Where Facts and Fiction Fuse

… stories grow

Link to Marc Latham’s post in the blog chain #mywritingprocess


I highly recommend that you go along and read Marc’ s post. Here’s a very interesting writer, and his Mirror poems are superb. It’s great to get a bit of an insight into the way other writers work. Thank you for accepting the invitation, Marc!

It has been a busy day on the home front. Two different kinds of homemade soup, and 39 pancakes later(including some gluten and dairy free ones), I’m in need of a sit-down…


#My Writing Process Blog Chain


My Writing Process

A big thank you to my friend Meg Kingston, who in passing me the baton for this blog-hop/blog chain called My Writing Process, may just have breathed some new life into this blog.

You can read Meg’s blog post (and take the opportunity to read her other excellent posts) at

http://megkingston.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/blog-hop-mywritingprocess/ , and also find out about her books, the latest being a very handy little book, especially if you are just starting out, or in need of reviving a flagging pen (or typing finger), called Just add Writing.

There’s a Twitter tag: #mywritingprocess, where you can find the other posts in the chain.

So what is my writing process about. Hmmm… :

1) What am I working on?

I always have several things on the go at the same time, which is not always a good idea (and I wouldn’t advise it), but I have problems keeping to one genré. I’ve got an eclectic mind, I suppose. So I dip in and out of my ms with the working title The Box, a novel about a lost child, memories re-surfacing in the mind of the now adult sister when a long-forgotten box turns up – and false memories being un-ravelled… set in a small village on the Welsh coast, between the 60s and today. There’s even a little bit of romance, but on the whole, I suppose it’s more literary than romance. Romance is one genré I can’t get a handle on when it comes to writing.

My children’s story/novella Morgetuid and the Dragon gets the odd red pen treatment, and as it takes quite a bit of research (well, what do I know about Norwegian dragons?), it’s slow going.

My ms (the best part of it, at least) Rheumatically Challenged, which I lost it when transferring it from computer to laptop a few years ago, has found its way back home via the editor at a now taken-over publisher who fortunately still had it on file, so I’m tweaking and adding to that, at the same time as work is on-going on the cook-book Seven Times Tables, for people with intolerances to various foods, in particular gluten.

Writing it up, I realise that I have a scary amount of work in progress, to be fitted in between family life and running my other creative business Old Hen’s Nest.  I’m also working on marrying my craft business with writing articles on craft.

But – my really different book is Diary of a Would-Be-Protagonist (WBP for short), which I self-published in October last year. The second book in the series, which I hope will be a trilogy of a kind in the end, is under way now. Hopefully it won’t take the years it took to get the first one out there.

The first book is available on Amazon:       http://www.amazon.co.uk/Diary-Would-Be-Protagonist-1-The/dp/1492357634/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393187547&sr=8-1&keywords=Diary+of+a+Would-Be-Protagonist


2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not quite sure which genré WBP would fit into. As a diary, it is the diary of a character yet to be brought into existence, and his fight to become real, even if in a fictional way, as he strives to get Anna interested in all sorts of things, including different views on The Beginning, the possibilities of the brain, philosophical conundrums – all in an argumentative, but friendly manner (Anna, his writer’s pseudonym, might argue that), and more down-to-earth than you might imagine, from a character being a flight of the imagination.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I never know what comes next, writing wise. I read something, see something, remember something, and the imagination fires up. When it comes to WBP, writing his diaries gives me the perfect opportunity to delve into age-old questions as well as new thinking – without being chained to academia (I once argued that I wanted to write books that people would want to read, not dusty academic tomes) – or even my own persona. WBP has his own life. I just wield the pen.

4) How does your writing process work?

The main body of any of my work is a process of hardly looking up from the computer, just getting the stories, or ideas, down before they evaporate. That’s when I burn that midnight candle. Re-writing and editing is done in pockets of time, fitted in with family and my other business (which keeps me very busy).

