My Ten-Day Social Media Fast

At the recent October General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Nelson, our church leader, challenged the sisters (because he was speaking in the women's session) to fast from social media for ten days. Here's what he said:

"I invite you to participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind. Pray to know which influences to remove during your fast. The effect of your 10-day fast may surprise you. What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit? Is there a change in where you now want to spend your time and energy? Have any of your priorities shifted—even just a little? I urge you to record and follow through with each impression."

Now, I didn't see this conference session, and although I began my social media fast on 8th October, I did so because other women reported to me (on social media, ironi…

Why I became Vegetarian (and what I've leaned since)

The Lobster Incident occurred on 23rd May 2018.

I had decided that it was high time my husband and I ate the lobster that had been in our freezer for... well, a while. Since it was for two of us and there's not much meat on a lobster I also got out a couple of salmon fillets.

I'd never prepared lobster before, so I was  a little shocked when I tipped the lobster out of its cardboard box because it looked like a lobster. Yes, I wonder what I expected, but there it was, red and dead, an entire animal, looking at me.

I read the instructions on the box. "Twist off the claws. Insert a knife into the back of the head and twist until the shell cracks..." I recoiled in horror. I couldn't do that to this animal.

Some context here. A few years ago I squirted wasp killer at a wasp which was terrorising my dining room. I watched as the innocent creature fell onto the window sill, writhing and twitching horribly, and slowly curled up in a ball of pain and died. I sobbed, horr…

Book Review: Road to Covered Bridge

Okay, I'll say it - this writer is a better writer than me. I'm honoured to share a publisher with her. Her writing style is the kind that wins high-brow awards for literature.

This book reminded me very much of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, not just because it’s written from the point of view of a spirited child, but because of the lyrical, meandering prose which really was beautiful, evocative and authentic. The book leaves a lot of questions unanswered, and you get the feeling that the answers are just out of the reach of our narrator, but the characters are fully rounded and intriguing.

It’s masterfully written and feels very much like "real life" in that it's not nicely packaged with trite answers, clear endings, and sensible conversations - in fact, I loved the parts where the family were all talking at once, often about different subjects, and in a very disjointed way, because that is what family life with children is really like.

Although this isn’t an era or a…

Introducing The Husband Hunt

My last novel, Fields of Glory, was published in April this year, and any day now my next book, The Husband Hunt, will hit the shelves. I feel suddenly prolific!

Just to clarify, though, I didn't write an entire book in three months. In fact, The Husband Hunt is the product of the best part of a decade of work. I first came up with the idea of four friends having a competition to see which of them can find a man to marry first in around 2005. It would be a comedy, I decided, and include lots of hilarious disastrous dates.

To help with the "research" I fired up the chocolate fountain and invited all my female friends over for a party at which they would each talk about their dating adventures. It was a really fun evening, and we heard some stories which left us open-mouthed in astonishment, many of which made it into the book. When you read the book bear in mind that almost all the dating disasters in it are genuine incidents. (My personal favourite is the only proposal in…

Book Review: The Reformation of Lady Elinor

Several years ago I reviewed The Shack by Wm. Paul Young.* I hated it. It seemed to me that it was little more than a theological treatise wrapped up in a novel, and not a particularly good novel at that. Of course, it's a hugely popular bestselling book and has since been made into a film, so I'm in the minority - although one friend admitted that she liked it but was under the impression that it was  a true story (it isn't) so is reassessing it in the light of this new knowledge.

Now, I'm not going to say that religion and fiction shouldn't mix, because several of my books (The Haven series, Easterfield, Honeymoon Heist and especially The Saved Saint) do just that. My issue with The Shack was that it appeared to me that the author had some pretty unusual and personal religious views that he wanted to make known, but knowing that others would be unlikely to buy his book if he titled it "My views on God, reality, and the purpose of life" he dressed it up a…

How my Fictional Village got its Name

My new book is now available for Kindle in the UK!  Click here to download it. (It doesn't yet seem to be available elsewhere in the world, but I'll let you know.)
I've already had my box of ten free author copies, and started giving them away. I quite forgot to warn local friends that the village where the book is set is called Thundersley. This was quite an oversight, given that the village where I live is called Thundersley so it may have come as a surprise to them to see my home town detailed in the pages of my novel. 
I didn't deliberately name my fictional village after the place I grew up as any kind of sentimental tribute (although I do love where I live). Neither is the fictional village of Thundersley in the same place as the real village: the real village is in south Essex, whereas the fictional version is in Suffolk.

Originally the village in my book was called Easterfield, a name plucked entirely from my imagination. Readers of my previous books will reme…

Why I Donate my Royalties to Heart Mothers

My new book, Fields of Glory, will be released on 19th April. As with previous books, all my author royalties from this book are being donated to a charity I support, Heart Mothers.

What is Heart Mothers?
Heart Mothers was  started by a good friend of mine, Ruth Williams, who read an article about the work of Somaly Mam in rescuing children trafficked into the sex trade in Cambodia. Touched by what she read, Ruth contacted Somaly to ask how she could help. At the time Somaly's work was well-funded by a French charity, but Somaly told Ruth that what these young girls really missed and needed was a mother. Most of them had never really known a loving mother, and many had been sold to the brothels by their own families. Although they were well cared for at the centre where they lived - provided with food, clothing, education and counselling - they each craved the love of an adult woman who would take a special interest in just them. A "Heart Mother".

Ruth got to work drummin…