Me, Agatha and The Snow….

I can hardly believe it was only two weeks ago that myself and four very talented ladies got together for the most magical of experiences. The occasion was a writing retreat, but my lovelies, this was not just any writing retreat. This was a magical adventure, held in the most magical of places.

Heartfelt thanks go to Rosie Longstocking from Greenacre writers who organised the retreat. We were treated to four days at Agatha Christie’s summer home – Greenway in Devon. Yes, that is what I said, I stayed at Agatha Christie’s summer home!!

My goal was to complete the first full edit of my historical thriller and to tighten and rework the first few pages.

Having never met the other writers I was apprehensive. In the days leading up to the retreat, I wondered why I had been so cavalier in signing up, but as they say, he who dares and all that. Maybe I am not as introverted as I like to think!

My worries soon disappeared on meeting these fine ladies. They were funny, friendly, and oh my, so talented!

We shared meals, taking it in turns to cook (who knew you couldn’t make rice pudding with Basmati rice??). The rest of the time was self-directed.

What followed were periods of procrastination involving – long walks, visits to the boathouse, a scoot around Agatha’s house, another visit to the boathouse, discussions concerning impending snow, attempting to find a phone signal, yet another visit to the boathouse – you get the picture… until….. finally…. I began to write!

It worked! Whether it was Agatha sending me good vibes, the wonderful company, or the location I know not. What I do know is that it was my perfect storm – I wrote my heart out. I was spurred on by receiving news that one of my short stories had been shortlisted in The Fiction Factory short story competition.

I can happily report that my edit got completed and my pages got tightened (nowhere else will you ever hear me say those words). And here’s the best bit ….. it was fun!

Between us, we created an environment that was supportive, encouraging and creative…. I think Agatha would have been pleased. Her sanctuary for those few days also became ours, and we flourished.

Highlights included:

Episodes of Poirot

The Boathouse


Stunning views

Laughing a lot

Playing story cubes after several sherbets!

Reading with the girls

Writing some more



Finding Ingrid in the bathroom writing!


Making lists


Continuing to write

Ladies in the gift shop


Got ya! There were no murders, well not real ones!

There really were so many special moments.

Our adventure continued when we came to depart. As had been predicted, the snow came. A frantic half hour ensued. We debated whether or not to ‘wait and see’ and risk getting snowed in, or to depart. I think it was Agatha’s way of trying to keep us there… ‘Five Get Snowed in at Greenway’… Logic got the better of us and we left. The snow continued to fall… heavily, and so began the long haul back to our own worlds. We got stuck on a snowy hill, stuck trying to leave Torquay (roads closed due to snow), snow, snow and more snow fell. Thankfully we all made it home safe and sound.

Jane Lomas, Rosie Longstocking, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Michelle Cunnah – you ladies rock!

To coin a phrase – It really was the best of times!

Five Go to Greenway…. there needs to be a sequel!

Photos courtesy of: Rosie Longstocking, Jane Lomas and Nicole Fitton
View from the path


Karma Camillias…

Agatha’s House Greenway. My room is top right with the window slightly open.
Spot the difference! The first fluttering of snow!
The famous Boathouse
Room with a view
Murder… did someone mention murder? Our living room.
View from my room…
Me and Jane, Jane and me and a very big window!
The lady herself!
Here come the girls

Tuesday Spotlight… Meet The Cast ~ Casualty of Court by L.S.Fellows

A few weeks ago I featured friend and fellow mystery writer Lynne Fellows and her new release ‘Casualty of Court’. Today we are getting a front row seat and meeting the cast. Buckle up, it may be a bumpy ride! Take it away Lynne:

LF: This shorty links the prequel to the bigger story and offers an insight into what each character wants from the upcoming trial.

Continue reading “Tuesday Spotlight… Meet The Cast ~ Casualty of Court by L.S.Fellows”

Saturday Spotlight ~ Cruise Control by Melanie Jackson

Aha me hearties!!! Today I be bringing you some pieces of eight in bookish form. So, am I trying to channel Blackbeard himself? Er… no! Today, in a change from my usual features, I’d like to draw your attention to my friend and fellow author Melanie Jackson and her book ‘Cruise Control 2018’. It is packed full of top tips for sailing the seven seas. Unlike pirates of old, there will be no walking the plank and no swashbuckling, but rest assured, there be plenty of treasure!

NF: A very warm welcome Mel, thanks for joining me today. Being a fan of cruise holidays I was very pleased to find your book ‘Cruise Control 2018’, in fact, I took the previous version on holiday last year. It really is packed full of valuable advice. What was the inspiration behind it?

MJ: When we decided to go on our first cruise holiday, I searched for a book that would help me to understand the in’s and out of cruising. At the time, I found lots of choice with regard to where to go, what type of cruise to pick etc. yet very little in the way of helpful tips. I’m very much a ‘If you want something done do it yourself’ person, so writing ‘Cruise Control’ was a natural progression.

NF: I hear you, I too am that type of person. I have read and used your book. There really are some great tips in it. How do you decide which ones should feature in the book?

MJ: Thanks, Nicole, I’m chuffed you found it useful. My rule of thumb is simple. Cruising is expensive, everywhere you look on a ship it costs you money. If I discover something that has the potential to save money, it goes in the book. If you’ve never been on a cruise before you’d never know about these gems. What I’ve tried to do, is offer small tricks and tips I’ve picked up along the way, that save you a few pounds. I haven’t written reams and reams, it’s a small book that packs a good helpful punch.

NF: Well it worked for me! I really found it insightful and funny, you made me laugh quite a lot throughout. Are there any tips you’ve discovered recently that aren’t in the book that you’d care to share with us?

MJ: Absolutely, that’s the joy of cruising, there is always something new around the corner. I try to update the book at least once a year. Emm… OK, a new tip you say? Well, recently I discovered the most amazing curry on our cruise ship. It wasn’t on the dinner menu, but most of the crew were from India and the chef (who was also Indian) would cook authentic food for them. I discovered that there is ‘staff’ food’ and ‘guest food’. We got friendly with our waiter and asked if we could have the curry the staff had that evening. It was amazing. What the crew eats, is usually determined by the nationality of the chef, we lucked out. I have been on many cruises and never knew that before.

NF: Brilliant tip, thanks Mel, I never knew that either! Good luck with ‘Cruise Control 2018’ and here’s wishing you many more wonderful cruises!

MJ: Many thanks for having me Nicole, and thank you for the kind words. Happy cruising!

Mel’s book ‘Cruise Control 2018’ is available here as both an ebook and a paperback: