It’s one thing to have an idea for a new book… it’s quite another to commit to it!

Every new venture embarked upon always leads to unexpected twists and turns, challenges as well as blessings. The initial burst of vision and enthusiasm required to commit to a new venture invariably wears off at some point, and then you are left to drag yourself through the challenges even when you are not feeling up to it. And a real problem with self-publishing is that you are answerable to nobody: there’s no editor or publisher chasing you up or keeping you accountable to deadlines – if you slump, it can be very difficult to pick yourself back up again.

So when I was inspired with the subject of my next book, these thoughts were still niggling at the back of my mind: now I had the vision, but how would I motivate myself to keep going when self-belief is challenged? Then I happened to come across an unrelated article. It was along the lines of ‘free ways to promote your book/ writing’ (if I can find it I will link here), and one of the suggestions was to take part in an anthology. I thought it sounded appealing but couldn’t think of anybody who might be compiling one, until…


I thought of my planned project, and immediately realised it would work brilliantly as an anthology. I could think of several writer friends who might benefit this way, so started reaching out to see if they could see the potential too, or if I was misguided. Happily it was met with almost universal positivity – so I started planning in earnest. There is a lot of work involved in compiling an anthology, but I have plenty of practice organising so I’m not too daunted. In some ways I’m more confident in organising than in publishing my own writing.

And then I realised. What had started as a way for me to promote my book and help others do the same, was going to involve a whole lot of accountability! Where self-belief might scupper a personal venture because I don’t mind much if my own projects fail, there is no way I would let other people down. So now I am accountable to all the other authors! I have no doubt that there will be slumps along the way still, when I will wonder if I have taken too much on, or if I can make it work as I hope etc – but when I have other published authors all believing in the project, and I am committed to helping them, that is powerful motivation for me to keep going and see this through to the end!

So watch this space – there will be a new anthology coming out later this year! I’m committed!


should be writing…

It’s amazing what a bit of sunshine can do, isn’t it?

I have consistently failed to write anything much since my post in January when I expressed a need for divine inspiration over what to write next. At that point I felt I needed to focus more on the dreaded marketing, so I did my best to embrace it by way of a Blog Tour that happily turned out to be hugely encouraging. Since the tour ended though, a whole month has passed which mainly consisted of me vaguely feeling I ‘should be writing’ but not knowing what to write about. Meh.

I haven’t exactly written NOTHING: I have another blog where I write about the things that God and I chat about, and every now and then I still share something there… but for some reason blogging doesn’t feel like “proper writing”. Imposter syndrome still lurks…

Still though, there is a real pull to write another book, which is hard when inspiration is non-existent. And while trying to make myself ‘get inspired’, I’ve been invited to write an article or two as well. You’d think an article would be simpler, but I’ve been feeling aimless about that too. And when I realised that I hadn’t even written anything here since my Blog Tour, a horrible feeling of failure started to creep over me, covering my outlook with dark, ‘not writing’ clouds.

But yesterday I specifically prayed and asked God what He wanted me to write about. Surely I’d asked Him before… but maybe I was defaulting to trying to figure it out myself. ‘Shoulds’ can do that to you: simultaneously drive you and make you feel you are failing without knowing what you’re failing at.

Anyway, that morning after I prayed I happened to come across an article on something unrelated, where a tiny sentence planted a seed of a thought that grew faster than a fairy-tale beanstalk, until it became something that seems to have genuine, far-reaching potential. Watch this space. And THEN I suddenly felt I needed to have a quick look at something I started working on last November while I was waiting for my first book to be edited. As I read it I realised I already know what I need to write next… at least, I have the start point and a general direction. Lo and behold: within the space of a few hours, I suddenly became a writer again, with two works in progress!

It’s like the metaphorical clouds have lifted, giving me clarity. And this afternoon, as literal sunlight from the blue skies outside started to stream through my window, past the bright cheery daffodils in my peripheral vision, I felt an urge to write. Hurrah! So here I am – actually writing (or blogging at least). Not only that, but I have momentum now: once I’ve hit ‘publish’ here, I’m heading over to the magazine article waiting to be written. Oh happy day!

blog tour updated

Mon 23rd Jan – Alex Banwell
click HERE to read Alex’s review

Tues 24th Jan – Maressa Mortimer
click HERE to read Maressa’s review

Weds 25th Jan – Liz Carter
click HERE to read my guest post on Liz’s blog

Thurs 26th Jan – Susan Sanderson
click HERE to read Susan’s review and author interview

Fri 27th Jan – Claire Musters
click HERE to read my guest post on Claire’s blog

Sat 28th Jan – Ruth Leigh
click HERE to read Ruth’s post and author interview

Sun 29th Jan – Natasha Woodcraft
click HERE to read Natasha’s review

It is no secret that I dislike marketing and struggle with anything that looks like self-promotion. So when I learned about blog tours last year before my book was even published, I made a mental note of the possibility. Blog tours seemed a nice, gentle way of letting other people promote my book – nothing too difficult or scary there, surely…

I was wrong. Once I committed to undertaking a blog tour I realised it was going to require me to approach published authors who I really respect and ask them if they would be willing to review my book! How pushy! How cringeworthy! The push to actually get published took all of my attention, and then I tried to conveniently forget about any marketing – to move on to writing another book. But when I prayed about what to write next, I felt God’s clear leading to do a bit more work with Friend of God first – to give it a bit more of a helping hand to get to the people He intended it for.

So I put on my ‘big-girl pants’, took a deep breath, and approached some people. Now the thing is, these are all lovely people, most of whom have already encouraged and helped me with my book, so I had no reason to fear a hostile response from them – but still I dreaded asking: making myself vulnerable and imposing on their good nature all at once. Of course, once I got over the fear and actually asked, the responses were universally positive. A couple of people were too busy but offered to do some one-off reviews later in the Spring. Everyone else was happy – sometimes thrilled – to be asked, and gladly agreed. Some wanted to interview me via email; some wanted guest blog posts from me; there is even a Podcast in the offing that may come later. But all contributors are positively (and honestly) helping my book on its way. I feel truly humbled by their kindness.

the dreaded realm of marketing

Marketing is a word that sends chills through the hearts of most writers.  In the ‘good old days’, a writer would get a contract with a publisher, send them their work, and breathe a sigh of relief as the publishers did their job to get the work out among the general public.  Or that’s how it seems at least.  Whereas today, even with a major publisher, authors are expected to do their part in building a ‘platform’ of social media following, craft-fair bookings, and speaking circuits. Even Prince Harry (there aren’t many bigger names!) who released his memoir this week, has had to embark on a punishing promotional schedule of interviews and teasers that for a famously spotlight-hating personality must feel like torture. Yes, every author nowadays – not just the self-published – is required to put in graft to sell their own books.!

But so many writers are introverts: people who are happy holed up in isolation where they can let their creative juices flow without interruption.  To leave the nurturing den of creativity and be thrust into the cold hard world of sales-generation, readership-levels and financial solvency can be a brutal awakening that causes many to turn their backs on long-cherished dreams. And for me, having finally obeyed what I felt God was leading me to in publishing my book, I have now awoken in that world.  Experienced authors tell me I am going to have to learn how to market.  I need to pull on my big-girl-pants, get over my cringing fear of anything resembling self-promotion, and start actively selling my book. Shudder.

Deep down I do believe that my God-centred book is not limited to worldly systems like platform-building and marketing.  I absolutely believe that God could make it a best-seller without me having to do a single promotional act, if He wanted to.  Indeed, I have at least one writer friend who feels called to shun worldly marketing advice and to simply trust God for whatever He wants to do with their book.  And if I’m honest, I’d love Him to say that to me.  Because I don’t care about sales.  I didn’t write it for the money – I wrote it for Him. 

