Val Penny Interviews me on Writing

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Today, fellow Swanwick writer, Val Penny, invited me over to her blog to talk about writing. Why not pop over there and take a look. You can find the interview here.




As 2018 closes


As 2018 closes – and what a year it’s been.

I was awarded an MA in Creative writing (Merit) after my four-year journey.

I won NanoWrimo for the first time.

I have a complete manuscript of ‘The Coal Miner’s Son,’ (albeit that it still needs editing)

Several of my poems have been published.

This year my blog has grown. I’ve featured authors with articles and interviews. 2019 will bring many more of these and hopefully so much more.

I haven’t forgotten that I need to finish telling you about my MA Creative Writing Journey. There’s the last section/dissertation to go and the finale will be after I graduate in February at Brighton Centre.

I hope to share lots more of my poems on myth, folklore and legend around trees.

Thank you all for sticking with me through 2018.  Let me know what else you’d like to see.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all lots of Christmas cheer and may all your dreams come true in 2019.

On that note I’d like to share a Christmas gift (a review) that I received from one of my readers in relation to House of Grace. A review is precious to any author. If you’ve read House of Grace and enjoyed it, please consider leaving a  short review on Amazon, Goodreads or anywhere on social media. Spread the word.


If you haven’t read House of Grace yet, now is a great time to give it a try – the price has been reduced from £2:49 to £1:99 on Kindle and remember – It’s FREE to read with KindleUnlimited.




Winter Solstice-Folklore


As most of you know for my MA dissertation I researched folklore, myth, and legend around trees. Today I shall tell you a story uncovered during my study and at the end as a Winter Solstice gift, I’ll share a poem I wrote using some of the facts from folklore, along with fiction.

‘Sacred Tree,’ forms part of a poetry collection, ‘Spirit Mother.’  ‘Lady of the Woods,’ also part of the collection, was published in Reach Magazine, earlier this month, Issue 243. Watch this space for more.

The Oak and The Mistletoe

To the ancient druids the oak tree was sacred. An English oak was more sacred, and if it was an English Oak that had accepted mistletoe, that was the most sacred of oaks.

Ancient druids gathered in the grove of oaks on Winter Solstice when a special ritual was performed. The chief druid climbed the oak and lopped the mistletoe which was caught in a white cloak by the other druids. During the ceremony two white bulls were sacrificed and mistletoe was later presented at the altar to the earth goddess to bring ‘fertility to the spirit of the earth’(Paterson, 1996). The white berries signified the sun god’s semen.

This folklore is brought to life in my poem, ‘Sacred Tree,’ through the use of sensory expression so that the reader can re-imagine the story and connect with history and nature. I hope you enjoy it.

The Sacred Tree


Sacred Tree

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.

Ah-oo-wen Ah-oo-wen
Ah-oo-wen Ah-oo-wen

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.

Ah-oo-wen Ah-oo-wen
Ah-oo-wen Ah-oo-wen

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.

Ah-oo-wen Ah-oo-wen
Ah-oo-wen Ah-oo-wen

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

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

Patricia M Osborne (2018)


Reference for quote used by Paterson, shown above:

Jacqueline Memory Paterson, Tree Wisdom, The Definitive guidebook to the myth, folklore and healing power of Trees ( San Francisco: Thorsons, 1996), ‘p.’ 191.




Imagination as a Writer- Mark Giglio

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Red City Review: “a style reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s magical realism”

I’m delighted to welcome, author, Mark Giglio, from across the water. Mark has come here today to discuss imagination and writing, but before that, let’s find out a little about him.

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Mark Giglio is a writer, artist and award-winning furniture maker with a degree in creative writing from San Diego State University. He lives in Escondido, CA in San Diego County.  He has written novels in Historical Romance “Alchemist Gift”, and a Romantic Thriller “The Patròn’s Wife”. The second volume of “Alchemist Gift”, “Curious Journey” with the main character of Count Emilio is in the works. His short stories are in the Horror and Science Fiction genres.

