Search This Blog

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Having a bit of a Chadwick Fest

I first came across Elizabeth Chadwick when I picked up The Greatest Knight – can't remember where I bought it now. It’s a fictionalised account of the early life of William Marshal, one of the most charismatic men in medieval history, and I have been fascinated by him ever since reading it.

More recently I have read A Place Beyond Courage, which is the story of John Marshal, William's father – he of ‘hammer and anvil’ fame – and I'm now reading To Defy A King, which stars Mahelt, William's eldest daughter.

I didn’t intend for this to turn into an advert; I just wanted to share how interesting it is to meet the three generations of one family and to become wrapped up in the time they lived through.

Even more fascinating for me is the way she gets the details. A friend, someone she has known from before she started writing, has the ability to tap into the Akashic Records, a plane of existence believed to record all knowledge and history of human experience. People with the ability to read these records can go there and view whatever they want to see, whether it be great moments in history or a man enjoying a quiet evening at home with his family. I would kill to be able to do that!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Yesterday I visited the grave of Sylvia Plath. For anyone who doesn’t know, she was an American poet who was married to Ted Hughes, the poet Laureate. He was from this part of West Yorkshire originally, and they lived at Lumb Bank, Heptonstall, which is now an Arvon Foundation house.  

Sylvia committed suicide in 1963 and is buried in the graveyard there, high on a hill overlooking the steep wooded valleys where Ted grew up, and found inspiration for his poetry. 

Her grave has become something of a shrine. Yesterday I stood with a friend (who co-incidentally comes from the same part of the US as Sylvia) in the pouring rain, studying the wilting flowers, little goddess figures, polished pebbles and all sorts of other odds and ends that people had left, but the main image that has stuck in my mind was the big pot of pens tucked in beside the headstone. Old pens, new pens, cheap pens, and some that could have been relatively expensive. Their value, though, wasn’t in what they may or may not have cost originally, but in the fact that someone had put each one there as a tribute to Sylvia Plath. And I wonder too, how many of those people were also budding poets, who whispered a little message asking the woman lying in the grave for inspiration.

Monday, 1 August 2011

It’s not all about writing.

In Halifax, the town where I live, there is an Industrial Museum which was closed down about twelve years ago. We’re in the heart of the West Yorkshire woollen industry here, so there’s a lot of history about. Unfortunately, like most places these days, there’s not a lot of money about and the chances of the local authority reopening it are zilch.

So a few of us have got together to form a group to work on getting the museum open again. We’ve had a meeting with the director in charge of museums and he is open to the idea. He, and the council as a whole, recognise that there is a lot of support for reopening the museum and I think they're heartily glad to find someone willing to take it on. Tonight we’ve had a committee meeting to start working out all the numerous jobs and tasks we need to do.

It’s very exciting – not to mention daunting – but we’re up for it. If you live in or visit the area, and would like to see the museum reopened, either post a comment here or go into the Tourist Information Centre in the Piece Hall and tell them.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Cover complications

The new cover for The Winter House is delayed for tweaking purposes. It's looking good, though.

I have another novel which I'd like to upload to Kindle, but it'll be difficult for me to create a cover image. The story is about a watercolour artist in the Yorkshire Dales who is struggling to keep her gallery open due to a lack of tourists in the area. Ideally, I want a watercolour image for the cover, but I can't paint. In an ideal world, I'd simply commission an artist - there is an excellent one in this area - but I'm skint, so that's not an option. Not to mention the fact that he has about a two year waiting list. I think I'll have to start haunting some local art groups. You don't think about these little complications when you decide to write a book...

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Well this is no good, is it.

I'm not doing very well keeping up with this blog, am I. The trouble is, I can't imagine anyone with half a brain would be interested in what I'm doing.

So... what exactly am I doing? As far as writing goes, I'm waiting for some new cover ideas for The Winter House. I like the one on Amazon, but it's not up to a good enough standard to upload on Smashwords. Should get the new picture sorted tomorrow, and I have an ISBN for it now, so that should be sorted by this weekend, and The Winter House can be distributed to Barnes & Noble, Sony and Nook.

In the meantime, I'm doing research on the Akashic Records. And indulging my obsession with William Marshal... shame he's been dead for nearly 800 years... could have had a thing going there.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Winter House

The Winter House has been heavily influenced by my belief in the continuation of spirit beyond physical death, and the law of karma; that every action – whether good or bad – will be repaid, in this incarnation or a subsequent one. I am a great believer in places absorbing atmospheres from those who pass through them. I'm also convinced that we carry within us memories of places and people we've known in previous incarnations. What we call 'love at first sight', for instance; I believe this is more a recognition of someone we shared a previous incarnation with. As explained in The Winter House, there is a theory that souls form into groups between lives and work on plans to reincarnate together in various ways. It's a bit like an amateur dramatics group deciding what their next production will be and who will play which part. Your parent in this life might have been your child previously, a lover may have been an enemy, or your current boss may have been, at one time, your slave.
And the same goes for places. One winter day in 1985 I was driving along a country road near Lancaster and saw, half-hidden through a belt of leafless trees, an old derelict house. I stopped the car and got out, just as Georgia does in the story, to stare across the river Wenning and through the trees surrounding the house. Broken windows, a hole in its roof, it looked so abandoned… and familiar... and the seed for The Winter House was sown.

If you go to Amazon and click on this link, you can download the first couple of chapters to get a flavour.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

These things always sound easier than they turn out to be. The book – THE WINTER HOUSE – is written, edited, polished to perfection. I got an agent on the strength of it, and a great many publishers said they liked it… just not enough to take a risk on it.

Earlier this year a series of events prompted me to drag it out from under the proverbial bed and try self-publishing. Just whack it on Kindle, I thought. Sounds easy, doesn’t it. And it is, on the whole. It’s what it leads on to that becomes complicated and frustrating and scary. Now I've had to buy a Kindle – ok, I didn’t actually have to, but I've always hankered after one, so this was as good an excuse as any. But that’s not the complicated bit. I'm looking at Smashwords; this will be a platform to get my novel into all sorts of US outlets and onto other reading device thingies. This is where it gets complicated and, two thirds of the way through, I discovered I need an ISBN. This wasn’t necessary for Kindle so I had decided to not bother, but now I've had to spend half a morning finding out how to get one – or, rather, ten, which is the minimum package they sell.  
Now I have to wait ten days for them to arrive. In the meantime I can finalise the cover and get to grips with this blog. More later, including a little backstory.

You can get my book here