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Marge2

Hello Margaret, and welcome to my blog. It’s a real pleasure to have you here.

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Juliet. I’m delighted to be here.


TWD

Having enjoyed your historical novels, such as The Silver Locket, it was a lovely surprise to read  your contemporary story for Choc Lit, The Wedding Diary. Can I ask what the inspiration was for such a different bo0k?

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A year or two ago, my local writing group ran a plot-generating workshop. So we were all trying to come up with some original what-if situations. The one which popped into my head was – what if you won a competition for which the first prize was a fantabulous wedding in a country house hotel, but you didn’t have anyone to marry?

It’s certainly a great idea! I loved the fairy godmother with such a deliciously naughty streak, is she based on anyone?

I don’t know where Fanny came from. She’s not based on anyone I know. She walked into my head as a fully-formed character saying come along, darling, write about me. All her lines seemed to arrive as if by some kind of celestial dictation. I’ve never written about anyone remotely like Fanny before. I knew from the start that she was essentially benign, but that she was a force of nature, too. A man like Jack would cross her at his peril…

Definitely! Let’s hope he learns his lesson! Did you set out to write a contemporary story, or was it that the idea that was so good you just had to go for it?

I told one of the people in my writing group that although I thought the concept of winning a competition but not being able to accept the prize was quite a good one, I wouldn’t be able to write a novel about that. She said go on, I bet you could. I always like a challenge.

I’m glad you did. And as the owner of a dog who insists on stealing the limelight, I have to ask if you have a particular inspiration for Caspar the dog?

My older daughter had a beautiful and elegant grey whippet who was a bit dim, but was a charming, gentle and much-loved pet. The real dog is now in Whippet Heaven, but she lives on in Caspar, who has a similar sweet temperament.

What were the different challenges of writing a historical and a contemporary novel? You must have to do detailed research for historicals, did you have to do lots of research for this one, too?

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The great thing about writing a contemporary novel was that it was comparatively research-free. All I had to do was listen to real people talking, watch television programmes about restoring stately homes, go to Italy and climb the Torre Guinigi myself, and go to the biggest Marks and Spencer in the world. Yes, it’s a hard life!

Now that sounds like my kind of research! Did you enjoy writing from a modern male’s point of view?

Yes, very much. One of the great pleasures of writing fiction is that it allows me to be other people, and it was fun being a thirty-something man for a while. But Adam is a fantasy creation. I’ve never met or heard of any man who is as wonderful as Adam. I don’t suppose such a man exists. Although if any reader knows better, I’d be delighted to hear about a real life paragon!

(sighs) Me too! So for your next book are you planning another contemporary or are you returning to a historical setting
Or maybe both?

I have written the first draft of a historical novel, but I think the villain is going to have to be the hero because heis much more interesting and has a longer moral journey to make than the hero, who is actually (whisper) rather dull. So that book is on the back burner while I finish another contemporary story.

Thank you, Margaret, and I look forward to your next book – historical and contemporary!

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The Wedding Diary

If you won a fairy-tale wedding in a luxury hotel, you’d be delighted – right? But what if you didn’t have anyone to marry? Cat Aston did have a fiance, but now it looks like her Prince Charming has done a runner.

Adam Lawley was left devastated when his girlfriend turned down his heartfelt proposal. He’s made a vow never to fall in love again.

So – when Cat and Adam meet, they shouldn’t even consider falling in love. After all, they’re both broken hearted. But for some reason they can’t stop thinking about each other. Is this their second chance for happiness, or are some things just too good to be true?

Margaret James is a British writer of historical and contemporary fiction. She has written sixteen commercially published novels and many short stories and articles on the art of writing. Margaret is also a journalist working for the UK’s Writing Magazine and teaches creative writing for the London School of Journalism.51X2fFsYTrL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU02_SS100_ 5102iZ4Cq0L._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU02_SS100_

Margaret was born in Hereford, UK, and now lives in the beautiful county of Devon, UK.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Wedding-Diary-Choc-ebook/dp/B00C6BFEUC/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1

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www.margaretjamesblog.blogspot.com

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judith

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Today I would like to welcome fellow Honno author Judith Barrow back to my Blog. After our  discussion last time about the pros and cons between being published thumbs_9781906784393_bachand self publishing, this time I wanted to ask Judith more about her new book, ‘Changing Patterns’, which has just been published by Honno Press, and has been chosen as the Welsh Books Council’s Book of the Month for June.

