Tag Archives: Annabelle Riley

A Letter For Dean

I found writing the LEARNERS AT LOVE series incredibly enjoyably and deeply satisfying. I am sure every other writer can understand that. I was going through my older posts and I remembered that a writing prompt from Kristian and Nova gave me the inspiration to give Dean an appearance in Annabelle’s journey. I love the way Dean turned out!!

In less than a month we will be putting our sandals and summer clothes into storage and pulling out scarves, and woolly jumpers! Autumn or fall is heading our way in the northern hemisphere.

And in less than thirty days Kristian and Nova are going to be hosting a Falling Into Autumn Blog party. To start the countdown Kristian has provided a gorgeous photo as a writing prompt:



Kristian told us:

“I am not putting any limitations on this. You may write as many words as you see fit. It can be a short story, poem, a paragraph, whatever your heart desires.”

Well, I loved Kristian’s photo prompt and all sorts of ideas went through my head. But at the moment I am fixated with working out what is going to happen to my fictional character Annabelle Riley.

In this post, I have let my thoughts wander to a character who has only received a couple of very brief mentions so far and has not yet been named, but he is about to make an appearance in Annabelle’s story. In the meantime, I thought I would use the photo as a setting for a conversation between Chris and Annabelle about this mysterious character. The two of them are sitting in that blue truck in Kristian’s photo, looking out at the lake and the trees.

As soon as Chris stopped his truck he turned to Annabelle, “I was told that this guy hurt you. Why do you feel like you want to make contact with him now?”

“Did Gina tell you that? asked Annabelle.

talking to gina.jpg“Gina? No, it was Pearl. Did you tell my sister about this guy?” asked Chris in surprise.

“I mentioned him.” Annabelle’s face reddened.

“She didn’t say anything about that to me.”

“I haven’t told Burt and Pearl a lot about him. I couldn’t really without concerning them. But Gina was so kind when she came over, I found it very easy to talk to her.”

“She’s a great listener.” grinned Chris.

“Indeed, you have a great sister. I am envious.”

chris truck2.jpgChris’ fingers brushed over the back of Annabelle’s hand which was wrapped around her seat, “So tell me, why now? Is it really going to help?”

“I think that to go forward, I need to go back a little. Dean always used to say to me that there is no going back, you can only go forward. But I can’t go forward Chris, not until I go back and clear up a few things. Dean is someone I owe a lot to. I think I owe him some explaining, some apologising.”

“Annie, this isn’t you going overboard with guilt again – is it?”

“These CBT appointments are giving me a lot to think about. I feel as if there are a lot of things I have said and done that I ought to feel bad about. I want to do what I can to fix them.”

mistakesChris heaved a sigh and tapped his hands on the steering wheel. “Annabelle, we all make mistakes. You can’t undo all of them. Look at all those millions of leaves out there. You can’t go chasing after every single leaf to clear this place up. It’s impossible. All of us have said probably a million things that maybe we shouldn’t have. We would go crazy if we tried to undo everything we think we said wrong.”

“At the moment Chris, there are lots of little explosions going on in my head. I am realizing things that I have not been aware of before. Some of these things I can just accept as a lesson learnt. But other things make me feel a sense of responsibility that what I did has had a big effect on someone else’s life. I have been talking to Robin about some of that. But the other person who I keep on thinking about is Dean.”

“Ok, so you’re going to write to him to get everything off your chest.”

Portrait of a cheerful blonde woman writing diary.

“No. I am going to write to him and ask him if I can see him.”

Chris shook his head in disbelief, “You’re funny – do you know that?”

“What? What’s wrong with that?”

“You actually want to go and see your ex. Some guy who badly hurt you. Is Robin ok with that?”

“Robin knows that I have a lot of regrets about what happened with Dean and me. I haven’t mentioned it to him yet, but I do think he will understand.”

“So are you going back to New York? Is that where Dean lives?”

Annabelle was clearly very hesitant to answer, “Dean has a place on the west coast. But he travels a lot, for work, so I am going to ask him where is best for him to meet?”

“And do you think he will agree to meeting you? What makes you think he is going to want to rake up the past with you?”

Annabelle shrugged her shoulders, “Well, I’ll have to wait and see.”

part of you.jpg“Annie, I am going to support you whatever you decide to do. I really want to help you get through this. But everything you have ever said or done, even your mistakes, it’s all part of you. It’s made you the person you are today. Look at all those million of leaves out there. Why would you want to change that? You might see a single leaf and think it’s all crumpled and discoloured. But together they make something beautiful. Don’t forget that, whatever you have done in the past, it’s all helped to make a beautiful person who we love. Robin loves you, Burt and Pearl love you, most of Blackwood love you and I love you – mistakes and all. We love you the way you are.”

“Thanks Bruno Mars.”

“I was thinking of James Blunt actually. Come on, I need to stretch my legs, let’s go and kick some leaves.” Chris and Annabelle both climbed out of the truck and started walking down towards the lake in front of them.

“Ha ha, my mistake! Let’s add that one to the pile of crumpled leaves hey.”

walk around lake“Something else to love about Annabelle Riley – terrible knowledge of music.” Chris grabbed hold of Annabelle’s hand and squeezed it in his.

“Well, now that you say that…” Annabelle paused.

“What? Are you going to claim you are an expert on music?”

“Christopher Ward, there is a lot you don’t know about me.”


It’s The Final Countdown!!!

dfuygadsiSomething terribly exciting is happening at this very moment. The third and final part of The LEARNERS AT LOVE Series is in the process of being published. Thanks to my very good friend who helped me get my act together (I have been kind of busy of late you know) my manuscript is finally up on Amazon and we are waiting for it to go live! Paperback takes longer as many of you will know.

Part Three of Annabelle’s story is called “THIS VOYAGE OF A LIFETIME”. It is the conclusion to an epic emotional journey. I wish I had more time to double, tripple, quadruple check, edit and scrutinise…but that will have to come later. Amazon lets you make little tweaks to your manuscript whenever you realize something is not quite right (thank goodness!)

If you take a look at the preview, I am sad to say the foreword is missing! It will be added as soon as Amazon allows me to update the manuscript, but here it is for you in the meantime. (Possible spoilers if you never read the story as I was publishing it chapter by chapter. I have tried not to give away anything too significant!)

If you have been travelling with Annabelle along her epic emotional journey, then welcome back to the third and final part of The LEARNERS AT LOVE Series. We have come a very long way!

In Part One, we found out that Annabelle, the beauty of Blackwood, who had caught the attention of Chris Ward, was hiding what she hated about herself. It took some time for Chris to learn and understand the concequences of Annabelle’s decisions. He supported Annabelle as she began to try to undo some of the damage she felt she was responsible for and to make peace with her past.

In Part Two, we saw Annabelle grow from strength to strength. Annabelle and her estranged partner began to build towards a future together. After years of feeling unsettled and lost, Annabelle finally found a home for herself, a place and a person with whom she felt she belonged.

What will Part Three have in store for Annabelle? As you join her on “THIS VOYAGE OF A LIFETIME”, be sure that Annabelle is going to expand her horizons as a LEARNER AT LOVE!

Just a reminder…Parts One and Two are already available on Amazon. So, if you do want to read them in order (which kind of makes sense to be honest)…all three parts are waiting for you.



She Dreams

It has taken me ages…but today during my lunch-break at work (when I was editing my book), I came to the conclusion that I had to write the song “She Dreams” that I refer to several times in Annabelle’s story. I have the music in my head…but I can’t write music, so the lyrics will have to do.


I don’t want to hear her scream

I want her to live her dream

Let’s go build a boat for me and you

And sail away on the ocean blue

We’ll stop at every bay we pass along the way

Dancing in the sand, walking hand in hand

No matter where we roam

She dreams of finding home


I thought my girl was wild

Turns out she’s just a child

I thought she’d make me free

Turns out she just needs me

Didn’t think I really cared

Never thought I was prepared

To carry her broken heart

Now I need my girl to start


Finding herself a voice that sings

Growing herself a pair of wings

Beat them hard and away you’ll fly

Don’t give up til you’re up on high

Don’t limit what you can acheive

If only my girl would believe

That she can make her dreams come true

Your dreams are the best part of you


I love it when your eyes gleam

I want you to live your dream

Let’s go build a boat for me and you

And sail away on the ocean blue

We’ll stop at every bay we pass along the way

Dancing in the sand, walking hand in hand

No matter where we roam

She dreams of finding home


She dreams she’ll the best

She dreams of a great quest

She dreams she’ll pass the test

She dreams of finding rest


Any difference I could make?

Does love mean laying awake?

