Pull up a Sandbag – Part One. ‘Italians in Iraq’

Anyone who has read the ‘about me’ section of this blog knows that I served eleven and a half years in the Royal Air Force.

In my wisdom I’ve decided I have too many unconnected stories in my head to ignore. They have to come out.

So, this is it, the memoirs of my time served.

So, there I was, single (or unmarried for want of a better word). In the hot desert of Basrah, Iraq. It was 2005 and if I’m entirely honest I was happy to be there. I have always loved the heat and being on tour. Especially a tour where alcohol was being served.

I was lonely and distraught because some Royal Navy wanker dumped me a month into my tour. My Army comrade mopped my wine drenched, pathetic ‘ditched on tour…I thought I was beautiful’ tears, when a group of Italian soldiers descended on The Toucan Bar. Two can rule…Toucan bar, get it? Well, never mind.

They swaggered over to the bar, my Army friends eyes lit up. I personally was uninterested by the rippling hot arrival of our European brothers in arms, but I thought I owed my Army friend a favour by at least attempting to act enthusiastically towards our rather sun kissed, muscled allies.

One of the more desperate ones immediately sidled up up to my rather heavy set manly looking mate whilst I commented that his friend looked somewhat like Sylvester Stallone. I am a huge ‘Rocky’ fan, I also relayed that information at the same time.

The Sly lookalike (he really did look like him) relished in my compliments. A little too much perhaps. So I added that if there was one thing I hated it was facial hair.

The Sly lookalike mused his beard and explained that he needed it to guard his face from the rays of the bright Iraqi sun. I agreed wholeheartedly that that was great for him and I understood his reasoning for the beard but that I didn’t find facial hair attractive in the slightest.

I left the Toucan bar that night entirely satisfied that I persuaded the Italian hunk that I wasn’t attracted to him at all.

My Army counterpart had arranged for her and I to be taken to a pizza night over at the Italian part of Basrah camp the following evening.

It was official, I was ‘taking one for the team’.

I was still wallowing in my own self-pity and wanted nothing less than to be surrounded by a bunch of self-serving Italian ‘I love me…who do you love’ twats. The way they held themselves said it all.

The next evening came, after a day at work where my colleagues told me how wine was served at breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Italian mess. I started to feel more comfortable about the encounter the coming night. If theres so much wine it wouldn’t be too bad, I thought…

Might even be worth it?

So, my eager Army mate and I went to the ‘Toucan Bar’ with our BIA (Basrah International Airport) Alcohol Ration Cards, (There is a whole blog post about those coming up), and waited for the slimy Italians to show up.

I was busy chatting to a colleague when it seemed that the air stilled and silence descended on the bar.

The only thing I heard was a giggle eliciting my Army friends lips swiftly followed by the word “Fuck.”

I looked towards the entrance, it was filled with two rather bulky looking Italians. There had been more the previous night, it was obvious to me that these two had staked their claim on us Brits…

One did look vaguely familiar.

More like Sylvester Stallone than ever.

The silly bugger had only gone and shaved his bloody beard off!

My Army friend, of course, thought it was absolutely hilarious. She knew I wanted nothing to do with it. So she was extremely lucky that I went to the Italian camp with her that night.

We were the only us two females amongst a sea of about seventy to eighty Italian soldiers that night. My mate lapped the attention up (bless her) whilst I spent the evening getting as pissed as possible on free wine that wasn’t rationed and dodging the unwanted attention of the Italians.

I’m pleased to say I was relatively unscathed by that particular experience. I say relatively because I spent the day in the walk in fridge trying not to be sick. The now beardless, ‘all for me’, Italian, I hoped had learnt his lesson.

My Army friend was a little less lucky. She started seeing one of them. She didn’t speak Italian and he spoke very little English…that only left one thing for them to do when they were together.

Sadly, she invited him over to The Toucan Bar one night. He disappeared, she eventually found him spearing one of the girls who lived in our tent with us…awkward! 

Cover reveal for ‘Falling to Pieces’

I did my cover reveal a while ago, this is for those who missed it:

As with any author, my cover was so important to me. I can be quite fickle, *hee hee*, and I’ve judged many a book by it’s cover. After all, isn’t it appearances that drive us as consumers to pick it up in the first place?


I stumbled across a FaceBook page called Cover It Designs!. The owner, Arijana was running a competition to win a cover design amongst other things.


I’m habitually unlucky, but having checked out her designs on the page and on her website I made a snap decision that she was the cover designer for me.


Alas, I didn’t win the competition. I started to stalk her page and website…ok, that had started straight away. I’d sit there salivating over her covers, pre-designed and already owned.


I just had to have her…


And so our task began. We selected three photographs together from stock photos. I sent her several ‘could be Marc’s’ and one ‘could be Teagan’. I was rather merry after a fun session of checking out half naked male models whilst sipping delicious rose wine. Well, maybe not sipping, more like guzzling.


The next morning Arijana messaged me – ‘I hate this thing I have created.’

I immediately dismissed the message knowing that she has a dislike for ‘busy’ covers.


When I received it was like someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over me.


I hated it…


I looked at the woman that I’d selected as Teagan. She was all wrong. She was like a cheap version of her…I must have been more than tipsy to have chosen that woman. It was like I had dressed my beautiful children in cloth sacks whilst gorgeous clothes remained in the wardrobe.


I set to work having realised I was looking for someone very specific. I loved the rest of the cover, so I searched for a girl who would fit with the image in my mind as well the rest of the cover.


Eventually, I found the right image. She was beautiful, no doubt, but she needed work. Poor Arijana spent hours fiddling with the image, responding to each request, faultlessly sculpting the female’s image until it was one that was good enough to be called ‘Teagan’.


When she sent me the final image I’m unashamed to say I cried. My hands shook for an hour and I stared at it for several hours…ok, seven hours in total.


I’ll never be able to comment on how other cover designers work because I’ve found the perfect one for me. The one that will work relentlessly to give me what I want and what my characters deserve.


Without further ado….





The projected release date for ‘Falling to Pieces’ is the 15th of August 2013.


Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads list:



You can connect with the author at:







…on Plagiarism and Disgust

Just absolutely shocking. I can’t believe it!

Adventures of a Caribbean Girl... who writes!

I am angry,

I am very angry.

I am blowing a gasket, a fuse or any of the other metaphors you can come up with for red with anger. I chuckle at this as I can’t technically turn red since I’m black but you get the point.


This evening started off pretty well. I’m still working on my practice writing in an attempt to propel my Muse from her awkward teenage, acne-filled, bracing wearing years to a more mature young adult when Laurell K Hamilton retweeted a tweet that stopped me dead in my tracks. The original tweet was made by Lorelei James who complained of someone , Alison Gilmore, passing off one of her books published in 2009 as their own. Alison used a website to upload the book one chapter at a time. She was originally a member of http://www.fanfiction.net where she stated she was writing One…

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An Interview With Teagan (a vampire)

An awesome interview with the main character from my debut novel ‘Falling to Pieces’…


On a recent trip to the UK, I sat in a pub called the Red Lion. It was a pretty cool evening, around 65 degrees. I’d just placed my pint of cider (an alcoholic drink made from apples) on the table near me, and took off my jacket, when I noticed a young woman enter. She was about 5’4″, or maybe 5’5″. Long, red hair shimmered in the dim light. She’s very curvy and her ample bosom stretched her white vest so much I wondered how the buttons stayed on. Black jeans looked to be painted on. I didn’t look to see what kind of footwear she had. She introduced herself as Teagan, no last name. She had a bit of a Dublin accent.  I waited until she sat, then took my seat. She was the young vampire I’d get to interview.

RwF: Do you remember when you…

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For my first post I thought it was only fair to say how I came to be here.

Firstly, I hate blogging and I didn’t think I was awfully good at it. However, I recently wrote an article to go with my book cover reveal and… get this…the bloggers liked it! Really. Check me out.

Secondly, I thought in my great wisdom, that seen as I’m going to be self-publishing my debut novel ‘Falling to Pieces’ in August, I’d better buy a book on the subject.

I purchased this little gem…




And, it’s amazing! I mean, really amazing. I couldn’t put it down and its essentially a reference book. I don’t think thats ever happened to me before.

I found myself laughing out loud at the author, she’s very frank and opinionated. I even read the section on how to set up and use Twitter. I already have a Twitter account. She’s just that funny!

I’d already done a lot of what she has suggested so it made me feel better and assured me I was heading down the right path. A blog, well, a good blog anyway was the only thing that was missing.

You can find the authors blog here by the way.

As well as being hilarious it’s jam packed with great advice. There are step by step guides on creating accounts and formatting e-books and paperbacks for Createspace, Kindle and Smashwords.

I highly recommend this book for any newbie self-publisher, or even someone who’s dipped their toe in but isn’t doing so great.

Self-Printed On Amazon.co.uk

Self-Printed on Amazon.com

I urge you to buy it!