Friday with Friends: Using An Image to Create A Poem – Frank Prem

Using An Image to Create A Poem

I’ve been thinking a lot, recently, about how to convey the art of giving life to an image through words.

I am a storyteller and my medium is free-verse poetry. In recent times, I have been doing a lot of writing that is in partnership with an image. My intention is to have the image – the voice of the image – driving the poem. I should probably provide an example of what I’m on about. I recently took a photo of two birds on the wing. It was a bad day in the world – rotten things happening, a storm was imminent, and two birds were flying. Here they are:

I try to make it my business to write every day and this image – on that day – spoke to me. Here is the poem:

go (my love) let’s go

my love
let’s fly away

across the face
of the creeping

you and I
the sky

and rain


I hear the thunder

over everything . . .

before it

but we –
you and I –
can fly

than any storm
can roll

my love . . .

my love
let’s go


Nothing special, but picking up on:

· The mood of the day.
· General despondency arising from local and world news etc.
· Covid misery.
· An approaching storm.
· Two birds (Sacred Ibis) flying before the storm.
· One bird leading the other.

The poem attempts to capture all of those things in the voice of the leading bird. Or so I assume from my own reading of the poem.

I find that most pictures really do tell a story. I’ll show another. In this case I had encountered a native orchid (the common bird orchid) on a ramble up onto a local mountain. Native orchids are a treat to find at any time, but this one in particular had a highly suggestive peculiarity – apparently common to all flowers in the species. I bet you see it immediately.

Here is the image:

I wanted to use this image for my next poem, and it could have gone a couple of different ways. I’m thinking of frogs, oysters, and teenage rebellion in the range of choices. Why?

· Frog – that yawning gape looks like it might have a tongue ready to unfurl, legs set to leap.
· Oyster, because that may just be a pearl.
· Rebellious teenager because . . . just because really.

Here is the poem:

the pretty (llurp)


wot you lookin’


jus coz
a flower . . .


don’t mean
I can’t have . . .



llurp llurp



’m jus . . .



m’ stud

leave me . . .


why dontcha


Clearly, I find images suggestive and, in writing, it is my wish to convey something of what I’ve seen, or heard, to a reader. To make my perception available to a random someone else.

So what goes in to an image interpretation. I’ll choose a fresh picture that I haven’t yet written about and explore a few possible part-answers.

Here is the image:

First question -not what is it, but what does it look like.

· Insect eggs
· Pupae
· Bugs, flies, wasps.

My sense is of living creatures in a state of suspension of some sort.

· If the primary object could speak, what would it sound like?
· Does it speak? What might it want to say to you (observer, writer, reader)

What will the next thing to happen be (if we had a subsequent image)?

· Emergence from the cocoon/egg.
· One at a time
· Many

And then?

· Swarm
· Squadron

After that . . .

· I’m not sure, but
· Let the initial writing response set up the subsequent possibilities

That’s as far as I think I can go with brainstorming this particular image. What I am confident of, though, is that if the image suggests a beginning, and perhaps a middle, the act of writing (capturing) those ideas will suggest the ending.

What do you think? I haven’t written the poem/story to go with this picture. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Do you want to know what the image is of? It is a variety of quaking grass gone to seed. That is another point perhaps worth making. Every picture tells a story. It isn’t necessary to go a long way from home to find inspiration of this kind.

I’ve put out a number of books, now, in what I have taken to referring to as picture poetry. The common feature of all of them is that I allow the images to speak to me. Feel free to peek inside.

Beechworth Bakery Bears Books

· The Beechworth Bakery Bears –
· Waiting For Frank-Bear-

Trash and Treasure

· Voices (In The Trash) –

My Locale (Beechworth, Victoria (Australia))

· A Lake Sambell Walk –

World War 1 (The Somme and Western Front)

· Sheep On The Somme –


About Frank Prem

Frank Prem has been a storytelling poet for more than forty years, and has spent his working life in various parts of the public psychiatry system in Victoria (Australia).

He has been published in magazines, e-zines and anthologies, in Australia and in a number of other countries, and has both performed and recorded his work as ‘spoken word’.

