Researching often means I get to indulge in reading books I consequently fall in love with that lead me to other books in a never ending roadmap of discovery. This morning, while researching woodlands, I came across a quote by Wordsworth “… with gentle hand | Touch — for there is a spirit in the woods” from his poem Nutting, so of course I had to read the rest of the poem. I found my book of his major works, searched the glossary for the page number, and then the book flipped open straight to the poem. I paused, thinking that was cool, but just as I started to read aloud (as I often do with poetry), my iPhone stopped playing music, as though this poem demanded quiet. It was sudden and mysterious — I had to share. And yes, the poem is wonderful! 🙌

*Woods: A Celebration by Robert Penn

Found in my mother’s garden, a pot of spawning cactus plants. A google search informed me they are hedgehog cactus. I’m not 100% certain that’s correct, but I love the name, so I’m sticking with it! My mother’s garden is full of surprising delights tucked away in nooks and crannies. A slow wander around with a sharp eye is an early morning treat.

My super small, eco-friendly, potted Christmas tree surrounded by bookish presents. Hopefully it will be a few inches taller next year! Focusing on the small pleasures in life to balance out the very large and harsh realities in the world. Wishing everyone a joyful holiday season filled with moments of peace.

The sound of ocean waves calls to the human soul in a primal language translated by the heart. Every time I visit the seaside I remember what it is to be alive, to exist on this small, aching world. So pleased to have taken part in the Alderney Literary Festival and to have had the chance to recharge my head, my heart, my soul on this beautiful island. Nature reminds us life is beautiful.

I wish you and yours a very happy holiday season! Thank you for a beautiful year and all the love and support you’ve given to me and White Chrysanthemum. It has been an amazing journey since publication day in January. I can’t wait for 2019 and the adventures ahead!

White Chrysanthemum has been shortlisted for Best First Novel by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. I’m honoured to be selected along with two wonderful writers Guy Gunaratne (In Our Mad and Furious City) and Nicola Mostyn (The Gods of Love). If you have time over the holidays, pick up their books and give them a read. If you haven’t read mine yet, what are you waiting for!?

Happy holidays and happy reading!

A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and its War with the United States

Sometimes research for a novel can take over a writer’s life–especially if that writer is me bc I love learning about everything. I had to share this book by Timothy J. Henderson, published in 2007, and one I picked up randomly from my son’s school library. It’s fascinating! Mostly because I grew up in Texas and the history I learned about Texas’ independence from Mexico was written with a victor’s slant, but also bc Henderson focuses on the players behind the buildup to the war and gives so many personal details about each one (Santa Anna, Austin, Houston…and more) that he makes them come to life. It’s definitely non-fiction but feels like I’m reading a novel filled with fascinating characters whose lives were destined to be remembered in history. If you’re interested in American, Texan, or Mexican history, read this book! ❤️

Can you spot my book? Hint, it’s on the top shelf. Dreams do come true! At my local @waterstones in the O2 Centre.

On another note, Happy Halloween!!!! 👻🎃