No distractions, please!

Inspiration for writing can come from anywhere; the fascinating life of someone you meet, a place filled with history, a wild idea, an exciting – or horrible – event; in fact, life in general. But to make a story of that idea buzzing around in your head you have to actually sit down and write it.  Ah-ha! That’s the difficult part.

I’ve met countless people who tell me they’re going to write a book, but they never get round to it, and over the weeks the idea gradually fades because life gets in the way. So, you want to be a writer? Then if you’re serious, the first thing you have to do is find yourself a quiet corner, get out all those notes you’ve made – and loose yourself in your story. 

This is my quiet corner. It’s tiny, usually messy but three out of my five books were worked on here. No distractions – other than a bird landing on the trees or squirrels racing up and down the branches.

The things you do for love.


I don’t think Rome would have been Colin’s first choice for a city break, but I really wanted to get a taste of the area I was writing about. So, we booked a short break in October. Nice and cool for walking around, or so I thought. 

On the day we visited the Forum, Rome was in the middle of a heatwave.

And so, I found myself trailing a red-faced, sweating husband up Palatine Hill to the Caesar’s Palace.  I loved it! In my imagination I could almost hear the tramping boots of the elite Praetorian Guards as they marched up and down this hill; see the colourful parades celebrating the Caesars; and the magnificent palatial villas of the rich and noble.

‘Just think,’ I panted halfway up the hill. ‘My hero, Vivius walked up this very hill to get his assignment from the Emperor Tiberius.’

He used this as an excuse to stop and frown at me. ‘I thought Vivius was a figment of your imagination?’

Ah! Yes!

It was no cooler when we trailed back down the hill to explore the market places, I swear I could feel the hustle and bustle of ancient Rome, smell the meat, the fish and vegetables and …

Wonder if there’s anywhere we could find a nice cool beer?’ he said wiping his brow.

I dragged him towards Mamertine Prison. It was dark, suffocating place. I explained that that was where the Roman authorities threw their political prisoners.

He examined it enviously. ‘Looks nice and cool in there.’

The Senate Building, the heart of the Roman Empire, stood tall and proud!

‘I can just imagine the crowds gathered around those huge doors waiting for the Senators’ to fling them open with important announcements,’ I enthused.

 ‘Yeh! Shame! All that’s left now is a derelict old building and a rubble of old stones’

He has no imagination. But then he wasn’t writing my book, was he?

‘What a strange world we live in.’ I mused later that night as we relaxed on our hotel balcony. ‘Who would have predicted that the Emperor Nero would persecute all those Christians in this city and years later it turns out to be the centre of the Christian Church – the Vatican – the Pope?’

There was no answer. He was enthusing over his ice-cold beer.

God is never beaten

Anyone remember Kingsley Terrace Methodist Church in Newcastle.

I was devastated when it closed down in 1960-1 as it had been the church of my grandparents and parents, my Sunday School and youth club etc. It really knocked my faith. I couldn’t believe God would let such a thing happen.

It wasn’t until l reached a point in my life where l didn’t just believe in God but had a deep and meaningful relationship with him that l realised God is far bigger than any institution.

For me that’s one of the good things that’s come out of Covid-19- . I’ve discovered the pleasure of praying with friends further afield via Facetime. I’ve found new – and dredged up a few old preachers via U-tube. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed singing the worship songs I like and singing them as often as I want. Zoom I’m not too keen on but I’ve found friends who aren’t comfortable with church absolutely love it so that’s a bonus. Then, when lockdown began to lift, we had our bible study in a garden with tea and scones with strawberry jam. Never enjoyed bible study as much.

God’s never beaten, is He?