Tuesday, 29 August 2017

What Do You See?

An old tree trunk doused in sunlight growing into a sandy bank, affording travellers along an ancient footpath shade from the midday sun. 

This oak tree has probably been here for hundreds of years. The bark is rough, full of lichen, gnarled, and hollowed at the base.

Notice the root in the foreground stretching from left to right and growing up the tree. Strange to see a root twisting and twining around the trunk rather than growing into the bank and securing the tree. Roots usually form a counterbalance beneath the sandy soil to the crown and canopy of branches and leaves above. 

Stranger yet, this root is like the figure of a climber pulling himself up. At this angle I can see the left leg, a straight back, head, and arms straining, stretching and reaching for the next hand hold.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Walking in the Countryside - Such a Pleasure

Many writers enjoy walking or need to walk as part of their working routine. Beside the pleasure of exercise, there is much else to be gained from a walk.

The rhythm of walking, especially in nature, frees the mind. An awareness of the seasons, growth,   sounds, and smells of the countryside are soothing, yet stimulate ideas. Space and freedom to roam allows plotlines and characters to develop.

Movement creates energy. Energy enables creativity. A story grows.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Title: More Than Just a Dog
Author: Genie Gabriel
ISBN: 978-1-62420-341-1

is the newest release from Rogue Phoenix Press

Genre: Paranormal
Book Heat Level: 3

Three generations of independent women, driven in different directions by one man's anger. Until his death reconnects them with their mystical Irish ancestors and wonders beyond this limited human existence. 
Trained in the shamanic arts by her Irish grandmother, Chessie Durand travels to alternate worlds to rescue animals in danger. Aided by her Chosen One, an angel dog and a mysterious merkaba necklace, she discovers powers unknown to most humans. 
Ever practical, her mother provides a sanctuary for these alien and exotic species stall-beside-stall with barnyard creatures. And when their paradise is threatened by ignorance and poachers and unknown dangers beyond the stargates, Marlise loads her shotgun and joins the fight. 

99 cents for a limited time.

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble 

Hi there, Genie. Congratulations on the release of your new book. How are you feeling today?
Release day jitters have subsided and I’m feeling as normal as I ever get. LOL!

I have a few questions for you from a writer’s perspective, about More Than Just a Dog and writing generally. I haven’t read the story, but from the description alone my antennae is twitching and I want to know more.
You make mention of ‘mystical Irish ancestors’ in the story. What is it about the notion of Ireland that is so fascinating for you?
Perhaps I lived in Ireland in some past life. I have strawberry blonde hair and fair skin, like many Irish, and I love the green landscape as well as the myths and blessings that have been handed down as part of Irish folklore.

Can you tell us about the significance of the Merkaba necklace, and what the symbolism means to you?
During my training in Reiki, I was given several symbols to help focus on working with energy. When researching a mystical symbol to use in this book, More Than Just a Dog, I discovered the merkaba symbol is also associated with Reiki. When I saw the symbol, I knew in an instant it was ancient and sacred. Further research turned up more and more legends and connections of the merkaba to ancient civilizations and traveling through dimensions, yet always shrouded in mystery. How perfect is that for a curious writer?

Dogs are known as man’s best friends yet are all evolved from wolves. How do you marry the elements of the wild and domesticated in your experience of dogs, and your writing about them?

Since I received the gift of communicating with animals about ten years ago, I don’t make a distinction between wild and domesticated animals. I talk to all of them! They have shown me we are all sentient beings who are evolving. Not always equally, but we have changed and are changing, helping each other in this process.

What are you reading at the moment?
I am a self-help junkie, and usually am in the midst of half dozen self-improvement books. But sometimes I want total escape and look for short comedies. I also have a very long list of books of many genres from Rogue Phoenix Press authors that I want to read, as well as the books of numerous writer friends. And though I’m far past the age of Young Adult, somewhere along theline I got hooked on these novels that carry a sense of wonder, optimism
and hope.

What are your optimum writing conditions?
Butt in chair and write. LOL! Quiet is my number one priority when I’m writing a first draft. I’m really quite spoiled in that I have a home office dedicated to writing and my computer projects. My doggies insist on regular meals, but if I meet that requirement, they are usually happy to nap or cruise in and out of the back yard while I work.