Praying about your lover

Hoping that’s she’ll discover

She has beautiful ideas

But she’s held back by her fears

Doesn’t know where she belongs

I keep on singing her these songs


If you ever quit this team

I want you to live your dream

Let’s go build a boat for me and you

And sail away on the ocean blue

We’ll stop at every bay we pass along the way

Dancing in the sand, walking hand in hand

No matter where we roam

She dreams of finding home


Keep that smile beaming

Stay forever dreaming

I hate to see you look glum

I need your dreams to become

Stronger than the shame

Stronger than your tears

Stronger than the pain

Stronger than your fears


No matter where we roam

She dreams of finding home

Now I Get It!

I have seen many other bloggers write about their experiences with publishing their book. Honestly, some of them seem like a woman with labour pains, that become more and more intense the further along they are in the editing, proofreading, formatting and submitting process.

birthsAnyway…I just want to say, I get it now! Now I understand what all the groaning and grumbling was about. It starts out a joyful enterprise. Excitement builds, you start to imagine holding your baby, the finished book. But then comes all the awfulness, the pains and aches and exhaustion!

But like many other writers who have survived the publishing experience and finally reaped the joy of seeing their book on a Kindle on in Paperback form…I too am expecting my first ever book/novel to appear on Amazon!! Yayyyy! The cover is rather purple. It was one of Dean’s songs about Annabelle “Strange Kind Of Purple” that prompted that choice. I am looking forward to the ocean cover on the sequel of Annabelle’s story.

purplsFinally hey!!! Like any annoying new parent, I will be sharing all the excitement when my little bundle of joy is live and kicking on Amazon! I reckon Tuesday at the latest!

So if you were feeling romantic, with it being close to Luvvy Dovey Day (also known as why has nobody sent me a bunch of red roses? doesn’t he know I only like dark chocolate? does he even know I exist? day!), Caramel has a sweet and inspiring romance novel for you!

It’s not all sickly sweet! It’s the story of a young woman who has been hiding what she hates about herself for years. Her epic adventure of learning about herself, helps her own healing and moves her to address some of the damage she has caused to those who she loves the most. The LEARNERS AT LOVE Series begins with Part One of Annabelle Riley’s story:



Yes…that is what was decided should be the title of my first novel, which is a romance! Odd hey! Believe me, we debated it at great length, so I hope it isn’t going to frighten people off!


Two Books For The Price Of One

Woman, Girl, Female, Lying, TypingI have received some excellent advice regarding my Annabelle Riley series. Amongst which is that my 240,000 word manuscript (yeah I know!) could easily be made into two seperate books.

That made me take a fresh look at everything. I have been trying to weave certain aspects between both the original story and the sequel, yet at the same time making sure each had an appealing introduction, a compelling body and a riveting conclusion.

Oh and…we have also been discussing the title of the book. I had an idea early on. But I changed it because I did not want the story to sound too depressing. But, in the end everyone I have asked seems to like my original idea. I am going to ask you in an opinion post very soon. I have had a few ideas and I would love to have a bit of feedback on which of the titles is most appealing and fitting for Annabelle’s story.

Anyway…it all takes time! Time is something I am desperately short of at the moment. But we believe Book One, which is now 110,000 words is about ready. I cannot tell you how many times I have proof-read it! Every time I read it, I tweak it.

decisionsI still want to cut some of the long conversations between Robin and Annabelle down. She says the same thing about three times. I feel I still need to cut it down! But some days I have to admit that tiredness has beaten me. It is so much easier with a fresh head.

However, I am still enjoying it. I can’t wait to tackle the sequel. I think those latter chapters were more compelling for me to write. So I am really looking forward to editing and proofreading them.

I am not a perfectionist. But I do want to do Annabelle justice!

Thank You Kim!

tableYesterday, I published the last part of my Annabelle Riley – Learner At Love series.

I wanted to say a very special thank you to Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life!  It was Kim who supplied the writing prompt that lit a spark in me to tell an epic tale of love, life and mental health.

I had just come back from spending summer with Goldfinch in Australia (their winter). I was so happy when I was with him, and so sad to be leaving him to return to England. My heart was breaking! I was also still grieving the loss of the tiny life that was growing within me before I lost her. I told Goldfinch, that if she was a girl, I would have loved to have called her Annabelle!

