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A Convenient Marriage. Blog Splash!

This week, I’m delighted to be involved in the blog splash for Jeevani Charika’s novel, A Convenient Marriage. Chaya and Gimhana’s very convenient marriage pleases their parents, but what happens when the promise of personal happiness threatens their perfect arrangement?

Jeev's question to me was, 'what's the strangest thing you've done because of your family?' which made me think of all the holiday, temporary and part-time jobs I’ve done to make ends meet. As soon as I was old enough, I took a Saturday job working in a restaurant doing a bit of food preparation and some waitressing. To discourage customers at the end of the day, I and another Saturday girl would stand at the window pulling faces at anyone who looked as if they might be about to enter. I can’t think why the manageress decided she didn’t need me after all.

I’ve worked at a swimming pool and in a make-up factory, I was nearly run over by the actor Patrick Macnee when I was working as a chambermaid (I …
Recent posts

Dystopia. And Margaret Atwood.

Shortly after leaving Aberystwyth, a disembodied voice announces that our train, which is already moving very slowly, will be held between stations for 20 minutes until we can proceed. Around the same time, I receive messages from Lily, who is travelling from Cardiff, and Rose, who’s coming up from Keynsham, that their trains have been cancelled. Time is already ticking on our long-awaited trip to hear Margaret Atwood in conversation at Birmingham Symphony Hall. As Lily struggles to board an overcrowded train, the middle-class family behind her yell at her to ‘just get on the f*cking train!’. Rose’s train is similarly packed. She is heavily pregnant but no one blinks, let alone offers her seat, so she is forced to stand for an hour and a half. When we eventually meet up at Birmingham New Street, we’re all frazzled and half the afternoon has gone.

A pre-theatre dinner at Côte provides us with a calm interlude and the chance for a proper catch-up before we make the short walk to Birming…

Cardiff Half Marathon 2019: The'Diff with a Difference

The night before the Cardiff Half Marathon, I toss and turn and have so many hot flushes I wonder if I’m going to self-combust. It’s not the best preparation for a race, but, hey, I’m fortunate to be here and I’m determined to enjoy the day. For the first time in the event’s 16-year history, female runners are in the majority and the starting pen definitely has a different feel. I talk to Stephanie and Clare, two mums who, like so many of the women taking part, juggle running with family responsibilities. Every runner has a story.
My dear friend and running buddy, Helen, has defied the odds and overcome her dreadful injury to take part today. I know she’s somewhere amongst the runners and suddenly the crowds part and I see her smiling face. Frustratingly, I lose her again, but then she’s there by my side just in time for the race to begin. We hug, (lots of ‘“awwws” from the women around us!) wish each other luck and then we’re off!

This year, I know my granddaughter, Bee, who wants to …

September Selection

Befriending the Black-eyed Dog
Ma sits alone at home night after night, she’s in constant pain and, occasionally, there are days when she doesn’t talk to anyone. She might - justifiably - grumble from time to time, but she resolutely deals with everything life chucks at her without going under. I have no reason to feel depressed yet September begins with the oppressive sense of the sky falling down on me which also makes me terribly ashamed. However, as I mention in ‘Running Kind’, experience has taught me that punishing myself for perceived failures only leaves me depleted and less able to look after anyone else, so, when Tom heads to the south-east to catch up with old friends, I stay at home to refill the well. I read a lot, I listen to hours of music, I go for a long run and soak up the sights and sounds of the changing season. Not so much an attack from the black-eyed dog, but a gentle reminder that a bit of self-care is not selfish.

Our poor boat has languished in the marin…

A Summer Full of Memories

The last of our summer visitors depart and the house falls still. I can wake up gradually, slowly sipping my tea in bed rather than being on call the split-second I open my eyes and I no longer have to grab a nightie and cover up before one of the little grandchildren bursts into the bedroom. When I go for a run, glistening veils of dew spangle the fields and the tall spikes of fireweed are cloaked with clouds of feathery seed. There’s a melancholic sense of autumn in the cool morning air, but my head and heart are too full of all the memories we’ve made this summer to feel sad.

We started early with a long-overdue visit to Canada to spend time with my elder stepson, his wife and their son, (our one and only - so far - grandson) who made their home in Alberta five years ago. We began with some sightseeing, flying out to Vancouver and driving through the Rockies before meeting up with Gill, Dan and Harry. It was precious time and we’re so grateful to them for their generous hospitality.

Guest Blogger: Margaret James

This week, I'm delighted to welcome fellow writer, Margaret James to my blog to talk about her work. Over to you, Margaret...

Thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your lovely blog, fellow novelist and journalist Christine! I’m delighted to be able to share some home thoughts of my own today.

I’ve been writing novels since my children were very little, and I’m a grandmother now. But, as well as writing fiction, I’m a journalist working for Writing Magazine, the UK’s bestselling title for writers of all kinds and at all stages of their careers. I write the Fiction Focus pages for every issue and some of the author profiles too. It’s been my privilege to interview many of today’s bestselling novelists and learn the secrets of their success.

I’m also one third of the team that runs CreativeWritingMatters. The other team members are Sophie Duffy and Cathie Hartigan. We organise literary competitions, offer mentoring, and provide a whole range of other services to writers. C…

Cover Stories

One of the most exciting moments for me, as an author, is that first glimpse of a new cover. All the hope, the dreams and the hours of hard work brought together and epitomised in a single image. I loved the cover of my first published novel, Turning the Tide, so much that I framed it and put it on my study wall. I have to admit, though, the the girl on the cover, cast away on a pile of rocks, looks nothing like the Harry Watling of my imagination. My heroine, Harry, is a fierce, angry, scared woman with a chip on both shoulders who’s prepared to take on the world to save the business her father started and wouldn’t be seen dead in anything except a pair of oily dungarees. When Turning the Tide went to Norway, Harry transformed again; her hair’s grown, so have her legs, and she’s wearing a teeny-tiny pair of shorts my Harry would never have had in her wardrobe.

Eloise Blake, the heroine of my novella, Only True in Fairy Tales, is a reclusive woman who’s been badly hurt and certainly…