NEW RELEASE Little Mishaps and Big Surprises – available now

Hurray, hurray, Little Mishaps and Big Surprises is finally with us. 

Charlie’s life was perfect, until that one fateful night….

London girl, Charlie, has a great life; fab flat in Covent Garden, a satisfying career and great friends. She certainly doesn’t need a man to complete her. Her life couldn’t be better. Or could it?

Charlie’s life is about to change. From an episode of doggy incontinence to a vomit incident in the M&S food hall, life has some little mishaps planned for Charlie that lead to some BIG surprises.

With a fancy dress party looming, what begins as a drunken nightmare could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to her.

Our now on Kindle for just 99p or FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited, and also available in paperback.

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Why horrible work scenarios keep creeping into my romantic comedies

Well, I’m excited about my fourth romantic comedy, Little Mishaps and Big Surprises, which will be out next week – Tuesday 12 June 2018. It will be available on Kindle – 99p/c or free for those of you who have Kindle Unlimited and, at the same time, available as a paperback (usually my paperbacks are a few weeks behind the Kindle version, but not this time).

This one features Charlene, aka Charlie, and the adventures and mishaps in her life. Charlie lives in London, just off Covent Garden and loves it, not least because she has escaped from a sleepy town in Wiltshire – or so she thinks.

As we all know, however much we think we’re in control of our own destiny, life has a habit of throwing us a few curveballs which, by their very nature, we don’t see coming and cannot control (happens to Charlie more than once). This is never more the case that in the world of work. Now, I’m lucky; I no longer work for anyone else, no petty politics or inflated egos for me to deal with on a daily basis, but, it’s been pointed out to me that bad work situations do crop up regularly in my books – especially my romcoms. I wonder why?

It’s true to say that I’ve had a lot of jobs, most of them, though not all, in offices. I’ve worked in some wonderful places and I’ve worked in some stinkers. I’ve also worked in the worst combination of all, wonderful workplaces that are ruined by a stinker or two at the top. I use the word stinker to prevent myself from swearing, but I’m sure you get my drift.

I once temped in a tiny company –  just me in the office (beautifully appointed), one guy in the warehouse (funny and fun) and THE BOSS. I write his title in capitals to convey his demeanour and personality. This was a man who liked to throw his weight around – literally, he was a bit chubby (and short). He wore steel-heeled shoes which announced his entrance long before he came bustling in. When he became angry, which was frequent and over the most trivial of things, his face would turn puce and he would stomp around and bang his desk phone nosily on his desk. He liked his tea – made by me who doesn’t drink tea – made a certain way and on his desk at hourly intervals, or trouble would follow.

Sometimes it was hard not to laugh at his tantrums, but my training as a mother of small children had taught me to ignore such behaviour, which, of course, made him worse. He once berated me for not using his name when I wished him good morning. He told me I had to say good morning, Kevin, not just good morning. He delivered this instruction while crouching behind the office partition for, like most bullies, he was also a coward and couldn’t look me in the eye. (He also called his wife sweetie-pie, and rang to check up on her at irregular, but frequent, times during the day. But that’s a whole other story.)

I was the latest in a long line of temps who had worked for him, and, all had subsequently walked out. Some had barely lasted a week, one only managed half a day. I lasted three months, which is a testament to my patience and perseverance. But, I walked out later that week. Life’s too short to put up with that kind of nonsense.

I have many more stories like this – am I unique? I suspect not. Maybe, I’m just a bad employee. But, if that is the case, so are a lot of other people, especially my readers who often email and tell me that they can identify with the work situations I write about.

This brings me back to Little Mishaps and Big Surprises, which features the inevitable, crappy work scenario. I think the outcome will make some readers cheer from the side-lines!

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Little Mishaps and Big Surprises – excerpt from chapter 4

Here’s another taster from Little Mishaps and Big Surprises – due out in JUNE!

Excerpt from chapter four

Zippy’s stupid face is still grinning at me at I get up and pull on my dressing gown. I fling my Bungle body over it so I can’t see that stupid grin before I stumble down two flights of stairs craving my coffee and cereal.

Zippy’s stupid body is sitting at the table eating my cereal.

