Will it won’t it?


I don’t recall whether I entered Twelve Roses for Love for the cover of the month contest at All Author, or whether it was randomly selected. But one evening, in the midst of a Skype conversation with our daughter and while simultaneously checking email (yeah, I do that sometimes), I saw this email from All Author informing me that my book cover was up for the Cover of the Month contest for April.

“Oh, dear me,” I declared in a rather C-3PO-ish voice to myself, “I better do something about promoting this.”

First I sent out emails. Next I posted it on Facebook and Twitter. Then I sent it to family and friends’ WhatsApp groups. The votes started to come in.

When I first looked at the rank it was at #24. Hmmm not bad, I thought. Then obviously the votes started to come in. Now the excitement began.

Friends and even some folk I don’t know voted for the cover. It rose rapidly through the ranks. Then it got stalled at #9. But after a while there was another spurt and it shot up to #3.

My heart was beating and I got quite caught up in the thrill of the chase. The next time I looked it had gone to #2!!!

Wow wooooow! I thought. OMG as they say these days. I started thanking everyone. By then the better part of the day had been spent in checking the status and trying to bake my annual batch of hot cross buns 🙂 I was emotionally and physically still on a high, although my legs, by now were aching.

Last thing at night I looked again and it had dropped to #4!

Oh dear, I thought, this is nonsense. But I can’t stop myself! I looked again just now so it’s hopped up to #3 again

And the latest, as I go to “press”, is that it has fallen to #5.

Dear readers, can we boost this up further? If so please visit and vote…


Operation Leonardo – a review

Operation Leonardo – a review

I haven’t really used FictionPals to write book reviews, but for some reason Amazon won’t let me post a review for this book. Can’t figure it out so I’m posting it here.

So here goes…

Every now and then, I thoroughly enjoy a good WWII story and when I picked up Operation Leonardo by Robert Cubitt, I was not disappointed. This is the first of Robert’s Commando books that I have read. He has written a total of five books on them, in particular the (fictional) group, 15Commando led by the charismatic Steve Carter. This team is based on the real Commandos in the British Army, an elite force that took the fight across several different geographical locations of the WWII theatre. 

Leonardo is one of many operations under the umbrella of Operation Husky, the Allied Invasion of Sicily in July 1943. Under direct orders from General Montgomery, 15Commando is tasked to take and hold a bridge over the River Gabriel. According to the intelligence brief they were not expecting any enemy resistance and, they were told, that there were no German tanks within miles. General Montgomery was wrong. And Carter and his Commandos end up having to capture the beach and battery at Cassibile and then make for and take the bridge. They also had to ensure that the bridge doesn’t get blown up by either the Italians or, by the unexpected arrival of the Germans. That too none other than the Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) division that parachuted in to take or blow up the same bridge.

When the going gets really tough, with the arrival of German Tiger Tanks, the Commando division is given an “everyman for himself” order. And from that point it’s a pretty heart-thumping charge to the finish. I’ll not give away any spoilers here but there are enough twists and turns to keep one guessing. 

I felt it had a bit of a slow warm up with lots of initial explanatory detail. But overall, it’s an engaging story that captures and holds one’s attention. What added to the sense of authentic danger, is the fact that the series was inspired by Robert Cubitt’s own father, which gives the reader that extra edge of connection. And the incident too is based on real events. I also enjoyed the occasional literary references and quotes. A good read, with much to enjoy and learn. 

An extra story


On the advice of a fellow-author, publisher and friend, I decided to re-jig the contents of Twelve Roses For Love. This meant that the first story, the one about Saint Valentine, became part of my author’s notes. As a result I was one story short. So, the paperback version of Twelve Roses for Love has an extra story, for some reason that extra story hasn’t uploaded to the e-book version. I’m working on fixing that.

In the meantime, I think it only fair to share that extra story as a free read here. I’m hoping that when some of my followers read this one, they’ll realise that the stories contained in Twelve Roses aren’t your typical romances. There are a few that are, and as I have mentioned before, there’s one rather amusing and saucy story at the end of the book. For now, here’s your bonus story…

Dark Lipstick

Theresa still couldn’t believe she had put up with all that for so long. It had been an almost textbook case. How had she, of all people, allowed herself to become that person. She loved Jake. Correction, she told herself as she sat on the bed in the women’s shelter, she had once thought she loved Jake. 

