Tag Archives: books

Lazzmatazz 2019 – Literature and Book Fayre – Meet the author – Stephen Greenhalgh

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Welcome to the second of my author interviews, showcasing the talented authors at the Literature and Book Fayre on 2nd June in Llandovery, as part of the Lazzmatazz 2019 festival. I first met Stephen wearing a different hat, as the sound guy and compere at the Lampeter Food Festival. For the past four years he has handled Tribal Unity Wales’ music requirements for us in the main marquee. He’s recently published, so let’s give a warm welcome to a new author.

Lovely to have you with us, Stephen. Let’s start with your writing. How do you write? Is everything plotted, planned to perfection? Do you ever change tack as you go along or always stick to a pre-made plan?

It’s all roughly mapped out, but a story doesn’t flow properly if you don’t allow it to shift slightly as you write.

And do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?

I generally lie on the bed with my laptop on my knees. I do enjoy a Jack Daniels if I’m writing in the afternoon with no responsibilities later in the day.

I’m a laptop on my knees writer too. Aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.

I love to play guitar and sing. I meditate regularly. I love Roleplay games. I sometimes pretend I’m a spaceship. I love random adventures.

And you’ll be singing at the Lazzmatazz festival, so check out the timetable folks. Stephen will be performing on the Friday. A different kind of question now…If you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would you want with you?

An unlimited supply of JD. My fiancé Beth. My laptop so I can write (and solar panels for power.) My son, if it were a short term stranding, (cause I wouldn’t want him to get bored. A sat phone to call him with if it were to be longterm.) And access to the complete stock of Ann Summers (if it were just me and Beth.)

Brilliant answers! I should add sunscreen to the list if I were you! Moving on, on said island, what 5 books would you take and why?

Supposing I had access to my own books on a laptop for continuity checks I would take:

The Silmarillion, really enjoyed it, will definitely read it again.

The Illiad for the same reasons.

The Odyssey again for the same reasons.

The Complete collection of Terry Pratchett because he’s absolutely brilliant.

A random recommended scifi or fantasy book from a friend.

Cool. I had to look the first one up…that’s going on my birthday list, and you can’t beat the Discworld novels for escapist reading. Off the island now, which famous person would you like to have dinner with?­

Not fussed, don’t really do star struck. Mind you, I’m sort of easy if the famous person is paying for dinner in a nice restaurant.

I love you’d go for the food rather than the company! So, tell us about your current writing projects?

Love Island Two – Realms (Book four)

Thanks so much for joining me today, Stephen. Please share your published work and where we can find it:

Love Island Two – Beginnings:

http://www.stephengreenhalgh.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/theloveislands/

Make a date in your diary and come along and join the fun in Llandovery, for a weekend of art, craft, music and books.

 

 

 

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Lazzmatazz 2019 – Literature and Book Fayre – Meet the author – Angela Fish

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Welcome to the first of my author interviews featuring authors taking part in the Literature and Book Fayre, part of the Lazzmatazz 2019 festival. I first met Angela last year when we both had a table at a book fair in the National Botanic Gardens of Wales. It was a really warm day, and we took turns minding each others tables so we could nip outside for a breath of air! She writes delightful children’s stories, beautifully illustrated, perfect as gifts for boys and girls.

Welcome Angela! Lovely to have you here. Let’s get started

How do you write? Is everything plotted, planned to perfection? Do you ever change tack as

you go along or always stick to a pre-made plan?

I generally have a good idea/plan of the overall story, but things always change! With my WIP the characters just will not do what they’re told and keep challenging my plans for them!

It’s always exciting though, isn’t it? Do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?

I’ve never been able to stick to a fixed time for writing, it’s when the mood takes me. I might go days without writing a word, and then suddenly I’ll have a few days where I can write up to ten hours a day. I used to love having my cat on my desk, but sadly she’s no longer with me and her son prefers the garden. Apart from that, the only ‘quirk’ I have is that I only write with a pencil, until it’s time to move on to the computer.

I love a pencil! So, aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.

Mad about cats – they always seem to know when there’s a vacancy at my place.

Left my blood on the portcullis of Castell Coch, Tongwynlais, when I was about five (lived in the village and often visited. Ran up the drawbridge too quickly, fell and bumped my head.)

Hate flying.

Love gardening and cooking.

Absolutely useless at drawing!

I too have a tendency to acquire cats…we have four at the moment! If you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would you want with you?

Sunscreen/specs/notebooks/pencils/cats

On said island, what 5 books would you take and why?

Almost impossible to pick just five (and I’d probably read them too quickly!) but if pushed:

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Classic from my childhood

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos-Ruiz-Zafón. A book about books! Fabulous other-worldly mystery.

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore. Her last novel. Wonderfully written and thought provoking.

