Today With Sarah Jane Butfield

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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?

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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.

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

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

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

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What book/s are you reading at present?

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

Who designed your book cover/s?

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

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

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

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

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

Which social network worked best for you?

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

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Websites:

http://www.sarahjanebutfield.com/

http://www.rukiapublishing.com/

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

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

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

Connect with Sarah Jane on social media:

Twitter

@SarahJanewrites

@SJButfield

@GlassHalfFullTM

@TwoDogsMemoir

@FrugalSummer

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahJaneButfield

www.facebook.com/Twodogsandasuitcase

www.facebook.com/OurFrugalSummerinCharente

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

Blogs:

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

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

Amazon Author Page:

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

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

 

Today With Kathy Miles

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 months. 

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  and Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci. and Wendy Steele:  http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i  and Graham Watkins: http://bit.ly/1UMLvLN  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me today: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors and I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance. There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

 

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Kathy Miles whose work has appeared in many anthologies and magazines. She was the 2015 winner of the Bridport Poetry Prize.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? 

I am primarily a poet, but also write short fiction pieces, drama, and non-fiction. The disciplines required for each genre are very different, but also exhilarating, and I enjoy the challenges involved in writing out of my main genre area. I think I was initially drawn to poetry as a means of expression because of an overwhelming love of words…I’m  just as happy browse-reading a dictionary or thesaurus as a novel. I particularly like exploring their etymology, how the meanings of words have changed over the centuries. So many wonderful words have fallen into disuse, or their meanings changed completely from the original: in these cases, it’s not only the words which are lost, but their associated cultural mores. I always work with a range of  dictionaries and thesauri on my desk, many of them published prior to 1950, and find it exciting when I can trace a word back to a meaning quite different from its contemporary usage. I love playing with words, as well as with the various structures and rhythms of a poem, and I think this is why I write mainly in this genre: for me, what I can do with the words is very satisfying.

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

My parents read to me when I was little: there was always a bedtime story, and the house was full of books. My father was a part-time writer, and I would go into his study and read whatever I could lay my hands on. He worked as a clerk in the local government offices, and was paid monthly. I remember that whenever he got his salary (in one of those little brown folded envelopes) he would go to the bookshop on the way home and buy me a new book. My mother had no literary aspirations, but she read magazines avidly, so along with the books, I grew up on Womens’ Own, Womens’ Weekly and The Readers’ Digest, which in those days always published a good range of short fiction in their pages.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I could hold a pen. I have drawerfuls of poems and stories I wrote as a child, the earliest being from when I was about five. There was no specific reason for it: it was just something I always did, and which I never questioned. Other people took part in sport, went swimming, drew pictures or made things, and I wrote.

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

I’m very careful to research each poem thoroughly. When I’m writing I use resources which would normally include subject-specific databases and web sources as well as hard copy books, encyclopaedias, dictionaries and thesauri. I have a massive Dictionary of Mythology which is pretty much falling apart at the seams!

 

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What do you think most characterises your writing?

I write a great deal about the landscape: living in a rural area is a huge privilege. I have badgers visiting my garden at night, dragonflies skimming over my pond, and the sight of mountains and the sea in the distance, so it would be hard not to write about these things. But I dislike the idea that writers should be put into specific genres, and so I wouldn’t describe myself as a ‘landscape poet’ because that would be to ignore all the other things I write about. What I would hope characterizes my writing is the truth of what I am trying to convey: but that, of course, is for others to decide!

Links to Kathy’s books.

Amazon.co.uk:

Gardening With Deer: http://amzn.to/1XTUa3i

The Shadow House: http://amzn.to/236LaHk

Amazon.com:

The Shadow House:http://amzn.to/1tnREoA

 

Today I’m Really Pleased to be Chatting with author, Kristina Stanley

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Please introduce yourself:

Judith, Thank you for hosting me today. I’m the author of The Stone Mountain Mystery Series. DESCENT was published July 2015 by Imajin Books (www.Imajinbooks.com). BLAZE is scheduled for publication this fall. And if I’m lucky, I’ll be offered a contract for AVALANCHE in 2016.

What first inspired you to start writing?

My degree is Computer Mathematics. I love adventure and am a very social person. So writing a novel, where you spend hours upon hours indoors, alone…I have no idea what I was thinking. If I had to pinpoint one moment of inspiration, I would say when I read MOONLIGHT BECOMES YOU by Mary Higgins Clark. My thought was I’d like to make people forget about their troubles for a while and be immersed in a story, just like this book did for me.

Tell us about your new book.

Death on the slopes can happen at any moment and still, speed is everything to an alpine racer. Olympic skiers attack a run at speeds in excess of 80 mph. The characters in DESCENT demand speed, and this demand causes injury and death.

Racers have specialized technicians who follow them on the World Cup circuit, striving to give each skier an advantage, to squeeze out that extra bit of speed from the equipment. The technicians file and wax multiple skis for each skier, always busy trying to give their athlete an edge over others. Resorts inject a run to turn the slope into a skating rink. Everyone wants to cross the finish line first. But at what cost?

You’ll have to read DESCENT to find out.

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What facets of your life, both personal and professional, are woven into your book, if any? 

One day, my heart broke. My beautiful Labrador Retriever, Chica, was diagnosed with cancer. She died three weeks later. I had no idea how much losing her would hurt. So as a tribute to her, she has a key role in all three Stone Mountain mysteries.

My grandmother died before I met her. She had one green and one brown eye. To make her part of my life, I gave my protagonist, Kalin Thompson, the same eyes.

Those are the only two real facets of my life included in the novels.

I worked as the director of security, human resources and guest services at a ski resort in British Columbia, Canada. I used the expertise I gained from that job as research for my novels. The stories are made up, as in a racer was not murdered while I was the director of security, but I did use the ski resort as my muse.

You’re a fly on the wall when readers are discussing your book.  What would you hope to hear them say about it?

I would love it if people said, “I couldn’t put it down.”

What single piece of advice would you give new authors?

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you not to write. This is a long and hard journey, but so worth it. Someone once told me it’s the persistent authors who make it. I believe that.

 Describe where you do most of your writing. What would I see if I was sitting beside you?

You would see me sitting on my couch, legs stretched out in front of me, computer on my lap, and Farley tucked between me and the back of the couch. Farley is my wheaten terrier, and he loves to put his head on my keyboard if I don’t pay enough attention to him. I’ve learned to type and pet him at the same time.

My view is of the ski hill. Sometimes a deer will walk passed my side door. The 8-point buck is my favourite.

I never write at a desk because I feel like I’m at work and my imagination won’t flow.

What’s your motto or favourite quote you like to live by?

Time’s fun when you’re having flies – Kermit the Frog.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us in closing such as your website, an imminent book launch or what you’re working on presently?

DESCENT is the first in the Stone Mountain Mystery series. The series takes place in an isolated mountain resort in the depths of the Purcell mountain range in British Columbia.

With all the forest fires this season, BLAZE, the second in the Stone Mountain Series deals with a current Canadian and American issue. Of course, BLAZE is a mystery and arson is the crime, but this time it looks like Kalin Thompson is the target. BLAZE is scheduled for release before the end of 2015 by Imajin Books.

The third in the series, AVALANCHE, has Kalin Thompson searching for a thief, struggling to prove her brother is innocent of a major theft. Unfortunately for Kalin, her brother disappears hours after the theft and is the prime suspect.

REQUEST FOR READER ASSISTANCE: I’m writing the fourth in the series. A business partner of Kalin’s is murdered while driving his ATV on a mountain trail. He’s forced into a frothing river… My problem with the fourth is I have to stop calling it “the fourth.” I need a title. If you have any suggestions for a title that fits with DESCENT, BLAZE and AVALANCHE, please leave a comment below.

I’m sure someone will contact you with a brilliant idea for a title, Kirstina. But for now, I’d like to say thank you so much for chatting with me today. Now, where can people find you?

I love to connect with people on-line. I can be found at: www.KristinaStanley.com

Follow me on twitter, let me know you read this blog and I’ll follow you back.

Or comment on my Facebook page

If you’re interested you can buy DESCENT or download a sample at: myBook.to/Descent

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with author Catherine Marshall

Quick introduction, please.

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I’m Catherine Marshall, born in Birmingham, now living in Lancashire.  Author of two romantic novels, many short stories and three psychological thrillers.  Married, two grown-up children.  Worked largely in education teaching English and Drama.

What first inspired you to start writing?

I’d always written little stories as a child.  Then during the summer holidays when I was eleven, I complained to my mum that I was bored.  She said, Why don’t you write a book?  I did.  It was about a family of seven children and called The Ravenscrofts.  I illustrated it too.  Horrendous.  While I was a teenager I wrote short stories to entertain my friends, then while I was at college I began selling short stories to Jackie magazine.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.  When I’m writing is the only time I really feel like me.  That, and wanting to entertain people with great stories.

Why do you write?

To give voice to the ideas and characters in my head.  Because I love telling stories.

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

I never thought I was writing genre fiction.  I thought I was just writing books.  Then an agent said I was writing ‘suspenseful women’s fiction’, which isn’t much of a leap to psychological thrillers.  I have always preferred that genre as a reader/viewer, so it’s a natural progression, I guess.

What does your writing space look like?

The study at home, a huge old office desk usually stacked with my husband’s Open University course material, photos of our children and my scribbled notes.

Do you ever have writer’s block and what do you do then?

Yes.  Often.  Iron.  Or go for a walk.  It’s usually because I’m approaching something from the wrong angle, so I need to retrace my steps and try to find the right angle.

Do you write full-time or have a day job and write in your spare time?

The latter.  Working in schools has been very useful for all those long holidays!

Are you an Indie or a traditionally published author?

Both.  Years ago I published two novels with Robert Hale and short stories with various magazines.  Now I have three novels available on Amazon Kindle.

Tell us about your new book.

catherine

Still Water is set in a small town in Cornwall and is the story of Jem, who earns her living making jewellery and lives in a cottage on the cliffs with her father Alex, a painter.  She becomes entranced by Gil, an attractive and charming visitor to the town, and believes he can save her from her loneliness and grief.  She is unaware, however, of Gil’s link to the secrets of her own past or that she is setting in motion a chain of events which will lead to tragedy.

What are you working on now?

A novel called Hurt, about the damage people can do to each other, and how we deal with those who hurt us.

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

Publication!  A three-book deal would be nice.

What has been your best moment as a writer?

I’m hoping that’s yet to come.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career?

Having two major publishers seriously interested in buying one of my novels and then both of them changing their minds.  Although having come so close does keep me going.

Who would you most like to read your work (a hero/idol)?

Probably writers whose work I enjoy – Julia Couch, Erin Kelly – and pray they enjoyed it!

What are your three favourite books including the authors?

Impossible to choose just three, but – Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson, The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell and Decade by Jacqueline Briskin.

 A bit of triviality now…

What would ‘living the dream’ be to you?

Living in Cornwall, earning a living from writing.

Who would you cast to play the characters in Still Water in a movie?

Well I did have Aidan Turner in mind when I wrote Gil, but that was before he became an international success as Ross Poldark.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Windmills of my Mind, sung by Alison Moyet.

What makes you laugh?

Playing Articulate with my family, ‘Gavin and Stacey’, my comedy writer and actor friend Eric Potts.

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

Aidan Turner!  My grandmother, who encouraged me in everything and who died when I was ten.  My good friend and fellow writer Thorne Moore.  Billy Connolly.  David Tennant. The author Julia Crouch, who I’ve met and is lovely. Thinking about it, that’s quite a bizarre combination.

Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.

I have no sense of smell.  I hate rice pudding.

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next? And how much time a day do you spend on social media?

Oh, I don’t know.  An hour?  Not usually in one sitting though. And  I’m not sure I do balance it.  I need to crack the whole marketing lark, I think.  It’s still early days for me.  I did take some leaflets to local bookshops and libraries and gained a lot of interest which I need to follow up.  Actually, balancing marketing and writing is not the problem.  Balancing marketing, writing and the day job is the problem.