He wasn’t your typically handsome guy that she’d met at the gym two years ago. But there was something about him. An almost shy lop-sided grin, dark brown hair that fell over one eye, which he constantly pushed back. They had dated. He’d told her he’d had anger-management issues and the gym was to help work these out. 

She understood. That’s kind of what she herself was working on. But hers were more a case of self-esteem. Feel good about your body and yourself, all the support groups had said. And it had worked. When she met Jake, she was trim, the curves were where they should be and she had muscles. 

“I’ll arm wrestle you,” she’d said to Jake who had an impressive set of biceps himself. Her smile always lit up her face and danced in her eyes. Who would have predicted that that would be her undoing! The friendly roughhousing in bed began to lead more and more often to Jake actually using his strength against her.

The first time he was all apologies. The classic, “I’m sorry babe, I didn’t mean it, it will never happen again.” Followed by flowers and chocolate. 

She’d worn dark lipstick to work and made some empty silly excuse about slipping in the bathroom. 

Later he was all sarcasm, laced with jealousy, for what she never knew. “You think you’re kick-ass tough? I’ll show you who’s tough.”

The dark lipstick was always handy, a great cover-up. But her eyes held the hurt she continued to hide. 

Then quite by accident he figured the button to push to hurt her the most was to undermine her hard-won self-esteem, “You don’t smile any more. It’s the only time you’re pretty.” 

Theresa looked at herself in the mirror then. It was true. Her face only lit up when she smiled. She wasn’t pretty. Her face was too long and her hair hung lank unless she washed it every day.  She bit her lip, the tears welling up as she repeated the mantras that were supposed to build her up, “You have to love yourself.” What the hell did that really mean? And what was there to love? A face too long. Arms too thin. And ever since she’d stopped going to the gym her muscles had gone slack sagging under the weight of her low spirits. 

With hindsight she saw that it wasn’t a case of anger management for him. He just enjoyed the power it gave him. Last week she learnt what it meant to love herself. Last week he had pushed that button way too far when he came to her in the kitchen and for no reason twisted her arm, his lop-sided grin twisted into a grimace, and his words twisted into an auger of hate, “You’re ugly bitch!” He’d yelled, “And I’m going to make you uglier so no one will ever look at you again!” He raised a broken bottle to strike her. 

In that moment Theresa knew what it meant to love herself. It burst with all the warmth of a heart full of deep, fathomless love. A love so pure it gave her the strength to wrench her arm out of his, raise her leg and land a full-bodied kick in his groin. As he doubled over, she grabbed the hot pan from off the stove and struck him in the face. He fell down and passed out. She felt for his pulse, knew he was still alive. Then she packed all the things that were hers and walked out. 

“No,” she said, “that’s enough!” She smiled grimly to herself. “Whatever it is long, thin, ugly, it is my face and I love it.” 

Dark Lipstick

A bloodied gash upon my lips

The purple wound should not be seen

Lest they should say, “I told you so,”

And love I thought I had, has been

A sorry, sordid, lost affair.

Dark lipstick covers all my dreams

How long will it conceal my plight?

Another love, another fight

Some other way to turn a trick,

Another reason… dark lipstick.

Until I learnt I can fight back

Not just with fists, or fire or might

But knowing I can change my tack

Knowing I can walk away

Knowing I can live again

For I have learnt to love again

Learnt to love myself again

No more bruises on my lips

Yet I still wear dark lipstick

Not as a mem’ry or charm that would

Fend them off, but now because

The mirror says, that I look good!

Twelve Roses for Love

Twelve Roses for Love

 I think, JRR Tolkein put it better than anyone else, “I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.” Love is a hundred different things and this little collection that I’ve put together explores twelve different ways in which love enters our lives, defines so many little aspects of it and will, I hope, give you insights into your own love. 

Many of the stories were previously written, Hearts for Valentine was written when my previous publisher, Robert Agar-Hutton, needed a blog post in time for Valentine’s Day. I thought of all the stories that are written about young love and so few about the love that you and I and many other couples experience. Of course, there was that initial thrill and aching depth that we all feel when we first fall in love. But, how many stories celebrate that everyday love that we know? The one that grows deeper with every passing year that we spend with our spouses. That’s how come and why I wrote that one. 