While ‘Changing Patterns’ is a stand-alone novel, it is also the sequel to Judith’s first book for Honno, the critically acclaimed ‘Pattern of Shadows’. If you’d like to ‘Pattern of Shadows’ first, it is currently on a kindle special offer of 94 pence here.

So I first asked Judith what inspired ‘Pattern of Shadows’?

Pattern of Shadows was inspired by my research into a disused cotton mill in Oldham, Lancashire and its history of being the first German POW camp in the country.  I was lookingfor information in the Oldham Local Studies and Archive for general background for a story I was writing. The history of Glen Mill brought back a personal memory of my childhood.   I was side-tracked.

My mother was a winder (working on a machine that transferred the cotton off large cones onto small reels (bobbins), in order for the weavers to use to make the cloth). Well before the days of Health and Safety I would often go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school. I remember the muffled boom of noise as I walked across the yard and the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through a small door cut into a great wooden door. I remember the rumble of the wheels as I watched men pushing great skips filled with cones alongside the winding frames, or manoeuvring trolleys carrying rolls of material. I remember the women singing and shouting above the noise; whistling for more bobbins: the colours of the cotton and cloth – so bright and intricate. But above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales and the feel of the cloth against my legs when I sat on them, reading until the siren hooted, announcing the end of the shift.

When I thought of Glen Mill I wondered what kind of signal would have been used to separate parts of the day for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill. There would be no machinery as such, only vehicles coming and going; the sounds would be of men, only men, with a language and dialect so different from the mixture of voices I remembered. I imagined the subdued anger and resignation. The whole situation would be so different, no riot of colour, just an overall drabness. And I realised how different the smells would be – no tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres; all gone – replaced by the reek of ‘living’ smells.

And I knew I wanted to write about that. But I also wanted there to be hope somewhere. I wanted to imagine that something good could have come out of the situation the men were in. And so my Mary Howarth and Peter Schormann came to life.

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Congratulations on the publication of ‘Changing Patterns.’ Did you enjoy writing a sequel? What were the challenges of returning to the characters?

Ah, the sequel. ‘Changing Patterns’. What a learning curve. I’ve found it difficult to say the least. The fact that I had to make it a stand-alone novel but also a continuation of the character’s story was something I’d not done before. And I didn’t help myself; I attempted initially to write the book from Mary’s sister, Ellen’s point of view. It didn’t thrive. My first draft was appalling; the kindest thing the Honno editors could say was “it needs work”. So I slogged on, draft after draft after draft – until, finally, I was happy with it and sent it back.

Another challenge was that I had to change editors through no one’s fault, it was just necessary. But, as we know, every editor has subjective views besides the professional editorial – so I had to adjust to that.

The most valuable and memorable piece of advice I had from Honno was about the viewpoint; the editors advised that I go with the character my heart is with. And that undoubtedly is Mary Howarth. I’ve lived and breathed with that woman for years. Changing Patterns has to be her story; ultimately, whatever else happens within the family, she’s the lynchpin, the fulcrum that all the other characters relate to. And yet they also live their own lives and I’ve enjoyed going along with them all.

And how did it feel to hear that ‘Changing Patterns’ is the Welsh Books Council’s Book of the Month for June?

I was thrilled – and awed. I’ve been diverted from writing as a full time job for years by life. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point. To receive this accolade; to know this august organisation has chosen Changing Patterns as the Book of the Month, is gratifying to say the least.

Thank you, Judith – and good luck with ‘Changing Patterns’! My copy has just arrived in my hot little hands. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since finishing ‘Pattern of Shadows’ – so excuse me while I put the kettle on and take the phone off the hook ….. 

