My Series of Author Interviews #authors Narberth Book Fair. #bookfairs. Today with Katy Whateva

Over the last couple of weeks and through the next month or so, 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 . 

Today it’s the turn of children’s writer, Katy Wateva, sometimes known as Katy Maddison.

 

Wateva 

Please tell us, Katy, why do you write?

To clear out my head, to try make sense of everything.

What do you love most about the writing process?

It helps me understand the world better.

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

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

Nearly every book has influenced me in some way.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

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

I have written around 15 books. One of my favourites is ‘The Wild Boy’.

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

‘The Brattiest Birthday Girl’ is about Joy, and the big tantrum she has when she doesn’t like the gifts she gets on her birthday.

 

whateva

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

It’s ok to have a strop every now and again, we all get over it and can laugh at ourselves in the end.

What is your favourite part of the book?

The first page; “This is Joy” accompanied by a close up of Joy looking anything but.

What was the inspiration behind The Brattiest Birthday Girl?

Last year I got really upset when I didn’t like the presents my boyfriend had got me. The first draft was written an hour later.

How long did it take you to write The Brattiest Birthday Girl?

Five minutes.

 

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Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

Not that I’m aware of.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

In the first draft, my characters used to swear a lot, because I knew no one was going to read them.

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

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

I swear so many amusing things have happened to me but I can’t remember one of them!

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I can’t hear very well.

Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katy.wateva

 

 

My Review of Shadows by Thorne Moore #psychological crime

thorne

I received an ARC of Shadows from the author in return for an honest review. I gave the novel 5* out of  5*

Book Description:

A compelling blend of mystery and family drama with a gothic twist, by the Top Ten bestselling author of A Time for Silence

Kate Lawrence can sense the shadow of violent death, past and present. 

In her struggle to cope with her unwelcome gift, she has frozen people out of her life. 

Her marriage is on the rocks, her career is in chaos and she urgently needs to get a grip. 

So she decides to start again, by joining her effervescent cousin Sylvia and partner Michael in their mission to restore and revitalise Llys y Garn, an old mansion in the wilds of North Pembrokeshire.

It is certainly a new start, as she takes on Sylvia’s grandiose schemes, but it brings Kate to a place that is thick with the shadows of past deaths. 

The house and grounds are full of mysteries that only she can sense, but she is determined to face them down – so determined that she fails to notice that ancient energies are not the only shadows threatening the seemingly idyllic world of Llys y Garn. 

The happy equilibrium is disrupted by the arrival of Sylvia’s sadistic and manipulative son, Christian – but just how dangerous is he? 

Then, once more, Kate senses that a violent death has occurred… 

Set in the majestic and magical Welsh countryside, Shadows is a haunting exploration of the dark side of people and landscape.

My Review:

I have long been a fan of Thorne Moore’s work and, for me, Shadows, yet again, proves what a brilliant tale teller she is.

The author’s ability to create an atmosphere is exceptional. In Shadows the descriptions of the rooms and spaces within  Llys y Garn provide an eerie, dark presence and a vaguely distant, though dangerous, affluence in its history. It’s a great  background for the novel. In contrast the narratives portraying the surrounding Welsh countryside underline the myths, the legends of the land, the beauty of the settings, to give a wonderful sense of place.

 The characters are excellent; believable and rounded they instil either empathy, dislike, or exasperation. I loved the protagonist, Kate, and found myself willing her to make the right choices; to stay safe. In contrast, the character of her ex-husband and even sometimes, the lovable cousin, Sylvia, frustrated me. And I despised the “sadistic and manipulative son, Christian” (even though I hadn’t read the book blurb at the time) – I suppose that’s a sign of as well portrayed, multi layered character. And there is one character who was a great disappointment for me… saying no more here

The book description gives a good outline of this steadily-paced plot; what it doesn’t say, obviously, is how the reader is drawn into the story from the onset and then, piece by piece, caught up in the twists and turns of the narrative.

This is  is a book I recommend, without hesitation.

 

Praise for Thorne Moore

‘Thorne Moore is a huge talent. Her writing is intensely unsettling and memorable.’ – Sally Spedding

Thorne Moore

Thorne Moore was born in Luton and graduated from Aberystwyth University and the Open University. She set up a restaurant with her sister but now spends her time writing and making miniature furniture for collectors. She lives in Pembrokeshire, which forms a background for much of her writing, as does Luton. She writes psychological mysteries, or “domestic noir,” including A Time For SilenceMotherlove and The Unravelling.

Links to Thorne:

 Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads
Amazon

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Madalyn Morgan #MondayBlogs

Over the last few months I’ve been 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 agreed to meet here with me.  I thought I’d completed these last week but I’m delighted that Madalyn Morgan has decided to join us here today and she will definitely  be the last in this series before I move on to introducing the authors who will be at the Narberth Book Fair that Thorne Moore and I organise http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/-.  I have read Madalyn’s novels and whole heartily recommend them.

 

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Hi Madalyn, glad to see you here at last

Hi Judith. Thank you for inviting me to talk about The Dudley Sisters Saga.

Tell us, what made you decide to write in your genre?

I am fascinated by the achievements of women in the first half of the Twentieth Century, in particular women who worked and served in WW1 and WW2. Also, my mother used to tell me about her life in the Second World War; the work she did, the dances she went to, and the letters she wrote to servicemen overseas. (She had a Polish penfriend named Vanda, which is my middle name.) My mum’s life was interesting, so when I did a writing course, and it came to the Biography module, I wrote about her. The tutor liked the work but said, as mum and I were both unknown, I should turn it into a fiction. At that time, Mum wanted to give back a brass aeroplane; a Wellington Bomber that was made for her by a Polish airman in 1940. He had died, but I found his son, and he was delighted with the plane. It was then that that I decided to set my novels in WW2. I had so many ideas; too many for one book, so I plotted four: Four sisters, four wartime careers, and four loves. I still have Mum’s biography. Her wartime experiences are only part of it. Her life as Landlady of a big pub from 1955 to 1983 is very interesting. It was occasionally dangerous too. One day I shall turn it into a fiction.

What other authors of your genre are you connected/friends with, and do they help you become a better writer in any way?

Funny you should ask, Judith. I do have several author friends who write in the genre – and one of them is you. I loved Pattern of Shadows, which I have in paperback. Changing Patterns is on my Kindle, ready to read during my writing break.

Well, thank you, Madalyn. You’re very kind. Tell us, do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

It’s possible, but I couldn’t. My emotions are on the surface all the time. It’s why I was a method actress. I believed in the characters I played. If I go to the theatre to see a play and I don’t enjoy it, it’s usually because one or more of the actors are acting, not reacting. It’s the same with books. If characters aren’t real, don’t communicate, I don’t enjoy the book. Anyone can put words on a page, but bringing them to life through a character, that’s what is important.

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

Original, I think. I’ve never consciously tried to deliver. I couldn’t contrive an ending, for instance, that would be a lie. I’m lucky that my readers like what I write.

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

I don’t think I make demands on my readers. I make huge demands on myself. I care deeply for my characters and I have great respect for my readers.

Do you want each book to stand-alone or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Both. The Saga is a collection of five novels, but each book does stand-alone. The first four books are the stories of four very different sisters; their lives, work and loves during World War 2. The sisters are together in the first novel, Foxden Acres, which is the oldest sister, Bess’s story. It’s in Foxden Acres that their futures are decided. Each story stands alone, but is interwoven with the other stories. When the sisters are at Foxden – for Christmas, a birthday or a wedding – they have to be at Foxden in their own stories. The same for events in the war – the bombing of Coventry, Battle of Britain, D-Day, etc. Everyone is affected in Foxden Acres, as they are in their own stories.

To ensure someone wasn’t enjoying Christmas in one book and overseas in another, I kept a day diary. Every time something significant happened in Foxden Acres I made a note of it, leaving four blank pages – one for each of the other books, and one for luck. I couldn’t have kept control of who was doing what, when and where, without the diary.

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

Two plotted novels and a memoir. One novel to be developed from my mother’s biography, and a contemporary novel about a relationship between a young man and an older woman. He treats her badly, but he isn’t very bright. In the novel he gets his comeuppance!  The memoir is about the time I lived on a reservation in Granite Falls, Minnesota, with Native Americans. In 1961, aged eleven, I was adopted into the Dakota Sioux tribe. One day I shall write about that amazing time in my life, and my wonderful Native American family.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

The most difficult thing for me is getting into the head of a man without being biased, or influenced by my own experiences. I to use what I know about men – the good and the bad – to give substance to my male characters. I do with my male characters what I do with my females – I try to walk in their shoes.

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

For the first four novels in The Dudley Sisters’ Saga, I needed to know everything about WW2 – from the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 to Germany’s surrender in May 1945, ending the war in Europe.

Foxden Acres

Research for my first novel took more than a year. Foxden Acres needed intensive research on, teaching, evacuation, the Land Army, farms, billets, and the Commonwealth Aerodromes near Foxden – Bitteswell and Bruntingthorpe. Also the RAF, Wellington Bombers – and the Polish airmen who escaped Poland and came to England to fly with the RAF, because they feature in the first novel. Foxden is near Coventry, so I needed to research the bombing of the city in November 1940.

 

Applause

The second novel, Applause, was easier. I set it in one of the London theatres where I had worked as an actress in the 1980s. I still had to research the Luftwaffe’s blitzing of the East End, ENSA, the shows and songs of the time, fascists, Nazi sympathisers, GIs, and how Jewish Londoners were treated. But because I knew the West End, and had already done extensive research for Foxden Acres, research for Applause only took three months.

 

China Blue

China Blue, the third book, set in England and France needed a huge amount of research. I was used to the process, but with this book it was also necessary to research as the story developed. What I knew about the Special Operations Executive, you could have written on the back of a postage stamp. So I researched the SOE and the training: Parachuting out of aeroplanes, surviving interrogation, living in occupied France, working with the French Resistance, sabotage, and the roads, rivers, and  bridges that were held by the Germans. Although I made up the town of Gisoir, I needed to be familiar with parts of Paris. Thank goodness for Google-walk. China Blue was the most difficult of the four books to research and write. It was also the most exciting.

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The 8:45 To Bletchley needed less research, again about 3 months. It begins on the night Coventry was bombed, November 1940, which I’d already researched. I needed to know about some of the work they did at Bletchley, but the facility was top secret, so if it didn’t directly affect Ena, I didn’t need to know about it. I researched engineering factories, MI5, poisons that put you to sleep but didn’t kill you, and I read some great biographies about spies.

Setting novels in such a well documented time as WWII means you have to get your facts right. Thank goodness for Google and Amazon. When I wrote Foxden Acres my research was done by reading books, now it’s a 50-50 mix.

What do you think most characterises your writing?

I’d like to think it is strong believable characters and interesting plots. To me the characters are real people. I put myself in their minds and walk in their shoes, as far as possible, because doing that gives the characters life.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I don’t select names. They come with the characters.

What was your hardest scene to write?

A rape scene.

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

Alcohol. I love a glass of red wine with my dinner, but if I’m writing after I’ve eaten, I don’t drink. I didn’t drink before going on stage either. Afterwards is another story.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Writing energises me. Proof reading exhausts me.

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

Stop doubting yourself. Have faith you can do it, and you’ll do it.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

My Muse is a grey haired old lady sitting at a typewriter. In my head she’s saying, “Get on with it, dear? Writer’s block, dear? Not me dear!”

Muse with typwriter

Love her!!

Okay, now tell us, what was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Buying my first computer. Before that I tapped out my work on an old typewriter. Spelling is not my strong suit. I got through a lot of Tipex.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I’d expect I’d still be acting. There’s very little work for actresses of my age, so I’d probably be doing temp jobs to pay my mortgage. Perish the thought.

Have you ever had writer’s block?

Yes. When three close friends/relatives died within three months of each other, I was devastated and couldn’t write a shopping list. I honestly wondered if I’d ever write again.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Gone To Earth by Mary Webb.

What do you think is the best way to market your books?

Twitter. I create posters and add captions and book links to advertise my books. As an Indie Author it’s important to Tweet, and to Re-Tweet other authors. This poster for China Blue is one of my favourites.

 

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

Yes, I read reviews. I thank the person, share to my author page on Facebook and Tweet them. I’ve been lucky. I’ve only two bad reviews, both for my first novel, Foxden Acres. One said, ‘Reading FA was like pulling teeth, I didn’t get beyond the second page.’ I can’t remember the other one.

