Friday, 21 December 2012

In Defence of the ‘Christmas Letter’

Oh dear, the festive ‘round robin’ has taken a real beating from Lynne Truss’s wit and irony this week on BBC Radio 4. You may have heard. In response, I’d better watch my ‘p’s and ‘q’s. Was that correctly punctuated, Lynne?

She made me smile and a small part of me feels some sympathy with her.  Yes, they can be full of accounts of family achievements and no, they do not really take account of the individual recipient’s feelings as much as they should.  If the lucky person receiving a Christmas letter has had a bad year, then of course the last thing they want to hear is how wonderful life is – I mean, truly perfect, children, family, house, health, finances, everything in top-notch order – for someone else.
However, I did send my ‘Christmas letter’ to many people – not all, I must stress – on my Christmas card list. There, I’ve said it. I’ve confessed.  I am that self-satisfied, supercilious, self-important person that apparently all round robin senders are – according to the wonderful (isn’t she just perfect?) Lynne Truss.

So, in defence of my despicable and persistently annual missive I would just like to say:
I was on the brink of going one better, sending out a note to inform all and sundry that this would be our last year for sending Christmas cards, as they do seem very not on-trend amongst trendy people, who would never use the word ‘trendy’ it’s so last century. I did not actually do this; so my point scarcely lends any weight to this debate but, you see, it made me think – always dangerous at this time of year. Some people (mentioning no names) would forget such a note by Christmas 2013 and would assume we had died. Then our children would doubtless get endless phone calls, texts, emails and letters enquiring about our deaths. How could we be such a burden to our children before our actual demise?

There are certainly people whom we have not seen in, possibly, 50 or 60 years, to whom I annually send best wishes and festive goodwill. Perhaps my husband knows who his 3rd cousins twice removed are (What is this?  ).  I am exaggerating but I am not entirely sure what faces belong to which names, even though it behoves me, and always has done, to send them a card. Doubtless they would be quite upset if they did not get a card from us after all these decades. I do not send these distant people a letter.
At the other end of the spectrum there are friends whom we quite possibly saw last week, or a few times during the year. They do not need a letter to update them on the progress of our family.

There is a mass of folk in between though, who do not use Facebook, Twitter or even email that much.  They would scoff at the word ‘blog’. Yes, such people (perfectly nice and normal) exist and I do send them a letter because it is a good way to keep in touch. It is within the bounds of possibility that we may one day meet, call them or visit them when up north or they may drop in to see us if they are down south. Thanks to our yearly exchange of news we would not have to start from scratch with birth of children or grandchildren.
I confess I would not do well if quizzed on the content of Christmas letters past, received from others. You see, we all adopt the manner of skimming – we are quick to spot words like ‘heart attack’, ‘wedding’ , ‘divorce’ or ‘grandchild’. Other things like, ‘holidays … blah … blah … blah …’ we may read but would probably not commit to memory unless we could relate to it or it provided useful information for our next planned trip.
Do our adult children exchange Christmas cards? Probably not. They keep in touch with friends much more efficiently than we ever did at their age, with the wonder of electronics. But we old die-hards like to cling on to the old ways, I suppose. There is a childish delight in hearing the slap of envelopes is they plop onto the hall floor. My husband and I still try to be first to pick them up and have the pleasure of opening them. If there is a letter inside, we are usually pleased – unless it really is one of those that go on and on and on … then I am with Lynne Truss all the way. Too much information gives round robins a bad name.

I tend not to mention too many negatives in my Christmas letter – because, quite frankly, who wants to hear about problems and failures at Christmas? If that means it comes across as smug or just too unbearably cheerful, then I make no apologies.
Merry Christmas – I shall now shut up until next year – but please, do let me have your thoughts. Do you, or don’t you?

Monday, 17 December 2012

I Wrote It My Way- Suzy Turner

This week something very different indeed! 'I Wrote it My Way' always comes up with some surprises but today we look inside the box and what do we find? Vampires!!
Author Suzy Turner is a 'Yorkshire lass at heart' but moved to live in Portugal when she was ten. She tells us how she came to write fantasy fiction for young adults - and probably a few older ones as well. Just look on Amazon or Suzy's blog to see all her stunning book covers:
'In my teens and early twenties, there was nothing I loved to do more than curl up with a chick lit novel. It was my absolute favourite genre. The pathos and humour often blew me away but a few years later I was introduced to an altogether different kind of book: YA urban fantasy.
I loved the way the authors combined fantasy elements into a world which we know and love today. Harry Potter, for example, a boy who lived in an ordinary house with ordinary relatives (okay, perhaps the Dursleys aren't quite your every day aunt and uncle, but you know what I mean!) was also an imperative part of a very different world, one with magic, witches, wizards and talking giant spiders and the like. I completely fell in love with JK Rowling's books, which led me to start reading books by other authors in the same genre. In fact, I could say I devoured them!

Later came Twilight, bringing vampires and werewolves to life. I was immediately hooked. This came around the time of my very first holiday to Canada in 2009 (with husband and friends). We spent three weeks travelling from Banff (Alberta) to Vancouver (British Columbia). It was the most beautiful, awe inspiring place I'd ever had the pleasure of visiting. But it wasn't until we found ourselves in a small place called Powell River that my overactive imagination began to run wild with ideas of vampires and creatures roaming among the trees and mountains there. Thus, The Raven Saga was born.
I continue to love YA books and have now written a total of five in the genre: Raven, December Moon, The Lost Soul, The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw and Daisy Madigan's Paradise (a novella). I have plans for countless more!
The only thing that's better than reading these kinds of books is writing them!'

Thanks so much, Suzy, for telling us about how you came to write your books in the first place and what inspired you. What an imagination you have!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Pre-Christmas Goings-on

Amidst pre-Christmas flurry and excitement (and laziness) I failed miserably to produce a blog item last week. For sure nobody noticed but, anyway, here's a seasonal mini-post before my next guest author arrives here tomorrow.
It is hard to find words to describe the sadness and revulsion that fills our hearts and minds after the massacre in Connecticut. That this human being, described as a ‘loner’, could perpetrate such an act upon innocent children is beyond understanding.
My last post was about how much we need people – or not. Christmas is a time when we get together with friends and family, but perhaps the ‘bah humbug’ brigade choose not to! Some people are sadly more alone than they would like to be – but there are ways and means to make contact with your community. I expect you have some festive fun planned.
In retirement, gone are the days of office conviviality, lunches with colleagues and oh-so jolly parties. It's time to make a bit of an effort.
This past week I have enjoyed a Mexican evening with the National Women’s Register (NWR), savouring Mexican food and learning about their lifestyle. Broadening our horizons, it made a change from the Christmas evening meeting when members take along traditional fare.
On another evening, my husband and I slipped into a carol concert in Camberley. I have just joined the U3A and would love to join a choir, although my voice is not what it once was! In fact, a squeaky gate could do better! My husband has never sung in a choir in his life but can hold a tune pretty well and, perhaps inspired by Gareth Malone, is quite keen. Choirs tend to be desperate for men, so I am hoping I can use him to help me secure a place on one of the already fully subscribed choirs run by the U3A! They were performing; so we went along to hear and see them. We are not religious, not church-goers, but it was a lovely evening when the Rotary Club speaker reminded us that the evening’s theme was ‘Hope’ – not hope for ourselves as much as for others.

We also had a niece’s birthday party, which involved a two-hour drive there and back in the dark on the M25; the travelling was not that much fun but worth it for a family gathering.
So, already I’ve been to Mexico, a carol concert, a party and - oh yes, a pantomime! Christmas is here all right! Having taken on a (vital, crucially important) role with Camberley Theatre, spreading posters, leaflets and encouraging noises to my local neighbourhood for 4 hours a week, I was the lucky recipient of two tickets for the Gala Night, no less, which meant meeting the stars of the show afterwards for drinks and food.

At the end of Peter Pan, small children were invited to take to the stage.  The first little boy was asked what he liked most about Christmas.  There was a long, dramatic pause as he reflected on the question; I guess most of us were expecting a response along the lines of ‘Presents!’ ‘Lots of sweets’, but no. The clear, unprompted reply was, ‘Being able to come out with all of my family’. The entire auditorium went ‘Aaaah’.  Scarcely a dry eye in the house.

Monday, 3 December 2012

I Wrote it My Way - Anneli Purchase

Today we welcome another tempting writer from way across the pond, in Western Canada! If ever anyone enjoys writing about 'what they know', Anneli Purchase certainly does!

I must say my preferred kind of book is one where I feel somehow different from when I started reading it; so Anneli and I are in perfect sync. Isn't it wonderful how we can all find each other, no matter where we all live?! I like, for example, the novels of American author, Anita Shreve; their background or setting adds a whole new dimension to the story and characters. So many good new novels are sweeping us away to other cultures and countries, or else present a new angle on a familiar world.

Anneli explains how her books came about:

'Living on the coast of British Columbia I’ve been very lucky to have forests and the ocean handy for pursuing my interests– fishing, camping, mushroom picking, and boating. Over the years, my husband and I had many funny adventures and a few near disasters. Often I emailed to friends and told of some of these experiences. One day a friend wrote to tell me that his computer crashed and he lost all his files. Did I still have those emails that I’d sent him.

“Well, no,” I said. “Why would I want to keep those?”

He groaned and said, “They were little treasures. You should write a book.” So after a while, I gave this idea serious consideration and my real life adventures became intertwined with imaginary ones.

When I read, I like to feel that I’ve learned something new by the time I finish the book. When I write, I like to think that the reader will glean some tidbit of new information from my stories as well.

In The Wind Weeps, the reader will want to know if Andrea can escape the intolerable situation she finds herself in, but at the same time he will incidentally learn something about boating, or fishing, or life on the coast, without it being a lecture or a chore.

In Orion’s Gift, the drama plays out as two lovers, Kevin and Sylvia, are beach camping at various places in Baja California. While reading about their vindictive ex-spouses hunting them down, the reader inadvertently finds out all about surviving in a harsh desert situation.

My third book, coming out in the spring, is different again. It will take us from post WWII times in Europe to modern times in Canada.

In all three of my books, the time and place settings may vary, but the common threads are the relationships of people like you and like me, and the circumstances in which the characters might find themselves. Very often the dilemmas are about love. Naturally, because what would we do without love in our world?'
A fascinating insight into how you found your genre, Anneli! What a particularly good friend you have there, too. Thank you.
Well, folks, are you thinking of all those old emails you archived or carefully deleted (dammit)?

Links for Orion's Gift: 

Links for The Wind Weeps

Monday, 26 November 2012

How much do People need People?

Shades of Appley Green is about the lives of individuals but it is also about ‘community life’. This is what I often say, but what does that actually mean? Different things to different people, I expect, depending on your interests, age and general circumstances. How much do people need other people? Are they necessary to give you an identity?
You may know I was brought up in Tetbury, a small Gloucestershire town of about 4,000 inhabitants; it gave that sense of belonging, where you felt connected.
Now living in Surrey since 1977, and many more places before that, I have never forgotten that feeling, where you could go down several roads and name each family who lived there. Here in 2012, it is a different world, where former villages have merged into something of a suburban sprawl and acquaintances are nationwide, even global.

Look on any map of Great Britain and you see an enormous mass of villages, but in towns, and even in the London metropolis, there are pockets where you can spot the hub of a community – an old ‘village green’ or park, a church, community hall, a school and a small parade of shops – where residents find a local identity.  
Before retiring in 2008 I was working as a Community Support Worker – a modest kind of job that involved supporting people with information and a listening ear. For two years I was with an organisation that helped teenage mothers, often lonely, who had little help from family or friends; and following that I went out, armed with a lot of empathy and leaflets, to see people with Parkinson’s. If you read Shades of Appley Green you can see and feel the pulse of village life, and strong characters who struggle and overcome on the one hand, single parenthood and on the other, the loneliness that can come with Parkinson’s. It is, I hope, an uplifting book, not a miserable one, but it does look at the downs as well as the ups of life!

Homo sapiens is hard-wired to be tribal – that is my belief. There is a basic instinct in us that drives us to belong – whether to a family, friends,neighbourhood, club, profession or via the Internet – social networking! ‘No man is an island’ – who said that?  Birthdays, weddings, and funerals are usually celebrated or marked in the company of our ‘tribal group’. In evolution, there was strength in numbers, co-operation was key to survival. Lone individuals or nuclear families proved inadequate to defend themselves or their territory. They needed back-up and, later, division of labour.
Of course, there are introverts and extroverts, requiring company and solitary hours in varying proportions. Personally I happily spend hours alone absorbed in what I am doing, but always in the knowledge that I regularly meet up with friends and family. I know gregarious people who can scarcely bear to spend five minutes on their own. I have visited (and been welcomed!) by people living alone insisting they are quite happy and do not need people at all; but then it slips out in conversation that they are on anti-depressants and wonder why they have a constant feeling of anxiety hanging over them.

I was wondering how the rest of you feel on this? Would you be one of those who claim you would be fine on that ‘desert island’? Or, are you a socialite who needs constant interaction? Are you able to achieve the optimum levels of company/solitude or is this something you don’t even think about or aim for? I’d love to know.
I was going to write about things I get up to in my patch of Surrey that help me, now that I do not work, with community spirit, but clearly that will have to wait until next time. Enough, already … !

Amazon UK Paperback and Kindle (Kindle only)

Monday, 19 November 2012

I Wrote it My Way - Ali Bacon

If you've been following the plot you will know, dear reader, that a variety (eclectic mix, it has to be said) of lovely authors pop over for a quick ramble here to tell us about how they 'wrote it their way'. The potted histories of how they found their genre and style have been fascinating - and so different!

Today I am delighted to welcome Ali Bacon, who joined the wonderful Love a Happy Ending group in the summer of this year. Her author biography there begins, rather tantalisingly, with the words, 'Ali Bacon was once banned from entering Switzerland, but since then has led a relatively blameless life working in libraries and IT.'  Are you left curious to know more?
She says,' My Way – or still finding it! One of the (many) fascinating things about taking up writing is finding out just what kind of writer you are. The trouble is it takes a while, and even when you have developed a theme, a genre or a style, things can still change!

In my first novel (some snippets on my blog here) a middle-aged woman loses her way when a past lover re-enters her life. Joanna Trollope? Well not quite (it didn’t get published for a start!) but I called it a literary love story and felt sure this was my territory.
Then A Kettle of Fish (just published!) came along and in many respects took me by surprise. I found myself writing about a young person (I am now of ahem mature years!) growing up in Scotland (which I left 30 years ago!) with all kinds of secrets emerging from the woodwork. The characters bore little resemblance to any I had written before. I also made a conscious (I hope not too conscious!) effort to give the book the distinctive flavour of the area where I grew up. I’m delighted it’s getting some really good reviews, but it’s neither  love story nor particularly literary. Oh dear, what next? Another coming-of-age book? Another Scottish novel?

Then while writing Kettle I got the germ of an idea for a new book set in Edinburgh – in 1843. Aagh! What happened to contemporary fiction?

So while most of my writing friends can put themselves squarely in one particular genre, I’m still thrashing around in search of what mine might be. But it does make for an interesting journey. So do take a look at A Kettle of Fish to get a feel for my style, and if you have any advice on where to go next, I’m all ears!'
Thanks so much, Ali. I found this really interesting and can empathise 100%, as I appreciate the necessity for labelling books, but it is not always easy to decide where your books belong. There are a couple of bits here on genre, way back when ? In November 2009! I seriously need to do a follow up on those ...

Here are some places where you can find out more about Ali and her writing.
A Kettle of Fish from Thornberry Publishing (Kindle edition)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Do drop in to Appley Green ... as you're passing by!

My three novels are all set in Appley Green – an amalgam of many lovely Surrey villages. I think it is the village green that makes them so special – so English!
Leaves beginning to turn in Frimley Green
I have been lucky enough to take holidays in beautiful, culturally varied and sunny parts of the world.

So, why would I not set my novels in a more exotic location?
A shady spot in Elstead
It is wonderful to see new and exciting places; very stimulating, as I am sure other holiday-makers will agree. For me, a visit does not dig deep enough into everyday lives, try as I may to talk to the locals and soak up their culture, history and traditions; so stretching my imagination into the realms of their reality would be risky.

Surrey is a lovely place to live. There may be prettier places – the chocolate-box honey-stone cottages in the Cotswolds, where I come from originally, for example. But perhaps ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, as the saying goes.

‘Rush-grass and bog-cotton could look bleak on a rainy day though, she knew that; but Steph loved the wilderness she was used to; the golden gorse and purple heather of summer, the all-pervasive bracken that would change its hue from springtime acid green to the copper tones of autumn.’ (from Shades of Appley Green)
I feel blessed to have lived in Surrey for about 35 years – with its relatively low crime rates, desirable homes, good amenities and really rather nice people, as well as an abundance of trees and panoramic views. Traffic can be irksome, in places, but an author can do something about that! This was one of the delights in creating my own village!

Although within easy reach of London, it is  ‘ …a village not blighted by the throb and fumes of through-traffic. Locals generally stuck to an unwritten code that the able-bodied should walk or cycle to local amenities when possible.’

Taken today ...

Anyone living in, say, Chicago, Manchester, Helsinki or Delhi might read about people’s lives in Appley Green and feel  transported to another world; while British residents will recognise a place they know, in some way or another; as well as the sense of community, family relationships and the human spirit rising against the odds.

I set my first novel Gypsies Stop tHere  in Appley Green, giving the village this name for two reasons. I wanted the word Green in it, and I thought Appley would loosely resonate with Appleby in Cumbria famous for the Gypsy Horse Fairs. Later, I stood on Appley Beach on the Isle of Wight and decided then that the name of my fictitious English village would be Appley Green. It just sounded right.
My first two novels, Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served  do venture into another world that is on our doorstep all around England, but only as far as I feel I should, as a non-Gypsy.  Shades of Appley Green  is about something else.

‘Steph is a special, but troubled young woman. Chosen by the most venerated man in Appley Green to fulfil his mission, she feels publicly admired rather than privately loved. She certainly does not trust men!

In helping a once famous, elderly architect with Parkinson’s regain a social life, she finds herself taking personal risks, fending off objections, blind to danger. We wait for the moment when it dawns on Steph what is driving her deep-seated obsession; for only then can she find the happiness she deserves.

Appley Green is a charming English village. Everyone says so. But people are still people. With the emotional turmoil that comes with love, birth and death, a close-knit community can harbour betrayal and guilt, as well as joy and laughter.’

The book cover’s summery photograph was taken in Tilford Green. Landlord of this ‘quintessential English Country pub’, The Barley Mow, built in 1705, a stone’s throw from the park benches, told me the reason one of the seat arms was missing. A Gypsy had tied up his horse and … well you can guess. He had no idea about my first two novels, so that was quite strange.
“Nestling quietly in a middle-England wasteland of sandy heath, Appley Green straddles the boundaries of two counties south west of London.”

Monday, 5 November 2012

I Wrote it My Way - Carol E Wyer

Today I welcome my fourth guest author who tells us how she wrote it her way. It is so interesting to hear from other writers what set them off, and then led them to their particular style. We are uncovering some 'secrets' that help bring us closer to the writer behind the book.
There is a lovely profile of Carol E Wyer on the Love a Happy Ending web site. Her books 'take a humorous look at getting older' (not that old!!!). 
I am reading three different books at the moment. Two of them are in the name of research for my next Appley Green novel, enjoyable but quite serious; Surfing in Stilettos is for fun!

Here's Carol's Story:

'An addiction to seventies comedy semi-explains why I write humour. Before I wrote Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines I attempted a passionate romantic novel but sniggered all through the sex scenes. It was then I decided I was more of a ‘Carry On’ writer and so a frustrated comic became a humorous author.

I was always the class clown and mimic but it was thanks to some serious health issues in my youth that I became an adult with a keen sense of humour and an appreciation for life which I now try to pass on in my writing.

My stories and novels always attempt to help people appreciate the funny side of life or what they already have. Life is too short to be miserable and as Ken Dodd sang “I thank the Lord, for more than my share of happiness.” I am now trying to spread mine about.'

Thanks so much, Carol, for brightening our days!
Here are some places you can go to find out more about Carol and her amusing books.


Monday, 29 October 2012

How a 'Ghost' Came Alive!

In September on the Famous Five Plus blog, I wrote about an amazing coincidence that happened on an HF (Holiday Fellowship) walking holiday this year in Exmoor, Lorna Doone country.
It seems that my great grandmother, then aged 22, as shown in the 1851 Census , was a ‘Housemaid’ in the National Trust house where we stayed – Holnicote House  on the Holnicote Estate, Selworthy, Somerset.
I since found a photograph of her and I thought you might like to see it. This lovely lady is Harriet Gregory and I do not know when this beautiful photograph was taken or who took it.
My imagination then really got to work. I pictured her walking round the corridors with her pail and mop; or perhaps scouring pans in the dusky evening light in that back room where we had taken off our sodden boots.

