Friday, 6 July 2018

The Story Behind The 'Skint Old Northern Woman' Newsletter by Trisha Ashley

Many years ago I started up a newsletter called Skint Old Northern Woman (after the magazine Charlie and her sisters set up in Every Woman for Herself.) You can tell it was a long time ago, because I actually posted out a lot of them and the ones I did email I had to send in little batches or my server thought I was a spammer. This got a little time consuming when we reached the thousand mark... 


It was a way of saying thank you and keeping in touch with all the kind readers who supported me through the ups and downs of my career.

The newsletter group slowly grew and grew...but I never forgot the names of the early subscribers, many of whom I now know on here or twitter.

And some of them I also know via Amazon books - and that is the wonderful thing. Some of those early subscribers were already published authors, some were writing but not yet published, and others just readers, but dreaming....

Then, as the time of the ebook blossomed, I began to see more and more of their names as published authors and thought 'There you are - well done!'
Lately, my kind publisher has put out my newsletters for me, with my input - and now I'm over my op and getting my act together, I hope to contribute a whole lot more - and I'm still that same Skint Old Northern Woman inside - who else would I be?


Trisha Ashley

Trisha Ashley's Sunday Times bestselling novels have twice been shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance, and Every Woman for Herself was nominated by readers as one of the top three romantic novels of the last fifty years.

Trisha lives in North Wales. For more information about her please visit www.trishaashley.com, her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter.



Friday, 29 June 2018

The Inspiration of Readers by Juliet Greenwood

I’ve just come back from my second year at NorthwichLitfest, giving a talk about the role of women in the First World War at Sandiway Library, part of Cheshire West and Chester Libraries.
Juliet Greenwood (left) with 
Northwich LitFest Organiser,
Susi Osborne
(Photo copyright: Paula Jackson)
Despite the extreme heat, I’ve returned energised and enthused, all ready to knuckle down and get back to my next book, with a reminder of just how much I love going out and meeting readers. It’s so easy in my little office, tucked away on a Welsh mountainside, working to deadlines and the (sometimes) tortuous refining of a story into its final form, to get completely lost in my own world. You do need that to get a book done, but it’s easy to forget that readers have their input too.

I find coming face-to-face with readers is a great reminder that a book is always a two-way thing, with both the reader and the writer bringing their life-experience, passion and imagination to create the final form, with (hopefully) mutual respect. It’s the scary, but exciting, bit when the final version of the manuscript leaves the writer’s desk (or rather your email), and sails off into the ether, to take on a life of its own, out of your control. The final letting go. It’s also a reminder of why I fell in love with reading in the first place.

We That Are Left
Juliet Greenwood
My evening with the enthusiastic readers at Sandiway Library was no exception. At the end of my talk on my research into the many roles of women in WW1 for We That are Left, which ranged from nursing in French villages as bombs fell, to acting as spies, and leading men separated from their regiments over the Alps to safety, one of the questions was about the trenches. This was something I’d agonised over while writing the book, and it was a very clear decision not to go there. It was strange going back to those deliberations after several years, and trying to explain my reasons – and that they weren’t about me being a soppy female and not wanting to face anything nasty!

The thing is, the trenches are so horrific they overshadow everything else within a story. While, as a woman writing about war, I’d wanted to concentrate on women’s different roles in the conflict, which have been largely forgotten, but played such a part in changing both the way women were perceived, and also how they perceived themselves. At the same time, I also wanted to focus on the issue of male trauma and the long-term impact of (then completely unrecognised) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My wonderful audience got this immediately, and the subsequent discussion brought up so many stories of traumatised soldiers from both world wars, as well as more recent conflicts. It was a truly moving experience.

Thinking about it afterwards, I realised how much that discussion had helped dispel my own wobbles over the last few years about my decision to concentrate on that side of conflict, as well as the optimism and resilience of the human spirit under the most terrible of circumstances. When a book goes out into the world, and nothing can be changed, it’s so easy to have doubts, especially when coming at a subject from a slightly more unusual angle, which leaves you vulnerable to criticism.

So, thank you to my wonderful audience, who gave me so much during our evening together. I’ve been buzzing ever since, and I’m already looking forward to meeting up again next year. Of course, we did end up coming back to my passion for the Suffragists, and my ultimate heroine, Millicent Fawcett (I can’t wait to see her statue), but that’s another story…

Links:

Northwich LitFest


Juliet Greenwood 

Juliet Greenwood is a UK historical novelist published by Honno Press. Her books are set in Cornwall, London and Wales in Victorian and Edwardian times, and follow the lives of independently-minded women struggling to find freedom and self-fulfilment.

Her latest novel is The White Camellia, based in the Suffrage movement led by Millicent Fawcett. Juliet's two previous historical novels have reached #4 and #5 in the UK Amazon Kindle store. Eden’s Garden was a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’. We That are Left was completed with a Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary, and was Welsh Book of the Month for Waterstones Wales, The Welsh Books Council and the National Museum of Wales. It was also chosen by the ‘Country Wives’ website as one of their top ten ‘riveting reads’ of 2014, was one of the top ten reads of the year for the ‘Word by Word’ blog, and a Netmums 'Top Summer Read' for 2014.



We That Are Left
by Juliet Greenwood

Elin lives a luxurious but lonely life at Hiram Hall. Her husband Hugo loves her but he has never recovered from the Boer War. Now another war threatens to destroy everything she knows.


With Hugo at the front, and her cousin Alice and friend Mouse working for the war effort, Elin has to learn to run the estate in Cornwall, growing much needed food, sharing her mother's recipes and making new friends – and enemies. But when Mouse is in danger, Elin must face up to the horrors in France herself.

And when the Great War is finally over, Elin's battles prove to have only just begun.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Hebden Bridge: A Source of Inspiration by Sophie Claire


Hebden Bridge is a Yorkshire mill town which has been popular with artists, musicians and creatives since the 1970s.

Nestled amongst the hills, it’s a picturesque place, and it’s also where a group of us, Authors on the Edge, meet regularly to talk books and writing.



L to R: Helen Pollard, Sophie Claire, Kate Field, Marie Laval, Helena Fairfax, Mary Jayne Baker, Melinda Hammond, Jacqui Cooper & Angela Wren
Hebden Bridge is packed with inspiration, from the historic mills, some of which have been converted into artists’ studios, to the volatile River Calder (which sometimes floods with serious consequences for the town centre) and the beautiful hills which encircle the town. You won’t find any American coffee or fast food chains here. Instead, Hebden Bridge is overflowing with independent shops and cafés, and this is what gives the place its unique character. 

So when we decided to write an anthology it made perfect sense to set it in the fictional equivalent, Haven Bridge, with an imaginary shop at the heart of all our stories: Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings is a collection of 9 feel-good short stories, all connected by the mysterious Miss Moonshine and her uncanny gift for knowing exactly what each visitor to her shop needs. 


To give you a flavour of the town’s varied and unique shops, I thought I'd share with you a few of my favourite places in Hebden Bridge:
Heart Gallery


Heart Gallery

With its rose-covered archway and glossy black doors, the exterior of this building provided the inspiration for Miss Moonshine’s emporium. 

In reality, it’s a gallery selling jewellery and art. The beautiful stock changes regularly, and it's a place I love to linger. Prices range from very affordable to the more aspirational.






Spirals

Spirals

Another favourite of mine, this shop provided inspiration for the interior of Miss Moonshine’s. It sells a huge range of quality items: clothes, crockery, jewellery, bags, home decorations, greetings cards...to name but a few. The sheer variety inspired Miss Moonshine's eclectic range of goods to sell. 

Spirals interior





If you visit Spirals, you’ll recognise the stone steps and the fireplace upstairs. I love to shop here and always find unique gifts. I usually come away with something for myself, too. In fact, I've bought several pairs of earrings here and this was what inspired me to write about a jewellery designer in my short story, The Angel Stone. There's something very personal about jewellery and I always wonder about the person who crafted it. Who are they, what's their story, and how much work and thought went into making each piece?





Yorkshire Soap Company


Yorkshire Soap Company


Who couldn’t love a shop which, rain or shine, pumps bubbles into the street? It lends the town a quite surreal air, especially in the snow, or in the sunshine when the bubbles catch the light...


And look at the display inside – a visual feast of scented soaps shaped like candles, cupcakes or glittery bath bombs. Also a great shop for gift-buying, I defy you not to find a soap you have to take home with you.





Valentine's Café

Valentine's Café

Meetings to discuss writing require fuel, and cake is the food of choice for most writers. At Valentine’s the cakes are homemade and delicious – I can recommend them.















Hebden Bridge Mill

If you want to find the closest thing to Miss Moonshine’s Wonderful Emporium, pay a visit to this place. Filled with stalls selling a variety of vintage treasures, you could lose hours in here. Every object tells a story, from an antique suitcase to a handcrafted Steampunk top hat!













One Step Beyond


This vintage dress shop is small but perfectly formed. The owner adapts the clothes herself, and she has excellent taste. You'll find a variety of designer and high street labels, sometimes in their original condition, sometimes adapted to bring them up to date. I have yet to come away empty-handed.










The Quilt Cabin


The Quilt Cabin


Another small treasure of a shop, I can’t help but indulge my love of patchwork and quilting by visiting. How can such a small shop contain so many inspiring display quilts and fabrics?


Last time I stopped by I found these beautiful Provençal fabrics.

Provençal fabrics

The Canal

The walk from the station down to the town centre takes you along the tow path with the park on one side and the canal on the other. I wasn’t the only writer to be inspired by this and to feature a canal boat in my story. There’s a feeling of serene calm here, and when the sun is shining it’s even more special.


Which special places have inspired your writing? I’d love to hear from you…

Sophie.x


Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings is available as e-book and paperback from:
Amazon UK
Amazon USA