Welcome especially to new subscribers, love having you on board!
The picture above is from a visit recently with my visiting son and his lovely wife to Westbury Gardens, a 17thC Dutch Water Garden hard by an ancient church with an overgrown and fascinating graveyard. (Point of interest - do you know the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery? Answer at the bottom of the newsletter.)
THE NEWS Post the Gardens, we went along to the amazing Scarr Bandstand for an open air concert (the link will take you to clips). Brilliant to lie on a rug in the warmth, catch up with several friends (the Forest is like that) and listen to some outstanding, foot tapping brass band music. A tradition which stays strong here and great to see so many young people coming through. My daughter-in-law said she felt like she was in a '50s movie (again, the Forest can be like that).
As house renovations are hotting up, that will be the last of visitors for months, I suspect. External painting is done, David is in his home office (we WhatsApp), and lots happening now on the inside, including stripping (5 layers of) old paper and painting and skimming artex ceilings. It will be lovely - eventually.
Forest Books and Crafts is open
On Saturday 16th July, the Forest gained a bookshop once more, the opening honours done by two well known local authors, Shoo Raynor and Andrew Taylor. A fun, hot, event. Tina and her husband are doing a great job there, so if you're local, please visit them in Market Place, Coleford. Sammy's Walks is, as ever, selling well, but I'm thrilled to have also sold a couple of books!
Summer in the Forest
Means lots of activities, and on the same weekend the bookshop opened, members of Dean Writers Circle spread themselves among various events, some of us squeezing in two, or even three. It was great to be back at Jolter's Cider Pub in Mitcheldean for an afternoon of poetry readings, some amusing, some chilling, all from prize-winning local poets.
Book news - find your next read!
Keepers is sharing its title with some forty other women's fiction contemporary and historical novels in this promotion. Have a browse, see what takes your fancy. Amazon UK still has Keepers kindle version for a mere £1.99, so if you haven't already grabbed a copy now's a good time.
River Witch has gone out to the early reviewers, ahead of release on 9 September. And the first review came in very quickly.
'A beautifully written fantasy novel'
'A delightful adult fantasy not to be missed! .... a unique tale ....a story of courage in the face of intolerance, of love lost and found, and ultimately the triumph of love over ignorance .... high, lyrical language creates a sense of time and setting ...'
I'll take it!
The physical launch is now set for Thursday evening 20 October at Newnham Library, with a Meet the Author event which includes a buffet dinner provided by committee members. I've been to these before and it's worth going just for the delicious food. Tickets will be available next month, but if you can come, please calendar the date. It would be good to see you! Meanwhile, make sure of your copy by pre-ordering, and pay on the day of release.
Another successful ending to a school project, which brought together Reading the Forest, Dean Writers Circle and Dean Scribblers. Years 5 and 6 at this local primary learned about prisoners of war and evacuees in the Forest in WW2, and then wrote their own stories based on these events. We also did a class story, which had some exciting moments. As you can see, there was considerable excitement when they received their anthologies, and certificates of course. More of this coming up next school year.
Wise men and women
Early in River Witch, Aaron tells a young Hester: ‘You and I are not ordinary folk, little mistress. We are wise. We call the river by her goddess name, Sabrina.
In the book,I’ve used the concept of wise men and women for my own ends, but in this post I want to share a little information about the real wise men and women, or cunning (skilful or knowledgeable) folk, who practised in the UK from mediaeval times to the early 20th century.
Thrilled to have the remarkable Jay Veloso Batista as my guest this month. A wonderful supporter of other authors, Jay holds down a busy job in between researching and writing his award winning Forerunner historical fantasy series. Jay is also an artist and he's shared some of his amazing work with us. Check it out here.
WRITERS ARE READERS TOO
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
A mesmerising read, and disturbing. This is my first Ishiguro (yes, only person on planet not to have read Remains of the Day but I do remember the wonderful film with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson - nearly 30 years ago!) but won't be my last. Here are my thoughts.
WRITER'S CORNER - Ease draft one pain
Because there's not enough to do getting River Witch out into the world, I've started draft one of the Keepers sequel, telling Alf's story. What a story it will be!
I first posted this advice and tool in November 2020, and it has stood me in good stead (with many side notes, additional tabs etc of course) and I'm using it again.
There's a small but significant update I've made, explained in the post and transferred to the tool. I hope you find it helpful, especially if, like me, these first drafts kill you!
My book baby will be sent into the wild on 9 September, the day my September newsletter goes out. Which means you'll be the first to have the opportunity to buy the book, ebook or paperback, and help make it a success! Thank you in advance!
(There might be some other news, we'll see.)
PS: If this email was forwarded to you and you would like to sign up for my newsletter, you can do so here, and download your free copy of Dragon Gift.
PPS: a cemetery is a secular burial site, whereas a graveyard, like a churchyard, is associated with a church.