Five online tools I find useful.

This is brill for assessing your writing for clarity and simplicity. It highlights adverbs, passive voice, and complicated words and sentences.

The Cliché Finder highlights ‘that old chestnut’ in your writing so you can avoid overused expressions.

Thesauruses are essential tools for every writer.

I could play with this name generator all day. There’s a myriad of fun name and description generators.

This website, and the author’s six thesaurus books, has helped me enormously in the past and currently.



Houmous. Random Post 1.


Random Post 1:

I’ve always been a massive fan of houmous. I dollop onto rice crackers, jacket potatoes, pasta, roast vegetables, salads, and swirl into soup.

In my opinion houmous is thus:

  • A Legume or a Vegetable.
  • Some sticky stuff.
  • Some acidity.
  • Some oil.
  • Clove of garlic.
  • Pinch of salt.
  • Optional yummy bits.


Chickpeas. Edamame beans. Butter beans. Cannellini beans. Black beans. Lentils. Garden peas. Green beans. Broad bean. Mung bean. Kidney bean. Kala Chana – brown chickpeas.


Olives. Roast peppers. Roast carrots. Beetroot. Roast aubergine. Roast pumpkin. Sun-dried tomatoes. Roast cauliflower. Asparagus. Roast courgette. Parsnip. Roast red cabbage. Advocado.

Sticky stuff:

Tahini. Peanut butter. Almond butter. Cashew butter. Seed butter. Coconut butter.


Lemon juice. Lime Juice. Apple cider vinegar. White vinegar.


Olive. Rapeseed. Walnut. Pumpkin. Peanut. Coconut.



Yummy bits:

Smoked paprika. Sesame seeds. Fresh parsley. Fresh basil. Fresh sage. Fresh oregano. Cumin. Fresh coriander. Chilli. jalapeno. Harissa. Wasabi. Horseradish. Pesto. Cinnamon. Ginger. Curry paste. Soy sauce.


Basic Houmous recipe:

2 x cans of chickpeas, drained.

2 tbsp tahini

3 tbsp lemon juice

6 tbsp oil or thereabouts – I put the oil in a tbsp at a time through the top tube and stop when the hummus is at the desired consistency.

1 tsp salt

2 garlic cloves, crushed.

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz until smooth.


You can play with this recipe using the lists above to replace the basic ingredients and add any yummy bits as desired. By experimenting with quantities and different ingredients you can come up with some fabulous and unique recipes.


hummus: noun also houmous UK  /ˈhʊm.əs/ US  /ˈhʊm.əsa soft, smooth food made from crushed chickpeas, oil, and lemon juice.


More Random Posts to follow…

What people think about TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR

Manifold Press recently blogged about my book:

TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR by Michelle Peart is a terrific story of an otherworldly pair of misfits on a road – well, a river trip. Edward just wants to go home to Earth, while Burn wants to see more of his own home planet Abaytor as they travel by raft down the Copper River. Does either of them get what he wants?

And how have people responded to this novel…?

TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR received an Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2017. The judges said:

This book was AWESOME. I was captured by the characters and story from the first page and was held captive until the last. The world building was vivid and captivating, the characters distinct and fully rounded. The plot moved along at a cracking pace as I went on a journey of discovery with Edward and Burn. Both of the boys worked their way into my heart and I eagerly await for more. What a debut!

On Amazon, O.M. Carey Jones gave it five stars and said:

Very imaginative storytelling – an excellent read! … The story is so imaginative and different and so interestingly written that I did not know what to expect next as I turned each page. And the ending was completely unexpected, both sad and inspiring – I loved it!

Brightwood also gave it five stars and said:

This is an engaging, romping, rollicking adventure of two teenage boys on another world. As the river in this outer world tosses them about and challenges them to the limit, their inner worlds begin seismic shifts. The author’s use of descriptive language is beautiful and evocative – you are right in there with the boys – and I love the way the story unravels in unpredictable twists and turns, just like the river they’re riding, just like life. It’s messy, it doesn’t turn out how you expected or how you wanted it – but isn’t it interesting how it’s often just what you really need? A brilliant story, brilliantly told.

On Goodreads, Sabrina gave it four stars and said:

What a delightful read! Really did love the dynamic between the main characters a lot. Totally fell in love with the flirty Burn and the grumpy Edward right from the beginning.

While Rosie gave it five stars and said:

Loved absolutely everything about it. Desperate for a sequel now…

Does this romping, rollicking adventure sound like something you – or a loved one – would enjoy reading? This novel is suitable for people of all ages who are young at heart.

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

ARDENT by Heloise West


SUBMERGE by Eleanor Musgrove


UNDER LEADEN SKIES by Sandra Lindsey



Review – Call to Arms

Kazza K from On Top Down Under has written a fabulous review for the Call to Arms anthology.

Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Manifold Press

Genre: LGBTQ+ Fiction

Tags: Historical – WWII Short Stories

Length: 272 Pages

Reviewer: Kazza K

Purchase At: amazon.comManifold Press

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I’m thrilled to post the fab review for my story From Air to There:

From Air to There – Michelle Peart

It’s spring 1944 when this story starts. Puppet, nicknamed for his ability to use his parachute like a puppeteer, is on board a Dakota that’s in the middle of heavy trace and artillery fire over France.

The constant flickers from the tracer bullets lighting the glass next to me were giving me an eye-headache and the urge to move away was strong, but we were lined up in jumping order and I’d never have dared disobey my sergeant, Wide-Fred.

The men have no choice but to parachute into the crossfire, and Puppet, aka Colin, lands on a barn – after some initial tree hits and some mud.

Where were Slug and Nip? And Fred? Did they make it? Was Fred’s wife now a widow? And his children without a father? I shook the thoughts from my head and replaced them with instinct. I needed to get out of the cold mud and find protection from the enemy.

As luck would have it, he ends up at a French resistance fighter’s farm. Nineteen year old Henri tends pigs and lives on his own – his parents both succumbed to tuberculosis and his older brother was taken by the Germans.

Puppet has a damaged knee and Henri poultices and stitches it up as best he can. After a few days to recover they have to make a journey to Switzerland, including train trips, lots of papers, the Alps, and a great deal of nerve shown by both men. The plan is that Puppet will be handed over to a trusted Swiss contact and sent back to England. This isn’t Henri’s first time at the rodeo but it is Puppet’s. It’s always dangerous. Puppet faces an arduous questioning and POW internment if caught. Henri faces worse.

This books starts with a bang, you get to know the men on the Dakota just prior to trouble and as it’s about to go  down. You get to know that Puppet, real name Colin, had a lover named Bert whose picture he keeps in his pocket, along with the letter from his mother telling him his ‘friend’ the milkman died in battle… and not even twenty-one.

A lot of depth was injected into this short story. I believe it’s the longest story in the anthology and it still went by too quickly. From Air to There is writing with heart. There’s suspense, strong emotion and character depth. The ending was nice. Gripping writing.

Kazza K

Find the full review for all seventeen authors here

Just a note that if you visit this site you must be 18 or over.


Two lost boys on a journey.


The two main protagonists in my book are Edward and Burn and I love the journey their friendship takes. They are much more than polar-opposites they are planet-opposites. To the Left of Your North Star is an adventure, a fantasy, and a road trip, but at its core is the relationship between the two lost boys, Edward and Burn.

Edward is a spoilt rich kid with a huge chip on his shoulder. He lost his mother at a young age and has a rocky relationship with his famous father. His bravado is to cover up the fact that underneath he’s scared, alone, and neglected emotionally by his father. With his good looks and money, he was the boy that everybody at school fancied but Edwards relationships never lasted long because, put simply, he was a complete ass.

Edward represents the boys that I used to watch from afar in secondary school, the boys that always had a flood of kids around them, popular, perfect, and trendy. As I was the weird kid that tried to disappear into the walls, I used to admire those plastic people. But, now I know the plastics weren’t perfect after all, in fact they probably had the same self-doubt that I had.

Edward has always believed, because that’s what he was taught, that the only valuable people in the world are the rich and famous. But he slowly learns that is not the case and I love the fact that he has to rely on Burn, a weirdo as far as he’s concerned, for his food, shelter, and protection.

Burn is a simple boy from a simple life, different from the other villagers but intelligent, loyal, and loving. Orphaned from a young age he had to raise himself and that gave him a quirky edge to his character.

At school, I always felt different; a vegetarian in an age where people couldn’t even spell the word never mind understand why some people refused to eat meat. I was the only vegetarian in the village (so to speak) and viewed with suspicion. It’s unbelievable to think of that now. I feel I unconsciously wrote a part of younger me into Burn.

Burn uses Edward’s desire to leave Abaytor as a way of experiencing his planet and expanding his horizons. Whereas Edward has a serious dislike for him, Burn likes Edward, he likes everyone, it’s in his nature, but he also has a naughty streak and decides to liven up their journey and seduce the sullen boy from another planet.

My teenager and friends have all read the book and I overheard them talking about who identified with Edward and who identified with Burn. I was so pleased that I had created characters that resonated with them and hopefully others.

I’m very proud of my debut book, it marks a steep learning curve in which I acquired new skills, new friends, and a new passion.

I have a short story in the Call to Arms anthology. My story is called From Air to There and is about a paratrooper called Puppet who crash lands into a pig-pen, injured, alone, in occupied territory, and devastated by the loss of his friends. But little does he know that his fate lay in the hands of a young French farmhand called Henri and his endearing tenacity.

I also have a story in the No Holds Bard anthology, and I’m delighted with both stories.

You can find me at @shellpeart


Have you read…


There’s a lovely post on the Manifold Press blog about To the Left of Your North Star.

I had the privilege of acting as editor for this debut novel by Michelle Peart.

TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR is the sort of science fiction that prompts you to think about who we are and who we want to be. Edward Kemp, who has reluctantly accompanied his father on an expedition to the planet Abaytor, is certainly forced to consider these questions during his journey down-river with an off-kilter alien named Burn. This ‘odd couple’ relationship is rife with misunderstandings at first, but slowly Edward starts to view his other-worldly companion as less infuriating and more insightful, and perhaps even someone he can befriend and learn from.

