Writer of historical fiction, blogger, mum, pet lover :)


June 2016

June 30 Challenge

June 1-30 challenge

Day 30 Thirty Books

June 30, 1936. Margaret Mitchell’s book, Gone with the Wind, was published. 

Your last Challenge!

Have you dreamed of writing a novel? Set a timer for thirty minutes and free write! Write whatever comes to mind, then take just a few moments to do some simple editing such as correcting grammar and spelling.

Alternative: Have you read Gone with the Wind? Do you want to read it? What books do you want to read? What books have you read that you recommend? What books do you not recommend or will you not read?

Then grab a cool drink and relax. Sit down and read a good book. You’ve worked hard and completed the June 1-30 Challenge for 2016! Congratulations!

 Books I recommend (and loved!)

  1. Elizabeth Gilbert – The Signature of All things. This book blew me away with its total research of the Victorian era and the evolution theory. Also beautifully written by Gilbert.I will never look at  moss the same way!
  2. Tracey Chevalier – At the Edge of the Orchard. A historical fiction book.This tells the story of the first apple trees that were cultivated across the US. The research is excellent, and I loved the main character, Robert Goodenough and his adventures.
  3. Peggy Frew – Hope Farm. Just finished reading this and it is wonderful. Silver lives in a hippie commune in rural Australia with her mum Ishtar. She is the main storyteller, and as the story unravels we understand the awkwardness of a teenager growing up in that environment. Gorgeous book.
  4. M.L.Stedman – The Light between Oceans. This is another historical fiction piece ( I love them). Its set at the start of the last century, and tells of a lighthouse keeper who finds a dead man and a baby washed up on the beach whilst he’d maintaining the lighthouse. Set in Western Australia it is a remarkable read. I loved every page
  5. Hannah Kent – Burial Rites. A historical fiction book, it tells of Agnes Magnusdottir,  the last woman to be executed in Iceland. A glorious read! 

    Book The signature of all things
    Loved this.
  6. Mary Kubica – Pretty Baby. Set in Chicago, this is a psychological thriller that I read in one weekend! A real page turner, I could not put it down. It was fast paced and intriguing until the very last page.
  7. Stephen King  – 11/22/63  Anything by him really, but this is a recent favorite, a time traveler gem.What would you do if you could go back in time? What would you change? King covers the problem and the solution in this book.
  8. Geraldine Brooks – Year of Wonders. A fabulous story set in northern England during the Black Plague, in which a village decides to cut itself off from the rest of the world to avoid spreading the disease. Based on a true story, I loved the main character of Anna, although it was an intriguing ending!
  9. Jodi Picoult – The Story teller. Beautifully written, the main character of Sage is lovely as she listens to her grandmother Minka’s experiences of the Holocaust. It moved me to tears, it is such an emotive book. I also loved her book Leaving Time.
  10.  Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. This is a YA book, recommended to me, and I am happy to recommend it to everyone. It follows the story of 15 year old Christopher, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, who manages to solve the crime of the dead dog and become reunited with his mum. A heart warming tale, well worth a recommendation.
  11. Graham Masterton – White Bones. Masterton usually writes pure horror books, but this book is a horror/crime, and has the leading character as a female detective, Kate Maguire. Its set in Ireland, and is a superior horror crime read.
  12. Emma Donoghue – Room. Now an Oscar winning film, Room tells of little 5 year old Jack and his mother (ma), who are living in a confined room, after ma is kidnapped. Emotive and well written, I would recommend reading the book before seeing the film!
  13. Paula Hawkins – The Girl on the Train. Also becoming a film shortly, this is a psychological thriller that everyone raved over last year. And with good reason; its a real page turner that had me reading it all in a few days. Well worth a recommendation.
  14. Rosalie Ham – The Dressmaker. Set in rural Australia in the 1950’s it tells of  the outcast Tilly who arrives back in the small minded town to look after her mother. Another book that’s now a film, well worth a recommendation.
  15. C S Lewis – The Chronicles of Narnia. I have to end my list with these books, as they alone enhanced my childhood reading. I read all seven and loved them all.

Phew! That challenge took longer than I expected, but I hope you enjoy glancing down the list. Happy reading !!

Lindt Chocolate

Lindt bars
Lindt bars
Bags of Lindt sweets
More Lindt chocolate

On a recent trip to my local shopping mall, I discovered that they’ve opened a new Lindt chocolate shop. Yum!!

Needless to say, my daughter and I were straight in there, with a basket in our hands and an excited look on our faces (my hubby sat on a bench outside, moaning that ‘its no good for you, I don’t eat it anyway).

Rows and rows of delicious flavors, including Caramel, Sea Salt, Raspberry, Orange and Mint.

We chose a white chocolate coconut bar (why wouldn’t you?) and drooled over the massive bags of chocolate balls for a mere $60 dollars.

Heaven 🙂



June 29 Challenge

June 1-30 Challenge

Day 29 Track Twenty-nine

June 29, 1896. The St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad Company (predecessor of the St. Louis – San Francisco Railway) is incorporated.

In the old Glen Miller song “The Chattanooga Choo Choo” the train departs on Track 29.

Have you ever ridden a train? Write a post about a train. Tell us about train ride you have taken or one you’d like to take. Make up a story about a train or write a poem featuring a train. Share pictures of trains. Your choice!

Thomas the Tank

Photo credit

One of the most endearing toys that my son played with as a boy was Thomas the Tank engine. The show on the TV was wildly popular too, and there was barely a nursery, kindy or creche around the area that did not have a Thomas sitting in the corner, waiting patiently to be taken around the tracks by a child. He had a set of engine friends who chugged around the small hamlet of Sodor with him;  Edward, Henry & Gordon.

Here are some fun facts about Thomas:

  • He is a steam locomotive, designed after the LB&SCR E2 class of engine
  • The story of Thomas was written as part of  The  Railway Series by Reverand Wilbert Awdry in 1945
  • The story follows that Thomas was bought by the Fat Controller to work in Sodor, and became known as a “really useful engine”
  • The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr was the original storyteller in the TV series Thomas & Friends
  • Thomas was the only fictional character to be included in the Independent on Sunday newspaper’s 2009 “Happy List” – for making Britain a better and happier place
  • The 2015 Marvel film Ant-Man features a toy version of Thomas


June 28 Challenge

June 1-30 Challenge

Day 28 Twenty-eight Dominoes

June 28, 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo along with his wife, Duchess Sophie. This assassinated started a domino effect resulting in World War I.

There are 28 dominoes in a full set of dominoes. Do you like to play dominoes? Do you like to play games? Why or Why not? What are your favorite games? Tell us about a time you played a game with friends or family.

Or write about The Big Game from your high school or college days.

Maybe you don’t like game playing, especially in relationships. Write about that.

Alternative: Write about your favorite pizza.

Board Games


This is just a few of the games that my children have in the toy cupboard. More have been collected over the years and include Mr Potato Head, Barbie and Action Man toys, as well as Hungry Hippos, card and board games, Cranium and the Bronco Billy game (a favorite of mine, in which the donkey kicks of objects that are placed on his back, by means of a spring).

I discovered in a recent post that games go back centuries, and children have been playing them for years, from the Ancient Egyptian and Roman civilizations, through to the Victorian and modern times.

The earliest board game was invented by the Egyptians  (around 3,000 BC!) and was called Senet. It was very similar to our modern game of Dice, having painted numbers and drawings on blocks

Forward to modern times, and the most popular games today are to be found on Playstations, PCs, and Xboxes and include ; Grand Theft Auto V, Fallout 4, Pokemon X, League of Legends, and World of Warcraft (which has been turned into a film, I believe).

It seems our enjoyment of games is the same today as it was for our ancestors.





Selling Your Book In A Post-Factual, Post-Brexit World

The dream book for any author 🙂

Tara Sparling writes

Dear Mister Publisher,

I have written the best book. My book will be bigger than the bible. It will make cynics laugh, optimists cry, and toast. Before he died, David Bowie said he wished he had written it.

It is impossible to say what my book is about without revealing a shocking twist which has never ever been done before, so people will have to buy it to find out. Anyone who doesn’t understand my legitimate reasons for secrecy is a potential terrorist.

Book jacket quotes will come from Ellen DeGeneres and the Dalai Lama.  Bono, James Joyce and Donald Trump will offer quotes, but be politely refused. The New York Times  will ask to syndicate it.

Genre doesn’t matter because absolutely everyone will want to read my book. People who haven’t read it will pretend they’ve read it, but get eviscerated at brunch parties for not understanding it properly. They will then pay someone else to go and buy it…

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June 27 Challenge

June 1-30 challenge

Day 27 Twenty-seven Sentences

June 27, 1927. On this date the United States Marine Corps adopted the English bulldog as their official mascot. 

Write about any subject. You can write about a Marine, a bulldog, or an Englishman if you’d like. You can write about anything! But you must write exactly twenty-seven sentences. No more. No less.

Alternative: Write a poem with 27 words or syllables.


Holly stood next to the film director, a clipboard in her hand.

‘Cut,’ yelled Mr Spielberg, as she walked over to the set. ‘That’s it folks, lunchtime.’

The actors stood chatting to each other, tired after a long morning on the shoot.

‘Hey there, girl, make yourself useful and grab a bottle of water can you?’ The most arrogant actor that she’d ever encountered stared at her from behind reflective shades.

Holly shuffled off, reaching the trailer in record time. She grabbed a water, heading back.

She could hear the actor even from this distance, shouting at a young lad named Michael. Holly shuddered; he was a thoroughly despicable man! No wonder everyone called him Alf behind his back; A for a**hole.

Holly stepped into line at the lunch queue. Up ahead, the dishy new actor called Chad stood next to his female co star, a European model who’d decided to go into films.  Holly had a crush on Chad, ever since she’d seen him in that vampire film last year, where he’d spent most of the film with his shirt off. His poster adorned her bedroom at home, and he filled her dreams.

That was why she was so pleased to have got this job, working for Spielberg himself. It meant that she had a chance to ogle Chad to her heart’s content.

In front of her the little actor named Vance smiled.

‘Hey there Holly, good to see you. How long are you working on set?’

‘All summer,’ she replied, glancing over to where Chad sat next to the model. They were picking on their salads and mineral water, whilst looking at their reflections in the glass door of the trailer.

‘There she is, just the one I was looking for. Get me a salad will you, darling.’ Alf the a**hole sidled up behind her, thrusting a $50 note in her hand. ‘No anchovies,’ he smirked, sauntering away to the rest area.

Spielberg appeared behind her. ‘Hey there Mr Cage.’ he called. The actor turned at the sound of his name. After all, he was working for one of the world’s great directors.

Spielberg put his arms around Holly’s shoulders.

‘Come and meet my daughter.’





June 26 Challenge

June 1-30 challenge

Day 26 Marathon

June 26, 2016. Marathons are being held today in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; Santa Cruz, California; Lubec, Maine; and Arlington, Virginia. The race in Arlington is indoors. 

I’m not doing any of them. I may run or ride a few miles, though. 

A marathon is 26.2 miles. Marathoners don’t start out running 26.2 miles! They start small and train for it. They work hard to reach that distance.

Tell us about something you worked for. Something you thought you might never accomplish, but you did.

If you have actually run a marathon, you can write about that!

writing quote - Mark Twain
Photo credit:


I don’t do marathons. The furthest I walk is to take my terrier dog Billy around the block for his daily ablutions. Even then some mornings I just open the patio door and tell him to ‘do his business outside!’

Writing is my MARATHON. I’ve spent 50+ years growing into the person that I am today (mentally, not physically, may I add), from the inklings of thoughts, diaries and school poems that have been written, to get to my goal. My writing marathon has not ended, no siree; its just started. (I hope that by writing this down, I have not jinxed myself!)

Eighteen months ago, I took a wring challenge; a marathon of writing 500 words for a month. I took the challenge, and by the end of the month had written well over 15,000 words (you do the math), and my passion for writing was reborn.

