Friday, 17 April 2020

A new book

In these days of Coronavirus, the support and camaraderie of friends and colleagues is invaluable, and I've been blessed with more than my fair share. I'm relatively lucky work-wise, being a freelancer who operates from home most of the time anyway, but my sympathies go out to those in less certain circumstances.

Writing is, of course, a very solo occupation but in these unsettled days, when people are dying daily and everyone's life is turned upside down, it has become almost a life-line. I've taken a lot of heart and encouragement from the emails of writing friends and the network of writers on social media sites like the RNA Facebook page. At times like this, social media really does what is is supposed to do - connecting people in a positive and healthy way by sharing stories that keep us optimistic and hopeful that this will be over sooner rather than later and that life - and writing - will be back to normal.

One of the positive things for me personally to come out of the lock-down are Joanne Grant's editorial coaching videos, which she is running every Monday morning on Facebook throughout April. Having been in the doldrums for several months and wondering where my writing is going, if anywhere, I tuned into the first session and found it really helped to focus my thoughts and intentions.  Just writing down the weekly goals Joanne asks us to set ourselves and thinking about the tips she gives got me out of the stupor and back into the study.  The result being that I began a new book this week and, for the first time in a long time, feel very excited about my characters and their story.

I don't know where this book will end up yet or whether it will be my first foray into self-publishing, but just getting up in the morning and sitting down to writing, however little - and it is very little at this stage - makes the whole day better.

How are you coping with writing in the lock-down?

Keep safe and well xx

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Light and Dark

It is ironic, that with the lovely spring weather arriving at last, so does Covid-19.  And it's not just ironic but idiotic and incomprehensible that yesterday Snowdonia saw its highest recorded visitor figures ever!  Other tourists spots in Britain, like Cornwall and Scotland, and seafronts everywhere, are also being inundated by visitors, who haven't quite got the message it seems. Being stoic is one thing; but selfish and stupid quite another. Coronavirus is here, it's spreading and it's a killer, so stay at home people and help keep those who are less resilient among us safe!

Granted, self-isolation isn't much fun but there's nothing wrong with enjoying the sunshine in your own garden or taking a walk in your own neighbourhood, maintaining a safe distance, which I've just done today.  The sun does make things seem less dark, and seeing nature blooming all around is a reminder that life continues in its cycle. This pandemic will pass eventually and life will get back to normal.  Until then, stay well everyone xx

Sunday, 19 January 2020

New Decade, New Direction?

It was a lovely clear, crisp and sunny afternoon today in the Dyfi Valley, so I ventured out for a walk, following a part of the Wales coastal path.  The sun was warm on my back and there were hardly any people around, just the sounds of the waders and geese across the river on the RSPB wetlands of Ynys Hir.

I do love this time of year - at least when the weather is like it is today - because January heralds the start of a new year and all the possibilities that holds.  And 2020 is particularly significant as it is a new decade and a good opportunity to look back over, not just one year, but ten years and see how far we've come, or not!

Sitting here now, looking at a spectacular sunset, I am thinking a lot about my writing and how that has fared over the last decade. The rejections, of which there have been plenty; the 'almost theres', of which there have been some; the beginnings of books which, initially so promising, never got beyond three chapters; and the industry one-to-ones, which veered between encouragement to indifference; and at the end of it all, publication seemingly as far away as it's always been.

It's all part and parcel of the life of a writer, of course, but sometimes, inevitably, we look back, take stock, and wonder if we're on the right track at all. Happily, nothing is ever wasted in the business of writing and growing as an author is part of the wonderful journey towards that hoped for publication contract.  Overnight successes are as rare in writing as in any other career but, even after twelve years of writing, giving up isn't an option.  Perhaps a new direction might be the way ahead for 2020?

Friday, 13 December 2019

'It's a Wonderful Life'

If you're lucky enough to live in Wales, you might have seen the recent production of 'Its a Wonderful Life' by Swansea-based Lighthouse Theatre Company that has been touring the country since November.  This wasn't a performance of the famous film, however, but a staged radio play.  The set was a 1940s radio studio and the cast were dressed in the everyday clothes the players would have worn when it was originally broadcast in 1947.  Two actors played George (with a remarkably authentic Jimmy Stewart accent!) and Mary, and the remaining four taking the other parts, one of them  doing all the sound effects as well. We, as the 'live' audience, were part of the production too, with a light coming on to tell us when to applaud and treated to intermittent 'live' adverts in between. It was an illuminating, brilliant and fabulously festive theatre experience which received - deservedly - a standing ovation at the end.  

 (c.) Lighthouse Theatre Company

 All good wishes for a Merry Christmas 
and a wonderful year in 2020!

Friday, 8 November 2019

Autumn in Meirionydd

Making the most of the sunny autumn weather today, I went for a stroll along the Mawddach trail in Dolgellau.   Crossing over the bridge, I was lucky enough to spot a heron sitting in a tree, though I couldn't get a close up with my phone camera, sadly.  It sat there for quite a while - on the biggish branch over the river - maybe soaking up the sun in between spotting for fish!

I really do love this time of year, when the heat and hurry of the summer is over and the bustle of Christmas yet to come. Everything around seems to be taking a rest and enjoying a period of calm, not least Mother Nature.

It was a lovely crisp, clear afternoon and the colours of the trees was stunning. In a month or two, their branches will all be bare and the sky not always so blue, but for now the landscape truly is a sight to behold.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Website design for writers . . .

And others, of course! One of my day jobs, and by far the most  creative and satisfying for me personally, is designing websites.  I've been dabbling in this for over a decade now and have recently taken the plunge and gone freelance.  Website design fits in perfectly with the job of writing because it can be done from home. It can also be done flexibly over the course of several days or weeks.

Typically, I use Wordpress because it has an extensive choice of 'themes' and also because it is easier for customers to manage their sites themselves once complete. But, far from working 'off the shelf,' I prefer to establish a close relationship with my clients, in order to design them an attractive site that best reflects their personality and their work.

A word of warning, however, if you are feeling tempted to rush off and get yourself a website - choose your designer with care!  Wordpress, while powerful and flexible, is also pitted with holes that are a godsend for hackers.  The first thing I do, once I've chosen and installed a theme, is to get a tried and tested security plugin and then I go through the settings with a tooth-comb to make the site bombproof.

Recently, I've created two websites specifically for writers Helen Aherne and Jane Fenwick, tailoring each to reflect and promote their different genres and styles:

So do you fancy a high quality, responsive, simple to use yet competitively-priced website to show-case your writing or other work?  Then get in touch !

Friday, 20 September 2019

Gothic Romance : time for a revival?

Occasionally I come across an author whose name I've known for as long as I've been reading romance, and recently I 'discovered' one of these, namely Victoria Holt, aka Jean Plaidy, aka Elbur Ford, Kathleen Kellor  and Phillipa Carr - real name Eleanor Hibbert.  As you might suppose from all those pseudonyms, she wrote a lot of novels. And she did - over 2000 in fact!

Anyway, I picked up a copy of The Lord of the Far Island in a second-hand bookshop recently and, once I'd begun to read, I was hooked.  It's a modern Gothic romance, rather derivative of Daphne Du Maurier, but none the less enjoyable for that.  And, having raced to the end in a few days, I ordered some more of Victoria Holt's book online.  These are the ones I chose and the blurb on the back convey far better than I could why they are so hard to put down even now, fifty years after publication.

Bride of Pendorric: Favel Farington and her new husband were almost strangers. In Capri, the dashing young heir to Pendorric had swept the lovely English girl into marriage with the sudden fierceness of a summer storm. Favel was dazed with happiness - until she discovered that someone was planning a very special place for in the family - in the vault with the other legendary 'Brides of Pendorric' who had all died so mysteriously and so tragically. 'Till death us to part' took on a new and ominous meaning . . .

The Curse of the Kings: Ever since she was a child, Judith Osmond has cherished a romantic dream - to marry Tybalt Travers, a brilliant archeologist, and help him make some wonderful discovery. So when Tybalt asks her to be his wife and go with him to Egypt in search of the Pharaoh's buriel chambers, her happiness seems assured. But once in Egypt her joy is short-lived. Here, in this strange, arid land, the rumours of misfortune and death that surround the tombs seem all too real. And gradually Tybalt changes. From a loving attentive husband he becomes a stranger - silent, watchful menacing . . .  

On the Night of the Seventh Moon: Helena Trant has always felt a special fascination for  the myths and legends of Southern Germany, where she is living. So, lost in the forest one day, she feels little surprised when a handsome stranger appears and leads her to safety - there is a Prince Charming in all good fairy stories. But this idyll suddenly becomes a nightmare. The passionate love that grows between Helena and her rescuer seems destined to inspire hatred, treachery, even murder in others. And, as Helena draws near to the source of the evil that pursues them, she begins to feel that there will be  no happy ending to her story . . . 

And with these deliciously lurid, 1970s covers, can you blame me for wanting more . . . ?