Monday 27 November 2023

The Castle at Painscastle

Last time my blog post was all about Cariad Chapter's wonderful first retreat in Painscastle, a small village just a few miles away from Hay-on-Wye. We'd all seen the photos on the website but nothing compared to actually seeing the Grade II listed building where we were going to be staying. Named The Castle, the beautiful house, set on a working farm, has been tastefully renovated yet very much in keeping with the time it was built. The creaky floorboards as well as the sloped ceilings and beams of the attic rooms were ideal for writers' imaginations to come alive. Who once lived there? What secrets did the families hold?

It was even more fascinating when we ventured outside. After walking up through the garden, we travelled back hundreds of years when we came to the ramparts of the castle that gave the village its name. The castle site is on enclosed farmland with no public access so we felt privileged to be able to wander up from the house and see it for ourselves. All that remains now is a series of earthworks. The now grassy mounds show where a major stone castle once stood in a prominent position in a small village. Its location seems to be off the beaten track but it does, in fact, stand on one of the major routes from England into Rasdnorshire. 

The castle was built in the twelfth century by  Payn Fitz John, one of King Henry 1's men, and after whom it was named. It was rebuilt in stone a century later due to repeated attacks by the Welsh. Painscastle castle had a chequered history; one of its most remarkable events was when three thousand Welsh men were slaughtered in a pitched battle between the English and the Welsh. It became the bloodiest massacre in Welsh history  It was said that the River Bachaway ran red with blood.

On the east side of the castle is a derelict house that played a part in Painscastle's history. A white-washed manor house of lordship status, Upper House sits adjacent to the castle bank and is thought to date from the mid-fifteenth century. It would suggest that there was now a shift of power from the fortified castle to a nobleman's home which was undefended. The fact that the hall juts into the outside ditch suggests that by then the castle had lost its military role. Walking around the castle ruins with the panoramic views of the beautiful Radnorshire landscape all around made me think of all that had gone before and was part of the history of that small village we were staying in for a short time.

Thank you for reading. I hope you've enjoyed hearing a little more about the place where the Cariad Chapter spent its writing retreat. How do places with a lot of history affect you? Have you been inspired to write by a location with a lot of history? If you have, I'd love it if you left a comment saying where it was. Thanks.

The Radnorshire countryside features in all my novels. Even on a misty November day when this was taken, I hope you can see why. 


Yesterday I attended the launch of Worcestershire Lit Fest and Fringe Flash Fiction Anthology 2023 in which I was delighted to have three flashes included again this year. 
For the first time, it was good to see several members of the Blackwood Library Writing Group reading out their excellent flashes there as well. The group is run by my friend and librarian, Helen Beckett. Here I am reading out my shortlisted Flash Body Beautiful.
Copies are available from Black Pear Press

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Monday 13 November 2023

A Cariad Retreat


Last week members of the RNA Cariad Chapter travelled to mid-Wales for our first-ever residential writing retreat. As a thriving (and ever growing!) group of writers, we meet in person on the first Tuesday of every month in Cardiff and also on Zoom every third Thursday evening of each month. Before the pandemic, we had enjoyed some day-long retreats and knew how much we felt we benefited from these. During COVID, these were replaced by online retreat days organised by Jessie. It was then we began to think about how wonderful it would be to spend some days away when we could just write without interruption and chat about writing with other writers.

After gauging the interest within the group, it was down to the diligence of Sue's searching and researching that she found a wonderful Grade 11 listed farmhouse in Painscastle, a small village in mid-Wales, not far from Hay-on-Wye, big enough to accommodate those of us who were committed to go. It has nine separate bedrooms and six bathrooms. It is extremely well-equipped and even boasts a hot tub!

To see inside the house for detailed photographs, please click on the link:

As the house would not be available until the afternoon, we
arranged to meet in Hay-on-Wye for lunch first at The Castle Cafe. It was there we met 
Jacqui and Nadine, who was visiting from Canada, for the first time. As writers, there was no way we could leave the book capital of Hay without a wander and visit to Richard Booth's Bookshop before travelling the short distance to the farmhouse.  

Even though we'd all looked at the farmhouse online, on arrival, nothing prepared us for how beautiful the property was. After a wander around the house and allocating rooms, we met together in the large sitting room to talk about schedules for each day, writing plans and ground rules. We also decided on a rota for preparing meals and who would be making morning coffees and afternoon teas. By sharing this, it meant we could all spend maximum time writing or editing. Thanks are due to Imogen for her amazing organisational skills.

So how did it go? My main aim was to continue with NanNoWriMo which I began on November 1st. writing the start of the first draft of novel five. With a working title of The Silent Sister, the story is partially set in Kefalonia at the time of the 1953 earthquake and mid-Wales, and again in 1973 at the time of the twentieth anniversary of the disaster. Nothing was written on the day we arrived so my main aim on Wednesday was to try to catch up. Sitting alone at the huge dining table, I was able to immerse myself in the story without distraction. Over the day, I wrote 2868 words and another 2332 the next day. When it came to leave early on Friday morning, I was behind where I should have been in the NanNo scheme of things but I'd gained so much more than the 5200 words I'd written since arriving. In the evenings, we had a variety of things to do concerning writing; these included penning a seasonal flash fiction piece of 250 words, character development questions to answer and the step-by-step stages of starting a newsletter. 

However, it was at meal times and coffee and tea breaks where I felt I gained most. I enjoyed making new friends, strengthening existing friendships, sharing book recommendations and listening to others talk about their books. Regarding my own novel-in-progress, I valued opinions about the three possible prologue Ideas I had and received advice on a possible plot idea where I was concerned my main character may lose sympathy with the reader. 

In my WiP, I'm still in Kefalonia at the moment but when I come to write about the mid-Wales locations, I know that being in the heart of the Radnorshire countryside last week will inspire my setting. Who knows? A beautiful old farmhouse with an intriguing history and creaky floorboards may make an appearance. 

Huge thanks to everyone who made the retreat such an inspiring experience. I loved every minute of it and can't wait for the next one!

Thank you for reading. Have you been on a writing retreat? If so, what did you gain from it? I'd love it if you left a comment below. Thanks. 

Next time, I shall be blogging about the history of the farmhouse and Painscastle Castle from which it takes its name. I hope you'll call in. 

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Monday 30 October 2023

 Guest Post With Imogen Martin

This week I'm very pleased to welcome fellow RNA Cariad Chapter member, Imogen Martin, onto the blog. Her wonderful sweeping romance novel, Under a Gilded Sky, was published by Storm Publishing on September 15th.

Imogen, welcome. I was privileged to read an ARC of your novel before publication day and I absolutely loved it. Can you please tell us something about the background to your novel?

Over to you!

When I tell people my debut novel Under a Gilded Sky is set at the dawn of the Gilded Age, they often ask me what and when that was.

Here’s a little bit about this fascinating time:

The Gilded Age is a period of American history from the mid-1870s to the end of the 19th century. It was a time of huge industrial expansion which created untold wealth for a few, new jobs for immigrants drawn to the United States, but poverty for many including rural workers and African Americans. I hope I bring some of these contradictions into my story.

The period was coined by historians in the 1920s and takes its name from The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today published in 1873. The novel was written by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner (Twain came from Missouri where my novel is partially set). Fun fact: my main character Ginny is given a copy of this book by the male protagonist, Lex.

The period was driven by the rapid expansion of industry: oil, steel, railroads. The West developed farming, ranching and mining with the railroads swiftly taking products to the east and west coasts. Some of the impact is seen in the book. Could my heroine keep her struggling farm going if she were able to get cattle transported quickly to the big cities?

A small number of industrialists and financiers became richer than anyone in history. Sometimes called ‘robber barons’, their names are still familiar today: JP Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D Rockerfeller and Andrew Carnegie. Around the top 10% of the country owned roughly 75% of the nation’s wealth, and the bottom 40% owned nothing at all. My heroine has a wealthy aunt, and her cousin is determined to find a rich husband for Ginny. The final part of the story is set in Boston where I dig deeper into this privileged lifestyle.

Lots of little things pushed me to the Gilded Age. I moved house and my new local library was a ‘Carnegie library.’ What did that mean? I found there were half-a-dozen in my area, each building unique and beautiful. Who paid for them?

I saw a biography of Andrew Carnegie in my brother’s bookcase (must get round to giving that 800+ page tome back to him!). Carnegie was a poor boy from Dunfermline who emigrated to Pittsburgh and founded a steel industry that made him the richest man in the world. He wrote the Gospel of Wealth and dedicated his later life to giving away the money he had made. Hence, Carnegie Hall in New York – and the libraries across Britain and around the world.

