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                                              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?

EXTRACT

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.

 BUY LINKS

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US


KateFrostHeadShot

ABOUT KATE FROST

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.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katefrostauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kactus77

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7131734.Kate_Frost

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katefrostauthor/

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/104783514144778238847/about/p/pub

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-frost-29976041?trk=hp-identity-name

Blog: http://kate-frost.co.uk/index.php/blog/

Website: http://kate-frost.co.uk/

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Today with Eloise Williams

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 looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks.

So far I’ve cross-examined interviewed 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 , 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  and David Thorpe: http://bit.ly/2a9uG0V . And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  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: http://honno.co.uk/ ,http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/   and  http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/ ,

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  introduce Eloise Williams

Eloise5

 

 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:

http://www.eloisewilliams.com/

https://twitter.com/Eloisejwilliams

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2atpR2e

http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/node/181

 

Today With Angela Fish

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 looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve cross-examined interviewed 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 , 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:  and Wendy White: http://bit.ly/29TMCpY   And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  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: http://honno.co.uk/ , http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/   and  http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/ ,

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  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;

Website: http://www.angela-fish.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/angelaEfish

Facebook:    http://bit.ly/2a9Z73Z

Links to buy Angela’s wonderful books

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2aiza4t

www.bookguild.co.uk

Cambriapublishing.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today With Wendy White

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 looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve cross-examined interviewed 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 , 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   and Tony Riches:   http://bit.ly/29y3a8k:  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  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: http://honno.co.uk/ , http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/   and  http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/ ,

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 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: 

 FaceBook: http://bit.ly/29GiikW

 Twitterhttp://bit.ly/29Gk99b

YouTube: http://bit.ly/29B5Hh6

 Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk

Welsh Cakes and Custardhttp://amzn.to/29SwV5A

 Three Cheers for Wales: http://amzn.to/2acLy2s

 Amazon .com:

 Welsh Cakes and Custard:  http://amzn.to/29RiLTu

 Three Cheers for Wales:      http://amzn.to/29VoCp7

 

 

 

My Review of A Most Reluctant Princess by Jean M Cogdell for #RBRT

 

 

This  book was given to me,  as a member of #RBRT,  by the author in return for a fair review.

I gave A Most Reluctant Princess 4* out of 5*

The Blurb:

How can she be a princess if her daddy’s not a king? What will she be when she grows up? Written in simple rhyme, this story is filled with sweet illustrations of a “little princess” with a big imagination and a lot of questions. Little girls who love playing dress up will enjoy hearing how one “little princess” discovers a world of possibilities.

 My review:

I read this book with my six year old granddaughter who  is sitting with me to make sure I write what she says (her words.)

 Okay, here goes. Seren enjoyed this book very much. She likes the pictures (illustrations) and  she loves the story. She likes the idea that she can be anything she wants to be when she is bigger. (which is what her mummy says to her) . And she runs to the door when Daddy (or Mummy, she adds) comes home from work.

My thoughts (she’s gone now, satisfied I’ve written the right words):

I too loved the illustrations,(which are excellent and tell a story in themselves) and I liked the premise of this picture story book, though, in this format,  obviously written for an American readership. (would be an idea to alter a few words for a UK readership and publish in the UK? – just a thought)

 Picture story books are very close to poetry in many ways. One of the most important 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. If not then the tendency is to stumble over the lines, which spoils the flow. In A Most Reluctant Princess, not every verse/ page works. Most do, but one or two don’t   (I’m thinking of the second  “bakery” page here in particular – and the second “Doctor” page)

 And, occasionally the rhyming isn’t quite there.

Turning the pages to see what happens next seems to be important for children in picture story books. So , often there are connecting words ” And/But /So.”Or often those three little dots – the ellipses. Not being any in  A Most Reluctant Princess,I  felt the story to be  a little disjointed.

But these  last few paragraphs are obviously an  adult point of view.   And, to be fair, I should say I teach creative writing and picture story books are an included genre.