Or was this below her station? More likely she may have been required to serve luncheon to her mistress and master at a grand table in the dining room where we had been served by delightful waiters with charming smiles and foreign accents; or perhaps her duty was to carry a tray with afternoon tea and cake to the spacious lounge where we were entertained with quizzes of an evening.

Maybe she would have spent a morning gossiping with the scullery maid or the butler, as she sat polishing the brass or sorting out the silver cutlery in the small room where I had sipped a gin and tonic at the bar.

Out in the garden did she play with the children of the household, with balls and hoops, when she had a spare moment?  I wonder at what unearthly hour she rose in the morning to rake out the grates and brush the hearths; would this have been among her many tasks?  I was wondering where she slept? Did she have a little room, lit by a single candle, in the attic? Did she get on with the other members of staff and the family she served? Oh, and did she have rough hands for one so young – and housemaid’s knee?
Yes, most of all, I wondered if my maternal great grandmother was happy in her placement and I like to think she was. It is a beautiful place and although the work was probably hard, I hope her employers were kind.  It was a comfort to see from another photograph and explanatory notes made by my sister, that her parents, my great great grandparents, lived in a cottage close by; we must have walked past it. This couple, then, would be the great, great, great, great grandparents of my grandchild and no doubt Harriet would have been living with her loving parents.

As I said in the Famous Five Plus blog, her husband, in 1851 still her husband-to-be, later started the Porlock Brass Band, managed it and compiled a book of rules for the members – my maternal great grandfather! There is a photo of him taken circa 1880 with the band. Did his wife love music too? I can picture her humming quietly as she worked …
I feel the ghost has come alive!!

I hope I can find out more ...

Monday, 22 October 2012

I Wrote it My Way - Melanie Robertson-King

Now it is time to give another warm handshake across the pond, this time to Melanie Robertson-King - my third guest author who is here to tell us how 'she wrote it her way' and found her chosen genre.  It is so fascinating to see how different my author friends are, don't you agree?

Her biography makes fascinating reading - you can find it on her blog. 'The daughter of a Scottish national, who came to Canada as a ‘Home Child’ through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland ... Melanie is a native of eastern Ontario.' (A long way from Appley Green!)

Melanie says, 'After reading your first two features with Darlene and Janice, I knew I would have some pretty big boots to fill. I had just finished reading the first four books in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I love Scotland and all things Scottish so immediately fell in love with her books. One of my friends who had read some of my short stories (also a Diana Gabaldon fan) thought I could write something just as good and so I thought why not give it a go? And soon afterwards, the pre-cursor to A Shadow in the Past was born, all 16000+ words.
Back then, I thought chick-lit was likely the best fit but as time progressed, I came to discover a genre called YA Crossover. My heroine is nineteen, there's no graphic sex (a few references to, shall we say a lack of) and this genre is suitable for readers ranging in age from 13-25 and anyone else who is young at heart.
I love Chris Longmuir’s gritty, crime novels (I’ve known Chris since 2001), in addition to other Scottish crime authors (Ian Rankin and Stuart MacBride), Diana Gabaldon, Barbara Erskine, Harper Lee (loved To Kill a Mockingbird), Agatha Christie, Lois Duncan, and since getting an iPad with the Kindle app, I’ve discovered a host of other authors I never knew about that are now on my “favourite” list – Janice Horton, Juliette Sobanet, Bill Kirton, and now that I’m a member of I’m working my way through the books by our featured authors.'
A Shadow in the Past

When a contemporary teen is transported back through time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…

When nineteen year old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland, she has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.

Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret.
Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, confronts them head on and suffers the consequences.

When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?

Friday, 12 October 2012


No Gypsies Served is now a FREE promotion on Amazon Kindle for 5 days, from 12 - 16 October. Take advantage of this and download now onto your Kindle or Kindle App.  Click here   Amazon Kindle (UK) (USA)

Two years have passed since Kay successfully campaigned for the Appley Green Gypsy Site, and four years since her husband was murdered. Life in the village was going so well, until the phone call and letter. Then comes the disastrous site opening. Worst of all, Dunstan, whom she realises is her best friend and ally, is giving her the cold shoulder for some unknown reason.  

Dunstan is taking an emotional trip down memory lane, into childhood as a Gypsy on the road, and his eventual break from his people. Why is he so angry with Kay that he keeps away from her? Chances of a longed for reconciliation look slim ...

Another question that springs to many people's minds when they see these words on the 'back cover' is 'Why did Dunstan break away from his people?' This is very unusual. I am sorry - you'll just have to read the book to find out!

"No Gypsies Served picks up the story of Gypsies Stop tHere two years on, in Appley Green; so it is a sequel but, as it goes back in time, it is also the prequel. You could read No Gypsies Served first if you prefer because they also stand alone as stories."

A Reminder of Reviews of No Gypsies Served

Many FIVE STARS here on Amazon

A few interesting insights into No Gypsies Served, by Scarlett de Courcier, Bohemiacademia
“I'd recommend them as essential reading to anyone; I think they should be in every local library, preferably on the 'recommended' shelf, “

“ … if I'm going on just how much I was impressed by a book, and how important it is to society at the moment, Wakerly's two novels have to take joint second place.

Really, really beautifully written.”

Louise Graham, Lou Graham's Blog
“Miriam has really helped me understand the Gypsy community a little bit better with some compassion.”

Nikki Bywater, Books 4U
“… another wonderful read by Miriam Wakerly …really portrays Gypsies and Travelling people as individual characters”

Kay Green, Booksy
" … deftly using a variety of plot-devices to fill in the picture whilst maintaining page-turning momentum.

… Wakerly is remarkably good at passing the reader food for thought without ever preaching. She makes no judgemental comments as she passes…”

Michael Smith,  O NEVO DROM
“This book is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend to the reader and the story will leave the reader spellbound throughout the entire book. Miriam has put so many different angles and plots into this book that boredom just cannot ever rear its head, making this book a real page turner.”

And something extra from Love a Happy Ending
'Once I had finished Gypsies Stop tHere, I thought, "But there is much, much more to say!"'

(There are more reviews on the back cover of the paperback!!)

Hampshire Record Office 105m93-3-72

This photo was taken in the New Forest in the late 19th century and shows the kind of bender (tent) that Dunstan and his brother Presley slept in, unusual for the 1950s - 60s but you need to read the book to find out why this happened!

If you enjoy reading No Gypsies Served - don't forget to put a review up on Amazon! I shall look out for it. Many thanks.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

No Gypsies Served FREE on Kindle soon!

I few weeks’ ago I drafted a blog post about free Kindle downloads, stressing the negatives, but I never published it because I sensed that this was something I might later regret. The whole publishing scene is shifting and reinventing itself on a daily basis. I felt my opinion might change – and it has!

After a lot of thought, yes, No Gypsies Served, my second novel, will be FREE for you to download 12 Oct – 16 Oct. Please tell, Tweet or email all your friends, colleagues, neighbours, family, anyone you know who reads e-books, of this special promotion. Thanks!
As I said a couple of weeks ago in The Changing Face of Waterstones,  ‘Waterstones is selling Kindle e-readers to its customers, with the idea that customers can browse books in their shops – the touchy feely version – and then if they want an ebook version they can download it while in the shop. Whether this will work or not, for them, as a profitable venture will remain to be seen. I guess they feel people are doing this anyway, and if they can be part of the experience so much the better. In other words, if you can’t beat them, join them!’  That is a bit how I feel!

This is a shortened version – it looks at the parallels with the music industry to see if authors and publishers can learn from this.
There is divided opinion among authors I know, through Famous Five Plus and  Love a Happy Ending, on the pros and cons of offering their books for free. This is a marketing strategy of Amazon’s KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing). They suggest that in the 90 days when you forego offering your work on any other ebook platform, you also offer your book as a free download for up to 5 days. It will get your book known, being read by many more readers, who may give some good reviews; it can gain visibility in the free charts; and it could ultimately lead to an increase in real sales after the special offer expires. Kindle’s strategy may also include giving a wider market a powerful incentive to buy the e-reader device. The question is, is this a good idea for authors? Although it may seem like a wonderful idea for readers, does it offer a rich and broad spectrum of daring books that traditional publishers may have seen as high-risk, or open up a plethora of mediocre books?

Personally, I felt doubtful about the whole thing. I had worked hard to produce my three novels! Now, was I expected to just give them away for nothing?!
I spoke to Andy Malt, Editor of music business website CMU ( Over the last decade he has seen the music industry going through many changes similar to those happening now in book publishing.

How does free downloading work with music? What have been the key changes in the music industry in the last 8 - 10 years that we, in the book world, can learn from?
Well, illegal downloading took off at the turn of the century and has continued to boom ever since, but that's a massive topic to cover in itself, and not what we're really talking about here, so I'll concentrate on legitimately offered downloads.

There's no hard and fast rule for how it works, but there are three main ways of doing it. Either just giving away the single tracks completely for free, giving away single tracks in exchange for an email address, or giving away a complete album and then trying to drive people to buy limited edition physical copies. These tend to suit artists at different stages in their career. These strategies have taken a long time to develop properly and as ebooks begin to take off there is much the publishing industry can learn from what the music industry has been through (and much beyond giving things away for free). But the ultimate question when you give something away for free is: How will this help me achieve what I want to achieve?
With the benefit of hindsight, do you think any artists may have regretted giving their music away? Or, conversely, has it worked miracles for them?

The answer is yes to both. Many think that the prevalence of free music online has devalued it to a point where people don't really care about it any more. Conversely, many see it as levelling the playing field for artists, because the internet provides everyone with easy distribution tools, removing many of the barriers that previously existed in reaching potential fans. People are able to listen to a far broader range of music from all over the world now because the access is so much greater. But that of course means the competition for your ears (or in the case of books, eyes) is also much greater.
Is it a question of short term gain, maybe not so good in the long-term?

No, I think it's the opposite. In order for all of these things to pay off you have to think in the long term. Early in an artist's career, giving music away can help them to get their name known. The hope would be that they have a long and successful enough career to earn a good living later. Those early fans will always be important, because they're the people who will evangelise for you as you rise up the ranks.
As I said before, the question you need to ask is 'How will this help me achieve what I want to achieve?'. If you want to have a long term career and make music or write books for the rest of your life, then foregoing financial gain in the short term (which is far from assured, anyway) may ultimately be what pushes you towards that goal.

Are there differences between the UK and US? Are they ahead of the game in the US, do you think?
Europe was ahead of the US in terms of adoption and acceptance of digital music at one stage (in terms of the industry - the fans have been on it for a long time), but that has changed more recently. There's still a resistance to it from some quarters, but I think we've reached a point now where the music industry knows that the internet isn't going to go away. The fans are going to get what they want, so resistance is counterproductive.

Thanks Andy!’
It’s all pretty experimental in the e-publishing world at the moment which makes it both fascinating and exciting.

So - if you would like something for nothing, then please download here in a few days’ time!  (Friday 12 Oct - Tuesday 16 Oct) Remember you can read Kindle books on your PC, Mac or iPad, if you don’t have a Kindle, so long as you have the right software or App.

Some reviews of No Gypsies Served

Many FIVE STARS here on  Amazon 

A few interesting insights into No Gypsies Served, by Scarlett de Courcier,  Bohemiacademia
“I'd recommend them as essential reading to anyone; I think they should be in every local library, preferably on the 'recommended' shelf, “

“ … if I'm going on just how much I was impressed by a book, and how important it is to society at the moment, Wakerly's two novels have to take joint second place. 

Really, really beautifully written.”

Louise Graham,  Lou Graham's Blog 
“Miriam has really helped me understand the Gypsy community a little bit better with some compassion.”

Nikki Bywater, Books 4U
“… another wonderful read by Miriam Wakerly  …really portrays Gypsies and Travelling people as individual characters”

Kay Green, Booksy
" … deftly using a variety of plot-devices to fill in the picture whilst maintaining page-turning momentum.

… Wakerly is remarkably good at passing the reader food for thought without ever preaching. She makes no judgemental comments as she passes …”
Michael Smith,   O NEVO DROM
“This book is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend to the reader and the story will leave the reader spellbound throughout the entire book. Miriam has put so many different angles and plots into this book that boredom just cannot ever rear its head, making this book a real page turner.”

And something extra from  Love a Happy Ending See a wonderful photo here - and why!!

"No Gypsies Served picks up the story of Gypsies Stop tHere two years on, in Appley Green; so it is a sequel but, as it goes back in time, it is also the prequel. You could read No Gypsies Served first if you prefer because they also stand alone as stories."