Whilst getting the historical detail as authentic as possible was important to me, Under a Gilded Sky is a sweeping, slow-burn love story, driven by two characters I hope readers will fall in love with. I have tried to give enough detail for readers to get a sense of place, but not so much that they are trudging through a museum.

Thank you, Imogen. I love hearing the background to a story and yours is fascinating. Your meticulous research shines through the novel and I definitely didn't feel like I was trudging through a museum. I was there with your characters at the time.


1874, Missouri: It’s been a long winter. Every morning Ginny pulls on her father’s old leather coat before heading out to tend to the cattle. 

Since Ginny and her fourteen-year-old sister Mary-Lou were orphaned she’s discovered that Snow Farm is deep in debt, but she’s determined to hold onto it – the one thing connecting them to the memory of their beloved parents, and their only means of survival alone against the elements. 

But when a handsome injured stranger turns up at their door needing their help and shelter, he awakens feelings Ginny could never have imagined. Now she has something else to strive for: a glimpse of a life she never dared dream was possible. 

An utterly spellbinding story which celebrates the determination and courage of women who’ve learnt to rely on themselves alone. A breath-taking and vivid novel of courage in the hardest times and hope that lights the way in the darkness.

“Enthralled from the very first page.” Reader review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Breath-taking.” Reader review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Perfection.” Reader review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Author Bio 

Imogen writes sweeping, historical fiction. Her first two novels are set in nineteenth-century America.

As a teenager, she took the Greyhound bus from San Francisco to New York. Over those three days of staring out of the window at the majestic mountains and endless flat plains, stories wound themselves into her head: tales of brooding, charismatic men captivated by independent women.

Since then, she has worked in a coffee shop in Piccadilly, a famous bookstore, and a children’s home. She has run festivals, and turned a derelict housing block on one of the poorest estates in the UK into an award-winning arts centre.

During 2020, Imogen was selected by Kate Nash Literary Agency as one of their BookCamp mentees, a mentorship programme designed to accelerate the careers of promising new writers.

Married with two children, Imogen divides her time between Wales and Sardinia.

She hopes her books will bring you the tingle of a new love affair whilst immersed in a different time and place.

Buying Links

Under a Gilded Sky multi retailer choice link - all retailer options :

Social Media Links


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Thank you for reading. I'm sure, like me, you found Imogen's account fascinating. We'd love it if you left a comment. Thank you.

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Monday 23 October 2023

Guest Post with Jenny Kane

This week I am delighted to welcome author, Jenny Kane, onto the blog. I'm always in awe of her work ethic and the number of books she has written alongside teaching amazing writing courses and workshops. Her latest novel, Misty Mornings at the Potting Shed, was published by Aria on September 14th. 

Jenny, welcome! Can you tell us a bit about your new book?

Misty Mornings at The Potting Shed is the third book in the bestselling, #thepottinghshed series.

It was so much fun going back to The Potting Shed – a garden centre in Devon - to continue the adventures of sisters, Maddie and Sabi Willand, and their friends Ed, Jo, and Sara.

After the winter story, Frost Falls at The Potting Shed, when Maddie and her sister Sabi, take on their late father’s small plant-growing nursery, and begin to expand it into a garden centre, came the springtime adventure – Bluebell Season’s at The Potting Shed – when Jo arrives with his bright orange camper van, full of coffee and cake.

Now, autumn has arrived, and as with many of my novels, Misty Mornings… delivers many challenges to the characters within its pages. From the problems that come with having relatives with dementia, to the practical difficulties of long-distance relationships, Maddie and the gang must face every day head on if they want their business to continue to be a success.  

Here’s little taster from the very beginning of the story…


Flicking a switch, Maddie flooded the garden centre’s shop with light.

‘Sometimes I forget that this used to be the downstairs of my home. Other days I walk in and immediately picture Dad and me sitting on the sofa, right where the houseplant table is.’

Ed smiled at his girlfriend. ‘He’d love it that so many of the locals visit The Potting Shed these days.’

‘He really would.’ A warming glow of satisfaction filled Maddie as she nodded towards the till. ‘Are you okay sorting the shop float if I go and make sure Jo has enough change in the café?’

‘No problem.’ Ed took a pile of five-pound notes from Maddie and flicked them through his fingers.

‘Great. Once we’re open, I’ll man this till until Sabi has finished walking Florrie, then I’ll go and help Jo in the café.’

‘Do you want me to be on carry-to-the-car duty in between watering the polytunnels this morning?’


‘After that, if it’s quiet, I thought I’d give the bluebell garden a bit of a tidy. It’s not messy as such but…’ Ed pulled a face.

‘It’s gone a bit straggly.’

‘The lack of bluebells doesn’t help either.’

‘Drawback of it being September.’ Maddie plucked a dead leaf off a nearby cyclamen. ‘I considered adding in a few shrubs, but somehow…’

‘You ran out of time?’

‘Don’t I always.’

‘There’s just so much to do.’ Ed grinned. ‘Maybe you should advertise for another member of staff? Sara’s proving a fabulous addition to The Potting Shed, but she only works part-time.’

‘In truth, I could do with that, and another full-time person.’ Maddie dropped the dead leaf into the nearest waste bin. ‘But we aren’t yet that comfortable budget wise.’

‘Sabi still insisting you pay one loan off at a time before you take on another big expense?’

‘Yes, and I’m grateful to her for it. It’s so much less fraught knowing my sister has a grip on the finances. Means I can get on with the gardening and people stuff, without waking up in the middle of the night stressing about bank managers and spreadsheets.’

‘Good job you have me working for free at the weekends then, isn’t it.’

Maddie slipped an arm around Ed’s waist. ‘You can just rest you know; you’ve had a hectic week lawyering. I love that you help here, but I don’t take it for granted. You might want to go walking on Exmoor, or simply put your feet up.’

‘Don’t be silly.’ Ed shook his head. ‘I love it. And it’s a welcome balm after a week in a cut-throat office.’

‘Cut-throat?’ Maddie saw the briefest flash of unease in Ed’s eyes. ‘You’ve never described your new job that way before.’

Ed brushed the comment aside. ‘Maybe cut-throat is a bit much, but the company I work for in Bristol is a very different type of legal business to Ronald’s laid-back old-fashioned solicitors’ office in Exeter. He was very much customer first.’

‘Thank goodness!’...

Thank you, Jenny. That has certainly whetted my appetite to learn more of the story.

Don't miss out on the third lovely book in the brand-new series by #1 Kindle bestselling author Jenny Kane.

Welcome back to The Potting Shed! As Maddie and Sabi re-open the doors of their family-run garden centre. Business is booming, and it's time to give back to the community that has kept The Potting Shed afloat, by opening the Forget-Me-Not dementia café.

But, as the doors to the café open, Sabi is offered the chance of a lifetime, that could take her away from The Potting Shed for weeks, café manager Jo's frail, elderly mother is taken ill, and Maddie's partner, Ed, takes a job in a faraway city just when Maddie needs him more than ever. A new member of staff is desperately required – who will join Sara, Jo and Ivan as the busy autumn season fast approaches? 

If you would like to read Misty Mornings at The Potting Shed, it is available from all good retailers, including:

Amazon UK, Amazon US, Kobo, Nook and Waterstones as an eBook or paperback.

You can also preorder the story in audio format: Amazon UK, Amazon US.



From the comfort of her cafe corner in Mid Devon, award-winning author, Jenny Kane, wrote the contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels, Misty Mornings at The Potting Shed, (Aria, 2023), Bluebell Season at The Potting Shed, (Aria 2023,), Frost Falls at The Potting Shed, (Aria, 2022), Winter Fires at Mill Grange, (Aria, 2021), Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, (Aria 2021), Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange, (Aria, 2020), Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange (Aria, 2020), A Cornish Escape (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020),  A Cornish Wedding (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020), Romancing Robin Hood (2nd edition, Littwitz Press, 2018),  Another Glass of Champagne (HeadlineAccent, 2016), and Another Cup of Coffee (HeadlineAccent, 2013).

Jenny has also written 3 novella-length sequels to her Another Cup of.....books:  Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle (Accent, 2016).

Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015).

