A Collection of Shadorma Poems #poetry (And One Other Thrown in for Good Luck!!) #Friday #Pembrokeshire

As some of you may know, as well as holding private creative writing workshops, I also tutor creative writing for Pembrokeshire County Council. Tutoring adults can be  rewarding (discovering wonderful writers), chaotic (my lesson plans are rarely followed – someone will inevitably take things off at a tangent) hilarious (the undiscovered comedian/ the completely unaware comedian) and thought-provoking (especially with memoir writing) Every now and then I like to share some of their work.

 Last week I set the task of writing  a  Shadorma poem .

Below are Alex  Abercrombie’s versions. 

However, this first poem, written by him, was taken tongue in cheek by me… yet, I suppose, is one I could even blatantly use as promotion for Pattern of Shadows

REPEATING PATTERNS

for Judith Barrow

Poor Nelly:

She tried so hard,

But both her sons

Turned out feral.

 

One of them

Raped a woman.

Someone drowned him,

Then worse followed –

 

His brother

Randy for revenge

Traced and murdered

The wrong man.

 

Hang on, though –

Haven’t we heard

This tale told far

Better before?

Same story,

Same characters,

Same web of dark

Motivations?

 

Writer’s cramp’s

A piffling excuse

For pilfering

Judith’s plot!

 

Oh, Judith –

You try so hard

To make even

Scum seem human,

 

But (unless

I’ve totally

Misread you) your

Refined fury

 

At things folk

Do to each other

Is what really

Drives your pen.

                                                               ***
 As I said above, these are Alex’s versions of  the Shadorma.
 The Shadorma is a poem made up of a stanza of six lines
(sestet)  with no set rhyme scheme.
 It is a syllabic poem with a meter of 3/5/3/3/7/5.
It can have many stanzas, as long as each follows the meter.
Little is known about this poetic style’s origins and history
but it is used by many modern poets today.
This variation of the haiku, which is evident by its syllable pattern,
can be seen in use in many writing venues.

 

HACKNEYED

This are Alex’s. In the following first stanza these are his words not mine!!

So-called

Shadormas. 

Most of them

Following

A well-worn rut (the last one’s

Not quite so hackneyed.)

*

I wonder:

Why is it so hard

To extract

Poetry

From social tittle-tattle

And the day’s routine?

*

Housekeeping, Cleaning

Why is it

That washing dishes

And weeding

And putting

The bins out never kindles

The Muse’s candle?

*

Comic Characters Hello Man Smile Hello Hel

Why doesn’t

Saying Bore da

To neighbours,

Or strangers,

Or builders, ever evoke

Interesting rhymes?

*

Options Choose Life Menu People Decision A

If Larkin,

Patiently rubbing

His boredoms

Together,

Could burn holes in people’s hearts,

Why can’t I do it?

My Last Saturday Round-Up Of the Brilliant Authors #authors & Poets #poets at the Narberth Book Fair #BookFair

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Gathering the last of those authors and poets who joined in with the interviews to  help to show what a treat is in store at our book fair. Do please drop in to our website:   Narberth Book Fair, cleverly put together by the brilliant Thorne Moore.

There are forty authors, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults: workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children; Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire. Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

There is still time to  enter the poetry competition: competition Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter and, hopefully, will be with us at the fair), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

The line up so far:

Judith Barrow

Thorne Moore

Juliet Greenwood

Graham Watkins

Rebecca Bryn

Helen Williams

Sally Spedding

Katy Whateva

Sara Gethin

Cheryl Rees-Price

Jackie Biggs

Judith Arnopp

Colin R Parsons

Kate Murray

Hugh Roberts

Carol Lovekin

Catherine Marshall

Tracey Warr

Steve Thorpe

Wendy Steele

I must say I’ve enjoyed interviewing all the poets and authors and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. There will still be plenty of news about the book fair over the next few weeks. In the meantime, do think about entering the competition and don’t forget to put your name down for any of the workshops; numbers are limited.
Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

My Fifth Saturday Round-Up Of All the Brilliant Authors #authors & Poets #poets at the Narberth Book Fair #BookFair

Titleband for Narberth Book FairGathering even more of us all together this week to show what a treat is in store at our book fair. Do please drop in to our website:   Narberth Book Fair, cleverly put together by the brilliant Thorne Moore.

Will be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair for some weeks to come.

There are forty authors, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults: workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children; Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire. Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: competition Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter and, hopefully, will be with us at the fair), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

The line up so far:

Judith Barrow

Thorne Moore

Juliet Greenwood

Graham Watkins

Rebecca Bryn

Helen Williams

Sally Spedding

Katy Whateva

Sara Gethin

Cheryl Rees-Price

Jackie Biggs

Judith Arnopp

Colin R Parsons

Kate Murray

Hugh Roberts

Carol Lovekin

Catherine Marshall

Tracey Warr

Steve Thorpe

Wendy Steele

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #author #poet Narberth Book Fair#BookFair. Today with Wendy Steele

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Throughout this months I ’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition:  competition . Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Our author today is the multi-talented Wendy Steel

 

Wendy Steele

 

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love seeing my characters play out a story that’s been banging around in my head, watching it evolve and develop, often from a single idea. I enjoy editing and finishing less but the joy of completing a draft ready for first readers, makes up for that. Of course, feedback from readers is the greatest joy of all.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

I was forty years of age when I read Moon Magic by Dion Fortune. My childhood love of the moon and everything Egyptian and my personal discoveries about paganism, hedge witchery and the Kabbalah were brought together when I read that book. With new confidence, I wrote my first published novel, Destiny of Angels.

Who is your favourite author?

My favourite author is the late, much missed, Sir Terry Pratchett. I read Wyrd Sisters first before devouring every book he had written. I’m a visual reader and writer and Sir Terry conjures up images and scenes in the most beautiful and economical way. His use of language can make me laugh or cry. Magic.

DestinyWrath

 

 

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

An average week will include 16-18 hours of writing plus 7-12 hours of social media/marketing.

I love big chunks of time to write, to immerse myself in the story and characters. My best writing time is if my partner is working away and I don’t need to teach in the evening. I’m happy to write for 12-14 hours in one hit.

The reality is that I rarely get 4 hours at a time but I carry chapters of first draft with me, in case I have the opportunity to read and revise and make notes for the following chapters. Typing them up involves me in the story quickly, often leading to me writing on; I’ll do anything to maximise my writing time.

