Sorry for the Silence


Hello Friends

I thought I’d just explain my silence and what I’m up to at the moment. Well I’m right in the height of completing my MA Creative Writing dissertation. It’s been great fun exploring the myth and folklore around trees to create my poetry. What isn’t such good fun is working on the essay. My brain is willing me back to the poems rather than spend time on academia. Still come 21st September the MA thesis will be submitted and then  Academia and I will part our ways and I’ll only be wearing a creative hat.

What’s to come?

Well, The Coal Miner’s Son now has a new target release date of December. Also, to come, are at least two poetry anthologies. I have to say this MA project has been my favourite and I plan to delve further into folklore and mythology extending it to birds and wildflowers. Don’t you just love nature?

So, watch this space, and thank you for your continued patience and support.



Losing someone you love

It’s four years since my mum went to sleep for the final time and for me, like I am sure for most people, the pain doesn’t go away but we just get better at putting one foot in front of the other.

Well today here’s a poem for Mum. I wrote this about a year ago when I was doing a Blues Course with the Poetry School. It gave me consolation when I thought she hadn’t known I was there. Looking back, I realised that she did.

I was very lucky that I had a wonderful mum that always put her children first. She was one of the most inspiring women I have ever known.

For Mum.


mum Jun 1993 (2)


Last Moments

Milky eyes
stare into space,

I drip water from a straw
into opened lips,

you suck but no words
leave your mouth.

I squeeze your hand
you squeeze mine,

I stroke long fingers
with tenderness.

The doctor calls me from the room:

you take a last gasp of air
at 11:22am and slip away,

not allowing goodbyes:

I’m not ready for you to die.

A photo frame hangs in my study,
nut-brown eyes sparkle,
open lips smile down at me.

A voice in my head whispers my name,
‘you’re not alone, I’m still here.’

Memories flood my mind:
kisses, cuddles and tucks up in bed,

playing catch, hopscotch, skipping,
two balls banging on the wall,

karaoke in the lounge,
giggles as we grease dance,

you twirl me under your arm,
we jive around the room,

delicious dinners,
a glass of Shiraz,

thrashings at Scrabble
and crosswords,

walks by the sea,
sandcastles on the sand,

that last Sunday morning
when I stroked and held your hand.

You’ll always be part of me,
You’ll always be in my heart

but not quite the same
as holding you in my arms.


Guest Feature: Helen Christmas discusses ‘Pinterest as an Author’

Have you ever wondered what Pinterest is, and how it works?

Well you’re in luck because today I have a special guest that has come to discuss ‘Using Pinterest as an Author.’

Please welcome fellow Chindi author, Helen Christmas, Chindi’s Author of the Week.


Helen-bluebells (002)


‘Using Pinterest as an Author’

Helen Christmas


Chindi Author of the Week, Helen Christmas, is excited to share her experiences using PINTEREST as an essential marketing tool for her books.

Helen began her British thriller mystery series, Same Face Different Place, in 2011, a saga that rolls across four decades. Depicting the setting and atmosphere behind each book was not only fun but created a lot of interest in her series.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a virtual pin board where you can pin images from other sites, linking back to the original source. Other users can re-pin the same images to their boards.

Where Instagram is about photo sharing, with Pinterest you can create a board with not just images but websites, music and videos.

Creating my first board

Beginnings, the first book of my series starts in London in 1972. The combination of a crime thriller and a tender love story, this is the story of two young people living on a knife edge as they strive to survive in a world of organised crime and corruption.

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When I first discovered Pinterest, I was creating boards for recipes, home inspiration and gardening. But as soon as I realised that authors were using it to create boards for their fictional words, it gave me the idea to create a board for Beginnings. As well as depicting a slightly sinister atmosphere based on the criminal underworld of 1970s London, I thought it would be a great way of capturing the 70s nostalgia featured in the novel; the fashion, the people and the music.

Starting my board with such things as platform shoes, lava lamps and 1970s decor, I soon got into the flow. The prime minister of that year was Ted Heath, popular artists included David Bowie, T-Rex and the Rolling Stones. Next came the fashion where I found lovely black and white images depicting the people of the era, not to mention some bizarre outfits. I even found a 1972 image of NME magazine.

Some of the prominent landmarks in my book include Waterloo Station, the Grosvenor Hotel and Toynbee Hall. This is a place in East London where residents were involved in voluntary community work and in the context of my book, a place where characters, Eleanor and Jake, turn to for help.

Amazingly, another browser found my pin of Toynbee Hall and as someone who worked there in the 70s, he was intrigued and bought my book as a result.

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To view the board created for Beginnings click here


The Later Boards

With the decades of the 70s, 80s and 90s featuring prominently in my series, I created a board for each book.

Book 2 ‘Visions’ 1984 – 1987

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The board I created for Visions is packed with 80s nostalgia from politics under Margaret Thatcher, to a changing world of revolutionary fashion and advancing technology. Compared to my board for ‘Beginnings’ (where most of the photographs are black and white), this board explodes with colour. I even found a musical clip by Kraftwerk to illustrate a piece of chilling background music. Visions has a more rural setting and is a psychological thriller so the images are more serene.


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To view the board created for Visions – Book 2  – click here

Book 3 ‘Pleasures’ 1987 – 1991

I had a lot of fun creating this board, which charges to the end of the 80s with reference to the 1987 Hurricane, swiftly followed by the Black Monday stock exchange crash. At the crux of this story is the advent of rave culture, something the younger generation are swept up in. Pleasures brings back an element of organised crime and drugs, so this is the board I feature on my website side panel because it captures the essence of the story and looks exciting.

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This is another way you can use Pinterest; by showing a board on your website.

Click here


Book 4 ‘Retribution’ 1992 and beyond…

If you start at the bottom of Retribution and scroll up, it almost tells a story in pictures. I love the visual imagery for this board, which came from a variety of sources, including Pinterest itself (there is a handy search facility where you can look  for exciting new pins.) With a rich cast of characters, Retribution covers many subjects including institutionalised child abuse, organised crime, anarchy, serving in the army and the war in Bosnia. There is a second part of this book which I have yet to create my next board for…

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Pins from Retribution include sinister dark forests,  images of Soho, my character, William as depicted by actor Josh Whitehouse and classic 90s movie, Pulp Fiction.

View Retribution board click here


Some useful facts about Pinterest

The majority of Pinterest’s users are female. These tend to be younger women, something authors should bear in mind if they write in a particular genre or have a specific audience they want to pitch to.

Pinterest is great for inspiration. Images of places, people, locations, history, and films have inspired many authors over the years and within minutes, you can create a board to accommodate images for your characters, settings and plot structures.

Another feature is the ability to follow the boards of other writers and publishers. Sharing their boards and allowing their pins to be re-pinned by others has much potential and is a handy tool for authors to promote their books.

For more tips on using Pinterest, check out this enlightening blog on

ALLI (Alliance of Independent Authors)

And finally, do check out my other boards for places of interest, cats, gardens, inspiration for the home as well as a cute board for cat lovers…

Click here


I hope you’ve enjoyed Helen’s article, ‘Using Pinterest as an Author,’ I know I’ have and  found it very informative. I’m sure you’ll agree that Pinterest is a great tool. Thank you Helen for sharing it with us.

If you have any questions or comments, re the article, for Helen, please leave them at the end of this blog or via her social media links.


About Helen: 

Helen Christmas lives on the south coast with her husband. With a love of writing since childhood, she started her decade spanning thriller series ‘Same Face Different Place’ in 2011 and published her debut novel, ‘Beginnings’ in 2012. Visions was the second book of the series and published in 2013; a suspense novel which explores British culture and social history in the 80s as well as the most evil traits people are capable of. The 16th Century cottage in which Helen lives with her husband (restored in 1991) provided endless inspiration for Visions, along with some very special places in Sussex that she loves. Writing is something she fits around her family and social life. Helen is a self employed web designer and works from home with her husband, Peter. They enjoy the company of a faithful border collie and a beautiful white cat, though Helen confesses to have dreamed up many of her storylines, whilst walking Barney around the nearby beach and park.


Where can you buy Helen’s books?





End Game

Where can you find Helen on Social Media?








Half way through May already – News Update

IMG_2861 (002)

May has been a busy month and I can’t believe that we are over half-way into it already. In the first week of May I was in Chester ,visiting family, and we took a trip out to Llandudno to a National Trust property, Bodnant Gardens. The above photograph of rhododendrons was taken there. Aren’t they just delightful? I would recommend a visit to Bodnant Gardens if you can get there.

No sooner home and my American cousin who I hadn’t seen since I was five-years-old was arriving to stay one night only. We visited Hever Castle to see a May Day festival. Nothing like a bit of traditional England to show off to the American relatives.

We had a lovely time  and the weather was gorgeous (sunshine ordered specifically for my cousin) and we rounded up the day with a drink outside a country pub that sits right outside Hever Castle and then onto a country pub restaurant in Copthorne. We all had a delightful time.

The following week my cousin returned and I took her for a stroll around my local lake where new Canada goslings and baby moorhens have been born.

We finished off our time at the local theatre watching the Marc Bolan Musical – Twentieth Century Boy. Definitely worth going if it comes near you. The talent on the stage was exceptional. The following morning my cousin returned to Heathrow to catch her plane to the States. We only had a short time together but managed to cram in lots of lovely things as well as fifty-eight years of catch-up news.

So as you can see I’ve been quite busy leaving little time for writing, although that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing because I have. I’ve been working on The Coal Miner’s Son and shortly I hope to make public the opening chapters and reveal the cover. So watch this space.

What else is happening?

Well come Monday I need to get back to my MA dissertation and my lovely topic Fairy and Forestry Folklore and The English Yew who is my narrator for a collection of poetry.

What else is happening?

Well you remember I promised you some guest features?

Watch out tomorrow

Fellow Chindi Author, Helen Christmas, celebrating being Chindi’s Author of the Week will be joining me and sharing her knowledge on Pinterest. NOT TO BE MISSED.


Day 26 – A-Z Blog Challenge – ‘Z’


Z – Zip it up

Well here we are on the last day of the challenge which I’ve managed to complete. I hope you’ve enjoyed the last 26 days of poetry.

So what is ‘Z?’

Z is for Zipping up  this challenge

so today is a bit different. Some visual poetry from me and a poem from my guest Corinne Lawrence.

I don’t have a poetic term beginning with ‘Z’ but if you pop over to Dr Wheeler’s website I see he has a whole lot of literary terms.’

When I was looking for a poem beginning with ‘Z,’ fellow writer, Corinne Lawrence, came to my rescue. Here’s what she said when I asked for her help.

“I’d be delighted to donate a poem but I think it may need some explanation.”


In 2016 as a response to success of the Olympics, Cheadle Hulme Writers produced poems under title of ‘A Manchester Alphabet’, which I compiled,  illustrated with watercolour paintings from Manchester artists.

Originally I was given ‘E’, but nearing the end of term when we were wanting to send it off to be printed, there were still no poems for ‘A’. ‘Y’ & ‘Z’, so yours truly (Corinne) wrote three more for these letters.  So, here is a poem for ‘Z’  – with footnotes.

Z – Zincography



Z is for Zincography

The unlucky person who has drawn a ‘Z’
will approach this task with a degree of dread.
However, I can report, with a degree of dittography*
that Manchester’s quite notable for zincography.*
Our famous sportsmen, so at home
in stadium, pitch or velodrome,
will often require the skills and services
only found on the engraver’s premises.
Famed this year of Olympc records
Manchester boasts a host of awards,
and has to take the all round prize
for a successful city, in my eyes!


* zincography ( the engraver’s art)
* dittography (the act of repetition)


About Corinne

Corinne is not only a fantastic poet but also a very talented playwright and her stage plays have been performed at Swanwick Writer’s Summer School on more than one occasion. Her poems have been published in Reach Magazine, (Indigo Dreams), Writers’ Forum Magazine, and Writing Magazine. Many of these poems have taken the winning place.


Z – Zip up

As I mentioned earlier, ‘Z’ is for zip up. I thought I didn’t have a poem beginning with ‘Z’ but then I remembered I had a visual poem titled Zigger Zagger – Well actually I lie, it’s titled A Stitch in Time but for the purpose of today it can become Zigger Zagger. This poem is a visual poem  and I’ll do my best to keep its form correctly on the page but I’m not the best at techie stuff. I was inspired to write this from a prompt on an online visual poetry course with Open University tutor, Mike Johnson.



Zigger Zagger
(Stitch in Time)

Chigga chugga, chigga chugger
off we go
ziggy zagger, ziggy zagga
as we sew

Chigga chugga, chigga chugger
take our time
ziggy zagger, zaggy zigger
keep in line.

PUSH foot on the pedal
not too slow
push the pedal, push the pedal
as we sew

Chigga chugga, chigga chugger
sew we must
ziggy zagger, zaggy zigger
earn our crust


Chigga             chugga,
chigga                   chugger
ziggy              zagger,
zaggy            zigger
ziggy                  chugga,
chuggi             zagger
ziggy                   zaggy,
zaggy                          zigger
zagga                      chuggi,
chugga                    chiggi
chigga             chagga,
zaggy             zugger


Chigga chugga, chigga chugger
from morn till late
ziggy zagger, zaggy zigger
that’s our fate.


Ding aling, clangy clong
bingy bing, bongy bong


Chigga chugga, chigga chugger
ziggy zagger, zaggy zigger
pull out the plug and turn off the switch
that for the night is our last stitch


Chigga chugga, chigga chugger
ziggy zagger, zaggy zigger…


‘someone turn off the light!’



And I thought as it is ‘Z’ the last day of the challenge that we will zip up this blog with a couple more of my visual poems. Once again the form isn’t quite correct but hopefully it won’t spoil them too much for you.

The first is The Blue-Ringed Octopus, again I was inspired to write from a prompt on the online visual poetry course with Open University tutor, Mike Johnson.




Blue-Ringed Octopus

A blue ringed beauty
inhabits the Great Barrier Reef
camouflaged in a brown coat
it waits for prey.

The seven-inch Deadly Demon
with eight soft arms
and a small sharp beak
crawls the rock pool bed – for unsuspecting prey


Lying amongst the coral
disturbed, becomes irate.
A spectacular brilliant blue is born
now fatal,

too –
Its venomous glands
to the prey


her … huh…

her… huh…

her… huh…

her…. huh…

lub      dub

lub      dub

lub     dub…

heart !!!!!!!!!!!!!…………_______________________________________


And finally The Journey Home was created while on the same course. The form for this one just won’t go correctly for the top part but hopefully you’ll get the gist.




The Journey Home




the                                               road

a small road in Pound Hill





on                               me

and the mad man’s using a

i r
d l………………………………………


t                       p

t                       p

sounds a

ha                             er


taps               the


… greycloudsmoveswiftly

as I make my way home again


I hear a

S ! I ! R ! E ! N !                                                             in the distance

it is coming from a

// // // t // r // a // i // n // // //


builders Bang!                      and                       knock quickly

with the need to escape the


sunshine peeps from the sky,


pitter                                                                    patters

people                     with


c            e

pass                                 by


A few more                               yards

then I’ll be home

soaked and



 but I’m not one to moan



If you have a poem beginning with ‘Z’ and you’d like to share it with my readers then post in the comments section and I’ll move it onto the blog for ‘Z’ for others to see.

Thank you for staying with me through the ‘A-Z Blog Challenge,’ I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I know I have. It’s been great fun. And thank you to my guest poets, Colin Ward, Maureen Cullen, Shirley Ann Cook and Corinne Lawrence.

Do keep an eye out on the blog as there are lots more features to come.




Day 25 – A-Z Blog Challenge – ‘Y’


Y is for You

Y is for You the reader. I hope you’ve enjoyed this A-Z blog and if there’s anything you’d like to know about my writing then please ask.

Y is for YEW


Now I do have a poem about the yew tree but unfortunately I can’t share it with you at this stage. What I can do is tell you about the collection I am compiling to fulfill my portfolio for my MA dissertation.

I am looking at Fairy and Forestry Folklore so knee deep in a number of books. My favourite to date has to be Tree Wisdom. It has many wonderful details about the Yew which involves fairies and folklore stories. Watch this space.

Other books I am studying for my MA Dissertation:  (including Tree Wisdom) – luckily I’ve managed to pick them all up secondhand.

Tree Wisdom – The definitive guidebook to the myth, folklore and healing power of trees – Jacqueline Memory Paterson (if this sort of thing interests you then this book is a definite must.) Don’t you just love trees? I know I do.

The Folklore of Sussex – Jacqueline Simpson

Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore – Steve Roud, Jacqueline Simpson

Folklore – Tim Atkins

Fairies and Chimneys – Rose Fyleman

Sussex Folk Tales – Michael O’Leary

The Forest IN FOLKLORE AND MYTHOLOGY – Alexander Porteous

The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies – Cicely Mary Barker

Wildflower Folklore – Laura C Martin

The White Goddess – Robert Graves

I can’t comment recommend all of the above books because some of them I still have to dive into but they certainly look like they are going to be resourceful.

I also plan to pick up:

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream (I’m hoping to go and see this at the local theatre)

Shakespeare’s Sonnets

And I’m sure there’ll be more to add to that list once I get into the study more. As you can see from the above list this is an exciting study time for me.

Y – Why

You as a reader may wonder why my writing is mainly fiction. Very rarely do I write life writing. Why? Well up until a few years ago I struggled with fiction writing and used to write poetry from my own experience. However, once I started to explore fiction I loved it. I can still use what I know from my own memories or stories I’ve been told plus research but the bonus is that I can escape into any world I want to be and I can become anyone I want.

When I first started my MA I had just lost my mum and understandably I wasn’t in a very good place. The strange thing I found though as I no longer had a mum or dad alive was I didn’t know who I was. I questioned my identity. For this reason I explored Lost Identity in my first assignment for the Narrative module and what I uncovered was by giving these characters pain it kind of took it away from me. So writing is a great therapy.

Anything else you’d like to know about my writing then please ask.

I hope you join me tomorrow with ‘Z’ when we will Zip up this A – Z blog challenge. After that, what is there you might like to see on my blog? Do let me know.








Day 24 – A-Z Blog Challenge – ‘X’



X – Xtra

So I decided today would be x for xtra (Extra) and thought I’d share with you one of my closed forms – a sestina, On the Green. This is one of my favourite poems that I completed for a poetry assignment when doing the advanced creative writing course with the Open University. I found this form sent me to places that I normally wouldn’t have gone. I hope you enjoy it.


On the Green 

Memories flock my vision as the sky turns red
to mark the end of this day. I sit still,
reminiscing the time you lost the key
to my car and stood shaking in a tea-green
dress. I wiped your tears after what appeared an age
had passed and for the first time you kissed me.

My pulse sped as I inhaled your perfume
and watched your face turn raspberry red;
I held back, so not to take advantage
but your soft mouth opened. You stood still,
waiting, my dark haired Elsie Green
in cotton, I was glad you’d lost my key.

Under a cloudless sky you turned the key
to my sun when you smiled and kissed me.
I lowered you onto the checked green
cover, your sparkling wet eyes mirrored
my image as you lay, serene and still,
staring into my eyes with a message

written in code, a foreign language
to me. You consumed me, held the key
to my sanity and caressed me as I stayed still,
possessed, then asked you to marry me.
I traced letters on your back as I mastered
seduction skills amongst the evergreen

trees. Those virgin days on the green,
the days before your first miscarriage
and the days before the venomous cancered
cells took hold of you, I turned to whiskey
but you stopped me, stayed strong for me,
my fortress, refusing to stand still.

If only you were here as I sit still,
rewinding the reel of our time on the green,
here as my pillar, here to strengthen me.
If only I could flip back the page
to the time when you turned my key –
instead I’m left alone with unanswered

questions as you lie still, never to age;
and I sit by the green mound where the key
to my sun is lost; leaving me –bewildered.


If you’d like to have a go at writing a sestina yourself here’s a couple of websites to try out

The Poetry Foundation

Have fun.


And as another extra I thought I’d share  some  poetry text books that I’ve found invaluable.

Recommended Books for Poetry

The Art and Craft of Poetry – Michael J. Bugeja – World of Books 

next word, better word – the craft of writing poetry – Stephen Dobyns – Amazon

Best WORDS, Best ORDER : Essays on Poetry – Stephen Dobyns – Amazon

POETRY IN THEORY: AN ANTHOLOGY 1900-2000 – Jon Cook – Amazon

Craft of Writing Poetry – Alison Chisholm – Amazon

A year of poetry-writing prompts from the 52 Project – Jo Bell – Blackwells

The Poetry Dictionary – John Drury – Amazon

A lot of the above books may be purchased secondhand to avoid high outlay.