Blog: Mel's Muse

Showing posts categorised as 'Books, Reading & Words'

Mental Health Issues: Part 2 – Have You Ever Felt Useless? Or Unheard?

Have you ever felt useless? Unheard? A waste of space? As if nothing you do has any meaning or purpose? Ever thought you didn’t fit in? In your family? At school? At work? Or that everyone else was more successful? While...

Posted at 12:33pm on 8th November 2023

Filling The Void

Have you – or perhaps a loved one – ever had to face the problem of addiction? How on earth, if you're desperate to do so, can you go about giving it up, be it sugar cravings, alcohol, or even drugs? Or, better still, how do you prevent an addiction...

Posted at 14:32pm on 18th June 2023

Writing The Rights & Wrongs Of Life

Are you as fed up with the negative concept of society as I am? Every day we’re bombarded with news about failing governments, education, health and housing services, marriages, families and kids – and that’s without all the heartbreak of drug and alcohol abuse, and 3 million children starving to...

Posted at 12:44pm on 31st May 2023

Shining Forth Despite The Darkness

I wrote, a few weeks ago, asking Who Inspired You To Be You? showing how you can often trace your gifts and aspirations back to childhood. For me, it was the trauma of ill-health and an abusive marriage that initially lit up my life, leading to my becoming a bestselling...

Posted at 10:45am on 19th May 2023

Who Inspired You To Be You?

Who inspired you to be who you are? And how did that come about? Being a bestselling author, this is a question I've often been asked. But whether or not you're a writer, secretary, nurse, or whatever, this is a question, and answer, that could apply to any and all.


Posted at 12:34pm on 27th April 2023

Who Inspired You To Be You?

Who inspired you to be who you are? And how did that come about? Being a bestselling author, this is a question I've often been asked. But whether or not you're a writer, secretary, nurse, or whatever, this is a question, and answer, that could apply to any and all.


Posted at 15:24pm on 22nd April 2023

You Are Picked For A Purpose: Despite Rainy Days


In my last post I asked What Were The Seeds Sown In Your life? This was in respect of the gifts and purpose for which you are known, As we have been told in John 15:16 I chose you and appointed...

Posted at 16:09pm on 5th August 2022

Book Club Discussion: The Screwtape Letters By C.s.lewis

Click here for the List of Questions

Suggested by a member of my Book Club, despite the fact that most of us had read it many years ago, The Screwtape Letters proved to have lost none of its appeal. Apart from one lady, that is, who abandoned it on page thirty,...

Posted at 11:36am on 14th July 2020

Book Club Questions: The Screwtape Letters By C.s.lewis

The questions below are those I raised for the Book Club I lead. Click here for the discussion we had subsequently. Quotes from the book are in bold italics.

CHURCH: Chapter II
One of our greatest allies at present is Church itself. Screwtape goes on to...
Posted at 11:28am on 14th July 2020

Bereavement: Coping With The Initial Shock

"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die, and you to live. Which of these two is better only God knows." Socrates

On this VE day, when we commemorate the courage of those who gave their lives in WW2 so that...

Posted at 04:51am on 7th May 2020

Are You Having To Deal With The Death Of A Loved One?


I was reminded by my Facebook memories this week that it is now ten years ago since I was invited to speak on an American Radio Station about the death of my daughter. I wept. Because no matter how long ago the event, this is something...

Posted at 04:55am on 5th May 2020

Excerpt From My Latest Book, Picked For A Purpose - Showing We All Have A Worthwhile Part To Play

Are you wondering what your life is all about during the lockdown due to Covid 19? Then read on. My latest book, Picked for a Purpose shows that whatever the adversity, we all have value, and a worthwhile part to play. Here is a complete chapter for...
Posted at 03:40am on 6th April 2020

Book Club Discussion: I Am I Am I Am By Maggie O'farrell

We were nearly a full-house when my Book Club met, last night, to discuss our latest read, Maggie O'Farrell's memoirs, I AM I AM I AM: Seventeen Brushes With Death. We all thought it beautifully written, though there were those who found the theme somewhat negative, and others who...

Posted at 05:46am on 10th January 2020

In Her Words By Patricia St John - My Book Club Discussion

Although slightly reduced in number when my Book Club met this week, there was no less lively conversation and laughter. Especially when they discovered I'd bought Orange Club biscuits! The bottom line, though, was that we loved this book! A light, easy read, it nevertheless had plenty...

Posted at 09:34am on 15th November 2019

The Power Of Platform: How To Promote Your Product Without Being Pushy

As a writer, and author of books, do you ever feel - as I have done - that when it comes to promoting your product, you simply don't have it in you? The prospect of booking speaking engagements is beyond you. The possibility of standing before an audience...

Posted at 08:02am on 6th November 2019

The Battle Of Conflict - My Writers' Group's Take On Story


The main focus of our meeting this morning - midst laughter and chat - was the final construction and distribution of the booklet we have put together as a group. Titled Battle, and told in narrative, poetic and comic form, the theme confronts some of...

Posted at 11:21am on 23rd October 2019

Book Club Discussion: The Storyteller By Jodi Picoult & An Elegant Solution By Anne Atkins

Talk about being a lousy leader!

'We might find Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller a lighter summer read, rather than the one I first suggested,' I wrote to my Book Club.

That email was closely followed by another saying, 'Oh, no! Perhaps not. Some of the reviews say it is...

Posted at 09:25am on 20th September 2019

Creative Writing Workshop: Crafting Character

Today we're going to look at Crafting Character, and its importance in terms of plot and theme. This was the topic of the previous post in this series - the way in which The Riverbed of Theme runs through the narrative of a story, be it fictional or memoir....

Posted at 04:18am on 26th July 2019

What's Wrong With Human Rights? By David Cross - Book Club Summary

Quotes from the book are in italics.

Never, before, have I made so many highlights in a book! As my Book Club members said when we met yesterday evening, this was certainly a narrative that opened up debate, on a subject not often discussed. With so much material to...

Posted at 10:20am on 13th July 2019

Bodacious The Shepherd Cat By Suzanna Crampton

'What I love about Book Club, is that it makes me read books I might never, otherwise, have chosen.'

So said one member of our group when we met, yesterday, to discuss our take on Bodacious, The Shepherd Cat. How right she was! A book, supposedly written by a...

Posted at 09:43am on 16th May 2019

Creative Writing Workshop: Digging Deep For Plots

In the Introduction of this Creative Writing Workshop, I asked the question, Are You On the Right Track? There was nothing flippant about this. Before you begin to write your book, there are questions to be asked. And answered!

The content of this, and future tutorials, will...

Posted at 08:38am on 30th March 2019

Creative Writing Workshop Introduction - Are You On The Right Track?

Right, let's see. Are you on the right track? Is it that you want to write a book but don't know where to start? Or that you've already written your book, but don't know how to get it published?

From past experience, over many decades, I think I...

Posted at 07:42am on 30th March 2019

The Making Of Us By Sheridan Voysey - Book Review


I love Sheridan's lyrical style of writing - so inviting, so personal, so picturesque. Right from the first page, I found myself enthralled, as if I were meeting someone whom I knew, instantly, was going to become a friend. Likewise, when grappling with sorrow...

Posted at 07:43am on 23rd March 2019

Catching Contentment By Liz Carter - Book Club Discussion

I first heard of Liz Carter's book, Catching Contentment, when I read, somewhere, that she had suffered a lifelong illness. Instantly, that resonated with me. Having undergone a similar experience, myself, I felt a closeness with Liz that belied the fact that we had never met, nor communicated...

Posted at 10:45am on 15th March 2019

Inside Out

'Making clean-eating a dirty word gets my vote', so says Bryony Gordon in The Daily Telegraph. Quoting the Duchess of Cornwall, who was speaking at a reception for the Royal Osteoporosis Society, she warned young women against 'fad diets' which have the potential of making them ill. Lack...

Posted at 08:10am on 26th February 2019

Eleanor Oliphant Is Absolutely Fine - Book Club Review

Have you ever been aware of others talking about you behind your back? Perhaps when you've been standing alone, catching the flickering glances of a nearby group? Knowing, without doubt, that the whispered exchanges in some way refer to you?

So how did it feel? Especially if,...

Posted at 07:23am on 15th November 2018

Catching Contentment - A Guest Blog

I lay on a trolley in A and E, my breathing coming in rapid gasps. My oxygen sats were too low and the pain clamped me in a vice grip, leaving me crying out. 'It's a pneumococcal infection in both lungs,' the consultant said, and admitted me for intensive...

Posted at 01:58am on 9th November 2018

Book Club: Sensible Shoes - Who Are You & Where Have You Come From?


You pick up the phone, an unknown voice asks: 'Is that the owner of the house?' Indeed, sometimes they may address you by name. And what is your immediate response? Mine is never to affirm the query but to ask, 'Who are...

Posted at 09:55am on 10th September 2018

Book Club: Sensible Shoes - Whose Do You Walk In? Who Are You?

Who are you? Whose shoes do you walk in? Is this a question you've ever ask? No. I don't mean do you ask it of other people. That's not British! Downright rude, in fact. So - who are you? Is this something...

Posted at 04:27am on 13th July 2018

In The Days Of Rain - Book Club Verdict 'a Rivetting Read'


If reading In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott didn't bring tears to your eyes, hearing the testimony of two members of my Book Club would certainly do so! Brought up in the Exclusive Brethren, they tell a tale of trauma of unimaginable scale: the...

Posted at 06:30am on 20th May 2018

The Book Thief By Markus Zusak - Book Club Discussion

Words, words, words. Too many of them thought some members of my Book Club. But words, and their critical importance for good and evil - particularly when used by Adolph Hitler in the lead up to World War II - were the theme of The Book Thief by...

Posted at 07:57am on 20th March 2018

When Helping Hurts - Book Club Discussion Summary

How does it make you feel when you help someone out? Or when you give to charity? Big time! Go on. Be honest. Inevitably, it makes us feel good about ourselves. Doesn't it? But what about when someone offers to help us...

Posted at 04:52am on 27th February 2018

Archbishop A Novel By Michele Guinness - Book Club Discussion Of Media Hysteria


One of the things my Book Club loved about this book, was the way humour was used to hammer home the truths we all need to know. With the enormous pressure upon her, newly elected Archbishop Vicky is all too aware of how little time...

Posted at 04:03am on 12th January 2018

Archbishop By Michele Guinness: Book Club Discussion On Personal Discipleship & Service

Personal Discipleship & Service

(Quotes from the book - with permission from Michele Guinness, below - are in italics)

There were a number of salient points in Michele Guinness's book when it came to personal discipleship in these troubled times, and we all agreed with Archbishop Vicky that it is only...

Posted at 04:53am on 13th November 2017

Archbishop By Michele Guinness: Book Club Discussion On What Constitutes Church?

WHAT CONSTITUTES CHURCH? (Quotes from the book are in italics)

With some members of our Readers' Group being Street Pastors and School Pastors, and all of us attending churches involved in outreach, the issue of whether church is a building or a people was one that resonated. Faced with...

Posted at 07:42am on 12th November 2017

A Better Story: God, Sex & Human Flourishing By Glynn Harrison: A Must Read For Everyone

Before I start, I want to say that I have nothing against anyone who is genetically predisposed to the LGBT spectrum. I have personally known people in homosexual relationships, and always found them to be delightful. I also have a family member who is transgender, whom I love...
Posted at 07:41am on 17th July 2017

Mel's Online Book Club: The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats By Jan-philipp Sendker


The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker was, we all agreed, the best book we'd ever read. A beautifully and evocatively written love story, it was woven throughout with profundity and truisms: a tapestry of an unknown lifestyle, embroidered with recognisable threads.


Set in Burma, the story is...

Posted at 04:27am on 11th May 2017

Mel's Online Book Club: When We Can't, God Can By Catherine Campbell

When We Can't, God Can by Catherine Campbell was the book under discussion when we met for Book Club last night. Having met Catherine on several occasions at Christian Resources Together conferences at Swanwick, I was not surprised to see how well her lovely, caring personality came across in...

Posted at 05:51am on 9th March 2017

Mel's Online Book Club: Remember Me? By Lesley Pearse

I suppose I could say it was an attitude of quid pro quo that prompted me to suggest Remember Me? by Lesley Pearse as my choice for Book Club this month. After all, the honour of having a multi-million-selling author attend the book launch for my novel, Chosen? is...

Posted at 07:53am on 12th January 2017

Holy Habits By Andrew Roberts

What a great book! When I first suggested that we read it for Book Club, one of the members thought it looked somewhat 'heavy-going'. On the contrary, when we met to discuss it, we all felt it was an easy read and had much to say to...

Posted at 06:02am on 4th December 2016

Fire Destroys The Royal Clarence Hotel In Exeter

Shock, horror, I've just heard on the BBC News that there's been a fire in Exeter's Cathedral Yard and that it's spread into the Royal Clarence Hotel. Because my novels in the Evie Adams' series are set here, I have copies of the books in the hotel. Here...
Posted at 05:47am on 28th October 2016

Would You Want Maggie Smith And Her Smelly Van Living On Your Neighbour's Drive?

QUESTION: Would you want Maggie Smith and her smelly van living on your neighbour's drive? Well? Would you?

Interesting discussion last night at the community book club I went to. The book was Alan Bennett's Lady in the Van, and one of the topics raised (by one of several people who...

Posted at 05:33am on 3rd August 2016

So You're Planning A Book Launch. What About Pre Launch Promotion?

In my last blog post, So you're Planning a Book Launch. Do you Know What You're Doing? we considered some of the forward planning that's necessary. Now, with mine so recently behind me, I'll continue to share my experiences. We've looked at Venue, Timing, and Ease of...

Posted at 03:25am on 2nd July 2016

So You're Planning A Book Launch. Do You Know What You're Doing?


With all the trauma of the British referendum to leave the European Union last week, I can't quite believe that it's now a fortnight since the launch of my latest book, Chosen? The second novel in the Evie Adams series, it is set in Devon as was...

Posted at 04:54am on 30th June 2016

The Elevator Pitch: What Defines What & Why You Write?

In my last blog post, What Makes A Writer Write,  I mentioned the World Book Night event at Stoke Lodge, in Devon.  Invited to speak, briefly, to an audience of forty-plus about my own writing career, I began by saying that someone had asked me, ‘What is an elevator pitch?’ ...

Posted at 01:48am on 3rd May 2016

What Makes A Writer Write?

I was reading a blog post on Women Writers, Women’s Books which posed the query, Do you have to suffer to write?

It’s a valid and interesting question.


I attended a World Book Night event yesterday, at which Lesley Pearse, bestselling novelist, was speaking.  She had us...

Posted at 07:39am on 24th April 2016

A Book Club Thriller - The Jazz Files

I suggested we read The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith for our January meeting of the book club I lead, partly because I’d seen the film, Sufragette, starring Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter, and greatly enjoyed it.  Fiona’s book, the first in the Poppy Denby investigates series, is...

Posted at 01:45am on 26th January 2016

Break Loose (2015) Fly Free (2016)

What are your New Year’s resolutions?  How likely are you to achieve them?

I read an article recently, which said that 95% of diets fail.  Why?  Precisely because they are diets!   Counting calories or eliminating certain categories of food focuses your mind on the very thing you want to...

Posted at 04:34am on 4th January 2016

My Writers' Group Feedback

We meet every other month and, midst this morning's mince pies and chocolate cake, we spent the first few minutes sharing news.
David Scott is to be congratulated for having his memoir, Death by a Thousand Clots reviewed in Devon Life, second only to Michael Morpurgo’s latest book.

Roger Steer,...

Posted at 11:11am on 25th November 2015

Time To Shine - A Story Of Gaslighting?

Set in Exeter, and written in the style of Jodi Picoult, this is a gentle mystery drama with a difference, solved not by a Detective but by a Counsellor, and with a psychological twist at the end.

A beautifully written and thoughtful book centred on relationships which will strike a chord...

Posted at 07:47am on 23rd November 2015

Book Club Discussion Summary: Naturally Supernatural By Wendy Mann

A good deal of laughter accompanied our Readers’ Group discussion last week.  The book we had been reading, which I had suggested some two months earlier, was titled Naturally Supernatural, and was written by Wendy Mann.  With a new senior minister joining us, in the meantime, we felt sure -...

Posted at 06:19am on 18th November 2015

Mel's Online Book Club Discussion: The Fight By Luke Wordley

I had the pleasure of meeting with author, Luke Wordley, and received a signed copy of his book.  In choosing to read The Fight for Book Club, we felt we were moving outside our comfort zone.  It was with some surprise, therefore, that all our members enjoyed reading it.  Some...

Posted at 12:07pm on 11th September 2015

Guest Blog With Author, Eleanor Watkins

I'm delighted to be able to welcome author, Eleanor Watkins to guest post on my blog today.  A prolific author, and well-known for her chldren's and young people's books, she's agreed to tell us a little more about her private life.  So here are my questions and her answers: Eleanor, what’s...
Posted at 05:28am on 2nd September 2015

A Hint Of An American Romance Blooming In Time To Shine?

And another excerpt from my latest novel, Time to Shine, which has gained more 5* reviews since the last taster on my blog.  Sorry that the photos of the sky don't quite match the description in the book.

Here, Evie Adams, with a broken marriage behind her, takes some time out...

Posted at 12:28pm on 17th July 2015

Time To Shine - A Taster Of My New Book

I thought you might like to read a taster of my new book - a gentle psychological mystery - and see a photograph of the setting in Exeter.  The protagonist, Evie Adams, is the narrator in this passage, taken from Chapter 2

Arriving for work early one morning soon after my...

Posted at 04:20am on 29th June 2015

Mel's Online Book Club Discussion: The Light Between Oceans By M. L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans is, I discovered when I’d finished reading it for Book Club, a debut novel.  I wish I had known that when I began – but more of that later.  For various reasons we were a somewhat depleted group when we met to discuss the book, and...

