My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with AnneMarie Brear #MondayBlogs

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

 

anne marie brear

 

Welcome AnneMarie, lovely to have you here today.

 Good to be here, Judith

Could you start by telling us what literary pilgrimages have you gone on or would like to go on, please?

This summer I would like to go to Haworth and visit the Bronte museum.

What is the first book that made you cry?

When I was a child living in Australia, I read a book about a man and his dog walking the roads in the outback looking for work. I remember at one stage they get knocked over and the man gets taken to hospital and the dog is left to roam the roads looking for him. The man recovered and went looking for his dog. One night the man is sitting by a camp fire and thinking his dog is gone, when suddenly the dog sees the campfire and knows it is his master. I cried buckets! I wish I could find that book again.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Writing energises me – promoting exhausts me!

Grace's-Courage-final

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

AnneMarie Brear is my pseudonym. It’s my maiden name.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I write the stories that are in my head to tell. They might not be the ‘in demand’ genre, or the hottest new thing on the market, but they are stories I wanted to tell. Stories that I’m proud of and hope readers enjoy.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I am friends with a great number of authors (bestsellers and new writers), due to being a member of various organisations such as Romantic Novelist Association and Romance Writers of Australia. I find mixing with other authors help me know the publishing industry better, and my critique group have for years helped me refine my stories into sellable books.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Each book of mine stands on its own. However, Kitty McKenzie has a sequel, Kitty McKenzie’s Land, and I’m currently writing a third book connected to it about Kitty’s grandchildren.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

To be patient. I signed with a few very small publishers at the beginning and it was a waste of my time. Those publisher didn’t last long. But I did learn a lot. I learned how to work with an editor and how the publishing process works.

 

WDH (1)

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

The publishing of my first book taught me to not write such long stories. I didn’t need to write over 100k words and to do so was a little indulgent.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

It’s probably Nicola’s Virtue. It’s a great story. It’s set in Australia in the 1860s and about a governess who left Britain and travelled to Australia to seek work, but on arriving found it very difficult to find work as governess. I based that story on real letters sent by governesses sent back to Britain. Miss Maria Rye, the founder of the Female Middle Class Emigration Society started the scheme to send women out to British colonies to work.

Nicola's-Virtue-final (1)

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Only the current book I’m writing now. Thankfully, all my older books are published and available for sale, and my new books are in the process of being released.

What does literary success look like to you?

Being able to write for a living. I’ve not achieved that yet but I it’s my dream.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I have researched my eras (Victorian and Edwardian/WWI) for years. So each book is easier for me to write. However, I do more research as I write each novel, because each novel is different and requires different specific knowledge. My sagas tend to have working class and high middle class involved, so I need to research how country houses are run, as well as, a coal mine or farm. I need to create villages and make them real for the era my book is set. My recent books have been set in WWI, so I have done a lot of research about the war and the years of 1914-1918. I love research, so it is no hardship for me to get involved in it.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I like traditional names. I use genealogy a lot. Finding census records is now a lot easier, and I have also researched my family tree so I can see the names of those times. It’s very helpful.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, I do read all reviews. The bad ones, which so far are few, thankfully, hurt me, but I can’t let it get me down. The good ones make me smile and feel happy that others have enjoyed my stories too.

What was your hardest scene to write?

A death scene. Actually all death scenes are hard. But one in particular in Kitty McKenzie’s Land was sad to write.

 

McKenzie (1) (1)

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

My day job!

What is your favourite childhood book?

Enid Blyton – The Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair. But also The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell.

Does your family support your career as a writer?

Yes, my husband supports me very much, as do the rest of my family and friends.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I work full time in a day job, so my writing must fit around that and my family. It can take from 8-12 months to write a historical novel.

Links to AnneMarie:

http://www.annemariebrear.com

http://annemariebrear.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/annemariebrear/

Twitter @annemariebrear

My Review of Bully Boy Blue: A dark psychological suspense thriller by John Nicholl #crime #FridayReads

Bully Boy Blue: A dark psychological suspense thriller by [Nicholl, John]

I received an ARC of Bully Boy Blue from the author in return for an honest review.

The Blurb:

Every aspect of Kathy’s life is dominated by her abusive bully boy husband. Now she’s pregnant and in fear for her life. Can she ever escape him?

A gripping page-turner of a psychological thriller packed with suspense. Discover John Nicholl’s chilling new short story today

My review:

 The Blurb says it all… and more. The desperation, the ability to deceive, the reality of not knowing what goes on behind closed doors. Hidden truths. 

