Leigh Literary & Arts Fair 19th September 2015

This is SWANS first outing into Leigh on Sea, Essex to promote the work of local authors and artists. Over twenty of us will be there at the community centre on the 19th September and as you can see from the flyer talks and demonstrations will be happening in addition to the usual stalls.

Although not taking part in the workshops, I am looking forward to meeting the public, talking about Lucy and Mark’s adventures and explaining the extent to which Canvey Island and Southend have inspired me to write my first trilogy.

Whether you just want a day out, or you’re looking for literary/artistic inspiration; or you’re an aspiring author/artist yourself – come and join us in Elm Road from 10 am – 4pmleigh arts fair


Book Signing

It’s all go here! Tomorrow is my first book signing.I’m at the Forum Southend between 10am and 4pm It follows hard on the heels of a very successful book reading in Chalkwell with the SWANS.

If someone had told me this stress relief I embarked on two years ago would turn into a full time hobby; I’d have laughed at them.

forum poster 1

The 1949 Affair – Ask me a question

Hi guys: Lucy and Mark’s 1949 affair 1 paper back  versionnext adventure is out next week. If you have any questions about their previous adventure – The End of the Pier Affair – or their latest travels in the 1949 Affair: post them below and I’ll do my best to answer them…

If you don’t fancy posting here and are a member of goodreads, you can post your question there 🙂


Look forward to hearing from you

Research for Cut Throat Alley Affair 1

London's Shadows: The Dark Side of the Victorian CityI read this book as part of my research for the third book of Lucy and Mark’s adventures.

London’s Shadows: The Dark Side of the Victorian City by Drew D. Gray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Typical researcher that I am, I’m afraid I have been dipping in and out of this book to find out what it was like to be in the East End during the 1880s. But incomplete as my reading is, I have decided to review Drew  D. Gray’s book. You see, this it well written an well researched – in a word it is a joy.

Most books that deal with this period of London’s history are sensationalist, focussing on the Ripper and his activities rather than looking at the context of the murder, the state of the East End; the ethnic mix, the geographical complexity of the situation. And for me, this is why this book scores highly.

Yes, the Whitechapel murders are the focal point of this book. It was the biggest “thing” to happen in the East End after all. And yet, through this book, I have learned about: the increasing professionalism of the police and the work of the courts; as well as what drove the women of whitechapel to prostitution and the desperate poverty and disease that was endemic in the area.

To be honest, this is one of the best books I have read about Victorian London in a a long time. If you want to know about the London underbelly you cannot go far wrong by reading this book.

View all my reviews

The Professional Edit


it’s getting really exciting here. The freebie promotion weekend back in August, shifted a decent amount of books and brought some interesting feedback, for which I thank you.

It also brought an Angel onto the scene… someone prepared to stump up the money for a professional edit. Yes, I know there’s no such thing as a free lunch but the deal we worked out was acceptable to both; and I’m now on tender-hooks as I wait for the edit to pop into my in box. I’m interested to see what a 4th pair of eyes has done to this dyslexics work.

I shall, as always, keep you posted…

The 1949 Affair… The story So far


Sometimes it’s really tough to catch up with a story that is more than a few chapters old. So I thought: why not make it easier with a quick summary post?

So here goes…

Lucy and Mark find they are in Blackpool, not Southend;  and the Nazis have won WW2. Fortunately their encounter with the Wehrmacht leads not  to a summary execution but a meeting with old friends and adversaries … However, while Mark heads off in a car with Walter Nicolai (Reichsfuhrer GB)  – Lucy has discovered that Marconi’s diaries are located at Alexandra Palace – once home to the BBC – now Head Quarters to the victorious and occupying powers.

In a change to their plans, Lucy finds herself abandoned by Lady Frances and  left all alone with Valentin Von Schmidt – a psychiatrist and former admiral in the Kriegsmarine – at the Leytonstone Displacement Camp. Her job is simple – she has to find the second part of the Marconi diary. Unfortunately, only one man knows their location – the infamous madman of Leytonstone. And he will only talk to blonds.

Meanwhile, Mark has been beaten within an inch of his life and lies unconscious in the infirmary of the Volks Palast

To catch up with the story in more detail please follow the link…

The 1949 Affair Chapter 8 – What the Madman had to Say!

Follow this link to catch up with the story so far

I walked back to the Admiral’s quarters in silence. My guard, taking his cue from me, kept a respectful distance and said nothing. It was dusk and the men who had abused me were gone. I was relieved, there was too much going on in my head already to have to deal with them. He saluted as he delivered me back at the Workhouse building and vanished into the blackness.

I’m not sure whether I thanked him; all I knew was that Hitch had given me much to think about; much to ponder. Whatever had happened to Time, it was clear that our adversary was far clever than the Armstrongs! Time had been manipulated; folded in on itself to such an extent that nothing could be taken for granted. Indeed, this time there would be no simple save one person solution. This  conundrum required some serious unravelling.

A light was on but, as I entered the Admiral’s quarters, it became clear no one was waiting for me.

I wasn’t sure if I should be disappointed or relieved by this state of affairs. Still the emptiness of the room matched my mood, so I suppose I was grateful for their tact.

I stood at the door watching the night time, then, as the chill of October became unbearable, I shut the door; took my coat off; hanging it next to the Admiral’s overcoat on the hat stand and took  a good look around the room. Hitch had told me to be observant; that this skill would save me. I couldn’t see what he meant, but I’d do it.