You can learn more about Judith and follow her blog here:  http://www.judithbarrow.co.uk/

You can also follow Judith on Facebook here

And on Twitter here 

CHANGING PATTERNS

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In May 1950, Britain is struggling with the hardships of rationing and the aftermath of the Second World War. Peter Schormann, a German ex-prisoner of war, has left his home country to be with Mary Howarth, matron of a small hospital in Wales. The two met when Mary was a nurse at the pow camp hospital. They intend to marry, but the memory of Frank Shuttleworth, an ex-boyfriend of Mary’s, continues to haunt them and there are many obstacles in the way of their happiness, not the least of which is Mary’s troubled family.

When tragedy strikes, Mary hopes it will unite her siblings, but it is only when a child disappears that the whole family pulls together to save one of their own from a common enemy.

Sequel to the acclaimed Pattern of Shadows:

Judith Barrow has not written an ordinary romance but a book that deals with important issues which are still relevant today… an excellent debut novel and one I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
Fenella Miller, Historical Novels Review

Judith Barrow has written, with great intensity of emotions, an absorbing saga wich charges along, tempting the reader from chapter to chapter.
Beryl Thomas, http://www.gwales.com

Barrow beautifully evokes those raw and edgy days with this well-paced, gritty love story
Steve Dube, Western Mail

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about-judith

Today’s interview is with Judith Barrow, fellow Honno author, whose new book with Honno ‘Changing Patterns’ is published today, and is the Welsh Books Council’s Book of the Month for June. More about ‘Changing Patterns’ in my next post, but first of all I wanted to ask Judith about her her experience of publishing her own book, and how it differed from being traditionally published. 

Hello Judith, and welcome to my blog. Congratulations on the publication of ‘Changing Patterns’! You published your novel ‘Silent Trauma’ as an ebook yourself last November, so I’m sure the experience must be fresh in your mind, too. Could you tell us the differences between the two kinds of publishing? Were there parts that you enjoyed better in one experience than the other? Did you learn different things?

Where to start?  The two are so disparate. With self-publishing, unless you have a beta reader, or employ an editor and proof-reader, you are totally on your own. It appears to come easily to many writers whom I’ve met through Facebook but I found it hard. I had a good reason for publishing Silent Trauma myself; traditional publishers were wary of taking on the manuscript as it’s what they call an ‘issue-led ‘story. It’s fiction built on fact; so it’s a novel. But it also includes true facts about a drug called Stilboestrol that was given to pregnant women between 1945-1972, ostensibly to prevent miscarriages. It didn’t, but it did cause internal damage to the unborn children (the facts of which are given in the form of the Introduction and Footnotes). This was why traditional publishers were cagey. So I chose to put it out as an eBook. And I was impatient; I’d been researching it for nine years altogether. I thought it was time.

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I did have someone who formatted it for me for Amazon but I had to do a lot for myself and spending so much time on something I found so boring, when all I wanted to do was write, was frustrating. And it took ages for me to hit on the right cover for the book. To be honest writing the story was the only part I enjoyed – that and the satisfaction that I might help to bring publicity to all the women I’d met that were affected by this awful drug.

I doubt I’ll ever write another eBook.

On the plus side, through Create Space, I have printed copies that I can sell. And ten percent of all sales go to the charity: http://www.desaction.org

Being published with Honno meant I got a lot of feedback from the editor. And they found two or three covers for me to choose from.  I’m very happy with the result. And, unlike with Silent Trauma, where again I’m on my own, I’ve had advice and help with the promotion of the books.

As you say, the issues in ‘Silent Trauma’ are clearly something you feel passionate about. What prompted you to write the novel?

I’d known for many years that a relative of mine suffered with chronic endometriosis, and that she had anatomical deformities.

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The beautiful Pembrokeshire coast, where Judith is based

Then I heard a Radio Four programme called ‘You and Yours’ which included an article on DES and I realised that a lot of the content applied to my relative. She asked if I could research it for her. Des Action UK was still extant then (they folded last year due to lack of funds and support. From an original twelve DES Daughters, only two stalwarts were left and, after so many futile years of appealing to successive Governments for help and recognition, they couldn’t carry on anymore).

