yesterday (Thursday) I had an optician appointment and caught the bus into the city. I had not been on public transport for nearly a year and apart from the Covid shot at the Pavilion, had not been into the city either. Typically getting public transport to work in with the appointment time was not easy. But, it did give me a little time to wander and have a look around. There were queues outside M & S and the Apple Store and Boots was open, but other than that, just a handful of people walking about. Of course the weather didn’t help. Heavy showers and blustery winds; the sort of days that will keep people away from city centres, especially when they is no access to shops or tourist attractions. It was strange to see a place, normally filled with people, so ghostly and quiet. I hope we get back to some form of normality back later in the year. I’ve missed just about everything to do with life as I knew it, although meeting friends face to face must be one of the biggest, as I know it is for most people. I’m looking forward to the end of this month when we can at least meet outside (weather permitting). 

As far as writing is concerned, my back problems sadly brought everything to a temporary halt. Very frustrating when you have scenes and dialogue demanding to be written. Looking at it in a positive way, it gave me a chance to step back for a moment and take stock of what I had already done. I’m almost at the end of the first draft. It’s then that the real hard work begins.

I not only write, I read and review as well. I am currently on my Goodreads 2021 reading challenge of 40 books, I have completed 16 so far, which means I am well ahead of my target. There are so many good titles, I’m spoilt for choice. I’m usually a committed romance reader, but recently my reading preference has moved to psychological thrillers. And there ae some amazing ones out there!¬

So that is it for another month. I live in a world where currently the Sainsbury’s delivery is one of the week’s highlights – yes I know, very sad. However, I’m hoping by the end of the month things will be slightly better. It’s all about getting those Covid figures down to as low a level as possible. Then maybe we can break out the bubbly!

Take care, all of you,  I’ll be back soon.



Posted in Author Promotion, Contemporary Romance, Writing

Happy Publishing Day Lizzie Chantree. The Little Ice Cream Shop by the Sea is out today…

The little ice cream shop by the sea, by Lizzie Chantree

Book link:


From the international bestselling author of If you love me, I’m yours, Ninja School Mum and Babe Driven.

Genie’s family is in crisis. Their seafront business is failing with the loss of Genie’s grandmother and her legendary ice cream flavours. Genie is determined to be the one to save her family’s heritage, but suddenly her mother wants to sell to developers and leave their shared history behind.

Buying the business and taking on a sixty-eight year old business partner, Ada, with a mysterious past and a gorgeous but distracting grandson, Genie sets out to prove her parents wrong.

Ada’s grandson, Cal, wants to protect his gran from ‘pensioner persuader’, Genie, but soon realises that living in a little seaside town and away from the paparazzi in Hollywood can actually give him time to heal. Hiding in a seafront business with its fiery owner and working as kitchen staff, is the only way he can think of to keep his ex-Hollywood glamour-puss, gran from harm. But his meddling might also ruin Ada’s second chance at love.

Hiring a private detective and learning about Genie’s parent’s past makes Cal regret his own impulsiveness. The information he has unearthed could destroy their blossoming romance and turn Genie’s world upside down.

Genie soon discovers that friends can become enemies and your closest family can have lied to you for your whole life.

An English romance, full of humour, family life and second chances at love.


International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree

Book links: Lizzie Chantree.

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Universal book buy link: Networking for writers:

Universal book buy link: If you love me, I’m yours:

Universal book buy link: Ninja School Mum:

Universal book buy link: Babe Driven:

Universal book buy link: Love’s Child:

Universal book buy link: Finding Gina:




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Posted in Contemporary Romance, Cornwall, Costal Romance, Devon, Lost Lights, Norfolk, Walking, work in progress, Writing

January Update…

Well here we are, 1st of Feb already. One whole month of 2021 gone.

