Translate

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Exam results!

To all the teens and their families who are anxiously awaiting exam results today - I wish them the very best of luck.

But whatever happens, just remember that your families will ALWAYS love you, whether you go off to university or not. 

There are always other avenues to explore, other doors which will open for you. 

Stay safe. You are loved regardless of what life throws at you. x

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Time flies - whether you're having fun or not...

Time is elusive. I've always known that.

Even as a young child I was aware of how it slipped away from me. Perhaps that's because I've always had so much to do, so much I wanted to achieve.

More than half a century later, I feel no different. There is still so much to do, so much I want to experience and even less time than there was before, to achieve it in.

I'm impatient for new experiences, to stand on fresh ground that my feet have never before trodden, to meet new adventures and to go to bed drunk on a day well-lived...

But for now my reality is the same as it is for many mothers in the UK - go through the kids' old school uniform, sort through last year's clothes, and prepare for the coming school year. So humdrum. So necessary.

Yet the internet and social media is full of slogans that urge us to live for the moment, to cast of the shackles of domesticity in favour of adventure. Excuse me whilst I just step over this pile of dirty laundry and be on my way to the mysteries of Machu Picchu... No? So let's get real then.

Chores have to be done, responsibilities have to be tended to. And then, maybe, just maybe, I can find a time to fit in all the spirit-enhancing stuff I'd like to do. And let's face it, you are probably in the same scenario as me. Are you going to cast aside your family and go off on a Shirley Valentine adventure? Thought not, appealing as that might be.

So, back to the drawing board, or in my case the newest chapter of my current book and next scenes in the screenplay. And it's not so bad. As a writer I can live vicariously through my characters. And boy, do they whoop it up!

So if you're feeling in need of adventure, you know where to turn. Try one of my books today.

Happy reading.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Sign me up!

Ooh exciting times!

I have just signed two contracts for work, and am about to sign another. I'm like a dog with two tails!

The projects are a little top-secret right now, but what I can tell you, is that one of them is for an adaptation of another writer's book for screen, and one is a publishing deal for one of my own books.

There is of course a lot of work involved - but then I'm hardly a stranger to that.

With 20 books and several screenplays of my own, I know what it's like to knuckle down, and luckily I love my job.

And rest assured, as soon as I can tell you more, I will.

Until then - happy reading!


Saturday, 28 July 2018

A day out with my daughter in Birmingham.

If you know me, you'll know I'm a workaholic. 

Even when I'm not writing my next novel or screenplay for film, I'm thinking about it, storing ideas up in my head, and filing them carefully away for later use. 

But with the sheer volume of work I have on at the moment, I thought that conversely, I should take a day off, to unwind and recharge my batteries. And it is the summer after all. 

For this reason I have decided to take my daughter on a 'cultural' visit to Birmingham. 

We plan to visit Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum and coo over the wonderful Renaissance paintings, twist our heads in wonder at the modern art on display and wonder at the skill of the long-dead people who made all the delicate pottery and artefacts on display. 

Then as a final flourish, we will take a stroll along the impressive canal area and head to my favourite place in Birmingham, Del Villaggio, situated at the top of Broad Street. 

Fully authentic, with a menu which makes your mouth water as you read it, it's a favourite haunt of mine. 

The staff are so welcoming that every time I visit, I feel like I've come home. And the food is seriously good - the best Italian food I've ever had, in fact. And coming from a half-Italian woman, born and raised in Glasgow which is teeming with Italian eateries, that's no small accolade. 

But what fascinates me most about the place, is that it's kind-of a hidden gem. It's not rushed, and when I sit down to peruse the menu, I won't feel that I have to be out of my seat as soon as the final forkful leaves my mouth, as you do in some places. 

I will have as much time as I want to order, to savour my food and to enjoy a sneaky mid-day glass of wine, or even a cocktail [we will be travelling in on the train after all].

My daughter, will of course have her favourite dish - lasagne. I am undecided between the  Tagliolini Missoni Al Marinara - tagliolini in a garlicy sauce with prawns, mussels, squid and smoked salmon or the Penne with king prawn and chicken. There again, I might join my daughter and order lasagne... there's so much choice and since they're currently doing a special deal of buy one pasta or pizza and get another for £1, it won't break the bank.

If museums and art galleries aren't your thing, there are a million and one other places in Birmingham to take your children during the summer holidays. You could take a trip on a canal boat and sightsee, or visit the Thinktank or the library. You could hit the shops and even have a stroll through the busy market area which has remained unchanged since I first came to the area, over 30 years ago! 

You could visit the Cathedral which stands at the centre of town or the Jewellery Quarter which sits towards the back of the area, where diamond rings out the reach of my pocket, glitter enticingly under bright lights.   

Whatever you decide to do, I'm sure you'll have a great time. And who knows, maybe I'll see you at Del Villaggio's for a coffee or a spot of lunch. 

Happy Reading. 





Friday, 20 July 2018

Smashing!

Did you know that you can now get Split Decision on Smashwords?  

Yup, that's right, we've made it even easier for you to get your dose of good reading. 

So what're you waiting for? :)

In other news, I am still working on my newest play for theatre and also my latest screenplay for film, so I'm pretty busy. 

On top of that, there are several other projects awaiting my attention. 

So for now, work calls and I must bid you 'Adios' [yes I'm still learning Spanish and can even say "I'm hot," [as in sexy]. So what if it isn't factually true? A girl can dream, can't she? 

Happy reading. x

Thursday, 19 July 2018

It's the summer holidays [almost]

Where are you going this year? Spain? Cyprus? Greece? Or are you holidaying at home? A staycation, as it's been coined. 

A few years ago a staycation would have been a poor choice. But this year? This year it seems like an excellent alternative to the charms of anywhere abroad. 

In fact, sitting looking out at my garden right now, and the dried up, shrivelled brown grass of what used to be my lawn, reminds me more of a holiday in Lanzarote than anywhere else. 

I'm not a great believer in the idea that the weather has to be blisteringly hot in order to have fun, but that said, sitting on the beach in a raincoat with its hood up against either driving rain, or gale-force winds, isn't going to appeal to many [if indeed anyone]. 

So I'm hoping for fair weather when I go to the beach to scatter my dad's ashes in the next few days. I want him to be lifted and carried by the wind, taken far out to sea and made at one with its great vastness, it's eternal swell and ebb. 

My dad had a particular fondness for the sea. As wild and untamed as he himself was, it brought out the very best in him. Again and again, like a lover, he would return to the same spot, the easy familiarity of known stretches of sand; the indomitable rocks which had been there since the beginning of time...

We sat on those rock and ate fish and chips; played beach tennis on the sand. 

Now, after the sprinkling of ashes, this place will hold other memories for me. And also for my children.  

It's true what they say about one life touching many. 

And in this time of bereavement, I can't help but wonder at the beauty of life in the midst of all its cruelty. 

So whatever you're doing today, remember one thing: Take nothing for granted. It will stand you in good stead. 

Happy reading. x


Friday, 6 July 2018

Do you want to see one of the things I'm working on?

Here is part of the theatre monologue I'm working on.

Taken in isolation it's a bit weird, but hopefully you'll see how it will all eventually come together.


                        He stands there in front of me and tells me that I’m not alone. That I’ll never be alone now. That I have no need to be alone, anymore.
                         And I actually don’t know what he’s telling me. Is it that he wants to be beside me? Or that he feels he ought to be?

                         Or perhaps that my aloneness is a subconscious desire on my own part to endure how things are without having to rely on others? That I chose it? Willingly. 

                        I’m confused. But I don’t blame him. Confusion is a part of me now. Like rain on a winter’s morning, it washes over me leaving no lasting effect, because it’s only what I’ve come to expect, after all.

                        But him? He’s new into this – raw and brave like a new recruit on the battlefield.

                        Not a war zone of bloodshed and righteousness – where one side believes in its cause unto death - but the battlefield of life, where there are no rights or wrongs; no surrenders; no victories. No banners held aloft on a crimson field. Just survival. 
                        Or not.  

Dark? Yup - unapologetically so, but it is mitigated somewhat by the comedy film I'm writing. 
So until my next post - happy reading!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

I'm back!

I've written the first part of this blog three times, and erased it three times, so this is my fourth attempt. 

You'd be forgiven for thinking that because of the sort of novels and screenplays that I've written, emotions would be easy for me to deal with. But they're not. In fact, I am an exceptionally emotional person; even if I don't reflect it on the outside, I'm often screaming on the inside. 

Maybe it's not a bad thing then, that after my recent bereavement, I am returning to two very different projects. One is a comedy screenplay that I am writing and which would suit Simon Pegg and Nick Frost down to the ground; the other is a sharp and introspective monologue. 

The beauty of writing these in tandem, is that the comedy elevates me from the depths of despair, whilst the monologue allows me to voice and externalise that primal inner scream. 

My father's funeral was a strange affair. Filled with funny moments and memories, heart-breaking ones, and many which were both unique and special. I wish he could have been there to experience it. I think he would have approved. 

And as for my current projects? Well he would have loved the screenplay, and he would have understood the dark monologue, but he wouldn't have been comfortable with it. 

The monologue though is intended for quite a different audience. It will be a stand-alone piece of theatre, something that will be delivered to a live audience and will take their breath away with its power and its truth. 

But working on both together works for me. Isn't that the very nature of life after all? That sometimes we cry and then we laugh or vice versa? 

Life isn't simple. Why should my work be?

Until next time - happy reading!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Please excuse my absence from this blog but I have had a very recent bereavement. Thank you for your understanding. 

On July 2nd, 3pm you can catch my interview on the radio at WWW.radioplus.org.uk or 101.5FM.

I'll be discussing my love of film and why I am now writing movies as well as novels. 

Until then, happy reading! 

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Hola!

I have always intended to learn Spanish but somehow failed to get round to it in the past. So, because I am totally rushed off my feet with work and therefore won't have time to fret about whether I'm doing well at the language or not, I decided to begin. 

I spent literally five minutes on an internet lesson, and armed with that scant knowledge, proceeded directly to a Spanish conversation practice. Glass of wine in hand, I regaled the class with my entire knowledge of the Spanish language which mostly comprised of ordering glasses of cava and thanking the person for the said glass of cava. ;)

The evening turned out to be rather a surprise for all concerned. Not least for the lady who runs it, as we discovered we had met previously, when she bought signed copies of my books at an event. 

The rest of the group were equally friendly and I enjoyed my first session and even came away with several new phrases and words. For example I can now say in Spanish, "I'm sorry, I'm Scottish and my Spanish is really bad, can you speak very slowly as if to an idiot, please?"

I'm not sure if I was apologising for being Scottish or for being bad at Spanish, or for being an idiot - either way I imagine I'll get a lot of use out of that handy phrase. 

So for now - Hasta Manana!


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Is summer actually here?

So it looks like summer is actually upon us. My garden is looking gorgeous with flowers of every colour,
and I'm so glad I put all that effort into it last year. 

Gardening is not something that comes naturally to me. In fact quite the opposite. Normally I can actually kill plants by osmosis - just by association with them. But this batch seem impervious to my fumbled weeding and pruning...

Anyway the sun is beating down and instead of being out in the garden, I'm slaving away over a laptop. 

I'm so frantically busy that I have barely any time to call my own. But I'm loving every moment of it, I have to say. 

Watch out for the details of my radio interview, coming soon. 

Until then - happy reading! x

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Old workaholic me!

At the moment I am working on a number of projects - books, films and documentaries.

I was asked yesterday how confused I got with all the different characters and plots that go on simultaneously in my head. The truth is that I'm not confused at all. All of the characters are so clear, so individually and precisely drawn, that there is no mistaking one for another. Likewise the plots are distinct, and each has not only it's own storyline, but it's own feel to how the narrative plays out.

Of particular interest at the moment is the screenplay which I am close to finishing. It's a real thriller and I think it will have viewers on the edge of their seats. Drawn from real life, there are characters you will love to hate, and ones you will empathise with.

I may not always like all of my characters but they are compelling and I hope that's what comes across to readers and viewers.

Here's what the latest reviewer of Split Decision had to say:

5 Stars
I went in not knowing what to expect, but boy was this an edge of your seat ride!!! It was one of those great ones you don't realize how great till the end! Carmen does a brilliant job with character building as well as keeping it intriguing till the end. Well done! - M. Krugel. [AMAZON.COM]

Friday, 11 May 2018

I need your help..

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I'm not one for talking about high-end politics. I have no in-depth knowledge of politics in any shape or form within my own country, let alone the rest of the world.

But what I do have is a good moral compass and I use this to navigate the path I tread. For that reason much of my writing [this blog included] seeks to examine the morals, loose or otherwise, and the values by which we live.

This has led to me writing  psychological thrillers, science fiction adventures and countless other genres of books and screenplays.

And yet, for all that, and all my seeming worldliness, I have recently been shocked on more than one occasion by what is happening in the world around me.

Did you know that in countries such as China, dogs and cats are burned alive by blowtorch? Yes you did read that correctly, ALIVE! They are held on a lead and torched from head to paw whilst they scream in agony.

How despicable and cowardly are these practises? I honestly can't believe that humans can be so barbaric and cruel.

If we don't fight to stop these atrocities there is no hope for humanity. We will exist as a species that closes its eyes to that which it does not want to acknowledge.

And I think most of us are better than that.

Join me in emailing the Chinese Embassy press_uk@mfa.gov.cn.

Your soul will thank you for it. And so will I.   

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Goodbye to Tia

I have been avoiding this blog. Dreading the writing of it, for I know what it will be about.

I can only hope that it will be cathartic.

A couple of weeks ago, I had my beloved old dog put to sleep. Tia was 15 and a half, and had become increasingly frail over the preceding months, and the inevitable could no longer be delayed.

I'm writing this post with tears streaming down my face, such is the weight of my loss. And yet, the pain is almost nothing compared to how my soul would bleed on the times I saw her standing in the middle of the room, lost in some canine dementia, unaware of who I was, or how much she was loved. It broke my heart and still does.  

For more than two years, since her first stroke, I had told myself that the day of her demise was coming, that perhaps she wouldn't just pass away in her sleep, but that I'd be forced to make the terrible decision that all animal-lovers dread.


But still, every morning she would greet me with tail wagging, even though her cataracts must have made me look fuzzy to her. She had also grown progressively deaf during the last couple of years, and it pained me to think that she couldn't even take comfort in the familiarity of my voice in those last weeks and months.


And the parallels with her decline and that of my aged father have been most cruel. To see someone you love recoil from you in terror when you try to hold their hand... well the particular agony of that is almost indescribable.

So it was that I came to be saying goodbye to my faithful dog and packing up my father's house all in the space of two days. Honestly, I was broken. Utterly and completely bereft.

I shunned my friends - they didn't and still don't know what to say to me, how to help me. And in truth I'm not that sure I want to be helped.

Mine is a particularly strange scenario. Always more in tune with animals than with people, I have a natural affinity with them that isn't matched in my interactions with humans. Not that I don't like people, but to say they worry me, is probably the best description I could give to explain how I feel.

Animals don't worry me. They approach me with unsubtle abandon. Unknown cats in the street will sidle up to me, allow themselves to be picked up and petted and once put back down, will often walk some way with me on my path, before we part company. I have been called a witch in the past for this affinity, and maybe the name-callers weren't far wrong, for there is a certain other-worldliness to this easy familiarity. I'm aware that I give myself to animals, and that they reciprocate this affection in a way most people cannot comprehend.

And bizarre as this may sound to you, this is similar to the bond I share with my father. For he is not my natural father, but rather the man who chose to take me on as his own when he married my mother. Now, alone and divorced from her, he has continued to be my dad these long years. So the dementia which is slowly robbing him of the essence of who he is, is an exceptionally cruel cut. Sometimes he doesn't know that we chose each other to be family, just like me and Tia did.

If you are one of those people who will recoil at my putting my love for my dog and my love for my dad together in one sentence, as if the love for one should be so much greater than the love for the other, feel free to discontinue reading. There is space in my heart for both...

But there were feelings other than my own to consider too. My children had grown up with Tia in their lives and my other dog, Roxie had been adopted when Tia was already firmly established in the household. But they coped. Better than I did, actually.

I don't think I will ever forget the lightness of her in my arms in those final moments; of the limpness of her body as I carried her from the vets and back to the car, the poor, tired, emaciated feel of her...

But I will hold forever in my heart the joy of watching her as a young dog running across lush fields, of patting her and kissing her little velvety head;  the unique comfort she provided
me on those nights I had to bury my face in her fur and cry - for there have been many; of how she would lick my tears and somehow make me hold on until the morning.

For all those times and more - Tia Capuano, I salute you.  RIP until we meet again. xxx


Friday, 6 April 2018

What memories are made of...

When this memory came up in Facebook today, I was actually surprised. Because although it was only a year ago, it seems longer than that.

I wish I could tell you what’s going on in my life, but at this precise moment I’m unable to, and it’s driving me mad.

It's not that I can't keep a secret - I'm one of those people you can trust to take your soul's burden to the grave, if you need me to.