Now, I write about anyone and anything. Everything inspires me, from a simple article in a local newspaper or magazine, to gossip from my friends and family; its wonderful.

As we speak, I’m in the middle of four written projects; my third book in A Celtic Trilogy (unnamed), a murder mystery that I’m really excited about, a book that’s inspired from my mother’s childhood in WW2 and editing Alice’s Secret (the second in A Celtic Trilogy).


June 25 Challenge

June 1-30 Challenge

Day 25 Photo Challenge

June 25, 1967. Broadcasting of the first live global satellite television program took place on this date. It was a show called Our World

Without the invention of the camera, we would not have television.

Today is your last photo challenge! This one may seem difficult, but you can do it!

Using your camera, take a video about Your World and share it.

Alternative: Post a picture representing the number 25. It can be twenty-five items, twenty-five people, or something showing the number 25.

Alternative: Post a gallery of 25 photos that have a shared theme. You can cheat a bit on this one and post five galleries each with five photos having a shared theme.


25 Toys 

This picture is just part of my daughter’s toy collection. We have bought and collected toys for her over the years as we have traveled around and at Christmas/birthdays. She went through a stage when she loved the cute beanie kids, so she has a few of them, plus toys that we’ve bought in the Warner Bros shops and Disney stores.

A brief history of toys

-Egyptian children played similar games to the children of today, including; dolls, marbles, spinning tops and toy soldiers

-In Ancient Greece, children played ball games with inflated pigs bladders

-Roman children loved wooden toys and clay dolls and hoops. They also enjoyed board games

-In the 16th century, wooden toys were still popular, along with games such as ‘cup & ball’

-The first dolls house was made in Germany in 1558

-By 1693, board games involving dice and letters were encouraged, to improve learning of the alphabet

-The first puzzle was invented, 1767

-Then, in the 19th century, families acquired rocking horses and clockwork toys, and clockwork trains became a popular part of Victorian life

-Modern toys include; Mt Potato Head (1952), Barbie (1959), the Skateboard (1958) and the Tamagotchi (1996).




June 24 Challenge

June 1-30 Challenge

Day 24 Twenty-four Carat Gold

June 24, 1509.  Henry VIII was crowned King of England. 

Henry the eighth valued a male heir. He wanted one. He wanted a wife who could give him one. He left the Church and created his own church so he could get divorced and marry a new wife.

Twenty-four carat gold is valuable. Some value riches above all else.

Tell us what is valuable to you. What do you treasure? Write about your treasure.

My Family

We arrived in Australia exactly ten years ago on the 6 June 2006. We had two children and two suitcases in tow, and a bunch of qualifications tucked into our hand luggage.

We were full of hope and excited for the future. Australia was booming, and the job section of the newspapers was so thick, they had to split the papers up. I had a nursing job within weeks, then Jeff worked shifts in a furniture factory. The kids settled into a local school (and has firm friends from there to this day). We spent each weekend in our car, travelling up and down the coast, stopping at picturesque beaches, exploring lush green rain forests and  visiting such towns as the hippie Byron Bay in NSW and the Sunshine coastline north of Brisbane.

Then, after two years of exploring, we took off and traveled across this vast continent, not stopping until we’d reached Perth.We drove through two time zones, crossed the Nullabor Plain (so called because nothing and no one lives there, but I beg to differ), spotting emus, kangaroos, rabbits, then drove around pristine white beaches that bordered Western Australia from the azure blue of the Indian Sea.

Memorable moments that I will TREASURE, involve:

  • spotting a hump backed whale off the Australian Bight
  • finding the hugest spider that I have ever seen in a motel in Whyalla, South Australia (it was a Huntsman)
  • stopping at service stations and eating hot meat pies whilst watching kangaroos hop by
  • thrilled to see pods of dolphins off Scarborough Beach, WA
  • shaking as huge ‘Road trains’ swept past us on the Nullabor (the car nearly flipped over a few times as the huge juggernauts drove past)

These are memories that I will always TREASURE spent with the people that I TREASURE most in the world; my family.


humpback whale
Humpback whale, Australian Bight Photo credit

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