Please share your social media links with us:

http://on.fb.me/1JLuduW

http://on.fb.me/1Ik0xTm

http://bit.ly/1KPPVMI

Wednesday’s Interview with #Honno Authors: Today With the newest recruit to Honno – author Carol Lovekin

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Honno’s latest find, Carol Lovekin

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Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on or promoting.
Hello, I’m Carol. I’ve lived in mid-Wales since 1979. My novel, Ghostbird will be published by Honno in March 2016. It’s a very exciting time for me. I always hoped that if the book was ever deemed good enough to warrant publication it would be with Honno. I’ve been a fan and a supporter of this unique press for years. I’m currently working on another story set in Wales.

Tell me a little about your writing history/background. What inspired you to write?
I’ve always been inspired to write. My problem has been arrested development – which I’ve suffered from for far too long frankly – and a sense of myself as not quite good enough or ready for publication. I allowed my personal life to get in the way for too long as well. I self-published my first book in 2008 – a venture I now view with mixed feelings although I learned a great deal from the experience.

Where do your ideas come from?
I love this question, even though it’s virtually impossible to answer. It makes me smile because more often than not an idea is ‘a moment’ I can’t necessarily describe. Ideas come when the word birds drop them in your path or leave them on the pillow. Ghostbird began life when I reimagined the Welsh myth of Blodeuwedd from her point of view, as a reclaiming and a feminist issue. When I first read the story, my initial reaction was: why would it be considered a curse to be turned into a bird? What a gift! Blodeuwedd can fly away and escape her fate! From there the story began to take shape in my head. I have no clear memory as to why I decided on a teenage main protagonist. Not the likeliest choice for someone of my age. Cadi arrived one day, fully formed, and I fell for her.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
Before I begin, I like to know as much as possible and create a fairly detailed outline. That said I don’t necessarily stick with the plan. I love it when paths open and characters boss me around or when missed opportunities present themselves.

What genre is your book?
It’s a contemporary ghost story with slivers of magic. Although it’s been suggested it might have YA cross-over potential and would appeal to upper-age teens, essentially, it’s a story for adults with adult themes.

How did you come up with the title of your novel?
In more than one mythology ‘ghostbird’ is another name for the barn owl – which is how Blodeuwedd is often depicted in illustrations for The Mabinogion, the book in which her story originated. The title began life as something entirely different however and the decision to change it was initiated by my editor, the discerning, sharp-eyed and lovely, Janet Thomas. A book cover is about perception and reader appeal. Janet was right about numberless aspects of the book and she was right about the title. As I was able to choose the alternative myself, it wasn’t hard to let go of the original. And in any case, I think having to change the title is a positive thing. It allows me to let go, in preparation for sending the book out into the world. The old title was pre-acceptance; the new one celebrates affirmation.

What has been your best moment as a writer?
Best moments are the ones when someone tells you what you write has touched them. Getting the email from Janet with the news that Honno were going to make me an offer was absolutely a ‘best’ moment!

Do you have a special time to write and how is your day structured?
My stories begin life as random, handwritten pencil notes. I’m not a linear writer and this note-writing process is ongoing. I often write in bed first thing in the morning accompanied by tea. Deciphering and working out where these isolated scraps and scenes fit into the main narrative can be challenging. At times it’s like having a dyslexic spider running round inside my head. I like to be at my computer by or before ten, or as I call it, writing o’clock. I work for at least four hours. When I’m on a roll, I’m disciplined and can self-manage. I swim two mornings a week and after the Wednesday session, hang out in a local café with my talented writing friend, Janey. We feed each other’s brains!

Do you write every day?
Yes, although I don’t necessarily work seven days a week on my current story. The ‘write everyday’ mantra is a stick writers can easily learn to beat themselves with. What matters to me is writing something every day. I write a letter to a friend in America 365 days a year which flexes my writing muscles.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I’m not sure ‘career’ is the right word. I’m seventy-one! I definitely intend to carry on writing. I’ve almost completed draft zero of my next story and I have another one tangled in the edges of my hair.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
I don’t give advice. I do suggest: don’t give up! If you have a story you are passionate about and if you are willing to work hard, take advice, re-write, edit and work some more – and if you’re good enough – you are more likely to succeed.
Who are your favorite authors and what is it that you love about their work?
Top of the list has to be Virginia Woolf. I became mesmerised by her vision in my early twenties and remain fascinated by her writing. Reading her encouraged me to take risks. Although I love her novels, it is her letters and diaries I find most intriguing. I’ve read the major biographies about her life and most of the novels based on it.
Other writers I admire include Edna O’Brien, A S Byatt, Alice Hoffman, Cormac McCarthy, Susan Hill, Doris Lessing, Sebastian Faulks and Elizabeth Von Armin. And I recently discovered the rather splendid, Patrick Gale. Each of these writers possesses the ability to instantly create a doorway through which the reader simply has to step. Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle has the best fictional opening line ever and I reread Jane Eyre every few years. To Kill a Mockingbird would be my Desert Island book. It has everything. I own a lovely collection of books by Joanne Harris – all her adult novels in pretty, hardback editions. She understands authentic magic and knows the spells that makes it probable. All of these writers (and a myriad others) have encouraged me to do as Francine Prose suggests and “read like a writer” in order to maybe learn a few tricks of the trade, from my betters.

Tell me something unusual about yourself.
I overcame my fear of deep water two years ago and I’m now a MerCrone!


What’s your view on social media for marketing?
Used wisely, it’s hugely effective. Twitter in particular, opens doors. I’ve met many generous writers both famously published and on their way, and got to know some of them in real life. I’ve been encouraged and supported and taken care of.

Which social network works best for you?
Twitter for introductions and making contacts. After years away I recently re-joined Facebook, which to my surprise is proving useful too. Social media is like cake. Too much of it makes you sick. Get is right and, as we say in Wales, it’s lush!

Facebook Author page:

The Three Day Quote Challenge:

The Three Day Quote Challenge:

My thanks go to the wonderful Sally Cronin, blogger and writer extraordinaire,  who tagged me in this challenging (for me anyway!) challenge:

Sally G Cronin

Sally’s  blog is https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com
And for more information on her books listed here at Amazon please visit
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books/

Okay, the deal is, you share your favourite quote (even if written by you) and also inspire people.
The Rules:

As always these challenges come with a few provisos and here they are.

Thank the person who nominated you. Share your favourite quotes (even if written by you)  that inspire you and could inspire other people   Pass it on by tagging some poor unsuspecting person  that you admire (bearing in mind you’ll want them to be your friend afterwards. Hah!)  Do we have to post three quotes, or one quote every day for three days? Not sure but mine are all here today…

My Quotes:

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

— John Steinbeck

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“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’

— Toni Morrison

download (8)

And finally: – a list of quotes – just to prove I know who I am, where I belong – and that I’m always right.

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Now I’m tagging the following three lovely ladies – only if they fancy doing this – no pressure – really!!:
Thorne Moore: http://www.thornemoore.co.uk/: Author of the brilliant Honno novels: Time for Silence: http://amzn.to/1TkRFll and Motherlove: http://amzn.to/1gnpnsc. Also available at  http://www.honno.co.uk/

Alex Martin: http://amzn.to/1Co3ItD:  Author of  the excellent Katherine Wheel Books:  Daffodils  http://amzn.to/1JTFdUZ  and Peace Lilt: http://amzn.to/1Mebk26

 Sharon Tregenza: http://bit.ly/1dLEsSf: Author of the superb children’s’ middle grade books: Shiver Stone,  http://amzn.to/1COq01b – also available at http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/ – author of Tarrantula Tide: http://amzn.to/1HfqYpC

And if too busy to accept the challenge, ladies here’s something else for you to take as a thank you. Have a drink on me

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Wednesday’s Interview with #Honno: Today With Caroline Oakley, Editor for Honno

Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with Caroline Oakley, Editor for Honno (and,  by the way, Editor of  two of my Pattern trilogy)  Besides letting us learn a little about herself and her career as an editor, Caroline gives us an insight to Honno. It’s fascinating, I promise.  

Please introduce yourself

Hello, I’m Caroline. I’ve been working in publishing since 1985, after studying English and Drama in London. I’m from Staffordshire, originally, and moved to Wales in 1999. I was taught to read by my librarian mum before I went to school at four…which was just as well because when I got there I had learn all over again through ITA, or the initial teaching alphabet, which was an innovative and not wholly successful 1960s initiative supposed to introduce children to reading and writing before moving on to standard spelling. Some of my fellows never quite got the hang of it! However, once we got back to normal English I throve and my nose hasn’t often been out of a book since.

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What brought you into editing as a career?

An advert in one of those freebie magazines they used to give away outside Tube stations in London… I’d been working in Bond Street for a cosmetics company (though one of my tasks was to buy crime novels for the boss’s wife from Hatchards!) when the opportunity came to move on. I was interviewed by one person but offered a job with another. It was a joy to be paid to read books for a living – rather than pay for books and try to find time to read them outside of work!

Life before Honno?

Ten years at the Centre for Alternative Technology as Publisher of their small list of ground-breaking titles on renewable energy, sustainable water provision and treatment, organic growing etc. Before that, 20 years in London culminating in a position as Editorial Director of Orion Paperbacks editing luminaries such as Ian Rankin, Michael Moorcock and writing cover blurbs for Maeve Binchy.

How long have you been Editor for Honno?

I started part-time in 2005 and full time in 2008 – so around ten years overall, including a year out to do an MA in Creative Writing at Cardiff University (which Honno kindly allowed me to take and then return to my job – a literary sabbatical, if you like). I thought I’d better see if I could ‘do’ it myself having spent decades telling others how to ‘do’ it!

Please tell us about the background of Honno. When and how Honno was founded?

Honno is a mutual and provident society – a non-profit organisation – founded by a group of women interested in promoting Welsh women’s writing to a new audience in the mid-eighties. They began by publishing one book at a time and sold £5 shares in the company to fund their publishing activity. After a couple of successful years they got funding for titles on a book by book basis from the Arts Council of Wales and then, with the founding of the Welsh Books Council, a revenue grant to enable the publication of seven books per year and the employment of permanent staff – as opposed to the volunteers that had begun the Press, who continue to manage the company on a voluntary basis today.

What are the philosophies/principles/objectives of Honno?

To publish great writing, by great women born or living in Wales… The ethos of the founders was to provide a publishing space for Welsh women writing in the English language – and of women of previous generations whose published works had fallen out of print. Also to provide work in publishing for women in Wales. Honno publishes genre and literary fiction and non-fiction; its authors have been awarded prizes and shortlisted by the Crime Writers’ Association, The People’s Book Prize, the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for Best Crime Novel of the year and the Wales Book of the Year among others.

Do writers come to you or do you deal with agents only?

We have an open submissions policy – anyone meeting Honno’s criteria (you must be female and born or living in Wales, or writing work of interest to women in Wales) is able to submit work to Honno year round. This means we still source most of our writers and books through the ‘slush pile’, as it’s known in the trade. In this way we are able to spot talent at an early stage and often work with writers on several titles before they receive an offer to publish. You’ll remember this process well, Judith, as that’s how you came to Honno! As did Thorne Moore – who is now reaching the giddy heights of top ten best-seller for eBooks in trade magazine the Bookseller. We also offer workshops and ‘meet the editor’ mentoring sessions which bring new writers to our attention. On occasion literary agents will send us work and we’re always happy to liaise with them, too. Sometimes I or another Honno member will approach a writer with an idea and commission a title that way.

What advice would you give to a writer about to submit her work to Honno?

Read the submission guidelines on the website carefully – this applies to all submissions to any publisher. Also take a look at the range of books we publish – do we have anything similar on the list in terms of genre or tone? Have you read any of our books and, if so, do you think your work will appeal to our readers? These are the questions a writer should ask herself.

How do you decide that a manuscript is one you can work on?

That’s a tricky question – it depends on the material. I would usually read all of the fifty pages asked for before making a decision. It’s not often I reject something after a glance at only a page or two. I always try to include a tip or two on how to improve the work when I return it, or give a reason for not taking it further. If I like the material, I will either write and ask to see the balance of the book, or perhaps call the author and ask them to meet for a chat about the book and how we might work together. Very rarely I might write with an offer of publication after reading a full manuscript and then discussing it with my colleagues and the Honno Committee.

In the main, I’m looking for a genuine feel for the genre the book is written in, a winning voice, a great sense of place, a twist in the tale; something that makes me want to read on, whether that’s a character, a plot line or beautiful writing – which of those makes it a winner will depend on the sort of story it is.

How do you feel when you first discover a talented author?

Excited! And interested. I want to know how they got here and what motivates them.

Has there ever been a writer whose work you had to reject but who later found great success elsewhere.

Lots of them. There won’t be an editor who can honestly say no to this questions. J K Rowling was turned down many times before a junior editor at Bloomsbury took a punt on her. The same is true for all of us. There are lots of books I offered for and didn’t win, too. You have to concentrate on the ones you won not the ones who got away. I wanted to offer for Lesley Pearse’s first novel, but was told no by my bosses at the time. She didn’t do too shabbily. Another one that got away was Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow.

Does Honno deal only in hard copies of authors’ novel or are they produced in different forms? For example, eBooks, audio books, large print?

Honno publishes across all formats, but some of them, such as large print and audio, are not produced by Honno but by specialist companies who purchase from us the right to publish in that format. All our titles are now published simultaneously as print and digital (or eBook) editions. Our titles are distributed in Wales, the rest of the UK and internationally by a range of established companies in print and eBook. So wherever you are in the world you should have access to Honno titles and great Welsh women’s writing.

How do you see the publishing world progressing?

That’s interesting. I wish I knew…that way we could make a fortune! I don’t think the book as ‘big papery thing’ (to quote Blackadder) will disappear, but the formats might change. It could be that the paperback is priced out by the eBook, but that the hardback remains and becomes much more of an elaborate gift object or beautiful self-purchase. Something like the leather-bound editions the Folio Society has been printing for eons. You might read the ebook, love it and the author and then move to buying beautiful, enhanced hard-cover editions to keep on your shelves and admire, reread. Collector’s editions if you will… After all, lots of people said DVD and video would kill the cinema, but in fact more people now watch films at home and at the cinema than used to when the new formats were released. Perhaps the children growing up today will become a generation of avid short story and serialised fiction readers on their phones and notebooks (don’t forget that Dickens’ classic works of literature began life as serials in the London Daily News). Short fiction has languished in the sales doldrums for some time, as has poetry, but there are now new and growing markets for these genres on-line and for download; their time to shine may be coming round again.

How do you see Honno progressing in the future?

I’d like to see the organisation become financially sustainable – funding can never be truly guaranteed – and growing eBook sales are helping us towards that target. I’d also like to see Honno grow its commissioned non-fiction list: so if any of you out there have a fascinating untold story of a forgotten woman, town or trade from, in or relating to Wales do get in touch! We’re after great stories that demand to be read rather than celebrity biogs. What have you heard about that’s incredible and little known? Honno has just published the amazing story of Lily Tobias, a little known Welsh-Jewish writer who took an active role in some of the most famous movements of the 20th century from women’s suffrage, to supporting conscientious objectors in WW1 and the setting up of a Jewish state in Palestine in the 1930s; she lived through a momentous time writing political polemic and gripping fiction. She deserves to be read and known about, and not just for being the aunt of more famous men (her nephews Danny and Leo Abse are known for their writing and politics, why not Lily?)… http://www.honno.co.uk/dangos.php?lang=en&ISBN=9781909983236

Thank you for your time, Caroline. Is there anything you’d like to add?

 No, not really, just that Honno is the only remaining UK independent women’s press in existence and that we aim to stick around for at least another 30 years publishing great writing from women in Wales. If you can help us do that – either by writing for us or joining Honno Friends (http://www.honno.co.uk/friends.php) – please do get in touch! You can find us at www.honno.co.uk

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