Friday, 28 September 2018

News: Snow Angel and Boxset Bargain!

By JJ Marsh

Beatrice Stubbs is back!
The old girl retired at the end of Bad Apples, but there's no way she'll stop having adventures.

By JD Smith Design
This book has been coming for a long time. I always wanted to write an homage to the Golden Age of Crime and its literary ladies: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, Josephine Tey and Georgette Heyer. Even as a kid, I loved all that intrigue masked as innocence and the mucky truth behind the public façade. Locals have their own traditions and codes of honour, creating a wall of secrecy outsiders rarely penetrate.

The cover is by our resident genius JD Smith Design, and below is the blurb.
Release date is 16 November for ebooks and 6 December for paperbacks.
Pre-orders  available at Amazon and all other retailers.

Then I have a present for you.
Snow Angel: Old secrets, new lies

Love is a driving passion.
So is hate.

December in a small Devonshire village is the perfect time for a Yuletide fête, a wedding or a murder. Now retired, Beatrice Stubbs is busy with wedding preparations. Not for herself – co-habiting with Matthew is as far as she’s prepared to commit – but Adrian and Will are getting married. She’s Chief Bridesmaid and the theme is Narnia.

When a local celebrity dies in suspicious circumstances, Matthew encourages Beatrice to do a little private investigating. Her enquiries turn up more than predicted and she discovers her nearest and dearest are capable of deceit.

A snowstorm hits the village and Beatrice chases a lead, throwing everyone’s plans into disarray and threatening lives. Ancient forests conceal a complex web of connections and loyalties, false reputations and poison.

To celebrate the seventh book in the series, Boxset One is on sale until Sunday. This weekend only, you can get the first three novels at the criminally low price of £1.99/$1.99.
On Amazon
At all other retailers



If you're still not sure this is the series for you, why not try the prequel, free of charge?
Subscribers to my mailing list get Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies as a welcome present.



Have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The Big 5 Winner!

The Winner of the Triskele Books/Words with JAM 2018 Big 5 Mentorship Competition is ...

Philippa Scannell!!

An incredibly strong field of entrants led to much wrangling over the shortlist. But once chosen, we were absolutely sure any one of the finalists would be worth a year of support, advice and shared expertise.


Over to judge Roz Morris, whose job was even tougher. Here's her report.

How to choose a winner in such a breadth of entries? There were narrators who were unreliable or dreaming; narrators who were hiding or tormented or unsure if they could trust their senses. Narrators who were on the brink of terrible events. They wrote in voices that were defensive, or confidential or sassy or secretive. Some were fiction; some were not. You might as well compare apples to airspeeds.

To begin with, I was at a loss. But as I read, I realised there was a common value I was picking up. It was this: the strength of the writer's relationship with the reader. It's a quality all books stand or fall by, how intimately they win the reader's confidence. Explaining this is not easy; it's more a feeling - a feeling that the author is in step with your thoughts as they place their words. Our job title even says it - an author has authority.

And so I chose Rape And The Road To Recovery.

The clincher was this sentence:
'Although I was raped, I promise never to say, ‘I know how you feel’.

A simple statement. But reader, it knows your biggest question before you've even figured it out yourself. It creates a tone, too, of plain speaking, truth seeking. It establishes trust. Indeed, you might notice a charming paradox because its effect contradicts its literal meaning. By saying 'I don't know how you feel', it proves that it does.

You might argue that this author had an advantage because the material was real experience. But that is not what gives it this power. The treatment is.

The excerpt goes on to consolidate that relationship with the reader, with facts that speak of the author's scope and sensitivity. It mentions resources, words that survivors often use, experience teaching self-defence, research beyond the immediate subject on attitudes and education. Although the writer's journey may have started from a personal trauma, this book will be wider than that, and wiser. It has - in short - authority.


All of us at Triskele Books are delighted with Roz's choice. It is a privilege to work on such a book, not to mention a challenge. This is the first step on a journey which will educate all of us.

But let's hear from the winner: here's how Philippa reacted to the news of her mentorship.


I can't believe it! I created Rape & the Road to Recovery to give a voice to the voiceless and to show that rape can happen to anyone, anywhere. Writing the book was a journey in itself and winning this prize makes it feel like all the tears and rejections along the way were worth it. I can't wait to tell all the people who contributed to the book.
It is hard to put in to words how happy I am to know that my book has a real chance of getting published now and getting to the audience it was written for. Winning this mentorship is such a huge opportunity. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Roz Morris and everyone at Triskele Books.

Philippa and the Triskele Team will check in regularly to report on progress. But for now, we raise a  glass to say congratulations to Philippa and well done to the shortlisted authors. All the very best on your publishing journey!




 








Friday, 17 August 2018

SIX OF THE BEST : Literary Welsh Connections

By Gillian Hamer

For a small country, Wales certainly has a huge amount of literary clout - not only in the talents of Welsh authors but as setting for some superb fictional triumphs. Below, I list six of my personal favourites.


THE MABINOGION

No foray into Welsh literature would be complete without a mention of this book; it is the original, earliest and probably the best collection of Welsh prose stories. Legend tells that the stories of the Mabinogion were carried down from oral versions and were translated and compiled in the 12th and 13th century into a collection of eleven stories that we know today that appear in either or both of two medieval Welsh manuscripts, the White Book of Rhydderch and the Red Book of Hergest.
The topics are wide and varied from philosophy to tragedy to humour many heavy with Welsh folklore and Celtic traditions. The stories were translated into English and modern Welsh in 1838 and are today part of the Welsh national curriculum.


UNDER MILK WOOD
I’m not a huge follower of much of Dylan Thomas’s work, but I fell into love at school with the drama Under Milk Wood from the moment our English literature teacher told our class that the name of the fictional Welsh fishing village – Llareggub – was actually Bugger All spelled backwards! With that kind of dark humour attracting me, I enjoyed both the 1954 BBC radio adaption and the 1972 film version.
The narrator takes the listener on a journey through the dreams and nightmares of the inhabitants of Llareggub, showing the dark and innermost thoughts of those who no one believed had ever owned a dark side. With fantastic characters such as Captain Cat, Myfanwy Price, Jack Black and Evans the Death this is a fantastic exploration of real people’s desires and fears from a hugely talented writer who found it easy to explore human nature.


THE LITTLE STRANGER

And what connection can this iconic novel by Sarah Waters have with Wales? Well, none is the honest answer. But the author certainly did. Born in Neyland, Pembrokeshire in 1966 Waters has often mentioned the beauty of the Pembrokeshire countryside as one of the greatest inspiration for her work. The Little Stranger is a brilliantly told story of family, mistrust and even ghosts if you believe in that kind of thing. It is currently being adapted into film.
For me there is a Celtic essence through much of Water’s writing and for that reason I believe she should be included in the Welsh connections.


FALL OF GIANTS

Another author with strong Welsh connections. Born in Cardiff, Follett was a reporter at the South Wales Echo and said his love of literature was sparked by visits to the Cowbridge Road Library in Cardiff, which he joined when he was seven.
My favourite work is his 2012 epic Fall of Giants, with follows the lives of  five families through the trials and dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women and features a coal mining family based in part on his grandfather’s experience of working in the pits from the age of thirteen.


MIDNIGHT SKY SERIES

Jan Ruth's series of contemporary women's fiction novels is set in one of my favourite places in the world - the North Wales coastline. Her use of location as a character in its own right brings her writing alive for me. And her passion for horses combined with the beauty of the landscape gives the reader the feeling of being in safe hands. For anyone who doesn't understand the power of location, I certainly recommend this series, or any other book by this author, and can imagine many people have chosen to take a visit to Conwy and the surrounding area after reading this author's work.



UNTIL OUR BLOOD IS DRY

Written by Kit Habianic a fiercely proud Welsh author and based on the fiercely proud past generations of her Welsh forbears, this is a spine-tingling read about a period in history that put Wales in the news for all the wrong reasons. When the miner's strike devastated normal working families in the South Wales valleys in the mid-1980's there were a huge number of stories of individual triumphs and disaster like the one detailed here. This novel screams everything that it means to be Welsh - the history, language, passion, tragedy and the intensity of the time comes across brilliantly here. Highly recommended.










Thursday, 2 August 2018

Six of the Best: Books Set in British Cities

by Catriona Troth

You could often be forgiven for thinking – at least as far as fiction is concerned – that British urban life begins and ends at the boundaries of Greater London. In the immediate postwar period, books like John Braine’s Room at the Top and Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning featured northern cities. But it is hard to find modern equivalents.

Birmingham is relatively well served, with books such as Nice Work by David Lodge, Jonathan Coe’s The Rotters Club, Meera Syall’s Anita and Me or – more recently – Kit de Waal’s My Name is Leon. But my beloved Coventry – so rich in music and stories – scarcely appears in novels at all. (If anyone knows better, I’d love to hear from you!)

