Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Learning to Read

I have very few memories of my childhood, but one of them was standing in the road not far from our house, and refusing to move until I’d spelt out ‘Coombeinteignhead’ which is difficult enough to spell at the best of times, let alone when you’re learning to read. However, after that tricky start, anything else was easy, and once I discovered the delight of books, I could hardly contain myself.

I was always an active child, spending much time outside running and playing games, then as I grew older I learned to swim, did gym and ballet, both of which I adored and was good at. So I was by no means a solitary bookworm, but books held a huge fascination from me when I was forced indoors.

The library was the next delight, especially when I found I could borrow 4 - or was it 6 - books at a time. However, I inherited my mother’s ability to speed read, so my books never lasted long, and I can remember protesting when the librarian couldn’t believe that I’d read my quota of books so quickly.

Later on, my parents left the little seaside town and moved inland, nearer Totnes in Devon, and there I discovered the wondrous worlds of independent and second hand bookshops, of which there were plenty. The delight of entering a bookshop with a Christmas book voucher, or with pocket money to spend in the second hand bookshop, where Mum worked. One of her regular visitors was Mary Wesley, and I couldn’t believe this great writer would actually enter the shop where my mum worked. Much less reply to a letter I sent her, saying how much I’d enjoyed Harnessing Peacocks…

All of these stepping stones make a reader, which in turn can make a writer. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read, or grab the building blocks to turn me into a writer.

So here’s to our libraries, and all our independent bookshops, in particular #falmouthbookseller and #edgeoftheworldbookshop of who now stock The Rescue also available here -

Tuesday, 21 February 2023


I was talking to a friend the other day about Triggers. Not the kind on a gun, though I suppose metaphorically they do the same thing, but the ones that cause us to react in a certain way.

We all have them. Certain happenings or events can trigger something in our minds that make us want to run, or hide, or shut ourselves away. Or do all kinds of things - usually negative.

Lainy’s triggers are men in hoodies; certain noises (a car running over a plastic lid this morning); anyone getting too close to her face, to name a few. Obviously I can’t ask her what happened, but it’s clear that something very unpleasant is associated with these things.

Moll’s triggers were kites or anything with a sail in the sky; rubbish bin lorries; fireworks and me getting up in the night to go to the loo (how dare I disrupt her sleep?).

One of mine is Christmas. I have a gallery of things that happened at Christmas over the years - father dying; years of anorexia and horrendous mealtimes; husband dying, and a few others besides. The last two Christmases have been wonderful in their very ordinariness because we did purely what we wanted to do - take the dogs for a lovely long walk, watch a good film, have a nice meal and go to bed. But despite all that, I just have to think of Christmas and all my insecurities come rushing back like overexcited ghosts, shouting ‘Yah! Hate you! No one will ever love you!’

I wrote about these in The Rescue for it is something I’ve had to learn to deal with. They’re still there, of course, but having had two happy Christmases has helped a lot.

Some people I know are frightened of getting too involved with other people in case they get hurt. Some are the opposite, and can't bear to be on their own. We all have our insecurities and over the years we develop ways of dealing with them.

But talking about our fears, or in my case writing about them, can really help not only us but the people who love us. And of course if you read about someone who’s gone through something that you’ve been through too, there’s that moment of recognition. That Ah Hah! Moment. And you might be able to help someone else figure out what to do.

A few weeks ago I was asked why I remembered the scene in The Full Monty with the guy wrapped in cling film, trying to lose weight. I thought hard and said, ‘because it shows his vulnerability.’ And only by seeing others’ vulnerability can we learn about them.

So isn’t it worth taking a deep breath, opening your mouth and seeing what happens? You may be pleasantly surprised. The Rescue - out now -

Thursday, 9 February 2023

A Week in the Life of a Writer

Mostly, life as a writer consists of sitting on my backside, writing. Obviously. But sometimes other writerly things have to be done - like selling books. So I thought I'd share with you my life this week.

On Monday I had to drop off some books at a local Falmouth shop which we fitted in with a dog walk. I’d managed to write in the morning, so I’d got my fix and was happy that the sequel is making progress. By the way, as I've had several queries about why I wrote The Rescue under S L Rosewarne, I should explain.

My mum's maiden name is Rosewarne, and at her memorial service, my only Rosewarne cousin looked at me as I slid into the seat next to her and said, "my goodness, you can tell YOU'RE a Rosewarne!" Pause. "That's a compliment by the way." (The Rosewarnes are small, slim and dark whereas the Kittows are taller and stockier.) And as there are no young Rosewarnes left to carry on the name it seemed a good idea to use Rosewarne for my fiction, but also to differentiate my fiction from non-fiction books.

An aside, here, but a relevant one: my sleep pattern is all to pot at the moment. I’ve been worried about several things, but as someone who usually gets about 7-8 hours kip, surviving on 4-5 hours isn’t great. However, a lot of friends have similar problems so we compared notes on how to get a few more hours. Rescue Remedy Night drops? Read? Listen to BBC4 Extra? Read? Get up and have a warm drink? I am becoming expert on BBC Radio 4 Extra schedule from 2-5am...

Anyway, after about 5 hours sleep I wasn’t at my best, but on Tuesday I had to pick up my friend Jac from the garage at 9am, go and see some kennels at 9.30 on the way to Penzance, then meet Pip’s cousins there at 11 for coffee. After that, at 12, we went to the Edge of the World bookshop to meet James, the manager, for he wanted to buy some copies of The Rescue. After that we explored a few charity shops, had a coffee sitting outside in the sun at Penlee Gallery - one of my favourite places in Penzance - then had a fabulous new walk over the fields from near Marazion to Perranuthnoe, where the tide was out enough for us to have a good run on the beach. I dropped Jac back in Penryn and drove home where I collapsed on the bed. No way was I able to write that day.

Yesterday I was booked to give a talk to Kerrier U3A at Heartlands at 10.30. Plenty of time to get up, eat, shower, walk Lainy etc and get to the destination. Again on not much sleep. I’ve sung at Heartlands, but it was a few years ago, so I was a bit hazy about the last bit of the journey so thought I’d ask Google maps. Unfortunately it decided to send me round in circles so instead of arriving in plenty of time, I arrived flustered and shaking. I then found the venue, opened the door to find a room packed full of people - for my first solo talk in 3 years. Oh my god, I thought, but accepted a decaff coffee and took some deep breaths.

And what a lovely audience - warm and attentive (apart from the odd man nodding off) and enthusiastic. I got very emotional at times reading out parts of The Rescue (I blame low blood sugar, low sleep and over-adrenaline). But a lot of them came up afterwards for a chat and to buy books, which made it all worthwhile. I drove home, utterly drained...

And today I am back at my desk which is lovely. I’ve written 1500 words and wondering what’s going to happen next, as the synopsis I’d painstakingly drafted bears little resemblance to what I’ve actually written. And I’ve got about 15,000 words to wrap it up in.

Below is a glimpse of the most glorious weather on Tuesday for our walk - we were so lucky.

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

The Rescue finally on Amazon

I'm glad to say that The Rescue will be available from Amazon as Kindle and paperback as from today - or rather, it takes 72 hours for it all to be processed. So by the end of this week - 13th or 14th January - it will be available.

January is usually a dreary month, most of us find. The weather's usually wet and windy in Cornwall, so it means getting muddy at least once a day on our dog walks. There's not usually much to look forward to, once Christmas is over, and the days are still short.

BUT - now you can settle down with The Rescue, and if you order it from me, you'll get your own The Rescue coaster so you can enjoy your favourite beverage with it. I have to say this was The Fella's idea, not mine, to give credit where it's due.

I'm pleased to say that all the reviews I've had so far have been lovely. More than lovely - really heartwarming. So if you do order it from Amazon, and you like it, I'd be very grateful if you could leave me a review. I'm writing the sequel now and have to think of a title for the series - any ideas?

Yesterday we went to Poldhu Cafe as the owner is keen to sell my books, but he wasn't there, so we had a rather windswept coffee (we were; the coffee became windswept), then walked along the beach and over to Church Cove which was equally blustery. However, I love this wild weather. I love the wind tearing at my face and hair, hearing the boom and bash of the sea on the rocks. The suck and hiss as the waves claw their way up the beach. Nature is at her most dramatic, and while I'm glad I'm not at sea in it, it's wonderful to watch.

I leave you with a picture from one of the gravestones at Gunwalloe church, on the beach, where I was struck, as I always am, by the beauty and longevity of the cursive script on some of the gravestones. You'd never think it had been carved 150 years ago...

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Different kinds of love

I met up with a friend I hadn't seen for ages yesterday, so we had a lot to catch up on. We were talking about how different people are, and how they love - and we love them - differently, according to their personalities and their past experiences.

Anna knew me when Pip died, and was very much there for me. She then had a rescue greyhound called Bill, so understood how very important our four legged loves ones are, particularly when we're feeling wobbly. I remember her telling me about a close friend whose partner had left her, at Christmas, and I felt grateful. For although I was ripped apart when Pip died, I felt secure in the knowledge that he loved me as he did Moll - completely and thoroughly. There were no gaps in his love. And to be that loved is a) very rare and b) gave me a lot of badly needed confidence, for I had evidence of his love, which was a big, all surrounding love.

Whereas this poor friend was faced with anger, insecurity, sadness, feeling unloved, rejected, worthless - a real Pandora's Box of emotions, nearly all of which were negative and damaging. So that made me the lucky one.

Anna and I were laughing about Pip (she had, like all my friends, been very fond of him). He was, as my mother said, "equally popular and at ease with both sexes". Men were drawn to him because he was brave, had sailed single handedly across the Atlantic in a fishing boat, with no engine or electrics. He liked a drink. He was a born narrator, and held people captive with stories of his adventures.

Women liked him because he was charming in a courteous, playful way. He gently teased them but made them feel loved and protected, like me. And they all knew how much he loved me: there was no way he would ever stray.

Also unusually, for an adventurous, Alpha type man, he wasn’t afraid to tell everyone who much he loved me. Shortly after we met, he stuck an A4 sheet of paper to one of the telegraph poles leading down to the Pandora. It said simply, “Jacko loves Curls” which, he knew, would get all the locals' tongues wagging - "who is this Curls?". This was just the start of his love missives which continued through the years in my packed lunch box for work, in little cartoons, all over the place.

You can read more about Pip and his love - and subsequent loves - in The Rescue, order now on Last courier posting date before Christmas is Monday 19th December, so hurry!

It's also available through the Falmouth Bookseller, Rock Paper Scissors at the Chocolate Factory, Mullion and the Terrace Gallery Penryn. More outlets arriving soon.

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

The Launch

It's extraordinary to think that this time last week I was rushing up to the Princess Pavilion to take all the books etc up for my launch. It wasn't possible to set up then as the room was in use all day, but having deposited everything in the office, we had a good time wandering around outside in the sunshine seeing all the Christmas trees, each decorated by a different school or organisation. The coffee was good, too!

For some reason I was exhausted that day, but had to walk Lainy, then The Fella arrived and we went back to the Pavilion at 4.30pm to set up the books - a friend suggested arranging them in a dog bed which was a great idea. I took some of my walks books as well, and some of my cards, Anne bought me a drink, and at 5pm people starting arriving, and from then on there was a steady stream of people all wanting books, which was wonderful.

My dear friend Ali's ukelele band came to play background music, and they were positioned on the small stage at the end of the room, so I opted to sit at a table next to them, which gave me some moral support!

One of the people wanting books was a friend of mine's daughter, who wishes to become a writer, so meeting her was very special - and I hope gives her good luck and inspiration.

After about an hour I gave a short reading from the book, and talked to more people, and then it was time to start tidying up and go home, check the dogs, light the fire and eat. It was an exhausting day, but so lovely to see so many friends. I'd been worried that not enough people would turn up, as many said they wouldn't be able to come - but all was well!

Now it's on to trying to sell more books, and waiting for people's reactions. That's the really scary part. I mean, I know not everyone will like it but I hope the majority do. I did have a chance meeting with a friend from my book group in Sainsburys on Friday, and she gave me a huge hug and said how much she really loved it, and how much she knew I'd put into it. As she is a very discerning reader, I was so touched and that really made my week.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Rescue Dogs

This morning I was pottering about, half listening to Radio Four as I had breakfast, made another cup of tea, that type of thing, when I heard someone talking about her rescue dog, how he’d helped her during a really difficult period when she’d struggled with burnout from work and her marriage disintegrating which led to depression and lack of sleep. How she'd never been much of a walker, but having to get up every day to walk this poor dog, who was afraid of everything, gave her a purpose. It helped clear her head of the troublesome thoughts that plagued her all the time. She had to focus on the Bosnian rescue dog, who was so terrified of people and other dogs, she had to walk him on a lead, somewhere really quiet. She didn't say how hard this was, but having a very nervy dog myself, I can understand the huge amount of work involved with a dog this frightened. It is not to be underestimated. And when you're feeling terrible yourself - well, hats off to her. I wouldn't have been able to do it.

But she is evidently made of tougher stuff. Gradually, she and the dog started looking forward to their walks, and with the help of psychotherapy and managing herself, her sleep and remembering to eat regularly, life wasn't as terrible as it had been. The dog's tail started coming up - a sign that she was happier. After a long while, she was able to let the dog off the lead, and several years on, she’s a different dog. Still cautious and wary, but much happier. More confident. She adopted another foreign Bosnian dog who was as uncomplicated as her first one was complex.

She moved from the wilds of Essex to London, to be nearer loved ones, and wondered how they would both cope. Would they long for the quiet fields of Essex? How would the nervous dog cope? Initially she was wary, but after a while she settled down, and is enjoying the acres of roaming that Hampstead Heath provides, embracing the change. Learning to be more sociable.

The speaker turned out to be the novelist and journalist, Jo Jo Moyes. She said that maybe she has lessons to learn from her nervous dog. Maybe she does, but I thought, they’re called rescue dogs because we rescue them. But really, as everyone knows who has one, they rescue us.