Tag Archives: Dubai

Fab Fiction, Fab Food – At Emirates Lit Fest …


This year’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is getting closer, and one of the events I’m looking forward to attending is The Great British Afternoon Tea, with Nadiya Hussain.

Last week I mentioned the session Nadiya, lovely Sue Moorcroft and myself will be doing on Friday 3rd March, Secret Lives & Summer Love – Contemporary Women’s Fiction. Well, Sue will also be busy, tutoring a 3-day creative writing course – Start Up Writing Class from Sunday 5th, which I’d highly recommend for any budding authors here in Dubai. I’ll be visiting some schools. And Nadiya will, of course, be doing some “foodie” sessions, the first of which, Bake Me a Story – The Gingerbread Guy, takes place on Friday 3rd at 11.30am. I believe the book’s aimed at 6-11 year olds, but that’s not going to stop me slipping in at the back of the room and joining in the fun!


Here’s how the website describes it – “The Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain’s Bake Me a Story provides a new twist on fairy tale favourites – by matching them with her recipes so that parents and children can bake together!
In this enchanting storytelling session, Nadiya will share her take on classic tales, with stories including the ‘The Gingerbread Guy’, ‘Jack and the Bean-Patty Stalk’, and ‘Ruby-Red and the Three Bears’.
And what about a demonstration of our favourite baker’s showstopping talent? Nadiya will decorate a Gingerbread Guy on stage and then children will receive a gingerbread man of their own to take home!”

Ooh! I wonder if there’ll be any extras – I am partial to a gingerbread man! But 2.30pm Saturday 4th is an event for which I’ll definitely be putting on my loosest trousers …


Here’s what the website says – “From the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party to Proust’s madeleines, afternoon tea is one of the most celebrated mealtimes in literature. It therefore seems fitting we share it with one of the most celebrated names in baking: 2015 Great British Bake Off Champion, author of cookbooks and contemporary fiction, Nadiya Hussain.
Join us for an afternoon of tea (or coffee), cake and conversation as you listen to Nadiya discuss Bake Off, Buckingham Palace and beyond in her unforgettable journey from family kitchen to overnight superstar.
If you enjoy a delicious success story, the elegance of afternoon tea, or simply love cake, this is the event for you… whichever way you slice it.”

Well, I do enjoy a delicious success story, an elegant afternoon tea is my favourite meal, and I just adore cake (probably too much, hubby would say but ha! He isn’t coming …) So that sounds like just my kind of afternoon. The diet can wait!


Writing in the Sand about the Long & the Short of it … Well, the Long anyway … The Exeter Novel Prize Long-list …


Well, I’m back after my Christmas and New Year travels – a fab family Christmas back home, New Year fireworks in Dubai, paddling in the Dead Sea, then much walking round the ancient city of Petra, from which my poor tootsies have just about recovered – as I hope, has the poor horse who had to carry me back!

Here’s hoping you’ve all enjoyed a good start to 2014.
The fifteen writers below certainly have, as they’re the long-listees of the Exeter Novel Prize which was the subject of my first blog post some months back.
So I’d like to say a belated ‘Well done and congratulations!’ to

Sonya Weiss   – 67 Ways to Kill Your Sister,

Heather Reed – A Puff of Madness,

Cathryn & Linsey Davies – Bleeding Empire,

Anne Summerfield – Brighton Revels,

Sarah Palmer – I Wish, I Wish,

Elizabeth Ballagher – Line of Memory,

Jonathan Taylor  – Mellissa,

Daniel Knibb  – New Faces,

Gillian Barr – Pier Terrace,

Su Bristow – Sealskin,

Jean Burnett – Servant of Darkness,

Joan Brennan – The Bean Farm,

Susan Luddem – The Bearded Ladybird,

Barbara Hudson – Timed Out,

Catherine Hamblen –  Trusted,

The shortlist will be announced next month. Good luck to you all …

Writing in the Sand about Favourite Christmas Novels 3 …


_Media Card_BlackBerry_pictures_IMG00427

When Carole Matthews chose John Grisham‘s novella Skipping Christmas for this blog, she inadvertently opened up a new experience for me … using an e-reader!

I hesitate to call myself a Luddite, I don’t actually have anything against hi-tech progress – I just take a while to catch up with it! Anyone who’s met me will know I’d be perfectly happy with a quill, some parchment and a stubby candle to read and write by. Oh, and some sealing wax and maybe a delivery page-boy or a carrier pigeon or two …

Anyway, I couldn’t find a copy of Skipping Christmas in any of Dubai‘s few remaining bookshops (I won’t get started on that particular gripe of mine, or I’ll never get to the subject in hand!) So my husband kindly downloaded it onto his iPad for me.

Am I the only person who get’s bleary-eyed using an e-reader? It wasn’t a pleasant sensation and although I know I’ll have to cave in and get one sooner or later, I’m in no hurry. Anyway, somebody’s got to keep the bookshops here in business …

What can I say about Skipping Christmas? It’s the story of tax accountant, Luther Krank, and his bright idea of opting out of Christmas, because his daughter won’t be there for the first time and he’s sick of all the money Christmas is costing him. Personally, I’d call that grounds for divorce, but he manages to talk his reluctant wife into his daft scheme to go on a cruise, for half the amount they spent on Christmas the year before.

IMG00433 Tree decs 2013 adjusted

The Kranks live in in a claustrophobic (to my mind anyway) community, where everybody knows everybody else’s business. Instead of letting the Kranks just get on with it, the neighbours conspire to make things as awkward as possible for them. There’s plenty to go wrong in the run up to their cruise departure on Christmas day itself.

It all gets a bit slapstick and a bit predictable, to be honest, as apparently does the film which was made of it, Christmas with the Kranks. But I did quite like the little twist at the end.

John Grisham didn’t reply to any of my requests to find out his favourite Christmas read, so my next post will feature another favourite of mine, Milly Johnson’s A Winter Flame. I’m reading it for the second time and enjoying it as much as I did the first …

Writing in the Sand about Nine Naughty NaNo Ninjas …


Right, so we’re nine days into NaNoWriMo and I’m a tad behind my target. This is where I start to need some plot ninjas to keep me going through the month. I’m glad I asked some friends to think some up for me, though of course, now they’ve done that, they’re going to want to see them written down somewhere, even if they don’t make it into the actual story. So (and don’t blame me – I didn’t come up with them!) here goes …Poss blog pic - notepad&pencil1 – Somebody in the story gets stopped for speeding, by a policeman who is clearly only interested in extracting a bribe …

Interesting. If I’d set this story in the UAE, where I set most of my stories, I wouldn’t touch this one with a barge pole! But as I’ve set it in a fictional, English, Midsomer Murders – type village, it could definitely provide a useful little plot twist.

2 – Either the hero or the heroine gets framed for shoplifting by a love rival …

Again, one I wouldn’t want to use in a Dubai setting (without time to research all the local, legal aspects of it, which I obviously don’t have, for NaNo). But for the purposes of my story – where things keep going disastrously wrong for the heroine – yes. I like that one.

3 – One of the characters becomes a victim of identity theft…

I’m starting to wonder about my friends! But yes, that has loads of potential!

4 – One of the main characters finds a lost toddler and has to look after it until the police come …

That’s one which could be used pretty easily. It could also start a new story thread, which could be woven back in, later on.

5 – A childhood nemesis returns/turns up to give one of the characters some grief …

Yep, another  possibility. And a chance to throw in a good chunk of backstory.

6 – Somebody turns up, mistakenly (or not) claiming to be the illegitimate sibling of one of the protagonists …

Hmm – that sounds to me like the basis of an actual plot rather than a plot ninja. But I could be wrong – I’m happy to be corrected!

7 – A storm knocks all the power out for an hour and a group of characters are stranded together. Without their hi-tech gadgets, all they can do is talk to each other …

Obviously inspired by last week’s storm. This would be a good plot ninja for writers like me who love writing dialogue.

8 – Include a messy incident involving a bottle of ketchup …

Easy enough. Although it won’t generate a huge amount of writing.

9 – Somebody has a catastrophe at the hairdressers …

Actually I’ve already got something of that nature planned for later in the story, with a bride-to-be in a spray tanning booth.

Some of these should come in useful as the month progresses. Next week we’ll be halfway through this year’s challenge and I’ll be checking in with some fellow participants to compare notes. I hope I’ll have been able to catch up …

Picture courtesy of Morguefile.

Writing in the Sand about NaNo 2013 – The First Few Days …


IMG_1132-Edit-Edit copyAprilwithlaptopblogpicfinalWell, after my babbling on about getting ready for this year’s NaNo, I had a frustrating start – I couldn’t get into the website, to register! Some friends I spoke to were having the same problem, so I guessed there was too much traffic on the website and went shopping instead, to stock up on some nice, healthy NaNo snacks.


November 1st dawned – Day 1 – and I still couldn’t access the NaNoWriMo website. Hubby, knowing the full extent of my technophobia suggested I might be doing something wrong, so I was (rather selfishly, I’m ashamed to admit) relieved to hear that I still wasn’t the only one. We knuckled down anyway and got on with the business in hand – Day 1 – Target – 1,667 words. Well, I managed 1,911 – trying to get a bit ahead of the game, as I know there’ll be days this week when I can’t spend long at my desk. Some of my Facebook friends managed over 2,000, leaving the rest of us with word count envy.

Day 2 – and Yippee! I managed to get into the site and register! Contemporary romance is my genre, and almost always international. For last year’s NaNo, I wrote a love story with a ghostly theme, set in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This year, for a bit of a change, I’m writing a romantic comedy, set in an imaginary English village. That’s one of the great things about NaNo, you can wander out of your usual genre/sub-genre and try others on for size. Day 2 – Target – 3,334. Only got as far as 3,095, so with hubby home tomorrow (it’s a 3 day weekend here, this week) I’ll have to catch up on Monday.

Day 3 – I pretty much know what I want to write today and for the rest of the week, so is it too early to start thinking about plot ninjas?

 >Ask Sally #23 Plot Ninjas


>A new question from my lovely friend, Womagwriter.What’s a plot ninja? I’ve seen the term on writing sites, and you say you’ve put some in your nano first chapter. Can you explain what they are…
As Sally Quilford explains, plot ninjas began as a helpful device for when NaNowers might start to flag a little. A helpful bod suggested they all have a ninja leap out of a wardrobe at some point in their novel! The idea grew and now any unexpected happening in the story can be a plot ninja. I’ve specifically asked some of my non-writer friends to think up some for me for next week. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with …

Welcome to My New Blog!


Writing was always something for which I had a great passion. There was just never enough time. Until I moved to Dubai, that is. A combination of staying out of the heat, not being a great mall-hopper, & having the words – galling at the time, but now I’m so glad of them – “Housewife/Not allowed to work” printed on my visa, gave me just what I needed – the gift of time.

But what to write? Well, what did I like to read? I’m an old fashioned girl at heart. I’ve always loved H E Bates’ Pop Larkin stories and P G Wodehouse’s tales of Jeeves and Wooster, but they were published in a totally different time, almost another world. Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde had long been favourite contemporary authors of mine, so what about trying my hand at romance?

Ok, I’d chosen my genre. Now where was I going to set my writing? Well, it had to be Dubai, didn’t it! But setting romantic fiction in a country where public displays of affection can get you into trouble?

Well, never let it be said I like to make life easy for myself …

A quick word of thanks, before I go, to my blog-fairy-godmother, Morgen, for her help with this first post. I’m a low-tech kind of girl, so hopefully it won’t all be downhill from here – but I’m not promising!