Today is the DAY!

So today is the DAY! Yep, the culmination of over four years work.  Break out the Champagne!

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100
Ann, toasting the launch of The Angel Bug, at The Eden Project where the book is set

Ok, so it wasn’t full time ( not by a long-chalk – I created my whole slateware business while this novel was being written, edited etc) but eventually it is ready to be put before the greater public.

Now, as I said to my beta readers (people who have not read the book before but are willing to read it with a critical eye for different aspects of the work and who feed-back in time for the work to be corrected, altered if appropriate and given a final polish) sending out the penultimate draft is like sending your firstborn off to school …..

Sending out the finished book is …. well .. just – scary – though at the same time exhilarating!


What to do for a  BLOG LAUNCH PARTY? Well, I’m offering ALL my blog readers a free taster and a special deal for the launch month!

So , right NOW you can CLICK HERE to read the first 6 (yes SIX!) chapters absolutely free (in pdf so you can read it on your computer)

and if you go the  Launch offer  on this link right now, and for the whole of JULY only – you can buy THE ANGEL BUG  in all eformats for HALF-PRICE.

(once I launch on Amazon in August the price on my website has to go up to the full price)

Thank you all for being with me on this journey and especially everyone who has helped me on my way. The acknowledgements can get a bit lost at the end of a novel as they are – so I’m putting them here too!

To The Eden project for allowing me ‘behind the scenes’ and to Dr Alistair Griffiths (Horticultural Science Curator) for answering so many of my science and botanical questions about the Eden Project

Thanks also to Sir Tim Smit for reading through the manuscript and agreeing that I could use him as the only true-life character in the novel

Grateful thanks to my proof reader, Christine Haywood, my excellent beta-readers Nicky Hatherell, Steph Dickenson, Kathy Gilmore, Denyse Keslake, Joan Tall and, from the USA, Ann Quinn, and Cover designer Nathan Murphy.

and thank you blog-readers too – especially those who have given feedback on cover choice / blurb / the first few extracts and anyone who has ‘shared’ my blog on FB or tweeted a blog post – letting people know my new book is OUT NOW is so important and helpful to me 🙂  – thank you ALL!

Angel Bug Cover Ultimate

Ok, little one, off you go now … enjoy being read 🙂






Do you do something creative?

How does it make you feel when you offer it up to the public?

do share – you know I love to hear your thoughts 🙂



Celebrating small things – country life

Today, yes, today, I was at a village celebration!     …..    Excited? 

People gathering before the start

Well, if I told you this was a celebration for the opening ceremony of a LAY-BY – would you still be excited?

Getting the new lay-by ready for the ribbon cutting

Yeah – I know it sounds weird … but this is country life… and when they say things move slowly in the country this lay-by is a prime example.  The post-office corner is a good right-angled bend and the road is just wide enough for two cars to go round it carefully. Opposite the post-office village shop used to be a fairly high bank, seemingly grassed, but as we all know, grass banks in Cornwall hide a slate and granite hedge! There has always been a bit of roadside parking up the little lane leading down towards the ‘main’ road through the village, but not much, and you were always aware that tarrying too long meant others could not park. Then there are the Mobile Library days, when all that space it taken by the Mobile library for half an hour. Or deliveries to the shop, or the postman collecting the mail.

All in all, many would stop on the corner, against that high bank… and thus prevent the bus getting round the corner much to the consternation of the bus drivers ( Yes we are lucky enough to still be on a regular bus route – and I imagine each time the bus is prevented from keeping to schedule the likelihood of keeping the service diminishes)

So, for years … and I mean Y E A R S …….. the idea of having a small carpark opposite the post office village shop has been mooted.  However, up until now, nothing has ever come of the ‘idea’. It has taken a savvy person on the parish council to work though the ever tricky procedure of applying for grants and permissions, others to plan and oversee the works, for a community group to put forward some of the funds to show willing and for the grants to be actually awarded and in the end we have it!

Two, of the three, vintage cars, parked in the lay-by

It was part of the stipulation of the largest funding body that there should be a formal opening ceremony with press – so it became an event – with posters drawn by children from the village primary school, with official ribbon cutting, with tea and cake, with a procession of vintage cars, one carrying the oldest village resident at 101, and a vintage bike against the bike rack with its basket filled with bunches of flowers for various people handed out by children from the village school and with speeches (short ones!) of thanks to all involved!

