Presenting the Authors at the Honno Book Fair 7th May 2022 at the Queens Hall, Narberth, Pembrokeshire. Today with Carol Lovekin #Honno #authors

Introducing my friends and fellow (or should that be sister?) authors of Honno – The longest-standing independent women’s press in the UK – who will be at the Honno Book Fair on the 7th May 2022 , 10.00am until 4.00pm, at the Queens Hall, Narberth, Pembrokeshire. Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the each author. I’ll also be showcasing Honno, the publishers.

If you’re in the area,we’d be thrilled if you popped in to say hello.

Today, I’m really pleased to be joined by Carol Lovekin

Hello and welcome, Carol. Lovely to see you here today. 

And glad to be here, Judith

Please tell us, how many books have you written, and which is your favourite?

Four. Favourite is tough. Like my children, I love them all for different reasons. But I’ll pick Wild Spinning Girls as it’s the one everyone says they like best. And it was shortlisted for a prize: the Wales Book of the Year (Fiction Award) 2021.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

During a read through, I spotted it, almost at the end. It was a moment when one of my characters was musing on the essential nature of ‘girls’ and it was perfect.

What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing? Or what was your hardest scene to write, and why?

The opening chapter! It wasn’t until my editor pointed out, during our initial structural edit, that I’d started the story in the wrong place, I realised I had. Once she told me, ‘It begins with Ida’s accident’ (which feeds into the fairy tale element and the story of The Red Shoes), the penny dropped. I was able to draw on my own background in ballet and had the scene written in my head almost before I got home!

What part of the book was the most fun to write?

The scenes involving Olwen – my ghost. I love her. She is my role model and any hauntings I plan will be an homage to her!

If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?

Heather, probably. And some of my readers have expressed an interest in Roni, wanting to know more about her. This is the nature of story however – they are never finished and some threads get left to spin in the wind.

If you’re planning a sequel, can you tantalize us with a snippet of your plans for it? If not, your plans for your next book?

My next book is due out this May. Which is perfect, as the story takes places over the month of May. Only May is the story of May Harper, a girl who can look you in the eye and see your lies. As gifts go, it’s a double-edged sword; May doesn’t always want to know people’s secrets. But at the heart of her family hides the biggest lie of all, one she is determined to see. 

At what point did you think of yourself as a writer?

Before I was published, I was a scribbler with no directions. Once I retired, I decided to take my writing seriously, with a view to publication. And I had an idea I knew could work: if I could write it, it had legs, so to speak. Luckily for me, it had wings. When Ghostbird was published, that was when I knew I was a writer.

What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?

Get a grip!? In my view and in my writing life, there’s no such thing. Sometimes (mostly) I write, sometimes I don’t. Regardless of any circumstances which may take me away from physical writing, I’m always thinking about my current story. Every aspect of creating a story is a writer’s work.

Are there therapeutic benefits to modelling a character after someone you know?

Absolutely. I did it with my second book, Snow Sisters. Allegra, the mother in this story is a narcissist. While I was writing the book, I finally said ‘No’ to a long-time friend whose narcissism had pushed me to my limit. ‘No’ is anathema to a narcissist and she instantly ended the friendship. Stealing a few of her attributes was a small but satisfying therapy. And the thing about a narcissist is, they will never guess you have modelled a character on them because in a narcissist’s world, everything is about them anyway. They are perfect, and that arrogant, self-involved, manipulative character couldn’t possibly be them!

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

Beginnings. On every level. Sometimes, even though I know exactly what a chapter is about, I can’t start writing it. Can’t find the perfect opening sentence never mind a paragraph. It can takes hours. And don’t get me started on – well – the start! Once upon a time . . .?   

How do you use social media as an author?


Why did you choose Honno as a publisher?

Although, ultimately, Honno chose me, I always had them in mind. I thought they would be a perfect fit for the first book I submitted. Ghostbird has a quintessentially Welsh feel to it. Added to that was my admiration for Honno as a feminist women’s press supporting women’s voices. I got my debut break with them as a result of taking part in a Meet the Editor session with Janet Thomas. This was life-changing for me. At the age of 71 I became a published author and my fourth book is on the horizon.

Presenting the Authors at the Honno Book Fair 7th May 2022 at the Queens Hall, Narberth, Pembrokeshire. Today with Hilary Shepherd

Introducing my friends and fellow (or should that be sister?) authors of Honno – The longest-standing independent women’s press in the UK – who will be at the Honno Book Fair on the 7th May 2022 , 10.00am until 4.00pm, at the Queens Hall, Narberth, Pembrokeshire.

If you’re in the area,we’d be thrilled if you popped in to say hello

Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing each author. I’ll also be showcasing Honno. 

Today, I’m really pleased to be joined by Hilary Shepherd

Hello and welcome, Hilary. Good to see you here today.

It’s good to be with you, Judith

Could you tell us, please, how many books have you written, and which is your favourite?

Five written, three published. My favourite is ‘Albi’.

What inspired the idea for your book?