I sent for their newsletter and went online. The more we read, the more we were convinced that my relative had been exposed in utero to Stilboestrol. The more research I carried out the more aware I was of the damages Stilboestrol ((Diethylstilboestrol) had caused. One of the difficulties is that unlike Thalidomide, where you see the damage the minute the baby was born, women who took DES had healthy babies. The problems were hidden until the teens and twenties, by which point they were forgotten about. Many mothers didn’t even remember the name of the drug they were prescribed.

I kept in touch with DES Action U.K and, after a year was asked to write an article for them appealing for DES Daughters and Mothers to come forward and tell their stories, in the hope that the group would get more members and that, if more voices were heard, then perhaps the British Government would listen. The stance of the Government is twofold; that those pregnant women who were prescribed the drug were given it so far in the past that to raise it as an issue now would only cause ”unnecessary concern” – and that it is a  problem to be resolved only between the mothers and the drug companies.

Following the article, many women contacted me to tell their stories. Some were heart breaking; one DES Daughter had six miscarriages before giving up the struggle to conceive (she then, happily, adopted a lovely little girl). Another had too many health problems to list but amongst them she suffered from endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and paraovarian cysts. It was no wonder she was depressed. Her mother wrote many letters to the Government. Ultimately the reply came back – “Thank you for your letter, future correspondence will be noted and filed but not responded to…” The mother cried when she told me. I was so angry for her.

Many in the UK are totally unaware of this drug. The more I discovered the angrier I became. That these women are still fighting for recognition; acknowledgement from the Pharmaceutical companies after so long, is a disgrace.

photos 153I decided the only way to get the recognition they deserve was to get the information out in a way that people would read it: I would write a novel

As I’ve said, it took almost nine years to research, to contact many women from different countries; to piece together a story that was an enjoyable read, factually correct, but without being didactic.

I have kept in touch with many of the women. Many of them allowed me to use their quotes at the beginning of the chapters

On a personal level, I was brought up in a patriarchal household where what my father said was the rule. I know the feeling of helplessness, of the unfairness of not being listened to, of being ‘invisible’ if you like. I carried the frustration of having no voice into my adulthood. Luckily (or perhaps by wise choice) I married a man who believes in the equality of the sexes, who gave me a voice. We are still together after forty-five years.

Hurrah for sensible men! Thank you Judith. I had no idea about DES until ‘Silent Trauma’. Good luck with your ebook.  I look forward to our conversation about ‘Changing Patterns’ next time. 

 

 

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 Interview with Thorne Moore, author of ‘A Time for Silence’, published by Honno Press

Welsh Books Council Book of the Month October 2012 

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Be careful when you look into your family history. 
You may not like what you find…

Today I’m delighted to be interviewing Thorne Moore, author of the gripping mystery ‘A Time for Silence’, finalist in The People’s Book Prize. You can find more information about the novel and buy a copy from Honno here or on Amazon. The Kindle edition is currently on a special offer of 99p  and is available here.

 

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Hello Thorne and welcome to my blog. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind ‘A Time for Silence’, please?
It’s very difficult to explain that without giving away the plot to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.  Climb over the fence at the end of my garden, cross the field (minding the cows), wriggle under some barbed wire and down a bank into another field bordering some very tangled woodland, and you come to a ruined cottage.  That’s my image of the cottage in my book, but I was told of a murder – an alleged murder – at another abandoned cottage in the area.  A murder that was known about but not pursued.  I was intrigued enough to search in old newspapers for more information, but never found anything.  Instead, I stumbled on a magistrate’s court report, concerning a young girl.  This is the bit I can’t explain unless you’ve read the book. It angered me and upset me in equal measure, and, added to the story of the alleged murder, became the basis for the book.  I couldn’t just keep quiet.


You create a really strong picture of a small Welsh community in the book. Is this based on a village or a community you know?
Not exactly.  I grew up in a large industrial town that had virtually no sense of community, and then moved to a Pembrokeshire village, which was a bit of a culture shock.  But the community in my book is based not so much on my own experience of village life as on the stories related by many of the villagers.  Some of the older ones had never been out of the area.  I was impressed (with a shudder) by one woman, only a bit older than me, who told me, while we were discussing the Welsh language, that her mother had always addressed her father respectfully as “chi’ and her father called her mother “ti.”
Then there were my mother’s tales of  her upbringing in a Welsh chapel community (even though that had been in the middle of Cardiff).  And newspaper articles, WI reports and such, from old newspapers.