Like most people, we had a quiet Christmas. Taking down the decorations on 12th Night, it left me wondering what it was all about.  Our usual trip to do some of our Christmas present shopping in either Salisbury or Winchester was postponed, everything bought on line instead. Our pre-Christmas meets with friends for lunch or a drink; our New Year’s Eve plans, cooking for friends at home. All of this cancelled. We didn’t even get the bubbly out while Jools Holland’s Hootenanny welcomed in the New Year with excerpts of past programmes. In fact during the Christmas period I kept looking at the decorations and the cards and feeling everything was somehow out of kilter. As if I had made a mistake and decorated at the wrong time of year. This wasn’t Christmas; it didn’t feel like Christmas. It was like decorating a room for a party that no one was going to turn up to.

One thing I have noticed on our walks during January is that some people have decided to keep their Christmas garden lights going. I think this is a great idea, providing a bit of cheer during the month, which has mostly been dull and wet. I have to say even under normal circumstances, for me it’s the worst thirty one days of the year and I can’t wait to see it gone.

When the decorations were eventually packed back into their boxes, one question still remained. Where was the new set of lights we’d bought last year? In October 2019  we bought a new set of lights. We used them to illuminate the inside of a large lantern in the lounge. During Christmas 2019 we moved them onto the mantlepiece. When the decorations came down, I remember putting them back into the lantern. That meant they didn’t get packed away in the loft.  In February 2020 I bought a large candle for the lantern,  took the lights out and re-boxed them. Our house is obviously in some sort of UK Bermuda Triangle, because we turned every drawer and cupboard out pre-Christmas 2020 and could not find any trace of them.  We still have hopes we’ll discover them, probably in the last place we ever thought of looking.

The one thing I have missed most during all three of our lockdowns is people, as I am sure most of you have. Social media is great but it is in no way a great substitute for actually being with people. Last summer, some weekends we spent time in friend’s gardens (and our own) for a socially distanced drink. It was allowed then, although not indoors. I’m hoping when they begin relaxing the rules that we will be able to do that again. It may be baby steps back to normality, but spending time with friends and family is so important.

Holidays too, are in limbo at the moment. We have a break in Norfolk booked for mid-May. It’s roll over booking from last year when Covid and the first lockdown scuppered our vacation plans. Not sure whether we’ll lose it second time around. Currently it’s all in the lap of the gods –  and whatever decisions Boris decides to make.  In the meantime, where possible, we have been continuing our daily walks for exercise and fresh air.  It’s all about keeping going, making the best of things and staying positive.





I have just reached 53,000 words. As a writer of larger books (120,000 – 135,000 words) there still seems a long way to go. Certainly as far as the plot is concerned, the journey is no where near its end.  So at this moment in time I’m not even attempting to predict the final word count.  At the very beginning there was a slow start when I reused part of an already written manuscript. A bit like unpicking knitting; time consuming and laborious, but looking at the story so far, I know I made the right decision to re-use it. Currently I’m in completely new territory where the writing is averaging 1500 words a day and the word count is mounting up very quickly.  I’m working towards (fingers crossed) a publication date some time in June.


Well that’s all for this month. I will be  back again at the end of February.  I hope by the time I post again, there will be a glimmer of light at the end of this very long tunnel.  In the meantime, take care and stay safe everyone.


Jo x






Posted in Author Promotion, Crime Thriller, Madison Harper, Writing

It’s Monday 25th January and publication day for Shadow Falls, Wendy Dranfield’s debut for Bookouture…

You thought your little girl was safe at summer camp. You were wrong…

When Detective Madison Harper arrives at a remote summer camp in Shadow Falls, northern California, her heart breaks for Jenny, the sweet little girl last seen splashing in the lake with her friends before she vanished. Peering into the silent cabins filled with rows of neatly made beds, Madison knows this idyllic place is hiding a terrible secret.

The girl’s parents are distraught, and the local police have no leads—they desperately need Madison’s help. She’ll do whatever it takes to crack this case, because it’s the only way back to the son she lost to the care system years ago when she was framed for a crime she didn’t commit.

But with the camp staff keeping tight-lipped and her new partner on the edge of a breakdown, Madison can’t find any truth to her instinct that there is more to Jenny’s perfect parents than meets the eye. Until she discovers a disturbing family portrait Jenny drew at the local library. Was this angelic girl more troubled than anybody knew? Was she in danger from those she trusted most?

One thing is certain, if Madison doesn’t find the answers soon, the lives of more innocent children will be at risk…

An absolutely unputdownable crime thriller that will keep you up all night! Perfect for fans of Lisa Regan, Robert Dugoni and Melinda Leigh.


Buy link:

Available on amazon and Kindle Unlimited:

Wendy is a former coroner’s assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband and 3 cats.

As well as her two crime series and the YA crime novel – The Girl Who Died – Wendy has several short stories published in UK and US anthologies. She has also been shortlisted and longlisted for various competitions, including the Mslexia Novel Competition.

Wendy’s social media:

Twitter: @WendyDranfield
Facebook: Wendy Dranfield Author
YouTube: Wendy Dranfield Author
Pinterest: Wendy Dranfield
Instagram: Wendy Dranfield Author


I’ve read quite a few psychological thrillers this year.  Many promise the reader an ‘unputdownable read’ or an ‘edge of your seat experience’.  Some live up to those promises, some don’t.  Shadow Falls, Wendy Dranfield’s debut for Bookouture delivers all of that and more.  It is indeed an unputdownable read with a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat from page one until ‘The End’.  I’ve read her other three thrillers and really enjoyed them, but this book seems to have elevated her writing to another level.

Central characters Nate and Madison come with baggage. They’ve been in prison, both wrongly convicted. So, as well as their first case, to find a missing twelve-year-old, the need to prove their innocence is an issue for both of them. Madison also needs to find her son who was taken into care when she was imprisoned.  It’s an easy read and the characters are well developed. Nate was studying to be a priest when he was arrested and imprisoned for murder and Madison was a serving policewoman when she was incarcerated. New evidence has seen Nate released with massive financial compensation while Madison served her term and is all but broke.  Wanting someone to help her clear her name and also find her son Owen, she approaches Nate. She also needs a job, and figures that with his similar background he might employ her to work for him. He already has his first case – to find a missing child – and she convinces him with her police background she could be useful.  Nate eventually agrees.

In the beginning they tend to rub each other up the wrong way but each brings their own individual talents to the partnership and as the book progresses, they begin to settle down together.  In their search for missing twelve-year-old Jennifer Lucas, there are false trails, shocks and surprises, all of which keep you on track, wanting to know what exactly did happen to her. It’s a brilliantly written story and I’m really looking forward to the second book which comes out in February. Oh, and as a postscript if you loved Rocky in her Dean Matheson series I’m sure you will love Brody too.

Well deserving of five stars.

Posted in Writing


Now that Christmas has come and gone, we’re looking forward to a new year. 2021 will see me setting a fresh reading target with Goodreads.  I’ve been involved in the reading challenge since 2015 and 2017 was my best year with 60 books completed and reviewed. This year I began with a modest 40 titles, which has ended with 67 books read and reviewed!  Covid has been a contributory factor, as it probably has been for many people who, like me, have turned to reading to fill in time usually spent on activities outside the four walls of home.

Having completed 67 books (it will actually be 68 as I’m currently coming to the end of The Catch by T M Logan) it has been an extremely difficult job to pick ten titles.  There have been many five star reviews; books that have entertained and which I have enjoyed.  In creating this list I have looked at all of my 2020 reads and tried to find the ones which, for me, had that extra something.

So here’s my list and although there are ten, they all have an equal placing as my favourites of 2020.  There’s quite a variety here – a lot of psychological thrillers, yes, as I’ve developed quite a taste for them. But you’ll also find romance, crime and a couple of historical novels in the mix. As a lover of fantasy-  and Arthurian legend in particular – it was also great to discover a new author this year – James Wilde.  His trilogy Pendragon, Dark Age and The Bear King also deserve a mention.




So that’s it for another year, but there’s no let up for me. As a Netgalley reader and reviewer I’ve already completed my first 2021 novel – Wendy Dranfield’s Find My Child, due to be published on 25th January. It’s her debut for Bookouture and I have to say she’s set the bar high for the coming year.



Wishing you all a safe and healthy new year. I’ll be back in January with my monthly update.


Best wishes


Jo x

Posted in Childhood Memories, Christmas, Wiltshire, Writing


Every year during this run up to the festive season, I always seem to get pulled back into memories of childhood Christmases. Of course it was a long time ago and things were vastly different then. For a start it was less commercialised: a gentler time where we were far more innocent as children and keen to believe in what was then a magical as well as religious celebration.


Growing up, most of us believed in Father Christmas. I think I must have been six or seven before I learnt the truth.  Unlike us, these days kids know far more at a much earlier age.  They wouldn’t be fooled by tales of a red suited man with a large white beard climbing down the chimney to delivery presents.  During one particular December a girl in my class told us all that she’d actually met and spoken to Santa. I had always wondered how one man with a sleigh and a team of reindeer could possibly bring toys to children all over the world in one night. Magic, I was told, but after she had boasted to the class about this, I wanted to come face to face with the big man and ask him how he achieved this feat.  Of course had he really appeared I’d have probably been too scared to say anything, and hidden under the bedclothes instead! On this particular Christmas Eve, however, I stayed awake only – yes you’ve guessed – to end up being massively disappointed when humans crept into my room to leave presents. Years later, when I was at college, one of our lecturers told us he believed telling his children Father Christmas existed was a terrible thing to do. It was a lie and he didn’t feel comfortable misleading them. Instead he told them we all gave each other presents at Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that because although it is a myth, for younger children there’s something magical in believing for a while that this big, jovial bearded man in red and white is real.


Christmas at junior school meant decorating the classroom with multi-coloured garlands.  The taste of the glue as we created the linked chains, licking the edges of each one before sealing it into a loop, (no self adhesives in those days) has left a lasting memory. When complete, the garlands were hung across the classroom ceiling and along the walls with red paper bells. Although the bells were kept in a cardboard box and used each year, the garlands were thrown away. It meant we had another round of glue licking to look forward to next year.   


I remember grandmother worked with a German woman called Marta. Every year she would make Advent candle displays and give one to her as a Christmas present.  It was always exciting to light a new candle every week knowing that each flame brought Christmas closer. Her other speciality was a gingerbread house with red paper curtains. Its roof was decorated with Smarties and the walls with silver bobbles and Iced Gems. Picture below in case you have no idea what these are!


Sunday School was held in the Victorian school house in the village. No longer used for teaching, it hosted jumble sales, whist drives and other village events. Every December we would all go carol singing to raise funds for St Stephens, our local church. As we lived in a rural area we would travel in two cars (one driven by the Sunday School teacher, the other by her son) and tour around the local villages singing. Sadly not everyone appreciated our vocal efforts and I remember at least one or two houses where lights went out as we stood by their front door singing.


Every year St Stephen’s held a Christmas carol service that villagers and all the Sunday School children attended. Each of us was given a figure or an animal to place in the nativity scene set on a table next to the pulpit.  We also had our own school nativity play, of course, which saw our mother’s busy making costumes.  There was always excitement over which role we would get.  My best was a shepherd, the worst a sheep!


The tree we had lasted several years.  It was replanted in the garden after the festivities.  When it became too large we simply bought another one.  Decorations were mostly tinsel and baubles, although I do remember my grandmother’s tree had red candles on it. They were slotted into small metal holders which clipped onto each branch of the tree. Thankfully the candles were never lit – it was far too dangerous!


The bird on the Christmas menu was goose, not turkey.  My grandfather kept chicken (we sold eggs) and pigs and would raise geese to sell at Christmas.  My grandmother, who was a wonderful cook,  made all the Christmas puddings and cakes and vegetables came from the garden. Food was good, plain and wholesome.  Maybe if we had lived in a town things would have been slightly more sophisticated but village life was all about local produce. There were no supermarkets locally, even in our nearest town. Instead we relied on places like Home and Colonial and International Stores, both now long gone. And as far as a festive tipple was concerned we had sherry, and maybe the odd bottle of whisky to celebrate New Year.  Now I think of the huge selection of food and drink available in the supermarkets I realise how spoilt for choice we all are.


So those are some of my memories of Christmas past. You know, the rose tinted ones which overlook the fact there was no central heating and living on the edge of Salisbury Plain, exposed to the elements, meant snow could cut us off for a couple of weeks during winter months. This resulted in no bus service and the local farmer taking his tractor and trailer across the fields to the next village to get food supplies.  Being such a small community, we had no school, no shop, no post office and no pub. It meant my grandfather occasionally travelling to the next village to  a pub called The Prince of Wales, for a drink. Failing that, he would drink at home. My grandmother was a great wine make -, usually elderberry or dandelion – and her wheat wine was legendary,  Many people said tasted like whisky.

Each December I return to St Stephen’s to place a wreath on my Dad’s grave, and as I look around I realise how much the village has changed over the years. I have no idea how many people lived there when I was a child, but in 2019 there were 157. They  still have no shop, no pub, or school, but that no longer matters. People have cars, they are mobile. Or they can shop on line for pretty much everything they need. The farm has gone, replaced by four large detached houses (one with a swimming pool) and the farmhouse has been completely refurbished. The manor too has seen new build in its grounds and several cottages have been upgraded.  There is a small swathe of council homes, most of them now privately owned and properties have also sprung up on available pockets of land. Despite its size, the place has a modern face. People work from home or travel to the nearest train station six miles away where there is a main line to London.  Now, like many other communities whose families once stayed in their villages for generations, there are few villagers left.  Instead it has become an ‘escape to the country’; a prime location for those seeking a better quality of life – and who can blame them?



This is my penultimate post of this year. I’ll be back just before New Year with my list of favourite reads of 2020.  In January started out with 40 reads as my Goodreads challenge. Completed books currently stand at 66 – blame Coronavirus as I don’t think I would have had as much time to read had things been normal.  Anyway, I plan to list my top ten reads and know it will be difficult choosing as there have been some really amazing books this year.

In the meantime here’s wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and I’ll catch up with you soon.

Best wishes

Jo x

Posted in Writing


Today, I’m pleased to welcome author Lizzie Lamb onto my blog.  Her latest book Harper’s Highland Fling was published on 9th November and is her seventh Scottish themed novel, all of which feature feisty heroines and handsome, kilted heroes.



After a gruelling academic year head teacher Harper MacDonald is looking forward to a summer holiday trekking in Nepal. Her plans are scuppered when her wayward niece, Ariel, leaves a note announcing she’s running away with a boy called Pen. The only clue to their whereabouts is a scribbled footnote: I’ll Be in Scotland.

Cue a case of mistaken identity when Harper confronts the boy‘s father – Rocco Penhaligon – accusing him of cradle snatching her niece and ruining her bright future. At loggerheads, Harper and Rocco set off in hot pursuit of the teenagers, but the canny youngsters are always one step ahead.  And, in a neat twist, it is the adults who end up in trouble, not the savvy teenagers.

Can Cupid convince Harper and Rocco that they have found their soul mates?

Fasten your seatbelt for the road trip of your lifetime –

It’s going to be a bumpy ride.




After looking through various stock photo websites for the cover of Harper’s Highland Fling, I stumbled across Stuart McIntyre’s fabulous portfolio of wedding photos, most of which feature Scottish locations.  I found an image I liked and asked Stuart if I could use it for the front cover of my book. Not only did he agree, he went the extra mile and contacted the young couple featured in the photograph, asking them if they minded being featured on a book cover. Luckily they said ‘YES’. All they asked in return was a signed paperback, which I was happy to send to them soon after publication day.  We have since become friends on Instagram, but the story doesn’t end there. Stuart’s offices are in Hamilton (near Glasgow), close to where my mother and father had their first home and two miles from where I was born (Craigneuk). Since this book is dedicated to my mother I feel like I’ve come full circle. My mother died before I published my first novel so this feels right, somehow. Everyone has said how much they love the cover; so romantic, so atmospheric. It was created by Gail Bradley and we plan to redesign all my covers in 2021. I hope that Stuart will be able to provide me with another stunning photograph for #7 – working title: Dark Highland Skies using one of the photographs from his other website).



