Monday, 29 March 2021

 Guest Post with Claire Sheldon

Today, I’m delighted to be chatting to fellow Ruby Fiction author, Claire Sheldon. Claire’s debut crime novel, Perfect Lie, came out in June 2020 and her second book, A Silent Childwas published on March 23rd.

Welcome, Claire. We haven’t met in person but I feel I ‘know’ you from being part of the same publishing family and your support on Twitter and Facebook.

Perhaps you’d like to introduce yourself and tell us a little about your writing journey. 

My writing journey started in 2016 when my work hours were cut due to my failing health and I joined an adult education creative writing course. After a lot of highs and lows, my debut novel was published four years later! I like to say by day I work in insolvency insurance and by night I’m an author.

Your books are part of a series, The Lisa Carter Files. Can you explain the link between the books?

My publisher wanted to call the series something so people would easily know that A Silent Child is in the same series as Perfect Lie and any future books will also be linked that way. For example, Angela Marson’s books are all known for being part of the detective Kim Stone series. My books are all being linked by Lisa Carter who is my main character Jen Garner’s alter ego.   

 What inspired you to write A Silent Child?

A Silent Child follows on from the revelations in Perfect Lie about Jen’s past and her alter ego,
Lisa Carter. 
It was born out of the question of what would happen if a child was found wandering the street asking for someone but no one knows who this person is and they can’t be traced. In A Silent Child, there is one person who knows who Lisa Carter is but what does DI Jackson do? Go to Jen and ask for help or deny all knowledge? Then there’s Jen's dilemma. She almost lost her family in Perfect Lie, can she risk it all again? Can either character live with themselves if they did nothing? But nothing is ever straightforward…

Before I read a word of the A Silent Child, the cover drew me in. What were your thoughts when you saw the cover for the first time? 

Mikel is a very central part of the story so it was important that he appeared on the front cover in some form. My brilliant book cover artist tried various scenes of a child alone on the street as that is what Mikel is at the start of the novel and this one was chosen by the fantastic stars.

Perfect Lie has received well-deserved, excellent reviews. Have those had an impact on your feelings pre-publication of a second novel?

To be honest, I really don’t know how I feel. There were so many highs and lows getting Perfect Lie out into the world and A Silent Child has been pretty much plain sailing. I think I am more scared that my readers are suddenly going to realise that I’m not as good as they think I am and Perfect Lie was a one-hit-wonder. So if I don’t get as excited and do as much bouncing off walls if it all falls through it won’t be the end of the world and the low won’t be as bad. What is it that Will Young sings in that song “If I lose the highs, at least I’ll accept the lows”?

They won't think that, Claire, but I can remember having similar thoughts about readers' expectations of novel two. 

How much planning do you do for your novels?

I am fast discovering that planning is a good idea. Perfect Lie was written flying by the seat of my pants and a lot of work was done to it before it reached Choc Lit. A Silent Child wasn’t so when it came to the edits, I had a lot of work to do on it and a lot of re-shaping of the storyline. Also, a lot of the inspiration for both books came from being at work. I used to be renewing “bonds” and get ideas and inspiration. With spending the past year at home, things haven’t been coming to be as easy!

Are any of your characters based on real people?

A lot of the names in the book come from people I know Nikki Hayward exists in real life, George Curtis comes from another former work colleague, Christine Curtis. I also work with an Adam, James and Tim which was really funny when I heard the audio for the first time. The first line Adam says is “What the f___” which I found really funny seeing as Adam is my boss in real life. One of the teaching assistants at my child’s school is called Mrs. Littlefair, so I had to speak to her about using her surname as I didn’t want her to pick up the book and see I’ve used her surname and Hannah Littlefair is a bit of a minx. This means I am now starting to struggle with names, having almost used everyone's names that I know. 

Is there going to be a Lisa Carter Files Book 3 and if so, when will it be out?

Yes, it’s in progress, or not as it seems. I had big dreams of getting a book out every six months. But I think it's going to be more like yearly so all being well 2022 if not before…

Finally, what is the biggest compliment you could have for writing ‘A Silent Child’?

It's as good if not better than Perfect Lie.

Thank you, Claire. I wish you good luck with your new novel and hope the sales will soar for you.

BIO:

Claire lives in Nottingham with her family, a cat called Whiskers and a dog called Podrick. She suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and as a result of the disease had to reduce her hours working in insurance for an Insolvency Insurer. This spare time enabled her to study a creative writing course which inspired her to write her debut, Perfect Lie.
When Claire isn't working she enjoys reading crime novels and listening to music - the band Jimmy Eat World is her biggest muse! Claire is also an avid reader and book blogger. The inspiration for her novels comes from the hours spent watching The Bill with her grandparents and auntie; then later, Spooks and other detective programmes like Morse, A Touch of Frost and Midsummer Murders.

LINKS:

To buy the book -  https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Silent-Child-compelling-thriller-Carter-ebook/dp/B08W59SQ16/

Blog and website: https://csheldonblog.wordpress.com

FB Author page: https://www.facebook.com/clairesheldonauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClaireEESheldon

Thank you for reading. As a writer, do you relate to Claire's concerns about how your next book will be received by readers? What are the advantages (or otherwise) of writing a series with a central character? As a reader, what are your thoughts on reading a series?

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Facebook Jan Baynham Writer page.

Monday, 1 March 2021

 St David's Day - Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus


As the patron saint of Wales, St David's
 Day is celebrated every year in Wales on March 1st in commemoration of the day he died in 589 AD.  Daffodils and leeks are worn, pans of lamb cawl prepared and Welsh cakes are made; the famous red dragon flag is flown. In Wales, foundation phase children (three to seven-year-olds) returned to school last Monday after being in lockdown since before Christmas but as they are the only ones to have returned, celebrations in schools will be a bit different this year. Usually, the day is a day of parades, concerts and eisteddfodau. These are festivals of music, language and culture. Pupils attend school in national costume. My little grandson is in Reception. Today, he wore his red Welsh jersey and had dragon wings. He was going to be making Welsh cakes in class with his teacher.

My novels are always set in Wales. You will find references to the Welsh food and the landscape as well as a smattering of Welsh words used in everyday life. 

In Her Mother's Secret, there is a scene where Alexandra visits her nan, Sadie, when she is making Welsh cakes.


'I watched Nan grease the griddle and once it was hot enough, she turned the heat down, placing a creamy white circle down carefully. It took me back to the times when she'd let Claire and me cook them, telling us to wait for the sugar to turn transparent as the sign we should turn them over with the flat palette knife... She piled the cooked Welsh cakes onto the rack and filled the griddle with more to cook.'

In Her Sister's Secret, as well as references to Welsh cakes, Violet Howells cooks cawl for her family.

'Your mam makes a tasty cawl, cariad. Uses up plenty of my ol' leeks even if we can only get scrag end of lamb from Sid the Meat these days. Any more going, Violet?' 

Music plays an important place in the family, too. 

"Here, give her to me," said her mother. She began singing Suo Gan and cwtched the baby back to sleep. Rose remembered her mother singing the very same Welsh lullaby to Harri. "It always works." Her mother smiled.

Suo Gan - boy soprano, Cai Thomas, accompanied by the harp

In novel three, when Clara returns home from her university placement in Normandy, she reflects on the mid-Wales landscape she missed so much. 


'Driving back from Glaswen, I was struck by the beauty of the Radnorshire countryside. Hedges were becoming greener as new growth appeared on the stems and fields appeared like a patchwork quilt of every hue of green. Lush and verdant, the landscape glowed in the afternoon sunshine.'


Although in all three novels my characters spend time in Greece, Sicily and Northern France respectively, it is Wales they call home. Being born and brought up in mid-Wales like me, they are Welsh through and through. They would be celebrating their Saint David's day today wherever they were in the world, I'm sure.

Thank you for reading. Writers, is the area where you were born reflected in your novels? Readers, do you like to read novels set in the area where you're from? 

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page. 

HAPPY SAINT DAVID'S DAY TO YOU ALL!

Monday, 15 February 2021

Love Is...

Every year, Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14th and serves as a reminder for us to celebrate love and our loved ones. My husband and I always celebrate a day later on the 15th as it's the anniversary of the Valentine's dance when we started going out together. We were both still in school and it wasn't until five years later that we chose the same date on which to get engaged. This year, in lockdown, we couldn't go out for a celebratory lunch or dinner as we always do but had a delicious meal, with a bottle of the customary fizz, delivered to the house. 

So, what is love? Some of you may remember the popular 'Love is...' cartoons of New Zealand artist, Kim Casali, in the seventies. She drew them originally as love notes for her future husband. The cartoon's release coincided with the success of the novel Love Story by Erich Segal and the subsequent movie of the same name. The film's slogan was Love means never to have to say you're sorry. Casali changed this into one of her most famous cartoons, 'Love is... being able to say you're sorry.' 

