Monday, 19 July 2021

 Guest Post with Eva Glyn

This week on the blog, I am delighted to welcome friend and author, Eva Glyn, to talk about her novel, The Missing Pieces of Us, which will be published by One More Chapter on July 21st.

Eva, welcome. Please tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
Although Welsh by birth, and having grown up in Cardiff, not a million miles from where you live, Jan, I moved to Cornwall four years ago. The idea was to downsize to a place my husband and I could lock up and leave to travel, although of course there hasn’t been a great deal of that going on in the last fifteen months. There has been a lot of writing though.

The Missing Pieces of Us is your debut novel writing as Eva Glyn. Can you tell us a little about the story behind the story?
The story was inspired by a tree. A very special tree in the woods above the River Hamble, exactly as it is described in the book. I was taken there by a friend back in 2009 and instantly knew it had stories to tell:
‘The oak stood on the rise above the path, not too tall or wide but graceful and straight, its trunk covered in what I can only describe as offerings – pieces of ribbon, a daisy chain, a shell necklace…’
Children also leave letters for the fairies who look after the tree and guess what? The fairies reply. 

Before I’d even read a word of your novel, I knew it would be a book for me because of the wonderful cover design. Can you tell us about that and the intriguing title?
The book was originally indie published as The Faerie Tree in 2015 with quite a dark cover, because I didn’t want it to look like a children’s book. Over time, I realised the title wasn’t doing it any favours so I dreamt up one that would say more about the story, and felt quite modern. The cover is all down to the wonderful design team at One More Chapter – I can take no credit. 

the fairy tree
Your characters, Izzie and Robin, are very credible and you explore a whole range of human emotions through them. Can you say which came first, the characters or the story you wanted to tell?
Robin came first. It was some months after I’d first seen the fairy tree and I was sitting in Caffe Nero in Winchester watching homeless men gather at the Buttercross outside, and I started to wonder what it would be like to recognise one of them. A friend had suffered a pretty cataclysmic breakdown the year before and I wanted to write a story to show that recovery and happiness were possible. 

How much planning did you do for The Missing Pieces of Us?
Absolutely none. I just started to write and kept writing. These days I need to be more organised, because I have an outline agreed by my publisher beforehand so I need to have the whole story laid out in my head, as well as character sketches and settings. It’s better that way because everyone knows what they’re working towards. As readers, we all recognise that sinking feeling when we pick up a book that just isn’t how it’s described in the blurb. 

How much research did you have to do? How did you set about it? 
I wrote what I knew, set in places I knew. But I had one major problem and I didn’t know the answer until the book was almost finished; how on earth could Robin and Izzie’s memories of the past be so different? In the indie book it was left a little ambiguous, although there were strong pointers, but in the new version it’s far clearer, and that’s the one change my editor at One More Chapter wanted me to make. 

How would you like your readers to feel when they’ve finished reading your book?
Optimistic and hopeful. Because if Robin and Izzie, who in their own ways have suffered so much, can move beyond that, then perhaps most people can. 

On a more general note, do you have a particular writing routine?
When I’m writing a first draft I do, and it’s first thing in the morning, with a latte at my side. I read through what I wrote the day before and make corrections, then it’s at least a thousand new words. Sometimes more if it’s really flowing. Once I’ve finished we’ll go for a walk – often quite a long one – and then I’ll get on with the rest of the business of the day; often social media and marketing, or research. 

What, for you, is the very hardest part of writing? And what is the most rewarding?
Writing endings is both the hardest and the most rewarding. As a writer, you want the readers to be completely satisfied when they close the book and I still find it really hard to say goodbye to the characters in the right way.

I know that 2021 is a very busy year for you. What can readers look forward to next?
At the beginning of August my first dual timeline, written as Jane Cable, will be published. It’s called The Forgotten Maid and it’s a romantic mystery set in Cornwall during the Poldark era and the present day. I’m very excited because I’ve wanted to set a book here since I moved and I loved researching it so much it’s going to be the first of a series of standalone novels going back to the same period. Then in early September, my second Eva Glyn book comes out. I was inspired to write The Olive Grove by an incredibly moving story I heard about growing up during the Balkan war in the 1990s. We were on holiday in Croatia at the time and it was our tour director’s personal experience, and he has helped me no end with the book. 

