Plenty To Write About

After many hospital appointments during 2019, I hope I’m finally back on track. Blogging has never come easy for me, but here I am, one year on and doing well.

Firstly, I must bring you up to date with the changes.  I have been writing my new novel, ‘The Trail to Freedom’.  This is a wartime historical novel based in Yorkshire, Scotland and Italy.  I recently finished writing it, and I’m now seeking an agent or publisher.

My father was a prisoner of war and for many years, I have kept a box of wartime letters which he sent to his mother, while a soldier in The Green Howards.  Harry Twidle was posted to Dunkirk and then captured in North Africa. His mother kept all his letters and when he died in 1995 I was given those letters, but foolishly didn’t realise the historical importance of the information therein.

I moved house from Holland where my husband worked until 2015 and found the letters after I had settled into the house in Devon.  It dawned on me how historical war novels have gained popularity, and perhaps I should actually read the letters.  I felt very moved when I came across the words ‘Sorry I haven’t written to you for such a long time, but I have been wandering the countryside, trying to get home.’   Over the coming months I became very attached to his words and knew that his story, despite it also being similar for many sons and daughters, it was not well-known and perhaps needed reviving.

Sulmona is an historic town in Italy. Campo 78 served as a POW camp in both world wars.  During World War II, it was home to as many as 3,000 British and Commonwealth officers and other ranks captured in North Africa.

While all this was taking place, back home the ATS girls were helping to keep the country together. In the book,  my character, Ellie, is sent to Scotland to work on a secret mission.  The love of her life is her friend Harold and when they are parted for six years, so much has changed and it seems evident that they will never see each other again.

I shall be forever grateful to my grandmother who couldn’t bear to throw the letters away, and who could blame her?  She collected about fifty of them.  Most are personal but there was a lot of clues within as to how my father was feeling at that time.

I feel that Harry Twidle has written this book with me.  His thoughts and feelings are reflected within the battles fields of Dunkirk, North Africa, and later on within the prison camps in Italy and Germany.  This was a book that had to be written, he inspired me to the point where there would be no excuses for me not to do it. This is a work of fiction inspired by those letters.

I was due to visit the prisoner of war camp in Sulmona (Campo 78)  I had my flight booked and a lovely self-catering house in Bugnara. However, it was not to be and I hope to go there in 2021. In the meantime, I am now writing a sequel to ‘Love Letters from Sulmona’.  I will keep you updated in the coming months about the journey to get this book published.  I already have two published novels ‘Goodbye Henrietta Street’ and The ‘Tanglewood Affair.’  The first one is a love story from The Isles of Scilly in Cornwall and the second is a rather ‘tongue-in-cheek’ cult saga.  I do hope you will follow my journey with all my books and I promise to keep on writing for many years to come.

Lastly, I want to thank all my friends at the Romantic Novelists’ Association, especially those members of the Exeter Chapter for all your wonderful support.  We meet every second Wednesday in the month at the Farmers’ Union pub for lunch and committee meeting afterwards. UPDATE we are now meeting on line with Zoom every second Wednesday in the month

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After a long break/UPDATE Nov. 2018

After a long wait with the NHS, I finally had a new hip and four weeks on, doing well. It takes a lot of effort to get out of bed in the mornings but each day is a bonus after three years of being in pain.
My new book, The Tanglewood Affair was finally published but unfortunately,  my operation was two weeks earlier than planned and the rush to get the book ready for publication was not well timed.
I do hope you will support me in the coming months with the new novel, although it could be after the new year before I can start the marketing process despite being a little late. Thanks to all for helping me get through all this.

TTA front cover lower res.
It’s been a while since I used my blog page, but I am sure you will forgive me when I tell you why.

In 2015 I moved back to the UK from Holland. It took me quite a while, after spending 15 years in The Netherlands, to learn how to be British again.  My husband was unable to follow me to the new house as he wasn’t due to retire until Christmas of that year.  When we finally became a family again, we had a host of renovations to undertake. It was worth it, but my writing time was taken up with building work and gardening.  After about 18 months I discovered I had osteoarthritis and in 2017 I attended many hospital appointments with very painful limbs.

Writing a novel in between so much activity presented me with a few dilemmas.  However, I was able to carry on regardless, although more slowly than I was used to, and with the help of Silverwood Books, I pushed the novel into the next stage.  My colleagues at the Exeter Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association supported me with feedback and without their support and motivation I don’t think I would have got this far.

Finally, The Tanglewood Affair has a cover and will be available on Amazon in September 2018. This is an unusual novel set in 1976 around the time of the famous drought and  a long hot summer. Slight deja vu?

Lord Augustus Hannings has disappeared, following the
drowning of his wife in the lake at Tanglewood Farm.
Ten years on in 1976, a young woman, Jess Stamp, rents
a room at the farm, living alongside the other residents, who are
known as ‘The Household Cavalry.’ Jess is drawn into an
unlikely alliance with the herdsman, and together they set
out to solve the mystery of her landlady Connie’s clandestine
lifestyle and the disappearance of her wealthy cousin, Lord
Caught up in a world of intrigue and secrets, cults and
romance, can Jess survive at the farm amidst all the uncertainties
surrounding her?

I hope you will enjoy reading this book.  Keep an eye on Amazon and don’t forget to read my first novel Goodbye Henrietta Street whilst you are waiting.



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Victoria Cornwall – A story of success.


I have just finished reading The Thief’s Daughter by Victoria Cornwall.  In between writing my own book and editing out all the words which were not relevant, I managed to squeeze some reading time in between. I found Victoria’s book about the Cornish smugglers to be a fascinating read, which led me to wonder how much research the author had to do to produce this novel.


Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, while the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers, but young Jenna Cartwright has seen it all before and knows the dangers of the trade, her parents were thieves.  She is faced with the same poverty but knows her boundaries. When her ruthless husband is about to be hanged, Jenna takes an extraordinary stance to fulfil a promise not to allow him a lingering death on the gallows. Will her covert identity be found out? We have some very interesting characters as Jenna follows her new life after the death of her husband.

As the story unfolded, I couldn’t help but feel the ‘Poldark’ era, and so I had to find out more. Today I am delighted to introduce you to my guest, Victoria Cornwall. Welcome to my blog.

 You certainly kept me reading this book, and as I read on, I realised how well- written it was.  How long did it take to write The Thief’s Daughter?

Thank you for having me on your website today, Lin. I began writing The Thief’s Daughter in September and finished it in the following March, so it took about seven months to complete the first draft. Several months of editing followed before I felt happy to submit it to a publisher.

I realised how much research you had to do to make this book into something special. Can you tell us more about your research and any difficulties you may have encountered during the writing stage?

 I enjoy learning about the past so the research phase of writing a book is not a chore for me. I spent the prior summer reading about the Cornish 18th-century smuggling trade. I also visited several museums in Cornwall which featured this part of the county’s murky past. Those visits were particularly helpful and provided the little details that you don’t always find out about in books, such as a smuggler’s lantern that has three sides blacked out or the farm implements which were used as weapons.

Are the 1700’s a favourite era or are you a future ‘all rounder’. Do you see yourself writing contemporary romance or will you continue to write historically?

 I usually write Victorian romance, so the 18th century was a departure for me, however, I am a Poldark fan, have been since I was a child, so writing about the same era was probably inevitable for me. It was the first book I had accepted by a publisher and they will be publishing my Victorian novels in the near future, so it’s an exciting time for me at the moment. I think I would enjoy writing a contemporary romantic comedy or a thriller, but for now, I am very happy writing in my favourite genre, historical romance.

 What do you find intriguing about historical romance? What attracts you to that era?

It is my preferred reading genre, probably due to the fact that my mother loved it and used to pass her books down to me when she had finished reading them. I think I like it because you are escaping the present. Their clothes, environment and problems may be very different; but their emotions, self-doubt and character development are very recognisable and easy to empathise with. The stories are different to the life we live in now, yet not so very different that we do not recognise it.

 Can you tell us about choosing names for your characters and how you do this?

 Names of characters are so important. I think we have all read books where the hero or heroine’s name is not right and sticks out like a sore thumb. I chose Jenna because it is the Cornish version of Jennifer. As it is based in Cornwall, it seemed appropriate to have a Cornish name. The name also sounds gentle and kind, which is what Jenna is. She is a great heroine and I am very proud to have created her. I chose Jack for the hero because it is ordinary and direct – with no frills, just like the hero. Yet, there is a soft side to the hero, just like the letter J sounds soft when spoken. I think it suits him very well.

How do you plan your novels? 

 Often, I am inspired by a location, then spend quite a while in a daydream thinking up the basic story. The next step is writing down the time-plan and the basic bones of the story. I also make notes on each character, which include their looks, their motives, the payback they will get if they succeed, the cost if they fail etc. Then I elaborate the story, add sub-characters and plot the storyline. When I have a rough idea of the beginning, the middle and the end, including any twists, I finally sit down and start to write.

 During the writing of this novel, did you become emotionally involved with the characters?  I know many writers that do.  Were you in the story, fighting on the beaches with the smugglers?

 I think you have to imagine yourself as the character if you are going to portray them accurately, particularly if you are writing from their point of view. I could identify with Jenna in some incidences, but I also identified with Jack and Silas too.

Do you have another book in progress and what have you learned from writing The Thief’s Daughter?

 I have three more books that will be published over the coming months and years, all of which are historical fiction set in Cornwall. The Thief’s Daughter was a story that demanded to be told, however, it needed to be coaxed into the world and did not flow easily. Writing it has taught me to not give up on writing a book if the going gets tough, because sometimes the completed novel is worth the labour of love that went into it.

 As you have a book published, what advice would you give to new writers wishing to write historical romance?

Learn about your market as writing for the American market is very different to the UK market. Also, different imprints expect different things so choose which fits best for the sort of historical romance you want to write. Choose what is best for you, as once you are published, you might just be writing the same type of historical romance for a while.

 When can we expect to see your next book published?

 I am currently waiting for the edits for my next book to come through, so I assume it will be published later this year. However, I can confirm that The Thief’s Daughter will be released as a paperback on 3rd October and is available to pre-order now.

 Thanks for visiting my blog and good luck with your future novels. 

 I have enjoyed answering your questions and thank you, Lin, for having me on here.

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Today I have Faye Wylie, aged 27 years, as my guest.  I met her around 2009 with her mum at The York Festival of Writing and we chatted.  Faye was in a wheelchair and to me, it seemed she was too young to be in that situation in her late-teens. I didn’t really question why, but it was obvious that Faye was dealing with serious health issues. She is a good writer and I immediately liked her. We have been Facebook friends ever since. Faye has always enjoyed writing and poetry, but unfortunately, things have changed for her over the last few years and I think it best we allow her to tell her own story. I am sure you will find it both inspiring and heartwarming.

I learned that Faye has Mitochondrial Disease. When a person has this awful illness, it means that the mitochondria in the cells are not producing enough energy. Sometimes they are not very efficient or they do not work at all.

There is a huge variety in the symptoms and severity of Mitochondrial Disease. It depends on how many cells are affected and where they are in the body.

Every person with Mitochondrial Disease is affected differently. For Faye, Mitochondrial Disease came into effect in adolescence, but it is much more common for it to present in children. Each individual will have a different combination of mitochondria that are working and not working within each cell.

However, there are times when particular body systems are affected in a recognisable pattern and these have particular names, for example, Alpers, Leigh’s disease, MELAS and MERRF.

The commonest parts of the body affected are those that have the highest energy demands; brain, muscle, liver, heart and kidney- when these systems are affected Mitochondrial Disease is usually progressive.

Available Treatments

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Mitochondrial Disease at present.

WHEN I discovered all this information, I realised that Faye was going to need all the support she could get, not only from friends and family but around the world. She informs me that people generally do not understand this debilitating disease. Faye is the founder of Leigh Network, a charity to help, educate, and support families with Mitochondrial Disease. She named this charity after the type of Mitochondrial Disease she has: Leigh’s Disease.

One of the saddest things is that this disease has caused Faye and her family a lot of loss. Leigh’s Disease caused Faye to lose her sight in 2013. Sight loss is just one of the things that effect people with this awful illness. Faye is now classed as being severely-sighted and her life is not what she expected it to be like when she was first diagnosed at twelve years old. Below, Faye tells her story.

Welcome Faye,

  1. At what age did you realise you were ill and unable to fully engage in everyday life?

The symptoms began when I was around seven or eight. I was walking to school with my mum, when I had to stop to rest. The muscles in my legs seemed to need a little recuperation time to revive themselves. They felt like they were fizzing and this was probably the first time I noticed I got tired. But I just felt normal in myself and carried on to school. Episodes like this became more frequent to the point where when I was twelve I had a muscle biopsy, lumbar puncture, MRI scan, CT scan, kidney scan, blood tests, eye tests and ultrasounds. I walked into the hospital and, because of the strain of the testing process, left the building using a wheelchair. I thought I would get better (any child who goes to into hospital would), but I am still a wheelchair user today. I never really perceived myself as being ‘ill’, I just took life for what it was, but I think I had always had optimism that things would improve for me. Unfortunately, my health has deteriorated further over the years.

I try to engage as fully as possible in everyday life: I study college courses, visit friends and family, go shopping and to the cinema and I still enjoy my poetry evenings and writing classes. I can go to the local shop independently and enjoy this freedom immensely. If travelling further afield, I need someone to help me and I feel very fortunate that I have such a supportive family.

  1. I know you lost your young brother to the same disease. When did this happen and can you share with us about him, how old you were at the time and how it has affected you and your family?

Sam died aged 19 months in 1993 when I was three years old. For the first year of his life he seemed perfect but when he was twelve months old his eye began squinting. My parents took him to the hospital where they reported that he had a neurological problem. They told my parents that their baby boy would not see his second birthday. At this stage, they hadn’t diagnosed Sam with a Mitochondrial illness, as the science behind Mito research was in its infancy.

He had big brown eyes and light brown hair, like Dad’s. We always wonder what Sam would be like now. He would have turned twenty-five last New Years Eve. Any family that loses a child would understand the impact a loss like this has on the family. My parents have been amazingly strong, especially as they have had to deal with my diagnosis too. Grieving for Sam had been even more difficult for them as they hadn’t known what caused his death or if it was genetic because at the time Mitochondrial Disease was relatively unknown.


  1. When I first met you, you seemed to be enjoying yourself despite the challenges you face. What has changed since that time?

I have always felt I had more ability than disability. For example, just because I use a chair doesn’t mean that I can’t take steps. I dislike the term ‘disabled’, preferring to refer to myself as ‘differently-abled’. I strive to be as independent as possible. I do become exhausted very easily, often after just a few steps, so my chair is brilliant for when I do need to rest. Admittedly, I can’t go very far without my chair but I will keep my independence for as long as I can. I am generally happiest when I am doing things that I’ve always loved doing, so when we met at the writing festival, I was in my element.

  1. You were learning to drive and were close to passing your test, so when you woke up one day to find that your eyesight had changed, I bet you felt very disheartened. Tell us what happened and what this meant for your future.

I loved learning to drive and the freedom it promised to bring. I was very good at it too. I was about to have the car adapted but something told me not to.

On my twenty-third birthday, I had a very serious chest infection and my body needed the mitochondrial energy.  I did have to fight this off. The doctor said that as a result, my eyes suffered. Any kind of infection could be fatal to me now as my body needs to use the remaining mitochondrial resources I have to fight it and these can’t be replenished.

The sight loss happened gradually. Three years ago, after I went for an eye test in February. I had to get new glasses. In April I noticed my sight wasn’t right and I thought it was the prescription so I went back for another test and was rushed to A&E where they ordered many tests (including another round of lumber-punctures, MRI’s etc). Eventually, in the July of that year, they found the optic nerve had swollen, then reduced and was permanently damaged. They couldn’t do anything to fix this. I was then registered ‘severely-sighted’ in November.

In the last year I have noticed that some mornings when I wake, my sight has 100% gone. This is obviously terrifying and although it never lasts long, I never know if it is going to come back. People often ask ‘what does a blind girl see’? This is impossible to answer as every visually impaired person can ‘see’ differently. For instance, I have a friend who is 100% blind and can’t distinguish between bright light or pitch-black darkness. For me, colours are faded and images appear immensely pixelated (blurs really). Sometimes images are impossible to distinguish and technology has recently been a great asset.

  1. Your work with your charity, Leigh Network, is proving to be a success and I know how important it is for you to keep going to create awareness for the charity. Do tell us what Leigh Network is all about and what others can do to help you in your quest.

After speaking to the doctor and learning more about the impact that Leigh’s Disease would have on my life, I then took a year to absorb it all and try and find ways to cope with what I had been told: that there is no cure, my health will only get worse, and it is genetic. I then studied counselling skills, mental health awareness, psychology and mentoring. Using all these combined skills I am now able to support families who may be facing a new mitochondrial diagnosis or dealing with any uncertainty around it. We also support those who have lost members of their families to mitochondrial diseases and we are there to support them throughout their journey.

I set up LN because being diagnosed with an unheard of, but not rare illness meant that I felt isolated and I didn’t have anywhere to go for information or support. In 2010 I had been going to The Brain Charity (previously named Neuro Support) as part of their young person’s group. I noticed they had the facility to room hire and I was inspired to organise the first ever meeting for those affected by Mitochondrial Disease. After sending off letters to every hospital and hospice in the country, we managed to get a specialist from both Manchester Children’s Hospital and Alder Hey Hospital to come and meet some of the families we had reached out to through Facebook and email. We had a fantastic meeting and since then we have had more across the country. Over the years, we have met many fantastic and inspiring people, from children to adults, all facing different struggles associated with mitochondrial disease. These people are my inspiration and why I do what I do. We carry out fundraising events to raise money for our meetings and for fun family days out for the children. I would like to register Leigh Network as a formal charity, but unfortunately, at this time, it would be too demanding for me to manage.

  1. What annoys you most about being wheelchair reliant? How do people treat you when you go into the town? Are there enough facilities for wheelchair users? I know you have some stories to tell, would you care to share them here?

I do struggle sometimes with people’s ignorance. For example, I went to the cinema with a friend, similar in age to me and on the way home bumped into an older lady that my mum used to work with (I didn’t know her). She was very sweet but said ‘Oh, you’ve got a carer with you’. It upsets me that people assume, however innocently, that anyone with me must be a carer, that I wouldn’t possibly have friends. Another time, my mum and I were going to London for a charity event and needed to call a few hotels first to make sure their access was adequate. When mum asked if they had wheelchair access, One said, “Yes we do! You’ll just have to go up two steps to get to your ground-floor room!”…that’s not wheelchair access. I get quite upset with public transport sometimes. I was particularly annoyed when I went to the library with a friend and at the bus stop on the way home a bus pulled in but went too far ahead so I had to turn my wheelchair to move towards it. Rather than wait 5 seconds, the driver seemed to decide he didn’t have time to deal with me, so he just pulled away. My friend and I were speechless. We had to wait a while for another bus. Sometimes people in the public can be gems but sometimes it’s as though they see the chair and cane but not the person. Modern areas are much better as planners have a legal obligation to consider different-abled facilities. However, older places can be a real struggle.

  1. Is there a routine to your life on a day to day basis and what is most important to you each day?

Because of my charity work, I have to plan ahead. For example, if I have a busy day, I have to rest the whole day before and a few days after. Luckily my memory is quite good so I can memorise things like bus times and routes. I taught myself how to get to the Brain Charity building and the shared Henshaws and RNIB building in Liverpool, as I do a lot with these organisations. I like to be as independent as possible and can afford to be fairly flexible at the moment as long as I take my medication and get rest when I need it.

  1. How do you cope with losing your sight? Do you have the technology to help you read etc? How do you manage to write your messages on Facebook?

Luckily, I have an iPad and a smartphone which both have voiceover software which reads out what is on the screen. I write my posts on Facebook on an iPad by turning the voiceover off, then I guess where the touch-keys are and type and hope I have got the spelling right. I turn the voiceover back on to check the spelling and if it sounds ok I will post it, if not I delete it and try again. The voiceover reads out any received posts or messages. Unfortunately, I have not yet mastered how to use a computer, but I like how I can move the iPad closer to my eyes so this works for now. In the future, I hope to find a PC that meets my needs as I still enjoy writing and would love to edit my own book, which is a semi-autobiographical novel that I have written.

  1. Are you satisfied you receive good support from the medical profession?  If not what would you like to see improved for others in your situation and what research is being done for MD.

As I said earlier, Mito research is in its infancy. I’ve heard that MD research is currently where Alzheimer’s research was twenty years ago. Interestingly, MD research has suggested that Mitochondrial malfunction could be linked to more commonly known diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and some Autism-Spectrum Disorders. There is an awful lot of work to be done. At the moment in the UK, there are three main centres for research;, in Newcastle, Oxford and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. There is some hope for future generations since the development of Mitochondrial Donation IVF Technique ( ). My charity tries to raise awareness of these research centres. I think it would be a big help for hospitals to have a support facility in place for families diagnosed with MD. I particularly struggled with the lack of emotional support from the medical profession after my diagnosis. I have a good relationship now with some doctors involved with the research.

  1. What is your favourite book and are you getting help to access audio books?

That’s a very hard question to answer as I love so many books. As my sight has changed, the genre of the books I like has changed. When I could see I used to like light-hearted fiction, the kind that has a happy ending. As my sight has declined and as I’ve matured I tend to now enjoy darker, more mature-themed stories as I feel they are more reflective of real life which is not necessarily ‘perfect’ all the time. I love thrillers such as ‘The Girl on the Train’ and Edward Marston is my favourite writer at the moment as his books are fast-paced, funny and set in historical times. I find that darker themes tend to be written with more description. Luckily I live in an area where the libraries will try to order audio books if I request them.

  1. Do you have any plans for the near future and what would you like to see improve?

For the next year, I have set myself a few different goals and challenges; personal, professional and educational. I want to complete the new course I am on at college. I am arranging our next Leigh Network meeting in Glasgow in June and I want to dedicate more time to my social life. I will always continue to try to raise awareness of Leigh Network and MD and I live in hope that the general attitude of the public will alter greatly towards differently-abled people.

  1. Finally, what can we do to help you with Leigh Network? As this is a charity do you need more financial support? How can we donate?

Unfortunately, I am not in a position to take Leigh Network forward as a registered charity at this time, so, for now, we continue to be affiliated with The Lily Foundation and research bodies so any donations towards Mito research can be sent directly to The Lily Foundation. For Leigh Network, we continue to fundraise to run our meetings (and family days out). For example, at Christmas, I sell cards I make and we sell home-made goods at craft fairs. If anyone has any ideas for fundraising for LN, I would be delighted to hear them. If businesses which would appeal to families would like to offer a discounted day out for the families we support that would be great too. If people simply want to donate to Leigh Network to help us fund our days out, we have a GOFUNDME page ( and all donations are gratefully received.

Anyone can follow us on our facebook page:

Thanks for your interest and support.

Faye x

I know you enjoy writing poetry. If you wish you can share it here.           

The Canvas

A canvas so full of potential.

The crisp white rectangle,

So fresh like untouched snow.

The possibilities of how to fill it are endless.

As you tap the canvas,

the cotton twangs.

Which colour will you choose?

Lemon, crimson, navy?

You open the acrylic tube,

Hearing the satisfying pop and the familiar squelch.

As the paint comes out,

You evaluate how you feel,

What emotions are bubbling through your blood?

Is it a passionate pink or a fiery red?

Or maybe violet is powering strength into your veins.

As you blend the colours all together,

The brush gets faster as the vision becomes defined,

Becomes reality on the canvas.

Each time you stand back,

Appraise your creativity,

You notice the slight imperfections.

Where you could tweak.

You give a contented nod,

A sigh of contentment.

At last, it is done.

Thank you for providing us with an insight into your life. Good luck and keep strong, you are doing such a good job. 


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New Beginnings

Since I returned to England from the Netherlands, so much has changed for me. I had to learn how to be British again and start afresh. I took a break from writing and I am now pleased to say I am back on track with my latest novel.

In August 2016, I collaborated with award winning author, Sue Moorcroft, and she conducted a very informative writing weekend with ‘Fiction on the Taw.’ Her support was invaluable and we had many new writers who needed that push to improve their skills. Sue provided the motivation  and her teaching skills impressed me. I am sure we will be working together again in the future to organise another venue.

Now is the right time for me to help others succeed. This has been my forum for many years and  I want to take it further in the world of writing. I used to teach new driving instructors to pass their exams and had a very good record of success. A driving instructor has to undertake a proper teaching course with the Driving Standards Agency and the standards are very high indeed. Instructors have to prepare lessons as any school teacher would do and mentor individual students to make sure they succeed.  I had the pleasure of teaching for 25 years and wrote my own training course to enable my students to make the grade. I have also written newspaper and magazine articles on driving and other related subjects and had them published. In the 1980’s I undertook a creative writing course with the University of Leeds on Teesside.

When I moved to Holland (due to my husband’s job)  I had to start over and was not able to teach driving there, unless I took my exams again and I didn’t have a full grasp of the Dutch language. So I gave up and became a writer instead. The Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors had many courses to learn how improve my skills.  I later moved on to writing a novel which was published in 2013. Goodbye Henrietta Street is doing well in Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly and also on Amazon.  I now have another two novels waiting publication in the coming months. I have been writing since 1980 and now editing my second and third books.

What I want to do now is help the new writers gain confidence in their writing skills and use my teaching experience for mentoring and provide them with a critique service. I will not be editing their work, but will assist in helping the new writer to move forward. This is a pleasure for me and I already have a few people in the fold who are now writing due to my support. I feel new writers often need guidance to improve their work.  If I can set them on the right track and provide a report on their ideas and how to make their work more presentable, then I will have done a good job.  There is no such thing as a bad writer, it’s all down to obtaining the correct information and guidance.

What will I provide?

A service for new writers to gain a positive and helpful report on their work in progress. This will include the first three chapters of their novel and their proposed synopsis; I will even look at the basic idea and comment. I am prepared to offer a report on a full novel, but at this stage I recognise that new writers’ finances are usually limited.  So this is why I want to help with the first stage of the process, to encourage and show them how it can be done if they have the help and support of someone who understands their needs. Writing is a bit like learning to drive a car; you have to understand the controls before you can take it on the road. I want to give an honest, yet positive report on their work and assist them with their successes.

If you think this could be you, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can e-mail me  at for further information. Each writer’s requirements will be charged according to their needs, but we aren’t talking hundreds of pounds as you may imagine.  I charge by the hour and for the first three chapters and synopsis, I will  provide you with an estimate before I begin. We would then agree to continue the work. No work, no fee and everyone’s needs are different. All information and work in progress is confidential and I hope to build a rapport with each of my students.


I look forward to hearing from you.

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My Year in Progress with Jean Fullerton

jean1 web picture (3)Author, Jean Fullerton has to be one of my favourite authors. I first met her in 2011 when she offered to do a workshop for new writers in Yorkshire.  Nothing is too hard for Jean.  Her work in the nursing profession shows, not only through her writing, but in the support she provides to new writers and also new authors.  Where she finds the time to write and work alongside her ecclesiastical husband, as well as looking after her growing family, I shall never know.  The main thing is she always has a smile on her face and I really do admire her drive.

Jean’s books are very good.  If you follow the TV nursing  series of a similar style, you will love ‘Call Nurse Millie.’  I have yet to read her latest book of which the information is at the bottom of this page, but if you want to read something different in a romance novel, try going back to the 1950’s with Millie Sullivan, it was a lovely story I just couldn’t put down.  Here are the reviews:

‘A delightful, well researched story that depicts nursing and the living conditions in the East End at the end of the war’ (Lesley Pearce)

‘…The writing shines off the page and begs for a sequel’ (Historical Novel Society)

‘…you will ride emotional highs and lows with each new birth and death. Beautifully written with some sharp dialogue.’ (THE LADY)

I hope you will enjoy reading more about Jean and her year in progress.

 Fetch Nurse Connie - Cover 18th Feb th Jan 2015  doc (2)

 Thanks for asking me to be a guest on your blog, Lin, to talk about my writing year.

My writing year actually consists of two years running concurrently, one for the book I’m writing and the  second is the book being published that year. Readers like to follow character through a number of books and so series are very popular at the moment. As a writer I like them, too, as having built my post-war East London world with the St Georges and St Dunstan’s Nursing Association, I only have to pick up where I left off. However, alongside familiar and much loved characters like Millie Sullivan and Connie Byrne, I try to find new angles on stories and fresh characters for each new novel.

The East London world where I’ve set Millie and Connie’s stories, was a place with a bomb site on every corner and with a chronic housing shortage. Families of six or more children were commonplace and often had to share houses condition often with only cold running water and an outside lavatory.
War-time East London had a flourishing black market and with the close proximity of the docks this undercover economy was soon taken over by criminal gangs in peacetimes. As today, there was a diverse community made up of Chinese, Maltese, Greeks, Turkish, Poles, Irish and the native Cockneys.
In her limited spare time – one day per week – Connie and her fellow nurses would visit the cinema and lose themselves in the latest releases with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers or go dancing on Saturday nights in the various dance halls ‘Up West’.

Social attitudes were changing and the many men who returned expecting to find the little woman content to spend the day cleaning the house were disappointed. But running alongside these new ideas were the much more rooted ones such as helping your neighbours, bringing children up to respect their elders, ‘bringing trouble home’, looking after your parents, not owing anyone anything and not taking charity.

Becoming pregnant outside marriage was taboo. Young women were not allowed any sexual liberties before they were married or else be labelled a tart. Young men were expected to be wild and aggressive, sort out their problems man to man and stand their rounds but if they did get a girl in trouble they were expected do the right thing.
My writing year started for me at the beginning of September 2014. This is because I’ve usually just handed in the book due out the following year. I try to take a break in the summer although sometimes it’s to do another project like writing a novella or a short story. However the serious heads-down writing year starts in earnest in September.
I spend the first week plotting the various strands of the new book on a spread sheet and then I write the immortal words, ‘Chapter One’. As any writer will tell you, the opening pages of any novel are crucial for capturing the reader, so I take a lot of time over the first chapter to set the scene, as I’m aware that new readers will be coming fresh to my post war East London world.

By October I’m well into the book but it isn’t long before the edits for next year’s books arrives. I have to take my head out of the book I’m currently writing and get back into the one I finished a few months before. Thankfully these days the edits are small changes they only take a couple of weeks then I’m back to the new book and try to get as much done the copy edits arrive in December.

These are much quicker and I try to turn them around in a week and then back to the 2015 book to get another couple of chapters completed before Christmas. Somewhere along the way I’ve got the cover for the 2015 book through for approval, and so we get to Christmas. As I’m aiming to get the book to my publisher by the middle of July I try to be at least a 1/3 of the way through by the festive season . It doesn’t always happen as life sometimes intrudes.

As the 2015 book will go into production in April the page proofs arrive sometime in Feb. These are just the tiddly little comas and wrong word read and I’m lucky that my Hero-at-Home does these for me so I can plough on with the book I’m currently writing, which will be published in June 2016. That’s usually the end of my involvement with the current book until a month before it’s released when I have to spend time publicising it. So now, somewhere around March, I’m free to get on with the current book. I aim again to have the first draft of this complete before the new 2015 book comes out. I allow myself a week of publicity before going back to the first draft and editing it so I can get the book to my agent by the end of July before collapsing again.

Fetch Nurse Connie.
Connie Byrne, a nurse in London’s East End working alongside Millie Sullivan from Call Nurse Millie, is planning her wedding to Charlie Ross, set to take place as soon as he returns from the war. But when she meets him off the train at London Bridge, she finds that his homecoming isn’t going to go according to plan.
Connie’s busy professional life, and the larger-than-life patients in the district, offer a welcome distraction, but for how long?
Available from Orion Fiction on kindle, paperback and hardback on 4th June 2015

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Life after Bitter Disappointment – Goodbye Henrietta Street Is Back!

Goodbye Henrietta Street final front coverWhat do you do when your publisher writes to you one day, out of the blue, and informs you after less than a year of publishing my book, that they can no longer keep the business open? I had just got the sales rolling in 2013/14 and was beginning to feel, at last, I was an author after ten years of learning how to do the job. It was all going well. After several weeks of decision making and wondering where to go next I suddenly realised that to find another publisher was going to take a lot of hard work with very little reward. Thanks to a fellow author (we girls have to stick together) I got a tip-off to contact Silverwood Books.  I never wanted to self publish and hated the idea of getting tangled up with all that computer jargon to get myself on Amazon.  Yes, they say it’s relatively easy, but I wanted more than that, I still needed an editor. I’d read the book too many times to see my own mistakes. Due to legal restrictions in my first contract I was not allowed to used the edits from the previous publisher.  Okay, whose words are they in the book anyway? However, if the words in the book were identical edits to those done by them, then I would be in breach of contract.  So, rather than be beaten by the powers that be, I took it on myself to re-edit the whole book and get some help to check it out.  The result – an amazing improvement with a slightly new twist in the tale. After my first contact with Silverwood Books, I noticed the difference in attitudes and the helpful way in which the staff talked me through all their procedures.  I have to say they were marvellous.  It wasn’t like self publishing at all, it was more of what I should have had the first time around. It was wonderful working with a team again, I had been rescued! Yes, I had to pay for the work, but in this situation I had to keep my book up there and it had to be an improved version, so it has been worth it. Lin Treadgold Author's photo.  So, take a romantic trip to the Isles of Scilly with Pippa, Sven, Rob, Joan, and Terry. Where did it all go wrong?

After weeks of working with the team, I arrived at my final draft and all the loose ends were in place.  I was delighted with the new cover and very soon I shall have a better photo for you but in the meantime I just wanted to let you all know that Goodbye Henrietta Street is being released again on 16 March 2015. I will keep you  informed about the links to Amazon, but in the meantime I do hope you will support me by sharing my posts and retweeting on Twitter. Thanks to everyone who supported me, you have all been amazing. I got two book shop orders already!



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The Writer’s Year with Carol McGrath

Another episode in the year of an author.  Today I am pleased to introduce you to Carol McGrath. Carol’s year has been fantastic. The travel, the successes, and her trip to India.  This is a ‘must read’. Please give Carol a vote on this page.


C McGrath 004

Carol’s passion has always been reading and writing historical fiction. She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and family. She taught History in an Oxfordshire comprehensive until she took an MA in Creative Writing at The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast. This was quickly followed by an MPhil in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Her debut novel, The Handfasted Wife, first in a trilogy about the royal women of 1066 was shortlisted for the RoNAS, 2014 in the historical category. The Swan-Daughter is second in the trilogy. This novel was published exclusively for amazon kindle in July 2014 by Accent Press. It will be on general distribution in bookshops on 11th December 2014. It is a stand- alone novel as well as second in the Daughters of Hastings trilogy. She is writing the third and final novel of the Daughters of Hastings trilogy, The Betrothed Sister.


Here is the story of Carol’s year.

Writers are always busy. At least, this has been my discovery. Since The Handfasted Wife, the first book in a trilogy which tells the story of The Norman Conquest from the point of view of the royal women, was published by Accent Press in 2013, my life has not just been about writing historical novels. It has involved author social events and promotions, and, of course, I would not have it any other way.
I began writing The Swan-Daughter, the second book in the trilogy, Daughters of Hastings, in October 2012. By October 2013 I had completed the first draft. It takes me a year at least to write an historical novel. This is a conservative estimate because these books do require much research. The Swan-Daughter is about King Harold’s daughter Gunnhild. She eloped from Wilton Abbey with a Breton knight who fought at Hastings and was cousin to William the Conqueror. As these books are complex, much time has been spent in the Bodleian Library Oxford delving into what was written about events in Chronicle and the analysis of the period by latter-day Historians. Even after a first draft is completed I continue researching life during the eleventh century, looking for new snippets to integrate into the world created for the story. During October and November, I went through The Swan-Daughter, again and again, over and over, checking it for different things each time I revised the manuscript. This might be language or character or it might be information or something that is structurally not quite right. Moreover, I read everything aloud for flow and tone. I look at each word to decide if it is right. That was October and November of last year. At last, in December, I was ready and I sent the manuscript to my editor. I was in a queue as she is not only very good but very busy, and she is always worth the wait.


The Swan Daughter
I took a few weeks off writing during Christmas and New Year when my husband and I spent three weeks in India. India is a great place to gather material for stories and for articles. I have many articles about India on my blog. This was my fourth trip there. We travelled to Hyderabad, Goa and Mumbai with my writer’s notebook tucked into my hand luggage. In it, I wrote snippets of descriptions and character impressions that some time will make their way into stories, not necessarily about India. The highlight was staying in the Mumbai Taj where there had been a terrorist attack in 2008. This hotel was recently featured on a television documentary. Did you see it? I find travelling inspirational and will return to why later in this article. Meantime, I discovered that The Handfasted Wife, my debut novel, was shortlisted for the RoNAS in the Historical Category. Now, that really is exciting.
Until last January, I only had a blog which I called where for years I regularly posted short articles with an historical content. I still try to post at least one article a month. These, generally, are full of photographs and they take time to organise and write. I post travel articles here and very occasionally book reviews. However, now that a world of readers was discovering me, I discovered that I needed a web site. My son in law provided this for me during January and by February I was busy updating it. It is useful as I found out when I was shortlisted for this wonderful RNA competition. Readers can find out more about you. They can contact you. You can provide a short monthly events diary and information about your books. Simply, readers can discover the person behind the book. The web site really is useful.
My web site is really simple. As I write articles for Historical Fiction Writers as well as my own blog and also occasional reviews for a Review Blog found via Facebook, I can consolidate this and link them to a page that I have called My Blogs.
In February I began work on my third novel. I had been planning it since I completed work on The Swan-Daughter. In fact, I wrote the first sentence for The Betrothed-Sister in the middle of winter, and I am still working on a first draft ten months later. This work is a complex process of planning characters and narrative, though I have not stayed religiously to my outline. The story does take over. The characters possess me. It is painstaking work. Writing takes time. I cannot rush it. This group of novels have little paratexts, each one a nod to something literary from the eleventh century. I hunt them out. They occur to me as I write and often after I have finished the book’s first draft. For example, in The Swan-Daughter I paralleled Gunnhild’s love story with aspects of medieval romanz, particularly the medieval Tristram and Isolde. In The Handfasted Wife I used Anglo-Saxon poetry, riddles and little Chronicle extracts for many of the chapter headings. In The Betrothed Sister I am integrating Russian folk tales into the text. I have a delightful book of Russian proverbs and one or two may find their way into the story.
The Betrothed Sister is the story of King Harold’s elder daughter who married a prince of Kiev and who called their first child Harold-I wonder why. Princess Gytha, who in the novel is named Thea, is betrothed for much of the story, itching to meet her prince and anxious to escape four jealous Danish princesses. Thea remains an exile in the Danish king’s court until, at last, she is summoned to a very turbulent Russia. During February and March, I spent hours in The Department of Slavonic Studies, Oxford researching, reading The Russian Primary Chronicle and other sources.
At last in March, my edits came through from my editor. I stopped writing the new novel in order to address these. There are always three lots of edits that go to and fro until the novel is as good as we hope we can make it. They take time. We edited through April. The first lot are mostly structural edits whereas the second group of edits address characters, details and so on, narrative really. And, at last, that necessary copy edit. It is thorough.
The RoNAS in March were fabulous. The Handfasted Wife did not win but to be there and to be shortlisted was a thrilling experience. I think the publicity generated is fabulous and my interview on Radio Oxford was great fun. Most importantly, I felt my work was validated. I felt like one of the princesses whose stories I write. The crème de la crème was certainly the Awards Ceremony held in central London in the Overseas Club. It was a deliciously posh event. I got to wear that little black dress and my highest of heels! I walked on them as if on air. I felt I had arrived. I was an author.


I said that I would return to writing and travel. This deserves its own place as part of my writing year. We have a rented house in the Greek Peloponnese. It is in the area known as the Mani. This is a very old world, a little like Donegal in the west of Ireland, but with better weather. Everything is slower. It is a wonderful place to write. We set off in our old Volvo estate through Europe to Italy in late March stopping in Milan, en route, to this house. We have a solid surface company of which I am a director so we went to the Milan Design Fair on the way south. It is always a great event and we often stay in medieval Pavia. Out came the camera and the notebook. A writer never rests. There are too many new impressions to record in pictures and words.
We spent Easter in Greece. In fact I had many notebooks and texts with me so I was able to spend five months there this summer. This is a great chunk of my writing year. My husband was there some of the time and at other times various writing friends visited. In May, writers Jenny Barden and Charlotte Betts visited. In August, writers Liz Harris and Sarah Bower came out. Meantime, I set up a writers group in a mountain village called Neohori. There are artists and writers living there, escaping the world. It has been a great success. We are four core members and others who visit are invited to participate. The three writers living there permanently are very accomplished. One of them has taught in further education and has written plays for small theatres. And I should add that an inspiration is Patrick Leigh Fermor who lived close by since the nineteen fifties until his death a few years ago.
In July, I returned to England for a month. This was my ham and salmon month. I had been invited to two weddings and I gave a power point presentation on Medieval Women and Marriage at the RNA Conference at Telford. One of the best parts of this conference was the Blixt Hill Event. Historical writers organised and presented their period and their novels dressed in appropriate costume. I think Jenny Barden was a brilliant organiser. It was an inspiring and superb conference.
In August, I coordinated, from my Greek eyrie, the HNS Conference 14 short story competition. The fifty plus entries were of a high standard and the winning story called Salt which is about women who gutted herrings during the First World War in Grimsby, was fabulous. It was moving and beautifully written. I reviewed several novels for the Historical Novel’s Society glossy review magazine during my writing year!
One of the things I have enjoyed most since returning in October from Greece has been the theatre. Last week we went to the RCS productions of Love Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing. When you have been theatre deprived for months you doubly appreciate the RSC. It is also another aspect of my writing year because if you are ever looking for idea for plots and brilliant dialogue the theatre is a source of inspiration.
And now another October is indeed ending. And I should sign off before I ramble on and on. As I reflect on my writing year I think, yes, I did accomplish much. The Swan-Daughter was published on 24th July. It is an e publication until 11th December when it goes into general distribution and paperback. Last Friday, I received a lovely gift from Accent Press, a box of advance copies of The Swan-Daughter. What a perfect way to close this writing year. It looks fabulous. In fact, I think I must read it. No, best not, I say to myself. Carol, always remember, you are only ever as good as your last book. It is time to get back to The Betrothed Sister. Hopefully, readers are waiting for it and when the first draft is finished, this is when the hard work really does begin.
And may I say thank you to, Lin, for hosting me here. It is such a pleasure to visit.


My Links
Follow me on Twitter @carolmcgrath



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Joe Cheetah original 


I have known Joe Mynhardt for a number of years through a friendly internet site for writers. I remember when Joe’s wife asked me to arrange an internet party worldwide for his birthday through the circle.  It was an amazing event and so many people came on line to give their good wishes. Joe has determination. When he says he will do something he does it and throughout the years I have been nothing but impressed with the way he has moved from a hobby writer to owner of Crystal Lake Publishing in South Africa.  Joe specialises in publishing and writing horror and as my blog is usually dedicated to romance writers, I felt it was time for a shift in genre this month and provide Joe with a spot of his own right here. I hope you will enjoy this interview and leave some comments for Joe Mynhardt to pick up and read.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Let’s see, I was born in Walvisbay, Namibia, in 1980. I was pretty much an introverted loner, until I started taking Karate at age 9, which really boosted my self-confidence – thank goodness for that. We moved to South Africa in 1992 after Apartheid ended, and now I find myself living the grownup-life in Bloemfontein. I started teaching in 2005 and writing horror in November of 2008. A lot of doors opened up after that; I guess all the hard work and networking really paid off. I pretty much spend every second of each day writing, reading, editing, or thinking about writing and the genre. I do whatever can make me a better writer, editor and publisher. Yes, that includes acting like an idiot in front of my friends… sometimes – I call it research.

 What first attracted you to horror writing?

Growing up, I was lucky enough to have parents who allowed me to watch horror movies and read whatever comics I wanted. So I basically grew up watching movies like Nightmare on Elm street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Poltergeist, Child’s Play, and a bit of Alfred Hitchcock and Twilight Zone as well. What’s really strange is my own family now don’t understand why I want to write horror. Go figure. Anyway, since then I’ve been extremely interested in whatever classic horror movies or books I could get my hands on, including Stephen King, Ambrose Bierce, Algernon Blackwood, Lovecraft, Poe, Campbell, Howard and many, many more. I’ve got so many favourite authors right now, I couldn’t even begin to mention them

What made all these books, movies and comics so much more educational for me was the fact that I looked at these highly intriguing characters and wondered where they came from. Who invented them? Who drew them and gave them names? Essentially, who gave birth to them?

My ever-growing imagination was also complimented by my need to create. Where that need originated from I have no idea. Since age nine I always wanted to build or invent something. Why horror stories and books? Because horror gives the writer more creative space than any other genre. Anything can happen. And it’s that uncertainty, that fear of the unknown, which makes horror so damn great.

 Why do you love this genre?

Since a young boy I’ve always been interested in the supernatural. I loved scary movies. I didn’t care if there weren’t really any monsters creeping around in the dark. It was the possibility that excited me. You put two kids in a dark room with an open closet and each one will imagine their own unique monster.

I’d say the biggest turning point was when I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Final Escape episode. The twist in the tale story has been my favorite ever since. And let’s not forget The Monkey’s Paw.

As writers we quickly learn what grabs the attention of readers. Things like drama, action, conflict, strong characters, dire situations and an antagonist that wants the exact opposite of your hero. And if you look carefully at these aspects, you’ll see they all play a big role in all stories. Horror is in every genre: losing a loved one is a horrible event; standing on a stage in front of people; being laughed at; losing a fight; being dumped, getting married (just kidding).

Plain and simple, horror stories are exciting. You never know what to expect.

Crystal Lake Publishing has also just published Gary McMahon’s short story collection, Where You Live. McMahon has built up a solid reputation as one of the hottest horror authors around at the moment – how did you secure this coveted collection?

 I met Gary through a project we were both involved in at Dark Minds Press (Dark Minds anthology), and he was the first person I invited for Crystal Lake Publishing’s inaugural anthology, For the Night is Dark. He was also the first to accept. I’m a 100% certain that some of the other authors joined the project to share the TOC with him.

We stayed in contact after that, and I’m of course a big fan of his work. He’s already working on The Outsiders with a few other authors, including Simon Bestwick, which will be out in 2014. He also recently wrote an introduction to Fear the Reaper (the 2nd anthology) and I think he was quite impressed with the quality of the book. It was then that he contacted me about republishing a sold out, limited edition book he had published a few years back with Grey Friar Press, including a bunch of new stories, of course.

 How does the working day look like for Joe Mynhardt?

Okay. I get up at 6:24am, breakfast bell rings at 6:45. Because I live at the school where I work, I walk to school in under a minute – awesome. I get to school at 7 but only start teaching at 7:40. School comes out at 13:40, so I rush to get lunch, then greet my wife and dogs, as well as change clothes, before going to sport at 14:00 (what a rush). I coach soccer and cricket, depending on the season.

After hours of standing, marking, arguing and solving problems, I finally go home at around 15:30. Some days I come out a bit earlier. If it’s cricket season, a match can easily take you to 18:00.

I do my best to put on my publisher’s hat as fast as possible, so I can get some work done before my wife comes back from work at 17:00. Believe it or not, the hostel serves dinner at 5pm, as well.

Then, on two nights a week, I’ll sit in study hall for an hour, helping the kids with their homework. After that I get a bit more work done. I try to finish by 21:00 every evening, but it’s not always possible.

Then we either watch an episode of a series, or I read or listen to an audio book before going to be at 22:30.

All this happens on a good day. On a crap day I’ll have to drive around and do errands. I normally leave errands for Fridays, but things just don’t always go according to plan.

Fear the Reaper smaller version

For those who might not know, once a book is accepted by Crystal Lake, approximately how long does it take for it to be published?

 The big publishers can take up to three years, but they take on way too many titles, and have too many people working on one project, anyway.

There are a lot of factors that come into play. For example, some books require a rewrite in certain areas. Since the authors I use in anthologies are highly sought after, I give them 6 months to write their contributions; they have a lot of other deadlines to cope with. After that it takes about 2 months to edit the anthology, then I might need to send it to someone who’s writing an introduction. I also need a month or two to send out ARC’s for pre-launch reviews that I’ll use during the launch.

Somewhere in there the cover needs to be made, eBook and paperback formatting, scheduling a successful launch or blog tour and so on.

So I prefer about 9 months per project.

What we can expect from Crystal Lake Publishing in 2014?

 Except for a surprise novella (which will then be combined into a collection later the year), there are quite a few books already lined up:

William Meikle’s Samurai and Other Stories.

The Outsiders (a Lovecraftian, shared-world anthology).

A yet to be named non-fiction eBook that’ll guide horror writers in the right direction, written by a host of horror authors.

Tales From the Lake Vol.1.

Children of the Grave (a zombie, shared-world, choose your own adventure collection, where each author writes a different direction).

And if everything goes well and things aren’t too hectic, I’ll be able to finish my second collection by the end of 2014, but it’ll probably only be out early 2015.

The second Tales From the Lake horror writing competition.

But you never know what opportunities will come along. I always leave a bit of room in case something big comes knocking. You see, always be ready when opportunity comes knocking.

Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?

Definitely psychological chills. Without the psychological manipulation of a decent writer, the gore bits would mean absolutely nothing. No one would care about the character. With today’s special effects in movies, people have been a bit desensitised. That’s why some writers now feel they have to go overboard with gore scenes. Look back at the older movies, remember how they never actually showed the monster eat the victim. They just zoomed in on his approach and faded to black. Still scared the hell out of me and everyone who watched it. Why, because we cared about those people. The writer made us care. But, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than a perfectly timed bit of gore that makes you go, “Awesome!”

A great approach is to show the carnage the ‘monster’ or whoever has done, without actually showing him or it until the very end. That way you have the chills and the gore. There are great stories with only the psychological horror, but too many of them in a row tends to weaken a collection, in my opinion.

I tend to put a lot of gore into a story where the bad guy finally gets what he deserves. In the title story of my Lost in the Dark collection, I have a bad guy who gets the tendons behind his knees, ankles and arms severed (even his eyelids), then he gets tied to a tree and torn apart by wild animals. The timing was perfect, because by then the reader despises him for all the horrible things he had done, things much worse than what happened to him, and it made me go, “Awesome!”

for the night is dark final cover

What considerations to you take when it comes to cover art? Do you leave it up to the author or artist or do you take full control?

Most of the covers come either from a picture I had in my mind, or a part from a story in the collection. Artists Ben Baldwin likes to read a few stories to get the feel of the book. But when it comes to an author’s collection, I connect the author with Ben and they work it out amongst them. Ben knows what I like and I have 100% faith that he’ll create another masterpiece. From the start he’s always been able to bring the picture in my mind to life.

My initial love of books started with book covers. I’m a big fan of covers, whether it’s vinyl covers or DVD covers.

I’m a big fan of emotionally impactful covers. Covers that you can stare at for days. Every time the reader picks up the book, they’ll first stare at the cover before paging on. If you can make someone feel let’s say anger, fear, awe, curiosity or unease when they look at a cover, you’ve already set the mood for a great book.

Some of the covers might remind you of a childhood fear, or perhaps make you realise that you’re scared of something and you never realised it.

Do you think books encompassing different genres have helped or hindered the industry?

That’s a catch 22 situation.

On one hand, anything that gets more people writing and reading is great. With so many online outlets (Amazon, Createspace, Smashwords etc.), writers don’t have to worry so much about where their book should be on a bookstore shelf. Bookstores invented names for the genres, not writers. We write stories, and sometimes those stories want to go wherever they need to go. I can’t tell my imagination, “Sorry, but we’re not allowed to go in that direction.”

But then you have to keep marketing in mind when you write a book. You need to know who your target readers are. So sometimes you have to pull your characters back a bit and keep the ending as well as the genre in mind. When a reader looks at a cover, they should know immediately what waits for them inside.

I’d say stick to one genre in general, because you will let your readers down if you don’t, but nothing stops you from adding romantic subplots, fantasy worlds or a funny character. Your horror book will be so much better for it if you do.

Otherwise, write different genres under a pseudonym. I write and read horror and thriller stories, or just plain weird and dark, but there’s always room a bit of romance, comedy and so on. I’m actually working with an author on an erotic horror novella for 2014, with a lot of twisted humor in there for extra fun.

 You have had a lot of stories published. Do you still remember the first piece you ever sold?

 Definitely. It was in the middle of 2009, after I’d been writing for a few months. I’d won a couple of flash fiction challenges at, and decided it was time to try my luck with a few markets. I had no idea where to start, until I saw a publisher looking for a few stories on the forum. I polished one of my Flash Fiction winning stories and sent it off. A bit of editing was necessary between me and the editor, but the story, ‘Daddy’, ended up being not only my very first published piece, but also my first sale. I think I received about $50 for it, and that’s for a story of about 130 words. Not bad.

I was pretty hooked after that.

Do you prefer writing and publishing short stories, novellas or novels?

For now I prefer short stories and novellas. I’m not able to fully represent a novel yet. I can’t offer authors an advance or the massive advertising budget a novel requires. This company is still young, so I’m sure we’ll get there some day.

I also read more short stories as well, since they’re just what someone with a little bit of time in need of entertainment looks for.

 What sort of characters do you like to read about?

That’s a tough one. I have to say I have three favorites at the moment. The lonely outcast looking for a place in the world, the quiet person who ends up surprising people with his hidden talents, and the poor soul who has lost everything and doesn’t know where to turn. I get one hell of a kick out of seeing characters realize their destiny, whether it’s to sacrifice themselves, save countless lives, or even become a serial killer. This is horror, after all.

Would you say you are filled with the stereotypical idiosyncrasies that go with being an artistic person, or are one of the sane ones?

Sane? Yes. Normal? Not quite. I am a bit on the weird side, since I’m always lost in my thoughts, travelling through distant, imaginary worlds. I think I’m pretty normal, but my friends, family and wife just chuckle when I try to persuade them otherwise. I don’t really care. As long as I can keep writing and creating, I’m happy.

Sometimes I just ignore the real life around me. It sucks a bit, because then people think I don’t care.

You should see how crazy I get when I’m tired. Put on some Iron Maiden and you’ll see a completely different side of me.

I used to think I was a pretty decent guy for someone who wants to write horror. To my surprise, I found out that most horror writers are amazingly nice people. I guess we get all our frustrations out on paper before going out into the world and doing something stupid. Perhaps it’s a good thing we spend so much time on our own.

Which writers were your biggest influences growing up?

I wasn’t a huge reader growing up. I actually struggled to sit still long enough to read anything other than a comic. I was however a big fan of stories, be it movies, comics or whatever forms they came in. I can’t recall seeing a lot of short story collections in libraries back them. I loved going to the library, mostly for looking at covers, reading back page blurbs and, of course, for Asterix and Tintin.

I eventually got hooked on Stephen King, thanks to my sister. IT was the very first King book I read, and except for Dracula, it was also the thickest book I ever took on as a youngster.

I especially enjoyed weird stories like the Twilight Zone episodes, and Hitchcock Presents played a very big role in my love for horror and all things dark and twisted.

My biggest influence will still have to be Dracula.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Not sure if all writers experience this, but for me each story needs to be approached differently. It’s like the octopus circling the corked bottle until it finally finds a way in, or a rock climber approaching a mountain face. Sometimes I need lots of planning, sometimes I just have to write, and other times I write different scenes every day until the story fits together like pieces of a puzzle.

In the end, I like to plot, but most of it will just be short notes of scene ideas. Everything comes together in my mind and then I start writing.

Do you like to do all of your research upfront, or write till the very end?

I have the apparent weakness of wanting to edit when I write, but I’ll never stop to do research. I’ll just highlight whatever I’m not certain of in red and continue. Next time I go online, I’ll sort out whatever needs to be double checked.

