Writers in Warwickshire


Kenilworth Castle

What a wonderful day, here in Warwickshire today. Blue sky, blossoms blooming and a lovely walk and chatter with my writing buddy and pal, Patsy Davies. It so happened that she and hubby Gary were passing through the leafy county and stopped off to look around Kenilworth Castle. Time flew by and the writing chatter was in full flow.


Enjoying a cuppa in the campervan with a ray of sunshine breaking through.


We had a mini break on a bench by the lake, and chatted about how we must not leave it so long before we have another catch up. We also discussed our latest romance stories and how they’re coming along.

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Alan happily enjoying a quiet moment.


Kenilworth Castle

Blog update


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Popping in to update the blog as I’ve been quiet on here lately. Busy reading, and doing other things like knitting something small for someone special. A People’s Friend pattern looked good, so having a go at that.

This is what I’m attempting and done the back so far.

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What I’ve been reading lately, is Dishing the Dirt, M.C. Beaton, In like Flynn, Rhys Bowen and also catching up with several weeks of People’s Friend and Fiction feast, My Weekly and Woman’s weekly fiction magazines.

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It takes a while to catch up with the latest magazines, but being as I’ve had a mother of a sore throat and cough, it’s a good reason to curl up on the settee and read all those lovely stories.

The day job is going well, and now there’s less mud and more concrete and tarmac areas, so makes my job a lot easier and the people are really friendly which makes it a great place to go to.

On my kindle I’ve got tons of great reads… firestarter, almost finished, Highland Lass looking forward to reading, Gold Digger, Teresa Ashby great stories, and must write a review soon, This one’s worth reading as well, The Little Kiosk by the Sea, Jennifer Bohnet. Set in Dartmouth. Tons more as well.

When the weather gets cold and nights are dark, it always makes me want to read Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, and Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte two of my all time favourite reads. And there’s quite a good one tucked in there between them, more on that one in the next post.


Now with so much reading and knitting and eating as we have a smashing dinner lined up from the chef who is so gorgeous that I may just go and jump on him before doing any more of the above, my weekend is wrapped up to perfection.

Look out for a giveaway on the blog soon, and that doesn’t happen very often as everytime I go to give a book away I change my mind.




Lads night out

It’s the lads night out tonight, after a flying visit up the motorway, they’re off to see the dog racing, place a few bets and have some beers. They were in such a hurry that Alan gave them a lift so they wouldn’t miss the coach.

Iwan going outAlan going out

They bundled into the car so fast I only captured a shot as they left. Our Son turned and waved, but my useless camera wasn’t fast enough to capture that. I did take them by surprise as well though.

I’ve just lit the coal fire, which reminds me,


Following on from the promotion of FIRESTARTER, latest novel by Patsy Collins, I promised there would be a visit from Alice and Hamish, main characters in the book.

Unfortunately, Alice sent this message earlier in the week..

Hi again, Suzy Doodling!

I’m really sorry, but I can’t come today after all. Tony has arranged for us to go to an art gallery and then to dinner at Luigi’s. I was sure he said it was tomorrow, but I’d just got my invite to the school reunion and was wondering who else would show up, so I might have been a bit distracted. Not that I was thinking of anyone in particular …

Really dissapointed as I was looking forward to rummaging in your drawers! lol! Reckon you might have had something to go with my mad orange jumper. We’d have mad a fab double act. I’d better go with him though, Tony’s sooooo moody if he doesn’t get his own way.

Sorry to leave you to cope alone with a hunky fireman – poor you, eh? 😉

Alice Xxx

What a shame she can’t pop in, and Hamish has gone out with the lads; never mind, now here’s another text message..


Hiya, Suzy! I’ve got good news for you. Hamish is busy so I’m coming to see you instead!

Brace yourself!!!

Jeff x


Oh, there’s a knock at the door now, wonder who that is?

So, it’s Jeff, Hamish’s mate, how are you?

Wellll hellllo, Suzy! Tell you the truth I was wondering what I’d let myself in for when Hamish talked me into coming to see you. Once he told me he was taking me to see some birds and they really were! The kind with feathers on! That’s where he was today – down the sanctuary. There’s bad weather coming in so he’s doing something or other to keep the birds safe. Once he told me about you I wasn’t paying attention to that and I see for once he wasn’t having me on. You’re lovely!

Let me tell you I’m happily married, Jeff, and Alan wouldn’t want any funny business, so watch it. Hamish did call by, but he went off on the lads night out. Shame you missed that Jeff, never mind. Come on in for a chat then, seeing as Hamish sent you, you’ll have to take those muddy boots off though.

Thanks, Suze. I’ll just take my boots off – my very big boots if you catch my drift …

fireman bootsOh, married? Right. Oooops. Still can’t blame a man for trying, eh?

Wow! Look at all that grub! For me? Thanks very much, saving lives is hungry work!

corned beef piesgingermen

Pile it high and give it a try.

How long have you known Hamish?

Oh ages! Since we were kids, but we’ve been great mates since we both joined the fire service. We trained together and we’ve had each other’s backs ever since – on watch or off.

Did you always want to be a fireman?

Pretty much, yeah. I know how you ladies love a hero!

How does your wife cope with you doing such a risky job?

No lovely girl has got that lucky yet. Our mate William is married and I suppose his poor missus might worry now and then, but me and Hamish and the rest of Red Watch look out for each other and though we’re dead brave, we’re sensible too.

I know that look – you’re amazed I could be single and wondering which of your friends is lovely enough to introduce to me, aren’t you?

Oh, you’re not. Oh, OK.

Have more tea and food, there’s plenty left, go on, go on, go on… oh and by the way, do you find people stop and stare when the fire engine goes past in Hampshire?

Well yeah, I’m on board aren’t I? And oddly some girls look at Hamish too. Can’t think why. He’s all broad shoulders and so tall they could get a crick in their neck, all that blond curly hair and … makes me sick! But I’m handsome too in my own way, don’t you think?

Sorry, didn’t quite catch that. I’ll take it as a yes.

Oh, what’s that, you’ve been called away, no, don’t worry, I’m not in the least worried, I’m glad, I mean glad that you’ve got somewhere else to be that’s important, thanks Jeff for popping by….

I asked him earlier for any hints and tips on fire safety, he gave me this link.

Keeping safe over bonfire night


To order the book, click on the cover, have a great week.

A Man in Uniform

Hello, lovely blog followers, and new ones as well. It’s busy here at Jonesey Mansions, Alan’s painting doors, I’ve been for an early morning swim, while he had a routine check at the Doctors and back home for breakfast. Now to update the blog, then it will be time for coffee break and the cryptic crossword, that’s more Alan’s thing, I’ll be reading.

My writing buddy, Patsy Collins is launching her latest novel ***FIRESTARTER*** on 5th November and to help celebrate, I’ve asked Hamish and Alice to put in an appearance. This should be by the end of next week, so now you can see why we’re tidying up and getting everywhere spick and span for the bonfire party.

Oh, hang on, a text message has just come through, I must share it with you…


Dear Suzy, thank you so much for inviting me on to your blog to talk about firework safety. I’d love to. I know your son is a fellow firefighter and of course you’re a great friend of Patsy’s, so you’re almost part of the family.  Thanks for helping her with the research – that meant I got a good bunch of mates to work and socialise with as well as plenty to eat. Very important for morale, that.

I hear Alice Bakewell will be popping in too. I remember her from school, sweet kid but a bit shy. It’d be nice to meet her again and see how she’s turned out.

Look forward to meeting up with you soon!

Hamish Mustarde



Isn’t that brilliant and hopefully we’ll get Hamish to expand on what he remembers about Alice from school. I plan to make sausage and chunky home made chips; they’ll be wrapped in paper, the old-fashioned way. These firemen like traditional things I’ve heard. And as I’m in the middle of this, Alice has texted back as well. Glad to know they’re keen to meet up. Here’s what she says…


‘Hi Suzy Doodling!
Thanks for those lovely boots with the furry tops, really cool. Well, cosy-cool, you know what I mean!
Hope this isn’t too cheeky, but I heard about your famous green smoothies and Patsy said maybe you’d make me one. She reckons they’re the opposite of Dad’s wine – that looks great but tastes flippin’ awful. Your smoothies look odd, but taste pretty good and they’re healthy too. Would you?
Oh, btw I heard there might be a fireman or two round your place soon. Maybe I could pop round that day? Not because I have a thing about firemen or anything. You know that’s just a rumour. Mostly anyway. Just thought it’d be a good time.
I could bring cakes. Home made obvs. What kind do you like best? And the firemen, what would they like?

p.s. These firemen … do they have muscular thighs? I mean, I just wondered uh … because if they do, they’ll probably need extra cake.



Hang on while I send Alice a message back,

Dear Alice,

You’re welcome for the boots, but I have better ones than, for you to borrow. Tell you what, come a bit earlier, and you can have a root around in my wardrobe. From what Patsy tells me, I think we share the same dress sense. There are other things you might like to borrow, and yes, deff bring cakes, but… I’ve heard the firemen like flapjacks and shortbread. They are into the healthy eating, (obviously) it was them who told me about the green smoothies you mentioned. Bring the sprout wine, sounds yuk, but my geraniums need a bit of a pick-me-up, so they might like a drop. So so so looking forward to meeting you, and hope that boyfriend of your doesn’t object to you coming all this way. I’ve heard he likes to keep tabs on you. All for now, Suzy. xx

P.s. Yes, they have big muscles, Alice, from working out at the gym in-between shouts.


Phew, it’s all go as I said earlier, and I’ve got lots of sticks for the open fire, after knocking down that old shed. A few doors down, the working men’s club has a bonfire, so no need for us to do one, we get to see that, and the firework display is amazing. Then again, when I get the crackling fire going and settle down with ***FIRESTARTER*** the night will go with a bang.

Join me and make Patsy’s rom/com rocket up the Amazon charts….. You can pre-order it here…..

Firestarter_coverDon’t miss this crackling read, fun and frolicks and come back next week to see what Alice and Hamish have to say when they meet up. Now I must get on and make gingerbread, brandysnaps oh, and get the spirulina in ready for the smoothies.

Until next time, keep safe, and get ready for the fire safety talk as well.

Welcome, Patsy Collins

It makes me so happy to welcome my writing buddy and one of my favourite short story writers, Patsy Collins to my blog this week.

Patsy Collins
Welcome to my blog, Patsy, and as I’ve just finished reading Over the garden fence, I’d like to talk to you about your latest collection.

Thanks for inviting me, Suzy … and for the very green milkshake. It looks … different.

Suzy/  The first story is unusual, almost like two stories in one – it works well; what gave you the idea to do that, as it’s something I haven’t seen before?

Patsy/  I’m interested in the way one small action, or a slight change of attitude can have a big impact on our lives because they influence everything which happens next. With Black and White, I was able to watch as Felicity made one bad decision which gradually resulted in tragedy and then to give her another chance to do things differently.

Suzy/  So far, this is the third collection of short stories you’ve published. How do you choose which to include?

Patsy/ Having a theme helps. I do write a lot of stories which involve plants, gardens or gardeners in some way, but sticking with those narrows down the choice a little. Some of the stories in this collection are favourites from those published in magazines or placed in competitions. Others were written specially with the collection in mind. I wanted to provide a good variety of subjects so that the reader didn’t need green fingers to enjoy it.

Suzy/ Some of these stories are a bit scary, others funny, and some happy or sad. One of my favourites is Picture Perfect, and they’re all lovely stories in their own way. How long does it take you to get a story ready to be published?

Patsy/ That varies a lot! I have come up with an idea in the morning, written it the same day and sent it off the next after a quick read through for typos. I don’t like to rush them like that though (I only did it because the story was topical – and it paid off!)
Often I have most of an idea, but it takes a few sessions to work everything out. However long it takes to write, I usually wait until I’ve written something else, then read through it again. That gives me enough distance to be a bit more objective. If I’m still not entirely sure, I put it up for our lovely review group to have a look at.

I’m glad you like Picture Perfect. That was inspired by real events. Gary, my lovely husband, is a professional photographer. Quite often peculiar things happen when he picks up a camera. On one job someone parked right in his way and began unloading piano pieces from a car. I can’t witness something like that and not note it down for a story.

Suzy/ Which is your favourite magazine to write short stories for and why?

Patsy/ That’s a totally unfair question! I absolutely love them all … but I love whichever one last accepted a story the most.

Suzy/ I like the quirky covers of the story collections. Do you design them yourself?

Patsy/ No, I have a man for that! Gary produces all my book covers, either from stock images we buy, or from his own photographs. The purple writing was my idea though. (You’d already worked that out, hadn’t you?)

Suzy/ Have you any more collections in the pipeline?

