Category: On Writing

Outdated Language Tackled in Short Story

While misuse of words and phrases as related to race can happen intentionally, it can also happen unintentionally, likely the case with our modern day Sherlock. Nevertheless, Benedict Cumberbatch’s faux pas opens the door to a topic that is often considered irrelevant nowadays.

Sadly, however, it is relevant, and often owing to ignorance, if nothing else, the word is used inappropriately. That is why it is so important to educate and get educated.

In my short story, ‘The Coloured Girl’, featured in The Seasons, Isabella Chiltern finds out that the word ‘coloured’ is a thing of the past when her son unexpectedly brings his new African American girlfriend to lunch. A subject that often puts us out of our comfort zone, even privately, is aired in a public restaurant in middle England, at least in The Seasons.

In real life, it is often squashed as a thing of the past, at least until it rather innocently rears its head. Heads up; it ‘s modern and relevant.

Adapted as Guess who is coming to lunch,  ‘The Coloured Girl’ was featured in Love Sunday,  the magazine of Sunday People, part of the Trinity Mirror Group, in November, 2014. The Seasons is available now on Amazon and other online bookstores.



Short Story Featured in National Sunday Magazine

Story featured in Love Sunday
Story featured in Love Sunday

More good news for ‘moi’!  On Sunday, November 23rd, Love Sunday magazine ran an adaptation of ‘The Coloured Girl’, one of the eight short stories featured in The Seasons, my latest release.

Titled ‘Guess who’s coming to lunch’, the story unravels the thoughts and actions of high society English woman Isabel Chiltern, as she meets her only son’s new girlfriend, who just so happens to be African American. Surprise! Surprise!

A modern day twist on ‘Guess Who is Coming to Dinner’,  the piece can be read here in pdf format by clicking on the jpg to the left, and of course, the original can be read in The Seasons, available now on most online book stores.

Thanks to Internet shopping,  there is still time to purchase the collection in time for Christmas. Love Sunday is a part of Sunday People, a member of the Trinity Mirror Group.


In Oz After Being in Hometown Parade


After a three-week absence from home and work, I feel a bit like I am in Oz, but am hoping that I will find my way, perhaps more expediently than Dorothy did in the Wizard of Oz.

Lots of work overdo, including reporting the fantastic news that one of my short stories, The Coloured Girl, adapted as Guess who is coming to lunch, was published in Love Sunday, magazine of the Sunday People, on November 23. A paper of the Trinity Mirror Group, the Sunday People has a wide readership.

How about that! Watch this space for the pdf of the story, in case you missed it. Think of it as a Christmas treat, if you will. But still, there is time to bag The Seasons for Christmas or gift it. So I am told it is a fast and exciting read. Actually, I think so, too.

In the meantime, I must take the opportunity to publicly thank the Leary, Georgia, Christmas Parade committee for inviting me as their special guest this year. As Grand Marshal of my hometown’s Annual Christmas Parade, I had the opportunity to speak at a breakfast and lead the parade. Equally as exciting, I interacted with both familiar and unfamiliar community members. How very exciting.

It was an emotional yet fun event for me as I rode through the streets of the small town, remembering Leary when I was a youth. Like most small towns, Leary has had its ups and downs, evidently so in the population and other areas. On the upside, the town now has a library and yes, yours truly has three books in it. How about that!

Appropriately, after the parade, there was an opportunity to sign books. Many thanks to those who visited and supported!

Again, thanks to the committee and everyone who came for sharing your day with me. Having been back in the place where I grew up, if only briefly, I learned a valuable lesson about holding on to who you are, even if it means letting go of the past, so often necessary to spring forward.

Now to go forth and find my way through Oz; wish me luck in meeting the old Wizard, too.








Female First Remembers First Novel

Hardly seems three years ago that I wrote my first novel, The Barrenness. Recently, I was explaining to a friend how long it actually takes, at least me, to write a novel or a book. While it might look like I have churned out three books in three years–on the contrary.

As I have said in many interviews, it took me six years to write The Barrenness, considering the entire publication process and perhaps that long again to finish The Blindsided Prophet. As for The Seasons, each short story has been written and rewritten more times than I care to share. After all, the only draft that matters is the final one.

Anyhow, recently in celebration of launching The Seasons, I had the opportunity to talk with Lucy Walton-Lange of  Female First about my writing process, and reflect particularly on The Barrenness. Read the interview here.

In the meantime, find out more about The Barrenness, if you haven’t had a chance to read it and read an excerpt here. Like The Blindsided Prophet and The SeasonsThe Barrenness is available in both paperback and e-book from most online retailers. Enjoy!


The Seasons Officially Out Today

I have always wanted to create a coffee table book and though I haven’t quite cut the mustard yet, The Seasons, my new collection of short stories, comes close. Exciting!

Filled with eight intriguing short stories, the collection is sleek enough to compliment any coffee table, but also rich with good reads. Out today officially, The Seasons is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online retailers. Not only a great Christmas gift idea, the collection is also a great read for a cool autumn day or a cosy winter one. And it’s just the thing for a short train ride.

Umm, think I’ll take mine out later today. In the meantime, have sneak preview right here.





Cover of ‘The Seasons’ Revealed…

The next best thing to seeing your new book in print is seeing its cover. Hence, my excitement about revealing the cover of my collection of short stories, The Seasons, coming in late October.

Ultimately, their journey is a quest to find the truth. A collection of eight short stories, The Seasons explores the human condition from youth to maturity via extraordinary characters, albeit ordinary people, who pass from spring to summer, from innocence to exuberance. And when autumn comes, they mature and persevere towards winter, almost intuitively, regardless of their extenuating circumstances.

For advanced information about The Seasons, feel free to email me here.

Literary Weekend in London Full of Surprises

I can’t stop talking about my literary weekend, so to speak. It was not only brilliant but also full of surprises – not the kind that I love to hate. Remember, those are the ones that I know are in the making. These jewels are nowhere near my radar until they happen.

First, there was the Books About Town exhibition to be in London until 15 September.  On 7 October the book benches will be auctioned to the highest bidder. Of course, we planned ahead but I had no idea how amazing the benches would be. I simply can’t choose a favourite. But I do know which one is the most sophisticated. Umm!

Anyhow, what are my chances of snagging one, you reckon? Nil, I can hear Paul saying in the background. Never mind! We had a fantastic time Saturday, checking out the art on the Bloomsbury Trail.

Not only are the benches cleverly designed, but also each represents a book or series of books, if you will.  While other book lovers blazed the trail on Saturday, too, so did art lovers and some, just plain old London lovers or shall I say lovers of London.

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Apparently, art around town in the capital is not a new thing and in all of its diversity, it is unlikely to become old hat anytime soon. In 2002, the capital hosted CowParade, which Paul and I had seen three years previous in Chicago. Fantastic!

Then in 2010, London was home to 250 life size baby elephants. Where was I? Though I somehow missed this one, some of the folks I met on Saturday will never forget it.

Two years on during a year of great hoopla for London, the capital celebrated Easter with more than 200 giant Faberge eggs. In a daze in 2012 for one reason or another, I don’t remember much about this stunning exhibition, either.

Thank goodness, I clued in on the book art, which alone was well worth making the trek. Still, bonuses not only included discovering more of London but also interacting with some of its people—amazingly sociable, contrary to popular belief. And best part was the weather, perhaps the most popular conversation of the day.

Speaking of popular, that brings me to the second surprise of the weekend. We had the opportunity to hear William Paul Young, author of The Shack, speak on Sunday.

Paul and I showed up at our church as we do, clueless as to whom the speaker would be. And this is not the first time we happened to be at the right place at the right time. Anyhow, it was a pleasant surprise to hear from the acclaimed author. While perhaps not as colourful as the book exhibition, he is arguably as creative.

In short, the book is a tremendous exploration of the human condition and man’s relationship with God, if you will. And Paul Young created it.

Four years ago, I reviewed The Shack. So I won’t do that again but I do have at least one new over arching thought about it—it is perhaps one of the most powerful metaphors of one person’s life that I have read.

Before hearing the author speak of his painful history and the bearing it had on the novel, I’ve often jokingly wished that God had given me The Shack, such a story if you will. Now putting all joking aside, I see why and how the author and his worldwide audience so deserve the goodness that has come from one tiny book. It is a big message. And at last, I get it.

Now back to those fabulous benches, you think I’ll get one somehow. Never mind! I’ll definitely find my way around another Books About Town trail, and soon. Can’t wait to be surprised!

Leaflet featured on BBC Radio now available

Now available to all visitors, the leaflet Beyond Barren: Putting Childlessness into Perspective served as the backdrop to my interview with BBC London Radio host Jo Good on 19 March.

“It’s a fantastic piece,” the talk show hostess said.

No wonder I have decided to make the piece public, which has been available only to registered users and journalists in the past. Now, visitors can download it here, directly from My Books.

Thanks to the women who shared their stories for the piece, it has been a valuable resource in getting out the overall message of The Barrenness: finding happiness in your own space, whether a mother or not.

Since I released the novel in 2011, the topic of being childless or child-free has become a hot topic. Are they one in the same? Some think so, some do not. One researcher explains that childlessness is not by choice, being child-free is.

In any case, it is a topic that is off the shelves so to speak and on the table. And with a bit of luck, this unto itself, is slowly lifting the stigmas often associated with people who do not have children. Long may the discussions continue, at least until all is well that ends well.

Expat Writer gets Motivated for 2014

Nothing like the eve of a New Year to get us thinking about what’s ahead. Though I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, I do find beginnings quite motivational.

Anyone who’s ever started a new job, a new relationship, a new hobby, etc. can relate. It’s an opportunity to start afresh and perhaps believe in the ability to achieve that life long dream or just do something that needs to be done.

In any case, instead of writing about New Year’s resolutions, I thought I’d have a look at motivators for the New Year. Certainly in this inclement weather in London, those of us here could use some motivation.

As the sky bursts into tears of madness followed by roaring thunder, it is tempting to curl up in bed and pull the covers over one’s head.  But in a world full of conscientious objectors opposed to listlessness, fat chance!

All around are gadgets, devices, classes, even books that tell us to just do it! No wonder I feel inspired. Thus, as we head for 2014, I’ve shortlisted four ways to get motivated.

1) Topping my list, of course, is the Nike Fuel Band. It so happens that I got one for Christmas and have been wearing it since, figuratively. I do take it off for sleeping and showering, though some people leave it on. It’s apparently waterproof. I’ll find out soon enough when I take it out for a run in London.

In the meantime, however, let me tell you how it works. First, you charge it quite easily as it has a USB port that plugs right into your computer, set it up, (providing personal information including weight and age), set a daily goal, and sync it with your phone. It has an app for the IPhone. Then just wear it!

The fuel band clocks your movement, registering your energy burned in Nike fuel, as well as steps and calories. You will never feel good about being a couch potato again. Never!

So far, I’ve dragged out the Wii, skipped roped nightly, ran around the house and taken stairs instead of lifts on a few occasions to meet my goal. Looks like I’m on my way to gym soon.

2) But first let me tell you about the next on the list– the Run Keeper running app. There are many good running apps out there; Run Keeper just happens to be the one that got my attention. The motivating factor here is twofold – a personal champion while I am running and the data that it registers.

With this app tracking my moves, I don’t miss goals. In fact, I surpass them more often than not.

3) For those who have no interest in sports and little understanding of technology, taking a class is a sure way to get you moving in whatever it is that you want to do.

I’ve been known to take writing workshops, running lessons and chocolate making classes. The benefits here are mixing with people and occasionally competing with them. Nothing like competition for incentive, which is one of the reasons the apps mentioned above both encourage subscribers to participate in the relevant community.

4) Still, there are a few luddites who prefer to be alone. Books are tried and tested motivators for this bunch. Occasionally, I settle down with a good how to book, even if it is on the Kindle, and before long find myself ready to make a move—to juggle, to play chess, to meditate and so on.

This holiday season, I bought my dad a book relevant to something he needs to learn about and need I say more but I will. He now knows more than the rest of us all put together.

Inspiring. Now to go to the gym to rack up some fuel points all I have to do is get past the rain, the dreary feeling inside. Actually all I have to do is look at my fuel band. So I have. And I’m off now to just do it.

Two countries divided by a thing or two

George Bernard Shaw is often credited with saying that “England and America are two countries divided by a common language,” although some sources claim it was Oscar Wilde who coined the phrase and others Winston Churchill.

In any case, I’ve never felt the phrase to be more accurate than now, having recently returned from the US after a two-week visit with family and friends for Thanksgiving.

From the glitz and glamour of New York City to the warmth and hospitality of the Atlanta, rather Albany, Ga., I lived it up and managed to spend a few days in the nation’s capital somewhere in between.

However, with my experiences but a distance memory, I’ve come in for a hazy landing. No wonder I’m being teased about using such words as Jell-O for jelly, and cookie for biscuit. Honestly. And shop assistants are repeatedly asking where I’m from and struggling to understand me.

Let’s just say I’m feeling a tad bit alien. Nonetheless, I’ll stay put and reorient, since I’ve made London my home for nearly sixteen years.

Bridging the language gap, however, is only one aspect of re-entering the capital. There’s switching back to the English coins from the chunk of American change I managed to collect, and the mobile phone,  the credit cards and the chequebook, etc. Who still uses cheques? Never mind, you never know.

And then there is adjusting to the major drop in temperature. Dressed for late spring rather than early winter upon arrival at Heathrow Friday, I felt the chill coming on, not only in the air but also in the state of the airport, even it if is one of the busiest in the world.  Having been described as a zoo, certainly by me, Heathrow and those running it manage to maintain a quintessentially British equanimity, at the worst of times, making the rest of us bonkers.

Lucky for me this time, I arrived at the best of times and breezed right through. But the same time the next day, others weren’t so lucky, as Heathrow practically shut down because of a computer glitch.

Outside of the airport, the atmosphere felt bleak by comparison to the warmth of Atlanta, though the weather has turned frigid in many parts of the US, including NYC and Washington, DC. Anyhow, I soon accepted the bleakness as part of what makes London, London—formal and steely at times yet familiar and enchanting.

Speaking of formality, sometimes it comes with excessive complication. Never mind that the parking app on my phone assured me that I was paid to park today for a few hours, yet my credit card had apparently expired. Furthermore, the customer service people had no sympathy for me and robotically referred me to the automated machine repeatedly.

I know, I know, it happens everywhere. Sure it does but you have to experience it in London to conclude that shouting and pleading are futile. Futile!

As for driving, it comes second nature to me here, even more so than it does in the US. Strangely, my brain thinks driving on the left side of the road makes more sense than driving on the right side, even if it is outdated.

Now for some sleep. Hang on, hang on, at writing of this, it was not even close of business yet, even if it was pitch black outside. Worse yet, it was only around lunchtime EST. Umm, another divider, wouldn’t you know it—time, a significant part of re-entry, absolutely nothing alien about it.

In that case, I’ll catch up on my Bo Peep (rhyming Cockney) later, I mean shut-eye, or shall I say sleep, a word we can all understand. Righty ho.