How do you know when your relationship is over?

How do you know when your relationship is over? What does your partner have to do to make you finally realise it’s completely dead in the water and you need to get out? Sometimes it takes a long time to really put everything into perspective. When we’re in a relationship we’re living in a fug, a kind of haze and it becomes a normal state for us to be in. In other words we can no longer see the wood for the trees. All the advice from friends won’t jolt us into making a decision. We’ve listened to so many people we’re completely muddled. We’re just waiting for something to change; something to finally give us the push.

I’ve got plenty of experience in the department of breaking up. My dad had lots of affairs when I was growing up. It’s a fact. He’s not proud of it and had many regrets after her death. It always seemed simple to me. He was treating her badly but still she stayed. She finally filed for divorce when his latest woman became pregnant. Many other women stay despite being beaten up on many occasions.I got divorced but found it extremely hard to make the decision to end things. Nobody wants to give up after all. Since then I’ve had two further long relationships, both have which have ended in tears!

My second novel ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’ reflects the struggle women often have in ending a relationship. Darius the main character is very nasty, mainly verbally abusive. He can’t hold his tongue. He has enough demons of his own and takes it out on Faye. Their relationship is a classic example of how sex, or lack of it isn’t always an indication that the relationship is over. They still enjoy sex, lust after each other’s bodies even after he says some pretty awful things. But that’s life. Sometimes we stay until the bitter end, until we’re ground down into the gutter. Faye certainly did.

Lack of communication isn’t always a good indication things are over. Some couples, like Darius and Faye open up and tell each other their deepest emotions, raw and hurtful at times but they can still tell each other what is wrong so you’d think they could work it out but they can’t. The circumstances of life, in their case has got in the way.

Extreme boredom can spell the death knell of your relationship. It creeps up gradually, it’s insidious. You don’t know when the boredom started, you don’t know why but suddenly there you both are on the sofa watching TV but ignoring each other. Faye in The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish had her own routine. She never even joined him on the sofa to watch TV even when things were great. She liked to go to bed early to read a book. That must have been isolating for Darius. People get stuck in their ways when they live together particularly if they are older and have lived a long time alone.

It’s often the small things your partner does that spells the end. In ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’ Faye’s relationship with Shayne ended in this vein. One day she was telling a friend ‘I can’t stand the way he eats, the way he coughs, the way he breathes.’ The friend replied ‘If you can’t stand the way he breathes it really is the end.’ All the little irritations are amplified when you’ve fallen out of love with someone and you’re not going to be able to turn things around if you’ve reached this level.

Are you planning a future alone? That’s a sure sign it’s come to an end. Darius started planning where he was going to live next. He even told Faye! She started planning her next move. They shared this information, they knew they were heading in different directions and yet they still had sex! Sex can be a great comfort when you’re breaking up. It’s a way of grieving. It helps you both confront and come to terms with what is happening but don’t be deceived into thinking you’re ok because you’re probably not. It is still over.
Are you bored with day to day chat? That an indication it’s over but Darius and Faye still chatted and she found him extremely interesting; he was very intelligent and knowledgeable, even though he was totally the wrong person for her.

So… it’s not so simple is it? Maybe if you read ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’ you’ll see what I mean. Here’s the link:

First person or Third person

I’m 40,000 words into my next novel which is a saga about a family holiday to America. It’s based on the copious notes I made when I went to Salt Lake City, Yellowstone and Las Vagas last year. I won’t give the plot line away at this stage but I wanted to let you read the first chapter. I began writing the story in third person because that is what I’ve always done and am most familiar with. However it feels too clunky and acts as a break on pushing the story forward. I decided to re write the first chapter in the first person. You can see both versions below and how they differ. I think first person sounds crisper, punchier and gets inside the protagonist’s head and their feelings can be explored in greater depth than third person. It puts the reader in the moment, is immediate and means you don’t have to keep writing she thought, he felt, she wondered, etc. I think first person will give me much more scope. This is the third edit – no doubt it will be rewritten again several more times but it gives you can idea of the difference between third and first person.

1. First person.

Chapter 1 of Book 4

‘Doesn’t Daddy love me?’
It’s a question no child should have to ask. Poor kid. She’s asked it so many times and I’m tired of fobbing her off with my lame answers. ‘He can’t cope with three kids. When you’re older you can stay over.’ I can’t respond with the truth; that actually daddy didn’t want you. That he denied your existence for nine months and your arrival was the final straw in our relationship. The truth hurts at any age but Felicity is only eleven. She needs protecting and it’s down to me to do that. Terry can’t see how cruel he’s being. I’ve never told him she asks this but I’ve been tempted on many occasions, but there would be no point. We’d become embroiled in an argument that should have happened eleven years ago. He’s an ex, out of my life for good reason. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve tried to crawl inside his head and see things from his point of view. I wonder if he’s done the same with me. But even after all this time I can’t work him out. He only thinks of himself and what suits him, never mind other people’s feelings.
Felicity is standing by my bedside holding a birthday card. I slither up the bed. The sun is streaming through my curtains and the damn birds – they have a lot to answer for in all of this – are in full orchestra outside. I smile when I see the red heart she’s drawn on the envelope. I squeeze her hand and tell her I love her. At least one parent does. She seems taller today. Maybe it’s her new haircut.
I’m glad I’m not celebrating my big five 0 with Terry. If we were still together he’d leave me feeling disappointed by taking me to the garden centre for the £1.99 five -piece breakfast consisting of egg, bacon, black pudding, fried bread and mushroom and probably present me with a Boots gift voucher. Then we’d go for a walk round Knole Park to look at the deers because it would be what he wanted to do not what I wanted to do. At my age I need sophistication. I need a romantic weekend in Paris or a three course dinner in the Chandelier restaurant at The Spa Hotel. It’s never going to happen though. Men are mean these days and expect us to go halves. Chivalry is well and truly dead. And I’m a big cynic.
I tear open the card. Seeing the number emblazoned in silver makes me feel suddenly terribly old. I don’t remember feeling like this at forty or thirty. I was alone on my fortieth but on my thirtieth Terry bought me a bird table for the garden with a big lump of lard to stick seeds on. He has this way of making women feel very special, not.
Today it suddenly feels as if most of my life is gone. Time is running out. Goals need to be achieved and dreams fulfilled. Something in my life has to change.
‘Give me a kiss.’
Felicity bends down and I breathe in the sweet smell of strawberry lipgloss.
‘Happy birthday mummy.’
‘Thank you darling.’
‘What does it feel like to be so old?’
I frown. She’s blunt but it’s a good question. Internally I ask the question, how do I feel?
‘It’s as if I’ve reached the top of a mountain. Everything is in perspective. I can see in all directions. I’m not going to learn any new tricks. I can remember how I felt at your age and Mel and Brett’s age because you’re all older too and I can remember my parents and how they were at my age. It doesn’t seem long ago that I was your age and it doesn’t seem long ago that my parents were my age. It’s a weird feeling. Does that make sense?’
‘Sort of.’
I can feel tears prick. I feel emotional. This is the first birthday I have woken up to feeling oddly different. I snap out of my malaise and address the day.
‘You better get dressed. Elsie’s mum’s picking you up soon.’
‘I don’t want to go to Elsie’s. I want to go to Daddy’s house. They get to go for the whole weekend.’
Her eyes are wet. We’re both crying.
‘It’s been arranged now darling.’ My voice is breaking. I want her to spend time with Terry. My heart aches for her. He’s her dad, her flesh and blood and it shouldn’t be like this.
‘What are you doing while I’m there?’
‘But it’s your birthday. We should go out somewhere.’
I don’t want to celebrate, but I don’t tell her this. I want to pretend it’s not my birthday and let the day gently disappear in a cloud of hoover dust and soap suds. I could drink myself to oblivion with gin and tonic but I’m not a big drinker and they don’t call it the mother’s ruin for nothing.
‘I tell you what, when you get back I’ll have a surprise for you. Promise.’
I surprise myself by saying this. I hadn’t intended to blurt that out. That means I’m committed now, to the idea that’s been worming around my head all night. I’m going to book a holiday. A holiday would be the perfect way to make fifty a year to remember. My life shouldn’t be like this at fifty. I should be with a new man by now. My life is drifting along with no purpose or direction. In ten years of dating I can honestly say that nothing of any note has plopped into my net. Every new man I meet it’s like the film Groundhog Day. I’ve repeated the process so many times that I’ve lost count. We email for weeks, meet, go through the whole charade of finding out about each other and then they lose interest or I do. The amount of time I’ve invested in internet dating I should have found Mr. Right by now. I should be walking the pathway into old age hand in hand, sailing into the sunset on the deck of Fred Olsen, going to London shows and playing Monopoly with friends over Green Tea roasted salmon or some other fancy dish on Jamie Oliver’s website.
Felicity goes to get dressed. I reach for my phone and switch it on. There’s a solitary email from an overweight baldie on a motorbike with a snake tattoo weaving up his arm and pock marked skin.
‘Jesus.’ I flop back onto the pillow. Give me strength. I deserve a gold medal for the Triathlon Of Life: raising three children alone, dating over a hundred losers and being a member of the downtrodden care workforce earning a paltry £6.70 an hour. But I’ve got a bit of money tucked aside and with some extra shifts I can afford to give those kids a treat. God knows, Terry will never do it.