If you were asked to tell us one thing about ‘the other me’, what would that be? 
I’ve always loved cricket and I was so inspired by the 2005 Ashes win I blagged my way into becoming a freelance cricket writer. I think knowing I was in the media centre at Lord’s covering a test match was my father’s proudest moment!

Thank you, Jane, for giving us a look behind the scenes of The Missing Pieces of Us. Readers are in for a treat. 

Buy links for The Missing Pieces of Us can be found here:

Personal links:

Website: www.evaglynauthor.com
Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/evaglynauthor/?hl=en
Facebook:EvaGlynAuthor
Twitter: @EvaGlyn

Thank you for reading. I'm sure, like me, you will have been fascinated to hear about the inspiration behind Eva's novel. Writers, have you been inspired to write by something you found or witnessed unexpectedly in nature? 

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

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Guest Post With Sue McDonagh
This week I welcome back to the blog my very good friend, Sue McDonagh. We first met in a writing class in Cowbridge when we were attempting to write our first novels and have been writing buddies ever since. Her fourth novel - yes, book number four! - will be published by Choc Lit at the end of the month on June 29th. I asked Sue to join me on the blog and tell us all about her new novel, 
Summer of Hopes and Dreams.

Welcome, Sue. Over to you!

Summer of Hopes and Dreams is book four in the Art 
Café series.
I so enjoyed writing Beryl, the forthright, retired neighbour in my second novel, Meet Me at the Art Café, and the idea of writing an older character as the heroine appealed to me increasingly. I just needed to find a storyline. I listened to my friends as they discussed the issues of parenting their own parents along with their now-adult children, and I itched to commit their stories to paper, but how? My novels seem to grow from those tiny, unpretentious seeds, gathering pace and characters almost without my help, and gradually, a story began to take shape.

On the whole, it still seems that women take on the main role of nurturing and caring for their families, and I knew that main character Rosie felt redundant to her adult offspring, and was sadly no longer required as carer to her mother. Caught in the limbo of being too young to retire, but apparently too old to re-train, and having lost confidence in herself, I knew something momentous would have to jolt her out of her downward mental spiral.

I’m not going to give away any spoilers here; you’ll have to read for yourself what that something was! As in my previous novels, several of Rosie’s experiences were plucked from my own past, and as I wrote the entire novel in lockdown, those memories came in very handy.

I’d intended Escape to the Art Café to be the last of the Art Café series, but when I began to write Summer of Hopes and Dreams, I found myself missing the original cast terribly. Following several abortive attempts to get book four past the first few chapters, I finally realised that I needed to include The Art Café, at the very least, to give myself a sphere of reference.

The story fell into place at last. It was as if I’d met my mates in a café and was having a good natter, it felt so natural. Of course, it wasn’t plain sailing as I’ve set Summer of Hopes and Dreams slightly earlier than Escape to the Art Café, and ended it later, which meant that my timeline, always my bête noir, was sketchy, to say the least. Thank goodness for the eagle eye of my editor, who stood over me with a whip while I pummelled it into submission.

Also evident in this novel are young children, in the shape of seven-year-old Jack and five-year-old Lily, who present Rosie with the added dilemma of the prospect of parenting another family just when she thought that was all done with. I do love writing children, and observing my own grandchildren has been a fertile basis for honing my young characters. I also enjoy how children alter the dynamic of our relationships, how we often resort to forms of spoken shorthand to avoid saying something aloud, and how we think they’re not listening when in fact, they’ve already got us completely worked out. They’re a joy, and I really do hope that I capture at least some of their charm and mischief.

I can’t end this blog without talking about the baddies. The editor for my first novel, Summer at the Art Café, told me that I’d committed the rookie error of painting my baddie so black that he had no redeeming features and so why on earth had Lucy ever married him? Since then, I’ve come to realise that, (with exceptions, of course – none of my characters actually murder anyone – yet –) people tend not to be bad all the way through, that there are reasons why people seem sometimes so hateful. I’ve tried to ensure that my baddies are more three-dimensional now, and that in turn makes them more satisfying to write – and hopefully, to read. I’d be delighted if you let me know! Thanks so much for reading, and I do hope you enjoy Summer of Hopes and Dreams. X 



I inspired myself to carry on wet felting after writing about how my main character continues with it after a long break. This is one of my pieces, inspired by the local countryside.





Thank you, Sue. I can't wait to read your new novel and wish you lots of sales. If your first three books are anything to go by, I know we're all in for a treat. Good luck! 

BLURB:

Can 'Dozy Rosie' spice up her life and prove she's not boring?

Rosie Bunting has spent her life caring for others, often at the expense of her own hopes and dreams. But when she overhears someone describing her as 'boring', she decides it's time for a change. Little does she realise that the outdoor pursuits weekend brochure handed to her as the local Art Cafe will kick start a summer that will see her abseiling down a Welsh cliff face in 'eye-watering' leggings, rediscovering her artistic side and unexpectedly inheriting an old fire-engine. It also involves meeting hunky outdoor instructor, Gareth Merwyn-Jones although he'd never be interested in Dozy Rosie Bunting... would he?

One thing's for certain: Rosie's path to achieving her hopes and dreams might not be smooth, but it's definitely not boring.

Buy links:

Amazon:  https://tinyurl.com/ykm3rm4d
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/summer-of-hopes-and-dreams
Available from Apple Book Store


Personal Links:

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SueMcDonaghWriter/
Twitter https://twitter.com/SueMcDonaghLit
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mcdonagh.sue/

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed finding out about Rosie and why Sue was keen to write about an older character. Writers, have you done this? Readers, what books have you enjoyed with an older main character? I'd love it if you left a comment. Thanks.

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

Monday, 17 May 2021

 Guest Post With Carol Thomas

This week I'm delighted to welcome fellow Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction author, Carol Thomas, to the blog for the first time. Carol is always very supportive of other authors and she's recently become a member of our local Cariad Chapter. I met her in person at the RNA York Tea in September 2019. Her latest novel A Summer of Second Chances was published by Choc Lit on April 27th.

Carol, welcome!
Please tell us a little about yourself and your writing. 
I live on the south coast of England with my husband, four children and lively Labrador. I am a primary school teacher and have been a volunteer at my local Cancer Research UK charity shop for several years.

I write for both adults and children. My romance novels are published by Choc Lit /Ruby Fiction and have relatable heroines whose stories are layered with emotion, sprinkled with laughter and topped with irresistible male leads. My children's books are self-published and have irresistibly cute, generally furry characters young children can relate to.

This is your fourth novel. What do readers expect when they pick up a Carol Thomas book? 
My publisher advertised the release of A Summer of Second Chances by saying it was a fab new rom-com filled with my “magical ingredients: romance, friendship and four-legged friends.” That made me smile as I think it sums up my novels, and what readers can expect.  

What was the inspiration for A Summer of Second Chances
I volunteer in a charity shop and received a donation of a photo album. As I was checking the quality of it for resale, I spotted a single photograph that had been left inside. My mind began to weave plots and possibilities from that. What if that photograph held a secret? Who were the people? What was the occasion? What happened before and after that picture?  

Can you summarise your new novel in just a few sentences? 
A Summer of Second Chances is about Ava Flynn, who lives in the village of Dapplebury and feels life is slipping her by while she works in a charity shop to keep her mother's beloved wildlife rescue centre, All Critters Great and Small, going. But when Ava's first love, Henry Bramlington, returns to the village, it is not just the donation he makes to the shop that unlocks secrets and emotions related to Ava's past. 

How much planning do you do for each novel?
It depends on the novel, but as a general rule, I like to know my beginning, middle and end point (even though they might change while writing), I do character profiles and some initial research before starting. I then continue researching as I write as my questions become more focused.

Your children’s books are delightful. How do pets and four-legged friends feature in your novels for adults?
I can’t seem to help myself when it comes to including dogs in my novels; all have a Labrador in them and A Summer of Second Chances also has a springer spaniel. I think dogs add warmth to a book. They also give subtle clues about characters in they way they respond to them and vice versa. 

I’m full of admiration that you work as a teacher and have a young family at the same time as being an author. When and where do you write best? 
I like writing in cafes. I have a couple of favourite spots locally. Writing, like reading, is a form of escapism; though when you write you get to choose the journey and the destination so that adds to the fun. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given as a writer? 
When writing romantic comedy you don’t have to shy away from the darker moments in life so long as they are balanced with lighter moments. Even in a romantic comedy, life can’t be jolly all of the time; if it were it wouldn’t feel real. 

What is the biggest compliment a reader could pay you?  
Leaving a positive review and/or recommending my books to a friend. I think those are lovely things to do. Reviews are so important to authors and help get them and their work noticed. They also keep them going when the writing is tough and the words aren’t behaving.

Thank you for having me on your lovely blog, Jan.
It's been a pleasure to find out more about you, Carol. Good luck with your new novel. I hope it flies!

BLURB FOR A Summer of Second Chances.
Does first love deserve a second chance?
Ava Flynn sometimes feels like the clothes donated to her charity shop have seen more life than her, but 'maximum dedication for a minimal wage' is what keeps her mother's beloved wildlife charity, All Critters Great and Small, running -especially in the village of Dapplebury, where business is certainly not booming.

But when Ava's first love, Henry Bramlington, returns to the village, suddenly life becomes a little too eventful. Henry escaped Dappleburymany years before, but now he has the power to make or break the village he left behind - All Critters Great and Small included. Can Ava trust the boy who ran away to give bother her and her charity a second chance? 

Links to A Summer of Second Chances:
 Amazon| Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay | Nook |

Other books can be found via: http://carol-thomas.co.uk/books

Blog and website: http://carol-thomas.co.uk/blog

FB Author page: http://facebook.com/carolthomasauthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/carol_thomas2

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed finding out more about Carol and her lovely books. As a writer, do you include four-legged friends in your novels? As readers, what do animals bring to your enjoyment of a story? I'd love it if you left a comment for Carol and me. Thank you.

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

Monday, 3 May 2021

 Two Years On

Two years ago today, I accepted and signed a contract for three books with my lovely publisher, RUBY FICTION. This time in May 2019, I was on cloud nine and delighted to be joining a group of writers whose books I have enjoyed and whose writing I admire. At the time, I had submitted one novel and was in the process of editing novel two. Then, I had no idea of author-brand and just enjoyed trying to write the kind of novels I liked reading. Little did I know then, or could ever imagine, that both those novels would be published in the middle of a global pandemic.

Her Mother's Secret (Published 21st April 2020) - Everything from working with an editor, deciding on a title, choosing cover designs, and writing blog posts about the novel to coincide with publication was a new experience and one that I loved doing. I learned so much from everyone in the Ruby Fiction team and am grateful for that. The night before my book was let out into the world, I was both excited and nervous, worrying about what the reviews would be like. Because we were in the middle of a complete lockdown last April and travel was prohibited, the novel soon appeared to become an escapist read. It was often viewed as armchair travelling to the sun and virtual Greece. Publication day was spent in the garden eating Greek-style food and in the evening, there was a surprise Zoom get-together with family and friends. We were all getting to grips with Zoom back then but by the novel's book-birthday last month, Zoom has become a way of life for many of us. Seeing the novel as Number 1 in The Amazon Hot Releases in Greek Travel for a short while as well as being nominated for the longlist of the Not-the-Booker prize and receiving votes was exciting.  

Fast forward five months and Her Sister's Secret (Published 15th September 2020) followed quite quickly. I'd been through the processes before but the nervousness of how the book would be received came back with a vengeance. I'd been thrilled with the messages and reviews received for my debut novel so this time there was the added concern of expectation. Restrictions had been lifted a little in Wales by then and we celebrated publication day by going to a Sicilian restaurant, eating al fresco, and sampling some of the food my characters would have eaten when they visited Sicily. Again I have been humbled by the messages and reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads for the novel. My publisher organised for it to be on offer on Book Bub in October and waking up to see it with an orange bestseller flag and ranked as #34 in the UK Kindle store, #14 in Australia and #27 in Canada was very special.

A huge thank you to all you readers who have downloaded the two novels and let me know how you've enjoyed them. Novel three is with the publisher now and hopefully will be published in the summer. Like the others, it's a dual narrative that explores a mother and daughter relationship and involves secrets and forbidden love. Set in 1941 and 1963, the contrasting area in this book is Normandy in Northern France and deals with a difference in social class. 

I've been reflecting on my brand and what readers may expect from reading one of my books. On October 28th, my blog post  What Readers Expect looks at this in detail. One of the features I picked out was '...the characters' emotions, their highs and lows, are shared with the readers'.  Ruby Fiction has as its strapline 'Stories that inspire emotions!' I like to think that my novels do just that. They are character-driven and the word 'emotion' or 'emotional' crops up in many of the comments.

Her Mother's Secret:
 'Reading the novel is a voyage of discovery into Elin and Alexandra's lives and is packed with emotions...'
'... She knows how to get the emotions simmering.'
'... everything is brought together in this emotional, engrossing journey.'
'... we laugh and cry with the characters.'

Her Sister's Secret
'The story of Rose and Jennifer is told with love and care, and even the most difficult parts are done with great compassion that tugs at your heartstrings.'
'... you will feel the emotion as if you were there.'
'... an emotional page-turner...once again had me captivated from start to finish.'
'... it touched on so many issues. It was heart-wrenching and beautiful at times, with a lovely ending.'

Thank you Ruby Fiction for believing in me and my stories. I hope you think they do inspire emotions and fit your remit well. I have loved working with the editor at Ruby and I hope you'll agree that the cover designer has done a wonderful job each time. 

Thank you for reading. Writers, what do readers expect when they choose to read your novels? Readers, do you select an author's book knowing what s/he will be offering you as you read the pages? I'd love it if you left a comment below. Thank you.

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

Monday, 19 April 2021

Jan Baynham Writer

 Happy Book Birthday

On Wednesday 21st April, it will be one year since I became a published author. My debut novel, Her Mother's Secret, is set in rural mid-Wales and a fictional island off the Peloponnese in 1969 and 1991. Exploring a mother-daughter relationship, it tells of secrets, loss, forbidden love, and a summer spent searching for true identity. The novel was published during lockdown and publication day had to be spent in my garden enjoying a Greek meal cooked by my husband instead of going out and celebrating with friends. This time last year, I was getting both excited and nervous about my first ever novel going out into the world. How would it be received? What if everyone hated it? 

A year on, how did my story do? After a sleepless pre-publication night, I was blown away by the 5* and 4* reviews on the day itself on both Amazon and Goodreads. Over the last year, I have been humbled by the ratings and reviews that have continued to come in along with many messages from readers saying how much they have enjoyed Elin and Alexandra's stories. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to do that. Many have commented how they enjoyed being whisked away to Greece to experience its weather, culture, and food at a time when we were all restricted and unable to go very far from our own homes.

For a while, Her Mother's Secret even sported an orange bestseller flag with the top spot in the Hot New Releases in Greek Travel which was very exciting. In May, it came out as an audio version and it was lovely to receive a message from a partially sighted reader to say how much hearing the story read by Deryn Edwards for Audible.co.uk meant to her.

If you haven't read the novel, it is currently on offer, reduced to 99p, and I'd love it if you'd like to download it in celebration of its first birthday.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Mothers-Secret-Summer-69-ebook/dp/B085CHV3VQ/

Here are some photos and snippets from the book to hopefully whet your appetite:

'Péfka harbour is very picturesque. A mix of marshmallow-coloured townhouses with balconies and fishermen's stone cottages. Gleaming white motor launches bob on the deep aquamarine water. I've arrived in paradise!'


'A worn path shone through mottled grey flagstones and led from the water's edge up to the old town of Santa Marina. It told of thousands of tourists and travellers who had disembarked before her...This was it. The start of her adventure.'




'

Elin sketched several scenes of the harbour. None of the yachts was as grand as The Palinourus but then perhaps they weren't owned by drug dealers, she thought. She started to move along the quayside when she heard an English voice.'
 

'Papery magenta bougainvillea hung in vibrant clouds... Yiannis led me to a door at the far end of the crazy-paved area. The pale blue paint was peeling and a small window to the right of it was obscured with grime and cobwebs.'





I loved writing Her Mother's Secret and creating Elin and Alexandra's stories. It took me back to the many holidays we've enjoyed in Greece and the wonderful local characters we've met over the years. It was June 2019 when we last holidayed there on the beautiful island of Kefalonia and it doesn't look as if we'll be able to visit again this year because of COVID. 

If you do download the novel, I'd love to know how you enjoyed being transported to the sunshine and colours of my fictional Greek island. Thank you.

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

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!