I have tried to plan out stories beforehand, but it doesn’t work for me. I have to let my imagination reign.

Well, that is a little about me and how I work (and there are even more full length manuscripts on hold). Now it just remains to hand you over to another writer and poet friend, Dr. Marc Latham, who blogs at http://www.greenygrey.co.uk/blog . His post will be up next Monday, on March 3rd .

Dr. Marc Latham travelled to all the populated continents during his twenties, studied at the University of Leeds in his thirties and has been working as a freelance writer in his forties. Marc has had many articles, stories and poems published, and has several published and self-published books available on Amazon (amazon.com/author/marclatham).

Just a little visit…

… into my poor, neglected blog. I’m not very good at keeping up to date with my blogs, and I was just as bad in keeping hand-written diaries in my youth. I had the best of intentions, but story-writing and poetry writing took over every time. And – it still does. When I’m not stitching (the other creative side if me). 

As I have agreed to take part in a writing process blog chain, I thought I’d better show my virtual face. There  done. Now for that bio needed…

Lady Codiva – a poem (for The Pages 13)

We welcome our Canadian friend and poet, Jane Richer, again, who has penned this fun poem, which I initially thought was drawn from a true life event, but not so – it was all from Jane’s imagination.

Lady Codiva

Well she wasn’t naked on a steed

but she was still ‘starkers’; yes indeed.

Only wearing rubber boots as far as I can tell

a Lady Codiva; fishing, ‘Au Natural!

Now I ‘ve seen some very strange sights

but never this way to get a fish to bite.

I wonder if this got her in the mood

standing in her Wellingtons, in the nude?

Well it was time for me to get back home

even though I was adverse to leave her alone.

This had brightened my day; what a real hoot

rarely do you see anyone fishing in their ‘Birthday suit!’

©Jane Richer

The Garden at Little Oak 14 (for The Pages)

By Rosa Johnson:

 What happened to the seasons this year? Summer in March, the wettest April ever, June all sorts of weather but it certainly wasn’t flaming;  July not a day without rain and August some wet some warm, some cold and some not so cold.

Lots of us have seen garden crops fail.  Cherries, and apples  like the Russet, failed because the blossom came out in the warm weather in March but April was so wet and cold insects including bees all stayed at home and little pollinating was done.  Later flowering fruits haven’t done so badly. Our Grenadier produced a good crop of apples and as an early fruiting variety we have already picked them. Autumn raspberries are looking good.

The currants were good and I have already made my jamcum and it set well. A new friend has promised me some damsons, which is wonderful because she has stoned them and frozen them as well. It’s great to be able to swap some of our produce. She had some of our red currants and I have frozen some black currants for her and also have a few apples left for her to freeze. Our Bramley apples don’t look as good as usual but there will be enough if the jays leave them alone.

We’ve only managed a handful of French beans and runners to date but a second planting is beginning to yield and we hope for a long season from now in which we can recoup our losses earlier in the year.  First sowings of beetroot and spinach did not survive but the second ones are looking good. Lettuces were the same, we have some Little Gem now, but there were no early ones.

We have succeeded with aubergines for the first time this year. We heard a tip that grafted plants yielded better than those grown from seed and it was right but unfortunately they are just as susceptible to bugs like aphids, white fly and red spider mite as seed grown plants. Treating them is difficult but washing up detergent and water as a spray helped to some extent except with red spider. The plants look terrible now but are still producing lovely black fruits, so who cares about the bugs?

My husband never stops telling everyone he hasn’t known a year when he’s had to mow lawns so many times.  Grass grows faster than anything else but moss, in our plot. Now, in August, the lawns are green and lush with grass and moss and though the moss was removed in March, now it’s as bad as ever.

We put up a new rose arch in the spring. We were given a large white clematis which flowered in June and we also put up a winter flowering white clematis and a azorina on the other side. We have always called this annual pink bell climber azorina but when I looked it up on Wikipaedia it talked about a damsel fish! Ah well can’t win ‘em all. I have now discovered the plant is spelt azorina not azurina as I previously thought.





The rose arch near the house.                                                Azorina on rose arch.

The rose arch by the house has been with us for years and the two purple clematis  it supports have excelled themselves intertwining with the small pale pink Fuchsia and with the abelia behind them both, it looks pretty good. The pot standard geranium under the arch had a bonanza of blooms all at once… we lost count at fifty two.

Our agapanthus flowers have done well this year, both in the ground and in pots. Campanulas always flourish here, no matter what the weather. The small blue flowered one creates a haze over the drive and the paths round the house in early summer and the larger white flowered campanula is doing well in pots now.


 White campanula

The musk rose enjoyed the inclement weather. Great swathes of blancmange-pink blooms spread along about ten feet of the fence at the back while the white Rambling Rector climbed over the pergola with the albertine. Most of the bush and standard roses suffered in the rain and the Arthur Hellier single rose flowers were eaten by a squirrel as fast as they opened.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the wretched little creature sitting among the very thorny branches consuming all the blooms as fast as they opened. I’m glad to report that despite the attention of said squirrel Arthur was not deterred from producing his usual abundance of large orange hips.

The new yellow rose has bloomed  profusely since the end of April.

 Rock rose

A thirty year old copper Acer was taken down in June.  It had become huge and was shading our favourite lawn for sitting and eating out. The garden looks much better without it, but thirty years ago we were rather over enthusiastic gardeners and like many others we planted trees too close together. There is a very nice conifer revealed by removal of the Acer and we have achieved a pleasant change. A small self planted yew in another part of the garden had to go too. This is contrary to our usual custom because we maintain that plants put themselves in better places than we choose for them. The yew got it wrong and was growing underneath a weeping beech which was not ideal for the spindly yew or the beech. We are still learning.

©Rosa Johnson

Short Story: In this Corner

 In This Corner is a short story by Jane Richer, an American writer who was to have been published in The Pages, but kindly agreed to let me post it on my blog instead.

 In This Corner

‘In this corner, showing extreme arrogance, is Mr. Progress! Already a Heavyweight- repeated K.O.’s in water, sewage, land, air and weather. Written on his left glove is Greed and equally powerful on his right glove is Apathy. He is wearing dingy grey trunks.’
   Mr Progress stepped, strutted to the centre of the ring, taunting his opponent.

 ‘Oh, I’m frightened. Mary Poppins is going to knock me out.  Boohoo, I am crying acid tears!’
   Officiating was a nondescript young man.

‘ … and in this corner, shouldering a world’s balance is Mother Nature! Also a Heavyweight- she has unleashed her wrath, sending Tsunami, earthquake, flood, volcanic eruptions, forest fires, pestilence, plague, windstorms and Tornadoes. She is wearing trunks of sunshine and light and there is a wreath of golden velvet flowers in her hair.”
   ‘Now I want a fair fight. Let’s get ready to rumble!’
   The bell sounded and Mr. P danced around M.N. feinting and jabbing, she ducked and weaved and as she danced a small field of sweet-smelling grass appeared on the ring’s floor.
   Progress changed the grass into a muddy, slick film of water, as he punched Mother Nature in the stomach with a leaking oil tanker. The hit pushed her against the ropes and from her belly flowed sticky dying birds and fish.

   Round 1 went to Mr. Progress as the bell sounded.

   The combatants sat and waited for the bell. M.N. drank a clear, cool fresh glass of water and Mr. P. puffed on a smoke stack, his inky, greasy hair, wreathed with thick black soot and ash.

   The Bell sounds: Round 2

    Mr. Progress pounded his gloves together and somewhere a forest was clear cut. M.N. did a rapid jab to his solar plexus and Mr. Progress grunted, momentarily winded. Small trees are planted around the lumberjack’s cuttings and a new forest begins to grow.
    Mr. Progress growls and feints to the left before raising his right glove and punching Mother Nature viciously under the chin.
   Down she dropped, and a rain-forest died and butterflies dropped dead, cocooning her.

   Mr. P. laughs and says,’ I win! How could I not have? Mankind in its greed has made me strong, but it is Apathy that has made me great. People turn a blind eye towards me, safe in their own lives, with bellies full, content in their self-delusion. Your precious Children are your downfall Mother Nature. I am only their Servant.’
   ‘STOP!’ a voice shouts, ringing like a thousand church bells.
Mr. P. wheeled around, gaping at the young man in the referee’s outfit.

    ‘I call this a draw,’ he said.
   ‘What? She is down, I have clearly won,’ snarls Mr. P. ‘Who are you, to dictate to Me?’ he snaps.
   Mother Nature slowly rose to her feet, smiling she said,’ Surely Mr. Progress, you recognize God?’
   God smiled gently at M.N., then rounded on Progress and said, ‘I have allowed you on my world, because without you Mankind would have stagnated! Now you have over-stepped your boundaries. You were to co-exist with M.N., not conspire against her. If you clear-cut, then you replanted new trees as well. If you strip-mined for materials and minerals, then you saved land for fish and wildlife, sparing rivers for new co-habitation. You have been lax in all your promises to nature and my children. If you continue to bring my world into unbalance and chaos, then Mr. P., when you next step into this ring it will be ME that you will face – IN THIS CORNER!’

©Jane Richer

Publication or Bust

Today we have another poem by Rosa Johnson, one for us writers and poets of a certain age and beyond, perhaps – but read on.  Please note, this poem is not editable.



  There’s an idea bumming round in my head,

   but it won’t settle.

   It escapes my grasp and continues on its errant tack,

   so frail it will not buckle, brittle yet will not crack.


   I tell myself,    ‘Be brave,  use modern language.

   It has impact.  There’s a strength behind it.’

   There’s  passion and to spare if I can find it!

   Still I hesitate to start.

   How can a modern poem be a sell-out,

   If I don’t use words like ‘tits’ and ‘shit’ and ‘fart’?


   Shall I don foul worn-out old trousers?

   Grab any old hat I can get?

   Peer over very dark glasses? Stink and sweat?

   We could go far, my poems and I.

   Some verses scan! And from now on i’ll avoid punctuation

   and capital letters where and  whenever i can


  I’ll be an objector, agnostic, drop-out, I’ll be an activist

  crawl round the city pubs all day and end up pissed!

  I’ll deplore war, oppose the monarchy and all it stands for.

  Chicken out of vasectomy, crow over the size of my cock,

  worship sex, and collect milk bottles at the top of a high-rise block.

  I’ll cultivate a penchant for all things lewd,

  live on  take-aways  and reject that filthy all-organic food.

  I won’t wash my hair, I will abhor repression,

  and launch a violent attack on each offensive weapon.


 And would it be an innovation to avoid the sordid connotation?

 To write about race with meaning and emotion?

 Does anyone read that sort of  crap?

 Poetry today must raise a real commotion.  

 You must go for the filthy innuendo and obscenity,

 praise despair and applaud profanity,

 have amphetamines on tap.

 And then?  Commit suicide!

 O consolation, consolation, Publication!

 ‘Nuff said:

 I’ll be a real sensation when I’m dead!


© Rosa Johnson


A poem from Rosa Johnson today, in memory of a beloved friend and companion.   


Following us across the fields towards the shore,

she’s already hanging back, lagging behind, bringing up the rear

at a safe distance. She’d rather not be here at all.

We turn, and see she’s watching kites, head forward,

ears down, knowing we‘ll call her and hitch her lead to the collar.

Reluctantly she closes in, anxiety brimming. 

Knowing we shall go where the kites are.


Her sight is deteriorating, her hearing

isn’t good but she’s the first to know,

the kites are out. They sweep low swinging over

the hedge. They rise again soaring, rumbling,

their full breasts cradling the wind  beneath them. 

She wants to make a run for it, she thinks she might,

but loyalty persuades her to  stay with us, though fearing  to go,

where the kites are.


Wind-surfing enthusiasts out on the water, leap

and swing,  relishing the risks they take,

defying fear.  Wires rattle, the sea is restless,

splashing, splattering, bumping, lifting the boards as they ride

the waves oblivious of the torment they are causing our little animal.

Poor dog, she wishes she was somewhere else, anywhere but here,

where the kites are.


After five minutes we turn for home. I’m holding the lead.

She takes off at speed, towing me after her. There’s

no lagging behind now, she has the energy of  two

and my legs move faster than they have in years.

Up the bank and over the track, across the park

and into the field where, encouraged by her successful  escape,

she allows her  tail to swing, allows me to rest, and look back

 to see the others laughing, coming to join us  from the shore,

where the kites are.


©Rosa Johnson


Chest a Minute…


A Slice of Life from June Gundlack:

Chest a minute… Another day in the life of a writer, so it had to be written!

I had no idea, that the chest I’d ‘inherited’ on the day I was born … was to become something that would be captured by London Underground. Normally, if someone losses something, they can toddle along to Lost Property and hope the goods have been handed in, in good condition. 

Today, at Loughton Station – I walked towards the ticket barriers.  I tapped my Oyster card on the turnstile and the arms unfolded – I proceeded in a northerly direction to pass through the arms.  They closed mid proceedings and captured… yes, my CHEST.  ‘Ouch, bl**dy ouch’, were the first words to come to me.  A member of the station staff released me by tapping their escapee card on the turnstile successfully releasing my arms and other bits, I could see a slight smile and cringe as she walked away.  ‘Yes, lady, it was painful’,  I wanted to shout.  But, glad of my freedom, I continued in a northerly direction and onwards to…the dentist.  A nice way to spend a Saturday, the hottest 1st October in history.

If you thought mammograms were uncomfortable – don’t try the ticket barrier hug without local anaesthetic, especially if carrying a heavy chest!   

© June Gundlack

Trace Your Roots by Maureen Vincent-Northam: Press Review

 The hunt for your ancestors just got a whole lot easier!

Herefordshire author, Maureen Vincent Northam, has put her experience as a genealogist into a great book designed to help anyone eager to delve into their UK family history, whether their starting off point is the UK, US, Australia or Canada.

Inspired originally by her interest in local history and old buildings, Maureen stumbled upon genealogy about a dozen years ago. Since then she has helped many people trace their families.


Trace Your Roots

Trace your Roots is jam packed with valuable information in the form of hundreds of tips that leads you through the process of growing your family tree in your own way. “Not everyone starts at the same place,” Maureen says, “The chapters are organised so that it’s easy to use a ‘pick ‘n mix’ approach. For example, some people don’t need to look at war records or immigration records. The book shows the most effective ways to begin researching your family’s history; ways to read between the lines when tackling the civil resources, how to get the most from all of the parish records, which records to consult in order to delve deeper into your ancestors’ past and… that pidgin Latin can be fun!

“We are all curious to know who we are and I’m passionate to get people to record their family history. This can sometimes seem daunting to the beginner and I hope my book puts fun into it.”

Maureen is delighted to use her skills as a writer to inspire people of all ages to explore their past. In our world of instant communication, it’s more important than ever to preserve our history and this is an excellent way to do it.

With great tips on ways to gather background evidence; understanding and deciphering old documents and records; information on less well-known sources, advice on creating family archives and all of the most useful websites and addresses, Trace your Roots will ensure your family tree flourishes!

Available from Amazon UK: £7.99 Maureen’s Genealogy Blog: http://trace-your-roots.blogspot.co.uk/

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