Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.
It is finally a lovely sunny day and I intend to take full advantage and be out in the garden most of the day.
I have finally given myself a very good talking to and put into action a long overdue plan this week. It involves books and reviews and my unsuccessful efforts to whittle my TBR list down effectively. I was only reading at night and it was five pages and then lights out so to speak. Something needed to be done.
I now have a mandatory reading hour in the afternoon either in the garden or in our sitting room if the weather is not warm enough. I have finished two books this week instead of the usual one, and I feel far less guilty about the books sitting their so patiently…
So chuffed to be amongst this wonderful list of authors. Every one a great writer. https://crime.cymru/2020/08/11/new-books-for-2020/ via @CrimeCymru #books #readingcommunity #readers #BookShelf #newbooks #booksinlockdown #authors #WritingCommunity #writing
2020, a year that some people would like to forget – but despite Covid 19 there are reasons to be cheerful, especially in the form of books by our authors that have arrived this year or are in the pipeline.
MARCH saw the publication of The Memory, by Judith Barrow (Honno Press)
Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.
Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty…
There’s a famous picture, American Gothic, by Grant Wood, which leaves many people smiling (unlike the couple in the picture), but it also leaves them thinking.
Is the grim man holding his pitchfork as a support? Or as a symbol of honest productive work? Or as a weapon to fend off the world. Is his equally grim daughter standing with him sharing his defiance? Or is he protecting her? Or holding her back, preventing her escape? Is she actually his daughter? Or his wife? His servant? His captive?
I wrote last week about the photographs of Tom Mathias, taken in the early 20th century. One of them, not included in that post, has a special significance for me. It shows a party outing in 1910. At the back of the carriage is a young man, Morgan Mathias. There are plenty of other people in the photograph whose characters…
Every week we feature a Q&A session with one of our Crime Cymru authors. This week,Thorne Moore offers a fascinating insight into how not just location, but homes and buildings impact on character and story.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Luton, but I’ve lived in Pembrokeshire for the past thirty-eight years. My mother’s family came from these parts, though well before her time – she was born in Cardiff, but her grandmother was born in Spittal, so I could claim to be coming home. I studied history at Aberystwyth and later law through the Open University and worked in a library until I decided I wasn’t fit to be an employee. I left to become self-employed, making miniature furniture and running a restaurant with my sister. I am now on the brink of giving up everything except writing, which is…
I am so pleased to be talking with Jan Baynham on my blog today. Having known Jan for some years and seen her writing going from strength to strength I was thrilled to hear that she is one of the contenders for the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) 2020 prestigious Joan Hessayon Award for new writers, the award for all the authors whose debut novels have been accepted for publication after passing through the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.Before I knew this I’d read, loved, and reviewed her book. This is my review:Her Mother’s Secret.
I have always been intrigued by family secrets and the fact that these sometimes do not come to light until after a person has died. I read of someone who was sorting through her mother’s things after her death and found a diary. In there, the young woman learned about a part of her mother’s life she knew nothing about. The ‘what ifs?’ started in my head. At the time, I’d been reading a novel where the rustling in the trees sounded like whispers and inanimate statues took on the form of ghosts of the people they represented. Perhaps the whispering could show the presence of a past family member. Always fascinated by the bond between mothers and daughters, this was basis for Her Mother’s Secret. Very often, the close relationship between mothers and daughters means that they would know things about each other no one else would. I wanted to explore how my character, Alexandra, would feel when she found out about her mother, Elin’s secret life. How could her mother have kept this from her? How would she feel? I needed Elin to have been able to keep her secret from everyone, even her own mother, until she died. Did Elin have a conscience when she left her diary to Alexandra?
I decided that Elin would be an artist, having just finished art college. She travels to Greece to further her painting skills and while there, something happens that she never mentions again. I chose a setting where the colours would be more vibrant and intense perhaps than in her home country of Wales. Having visited many times and being struck by the wonderful palette of colours seen in every landscape, Greece was my obvious inspiration. Elin’s daughter, Alexandra, arrives on Péfka, a small island off the Peloponnese in Southern Greece, to follow in her mother’s footsteps to find out what happened there twenty-two years earlier. Péfka is purely fictional and is not based on one particular place; it’s an amalgam of areas I’ve visited – a beach or street here, a taverna or workshop there where I’ve met characters when getting out into Greek villages. Every holiday has inspired me with contributions to create characters and settings that are hopefully authentic showing the climate, the vivid colours of the sea and the flowers as well as the warmth of its people.
Her Mother’s Secret was published in April this year by Ruby Fiction. I’m grateful to the Romantic Novelists’ Association for the role its New Writers’ Scheme played in helping me realise my dream of becoming a published author. The novel was critiqued on two occasions by experienced scheme readers. The first time, I’d submitted a partially written manuscript that was followed by the full manuscript the next year. The helpful and incredibly positive advice I received on both occasions was invaluable and gave me the motivation to submit my novel to publishers. Having ‘graduated’ from being unpublished to published via the scheme, I am eligible to be a proud contender for the 2020 Joan Hessayon Award along with twenty other debut novelists.
Blurb forHer Mother’s Secret:: A secret left behind in the summer of ’69 …
It’s 1969 and free-spirited artist ElinMorgan has left Wales for a sun-drenched Greek island. As she makes new friends and enjoys the laidback lifestyle, she writes all about it in her diary. But Elin’s carefree summer of love doesn’t last long, and her island experience ultimately leaves her with a shocking secret …
Twenty-two years later, Elin’s daughter Alexandra has inherited the diary and is reeling from its revelations. The discovery compels Alexandra to make her own journey to the same island, following in her mother’s footsteps. Once there, she sets about uncovering what really happened to Elin in that summer of ’69.
About the author:
After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction. From then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and short listed in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published. Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, she began to write her first full length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in more depth and delve further into their stories. She writes about family secrets and the bond between mothers and daughters. Set in the last year of the ‘60s, Her Mother’s Secret takes you to sun-drenched Greece, her favourite holiday destination.
Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. She values the friendship and support from other RNA members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of Cariad, her local RNA Chapter.
‘Her Mother’s Secret’ is available on from Amazon:
Another wonderful sixties saga from the author of Her Mother’s Secret.
How far would you travel to find the truth? It’s the 1960s and Jennifer Howells is a young woman with the world at her feet, just on the cusp of leaving her Welsh village for an exciting life in the city. Then the contents of an inconspicuous brown envelope turn Jennifer’s world upside down. The discovery leaves her spiralling, unsure who she is. Overnight, Miss Goody Two Shoes is replaced by a mini-skirted wild child who lives for parties and rock’n’roll. But Jennifer’s experience with the excesses of sixties’ culture leaves her no closer to her true identity. She soon realises she’ll have to travel further – first to Cardiff, then across the ocean to Sicily – if she wants to find out who she really is …
Welcome to the first of the Cafe updates this week with recent reviews for books on the shelves.
The first review is for the recently released collaborative anthology with contributions from around the world, compiled by Marjorie Mallon,which also included her three month diary of life under lock down and some of her creative flash fiction and poetry. I can recommend This is Lockdown which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago.
About the collection
An anthology and compilation of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, contributions from the ‘isolation writers,’ plus poetry written during the time of lockdown in the UK. This Is Lockdown is written from a writer’s perspective highlighting the simple pleasures of day-to-day life during such an uncertain and frightening time. It also gives a glimpse of the blogging, writing world. The book showcases several authors and their thoughts on what it is like to experience…
When I first moved to Pembrokeshire, back in the early 1980s, a fascinating discovery had just been made in the area: a cache of negative plates taken by a local photographer,Tom Mathias, 1866-1940. The plates had been rescued and restored by another photographer, James Maxwell Davies, and were put on display in the village where I’d just arrived.
I was fascinated by them and bought several copies as they are so atmospheric, so inspiring in their portrayal of life at the start of the 20th century. The life of the local gentry was there: the mansions, the hunts, the carriages, the fat babies and scholars, the dignified gents and stately ladies posing for the camera.
Not just the gentry though. Their servants are there, gathered en masse for a photographic record but also at work, along with a myriad of photographs of ordinary people leading their…
Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives… and I will be picking two posts from the blogs of those participating from the first six months of 2020. If you don’t mind me rifling through your archives… just let me know in the comments or you can find out the full scope: Posts from Your Archives – Pot Luck – 2020
This is the first post for Diana Wallace Peach and this week some help when navigating the grammar rules regarding the ‘ing’ words..
A few weeks ago, I had a blog-conversation with Jacqui Murray of Worddreams about editing out “ing” words. I’ve heard many times that these words should be avoided when writing fiction but never understood why. While some writing no-nos stab me in the eye every time I read them (such as filter words words), “ing” words never really bothered me.
Hi, SEers! Mae here with you today. Thanks for joining me as I ruminate over three items writers hate to write. Seems odd, doesn’t it?
Most of the time, we love to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and let inspiration fly. But, if you’re like me, there are several writing tasks that make you groan. Let’s take a quick look at each.
THE SYNOPSIS I love writing the synopsis for my novel—said no author ever.
Well, maybe that’s too harsh. Some authors write the synopsis before the manuscript, so they know exactly what journey their characters are going to take. Not me. For most of us, writing a synopsis after completing a 50K-90K novel is sheer torture. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit the mere thought gives me a pounding headache. To make it easier, I keep the following in mind:
I have a new guest on my blog today. I “met” Judith Barrow through Story Empire, then invited her to share her latest release The Memory. Please make her feel welcome as she gives us a behind the scenes look at what inspired her to write the book.
Thank you so much, Mae Clair, for hosting this guest post and promotion for my new book, The Memory.
Introduction Many people have asked what was the inspiration for The Memory and my answer is always – memories: memories of being a carer for two of my aunts who lived with us, memories of losing a friend in my childhood; a friend who, although at the time I didn’t realise, was a Downs’ Syndrome child. But why I started to write the story; a story so different from my other four books, I can’t remember. Because it was something I’d begun…
There are over 150 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and I wanted to keep it to key pieces of information such as buying links, recent review, website and covers. However, I know that readers also like to know more about the background of authors.
In this series during June and July I will share the bios of all the authors in the cafe in a random selection. I hope that this will introduce you to the authors in more depth and encourage you to check out their books and follow them on their blog and Twitter.
Meet Hugh W. Roberts
My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.
I’m a passionate blogger and have been blogging since February 2014. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my posts on blogging tips. I’ve learned…
The first review is for award winning poetry collectionSongs of the Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitudewritten by Miriam Hurdle.About Songs of Heartstrings
Human being has the willpower to travel through an exhausting journey, win a tough battle, and heal a deep wound. Strength from hope keeps us going until the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and striving until the storm is over.
This poetic memoir comprises themes ranging from the suffering through an undesirable relationship, surviving an aggressive cancer, to the happiness in true love, the joy of parenthood, and gratefulness toward the Maker. Hurdle reveals the honest self-talk and reflects a heart filled with optimism, faith and trust. She illustrates the poems with her beautiful photos and paintings.
My new novel, The Covenant, is due out on August 20th and religion is at its heart. It’s ironic that I am, and have always been, an avowed atheist, since religion fascinates me (I even studied it at university). That’s as well because there’s no escaping it in The Covenant. It’s a story focused on the family that produced John Owen, who rules the roost at the cottage of Cwmderwen in A Time For Silence.
John Owen is a Godly man. He comes from a Godly society. A chapel society, Calvanist in its strict purity, and inclined to be more concerned with sin than with divine love and with exclusivity based on precision of belief (everyone else being Wrong).
There is a joke that a Welshman is cast up on a desert island. Years later, a ship comes by to rescue him. The crew discover that…
Welcome to the first of the Cafe updates this week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.
The first authors is N.A. Granger with a review for her murder mystery Death in a Dacron Sail: A Rhe Brewster Mystery (The Rhe Brewster Mysteries Book 2)
About the book
Death in a Dacron Sail is the next in the Rhe Brewster Mystery series. On a cold February morning, Rhe Brewster, a tall, attractive emergency room nurse with a type A personality, a nose for investigation and a yen for adrenalin, is called to a dock in the harbor of Pequod, a Maine coastal town. Because she is a consultant to the Pequod Police Department, her brother-in-law, Sam Brewster, who is Pequod’s Chief of Police, wants her to look at a discovery by one of the local lobstermen: a finger caught in one of his lobster traps. There she meets the…