Achievements and resolutions

Many of my friends are posting some kind of summary of the writing they did during the last year and their plans for this.

In 2020 I published the final volumes in two fantasy series, and posted three auction fanfics and a Secret Santa one. I wrote a shorter story for a free Solstice treat, and started a novel in November, reaching a half way point before holiday celebrations took over my life. The poem is a snapshot of the chaos in my head during the year.

As I hope the poem explains, I reached a number of goals in 2020 and am now working on a novel about a found (fae) family on a quest. One of my resolutions is to write more – well, not exactly more but more regularly with some kind of discipline. Another is to post more often and keep you better informed.

My other resolution is not to acquire any more books, even free ones, till my to-be-read piles (one print, one digital) reach saner and less dangerous proportions.

Plot Bunnies of 2020

There were plot bunnies running round inside my head,

multiplying like, well, like rabbits, well fed,

careless of the environmental damage they might do.


my plot bunnies are orderly;

they take their turn, one by one by one,

or sometimes two by two,

waiting to see

which will be most beneficial,

taking my needs and plans

into account;

deferring, in other words,

to me.


One would sniff the air,

sensing its time was near,

swell and grow,

towering over the rest

who’d cower,

recognising their erstwhile friend

as bunny of the hour

who in the end

ruled the warren while I nurtured him,

turning him into a tale, groomed and finished;

ready to bound into the world, out of my head.


Time came and went.

I worked contentedly,

Polishing, editing, formatting, and then

casually throwing a carrot or two

into the warren.

A fae pair,

minor characters at best,

informed me that their story needed air

but, being a winter solstice tale could wait a year.

Even so,

I outlined everything,

wrote their first scene,

let their emotions sing,

even enjoyed watching the plot take shape,

knowing there was no haste.


Cop buddies, seeking a serial killer in the Caribbean,

showed promise,

likely to be full grown for Valentine’s Day

but had so much to say

their short sweet story threatened to become

a whole novella and was put aside

until sufficient time could be allotted

to do justice to their complex plot while they

did justice in their own inimitable way.


In February I offered fanfic, heedlessly.

The auctions were for such worthy charity

and there were bidders winning promises,

handing out brand new bunnies like largesse.

I had no cages, no carrots, and no

time but oh,

with eyes were so pleading and with coats so soft,

I could not let them go.


Aliens have their own intense appeal,

especially those

who find romance

with humans

or provide

reasons for those humans to boldly go

into the starry universe outside.

And so

I frantically sought

lettuce, cucumber and early grass

and watched those bunnies grow.


I built them cages in my mind,

hoping against hope

they’d keep themselves apart

in discrete clusters till I made a start.

They’d have to compete for water and nourishment

with princes, who, arranged marriage consummated,

assured me they could continue to hunt

unicorns until I had time to seek

their truth – but they had waited

long enough, did not deserve

to stand back for brash newcomers,

and would serve

to add structure to my time.


Quietly in the backmost cage a fae family

waited, thinking their time would, sooner or later, come.

But when the aliens moved in,

tails bobbing, paws scrabbling, I think those older bunnies

knew their orderly queued existence had been overrun.

And so, revolution in the rabbit house;

bucks and does alike, with supporting kits

broke from their cages, demanded more supplies,

invaded my dreams and grew before my eyes


They were running around my thoughts,

breeding, interbreeding, making more noise

than rabbits ought to make.

Sooner or later – probably sooner – I

would have to take a stand,

order them back in place,

ration the carrots and greens,

but just for a day or two,

for I was intrigued and watched

as they mixed, matched, bred

and now I had plot bunnies galore

running rings around my head.


A year passed. The princes are with my editor,

their first draft finished.

All auction fics were written, posted, gifted.

The minor fae,

a Solstice free novella, waited

for their polished chance to shine.

The fae family are well on their way

through an adventure that

involves a goblin, an elf, a talking bird

and a supercilious deaf cat.

The police pair slumber for now on their tropical sands


my head is quieter but I have to say,

I miss the now familiar racket and might just look

for new plot bunnies

who’d like to come out and play.

Lights: a poem for the Solstice

Solstice Lights.

We have light

shining throughout the whole house.

In the bathroom there’s a waterfall of blue.

White stars watch over the kitchen counter and

pink baubles deck the back porch,

startling against the night.

The dining room and main bedroom display with pride

decorated windows to the lane outside.

The lounge has a myriad of lights.

Colours clash, compete and complement. There are roses

(probably inappropriate for the season but oh! so pretty).

A rich dark carving from the Cote d’Ivoire

boasts a delicate garland and

bookcases scintillate with miniature delights.

This year is different;

we can’t go out to see street finery.

I don’t know, even, whether there is any.


and maybe not,

but it won’t

be observed by us.


we have an indoor feast

for the senses, and if I cannot share with others at least

holiday decorations can come to me.

The carving was a gift from a student from Ivory Coast. The bathroom speaks for itself.

I apologise for the way WordPress insists on formatting verse with extra line spaces. I have spent hours trying to correct it although I must admit it looks infinitely worse in editing mode.

Poppies with pride : a poem for 11th November 2020

In Flanders fields the poppies grow, except where vast farms there today have forced the wild flowers to the edges or driven them away.

The war poets tried to make us think of countless deaths and needless agony but novels and films despite their well meant words often exalt what’s merely seen as glory.

Men in and out of armed forces reminisced:  my husband’s father – military police; my grandfather in the British merchant navy; my husband’s uncle in Hitler’s death march east.

My curate father fought fires every night after conducting funerals throughout the day. None of them recalled unusual acts of heroism  or if they did, they did not say.

Three friends have brought up daughters who (sweet children in their early years) are now tank commander, weapons officer, SAS nurse. It seems that as we reaped so shall we plough.

I like to think I am a pacifist but if someone attacked my family I would fight. I know I would not turn the other cheek or go gentle into any vicious night.

And so I honour those who fought and fell. In normal years I wear my poppy with pride, but this time, faced with an unseen enemy I remain poppyless, inside.

Actually, I have bought some poppy earrings from the British Legion online shop. I have them on today and will wear them when I am ‘legally allowed out’ to go to see the optician on Friday.

Covid Dreams (a poem for today)

As the pandemic passes it would seem
Each night and every morning
Before dawn
I step into a vivid world of dream.

Lurid landscapes beckon
With skies bluer than before con trails disappeared.
Vast disasters threaten
With casts of everyone
I’ve ever known.

I cannot call
These nightmares; I am unscathed,
Barely concerned for my own safety through it all.
I watch events unfold,
Never able to warn or aid,
Just seeing the world around me fall apart
In brilliant pieces as if the jeweller’s art
Applied itself to our humanity
Creating necklaces of catastrophe.

Like a horseman of the apocalypse
I assist
At death.
Disease, destruction,
Revolve before my gaze
And those affected
Are my parents (long gone)
Or others from my past,
From days
Before I ever heard of a pandemic,
Before our world
Was suddenly undone,
Before figures of mortality or cases
Filled our news,
Assaulted us with dread,
Never knowing who would, next, be dead.

Try as I might,
Avoiding cheese, coffee, alcohol or blue screens
Late at night,
Reading uplifting books,
Watching heartwarming films,
Even while my family remains untouched it seems
I am fated to live, each time I sleep,
In Covid dreams.

(Like others, I’ve been having long strange dreams since the pandemic took hold here. So I wrote about them, wondering how many people’s sleep is similarly disrupted.)

A fantasy writer’s lament

(shutterstock – public domain – fractal art/poly dragon – photoshopped)

There’ s a dragon sitting in my head,
not breathing fire unless I refuse
to give him a role in my latest work
or choose
to pretend he’s not in my head at all but just
a figment, imaginèd.

In shadow behind the dragon
a silvery unicorn prances,
slipping in and out of mist,
taking his chances
I’ll add him to the story,
wild and moon-kissed

Hunting (both dragon and unicorn),
seeking friendship, not conquest,
fae creatures try
to convince me they’re wonderful and strange,
not just like every other sentient being
under the sky.

(Magical families and travels
or fantasy love and crime
don’t differ from the mundane kind;
they’re merely more exotic
to observe,
and in my mind.)

They make incessant noise in my head,
these uninvited guests of mine,
chattering day and night.
Sometimes I’d like some peace and quiet,
all for myself, and so…
I write.

A Goblin Sweetheart – poem.


One of my online gaming characters was a young goblin who had just left home to seek his fortune – and maybe love. I wrote the poem in response to a call from a fellow player for poems related to our games. He printed it in his newsletter. The goblin’s name is pronounced Vu-ru-zu-vul. (Goblins don’t see the purpose of vowels.) The Cannis Sea was in our gaming world, sadly defunct but still a source of inspiration from time to time. Vrzvl also scribbled a picture of what he thought his sweetheart might look like…


Vrzvl’s haiku dream


Hair as green as leaves

Tangled like curling spring ferns

Round a grinning face.


Eyes as big as moons,

Deep as the dark Cannis Sea,

Full of wild mischief.


Teeth as sharp as rocks

In a mouth wide as the sky;

Lips open for me.


Arms, thin, taut as wire

And hands like soft twig brushes

Caressing my face.


In my dreams you walk.

Where shall I find you in life,

My goblin sweetheart?


I have vague intentions, some day, of writing a novel or novella with Vrzvl as one of the characters.

April Thoughts

With apologies to Browning who probably wouldn’t recognise our current weather patterns. I wrote this last week and thought I’d better post it before the forecast weather improvements make nonsense of it!

Cherry trees made an altogether glorious parade
And a magnolia cast a huge upside-down-umbrella shade.
Forsythia was golden.
The violets were out
But the taller trees determined
That Spring was not about.

There were daffodils in the breeze, dancing
While the glossy bluebell leaves were thrusting.
A lilac sprouted leaf buds.
A willow wept yellow-green.
Still the taller trees determined
That Spring had not been seen.

The sycamore was one that made a start
Wearing tight furled leaves to look the part
Though the other woodland giants
Were resolutely bare.
For the taller trees determined
That Spring truly wasn’t there.

The elm-tree boles that might have wished to please
Were all just memories through Dutch disease.
The chaffinches were nesting
(Though not on any orchard bow)
And the taller trees determined
It was too cold for Spring right now.

Magpies chased off last year’s offspring.
Aconites were this month’s bling.
Some ducks were building nests
And the geese honked, full of cheer,
While the taller trees determined
That Spring might just be near.

The branches raised to greet the driving rain
Were uniformly black without a stain
Of green. Beneath them flowers
And birds (and lambs) told all of England how
Despite the taller trees’ determination
It was April now.

The Visitor

Here – have a poem. A cat lives a few doors away from us but visits us frequently. Recently, it snowed. And yes, that’s my house but the photo was taken last time it snowed heavily, not this.

The first day
of heavy snow
there were no prints and the cat
had clearly voted with his paws to stay
at home, warm.
The second day
I heard a tap at the door,
faint, as though gloved,
but I was doing something important
and did not respond.
There might have been more
taps but as I say,
I was busy that day.
The third day the garden was still full
of lumps of white,
car-shaped, pot-shaped, shrub-shaped.
A cat
might have ended as a cat-shaped lump
if he had sat on the doormat or a stump,
but I let him in.
He shook drops of snow
(probably caught from a gate or rail)
like a liquid cat-herine wheel
then pushed a damp determined
forehead against my hand
for stroking
or kneading.
When I looked
outside there was a line
of paw prints, from his house
to mine.


It didn’t come in like a lamb or a lion.

More like a skittish goat, or a March hare

ready to box for domination.

Or perhaps a polar bear

exploring tentatively

south of the ice cap

but prowling,

not roaring,

quiet to lull

the unsuspecting population.


Strong gusts

came without warning,

amid snow, frost, hot sun.

Not so much

global warming

as severe change

and a dizzying sense

of doom.


Spring leapt into action:

cherry blossom, daffodils,

crocus, forsythia

and even, on the south coast

rumours of magnolia

and then

it snowed again.


It wasn’t friendly snow.

It didn’t fall softly overnight.

The children never got

to build a snowman or sledge

down a slope of white.

It snarled the traffic

(and the flower buds)

then crept away

before anyone could play.


If the lion and the lamb

are absent,

unaccountably diverted or delayed

will the month depart

soft with Easter chicks and rabbit kits

or will

high winds from the north pole

shatter the world apart?

Whatever looms I think

most will be glad when this March

is spent.


Can anyone tell me how to get WordPress to accept line breaks between verses? I have edited and edited until I’m blue in the face and eventually settled for lines of dots. It only behaves like this when it senses poetry!!

On hyacinths opening



it said

on the plastic label

and I wondered as I set

the basket on the table

what kind of red?

And so I pondered.


The red of sunsets,

of robins’ breasts,

of anger

or traffic lights,

of jelly tongue twisters

or sunrises that, warning

shepherds or sailors,

in the morning

are simply red.



hue of pomp and circumstance,

or flagrant


of shame

or fame;

a colour with a dual nature,

Is scarlet.



speaks for itself

of injury or death;

of class (though maybe then it’s blue)

of ancestry,

(it may

be used in heraldry),

of diverse things like

fox hunting and the final brush

(though not the coats)

and geraniums,

does blood.



royal, yet

colour of shame.

Cheeks, stained,

may be aristocratic

but derided.

It can be literary

contrasted with white.

The very word

echoes with jewels

and depths

and night,

or gorgeous knights


in crimson.



states gems outright

but lips too,

ready to be kissed,

and apples or plums


for the picking,

the eating,

the stealing.

It hints of larceny,


and desire,

does ruby.



is just a foreign way

to say


and can have shades

of ruby

crimson, scarlet

or any other red

unless it’s in a paint tray.

Every meaning we assign

to each of those we attach, too,

to vermilion.


For a week

I watered the basket


while the buds stayed tight

and green;

no red to be seen,

then the sun must

have reached within

and told

the petals to unfold.

They were not red at all

but deep, deep, deepest pink,

beautiful and scented

but not

(most definitely not)