But here are six books that do capture a slice of urban life outside the Metropolis.


BRADFORD: Girl Zero by AA Dhand

Like all the best crime writers, Dhand explores the dark underbelly of the place he loves – and his Bradford can get very dark indeed. His first novel tackled drugs and racial violence. This second book opens with his detective, Harry Virdee, confronting the body of his own niece. To begin with it seems likely that her death is linked to his brother’s nefarious activities. But (reminiscent of Craven in the incomparable 80s television series, Edge of Darkness) he soon finds she has been uncovering some dark and dangerous secrets of her own – in this case the activities of a child grooming gang. These are modern atrocities crying out to be explored through the medium of crime fiction. Yet there is so much danger of either tarring a whole community with the sins of a few, or looking away for fear of causing offense, that perhaps it’s taken a writer from a British Asian community to dare to turn this into fiction.

Read my full review on BookMuseUK. 
 

BRISTOL: The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

This book won the 2013 Costa Book of the Year for mental health nurse Filer, who has used his experience to create a rare and honest portrayal of schizophrenia. But the book is also an examination of the impact of grief and loss on a family. And if this all sounds heavy, it is also at times both funny and touching.

In the end notes, Filer describes envisaging the book as ‘the crumpled stack of Matt’s writing and drawings; the typewriter pages with their smudged ink; the letters from Denise; the words that Patricia cut up and stuck down with Pritt Stick.” What a joy that would be to discover in a book shop – if hopelessly expensive to produce.

Read my full review on BookMuseUK. 

GLASGOW: Psychoraag by Suhayl Saadi

Psychoraag takes place in the course of one evening. It is the last night of broadcasting for an Asian radio station in Glasgow, and DJ Zaf is alone. Zaf’s thoughts range over the changing nature of the South Asian community who are his audience, his parents’ long journey from Pakistan to Glasgow, his sometimes rocky relationship with his girlfriend Babs, and his even rockier relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Zilla, whom he may or may not have started on a path that led to drug-addiction and prostitution. As the long night wears on, it becomes harder and harder to work out what is really happening and what is the product of Zaf’s exhausted brain.

Written in broad Glaswegian dialect, peppered with expressions in Urdu, Arabic, Punjabi and even Gaelic, Psychoraag is a rollercoaster of a ride, not for the fainthearted.

Read my full review on BookMuseUK.


IPSWICH: 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

A wonderful, lyrical novel exploring what is means for a small family to have been separated by a war, to have undergone terrible experiences and keep secrets from each other – and then to have to pick up the threads of their lives again after the war. The main characters are, like many others in East Anglia, Polish. The father fought with the Polish arm of the RAF; the wife and son are refugees, traced to a Red Cross camp after the War. 

LIVERPOOL – An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge

Bainbridge’s classic captures life Liverpool as it must have been when my parents met there in the late 1940s. She also captures the now all-but vanished world of the repertory theatre, as the action is set in the midst of a Christmas production of Peter Pan – with the title referencing Peter’s chilling quote: “to die would be an awfully big adventure.” So much of post-War British society is encapsulated – from the shabbiness and deprivation to the entrenched classism and the repression of its sexual politics. You know this is a world that is on the point of vanishing. 

SHEFFIELD: The Year of the Runways by Sunjeev Sahota

< The story opens with a scene that echoes the early episodes of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Young men, far from home, packed together in cramped, basic conditions, working long hours on a construction site to send money back to their families. Through the lens of these four lives, Sahota reveals the human face of economic migration, the myth of return, and such headline fodder as illegal workers, scam marriages and abused student visas. This is a book that will shake your belief that we are in any way a ‘fair’ or ‘equal’ society. Like Dickens’ Victorians, we climb on the backs of an army of invisible poor. The only difference is the poverty is now globalised.

Read my full review on BookMuseUK.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Big 5 2018 Mentorship Competition Shortlist Announced!


 


 
Triskele Books and Words With Jam are happy to announce the six shortlisted entries of our Big 5 2018 Mentorship Competition –– from manuscript to publication –– worth over £5000!

Pleased with the multitude and quality of the entries, three members of the Triskele team read each and every one before finally coming to a joint decision.

We enjoyed reading through the variety of genres: everything from non-fiction to young adult, crime thrillers, sci-fi-fantasy, historical and literary fiction.

