Thursday, 28 July 2011


My first post was actually on the 10th July 2009, but let's not quibble, shall we? I'd like to take a moment to wish my blog a very happy 2nd birthday.

I started this blog just as I finished my creative writing course. My aim was to develop my own fiction, share my thoughts about writing and connect with the writing community. After two years of being constrained by the academic treadmill, I felt it was time to break free and do my own thing.

I started with a prose poem Midwinter, and the first of many plugs of the month  being for my lovely sister Julia Williams, who is, coincidentally this month's plug. Although I don't manage to do it every month, I've been delighted to use this blog to advertise her work, the poems of my sister Joanna Clark and friend, Karen Annesen, and the fiction of my writing buddies, Catherine Chanter and Rachel Crowther.

I had high hopes of writing articles here, and intended to keep regular series going: Art and Craft, has featured Graham Greene and William Goulding; Sublime Screenplay: The Sopranos, ERFinding Nemo; Rave Reviews: Gilead and Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. I've got a whole bunch more I'd like to write, and add one on Children's Classics, but alas, there never seems to be time.

The main purpose of this blog has been to experiment in my fiction. It took me a while to work out how best to do this until my husband pointed out #fridayflash to me. #fridayflash is a community of writers who post flash  fiction on their blog each Friday and advertise it via twitter. Although I don't manage to write or read #fridayflash every week, in the last 18 months, it has become an indispensable part of my writing life. I love the discipline of capturing a story in 1,000 words or less, enjoy reading other people's stories and the warmth of connecting with other great writers. I haven't counted how many #friday flashes I've written, but here's a random selection that I quite like. Alive,alive o is the voice of the anti-hero of my next novel (if I ever finish the current one), A Day In the Life an experiment in twitter that doesn't quite come off, but was fun to do.  I like Tommy Rot even though it's very sad, and Submission which is based inspired by a  holiday I took in Morocco. Golden Girl reflects my passion for running, whilst Protecting the Legacy seemed the only possible reaction to last year's election. Moving Out is, I hope, a playful response to a particular curse of modern motherhood,  whilst Bad Weather Warning and On the Mudflats deal with some bleak political realities. I ended 2010 reflecting on relationships, loving in Night and Day, hard-hearted in Waiting for the Thaw, and comic in White Christmas. I've not written so much this year, but topical events have been a rich source of inspiration for Nobody's Fault, Blast from the Past, A Saturday in March,  Breakfast News, Rapture, and The Sheriff Rides into Town. Though my anti-romantic side has also been to the fore with  After He'd Gone, Bad Timing, and Red Shoes.

All in all, I feel it's been a productive two years - 98 posts, 30 followers, plus 300 on twitter who come and see me from time to time. I'll never have the time to write as much or as often as I like, but I'm quite pleased with what I've achieved. So thanks to all my followers, visitors and commentators for turning up, reading and letting me know what you think. Hope to see more of you in the year ahead!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Plug of the Month - The Summer Season by Julia Williams

My lovely sister Julia Williams, has done it again! Her fifth book in 4 years is flying off the shelves. She doesn't really need my endorsement, but she's getting it anyway. And on our birthday too.

The Summer Season is as bright as sunshine, as sweet as a glass of Pimms. A perfect read for the beach or bank holiday. Through the power of gardening and the coming together of a community, Lauren, Joel, Kezzie learn to  terms with what they've lost and find out what they need.

Happy Birthday dear Julia, may your rise up the bestseller charts be swift!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

#fridayflash The Sheriff Rides Into Town

I've always lived by the rule book my Father left me. It worked for him, and it's worked for me. In particular:

#Rule No 1. If you are careful, you won't get caught. But you have to be very careful.

Oh, I've been careful, so very, very careful. For all these years, I  have been above suspicion. My email is encrypted. I change my mobile regularly. I use so many intermediaries I'm untraceable. If a crusading hero were to ride into town on the whiff of a rumour, they'd find nothing but straws whistling down the wind. And if they were able to weave a tale from the fragments they found, well then:

#Rule No 2.Your friends are  your best defence.

I have  friends, such powerful friends. There's hardly a politician, newspaper mogul, movie star who I haven't helped in some way. They've all enjoyed the hospitality of my house parties, and appreciated the parting video as a memento of their stay. If our sheriff were to enter the saloon bar with impertinent questions, they'd rise as one to protect me, I'm quite sure about that. As for the tiny few who reject my generosity, ridicule is such an effective weapon, their protest rarely amounts to much. Should some foolhardy idiot dare stick their neck out to defy the mocking bullets, there's always:

#Rule No 3. Deny everything.

Our gunslinger might think he has all the shots, but when he faces me down at the poker table, there's no way he can win. Whatever cards he holds, I'll always call his bluff. My tongue will gild my lily-words, allaying the doubts of even the most sceptic audience. I will tell the tallest of tales, wrapped in the tiniest veneer of plausibility and the world will believe me, as it always done. Failing that:

#Rule No 4. Create a fall guy.

I'm fire-proof. I'm sure of it. Were our dogged loner actually able to penetrate the maze of connections I have created, he'd reach an impasse just before my door. I own my workforce. All of them. They know they have no choice but to hang for me, and, if it comes to it, they surely will. It is hard to imagine they'd have the wit to sell their souls to anyone else, but if they do, I'll have a way out. That will be the day when it's time for:

#Rule no 5. Burn the village.

If all else fails, I have other resources to fall back on. There are still places I can go where none can reach me, and I can begin again. If it comes to it I will burn my village to save it. It will be satisfying to watch my pursuer from a distance, as he warms in the flames of his great victory. A victory that will be bright, beautiful and pyrrhic.

This morning I woke to the sight of waggons circling, of vultures hovering overhead. My nemesis is swaggering down Main Street for our final showdown. I am ready for him. My bags are packed, the possessions I care about least are piled high. All I have to do is light the spark and they will burn.

My Father's rules have protected me all these years. They protect me still. For we have saved the best for last:

#Rule No 6. Cut your losses and be gone.

Dedicated to Alan Rusbridger, Guardian Editor.