Posted at 09:12am on 25th April 2015

Does Glamorising Abusive Sexual Relationships Adversely Influence Society?

I came across this old post, Modern Morality: What is its Place in Contemporary Fiction, by chance and wondered if it had any relevance to the recent discussion on BBC Newsnight about the influence that the book, 50 Shades of Grey, might have in 'normalising' abusive sexual relationships.  While Friedman's...

Posted at 04:26am on 11th February 2015

Creative Writing: Book Launch & Signing For Time To Shine

Not the best of photographs, but this is me telling my audience, at my Book Launch, yesterday, about my creative writing journey.  My love of books began at the age of five, when my father used to read my favourite bedtime story, Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant from the leather-bound...

Posted at 14:59pm on 29th November 2014

What Is Your Author & Book Brand?

Have you ever thought, as a reader, about what attracts you to certain books, or particular authors?  What makes you go for one rather than another?  Is it the book cover?  The price of the product?  The publisher’s marketing ploy?  The author’s nationality?

Somehow, I doubt it.  Almost certainly, it will...

Posted at 02:03am on 21st November 2014

Time To Shine - Another Excerpt From My New Psycological Mystery

Josh was still in his pjs, lying on his bed playing some computer game or other on his cell phone when Carl went to tell him the good news.  The boy seemed strangely lethargic.  Hardly surprising, Carl supposed, given the state of the room - a stinking fug of yesterday's...

Posted at 07:40am on 15th November 2014

Time To Shine - A Mystery. A Marriage Mender. And A Mary Berry Style Bake Off

First in the Evie Adams series: Page one of my new book

Sometimes, when you're counselling a client and she lobs a direct question at you, protocol requires that you bounce it back to her. A case in point is my two-o'clock this Friday afternoon, a mother of three, early-forties, by the...

Posted at 23:25pm on 9th November 2014

Mel's Online Book Club: Questions For: Faith In The Fog: Believing In What You Cannot See By Jeff Lucas

FAITH IN THE FOG: by Jeff Lucas NB: Page numbers below relate to Kindle pages
Click here for Discussion Summary of Faith in the Fog   1. Time Trapped. 31-46 ·        Do we wish we could go back in time as the disciples went back to Galilee to fish? If so why? Isn’t our past shame washed...
Posted at 09:53am on 28th June 2014

Mel's Online Book Club: Discussion Summary Of Faith In The Fog: Believing In What You Cannot See By Jeff Lucas

Having prayed for absent book club members, particularly one, who is back in hospital on a second course of chemo, we started the evening with a general overview of Jeff Lucas’ book, Faith in the Fog. Without exception the group professed to having enjoyed it, though one person found his self-deprecation...

Posted at 09:36am on 28th June 2014

Writing Defines Who I Am, Not What I Do!

When Fay Sampson, an author I’ve known and admired for many years, asked me to take part in a blog tour, naturally I was delighted to accept. When I heard that Donna Fletcher Crow - another author whose work I love to read - had participated -  that clinched it.  Both have...

Posted at 00:31am on 12th May 2014

Mel's Online Book Club: Little Coffee Shop Of Kabul: A Debut Novel By Deborah Rodriguez

 FRIENDSHIP: One of the joys of a good book club has to be in the friendship that develops between members, and the freedom that this gives them to speak their minds.  And so it was that our discussion, yesterday evening, spiralled off in all directions, covering politics, faith v...

Posted at 10:01am on 29th April 2014

Mel's Online Book Club: Questions & Discussion Summary Of Simply Christian, By Tom Wright: Chapters 1-2

THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS & DISCUSSION SUMMARY ARE PROVIDED FOR MEL'S ONLINE BOOK CLUB and may be reproduced – see below.  Please leave your comments so that further discussion may be promoted.


More than a dozen of us gathered to discuss Tom Wright's book, Simply Christian. Most of us had read at least...
Posted at 07:49am on 12th May 2013

Could I Really Be An Author?

Self-published novels and indie authors abound these days.  In another guest blog - while I am in the throes of moving house - I invite you to take a look at how one new writer launched his debut novel in an innovative way, and began to realise that he is,...
Posted at 09:02am on 26th June 2012

Driven To Distraction: Writing And Publishing A Book

Another guest blog, this time from a second Facebook friend and ACW member, Claire Dunn.   And yet again, this is a story of grit and determination: an inspiration to any aspiring author.   Dogged with dyslexia, Claire might well have given up on her dream of writing and publishing a book. ...
Posted at 12:56pm on 7th June 2012

Guest Blog: Self-publishing & E-books - The Ups & Downs

Although I don’t know her personally, Sheila Skillman is one of my Facebook friends. With what many of us thought considerable bravery, she recently asked for advice from other authors, concerning the lack of sales for her book. I hope she doesn’t feel she received more than she’d bargained for.

 The fact is,...
Posted at 06:35am on 20th May 2012

Book Sales Donation To Tearfund

Thank you, again, to all who have bought my book, A Painful Post Mortem. A novel about a mother who has to come to terms with her daughter's waywardness, it raises, among other things, the question of HIV and AIDS.

Sales have already raised hundreds of pounds for Tearfund and...
Posted at 09:07am on 13th April 2012

Interviews With Authors About Their Books: Continued

I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to post the second part of this article: blame my recent appointment as Chairman of ACW - a national association for writers.  As I said in the first part of Interviews With Authors About Their Books,  a reader of my blog asked...

Posted at 08:59am on 31st March 2012

Mel's Online Book Club: Room By Emma Donoghue

What could have been better, on an icy evening last week, than meeting with my Book Club in the home of friends, with a roaring fire, and a great book to discuss?  We'd been reading Emma Donoghue's novel, Room, and without exception we agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed the...

Posted at 15:43pm on 6th February 2012

Online Book Club - Showing Of Love By Julian Of Norwich - Discussion Summary

Showing of Love, a book written by Julian of Norwich in the 15th Century, is not an easy read! OK. I admit it. Mea culpa. With much laughter, when nine of us met last week for Book Club, I was roundly - but affectionately - condemned...

Posted at 15:46pm on 6th December 2011

Online Book Club: Discussion Summary - Life Of Pi By Yann Martel

One of the great things about a Book Club, as I've said before, is that almost always there are aspects of the book we've read that strike people in different ways.   So while  all of us who met last Thursday confessed to feeling disappointed by the denouement of Life of...

Posted at 17:44pm on 16th October 2011

Online Book Club: Book Reviews & Questions - Life Of Pi By Yann Martel


At times profound, at others humorous, the novel, Life of Pi, is the story of an Indian boy who, because he is named after a French swimming pool (Piscine) and doesn't like the nicknames which result, shortens his name to the irrational mathematical number Pi - 3.14...  Pi...

Posted at 16:06pm on 14th October 2011

Edgy Christian Fiction: Books For Summer Reading

If you're anything like me, a book will be essential packing for your summer hols, the perfect partner for a picnic lunch, a bonus for the beach and a relaxing read for bedtime.  So here are four book reviews for sensational summer reads, all with a Christian world view that...

Posted at 20:59pm on 15th August 2011

Online Book Club Discussion Summary: A Time To Live By George Pitcher

Are you in favour of assisted dying?  Would you like British law to be amended to allow euthanasia?  Or is the risk of abuse to the elderly, disabled and infirm too great a concern?

Most of my real-time Book Club members admitted, when we met on 28th July, 2011, that they'd...

Posted at 11:00am on 3rd August 2011

Online Book Club Questions: A Time To Live By George Pitcher

QUESTIONS How did reading the book either confirm or change your previous opinions about euthanasia / assisted dying? What, in your opinion, were the most persuasive arguments put by the author against...
Posted at 09:29am on 2nd August 2011

How To Be A Writer Of Christian Fiction Books

Are you an established writer or aspiring author who is also a Christian?  Is there a novel you want to write (or have written) for which you are unable to find a publisher?  Do you enjoy reading mainstream fiction but find that Christian fiction books leave you cold?  How does...

Posted at 15:50pm on 24th June 2011

Book Club Discussion Summary: Suite Francaise

Suite Française
by Irène Némirovsky


Born in Kiev in 1903, Irène Némirovsky, was a Jewess who, with her family, fled the Russian Revolution.  She settled in France, married a Catholic, and became a best selling author.  Her novel, Suite Française is a keenly observed portrayal of French manners and...

Posted at 17:16pm on 29th May 2011

A Painful Post Mortem: Review

No matter how long you've been an author, nor how many books you've written and had published, it is always very humbling to receive a positive review of your work from someone who is a stranger to you.  The process of creative writing opens you up in a manner which...

Posted at 22:32pm on 4th April 2011

Characters & Point Of View: It's All In The Mind

My husband, who is a keen cook, has a copy of one of Nigel Slater's books, Simple Suppers.  The recipes produce good, nutritious meals.  I have to confess, however, to a slightly queasiness when it comes to watching the celebrity chef on TV.  Something, I think, to do with what...

Posted at 17:40pm on 7th January 2011

Online Book Club: Everybody's Normal Till You Get To Know Them - Part One

APOLOGIES! My admin/editing box keeps ditching quotation marks, dashes and apostrophes. This cannot be rectified until the New Year, and as I am having to reinsert them manually, in the meantime, I hope you will excuse any omissions.

Everybody's normal till you get to know them at Daves house. This was...

Posted at 18:05pm on 13th December 2010

Misery Memoir Genre: Do Grim Novels Dominate Book Market?

As an author I am, naturally, interested in the book market. Consequently, when I was shown a newspaper article a few months ago by a friend, about the continuing proliferation of misery memoir metamorphosing into a novel, I read it, avidly.


The misery memoir genre came to prominence in the...

Posted at 15:41pm on 14th July 2010

Traditional Book Marketing Campaign V Marketing My Book Through Social Media

If you’re selling a product or service, can you conduct your business solely through social media? More to the point, if you’re an author, like me, can you sell books using only the internet? And if you replace the traditional means of marketing your books with internet marketing, are you in danger of throwing the...

Posted at 15:47pm on 3rd May 2010

Book Promoting & Christian Integrity

You’ve finished writing your novel, your bestseller, and had it published. So now what? How do you market your book, or promote it?

You understand the need to bring it to the attention of the book buying public – your readers. But how? What lengths would you go to in order for your book to...

Posted at 18:33pm on 23rd March 2010

The Reluctant Fundamentalist Discussion Questions - Mel's Online Book Club

Hi! I’m really excited about this new Online Book Club, which is starting today, and hope that you will be, too. The beauty of being a member of a readers’ group is that it encourages you to read books you might not, otherwise, have picked up.

But reading can be a solitary pursuit. Half...

Posted at 12:30pm on 21st January 2010

A Christmas Gift For All Year Round

I was reading, this week, a short piece titled: Right People Get It Wrong. The writer cited two extremes in the range of good and evil: those who appear to live selfless, sacrificial lives; and those who are utterly unconcerned about the damage that they do to others. But the gist, the moral, of...

Posted at 15:56pm on 24th December 2009

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Chapter 3 Part 2 - The Tug Of Two Loves

Catch up with the story so far in Part 1:1 The Inner Yearning. It will be posted, in parts, two or three times a week. For a free prompt to follow the story to its conclusion click the Subscribe button on the right.


Early one winter evening, as...

Posted at 14:26pm on 9th December 2009

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Chapter 3 Part 1 - The Tug Of Two Loves

Catch up with the story so far in Part 1:1 The Inner Yearning. It will be posted, in parts, two or three times a week. For a free prompt to follow the story to its conclusion click the Subscribe button on the right.

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you...

Posted at 14:45pm on 29th November 2009

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Chapter 2 Part 3 Lost And Found

Catch up with the story so far in Part 1:1 The Inner Yearning. It will be posted, in parts, two or three times a week, with a link from one to the other. For a free prompt to follow the story to its conclusion click the Subscribe button on the right.


During the months...

Posted at 17:20pm on 25th November 2009

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Part 2:2 Lost & Found

Arguing a case against Jesus’ claims about eternal life, Megan is brought face to face with the truth that it is her pride which prevents fulfilment of her inner yearning. A second visit to a Billy Graham rally sees her accepting that even a good friend is no substitute for faith. Only a life...

Posted at 09:15am on 19th November 2009

Sexism & Wonderbras: What In The World Of Books Have They In Common?

"Publishing takes men more seriously than women; female writing is regarded as second tier,” Lionel Shriver says in a Daily Telegraph article on sexism in the world of books.

Ms Shriver, born Margaret Ann Shriver, is an American journalist, and author of the acclaimed novel, We Need To Talk About Kevin. Having disliked her female...

Posted at 11:40am on 13th November 2009

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Part 2:1 Lost & Found

With marriage, babies and moving house having failed to still the inner yearning in Megan’s life, she feels sure that her new friendship with Eileen must be the answer. Especially when Eileen invites her to hear Billy Graham. Eileen has a faith in God which Megan finds enviable. Eileen knows Jesus as her Saviour...

Posted at 10:25am on 12th November 2009

British Law Undermines Parental Authority: Novel Shows How

I wrote, last week, about the sad story of Kate Walsh who, at the tender age of sixteen, became a heroin addict and died, alone in a dirty squat. Her parents had asked, repeatedly, for help from various authorities and received none. They had, as the Coroner described it at Kate’s Inquest, fallen...

Posted at 12:27pm on 10th November 2009

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Part 1:3 The Inner Yearning

With two babies only a year apart in age, Meg is as lonely as ever. Will moving house be the answer? For a while it seems a possibility. But as James’ career ambitions take him away from home once more, it seems that only a new friendship might fill that inner yearning.

Catch up with...

Posted at 09:48am on 9th November 2009

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Part 1:2 The Inner Yearning

Less than a year into Megan’s marriage to James, with her baby born and motherhood now a reality, the cracks which were apparent from the outset, are beginning to widen. As the swinging sixties begin to make themselves felt, the over-riding question is: can Megan find, in James, the love she craves?

Catch up with...

Posted at 00:00am on 4th November 2009

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Part 1:1 The Inner Yearning

What follows is a true story, the real life story of a woman named Megan, who was raised in an era when to be married, to be a wife, was the pinnacle of aspiration for a woman. The expectation that you shopped, cooked, cleaned and raised children whilst your husband worked, played and waited...

Posted at 14:25pm on 2nd November 2009

Authors: Tellers Of Tales, Weavers Of Dreams? Tap Into Your Childhood To Reveal And Nourish Hidden Emotional Creativity

Why do writers exist? What is it about the human race that makes us want to be authors and readers? Tellers of tales, serialisers of stories, weavers of dreams: what compels us? Scriptwriters, dramatists, actors, theatre-goers, radio broadcasters and listeners? Why? What inner compulsion urges us on – those of us who share our inner...

Posted at 01:00am on 23rd October 2009

How To Blog To Sell When Writing And Publishing A Book

You’re an author and you have a book to sell. Selling in bookshops is one thing; selling online another. You have a question: which is superior, social media or search engines when it comes to promoting your work?

In my last blog post I concluded that, as a reader or researcher, I prefer the latter....

Posted at 17:37pm on 15th October 2009

Anti-social Behaviour: Is It The Result Of Legislation Promoting Children's Rights?

Newspaper reports on the life and death of Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter make harrowing reading. Victims of abuse and anti-social behaviour by local youths, the lives of both were made a misery for years. However, despite making no fewer than thirty-three complaints to the police, her plight, and that of her daughter, was...

Posted at 17:41pm on 30th September 2009

The Basic Rules Of English Grammar

I came across the following rules of English grammar and, since no one seems to know where they originated, am reproducing them here for the benefit of writers and aspiring authors.

I’m not sure that I agree with all of them. How about you? Leave a comment at the end if you have anything...

Posted at 18:20pm on 3rd August 2009

Free Psychometric Profiling Switch On As The Power Of Positive Thinking Is Unplugged

The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale, has electrified society for over half a century as the means of feeling valued and attaining success in life. Now, it appears, to have been unplugged – or at least to have suffered power failure and fizzled out! Despite an epidemic of positive thinking for the last...

Posted at 09:53am on 22nd July 2009

Do False Expectations Of Marriage Cause Stepfamily Problems?

What follows is an excerpt from the soon to be published revised and updated edition of Mel's book, Stepfamilies.

It is a false premise to expect that any marriage can ever answer all of our needs. To think otherwise is a totally unrealistic ideal which is doomed to disappointment. And this, perhaps, is one of the...

Posted at 17:51pm on 8th July 2009

Marriage And Remarriage: When Two Halves Don't Make A Whole

Following is an abridged and revised excerpt from Mel’s book Stepfamilies, which the BBC recently asked her to debate on the Richard Bacon show. In previous posts, the inference has been that unless the two people embarking on a second (or subsequent) marriage get it right, there is little chance of tackling other blended family...

Posted at 15:02pm on 22nd May 2009

Live With Less: How To Love Working To Live Rather Than Living To Work

I began this article a couple of months ago before Parliamentary Expenses took over as the latest UK soap opera escapism from the real story of boom and bust economics. So I wondered, this morning, whether it would still have any relevance; whether, in fact, it would resonate with you, my readers. But thinking...

Posted at 20:55pm on 18th May 2009

Love And Commitment: The Basis Of A Stable Marriage

Last week, in my Friday series on Families & Parenting, which is currently focused on stepfamilies, I pointed out that if American author Charles Swindoll equated marriage to a house, then remarriage could be said to be like a conversion. I then went on to show why love, in terms of romance, is not...

Posted at 07:45am on 15th May 2009

Stable Stepfamilies: Book Excerpt - Foreword

AS A SCHOOLGIRL, I loved history. Not the dry dates and wars of my school books, but the vital characters that strode right out of their pages straight into my imagination. People like Henry VIII of England, for instance. His marriages particularly fascinated me. How, I would ask myself, did he get away with...