            When I put this collection together, although I wanted it to come out in time for Valentine’s Day, I also wanted to write about ‘LOVE’ as something bigger than romantic love. I wanted to explore the love between sisters, and the funny idea that perhaps inanimate objects could inspire love or maybe even love their human partners. Okay I had a bit of fun with that one, where an armchair looks back on the love he had for his mistress. The story was originally based on a prompt given for one of our Bahrain Writers’ Circle challenges. I must confess it’s a bit titillating! The collection also features four new stories that have not appeared anywhere else.

            Here’s a little excerpt that’s not on the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature. It’s a bit of a challenge to you as a reader to guess who the love interest is, in this one. 


She lay there in all her innocent splendour. Virginal white not a single mark on her visage that suggested any other. Never had a bride been quite so innocent of everything. 

There was no suggestion that she had undergone a lifetime of pain. Of being crushed, beaten, and then beaten again. Every ounce of her strength had once been sapped. She had been ripped from limb to limb and then put together again. All those who had been part of her earlier life had been taken from her. And when she was bereft of all support, her captors had thrashed her until there was not a fibre in her being that could hold her upright. That’s when her spirit broke. She wept until she could weep no more. She was drained of all the tears that nature had once given her.

Feedback from a friend: Caught me out! My visualisation went from people trafficking to mannequin to waxwork before you sprung the surprise… 

Available here on Amazon.

Self-Publishing trials, horrors, and maybe success?

Self-Publishing trials, horrors, and maybe success?

I was forced into it. 

My independent publisher in the UK (Ex-L-Ence Publishing) decided he needed to close down. What was I going to do? My childhood dream of becoming an ‘author’ was about to go up in proverbial fumes. ‘Oh that this too, too, solid, etc.’ except of course e-books aren’t really solid. You get the drift, basically ‘waaaah’.

            Followed by a deep breath. A long hard look in that reflective material called a mirror that just throws light rays back at you and usually does nothing to encourage contemplation other than, ‘oh dear, I need to go to the salon’. But in this instance, followed by a “No! I will, I shall, I must…”

            Thankfully, Robert Agar-Hutton the publisher, and another Ex-L-Ence author Bob Cubitt – so filled with the milk of human kindness his cup ran over- provided us abandoned authors with a self-publishing guide. 

            The opening lines were so comforting I almost fell asleep… admittedly it was 2 a.m. Trust me, when you think about approaching something as daunting as a dragon, and you read the lines, “If you are only going to publish an e-book, this isn’t difficult…” said dragon is rapidly transformed into a puppy. Bob’s step by step instructions, literally just five steps, encouraged me to take the leap and I went to Amazon’s Getting Started page. 

            All went well until I inserted the header. At first, I was ambitious. I wanted it to have my name on the even pages and the book’s title Twelve Roses For Love on the odd pages. I also made the mistake of adding the cover to the Word document. This screwed everything up as the header kept appearing on the cover page. Several sessions of frustration resulted in fist banging on the desk to taking a walk and yelling select expletives at MSWord, KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), and other inanimate objects that I sincerely believe regularly conspire to confound us. Eventually, I settled for a simple header and, tbh as they say these days, I don’t quite know what I did but the header issue was resolved. Sorry, but if you’re reading this in the hope that it’s a guide, then you are sadly mistaken. Also does anyone know how to delete a blank page in MSWord? The new version just will not let me do it.

            Here’s where young Glen Stansfield (yes, Glen, in my book you are young) provided some real-time excellent support and why I’ve acknowledged him in my paperback version. Great advice on what to do if I wanted to insert a little rose at the end of each story. Cheesy? A little! But, what the hey. Also instant advice on what to do if I wanted to upload a re-laid out version of the ‘book’ (it’s just 61 pages, so not sure if it’s a book or a pamphlet). 

            The cover. KDP does offer some cover templates but they just didn’t work for me. So, good old Canva. I love Canva. I mixed and matched a couple of free templates and created a cover, downloaded a jpg version and used that for the cover. Worked a dream on the Kindle version, but it needed a lot of adjusting and fiddling to get it right for the paperback. A few more headaches and hand-wringing and I decided to use one of their templates with the e-book jpg as an image for the front. What to do? Ce’s la vie! 

            Glory- be! Success. It was accepted. And I’ll only know if I have got the hang of it properly when I do it again. 

            If you’d like to check out and (maybe, pretty please) buy this little volume, click here.