The winners have been contacted and invited to send the first 10 pages of their manuscript before September 1st to our independent judge, Roz Morris, who will select one winner to be announced on Friday 4 November 2018.

Thank you to all who entered, ensuring our competition was a huge success. From the shortlist, I just know we’re going to have so much fun working on a great book to bring it up to publishing standard!



So, without further ado, here are the six shortlisted winners, in no particular order:

Eleven Bodies by Rachel McHale

Doll Face by Dianne Stadhams

The Legend of Anon Ra by Elinor Perry-Smith

Shadows From Yesterday by Natalie Smith

Rape & the Road to Recovery by Philippa Scannell 

Still Breathing Air by Wendy Storer 


Look out for more details soon!

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Six of the Best: Powerful Women in History

by JD Smith

We have all heard of Cleopatra, Boadicea, Helen of Troy, Elizabeth I. They are famed for their  prominence in a man's world, but what of those who are lesser known yet equally influential, powerful and dominant. Here's a peek at my top six lesser known women in history:

Grace O'Malley (1530 - 1603)

O'Malley became lord of the Ó Máille dynasty in the west of Ireland following the death of her father, Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille, despite having a brother, Dónal an Phíopa Ó Mháille. 

Marriage to Dónal an Chogaidh Ó Flaithbheartaigh brought her greater wealth and influence, reportedly owning as much as 1,000 head of cattle and horses. In 1593, when her sons and her half-brother were taken captive by the English governor of Connacht, Sir Richard Bingham, she sailed to England to petition for their release. She formally presented her request to Elizabeth I at her court in Greenwich, refusing to bow because she did not acknowledge Elizabeth being a queen.

Ching Shih (1775 - 1844)

Shih was a Chinese pirate who led one of the largest piracy fleets to ever exist, commanded up to 40,000 pirates. She enter into conflict with the British and Portuguese Empires, as well as the Qing dynasty.

The Chinese government attempted to destroy her fleet in a series of battles, but were unable to do so. Shih captured the government's ships and took them over, adding to her own fleet, and the Chinese were left with only fishing vessels and the like for military use. 


Artemisia I of Caria (5th Century BCE)
Artemisia was a Greek queen of the ancient Greek city of Halicarnassus and of the nearby islands of Kos, Nisyros and Kalymnos. She fought as an ally of Xerxes I, King of Persia against the independent Greek city states during the Persian invasion of Greece. She personally commanded her own five ships in the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE. She is mostly known through the writings of Herodotus, himself a native of Halicarnassus, who praises her courage and the respect in which Xerxes held her.


Borte Ujin (1161-1230) 
Borte Ujin was empress of the Mongolian Empire, the largest land empire in history. She was also one of Genghis Khan’s wives and most trusted advisers. Whilst many of Genghis Khan's wives accompanied him as he went to war for long periods, she ruled the Mongol homeland and managed her own court.


Wu Zetian (690 - 705)

Wu was the sole officially recognized empress regnant of China in more than two millennia. Her political and military leadership includes the major expansion of the Chinese empire, extending it deep into Central Asia, and engaging in a series of wars on the Korean Peninsula.


Wu's leadership resulted in important effects regarding social class in Chinese society and in relation to state support for Taoism, Buddhism, education, and literature.


Queen Hatshepsut (1507–1458 BC)
Hatshepsut was fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. According to Egyptologist James Henry Breasted, Hatshepsut is also known as "the first great woman in history of whom we are informed.

Hatshepsut officially ruled jointly with Thutmose III, who had ascended to the throne as a child of about two years old. Hatshepsut was the chief wife of Thutmose II, Thutmose III’s father.

During her reign she established many trade routes, funding trading expeditions and building the wealth of the eighteenth dynasty. She was also one of the most prolific builders in ancient Egypt, commissioning hundreds of construction projects.


Credit: Wikipedia

Friday, 6 July 2018

Six of the Best: Books on WW2 French Resistance


By Liza Perrat

The French village in which I live originally inspired me for the first novel, Spirit of Lost Angels, of my French historical trilogy, The Bone Angel.

An exhibition in a museum in Saint-Martins-en-Haut, a neighbouring village, gave me the idea to base the second novel of the trilogy, Wolfsangel, around the French Resistance to the Nazi occupation during WW2.



 I realised that this region, like many others in France, was a hotbed of French resistance. During my research, I was fortunate to speak with several members of the Resistance, who were only too happy to relive their days of fighting for the liberation of their country.

But for further information, I consulted both fiction and non-fiction books on the subject.

Here are six of my favourites, four non-fiction and two fiction works, with Goodreads links:


NON-FICTION

by Lucie Aubrac


Lucie Aubrac (1912-2007), of Catholic and peasant background, was a history teacher in Lyon, married to Jewish engineer, Raymond Aubrac, when WW2 broke out.

The couple soon joined the Resistance movement in opposition to the Nazis and their collaborators, and Outwitting the Gestapo is Lucie’s harrowing account of her participation: of the months when, heavily-pregnant, she planned and took part in raids to free comrades—including her husband, under Nazi death sentence—from Montluc, the prison of Klaus Barbie, infamous Butcher of Lyon.
 
Her book was also the basis for the 1997 French movie, Lucie Aubrac, which I greatly enjoyed.



by Agnès Humbert


Agnès Humbert was an art historian in Paris during the German occupation in 1940. Stirred to action by the atrocities she witnessed, she joined forces with several colleagues to form an organized resistance.

In fact, their newsletter, Résistance, gave the French Resistance its name. During their struggle for freedom, the members of
Humbert’s group were betrayed to the Gestapo; Humbert herself was imprisoned.

In immediate, electrifying detail, Humbert describes her resistance against the Nazis, her time in prison, and the horrors she endured in a string of German labor camps, always retaining — in spite of everything — hope for herself, for her friends, and for humanity.


by Vercors

The Silence of the Sea, written in Nazi-occupied France, is an intensely dramatic story of an old Frenchman and his niece, and of the German officer billeted in their house. Both the story, and the circumstances of its publication, bear eloquent witness to the triumph of the mind of man over terrible circumstances.

The identity of the author, “Vercors” is unknown, though he was undoubtedly one of that large number of French men of letters who, like the old man in “The Silence of the Sea”, refused to compromise with the Nazis in any way.

This novel, written in mortal peril, published clandestinely in France and smuggled to freedom, is a real victory for the human spirit, showing that humans have cared enough for things of the mind to risk their lives to breach the impenetrable wall of silence the Nazis built around France.


by Anne-Marie Walters

On a cold, moonlit night in January 1944, Anne-Marie Walters, just twenty years old, parachuted into southwest France to work with the Resistance in preparation for the long-awaited Allied invasion.

The daughter of a British father and a French mother, she was to act as a courier for George Starr, head of the “Wheelwright” circuit of the Special Operations Executive. Over the next seven months, Walters crisscrossed the region, carrying messages, delivering explosives, arranging the escape of downed airmen, and receiving parachute drops of arms and personnel in the dead of night, living in constant fear of capture and torture by the Gestapo.

Then, on the very eve of liberation, she was sent off on foot over the Pyrenees to Spain, carrying urgent dispatches for London. It is a tale of high adventure, comradeship and kindness, of betrayals and appalling atrocities, and of the often unremarked courage of many ordinary French men and women who risked their lives to help drive German armies from French soil. And through it all shines her quiet courage, a keen sense of humor and, above all, her pure zest for life.

***

FICTION

by Elisabeth Gille

A haunting and powerful book written by one of the daughters of Irène Némirovsky, author of Suite Française. Némirovsky and her husband died in Nazi concentration camps, but their daughters were hidden and escaped death.


In this story, Elisabeth Gille gives a fictionalized account of when, as five-year old Lea Levy, she was hidden away by the nuns of a Bordeaux convent when the Nazis deported her parents.


But there is no happy ending for her after the fall of Nazi Germany, which is what makes this book so powerful, to see the pain and suffering for the Jews that came after liberation.


 
by Sebastian Faulks (French Trilogy #3)

Charlotte Gray is the story of a young Scottish woman who becomes caught up in the effort to liberate Occupied France from the Nazis while pursuing a perilous mission of her own.

In blacked-out, wartime London, Charlotte Gray develops a dangerous passion for a battle-weary RAF pilot, and when he fails to return from a daring flight into France she is determined to find him.

In the service of the Resistance, she travels to the village of Lavaurette, dyeing her hair and changing her name to conceal her identity. Here she will come face-to-face with the harrowing truth of what took place during Europe’s darkest years, and will confront a terrifying secret that threatens to cast its shadow over the remainder of her days.


Resistance museum poster


Resistance museum poster