This is a novella; yet the shortness of the story does not detract from its chilling quality. The portrayal of both the characters in the book are frighteningly real and disturbing; the husband who convinces the outside world that he is a caring, long-suffering man with an unstable wife, the tense, oppressed wife, yearning to escape yet fearful.

 To say I loved this book might seem odd  but I love this author’s writing. His style is rich in both a sense of place and in his portrayal of the characters. Both the spoken and inner  dialogue is realistic and  draws the reader in.

I can’t recommend Bully Boy Blue highly enough for the above reasons

 I’ve also included an interview I had with John some while ago: 

john nicholls

 

May I start by asking you why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? 

I guess that given my career in law enforcement and child protection, psychological thrillers chose me. I’d like to write something light, funny and life affirming, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.

And how long have you been writing?

I wrote a multi agency child protection guide and articles for newspapers and a national social work magazine during my career, but ‘White is the coldest colour’ was my first novel. I began writing fiction about five years ago.

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 

I wrote ‘White is the coldest colour’ with the primary intention of producing an entertaining and original psychological suspense thriller. However, I also hoped it would play a small part in raising awareness of the risks posed by sexual predators. Reader feedback suggests I went some way towards achieving those ends. ‘When evil calls your name,’  the sequel, addresses domestic physical and psychological violence towards women, within the context of the story. Again, I hope it raises awareness of the problem to some extent.

white

 John hasn’t said a lot about his books so I’m adding the next few lines myself. This is the blurb on Amazon for White is the coldest colour:  “The Mailer family are oblivious to the terrible danger that enters their lives when seven-year-old Anthony is referred to the child guidance service by the family GP following the breakdown of his parents’ marriage. 
Fifty-eight year old Dr David Galbraith, a sadistic predatory paedophile employed as a consultant child psychiatrist, has already murdered one child in the soundproofed cellar below the South Wales Georgian town-house he shares with his wife and two young daughters. 
Anthony becomes Galbraith’s latest obsession and he will stop at nothing to make his grotesque fantasies reality.

The book includes content that some readers may find disturbing from the start. It is dedicated to survivors everywhere.”

Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book? 

I spent twenty years as a social worker, which was all the research I needed. My books are entirely fictional, but they draw heavily on my professional experiences. I worked with some amazing people, some of whom have contributed to the characters I’ve created.

What do you think most characterises your writing?

I like to get inside the characters’s heads, and to portray their thoughts and feelings in addition to their actions.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

In many ways, writing ‘White is the coldest colour’ was cathartic, but it brought back some memories which were perhaps best left in the past.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? 

Everyone has the right to live free of the fear of oppression and violence. I think those are the key principles underpinning my novels. Both of my first two books address important social issues, and talk about subjects many in society would prefer to ignore.

And, here again, I add the blurb on John’s second book: When Evil Calls Your Name: 

“When twenty-nine-year-old Cynthia Galbraith struggles to come to terms with her traumatic past and the realities of prison life, a prison counsellor persuades her to write a personal journal exploring the events that led to a life sentence for murder. 
Although unconvinced at first, Cynthia finally decides she has all the time in the world and very little, if anything, to lose. She begins writing and holds back nothing: sharing the thoughts she hadn’t dare vocalise, the things that keep her awake at night and haunt her waking hours.”

What inspires you?

Family, spirituality, justice, beauty, travel, art, great writing, yoga and so much more.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I’ve been unbelievably lucky, in that the success of my first novel has enabled me to write full time. Now all I have to do is to keep writing books people want to read. I suspect that’s going to prove to be a lot easier said than done.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I tarred roads, emptied bins, and worked as a kitchen porter before moving on to police and social work. Once I qualified as a social worker, I worked for two social services departments, the child guidance service, and the NSPCC.  I’ve also lectured on child protection at several colleges and universities. I like to think my woking life has helped introduce an air of realism to my writing.

How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

The more reading options open to people the better. Ebooks are relatively cheap and accessible, and that has to be a good thing. The publishing world is changing fast, enabling writers to self publish, if they so wish, and to let potential readers decide if their work is worth buying. I’ve chosen to remain independent despite contact offers from three publishers, and I would encourage anyone considering writing a book to give it a go. It’s never been easier to get your writing out there in front of the public.

What do you think is the future of reading/writing?

I believe that reading will always be a major pastime, although the introduction as alternatives like audio books gives people a viable alternative.Both my books were recently produced as audio books, and I have to admit that I was both surprised and impressed by the additional dimensions the narrators brought to the text.

Find John here:

http://bit.ly/29s3BAq

http://amzn.to/29CN2qh

https://twitter.com/nicholl06

http://bit.ly/29BhTAt

Buying Links: Amazon.co.uk:

White is the coldest colour: http://amzn.to/29tXtsO

When evil calls your name: http://amzn.to/29Bfy8G

Bully Boy Blue: http://amzn.to/2oc0abZ

Amazon.com:

White is the coldest colour: http://amzn.to/29x73Nf

When evil calls your name: http://amzn.to/29sIcfR

Bully Boy Blue: http://amzn.to/2oaVjYs

 

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Terry Tyler #author

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

Today I’m with Terry Tyler. I first met Terry through Twitter after I’d read and reviewed Kings and Queens for RBRT.  Since then I’m always waiting for her next book… and the next. Good job she’s such a prolific author.

121116

Hi, Terry, good to see you here, I’m looking forward to our chat. 

Thanks for inviting me, Judith. 

 Tell us why you chose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I’m not sure I have ever chosen a genre, as such; I just choose a story I want to write from the few currently in my head, and worry about what category it fits into afterwards.  Yes, I’m a book marketing nightmare!  But they’re always based around the connections between people.  Interactions within families are often the most complex and interesting of relationships, with the most potential for love, jealousy, resentment, etc, so the family saga aspect of my novels evolved of its own accord, and I think reached its zenith with The House of York, though I am not finished with it yet!  Sometimes my books fall into different genres, such as psychological drama/thriller, or my current WIP which has a post-apocalyptic setting; I suppose I write in more than one genre, yes, but those might all occur within one book.  I know I ought to think about balancing it better *holds hand out for slapped wrist*.

(Laughing!!! – not slapping wrist)

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Nine or ten unpublished, that I wrote in the days before Amazon Kindle, and about three that I’ve started since, but given up because my heart was not in them.

What was the first book that made you cry?

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico, I think.  I read it when I was about sixteen, after seeing the TV dramatization with Jenny Agutter and Richard Harris, and cried buckets at both.  Later, in my early twenties, there was Mirage by Andrea Newman.  It’s about a woman with an unfaithful husband, who leaves him when she can’t stand it anymore.  She tries so hard to build up a new life but, some time later, accepts that she will never be happy without him.  She contacts him and begs to be able to see him, just sometimes, even though he has married again; she ends up as his mistress.  It’s heartbreaking.  I found the thought of not being able to move on from a broken relationship quite terrifying; maybe the book influenced my own ‘recovery rate’ later in life!  Most sinisterly, the dedication in the Penguin paperback reads simply, ‘For Terry’.  How about that, eh?

 How about that! And sinisterly- great word – wonder if you can copyright a word?

You Wish...

What do you think is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Judging by some of the books I’ve read in which it’s been done badly, I’d say it’s understanding that there is more to writing someone of the opposite sex than giving them an appropriate name, describing their lustrous auburn tresses/strong broad shoulders, then writing them out of your own head.  You’ve got to understand what makes the opposite sex tick, the differences between the sexes, how men talk to each other when there are no women around, and vice versa.

Good answer! In that case how do you select the names of your characters?

Sometimes they arrive in my head with their name attached.  If they don’t, I try out lots of different names according to social class, generation and my own preferences, until I find one that ‘sits’ right.  I am careful not to have any main and secondary characters with similar names, or those starting with the same letter, as this can be confusing for the reader.

Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers

What are some ways in which you promote your work?  Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

I am a bit lazy/not dedicated enough about promotion.  I detest Facebook, have never used Google +, Pinterest or most of the other sites that we’re ‘meant’ to use for spreading the word.  I don’t do paperbacks because I would rather watch ten solid hours of Celebrity Big Brother than do literary festivals and signing sessions, which is, I believe, one of the main ways in which ‘indie’ authors sell them.  I can’t see myself hawking them round independent bookshops, either; sales is not my forté.  I rely solely on Twitter, book blogs, Amazon visibility and word of mouth.  This detracts from my writing time in that I do all my Twitterly and blog stuff first thing, and it often takes more time than I intend, because I enjoy it.  On the other hand, I turn on my laptop as soon as I get up, while I’m letting my first coffee of the morning do its stuff, so in a way it ‘warms me up’ for the writing day!

 

What do you like to read in your free time?

Historical fiction is a great favourite, if it’s very well researched and teaches me about the era.  I like my histfic quite heavy: battles, feuds, struggles against authority, the settling of old scores, the dark and desperate.  My other favourite genre is post apocalyptic; I love to read anything about survival in adverse circumstances, so I also like polar and seafaring adventures, as long as they go horribly wrong.  I love good zombie fiction, and some general contemporary dramas, if they’re edgy and realistic.  I’ll read horror type thrillers, too (I do love a good psychopath), but not paranormal/supernatural.  Not interested in things that go bump in the night.  Apart from zombies.

