It’s a pleasure to invite children’s author, Lynette Creswell, back to Patricia’s Pen to chat about the hoglets. Without further ado, it’s over to Lynette.
Hoglets’ Christmas Magic
Hi, I’m Lynette and I’ve been writing for over thirty years. Having suffered a dysfunctional childhood, I was compelled from an early age to write stories which took me to another place. I created mythical realms and magical creatures influenced by stories such as the Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair, written by Enid Blyton.
Since moving to Lincolnshire in 2000 I’ve written six novels and a compilation of short stories. I’ve published four fantasy books and two romance novels although Hoglets’ Christmas Magic is my first ever children’s story.
I’ve always enjoyed writing for children. I used to write for my own children when they were small. It gave me such a buzz to see their eyes light up when they realised they were one of my characters. My husband could see how much joy writing gave me and bought a laptop.
I didn’t write the story about the hoglets with the intention of turning them into a book. I wrote Hoglets’Christmas Magic as a free read a couple of years ago for my blog. I uploaded the Christmas freebie and the response was phenomenal. I received a mountain of messages and emails from parents and grandparents asking when the hoglets were due to be published. Overwhelmed by the response, (and a hard push from a dear friend) I took the plunge. It’s been no easy feat to publish Hoglets’ Christmas Magic. It’s taken blood, sweat and a pandemic to turn the hoglets into a beautifully illustrated paperback.
What can readers enjoy from the book?
Hoglets’ Christmas Magic is a heart-warming tale about two adorable hedgehogs who save Christmas for a little girl. It’s a book to read on Christmas Eve or when you’d like ‘special quality time’ with your little ones.
The book’s already a huge hit with parents and teachers. One primary school teacher tweeted… ‘Gather your children, curl up by the fire, sip hot chocolate and enjoy a story that will make your heart glow.’
A headmistress of another school emailed and said… ‘I wish my children were little again so I could read them such a delightful and uplifting story.’
Prickles and Primrose are excited. That is until… As they decorate the Christmas tree they discover the star for the top has shattered. Not to be defeated – the brave hoglets set out into the wood to seek a substitute star but stumble across Santa instead.
What adventure will they encounter?
AND… what about the star?
If you love Winnie the Pooh you’ll fall in love with the hoglets, Prickles and Primrose, from Briar Wood
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Read books in the same genre you’re writing. This is key to success. Check out works by similar authors and note their style, motives, flow, and even their vocabulary. Look what’s current and what sells. Know your market and you’ll be one step ahead.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
Writing is escapism. The moment I put pen to paper I’m in another world, another time, another place. Writing is captivating and crafting something new is a wonderful feeling. I enjoy creating new characters and watching them grow. Writing is rewarding too.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Please tell your friends, family, schools, hairdresser, window cleaner … anyone who’s willing to listen. Word of mouth is still the best way to make a book successful.
Buy Hoglets’ Christmas Magic as a gift.
Leave a review on Amazon so others can see how much you enjoyed the hoglets. Hardly anyone buys a book without reading reviews. I know I don’t. Hoglets’ Christmas Magic
What is your next project?
If the hoglets are successful, I’ll write another story about them. Last summer I wrote three chapter books so if readers are keen to take the hedgehogs to their hearts, there’s more.
Order your copy of Hoglets’ Christmas Magic Here.
About Lynette Creswell
Lynette was born in London, but raised in Burnley, Lancashire. From the tender age of five she lived with her grandmother who gave her books to keep her quiet. Lynette found she had a passion for reading and started writing once she began school. Lynette’s inspiration came from childhood books written by Enid Blyton. The Enchanted Wood and The Faraway Tree were her first taste of fantasy. In adulthood, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series captured her own vivid imagination. Her first novel Sinners of Magic won her acclaim and the story soon turned into a trilogy. With readers begging for more Lynette ended the series with a spin off story featuring a windigo.
Wishing to be a multi-genre author, Lynette turned her pen to romance. Her two novels: Cracks in the Glass and Two Kinds of Truth were a huge hit with readers.
Returning to her love of short story writing, Lynette entered the 2019 SWWJ (Society of Women Writers and Journalists) competition. A Slice of Cake – a light-hearted story about her five-year-old granddaughter came runner up.
Lynette lives in North East Lincolnshire with her husband. All her grandchildren are the apple of her eye.
Find out more about Lynette Creswell and all her books HERE
Cancer has touched most of us in one form or another and it is for this reason that Maureen Cullen and I came together to write a conversation in poetry with the view to donate all proceeds to Cancer ResearchUK.
