It’s publication day for Evie’s Little Black Book by Hannah Pearl and here’s my review…


Is hunting down every man you’ve kissed the answer to finding Mr Right?
When Evie is invited to the wedding of the guy she’d fancied throughout her teens, it’s the final straw. What’s wrong with her and why can’t she keep a man?
In between consoling herself with ice cream and chocolate, and sobbing her heart out to her cousin Chamaine, Evie has a brainwave – and it all centres around her ‘little black book’ (well, more floral patterned notebook really) – which contains the details of every man she’s ever kissed or dated. Perhaps the cure for her disastrous love life has been nestled within its pages all along …
Does Evie’s little black book really hold the answers, or will she learn that exes are exes for a reason?

A fun heart-warming story that’s perfect for the beach or the garden from this award-winning new author.

Hannah Pearl won the Books and the City Heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with Heat magazine in 2017 for her short story The Last Good Day.

Kindle UK:
Kindle US:







Evie’s brother’s best friend George is getting married, sending Evie into meltdown.  He’s the one guy she had a mega-crush on during her teens but never got to go out on a date with.  Now he’s about to tie the knot with someone else.  The approaching wedding sees her taking stock of all her past relationships. She has written about them in detail in her ‘little black book’ (actually a pretty floral notebook).  By revisiting each of her old loves, she hopes to be able to see where she went wrong and how she might be able to change her luck with men in the future and maybe find ‘Mr Right.’

The first ex on her list grew up just around the corner from where she lives but now the house is occupied by Jake, who is living there with his sister Bea and her small daughter Alice.  Evie arrives in the middle of a domestic crisis in the kitchen and she’s only too happy to help Jake and Alice out.  She befriends Jake and his family, enjoying their company as she continues to revisit her past and catch up with old flames.  However, it’s soon clear that maybe happy ever after is right in front of her if she will only open her eyes.

A delightful romantic  debut and super summer read…I absolutely loved it!

Many thanks to Choc Lit/Ruby Fiction for an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.


This week Tuesday Talk chats to Sue McDonagh, about Art, Writing and her choice of Dinner Guests…

Hi Sue and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hi Jo, and thanks for the warm welcome! I live at the bottom edge of Wales, about a mile from the sea, where I moved over thirty years ago after surviving ovarian cancer. At that time, I was a policewoman in industrial Essex, so it represented not only a change of scenery, but also of culture, as I became instant mum to two little boys!

When did you decide to become a writer and how did you begin that journey?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but the journey towards novelist began when I learned to ride a motorbike, aged 52. My steep learning curve, and the amazing women I met during that time was the catalyst for the idea behind ‘Summer at the Art Café’. The idea refused to go away, and the novel began life as NaNoWriMo in 2014. Don’t laugh, I was enthusiastic and naive, and most surprised to discover how difficult it was to write a novel! I read books about how to write, and wrote my quota in the evenings until I had my 50,000 words. It was mostly pretty awful, but I learned such a lot.

As an artist what is the most unusual commission you’ve received?

I’ve had some funny commissions. I’ve been asked to paint a man in a tutu (I turned that one down…) and some years back, another guy asked for a portrait of himself for his wife. I had no idea he wanted a nude until he started stripping off in my studio. I’d taken a dozen photos before I remembered I had no film in the camera…

Now that Summer at the Art Café has been published what is next for you?

The second in the trilogy is already written and under contract, and I’m currently working on the third. They’re still set very much on the Welsh coast, and family issues like step-children and the modern extended family feature largely.

What destination is top of your bucket list?

Anywhere I can go on my motorbike! Although I loved Thailand when I visited after the terrible tsunami, and I’d like to return to see how the country has healed.

What would your advice be to new writers?

Just get those words down. I’m terrible at taking my own advice though, and I can spend way too long fretting about plot threads that go nowhere. Somehow, when you actually get the words down, they start to make sense. It’s a sort of magical alchemy that never stops surprising me.

And finally, you’re planning a dinner and inviting celebrity guests. Which four (dead or alive) would you invite and why?

Aw, I’d love to have met the wonderful Robin Williams. I’m not very impressed by showbiz type celebrities in general, so I’d probably have a great evening with some of my amazing friends, and my late parents, particularly my mum who died last year and was my biggest inspiration.

Amazon link:


From watercolours and cupcakes to leather jackets and freedom …
If you won a gorgeous purple motorbike, and your domineering husband said you were too fat for leathers and should sell it, would you do as you were told – or learn to ride it in secret?

Artist and café owner Lucy Daumier intends to do just that – but learning to ride is far from easy, especially under the critical eye of prickly motorcycle instructor, Ash Connor.

But gradually Lucy gets the hang of it, and in the process re-discovers the girl she used to be. So starts an exciting summer of new friendships and fun – as well as a realisation that there is more to Ash than meets the eye when she is introduced to his seven-year-old daughter, Daisy.

But can Lucy’s new-found happiness last when a spiteful family member wants to see her fail?

What people are saying about Summer at the Art Cafe:
My favourite book this year! Initially the beautiful illustration on the cover made me smile and I soon realised that I had picked the ideal complement to enjoying the sunshine in the garden. I loved this book and the evolving story which developed around the characters, who in the main you could not help but warm to. ~ Amazon reader.

This book is an impressive debut novel, with all the right ingredients for that perfect summer read. ~Amazon reader.

