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Archive for the ‘#AuthorsinLockdown’ Category

This is the kind of Amazon review that comes out of the blue and makes an author’s heart beat fast!

It’s particularly close to my heart as I was also stunned by the country house where Hester works, which is suddenly overwhelmed by casualties, being so unexpectedly reflected in real life as the pandemic hit.

I felt I was living in my own book for a while. But I took comfort from the fact that this part of The Ferryman’s Daughter had been inspired by the real-life descriptions of the heroism, and the kindness, of women and men battling against the odds to save lives during WW1.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the reviewer, who not only made this author’s day, but reminded me of how much we have pulled together and survived in the midst of our own crisis, and that so-called ‘ordinary’ human beings are, in the main, utterly amazing.

It also reminded me of preparing for the launch of Hester’s story in a world that had so abruptly changed, which felt overwhelmingly terrifying, as if thrust into the middle of a disaster movie, but with superhero and no way out. Now, looking back over the past months, I’m still aware of the tragedies, but also remembering hearing birdsong like I’ve never done before and the vivid scent of bluebells. Of relishing the one walk of the day in glorious sunshine and just how wonderful it was to meet my fellow dog walkers and talk to another human beings at a suitable distance, making connections like we’d never quite done before.

And yes, hearing the exhaustion in the voice of the front-line nurse, and glimpsing the trauma she hasn’t yet got the time, or emotional energy, to deal with at the back of her eyes, and fearing for those I love who are shielding. But also of slowing down, rethinking what is important amongst the everyday rush of life, and gaining new pleasure in watching the finches the blue-tits on my bird feeder bringing up their babies – not to mention the endless family squabbles of an entire tribe of sparrows.

And of talking to so many in this suddenly hungry-for-human-connection world who are also rethinking priorities and determined to live – however modestly, and in whatever difficult circumstances – in a new, and hopefully more satisfying way.

The trauma of the First World War led, over time, towards huge changes, not least the eventual setting up of our wonderful NHS and the safety net of the Welfare State. My own parents could remember a time before either, when the cost of a doctor was beyond many hardworking families. It is sometimes hard to remember it’s that recent. I will never take the NHS for granted again.

When I began writing The Ferryman’s Daughter, just eighteen months ago, I never could have imagined how life would reflect fiction and the events of a century ago. I’m glad Hester’s story is one of survival and optimism. She has helped me to keep optimism for our own future too.

You can read the review HERE

The kindle version of The Ferryman’s Daughter is currently on offer at 99p/$1.02 HERE

 

 

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Today I’m welcoming fellow Novelista, Sophie Claire, to the blog, to talk about the importance of family to surviving lockdown, and her new book A Forget-Me-Not Summer, which is now out, ready to sweep readers away to sunnier climes…

At the start of lockdown I had hoped to be super-productive. I told myself I’d whizz through the book I’m writing, get ahead of schedule and begin the next.

It didn’t happen. I muddled through, distracted and worried that my work was trivial compared with that of scientists, medics, and all the businessmen and women fighting to keep their companies solvent.

BUT … at the start of this crisis my son was in the USA and we had difficulties getting him home. Flights were cancelled and I was desperately worried he’d be stranded on another continent. Happily he made it home in the end, but that crisis made me realise what’s important: being together. Friends and family being there for each other whatever happens.

And curiously, that brings me back to my writing. Family, community and love are at the heart of all my books: they’re what I like to write about and to read about, too. Books and television feel more important than ever now, and I’ve been devouring both. When we watch a comedy and it makes us smile, when a good film distracts us for an hour or two, it helps us get through. So perhaps entertainment is important too? Perhaps books aren’t so trivial after all?

I’ve persevered with writing and luckily now I’m at that point in the process where my characters are coming alive. I daydream about them whilst doing other things and ideas pop into my head unexpectedly. I love this stage. It’s the best part of writing a book.

Plus I have reason to celebrate: my latest novel, A FORGET-ME-NOT SUMMER, is out in paperback! I can’t have a book launch or do book signings, but it’s still an exciting time – especially when readers contact me to say how much they’ve enjoyed being transported to sunny Provence with my characters.

Books are an escape. They’re helping me get through these strange times, and I know I’m not alone.

Sophie.x

A Forget-Me-Not-Summer

Purchase Links: UK    US

It’s taken years, but Natasha Brown’s life is finally on track. Running a florists in the quaint village of Willowbrook, she’s put her short-lived marriage to Luc Duval far behind her. That is, until he unexpectedly walks through her shop door, three years after their divorce.

Luc reveals that he never told his family about their split, and now his father is desperately ill and demanding to meet Natasha. Luc needs her to come to France and pretend they’re still happily married. Natasha is horrified, but when Luc makes her an offer she can’t refuse, reluctantly packs her bags.

The deal is two weeks on a vineyard with his family, but will Luc and Natasha be able to play the perfect couple after years apart? And in the glorious Provence sun, will the old spark between them be impossible to ignore?

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Today I’d like to welcome fellow Novelista Valerie Anne Baglietto to the blog. Usually we all meet up once a month, but now that’s not possible I wanted to ask how she was faring in lockdown, and how she is keeping her creativity alive.

Like many people, I’m finding this ‘new normal’a little surreal. However, I’m autistic and home is my safe space, so I’m more fortunate than most. Those feelings of anxiety and uncertainty people are talking about right now – that was my normal, during daily life before lockdown. In many ways I’m more in control now than I was before, even with a houseful of people. With less transitions to mess with my brain, I’ve bought myself more time to write than I had previously, albeit in a pop-up office in my bedroom!

I’m upstairs, my husband’s downstairs. Like a dutiful manservant, he brings me mugs of tea or coffee. In return, I stay out of his way during remote team meetings and conference calls. The teens lurk. They joke, work, slide into strops, exercise in their makeshift gym, interact on iPhones or Xboxes with friends, cook meals for themselves and ‘forget’ to clear up, and then joke a bit more. I think they realise they’re lucky; the house is too busy to be lonely for long.

For two weeks we hid even more scrupulously when my daughter developed symptoms of Covid-19. Thankfully, we all came out the other side, still speculating if the headache and strange cough she caught just from being in the house (she hadn’t gone further than our back garden) was the dreaded Thing, and some asymptomatic member of the household had brought it in from the outside world. A scary thought. Like others in the same position, we’re left wondering, but our GP told us to self-isolate so we obeyed orders.

Now, at last, for my writing advice – if you’re in the mood to write, and I know many of you aren’t, understandably – go a little feral. Or a lot, depending on how brave you’re feeling. At the start of the year, I decided to work on an old novella which I knew had the makings of a full-length book. The long hours I can invest in it at the moment, mean I’m on track to finish sooner than I’d estimated. But I’m rewriting a lot more of it than I thought I would, which got me thinking that we all have these old stories, hidden or not so hidden. And if writing something entirely from scratch right now is proving too harrowing, why not try dusting down something old and half-forgotten, and letting your imagination loose on it again.

Go wild with it. Rewrite. Laugh at the writer you used to be. Learn from their mistakes. Take pride in the good bits. Make lemonade out of lemons. Experiment. Have fun. Or cry. Whatever. Go wherever your heart takes you. See where the New You can lead the Old You, or vice versa. But most of all, don’t beat yourself up if your imagination stubbornly refuses to transport you anywhere right now. These are strange and frightening times. The most important thing we can do for ourselves and our families is to stay home and stay safe; unless you’re a keyworker, in which case THANK YOU! But if you find writing actually helps, if it contributes to your self-care, then don’t feel guilty, either, for indulging in it.

 

Four Sides to Every Story

 

*SHORTLISTED IN THE 2015 LOVE STORIES AWARDS*

If you found ‘the one’ would you know it straight away, or would you need a little push in the right direction?

What if there was someone like Lily Rose Whyte in your life, whose sole aim was to help you? Someone who could jiggle fate and fortune in your favour, without you even realising.

And what if you live in a sleepy Cheshire village where nothing much seems to happen, except suddenly one summer, everything does. Your life is turned upside down and inside out. As we all know, love has a habit of doing that.

But hold on. Slow down. Because what if – for once – Lily’s got it wrong? About as wrong as she can get. What would you do then?

Don’t worry, though. Life isn’t a fairy tale, and magic doesn’t exist. So, as long as you don’t read this book, and you never meet Lily Rose Whyte, you’re perfectly safe.

Aren’t you…?

 

You can get the UK edition HERE

And the US edition HERE

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Today I’m delighted to welcome Sophie Jenkins, the author of The Forgotten Guide to Happiness and A Random Act of Kindness. Sophie lives in London, so I wanted to know how she was coping with lockdown in the capital – and getting that new book done!

I had just finished a book when lockdown started, but I had a plot outline ready for a new one, with an interested publisher, so what could possibly go wrong? Writers are in a kind of self-imposed lockdown anyway – I really should be used to it.But four weeks have gone by and my imagination isn’t working anymore. I’m turning into the main character of The Forgotten Guide to Happiness, a writer who can’t write; but her solution, hanging out with an eccentric feminist writer is, for the time being, out of the question. What’s going on? Maybe it’s because of the dreams. Apparently we are all dreaming more, busily and vividly, as if being deprived of normal life in the daytime is making our minds come up with an alternative reality at night, sucking creativity during sleep.

Last summer at the Society of Authors awards, Jackie Kay said that writing was the only occupation that didn’t get easier the longer you did it. It’s true. It’s about starting from scratch every time. The characters are like people at a party who you barely know, and their stories are as vague and dubious as gossip from a friend of a friend.

I’m hoping to kickstart the story via two workbooks that have helped in the past; they are Ready, Set, Novel! written by the organisers of National Novel Writing Month and First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S Wiesner. They’re a bit bashed and worn, but I’ve taken the old Post-it notes out they’re good to go.  If I start writing constructively, the dreaming might stop. As we all know, reality is a scary place, and the world of books, for readers and writers can be a refuge and a sweet delight.

 

A Random Act of Kindness

Purchase links:

UK edition HERE

US edition HERE

 

Fern is too busy making sure other people feel good about themselves to give much thought to her own happiness. But somehow, without her noticing, life has run away from her.

Suddenly, Fern realises her vintage clothes business is struggling, and the casual relationship she’d always thought she was happy in doesn’t look so appealing.

But sometimes, karma really does come through. And when Fern goes out of her way to help 85-year-old Dinah, little does she realise their new friendship will change her life.

Dinah may have troubles in her past, but she’s lived and loved to the full. Can Dinah show Fern that even the smallest acts of kindness can make the world a better place?

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Today I’m delighted to welcome Jan Baynham to the blog. Jan has always been wonderfully supportive of authors, so It’s a real pleasure to see her debut novel Her Mother’s Secret ,published just a few weeks ago by Ruby Fiction. I asked Jan, who has spent many holidays in Greece, where Her Mother’s Secret is set, how she was coping in lockdown in the UK.

 

 

Coping with lockdown in Wales

These are very strange and unprecedented times, an expression that’s almost a cliché now. Although, as a writer used to working at home, adjusting to the isolation hasn’t been as hard for me as maybe it has been for others, the forced lockdown has taken choice away. We miss the visits from our two little grandchildren who live closest to us and this was the first time our older grandsons who live in Manchester, couldn’t spend Easter with us. With my husband, I have taken advantage of the permitted daily walk, enjoying the spring sunshine.

The peace of the countryside has been noticeable and with all the trees and hedgerows bursting with new growth, nature herself has given us hope. Through virtual Pilates sessions, writers’ group meetings and family gatherings I’ve kept in touch with the outside world. I’ve found I can’t concentrate on writing for very long and with the build up to the publication of my first novel on April 21st, I have been very grateful to kind members of the writing community who have offered me guest appearances or interviews on their blogs. Writing articles or answering questions has given me a focus.

 

At first, I was reluctant to promote my novel on social media for fear of being insensitive to the horror of what was happening in the world. However, after ‘talking’ with other writers, I’ve decided to post photos and little snippets of the story in the week leading up to publication day in the hope it may help readers to escape to a place we can return to once this is all over. I do hope so. Choosing photographs from past holidays in Greece has definitely been therapeutic. Stay safe, everyone.

 

Her Mother’s Secret

It’s 1969 and free-spirited artist Elin Morgan has left Wales for a sun-drenched Greek island. As she makes new friends and enjoys the laidback lifestyle, she writes all about it in her diary. But Elin’s carefree summer of love doesn’t last long, and her island experience ultimately leaves her with a shocking secret …
Twenty-two years later, Elin’s daughter Alexandra has inherited the diary and is reeling from its revelations. The discovery compels Alexandra to make her own journey to the same island, following in her mother’s footsteps. Once there, she sets about uncovering what really happened to Elin in that summer of ’69.

 

UK edition HERE

US edition HERE

 

 

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I’d like to welcome best selling author Leah Fleming, whose latest novel A Wedding in the Olive Garden, published by Head of Zeus, is out in ebook today, with physical copies out in August. Be prepared to be swept away by this uplifting novel of love, friendship and new beginnings, set on a gorgeous Greek Island in the sun. Perfect for an escape from lockdown!

Leah lives in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, but is currently being shielded, so gives a real insight of what it’s like for those who are not only living with the restrictions of lockdown, but living behind the shield.

Happy Publication day, Leah!

 

Leah, living behind ‘the shield’

Some say authors are well suited to lockdown discipline. We work in isolation, behind closed doors beavering away at our work in progress. If you are by nature an introvert, all the better but I am not. I join writer’s groups, belong in village affairs, love entertaining with a large family to visit and host.

However as one of the older vulnerable with a rubbish immune system (due to ongoing and never- ending chemotherapy) the thought of being holed up indoors for months on end fills me with dread.

On the plus side, I live with my husband in the country with a big garden, great views and a supportive village and family so I can’t grumble. I have a profession with deadlines to meet and can escape into my creative world each day, a novel to finish and time to garner ideas for another when this one is finished.

It’s the not so little things that I am finding hard at the moment; losing the support system I’ve built over years of cancer treatments. I miss face to face discussions with my consultant, relaxation sessions with my reflexologist and good chiropody. Now my hair is shedding due to the side effects of a stronger drug, no chance of hair therapy.

I do try not to slop around in old clothes but dress as if someone is coming to call. I keep to normal working hours in my shed or office. We eat as healthily as we can. I do cheat each day and either go in the car to walk in the open hills or stroll with the dog at a safe distance around the village for my daily social fix.

I have chosen a comfort book to re-read: Olivia Manning’s Balkan Trilogy, a mighty tome to lose myself in. I may not be able to travel but the story takes me across Europe into a period I have always loved and mined for stories. I can zoom into the RNA norther Chapter online meetings, and message friends and family for a catch up. My daughter and grandkids leave shopping at our door.

 A WEDDING IN THE OLIVE GARDEN, out this month online, is a compromise as the paperback is delayed until August, so talks or launches are off but I couldn’t attend anyway.

I have to confess the outdoors is looking tidy and planted out. Indoors is another matter for “my lady what does “no longer can do so housework here is down to basic hygiene in bathrooms and kitchen, etc. On old friend once said “dust is dust, don’t move it and no one will know how many layers lie beneath.” I have shut off every room not in use so that helps.

I am living for that glorious morn when I can fling open the door to all, nip into town to browse and perhaps have a pile of future bestsellers to email to my agent… plus a perfect garden and pristine cupboards. Until then, I can always dream.

Leah.

A Wedding in the Olive Garden

Sara Loveday flees home and crisis to the beautiful island of Santaniki. Here, amid olive groves and whitewashed stone villas, where dark cypress trees step down to a cobalt blue sea, Sara vows to change her life. Spotting a gap in the local tourist market, she sets up a wedding plan business, specialising in ‘second time around’ couples.

For her first big wedding, she borrows the olive garden of a local artists’ retreat, but almost at once things begin to go wrong. To make matters worse, a stranger from Sara’s past arrives on the island, spreading vicious lies. Can her business survive? And what will happen with the gorgeous new man who she’s begun to love?

This is a gorgeous, warm-hearted and uplifting novel conjuring the local colour, traditions and close bonds of island life.

You can buy the book:

Amazon UK HERE

Amazon US HERE

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Today, I’m delighted to welcome Mollie Walton, and her alter ego Becca Mascull, to the blog to talk about her work and how she is surviving lockdown. Mollie’s second book in her gripping Ironbridge series is published on April 30th. Congratulations Mollie, and take it away, Becca!

 

 

I’m Becca and I’m surviving lockdown.

Of course I am. I’m not an NHS frontline worker or any other kind of key worker who are essential to the running of the world. So, I can do my bit and stay at home. But it is weird being mostly stuck inside the home for weeks on end, isn’t it? There are good days and bad days, right? Some days I get loads of work done, I exercise, I cook great meals and have some fun leisure time with my daughter and yes, I feel like I’m smashing this lockdown thing. Other days I feel like I barely want to get out of bed or engage with anyone or anything.

I’ve never been a person to say I’m bored, because there are always books and TV and movies and music and people to talk to. But some days, I feel so low, I can’t get joy from a thing. I know I’m not alone though. If I’m truly honest, the main thing that’s kept me going through this is Facebook. I share a lot of edgy memes with a twisted humour every day; they make me laugh and I know others enjoy them, as they tell me so often! I’ve also been playing the piano a lot and sharing these pieces in daily mini concerts on Facebook too. I’ve had people tell me that the soothing piano music has helped with their anxiety, but even one lady said it calmed down her nervous dog! That’s a win-win for me.

But in lockdown, the most difficult thing I’ve found is that my brain isn’t always working as I want it to. I’ve spoken to many other writers about this phenomenon and almost all have agreed: our creative brains are not braining. I’m not sure the precise reason for this, but it’s something to do with the general anxiety and malaise that surrounds us in this worldwide.

So, instead of fighting it, I’ve decided to go with it. Instead of forcing myself to try to write my current book (deadline July!), I’ve spent my time instead doing further, deeper historical research and I’ve found some wonderful stuff, about pit bank girls, strawberry picking, coal mining accidents, Londonhotels in 1875, how to wear a bustle etc etc.

My brain can cope with research. I’ve now finished that and I’m hoping my brain will play ball next week when I continue with drafting chapters. Wish me luck…

 

Becca at her piano – prepare to be calmed!

The Secrets of Ironbridge

 

A dramatic and heartwarming Victorian saga, perfect for fans of Maggie Hope and Anne Bennett.

1850s Shropshire.

Returning to her mother’s birthplace at the age of eighteen, Beatrice Ashford encounters a complex family she barely knows. Her great-grandmother Queenie adores her, but the privileged social position of Beatrice’s family as masters of the local brickworks begins to make her uncomfortable.

And then she meets Owen Malone: handsome, different, refreshing – and from a class beneath her own. They fall for each other fast, but an old family feud and growing industrial unrest threatens to drive them apart.

Can they overcome their different backgrounds? And can Beatrice make amends for her family’s past?