He and his wife live in the beautiful township of Beechworth in the North East of Victoria.

Frank has published several collections of free verse poetry –

Small Town Kid (2018)
Devil In The Wind (2019)
The New Asylum (2019)
Herja, Devastation (with Cage Dunn) (2019)
Walk Away Silver Heart (2020)
A Kiss for the Worthy (2020)
Rescue and Redemption (2020)
Pebbles to Poems (2020)

As well as Picture-Poetry books –

A Beechworth Bakery Bears e-Book (2020)
A Beechworth Bakery Bears e-Book (too) (2020)
Voices (In The Trash) (2021)
The Beechworth Bakery Bears (2021)
Sheep On The Somme (2021)
Waiting For Frank Bear (2021)
A Lake Sambell Walk (2021)

Key Contacts for Frank Prem:

Author Page (Newsletter sign up):

Amazon Author Page:


Frank Prem Poet and Author YouTube:

Follow this link to read Frank’s Meeting the Author’s interview …

Meet the Author: Devil in the Wind by Frank Prem


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Book Shelf: The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

A gripping story that begins in 1714 France, traveling throughout the world, landing in 2014 New York, and ending in 2016 London. I absolutely loved this book, the characters, having a hard time putting the book down. In 1714 when Adeline Larue was faced with being forced to live a life she did not want to live, she made a grave mistake. She lives the effect of this mistake for three hundred years until one day in 2014 New York, everything changes. Absolutely enjoyable read!

To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

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Meet the Author: Breaking Birds by Hayley Mitchell

Today we travel to Colchester to chat with Hayley Mitchell about how a small desk, Rocky, a meerkat, The Notebook, a chameleon, Captain Planet, monkeys, Greek Mythology, and being a mom to three boys come together as part of Hayley’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Wow! Fiction is much easier to write than biography. What to say about me? Can I cheat? Here’s my character description ..

It was a typically grey and drizzly winters day in Colchester. As Hayley looked out of the window she thought again that if you’re going to hail from the setting for a reality/non-reality TV show, there had to be better options than Essex. Besides, her life was far from the glamour of The Only Way is Essex, more like The Only Way is any way you can get though the day! Then that was the life with boys; three boys. Noisy, exhausting, often overwhelming and without doubt absolutely wonderful.

Life was manic but motherhood certainly gave scope for plenty of inspiration, after all, that’s how she started writing. Hayley smiled as she thought of the first children’s book she had written, shortly after her eldest was born. Feeling nostalgic, she picked up her IPad, thinking perhaps she’d write something new.
“Mum! I need a poo!”

Well, maybe she’d get time to write tonight, she thought. Duty calls.

In which genre do you write?

I started writing children’s books, publishing Charlie Bear Won’t go to Sleep, not long after my first child was born. He was a terrible sleeper so it was written at about 3am. Several more children’s books followed, enough to ensure all three of my boys had a dedicated book each and more.
Recently I branched into poetry, very much as a cathartic process to offload some pent up emotions. This then led to a psychological thriller in poetic verse. I tend to follow inspiration, which is largely dictated my my mood, so the genre changes according to how I feel at the time; I’m not sure what sort mood I was in when I wrote Breaking Birds!

What would you choose as your mascot, and why?

Probably a Meerkat. I’ve always been described as very scatty. I am extremely eager and enthusiastic, throwing myself out there with a passion, but then quite often duck down or retreat when things start to take off. Yes, I’ve got the nervous energy of a meerkat, with perhaps the adaptability of a chameleon. A Meermeleon?

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Small. That is if we’re describing my actual desk, which is a little cubby hole built into the corner of my bedroom. In honesty writing usually takes place on my iPad or phone, in fits and bursts around parenting and the rest of life. More often than not, inspiration strikes in the middle of the night, whereby I’ll be scrawling on a notepad or typing on my phone, half hidden under a duvet.

What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

Rocky! I absolutely love the Rocky films and Eye of The Tiger is first on my running playlist. Such a great story of the underdog beating all odds, it never fails to motivate me. I also love the story behind it, of how Stallone wrote the screenplay and insisted he star in it, despite little interest from production companies. A real case of life imitating art.