When a writing friend recommended that I should join the RNA via its wonderful New Writers' Scheme, I didn't think I would be eligible. I didn't write romantic fiction in the way I thought of it. However, when I started to analyse what my novels were about, in amongst the families and their secrets, there is indeed a very strong element of love interest in each one. There is a range of first love, innocent love, forbidden love, and mature, never-ending love as well as maternal love that underpins them all.

In Her Mother's Secret, Elin falls in love with Stelios but due to cultural differences, there is not a happy ending for her. However, when her daughter, Alexandra, follows in her mother's footsteps to find out why Elin kept her summer in Greece a secret, she too finds love, one that develops after friendship. Those of you who may have read my short story in the Cosy Christmas Treats anthology will know how that love story ends.


In Her Sister's Secret, young innocent Rose falls in love at first sight but knows that even to fraternise with Marco, a Prisoner of War, is forbidden. Later. the love she feels for her husband Bryn is a different kind of love. It's the 'love that will last forever,' she says. Jen is infatuated at one stage with a 'bad boy' as part of her rebellion to finding out the truth but the true love between her and Mike is explored in the novel, too.



In novel three, Annie falls for Edmund. Because of the difference in social class and when Edmund leaves to fight in WW2, soon to be reported missing in action and presumed dead, the love between them appears doomed. Will Annie find love again?

Look out for this new story when it's published by Ruby Fiction in July.

So, I do write romantic fiction after all. I'm very grateful to Sandra for pointing me in the direction of the New Writers' Scheme. The RNA is such a supportive association. 

Romantic fiction covers a wide range of genres but love in all its guises and facets is central to life. On the RNA blog today, there is an excellent post by Julie Cohen entitled Why We Should Take Romantic Fiction Seriously  

Thank you for reading. Do you write romantic fiction? If you're a reader of romance, why do you enjoy romantic fiction?

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page 


Monday, 25 January 2021

 The Welsh Custom of Giving Lovespoons

Siop Y Pentan
Cyfres Lucila Lavender
The 25th of January is the feast day of Saint Dwynwen who is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, making her the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine. Saint Dwynwen lived in the 5th century and was a Welsh princess, the daughter of  King Brychan Brycheiniog. She was unlucky in love, and became a nun. She prayed that happiness would be granted to all lovers. She set up a convent on Llanddwyn island off Anglesey. Her church and 'holy well' is a pilgrimage shrine, especially for lovers, from the Middle Ages until today. The popularity of celebrating St Dwynwen's Day has increased considerably in recent years.


A Welsh love spoon may be considered an ideal St Dwynwen's Day gift.  Lovespoons were traditionally given as a token of love and affection and each spoon was unique. Although individual, over time a series of symbols was used to convey romantic thoughts and feelings. Here are some designs and their meanings:

Hearts - the universal symbol of love. Twin hearts may indicate a mutual love between the sender and recipient.

Double Bowls - this indicates the union of souls when joined together.

Balls in a Cage - these are commonly thought to represent the number of children desired by the carver.

Chain Links - generally considered to indicate loyaly and faithfulness, chain links may also symbolise a couple bound together in their love.

Diamonds - these are believed to represent a wish for prosperity and good fortune as well as a promise to provide well for a loved one.

Keys and Keyholes - as well as representing domestic contentment, these are thought to represent security and a key to one's heart.

Wheels - these are said to represent the carver's vow to work hard and guide a loved one through life.

The young man would spend hours carving the lovespoon with his own hands, in the hope that the young girl would accept it. If she did, they would start a relationship, which is the origin of the word 'spooning'.

Today they are often given as a gift of affection or a memento of a visit to Wales.Lovespoons are given to commemorate special events such as weddings, engagements, birthdays, anniversaries, births, christenings, house-warming and St Valentine's Day. Over the centuries, many more symbols and motifs have been added and now lovespoons have become more elaborate and collectable.


Here is one made for me when I left my first teaching post to get married and move away from the area. Obviously, those were the days before disposable nappies and by carving the heart's safety pin, the carver thought babies would be on the horizon for me!


Lovespoons do not always come in wood. Clogau Gold has a range of beautiful lovespoon jewellery. For an anniversary, and three babies later, my husband presented me with this beautiful pendant in yellow and rose gold. I was thrilled.
 


   

A very special lovespoon features in my short story Christmas Surprises on Péfka in the anthology Cosy Christmas Treats, published by Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction

'Yiannis unwrapped the gift and held up a beautifully carved lovespoon, with two hearts engraved with the initials A and Y.

    "In Wales these were given as love tokens." Sadie pointed out each part on the design. "The hearts are obviously for love, the bell here is for marriage, the knot symbolises every lasting love, and see the little balls inside the frame? They signify how many children you'll have."

    "Three?" Yiannis and Alexandra laughed.

    Yiannis handed the lovespoon to Alexandra... "With three woodturners in the room, you could not have chosen a better gift. We all see the craftsmanship and care that has gone into this. Thank you."

💘💘 A VERY HAPPY ST DWYNWEN'S DAY TO YOU ALL! 💘💘

Thank you for reading. Do you own or have bought a lovespoon? Was it for a special occasion? What symbols are part of its design?

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

Monday, 11 January 2021

 Looking Forward With 2021 Goals

The blog is seven years old this January and every year at this time, I look ahead to the coming year and set myself some writing goals. I've enjoyed looking back to those early sets of targets when I was starting out on this writing journey. Back in 2014, they revolved around writing short stories and submitting them to competitions or online platforms. They then progressed to completing the first draft and editing a novel through to submitting it to publishers. 2020 was the year I became a published author for the first time so the main goal of the last seven years was achieved but what a year it was! 

Because we are still in the middle of the pandemic and as I write this, things are set to get even worse before the vaccine is rolled out, what the new year will bring to me as a writer is uncertain. However, I do have some targets to share with you. In 2021, I hope to:

  • get my third novel in the best condition I can before submitting it to my editor at Ruby Fiction. It's coming out in July and I'm looking forward to introducing Annie, Odile and Clara to my lovely readers. Many have been asking when the next novel is being published and I hope I can fulfil their expectations!
  • work on some ideas for future novels that have been bubbling away in my head. Whereas the first three books have explored mother and daughter relationships, I'd like to look at links between siblings next. As with all my novels, I hope that they will be partly set in a contrasting country so that when we can travel freely again, I can 'walk the walk' of my new characters, notebook in hand. I can't wait!
  • attend the RNA Conference in person. I did miss it so much this year like everyone else, I'm sure.
The other goals are on-going ones:

  • to read more
  • to continue with the fortnightly blog. It was a good decision to move from weekly to writing a post every other week. In 2020, there were 26 blog posts, whereas I hadn't ever reached my target of a post a week before.
  • to continue to enjoy my writing and learn more about the craft. I shall be continuing with Imagine Writing Workshops with Jenny Kane. These sessions via Zoom have not only been enjoyable but invaluable for keeping my writing mojo going during a difficult year. Thanks, Jenny!
Wish me luck!

Thank you for reading and your loyal support. I hope that you achieve your writing goals in 2021. Are they different from other years' in view of COVID? How do you prioritise? I'd love it if you shared your thoughts and ideas. Thanks.

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Looking Back On 2020

A year ago, I was looking forward to what I called 'a special year'. It was going to be the Diamond Anniversary year for the Romantic Novelists' Association and I was looking forward to a number of celebrations during 2020. It was going to be the year I became a published author and I couldn't wait to celebrate the launch of my debut novel a few months later. Little did I know then how this last year would be a year that has affected everyone, many tragically, and turned normality upside down. 2020 became the year of COVID 19 and life as we'd known it changed beyond recognition. As I always do at this time of year, I've been reflecting on my writing journey over the past twelve months and wondering how things would have panned out if there had been no pandemic. 

In February, I attended  Love Writing Manchester, my first and only RNA Diamond celebration in person. That weekend at the end of February also turned out to be the last and only time we stayed away from home in 2020. On April 21st, my debut novel, now entitled 'Her Mother's Secret', was published as planned and, in full lockdown, it was just my husband and me celebrating on our own in the garden. A surprise Zoom meeting with family and friends in the evening was the nearest we got to a launch but it was enjoyable nevertheless. For me, that feeling of becoming a published author was a dream come true. I wasn't prepared for the generous comments, messages and reviews that came with publication, and appreciate every one. 'Her Mother's Secret' was long-listed for the 'Not the Booker Prize' (it only has to be nominated to achieve this!) and it was fun to be part of it. In September, the novel was a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award. I was very proud to have been eligible for this award which is given to novelists whose novels have been through the wonderful RNA New Writers' Scheme. I had been so looking forward to attending the York Tea in September when this had been scheduled to take place but thanks to the RNA committee there was a very special virtual ceremony via Zoom instead.

