Guest Blog featuring Dianne Ascroft and Pearl Harbor and More

pearl-harbor-banner-allyThank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog today. I’d like to tell you a bit about Pearl Harbor and More, a recently released short story collection I’ve been involved in writing and producing.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Pearl Harbor. On 7th December, 1941, a pivotal event took place that changed the face of World War II. Hundreds of Japanese fighter planes carried out a devastating surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Continue reading

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New Release: The Good Expat Life

The Good Expat Life

The Good Expat Life

An exciting week as I release the first series of The Good Expat Life. This started life as a number of short vignettes about the main characters, Penny and George.

The stories are influenced by one of my all time favourite TV series in the late 1970’s (when I was very young, you understand) and sparked by some of my experiences of moving to another country and have been such fun to write.

The Good Expat Life is not a tale of renovating a tumbling down property; Penny and George live in a property classed as hovel status and have no ready cash to restore it. It is not about Prosecco by the pool; more like a treck in the wild gardens of their Italian casa. It is not about the golden, hazy days of retirement; more about learning from scratch the way to self sufficiency.

The Good Expat Life is about friendships; new and old. It is about laughter; usually at the expense of Penny and George. It is about the nuances of misunderstandings; the language, the culture and the odd malapropism (or what George fondly refers to as ‘Pennyisms).

Penny and GeorgeReaders Comments:

‘I love these guys…always good for a laugh!’
‘Very funny. The dialogue keeps the pace up.’
‘What a great opening – man shackled to a lamp post. I loved it. ‘
‘I had a smile on my face reading this, all the way through.’

Available in the following formats:


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NaNo Prep 1: Ideas

NaNoFollowing my post last week about writing habits and NaNoWriMo challenge, I thought I might share my preparation for the big event. I’m not doing the novel challenge but instead will be drafting a short story every day in preparation for submissions next year. I’m aiming for around 2000 words per day and in order to get ahead of the game, no it’s not cheating… Continue reading

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Writing Habits and NaNoWriMo

habits and Lao TzuAs Autumn descends in my part of the world my thoughts are being taken over by one thing. NaNoWriMo. As November, National Novel Writing Month approaches, writers in their hundreds… no their thousands of hundreds are sharpening their pencils, filling their inkpots and exercising their typing fingers. To NaNo or Not to NaNo. That is the question.


NaNoWriMo challenges writers to write 50,000 words in one month. 30 days. That’s around 1666 words a day to be precise. Every day. Now some purists say that 50k doesn’t make a novel. But that isn’t the point. The point is that a story gets told. Well a rough draft. It’s about forming a habit, supported by other fellow habit forming writers and watching your progress on a daily basis. Some people don’t make it. Some people write double that. And some writers go on with the NaNo project to publication.

There’s an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention.”

― Chris Baty

The initiative started in 1999 with 16 participants. In 2013 they reported 310,095 writers signed up for the challenge of which 14% achieved the challenge. So, it’s not an easy task and some do fall by the wayside. But again, that’s not the point. NaNo puts writers in touch with writers, develops local communities, provided tips and suggestions and a forum for participants to share information. It’s a huge family of writers and really it doesn’t matter if you don’t reach the target. What’s the worse that could happen? It’s about trying to form a habit. The habit of writing. For how else is that novel going to be written? And there is so much more. Two Camp NaNo challenges in April and July as well as help with editing and plotting the next challenge.

“Whether or not you write well, write bravely.” -Bill Stout

I’ve participated in four challenges. One I had to pull out of as a family illness became a priority and rightly so. I love the buzz it gives me. And I have signed up. But I have five Works In Progress, rough drafts of on average 60k words and my priority is to edit and revise them before I start another large writing project. Otherwise I’ll just end up with a load of sh*tty first drafts.

“It’s not always about writing more words or drinking more coffee. Sometimes getting to the end of a novel simply takes remembering that the world is more complicated than we know, and then sticking some of those complications into the story.”

― Scott Westerfeld

But I’m still going to participate because I’d like to encourage the buzz it gives me outside NaNo. I want to create a regular writing habit that sees things through to an end. I also believe that writing short stories can develop my skills as a writer, especially for scenes, which need a beginning, a mithe way to writeddle and an end. So scribbling away in my morning pages at 6.30 am I decided to write a short story a day. Around 1500 words, some may be longer some shorter but I hope to reach the target. My own personal NaShoSto month. And hopefully I’ll have some fodder for some competition entries in 2016. Who knows what can happen?


So what about you? How do you form a writing habit? And will you be participating. If so, my NaNo name is The Duchessa (another story for another time) we could be buddies!


Until Later,

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Free Literary Magazine and much more…

Issue 3

Issue 3

There aren’t many things that come free in life, not that doesn’t come with a caveat or two. My on-line writing group, Writers Abroad, produce a free literary magazine every 6 months. And Issue 3 was published on 1st September. Not got your copy yet? Well you should – you could win a free e-copy of our last Anthology. Continue reading

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PHB Syndrome and How to Manage it

PHBNo, no it’s not catching. Honest. But I’m willing to bet a cup of coffee that a lot of us are experiencing this at the moment. Sweaty palms? A tendency to look at the pictures taken for the last month with a heavy sigh? Daily yearnings for an ice cream cone in the afternoon? Maybe a G&T before 6pm? A dread of getting on the scales?

‘Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will no withdraw from us.’ Maya Angelou

Continue reading

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Generating Ideas

Generating Ideas

Generating Ideas

In a previous post I wrote about the Call For Submissions for the Writers Abroad 5th Anthology. Our theme for this year is light as 2015 is the International Year of Light and Light based technologies. The good thing is that this theme is open to lots of interpretation and it could be anything. So where do you start looking for ideas? Continue reading

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Call For Submissions – Writers Abroad Anthology 2015

International Year of Light

International Year of Light 2015

As some of you know, I am a member of the on-line writing support group, Writers Abroad and this year we will be publishing our fifth anthology, entitled Kaleidoscope.

Writers Abroad has published four anthologies in the past five years. We have gathered, selected, edited and published writers from all over the world. In total well over 350 writers took the time to write to a given theme; food, relationships and places. Some of these writers were experienced and published, others were first timers.
We’ve (the collective ‘we’ as in writers) have published 286 pieces of writing, weighing in at a hefty 250,000 words and have raised over £1500 for charities who are committed to increasing access to books and reading for those where it seems impossible. Who knows what difference this has made to one individual, to their choices in life and to their wider community?

From May 1st until June 15 we are seeking submissions Continue reading

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CampNaNo – April

Camp-Participant-2015-Web-BannerThis will be a short post because I’ve got my head down. Yesterday, in the first of my monthly health check ups, I mentioned that I would be revisiting my first ever rough draft. All Will Be Well is an historical novel set in WW2 and inspired by a newspaper clipping (it was in fact an obituary) Continue reading

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Works in Progress Health Check

Monthly Health Check

As part of my effort to keep motivated and have a record of my achievements (or details of the excuses) I’m going to write a short post of my current ‘works in progress’. I call it my monthly health check, after all these manuscripts have a heart beat, Continue reading

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