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

I had tea with Heather Craven, the owner of Misterton Hall, which, in my first novel Foxden Acres is Foxden Hall, and in my last novel is the Foxden Hotel. I found several things interesting. When I was a Saturday girl in a hairdressing salon in 1965, I used to wash Mrs Craven’s hair. Another thing, in Foxden Acres I describe the grounds, the lake, the steps leading from the French windows to the tailored lawn where there had once been peacocks – and when I went there to take a photograph of the hall for Foxden Hotel’s book cover, it was almost as I had described it. But the most wonderful thing was, my grandfather, who I never met, was the head groom at Misterton Hall between WW1 and WW2. Heather showed me the stables where he had worked. It was very moving.

When I was writing The 9:45 To Bletchley, I visited Bletchley Park. While I was there, I met a lady who, as a child, had lived in the cottage next door to Dilly Knox’s codebreaking ladies. She took me under her wing. I felt very privileged.

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

Thank you, Judith, I’d love to. I’ve just finished proofreading the digital copy of Foxden Hotel, the 5th novel in The Dudley Sisters Saga. It’s now ready for publication – Kindle and paperback – on June 10.

Foxden Hotel opens on New Year’s Eve, 1948 – ten years after the first book in the saga, Foxden Acres, which began on New Year’s Eve, 1938.

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                                      The war is over. It is time for new beginnings.

Celebrating the opening of Foxden Hotel, New Year’s Eve 1948, an enemy from the war years turns up. He threatens to expose a secret that will ruin Bess’s happiness and the new life she has worked so hard to create. Bess’s husband throws the man out. So is that the last they see of him? Or will he show up again when they least expect?

Bess had hoped fascism was a thing of the past, buried with the victims of WW2. Little does she know the trouble that lies ahead, not only for herself, but also for her family.

Oh, do love the sound of that.  Well, Madalyn, all I can say is thank you for rounding off this series. I’ve been fascinated by your answers today. Good luck with Foxden Hotel, I hope it flies off the shelves.

Please give us all your links.

Glad to. My novels:

Foxden Acres: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BCX59LE/

Applause: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00J7Y5LCW/

China Blue: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00XD85NQW/

The 9:45 To Bletchley: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GEVW3Z8/

Foxden Hotel: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071LDYD2D/

 

Writing Blog: http://madalynmorgan.blogspot.co.uk/

Fiction Blog: http://madalynmorgansfiction.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/madalyn.morgan1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ActScribblerDJ

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Rosie Goodwin #MondayBlogs

Over the last few months I’ve been 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 agreed to meet here with me.  Rosie Goodwin is the last (and posted a little later than I anticipated) but is certainly not the least.  I’m sure you’ll  find her as fascinating as I do. her novels will definitely have your TBR list of books toppling over!!

 

rosie head shot

Welcome, Rosie, good to see you here today.

It’s good to be here, Judith.

Please tell us, first, where did your love of books/storytelling/writing etc. come from?

I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t love reading and writing. Even as a child I always had my head buried in a book or I was scribbling a story.

Dilly's Sacrifice (Dilly's Story Book 1) by [Goodwin, Rosie]The Ribbon Weaver: A young girl's sparkling future is thwarted by a devastating secret by [Goodwin, Rosie]The Maid's Courage by [Goodwin, Rosie]

How long have you been writing?

Again, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I was always top of the class or close to the top in English at school although I was dismal at maths. However, I wrote purely for pleasure back then, I’ve only been published for almost thirteen years. My first novel, THE BAD APPLE was published in June 2004 and it’s been hectic ever since.  I have just finished writing my 31st book.

The Bad Apple: A powerful saga of surviving and loving against the odds by [Goodwin, Rosie]

What kind of writing do you do?

I write saga’s mainly although I have also written quite a few contemporary novels as well as a ghost story and a murder. I love sagas, they are a mix of everything.

What did you most enjoy about writing these books?

I love the whole thing, developing and bringing the characters to life, the plot, all of it whether they be contemporary or historic.

 

A Band of Steel: A family threatened by war but destroyed by love... by [Goodwin, Rosie]

 

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

I write two books a year which is full time. It’s very different to when I used to write purely for pleasure as I’m now governed by deadlines. Thankfully I still love what I do so it isn’t a problem.

What are some of the day jobs that you have held? How does that affect your writing?

Until just over a year ago I was also a full-time foster mum and during that time I cared for dozens and dozens of children. I also worked for Social Services as a Placement Support Worker and an NVQ Level Three Assessor. I think this gave me a very good insight for when I wrote my contemporary novels.

Crying Shame: A mother and daughter struggle with their pasts by [Goodwin, Rosie]

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m currently working on a seven book days of the week series, beginning with MOTHERING SUNDAY, which was released last week, and I’m delighted to say it went straight to number 7 in the Sunday Times bestsellers and this week is number 2. I’ve already also finished Monday’s child, which will be out in November and is called THE LITTLE ANGEL and Tuesday’s child, title to be decided.

Mothering Sunday: The most heart-rending saga you'll read this year (Days of the Week) by [Goodwin, Rosie]

What does your typical day look like?

I don’t have any set pattern but I do have a large house, five dogs and quite a large garden so I am never bored. The family are used to me disappearing off to the study at any time but I most enjoy writing in the evening when all the jobs are done and I can lock myself away in the study without interruptions. I also find it much easier to write in the winter when there’s no chance of me escaping out into the garden, but whatever time of the year it is I write every day.

 

Yesterday's Shadows: A gripping saga of new beginnings and new dangers by [Goodwin, Rosie]

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

It comes across very strongly in my reviews that my readers like the fact that I try to write about believable characters, i.e. they don’t all have to be beautiful and perfect. I like to write about people you might pass in the street, real people with flaws. I also love twists and turns in the story and my fans appear to as well. I’ve been in the top fifty library authors for some years now so hopefully I’m getting something right!

My Review of Write Your Way Out Of Depression: Practical Self-Therapy For Creative Writers by Rayne Hall and Alexander Draghici

 

depression

The Blurb:

Use your writing talent and your skill with words heal yourself. Author Rayne Hall and psychologist Alexander Draghici show fourteen practical strategies for self-therapy.

Do you feel like you’re trapped in a dark hole of morass, sinking deeper and deeper, the mud rising to your hips, your chest, your throat? Is despair smothering you like a heavy blanket? Is your own life moving past you like a train, and you are forced to watch and cannot board? Has crippling lethargy wrapped its tentacles around you so tightly that you cannot move, sucking from you all energy and the will to live?

If you want to get better, to feel alive again, if you want to step out of this darkness and take control of your recovery, this book can help.

 My Review:

This has been a difficult year for both me and my family and, as someone who sometimes sufferes from ‘crippling lethargy’ because of depression, I was hopeful when I was approached to read and write an honest review of Write Your Way Out Of Depression….

This is an interesting and helpful book. I wouldn’t have expected anything else from Rayne Hall; as an author and a creative writing tutor I have bought quite a few of her very helpful ‘How To’ writing books.

In Write Your Way Out Of Depression Rayne’s methods are backed by psychologist Alexander Draghici whose input is to support  her theory of dealing and coping with depression through various writing strategies, and to let the reader know how these may help. The techniquues are simply described, easy to understand, approaches to taking control of those dark thoughts and moods.

 The co-authors also highlight the risks of excessive brooding and self-analysis. The emphasis is on practical ways to write our way through depression…and hopefully out the other side. No guarantees, unlike so many ‘cure-all’ approaches; just down-to-earth techniques that I could follow, with the added bonus that it could also help my own writing.

The layout of the book is simple to follow; there is a chapter for each technique, which is divided into three; the what I call the exercise (rather than the technique), Rayne’s understanding and knowledge of each (as a sufferer herself of depression, they have, at various times, helped her) and, finally, Alexander’s expert opinion and advice.  I found both of these last sections as interesting and perceptive as the techniques themselves.  Each co-author has had their own mental issues to deal with in one way or another;  as I’ve mentioned Rayne’s experiences and Alexander’s battle with anxiety attacks in his youth.

I cannot give this book higher praise than to urge anyone who is suffering from depression and feels they would like to try writing as a way to ‘step out of this darkness and take control of your recovery…’  to buy  Write Your Way Out Of Depression: Practical Self-Therapy For Creative Writers  I did. It worked for me. It could work for you.

 Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk:  http://amzn.to/2fEuEj5

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2glvCQH

You Only Have to Ask

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I was brought up with two schools of thought around the premise of needing help. My mother always told me, you only have to ask, whereas my grandmother, Nan, always maintained you shouldn’t ask. But she expected people to know when she needed help. And took great umbrage when it wasn’t offered. She was a strong presences in our lives. It was a minefield. Consequently I was a very confused kid; dithering about what to do when things were wrong, when I needed something sorted out. I knew what Mum said. But I also knew what a hard life she had as well: working full time, long hours, as a winder in a cotton mill, a demanding husband, a difficult mother. She always looked harassed – she didn’t ask for help. So, I didn’t. I sorted things out for myself. After all, would throwing myself around in a dramatic fashion, prostrating myself, horizontal with grief, when bad stuff happened, have helped? probably not. But there were times when I should have asked.

Like the times I was in trouble at school (this happened a lot; I was both a chatterer and a giggler).  And once, sin of all sins in that school, I lost a library book. We had the most awful head teacher, Mr Clayton, who delighted in the Friday ‘line-up when the week’s miscreants were made to stand in front of the top class while he listed our crimes and were laughed at by the superior eleven year olds. There was one poor boy who always seemed to be there at the same time as me; Peter Woodhead.. Mr Clayton would rap him on the head with his knuckles, declaring “ Woodhead by name and woodhead by nature.(Not a nice man – I killed him off in a story years ago). I didn’t mention my losing the book at home; it took quite a few weeks’ pocket money to pay for it.

I digress – and ramble. To continue with my tales of woes; I  should have asked for help from my parents when the swimming teacher insisted I go in a race at a local gala when I knew I couldn’t even swim a length (now that’s another whole different story of humiliation and near drowning!).

I should have asked someone to help when I was upset when Mum and Dad quarrelled, which they did frequently? From whom though? Nan? Not really, she loved a good row.

Worse still, I seemed to spend my time watching those around me – my family – to see if anything was the matter, if anyone was expecting me to pick up on ‘things gone wrong’. Over the years I became a dab hand at it – ready to jump in with a quick solution, a helping hand (even when it wasn’t needed or wanted!)

Don’t get me wrong here, these were the ‘bad’ times that stuck in my head. Even though i remember a a thousand and one other trivial anxieties when I could have asked for help  and didn’t, I also remember the long days and summer months of freedom, when, together with our dog, we were allowed out to wander and play all day in the surrounding filed and playgrounds, with a jam butty and a bottle of Dandelion & Burdock.

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Stick with me, there is a point to all this stuff.

Then I was married and had a family – husband and children asked when they needed help. And I realised I didn’t need to be on ‘full alert’ all the time. I learned to judge when I could stand back, when I should offer.

Which brings me to the reason I’m writing this – something all writers must battle with when connecting with other authors. Supporting one another in our writing world.

A few weeks ago I received an email. This from someone I was friends with in the real world. The gist was that she was disappointed in me:  as an established author (yes, that’s me – not J K Rowland, not Pat Barker, not Sarah Waters…. me, the author of three books (fourth on its way in July  – little plug there!) and contributor of a few anthologies). I  hadn’t helped, supported her, a ‘newbie’, when her first book was published. I hadn’t offered to promote it, I hadn’t given her any tips on self promotion, I hadn’t bought it, read it, reviewed it. In other words, her email was a rant. I didn’t know how to respond; there’d been a good reason I’d missed the book coming out; other things were going on at the time. Then I completely reverted to type – and apologised – and asked what I could do to help. To be met with a stony silence   It was only when a couple of close friends told me not to be so stupid  that I stopped offering. My ‘friend’ has ‘unfriended me’ in more ways than one!

This is not a rant.  And  I’m not looking for sympathy here. This rambling epic is a roundabout way of asking how much and in what way should writers support one another? And how they ask for help when needed? And, strangely enough  as I wrote this post I read a blog by https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/ who, in turn was reposting the hilarious tongue in cheek blog of http://nicholasrossis.me/2015/04/28/measuring-time/

So, all in all, I suppose what I am I’m saying is, when we want or need help in this complex and seething mass of indecision  and anxieties that is our writing world, we should ask… we may or may not be given the answer we’d like from one (busy and time stretched writer) but there are plenty more authors/ bloggers around who might just have a spare couple of minutes. Or an hour. Or a week.

What say you?