There wasn’t much to go on… Two unused glasses and a decanter of brandy sat on a table, an open copy of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca next to them. An ironic choice? Or yet another thing designed to put me off balance? I had no way of telling. I picked up the book but could see nothing significant in it.

Walking over to the desk – a beautiful mahogany construction, I let my hand trail across the beautiful and highly polished wood. Certainly the Admiral lived in luxury.

Mind you, I suppose because the War had been won earlier than in my version of reality, the destruction hadn’t been so great,  or – for that matter  – the cost so high.

There was  a letter in German; documents with the Official military seal; a faded picture of the two of us, hand in hand and smiling.  Everything in its place and yet again unnerving. But not as unnerving as my earlier discovery. I moved away from the desk and sat down in one of the wing back chairs. I went to pour brandy into one of the glasses and thought better of it.

I thought back to what Hitch had revealed during our conversation. To say the least… it was… bizarre. We’d been sitting at the table; he’d explained everything as though it were a movie. And then he’d said what he did.

Which had me reeling.

If it were true?

Dear Gods, if it was true… then… it was…. unsettling to say  at least!

Actually, if I were being  honest; Hitch’s warning had turned my world upside down.

I didn’t want to believe him but Hitch had been so insistent.

“They all have secrets, Lucy. You will have to decide – out of all of them – who you can trust.” Hitch had told me. “But, believe me Lucy: you can’t trust Mark. He will… betray you.”

The 1949 Affair Chapter 1a

When you see as Swastika in a history lesson – even if you’re doing the imagery/purpose type lesson – where you’re analysing Nazi thinking behind the colour scheme; it’s something you’re divorced from. When you’re facing one that’s 518 foot long – contrasted against a night sky? That’s another story. I mean let’s face it; In 2013 … 1… it’s something that happened 74 years ago – those Nazis goose stepping all over Europe: that’s when my Great Grandparents were young. I’m an Essex girl remember. And … 2…  the Nazis didn’t invade. Operation Sealion failed in 1940.

Something  has gone




And it’s about to get worse.

There’s a noise – a low rumble – Distant. Persistent. Getting louder. Steadier. More… Menacing. Soldiers! Loads of them. I look at Mark. The horror I feel, realised in his face. It’s night. The Nazis are in control. And we don’t have papers. No blauschein. No ID.

We stand still: waiting. Well there’s no point running. We’re on Blackpool Sea Front. Where can we hide?

“You! Halt!” I pray for  Mark not to be sarcastic, but the logic of the statement’s so circular, especially as we aren’t moving. Rifles point directly at us.

I’ve never been so frightened. Even when I was kidnapped, bound, gagged, and held in Dover Castle. That paled into insignificance compared to this.

“Papers!” The movies’ were correct. These soldiers snapped orders. After Melville and Nicolai… this was the rude and crude reality of war.

The 1949 Affair – Prelude


We were back on the pier. I could hear the waves lapping beneath us; feel the cold sea air on my face. It was warmer than I’d been used to in 1913.

“Thank God,” Lucy said. “Home.”

She began walking. Not watching where she was going.

I, however… Oh hell!

Let’s start again. We were on a pier, I could hear the waves lapping beneath us and it was really dark. Great I was going to have to explain my absence to Mum. And then it hit me:

We were on a pier, I could hear the waves lapping beneath us; it was really dark and: “Luce, look around you.”

She stopped and stared out into the darkness.

“Well?” I prompted.

“It’s dark…” she conceded. “That’s coz it’s night time.” Ooh the sarcasm was withering.

“No, it’s more than that!”

“So we’ve travelled back to Southend – at night.” She gave me one of those looks and carried on walking.

I looked at her. “Try again, stupid. It’s black-out dark.”


“It’s too dark. There’s not enough light pollution which is what I was looking forward to seeing when we got back.”

“So we’re in the wrong time period!”

I got the feeling Luce didn’t want to go home.

“Luce. Look at the pier.” It was different. A real old fashioned pleasure pier with amusements and arcades.

There was a paper laying on the floor. I should have realised it was too convenient, but I wasn’t thinking straight. I was tired and I wanted to go home.  Looking at the paper, I got no further than the date: “Luce it’s  October 1949!”

“So? We’ve landed at the end of WW2. We knew there was no guarantee about getting back first time.” She carried on walking.

I followed her. My head was still in the paper.”Luce!”

She stopped again “What?”

“Look at the Title of the Paper.” I held it up: “Blackpool Gazette”

Instead of being upset; my mate Lucy is bouncing up and down. “October 1949?” She shouted.

I nodded.


I was beginning to feel like the Churchill dog off the telly.

“Wonder if we’re in time to see the Labour Party Conference at the Winter Gardens.” And she was off again. Down the pier.

I didn’t follow her immediately. I was too busy reading the rest of the paper. And what I read, I didn’t like. I threw a fist at the sky and hurried off after: “Lucy!… Wait!”

She came to a halt at the end of the pier – her facing the sea, me looking over at the Tower. What I saw made me go cold. “Err Luce, I don’t think we can do…” I don’t know how the words got out through the terror that engulfed me. Dear Gods! It was… horrific!

“Why not?” she demanded

It was going to take too long to explain; and you know me by now, I’m a lad of few words at the best of times and this wasn’t the best of times. “Look at the Tower!” I grabbed Lucy by the shoulders and propelled her around 180 degrees.

Even in the darkness I could see the colour drain from her face.”Oh hell Mark, what’s gone wrong this time?”

The thing ( I will not call it a flag) lit by one, single, searchlight, hung the entire  518 feet of the metal structure; a red and black monstrosity exuding unadulterated evil.