 An eclectic mix then, Terry.  But zombies!  (shivering) Your enthusiasm almost makes me want to give the genre a go… almost. 

So, what projects are you working on at the present?

I’m currently editing the first book in my post apocalyptic series.  It’s about a targeted depopulation plot that goes wrong.  As touched upon in your first question, it’s still very much a character-orientated drama, and centres around my 34 year old protagonist, Vicky, her boyfriend and 16 year old daughter, and various friends.  As soon as I’ve sent it off for test/proofreading I shall start the next one; I plan to have the first two books ready to go before I publish the first, so the second can be released very soon afterwards, because I hate waiting six months for the next instalment when I’m reading a series.  I am not quite sure how the whole thing ends yet; I’m trying not to worry about this too much…  it might end prematurely if no one likes it!

What do your plans for future projects include?

Three of my books are contemporary family sagas based on events from history: Kings and Queens and Last Child, which is my updated story of Henry VIII, his wives and children, and The House of York, which was inspired by the Wars of the Roses.  I want to write another one, based on the life of Henry II and his four sons.  That’ll be next, after the current series.  I think.   Depends what else pops into my head, really.  I’ve been semi-planning a book set during the 14th century for a while, but am scared about writing histfic in case I can’t do it well enough.

Kings And Queens by [Tyler, Terry]Last Child by [Tyler, Terry]The House Of York by [Tyler, Terry]

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

That’s an interesting question, and one I’ve sat here and thought about for a while.  My answer is this: I think that those who have the urge to create, be it novels, poetry, music or painting, tend to feel emotions strongly, per se.  The two go hand in hand.  I’ve read novels in which the writer clearly has no idea about the emotion they aim to portray; out come the clichés and stock reactions.  On the other hand, feeling emotions deeply doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a good writer.  It’s all about whether or not you can get what’s in your head onto the paper, in such a way that others want to read it.

Round And Round

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

About 75%-25%, I think.  I can only write a book if I’m madly enthusiastic about it, and, alas, that book may or may not appeal to the people who liked the previous one.  However, once I start writing I do try to write as a reader, if you like, and remain aware of what makes me enjoy a book.  For instance, in my current WIP, I originally had the chapters alternating between the past and the present.  Half the story was about the build up to the virus to end all viruses, the other half taking place in the post-pandemic world.  Ten chapters in, I realised that every time I moved forward to ‘afterwards’, I was taking the reader away from build up to the disaster.  So I moved it all around and put it in straight chronological order.

 

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I read almost everything on ebook, it’s my choice every time.  I love the convenience, the price, the facilities on the Kindle app, everything.  The only downside is that I also love rooms filled with books, and 95% of those I’ve bought in the last five years are hidden away on my tablet.

As for alternative vs conventional publishing, all that matters is the words on the page, not who published them.  If a book is great, it’s great, and if it’s mediocre, it doesn’t matter how it’s dressed up.  I think self-publishing will only lose its stigma when everyone thinks like this, and realises that, in these days when anyone can set themselves up as a publisher, with independents and vanity presses popping up everywhere, ‘getting published’ is no longer necessarily an indication of quality.  A few months ago, a book blogger expressed surprise that I had not been ‘snapped up’ by a publisher; she meant it as a compliment, most kindly, but (after I’d thanked her!) I took the opportunity to explain to her that writers who self-publish usually do so by choice (by which I mean that we don’t submit our books to publishers), because we want to have control over every aspect of our work.  I know that some writers go with a publisher simply to give their books more credibility, and, indeed, it will take a long time before all book bloggers, reviewers and readers understand that self-published doesn’t mean substandard, and that there is a world of difference between a book deal from Simon & Schuster, a contract with a decent independent, and one with Joe Bloggs Publishing who doesn’t even recognise slack editing.

 

How do you find or make time to write?

Writing is what I do; it’s all the other stuff I have to make time for.  I haven’t done the ironing since 2014.  I think my husband’s been waiting for his dinner since around then, too.  (I did the ironing this afternoon, really; I’m having a ‘doing all the other stuff’ day!)

(Laughing!)  I call it ‘domestic trivia’. That puts it in its place.

Nobody's Fault

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I always read them.  Good ones are lovely, of course, absolutely make my day, but all reviews are helpful.  Obviously, nobody wants a bad one, and sometimes they can be irritating (like, when someone who usually reads crime thrillers complains that a light contemporary drama isn’t thrilling enough, which would be a bit like me reading a vampire book and giving it one star because I don’t like stories about vampires), but there are a hundred different ways to read everything, and some people will love what you do, some will like it, some will think it’s okay, and some will think it’s rubbish/boring.  I don’t agonise over bad ones.  I admit to reading them by peeping through my fingers like I do with scary films, though.