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Reading with Your Imagination


Mark Giglio 

The wonderful thing about your imagination is that you bring all of your experiences to a scene in a story or novel. Sometimes a written description can spark a different and more focused experience as compared to a video. A video can be very well done and can certainly tell a story. But we are limited to what our eyes can take in and the score to elicit the proper emotion or reaction. With a video, we are truly witnesses. With literature, we are more participants. I hope I did that in my description of Emilio’s trip down the Rio Oscuro in my latest novel, ‘The Patròn’s Wife’. Many moons ago, I was stationed in the Florida Keys and at Homestead Air Base, which was very near to the Everglades. Both places were hot and sticky and buggy. In the summer you could just about set your watch to the time of the daily thunderstorm. Those were the experiences I drew from for the opening description.

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“The dull pulse of the boat motor echoed back from the dense wall of tangled greenery that crowded its way to the edge of the river bank. The chirps and clicks from a thousand insects set an unearthly cadence that was palpable.  Mist swirled overhead, opening now and again to let the sun’s rays play off the living pearls of dew that rolled down from leaf to quivering leaf back into the brown waters of the Rio Oscuro.

“My clothing was always damp with sweat. The heat and humidity made the trip unbearable. Even the breeze coming off the water was warm and fetid. The chatter of monkeys was tiresome; the biting insects were bothersome and painful. The occasional shadowy animal, drawn undoubtedly by the sound of the motor, would stalk us, making its way through the undergrowth that grew along the riverbank. The relentless heat, discomfort, and unpredictability reached out like a smothering and heavy hand from the jungle and kept its dank grip on me and the boat.”

Another scene has to do with the protagonist Emilio being driven up from the Rio Oscuro to El Paradiso, the name of the plantation where the greater part of the story takes place.

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“The road was rutted and bumpy. Branches and fronds reached out and clawed and scratched at all sides of the Land Rover as if trying to pull us into the undergrowth. There was no view to speak of, only a twinkling tunnel made through the tangle of low brush, large green leaves and overhead vines and flowering creepers and still higher the canopies of the great trees.

“We travelled inland for maybe twelve kilometers. I heard birds and the chatter of monkeys, but I saw no animals. Leòn came to a jarring stop. A jaguar appeared out of the brush and stopped on the road.  Its golden eyes burned into mine. Leòn looked away from the animal; he even held his hand up to shield his face and gave the big cat a wide berth. I expected him to say something, but he did not. He did not even look at me. We drove off in silence.”

In The Patrons Wife the scenes are to do with the jungle and by reading the words the reader becomes part of the story.  The reader becomes an active participant by reliving their own set of experiences and memories. A video can never do that.


Thank you, Mark for popping over today and sharing your very informative article.

Where can readers purchase Alchemist Gift and The Patron’s Wife?

Alchemist Gift

The Patron’s Wife

Where can you find Mark Giglio?


Twitter Alchemist Gift

Twitter The Patron’s Wife

Facebook Alchemist Gift

Facebook The Patron’s Wife 

Facebook Author Page

Facebook Alchemist Gift Inspiration Group


New Release: Edward’s Outlaw by Jennifer Ash

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It’s a privilege today to welcome Jennifer Ash on the final day of Edward’s Outlaw Blog Tour.  Today she’s looking at Mathilda – The Reluctant Investigator. Congratulations Jenny and over to you. 

Many thanks for allowing me to visit as part of my mini blog tour to launch the third novel of The Folville Chronicles; Edwards’s Outlaw.

In the first two novels of the series, The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw, Mathilda of Twyford (now Lady Mathilda de Folville), found herself thrust into situations where she was forced to get to the bottom of a crime simply to stay alive. In book three however, Mathilda’s reputation for solving mysteries sees her being asked to solve a murder by the sheriff…and she is in no position to say no…

Here’s the blurb.

January 1330: England is awash with corruption. King Edward III has finally claimed the crown from his scheming mother, Queen Isabella, and is determined to clean up his kingdom.

Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault, and her special advisor a man who knows the noble felons of England very well King Edward sends word to Roger Wennesley of Leicestershire, with orders to arrest the notorious Folville brothers… including the newly married Robert de Folville.

Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left than a maid is found murdered. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was the maid really the target or is Mathilda’s life in danger?

Asked to investigate by the county sheriff in exchange for him slowing the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder… including a web of deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond…

The third thrilling instalment in Jennifer Ash’s The Folville Chronicles series.

