What’s in a name?

Actually, I spend a lot of time in my writing thinking very carefully about names.

Names have to feel right for character, it’s like naming a child or pet. I often change character names if they don’t feel quite right. I urge you to think the same way. So for example, Lydia in While No One Was Watching started life as ‘Delores’ but there was a psychic of that name in Ghost and of course the famous Delores in Stephen King’s book (albeit a different spelling) so I tried on a few names before I found the perfect one.

So my friends, on the subject of names, this will be my last blog post as a Miss, after fifty years of being a miss! Yes there will be no blog posts now until a week’s time (unless the wedding gets to me and I feel I must!!!) but the idea is next time I blog I will be a Mrs — complete with new surname.

I started life as Debbie Wyatt. Not a bad name but always more or less last on the register! But a good noble English name, even if we are related to a famous traitor!

Lee and I no doubt would have married and he would have made me ‘Mrs Hobbs’. Also a solid name. But sadly I lost Lee to cancer before that could ever happen. We’d talked about it. In a desperate act of love, I did even ask him to marry me on his 32nd birthday (which, as it turned out, was only a week before he died). I had this crazy ‘movie style’ notion we could do it at the hospital (how sad would that have been though?)… the nurses said we could, in fact, they wanted us to. But Mr Pragmatic that he was, he said he wanted to wait and if he got better we’d do it properly — he said in his eyes, we were married anyway and that’s what counted. True, we were connected so deeply, but sad never the less. I guess I just wanted to be his wife and have his name. Alas, it was never meant to be.

That is why a few months after his death I decided to join our names forever, I did not want to be Hobbs as it felt as if I was saying well we would have been married and that was not why I did it. So I became by deed poll: Hobbs-Wyatt.

The hyphen is a symbol of our undying connection.


On the plus side, I did move up the register 🙂 I remember when I called people, the bank etc. to change it, how everyone assumed good news and congratulated me on my wedding. I had to point out it was still Miss and it was not what they thought. A few embarrassed silences later, the message hit: don’t make assumptions.

This time will be different. So different 🙂

While I will be proudly changing my name to Brown (another noble surname) on Saturday — for my work and for my writing I will forever be Hobbs-Wyatt. This feels absolutely right, the way I felt when I decided on Lydia in my novel.

Sure, ‘Hobbs-Wyatt-Brown’ has a nice ring to it (a touch of Jane Austin maybe?) but reeks of pomp to me, anyway when I get really famous it means I will have a fairly dull sounding normal name so will be harder to find by stalkers!!! 😉 There are lots of Browns…

This thinking about names also brings to mind how last year my brother married so we gained a Wyatt and of course a new one is on the way too!

So, Hobbs-Wyatt, the writer/editor (the only one as far as I know) by day, Brown the wife by night.

And hey, from W to B, not bad in terms of alphabetical lists, right? I am moving up in the world 😉 

So that is all for now and I will be back next week blogging for the first time as a Mrs!

glasses weddingHave a wonderful writing time folks: think carefully about names, it’s important ❤

In celebration of my nuptials, ONE free signed copy of my novel to the first person to message me here in reply to this post saying only your name! I will request your address and post it out after the wedding!


Oh and PS rings are made and we tried them on for size, just need polishing and engraving and will be collected Friday morning in time for the wedding. Yay!



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Being Prepared

Ever watch Friends? I used to love that show. In fact, I was in the audience for a taping of that show and loved it! Remember Monica and her lists! Well, that’s me! Although not quite so highly strung and dominating but that is me!

Funny how many people this week seem to think I would not be doing normal things as if the wedding means I ought to be running around like a headless chicken to use a cliched expression! Well, I am the queen of prep! I have had a year to slowly buy everything you need for a wedding reception you are hosting yourself, all the big things were booked a year ago including the hotel for the wedding night. But the rest has been bought and sorted. I think the only thing we are waiting on (and it is nothing to do with me in terms of what has happened) are the rings. We went in about them last spring and ordered them in September. The guy’s wife has been ill causing a delay and we are promised them in time for Saturday but slightly unnerving that we still haven’t got them. Since we both have matching eternity rings that would suffice as a substitute there is a contingency plan but I am not very amused by this since I was prepared and sorted this out months ago. Ever the optimist I am sure it will be okay, but sometimes the best made plans and all of that. Nothing will spoil the day though, it is what it is.

I have just finished an edit to send over later and then I am free to do the things that need doing, mostly house clean for guests, thank you speech written out so we don’t forget and beauty treatments (it might take some time to beautify me!).

Gym this morning then relax, write, but no pressure as I want to savour everything about this special week.

The special part about a wedding is I get to see all my favourite people on one day and in one place; some of whom I have not seen for ages! My bestie Liverpool buddy talked to me on the phone last night and I am so excited as I have not seen her since I moved! We used to do loads together. I have not met her man yet either! And my LA friends leave LA tomorrow to arrive on Friday!!! How wonderful. We also have friends from Brighton coming as well as the more local friends and family.

Am I excited… YES! Am I prepared… ABSOLUTELY!

All please use the power of thought to get us our rings though… or call Gold and Diamonds on Canvey Island and give them a nudge please!!!

friends-0What counts the most is spending time with your friends…

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Zoning Out

The best place to be for a writer is ‘in the zone’. Loosely described this is that place, you know the one — where you lose everything else. All that exists is the story. You lose yourself, the sounds around you, place changes. You create a warped sense of what is real. In fact, the story alone is what is real.

It’s a great place to be.

It’s my belief that the real immersion that comes from being zoned out, allows you to create something with the same power for your reader. If you can create blindness to all but the characters and the story, then you will bring the reader along with you.

That is my mission for the day. What about you?



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All the Versions of Us

We picture life as we want it to be.

We see it in some kind of idealistic magical way we need it to be but perhaps never quite imagine it actually will be. Yet…. it can be. It can.

We conjure future selves as if there are a million different versions of us.

Each emerges alongside the other, unseen but felt. As if every decision we ever made was a point in time when we could have gone that way but we went that way. When we split from ourselves, and now there are millions of versions of us, each better for having taken the other path; and yet… and yet really… exactly the same.

Sometimes we wonder.

We contemplate.

We think of the path not taken: what if and how would it have been? We imagine a different us who didn’t make the mistake or say the wrong thing, the person who didn’t die… until we realise we are who we are, the version we are because of all that stuff. We would not be us if we had not done all that stuff; if we had not been through all that stuff and we celebrate us, this version of us and we say:

This is me.

This is my choice.

And for the record this is the version of me, for all its flaws, I choose to be.

This week I will pledge love through a glass lit so brightly everyone will see its light and feel its glow. I will celebrate the one thing that this version of me has the most of: love and joy and abundance.

Be the best version of you in the knowledge that you took the path less travelled by and that has made all the difference.

two roads

There is no time for what might have been, only what is; what will be.

Find your joy.

Know that this is exactly where you are meant to be. In this moment. Because this moment is the PERFECT one.


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Life told in moments: real and imagined

I have been in a reflective mood: as you have probably been able to tell from my posts. Nothing like a new year, new dreams, a BIG birthday and an imminent wedding to do that, right? It is all fodder for the writer, looking closely at our emotions and the things that shape our lives.

I had a wonderful stay in Southend in a hotel that is a Grade II listed building built in 1857. We were in the Estuary Suite at the Gleneagles Guesthouse and they even put a candle in my hashed browns for breakfast! All overlooked by Queen Victoria’s statue.

We shopped, we walked (I did over 23000 steps that day), we did not frequent fancy restaurants but we did something I never do, something I told him I wanted to do. We bought chips, crispy piping hot chippy chips! And then we sat on a bench near the Cliffs Pavillion and shared them! Perfect. Who needs fancy restaurants, a perfect meal to celebrate turning fifty!

After that, we gave two homeless people money as it was cold and it must be terrible, can’t even imagine. Then we walked some more and ended up in Bobby Jo’s diner just past The Kursaal, drinking Reeses Peanut Buttercup milkshake. Oh my!


It was a perfect kind of day both lavish and understated and above all happy 🙂

The following morning, after our 7 am walk, breakfast (complete with candle of course) I sat here and I composed more of the new story idea.


gleneagles 2


I felt oddly close to my grandparents who died in 1977, so long ago, and yet there are here and ready to share our wedding. I was also thinking about my other grandparents as if all are drawing close at this magical and long awaited time. So I got to thinking. About life, its transience, the moments we capture. I feel that I am being guided not to tell the story of grandad too closely, of what happened to him in Changi, although it has to be told in part, but of my grandmother, my nan. Mum showed me a photo on my birthday of her in a stylish long black coat with a hat and Mal said how we looked alike. Imagine marrying the love of your life and then being sent off to serve your country just hours later. 1933. Off we went and every time they said they would grant him leave they needed him elsewhere. The final date he had to come home: September 3rd, 1939 (some six years later having never seen his new wife since they married)… but war broke out and it would be another six years before he came home. Imagine. I feel in order to tell his story, I must tell hers. What was she thinking? How do you go on, what pictures do you have in your head to get you through… especially when grandad was captured?

So the story is in there and being teased out at the moment. It has to be a love story, for what else is there?

On a lighter note, my crazy gym buddies will be taking part in our private spin class tonight in tutus and 80’s gear — yes really! Hensanity! No doubt a photo or two might follow!

So have an amazing weekend folks and see you next week for the final countdown… 8 days…


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Fifty is a Wonderful State of Mind




I remember thinking how long that was when I set my novel fifty years after Kennedy was assassinated.

Fifty years on and what became of the little girl who had been watching the motorcade with her mother, waiting on the sidewalk of Dealey Plaza? Rushed forward as the hush descended. Mother’s hand tight in hers… then.

A gunshot shatters sound.

Then another… and is that another? Too close together to tell? And from what direction?


A president slumps forward, his wife clambers over the back of the car and we later learn she was trying to what? Scoop up his already broken brain? A man on the grassy knoll captures the footage in a film that will be scrutinised millions of times, maybe more than any other film made on a home movie camera. It will make him famous, infamous, he would never have known it as he drank his morning tea, or was it coffee, did anyone ask? He could never have known.

Life ends although death will not officially be declared until the president reaches Dallas Memorial Hospital forty minutes after the gunshots.

A shocked world will see it huddled around black and white TV sets. Often other people’s.

A mother stands on the grassy knoll but looks the other way to everyone else, now but she didn’t at first because, and some might judge her for this, but in that moment when the gunshots rang out, she watched what everyone else did and she dropped her daughter’s hand. She let the fingers slip from hers, and that was her mistake, right there. But she can be forgiven for that, can’t she? She made one small error. One thing. And now she stands and looks the other way and thinks how she only dropped her hand for a second, took her eye off the ball for a moment. And now she is gone. So where is she?



She can’t be.

Eleanor Boone is gone?

Eleanor Boone is gone.

Only what she will later discover is she has gone and will never be found.

Or will she?

Fifty years later will she finally be found? And what did she see? What did she see that day?

While No One Was Watching was published five years ago, fifty years after a real moment, fictionalised and I want to see it on film, that moment, the fifty years on moment when one thing, one single thing changed everything because a mother let go of her child’s hand, and that has made all the difference. And it happened while no one was watching.

I did promise an extract this morning but I hope this will suffice instead to tease you to buy the book if you haven’t already and just maybe for a filmmaker to think: I could make this movie. And my dream might one day come true. My dream made a while ago, confirmed on the day I see my half-century turn.

Something quite unique and special happened yesterday. It happened as I researched for my new short story, and it has a special meaning given how the cards align. By that I mean I am fifty (dear God I am fifty today) and next week I marry for the first time, a second chance at love because sometimes sad things happen. And in four months a new baby comes into our family, my brother and his wife wait. Let me share a piece of the magic with you. When I went to bed the night before last I asked my late grandad (he died many years ago) to show me what part of the story from his past, from his experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war in Changi I ought to use in a new story. Not memoir, a story. It’s a story I have been on the verge of writing for a long time. And yesterday about this time he showed me his story. I knew it, but he showed me through some serendipitous clicks on the computer that his story is better than any I could make up. His story or a fictionalised version of it is what I MUST share with the world… finally. Once again real moments inspire the best stories, don’t they?

At that moment I knew what he wanted. It came from a line written on the back of an old photograph: the title of a story written for a newspaper in 1945… a lot more than fifty years ago. I found it, oddly, for sale on eBay. A photograph of my grandparents, later I was told my nan was pregnant with my mum when it was taken. It feels as if the things my grandad would never talk of, he is now finding me, the storyteller of the family, to tell it, or to tell not so much of the atrocities and horror but a love story and somehow I think it means that is what kept him going for the twelve years they were apart. It’s moments like these that make me know there is more than the life we know. There is more behind the ideas and the stories if we choose to tune into them. There are two timelines, now and then… and they are barely whispers apart.

There is more.

This is my path.

This is confirmation it is absolutely the right one.

This is what happens when I focus completely on my writing again.

I will leave you with these thoughts and tell you more about what happened yesterday in another post, another time, how my grandad is now with me, closer than ever as the cards align.

Sometimes magical things happen while no one is watching.

No post tomorrow as being whisked away for a night away later in a lovely old-fashioned guesthouse in Southend with my very soon to be husband as a special birthday treat… and I will celebrate fifty years.




I remember thinking how long that was when I set my novel fifty years after Kennedy was assassinated.

Now I think, fifty is no time at all.


Fifty is only a number.

Fifty is a wonderful state of mind.

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Roll Camera…

Where my novels and shorts inhabit thought and memory, it becomes a different thing when you change the way the story is told to film.


I have always been a visual writer. When I mastered show don’t tell then that came more into its own. I see my characters, I look out through their eyes and I feel their emotions. I become them and so, therefore, does the reader. It’s a very intimate experience and so it should be. The characters take our hands and lead us through the story. We need a good plot to keep us there, to satisfy us when we see how it’s resolved. We need to come out feeling changed in some way and on some level. That is the power of good storytelling.

I have seen my stories and therefore imagined who will play the characters in the movie version. Sometimes when I am about to fall asleep I start the camera and roll away. Sadly sleep never lets me see much of the story. But it’s there, fully formed in some way.

Books I recommend, in fact, the best books on storytelling for me, come from the screenwriters and so I recommend a few of those on my website. Why? Because I feel they have a solid grasp of what hooks and keeps an audience. Storytelling has to be fully immersive to work. When teaching story arc and plotting I often tell my writers to look at people like John Yorke Into The Woods. He says it in a slightly different way to the novelists and one I find more relatable. So, for some time, I have wanted to look more at screenplays with a view ultimately to adapting While No One Was Watching. I often looked at courses and promised myself I would do it… one day. So at the end of last year, I finally enrolled on City University’s 10-week short course on Screenwriting by the super talented award-winning Irish writer and director, Maeve Murphy. It was more for beginners and while I understand story, it’s a whole new medium for me.

What I learned quite quickly was that indeed my knowledge and understanding of how a story works is solid and a strong foundation for building, but to change format meant un-learning and re-learning some key skill sets. Prose writing is very different to the succinctness, the brevity, the reporting of events you see in a film treatment. The finished script, on the other hand, uses just dialogue (which I like doing and very much find is part of voice) but in this case, the actor’s interpret and follow direction. So where my novels and shorts inhabit thought and memory, it becomes a different thing when you change the way the story is told to film. Yikes. And that took some getting to grips with and I have a long way to go to get that. I started with one of my published stories and when I wasn’t feeling it I switched to writing ultimately a film treatment for Chutney for Irina. That worked better. But it taught me something valuable. What works in a more literary novel and Chutney is because it’s very much driven by the characters than plot, it needed more plot to work as a film.

When something is adapted you have to allow it to change because what works in one format might not work in another and in fact, the more literary novels often do not make the best movie.

Adaptation and change is what will bring them to life in film.

As such I have always wanted someone else to adapt my novel who gets that; to see what the screenwriters would do to improve it for film. Stephen King understands this and says something along the lines of pay in the cheque and say goodbye to your story. Perhaps not as flippantly as that as he has enjoyed immense success, but he appreciates the way the two medium work.

I am a long way from being able to adapt anything properly. Interestingly something my tutor taught me about my story is that it needs something else to focus the plot and while I am sure it works as a novel as it stands (although it needs to find a literary home!) I think what she said will improve it as a novel too and when I have finished the next short story (the one that will win a BIG prize! Well, look a girl has to DREAM BIG, right?) then I intend to look at that in the novel before it goes out there to find me a new agent! Summer 2019 is the plan.

I learned a lot and hope to keep and nurture new lessons and the fab people I met on that course, especially Maeve: strong women who make it happen: that is my mission!

More on this at a later date… but for now: happy Tuesday! Since I turn 50 tomorrow (oh no!) I will share an extract from my novel as it’s based 50 years after Kennedy was assassinated!

Have lots of fun 🙂

Check out my tutor!!! Maeve’s website! LINK


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