Special Launch Feature – Judith Barrow

Please join me in congratulating family saga novelist, Judith Barrow, on her latest novel, Sisters published today.

Sisters

Judith Barrow

Sisters is based around an accident and a lie that tears apart the lives of two young sisters. The consequences leads them to exist in completely different communities and social structures. The underlying theme throughout the story is the uncertainty of whether familial love and duty can prevail over resentment and hatred. And what it might take for good to overcome the evil that lies hidden behind closed doors.

The initial inciting incident in Sisters is taken from a memory that has stayed with me from childhood. Something that has had long-term consequences and has completely changed the lives of all the members of it that family on so many levels.

BLURB

An accident and a terrible lie tear a family apart. When sixteen-year-old Angie blames her younger sister for their brother’s death, she changes their lives forever. Lisa is sent away, Angie spirals into self-destruction and they don’t speak for thirteen years. Returning in 1983 for their mother’s funeral, Lisa quickly realises her sister is trapped in a dangerous marriage. What does Lisa owe to the family that betrayed her? And if she tries to help, will she make things more dangerous for them all?

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About Judith Barrow

Judith Barrow, originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines, has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for over forty years.

She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University. She is a Creative Writing tutor.

She has had seven books published with honno, the longest-standing independent women’s press in the UK.

Special Launch Feature – Helen Laycock

Please join me in congratulating poet, Helen Laycock, on the launch of her brand new poetry collection, Rapture. Helen shares snippets of inspiration.

Rapture

A flirtation with love between the covers

Helen Laycock

Love has long been a subject for poets. In fact, the oldest love poem is said to be The Love Song for Shu-Sin, written in 2000 BC for use in the sacred rites of fertility.

I never really thought of myself as a writer of love poetry, but, bit by bit, inspired by pictures, prompts and evocative places, I began to gather it, like stray flowers, until I had something that resembled a bouquet, and that became the collection RAPTURE, which is still smouldering off the press!

Love is a powerful emotion, and one most of us will have experienced in some way. Even the degree of grief suffered by a bereaved partner correlates to the depth of love they *have for that soulmate (and, yes, I use the present tense deliberately here; as John Galsworthy said, ‘Love has no age, no limit; and no death.’).

In ‘Unburn’, the final poem in the collection, I have tried to capture this futile yearning to bring back a loved one, be it even for a moment:

Writing about love through the medium of poetry is almost always a joyous and fulfilling undertaking, however. Finding metaphor can be a delicious sensory quest. I found myself pondering over such intricacies as breath, for example, and how goosebumps can trill across skin…

‘Night Breath’ is set in a jasmine-infused, moonlit scene, the woman depicted as

(Yes, I had fun with the spacing of those letters… )

In it, we see the power of touch as she subsequently

In general, the pace of the poems is unhurried. That moment of falling asleep is often alluded to, and the beach has more than once featured as the backdrop, capturing that sense of warmth as the sun sets against the lull of the rolling waves, themselves metaphors for body heat and emotion.

One of my favourite lines in ‘Embers’ is:

Rapture is a collection of poems with soft voices and very few sharp edges. Perhaps one of the most mellifluent is ‘Lagoon’, a thirteen-word poem:

Interspersed throughout are a scattering of quotations, my favourite of which is possibly ‘Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.’ Aristotle

I couldn’t have put it better myself, though I’ve had a good go!

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Helen Laycock returns to Patricia’s Pen on 14th February 2023 to chat about all her poetry books. Don’t miss it.

Guest Feature – Damien Posterino

I’m delighted to welcome, Melbourne born poet, Damien Posterino, to Patricia’s Pen. Damien is here to blog about his collection Show Me the way into Exile published by Alien Buddha Press. Without further ado, it’s over to Damien.

Show me the way into Exile

Damien Posterino

I would like to firstly express my gratitude to Patricia who recently invited me to be a guest poet on her blog. The blog reflects her passion for poetry and writing and it’s an honour to be a part of it. 

My first collection of 40 poems Show Me the way into Exile was written over eighteen months from 2021/22, but on reflection it had been sitting inside me for years. The theme of exile has always been in my life and always captivated me. 

I left Australia and moved to London from Melbourne twenty years ago. My mum often uses the analogy of going out to the desert when you need to find your way again. I am the son of an Italian immigrant who travelled out to Australia when he was four. I remember loving a 2004 French film called Exils about a young couple who travel from France to Algeria to reconnect with their heritage. 

There is pathos and darkness about exile but there is also the narrative of reinvention, exploration and spinning the wheel for good and bad. I guess I’m all those things, and these poems reflect this in different ways.

To continue with my personal journey, the collection was written in Mexico where my partner is from. We had been working in Singapore and Thailand for 4 years between 2016-2020 and our work ended abruptly when Covid hit in 2020. We decided to move to Mexico for eighteen months where I would write full time. That new page allowed the seeds for the collection to germinate. 

Across the collection I’ve tried to explore exile in very different and sometimes subtle ways. Everything from job loss, feeling like an outsider, isolation in a big city, changing communities around us and the individuals within it who get lost, addiction in various forms, darkness in love, distance in our relationships and the pain of nostalgia. There are others that I hope readers will also enjoy exploring. 

Salman Rushdie in the Satanic Verses says:

“Exile is a dream of a glorious return. Exile is a vision of revolution: Elba, not St Helena. It is an endless paradox: looking forward by always looking back. The exile is a ball hurled high into the air.” 

I would like to thank Alien Buddha Press who published the collection. I hope readers enjoy the poems and the journey I created. 

About Damien Posterino

Damien Posterino is Melbourne-born but has made London his home. He has lived in 5 countries including Mexico where he recently spent 18 months creating his first poetry collection “Show Me the way into Exile”. His other published poems can be seen in over 30 international publications including A Thin Slice of Anxiety, The Bangor Literary Journal, Paddler Press, Madrigal Press, Roi Fainéant Press and The Jupiter Review. You can find him walking around Victoria Park in East London or on Twitter @damienposterino.

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Special Launch Feature – Suzi Bamblett

Please join me in congratulating my very dear friend, Suzi Bamblett, on today’s publication of her latest novel Prescient Spirit. Read what inspired Suzi to write this new book and find out how to order your copy.

Prescient Spirit

Suzi Bamblett

I’ve always loved a spooky story set in an old, gothic house – Rebecca, The Woman in White, Northanger Abbey, The Turn of the Screw.  When I was a child, I lived for a few years in a haunted farmhouse. Perhaps this is why I relate so much to these fantastic classics.

The setting for Prescient Spirit was inspired by yoga lessons I attended in an old gothic house near Cross in Hand, Holy Cross Priory. The house was steeped in atmosphere and history, and I was fascinated by its many chimneys, towers and gargoyles. I couldn’t wait to set one of my own novels in a house like that.

As I prepared to take part in National Novel Writing month in November 2015, a story began to take shape in my mind. There would be a ghost of a little girl, dressed in yellow with starfish hands and a tiny red heart-shaped birthmark.

I wrote 30k words during November that year. Here’s a short extract:

As I rounded the column, I glimpsed a tiny, star-like hand. Swiftly it shot back out of sight. There was no one there. But I’d spotted it – a red, heart-shaped birth mark on the back of the hand.

I was mid-way through my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton, so I put the unfinished manuscript aside for a few months.

And then something spooky happened…

On 7th May 2016 my grand-daughter Eloise was born. On her cheek was a red, heart-shaped birthmark. It felt as if, like Silvertongue in Inkheart, I had written her into being…

I finished my MA and returned to earlier ‘works in progress’ – The Travelling Philanthropist and Three Faced Doll. Meanwhile, my contemporary gothic novel, Prescient Spirit waited in the wings. Finally, I have completed it. It is, of course, dedicated to my grandchildren.

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About Suzie Bamblett

Suzi Bamblett lives in Crowborough, East Sussex. In 2019 she graduated with a distinction for her MA in Creative Writing (University of Brighton)

Suzi writes psychological thrillers, mystery and suspense. Her work has been published in literary magazines and academic collections including Shooter Literary Magazine (2020) and Storying the Self – Performance and Communities (2022).

Her Imagined Dialogue with Daphne (du Maurier) can be found on the Daphne du Maurier website, and her memoir piece – A Grandmother’s Grief was long-listed for the Amy Award in 2021.

Prescient Spirit is Suzi’s third novel.

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Special Launch Feature – Beth Haslam

Please join me in congratulating memoir author, Beth Haslam, on the publication of her brand new book Fat Dogs and WELSH ESTATES. Beth has come along to Patricia’s Pen to tell you all about this sequel. Without further ado, it’s over to Beth.

Fat Dogs and Welsh Estates – Series Prequel

Beth Haslam

Thanks so much for inviting me here to introduce my new book, Tricia. I’m honoured.

When my publisher suggested I write about my upbringing in Wales, I hesitated. Why would anyone have the slightest interest in reading about my childhood? My publisher thought otherwise, so I reflected. Finally, the solution came to me.

Instead of focusing solely on myself, which, ironically for a memoir writer, makes my toes curl, I decided to tackle the project differently. I would produce a light-hearted account centring on the rich tapestry of my homeland.

My research journey began with the sunny shores in North Wales and my many sailing misadventures on the infamous Menai Strait. Sadly, I wasn’t a great sailor. I recalled visits to roughhewn slate quarries with my Pa and the majesty of Snowdonia – which brought back memories of myths we were told from the Mabinogion. King Arthur, dragons, wizards and druids, tales from the ancient tome enthralled (and terrified) children of all ages. And then I reflected on our history.

For such a little country, we have lots of castles. Harlech, Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Conwy all featured in my youth. Trips to these extraordinary places, including coming to a sticky end in Beaumaris castle’s moat, are imprinted on my mind. I had to tell that tale. Inevitably, with my childhood being the central theme, I did have to talk more about myself. Typically, I found my comfort zone with animals.  

Tales about growing up on a farm estate flowed from my pen. For as long as I can remember, my life has revolved around animals, big ones, little ones, bitey ones and cuties. My book is filled with anecdotes about our furry and feathery family members. I also recount the trials and tribulations concerning life at a crumbly boarding school, which, I admit, often sound like chapters from St. Trinians. Detention was my second name.

Throughout, my descriptive content revolves around the countryside, culture, and what being Welsh really means, including the quirks and misnomers of our lilting language. For years I thought that wibli wobli meant jellyfish and I was convinced that popty ping meant microwave oven. Imagine how disappointed I was to learn that the correct terms were slefrod môr and meicrodon. Still, it’s a strangely intoxicating dialect.

Before I knew it, my book was written. I’ve shared stories about my unusual upbringing in remarkable homes surrounded by animals and several ghosts. And I’ve described the extraordinary characteristics of the magical north where I was born. The early reviews of my book have been incredibly heartening. If through my writing, I leave readers inspired to visit my homeland, I’ll be thrilled to bits.

In closing, I have included this YouTube video. It gives glimpses of Snowdonia, together with the inspiring words of David Blakemore. And as a poet, Tricia, I think and hope you’ll find it stirring too.

YouTube Video

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About Beth Haslam

Beth Haslam grew up on a farm estate in Wales. Passionate about animals, her free time was spent on horseback or messing around with the family pets, waifs and strays.

Following a successful business career, Beth and her husband, Jack, decided to buy a second home in France. A decision they had no idea would change their lives forever.

Beth is now occupied as never before. Raising and saving animals, writing, and embracing everything that rural France has to offer.

She’s loving it!

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Guest Feature – Regine Ebner

I’m delighted to have poet, Regine Ebner all the way from Arizona, kick of the Tuesday Guest Feature on Patricia’s Pen for 2023. Regine is a favourite poet of mine and one of great inspiration with her wonderful imagery. She has come along to blog about her writing life so without further ado, let’s go over to Regine.

My Writing Life

Regine Ebner

Ever since my third grade teacher asked me to write the Thanksgiving class play, I was expected to be a writer. I went on to study creative writing in college and won awards. I co-authored a stage play, Minor Details, which was produced to be a sell-out to laughing crowds in Tucson. Later I wrote a screenplay and, although never produced, it won a couple of awards.

However, something was missing. I had long gaps between articles and journal chapters and, most of all, I had little personal satisfaction.That is, until I fell down the rabbit hole of the online Poetry Community in January of 2021 and wrote my first poem. Yes, first poem. I am not sure exactly why, but through all the college-short stories, plays, psychology articles for journals and etcetera, I had never written a single poem.

I think I thought poetry would be too serious for me as I love comedy, but now I’m not really sure what kept me away. I started my own school–still going, still teaching– which definitely took some time.

But now, I have fallen in love with the flights of poetry. I have always wanted to paint and, as I don’t possess that gift, these are my paintings.

Having the audience reception of the international poetry community and the generous encouragement of Matthew M. C. Smith and others is no small part of this writing renaissance.

It is not so much the attention but the fact that there is no vacuum, that our work will, in fact, be read, nearly every week on Top Tweet Tuesday.

I love the process of channeling beauty, of finding beauty and hope in nature and of building monuments out of words.

It has taken me a lifetime to find this perfect expression and I like to think that my early mentors and believers somehow now know that I am writing, I am publishing and I am loving the world of poetry. I thank them.

And I thank Patricia for offering me this stage on which to tell my never-before-told story. Thank you.

~~~

Check out Regine Ebner’s debut poetry pamphlet, Oxidized Pennies, published by Alien Buddha Press, and order HERE

About Regine Ebner

Regine is a teacher and writer in Tucson, Arizona. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and her chapbook, Oxidized Pennies, was recently released by Alien Buddha Press. She is always inspired by the light and landscape of the Sonoran Desert.

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Tuesday Guest Feature

Patricia’s Pen returns next week Tuesday 17th January 2023 with more guest features you won’t want to miss.

Poet Regine Ebner – January 17th 2023

Poet Damien Posterino – January 24th 2023

Novelist Judith Barrow – January 31st 2023

Novelist Mick Arnold – 7th February 2023

Poet Helen Laycock – 14th February 2023

Poet Alan Parry – 27th February 2023

And plenty more to come. Why not subscribe to Patricia’s Pen to make sure you never miss out on a Guest Feature?

Publishing News – 2022

As Patricia’s Pen is taking a short break from the Tuesday Guest Feature I thought I’d fill you in with what I’ve been doing over the year, my publishing successes, and updates on works in progress. 2022 has been fruitful. Both in publishing and getting words down on paper.

Poetry Publication Successes

Lady of the WoodsNoctivagant Press

Cygnet in Foreign Waters – Reach Magazine – Indigo Dreams Publishing

Wishing Stone – Reach Magazine – Indigo Dreams Publishing

Sindy SistersInk Drinkers Magazine

SquallThe Storms Journal

Abandoned – Flights – Flight of the dragonfly

Atys – Flights – Flight of the dragonfly

A Different Kind of LoveImpspired

Dance with meImpspired

White Lily – A Duet of Ghosts – Black Bough Poetry

Josie’s Snowman – Reach Magazine – Indigo Dreams Publishing

Winter Comforts – Christmas-Winter Vol III – Black Bough Poetry

Survival of a Lost Flamingo – Poetry Sequence consisting of four poems – Dreich 10

Hawaiian Nights – Third prize winner with Writing Magazine – Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Poetry Competition

Poetry Accepted but not yet published

Poems to be published in various anthologies with The Hedgehog Poetry Press

Perdita

Lola

Only a Girl

Breakaout

Revenge of the Rowan

Subterranean World

Stage Play

French Knickers – My first stage play published – a short monologue – Spellbinder Magazine

Short stories

Short Stories – shortlisted/longlisted

Seascape Children’s HomeWriters’ Forum (Shortlisted)

Forbidden SixpenceWensum Literary Magazine (Longlisted)

Novel News

Completed novels – Not yet published

The Oath – Late Victorian/Early Edwardian family saga – hopefully some publishing news in the first quarter of 2023 – Watch this space.

Bound by a 100-year-old oath, seventeen-year-old, Françoise Dubois is forced to leave France and marry an English baronet. Will she find true love and happiness?

The Oath has sequel potential.

Fractured – Set in the early nineteen seventies – family saga (Book 1 of 3) Watch this space

A year ago, all eighteen-year-old Rachel Webster had to worry about was keeping her mum and dad off her back. Nothing she did was right. Skirt too short. Friend a bad influence. Job not good enough. Then things spiralled.

Novel – Work in Progress

Fractured (2) – Title to be determined

Opening in 1977, re-join Rachel Webster and Peggy Davies in this gripping saga.

Poetry Collections in Progress

Embracing my Roots

Two cultures, Jewish and Irish, come together in poetry as I embrace my roots.

Patricia’s Pen Tuesday Guest Feature will return on 16th January 2023. Regine Ebner all the way from Arizona kicks the year off with poetry.

More guests lined up for 2023 include:

Novelist Judith Barrow

Poet Helen Laycock

Poet Alan Parry

Novelist Anita Chapman

Novelist Mick Arnold

Poet Merril Smith

Poet Nigel Kent

Poet Sue Finch

And lots more. Why not subscribe to the blog to ensure you never miss a guest feature?

Signed copies of all my books, poetry and novels, are available via my website shop HERE. Unfortunately signed novels are only available for posting in the UK.

If you prefer Kindle or outside of the UK then check out my Amazon Author Page HERE

All books may also be ordered via any good bookstore or ask your library to order them in if they don’t already stock it.

If you have read any of my books and enjoyed them, a brief review over on Amazon or Goodreads are really appreciated.



Solstice Blessings

Solstice Blessings to you all. And I know I do it every year, but here it is again, my poem, Sacred Tree to celebrate Winter Solstice. We can look forward to the days getting lighter.

Sacred Tree – Winter Solstice

In a subtle seduction,
Oak welcomes
Mistletoe’s seed.

Evening reddens
the sky as drums beat
to a crescendo.

Entering the grove of oaks,
wreath-crowned druids process
in gold, white, red,
clutching staffs.

One trails, bent,
a stringy silver beard falls
to his knees. He rings a bell.

Seers surround
the sun-god tree,
ivory candles ignite
one by one,
flames flit
in the breeze,
shadows flutter.

Drums mute.
Crickets chirp.
A snowy owl screeches
from a distant trunk.
Heads rise.
Deep breaths echo.

Priest, in white, ascends
the oak, unsheathes
the golden sickle strapped
to his back,
lops the stem
bearing milk berries.

Brothers clothed in gold catch
the twig in a cloak.

Drums pulsate,
beasts bellow,
eyes focus
on two white bulls
led by the horns.

A red-robed butcher
grips his blade, slits
one bull’s throat
and then the other.
Crimson gore spurts
into the vessels,
metallic stench rises.

Drums cease.

Mistletoe glazed
with bulls’ blood
is blessed, offered
before the altar.

Sun-god’s gift of semen
is embraced
by the earth goddess.


Sacred Tree was published in Ink Drinkers Poetry Magazine – Folklore (2021) and later in my poetry collection Spirit Mother: Experience the Myth published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press.

You can read more poems on folklore from Ink Drinkers Poetry HERE

And you can purchase a signed copy (limited edition) of Spirit Mother HERE

If you go to It’s About Time HERE you can find out more about the ancient ritual and see pictures.

Guest Feature – Flashback 3

Back in November I invited you to recap or visit guest features up to end of July 2022. Now Patricia’s Pen is back with more flashbacks, this time to the end of the year. Please re-visit the blogs or read for the first time.

Guest Features – Flashback 3

Kicking Flashback 3 off for August 2022 was Lucy Heuschen with the launch of We Wear The Crown. Through poetry Lucy shares her breast cancer journey with the reader. This collection is a must read.

Read Lucy Heuschen’s blog here

Next up for August was Damien B Donnelly blogging about his Parisian experience in his brand new collection Enough! Don’t miss a second chance to have a read.

Read Damien B Donnelly’s blog here

September 2022 opened with Kate Rose and her new release Brushstrokes. Kate takes her inspiration from her surroundings. Nature, both the natural world and human nature, has a fascination for her, and most of her poems are based around how one reflects on another.

Read Kate Rose’s blog here

Next in September came Raine Geoghegan blogging about her brand-new collection Talking Sticks. Raine writes about her Romany heritage.

Read Raine Geoghegan’s blog here

Kicking off October 2022 on Patricia’s Pen was Matthew M C Smith chatting about his new release The Keeper of Aeons. Prompts and themes given by publishing houses get Matthew focused on writing when life is hectic.

Read Matthew M C Smith’s blog here

Next up in October was Paul Brookes with his new release Paul Brookes As FolktaleTeller. Fascinated by folklore, Paul sets himself writing challenges.

Read Paul Brooke’s blog here

The final guest feature for October 2022 on Patricia’s Pen was duo Kerry Derbishire and Kelly Davis with their poetry collaboration Glory Days. Two Cumbrian women with different poetic voices and style come together to write about their mothers.

Read Kerry Derbishire’s and Kelly Davis’s blog here

In November 2022 Patricia’s Pen featured crime noir fiction author Joy Wood on the launch of her novel Secrets and Lives. Joy Wood strives with each novel to create a narrative that invites the reader into a captivating, engaging and menacing world. 

Read Joy Wood’s blog here

Next up in November 2022 with a brand new poetry release Nights on the Line was M S Evans. M S Evans derives inspiration not only from walking but can be triggered by a phrase, observation of colour, relationships, or an emotion.


Read M S Evan’s blog here

Rosemary Gemmell kicked off December 2022 on Patricia’s Pen when she blogged about her children’s books. Rosemary won her first competition with a story for Under 7s, called Jeremy Jones in the Jungle.

Read Rosemary Gemmell’s blog here

My final guest feature for 2022 came from Lynette Creswell on the launch of Hoglets’ Birthday Surprise. As a writer Lynette wants to continue engaging with her readers and leave a lasting impression.

Read Lynette Creswell’s blog here

~~~

Guest features to come in 2023

Regine Ebner (Poet)

Judith Barrow (Novelist)

Mick Arnold (Novelist)

Helen Laycock (Poet)

Alan Parry (Poet)

Joanna Lambert (Novelist)

Anita Chapman (Novelist)

Meryl Smith (Poet)

Nigel Kent (Poet)

Sue Finch (Poet)

And lots more – Why not subscribe to the site to ensure you never miss a guest feature?