Welcome to By the Letter for June 2021 and thank you for reading!
May was disappointing weather wise, and not just here in the UK. But writing wise, lots of things went on. And we have sunshine and warmth at last, so today I lunched in the garden, made more pleasant by having cleaned the patio and mowed a bit - leaving most of the 'lawn' for the buttercups, daisies and some plants which might be real wild flowers. I rather like the wild look! (Which is relevant, given the news below.)
THE NEWS First up: paperbacks from Amazon.com.au are now printed in Australia, saving time and postage. All my books are listed there - go to my books page for the details, and enjoy!
Summer Reading Challenge for primary school age
The 2021 UK Challenge is about Wild World Heroes. Well - whom do we love who fits that description? Our young leader of wild armies, friend to gryphons, and bane of forest-destroying Captain Jarrow's life - Callie, from Guardians of the Forest.
I've spoken with our local libraries, given them sets of the books, and it seems I'll be spending time chatting and reading to young people over the summer. More of that in July.
In the meantime, I've moved Guardiansto Kindle Unlimited, so if you subscribe there, you can download for free for the kids in your life (PS Not only 9-12 yr olds enjoy these books - they have fans in every age group).
And more to do with young people ... About two years ago, David and I helped to set up Dean Scribblers, an initiative to encourage local kids to write. It was going very well, with lots of interest and projects, and funding coming from generous donors - and then 2020 happened.
But we're now moving back into business, initially through a project with Voices from the Forest. Students from Yorkley Primary School have interviewed an older member of their family about the 'olden days'. We plan now to work with them to turn the interviews into a piece of writing for an anthology, complete with pics of Grancher and Grandma.
I'm always inspired by these young people, so it's brilliant to be able to work with them again. If anyone local to the Forest would like to help out with ongoing projects, let me know!
To say thank you again for the great reviews - and keep them coming please!
I was very happy to be asked by the Coffee Pot Book Club to do an interview and talk about the book during May. More recently, this interview with Jean Roberts forced me to spill some family secrets!
As with Guardians, I've given copies to our local libraries and will be talking to at least one book club group in the early autumn. Lots of fun coming up!
If you haven't read Keepers yet, here's the link! Note too that you can ask your local book shop to order it for you via Amazon's expanded distribution system (they tell me!).
The first draft of my current project is finished (yay!), and is set aside for now before editing.
But I don't like to be idle, so I'm spending that time putting together a themed (loosely!) short collection of some of my short stories. I'm also returning to my Guardians prequel, having promised my granddaughter she can be the 'alpha reader'. So no reneging!
Something from Dean Writers Circle
From a workshop where author Jolie Marchant used this lovely watercolour drawn by her sister as a prompt, and the talented Penny Kerr penned the fun poem below, in five minutes.
Artist: Gilly Trout By permission of her daughter, Joanna Lawson Poem courtesy of Penny Kerr
Snowy snoozed. The fire flickered. By his side, two wee mice bickered. “Shoosh!” said one. “You’ll wake the hound. Remember, we must not be found!” “Why not?” said the other mouse. “We live here, so it’s our house. I don’t think it’s very nice That people are so mean to mice.”
On the floor, between them, spread A picnic: cheese and ham and bread, Sausages and eggs to boot, And lovely, luscious, juicy fruit. Someone’s party tea, it seemed. And still, beside them, Snowy dreamed. Not much of a guard dog, he, To sleep while two mice stole the tea.
Carefully they crossed the floor And pulled the picnic through their door, A little door, more of a hole, So no-one ever knew who stole The party food that wasn’t there. They blamed poor Snowy - how unfair!
AUTHOR INTERVIEW - LEIA TALON
It's not many fantasy writers who can say their book is sold in the castle where it's set. Leia Talon can, with Falling Through the Weaving, Book One of Roots and Stars. This was a story I very much enjoyed, beautifully written, and with a relatable protagonist. In our interview this month, Leia talks about Falling, and what's coming up next.
(Interestingly, there's a parallel with Keepers, with both our leading ladies in the family way, as they used to say, for much of the story.)
Mark and Gwen journey to the west, through the dangers of the Deep Forest of Arneithe. They seek the mythical Sleih, who may or may not help their people in their struggle against the Forest-destroying Madach.
WRITER'S CORNER - dialogue
When I read a piece of prose, whether it's a short story or a novel, and the dialogue is done well, my heart gives a little skip of excitement. (I know, I lead an exciting life!) Here is a writer who has taken the time to learn their craft.
In 2019, I offered to lead a workshop on dialogue to give me an excuse to dig into the topic. It helped me a great deal.
Learn more in this blog post where you can download your pdf of 'Dialogue - a practical overview'. Hope it helps you too!
In July, I hope to have my collection ready to go, and also plan to share some more about my current project. And I'll be able to report back about the work with the school too! Photos I hope. Meanwhile, enjoy the beginning of summer.
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