The WordPress blog of author and poet Sue Barnard

Reverse Engineering

Miriam Drori, Author

Friend and fellow author and editor, Sue Barnard, posted this image from the Metro newspaper on Facebook last week.

I imagined the scene in the newspaper offices.

“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“I haven’t heard yet.”
“Let me know ASAP. I’ll write boy for now and change it if it’s a girl.”

Then I remembered the term for this from my hi tech days: reverse engineering. The Oxford Shorter English Dictionary says this is:

the reproduction of another manufacturer’s product following detailed examination of its construction or composition.

Well, maybe that’s not quite what I meant, but you get the idea. I’m thinking about working out how mistakes arise. That reminded me of those weird automatic translations. We’ve seen plenty of those around the world.

But the translations that make me laugh the most are the ones I see here in Israel…

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Bureau of Complaint

Eyes Down
by Sue Barnard

Prize for a full house:
the title “Non-Working Mother”

Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet whose family background is far stranger than any work of fiction.She was born in North Wales some time during the last millennium.She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad. If she had her way, the phrase “Non-Working Mother” would be banned from the English language. Sue now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.

Image by Candid_Shots from Pixabay.

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Jennifer C. Wilson


A soothsayer (very astute)

tries to warn of impending dispute.

But though told to beware,

Caesar says “I don’t care!”

then he’s killed by a backstabbing Brute.

Today on the blog, I’m delighted to be hosting the wonderful Sue Barnard, writing friend, fellow Ocelot, and the editor of my Kindred Spirits series and The Raided Heart. Her novel, The Unkindest Cut of All is the first Ocelot Press Book of the Month, and today, she’s here to tell us all about the setting for one of the most famous assassination plots in history. And, it happens, a place I visited whilst on holiday last September! Over to you Sue…


Brian Wilmer is God’s gift to amateur dramatics – and he knows it. So when the Castlemarsh Players take the ambitious decision to stage Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, there is only one man…

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Vanessa Couchman

Today, I’m delighted to welcome my Ocelot Press fellow author and friend, Sue Barnard, to the blog. Sue’s novels often take inspiration from classic works of literature, including Shakespeare. Her The Unkindest Cut of All is set in the present day, but takes Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, as its starting point. It’s our Book of the Month on Ocelot Press this month (which just happens to include the Ides of March).

Sue has written a fascinating post about one legacy of many the Romans left us.

Sue also has a competition for you to win a paperback copy of The Unkindest Cut of All. And the book is on special offer in Kindle format for a short time. Read more about these offers at the end of the post.

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Jennifer C. Wilson

Have you come across Jolabokaflod before? The Historical Writers’ Forum is celebrating this Icelandic tradition throughout December, with members giving away copies of our books – make sure you’re following our page on Facebook, to read all the blogs, learn about us and our books, and of course, take part in any special offers or giveaways…

Today, I’m giving away three ebook copies of my border reiver romantic adventure, The Raided Heart.

To go into the draw for the chance to win, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, then simply tell me this: What’s your favourite Christmas song? For me, Christmas begins when I hear Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody in a public place. One of my happiest memories was in London a couple of years ago, and hearing it as I looked into the gorgeously-decorated window of Selfridges. We’ll ignore the fact that it was tipping…

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Ocelot Press

Who’s your favourite historical figure? There are plenty to choose from! Some are eternally famous, while others might have been prominent in their own time but have slid from recognition today.

Starting today, the Historical Writers Forum is organising a blog hop over a fortnight, in which seven historical fiction writers choose their favourite character from history and tell us why they find the person so fascinating.

Four Ocelot Press authors are involved:

Jennifer C. Wilson will write about Mary Queen of Scots, whom she has admitted to stalking before moving on to Richard III. Mary was imprisoned by Elizabeth I after she was forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son James. Mary was held in captivity for more than 18 years and then executed, having been found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth.

Nancy Jardine shines the spotlight on General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, a Roman…

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Food, Glorious Food!

Ocelot Press

This week (11-17 May 2020) is National Vegetarian Week here in the UK. The aim of the event is to make more people aware of vegetarian food and to encourage them to try something new. Whilst I’m not a vegetarian myself, I’m very interested in vegetarian cookery, and I’ve written a short post about it elsewhere, which you can read here.

But in any case, I never need an excuse to think about food – and that includes in my writing. I like to use food as a metaphor, and it works very well in a romance-based plot. It gives the heroine (and the readers) an insight into how much more enriched her life could be if she chooses to share it with the hero.

This can be seen in the following extract from The Unkindest Cut of All. The heroine, Sarah, would be the first to admit…

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Ocelot Press

April is the cruellest month for poets.

It is National Poetry Writing Month (often shortened to NaPoWriMo, or sometimes just NaPo), which takes place every year throughout the month of April.  Each day a prompt appears on the NaPoWriMo website, and poets throughout the world are invited to take up the challenge and post their efforts on their blogs.  The latter probably calls for far more bravery than the actual writing.

I first did NaPo way back in 2013.  Here is one such pathetic effort from that far-off time:


There once was a wannabe poet

whose verses were dire, sad to say.

Then one April, she found NaPoWriMo:

thirty days of a poem a day.

Each morning she looked at the website,

and in the available time

she grappled with form, structure, metre,

enjambement, content and rhyme.

‘Twas the twenty-fifth day of the challenge:

“Write a…

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Ocelot Press

My first encounter with Shakespeare was at secondary school. Then, as now, studying his works was a non-negotiable part of the English Literature curriculum. Like most stroppy teenagers I found it very hard to understand the plays, and even harder to understand why anyone in their right mind would ever want to read them. Faced with a few hundred pages of solid text written more than three centuries earlier, and in a near-incomprehensible style into the bargain, our collective response was “What on earth is the point of all this?” (That, at any rate, was the gist of our collective response…)

What we stroppy teenagers had totally failed to appreciate, at least at first, is that the plays are not meant to be read in the same way that one would read novels. They were written for performance. It’s only when the text is translated into speech and action (on…

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