Any of the poetry books of Seamus Heaney. Just love the way he handles words and the pictures he paints with them.

Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolien. What an imagination!

Great choices, though it is hard to pick just five. Off the island now, which famous person would you like to have dinner with?­

David Attenborough

I’m with you on that one. His eloquence and affinity with the natural world could be the beginning of saving our planet. What are your current writing projects?

I’ve almost completed the first draft of a novel that explores the nature/nurture question through the lives of two girls who have their sons on the same day. Over the course of the next twenty years, their lives follow different paths but intersect occasionally, as do the lives of the boys. The impact of their backgrounds and experiences shapes much of what they do and the decisions they make but how much of a part does fate/luck play?

I’m also about halfway with a novel for children, which uses myths and legends from around the world, and moves between the ‘real world’ and a magical one. Essentially, it’s about making friends, bullying, the transition from junior to senior school, and the relationship between the heroine and her grandmother, who supports her on her quest.  Oh, and of course, it has cats!

You’ve been busy! They both sound great. To finish, do share your published work.

Ben and the Spider Gate                    (Book Guild)

Ben and the Spider Prince                              “

Ben and the Spider Lake                                “

The Captain’s Favourite Treasure      (Matador)

 

Hard copies via my website: www.angela-fish.com

Ebooks via Troubador bookstore: https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/

Thank you so much for joining me, Angela. Been lovely to chat and finding out more about you and your writing. See you in Llandovery on the 2nd!

 

 

 

Hubble Bubble, Book fair double

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I shall be attending back to back book fairs in September!

The Narberth Book Fair is 22nd and hosts over 40 authors, something for everyone! You can check out the authors on the Narberth Book Fair website https://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/authors.html

On 29th September, I’m at the Llandysul Book Fair hosted by Parlour Press Publishing.

This is a brand new event, so come along and support local authors. There’s not just adult fiction, but children’s books and poetry too.

Treat yourself or buy a book for a gift. I look forward to meeting you.

The Book Fair Blues

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I was at the Carmarthen Book fair on Saturday, sharing a table with my good friend, Nicola Beechsquirrel.

The book fair was founded by Sarada and John Thompson (You can find out more about them here https://wendysteele.com/2018/08/06/john-thompson-author-and-gentleman/

and here https://wendysteele.com/2018/08/08/sarada-thompson-giver-of-light/

It’s always a friendly book fair; the authors are always helpful and happy to share ideas, and the public are there because they love books. A great range of genres were represented and special guest this year was Dr. Paul Wright, Head of Cultural Studies Lampeter & Course Director for the BA in English and the International Foundation programme, manning the table for the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, featuring course studies of Literature & Creative Writing.

The morning was quiet, a gentle trickle of shoppers seeking out a little diversion and tea and cake from the fabulous Caffi Iechyd Da. I had a great morning, chatting about magical writing and listening to the general public’s take on magic.

And then the rain came down. We had a few soggy customers, but not many, which was a shame with all the gorgeous goodies on show. Nicola had a good day, chatting about her family history and sending book buyers home happy.

The blues began in the afternoon, drip dripping into my consciousness, started by a comment made to the delightful children’s author Angela Fish. A lady stood at her stall, so Angela began telling her about her books. “You needn’t bother,” said the lady, “I don’t read books and nor do my grandchildren.”

On Sunday I spent the morning thinking about how we can attract more adults and children to books fairs. In this age of celebrity, who wouldn’t want to meet the author behind the words we love to read? Social media gives us the opportunity to form a link that wouldn’t have been possible twenty years ago, but is that why meeting authors ‘in real life’ is no longer so exciting? Has the creation of the digital format for books taken away the ‘real person’ behind the words?

I handed out more business cards on Saturday than I’ve done at any other book fairs, to readers who read on kindle, so some of them were there, but in the same way as I believe there will always be a place for real, tactile, gorgeous paper books, we mustn’t lose the opportunity to interact in person. You can’t beat meeting people in the flesh, listening to their stories and sharing their lives, if only for a few minutes.

I beat the blues with a walk on my riverbank in the rain. I watched the drops bounce off the leaves from my seat in our shelter, ripples forming and spreading on the water as the river hurried by. The rain refreshed me, the Welsh landscape soothed me and I hurried home, inspired to pick up my fountain pen and allow the magic to flow once more.

 

 

Face to face at the Book Fair

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On Saturday 21st July, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales held a storytelling event and book fair called Plant & Plots. I was invited to bring my books along to set up a stand in the Great Glasshouse.

All began well at 8.30am. The plants are amazing and the thought of spending all day with them, and meeting the plant loving public, filled me with excitement.

More authors arrived. I was opposite the fabulous children’s author, Angela Fish and we chatted about the prospects for the day and our books. Her stories are wonderful with glorious illustrations. I was sure every parent and child who walked passed would love one of her books.

I’d recently linked up online with Cheryl Beer, a poet and organiser of a new book fair for September 29th this year in Llandysul, so it was lovely to meet her ‘in real life’ and have a chat. Thorne Moore was there with her clever book stand to keep the drips off her books, and her books of course, psychological mysteries or ‘domestic noir’, exploring the reasons for crimes and their consequences. It was lovely to see Judith Barrow after she interviewed me for Showboat TV, and her wonderful family sagas. Thorne and Judith are the brains and beauty (and damned hard work!) behind the Narberth Book Fair, this year on 22nd September. Check out the fabulous website they have created. http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/

Sarada and John Thompson, organisers of the Carmarthen Book Fair on 11th August, invited me to the event, so it was lovely to catch up with them and their work.

And then the sun came out…. and nost of the public chose not to come in. I didn’t blame them. I love the sun, am very happy in it, but the heat and humidity were unbearable. Angela and I took turns to get fresh air, but it was a struggle returning. After a few hours, we nabbed someone to put an industrial fab on which helped a bit, but by 3pm, I was beginning to feel unwell. A meeting of authors was called. Graham Watkins spoke to those in charge of the event and we were offered a table in the Gallery for the following day, but I chose to leave space for others on this occasion; my broken toe is still mending!

I shall definitely return to the Botanic Gardens and I did meet some lovely people. I talked at length to a wonderful gentleman about the magical landscape of Wiltshire and I danced with a little fairy who called me the purple lady. In this digital age, you just can’t beat chatting about books and inspiration face to face.

Don’t forget my Summer Special Giveaway Be in a Book! In three easy steps, you can be yourself in my next novel!

 

Review of Every Day Magic

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I treated myself to Every Day Magic in paperback in early December with some of my birthday money.

Every Day Magic - A Pagan Book of Days: 366 Magical Ways To Observe The Cycle Of The Year by [Starza, Lucya]

Every Day Magic, A Pagan Book of Days, is a gem of a little book. On every page are treasures, ideas, recipes, meditations, spells and so much more. Whatever pantheon you follow, or even if you don’t follow one at all, you’ll enjoy exploring thoughts from other lands and belief systems.

I read this book from  cover to cover first but it’s an ideal book to dip into at Sabbats and Esbats or just because you feel like it.

A perfect book to bring a little magic into every day.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Every-Day-Magic-Magical-Observe/dp/1785355678/ref

https://www.amazon.com/Every-Day-Magic-Magical-Observe/dp/1785355678/ref

 

What do YOU want from a novel?

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I gave up putting up the book I was reading on Goodreads…because so many were so bad, I couldn’t finish them. Each and every one had been recommended by glowing reviews yet they didn’t grab me or keep me wanting to read them. I know what I want to read, my latest review ‘Soul Doubt’ by D Hart St Martin, proves that but maybe other readers are looking for something different?

I want…believable, real, engaging characters

Identifying with the characters is paramount in my reading. I don’t have to like them all, but they need to be ‘real’. I’m a visual reader so if I can’t picture the characters acting out the scenes in the book, you’ve lost me already.

I want…a story that holds my attention

Moving on from the characters, it’s the story that holds me and compels me to read on. It can be happy, sad, thrilling, exciting or inspiring but I need to believe that the story is important. For me, the story isn’t the plot; it’s what the book is really about.

I want…a well-crafted book

I love words. I love them used to create a memorable sentence. I don’t mind background or words that move the reader from scene to scene but I want words used thoughtfully, provocatively and beautifully.

I want…a well-edited book

I’m not a stickler for this but if the formatting is heywire, there are additional words, words spelled incorrectly or if a book feels like a first draft, you’ll lose me after a couple of chapters. I may read on if the story is compelling but rarely to the end.

I want…to be left wanting more

I love reading a book that I enjoy so much that I can’t wait to read another by the author. We all have our favourite authors, those books we devour the moment they are released and many readers enjoy books from a series, each book a whole story in its own right while the next moves the characters and story on further.

I want…a story to dwell in

For me, all books are magic, transporting the reader to another time or place, away from our own reality. Total immersion is what I seek. I want to be clinging to the side of a Viking ship or taking my first space walk to fix a problem with the solar panels. I want to sun myself on a beach in Australia or battle the elements, climbing to a mountain summit. I want to ride a train to Budapest or a camel in the desert. I want to dance at a ball in my high necked gown or hide in a cave from a demon.

What do YOU want from a novel?

 

The BEAUTYof a Book Fair

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Love books but never been to a book fair? Let me tell you how much fun they are…

B is for books…one of my favourite dreams is finding myself in a room surrounded by books.14441101_928492490589252_1450220905486666353_nTables weighed down with glistening covers and colourful banners fill the hall and all you have to do is browse. It’s a wonderful spectacle and an exciting opportunity to find a book that transports you to another world.

E is for education…because you can talk with the authors, you hear the books synopsis but, more importantly, learn why an author wanted to share their story with you. 14492328_10153797841252327_6965602039928982529_n

We don’t just talk about books either…authors are real people. At Carmarthen Book Fair, I shared about lime mortaring and learned great tips on organic gardening as well as talking about magic. Often, there are talks and workshops where authors share their passion for their work and educate with tips on writing or opportunities to delve deeper into a specific genre.

A is for authors…a book fair is a great place for authors to meet, share and unite. Most of us are introverts by design, creating our stories alone in our own world of words, so book fairs are a great place to feel part of the writing community. 14462752_928492613922573_8779798483905616230_n

U is for universal…at a book fair, there is something for everyone, books spanning all the genres. They are inclusive events, often using the opportunity to raise money for charity. 14440912_928494113922423_5699407015268787620_n At Carmarthen, money was raised for Multiple Sclerosis with a raffle. Prizes were donated by authors and the local community.

T is for time…as an author, it’s time to be yourself and time to share the writing you love. The atmosphere buzzes with excitement yet there’s no rush…time to relax and share with our readers. 14449818_10210590035252262_8255655491257185578_n

Y is for you…we wouldn’t be there without you! Book Fairs give authors the opportunity to be there for you, answer your questions and inspire you to immerse yourself in the world of story.14463312_10153797841292327_4601279399998354486_n

Look out for local book fairs in the press and on social media. If you’re in Wales, I look forward to meeting you at Llandeilo in December.

Happy reading!

Stepping off the Christmas band wagon

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When my children were small, I remember their faces aglow with delight and wonder at a  glimpse of fairy lights, candles and holly. Family traditions warmed us as the Wheel turned from autumn to winter. Then the Christmas band wagon came to town. Shops shone with plastic sentiment from November and the media enforced the message that Christmas was a season to get what you want.

We continued putting out a tray for Santa and his reindeer, not starting our Christmas until we had sung carols in the barn with the animals at the Remus Horse Sanctuary and opening stockings pinned on the fireplace on Christmas Eve never lost its joy but still the Christmas catalogues and bombardment of adverts on TV created an atmosphere of greed and desire. Pressed to conform, I queued for vegetables before the shop opened one year on Christmas Eve and was appalled by the pushing and shoving and anger evoked by a dwindling supply of sprouts. Never again.

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The last two weekends, I’ve taken my books and pixie coats to Christmas Fayres. Within this atmosphere of crafters and caring folk, I’ve reached a decision. I’m stepping off the Christmas band wagon this year.

I would love you to buy my magical books, inspiring yourself and others to see the magic in this world and the gifts you have within. I would love you to buy a pixie coat to snuggle up in when the weather turns wintery but I will not be pestering you to do so.

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On my Facebook pages and on Twitter, I shall pin a post/tweet showing you where you can find all my books and through this blog or my personal Facebook page, you can contact me about pixie coats.

I shall continue to blog but will not ‘pimp’ on social media, flooding your feeds with adverts.

I’m looking forward to a Yule and Christmas filled with family, friends and fun, where caring for people in the community and animals who have no voice, is more important than shiny gifts and hope you will support me in the spirit of warm heartedness and love.

 

Happy Saturday!

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12308114_10153316010664352_3619750840121494065_oI faced the fear at stand 35 at the Lampeter Christmas fayre on Saturday, taking up position with the lovely Hayley and her Goblin Circus.

I’m a writer and I love it. It’s a solitary pursuit, extracting the essence of the ideas bombarding my head and creating stories for readers to enjoy. Alone, in silence, the real world falls away and my story world comes to life. Facing my public is a whole different sack of kittens. I had a plan…smile and say ‘hello’ to everyone and sit regularly to stop my knees knocking.

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Hayley and Maurice, the griffin, had no problem engaging with the public while I struggled with my shyness. After an hour, I began to relax, embarking on conversations about alternate universes and the power of the standing stones and I sold and signed a few books.

DSC_0081The pixie coats were admired and adored but only one sale made on the day, though I’m hoping for sales in the future. I’ve always had faith in them, having bought my first one seven years ago and that confidence helped me marketing my books.

I’m at the Tregaron Christmas Fayre in the memorial hall on Friday 4th December so, if you’re in the area, do pop along and say ‘hello’ as it’s also my birthday.

On Monday, 7th December, I shall begin selling pixie coats online for Christmas. The photo is a selection of the short length coats but they come full length too. Find me on Facebook and I’ll have pictures available in the sizes you request. https://www.facebook.com/wendy.steele.311

As the weather worsens and the cold sets in, why not snuggle up in your new pixie coat with a magical read? You can find all my books via my author pages.

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1365459567&sr=1-2-ent