Welcome message

Welcome, friends old and new, to my blog. This is the place where I can share my scribblings and thoughts on loving life. I hope you enjoy them, make suggestions and come back to read more.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year!

Well, what an interesting year 2013 was! Hang on- wait- or was that 2012? I'm losing track! Or maybe it's just that all my years are interesting? I certainly try!

Before the messy drinking begins, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported and encouraged me as I made the scary leap from aspiring writer to real one- whether it was spotting typos, suggesting names, fact-checking, or telling me everything there is to know about greyhounds. You're all awesome, and I'm sending you big hugs and lots of (virtual) cake.

Thank you too to all those who bought Late and the first of my Strange Ideas. I hope your 2014 surpasses your wildest dreams in terms of health, wealth, happiness and pretty things.

As for me, I have at least two books coming out in 2014, and I hope to have another go at public speaking where my leg doesn't shake so much I can't see the words to read aloud... I'll keep you posted on how that goes!

Happy New Year! Make 2014 the year you Live What You Love.

Lou xxx

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Unhappy endings

I am posting this because I don't want to write today. I am writing this instead of the difficult scene I have been dreading ever since I knew it must be written. I am writing this because it is a distraction from the terrible words I must write in order for my story to be complete, as it should be.

Today I have to kill a character. And it will break my heart.

I know I shouldn't be so attached to imaginary people who only exist inside my head, but it's difficult, when I've heard their voices, watched their movements, known their loves and fears and hopes and dreams to end it all with a few taps on a keyboard.

But it must be done. Just not quite yet.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

What I have learnt about my characters this week

Another NaNoWriMo post tonight, for which I refuse to apologise.

In case you hadn't noticed (I may have omitted to mention it- ha!) I am participating in National Novel Writing Month, the aim of which is to give procrastinating writers a swift kick up the bum and bully said bum onto a chair in front of a keyboard. Or notepad. Or stone tablet. Whatever tickles your fancy. And then encourage them to write. I say encourage, but cajole, threaten and bribe might be more accurate. Honestly, they're very nice about it though.

The target is a measly 50,000 words in 30 days, or a mere 1,667 words per day average. No problem. Except when I have a late meeting. Or a friend to meet down the pub. Or a Supernatural box set to watch. All three of these spanners have lodged themselves in my works this week. Nevertheless, I have battled on, as my word count (top right) will testify.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

NaNoWriMo- my initial impressions

I am typing this with one finger, very slowly. The reason? NaNoWriMo has broken me.

From a flying start on Friday night (if you don't count the dashed-out prologue to break the ice on Friday morning) to a solid effort on Saturday, punctuated with 500-word sprints in between cups of tea and housework and schoolwork, to a still-enthusiastic if slightly ridiculous Sunday morning effort, I'm shattered.

My vision is slightly blurry and I keep bumping into things, my neck hurts and my bottom is completely sofa-shaped. The boys are feeling neglected already (although they have had more frequent short walkies than usual) and I have a ringing in my head from too much caffeine. I'm a mess.

But I'm loving it.

Friday, 1 November 2013

My Ten Commandments for NaNoWriMo

Today I begin the epic quest to write and finish a novel in 30 days.

This will not be without difficulties, and so I have drawn up a list of rules that I must follow in order to be successful (and clean, with a job) over the next month. If I can stick to these, all will be well.

Here they are:


1. Thou shalt not let the day job suffer- this is thy quest, not thy employer's.

2. Thou shalt write at least 1,667 words on a week day, and aim for 2,000.

3. Thou shalt not lie in on weekends, but shall rise with the dawn to write 2,500 words on those days.

4. Thou shalt not neglect thy terriers, for lo they will perform dirty protests if regular walkies are not adhered too.

5. Thou shalt not eat Haribo by the bucket, as thy is wont to do when sitting at a computer for lengthy periods of time.

6. Thou shalt not idle thy time waiting for more Candy Crush lives, but shall banish the iPad from thy sight until the daily word count is reached.

7. Thou shall make use of quiet moments to reflect on thy novel, and scribe every idea on post-its for future reference.

8. Thou shall shower every day and eat too, for a smelly and hungry writer is no joy to the world.

9. Thou shalt not go home to commence work on thy novel until planning is completed and books have been marked.

10. Thou shall phone thy parents at least twice a week, or face the wrath and woe of anxious fretting that thy have been eaten by terriers.

Keep an eye on my counter (the blue one, top right) and feel free to berate me if you think I'm not writing fast enough!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

A true ghost story

As you know, I write ghost stories. 

As you may have guessed, I'm a believer. 

But you may not know that I've encountered a few ghosts myself, and seeing really is believing. 

The event I'm about to recount is true and, apart from minor vagueness caused by the passing of time, factual. It may not be the most terrifying tale you've ever read, but I'm betting it will be on your mind the next time you're driving at night on a badly-lit road.

The BEST Haunted House video you'll ever see

Happy Halloween! Have you had any trick or treaters yet? I'm busy with Parents Evening tonight, so will have a few tricks and treats of my own to dish out... mwa-hahaha!