After teaching her 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, Lizzie decided to pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), quickly followed by Boot Camp Bride. She went on to publish Scotch on the Rocks, which achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of appearing on Amazon and her next novel, Girl in the Castle, reached #3 in the Amazon charts. Lizzie is a founder member of indie publishing group – New Romantics Press, and has hosted author events at Aspinall, St Pancras and Waterstones, Kensington, talking about the research which underpins her novels. Lizzie romance Take Me, I’m Yours, set in Wisconsin, also achieved BEST SELLER status >travel>USA. Her latest novel – Harper’s Highland Fling – has been declared her ‘best one yet’ by readers and reviewers. In it, two warring guardians are forced to join forces and set off in hot pursuit of a runaway niece and son. She has further Scottish-themed romances planned and spends most of the summer touring the Scottish Highlands researching men in kilts. As for the years she spent as a teacher, they haven’t quite gone to waste as she is building a reputation as a go-to speaker on indie publishing, and how to plan, write, and publish your debut novel

Lizzie lives in Leicestershire (UK) with her husband, David.

She loves to hear from readers, so do get in touch . . .

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Posted in Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Cornwall, Cornwall, Costal Romance, Writing, Writing Journey


How did we get to 30th November so fast? It’s a really strange phenomenon that during 2020 it’s been a quieter year for me and yet I seem to have more to do.  The arrival of this month saw the annual clock change in late October. For a while we had lighter mornings, but for a good part of last week waking up to fog and unable to see across the valley, has made it feel as if we’re getting up in the middle of the night.  I remember when I was working, that the last week in January was the time when I walked home from the bus stop in dusk rather than dark.  So I measure the beginning of a move back to lighter evenings by that time.

I guess the one big event during November was the arrival of my new computer.  My old one had given me just over ten years of good use, albeit with several changes of keyboard and monitors.  A bit like Trigger’s broom on Only Fools and Horses with 17 new heads and 14 new handles!  I looked at all in ones and was tempted, but eventually opted for another, smaller tower, new 24″ monitor and a good quality keyboard. As a touch typist I’ve got through a load of these in ten years. Usually the I went first, then the E, S and L.  It seems to me that keyboards aren’t meant to last. During my working life the letters on the office computer kreyboards I used were more robust and didn’t wear off after a few months use as they do today. Yes, I know, maybe I should have splashed out a bit more money, but even the more expensive keyboard I’m now using doesn’t feel as if it will be any more durable. I guess only time will tell.  Oh, and almost forgot, I also have a camera, where previously I had to use my husband’s laptop in order to use Skype to catch up with friends and relatives.  All in all, three weeks into the use of this new computer set up, and I’m really pleased with my purchase. 

On the 3rd of November we had our last Tuesday lunch out before Lockdown No 2.  We had been eating out since early July when we came out of the first lockdown, keeping out of the city and visiting pubs in the surrounding villages instead.  All the pubs we’ve been to have observed strict hygiene rules and we never once felt compromised.  Some of the those we used to visit still have yet to reopen, opting for a takeaway service instead. Coming out of lockdown No 2 this week, we will be in a Tier 2 area instead of 1, as we were previously.  This has seen us having to cancel a planned lunch out with friends. Christmas certainly is going to be different this year!

I hope having to  make these sacrifices will get us all safely to the time when the vaccine becomes available and life gets back to some form of normality.  It’s easy to tell yourself that you don’t know of anyone who has had Covid and to query whether it’s actually as bad as everyone says. Or whether, as some believe, it’s only people in towns and cities who get it. Hand on heart I’d only heard of cases through friends of friends. And then two weeks ago my best friend called me to say her son had a temperature and was self-isolating. His Covid test came back positive but thankfully he has come through the whole episode safely.  It certainly goes to bring home the fact that it is out there and you can become infected when you least expect it.

