divali-framedDiwali is being celebrated now; it’s the Hindu 5 day festival of light. The festival celebrates light over dark, good over evil and wisdom over ignorance.

Diwali actually means ‘rows of lighted lamps’. You will find houses, shops and many public places decorated with lamps and candles. It’s a time for spring-cleaning homes, firework displays, decorating everything with fairy lights, exchanging gifts and wearing new clothes. No wonder everyone looks forward to it!

In India, Hindus will leave the windows and doors open so that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, can find her way into people’s homes. I spent Diwali in Varanasi, India, a few years ago and it was an experience mixed with wonder, excitement and terror as the night sky was full of colourful fireworks and the streets full of firecrackers being set off in all directions. I eventually had to take refuge on a rooftop to keep safe!







Thank you for the dream

This is such a heart-warming story, so I thought I would share:

One rainy Sunday afternoon in 1989, with encouragement and much-needed help from her father, a 7-year-old girl named Amy decided to send something to Roald Dahl. Taking inspiration from her favourite book, The BFG, and using a combination of oil, coloured water and glitter, Amy sent the author a very fitting and undeniably adorable gift: one of her dreams, contained in a bottle.

Thankfully, the sentiment wasn’t lost on Roald Dahl. His lovely response can be seen below.



Indian Chai

Following on from the post below…here is the chai.

I wouldn’t have survived my travels in India without it. A comforting concoction of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper to make the masala (spice mixture) and of course there is milk, sugar, and loose tea leaves that the masala mix is added to. However, the recipe varies as many chai sellers have their own secret family recipe.

Thanks to Tanvi at The Haihi Cooks for the photo.

Here is a link for the full recipe: http://thehathicooks.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/how-to-make-best-chai-ever.html – but you can also buy chai tea bags which is a much easier option, it just won’t taste quite the same.




Varanasi in India

Varanasi is featured in Salmek’s Crystal. It’s a facinating place full of vibrant colour, people, incense, temples, chanting… and mystery. It’s the place where Salmek sees things she has never seen before,  and there is danger all around her.

One of my favourite things about Varanasi was sitting on the steps and watching the world go by – it really is like being part of a movie set. In fact, there is so much going on all at the same time you have to go off and take a chai break!

Tea plays an important roll in any trip away, as you can see from the post below!







Egyptian Mint Tea

I am only posting this as I fancy a cup myself this morning, and as I don’t have any mint to hand, I will have to imagine it.

Mint tea was the first drink Salmek had when she arrived in Egypt and it’s really tasty and refreshing. One of the best things about visiting different countries is meeting different people, learning about different cultures, drinking the local beverages… and eating the local food!






Saqqara Pyramid in Egypt

saqquara-framedThis is a great photo of the Saqqara Step Pyramid in Egypt; it was taken by Mstyslav Chernov.

In Salmek’s Crystal, Salmek travels to Egypt to meet her father. While there,  she’s drawn by the power of this sacred site.

I love fact the cobras are in the foreground, it really draws you in and makes you want to explore the mystery of this special pyramid.

It’s been a few years since I was last there, but at least I get to revist these places when I write about them!



Book Two – where are you?

I’ve had a few requests for book two from those who have finished book one and are keen for the adventure to continue. I can’t wait for it either, it’s frustrating that I can’t write it as quickly as I would like. I get carried away with the whole thing myself – completly lost in it all.

At the moment, we’re in California at the base of Mount Shasta. Things are unravelling as new characters are drawn into the plot. I’ve added a photo of the beautiful place we’re all exploring in the chapters ahead. I know it’s a tease, but you can read book one again while you wait…


Glastonbury Tor – Michael Tower

Here is a photo I took of the Michael Tower on Glastonbury Tor, to help you visualise it when you read Salmek’s Crystal. There are stone benches inside that you can sit on and take shelter if it rains or the wind is bitingView from Glastonbury Tor (2)-framed



Book Signing in Glastonbury

I was in Glastonbury all last weekend catching up with friends, and of course, in Gothic Image Bookshop on Saturday 31st August for a book signing – my first! Thanks to Tor Webster of Tors Tours of the Tor for the photo.

Maria - Book SigningAll the staff were so friendly and welcoming, and I had a great couple of hours meeting people and signing books. Thanks to everyone who came along and shared their stories with me, you all made it such a special day.

If you ever visit Glastonbury, pop into Gothic Image as there’s so much to look at: books about ley lines and sacred sites, best sellers and a great music section at the back called Changing World Music. The owner, Jamie George, runs tours of Sacred Britain and played a major part in the inspiration for the late Marion Zimmer Bradley to write the bestselling novel The Mists of Avalon.

On Sunday, I headed up to Glastonbury Tor. You can see from the photo I’ve added that the view was great that day, but that’s not always the case. There are times you can’t see a thing from the top as you are enveloped in mist and it feels as if you are floating above the clouds in world of your own!View from Glastonbury Tor (1)-framed