April 1, 2020

This blog is not what I expected it would be. I thought I’d be describing my lovely book launch, all the friends that came to support me, the flowers, the penguin-themed cupcakes, the song I wrote about penguins and how nervous I felt about everything but how glad I was I’d done it… Then I would go on to enumerate the many author talks I had lined up in libraries and the literary festivals where I was to be a speaker and teacher. Not forgetting of course, all the harp gigs, many of them in Care Homes. I was going to be very victorious and very, very busy.

Not so. Because, like everyone else, I am self-isolating and the full diary is now only full of crossings-out. Coronavirus - Grrr!

Fact: I’m one of the lucky ones. I live in a magic...

March 1, 2020

“You have to wait for the well to fill again,” I was advised recently by a fellow author. I’d just been complaining that I didn’t seem to be managing much writing at the moment. In fact the only writing done by me so far this year was song-writing. Pretty pathetic, heh? Call myself an author? Aren’t we always told that authors are supposed to write every single day?

But the inspiration wasn’t there and, strangely enough, beating myself up wasn’t helping in the least. I know you are meant to just start writing any old thing and the ideas are then supposed to come. I’d tried that. They didn't. Writers' block? No. Just plain exhaustion. I realise now what a herculean effort I made get book 2 finished and then the minute it was done the...

February 1, 2020

I welcome February with enthusiastic, wide open arms. It’s the month of snowdrops and I’m slightly obsessed with snowdrops… and the days are getting longer, which has to be good for things like cheerfulness and hope.

There were two gigs at either end of January and one very important weekend in the middle. I teach harp (my students range in age from 8 to 90) but this was an opportunity to be a student myself again – how lovely! I was one of a large harp group at Halsway Manor, learning by ear several pieces none of us had ever heard before.

A great time in beautiful surroundings, and a challenge not so much for the fingers but certainly for the memory…

This was a pointer for me. I have memorised so many pieces now that I think my bra...

January 1, 2020

The portal of a new decade, and my thoughts are a whirl. I do have an excuse, though: 16 harp performances in the lead-up to Christmas, each with individual challenges and demands. Several weeks-worth of practice with singing and pedal loop all slid down the drain because of a nasty virus which deprived me of my voice. Plan B (a programme of instrumental-only music) was successfully implemented – big phew! - but I’m still in recovery.

Christmas itself is exhausting, too, isn’t it? Our guests have just left. Over the last week, between cooking, eating, walks, chat and music, we’ve played many, many board games, including a new favourite, Settlers of Catan. My metaphorical mind, as always, draws parallels. Catan is an imaginary...

December 1, 2019

I’ve gone a little penguin crazy. Well, sometimes you just have to give in to your natural impulses… and mine have been all about buying penguin products recently. For example, here are my new penguin scarves…

... my new penguin bag…

                  ...  and my new penguin angel chimes. 

It’s all in a spirit of celebration. Because in November I was sent the advance copies of my forthcoming novel AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS. It will hit the bookshops in March and is already available to pre-order. I’m really glad I pushed myself so hard over the summer and it’s such a relief to be at this stage. As you might glean, I’m just a bit excited about it!

My debut novel, ELLIE AND THE HARP MAKER i...

November 1, 2019

It’s never really been my thing. It has an aura of loneliness. Even the word sounds like a negative: SO LOW! To be honest, I see myself more as a team player. I love, love, love being part of The Hummingbirds, the a capella singing quartet where I have a line of music all to myself which works in harmony with the other three parts. And I love my role in Foxwillow Trio, adding that vital element of harpishness to the mix. The jokes, banter and friendship are a real joy, too.

However, in the past few months I’ve been branching out on my own a lot. I’ve been doing Care Homes as a soloist for several years, but now there are far more formal performances with everything depending on just me and the harp. I did another solo fundraising co...

October 1, 2019

I’ve needed it recently: that little mechanism called the ‘Tigger Switch’.

It’s a term coined by a friend of mine and it’s named after the bouncy and enthusiastic character in Winnie-the-Pooh. The friend, who has a high pressure job in leadership training, says she turns on her Tigger Switch when she has to give empowering speeches. This little ploy apparently works even when she’s feeling tired and depleted.

Following her example, I have now located my own Tigger Switch. And what a powerful tool it’s turned out to be! As somebody who always struggles with performance nerves, I’ve been fostering a feel-the-fear-but-do-it-anyway attitude for many years. Before playing harp in public I have a battle with Wimpy Me every single time, an...

September 1, 2019

Would you believe it? My debut novel, ‘Ellie and the Harp Maker’ is spreading across the world! August saw its publication in both the US and Canada. AND I’ve received my first foreign language edition of the book. It’s out in Serbia!

Here's Purrsy showing off my US hardback.

The beautiful Serbian edition (and how I love having all those cool extra Js in my name…)

I’m beginning to realise that the success of a novel lies not only in the ability of an author to capture the imagination of her readers, but also in the hard work of the marketing team. My US team at Berkley has been absolutely phenomenal. Thanks to the efforts of the lovely Tara, Danielle, Jessica and Fareeda E&THM has featured in countless literary publications, websites...

August 1, 2019

Yes, it's a little odd for a title, I know, but I liked it! And let's face it, July was a pretty odd month for me.

The glory was very unexpected but (as glory tends to be) extremely welcome. Firstly, I've had an author event in Waterstones! Never in my wildest dreams did I envisage myself doing this sort of thing. It took place at the Yeovil branch a few weeks ago, and here's my book on proud display.

I made life difficult for myself, as is my wont, by bringing the harp along and providing a bit of extra harpy magic to go with the readings, and I sang 'Books Are Cool' (which seems to be becoming a habit). I cleverly managed to break a harp string just before I started and was oh-so-nervous, but thanks to Marcus, Stuart, Kirsty and th...

July 1, 2019

Oh dear. A little fear has crept in. Now that my book is out there and I’m gradually becoming known as an author, people might just start reading these blogs. They might come here expecting entertainment or eloquence or (gulp) wisdom. I don’t want to disappoint but I feel hopelessly inadequate. Any energy and skill I do have is already being stretched by writing the novels and playing the harp…

Should I push harder? Should I do more? Some writers manage to do SO much more, juggling day jobs and families and even producing two novels a year, as well as a (not monthly but) weekly blog. Wow. I have to face the truth. I am nothing like those writers. However, the harp has recently reminded me that I still have something to offer - and i...

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