‘I thought you had a plane to catch,’ I snap. ‘I thought you had to leave early.’

‘Going soon,’ the reply comes. ‘Just eating.’

I scrutinize Zippy’s face without the mask. He’s Chinese. I don’t remember that. I shake my head and put the kettle on, glancing back at this stranger who I have slept with. Wow, I must have drunk a lot.

I make my coffee before opening the fridge for milk. There is none.

‘God’s sake,’ I mutter under my breath. ‘No milk.’

‘So sorry,’ Zippy says, grinning. His bowl containing my cereal is swimming in milk. Greedy arse.

I don’t reply but open the cupboard to hunt for the long-life milk I keep for emergencies. It’s usually right next to my cereal. Except my cereal box isn’t there. I fling open a few more cupboard doors. No cereal. I’m angry now and getting angrier as I flip open the recycling bin to see the empty box in the bottom.

‘You ate all my cereal? Really?’  I cut open the milk carton and pour some into my coffee.

‘So sorry.’

‘And what was all that bullshit about you having to leave early?’

Zippy stares at me with confusion in his eyes.

‘Forget it.’ I wave my hand at him. Maybe I dreamt it in my alcohol induced stupor. ‘I wished you hadn’t eaten all my cereal though.’

The front door opens and CeCe and Yan come in giggling. Are they going to be giggling all the damn time? I’m so sick of it.

‘Hey Charlie,’ CeCe says, smiling. ‘Great party.’

‘Yeah.’

Yan puts a Tesco bag on the worktop. He pulls milk from it and a box of cereal – Tesco’s version on my cereal.

‘Sorry my cousin ate all your cereal.’ CeCe takes the box from Yan and hands it to me. ‘I’ve bought you another.’

‘Thanks.’ I take the box and stare at it.

‘They didn’t have your usual brand.’ CeCe smiles sweetly at me.

‘Well, thanks anyway.’ I put the box down and pick up my coffee.

‘Sorry my cousin is so greedy. He’s like that.’ She gives her cousin a playful slap around the head.

‘Your cousin?’ I suddenly have a flashback to the things her cousin and I did. I shudder; I must have been wearing some strong wine glasses last night.

CeCe’s cousin has finished his breakfast and is now standing up, shaking hands with me and saying goodbye to CeCe and Yan. Then he’s gone, clutching Zippy’s head – which he’s retrieved from under the table – under his arm. He must have moved ninja-like to get upstairs and retrieve the head from my room without me noticing. My hangover is must be worse than I thought.

‘He’s so much shorter than I remember,’ I voice my confusion.

‘Is he?’ CeCe frowns at me but follows it up with a smile.

‘Yeah.’ I sigh and examine my new cereal box. ‘Much.’ I’m sure that we stood mouth to mouth when I got my hair stuck in his zip. It’s just as well I’m doing Dry January, I obviously drunk far, far too much alcohol last night. My body could do with a break.

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Cover reveal for Little Mishaps and Big Surprises

Just love this cover for my new romcom, due out in June.

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Little Mishaps and Big Surprises – excerpt from chapter 3

Here’s another excerpt from Little Mishaps and Big Surprises.

Excerpt from chapter 3

‘Where is your costume?’

I point at my wardrobe.

‘What is that?’

‘Bungle.’

CeCe shakes her head and puts her hands out in a questioning manner, a very Teletubby gesture.

‘From Rainbow,’ I clarify.

She shakes her head again.

‘Paint your whole world with a rainbow,’ I sing. ‘With Rod, Jane and Freddie and Zippy and George.’

CeCe shakes her head again and Yan shrugs his great purple shoulders.

‘Never mind. He’s a big, friendly bear who’s prone to mishaps. And don’t call me Bungle. I’m still Charlie inside.’

CeCe performs a theatrical nod and she and Yan waddle off, attempting to hold hands through their costumes.

How sweet.

I pull on some suitably cool underwear; my sports bra – not that it’s seen much action in the gym – because it has ventilation holes around the cups and a comfortable pair of cotton knickers. I think my Mum might have bought these for me many years ago. I pull on a pair of greying sports socks which I think once belonged to my brother and decide I will wear my brown ankle boots once I have the costume on.