Delicious from beginning to end. I’m not in the slightest bit surprised that Sue McDonagh is an artist as well as a writer. I have rarely read a book where the author so skilfully paints pictures in your head with such vivid colour and description that it all becomes so very real. ~ Amazon reader

A Year to Remember Part 3…

Home is where you feel comfortable, where you can relax with all the familiar things around you.  Waking up on Saturday May 26th I realised I might be home but my daily routine was going to be completely different.  True I was no longer in hospital  being woken up at 5.30 am but I was now sleeping in the spare room because I needed the whole of the bed in order to sleep with my new best friend, my plaster.  Thankfully I’d now rewired my brain so that it favoured my left leg instead of my right.  There was no way I was going to forget and accidentally put weight on it and end up back in hospital.

My husband organised my breakfast and laid out clothes for me. The walking frame enabled me to get to the bathroom and then he helped me into the chair where I sat at the basin to brush teeth and wash.  I could then slip from that onto my good leg and balance on the walker again to get back to the bedroom to dry my hair and dress.  I stayed upstairs until lunch time reading or working on the computer.  I then bumped my way downstairs on my backside and the walker was transferred to the hallway so I could pick it up when I reached the bottom.  All the cooking and housework (apart from the ironing which I managed sitting down) became the responsibility of my husband and I have to say he was absolutely brilliant.  Having lived on his own he could cook, which was a blessing – and he is incredibly organised.  After lunch I’d stay in the lounge and watch TV or read.  I also had a steady stream of visitors and so many flowers! It was to prove a very frustrating time though because I like to be active. I like to go out and with your right leg in plaster and supported by a walker, what you can do is incredibly limited. I had to cancel a hair appointment, the dentist and I also missed out on a friend’s milestone birthday lunch.  My own milestone birthday had attracted a lot of invites from girlfriends wanting to take me out.  All of these had to be put on hold.  Our weekly trip to the pub also had to be postponed for the time being.  Luckily my sister had, through a neighbour clearing out their father’s house, managed to get hold of a wheelchair.  It was an absolute godsend as it not only became useful for the hospital visits to come, it opened the door into that outside world; a place where I could enjoy a meal and a glass of wine!

Eleven days after the op I had my first appointment at the fracture clinic to have my 20180624_122732stitches out and another x-ray.  The consultant seemed pleased with the result and I was sent off to the plaster room for plaster No 4.  I had to keep this on for five weeks to give the ankle time to heal.  As you’re all aware we’ve had a scorching summer this year and having your leg stuck in a plaster is no joke when the temperature soars. By the time the five weeks was up I couldn’t wait to get rid of this uncomfortable, heavy wrapping around my leg.  During that time nothing much much progressed around my mobility.  We were getting out for meals, friends were calling round but I was generally housebound. However, on my next clinic visit I had been told if all was well I’d be fitted with an orthopaedic boot which would enable me to put weight on the ankle and walk.  For me that day couldn’t come quickly enough.  I’d seen these boots and in my mind I thought this would be the beginning of normality – unfortunately not.  It was merely the next step of the journey.

20180702_180950I take a size 3 (35) in shoes. The boot was labelled ‘small’ but believe me, it was enormous.  I called it my Darth Vadar boot because it looked like something out of Star Wars.  It was heavy and because of the depth of the sole and the support for the foot there was no way I could walk upright.  My first tentative steps up and down the clinic were quite painful but gradually got better as I progressed with it.

On the positive side I managed to wean myself off the walker and use a walking stick which made me much more mobile.  I also managed to get to another birthday lunch, hobbling into the restaurant, trying to reduce the black unattractiveness of this boot with a summer dress and failing miserably.  Again this was through a period of hot weather and the boot was so uncomfortable that whenever we went anywhere – pub, restaurant or a friend’s house, I would release all the Velcro strips and allow my leg access to fresh air.

When the boot was fitted I was advised there would also be physio sessions.  Hearing nothing after a week I chased up appointments only to discover they had mislaid my application.  However, this was soon rectified and when I began those sessions that was the moment I knew I was on the way to getting back to normal  The exercises gradually began to make changes, to loosen joints which had not only spent six weeks without any movement but had also been the subject of quite a serious operation.  Two sessions in I abandoned the boot. I found a pair of sandals which fitted both feet,  began to take daily walks (with the aid of the walking stick), and could walk up and downstairs (very carefully I might add!). Four sessions in and I’ve taken back responsibility for the cooking and absolute bliss! can get into the bath to take a shower.  It’s a gradual thing, each day brings changes, something I can do that I couldn’t do, say, a week ago.  Currently I have six different exercises which I have to repeat four times a day.  I’m under no illusions that this is going to be a quick fix, but you can see the difference.  My foot, which was quite swollen when I was fitted with the boot, is almost back to normal size. My skin has stopped flaking – yes, even with the daily application of body lotion that’s one of the side effects of having your foot and leg sealed in plaster for six weeks.  I’m continuing to use body lotion on the scarred areas to make the skin more supple and I also use Bio Oil which helps minimise scarring.  My right leg will probably never be the same – I’ve a 2 inch scar over my inner ankle bone and a 5 inch over the outer one.  There are aches and pains occasionally but this is to be expected and will probably go on for a long time, if not indefinitely.  I’m still using the stick but more for balance than anything else and once I get going I don’t really need it.  I promised my physio that when I next see her I will come without it!

So that’s it, not quite the end but well on my way to getting my full mobility back. No marathons planned or moments dancing in stilettos…and in future I’ll be very careful about where I put my feet.  Of course, walking is only half the story, now it’s all about increasing the distance I can walk. Again this is something that will take time and determination to bring about.  A friend of ours who had a knee op two years ago said it took him a whole year to get back to normal.  At least with this time frame I have realistic expectations.

