Archive for the ‘Publicity’ Category


Last weekend, I travelled to Aberystwyth to celebrate the 30th birthday of my publishers, the small but mighty Honno Press. In my hand I was clutching my author copy of The White Camellia, published only a few days before.


I loved meeting my proofreader!

juliet-and-white-camelliaIt was great to meet up with fellow Honno authors, who I usually see only on social media, as we all live too far away from each other to meet up often. It was also a time to meet up with those keeping Honno punching above its weight, and who, as you do, I usually meet in the fevered intensity of getting a book in on time to meet its publication schedule. I loved meeting Lucy who proofread The White Camellia – and as I know from my day job as a proofreader, definitely a vital part of the process.

There was cake, and champagne, and a celebration of the history of Honno Press, from humble beginnings round a kitchen table to the many books, both new and classics, laid out on the tables.


I was very proud to see all three of my novels there – I still have to pinch myself that they happened at all!


One proud author with her books!

So here’s to a true celebration of books, and the sweat, blood and tears that go into creating their stories, and a supportive group of authors and publishers getting those books out there.


Judith Barrow, Editor Janet Thomas, And Thorne Moore, with Carol Lovekin and Alison Layland deep in conversation in the background

And after the party, as a fan of Welsh noir series, Hinterland, there was only one way to end the day – drinking in the atmosphere of an Aberystwyth dusk.


p1100134 adjusted

So thank you everyone for a memorable day, and the best way to celebrate publication day – and here’s to 30 more years of Honno Press!

You can find out more about Honno HERE

The White Camelliawhite camellia

A gripping story of love, loss and revenge, set in Edwardian London and Cornwall.

UK edition

USA edition


Cornwall, 1909 

 Her family ruined, Bea is forced to leave Tressillion House, and self-made businesswoman Sybil moves in. 

Owning Tressillion is Sybil’s triumph — but now what? As the house casts its spell over her, as she starts to make friends in the village despite herself, will Sybil be able to build a new life here, or will hatred always rule her heart?

Bea finds herself in London, responsible for her mother and sister’s security. Her only hope is to marry Jonathon, the new heir. Desperate for options, she stumbles into the White Camellia tearoom, a gathering place for the growing suffrage movement. For Bea it’s life-changing, can she pursue her ambition if it will heap further scandal on the family? Will she risk arrest or worse?

When those very dangers send Bea and her White Camellia friends back to Cornwall, the two women must finally confront each other and Tressillion’s long buried secrets.


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Juliet at Hintons


I have to confess I was a little nervous before my talk about the Women of WW1 at Conwy’s lovely new bookshop, ‘Hinton’s of Conwy’. I’ve been busy concentrating on writing up to now, but I’d learnt so much while I was researching for ‘We That are Left’ that I was eager to share it. So off I went, armed with my WW1 poppy seed cake (what else), telling myself that it was a lovely sunny evening and no one would turn up, having sloped off to the beach instead, and I’d just be sitting there with a few friends eating cake.

Hintons of Conwy

How wrong could I be! The quiet room beneath the bookshop was packed full when I finally stood up to speak. Which was great – but did give me a brief impulse to run away! Thankfully one of the advantages of my (very brief) career as a teacher is that there’s nothing quite as scary as 30 disengaged 13 year olds on a Friday afternoon.

It’s the funny thing about research. You do so much of it, and then have to throw it to the back of your mind and hope it comes through and you get the details right. When I started researching, I came across so many things that women did, many of which were famous at the time, but have now been forgotten. They are simply not part of the familiar narrative of the war.

After the first few minutes, passion took over, and it was a great experience to be able to share so many of the roles women played, both on the front line and at home and for which there had been no time or space in the novel. I’d no idea before I began my research that women drove Layout 1ambulances, set up soup kitchens on the front line, ran their own field hospitals, and picked up bodies from no man’s land between battles. It’s a different aspect of the war. At times it’s completely incongruous, and unthinkable in later conflicts, such as the Duchess of Sutherland handing in her card to German officers, and demanding answers about the conditions of British prisoners of war.

So thank you to everyone who turned up to listen. It was great to see a packed house, and to have such a fascinating discussion afterwards about the forgotten role of the brave and resourceful women of WW1.

I’m definitely fired up to do more!



On the way back, I stopped at Llanfairfechan beach, to one of the most glorious sunsets I’ve ever seen. It was quiet and peaceful, with people just enjoying the evening. A great antidote to reliving the horrors of the First World War.