I start to climb into Bungle. I chose this costume not just because he was a favourite of mine but also because he was tall, like me. By the time I have the body on I am starting to feel hot and bothered and I haven’t even got the head and gloves on yet. Thank God we agreed to turn the heating off; with so many costumes often layered over normal clothes we knew everyone would be hot.

As I am fanning myself my phone pings.

Gen: So so sorry. We can’t make it. Ring me if convenient.

I dial Gen’s number.

‘I’m so sorry,’ she says, sounding as though she is going to cry. ‘We’ve all got d and v. I don’t know if it’s something we’ve eaten, probably the curry Ralph made yesterday with the week-old turkey, or a bug.’

‘Oh no.’ I’m sorry for Gen and also disappointed that my best friend, my partner in criminal dancing, won’t be coming.

‘I’m so pissed off. I won’t get to wear my George outfit.’ Gen was coming as George, the pink hippo-thing out of Rainbow. Ralph had been persuaded to come as Geoffrey, Rainbow’s human presenter, and Gen was preparing to coax him into a blonde mop-like wig and a stripy jumper. He’s a reluctant fancy-dresser, is Ralph.

‘I’m so going to miss you.’ I sound like I’m whinging, because I am. It’s seems that this last week has been all crap and vom.

‘I’m so sorry. It started last night. The kids were first and fourteen-year-old boys are not the best at making it to the loo in time. Honestly, there was shit and puke everywhere. I’m so cross with him. I’ve been washing bedding all damn day. I didn’t start with it until lunchtime. I’m not as bad as Ralph and the kids but I can’t come and infect you and your guests.’

‘Course not. I’m sorry you’re all so ill.’ I am, and Gen is right, she can’t come and infect my guests, but I love partying with her; it takes me back to my youth. ‘I hope you’re better soon,’ I add before we say goodbye.

Great. I’m so sad now. I’ve invited other people, of course, but none is as much fun as Gen. There’s several coming from work, and one of them might be the perpetrator of the dildo-dog-murder for all I know. I wonder if I should attempt to get to the bottom of that or not mention it at all. Who know, with a few drinks in them, someone might confess.

The doorbell ringing means the guests are starting to arrive. I pull on the Bungle head and push my hands into the gloves which give me paws. I examine myself in the mirror through the gauzy eyes. I look quite impressive.

‘Paint your whole world with a Rainbow,’ I sing again as I leave my bedroom, closing the door behind me and wobbling down the stairs to the sitting room.

‘Hi there,’ someone calls and I turn to see a few of the girls from work. They’re dressed as fairies. Incredibly sexy, tiny, cute fairies, their legs on full display beneath their pastel, floaty mini-skirts and their gossamer wings. I’m not sure which TV programme they’re from, but what the hell.

I wave and I feel like a great, big, stupid brown bear. Why didn’t I choose something more glamorous?

Time for wine, I think.

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Little Mishaps and Big Surprises – excerpt from chapter 2

Here’s another excerpt of my new romcom – this one is from chapter two.
The title of the book is now Little Mishaps and Big Surprises. I hope you enjoy this one…

Excerpt from Chapter Two

The M&S food hall is surprisingly empty but I suppose the usual office workers aren’t in here today getting their lunch. Most of the Christmas food has been reduced, which is great for me, I buy a few lovely things I didn’t get before Christmas. But, I cannot find the yummy little chocolate puddings so have to settle for a rather large cheesecake, and cream.

Unlike the food, the wine has not been reduced and when I’ve finished, the fifty pounds Yan gave me isn’t quite enough, I have to add another four pounds. I’ll let him off that.

‘Don’t look at me like that,’ a woman’s voice says as I fumble my goodies into my bags-for-life. I take no notice as I know she isn’t speaking to me and I carry on packing.

‘I said, don’t look at me like that.’ The voice is louder this time and, though her English is good, her accent is more pronounced: Eastern European. Possibly Polish; I work with several Polish people and this woman sounds quite like them.

I’m tempted to look up but her tone is so belligerent that I really don’t want to provoke her. I’ve learned it’s best to keep your head down and walk away in these situations.

‘Hey you,’ she calls again. ‘I know who you are. I know where you live.’

Around me there’s a palpable silence, so, probably like everyone else at the tills, I chance a glance.

She’s staring at me. Right at me and she’s taking steps towards me. Aside from her shouting she looks respectable, she’s early thirties, nicely dressed in smart jeans and warm jacket and she’s carrying an expensive handbag. Very expensive. Her hairstyle suggests she is high maintenance. She’s also very slim and manicured – she’s pointing one purple tipped finger at me.

I should run, I should grab my bags and run.

The purple finger jabs the air in my direction.

I should run, abandon my bags and run.

Nobody else speaks. Not even the check-out operator to whom I have just handed over fifty-four pounds. Sod M&S loyalty points, where is a security guard when you need one?

‘Yes, you,’ she yells again.

Will no one come to my rescue?

‘I don’t know what the fuck he wants in you. Look at you. Big lump.’

Help. I’m frozen to the spot, my fingers clutching my shopping bags which are still resting on the checkout conveyor.

She staggers closer, then closer still.

I smell the familiar perfume of gin on her breath. It’s only twelve-thirty; she must have been at it some time to be this drunk.

She starts to speak and jabs her finger in front of my nose between every word.

‘Don’t,’ jab, ‘you,’ jab, ‘think’, jab…

‘Everything all right, madam?’ A deep voice cuts across her jabbing. A security guard. Hurray. Thank you, M&S, I knew I could rely on you.

I open my mouth to speak but the Eastern European beats me to it.

‘I’m just sorting her. I’m telling her she can’t take a husband and live with it,’ she says, her accent getting stronger with every word.

The guard looks at me.

I shrug. I shake my head. Why should I have to explain myself?

‘Well, keep it down please, madam.’ He offers her a smile.

‘Are you telling me what to do? Who the fuck is you?’

‘Madam, please.’

‘What’s your name? What’s your fucking name? I will report you.’

I should take the opportunity now and go, get out while I can.

Stupid me.

‘Hey,’ I say, trying to diffuse the situation. ‘I don’t know your husband. You’ve got the wrong person.’

She turns her attention back to me; a look of relief passes over the security guard’s face.

‘Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you? Fucking dog.’ Her eyes, and their fake eyelashes, sweep over me as her mouth twists into an ugly shape.

Oh God.

Another step towards me, her head tilted up towards my face and I’m breathing her exhaled gin.

The guard is on his radio but I cannot hear what he’s saying. I’m thinking, hoping, praying that soon this will be over and I will be out of here and on my way home.

‘Fucking dog,’ she yells again.

Then she vomits all over me. It misses my face but only because she’s shorter than me and her head has dropped down, but her vomit covers my coat and my boots.

I find myself gagging at the smell of it.

She falls to the floor, knocking her face against the side of the conveyor best as she falls, her purple-tipped fingers twitching in the air.

The check-out operator rips off several sheets of blue paper roll and thrusts it at me. I attempt to wipe myself down.

Another security guard appears, quickly followed by a first aider. They’re soon calling an ambulance.

I know I should stay. I know they will want me to tell them what happened for their accident book, but I don’t want to get involved. I don’t want to stand here in my vom-covered coat stinking and gagging.

I take my bags and sneak away while the attention is all on Purple-tips. I justify my escape by convincing myself that there are enough people there to help.

I should have run away in the beginning.

Please excuse any errors, typos etc, and remember to come back soon for another excerpt.

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I’m writing a new RomCom – excerpt from chapter 1

I’m excited to announce I’m writing a new romantic comedy. This one is currently titled Roses and Lemonade.

In this excerpt from chapter 1, the main character, Charlie, is unwrapping her Secret Santa present from work while her family watch on – with disastrous results…

Excerpt from chapter 1:

All eyes were on me as I slowly unwrapped the package. I wanted to delay the moment when everyone groaned – which was guaranteed. I’d warned them it would be something cheesy, I explained that it was my Secret Santa from work, so they knew what to expect.

