Tag Archives: journal prompts

My favourite household chore – 31 days of writing prompts!

Ok, I’ll be honest here, there is no household chore that I like. I dislike all of them equally!

However, there is a task that when I eventually get around to doing it, makes me feel that I’ve accomplished something, and that’s hoovering the stairs.

I’ve got a lot of tile and laminate floors in my house, with only the stairs and one of the bedrooms having carpet so I don’t need to have the hoover out that often. However, I do have a very hairy cat that seems to think that shedding is an Olympic sport and a dark blue carpet that seems show every piece of fluff that lands on it.

Hoovering the stairs is a faff, especially because I have  Henry Hoover. He’s very powerful and gets rid of Alfred the Great’s stray hairs, but the round body makes it a bugger to get up and down the stairs! There’s a lot of balancing and swearing, and it’s so loud that I can’t listen to music or a podcast while I’m doing the job. It only takes about ten minutes, realistically, but I dread it as if it takes an hour.

Yet, when I’ve finally done it, I can’t help but admire the lint-free, hairless blue carpet. I think it makes the house look a lot tidier when the stairs are hoovered. It gives me a real sense of achievement.

I just wish that it wasn’t me that had to do it!




Charitable – 31 days of writing prompts!

You’ve inherited £5 million, with instructions that you must give it all away — but you can choose any organizations you like to be the beneficiaries. Where does the money go?

Right now, I would have to give it all to help Syrian refugees. I can’t look at pictures of Aleppo and the terrified people there without feeling heartbroken for them, and slightly guilty that I’m living in such safety and comfort when they’re being killed by their own government.

I would have to research which charities would be the best to donate to, but I would have no problem giving them everything in one big chunk.

However, if the Syrian situation wasn’t as dire as it is, I would be tempted to give the money to individual people that need relatively small amounts of money to make their lives better; I’d sponsor medical care for those that need to fly to other countries, I’d pay to renovate people’s houses so that they can live in their homes with their families rather than have to move if they suddenly become immobile, or I’d pay for people to get specialist medical equipment that is just too expensive for them to normally get – realistic prosthetic limbs, or better electric wheelchairs. Usually these people need a few thousand pounds rather than hundreds of thousands, which means I could help so many people in a way that would make a real difference to their lives.

I’d haunt Go Fund Me pages and their equivalent to find small organisations that are trying to do something good, and fund them in full. I like to think about the look on the face of the organiser when they get the email to say that their target has been met. I would like to be able to help local people who need money for things like gravestones for loved ones that they can’t afford to buy themselves. I’d give money to food banks and toy collections that give presents to needy kids at Christmas. I would really like to support charities for homeless people in Cardiff.

I’d have to do it anonymously, though. I wouldn’t be comfortable with people being grateful to me.


Tell us about a sensation — a taste, a smell, a piece of music — that transports you back to childhood.

This is such an odd thing to realise, because it’s not like I can’t get citrus fruit year-round, but I always associate the smell of tangerines and clementines with Christmas.

When I was younger, there would be loads of these around at Christmas time. My brother doesn’t particularly care for fruit, so I would share them with my mother as we watched tv together. The slight spray as your fingernail breaks the skin coats your fingers, and if you’re careful, you can strip the entire fruit in one long strip of waxy, orange peel.

The taste is sweet and sharp at the same time, and they’re just so moreish – once you start eating them, you just can’t stop! Even though I can buy these all through the year, I always associate them with Christmas, even if I’m eating them in July. I can still picture the ceramic fruit bowl that would sit on the coffee table piled high with these little beauties, next to a bowl with nuts in their shells and a packet of sticky dates.

Now I buy these by the case in December, as I go through them like wildfire!


Odd couple – 31 days of writing prompts

Does a messy home (or office) make you anxious and cranky, or is cleaning something you just do before company comes over?

I love it when my office is clean and streamlined- it makes me feel strangely professional and organised. As soon as I start to write, however, it looks like a bombsite!

I have piles of research notes at the side of me which somehow immediately become out of order, not helped by the fact that I knock them onto the floor almost immediately. If I don’t do that, Alfred the Great will helpfully take over that role.

My paragraph plans take up a lot of space, especially if I’ve been experimenting with their format and they’ve stretched across several A3 pages of paper that I’ve inexpertly sellotaped together.

I collect numerous plates, glasses and mugs around me as I don’t seem to be able to write without shovelling something into my face. I have a collection of Funko Pop dolls on my desk, which get moved around and re-positioned as I need them to hold Post-It notes that I scribble to myself. Hermione Granger has a nasty habit of falling forwards, so I have to have a wodge of white tack under her feet to keep her upright that gets spread across the desk.