The book is based on a village in Aragon in Spain where we have a house. Over the last 20 years we’ve been told a lot of stories about the impact of the Civil War on neighbours who have all died now. Our house is full of farm implements that would have been in common use then and the sound landscape has changed little – the streets are too narrow for traffic so human voices dominate. The sheep flocks still graze to the sound of their bells and the shepherds call to them as they always did. The golden orioles still sing. I couldn’t not write about it!

Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why.

Albi himself, a nine-year-old boy who is catapulted into a strange and forbidding world but is still only a child. I think of him whenever I’m in the village and things he got up to and it’s a jolt to remember sometimes that he exists only in my head. And in the heads of my readers.

What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing? Or what was your hardest scene to write, and why?

The ending, because there were so many threads to draw together and I wanted to do justice to my characters and also to history, which doesn’t have resolutions.

What part of the book was the most fun to write?

The pranks Albi gets up to, and the irony of what he sees compared with what he understands.

What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

Now I’m older, a comfortable chair. 

 What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

At the moment it’s to keep writing when making physical things seems so much less of a self-indulgence. This is a knock-on of covid though I’m not sure why. At the moment I find myself preferring to make a window than spend time at my desk, which isn’t very conducive to finishing off my next novel.

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

Writing that isn’t tied to the earth by too many words in the wrong places.

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?

Both – they leapfrog each other until it gets difficult to remember which was the trigger, though I’m pretty certain the characters come second but then drive the plot, sometimes surprisingly.

 How do you use social media as an author?

I’m afraid I don’t. I used to, but I really didn’t like it.

 Why did you Honno as a publisher?

Because they were there, and because Caroline responded so generously to my first submission. Since then I’ve come to appreciate the community that Honno is and the chance to be aware of others’ progress through the otherwise deeply solitary experience of being published.

About Hilary:

I live on a hillside in the middle of Wales where I have spent most of my adult life farming and woodworking, and also writing. My first novel was set in the Sudan where I lived for two years, the second in Ghana, and the third in Spain. Writing about other places is a wonderful way to spend time in them when life keeps you somewhere else.

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


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




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



Sand Circles

Marc Treanor








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.  (

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



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





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:

 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.

Today With Sarah Jane Butfield




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,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival 

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:  A collection of  their books for the Children’s competition.   Cambria Publishing Co-operative  is sponsoring the YA Flash Fiction prizes and  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:, and

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

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

Rebecca Bryn:, Thorne Moore:  Matt Johnson: , Christoph Fischer: , Sally Spedding:, Wendy Steele: ,Kathy MIles: , Graham Watkins: , Carol Lovekin:, Colin R Parsons: , Lisa Shambrook:  ,Alex Martin: ,  Judith Arnopp: , Sharon Tregenza:    Juliet Greenwood: , Nigel Williams: , Julie McGowan: , John Nicholl:  ,Tony Riches:  ,Wendy White:  ,Angela Fish:  David Thorpe: , Eloise William: , Phil Carradice: , Jo Haammond:  and Sharon Jones: .And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: 

There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of 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?





Connect with Sarah Jane on social media:









Sarah Jane’s Writing Blog

Sarah Jane’s Blog at Rukia

Amazon Author Page:




Today With Sharon Jones

Over the last few weeks I’ve been introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival 

 I’m almost finished interviewing them all now.

In the next fortnight I’ll be showcasing the three publishers who will be with us:, and

And I’ll be sharing a post from the brilliant 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:, Thorne Moore:  Matt Johnson: , Christoph Fischer: , Sally Spedding:, Wendy Steele: ,Kathy MIles: , Graham Watkins: , Carol Lovekin:, Colin R Parsons: , Lisa Shambrook:  ,Alex Martin: ,  Judith Arnopp: , Sharon Tregenza:    Juliet Greenwood: , Nigel Williams: , Julie McGowan: , John Nicholl:  ,Tony Riches:  ,Wendy White:  ,Angela Fish:  David Thorpe: , Eloise William: , Phil Carradice:  and Jo Haammond: .And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: 

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


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

sharon jones 1


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


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 (

I also write a blog called ‘Sharon Marie Jones: Just Being Me’, which you can read at 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:


Firefly Press:







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:



Today with Jo Hammond



Over the last few weeks I’ve been introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival 

 I’m almost finished interviewing them all now.

In the next fortnight I’ll be showcasing the three publishers who will be with us:, and

And I’ll be sharing a post from the brilliant 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:, Thorne Moore:  Matt Johnson: , Christoph Fischer: , Sally Spedding:, Wendy Steele: ,Kathy MIles: , Graham Watkins: , Carol Lovekin:, Colin R Parsons: , Lisa Shambrook:  ,Alex Martin: ,  Judith Arnopp: , Sharon Tregenza:    Juliet Greenwood: , Nigel Williams: , Julie McGowan: , John Nicholl:  ,Tony Riches:  ,Wendy White:  ,Angela Fish:  David Thorpe: , Eloise William: and Phil Carradice:  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: 

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

Today I am so pleased to be talking with  Jo Hammond

jo hammond


 Welcome, Jo, good to see you here today.