What It Takes

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

My most recent publication is The Devil You Know.

The Devil You Know by [Tyler, Terry]

It’s a psychological drama about five people who suspect that a local serial killer might be someone close to them.  There’s a mother who thinks it’s her son, an abused wife who thinks it’s her husband, a young chap who suspects the worst about his friend, etc etc.  It’s not a police procedural type crime thriller, as the actual detection of the killer plays only a small part in the whole novel.  I’m very pleased that the reviews have been some of the best I’ve ever received, and it appeared on four book bloggers’ ‘Best of 2016’ lists.  Yes, I know I should capitalise on that by writing something else in the same vein, but….I refer you back to Question One!

Thank you for inviting me to take part in your author interview feature, Judith.

Thank you for being here, Terry. It’s been fascinating listening to you.

 Connect with Terry here:

https://twitter.com/TerryTyler4

http://terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/

http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5821157.Terry_Tyl

At Last…I’m Going to Fettle my Posts in 2017 #blogging. January Result!

stock-photo-crossroad-signpost-saying-confused-uncertain-perplexed-bewildered-disoriented-unclear-concept-390307111

For the last year my blogs have had a ‘scatter-gun’ approach; erratic, inconsistent and varied; without a theme, sometimes with neither rhyme nor reason … except for the sharing of reviews, interviews and other authors’ good news. Mostly, I think I’ve been lazy, relying on other bloggers and authors to do the work.

 This year will be different! This is not a New Year Resolution; this is me taking me in hand.

 So I said at the beginning of January. Did I succeed? Well… on the whole. I still get carried away when I see a post I like and reblog.

 But I’m well on my way with the editing of the prequel. Cover reveal coming soon!!

The Memory is almost ready to go to my Beta Reader

I’ve posted another Holiday Lets talehttp://bit.ly/2klXhmR

Posting and sharing reviews of other authors’ books on my blog on Sundays as #SundayBlogShare has been a bit erratic as we’ve been away most Sundays.

 I have two reviews to post in the next week and am halfway though a third.

But… I have interviewed Seven#familysaga authors and will be posting those over the next three months. These are fascinating writers with brilliant books so I’m looking forward to spreading the word about them.

So… all in all, not a bad start, I think.

 

sevencandles

 Seeing a little light

Now for February!

 So… what started all this?

It was Tina Frisco’s question, “Tell us what you envision for your blog in 2017, ” that made me stop and think. This is what I wrote in answer to http://bit.ly/2iJWGdz

 Tina’s question made me remember Hugh W. Robert’s post in 2015:  http://bit.ly/2jcwdSA. I’m embarrassed to show my reply but here’s an edited version:

 Each day I come here to write my WIP … but I keep popping back to emails to see what I’ve missed of  my favourite and most friendly bloggers.And then I’ve shared randomly. It’s been a problem, But today, your post has made me think…’

Hmm…

But, in May 2016 I was still doing the same things even after I read Rosie Amber’s Wednesday Wing – #TwitterTip Part 3 Retweeting and Post Sharing #wwwblogs @TerryTyler4  POSTED ON MAY 4, 2016   http://bit.ly/2iReO5t,   

 Here’s a section of what Terry and Rosie said:

“A few tips on post sharing:

  • Don’t automatically share every single post that comes into your email inbox. Check them out first to make sure it’s something you actively want to share.

  • Overkill: if virtually all your tweets are shares of others’ posts, be aware that these will get re-tweeted rather than tweets about your own posts/books, most of the time. If you’re happy with that, that’s okay!”

How some people manage to write Daily Posts yet still write books is beyond me. I am a slow writer/ thinker/ reviewer.

 SO,THIS IS IT! I HAVE A PLAN:

Notebook, Plan, Dates, Coffee Cup, Break

Yes, it has taken coffee and chocolate and messy doodling in my diary to decide.

Here goes:

 I need to say first and foremost that  I will editing the prequel to my trilogy during these next months. The working title is Foreshadowing but this will probably change. Anyway it’s due to be published in August by http://www.honno.co.uk/, the publishers of my other books

Pattern of Shadows by [Barrow, Judith]

                                                                 http://amzn.to/1onvi4R ,

Changing Patterns by [Barrow, Judith]

http://amzn.to/1JPSOuX ,

Living in the Shadows by [Barrow, Judith]

                                                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                   http://amzn.to/2fFqUfE

 

I’m also tidying up the last book I have written, called The Memory, which is due to be looked at by a couple of author friends of mine before I send that off to the publishers. Oh, and I have another half-finished saga which has been on the back burner for two years.

