Guest Blogger — Ann Richardson

As I’ve said before, I love getting to know other writers, and getting to know how they work. I had read parts of Ann’s original work back in the 1990s when I was studying psychology, and I am thrilled to share a post from her now:


“As Powerful As Any Great Classic Of Fiction”

So said Sir Ian McKellen in his Foreword to my book. And it is.

Do you remember the terrible times of AIDS and HIV in the 1980s and 1990s? If not, are you curious to learn what it was like for those diagnosed?

Wise Before their Time, first published in 1992, shows in moving detail what it was like to live with HIV/AIDS when there was no real treatment for this life-threatening illness. It tells the true stories of over forty young men and women from all over the world, attending an international conference of people with HIV and AIDS in London in 1991.

I have added a new cover and a short introduction to the new version, but the book remains essentially the same.

These were very young people (most were in their twenties and thirties) having to cope with an unexpectedly shortened life span.

They describe the difficulties of telling their parents, friends and partners of their diagnosis, while trying to cope with the day-to-day problems of staying healthy, keeping in work and supporting their friends.

They all experienced enormous stigma, blame and guilt because of the disease. This can be seen in all kinds of ways ­– from small things, like an Irishman being disappointed that friends did not want him to play with their child, to larger ones, such as man being placed alone in an isolation hospital in Goa for some months with no help.

They all knew others who had died. And one mother tells the story of the death of her toddler.

Yet this is in no way a struggle to read. It is touching, it is enlightening and it is sometimes funny.  But most of all, there is virtually no self-pity. On the contrary, the participants were committed to celebrating the joys of life to the full. Which is why I chose the title – they were, genuinely, wise before their time.

For more information or to buy:

The writing process, or at least MY writing process —

People ask me all the time how I come up with ideas for my stories. I can’t really explain it, it is like they suddenly show up in my head, and I start writing. Often I start mid-story, or even at the end, and then the other parts slowly come together.

I write on a computer or tablet, because I type faster than I can write by hand. When I have a draft completed, I print it out and go at it with brightly colored fine-tipped felt pens — never red, usually pink or green or purple. When that editing is done, I input the changes, and do it all over again. Some stories get set aside for long periods of time, but always come back around.

Right now, we are proofreading The Phone Call, and I am also editing More Than I Can Say, and writing book 4. Having so many projects in different stages keeps the process fresh and interesting.

While I finish the proofreading, I made  new collage teaser that I wanted to share here:



Guest Blogger — Paul Toolan

As I have started on this journey of writing and publishing my novels, I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to connect with other writers. Occasionally, I will be sharing some of their posts here on my page.

Today, I want to share a post from the writer Paul Toolan — he has a new collection of short stories that are Alzheimer’s related. As someone who is spending a lot of time in a rehab hospital right now, this resonated with me. Paul’s blog post is below:


a view from memory hill


‘Where do your stories come from?’


If only I received royalties every time a reader asks me this!

Here, there and everywhere is the true but unhelpful answer. In ‘A View from Memory Hill’, there’s a story called Old Man, Young Pub that was triggered by seeing…an old man in a young pub!

I was at the Brighton Festival [Brighton, England – I used to live there] with old friends/fellow retirees. We dropped in to a wonderful, low-ceilinged pub called The Basketmakers, whose decor has barely been touched since it opened. I remember thinking we were the oldest people there, among many young and lively folk, some dressed in the trendiest fashion, some so far ahead they were next year.

It was a hot day, but as I looked around I spotted an old gentleman in a tweed jacket and tie, standing at the bar, quietly sipping his pint. All around him, bright young things were loud and full of energy. They squatted on bar stools, but no-one offered a seat to the old guy, and his legs could have used one. I wondered about his silent thoughts.

His anonymity, mine too, amongst this colourful crowd threw up a name: Smith. With the conscious germ of a story now in my head, I called him Frank Smith in hope he would eventually be frank enough to tell some sort of tale. I never spoke to this old man, but later when I sat at my keyboard, I spoke to Frank Smith, or he to me. I really don’t know which came first.

What I had was a character and a setting. No plot, no events, no history. Yet. But Frank Smith travelled with me, later in the Arts Festival, to a shabby-chic little theatre where, on hard seats, we watched a trio of skilled actors on a bare, dark stage. Magically, they brought to life some of Damon Runyan’s New York Prohibition stories.

Shortly after, inside that inexplicable swirl called a writer’s head, two separate experiences merged. Frank Smith went to his local pub; and he went to see a play. To keep the story structure tight, I made the theatre a blacked-out room at his pub, and had him go out of sheer boredom. Frank would have liked the Damon Runyan stories, but there’s insufficient conflict in what characters enjoy. I needed to change the play, to find one that Frank Smith liked less, that triggered something of his history, his demons or regrets.

On my bookshelves I have ‘Samuel Beckett: The Complete Dramatic Works’. I browsed through it. ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’ seemed ideal. It featured an old man’s memories, recalled with the aid of an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. Krapp is a drinker too, which resonated with Frank. While flicking through, I revisited ‘Rockaby’, a short Beckett play featuring an old woman in a rocking chair, remembering her past. Within moments, Frank Smith had a wife.

A day or two later, I named her Lucy. Then killed her off. The story would have become a novel if I hadn’t, and I wanted to balance Frank’s ageing memories – of Lucy and others – with voices of youth. So along came the young woman who ushers the audience to their seats in ‘the long thin dark theatre’ where Krapp’s Last Tape is performed. Her surprise that Frank turned up at all, among so many young people, releases the demons that rumbled as Frank watched the play. Short stories need a moment of realisation or change, and the clash between her enthusiasm for the play’s use of the past and Frank’s disturbed memories provided this.

‘We’ve all been something,’ was all he managed to say. ‘Known someone.’

The story might have ended there, but because the theme of age and youth was well-established I felt more could be done. I went back to the keyboard and jiggled the plot, making Frank inadvertently upset the ‘woman in black’, so her young hopes and dreams could quietly confront his regrets.

“In the half-dark, she looked squarely at him, black T-shirt and jeans appraising jacket and tie. A slight twitch flickered her lips. He thought there might be tears.

‘We all have dreams,’ she said, in the quietest voice he’d ever heard. ‘I’d rather dream than drift, any day.’ She pressed her lips together to control the twitch, but it continued. ‘What’s wrong with having dreams?’ she asked.”

This exchange then allowed a more positive development in Frank, making for a more satisfying conclusion [in my view, anyway, but I’d love to hear yours too].

So, a chance observation in a pub, a visit to a play, a book on a shelf, some musings and experiments at the keyboard – and before too long there’s a character’s voice, a felt situation, and a set of realisations. If it was as easy as I’ve made it sound…

I drop in to a pub maybe once week. I’m wondering if I should go more often. Pubs are full of people, and where there are people, there are stories.

You can find A View from the Memory Hill here:


Paul Toolan










Winter is coming to Vermont

Today was the first day this fall with a serious frost. The grass had a white sheen, and all outside surfaces sparkled in the sunlight. As I drove north this morning, a beautiful red fox was running through a field, and I slowed down to watch him for just a moment.

Now is the time for us to take care of all of the pre-winter tasks, such as cleaning the garden, making sure we have enough kindling for the woodstove, harvesting the last vegetables, and winterizing the beehives. Each day we cross a few more tasks off the list, and we know that soon we will be in full winter.

Each night, we work on teasers, writing and editing. I think that once the weather is a bit colder, and we have fewer duties outdoors, we will have even more time for those pursuits.

A couple new teasers:


We should have our release date for The Phone Call soon, but until then, That One Small Omission is available on Amazon and Solstice Publishing, and now also is available through Amazon in the United Kingdom. The links are below.

That One Small Omission on Amazon

That One Small Omission on Solstice Publishing

That One Small Omission — available in the UK



Hurry up and wait!

We have been in a bit of a family whirlwind lately, between the children, grandchildren and aging parents. In the midst of all of that craziness, we also had a interesting situation of needing to hurry up a bit in my editing of The Phone Call, so I could get it back to my amazing Solstice editor, so she could do the final tweaks.  That’s been done for about a week, now we are waiting for it to come back so from the proofreader so we can do our final review. It’s the old game of hurrying up, then waiting. Still, it’s so exciting knowing that another of my novels will be in print soon!

While we wait, here are some new teasers: