Tenby Arts Festival 2016: Day One: Saturday 24th

 Events

Events to be held at the 2016 Tenby Book Fair, 24th September

Revised
Some talks, readings, Q&A sessions will be held in an adjoining room at the fair. Numbers will be limited, so it is advisable to reserve a place in advance. There is no charge.
  1. 11:00    Cambria Publishing Co-operative will be giving a talk and taking questions about the services and assistance they offer to independent authors.
  2. 11:30    Poet Kathy Miles will be giving a reading of some of her work.
  3. 12:00    Firefly Press will be talking about publishing children’s books and what they look for in submissions.
  4. 12:30    Prizes for the short story competitions will be presented in the main hall – no booking necessary.
  5. 1:30      Colin Parsons, children’s writer, talks about his popular work
  6. 2:00      Honno Welsh Women’s Press will be talking about their work, publishing contemporary novelists, anthologies and classics, and discussing what they look for in submissions.
  7. 2:30      Matt Johnson, thriller writer and ex-policeman, talks about his work and experiences.
  8. 2:55      Main hall (no booking required): raffle prizes.

 

 

c392a-tenby2bheaderTenby Book Fair is approaching 24th September (this next Saturday!) and there are six events you can attend.
All three publishers will be giving talks and taking questions —

Honno, which has been publishing Welsh women, classics and contemporary, for thirty years (Happy birthday Honno!)

Firefly, founded in 2013, and already winning prizes, is the only publisher in Wales devoted to children and young adults

Cambria Publishing Co-operative provides all manner of help – editing, graphic design, printing etc – for indie authors.

There will also be talks by three authors.
Colin R Parsons writes very popular fantasy and science fiction for young people and has given many talks and presentations at schools.

Kathy Miles is a prize-winning poet who will be reading some of her work.

Matt Johnson, ex-soldier and police officer, will be talking about how he came to write his thriller, Wicked Game.

Places are limited, so if you would like to reserve a place at any of these talks, email judithbarrow77@gmail.com

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Here’s our line up:

Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh  Matt Johnson:http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles: http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Graham Watkins: http://bit.ly/2aEgwRv , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons:http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G , Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  ,Alex Martin: http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl , Sharon Tregenza:http://bit.ly/29frGPq    Juliet Greenwood:http://bit.ly/29jylrM , Nigel Williams:http://bit.ly/29racfO , Julie McGowan:http://bit.ly/29CHNa9 , John Nicholl:http://bit.ly/29NtdtX  ,Tony Riches:  http://bit.ly/29y3a8k:  ,Wendy White: http://bit.ly/29TMCpY  ,Angela Fish:http://bit.ly/2a5qY2U  David Thorpe:http://bit.ly/2a9uG0V , Eloise Williams:http://bit.ly/2aoZk1k , Phil Carradice: http://bit.ly/2aYINV5 , Jo Hammond:http://bit.ly/2b7nMqf, Sarah Jane Butfield: http://bit.ly/2cKQ3Xs   and Sharon Jones: http://bit.ly/2bhZ9sa .And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq 

 

Together with:

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showboat

Tenby Arts Festival 2016: Day Four Tuesday 27th September.

Tenby Arts Festival 2016: Day Three: Monday 26th September.

Tenby Arts Festival 2016: Day Two: Sunday 25th September.

Tenby Arts Festival 2016: Day One: Saturday 24th

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Brass Ensemble

To announce the opening of the festival with a swing, a brass ensemble will perform a medley of popular musical numbers.

Outside St Mary’s Church
High Street

11am

Free


 

Book Fair                               11998866_10152946036952132_7601875809175322308_n

For the fifth year running the Book Fair is the popular opening event in Church House for the Tenby Arts Festival. We will have twenty-eight authors and two publishers for all to chat with, who are either Welsh based or have set their books in Wal12049533_502977976546241_4653897117982364739_nes. There will be three competitions this time: an adults short story competition, one for teenagers and one for children. Details to be announced separately in May through the media.
Talks, books, relaxing music, refreshments; a morning of friendly chatter and discussion – a great morning for all.

Here is what a visitor said of last year’s fair (see picture):

“This weekend I’ve attended the Book Fair at the Tenby Arts Festival. Having seen the busy London Book Fair last year and on the other end of the spectrum some deserted halls with only two tables and four attendees elsewhere, I was pleasantly surprised to find a good vibe and a great buzz in a busy hall with lots of mingling and literary delights.”

Church House
11am – 3pm

Free


 

Sand Circles

Marc Treanor

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The essence of all you see, only exists because of a very profound order of certain repeating mathematical formulas that create the foundation of all matter, from atoms to galaxies. Sacred Geometry is the ancient science that explores and explains the energy patterns that create and unify all things, and reveals the precise way that the energy of Creation organises itself. On every scale, every natural pattern of growth or movement conforms inevitably to one or more of these geometric shapes. The strands of our DNA, the cornea of our eye, snow flakes, pine cones, flower petals, diamond crystals, the branching of trees, the path of lightning, a nautilus shell, the star we spin around, the galaxy we spiral within, and all life forms as we know them emerge out of timeless geometric codes. Sacred Geometry may very well provide the answers that you have been looking for.  (http://www.maya48.com/)

The patterns Marc creates on the beaches are all inspired by sacred geometry. The idea of ‘sacredness’ transpires from the  realisation that these patterns appear everywhere from the very small, the quantum field or the microcosm, to the very large, the cosmic realms or the macrocosm.

North Beach

Free

 

Jack Harris                          Jack Harris

Jack Harris writes and performs literate, compassionate songs, about subjects as disparate as Caribbean drinking festivals, the colour of a potato flower and the lives of great poets like Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Bishop.
These have won him considerable acclaim. The Telegraph voted his album ‘The Flame and the Pelican’ #5 in their top 10 Roots/Folk albums of 2012. Q magazine praised his ‘unique lyrical mind’, and Maverick UK awarded the record its full 10/10 rating.
Jack is happiest when playing live. He has brought his music to a loyal, ever-growing audience, at festivals, venues and skating rinks across the world. On occasion he has opened for some of Folk’s biggest names, including Anais Mitchell, Cara Dillon and Dick Gaughan. His live show is a riveting mix of song craft and theatrical story-telling, delivered with warm voice, dry humour and nimble, string-picking fingers. Come on out and see.

Church House
8.00pm

£10

 


 

Cantemus

The Messiah

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Under the baton of Welsh National Opera chorus master, Alexander Martin, singers from all over Pembrokeshire and beyond, choir members or not will rehearse and perform Handel’s Messiah  in the beautiful surroundings of St Mary’s Church.

Born in London, Alexander Martin studied Music at St John’s College, Cambridge, and the piano at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1992 he was appointed répétiteur at the Opéra National de Lyon in France under Kent Nagano. From 1995 to 1998 Alexander spent four seasons in Germany as répétiteur at the Opera, and répétiteur and conductor at the Hesse State Opera in Wiesbaden, before returning to live in France to pursue a freelance career. He has worked as guest conductor, assistant and coach for Lyon, Marseille, Avignon, le Capitole Toulouse, l’Opéra National du Rhin (Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia), La Monnaie, le Grand Théâtre Geneva, as well as for Aix-en-Provence, Glyndebourne, and Montepulciano Festivals. Alexander also worked closely with Philippe Jordan Britten’s Peter Grimes and The Turn of the Screw (Graz), and collaborated with René Jacobs in Rome for Tancredi. Following three seasons as Chorus Master in Bern (where he also conducted Cendrillon and Dave Maric’s Ghosts), Alexander worked as Chorus Master at the Opéra National de Bordeaux from 2010-2014. During this time he also worked in Bayreuth with Philippe Jordan on Parsifal (2012). He became Chorus Master at WNO at the start of this season.

The choir will be accompanied by Jeff Howard, organist.

Jeffrey Howard was born in Cardiff and studied at the University of Wales College, Cardiff, and the Royal Academy of Music, specializing in organ performance and church music. Since graduating, he has pursued a freelance career as organist, pianist, singer, coach and conductor. He has accompanied leading international singers including Bryn Terfel, Sir Willard White, and, Rebecca Evans.

Jeff has performed throughout the United Kingdom and Europe including the Wigmore Hall, The Goethe Institute, Brussels, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, and has worked with orchestras such as The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Royal Philharmonic. He made his Royal Albert Hall debut in 2002 as soloist in Shostakovitch’s second piano concerto. Recent performance include performed Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto and Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto at St. David’s Hall, Cardiff with the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra and a recital with Bryn Terfel at Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool.

Jeff frequently provides arrangements for the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, S4C and various solo artists. He is accompanist, singer and arranger for Only Men Aloud!, winners of the BBC competition ‘Last Choir Standing’ who recently won a Classical Brit Award for their second album on the Universal label. Jeff is also involved in cabaret and music theatre having worked with names such as Michael Ball, David Owen Jones, Peter Karrie, and more informally, Dame Shirley Bassey!

For the past 18 years, Jeffrey has held a post as vocal coach at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and at Welsh National Opera and Welsh National Youth Opera.

For those wishing to join the choir there will be rehearsal before the performance during the day. There will be a charge of £10 for those taking part and in addition a refundable deposit for copies of the music/text.