A Prose Poem



Your leaving would take the middle out of my life. To say that I would miss you is like beggars’ alms, for they are a beggar’s words. I would be desperately alone and the world would not know it. I would laugh as I always have: too heartily. But, I would not cry. To think of life without you would be like drinking tea from a saucer, too hot and then too cold. It would be like climbing Mount Everest and not finding ice and snow there, yet having lost a limb to frostbite. To think of every day, crystallising without you is emptiness so vast I cannot comprehend it, like light not comprehending darkness. The very aliveness of the world, the very death in me, a zombie; gyrating from one true pure function to another; that would be me without you. 

The loneliness of the heart you have already known, but picture the strangeness of my soul without you.

What an honour!


It never ceases to amaze me how the connection between writers can lead to all kinds of advantages. Being featured on Debra Martens’ Canadian Writers Abroad is one such bonus.

I am not particularly good at that all-essential self-promotion tool called networking. If I connect with someone, that’s just it. I connect. It maybe they’re great punsters… that’ll do it most times for me, or we like the same books, connect over poetry, or a love of tea in a teacup (not a mug) inconsequential stuff, but a connection nonetheless. For the most part I find it hard to deliberately steer a connection towards a benefit. So, for this above-mentioned honour, I must thank Susan Toy.

I met Susan on Facebook a few years ago and she too is another wonderful promoter of writers and books. She has graciously featured me and my books a couple of times on her Island Editions. Susan has served as a reviewer for the monthly challenge we used to hold as part of encouraging the writers of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle. And so lots of connections and bonding there.

It has taken me a while for me to think of myself as a writer, but now to be part of a list that includes Ann-Marie MacDonald author of one of the most memorable books I have read, had me, to put it in pedestrian terms, gob-smacked. I am reduced to non-verbal expressions like Wow!

Many, many thanks, Debra Martens and Susan Toy. Whodathunk, eh?

So, head on over to Canadian Writers Abroad and check out this lovely piece on yours truly here: https://canadianwritersabroad.com/2020/09/22/work/

I think I can


I’m just a slender collection of a dozen stories about love. Between my covers I hold a heartbreaking story about the love of an older couple, the heartwarming tale of the love between sisters. There’s a romantic story about love that remained even after a twenty-year absence. And even a laugh-out-loud tale told by an armchair.

Although I’m a little book with only 61 pages, I have high ambitions. I want to outsell all the other books that the author has ever written. I’m in the throes of wondering how to do it. And I need your help, please…

If you’ve read the book, or even a few stories and feel you’ve had enough of a taste to make a comment, please do post a review either right here on this blog or at any of the Amazon sites. The latter is preferred. This, I’ve been told helps bump up the visibility and that’s always a good thing.

On May 6th, the e-book version of Twelve Roses for Love will go on a price promotion starting at 99¢ on the main Amazon.com site. Do please check it out. Honestly, I think you’ll enjoy all the short stories.

Online Writing and Reading Festivals – Part 1: When Words Collide – Calgary


All writers, everywhere… check this out

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

This is Part 1 in a 3-part series about annually held writing and reading festivals that have moved online this year. The good news is that these festivals are now open to readers and writers all over the world!

For this first part, I asked Randy McCharles, the brains and driving force behind the very first WWC held in 2011 to tell us about the Calgary festival. I took part in this conference during its early years in Calgary, providing displays of books by Alberta authors in The Book Room. The conference was always sold-out every year, making for crowds of readers and authors, publishers and promoters, gathering together.

When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers

August 14 to 16, 2020

Since its humble beginnings in 2011 as a regional literary festival set in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, When Words Collide has grown to become the largest festival of its…

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A-R International: Rohini Sunderam


Once again I have the honour of being featured among Susan Toy’s international writers

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

Rohini Sunderam
Authors-Readers International

A Canadian of Indian origin living in Bahrain, Rohini Sunderam dabbles in all kinds of verse, satirical, funny, and contemplative as well as prose if the mood so grabs her. She has contributed to several anthologies by Robin Barratt.

Rohini is a semi-retired advertising copywriter. She has written two books as commissioned assignments, had articles published in The Statesman, Calcutta, India, The Globe & Mail, Canada, and The Halifax Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Her poems have been selected in international competitions for publication in Poetry Rivals (Remus House, UK) 2012; Dilliwali (Bushra Alvi Razzak, India) and Quesadilla & Other Adventures (2019 Somrita U Ganguly).

Her books Corpoetry, Desert Flower and Five Lives – One Day in Bahrain are published by Ex-L-Ence UK. Her poem Birth Pangs and her entry in a Rhyming Riddle contest (7th…

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