The Reading Hole

I find myself in the weird position of having finished reading my latest book, and also being at the bottom of my 'To Be Read' pile. What to do? There are so many new(ish) books I could move on to, of course. But it dawned on me that maybe this is a good time to plug...

A New Website is Born!

We have a silly saying around our house:  What is it about time?      It flies. It certainly does, and as it flies away, it takes lots with it. Some of you might have noticed a certain quiet that had descended on my blog over the past few months, and that is because...

A Recipe for Courage

I woke this morning to an astonishing reminder of a very important anniversary for me. Facebook told me that ten years ago this evening, on April 4 2008, my poetry play, Dreams of May, opened it's four week run at London's Pentameters Theatre. Ten years....very hard...

Hello Vietnam!

The story of this trip starts in Singapore, actually, in the training session I led for Writing Through prospective volunteers in 2016. At that time, a wonderful trainee named Stephanie took me aside and said I had to bring the program to Vietnam, her home country. My...

What I Read This Year

What a busy year! Lots of big changes and growth for my educational charity, Writing Through. After too long, my new novel which finishes off my Cambodian Trilogy, is completed and sitting patiently among friends in my publisher's queue. I've traveled back and forth...

The Tyranny of Titles

Every workshop I teach leads to a discussion of The Title. 1. What is the purpose of a title? 2. Where should it come from? 3. How do you know if it's any good? When I teach others, I can generally come up with some answers to these questions, like the following: 1. A...

CSR and Me

(Read to the end for the big reveal!) CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility:  when a corporation takes decisive and apparent action to uphold and promote positive social values. In other words, the way in which a company contributes via active fundraising, financial...

International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day really snuck up on me this year. I must admit, the calendar is full of random celebratory days and I tend to ignore most of them (although my favorite might be International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19 -- ooh, ooh, that's coming...

A Leap of Faith

As most of you know, when I am not writing novels and poetry, I am running a non-profit organisation which I founded called Writing Through.  It is some of the most rewarding, exciting and creative work I have ever done, and the word is getting out about it. In...

100 Women 100 Books

The extremely creative and generous writers, Sarah Salway and Viccy Adams, spent the past year working on a project they call Spreadsheets and Moxie. Their aim was to consider what professionalism looks like for Creative Arts practitioners, with a particular focus on...

Is It Fiction?

It has been an intense month of writing. My last post discussed finishing the first draft of my new novel. Today, I can report that I have finished the third draft and am about to send the manuscript to a 'trusted reader' who will give me some more comments and, most...

Finishing the First Draft

This has been a long time coming. Writing my fourth novel has taught me that no experience is completely repeatable, and although I have long understood that every novelist has her/his own process, my own process is a fluid one, too. Ever since my last novel, Out of...

Writing About Politics

Careful readers will note that I haven't been on this blog lately. There's always an excuse, but this time it's a pretty good one. Since my last post, when I was running back-to-back meetings and workshops in Singapore, I've returned to Cambodia for one last week...

Feeling Surreal in Cambodia

It started with Songkran, the traditional celebration of Khmer New Year. Throwing caution to the wind, we put on our "New Year Shirts" (which looked a lot like Hawaiian shirts to us), piled into a tuk tuk with the Horizons Guest House family, and set off for Angkor...

Khmer New Year

This week is the run up to the Khmer New Year celebrations, which begins on Friday the 14th April and goes all weekend long. The date of the holiday is always the same, or nearly so, because it is based on the solar calendar (unlike the lunar holiday of Tet), but with...

Poetry and Politics

The recent death of Yevgeny Yevtushenko has moved me to write down some thoughts I have been having lately about the intersection of poetry and politics, or actually, any creative writing in general and the present political situation the writer finds her/himself in....

Wat Kesararam

To be honest, Siem Reap is a small town. Because it is the gateway to the Angkor Temples, it has many more than its fair share of excellent restaurants and hotels, but when you live here for a while, it can all start getting a bit repetitive. On Sundays, we like to do...

Teaching About Human Rights on International Women's Day

What better way to celebrate International Women's Day than to go out into a countryside school and write poetry with a bunch of kids? One of Writing Through's partners, ODA, is an educational shelter for extremely disadvantaged kids in the Angkor district of Siem...

Just Like a Day at the Beach

This was a big weekend in tourist town. First, there was the By Royal Invitation Only premiere of Angelina Jolie's new film, First They Killed My Father. Surprisingly, we were not invited. Supposedly, this will soon be on general release throughout Cambodia and I'll...

Writing Through Comes Home to Anjali House

Every Writing Through workshop is special, but for me personally, the one that I facilitate at Anjali House is a highlight of my year. After all, what has become an international NGO began as my Anjali House creative writing workshop seven years ago. I ran this, this...

Discovering a Lost Temple: Chao Srey Vitbol

  On Saturday, I had the remarkable experience of visiting a temple very few people (especially visitors and tourists) have ever heard of. It is called Chao Srey Vitbol, or Beautiful Granddaughter, and the aerial photograph above shows how huge it is. My husband, Don,...

A Landing and A Shot Gun Wedding

It's a new year and a new segment of our new life -- the Cambodian segment. Although I have been coming here to work for years now, this time it's different. I have a newly retired husband with me not only to carry my bags (as he so quaintly puts it) but to help me...

A Year in Reading: 2016

Well, it's been quite a year, personally, professionally and politically. As I sit down to write this, my annual year-end reading list, I am realising that 2017 will begin my ninth year of being a blogger, and even though the blog has changed in many ways over the...

The Importance of Ritual

I have been thinking about rituals a lot lately. The holidays are fast upon us and that would be enough of a reason. This will be our first Christmas/Hanukah season with all four of our kids around us (our two sons and both their wives). That in itself calls for new...

From a Child of the Aftermath

T + 1 and counting..... It's one week since the election of Donald Trump and I have been struggling to figure out what to do about it. I have tossed between hiding away from the world and all it's connectivity, and wilfully diving down into the sinkhole of the global...

Adventures in Teaching

This past week, I traveled up to a small town called Samrong in Oder Meanchey Province, near the Thai border. To be honest, I was a bit nervous. I've been to remote places before to teach, and I really didn't know what I would find. This has been a very busy and...

Cambodian Monsoon

For the first few years of my coming to Cambodia, I came during the dry season. I remember one talk I was giving at the International School in Phnom Penh when, after the students had finished with their questions, the teacher turned to me and asked if I had any...

Back East

I'm now back in Cambodia for a busy couple of weeks splitting my time between Writing Through and Anjali House. I can tell you that it's a much longer trip to SE Asia from New York than it is from London. The jet lag was pretty intense, but after five days I seem to...

Does Spelling Count?

Isn't that the question that every student asks? Well now for me it really does seem to matter in  a new way. Over the past quarter century I adopted the British way of spelling in most of my writing, and as someone whose stock in trade is words, that was important....

Getting Into Your Writing Head

I can't even begin to say how much stuff there is in my head -- not necessarily useful stuff, mind you, but the kind of stuff that feels important and necessary at the time. Over the past few years, I have gotten used to juggling lots of different work-related balls....

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Feel free to contact Sue