Monthly Archives: October 2016

Happy Everybody reads YA

Welcome to another ‘happy everybody reads YA’ #SundayBLogShare.

Yesterday, I was reading an article in the magazine that comes out with the Saturday edition of the London Times. Most of the magazine readers are well past their teens, and the article, titled ‘How to speak teen in 2016.’  was intended as a guide for the perplexed parent. However,as teen-speak moves so fast, the fact that there was an article about it in such a magazine probably means that many of the words are now out of date. One I thought I knew – wicked, meaning great, wasn’t in the list; seems to have been replaced by ill (at least until last week).

I largely steer clear of ‘in’ words and phrases when writing as they so quickly go out of fashion, and would make my book look dated (not to mention me!) But one word I could have done with when writing And Alex Still has Acne, is facejack – to change someone’s Facebook details, usually to cause humiliation. This happens to Alex’s sister, Nicky early in the book as appears in the following excerpt:

And Alex -coverShe gave a big sniff, shuffled along her bed to the little desk at the foot, and switched on her laptop that her parents had given her for her 13th birthday. It was neat and light, with a pink cover, and Alex had linked it up to the internet for her. She was very proud of it, even taking it into school recently to complete a special project. She switched it on and typed in her password. She knew she should start her homework first, but a quick online chat wouldn’t do any harm surely? She logged into her Facebook page and reeled back in horror – someone had replaced her photo with a close up of a pig in a tutu standing on its hind legs. This time she screamed out loud. Alex, who was passing her room on the way to his, paused outside her door. He was still annoyed at what she had said about his friend, and cross with his mother for telling him off, but she did sound upset. He knocked her door briefly and went straight in without waiting for permission. “What’s up, Sis?” She pointed mutely at the screen. Alex’s first impulse was to laugh – the pig photo was very funny – but he squashed this impulse quickly as he could see she was upset. “Who did that? Not you presumably?” She shook her head. “I don’t know. It wasn’t there this morning.” 

Want to read more? Please go to the following link:


In search of Irish roots

Since the result of the referendum in June was for Britain to leave the European Union, aireland growing number of British people have been checking their Irish roots to see (only half-jokingly) if they have sufficient Irish ancestry to qualify for an Irish passport, move to Ireland, and thus remain part of the EU. (For US readers, Ireland is Eire, or the southern part of Ireland, which became an independent country about 100 years ago, joined the EU in its own right, and is still a member. Northern Ireland is still part of the UK, so will leave Europe, along with the rest of Britain, in due course).

As well as a genuine Irish relative, an understanding of Irish culture and the Celtic language might help! Failing that, a bit knowledge of Irish vocabulary could be useful. Here are a few Irish words that are in regular use in English. Some are obviously Irish in origin, largely still refer to matters Irish, and need no explanation:

  • shamrockShamrock
  • Leprechaun
  • Whiskey
  • Shebeen
  • Lough
  • Craic
  • Bog

You may be surprised that some words in common usage in English are actually Irish in origin:

  • Brogue – both the shoe, and the (Irish) accent – presumably an allusion to the type of shoe the speaker was wearing!
  • Clock – apparently this was first a reference to the bell an Irish missionary might be carrying.
  • Galore – as in the film / book Whisky Galore. Yes, I know the story and author are is Scottish, but you get the picture!
  • Slogan – this was originally a battle cry, though a modern advertising slogan is not much different.
  • Smithereens – small fragments.

There are also words that you may not know are Irish in origin. Especially as their meaning in modern English is subtly different from the original one:

  • Gob – originally beaky nose
  • Slob –originally mud
  • Brat –originally cloak
  • Tory – originally an outlaw (well, maybe not quite so subtle!)

And one last phrase, that is new to me too. It evokes the often sad history of Ireland and the struggles and famines in the past. Literally meaning ‘poor old woman’ Shan Van Vocht was a literary name for Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. More recently Ireland has been better known for its ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy – and the craic, of course.




Happy Everybody Reads YA

Welcome to another Everybody Reads YA #SundayBlogShare.

Just because you are a teen, doesn’t mean you’re not interested in old peofestive-treatsple, or don’t care about someone who is in her eighties, in poor health and about to spend Christmas on her own.

But it doesn’t have to be like that for her!

Read all about Mary’s Christmas in my short story of that name in Festive Treats. This anthology includes stories for YA and adults alike and is currently free on Amazon.



Then, if you like this story, you might be tempted to read one of my YA novels – And Alex Still has Acne, or Girlfriends.

You can find more information and buying links for these and all my other published stories on the NEW Published Work page of this blog.

Excerpt from Mary’s Christmas:

She looked at her wine bottle. Still nearly a whole glassful left. She probably shouldn’t, not with the instructions with her medication saying, in capitals AVOID ALCOHOL. But it was Christmas, no one would see if she got a bit tipsy, and if she stayed sitting down after her meal, she’d be fine. She planned to watch a bit of TV once she’d eaten anyway, so if she put the remote within reach she wouldn’t have to move for hours.

Mary enjoyed her pudding and savoured the last few drops of wine. Pleasantly woozy she picked up her remote and pressed the “on” button. The TV screen flickered, flashed, and died. Oh no! What a terrible day for the telly to go on the blink. She struggled to get up and see if the time-old remedy of switching it off and on again at the wall would fix it.

Her foot caught in the rug in front of her chair. She stumbled and fell forward, her head only just missing the little table the TV was sitting on. She tried to get up, but felt too giddy.

“It’s the wages of sin, old girl,” she said to herself. “I’ll just lie here a bit, till I sober up.” And with that she fell into a deep sleep.

Recent review of Mary’s Christmas and Festive Treats

Some of the stories are moving and heartwarming. The story of Mary’s lone Christmas, standing above the rest in the bunch, I feared another outcome, which is testament to the cleverness of how the story unfurls. The resolution made me joyously happy! Margaret Egrot has written a truly beautiful story.


Girl Friends - cover

festive-treatsAnd Alex -cover




Whilst sitting in the garden of a public house called the Navigation Inn at the weekend, enjoying the autumn sunshine and watching the barges go by on the nearby canal, I mused as to why a pub in such a location would have the name Navigation. Surely there aren’t many navigational skills required on a canal? Don’t you either go up, or down?

canalWhat I didn’t know then, but a short time with Professor Google has informed me, is that canals were sometimes known as navigations. During the late eighteenth century canals/navigations were built throughout England as a more efficient method of transporting goods than a horse and cart. Digging out the canals required intense manual labour and those undertaking this work were known as navigators, or navigational engineers. But not for long: the term was soon shortened to navvy.canal-navvies

It was hard physical work. The pay was poor, but at least it was regular. By its very nature
it often took a man away from his family, and sometimes his homeland, with primitive sleeping quarters, and limited after-work entertainment.

It was also thirsty work. Not surprisingly, a number of public houses sprang up in areas where canals were being dug and, again not surprisingly, navvies took themselves Group of slightly drunk men, three sitting on Tooth & Co., Limitoff to them of an evening, soon gaining a reputation for drunkenness and unruliness. A far cry from my genteel drinking companions in the Navigation Inn gardens last Sunday.

By the 1830s canal transport was giving way to the speedier railways, and navvies turned their attention to railway line construction. The term navvy was still used in England (and often still is for road builders). But in America, where labour costs were higher, navvy was more often the term used for a steam shovel. The manual workers on the railways there were called gandy dancers, and a popular theory for the origins of that term was the coordinated movement of the line of men using a special tool (gandy) in unison to knock a line into place.

Some people think the term navvy has Irish origins as there were many Irish navvies in the twentieth century. But during the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the majority of workers on the English canals and railways were English. There are however plenty of genuinely Irish words that have come into use in English, as I will explore in next week’s blog.

If you have enjoyed reading my blog, and would like to read more of my work, you can check out my books and purchase links on my blog page for published work. Want to try before you buy? I have a short story in the anthology, Festive Treats, which is currently


Happy Everybody Reads YA.

Welcome to this week’s ‘happy everybody reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare. Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my short story – Sleeping Beauty.

Excerpt:sleeping beauty

I thought she was going to kill me there and then, so I ran straight down the stairs and out through the front door. I didn’t want to worry Dad, and I didn’t know if staying or going would upset him the most. Whatever time he came home, he liked to see me and give me a goodnight hug; and he hated to come home to an atmosphere between Sukie and me. But I didn’t want to die and I certainly didn’t want to be scarred. I ran to save my skin, but as I ran I worried about how I would explain in school tomorrow why I hadn’t finished my homework. Or, for that matter, if I did actually go to school, why I was still in my pajamas.


Dawn has been in a coma for a year and is visited in hospital every day by her devoted father, occasionally by the ghost of her dead mother, and once by her vicious stepmother. Unable to move a muscle she monitors their coming and going and relives the events that lead to her accident. She yearns to wake up and live like a teenager again, but nothing so far has been able to rouse her from her deep, deep sleep. Then, on her fourteenth birthday she is visited by a mysterious delivery boy with a strange package.


