Today is the final in the current series of Life Playlists as the series takes a summer break –  with a planned return for the autumn.  Hope you enjoy Jackie’s selection:

1) Sigrid’s High Five. I first heard this track through my daughters playlist and I love it because it’s so upbeat – and if I play it loud while driving in the car, it makes me feel like a teenager again. Sigrid is such a lovely, unpretentious young lady that it warms my heart to listen to her.

2)True Colours: The Trolls version. It’s sung so beautifully by Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) and Justin Timberlake that it brings a tear to my eye. I keep asking my daughter to sing the Anna part while I sing the Justin part, but she’s having none of it.

3)One Direction: Wolves. Not embarrassed to say that I loved One Direction in their day. (well, I am a bit!). Went to see them in Birmingham (most stressful journey ever, going through the city at rush hour) Harry apologised to me ’cos he threw a bottle of water at the crowd and it hit my iPhone as I was trying to get a photo. We were right at the front. I was a bit star stuck, ’tis true. Bless those lovely boys!

4) Shallow Love by Gabrielle Aplin. he has such a pretty voice and it’s a lovely song –and best of all I can play it on my guitar ( just about.) I used to play the guitar as a teenager but have recently taken up lessons again. It‘s a small group and we usually spend ten minutes catching up with news, so don’t always get a lot of playing done, but hey, I have another reason to trawl eBay – looking for the perfect guitar!

5) Taylor Swift, the queen of the break up songs: All too Well is one of my all-time favourites because the words encompass the bittersweet memories of a break up so well, ‘So casually cruel in the name of being of being honest.’ Brilliant. She has such an incredible talent.




Is love powerful enough to cross the class divide?

When Daniel Davenport saves Maddie Lockett and her young brother Tom from drowning, an immediate bond is forged between them.
But Daniel is an aspiring doctor and son of a wealthy manufacturer, whilst Maddie is a potter’s daughter from a poverty-stricken area of the Potteries. Even a friendship between the two could be frowned upon, let alone anything more …
But Maddie and Daniel want more, and as they grow closer gossip and prejudice look set to spoil their blossoming romance. Do the young couple stand a chance when there are those who would stop at nothing to keep them apart?

BUY LINKS The Potter’s Daughter


Jackie Ladbury

Jackie Ladbury writes heart-warming contemporary and historical women’s fiction that is always guaranteed a happy ever after. From spending many years as an air-stewardess and seeing that it really is love that makes the world go around, she determined to put the same sparkle and emotion into her stories. Her life is no longer as exotic (or chaotic) as it was in those heady days of flying around the world, as she lives a quiet life in Hertfordshire with her family and two cats.

The Typing Revolution…

shoppingAs a writer if there’s one thing I’m grateful for it’s the ability to type. Finishing school I enrolled at college for an OND in Business and Finance with secretarial training. The latter was very much involved with unlocking the mysteries of shorthand, audio typing…and typing.
Faced with a typewriter for the first time and looking at the QWERTY keyboard, I was at a loss to understand how anyone could use this machine and produce anything that resembled the written word. But we did and sitting down at a desk and spreading your fingers across what was termed your ‘home keys’ soon became second nature.

We had a formidable woman teaching us – Mrs Cameron Smith. She was built like an Amazon with muscular calves and elegantly arranged pale lilac hair – at the time it was fashionable for ladies of a certain age to camouflage any grey with pastel shades of lilac or blue. Her golden rule was NEVER look at your keys while typing. We learnt on manual typewriters which meant you had to exert quite a bit of pressure to get the keys to make any impact against the platen and the paper. It soon made us aware of how weak our small fingers were but after a while they became as strong and flexible as the rest.

At the beginning of each lesson (once we were fairly proficient) we warmed up by typing to music, usually to The March of the Tin Soldiers – something that still haunts me. This was followed by a speed test – five minutes of copy typing from a printed sheet of Quarto old-speak for a piece of paper slightly smaller than A4). While this was going on Mrs C-S would wander up and down the aisles between desks with eyes like a hawk and a twelve inch ruler lurking behind her back. Woe betide anyone who so much as glimpsed at their fingers. Luckily I was never the recipient of the flat of a ruler over my knuckles (something that in today’s world would surely have been labelled assault). Persistent offenders had the addition of having a special box placed over the keyboard to cure them of their illegal downward stare. They were instructed to use a huge poster of a typewriter keyboard on the wall at the front of the room to guide their fingers.

After leaving college I had only been working for a short while when the electric typewriter arrived. This was a ibm-typewritertotal revolution! At last we were all able to say goodbye to aching fingers. Everyone coveted – and I was lucky enough to have – a red IBM Golf Ball typewriter and at the start it took some getting used to. No more keys leaping out of the type basket to make their impact on paper; this circular metal ball covered in letters simply whizzed up and down. There were downsides of course. It wasn’t a good idea to rest your fingers on the keyboard at any time as the slightest pressure on any one key would automatically set it off like a machine gun, leaving a trail of gibberish across whatever you were in the middle of typing.  Olivetti also produced an electric daisy wheel typewriter. The beauty of this machine was that you could Print Elementsbuy replacement wheels with different typefaces making it a very versatile piece of equipment. Today, of course, the computer leaves us spoiled for choice with innumerable typeface options, so different from those dark days!

Things settled down for a while and then the electronic typewriter arrived. I guess this was the forerunner of word processing as the one I wedges-017used had a small window built into the front to enable text to be edited – very cutting edge at the time. By the late ‘80’s early ‘90’s computers/word processors were beginning to become norm in the provincial workplace (no doubt London and other big cities had had them for some time). My first session on a word processor was surreal. In the past typing had been about movement and noise. Now here I was, sitting in front of a strange detached keyboard. When my fingers hit keys there was a gentle tapping sound but nothing felt as if it had connected with anything else. It was only when I raised my eyes to the screen in front of me that I saw words appearing as if by magic. It was probably as weird an experience as the progression from manual to electric typewriter.

800px-hardwarewordprocessor-optimizedIn early desktop computers  WP packages were almost an afterthought and in some instances not very user friendly. Therefore I opted for a dedicated word processor instead, using the computer for spreadsheets and databases. Suddenly it seemed you no longer needed to be able to type to use a computer. Of course it completely transformed how things were done in the workplace. A manager doing his own typing? Shock, horror! That would have been unheard of during my early years at work. Then it was all about dictation and audio tapes and getting the secretary to type it all up.  It took a little time to adjust to typing on a computer keyboard but I got there and soon worked up to my 80+ words per minute. There is only one problem I have and that is as a touch typist I find it very difficult to build up any speed on a ‘flat’ laptop keyboard. That is why, I guess, I prefer my desktop.

Although the workplace has radically changed,  I’m glad I went through the fire and brimstone of Mrs Cameron Smith’s teaching sessions. It wasn’t wasted because if I hadn’t learned the skill I’d be reduced to two finger typing while typing my manuscript and working at a snail’s pace. As far as I’m concerned touch typing is definitely an added bonus if you’re a writer. So here’s to the unforgettable Mrs Cameron Smith with her lilac rinse, athletic calves and menacing ruler. I’m forever in her debt.

It’s publication day for Sharon Ibbotson’s latest historical romance A Game of Desire…


The Queen of Diamonds never loses …

Felicity Fox is a rarity for a woman living in the early 1800s. Not only does she frequent the ‘gambling hells’ where most ladies would not dare to tread, she can also beat any man at his own game. It’s no wonder she’s gained notoriety as the ‘Queen of Diamonds’.

Edward, Earl of Addington, despises gambling and is not exactly enamoured of Felicity Fox either, especially after she tried to swindle his family. Except now the Earl requires assistance from the Queen of Diamonds – and there’s everything to play for. But with Edward will Felicity find she’s involved in a more dangerous game than she’s ever played before?


Sharon was born in Sydney, Australia but now lives in London, UK with her husband, two small children and two black cats named for desserts. She started writing ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ fanfic aged fifteen, which eventually turned into the historical romance novels she writes today. You can follow Sharon at or on twitter @seibbotson


Hi, there, lovely to be asked by Jo Lambert to do my Life Playlist.

SADIE RYAN PhotoI’m 54 years old and very proud of my age. It’s the time in my life where I feel most comfortable with myself and with who I am. It’s taken me along time to get to this place where I think life is just what it is…it’s just life…just live it.

I live in Cheshire, I have been married and divorced, have two wonderful children, a dog called Willow and a cat called Freddie. This year I had my book Behind Closed Doors, a psychological thriller published and what a dream come true that has been after over ten years of writing and rejections.

