Thursday, May 23, 2013

Come and visit...

 Do come and visit my website ;-)


Steam and Stir-fry

I’m currently writing my third novel, and have two others brewing in the furthest reaches of my mindbiding their time until I have timetime to write, time to be, time to listen to the needs of my characters.

When I finished Mosaic, I figured it would be the only novel I’d ever write, and I said to more than one person “I only have one novel in me” ~ I write non-fiction.that was, until March 23rd, as I was making dinner. 

The radio was on softly in the background and I heard the name Bluey. It reminded me of an amazing friend I had. I met Bluey when I was ten.skiving from a school sports day. He was in his 50s, and his truck had broken down by the side of the road. The boys I was bunking off school with started talking to him about trucksbut somehow they ended up heading down to the river and I stayed behind and talked to Bluey. We talked for hours about all things esoteric, and he read my palm. We swapped addresses, and became dear friends. 

So when I heard the name Bluey on the radio, I thought about him, and then I wondered if any women were ever called Bluey? I thought about it as a character name, and within half an hour I had the story for Bluey’s Café. That book was written in five days (if only covers got to be painted that quickly!), and it is such a pleasure to have the time to sit with the characters and fine-tune the writing.

And then I thoughtI couldn’t have any more novels in me, and no sooner did that thought occur to me than characters, locations and storylines were nipping at my thoughts. And nownow I can’t imagine not writing novels for the rest of my life! Funny that. But of course, it could all change tomorrow.

I come to the keyboard hours before my family wakes upand I meet the page. I step back into the world of my characters. But the truth is they’re with me all the time, particularly in the shower (lost of ideas and inspiration in that ten minutes of hot, steamy bliss each morning), and when I’m cooking a tasty meal.  Perhaps it’s because they’re both such sensual experiences, and to write you need to get out of your head and feel. The scent of basil leaves ripped into my tomato salad, or the taste of stem ginger in the heart of a chocolate cupcake; rose and geranium soap on my skin ~ these are the simple pleasures which ignite the writing brain.

The characters carry on conversations, share their feelings with each other, and I I eavesdrop. Many of their conversations and anxieties and pleasures may not make it into the book, but it gives me a strong sense of who they are.

Happily Ever After by Veronika Sophia Robinson

Let me just say that no matter how many novels I end up writing, they will always have a happily-ever-after ending. Why? 

We all need to hope; need moments in life where we can feel good, where we can feel like we're 'home'. So, no matter what drama, torture, tragedy or pain I put my characters through (or indeed, that they put me through), we will come to a point where we can both breathe ~ where we can say 'life feels good right now'.

And I want my readers to sigh when they read the last page; to come through the journey and feel that, just for now, it's going to be okay. Why? Because we ALL deserve the chance to feel good.

As I young woman I walked out of the cinema at the end of the movie, Somersby, crying my eyes out. I was utterly distraught. The usher stopped me and asked if I was okay. 'No. It had the wrong ending', was all I could blub out. And I wasn't any better at the end of The Bridges of Madison County. 

My characters will always have a happily ever after....even if they don't know it yet!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Names or Numbers?

I'm always intrigued as to what causes an author to choose chapter numbers or chapter names...

Perhaps it's my aversion to numbers and maths in general, but I can't imagine writing a book using numbers for a chapter...Where's the description? Where's the lure? What's the chapter about? 1, 2, 3....well, it's obvious that we're counting our way through the book so let's flavour it up with some names. Right? It's a personal choice, of course, and some publishers may well insist on numbers.

Some of the chapter titles I've used in Mosaic and Bluey's Cafe include:

Love Never Dies
The Midwife's Cottage
Chalkboard Menu
Hot 'n' Spicy
The Old Rainwater Tank
On the Widow's Doorstep
Market Day in the Village
The Children's Labyrinth

Would my books feel different if I'd simply counted: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5? They would to me, that's for sure.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Violin by Anne Rice

The downside (no, there's not one really) to my new goal of reading a novel a week is that it leaves little time to write blogs! I bought Violin by Anne Rice because the title caught my eye. My daughter, Bethany, plays grade eight violin, and is lead violinist in the Cumbria Youth Orchestra, and I thought perhaps it might interest her...until I read the back! And then I thought 'She can wait, I'm reading this!' And I'm so glad I did. It was unlike anything I've read in a long time.

I don't want to give too much of the storyline away, but essentially the main character is in the depths of grief ~ her husband has just died of AIDS. This isn't the first time she'w walked through the valley of loss. 

She hears the violin of the ghost of a Russian aristocrat and it is like a healing balm to her pain....well, for a while, at least...until he tries to drive her mad. What he doesn't count on is her strength. It's not a storyline that I'm going to forget in a hurry. If you enjoy books which make you think, then this most certainly fits into that category.

I'm currently near the end of the second book of the Three Sisters Island trilogy by Nora Roberts ~ and LOVING it! No doubt that's what my next blog will be.

Meanwhile, I'm also reading the manuscript of my daughter Eliza's current book...set in a fantasy world of elemental magic (ironic, as that is the theme in the Three Sisters books!). And in my spare time (laughing) I'm working on the second draft of my novel, Bluey's Café . No rest for the wicked, then...

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Mosaic by Veronika Sophia Robinson

What readers are saying about Mosaic:

I read this in about three days, a miracle seeing as I never usually get time to read anything with having children 24/7, but you know when you find a good book you can't put it down. I knew it would be, thanks Veronika. Becky.

Really really enjoyed MOSAIC; it reminds me a bit of 'Love Actually' and that's a compliment! Thank you Veronika, it arrived at the perfect time 'Flu plus a self imposed 'screen free' week. And I DID cry! Xxx Elizabeth. France.

What a beautiful story it is, I so enjoyed reading it, so much so that I read it all in one go with sleeping children cuddled up around me! I think you are a really powerful healer, and your words are your medicine. They offer the potential to heal and reveal to the depths of the human heart and soul. The wise women in your story are archetypes for our time, offering grace, truth and wisdom. I love the way you include so many aspects of natural birthing and parenting, and liked to imagine younger women reading this then exploring these ideas for themselves and making them a reality when they become mothers for themselves. A beautiful, inspiring story of the many depths of love and the human heart. Loved it and looking forward to your next ones! Clare

It's a fantastic book, I finished it last night (Monday) (it arrived Saturday morning). I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to everyone. It has the most beautiful description of a birth that I've ever read in a novel. I look forward to your next novel, Veronika. Michelle 

I awoke early this morning to sunlight streaming through the house. Making a pot of cinnamon tea I settled down in my favourite chair and read Mosaic. What a treat ~ simple, truthful, peaceful, evocative, inspiring. A time spent with friends old and new ~ Thank you, Samantha

Well I could savour no more and just sat and read it all!! I can tell you it takes a lot to make me sit down in the day and read! I have cried my way through your beautiful book. I have truly loved it, and am so honoured to be in it. I really am. It is a beautiful book, and I miss all the characters hugely already! Bring on the next one!! Mandy Bingham, Irish singer and songwriter

I just have to share that I received my copy of Mosaic yesterday, and managed to finish it already between naps and my son's bedtime. What a WONDERFUL read. It is poignant to all of us, and truly relevant to everyone who is human. It was an amazing catalyst for me into some of the sore places in my heart that are so deeply in need of healing; places that are affecting my mothering of my son, and are crying out for ways to heal. I literally began to remember how to cry them out as I read the book.

The first page had me... the characters were immediately like my old friends and as they shared more of themselves with Topaz, the main character, I felt like I had known them all my life... it reminded me how incredibly important it is to have a circle of women in my life... something I have been desperately missing since moving to England 2.5 yrs ago.

Topaz is a beautiful mix of already-amazing woman and one open to expanding and learning new ways of being in the world. I was inspired and reassured that there is still time to become everything I dream of. And the storyline unfolding in her life kept me turning the pages well after I should have been in bed.

It was also incredibly refreshing to read a novel that fully encompasses the parenting life I find so natural and comfortable... scenes of delicious
food, sweet experiences of birthing, parenting, educating ~ a way of
being in the world that is in line with Nature. Usually reading novels there is some place that sticks, or prickles; some place where the way "the world" assumes a way of being that just goes against what I feel that I end up with a bad taste in my mouth. Mosaic left me with sweetness the whole way through, even through the bitter, painful, tearful parts.
Much Love, Kirsten

A lovely novel with a very human theme which almost everyone will relate to. I enjoyed this book - it is an accessible read with simple but touching descriptions that capture moments in human life and nature in a very evocative way. I loved the introduction of important issues such as gentle birthing, empathetic parenting and the importance of finding a peaceful connection with the earth. I hope that the novel will open the eyes of readers who happen upon it and do not yet know the joys of such a way of life.
I specifically liked the ending and the way the author has not shied from the sadness which so many of us, if not all, experience - bereavement, baby loss, changes that are difficult to manage and accept. I suppose life is a mosaic, as per the title, and beautiful in all its parts as well as a whole picture - a fitting title then for this snap-shot of a very human protagonist and part of her uplifting, open-hearted journey.
Clare Sage (review on Amazon)

Thank you for sharing your heart with us. The novel was intimately moving; I would like to get one for my eldest granddaughter. Would you sign it from your heart to hers from her grandma? I so want her to read it; beautiful seeds will be sown within. Not sure if she will read it, but just her being in the holding of it, will touch her and kindle a deep memory knowing. 

Betrayed by love, internationally successful children’s illustrator, Topaz Lane, has a jaundiced view of relationships. Sworn off men for life, she feels embittered that she’ll never achieve her one true dream: to have a family. With her 34th birthday looming, Topaz feels like part of her life is over: her love life! When her sister enters her in a local radio competition, which asks the question Does life begin at forty?, her life changes forever. She soon discovers that everyone has a wound, and everyone has a gift to share. 

Available from or and good bookshops, Amazon and other online book retailers. 

Friday, May 03, 2013

The Aging Writer

Yesterday I shared with a friend how much I was enjoying the emotional, mental and spiritual side of aging. Inner maturity brings with it a sense of contentment and peace that I never felt in my younger years. Perhaps it's just because I'm a Capricorn ~ they're slow bloomers.

Our face tells the story of our life

I have to be honest and say I can’t quite reconcile the image before me in the mirror ,though: wrinkles, looser skin, silver-frosted hair. They all betray the happiness I feel within.

I would love to express this much beauty in older age (and now!)

The incentive for writing my first novel, Mosaic, was very much bound up in my fear of turning forty. Looking back, I can see I embarked on it as a therapeutic exercise. The book opens with a radio station competition which asks the question “Does life begin at forty?”

With fifty just 4.5 years away, I feel quite thrilled with the ride. A lot of the fear I'd felt at forty stemmed from the panic that there was still so much I wanted to do in my life...and time seemed to be slipping away.

It’s interesting to me, as a writer, that some of the highest-grossing films at the Box Office are those where the lead character/s are of pensioner age. Is it that not only do the elderly have more time to go to the cinema, but that they recognise in their characters just how very much life is within? Could it be that as the body starts to decline the spirit grows livelier? I do believe so.
Someone to grow old with...and still holding hands!
Now that I’ve added ‘novelist’ to my CV, I can’t help but wonder if older characters will start to emerge in my writing. Will I write through the lens of a fuller life experience? I hope so. And actually, it feels rather exciting.

Two of my favourite movies are The Notebook (don’t watch it without tissues!), and The Bridges of Madison County (more tissues).

The Notebook is told through a journal kept by an elderly man which recounts the love story between him and his wife (welling up here just be remembering it!), and although it shows them as younger people ~ it is the older characters which really tell the story: the power of their love. The characters, as youngsters, thought they knew what love was. The characters, in the Winter of their life, truly know love.

The Bridges of Madison County isn’t about pensioner-age oldness, but more about the later middle years ~ that time when you feel that perhaps all opportunity has gone. That time when it feels like the life you’ve got is the only life you’re ever going to have. Perhaps that is why I cry like an abandoned baby when I read the book (or watch the film), because I want to scream out to the main character (played by the awesome Meryl Streep) “Make a different choice!” Whenever I’ve watched this film with my daughters, I say to them ‘please tell me you’d make a different choice?’

There’s a lady who comes into the local coffee shop where I go, and from the day I saw her my heart said ‘that’s what I want to be like when I’m older!’ She has long, healthy, silver hair down to her mid back, a skip in her step, and a huge smile on her face. I’ve never been comfortable with old age meaning (for me) a blue rinse with short permed hair, walking stick, sitting watch TV all day or playing bingo or bowls. I want to have a skip or three in my step, a sense of fun and mischief, laughter in my eyes, and an unstoppable zest for life. I still want to search for meaning through books, experiences, people. I want to live fully.