 

You can buy the paperback:

UK edition HERE

US edition HERE

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Welcome to Authors in Lockdown, my series asking authors how they are coping with the current restrictions and how they are keeping creativity alive. Today, I’m delighted to welcome popular contemporary novelist, Minna Howard, who writes for Aria, and shares her experience of lockdown in London.

Don’t all writers long to be in lockdown? We never have enough time to write with family, outside jobs, pets, bad weather, housework, love life, husbands, etc.

Well now we do have time, unlimited time stretching ahead for goodness knows how long.

I have just sent in my last book, a Christmas novel, so while waiting for the edits to come back, I am rewriting a novel that didn’t quite work which I put away to think about. I now see I wrote it from the wrong angle.

Having this extra time, I decided to read a classic novel, as well as lots of contemporary ones. I love the intimate way Trollope writes as if he is there telling you the story. I am reading The Little House at Allington, which I haven’t read for some time.

I live in London with a tiny garden and am trying to grow flowers from seeds. They shoot up in my warm kitchen and then most are either eaten by woodlice or die of sudden cold when planted out. I have just found a garden centre online which delivers plants. I shall order some so I will have flowers after all. It’s sad that garden centres can’t open and so many plants will have to be destroyed.

My daughter has been making bread and homemade pasta which I’ve been eating so I try to walk most days. I live near the Thames which is beautiful in all lights, though it’s best to go early otherwise you are dodging runners (often overweight people puffing over everyone, some looking as if they  might drop dead at your feet) or cyclists whizzing past you as if they are in a race and will mow you down given half a chance.

I put bird food out and attract all sorts, from green parrots, a woodpecker, black birds, tits and sparrows, though we have two tiresome squirrels who climb up the pole, eat though the wire on some of the feeders and grab the food.

We’ll get through this somehow and although I don’t wish this terrifying illness on anyone, I’m quite enjoying being at home and having this extra time.

 

A Mother’s Secret

Verity seems to have it all. A beautiful home, two grown-up sons and a husband who has always been her rock. But one day, the doorbell rings. And it changes Verity’s life forever.

Saskia has nowhere else to go. Before she died, her mother left her with her father’s name and nothing else. The only way for Saskia to take care of herself – and her unborn baby – is to find the father she never knew. And the family that didn’t know she existed. 

This family secret means the end of everything they’ve ever known. But could it also be the chance for a new beginning?

You can buy the UK edition HERE

You can buy the USA edition HERE

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In our suddenly changed times, I’m asking my fellow authors how they are dealing with being in lockdown and a new way of working. Along with any tips they might have for keeping creativity alive – or even using this time of seclusion to finally get those hidden talents up and running.

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Sunday Times bestseller Heidi Swain. Despite everything, I’m also cracking out the virtual champagne, as her latest book ‘The Secret Seaside Escape’ is published today! 

Thank you so much Juliet, for inviting me to share with you and everyone reading, what I’m up to do during this surreal time of lockdown. As you may know, today is publication day for The Secret Seaside Escape, so hopefully right now, I’m enjoying lots of lovely interaction on social media. I’m very grateful for this new book because moving the publication date forward a couple of weeks has certainly kept me on my toes!

To be honest, the Monday to Friday working week, hasn’t been all that different to my pre-lockdown world. I still have a deadline and I’m sticking rigidly to my #amwriting routine. The words are still flowing so I’m extremely pleased – and relieved – about that! I start writing around 7am and carry on until lunchtime. Afternoons are reserved for admin, writing blog posts and planning.

However, there have been a few tweaks and changes. For example, my Pilates class is now happening online so I’m having to remember to keep the sitting room curtains closed. There aren’t many folk out and about now, but they don’t deserve to be burdened with the sight of me bending and stretching early in the morning, do they?

Heidi at an event in Waterstones, Liverpool, with Trisha Ashley

And I’m also walking laps of the garden in lieu of my daily wander around the village and into the woods. The space is tiny – 50 paces a lap – but I’m still managing to walk over two miles a day, so you can imagine how many times I’m going around! It’s very much round and round the garden like a teddy bear. I haven’t met myself coming backwards yet, but there’s still time!

 

 

I’m also doing rather more video calling with friends, which is great for morale and a reason for dragging a brush through my hair… most days. Storm, my cat, likes to get in on the calls too, if she can.

So, all in all, it’s not too bad. This author in lockdown hasn’t gone too far round the bend just yet, but there’s still a long way to go.

Stay safe my loves, and stay home.

With love,

Heidi x

 

Heidi’s new book The Secret Seaside Escape

UK edition available HERE

US edition available HERE

Tess Tyler needs a break. Weighed down by her high-pressure job and her demanding father, she’s left little time to take care of herself. But after a shocking discovery sends her spiralling, she flees to Wynmouth, the seaside town she fell in love with as a child, to escape it all.

With its sandy beaches, stunning rock pools and welcoming community, Tess feels like she can finally breathe again. And as she grows ever closer to local barman Sam, she dares to dream that she might never return to her real life. But when a familiar face returns to town, Tess realises that there are secrets in Wynmouth too, and that her own past may be about to catch up with her . . .

The Secret Seaside Escape is the perfect read this summer, promising sandy beaches, stunning rockpools and breath-taking romance. Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Sarah Morgan.

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In our suddenly changed times, I’m asking my fellow authors how they are dealing with being in lockdown and a new way of working. Along with any tips they might have for keeping creativity alive – or even using this time of seclusion to finally get those hidden talents up and running. Today I’m delighted to welcome Carol Lovekin, author of ‘Ghostbird’ and ‘Snow Sisters’, and her latest novel ‘Wild Spinning Girls’, all published by Honno Press. Carol’s writing has been described by Joanne Harris as ‘Charming, quirky, magical’.

So Carol, how have you been coping with lockdown in Wales?  

Over the past weeks, since I went into voluntary hibernation, I’ve probably written the words ‘strange times’ more than once. I’ve heard ‘Dunkirk spirit’ a few times as well. I was born as WW2 ended; I’m old enough to remember my mother, in 1952 when sugar came off rationing and my sister and I clamoured for extra sweets, still declaring, ‘There’s a war on!’

Currently, there’s a sense of having to adopt the same wartime stoicism: be sensible and eek out our supplies. Mercifully, the one thing we don’t have to ration are words and my word birds are still dropping sweet treats on my window sill.

My third book, Wild Spinning Girls came out in March, not long before the virus hit and we were catapulted into this odd way of living. With the external diary cancelled, I’ve adopted a simpler routine: a daily walk, writing, reading and some frivolous telly. For me, this new habit is the heart of how I’m coping. I began this writing lark later in life than most authors I know. Since I wrote my first book my aim has been to catch up and keep writing. I’m continuing to do it by giving shape to my days but without expecting too much from myself.

Slowly a new story is taking shape. I’m not checking my word count or worrying about structure, I’m just showing up and getting to know a new character who came to me last spring, out of the unexpected magical blue, where the best stories come from. I have to say, I’m a little bit in love with her.

Here’s to gentle, being kind to ourselves days, to unrationed words, staying safe and continued creativity. May your Muse be with you!

 

 

UK edition can be purchased HERE

US edition can be purchased HERE

 

If it wasn’t haunted before she came to live there, after she died, Ty’r Cwmwl made room for her ghost. She brought magic with her.

And the house, having held its breath for years, knew it. Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets out for the Welsh house her father has left her. Ty’r Cwmwl is not at all welcoming despite the fact it looks inhabited, as if someone just left…

It is being cared for as a shrine by the daughter of the last tenant. Determined to scare off her old home’s new landlord, Heather Esyllt Morgan sides with the birds who terrify Ida and plots to evict her. The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time. Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.

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