Tag Archives: Judith Barrow

The Beauty of a Book Fair


This weekend was the Narberth Book Fair in Wales, and I shared a table with my friend Nicola Beechsquirrel on the Sunday.

There’s no doubt that at a book fair readers love to buy books, and authors love to sell them, but there’s so much more to a book fair than that.

Book fairs are a great way for authors to meet other authors ‘in the flesh’. Lizzie Lamb and I had been interacting online for a while, so it was great to meet her, and have a chat. We talked writing, book covers and marketing among other things, and I always find having spoken to other authors, I have ideas about ways that I can publicise and share my work that I might not have thought of otherwise. Seeing how authors have set out their tables with banners, leaflets and book marks, is always useful too, showcasing their books in the best light they can. All the authors at Narberth are friendly and happy to chat and share. Some authors I’ve known for the past four years now, and it’s great to get together, catch up and share news.

I’ve met up with Greg Howes at a couple of recent steampunk events where I’ve been dancing, rather than writing, and the fabulous Carol Lovekin lives near me, so I often see her in town, but it’s always good to meet up at a book event, where I wear my author hat.

On top of all that, I get to talk about my books and my writing all day, with other authors and the public, so what is there not to like?

And the readers? They get to meet, speak to and have books signed by the authors whose books they enjoy reading. My favourite moment of the day was when a reader picked up the third book in the Lizzie Martin series, The Flowerpot Witch and asked if I would sign it for her. I said, of course, but that she did realise it was the third book in a series. She replied that she did know because she had read the first two books, had enjoyed them and was thrilled to have a third one to read and to meet the author who wrote them was wonderful. I told her there were three more on the way to finish that particular series and she left with a huge smile. (I know, I should have asked her if she would like to leave a review saying she’d enjoyed my books, but I was excited to meet a fan!)

And that’s another beauty of a book fair; for an author to meet a reader who has enjoyed their stories is the biggest boost there is.

Readers also like to talk, and not just about books, so this weekend I’ve talked about organic gardening, spinning, crochet, magic and archaelogy!

My only regret at this particular fair was that I didn’t attend a workshop by the lovely Juliet Greenwood, which I would have enjoyed so much, but we were a little delayed getting there, so I spent so long setting my table up, I was too late (and too embarassed!) to walk in once it had started.

Huge thanks go to Judith Barrow and Thorne Moore for making the Narberth Book Fair 2019 a resounding success.

Support a book fair, and have a wonderful day.


Competition time! Friends in Wales!


This year’s Narberth Book fair is on Saturday 28th September and Sunday 29th, in the Queen’s Hall, Narberth.

Have you visited Narberth Book fair? I’ve had a stall, or shared one due to the demand, at the Narberth Book Fair, previously the Tenby Book Fair, for the past few years and it’s always a great day. The event is well run by the fabulous Judith Barrow and Thorne Moore, and we spend a lovely day catching up with other authors and chatting to the public about our books and our writing. All genres of writing are covered, so there’s a book for everyone.

As well as the stalls, there are workshops and two writing competitions, one for adults and one for children.

This year I’ve penned an entry for the flash fiction story…why not join in the fun?

Here’s the link to the Narberth Book Fair website, for all the information you need. https://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/index.html

Look out for this logo on social media for updates and information.

I’m looking forward to seeing you in Narberth at the end of September. Happy reading!


Judith Barrow – author and co-organiser of the Narberth Book Fair


Today, I’m excited to interview Judith Barrow on my blog, repaying the favour after she interviewed me for BookSmart on Showboat TV. I met Judith two years ago when I attended what was then the Tenby Book Fair, which has now flourished into the Narberth Book Fair, hosting over 40 authors and their books.

There’s a fabulous website too, where you can find out about the authors before you attend.


Let’s meet Judith and find out about her writing, and a little of what makes her tick…

1 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 have vague plans for my characters but, as I’m sure many authors have already told you, Wendy – and you know yourself – they take a life of their own and won’t do as you planned. Usually they know what they’re doing, so I go with the flow.

 2 Do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?

No, I don’t really have any rituals. I think this comes from years of snatching moments to write or scribble ideas in notebooks: as a child, as someone with a career in the civil service, as a young mother of three children under three (no, we weren’t careless, we had the lovely surprise of twins second time around), and then as a working wife and mother, and later as a carer for my aunt. It became a habit to fit writing around my life. Must admit, though, some days now, if I’m not teaching (I’m a creative writing tutor for our local council) I write all day in my kaftan and don’t get dressed.

 3 Aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.

Being proud I survived a…let’s say…a difficult childhood and turned into a reasonably ‘normal’ adult. I would love to buy a camper van and just go off travelling (seriously – so who knows!) I love painting seascapes – in pastels or watercolours. I used to make novelty cakes (did it for years for my own and friends’ children – made it into a business for a while but totally uneconomical) I am a qualified swimming teacher

4 If you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would youwant with you?

May I take four ten thousand page notebooks and an everlasting pen? No? Okay, If not, then my husband because he’s a great handyman and will keep everything ship-shape? Right, being serious…hmmm…obviously a pencil/pen and notebook, a wind-up record player (there is no electricity or batteries?) and a recording of Swan Lake, because it was the first record my favourite aunt  (who lived with us for many years after we moved to Wales) bought for me at the age of twelve. A full set of Dickens books (am I pushing my luck here? There are thirty editions and I’m only through two thirds of them. How many is that?) Toothpaste and brush – count that as one? Just had a thought though – if I could take Hubby, he’s another person, so he could take his five things? Yes? Right – that’s easy then – all his photography equipment to record our days for posterity – and for us to look back on in our old (er…older) days, after we’ve been rescued. Have to say here, he takes wonderful photos and will do nothing with them…like frame and sell them at craft fairs (been nagging him for years to do it.) Yes, I do know I’m rambling. And five things, you said, Wendy? As you can see, I’m no good at sticking to rules

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

Oooer… the set of Dickens – which, if I counted it here would mean I get an extra item above at question four? Sapiens – which might… might…make me understand the human race. Set of all Shakespeare plays? Which leaves me with three books? Or two? Anyway, back to childhood: The Tree that Sat Down. (Never did find out who wrote it but it was in my stocking one Christmas and I woke up and found it at two in the morning – yes, I have always been a poor sleeper!) Anyway, I’d read it by torchlight by the morning and had to spend the next few days pretending I was reading it for the first time. How many is that? Last, but not least, any book by Catherine Cookson because, I think, it was her who set me off loving family sagas.

 6 Off the island now, which famous person would you like to have dinner with?

Aphra Behn. She was a working playwright, author and poet in the middle of the seventeenth century who broke all sorts of barriers in such a male orientated literary era (and was accepted by some more free-thinking poets and writers). She was also a spy for Charles II. She got into all sorts of political trouble and debt at various stages of her life. A fascinating woman to chat with! Would we really have time to actually eat?

I studied her play, ‘The Rover, written in 1681 for my degree (I was a mature (well sort of mature) student, twenty something years ago. I remembered and dug out a quote from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own: “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.” Yay!!

 7 Your current writing projects?

At the moment I have a manuscript with my publishers, Honno (https://www.honno.co.uk/), waiting for editing and I’m fifty thousand words into my next family saga. I’ve also plotted out my next two novels.

 8 Other published work and links….

I do have a book I’ve Indie published, Silent Trauma: http://amzn.to/2kXIvRe.

I was involved with the UK charity for some years and then the USA charity. The book was the result of being asked to write something that the general reader would understand and be interested in.

Here’s the blurb: “When Meg Matthews gives an interview on the local radio station it leads to a friendship with three other women. They share a terrible secret. Together, can they find the strength to expose the silent trauma they have endured all their lives?

The story is fictional: the facts are real.”

The UK charity was disbanded through lack of funds and publicity. Despite writing many times to successive Governments, help/aid/support was not forthcoming, Unlike Thalidomide; the damage caused by DES is not immediately obvious. It usually comes to light in the teenage years of (mostly) young girls. The results are devastating to both daughters and mothers (and the guilt, totally unwarranted, of the mothers, is heart breaking).

I give talks to women’s groups about DES, whenever I’m asked.

Here’s a small explanation of the charity taken from the USA website: https://desaction.org/

In 1938, DES (diethylstilboestrol) was the first synthetic oestrogen to be created. DES was prescribed to millions of pregnant women, primarily from 1938 – 1971, but certainly not limited to those years, in the mistaken belief that the drug prevented miscarriage and ensured a healthy baby. But it didn’t work. Instead DES harmed the mothers who were prescribed it, the children born of those pregnancies and now possibly their grandchildren and beyond.

 Never patented, DES was cheap and easy to produce, so hundreds of drug companies made it all around the world. DES was marketed under numerous brand names.

I also have written an anthology, Secrets, a collection of stories about the minor characters in the trilogy. http://amzn.to/2swOWgg

This is the blurb:

 Ashford, home of the Howarth family, is a gritty northern mill town, a community of no-nonsense Lancashire folk, who speak their minds and are quick to judge. But how many of them are hiding secrets that wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of others?

Judith Barrow’s Howarth Family trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, Changing Patterns and Living in the Shadows, along with the prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads, published by Honno Press, is peopled with just such characters. Here are some of their secret stories – the girl who had to relinquish her baby, the boy who went to war too young, the wife who couldn’t take any more…

“Judith Barrow has surpassed herself in writing this great family saga… There is such a wealth of fantastic characters to fall in love with and ones to hate!” (Brook Cottage Books)

It’s been lovely having you here, Judith…I’m not good at sticking to the rules either! If family sagas are your read of choice, do check out Judith’s books here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6




Face to face at the Book Fair


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!