Saturday 8 June 2013

Truth and Fiction

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, and I can't help but agree with the ubiquitous them. Take the Victorians. A finer example of sanctimonious moral standards it's hard to imagine at any time in British history. But beneath all the covered furniture legs and concealing clothing, were they really any different to the generations that went before, or have followed on since?

Prince Albert was a strict father and disciplinarian, and yet there was a darker side to him. I was raised on the Isle of Wight, close to Osborne House, Queen Victoria's Island retreat. The principal rooms are open to the public and have been left pretty much the way they were in the queen's day. Prince Albert's private bathroom is a testament to Victorian plumbing...and his eclectic tastes. In other words, one wall is completely covered by a pornographic mural! Double standards or what?

I lived for many years in Crystal Palace, South London, where the architecturally adventurous building that housed the Great Exhibition of 1851 was rehoused when the exhibition closed and Hyde Park reopened for business as usual. There are still ruins of the building that burned down under mysterious circumstances in 1936.

The Exhibition caused controversy as its opening approached. Some conservatives feared that the mass of visitors might become a revolutionary mob, whilst radicals such as Karl Marx saw the exhibition as an emblem of the capitalist fetishism of commodities. King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover, shortly before his death, wrote to Lord Strangford about it:

The folly and absurdity of the Queen in allowing this trumpery must strike every sensible and well-thinking mind, and I am astonished the ministers themselves do not insist on her at least going to Osborne during the Exhibition, as no human being can possibly answer for what may occur on the occasion. The idea ... must shock every honest and well-meaning Englishman. But it seems everything is conspiring to lower us in the eyes of Europe.

The largest diamond in the world, the Koh-i-Noor, was gifted to the queen as head of the British Empire by loyal Indian subjects. Naturally, this caused great controversy and when plans were made to show it off at the exhibition, security must have been a nightmare. Indeed, plots to steal the stone were foiled.
In Saving Grace, the first in my Victorian Vigilantes series, I fall back on my little bit of background knowledge about Queen Victoria and fond memories of my years in Crystal Palace by speculating about who might have wished to steal the stone, and why.

1851 The year of the Great Exhibition in England. The largest diamond in the world has been gifted to Queen Victoria. Plans are afoot to steal it and the Home Secretary calls in Jacob Morton, the Earl of Torbay, and his highly-trained band of vigilantes to prevent the theft causing a diplomatic incident.

Lady Eva Woodstock is trapped in a loveless marriage to the man behind the plot. Throwing in her lot with Jake and his compelling associate, Lord Isaac Arnold, her dormant passions are awoken beneath Isaac’s skilful hands. But she will never be free of her husband, nor will she gain custody of her daughter, Grace, unless she can find the courage to face up to William and beat him at his own game.

How far will a mother go to secure her child’s future and protect the man she loves…

Saving Grace by Wendy Soliman Now available from Amazon for just $1.99

Monday 20 May 2013


Do you worry about your size?

Any of your ladies out there who’ve never had a moment’s worry about your body shape, raise your hands now.

Thought so. Not a mitt in sight.

Like it or not, we live in a size-conscious world and us women are judged, not always on ability alone, but on appearance, too. I’m no longer in my twenties – or my thirties or forties either, come to that – but I’m every bit as weight conscious as my younger peers. I’m five foot six and weigh 135 lbs, which is pretty ideal. I feel good about myself – up to a point. You see, a few months ago I weighed 130 lbs. Where have the extra pounds come from? Do they show? Will my clothes still look good? Will I gain more? Should I go on yet another diet?

Sound familiar? I’m old enough to know better but still get caught up in the mad ethos of sizism. So too does my mother-in-law, who’s over eighty, and kids as young as nine or ten. Is it right? Hell, no, but I don’t see things changing any time soon.

In Downsizing, published Musa, Maxine experiences all of these feelings. She’s just a teenager at the start of the book. Extremely intelligent, she feels invisible in crowded rooms, dismissed as an irrelevance because of her bulk. No one except local heartthrob Noah Fenwick can see through her unattractive exterior to the sensitive girl, with lots to offer, lurking beneath all that extraneous flesh.

Here’s how Noah tries to persuade Maxine that she shouldn’t worry about her size.

“You dance well, Max. You’re really light on your feet.”
“For a fat lump, you mean.”
“You ain’t fat, darling. Don’t put yourself down.”
“Noah, I weigh nearly thirteen stone.”
“You just need to get a bit of exercise and you’ll look great.”
“Please don’t patronize me.” Tears trickled from behind her glasses and slid down her face.
“Christ, is that what you think I’m doing?” He tugged at her hand. “Come on, let’s get out of here. I feel like a goldfish in a bowl with all these people gawking at us.”
Noah dragged her out of the tent and didn’t let go of her hand until they’d reached the bottom of the garden. He steered her towards a bench and sat down beside her.
“Here.” He delved into his pocket and produced a handkerchief. “I think it’s clean.”
“Thanks.” Sniffing, Maxine dabbed at her eyes.
“What’s wrong, Max? Wanna talk about it?”
“Nothing, other than the fact that I’m fat and ugly.”
“You ain’t ugly.” Before she could stop him Noah reached up and removed her glasses. “You’ve got gorgeous emerald eyes. Do you have to wear glasses? Can’t you get contact lenses?”
“No. I’ve got an astigmatism.”
“Never mind, you’re still gorgeous to me. You place too much stock by appearances.”
“That’s easy for you to say!” Maxine rounded on him. “You’ve got every female under the age of sixty in Colebrook lusting after you. And why do you suppose that is?”
“Yeah, and that’s why I’m qualified to say that you shouldn’t judge by appearances. You’ve got plenty going for you and don’t have to prove yourself.”
“Nobody can see beyond this.” She indicated her body with her hands, looking close to tears again.
“Well, I can. We’ve both had to survive on our wits, you and me. You’ve done it through your intelligence, but I just went to the local school…well, when there was nothing more profitable to do with my time,” he added with a grin. “So I’ve had to learn to run with what I’ve got.”
 “Noah, I don’t think―”
“If it weren’t for you I’d never have discovered the joys of reading.”
“Yes you would. You were obviously drawn towards books or you’d never have come into the library that day.”
He recalled the day in question, a little over a year ago, when he’d strolled into the library on a whim, wearing mud-splattered work clothes that elicited disapproving tuts from its staid occupants. Maxine, having just started her holiday job there, sat behind the counter completely engrossed in a book. He’d asked her what she was reading but she was too tongue-tied to answer him straight away. Noah couldn’t understand why. He was the one out of place, and if anyone felt awkward it ought to have been him.
He’d known who Maxine was, but reckoned she was out of his league intellectually and would never want to know him. To his astonishment, she found her voice and recommended books that he might enjoy. Her recommendations were spot on and he went back the following week to thank her, and to talk about what he’d read. It became a habit and he often waited until last thing so they could have coffee together when she got off work.
“Perhaps,” he said. “But I was too busy making money and had no time to waste reading. Until you opened my eyes and I realized what I was missing.”
Maxine, who he knew always found it difficult to deal with compliments, changed the subject. “How’s your father?” she asked.
“Same as ever.” He drifted into a moody silence.
“Sorry if I’ve said something I shouldn’t have.”
“You haven’t, but as usual you’ve turned the subject away from yourself.”
“No one’s interested in me.”
“I am.”
Noah cupped her face in his hand and his thumb gently traced the outline of her plump jaw. He dropped his head and brushed his lips against hers, parodying the seductive dance they’d just shared in the tent. Maxine gasped, but when her arms slid round his neck and her eyes fluttered closed, it became clear that she wasn’t objecting. That impression was confirmed when, with a deep sigh, she buried her fingers in his hair. Noah’s lips instinctively hardened against hers, forcing them apart as his tongue slid into her mouth.    
“Why did you do that?” she asked breathlessly when he broke the kiss.
“You looked like you needed reassurance.”
“Don’t!” She jerked away from him and groped for her glasses. “Just don’t! You don’t need to stoke your already over-inflated ego by playing games with me.”

In spite of his reassurances, he lets her down. Which is when Maxine learns one very hard lesson in life 

Fat girls aren’t supposed to have fun.

Maxine doesn’t see Noah again for another twelve years, but can never get him out of her heart. To find out what happens when they do meet again,  Downsizing from W. Soliman at Musa Publishing and Amazon

Go to my website at where you can read the entire first chapter.

And to all you ladies who worry about your body shape, I hope Maxine’s story gives you heart.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

The Duke's Legacy

It's taken me a long time to take the plunge, but at last I've dipped my toe into the world of self-publishing. The Duke's Legacy is a book I originally wrote over five years ago and recently the rights were returned to me. I thought it would just take a quick re-write and I'd be on my way to fame as a self-published author.

Unfortunately for my schedule, I didn't stop to consider that I might have grown as a write in the interim. Even if I had known, I never would have imaged how differently I do things now. All that telling and not showing that I did back made me shudder. All the unnecessary adverbs and general over-writing was a nightmare to get rid of.

Hopefully The Duke's Legacy, the product of two weeks-worth of continuous re-writing, is a vast improvement. The cover certainly is!

Regencies are my first love and I particularly like this one. As sole heir to the late Duke of Penrith's vast estate, Abigail Carstairs suspects that someone's trying to kill her for her fortune. In desperation she turns to the notorious Lord Sebastian Denver for help.

Unable to deny a lady in distress, Sebastian inveigles his way into Abbey's hunting lodge, where all the prime suspects are gathered. Distracted by his growing attraction towards Abbey, he's unprepared when a further attempt is made on her life, right in front of him. Infuriated, Sebastian lays a daring trap for her aggressors, pitting his wits against theirs in a race against time to keep her safe...

The Duke's Legacy available now from for just $1.99


Monday 29 April 2013

Starting the week with a smile.

 Someone sent me this in my email today and it made me smile. Do you remember these Jewish comedians?

Milton Berle,
George Burns,
Gene Wilder,
Mel Brooks,
Phil Silvers,
Rodney Dangerfield,
Jack Benny
Groucho Marx,
Jackie Mason,
Victor Borge,
Woody Allen,
Joan Rivers,

There were so many others and there was not one single swear word in their
comedy. Here are a few examples:

  I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the

  What are three words a woman never wants to hear when she's making love?
"Honey, I'm home!"

  Someone stole all my credit cards but I won't be reporting it. The thief
spends less than my wife did.

  We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.
  My wife and I went to a hotel where we got a waterbed. My wife called it
the Dead Sea ...

  She was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate.
She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.

  The Doctor gave a man six months to live.
The man couldn't pay his bill so the doctor gave him another six months.

  The Doctor called Mrs Cohen saying, "Mrs. Cohen, your check came back"
Mrs. Cohen answered, "So did my arthritis!"

  A drunk was in front of a judge.
The judge says, "You've been brought here for drinking."
The drunk says "Okay, let's get started."

The Harvard School of Medicine did a study of why Jewish women like Chinese
food so much.
The study revealed that this is due to the fact that Won Ton spelled
backward is Not Now.

There is a big controversy on the Jewish view of when life begins.
In Jewish tradition, the foetus is not considered viable until it graduates
from medical school.

Q: Why do Jewish mothers make great parole officers?
A: They never let anyone finish a sentence!

A man called his mother in Florida,
"Mom, how are you?"
"Not too good," said the mother. "I've been very weak."
The son said, "Why are you so weak?"
She said, "Because I haven't eaten in 38 days."
The son said, "That's terrible. Why haven't you eaten in 38 days?"
The mother answered, "Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food
if you should call."

A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his father he has a part in
the play.
He asks, "What part is it?"
The boy says, "I play the part of the Jewish husband."
"The father scowls and says, "Go back and tell the teacher you want a
speaking part."

Did you hear about the bum who walked up to a Jewish mother on the street
and said, "Lady, I haven't eaten in three days."
"Force yourself," she replied.

Q: Why are Jewish men circumcised?
A: Because Jewish women don't like anything that isn't 10% off.
They don't tell 'em like that anymore. Did someone just say thank goodness!

Sunday 14 April 2013

The Great Bond Debate

Okay, we’ve overdue for a debate here. Not just any debate, but the debate. It’s a question that’s been argued about over many a bottle of wine or six over the decades, but still hasn’t been resolved.
Who is the best James Bond ever?

Since I’m older than the father of time, I remember all the hype associated with the original films starring, of course, the legendary Sean Connery. A Scottish milkman cum body builder, (and what a body!), he was plucked from relative obscurity and catapulted to worldwide fame by the style, grace, sense of self and sheer magnetism he brought to Fleming’s character. Who can forget that scene in Goldfinger when Bond is secured to a table and a laser beam is working its way between his legs, getting perilously close to his most prized possession.

“Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?”
“No. Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”

That what Goldfinger’s mistake, of course. Everyone knows that James Bond is immortal!

Roger Moore had a tough act to follow. Quoted as saying “I’m not that cold-blooded killer type. Which is why I play it mostly for laughs,” Moore’s savior-faire and easy sense of grace brought the cinematic 007 unparalleled success in the 70’s and 80’s. It was a time when movie audiences needed escapist entertainment and Moore was on hand to serve it up for them.

Pierce Brosnan. Can we pause for a moment and drool, please. Okay, that’s better. Brosnan is credited with successfully bringing Bond into the 90’s and then the 21st century. He was eleven when he moved from Ireland to London and saw Goldfinger at his local cinema.

“I was an eleven-year-old boy from the bogs of Ireland and there was this beautiful gold lady on a bed-naked. It made quite an impression on me,” he’s reported to have said.

Well, Pierce, the same can be said for you.

Daniel Craig redefined Bond in Casino Royale, stepping out of the shadows cast by his predecessors and making 007 feel new, fresh and dangerously exciting. Craig is generally thought of as having brought a physical rawness, emotional force and darkly seductive air to Fleming’s character that’s closer to the author’s perception of his creation than any of the other 007’s.

Hmm, perhaps, but he doesn’t really do it for me., although I have to say that I loved Skyfall. 

My choice? It’s a close run thing between Sean and Pierce. What about you?