Monday, December 5, 2016

Awkwardly British?

Tonight my daughter looked up from her homework and remarked, 'Mom, you sounded awkwardly British just then.' I can't actually remember what I said, but it was definitely not an American expression. And the longer we live in England, it seems the more 'awkwardly British' I become--saying bin instead of trash can, car park instead of parking lot, biscuit instead of cookie. And not just using different words but different constructions--my three-year-old asked me earlier if the biscuit (yes, biscuit!) I was handing her had 'raisins in'. In the US you would say 'raisins in it'. Another one is using 'quite' rather than 'very'. There are myriad different words and expressions, of course, and I could hardly begin to catalogue them all, although as a family we have tried. One child made it a school project!

But in any case my daughter's phrase 'awkwardly British' rattled around in my head for awhile. How can I be awkwardly British while living in Britain? And the more I write the word awkward, the more awkward a word it seems! But anyway...

My children are quite ruthless when it comes to ferreting out British expressions and pouring disdain upon them. If I ever dared to say truly quintessentially British words such as 'bloke', 'loo', or call a friend 'mate', they would roar with laughter, gasp in horror, or probably both. But those three examples mentioned above are actually British words I can't bring myself to say, along with loo, naff, cheers or ta for thanks, or quid, to name a few. It's not that I have a problem with these words, it's merely that I don't think I can pull them off. I feel like either I'd burst out laughing while saying (or attempting to say) the word, or else the person I was talking to burst out laughing. Probably both.

It's inevitable, though, that we will adopt some Britishisms while living here, and I have noticed when I return to America, people mistake me for being British (cue incredulous laughter from every Brit who has ever met me). In fact, on a plane to a writers' conference in Texas, a very Texan woman exclaimed, 'Oh, you're British!' I laughed and said that no, of course I wasn't, I didn't have a British accent! She gave me a sympathetic look and said, her own accent as thick as treacle (see how British that is?!), 'Bless your heart, honey, you do.'

I've mused more than once that since we are settled here permanently, my children will most likely marry British people (assuming they marry) and have children who will sound QUITE British, because I've noticed that children with one American parent and one British parent living in Britain--guess what? They sound completely British. So eventually I will have grandchildren who will shrug their shoulders, roll their eyes, and say something like, 'Oh yeah, my mum's parents are from America and we have some cousins over there but, you know, whatever.' Or something like that. And then, perhaps, we will seem awkwardly American.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Fabulous contest to win 22 books!!

I'm so excited to be part of bestselling author Susan Mallery's Christmas contest. All you have to do to enter is go to the contest page on Susan's website here . It's under the Members tab and you can join for free.

It's a great opportunity to try a whole load of new authors, so please do enter. And in the meantime, stay warm! It's cold and frosty here. I'll be back tomorrow with some photos from my wintry walk :)

Monday, November 7, 2016

What I'm Reading and Writing

A few years ago I read Ann Voskamp's excellent and inspiring book, 1000 Gifts. It really challenged me to be thankful for the small and everyday things in my life, and I recommended it to many people. I was thrilled, therefore, to see that she'd written another book--and one that seemed to speak directly into my life. It's called The Broken Way and its subtitle is 'A Daring Path to the Abundant Life'. The essential theme is that we need to be emptied to be filled, we need to give to receive, we need to lose ourselves in order to be found. It's thought-provoking and poetic--Ann Voskamp's style takes some getting used to, as it is more stream of consciousness than straight narrative. But I'd highly recommend this book!

As for what I'm writing... well, I've already written it, but the second book in my Willoughby Close series is available for preorder. It's called Meet Me At Willoughby Close and it's about a Manchester single mum and an Oxford professor and their unlikely, funny, and heartwarming romance. You can preorder it here.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Holiday to the Highlands

This last week was school half-term and so the eight of us (my mum included) and our dog headed off to the Scottish Highlands. It was a trip down memory lane as well as up north,  as my mother organized a three week trip to the Highlands when I was thirteen. I have loads of great memories from that trip, and I wanted to recreate a bit of it for my mum, especially after my dad's death last year.

So we packed up and drove to Benderloch, a tiny hamlet outside of Oban, where we had a self-catering cottage.

We climbed the gentle but beautiful Ben Lora, took walks around the loch,

and then headed to Ardnamurchan, the westernmost point in the United Kingdom, to visit Mingary Castle, my family's home about two hundred years ago.

View on the way to Ardnamurchan
Sunlight gilding the mountains

Loch on the way to Benderloch

The trip to Ardnamurchan was gorgeous but slightly harrowing--thirty miles of single track road winding through barren mountains. I felt as if we were traveling to the end of the earth!

The next day we went to Glencoe and learned all about the massacre and then the next day went to Fort William and enjoyed several hours at the West Highlands Museum before taking a gondola up the Nevis Range (the youngest and oldest in our party were not up to a hike--well, in all honesty, none of us were!)

It was a lovely trip, and one I'm really glad we were able to take with my mum.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday's Bake: Personalized Chocolate Chip Cookies

As a mother of five I have made A LOT of chocolate chip cookies. They're the go-to cookie in our house, the after school staple, as well as the usual thing I bake for my husband's weekly visits to school boarding houses. I started with the recipe on the back of the bag of Tollhouse chocolate chips--most people probably know it. But the more cookies I made, the more I tweaked it just a little to fit my own preferences. So today I'm sharing what is essentially a standard recipe... tweaked!

Here it is:

1 cup (2 American sticks, or roughly 225 grams) of salted butter (lots of recipes call for unsalted butter, but I find unsalted butter makes everything taste disgusting. So.)

1/2 cup golden caster sugar (calls for white granulated--this is what I prefer)
1 cup light brown sugar (The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup of each sugar, but I prefer my cookies to have a slightly carmelly taste to offset the chocolate chips)

2 and 1/4 cup flour (I err on having slightly more flour than slightly less)
1 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt (I used to make the cookies without salt, but I do find they need the slightest edge of saltiness for flavour)

2 eggs
2 tsps vanilla (that's double the recommended vanilla--I like the taste!)

1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips (recommended 2 cups, but I prefer a bit less)

The Method:

Cream butter with sugars, add eggs and vanilla, and then add flour, salt, bicarb, and finally chips! Bake on an ungreased tray for 10 minutes in a 350/160 oven.

Simple, really, but I do find the little changes make a difference. What about you? Have you 'tweaked' a recipe in some way to suit your preferences? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Release Day of A Cotswold Christmas!

I'm excited that the release day of my novella, the start of a new series set in the beautiful Cotswolds, is today! To celebrate I'm hosting a mini-party on my Facebook page, with giveaways, recipes, excerpts, and more. You can find it here. And you can buy A Cotswold Christmas here.

As I wrote this book I found out I would be moving from the Cotswolds, and so it is extra-special and poignant to me, a bit of a homage to a beautiful place that I loved. And there are five more books set in the not-too-quaint village of Wychwood-on-Lea, so plenty of more scope to enjoy this corner of England.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sprinting through the Days

The last few days have been, for a reason I can't quite put my finger on, a little bit manic. Maybe it's all the harvest services I've had to attend--I definitely don't need to hear a rendition of 'Harvest Samba' again anytime soon. But if you feel like listening to it, you can here. I have listened to primary school children sing this song for 5 years. I'm kind of done with it.

The other day my twelve-year-old son asked me, quite seriously, 'What do you DO all day?' I'm sure many stay-at-home mums can relate to this question, and the desperate need to answer it with a laundry list (literally!) of all the things you do all day. Midway into my explanation of what I did--laundry, housework, errands, cooking, oh--and the full-time job writing I'm supposed to have--my son's expression glazed over. Actually, it was more like two seconds into my vehement description. Still I persevered. When I finished he came to, shook his head, and said, 'That sounds so boring.' Well, sort of, yes.

People these days are talking about mindfulness a lot, and I admit I roll my eyes a bit at the concept. And yet some days I get to bed and I feel like I've barely breathed. Every moment of the day has been relentlessly timetabled--and I don't even have that much to complain about, because my kids aren't in endless activities, I can work from home, and my husband's schedule is somewhat flexible. Yet it still feels BUSY.

I think we all tend towards busy-ness; in some ways it is easier to be busy and not have time than to be relaxed and 'in the moment'. Easier not to have to think about things too deeply or spare too much for impromptu conversations. I am trying to be less busy, or at least more flexible. Trying to look for opportunities to chat to neighbors or other parents at the school gate, to meet people's eyes in the street and smile. Little things, but I think they're important.

And meanwhile I am trying to get the Harvest Samba out of my head. Any tips?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monday Book: A Yorkshire Christmas

It's Monday, time to spotlight a book from my back list and today, with the frost on the grass and a nip in the air, I am picking my Christmas novella, A Yorkshire Christmas. I loved writing this story, and I also love the novella format. It's long enough to get pretty deep into the characters but it doesn't get messily sprawling or overwhelming. Of course, I'd love to visit Ayesgill Farm again, and I might have to write more stories set in this picturesque corner of Yorkshire (near where I once lived--is there ANYWHERE I haven't lived?! Well, yes, of course, but sometimes I feel like there isn't!!)

One funny fact about this novella is last year, a year after its release, it was given a new cover for the UK:

And this cover gave the book a new lease on life! It was in the top 100 at Amazon UK for several weeks, which just goes to show you may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but they do matter!

Here is the blurb: Wealthy New York City girl Claire Lindell isn’t looking for a Christmas miracle or happiness when she abruptly decides to hole up for the holiday at her godmother’s cottage in a little Yorkshire village, and lick her wounds from a near disastrous romantic decision.

After her car skids into a snow bank, Claire may have accidently found her perfect Christmas and the family and love she’s craved when she offers Noah Bradford of Ayesgill Farm help to push the back end of one of his sheep out of the icy mud, even if she’s going to ruin a brand new pair of Prada boots during the rescue.

What’s a little leather when love’s on the line?

And the link to buy it is here

Also my new Christmas novella, A Cotswold Christmas (do you sense a theme?) is out next week and the link to buy it is here


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wednesday's Bake: Streusel Coffee Cake

It's GBBO tonight, and as usual I'm celebrating with another bake--this one a family favourite for breakfast or brunch. UK readers, coffee cake in the US is not cake with coffee as an ingredient, but rather a morning cake to serve with coffee-delicious!


For topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 tsp cinnamon

(I tend to use a bit more sugar than flour)

For cake:

1 and 1/2 cups flour
2 and 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup sugar (I use golden caster)
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon (optional--if you want the cake to be cinnamon flavoured as well)
The Method:

For topping, cut butter into flour, sugar and cinnamon until crumbly.

For cake, mix flour and baking powder. Add sugar to butter and egg; add milk and vanilla the mix with flour. Spread batter in greased 8 or 9 in cake pan. Bake in a 160/325 oven for 30 minutes. Thanks to Southern Food for the recipe!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Monday's Book: This Fragile Life

Monday is the day on the blog when I highlight one of my past books, and today I decided to pick This Fragile Life, which was my first women's fiction published with Carina in 2013. I'm working on my third story for Carina, currently titled A Good Neighbour, and it's reminded me a little bit of This Fragile Life.

This Fragile Life is, I must confess, the book I am proudest of. It's also the book that is closest to my heart, and the one that was, perhaps surprisingly, the easiest to write. This book flowed from my fingertips--for the most part--and I never really questioned myself during the writing of it. Really, it was a joy to write, but heartbreaking too, because of the subject matter.

Here is the blurb:
You love your best friend.
You trust her with your life.
But could you give her the most precious gift of all?
Alex’s life is a mess. She’s barely holding down a job, only just affording her apartment, and can’t remember when she was last in a relationship. An unexpected pregnancy is the last thing she needs.
Martha’s life is on track. She’s got the highflying career, the gorgeous home and the loving husband. But one big thing is missing. Five rounds of IVF and still no baby.
The solution seems simple.
Alex knows that Martha can give her child everything that she can’t provide. But Martha’s world may not be as perfect as it seems, and letting go isn’t as easy as Alex expected it to be.
Now they face a decision that could shatter their friendship forever.

I've really enjoyed the reviews of this book, because I took a risk in not having a hint of a major plot point in the story blurb, so it would come as a surprise to the reader (and if you haven't read the book, hopefully I haven't spoiled anything for you!) I didn't want people to assume this is just another 'surrogacy story', because it isn't. And overall, the reviews have been positive about not revealing the surprise, so the reader is able to go on the same journey as the characters.

Now I am working on a similar story, in that it is set in New York City, has a dual narrative, and deals with some tricky and emotive issues--plus it has a 'twist' in the middle of the story. (I'm wary of using the word 'twist' because it seems overdone in fiction these days--so many books are advertised as having a twist you won't see coming, and so you spend the whole book looking for it).

Anyway, if you haven't read This Fragile Life, you can find information and all the buy links here.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Dog Walk

One of the lovely things about having a dog is when I'm stuck at a point in my story I can always go for a walk. The other day I needed to mull over some plot points of my latest book, all while enjoying the lovely scenery of Vauxhall Field:

Here is a shot of the Monnow River, which runs near our house:

And here is a view of the fields with the Monmouth town centre in the distance. You can see the spire of the priory church:

Walking in such lovely surroundings is always restorative, but unfortunately I am still stuck on my story! Maybe I need to take another walk...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday Bake: Raspberry Yogurt Muffins

Today's recipe is a breakfast staple in our household. A few years ago I started cooking family breakfasts on school mornings, as the alternative was everyone eating at different times and me not even being aware of when children were leaving the house. Now we all sit down at 7:45 to a (somewhat) cooked breakfast, such as this one:

We have a chance to chat, go over our days, and hopefully pray. This has been a great step forward in family life, however it has required me to amass a few more breakfast recipes! And so I discovered this one, which we have about once a week.


120g flour
100g cornmeal/polenta
100g caster sugar (I use golden caster)
2 tsp baking powder
225g vanilla yogurt
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup frozen raspberries

The Method:

Mix the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl or jug mix the wet ingredients, and add to the dry. Stir until moistened/mixed and then add berries. Put into a greased muffin tin (or use paper muffin cups) and bake at 180 for 12-15 minutes. Enjoy!

Really, this recipe is so easy--it takes me about 5-10 minutes to whip up, and I can pop them in the oven and have a quick shower while they're baking! I wasn't sure about the cornmeal and yogurt when I first made them, but actually those ingredients help to make the muffins moist and delicious!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday Book: The Vicar's Wife

Monday is Book Day on my blog, where I highlight a new or old release. Today, in honour of the new cover of my third Tales from Goswell series, The Second Bride, I thought I'd write about my first Tales of Goswell novel, The Vicar's Wife.

The Vicar's Wife in some ways feels like the first 'big book' I wrote. It isn't really; Far Horizons, Another Country, and Down Jasper Lane all were released in hardcover before I wrote it, and This Fragile Life came out at the same time. However, The Vicar's Wife was the first trade paperback I held in my hands, involved the first literary event in a bookshop I ever did, and was kind of a big deal as it came out when I was living in Cumbria, in the village Goswell is based on. The overwhelming support of my church and community still brings a smile to my face--there was a signup list in the church for copies. The local bookshop sold 200 copies in the first week.

The idea behind the book is of a woman who moves from New York City to rural Cumbria--exactly the move I made. In the book, however, the heroine Jane Hatton dislikes Cumbria; I loved it. She finds a shopping list from the 1930s stuck behind a pantry shelf--I only wish I did! And she discovers more about the vicar's wife of the title, Alice James, who lived in the 1930s and is entirely a product of my imagination.

Three years on from the release of The Vicar's Wife, I am working on the copy edits of the third book, and planning the fourth. I love this series even more now that I've sadly moved on from Cumbria. It always brings me back to the place I love, and the people who gave me such an amazing and unstinting welcome.

You can learn more about The Vicar's Wife and The Tales from Goswell series here.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Bigger Village

After spending 4 years in a small, remote village, it has been interesting and actually rather pleasant to explore the benefits of a market town. Monmouth, the town where I live now, has a population of about 9,000 people as opposed to the Cumbrian village of St Bees where I used to live, which has a population of two thousand. It's amazing how much difference 7,000 people make! St Bees has four pubs, a restaurant, a village post office shop, a small library, and a café. Monmouth has a high street with dozens of shops, including several high street chains, coffee shops, and independent boutiques. It has a cinema, a theatre, several doctors' surgeries, a museum, a large library, a weekly market, a town hall...

Church Street in Monmouth

Well, I could go on and on but I won't. You get the picture! The funny thing is, Monmouth sometimes feels as much of a village as St Bees did. I generally see at least one person I know when I go into town, which is especially amazing considering how few people I know so far. I can walk into the countryside in less than ten minutes, which is especially handy when you have a dog.

Vauxhall Fields with a view of Monmouth

Of course there are some downsides. At night the town centre can feel... not dangerous, precisely, but less than savoury on occasion. There is traffic and traffic noise. And while I see people I know, there are a lot of people I don't know. You generally don't greet people you don't know on the street, something that was commonplace in St Bees (My husband seems yet to realize this). All in all, though, the size of a market town feels nice to me. Busy but not too busy. Neither too small nor too big. We'll see how I continue to adjust...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday Bake: Banana Muffins with Orange Icing

In honour of The Great British Bakeoff, which is a firm favourite TV show in our house, I thought I'd make Wednesday Baking Day on my blog. I love baking, but I have to admit I'm nowhere near Bakeoff standards! Most of my bakes tend to be fairly delicious but rather messy looking. Royal icing and piecrust both defeat me. However I do manage to bake several times a week, usually for my children (and me!) or the boarding houses of the school where my husband works. Today's bake is Banana Muffins with Orange Icing, a great way to use up those browning bananas children refuse to touch! I made these yesterday and my children were a bit dubious--banana is not chocolate, after all. But they tried them and suffice it to say, they're all gone today.


1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup caster sugar (I use golden)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (I use a few drops more because I love vanilla)
1 cup mashed ripe bananas ( about 3 good-sized ones)
1 tsp grated orange rind (I usually miss this out--too much faff)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup buttermilk (I mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice and top up to 1/2 cup with milk, leave for 5 mins)

For the orange icing:

1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp plain yogurt (I leave this out if I don't have it in the fridge)
1-2 tsps orange juice


Cream butter and sugar and then add eggs, vanilla, bananas, and orange rind if using. Mix flour, baking powder and soda and beat into egg mixture alternately with buttermilk.

Spray muffin pan with nonstick sunflower oil spray or otherwise grease or use paper muffin cups. Bake in 180 oven for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly and then pour icing over the tops of muffins. Makes about 15 nice-sized muffins.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Doing Good

Last night at church our sermon was on the verse from Titus, "be ready to do whatever is good". The minister talked about volunteering even when you don't feel like it, looking out for opportunities to encourage, etc, but I must admit I felt a little bit flummoxed. My own life, especially in a new place where I don't know many people at all, feels as if it is very few opportunities to do good, at least outside my family. My average weekday has me ferrying children to and fro, making meals, doing laundry, and writing. My only interactions are the chitchat on the school run (and even that is limited--today it was raining, and I drove) and the occasional conversation in a shop or the library that rarely rises above the banal. Admittedly I am hoping this will change when I meet a few more people, whenever that happens. But how to do good in my wider community? How to make a difference?

That got me thinking about writing, and whether the stories I tell are 'doing good'. I like to think so, although part of me doubts whether one of my frothy romances really does much good in this world! But I have received emails and letters from readers who have been touched by my stories and in some cases encouraged to think deeply about certain issues, and for that I am grateful.

I suppose every one of us has to consider what good we are doing in the world. Our tendency is to default to ourselves--look at any two year old hoarding her toys--but we also desire to do good, to make a positive difference, in part, I think, because it makes us feel good. My children started to experience this when they began picking out presents for their siblings at Christmas. They were all far more excited to give than to receive. My husband and I continue to try to show them ways to serve rather than be served, but in all honesty it is increasingly hard in this self-sufficient world where people hoard their privacy and hide behind electronic devices. Still, we need to try.

So here I am on a rainy Monday morning, sitting at my kitchen table wondering how to make a difference in this world. I guess it's time to start writing!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Inspiration all around

Our moving truck in New York City

For those of you who follow my admittedly sporadic blog, you have probably noticed that my family moves a lot. We always hope we'll settle where we land, but so far that hasn't happened. Since I got married I've moved from Cambridge to Yorkshire to Connecticut to New York City to Cumbria to the Cotswolds to Wales. Whew!

Starting over isn't easy, even when you're used to it. My children have all been in school a week and that feels like a relief. They are starting to know their way around and have made a few friends. The worst, I hope, is over.

One nice thing about living in lots of places is the inspiration I've found in each one. Most of my books are set in places I've lived, whether it's my women's fiction such as This Fragile Life (set in New York), my Tales From Goswell series (set in Cumbria) or one of my Christmas novellas such as A Yorkshire Christmas (set--well I'm sure you can guess).

Next month I have a new series coming out set in the English Cotswolds. I only lived there for a year but I was inspired to write about the beautiful village and countryside where I lived, as well as the interesting mix of people--London transplants and old farming families, and how they all managed to get along. A Cotswold Christmas is the first book in what is The Willoughby Close series, set in the entirely-fictional-but-a-little-bit-based-on-reality village, Wychwood-on-Lea. You can preorder it here.

In the meantime, I am trying to get to know my new surroundings, a small, friendly market town in Wales, built between two rivers, with beautiful, hilly countryside all around. Will I become inspired? Watch this space...

Friday, August 5, 2016

We've landed!

Another year, another move. Hopefully I won't be writing that again anytime soon! We've landed in Wales, unpacked most of our boxes, and are settling into small market town life, which definitely has its upsides--walking to town for coffee or a fresh baguette from the bakery--or even the cinema! Monmouth has a surprising amount of amenities :)

The River Wye is another draw, which is right on our doorstep. The other day I took our dog for an exploratory walk along the river path:

It's been fun exploring our new neighborhood although I am looking forward to starting school and things and getting to know people. Moving to a new place can feel a bit like being a ghost--you're walking around but no one is really quite seeing you.

In the meantime I am trying to keep writing! I have a giveaway on Amazon for Now and Then Friends which you can enter here:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Downside of Village Life?

So a lot of my blog posts have been about the golden positives of village life--the sense of community, the quaintness, the pleasant feeling that you are living in an Agatha Christie adaptation--but hopefully not as the murder victim! I love all the villagey things--school and church fetes, neighbors who know you, allottment and post office shops (one per village only, of course!) and a milkman who chats to you on a regular basis.

However village life isn't one long rosy montage of those moments. There can be some downsides--and one of them is a tendency towards gossip. Gossip, or crack, as the Cumbrians call it, is an important issue in my new Hartley-by-the-Sea book, Now and Then Friends.

It's hard to avoid gossip when living in a small place. Much of it is harmless, a lot of it well meaning, but some... not so much. Even the well-meaning gossip can be a bit disconcerting. A few weeks into our village life in Cumbria a complete stranger stopped me in the street and asked me if my two-year-old daughter was sleeping better. Stunned, I stammered a reply, only to realize as we continued the conversation that the woman was the anonymous stranger who had left two gorgeous crocheted blankets on our doorstep without even a note--her way of welcoming us into the village. She called them her 'magic sleep' blankets.

But of course there is a nasty side to gossip, and while I haven't experienced it personally (at least not that I know of!!), I know it exists. The inevitable twitch of the net curtains, the meaningful look, the whispered word... It's hard not to get paranoid sometimes.

On the flip side, it can be hard not to be drawn into gossip. More than once I've been standing in the schoolyard happily chatting with other mums when suddenly someone who is not present is getting skewered, usually under the guise of false sympathy and a lot of sorrowful head-shaking. It takes some will power to stay silent or better yet, walk away.

Ultimately though, for me the positives win out, and they do in Now and Then Friends as well. You can learn more about the book or buy a copy here

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

It's been awhile...

So if you've followed this blog at all, you'll see it's been quite awhile since I've last written, and that's because life started avalanching, for want of a better word!

In November my father became very ill with leukemia (he'd been diagnosed in April and then gone into a wonderful but brief remission) and he died on December 23rd--something that still feels surreal to write. The six months after his death have been a bit of a blur of keeping life going with five children, writing deadlines, and helping my mother to sort out her life in the aftermath.

Things got even trickier in March, and a variety of difficult events led my husband to resigning his job, finding another one, and us upping sticks in a few weeks to move to Monmouth, Wales. So our village life will become our market town life, after only one year of experiencing the ritzy version of village life in the Cotswolds! For a year I exchanged the wild coast of Cumbria for the gentle, rolling hills of Oxfordshire--and charity shops and chintzy tea rooms for organic farm shops and lots of Barbour! In our short time here I've met loads of friendly people, and after 11 months have just reached the point of feeling settled--no matter what anyone says, it always seems to take a year. But now we're off again to the wilds of Wales (although only a mile from the English border!)

In the meantime, life soldiers on, as it must. The dog must be walked, dishes must be washed, and books must be written. Now and Then Friends, my second book in the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, is out next week. You can learn about it here 

And meanwhile I will try to update this blog more often, and let you know about our progress in Wales!