Good to be here, Judith

So, let’s start by you telling us what have you written? 

Battle in Iraq published by ibtauris, Adelina Patti Queen of Song and Wilderness & Paradise. The last two are both available as e-books on Amazon or through Hammond Associates. I have also written short stories for the Sexy Shorts series published by Accent Press.

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

My field is biography/history and I guess I am just very interested in lives already lived, especially women who have achieved extraordinary things often against the odds. Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from? I have loved reading since I was very young. I learned to read at the age of 3. Living in West Africa there were not many distractions, my younger brother was my only companion much of the time. I escaped into a world of stories and characters. I used to be told I was a bookworm and when I was very young I thought that there really was such a biological creature – an insect that lived in books.

How long have you been writing?

Since the age of about 7. My very first success was in the tiny school I attended in a town called Zaria. Gerald Durrell was in the country on one of his expeditions and came to talk to us about his adventures and the animals he had seen. We were then set a competition to write an essay based on his talk. I won the first prize which was a terrapin.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

As well as the biographies I have mentioned and which I tend to write as though they were novels, I have written poetry and short stories.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

I believe that from the earliest times when storytelling was entirely oral it was a way of making sense of the world around us and a way of remembering important events.

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

My first book Battle in Iraq is the story of my grandfather’s experiences working ships on the Tigris River during WW1. Although it is based on his diaries and letters, I wrote the back ground history to the war and as my son once put it, end with “a fine rant” in the final chapter against the war of 2003. For me it was important to try to explain the war to people and also to highlight the suffering in this theatre of war which is often forgotten concentrating as we do on the western front. My other two books are both about high achieving women, Adelina Patti had an amazing life as an opera singer starting at the age of 9 and had immense character. She also lived at a time of great excitement and upheaval with civil wars and revolutions going on across the world. She is often forgotten as compared with Jenny Lind and Nellie Melba, I felt that balance should be redressed. “Wilderness & Paradise” is a collection of mini biographies of women who went out alone to explore the deserts of Arabia, again brave and pioneering women who had exceptional courage and extraordinary lives.

Can you share some stories about people you met while researching these books?

Most of my research was done in libraries and museums so the people I met were librarians, archivists and curators. For “Battle in Iraq” I went to Turkey to visit the town where my grandfather was a prisoner of war. It was a town of narrow streets with ottoman buildings that featured overhanging upper storeys. Its main claim to fame was the huge rock that dos almost sheer to 800 metres. In his diaries grandfather wrote of clubbing the rock and sitting there to read so of course we had to climb it too. I went to Turkey with some trepidation because my mind was filled with the evil things done to our troops in Iraq but I found the people friendly and helpful though there was not one person in the town prepared to admit that there had ever been prisoners of war there. Later when I was doing research at St Anthony’s college Oxford I met a very pleasant Iraqi who introduced me to his own publishers who subsequently accepted my book. For Adelina Patti I went to Windsor Castle to look at the diaries of Queen Victoria for whom Adelina often sang. I felt very privileged to be holding her actual diaries in my hand and reading her incredibly neat, clear handwriting. I also met Lord Mark Poltimore who is an art expert at Sotheby’s and on the Antiques Road Show. He is the owner of the painting by Winterhalter on the front of my book because he is the grandson of Adelina’s third husband. I also met his mother thereby giving me a living contact with Adelina and her husband Baron Cederström. They very kindly lent me her letters to study. What are some of the references that you used while researching? Many biographies and histories, the Bible, diaries and autobiographies.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I loved doing the research and finding odd facts and references and I loved the feeling that I was bringing these people to life. How did you get to be where you are in your life today? I grew up in West Africa so travel and far away places always appeal to me, hence my choice of subjects. I went to boarding school and then did a degree in French and Italian. I worked for a while teaching English as a Foreign Language and later as a secretary and translator before training as a teacher of Modern Languages. During this time I was also doing some free-lance writing for local newspapers. Coming to Pembrokeshire I wanted to escape from teaching so I started a business selling hampers of local specialities whilst still doing supply teaching. But I still wanted to write so I studied for an MA in Creative Writing at Trinity College and have been writing and giving talks ever since.

Who are some of your favourite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

Racine, Jane Austen, Pierre Loti, Gertrude Bell, Isabelle Eberhardt, Balzac, Evelyn Waugh, Agatha Christie. All of these use simple language – I dislike books that use abstruse words where a simple one will do, I find that pretentious. But some of them also manage to write so lyrically creating beautiful images or sounds. In the case of Austen and Christie I think it is the vividness with which they portray their characters that most appeals.

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

I have always been a part time writer as I have had to earn money, I also had four sons of whom three are triplets so they have been my priority. Now they are grown up and have sons of their own so I am often on Granny duty. Having said that I find that ideas and thinking things through can happen while engaged in mundane tasks. Once the inspiration is in place the actual writing does not take so long.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

I often get struck by writers’ block. Sometimes it is difficult to see how best to word something of fit it into the narrative. My solution is to walk away from it. Go and do something else, taking the dog for a walk is good because you can one thinking while walking and the change of air breathes fresh life into you.

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

E-books have been a great benefit in many ways. Anyone can be published on Amazon and books are available to the public so easily through the internet. But there has as a result been a sad decline in the number of bookshops and the clatter of masses of unknown books on the internet drowns out more worthwhile books. I think the printed copy will always exist if only because once you have bought it it needs no electricity to enable you to read it.

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

My books tend to be driven by logic and for the most part are written in the old fashioned beginning, middle and end way. As I write biographies as though they were novels intuition plays a part in thinking up the conversations that people might have had in a given situation. My books are strictly factual but obviously there is no record of what people said to each other unless a conversation is reported in an autobiography, so I have to make those up as with descriptions of clothes and places, though they are based on general reading around the subject.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

I do my own proof reading, editing and publishing. After my first book I gave up on traditional publishers – too slow and too uninterested to market effectively.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

All my book cover are designed by me. Battle in Iraq shows a photo of my grandfather against a map of Iraq. On the back is a picture of the ship he was on when captured. It gives some clue as to wheat the book is about. Adelina Patti shows a portrait of the singer by Winterhalter. Wilderness & Paradis has a picture of an oriental rug of the type used to frame a doorway. It hangs in my dining room while on the back is a photo I took of a window at the Grand Mosque in Dubai. I wanted to give the atmosphere of the book from the very start.

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

I am on Twitter and I also have a blog but find I have little time for them. I try to “tweet” about once a week and find it does often result in a small flurry of sales.

How do you market your books? My last two books are on sale through ebooks on Amazon and I sell copies myself at book fairs and when I give talks or lectures. My first book Battle in Iraq is available from the publishers ibtauris.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I like to try new books, I enjoyed “The Girl on the Train” and also “Night Train to Lisbon”. I do mostly read fiction though my own books are non-fiction. “The Time Travellers Wife” struck me as similar to my own life being married to a man who is away working a great deal – not that he comes home naked, just the way he may be away for weeks and then suddenly parachutes back into my life and turns my routine upside down.

What is your favourite film and why?

Casablanca is the best film ever made. It is one of the most quoted because of its succinct and punchy lines. All its characters are so very vividly created and evoke immediate sympathy.

What is your role in the writing community?

I have given talks based on my writing. I help to run a creative writing group in Pembroke Dock

What projects are you working on at the present?

I am beginning research on women aviators as part of a plan to write a collection of mini biographies again. after that I feel I would really like to try my hand at fiction.

Tenby Book Fair: 24th September 2016



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

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.



TAF vs





showboat vsmall (1)

Beneath the Apple Blossom Tour Banner



                                              BENEATH THE APPLE BLOSSOM

                                                                BY KATE FROST

Genre: Contemporary women’s fiction

Release Date: 04/08/16

Publisher: Lemon Tree Press.

Four women, linked by blood ties, friendship, betrayal, loss and hope, struggle with the choices they’ve made and the hand that life’s dealt them.

All Pippa’s ever wanted is marriage and kids, but at thirty-four and about to embark on IVF, her dream of having a family is far from certain. Her younger sister Georgie has the opposite problem, juggling her career, her lover, a young daughter and a husband who wants baby number two.

Pippa’s best friend Sienna has a successful career in the film world, and despite her boyfriend pressurising her to settle down, a baby is the last thing she wants. Happily married Connie shares the trauma of fertility treatment with Pippa, but underestimates the impact being unable to conceive will have on her and her marriage.

As their lives collide in a way they could never have predicted, will any of them get to see their hopes realised?


Connie stopped and looked around. She had wandered a little way off the path and was in a small grassy clearing surrounded by trees heavy with spring leaves and blossom. Not in the mood for making small talk with a stranger, she chose a spot in semi-shade out of sight of the path, leant back against the slender tree trunk and closed her eyes. A slight breeze caressed her face and every so often she got the wonderful sensation of sunlight on her. She took a deep breath and drank in the scent of damp grass and spring flowers – fresh, sweet and alive – then opened her eyes to the canopy of white against the blue sky. The apple tree was bursting with blossom like masses of white teardrops.

She had everything to live for even if it didn’t feel like it right now. Life was a journey, and the best journeys were the ones that couldn’t be predicted before setting off, or that weren’t an easy ride to reach the destination. Right then, on    a perfect spring day beneath the apple blossom, she made a pact with herself to keep loving life whatever was thrown at her. She may have suffered yet more disappointment but she could still see beauty in the world and feel at peace.






Kate Frost is a writer and author with a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University where she has also taught the lifewriting course to Creative Writing undergraduates. Alongside writing articles and short stories for magazines such as New Welsh Review, The London Magazine and QWF, Kate has worked in a bookshop, a cinema, as ground staff at Edgebaston Tennis Tournament and as a Supporting Artist in the films Vanity Fair, King Arthur and The Duchess.

