80th Anniversary of the Balham Underground bombing

Balham Underground Station was one of the many deep level tube stations where people sheltered during the Blitz in World War 2.

On the night of October 14, 1940, at 8.02 pm, a 1400 kg semi-armour piercing fragmentation bomb fell onto the road just above the northern end of the platform tunnels. It created a large crater, severing water and sewer lines, and the ceiling of the northbound tunnel below the road collapsed, creating an avalanche of water, earth and gravel that quickly buried and killed nearly 70 of the 600 people sheltering there, including several London Transport staff. A further 70 were injured.

The debris flowed down the platform and through the cross passages to the southbound side, although the damage was not as extensive as on the northbound side.

It was one of the worst disasters to happen in the UK during the Second World War.

This is a photo taken of the northbound platform at Balham Underground Station, looking north, after the ceiling collapsed.

As the press was heavily censored due to wartime regulations, most of the details of the damage, deaths and injuries were not reported.

You can read more details about the bombing at these excellent websites:

London Remembers

Ian Visits

There’s a very good article about the casualties and how the incident was reported in the press, here:

Wednesday October 14, 2020 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Balham bombing. To commemorate the event, Riverside Radio in South London will be broadcasting a new documentary about the tragedy.

The program starts at 8.00pm (British time) and will run for one hour, featuring memories from families, relatives and experts. The show also features Simon Cook, the current London Underground Station Manager at Balham; and Nick Cooper, who is an expert on the London Underground and has made a special study of how the Second World War impacted upon its operation, the role the Underground played in the lives of Londoners, and what survives from that era.

You can tune in to the broadcast on DAB Digital radio, online at www.RiversideRadio.com or by asking a smart speaker to ‘Play Riverside Radio’.

There’s also a Facebook page here:

And there’s more information about the radio broadcast here:

In 2016 I wrote a novel called In Loving Memory. It was the second of my time travel stories detailing the adventures of Charlie Lowe and her 19th century companion, Shaun Deeley. The storyline takes Charlie and Shaun back to London in 1940, where they find themselves trapped in Balham Station at exactly the time that the bomb is due to drop. They know what’s going to happen…but what can they do?

My website has a couple of pages dedicated to photos of the damage at Balham from 1940, and photos of the station as it appears now. Here are the links:

Balham in 1940

Balham Now

I recently got the rights to In Loving Memory back from my former publisher, and reissued the book with a new cover.

The photo was taken by Karen Lillystone and it is actually the northbound platform at Balham, looking south. The clock is a replica, but it is fixed at the same spot as the clock in the 1940 photo above.

I also reissued all three of my time travel books in one omnibus volume.

This cover photo was taken by Simon Cook (yes! the same Simon Cook who is Balham’s station manager), and shows the northbound platform looking north. You can compare it to the 1940 photo, above, and, hauntingly, see how much debris actually filled the tunnel.

If you’re interested in reading In Loving Memory or the omnibus edition, you can find both on Amazon.

In Loving Memory
Paperback ISBN 978-1777298678
Ebook ASIN B08DC6DV8H.

Omnibus Edition
Paperback ISBN  978-1777298685

I’m very grateful to both Simon Cook and Nick Cooper for the assistance they gave me as I was researching In Loving Memory, and I will be listening to the broadcast and remembering the many souls that were lost on October 14.


Filed under In Loving Memory, My novels

Adventures with Kindle Scout

A few weeks ago I decided I’d test my luck by submitting my latest novel, Marianne’s Memory, to Kindle Scout.

For those who don’t know, Kindle Scout is an initiative by Amazon to identify unpublished genre-based novels which they believe will sell successfully in ebook format on a worldwide platform. The program has been around for a couple of years, although I’d only heard about it very recently.

A couple of things happen when you first submit your novel. First, it has to meet basic requirements. It needs to be well-written, it has to have been edited so that it’s publication-ready, it needs a decent cover, a short one-liner, and you have to write a 500 character “blurb”.

I’m pretty much ok on the well-written front and the editing front. At least I think I am. My last novel, In Loving Memory, which was published by Diversion Books, underwent a round of editing which, to me, seemed fairly minor in terms of required changes. Most of the edits were cosmetic rather than structural. I learned much from Eliza Kirby, my then-editor. So I applied what I’d learned when I was writing Marianne’s Memory. I know the manuscript’s not perfect…I know I will always benefit from the eyes and the brains of a professional editor. But without the funds to pay for that professional editor, I had to go with my own best efforts…and five drafts later, I think I’ve passed muster.