I usually have a London A-Z propped open somewhere so that I can check on the name of streets, as well as a few books on nineteenth century male clothing. I have a Yankee Candle burning, usually, as the smell helps me write, somehow.

Oh, and at regular intervals, Alfred the Great leaps up onto the desk and positions himself between myself and the laptop, demanding a scratch. Alfred is a very hairy cat, so when I do give him a good scratch, many loose hairs are pulled from his coat and are deposited over me, the desk, the floor – everywhere.

I work in a terrible state, but there is something wonderfully cleansing about packing everything up at the end of a writing session, or even better, at the end of a book! Everything gets dusted and hoovered and filed away in special folders, the Funkos get put back in position and Alfred is banished from the room.

Ready for the next writing session!



Competition – 31 days of writing prompts!

What activity, task, or game most brings out your competitive streak?

Never challenge me to a board game. Or chess. Or cards. Or a trivia quiz. Or I Spy.

There’s just something about them that turns me into a raging maniac that MUST WIN AT ALL COSTS. I’m a horrible loser and even worse winner. Because I’m now a grown up, I can usually mask these terrible character flaws and pretend to be a functioning member of society, but Christmas is coming and I know that Boxing Day will bring about a no holds barred Harry Potter Special Edition Trivial Pursuit session with my brother that will only end in tears.

His tears.

For I will be the winner!


Comfort zone – 31 days of writing prompts!

What are you more comfortable with — routine and planning, or laissez-faire spontaneity?

Oh my word, my absolute nightmare would be a friend arriving on my doorstep one day and saying, “Want to go on an adventure?”

Although, yes, an adventure sounds fun, I’d need to know what kind of adventure we’re dealing with here. What sort of shoes do I need to wear? Shall I bring a coat? Does this adventure involve food in any way, because otherwise I’ll need to pack some sandwiches and a bag of crisps. Adventuring can be hungry work – just ask any Hobbit.

What time does the adventure start, and when do you anticipate it ending? I’m only asking because I have to feed the cat, or he gets a bit pointed as to where he chooses to sharpen his claws. Are we driving to the adventure? If so, who is doing the driving? I need to pre-plan my routes in advance, and, if possible, do a dry-run on finding the destination so I don’t get panicked when driving. Is there enough petrol in the car? Do I need to check the oil and water before starting out, or is the adventure local?

And so on, and so forth…

This applies to my writing style as well. I look in horror at Facebook posts by other authors who casually mention that they’ve got no idea about what’s going to happen in their stories and that they’re letting their characters determine the plot.

I peer out from behind my stack of research books, my hand-drawn family trees and my copious reams of chapter plans and boggle at those who don’t seem to worry that THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN STORY. Yes, that’s right: they’re actively creating a world full of people and places and (in my particular fictional niche) inventive reasons why a person needs a spanking, and yet they don’t feel the need to think about what will occur in the end!

That just blows my mind – I have no idea how they can work like that! Obviously it’s not a problem for them, they’re all well respected writers in the genre, but…winging it?

Shudder. Not for me!



Bedtime stories – 31 days of writing prompts!

What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?



Now, to be completely honest,  I can’t actually remember this book myself. This was, apparently, my favourite story when I was about three and my parents hated it. It was one of those stories that was all repetition: the farmer has grown an enormous turnip, but it’s so big that he can’t pull it up out of the ground. So, the farmer’s wife joins him, and they both pull, but they can’t budge it, so the farmer’s son joins them, and they pull, but they can’t move it, so the farmer’s daughter joins them….and so on down the line until I think a mouse helps them, maybe? Lots of farmyard animals get involved, anyway, until the damned turnip is uprooted. The cover, perhaps, gives away the most exciting moment in the story!

I would ask for this story all the time.I had that obsessive desire for it that little children seem to have for things – no other story would do.  Despite the fact that I had a wide variety of Ladybird fairy tale books, this is the one I would hone in on, and as my parents were determined to foster a love of stories and books in me, they would give in and read it to me. However, my fervor for the story of the enormous root vegetable got so annoying for my poor parents that my father, no doubt in a moment of inspiration, asked me if I would like to learn to read the book myself, so I wouldn’t have to wait for him or my mother to read it to me.

Now, I’m not claiming that I was a child prodigy or anything, but because of that I was reading a lot earlier than other kids in my class, to the point that when I was five and joined infant school, they had to give me reading books for pupils several years older than me. That started me on a path that ended up in an English Literature degree. I read really widely as a child, and pretty much burned my way through the children’s section of our local library, which thinking about it now, was pretty limited. That’s why I read so many old fashioned books, I think – all the Travers Mary Poppins books, all the Oz books, the Swallows and Amazons series. I read the Just William books, the Biggles books, and the What Katy Did books because that was what the library had. There weren’t any young adult books then, as such.

