I never expected to find myself in ‘Good Housekeeping’.

I’ve been published in magazines before, but it has almost always been fiction. So when I was given the chance through my publishers, Honno Press, to pitch for an article in the Christmas edition, my first reaction was that it wasn’t for me. The article was about ‘How we remade Christmas’ after a family change, or the dead of a loved on who had been central to family Christmases. What could I write about? My Christmases are very quiet and ordinary. I had nothing to say.Tynysimdde in the snow

DSC_1677By a strange coincidence, I was joining up with my family in the cottage in the wilds of Snowdonia where we used to spend Christmas. Being there, I remembered all those Christmas, fourteen vegetarians sitting down to (a very delicious) Christmas dinner, cooked by my dad, who was always the centre of Christmas. It wasn’t that we were just all vegetarians. The cottage really is in the wild and for many of those Christmases had no electricity (candles were not just for Christmas) and a loo in the pigsty at the bottom of the garden (in an isolated valley with no lights, surrounded by forest – just the thing to develop the imagination …) and several times were snowed in and had to be rescued.

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Candles (and oil lamps) were not just for Christmas






In the Snow

The cottage is there somewhere!

In fact, it was one of those times were were snowed in at Christmas when I was very small, and were down to our last handful of coal and tins of baked beans, and having to break the ice over the spring to collect water, that became the very first story I ever had published, the story that made me a professional writer. It was something I’ll never forget, following the rest of the family, clutching my doll as my mum clutched my baby brother, making my way through snow that was nearly higher than me, as we made our way over the fields to be sledged down the steep hill to my uncle, who had battled his way along treacherous single-track roads in a battered Landrover.


The old fireplace with the remains of the range


Mum at the cottage at Christmas in the 1950s

So, in fact, it turns out the Christmases I thought of as ordinary, were not really ordinary at all. And the way we remade Christmas after my dad died, in Swedish style, reindeer sausages and all, was about as different as you can get. And then there was the fact that this Christmas would have been my dad’s one hundredth Christmas. The Christmas he was born, was in the midst of the horror of the First World War. History is that far away, and yet so close.


I’m delighted my article was chosen to be in ‘Good Housekeeping’. I’m not sure what my dad, the child of working-class Victorians, brought up in a level of poverty unimaginable in Britain today, and a proud, stubborn, Yorkshireman to boot, would have made of it all. Although I rather suspect that secretly he would be chuffed to bits, and (as a non-drinker) might even have raised a small glass of wine to the occasion.

And the Swedish bit? Ah, well you’ll have to read the article to find out!




WW1 Seed Cake small


Finding the Snowdon Lily

Today, I would like to introduce my good friend Heather Pardoe, who writes serials and short stories, and is now published by Endeavour Press.

Heather’s first book with Endeavour, ‘Finding the Snowdon Lily’, (if you are in the US click HERE) is a historical adventure sent on and around Snowdon during the great Victorian fern-collecting craze (yes, there really was such a thing) is published today.

Dolbadarn Castle with Snowdon behind

I was going to celebrate the occasion by interviewing her, only this might be a little predicable, as, er, (as most of you will already know), she is, in fact, me.

I’ve written before about the pros and cons of writing under two names for the Novelistas Ink Blog http://novelistasink.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/serials-or-novels-that-is-question-by.html Over the past few months I’ve been in even more of a whirl between my two identities. I’ve been writing the next serial and editing further books for Endeavour as Heather, while at the same time bashing away at the new book as Juliet, trying to get as much done as possible before the edits land for the novel out with Honno next year.

And yes, I have ended Daughter of Conwy 4 smallup talking to myself! Luckily, my four-legged secretary and research assistant takes such things in her stride.

Today, however, I’m going to celebrate as Heather. There I was, taking it all in my stride, telling myself, just another Heather adventure out there – but now it’s come to it, I’m just as excited as when a Juliet book comes out!

And so, what does Heather write? Well, much shorter books, for one. But they are also historical exciting adventures, inspired by the many wonderful women we generally don’t hear about, who never let a crinoline or corset get them down, but were off up mountains and outwitting villains with the best of them. And like her serials, they are set in Snowdonia – including on Snowdon itself.


Climbing Snowdon in the mist


Reaching the summit


The cloud clears – this is what Catrin would have seen from the top!

So this evening Heather and I will be raising a glass of champagne (possibly of the homemade elderflower variety, it being a weekday, and having a hero to rescue from particularly dire straights) to ‘Finding the Snowdon Lily’ – and Heather Pardoe’s future writing career!

Heather’s website is HERE

You can follow her on Twitter HERE

And on Facebook HERE


Elderflower 1

Mousehole 2


If you follow me on Facebook, you will know that I’ve just spent a week in Devon and Cornwall collecting photographs for the launch of my next book with Honno Press, out next year.

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Inspiration at Westwood Ho!

The novel is still firmly under wraps, so the only thing I can tell you is that it’s based around a mansion with a tragic past on the North Cornwall coast, near St Ives. So when I was invited to be one of the panel of writers at the Exeter Short Story and Trisha Ashley Awards, it was a chance I couldn’t resist.



A riot of colour at Lanhydrock

Of course, I couldn’t go straight from Exeter to St Ives without stopping off at St Austell and visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project. I’d regretfully decided I would have time for Lanhydrock, but my satnav had other ideas, and I’m so glad she did. The sun came out as I found myself passing by – so of course I had to go in.

The melon house

The melon house at Heligan

I didn’t have time to see the house (next time), but the grounds were a riot of colour, and the views spectacular. I could have gone back the next day, but I had a date with what will always be the highlight of my trips to Cornwall – the Lost Gardens of Heligan, whose flower gardens inspired ‘Eden’s Garden’, and whose greenhouses inspired Elin’s beloved kitchen garden of ‘We That are Left’.


Office Lost Gardens

The office at Heligan

PotsI loved every minute of my day in the Lost Gardens. Having lived through the First World War with my characters, it was very moving to see the offices and greenhouses that, with a way of life, were lost due to the ravages of the war.

I’ve been longing for ages to visit the Eden Project – and it definitely didn’t disappoint! I could have stayed much longer, but rain was forecast for the next day, and I wanted to get photographs of Mousehole and Limorna Cove while the sun was still shining. After a day in beautiful St Ives, I made my way up the wild north coast, ending up back in Devon, in Westwood Ho!, where I’ve spent several happy holidays, before making the drive back to Wales.

Wild seas at Perranporth


It was a blast of a week. I drove nearly 1,000 miles in all, and packed so much in, all I could do in the evenings was stagger back to the B&B and just about manage dinner and a bath before collapsing into bed. I had never been to Cornwall so late in the year, so it was a pleasure to see the late flowers and autumn colours. I was very lucky with the weather, with none of the promised rain arriving, and I’ve got all the photographs I could need.

Squash at the lost gardens

I’m still absorbing my week in Cornwall. This blog post has been a whirlwind tour, but there will be many more to come, exploring the sights and the sounds. I’m buzzing with ideas and feel energized and inspired and ready to go. And I shall most definitely be going down again. I saw so much – but I know there’s plenty more to see!

Giant's Head

The Giant’s Head at Heligan



Today I was going to blog about something else entirely.

But then last night I set my alarm for 2.30am to have a glimpse of the blood supermoon eclipse. I live on the very edge of a village, up a mountainside in Snowdonia, with very little light pollution, so this was a chance I just wasn’t going to miss.

My day job as an academic proofreader takes serious amounts of concentration, while sorting out publicity for my next books (yes, books (hurrah!), that’s the blog I was going to write), plus getting the next one (or two) seriously into gear, takes the rest of my headspace. So I was going to step outside and just look at the moon, and sensibly to back to bed again.

Moon eclipse 1Of course, I didn’t. Once the eclipse seriously got going, I was spellbound. Mitzi the cat, who sleeps on my feet, tucked herself into the fleecy blanket I was using to keep warm and purred in a companionable sort of a way, while the rest of the animals gave up and went back into the warmth.

Moon 31

At first I was a bit skeptical about the blood moon bit. It was very pale and silvery. But as the shadow crept over, it turned orange, and then a deep red. It was quite unnerving looking through my binoculars, seeing the shadow encroaching, in such a very different way from the usual phases of the moon.