I have an uncle, in his eighties, in the USA. He’s my late father’s oldest brother. And you know what? Every day he swims for two hours in the Gulf of Mexico. When I heard this, I jumped up and down with joy ~ I have this in my DNA!!!

Although my mother’s body (she’s 74 in 23 days) has slowed down (compared to how she was at midlife), I can still hear passion and joy in her voice ~ she lives in Tasmania, so I only have her voice to go on. Every day she’s out walking, enjoying the nearby parks, making herself fresh juices, reading interesting books, taking baths by candlelight, having a monthly massage, eating Black Forest Cafe and the local German cafe. She is still the same woman who made my childhood so rich by modelling creativity and zest. I have this in my DNA!!!

As we grow older, we realise it’s not about going somewhere…it’s about being does it take so long to discover the secret of life?

Storytelling and Clothes

I had a chuckle to myself today when I overheard my teenage daughters in the back of the car talking about their doll-playing years.

Eliza said she always used her dolls to play out the stories in her head, and live out the amazing, if not weird, plot lines. To her frustration, Bethany just wanted to dress the dolls and make them look pretty. Some things never change!

The first story Eliza wrote was based on two of her toy cats called Ty and Amber. Still makes me smile.

Eliza was destined to be a writer before she could even write.

One of my favourite children's stories. I never got sick of reading this.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Silence

About five or six years ago, I spent a couple of nights in a hotel in downtown Manhattan, New York. I didn’t get a wink of sleep. The noise completely floored me. Even at 3am, there were fire engine sirens, car horns beeping, people on the street yelling, garbage trucks banging about. It's true: New York is the city which never sleeps! Well, I certainly didn't.

When I arrived home, I stood at my window at 10pm breathing in the fresh country air. ‘Listen to that,’ I said to my husband. ‘The sweet sound of silence.’ I wanted to bottle it so I could have it forever.

I awoke last night at 3am to go the loo. How inconvenient to wake from slumber! As I crawled back into bed, I took about five minutes to just savour that familiar sound: silence. I love to wake up before dawn and be joined by the birds, and the sound of Nature in her various expressions is a delight to me. At night, I thrive on silence. It was nice to be reminded that I don’t go to sleep against a backdrop of street lights, sirens and car horns.

Long Meg stone circle, just a few fields from our home
When I write, I also like silence (birdsong is just fine, as is the cracking fire). But if the girl cat is in the room snuffling or snoring, she has to go out. It’s just too distracting. As soon as my family wake up, I head off to do other things.

I can write notes in cafés, in the car outside my daughter’s music lesson, and other such places. But writing from the depths, writing from my heart? I need silence. I often wonder how I managed to write when working in a news room all those years ago. If I’m honest, I think I was always side-tracked by those conversations. 

Throughout my late teens and twenties, I always came out as an extrovert on the personality tests. But certain events in my adult life, including chronic back pain for years and years and years (so much better now), had the effect of weighing me down, and taking their toll. My essential personality is still optimistic ~ and I truly hope that I always have the ability to see the cup full to overflowing ~ but something huge has shifted, and this is truly reflected in my inability to write in noisy, distracting situations.

I watch in awe as my daughter Eliza scribbles her novels into notebooks, day after day, never bothered by family conversations, movies, coffee machines in cafés or crowds. I envy (in a nice way!) that ability to just focus on the job at hand. 

Silence is my comforter, and Silence is in my heart. Perhaps it’s because, for me, Silence is another word for Peace.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013


The key to being a writer (indeed, the key to an examined life) is observation. It's about noticing the little things. What colours were in the sunrise? Why type of clouds are in the sky today? What did breakfast taste like? Were you hungry when you ate or did you consume food simply because it was that time of day? How did the grass feel beneath your feet? What does your lounge room smell like? Incense, fresh air, cats, last night's curry?

When we're introduced to people, it's easy to not even remember their name one minute later. Why is that? Why are we, in general, so forgetful? Culturally, we're taught to consume. And with that incessant need to have more and more, we actually absorb less and less. We don't notice the dew on the spiderweb or the scent of the freesias or how the crows feet on the corners of our eyes are showing the world just how much we've smiled. 

Next time you eat, stop doing anything else. Just use your senses and be with your food, with the process of digestion and see how much you notice.

When you're talking with someone, really look into their eyes. Notice the different flecks of colour. Life is rich, so rich. If only we'd take the time to see.