But I am in turns sad, elated, excited, worried and sometimes downright afraid. I have a handful of projects on the go at the moment, and each one brings forth not only one emotion, but a whole plethora of them, making sure I give the very best to it.

It's exhausting but oh so worthwhile. I promise I'll fill you in when I can.

Happy reading! 

Thursday, 29 March 2018

StageWright's production of TWO

Taking on an intense play such as Jim Cartwright's TWO, was never going to be an easy option.

This play, which requires two actors to craft fourteen very different characters between them, is enormously demanding both emotionally and physically on the performers, not to mention necessitating great skill to pull it off.

Add to this the fact that actress Hannah Kilroy hadn't performed in a play before, and that this was also the debut production by a brand new, young and innovative director and theatre company - and what you're really asking for seems beyond the realms of possibility.

Yet that is exactly what StageWright Theatre Company did when I went to watch their production in The Victoria in Birmingham last night. In fact I would go as far as to say that their first ever staged production was nothing short of a run-away success.

Beautifully portrayed throughout, both Kilroy and her male counterpart, Chris Cooper, played each new character with startling insight and a fair dose of sensitivity. They were by turns, endearing, over-bearing, nauseating and funny. But above all they were credible - every word they uttered rang true.

As I writer myself, I understand the value of  realistic dialogue, but during a performance such as this, one can only hope that a good director will ensure that every last drop of meaning is wrung from every line. Tellwright delivered this in buckets, keeping her audience fully immersed and experiencing the full gamut of emotions.

Every ounce of comedy, every shred of stripped dignity, every fortuneless twist of fate suffered by these characters was laid bare before the audience's eyes. I didn't see a single person move their gaze from the riveting performance in front of them, so rapt was their attention.

But I must make a special mention about Kilroy. Her final portrayal of the 'Landlady' was nothing short of outstanding. Poignant and heart-rendingly real, I unashamedly cried, not only for how she had been emotionally abandoned since losing her child, but for all the unrealised what-ifs in her life.

From beginning to end this was a production that enthralled, captivated and entranced. And I have no doubt at all as to the professionalism and exceptional talent of all of those involved.

If you can, get tickets for the final night of this production. If you're lucky there may be some left. But I seriously doubt it.

And if you're wise, you'll note Laura Tellwright's name, and that of her company StageWright, because I think this young director is going places fast.

But don't just take my word for it. Go and see for yourself.



Monday, 26 March 2018

Did you know that reprints of Split Decision have just been delivered in South Africa? 

Here they are in all their glory.

They are a little different to the British version and list my other books on the inside as well as giving a list of readers who have recommended the book.

If you haven't yet bought yourself or a loved one a copy, now is the time.

Happy Reading! x

Grand Re-opening of The Old Beams

The Old Beams in Stourport reopened on Saturday to a packed house.

Having been recently taken over by a new management team, this pub has a fabulous fusion of old and new, with a wealth of charm evident in every exposed beam. Tastefully decorated and furnished with quirky designer sofas, there are even more plans afoot to turn the place into THE place to go in Stourport.

More comfortable lounging areas are planned, and there are extensive plans for the outside area to host live music with the addition of an outside bar and dining area, allowing diners to make the most of those long summer evenings.

And to give clients just a taste of a delightful new, summery menu, mini-burgers were served on the evening, along with samples of crispy chicken, cheesy pizzas and dreamy desserts. All went down very well, along with the complimentary glass of prosecco.




So roll on summer! 

Roll-up for the mystery tour!

Yesterday was such an unexpectedly beautiful day, that my partner and I decided to change our plans and go on a mystery tour. With no real destination in mind, other than finding somewhere new to explore, we found ourselves in several little country villages and hamlets, before dropping into Knowle for a saunter around the churchyard and a leisurely cuppa.

We chose Elderberry Blacks Café for a drink for both of us, and a sausage and mushroom sandwich for my partner.

But what entranced me most about the place was it's quaintness and in particular the Hobbit-sized toilet.

Now I don't think I've ever written a post about a toilet before, but this one was quirky and unexpected - a bit like me!

With its tiny entrance carved into the framework of the building, the room boasted a log burner and a set of books, as well as the obligatory porcelain.

And it made me smile because I could just imagine Frodo Baggins rummaging around in there. [No cheap jokes about him looking for the ring please ;)...]

So here are the pictures, I hope they make you smile too!