First LoveSleeping Beauty was first published as part of the Solstice Anthology First Love:

For more stories, including my two YA novels And Alex Still Has Acne, and my latest one, Girl Friends, you can go to one of my Amazon author pages.

Meet Poet Emilie Lauren Jones




Today the young poet Emilie Lauren Jones features on my blog. If you live in or near Coventry UK, you can catch Emilie reading her poems and signing copies of her latest collection at the Big Comfy Bookshop on Saturday 15th October, 1-3pm.




What is the title of your latest poetry collection? Can you tell us a bit about it?emilie-4

It’s called ‘Sitting on the Pier’ and is a collection of poems which I wrote during and just after my time at Coventry University. Some of the poems have been published in other places or won competitions. Generally, I like to write poetry that people can relate to and firmly believe that poetry should be accessible for everyone to enjoy. This idea is at the core of the collection and is confirmed in the title poem with the repetition of the line ‘all are welcome here.’ There are also regular references to nature throughout the book due to my belief that, as humans, we have a deep connection with nature.


What are the most challenging aspects of being a poet? And the most rewarding?

The most challenging thing is that, sadly, not everyone likes poetry! It is not as ‘mainstream’ as other forms of writing so it can be quite a hard sell. As for the rewarding side of poetry, I love it when people come and talk to me at events and share their own passion for poetry or tell me that they have been touched by something I have written or performed. I have met many interesting people at events and workshops. I especially enjoy doing performances, although I do get pretty nervous beforehand, I like seeing people’s immediate reactions and I’ve always had very positive feedback, which I hope continues!

Do  you work in other literary genres?emilie-2

Yes, my first ever competition win was The Guardian’s Short Story competition and my story appeared in an anthology called ‘The Perfect Lie.’ I have had a number of non-fiction articles published as well as flash fiction and micro-fiction. I enjoy the challenge and variety that writing in different literary genres brings but poetry will always remain as one of my great passions.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

From my own experience it is absolutely crucial to read as much as you can and see what others are doing right. Next, I would highly recommend joining a writing group (I am a member of the Coventry Writers’ Group). There are many advantages to this; firstly, other people with experience give you quality feedback on your own writing, secondly, you will get to find out about and become involved in events and finally, I find it inspires me to write more so that I have something to bring to the meetings.

 What are you working on at the moment?

I have emilie-3quite a few events coming up in the next few weeks which I will be performing at; I am very excited to be doing an ‘author meet and greet’ as well as performing poems from ‘Sitting on the Pier’ in Coventry at Fargo Village’s ‘Big Comfy Book Shop’ on October 15th. I’m also booked in to do a couple of Christmas Fayres around The Midlands and some poetry workshops for some local groups. I also have a few non-fiction articles that need finishing, which have been accepted for magazines and ideas for a couple of short stories that I am hoping to get written down soon!



What do you like to read? I always have a poetry collection on the go whether it’s by a particular poet or anthology featuring various poets and I enjoy reading a mixture of classic and modern poetry.  Aside from this, I love novels with interesting characters and a strong plot. I like anything that’s unique and leaves you thinking about it long after you’ve finished reading it.

 Where can readers find you?



Happy Everybody Reads YA

Welcome to Everybody Reads YA #SundayBlogShare.

Today I’m sharing another excerpt from my latest YA novel, Girl Friends. A contemporary tale of friendship between two girls – a friendship tested when one of them gets entrapped by sex traffickers. But does the other one have the knowledge or courage to do anything about it? And will it work anyway?


Suddenly there is a commotion outside my door. Not me, not now. Dear God, please don’t let anything happen to me. I stop drumming my feet, clench my eyes tighter shut, and pray harder. There is a banging on the door into the adjacent room, and a shout—‘Get out! Police!’

My door is kicked open, but the two men who enter the room don’t give me a second glance. They rush to the end of the room, tear back the long curtain, throw back the bolts on the concealed door and run out. I hear the metallic clanging from their shoes as they race down the fire escape. Within seconds, the man from next door, completely naked, his clothes clutched to his chest with his left hand and one shoe in his right hand, rushes in and out through the door, and down the same set of steps.

Blurb:Girl Friends - cover

Nothing is working out for Courtney, and even Grace, her beautiful best friend has no time for her now she has a boyfriend who has promised to get her a modelling contract. Courtney senses something is wrong – what is Grace getting herself into? And can Courtney and her new-found friends rescue Grace before it is too late? It is a race against time …..


PSST! Not sure about me as a writer? Want to try before you buy? I have a short story in Festive Treats – an anthology of Christmassy tales that is available as a free download: