Last month it was wild garlic (which we've been enjoying), now the ornamental cherry in the garden is in bloom and stunning against the brilliant blue skies we had for a while there! Hopefully they return by the time you read this. The clocks have sprung forward all over by now, leaving behind the total chaos with our zoom scheduling for another six months. The lighter evenings are vey cheering.
THE NEWS Legend of the Winged Lion's gryphon cover is in a competition this month-it would be fantastic if you took a second to click here and cast your vote. Thank you so much!
More exciting was my afternoon at a local Forest school talking to Years 5/6. The little gryphons featured last month went down well, and the children kept me on my feet for an hour listening to readings and asking questions such as: how does your story actually end up as a printed book? When the teacher asked how many would like to be writers, nearly every hand went up! Perhaps one day I'll be a footnote in a future Neil Gaiman's autobiography - the funny old lady who read us her gryphon stories. Put it on my headstone!
I was also very happy to be longlisted in Retreat West's novel opening competition (not shortlisted sadly) with the opening of my co-authored, unpublished novel The Shanty Keeper's Wife. (scroll down this page to read about it). This same opening was shortlisted in another competition a year or so ago, so it apparently does something right. Agents please note!
Happy birthday, Keepers
A gift for some lucky people!
Keepers is one year old this month. How quickly they grow up! I've been thrilled with the reviews telling me people are reading into the wee hours, they yell at the characters and they feel they are there in 1950s Australia listening to the kookaburra in Raine's red gum. If you haven't indulged yet, don't hesitate. Or buy one for a friend. Here's the link to my site's book page or click on the image to go direct to purchase.
Raine has a birthday gift for you of two signed paperbacks (UK only) and four eBooks (anywhere): email me to be in the running.
There was a big turnout at the Old Palace Cinema, Cinderford for the launch of a Forest of Dean anthology, a key outcome of the Reading the Forest project and prepared for use in schools. Especially thrilling for one of our Dean Writers Circle members, Val Ormrod, who has a poem included. Check out the site to watch the short videos about six Forest authors which have been made for schools. Congratulations to RtF for excellent and ongoing work.
My editing of River Witch is coming on, as is the gorgeous cover which is being drawn for me by the talented Lauren Willmore. You will love it. Preparations are afoot for a launch event in early autumn, all things being equal.
In 1906, Cinderford 'wise woman' and herbal healer Ellen Hayward was tried for witchcraft at Littledean Magistrates Court in the Forest of Dean. I read her story when local historian Roger Deeks submitted an article to our Society's journal and asked me to edit it for him. River Witch is a long way from the true story of Ellen, but her fascinating tale set me off on the path of my upcoming book. Read a little about her here and find out where you can find the full article.
My guest author this month published her first book in 2016 and has since gone on to release a memoir, two novels, and a book of poetry. Patricia's work has been recognised with several awards and it is a true pleasure to feature her and her books in this month's newsletter. Read my interview with Patricia here.
WRITERS ARE READERS TOO
This novella arrived in the post, sent by a friend with a note simply saying I might find it interesting. My friend was correct. Not only interesting, but fascinating.
I'm thrilled when people say things like 'the characters were hypnotically believable' and 'I became quite emotionally involved with the characters' when they talk about my books. I have no formal approach to character building, so thought I should look into what brings our characters to life rather than leave it to chance. Here's what I've come up with.
We're in the process of moving house (not out of the Forest though!), so perhaps I might use the next newsletter to explore some of the writing possibilities this entails - angst, depression, heightened levels of snappiness ... maybe not! It will all be good in the end. I'm taking a day off to do a bulrush basket weaving course and a bit of foraging in the Forest, as research for River Witch and because it will be fun.
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.