Book Review – Colm Toibin – Brooklyn


brooklyn - colm toibin

I saw the film Brooklyn a little while ago. Although not being genuinely Irish, only sort of ‘adopted country’ Irish, I laughed my head off. Now, I don’t think that was the intention of the film, to be funny, but all the little asides, the comments about clothes, behaviour, morals and the rest, well I knew it and I understood it, and it made me laugh. One of the characters, Mrs Kehoe commands all the young ladies to stop their ‘giddiness’ when they are seated around her table. I can see it now, we still use it in our house.

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Book Review Of The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

the tea planters wifeWant I want when I read now is to be transported somewhere else. To be so engrossed in a story that I want to devour it in one sitting, for it to fill my life, and make an emotional connection with my soul.

The Tea planter’s Wife did just that.

Dinah Jefferies has subtly woven an intricate world from the 1930’s, of tea plantations, of Ceylon and the Far East in a way that I could fully understand, yet it was the emotional impact of the story that caught me.

The costs and sacrifices that each of the two main characters make are so high that it is extraordinary that they can still survive, and not just that, but that the deep romance that is intertwined through the book survives intact too.

This is a story with a mystery, with dramas, and intrigue, but overall it is a story about love and loss.

Whatever else you do, make sure you read it.

NOURISH – my aims for 2016

Nourish word artJanuary is one whole week older and I am a whole lot closer to fulfilling my goals for 2016.

I’m not saying that these goals are point specific, but they are aims, a new way of living and of being fulfilled.

My word for the year, everyone needs a word to focus on from time to time, is NOURISH.

This year I am going to take the time to nourish myself, and my family and friends.

I have been unbelievably busy for the last 0h, 20 years, being a mother to three kids, they are mostly grown now, but still need mothering. In the past I have been working in 2 jobs and that left very little time for myself.

So this year I am going to nourish myself.

Firstly with food. I am going to try and eat better, wholesome, more natural foods and nourish myself inside and out. I have cut down on sugar, coffee, saturated fats and quick pick me ups, that picked me up for all of about half an hour, then left me slumped in the corner, tired and irritable after that.

I am following lots of food bloggers who use veggies and fruit, they are mainly vegetarian, if not vegan, and they have great recipes to try out.

So out goes chocolate, buns, cake and fast foods. In comes overnight oats, with chia seeds and almond butter.

Nuts, seeds, beans, grains, etc are what I’ll be using if I can.

Secondly, I want to nourish my creative side.

I have plenty of writing commitments to keep me going, and I am also going to sign up for crochet lessons.

Seriously, I have always  wanted to crochet. I’m not entirely sure why, but there it is.

And thirdly I am signing up for ballet lessons and I can’t wait!

My fitness is atrocious, it has declined dramatically over the years, particularly in the last 5 years. I am also reaching that dreaded menopause stage, and I know I need to do something positive about my fitness.

So ballet lessons it is, starting this week. It’s something fun that I used to do, it will improve my fitness, yet also work on my shocking stiffness and lack of flexibility.

So that’s me for the year.

Nourishing my body, my creative side and my wellbeing.

How about you?



3 more writing competitions to enter in 2016



Ah now, so how’s the new year of writing treating you?

Did you buy a new notebook maybe?

Fancy new pens?

A new writing magazine and sat down over a nice cake and coffee to take it all in and stick pretty little post-it notes all over it?

Did you?

Truthfully now, have you actually, really, sat down and written anything?


Well here’s a few more competitions that might spur you and me on. And don’t worry, this time the deadlines are not in February, really they’re not. They’re like so far away you could easily sit down and eat a plate load of cakes before you even have to think about it.

But what about writing a short story while you’re at it?

  1. – deadline 14th march short story 2,000 words
  2. – deadline 1st April 1,000 – 2,000 words
  3. – deadline 31st May – this includes flashfiction of 250 words. Short story 5,000 words and debut novel.


Go on now. write something.



10 Reasons to be on Instagram for the old(er) writer

I was going to call this post: 10 reasons to be on Instagram for the older/not young and trendy writer. Then I was going to strike out the word older using that particular key that lets you do it. But I can’t find it! That’s what being old(er) does to you.