Then there was the darkness. I’d thought it would be like the solar eclipse, and last only a few seconds, but it seemed to go on for hours. In fact, I think it probably did. Stars began to appear, taking over the night sky with constellations and the Milky Way, along with shooting stars streaking over the mountains.

Moon eclipse 3

At one point the faint deep red glow appeared to almost disappear, as if floating away, never to return. Despite my rational, 21st century brain, a small doubt arose that the moon would ever return. I could understand our ancestors’ anxiety when the sun and moon vanished, and the need to stoke up the midwinter fires to bring the warmth back again. It was wonderful to see the light slowly return, until there was a brief full moon again, before the sun rose, and the business of the day returned.

Moon Eclipse 4

So here I am, having staggered out with the recycling in the odd assortment of clothes I flung on in the middle of the night, and not quite sure how I’ll keep upright for the rest of the day. But it was worth it. It’s something I’ll never forget and feel incredibly privileged to have seen – and to work from home so I don’t have to prop myself upright in an office all day! It was also exciting seeing that some of the photos I’d taken with my ordinary little camera had actually come out. Some wonderful memories too!

Right, time to get the coffee on and get some work done while the adrenalin is still working…

Juliet Greenwood:

I’m delighted to be one of the authors at the Tenby Book Fair on September 19th – and to be amongst so many brilliant authors!

Originally posted on Barrow Blogs: :

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On the first day of the Tenby Arts Festival;  the 19th September 2015, between 11.00am and 2,30pm, we’re having a Book Fair. We would love for you to join us to  meet and chat to our lovely authors.


There’s a chance to relax and listen to music while having a cup of coffee and a cake. There’ll also be a chance to win and choose one of the authors’ books as a raffle prize  Stay for a short poetry reading at 1.00 pm and then to discover which of the children won the competition we previously set on the subject, ‘ The Book I Enjoyed This Year’. The prizes of great books have been kindly donated by Firefly Press and will be presented by Editor and Founder Member, Janet Thomas.

These  are some of the authors who will be there:

JUDITH BARROW:jbarrow_1438471747_11


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Interview with Eloise Williams

author of ‘Elen’s Island’, published by Firefly Press 


Hello Eloise, and welcome to the blog! Can I start by asking you if you had any favourite books as a child? Were they the reason you became a children’s writer?

 I have always loved books and had the huge good fortune of living directly opposite a library when I was a child so my love of reading grew with frequent visits across the road. I suppose I didn’t think it was that unusual to be able to see into a library from your bedroom window and I certainly didn’t realise how lucky I was!

I had so many favourite books. All of the Enid Blyton’s – I believed in lands at the tops of trees and islands where mysteries occurred, but I spent most of my childhood in Narnia and that is what led me to write something for children so many years later.

My sister taught children in South Korea for a few years and during that time she made me a compilation to listen to, so I plugged my headphones in and walked the Pembrokeshire coast path listening to tunes that had meant lots to us both and then suddenly a recording of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe came on and, although I know it sounds dramatic, I had an epiphany. That’s what I was meant to be doing with my life. Writing for children and Young Adults. It became clear in that split second and I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t realised it in the first forty odd years of my life. I literally stopped where I was and slapped my own head. Thankfully there was no-one else around to see me!

 Where did you get the idea for Elen’s Island? Is it based on a real island or somewhere near where you live?

And where did the puffin come from? (and can I have one!)


The idea came from a stay on Caldey Island in Pembrokeshire where I was lucky enough to spend three nights in an old schoolhouse. It was such a magical experience. From the second I stepped onto the boat I was enchanted. There’s something very wonderful about being on a piece of land, surrounded by turquoise sea and cut off from all your problems and worries. At that time I had just moved to Pembrokeshire as I married a Tenby based artist and I had no friends there and was missing my family. If you read the book you will recognise these themes! I also went on a visit to Skomer Island and was over the moon to see puffins! So Elen’s Island is a mixture of Caldey and Skomer and imagination.