There has been a lot happening in my life these past few months. I have a very close family member battling cancer. Then there is Jack! What a development! It has been helpful to me with so much going on to have a little hideaway mentally. When I don’t be overwhelmed with the emotions of that is going on in my life, I can hide myself away in Annabelle’s story.

together1Well, I have finished her story. We finished on a positive note, with Annabelle feeling stronger and excited about her future. Although Annabelle and the other characters are fictional, there is enormous amount from my own personal life that influenced her story. Some of the lead male characters are inspired by men I know. It’s completely up to you to decide who Goldfinch and Jack inspired!

Next time you see a blogger hosting a writing prompt, remember, it might end up being more than a short story or poem. It might well become an epic writing journey and a published book! Keep writing!

I am so grateful to Kim for inspiring me! Kim suggested a long list of writing prompts and several of them appealed to me, but I this chose one to work on:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

kim's prompt
Photo by Thiago Matos from Pexels 

The Last Chapter

I am excited!!! There are only three more parts of Annabelle’s story left to be published. They are scheduled to be published at 12:01 GMT for the next three nights. I was reading the last few parts last night and it felt good, especially the last part.

annabelle st.pngLast chapters are hard! How do you finish off an epic writing journey? I am pleased with the ending. It feels right. Not a Disney Princess ending, but a positive note. Annabelle has had such a rollercoaster ride during her battle with self-harm. The ending seems what she deserves.

I have been amazed that I had it in me to write a longer work of fiction. I have been editing it and proofreading it extensively these past few weeks. I don’t want to stop in some ways. I have all sorts of ideas for writing more about the lives of some of the other characters in Annabelle’s story. Especially the story of Anna and Natalia’s life. I also have ideas about the three male characters, Dean, Robin and Chris. I almost wondered how it would read to have one novel about their growth from children to adult men and sharing all sorts of stories about what has made them who they are when they meet Annabelle and how she affects them. But for the moment I think it would be more fun to work on shorter pieces when it comes to background information on some of the other stories.

Books, Reading, Pages, Textbooks, WordsI will publish more when the book is available on Kindle and in Paperback. It’ll be very rewarding to see Annabelle in book form!

Completing her story has given me more time for working on other posts. I am having great fun trying to think of short fiction stories in response to the writing prompts from Teresa Grabs. But I hope to have more time now to respond to some of the other great writing prompts hosted by super-bloggers.

I think there are a lot of new bloggers out there. I guess that is what happens at the start of January. Why not? It’s as good a time as any to start a new blog! I have had a whole load of weird messages from new bloggers this past week asking me to promote them on my site. Erm…maybe I will address that in another post. If you are a new blogger, and you would love to write more, whether it be fiction or nonfiction, I can only share with you a little advice based on my own experience.

Student, Typing, Keyboard, Text, StartupKeep writing. Have a go at writing prompts and challenges  even if they are not your usual genre. Don’t think you have to write a huge story in response to every prompt. The truth is, not many other bloggers are going to want to read enormous posts. In fact if your story becomes too long, it is wise to break it up into multiple parts. But don’t be overly anxious about who reads it. Just keep on trying, keep on writing. What will happen is that little by little, you will develop a style of your own and you will enjoy your writing more and more.

I can see myself that my writing has improved over the past twenty months. I expect it will go on improving. But that improvement comes with setting aside a reasonable amount of time (I use two mornings a week to write a minimum of seven posts and then schedule them to be published later) to write.

I have become satisfied that every post does not have to be revolutionary. Some of us have a streak of perfectionism when it comes to writing. I was more academic minded than creative throughout my education. If it wasn’t going to get an A grade – why bother? But don’t be like that here on WordPress. Have fun! There are very few rules (except to be courteous with other bloggers) so explore your imagination and your writing style. Your blog can be anything you want pretty much.

My blog has been mainly about my personal life for most of the twenty months I have been blogging for. But now I have a taste for fiction. I am going to keep working on it. I never thought I had it in me to write an entire book. But now I think I have more.

wir.pngIf you are a new blogger – it will take a long time for statistics to blossom. Please don’t be discouraged. But do flock to these writing prompts and challenges. They are all like hubs within a fantastic community of bloggers and writers. Writing prompts are a great way to steadily challenge yourself and improve your writing and also to come into contact with some very fine and supportive bloggers.

Anyway…I am going to have my breakfast and head down to work! Twelve hour shift ahead of me. But already I have seen two writing prompts on WordPress, which I will be thinking of all day. The ideas that come in my quiet moments at work might appear in a short fictional story – coming soon on CARAMEL (LEARNER AT LOVE)!!!