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Mathilda has only been married to Robert de Folville for three days, and already trouble has coming knocking at door of their home; Ashby Folville manor, Leicestershire. A warrant for the brother’s arrest sends Mathilda alone into Rockingham Castle for her own safety. Under the protection of its constable, Robert de Vere, she shelters within the castle while her husband and his brothers are on the run.

Mathilda doesn’t have time to worry about her new husband, Robert, for long. Within only a few days a young girl is dead and the sheriff thrusts the role of detective upon her.

But why would anyone believe her if she did find out who the killer was? The word of a woman, even one who has married into one of the most notorious households in England, is not worth much without substantial evidence. And what if she gets it wrong and accuses the wrong person? Mathilda is terrified that she might send the wrong person to the gallows.

The pressure on Mathilda to succeed becomes even greater when she begins to wonder if Agnes, the murdered maid, was the intended victim after all. The more Mathilda thinks about it, the more she sees how easy it would have been for the killer to mistake the dead girl for her…Was Mathilda the intended target after all?


Blood hammered in Mathilda’s ears. She had tracked down killers in the past, but never by appointment. The first time had been unintentional, a task she’d stumbled upon to save her father’s honour and her freedom. The second had come with an even higher price tag. The cost of failure would have been her life.

Now, these previous successes had earned her a third attempt, and Mathilda doubted she was up to the task. In Ashby Folville she had Sarah and Adam to back her up, not to mention Robert and his brothers. Here, she was alone but for Daniel, who’d already had a myriad of household duties heaped upon him.

Would her desire to find justice for Agnes, and her equally strong curiosity to uncover what was going on in the castle, be enough to solve the crime. Or crimes?

Whatever her misgivings, Mathilda’s starting point was clear. The sheriff and his associates had not yet left the castle. She wanted to talk to each of them privately. The constable had promised her the freedom of the castle while he’d had little choice but to agree, but would he continue to extend that offer once Wennesley and his comrades had gone to recommence the search for her husband.

Not sure if she was heartened or worried by Sheriff Ingram’s claim that she was unstoppable in her pursuit of felons, Mathilda wiped away the perspiration from her palms.

As she walked towards de Vere’s rooms, Mathilda forced herself to focus. Even if the arresting party remained with the constable, that didn’t mean they would be willing to answer her questions. After all, they hadn’t been there when Agnes had died, yet Mathilda couldn’t shift the uneasy feeling that it was all connected somehow. She had no logical reason for that suspicion beyond the coincidence of Isabella’s abrupt reappearance and the night-time movements of a tall, short-haired man who could have been either of the younger men on the warrant party… or someone else entirely….

Thanks again for inviting me to visit today.

Happy reading,


It was a pleasure, Jenny. Good luck with the new book. 

About the Author 

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Jennifer Ash

With a background in history and archaeology, Jennifer Ash should really be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, and writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jennifer writes stories of medieval crime, steeped in mystery, with a side order of romance.

Influenced by a lifelong love of Robin Hood and medieval ballad literature, Jennifer has written The Outlaw’s Ransom (Book One of The Folville Chronicles) – a short novel, which first saw the light of day within the novel Romancing Robin Hood (written under the name Jenny Kane; Pub. Littwitz Press, 2018).

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Book Two of The Folville ChroniclesThe Winter Outlaw – was released in April 2018. (pub. LittwitzPress)

Book Three of The Folville ChroniclesEdward’s Outlaw– was released in December 2018.

Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane. Her work includes the contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels, Romancing Robin Hood (2nd edition, Littwitz Press, 2018), Abi’s Neighbour (Accent Press, 2017), Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016), and the bestsellers, Abi’s House (Accent Press, June 2015), and Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013).

Edwards’ Outlaw can be read as a standalone book, or as part of The Folville Chronicles. (Book 1- The Outlaw’s Ransom– Book 2- The Winter Outlaw)

If you’d like to read Edward’s Outlaw, it is available in eBook format and paperback from…

Buy Links

Edward’s Outlaw (US)

Edward’s Outlaw (UK)

To find out more about Jennifer and Jenny Kane’s news – click here

Social media links

Twitter  – Jennifer Ash

Twitter  – Jenny Kane

Facebook –  Jennifer Ash

Facebook –  Jenny Kane

Once again, thank you Jennifer for dropping by today. I’m sure my readers will agree that The Folville Chronicles are excellent reads. Good luck with Edward’s Outlaw.

Guest Feature: Author, Joy Wood

I am very please today to welcome, author, Joy Wood.  Joy is not only a fellow writer but also a good friend and she’s here to talk about her writing including her latest novel launched today, April Fool. First of all let’s find out a little about her.  

About Joy

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Joy Wood was born in Cleethorpes Lincolnshire, and has returned to her home town since retiring as a nurse, to pursue her love of writing. Joy gets her inspiration from walking along the seafront and watching the tide turn, and thinking about various characters, before rushing home to get them written down before she forgets!

Joy has independently published 3 novels, (April Fool being the 4th), and spends a lot of time doing public speaking events about the transition from a working nurse to a writer (From Bedpan to Pen!) She tried to interject plenty of humour into the talks which the audience seem to appreciate. Joy has been known to write ditties/slogans for consumer competitions and loves nothing better than receiving prizes, however large or small. Again, humour seems to be the key to catching the judge’s eye!

Hi Joy, thank you for joining me today. Congratulations on the launch of  your latest novel, April Fool. Can you tell our readers what inspired you to write it? 



Hi Tricia, thank you so much for having me, I’m delighted to be here. In answer to your question, the 3 previous novels I have written have been contemporary romances with a few twists and turns along the way. I wanted to write something slightly different this time, and the more I thought about my main character, April Masters, the more she grew on me. I like strong, capable, talented women, and tenacious April is certainly all of those. So I thought about all the able women out there, trying to juggle all the balls we have to, and had an idea they might enjoy April too.

I understand April Fool is a move away from your normal genre, is that correct? What prompted you to take this step?

My purpose has been to test myself a little to see if I could write in a different way, but at the same time producing something I hope the readers will enjoy. It is difficult as the temptation is to stick to the tried and tested format that works. I’m keeping everything crossed I’ve succeeded in writing a story the readers will enjoy. There is a definite change from my previous books so we shall have to see how it’s received. The proof of the pudding and all that ……….!

How long have you been writing and do you write anything else besides novels?

I’m afraid I don’t, unless you can count ditties/slogans for competitions, I’m fairly successful at doing those! I do a lot of proof reading and informal editing for friends though, and not always novels. I help friends/ex colleagues with nursing academic work which I do enjoy. Also, this year I facilitated an author day inviting the public to attend. As a result of that, I’m helping a couple of people to try and self-publish their work. I have been writing for 3 years.

Do you have a special routine for your writing?

Not at all. I write when the mood takes me. It could be morning, afternoon or evenings. And some days I don’t write at all. And of course there is all the social media that has to be done if you want to succeed as a writer. It can be a huge distraction though. Once I get interacting on Facebook and Twitter, it’s hard to break away. Writing is solitary so some days, you feel a bit like ‘Billy-no-mates,’ so it’s easy to slip on social media while you’re taking a coffee break, but then hard to get back to the writing!

Why did you opt to self-publish rather than traditional?

Ah, the million dollar question. The thought of a traditional publishing contract is very exciting, but when I wrote my first novel, I wasn’t sure if it would even sell hence self publishing it and not attempting to get a publishing deal. I quite liked the process of trying to make sales. It was hard work but I enjoyed it and each book I sold, excited me. So the following year, I repeated the process with my second novel and independently published that. Of course by the very nature of having 2 novels, I sold more books. So the process worked well for me.
In terms of submitting to a traditional publisher – never say never! I’m quite impatient though, so once I’ve finished a book, I’m keen to get it out there and I’m guessing with a traditional deal, the process is much slower. That’s not to say I’ll never submit or try to get an agent, I think that would be marvellous. However I’m realistic and recognise it could be quite a challenge.

What advice would you give to writers contemplating self-publishing?