What is the most challenging part of the writing process, and how do you overcome that challenge?
When I was first started writing about twenty-five years ago, everything was a challenge! I stumbled along,absorbed everything I could from other writers on their processes, rewrote and edited manuscripts over and over, shared my doubts with critique partners, and thought of quitting many times. Then came the writing marathon of publishing a series of ten stories two months apart.
These were on my publisher’s schedule, and I was committed to make this happen. Though sometimes I was hanging onto my sanity by one thin thread, I learned I could write lots of words faster than I thought possible. I also learned I didn’t want to do that again! Gaining that confidence in my ability to write is how I overcome whatever challenges come up now. Sometimes scenes flow faster than my fingers can race over the keyboard. Other times, there are gaping holes in the story with only notes of what I think might happen–before the characters charge off in a completely different direction. Also, I’m not afraid to edit–sometimes ruthlessly. If a favorite scene doesn’t move the story forward or ring true to a character, out it goes. (However, I do save these favorite scenes in a separate document, and have used a number of them at a later time, sometimes revamped to fit a different story.) Then my beta readers, critique partners and editor take over…

Thanks for sharing those thoughts and comments with us, Genie – it’s so interesting to learn how other writers work.
Good luck with the book and have a great tour.

Genie has a free digital copy of More Than Just a Dog to give to one randomly drawn reader who drops by and leaves a comment on this blog. 

Website URL: www.GenieGabriel.com

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Holding On

This is quite a colony of mussels hanging in here together as the daily tides try to pull them from their rocky environment. 

Sometimes ideas are like that, they slip away and become illusive as I chase them through the thought processes. I almost have it ... then, gone. Holding on to an idea, exploring every element of it and following through to the end of the story is what writing is all about for me. 

Holding on to principles, values, and ideals can feel like a struggle when you are on your own. In a mass, standing shoulder to shoulder (or shell to shell!) there is greater ease and the power to weather the storm. The geopolitical maelstrom we live through today is the greatest storm of my lifetime and is echoed in the war story I'm writing at the moment. My main characters learn to hold on to and enjoy the quiet and calm while they can. 

Thursday, 13 July 2017


A rich source of names - and stories, tombstones are one of my pleasures. If I'm ever stuck for a name I have a browse. 
Ghoulish? Not at all. Each engraving I read I am honouring the dead: for while they are remembered they are not forgotten. Surely the stonemason carved the details to be read and admired.
Unexpectedly, I have come across the grave of John Betjeman at St Enodoc's church in Cornwall, Evelyn Waugh's in Somerset, and have twice deliberately and reverently paid homage to Jane Austen in Winchester Cathedral. 
The not-at-all-famous are equally as  interesting; after all, death is a great leveller. Spot the play on words here in this seventeenth century epitaph I happened upon this morning. Which of us cannot but admire the worthy 'Timewell spent'?

Friday, 7 July 2017

Title: June
Author: Alicia Stone
ISBN: 978-1-62420-316-9

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3



By Alicia Stone

A review by Jeffrey Ross

5 Stars

This is a world-class piece of literature—a finely crafted book that combines several genres successfully. On one level, June functions as an academic or campus novel—much of the text revolves around the detailed, complicated, scholarly world of Professor Perry’s anthropological research and love affair machinations. It also has robust elements of a detective story when super-sleuth David outs a cheating husband. But June most significantly and boldly illuminates a woman’s “sensual” coming of age (somewhat like Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening) as heroine Cassie begins to unshackle herself from a life of emotional servitude and learns to love again. As a writer, I was humbled by the workmanship and power of this novel. Read June—you will never forget the story.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Teatime Traditions

Think tennis or cricket - Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse... Tea on the lawn after a summer afternoon's sport - how delightful!

Etiquette and manners go hand in hand with the ceremony. Milk or tea first? 
"Just a dash."
Sandwiches, scones, and lashings of tea. 

I can almost hear the hum of conversation here in this photograph, as the lawn gently browns in the dry spell, and a brave sparrow ventures out of the border to find a fallen crumb. 

Meeting elderly relatives, a tryst, discussing who will have the children for the holidays. 

Teatime: an irresistible part of summer. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

How Quickly Things Can Change

In a moment everything becomes uncertain:
1. A new leader is elected;
2. An accident happens;
3. A discovery is made: health scares/realities, infidelity, fairies at the bottom of your garden, a cache of Roman coins, there's no milk in the fridge, I'm pregnant, he's passed/failed an exam, she lied...
4. Buying a dog;
5. Stepping off the kerb;
6. Buying the winning lottery ticket...and putting it in the fire/washing by mistake;
7. Answering the phone;
8. The parachute doesn't open...but the reserve does; 
9. The antibiotic is working;
10. You didn't see the car in front indicate. 

The tide is coming in across the causeway between the mainland and St Michael's Mount, in Cornwall. In less than 5 minutes the way is impassable. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017


I happened upon this tangle of vegetation on a recent walk, and admired the tightly curled fern in the foreground. The other plants are already reaching to the sky eager to photosynthesise, propagate, and strut their stuff as if aware that everything is to play for. 

Will my plant outstrip his fellows? Will it be healthy or trampled underfoot preventing maturation? How will the appearance change in the dust of full summer and season's change in autumn? I can imagine the brown-paper fronds decorated with the first frost. 

A slow unravelling will most likely lead to a rapid catch up. This bundle of plant energy looks poised and ready to burst onto the scene. I can't help but sense and admire such huge potential. 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Inspired by Gillian Ayres - abstract painter

Idly looking at the children's accompanying worksheet, I sat in the upstairs exhibition space in the art gallery of the National Museum of Wales and stared at a huge canvas. Words and phrases began to niggle. I wrote them down between the printed text and numbered questions - and later fashioned them into a poem.

Without the constraint of the day
My mind's eye recognises 
The convulsing texture of arcs, planes, and diverse shapes,
Rainbow curves,
Emerging nuanced edges,
Which wheel, rear, push and tear at fleeing cloud formations.
Thoughts and dream fragments race through the storm of violet night, 
Darting and pin-pricked with electric delicacy; 
Sulphur green and red slash and pulse
Into purple;
At the close,
Trembling and sweating stills,
As swathes of loaded brushstrokes usher in a yellow dawn.

Curiosity piqued? Here's the Wiki link to the artist: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillian_Ayres 

Friday, 21 April 2017


As a child I watched the teatime TV programme Crossroads and was drawn in by the drama of the personal relationships of the motel staff.

Where would plots and stories be without crossroads. Sometimes there is only one way to go or choice seems to be limited; at other times there are multiple possibilities. 

Sunday, 9 April 2017


I was passing through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire today on my way to meet some friends, when I saw a signpost for Adelstrop. I'd always wanted to see the village bearing the iconic name so I pulled off the main road.

The railway station closed years ago, but I'd read that the sign had been preserved and erected in a bus stop to honour the  memory of the exquisite poem I refer to in my blog post of  26/11/2016.

A couple sitting on bench inside the shelter told me that Edward Thomas, war poet and nature poet died a hundred years ago today on a battlefield at Arras and that they were waiting to attend a church service in his name. Goose pimples rose on my arms and I thought of the alignment of chance that brought me here on this day. 

Visiting particular friends, taking this route, noticing the signpost, remembering the bus stop, finding the railway sign, meeting the couple who told me of the significance of the day - Edward Thomas, stopping in a train so many years ago... 

Chance and the sense of being drawn to a place or a person is the stuff of story - inexorable necessity; characters pulled, pushed and toppled on a chessboard.  

Monday, 3 April 2017

The Power of an Image

Those pictures of the Earth we see from space are spellbinding. Our beautiful blue planet with mountains, deserts and swirling weather stirs the emotions and causes the heart to miss a beat. It is no myth that hardened astronauts, scrupulously trained men and women of the military and science are moved and forever changed by what they see up there in space looking back at their distant home. I cannot then be any less than a global citizen. As a global citizen, it is right that I care about the health of my planet, all the living creatures that share it with me, and what happens there in my name.

My region on the blue planet is Europe. I am a European in terms of genetics, proximity and disposition. I love to travel and explore northern Europe, Greece and Italy. The countries of Europe are so diverse in their culture, cuisine, language, art and music there are never-ending discoveries to be made and old friends to revisit. I am happy to belong to an organisation - the European Union -  that is willing to share ideas, co-operation, wealth and knowledge while maintaining individual national identity. 

So, I am a global citizen and a European while my country of origin is the UK.

An intact version of this Union flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland flies in Brussels and New York, and across the whole of the UK as a symbol of friendship and shared values.  

The torn edges of fabric in this photograph began my chain of thoughts and echoed my disquiet and unease as the UK enters a period of change, uncharted waters and perhaps (without being too grandiose), great peril. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

New Book Released Today

Living a lie in a web of deceit, Cassandra finds the courage to challenge her controlling husband. She sets in motion a tragic chain of events that leads her across Europe from the medieval city of Tallinn to the showboating glamour of Nice. Cast aside and the victim of cruel revenge, Cassandra fights for her future and discovers she is not alone. Her new-found strength is tested to its limits, for where love is concerned there is often a reckoning.

JUNE is available on Amazon or from the US publisher Rogue Phoenix Press.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

New Trainers, New Destinations

Had a great run today. Sun shining, ground soft but not too muddy, no dogs leaping up... It might have been the endorphins or the podcast I was listening to, but I went to a faraway place.


I like to change my route and environment. You could say I went interstellar as I listened to a space shuttle Discovery lift-off from an old recording mixed with some running music. As I came in to the finish we touched down at Edwards Air Force Base.

I was only gone 40 minutes.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Pebbles on the beach

Imagine, if all of these pebbles were ideas or plot lines; if each rounded stone was a character; if the blue pebbles were adjectives, the pink were verbs, and the grey were perfect words of any description...

Washed by the sea, smoothed by waves, arranged and rearranged as the seasons change - the beach is a model of endless possibility.