I removed the wrapping paper to find an innocuous box. I slowly screwed up the paper and tossed it towards the bin bag that Dad had brought in to collect all the rubbish.

‘Auntie Charlie,’ whinged Kiki.

I grinned as I slowly opened the box, lifting the lid and discarding it.

‘What’s that?’ Kiki asked as an eight-inch dildo slid out of the bottom of the box.

‘Oh my God,’ I yelled, scrabbling to catch it before it hit the floor. But I didn’t. It was Herman who, having slumbered in the corner most of the day had suddenly come to life. He clamped the dildo between his teeth and it began to vibrate.

Joe, jumping up, tried to wrestle it from Herman’s jaws. Marlene started hitting Herman across the back and shouting ‘drop, drop.’ But Herman wasn’t letting go of his prize.

‘Is it for Herman, Auntie Charlie?’ Kiki’s innocent voice filled a temporary silence. ‘That’s nice of your friends to think of him.’

‘What’s he got? What is it?’ asked Dad who hadn’t seen it properly before Herman got his jaws around it. ‘Is it a bone?’

I shouldn’t have laughed, I know, but I couldn’t help it.

While I laughed, Marlene and Joe wrestled Herman, Dad and Kiki looked on bemused; but it was Mum and Ben’s reaction which was priceless.

‘Disgusting,’ said Ben, who at eleven evidently knew what he was looking at. ‘You’re an old person.’ He shook his head at me and blushed.

I cringed with shame.

‘Charlene,’ shouted Mum. Oh dear, she was using my full name, my telling off name. ‘Do something.’

I jumped up and between the three of us, my brother, his wife and I, we bundled Herman into the kitchen and Joe finally got the dildo out of his dog’s mouth. He handed it – covered in Herman’s drool – back to me.

I stepped back. ‘No thanks.’

‘Okay.’ Joe flung it at the bin but Herman leapt into the air and caught it as it flew past him.

It was Marlene who tempted him to drop it a second time with the lure of a mince pie or two.

‘I thought he wasn’t supposed to have rich food,’ I said to Marlene once the furore had died down, the dildo was finally in the bin and Herman was on his third mince pie.

‘He’s not supposed to eat plastic and batteries either,’ she spat at me. ‘But he would have.’ She shook her head in disgust as we slinked back to the sitting room so the kids could open their final presents.

‘It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t buy it,’ I snapped back as I sat down.

‘That’s enough, Charlene,’ Mum said, as though I were a child.

Everything after that was an anti-climax – excuse the pun. We ate and drank more than we needed or wanted and slept in front of the TV until bedtime. Joe and I did manage a sly snigger about it in the kitchen when we were making coffee but other than that no one mentioned Herman and the dildo again.

That was Christmas day, done and over for another year. I was tired and even Herman’s snoring from the annex kitchenette didn’t keep me awake. But his howling woke me up from the deepest, sweetest sleep.

‘Shut up, Herman,’ I yelled through the wall.

He howled more. It went on and on and I waited for Joe or Marlene to come and sort him out. But no one came even when the howling got louder.

Finally, I hauled myself out of bed and yanked open my bedroom door.

The smell nearly knocked me off my feet.

I flicked the light on and Herman stopped howling, instead wagging his tail in delight at seeing me. He’d had diarrhoea all over the kitchenette; thank God the floor was tiled and not carpeted.

‘Urgh,’ I gagged putting my hand over my mouth and nose. I could taste it.

Herman seemed to take this as invitation to jump up at me, knocking me over. I slipped in his mess and he had obviously paddled in it because I had poo paw prints down the front of my brand-new pyjamas.

‘You’ve ruined my new pyjamas,’ I screeched. ‘You big shit.’

Herman hung his head in shame and started whining.

Clambering to my feet, stumbling and slipping on the dog diarrhoea, I flicked open the bathroom door and nudged Herman inside. Luckily, the bathroom is a wet room, specially kitted out for Granny Suze, and as I sprayed Herman’s feet and his backside clean, I also peeled off my pyjamas before taking a quick shower too. Mum had put dark towels in the bathroom for me, and after drying myself and Herman I used them to mop up his mess in the kitchenette while he yelped in the bathroom.