Badly explain your hobby.

I bend myself into compromising positions whilst listening to whales moaning about the price of fish.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

The Notebook. I don’t know how I’ve gone this long without watching it, but I was in the mood for a good cry and it didn’t disappoint.

What cartoons did you watch as a child?

Count Duckula. He Man. Mask. Captain Planet.
I still know the theme tunes as well, not to sound old or anything, but they don’t make them like they used to!

Which would you choose? Penguins or monkeys?

Monkeys-it’s a tough one as if you’d ask me to name my favourite animals these are always my top two, but monkeys are so fascinating. Other than their strange tendency to eat their own poop they really are amazing animals.

How handy are you when it comes to fixing things?

If it can be held with blutac then I’m your girl. I have zero DIY skills. My hubby is quite a craftsman (and a perfectionist) so he does the majority of the DIY although I do the painting. One of my New Years Resolutions is going to be to try and decorate the house though, so prepare for some serious TIkTok failures!

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

Why must you chase squirrels?
Did you really enjoy the contents of that nappy?
Where shall we go today?

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

After six months of saving I’ve just bought myself a campervan/MPV! I’m so excited to get out in it and have big plans… driving half hour down the road, pulling up by the coast and working on my writing. It will only be a few hours until nursery and school pick ups, but it is going to be the most chilled, perfect me time I’ve had in a while.

What are you currently working on?

I’m just about to publish a short, light hearted take on Greek Mythology. It’s the story of Theseus as retold via text messages. It’s a fun, easy read-very different from the dark vibes of Breaking Birds, but great fun to write.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Breaking Birds is a psychological thriller written entirely in poetic verse. I knew I wanted to write a novel in verse. I’d been enjoying writing poetry (often free verse) and the idea of writing a novel in poetry really appealed to me. The format suits me so well; with little time to dedicate to writing, I was able to write a poem here and there, in the odd five minutes of calm in my hectic house! Likewise I hope readers can pick it up when they have a spare minute, as in know we rarely get enough time to sit and read as we might like (though of course I hope, once you start that you can’t put it down!)

The story itself came from a desire to go against instinct. With a poetic novel I initially thought romance, so, being me, I decided to go against the grain and make it a dark, thriller instead. Once I started writing it was very organic, I didn’t force myself to write but just allowed each poem to come naturally-to use a cliche, the book practically wrote itself!

It was wonderful having you on MTA, and learning more about you, Hayley. Wishing you much success, and all the best! – Camilla

Where can we purchase the book?

Connect with Hayley:


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Book Shelf: A Memoir of the Craft – On Writing by Stephen King

A Memoir of the Craft – On Writing by Stephen King

This had been on my “to read” list for years! It did not disappoint.

This quote from the book hooked me from the beginning, “This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit.” And, “Omit needless words.” Ouch! I’m a wordy writer. It was good for me to see these two sentence in close proximity!

Happy to have finally read this one.

To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

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Meet the Author: Now You’re the Artist … Deal With It by Lee Benson

Today we travel to West Midlands in the UK to chat with Lee Benson about how shyness, being a gallery owner, painting in watercolours, Casablanca, playing the piano, Coventry City, a newly plastered ceiling, gardening, mentoring teens, and orang-utans come together as part of Lee’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Halesowen West Midlands UK. I have a weekly radio show on Black Country xtra Called listen with lee. It’s available in the Black Country radio app.

How many published books do you have?

I have published 30 books so far. My first children’s book came out in 2000 followed by a second in 2002 then a good while later some more and in 2016 I had my first novel published. Now there are 11 children books, three novels for adults and a ghostly novella, plus several discographies of famous bands in conjunction with Andrew Sparke. I am most proud of my seven poetic collections which really are my take on the world with help from my hero Spike Milligan.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

Interesting question, I’m known for being loud and able to speak in front of many crowds. But in reality, given my large over six foot frame, I am quite a shy person. In my novels you do not know the name of the gallery owner and in my latest book a musician says to me in a pub in Plymouth “I didn’t quite catch your name”, I replied “I didn’t give it”.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I don’t have an ideal place, occasionally I will sit using my iPhone notes app, be it on the bus, sitting in a park or sitting on a couch, I concentrate on editing in front of a computer as I have to enlarge the words and meticulously go through it all as am somewhat dyslexic. My computer is in my music room, so if I get distracted, I will go to the piano and play away then return to write feeling refreshed. Not always. An odd drop of whiskey or a glass of wine helps.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

‘Now you’re the artist deal with it’ actually is more or less true with a lot of imagination thrown in for good measure. I always wanted to be an artist since a young age, but being a first born, that somehow wasn’t the done thing, however having worked in the art world for over thirty years with the last fourteen owning my own gallery, I decided to take a leap and paint in watercolours. My rules of looking after staff was maintained throughout, but in the book I break the rules. Told you imagination is good fun.

What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

This has to be Casablanca, I know every word and every scene, it never fails to make me want to see it again. In one of my children stories I added a scene where Humphrey Bogart in African Queen mode looks up at the sky and sees an egg flying by, just the way my mind works!!

Can you play a musical instrument?

I do play the piano, having been taught from age 7 but to be honest, I really didn’t enjoy all the scales and developed my own sort of blues style to amuse myself and then one day I showed my tutor who was astounded as he had no idea how to play like that.

Then at fifteen I had jazz syncopation lessons by a chap who used to have an affair with some woman next door whilst I was practicing, I must put that in a book one day. Then from the tender age of 18 I left home and played piano around Europe and the Middle East to pay for food etc. that was fun.

At the age of 24, I joined a group with moderate commercial success, however my real claim to fame was as a co writer for the song for Coventry City back in the eighties and played it live on Blue Peter gaining a real Blue Peter badge from the one and only Biddy Baxter herself (She was the producer of the show). Coventry went on to win the FA cup against Spurs and as far as I know they still play the song when they score a goal. Shame I don’t receive any royalties!! I came out of musical retirement in my sixties and started playing again. Terrifying!

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Wow. How long have you got? I love my garden and spend lots of time in it, my wife sews the seeds in the potting shed, and I do the rest, I love getting my hands into the soil. It’s a real grounding, and as its a large garden, we have had several covid safe meet ups in it and everyone loves the garden, which is so satisfying.

A romantic touch, when we were viewing the property I said to my fiancé, we could get married in this garden, something the owners heard, and that was the reason we were able to purchase as six others wanted the house. Nice eh!

I also am the creative director of a children’s charity and help mentor teens in the big world of ours using artistic methods to enable them to feel better about themselves. We also worked with special needs adults and dementia sufferers and just completed project called Remember me.

Have you ever had any “Do It Yourself” disasters?

Many years ago, when I was renovating a lovely victorian house, I accidentally banged a nail right through a heating pipe. The flow was stemmed by me holding my finger on the hole for an hour. I managed to gain my younger daughters attention and told her to ring my plumber friend on the mobile. All instructions completed and he turned up an hour later to stop the flow. And then once I hit my head on the rafters and fell through the newly plastered ceiling. Not only that, but I then took my leg out the hole unbalanced and fell through another part, what an expensive re plastering. What a twit!

What is the most enjoyable aspect you’ve found through writing?

I feel like I vanish into a different world and write from within the story. It actually can be exhausting. For example, in one chapter, I drive to Scotland, set up an exhibition, plenty of partying hard, then work a four day show and eventually drive home after packing it all away. I was mentally and physically exhausted afterwards and all I did was sit and write the chapter.

With my poetry, I sometimes don’t realise I’ve written it down so when I read it out later I am quite astonished with the result, recently my poetry has been uploaded and performed on the authorpeida podcasts and the chap seems to love my style, I am truly humbled.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What do you do to prepare yourself?

Actually I go very quiet. This stems from way back when I was in a band, before a gig I would just sit in a corner and avoid everyone till walking on stage, The same goes to reading and performing, be it in a restaurant, an after dinner speech or just performing in a group performance. Don’t eat chocolate before talking and do not drink alcohol beforehand, it does not help. Those moments of calm before performing ground you, it clears the air, then hey presto off you go, and the next minute it’s all over.

Badly explain your hobby.

I sit down on my fold up chair. I look at the view for quite a while, then I squeeze tubes of colour and smear them with a wet brush over the paper. Voila.

Monkeys or penguins.

I love orang-utans. Not exactly monkeys and am writing a children’s tale about the human destruction of borneo with sunbeams and orang-utans suffering. As the saying goes, Save planet earth.

What are you currently working on?

A story about living beside a person with bi polar. My brother was severely bipolar and the book will be called ‘I didn’t shoot Bob Dylan? Did I ?’ There are tragic and incredibly funny incidents in something which a lot of us do not know enough about.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Now you’re the artist deal with it completes the trilogy from gallery owner to artist, with lots of wine crazy folk and everything you don’t expect to happen in the art world. The cover represents a model who on entering the loo in the study finds a rat. Actually a gerbil and screams from the top of the seat.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA and to learn more about you, Lee! Wishing you all the best, with much success! – Camilla

Where to purchase the book:

Lee’s website:
Lee’s Amazon page

Connect with Lee:

Facebook: lee’s books
linked in and twitter: @leebenson55
instagram: lee_benson_author
Youtube channel:


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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Book Shelf: The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature by Peter Wohlleben

The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature by Peter Wohlleben

This was a slow read for me as it’s not exactly a page turner. However, I loved and enjoyed reading and learning more about trees. A must read for anyone concerned about our environment, even more so for those who think that nothing is wrong with how we treat our environment.

To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

“Disclosure: This website is an affiliate of and will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.”

Meet the Author: House of Grace by Patricia M Osborne

Today we travel to West Sussex in the UK to chat with Patricia M Osborne about how Open University, poetry, George Orwell, playing the piano, a broken hip, researching, snuggling on the couch, a feeling of belonging, freewriting, and life on Mars come together as part of Patricia’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m married, a mum to three and Nanna to six, and I live in West Sussex, UK. I’m a novelist, poet, and short story writer and I’ve even been known to dabble in scripts for stage plays, radio and screen. I have an MA in Creative Writing. When I’m not working on my own writing, I enjoy sharing my knowledge and act as a mentor to fellow writers.

In which genre do you write?

For my novels I tend to write historical fiction family sagas but for poetry, mainly narrative poems using myth and nature to tell mythical stories.

How many published books do you have?

I have six books published. Three of them are my trilogy, two poetry pamphlets and a third, co-authored – a poetry conversation. I have another co-authored poetry pamphlet coming out this year. When I look at my books, I can’t believe they’re mine as before 2017 when House of Grace was published, the idea of publishing a book was just a dream.

Where did the idea for House of Grace come from?

This is an interesting question. I was working on my final piece of work for my Open University degree which was a creative non-fiction life story. I suddenly realised it was too painful to write. I panicked. I was going to fail my BA degree at the final hurdle.

I started Googling story prompts for something to grab my muse when I suddenly remembered a character I’d created as part of my English GCSE. That isn’t as strange as it sounds. I had to leave school at fifteen to help bring in money for the family so when I was in my final year of my BA degree, I went back to college to do my GCSE English and Maths. It was through an English assignment after studying George Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier that I created Grace, a coal miner’s wife. I had my character but needed more. TV dramas, Mr. Selfridge and House of Elliot provided great inspiration.

Can you play a musical instrument? 

I play the piano and the recorder but am rusty on both. I’d always wanted to learn to play the piano but it was only when my youngest was learning, and I’d reached the grand age of fifty, that I had the opportunity to do this. While I had a piano teacher I thrived, managing to play Grade 8 pieces. Unfortunately, due to breaking my hip, I was unable to get to the piano and later lost my piano teacher. However, I do try to make some time to sit at my black beast and gain relaxation from playing just for myself.

What is the most enjoyable aspect you’ve found through writing?

I’m not sure I can answer that question in one. So many enjoyable aspects. I love the research process where I get to learn so many wonderful things, I love the idea of transporting myself to anywhere and anytime I want to be, and I love becoming anyone or anything. Another wonderful aspect that I’ve found through writing is being part of the writing community. For the first time in my life, I’ve found a place that I really belong.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

When I first studied creative writing with the Open University, I wrote a journal. I was never the morning pages person but night-time. I’d freewrite and if I didn’t know what to write I’d continue to write I don’t know what to write until something popped in my head. This exercise helped me get into a routine of regular writing. It’s something I don’t do these days but occasionally I go through my old journals and find a gem to create either a story or poem. I’d highly recommend this process for new writers, or old, who haven’t managed to find that routine for themselves yet.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I miss snuggling up on the couch with my late mum and late sister. Mum would get my baby brother to bed and then have time for us. We were allowed to stay up and watch Coronation Street, Emergency Ward Ten and a real treat on Sunday ‘Beat the Clock’ on London Palladium.

I also miss being free from worries and spending time with my late sister who was also my best friend.

What’s the clumsiest thing you’ve done?

I suppose that would have to be missing a step in a Bucharest metro while on a course with my MA university group. Missing that step caused me a broken hip, at the neck of the femur, and an operation in a third world hospital. I take so much more care now when walking.

If Mars or another planet was livable, would you accept a one-way ticket there? Why or why not?

Definitely not. For starters you’d never get me up in a rocket. I find it hard enough in a plane when I convince myself the clouds are snow and I pretend I’m on a coach, firmly on the ground. Apart from anything else I don’t think I’m ready to meet any aliens yet. And who knows what’s up there?

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I definitely am a believer that things happen for a reason and a great believer in fate. An example of this is when I was caring for my late mum. I couldn’t get to my piano to play so I started to learn music theory. My piano teacher encouraged me to take this further with the Open University.

I enrolled for a music diploma and halfway through my course I took up the creative writing courses. If I hadn’t started playing the piano, I wouldn’t have started music theory, if I hadn’t started music theory, I wouldn’t have gone to the Open University and if I hadn’t done that then there would be no BA Humanities with Creative Writing and Music, no MA in Creative Writing, no House of Grace trilogy and none of my poetry books published or even individual poems and short stories that have appeared in magazines and anthology.

Yes, everything happens for a reason.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on ‘The Oath’ which is a late Victorian/early Edwardian set historical fiction novel and told in the point of view of two female protagonists. I’m also working on a variety of poetry projects, including a mythical poetry collection, one about life of the flamingo, and a co-authored poetry conversation with a fellow poet.

Tell us about House of Grace book.

House of Grace is not only my debut novel but the first book in House of Grace trilogy. It opens in 1950 with a sixteen-year-old protagonist leaving boarding school in Brighton. Grace Granville longs to be a fashion designer but her father, Lord Granville, has other ideas. He wants her to marry a suitor of his choice but agrees she can spend a holiday at her school roommate’s home in Bolton first.

House of Grace steps back to the 1950s and the reader travels with Grace through two decades as she struggles with family conflict, poverty and tragedy.

It was great having you be a part of MTA, Patricia. I loved learning more about you and your path to writing and becoming a published author. Wishing you all the best, with much success! – Camilla

Book Blurb

She was born into nobility. But with times changing, will she be allowed to marry beneath her station?

Brighton, England, 1950. Grace Granville has grand ambitions. So after finishing boarding school, the naive sixteen-year-old manages to convince her aristocratic father to allow her a short adventure to Lancashire. But her sweeping plans to become a fashion designer take an unplanned turn when she falls in love with a handsome coal miner.

Shattered when her domineering parent demands she return to meet the more proper suitors he has lined up for her hand in marriage, Grace desperately concocts a hasty way out. But the young noblewoman has no idea of the life-changing consequences her plan will set in motion…

Will Grace tempt fate and spoil her own future?

House of Grace is the enthralling first book in the House of Grace family saga trilogy. If you like strong-minded women, social conflict, and stories vividly told across fascinating eras, then you’ll adore this 1950s/60s journey back to the past.

Where can we purchase the book?

House of Grace may be purchased from Amazon as kindle or paperback (available to read FREE with Kindle Unlimited)


It may be ordered from any good bookstore or available from your local library on request. Signed copies available at discounted prices (UK only) from my website shop:

Where you can find me:



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Friday with Friends: A Writer Practices ‘Method Acting’ by Joyce Yarrow


I’ve often wondered why so many of us are obsessed by our unique spirals of DNA, to the point of spending endless hours searching through immigration and naturalization documents on

When I mailed my spit-in-a-tube to be analyzed, I told myself this venture was purely an exercise in “method-writing.” In the same way Marlon Brando inhabited Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar Named Desire, I would “become” Alienor Crespo, the protagonist of my latest novel, Zahara and the Lost Books of Light. Alienor goes to great lengths to research her family tree. As her creator I felt obligated to do the same.

On the evening my results arrived in my Inbox, I clicked the link with no premonition of what was in store.

I was not surprised by all the Eastern European yellow and green, with a small dash of blue for the Baltic’s and the UK. I was philosophical about finding 6 great aunts and uncles on my mother’s side who I had no idea existed. My detachment, however, turned to deep curiosity when I investigated my dad’s side of the tree and started the hunt for the orphanage where he’d told me he’d been raised. If I’d taken a selfie at that moment, more than a hint of fanatical purpose would have shone in my eyes. I didn’t leave my dinner to burn on the stove but I would have if given half the chance.

The next day, over morning coffee, I got on the phone with the nun in New Jersey who maintained the archives of what was once the Nazareth Trade School. While we spoke I was looking at an online record of ‘students’ in residence, my nine year old father’s name written in surprisingly neat cursive, ten lines down from the top of the page.

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“He was with us until he was seventeen, except for some time in an orthopedic hospital,” the Sister told me.

That made sense. My dad used to say that being in the hospital after he came down with polio was the best year of his childhood. The Children’s Ward was where he learned to play chess and was introduced to Shakespeare’s plays. We didn’t have many books in our house but without fail Dad read his copy of Hamlet once a year. Now that I’m older, I can appreciate the significance this held for him.

Grandma Anna had been unable to support three children on her own during the Great Depression. She had placed my father at the orphanage/trade school when he was nine years old. She failed to visit him for eight long years and when she came to pick him up she was using a different last name than his, recently married, and ready to reunite her family.

No wonder Dad was a quintessential outsider who, when he met my mother, told her that his own mother was dead. Not true and after I was born there was a family reunion of sorts. But I was never close with my grandmother. The trauma endured by my father had marked him for life and as a child I was not the more forgiving person I’ve become.

So there he was, or at least the ghost of him, behind the walls of the orphanage in the photograph. For the first time I tried to see the world through his eyes. Somehow this allowed me to love him in spite of his deserting me the way his own mother deserted him. Maybe that’s why, when I wrote Alienor Crespo’s story, I decided to give her the gift of seeing through her ancestor’s eyes. In the end she too finds meaning in the painful discoveries she makes while recreating her family tree.

Follow this link to read Joyce’s previous interview …

Meet the Author: Zahara by Joyce Yarrow


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Book Shelf: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I recently watched this movie, enjoying it so much that I sought out the book. The book was even better! I didn’t think I’d like the style of the book, written as letters back and forth between the characters. It grew on me though, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know everyone. A heartwarming, moving story with strong female characters. Loved it so much!

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Meet the Author: The Prisoner of Paradise by Rob Samborn

Today we travel to Denver, Colorado to chat with Rob Samborn about how Venice, the Doge’s Palace, Cloud Atlas, playing the guitar, selling leather jackets, skydiving, lying about his age, and living on Mars come together as part of Rob’s past and present life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a native New Yorker, I’ve lived in Los Angeles for twenty years, and now live in Denver with my wife, daughter and dog. In addition to being a novelist, I’m a screenwriter, entrepreneur and avid traveler. I’ve been to forty countries, lived in five of them (including Italy) and studied nine languages. I’m a restless spirit and can’t remember the last time I was bored. I am on a quest to explore the intricacies of our world and try my hand at a multitude of crafts. I’m also an accomplished artist and musician, as well as a budding furniture maker.

In which genre do you write? 

I write across genres since that’s the toughest to sell! In all seriousness, it’s what I love, I naturally gravitate toward cross-genre books, TV shows and movies, and I write what I’d like to read.

Tell us about your most recent book, and where we can purchase the book.

My most recent book, THE PRISONER OF PARADISE, is a commercial thriller blended with historical fiction and magical realism. It’s about a man on the brink of insanity who traverses present-day and Renaissance Venice to save his soul mate from a most unusual purgatory. It’s available at all major booksellers, including Amazon:

What outdoor activity haven’t you tried, but would like to try?

Skydiving, without question. My wife and I had booked a skydiving experience outside of San Diego, California, but unfortunately it rained that day (one of the few rainy days they get), so it was canceled. Since then, we had a child so I’m reluctant to try a life-risking activity. But I plan on doing it one day!

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

I’ve been to Venice three times and I’ve found inspiration for different story ideas around every corner. It’s such a unique place – beautiful and mysterious. I was inspired to write The Prisoner of Paradise on my second trip to Venice, after seeing other paintings by Jacopo Tintoretto, located in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.

His paintings are so lifelike and imbue so much emotion, I couldn’t help but wonder who the models were. As the idea for a book about souls trapped in a painting germinated, I researched Tintoretto’s work and discovered his masterpiece, Il Paradiso, located in the Doge’s Palace.

In a glance, I knew it was the perfect painting. As I researched the room it was located in, along with the building and the history of the complex and the painting, the idea unfolded before my eyes. I visited the Doge’s Palace and Paradise on my third trip to Venice.

What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

Cloud Atlas. I find this movie to be remarkable in every sense possible and hugely inspirational and influential. Strangely, it’s very polarizing, as is the book, by David Mitchell. People either love it or detest it. I am very much in the “it’s one of the greatest movies ever made” camp.

Can you play a musical instrument?

Yes. I can play guitar and a little bass. I also sing. In fact, I was in a band one summer in Florence, Italy. It was me and two friends. I played guitar and sang, one friend played bongos, and one friend played clarinet. We were a folksy alternative rock/comedy act. By day, we sold leather jackets in the market and passed out flyers for our show. By night, we played in a few bars where we had set gigs. It was the best summer of my life. My first trip to Venice was that summer.

Can you share an interesting story from your childhood.

When I was six, my parents sent me to sleepaway camp for a month. I have a six-year-old now and the idea of sending her away for even a week is unfathomable. But, I had an amazing time and even had to lie about my age to make sure I didn’t get sent home. One day, a counselor was looking through some papers and asked me what year I was born. I had to do some quick math!

If mars or another planet was livable, would you accept a one way ticket there? why or why not?

Yes. It would be immensely difficult to leave my friends and family forever, but being that type of pioneer, the first in human history, is too great an opportunity to pass up. Not to mention, I’d have quite a bit of time to write!

It was great learning more about you Rob, and a pleasure to have be a part of MTA. Wishing you much success with future writings and all of your endeavors. – Camilla


The world’s largest oil painting. A 400-year-old murder. A disembodied whisper: “Amore mio.” My love.

Nick and Julia O’Connor’s dream trip to Venice collapses when a haunting voice reaches out to Nick from Tintoretto’s Paradise, a monumental depiction of Heaven. Convinced his delusions are the result of a concussion, Julia insists her husband see a doctor, though Nick is adamant the voice was real.

Blacking out in the museum, Nick flashes back to a life as a 16th century Venetian peasant swordsman. He recalls precisely who the voice belongs to: Isabella Scalfini, a married aristocrat he was tasked to seduce but with whom he instead found true love. A love stolen from them hundreds of years prior.

She implores Nick to liberate her from a powerful order of religious vigilantes who judge and sentence souls to the canvas for eternity. Releasing Isabella also means unleashing thousands of other imprisoned souls, all of which the order claims are evil.

As infatuation with a possible hallucination clouds his commitment to a present-day wife, Nick’s past self takes over. Wracked with guilt, he can no longer allow Isabella to remain tormented, despite the consequences. He must right an age-old wrong – destroy the painting and free his soul mate. But the order will eradicate anyone who threatens their ethereal prison and their control over Venice.

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