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I can’t actually remember a time before Ernie, it feels like I knew him forever and then one day he wasn’t there…

Ernie started school at the same time as the twins and he immediately stood out with his cheeky grin, effusive manner and sparkling personality. He was just one of those kids you noticed more than any of the others. It wasn’t that he was naughty although I do suspect that there was always high jinks when he was about.  It wasn’t that he was the tallest, shortest, thinnest or fattest. He was just Ernie and he was different. He lit up the room with his giggle and people swarmed around him like butterflies to nectar. 

There was always small bits of that worst torture implement known to a parent hidden in his pockets, down his socks, up his jumper – Lego. Have you ever stood on the stuff? It’s like standing on an upended plug and I’ve stood on a fair few of those over the years. He’d squirrel away the best pieces, little figures he’d made, only to produce at will in the school ground much to the amusement of his friends and to the horror of all of the adults. You never took your shoes off anywhere near Ernie…

Each summer we used to bump into Ernie, Joe and Claire in Herm, a magical place  for long, lazy summer days where the sun is hotter and the sea the coldest thing known to man – He’d usually be hanging around one of the shops – they sell Lego in Herm. thank goodness they also sell shoes!


There’s a quote, I don’t know by whom. ‘The brightest stars burn the quickest’, and so it was with Ernie. When his star fell he’d taken every opportunity and had lived a life longer in his short years than most of his peers. In truth, he’d probably done better than most adults. But that’s not the point…

I’ll always remember Ernie and with the creation of Ernie’s Angels other families will benefit from his short flame searing its mark across Guernsey’s skies.

GRANNY’s GONE AWOL IN GUERNSEY came to fruition in December with some messages flying up and down the M4 between Claire and me (I was visiting family in Wales). One feels so helpless but if me scribbling some word can help then so be it. 

GRANNY’S GONE AWOL IN GUERNSEY is available to pre-order on Amazon here. It is book two in a series but Amazon have kindly agreed to make BOY BRAINY, the prequel, permanently free here

There will also be a paperback coming of the book in addition to a very special edition with drawings – needless to say they won’t be by me but by a very talented local artist (more on that soon), All profits to Ernie’s charity. 

Jen x

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The Pact, S E Lynes

You made a promise to your sister. It could destroy your daughter.The Daughter 15-year-old Rosie lies in hospital fighting for her life. She’s trying to tell her mother what happened to her, but she can’t speak the words out loud. 

The Mother:  Toni is a doting and over-protective mother, terrified for her daughter’s life. Having lost her husband in a tragic accident, Toni has dedicated her life to keeping Rosie safe from harm. She needs to know what secrets Rosie has been keeping, and how she ended up in a hospital bed – but Toni has a secret of her own…

The Pact: Thirty years ago, Toni and her sister Bridget made each other a promise: never to speak of their childhood; to protect each other without asking for help from others, no matter what…

But in order to save Rosie, Toni may have to break her lifelong promise to her sister… and open doors to her past she hoped would remain closed forever. 

My review

This is the first book I’ve read by this author so I really didn’t know what to expect. Written from 3 different perspectives the writer immediately demonstrates her skill in providing each character a unique voice. There is a fourth voice here too but to tell you more about that would spoil it. 

Toni and Bridget have made a sacred promise, one that is their undoing because when Toni’s daughter gets herself into hot water there is little they can do except perhaps try and solve the mystery themselves. 

Rosie, a shy over-protected 15 year old is desperate for a male role model in her life and when she meets what she thinks is the ideal boy online she falls head first, at least over the airwaves, for what first appears to be the most amazing bloke imaginable. He’s everything she’s always hoped for and there is no way her mother is going to stop her from meeting him because she’s not going to tell her. 

A scary story overall because at its heart it contains every parent’s worst nightmare. How can a parent protect a child when they don’t know what’s going on in their life? Fast paced and enjoyable I read this in one sitting. 

Available from Amazon on pre-order here 


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One Summer in Rome, Samantha Tonge

Book blurb

Mary Smith is turning her very ordinary life upside-down! She’s bought herself a one-way ticket to Rome and is ready for a summer she’ll never forget.Men might be off the cards for waitress Mary, but within hours of arriving at the utterly charming family-run La Dolce Vita pizzeria, she’s already fallen in love with the bustling capital!

Only Dante Rossi, the mysterious (and drop-dead gorgeous) chef seems displeased with her arrival. And in the heat of the kitchen, it doesn’t take long for long-buried secrets to surface and sparks to fly…

My review

When I heard Sam had a new book out I was first in the queue. There’s just something about her writing that whether it’s set in Greece,  Rome or some other distant land she drags you, kicking and screaming, from the comfort of your own sofa and into another far flung location. There’s an awareness of all things cultural and an ability to set a scene that is Sam’s trademark. Match that with strong characters and quirky plots and you have a best seller…

Mary Smith is thrown out of her comfort zone and into Rome, more particularly as a waitress at a little pizza restaurant set in the most adorable Italian square. She meets the owner and other restaurant workers but is intrigued by the surly, uncommunicative but sexy as hell Dante. But he’s hiding a secret that could change everything. Not only that but, with the season about to launch and restaurant critics about to appear, there is a chance that their little slice of ‘the good life’ is going to prove unequal to the newer, brighter pizzerias. 

Bloody wonderful


Pre-order here or, if you’re a book reviewer it’s also on NetGalley 

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Valentine’s post

A funny thing happened to me in the supermarket… Yes, really! I was there with my 4 red chocolate roses when I had to explain myself to the man at the check-out as to why there were four – for my 4 boyfriends perhaps? Cheeky so and so but it did make me chuckle. I’d just had the shift from hell and looked as bad as I felt but, in this post-Weinstein world, there is room, I feel, for a little romantic humour; certainly in my life there is. 

I’m on nights next week so Valentine’s will pass me by in a sleep deprived fugue but I’ll probably still arrange something mad. There probably won’t be flowers, chocolates or cards bought but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about making a little extra time to do something special. 

To celebrate here’s a little treat. I try not to plague the world with free books. They are hard enough to write without giving them away but every so often I’ll pop one up for free, only for one day and only one book so if you haven’t read ENGLISHWOMAN IN PARIS now’s your chance 😂. It’s the second book in my ENGLISHWOMAN 5 book series, the prequel short story, ENGLISHMAN IN BLACKPOOL, is perma-free and the rest…? All really expensive at 99p… x

BTW there are 4 people in my life that deserve chocolate roses, only because they have to put up with me, and that’s hubby and the three kids. If the cats were allowed I’d have bought six 😂

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The tattooist of Auschwitz: Heather Morris 

Book blurb

I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart.In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too.So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.
My review,

I’m an emotional coward with regards to my reading or, is it just I’m a coward? Whatever the reason I tend to avoid books that I know will upset me. The boy in the striped pyjamas will forever be just that; just a boy and never a book I’ll read; or a movie I’ll ever watch. However another book, ‘I am David’, is my favourite book of all time. It’s also about a boy, a boy in a  war torn world. A boy with a happy ending.

So why did I pick this up? I think it held echoes of another favourite of mine, a book with a girl called Lara. (Dr Zhivago). And that’s what I feel is part of this book’s magic. It weaves wisps from the past into something unique, something wonderful, something memorable. This isn’t a quick read. This isn’t a book you’ll fly through only to relegate to the mists of time. This is a book that will linger because it holds both dreams and tragedy within its pages. A book better than the sum of its parts because at its centre are the horrors that we can’t bear to think about and yet we must if we’re ever to grow as a society. Magnificent. 

Available here 

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How to self-publish: Active v Passive Voice 

This used to confuse me until I sat down and worked it out. The one thing I found the hardest was why we, as writers are being dictated to as to the best way to write. But it makes such a difference. Just look at these two sentences and the position of the subject in relation to the verb. 

I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty about verbs and subjects. Let’s just say that if the subject acts on the verb it’s active as in Jane singing. 

And the most important of all? 


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How to Self Publish: Part Two – Editing (redundant words)


‘Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very…’ Mark Twain

‘I spent all morning taking out a comma and all afternoon putting it back.’ Oscar Wilde


Editing is a veritable minefield. a foreign land to writers but one they have to negotiate all the same. Whether you’re thinking of Traditional or Indie as a route for presenting your work to the reader (You, potential agents, future fans) the following applies. As it’s such a large area i’m going to break this section down. I’ll start with redundant words.

What are redundant (or over-used) words?


Words that may not be necessary to your work and, in fact, words that might hinder the reader’s enjoyment.

Look at these two sentences. they’re nearly the same but which is smoother?


This list isn’t exhaustive and will change from writer to writer. Know your own personal word demons by taking time to notice which words you repeat. There are programmes that can help you but even by just reading aloud you’ll be able to pick up some of them.

Next time: Passive voice


How to self-publish. Series links

Episode one: Writing tips and tricks

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How to self publish: Episode One

New year.

No New Year resolutions but a plan to blog more. It won’t last but while it does here goes…

How to self publish.

It’s never been both easier and harder to be an Indie. Let’s get cracking…


Episode One

  1. Write a book. Okay, I make that sound easy but, in truth, it’s not that difficult. There are a raft or people, groups of people, books and courses both online and face-to-face eager to help. The most important thing here is you producing the best words you can.

Whilst these blog posts are all going to be about self-publishing I’m going to start by kicking it off with some tips and tricks on writing. These are strategies I use in my own books. Tricks and tips I’ve learnt along the way from all over the place. No matter what book you read, or which famous best-selling writer you listen to, the same fact has proven true time after time. The best books break the rules but there are some givens. I’ll start with the best piece of advice ever.

Key Tip (1) Start late, leave early.

I don’t know where I heard this first. I’ve heard it many times. Start your book, your chapter in the middle of something. Draw your reader in so they forget everything. Nothing should exist for them except the words on the page. Leave early at the end of a chapter. Make the reader want to carry on with the next part of the story. PTQ (Page Turning Quality)

Key Tip (2) Start your book with a hook.

It’s not good enough to start with a sunrise or someone lying in bed thinking (please don’t contact me with those best sellers that start that way, they are examples, only that). You have 10 seconds or less to hook your reader (for reader substitute Agent, publisher) after that they are going to delete the extract. No, they are going to delete you.

Key Tip (3) The most important key on your computer is the delete one.

Write carefully, edit freely. Most books (adult) are between 50,000 (category romances) to 120,000. You’re writing a book, not a doorstop. How many words are needed to tell your tale? What is the length of comparable novels available? Do your research.

Key Tip (4) Don’t hate the adverb, it has its place.

A book without any (there are some) is a book missing a trick.

‘Show not tell’. How I hate that phrase because, to the new writer it is meaningless drivel. What the hell does it mean anyway? I think in the broadest sense it means that new writers, and not just new ones, are at risk of not using the English language to its fullest capacity. The second most important key on the writer’s computer is the thesaurus. By changing just one word in a sentence you can make half the words obsolete and end up with something amazing. I’d prefer to read a shorter book over a longer one, a book in which the writer has prioritized his word choice over his word count.  I repeat; this is not a post on how to write. Google ‘show not tell’ and ‘adverb use in writing’ for more.

Key Tip (5) Read. Read as much as you can and cross genre.

One famous writer said recently he writes one book a year and reads 300 (it wasn’t me but it could have been).

Next post: Editing. Can you edit your own work. Tips and tricks. Why I now employ an editor.




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My 2017 in pictures

As a writer sometimes, just sometimes, I think that pictures tell more of a story so this year instead of the yearly round up I’m going to share some photos.

I’ll start with books. I haven’t read so many new authors this year as I’ve been ploughing through my own writing journey but there have been reading highlights. Funnily enough these two books are both set in France.

Talking of France leads to holidays and we were lucky to spend part of the summer along the West coast.

We were also lucky enough to nip across to Herm, something we weren’t able to do the year before. How I love this little piece of paradise.

September to November, the dark days of that first term back at school, also heralded months of hard slog what with hubby being temporarily out of action and GCSE prep. I managed to consolidate my writing and took the hit by employing an editor.

There were new books in 2017 and short stories from my pen. Still no agent on the horizon but, in truth, I haven’t tried too hard to shift the status quo. Writing has to be fun and when it’s not, I’ll stop.

December, and year’s end, meant a trip to Wales to see family. We went to the panto in Llandudno and had a couple of lovely days out in both Liverpool and Betws-y-Coed.

Sea swimming, all year round, continues to brighten up the weekends and keep the brain cells sharp and will sontinue into the New Year.

And 2018? A friend asked me a few weeks ago when the follow up to Boy Brainy was coming out. It wasn’t! I had half a story written ages ago but no enthusiasm to finish it. So I’ve picked it up again, changed it from Ireland to Guernsey and am well on the way to finishing it. It’s been a personal challenge to write a book set in my four favourite places – Ireland, Wales, France and Guernsey. And the glue that binds? A Sixth Century monk called St Tugual. There’s also a thriller I’m working on as I shift genre yet again but writing is a fluid process and it’s time for me to move on yet again.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2018. I don’t make resolutions but if I did I’d break them all. No regrets…

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Guernsey writers: The Devil’s Claw

Guernsey, for all its past history as an occupied Island during WW2 and it’s more recent one as a financial hub, is also a place for writers. It’s also part of a Bailiwick so it does include the islands of Alderney, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Sark.

A quick Google search via Wiki comes up with this, an interest list. We’ve all heard of Victor Hugo, scribbling away in his Hauteville Garret with views over Castle Cornet. I never met him 😆 but I actually once met a man who knew someone that did… Two others on the list I know well, one actually lives in the same retirement home as a relative. I also had the pleasure of meeting George Torode in person, a raconteur of unprecedented proportions. If you ever come across any of his Donkey books snap them up (a different George to the chef)

But the list isn’t complete…

it includes Guernsey expats as Victor sure wasn’t local…

Where is Elizabeth Goodge and Green Dolphin Country? A fantastic writer, The White Witch still features in my best top ten reads ever.

Where is Betty Neels? Betty who? Okay so I know you’ve never heard of her but just how many writers are mentioned in their readers obituaries? I know it’s morbid but that’s just how much this writer and her books meant to so many people. Betty’s gentle romances, often set in Holland but also set in Guernsey, have been enjoyed and are still being enjoyed and talked about today.

Where is Elizabeth Bereaford? The creator of The Wombles or indeed…where is fellow expat Alderney writer, Rachel Abbott? She’s just signed a two book deal with Headline. There’s also another debut, Jill Watson missing…Alderney doesn’t even appear on Wiki as a writer hub mmm…

What about Mary Ann Schaffer and That Book? Mary wasn’t local. She only stopped off here on a cruise and yet her book has endeared Guernsey to many of her readers.

And of course I’m not there😂…

And then there’s Lara Dearman…

Lara is local but now lives in New York. Her debut novel, The Devil’s Claw is set in Guernsey and is one hell of a thriller.

Book Blurb

Following a traumatic incident in London, Jennifer Dorey has returned to her childhood home in Guernsey, taking a job as a reporter at the local newspaper.

After the discovery of a drowned woman on a beach, she uncovers a pattern of similar deaths that have taken place over the past fifty years.
Together with DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, they follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to ‘Fritz’, the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier. His work, painstakingly executed, has so far gone undetected.But with his identity about to be uncovered, the killer now has Jennifer in his sights.
My review,

Well I’m not sure I’ll be visiting The Fairy Ring anytime soon, a little piece of Guernsey history entrappped in folklore. A ring of stones facing Hanois Lighthouse. No one knows exactly how they got there but thousands of island children have stepped around them or tried to – I’ve always fallen off. Now all I see is dead bodies…

it’s actually strange reading a book set so close to home. I walk these streets. I’ve even got the same name as the lead character and I know the Doreys (a well known local name). This is a well-written debut set in an amazing location and full of snippets of local life. Having the lead as a reporter for the local press was genius as any ‘Guern’ will know of our small Island ramblings and political arguments.

It’s always difficult for a new author to make their mark but Lara has done just that. I wish her well and hope to meet up in person when she next visits.

The Devils Claw, published by Trapeze, is available from Amazon here