Unsung books & all the fun of the fair

The recent Big Jubilee Book List is the latest in a trend that’s been around for a while now. ‘Top 100 Books to Read Before You Die!’ ‘The BBC Believes You’ve Only Read 6 of These Books!*’, ‘Most Popular Books of (any year you care to choose!)’ And my particular favourite, ‘An Editor’s Bookshelf, Not Including the Pictures of Her Dog.’

The list, so to speak, is endless.

I’m not entirely sure what purpose these lists serve. That they are informative is a given, but the implied element of competition always strikes me as slightly passive aggressive. If you haven’t read Ulysses, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, or Love in the Time of Cholera, what on earth have you been doing with your reading time?

The books on display at the forthcoming Honno Authors Book Fair are, by and large, unsung outside of Wales. None of them have reached the giddy heights of a BBC instructional list. These omissions, however, in no way lessen their value as books worth buying and reading. And several have been long and shortlisted for prizes (one has been a winner.) Some have featured as Book of the Month on a variety of platforms, and as a Readers’ or Publishers’ Choice in numerous publications.

The circles of literature tend to overlap and thanks to the likes of Twitter it is possible to engage in serendipitous and fleeting collisions with the great and the good. I’ve had the odd tweet liked and even commented on by one or two blue tick authors; had a few pleasant interactions. In the moment it generates a grin but the Twitterverse is ephemeral and the twitterati notoriously fickle! The essential nature of a book fair is the opposite of social media. Book fairs are places where real people gather in real time: authors and readers alike. Where it is possible to pick up a book that catches your eye and then, glance up and discover the author, behind her table, happy as Larry’s sister to see you! She may also be a little anxious, in case you don’t in fact want to talk to her at all. The point is, if you do, she will engage because, along with the books, talks and panels, what a book fair offers is the chance to interact with actual authors.

We may not be renowned or have blue ticks; we do have name badges. (Some of us have sweets!) We are most certainly present and unequivocal in our willingness to be as vocal as you like. We are Honno Authors and along with a few guest friends, we look forward to seeing you on Saturday 7 May in the delightful town of Narberth at the newly refurbished and charming Queen’s Hall. For full details of everything on offer see: thornemoore.com/honno-authors-book-fair

* Only twenty-four out of the 100 titles listed are written by women. (And I’ve read most of the list, so the BBC can stick that in it’s proverbial pipe & smoke it!)

Fatal Collison by Thorne Moore Blog Tour

It was an honour to be asked to take part in this event. Today I am delighted to feature Thorne Moore and introduce her latest book, Fatal Collision. To quote, Judith Barrow, Moore possesses ‘a talent for setting the scene . . . Fatal Collision has a strong plot that weaves in and out, juxtaposing the ordinariness of life with disturbing and menacing criminal undertones . . .

Thorne’s back catalogue is equally impressive. Her writing is immaculate and astute. And her female characters in particular have always appealed to me. They are unfailingly interesting and relatable (even the scary ones!), often flawed and above all, authentic. It is no wonder then, that when I asked her to conjure a small essay about writing female protagonists, she wrote this, proving beyond any doubt, she is a woman after my own heart. Welcome Thorne and away we go.

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SAVE ME!
You know the story. Butch guy in metal comes to the rescue of hapless girl at mercy of cruel beast. Butch guy gets grateful girl. It’s a theme that runs all the way from St George and the Dragon, to Lorna Doone, but it isn’t one I follow. Does anyone these days? Except in tales of sado-masochism, maybe. Even the new-model Bond girls do less squealing “James! James! Save me!” They are more likely to come to his aid with a well-aimed karate chop and a Kalashnikov.

I usually write about women and they often do need rescuing, from emotional crises or bad decisions, because fiction needs drama in the form of obstacles to be overcome, but I make it a rule that my women always save themselves. I am not averse to them finishing up with Mr Right, if that’s what they really want, but only after they’ve sorted themselves out. Like a bar of Flake, he’s a little treat they can award themselves when the work’s done.