Caldey Island

Eloise on Caldey Island

You can have a puffin! Skomer lets you adopt puffins and seals so you can have your very own and help the Wildlife Trust with their brilliant work. It also gives you an excellent excuse to visit Skomer so you can see them and the comedic way puffins land and smile at their funny faces!

 How did you find out about ‘Firefly’ and what was the process of being accepted for publication?


I found out about Firefly when they ran a competition for a new children’s book. I’d already been writing bits and pieces and had a short story published by Honno (who publish some wonderful female authors including yourself (thank you! :-)) and the very impressive Thorne Moore) and some poetry and short stories placed in competitions, so I thought I’d give it a go. I didn’t win (sadly) but they were interested in seeing more of the story and I went back to it and wrote the whole thing. It’s very different from the first piece I submitted for the competition and much, much better! I was completely shocked and overwhelmed with happiness when I got the email from Firefly to say they’d like to publish it – it really was a moment that changed my life.

 We share an amazing editor, so I’m curious to know how you found the editing process.

Was it something you enjoyed, and did you feel it made you a better writer? And how do you think it made the story better?

We are very fortunate to have had the help of Janet Thomas and I agree she is AMAZING! The editing process came as something of a surprise to me if I’m honest. I thought it would be a case of the odd typo here and there and restructuring a few sentences. Little did I realise how much work was involved. I am very lucky that I’ve become good at taking constructive criticism through working as an actress for over a decade! It is quite a journey from the very first manuscript to the polished piece and I am so grateful that I have an editor who I not only like as a person (handy) but who has such a sharp eye and a brilliant understanding of how to tell a story. Elen’s Island was the first thing I’ve ever written for children and I really needed that guiding hand. It made the story tighter, funnier, with more rounded characters and really made me think about what I wanted the reader to get from the book. YES it has made me a better writer (I hope).

Watson flying

Watson flying

 How are you enjoying your time to write from your Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary? Do you find it makes a difference being able to concentrate fully on your next book?

I am having the time of my life! It makes such a difference to be able to give my writing my full attention instead of grabbing time here and there between work commitments. It’s also a real honour to have the faith of such a great institution willing to fund my writing for three months (as you know) and I am so grateful that I have this opportunity.

Can you say something about your next book? And what are the plans for the future?

 My second book Seaglass is a Young Adult ghost story set in Pembrokeshire. It’s a scary, thrilling page-turner which also has funny moments and is a story of survival and loss. Lots of lovely authors have read it in manuscript form and given me fantastic feedback so I’m very excited to see it land in the hands of young readers. At the moment it’s with my agent, the fabulous Ben Illis of The Ben Illis Agency, while he finds it a forever home.

My third book, and the one I’m using my Literature Wales Bursary to write, is called Gaslight and is again a YA but is set in Cardiff in the Victorian era. I’ve never written anything in a historical period so it’s yet another learning curve for me. I like to keep life interesting! Gaslight is a thriller which features lots of dastardly goings on, gothic stuff, pea-souper fog, ships, music hall, murder, midnight skinny-dipping and thieves. There is also a serious crush going on but the course of true love never did run smooth…

After that…. who knows?

I’ve already started work on another three books, all of which are for young people and again feature a female protagonist with a very strong voice. Now I’ve found what I should have been doing with my life I am never giving up!

Thank you, Eloise. I loved Elen’s Island, and I’m looking forward to ghosts and dastardly goings-on!

You can find out more about Eloise and follow her here:





‘Elen’s Island’ is for ages 7 – 9. Elenfront1

Summary and reviews

When her parents send her to stay with a grandmother she hardly knows for the summer, Elen is furious. Gran lives on a tiny island and doesn’t want her to stay either – it’s not an easy start.

Gran’s idea of childcare is to give Elen a map and tell her to explore. Who is the odd boy on the beach with a puffin? After saving Gran in a storm, Elen finds a picture that she’s sure is a clue to hidden treasure. She investigates – and finds a very different treasure from the one she expected.

Early praise for Elen’s Island:

‘Wildly imaginative, funny and poignant, Elen’s Island keeps us hooked from the first scintillating sentence. You’ll fall in love with the feisty Elen, her phenomenal gran and a magical island, in a tale spun with craft and brio.’ Stevie Davies, novelist.

