Thursday, December 29, 2011

DENVER - THE MILE-HIGH CITY (5,280 feet above sea level)

Not much time for reading over Christmas but have now tucked into the HIDDEN HISTORY OF DENVER written by Elizabeth Victoria Wallace and published by The History Press.

As James LaRue, Director of Douglas County Libraries commented:  “The history of the West is the history of the footloose.  Some were fleeing the law. Some became the law. Others sought fortunes and either gained or lost them – or both.  The history of Denver covering 1858 to the 1940s, is a rich stew of colorful characters.”

Wallace knows her city well.  Denver was originally known as El Dorado and was the place that the gold-seeking pioneers were aiming for.  With so many wagon trains crossing the prairie, often one met the preceding one, forming continuous trains that stretched for almost fifteen miles. 

In 1880, the population of Denver had reached more than 35,000 residents.  In the 1890s, Denver became well known for its curative properties and attracted thousands desirous of finding a cure for tuberculosis and many people escaped the fog-ridden streets of London, England, to make their way to Colorado Springs, then later to Denver. So many English arrived, that the town was dubbed “Little London”.
Although many people suffered from prejudices in Colorado, the native American Ute Indians suffered a unique loss.  They lost their land they had loved and respected for centuries; they lost their livelihood and food source.  The Chinese population of Denver also suffered intolerance and bigotry and Wallace has carefully researched many disparate tales from this rather special place. We learn of  characters like world heavyweight boxing champion Charles L “Sonny” Liston, hit-man turned rodeo promoter Leland Varain, aka “Diamond Jack,” and the city’s daring wall dogs, whose hand-painted building advertisements are fading reminders of a bygone Denver.

Wallace’s book is a wonderful read and  available on Amazon and all good stores. ISBN 9781609493509 or you can contact the History Press directly $19.99.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


So the King James Version of the Bible celebrates its 400 years. Few of those involved in its production in 1611 could have guessed that their new publication would go on to achieve classic status, becoming an international best-seller.  It certainly took its time (late 17th century) for its remarkable qualities to be recognised. Perhaps the most important contribution has been to the shaping of the English language.  Phrases such as 'the powers that be', 'land of the living' and 'apple of my eye', among many others,  have all become part of our everyday speech.

The 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorised Version has been marked by the issuing of seven stamps for this Christmas which draw on special events in the Gospel accounts of the Nativity from the King James Bible.

Many thanks to eulogy for providing these beautiful stamps.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


As my latest book THE WOMAN WRITER is selling well, I am celebrating with this super review which Susan Elkin wrote earlier this year.  Many thanks, Susan.

The Stage’s long history by Susan Elkin

Thirteen years later, in 1894, Comerford’s friend, the journalist, entrepreneur and fund raiser Joseph Snell Wood, recognised that women journalists — a growing and powerful force in the last quarter of Victoria’s reign — needed a specific support organisation to establish and safeguard their rights.
So he founded the Society of Women Journalists. In 1951 it changed its name to the Society of Women Writers and Journalists to meet the changing needs of its members. And of course they wrote for The Stage right from the beginning and still do. I have long been a member of SWWJ — and here I am.
Sylvia Kent, SWWJ council member and archivist, has now documented the society’s history. And it’s an entertaining and informative book which, in a succinct and accessible way, actually goes way beyond the history of the SWWJ to provide a nice snapshot of women writers and their work during the last century or so.  There’s plenty of information here for anyone doing a research-based degree on this or a related subject, for example.

Her opening chapter about the indefatigable Snell Wood and life in the 1880s is colourful and interesting. Why, Kent wonders, did he think the original members needed the services of an oculist and a rhinologist?

We also learn about SWWJ’s competitions, the breadth of its membership, its education work, its key members today and much more. Kent has included some fine photographs too. The ‘mugshots’ of early members who wrote for The Gentlewoman, which Snell Wood edited, are splendid. Cut from that to vice-president Jean Bowden (aka romantic novelist Tessa Barclay) with Jacqueline Wilson (now Dame Jacqueline) in 1990, or Martina Cole ‘one of our newest members’ and you get the sense of what a far reaching little book this is - with quite a lot to interest Stage readers.
The Woman Writer: The History of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists by Sylvia Kent (The History Press, rrp £12.99, ISBN 9780752451596)

Friday, December 16, 2011



It was generous of Mara who has just started her new cake baking firm, to bring along samples of her great  tray bakes to the Brentwood Writers' Circle last week and to Piper Terrett's celebrations when signing her new book in Billericay.

Mara's firm Cake-Bake Limited has just been launched and she is happy to take orders via her Her current speciality is Paneforte de Siena.  This is lovely and I would recommend it.

This entrepreneur is also a published writer and her book tracing the history of Basildon is also available. BASILDON - A HISTORY AND CELEBRATION published by Francis Frith Limited.   . Contact her at or email
or personal email m.cottrell11@btinternetor phone on 07952 821 366.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Very pleased to introduce our new friend Karen Lee Burnette whose first album of 20 songs has been released. She will be appearing on the Scott Ross Show on Phoenix 98FM Radio on Saturday 17th at 12.15 pm. Karen is delighted with her response from her intrroductory feature in The Daily Mirror supported by Joe Longthorn.


At last Mara's website, publicising her new bakery business is up and running. She hasn't wasted any time in introducing her creative and delicious cakes to the public, bringing welcome tray bakes to our Christmas gatherings and recent book signing events in Essex.
Not only is Mara a super cake maker, she is also an author and her book tracing the history of the town of Basildon for the Frances Frith Publishing Company is on sale. Contact her at email
or personal email m.cottrell11@btinternet or phone me on 07952 821 366.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Piper Terrett's new book VICTIM SUPPORT (Norsey Press) received a great welcome on Saturday at Billericay's Town Council Office with her fans. Members of Brentwood Writers' Circle turned up, too.

Her thriller is set in the town of Billericay and its intriguing storyline keeps you guessing. I reckon it would make an excellent mini drama for TV. Lots of fun and laughs with Piper and Doug and, hopefully, lots of sales.

Piper is also author of The Frugal Life: How to spend less and live more (Good Life Press) and Bedroom DJ: A Beginner's Guide (Omnibus Press). A financial journalist, blogger and green activist, she wrote the popular Frugal Life blog for - about saving money during the credit crunch - appearing regularly on BBC Essex's Dave Monk Show. She now writes The Essex Life blog at and is the Energy Saving Trust's Green Voice of the UK and a member of the Climate Speakers Network which gives green talks to schools and societies. Piper Terrett is available for interview. Email

Friday, December 09, 2011


Don't forget to come to Piper Terrett's book signing tomorrow in Billericay at the Town Council offices (just off the High Street), enjoy mulled wine and lots of lovely edibles from 2.30pm. Piper will be talking about her new book on Local Phoenix 98 FM Community Radio in the morning with Alan Johnson's Feel Good Show. Friends will be listening in all over the world. Piper's book - VICTIM SUPPORT, a thriller is set in our town and is quite a page-turner and costs £6. She will sign one for you and send one if you can't make tomorrow's celebrations.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

All Party Writers' Group Reception - John Whittingdale MP for Maldon

Enjoyed a relaxed and hugely entertaining winter drinks reception last night at the House of Commons (my old Hansard stamping ground). Presentation and awards of the 2011 Educational Writers' Award administered by The Society of Authors and sponsored by the lovely Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society. My SWWJ colleagues joined in the fun and the evening was organised so beautifully. Local Member of Parliament, John Whittingdale, representing Maldon, Essex was great and lots of writing friends popped up during a lovely, lively evening. Thanks to Barbara Hayes and her team. Not allowed to take my own pics inside, but here's one showing Big Ben and the Christmas Tree (snapped on the way out of Westminster Hall).

Monday, December 05, 2011


What a great day for the town yesterday when Billericay traders, voluntary groups and of course thousands of shoppers celebrated an early Christmas bonanza in our ancient High Street. Everyone was there and of course our super Cater Museum Curator, Chris Brewster and her team welcomed people through the door of our lovely museum, plus some merrymakers at the Council Offices. Just a few pictures here giving a feel of a super day.

Images in this post show Tony Motley of Billericay Morrismen at Bennetts, a small visitor, Kian Hewer to the Cater Museum with his mum who was intrigued with our two headed lamb and a line-up of some of our Council folk among other pictures.