I love my own company which is pretty important for a writer. I don’t like travelling as much as I used to when I was younger. Having said that, I love cruises and have travelled with Cunard in the last few years and been totally spoilt. I think it’s an age thing or so my kids tell me, but who needs the hassle of airports if you can avoid them, right?

I speak Spanish fluently and a little French. My ideal day would be, if the weather is good, to write in the morning and then sit in the garden with a glass of something naughty and read a good book. I’m an avid reader and even though I vowed never to read on Kindle, I must confess I am now hooked. There’s something magical about a paperback that I adore, the smell and the feel of them, but practically a kindle is so light to carry around. I can even read on my phone if waiting for an appointment! That’s the advantage.

I love my garden and spend a lot of time there when I can and when the British weather allows me to.

I’ve not always written, but I’ve always read a lot. I remember the first book that got me into a heavy reading pattern where I just became obsessed with books, that was Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers. I was sixteen. From then on, I knew that I wanted to write. But I knew to do so I had to read a lot and learn and that’s what I did. I started writing around ten years ago. I first started writing paranormal romance, a genre I still enjoy reading. I do have a novel hidden in the back of my drawer, which I hope one day to blow the dust off and take another look at it. I then wrote chick lit and finally fell into writing thrillers. I think sometimes you have to just write until you find your niche.

Now back to the music and here are my choices:

Ventura Highway by America

Ventura Highway is a 1972 song by the band America from their album Homecoming.
I love listening to this. I have wanted to visit California all my life and at one time I was about to move out there but met my husband the day before I was to send my papers in the post. And as they say that was that. This song fills me with happiness and sunshine and sandy beaches. I still want to visit.

Soldier of Fortune by Deep Purple

When I wrote my first book, a paranormal romance, (unpublished) about fifteen years ago, after finishing I heard this song on the radio and thought how beautifully it corresponded to my book. I love the sound of David Coverdale’s voice, so emotive and gritty. It’s a beautiful song.

Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush

When I heard this song and that voice in 1978, I was mesmerised. Kate Bush was so different and her music so marmite. I loved this video and whenever I hear this on the radio today it takes me back to a time when I was twelve years old and carefree.

California Dreaming by The Mamas and the Papas

I’ve always loved this song because of the unique delayed harmonies. A real masterpiece for all time. It evokes images of West Coast cruising in corvettes, malt shops, beach boys cruising down the California coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The Mamas and the Papas created music that changed the culture of that time. It’s happy music, to sit in the garden on a hot summer’s day with an iced cool glass of wine and just relaxing.

Fairy Tale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

What can I say! This song is amazing. Brilliant. The lyrics and music are perfect. I love hearing this at Christmas time and all year round. It makes me laugh and smile and just feel happy.




A simmering sense of dread dominates this brilliant debut thriller. Highly recommended!

She’s in your house, now she wants your life …
Tina Valentine has it all: the loving family, the beautiful house, the successful career.
But then Megan Pearson starts work at Tina’s law firm and with her arrival the perfect world Tina has built for herself starts to collapse as it becomes clear that the newcomer is intent on infiltrating every aspect of her life.
Something is obviously wrong with Megan but nobody else seems to see it. As the mind games and manipulations continue, Tina comes to the sickening conclusion that now she’s opened the door to Megan, it’s going to be impossible to make her leave …

Available to order on Amazon Universal Link –
Audio available to order on Amazon
Google Play

A Cornish Affair…Only days away now…



Even in your hometown, you can feel like an outsider …

In the close-knit community of Carrenporth in Cornwall everyone knows everyone else’s business. Luke Carrack is only too aware of this. He’s been away for two years but nothing has changed – from the town gossips who can’t see past the scandal of his childhood, to the cold way he is treated by some of his so-called family.
The only person who seems to understand is local hotelier’s daughter Cat Trevelyan, although even Luke’s new friendship with her could set tongues wagging.
But Carrenporth is about to experience far bigger scandals than the return of Luke Carrack – and the secrets unearthed in the process will shake the sleepy seaside town to its core …

Coming soon… a modern saga set in a Cornish seaside town with family drama, a hint of mystery and romance.

Available for pre-order on Amazon: 




Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.

BURIED TREASURE: (universal)



Jane and her friend and associate, Emma, are driving away from Lancaster College.  They’ve been scoping it out as the possible venue for a conference Jane is organising. Twice they have come into contact with a white-haired academic. Not many words have passed between them, but Jane has read disdain in his manner and tone, particularly when she admired the gothic detail of the Banqueting Hall, assuming it was original.   


‘Bastard!’ Jane hits the brake as the car in front of her suddenly slows.

‘It’s the traffic ahead that’s stopped!’

‘I don’t mean…!  That bloody man, back at Lancaster. The one with the white hair.’

‘Well…’ Emma demurs. The mood of excitement and independence which had infused Jane when they set out this morning has drained away.  The cold wind and gathering cloud made the decision about closing the car roof a no-brainer. Now she feels tired, irritated and defensive.

‘What do you mean … we  –  ell?’

‘He didn’t say much. He wasn’t rude.’

‘Depends on your definition. He kept staring at my feet.’

‘Your feet?  Perhaps he was admiring your sandals.’

‘Don’t think so…. Bloody hell!  If we’d left when I planned to…!’ she adds, when the traffic ahead inexplicably slows again. ‘Did you not see him sneer.  How should I know the Banqueting Hall isn’t the real deal?’

‘I suppose it must be on the website.’

‘When I originally did the research, I was concentrating on the conference facilities. The detail of the history passed me by. Of course, I clicked through the images, but the reality of the hall eclipsed my expectations.’

‘No one would guess it’s Victorian,’ Emma reassures her.

‘And those tourists loved it. They didn’t care whether it’s a hundred or five hundred years old. What really appeals to me is the irony of a conference on modern urban planning held amongst all those ancient cloisters and courts and half-timbered elevations. The fact that not all of it is quite as old as it looks is not going to put me off recommending Lancaster to my client.’

‘I should think not!’

‘Professor what’s-his-face may think it’s a travesty, but who cares. It’s not as if we’re likely ever to see him again.’

‘Although….’ Emma says, slowly, ‘he’s quite fit. I wouldn’t throw him out of bed.’

‘What? For God sake Emma! You’re always on the look-out for potential boyfriends. First Aaron, now Professor … I don’t know.’ She shakes her head in exasperation. ‘Plum! He’s old!’

Emma laughs. ‘Be fair, Jane, he’s not old.’

‘His hair is whiter than my grandfather’s!’

‘But there’s plenty of it, and it wasn’t, like, really white. It was more, like, silver.  He must be one of those people whose hair goes grey prematurely. I thought it was an attractive combo.’

‘Well, I hope I never see him again. And there’s no reason to.’ Jane says, with an emphatic slap down on the indicator, to exit on the slip road. ‘Our conference is absolutely nothing to do with him…. So why did he have to make me feel small?’

‘Look, I didn’t take to the man! I just happened to notice he’s nice looking. He’s one of those brains-on-legs, too grand to interact on a human level with the hoi polloi.’

‘Exactly. An upper-class fogey, existing in a rarefied atmosphere, without the faintest clue how the rest of the world lives.’ Jane’s dismissiveness masks her real lack of confidence.  It’s far too easy to undermine her, too easy to make her feel inadequate and ill-educated.  Even Lew, who was so disparaging of graduates, who always said how proud he was of her initiative, her spirit and her natural intelligence, had ultimately played her for a fool and made her feel like the lowest of the low.



Also by Gilli Allan:

TORN: Trailer:



P1010802 - Copy (2)Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the fiction.
After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother.
Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.
She is published by Accent Press and each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.
Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.

Gilli’s Social Media Links

Gilli Allan (@gilliallan)

Gilli Allan




Life Playlists is back and today my guest author Wendy Dranfield is choosing her five all time favourites…

I’m Wendy Dranfield, British writer of crime fiction, avid reader, Twitter addict and owner of 3 rescue cats. When Jo asked me to join Life Tracks I thought it would be easy to come up with 5 songs. How wrong I was! It actually made me realise how many songs have been the soundtrack to my life and it’s hard to leave out so many and choose just 5. I enjoy a wide range of music but I’ve realised through doing this that the best music of my life was definitely from the nineties/early noughties. I guess that’s because I was young! Well, and because we had the best music in the nineties…
I think these 5 are my stand-out tracks:

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)
It would be tempting to pick all Nirvana songs for this exercise, and this one is an obvious choice, but I’ve chosen Smells Like Teen Spirit because it introduced me to Nirvana when I was a teenager and I’ve loved them ever since. Thanks to them, grunge music became an important part of my life and Kurt Cobain really was the voice of our generation. Of course, this made it so much harder when he took his own life and that affected me deeply. My initial enthusiasm when listening to their tracks now turns to sadness at what we lost. Nirvana are the band my husband and I share a special fondness for and what we originally bonded over.

Bryan Adams – Everything I Do (1991)
I know, I know! Everyone was sick of this song in the nineties but I absolutely loved it! It’s VERY different to the grunge I was just starting to get into, but it was the soundtrack to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. This was the first film I ever saw at the cinema, even though I was mid-teens (we were poor and couldn’t afford luxuries like cinema tickets, so I saved up as soon as I got a paper round). It was a great experience and I’ve loved going to the cinema ever since. This is still one of my guilty pleasure films that I’ll watch if it comes on TV as it reminds me of a summer spent being young and (almost) carefree, growing up in Hampshire. I started listening to Bryan Adams a lot after this and the first album I ever bought was his So Far, So Good, on CD. It was £1 in a car boot sale with a broken case and a scratch down the middle. Man alive, I wore that album out!

The Offspring – The Kids Aren’t Alright (1998)
The Offspring are my second favourite band after Nirvana and the band my husband and I listen to on every single road trip – such great car music. It’s probably the only band I don’t get sick of listening to (Nirvana can be a little depressing after a while!). When this song came out, I was working full-time at a large college but I also worked nights at Rock City in Nottingham. I heard a lot of great music working there and this song came on all the time. I used to get home from my night shift at 4am and then get up for my day job at 6am. I didn’t sleep much during that time but my life had an awesome soundtrack!

System of a Down – Chop Suey (2001)
Although this song was released in 2001, I wasn’t introduced to System of a Down until 2003. That was when I moved myself and my younger brother to Cornwall. My brother introduced me to System and Rage Against the Machine and we spent a lot of time working hard, partying hard and living a surfer’s lifestyle opposite the beach. This was also the time I met my husband, who happened to own all the same System/Rage albums as my brother, and he was impressed at my musical knowledge (thanks bro!). That summer my now-husband introduced me to Richard cheese who does ‘lounge’ versions of classics such as Chop Suey. If you’ve never listened to Richard Cheese, give him a try. He’s a musical genius!

Feeder – Just A Day (2001)
I saw Feeder live at Glastonbury 1998 and loved them. Just A Day came out in 2001 and has one of the best music videos ever because it contains the fans – if you’ve never watched it, give it a try. It’ll make you laugh! Listening to this song makes me smile because it reminds me of the friends I had at the time and the grunge nightclub (Harvey’s) we used to go to after work. They were the days I could drink on a week night and still function at work the next day…

This was so much fun. Thanks Jo!


Wendy is a former Coroner’s Assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband. She’s been writing ever since she was a child, but only found the confidence to submit her work to publishers when she was in her thirties.

Who Cares If They Die and Where the Snow Bleeds are the first two books in the Dean Matheson series, with more on the way. As well as her crime thriller series, Wendy has written a YA crime novel – The Girl Who Died – and she has several short stories published in UK and US anthologies. She has also been shortlisted and longlisted for various competitions, including the Mslexia Novel Competition.

For behind the scenes gossip and updates on her books (or photos of her cats), follow her on social media!
Twitter: @WendyDranfield

Her second crime novel is being released on 30th July 2019 by Ruby Fiction. It’s the sequel to Who Cares If They Die, which was released last autumn. She has also just finished writing the third in the series! They follow Dean Matheson (and his wannabe police dog, Rocky) on his journey to becoming a homicide detective.


Where the Snow Bleeds

“You want to know what I’ve learnt after living in Lone Creek all my life? I know the snow bleeds here …”

Former police officer Dean Matheson has been playing it safe since the case that cost him almost everything. But working as a PI doesn’t quite cut it, that is until a British woman walks into his office with a job that Dean can’t resist.

The woman’s daughter, Hannah Walker, and her friend Jodie have gone missing whilst working at a ski resort in Colorado. It’s clear there’s something sinister about the girls’ disappearance, but then why are the local police department being so unhelpful?

So begins Dean’s journey to Lone Creek on the trail of the missing girls – and he’ll soon find out that in Lone Creek, everyone has something to hide …