Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Introducing Linda Jones...

... who writes children's books.  Hello Linda and thanks for being here today.  Tell me all about following the fantasy...

It was April 2020, and at last, I was preparing to write Cavern’s Fall, the third book in the children’s magical fantasy series. Yet, I couldn’t throw off a disturbing sense of being ‘disconnected from reality’.
The storyline was mapped out. I could envisage the characters - the action – all the component parts were ticking over in my brain, ready to fly out onto the computer screen. Those words refused to budge. They stuck in my head like a clogged drain. Each night, as I tried to drift off to sleep, the story would play out in my head; seamlessly animated, the words flowing. 
Two books into the Oozing Magic series for 7 to 10-year-olds; I honestly thought the process would be easier the third time around. There again – I hadn’t foreseen the sudden deluge of self-doubt, compounded in no small way by the arrival of a Pandemic! 
Cut to July and I finally began to make some headway. Given the storyline was set at Halloween and, there were illustrations, editing deadlines to be met, was I worried? 
Oh, just a little! 
Writing for children of any age is never easy. They are, as I’ve discovered over the past four years, the keenest of critics. So, I am quite sure the underlying sense of urgency I was experiencing, impacted Cavern’s Fall. It certainly doesn't take long before the two main characters, Dylan and Emily are plunged into the action. 
As soon as the proverbial ink was dry on my computer screen, David Hailwood, illustrator and editor extraordinaire, leapt into action. Illustrators like David are a rare breed. Patient, incredibly talented, who can extract ideas from this author’s scribbles and transform them into amazing pieces of artwork. 
It’s usually when deadlines are tight or I’m feeling particularly frustrated, that I wish I had the comfort of a traditional publisher to fall back on. Someone to take on the burden of formatting, prepping for launch and publication days. But those moments are a rarity. There is a huge amount of satisfaction in opening up the first box of my books, knowing that all the hours of angst were worth it. 
I’m very pleased to say Cavern’s Fall made it to market and with days to spare. Although, as with so many other parts of our lives in these strange times, it’s been impossible to celebrate it’s ‘birth’ with the usual fanfare. Social media is no compensation for a face-to-face book launch. Zoom isn’t quite the same as a group of excited children sitting in front of me, listening avidly. Those shy conversations as we talk about our favourite bits from the other stories. The thrill of handing over a copy of my book in person…
However – what I do have is my laptop, fingers that work - most of the time - and a head full of stories desperate to escape. 

about the book… It’s Halloween – which is usually Dylan and Emily’s favourite time of year.
But this year there’s going to be a full moon, and the smell of bad magic is in the air. It would be far safer to stay at home and lock all the doors and windows… Dylan barely has time to set foot inside the 'Spooky Party In The Park' before he and his sister Emily are plunged into another breathtaking adventure. Almost captured by a mysterious veiled Flinyor, they are chased by monstrous flying Begrogs, while they race to try and save their friends Snifflebit and Quintus... and that’s just the beginning! Somewhere deep inside a mountain, the Flinyor have imprisoned their grandfather. Can they outrun the Begrogs and Flinyor guards to find him in time – and will they finally discover the secrets he’s been keeping from them? 

about the author… Once upon a time, when the world was very different - I was a Psychiatric nurse. Now, I'm a storyteller and Independent Author/publisher, with five books under my belt. As a writer of children's fiction, I enjoy delving into the worlds of fantasy and adventure. Throw in a healthy dollop of science fiction and I'm very happy. 
Originally from South Wales (UK), I have always loved listening to stories and grew up on a rich diet of Welsh and Greek myths and legends, so it isn't so surprising my books are full of weird creatures! 
Right now, I'm to be found roosting near Pontefract, West Yorkshire, where the rain tastes and smells pretty much the same as the Welsh valleys. 

You can find the books on Amazon and you can follow Linda on her Website or on Facebook

And if you are an author, with a connection to Yorkshire and wish to know more about us or to join us then check out our Website 

Look out for more Yorkshire authors in the coming weeks...

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

I am very pleased to announce...

...that Jacques Forêt is back with a new and testing case...


I've decided to re-schedule the post that I had planned to run today because I have some very exciting news that I would like to share.

After several months of working on a very different project, I'm finally back with Jacques and his little team in the city of Mende.  Yes, that means that Book 5 in the series will be hitting the shelves on March 23rd, next year.  The book will be the first one published by Darkstroke Books - my publisher - in 2021.

Yes, I know it's been quite a while since the last one, but time seems to move very fast these days and before we all know it, March will be here along with the next story.  And during the intervening months I will be letting you have little bits and pieces of information about the characters, the story and the location I'm using for the setting in the book.

Just to give a very early hint of what's in store for you, here's the blurb :

On a quiet forest walk, Investigator Jacques Forêt encounters a sinister scene.  Convinced there is evidence of malicious intent, he treats his discovery as a crime scene.

But intent for what?  Without a body, how can he be sure that a crime has been - or is about to be - committed?  Without a body, how can Jacques be sure that it’s murder, and not suicide?  Without a body, how can the perpetrator be found?

A baffling case that tests Jacques to his limits.

#Mercœur will be published in print and e-format on March 23rd, 2021

You can pre-order your copy using the link :  mybook.to/Mercoeur


 

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Introducing Phill Featherstone...

...a fellow writer from Yorkshire and a member of Promoting Yorkshire Authors.  Hi Phill, thanks for being here and the floor is yours...

‘How did you know it was coming?’ That’s what one reader asked me on reading the final book in my REBOOT series. What prompted her comment was the subject. REBOOT is about a pandemic. Sadly that’s a very topical theme at the moment, and my reader credited me with being a prophet. Not surprisingly I am no such thing. The first book in the series, ‘Paradise Girl’, came out three years ago and had been conceived two years before. So what was it that gave me this idea?
It was simple, and sudden. At the time I was living in the country, my closest neighbour a long way away. I was alone in the house struggling with an idea that wasn’t going well. I went out into the garden and was struck by how still everything was. Even in the country there’s always some noise - birdsong, sheep bleating, a dog barking, a distant tractor, but this time there was nothing, and it felt as though I was the only living thing. Suppose I was? I thought. What might cause that? What would happen and how would I cope? It soon dawned on me that it would be a great theme for a story. But the main character shouldn’t be me, a grown man with a lot of miles under his belt. It should be someone much younger, a teenager with their life and all its promise before them. I went indoors and started to write and Kerryl, the heroine of Paradise Girl walked onto the page. 
A story about a pandemic isn’t an original idea. There are plenty of books and movies based on this theme. That’s not surprising, because actually there aren’t many plots at all – it’s been suggested less than ten – and there are certainly no new ones. What are they? 

1.  Rags to riches, and maybe back again; 
2.  Boy/girl meets boy/girl, wins them, and maybe loses them too; 
3.  The hero/heroine sets out on a journey to find something lost or achieve a goal; 
4.  Somebody with the world at their feet makes a mistake, often because of a fault in their own character, and loses everything; 
5.  Somebody who has been wronged looks for – and takes – revenge; 
6.  The hero/heroine has to cope in a challenging environment, often alone – e.g. marooned on an island, in space, quarantined; 
7.  A character is so consumed by jealousy that their personality becomes distorted and they act in ways that would have been inconceivable before; 
8.  The hero/heroine confronts a person or organisation much more powerful than they are, and has to draw on all their resources to survive; 
9.  A character or event from the past suddenly appears and overturns the status quo. 


It’s fun to go through books you’ve read and movies or tv dramas you’ve seen and match them to this list. Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Love Actually, Skyfall, Mars, Hamlet, Normal People, you name it. I’d be surprised if you find one that isn’t based on one of these ideas. Of course, many incorporate more than one, and various elements are brought in to add drama or facilitate the plot – for example dreams, prophecies, chance, an order. 
What does that mean for the writer? It doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to say, because every time one of these plots appears it’s in a fresh context brought about by a new telling. What it does mean is that we always have plenty to write about. If you’re stuck for ideas for your next novel, try this. Take a character – newspaper reports are a good source – pick one of the numbers above and develop a story involving your character and the theme you’ve chosen. Pick another number and incorporate that. Write your best seller. 

about the author… Phill was born and brought up in northern England. His first job was as a
teacher, and from this he went into education advisory work. He left to start with Sally, his wife, a company publishing educational materials. It was not until this business was sold, after ten years, that he found the time to give to writing. Paradise Girl, book 1 in a trilogy about a pandemic (the REBOOT series) appeared in 2017. Book 2, Aftershocks, came out in 2019 and book 3, Jericho Rose, in 2020. Phill has also written The God Jar, a mystery set partly in the present day and partly in Elizabethan times. His fifth novel, A Summer of Dreams, is due in the spring of 2021. 
When he’s not writing, Phill enjoys the theatre, galleries and museums, walking, and playing the saxophone.