Kate’s debut novel, The Butterfly Storm, was published in 2013 and featured on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers chart. Beneath the Apple Blossom is the first book in a series and Kate also plans to release the first in a time travel adventure trilogy for children by the end of 2016.

Kate lives in Bristol with her husband, her young son and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and fits in writing and publishing books around looking after – and being amused by – an energetic toddler.



Goodreads Author Page:






 Beneath the Apple Blossom Tour Banner



 (open internationally)


Today with Eloise Williams

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks.

So far I’ve cross-examined interviewed Rebecca Bryn:, Thorne Moore: , Matt Johnson: , Christoph Fischer: , Sally Spedding:, Wendy Steele: ,Kathy MIles: , Carol Lovekin:, Colin R Parsons: , Lisa Shambrook:  ,Alex Martin: ,  Judith Arnopp: , Sharon Tregenza:    Juliet Greenwood: , Nigel Williams: , Julie McGowan: , John Nicholl:  ,Tony Riches:  ,Wendy White:  ,Angela Fish:  and David Thorpe: . And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me:  Over the next week I’ll be introducing the last of the authors. I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance and who will be giving short talks and may be able to give advice to would-be authors: ,   and ,

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

Today  I’m really pleased to  introduce Eloise Williams



 Welcome Eloise, good to be chatting with you today.

It’s good to be here, Judith

First of all, tell us what genre are your books?

I write for children, middle grade and young adults.

My first book ‘Elen’s Island’ is aimed at 7-9’s and my second, ‘Gaslight’ which comes out next Spring (EEK!) is for age 10 upwards.

Elen's Island New Cover

What draws you to this genre?

Anything can happen. Magic can happen. Things can be ridiculous, scary, funny, sad, sometimes all in one page. I like the scope of writing for the young. I love it when children tell me what they thought of my book. I am so grateful for their honesty when they give feedback. One of my favourite quotes from a child I worked with is;

‘I felt ALMOST excited to get to meet an author.’ Lara, aged 9.

My readers make me laugh. They also make me work hard to keep their attention.

I want to recreate the feeling I had when I was a child reading a book. I want the rest of the world to disappear around the reader so they are living through the pages. I have no idea if I’m there yet but it’s what I’m striving for!

Do you have a trailer for your own book?

I do have a trailer for ‘Elen’s Island’.



I think it’s a really important way of giving a flavour of what the book is about. Money is hard to come by and people need to know whether the book is going to be right for them. I hope that my trailer gives a hint of the story without ruining anything. Also it is lovely and sparkly. I love a bit of sparkle.

What is your favourite saying?

‘Do what you love – Love what you do.’

I have no idea where it comes from but it really speaks to me. It took me a very long time to rediscover what I loved doing and I intend to spend the rest of my life doing it. I’m talking about writing of course. Though the same rule could be applied to eating chocolate.

What is your favourite quote?

‘Time held me green and dying

Though I sang in my chains like the sea.’

It’s from ‘Fern Hill’ by Dylan Thomas. I love his work. I try to say this line to myself every day. It reminds me that time is precious and to make the most of life.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

This is really difficult to answer. I think I’d need a few hundred pages and perhaps a therapist to answer this properly.

What I try to teach myself now is something I have learned from my favourite children’s character of all time, Luna Lovegood – it is OK to be weird!

Find Eloise at:

Buying Links:


Today With Angela Fish

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve cross-examined interviewed Rebecca Bryn:, Thorne Moore: , Matt Johnson: , Christoph Fischer: , Sally Spedding:, Wendy Steele: ,Kathy MIles: , Carol Lovekin:, Colin R Parsons: , Lisa Shambrook:  ,Alex Martin: ,  Judith Arnopp: , Sharon Tregenza:    Juliet Greenwood: , Nigel Williams: , Julie McGowan: , John Nicholl:  ,Tony Riches:  and Wendy White:   And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me:  Over the next week I’ll be introducing thelast of the authors. I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance and who will be giving short talks and may be able to give advice to would-be authors: ,   and ,

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

Today  I’m really pleased to  introduce children’s author  Angela Fish.

angela fish


Welcome Angela, lovely to be chatting with you today.

 Happy to be here, Judith.

So, tell us,Angela,where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from, and how long have you been writing?

My mother read to me a lot when I was little and I was reading simple text myself by the time I was four. I’ve never lost my love of reading and can be quite greedy with it! I remember writing simple poems and stories, and even plays, from the age of seven. Later on, most of my creative energy went into English essays but it wasn’t until I started an Humanities degree that I had any formal creative writing experience.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

As a child, I wrote anything! Stories, poems, plays, and I loved making up stories to tell my friends and my younger brother. As an adult, initially I focused on poetry and my dissertation was a collection of poems with commentary. After that I did an M.Phil. (Literature) but that was a research project, rather than my own writing. I went on some residential writing courses, mostly for poetry, and published some in journals. I was also placed second in a magazine short story competition, but then I started lecturing at my local university and work, and academic writing, took over. It wasn’t until I took early retirement and joined a writing group that I started writing again with any real purpose. Since then I’ve had a highly commended and a second place in Writer’s Forum magazine poetry competitions, written five books for children (two published, one just about ready for the printers, two submitted for publication), begun a new trilogy for girls, and have two adult novels partly written! It’s been quite a productive time but I don’t think that I would have done half (if any) of it without the support and encouragement of the writing group, and then the writing circle that I’ve been involved with.

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

That writing for children is easy or that the author doesn’t have to be so careful with research/planning and so on. For the most part, children’s books are ‘filtered’ by adults, so sloppy or patronising writing won’t be acceptable. Children are also quite discerning readers. I’ve had a class from a junior school, together with some individuals, read the manuscripts to ensure that I was ‘hitting the mark’ with my ‘Ben’ series. An additional benefit from this has been engaging with the children as I’ve been invited into schools to talk to them, not just about my books, but about the process of writing and publishing.

Ben and the Spider Gate by [Fish, Angela]

What inspires you?

I find inspiration all around me. I love to watch the changing of the seasons and the different species of birds, insects and flowers, plus the changes to the trees, that each one brings. I also love watching (and listening to) people when I’m out and about! It’s amazing how a simple statement or a conversation can be developed into a storyline, plot or poem. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and I think that, even though I can’t possibly remember every book I’ve read, some part of each one has left an imprint and influences what I write. As a child I was fascinated with magic and with mythical creatures and tales. Writing for children allows me to recreate that sensation of the wonder of the ‘unreal’ and place it in the real world. I can only hope that my own stories might engender in others the same sense of delight in the written word, and encourage children to explore and develop their own creative activities.

What inspired you to write this first novel for children?

As I mentioned, I was part of a writing group and we were experimenting with different genres – stretching ourselves really, as it’s easy to become stuck in the same groove. We agreed to try writing for children and I completed two shorter (picture) books – one non-fiction and one fiction. Then we used story cubes (dice) as prompts for character and plot for the first chapter of a longer piece of work. The two images that came up were an open padlock and a triangle shape, but with wiggly lines rather than straight ones. Most of the group interpreted the shape as a pyramid or a tent but it immediately reminded me of a doodle that I’ve been drawing on the corners of pages since I was a teenager. It’s a partial cobweb with a spider dangling from it.

Once that thought had come into my head, I couldn’t shift it and so the basis of the story line developed. The padlock gave rise to the spider’s name (Lox) but also to the idea of his role as gate-keeper to the spider kingdom. The plot uses the traditional motif of a quest, but with a twist. I completed the first chapter and as I had such positive feedback from the group, I decided to finish it. Considering that I spent the last ten years of my working life in the intergenerational field, it’s not surprising that the main character, Ben, and his grandmother have such a close relationship, but this evolved as I was writing the book – it wasn’t a specific intention when I began.

Ben and the Spider Prince by [Fish, Angela]

How much planning do you do when you embark on a new story?

I don’t make really specific plans but I generally have the story outline, and sometimes quite a bit of detail, in my head before I even put pen to paper. I like to talk to my characters and even role-play their parts. I do plan things like time sequences, for example, as I have to make sure that I don’t make mistakes or create something that isn’t believable. I’ve also had to bear in mind that two of my main characters are seven years old so there are many places they wouldn’t be able to go, or things they couldn’t do, at that age. Although there’s a magical element to the stories, they do have a basic everyday setting, so I have ensure that it is realistic.

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

Absolutely. I’ve been so fortunate that the publishers introduced me to Michael Avery who has done the illustrations for all three books. He totally understood my concept of the characters, the settings (in both the real and the magical worlds), and has added a whole new dimension to the books that the children I’ve spoken to have totally embraced.

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

My first search was for publishers who were accepting unsolicited manuscripts. Then I looked for some more detailed information about each company and at their terms of submission. The main thing that influenced me to submit to the Book Guild was that they asked for the whole manuscript right away and they guaranteed to respond more quickly than many others, which they did.

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

My career path has not been a straight one! I started my working life as a medical research technician in a local hospital. I stayed there for about six years by which time I had married and was expecting my first son. At that time there was no maternity leave – women had to give up their jobs! For the next eight years I was a stay-at-home mum with my two sons, then I returned to work. I joined the Polytechnic of Wales – again as a laboratory technician, but in electrical engineering. Following this I undertook administrative work for the Faculty but I knew I wanted something more. I did ‘A’ level English Literature in one year via my local adult education college (evening class) and then applied, as a mature student, to enter the Humanities degree programme at the polytechnic (later – the University of Glamorgan). After I completed my degree, and then an M.Phil., I stayed at the university as a lecturer, then senior/principal lecturer over a period of 15 years. One major role (which has obviously influenced my first series) was the implementation of a project which brought together younger and older people (in a school environment) to improve intergenerational communication and relationships. Restructuring of my department would have meant a big upheaval so I opted for early retirement – the best thing I ever did! As I mentioned above, this was where the real opportunity and incentive for writing began.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I read anything and everything. At one time I was really into the crime/forensic genre; another time it was historical fiction. I would also not allow myself to put down a book until I finished it – it seemed like a disservice to the author, but these days I have learned that my time is important too, and if an author hasn’t done enough to capture my interest by, at least, chapter three, then maybe that book is not for me. I have a circle of friends (not necessarily writers) who are avid readers and we often share books. This means that I read things that I would not, necessarily, have chosen for myself, but it has had many positive outcomes and I’d recommend this avenue of book ‘choice’!

How do you find or make time to write?

I find it impossible to have a set time for writing each day. I know that this works for lots of writers, but I guess I’m just not disciplined enough! However, when I do create that space to write, I can often achieve anything up to seven thousand words in a day (that’s an eight to ten-hour writing day). Of course, like any writer, I might discard/edit a fair proportion of this, but it works for me. I don’t want to feel that I have to write, but that I want to write. If it ever became a chore, then I’d stop and simply read.

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

The publishing team set out where they’d market but also asked for local information. That’s where I’ve focused my attention, on the whole. I’ve approached local schools and have given readings/done workshops, together with appearing at fetes and book fayres. It can be a slow process as I find it hard to ‘sell’ my own books to children so I just give them the publicity postcards (that the publishers produce) to take home to their parents. Obviously, it takes a lot of time and effort (as a ‘new’ author, I haven’t been charging for these sessions) but I’m happy to try to create a presence, and to promote my first series, at the moment.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

For the ‘Ben’ series, I could see Emma Thompson as Gran. It’s not exactly a ‘Nanny McPhee’ role, but her portrayal of that character immediately brought her to mind. As for Ben or Jess, I really don’t know. I love the little girl who does the ‘Oreo’ adverts and the boy who does the advert for mortgages (‘so they could have me’!) but I’m not really up to date with child actors at the moment!  We can but dream.

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

I totally embrace modern technology but I do worry that the ‘art’ of writing is slowly being eroded. When children ask me how I begin writing my books, I’m completely honest and I tell them ‘With a pencil and paper’. Those first few sentences are always magical for me, and I’m always excited as I see the page fill up. I try to convey this sense of wonder to anyone that I work with and I sincerely hope that, as technology advances, we don’t lose sight of the true meaning of the ‘written’ word.

Links to find Angela;




Links to buy Angela’s wonderful books









Today With Wendy White

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve cross-examined interviewed Rebecca Bryn:, Thorne Moore: , Matt Johnson: , Christoph Fischer: , Sally Spedding:, Wendy Steele: ,Kathy MIles: , Carol Lovekin:, Colin R Parsons: , Lisa Shambrook:  ,Alex Martin: ,  Judith Arnopp: , Sharon Tregenza:    Juliet Greenwood: , Nigel Williams: , Julie McGowan: , John Nicholl:   and Tony Riches:  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me:  Over the next week or two I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors. I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance and who will be giving short talks and may be able to give advice to would-be authors: ,   and ,

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

Today  I introduce Wendy White

wendy white


Hi, Wendy, good to be chatting with you today.

 It’s great to be here, Judith

When did you start writing?

I joined a writing class run by Swansea University around ten years ago when my youngest child started secondary school. I was working as a supply teacher and had some time on my hands – and I was probably feeling a little redundant in the ‘mothering’ department. I’d enjoyed writing as a child, filling notebook after notebook with my stories, and even as an adult I always had plenty of make-believe rolling around in my head. But once I was grown up I never seemed to find the time to write anything down. Joining the class, and the homework we were set, gave me a reason to write, and I soon found I loved it. I still use some of the pieces I wrote back then as a basis for my writing now. And I made some wonderful writer friends too.


What genre of books do you write?

I’ve written two children’s books that are published by Pont at Gomer Press – ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’

Wendy hasn’t said much about her books so I’ve added the blurb here:

Life is full of surprises when you’re five years old. Betsi Wyn is trying out lots of things – school dinners, concerts, pirate parties and all for the very first time. That’s when it’s good to have friends. Like Emyr Rhys, who knows about Welsh cakes and clog dancing. And Mam-gu …who knows about everything else! This delightful collection of stories about Betsi Wyn and Emyr Rhys by new author Wendy White explores the world of early childhood. Emyr Rhys’s Welsh cake recipe and Betsi Wyn’s version of Hen Fenyw Fach Cydweli add to the fun in this captivating book for parents and children.

and ‘Three Cheers for Wales’

 And the blurb is here:

Emyr Rhys and Betsi Wyn are back! Between cheering for Wales and cheering up Da-cu, days out with Mam-gu and dressing up like a frog, they have plenty to keep them busy and amused! Exciting times – and funny moments – fill these five new stories for young readers by award-winning author, Wendy White, with humorous illustrations by Helen Flook.

 What age group are the books aimed at?

My books are aimed at 4-8 year-olds and each one has five contemporary tales about friends Betsi Wyn and Emyr Rhys. Their grandparents feature strongly too. They’re written in English with a sprinkling of Welsh words and have a very strong Welsh flavour. There are stories about school Eisteddfods, a trip to Tenby on the train with Mam-gu, watching Wales play rugby in Cardiff and helping Da-cu make Welsh cakes – all with a liberal dollop of humour.

 Who illustrates the books for you?

They’re illustrated by a wonderful artist, Helen Flook from North Wales.

Any more books on the horizon, Wendy?

I have a third book due out early next year.

What drew you to this genre?

Having been a primary school teacher I guess it was natural that I’d lean towards writing for children. In fact, every job I’ve ever done has been child-related, from my first Saturday job on a market stall selling toys, to a stint working in Mothercare and then at my local children’s library. I’ve been a child-minder too in between teaching jobs. I still enjoy finger painting and making things out of Play-Doh. Perhaps I’ve never really grown up.

What process did you go through to get published?

The first story I sent to Pont Books was one I’d written for my creative writing class.  It was a humorous (or so I hoped) story about a child having dinner in school for the first time. It didn’t meet with success. I’d completely ignored the golden advice that recommends we check what publishers actually publish before sending manuscripts off to them. Pont Books publish stories with a Welsh dimension that celebrate the culture of our country, and my story didn’t have that. Fortunately the editor was kind and told me she enjoyed my writing style, but that she couldn’t accept it as it lacked the Welsh element they were looking for. She encouraged me to rework it and send it to her again. And then, although I appreciated her praise, I did the other thing that an aspiring author really shouldn’t do – I ignored the editor’s advice, put my story away in a drawer and forgot about it. It took me five years to realise that I could rewrite my story giving it a Welsh flavour – quite literally as it was a tale about food.

By the time I sent off the revised version, there was a new editor in place. Thankfully she too liked my style. However it still wasn’t plain sailing. I’d imagined that what I’d written would become a picture book but didn’t realise that a publisher was unlikely to pay out for a fully illustrated book by a first-time author. While the editor liked my story, she said she needed another four to make a ‘chapter’ book. Fortunately by that time I had plenty more ideas for my characters, Betsi Wyn and Emyr Rhys, and was able to send them to her. The final surprise for me was when my editor told me the book would take two years to be published. So in total I’d spent seven years, off and on, getting ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’ out there. By contrast, my second book was written and published in one year.

How do you market your books?

A very good question. When I was writing my first book, I didn’t give a thought to how I would actually sell it – I naively thought the publisher would take care of all that. While I do get a lot of support from the lovely marketing people at Pont who supply me with posters, banners, flyers etc., I quickly discovered that books don’t sell themselves – well, mine don’t anyway! I was fortunate that I had coverage in the local press when my first book came out, and again when it won a Welsh book award, the Tir nan ’Og, in 2014. I visit schools and libraries and arrange book-signings at WHSmiths, Waterstones and indie bookshops around Wales. And this year I’m going to be involved in some book fairs – Tenby is the first, and I’m really looking forward to it. (and we’ll be happy to see Wendy with us!)

Although in the beginning I was very nervous about talking to people about my books, I now really enjoy doing book-related events. Meeting lots of different people and chatting about writing is, for me, one of the perks of being an author. And it’s very rewarding when a child tells you how much they’ve enjoyed your book.

What else have you written?

Alongside my children’s books I’ve written some short stories which have been included in the anthologies of my wonderfully supportive and talented writers’ group, Llanelli Writers’ Circle. I’ve been lucky enough to have a story short-listed for the Colm Tóibín International Award and to also have the start of my young adult manuscript highly commended in the Winchester Writers’ Festival competition this year. I occasionally write poems and a few years ago won Swansea and District Writers’ Group’s first national poetry competition.

I’m also working on a novel for adults about what happens when a five-year-old boy is returned to the care of his drug-addicted teenage mother – a bit of a departure for me from my cheerful children’s stories.

Who are your favourite authors and what are you reading at the moment?

Jo Verity’s ‘Left and Leaving’ which I’m thoroughly enjoying. Before starting that I read Carol Lovekin’s ‘Ghostbird’ which is wonderful and really hard to put down. I love reading and enjoy a range of genres. I read lots of children’s and young adult books, too. Authors I keep returning to are Emma Donoghue, Ian Rankin, Colm Tóibín, Roddy Doyle, Sally Spedding, Belinda Bauer – the list could go on. I was recently at the Llandeilo Book Fair and bought novels by Kate Glanville, Sharon Tregenza and John Thompson and thoroughly enjoyed them all. If I could spend all of my spare cash on books and my whole day reading, I would!

Where can we buy your books?

‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’ and ‘Three Cheers for Wales’, costing £4.99 each, are stocked in most branches of WHSmith and Waterstones in Wales, and in lots of Welsh independent book stores too. Online they’re available from Amazon and Gomer Press directly. And, of course, I’ll be selling them at Tenby Book Fair on Saturday, 24 September.

Find Wendy here: 




 Buying links:

Welsh Cakes and Custard

 Three Cheers for Wales:

 Amazon .com:

 Welsh Cakes and Custard:

 Three Cheers for Wales: