Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Typing Furiously

At last at last at last!

After too many weeks of endless interruptions and palaver and stopping and starting where I've only been able to dip in and out here and there in between running writing workshops and having meetings about various projects and helping out with endless reams of exam revision and with college and university application references and writing a chapter for the next book (ssh!) and present shopping and posting parcels of books out and spending alot of time in a library, I'm finally spending days at a time on the final part of the Witherstone trilogy - The Book of Shadows.

Am typing furiously in fact. See?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas Rush!


The excitement of being on the shelves in Waterstones Preston doubled when they sold out of Witherstone within a week and had to order a new consignment PDQ! 







Pleased to report Waterstones is now restocked, and the fabulous Broadhursts Books of Southport have now also taken delivery of both books!



And for good measure, AltBlackpool have recommended Witherstone in their seasonal reads!


 



 

 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Witherstone in Waterstones!

 
 
Wrap me in tinsel and call me Christmas!!!
How excited am I?
Very!!!!

 
Witherstone and The Hunt Begins are on the shelves in Waterstones, Preston.
 
And they've even written reviews!
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

FREE Writing Workshops @LythamStories & Flash Fire Live Lit & Journeys with the Ghosts of Pendle Witches

Busy week coming up!

Really looking forward to the FREE creative writing workshop I'm running for the Lytham Festival of Stories on Monday!

It's at ParkView4U Community Cafe on 26th November 6.30pm to 8.30pm. I'll be using photographs and artefacts to help you write about family, history and memory, to get your creative ideas flowing. Places are going fast, so booking is essential. Please call Cath or Julie at ParKView4U to reserve a place: 01253 741955.

And I'm really looking forward to spouting my stuff at the Flash Fire Live Lit event in Lancaster on Thursday 29th!

It's at The Park Hotel Lancaster, 8pm start, and I'm well chuffed to be performing my work alongside the fab talents of David Gaffney, Zoe Lambert, Jeanette Greaves, Rob Wood, Peter Smith, and Ros Ballinger - AND there are open mic slots, plus comedy and poetry.

And all for a mere £3.
What more could you want?

~

Well, MORE it seems - I'm thrilled to have been invited to join Lancashire Libraries and author of Lancashire Reads 2012 Malkin Child, Livi Michael, on a journey through Pendle Witch country on Lancashire Day Tuesday 27th!

We'll be starting at Colne Library in the morning, and journeying to Lancaster, roughly following the geographic route that the witches took prior to their trial in 1612.

In Lancaster Library we will be joined by guests from Lancaster district for a light lunch and the opportunity to walk key points in Lancaster associated with the trials. Author Livi Michael will be on the bus for the duration of the journey and will speak at brief celebration events at each venue along the way – including at Clitheroe, Garstang and Lancaster Libraries.

The bus will stop at libraries in the places listed below plus culturally significant points such as the statue of Alice Nutter in Roughlee.




Full timetable:
Colne Library – 9.15 a.m.
Travel via Roughlee to Clitheroe Library – 10.20 a.m.
Garstang Library 11.20 a.m.
Arrive Lancaster Library 12.45 p.m.
Light lunch at Lancaster Library and Tour of Lancaster castle
Leave Lancaster 2.30 p.m.
Arrive Clitheroe 3.30 p.m.
Arrive Colne 4.30 p.m.


If you've taken part in Lancashire Reads or have read Livi Michael's Malkin Child and would like to join this fantastic event, click the Lancashire Reads link here.

Friday 30th? Might spend the day in a library for a break!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Interviewed by ScribbleLeaf

How exciting!
Just been interviewed by those lovely new book cover designers ScribbleLeaf for their blog!

They asked me all manner of things to do with self-publishing when we were chatting at The Word Festival a few weeks ago - where I was admiring their fabulous work and lamenting that I hadn't known of their existence when struggling with getting my own book covers underway - and now they've interviewed me about my experience of self-publishing for their blog .

It's lovely being interviewed by such interesting and seriously talented people! Makes me feel quite grown-up.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Flash.


Back in the North from the North - which is a bit weird - and while I was 471 miles further North,
I saw this:



and this:


and this:


and this:


and while sitting in a tiny cottage on Dunnet Head overlooking the Pentland Firth....



where I wrote a wee short story for this:




Flash, eh?

~
~

Friday, 26 October 2012

The North.

The most northerly point of mainland Britain. Me. Here. 11 days. b.l.i.s.s.



Nuff said.

~

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Trilogy Pressures and the Man Booker Prize

HUGE Congratulations to Hilary Mantel for winning the Man Booker Prize - twice!

She has made history by not only being the first woman and the first Briton to win this prestigious literary award twice, but by also being the first writer to win the Booker for a sequel. Fantastically well-deserved.

The pressure's on for the final part of her historical trilogy then.  I know that feeling - ha ha! (not!)

Hilary Mantel has said she still has research to do on the final book of her trilogy, The Mirror And The Light, and said:

"It will be complicated but I'm not intimidated. I think I can bring it home in style."

Fingers crossed for both of us then, Hilary.

*back to my own rather more modest final part of a trilogy The Book of Shadows ... let's bring it home in style!*

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Malkin Child - a truly haunting tale by Livi Michael

Malkin Child by Livi Michael is a haunting and original book. And it goes on haunting you long after you’ve finished reading it.
   
Whilst I initially found the opening “argument” between the storyteller and Jennet Device about who was going to tell her story less compelling than the rest of the book, as I read on, I realised I liked this opening because it tells you what this book is doing: taking a well-worn story that you know – or think you know – out of that practically mythological place the story of the Pendle Witches inhabits in social discourse (‘A long time ago, in the Forest of Pendle, there lived a family …’) and into the real world.

Because what Livi Michael does with Malkin Child is show that the story of the Pendle Witches is not just a window into past beliefs and darker times, and a re-telling of one of the most infamous trials in British history, but is a personal and family and community tragedy.

I got my copy from the eye-catching display for the book in Accrington Library, and as soon as you see it, the front cover of Malkin Child is arresting, foregrounding a young girl who seems to look out of the past right at you, but also beyond you. Clever stuff.

The story is beautifully written in a wonderfully atmospheric style, and although it is of course a fictional re-telling, Malkin Child gives an authentic voice to a young girl who inhabits the lowest strata of the social spectrum: the youngest child of a family living in poverty. As we read her story, we are drawn into her world and her character, and there is an authentic sense of historical time and place in the homely details of her life. But it is brought into the present in the compelling immediacy of Jennet’s voice, and the reader inhabits that world with her.

I particularly love the way Livi Michael weaves nature seeping with the darker elements of fairytale into the story, and with a child’s-eye view which keeps a firm hold on realism, such as Jennet’s dislike of ‘gathering sticks’ for the fire in the wood ‘when the light was fading’ because ‘everyone knew there were goblins in Trawden wood. And wolves …’

The wolves in Jennet’s story are the kind that are hairy on the inside, however, and more frighteningly real as they prey on her youth and naivety to serve their own purposes. What Livi Michael does in Malkin Child is show how Jennet’s own powerless situation operates, not only within her own family circle, but crucially, within the wider social spectrum, and her psychological and emotional experiences within this.
Malkin Child has uncomfortable echoes of the present where you can’t help feeling little has changed. Children are still living in poverty, are still being abused and manipulated, and their own voices are still ignored.

The question of power haunts Malkin Child, and it is this adult-child and social inequality that leads to fatal consequences when Jennet is in the hands of those with power and the determination to use it. And you know it and feel it all the way through the book, as it pulls you inexorably towards the tragedy you know is coming.
Jennet is a child. She is vulnerable, she is naïve, and she is manipulated by those with an agenda of their own into betraying her family. As a child, Jennet is unable to understand the consequences of her testimony, yet Livi Michael gives her a compelling voice and all you can do is read on.

Because we know the story, reading Malkin Child is a doubly-haunting experience. It is beautifully, hauntingly written, and we know what happens in the end. We can see how Jennet is being manipulated, and what haunts the most is that the Malkin child cannot see what is coming, but we can.
The question I'm left with is what will change?

~

Malkin Child by Livi Michael has been commissioned by Litfest to mark the 400th centenary of the Lancashire Witch Trials, and has been chosen by Lancashire Libraries as its Lancashire Reads book for 2012. Some of the proceeds from the book are going to support Stepping Stones, a charity working to protect children in Nigeria being accused of witchcraft today.
~
postscript: this review has also been published on the Lancashire Libraries Lancashire Reads page.

Friday, 12 October 2012

in the beginning ...

Books 1 & 2 re-read and the first few words of Book 3 made it from head to page last week.

Today: walked the dog and planned my next move.



Next move:

Monday, 8 October 2012

Just checking the essentials.

Tea?


Check.












Equipment?


Check.










Desk tidied?


Check.







All Twittering and Facebook chatter sorted?


Check.








Start typing.      





Thursday, 4 October 2012

Sorted. Mostly.


Had a thoroughly grand time at Cardinal Newman College yesterday with the creative writing students;

Finally managed to get the beehives into winter mode today - despite both me and the bees enduring several torrential downpours in the process, so there were a few dodgy moments where I had to try to cover the open hive and the frames of bees already out to stop the poor things getting drowned;

Still got problems with iffy eyeball though so still having to take it easy on the old spending-time-on-the-computer front ...

But Serious Planning is nonetheless Underway on The Book of Shadows ...!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Creative Writing at Cardinal Newman College Book Week on 2nd October


I'm thrilled to have been invited back to Cardinal Newman College in Preston to deliver a Creative Writing event as part of the College's literature festival week on October 2nd 2012.  
 
First of all I'll be signing copies of my books in the College Library at 12.30pm;
 
Then I'll be delivering a reading and Q&A session with creative writing students in the new Theatre in the round at 1.15pm!
 

The Cardinal Newman College students were a really great group last year, with some fabulous questions about the whole writing process - and I'm really looking forward to going to their Book Week to talk to them again!
~

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Last Word in Fantastic

Just back from the first ever Word Festival North West, and it was, quite frankly, bloody fantastic.

It was great to hear writers such as Claire Massey and Kerry Wilkinson, and writers/editors such as Ra Page and Kate Feld, talking - and even disagreeing - and above all inspiring us about blogging, writing, submissions dos and don'ts, and all things writerly;

- and it was fantastic to talk and network and share with a fabulous group of writers from all and every different genres of writing, and some highly talented illustrators, such as Colette Bain from ScribbleLeaf.

I went with an open mind and a list of things to make sure got done, and came back with new friends, new ideas, and motivation - and superfabulously a copy of Jeanette Greaves' story in Wolf Girls, as well as Jim Barrass's Perilous Adventures of an Unfulfilled Fullstop, AND The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon from the book swap session!

*sigh of contentment*

Friday, 21 September 2012

5 Stars for 'The Hunt Begins' ...!

 
 
Thrilled as a thrilled thing by the first review of The Hunt Begins on Amazon!
 
 
The reviewer, 'Max', says:
 
"...  I guarantee two things: firstly that once you've read Witherstone you'll be desperate to read this book, secondly that when you do, you won't be disappointed, if anything the peril gets greater,
the action more exciting and the plot twists more tangled and unexpected."
 
 
and 'Max' has given The Hunt Begins 5 Stars!


 
 
 

 




 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Woo hoo!! The Hunt Begins!


Well wrap me up in shiny paper and stick tinsel on my head, because Christmas must have come early!
~
~
The Hunt Begins, second book in the Witherstone trilogy, is already available on Amazon! 
~
~
It's available in paperback and for Kindle and I feel ridiculously excited!

Can't believe how speedy the publishing process has been this time around, so to celebrate, Witherstone book 1 Kindle edition is now only £1.54 !

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Tickets for the first ever North West Word Festival nearly sold out!

Really looking forward to the first ever Word Festival (North West) which I have the great privilege of co-organising with a bunch of North West writers - and tickets have already nearly sold out, and still with a month to go! 



find out more about the writers' event of the year here:

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Lots of exciting news to do with BOOKS...!

Well, well, well, after several weeks of not-so-nice stuff going on in and around the Ribble Babel household, there's loads of Good Stuff happening!

I am now the proud owner of a brand new part-time job in a Library! Whoopee!


I'm also the proud owner of a brand new freelance Group Leader job in learning with Lancashire County Council! Whoopee-doopee!!

And as if that wasn't exciting enough, that splendid bookshop Waterstones will be stocking Witherstone at their Preston branch in the very near future! Whoopie-Doopeeeee with cherries on the top!!!

Or as my friend Max would have it - you'll soon be able to get down to Witherstone for your copy of Waterstones :o)  Same difference.

Monday, 16 July 2012

having a ball...

Inbetween dashing here, there and everywhere else this week, I've just finished my first stint of one-to-one mentoring of a young writer, Emily Oldfield, with whom I've been in conversation for a few months now.

In overseeing her first day as the Guest Guest Editor of the Lancashire Writing Hub (- with huge thanks to John D Rutter for allowing Emily to assume his Guest Editor role for the week! -) I have to say I'm well impressed with Emily's decision-making and with her work schedule for the week.

She has commissioned articles by other young writers, and is interested in exploring the question of what writing means to young people with a group of Year7-8 school students, and with a group of older students, later this week. And this is all alongside writing her own articles on subjects from Nihilism to Romanticism to the poetry of Sylvia Plath to the question of what makes a classic novel.

blimey! ...and after breakfast... ha ha!

I'm really looking forward to seeing what Emily will be producing this week... !

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Word Festival - 22 September!



I'm dead chuffed to be involved with an exciting new Festival for North West writers which is starting this year!