Lighthouse puffin island

And when I got home – well, I’d left ‘Eden’s Garden’ climbing the ranks as part of being the Kindle Daily Deal for that day. After the surprise of ‘We That are Left’ getting to number 4 in the kindle store a few weeks ago, I’d been determined not to get excited. This was an older book, one that had been in a promotion before.

And yet there it was, number 6 when I got home. Number 5 when I woke up the next morning.

Now that was a day to remember!

Eden's Garden 5 in Kindle Store 2


Number 1 historical Full price June 2014

Eden's Garden 5 in Kindle Store June 2014







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I’ve had a nice write-up in the local paper this week.

Bangor and Anglesey Mail 23rd October 2013

Okay, so the Bangor and Anglesey Mail isn’t exactly world wide coverage, but I know it’s some of the best publicity I can have. I’m always surprised at how many people have read (and remember!) even the smallest bit of information about me that finds its way in there.  I always think I lead this quiet, slightly eccentric, hermit life, quite forgetting I’ve lived and worked all over the North Wales coast for more than twenty years. In small communities like these, it’s surprising just how many people know me, or know of me.  And because I am local, I’m flying the flag for local pride, too. So even those who don’t know me are rooting for me.

I still have this faint (but excruciating) feeling that I’m boasting and everyone’s going to run a mile. But of course local papers love stories, and especially good news stories. It was something I learnt when I was running a small charity. It was easier then, because it wasn’t directly about me, but I’ve learnt to apply it to publicising my books. It’s a fair exchange. I send in an article, with a selection of photographs, the reporter has an easy life and something good to put in the paper. Plus you make sure you get all the facts right. Everyone is happy.

So hurrah for local reporters and local papers!


And while I’m being shameless, if you would like to vote for Eden’s Garden in The People’s Book Prize, please vote here: 

Thank You!

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Click the cover to read the first chapter for free!

Well, I meant to write an entirely different post today. But last night, completely out of the blue, the totally unexpected happened. The Kindle edition of ‘Eden’s Garden’ hit the Amazon bestseller charts.

Okay, I know ‘Eden’s Garden’ is on a 99 pence promotion in the UK for a few weeks, but it’s not on promotion in the US, and I’m an unknown with a small publisher. Being a determinedly rational creature (at times), it never entered my head that my book would get into the top 100. I had thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice if’, but then I think that about the National Lottery and I’ve never bought a ticket. So there you go.

The funny thing is, that I might have missed yesterday’s excitement altogether. I just happened to stagger up to the office to answer a couple of emails, one of which needed a link to the Kindle edition. So there’s me, pulling up the page, and I notice a hashtag. I’m still on a steep learning curve when it comes to social media, and I’ve been drumming into myself to remember to use hashtags on twitter. So I sat up and took notice.

#97. I clicked the link to the chart. Sure enough, Eden’s Garden wasn’t there. Okay, so it must mean something else. Rats. Never mind. THEN I saw the ‘Historical Fiction’ bit. And there it was. Number 97.

If you were following me on Facebook and Twitter last night, you’ll know that I then got very excited. I had no idea how long it might stay in the chart and I was making the most of it. A bit later I went back to my page to click the link again – and Eden’s Garden was up at 90!

Luckily, some wonderfully thoughtful friends from Facebook mentioned getting a screen shot for the memory. Now, I love my Mac, but could I find how to do a screen shot? Not late in the evening, panicking that I might miss the moment. But after a quick phone call, my lovely brother came to the rescue and emailed the memory.

By the time I checked one last time, I’d worked out how to do a screen shot. Which was just as well, as by that time Eden’s Garden had soared to the dizzy heights of 76!

So thank you to everyone who bought the book and sent Eden’s Garden racing up through the charts, and gave me one of the most memorable evenings of my life. And thank you to the many Facebook and Twitter and Forum friends who joined in the excitement and cheered.

And the next evening, Eden’s Garden shot up even higher – to the dizzy heights number 72. Then into the 60s Amazing.

And then – here is Eden’s Garden at Number 46 in the Historical Fiction Best-Seller Charts. That’s going up on my wall right now!!

Eden’s Garden at 46

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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:


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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This week I went to the Hay Festival. I’ve been to Hay-on-Wye before, but never to the festival itself. Even better, I was going to join in the celebrations for 25 years of my publisher, the amazing Honno Press.