I don’t want my women to be naturally helpless and passive, waiting for a manly hand to change a light bulb, but I am quite happy for them to be vulnerable. In Fatal Collision, my protagonist, Nicki Bryce, is a woman who, in normal circumstances, would be ready to stand up and fight, or at least argue, with anyone. But circumstances are not normal. Her husband/best friend, Adam, has been killed by a drunk driver. She witnessed the accident and held him as he died, so she is suffering not just from grief but from post-traumatic stress, and that leaves her both numb, unable to deal with issues that are just too much to confront, and vulnerable to the malign whims of others. When the crunch comes, however, she takes matters into her own hands – with a vengeance.

I do slightly slip from my no. 1 rule with Fatal Collision, in that Nicki has a man constantly at her side, or just behind her, and she desperately wants him to save her. She talks to him, he teases her and he tells her what to do when things get tricky. The one thing he can’t do is touch her – because he’s dead. It’s one of those things about grief. You often can’t bear to let go of someone you love, and you’re desperate to believe that they don’t want to let go of you either.

*

Call yourself a friend? asked Adam.

“Call yourself a husband?”

That’s exactly what I am.

“No, you’re not, you’re a pile of ashes. You left me, you bastard.”

*

Fatal Collision, published by Diamond Crime, is out now, available as paperback and Kindle.

Thank you, Thorne! Love the teaser and cannot wait to read Fatal Collision, a copy of which is on order.

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mybook.to/FatalCollision

Thorne’s links:

website and blog: thornemoore.com/

FB Author page: www.facebook.com/thornemoorenovelist

Twitter: twitter.com/ThorneMoore

Amazon author page amzn.to/1Ruu9m1

Honno Authors Book Fair 2022 Guest at my own party

After hosting a number of delightful tales from lockdown from several of my Honno sisters, it’s now my turn.

Initially, the brief was to describe what we had missed about book fairs specifically. This would tie in nicely with the upcoming Honno Authors Book Fair in Narberth on Saturday 7 May. It soon became clear however, most of us have written a book – or seen one published – during lockdown and that became the focus of most of the pieces. As there were no physical launches, and because there were few – if any – book fairs, our books were left to languish in boxes.  

Around the time my third novel, Wild Spinning Girls, was published, just weeks before the first lockdown, I’d ordered two boxes, imagining myself attending several book events. They’re still sitting in the corner of my study. Unexpectedly (and with the requisite startled surprise on my part!) the book was shortlisted for The Wales Book of the Year 2021. Sadly, there were no book outings to show it off at. It was disappointing but I consoled myself with the knowledge that at least I’d been able to have a small physical launch. So many authors were about to be denied this.

One of the things I have found most exciting about being involved with books fairs is the great British public. From the start, it was the people who made book fairs for me. Discovering, from behind my books and postcards and promotion paraphernalia, that people wanted to talk to me about my stories was eye-opening. Gregarious by nature and interested in people; in their views and opinions, I chatted and signed books; dedicated them to individuals who seemed genuinely delighted. Initially nervous, I agreed to appear on a few panels and discovered I enjoyed them. And I realised: this is what I do now. I write books, people read them; I do author stuff and I don’t want it to end.

Only it did.


A great many writers struggled during lockdown. I was lucky, I’m an old hand at my own company, and in any case I already had an idea for a story that was to become my lockdown novel. Although it began life as one of those ‘What if?’ moments several months before the word ‘pandemic’ became endemic in our language, the bulk of the story was written in hibernation. And it became my saviour; a book I adored writing, not least because it was something of a departure. However hard I tried to write it in my usual third person narrative, my central protagonist’s voice insisted otherwise. Perhaps because I was writing under the shadow of the pandemic, I felt blasé and brave enough to acquiesce to her and take the risk.

