Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Plus and Minus!

Poppy and Barney

Sorry I’ve not been around of late, but it’s been a fraught week to say the least. My laptop of 11 months shut down in the middle of Word and would not start up. Then hotmail suspended my email account. After several security checks I got it back, but all of this paled when our little doggie became very very sick. So sick we thought we were going to lose her. Thankfully she is back to her bouncing little self, unaware of the nightmare she caused and the sleepless nights.


On a more positive note, I received an email from a reader about Storm Clouds Gathering and this is what they had to say…”I have been meaning to send you an email to say how much I enjoyed reading Storm Clouds Gathering recently.  I haven’t taken time out to read novels for years, but decided to download yours and make the time to relax!  I was so impressed – the storyline was gripping beginning to end and I didn’t want to put it down – which is always the test of a good read to me – I really felt that I had got to know the characters and was left wanting to know how their lives continued – which is not so easy to achieve.    You must have done such a lot of research too to get the historical background just so perfect. 

“So I’m looking forward to In the Cold light of Day very much.  In the meantime, I think I shall choose one of your other books for my Bank Holiday weekend read!”

Thank you so much lovely reader. And thank you too for stopping by, have a great week. Until next time.

Pauline xx

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Beaten byTechnology!

After the launch of the book cover for my latest book, In the Cold Light of Day, I decided I needed to update my web site with the details. Having managed my web site for years, you can imagine the shock I had when the changes I made were replicated on every page on my site!

It seemed, naively, I had a pressed button that assumed what I had added was meant to be on all pages. No worries, I thought! I can reverse this. Wrong! Whatever I did would not reverse what I had done. After contacting Moonfruit, who hosts my web site, I was able to continue, but not without major changes. So with everything in a mess, I decided a makeover was necessary. Many hours later I have a new looking web site. I think it looks so much better, but what do you think?

I hope your week has been a good one filled with sunshine. As always thanks for stopping by. Have a fabulous week and catch up again soon.

Pauline x

Monday, 25 August 2014

Cover Reveal!

Today I am so excited to reveal the cover for my latest book, In the Cold Light of Day. This beautiful cover was produced by the wonderful Cathy Helms from Avalon Graphics

Scheduled for October publication, here are a few words which I hope will tempt you...

Set in 1967, London, In the Cold Light of Day is an emotional story of Bertie and Kitty Costain, intelligent, mature and wealthy, who appear to have a perfect life, but their life is a lie and only one of them realises the deceit when it is all too late.

Addiction comes in many guises and when it takes hold even the addicted cannot see the destruction left in their wake or the pain that eventually squeezes the life out of everything.

As night turns into the cold light of day is love strong enough to cope and hold the tangled threads together to prevent the inevitable?

Thank you for taking time out to peek at my new cover. Have a fabulous day.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

It's Gone!

What a week it has been! I have never suffered from a bad back in the way that you are crippled with pain and unable to walk, well, that was until last week. Without warning I found myself on the floor unable to stand without excruciating pain. I still have no idea what I did to cause it, but thankfully it was only a few days before I was back to normal. I put down the speedy recover to my daily walk and run before breakfast. I do!

Back on my feet and catching up with everything when on Monday a high backed vehicle came down our little narrow road and ripped out the overhead cables for our telephone and internet. The driver did not bother to stop, even after our neighbour went out to him! The outcome of this meant no telephone or internet for nearly three days. Life had come to an end. Well it did seem that way at the time. The question I asked and still do, how did we manage before the internet?

Notwithstanding the traumas of above, the week did improve. I used my down time with my back to continue the edit and re-read of my latest book, In the Cold Light of Day, and as soon as we had internet, it was ready to go to my wonderful editor. Whilst the next few weeks will be busy with any changes that maybe suggested, the book cover is being designed and produced by Cathy at Avalon Graphics. So despite these little gremlins sneaking in, it's all systems go on my latest book. And as soon as I have more details, I will share them with you. In the meantime, have a fabulous day and thank you for stopping by.

P.S. I hope you like the cat!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Sitting Round my Pool - Madalyn Morgan talking about WWI

On the anniversary of declaration of WWI  I'm delighted to have top selling author, Madalyn Morgan sitting round my pool looking back at those uncertain times. Take away Madalyn...

My novels are set in WWII and, during a recent interview, I was asked if war excited me.  War doesn’t excite me, I am a pacifist, however, WWI, WWII, and the years inbetween, were the most important in history for women – and that excites me.  The greatest change for women and society happened during the First World War.  When tens of thousands of men were sent overseas to fight, women had to do their jobs.

Women on the Front Line
There was only one female soldier in WW1.  Flora Sandes, a vicar’s daughter from Yorkshire, joined St. John’s Ambulance as a volunteer.  She swapped her first aid bandages for a rifle during fierce fighting in Serbia and was accepted into the Second Infantry Regiment of the First Serbian Army, as a Private.  In 1916, during the Serbian advance on Bitola (Monastir), Sandes was seriously wounded by a grenade in hand-to-hand combat.  She received the highest decoration of the Serbian Military, the Order of the Karađorđe's Star - the equivalent of the Military Cross.  By the end of the war, she was mentioned twice in Dispatches for exceptional bravery – and later promoted to Captain. 
 Captain Flora Sandes

Another woman to go to the front was battlefield surgeon Elsie Inglis, who worked for the Scottish Women’s Hospitals.  She was a formidable woman, talented surgeon, compassionate doctor and militant suffragette.  Dr Inglis was a pioneer who fought the prejudice of male-dominated Victorian society, where women were expected to become wives and mothers and leave doctoring to the menfolk.  In 1914 the Army did not permit women doctors, so she set up a medical unit in France and sent 14 teams of women volunteers to give medical help on the battlefields.  In 1915 she went to Serbia where Serbs were fighting Germans and Austrians.  She faced many hardships, dangerous battles, freezing weather and being arrested as a spy.  From Serbia, Elsie went to Russia to work as a war doctor.  She returned home to Scotland in November 1917 because she had cancer.  She died shortly afterwards.

Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson, also a battlefield surgeon, set up Endell Street Military Hospital in London with Dr Flora Murray – both were suffragettes.  Run entirely by women the hospital treated more than 24,000 soldiers between 1915 and 1918.  The daily admittance rate was around 80 casualties, and surgeons performed as many as 20 operations in one day.

                                         The Endell Street Military Hospital opened in May 1915

Women on the Home Front
As fathers, husbands and sons, who did essential work in power stations, shipyards and munitions factories were sent overseas to fight, mothers, wives and daughters, replaced them.  Middle class girls abandoned their social calendars to drive ambulances – often during air raids, originally by Zeppelins – and the invisible in society, working class women, were suddenly seen as a valuable work force.

Women worked across the economy – from postal workers to police patrols – and tram drivers to train cleaners.  Cleaning a steam train’s boiler meant wearing trousers – another first.  Women worked as window-cleaners, milkmen, butchers, delivery drivers - and they shovelled coke.

                                                A young woman delivering a sack of coke

To keep up production, women worked 12-hour shifts, for 13 days without a break.  Conditions were hard and could be dangerous.  Filling shells with TNT often caused explosions, and chemicals turned girls’ skin yellow.  They were nicknamed Canary Girls.

                              Women preparing projectile heads at Cunard Shell Works, Merseyside, 1917

Work on the land was backbreaking.  Land Girls worked from dawn until dusk, in all weathers, and without the help of horses.  Heavy horses that pulled the ploughs had been sent to France to pull field artillery.

On a lighter note, because it’s the 2014 World Cup
“We make shells and we’re also terrific at scoring goals.”  Professional players had been called up, so women took over the football pitches.  This team from the AEC Munitions factory in east London played seriously, attracted large crowds and held the Munitionettes’ Cup Final at St. James’ Park in Newcastle.