I would strongly suggest they get their work critically edited before anything. We all think we write excellent novels that readers will love, but it isn’t always the case. And because we are very close to our work, it is hard to see it objectively. Criticism can be difficult to take particularly when editors have their critique hat on, even though that is what you are paying them to do. It’s all about looking at their criticism, and changing your novel accordingly, or not as the case may be. It is the writer’s novel at the end of the day, but editors want your novel to be a success so they aren’t out to scupper you in any way. They want your novel to shine.
After editing, it is vital you get someone to read your novel other than family and friends. By the very nature of your relationship with them, they want you to succeed so will love anything you write. If you are able to get a reader to impartially look at your work, it is amazing exactly what they can pick up. It could be as simple as, “You lost me a bit there,” to “Why are his eyes chocolate brown in chapter 1 and further on they become hauntingly grey?”

You also offer Writer Talks. Can you tell the readers a little about how they work and can anyone book one up?

In a previous life, I did a lot of public speaking. I soon realised this could be helpful in terms of getting new readers, particularly locally. So I devised a talk about my transition from being a nurse to writing (From Bedpan to Pen!). The talk involves a lot of humour about the hurdles I’ve had to overcome such as my first appearance on television to promote my book, which seeing myself made me realise my face is better suited to radio, and funny stories about the public attending my signings and a lady asking me in Waterstones if I knew what time Marks and Spencer closed!
I’ve spoken at various events this year, Women’s Institutes, Ladies lunches, book clubs, and a first for me this week is an after lunch speaker at a Gentleman’s lunch. I might have to regroup on my talk and try and make it a bit more applicable to a male audience. I’m lucky that I’m now booking into 2019 and going further afield than just locally.

Your life must be busy with writing and talks, does that leave you any time for hobbies?

Nowadays, I do spend a lot of time writing, but I also like walking and travelling. And of course reading, if I’m not sat at my computer, I can be found with a book or my kindle in my hand. Oh, and socialising – I do a lot of that!

Can you give our readers a taster of  April Fool?

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Extract from Chapter 1

They reached the final door – the exit.
“Is someone outside to meet you?” Dr Death asked with a smirk on her face as if she knew there wouldn’t be.
April wasn’t going to tell her anything. “I’m not entirely sure.”
“You’ve money to get a bus, or a taxi to the station; do you know the area and how to get to town?”
“Yes, it isn’t far, I understand.”
“No. Basically you turn right out of the prison and just keep walking. But here,” she handed her a card, “if you’d prefer to call a taxi. This is a local one the inmates use.”
She shook her head refusing the card, “I think a walk might be good.”
Dr Death shrugged and turned to press in the final code which would mean her release. She didn’t rush. It was almost as if she was prolonging the moment on purpose.
April watched as the door to freedom slowly opened, squinting until her eyes became accustomed to the bright sunshine.
Eighty-five long days she’d been incarcerated. And every single tortuous one of them, she’d meticulously ticked off on a calendar. Visually seeing them disappear gave her the momentum to get through another laborious day.
She stepped forward to make her way through the big oak prison door, and deliberately didn’t look back. There was no way she was going to acknowledge Dr Death by shaking her hand on the way out. Prison officers weren’t friends or acquaintances. They had a bit of power because of the nature of the job, but boy did that go to their heads. Not all of them, some were reasonably okay, but not this one. She’d been hateful.
If Dr Death had known who April really was, then she wouldn’t have been quite so punitive and given her such a hard time. And there was a time she would have made her pay for the way she’d treated her, but not anymore.
Nothing was going to get in her way. Certainly not revenge on a jumped-up prison officer. To get to where she was right now had required meticulous planning and attention to detail. The new identity, the change in her appearance, and the stretch in prison had all been absolutely necessary to assist her as she was about to embark on the biggest pay day of all.


How exciting – I can’t wait for more. 

Where can our readers purchase a copy of April Fool and your other books? 

US:    UK:   CA:   AU:

Click on the above links to purchase from Amazon.

All books are also available by ordering from Waterstones and WH Smith.

Thank you, Joy, for joining us today. I wish you every success with April Fool as I’m sure my readers do too. If anyone has any questions, for Joy, please leave at the end of this blog or contact her via her social media links below.

Facebook:   Twitter:

If your tempted by Joy’s books then click on the relevant above links, I promise that you won’t be sorry. Personally I can’t wait to read April Fool.