Patsy/ There will be more in the Garden series. Through the Garden Gate is next. I’ve considered doing a romance collection, but at the moment I’m working on another novel.

Thanks, Patsy for popping in for the interview. It’s great to learn more about you and your lovely stories.

You’re welcome, Suzy and I’m so sorry about spilling my drink … I hope it comes out of the carpet. No, no please don’t worry about mixing me another. I’m fine honest!

You can buy Over the Garden Fence here

To find out more about Patsy, visit her website gardenfenceGo on, go on, I know you’d like another,  here you go now, drink it up…..

spirulinaAnother author interview next month.

When Suzy met Patsy.

The travelling writer came to the N.E.C. and that’s in my radar, so how lovely that I was able to pop along and meet

my lovely blog buddy, writing buddy and critique buddy. Alright, you get the gist, I was thrilled to have a coffee and cake with Patsy.

Suzy and PatsyWhen we met, it felt like meeting a family member, and as if we’d been friends for a lifetime. I was looking around, and heard Patsy’s voice, then we went, ‘yahayyyy,,,,, ‘ like on long lost family. Great fun.

I call Patsy the Travelling Writer, because that’s what she does, and is. How glad am I that she and Gary were at the show up the road. I thought perhaps we’d have a little chat for a while, and before you know it, two hours had passed, and they were almost closing.

Great respect for Gary, who didn’t moan that I’d hijacked Patsy when they were checking out motor homes. And we didn’t really sprout flowers out of our head with happiness…

Patsy’s blog…..

Our site……

Read Patsy’s latest story here….

Writing a novel.

Have you ever written a novel, and been struggling with characters, and wondering why these people bother to get up in the mornings? I love choosing a catchy title, getting going with the opening lines, then a few more paragraphs. I even get through a chapter or two, then the interest drifts off. Once when I got stuck on chapter 11, I went through my vast bookcase, looking at as many chapter 11’s as I could to see what goes on in chapter 11… You see, I’d got bored with my own story by then. Isn’t that daft.

So, to remedy this, I’m doing an online course with the lovely Sally Quillford who is full of good advice; isn’t it strange that when people point out where we’ve gone wrong, it becomes clear. Just like those detective stories when all is revealed at the end. Speaking of detective stories, I’ve just finished reading Paint me a Picture By Patsy Collins. It’s an interesting read, with Mavis being the main character. Through the story, Mavis becomes more and more confident, and has some romantic moments. At one point, I worried that her boyfriend was something more sinister. Won’t give it away though, as it’s well worth reading.

I have a few short stories out at the moment, and sending one to WW this week, so keep fingers crossed for me. To get to grips with the novel, and keep at it and at least get it finished, I’ve created a group on yahoo.com… it’s called writingyournovel where anyone who wants to discuss what stage they’re at, or how they’re going on is welcome to join. Let me know if you’re interested in having a chat on there and I can add you to the list. There’s one member so far, and that’s me. Aw,,,. The thing that keeps me going with this particular one is that I was on the shortlist last year at the RNA new talent awards. I’ve had good feedback from the lovely judges, so I owe it to myself to keep on with it. If you’d like to join, send me an email.

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It’s all getting a bit of a squash on our front windowsill as you can see.

Gardener’s World.

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Sweet peas are now coming into flower. They need picking every day to make sure more flowers are produced.

We’re into July, and a heat wave is upon us. It’s time for my giggle blog, but that can wait until next week. My latest news is that I have a new job. More on that later in the month. I start mid July, and it’s a fab job. The men’s tennis semi-final is a great match, not sure when it’s ever going to end, but if like me, you miss Carol Klein and Monty Don in the Friday night Garden programme, never fear, Suzy gardener is here.

I always find thyme for blogging.

Lucky four leaf clover, or shamrock to be precise.

Lucky four leaf clover, or shamrock to be precise. It has a habit of rambling along the front border. Gives a smashing back drop to the taller flowers.

I popped a leaf and a flower into my pocket before I went off to my interview on Thursday morning. Glad I did. Think I’ll keep it there.

Hanging basket

Hanging basket

Now here is where the nursery part of the garden is. Where all the seeds are started off, and where we plan and relax.

Come with me, through the garden gate and have a look.

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Seedlings of chard, carrots, swedes, beetroot and marigolds

Sometimes, I think the birds fancy this as their supermarket.  Alan caught a couple of sparrows tucking into the greens. Glad to see they’re sticking to a healthy diet.

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In the urn are miniature sunflowers. They should look a picture in a few weeks.

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Lush lettuce. That'll do for tea tomorrow, with new potatoes and some sardines.

Lush lettuce. That’ll do for tea tomorrow, with new potatoes and some sardines.

Before my interview, I went into the greenhouse to practice on the lettuce and tomatoes. I said, hello, I’m Susan Jones, pleased to meet you. They just quivered a bit and nodded.

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This old shed was going to be knocked down about five years ago. Then a robin built a nest in there. Now we call it head office. There’s a table, chair, mirror. Good place to write, during the summer.

photo (3)photo (2)You never know who you’re going

to meet in the garden. Time for a chat.

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 and I do know you should have the sun the other

way round, just that we were sitting that way.

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My special people

Oh and I forgot to mention, I passed my computer exam

ECDL Extra. The equivalent to ITQ Stage 2 (with knobs on) and …. I got 95% … I told my

tutor, that’s going to be my catchphrase for life now. Just like Mma Makutsi in the number 1 ladies detective

agency. The one who the gay hairdresser next door calls 97%, because that’s what she got from

secretarial college. Well, I’m 95% from now on………

Now it’s time to relax, the garden’s watered, tennis is still on, good luck to Murray, and I’m off to

read my latest book. See, you didn’t miss Carol and Monty at all did you. They’d

better look out I’d say.

Digital imageMake sure you tune in to the giggle blog next week. Also, beach reads book, ‘came as me

left as we’ is published by Alfie dog, with my story ‘Pier into the Future’ in there, along

with lots of other great stories. Make sure you order your copy.

A review at last.

cover artIt’s taken a while, but at last ‘Growing up in the 70’s’ has had a review. It’s not as brilliant as I’d like it to be, and the reviewer has read story one and two, and is about to start on the third, which is mine. Obviously I don’t agree that the stories don’t set the feel of the seventies. The second story about the Welsh rugby is about that year of the grand slam. I’m married to a Welsh man, and I bought him the dvd of the same which is quite funny. That was around the time we met, so I do associate it strongly with the seventies. Also story number one was quite funny I thought. Oh dear, I wanted to review it myself, but I’m not a glove puppet, so thought I’d better not.

The reviewer also says that we don’t mention music and fasion. Obviously hasn’t read my story. I suppose we have to be open minded and take what people say as ‘their opinion’ though I still think they’re wrong, and it’s a lovely collection. Can’t win them all though can we?

I’m up to 19,500 wds of the novel, and it’s getting exciting. Along with other books I’m reading, like Middlemarch, by George Eliot, Paint me a Picture by Patsy Collins, and Careless in Red by Elizabeth George, my Hats off to Love story is brewing up lovely. I’ve got, a hero, boy next door,lovely old lady, neighbour who’s boy next door’s Gran. Main character who’s fabulous. A gang of factory workers who are extras. Possibly too many characters, but I’ll chuck them out if need be later, at the moment, they’re in the story.

Free e.book.

Free to download from Amazon Escape to the Country by Patsy Collins.  I have the real book on my bookshelf and signed by Patsy too, which I prefer, but this is too good an offer to miss.  Also, well done to blog friends who’ve had stories accepted by Jill at Weekly News.  Mine wasn’t, but I can maybe send it somewhere else now.  Looking forward to reading those from Helen, Patsy, Teresa and other blog writers.

Being as it’s the pheasant season, they seem to dart out round by us as you’re driving along and aim for your side mirrors or front screen.  There’s more killed on the road I think than the hunters get to shoot.  Shame they only breed them to shoot them.  Especially as they don’t fly and can’t run fast either, hardly sport is it?  But if you fancy a little party game, Vanessa had a good one on her blog, try saying Irish wrist watch fast several times, that’s hard.  Now how about this one.  When we left home, working at a hotel over the Christmas period, me and my Sister along with the cook had to pluck pheasants!!! yes it was as disgusting as it sounds.  To break the boredom, we recited this poem lots and lots until we were too busy laughing to bother about plucking pheasants.

I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’m a pheasant plucker’s mate

and I’m only plucking pheasants coz the pheasant plucker’s late.  Now you have to say it faster and see how it goes…