                                                   The AEC Munitions Factory Eleven

The AEC played for charity, to help wounded men coming home from the war.  They wore their frilly munitions mobcaps with pride – and at a time when many women still wore skirts to the ground – they were wore shorts and showed their knees.

In 1914, soldiers fought on foot or horseback.  Eight million horses were killed on the Western Front, about the same number as human casualties.  A baboon named Jackie served in South Africa, and on the battlefields of France dogs were used as sentries and messengers.  Mercy dogs with medical supplies strapped to them were trained to find wounded and dying soldiers.  A Mercy dog would keep a fatally injured soldier company by lying next to him until he died.

The British Army used more than one hundred thousand pigeons to carry messages.  When the war ended, homing pigeons became a protected species.  Killing or wounding them was punishable by six months in prison, or a £100 fine. 


                                                      A portable pigeon loft in WWI

The First World War was a time of military innovation.  By 1917, the British Armed Forces were fighting with tanks and aeroplanes – and battlefield communications were by radio.

Women - Recognised at last
Women did the same work as men but for less than half the pay.  Men, often in charge of the female workforce, usually disagreed with equality for women.  In engineering skilled work was broken into smaller individual tasks so women did not challenge men’s skilled status.  However, on February 6, 1918, the Representation of the People Act giving the vote to women over thirty received Royal Approval.  It was the beginning of equality for women.

WSPU founders Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst

After WWI men’s attitudes towards women began to change.  Men had the vote at 21, the suffragists at 30, but as voters, they could exercise direct influence on parliament – and they did.  It took many years before men recognised women as equals.  Some still don’t.
     One of the biggest improvements in the lives of women during the First World War was health.  Women lived longer and had healthier lives.  After the war infant mortality was reduced by two thirds – and smaller households and earnings rising faster than food prices meant there was more food to go around.  However, many women were forced from their jobs once the men returned and had to go back to domestic life.  Many women had earned the right to vote, but such things as higher education, going to university, having a career as a lawyer, doctor, or MP, were still overwhelmingly the preserve of men.

The Great War.  The war to end all wars 
And it may well have been, if a Gefreiter (corporal) in the Bavarian Army named Adolf Hitler hadn’t been so lucky.  In 1916, Hitler was wounded in the left thigh at the Somme when a shell exploded in his dugout, and in 1918, he was blinded in a mustard-gas attack.  Hundreds of young men faced a lifetime in darkness after they were blinded by mustard gas, but Hitler got away with it.  How different the world would have been if Hitler hadn’t had the luck of the devil.

Lest We Forget   On August 4, 2014, it is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, one of the costliest conflicts in history.  The war started and ended in Africa.  The first shot fired by a British soldier came from a Ghanaian in the Gold Coast Regiment on August 7, 1914.  And the last German troop to surrender was in present day Tanzania on November 25, 1918.
    The tragic and horrific statistics of the First World War are hard to take in.  The total number of military and civilian casualties was over 37 million.  Over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded make it one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. 
     The total number of deaths is estimated at 10 million military personnel and 7 million civilians.  The Allies lost 6 million military personnel, and the Central Powers lost 4 million.  At least 2 million died from diseases and 6 million went missing, presumed dead.  Around two-thirds of military deaths in World War I were in battle, unlike the conflicts that took place in the 19th century when the majority of deaths were due to disease. 

The young men who went off to war in 1914 left behind an old world.  Those lucky enough to return in 1918 came home to a new world, a modern world, a world that was full of changes.  Soldiers like my grandfather, who survived although he was shot through the knee in 1918, had a new society to come to terms with.  Sadly, some men never managed it.  It is because of the brave servicemen of the First and Second World War who gave their lives for us, that we are able to enjoy freedom today.  It is for this reason that our generation, and future generations, must never forget the sacrifices that so many millions made for us. 

They shall not grow old,
As we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning

Monday, 28 July 2014

Sitting Round my Pool - Julia Ibbotson

Today I have the wonderfully talented Julia Ibbotson sitting round my pool talking about her latest book, Drumbeats. This book has location and time that will immediately pull you in to the story.

Your latest novel, Drumbeats in set in the 1960s in West Africa, what made you choose this period and location?

Well, Pauline, I find the mid-1960s fascinating (as I think you do too!), the music, culture, fashions and so on, and I wanted to reflect this in my book. It was a time, despite all the stuff about drugs and free love, when actually folks were a lot more innocent than today in many ways. And it was a time when ordinary young people, especially women, (my main character Jess is eighteen) were just starting to feel they could be independent and strong and feisty, and make things happen, like men had always done. I guess it was for many people the start of feminism and the first generation where women could travel, go to university, have careers, and be brave. I set the story in Ghana, West Africa, because it is somewhere I know (I did live and work there myself) and I know that 1965-66 was a time of unrest across Africa, a time of a number of government overthrows, coups d’états, dictators ousted, so I could use the dramatic events as a backdrop to Jess’s story. I found Ghana to be a place of almost magical fascination, and to Jess at that time Africa would have seemed very exotic, very different from her stifling home in England. So it was the place she chose to escape to. I wanted, in my novel, to try to evoke the vibrant colours, noises, smells and tastes of Africa. These senses are intense, especially through the eyes of a young woman from a repressed puritanical English background in the 1960s. I hope that I’ve created a strong sense of time and place and that the reader can transport themselves there as they read Jess’s story. I wanted to write a romance but one with something for readers to think about, and with drama, danger and tragedy too. I liked the idea of a rite of passage novel, a young woman finding her way in life.

Drumbeats is the first in a trilogy can you tell more about what readers can expect in the future

The rest of the trilogy follows Jess’s story on from where Drumbeats ends. She is back in England and now has other issues to face. The next novel is called Walking in the Rain and the title is from a 10cc song (The Things we do for Love) which although it was written in 1976 became very popular in the 1980s which is when most of the story is set, although there are flashbacks to past events that build up to the crux of the story, and it seemed to evoke the period and the experiences that Jess was having at that time. Again I wanted to recreate a specific time and place. The final novel in the trilogy is called Before I Die, which isn’t a morbid story about dying at all, but about Jess’s bucket list and how she goes about challenging herself to tick them all off. I haven’t entirely planned this one out yet but I think it’ll be set around the millennium which again is a time of drama and change, and Jess is at the crossroads of her life.

Does this book have anything to do with your own past or experiences?

I think that most novels are in some way a reflection of a writer’s own experiences, or of those around her, albeit in a creative context. If things are truly meaningful to you, then you can write more authentically, I feel. Sometimes it’s about being in touch with the “human condition”, universal human experiences, and reflecting those; things that other people may empathise with, and feel “oh yes, I know what that’s like!” In some ways I sometimes think that there is quite a fine line between creativity and reality! But Drumbeats is a novel, a work of fiction, not an autobiography, although based on some of the experiences I had myself in Ghana. I myself, like Jess, was teaching and nursing there in the African bush villages a few years ago, and I did get involved in some pretty hairy events. Many of the joys, horrors and tragedies were based on things I witnessed first-hand.

What research did you have to undertake to write Drumbeats

Loads! OK, I had been there so I had a feel for the place, but I had to research what was really happening in 1965-6, in England and in Ghana, West Africa. I researched the music, the books, the important events. I listened to a lot of music (Ghanaian highlife, classical and 60s pop) because there’s a lot of music involved in the story. And because Jess goes on a trek to Timbuktu in Mali and to what was called Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) I had to research those places too. It was a time of a number of coups d’états in the area so I needed to get a real feel for what might have happened in that time and place. I also used the internet, of course, Wikipedia, many texts, letters, memoirs of the time, photographs, and more recent books about Ghana.

Tell us a little about you and what made you decide to become a published author.

I’ve always loved writing (and reading) and can’t remember a time when I wasn’t scribbling stories – really ever since I could hold a pencil in my little fist. I wrote my first full length novel when I was ten although it was long since consigned to the manuscript graveyard. The latest novel I’ve just sent to my American publisher was originally written when I was at school, revived at university and then rewritten recently when I’d blown off all the dust. I found it hidden away in the cupboard gathering dust when we moved to a new house and it just kept calling out to me – and of course I hate things going to waste. It’s a children’s book, a new departure for me, and it’s called S.C.A.R.S (which stands for something but I’m not allowed to tell, you have to read it to find out!) and is about a boy who slips through a tear in the universe into a fantasy medieval world. I always wanted to be a published author but I guess I was diverted from my course by the need to earn a living, be a professional and pay the bills, so I became a teacher and thence a university lecturer. I have written and published many academic works, research papers and so on, in the course of my career, but came back to creative writing a few years ago when I started to have a little more time to sit in front of a hot computer keyboard and get lost in a different world.

And finally when can we expect the next book in this trilogy?

Walking in the Rain is due summer 2015, so if you enjoy Drumbeats look out for it; it’ll be available (like Drumbeats) in paperback and ebook on Amazon. I’m hoping that I can get my act together to have the last of the trilogy (Before I Die) on the shelves by summer 2016.

Drumbeats is the first novel in a trilogy and follows 18 year old English student Jess through her gap year in West Africa. It's a rite of passage novel set in the mid-1960s when Jess flees her stifling home background for freedom to become a volunteer teacher and nurse in the Ghanaian bush. Apprehensively, she leaves her first real romantic love behind in the UK, but will she be able to sustain the bond while she is away? With the idealism of youth, she hopes to find out who she really is, and do some good in the world, but little does she realize what, in reality, she will find that year: joys, horrors and tragedy. She must find her way on her own and learn what fate has in store for her, as she becomes embroiled in the poverty and turmoil of a small war-torn African nation under a controversial dictatorship. Jess must face the dangers of both civil war and unexpected romance. Can she escape her past? And why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams?

Julia Ibbotson and her husband have four children and live in a renovated Victorian rectory in the heart of the English countryside, complete with orchard, kitchen garden and too far many moles and wild rabbits for her liking. Their life in the rectory is depicted in The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, an award-winning memoir complete with recipes to feed the soul. She is an author and academic, and loves choral singing, reading, walking, swimming, sailing, gardening and cooking.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Answering Five Fun Questions

I've answered these fun questions

First lines are important in novels. What is the favourite first lines you’ve written and from what work is it? (provide a link if it’s published).

Nothing in her wildest dreams had prepared Doreen Wilkinson for something like this. But then, nothing had prepared her for winning the lottery either.
Several million. Several million. Eleven million, three hundred and fifty four thousand, two hundred and ten pounds and nineteen pence to be precise.
She had giggled at the nineteen pence. “Break the bleedin’ bank that will!” Sometimes It Happens… http://www.amazon.co.uk

If someone told you your characters were sitting in the room across the hall, would you walk across to meet them? Why or why not?

I most certainly would. All of them have left an impression on my mind, even the evil, Henry Bryant-Smythe from Satchfield Hall. Though I would love to meet Jane Leonard from Magnolia House so I could give her a hug and tell her how her story broke my heart. I would know if Doreen Wilkinson from Sometimes It Happens… was across the hall because her giggle would be filling the air.

If you could magically become one of your characters, who would it be?

Too tough to answer this one, but I can say I have walked in the shoes of every one of my characters. I have felt their pain, and shared their joy. We have laughed together and at times we have cried together as we travelled along the winding road of their journey.

What day of the week is your favourite for writing?

I write most days, but mainly in the afternoons (sometimes I have a little helper checking!!). Most mornings are taken up with other commitments. And I can be found from time to time away from my laptop at weekends!   

Compare one of your novels to a food item, drink or entré. (provide a purchase link)

Sparkling, bubbly and tantalising , champagne is definitely Sometimes It Happens…  Amazon.co.uk