This story takes place in an unfamiliar setting on a copper-coloured river, with an ever-surprising assortment of Abaytorian life challenging our all-too-human Edward – but the ‘road trip’ and ‘coming of age’ aspects will help you feel right at home.

If you’d like to join Edward and Burn on their adventure, TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR is currently on sale at Smashwords!

Blurb: The self-assured Edward has accompanied his father, famous explorer Herb Kemp, to Abaytor. Herb is on a mission to save Earth’s bee population, but Edward couldn’t care less and just wants the comforts of home. Burn, an off-kilter Abaytorian with a desire for change, is charged with escorting Edward down the Copper River to Herb’s spaceship. As they travel through perilous lands on a makeshift raft, they are in a constant battle with the river, themselves and each other. Edward’s problems with his father are laid bare as they are hunted, starved, almost drowned, and confronted by difficult choices. But, among the striking landscapes and colourful people of Abaytor, Edward slowly learns about trust, self-acceptance and love.

Word count: 63,300 words

Smashwords sale: $5.95 $4.95

Recognition: Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2017

Call to Arms

I am very pleased to say that I have contributed towards Call to Arms, a Second World War anthology produced by Manifold Press.

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Seventeen stories, thirteen authors, a second war. Once again Manifold Press’s writers explore the lives of LGBTQ+ people and their war-time experience in cities, towns and countryside across the world.

Amidst war and peace, in the thick of violence or in an unexpected lull, these stories of the Second World War take the reader far and wide: through Britain, Europe, Asia and South America, from loss and parting to love and homecoming. As for home, it may be an ordinary house, or a prison camp, or a ship: but it is, in the end, where you find it, however far you have to go. Read this book, and make the journey yourself.

My story is called From Air to There and is about a paratrooper called Puppet who crash lands into a pig-pen, injured, alone, in occupied territory, and devastated by the loss of his friends. But little does he know that his fate lay in the hands of a young French farmhand called Henri and his endearing tenacity.

Honourable mention for TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR.


I was delighted to see that my debut book, To The Left of Your North Star, has received an honourable mention in the 2017 Rainbow Awards. The Awards are an annual contest celebrating outstanding work in LGBT fiction and nonfiction. Hosted and owned by blogger Elisa Rolle, the contest is open to all authors of work containing LGBT fictional characters.

A reviewer for the awards wrote:

This book was AWESOME. I was captured by the characters and story from the first page and was held captive until the last.  The world building was vivid and captivating, the characters distinct and fully rounded. The plot moved along at a cracking pace as I went on a journey of discovery with Edward and Burn. Both of the boys worked their way into my heart and I eagerly await for more. What a debut!

What a fantastic review!

Also huge congratulations go to Coins Not Accepted, A Certain Persuasion, and Harbinger Island.

Landscape Photography

I recently completed a workshop with David from David Speight Photography, during the day I learned how to use my DSLR Camera and how to compose landscape photographs. We spent the day in the Yorkshire Dales and the light conditions was surprisingly kind. I am delighted with the photographs I took, and learned, amongst other things, how to get out of ‘automatic settings’ and how to focus with my dodgy eyesight!

I cannot recommend David enough, if you live in the North (or will travel) and wish to learn more about photography, landscapes, or otherwise David is your man.


A folded blanket of grass.


A lucky shot just as a rainbow appeared in the grey sky.


At the top of Gordale Scar with an angry sky.

13Hills, barn, and dry stone walling indicative of the Yorkshire Dales.


Pen-y-ghent looking majestic with a dry stone wall shadowing its shape and a pink sky.


Ingleborough and its cap of clouds in the distance with limestone ‘bones’ in the foreground.

All photographs copyright of Michelle Peart 2017

David’s Twitter feed below:


A Rafting Adventure



Yesterday my family and some daredevil friends built a raft from scratch, just like Burn in my book. Our raft was a little more ‘user friendly’.


The bones of our raft, the Coniston Queen, are laid out ready to assemble while instructions are given from Adam from Joint Adventures.


Learning to knot tie – the most important part if you wish to stay dry!


Inserting buoyancy barrels – also important if you don’t wish to sink!


Giving the raft a good shake to make sure she remains in one piece!


She looks great! Really sturdy!


Off they go! The raft has a slight lean but so far so good.


Her intrepid crew paddled out into the middle of the lake and the Coniston Queen remained firm.


They paddled down a river – more green than copper!


A bridge hazard! Everyone lie down! The underneath of the bridge missed them by a nose width!


Made it!


It was hard work paddling against the current… or so I was told!



Back on the lake. I love these shots taken into the sun. They remind me of scenes from To The Left of Your North Star.


Coming into land. The water was freezing… again, so I was told!


A celebratory jump because the Coniston Queen had held firm and they hadn’t got too wet!

Many thanks to Adam from Joint Adventures.

My book To The Left of Your North Star is available from Amazon here. You can see recent reviews here. And author interviews here and here.

All photographs copyright of Michelle Peart 2017