How was it for you?


This blog has been a bit quiet recently, but there’s a reason for that. Along with countless others, I emerged from National Novel Writing Month on 30th November, having just about snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. I hit the requisite 50K words on 25th November, but I’m still feeling a bit shell-shocked.Continue reading “How was it for you?”

Letters from Elsewhere: Rachel Swift

Rachel Swift, one of my characters from The House at Zaronza appears on Miriam Drori’s blog today, in her Letters from Elsewhere series, with a letter to the main character in the book, Maria Orsini, whom she never met.

Miriam Drori, Author

Letters from ElsewhereToday, you’re invited to meet Rachel Swift, who tops and tails The House at Zaronza by Vanessa Couchman, another great Crooked Cat read. Here is her letter to Maria Orsini, whom she never met but who had a great influence on the lives of Rachel’s family.

Dear Maria,

Rugged Corsican landscapeYou died long before I was born and I really wish I had had the chance to meet you.

I came to Corsica wanting to find out more about my ancestors. This was my first visit and, as soon as the plane touched down, I had a sense of coming home. Somehow, the rugged but magnificent landscape and the perched villages seemed familiar. And that scent of aromatic herbs from the mountain scrub they call the maquis was almost intoxicating.

My search led me to the beautiful village of Zaronza, where I stayed in the house you once lived in. I discovered that…

View original post 496 more words

Revisiting Inspiration on Corsica


Special Corsican village
Special Corsican village

Should you go back to places that have a special significance in your memory, or where you have found inspiration? It can turn out to be disappointing. They might have changed beyond recognition, or the magic you experienced might simply have dissipated.

So, it was with some misgivings that I recently revisited the Corsican village where I found the inspiration for my novel House at Zaronza. But something rather exciting happened while we were there.Continue reading “Revisiting Inspiration on Corsica”

NaNo or NoNo? How to Survive National Novel Writing Month

Nano logo

Is it that time of year again? Well not quite, but it comes upon you before you know it. Having spent the past few months on paid work, my fiction-typing fingers are tingling and the ideas are flowing. I need space to write and I can’t do it with clients and deadlines snapping at my heels.

But now the next deadline is looming – National Novel Writing Month (NaNo for short). A recent, and timely, conversation in a Facebook group made me think about it.Continue reading “NaNo or NoNo? How to Survive National Novel Writing Month”

My Biggest Lesson on my Book’s First Birthday

Front cover final


Where does it go? Time, I mean. It’s not so long ago that I was slaving over a hot computer to write The House at Zaronza (actually, it will be three years in November). And surely it’s only yesterday that it was published? No, today it’s my novel’s first birthday. Now it enters the terrible twos.Continue reading “My Biggest Lesson on my Book’s First Birthday”


I’m posting on Jane Bwye’s blog today about where you can find inspiration as a writer.

Jane Bwye

I am honoured to welcome Vanessa Couchman to my AUTHOR COUNTDOWN today. A freelance writer and author based in France, she runs a copywrighting business, and is often asked the question: Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration is the magic key that opens the door to the world of imagination. It’s no good having all the technical writing skills at your fingertips if the “I” word is absent. And sitting in front of a blank screen or a virgin sheet of paper isn’t likely to conjure it up.


Much of my fiction is historical. I write the occasional short story set in the present day, but I am increasingly drawn to writing stories set in the past. I am fascinated by how people lived, what they felt and thought and how they experienced their culture and society. So I find much of my inspiration in real historical events or people. Here are seven other things…

View original post 343 more words

On the Chaise Longue with Vanessa: Meet Author Tim Taylor

Author Tim Taylor
Author Tim Taylor

On the Chaise Longue with Vanessa: Meet Author Tim Taylor

My latest victim guest on the chaise longue is author Tim Taylor. We share some things in common: a first degree at Oxford University followed by a career in the public services (although I worked in book publishing in between). We also have publication by Crooked Cat Publishing in common. Tim is a versatile author who can step seamlessly between periods of history. He tells us today how he came to write and about the genesis of his latest novel, Revolution Day.

Continue reading “On the Chaise Longue with Vanessa: Meet Author Tim Taylor”

On the Chaise Longue with Vanessa: Meet Author Sue Barnard

On the Chaise Longue with Vanessa: Meet Author Sue Barnard

Author Sue Barnard
Author Sue Barnard

I’m very pleased to welcome back my friend and fellow Crooked Cat author Sue Barnard – who is also my editor! She is a lady of many talents and has a range of short stories, poems and three published novels to her credit. She wrote a great guest post for me a while ago about the role of the editor. Now, let’s hear a bit more about her writing and, in particular, her latest novel, The Unkindest Cut of All

Continue reading “On the Chaise Longue with Vanessa: Meet Author Sue Barnard”

Relatively Speaking…

Relatively Speaking…

Front cover final 2 

I loathe promoting myself and always have done. I was brought up not to boast, not to push myself forward and never to ask for things for myself. Not a good training for an author these days, eh? With gritted teeth, I have launched myself on social media and, while I do enjoy blogging, I find Twitter and Facebook difficult to get to grips with, although strangely addictive. But I have a secret weapon…Continue reading “Relatively Speaking…”

On the Chaise Longue with Vanessa: Meet Author Nancy Jardine @nansjar

Author Nancy Jardine
Author Nancy Jardine

Joining me today is a lovely lady whom I had the pleasure of meeting at last year’s Crooked Cat author bash. Nancy Jardine is a prolific author who squeezes more out of each day than anyone else I know. She wrote a great guest post for me about using photos and I’m delighted to welcome her back for a session on the chaise longue.Continue reading “On the Chaise Longue with Vanessa: Meet Author Nancy Jardine @nansjar”