My cover is quite interesting. It looks nothing like the covers you usually see on paperbacks on shelves in bookstores and, indeed, on Amazon. It’s very sparse and it’s very white and it’s very very unusual.

mm 20 pc

The design is by Jerry Hills, a professional graphic designer suggested to me by a mutual friend. I sent him a photo of a real Carnaby Street shop, and a description of what I thought the design might include, and Jerry came up with the rest. He researched the colours and fashions of 1965 London and I couldn’t have been happier.

There’s a back cover, too, and a spine, which are ready to go for the paperback edition.

When it comes to one-liners however, let’s face it, I’m rubbish. I went to film school. I learned how to write loglines for screenplays. I wasn’t very good at it back then, either. And Kindle Scout seriously limits you to 45 characters or less.

I’m really hoping that Unplanned leap into 1965 leads to wild times captures some imaginations. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t come up with something catchier. Like, Dead pirate radio DJ isn’t. Or 19th century sex in 21st century stable. Or Four Eyes Coffee Shop produces Spectacles.

As for the 500 character “blurb”… I’ll let you go and read that for yourselves on the Kindle Scout site.

My novel was accepted within a day or two. My campaign runs from January 25 until February 24, 2018 and in that time I’ve been encouraged to rustle up my contacts and encourage them to nominate Marianne’s Memory for publication.

To be honest I’m not a shining star on social networking. There was a time, eight or nine years ago, when I was on Twitter day and night. Twitter inspired my novel Cold Play. These days, most of my Twitterfriends have found other lives, or other paths, or other platforms.

I hesitate to spam my friends on Facebook. It gets a bit boring when all they hear from me is a plea to go and vote for my novel – especially if they’re not really fans of gentle romantic time travel stories. I barely have time to post ordinary stories about myself these days.

My third social networking platform is Instagram. I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet, really. I don’t think of my life in terms of pictures.

But I’m giving it my best shot. On Twitter and Instagram I’m posting daily messages which contain a little bit of a plot spoiler, something new each time. And to prevent repetition, I’m having some fun with Photofunia, which is a website where you can insert your own photo into a scene, download it and use it to your heart’s content.

Here’s the website: https://photofunia.com/

And here’s my favourite graphic so far:


On Facebook I did one big pitch at the beginning of the campaign and I’ve done one small reminder today. I may do one more towards the end.

I’ve also personally emailed a smallish list of friends, family and work colleagues asking for their support.

I’ve got a blurb on my personal website. I’ve got a blurb on my Facebook Writer page.

And yes, I have paid for a little bit of advertising, just to see if it makes a difference. I’m keeping an eye on my results. Kindle Scout is quite helpful in that they’ll tell you how many page views you’ve had daily and overall, and how many hours you’ve spent in Hot and Trending.

Overall page views and numbers of nominations and Hot and Trending hours seem to have something to do with whether or not a book is chosen for publication, but they are not, according to all that I’ve read, the sole determinants. Plenty of novels which consistently appear in the Hot and Trending list are not chosen.

Marianne’s Memory has so far spent 22 hours over 2 days in Hot and Trending. That was right at the beginning of the campaign.

We writers aren’t told how many nominations we’ve received. I think that’s probably a good thing, for us and for Amazon. It allows the Kindle Scout team to make their decisions independently.

As for page views, Marianne’s Memory has so far received a total of 3.5K, the vast majority of those views (96%) from people who are checking out the Kindle Scout website. I have no idea whether 3.5K is good, or bad, or somewhere in between after a third of the campaign has been completed. And I really have no idea how or if any of those views translate into nominations.

The reward for being chosen for publication is (for me, anyway) quite lucrative. A $1500 advance, a publishing contract, lots of Amazon-supported publicity, some pretty good royalty rates and a much higher author profile than I have now.

If Marianne’s Memory isn’t chosen, I’ll be self-publishing it anyway, in ebook and paperback format, but I know the advance PR that’s been generated so far will be extremely helpful.

If Marianne’s Memory is chosen, it’ll come out as an ebook through Amazon Kindle, and I’ll be self-publishing the paperback.

It’s a win-win situation, really. and I’ll come away from the experience with nothing but positives.

Here’s the link if you’d like to go and see what it’s all about:


You’ll find the first 5,000 words of the novel there (warning: in the middle of Chapter 2 there is actually some rousing 19th century sex in a 21st century stable….). You’ll also find my 500-character blurb, and three little insights into what’s making me tick right now. Also a Nominate Me button. Please do – if you’re so inclined 🙂

Thank you!

And I’ll update this blog as soon as I know the outcome…yay or nay.

UPDATE: March 12, 2018. As promised, the outcome. MM wasn’t selected by Kindle Scout. On the other hand, as of today, neither were any of the other  novels which were sharing my 30 day campaign, and there were a fair number of them. I’ve just uploaded MM as an ebook on Amazon Kindle, and I’m waiting for the paperback to go live. A message has been sent by Amazon to everyone who nominated MM, letting them know the book’s now available. I’m very grateful for all the support and curious as to how this might translate into actual sales.

The book’s available worldwide on Amazon but here’s the link to amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BDQ1NBX

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Disturbing the Peace

I’ve written a mystery. It’s the first time I’ve ventured into the genre and I have to say, I’m very excited. I loved giving my hero, Jason Davey, a quest and following him from London to northern Canada to solve the disappearance of a legendary musician.

If Jason sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve written about him before. He’s the hero of my novel Cold Play, which took place aboard a cruise ship. Jason was the guitar-playing entertainer who sat in the TopDeck lounge, observing his audience and life at sea on one particular voyage from Vancouver to Alaska five years ago.

Now, Jason’s come ashore and he’s got a dream gig at The Blue Devil jazz club in London. His son, Dominic, studies film-making at university, and when Dom asks him to help find Ben Quigley, a legendary musician who’s been missing for four years, Jason leaps at the chance. His investigation takes him to the northern Canadian town of Peace River, Alberta, in the dead of winter.

Why Peace River, Alberta, you ask?

Here’s some fascinating insight into how this story came to be.

In October 2016, Russ Goddard, my father-in-law, died. He was a long-time resident of Peace River. He and my mother-in-law, Jeanette, were homesteaders in the 1960s. They got the last piece of Canadian government land available in northern Alberta, promising to clear it of trees and plant crops in exchange for a small fee ($5 an acre) and title to the property. Their farm is about 20km north of town. My husband Jim and his two sisters grew up there. Jim started his broadcasting career at the local radio station, CKYL (his name is still embedded in the concrete in the parking lot at the back of the station –  Jim Goddard, July 1975). My sister-in-law Irene works at the Peace River Co-op, and still lives on the farm.

I’ve been to Peace River a few times, both in the summer and the winter. I’ve met the neighbouring farmers (all long gone now), and I’ve met the people who live in town. I’ve been to the cemetery (twice), and done a car-tour of the neighbourhoods. I’ve been up and down the long hill and the bridge over the river so many times I’ve lost count. I’ve seen the Northern Lights. I know how incredibly cold and isolated it can be there in the winter, although because I grew up in Saskatchewan, I’m pretty familiar with down-filled parkas and plugging your car in overnight – unlike poor Jason.

This past September, Jim and I travelled back to Peace River to inter his dad’s ashes in the cemetery. Our journey involved a 737 from Vancouver to Edmonton and then a Dash-8 to Grande Prairie. Because of flight delays we arrived in Grand Prairie about 11pm. We rented a car and drove two hours down a fairly deserted Highway 2 to Peace River in the middle of the night. We couldn’t make the car radio work so we listened to all my treadmill tunes on my iPhone, singing along to Cliff Richard and the Shadows and the Pet Shop Boys and The Guess Who. As we neared Fairview, the halfway point, I had to pee so badly we stopped the car on the side of the road and I managed to relieve myself without involving my shoes and socks (women – a hint: always pee facing uphill so your pee flows backwards and away from your feet). I was extraordinarily proud of myself – and as I went back to the car, I saw the most amazing Northern Lights dancing in the sky, sharing the moment.

You’ll recognize that scene when you read the story.

For the first time in all of our visits to Peace River, we booked into a hotel up on the hill to the west of the town. We’d always stayed at the farm before. We ate dinner at a nearby steakhouse. We had brunch at a café in Riverview. We drove up to the cemetery for a lovely ceremony burying Russ’s ashes, in a beautiful box, in the ground next to Jeanette’s ashes. Afterwards, Jim and I drove out to the farm, where we saw the yard littered with pieces of hairy animal hide. I thought a bear had slaughtered a deer and scattered the remnants as it had eaten them. But there was no blood and there were no guts or bones. My father-in-law used to make leather goods in his workshop, and he’d stored the deer-hides in an outbuilding. It turned out a bear had indeed come to visit, and had punched a hole in the side of the wooden structure and had snacked on the hides the same way a dog would enjoy a few leather chews.

You’ll read about all of these events in Disturbing the Peace, too.

One big detail I did change was the farmhouse. The Goddard house is actually a very large mobile home perched on a permanent base (in common with many of the rural homes out there), with an extra porch and a sundeck added.

During one of our past trips to Peace River, we visited some family friends who were living in a house that seemed to be haunted. Workmen had reported mysterious and unexplained feelings of un-ease. Lights had gone on and off randomly. The family dog refused to come inside. The focus of the bad feelings seemed to be centered on a large cupboard under the stairs, and I have to admit I spent the evening watching it and picking up some very bad vibes myself if stood near it. The house had apparently been built by a pilot who’d crashed his helicopter and died, leaving parts of it unfinished.

I thought it would be good to move that house onto the farm I write about in Disturbing the Peace. But it wouldn’t be a new house, it would be a very very old house, something dating from the early 1900s. I had an idea I might incorporate a bit of a ghost story into the plot. The idea didn’t fly in the end, but I kept the house. And because I wanted to write something authentic, I looked around for a real house in Peace River that I could describe with accuracy. I found just what I wanted in the Properties for Sale ads online: the old RNWMP Officers’ Residence on 99 Street, an American Foursquare design that’s been designated a heritage property.

So when you’re reading a description of Miriam Bailey’s farm in the story, imagine this:


And have a look here for the description

(scroll down to the RNWMP Officers’ Residence)

As we were driving back to Grande Prairie from Peace River this past September, I said to Jim: “I bet I could write a really good story about this town.”

“Why don’t you?” he replied, humorously.

And that’s just what I did.

I must add the usual disclaimer, of course: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

And that’s the honest truth.

Disturbing the Peace is a novella available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon worldwide. Canadian readers – unfortunately if you want the paperback you’ll have to buy it from the American site Amazon.com, but the ebook is downloadable from the Canadian site Amazon.ca

All of my other novels, including Cold Play, are available from Amazon worldwide in ebook and paperback formats (and Canadian readers can buy both formats from the Canadian site).

Here are the links to Amazon for Disturbing the Peace (links will take you to Amazon.com but it’s available in many different countries – just navigate to the Amazon where you live!)


Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/Disturbing-Peace-Winona-Kent-ebook/dp/B07864GT6N

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0988082640

And for more info about me and my writing, please visit my website at www.winonakent.com



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The Eleventh Interesting Fact about Shaun Deeley

A little later this month, after In Loving Memory is released, there will be a web feature called Ten Interesting Facts about Shaun Deeley, presented by Joanne Guidoccio .

I’ll share the feature widely, of course, because Mr. Deeley is one of the two main characters in my historical romance novels, and I’m a little in love with him. I hope that love is infectious. All of my books seem to have men as their heroes, and I’ve always been a little in love with all of them, but Mr. Deeley has turned out to be special. He burst out of me in a flash of inspiration, a character in what began as a screenplay about researching family trees and solving ancestral mysteries and, for some unfathomable reason, he was born into Regency England.

I wasn’t overly obsessed with Jane Austen. I was hopeless at History in school. If you were to have told me at the start of my writing career that my most successful stories would be about a gentleman who was born in 1791 who suddenly finds himself transported two centuries into the future, where he continues his time travelling adventures with a museum worker named Charlie, I’d have fallen over laughing. Time travel! Historical romance! Regency England? And now the Blitz!?

Of all the heroes I’ve written about, Mr. Deeley is definitely my favourite. He’s impetuous, and fearless, and his behaviour and philosophy come from a much more genteel and mannered time, which does lead to some humorous situations in the present – and in the past.

I’m not quite sure where in my imagination Mr. Deeley himself actually came from. Perhaps he was always there, lurking, my secret lover just waiting for the right time to reveal himself. Physically, he’s tall-ish, and he has dark, rather long hair (as was the fashion in 1825, when he first met Charlie). His occupation was groom at Monsieur Duran’s manor. He was afforded a classical education (inflicted upon him by the very aged and imaginatively diminished Reverend Hopwood Smailes) and, in fact, he speaks Latin – which you’ll discover, somewhat humorously, when you read In Loving Memory.

He constantly amuses Charlie, and frightens her at times, too – when he first came to live with her, he tried to boil water using the fireplace in the sitting room – with disastrous results, especially to the plastic tea kettle. Charlie is cautious by nature and a little bit hesitant when it comes to taking risks. Mr. Deeley is the perfect foil for her, because the biggest risk he ever took was leaping into the 21st century with her. He can be frightened – and is, several times, in the new novel. But he’s also practical and quite logical, so common sense usually prevails.

There’s one more thing about Mr. Deeley. He’s a hero who has suffered. I have a philosophy, which I share with Emma Braden, the wise old spywriter who created Jarrod Spencer’s character in The Cilla Rose Affair. “Closet sadists,” is how Emma refers to the female readers of her spy novels. “The essential difference between male readers and female is that men like their heroes to have near-misses. Life-threatening situations from which they narrowly escape, virtually unscathed. The ladies prefer a spot of torture—nothing too dangerous, mind you—just enough to impart a semblance of suffering, from which their hero ought to be delivered in one piece—if perhaps a trifle bruised. Heroes who have suffered require mothering. That’s the secret of writing for women.”

What do Richard Sharpe, Jamie Fraser, that guy from Starship Troopers and Shaun Deeley have in common? They’ve all been subjected to the lash.

Come on ladies, ‘fess up. You love them even more because they’ve been flogged, don’t you?

You won’t read about Mr. Deeley’s ordeal in Persistence of Memory, or In Loving Memory, or even in the little bonus short story that’s included at the end of In Loving Memory, Easy When You Know How.

A couple of years ago I contributed a short piece to an anthology put together by a group of writers who were then under contract to Fable Press. The idea was to give our characters an extra adventure, to help promote our novels. The theme of the anthology was “carnival” and for my story, I created a village fair at Stoneford, and sent Charlie and Mr. Deeley back in time with the help of a gypsy fortune teller and a tarot reading.

a gypsy fortune teller

tarot - the lovers

The Rider Waite tarot card that caused all the trouble!

They ended up in 1848, where they met Charlie’s direct ancestor, a young trouble-maker who was about to be quite deservedly flogged in the village square for bad behaviour.

whipping post

A typical village stock and whipping post in an English village.

Charlie was aghast. She knew this ancestor was a hemophiliac – she carried the gene herself – and this punishment would undoubtedly kill the poor fellow. And if Augustus Duran (the son of Sarah and Louis Augustus Duran the Greater) died in 1848, Charlie herself would never be born.

You’ll have to read the short story yourself to find out just how gallant Mr. Deeley can be. Due to contractual agreements I can’t post it publicly…however if you email me I might be able to help 🙂 (winona at winonakent dot com) (replace the usual words with the usual symbols).

And that will give you just one more reason to love Mr. Deeley and enjoy his next big adventure with Charlie.

In Loving Memory is released on July 26 by Diversion Books. You can buy it online at all the usual outlets, and you can order it from your favourite brick-and-mortar bookstore.


Please join me at the online launch party (on Facebook) on July 26, 12 noon Pacific, 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK. 1940s music, Ration Book delectables, and free party favours!



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In Loving Memory…Betty’s house

When I started writing In Loving Memory I knew I wanted to center the story around the little terraced house in Balham where Charlie’s grandmother, Betty Singleton (later Lewis), lived, and where Charlie’s mother, Jackie Lewis (later Duran), grew up.

I have very vivid memories of my own grandmother’s house, which isn’t in Balham at all – but it is in south London, nearest tube station Tooting Broadway, two stations south of Balham on the Northern Line. So when you’re reading about Betty’s house, you are in fact, reading about my Nana’s house.

Two things about my Nana’s house: it was likely built before 1930, and it was very small. It had the standard (and very common) layout of many terraced houses from that era: two downstairs reception rooms, a tiny galley kitchen, a front hallway with a steep staircase leading upstairs, two reasonably sized bedrooms on the second floor, a third miniscule “box bedroom” over the stairs, and a loo that had an original cistern up high near the ceiling, with a chain that you yanked on to make it flush (I still remember my mother’s reference to flushing the toilet – it was always “pull the chain.”).

The house still exists – I’ve seen it on Google and on property websites – although it’s been renovated inside and out, and its little overgrown front garden has been paved over to make a parking spot for its owner’s car. I have no idea what the back garden looks like: my memories are of an overgrown jungle with fishponds that ceased to have fish when I was about 3. There was no Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden – at least not when my grandparents lived there. (They moved into the house after the war). The previous owners might well have had one. So I made that part up.

Here’s a picture of the house before the changes, enhanced a little with some quick photoshoppery to make the front door and the outside trim the same colour of green that I remember.

Betty house-11

And here are the floor plans for the inside. You’ll have to imagine the furniture as you read the novel, but you can at least see how the rooms were arranged.

betty downstairs 3.jpg


betty upstairs5


As for the air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden, if you have no idea what an Anderson shelter was, here’s a drawing of what one of them would have looked like.


The source for this diagram is http://www.bigginhill-history.co.uk/andersonwhatis.htm
If you go to that website you can read more about each section of the shelter by clicking on their picture.

Here are a couple of pictures of people posing outside their shelters, taken during World War Two:


anderson exterior 2

The sources for these two photos are http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/world_war2/air_raids/ and http://www.andersonshelters.org.uk/index.html

And finally, here’s a photo of what it was probably like inside – this is a mockup from a museum display here http://forums.airshows.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=67519

interior shelter

The house my mum and her family lived in during the war did, of course, have an air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden. My mum tells me it was far less comfortable than this, and usually quite damp and cold. My grandfather was an ARP warden and worked overnight during the Blitz. My grandmother had three children – she occupied one bed against the wall with her youngest daughter, while my mum and her brother shared the other bed on the opposite side. My mum has added that there was rarely any sleep on those nights when the bombs were dropping.

In Loving Memory will be released on July 26 by Diversion Books (paperback and ebook).




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“In Loving Memory”…new novel!

I haven’t been blogging very much recently, alas – real life has taken a big bite out of my time, and I’ve been trying to get a new novel started – the third in my historical romance / time travel series featuring Charlie and Mr. Deeley. I’m happy to say I’ve got the outline done and I’m working on Chapter Four as we speak.

In the meantime…novel #2 in the series is nearly ready to be released. It’s called In Loving Memory and it’s set in London in 1940, at the height of The Blitz. Publication day is July 26, and you can pre-order it from Amazon (the link is to the US Amazon but you can pre-order from Amazon in any country) or from Diversion Books.

Here’s the wonderful new cover, which I absolutely love:



There’s a fantastic mention on the cover from Publishers Weekly, which gave it a starred review:

“Kent combines time travel, mystery, and romance in a delightful sequel to Persistence of Memory that’s easily accessible for new readers.”

If you’d like to read the entire review, it’s here on the Publishers Weekly website (when the review was written the book was still sporting its old cover). (“A starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality.” – Publishers Weekly)

And an insider’s tip – there’s a bonus short story included at the end – Easy When You Know How – which takes Charlie and Mr. Deeley to 1964 and the premiere of the Beatles’ film  A Hard Day’s Night. This story sets up the new novel I’m writing now, which takes place in Swinging London in the 1960s.

Here’s the official “blurb” for In Loving Memory:
In this mesmerizing romance, a woman out of time falls in love with a man for whom time is running out.

In Winona Kent’s novel Persistence of Memory, Charlie Lowe, a young widow in Stoneford, England, was accidentally transported back to 1825, where she fell in love with Shaun Deeley, a groom employed at Stoneford Manor. They are only back in the present for seemingly a breath before a piece of wartime shrapnel sends them tumbling back through time to 1940, the height of the Blitz. There, they discover pieces of Charlie’s past that counter everything she thought she knew about herself.

Charlie and Shaun have decisions to make—do they interfere in time’s progress to save a man? Do they put their own future at risk by doing nothing? And how much time do these two lovers have left?


I’ll have more to say about In Loving Memory next time – and I promise it will be soon! Hint: one of the main storylines involves the bombing of Balham Underground Station on the night of October 14, 1940, which killed more than 60 shelterers and injured many more.

Here are a couple of real photos from the aftermath of that tragedy. Imagine what could happen if Charlie and Mr. Deeley found themselves there…at 8.02pm…on that fateful night….

balham 2


balham 1





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Books. And me.

One of the things we writers will be doing on April 30, during Authors for Indies Day, is chatting with customers at our favourite bookstores. One of the things we’ll be chatting about is our favourite books.

I must admit I have some trepidation about this. I’m probably the least likely person a bookstore will want on the selling floor talking about other writers’ books. I’m woefully out of touch when it comes to contemporary writing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love reading. I love books. All books. It’s just that between working full-time, and researching my own novels (I’m a stickler for facts so every historical detail in my stories will be excruciatingly correct), and writing my stories, and commuting, eating and sleeping, I honestly don’t have much time left over to catch up with the books that other people are reading and talking about.

Most of my reading these days tends to be books written in the past, because I love reading contemporary accounts of the eras that I’m writing about. For  instance, for Persistence of Memory, I sourced out a wonderful relic whose title page, inside the cover, reads: A Complete System of Cookery, on a Plan Entirely New, Consisting of Everything That is Requisite for Cooks to Know in the Kitchen Business; Containing Bills of Fare for Every Day in the Year and Directions to Dress Each Dish; Being One Year’s Work, at the Marquis of Buckingham’s, From the 1st of January, to the 31st of December, 1805. By John Simpson, Present Cook to the most Noble, The Marquis of Buckingham. London: Printed for W. Stewart, Opposite Albany, Piccadilly, 1806.

This excellent book provided me with everything I needed to know about the sorts of meals Louis Augustus Duran (The Lesser) could expect to be eating at Stoneford Manor in 1825.

For my next novel, In Loving Memory (due to be released this July by Diversion Books), my reading wasn’t so much published books as published accounts, first-hand stories from men, women and children who lived through the Blitz in London in the 1940s. And stories told to me by my mum, who was a WAAF, and my dad’s brother, a child refugee from Europe who had relocated to England with his parents. And reports. So many reports, and helpful maps and diagrams, the most brilliant of which is a detailed drawing of Balham Underground Station showing the exact layout of the northbound platform and the exact location where the bomb dropped on the night of October 14, 1940, and the exact extent of the damage to the platform where so many people were sheltering that night. That diagram, more than anything, allowed me to write, with total accuracy, the scenes where Charlie and Mr. Deeley are caught in the devastation.

For Marianne’s Memory, the third novel in my Charlie and Mr. Deeley series, which I’m just beginning to write, I’m going back to London in the 1960s. I’m old enough to remember that time – I was 10 for a good part of 1965, and turned 11 in September of that year. The year before, 1964, I had simultaneously discovered the Beatles and become aware of a world beyond the little prairie city where I was growing up. I knew that London existed, of course, because I was born there. We moved to Canada in 1957. But by 1965 I’d already been back twice, and the last visit, Christmas 1961, had made a huge and lasting impression on me.

It’s one of my regrets that I actually managed to miss London in the Swinging Sixties. I was a little too early in 1961, and although we stayed until the new year, 1962, rang in, there were no real hints about what was on the verge of happening. Other than my cousin, Angela, who was somewhat older than me, who apparently mentioned to my mum in a letter written later that year, that she quite liked a new pop group called The Beatles.

The next time we went back to London was 1968. I was 13, about to turn 14, and I had done my research. I’d seen To Sir With Love and Smashing Time. I could sing their theme songs and knew their lyrics off by heart. I was Judy Geeson’s Pamela Dare and I was Rita Tushingham’s Brenda. (Well, not really. They were far more adventurous and worldly-wise than I was. And much older.) But the important thing was, I was on a mission. I was going to experience Swinging London first hand.

Except that, by 1968, it was all over. Swinging London was reduced to vinyl Union Jack carrybags touting the slogan I’m Backing Britain, sold in stalls alongside British flag buttons and black and white postcards that looked like street signs, the most popular being Carnaby Street and Kings Road.

Ah, Carnaby Street. The centre of the Swinging London universe. Except that it all looked a bit tatty and tawdry, and tired, like an over-the-hill party girl who’s been out too late and has fallen asleep on the Underground with her eye makeup smudged and her hair a bit of a mess and her clothes dishevelled.

I was disappointed. I wanted it to be like the Carnaby Street in the films, the one I’d dreamed of.

I suppose that’s why I’ve decided to send Charlie and Mr. Deeley back to 1965. They’re living the dream I had imagined. And perhaps they might, along the way, discover that it wasn’t quite the idyllic time my 11-year-old brain had conjured up. But they’ll have quite a romp in the process.

But back, now, to my original thoughts about books. I’ve just done a count, and in my 820 square foot flat, I have 16 bookcases. It’s fair to say that bookcases comprise probably 75% of the furniture in the flat. There are 2 in the main bedroom, 4 in the second bedroom (which is actually an office), one in the hallway, and 9 in the living room, and they’re all crammed with books. The biggest one in the living room is ceiling-to-floor and takes up an entire end wall.

Looking at the books occupying the shelves is like looking at snapshots of my life. At some point I tried to organize them by theme or author, but abandoned the idea as I kept running out of room. So now they’re a higgledy piggledy of collections. All of my textbooks from my BA in English, serious volumes about literary criticism and the discovery of deeper meaning in Milton, Chaucer, Mark Twain, Shakespeare… and most of their published works. All of the novels written by John Galsworthy and Monica Dickens and Ian Fleming and John le Carre. Spy stories and trash stories, popular fiction and unpopular fiction, old medical encyclopedias, how to make macrame plant hangers, how to play the guitar, the history of London’s Underground, assorted A to Z map books, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

All of these predate e-books, of course. I have a growing collection of digital books too though. Like many people I love the smell and the tactile feel of a real book, and I freely admit to dog-earing pages, because I believe if you turn down the corner of a page, it’s a love-sign, not a defacement.

But I also love the versatility of e-books, and the instant-ness of being able to buy and download them. And their biggest advantages for me – I can read them while I’m lying in bed in the dark without turning on a light, and I can read them while I’m waiting in doctor and dentist offices, just by taking out my phone.

I began this blog worrying about chatting to customers about favourite reads on Authors for Indies Day on April 30. I’m still a bit nervous…but you never know…perhaps I’ll find a few people who share my love of books from the past. It won’t be very helpful for all the new books on the shelves, waiting to be bought. But I can, at least, point them in that direction while I’m waxing lyrical about the joys of John Galsworthy’s Forsytes, or Monica Dickens’ The Listeners, probably the favourite of all my books.

Oh…and in case you were curious, the header photo on this Blog is a picture of one of my bookshelves (the one in the hallway). The same photo is the header on my Facebook Writer page .

And another one of my bookshelves (the ceiling-to-floor one in the living room) is the cover image on my personal Facebook page.



Filed under Authors for Indies Day, Miscellaneous Musings, My novels, Other Writers, Things About Me

Authors for Indies Day

So now I can confirm I’m taking part in a very neat event that’s happening on April 30 – Authors for Indies – which you can read all about here: http://www.authorsforindies.com
Basically, on Authors for Indies Day, we Canadian authors show our appreciation for independent bookstores (indies) by volunteering as guest booksellers. We’ll be chatting with customers, recommending books, and helping everyone appreciate the importance of indie bookstores to our communities and our cultural lives. It’s not about promoting ourselves, it’s about raising awareness of Canada’s independent bookstores.
I’ll be at the UBC Bookstore (at the main UBC Point Grey Campus in Vancouver)…not sure of my hours yet and not sure what, exactly, they’ll want me to do yet… but if you’re in Vancouver on April 30 and you’d like to pop in and say hello ….I’d love to see you!
Watch this space!

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Filed under Authors for Indies Day, Miscellaneous Musings, Things About Me, Uncategorized

Never Stop Trying

Source: Never Stop Trying

Posted on December 4, 2015 by Joanne Guidoccio

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Canadian author Winona Kent sharing triumphs and challenges during her multi-act life.

Here’s Winona!

Thank you, Joanne, for inviting me to contribute to your blog! I’m very honoured to share my story with so many accomplished people.

I had an interesting conversation with my ophthalmologist the other day. He’s elderly, and I wondered when he was going to retire. He told me that he was thinking about it, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to actually do it. I revealed I could hardly wait to retire from my full-time job in 2019, so I could become a full-time writer instead. But my doctor confessed he was afraid to give up his practice, because he wasn’t sure he would know what to do with himself. He had defined himself in terms of his career, and he was afraid that if he gave up his career, he would lose his entire sense of identity.

Read the rest of the original blog posting here…


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Filed under My novels, Things About Me

The Delicate Art of Book Promotion…A new audio interview!

Just a quick little blog today… mentioning an interview I did yesterday with Jim Goddard from The Goddard Report. This is a podcast that’s distributed online at talkdigitalnetwork.com and also on youtube.

Our chat on September 2 was combined with an interview Jim did with Mary Cummings, from my publisher, Diversion Books.

Please give it a listen. Mary talks about what makes Diversion different from the traditional publishers. And I talk about… well… my books. And me. 🙂

The interview on youtube…Click here

The interview on talkdigitalnetwork.com…Click here

Thank you!

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Filed under Cold Play, Herd Maintenance, My novels