Third Person

Chapter 1 of Book 4

‘Doesn’t Daddy love me?’
The question woke Lyn and she turned in the half light, to see Felicity at her bedside, a forlorn look on her face and clutching a birthday card. Inching up the bed she reached for her daughter’s small hand and gave it a squeeze.
No child should have to ask this question thought Lyn. No child should doubt the love of its parents. If Terry showed an interest in his daughter she wouldn’t be asking the question.
She couldn’t respond with the truth; daddy didn’t want you. He denied your existence for nine months and your arrival was the final straw in the relationship. The truth hurt at any age but Felicity was only eleven. Lyn didn’t know what was in Terry’s head and how he truly felt about his youngest child. He was a mixed up character and Lyn knew she was well shot of him. She’d done her penance, spent twenty years working him out, trying to change him, but leopards weren’t for changing. She’d tried and failed to get him to put family first.
‘Oh darling. Of course he does.’
‘Then why do I never go to stay with him? They do.’
It was a perfectly reasonable question and jarred Lyn every time she asked it. When she was younger it was easier to fob her off with lame reasoning like ‘Daddy’s not very good with toddlers.’ Or, ‘when you’re older you can go to his house.’ But now that she was older the excuses had shifted, meandering into new ones as Lyn thought of more credible reasons as to why Terry didn’t want to see his youngest daughter, beyond a couple of snatched hours at the end of access weekend. Mel and Brett had regularly stayed over at his house, a few miles away, from Friday evening through to Sunday evening for the past eleven years. Now that Mel was at university Brett went alone and this provided Lyn with a fresh, more believable excuse.
‘You wouldn’t like it darling. They do boy stuff. You’d be bored.’
‘No I wouldn’t.’
‘We’ll see. I’ll have a word with Daddy.’
Felicity handed Lyn her card. Seeing the number fifty emblazoned in silver on a white background made Lyn feel suddenly very old. She didn’t remember feeling like this at forty or thirty. Most of my life is gone she thought to herself. Time is running out. Goals need to be achieved. Dreams fulfilled.
‘Give me a kiss.’
Felicity bent down and Lyn breathed in the sweet smell of strawberry lipgloss.
‘Happy birthday mummy.’
‘You better get dressed. Elsie’s mum’s picking you up soon.’
‘I don’t want to go to Elsie’s. I want to go to Daddy’s house.’
Tears sprung to her eyes.
‘It’s been arranged now darling.’
‘What are you doing while I’m there?’
‘But it’s your birthday. We should go out somewhere.’
‘I tell you what, when you get back I’ll have a surprise for you. Promise.’
An idea had been worming around Lyn’s head during the night. A holiday would be the perfect way to make fifty a year to remember. She’d always told herself that she was going to write a book by the time she was fifty and menopause brained. An idea came to her. I’ll write a travel book based on the holiday. That’s what I’ll do.
Her life wasn’t supposed to be like this at fifty. Apart from writing a book – any book as longer as she could see her name in print and sold on Amazon – the other plan had been to find the ideal partner by the time she reached fifty. They’d walk the pathway into old age hand in hand, sailing into the sunset on the deck of Fred Olsen, going to London shows and playing Monopoly with friends over Green Tea roasted salmon or some other fancy dish on Jamie Oliver’s website.
Felicity went to get dressed. Lyn reached for her phone and switched it on. There was a solitary email from an overweight baldie on a motorbike with a snake tattoo weaving up his arm and pock marked skin.
‘Jesus,’ she muttered flopping back onto the pillow. ‘Give me strength. I deserve a gold medal for the Triathlon Of Life: raising three children alone, dating over a hundred losers on dating sites over the course of a decade and being a member of the downtrodden care workforce for the best part of thirty years.’

I have two books published. Both are family and relationship sagas. Here are the links:


Why people write.


I often get asked why I write. Strange question don’t you think? I don’t get asked why I had children or why I bought a house. Why do people write? What drives authors to write a novel? On Radio 4 this morning it was suggested that we all have words buzzing round our heads. Some people have imaginary characters talking to each other in their heads. I don’t have words in my head as you might expect a writer to have but I have pictures and images instead. I have visions of people doing different things, conversing with each other. They are usually people I know. These characters develop personalities based upon things that are happening in real life and past experiences. A story develops in your head that needs to be written down. To my mind writing is just an extension of  day -dreaming. I write because I’m a day dreamer. I think I must have been born a day dreamer. I was a child prodigy in the art of day dreaming. I’m locked in my own private world most of the time and prefer this world. My headmistress told my parents I was a dreamy girl who sat staring out of the window all day. Even now as an adult I’m a dreamer. I love people but I think I’m an introvert rather than an extrovert on balance. I will go to parties, pubs, peoples’ house but I look forward to coming home to read a book in the silence of my own company. When I’m surrounded by other people I find myself drifting off into my own world and my friends and family start asking ‘did you even hear what I just said?’ The truth is no I wasn’t listening, because I’m more interested in the creative world in my head.


The best time of the day is when I’m in a half asleep state in bed at 5am. Words and scenes filter subliminally into my head and I reach over for the pen and paper always by my bed. By the time I get up I’ve written the opening scene of the next chapter. Those first words of the day are crisp and mature, rather like the first coffee and polluted by many other thoughts. It’s rather like being under hypnosis. The other most productive occasions are when I’m driving and my music, usually Coldplay or James Blunt filters through my consciousness and it conjures up pictures of scenes and scenarios they end up on paper.


I write because writing is an escape route for my day dreams but also I write because I want to tell my story. When a dramatic thing happens in my life I need to write about it. It’s cathartic, therapeutic and helps me to explore my feelings in greater depth. I began writing 21 years ago documenting the story of my first child’s death. I wanted this piece of writing to help other women who had lost babies. I wove the story into my book ‘Every Family Has One.’ Also woven into the story is the drama surrounding one of my family member’s mental health issues. I wanted to highlight my concerns regarding teenagers spending so much time locked away in their bedrooms and I wanted to open up my heart to an audience about how it felt and what I did when I discovered my son was taking cannabis. Many parents in today’s world are lost, powerless about how to help their teenagers cope with modern life and focus on some goals. Parents don’t know who to turn to, who to ask for help. I hope ‘Every Family Has One’ goes some way towards pointing parents in the right direction but also I want it to help health professionals see the shortcomings in the mental health system, education system and careers advice services. Teenagers aren’t always getting the help they need.


‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’ is based on a relationship with a man I met on the internet. Our first date was in Brighton. I found myself writing about the journey to Brighton that day, on the train and after the date I wrote about the date and printed out our emails. The deeper the relationship became the more interested I became in writing about it. I was living the relationship but also living in a parallel relationship with him asking myself what if that happened and what if this happened? In my day dreams I changed the circumstances and issues. I became obsessed by writing about us. I even paused during love making to write notes for a sex scene! The scenes in Venice, Rome, Ireland, Dubai and Jordan were written from detailed notes I took when I travelled to these places. Instead of taking pictures I write notes about what it feels like to be in these places.


When you read one of my books (and my next book is based on my travel around America with my ungrateful children combined with a family saga) what you are ultimately getting is access to my own private thoughts. My books are a window into my soul. If you have voices in your head why not carry a notebook around with you so that you can write about the conversations your characters have?


Links to my books: