Thursday 18 December 2014

I have a string quartet in my kitchen. It's a first, and I have to say, it's rather nice. What players! But, for once, this isn't a house gig but a trial run to see if 'strings' will work on a song we've written. So they're helping us out. Sounding good so far. They're all medical students, by the way, fresh from their exams and looking forward to some time off from pulsations, eruptions and suppurations, to chilling out. Hopefully, the Thai curry and Ferrero Rocher, hardly a reward but a thank you, will help them slide more easily into their festive vacation. As for the song, I'll keep you posted on future developments. Happy Christmas everyone and a good 2015.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Back from a fab trip to China. Lots of pics. Just trying to transfer them from my seriously arthritic lap top to my main computer. All sorts of lights flashing, things moving sedately across the little Copying box in the left hand corner. A road of green blocks seems to be taking a worrisome amount of time to complete. Hope the memory stick's up to this. Being a technological Luddite I'm finding the whole thing a bit nerve shredding. Could have written novel number three in the time this is taking...  Serves me right for liking my digital camera so much. It's turned me into someone who can actually take a photograph, so not to spurn the gift I tend to click rather more than is good for me. So now the stick is full and not all the pics have copied. Operation to transfer and delete. Seems to be OK. 55 seconds to go  and whoopee doo! All done. Now to sort them. I may be some time. Anyway thanks for dropping by. Just to let you know on the writing front, second novel awaiting agent's approval and third one underway. I'll keep you posted on that as well as what's happens on the music front. A few gigs coming up, change in band personnel and different slant on the songs. Heck. I notice my desk has something growing on it. Only been home a week. Orderliness is so boring, don't you think?

Tuesday 7 October 2014

People will stand amazed. And I ought to take pictures, not of their amazement, but of my desk, to prove that it is... how can I say this without sounding like an excessive swellhead... transformed. I can see clearly now the junk has gone. I can see all obstacles have been moved. Yes sirree! It's a bright, bright, sunshiny place to work now. A monumental task. Took a whole weekend. But worth it.  Just as well. Reading my previous blog and the omission of the word life from it, making the sentence it should have been in read rather oddly,  just shows how editing my own writing is a task and a half. You think it's perfect (or as perfect as it ever can be) but Lo and Behold, once it's published, the errors leap out almost smirkily. Editing my desk is a whole lot easier. On the song front, a bit more recording last night of May Day 1916. That song. That song. When it's all done we'll let you hear it, one way or another. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday 25 September 2014

Working on new idea for novel number three while my wonderfully perceptive agent, James, combs the tats out of novel number two. So working on something new which means thinking time. AKA looking around my towers of papers, turrets of books and the sea of wood that is my desk with its flotsam and jetsam. My desk appals most people. It's like my bedroom when I was a teenager. I could live my whole in that room and ditto from this desk as a supposed Grown Up With Responsibilities. Make-up. Bottle of water. Probably not drinkable. Magazines with my stories in, magazines without. Harrumph. Head phones to listen to missed radio programmes, and recorded bits of novel, printer, computer, hard drive, DVDs, pens that work, pens that don't work. Pencils with points, pencils without. Hand gel. Next year's diary. Two in fact. An Australian ten dollar note. Fisherman's Friends because of the sore throat. I'm singing on Saturday. Sorry all you dentists. What can a person do? Promise to floss. Yup, there's some of that here somewhere.  A book which tells me how to get an egg inside a bottle and back out = Important Research for Short Story Which Magazine Might Buy. Harrumph again. 1955 song book complete with chords for keyboard. Tub of elastic bands. Hand cream. Scissors which won't cut a thing. What are serrated scissors meant to cut? Cheap serrated scissors. Pound store serrated scissors. The only thing they do is look like crocodile jaws. A red glove. My favourite perfume. Just sprayed myself and the room with it. Gorgeous.  Train tickets for London. There's more and more, but, just for the record, no mouldy food or mugs with foam floating in the dregs. So I'm not a complete Grown Up Slob With Responsibilities. There's more but my feet are getting cold, sitting. So got to get off the chair and have a look about the room, find something to tidy up, have some thinking time. Keep you posted.   

Saturday 13 September 2014

Northern Lights Near Miss...?

Abortive trip to see Northern Lights over St Mary's Island at 3am today. Managed to miss it all, though we- which includes Jack, the Aussie backpacker - let our optical imaginations tease us into thinking we saw something, changes in the sky, bands of vague light, wispy movement. Tricks of the mind, probably nothing more. Missed it, in fact, by light years, or at least three hours, if other people's photographs are to be believed. Trying again tonight. Tomorrow the band play at BAA FEST in Bellingham, after a meet-the-author session and a chat with Jane Knights of Folkspot Radio based in Norfolk but in Northumberland for the festival. If you can't get there why not have a listen on

Monday 8 September 2014

Working hard on book two. With my agent's wise words and suggestions it's becoming a complete thing rather than something scatter-gunned onto the page. But all of that work scrambles the brain and requires a break. So  took myself off for a river walk. Chilly. Autumn on its way. Great. Ignoring the bags of dog-do helpfully dotted around the place took  myself down to the fish quay and then back along to the Tyne Estuary. Low tide. The Black Middens trembling with shore birds. Up the bank to have a look at the sea and the benches with their little plaques. Found I wanted to read them all. Lived here for so long and never done that. Came back feeling as if I'd wandered around a cemetery, having wondered about those people behind the names, their stories. Rather lovely, rather peaceful. Brain unscrambled.

Thursday 7 August 2014

Brazilian Anthem for Jackson Dawes

Uma Canção Para Jack
Just taken delivery of this today. And if you look on Youtube you can see a trailer for it. I loved it. Made me cry and laugh all at once. Fab. Oh I need to learn some languages! Check it out below.

Sunday 27 July 2014


So this weekend it's been hard at it with the song writing team. Colin, Tony and myself. We managed to produce a small sackful, in between bacon sandwiches, lunch, and restorative beverages. Hard work, I can tell you, but worth it. Didn't notice how the strawberries from a day ago had grown an overcoat of mould, they don't last long do they, and had cosied up with the red grapes, equally short lived, at least in our kitchen, and shared their fur with them. So no resting on laurels once the songs were done, it was clean up the kitchen, put out the trash, sweep up the crumbs. Rock and Roll.

Thursday 12 June 2014

All things bright and beautiful

You know, when all's said and done, nothing's so important as life, nothing's so trivial as writing, in the face of a baby born too early, trying to take a bite out of life to see what it's like. There's a teeny feller over in Oz, doing just that. He's one of those wee ones that come complete with hats and tubes and drips and nurses. One of those who live in tanks and under lights and with machines ticking and bleeping away in the background. And somehow, him battling away to get a nibble, makes the world spin a tad faster. My world anyway, and the world of people who matter to me. And over the last week, little feller seems to have developed a taste for catching a ride on it. And he has. So good on him. Time to head home and put some weight on those sparrow-bones and have a go at life outside the box.  It's not so bad, little feller.  And all the while, my book has taken a nibble of its own, with hats and tubes and bleeping things to help it along, and another miracle, trivial in the extreme, has happened. All creatures great and small.

Monday 12 May 2014

One of these days I'll get this second novel sorted. Anyone out there with pearls of wisdom, come thread them around my neck, don't be shy, don't hang back, I'm here to be advised, to be have my fevered brow dabbed with something cool. There's just me and the wide blue yonder communing and fretting. But hey, Sunderland has restored my faith in something. All is not lost.

Friday 7 March 2014

Book two. First draft to agent. Flat battery in car. Hey ho. Soon, though, very soon it'll all be OK. Yes, yes, I'm a believer. Had a nice week, up and down to Yorkshire and then to Newcastle Uni to talk about Anthem for Jackson Dawes. He just keeps going, that boy. Have nice days, folks.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

This has been a busy time. Second novel syndrome really does exist, folks, and combating that has taken up all of my energy. Still doing all the first novel stuff, readings and signings, and still hanging on in with some of the awards whose lists it was mentioned in. That takes up quite a lot of emotional and mental energy. Disappointments are inevitable and so I bat them away like flies. No point in dwelling for too long. Only, flies can be tricksy little things. So I keep batting. Three cheers for singing, I say, for being able to write a song and perform it with my band and have people like what they hear. Three cheers for school children and teachers and librarians who invite me in to write with them and to sing with them and to stop me worrying about second novels.  Finished rough draft today, by the way. Off to my agent. Fingers crossed. Life is full of crossed fingers, don't you find? And in the scheme of things, when the south of England seems to be melting into the sea, I don't feel that my little dilemmas should even have air space, though getting them off my chest is quite nice. Welcome to the world of writing.  

Monday 27 January 2014

Had a lovely time in Berwick this weekend with my new band, singing the new songs and enjoying the rich hospitality of the Kazmiranda cafe. Thanks to all who supported us and bought albums and of course for seeming to enjoy the new stuff. If you want to know more then go to  and see what else we're up to.

Friday 24 January 2014

It's almost the end of January and I'm fizzing with long lists and short lists and everything in between. Anthem for Jackson Dawes has trotted off on its own and is featuring on lists for the North Lanarkshire Catalyst Award; Coventry Inspiration Award; Brandford Boase Award; Carnegie Medal; UKLA Award; Leeds Book Awards.It's ab fab to get as far as those lists, and though there's a long, long road ahead, which can terminate at any point, who knows where, I have to thank the editor of the book, Emma Matthewson, my agent James Catchpole and of course Cornerstones for all their faith, all their hard work and pushing me into this frantic world of writing. I feel privileged to have worked with them all. Yes, I wrote the book, but without these good people it would still be just a pile of paper with words on it. As for awards, well, I'd like to shuffle along from the nominations to the long lists, from the long lists to the short lists, and hey, if anything better happens after that, fab. But it's fab anyway. The process of it all means that someone, somewhere has not slushed my book but is reading it and discussing it.  And there are lots of someones. And they matter more than anything. Thank you for your time.