‘Elen’s Island is beautifully written and will stir the imagination of a generation of children. Children everywhere will be asking their parents if they can visit Aberglad.’ Kevin Johns, Swansea Sound.

‘An absolute treat.’ Jamie Owen, BBC newsreader.

‘With a plucky, driven heroine, a magical mystery and a pace that never lets up, Elen’s Island is a rollicking read that promises to keep readers enchanted and engaged.’
Guy Bass, children’s author, including the bestselling
Stitch Head.

‘A meticulously crafted novel that will encourage the most reluctant young reader to keep turning the pages. Elen is a heroine every child will identify with.’ Catrin Collier, novelist.

‘A joyful adventure. Full of wonder and magic.’ Simon Ludders, actor, Renfield on CBBC’s Young Dracula

Eloise has crafted a beautifully written and magical tale that will keep readers, both young and old, enthralled from the first funny sentence right through to the final, poignant conclusion.’ BB Skone, Western Telegraph

‘I highly recommend it. This book has so many good ingredients. Together they make a fabulous book with a wonderful ending.’ Suze, Librarian Lavender


About Eloise

Eloise writes words. Lots of them. Sometimes in particular orders.Sixer of Pixies. Child of the 70’s. Survived encephalitis, pizza thrown in face, a decade as an actress, school, endless years of Heavy Metal abuse from younger sister’s room.

Likes confetti, bluebells, memories of Gran and Grampa, family, cwtches, the way ladybirds shelter in beech nuts, collecting seaglass on misty days, comfy jeans, stories about interesting things.

Spent too much money on ill-fitting clothes, too much of the 80’s planning marriage to John Taylor and/or George Michael, lovely times in Europe, one cold week in New York.

Lives in West Wales. Lives for the sea, love, repeats of ‘Murder She Wrote’, for as long as she can. Has dog called Watson Jones. Has husband called Guy. Both of whom are handsome devils.

Polytunnel one It was most definitely worth asking for help with my garden this year.

I can’t believe the difference it has made, having someone to clear away the endless weeds and brambles, and rescuing the wildlife pond so overgrowth with yellow iris there was no pond left. The thing I hadn’t expected, and which I’m appreciating most, is help with the organising and the planting, so now I can (with a bit of weeding and watering) watch as the new growth spreads in a way that nothing squashes out anything else, and soon (I’m hoping next year) will become low maintenance.

Garden 3Having the worst done for me gave me courage to tackle the rest, so although it’s still a bit wild, it’s on its way to being a fairly respectable cottage garden. So now, for the first time since I stepped through the gate and fell in love with the overgrowth wilderness that came with a cottage on a Welsh hillside, I can leave my computer for half an hour or so to tackle a few weeds, without getting stuck into a whole day clearing brambles. (Although half an hour does tend to creep into an hour or so. I’m saying it’s good for my eyes, and anyhow I’m thinking about the current book and plotting the next). Garden 1

Best of all, I’ve had my first official afternoon tea (which someone went on until midnight) where I could relax in the garden and enjoy the view. In fact, being relaxed about the garden made me relaxed about the tea, without my usual anxious rushing around to make sure I had wonderful things for my guests. Strawberries, meringue (to be home made next time, ahem) and cream are wonderful all by themselves, with sunshine and good company.

Iris One

As if in celebration, this year, for the first time ever, my grape vine in the polytunnel has tiny little grapes. A bit of Hampton Court has arrived in Snowdonia. That definitely calls for a party!

Grapes one

Best of all, I can now sit by my pond, watching the wildlife, and the rescued waterlily come back to life, with a book, or my research, and relax about the state of my garden, and focus. In fact, get very excited about my work, which is the very best feeling of all. Even though the characters in the new book have just developed a mind of their own and are up to all sorts of disgraceful antics, including changing sex a number of times without so much as a moment’s warning, and the hero has decided to stop talking to me, despite being warned of the Dire Consequences of his actions.

In fact, I’d better go and give him an ultimatum (‘Remember Matthew from Downton?’) this very minute… :-)

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