So, as a last word, I  will leave it to the expert, who has just bounced back into the room. ‘ A Most Reluctant Princess is a lovely story with lovely pictures. And will you make me a crown, Nanna?’

Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/29v9Nbb

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/29v9xcj

 

Today With Julie McGowan

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 looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed 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 , 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   and Alys Einion:  http://bit.ly/29l5izl And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  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: http://honno.co.uk/ , http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/   and  http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/ ,

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 introduce Julie McGowan; a truly prolific author.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Hi Julie, Good to see you here today to chat about your writing

 Hi Judith, pleased to be here… and happy to share.

Right, tell me, please, why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

My two novels set in Wales are both historical fiction set in the first half of the twentieth century. It’s a period of time that has always fascinated me, particularly how people lived through two world wars and still manage to do all the normal things like fall in love and get married etc.

The Mountains Between

Just One More Summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also write contemporary fiction, not set in Wales, and switch between the two as the mood takes me.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I read from an early age – not much on the telly then! Also, I was involved in amateur dramatics through our chapel from childhood and that inspired me to weave stories.

How long have you been writing?

Over 20 years

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

Novels, commercial short stories for women’s magazines, features for national publications, pantomimes, sketches for adults and children, songs.

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

I think it widens people’s horizons and enables them to experience situations and places that they may never come across in their lives. I think this is particularly important for children, and get quite cross when publishers etc think children’s books should only reflect the lives children lead. Very pleased J. K. Rowling ignored that!

How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?

‘Don’t Pass Me By’ includes some scathing reflections on the narrowness there used to be in some Welsh village chapels. I’m a practising Christian, but firmly believe that everyone should be allowed to follow their own spiritual path and not be weighed down by church dogma from any faith.

Don't Pass Me By

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

I wanted to remind people that the movement of evacuee children during WW2 didn’t always have the  happy ending we like to glorify when these times are looked back on with rather rose-coloured glasses. I also wanted to show the difference between how children were treated then, and how our helicopter-parenting style today can be overprotective. I think I’ve achieved both objectives.

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

My research was rather solitary, but after the book was published I was contacted by a lady in her 80s who wanted to share her harrowing experience of being an evacuee. Her story was more amazing than anything I’d written! But the message she wanted to give me was that she wasn’t destroyed by her experience and that life can turn around – she was just brilliant.

What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?

I read books about first hand accounts of evacuees from South Wales, and used the internet, particularly the BBC history website.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Portraying elements of child sexual abuse that makes the reader understand the emotional turmoil the child is going through whilst not making the actual abuse too graphic.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Feeling I’d succeeded with the hardest parts as outlined above!

What inspires you?

Listening to ‘ordinary’ people talking about their lives

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

By not being scared to take chances and change direction – which could be construed as blind optimism!

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

The much under-rated, in my view, Monica Dickens, and Elizabeth Jane Howard, both of whom succeeded in building wonderful stories around everyday people and multi-stranded novels. They helped me to look at the subtleties of human behaviour and made me want to express those subtleties in short, often oblique descriptions or sentences.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

Most useful was writing a weekly column for a local paper which had to have a strict word count, so I learned how to edit my work and make it ‘less is more’. Least useful were some of the rejections from agents rather than publishers, who seemed to enjoy a critical put-down rather than a polite ‘no thanks’.

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

Part time, which occasionally makes it difficult to get back under the skin of a character.

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

Nurse, health visitor, school matron, town clerk, actress, theatre-in-education director to name but a few. Health visiting in particular I think increased my empathy and understanding of family dilemmas and I think has helped me to describe characters’ emotions.

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

I think there is a place for eBooks but they will never replace the feel of a print book in one’s hands and the anticipation of turning to that first page… Alternative publishing, when done well, can challenge conventional publishing, as long as it’s well edited.