 

The Standing Stone - The GatheringThe Standing Stone - Silence Is BrokenThe Standing Stone - Home For Christmas

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

The Naked Witch is my first novel in a new and exciting genre, Witchlit. Similar to Chicklit, the female protagonist is a modern woman, juggling work, an ex-husband, a difficult, demanding mother while also the responsible single parent of a teenage daughter. Readers love Lizzie Martin! She’s a woman of courage, beset by the worries and concerns we have but determined to stand up for what she believes in. Being a witch is part of who she is, rather than the label that defines her.

In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Compelling, thought-provoking and unique.

the naked witch KINDLE(1)

 

What was the inspiration behind The Naked Witch?

I wanted to write a book for everyone, especially women, whatever their usual choice of genre. Lizzie lives her life in a man’s world, as do we all and I wanted to write a story about a woman making her own rules, willing to defy convention and be successful in her own right.

How long did it take you to write The Naked Witch?

Having penned a few Witchlit short stories at the end of last year, the character of Lizzie Martin emerged and her story unfolded easily. The book took me three months to write and a further month to edit once I’d had feedback from first readers.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote a few children’s books about Willoughby the Hedgehog in my twenties but I was thirty eight when I began my first novel, Hubble Bubble…and forty one when I finished it! I wrote in forty minute time slots while sitting in the car, waiting for my children to come out of school.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I’ve had useful and encouraging feedback from readers in reviews but I also get messages and meet fans at book fairs. I’m delighted to say they find my books inspiring, feeling they can identify with the characters…and more than one of them wants to be Lizzie Martin!

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I’m not sure if it’s a talent but I can recite the alphabet backwards. I taught myself at the age of about twelve…I have no idea why. I learned to read music, when I learned to play the piano, at the age of four, the same age as when I learned to read words.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

When I lived in a town, I used to have writing trousers, a huge, baggy pair of black tracksuit bottoms which was my preferred attire to write in. Now I write in pjs.

I love beginning a new story with a fresh pad of A4 paper and my Waterman fountain pen.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Apart from renovating my current residence and attempting to tame four acres of land, I dance. I learned belly dance from the age of forty, taught it for four years and, while exploring other dance genres, discovered ATS® Belly dance. I’ve been teaching this style as Tribal Unity Wales since March 2014. Belly dance is a fabulous, full body work out and classes are a great way to make friends and keep fit.

Smiles

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing

I can only recall one incident that was amusing to those watching while embarrassing for me at the time…five months pregnant with my daughter, I fell through a garden chair and got stuck…even I laughed as my friends attempted to extract me!

Give us a random fact about yourself.

Belly dance gave me confidence at a time when I was coping with a debilitating illness and struggling with self image. I wanted a tattoo but money was put to more practical use, bringing up three children so at the age of fifty, ten years later, I had my first tattoo, a delicate triskele that I adore. The eight pointed star of the warrior goddess Ishtar soon followed. Last year, I asked the fabulously talented Abi Hack to design a tribal band for my arm, incorporating a thirteen petalled lotus and a mandala that my daughter and I share, both of which adorn my right arm.

 Wendy’s Links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Linkedin
Amazon author page
Good Reads
The Phoenix and the Dragon

 

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #author #poet Narberth Book Fair#BookFair. Today with Hugh Roberts

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Throughout this months I ’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition:  competition . Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

BOOKS AND READING.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

Our author today is the lovely author, prolific blogger and all round good guy … Hugh Roberts.

Hugh Roberts

Let’s’ start, Hugh, by you telling us what you love most about the writing process?

Being able to go into worlds that do not exist and creating characters and worlds that I have the power over and which readers enjoy reading about. As a writer, you can do anything you want to the people in your worlds, so it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to living life as an emperor.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

I would love to write for a TV show such as Doctor Who, or even a well-known soap-opera. I admire the writers in the world of TV and movies and think it such a shame that many of them do not get the recognition they deserve. We need to ensure that these people walk along the red-carpet to loud cheers, as much as the actors do.

If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction who would you write about?

The Time Traveller in The Time Machine. I know there have been hundreds (if not thousands) of other time travelling stories since H.G. Wells wrote The Time Machine, but I would have loved to have asked Mr Wells if I could write a sequel to his book. I’m not a huge lover of sequels, but The Time Traveller in The Time Machine is one of my all-time favourite fictional characters.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Yes, ever since I can remember. It has always been one of my two lifetime goals. Unfortunately, for many years, I allowed being dyslexic get in my way. I’m so grateful to have discovered the world of blogging, as it was the gateway for me to finally conquer the monster I called ‘Dyslexia’. 

 What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

As a writer of short stories, I’ve written in many genres. My favourites tend to be science fiction, horror, and suspense. However, I was recently challenged to write a rom-com, after saying it was a genre I would find difficult to write. It took me a while to write a story, but I’m pleased to say that I wrote one, although it’s yet to be read by anyone.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

So far, I’ve only published one book. It’s called Glimpses and is a collection of 28 short stories I’ve wrote over three years. If you enjoy shows as such The Twilight Zone, Tales Of The Unexpected, The Outer Limits, or Tales From The Dark Side, then Glimpses is a must read. All the stories are full of twists and turns that take the reader on an unexpected journey and an ending they probably never saw coming.

Glimpses by [Roberts, Hugh W.]

What was the inspiration behind Glimpses?

My love of The Twilight Zone and its creator, Rod Serling. When I first watched The Twilight Zone, I wanted to find out more about its creator. Serling is the master when it comes to writing stories with twists that nobody will have guessed, along with his thoughts about the situations people find themselves in, in each of the stories. He gave me the inspiration to write stories the way he did and to marvel in the delight when people say that they didn’t see that ending coming. It’s one of the biggest compliments a reader can pay me.

How long did it take you to write Glimpses?

I wrote the first story in April 2014. However, at the time, I had no intension of publishing it in a book. Then, as I wrote more and more short stories and published them on my blog, my readers started asking me to put them into a collection and publish them. Glimpses was published in December 2016.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

No, I always have the reins of a story. In fact, the ending will come to me first, and I then tend to work backwards to the beginning. I’ve never found myself in a situation where a character has hijacked the story…not yet, anyway.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Yes, as many of them follow my blog. One of the best things about blogging is the interaction between my readers and myself. If it wasn’t for my readers leaving comments on my blog, Glimpses would never have been published. I’m very lucky in that my blog seems to attract a lot of comments. I’ve had huge compliments paid to me, as well as great constructive criticism about what I publish. I also enjoy seeing my readers interact with each other on my blog. When I’ve asked people why they leave me comments on my blog, many say it’s because of the friendliness I show everyone who comments. I treat anyone who visits my blog as a guest and always ensure I respond to all the comments.

 Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Not that I’m aware of, although I have been told that I have a talent of writing stories with an unexpected ending that many never guess is coming.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

That most of my writing is done in the morning. I rarely write after lunchtime, although one story I wrote during the middle of the night did end up in Glimpses.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Walking with my partner, John and our Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Toby. Watching television, cycling, and meeting up with friends and family for meals and drinks.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing.

I got knocked out by an electric potato peeler at the Ideal Home Exhibition in London. It wasn’t funny at the time, but I now laugh about it.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I have a collection of 24 foot dated Harrods Christmas Teddy bears and over 50 Christmas themed mugs.

Hugh’s Links:

Blog
Twitter
Amazon

My Series of Author and Poet Interviews Narberth Book Fair with Rebecca Bryn,

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

Books and Reading.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

I’ll be chatting with one ot two of them each week. Today it’s the turn of  the author, Rebecca Bryn, to chat to us.

Rebecca Bryn

Please tell us, Rebecca, what do you love most about the writing process?

Creating an alternative, believable reality and populating it with the people I could never hope, and sometimes never want, to be.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

Imparting some small piece of knowledge, self-awareness, or understanding, and challenging my readers’ preconceptions, as my tales have challenged mine and informed me of who I am.

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

A bit of both. Walt in Touching the Wire, though a fictitious character, was based on my maternal grandfather because I needed a person I loved deeply in order to be able to contemplate writing such a harrowing story. Jem in For Their Country’s Good was a real person; he was my great-great-great uncle and there is a lot of fact in that story. Most of my other characters are out of my own damaged and devious psyche…

What do you think makes a good story?

Characters that live, flawed and imperfect, who make wrong choices and drive the story in unexpected directions. A believable plot. Settings in which you can immerse yourself and forget reality for a while.

 How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

Product Details

Product DetailsProduct Details

 

Six. I love them all, but then I’m biased; I fall in love with the characters. I think I’m most proud of For Their Country’s Good. I wrote it for my family: it’s part of their history too.

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

Loosely thrillers. I’ve written contemporary, historical and dystopian, all with a romantic thread, but I like to think they’re thrillers with a twist.

 Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

My latest is On Common Ground, Book Three of For Their Country’s Good, so, really, to get the full impact you need to read Books One and Two first. The story takes us back to Victorian England and immerses us in the poverty and inequalities of that time. The lack of rights for women, even over their own bodies – rape in marriage was legal until relatively recently – the brutality of the transportation system where young men and women were transported, with little hope of ever earning the fare to return home, for crimes such as ‘stealing two lengths of ribbon’ or ‘being fraudulently in possession of a shovel’ (Yes these are real crimes) in order to build an empire in Australia on convict labour: the strength of love to withstand everything life throws at it. Love, social inequality, and injustice are subjects dear to my heart. You have to read this series!

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

Never give up?

 Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

Do they ever! Reins? What are they? I have a beginning point and an idea of how and where the story will end. Between the first page and the last looms this chasm of blank white paper. I put my trust in my characters and follow where they lead. They land themselves in some awful situations and expect me to write them out of them.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I have had some hundred or more fabulous reviews, and one or two not so fabulous ones. A letter I received from an elderly Hungarian lady, whose parents died in the Holocaust, made my entire writing career worthwhile. She thanked me for writing Touching the Wire, saying that after seventy years she could finally contemplate the process of forgiveness. I wept when I read her letter, as I wept when I wrote the novel. I’m filling up just thinking about her.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I am a woman of hidden talents, most of them well-hidden, but I can turn my hand to most things. I paint in watercolours, mainly seascapes. I’ve tiled floors, mixed concrete, and dug ponds, and the same rough hands have embroidered pictures and made intricate patchworks. I just love to create.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I have a habit of constructing sentences backwards. And I have dyslexic fingers when typing. I have learnt not to call my characters Hnery or Hnerietta, for example.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Painting, walking, reading, gardening – anything except housework.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing.

Should I admit to this? I was once rather non-PC with a black gentleman who came to carry out an inspection when I ran a village Post Office. Post Office inspectors are like policeman: not known for their chattiness or sense of humour. I’d tried to be friendly, but he was having none of it and even refused my coffee. While he was pouring through my books with an eagle and disapproving eye, I had a phone call from my future husband whose dog was due to whelp. She was a black Labrador, and the father of the pups was a tortoiseshell Collie, so we were hoping for pretty puppies. The news was that Katie had begun giving birth and was still in labour. The part of the phone call the inspector heard went as follows.

Me ‘Oh, good, I’m a granny.’

The inspector broke a frugal congratulatory smile.

Me ‘How many has she had?’

He rose one eyebrow a quarter of an inch at this.

Me ‘What colour are they?’

The expression on his face was absolutely priceless.

Sorry, but I couldn’t help myself…

 Another incident that was embarrassing at the time but funny in retrospect is retold in ‘Ooh Air Margrit’ Download it free at http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn.html Find the link immediately beneath my author biography.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I love Marmite.

Links to Rebecca:

 

 

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews at the Narberth Book Fair

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting interviews with the authors who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

Books and Reading.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

 So, all the formalities now set out, I’ll be chatting with everyone week by week.  Our next author is Juliet Greenwood.  Juliet’s is  rather a longer post than the others as I’ve also incorporated her #familysaga interview afterwards. Both  fascinating so I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

Juliet From Trisha Small

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

My most memorable pilgrimage was going to Howarth to the Bronte Museum. I went first as a teenager, when I’d first discovered ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. It was fascinating to see where the sisters lived and worked, and I was amazed at the smallness of their dresses. The things I loved best were the tiny little books they’d written as children. I was creating books myself at the time, not nearly as tiny, and it was great to see that that was how my idols had begun their literary career!

The thing I remember most, though, is the graveyard, and the sounds and the atmosphere. When I was older, I walked the Pennine Way with friends. We reached Top Withens in the morning, swathed in mist, and sat and had breakfast in the ruins. That was definitely one of the most atmospheric mornings I’ve ever experienced.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Writing is the best buzz ever – but also the most exhausting. I find it’s always hard to get into, the temptation to go into the garden instead (or even clean the house) is overwhelming. But once I get into the story, my mind begins to fizz. Ideas come from all over the place and I can hardly keep up with writing them down. I hate stopping. I find the mind keeps on going, racing away, working at knots in the plot, so I’m always grabbing a pen in the middle of cooking, or meeting friends, or even emerging from the shower, to write things down before I forget. Then, just as suddenly, I crash. If I’ve managed to have several hours at the book, the brain goes to mush, just about up to Masterchef (seriously surreal for a life-long vegetarian), but very little else. But I find flickers of ideas are usually still working in the background, as knots in the plot can miraculously be resolved (usually in the middle of the night – I have notebooks all over the place).

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think the most common trap is thinking the book is finished. When I started, I realised the story had to go through several drafts, but it wasn’t until I first worked with an editor that I realised this isn’t just tinkering, and you need to be prepared to throw anything and everything out if it isn’t working. It gets less drastic as you become more experienced, but all books are worked on again and again, and again and again – and then the real editing process begins. I love the editing process, it’s when the book really comes together, but I never would have believed it is such hard work, and that I would loath the sight of the book by the end, as well as loving it for being the best it could possibly be. Like all good things, the art of writing a book is mostly hidden. Finishing a novel is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

I think you need a big ego to give you faith that you can write a book and that someone else will want to read it, but also none at all in order to take criticism and, in the end, put your ego aside to work in the best interests of your novel. When it comes to publicity, you need to be generous and help others and not expect them to help you for nothing. There’s nothing worse than someone on Twitter shouting ‘buy my book!’ and nothing else. And even worse is the one who, the moment you follow them, direct messages you to demand you retweet their book, without so much as a hint they might return the favour. That kind of ego is its own worst enemy – especially as most writers are really supportive of each other and great at returning favours.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I do write under a pseudonym as well as under my own name. I really enjoy the freedom ‘Heather Pardoe’ gives me when I’m writing for magazines. She was how I was first published, so I’m very proud of her – even if she does tend to slope off to a beach in Barbados for long periods while Juliet Greenwood is stuck at home working her socks off!

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

I try to write the kind of book I know readers love, but put my own slant on it. I write historical family sagas and timeshifts, usually focussed around a big old house and a family secret. I have a fascination with the lives of ordinary women in the past, who were often far more active and in control of their lives than history remembers them (if they are remembered at all). I tend to set an intensely personal story against a historical background. ‘We That are Left’ is set in WW1, but focuses on the experience of women working on the front line, as well as those keeping life going at home, and on the changes that made to their self-conception and expectations, as well as the tragedy of war. In ‘The White Camellia’, the story of one of the first women photojournalists is set against the long struggle of the suffrage movement, and the beginnings of the suffragettes, and the struggle for equal pay and the rights for women to have control over their lives and their money, as well as for the vote.

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

It made me approach the whole process with much more professionalism. It made me see that if I was going to be serious about this, I wasn’t just writing for myself, but to entertain and move readers. The first draft is always for myself – that’s okay, it’s a total mess and no one is going to read it. But from then on, I need to consider the needs of the reader, how they will see things, and what they need from a book, in order to make it at all publishable. That doesn’t mean compromising – it’s means more skill and more ingenuity, and being able to listen to others’ opinions – especially those with far more experience!

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Buying my original computer. A very long time ago. It was a really difficult decision as I didn’t have much money, and it took a month’s wages. You’d fall about laughing at it now, but it changed my writing life. The miracle of not having to use a typewriter! And there were rumours of this strange new thing called the Internet. Little did I know how much that would change my writing life too, as well as allowing me to work freelance to support my writing.

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

Loads! I read somewhere that an unpublished writer (and more than one ‘overnight success’) has about ten unpublished manuscripts lurking in a drawer. That’s about right for me. They aren’t all languishing. Some have become the basis of other books, and others the basis for serials I’ve written for magazines. Others are waiting for their time to come – while others (usually the early ones) will never, ever, see the light of day!

What does literary success look like to you?

Enchanting your readers, while writing what you love to write. And being able to earn enough money from your writing to live on, so you don’t have to try and squeeze writing and marketing in between the day job. Not zillions. Just enough to concentrate on the writing.

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

The day job! Mind you, working as a freelance academic proofreader does help my language skills and makes me super critical of my own manuscripts. I enjoy it, especially seeing the world from the point of view of students as far afield as China and Saudi Arabia, but I’d love to have the time to concentrate on my own work. One day ….

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

Approximately a year. I write the first draft in a mad rush, then, once I know my characters and the story, the real work begins. I’m usually thinking about the next one by the time I’m finishing the current one ready to go off to my editor. I spend a couple of weeks making the house look presentable again, then I’m off. It’s a never-ending process, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 Product Details

 

 The White Camellia

Cornwall 1909

Sybil has fought her way up from nothing to become a successful
businesswoman. It seems she has the world at her feet.

Then, against her better judgement, she buys faded Tressillion House
on the wild Cornish cliffs. A house with a tragic past of greed, folly
and revenge, linked to the goldmine in its grounds. Sybil cannot
forget that the Tressillion family once destroyed everything she held
dear, or the revenge that, in a moment of bitter fury, she took to pay
them back. Her actions have had consequences that have haunted her
ever since, and surround her with secrets that could destroy
everything she has fought so hard to become.

But help comes from the most unexpected places, from the very family
she has destroyed, setting Sybil off on the long, hard road towards
self-forgiveness.

A thrilling story of loss and redemption, of the power of friendship,
and the enduring power of true love.

And now for the Narberth Book Fair Author Questions:

http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/

Why do you write?

I write because I have to – I get itchy fingers and can’t settle unless I get my regular ‘fix’ of writing.

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love the transformation of the original idea into the final book, and the many stages it goes through to get there. As new characters arise as the story develops, the book so often goes in entirely unexpected directions, so it becomes a voyage of discovery.  I also love the final editing, when it all finally comes together – even though by that time I’m usually sick of the book, and have to fall in love with it all over again when I see it in print!

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

I always think my characters come purely from my imagination, but I think they really tend to come from an amalgamation of many people I have known, which then create a unique individual.

If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction who would you write about?

It would be Millicent Fawcett, the leader of the suffrage movement in the UK. Although she is being honoured as the first woman to have a statue in Parliament Square, she has been overshadowed by the Pankhursts and the suffragettes. She was an amazing woman, who, despite having no legal existence, successfully out-witted the male politicians. She won many rights we take for granted today and began the fight for equal pay for equal work. We owe her a huge debt, not least for ensuring that the UK parliament voted twice for women to have the vote. It also explains the anger and the violence of the suffragettes, which was due to the democratic process being overturned.

 How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

I’ve written four books, three for Honno Press, and three magazine serials. My favourite book is always the one I’ve just finished, because with each one I grow as a writer. But I’ll always have a soft spot for my first book for Honno, ‘Eden’s Garden’, because that was where my real journey as a writer began.

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

I write historical fiction, set against the backdrop of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, usually involving a big old house, and family secrets, and women struggling to follow their own paths against the expectations of society. I’ve flirted with writing cosy crime, but I find I always come back to my own kind of book – although I’m always open to trying something new.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

‘The White Camellia’ is about a fading mansion in Edwardian Cornwall, and two very different women, whose families have been in a conflict that has led to tragedy. Both Bea and Sybil are increasingly haunted by a danger from the past, and have to decide whether to continue the family feud, or join forces. It’s a complex and entwined story about two brave, independent women and the men they love. Although the men are there to support them, it is Bea and Sybil who have to make their own choices, and who finally do the rescuing, in a nail-biting climax, when unexpected truths are revealed.

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

That revenge always has unexpected consequences, and self-forgiveness is the hardest lesson of all.

What is your favourite part of the book?

The very last scene, which brings the story together – so I can’t say why!

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

The characters always hijack the story. I’m in control for the first page of the first draft, but the moment the heroine requires a sister, friend, or even random passer-by, they’re off on their own path, and it’s anybody’s guess where we’ll end up. I just follow, bemused, feebly trying to keep them in order (unless they try to wander of into zombie territory, which my readers would not like at all, so then there’s trouble).

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I can make a pretty mean hand puppet with nothing more than a few bits of cloth and plenty of sequins (I used to do puppet story-telling workshops with children).

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A touch of dry humour in unexpected places. It happens in both books and serials. I can’t help myself.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love gardening, and walking my dog in the Welsh hills where I can also indulge my passion for photography.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing

My day job is as an academic proofreader, mostly for students whose first language is not English. There are sometimes some very inappropriate expressions (usually down to the spellchecker) in the middle of a thesis. I’m afraid they are not repeatable, and the question is always whether to explain why you can’t say that sort of thing in polite society, or quietly brush it under the carpet…

Give us a random fact about yourself.

Before I had a dog, I rode a green lady’s bicycle, with three gears, all over Snowdonia. It didn’t half annoy the proper cyclists (especially as I unashamedly got off and walked at the slightest hill).

 Juliet Bio

Juliet Greenwood is published by Honno Press. Her books are set in Wales, London, and Cornwall in Victorian and Edwardian times, and follow the lives of strong, independently-minded women struggling to find freedom and self-fulfilment. Her novels have reached #4 and #5 in the UK Amazon Kindle store, while ‘Eden’s Garden’ was a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’. ‘We That are Left’ was completed with a Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary. She also writes serials and stories for magazines as ‘Heather Pardoe’.

Juliet’s great grandmother worked as a nail maker in Lye Waste, near Birmingham in the Black Country, hammering nails while rocking the cradle with her foot. Juliet’s grandmother worked her way up to become a cook in a big country house. Their stories have left Juliet with a passion for history, and in particular for the experiences of women, so often overlooked or forgotten.

Juliet lives in a traditional cottage in Snowdonia, and loves gardening and walking. Despite being halfway up a Welsh mountain, she grows delicious black grapes from a cutting from the Hampton Court vine.

LINKS

The White Camellia’, Honno Press, 2016

myBook.to/TheWhiteCamellia

 The White Camellia visual small (1)

‘We That Are Left’, Honno Press, 2014

myBook.to/WeThatareLeft

we that are left

‘Eden’s Garden’, Honno Press, 2012

myBook.to/EdenGarden

 edens garden

Blog:                http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com/

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/juliet.greenwood

Twitter:           https://twitter.com/julietgreenwood

Pinterest:         https://www.pinterest.com/julietgreenwood/

new honno_logo

 

My Series of Author & Poet Interviews at the Narberth Book Fair With Fellow Organiser Thorne Moore

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting interviews with the authors who will be taking part in our Book Fair:  http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/.

There are forty of us so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults and fun workshops for children, activities for the children and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.   

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition: Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –

Books and Reading.

Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/ who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/2hZCgt2  and Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/2rc5qyA. Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: http://bit.ly/2sNyeKQ . 

 So, all the formalities now set out, I’ll be chatting with everyone week by week.  Our next author is Thorne Moore. Thorne is also a Honno author and hard working fellow organiser of the Book Fair. 

 

Thorne Moore

 

Welcome, Thorne, let’s start by you telling us why you write, please.

Because I’ve never been able to stop myself. I was a chronic daydreamer as a child, and daydreams are the first step towards writing. I invented worlds and peopled them, and then I disappeared into them. Then I learned to read and started disappearing into books. The obvious next stage was to combine the two and disappear into my own books.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

To say something significant, to make people stop and think. For immortality. Which doesn’t mean I write for fame or fortune, though both would be nice. I am my thoughts and, in writing a book, those thoughts get recorded in a form that will survive me, even if it’s only in a few mangled pages at the back of a second-hand bookshop in Mongolia.

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Both? I invent my characters, or they invent themselves – sometimes I know the sort of person I need for a book but I have to wait for that character to acquire a life of its own before they really work. I never base characters on actual specific people. But then we all learn about human nature by seeing people, the way they talk and walk and dress and think and agonise and emote. That knowledge has to feed into the makeup of our fictional characters, or they wouldn’t come across as real.

What do you think makes a good story?

Convincing characters, pace that doesn’t send you to sleep, a plot that flows organically, without being too contrived, natural dialogue, language suited to the story, without superfluity and an underlying theme that leaves the reader thinking, if only for a second or two.

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

I write about ordinary people in crisis, dealing with trauma and its aftermath, sometimes through generations. That trauma is often a crime, so I suppose they count as crime novels, and my protagonist is always a woman (write what you know), so they could count as women’s literature, and they sometimes delve into the past, so they could be classified as historical novels, or sagas. Can I settle for Domestic Noir? It could encompass anything really.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

My third novel, published by Honno Press, is The Unravelling. It’s about a woman, Karen, who is a little bit troubled – actually very troubled, with some serious mental issues. A chance and seemingly meaningless event – an apple rolling into a drain – sparks off a memory of a girl she knew at school, Serena Whinn, the angel of the playground, whom she had worshipped at the age of ten. Karen becomes obsessed with finding Serena and the circle of friends who had surrounded her. As she searches, hidden memories of awful events back in 1966 come to life, and as the story of what really happened in 1966 begins to unravel, Karen unravels with it, until, finally, the truth emerges and sets her free.

The Unravelling: Children can be very very cruel (A gripping domestic noir thriller) by [Moore, Thorne]

It’s a story about the secret world of playground politics that adults don’t see, and the damage and cruelty that can result when boundaries are pushed too far and things get out of hand. I imagine everyone will recognise something from their schooldays, even if they don’t remember the sixties.

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

Not a moral, exactly, but I do delve into questions of evil and its source. And the long-term effects of guilt. I always deal with guilt. It has to be one of the most fascinating aspects of human identity – the ability to feel guilt.

What is your favourite part of the book?

Difficult to say, but I did enjoy some of the scenes where I was drawing on my memories of my own childhood. My characters are all fictional, but Marsh Green, in the book, bears a very close resemblance to the estate where I lived and went to school.

What was the inspiration behind The Unravelling.

It was simply remembering the place where I grew up and where, with a child’s imagination, all sorts of monsters and nightmares could exist, alongside all the fairytales and games. I used to walk home down a wooded lane, crossing a stream on a great iron pipe, running past the witch’s cottage… All sorts of things might have happened. And then in real life, far away, all sorts of things really do happen, and you wonder how it could possibly have come to that.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

I have the reins, but the horses have minds of their own and often refuse to respond. It’s quite encouraging when I tell them to do or say something, and they turn round and say ‘Yes, but I wouldn’t, would I. Think again, please.’ Then you know you’ve made them real.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Far too many to mention. I do make hand-carved miniature furniture.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A disinclination to get up and dressed, before starting to write in the morning. I write in bed.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Gardening. Walking. Reading. Watching the broody swallow nesting in my porch.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing

Needing to relieve myself, in thick mist, while climbing the upper reaches of the Watkin track on Snowdon. I was modestly crouching, pants down, behind a rock, when the mists suddenly parted and I found myself looking straight across to the Miner’s Track, and a band of boy scouts.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

At the age of 10 I won a bronze medal for old time ballroom dancer. Don’t know how – or why.

A Time For SilenceMotherloveThe UnravellingMoments of Consequence

Links to Thorne and her books:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads
Amazon

 

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 Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Merryn Allingham#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!!

Today, I’m chatting with Merryn Allingham. Merryn was born into an army family and spent her childhood on the move. Unsurprisingly, it gave her itchy feet and in her twenties she escaped from an unloved secretarial career to work as cabin crew and see the world. The arrival of marriage, children and cats meant a more settled life in the south of England where she’s lived ever since. It also gave her the opportunity to go back to ‘school’ and eventually teach at university.

Merryn has always loved books that bring the past to life, so when she began writing herself the novels had to be historical. She finds the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries fascinating eras to research and her first book, The Crystal Cage, had as its background the London of 1851. The Daisy’s War trilogy followed, set in India and London during the 1930s and 40s.

Her latest novels explore two pivotal moments in the history of Britain. The Buttonmaker’s Daughter is set in Sussex in the summer of 1914 as the First World War looms ever nearer and its sequel, The Secret of Summerhayes, forty years later in the summer of 1944 when D Day led to eventual victory in the Second World War. Along with the history, of course, there is plenty of mystery and romance to keep readers intrigued.

merryn

 

 

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

Thanks for inviting me, Judith. 

Please tell us How long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve needed to put pen to paper. As a small child, I wrote poems, at grammar school there were short stories that I never dared mention – creative writing was definitely not encouraged. Then the long letters home while working as cabin crew (pre internet and mobile phones) and at least two ten year diaries. Deep down, though, I knew it was a novel I had to write. But between family, pets and my job as a lecturer, there was little time to do more than dabble. However, when the pressures eased, I grabbed the chance to do something I’d always promised myself – to write that novel.

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

I worked for twenty-five years as a university lecturer teaching English Literature and when I came to write, it proved a two-edged sword. I’d spent years analysing how a piece of writing worked (or didn’t) so in theory I knew the basics. But that same background of academic research and teaching was a huge barrier to writing popular fiction and I hadn’t a clue how to begin, although I knew I wanted to. Then one morning I woke up and the idea was there. I would start where I felt most comfortable – in the Regency with a book along the lines of Georgette Heyer, whom I’ve read and reread a hundred times since my teenage years.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

It wasn’t until I’d completed the book, that I thought about a publisher. You can see how naive I was! I discovered that Harlequin Mills and Boon was one of the few who published Regency romances and were happy to accept unsolicited manuscripts. When I read they were willing to help polish my work if the writing showed promise, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

It took a long, long time for them to get back to me and in the meantime I’d made a start on novel number two. When eventually I received their feedback, it was complimentary. They liked my voice, they liked the characters and the plot but – you soon learn there’s always a ‘but’ – there were elements that didn’t fit what they wanted in a Mills and Boon novel. Would I care to revise? I certainly would. I set about getting the manuscript as right as I could before resubmitting. Another long wait followed, six months this time, and then ‘the call’ came (by this time I was half way through a third novel – the bug had truly bitten). I remember I was sitting on the sofa feeling doleful from a bout of December flu when the phone rang. Despite the coughs and splutters, it felt pretty special hearing an editor say I was being offered a two book contract.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

I started publishing over six years ago, producing six Regency romances under the name of Isabelle Goddard. Writing category historical romance proved a great apprenticeship, but left me wanting to broaden my scope and move into mainstream women’s fiction. It also left me wanting to create something a little darker. It hadn’t escaped my notice that with each succeeding Regency, the mystery element of the novels had become more pronounced. It seemed a natural progression then to segue into writing suspense, but still with an element of romance. In 2013, I adopted a different writing name – Merryn Allingham – and launched myself into the new genre.

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

I write historical novels so research is essential, and it’s something I enjoy hugely. Delving into history, I get to live in different houses, wear different clothes, meet different people and confront different choices. For The Buttonmaker’s Daughter, I did several months’ research in addition to what I already knew of the period, reading up on the social history of the country house, for instance, plotting the timeline of the First World War, understanding the pressures that led to emigration, and so on. The book is set in the summer of 1914, a cataclysmic moment for this country, and I feel a deep attachment to the world that was lost then. The First World War affected millions of lives across every class and community, with so few understanding the reality of the war they were called to join.

merryn-cover

                                                          http://amzn.to/2ln5iWu

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?  Summarize your writing process.

It’s interesting how often a place begins the process for me. I mull over possibilities of what might have happened there, and who it might have happened to. The mulling probably goes on for a couple of months. Then I might do some reading around the subject. For example, last year I travelled on the Orient Express to Venice and was blown away by the beauty of its art deco carriages. I wondered what it must have been like to travel on the train the whole way to Constantinople, as Istanbul was once known. That led me to reading about the last days of the Ottoman Empire which in turn led to a fairly detailed plot outline for a new book. The outline will change as I write almost certainly, but I have a structure now to work with. At the least, I know where the story will start and how it will end. The rest should fall into place as I write.

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

This is another instance of place playing a significant role. I was on a visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, ‘lost’ because they were only rediscovered in 1990 and since that time have been lovingly restored. The gardens’ heyday was the late Victorian/Edwardian period when owners spent a great deal of money, time and effort, in creating a beautiful and exotic paradise. But, when in 1914, war came to England, everything changed. Over half the staff perished in the mud of Flanders and the gardens were left to a slow disintegration.

Our guide that day had a fund of anecdotes and it was a single image from one of his stories that lodged in my mind and set me writing. On one particular day in the summer of 1914, every gardener on the estate downed tools together and walked side by side to Redruth, to enlist at the local recruiting centre. Most of those men never returned. The Day Book, which should have listed every job done on the estate that day, carried only the date and poignantly was never used again. The image of those men, honourable and courageous, walking together to enlist in what they saw as a just cause, stayed in my mind, and I knew I had to record that moment in a novel.

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

I try to do both. There’s a temptation, particularly under pressure from publishers, to repeat what has worked before, but readers can get bored with what is virtually the same story, just a different setting and different characters. I try to vary how I tackle each project. Daisy’s War is a trilogy exploring several themes across the three books but with each a complete story.

daisys-war

http://amzn.to/2meJiwt

The Crystal Cage is a novel with parallel time lines, that interweaves the lives of a modern day heroine and her Victorian counterpart.

 

the-crysatl-cage

http://amzn.to/2meFtr8

And the Summerhayes books (the second novel, The Secret of Summerhayes, is due out in August) are centred on one location but set thirty years apart, during the two World Wars. What remains constant in all the novels, though, is the mix of social history, suspense, and romance.

What do you like to read in your free time?

My choice of reading is fairly wide. I try to keep up with books in my genre – at the moment, I’m looking forward to reading Nicola Cornick’s The Phantom Tree. I also read some of the latest literary fiction and often go back to old favourites such as 19th century novels. Then there are the books I read for my book group. We’re currently into a season of Virago and I’ll be introducing one of my favourites, A Pin to See the Peepshow by F Tennyson Jesse. I read the book years ago and liked it a lot, and found the television series excellent.

What would be the advice you would give to your younger writing self?

I’d tell myself to get rid of the censor in my head and allow the words to flow. I’ve learned from experience that some will be rubbish, some will be reasonable and a few will be nuggets of gold. I’d realise that I need to be disciplined and write as regularly as possible. And finally I’d counsel myself to learn patience – it often takes a long time to get anywhere.

About the book

My latest book published on January 12th is The Buttonmaker’s Daughter. It is set in the summer of 1914 in a country mansion called Summerhayes. Nestled in the Sussex countryside, the Summerhayes estate seems the perfect country idyll, but it faces the threat of a war that looms ever closer. It also faces threats nearer to home. The daughter of the house, Elizabeth, is at odds with a society based on rigid gender and class divisions. She has struggled unsuccessfully to become a professional artist and now is forced to fight against her family’s choice of husband. Her adolescent brother, William, already a disappointment to his father, must confront his true sexuality. And a long-running feud with the Summers’ neighbours, fuelled by money and jealousy, intensifies to breaking point. As the sweltering heat builds to a storm, Elizabeth, her family and household, face danger on all sides. The summer of 1914 will change everything for them, as indeed it did for so many.

Find Merryn here:

Website: www.merrynallingham.com

Facebook: www.tinyurl.com/m322ovu

Twitter: @MerrynWrites

Pinterest:  http://tinyurl.com/jnapbpm

Amazon UK: http://tinyurl.com/zxm9ku4

 

 

 

 

The Tenby Book Fair is moving and Being Renamed…The Narberth Book Fair. Ta dah!!

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Welcome to the first post of the Narberth Book Fair.

Just to let you know that we have decided we have outgrown the Church House in Tenby.  Having searched around for a suitable place we have found the perfect venue. So the Tenby Book Fair will no longer be held in Tenby. In fact it will no longer be the Tenby Book Fair but the Narberth Book Fair. We are quite excited  to be having a new challenge and I’m sure we will be bigger and better… just in a different hall. In a different town.

From now on the Book Fair will be held at the Queens Hall there. Check out their website    https://www.thequeenshall.org.uk/. As you can see it’s a vibrant and busy venue in a bustling little town full of interesting shops, antique places, cafes and restaurants. And there is a large nearby car park. But, sorry… no beach.

The date will be Saturday, the 23rd September. 10.00am to 4.oopm.

I’ve been to a few craft fairs at the Queens Hall with my books and always there is plenty of footfall.

A little information on Narberth; the former capital of Pembrokeshire boasts one of the best high-streets in the county. It’s a gorgeous little market town in the east of Pembrokeshire. Multi coloured Edwardian and Georgian buildings line the high street which has developed quite a reputation as a shopper’s heaven. many of the cafes, pubs and restaurants are award winners..

Transport:  Narberth has a railway station about a mile outside of town. And there are quite a few taxi firms based around and in Narberth. And, I’m sure, one or two of the authors who would be willing to pop there to meet stranded fellow authors 

Accommodation: Check out this website: http://bit.ly/2grbFXY. But I’m sure there are more dotted around

The History of Narberth:

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The town has grown around the walls of its stone castle, but the name is older than the castle. Narberth is derived from ‘Arberth’, the pre-Norman name for the district (or commote). This Celtic heritage is also represented in the myth and legend of the Mabinogion – ancient Welsh folk tales that were written down in the 14th century, originating from an earlier tradition of oral storytelling. Two branches of the Mabinogi in particular are centred on ‘Arberth’, which was reputedly the court of Pwyll, Prince of Dfydd.

So.. we have already had many of our usual authors wanting to take part in our inaugural book fair in Narberth. But we’re always thrilled to welcome new authors. Those interested in taking part please contact me: judithbarrow77@gmail.com 

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Wednesday’s Interview with #Honno authors – today with Jacqueline Jacques

The sixth  of my Wednesday interviews with fellow Honno authors. And today we’re meeting the prolific and entertaining Jacqueline Jacques.

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Quick Introduction:  Who are you? 

  • I am a retired primary school teacher (latterly Special Needs) born on Anglesey in the war and brought up among the bomb ruins and privations of post-war London.  I now live, fat and sleek, surrounded by greenery, on the edge of Epping Forest in Essex.  My life revolves around writing and research, painting, reading, sharing cookery ‘experiments’ (sometimes successful) and gardening with my husband and seeing friends and family for meals, out and in. I love visiting the London Art Galleries, theatre, cinema and concert halls, but a relaxed evening in, playing board games with ex-colleagues or discussing books with other members of the local book club is often just as enjoyable. And you can’t beat a good drama on TV.

 

What first inspired you to start writing?

  • I have always loved stories.  As a small child I was often to be found curled up in a corner – Sally Suck-a-thumb, nose in a book – away with the fairies or, when playing with friends, acting out adventures of my own devising.  All through school, writing stories was what I enjoyed the most. As I grew older, I fantasised about being an actress or a novelist but was persuaded that these were unrealistic dreams, not for the likes of a responsible working class girl who had to earn a living.  So, with a degree in Sociology, I became a primary school teacher, specialising in Art and Clay-work!  Don’t ask!  I wear my ‘ology’ lightly, with equal amounts of guilt and amusement, my signing up for the course having been born of sheer desperation, a means of escape from a hated job in the Civil Service.  As luck would have it, during Freshers’ week I met my lovely husband, Peter. During the next twenty-something years the only writing I did had to do with school reports and curriculum documents.  It wasn’t until my children left home that I was properly able to indulge my life-long desire to write fiction. I swapped my kiln for an Amstrad word processor (not so different, perhaps, given the craft of moulding stories from words) and booked up for evening classes at the local college. After a few short stories my creative writing teacher said, ‘I don’t know what you do now but you must give it up and write.’ So I did.

 

Tell us about your new book.

  • ‘Dangerous Images’ (working title) is a Victorian crime story, the second about police artist, Archie Price, (see ‘The Colours of Corruption’ ) whose strong suit is that he can draw a likeness from a victim’s description (like Photo-fit today).  After being injured in a train disaster Archie finds himself billeted in the same house as his neighbour in Walthamstow: Polly Porter, a photographer.  Archie grows fond of the girl, and together, using their separate skills, they track down a prisoner who escaped from the derailed train and the gang who wrecked it in order to free him.  In helping the police Archie makes discoveries about himself and Polly that cause him to confront long-held prejudices. Music-hall artistes and hypnotists, peers of the realm and gypsies, ‘dirty’ postcards and radio masts all have a part to play in the plot.  Honno will publish the book, probably in November.

The Colours of Corruption

What keeps you writing?

 Curiosity drives me, I suppose.  I’m a people watcher: I need to know how a character is motivated, how they develop and move a story along.

Regarding the Archie Price stories, I am really interested in the Victorian period and am constantly researching to find out what the places I knew as a child would have been like fifty or sixty years earlier. What were the people like − people I imagine my grandmother might have encountered as she was growing up?  How did they manage without electricity, telephones, drugs and detergent, in long dresses and corsets, starched collars and high buttoned boots.  Underneath it all were they really so different from people today?

Into that mix I drop a crime, criminals, some sort of catalyst to upset the equilibrium, and like a social scientist, I like to watch the ensuing developments. What changes?  How do the protagonists react?  Who survives, who grows stronger, who goes under and who makes the best of a bad situation?  Why?  Is there anything to be learned?

Archie Price is a police (forensic) artist, but he also paints on commission.  I know a bit about the process of oil painting, but things were different then. From research I learned that you had to mix your own pigments, stretch your own canvas.  How does Archie decide what to paint and in what style?  Is he influenced by developments on the Continent?

Then, of course, it is interesting to examine the detection practices of those days, before fingerprinting and Photo-fit and sophisticated forensic science.  Policemen were thin on the ground and detectives didn’t all have Sherlock Holmes’ powers of deduction (or induction, even).  Were officers of the law up to the job?  And, given the prejudices of the time, including those against women and immigrants and between the classes, what were the influences for change that one can see today?

Finally, having set myself a puzzle I need to solve it, come to conclusions.  I can’t stop writing until I have tied up all the loose ends and pulled some sort of moral from the story.

Do you have a plan to write or are you constantly jotting down ideas and lines?

  • When I start a chapter I seldom know where it is going.  As I write and the character becomes clearer, as I work out how he would behave in the situation into which I have put him, ideas occur to me and I jot them down.

What do you think it takes to stand out from the crowd?

  • A good author should be trying to show the reader something new and unexpected, to make him or her want to carry on reading to the very last page, and then to want to start again.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

  • To be read, enjoyed and remembered.

What is your favourite book? 

  • Most recently it is ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey.  What a clever book!  A tale told by a really unreliable narrator (with dementia), by an author who juggles past and present so skilfully as to keep the reader glued to the page. Flawless.  Otherwise ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ had me hooked, but over a lifetime of reading good books it is very hard to choose.

What ‘s the least favourite book you’ve read?

  • I generally don’t persevere beyond page 17 of any book that doesn’t grab me on page 1 and haul me in.  But I recently read ‘Equilateral’ to the end, for my book-club, and felt it was time wasted.  What was the point? Or the apex, perhaps?

Do you write one specific genre or are you multi-talented?

  • I have had published a saga based on autobiography, three ‘psychic’/so-called historicals (post World War 2), a contemporary politico-science-fiction novel and, most recently, two Victorian crime stories.  I have two finished psychological crime stories in my ‘bottom drawer’ which I hope to refine and get published.  I don’t think that makes me multi-talented, just a writer.  My dad used to play the piano ‘by ear’. ‘You hum it and I’ll play it,’ he would say.  That’s more or less my attitude to writing.

How do you find the promotional aspect of being an author?

  • Frustrating.  Essentially a shy person I don’t like having to promote myself.  I would rather be writing than selling my book.  But if I don’t, who will?
  • I have a website: jacquelinejacques.co.uk, Facebook and Twitter accounts plus an Author page on Amazon but rarely post on any of these.  I am afraid of blogs, that I may say things that will get me into trouble.  That’s why I’m not telling you any little-known facts about myself …
  • My books, published by Honno Press, are: ‘Lottie’, ‘Skin Deep’, and ‘The Colours of Corruption’.

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Jacqueline’s books are available from Amazon.co.uk:

http://amzn.to/1MFtJWv

http://amzn.to/1MFtA5b

http://amzn.to/1EW1MbC

And from Honno:

http://www.honno.co.uk/dangos.php?ISBN=9781906784539

http://www.honno.co.uk/

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