And so, it turned out to be a really nice country-style village celebration of something both very small and significant at the same time.  There is now room for 5 cars ( if they park tidily) plus the space for three up the side lane remains, and no excuse to block the path of the bus (or any other large vehicle that needs to turn the ‘post-office’ corner).

We all hope it makes a difference inside the shop too, with more people using it – as we are also very lucky to still have a post office and village shop and that needs the village people to use it and buy a significant amount every week to keep it going.

Lucky people!

The first lucky seven people will be getting their choice of my already published novels arriving in their email inbox on Friday!! There is still a chance to get in on the first draw if you enter before noon on Friday 7th June… but even if you enter afterwards you will be in the draw for the next three weeks draws. If you’re not sure what this is about .. just click on the link to go to my   **Pre-Launch Party** where YOU CAN WIN a copy of one of my novels. (if you haven’t got an ereader these are available as pdf – or download kindle for pc and ask for a mobi version – to read them on your computer) 


Do you live in a village or tight-knit community?

What makes your community special?

Do you find pleasure in these ‘small things’?

You know I love to hear from you – do share 🙂


AND NOW.. the next excerpt from THE ANGEL BUG ……

Gabbi has returned to the Foundation building…

   Andy and Naomi were heralded by their voices, obviously in heated discussion, followed by their persons as they came up the central staircase into the light and airy office space.

‘But it could be Thrips Palmi,’ Andy was saying.

‘What, with the quarantine measures all in place? Besides it isn’t as if it came from some dodgy place.’

‘Well, Kew has been known to have its own problems with diseases and vectors.’

‘Do we have a new problem?’ I cut in.

‘W04, some die-back co-incidentally right beside the new introductions.’

‘Which were quarantined for three months as usual!’ Naomi retorted.

‘Anyhow, we’ll know soon, samples coming over pronto.’

‘Well we’re going to be busy then, I’ve asked for you to see some from the Moringa as soon as they come in. It’s a bit tricky, it’s the last tree we want to have a problem with just now,’

‘Why? Any time is bad for any of them isn’t it?’ Naomi said, shrugging.

‘Ah, but Luke Adamson’s coming and he’s sure to make a bee-line for it.’

‘Why’s that?’ Andy said as he sat down.

I looked at Andy and Naomi, both of them looked puzzled, and young all of a sudden. I smiled, ‘Well back when you two were in nursery school, Luke made his name with the first comprehensive ethnobotanical study of the Moringa.’

‘Oh dear!’ Andy pulled a mournful face, waggling his head in a mocking way.

‘Oh dear, indeed,’ I almost laughed, Andy, at least didn’t seem in awe of the superstar.

The three of us busied ourselves in the portacabin laboratory at Watering Lane, Eden’s nursery a few miles west of the main site, each wearing the standard kit, lab coat, latex gloves, and, when we were cutting, goggles.

‘So,’ I said firmly, looking up from my microscope, ‘it’s definitely not a dehydration problem, these cells are as turgid as we could wish for.’

‘And so far I have found no signs of microbacterial infection,’ added Andy. ‘So I’m going to culture some sections, especially of the red cells.’

‘You just do that!’ Naomi said to his back as he went into the second half of the lab.

‘Nothing?’ I asked, looking across to her. There was an atmosphere between them that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, though it might have just been the cross accusations over the source of the plant infections.

‘Nothing, certainly on this sample, I’m off to take a good look at that tree and the area, put down a few sticky pads to see what insect vectors I catch.’

‘Okay. I have to admit I’d rather we found something concrete before Adamson turns up.’

Naomi turned and gave me a quizzical look as she hung up her lab coat. ‘I don’t know why you’re worrying, Gabbi, that new senior botanist will be here tomorrow and she can talk herself out of any hang-ups Dr Adamson has about our trees.’

Naomi just about slammed the door behind her, leaving me wondering what had ruffled her feathers. There was something in the way that she had said ‘senior botanist’ that suggested that the new boss was a problem, but, as I had not been in on the day of the appointment I’d not met Dr. Ananias. I had heard that she had made an impact on all of them in different ways, some by her looks, some by her ‘air’ and some by her obvious intelligence, however, perhaps not all opinions were favourable. I recalled that Naomi had been unusually reticent at the time.

I turned the leaf over again; the under side was a definite red, not unlike many plants that have a red underside to reflect light back through to the chlorophyll-bearing leaf tissues. I began to wonder whether the Moringa had the ability to adopt this red pigment in reduced-light circumstances. After all the ETFE bubbles of the domes did not allow a hundred percent light through them, then add to that, the fact that many of the largest of the trees in the tropical biome had grown so fast, faster than had been expected, that they had already needed pruning to prevent them reaching the skin of the dome, and so they were cutting out even more light.