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

I had already had two books produced by the same publisher, so this book was already agreed. For my first book I went through the usual tortuous process of trying to find an agent or publisher and in the end worked my way through the list of publishers who would accept unsolicited manuscripts.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

It’s a page-turning story, with a number of characters that resonate with the readers, and has a strong emotional content, set in a turbulent time, but in a beautiful place.

How do you find or make time to write?

I try to carefully portion out my week to include writing time amongst my other commitments, but it often goes wrong!

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

I have a story and main characters in my head, and know how I want it to begin and end. Then I write, and often change the flow of the story as other characters work their way in, but the main plot ends the way I envisaged.

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

I do numerous book signings, talks, writing classes, book fairs and festivals. They do take up some time but are invaluable for meeting people and getting my name known – and often give me ideas for new characters!

What do you like to read in your free time?

Predominantly novels but of no particular genre – whatever intrigues me.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’ve just finished my latest novel so am doing a final edit.

What do your plans for future projects include?

One of my books has been published in Germany, so my publisher is trying to get rights sold in other European countries. I may start another novel after the summer, once this year’s panto has been written, which has to be ready by September.

And my favourite for dealing with popular authors who’ve already done a lot of interviews: What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Write it out here, then answer it.

Question: Who is your favourite character in ‘Don’t Pass Me By’

Answer: It has to be Arfur, the young lad from the East End who finds it so hard to settle in a small Welsh village, and is so determinedly loyal to his good-time Mum, even in the face of all the evidence that she has deserted him. Once I’d got his character established I wanted to take  him home with me!

 

Find Julie here:http://amzn.to/29s1o9u

 

Today With Juliet Greenwood

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 looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed 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 , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons: http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G and Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  and Alex Martin:  http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl  and Sharon Tregenza: http://bit.ly/29frGPq  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  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: http://honno.co.uk/ , http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/   and  http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/ ,

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 chatting with the lovely author Juliet Greenwood, fellow Honno author and friend who writes the most wonderful books,

 Juliet and hat small

 

Welcome, Juliet. Great to see you here today. and love the hat by the way

 Why, thank you Judith, and it’s good to be here.

So, let’s get going, tell me … why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I am published by Honno Press, and write historical novels, mainly set in the Victorian/Edwardian eras, which move between Cornwall, Wales and London. There is always a big house and a mystery to be solved, and plenty of drama along the way, so they are along the lines of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore.

I’ve chosen to write in this genre as I’m fascinated by the lives of women in those periods, especially the way things were changing, and the battles for the independence we take for granted today. So much of women’s lives have been forgotten, particularly how active they were, and how many campaigns they fought and won, despite having no legal existence for most of this period.

My first book ‘Eden’s Garden’ was a time-shift, with a mystery set between contemporary and Victorian times. I really enjoyed the challenge of writing a time-shift, so I’m hoping to be working on another timeshift mystery soon. I enjoy the challenge of moving between two times.

eden's_garden_cover:Layout 1

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I was a bookworm as a child, who loved stories. My mum loved reading, so she always inspired me to try new things. She encouraged me to absorb the classics, which gave me a great background. It started a lifelong love affair with reading and writing!

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? .

I started researching ‘The White Camellia’, to be published by Honno this September, thinking that the background would be that of the suffragettes, but I soon came across the far less well-known suffrage movement, which was a revelation.

 

white camellia

The suffrage movement included both men and women who fought alongside each other for over fifty years for every citizen over the age of 21 to have the vote. Although a small number of men had the vote at the start of the campaign, this wasn’t achieved for either men or women until 1928. The women and men of the suffrage movement used democratic tactics, civil disobedience and persuasion. It also fought for equal employment rights for men and women, and won endless battles to give women legal rights, including to keep their earnings and property, and to keep their children in the case of divorce.

Although they didn’t resort to violence, they were brave and resourceful, especially when you consider that at the beginning of their campaign women had no legal existence at all. I think what I found most fascinating about the suffrage movement was that it showed women taking on those in power on their own terms and out-manoeuvring and outwitting them at every turn, using rational arguments (and a bit of clever publicity) to achieve many of the freedoms we take for granted today.

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

I think the biggest misconception about the genre is that it’s always rich women floating around in nice houses, solving a bit of a mystery and probably finding a few pearls and Mr Darcy along the way. The greatest misconception about the struggle for the vote is that it was always violent – and that it was only about the women. In fact, most men in Victorian times also did not have the vote, and it was only the last few years when the violence erupted – and that was only after parliament, thanks to the work of the suffrage movement, had twice voted for women to have the vote.

I find that setting a story in the past can also be a way of exploring dilemmas that are universal and we still experience today. I feel the past can give more distance, so can give more freedom to explore experiences. As well as the role of women in politics, one of the main threads of the story in ‘The White Camellia’ is a character who takes the perfect revenge, with the most terrible and unexpected consequences – and that’s a story that could take place at any time.

What inspires you?

Primarily the untold stories of women. The more I learn, the clearer it becomes that so much of women’s achievements and experiences have not been told. Before I researched ‘We That are Left, I had no idea women worked on the front line in the First World War, often under fire, and were even given medals, as well as working as spies behind enemy lines. Although it’s now changing, too often women are still seen as passive victims, trailing behind their men, rather than being incredibly resourceful and resilient and worthy of taking centre stage. A love story is important – but there is so much more to women’s lives as well, including huge moral dilemmas, a need to live a fulfilled life, and the deep human need for self-determination.

 

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

Working hard, always reading, writing and learning – and never giving up! I’ve also tried to find jobs that allow me time and head space to write, which means I’ve never followed a conventional career path. It’s felt a bit scary at times, but I love what I do, and so it definitely feels it’s been worth it.

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

I’m a part-time writer at the moment. I earn most of my living as an academic proofreader. I work freelance to try and organise my life to do as much writing as possible. I enjoy the work, and it’s taught me to be precise in the use of language, and it’s definitely extended my vocabulary. The downside is never having enough time to write the next book while editing and doing publicity. It can be very frustrating at times, but I also feel it’s given me the freedom to develop as a writer.

For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?

There are some excellent books on the subject of the suffrage movement, these are some of the best introductions:

Margaret Forster                                               Significant sisters

Lucinda Hawksley                                           March Women, March

Melanie Phillips                                                The Ascent of Woman

How do you find or make time to write?

I get up about six each morning (weekends included!) to get my ‘day’ job done, which frees up as much of the day as possible. I try to have a set time for writing, but being freelance with strict deadlines that doesn’t always work. I walk my dog for a couple of hours each day, which I use as thinking time (just as valuable as writing time). I try to be strict about not spending too much time on social media (I have a room in the house that is a wifi free zone). I also try not to get sucked into series on TV (the Great British Bake Off and Sewing Bee don’t count!) and watch as little as possible, (except when I’m very tired and just want to switch off after a long day proofreading and writing, when I don’t want to see another word in front of me, and hanging out the brain to dry on the secret life of kittens just hits the spot). My friends know that I’ve sacrificed housework, except on a strictly necessary basis (like when expecting a plumber), and love me all the same.

MEDIA LINKS

 ‘We That Are Left’, Honno Press, 2014

The Welsh Books Council’s Book of the Month, March 2014

The National Museum of Wales Book of the Month, March 2014

Waterstones Wales Book of the Month March, 2014

Amazon Kindle #4 May 2014

http://www.amazon.co.uk/That-Are-Left-Juliet-Greenwood/dp/190678499X

 

‘Eden’s Garden’, Honno Press, 2012

Finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’, May 2014

Amazon Kindle #5 June 2014

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Edens-Garden-Juliet-Greenwood/dp/1906784353

 

Website:          http://www.julietgreenwood.co.uk/

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

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

Twitter:            https://twitter.com/julietgreenwood