My new book – and a writer’s struggle!

I am now engaged in writing a trilogy on the life story of my new character Jess. It starts with the first novel, set in the mid-1960s in Africa where 18 year old English student, Jess, has fled her stifling background to become a volunteer for her gap year between school and university.  But she finds herself instead becoming embroiled in civil war, an unexpected romance, and the tragedy that ensues. The book follows her life-changing experiences set against the backdrop of a small war-torn West African nation.

And, yes, although it is a novel, and therefore “made up”, it is based, in some measure, on my own experiences in Ghana, where I worked as a volunteer, so there’s a lot of authentic first-hand observations of the country, its wonders and its tragedies. The book is called Drumbeats and it will be available through Amazon and all the usual channels, as a paperback and ebook for kindle, later this year.

I have the background info, I have the authentic letters, I have the photos and memories, I have my diary/journal/log, and I have great times reliving the times and the country. But I am finding it really hard to resume from half way through, without going back and editing yet again because I’m not satisfied!

Why would my character Jess have been so affected by Jim’s piano playing when he plays his arrangement for piano of Mozart’s clarinet concerto in A?

How can I show her relationship with “the guy she left behind” and how important it was to her, when she is so affected by Jim?

Is the wonder of the country, especially at that time in history, coming through strongly enough to the reader? Am I making it real and “visible” to my  readers? Can they really “see” it all?

Is the effect that the poverty Jess sees haunting enough for the readers? Are they emotionally affected by the descriptions and events?

Some days I think that the title Drumbeats actually reflects the drumming of the phrase (amended from the original for my own purposes!) “so many ideas, so little time!”

My publisher’s waiting….!

New publisher, new cover for The Old Rectory: escape to a country kitchen

UK edition front coverI was really pleased to see the following article on a US blog about me as a writer and my latest books. It’s congratulating me as the winner of the London Book Festival ‘s 2012 biography section for my memoir The Old Rectory. Check it out on

I also have my new UK edition on Amazon in paperback and ebook kindle editions. See my author page  on

There’s a new cover featuring a Victorian kitchen and it’s published by my new English publisher NGP part of Legend Press.

I hope it sells lots. I would love to think that lots of folks are making my recipes at the end of each chapter, and maybe feeling more inspired by my writing. It was really nice that the receptionist at work grabbed me yesterday and said that she had downloaded my kindle version of The Old Rectory and was loving reading it!