A bit of a fun one today, to make a change from all the spooky goings-on you're bound to experience tonight.

I don't know if any of you watch Ellen, but this is worth five minutes of your time even if you don't. One of the show's writers is a real scaredy-cat, and every year they send her through a Haunted House where she screams and freaks out in a way that would be comical if it weren't so genuine. This poor girl is really scared, but manages to have a giggle about it too. A true heroine! Or just a glutton for punishment?

This year, she was joined by Andy, who also works on the show, and Amy looks tough compared to him! I especially like, "Stop it! Stop it now!" and "Are you #*$@ing kidding me?" as he hides behind Amy and occasionally uses her for cover! This is the funniest video I have seen in a long time, but then, I do have a Strange sense of humour.

Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

Remember: Late: a ghostly tale is free to download this week if you fancy a scare with a touch more subtlety...

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

WIP Wednesday... how about every day?

Sign up for your own challenge at www.nanowrimo.org

So, here's the thing.

I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starting on November 1st, and I've got a shiny blue counter on my homepage. I've got a cupboard full of teabags. I've got post it notes all over my dining room table. I've even got a lush pink folder to keep everything together.

I've also got an idea to keep me motivated.

How about if, instead of cheering me on as the numbers on my counter go up, you could read the words I wrote that day? Sort of a serial... but where you get to comment and make suggestions. I've pretty much got the outline nailed down, but who knows where the story might take me?

Would anyone read it? Would anyone feel compelled to comment in cheer-leader-style or demand a plot twist that takes everyone by surprise?

Let me know.

Until then, I'll keep scribbling ideas on post its, receipts and stationary children...

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Top 10 Halloween Pranks to do at Home

There are a lot of videos on the web about pranks to play at Halloween, some better than others. This video made me laugh so hard and gave me lots of inspiration! I can't wait to try these...

Adrenalin pumping? Remember: Late: a ghostly tale is free to download this week. Scare yourself silly- it's on me!

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Halloween Surprise

I didn't write this, but I wish I had! Click here for my source and to read some other funny urban legends.

A COUPLE were invited to a swanky masked Halloween Party. She got a terrible headache and told her husband to go to the party alone. He, being a devoted husband, protested, but she argued and said she was going to take some aspirin and go to bed and there was no need of his good time being spoiled by not going. So he took his costume and away he went.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Five things scarier than ghosts!

As you know, I adore a good scare, and ghost stories are my particular favourite. However, real-life is often way more frightening than fiction, and so here are five real-life terrors that make me shiver, sweat and scream.

1. Spiders

I've always been terrified of these nasty little beasties, and it took a tremendous amount of courage to even google a picture of one.


I've trained myself to delay a panic attack long enough to catch the smaller ones and get rid of them, but I just can't handle anything with a leg-span larger than 5cm. A short while ago, I

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Five horror films to enjoy at Halloween

With Halloween being on a school night this year, I'll be celebrating tonight instead. I'm not sure yet whether to create a costume and crawl the local pubs, or invite some friends round to watch a few horror films. A good scary movie will definitely be featuring in my Halloween ritual in some form though, so here are five that I consider the very best.

1. Halloween

Well, it had to be done! How could I blog about Halloween horror films and not mention this? Although it's obviously dated, and has been weakened by terrible sequels, do not forget that what seems cliche now was ground-breaking and innovative at the time. The unstoppable madman hadn't been done to death (excuse the pun) and the idea that someone is out there- watching you from the shadows- is a very scary thought indeed. Did you remember to lock the door?

Friday, 25 October 2013

Five freaky photos and the truly terrifying fears they represent

1. Face in the mirror

Have you ever had to muster the courage to look at your reflection? Ever seen something move behind your shoulder? Even worse, have you caught a glimpse of a face other than yours? Even if you haven't, do you ever worry you will?

I do, frequently.

2. Being followed up the stairs

Time for bed. You check the front door, switch off the lights downstairs and switch on the lights upstairs. In front of you as you climb, bright lights and bed. Behind you... shadows and- something else?

I've been known to climb stairs sideways, keeping my back to the wall, in order to keep watch for- something.



Thursday, 24 October 2013

NaNoWriMo- or, probably the daftest thing I've ever signed up for...

After much umming and erring of the (typically) indecisive nature, I've decided to give myself a kick up the backside and get The Hungry Man finished. I've signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which bullies writers (in a friendly, supportive kind of way) to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days- a mere 1,667 words a day. I may regret this.

Technically, I suppose I have a head-start. The first draft is sort-of done, although there are huge gaps and scribbled in sections where I want to include an element but don't know how, and I'm not happy with it as it stands, SO I have made the radical decision to start it again. From scratch. Almost.

I hope it's not cheating, as I'm really looking forward to participating. I think the word counter on NaNoWriMo alone will really help me. My intention is to rewrite every chapter, now I know where I'm going with it, and only re-insert the sections that are really worth keeping. It could be painful, but my intention is to finish November with 50,000 words that are tight and compelling.