The publication of my second novel, 'Her Sister's Secret'followed in September. Restrictions had eased a little in Wales by then in that we could now eat out as long as rules for social distancing and hand-sanitising were strictly observed. This time we went to a local Sicilian restaurant and sampled the sort of foods my characters would have eaten during their summer of '66. As with my first novel, I was overwhelmed by the fact that readers were messaging me to say they'd enjoyed the second book and many had taken the trouble to leave reviews. 

My contract with Ruby fiction was for three novels and I took part in NaNoWriMo again this year in order to get the bulk of the first draft of novel three written. I'm pleased to say that I was a NaNo winner this year having written over 50,000 words throughout November. Being part of a supportive group from the writing community helped me achieve the goal this year. 

I hadn't heard of Zoom before lockdown but it has been invaluable for keeping in touch with my RNA Chapters and writing groups. The Conference in July had to be cancelled but a very enjoyable virtual alternative was arranged by the RNA committee, including Zoom one-to-ones with agents and publishers. A huge thanks to all concerned! There have been numerous seminars and talks organised by the Society of Authors, the RNA and the virtual Hay Festival. I have attended workshops by Alison May and Jenny Kane, and a ten-week Further Adventures in Crime Writing taught by Katherine Stansfield of Cardiff University. 


Instead of an annual visit to Worcester for the launch of the Worcestershire LitFest Anthology of Flash Fiction, this year it took place via Zoom. I had two flashes included in 
'Her Final Goodbye', one shortlisted, and read it aloud on-screen. 



At the end of the year, I was delighted to have two short stories published in the ChocLit/Ruby Fiction anthology, 'Cosy Christmas Treats'.



A writer's life is a solitary one in many ways and perhaps that has helped us deal with the awful enforced isolation of 2020. I have very much missed meeting up with other writer friends in person but I've been grateful for social media and tried to make use of it whenever I could. How has the lockdown affected your writing this year? Has reading helped you to escape from reality? 

Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page. 

Monday, 30 November 2020

 Where next for Sue McDonagh- Author?

Today I'm delighted to welcome back to the blog my good friend and writing buddy, Sue McDonagh. I first met Sue six years ago at a time when I was starting to write my first novel. Since then she has been my constant supporter and motivator, a fellow companion for numerous writing workshops and Conferences.

Welcome back, Sue! 

2020 saw the publication of your third novel in your Art Cafe trilogy for Choc Lit., Escape from the Art Cafe. What's next for author Sue McDonagh?

The Art Café was never intended to be a series. Writing just one book felt like a milestone. Deciding at that point to write a series would have terrified me. And yet, Meet Me at the Art Café, novel two, grew from my curiosity about two minor characters in that first novel. Jo, competent and sensible single mum, and Ed, handsome and charming and yet incapable of sustaining any of his many and legendary romances. 

The perennial author’s question, ‘What if?’ lurked in my mind and demanded attention. Unlike many of my writer friends, I don’t have hundreds of ideas whizzing around my head. My books grow out of one idea that won’t let go.

After writing two heroines who grew in confidence, I wondered about the emotional journey of a feisty heroine, who already had more confidence than she knew what to do with. I worried that readers wouldn’t like her, and I wondered how her character arc would end in the story. What would she have learned about herself? How would she have changed?  I didn’t want her to lose that confidence and become a quiet, constrained version of herself. Intrigued already, I started writing her story, wondering just where she was going to end up. She turned out to be one of the funniest characters I’ve written, and her presence coincided with some huge changes for the Art Café. Without her, it wouldn’t have happened.

I’d always referred to the series as a trilogy, and although I was sad to see an end to the Art Café and its cast, I felt it was time to write a stand-alone novel. I had an idea that, like all the others, had gone from scratching about inside my head to full-on bouncing about trying to escape. And it wasn’t connected to the Art Café!

I began to write it. And then started it again. Got to fifteen thousand words and started again. My two trusted beta readers said they loved it, and it was funny. So why couldn’t I push it along?I downed tools and read instead. I hate to be without a book, but since I’ve started writing, I’ve found that reading doesn’t always represent the escapism that it used to. I can’t read in my own genre when I’m writing, as I find myself somehow morphing into the author I’m reading, and my author voice changes. So I turn to crime and thriller for my kicks – and fell with relief, on the 12th in series from Elly Griffiths, The Lantern Men. I devoured it, as I have all the others, and closed the book with sadness that I had to wait for the next one to be released.

I adore those books. Reading them takes me into a familiar world, where I know the characters. Even as I’m writing these words, I can see them yelling at me, and I bet you can too. It was days before I made the connection. I’ve said often enough that writing the Art Café stories was like going to a great party where I knew everyone. My reviews tell me how much people love the characters in my books as if they’re real people (they are, of course). It dawned on me eventually, that I missed the Art Café!

I had a great new character with this terrible thing happening to her, and I just knew that someone at the Art Café would be around to set her right, make her a cuppa, tell her to get a grip and sort her hair out. And apart from the characters, I missed the sea and that big beach. It was actually visceral.

Our world at the moment is uncertain, and strange, and I’m escaping as much into the world that I create, as into the worlds I read in the pages of other books. I miss having a spontaneous coffee with my friends, and oh, those hugs that were so much a part of our lives. Without realising it, I’d cut my character off from everyone. I set her in the wilderness of the Brecon Beacons, amongst dark hills and rain and I hated it. She was living in the metaphorical darkness of my lockdown life and I hadn’t even noticed.

I opened a new document, and I began again, this time in the Art Café. And the words flowed, and in my head the sun is shining, the sea is sparkling and there’s a little family of grandparents, parents and kids digging holes in the beach and paddling in those warm shallows. I feel happy. I might not be able to zoom around on my motorbike, but I bet Lucy and Flora are out on theirs.

The new story is unfolding. My new character still has her woes, and it’s going to take a while to unravel, and just when she thinks she’s got it right – well, that would be a spoiler – but this time the supporting cast of the Art Café are around to help. Or hinder, you never quite know…

Book 4 of the Art Café series will be out Spring 2021, hopefully. I’ve got everything crossed!

Thank you, Sue. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's thrilled to know that we'll be able to visit the Art Cafe again next Spring. I was fascinated to read how you were compelled to extend the trilogy into a series. The fact that your characters are so real to you is probably why I, for one, think the characterisation in your novels is a real strength.

Author Bio: 

My career as a policewoman in the Essex Police was interrupted when I was twenty-four by ovarian cancer. A year of surgery and chemotherapy meant a successful recovery, which led to a convalescent year in the Essex Police Press Office. This suited me as I’d always fancied being a journalist, and meant that I could play with joined-up writing and stationery.

When I moved to Wales to marry a man widowed by cancer and became an instant mum to his two little boys, I used my Press Office skills and wrote press releases and eventually, blog posts for the various clubs and organisations I was involved with.

 Art evolved into a full-time occupation and I made a living teaching and sketching portraits on the spot at agricultural and seaside shows, moving into more considered work as time went on and appearing on Sky TV in 2014 in the regional finals of the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year.

I now work almost exclusively to commission, but also give demonstrations and talks to art societies and other groups, which I enjoy.

 In 1982, following chemotherapy, I cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End in ten days, fundraising over £8000 towards a cancer scanner for St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where I was treated.

After my first hip replacement sixteen years ago, I and three friends took part in the Four Inns Challenge and walked 45 miles across the Peak District in 16 hours, raising £10,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support.

When my second hip needed replacing, I thought about commemorating it with a further bonkers fundraising idea, but to everyones relief, found my excitement in writing.

Ten years ago I learned to ride a motorbike, and now help to run Curvy Riders, a national, women only, motorbike club.

I live in Wales, a mile from the sea. My Border terrier, Scribble, comes to work in my open-to-the-public studio/gallery with me, and thinks the customers only come in to see him. Sometimes, I think that too.

When I’m not writing, I’m painting or on my eBike or motorbike.

I belong to a local writing group and the Romantic Novelist’s Association. My novels, Summer at the Art Café and Meet Me at the Art Café have been published as digital, audio and paperbacks, and also published in The Netherlands. My third novel, Escape to the Art Café, was released on 30 June, 2020. 

LINKS

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Escape-Art-Cafe-uplifting-page-turner-ebook/dp/B0872BX3WR

https://www.facebook.com/SueMcDonaghWriter/

https://twitter.com/suemcdonaghlit?lang=en

Thank you for reading. Writers, have you felt sad when writing the last book in a trilogy and, like Sue, felt compelled to write more in a series?

Readers, how do you feel when a series comes to an end?

You may also follow me on @JanBaynham and my Jan Baynham Writer page.