Mum uses the annex kitchenette as a makeshift laundry room, which was particularly helpful as I loaded my pyjamas and the towels, as well as Herman’s sleeping blanket into the washing machine and set it going on the hot wash.

He whined a bit when I let him out of the bathroom but that was mainly because his beloved blanket had gone, but after a good sniff around he settled himself down to sleep and I was able to go back to bed. After tossing and turning, I finally managed to get back to sleep even though the stench of dog diarrhoea lingered in my nose.

When I told Marlene about it all the next day she had no sympathy but made a face which screamed serves you right, raising her eyebrows and half smirking at me, as though it was my fault.

‘Marlene seems to be blaming me for your dog shitting everywhere last night,’ I told Joe when he took Herman out and I went with him.

‘Yeah. Just ignore her.’ Joe laughed.

‘It’s not funny. I had to wash all that lot in the night and then again in the morning after Mum declared them not clean enough. The tumble dryer’s on full pelt now. My lovely new pyjamas were in there too. I fell in the shit; I had to have a shower in the night.’ I was really annoyed with everyone for not taking this as seriously as I thought they should. No one had apologised or empathised.

‘How’s work?’ Joe said, changing the subject.

‘Yeah. Fine. You?’

‘Yeah. Same. You working between Christmas and New Year?’

‘Yes,’ I said, smiling. We both knew I wasn’t but I always tell Mum and Dad that I am so I can make an early escape.

‘I wanted to leave early but Marlene wants to stay for New Year.’

‘That’s so she can sit on her arse while Mum waits on her.’ I said this laughing and Joe joined in but we both knew it was the truth.

When we got back Mum had folded all the dry towels and left my pyjamas on my bed. I held them up to me; they had shrunk and the colour had faded.

‘Shit bag,’ I muttered under my breath.

‘Who is?’ Kiki’s little voice came from behind me.

‘Oh nothing. Shall we have a go at that crochet kit Nanny bought you?’ I’m crap at crafts so it would be as much of a learning experience for me as Kiki.

‘No. I don’t really like that sort of stuff. Can I play with your makeup instead?’

An hour later Kiki and I both looked like clowns and Marlene’s pinched face when she saw us made me laugh in her face.

‘I’ll never get that off,’ she hissed.

‘At least it doesn’t stink like dog shit,’ I whispered out of Kiki’s earshot.

‘Ha bloody ha. Come on Kiki, bathroom.’

Boxing Day dragged on. Too much food, too much time together. Marlene, once she’d cleaned Kiki’s face, wanted to go through the exercises she had prepared for me. To keep the peace, I obliged in the sitting room while Mum gave helpful hints and Dad kept dodging from side to side in an attempt to watch The Great Escape on TV. He’s seen it so many times he must know it off by heart.

A reluctant Herman was dragged around the block before bed in an effort to ensure that there wouldn’t be repeat of the previous night. I told Joe that if there was they would be cleaning it up themselves. All six of my nearest and dearest had insisted that they never heard Herman howling. How convenient.

I wore my – by then – very snug, new PJs and went to bed early. Herman, bless him, didn’t disturb me at all, neither howling nor snoring. I had a blissful night’s sleep.

It was daylight when I awoke, rested and happy and not just because I’d slept well, but because I was going home, my home, London. Mum had mentioned something about lunch but I’d told her I needed to get back early and was catching a train around eleven. I’d already persuaded Joe to take me to the station, so Mum couldn’t delay my journey. And, I’d checked the live departure boards on my phone and a train was definitely running, not a coach replacement, not at that time.

I showered and dressed and packed my wheelie-case ready to go home. I assumed that one of the kids had taken Herman into the main house because I still hadn’t heard a peep from him. Only as I opened the door into the kitchenette did I see that he was still there.

‘Hey, poo poo,’ I joked, nudging him with my foot, ‘wakey, wakey.’

Herman didn’t grunt his disapproval, or snore or even acknowledge my toe poke. Herman didn’t move.

I stood over his inert body for several minutes willing him to wake up. Deep down, I knew he wouldn’t.

As usual, please excuse any errors, typos, etc.
Look out for the next excerpt – coming soon.

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