St. Mary’s Church

Rehearsals will be at 3pm – 5.30pm
Performance 6.30pm – 8pm

Tickets £8 


 

 


 

Enquiries to: tenbyartsfestival@yahoo.co.uk

 Mutterings by author, Thorne Moorethorne header

This is a post copied and posted from  Thorne Moores’s website.

Fair Play – why book fairs?

 

I’ll be taking part in a small flurry of book fairs soon: The Rhondda, on September 3rd, Tenby  (which I am helping to organise) on September 24th, and Carmarthen on October 1st.

  
Tenby Book Fair 2015
 

To stand at a stall, offering my wares, might seem a very Mediaeval way of going about things in the days of internet ordering and e-books. Besides, what are bookshops for, if not to provide any book that anyone is looking for? Literary festivals like Hay, with big names addressing crowds of fans are all very well, but why bother with book fairs?

The reason is that for most of us authors, such events are the only occasions when we get to meet our readers in the flesh, to discuss our work and hear their opinion. We write for ourselves, mostly, and perhaps to please a publisher or agent, but ultimately, since we choose to be published, rather than storing our work in notebooks under our bed, we write for “the reader” out there, who will devour our polished words. It becomes a somewhat surreal situation if our readers never materialise in the flesh. We need the contact to keep it real.

A fair also allows us to meet our fellow authors, in an atmosphere where everything is all about books, and sometimes it’s very healthy to escape the private isolation of writing and remind ourselves that we are not alone. There are other people as obsessed with writing as us.

For indie authors, who self-publish, and who want to rely on more than Kindle sales on Amazon, fairs can be almost the only way to put their printed books out there, for people to see. Many bookshops simply don’t stock independent authors. An ISBN number is not enough to get you on the “List.” And for us conventionally published authors, there is no guarantee that bookshops, even their local bookshops, will pay them any attention whatsoever. If you are lucky, you might find a copy of your book, buried in a dark corner, out of sequence, while the front displays concentrate on the highly promoted big names. If you are in the hands of one of the mega-publishing houses, which sees you as a potential block-buster in WH Smiths or on airport concourses, then they might send you off on tour round the country or the world, to meet your readers. They might flaunt your book cover on billboards for you. 99% of authors don’t get that treatment, so we have to put ourselves out there.

And that’s what book fairs are for. So do come. We’re a rare breed and well worth gawping at.

Under Slag Tips: A Collection of Short Stories by Wybert Bendall

 

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The Blurb:

Stories of the colourful characters that surrounded me while growing up in Aberfan; a mining village in a South Wales Valley. A social history of a time when the only vehicles in the street were horse drawn carts. Stories filled with affection and humour. For each download £1.00 will be donated to Cancer Research.

My Review:

I have to admit right away that I personally know this author and that I have read many of his stories in the past. And have also enjoyed listening to him read them.

 This is poetic prose at its best, I think. Filled with extraordinary characters living lives we can now only imagine, evocative descriptions and a great sense of place, each story stands alone. Yet  they are connected by the village of  Aberfan, where the author grew up. Set at a time when coal mining was as strong in the Valleys as the people who lived there, each of these tales bring many emotions with them.

 The cover, a black and white photograph, is a true depiction of the place and time, says it all; from the terraced houses to the enormous coal slag heaps looming over Aberfan. A poignant image, bearing in mind  the tragedy that happens to this village decades later 

 But these stories give no hint of that. These are stories of great humour, poignancy and the joy of childhood freedom,  long since lost to the children of today.

I particularly liked the story that carries the title of the anthology, Under Slag Tips. Written somewhat in the style of Dylan Thomas but (I need to whisper here…) much more enjoyable to read, each phrase evokes an image. Whether of a character, a scene, an event or just a stroll through the streets and countryside, the reader is carried along with the author.

And, a nice surprise, there are even a couple of narrative poems.

This book is for anyone who likes rich imaginative prose transported into wonderful vignettes. Or is curious about the history of  past life in the Welsh Valleys. Or just enjoys short stories.

It’s a shame that the formatting between the stories needs attention but this didn’t detract too much from my reading.In the end, for me, it’s the contents, the wealth of detail and the pure pleassure of rolling a lot of the phrases over and over in my mind.

I thoroughly recommend this collection of tales.

And, as it says in the Blurb, for each sale, a £1 will go to Cancer Research. 

I reviewed this book on Amazon as part of #AugustReviews

Buy Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://bit.ly/2bbnJqZ

Today With Sarah Jane Butfield

 

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So… here we are; the last of the interviews with our authors, all twenty-seven of them and all will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl 

There are many genres and many books to browse over. And twenty-seven authors to chat to about their writing. The winners of the three writing competitions will be announced on the day and the prizes given.

 And just a word of thanks here to the three publisher who will be donating the prizes:

 http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/  A collection of  their books for the Children’s competition.   Cambria Publishing Co-operative  is sponsoring the YA Flash Fiction prizes and  http://honno.co.uk/  also a collection of their books for the Adult Short Story Cpompetition 

In the next week or so I’ll be showcasing all three publishers who will be also giving short talks at the Book Fair: http://honno.co.uk/, http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/ and http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/

And I’ll be sharing a post from the brilliant http://showboat.tv/ Who always video and share our Tenby Book Fair.

Please feel free to check out all our authors and their great books. 

Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh  Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles: http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Graham Watkins: http://bit.ly/2aEgwRv , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons:http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G , Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  ,Alex Martin: http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl , Sharon Tregenza:http://bit.ly/29frGPq    Juliet Greenwood:http://bit.ly/29jylrM , Nigel Williams:http://bit.ly/29racfO , Julie McGowan:http://bit.ly/29CHNa9 , John Nicholl:http://bit.ly/29NtdtX  ,Tony Riches:  http://bit.ly/29y3a8k:  ,Wendy White: http://bit.ly/29TMCpY  ,Angela Fish:http://bit.ly/2a5qY2U  David Thorpe:http://bit.ly/2a9uG0V , Eloise William:http://bit.ly/2aoZk1k , Phil Carradice: http://bit.ly/2aYINV5 , Jo Haammond:http://bit.ly/2b7nMqf  and Sharon Jones: http://bit.ly/2bhZ9sa .And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq 

There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

So now let’s meet our author of today.Sarah Jane Butfield. Sarah Jane was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, UK. She is a wife, mother, retired Registered General Nurse and an international best-selling author of Travel, Nursing and Culinary memoirs. She has also written a series of self-help guides for new authors based on her experiences to date and inspires and mentors new authors in her role as CEO at Rukia Publishing. 

 

sarah jane profile

 

Welcome,Sarah Jane, great to have you here today; last but not least!

And I’m pleased to finally arrive, Judith

So tell us, please,how long have you been writing?

It feels like I have been writing my whole life, but the reality is that I started writing in 2013. I think that is because the majority of the content of my books so far have been about my life and my experiences I am constantly reminiscing which completely takes over my thoughts.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

I currently write non fiction author guides, travel and nursing memoirs. Although I also have a romance novel in progress and a couple of ghostwriting projects which are outside of my usual genre of writing.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

To be honest I didn’t choose a genre when I started writing it was entirely by accident, hence the title of my first author guide, The Accidental Author. I resurrected my love of journaling, that I had in my childhood, after the traumatic events of the Brisbane floods in 2011. It was more of a cathartic exercise to begin with, but as I started to tell people about our experiences after relocating to Tasmania to start over and rebuild our lives, I was encouraged to share our story to help and inspire others who may be facing life changing events.

The Accidental Author (The What, Why, Where, When, Who & How Book Promotion Series 1) by [Butfield, Sarah Jane]

The Accidental Author is permanently free as I hope it offers aspiring authors a real glimpse of how they could start writing based on my experiences

So, what have you written?

Two Dogs and a Suitcase: Clueless in Charente

Our Frugal Summer in Charente: An Expat’s Kitchen Garden Journal

The Amatuer AuthorpreneurProduct Details

The Intermediate AuthorpreneurProduct Details

Where can we buy or see them? 

I have added the links at the end ..

What are you working on at the minute?

I have 2 main projects on the go at the moment.

Firstly, I am co-writing the sequel to Shame by Phil Thomas after working with him on the second edition of book one which details his horrific true story of abuse within the UK criminal justice system in the 1970’s which is now part of a judicial review which culminates in 2017. We hope to coordinate the release of the sequel with the finalising of the court proceedings and issue of the final report on how to try to prevent events on this scale happening in the future.

Secondly, a bit overdue, I am in the final stages of preparing Ooh Matron 2! Bedpans to Boardrooms to be released.

Ooh Matron!

Product Details

What’s Ooh Matron 2 about?

Book 2 in my nursing memoir series follows the story of my nursing career and patient experiences over a 28 year career when I worked  in a variety of specialisms and roles in healthcare settings in both UK and Australia. These books form part of The Nomadic Nurse Series which is proving popular not only with medical memoir fans, but also those who enjoy travel and personal memoirs.

What was the hardest part of writing Glass Half Full?

Product Details

In some respects the hardest part was reliving very personal and emotional events and trying to portray them accurately in a way that readers could relate to the decisions we made and how when life changing events happen you often don’t get long period to debate discuss and decide what to do. Sometimes you have to just make a decision and act on it.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I really enjoyed reliving the happy times that occurred during our time in Australia. I still feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to live and work in a country which is so family and community focused and I have no regrets despite how life turned out for us there.

Product Details

Are there misconceptions that people have about your book?  If so, explain.

I think the biggest misconception some people have is that making the decision to emigrate was easy. It was very far away from being easy. Both Nigel and I had been married and divorced. We had child custody issues due to having children from previous marriages and this meant that our decision would result in some of our children remaining with our ex partners in the UK. This was one of the hardest decisions we have ever made, and as I said before trying to portray enough of our story without intrusion into our children’s lives, yet being able to give readers an idea of the rationale to our decisions was very hard. There were elements of my personal situation in the lead up to our decision which at the time of writing Glass Half Full I could not go into in detail because of the ages of the children and the ex partner involved, but suffice to say psychological and physical domestic abuse was involved.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject matter, that isn’t so?

This is tough, but honestly I think the answer is that unless you have personally parented children and step-children through child custody, divorce and child safety life events, it may be difficult for readers to totally comprehend the enormity of emotional and psychological thought processes involved. For this reason readers may build up preconceived ideas and as one reader wrote in a review “Surely he couldn’t have been the monster you portrayed him as.” When in fact I underplayed the extent of his behaviour towards me and my children.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration is my family. Without the support and encouragement from my husband Nigel I may never have started my writing journey on a professional level.

How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

I feel very fortunate to now be able to write and support new and aspiring authors as a full time occupation. This wasn’t a planned career move but it now feels as if it was meant to be and I love everything about what I do and the people I work with.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

I love reading paperbacks and I thoroughly enjoy browsing in second hand book shops and charity shops for new material. I have a favourite book shop in Tenby actually called

However, my Kindle is overflowing with awesome books from fellow independent authors.

What book/s are you reading at present?

I am currently an ARC reader for Peri Hoskins and his upcoming book called East, which is set in Australia and although it is called literary fiction it is based on his memoirs so it is very poignant.

Who designed your book cover/s?

I have had a few cover designers but I have now developed a working relationship with Ida Jansson at AMYGDALA DESIGN. Together we are reworking some of my original covers and her work on Glass Half Full has been amazing.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Yes the cover plays a huge part. It’s funny how when I first started out I didn’t realise quite how important it was until I questioned what makes me pick up a book or click on a book online, and it’s the cover 80% of the time

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

What I love about self-publishing is having total control of not only the content and how I portray it but also the timeframes. Having a large family means that rigid timeframes would create increased pressure which I feel would stifle my writing ability. I like to write everyday even if that means getting up 5am for some quiet time!

Which social network worked best for you?

It’s funny how social networking has become so integral to publishing over the years and particularly so for independent authors. I love to interact with my readers and I find Facebook and Twitter the most responsive, however I get a lot of emails from my mailing list and via my blogs.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Websites:

http://www.sarahjanebutfield.com/

http://www.rukiapublishing.com/

Linkedin:https://www.linkedin.com/in/authorsarahjanebutfield

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/readgoodbooks/

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7391697.Sarah_Jane_Butfield

Connect with Sarah Jane on social media:

Twitter

@SarahJanewrites

@SJButfield

@GlassHalfFullTM

@TwoDogsMemoir

@FrugalSummer

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahJaneButfield

www.facebook.com/Twodogsandasuitcase

www.facebook.com/OurFrugalSummerinCharente

www.facebook.com/Ooh-Matron-1646665865549530/timeline/

Blogs:

Sarah Jane’s Writing Blog http://sarahjanebutfield-glass-half-full.blogspot.co.uk/

Sarah Jane’s Blog at Rukia http://www.rukiapublishing.com/sarah-janes-blog

Amazon Author Page:

US https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Jane-Butfield/e/B00GPLZW2Y/

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sarah-Jane-Butfield/e/B00GPLZW2Y/

 

My Review of Portraits of the Dead by John Nicholl

portraits of the dead

The Blurb:

Emma didn’t know how long he hid, silent and unmoving, in the large Victorian wardrobe to the side of her single bed.

She didn’t know how long he peered, salivating and drooling, between the two heavy dark oak doors, and watched, mesmerised, as she slowly drifted into fitful sleep. She didn’t know what time he pushed the doors open and crept towards her in the drab grey darkness of the night.

Detective Inspector Gravel finds himself floundering when a local nineteen-year-old university student is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer, who has already tortured and killed five young women.

How far would you go to save your life?

My Review:

Perhaps it wouldn’t be quite true to say I enjoyed reading all of Portraits of the Dead. Described as “a gripping serial killer thriller” this is indeed a powerfully written story; dark and sometimes with graphically violent passages that evoke images that made me cringe. (Perhaps the novel should come with a warning?! )

Yet the plot and John Nicholl’s style of writing  kept me hooked.This book is not purely about  brutality. There is humour, poignancy and empathy. The plotline following the serial killer is juxtaposed with the life stories and backgrounds of the two main police officers, Detective Inspector Gravell (Grav) and Detective Sergeant Clive Rankin, who strive to save the protagonist, Emma Jones, from the fate that has befallen five other murdered young girls..

These two male characters are portrayed as bluff yet compassionate.The  friendly yet professional relationship between them is credible and  their  dialogue distinguishes them to the reader. The protagonist is  well rounded and  both the internal and spoken dialogue of Emma carries the horror of the storyline, of her situation and is totally believable.

The antagonist , Goddard, while his actions are that of a sadistic and maniacal killer, is also so well written that he is convincing.

The only character I felt was occasionally implausible was Margaret Goddard, the antagonist’s mother. For me, her dialogue didn’t always work; bordering sometimes on melodrama.

My other problem was what I call ‘head hopping’ between characters. One moment  I was following the dialogue between two characters from the point of view of one of the main characters, the next was in the mind of the other, often minor, flat character who is either never seen again or is only in a short thread of  a side plot. But, as I say, this is a problem for me as a reader; it might not bother or even be noticed by other readers.

Sometimes novels are described as plot or character led. I felt that Portraits of the Dead is basically strong in both these aspects

It almost seems as an aside to mention the various settings but I should. The descriptions are spot on, give a strong sense of place and a realistic world for the characters to move around in.

Perhaps, every now and then, the narrative is slowed down by too many clauses, repetition of an action, an over-emphasis of a scene, a character’s’ thoughts. But this is a small point and one that could soon be rectified by tighter editing.

The book, intentionally or not (and, personally, I feel it is meant – but I could, of course, be totally wrong),  carries a huge message for anyone; do not always take the people you meet at face value.

And, just to intrigue you, I will say I loved the twist at the end of the novel.

To sum up; a well written story, a great plot and – if sometimes a little too graphic for me  (I often  watch murder dramas on TV through my fingers – yes, I’m a wimp!)-  a truly gripping serial killer thriller that I thoroughly recommend.

This book is available to preorder on:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2bkFPuk

 

Today With Sharon Jones

Over the last few weeks I’ve been introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl 

 I’m almost finished interviewing them all now.

In the next fortnight I’ll be showcasing the three publishers who will be with us: http://honno.co.uk/, http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/ and http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/

And I’ll be sharing a post from the brilliant http://showboat.tv/ Who always video and share our Tenby Book Fair.

So far here are the wonderful authors. Please feel free to check them and their great books out: Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh  Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles: http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Graham Watkins: http://bit.ly/2aEgwRv , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons:http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G , Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  ,Alex Martin: http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl , Sharon Tregenza:http://bit.ly/29frGPq    Juliet Greenwood:http://bit.ly/29jylrM , Nigel Williams:http://bit.ly/29racfO , Julie McGowan:http://bit.ly/29CHNa9 , John Nicholl:http://bit.ly/29NtdtX  ,Tony Riches:  http://bit.ly/29y3a8k:  ,Wendy White: http://bit.ly/29TMCpY  ,Angela Fish:http://bit.ly/2a5qY2U  David Thorpe:http://bit.ly/2a9uG0V , Eloise William:http://bit.ly/2aoZk1k , Phil Carradice: http://bit.ly/2aYINV5  and Jo Haammond:http://bit.ly/2b7nMqf .And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq 

There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

 

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with  Firefly author. Sharon Jones. 

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Welcome Sharon, it’s great to be meeting you here.

Let’s start by you telling us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?

I was born and raised in Dolgellau, North Wales and as a child was enchanted by local folk tales of Idris the giant who used to sit on Cader Idris, the mountain which overlooks the town. My imagination was far too big to stay restricted within my brain, so I would constantly make up stories. I was strongly influenced by Enid Blyton’s books which I devoured, and my stories always centred on magical trees and wishing wells. My biggest secret as a child was that there was a fairy door on the crab apple tree at the bottom of our garden. If I scrunched my eyes closed and tapped three times on the door, I would be transported to the magical Crabble Kingdom and was swept away on adventures with the Crabble Fairies. Oh, and other than my sons, I don’t think that anyone else knows that I can juggle!

grace-ella-lowres final cover

 

I love the cover! Do tell us what your book is about?

‘Grace-Ella: Spells for Beginners’ is my debut children’s book *pauses for a little squeal* It’s a funny, magical adventure about friendship and being true to yourself, for 7-9 year olds. Grace-Ella is an ordinary little girl who lives in the seaside town of Aberbetws … ordinary until one Saturday, a black cat strolls through the back door of the Bevin’s house and takes up residence. Little does Grace-Ella know that the cat will reveal that on the ninth day of the ninth month of the ninth year of her life, she will become a witch. What ensues are sparkling spells and potion commotions. Despite there being strict rules from the Witch Council about not using magic to seek revenge on a foe, will Grace-Ella be able to find a way of using her magic so that Amelia, the school bully, gets the comeuppance she deserves? Well, I guess you’ll have to read the book to find out. ‘Grace-Ella’ will publish on the 15th of September with www.fireflypress.co.uk/

 

Are you working on another book?

‘Grace-Ella: Spells for Beginners’ is the first in a series of ‘Grace-Ella’ books. I am currently working on Book 2. To give you a sneaky hint, the second story is about Grace-Ella’s adventures at Witch Camp, where rules are broken with catastrophic consequences, cats go missing, a broomstick battle and of course cauldrons full of sparkling magic. I also have another young middle grade story, currently under consideration with a publisher, so fingers and toes crossed for that too.

 

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

Grace-Ella whooshed into my mind as I was driving to work one morning. I had to execute a perfect emergency swerve and come to a skidding halt in a layby. I quickly jotted down who Grace-Ella was. She was just the ordinary young girl who sits in the classroom, but has this amazing magical secret. Mrs Bevin, Grace-Ella’s mam, is definitely based on a real person … but I can’t possibly reveal who. She is very pernickety and appearances and keeping up with the neighbours are her main goals in life. Because of this, she greatly exaggerates situations and on discovering that her daughter is a witch, her distress is almost apocalyptical. Having worked as a Primary School teacher for twelve years, I have taught many children who all have their own unique and wonderful characteristics and it’s a mish-mash of all these traits that generally make up my characters.

 

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

I worked as a Primary School teacher for twelve years, but made the difficult decision at the beginning of this year, to give up my teaching position. I wanted to give my full attention and all my energy into raising my boys and my writing. Once my book publishes, I will be available for school visits and writing workshops. I write in the mornings when my youngest son attends Nursery School. I have recently decorated and created a beautiful office space to work in and find the morning hours simply evaporate when my imagination takes hold and I’m away. I have to be alone and in complete silence to write (fuelled by coffee), so once the boys are home, it’s time to be Mam. Becoming a children’s author was always that dream that collected cobwebs in the deep recesses of my mind for years and to have now achieved that, well … quite simply, it’s magical.

 

 Where can we find you online?

You can find me twittering on Twitter @sharonmariej (https://twitter.com/sharonmariej)

I also write a blog called ‘Sharon Marie Jones: Just Being Me’, which you can read at sharonmariej.wordpress.com. On my blog, you’ll find my journey through the tragic grief I battle, following the death of my 5-year-old son in March. Some of this journey is written as detailed accounts, some is written as poetry. I hope by being honest and open about my situation, my writing may help someone in the same, or similar situation.

Sharon’s book is now available to pre-order:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2aRYb1N

Amazon.com:http://amzn.to/2aLStDa

Gwales:http://bit.ly/2aRZONi

Firefly Press: http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/

 

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My Review of Hog in the Fog: A Harry & Lil Story by Julia Copus (Author), Eunyoung Seo (Illustrator)

hog fog

I read this with my six year old granddaughter, Seren, and we gave this 5* (Because we weren’t allowed to give it any more)

The Blurb:

The tale of a hog in the fog.

This is the story of Candy Stripe Lil
and Harry the Hog who lived over the hill.

…and a foggy March day, roundabout three,
when Lil had invited Harry for tea.

Lil is expecting Harry the Hog for tea, but there’s a swirling fog outside and Harry is nowhere to be seen.

Lil sets off to find her friend. Luckily she meets Deer, Sheep and Crow along the way, who all join in the hunt to find the hog in the fog.

A heartwarming rhyming adventure story about friendship, teamwork and teatime!

My review: ( Following instructions from Seren who read it with me at weekend)

First, Seren’s opinion

‘I like the clock telling the time when Lil has to wait for Hog.’ (So do I, a clever way of introducing telling the time to a child)

‘Lil has a lovely face.’ (In fact all the animals have ‘lovely faces’)

 ‘I like the horns on the deer.’ (the antlers on the deer are decorated with flowers and butterflies, the sheep has a blue bow around her neck, the crow a red hat, Lil a striped bonnet – charming little details)

‘They all see bits of Hog, don’t they?’ (They do; on each of their pages, the sheep sees the back of Hog, the deer sees his ears, the crow sees his tale. – the repetition of the three animals/ the three images they each see, is very clever)

‘I like the sounds they make.’ ( ” Pittery Pattery, tippety tappety , munch crunch,   tac tac tac, qwaa-aak…”     (What’s not to like? Funny, sounds to read aloud  again and again)

‘I like they found him, I was getting a bit worried.’ (Ah, a happy ending… just right)

‘And I like the funny food they have for tea.’ (Yep, she would!!… “…chocolate- chip beetles, slug- flavoured chip, dragonflies tongues, frothy muck- shake and cuttlefish cake.” Say no more!)

Picture story books are very close to poetry in many ways. One of the most important things is that they  both are intended to be read aloud. So fluency is essential. If the format is meant to be regular in  rhythm, then each line must have the same amount of syllables.  Rhyming is necessary, whether slant/ near rhymes, sight rhymes or exact rhymes. Hog in the Fog has all these qualities.

Turning the pages to see what happens next seems to be important for children in picture story books. So, often there are connecting or repeating words or phrases  “And/But /So.” Or sometimes those three little dots – the ellipses.  Hog in the Fog does this kind of connection of each page in spades.

And last but certainly not least… the illustrations. These are amongst the best I’ve seen in a picture book. (and I’ve been reading picture story books for a loooooong time) I’d go so far as the say they are exquisite drawings.

But obviously the last word goes to Seren. Before she left I had a warning. ‘Please don’t use big posh words, Nanna, just say I liked it… for a young little girl or boy.’  Okay. She liked it… and so did I.

 I thoroughly recommend  Hog in the Fog.

Buying links:

Amazon.co .uk:http://amzn.to/2auAPnq 

Amazon.com:http://amzn.to/2b8slCe 

Faber and Faber: http://bit.ly/2aVp8m6

My Review of Sandlands by Rosy Thornton for #RBRT

I reviewed Sandlands by Rosy Thornton as a member of #RBRT (and wasn’t I in for a treat!)

I gave this collection of short stories 5* out of 5*

The Blurb:

A collection of linked short stories, all set in and around the small village of Blaxhall in the sandlings of coastal Suffolk, which is the reason for the title, ‘Sandlands’. The collection is inspired by the landscape of the area and its flora and fauna, as well as by its folklore and historical and cultural heritage. Six of the twelve stories focus around a particular bird, animal, wildflower or insect characteristic of the locality, from barn owl to butterfly. The book might be described as a collection of ghost stories; in fact, while one or two stories involve a more or less supernatural element, each of them deals in various ways with the tug of the past upon the present, and explores how past and present can intersect in unexpected ways. The stories uncover what is real and enduring beneath the surface of things.

My Review:

What can I say about this book! I loved it; devoured it in one sitting.

And the cover!  The image of the ethereal  barn owl; the staring,  seemingly unblinking, eye is, for me, a metaphor for the author’s depth of  study, of research and knowledge of her subject.

Sandlands encompasses sixteen short stories that are based around the Sussex landscape, traditions, the different seasons,human nature and nature itself

Rosy Thornton has an empathetic writing style. Her portrayal of all the diverse characters shows an instinctive knowledge of human emotions and reactions to various situations. Each anecdote is an excellent observation of people,  fascinating in so many different ways, and each is satisfyingly complete

 There are lots of entwining themes; of quiet humour, time shifts, mystery and ancient history, folklore, superstitions, life and death, nature and even sometimes, a subtle personification of nature  and animals (see below).

 The stories are told variously through first person and third person point of view; individual voices so different that it’s possible to envisage them… and certainly for the reader to empathise and react to every story in  many different emotional ways.

But what struck me most as I savoured these tales was the beautiful poetic prose, the rhythmic flow of the narrative, the extensive and unique use of words,the syntax and the way Rosy Thornton ‘strings’ those words together. Let me show you what I mean. This is just one example. I could have dipped into this book anywhere but this sequence is taken from The Witch Bottle

“A soft, plosive pop, inaudible beyond the confines of the bottle, released the first gauzy wisp of smoke and with it a smouldering, acrid odour, Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Then came the flame. Bluish and tentative at first, it began to lap along a ridge of fabric, but quickly grew bolder, darkening to purple and rich red, then leapt, hungry and orange, to lick inside the glass. Finally it found a crack, the way to the outside air and life-giving oxygen– where, invigorated, it bucked and swayed its wild banshee dance, until it met the threads of Persian wool.

Fire burn…!”

Wonderful stuff!!

 You just have to read these stories. I thoroughly recommend Sandlands.

 Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2be4vC8

 Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2aG7Q1p