My guest today is a returning guest to Patricia’s Pen. Valerie Poore visited earlier in the year to talk about her memoirs. She’s back to let you know more about her novel writing. Without further ado, it’s over to Valerie.
Getting creative with the truth
First of all, many thanks to Patricia for letting me loose on her blog again. Back in April, I wrote about writing memoirs, which is what I mostly do. But what isn’t widely known is that I’ve also written two novels—well, sort of.
To be honest, I’ve cheated a bit as I’ve chosen the easiest and most liberating way of writing fiction. How? Because both my novels are largely fact.
Let me explain.
Unlike most real novelists, I can’t say I chose my genre; neither of my books falls into any particular category. I just wrote them because I didn’t have enough material to write non-fiction.
My first novel was The Skipper’s Child, a cat and mouse adventure set on the European waterways. The story’s main character is Arie Kornet, the son of a commercial barge skipper. The secondary characters are his family: his father, mother and two sisters. Then there’s a young Russian stowaway and a small host of sinister characters who are after the luckless Russian for reasons I won’t go into here.
But why did I write this story in the first place? Well, my Dutch partner really is a skipper’s child. He grew up on a barge travelling through Europe in the 60s. When we met, he told me numerous fascinating anecdotes about his early life, including snippets about his father’s wartime activities. I was so intrigued by these stories I wanted to write about them, but I knew there weren’t enough tales for a biography. So I decided to weave them into a plot of my own making.
The Kornets are my interpretation of my partner’s family. To me, they are real actors in a fictional drama. Their way of life, their routines and how they interact with each other are all based on my partner’s memories. The plot—being that of the family’s efforts to help the young stowaway—is pure invention. For me, it was a gift to be able to write the adventure in which these ‘real’ characters took part.
But what about my other novel, How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics? In a nutshell, this is a story I created around my own life as a smallholder in England’s West Country, after leaving university.
The main character, Maisie, is fictitious, while all the others are based on composites of people in my past. The animals, though, are completely real; so are the scrapes they get Maisie into. As for the plot, it is my fantasy of how I’d have loved my farming life to develop. And that’s where writing it as a novel was so liberating; I could simply recreate my own life. It was huge fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I’m now writing another novel, and again it’s based on my own life, this time in South Africa. In fact, by combining my real-life experience with creative fiction, I’m cheerfully rewriting history. I have to say it’s both exciting and stimulating, and I’m loving it!
Valerie has a special promotion on for her books at 99p/99c – Pop over and grab yourself a bargain on the following links:
Val Poore was born and raised in England but at the end of 1981, she moved to South Africa where she and her family lived for nearly twenty years. She adored South Africa, but had to return to Europe in 2001. Since then, she’s been working as a freelance ESL writing skills teacher in the Netherlands. Val shares her time between a 120-year-old barge in Rotterdam and a cottage in Zeeland, both of which seem to take an inordinate amount of time to maintain. As a distraction from teaching, she writes and has written a total of eleven books.
My guest on Patricia’s Pen today is a lovely author all the way from Itlay, Nina Romano, who has recently released The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley. Wow. What a fabulous cover. Nina has come along to chat about What’s in a Chapter. Without further ado, let’s go over to Nina.
What’s in a Chapter?
I want to seduce you with my words! Here’s what I try to do with every chapter I write. The first line and the last line of each chapter that graces one of my novels, I try to make a zinger. By that I mean I want those lines to entice the reader to continue reading the next sentence, the next chapter. The first sentence is a coax, an invitation, a temptation, a challenge, a lure to beguile and charm the reader to read on.
It is the first sentence that either speeds up the action or slows it down, but even slowing down the pace, doesn’t mean: ho-hum, boring, and putting the reader to sleep. First of all, it’s a continuation of where I left off on the preceding chapter before it, but it’s also the broadening of the story canvas presenting scenes with colorful and imaginative writing. Diverse combinations from my palette add bold strokes to the narrative. I change up the sentence structure. Invert grammar to suit my needs. I write one word sentences. I avoid adverbs and adjectives like the proverbial Corona virus and use strong nouns and verbs.
The first line can be a declarative sentence, seemingly a calm indication of time and space, but it can also be a question, dialogue, or an inflammatory revelation. The first line should always indicate if there is a shift in setting and especially POV. I’ve written several books in 1st person and 3rd person POV attached. In all of my novels, I make sure that these switches are clear.
Ask any poet, like Patricia M Osborne or myself, about line breaks and we’ll tell you that in a poem it’s important to leave off on a strong word. Never end a poetic line with an article of speech, or a weak word, or a conjunction. Why? To lead the reader to continue to the next line. It is the same in fiction: the author must escort and beckon the reader to read on with suggestive prose. At least, this author surely tries to enchant and enthrall.
Between the first and the last lines, I include compelling material—a risk, a quandary, a problem that creates tension for the main character to solve. Each chapter must contain the character’s motivations. The scenes are painted with dialogue and action, but also the six senses—that’s right—not just the five we’re born with, but also a sixth sense. This can be many things, including the character’s intuition. The sixth sense enriches each chapter. It needn’t be in every chapter, but it’s a neat little thing to store in your bag of writerly tricks. It can be: a hunch, feeling, inkling, suspicion, perception. The intuitive character might use a technique of internal dialogue to determine the outcome of a struggle. He/she might write a note, a poem, a letter, or a message which becomes a quick flash fiction within the fictive tale. There’s nothing like a story within a story!
There are so many things I explore in a chapter—a character’s actions—what are the causes and effects of these? Cause and effect are both issues I like to include here and there. Almost like Hansel and Gretel dropping bread along the paths in the forest to enable them to find the way back. I also alternate between long and short chapters, which are comprised of exciting, heart-wrenching, or calming prose rendered poetically and lyrically, or brutally frank and even shocking.
One thing this writer aims for is the “cliffhanger” at the end of the chapter, or perhaps an unresolved question, or a new problem. The purpose of this is to make the reader want to turn the page.
About Nina Romano
Nina Romano earned a B.S. from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University and a B.A. and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. A world traveler and lover of history, she lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She has taught English and Literature as an Adjunct Professor at St. Thomas University, Miami, and has facilitated numerous Creative Writing and Poetry Workshops at Writing Conferences throughout the States.
Romano has authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has had five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks published traditionally with independent publishers. She co-authored a nonfiction book: Writing in a Changing World, and has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.
Nina Romano’s historical Wayfarer Trilogy has been published from Turner Publishing. The Secret Language of Women, Book #1, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalistand Gold Medal winner of the Independent Publisher’s 2016 IPPY Book Award. Lemon Blossoms, Book # 2, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist, and In America, Book #3, was a finalist in Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards.
Her Western Historical Romance, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley is a semifinalist for the Laramie Book Awards.
Her novel, Dark Eyes, an historical thriller set in Soviet Russia, is forthcoming in 2022 from Speaking Volumes, LLC.
Today is a special day as my writing bestie Suzi Bamblett launches her excellent psychological thriller novel Three Faced Doll. You won’t want to miss this. Here’s Suzi to tell you a bit more.
Three Faced Doll
Monday 15th November is ‘I Love to Write Day’ and a fitting day to launch my second novel, Three Faced Doll.
As usual I’ve channelled my favourite author, Daphne du Maurier: “Every one of us has his, or her, dark side. Which is to overcome the other?”
Daphne often delved into the dark side of her psyche when writing. This can be seen in her novel, The Scapegoat and her short story, Don’t Look Now.
In another novel The Parasites, Daphne created three main characters representing different facets of herself: “Maria, Niall, Celia were the three people I know myself to have been.”
Daphne acknowledged this novel had autobiographical elements. The work of the creative writer often does.
I came to know Daphne better during the writing of a dissertation for my MA in Creative Writing at Brighton University. It’s where Patricia and I met and studied together. We’ve been ‘besties’ ever since.
My guest author Jeanette Taylor Ford has come along to Patricia’s Pen to talk about her River View Series and how she came to write crime. Without further ado it’s over to Jeanette.
How I came to Write Crime
Jeanette Taylor Ford
My stories are often inspired by old buildings. Many years ago, I lived in Hereford in a whattle-and-daub, black and white farmhouse which is about four hundred years old.
I loved it and decided to write a book based around it, intending it to be a gentle mystery – ghostly footsteps and other mysterious things happening to scare off the new owner of the house, Lucy. I’d intended it to be a one-off. But as soon as I finished writing it, a new story came into my mind and it began with an old skeleton being dug up in one of Lucy’s fields.
Before I knew it, I was writing about a crime investigation, featuring the two detectives who had solved the mystery of the strange goings-on in Lucy’s house. By the Gate is still quite a gentle story, and introduces more of the characters who would feature in subsequent books. Suddenly, I was writing a series.
The third book involves a more dangerous criminal, a gangland boss, whose interest fell upon the village of Sutton-on-Wye because of a certain incident involving a teenager, bringing danger to a resident of the village. Books four and five followed fairly rapidly. I’m currently writing book six, which features the nursing and care home in the village.
The problem I have is, they don’t at first glance seem to be a series; their titles are vastly diffierent, as are the covers. They also can’t be described as either thrillers or cosy crime. What are they? I don’t know. But people do like them and for that I’m grateful. At the moment, I intend for book seven to be the last in the series, but who knows?
About Jeanette Taylor Ford
In 2010, Jeanette began to write poetry, followed by short stories. She’d always been an avid reader and loved writing, although her writing experience throughout the years was mainly writing letters to her parents, grandmother and sister. She’d write many pages and they were always excitedly received. Eventually, her mentor encouraged her to write a book, The Sixpenny Tiger. She thought that was ‘it’, that was the book she had in her and there wouldn’t be another one. But she found she’d been bitten by the writing bug and very soon, in the first year of her retirement in 2012/13, she wrote four more books.
My guest on Patricia’s Pen is the lovely Elizabeth M Hurst. I first met Elizabeth at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School back in 2016. I love her novels and I’m sure her new one, A Light Shines in Darkness, will be no exception. The cover alone draws me in. Elizabeth is not only a writer but also an editor and today she has come along to chat about her Life Change. Without further ado, let’s go over to Elizabeth.
My Life Change
Elizabeth M Hurst
The last few years have been something of a whirlwind for me. I’ve never been the kind of person who sits around waiting for life to happen. In 2015-16, I had a particularly stressful year at work which, coupled with other things, led to a bout of anxiety and clinical depression. Once I had started to recover, I knew it was time to make a change in my life.
I had already begun to proofread for fellow writers on a casual basis and I found the process thoroughly enjoyable, so I decided to make it official and started my business, EMH Editorial Services. After training with the then Society for Editors and Proofreaders (now the CIEP) I began to ramp up activity and marketed my skills in earnest.
The first year was tough. I had to keep my job for a little while longer, in order to pay the bills, but the long working days and commuting took its toll and meant I was often too tired to proofread in the evenings, so had to reserve it for weekends instead. However, it is intense work, not something you can feasibly do to a high standard for more than six hours per day, and this restricted the amount of work I could take on. I had reached a tipping point.
It was the summer of 2018 when I hung up my safety shoes for the last time, and concentrated all my efforts on editing fiction. Now I had complete freedom about when – and where – to work. All I needed was a decent internet connection and I could be literally anywhere in the world. I chose to resurrect my French language skills from school and after two days of driving with the most unbelievable feline hullabaloo from the back seat, I arrived in the far south, just 15km from the Mediterranean coast and about 10km from the Spanish border.
It is a stunningly beautiful region, rich with cultural heritage. Over the centuries it has seen bloody battles for dominance, from both French and Spanish armies, and was part of the independent state of Catalonia until its fall in 1714. There is much inspiration, and I can’t wait to get stuck into studying the history more deeply as I research my next novel.
There are things I miss about the corporate life, mainly the camaraderie of an office environment, but they are heavily outweighed by the enormous pleasure and privilege I have from working with talented authors, helping them to bring out the best in their stories.
This summer, my partner came over here to live, and we have just moved to a bigger house with a garden. It’s now time for me to slow down, to relax in our new home, and to enjoy life.
C’est la vie, as they say in these parts!
About Elizabeth M Hurst
Elizabeth was born and bred in the picturesque harbour town of Whitehaven in the northwest of England, where the long, wet winters moulded her into a voracious reader of fiction to escape the dismal weather.
Having started writing around the age of 40, she later set about creating a freelance editing and proofreading business, EMH Editorial Services. In 2018, she quit the corporate world and concentrated her energy towards her love of the written word.
Elizabeth now lives with her partner in the warm and sunny south of France.
To find out more about Elizabeth and her books, go HERE to her website.
I thought I’d give you a couple of spooky pieces today for Halloween – a little bit of flash fiction and a poem. Hope you enjoy them. The flash fiction is a very old piece, in fact probably one of the first pieces of flash fiction I wrote. See what you think. The poem Witches’ Exhibition is one of my favourites and was published in Magic (Gloucester Poetry Festival Anthology 2019)