And finally where am I with my writing? Well everything is going well at the moment. Happy to say writing mojo has made a reappearance. At the moment I’m trying to balance working on book 10 with reading and reviewing, which I’ve been doing throughout the year. I have to say there have been some amazing new titles during 2020 and I’ve currently earned my ‘100’ badge from Netgalley.  However, despite having a huge appetite for other authors’ work, I haven’t lost sight of the fact that my own writing is as important.  I’m hoping for a late spring publication with this, the second part of the Cornish Estuary trilogy. Currently working hard and pushing forward with it. Wish me luck.

And so, that’s about it for the month. See you all at the end of December when I’ll be looking back at the year and my memories of 2020.

Best wishes

Jo xx




Posted in Cornwall, Devon, MONTHLY UPDATE, Writing

September/October Update

The change from late summer to full blown autumn seems to have happened in the blink of an eye. One moment there we are, sitting having lunch in the garden, the next we’re wrapped up and pondering whether to turn on the central heating, -which as I write has already happened.

This year has been a strange one. Covid, of course, has changed everything.  Since emerging from lockdown we have managed three escapes. The first during July to celebrate a friend’s birthday and then just the two of us on a three night stay at Alderminster, just outside Stratford on Avon. Both enabled us to relax somewhere other than home and (very luckily) to enjoy some good weather. Last week we took a break in Cornwall. I’d really wanted to return to South Devon but back in September when I looked at availability it seemed any self catering accommodation for two or four people was fully booked. So I tried Cornwall instead and managed to bag a really lovely apartment in Fowey at The Old Stationmaster’s House. There we had a relaxing week, did a lot of walking and ate some fabulous food.  It was good to get away from home and forget about domestic and day to day stuff for a while.  But all good things come to an end and here we are, back again.  My OH has been busy clearing the garden while I’ve had my eye on the loft and five boxes and three suitcases long overdue for sorting out.  Happily two of the suitcases were empty and the third, containing a set of ancient curtains, will go to the local recycling centre once we’ve collected enough items to book a time slot.  With the coming of autumn and changing into something warmer it’s also been an opportunity to sort out clothes for the local charity shop.  

Last week, our first since returning from Cornwall, turned out to be a little manic. There was just so much activity in those seven days that we even postponed our daily walk.  Of course the weather had a part to play in the latter.  After my surgery earlier in the year I was keen to get back to full health and walking played an important part in my recovery.  Yesterday, the 26th, we had an afternoon walk and it was amazing how everything had changed since the last time we’d been out (8th October).  With the clocks going back at the weekend, we were walking at what would have been five o’clock.  It was colder, what was left of the sun was well on its way towards the horizon and there were carpets of leaves along the pavement.  That is one thing that is noticeable here. Usually the council have contractors out clearing the pavements but not this year.  No doubt the Covid situation has something to do with it.  It means we really can kick our way through the leaves as we walk.

On the writing front, while I was in Cornwall I had time to think about the current state of play with my WIP.  My writing mojo had decided to take itself off on holiday and for a few weeks progress had been very slow.  Added to this were the other social media platforms that all needed regular attention. Something had to give and so on my return I decided to take a step back from Facebook.   I simply did not have the time to keep up with all the posts.  It’s not a total goodbye.  I will return at some stage, it’s just that for now dipping in and out of Twitter and Instagram works better for me.  Happily I’m gradually getting back into the swing of writing more.  Sitting in front of a blank screen, wanting to write a post and having absolutely no inspiration for any topic at all was scary. Even more scary (and frustrating) was having to admit that my WIP simply wasn’t working.  After publishing Shadows on the Water I realised I needed to make some radical changes. So it’s been consigned to the bin and I’m taking the characters and location and incorporating them into a completely new and different story.  The plotting has been done and I’m pleased with the new version. Now all I need to do is sit and write.

Well that’s about it for September and October.  I’ll be back at the end of November, hopefully with the news that the new WIP is going well. Crossing fingers!

And finally, I’ll leave you with a few reminders of our summer.