I loved the way the story was told in two different eras and especially the ironies brought out as the reader begins to understand more of Gwen’s story before the truth begins to fall in place for Sarah. Did you deliberately set out to write a timeslip, and how difficult was it to keep the two stories working together?
I was born less than 10 years after the end of World War II and I know all about what happened in that period, but I know I can never really comprehend what it was like to live through it all, to face bombings, evacuation, rationing, constant fear, uncertainty, and the possibility that the Nazis might actually win. This dawned on me when I was a teenager, listening to my mother telling how she had run home from school in terror to find out if her father had survived the huge bomb that had just dropped on Vauxhall’s.  It fascinated me to realise that the past, even the very recent past, is a foreign country, as the man said: they do things differently there.  What I wanted to do, with A Time For Silence, was to show Sarah as being completely divorced from Gwen’s world not just by time, but by economics, culture, religion, language, education and expectations. However much of the truth she discovers, in terms of factual evidence, she will never fully understand. But as the same time I can take the reader into that past, where, hopefully, they can understand it.
I did think, when I started, that it might be difficult to weave the two stories together, without making it seem too contrived, but as I got going, it seemed to fall into place quite naturally, so I didn’t have to force anything. At least, I hope it works.

It definitely does! Did your experience in taking a degree in law influence your decision to write a thriller when you were inspired to write ‘A Time for Silence’? Or maybe you didn’t set out to write a thriller at all?
I learned quite a lot about conveyancing, consumer protection, European law and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, when doing my degree, but to be honest, I don’t think it had any influence on my writing – except that I suppose it encouraged me to keep writing, rather than seek work as a solicitor’s little helper.  I’ve never thought of A Time For Silence as a thriller.  I didn’t even intend it to be a great mystery really, except from Sarah’s point of view.  My interest was in exploring not what finally happened, but how things got to that point.


‘Be careful when you look into your family history. You may not like what you find…’ Have you looked into your own family history and, if you have, did you find anything unexpected?
I’ve spent years delving into my family history – I’ve even taught Family History Research in evening classes. I’ve traced some branches of my family back to the 16th century, and I have more than 2000 names I can link into one big web, but for the most part, that’s all they are: names.  It only gains colour and meaning when you find something to make them a little more 3-dimensional.  Like the 17th century Devonshire farmer who contributed 2d towards the rebuilding of St. Paul’s. There are one or two characters who would generally be considered noteworthy, like the Pembrokeshire draper who finished up as knighted mayor of Capetown, but the ones I appreciate most are the women.  Quite a few of them, in the 19th century, finished up abandoned by their men and fending for themselves in the big cities, listed in census returns as ‘seamstress,’ or ‘washerwoman.’ Since they invariably finished up with illegitimate children, I’m guessing they supplemented their income in the only way open to them. I don’t know if their lives were wretched and miserable, or triumphantly defiant, but it shows a gritted determination to survive, in the teeth of Victorian righteousness, that I admire hugely.  Well, I have to, because I’m the end product.

‘A Time for Silence’ is your first book. Can you tell us more about your journey to being published? Did you always want to be a writer?
It’s my first book to be published.  I think, and I’ve lost count, it’s probably my fifteenth book to be written.  I’ve come to see it as a very long apprenticeship.

I remember perching on a radiator at school, when I was a prefect and could perch on warm radiators while ordering the snivelling underlings out into the cold at break. Anyway, that means I was about 16, and I tentatively confided to a friend that I wanted to be a writer. It was something I’d nursed in private for a long time before that, but this was the first time I’d dared tell anyone, and I was greatly relieved when she didn’t laugh.  Later, at VI form, my headmaster suggested I ought to study law, probably because I was opinionated and argumentative.  He even sent me to a weekend taster course at Oxford.  My feeling was that you only study law if you want to be a lawyer and become very rich, whereas I wanted to be a writer and live on gruel in a garret, so I chose history instead.  Once I was at university, and realising, a bit too late, that I had chosen the wrong course (I really don’t CARE who won the battle of Tinchebrai), I spent most of my time writing, which might explain my miserable history degree.  What I wrote then was fantasy, which got more and more complex over the years, before attempting children’s literature, and then moving on to science fiction.  The trouble was that although I received a fair batch of straightforward rejection letters, I also had plenty of invitations to give publishers more time while they thought about it.  I received long reader’s reports explaining how they so very nearly said yes, and why they finally said no.  In those days,(just after the invention of the printing press), you could send manuscripts to even the biggest publishers. It was just enough to keep me convinced that I would make it in the end.  I did nearly give up – hence the belated law degree, but with encouragement from a writing friend, I kept going. I had agents.  On one occasion, one of them convinced me I had a publisher: it was just a question of waiting for the contract to be drawn up. A year and a half later and there was still no contract, so I decided to go it on my own, and met Honno! And now, at last, I have my very own ISBN number.

Ouch! That is such a familiar story of a long apprenticeship as a writer. I’m very glad you finally found a home with Honno. I know we share an editor, the wonderful Janet Thomas. Can you tell us more about your experience of working with an editor?
I thought I might hate it, but when it happened I actually found it very flattering and heart-warming, to have someone take so much interest in every word, every nuance, critically examining style and structure, as if it actually mattered! I had worked with agents before, who first raved about my work and then made vague or totally senseless recommendations that made me think they’d missed the point entirely, but it was sheer balm to have an editor who understood and whose opinion, therefore, I could trust.  Janet could do what I could not, which is look at the end product without seeing it through the prism of all the twists, adaptations, alterations, rethinks and rewrites that I had been through.  An outside viewer can see the whole forest, whereas the writer can easily get lost in the trees.

Hear, hear! Congratulations on ‘A Time for Silence’ being in the running for The People’s Book Prize. That must be very exciting for you! 
I’m delighted.  It still gives me quite a flutter seeing it there, and the comments are very flattering.

And finally, I have to ask about your ‘day job’ of making miniature furniture for collectors – that is so intriguing. Can you tell us more about it, please?
I left university and started work at a library, intending to train as a librarian, on the assumption that it would fit in reasonably well with my real career of writing.  After about one month, I realised that no matter what the job was, I really didn’t want to be an employee.  I didn’t want to be an employer either.  I just preferred, since I had to work, to work for myself.  I seriously have no idea how I hit on making miniature furniture. It just crept up on me in my despair.  First I had to teach myself woodwork.  I even invented the lathe, only to discover that someone else had invented it thousands of years earlier.

 

Then I had to discover that there was a market for miniature furniture. You’d have thought I’d have done this first, but I didn’t. 

 

Once I got into the collectors’ market, I looked at what other people did, decided what I liked doing, and just kept going.  It’s very big in America, and I have customers across Europe, in Australia and in Japan, as well as in Britain.

 

 I do a couple of fairs a year, in Birmingham and London, but mostly I discuss things with customers and make pieces to order.  More interesting than having to stick to stock designs.  I make mostly Mediaeval and Tudor furniture, for customers who range from those wanting authentic kitchen fittings for an intricately detailed Tudor merchant’s hall to those who want an Elizabethan coffee table for their ever so cute mouse house.

 

These exquisite pieces are tiny! Check them out, and much more, at www.peartree-miniatures.co.uk 

Thank you Thorne for that fascinating insight into your writing.

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Then – 1933:

Gwen is a dutiful wife. But as the years pass, on their desperately poor smallholding, her duty to her husband John will have a terrible price for herself and her children. Something that cannot be spoken of.

Now

When Sarah finds her grandparents’ ruined farmhouse, she becomes obsessed with restoring it and turning it back into a home. Adrift after a personal tragedy, she needs something to believe in. She starts digging into her family history and is appalled to learn her grandfather was shot. Can she find justice for John? Is justice what she first thinks?

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GUEST BLOG POST FROM CAROL HEDGES, AUTHOR OF ‘JIGSAW PIECES’

Today, I’m pleased and delighted to welcome Carol Hedges as my Guest Blogger. Carol is the  the successful author of 11 books for children and YA, and her  writing has received much critical acclaim. Her YA book ‘Jigsaw Pieces’ has recently been released as an e-book. Carol has a BA (Hons) in English and Archaeology. She has worked variously as a librarian, a children’s clothes designer, a dinner lady, a classroom assistant at a special needs school, and a teacher. She has one grown up daughter, a husband, a pink 2CV, (Pink 2CV envy here!) 2 cats and a lot of fish.

Over to you, Carol!

First, I’d like to thank Juliet for her generosity in allowing me loose on her blog. I promise I will be on my best behaviour, and not spill cake crumbs everywhere. Well, I’ll try.

I write YA fiction, probably because I work with teenagers. When you spend all day in the company of 16 -18 year olds, they kind of permeate your brain, and then sift into your writing. I love them dearly – funny, heartbreakingly honest, they never fail to surprise.

 

Jigsaw Pieces, my first ebook, is so chockfull of personal stuff that I had to put the line “Not all the characters and events in this story are fictitious” at the beginning. The inner story tells of the suicide of a 16 year old boy, and the determination of two fellow students to unravel the events that lead up to his death.

I was on my first teaching practice when a similar event took place. I remember clearly what it was like as the news spread round the school. When you read the first few chapters of Jigsaw Pieces, you are experiencing exactly what I felt and saw. Maybe you think this is not a subject for a novel, but I have had a lot of feedback indicating that sadly, it happens far more than people realise.

The story is narrated by 18 year old Annie, a feisty, trenchant observer of life. She is a mash-up of numerous teenage girls I taught over the years. I decided to give her a Norwegian background as it resonates with the current interest in ‘Scandi-crime’, and accentuates her outsider status amongst her contemporaries – something I experienced myself, growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s as the daughter of German Jewish parents.

Finally, one of my favourite teaching topics is the First World War poets. I never fail to be moved by the tragic waste of young lives. The opportunity to turn myself into a First World War poet was therefore irresistible – and so I became (spoiler alert) Noel Clarke, the haunted young poet who dies, age 19. I wrote all the poems too.

I uploaded Jigsaw Pieces at the beginning of August. It has some 5 star reviews, and I am thoroughly enjoying meeting loads of lovely people, like you, as I go round blogging about it.

JIGSAW PIECES:

‘He had been part of my everyday life. I hadn’t liked him much, nobody had liked him much, but he’d been there. Now, I’d never see him again.’

Annie Skjaerstad had been searching for her identity since being uprooted from her native country of Norway. With a spiky personality winning her no friends, and family members suddenly torn out of her life, she is left seeking comfort from a growing intrigue into the stories of fallen war heroes.

But one day, a boy from her school unexpectedly commits suicide, changing things forever. Confused by the tragic tale of someone she knew, Annie soon finds herself conducting her own investigation into his death. 

What she uncovers will bring her to a dark and dangerous place, as suddenly – her own life is put at risk.

A tense, coming of age crime thriller by the author of ‘Dead Man Talking’.

You can download a copy of ‘Jigsaw Pieces’  here

You  follow Carol at her blog: http://carolhedges.blogspot.co.uk/

Or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/carol.hedges.779?ref=ts

Twitter @carolJhedges

http://www.Facebook Carol Hedges;

www. Shewrites.com (American).

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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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INTERVIEW WITH LOUISE MARLEY

Louise Marley is the author of three romantic suspense novels, all set in a fictional area based on the New Forest. They can be read in any order.

Her first published novel was Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, which was shortlisted for Poolbeg‘s ‘Write A Bestseller’ competition. She has also written articles for the Irish press and short stories for British women’s magazines such as Take A Break and My Weekly. Before taking up writing, Louise worked as a civilian administrative officer for the police.

Although born in Southampton, Louise now lives in Wales with her husband, children and a hamster named George.

As well as her website www.louisemarley.co.uk you can also find Louise on Facebook  and Twitter


Hello Louise, and a warm welcome to my blog. Can I ask if you have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always written stories, for as long as I can remember. So I never thought about being a writer, because I already was one – if that makes sense?

Perfectly! Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?

As a child I remember writing a story about a family of mice who lived in a Christmas tree. I suspect I was influenced by a certain Disney cartoon about a pair of chipmunks!

Mmm, yes I can understand that one! And so what was the first thing you had published?

I wrote a short story for Take A Break magazine, about a delinquent dog. I based the dog on my mother’s labrador, who was always getting into trouble.

After you had been published in magazines, did you try writing any other kinds of books before you settled on romantic comedy/suspense?

 I originally wrote children’s stories, then I wrote a fantasy novel, which was a kind of cross between Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and based on Irish mythology. I have no idea why!

Sounds fascinating! So what was it that made you abandon Star Wars/Lord of the Rings mash-ups and drew you to write romantic suspense? Was it any particular author or books?

 It gradually dawned on me that while I was writing fantasy, I was reading completely different genres. So I decided to write the kind of book I enjoyed reading most, which was usually something by Jilly Cooper or Harlan Coben. So that’s probably how the romantic suspense thing came about – I inadvertently blended the two.

Your first romantic suspense, ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ was shortlisted for Poolbeg’s ‘Write A Bestseller’ competition. That must have been a very exciting experience. Had you entered many other competitions before this one? And did you find it a challenge to write the dreaded second novel under that kind of spotlight?

It was very exciting to be offered a book contract after so many rejections. The way the acceptance letter had been written meant the first sentence was telling me who had won, so I assumed at first it was another rejection. It wasn’t until I’d read right down to the bottom of the letter that I realised they were offering me a three book contract.

Fortunately, by the time I was offered the contract, I’d already written the second book.

In that second novel, ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’, your heroine is an original mix of a police officer who becomes a ‘minder’. Have you ever had any ambitions yourself to join the front line of the police force or go into the personal protection business?

As I’m a complete wimp I’ve never had any desire to be a police officer. The original intention behind Why Do Fools Fall In Love was to write a book about the film industry; specifically a book set in the UK, not Hollywood. It would have been too easy to have the bodyguard as some alpha male saving a pretty blonde actress from a stalker, so I decided to swap the sexes around so that the bodyguard was the woman.

I see you’ve recently republished both ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’ and ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ as ebooks. Was it a daunting experience undertaking this yourself? How did you make the book ready to upload? And how did you create the lovely new covers and make sure you didn’t contravene any copyright?

I think the expression is ‘ignorance is bliss’! I’d read an article in Writing Magazine about how to publish your own ebooks, about the same time I’d listened to a talk given by author Freda Lightfoot on the same subject. I just followed the instructions on the Amazon website and published Why Do Fools Fall In Love without thinking too much about it. I’d have been happy if it had gone to sell a few copies a month. Instead, it’s been in the top 100 for over 4 months and was only knocked off the number one spot in the romantic suspense charts by Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.

Why Do Fools Fall In Love had been previously published by Poolbeg, although the rights had reverted back to me. I couldn’t use the same ISBN number, or the same cover, so I designed a new cover myself using a rights-free illustration I bought for £30. I did the same for the second book, although it was slightly more expensive as I used two illustrations instead of one.

Being in the top 100 sounds a real achievement, especially with your first ebooks! Did you find it a challenge publicising your ebooks yourself?

As I wasn’t expecting my books to be so successful, I didn’t really publicise them. I have a couple of hundred friends/followers on Facebook and Twitter; I told them the book was available to buy and that was about it!

So

is it an experience you would recommend to others?

I would recommend it to anyone wanting to re-publish their backlist, or who has been published before. I would hesitate to recommend it to someone unpublished unless their manuscript has been professionally critiqued, edited and proof read.

That’s an interesting perspective from someone who has been through both processes. And can you tell us what you are working on now, please?

I’m currently getting my third book, A Girl’s Best Friend, ready for publication as an ebook this spring. And I’ve recently finished a fourth book, about marine archaeology, which I hope to publish in the summer.

That sounds exciting! I’ll look forward to them. Marine archaeology definitely sounds intriguing.

 Many thanks for being interviewed on my blog, Louise.  

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