The Word – the first one-day writing festival for Lancashire writers – is confirmed for 22 SEPTEMBER 2012

- and is at the beautiful ASTLEY HALL in Chorley.

Astley Hall is a wonderful venue that is sure to get the creative juices flowing for anybody who appreciates good writing. The organisers are speaking to some superb writers who will host some fantastic events throughout the day. Already confirmed are award-winning author Jenn Ashworth and Kindle chart-topping Kerry Wilkinson, plus Ra Page from Comma Press and short story specialist and editor Claire Massey!
More details to come soon so keep an eye on The Word Festival blog.

The event is aimed at fiction and non-fiction authors, copywriters, ghostwriters, journalists, editors and lecturers – add any other category here if you don’t fit into any of those!

The Word Festival will have the run of the coach house, which houses the excellent Cafe Ambio and is situated next to the walled garden. Astley Hall will also be open and FREE on festival day, so writers can take a peek at this Elizabethan manor when they’re all written out.

Put 22 September in your diary now. Tickets will be on sale shortly.

Keep an eye on The Word Festival for more details over the coming weeks…

Monday, 4 June 2012

Yes, yes, yes!!! Reading for Pleasure Campaign

The Society of Authors are campaigning to encourage reading for pleasure in schools and have written to Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, making recommendations regarding school libraries, teacher training and author visits, and to request a meeting to discuss practical strategies to further the Government response to the Henley Review and Ofsted’s Moving English Forward.

In their letter to Nick Gibb, they make the following three recommendations:

1. Primary and secondary schools should be required by law to have a school library and a trained librarian.
2. Teachers, in all stages of their careers, should be supported through a range of initiatives (detailed in the letter) to inspire a love of reading for pleasure in their pupils.
3. Schools’ use of author visits and longer residencies should be accredited by Ofsted.

Click here to read the letter in full.

They've got my support, yes yes yes!

See the Reading for Pleasure Campaign - Society of Authors for more information.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Word Soup: Womanhood - a review

The Word Soup Womanhood night - aka The Red Tent Edition - was a true feast of North West literary talent, incorporating the highs, lows, sadness, humour, downright rudeness, and above all wonderfully diverse creative talent of Womanhood.

Dreamed up by Rachel McGladdery and cemented over contemplation of an Erica Jong poem with Vicky Ellis, these two intrepid writers pulled together a strong line-up of writers from across the North West, and put on a memorable night of live literature. Although the fabulous Rachel McGladdery was unable to come along herself and will have to make do with the film of the evening (hopefully on the LWH YouTube channel very soon!), Vicky was a fab compere for the evening and started us all off with two of Rachel's poems - including one of my personal favourites and a perfect fit with the theme of the evening, "Gypsy Nanna King", truly goose-bumpingly beautiful poetry.

Carys Bray (aka Scott Prize Winner 2012!) presented us with a thought-provoking short story which took us on a poignant journey through parents' quest for rescue and redemption, witnessing the miraculous rescue of other people's sons to the realisation of their own hopelessness in the face of their own son's entrapment in a hell of a different kind. Fabulous stuff, and we can see why Carys won the Salt Publishing 2012 Scott Prize. Ann Wilson (aka Ann The Poet), pulled us all into a very different mood with a fabulously humorous array of poems and a lively set on the theme of womanhood, and I was personally really pleased to be able to see Ann perform at last as I hadn't up until now! Kim Moore (aka Eric Gregory Award & Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2011, The Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition 2012), was a compelling stage presence, presenting a memorable selection of poems on the theme, "Suffragette" and "Boxer" in particular were truly and goose-bumpingly magic.

Sarah Miller (aka poet and playwright, co-editor of Best of Manchester Poets 2 and making new plays with Barrow Youth Theatre, and whose online presence I can't find for love nor money!) gave an equally riveting and memorable performance which included poems about growing pains and a magic dress which didn't lead her quite where she intended (I'll never look at a man named Robert Johnson or a cheese sandwich in the same light ever again), but my personal favourite from Sarah's set would have to be "Still Orbiting the Sun" - brilliant. After the break, Danielle Rose (aka a shopaholic blogger from Blackpool) got the second set off to a fabulous start with her wonderful poems and natural stage banter (so I was amazed when she said she was very nervous) - and the highlight for me would be hard to choose from such a great set but if pushed it would have to be the poem about her self (in response to people who think poems are automatically biographical) as this was an excellent piece. Next up was, erm, oh, me, pulling the jolly mood down several notches to a more sober place with one of my short stories, "Faery" - but luckily Vicky Ellis (aka prize-winning performance poet, storyteller, singer-songwriter, editor and an excellent compere!) was on hand to pick up the mood again at once with the poem from Erica Jong encapsulating what the evening was all about, and with an often disturbingly sensual selection of her own poems (well it is disturbing if you find yourself listening to erotically-charged farmyard creatures!), and the much less visceral but highly-entertaining "Diamonds".

The open mic set was short but definitely sweet with two brave men, Michael Neary, and Nick (really sorry didn't catch your last name!) tackling the subject of Womanhood with aplomb, and Lorna Smithers and Jeanette Greaves entertaining us with a beautifully written and delivered poem on the one hand and an entertaining tale about a hoped-for transformation which ended rather unexpectedly on the other.

A fabulous night all round, with thanks to the multi-talented Rob Talbot for his expertise and support in helping to stage the whole event (- and congrats on the progress of the book, Rob!), to the Lancashire Writing Hub, They Eat Culture, and The Continental for making all this possible, and to Vicky Ellis who co-organised the whole caboodle with the fabulous Slam-winning poet Rachel McGladdery who was sorely missed and we hope to see you back up on that stage asap Raich!

~

This review was written for the Lancashire Writing Hub.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Guest Editor for the Lancashire Writing Hub

Ha ha ha. You can run but you can't hide...

I'm the Guest Editor at the Lancashire Writing Hub for the whole of June, which will be an interesting experience sitting on the other side of proceedings!

During my tenure, I'll be on the look out for news, events and opportunities of interest to North West writers, and will also be on the prowl for book reviews and interviews, so if you have something handy burning a hole in the bottom of your computer, let me know at jabrunning [at] talktalk [dot] net.

As I'll be spending my first week as Guest Editor building sandcastles in the rain on the Llyn Peninsula, there may be a slight delay in me replying but I'll get back to you upon my return!


Friday, 25 May 2012

Word Soup - Womanhood, aka The Red Tent Edition...

Well, how chuffed am I?

Got a spot on the line-up at the next
Word Soup
Live Lit Night at The Continental in Preston on Thursday 31st May @8pm - alongside the fabulous talents of ...

Ann Wilson (aka Ann The Poet),
Carys Bray (aka Scott Prize Winner 2012!!),
Kim Moore (aka Eric Gregory Award & Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2011, The Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition 2012),
Sarah Miller (aka poet and playwright, co-editor of Best of Manchester Poets 2 and making new plays with Barrow Youth Theatre, and whose online presence is impossible to find),
Danielle Rose (aka a shopaholic blogger from Blackpool), and
Vicky Ellis (aka prize-winning performance poet, storyteller, singer-songwriter, editor and all round supercreative bod  - who co-organised the whole caboodle with the fabulous Slam-winning poet Rachel McGladdery - who unfortunately will be lying about at home drinking wine and talking to people on Facebook instead of Being There herself, but I'm sure she'll more than make up for it Next Time!)

As the theme of the evening is Womanhood, aka The Red Tent Edition, it could be no coincidence that we're all women.

I'll be reading a story with a woman in it. Luckily.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

thanks for the feedback...!

Thanks for the feedback on some of my short stories, especially the Tuesday group and Mollie Baxter - Faery has now had a re-write as a consequence! Thanks all! x



Friday, 18 May 2012

shhh, don't tell anyone but...


... the next book in the Witherstone trilogy,
The Hunt Begins, will definitely
be out by late Summer!

Woo hoo!!





~
Carrion Crow copyright Darren Chapman @www.nottsbirders.net

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Big Announcement

Well, the time has come to go public with The Big Decision

As of 10th May 2012, I will not longer be the Co-ordinator of the Lancashire Writing Hub. The decision to leave was a difficult one to make in many ways, but was the right decision in that it’s time for me to concentrate my energies on my own writing and other projects.

But don’t panic (and please don’t email Lancashire Writing Hub or They Eat Culture to find out what’s happening or offer to take over my job!) because the Lancashire Writing Hub will be looking at new ways to develop, and any news regarding a new Co-ordinator post and any new projects will be announced in due course.

And in the meantime, it’s business as usual!

The Lancashire Writing Hub has got a fabulous series of Guest Editors already in place to manage the website for the next 12 months, the Writing in Libraries creative writing courses in May and June/July are going ahead, and Word Soups are already lined up for May 31st and September 27th at The Continental in Preston and November 29th in Lancaster, plus there will also be some really interesting literature stuff going on for the Preston Guild!

It has been a genuine pleasure working with all you lovely North West writers at The Lancashire Writing Hub, and with my fab colleagues at They Eat Culture, and I will still be out and about in the writerly world so I hope to see many of you Out There in the near future. So it only remains for me to say thank you, and good night.