So reasons to be on Instagram.

  1. Shhh, listen carefully – the young ones now tell me that only oldies are still on facebook. Sorry, I know, shocking etc. But it’s true. If you are hoping to engage with younger readers, you’ve got to be where they are. Which isn’t on FB. Plus FB is messing about something chronic and most of your followers on FB don’t even see your stuff.
  2. Basically, I’m nosey. You, as a writer, are probably also nosey, so in that case, Instagram is a great place to be. Plus you don’t have to write a lot, just add in a few #hashtags.  You get to see what people had for their lunch, tea, that scone or cake in the coffee shop. You can see what their lounge looks like, their cat, dog, small child etc. It takes up less time than blogging. What’s not to like?
  3. It’s very important that you too visit lots of coffee shops and go out to lunch. And take photos. Basically as a writer that’s a win-win situation!
  4. You need to go shopping and buy lots of pretty stuff in order to take photos of it and put up a post. So you can tell your ‘other half’ with complete honesty that you HAVE to go shopping. It’s for work.
  5. You might have to upgrade your phone. If you are still running around with a tiny little phone with your phone number taped to the back ‘in case you forget your own number’, then you definitely need to up your game! You need an all singing, all dancing phone that takes great photos, connects to the internet, sets your lights to come on, the tv, the heating etc. Does it feed the dog and make dinner? Probably not.
  6. You have to buy lots of books and take photos of them. Well that’s not hard. You were buying lots of books anyway, and I’m sure you have a whole bookcase or three you could empty and take photos of.
  7. You get to find and follow your favourite author, or perhaps teenage daughter or son, or nephew or grandchild etc. Like I said, we’re a nosey bunch so that’s great.
  8. You can like someone else’s photo by hitting the ‘heart’ button. Easy. And if you really want, you can leave a random comment on a photo you like. So that saves you having a random conversation with the complete stranger at the till in Tesco/Boots/Waitrose/the doctor’s surgery etc.
  9. Leaving comments annoys the teenagers. They roll their eyes at you and make comments like ‘only old people leave comments’. So make a point on doing just that against all of their photos, they’ll love you for it.
  10. You might just connect with lots of other like minded readers and writers by searching for #hashtags like #romancewriter #bookstagram #amwriting #amediting #kindlebooks #instaromance #writingdesk #indieauthor . Use to search for different #hastags to follow and use some of them yourself when you post a photo.

Enjoy. Find me on instagram at Susannah_branson

3 Writing Competitions to enter

Since it is the New Year, and I feel I should start this year with enthusiasm and vigour regards my writing, ( well, I should, shouldn’t I?), I mean to enter some writing competitions.

Now, if I state that I mean to enter some competitions, that means I am going to have to write some short stories too, doesn’t it?

And there lies my problem. You see, I’m not so good at short stories.

I get the feeling that these competitions are just for ‘literary type’ writers. And that just isn’t me.

I’m just a plain kind of writer.

I can’t write full flowing, flowery descriptions and use metaphors and similies. heck, I can’t even remember what they are or probably even spell them correctly. It just isn’t for me.

I am just a plain speaking, sort of girl. I like dialogue and plot. I like to keep it moving. I like interesting characters, to whom interesting things happen.

So, I am not sure I even stand a chance.

On the other hand, I know, 100% for certain, that I stand absolutely zilch chance, diddly squat, negative numbers  sort of chance, if I don’t start writing creatively and see where it takes me. plus of course, if I never send it off

Plus of course, if I never send it off,  I will waste another year.

Another year of feeling too unsure. Not up to it. Not good enough. Not brave enough. Not a proper ‘writer’.

And I’m sick of it.

If I look back at last year I said the same thing, just different reasons, see here. I entered nothing.

So I’m going to shut my eyes and just do it.

Join me.


  1. deadline 20th feb 2016  100 word flashfiction
  2.  – deadline 5th feb 2016 short story comp. 1,000 – 3,000 words
  3. – deadline 29th feb, 2016. Short story competition, 2,000 – 3,000 words.


If that wasn’t enough for you, there are tons more on this site.