Keep calm and keep going


     I started writing my new book over a year ago.  Unlike the best-selling self published crime writer Mark Dawson, I'm not able to knock out a book every three months.  And his books are good too - I love his John Milton series.   Not only does he write best selling crime fiction he puts out a constant stream of useful webinairs for other writers and runs courses (if you can afford them) to teach you how to market your book AND there's free talks on You Tube too.
     Meanwhile back in my world ... it took me a year to write Writing Memoir.  How to Write a Story from Your Life, which has just been published.

My previous book, (A Hippopotamus at the Table) a proper memoir, took me 5+ years. 

     So maybe I'm getting faster... but I don't think I'll ever be in Mr Dawson's speed league.
     Of course  (I'm not criticising him, just jealous) he has, I believe, a wife who presumably does his cooking and cleaning and washing. Male writers frequently do. They can lock themselves in their study and their meals are brought to them.  They've put on clean clothes that morning - ironed too no doubt by the wives/partners. Or even, if they are in Mr Dawson's best seller league, they can pay others to do their chores.
     So I'm looking for a male 'wife' to do all that so I can concentrate entirely on my writing.  He must be well off, perhaps early retired too, so he can support me in times of scrabbling around for pennies to fund my writing enterprises. Any takers?  I'm putting it out there.
     By the way, if anyone is buying my book, perhaps you would like to write a review. This would be immensely helpful.  If I can build up 20-50 reviews, I can put my book forward for promotion on BookBub and GoodReads and that would give an enormous boost to book sales and my writing career.  Here's a link to the review page Amazon Review page for my book
    Moving on ... I'm about half way through writing my second memoir. 
     And I'm floundering somewhat.  A proper memoir should be structured something like a novel.  It should carry you from chapter to chapter.  Each chapter should end in a way that makes you want to turn over the page. I've just written a new chapter and it seems ... well  ... somewhat lacklustre.  It needs an injection of oomph, it doesn't inspire me to carry on writing into the next chapter, let alone inspire a reader to carry on. 
     What to do?  Should I tear it up and start again. Too drastic. What would lift it from bumping along the silt at the bottom of the pond to being a silver fish, bursting through the water and jumping into the sunlight full of energy.   I think I'll read it through and see if I can jazz it up, restructure it, add more colour, sound, smell. 

Any comments or suggestions gratefully received - to my website or to

 My new book, published January 2018.

Writing Memoir.  How to Tell a Story from Your Life.

You can buy it on Amazon.   [25th Jan 2018 - Hold that thought - I've currently had to suspend print book sales due to problems with the cover.  These are being fixed and will be back for sale on Amazon very shortly. - meanwhile it is still available on Kindle - KDP  - CLICK HERE

And here's a taster from the book:

Ten points to remember in the art of story telling

and narrative, in memoir writing.

1.  A good plot and well-defined characters, brought to life by dialogue.  Structuring a narrative is the most important thing you’ll do.  There’s the narrative thread, unfolding   story, for the whole book.  Then chapter by chapter, building to climactic moments, creating dialogue and developing characters.
2. Emotional content Think about the emotional impact of what happened to you. You really want the reader to ‘get’ that, to be involved from the start.  The emotional content for all the other characters involved comes next and how they interact with you and each other.
3. Starting point. Begin at a really interesting point in your story – a pivotal moment. The story should grip the reader from the opening sentence. Then work back, showing how the story got to that point..

4. Empathy with the narrator/protagonist – in memoir, that’s you.  This is vital to keep up reader interest in carrying on reading so they really want to know what happens to you. 

5. Mood changes – that’s not your mood, it’s the mood changes of the story.  If you have something dramatic happen, which carries on for a few chapters until it’s resolved, maybe you need a chapter where everyone calms down, here and there.

6. How to end a chapter?   Each chapter should end in such a way that the reader HAS to turn to the next page to find out what happened next.  The links between chapters should flow smoothly

When I wrote my first memoir, my editor told me. ‘It’s like a series of anecdotes’. So I went back and re-wrote beginnings and endings of chapters so it flowed more smoothly.

7. Your story is unique, whatever the genre. Build the reader's involvement slowly, take them down a few tangents. Don’t reveal it all straightway, so it's not clear where the story’s going. Keep some surprises for the end.  Build the reader's anticipation.

8. Setting is important, culture, country, rural, urban. Your story will start/end in a specific place.  Think about the place and how the characters move around the objects – it’s like writing a scene for a play.

9. Colour, sound smell. Make your references to these unusual and un-clich├ęd.  Don’t for example refer to the sparkling turquoise sea, or the white glare of the sun.  Try and think of unusual ways to say these things.

10.Endings:  If you set up a puzzle or conundrum or mystery about what’s happening in your story, keep teasing the reader about how it’s going to end. The story should move towards some kind of resolution, some kind of satisfaction of the plot that ties together the whole story. You can do this just as well with memoir as with fiction.

Halloween, witches and ghosts stories and poems event at The Little Green Dragon Ale House...

I wrote a long  poem called The Spriggan for Halloween and I'll be performing live as a witch with two other witches Rosie Canning and Lyndsay Bamfield - they'll be reading haunting tales ... woooo woooo! ... and other story tellers at

The Little Green Dragon Ale House 

928 Green Lanes
Mason's Corner
Winchmore Hill
London N21 2AD

Buses 329 (from Enfield and Palmers Green) and 125 (from Southgate, Whetstone and Finchley) stop right outside the Little Green Dragon.   The nearest train stations are Winchmore Hill or Grange Park (5 to 10 min walk).  The nearest underground station is Southgate (Piccadilly Line), then catch 125 bus.

Tuesday Night 31st October 2017 -  7 pm

Here's an extract....  The Spriggan is a faerie/Green Man figure from Cornish folklore - who guards ancient sites and ruins...

The Parkland Walk is an old railway track that closed down in the 1950s when Mr Beecham decided that many small railway stations were no longer economic.  There was a huge outcry but they closed anyway - stations that closed along The Parkland Walk were such as Crouch End and  Muswell Hill.  Many years later it was rescued from brambles and oblivion by a conservation/ permaculture group, who commissioned a statue of a 'spriggan' to be made by a sculptress.  She built it into the side of one of the arches beside a short tunnel, made of brick.

The Spriggan

Dusk is falling on the Parkland walk
the last remnants of walkers quicken their step
they’ve heard the rumours, and the rumours are right.

The goat man’s eyelids open a tiny crack.
The woman pushing her pram hurries past. A low growl
starts deep in the throat of the black dog tied to her pram …
the dog knows, oh yes he knows…
he keeps his head low, stiff-legged as they scurry past,
down the path and out onto the lane.

The last train chuffed its way down this track in 1954.
Nature took over and time stood still. Until in 1984,
the Parkland Walk was born.  Banks of weeds and brambles
were cleared, now Nature was to be conserved but controlled.

High up, where the walk crosses a wide bridge
near Muswell Hill, the lights of London are flickering on,
in a sea of twinkles across to the Thames and beyond.
It’s a clear cold crispy night and a full moon is rising.

The goat man lifts his grey green head, stretches out
cold stiff limbs and looks to the rising moon.  He cocks his head,
listening …‘Can you hear it? Can you hear it? His croaking voice,
rusty as old iron, speaks in a hoarse whisper, to himself.

More to come ....  on Halloween