You can keep tabs on me via the word counter widget on the right. It's the blue one that will hopefully show increasing numbers... If it doesn't, feel free to tell me off in Tesco.

Right, I'm off to pore over my outline again before it all kicks off on November 1st 2013... wish me luck x

Saturday, 12 October 2013


Hi all!

Just a quick one to say I've been messing about with the comments setting- Google+ only wasn't working out for me- so if a comment you've made has gone missing, that's why.

Normal service resumed! Comment away! xxx

Saturday, 5 October 2013

An Apology to Fantastic Phil

Fantastic Phil- feast your eyes, ladies!

Dear readers, I have some serious grovelling to do!

I have made a grave and almost unforgiveable oversight, and for that I am truly sorry. Let me state publicly that my colleague and good friend Phil (pictured left) was the genius behind the name Maverick Hart (the truly terrifying demi-god from one of my most popular stories Rock God) and I forgot to thank him in my book.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Friday Five- Five superstitions I completely believe

Happy Friday 13th!

Not my favourite day, I must admit, being the superstitious old fool that I am. So far, touch wood, I've managed to avoid calamity (although I do feel as if I've now jinxed myself- there's still a few hours of this terrible day left). That's in spite of seeing magpies, a black cat and passing someone on the stairs! Maybe it's the special "confusing demons" charm I taught to a colleague today...

I follow so many, and have done for so long, that I barely notice them now. It was interesting, when writing Superstition, to actually examine objectively the bizarre rituals I believe keep me safe and lucky. I did exaggerate some for Laura's character, but I also left quite a few more out completely, as they were just too weird!

Anyway, on the most superstition-riddled day, what else can I write about for my Friday Five than the five superstitions I follow most closely and would never dare break? Welcome to my strange little world...

Friday, 6 September 2013

Friday Five: Five things I am loving this week

Happy Friday, everyone!

As you know, I'm quite a cheerful person most of the time, and I credit that to a conscious effort to find reasons to be cheerful.

It's not always easy; there are a multitude of reasons to be miserable at this time of year: summer is almost over, the nights are drawing in, the pressure to begin Christmas shopping has already started, blah blah blah... so here are five reasons I am cheerful this week- five things I am LOVING!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

New Interview at Me, My Books and I.

I've been interviewed by the lovely Kate at Me, My Books and I, where I shared some of my funny habits and the thing I can't live without, as well as the best advice I was ever given.

 You can check out the interview here.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Strange Ideas: The Thursday Throng

Squeeee! I've been interviewed by the lovely Linda Parkinson-Hardman and am now an honoured member of her Thursday Throng!


You can read the interview (and discover something I've been keeping a secret) here. Please leave a comment to show your support of this wonderful lady and what she does to support authors.


Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions is available from Bookmark, Spalding and Amazon.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Hungry-Man: exclusive preview

Harvey loves his Mummy; he’d do anything for her. They have a blissful life together, filled with cuddles, walkies and camping trips. Then, one terrible day, everything changes and their perfect life becomes a nightmare. The Hungry-Man wants his Mummy, and only Harvey can save her from a horrifying fate.

Can Harvey do what it will take to protect his Mummy? And will it be enough?

A terrifying and gripping tale of a dog’s devotion and determination to protect those he loves. The next time your dog tries to warn you about something you can’t sense, pay attention…
Now that I'm back from my bummel, it's time to get stuck in to some writing again. I'm thrilled to bits to share with you a draft of the prologue and first chapter of "The Hungry-Man", my current WIP.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: comforts, catch-ups and cuddles.

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

Worthing. I woke up feeling disorientated; this wasn't the tent I'd been living in for the last couple of weeks. After a second or so, I remembered where I was and checked the time. Good. I was awake early enough to say goodbye to Dad before he left for work. I rolled over and stretched...

... and woke up again two hours later. I really am pathetic.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: tantrums, time-to-kill and take-aways.

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

Strange, strange dreams last night... yet still woke early; the sun heated the air inside the tent until I was forced out and into the fresh air. It's an effective, if unpleasant, alarm clock.

I'd decided, in between dreams about castles and Young Americans, to go two hours along the coast to see Dad but, seeing as he's at work today, I was in no hurry. So I packed up slowly, letting the tent dry out properly and taking my time. Harvey, as always, was excited to be moving on; he's a proper Sagittarian dog, always looking for a new adventure. As the bedding was rolled and the kitchen packed away, his tail began to wag- I swear he'd help me if he could, just to get back on the road and onto the next spot faster! Alfie, the most laid-back Leo, watched passively. As I've said before, he's simply happy to be with me, wherever we end up.

Monday, 5 August 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: Moonfleet, memories and massive lunches.

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

Epic monster rain this morning, thundering down and bouncing off my tent like a million drumbeats. It did afford me the luxury of lazing around for a few hours, reading, until the sun came out about half nine. I think the boys appreciated it too. Harvey, a feisty ten year old Cairn terrier with a heart murmur and a lust for life, has been skipping around like a pup these last ten days, but I know he needs to rest up a little and I think secretly he knows that too. That's why he's wriggled himself into my sleeping bag and is making happy snuffle sounds. Alfie is just content to be wherever his Mummy is, so is currently curled up on my lap, making it difficult for me to write and drink my Ovaltine at the same time. A golden moment, indeed. But back to today's adventure.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: wind, waves and walkies

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

Well, I'm down the road a bit, I think, but I'm not yet convinced that this site is any better, although it costs twice as much and, apparently, has showers. I say apparently as I've not found them yet. It's not a good sign when you're regretting paying in advance for two nights before you've even got your tent up!

I woke this morning at dawn, but neither I nor the boys felt like getting up, so we slept in until nine. I didn't mind the pop-up monstrosity so much last night; maybe I was just so shattered that a wooden crate would have done the job. I do have to say though, my self-inflating mattress really is wonderful- or I truly was exhausted- because I discovered when I was packing the tent away (which, incidentally, went smoothly) that I'd been sleeping on top of the mallet all night and hadn't noticed!

All packed, I asked one of the 'van campers where I'd find the owner of the field, as I wanted to get be off, and he gave me the most bizarre directions which I've done my best to replicate here:

Saturday, 3 August 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: hills, hikes and going hell-for-leather.

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

If it wasn't for keeping these notes, I wouldn't know what day it is. I feel so relaxed, like the world has paused just long enough for me to get my head together. Time, however, is marching on whether I like it or not, and so I've had a bit of a mad one today.

I woke up this morning thinking I'd stay one more night, tootle into Salisbury to see the cathedral and find a pub for dinner before leaving tomorrow. Fate, in the form of no one being available to book another night, intervened and so I instead packed up the tent, loaded up our stuff and set off into Salisbury by car. I found somewhere to park and had thirty minutes to get to the cathedral and back before the meter ran out. The boys and I ran, feeling a bit like we were in an action film, rucksack clunking away on my back and all our tongues hanging out as we panted in the heat. It must have been quite a sight.

Friday, 2 August 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: stone circles, sheep and a scare.

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

Salisbury. Considering how late the children next door went to bed, they were up bright and early and, consequently, so was I. The sky was grey and the air cool, much cooler than yesterday, so I dressed warmly- noticing just in time that my jumper had a splash of last night's Ovaltine down it. That would have been embarrassing! Just because I'm living like a hobo doesn't mean I should let standards slip!

I needn't have worried so much about keeping warm; by the time I'd finished walking the boys around the barrows at Stonehenge, the sun was starting to peek out through the clouds and looked set to continue as another glorious day.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: sweat, surprises and Old Sarum.

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

The hottest day so far. Seriously scorching. Definitely not a day for dismantling a tent and then pitching it again in the searing midday sun. But, nevertheless, that is what I did today.

I woke up early, ridiculously excited to be moving on, my itchy feet eager to hit a new place and press on with my journey. Therefore I had the luxury of time when packing up, which was appreciated, as the temperature kept climbing and I had to keep stopping for a drink and a rest. Even Harvey hid under the car for some shade, and he's the ultimate sun-worshipper!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: buses, burdens and being banned.

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

Oxford. I woke early, but slept in, enjoying the lazy feeling of being completely free to spend my time as I wished. It seemed that, every time I felt the need to stir my bones, the rain pitter-pattered down on my tent and encouraged me to just stay snug for a little while longer.

Eventually though, the rain clouds blew away and the sun appeared, beating down on my tent and warming it up to an uncomfortable temperature and forcing me to get up, if only to cool down. Once I was up, I was fairly quick in getting organised as I'd remembered today's plan. Today was the day for exploring Oxford and I was looking forward to it.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: tents, travels and a telling-off.

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

Bicester. Awake at 5:30am, ready to leave by 6:30am. The night had been miserable; I was hungry, cold (but clean), everything that had been in the poor excuse for a tent was wet and I wanted away from this place as fast as possible.

As soon as there was enough light, I took the boys for a brisk walk around the woods while the tent dried out. Well, I say that; I think, in all honesty, I was putting off the moment when I'd have to try and coax the damned thing back into its bag.

Monday, 29 July 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: castles, catastrophes and condensation.

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

All good things come to an end, and where today I began in an idyllic setting, having fallen asleep to gentle rain and birdsong, I ended the day in a most miserable manner.

Monday started well; I awoke to blue skies and a gentle breeze that dried out my tent nicely- although it did pick up just as I was trying to pack it away, ready to move on. Curses. I ended up bundling it into a ball and letting Alfie use it as a cushion in the car on the way to Warwick. My plan, such as it was, was to take a stroll around Warwick before heading over to Moreton-in-Marsh to see my family, and then going on to Oxford to spend the night in a superbly situated campsite that would mean I could explore the city tomorrow without needing to find anywhere to park. It was a good plan, and I was feeling excited to be moving on.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: landmarks, Lush and lasagne.

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

Weston-on-Avon. I awoke to sunshine and a stiff breeze- perfect for drying out my tent, yesterday's clothes and the sacrificial towel. It took a while to get myself organised, as I'd forgotten how many times I'd have to boil the kettle in order to function... once to make tea, once to wash up, and again to wash. I brushed my teeth, feeling very naughty and slightly bohemian to be spitting out toothpaste into the hedgerow.

Today I was off into Stratford-upon-Avon to see if it was all it was cracked up to be. I loaded the dogs into the car and off we went, not bothering to ask Gladys for her help as we only had four miles to travel.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: sausage rolls, swans and a soaking.

School's out! Finally!

Instead of vegging on the sofa and wasting my holibobs with daytime TV I had resolved to head off as soon as possible and go on the Bummel. I'd never done it officially, but I suppose my whole life is one long bummel, so I thought it would be fun to try.

I had all the essentials: tent, sleeping bag, stove, books and flip-flops and a few non-essential nice things (hot water bottle, radio and biscuits) which I loaded into the car, along with my two faithful and very excited terriers. After a few false starts of going back for things I'd forgotten (hairbrush, raincoat, vinegar) Harvey, Alfie and I were finally ready to begin our adventure.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Friday Five: Five places I intend to visit this summer.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tomorrow, I am off on my holibobs, so apologies in advance for the lack of posts.
I'm going on the bummel, and I'm very excited about it! A bummel, for those of you not familiar with the word (and that includes most people) is best described by the man who introduced the word to me in "Three Men on the Bummel", Jerome K Jerome:

"A 'Bummel'," I explained, "I should describe as a journey, long or short, without an end; the only thing regulating it being the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started. Sometimes it is through busy streets, and sometimes through the fields and lanes; sometimes we can be spared for a few hours, and sometimes for a few days. But long or short, but here or there, our thoughts are ever on the running of the sand. We nod and smile to many as we pass; with some we stop and talk awhile; and with a few we walk a little way. We have been much interested, and often a little tired. But on the whole we have had a pleasant time, and are sorry when it's over."

I have to be back by the 8th August, but I intend bummelling right up until that point. I have a tent with all most mod-cons, a car and two very excited terriers. I also have a vague plan of places I'd like to visit, and here they are.

1. Stratford-upon-Avon
The home of the bard, and a place I've apparently been driven through a lot as a child, but not one I've ever explored.

2. Moreton-in-Marsh
Where the majority of my family live, and where my parents come from.

3. Stonehenge
A place I've never seen before, inexplicably.

4. Fleet
Last visited over twenty years ago, and the real-life setting for the much-loved book "Moonfleet" by J. Meade Faulkner.

5. Lulworth Cove
Happy memories of childhood holidays, paddling in the salty water and catching butterflies in a net, again over twenty years ago.

When I return, I will backdate and tell you all about my adventures. Until then, enjoy the sunshine and keep safe!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Friday Five: Five foods you can eat in the shower

Happy Friday my lovelies!

A bit of a fun Friday Five today, inspired by a succession of late nights and stifling, brain-melting heat.

I've been busy at work having lots of fun with trips, plays and Governers' meetings this week and, when I finally make it home, a mere thirteen hours after I left the house, there are only two things on my mind.




But which to do first? If I shower first, it'll be too late to eat and I'll get indigestion! If I eat first, it'll be too late for my hair to dry before I collapse into bed! Such a dilemma...

You'll be happy to know that I have solved this problem by carrying out a carefully crafted investigation on which foods can reasonably be eaten while taking a shower.

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Power of Dreams

... or yume no chikara, as I learnt today (that's Japanese, if you hadn't worked it out).

I've had a rather pleasant work-day today, mostly because it involved not actually being at work! Don't get me wrong- I love my job- but it was fun to do something different and take a few hand-selected cherubs off to Big School and take part in a workshop run by Honda.

After having a go at juggling, we settled down to the nitty-gritty of defining a dream. Answers varied from "what you do when you sleep" to the more inspired "something that you wish for", but for me, very simply, a dream is the thing that makes living more than just existing. A dream is something wispy yet solid, far-away yet achievable; a dream raises us from the hum-drum and lets us soar, our hearts singing with the promise of better days to come.

So far, so poetic. But, too often, real-life wakes us up with the metaphorical equivalent of a blaring alarm clock and the knowledge that you've run out of tea-bags. Real life can get in the way of dreams, and I've made excuses along with the rest.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Review: Strange Worlds - Surreal Stories and Tainted Tales

Strange Worlds - Surreal Stories and Tainted Tales
Strange Worlds - Surreal Stories and Tainted Tales by Victoria Pearson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another stonker from Victoria Pearson! Having read, and loved, Strange Love: Short Stories and Twisted Tales, I had no hesitation buying this, her next collection of short stories (and poems too- which was a refreshing surprise!). I found the range of ideas as diverse and pleasing as in her last book and many of the stories (Chasing Rainbows and After the End, in particular) prompted an immediate reread. Highly recommended if you like your fiction short, thought-provoking and beautifully written.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Web store is open!

I've been receiving requests from readers who live too far away to have their book signed for a way to purchase a signed copy directly from me. So, with much chewing of fingernails at the tech-geekery knowledge that is required, I have set up a web store on the Strange Ideas website. Use the link to go straight there if you'd like to buy one. And thank you x

Any questions or problems, email me at louisewestwriter@gmail.com

Also, if you're inclined, you can recommend me for the Guardian series on indie authors by clicking here and filling in the short, simple form.

Monday, 24 June 2013

My School Report 2013

With it being that time of year, my thoughts are consumed with writing reports, so naturally I came up with this...


End of Year Report for: Louise West

Louise has had an eventful and successful year, though she really should try to concentrate on the task in hand and not procrastinate or flit off to the next shiny thing. Her behaviour is good, if not always predictable, and she should aim to behave herself when in public.

Literacy: Louise spends far too much time reading, and should really pull her head out of trashy horror novels and join in with the world a bit more. Her writing shows promise, and evidence of a warped imagination, but she should aim to make her handwriting legible to others, rather than the indecipherable scrawl of incorrectly-formed letters she demonstrates at the moment.

Sunday, 23 June 2013


We all love a freebie, don't we?

I hate Mondays, so I thought I'd try to do something to make them a little better. Sooooo (drumroll) Late: a ghostly tale will be free to download every Monday for the next five weeks!

If you've already read it and enjoyed it, then please share this news with your friends and invite them to jump into my ghostly tale. Hopefully, they'll love it too.

Also, if you're inclined, you can recommend me for the Guardian series on indie authors by clicking here and filling in the short, simple form.

Enjoy your Sunday and pop back tomorrow to read my school report...

Friday, 21 June 2013

A Friend in Need's a Friend Indeed...

...as the wise Brian Molko once sang. If you don't know who he is, Google him. He's pretty.

This self-publishing lark is great fun, apart from the toe-curling cringiness of having to be very un-British and push myself forward a bit. I'm finding that part quite hard. That's why today's post is a bit difficult for me because I need to ask a favour. I'll have to build up to it bit first- work up my nerve...

I made a great start promoting my book online (where I didn't have to actually look anyone in the eye) and have given out contact cards to everyone who has shown the slightest interest. I even managed to blush and stammer my way into Bookmark, Spalding, where a few copies of Strange Ideas now share shelf space with more established and bankable books. My press release is written and, after a few deep breaths, will be sent off soon. So, hard but doable (even if I did have a teeny-weeny hyperventilation episode).

The favour I need, dear friends and lovers of cake and Strange Ideas, is an easy one. The Guardian are running a series where they feature self-published authors, and are looking for readers to recommend self-published authors whose work they've enjoyed (starting to blush at the thought of what's coming next).

What I'm asking- well, hoping- is that you might like to... you know... maybe suggest me? (palms start to sweat) If you don't mind.

Simply go to their website and recommend me on the short form at the bottom of the page (eeeeek- awkward). All that is required is for you to enter my name, my book and a few words on why you think I'm great (I'm actually cringing right now- I'm so not good at this). That's it. Two minutes of your time to make me happier than cake does.

I'd be eternally grateful and would add you to my Cake List. If neither of those is an incentive, how about hugs? I'm good at hugs x

Review: Blog of the Dead- Sophie

Blog of the Dead- Sophie
Blog of the Dead- Sophie by Lisa Richardson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I've only just got my breath back! Superb page-turner that kept me up late and had me planning my own zombie-apocalypse plan. The blog idea was a novel twist on a diary format and the first-person perspective and no-nonsense description (no time for ruminating on the beauty of the Autumn leaves turning when you're out-running zombies) kept me right in the thick of the action. Will definitely reread- once I've built up my nerve...

View all my reviews

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Friday, 14 June 2013

Friday Five: Five phrases you might see on your child's report- and what they REALLY mean

Summer term. The home stretch. All the tests have been completed, all the paperwork has been filed, and teachers everywhere are relaxing just a little and opting to play rounders in the sunshine with their class instead of teaching them history.

I expect we all have happy memories of summer terms from our own childhood, when it felt like we never did any proper work, and there is a definite sigh of relief when the summer holidays are in sight.

But for teachers, arguably, the hardest task is still to be tackled. The End of Year Report. That little thorn on an otherwise beautiful rose of a term. While children are enjoying weekends free of homework, teachers are shackled to laptops and desperately trying to be constructive and creative in their descriptions of their little darlings. As a writer, school reports are the most challenging test of my craft- finding that delicate balance between honesty and tact, fact and fiction of the white-lie variety.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who writes in code. It's simply not done to be too truthful and blunt; in fact, being British and terrified of offending in even the most basic of situations, euphemisms are a blessing when writing reports. Here are some of the secret codes you might find in your child's report, and what they really mean.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Strange Questions- and even Stranger Answers!

I've been interviewed by the lovely Drew Avera about my Strange Ideas, amongst other things...


Pop over to his blog to find out my favourite Ninja turtle, how I was ripped off in Bali (and why I didn't mind) and who would play Jimmy in a film.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Teaser Tuesday: LilyElement Book Reviews

I'm a little bit chuffed today, as Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions has been chosen as this week's "Teaser Tuesday". It is a rather interesting extract... 

Pop over to www.lilyelement.blogspot.co.uk to check it out.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Review: Two Penny Blue

Two Penny Blue
Two Penny Blue by L.K. Jay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A gorgeous little gem!

Well-written and well-paced, tight and sound. I got into this really quickly and, although I suspected how the situation would be resolved, I didn't get it exactly right- which was actually a pleasant surprise! The characters are fleshed out nicely with enough detail to make them believable without an "info-dump" to bog the story down. I was aware, as I was reading, that I was emotionally invested in Penny and Florence's happy ending, and whizzed through the ending chapters to make sure they got there safely. 'Phew!'

A lovely quick read (I finished in a couple of hours) to enjoy and be engrossed in while your cup of tea goes cold.

View all my reviews

Review: Spooked

Spooked by Tracy Sharp

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I downloaded this on a whim, as the idea seemed interesting, and I'm glad I did as I enjoyed reading the story.

The opening was intriguing and had me asking lots of questions, most of which were resolved by the end of the book. I wonder if my questions about her parents, for example, will be answered in future books? The characters were developed well enough for me to be able to imagine them and Lorelei's gift is original- this is not a Twilight copy-cat. Although she is bewildered, Lorelei is not the kind of girl who lets people fight over her (although she does accept help). I'm interested in what happens next and how she develops her gift- like some other reviewers, I felt that some assumptions were made and some loose ends left, but this may be deliberate.

An enjoyable read that I whipped through quite happily.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions gets the fairytale ending it deserves.

The two most beautiful words:


If you've been keeping up, you'll know what a drama I've been having with releasing Strange Ideas in Europe. In fact, if you substituted my book for a beautiful but naïve young girl, I reckon it'd be a bit of a blockbuster tale. Let's give it a go.

Act 1: the set up

Looking for Love

I went looking for love...
... I looked in the tiny, rough cracks in the bricks of a house older than my grandfather's grandfather
... I looked in the delicate buds of the flowering weeds that danced in a mass of wild green
... I looked in the silver-hued patterns the children's shadows made on the playground

I went looking for love...
... I found it in the rich, purple berries that were hidden behind waxy leaves
... I found it in the cold, fresh gusts of wind that lifted my hair and widened my smile
... I found it in the face of my friend as she closed her eyes and faced the sun

And, after I had found it, I held love in the space between my hand and a child's hand
My hand surrounding his
Love's hand surrounding us.
And I was happy.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Strange Ideas: Update

Well, the plot thickens...

I've heard back from Amazon- a lovely man named Charles- and have been informed my book has been "suppressed" in Germany. I've no idea why, or what that actually means, but because Germany apparently won't allow it, and is in Europe, then it cannot be sold on any European Amazon site, including the UK.

I've been assured they have passed this on to the Content Validation team and that they will get back to me by Thursday.

In the meantime, I'll get on with enjoying my holidays and trust the clever people to fix the problem. I hope you lucky Kindle readers are enjoying my Strange Ideas, and are thinking about leaving me a review


Monday, 27 May 2013

Review: Unlikely

Unlikely by Frances Pauli

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading this! The characters and locations were easy to imagine due to the detailed but not onerous description, and I loved Satina's quick wit and her banter with Marten. Lots of fun!

View all my reviews

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Bad news, friends...

Due to a monumental cock-up with the distribution process at Amazon, the paperback of Strange Ideas is currently only available on Amazon.com or the Createspace e-store at the moment. I am e-mailing and hassling to get this fixed, but am stressing that the book will not be available on Amazon.co.uk in time for Monday. If anyone is desperate to get their hands on a copy, you can either buy via Amazon.com or https://www.createspace.com/4140414 (shipping prices and times are out of my control)

Needless to say, I am really sorry and very disappointed that this has happened. Considering that I prepared well in advance and that everything was fine and good to go last weekend, I am fuming that Strange Ideas has disappeared from Amazon.co.uk with no explanation, and am working hard to get the problem fixed.

I'll keep you posted x

Friday, 24 May 2013

Friday Five: Five pieces of advice...

...from children.

Today I asked my class, in preparation for a writing task, to visualise travelling in the Tardis to visit their future selves, ten years from now.

As well as thinking about what their future selves would look like, where they would live, and what they would be doing, I asked the children to imagine their future self whispered a few words of advice into their ears before they returned to their own time.

Here's what they said.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Big News! (and a headache)

Wheee! Good morning, my lovelies!

My head aches a little (damn those Bon-Bons) but, other than that, I'm in fine form this morning and I hope you are too.
Big News! After months of hard work, tantrums and a small meltdown, Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions is out now for Kindle. I woke up feeling like it was Christmas morning and got straight on my laptop to check- and there it is! All shiny and pwetty, and a little disturbing...
I hope you get a chance to take a look today and, even better, that you download my five creepy tales to mess with your head. Even better than that, I hope you enjoy the bizarre twists and lovingly-crafted chills and leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads or anywhere else reputable (no bathroom walls please).
Click the cover to check it out, and enjoy your weekend xxx

Friday, 17 May 2013

Review: The Little Camera

The Little Camera
The Little Camera by L.K. Jay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book caught my attention straight away- initially because I wanted to throttle Ryan, who is everything the middle-aged fear teenagers to be i.e disassociated, disenchanted and disrespectful. Given a community service order for yet another petty theft, young Ryan is forced to spend time with Mr Jedras, a Polish Jew with a tale to share. His story is a worthy of a book all to itself, and I stayed up way too late to find out how he made it to England. Meanwhile Ryan is getting deeper and deeper into trouble with his gang, led by the despicable Jamal. I had a feeling L.K. Jay had something up her sleeve for Ryan and (no spoilers) I'm glad I was right. My only (small) gripe is that Ryan's language seemed a bit formal for one so young and street-wise. Although this book pulls no punches in showing the evil of the past (Nazi invasion) and present (gang culture), it leaves a positive message for the future, and I even warmed to Ryan enough to wish him well as I finished reading. A suitably serious tone, considering the subject matter, and very different to The Ghosthunters Club, but equally as enjoyable.

View all my reviews

Friday Five: Five cute photos of my dogs


Happy Friday!

Just a quickie today, as I'm busy getting ready to hit that "publish" button tonight- a process which involves champagne and strawberry Bon-Bons, and a little Blood, Sweat and Tears (the band- it's for my victory dance).

Here are five very cute photos of my boys, Harvey and Alfie, for you to go "awww" over, while you wait to read Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions. It's out tomorrow, and I'm squeely excited!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Review: The Ghost Hunters Return

The Ghost Hunters Return
The Ghost Hunters Return by L.K. Jay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely loved this! The girls were as fab as ever, and I chortled my little socks off (in between the scary bits). Lots of fun!

View all my reviews

Friday, 10 May 2013

Friday Five: Five details that never made the book.

Happy Friday!

Only seventeen days to go until Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions is released, and I've been poring over the proof, making sure everything is perfect for you.

It's been lovely to read the proof as a book, rather than edit it (although I have spotted and corrected a few clunkers) but one thing that struck me was how much of the story is not actually on the page.

J.K. Rowling famously wrote detailed and elaborate back-stories for all her characters, and so did I- although not in as much detail, obviously. These are short (ish) stories, after all! But, for my Friday Five this week, I'd like to share a few details with you. These won't make one jot of sense until Monday 27th May, but here you go.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Bank Holiday Book Nerd Quiz- the answers.

So, how did you do? And how many did you cheat on? (I know you too well...) Check your answers here.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions



Sorry, I couldn't help myself- my proof copy of Strange Ideas arrived today and it looks GORGEOUS! The nice man over the road (Geoff, not John) took it in for me as it arrived while I was at work, and jolly grateful I am too. I don't think I'd have slept a wink all night knowing it was sat at the post office, all lonely, waiting for me.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Bank Holiday Book Nerd Quiz

Greetings, fellow readers!

I hope you've all been enjoying your lovely long weekend, and that you've taken the opportunity to catch up on some reading- preferably in a field with a chilled beverage (or two).

Having finished all the hard work on Strange Ideas, I thought I'd do something fun today. Can you identify the books from which these opening lines are taken? No cheating and googling them... Bonus points if you can name the author too.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Friday Five: Five things that make me feel like a proper author


Happy Friday!

When does a "hobby-scribbler" writer like me become a "proper" author? That's the question I've been pondering this week.

I would imagine that, if you follow the traditional publishing route, the precise moment is simple to pin-point. Surely, it's the moment when a publisher accepts your manuscript? You are now "published" and therefore "proper". You can give up the day-job and spend happy days in a cottage by the sea with a laptop and a terrier (or two), cooking up your next best-seller.
Us indies don't have that. We are our own publishers (as well as editors, designers, marketing team and accountants). Our books go on sale when WE decide they're ready, not when one of the Big Six validates us. We usually keep our day jobs, too. So, when does it become "proper"? It's not so easy to define.
*Warning- brief rant coming up*

Friday, 26 April 2013

Friday Five: Five things I haven't done that you probably have.

Do you remember that game we used to play- "I've Never Ever..."?

The idea (for those who have led sheltered lives) was to get drunk and embarrass your friends by outing their darkest secrets. For example, "I've never ever snogged (insert name of geek here) at the school disco when I was thirteen" would ensure my friend had to knock back a shot but I didn't. Much hilarity, and possibly a passive-aggressive revenge for eating the last Rolo.

I don't consider myself to have lead a sheltered life by any means; I've travelled to some awesome places and done some amazing things- I've got some good stories to tell! Yet there are still some "common experiences" I have yet to experience. I bet you've done at least three of the things on my "Never Ever" list.

Line up the shots and read on...