Welcome to By the Letter for May 2021, and especially to new subscribers. It was brilliant to see how so many of the bits and pieces behind the links in April were read by you all, and some great comments received.
Lockdown is easing, spring is up and down, but summer isn't far away. Let's hope for more sunshine, especially as Dean Writers Circle is planning its monthly creative writing session in the garden of one of our members at the end of the month. Meanwhile, there's lots of news to share.
I have to start with a huge thank you to those of you who have read Keepers, and especially for some wonderful reviews. Here is one to share, with many thanks to this reader.
If you are thinking of doing a review, please do so. Reviews are gold for authors working hard to let readers know there's a book out there they will enjoy. Thank you!
And if you've not yet read Keepers, all the purchase links are here.
Keepers was also the subject of author and artist Rue Sparks' book review for May. Their detailed, thoughtful review can be found here. Thank you, Rue.
More writing-related news
Good news for the Aus contingent. Amazon will soon start printing paperbacks there, which will mean shorter delivery times and less costly postage. Keepers will also continue to be available through The Book Depository for free postage.
At times this past month I've felt like a media star! Local station Dean Community Radio and also BBC Radio Gloucestershire, kindly talked to me about Keepers. I was also invited by Vince Stevenson to appear on his BoomersOnBooks YouTube channel. Live. For an hour. It was lots of fun, because as most of you know, talking for an hour isn't really a problem for me! If you missed it, and to hear other, excellent, interviews check it out here.
The link above takes you to a new website page Look and Listen, where my stories read by Jacqueline Belle for Storytime for Grownups can also be heard. The newest is Sabrina's Rising, which also happens to be the story selected among the top ten to be read at Stroud Short Stories.
The Stroud Short Stories event happened on 9 May, as noted in April's newsletter. It was lovely to hear the other nine stories, which are now up permanently. Some are hilarious, some are very poignant, so you will find something to entertain for sure.
The two other stories of mine which Jacqueline has recorded, now appear in the new Storytime Anthology. And along with many other local writers, I've also recorded two pieces of flash fiction for the Bream Community Library's Story Box project - a brilliant initiative by two volunteers, Paul and Alan, to record local poetry and prose for the record. If you're a writer from the Forest of Dean, they would love to hear from you.
Storytime for Grownups Anthology
A collection of stories and poems from Series 1 and 2. Click on the image for more details.
Of interest to readers and writers, is the blog post on beta readers whichI was asked to do for The Romance Bloke. It's proved hugely popular, so take a look here to find out what these creatures are and what they do. (Now you know what to expect if I ask you to beta read my next book.)
Talking of next book - draft one is finished! Yay! I attended a self-editing course during April and can't wait to put the tools and advice I learned there into practice. But first, I have another small project to complete which I hope to tell you about in June (no promises!)
Flowering wild garlic and gravestones
This image seemed appropriate to marry spring in the Forest with my Writer's Corner blog post on 'Story endings'.
The profusion of wild garlic on the banks of the stream beside the village cemetery, is very beautiful. And yes, we have been having wild garlic dishes: a chicken curry which is a particular favourite, wild garlic pesto in the freezer for later in the summer, and wild garlic powder, where an oven full of leaves resulted in one jar of 'powder'. Good to sprinkle on spring lamb, omelettes, chicken, into a risotto... yum.
AUTHOR INTERVIEW - KAREN HONNOR
Karen is a multi-talented writer, with poetry, plays, short prose and a novella under her belt. Her work is very personal, and in her books and on her blog she openly deals with the issues facing women as they move through motherhood, midlife and menopause.
In our interview this month, Karen talks about her work, and how it has connected deeply with her readers and, through them, others in the community. So read on...
I bought this off the back of Circe, which I loved, and it didn't disappoint. Miller uses her normal exquisite imagery to bring this heroic and tragic tale to life. Read my thoughts here.
THE SNOWY MOUNTAINS CONSTRUCTION SCHEME
In Keepers, Teddy’s 21st birthday coincides with the beginning of construction of the vast engineering wonder which was The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric scheme: 17th October 1949. It took 25 years to complete, with seven power stations, 16 major dams, 80 kilometres of aqueducts and 145 kilometres of interconnected tunnels built over that time in rugged, mountainous country with no roads or communication facilities. Teddy is dismissive of the scheme, although his mates from the camp are keen to go for the financial rewards. The scheme later plays out as the background to the final chapters of the story, but there are no spoilers in this article here.
An amazing project, both from an engineering and a human perspective.
Now I've tackled the tricky topic of Story Endings, which seemed appropriate given where I was with my new project. Let me know what you think, and I hope you find it useful.
What's coming up in June? A special offer to keep the kids reading over the summer (and a topic which fits with the UK's Summer Reading Challenge); an extract from one of my books, or perhaps the current project - hmmm; an author interview; book review; and blog post on a topic which, when done badly, can send me screaming at the walls.
And the news I mentioned, with no promises!
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