I would like to end this story of my journey out of the land of broken bones by saying that all through my hospital stay and outpatients visits I received the most amazing care.  The NHS is a wonderful organisation filled with dedicated people who not only give you outstanding clinical support, but also make you laugh and keep your spirits up.  Another thing is that treatment is free at the point of delivery. In other words my stay in hospital, the op, the ambulance trip home after discharge, the outpatient clinics and physio didn’t cost me a penny.  The NHS isn’t perfect but as Brits I think we should be really thankful it’s there for us.

THE AFFAIR by SHERYL BROWNE – A gripping psychological thriller with a shocking TWIST


The moment she opened her eyes, she knew everything had changed. The stale taste of alcohol; her uneasy stomach. She looked at her husband sleeping peacefully, and knew she would never tell anyone what happened last night.

You will think you know what happened to Alicia that night.

You will see a desperate wife, lying to her husband.

You will watch a charming lover, trying to win her back.

You will judge her, just like everyone else.

You will assume you know what happens next. But everything you think you know about the past, the relationships, what drives Alicia and her husband to lie… is wrong.

If you loved The Girl on the Train, The Wife Between Us and The Sister, you’ll love this compelling and gripping psychological thriller from Sheryl Browne. The Affair will have you hooked from the very first page!

Buy Links:



What readers are saying about The Affair:

‘Wow… I’m speechless… it is just that amazing… seriously stop reading this review and just buy the book… I was so gripped by this that I read it in record time, and even when I paused for a break, my mind was still on it… This is addictive, compulsive book that has blown me away… Clear yourself a few hours where you can lock yourself away from the real world… simply superb!’ Rachel’s Random Reads

‘Wow!!! I was totally taken away with this book from page one. A real page turner. Go 1-click this book today, you won’t regret it. So many twists and turns.’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘This was a really, really good book… twists on twists!… The ending was awesome!!!!!’ Goodreads Reviewer

‘Great read!!!…Wow! Just as you think everything is settled, it isn’t!!! This book is not to be missed! Recommend!!!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘Wow!! I read this book in just a weekend!!… I read it so fast!! If you like psychological thrillers, you should definitely pick this one up! :)’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘Wow!… The Affair is a hugely addictive book … A compelling story with dark and chilling moments, and it will have you gripped to the pages. A definite 5 star read.’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘The story starts with a big shock, BAM, in your face and it carries on from there until the very last sentence… I LOVED it, a great read, told in this author’s special easy to read style that brings you in and keeps you there.’ Goodreads Reviewer

‘Expect the unexpected, don’t try to predict the many twists and turns (you’ll NEVER guess the ending) and get the tissues ready.’ Goodreads Reviewer

‘One hell of a bang… This book really plays with the emotions, there are times when I empathised with the main character but hated her. There were other times when I hated what she was doing but loved her. I really liked it.’ Nigel Adams Bookworm

‘An unputdownable read. I loved that I had no idea what the author had in store next for me.’ By the Letter Book Reviews, 5 stars

‘It’s an enthralling story that keeps your attention all the way through with an interesting twist to add even more spice.’ B for Book Review, 5 stars

‘The secrets and the family drama throughout this book. I couldn’t put the book down, it’s just so good.’ Goodreads Reviewer

‘A suspenseful thriller with a flipping twist at the ending.’ Escape With a Book

‘Sheryl Browne is an author whose work I will watch out for from now on! It starts off with a bang and never quite lets up… the story gripping and emotional. Recommended!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘A compelling psychological thriller… Let’s just say that there are many twists and secrets and lies aplenty… pulls you into the story and holds you there until the end!’ Goodreads Reviewer


Sheryl Browne is well known for delivering edge of the seat stories and The Affair is no exception. Justin and Alicia Cole are a happily married couple with a fifteen year old daughter (Sophie) and a six month old son (Lucas). As the family reels from a devastating RTA, the return from Dubai of Paul Bradley – an old work colleague of Alicia’s – lead Justin to question exactly why he always seems to be around. Has something gone on in the past between him and Alicia he knows nothing about?
Soon suspicion and doubt begin to worm their way into the marriage of two people trying to cope on a day to day basis after experiencing an unthinkable tragedy. We’ve become used to Sheryl’s twists and turns, of putting her main characters into the most unbelievably stressful situations from which as a reader, you can’t see any way out of. For the amount of physical and mental pain Justin experienced he more than earned his hero title. With Bradley’s arrival and the revelations he brings with him, plus danger from a source closer to home, I wondered how Justin could possibly come out of this holding onto his sanity. Bradley too is an absolute masterpiece. Maybe he’s not the psychopath we’ve been used to in Sheryl’s other books but he’s just as destructive.
Fabulous! Another well-deserved five star read.



Sheryl Browne brings you powerful psychological thriller and contemporary fiction. Sheryl’s latest psychological thriller THE AFFAIR – the second of a three-book deal – comes to you from fabulous BOOKOUTURE. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and previously writing for award winning Choc Lit, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

So why does Sheryl write in two genres? Quoting E. L. Doctorow, Sheryl says: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights…” This she thinks sums up a writer’s journey, you never quite know where you are going until you get there. You might start with an outline, but a strong character will always divert from the plot. If Sheryl’s not sure where a character is going, she simply has to trust him to show her the way. Plus, according to one reviewer, she also has a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath.

To find out more about Sheryl’s novels, go to or follow @SherylBrowne on Twitter.

To find out more about Sheryl, go to

A Year to Remember Part 2…

So there I was, expecting to be replastered and sent home, only to be told you’re being admitted and having an operation.

I was wheeled up to the Surgical Short Stay Unit where I was given a private room. This was to isolate me from the other patients as I’d just returned from abroad.  I was told I would need to be swabbed to check I’d not brought anything like MRSA back with me.  The first thing I did was make a list of things I’d need during my stay and send my husband back home to collect them.  Once I had those I settled myself in and he left saying he’d call back that evening.   I read for most of the afternoon while various members of staff looked in on me.  I only had a sandwich for lunch – not surprisingly after the events of the morning my appetite had fled.   Before being taken up to the ward, the consultant’s registrar had gone through everything.  I’d listened and understood all I was being told  – that I had a trimalleolar break, meaning not one but three fractures which would need to be pinned.  I’d signed the form attached to the clipboard but I have to say everything seemed so surreal, as if it was happening to someone else not me.  After my husband’s evening visit once more my Kindle helped me pass the time. Although being told the noise and movement from the machine clipped to the foot of the bed and working like a pair of bellows on the pad in my plaster might keep me awake,  I had a great night’s sleep .

I had no idea that in hospital they wake you up at five thirty.  Because it was late May and was light outside I automatically thought it must be around seven.  There were tablets to take and my breakfast to order. A health care assistant came in to change the bed and help me get into the ensuite bathroom for a wash. My lack of appetite continued and all I could manage was juice and toast for breakfast. Later that morning my consultant arrived with his team.  As I wasn’t someone in for elective surgery, they were hoping to fit me in that day which meant no more food from now on and no more fluids from 11.30.  Someone drew an arrow in marker pen over my right knee and they left.  My husband visited mid morning and then for the rest of the day I read. Various members of staff popped in and out and then around 15.00 the anaesthetist arrived to explain the op was on and what would happen.  Before I left for the operating theatre I had to have a CT scan to check my heel bone wasn’t out of alignment.  Soon after my return from x-ray the porters arrived to wheel me to theatre.  As I arrived I noticed the clock on the wall said 15.55. After inserting the cannula into the back of my hand the anaesthetist told me he was going to put what he called a block into the back of my leg behind the knee.  This would automatically dispense an analgesic into my bloodstream for the first 24 hours after the operation. He then injected into the cannula, telling me it would make me feel as if I’d had a couple of glasses of wine.  It did…I felt totally relaxed!  The last thing I remember was being wheeled into the theatre and seeing all these faces wearing masks looking down at me.

Someone was calling my name. I opened my eyes and found myself in bed propped up against pillows in what I realised must be the recovery area.  A nurse sat next to me. The clock on the wall was showing 18.55.  My leg had been re-plastered but I had no sense of pain or discomfort so the analgesic was obviously doing its job. She asked me a few questions which I realised were to make sure my brain was functioning OK.  Eventually two porters arrived to take me back to the ward where my husband was waiting.  I always believed when you come around from an op that you’d be drowsy but I wasn’t. I was wide awake – and  starving!  After he’d gone a health care assistant came in and although I’d missed the evening meal she organised three rounds of toast and jam.  It was like a banquet – I had no idea something so simple could taste so good!  Again I slept well with the bonus I was no longer coupled to that air pump wheezing away at the foot of the bed!

The next morning the consultant and his team arrived and I was told I would be discharged that afternoon.  Someone from the Home Care Team arrived to talk to me about home aids and after a discussion it was decided I’d need four items in order to help me get around the house.  As access to our downstairs loo, which is off the utility, was considered difficult and I was told getting up and down stairs on my backside would wear me out, I very, very reluctantly accepted a commode.  However I was forced to admit after a few days at home that she was right; pulling myself upstairs backwards using my hands was pretty tiring – in fact at times it was downright exhausting.  She left me with a walker and said physios would arrive later to make sure I could use it OK.  After a tour of the ward they seemed happy and left. So now it was all about waiting to be discharged.

Just before six the ambulance crew arrived.  At last, me and my discharge medication were going home.  Little did I know the challenges that awaited me there, but that’s for the next and final instalment.


A Year to Remember Part One…

Since May this year I have on occasions posted comments about my accident, mostly on Facebook.  This has been to update everyone on how the healing process is going.  I also wanted to put my thoughts onto my blog not only to catalogue this very unexpected journey but also in the hope that it might help anyone else finding themself in the land of broken bones.  In that one moment the world you knew no longer exists; that easy way of putting one foot in front of another; of running, climbing or jumping has gone, replaced by challenges you can’t even begin to contemplate.

P1030792May seems a lifetime away now. A milestone birthday beckoned. Our holiday in Menorca, staying at a friend’s villa had been arranged way back in October 2017.  I had been on countdown since after Christmas.  Things were chugging along and on the writing front in February I had submitted the completed draft of my latest WIP The Boys of Summer to a publisher.  May seemed to arrive all too quickly and having stayed in Menorca back in 2011 I was looking forward to reacquainting myself with the island.  We landed on Tuesday 15th and our first two full days were hot and overcast.  The villa had one first floor bedroom with a sun terrace above and two downstairs bedrooms.  Our friends took the upstairs room and we took one downstairs – which was just as well bearing in mind what was to come. On the evening of 17th May we returned from dinner in Mahon and I checked my phone only to discover a message from the publisher asking me to get in touch.  They wanted to publish my book!  What a fabulous present I thought, coming the day before my birthday.  I felt really positive and looked forward to the next day, sure this was a good sign there would be a lot of good things coming my way during the coming year.

On 18th May (my birthday) we drove to Ciutadella on the western side of the island, did


some shopping, wandered the streets and had lunch.  On the way back we stopped off and walked down to a small cove and I remember picking my way very carefully over the uneven, rocky pathway. The last thing I wanted to do was injure myself!P1030855

A couple of hours later I was showered, dressed and ready to go out for my celebratory meal.  Anything  valuable was kept in the safe upstairs in our friends’ bedroom.  I needed a bracelet and so I walked upstairs to get it.  As I returned, and stepped off the last stair, my foot came down awkwardly on a coconut mat lying on the dining room floor.  Everything happened so quickly. One moment I was upright, the next flat on my back on the floor. I rolled over and my husband and his friend were there immediately, helping me up. My foot was already very puffy and they were talking sprain, but as soon as I tried to stand it was clear I had done far more damage than that.

The evening which had started out so well, was now in tatters.  The men headed off to the nearest pharmacy, returning with a can of cooling spray and an elasticated ankle support.  We ordered a takeaway from the local bistro and the bubbly stayed in the fridge probably because celebration was the last thing on our minds.  Everyone hoped by the next day I’d at least be hobbling about. Unfortunately I wasn’t.

Saturday morning we drove to Mahon Hospital Emergency Department where an x-ray revealed a fractured Mahon Hospital 1ankle.  They fitted me with an open plaster which would enable me to fly home safely and I was told to go to my local Emergency Department as soon as I arrived back.  Tuesday it appeared was within the time frame to do this so I didn’t need to cut the holiday short. I was given three lots of discharge medication, including Clexane, which I had to inject into my tummy each day to prevent blood clotting. Luckily I’m not squeamish but until I got the hang of it, my efforts resulted in a series of  bruises which looked like a bad attempt at tattooing.  The doctor in ED also told me the plaster was non weight bearing and I should keep the leg off the floor. I now realise if you’re going to break any part of your lower limb then it should be on the left side.  I soon discovered my brain is wired up to tell my right leg it needs to go to the floor.  My left leg, well OK it’s there but only as a support act.  Yes, in those first few hours I really had to think every time I attempted to move but gradually I began to successfully block out my right leg and use my left.  The last thing I wanted to do was inflict more damage on my ankle and end up as an in-patient.

On arrival back at the villa I contacted the insurance company, who had already been notified of my planned visit to Emergency Department.  They were absolutely fabulous – a nurse spoke to me about the accident, what had happened in ED and also the discharge drugs they had given me.  Our flight details were taken and ambulance transport arranged to get me to the airport, with a mini bus pick up the other end.  They also bought extra seats on Easy Jet so I could travel back with my leg elevated.  We made the best of the next few days.  The ‘boys’ rented me crutches from the local pharmacy but being small I didn’t have enough strength in my shoulders to support myself.  So instead I got about the villa on my backside, pulling myself up either onto the bed, the loo or the couch in the lounge.   Yes, suddenly I had to rethink everything I did and some of the simplest tasks were like climbing Everest!  Having a shower was impossible – instead I used a plastic patio chair to balance on in front of the shower room wash basin.  Drying and tonging my hair wasn’t a problem nor was dressing as I could do this sitting on the bed.  Getting from the bedroom to the lounge I became quite proficient at scooting along the marble floors on my bum!  We did get out for meals, the men 20180522_163339helping me out to the MPV and into restaurants,  although of course it did limit where we ate. We had to keep to eateries with adjacent car parks and this usually meant outside the towns.  Sadly what I really missed were the places on the island we intended to visit – how wonderful it would have been to wander cobbled streets, stop for coffee or lunch and do what I love doing on holiday -taking photos.  For those few days between my visit to Mahon ED and flying home, we encouraged our friends to go out and explore and not miss out, while we spent our day lying by the pool.

Our return journey wasn’t without its glitches.  On our day of departure ambulance transport turned up 2 hours Taxi 2early.  We were in the middle of lunch which meant a bit of a scrabble around to check everything was packed before leaving. Arriving at the airport we were whisked through check in and soon in the departure lounge where we were eventually joined by our friends. Any hope of a speedy flight home was dashed, however, when we had to suffer a two and a half hour delay due to the French Air Traffic Controllers’ industrial action.  Having left the villa at 12.50 that day, we finally reached home just before midnight. Totally exhausted I fell into bed and slept like a baby.

The next morning we drove to our local hospital Emergency Department.  They removed the plaster, x-rayed me, confirmed the ankle was broken and then wheeled me to the plaster room.  As the two technicians were ’embalming’ my leg I noticed they had slipped a small inflatable pad under the ball of my foot.  A clear tube protruded up from the left side and of course I wanted to know what it was for. ‘It’s attached to a machine which regularly inflates and deflates it to help the swelling go down’ I was told. ‘Oh,’ I nodded, ‘Does that mean I’m going to take this equipment home with me then?’ All was revealed as the Senior Nurse in ED poked her head around the cubicle curtain obviously having heard our conversation. ‘Oh you’re not going home,’ she said, ‘I’ve just found you a bed, you’re being admitted….’



Tuesday Talk catches up with writer John Jackson and chats about writing, desert island ‘must haves’ and…hedgehogs. York Photographer Rob Cook FBIPP FMPA QEP covers weddings portraits and commercial assignments across Yorkshire and the North East in Leeds Harrogate Selby Malton Tadcaster John and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

I was born and brought up in South Manchester, before taking to a life at sea. Since then, I’ve lived all over the world, from the Solomon Islands to the Falklands, Cyprus, Holland and the Isle of Man.
Now my long-suffering wife and I have dropped anchor in York. Retirement has meant turning my hand to writing historical fiction, ( with a strong romantic thread.)
I have spent many years researching my family tree and I found a lively lot of ruffians, rogues and chancers, all of whom are conveniently dead, so they can’t sue, and who make great subjects to write about.
My first novel, Heart of Stone, was published in October 2017 by Crooked Cat Books. I am now working on another historical romance, with the next generation of ancestors.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer and what were the first steps you took towards this?

I bumped into a couple of authors a few years ago, and, as I got to know them, they rekindled an old longing I had had before. I had written animal stories – think sub-Beatrix Potter – for my kids when they were growing up. Now, thanks to retirement giving me the time and freedom to try it – and thanks to the pressure from my new writing friends – I was able to really “give it a go”

Heart of Stone, your debut novel had its foundations in historical fact. Are you planning to continue with this theme or would you be tempted to write something different – say crime or psychological thriller?

At the moment, I’ve got so much historical material available, its almost an embarrassment of riches. I’ve always loved historical fiction, and it would seem madness not to use it.

Your bio states ‘hedgehog wrangler’. It’s clear from your FB posts that you have a love of these small prickly creatures. What made you begin observing and feeding them and what other wildlife visitors come into your garden?

We were delighted when we saw the first one in our garden, four years ago. We started putting food out for him – the original Mr Snuffles, and he kept coming, and suddenly we found ourselves feeding several every night.
We never know how many are going to wake from hibernation, but there has been enough each year to keep us amused. We love having them. It means we can legitimately leave the garden to grow a little bit wild. That suits us too.

What would your advice be to new writers?

Just three words. DON’T GIVE UP!
You need to have faith in what you are doing, and you need to recognise that writing is a craft, and a craft we all must learn. Keep on writing, though, and keep on learning, and – sooner or later – you will make it.
It is SO worth it when you do. There is absolutely nothing quite like holding your first book in your hands.

And finally, you’re planning a year on a desert island, getting away from everything. What four essentials would you take with you and why?

Hmm….. Not just a record player and 8 records then?

Well, if it’s allowed, I would take my laptop, because its got my library on it, plus all my music, plus all my photos.
I would want to take my main cooking knife. I do a LOT of cooking.
An unlimited supply of paper and pencils, of course, so I can keep on writing.
A pillow! I do like to lay my head down in comfort at night.





Twitter: @jjackson42




Cover - HOS


A family riven by jealousy and love.

A story of the three Rochfort brothers, Robert, Arthur, and George, and Ireland at its most oppressed. Of passion and greed and the overarching power of love.

This is Empire at its most unfortunate. Here we have recruiting officers, press gangs seeking soldiers from the impoverished Catholic peasantry to swell the English army engaged in the War of Spanish Succession, famine, Dublin Castle, balls, country and city, a hideous debtor’s prison and importantly the disparity between wealth and poverty.



Hi Anne and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

13782168_10154428554478623_4327404551544975153_n-3Hi Jo, and thank you so much for inviting me to join you today – I always enjoy your Tuesday Talk interviews, and it was lovely to be asked to do one! I’ve lived in the beautiful Yorkshire market town of Wetherby for 25 years now, but I’m originally from a village near Bangor in North Wales (and people tell me I still have the accent!). I worked as a civil servant (DWP) for more years than I want to remember – project management, marketing and communications – but was lucky enough to be offered early retirement four years ago. My plan was to spend my time doing all the things I most enjoy, and I do – but I also care for my 92 year old mum who has vascular dementia.

You run a very busy review blog ‘Being Anne’. When did you first begin as a reviewer and what made you decide to make it a full time occupation?

Not quite a full time occupation, but reading has always been my passion – nowadays it’s the way I escape from life’s realities, and I love every moment. I’ve reviewed the books I read for as long as I can remember, and started my blog just over five years ago, when I was still working – but really it was just so that I could keep my reviews in one place, and I never expected anyone else to read it. When I retired – and 220,000 post views later – I thought it might be nice to step it up a little. I taught myself the IT skills, bought my own web domain, and moved everything across to WordPress – and when I relaunched, I was quite astonished when #BeingAnne trended on Twitter. I’m taking a little break at the moment, but usually post six days a week, sometimes more than one post a day, and have over 8000 followers.

I now also have a page on Facebook, I tweet about my posts, and share those from people I know to help them get a larger audience. I always copy my reviews to Amazon too, and that really makes a difference for authors – I’m a Top 500 reviewer there. And I’ve been particularly delighted to win the Best Pal Blog Award at the Annual Bloggers’ Bash for three years running. The blogging community I’m part of is a constant delight, and I’ve also made so many real friends among the authors it’s been my pleasure to feature. Blogging has helped my social life too, and I travel regularly to book related events – and I’m lucky to be invited to some of the very best launches and parties!

When you are approached with a request for a review or to join a book tour, how do you decide whether to accept or not?

I’ve developed a bit of a sixth sense now about books I’m likely to enjoy, and I’m rarely disappointed – if I get it wrong, you won’t read about them on Being Anne. I’ve grown out of chick lit a little, and I’m a bit selective about crime or thrillers. I particularly like women’s fiction, and particularly look for older characters and issues I can identify with. I tend to read books that are independently published more than those from the big publishers – authors find it so difficult to get their books noticed, and it gives me such a lot of pleasure to be able to help a little. I do sometimes join blog tours for books I haven’t been able to read – a feature, interview or guest post – but the books do need to be ones I’d like to read if only I could find the time.

Have you ever been tempted to write?

When I first retired, writing was actually my plan. I signed up for some writing courses, thought I might try NaNoWriMo – then family issues intervened, and I’ve never managed to get going again. If I really wanted to write, I guess I’d find the time – and I’m not sure I have the creative imagination it takes. Never say never, but for now I’m happy to leave it to all those other authors who do it so well.

Beach or city girl? Where are your favourite holiday destinations and why?

travels-3Ah, holidays – other than reading, travel is my other real passion. I’m not really content lying on a beach any more, and I love long haul holidays, the more exotic the destination and the more to see, the better. I’ve been to some of the most wonderful places – seen the sun rise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia, walked on the Great Wall of China, spent early mornings on rivers in Borneo to see the wildlife, watched whales at Hermanus in South Africa, rafted under the Iguazu Falls (and flown over them in a helicopter), cried at the majesty of Macchu Pichu, seen the glorious sunset from a junk on Vietnam’s Halong Bay. Just at the moment, I can’t plan any new adventures because of my caring responsibilities, but I do have the most wonderful memories to sustain me – and a long list of other destinations I hope I’ll still be able to get to before age or infirmity make me unable to do so.

What Advice Would You Give to Newbie Writers

I can only give advice from a blogger’s perspective, but I’d always urge new writers to put a little effort into building a network of contacts who can help them spread the word about their books. I receive so many emails from new authors looking for features and reviews, many of which I dismiss immediately – some haven’t even looked at my blog (I can tell!), call me by the wrong name, or ask me to read books that are many miles away from something I’d enjoy. I’d really recommend a presence on Twitter – not to ask for reviews, but to get to know reviewers and other authors, and to sell yourself rather than just your books. And I always urge new writers to join Book Connectors on Facebook (, full of authors, bloggers and small publishers, a great source of information and support and an excellent way of making those all-important contacts.

And finally, you are hosting a dinner party and can invite four celebrity guests (dead or living). Who would you choose and why?

Of all your questions, I found this one the most difficult to answer – as I mentioned, no creative imagination! After due consideration (and much head-scratching…) I’ll go for Dorothy Parker, Mae West, Oscar Wilde and Bette Davis – and then retreat to a safe distance…




IMG_0454I’m really pleased to be part of Lizzie’s blog tour for Girl in the Castle.  It’s a fabulous read and great that she’s been able to spare some of her valuable time to come along to chat…

Romantic novels by LIzzie Lamb - Copy (2)


Where did the inspiration for Girl in the Castle come from?

IMG_0181We were touring Scotland in our caravan and decided to travel as far north as Fort William. Rounding a bend, we saw cars double-parked in a layby and tourists taking photographs of the loch. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw Castle Stalker for the first time in all its glory. We pulled in to Castle Stalker View café and walked down to the side of the loch to get a better view. Something about the castle made shivers of excitement run down my spine – so solid, unexpected and unashamedly Scottish. As a writer of romance I was hooked. I discovered that the owner organised tours of the castle, and picked you up in his launch to take you to the castle. Well, colour me tartan! I hurriedly booked two places and the next day we enjoyed a two hour guided tour of the castle. You can imagine how my mind ran on – imagining a disgraced academic, hiding away from the world in the castle, falling in love with the impoverished laird. Castle Stalker became Castle Tèarmannair (meaning guardian) in my novel and the rest is history. I plan to return there this summer to make a live video of me reading extracts from Girl in the Castle with inspirational Castle Stalker in the background.

Taking you right back to the beginning, when you created Ruairi Urquhart in Tall, Dark and Kilted, did you propose to make all your future heroes Scottish? Or did that decision come afterwards?

I opened the story in Notting Hill because I’d been researching that area and was consciously looking for locations which would be familiar to readers around the world. After London/Notting Hill, Scotland, seemed an obvious choice. There are many Scottish ex-pats in the USA, Canada and Australia and I hoped they might buy the novel. Some publishers/agents told me that readers don’t like novels which change location a third of the way through, but sales of Tall, Dark and Kilted have contradicted that opinion and after almost six years it is still selling well. I was born in Scotland and this has had a great influence on my writing, so for me to write Scottish-themed romance is a no-brainer. My second novel Boot Camp Bride (set in Norfolk) did well, but my heart really is in the highlands so I’ve returned there for Scotch on the Rocks and Girl in the Castle. My next novel, currently being prepared for publication this summer, is set in Wisconsin. It involves a hundred and fifty year old feud between two families of Scottish descent: the Buchanans and the MacFarlanes and the hero/heroine are last of their ‘clan’ – can they bring the feud to an end? Read the novel and find out.

Who are your favourite authors and have any of them influenced your writing?

I’ve always been a great Jilly Cooper fan and was lucky to meet her recently and plucked 2018-03-06 12.39.40up enough courage to ask her to sign one of her novels for me. I love her rollicking rom com style. Looking back, I think her novel Emily has had the biggest influence on my development as a writer. (It’s partly set in Scotland so maybe, subconsciously, that’s what made me set my novel there.) I also enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s novels, my favourite being: Can You Keep a Secret . It’s so funny and taught me how to keep the reader turning the pages and, hopefully, wanting more. Looking around my book shelves I see many novels by Carole Matthews, Mary Wesley, Georgette Heyer and Barbara Erskine. I love history and would like to write a novel in the paranormal vein, one day.

If you had the opportunity to write something completely different, what would that be?

The answer to that would be historical fiction set in the time of the English Civil War. I have shelves groaning with books on the period and would write a time slip where the heroine (possibly a forensic archaeologist) is working on a battle site which is about to disappear beneath a new motorway. She finds a skeleton wrapped in modern-day clothing and wonders . . . how did that get there? Oh, now I want to write that novel and not the one I’ve plotted out for beginning after the summer holidays. Typical.

If you could relocate to any one place in the world where would it be, and why?

It’s a no-brainer for me – the answer would have to be Scotland. However, much as IIMG_5776-EFFECTS (Edited) adore Wester Ross I think I’d have to live on the slightly drier north east coast – Inverness or the Black Isle. It’s full of romance and the way the light changes and shifts over the lochs stirs something in my blood which I can’t explain. I’ve seen the perfect house. I found it when I was researching Holy Loch for Scotch on the Rocks so I’d have to move it stone by stone and rebuild it there. Inverness has an airport so I wouldn’t have to leave all my family and lovely friends behind and, in the summer months, I would organise writers’ holidays there. Also, there are fewer midges on that coast!

When you are writing what’s your criteria for a good hero?

IMG_7301He has to be someone I could fall in love with. A beta hero rather than Alpha Man. Once I’ve fallen in love with my hero the novel practically writes itself. I’m not interested in businessmen in suits, CEOs of large companies or Arab sheiks. I prefer photographers and free-lance reporters who have the skills and wit to survive in war zones. Men who can hold their own in the world they inhabit but have a tender side which the heroine encourages him to reveal as the novel unfolds. I quite like tortured or damaged hero, maybe haunted by the past; a man with demons to fight. I mean, who doesn’t adore Cormoran Strike in the Robert Galbraith novels? I quite like artistic heroes, too: playwrights/authors/artists etc. but not too fey, thank you very much. Above all, I love a laird in a castle, even an impoverished one. Someone who has to consider others; his tenants, employees, family. He has to care deeply for the heroine – even if, initially, they spend most of the time annoying the bejeezus out each other. They might argue, but the making up will be all the sweeter for that. Last but not least, my hero has to be a tender and considerate lover and be man enough to laugh (and cry) with my heroine.

And lastly, if you were holding a dinner party and could invite three celebrity guests (live or dead) who would they be, and why?

I’d invite funny, witty people who would enliven a dinner party with a well-delivered quip or phrase. For that reason I’d choose: Groucho Marx (king of the one liner); Victoria Wood (her scripts with their self-deprecating, deadpan humour are hilarious). Also, Billy Connelly. I saw Billy in concert many years ago and the stories he told about his Scottish childhood had a resonance for me. I laughed so much I thought I’d cracked a rib.







Good morning Susan and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hi Jo, and thanks for inviting me to your blog.
I live near the Hampshire coast, write historical romance, tinker on the piano, eat too many biscuits, and wonder why I feel twenty years younger than my reflection in the mirror.

When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?

For many years I wrote short stories for my enjoyment and to share with my weekly writing group. Then I started submitting stories (lots of them) to publishers. Back then, there was a woman’s magazine market for fiction where I constantly sent my offerings. When I finally had a story published in The People’s Friend, I thought – Yes! I can do this.
That first modest cheque kickstarted me into writing in earnest. It took another two years, a lot of frustration, knockbacks and rewriting before my first novel Rebellious Cargo, was accepted by a publisher. But it was worth it. Like most ventures if you really want something you will achieve it – just don’t give up.

Who are your favourite authors? Have they in any way influenced your writing?

The late Patrick O’Brian’s sea stories were responsible for my decision to base my novels against the backdrop of the Royal Navy at the time of the Napoleonic wars. Although his books are not of the romance genre, I adored his Aubery/Maturin series – all twenty of them. I loved the way he depicted how a ship’s community functioned. The friendships forged, the call to duty, and the politics of the day all played out with superbly crafted characters. Plus, some wonderful subtle humour.

Georgette Heyer and Mary Balogh are also great favourites of mine. The former for her authenticity of the period she writes. The way she portrays the wit, manners and conversations of the Regency drawing rooms is unrivalled.
I picked up a Mary Balogh book in a charity shop many years ago and from them I was hooked on Regency romance. I think I have read and enjoyed all her titles. The Bedwyn series of stories, are amongst my favourites.

Which destination is top of your bucket list and why?

I would love to hire a yacht (with a crew) and sail around the Pacific Islands. Also on my list are the Galapagos Islands, Alaska and Finland. I love peace, space and tranquillity. Wild, untouched landscapes fascinate me – which is probably why I always wanted to be an astronaut.

What makes a good heroine?

She must have her weaknesses. And she needs to make the reader care about her, even if her actions exasperate them at times.
I also think a good heroine should never be too predictable.
My heroines often step out of their comfort zones, and that ends up with them making a few alarming choices. I frequently feel like slapping them, but they always redeem themselves in the end.

Esmie Elstone does something very bad in the first chapter of Captain Rockford’s Reckoning.

Are you able to tell us a little about what you are working on at the moment?

The sequel to Captain Rockford’s Reckoning, which was published in April this year and follows the story of Esmie Elstone and her lifelong neighbour Richard Rockford. The book is about friendship, first love, betrayal and a secret betting book run under the guise of a sewing club. Needless to say, little embroidery was achieved.
My present, work in progress, takes up the story of Patience Wetherby;
already known to my readers as the shy member of the club.
Patience had been promised to Colonel Hemmings who is on his way back from war. She has only met him once, years ago, and remembers nothing good about the event. Patience has her own plans and flees London determined to lead a modest yet independent life. But Patience finds turning her back on society and the safety of marriage calls on all her skills to survive – even the ones she never knew she possessed.

And lastly, you are planning to take a year out and get away from everyone. What four essentials would you take with you and why?

Photo of the loved ones.
Notebook and pens to write the next best seller.
Kindle full of books I need to read. Or a very fat book if there is no internet.

 Author profile

Susan Lodge PicSusan Lodge was brought up with five brothers in the West of England and spent her formative years climbing trees and watching westerns. Leaving home, she headed for London and embarked on a career in the Civil Service, gaining a science degree along the way.
Over the years she has worked in several historic cities, where the streets still resonate with the Georgian period, providing a wealth of inspiration for her stories. Her romantic novels are often set against the backdrop of Nelson’s navy, and she always manages to inject a fair dose of humour into the plot.
Susan always wanted to be an astronaut but would now settle for a flight into space. She loves tinkering on her piano, perfecting her swing dance routines and discovering new destinations for her characters.
Married, with two children Susan now lives in Hampshire.

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Captain Rockford

Link to my latest release – Captain Rockford’s Reckoning

Amazon author page.
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