The majority of this book is written in first person present and it’s been an interesting challenge. It’s also a small, intimate story, taking place over a single month; another departure for me. And unlike my previous books, there is no ghost with a compelling story of her own. The ghosts in Only May lie peacefully in the chapel graveyard, or else they haunt May in the shape of lies and secrets; and in particular, a lie at the heart of her family.

My fourth book for Honno will be published on 19 May. And I shall be at the first Honno Authors Book Fair with pre-publication news and information.

As a group of women writers we are very excited about the forthcoming fair. After two years, we’re back – Honno authors – hosting our very own event and we can’t wait to see you – old friends and new. Readers, browsers, the curious and the questioning. You can even ask me where I get my ideas from. . .

Honno Authors Book Fair 2022 Guest Post with Liz Jones

This week, it is my pleasure to introduce Liz Jones, who will be appearing at the first Honno Authors Book Fair in Narberth on Saturday 7 May 2022. Liz writes creative non-fiction and is the author of the ‘Eminently readable and meticulously researched‘ biography, The Queen of Romance: Marguerite Jervis.

Yet another author who saw her book published during lockdown, Liz was also denied a physical launch. Invited to share her thoughts about lockdown and the things she has missed, Liz sent this delightful essay. Over to you, Liz.

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I am writing this in my back room at home. It’s a small, sunny room, lined with books. At the end sits a pair of drafty French windows (I must get them insulated) overlooking a large-ish, storm-ravaged garden.

There’s nothing unusual about this room. There are plenty of small, square rooms like this, in my road alone. But it’s become my special place, where I come to escape and think more clearly.

I never used to spend much time here, had never got round to adding those loving finishing touches – those special rugs and cushions – that give a room its unique personality.

Then came spring, 2020, and lockdown. All that we love about the outside world was closed, while many of us were cut off from the people we love. My daughter Rachel was grounded in Bucks. , where she had moved to for a job only a few months earlier. She was alone in a tiny village, while her partner, her friends, and her parents, were all far away.

Our other daughter, Sian, had given up her tiny room in London and moved in with us for the duration. Sian is a painter and quickly requisitioned this back room as her makeshift studio. It was here she painted portraits (via Zoom, of course) of everyone from NHS staff to poets, creating a body of work that is about to be exhibited.  

It was a busy time for my husband, Simon, too. A teacher of English for speakers of other languages, he moved his laptop into the living room, making it a virtual classroom by day.

Like Simon, most of my life took place in front of a laptop. When I wasn’t buried under rewrites and final edits of my first ever book, The Queen of Romance, I was teaching lifelong learning classes online, or zooming in on what remained of my social life. As lockdown dragged on, there would be days when the only ‘real’ faces we’d see would be each other’s. We were, of course, among the lucky ones – at least we had each other.

For escape, I took to walking, familiarising myself with my ‘milltir sgwar’ (square mile) in microscopic detail. I also tried my hand at gardening, resulting in a glut of courgettes, closely followed by an outbreak of pumpkin rot.

More productively, I took to the sea. It made the perfect escape from those endless edits and attacks of first-time author nerves. Our little group of sea-dippers grew exponentially and today there are around fifty of us to be sighted off Aberystwyth beach. If the pool hadn’t closed, it would never have happened.

In 2021, the world began to open up, then it closed, before gradually opening up again. By March, with the final (final) edits and the multitude of last minute revisions behind me, I could luxuriate in a brief respite before the 6th May publication day. But it was far from over. As my publishers Honno informed me, promoting the book would be a full-time job. They were not wrong. Radio and television interviews, magazine features and reviews, a blog tour, and a flurry of Tweets followed. It was thrilling, and also exhausting.

As Covid put paid to a book launch, I celebrated at home instead with Simon and Sian. We treated ourselves to a takeaway from our favourite middle-Eastern restaurant (Medina, in Aberystwyth), some extremely rich cheesecake, and a bottle of Morrison’s finest Prosecco. (Oh yes, we can live!)

And it was wonderful. Although I was sorry not to have a launch, our little private celebration – without the pressures of fretting about how it would all go – was a joy.  

That was almost a year ago. Now Simon is back in the classroom. Rachel has moved to Norwich, where she lives with her partner. Sian has moved to Bristol, where she has acquired a better-equipped studio. And I am still at home.

But it is not the same. No longer Sian’s studio, I have reclaimed the back room as my retreat. I love to sit here and stare out through those drafty French doors and, well, just think. I love to browse through the half-read books on the shelves. I also love to write here. After two years of edits, proofs and promotions, and all the anxiety that comes with being a novice author, I am ready to start again. This room feels like a good place to begin.

It sounds perfect, Liz. Thank you for talking to us.

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Discover more about Liz here:
Twitter: twitter.com/lizjonesaber
Amazon: tinyurl.com/4dxk5dus

Honno Authors Book Fair 2022 Guest Post with Sara Gethin

Sara Gethin writes fiction for adults, but as Wendy White she is known for her children’s books. As Sara, she has published two novels for adults with Honno. You will find them at the first Honno Authors Book Fair, scheduled to take place in Narberth on Saturday 7 May.

Like so many writers, Sara saw her latest book, Emmet and Me, published during lockdown. As part of this ongoing thread featuring Honno authors, she agreed to share some of her thoughts and observations about the past couple of years. Over to you, Sara.

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What a start to the new decade we’ve all experienced – seemingly endless lockdown isolation, and Covid bringing devastating heartbreak to so many. I’m extremely thankful that my family stayed well, and we managed to see each other as often as possible. I was very fortunate. Still, the ‘new normal’ of the last two years has been strange to live through, for all of us.

My new normal began with a phone call from my GP in March 2020, advising me to shield. That month – and the next – went by in a blur of navigating online food shopping, and long phone calls to family and friends. I spent my allotted outdoor hour walking along the coast, staring across the waves to the horizon. (I’d read a newspaper article that said big vistas helped dispel the sense of a shrunken world. The tactic seemed to work.) I read a lot of books, although I couldn’t settle to write myself.

But during the beautiful weather of May ’20, my mind was suddenly overflowing with ideas. Every afternoon, I carried my laptop to the little shed in our garden and wrote. Months later, the result was a novel-length story for older children. I’ve provisionally called it ‘The Ghost of Greenvale Hall’. The story is darker than my usual offerings for children, taking in the pandemic, through to the Afghanistan crisis. It needs quite a bit of tidying up before it can be sent out to potential publishers, but I’m very relieved to have written something – anything – in lockdown. My urge to write didn’t abandon me. I’m extremely grateful for that.

During one of the times when indoor gatherings were banned, my second novel for adults, ‘Emmet and Me’, was published. It felt odd to have a new book meet the world in such weird times. As an in-person launch wasn’t possible, Honno, my publisher, organised a Zoom event with the help of Caernarfon-based indie bookshop, Palas Print. We invited Irish book-blogger, Mairéad Hearne, to chat with me about the background to the book, and we were delighted to have so many friends join us. Thank goodness for Zoom! (Now, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.)

It was a lovely launch evening, bringing together Britain, Ireland, and even some countries further afield in a way that would have been difficult in person. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and as we thanked and waved goodbye to our online attendees, I felt there had been only one thing missing – serving up slices of cake. How I miss book events with cake, and booklovers in the room to eat it with!

Two years on from my GP’s first phone call, my new normal hasn’t changed so very much, due to my unruly heart and the news that Omicron has a particularly nasty effect on cardiac rhythms. I’m longing to meet up with my writing groups in person, visit schools to talk about writing as I used to, and be part of the thriving book fair scene once more. Hopefully, all these will be possible for me soon – I know I will certainly never again take them for granted.

So, I’m looking forward, with huge excitement, to the Honno Book Fair on May 7th. It will be inspirational to meet readers and writers visiting the fair at beautiful Narberth, and to get together with fellow Honno authors – setting out the table, unpacking the boxes, getting a slice or two of cake from the café, and spending the whole day talking about books.
Cake and books. Now, what could be more wonderful?

What indeed, Sara! Thank you for taking part.

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To discover more about Sara follow the social media links:

Website: saragethin.com/                
Twitter: twitter.com/SGethinWriter
Instagram: www.instagram.com/saragethinwriter/          
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SaraGethinWriter   
Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Sara-Gethin/


Honno Authors Book Fair 2022 Guest Post with Annette Purdey Pugh

It is my pleasure to introduce, Annette Purdey Pugh, one of Honno’s most recently published authors. Annette will be joining us at the first Honno Authors Book Fair, scheduled to take place in Narberth on Saturday 7 May.

New to publishing and book fairs, I asked Annette to share her thoughts about publishing her first book during lockdown. We look forward to meeting her in person, and welcoming her to her first book fair.

Over to you, Annette!
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My book’s journey towards publication follows almost exactly the course of the first lockdown. Having finally finished my first ever novel, I posted fifty pages to Honno in autumn, 2019. I had no great expectations of the work, but I had been told that Honno were willing to read unsolicited manuscripts, and their website was encouraging. They got back to me in April 2020, with a request for the complete novel, and in August I received the good news that they were offering to publish it. My meeting for coffee with my editor, Lindsay Ashford, in September, was the first time I had ventured into a restaurant for more than six months.

Apart from necessary visits to the supermarket, I went out very little during that autumn. It was an ideal time for editing my novel. My daughter came to stay at half-term and helped by taking some ‘author photos’ as well as an image of Llanerchaeron, which my son doctored to look several times larger so that it could stand in for Rosings. The book – A Murder at Rosings – was finally published in June 2021.

Being such a new author, I didn’t know what to expect after publication, and am still not sure how different the experience would have been without Covid and its repercussions. There was no book launch or bookshop visits, though I did enjoy reading the reviews produced by the blog tour, courtesy of Random Things Tours, and our community newspaper, Y Ddolen, printed a lovely article about me. A kind neighbour did offer to arrange an informal barbecue/promotion event locally later on in the summer when, we hoped, the pandemic would be all but over. In the event, of course, this didn’t happen.

On a day-to-day basis, the lockdown made little difference to life on the farm. Our lambs were born as usual, though without the usual help from family members at Easter, and with more complaining from us. It was a bit more difficult to buy seeds for the garden, and contractors had to make do with tea and sandwiches in the barn instead of round the kitchen table. My husband was unable to go to choir practices (but found the time to build me a greenhouse!). Supermarket visits were reduced to once a fortnight, and the occasional chat with a neighbour, met while walking, had to take place with the width of the lane between us. Sadly, for two years running, the National Eisteddfod – local to us for the first time in years – was cancelled. I continued to write.

Now that restrictions are lifting, I’m still not sure what to expect of the future. The Honno Book Fair in May will be the first such event I have ever attended, whether as writer or reader. Unknown territory, though I’m looking forward to meeting fellow authors, as well as the lovely people from Honno whom I have so far only met remotely.

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Follow Annette on Twitter: twitter.com/apurdeypugh

Honno Authors Book Fair 2022 Meet the Editor Q & A with Caroline Oakley

As part of the book fair, Honno are offering writers the opportunity to meet an experienced editor for a 20 minute individual session. Caroline Oakley is currently working as a freelance editor for Honno, having recently resigned from her role as publisher after seventeen years in the post.

In advance of the event, I asked Caroline for her thoughts. Below is a taster of what you can expect if you decide to book a slot with her. If you want the full experience and a critique of your work, do please consider participating in a Meet the Editor session. These sessions have proved invaluable to a myriad writers; they have paved the way to a publishing deal for many women. Full details can be found here.

Thank you for agreeing to chat to us, Caroline and a big welcome.

Why do I need an editor?
All writing needs a fresh eye – it’s impossible to see what you’ve written with an objective eye. It gets easier with time, but it’s never 100 per cent… I always advise putting a manuscript away for three months minimum if you want to be able to read the words on the page rather than have your memory/subconscious fill in the gaps. You as the author know your characters and plot inside out and your brain will quietly fill in any gaps without you noticing if insufficient time has passed. An outside editor might also see room for changes – additions and deletions – that might never have occurred to you as the author. They’ll be reading from a reader’s point of view as well as that of a writer – which it will be very difficult for you to do (you might be more than somewhat unwilling to kill a few of your darlings; cliché but for a reason!). A good editor will help you see the work differently, perhaps point out facets to the story which hadn’t revealed themselves to you as the originator.

Do I need an agent?
That all depends… If you want to be published by a mainstream commercial trade publishing house, it’s likely you will, as many of them no longer have open calls for submissions (or slush piles as they used to be called). However, a number of increasingly successful small presses do have windows for submissions from unagented authors, or an open submissions policy; just check the publisher’s website for details of how they like to receive submissions, or give them a call and ask their preference. The same applies to literary agencies – check how they like to receive submissions and that your work is something they would consider. The advantages of a literary agent are that they take on the work of promoting and submitting your work to editors – and will have a current active network of editors they have working relationships with, and will know what those editors are looking for. Also a literary agent will take on the task of negotiating with publishing houses, and managing the income from your writing, leaving you to get on with the creative work in peace.

How would you describe The Author’s Voice?
Not sure about the capital letters here, but… Voice is made up of lots of things – vocabulary, point of view, thematic interests, tone, structure. All of these contribute to the ‘voice’ of a novel or piece of writing, as do the kinds of characters and personalities the writer inhabits. Your voice as a writer will be all of these things and also the sum of your experiences and your reading; it’s your interpretation of the world you want the reader to inhabit in written form.


What is the ideal length for a novel?
There’s no such thing, just the ideal length for the story you’ve got to tell. However, the average length for a published novel is probably somewhere around 90,000 words; but you’ll find short novels of 40,000 words at one extreme and great tomes of 150,000+ at the other. I would usually expect to see manuscripts of 60-100,000 words for a work of general fiction or creative non-fiction.

How important are outlines? Do you think they are necessary?
Outlines or synopses are a quick guide to the reader/editor of the type of book the author has intended to write and the likely audience or market for that book were it to be published. It needs to have plot and character development included in it and to outline where the book begins in the storyline, where the main events occur and what they are, and then how and when the book ends. The one thing it is not is a blurb to hook the reader in but not let them know how it ends.

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Thank you, Caroline. We look forward to seeing you at the new
Honno Authors Book Fair
in Narberth on Saturday 7 May, 2022


Honno Authors Book Fair 2022 Guest Post with Thorne Moore

In the second of my guest posts asking some of our authors to share their thoughts about book fairs and the lack thereof over the past two years, I’m delighted to invite Thorne Moore to share her musings. Thorne is another founding member of the the Narberth Book Fair (formally of Tenby) and she is one of Honno’s most successful authors.

Thorne’s Honno novels include her debut, the highly acclaimed domestic noir, A Time For Silence, which became a UK Top Ten Bestseller. Following Motherlove (2015) and The Unravelling (2016) in 2020, Thorne penned The Covenant, a prequel to A Time for Silence.

In addition to her books for Honno, Thorne has a number of other novels to her credit. Not least her two most recently published books, Inside Out (2021) and TWO DAYS AGO – the follow-up, Making Waves. Huge congratulations, Thorne!


Join us at the Honno Authors Book Fair on Saturday 7 May and discover them for yourself! In the meantime, welcome, Thorne and over to you.

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Lockdown. We had to stay at home, hide away, worry over dwindling toilet rolls, never stir beyond our doorsteps and give up any idea of office, travel or general socialising, even with our nearest and dearest. In theory I should have ridden it like a swan on calm waters, because I always did work from home and I generally avoided travelling and socialising if I could, so nothing really changed (and I had a good supply of toilet paper). Strangely though, the first lockdown quite paralysed me. How do you write with any realism about the world when you have no idea what is going to happen to it? Was everything we took for granted about to become an irrelevance? I couldn’t write at all for a couple of months.

I did have a book published, though, The Covenant; a novel I had written before the pandemic landed on us. As a general piece of advice, I’d say don’t launch a book in the middle of a pandemic. Silence can be deafening. And, despite my disinclination to party, the lack of physical book events began to drain me. I especially missed the Narberth Book Fair which I had previously run with Judith Barrow. We had passed on its organisation to the Queen’s Hall in Narberth, unaware that a pandemic was just about to strike and that everything would shut down. Zoom events still happened, of course, but I have discovered I deeply, truly, madly detest Zoom.

Despite the barren desert of literary events, I did resurrect the will to write. It had begun to reassert itself by the end of the first lockdown, but what really spurred me on was an event that has made an enormous difference to me: I turned 66. State pension age! Everything changed.  I had always written, previously, with an eye to getting published and making money. Think Marianne and Eleanor in Sense and Sensibility here. When I say making money, I don’t mean a fortune that would allow me to buy a yacht and a private jet. In fact I wasn’t even expecting to earn enough to survive on dry crusts in a draughty garret. But what I did hope for, with increasing desperation, was a few pounds that would enable me to cut down the time spent doing jobs I didn’t want to do, and have maybe one or two extra hours a week when I could do the only thing I did want to do, which was write.

And lo! Now I am in receipt of a state pension, and I am free to spend all day, every day writing, if I so wish. In theory at least – as I was self-employed, I am still closing the order books. But it does mean I no longer have to confine myself to writing what I think the publishing world will find acceptable. I must, grudgingly, thank Amazon Kindle for that. I no longer have to pour a year’s worth of blood, sweat and tears into a book, only to be told ‘Sorry, not for us.’ I can let writing be a pleasure again and not a chore. I used to write Science Fiction and revel in it, so now I have returned to it. I feel like a Beryl Cook woman, not giving a hoot anymore. There’s a lot to be said for being officially classified as old. I am writing, I am flashing my fur coat, and I am itching for another living, breathing literary event. With facemask, of course.

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You can find out more about Thorne and her books by following the links:
Website: thornemoore.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/ThorneMoore
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thornemoorenovelist
Honno: www.honno.co.uk/
Amazon: tinyurl.com/3j6cp7ue

Honno Authors Book Fair 2022 Guest Post with Judith Barrow

Prior to the first Honno Authors Book Fair in May, my first guest post features the splendid Judith Barrow, telling us what she has missed about book fairs. Judith is one of Honno’s most prolific authors and a co-founding member of the original Tenby Book Fair which later transferred to Narberth and where the new Honno Book Fair will be taking place on Saturday 7th May.

Judith has been publishing books with Honno since 2010. Her first book, Pattern of Shadows, heralded the fascinating Howarth Family Saga Series.

She has gone on to write several more books, one of which – The Memory – was shortlisted for the Literature Wales Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award 2021.

When I asked Judith for her observations on lockdown, and how it has affected her writing, I knew she would come up with something thoughtful, observant and honest. Welcome, Judith and over to you!

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“Two years without book events! I can’t begin to describe how much I have missed them.

Most of all, it was not being with like-minded people; other authors to share ideas on any work in progress, what works (and doesn’t) with book promotions, general encouragement and help with “keeping on writing”.

And I also missed chatting to readers in person, learning what they liked and even what they disliked about my books. After all without feedback one doesn’t grow as a writer. And yes, I know written reviews on Amazon and such forums help, give egos a boost (or a much-needed wakeup call sometimes, to stop complacency – to try harder to improve our work). But none of those can replace face to face interaction.

I just missed people.

And yet, the first lockdown didn’t affect my writing. In fact, at the time of the initial few months of isolation, I felt a kind of freedom from any obligation. I think that’s what inspired me; I was told I couldn’t go out; told I had no need to carry on with normal activities. No meetings. No appointments. No shopping – yay! My only real regret was that my creative writing classes for adult learners stopped, no one wanted to attend them on zoom, although initially they were offered.

Zoom hasn’t worked for me anyway. People in boxes on a screen have been something I have struggled with. Yes, I know they have been a godsend for many but, after a few months I really begun to dislike the concept. However I have the sneaking feeling this way of communicating between us is here to stay, however much “normal” life will eventually return on one form or another.

That said, I will reiterate my earlier statement, lockdown helped me to focus on something I’ve loved doing all my life – writing. And with only that and domestic trivia to choose from… well, it wasn’t a difficult decision. So with the dust settling nicely on the furniture, and meals made from whatever was available on the “replaced with” items on delivered shopping. I spent hours every day researching and putting words on paper, and screen. Making up stories!

My book, The Memory, a contemporary read of a family (which some have described as a memoir), was published during the first lockdown. The frustration of not being able to go to events to promote and talk about the novel was enormous. I had a couple of zoom interviews and promotions, but it always felt as though I was whistling in the wind. And no one was listening.

But someone must have been, because in July 2021 I was shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year Award 2021: The Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award (alongside fellow Honno author, Carol Lovekin). A lovely surprise (if only they hadn’t got my name wrong and announced the book was written by Judith Brown!)

Knowing at the time, that there was still little I could do in “real” life, I decided I might as well get on with the next book. And, with The Heart Stone, I reverted to writing an historical family saga, set during and after WW1. Which was then published around the time of the next lockdown. Hey-ho!

So, I suppose, in conclusion I can say that the solitude in the times of a pandemic gave me chance to explore the life and times of my fictional characters.

Yet, however productive the situation was for me, I will be so grateful to be at the first event of 2022. Our Honno Book Fair on Saturday 7 May.”

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You can find out more about Judith and her books by following the links.
Blog: judithbarrowblog.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/judithbarrow77
Facebook: www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.3
Honno: www.honno.co.uk/authors/b/judith-barrow/
Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

Honno Authors Book Fair 2022

It is my pleasure to announce the forthcoming Honno Authors Book Fair 2022, scheduled to take place at The Queen’s Hall, Narberth, on Saturday 7 May.

Authors taking part are all published by Honno, the longest-standing, independent women’s press in the UK. Based in Aberystwyth in mid-Wales, Honno is a shining star in Welsh publishing circles. Honno authors were amongst the organisers of the original Tenby Book Fair. When it relocated to Narberth we continued to showcase a wide range of exceptional writing by women. We are delighted to be hosting this new venture as a collective, and hope those of you who have supported Honno at previous book fairs will come along, meet your favourite authors and perhaps discover some new ones.

Books are amongst the most precious things we can own. And book fairs are special events. They are about community and a shared love of story; a chance to browse at leisure and interact with the storytellers.

The past two years have been tough on authors; there is no substitute for physical book fairs and the presence of our readers. Sitting behind our stalls, watching you pick up our books, check out cover and blurb, read the opening page, is pure joy. Above all, we have missed interacting with you, the people who buy and read our books. Chatting about the process, the stories, getting to know you.

It’s been a long two years – too long. Over the following weeks I shall be featuring some of my sister Honno authors as they talk about what they have missed about book fairs. We can’t wait to welcome you back and invite you to the new Honno Book Fair! Watch this space for updates and details.