Under the pen name, Jennifer Ash, Jenny has also written The Folville Chronicles (The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw, Edward’s Outlaw, Outlaw Justice - published by Littwitz Press, 2016-2020), The Power of Three (Spiteful Puppet, 2020) and The Meeting Place (Spiteful Puppet, 2019). She has also created several audio scripts for ITV’s popular 1980’s television show, Robin of Sherwood. (2017 – ongoing)

Jenny Kane is the writer-in-residence for Tiverton Costa in Devon. She co-runs the creative writing business, Imagine. Jenny teaches a wide range of creative writing workshops including her popular ‘Novel in a Year’ course. (

All of Jennifer Ash’s and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at




Jennifer Ash

Jenny Kane


As Kay Jaybee (erotica- over 18’s only) you can find her at

Thank you for reading. Misty Mornings at the Potting Shed is part of a series. What is it that makes writing and reading a series so popular? I'd love it if you could leave a comment. Thanks.

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Monday 9 October 2023

Guest Post with Georgia Hill 

This week I am very pleased to welcome author, Georgia Hill, to the blog. Her latest novel, New Beginnings at Christmas Tree Cottage, was published on September 19th by Bloodhound Books.

Georgia, welcome. I know that like me, setting plays an important part when writing so I'm looking forward to hearing about where your novels are set. Over to you!

Huge thanks for inviting me onto your blog, Jan. I started out with good intentions but got a bit side-tracked. As you will see if you read on …

I’m a small-town girl. I grew up in the small market town of Stourbridge, once in Worcestershire, now in the West Midlands. I loved that it had a border of countryside around it delineating it from elsewhere. It gave the place a definite identity, I suppose. 

(As I’ve been writing this on a Sunday afternoon with Radio 2 playing in the background, someone raised in Stourbridge and of my generation has just written into Johnny Walker’s Jukebox Slot. The woman was my age, had my voice and requested one of my all-time favourite songs – Home Thoughts From Abroad by Worcestershire singer-songwriter, Clifford T Ward. We definitely shared memories! Owen Owen, the department store, and occasional sightings of rock legend, Robert Plant who went to school in the town. I’ll never forget spotting him, returning as the conquering hero in the 70s, emerging from a pink Cadillac and flinging his long hair back!)

This triggered other memories. My little hometown once proudly boasted a weekly market, three cinemas, Mark and Moody where I spent my pocket money on vinyl, a vibrant high street and lots of excellent pubs. I haven’t been back for ages but suspect things are a little different nowadays! For ten headily exciting years I lived in London. I’ve also lived in Malvern Wells a historic Victorian water cure town and in several tiny villages. Now, once again, I live in a small town. This one, though, has a sea front as its southernmost border. I love books set in small communities, I love to read them and I love to write them. Moving from the city to the country or a tightly-knit community is a recurring theme in my books. Can’t imagine why!

Back in the day, one lesson I taught was about how settlements grow over time. Using squared paper, the children drew in the natural geographical features, a river or hill say, and then added plastic counting cubes (if you’re a teacher or parent you’ll know exactly what I mean). We began with red cubes for a Roman town putting in the bathhouse and barracks, yellow for medieval adding a market hall, blue for Victorian with factories and mills, terraced houses and railways, orange for modern day development with its out-of-town shopping malls and housing estates. You get the picture. I loved building up the imaginary communities. Yes, it was simplistic, but it gave us all a clear idea of how towns have a chronology and, if you look closely, you can still see it. Always a good tip; look up above the modern-day shop fronts!

Of course, once you’ve created your settlement, you then have to name it. I love maps and regional variations of names fascinate me. Dorset is a county rich in fantastic place names. It’s been invaded by most and the place names reflect its rich history. Who could resist Corfe Mullen, Sturminster Marshall or Winterborne Zelston? It’s also a county which loves its double-barrelled place names!

Berecombe, where I’ve based ten novels, is an entirely fictional Devon seaside town and is based on Lyme Regis. Which is in Dorset. But only just! The name came to me after a little research. Combe always says Devon to me (it means a hollow in the hills) there’s the village of Beer, and also a hamlet called Beercrocombe in Somerset. To me, Berecombe sounds absolutely as if it’s a real place in Devon. Readers have often asked me where it is. For a writer a seaside town has a wealth of plot opportunities. They have a high transitory population, often a small closely knitted ‘born and bred’ community and lots of scope for newcomers moving in to stir things ups a bit.

When I had to invent a whole new town for a new series of books, I decided to look further east for inspiration and set the books in west Dorset. Originally the setting was to be a small market town in mid Dorset but when the hero’s story emerged, I realised I needed, once again, to set it by the seaside. Jago, my lovely grief-stricken hero, yearns to volunteer for the RNLI but the aftermath of a family tragedy is holding him back. He’s also an artist who’s lost his mojo. The glossy sands and wide seascapes of Lullbury Bay set it alight again.

Lullbury Bay has a strong resemblance to Lyme but has bits of Beaminster, West Bay and arty Bridport mixed in. It’s bigger than Berecombe which gives me more scope for plots, has a harbour, a vibrant high street with galleries and independent traders, a bookshop with a community café, a florist’s, a grammar school, a soon to be awarded Michelin starred restaurant, an ancient church, public gardens and a bowling green, an art college and an extremely steep hill nicknamed God-Almighty Hill as that’s all you can gasp out once you’ve reached the top. It’s even still has a post office and bank - well, I am writing fiction! There’s a ruined castle too. It features hardly at all in the first two books in the series but it’s there should I need it. It’s just the sort of small town I’d love to live in. And, by writing my books, I sort of do!

I love creating my imaginary worlds. I don’t think I’ve ever really outgrown that geography lesson with the squared paper and counting cubes …

If you’re intrigued by Lullbury Bay and want to spend some time there, New Beginnings at Christmas Tree Cottage was published this September, with the second in the series coming out next February.

Here’s a little about it:

A contemporary Christmassy romance, full of cheesy Christmas music and mince pies, it features my favourite hero!

The little town of Lullbury Bay goes all out for Christmas and teacher Honor Martin loves it. After a bad break up she’s settled into the simple pleasures of seaside life and Christmas is the high point of her year. Glass artist Jago Pengethley, however, doesn’t share her enthusiasm. A new arrival in town, he’s here with his mother and sister to start anew after a devastating family tragedy. He doesn’t want to celebrate Christmas ever again. But, to help his sister replace bad memories with good ones, he accompanies her to all the various wild and wacky festivities Lullbury Bay offers. They keep bumping into Honor and, as Jago gets to know her better, might she be the one to teach him how to love Christmas again?

Thank you, Georgia. I love how you've created your fictional town based on real places and especially how you researched a suitable place name.

About the writer:

Georgia Hill writes warm-hearted and uplifting contemporary and dual narrative romances about love, the power and joy in being an eccentric oldie and finding yourself and your community. There's always a dog. It's usually a naughty spaniel of which, unfortunately, she has had much experience. She lives near the sea with her beloved dogs and her husband (also beloved) and loves the books of Jane Austen, collecting elephants and Strictly Come Dancing. She's also a complete museum geek and finds inspiration for her books in the folklore and history of the many places in which she's lived. She's worked in theatre, for a charity and as a teacher and educational consultant before finally acknowledging that making things up was what she really wanted to do, She's been happily creating heroines, intriguing men and page-turning stories ever since.

You can find more about Georgia here:

Twitter/X @georgiawrites





Buying links for New Beginnings at Christmas Tree Cottage:

Thank you for reading. As a writer, do you use real places as your setting or, like Georgia, do you have a fictional location based on real places? As a reader do you like to recognise places where the book is set? I'd love to read your comments. Thanks.

You may also follow me on:

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My latest novel is The Secret Sister

Monday 2 October 2023

 Guest Post with Anni Rose

Today I'm delighted to welcome author, Anni Rose, back to the blog. Recipe for Mr Banksy, Anni's fifth novel in her Recipe for Love series, was published on September 19th by Choc Lit Publishing, an imprint of JOFFE BOOKS and I've invited her to tell us more about the story behind her book. 

Over to you, Anni!

Thank you, Jan, for inviting me on to your blog today to talk about Recipe for Mr Banksy. I know that you’re a Welsh cake lady, but I’ve brought Toffee Crisps, they’re Robbie’s favourites, although I’m quite partial to them too. Toffee, marshmallow, and rice crispies - what’s not to like - my grandmother’s recipe. Robbie is an important part of Recipe for Mr Banksy, he was partly inspired by this image in Penge. He’s as fascinated by graffiti as I am, which is why this book has been so much fun for me to write.

So, Recipe for Mr Banksy is beauty therapist meets a graffiti artist, or in the words of my elevator pitch – beauty therapist with apostrophe issues meets disaffected doctor over a stolen can of paint. No, that wasn’t something the publishers used on the blurb! This book felt like a real labour of love. My tribute to graffiti artists all round the world and maybe one in particular! 

One of my favourite graffiti for ages had to be the PEAS on the M25 bridge near Uxbridge/Watford. I can’t remember not seeing PEAS on journeys round the M25, but then one December I was driving up to see some friends in Suffolk for the New Year and it had been amended to read, Give Peas a Chance, which made me smile all the way to Suffolk and every time I saw it afterwards.  

My favourite images are those with humour in them. 

Often, you have to keep your eyes open to spot some works, like this one, a miniature wheat paste, by Pablo Delgado, which when you realise the bricks in the wall behind it are probably what - two to three inches high at the most? You can see why his works are not always easy to spot. 

But if you have difficulty spotting them, then you’re probably going to miss the chewing gum artist completely. Someone who brings his art to discarded chewing gum, usually underfoot.

On the other scale, the lovely Dan Kitchener does very colourful, complete walls, his wetlook images are among my favourites. 

Thankfully, nowadays graffiti is becoming much more accepted with many towns having regular street art festivals, while other towns produce walking tours to celebrate their graffiti, which I think is fabulous.

And of course, there is Banksy. My sister and I spent my birthday weekend driving up and back to Glasgow recently to see his Cut and Run exhibition where he showed a lot of his old stencils. He said about the exhibition, ‘These are the stencils I use to paint graffiti. I’ve kept them hidden away for years mindful they could be used as evidence in a charge of criminal damage. However, that moment seems to have passed, so now I’m exhibiting them in a gallery as works of art. I’m not sure which is the greater crime.

We posed for a Polaroid photo while we were there next to the picture of the wall at the Bridge Street Primary School. It was well worth the journey; a fabulous exhibition and I hope he’ll go on producing work for years to come. 

Sorry, I’ve gone on a bit, haven’t I, but thank you for having me on your blog today, it’s been really fun.

Not at all, Anni. I'm sure readers will have been as interested as I have been to read about your fascination with graffiti. I shall be looking more closely now when I see examples of this art form on our streets. 


Daisy’s love life needs a makeover . . .

Beauty therapist Daisy is having one of those days.

She’s just ended things with her boyfriend. Coming home to a huge ‘Sold’ sign planted in their front lawn and hearing him planning to move them into a caravan is the last straw.

To top it off, her greedy landlord, who also happens to be her ex’s best friend, is threatening to ruin her business.

So it’s no surprise a spelling mistake in the butcher’s window is enough to push her over the edge. And fixing it with a can of spray paint from a passing graffiti artist only makes things worse.

The graffiti artist is actually trainee doctor Jackson. Street art helps him to relax when he’s not at his stressful job.

Jackson doesn’t know what to make of the impulsive Daisy, but he can’t get her out of his head.

As Daisy fights to save her business, fate seems to delight in throwing her and Jackson together.

And boy do they make a good team . . . But can a passionate beauty therapist and a sensible doctor really have a future?

 Anni Rose Biography

 Anni was born and raised in Berkshire, she emigrated to Wiltshire eight years ago, where she now lives with her husband, sister and two dogs.

As a child, she loved writing fiction, producing reams of stories, most thankfully lost over the years.

On leaving school, the need to earn a living sort of got in the way of any creative ambitions and she became an accountant where her only published work apart from regular financial reports was the employees’ handbook.

A local writing course and an encouraging group of writing friends re-ignited the fiction flame many years later and she went on to win or be shortlisted in a number of writing competitions and had short stories published in Writers Forum, My Weekly and Sophie King’s ‘How to Write your Life Story’.

These days she would describe her writing as contemporary romances with a healthy dollop of humour thrown in. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and was delighted to have been signed by Choc Lit. in 2020.

Away from writing, she can usually be found either walking the dogs, on horseback, behind a camera, or enjoying one of her husband’s curries or sister’s bakery treats.

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Thank you for reading. Have you spotted an example of street art that's made you stop and smile or think about the meaning behind it?

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For more about me, my latest novel, The Secret Sister, and my other books, please visit my AMAZON page. Thank you.