Is it really four years since my debut novel ‘Alice’ was published?

Is it really four years since my debut novel ‘Alice’ was published?

How time flies by when life happens at a very fast pace. Not that I am complaining. No! quite the opposite in fact. Since January 2017 when my long-awaited dream of becoming an author was realized, I have evolved from being a wife, mother and nurse into the role of an author and no one is more surprised than me.

Of course, I am still a wife and mother, but more often than not I am a doting grandma to four amazing young grandchildren who are growing up in a very different world than I grew up in.

They are so full of surprises and fill me with pride. All of them understand what a virus is now and can draw or scribble an example of what the coronavirus looks like.

My eldest grandson age eight is so much better than me with his IT skills and has even produced a short video to advertise my third novel ‘Union Blues’. (see below)

 

 

I actually completed this two years ago, but those of you familiar with the process of publication will understand that is only the beginning.

I have returned to ‘Austin Macauley’ the publisher of my debut novel to publish and market this exciting story about how life is sometimes not easy and how others may think you have a perfect life but behind the scenes, it is quite another tale.

This is the third in my social voice series. In the first novel ‘Alice’, I tackled the subject of Alcohol. In light of Covid, this is becoming an increasing problem. Recent research suggests that one in four adults in the UK admit to drinking more in lockdown and one in ten furloughed workers are drinking in secret. Worrying statistics but even worse is that provisional data from January to September 2020 show 5,460 deaths in the UK were alcohol-related. Shocking and upsetting in equal measure,

Love, Secrets, and Absolution my second novel, raises awareness of a different kind. Mental health has been very much in the news this last few years and has been of great concern to the NHS and the government. While this story is fundamentally about mental health, it also tackles undiagnosed autism.

Union Blues my third novel raises a different kind of issue. Watch this space to discover the publication date and to read the synopsis, which I hope will intrigue you into purchasing a pre-order copy.

Happy reading.

 

 

World Poetry Day

World Poetry Day March 21st

Founded by UNESCO in 1999, World Poetry Day is a red-letter day in the literary diary. Set up to recognize the international poetry movement it is a day to celebrate the joy of prose.

Using rhythms and imagery to stimulate imagination and emotions, poetry can be written in many forms. Poetry is in fact all around us. For example, the lyrics used with music and the use of poetry in advertising.

One of my favorites being ‘The currency of kindness’ by Jo Bell.

https://www.nationwide.co.uk/about/why-choose-nationwide/voices/have-a-voice

 

Not only is poetry all around us it is also inclusive. We are introduced to simple poetry during childhood in the form of nursery rhymes. These often date back centuries.

Consider ‘Ring around the Rosie’ an English folksong and playground singing game. This first appeared in print in 1881.

The ring refers to the round, red rash that is the first symptom of the plague.

A pocket full of posies refers to the practice of placing flowers around the infected person.

Sadly, we all fall down refers to the high death rate.

Ashes to Ashes – cremation of the infected person.

This is all very sad. However, not all poetry is sad. There are many uplifting poems of love and devotion, courage and bravery, Joy and hope.

My contribution to World Poetry Day this year is a poem I wrote some time ago while sailing with my husband on our narrowboat down the beautiful Trent and Mersey canal. This is one of a collection of poems I have been working on for a number of years called My Autumn Almanac.

 

   Tiller Girl.  

Hand firmly on the tiller

Reminiscing her maiden voyage.

Time of anticipation, excitement, love.

Making memories – now at risk of destruction

She holds the tiller tight.

 

Creaking solid gates, heavy like her heart

Snap shut, closing out the world

Trapped between a green, fur-lined brick chamber

Twenty – two tons of steel, sink into her abyss

Yet still! The boat floats in the shallows.

 

This is where she is. In the shallows, holding back her tears.

Though her heart weeps, her eyes are dry

The sun tries hard to please her

Drying the salty sweat from her palms.

She holds the tiller tight.

 

Overhead the yellow body of a cargo plane

Cuts the blue and white

Disturbed clouds will not release their tears

Searching for her white amongst her blue

Makes for weariness of bone

 

Above the noise of creaking gate

She hears a distant sound

Children’s laughter igniting the air

Her babies spring to mind.

When she herself, once young and free

Was not enslaved by doubt

 

Like curtains in the opening scene

The gates slowly part.

Out she breathes then inhales

As blood pumps through her racing heart

 

Once more her spirit rises as the phoenix from the fire

Boys on bikes race above on the bridge of hope

Laughter, screaming abandonment, joy.

The tiller in her hand stays strong

She controls the rudder, her direction her journey

Once more she enters the light

A future of possibilities on the river of life.

 

 

Welcome to spring.

Welcome to the month of March my friends.

A month of new beginnings. I can’t help but think about the words of Wordsworth and his fields of golden daffodils when I see my wall calendar with its image of spring flowers and the number of circles around prominent March dates. Sadly for me, one very important date will take on a different meaning this year. March the twenty-eighth will be the first birthday following my beautiful mum’s death last year.

As a young child of the fifties, a time of post-war change when everything seemed possible, my mum used to recite the following poem to me. This holds special memories from my childhood.

Written by Sara Coleridge, daughter of the famous English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, it evokes a connection to our ever-changing seasons. Below is a short extract for your enjoyment.

 

‘March brings breezes loud and shrill,

stirs the dancing daffodil.

April brings the primrose sweet,

scatters daisies at our feet.

June brings tulips, lilies, roses.

Fills the children’s hand with posies.

Hot July brings cooling showers.

apricots and gillyflowers.

 

Second hand Katie

Second hand Katie.

It may surprise my readers to see this article promoting second-hand books.

Hold that thought, for even though I should be promoting my own works of fiction and poetry I am a great advocate of purchasing second-hand books. In addition, I get great pleasure from promoting other author’s work.  This I do in my monthly column called Mansfield Bookshelf a regular feature of The Mansfield and Ashfield News Journal. In addition, I promote authors on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Second-hand books are a great way to discover books from all over the world. The choice is massive Classics, biographies, memoirs, in fact, every genre is available.

Some second–hand booksellers specialize in rare and antique books. How exciting to own such a copy? What about a first edition, can you imagine the joy of that. The only first editions I can lay claim to are my own published books: Alice, Love, Secrets and Absolution and my collection of poetry ‘Chameleon Days.’ Very soon my long-awaited third contemporary fiction novel ‘Union Blues’ will be going to print. Another first edition for my collection.

Do any of you own a signed copy? It can be such a thrill to personally speak to the author and get a signed copy. I have a number of signed copies from literary events and promotional tours. These books I treasure and selfishly keep for myself as I learned the hard way when I was a student and loaned my books to never see them again.

Over lockdown, I have done a fair amount of reminiscing and traveling down memory lane. Thinking about the books I studied for GCSE and A-Levels it occurred to me that I don’t have one single copy of the books I studied. I guess I must have passed them on to other students. One book in particular I felt sad about not having a copy.

Before the day was out my second-hand copy of Seventeenth-Century Poetry edited by Hugh Kenner was winging its way to me via the courtesy of my google search.

It arrived well-thumbed with lots of penciled notes in the margins. Printed in the United States by Holt, Rhinehart, and Winston and cataloged at the library of Congress. The owner’s name or at least one of the owners is not very clear but looks like Viv Moorhouse. How wonderfully intriguing.

How I was transported back in time as I read Donne, Jonson, Herbert, Crashaw, Townshend, Marvell, and others.

Such joy.

BOOK REVIEW.

 

The Little Bookshop of Love Stories

Written by Jaimie Admans.

Take a good look at the title. How can any book-lover resist? I for one could not possibly pass by this or even just give it a second glance. Everything about the title screams ‘buy me, buy me now.’

However, my friends, it is now confession time. This was one of three books that my like-minded daughter Anna-Lisa gave me as part of my Xmas gift this year. The year of the lockdown, World war three brought about by microscopic organisms we cannot reason with.

Such a perfect time to lose oneself in a beautiful fantasy world of a country village with a bookshop filled with fascinating second-hand books that contain heartfelt messages.

The village in question has the delightful name of Buntingorden and just to get my imagination firing on all four cylinders, it is in The Cotswolds: a picturesque English location that conjures up everything quaint and perfect about my favorite country in the whole world.

In my mind’s eye, I see a village with colourful bunting gently swaying in the summer breeze, a quaint bookshop, which of course I would find hard to resist and wait for this. The most perfect name for this bookshop ‘Once-Upon-A-Page.

Oh! This is the stuff that my dreams are made of. Owning such a bookshop and winning it in a raffle gets my heart racing that little bit faster.

This is exactly what happened to the protagonist Hallie in this well-crafted magical story. Though as with all good story-lines, everything is not rosy in the garden. For one thing, the shop is in financial difficulties and the sharks are at the door. This particular shark is called Drake who we later discover is not just a shark, but has a little more significance in the story. (No spoilers.)

I will come to the love stories in a moment, for now, can I say that the author has created the most delightful man I have ever met on a page. Simply my perfect guy. Kind, bookish, talented, and simply gorgeous, Dimitri is the perfect match for me, whoops I mean Hallie.

When they find hidden messages of love inside some old books, they begin to investigate and discover some very intriguing information.

If you are a romantic and a lover of books, then this is one I recommend.

HAPPY READING.

The Other People.

Book Review.  The other people by C. J. Tudor.

My attention was first drawn to this author when I learned that she lives in Nottinghamshire like myself. At the time, I was researching local authors to write an article in the monthly column I write for The Mansfield And Ashfield News Journal, titled Mansfield Bookshelf.

In the 2019 spring edition, I featured The Chalk Man and, in the Autumn edition, I featured The Taking of Annie Thorne. Both of these are five-star reads of the highest quality.

This brings me to my review of the third book written by C.J.Tudor

I was unable to put this down. Cliché I know, but the truth no less. I devoured this book over two afternoons, completing it in the early hours of the morning with gritty tired eyes.

This is a story of grief, loss, hope, and intrigue. I love the fact that the main character Gabe is determined to find his daughter, no matter what he has to suffer in his quest for the truth.

There is a lot going on in this story, each character is well developed and integral to the outcome of this intense story which kept me tense and on edge throughout. There was never a point, where the writing did not grab my attention.

Here is a taster from the blurb.

Driving home one night, Gabe sees the face of a little girl he knows in the rear of the car in front. She mouths – ‘Daddy’. He never sees his five – year old daughter again.

The police believe she’s dead. But three years later, Gabe still drives the roads, searching for the car that took Izzy.

Intriguing! Yes, I think so too.

 

The things I learn from playing Trivial Pursuit

The things I learn from playing Trivial  Pursuit.

During a recent game of trivia with my husband (a bonus to our lockdown situation I might add). A particular question involving literature caught my attention.

Aimed at me, for a pie no less this was the question.

‘What is Widseth, written in the 6th century, England’s first known version of?

  

Well, I had no idea at all and as my husband smugly announced the answer, ‘A Poem’, I vowed to myself that this was one piece of trivia that I was going to investigate.

As a lover of poetry and the author of my own collection, how could I not be intrigued about Widseth.

The following day my old friend and teacher Google directed me to a mass of information which it is my pleasure to share with those who are interested.

I soon discovered the true spelling is Widsith.

Apparently, it is the title of an old English poem probably from the 7th century, although the trivia answer says the 6th. Whoever wrote this answer was probably playing safe because the content of the poem suggests the protagonist, a minstrel makes a number of claims pertaining to have occurred between the 4th and 6th century.

Interestingly the modern English meaning of Widsith is far traveler.

Could this minstrel have traveled in the Tardis?

Even more fascinating is that this poem is preserved in the oldest book of English Literature in the world. The Exeter Book.

Now have I got your attention, my fellow book lovers?

Widsith is a wanderer of far and wide. He tells of his travels and speaks of the feudal halls he sings in. He tells of how the men loved his songs and gave him gifts. He sings of war and of the art of telling stories through his songs.

 

 The Exeter Book a 10th-century anthology of poetry is a literary manuscript of international importance secured in the Exeter Cathedral Library.

Also known as the Exeter Dean and Chapter Manuscript 3501 what adds to this remarkable story is that it was written down by a single scribe, most likely a Monk. Even more fascinating is the fact, that this monk chose to scribe in Anglo – Saxon (Old English) as opposed to the more traditional Latin.

So now I have learned a little more poetic knowledge I can go forward with confidence that in the unlikely event that this question will pop up when I sit in the millionaire chair and answer that final question. I won’t have to worry about selling any more books.

 

 

 

Book Review. The Testaments. Written by Margaret Attwood.

The Testaments written by Margaret Attwood.

I was late to the parade with the Handmaids tale which I confess I did not read, instead, I watched the emotional and gripping drama on Netflix, becoming almost addicted to the series.

Desperate to know what became of Offred, her daughter, and husband I ordered The Testaments from my local library and was thrilled to be presented with my copy one day before lockdown.

I anticipated long days when I would curl up and devour this award-winning novel.

Oh, how disappointed I was. To be honest, I struggled at times, constantly searching the narrative to take me back to the Handmaids Tale.

For the most part the narrative was from three women Agnes, Nicole, and Aunt Lydia. The only narrative I found interest in was Aunt Lydia. To discover the grassroots of her journey to Gilead was what made this book worth reading.

Reading about the impending downfall of Gilead was somewhat satisfying and at times Margaret Attwood’s prose was equal to her writing in The Handmaids tale.

As an author myself, I know how hard it is to write a successful sequel, so it must be difficult to follow on from such an amazing introduction to the world of Gilead.

A steep learning curve

A steep learning curve my friends is what I and every new or potential author have to navigate in the world of publishing. Not that I’m complaining you understand. No, I am just reminiscing the time before my debut novel Alice was published, and in reality, how little I knew of this complicated and competitive world.

By the time I published my second book ‘Love, Secrets and Absolution, I was less naïve although still a long way from keeping up with the fundamental aspects of publishing. A world that has changed significantly in the past few years as traditional publishers are now competing with indie publishing.

With bookstores closing down it can be difficult to physically market books. The digital world and social platforms are accessible to everyone and although at the beginning of my journey from writer to author this was new to me, I soon realized the value of advertising my books this way.

That does not deter me from valuing the many published articles in magazines, journals, and the press. I value these very much and always navigate to the book club pages and the book review articles.

Since the publication of my debut novel, I have had the pleasure of writing for The Mansfield and Ashfield News Journal a local monthly edition that is distributed locally and available digitally.

This month for the first time, my article titled ‘Mansfield Bookshelf is featured in another journal,’ The Newark and Ashfield’ News journal. This gives me the opportunity to promote both local and well-known authors.

Please take a peep at the link below.

 

 

https://newarknewsjournal.co.uk/past-editions 

Writing down your problems can help to solve them.

 

For those of you who have been following my blog posts since I began in 2017, it will come as no surprise to learn that during 2020 with all of its uncertainty I have continued with my journal writing which has become more important than ever.

With life in limbo and currently no sign of this changing it can be difficult to remain positive and focussed. With more people than ever feeling anxious and stressed it is important to realise that life can be and should be simple. Sometimes we can make things more complicated than they actually are. Trying to please everyone can get a bit exhausting so try and embrace who you really are. Be true to yourself.

Write down what’s on your mind, this way you can transfer all of those emotions that are doing a loop – the -loop in your head pushing up your adrenaline and cortisol levels. It doesn’t have to be a Moleskine journal or a top of the range hardback diary. No, just keep it simple and write down those thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are trapped inside of your mind. Release them as though releasing trapped birds from a cage. Allow the negativity to fly away.

Writing down your problems really does help to solve them.

 


Writing a journal is therapetic - k.l loveley