Saturday, 14 November 2015

A Monk, and his beliefs...

When I began to write about Durstan, The Monk who Cast a Spell  I thought a lot about belief in the 8th century; how this would have been affected by the social, economic and political climate of the day.  The early Christian Church was trying to gain a stronger foothold in the British Isles, and there was history too! 

Durstan would have felt much closer than we do to the Roman occupation which started in 43 AD, and the Druids of that time. People would have walked amongst the standing stones; had their own evidence of an earlier man, the Bronze Age and before.

Archaeology has discovered now that Stonehenge may have been connected to nearby places, such as Durrington Walls and its timber henge. Click here to read about this.

Would Durstan have known more about these ancient places than we do, from the tales which were told around the hall fire in the 8th century? I think he probably would have done. People traveled in early times, and would have talked about important sites. The druids and scops, or poets of the time, reminded them too of what shouldn't be forgotten. 

The Monk was born on Iona; and there are many ancient sites in the Hebrides, such as Callenish and Scara Brae. Would he have experienced the same sense of awe as we do, if he had visited them? I like to think so... 

Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog. I hope you have a wonderful week.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Happy Halloween! Enjoy the Samhain celebrations...

It's almost Halloween, or the ancient Samhain when the dead roam the earth again...

There's magic and the supernatural in my debut novel, set in 794 AD. Brionach the Druid and the Monks use charms, amulets and spells. The seasons change from spring through to midwinter, and the Old Gods can be found in the firelight and shadows. Samhain was also celebrated in the 8th century, with feasting and fun.

Durstan has already fallen in love with Ailan by this time, and is... The Monk who Cast a Spell. The book is available now from Amazon Barnes and Noble, and other places.

Enjoy this year's traditional celebration, Google+ Friends. Happy Halloween! Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Editing my 2nd novel... Here's how I did it!

I have been busy editing for the last few weeks, and my 2nd novel has followed a similar pattern to The Monk who Cast a Spell. Here's what happened...

I wrote an initial draft of between 50,000 and 60,000 words. This was the bones of the story, and a manuscript I could edit. It began in notebooks; on scraps of paper when they weren't to hand, and all the words transferred then onto my laptop.

The 1st edit took the longest because it filled in the gaps; building character and background. A little more research was also necessary. I rewrote any parts at this point which didn't work well, and the word count increased naturally to more than 80,000 words.                 

I added background details and names, with further character descriptions, in the 2nd edit. This gave depth and credibility to the story. 

On the 3rd reading, I concentrated on punctuation and grammar, the unwieldy sentences which prevented the narrative from flowing.

I was comfortable by this time with the plot and chronology, so that in the 4th edit I was able to give the chapters the final numbers which they would have in the published book. 

The 5th and 6th edits were little more than a read through, with a word changed here and there.

And the title of book 2 came to mind as I was editing. I'll tell you what it is, in my next blog post... 

I hope you have a great week, Google+ Friends. Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.


Saturday, 10 October 2015

A day out ...and books which inspired my novels

I visited Birmingham in the UK last Sunday, and had almost forgotten the hustle and bustle of the city where I worked for many years. New buildings reaching out to the skyline were a surprise, and old ones no longer there. 

I was pleased to see again the iconic Bull, which still stands proud in the Bull Ring shopping centre

I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, enjoyed walking around, and went to Waterstones book store; where you can lose your soul and wallet quite easily, in the magic of the endless shelves. 

But I knew where I was going! I headed straightaway to the history books, and bought The King in the North by Max Adams It's about Oswald of Northumbria in 634 AD; earlier than when my tale takes place, but it helped me see the way life could have been for Durstan, in Lindisfarne during 800 AD.

I read this book some time ago, and I wanted a paperback copy for my own bookshelves. I thought too of Adomnan, 9th Abbot of Iona, who wrote The Life of St Columba It was nowhere to be found...

but I was delighted to discover Mercia: The Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Central England by Sarah Zaluckyj I have been researching Mercia for my 2nd novel. It's the Kingdom which adjoins Northumbria, where Durstan is, and I hadn't as yet read this book.

My £20.00 voucher was quickly gone, plus a few GBP more, but it was a wonderful day; another to cherish. I went home, tired and happy, with inspiration to write more...

Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Flowers, books, and more... have been my inspiration this week

Inspiration is the feeling or thought which motivates us; and as a medical term, the drawing of air into our lungs. What could be more fundamental than this? It's a life breath, which for me, has become creative writing. So what has inspired me this week to write?

I have been reading a lot; including the relevant sections of "English Stone Building" by Alec Clifton-Taylor and A.S. Ireson. It's a book which tells the story of stone masonry. I wanted to see what more I could discover, about the buildings I was writing about in 800 AD, and the stone which would have been available locally at that time. 

Also, "The Domesday Book - England's Heritage, then and now" by Thomas Hinde. This gives details of the famous manuscript created in 1086; and talks about how the land was held in parts of England after the 1066 Norman Conquest. It's later than the time I'm writing about, but not difficult to imagine from it how life might have been a couple of hundred years earlier. People were already, in the 8th century and before, trying to create security for their families and themselves through land ownership; despite the actions of the warlords, and Viking raids which were taking place.

Walking every day has also inspired me; looking at the historical places near where I live, and gardens. People; a word or glance; someone's face at the window; sunshine and raindrops... making sure too that I had a notebook and pen in my bag, to write down my thoughts.

I have a small camera, and took a few photographs of the flowers I came across which I liked. I have been thinking about the change from Summer to Autumn. It's definitely getting colder and the light is less; but the magic of nature remains with us...

As for the writing itself... Book 2 is almost done. I'm looking forward now to working on the 1st draft of Book 3, which will complete the Iona trilogy. Some of it is already written in older notebooks. If you still haven't bought a copy of the novel where the story began; The Monk who Cast a Spell is available on Amazon here 

I hope you have had a great week, Google+ Friends, and are looking forward to the weekend. 

Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

I'll be talking on radio tonight with Al Cole ~ about the Alchemy of Love!

It's been a great week, and I am excited and honoured to be talking with Al Cole tonight; Tuesday, 15th September, on his "People of Distinction" radio show. 

The interview will be aired repeatedly between 5.00pm and 8.00pm Eastern time on The Al Cole Radio Show (click on the link, and Al's photo then to listen). 

It'll also be on iTunes Radio network, which can be accessed through the iTunes browser; then "News/Talk" and "People of Distinction". 

I hope you'll enjoy listening to Al and I talking about The Ifakara Bakery Project Charity; how I raised funds to help the children in Tanzania; and also of course, The Monk who Cast a Spell published by Motivational Press on 16th March. The novel is available here if you would like to take a look. 

Durstan and Ailan's love story takes place in 794 AD, and is as relevant today, as it was then. Quoting from an 8th century Monk: "it's the love between us that matters the most!" 

Durstan, The Monk who Cast a Spell, realises that he cannot live to the fullest extent without love; and that it's not only of a sexual nature. Monastery life is austere; with daily deprivation and punishment, and there's little kindness or compassion. It becomes clear to him through the events in the story that his life has to change. Love for the natural world, and more is the basis of his beliefs, as a young man. 

And I also believe in the alchemy of love; the changes which kindness and compassion can bring to all our lives; that it begins with the individual. Each of us has the ability to reach out to another, in a kind word or deed; and if we can find happiness in ourselves, I believe that this is the first important step...

I'll be talking with Al Cole tonight about this, and more. I hope you'll be able to join us later. 

Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

It's all about the Alchemy of Love...

I enjoyed talking with Al Cole on Thursday, in a radio interview for his CBS People of Distinction Show It'll be aired on 15th September, and I'll post the link soon.

We talked about the writing competition I ran in 2011 to raise funds to buy bread for the children in Tanzania; The Ifakara Bakery Project Charity and of course, my debut novel, The Monk who Cast a Spell

There's magic and history in the story; and it's all about the alchemy of love...

I hope you are having a great weekend, Google+ Friends. Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

An interview with Al Cole on CBS Radio ...and more writing

It's been a great week! I was talking to Al Cole on Thursday, and have been invited next month to do an interview on CBS, The People of Distinction Radio Show.

I'll be talking about the importance of love, how to overcome the fear of change and of course, The Monk who Cast a Spell. ...But there'll be more about this later!

I wrote the final chapter yesterday of the sequel to Durstan and Ailan's story, and it's back to the beginning next week for another edit. I have one more character to write into the plot; check the chronology; punctuation and grammar, and it'll be done.

I am pleased and excited too, to be talking today to +Marilyn Chapman on her blog, if you want to take a look...

I hope you have a great week, Google+ Friends. Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

An interview with Sue Johnson... Author, Poet and Creative Writing Tutor

I am delighted to welcome Sue Johnson to the Hope and Dreams blog. It's great to have you here, Sue. Thank you for joining us.

Sue Johnson is published as a poet, short story writer and novelist. Her short stories have appeared in Woman, My Weekly, Woman's Weekly, Chat: it's Fate, Take a Break, The People's Friend, and That's Life - Australia.

Sue's novels Fable's Fortune and The Yellow Silk Dress; and a collection of poetry entitled Tasting Words, Hearing Colours are published by Indigo Dreams  


Creative Alchemy: 12 steps from inspiration to finished novel was published by HotHive Books in 2011 and Surfing the Rainbow; visualisation and chakra balancing for writers by Compass Books in 2013.

Sue enjoys running workshops, and giving talks to the W.I. and writers' groups. She is a Writing Magazine tutor on 4 of their home study programmes. 

How did you become a writer, Sue?

I've written since I learned how to hold a pen - and I told the teacher in 'that' lesson at school (when they ask you what you want to be when you grow up) that I wanted to write stories and draw pictures. She told me it wasn't a proper job and that I'd better write about being a nurse!"

Nursing is an excellent profession but I'm so pleased, Sue, that you didn't follow this advice. I'm sure your other readers are too.

Thank you, Sharon. I was told by several people that I couldn't be published as a poet and novelist. I immediately set out to prove them wrong. To date, I have published over 40 magazine short stories, 2 novels, lots of individual poems and a full collection, and several other books aimed at helping other writers.

Do you prefer to write fiction or poetry?

Many of my ideas for stories begin as poems. Since 1st January, 2013 I have written a poem a day every day. Some have been published as they are - others have becomes springboards for other ideas.

What do you find beautiful or inspiring?

I am greatly inspired by the natural world and get a lot of ideas when walking in the woods and fields in the Worcestershire countryside near where I live - and along the banks of the Avon.

I know you also love to read. What are you currently reading?

I have several books on the go - "The Last Runaway" by Tracy Chevalier, "Faery Tales" by Carol Ann Duffy and an Italian grammar book for a course I am doing.

Is there a particular author who has influenced your writing?

I'm inspired by a whole range of writers, artists and musicians. I am lucky to have the condition synaesthesia - I interpret many words and names as a specific taste - and this also helps with creating new ideas.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out now as a writer or poet?

Keep writing. Don't give up. If you feel inspired by an idea, stick with it until you succeed.

Great advice, Sue! Finally, what are you writing at the moment?

I'm currently revising my 2nd poetry collection, and working on a non-fiction book aimed at helping other writers. In between times, I am gathering notes and information for another novel.

Congratulations, Sue, on your publishing success. I am looking forward to reading more of your work, and have enjoyed talking with you today. I hope you'll come back later, and tell us more.

Sue Johnson can also be found on Facebook Twitter and The Writer's Toolkit 

I hope you have a great week, Google+ Friends. Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Another 5***** Review for The Monk who Cast a Spell...

I was delighted this week to receive another 5***** Amazon review for The Monk who Cast a Spell... 

"I absolutely loved this book... what was true then is as true now, LOVE can conquer all and LOVE will find a way... the beautiful love story of Durstan, the Monk, and his Ailan..."

There's magic and history too in The Monk who Cast a Spell, when Durstan falls in love with Ailan in 794AD after their sexual awakening at Beltane. He is drawn to Beth when he thinks he has lost her, and becomes injured then in a Viking raid.

If you would like to read their story, The Monk who Cast a Spell is available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and in other places 

There's more about the 8th century, here on my blog. I'll also be talking tomorrow to my friend and Author, Sue Johnson. Please join us then.

I hope you are having a great weekend, Google+ Friends.

Friday, 7 August 2015

The Monk who Cast a Spell is reduced in price... only on 7th August!

For one day only on Friday, 7th August...

The Monk who Cast a Spell will be on sale on Amazon Kindle for $1.55 US and £0.99p UK Click here to follow the link 

History, Magic, and a forbidden love in 794 AD. Durstan is the Monk who Cast a Spell. He falls in love with Ailan after their sexual awakening at Beltane, is drawn to Beth when he thinks he has lost her, and becomes injured then in a Viking raid.

The story takes place at a time when the early Christian Church is trying to gain a stronger foot hold in the British Isles, whilst people still worship the Gods of their Ancestors. They use charms, amulets , spells for protection and there's the magic too of Brionach the Druid.

The Monk who Cast a Spell is a great story, and Durstan's goal? It's to regain Ailan's love. 

Don't miss your chance of reading it today!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

An interview with Marilyn Chapman, Author

I'm pleased to welcome Marilyn Chapman to the Hope and Dreams blog.

When Marilyn was at school, she decided that she wanted to write a novel but it was another fifty years before the dream became a reality. In the meantime, she qualified as a journalist and worked in public relations; estate agency and recruitment, whilst bringing up two daughters.

Born in Guernsey, Marilyn began her career as a cub reporter on the Blackpool Evening Gazette and later, freelanced for several national magazines, including Woman. She has been interviewed on Channel Island Television and BBC Radio Guernsey, as well as Blackpool’s Radio Wave and BBC Radio Lancashire.

A member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association, she lives now with her husband in Lancashire where she writes women’s fiction, full time.

Thank you for joining us today, Marilyn. Can I ask you first how you became a writer?

I started to scribble from the moment I could hold a pen, and still have the notebook I used to jot down ideas in when I was in my early teens.  My father was a journalist and our house was always full of books and newspapers. On a typical weekend he would buy a copy of every Sunday newspaper published, but I didn’t realise until much later how unusual that was!  

2. Your debut novel has an intriguing title. Please could you tell us about Baggy Pants & Bootees, and any other writing which you have done.

Baggy Pants and Bootees came out last year in paperback and e-book format. I was thrilled when it stated to climb the Amazon kindle charts.  A historical romance set between the 1960s and the Second World War, it charts one girl’s desperate search for her GI father.

I am currently at the editing stage with my second novel, Occupying Love, which is set in the German occupation of Guernsey during World War Two. My own grandparents lived through this, and I grew up hearing emotional accounts of what life was like then.

As an NCTJ qualified journalist I also spent my early years on the Blackpool Evening Gazette and Lytham St Annes Express; becoming women’s page editor of the weekly Express at the age of 19.  I later helped set up a family PR and publishing company on the Fylde Coast, and I freelanced for national newspapers and magazines, including Woman.

3. When you are writing, do you listen to music, or prefer silence; and do you have any rituals which you follow, to help the words flow?

Though I use my laptop every day, the only way I can write a novel is with a pen and notebook! This way the words flow, and I can pick up from where I left off at any time – in a cafĂ©, on a beach, even in the doctor’s surgery. I don’t need silence to help me think as I am used to working in noisy surroundings!

4. What is your first memory?

My first memory is from the age of two, when my two sisters and I had to say goodbye to our beloved grandparents in Guernsey, and move to England. I can still see their faces as they waved us off in the taxi that took us to the harbour and our new life.

5. Which is your favourite genre to read?

I really enjoy historical fiction - especially novels set in Britain’s two world wars.

6. What inspires you to write?

Sometimes it can be the sight of a snowdrop pushing its head through the frozen winter soil or the sound of a child’s laughter. Sometimes it is just the need to record a myriad thoughts tumbling round my head!

7. What are you working on at the moment?

I am now working on the sequel to Baggy Pants and Bootees.

Thank you, Marilyn, for answering my questions and telling us about your novel. I'm looking forward to reading it, and the sequel...

Baggy Pants & Booties, is available now from Amazon in Paperback and Kindle 

If you would also like to read more about +Marilyn Chapman you can find her on Twitter and Facebook

Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Ancient Traditions, a Monk's Magic, and what happens next...

Durstan and Ailan's story in The Monk who Cast a Spell continues in Book 2 at a place near Lindisfarne; and the ancient festival of Lughnasadh (also known as Lughnasa or Lammas) begins at sunset on 31st July. It's an important date for my characters in 800 AD...

The feast is traditionally named after Lugh, the Celtic God of light, and takes place at a time when the Sun God, Lugh's father, transfers his power into the grain for it to ripen. This is then made into the 1st bread of the season, which is often laid on a Church altar. It also marks the beginning of the Sun's descent into the darkness of winter; the sacrifice needed for the balance of the seasons.

Durstan is torn still between his belief in the Christian God and the Old Gods of his Ancestors, as are many people at that time; whilst Ailan continues resolutely to follow the Goddess Brigid. It creates conflict in plot, but all agree that it is unwise to offend any of the Gods, in such a precarious time as the 8th century.

I have enjoyed writing about this; discovering what happens next to the Monk and other characters in Book 1. There are a few surprises to look forward to, which I certainly didn't expect, but which seem natural now to the continuance of the tale...

And I moved house last week! You can read one of the articles I wrote Meet my Nemesis ~ Books about decluttering my previous home,  and which is published in issue 4 of Kishboo Magazine. 

I have also finished compiling my 1st poetry Anthology, "From Now 'til Then", and will shortly be chatting to +Marilyn Chapman on the Hope and Dreams blog. More about that later...

If you follow the ancient traditions, I hope you have a great Lughnasa and, for everyone, that you have much to be thankful for in the 1st harvest of the year. 

Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog.