Wednesday 13 June 2018

It's been a long time

I can't believe it's been almost a year since I last blogged here! I've been busy with a house move and writing my fourth and fifth book for Pen and Sword Books Ltd. The, fourth book Birmingham at War, 1939-1945, has just been published and the fifth is due out early next year.

I also was heavily involved in organising and running the first Telford Literary Festival. As well as making sure everything ran smoothly, I also ran a couple of workshops  which were well attended  We're just about to start arranging the next one. Exciting and busy times ahead.

Watch this space for other writing news coming soon.

Best wishes

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Guest Post by Samantha Priestley


For this post I am signing over to novelist Samantha Priestley and I am so pleased to be able to host her as she blog hops along on her blog tour. Her new book. A Bad Winter, is out soon and I, personally, cannot wait to read it! Her book launch is taking place on Thursday 21st September at the Rutland Arms in Sheffield for a 7.30pm start, so if you're able to make it do go along and meet the lovely author and buy her wonderful book!

So, over to Samantha. If you have any questions or comments for Samantha do ask and I'm sure she will do her best to answer them.

I’ve been spending time over in the Peak District, close to where I live in Sheffield, all my life. I have an early memory of being there with my dad and brother one day and dad showing us where clear water runs from the hills. I have a photo of me and my granddad, me aged about 6, him leading me around great boulders of rocks on a hillside. And as a teenager, a group of us would catch the bus out there in summer and walk through streams and drink cider in the sun. I caught a bus out there on my one once when I’d finished my O levels, needing to get away and be by myself in the one place I knew I could find peace. So it’s no surprise that this place has cropped up in a book.

            A Bad Winter is my fifth book and my first ghost story, and it all started with a snippet of a local story from the Peak District. When I read about the murder of a young woman in Hill Head House in 1760 in Bradwell, which is no longer standing, and the strange events that followed, the idea for the book began. The book runs between 1760 and modern day, telling the story of what happened to Sarah Vernon and the people of the village, and what happens to Lorraine when the events of 1760 meet with her own life today. It’s about love and what it drives us to do, the power of belief, and of course, ghosts!

When I first decided to write a ghost story, I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I’d get, but my editor at Armley Press was instantly supportive and suggested that this was a natural progression for me. Thinking about it, he’s right, all of my previous books do contain ghosts, the presence of someone no longer living who haunts the characters, it was just that this was the first time I’d actually brought the ghost out and into the story.

            One of the main themes of the story is belief, which is a tricky one. Belief can make us do all kinds of things, it’s a powerful force, and people use this powerful tool to make others do things too. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the mere suggestion of a presence can cause us to act differently.

            So I’d like to throw this post open to you now. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you had a ghostly experience? Write me a comment below or ask me a question and I’ll get back to you x
A Bad Winter -

When does passion turn to love? When does responsibility mean guilt? When does a death become a murder?

In A Bad Winter these hefty questions stir up echoes through time, from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, to create an intimate and powerful tale of personal lives in freefall. With her trademark pictorial prose and beautifully phrased metaphors, novelist Samantha Priestley has created a ghostly romance set among wintry Derbyshire hills, and a shivering good read.

Tuesday 8 August 2017

A Writer's Life

Its been a while since I last blogged but it's all been because I've been doing lots of other writing which is good! Since my last post I have finished the Birmingham in WW2 book which has been edited and is now in production, with a probable publication date of late this year or early next. I am proud of this book because I had to really up my game and dig just that much deeper to pull it off. It was a challenge that I am glad I took up.

Ever looking for a challenge I was approached by the same publisher Pen and Sword Books to write another book for them, this time on the subject of Women of Birmingham and the Suffragettes, which I am in the process of writing now.

It does a writer good to widen their horizon and write something they are not sure they are capable of. It's how we learn and grow. Sticking with the known and well-trodden path, although may feel safe and comfortable, actually isn't when it comes to being a professional writer. In today's climate you have to take a chance and diversify. A writer who is versatile and can turn their hand to many different styles of writing is one more likely to get the commissions.

As a professional writer I have many different writing projects on the go at any one time. While I am completing larger projects like a non-fiction book, I am also writing and submitting short stories and a feature proposal or two. That way, if something is rejected, which they frequently are - all part of the game, I'm afraid -  I have other pieces of work out there which might be accepted. I work by the principle that the more of your writing you have out there, the better your chance of publication.

I've also been busy with organising this year's Meet the Author event as part of the Wellington Arts Festival. This year there are 15 local authors to come and chat to at Wellington Library - click here for the website link. Do come along if you're in town that day. I love supporting arts and literary festivals as well as local libraries and authors.

Todays writing is not just about writing, it's about marketing and finding other avenues to sell our work so supporting arts and literary festivals, local independent book shops, libraries and other community facilities and initiatives are as big a part of an author's life as writing is.

I also was lucky enough to be interviewed by children's author Carole Anne Carr for her new blog. I have known Carole for a fair few years now and remember interviewing her a long time ago - so it was interesting to become the interviewee for a change! You can see my interview and Carole's blog by clicking here.

I welcome your comments on all things writing here. If you have any questions or need a speaker or workshop for your society or group then do leave me a message.

Thank you

Saturday 28 January 2017

Work in Progress

It's been a while since I've posted here. The problem with being a writer, having another job, family, and deadlines is that sometimes social media has to be shelved!

Having all of my three Great War books published last year with Pen & Sword, I am still working on my latest book with them Birmingham in WW2. This is due to be published early in 2018.

I was also thrilled to be commissioned by Pen & Sword to write a book for a new series they are planning about women's lives 1850-1950. Mine will, again, be based on Birmingham.

So exciting times and, I hope, interesting books to come. It's always a privilege to research and write these books.

I am also available for talks and workshops for groups and societies such as writing groups or history societies so if you would like to find out more about that do contact me here.

Thursday 18 August 2016

It's a Hatrick and a soldier called Patrick

I am pleased to say that now all three of my books in the Pen and Sword Your Towns and Cities in the Great War series have been published. After 18 months of research, travelling, talking to soldiers' relatives, learning so much about the Great War and the huge sacrifices that were made has been a truly humbling and life changing experience.

I don't think anyone who has read about the Great War comes out of it the same person. I've spoken before both on the radio and in newspaper interviews that one soldier in particular touched my heart. I don't know why, he's not a relative; he's one of hundreds I read about and wrote about, one of millions worldwide who fought and died, but even when I was feeling despondent, thinking I was never going to complete the books on time, I'd think of him, Patrick Kilcoyne, and be spurred on. I don't think that it's a coincidence that a few months after the book Patrick featured in Newport in the Great War was published, I had a message via the publisher saying they'd received a message from one of Patick's relatives saying how delighted they were that Patrick's story was included in the book.

That is what it was all about for me; getting the soldiers and the women and men's stories, who stayed behind to help the war effort out there. I know when I started my research I had no idea of the truly heroic and selfless efforts communities went to to get through the war. It was amazing and more than deserved highlighting. I hope whether people read my books have relatives mentioned in them or not that they enjoy reading about what happened in these communities and that it touches them in some way too.

                           Newport  .................. Ludlow ...................Kidderminster

Saturday 18 June 2016

Moving on

It's been a while since I blogged here so it's nice to have the opportunity to sit down and have a chat. I've been busy with researching the next book I'm working on for Pen and Sword - Birmingham in WW2 - which has involved travelling by train to Birmingham archives and library and poring over many different artifacts and old record books, etc.

While I've been doing this I've also been trying to organise and undertake book launches and book signings for the Ludlow in the Great War book that came out a couple of months ago and the Kidderminster in the Great War book which is due to be published imminently!  Part of these preparations involved going on local radio (live - eek!).

It's certainly been a fantastic experience writing three books in 18 months for Pen & Sword but it's also been a lot of hard work and co-ordination. While I am moving on from the three books I am trying to write the Birmingham book which is a bigger book than the other three by some 10,000 words or so plus Birmingham is a much bigger area to cover. Thank goodness for the Internet, social media, newspapers and the radio! If it wasn't for them research would be much more laborious and time consuming. As much as I love discovering new places and researching - I like to get it done as thoroughly and quickly as possible so I can get down to the business of writing.

If you are on the look out for a speaker or a workshop on the various aspects of putting a historical non-fiction book together or the writing process, or you would like me to visit your group to talk about WW1 and the home front, do get in touch.

But for now, back to the research.

Saturday 9 January 2016

Newport in the Great War

Hello and welcome to my author page. I am happy to say that the first of my three books written about World War 1 has now been published. Newport in the Great War is published by Pen & Sword books and us available via them or Amazon.