But this week when I asked God what to write next (because I believe He told me I have more books inside me), I felt He asked me not to abandon my first book yet – that He wanted me to put some more work into getting it to those He intended it for. And that’s where I discover that it’s not modesty that holds me back, or even the deeply ingrained and painfully British habit of self-deprecation. It’s not a holy denial of self, trusting God to miraculously promote me. It’s fear and shame. My self-protecting inclination is to stay hidden, where I am safe from the opinions and actions of others. In asking me to step onto the path of marketing, God has exposed things that He wants to set me free from. It’s scary, but I want it too. *Takes deep breath*

Some people will misunderstand and judge – some already have – and accuse me of pursuing fame or material gain.  And some will reject me, and my book as a result. But that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that God asked me to write a book because He has people in mind who He wants to read it.  And as part of getting it to them, He has asked me to deny the part of myself that wants to hide – to overcome my fears, be bold, and do what I can to make it more visible. The God Who tells us not to hide our light under a bushel but to stand out like a city on a hill, is the God Who keeps nudging me out of my safe comfort zone. 

So here I am, about to enter the dreaded realm of marketing, thankful that He walks with me and will show me the way ahead, and thankful for those authors who have gone before and who freely share the wisdom won by experience. The path to freedom is often found by pressing through fear, so here I come…

the christmas pause


It’s such a big word, isn’t it? For children it can be loaded with magical associations of twinkling lights, joyful songs, longed-for presents and delicious food – all enjoyed in the company of loving family. For the bereaved, the word often heightens the keenness of our loss as a poignant reminder of what we are missing. But for many adults, I suspect the most obvious association with the word ‘Christmas’ here in the Western world, is stress, busyness, frantic pressure.

Make the cake, order the turkey, write the cards, make the kids nativity-play costumes, post the cards, buy the presents (try not to think about the cost), plan the grocery shopping (in time to get a good delivery slot), put the tree up, buy outfit for work party, tip the postman, attend the end of term concerts, hark-how-the-bells, tip the bin-men, wrap the presents, realise we haven’t got a gift yet for Uncle Bert, tip the milkman, dashing-through-the-snow, attend work party, have we ordered enough sprouts, fa-la-la-la-la.

Stop. (I know, there’s lots I missed off that list – but you get the point).

I imagine those dwelling in Bethlehem approximately 2,000 years ago were equally as frantic. With the recent census forcing people across the nation to travel to the cities of their ancestral homes, the place was full of travellers all desperate for a place to stay. Innkeepers and their wives, food vendors, tax-collectors, temple-workers, census officials and more – Christmas might not exist for them yet, but they were all overrun with the pressure of extra work on top of the stresses of every day life. Busy busy busy, everywhere you looked. But in one little stable, there was no busy. All was still. For amidst all the chaos going on outside, a baby had been born. And for those who were there to witness it, time must have stopped with the marvel of it all! For that first Christmas moment the baby’s parents, the visiting shepherds, and probably a few animals were the only ones privy to witness the incredible moment. How they must have been caught in wonder, awe, and worship, just gazing on the precious face of the One Who had come to live with us, to change all of our lives for ever. No busy busy, no dashing through the snow, no trees, plays, turkeys or cards. Just a baby in a stable, under a brightly shining star. Nothing more or less than God Himself, no longer far away in a distant Heaven, but here, with us. That’s all. How to take it in? And how much those outside missed in their busy-ness!

I pray for all of us this year that amidst the frantic rushing about of this season, we would all make time to stop and enter the holy place of that first Christmas moment. To pause, and sit or kneel – like the occupants of the stable all those years ago – with everyone else going about their busy lives outside oblivious to what God has done – and gaze upon the wonder of the One Who came to live with us and save us for ever. To hear an echo of the angels singing, “Peace on earth” and take in the miracle of God’s presence with us. Let all the chaos fade away, and come, let us simply adore Him in the precious gift of the Christmas Pause.

the miracles that don’t happen

The subtitle of my book reads “the miraculous life of an ordinary person”. The blurb on the back refers to miracles too. And yes, inside my book I do share stories of many miracles that I have experienced: some might seem small and almost insignificant, while others are unmistakeable and life-changing. One thing I have learned from being friends with God is that if you hang around with Him long enough, you will most likely get to experience miracles.

But what about the times when you don’t? What about all those people who pray faithfully asking God for a miracle, and who don’t get it?

Of all the questions and concerns I had about writing my book, this was the one that almost stopped me going ahead. More than one person expressed concern that my story might alienate people who didn’t get the miracle they wanted; that it might make them feel like somehow second-class Christians, unloved and inferior – and that is absolutely not the truth.
Among those closest to me there are those who I know God dearly loves, but who didn’t get the miracle their heart so deeply desired. And as you’ll read in the book, there have also been times when I didn’t get the miracle I was fervently praying for either. I am painfully familiar with the heartbreak involved. So I wanted to write this post for all those who didn’t get the miracle they longed for – because my heart is with you.

It’s not that I have a nice tidy answer – I don’t. There are two obvious paths we are usually tempted to take out of heartbreak: either blame God as if He was some kind of cruel deity playing with our lives, or blame ourselves for not having enough faith, not praying enough, not being good enough. But ultimately neither approach helps – they both lead inevitably to us going round in circles, re-living the pain and getting no relief. The only path that actually leads to healing is to seek Him in the pain and confusion, and allow Him to draw near and comfort us even when there are no easy answers. And that’s not easy or tidy – but when we know He is with us, He gives us the strength to keep going.

I remember one miracle in particular that I didn’t get, I prayed over and over for God to show me what to do, what to pray, to please lead me to whatever it was I needed for the breakthrough (as if the answer somehow depended on me) but He never did. It wasn’t because He didn’t love me, or because I couldn’t hear Him. Honestly, I still don’t know why. Sometimes we just don’t get the answers this side of eternity. But what He did show me is this: He loves us. Not in a bland, detached, nicey-nicey-platitude way, but in a get-down-in-the-dirt-and-rip-His-own-heart-open-to-grieve-with-us kind of way.
Because that’s the message of the Cross: He’s not the kind of God to leave us alone to suffer. He knows life on earth is a painful one, and in fact Jesus expressly told us that in this life we would have trouble (John 16:33). Nobody gets out of life without pain. But that’s why He came: to live with us; be tempted like us; and die for us so that we will never have to be alone. And ultimately (the very best news) to take us home with Him where there is no more suffering.

And that’s why I went ahead with writing my book, despite the risk that it might trigger some people’s pain. Because ultimately the ‘miraculous life’ is merely the subtitle – it’s not the main message. The real title, and the thing that I hope readers see that my book – and indeed life itself – is all about, is friendship with God. Sometimes we get to see miracles; sometimes we don’t get the ones we want. But either way, God wants to walk with us through it – through the highs and lows and every-day mundane. And thanks to Jesus, we can do that. We are never alone.

So keep praying, keep seeking those miracles – He loves to bless us. But if you don’t get the one you are hoping for, don’t let it keep you away from Him. Whether or not we see the miracles we hope for, we can have something better: the biggest miracle of all, His friendship with us.

doing it all wrong

Ever feel like your attempt to do something good has become a series of mistakes? That’s me right now with my book…

  • I’ve written something that I hope anyone can read, rather than focusing on a single target audience as writers are advised to do.
  • I’m self-publishing on my own, rather than going with a publisher who can put their weight behind getting it out to the world.
  • I’ve written in a genre – memoir – which I am told is not in vogue right now.
  • And I’m publishing it in December, said to be too late for most of the Christmas gift-shopping season.

All things considered, it looks pretty foolish. And when professional writers, publishers, and those in the know remind you of the ‘right’ or ‘best’ way to do things it can be a bit disheartening, even if they are only trying to help.

But as I recently pondered the folly of my endeavours, I was reminded of the verse in 1 Corinthians 1:27, that says “God has deliberately chosen to use ideas the world considers foolish and of little worth in order to shame those people considered by the world as wise and great” (the Living Bible). It encouraged me that God likes to use silly things and ordinary people – that sometimes being successful in the world’s eyes is not the same as doing what pleases Him.
Yes I could take the world’s route and try to write a book that would be accepted in mainstream circles, all polished, perfected and professional – or I can embrace the ‘foolish’ route, and simply publish what God has put in my heart, written to the best of my ability, and then trust Him with the rest. I choose the latter.

