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Archive for the ‘Brondanw Gardens’ Category

It’s not an April’s Fool! (I had to look twice just in case)

Eden's Garden COVER

I’m delighted that Eden’s Garden is 99p today in the Amazon UK Kindle Store!

It’s also $1.47 on Amazon.com (click here)

This calls for Sara Jones’ infamous (if you are watching your waistline) chocolate cake.

You can find the recipe here. Enjoy! 

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Sometimes you have to run away, sometimes you have to come home.

2011 – Carys agrees, with mixed feelings, to look after her mother after a fall. This decision unsettles everything – her job, her plans, her relationship with Joe. Once home she is drawn back into village life, into her family history hidden in the attic, and into the history of Plas Eden, the ramshackle great house that was so much part of her childhood. Where, at 18 she forced herself to say goodbye to David Meredith. How will she feel when they meet again?

1898 – Ann, destitute, stands on London bridge. She remembers her last visit to London, a spoilt aristocratic bride, sure of the power of her youth and beauty. Now she is running from everything she trusted. Is the river her only option, or will the Meredith Charity Hospital hide her?

Two women struggling with love, family duty, long buried secrets, and their own creative ambitions. But over a hundred years ago, Ann left a trail, through North Wales, Cornwall and London, that may help Carys find her true path. What is the secret of the statues in the garden?

Finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’ 2014

Welsh Book of the Month May 2012

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Praise for Eden’s Garden

“Eden’s Garden is a novel rich in detail, nuance and meaning… a tale of romance and mystery, self-sacrifice and fulfillment, each element lovingly enveloped in the atmospheric mists of an ancient story told again as if for the very first time.” Edith O’Nuallain, Story Circle Book Reviews

“a wonderful, scrumptious read…” Sharon, Magical Musings (http://magicalmusings.com/)

Brondanw Statue for video

“this story covers multiple generations of a woman’s struggle and heartache with a deft touch. Sensual and romantic, the story swept me away with its strong female characters… It is filled with Welsh charm and romance, and delights with a sweet, lovingly tended story that leaves the reader deeply satisfied” Nadine Galinsky Feldman (http://www.nadinefeldman.com)

“don’t hesitate to immerse yourself in this delightful, intriguing tale which unravels family secrets” Claire McAlpine, Word by Word

“Written on the grand scale, this powerful and moving story of two deeply creative women, seperated by time but both struggling to balance the conflicting demands of family duty and the desire for freedom, held me gripped until the final family mystery was resolved and the entirely satisfying resolution reached.” Trisha Ashley

“A great romantic read and also a very atmoshperic, ingenious mystery.” Margaret James, Writing Magazine

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“Beautiful writing and a charming, intriguing story.” Sue Moorcroft

“Juliet’s characters are so believable and richly drawn – the reader really cares what happens to them…” Anne Bennett

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Eden's Garden COVER

My first inspiration behind ‘Eden’s Garden’ is based on a family story – but I can’t tell you anything about that because it would give the game away – and then there would be no mystery at all!

My second inspiration was an ancient Welsh myth. It’s the story of Blodeuwedd, the woman made out of flowers to  a perfect wife. Blodeuwedd is beautiful and perfect – until she finds a mind of her own and is turned into an ugly old owl to be cast out and despised. As a woman, I’ve found myself growing more interesting and more human as I’ve grown older. So I have a feeling that, for Blodeuwedd, maybe that’s the point where the real story begins. And if you look at an owl – really look – it has a rare beauty all of its own…..

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My third inspiration was a garden. It’s a place I used to go to when I went to see my father during the last months of his life. It’s on my way home through the mountains of Snowdonia, and was a place for me to gather myself and absorb my own sadness and get back to facing everyday life again.  The gardens are Brondanw Gardens which are the home of Clough Williams Ellis the creator of Portmeirion. They are full of life and eccentricity and a mischievous kind of joy.

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And so that’s where the mystery began to form in my head, of Carys rediscovering the mysterious statues of her childhood and embarking on a journey to find a mysterious woman from the past who holds the keys to the future. A woman who was once bred to be a perfect Victorian beauty, and who has the longest journey of all to make – the journey to becoming truly human.

Brondanw Statue for video

Eden’s garden is on promotion today

In the UK 1.69p click HERE

In the US $2.10 click HERE

 

 Click HERE to join Carys as she unravels the past – finding some unexpected secrets along the way. 

You can watch the trailer for ‘Eden’s Garden’ here

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Thank you to Lucinda Rose of  Rose Reads  for nominating me for this beautiful blog award. Lucinda nominated me a few months ago – I’ve finally got there!

The RULES for this award ares:

Thank the person nominating your for the award: THANK YOU LUCINDA, and for being bright and beautiful and sunny each time, come rain or shine. You can read all about Lucinda here

Then:

List ten things about yourself

And

Nominate SIX blogs you think deserve the Kreativ Blogger Award.

So here goes! The ten things about me are:

1. My favourite place to visit is Portmeirion

2. My best holiday was a week in Venice with a pass for all the boats, sailing the canals and visiting the islands.

3. My cats are brother and sister and called Mitzi and Maxwell. They kind of get along. In a sibling sort of a way.

4. I love autumn, for its richness and touch of fragility

5. I learnt to swim in a mountain stream. Very cold.

6. When the mountain rescue helicopter comes over my cottage it could be Prince William at the controls!

7. I have two wildlife ponds in my garden. One was supposed to have fish, but the frogs got there first.

8. I hate housework

9. I love gardening and all gardens, large or small

10. I studied photography at Hounslow College. A long time ago. We had chemicals then.

And my six nominees for their stunningly creative, inspirational, colourful and beautiful blogs are:

Claire McAlpine ‘Word by Word’ http://clairemca.wordpress.com/

Susan Jones  http://susanjanejones.wordpress.com/

Cosy mystery author Nancy Jill Thames  http://nancy-jill.blogspot.co.uk/

Carol Hedges author of ‘Jigsaw Pieces’ http://carolhedges.blogspot.co.uk/

Kat Ward http://keepingsane.com/

Brynne http://www.presenceofmagic.blogspot.co.uk/

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The Kindle edition of Eden’s Garden is now up! Hurrah!

And I’ve been tagged by brilliant and thoughtful book-blogger and author Claire McAlpine  of the ‘Word by Word’ blog, as part of the ‘Be Inspired’ blog hop. Thank you Claire! And thank you again for your wonderful review of Eden’s Garden.

To take part in the blog hop, I need to send a link back to my proposer (thank you Claire!) and then answer the following questions. Once answered, I need to tag five people to answer the questions, which don’t need to be the same, but must be about the writer’s book. And then I mustn’t forget to put the links to their blogs so everyone can hop over and see their answers.

Here we go:

Questions:

1. What is the name of your book?

Eden’s Garden’

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

One inspiration is Brondanw Gardens in Snowdonia, which was the home of Clough Williams-Ellis, who built nearby Portmeirion. Part of it feels quite forlorn, 

but with some wonderfully quirky touches.


The other inspiration was a Celtic myth of a woman created out of flowers to be a perfect wife. It all ends in tears, of course, and the woman is stripped of her youthful beauty and ba

nished. But supposing that is only the beginning of her story …..

3. In what genre would you classify your book?

It’s a time-slip. Part of the story is set now and part in Victorian times.

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?

I’d chose British actor Sam West to play the Victorian hero. His voice alone is beautiful. I could sit and listen to it for hours…… 

5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis of your book.

Two women a century apart struggle with love, family duty, long buried secrets, and their own creative ambitions.

6. Is your book already published/represented?

Eden’s Garden was published by the small but mighty Honno Press in March 2012,and was the Welsh Books Council ‘Welsh Book of the Month’ for May.

7. How long did it take you to write your book?

The first idea came about 6 years ago. I worked on it on an off between other projects, always trying to find the right form for the story I wanted to tell and never quite getting there. I sent an earlier version to Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press, a couple of years ago. They didn’t accept it straight away, but they gave me a chance to work with one of their editors. That year was one of the most intensive learning curves of my life, and that’s when the book really came together.

 8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?

I think readers of Kate Morton’s time-slip books like ‘The House at Riverton’ would enjoy ‘Eden’s Garden’, and anyone who enjoys Adele Geras’ novels like ‘Facing the Light’.

 9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?

I have always loved Dickens, Elisabeth Gaskell and the Brontes. They were all an inspiration for the Victorian strand of the novel. I also love Sarah Waters’ books and Rosamund Pilcher’s ‘The Shell Seekers’.

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.

More than a hundred years ago Ann left a trail
 through London, Cornwall and Wales that now leads Carys on a tantalising and 
increasingly shocking search for the truth…

Margaret James of ‘Writing Magazine’ called Eden’s Garden: ‘A great romantic read and also a very atmospheric, ingenious mystery.’ 

Intrigued? Then you can read the first chapters here: 

And so to the people I have tagged to answer the questions:

1. What is the name of your book?

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

3. In what genre would you classify your book?

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?

5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis of your book.

6. Is your book already published/represented?

7. How long did it take you to write your book?

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.

