Guest Feature – Carol Thomas

It gives me great pleasure to welcome fellow Chindi Author, Carol Thomas, back to ‘Patricia’s Pen.’ Carol has come along to tell you about her new children’s book. Without further ado, it’s over to Carol. 

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 Writing for Children

Carol Thomas


Thank you so much for having me on your blog Patricia.

As an experienced primary school teacher and mum of four, I know the importance of inspiring a love of books from an early age. I have read a great many children’s books and enjoy sharing them. Of course, it is not just about the story and pictures; it is about that moment of connection with those you are sharing the book with too.

Young children love books for many reasons. It can be that the subject matter connects with them; or that it fires their imagination, enabling them to venture into another world; but it can also be because of that moment they share with you as the reader. Snuggling up and sharing a story with your child is for any time, not just bedtime (though of course, that can be a very lovely way for you and them to end their day).

Growing up, my favourite book was my Ladybird version of Five Little Kittens, not because I had a big love of books, I rather liked playing with toy cars while my sister read, but because I liked cats, it rhymed and most importantly, my mum shared it with me! 

five little kittens

In a world where many things are competing for young children’s attention, I aim to write engaging stories, that I hope will be shared again and again. The language is purposefully rhythmic and rhyming, encouraging them to join in and anticipate words and phrases. The characters small and human, or cute and furry, express emotions that are relatable to a young audience and that I hope will inspire a discussion at their level.

being a friend

Aimed at under 7s, my latest book, Being a Friend at Christmas, is the story of a Little Pup who has found his forever home and knows just how lucky he has been. But as Christmas approaches he thinks about the dogs he’s left behind in the shelter and wants to make sure they have a happy time too. To make his Christmas wish come true, Little Pup has to be brave and enlist the help of Father Christmas.

It’s been described as the perfect gift for all young dog lovers, and I hope, especially after the strange year our children and we have had, it helps spread some Christmas joy!

For more of a sneak peek – click here for the book trailer.

Purchase here 

Also by Carol Thomas 

Finding a Friend (while this is the first in the Little Pup series of books each can be read as a stand-alone story).

When Little Pup finds himself at the shelter,

he doesn’t know quite what to do.

Big dogs all around, feeling lost and alone,

Little Pup needs a friend… but who?

“A delightfully written and wonderfully illustrated picture book, with a heart warming’ tail’ of friendship.”

Purchase here 

About Carol Thomas 

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Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and lively Labrador. She has been a playgroup supervisor and has taught in primary schools for just over twenty years.

Carol writes for both adults and children. Her children’s books have irresistibly cute, generally furry characters young children can relate to.

To find out more about books by Carol Thomas:







Damien B Donnelly – Publication day – 17th September 2020

I’m delighted to invite Damien B Donnelly, fellow poet and hoglet of Hedgehog Poetry Press ‘The Cult of the Spiny hog.’ I’m particularly delighted to have Damien here as part of the launch for his beautiful pamphlet Eat the Storms .

Damien has come along to talk about Eat the Storms published by Hedgehog Poetry Press on 17th September 2020. How exciting is that? I’ve heard some of Damien’s poems and I can tell you now that readers are in for a treat. Eat the Storms is receiving fantastic reviews which are well deserved. Damien not only writes beautiful poetry but has a wonderful voice to listen to when he performs his poems. Without further ado, let’s go over to Damien.

Eat the Storms is a collection I wanted to assemble in order to see light in the darkness and find a balance and an acceptance between them both.

I wanted to bring together a collection of moments that could not be held for long, grains of sand that trickle through our hands while capturing the beautiful fragility of our fall, a selection of sensory songs that expose this fragility, not as something weak or wearisome, but as our weapon, to go down into the darkness in order to reveal how colour can exist there too, to sing of holding both light and shade together, as one, in order to release us from the claws of crazy.

‘Eat the storms… she said,’ in order to ‘…boil back those beds of bitter blackness.’

I wanted to bring the reader on a journey, starting with a soft moon on a sun-drenched beach, a blazing white light like a blank canvas of possibility and, from there, add colour to that emptiness, incorporating both light and shade, a journey that required all senses at once; to test the running water of the riverbed with your tongue, to hear the pout of a ruby red lip while slowly exploring what happens when colour gives in to shadow, when shade threatens fragility as we are faced with our own fears before bringing us back again into the light, seeing that same fragility as our force and not our failure, while holding hope in place of time that can never be held.

I wanted to imagine being able to find a way to paint behind the light, to add breath to all that is unbearable so as to swallow the truth and release the lies we stuff into the cracks of the canvas. I wanted to draw life as a riverbed, cutting its path over rough rock and soothing soil, capturing colour for an instant before it passes on to the next connection, curve, crash, to see ourselves as the roaring wave, rising for a magical moment, and not just a silent witness to the rushing water. I wanted to be able to confess to capturing colour without being called crazy because I was willing to lean in and lick the honey off a purple petal…

‘…but it takes time to swallow the truth and teach the tongue to taste the rain.’

About Damien

Damien, 45, Dublin born, returned to Ireland in 2019 after 23 years in Paris, London and Amsterdam, has been writing since childhood, poetry and short stories questioning identity, sexuality and fragility. His daily interests revolve around falling over and learning how to get back up while baking cakes.

He’s been featured in ‘Second Chance’ Original Writing, ‘Body Horror’ Gehenna & Hinnom, ‘Nous Sommes Paris’ Eyewear Publishing and The Runt Magazine. Online, he’s been featured in Black Bough Poetry, Coffin Bell, Scribe Base, Barren Magazine and Holding It Together, Apart. His debut poetry collection is published by The Hedgehog Press.

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Order your signed copy of Eat the Storms

Gaynor Kane – Venus in Pink Marble

You may remember back in June the lovely Gaynor Kane visited Patricia’s Pen to talk about her poetry. You can revisit the article here.

Gaynor’s poetry collection Venus in Pink Marble has now been published with the awesome The Hedgehog Poetry Press and you can now grab yourself a signed copy of this fabulous work. You can also check out her launch video with Damien B Donnelly who is my guest tomorrow.

Order a signed copy from here

Oaks of Avalon

Do you remember a few weeks ago I was interviewed by Piano Sanctuary? If you missed the interview you can listen here.

Imagine the compliment when Andrew Quartermain contacted me to say he’d written a piece of music inspired by ‘Oaks of Avalon’, a poem from my poetry pamphlet Taxus Baccata.

You can listen to it here. Andrew reads out my poem towards the end of the podcast and follows with his wonderful piece of music. Do listen to the whole podcast though as it’s fabulous – Poetry and Piano Special.

If you’d like to purchase a signed copy of Taxus Baccata – pop over to my SHOP – it makes a great gift!

Guest Feature – Margaret Royall

It gives me great pleasure today to welcome a fellow poet (and a fellow hoglet from The Hedgehog Poetry Press) to Patricia’s Pen. Margaret has come along to talk about her writing so without further ado it’s over to you, Margaret.

My Writing

Margaret Royall

My name is Margaret Jean Royall and I have been writing poetry since the age of three. My long-suffering parents would be called to my bedroom in what seemed to me like the middle of the night and scribble down verses I had created in my head. That was the start of what has gone on to be a life in poetry.

I returned to writing in earnest during retirement. The breakthrough moment for me was going for the first time to the Inner Hebridean Isle of Iona on an annual writing retreat led by Angela Locke MA and technical writing tutor David William Clemson. This mystical, magical island unleashed a flame within me and as I returned there annually I realised my ambition was to become a published poet. In the first few years I was simply a hobby poet, but encouraged and inspired by Angela and the other course participants, who had over the years become cherished friends, I honed my writing skills and began to submit my work to literary journals and webzines. To my amazement I was shortlisted for two poetry prizes in 2018, which hardened my resolve to carry on and achieve my goals.

My first poetry collection ‘Fording The Stream’, written under my then pen name Jessica De Guyat was published on my behalf by an American contact on Amazon. My words were out in the world! I was delighted by the complimentary reviews that were written.

My next publication was a memoir of childhood in prose and verse, ‘The Road To Cleethorpes Pier,’published by Crumps Barn Studio, a specialist in memoir publication.This book came about almost by accident, following a surprise encounter at a book festival with a poet from my home town whom I had known in childhood.

Some of his poems were about the town Cleethorpes and I realised that although I had written copious poems about people there, I had not written about the place itself. I worked to combine my prose articles with poetry about the seaside resort and people close to me, presented loosely in the form of a Haibun, illustrated with 46 black and white photographs from childhood and adolescence. The memoir was published 20th May this year to great acclaim and has sold well.

 My next publication will be a second full poetry collection, ‘Where Flora Sings,’ to be published in 2021 by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. This follows my win in Hedgehog’s ‘Full Fat Poetry Collection’ competition. It is a dream come true and I can’t wait to see it in print. The overriding theme is floral, yet it is definitely not simply an anthem to the beauty of flowers but rather something which penetrates much deeper. The first section is called Flower Power/People Power and as well as short poems about floral beauty through the seasons it takes a look at how people can be linked to flowers and plants. The second section ‘Roses and Thorns’ is a retrospective from the third age on the triumphs and tribulations of life. I shall be so excited to hold a copy in my hands and hope it will meet with approval.


Thank you for sharing your writing story, Margaret. Good luck with the new collection from Hedgehog Poetry Press. I look forward to receiving my copy.

About Margaret Jean Royall

Margaret’s work has featured in publications by The Hedgehog Poetry Press, Impspired and The Blue Nib. She recently won Hedgehog Press’ collection competition. In May 2020 her childhood memoir The Road To Cleethorpes Pier was published, receiving great acclaim. She was shortlisted  in 2018 for the Crowvus and Bangor Lit Festival Poetry Prizes.

Margaret is a regular performer at Writers Live and leads a poetry group in Nottinghamshire.

Her forthcoming poetry collection ‘Where Flora Sings’ will appear in 2021 with The Hedgehog Poetry Press.


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Sunday Writing Challenge

This month’s writing challenge brings writer, Janet Hardacre, with her story The Return. Personally I think this is a fab story. See what you think.

‘Look in the mirror, Freya, and say, ‘I can do this.’

‘I can do this. I can do this’. Determined Freya stood in front of her bedroom mirror, chin stuck out and hands on her hips. ‘But Mads I keep remembering the looks of those people in the store. I get a panic attack just thinking about going back.’

‘So, you felt foolish. The queue behind you didn’t help. But hey, you have the confidence now. Yes, you have.’

‘You’ve lost all that weight as well,’ chimed in Samantha.

‘You’re right,’ says Freya making the others laugh as she struts about the room like a catwalk model.

After her friends left, Freya prepared a light dinner with salad, one glass of Pinot Grigio and she settled down for an evening of binge-watching her favourite serials. Two years ago, it would have been binge eat, binge drink, and binge TV. Two years ago, Freya lived a different life. Two years ago, she’d met Adrian. Alright, not met, matched with on a dating site for curvy ladies. The bigger, the better, apparently. Mads and Samantha had encouraged her to join this site to perk up her spirits.

Adrian was a sweet talker. ‘Hey, girl, you sure look like my kinda woman, pretty face and curves in all the right places.’

Freya revelled in the suggestive texts that flew between them and became an expert at photographing herself using the tripod and camera she’d ordered from a catalogue. She ordered everything from catalogues as trips to stores on the High Street usually ended in tears. Mads blamed the mobility scooter.

Months went by with Freya posing in sexy bras that upheld her girls. She posed in thongs, in knickers, in seductive basques, suspenders, thigh high stockings, especially ones with seams. Adrian could not get enough of those. Freya had found her calling. She was somebody. She was admired and accepted as she was. Life was great.

Once a month Freya, Mads and Sam enjoyed a get-together in Freya’s flat. It was during one of these sessions that Samantha said, ‘Fraze, did you know that Adrian is on the pull again?’

‘Whoa, my Adrian?’

‘Fraid so.’

Freya rushed to set up her laptop while Sam gave her the login info to her own website.

‘Look for Donovan Winters. I could be wrong.’

‘I don’t believe it. He could call himself any name he likes, but this Donovan Winters is defo Adrian.’

Young, blonde and petite screamed the pages on the website.

Freya was devastated, betrayed and humiliated. Maddie and Sam were full of commiserations, and the names they called Adrian could not be repeated in public. That did it.

So now, Freya less curvy and no longer using the website, nor the mobility scooter, is returning to the High Street on her own two confident feet. First item on the agenda? Donate one camera and tripod to the nearest charity shop.