You can get the books Here  You can follow Phill on Facebook  and on Twitter

Look out for more Yorkshire authors in the coming weeks... 


And if you are an author, with a connection to Yorkshire and wish to know more about us or to join us then check out our 
Website 

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

The Mysterious Affair at Styles


One hundred years ago this month, one of my favourite authors released onto the unsuspecting world a character that captivated my imagination and stayed with me throughout my life.  That author was Agatha Christie and that character was her Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.  He made his first appearance in The Mysterious Affair at Styles which was published in America in October 1920.  Unfortunately for us Brits, Poirot would not make it across the Atlantic until January 1921 when the book was published here.
I first came across detective fiction as a bored 12 year old who strayed across from the children’s section of the library to where all the books for adults were shelved.  Being a highly methodical child I began my browsing at the letter A.  My fist detective story was A Bone and a Hank of Hair by Leo Bruce.  Even now I can remember the cover and his amateur detective was Carolus Deene.  I can distinctly recall thinking what a ridiculous name Carolus was.  But my education at that point was incomplete and I had no idea that Carolus was the latinised version of the German name Carl which meant ‘free man’.  I got my book stamped by the librarian, who gave me an odd look when doing so, and I took it home and devoured it.  The pages had been well thumbed by many other readers so the book had been around for a while.  However, Carolus Deene, I thought, wasn’t really so clever, as I worked the ending before he did!
On further trips to the library I continued my search for these puzzle books as I thought of them, little understanding the complexity of the genre, nor realizing they fell into the category of cosy crime.  On reaching letter C, I not only discovered Agatha Christie but I also found Raymond Chandler, Leslie Charteris, G. K. Chesterton and Wilkie Collins.  By this time, I’d got used to the regular interrogations from the lady at the library and whenever she raised an eyebrow at one of my choices, I told her the queried book was for my dad!  But I was hooked.
My first ever Agatha Christie was Why Didn’t they Ask Evans?  And no that’s not a Poirot book, but the puzzle she so carefully laid out kept me guessing right until the end.  My first ever Poirot story was The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, first published in 1926.  From that point on I knew I would be reading every other story that featured this eccentric, but fascinating Belgian with his little grey cells.  I remained with letter C for a good few months and when the next Poirot book I wanted wasn’t available, I took up Christie’s Jane Marple series whilst I waited for the book I really wanted to be returned.  If there was no Poirot or Marple to read I started the Tommy and Tuppence Beresford stories.
Of course, by this time, I’d been rumbled.  It was a chance meeting in the local post office between my mum and the library lady and her need to enquire if my dad was enjoying all the detective fiction his daughter kept getting him on her own library card.  That necessitated a talk from my father about honesty and a trip with him to the library to apologise to the librarian for fibbing.  But the best bit wasn’t expected.  My dad then went onto say that he hoped my reading habits would not be questioned again and that I could read detective fiction as much as I liked with his blessing.  Until that point I had had no idea that my father found detective fiction interesting.  From then on my choice of books was always a subject for discussion, often with him recommending other writers such as Simenon, Conan Doyle and many, many others.
Regrettably dad is no longer around, but I have often wondered what he would have thought or said if he knew that the day we went to library would set me on the path that would culminate with me creating my own detective and writing my own cosy crime stories.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Jottings from the Journals...


... I read Lawrence Durrell's book, Caesar's Vast Ghost, some years ago and, as is often the case with books about France, I felt compelled to see what the writer had seen.   As I was leafing through my journals recently I came across this…


Wednesday, 19th

… in Gard this time around. My purpose is to visit the Pont du Gard, a vast piece of Roman architecture that Durrell dubbed to be 'so huge in conception' that it ranked along side Westminster Abbey.  Having seen it, I know exactly what he means.
The Pont du Gard sits across the valley of the river Gardon, which rises in the mountains of the Cévennes close to St-Martin-de-Lansuscle (48).  The river runs for about 127 kilometres (just short of 80 miles) until it joins the Rhone just north of Beaucaire.  The bridge, is not a route across the valley as I had originally thought before I read my Durrell, is an aqueduct.  It was built solely to bring water to the Roman settlement of Nemausus - that's our modern city of Nîmes.  At the time, Nemausus was a vast city of some 60,000 inhabitants and a regional capital.  The modern city has a population only 3 times the size of the ancient one.  But the roman legacy is very much in existance.
The aqueduct, which once carried water along its 50K (about 30 miles) length, was built under the auspices of emperor Augustus in the 1st century AD by his son-in-law, Marcus Visanius Agrippa. I guess that means even the ancient Romans kept it all in the family!
As I stood looking at the monument, I had to marvel at the sheer scale. But, when you take into account that it is only a little short of 2,000 years old, that it stands 49 metres (161 feet) above the water, that there is no mortar holding the vast blocks of limestone together, you
L'Arene, Nîmes
surely have to admit that the Romans must have known what they were doing. You also, surely have to admit that when they invaded this area of France, they very definitely came with the intention of staying. But, then my thoughts turned to how? There were no mechanical diggers back then. And what about the vast amount of human effort involved in the day-to-day work of construction…


… When I got back home after that trip I clearly did some more research as I've added some notes at the side of the original entry.  Apparently the edifice took between 15 and 20 years to build and used up to 1,000 workers at any one time.  When I visited Nîmes three years ago, I was able to see the other end of the aqueduct.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Introducing Kathleen Swan...

...poetess, mum, step-mum and nurse.  Hi Kathleen, thanks very much for taking some time out of your busy schedule to be here today.  So, tell me more...

Becoming a stepmother is a challenge, undertaking it in my twenties was perhaps lunacy but that is what I did.  I took on my husband’s four children, three girls and one boy, a large town house and a husband with a busy career.  I think I spent the first five years permanently tired and never quite seemed to finish the list of jobs in a month never mind a day.  However, there was tremendous satisfaction in being part of their lives as they grew into young adults.  But if you want to complicate the situation further have a baby of your own why don’t you!  Well that’s just what we did and of course there was no shortage of attention and people willing to wheel the baby round the park.
I had been an only child until I was nine and being part of a busy family was a new experience.  I didn’t drive so walked miles to brownies, guides, school events and when I got a bike with a baby seat on the back I found freedom.  I could fit in even more in a day!  Of course there were days when I could have given it all up and run away but I started to write down some of the frustrations and turn them into magazine pieces.  I began to look back on my upbringing and the lives of my parents during the 1950s when money was tight and we had to make do and mend.  I gained a greater understanding of myself and what I wanted to do when I finally had the time. 
Coniston from Brantwood
After the children had grown up I had a busy working life in the NHS for 26 years and looked after my parents in their later years.  However, when my husband asked me once what I was going to do with my retirement,  I answered very firmly that I was going to write and in particular I was going to write poetry.  So I started to pick up my habit of scribbling in a notebook and signed up for courses to help me understand more about how to write well.  I found that my instinct was to write about the people and places I knew best so that is what I have been doing for the last eight years.  I have gone back to my emotional roots in the Lake District and written about characters from my childhood and places which left a lasting impression on me.  I think being a step-mother taught me tolerance, perseverance, which battles to fight and how to time things to my advantage.  All valuable in writing and getting work published.
In 2019 I was selected to work with a young composer to produce a song which was performed at the  International Leeds Lieder Festival.  I firmly believe that poetry is at its best when it is performed and through belonging to Yorkshire Authors I had the opportunity to take part in The Ilkley Literature Festival last Autumn.  Having had poems published in books and magazines, I finally got round to gathering my work together and Ripples Beyond the Pool was published by Coverstory books  last summer.

about the author and the book… Kathleen was brought up in rural Cumbria and now lives in North Yorkshire.  She spent her working life in the NHS and, since her retirement, is able to concentrate on family, gardening and studying and writing poetry.   Her poetry embraces relationships with family and friends and reflects a love of rural life and characters.  It also takes us on visits to other countries and cultures.  Her poems are published on-line, in anthologies, magazines and her first collection is “Ripples Beyond the Pool.  


You can get the book on Amazon


Look out for more Yorkshire authors in the coming weeks...





And if you are an author, with a connection to Yorkshire and wish to know more about us or to join us then check out our Website

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Please welcome friend and author, Allan Hudson...

...to the blog today.  Hi Allan, and thanks very much for taking time out from your busy schedule to be here today.  So, tell me, what is your current release?

AH  Titled The Alexanders Vol. 1 1911 - 1920, it is my first attempt at historical fiction.  It begins in Scotland in 1911 when my main character – Dominic Alexander – must go live with his bachelor uncle.  Due to unfortunate circumstances in his family’s life, he and his siblings are divided up amongst relatives.  Good fortune and misfortune follow the young man as he tries to fit in until he must make a decision that will change his life forever.
AW   What first got you into writing and why?
AH   Having always enjoyed reading since I was quite young, I always wanted to write a story or stories.  I took a creative writing course when I was in my early forties and the instructor often commented that my writing showed promise but it was only after I discovered the writing of Bryce Courtenay – my favorite author – that I was inspired to begin.  He started writing after he retired in his mid-fifties and went on to pen many best sellers.  I realized then; it was never too late to start.
AW  You write action-packed adventure novels - I really enjoyed Wall of War.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
AH  Thank you for those kind words Angela.  I read many types of stories but I must admit action novels hold my attention best.  Leon Uris and Robert Ludlum, do it so well, as does Harlan Coben.  These were the stories I wanted to tell.  Not so much a mystery but the thrill of the chase.  The danger involved.  And thanks to you, I’ve been introduced to cozy mysteries and I love your Jacques Forêt character and I’m considering something similar.
As most authors, I’ve taken some literary license in embellishing scenes and places but a lot of research went into Wall of War.  I’ve always been intrigued by the Inca and their clever masonry talents as well as their love and craftsmanship of gold adornments.  The unique geography of Peru.  The Amazon.  The Spanish destruction of this exceptional civilization.  The Sacred valley of Cuzco, etc.  So much to learn and bring to my readers.
I also love historical fiction as well.
AW  You also write short stories and some of those fit other genres - In A Box of Memories we have some historical fiction and a bit of sci-fi in The Far Out Mall.  Is there any particular genre that you prefer over others?
AH  Short stories have always appealed to me and I’ve read several collections. While my novels are more action/adventure, short stories let me explore other genres.  It’s quite fun to dabble with history or outer space or fantasy to see how it works in a shorter format.  I would be hard put to pick one genre as a favorite but I enjoy a story that makes me feel good at the end.  Love and family.  Older people relating to younger folks appeals to me as in One Bedroom Ark and Lloyd and the Baby.  Those were the most fun to write.
Short stories are often a good way to set up a novel perhaps, as in Shattered Figurine.  It started out as a short story.  I’m hoping to do the same with The Honey Trap.
Nice!  I guess the car drew the short straw!
AW  Famous authors, such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas, had a special space for writing.  Do you have a writing ‘shed’ of your own?
AH  Yes, I do.  I remodeled my garage to be a lounge and writing spot.  I have a desk set up in front of a window that faces the east and I like to write in the early mornings.  I can watch the sun rise over the bay.  I work with a laptop, notepad and total silence.  Works great for me.
AW  Finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead or a character from a book, who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?
AH   I would most definitely want to spend the time with my favourite musician, JJ Cale.  Knowing what I know now, I would offer to write his memoir.  A very humble man.
In 1978, due to the oddest circumstances, I was introduced to his music and have been a devoted fan since.  JJ’s music is difficult to categorize as he writes and perform many types of music; rock, blues, country and is credited with creating the Oklahoma Sound.  Cale’s music was never chart topping but he is perhaps one of the most influential musicians of the past generations.  He is commonly referred to as a musician’s musician.  His songs made Eric Clapton famous when he recorded After Midnight and Cocaine, two of Cale’s most popular tunes.  Cale has been covered by many individuals and bands.  Unfortunately, he passed away in 2013.

about the book… In the turbulent waters off Saltcoats, Scotland, Danny Alexander dies in a boating accident.  He leaves behind a wife, seven children and no hope. Dominic is the middle child.  With a broken heart, his mother is forced to leave him with his bachelor uncle, Duff.  None of them are happy with the decision.
Eleven-year-old Dominic Alexander must earn his keep. There are no free rides.  Yet despite the difficulties, he finds his place in the structured world of his uncle and overcomes his loneliness.
Fortune and misfortune follow the young man until adversity forces him to make a decision that will affect the rest of his life.  Is emigrating to Canada the answer?

You can get the book on Amazon

You can follow Allan on his Website  on Facebook   Twitter  and on LinkedIn

You can read more about Allan, his writing and his guests on his blog The South Branch Scribbler 

You can read my review of A Box of Memories here on the blog on November 3rd.