And the writers tagged are:

Shirley Wells, who writes gripping crime for Carina Press.

Susan Jones, great stories and a lovely blog to check out.

Chris Stovell, who writes for Choc Lit  – with a hero guaranteed to make you go weak at the knees.

Lorraine Jenkin, fellow Honno author, whose blog is as witty as her books.

Marylynn Bast, author of the ‘Heart of a Wolf’ series. No feeble heroine there!

Take it away, ladies!

Once you have answered the questions, remember to tag five more worthy bloggers with the same instructions- especially to link back to your blog!!

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And so Portmeirion has made it onto the new first class stamp.  And very beautiful it looks, too.

Portmeirion Village is a magical little piece of Italy on the coastline of Snowdonia. Architect Clough Williams Ellis, who built the village, called Portmeirion ‘a home for fallen buildings’. And that’s exactly what it is.

In a wonderfully eccentric mix, recreations of white-washed English country cottages stand beneath a skyline of terracotta and blue Mediterranean villas and a bell tower, a Campanile, worthy of a town square in Tuscany. Scattered in between are the fallen buildings themselves: the arches and the colonnades, the statues large and small, all unwanted remains of grand houses rescued from certain oblivion.

Think Sorrento. Think Cornwall. Think the fading palaces of Venice. Think of the most romantic place you can ever imagine, and there you have Portmeirion.

If you ever get tired of exploring the building, there are the grounds. An entire wilderness of lakes and ponds, surrounded by ferns and woodlands.

Little bridges appear, along with Chinese pagodas and the kind of follies where regency ladies might make secret trysts with their Mr Darcy.

And if you ever tire of exploring the hidden corners beneath the camellias and Rhododendron,you can follow the path to the shore.

There, you can sit on a stone boat (the remains of a real boat, recreated after it was destroyed in a storm) and admire the whitewashed walls and terracotta tiles snaking down the cliffs, like some Mediterranean fort preparing itself against pirates. Or you can sit on the terrace of the hotel with your coffee, watching the tide come in beneath a backdrop of distant mountains.

Staying for a night in one of the cottages was one of my all-time treats. Once the visitors had gone and the spotlights began to glow, it felt a real privilege to be there. Everyone I met seemed to feel the same. Many were staying, like me, to celebrate special occasions, or to return to a  place once visited never forgotten. In the warmth of the summer evening so many stories were shared between people from all over the world: some of weddings, some of memories of people lost, or of holidays long ago. One couple who had been married there were returning for their tenth wedding anniversary, still glowing with happiness.

I have been visiting Portmeirion since I was a child and I still go back to wander between its cottages and its gardens whenever I can. The buildings and the ‘Gwyllt’, the wilderness area with its exotic planting and serene lakes, still inspire me with their life-affirming love of beauty mixed with practicality – and little touches of the mischievous in between. I’ve set several stories within the grounds of Portmeirion, and I can feel another one brewing …..

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Today I’m the Author Spotlight for Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog

It’s an amazing site packed full of information, tips, flash fiction and interviews with authors.I was excited to be interviewed, and you can find exactly what I said here. 

Morgen said she had a surprise for me – and what a surprise! Morgen had not only heard of my alter ego, Heather Pardoe, but she actually possessed a couple of her magazine stories. That gives any author’s heart a flutter!

Today, I’m sitting at my desk being Heather, writing short stories and working away at a serial I’m writing for a magazine set in the Welsh Gold Rush. And yes, there was one. But to find out more about that, you’ll have to wait for Heather Pardoe to work her magic.

In the meantime, this is the kind of stories Heather writes. Believe me, I’ve learnt many invaluable lessons writing for the given requirements of a magazine. I would never have made it as a published author of novels if it hadn’t been for the professional learning curve of writing as Heather Pardoe, both her stories and her rip-roaring (but not bodice ripping) pocket novels.

So many thanks to Morgen Bailey  and her writing blog – and  there’s plenty  of fascinating information to check out while you are there.

The writer’s learning curve is a long one and every little – or not so little – helps along the way.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

It’s 2012, and the countdown to the publication of ‘Eden’s Garden’ in March has begun. So this will be the year of gardens. Watch this space!

This is the little fireman statue in Brondanw Gardens, the home of Clough Williams Ellis, who created Portmeirion. And one of the inspirations for ‘Eden’s Garden’.

I love the colour and the humour and the sheer playfulness of Brondanw, and I never tire of visiting Portmerion itself.

This is the first part you see of the village as you go in. Even when it’s raining and cold it still puts me in a good mood.

And the gardens are beautiful, too.

Here’s to an exciting 2012!

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