My father got me an adult readers ticket from a clearly disapproving librarian, who tried to warn him that adult books might contain adult content. I still remember how my father’s eyes rolled at the warning, and how he told me, very simply, that if something in a book upset me, I should just shut the book and read something else.

That, I feel, is advice for life. If you don’t like something, fine, not a problem. Close the book, hit the back button, turn off the tv. You don’t have to clutch your pearls and start a crusade against it. The people that froth at the mouth about Harry Potter books, for example – you don’t like them? Fine! Don’t read them. Problem solved. Don’t try and get them banned from schools and libraries just because these made up stories seem to conflict with the made up stories that you think are important!

So, that’s how I met P G Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, George Orwell and so many other amazing writers. My love affair with Terry Pratchett started because of the adult library ticket. One of the funniest writers I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, Joe Keenan, was found in that library. I read historical non fiction and developed an interest in life centuries ago because those books were in the adult section.

I got an adult ticket because I’d mainlined the children’s section at a young age; I was an advanced reader because I had started young, before school started. I had started reading early because I was in love with a particular story that drove my parents crazy. Their desire to never read that damned turnip book again was what prompted them to try and get me reading much earlier than you would usually expect a child to read.

So all my love of the written word, including my higher education, my day job and my new career as an author, comes back to a fairy tale about an enormous turnip. Thank goodness they bought me that one, and not a different one. Who knows what would have happened?

Places – 31 days of writing prompts!

Beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?

Beach, beach, beach!

The thing about mountains is, they’re high up. Not the worst thing in the world if you’re travelling there by car, or train, or even by cable car if you’ve got a head for heights, but if I had to walk a great deal then mountains are out. I live in a hilly enough place as it is, I don’t want to add more of a gradient to my life!

Forests sound lovely, and indeed, they are. Plants and trees are very important for the planet and we should do everything to protect them. The thing is, I’m highly allergic to the bloody things and if I had to live in a forest I’d spend most of the day crashing into tree trunks because my eyes would have puffed up to extreme levels.

I’ve always lived near the coast, so I naturally gravitate towards beaches. I prefer beaches in autumn and winter, though – mainly because I know the annoyance of trying to find a space on a local beach when the tourists come in the summer! In my mind, when I think of my dream house, it’s always on a beach somewhere. The sound of waves on sand is automatically soothing, and the noisy squawk of seagulls just reminds me of home. I love the smell of seaweed, even though that actually means it’s started to rot. Once I lived in a flat that was on the seafront, and the best part of my day was the walk from my front door to where a colleague would pick me up for work. The sun would be glinting off the water, if it was a calm day, and the waves would be lapping at the rocks on the beach. It was just a lovely way to start the day, walking the length of the seafront and listening to all the noises of the sea.

So beach, definitely!


All about you – 31 days of writing prompts!

Explain why you chose your blog’s title and what it means to you.

My blog’s title is “passionate about the past”, which is my attempt at a clever pun! Well, a pun, anyway.

As I’m an erotic romance writer, getting some kind of reference to passion in there somewhere seemed important. As I’m exclusively a writer of historical novels, the word past refers to that, so “passionate about the past” implies the historical nature of my naughty novels!

It’s a pun because I’m also half a historian – my degree was half history, half English Literature – and I love reading and learning about the past. My favourite time period is pre and post Norman Conquest and the early medieval, but I’m quite willing to watch and read just about anything to do with the past. My only caveat is that I’m really not that interested in twentieth century history, having studied that to death for GCSE and A-Level. The further back in time I can go, the better!



Apply yourself – 31 days of writing prompts!

Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.

If anybody had told me just how much maths was needed in knitting, I never would have started it!

I’m not an artistic person. My stick people look pregnant! I don’t have the patience or the manual dexterity to draw or paint, but I’ve always wanted to do something creative. So, one year,  I decided to learn how to knit. There was one of those part work magazines out that gave you a ball of wool, needles and an instructional DVD to start you off and then if you bought each week’s magazine you’d build up patches for a quilt.

Well, I never made the quilt. But I did learn to knit and purl, and I did create several scarves and hats. I even made a pair of red and white striped knee length socks, and I managed to turn the heel myself! I’ve made baby hats and bootees too, which are my favourite things to make because they’re small and easy to finish.

I’m not very good, not when you compare my things to either of my grandmothers who have been knitting for decades, but I’m proud of the fact that I did something that I find difficult, and that has so much bloody counting in it!