 When it comes to writing and editing, do you have a set schedule that you like to follow?

I write whenever my schedule allows it. I’m a teacher living on the school premises, in a small flat below the hostel, so time is a bit limited. I normally write/edit between 3pm and 5pm each day, then another hour or so in the evening. I do tend to regularly change my writing schedule or the order in which I do things, especially weekends and holidays, just to keep things from getting monotonous. I don’t want writing and editing to become a chore.

These days publishing, marketing and just running Crystal Lake Publishing is taking most of my time. I hate making authors wait, so I try to reply the same day.

 When it comes to the invite-only anthologies you’re known to put together, are there any surprises and/or co-incidental similarities in theme that come about?

Surprisingly not. Each story is just so unique in its approach and symbolism. You see, I like to study writers and their work, then I bring a bunch of them together, a bunch I’ll know will not only fit nicely together, but bring out the best in each other.

Once the stories are submitted I’ll work with the authors to sharpen the story, and if I do ever find any similarities are will not benefit the collection, we’ll work on it together till everything evens out nicely.

Once I invite an author to an anthology, he/she is 95% guaranteed to be in that anthology. There will probably be a first someday, where an author and I will agree that the story isn’t going to work. Not all authors are easy to work with.

 Where can we find Crystal Lake Publishing on the internet?

 Check out our website:

Follow us on Twitter:

Chat with us on Facebook:


All our books can also be found on Goodreads.

And of course Amazon. But instead of barraging you with links, it might be better to just visit our books page. If you click on the book covers, you’ll find out more about each book, or you can just click on the Amazon buttons to follow the universal links straight to your country’s Amazon outlet.

I’m also very approachable, so don’t hesitate to contact me at I’ll add you to the mailing list (which goes out with every new release), and if you’re an author, be sure to send me a bio and links to (or examples of) your work. I might just contact you for a project in the future.

I wish Joe Mynhardt every success with his publishing venture and hope we shall be seeing more of Crystal Lake Publishing in the future.


Filed under Uncategorized

From One Author to Another

Author, Jennifer Bohnet talks to Lin Treadgold about her life in France and her writing activities. Her latest book Shadows of Conflict is available on Amazon in hardback at the end of September 2013.

Go to Jennifer’s home page to find out more about her books. 

Jennifer Bohnet

LIN: I am so pleased we exchanged experiences in the last few weeks, it has been interesting to meet a  like-minded expatriate. You live in France and I am in Holland.  You might like to tell us something about yourself and how many books you have written?

JENNIE: It’s been great meeting up with you via the internet, Lin, and thank you for the opportunity to be a guest on your blog. A bit about me? Well, we’ve been in France for 14 years now – 3 up here in Brittany and the previous 11 in the South of France. We originally cycled from Roscoff down through France via the canal paths with our then collie dog in a trailer behind Richard’s bike. It was good fun and we keep muttering we should do it again but I think the moment has passed! SHADOWS OF CONFLICT published by Hale this year is my fifth book.

LIN: Do you write throughout the year or do you wait, as I do, until summer has gone and start a new project through the winter months?

     JENNIE: Because I write short stories and serials as well I write all year – or try to! There are certain times of the year though that do prompt new motivation. Although it’s a  long time since I was at school, September and the new school year always has me making resolutions, starting new projects, and buying yet more notebooks. 

LIN: When did you begin writing your first book?

JENNIE; My first two, French Legacy and For The Love of The Sea were serials in The People’s Friend and were then accepted for Large Print publication by Ulverscroft. The next two were shorter serials so I had to edit, re-write and add about twenty thousand words with a couple of new sub-plots. All this began to happen in 2005.How is the quality expatriate life in France? 

      LIN: Are there things you miss about the UK?  For me it’s  Branston Pickle, Bisto gravy, and English cheeses.  I also miss the hills; Holland is so flat. How is the quality of  life in France?    

     JENNIE: Living in the South of France followed by Brittany has actually given  us two different expatriate lives in France. Same country but two totally departments. One very cosmopolitan, the other very rural and quiet. Food wise there is very little I can’t buy here these days – even Branston Pickle. Friends bring us treats like Devonshire clotted cream and pasties – oh, and peanuts for the birds are almost impossible to source here! We are lucky in that we live in gorgeous countryside – with hills –  and the sea is a short drive away in three directions.

      LIN: How do you manage to interact with other authors in real time when you are in France?  Do you come to the UK for conferences? 

JENNIE; Sadly I have no interaction with other authors in real time here. I did recently hear of another writer who lives up on the coast in another department but as yet we haven’t managed to meet up for one reason or another. I am a member of the RNA but have never attended any of their famous (or should that be infamous?) parties.Maybe one day I’ll get there.

LIN; Many authors write about what they know best; I am one of those too although I do enjoy the research.  Do you tend to keep your stories around France or are your books based elsewhere as well?

      JENNIE: Three of my books are based in France and the other two are set in Devon where we lived before running away to France. Number six is again based in France but is drawing on some of my experiences of running a beach cafe in Devon. So it’s a mixture of what I know and research.

      LIN: What started your writing?  When was the moment you said ‘I’ll write a book’ ? Was this due to a life changing experience?

     JENNIE: I’ve always written but coming to France was the life changing experience that propelled me into writing books rather than features and short stories.

     LIN: Who are your three most favourite authors and why?

     JENNIE: Oh, this is a difficult one – just three? Anna Seyton for Katherine – the historical novel of all time (imo). I adore all of Erica James’s books – she is so good at bringing characters to life. Jill Mansell, Veronica Henry, Katie Fforde, Marcia Willett – oh sorry you said three! And why? Basically because they all write, in totally different ways, about ordinary relationships and make them special.

LIN: You and I obviously enjoy sea-related stories.  I couldn’t imagine living too far from the sea, I was born on the top of a cliff! What do you feel it is about the sea that provides an author with a wealth of story telling?  How would you describe the feelings? 

     JENNIE: I was born on the seafront at Weston! Yes I love being near the sea but not so keen on being in it or on it! I’m not sure why it’s so inspirational for writers. Possibly because it can call up a myriad of emotions and thoughts – calm, stormy, happy, threatening, romantic etc. Knowing that gentle waves can change almost instantly to rough hard hitting ones ready to snatch things, lives, away and alter everything, can be inspiring.  

LIN: We are both members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.  Describe why membership to the RNA has been important to you.

JENNIE: Membership of the RNA is the thing that keeps me in touch and up to date with the writing scene in the UK. Getting to an RNA do is on my bucket list!

LIN: Who would you say has influenced you most in your writing style?

     JENNIE:Another difficult to answer question. I read a lot – usually contemporary, occasionally historical. I think sub-consciously you absorb things into finding your own voice. I honestly couldn’t name a single writer who has influenced me more than anyone else. Although I did go through a period of wanting to be the next Aga Saga writer aka Joanna Trollope. 

LIN: Are there any members of your family who are also writers? 

     JENNIE: Not yet – although I live in hope that my son will eventually put pen to paper because I know he has the talent from the few things he’s written but at the moment he’s just not interested.

     LIN: Thanks Jennie for a most interesting alliance, I hope we shall meet in real time in the future and exchange more of our writing experiences.

     JENNIE: It would be lovely to meet up in real time Lin. I’m sure it would be non stop chat. Thank you for inviting me.

SHADOWS of CONFLICT - Jennifer Bohnet

SHADOWS of CONFLICT tells the stories of Katie and her god-mother Mattie. When Katie, redundant from her media job, accepts Mattie’s offer to take over her shop, A Good Yarn, in Dartmouth, she expects her life to be busy and unexciting. But with an American film crew in town intent on uncovering buried secrets from World War II, a disgruntled relative, and Mattie herself still refusing to face up to the lingering shadows of an unhappy childhood, life is neither simple nor quiet. When Patrick, her ex-boss, offers the chance of her dream media job Katie has to decide whether accepting it is worth turning her back on everything and everyone in Dartmouth – including Leo, a friend from the past who plans to be a part of her future. Will Katie make the right decision? And as the Americans uncover a secret from her past, will Mattie shake off a lifetime of regrets and shadows from the past to finally find happiness with Henri, her new ami



August 29, 2013 · 12:47 pm