Wednesday 22 July 2015


Today is THE DAY! 

My new book To Kiss Or Not To Kiss - OUT NOW on Amazon and Kindle. 

Tonight I’m having a soft launch with friends at The Canonbury Tavern in Islington and I can’t wait to relax, forget about what isn’t done, and mark this milestone in my life with a fitting celebration. 

I may well have another launch, for the media, after I lock down a bookshop distribution deal. But today is the important day for me personally. So thank you to all my blog readers and future book readers, and to all the family and friends who have supported me to get to this moment. I really hope you enjoy my short stories –  some romance in bite-sized pieces.  It is the story of: a sassy redhead’s quest for ‘the last first kiss’

#love #romance #booklaunch #launch #adventure #humour #thelastfirstkiss #itswhateveryonewants

I’m touched that 30 YEARS OF NEIGHBOURS have posted an interview with me today, to happily coincide with my book launch. So this blog post is simply to say: here it is.  Read and enjoy!

(Read the introduction of To Kiss Or Not To Kiss and sign up for the first chapter FREE)

(Check out the author page and purchase To Kiss Or Not To Kiss or my children’s books in the GirlZrock Series)

Perfect holiday reading or a naughty chapter on the way to work!  J

Saturday 20 June 2015

National Kissing Day

I discovered quite late yesterday that it was #nationalkissingday.  This made me smile for several reasons:
1.       I rather like the idea of a whole nation celebrating one of my favourite activities.
2.       It reminded me I really should remember to tweet more.
3.       And yesterday I launched my new website to begin to publicise the upcoming release of my new book: TO KISS OR NOT TO KISS
Perhaps it’s a good omen?  Or like the serendipity which goes into a good kiss? 
I guess you’ll have to read my book and decide for yourself.  It will be out on Amazon and Kindle on the 22nd July 2015.
Meanwhile, I was asked recently to make a comment about my book for a press release. And this is what I said:
My interest in short stories developed from my blogs, with female readers in particular responding well to romantic yarns - the good, the bad and the ugly.  The book idea emerged over lunch with friends and, as singing and kissing are two of my favourite things, that led naturally to the book’s hook... and from there a theatrical title and musical theme.  It developed so organically I decided I should trust and go with it – like a good kiss really... you don’t want to over think it!
So thank you to all my blog readers over the past few years on and  If not for you my focus for this project might never have come together. And that’s why I’m making an exception today and posting the same news on both my blogs.
If you like to kiss - or you agree with me that a kiss can work miracles – please check out  for a little preview.
TO KISS OR NOT TO KISS.  Romance in bite-sized pieces.
#tokissornottokissbook  #tokissbook  COMING SOON  J


Tuesday 2 June 2015

Reclaim the F word

What exactly is feminism?

I do not pose this as an academic or even a political question. I am genuinely interested to know what the majority of people actually think this F word means?  Because frankly I’m pissed off that somehow it’s managed, in too many circles, to be seen as a dirty word.

I was on a date in Ireland recently with a nice man.  He’s too young for us to consider a serious relationship, but we enjoy spending time together when we happen to be in the same city. I consider him a friend, and we talk about all sorts of things – including his more regular dating life and the joys (or otherwise) of Tinder.  I guess our experiences are so diverse that we learn different things from each other.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love having friends in every decade and long may it be so.
But I was surprised when we were taking a walk after dinner when he stopped dead on the path behind me and said in an almost concerned or disbelieving tone “are you a feminist?”   I had used the word so casually, automatically, I hadn’t really registered saying it.  “Of course I am” I replied, still actually trying to unravel what had just happened.  That’s when it struck me – he and I have interests in common, and we are both educated.  Yet we are divided not just by culture, country and age, but by a political, social and economic landscape that seems to have forgotten we actually need the word feminism, and why. 

Since that conversation it keeps coming up for me, my focus and attention having shifted slightly.  And I cannot believe how many misunderstandings of this word there are.  I am not going to quote French academics or suffragettes – though well one might – as in the confines of a blog that may do more to alienate than elucidate.  Also there are theories which grow up around a concept about which even those ‘in the camp’ may take issue.  (If you don’t believe me look at any political party and the variants of colour and belief within it.)  Such is the case with Feminist Political Theory.
I simply want to say that there would never have even been the need for this infamous F word if there had not been sexism or patriarchy.  Really.  Feminism, pure and simple is about empowerment of the sex that then, as now, did not hold the reins of power or receive equal respect, remuneration or opportunity.  Negative impressions of the word – whether they be ridiculous undermining ones like hairy legs and no make-up... or bullying ones like ‘club wielding’, men-hating women – have been created over time by people (men and women) who resist that essential principle and only serve to prove that the word feminism, and the belief system within it, is very much needed.  

To be a feminist is to be human.  It is to be respectful and fair.  It is to believe in equality - not identical paths, necessarily; not unfeminine or unsexy or unmotherly or unhumorous or unapproachable... or any other thing attached, negatively, to the notion of woman.  It is to say that a woman has rights (and responsibilities) that are equal in importance to the rights of man. And that she should not be judged, limited or controlled – in the home or in the public realm – with expressions and measures which are pejorative or skewed in a man’s favour. 
So going back to my date in Ireland, it really worries me that even intelligent and educated people can have such a misconception of the meaning and value of feminism. I expect it, perhaps, of an older generation who have grown tired of 60s and post 60s ‘revolutionary’ debates.  I accept hesitancy more quietly from an older generation; just as I am more forgiving of people who fought and were damaged by a war and find it hard to get past their memories of that war and their feelings about the opponents they faced.  But when it comes to people in the prime of their lives, people who have benefitted hugely from the debates which opened up in the 60s and 70s, and with young people who presume equal rights as a default, the ongoing misunderstanding of the heart and purpose of feminism reminds me, in a very serious way, how much each of us, all of us, still have to do to ensure this ‘ism’ continues and flourishes.  We would think of nothing less for gay rights, racial rights or religious rights... so why is this concept so hard for people to accept whole-heartedly?

I wrote about this on my arts blog when I was disgusted with the ending of the movie, Kingsman.  And though that article received more hits than any previous blog post, I still can’t believe the community didn’t make much more of an outcry.
So with that in mind, my dear friend Emma G and I, had cause to edit our own language on Friday night when we found ourselves in a pub saying someone did or didn’t “have balls”.  We’d used the phrase two or three times before we stopped ourselves... realising that, actually, it was/is an unhelpful use of patriarchal language.  Yes of course it’s innocent in many respects.  The whole purpose of language is to communicate, so to use understood expressions or metaphors makes sense.  But do we always have to reinforce references which are not helpful to a woman’s overall place in the world?  Why don’t we say instead “wow, she has breasts!”  Or “he really has breasts!”  Or “he just doesn’t have breasts!”  (Or boobs, tits, knockers, puppies, whatever you prefer.) 

I am partly joking, but only partly. For breasts, are human organs which succour and develop life. They are not the only clever equipment women have for that (versatile as we are) but they come in pairs.  Breasts are visible, aesthetic, and make a strong statement; which frankly is more than you can say for balls. Breasts are also more resilient than balls; as many would argue are women.
So try it out. Hear yourself using expressions which don’t actually flatter or support the empowerment and equality of women.  You don’t have to change your vocabulary all the time – I offer this merely as an example – but do listen for it, and let it tell you what it is we gals are up against (at times, and in some aspects of life) and therefore why the F Word Feminism is so necessary and so beautiful - in fact, as ordinary, and beautiful, as breasts.     

Let’s reclaim the F word and make it fabulous!


Tuesday 21 April 2015

Sweet Surrender

In 2008 I left fiancĂ©, job, career, home, community, friends, family and my adored Mum, to head to Italy.  I had no accommodation booked, no itinerary, and no idea where the adventure, the escape, would end.  Perhaps I still don’t know?

I wrote two books about this amazing journey – the most challenging and rewarding of my life – which are yet to be published.  But I live in hope.  In fact after I publish another book in the near future – watch this space – I will return to those manuscripts with renewed vigour. 

Anyway after a few weeks on the road, with what can only be described as disorientation, fear and loneliness, I found myself one sunny morning in a town on the Mediterranean called La Spezia.  I was about to explore on train and foot the immeasurably beautiful Cinque Terre; five towns clinging to the rock-face above Mar Luguria with belligerent resilience.  With few clothes and a small day-pack, I hiked and hiked, absorbing every smell, detail and sensation until I was utterly satiated and exhausted.  (FYI my rental car with additional clothes was safely parked until my blood-pressure settled and I was ready to drive on the right-hand-side of the road again without nearly killing myself.) 

The day I really began to ‘live the dream’... to walk again in my own skin... existing deeply in the moment... with renewed optimism and levity...  was the day I munched on the world's sweetest bag of cherry tomatoes and wandered with this song on my ipod:  

Lost and alone on some forgotten highway, traveled by many, remembered by few.
Looking for something that I can believe in,
looking for something that I'd like to do with my life.

There's nothing behind me and nothing that ties me to
something that might have been true yesterday.
Tomorrow is open and right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today... and I don't know what the future is holding in store,
I don't know where I'm going, I'm not sure where I've been.
There's a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me,
my life is worth the living, I don't need to see the end.

Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care,
like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.
Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care,
like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.

I was already travelling to a theme by Robert Louis Stevenson... but here, unexpectedly, was my theme in song: written and sung by a man who has left a wealth of inspiration behind him... the sentimental but extremely sensitive, talented and loving, John Denver.   How many of us can say we have moved and inspired as many people as he did in his too short a lifetime?   And how many of us will leave a comforting legacy that continues long after our death?

If you’re over thirty, frankly, you are unlikely to see “sunshine on the water” without thinking of him!

Anyway, this anecdote came back to me today with immense clarity: when I was jogging on the waterfront between Port d’Alcudia and Port de Pollença in Mallorca.  It was a busy time of day, with cars and bikes everywhere, but the sun was shining and the sea was battering the coast. Watching windsurfers jump the waves I was pondering my life and where my next choices might lead me... as if one sea-side jog was going to deliver those answers succinctly... when on my ipod, again, came Mr Denver’s inimitable song.   
Sweet, sweet surrender... 

Wow.  We are all moved by music.  It’s the international language.  We are also transported in time by it.  And that’s as it was for me today – I was simultaneously in Spain and Italy.  I was immediately comforted and challenged to ‘surrender to the moment’... to not ask for ‘answers’... or even to ‘see the end’... to see the path... but simply to live... LIVE in the moment... without fear, judgement, pre-determination, or even a map.

And so I kept jogging, jogging faster, easier, my strides longer and lighter until, before I knew it, I’d done 10 kilometres and could have kept going had the coastline allowed.  (Instead I refuelled with water and eventually made for a G&T... but that’s another story.) 

It was, anyway, one of those FANTASTIC TO BE ALIVE MOMENTS: powerful and free. And I simply must thank God and John Denver for it!   

Sometimes it’s just the little things which make your day – to see, to hear, to run.  It’s more than many will ever enjoy and I’m deeply grateful and recharged by it. 

Go on.  Give it go.

Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care,
like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air...

   Highly recommended:



Tuesday 17 March 2015

The illusion of love

“Mum, I know it’s quick.  But when you know, you know.”

I was so sure of my man in that moment years ago, so in love and happy that I didn’t notice whether or not my mother shared my confidence.  Like a smug Dalai Lama speaking to the uninitiated, I looked over the beach to a fierce and crashing ocean and smiled, cocky and carefree.  I was floating above the earth... at one with the elements... blind and deaf to any possibility of disappointment.

That’s how it is with love. 

When you’re in love everything around you is rose-coloured.  You walk with a spring in your step and a sparkle in your eye.  You feel loved, you feel alive, special and appreciated.  And it is utterly intoxicating and absorbing.

As he sees your beauty, so you see his.  As he values you, so you value yourself, and value him; your mutual stock rising with each endearment and promise of a happy future.   You may think he’s perfect, or you may know he’s not, but you feel everything about him is wonderful anyway – everything is right for you.  And not for a minute do you question: how could you when it feels so damn good.  You relish and treasure every element of being together, of being close, of sharing the world which is now more beautiful and irresistible than ever.   And that’s how it should be; how the elixir of love is designed.

Even allowing for the infamous potion or magic spell element of romantic love, I have always thought ‘falling in love’ was the wrong expression.  It seems to me more like ‘floating in love’ or ‘wrapped in love’.  Yet I suppose whoever invented the phrase meant ‘falling out of your senses’... or ‘falling into each other’.  For certainly the experience of falling in love is a process in which you lose yourself... where, for a while, you aren’t sure where you end and he begins.  You become fused emotionally, mentally and physically.

I suppose this fusion is not unlike the closeness between a child and parent.  I remember from undergrad studies there is a stage in Development Psychology when a child actually needs to learn that they are their own being, separate from the people around them who respond to their every need.  It’s the stage when a young child will throw a toy or food repeatedly, watching to see if you are going to return it to them.  They are exploring that sense of connectedness and separateness for the first time, and trying to work out the difference.  And, though necessary, the journey to shape one’s ego can be frightening.  By returning the ball (et al) you are showing a child they are safe and cared for... while still allowing them to experiment with their own will and independent sense of self. 

The same transition seems to take place for couples, after an initial period of ‘falling in love’ in which you can’t bear to be apart and hunger for one-another no differently than a toddler longs to be nurtured.  It’s a basic and ancient urge, a prime-evil response to sexual-romantic stimulus.  It is disarming and hypnotic.  And ultimately, the experience of overwhelming romantic love is a splendid and explosive mix of satisfaction and delight... but it’s not without its risks.  

So what happens after this immersive period of mutual obsession?  It can’t all be a bed of roses or there wouldn’t be so many sad love songs documenting pain and disappointment.

How does one navigate the divide from total in-love fusion to acceptable separateness?  This, counsellors will tell you, is the tricky time.   How do consenting adult couples bring that love, and the best of its intensity, into a relationship which is more balanced, which allows independence and togetherness, without losing the closeness or security we all want?  How do we move from ‘the illusion of love’ to ‘the real thing’?  And how do we know when we’ve done it?

I guess we know because we have stayed together.  If the reasons for your instinctive, in-love, trust proves in practise to be well founded, you will feel affirmed and confident.  If the character features you think you love about  one-another turn out to be realistic (more or less) and (just as important ) satisfying and comfortable over a longer period, then you’ll be moving across good terrain.  If you learn to let go a little only to gain more when you are reunited because you have more from the world to share, to feed you, then you’ll be embarking on something healthy and sustainable.   If you can say “I love you” without needing each other every minute of the day, but are also ready to ‘step up’ and support and forgive each other when talk of love needs to be replaced by generous deed and action, then your “I love you-s” will ring true and you will know you are building on good foundation. 

Of course none of those transitions happen overnight.   The exhilarating phase of rose-coloured glasses, where love is filled with stolen moments and an unending lust for intimacy, may go on for an extended period.  It’s gorgeous when it does.  Or it may be quite brief.  The tide of life may be so gentle for months that you aren’t actually challenged to ‘test’ or ‘review’ your wonderfully smug feelings of love and sensuality.  Or tough things may come at you quickly and you’ll learn a lot from how you each mount those hurdles, singly and collectively.   And it’s the context in which you find yourselves that ultimately shapes the speed and timing of this transition.  But nothing is surer than that a transition will come.

In the best case, ‘the illusion of love’ becomes something even more special – because it can be treasured with a more objective and conscious realisation that what you share is precious and worth protecting.  This love is more mature - the type of love you can build a partnership on, maybe a life.  If you dare to be passionate and spontaneous it may also be intense and thrilling.  In fact if the timing for each of you is good, your personal readiness strong, you may make the transition with great harmony and little consciousness of the shift.  That’s how we’d all like it to be. 

However if you get stuck in the first flush of love and do not move forward... if you find yourself floundering like a beached whale with ‘the illusion of love’ the only thing keeping the wheels turning... you may well get ship-wrecked... one or the other of you abandoning ship for a safer harbour or perhaps escape for escape sake.  And then you have to ask yourself: Did I really know him?  Did he really know me?  Did we value what was really important or were we kidding ourselves?  There’s nothing wrong, per say, in those truths, however disappointing the answers may be; providing you weren’t dishonest with each other. 

But there’s the other thing: people have different capacities for honesty, just as they have different capacities for love.  So a love match, a successful match, is ultimately not only about feeling or attachment... it’s about a balance between two people’s ability to be honest with themselves, as well as their partner, and the capacity they have for active, generous and unselfish love.   Not unselfish all day every day, of course, but still necessary for successful coupling is courage and a preparedness to give for the other person’s benefit even if it isn’t particularly convenient.   For a big difference between ‘real love’ and ‘the illusion of love’ is that it isn’t just about you. 

And until you hit the rocks and hurdles of life, or overcome them to sail off into the sunset (as it were)... it will be well-nigh impossible to tell the difference between one type of love and the other. 

That is the risk of love.  And, when you’re lucky, the reward.