‘Hey, Andy,’ I called. ‘I’m going over to reception to see if I can chase up anything on Moringa and low light levels.’

‘Okay, catch you up later.’

I cleared and washed up, then hung up my lab gear and left the laboratory. I glanced up at the vast range of glasshouses that had brought on the bulk of the trees and plants needed to create Eden, and now continued that work, with the sideline of producing plants for sale in the shop. Reception was a building that looked, appropriately, like an overgrown garden shed. Inside, it had the appearance of belonging to a set of artistic hippies; six foot butterflies hung lazily on fine threads from the ceiling, a foam rubber and papier-mâché tree wound itself around a central pillar, and collection boxes for all kinds of recyclable stuff were everywhere. The reception desk itself was little more than a bare board and unmanned as usual, yet above it hung the ubiquitous picture of Luke.

‘Hiya, Jim,’ I called as I circled round to a spare computer.

‘All right?’

‘Will be if we can sort out this blessed Moringa before he comes.’ I nodded to the picture.

‘Yeah, I heard you had a problem. Anything I can help with?’

Jim was one of those truly green-fingered horticulturalists that make you believe in such things; anything he touched grew.

‘Not unless you can tell me why these Moringa leaves should turn red with no obvious reason. I’m just looking up the likelihood of a change to utilise reflected light, though there was nothing in the Forestry guide’

‘No watering problems?’


‘Hmm, light sounds like a possibility then, and that guide’s not infallible. I’ll leave you to it,’ he added as he left the building.

Half an hour later Andy broke through the trance that I’d sunk into as I flicked from article to article dealing with plants that utilised the red underside of their leaves. There were no cases where Moringa had exhibited this pattern of adaptation and the only plants where the colour changed, as opposed to always being red, had a well documented histology that demonstrated that they were always ready and willing to change as soon as the light levels decreed it.

‘Ready to go back?’ he asked.

‘Yep, might as well, not getting anything useful here. Of course I might be on to a new research paper,’ I grinned. ‘The adaptation of Moringa to life under ETFE.’

   Andy grinned back; he knew how little I wanted to do any such thing, even though progress in the scientific world was made just that way. I’d said often enough that I was so glad I didn’t have to jump through those hoops as I had no ambition now to be a botanical high-flyer. After all I’d seen at first-hand what it meant. James had been at the top of his field for decades and it had driven him to despair at times, especially when out ‘scrounging’ for research funds, yet it still amazed me when he threw it all in and retired at fifty, many of his colleagues were just getting into their stride at that age.

   We were no further on when I left for home. I drove my mini quite sedately, there being no need to hurry home, and the twists and turns of the high-banked hedges and the road between them meant that being ready and able to stop within a few yards of spying another vehicle was a distinct advantage. My mind wasn’t on my driving however; it was still on the problem of the Moringa.

 ….. to be continued


** Pre-Launch Party ** for The Angel Bug

WoooHooo – Welcome to the Pre-Launch Party for THE ANGEL BUG  – due to be released on the 1st July!

What is a blog pre-launch party? Well, I’d love to break out the champers and serve up the caviar but on a blog all I can offer is some PRIZES  and some TASTERS.

champers PRIZES  *******

I will give away one ebook a day (winner’s choice) from my previously published novels, to a correct entry in the competition below – EVERYDAY ALL THROUGH JUNE!

So get reading,

answer the questions

and email your answers and your book choice to

The sooner you enter the more chances you get! Each week I will organise a random pick for seven lucky winners!


(click book links to read first 3 chapters of each, in pdf, to find the answers)

1] In DIVINING the LINE what county does Liz live in?

2] In NOTHING EVER HAPPENS HERE where, in Cornwall, does Sally suggest Jo and Alex might go to, to get away from London?

3] In SOME KIND of SYNCHRONY what is Di’s new job?

{hint: all answers are within the first chapter}

Competition Rules:

You need to be signed-up to this blog (email sign -up is easy if you are not signed up already – see ‘subscribe’ box top left)

Answer all three questions and email the answers and the following information to

The novel* you’d like to receive as a prize AND the eformat you would like it in (MOBI for kindle: EPUB for nook/sony/kobo: or  PDF)

* to read blurbs – to help you chose – go to Ann Foweraker Bookshop on TOP bar

One winner per email address; chosen via The prize ebook will be emailed to the winner after the weekly draw.

and now the caviar TASTER  ******

every week, added to the usual blog, will be excerpts from my latest novel The Angel Bug due to be released on July 1st … read the first instalment Today !

The Angel Bug  1

Gabbi – October 18th

Thirty years should change a man, I thought, but looking at the handsome face on the huge poster it didn’t look like it had done much to Luke Adamson’s features except, perhaps, make him look more rugged, a man to be taken seriously.

I hadn’t mentioned knowing him when it was first mooted that he might be able to fit the Eden Project into his UK trip; publicising his book and film, rumoured to have made him a millionaire already. ‘Jungala’ was a box-office phenomenon, though it started out as a serious film on ‘Man’s relationship with plants and the importance of preserving biodiversity’.

It shouldn’t have made it as a blockbuster movie, however, something happened in the filming; the ‘baddies’, a real threatening force, turned up and turned Luke into an Indiana Jones character. Added to that, in the three years it took to film, two major breakthroughs in treating terminal illnesses in man had been developed from extracts of plants hitherto only known and used by natives of the rainforests. With his superb on-screen presence, deep knowledge of his subject, film-star good looks and some excellent cutting, the serious ethno-botanical study became a mainstream ‘true-life’ film complete with soundtrack and an eco-song reminiscent of ‘Born Free’.

You see I knew all this, I’d read about it in the papers; his name, as always, drawing my eye and, despite my conscious thoughts, my interest, I’d even gone up to Plymouth to see the first screening. So why hadn’t I said anything to Mikaela when she was bubbling on about ‘how wonderful it would be’, and ‘what a coup it would be’, and ‘wasn’t he the most sexy scientist out there’? Well, I knew myself too well, I knew if I’d said anything that I’d have blushed, and then there would have been that kind teasing that they went in for in the Eden family, and I didn’t think I could cope with that, and they would have no idea that it would be difficult for me.

The Eden family, that’s how I felt about them all, a great bunch of people that easily became friends as they seemed to have, at their core, the same values. To me they had been a true life-line, welcoming me in and giving me both a focus in life and the gentle external framework I had needed to grow into a stronger person when my main support had been so suddenly cut away.

Well I’d had a month to get used to seeing his photo everywhere, even in my local Co-op, and now his visit was only a couple of days away. I wasn’t really worried, I told myself, even at university he’d been one of the ‘celebrities’ and I was definitely ‘one of the others’. He probably wouldn’t recognise or remember me, so it wouldn’t be anything to be fussed about, I told myself – again.

‘Gabbi!’ Mikaela called, waving me over as soon as I reached the open-plan office floor of the Foundation building. When I got close enough, Mikaela swung her chair round to face the others too, ‘Hey, listen – Luke Adamson’s emailed me. “So looking forward to seeing the eighth wonder of the world! I have heard so many good things about the Eden Project – and as it is the last date on my tour I intend to take a break and see a bit of Cornwall while I’m there. Recommendations welcome.” Wow, what do you think? What would a guy like that want to see?’

‘He’s American – anything older than 200 years should do the trick,’ cut in Andy from the plant pathology desk.

‘Cynic!’ Naomi muttered, her eye to a microscope.

‘He’s used to old buildings,’ I murmured, seeing him standing under the arch of King’s College, then, as Mikaela turned a puzzled face to me, I added quickly, ‘PhD at Cambridge.’

‘So he did!’ Mikaela turned back to Andy, ‘So, maestro?’

‘So, it had better be King Arthur then, Tintagel, um, some of the prehistoric stuff, Men-a-Tol,’ Andy offered, pushing himself back from his desk, ‘Coffee anyone?’ Heads were shaken, one hand up, Andy shambled off to fetch one for himself and one for Naomi.

‘You know I keep thinking this is his first UK visit, when it’s just his first visit to this part of the UK!’ Mikaela beamed brightly, ‘I’m sure we can find some really Cornish places to recommend to him, might even be able to escort him round a bit,’ she added with a twinkle in her eye.

I smiled at Mikaela’s enthusiasm and thought he’d probably be quite happy to be escorted by Mikki. Twenty-eight, pretty, long-legged, blonde and shapely, Mikki was the antithesis of the dowdy scientist, very much the sort of girl Luke used to go for, I thought, and the type who went for him back then. I didn’t suppose he’d changed in that respect either.

By mid-afternoon, truth be told, I was feeling a little drowsy as another restless night caught up with me and I was finding the rows of figures in front of me swimming. Somehow, while Eden was between senior botanists, I had ended up with the role, partly through an odd deference to me as the senior by age and, I believed, an acknowledgement of my organisational skills. I shook myself and, deciding on a restorative cup of tea, pushed my chair away from the desk. As I did so my phone rang, sliding the chair forward again I answered with a voice much brighter than I felt.

‘Hello, Gabbi Johnston.’

‘Gabbi! Josh here, I’m in H03. There’s something not right with the Moringa – I think you had better come and take a look.’

From the designation, H03, I pictured the slight, pale boy, Josh, standing by the Orang dan Kebun, the Malaysian house and garden area in the humid-tropics biome.

‘All right, Josh, I’ll be right down,’ I said already standing as I replaced the phone. A quick whiz down to the pit was probably the best antidote to the lethargy I was feeling anyway.

Picking up my mobile I headed out of the Foundation building, turned sharply and collected my bike. As a health and lifestyle statement and as a method of keeping fit I kept a bike at Eden for getting around. Easy on the trip down into the pit, as the site of the biomes was appropriately known to the employees of Eden, but a darn sight harder on the muscles on the way back up to the administration buildings on the rim.

I felt that sense of wonder and exhilaration that I always did as my pedal strokes brought me in sight of the Eden that everyone recognises from books, TV and adverts, the soap-bubble constructions piled against the sides of the once raw granite china-clay pit, then, as I neared, the panoply of the temperate zone, the largest, the ‘outdoor biome’. All of it looking both small and vast at the same time.

After walking briskly through the jungle conditions of the humid biome I was perspiring slightly by the time I reached H03 and there was Josh standing beside the Malaysian house, keeping out of the way of the visitors who were wandering, gawping upwards, stopping and bending to read notices, children dashing back and forth to drag parents on to the ‘thing’ they’d found, or trailing behind, tired and hot.

‘Hi!’ Josh said when I stood beside him. ‘You have to get to the higher side to see it.’

We walked with the crowd round the edge of the garden, but where the rest flowed onwards we stopped and stepped to the far side of the path.

Josh raised his hand and pointed to the top most leaves of the Moringa oleifera.

‘There!’ he said, ‘Earlier, when it was clouded over, I could see quite clearly that the top-most leaves are going red.’

The sky beyond the ETFE bubble biome structure was bright now, I shaded my eyes but I still couldn’t see the leaf colour properly; the higher delicate fronds were just dark silhouettes.

A family came and stood between us and the tree. The mother read from the guide in clear tones. ‘ “Moringa oleifera, also know as the Horseradish or Miracle tree, has edible leaves, beans, flowers and roots.”  I wonder if it’s the roots that give it the Horseradish name. “Beside it stands the Neem tree known throughout the East as the world’s most useful tree, providing medicine, fuel and food.” Well that sounds impressive for one plant. ’

The family stood a moment or two looking the two slim trees up and down, the younger boy pointing out the bean-like seed pods. They moved on, the mother reading the next section as they walked.

‘I’m going higher,’ I said. ‘I can’t see well enough from here.’

Josh nodded assent and followed me as I turned and took a near vertical route up through the planting to get as high as possible.

Now I could see. Josh was right; there were a significant number of leaves turning red, as if for an early autumn. Yet these trees shouldn’t have an autumn, shouldn’t be changing colour.

‘What’s the watering like?’ I asked

‘Fine, checked that, no problems now or recorded.’

‘Hmm, okay, well we will need leaf samples anyway – so dehydration can be ruled out while we look for other baddies,’ I smiled. ‘Could you arrange that for me Josh?’

‘Sure, only one for you, or one to each?’ he said, meaning, a sample for the plant pathologist and one for the entomologist too.

‘Better make it one to each, thanks,’ I said frowning. ‘Better make them bio-safe and labelled urgent. Okay?’

‘Okay, no probs!’

No probs! Indeed! Big Probs!! I thought as I sweated the bike back up the slope. Perhaps I should have had a sample sent to Mikki too. It might be easier than actually telling her that there was a problem with the Moringa. Of all the trees in all the biomes, why did it have to be that one, a paraphrased Bogart said in my head, if no other plant, Luke would certainly zero in on his pet, the tree that made his name in ethnobotany!  Back at my desk I bashed Moringa oleifera into the Forestry-Compendium website to check out if it had any history of turning red, and what the cause might be………

 I hope you enjoyed that little taster ….. more next week.

Have you ever been to The Eden Project in Cornwall?

Do share your thoughts on the excerpt, the competition or Eden … you know I love to hear from you.


Frogs, Fungus and Fat-balls


Winter still has not really had much of an effect on this little corner of Cornwall, it has been exceptionally mild and pretty wet too. I missed taking a photo of a row of early daffodils blooming against the backdrop of the Ginster’s Christmas tree outside their Pasty factory in Callington  (I didn’t have my camera with me and the next time I passed it was after 12th night)  But I have a shot of our first daffs to bloom – not an early variety but they were blooming by Wednesday of last week (25th Jan) and the snowdrops that line the bottom of the Cornish hedge these grow on were also blooming well.   The first snowdrops however had been those in the new wood, where these (see photo) were out before the end of December. In between I have noticed the usual spring blossoms, the camellias are already putting on a great show and primroses peeking out amongst the grass,  however there are also roses still in bloom in both the front and back gardens.

I couldn’t resist these two examples of fungi – amazingly attractive, one bracket fungus and some toadstools, which I believe to be a honey fungus but must check it out as it was close to one of our apple trees!










The frogs have returned to the water-feature (a run of very small shallow ponds going down through the new wood, fed by spring-water that runs into the main pond near the house) I tried to capture these on camera but the vibration of walking, even ever-so carefully, sends them scooting under the leaf-litter debris in the bottom of the pools. The frogs that inhabit here vary in shade and markings, from the usual green and gold, brown and gold to a dark liver red colour.  Their great clumps of frog-spawn, are, however, quite visible and, as they protrude above the shallow water, are also vulnerable to frost if we get one.

In the main pond (which also holds numerous shubunkin type goldfish, ranging from dark brown, through speckled to gold – none of which we have see at all since late November) the newts have reappeared.  I have tried to capture these on camera but being under-water means I always get a ‘light refraction’ shadow – so they are not that clear. If anyone out there can tell me how to take these photos in a clear way (using a simple old digital camera) please do!  Our newts range in shade from a dark olive green to a basic brown, through a russet red to a pale pinkish colour.  As the water warms up I expect to see more of them as they start their mating behaviour – where a female will  be followed around the bottom of the shallow shelf on the pond by a number of suitors.

My father has a new bird-feeder, it looks like a log with holes cut in the sides and you fill it with ‘fat-balls’ which are, much as their name suggests, balls of fat with seeds and grain in them. This has attracted two varieties of woodpecker, the green woodpecker and the greater spotted woodpecker,  to the garden where we can see them from the kitchen window (we often hear them in the area). They have been accompanied by the long-tailed tits, which usually fly in a group of about a dozen and flitter round the trees where the feeders are, feed briefly but then swiftly move on, however the fat-ball log seems to keep them here much longer.

Lastly a picture quiz: What is it? I took this photograph in very late December in our garden. A click on the picture will enlarge it for you. Can you identify the plant these fell from? Answers in the comment please – I’ll give the correct answer next week!

Clue 1: These came off a tree.

Clue 2: This tree belongs on the other side of the world – native of Australia.

Clue 3 This tree has silvery green leaves, round on young stems and elongated and pointed on older.


And if you want to know more about the novels by Ann Foweraker ‘Divining the Line’, ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’ and ‘Some Kind Of Synchrony’ just click HERE to be able to the first 3 chapters in pdf FREE !  Answer and Winner?? – See the comments!

SEE ‘Old Bottle – New Treasures’ post for February Picture Quiz!


What Kind of Animal Are You?

Perhaps I should rephrase that! If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

This sort of question had been used since the early nineties in job interviews and even in speed dating in some form or other. The aim was to put the interviewee off their stride, make them show if they were good at thinking on their feet and, perhaps, to get an insight into how they saw themselves.

Now tell me if I am being cynical, but if I knew that this sort of questioning was going on I think I would have my ‘animal’ answer all lined up.

Job requires leadership? Then I’ll say I am the lead elephant, and the others will follow. Job requires perseverance? I might say I’m an ant, that no matter what obstacles there are I will get the job done.

I guess no one would say they were a hyena, a sloth or a snake!

In relationships obviously the angle changes, if you are asking you are really hoping for an insight into the other person’s personality. If you are answering, you might want to show a softer side, or a caring side, this goes for men as well as women, and animals suitable for a job interview would not necessarily carry the right connotations  in a relationship – I bet there are far more (wolves) teddy-bears (oh, I’m just a great big teddy bear) and (cougars) kittens than there are in job interviews.

So, what kind of animal would you be, if you had no one to fool but yourself?

I confess that I ended up thinking that I really would be a hedgehog, after all. Why? Because I am a shy person by nature, as are hedgehogs, and that shyness is a vulnerability, like the soft vulnerable furry tummy of a hedgehog, and to protect that shyness I have grown the spines of an extrovert and gave  myself the defensive mechanism of rolling into roles that can hide my shyness beneath a ‘job’ in what ever social organisation I am in. As an answer I don’t think it would get me past the job interviewer but as an insight into my own behaviour, that took me many years to find, it is such a valuable tool in understanding my responses and reactions to events and people. Recognition is the first stage to modification, if that is what you want to do.

Have you thought what animal you would be? Dare you say?

Have you ever had to answer this sort of question in an interview, what did you come up with or were you prepared and what did you say?

I’d love to hear from you all, anecdotes welcome!


FLY GOOGLE – an aid to authors?

In the Summer I was nearing the end of the first draft of my most recent book when one of my main characters had to deliver something to a prison facility in Louisiana. I had already researched the sort of place I wanted him to be going to and found one listed that seemed to fit. I could have winged it, making up the scenery he drove through, but if I was even to mention the name of the State I knew I had to get it right. Not yet being a writer who can just hop on a plane to go and visit the place for my research (and put it down as expenses) I flew Google!

I took in the aerial view, dropping lower and lower, noting the town to the north east of the prison, the expanse of empty fields around it. Google landed me on the stretch of road that led up to the prison gateway, I went as far as I could, peered left and right along the boundary fence, then turned around and drove back down Prison Road and on towards the town. I sped through the town until it petered out, then turned back and slowly, glancing left and right, drove back through, noting the types of houses, the few large red-brick buildings, the empty stretch of road before the Prison Road turning. I took in this road, its features to either side and its length. Finally I lifted off again, looking down on the whole scene. I had what I needed. I think the information from my Google street-view and satellite journey that I used will feel authentic enough, they describe the right type of countryside, the right type of town.

“After two hours drive I hit the small community that bore the same name as the jail, drove past the red-brick elementary school and library, through the streets lined with white painted clapboard homes and out the other side to the junction where Prison road joined the highway through town. I turned in, the fields stretched out bare and flat on either side between stumpy hedges that led off left and right in long straight lines, the ploughed soil red, the grass sparse. About a mile along the road was a dark clump of fir trees but after that nothing to give shelter or a hiding place for miles, only the gate to the prison way up ahead of me, blocking the road like a toll-booth, and as I neared, the miles of fencing which could be seen stretching away on either side.”

I already feel someone beginning to object, saying that there’s nothing like ‘being there’ to get the things right. I agree, if you need in-depth understanding and a verifiable atmosphere, but I think that for this background-filling work flying Google is a useful aid for the modern author, with back-up research needed if there are any queries in what you see.

On the other hand, I clearly remember reading a book in the 1980s by an American author who liked to set her stories in Britain, and who, the info claimed ‘spent a lot of time in Britain researching her novels’. She had set one on the edge of Dartmoor, an area I know well, in a key role it involved a Chalk quarry and a muffin shop. The muffins in question were cranberry, chocolate and carrot and orange, not the sort of muffin you would have found in the UK back then, and I can only assume she had seen the white china-clay pits on the edge of Dartmoor and thought they must be chalk but not completed her research. So ‘being there’ isn’t always foolproof either.

What do you think? Anyone else been flying to plot destinations by Google?



The Second Novel is now available on!

Divining the Line was actually written before Nothing Ever Happens Here but is the second novel up on It really doesn’t sit happily in the romance genre but I can’t find a genre that describes ‘divining’ without sounding too weird altogether – ‘paranormal’ and ‘supernatural’ have overtones (or is that undertones) of superheroes or vampires (or both) However, the aspect of Divining is quite strong in this novel, as Perran is a water diviner by trade. Sounds odd? Not when you can look up ‘Water Diviner’ in the yellow pages and find them… usually associated with borehole drilling water services. One of the most famous, certainly in the West Country, was Don the Diviner. His business was* based (if you can believe it) in Chacewater. [* still is though Don himself has passed away] They boasted that if they didn’t find significant water supply for you then you didn’t have to pay for the drilling. Watching him and his wife (who I was later told by another water diviner was actually a better diviner that Don) was so interesting, and yes, like Perran in the book, they offered to show us how it was done and it worked for us too and continues to work for us, the best amongst us being our eldest son who had a real flair for it.

In the book, however, it is not water that Perran sets out to find… there is a new and different power line that he has to follow….

Read the first three chapters free in PDF form here

Here’s the blurb…

Divining the Line

The first time it happened it felt like stumbling across another avenue to an ancient monument, but this one pulled at more than just his head, there was a tightness in his chest, the lights twinkled and flashed inside his mind, the intensity giving Perran a firework of a headache.

Following the line – years later in the early nineties – leads him into Liz Hawkey’s ordered life, and together they discover the source of the line.

A story of family, love and loss, Divining the Line brings the ordinary and the extraordinary together into everyday life.


(84,000 words in 20 chapters)




The first Novel now available on

Now you must understand that this isn’t my first novel, the first will probably never be distributed, but this is the first to be available to the public in many e forms, as Mobi for the Kindle users, in EPUB for the SONY readers and NOOK and as a PDF for anyone else – I guess.

The novel is called Nothing Ever Happens Here and would, (if it was forced to – see my blog about genres) be in the crime and possibly the romance sections. The blurb reads:

Living in London suddenly becomes too uncomfortable for the attractive Jo Smart and her sixteen year-old son, Alex, after he is beaten up, so when they are offered the chance to take an immediate holiday in a peaceful Cornish town they jump at it. But not all is as peaceful as it seems as they become involved in a murder enquiry, drug raid and abduction.

DI Rick Whittington has also escaped from London and the reminders of the death of his wife and child, and through his investigations finds himself meeting Jo and being drawn into the events surrounding her.

This is a love story set in the early 1990s which combines the historic Cornish love of the sea and smuggling with hard faced twentieth century crime and detection.

So take a look – you can read the first three chapters free as a pop-up PDF * HERE *


More Port Eliot Festival …..

Wow! What a great festival… the weather gave showers for the Friday but they soon cleared, and I ended up leaving my wellies in the car and favouring sandals all day.  So, if you’ve never been to Port Eliot Festival you have to know that most recently it was a Literary Festival with a wild past (known as Elephant Fayre in the 80s) that has now matured into a brilliant all round, family friendly festival, something for everyone, everyone pretty laid back and in such beautiful surroundings.

There is plenty of the literary festival still there with readings, discussions, interviews etc but is combined with music, to suit many tastes, wild swimming, cinema both in the house and at night down by the river, fashion, flower arranging, poetry, food from small Cornish frozen yoghurt business to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, cookery demonstrations, bars, comedy, cabaret, stalls, a whole area just for children to enter into a fantasy land of making  playing play acting, dressing up and doing wonderful stuff, wandering musicians, jugglers and dancers. Dovegreyreader (blog-site) even had a tent where you could sit while she did interviews and you could knit, should you wish to.

What did I notice… well people always dress a little differently when at Port Eliot (especially if they’ve visited the Fashion tent) and the stalls selling weird and wonderful hats, (vintage and modern) and the same in clothes attract a lot of people who obviously arrived and only then realised people treat the place like a big fancy dress event. Me? Well I went wearing one of my belly dance coin belts, over layered skirt and wrap and jingled my way about…. part of my reading included words describing a belly dance and so it was also a prop! Secondly… as I said the weather really didn’t need wellies…yet all through so many people were wearing their wellies (all sorts – multi-coloured to standard green or black)… even on the stage, as did Kate Winslet when she read to the children from Mr Gum … perhaps they didn’t bring any other footwear … it being a festival and all.

Our reading in the round room went well with nearly a capacity audience – everyone in bare or stockinged feet in there as have  to take your boots off at the door …. can’t wait for next year!


Port Eliot Festival and Poetry

I’ve wanted to write a page on Poetry, but you know it has a funny effect on people. I suppose it is from forced poetry at school or something, but to me poetry has a life of its own. I know it has pursued me from about the age of nine when I realised that you could not only learn poems but you could also write stuff that had rhythm and rhyme. I blame my mother… though that should be praise, she could, and would, recite ‘The Lady of Shallot’, or great swathes of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ off by heart. I learnt large sections of these two and Cargoes and my long time favourite GK Chesterton’s Rolling English Road.

Poetry has got me a free weekend ticket to the Port Eliot festival these last 3 years.. that’s amazing enough. What is even better this is because we perform at this festival and people who are not related to us, nor are our friends, come and listen! How magic is that!

This year we took as our theme Elephants, from the crest of the Lords of St Germans (who own the Port Eliot estate) and Castles.

We perform in the Round room, an acoustic gem where if you stand under the central chandelier there is no need of amplification, and which is painted all round by the late Robert Lenkiewicz in a weird and wonderful montage.


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