It’s always wonderful to be approached by a blogger to talk about my books but particularly when this request has come all the way from St Louis. This was the case when Christal Ann Rice Cooper invited me on to her busy and established blog to talk about the background of a poem, and a poem that I had found emotive to write. For this I chose Soulmates which is included in my debut poetry pamphlet Taxus Baccata. Pop over and take a read and if you fancy a copy of Taxus Baccata – for a limited period the price for the print and pdf versions have been reduced starting from £1.99. You can order a signed copy or the electronic copy via my website HERE.
My Tuesday guest this week is the lovely Vic Pickup who has come along to chat about her poetry, including her debut poetry collection, Lost & Found, published by the awesome Hedgehog Poetry Press. Without further ado, it’s over to Vic.
About my Poetry
My poems are born from the need to extract some great philosophical meaning from everything in life. Character flaws have played a part too, as I’m an overthinker and also a bit nosey, which I consider two attributes crucial to anyone considering being a writer.
I have always loved poetry – from discovering Michael Rosen at primary school, to dissecting the classics at secondary. I was blessed to have several teachers who had a passion for literature and the enthusiasm to make it contagious. I went on to study at Loughborough University, where I stayed to do an MA in Creative Writing. After that I worked for trade magazines and then became a freelance writer before stopping when I had my second child.
I returned to poetry in 2018 after a decade in which I produced little – largely because I was preoccupied with having children but also had a bit of a self-belief crash. A writer friend suggested we set up a creative writing group which caused me to reboot, and has led to a great many things, including the publication of my pamphlet Lost & Found from Hedgehog Press last year.
I write largely free-verse poems which are accessible and, I hope, relatable. They tend to pore over a small instance or thing, lending lessons learned to other areas of life. Lost & Found contains thirteen poems drawn together by two I wrote at the start of the pandemic, which focus upon things sacrificed and gained at this time, some personal and others applicable to many. I found I had an abundance of poetry focused upon this theme. Hence, a neat bundle emerged which portrayed a journey of sorts – moving through hardship and grief, but emerging with strength. I hope the content will resonate with readers and the ultimate aftertaste is one of gratitude and hope.
Ideas tend to hit me at random and if I don’t scribble them down on the back of a receipt or my hand then they are lost. My best work tends to just pour out and requires few alterations before I’m happy, others take a significant amount of editing over time. My process and style are changing all the time as I challenge myself more – I am enjoying exploring form in particular at the moment and seeing how poems work when held by a set structure.
For me, writing goes hand in hand with processing the stuff of life, understanding myself better and creative expression which is essential for well-being. Whether I churn out a bundle of nonsense which goes into the bin the next day or write something of publishable quality, poetry is of great value to me, as is the community which supports the genre as a whole.
About Vic Pickup
Vic Pickup is a previous winner of the Café Writers and Cupid’s Arrow Competitions, and shortlisted for the National Poetry Day #speakyourtruth prize on YouTube last year. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies, magazines and online, recently published by Mslexia, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Poetry Village and Reach Poetry. Lost & Found is Vic’s debut pamphlet, published by Hedgehog Poetry Press and featuring Pushcart-nominated poem ‘Social Distancing’. She is currently working on her first full collection
Thank you, Nigel Kent, for a fabulous review on The Montefiore Bride. Do pop over to Nigel’s website and check it out. If you like what you read, please consider purchasing a signed copy as all proceeds go to help the homeless at Crawley Open House.
Congratulations to my guest, Sally Trueman Dicken, as she launches her debut novel The Memory Tin. I met Sally at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Sally has come along to ‘Patricia’s Pen’ to chat about her writing so without further ado…
My Writing Journey
Sally Trueman Dicken
I was brought up in a world of books. Both parents were avid readers, passing down the joy of diving into another world. I can remember imagining myself in The Secret Garden or sailing off to Treasure Island. I progressed to Mary Stewart’s romantic mysteries and thence onto crime and romance in the adult world. Funnily enough I never considering writing stories myself. I think it was the attraction of escaping from reality that lured me in.
What got me going as a writer was studying for a degree in history as a mature student at Bath Spa University. All the work that seemed bothersome whilst at school was now a pleasure as I wrote essays and spent hours researching. I revelled in the exciting life of being a full-time student and having long discussions with other students. I made so many friends and reading their essays showed me how many different ways there was to tackle a subject which was very helpful when I came to writing fiction.
When I gained my degree, I was going to train as a teacher but a sudden up surge in family life did not allow the time required and so I studied part-time for an MA in Irish history. Putting pen to paper became a habit I could not give up. I started writing down ideas on any notebook to hand. I would study my shopping list in the supermarket and find it was on the back of an idea for a tale with a twist.
After attending various writing groups, I discovered the world of writers’ weeks with marvellous speakers explaining how they wrote their novels. It was here I heard about Lulu self-publishing and thought I’m going to publish my own book. Ten years ago, I wrote my very first chapter and synopsis for my novel, inspired by a ‘what-if moment’ in my family chronicles set against the background of my home-town which is steeped in history going back to the Domesday Book. The novel was a time-slip story, and I had no idea about how complicated this would be. I battled on and changed chapters, tried various systems of constructing the novel, with cards, time sheets, on the computer, writing it by hand and listening to it on Kindle’s text to speech. I have put it away in despair and pulled it out many times over the years, whilst I wrote short stories for The Peoples Friend and dealt with an expanding family.
It was Covid that nearly made me give up and Covid that gave me the time to pull myself together to complete the process of self-publishing, aided by a helpful mentor for the technology bits which nearly defeated me. What else was I going to do with the self-isolation and endless time on my hands. And so, at the age of 72, I will be proud to present my very first novel. I have great plans for several more books in the pipeline.
About Sally Trueman Dicken
Sally Trueman Dicken lives with her husband in Somerset, surrounded by grandchildren of various ages and dogs. When not restricted by Covid, she enjoys walking in the countryside and by the sea. She is an insatiable reader both on Kindle and in books. She is interested in history of all sorts and wildlife. She enjoys being a matriarch of a large tribe and solving problems. If she won the Lottery, she would found a home for discarded animals and people.
If an overloaded lorry carrying debris from a demolished workhouse threw a battered old tin at your feet, would you pick it up and carry it home to discover the contents? Grieving widow, Lizzy did just that and her mad impulse turned her world upside down.
When Lizzy carried the old tin home in a doggy bag, she did not expect it to contain anything of value despite the initials scratched on the front. Once opened, the surprizing contents, hidden one hundred years ago, start her on a quest to discover more about the owner of this tin full of memories. The journey to trace the history of the tin and the valiant young woman nursing in WW1 and her Canadian soldier suitor, forces Lizzy to emerge from her lethargy and to make new friends whilst she re-evaluates her own life and decides to make changes. A chance encounter with a woman with a tale to tell sends Lizzy in the right direction when all other research has failed. A roller-coaster of emotions follows all her discoveries until at last the past is laid to rest.
As the decades passed, the little tin lost its shine. All sorts of debris gathered under the floorboards of the ancient building. The blue enamel grew dingy and rusty spots appeared. Eventually only fragments of the white lilies-of-the-valley and bright blue forget-me-knots remained. Dents and scratches occurred as various furry creatures crept over the tin scrabbling with their tiny paws. Severe flooding one winter turned the basement into a swirling pool of mud that encased the tin when the waters seeped away. Luckily the tiny tin was watertight and guarded its secret well.
Inside the contents were intact – the memories of a wartime romance were preserved for posterity, protected from the world outside. A moment in time rested in this shell waiting to see daylight again.
Decades passed. Technology took over. Changes were made. Old buildings were pulled down and one day the little tin saw daylight again. It was destined for the council tip until it was rescued and opened. The secrets of the wartime lovers were about to be exposed.
Would this small tin get its chance to reveal hidden history?
It’s always a joy to get a good review and hear that a reader has enjoyed my book but particularly when the review comes from the talented, Brian McManus, a fellow poet published by the awesome Hedgehog Poetry Press.
Patricia M Osborne is a popular, an accomplished, and a widely published writer contributing to our arts and culture in a variety of ways and forms, and it was with some anticipation that I set aside the time to read and hereby comment on her book of nature poetry, Taxus Baccata from the Hedgehog Poetry Press.
Nature poetry it certainly is but poetry which is endowed with such elemental qualities that it imbues the reader with an innate sense of satisfaction and furnishes them with an eloquent inspiration which carries them through the book and beyond. In terms of line and stanza structure Osborne’s academic background shines through but in a manner which repeatedly delights and surprises.
The poetry is populated by a plethora of interesting characters, stories and sub-stories which offer a sense of inclusiveness and belonging to the reader but without the sometimes overpowering use of tired metaphor which sometimes diminishes much of contemporary nature poetry.
The language is crisp, fresh and emboldens the reader to search out the little mysteries and surprises which are sometimes teased in a conciliatory sense between the lines. There is a sense of the primordial below the surface here which all good nature poetry ought to possess and the rhythm is not metric rhythm but rhythm of the earth.
A complete lack of artifice completes the package and it is underlined by a real sense of the simplicity which is missing from our current world. For me, the unwritten promise of this volume is that it will have you quickly searching out more of the same. It is that kind of writing.
Brian McManus, Poet , Essayist, Reviewer, Researcher.
Thank you Brian for that wonderful review. Remember if you have read and enjoyed a book of mine, or from any writer, a review is always welcome. It doesn’t have to be an essay, a short, ‘I liked/loved it’ will suffice.
If any of my readers fancy a signed copy of Taxus Baccata – order via my online shop here – also available as a pdf for only £2.99. Pay safe and securely via PayPal.
My guest today, Julie Anne Rudd, is an author and poet. Julie has come along to ‘Patricia’s Pen’ to chat about her writing career. Without further ado, let’s go over to Julie.
History of my Writing
Julia Anne Rudd
I have always loved reading and wanted to be a writer since I was eleven. After failing my 11-plus, and going to secondary school, I discovered essay writing. Initially, I struggled with essay writing, but thanks to my father’s guidance, I finally mastered it and never looked back.
In my early teens I aspired to become a journalist. Following my secondary education, I enrolled on a college course, serving indentures on the Middlesex County Times in West London. During my journalist career I reported on newspapers in Surrey, Sussex and Kent, writing everything from court reports and features to entertainment columns and property news. I also trained in sub-editing, relishing headline writing and page design and loved working alongside printers in hot metal newspaper production.
My lifelong ambition was to write a book, but with such a busy career I didn’t get round to it until I retired several years ago, when I moved to Devon with my second husband, Chris. In 2017 I published my debut book; a comedy mystery, The Hippies of Haggleby Hall.
The Hippies of Haggleby Hall tells the story of when my first husband, Bob, and I bought a run-down country mansion in Sussex with friends back in 1986. We wanted to renovate it while raising our families – and it proved a rollercoaster journey! I wrote as Belinda Flowers, with husband Tom, and friends, Mike and Amanda, who I named Cameron and Miranda Maclaren. With us was Mike’s feisty mum, Olive (Granny Grace in the book), without whom we could not have afforded our dream home.
Many people regarded us with scepticism including the locals, who, believing us hippies, inspired my book title.
My book characters are fictionalised (though there’s no escaping the real “us”) and some of their shenanigans are, shall we say, exaggerated, though much is true. There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but we did have fun!
The plot has a chilling mystery running through it, partly based on the mansion’s history and partly on a happening in my journalism days. The book is written as a tribute to Bob, who, sadly, succumbed to lung cancer, and to our friends, who remain part of our extended family.
I also enjoy writing poetry and, in The Hippies of Haggleby Hall, Belinda Flowers joins a young mums’ poetry group. Some of Belinda’s verses are included in my debut poetry book, Female Facets – Poems Celebrating Womanhood, published earlier this year. It is described by award-winning author Tania Crosse (RNA 2020 Romantic Saga Award) as:
“A lovely collection of musings on Womanhood, full of laughter, tears, poignancy and delight.”
My readers keep asking for a sequel to The Hippies of Haggleby Hall so I am now busy writing: ‘Team Spirits – the race is on to save Haggleby Hall’. This time, the friends, facing bankruptcy, launch a whacky business venture, while new hope of a valuable landscape under the stairs saving the day is dashed when the painting goes missing.
My goal is to publish the sequel later this year…so watch this space as they say in the newspaper industry.
About Julie Anne Rudd
Northampton born Julie Anne Rudd was a provincial journalist, training in West London and working most of her life in Surrey, Sussex and Kent. A versatile writer, she has had countless articles published and her poetry has appeared in several anthologies. Having retired with her second husband to Devon several years ago, she is busy writing a sequel to her first novel; another comedy mystery called, ‘Team Spirits -The Race is On to Save Haggleby Hall’. It continues her fictionalised story of her life in the Eighties and Nineties, when she and her first husband shared a dilapidated, Sussex country mansion with unconventional friends.
I’m sure by now you’re aware that The Granville Legacy is coming soon. Katrina Marie has just finished reading Book 1 in the trilogy, House of Grace, and has written a review over on her website. If you haven’t read House of Grace yet, check out what Katrina has to say. If after reading Katrina’s review you fancy reading House of Grace, pop over to Amazon and download FREE with kindle Unlimited – or £1.99 on Kindle – paperback also available. Signed paperbacks available via my online shop.
It’s a very exciting day for Suzi, and a proud day for me as her friend, as she launches her debut novel The Travelling Philanthropist. The Travelling Philanthropist not only has a beautiful cover but a wonderful, exciting story inside. Without further ado it’s over to Suzi.
My Writing Journey
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved books, quickly progressing from Enid Blyton, through Agatha Christie and on to Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca was the book that made me want to write and I began each teenage summer holiday with a new notebook and pen. Then life got in the way – exams, work, boyfriend, marriage, children…
Reading was still my passion but my writing had to wait patiently on the shelf.
While my children were young, I studied with the Open University and, after completing my Bachelor of Arts, went on to do a PGCE at Canterbury Christchurch. Whilst there, I was asked to research a topic that drew together my two teaching subjects, Religious Education and Mathematics (a weird combo I know). I chose to focus on calendars and became fascinated with the shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar resulting in eleven missing days in 1752.
I spent the next twenty-three years teaching, my writing taking a back seat as a holiday pastime. However, my interest in the Gregorian calendar stayed with me and led me to research the Georgian period. One summer I stumbled across the real-life story of Jonas Hanway, alleged trailblazer of the umbrella, and the seeds were sown. This curious philanthropist triggered the inspiration for my fictional character, Janus Gregory, and his work at the Foundling Hospital became the backdrop for my novel, The Travelling Philanthropist.
Finally, after taking early retirement from teaching, I had time for my writing. I studied for my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton (which is where I met my good friend, Tricia).
Daphne du Maurier has always been part of my writing life. Her Cornish novels inspired the location for my YA story, The Changeling, The House on the Strand piqued a life-long interest in time travel, as exemplified in my time slip novel, and Don’t Look Now and The Scapegoat fed my fascination with the uncanny, triggering two of my current works in progress, Three Faced Doll and Prescient Spirit. As you can tell, I have a number of novels in the pipeline, but my loyalty lay with my first born, hence the launch of The Travelling Philanthropist as my debut novel. I hope you enjoy it.
The Travelling Philanthropist – a time-slip novel.
Searching for a lost child… but can she find herself in time?
Would-be journalist Anna Stratton is estranged from her adoptive parents and living with her boyfriend. But something is missing.
Anna’s world fractures when she’s catapulted back in time. Here, in the eighteenth century, she meets philanthropist Janus Gregory and together they embark on a quest for a lost foundling. But Anna soon discovers life in Georgian London is fraught with danger and not everyone has her best interests at heart.
Meanwhile, in the contemporary world, Anna’s parallel existence unravels.
Will Anna locate the child?
Can she find herself in time?
Sliding Doors meets The House on the Strand.
Suzi has provided a teaser for The Travelling Philanthropist below but first, let’s find out a little more about her.
About Suzi Bamblett
Suzi Bamblett lives with her partner, Colin, in Crowborough, East Sussex. A self-confessed chameleon, she is sister, mother, granny, teacher, creative and last but not least, an author. Suzi writes psychological thrillers and suspense stories for adults and young adults. She’s a huge fan of Daphne du Maurier and her Imagined Dialogue with Daphne can be found on the Daphne du Maurier website. Suzi’s writing has been published in literary magazines and anthologies. The Travelling Philanthropist is her debut novel. Her second novel, Pearl Seekers will be released later in 2021.
The young woman stumbles along cobbled streets clutching a precious bundle to her breast. Emerging from the fog, she faces the black iron gates of the convent. Gently she lowers the child into the casket but can’t let go. With a sob, she snatches him back up. Not yet. Bowing her head, she inhales his new-born scent.
Behind her, in the shadows, the man waits.
The woman looks over her shoulder. Is someone watching? Her eyes are drawn back to her child. Still she hesitates. Although the casket is lined with cloth, the wind is biting.
‘’Tis a cold night,’ the man says.
With a cry, she spins round.
‘It is after midnight.’ He sighs. ‘The nuns all a’ bed until morning prayers.’
She stares at him. From tricorn hat to polished shoe buckles, every inch the gentleman.
‘Even if the child should survive the night, he may not be given a place at the Foundling Hospital.’ The man steps closer. ‘The weekly lottery is tomorrow. If a black ball is drawn, they have no choice but to dispose of him. They are reluctant to take a child when they have no details of the mother, especially if he is sickly and weakened by a night out in the cold.’
The woman stands uncertain, her arms wrapped tightly around her child.
‘I can help you,’ the man continues. ‘I know someone who will take good care of him. It is a boy, is it not?’
‘Yes.’ She finds her voice at last. ‘Yes, my son.’
‘He will be well looked after. Trust me.’
What choice does she have? She cannot return to her place of work with the child; they’ll both end up on the streets. A sob escapes her as she thrusts the baby into the arms of the man. ‘Here, take him. God bless you, sir.’ She turns, her footsteps echoing as she disappears into the smog.
With the child under his black cloak, the man strides back to the waiting carriage.
Want to know more? You can purchase The Travelling Philanthropist here.