Hay Castle

After weeks of glorious sunshine, it was a cold, blustery day when I arrived with fellow Honno author Hilary Shepherd at the rather muddy parking field next to the festival site. It was soon clear why most people were decked out in coats and wellies. But luckily the rain held off, the flags waved cheerfully in the breeze and the flowers were blooming.

Rain? What rain?

There was so much to see! I had a lovely relaxing day wandering around the festival, soaking up the atmosphere and meeting up with friends for coffee and a leisurely chat.

In the afternoon it warmed up a bit and the sun began to appear, just in time for the Honno party. There was champagne and a beautiful cake made in the shape of three of Honno’s books stacked one on top of the other. And balloons, of course.

Best of all, it was an opportunity to meet some of the founder members of Honno, part of that determined group of women who met around a kitchen table in Cardiff a quarter of a century ago, with a mission to bring Welsh women’s literature to a wider public. Plus meeting fellow Honno authors and friends I’d knew so well via the internet but had never met face to face before.

Penny Thomas, Honno’s Editor, welcoming us all to the party

Afterwards, there was a lively and thought-provoking discussion about the need for Honno in the 80s, when the literary establishment was most definitely male. The discussion clearly affirmed the continued relevance of a press that nurtures women’s voices in all their diversity and puts women’s experiences and life-journeys firmly centre stage.

The discussion in progress

I had a wonderful time in Hay. I shall be most definitely going again, this time to take in more of the talks and the events.

My only disappointment when I went into the Hay Festival bookshop was the total lack of any sign of ‘Eden’s Garden’. Hey ho. Philosophical won out. Honno is a small press, and this is Hay. It would have been nice, but ….

Then when we arrived at the Honno party, there were our books – all ready to be signed! And when – being book addicts to a woman – we all gravitated back into the bookstore after the discussion, there were our books on the ‘Signed Books’ table. That was one hit of a buzz I will never forget! In all my long years of working towards being published, I never even dreamed I would one day be fearlessly manoeuvring my signed book to a prominent position on the signed books table at Hay. Strictly for the purposes of taking the photograph, you understand.


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Interview with MaryLynn Bast, author of ‘NO REMORSE’  – Part of the ‘Heart of a Wolf’ series.

Welcome to my blog, MaryLynn. I’m looking forward to the experience of being part of your blog tour. This is a first for me!

I know you’ve been working very hard  since the release of ‘No Remorse’, to publicise your ebook. Can you tell us your experience of self-publishing, and a little of why you decided to go down that route?

No Remorse was self published. However, I did go through ‘Publish America’ in the beginning and pulled it away from them because I wanted more control.  I have a pre-qual  “A Justified Kill” that I am going through the formatting process on and will release the novella of Amber’s life and her “first kill” before No Remorse.  I am hoping to release that in June or July as self published again.  I’m not sure if I will try to query publishers for the series or keep it self published… I will see if I gain exposure and if I get decent offers. I have had a few very small publishers inquiring, but I’m not about to jump into anything…again.

That sounds an exciting development!  Can you tell us a little more about the background of ‘No Remorse’?

My werewolf community is a little different than most other books that I’ve read. Most of the time I find that they are male character driven.  There are usually females wolves, but it’s the male’s who dominate.  In my series, the males will be very dominate, however, there are going to be strong women, like Amber, who will be a big part of the series. I am introducing all kinds of paranormal characters other than werewolves and hope the ones who liked No Remorse will like what I am doing.

When writing No Remorse I approached it from a different point of view. I wanted to show how rough it was being a female werewolf and how they have to be strong to survive and definitely a lot stronger than Bella. I love Twilight, but I wanted my character to be strong and even though she can love someone, she doesn’t allow herself to fade away, she goes on with her life. Unlike Bella falling into depression…I know that story is YA, but to me, it tells the girls its okay to love someone so much you just put your life on hold for them.

I definitely enjoyed the fact that Amber was an independent woman following her own path. I see that you have now had success in attracting a publisher. Can you tell us how that came about?

 The publisher is not related to the series.  An Editor asked me to submit a romance. I wrote the story. Before reading it, he tells me Oh, by the way, its needs to be a paranormal romance and the final twist…erotica.  I have never written erotica so I saw that as a challenge.  I went back through and rewrote the story from a paranormal and added the erotica. I don’t like the vulgar part of it, so I kept that clean, but I can get very descriptive.  🙂  The editor received the story and within 24 hours responded that they loved it and would have the contract over to soon.  I am still waiting for the contract, but I know its happening.

Congratulations, MaryLynn! That is a wonderful development.

Enjoy the last days of your blog tour, and I’m looking forward to seeing your next publication up on the ebook ether!

‘No Remorse’ can be downloaded from Amazon here 

You can find out more about MaryLynn and her ‘Heart of a Wolf’ series on her blog here.

And now for the book itself:

‘No Remorse’

Due to her unusual birth, Amber has abilities no other werewolf has ever possessed. On the run since childhood, the lone wolf avoids contact with other werewolves at all cost, continually moving, constantly looking over her shoulder and always alone.

Everything changes when Amber saves a werewolf from the mere brink of death, Blake, the only werewolf to ever protect her. Love blossoms, but not without tribulations when Amber realizes she must help her new pack rescue a member who is being held hostage by a rival pack.

Warring with emotions of going from lone wolf to the pack leader’s mate, Amber must decide if she is willing to risk Blake’s life to know true family and friendship despite the fact that the Council is hell bent on locating her and will stop at nothing until she is found. Will Amber’s special abilities be enough to keep everyone safe?

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Well, it isn’t exactly May yet, and up here in the mountains it even feels far too cold for April. But I can contain my excitement no longer: Eden’s Garden has been chosen as Welsh Book of the Month for May.


I keep on thinking, did I get that wrong? Did I totally misunderstand? Or maybe I dreamt it? But no, it’s there in an email, so it must be true. Woohoo! I know Wales isn’t exactly the biggest country on earth, but it still feels totally and utterly amazing. Time to dust down the roses, give the butterflies a quick tweak, and  launch into another celebration cake.

The garden cake I made for the launch of Eden's Garden

I’m going to my lovely supportive book club tomorrow night. I’ve even read the whole book on time. Well, it was Bleak House, which I love, despite the mewling Esther, who comes in a close second to the the dreadful Agnes on the Insufferable Victorian Heroines scale. Sorry, Dickens: much as I love you, give me Dorothea Brooke any day. At least she’s human.

Book clubs definitely mean cake. So I shall shortly be dusting down the food processor  traditional mixing bowl and wooden spoon, and tacking Sara Jones’ Infamous (if you are watching your waistline that is) Chocolate Cake from Eden’s Garden. Which is one that was passed down to me from my mother, along with her love of reading. It’s a recipe that never fails.

If you would like to try the recipe yourself (there’s a vegan version, too), it’s up on my beautiful new website (thank you, Madamadari!), along with a recipe for a traditional Welsh Bara Brith.

Traditional Welsh Bara Brith ('Spotted Bread) from Eden's Garden.

I shall now go and quietly celebrate, and dream of May …….


Wonderful Welsh Bluebells. Not this year's - yet!

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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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What more can I say? This was my first sighting of Eden’s Garden in a real bookshop amongst real books. The kind written by authors. You know, real authors: the kind you’ve heard of.  I went in, slightly shyly, to introduce myself. Not only had they heard of my book, they remembered where it was. And they believed I was me and not some sad delusional wandering in off the street. So I even got to sign some copies. Wow. So thank you Palas Print in Caernarfon. I was far too dazed to celebrate by going round Caernarfon Castle, so I sat in the sun and had a cappuccino instead.

But I did pass this amazing door on one of the castle towers. Pretty awesome, eh?

And a seagull was on guard, as usual. So maybe it was a good thing none of the cakes looked appetising. I’ve seen them filtch a burger from a grown man’s hand and I suspect a luscious cream slice would have vanished the same way.

But did I care? Nah. There’s nothing that could possibly beat the feeling of being a real published author.

And it kind of got the bug stirring again. The ooh, I really need to go and get on with some writing bug. So time to dust off the brain cells, stretch the fingers and create that small quiet space for myself amongst the interviews and the promotion (and that thing called the day job) to finally get back to the WIP.

And be a real writer again, wrestling the current work into submission while muttering to myself every now and again why I ever started this in the first place, until I hit the zone and the words flow and I’m crackling with creative fire  for a couple of hours, before staggering off dazed to sit in the sunshine. And then begin the whole process again the next day.

We writers are a very strange lot, when you think about it.  Yippee!

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