RIGHT… NOW FOR THE BLOGGING:

In 2017  I will be  getting up to date with reviews of books I have read. I will also read and write reviews for Rosie Amber’s Team (http://bit.ly/2hYNbYG ) #RBRT. I love being part of this group and have read some wonderful books (both Indie and traditionally published) over the past two/three years. 

I will be posting more blogs about our Holiday Lets (here’s one post on that: http://bit.ly/2hYOHdc ). I’d like to get these into a short anthology sometime. But, for the time being they’ll stay as posts.

In February and March, I’m looking forward to interviewing other authors who write in the same genre as me: family sagas. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

 Around July, I’ll be starting my usual interviews with the authors who will be attending the annual book fair that I organise alongside my friend and fellow author, Thorne Moore   (http://www.thornemoore.co.uk/).  Alex Martin ( http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2)  was with us in the past but has been taken over by’real life’, unfortunately.  It’s a lot of work but great fun and will take place on the 23rd September. This year we’ve changed to a bigger venue so will be hosting around forty authors at the Narberth Book Fair. There will be talks, free workshops and readings. And the whole event will be filmed by http://showboat.tv/

I tutor creative writing three days a week, and every now and then, I post something one of my students has written. 

I will post and share reviews of other authors’ books on my blog on Sundays as #SundayBlogShare.

 Reading back on this, it does all seem slightly ambitious. But, as I said to Tina, as long as I can manage on four hours sleep each night, who knows; I might succeed in doing it all.

 What I do know is that I will be more organised. The housework can wait!!

My Review of 40 Days 40 Nights: A dark, disturbing, detective mystery (Sgt Major Crane crime thrillers Book 2) #FridayReads by Wendy Cartmell

40-days

Book Description: 

An evil game is in play… does Crane know the rules? 
What could be simpler than keeping Team GB safe as they make their final preparations for the Olympic Games on Aldershot Garrison? But when the body of a soldier is discovered and supplies start disappearing, Military Police Detective Sgt Major Tom Crane knows that an altogether more sinister game is in play. As time ticks down, no one knows who the next target will be,or who the player is. But he’s there, hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks… 
  
A gripping police procedural in the vein of traditional detective mysteries from the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller, Steps to Heaven. If you love Angela Marsons’ DI Kim Stone, Peter James’ Roy Grace, Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks, Ruth Rendall’s Inspector Wexford, Elizabeth George’s DI Lindley and Ian Rankin’s Rebus you will be gripped by the Sgt Major Crane crime novels. 

 Recommendations:
 
It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up John Paul Davis Author and Broadcaster. 
This was an excellent read and I can honestly recommend this. It is different, exciting and I enjoyed every minute spent reading this novel. Faith Mortimer, Author
Wendy Cartmell’s brilliant writing had me completely engrossed and fact and artistic licence blended perfectly Sharon Joan-Figurola

 My Review.

 This is the second novel I’ve read by Wendy Cartmell. (I still haven’t read the first in the series, Steps to Heaven! – http://amzn.to/2ijsDGv). The novel I read was  Basic Element (Crane and Anderson Book 2 ) which I reviewed for  #BrookCottageBookTours:   http://bit.ly/2hZNHE9.

As I said then Wendy Cartmell has a clear writing style and although 40 Days 40 Nights has another complex plot that, it’s an enjoyable and easy read. By writing the story in the present tense the author succeeds in bringing everything into the moment; the reader lives alongside the characters as the plot unfolds.

And, as with  Basic Element, it can be read as a stand alone book.   

The research for this book shines throughout; from the viewpoint of Crane and the hierarchy of the military forces, the old Gurkha, Padam Gurung, homeless and desperate, and the Muslim antagonist and his quotes and beliefs from the Qur’an (trying not to give spoilers here).

And woven into the plot is Crane’s home life; the imminent birth of his first child, the stress of his wife’s, Tina’s, health problems and his uncertainty of his future in the army. 

 All the characters are rounded, three dimensional and believable; as true in this book with their personalities, habits, characteristics as they were in Basic Element. The supporting characters,  Sergeants Billy Williams and Kim Weston, Detective Inspector Derek Anderson, are as consistent and  likeable (except for Crane’s immediate superior,Captain Edwards, who the author successfully portrays as an unimaginative stickler for the rules)

 The dialogue is natural and believable and it’s easy to follow who is speaking, even without dialogue tags.An interesting point here; the Muslim antagonist directly speaks to the reader, using the second point of view, the ‘You’, which adds to the tension of his role and his intentions.

 One of the author’s strengths in the book is giving a sense of place wherever the action is set, whether indoors or outside; the descriptions are evocative and easy to imagine.

As you have probably guessed I thoroughly enjoyed 40 Days 40 Nights and would recommend the book to anyone who likes a good murder mystery with a political and military overtone.

 Buying Links:

 Amazon.co.uk:http://amzn.to/2iXS2pL

 Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2iLrtV2

Christmas Spirit by Maggie Himsworth #Humour #Christmas #MondayBlogs

This is a festive poem from Maggie Himsworth, one of my adult students.  You’ve read some of her work before… slightly different  and fascinating. See: Fascinating slants on Shakespeare’s minor characters.  The Maid’s Account:  http://bit.ly/1NOYbSJ.  Of course you’ll know the play … won’t you!And  The Eunoch’s Voice http://bit.ly/2hfEKUl  in Antony and Cleopatra. Mardian, the head eunuch. is given a voice.

But now for something completely different…

owl

 Christmas Spirit

‘Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the house

It was totally bedlam,

Thanks to the mouse.

Rat, Mouse, Cheese, Animal, Mammal

He’d nibbled the chocolate

And eaten the cheese

So at midnight that night

I was down on my knees

Praying for Santa

To put it all right,

To give us a Christmas

Not totally shite.

The fairy was frowning,

Well, it can’t be much fun

With Christmas tree needles

Stuck up your bum.

Angel, Angel Doll, Angel With Wings

But hark, who is this

Who creeps in the dark?

A shepherd or two

Out for a lark?

Or a king bearing gifts

Gold, incense or myrrh?

Not bloody likely,

It’s something with fur.

Clipart, Fox, Drawing, Design, Artwork

A fox in the garden

Dragging at bins

Pulling out rubbish

Rattling the tins.

That’s all I need

Where’s my Christmas cheer?

I look to the sky

Where are those reindeer?

Binoculars, Search, See, To Find, Watch

And that’s when I see them

Dusted lightly with snow

Rudolf the leader

His nose all aglow.

Christmas, Reindeer, Rudolph, Snowflakes

They land in my garden

The fox dashes off

I say ‘Hello Santa’

He looks quite a toff.

Christmas, Santa, Santa Claus

`He puts his arm round me

Hmm, things are improving

But then he says

‘Sorry, got to keep moving.

I know it’s been tough

I know it’s been rotten

You’ve had a bad year

And maybe you’ve gotten

Woman, Blonde, Sad, Miserable

A little bit bitter

And very upset

But think of it this way

How bad can it get?

A lot worse than this

I’ve got to say

So for God’s sake cheer up

It’s now Christmas Day.

Christmas, Merry Christmas, Dad

And with that he was off

All in a flurry

Less incense and myrrh

More a slight smell of curry.

Christmas, Comic Characters, Father

I went back inside

To hell with the fox

And that’s when I saw it

A bloody great box.

Gift, Christmas, Xmas, Present, Birthday

Things for the kids

And something for me

I took them all out

To put under the tree.

Christmas, Map, Christmas Tree, Green

©.Maggie Himsworth 2016

A Clean Sweep by Alan Roberts

Another hilarious gem from Alan Roberts, student of one of my creative writing classes. His first two posts were here: http://bit.ly/29u7vui.  and here:  http://bit.ly/20Gvbh6..

 His last post was rather more thought provoking:  http://bit.ly/2gJtDae

But here he  gives us an insight to what he was like as a lad in school.

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If there had been such a category in world sports then I’m as certain as I can be without actually taking part in any competition that I could have been a world champion and/or an Olympic gold medallist.  Not now of course, as in my seventies my upper body strength has sadly diminished and although I still maintain the technique, it is that combination that is required by someone to become a world or Olympic champion.  I know I’m blowing my own trumpet and you, my dear friends, have no way of knowing whether what I’m telling you is true or a whopping great porky but I’m convinced that even twenty years ago I could have challenged the world’s best and beaten them hands down (a bit of an unintentional pun!).

I’d mastered this skill due to an accident although, at the time, I was accused of breaking the cloakroom window deliberately.

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‘No,’ I’d said,’ I hadn’t.’

‘Yes you did,’ they’d said, holding aloft the evidence of the mud caked dap* still lying amongst the glass shards on the inner windowsill.  They grabbed me and made me stand outside the headmaster’s study.  The prefects were bastards, worse than any of the teachers. Gestapo, we called them.  Anyway, with the window smashed the head, known to us pupils as “Bonge” (don’t ask me, I have no idea why), was summoned and he told me to measure the broken window, visit the local glaziers, buy a new pane of glass and sufficient putty and then return and with the assistance of a flea-bitten old chisel that he left for me to collect from the school secretary, I spent the afternoon replacing the glass and its putty.  However, this wasn’t sufficient retribution for my ‘crass action’ so I was additionally ‘sentenced’ to a week’s after school detention and as the breaking of the window happened on a Monday I was to be detained for the whole week.  The hour’s detention every night would mean my customers would receive their evening papers far later than normal. I knew they would not be happy and neither was I.  But neither the head nor the gestapo cared about them and certainly not about me.

At the end of Monday’s normal school day I strolled from my window repairing workshop and went to the assembly hall to await instruction on what I was to complete during that first afternoon’s detention.  Five minutes later Bonge appeared and said I was to sweep the huge hall floor.  He produced a wide, wooden, soft bristle floor brush and started to demonstrate how he wanted me to use it.  He declared he had been in the Royal Navy and there had learnt the skills necessary to use the brush properly but with economic effort.   He first demonstrated how I should hold the brush handle then how to sweep with the brush held in front and then drawn behind.  Off he started, with me following close behind, him using precise movements to effectively collect and retain the floor’s detritus in the path of the bristles.  After a few moments he stopped his efforts, turned and asked,

‘Got that, Roberts?’

‘Not quite, Sir,’ I quickly responded, ‘I didn’t see how I should hold the brush on its forward path.’

‘Come closer,’ he instructed and as I moved alongside he repeated his demonstration of where the hands must be placed and set off once again, pushing the brush firmly before him.  I decided to bull-up his brushing skill, which considering he was a tall, large, elderly man was most impressive, saying,

‘That’s brilliant Sir, I can see how the dust is held in its place as you push the brush forward but what about when the brush is used in reverse, I didn’t quite get how you managed to keep the fluff in its place.’  Suitably flattered, he set off again, going down the length of the hall, first pushing the brush and then drawing it behind him with the growing mound of dust and fluff held firmly in its place.

‘Right, Roberts, now you try.’

I deliberately messed up the hand holds and so he came behind me and took hold of each of my hands and placed them where he wanted them on the wooden handle.

‘Hold on firmly but you must allow your wrists to be supple.  The skill is in the proper manoeuvrability of the wrists.  Try pushing forward.’

I pushed on the handle but again deliberately held my feet in place so ended up forming a triangle between me and the broom.

‘No, no, no,’ he called, ‘move your feet, boy.  Left, right, left, right.  Start again.’

I pushed myself upright, re-gripped the handle and set off – right, left, right, left.

‘Roberts, you’re the most awkward sweeper I’ve ever seen.  Your feet must move like you’re marching – left, right, left, right.  Got that?’

‘I think so, Sir.’

‘Right start again.  Forward, that’s it – left, right, left, right.  No, no, no – look where all the dust is going – back over the floor.  We’ll be here all night at this pace.  Right, let me demonstrate again.’

He snatched the broom, carefully placed his hands and set off back up the hall floor.

‘See, Roberts, correct hold, keep the wrists supple, feet moving left, right, left, right, note the bristles always corralling the floor dust.  Keep up, boy.  Brush in front, turn and draw the brush behind, turn to its front.  Up, down – all dust held in place.  Left, right, left, right.’

He began to quietly whistle and it was evident that he thought he was back on the deck of his ship, having momentarily forgotten that I and not he should be brushing.  He again reached the bottom of the hall and suddenly realised that I was no longer following him.  He shouted,

‘Roberts, quickly go and find Mrs Davies and ask to borrow her dustpan.  Hurry, there’s a good chap.’

He continued brushing as I sloped off to try to find Mrs Davies.  Returning with the cleaner, we both gawped to see Bonge finish brushing the last length of the hall, smiling happily at the pile of floor debris still held in place by the bristles. He turned to look at us.

‘Come on, Roberts, put the dustpan in front while I sweep the dust in.  That’s it.  Well done.  Right, have ten minute practice up and down the hall.’

He passed the brush and I set off as he had demonstrated.

‘Good, good – that’s it – forward – turn the brush – draw towards you, turn again, push forward.  Good – left, right, left, right.  Well done, Roberts.  That’s enough for this afternoon.  Be back here tomorrow at the end of class and I’ll watch as you sweep. Every night this week – make a sweeper of you yet, Roberts.  At least you’ll have a skill when you leave us.eh?  Goodnight, Mrs Davies.’

 

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With that he strode back to his study whilst Mrs Davies and I looked at one another and smiled.

 

By Friday night I had completely mastered the brush and the floor dust remained in place before the bristles and thanks to Bonge I have never lost the skill that he patiently taught me.  Betty, my wife, too, is delighted!

  • Trainer, gym shoe,plimsoll

 

 

 

‘Clean Sweep’             by       Alan A Roberts.          Summer 2016