How I got published - and how you can too

*** Long post alert ***
How I got published
In 1998 I wrote a terrible book. It was called "The Temple of Truth" or something similarly trite. My lifelong ambition was to be a published author, and having recently joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I had discovered that there was a thriving market for clean LDS-based literature. I thought that writing for this market would be an easy way to get my first book accepted by a publisher, after which a mainstream publisher would surely snap up my second manuscript given that I was already a published author.

For the record, I was wrong on both counts.

My terrible book landed on the desk of Covenant editor Valerie Holladay. She read it and wrote to tell me that my book was terrible, but that she thought my writing style showed promise and noted that I lived in Wales. Many Utah residents had ancestors from Wales, she told me, and would love to learn more about it. Would I consider writing a book set there? She eve…

Please Judge my Book by its Cover

My new book is out next month - yay! It's been a couple of years since my last book was published and so this one is rather overdue. Also I'm really happy with it. I think it's one of my best and people might enjoy it. I hope so, anyway.

It's a Regency romance called "Her Ladyship's Secret" and here's the all-important blurb:

Thundersley, Suffolk, 1813: When Mr. Wilson, a travelling minister, arrives in the rural parish of Thundersley, Catherine Waters is intrigued by the man himself and by his connection to her reclusive and mysterious neighbour, Lady Forrester. Through Mr. Wilson, Catherine is drawn into the world of Thundersley Hall, where her cousin finds forbidden love.
After Mr. Wilson leaves Suffolk to continue his work elsewhere, the dashing village doctor, Mr. Davenport, is on hand to offer Catherine love, security, and help in uncovering the secrets that threaten to destroy all she holds dear. In the end it is Lady Forrester’s most closely gua…

Silver Linings

The current pandemic is a bad thing. It's a new virus that no one has any immunity to and there's no vaccine or cure. People are scared and they are behaving in the odd ways people behave when they're scared. People are going to suffer and people are going to die. Businesses are going to fail and people are going to lose their jobs. Even after the virus has swept through the world and herd immunity means it's no longer a serious threat we'll probably see another global recession. I'm finding I like dystopian worlds better when they're fictional.
As I write this it's the early stages of the crisis here in the UK. We're not yet on lockdown - schools remain open - but many events and gatherings have been cancelled, including--to my shock--church. Supermarket shelves are empty, and people are queuing to get into the shops before they open. And I know it'll get worse before it gets better.
That said, there are silver linings in every cloud, and some…

What a Drag

Am I the only person fed up of drag shows? A parody of what a real woman is, like black face. Woman are juggling kids, rushing out a wholesome dinner, doing the laundry & cleaning, holding down a job all with period pains & leaky boobs if breast feeding. Enough of the stereotypes. It's my personal opinion that I don't like drag shows and find them demeaning. Promoting one view of being female when in my experience there is so much more to being a woman. Most of it is very unglamorous.  Sharron Davies MBE, Olympic Swimmer
No, Sharron, you're not alone. I agree with you.

Years ago blackface, including on shows like the Black and White Minstrel Show, was considered a homage to black people, celebrating the music of the American south, harmless fun. Now we find the idea of white people pretending to be black horrifying.

Why don't we find the idea of men pretending to be women, in cruel and exaggerated parodies, equally horrifying?

I find drag queens to be a grotesq…

Why I'm a Mormon* - despite everything

In August 2018 I had the great privilege of teaching at FSY (For the Strength of Youth), the LDS Church's youth convention. I taught two classes, one of which included my conversion story. In this same lesson I asked a question (I can't remember what) and one girl responded immediately and boldly, "Well, I know the Church* is perfect".

There was an instant frisson and hum as the other students responded to the controversial statement. Like the experienced teacher I'm not, I resisted the urge to take up this subject, and cut off the chatter by clarifying, "The gospel is perfect. The Church and the gospel are not the same thing."

I often think of that girl, and wonder how she felt about my clarification. The words Church and gospel can often seem to be used interchangeably in Mormon circles, and if she truly does believe that the Church is perfect, then that poor girl has a rough road ahead, because it demonstrably isn't. Every time it is late paying …

Some Christmas Gift Ideas

While I don't hold myself out to be any sort of expert in gift buying (I once bought my sister a packet of Pez for Christmas) I thought it might be helpful at this time of year to share a few ideas of gifts which have been well received.

Studio do a personalised bathrobe, for men, women and children, at just £7.99. It's not terrible quality for the price too. Last year almost everyone in our family ended up with one, and mine is still going strong.

Got a chocoholic friend  who's always on a diet? My "joke" gift this year is a hamper of chocolate-not-chocolate. It includes chocolate scented shower gel, lip balm, moisturiser, and a face mask, plus a small jigsaw puzzle of chocolate, a chocolate scented candle, and anything else I find between now and Christmas that's chocolate but not edible. (And because I'm not that cruel, the follow-up gift will be her favourite actual chocolate.)

If you've a whole family to buy for take out the hassle of figuring out…

What to take to Center Parcs

I'm at Center Parcs in Elveden Forest as I write this, celebrating my daughter's 18th birthday. It's lovely - beautiful, peaceful, full of wildlife (I've seen a stoat, muntjac deer, a heron, rabbit, squirrels, moorhens, ducks, a jay, and various other birds) and comfortable and relaxing.

In this post I'm using my blog as a reminder to myself for next time, but also as a public service to anyone else heading to Center Parcs. Essentially it's a list of things they don't tell you to bring, but which you really need to bring. They supply the smallest quantities of the basic essentials, but not enough because they want to you to stock up at the extremely expensive ParcMarket.

Washing-up liquid. They give you ONE small sachet. They also give you three dishwasher tablets, but since our lodge only has six place settings' worth of crockery and cutlery we didn't use the dishwasher as we needed the plates.A tea towel or two. They supply one, but that gets wet …