Lockdown, Writing life, Writing news

M&B #91 accepted!

Thrilled to say that my latest M&B Medical Romance (my 91st book for them) has just been accepted. It was VERY tough to write during lockdown – given the events in the world, it felt as if my work was completely irrelevant and frivolous, and writing the book was like wading through treacle. I had no connection with my hero or heroine, but I talked to my editors and they reminded me that it’s better to edit a bad page than a blank page, so I sent in a book I was really not happy with. My editors said I wasn’t alone in feeling this way and that not only were other writers finding it hard, the editors were also struggling to read. Even though I work from home in normal s circumstances, it isn’t the same at all during lockdown.

While my editors were ploughing through it, I had a shift in mindset. Short romance novels like mine serve a very specific purpose: they entertain people, they have a definite happy ending so they help to lift moods, and maybe this is what the world needs right now. Love and happiness. And I needed to stop feeling miserable and bring the joy back. (I’d been doing that with Facebook posts including birdsong and my daily walk with the beastie and catching the sunrise – oh, wait, pictures!! Look at this!! More on my Instagram account.)

So my editors came back to me with comments, and I scribbled all over my manuscript (actually – maybe it’d be nice for you to see my writing in progress. One set of revisions, scribbled all over (it’s in track changes so I can see my editors’ comments, and I use a pink Pilot v-ball pen for my changes as it has a very fine nib and suits my tiny, scruffy handwriting). I usually have an Edit-paw-ial assistant sitting at my feet, but occasionally Senior EPA decides to sit on the dining room chair next to me. Pipsqueak obviously won’t be big enough to do that, yet, and I think he’d climb on the table and chew my pens at the moment!

Anyway, I’m delighted to say that Forever Family for the Midwife (the midwife, by the way, is a male midwife…) will be published in November 2020. You can find it on Amazon UK here (for transparency’s sake, that’s an affiliate link) and Amazon US here (not affiliate link). And I will do the proper page for it on my website soon 🙂

Lockdown, Recipe, Uncategorised

Lockdown – veggie soup recipe

Super-easy – takes about 30 mins + prep



  • 1 red onion or leek, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • about an inch of red chilli pepper, deseeded and sliced (or a pinch of dried chilli flakes)
  • 1 tsp ground smoked paprika
  • A litre of veggie stock (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes in juice plus fill the tin with water once or twice again, depending on the amount of veg you use)
  • Veggies – all roughly chopped – of your choice, roughly one large handful prepped per portion of soup (I’d use red/orange/yellow pepper, courgette, butternut squash, sweet potato, parsnip, a couple of ribs of celery…) (if you’d rather have a brothy soup, cut to small dice rather than roughly chop)
  • Big handful of dried red lentils
  • a little olive oil


  1. Heat a little oil in a pan; add the onion, carrot, celery, fresh chilli and garlic; saute on medium heat for 5 mins. 
  2. Add spices and cook for 30 secs.
  3. Add veggies and stock (and dried pulses if using), and simmer for 25 mins or until veggies are soft. 
  4. For smooth soup, whizz through a blender; for brothy soup, you’re already there 🙂

You can also get away with just dumping everything but the oil in a pan, bring to a simmer, cook for 25 mins (makes it even more low cal/easy effort).

Exercise, Lockdown, Uncategorised

Lockdown – exercise circuits

I adapted one of my gym circuits as a home workout and I did actually film myself on my phone to demo it – but I cant download it! So I’m afraid it has to be the ‘paper’ version (though I guess that spares you seeing the flab!).

Suitable for all ages/levels of experience. No special equipment needed (but if you do the high-impact version you DO need proper gym shoes and, if appropriate, a supportive bra). If you have mobility problems, keep whatever you do to a safe level for you – don’t push your boundaries. Make sure you warm up first.

The key thing is COUNTING EACH REP OUT LOUD – because that will fill your head and give you no space to think about what’s going on in the world outside. It’ll give you a mental break as well as help your fitness.

It’s a ‘pyramid’ so you can repeat the circuit, or do it backwards, or do all the exercises in sets of ten – whatever you want to do. (But count the reps, because that’s the mental health boost!)

March on the spot, do circles with your arms (as in lift arm up, twist slightly to look behind as you circle your arm down), do a few knee bends, move your arms around


  • 100 jogs (each leg), marches or steps
  • 80 star jumps (full range if you’re used to it, step it out if not)
  • 60 punches (each arm) – 20 upwards, 20 in front, 20 down
  • 40 squats (go as low as you can, but make sure your knees are NOT further forward than your toes) – or if you’re finding the move tough place a chair behind you and sit down and stand up (without using your arms to help you)
  • 20 twists (standing – or if you want to sit to do a ‘Russian’ twist, bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor and your knees together, lean backwards slightly, hold a tin or a weight with two hands, and touch the floor with the weight each side)
  • 10 bicep curls (don‘t swing your arms – lock your upper arms, start with your arms at 90 degrees to the floor, clench your fists and draw your arm up from the elbow – do it slowly, three seconds up and three seconds down, because it’ll make your muscles work harder)


  • hamstring stretch – take a step back with one leg, bend the other knee (make sure it’s not further forward than your toe), both feet flat on the floor and hold (if you can’t feel it in the back of your leg, widen your stance!)
  • quad stretch – pull one leg up behind you and hold (should feel along the front of your thighs) – might need to hold on to a chair for balance, and that’s fine
  • shoulders – link your hands, turn them 180 degrees out, round your back and drop your head forward, hold

This is the original circuit. Enjoy!

  • 120 skips
  • 100 star jumps
  • 80 punches
  • 60 Russian twists with a shoulder press in the middle
  • 40 squats
  • 20 knee drivers (each leg)
  • 10 burpees
Lockdown, Recipe, Uncategorised

Lockdown – cheese stars recipe

By popular demand… This is possibly the best recipe my mum ever taught me. Flat-out 1970s hedonism! Super-easy, brilliant for parties and afternoon tea, and everyone I’ve ever made these for has loved them – even my daughter, in her pre-vegan days (and she hated cheese!). Don’t ask me about the saturated fat content or calories because I’d like to stay in denial (but they are 3 Weightwatchers points each – worth it, in my opinion).

Normally I’d give tweaks to make it dairy-free, but in this case nothing works well enough. It has to be dairy cheese and proper salted butter. You can sub up to a quarter of the Gouda for cheddar and get away with it, but using all cheddar gives a different texture. This is my family’s favourite version.

Top tips: don’t skip the chilling stage (otherwise they spread and they’re impossibly crumbly and not as nice), and make sure the oven’s pre-heated.




  • 8 oz/250g butter
  • 8 oz/250g Gouda, grated
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 8 oz/250g plain flour
  • Paprika, to taste


Beat the butter until creamy.

Add the cheese, egg yolks and paprika.

Work in the flour (with your hands usually works best!).

Chill the dough for an hour.

Knead, roll out to 5mm thick, and cut out star shapes (my cutter is about 3cm wide).

Place on a lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 10-12 minutes then cool on a rack.