Posted at 20:05pm on 1st May 2009

The Shack By William Young: Uv Readers' Group Discussion Summary

Is The Shack A True Story?

This was one of the issues raised when twenty-one of us met on Thursday to share our impressions of William Young's debut novel. Many of us found ourselves thinking of Madeleine McCann, the four year old who disappeared in Portugal whilst holidaying with her parents...

Posted at 22:50pm on 25th April 2009

Creative Writing As A Means Of Illustrating Compulsive And Obsessive Behaviour

I hope you’re not going to lose patience with me, but I’m so impressed with Friedman’s Fables that, yet again, I’m going to apply one of them to a real-life situation, in what I call a ‘combi-blog’. Because it addresses not only a real life relationship problem but is also of relevance to writing fiction.

Posted at 12:54pm on 15th April 2009

What Drives You: Final Instalment Of The Easter Story

Previous Episodes: What Drives You? Part I & Part II

The rev rave on the cliff top was no longer a happy blare of horns and engines but had taken on an entirely different ambience, bordering on what appeared to be mass hysteria. From where he stood, in the corner of the car park,...

Posted at 18:01pm on 10th April 2009

What Drives You? Part Ii

What Drives You? Part I

Now read on:

The rev-rave on the cliff top was a riot of music and laughter, as engines were tuned and horns were blasted. The little once-white-now-pink car was ecstatic; he’d never seen anything like it before. His little red car – he still thought of her as his, though she...

Posted at 13:43pm on 9th April 2009

Fact, Fiction Or Fable: Is This A Sorry Story Of Fault-finding?

I wrote a few weeks ago about Friedman’s Fables, which my daughter gave me for my birthday. The book is a collection of short stories – very short at times – each of which highlights a specific pattern of human behaviour. Because of events in my family, one of the stories particularly caught my...

Posted at 16:21pm on 15th March 2009

Modern Morality: What Is Its Place In Contemporary Fiction?

See, also, my post titled: Does Glamorising Abusive Sexual Relationships Adversely Influence Society? written in response to a recent BBC discussion about the merits (or otherwise) of a book like 50 Shades of Grey.

What do you learn about life, characterisation, plot or theme from what you read, or watch on...

Posted at 18:24pm on 25th February 2009

The Integrity Partnership Between Author And Reader

I want to consider, today, something which is relevant to human life, in general; to personal development; and to all the relationships which touch on our lives. It’s an issue, however, which is of particular relevance to writers – whether you’re a novelist, an author of self-help books, a journalist, a biographer, or a blogger.


Posted at 16:02pm on 23rd February 2009

Are Biblical Truths Essential To An Author's Understanding Of The Human Mind And Behaviour?

Andrew Motion, the UK’s Poet Laureate (a person appointed by a government who is, typically, expected to compose poetry for State occasions) has reportedly said that, “Children should be taught the Bible throughout their education because it is an ‘essential piece of cultural luggage’ without which they will struggle to fully understand literature.” (The Guardian 17th...

Posted at 17:13pm on 20th February 2009

The Book Publishing Process Laid Bare

Photo: Author, Mel Menzies, at a Book Signing Revised: January 2011

What do you do if you're an aspiring author but can't get your novel accepted by an agent or publisher?  You've been to every creative writing course available, read everything you can lay your hands on about writing and publishing a...

Posted at 17:40pm on 8th February 2009

Golliwog Banned: And Tv Presenter Carol Thatcher With Him

As a little girl, I owned a much loved golliwog. I have no idea who gave it to me, nor what their motive was in doing so. I can only conclude that it was a toy of its era, and that the gift was intended to please and delight me. And so it...

Posted at 12:59pm on 5th February 2009

Building Sustainable Relationships For Stepfamilies

I hope you’ll forgive me! I’m afraid I’m going to take the easy way out today and simply upload part of a chapter from my Stepfamilies book, on the topic of building effective relationships with somebody else’s children. It’s been a difficult week; as I tweeted only today: my mother has fallen and broken her pelvis....

Posted at 15:37pm on 24th January 2009

If You're Writing In The Passive Voice, Consider Revising

I wrote, yesterday, on the need to find your Voice, and illustrated how verbs may be used in the Active and Passive voice. Now I am no expert when it comes to grammar, and if there are those who know better than I, I would ask you to correct me...

Posted at 20:08pm on 22nd January 2009

What Does Passive Voice Mean In The Creative Writing Process?

I received a piece of work, recently, with a request to look it over and comment on it. It has prompted me to write on the subject of Voice, and the merits (or otherwise) of how it is used. There’s a little bit of grammar instruction necessary here, but I will illustrate my point afterwards...

Posted at 14:42pm on 21st January 2009

Let This New Year Be Your New Beginning


I hope that 2009 will bring you good health and happiness. If you’re an aspiring author, let this be the year that you achieve success in publishing terms. And if you’re simply in need of a little love and understanding, may you find it where you least expect it. Read on ....

Posted at 16:44pm on 31st December 2008

Seven Basic Plots: Part 3 - The Quest

I began this study on the seven plot lines that are said to be the basis of all stories, by examining what is meant by the rags to riches story, and that of overcoming the monster. Today I'm going to look at what it means to write about the quest.

Posted at 11:30am on 16th December 2008

The Seven Story Plots: Parts 1 & 2

It is said that there are only seven basic plots, to which all storylines adhere. Of these seven plot lines perhaps the best known is the rags to riches story. This, after all, is the basis of many of our favourite nursery rhymes and fairy stories. Think Cinderella, and Jack...

Posted at 00:00am on 14th December 2008

Children In Divorce And Separation: A Christmas Tragedy

Christmas – traditionally the time of good cheer – is also, for many, a time of great sadness. Somehow, the fact that everyone is out to enjoy themselves seems to concentrate the mind when it comes to the tragedies of life. A train derailment or plane crash in the weeks leading up to the...

Posted at 14:01pm on 9th December 2008

Healing And Forgiveness

An article in The Times, last month, contrasted, without condemning, the reactions of two families who have recently been in the news. First was the story of the two young boys killed by footballer and drink driver Luke McCormick, whose family was unable to forgive him. And second was Carolyn Todd, the widow of Michael,...

Posted at 18:46pm on 6th November 2008

Bloody Cheek - From A Faint Streak Of Humility!

Reviews of your book are something a writer looks upon with a sort of love-hate relationship. In a sense they’re the life-blood of a book: a good one serves the same purpose as a shot of adrenaline in the arm, or a stiff G&T, a poor one may do what a dose of flu...

Posted at 00:00am on 27th October 2008

Dealing With Denial, Grief & Anger Following Bereavement

REVISED & UPDATED 1st December, 2010

I wrote last week about dealing with the shock of losing someone you love and said that numbness is a normal initial response following a bereavement.� The loss of a loved one is a traumatic event, and this is the body's defence mechanism kicking in,...

Posted at 12:55pm on 18th October 2008

Birth Order - Middle Child

According to the Wikipedia website, one of the first people to suggest that birth order has an effect on personality was an Austrian psychiatrist, Alfred Adler. A contemporary of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, he argued that the way in which each of us tackles the major aspects of life – friendship, love and work...

Posted at 01:00am on 17th October 2008

The Initial Shock Of Losing Someone You Love - How To Cope

"Life," said Lewis Grizzard, the original grumpy old man, "is a sexually transmitted terminal disease."

It took me a moment or two to take it in when I read that statement. When the penny dropped, I laughed aloud. It's just such a clever line!

And on a physical level, it says it...

Posted at 19:02pm on 14th October 2008

Is Taking Risks In The Second Half A Good Game Plan For Life?


Do you ever feel that there are times in your life when your body is trying to convince you that it’s closer to lights out than it is to reveille? You don’t, actually, have to be in your dotage to feel like this. Neither do the...

Posted at 11:00am on 13th October 2008

Competition - Winner Of The Bucket List - 5 Things I'd Like To Do Before I Die

For those of you who may be coming to this Post for the first time, here is the competition I set at the beginning of September, asking you to list the Five Things I’d Like To Do Before I Die.


It was obviously something that you all find quite daunting, because it...

Posted at 09:38am on 11th October 2008

Is Faith A Legitimate Subject For Foolishness, Falsehood Or Fun?


It’s a strange paradox that at a time when so many people profess not to believe in God, religion appears to be a subject enjoyed by the masses in almost all forms of multi-media. To mention but a few examples, we’ve had the stage-shows Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell; the book The God...

Posted at 19:12pm on 29th September 2008

Divorce & Family Law - Does It Affect Us All?

Other Posts on Books & Reading: The Isolation of Being Unable to Read STATISTICS OF SINGLE PARENTS

What do you think of when you read of mothers raising children without fathers? Does it incite you to indignation? Rage? And if so, against whom? The mothers who so ruthlessly exploit the benefits system with serial offspring by...

Posted at 22:45pm on 17th September 2008

The Isolation Of Being Unable To Read

Related topics:
59 Million Keywords to Publication
Reading Between The Lines EFFECTS OF ILLITERACY

Have you ever thought what it would be like if you were unable to read or understand a word of this blog? Doubtless you would be feeling the same shame and isolation as the people I wrote about in my post: Reading Between the...

Posted at 18:11pm on 8th September 2008

59 Million Keywords To Publication

Related topics: Reading Between the Lines

59 million keywords to publication!

Now I love words. And I guess anyone who can be bothered to read or write a blog like this one must love’em too. But fifty-nine million? Here are a few statistics defining Ammon Shea’s recently published book:

• One man
• One year
• 20...

Posted at 19:08pm on 25th August 2008

Reading Between The Lines

Related topics:
Books & Reading
The Isolation Of Being Unable To Read CAN’T READ, CAN’T WRITE

Did anybody watch the UK’s Channel 4’s Can’t Read, Can’t Write series? It focused on people from different backgrounds and ages: the young mother who was unable to help with her children’s homework, the labourer who longed to improve his job prospects,...

Posted at 14:41pm on 15th August 2008

Reeling In The Royalties - A Dangerous Weakness?

Well, what did you think of that for a piece of audacious publicity? I read it several times, trying to stem a rising tide of envy with a modicum of magnanimity – and still didn’t see beyond the obvious.

I’m referring to the 93 year old lady who has just published her first book. Good...

Posted at 08:47am on 13th August 2008

Does My Bum Look Big In This? (or That Wretched F-word Again)

A fortnight ago I wrote that legislation against the use of certain words (like Chav) is ludicrous and went on to quote from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. “It’s not the word that’s at fault,” I said. “What’s...

Posted at 09:07am on 4th August 2008

Drugs & Human Rights - The God Of The Era

Click for related post: Parent Power = Kids' Confidence

I wonder how this generation of policy-makers will go down in history? Human Rights, it seems, is the god of the era. It certainly takes precedence over any sort of morality. And common sense? Well that's out of the window.

I refer to...

Posted at 10:23am on 1st August 2008

Dry Mouth And Sinking Stomach - Photographer V Dentist

Dry mouth and sinking stomach.

‘Without wishing to cast aspersions on your profession,’ I said to the photographer, ‘I should tell you that as far as I’m concerned, having my photograph taken is akin to having teeth pulled.’

Actually, I’ve never had teeth pulled – but the sensations I experienced as my sitting room was invaded...

Posted at 10:15am on 29th July 2008

Is The F-word Foul?

Whatever happened to the old saying, 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me'? They can, of course. But only if we let them. Have we become a nation of wimps that we have to talk of legislation to prevent the use of certain words? Words like Chav, for...

Posted at 19:56pm on 21st July 2008

An Inrush Of Hissing Air

It must be the most expensive single purchase I’ve ever made on my own. Oh, no! There was the house, of course. I bought that at auction, whilst heavily pregnant, and exceeded my husband’s upper limit by several thousand. I could only plead temporary insanity and excessive competitiveness due to hormones. My other half and...

Posted at 09:46am on 10th July 2008

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