After all, doing it ‘the wrong way’ can be like the surprise view that I saw out of my kitchen window this morning. On this very grey and damp mid-November day, I saw a beautiful yellow rose in my garden, bravely and cheerfully blooming completely out of season (I know there are some varieties that can bloom this late, but I am sure this one is meant to be a summer rose). And it made me think, maybe God’s plan for my book-done-the-wrong-way is for it to be like a rose blooming in the ‘wrong’ season – bringing unexpected cheer to people on miserable days. I’ll take that!

cover reveal

It’s funny, isn’t it? We all know the old dictum “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but if we all really lived by that rule, writers and book designers wouldn’t spend anywhere near the time they do agonising over every shade of colour, every size of image and every style of font that they use.

And I have to confess that I, like most readers, totally do judge books by their covers – at least when we are talking about literal books. So although I had no idea what I wanted for my book cover, I knew it was important to get it right. That’s why I was so thrilled to connect with Liz Carter of ‘Great Adventure’ – I love her work. And after giving her the vaguest of briefs, the very first image she sent me blew me away! I love the way it shows a little girl gazing up into the vast beautiful mystery that represents my friendship with God. For me, it’s a perfect cover.

Of course, in every other sense, my entire book hinges on NOT judging a metaphorical book by its cover. I mean, take the subtitle: “the miraculous life of an ordinary person”. It is not false modesty to say that in myself I am very ordinary. My husband and my mum might disagree, but they are duty bound to be biased, and I love them for it. No, someone might walk past me in the park, smile and say “Hi”, and think ‘strange boots’, or ‘nice coat’, or even, ‘wow, dogs really do look like their owners’, but I’m pretty sure nobody would think ‘oooh I bet she’s got some miracle stories to share’.

Because that’s the point, isn’t it? The Bible tells us that God hides His most precious treasure “in unworthy earthen vessels of human frailty” (2 Cor 4:7 – Amplified version). – or as the Message puts it, “in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.” There’s that word again: ordinary. Every one of us ordinary folk has treasure inside, especially if we walk with God. And that verse has given me great comfort as I have been writing this book, feeling utterly inadequate and overwhelmed by the task I was attempting.

So I have taken the pressure off myself to write an extraordinary book, and simply contented myself with cracking open the clay pot of my life and inviting you, the reader, to have a peek inside, in the hope that you will find treasure there. And thankfully, although my life may be ordinary, I do now have a fabulous cover!


Can I confess, I don’t actually like endorsements? The prickly, principled part of me absolutely cringes at the concept of asking people (the ‘bigger’ the name, the better) to write nice things about your work that will persuade other people to spend their money on paying for it. It all seems so cynical and worldly. But those more experienced than I have persuaded me that it is a good and healthy way to help my book reach more people, and if I believe in my message that has to be a good thing! I’m still uneasy about it, but the whole publishing process – since the fun of writing the first draft ended – has been about leaving the comfort zone where I usually hide. So with a deadline approaching I approached two friends who are consistently encouraging to me, and who have written their own books. I figured asking them for endorsements was the least cynical (though still cringe-inducing) approach.

And when my friend Anne’s endorsement hit my inbox yesterday, it was a totally beautiful boost. At times I have kept slogging on with multiple edits and other practical and peripheral elements involved with publishing, simply because to give up now would feel even worse. I’ve invested too much – I’m committed to seeing it through to the end. But yesterday her beautiful words reminded me that my book has a life and a future beyond the ‘finish line’ of publication. And it’s that future that matters – it’s about the readers who will read it for the first time like Anne did, and be impacted and encouraged by it… who may even meet God in it. And that truly makes it all worth while!

So I choose to ignore the cringing fear of self-promotion, and am sharing it here: my first ever official endorsement, for all to see! Come on, little book – I’m cheering you on!