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Narberth Book Fair 2019

Last year I learned via Jessie Cahalin that a book fair had been held at Narberth, Wales and I was keen to take part this year.  One of the great things about having a caravan is that you can rock up, book into a site for a couple of nights and enjoy all the comforts of home. The only down side of the weekend was that weather front Imelda decided to hit the Welsh coast at roughly the same time as us. However, writers are an intrepid bunch so we didn’t let that put us off. 

There was a day to go before the Book Fair opened and so we made the most of the opportunity to explore Tenby, a place new to us. What a fabulous little town it is, set above an amazing swathe of beach (reminiscent of The Prisoner), pastel painted houses of Dylan Thomas’s Llareggub in Under Milk Wood, twisting streets and chi-chi shops encircled by a formidable granite town walls. Much to my delight there was a Seasalt shop and a niche off-license selling gin in all its many forms. Yep, you guessed it, the tills were soon ringing.

We headed back to Narberth and set up my book table for the book fair the following day. If you’d like to read my interview on the Narberth Book Fair blog, you can find it here.

Next morning, bright eyed, bushy tailed and accompanied by a man in a kilt, I was soon behind my book table eager to meet new readers. My husband Dave is such a good sport, happy to chat to potential readers and answer questions about his kilt: which clan did he belong to (Lamont) where he’d bought his kilt (eBay!) and what was it like being married to a crazy writer of romance. (I asked that last question, actually). Other authors asked if he was available for hire as the kilt certainly proved a hit drawing in readers. 

As some of you may know, I was a teacher for 34 years and I was delighted to present a workshop to aspiring writers. One of those attending my workshop – 10 Point Guide on How to Write a Novel – was Anne Williams – fabulous blogger/reviewer and friend, who shared her knowledge on what was current in the publishing world, the benefit of writing sequels/series and the importance of having a social media presence. I hope that we can work together in the future as our joint perspective was appreciated by attendees. In case you’re wondering what’s on the large scroll I’m holding, it’s my novel PLANNER which I was keen to share with the attendees. I then went on to explain the difference between being a plotster or a pantser and, among other topics, having the courage to kill off your darlings if they aren’t moving the plot along.  

An unexpected bonus of attending the fair was meeting writers I’d only spoken to via Twitter or Facebook. In the collage are (clockwise) Anne Williams, Judith Barrow (joint organiser of the fair with Thorne Moore) Juliet Greenwood, Wendy Steele, Thorne Moore and Tim Wickenden. I also met Judith Arnott and we had an interesting discussion about Margaret Beaufort’s place in history. If I didn’t write romance I’d probably write historical fiction. 

Sadly, the weather on Sunday worsened and that had an impact on footfall. However, books continued to be sold, business cards exchanged and, gratifyingly, two attendees from my workshop returned to tell me how much they enjoyed my talk. They complimented me on the the way I’d presented the information in such an informative, easy to understand fashion. Clearly, all my years as a teacher hasn’t gone to waste. After clearing the hall I headed for local hotel Plas Hyfryd  and a celebratory meal (and maybe a raspberry gin and tonic, or two) with other writers. Dave returned to the caravan to watch the Rugby World Cup. 

When I returned, Dave had, covered the caravan’s windscreen with its protective  ‘bra’ (see photo 1) in preparation for the l-o-o-ng journey back to Leicester – six and a half hours with a fifteen minute break. The mist hung low in the valley as we left Wales and we were chased home by another weather front snapping at our heels. However, that couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the weekend. Many thanks to Thorne, Judith and their team of helpers for making the Narberth Book Fair such a resounding success. 

So what’s next? I plan on spending the autumn and winter hunkered down over the pc finishing my WIP – working title I’ll Be in Scotland – and getting it ready to publish Summer 2020. In the meantime, do watch my slideshow, check out my five published romances, or read some of my other blog posts.

Bloggy McBlogface #3 – Culloden

This summer I spent a month touring Scotland, getting the vibe for my fourth novel which I am currently 87% of the way through.  It was a fabulous holiday and I was able to touch base with friends, en route. The weather behaved itself while we were in Inverness and so, feeling ‘gallus’, we erected the awning and put out our sunloungers.

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sunloungers getting an airing at  Banchory, Royal Deeside.

On this stretch of our road trip we planned to visit Culloden, Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart. I’m a great fan of Outlander and DK Broster’s Jacobite Trilogy. And, IMO the Broster novels give a more balanced view of the conflict and there’s less of the #highlandersgood/ #Englishbad subtext found in the Outlander novels. After all, many clans fought on the side of the English at Culloden and had no wish to see the Stuarts back on the throne. For them, the battle provided an opportunity to settle old scores. The downside of the Highland Trilogy is, no Jamie Fraser!

(click over each image to read the caption/copyright details)

If you’ve never visited Culloden, here’s a video to give you a sense of the place. The battle site has a haunting and mournful quality and it’s sad to reflect that, after Culloden, the clan system disintegrated and wearing tartan was punishable by seven years hard labour in the colonies. George IV) visited Edinburgh in 1822,  and everything “Scottish” became acceptable once more, a tradition continued by Victoria and Albert who bought Balmoral as their highland retreat.

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Balmoral Castle 2016 (c) Lizzie Lamb

2016-10-11Sadly, by then many of the tartans had been forgotten and those which we see today are a recent reinvention.

(Above- a fragment of Thomas Fraser of Struy’s plaid said to have been worn at Culloden in 1746) image –

http://www.scottishtartans.co.uk

Next, we visited the Prisoner’s Stone where seventeen highlanders were taken out and shot, after the battle. Legend has it that one survived and lived to tell the tale. If you do not feel the weight of history pressing down on you when you visit the site, you have no soul. It’s hard not to stand there and weep for those on both sides who lost their lives.

I found it very poignant that clans from the same highland region  fought side by side at Culloden – the Stewarts of Appin and the Camerons of Lochiel, for example. In my mind, this was an  echo of  WWI when adjoining villages joined the Pals’ Regiments and marched off to war together. (click over each image for further details)

Of course, Outlander – the books and the TV series have helped  to reignite visitors’ passion for this beautiful part of Scotland. While we were there, many Americans were visiting the site, anxious to find the cairn erected to Clan Fraser and to lay flowers there. I still don’t understand why the Outlander series hasn’t been shown on UK television and why so few of my (UK) friends have heard about it. Here’s a link to my OUTLANDER pinterest board . . .

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Prince Charles Edward Stuart – Battle of Prestonpans memorial

It’s interesting to reflect how differently things could have turned out had Bonnie Prince Charlie pressed on to London instead of turning round and heading back up north after reaching Derby – just miles from where I live in Leicester.

On a more personal note, one highlight of our trip was finding ourselves camped right next door to Facebook friend Sharyn Farnaby. Here she is with a copy of Tall, Dark 2016-07-02-09-25-09-2 which I gave to her to thank her for reading and reviewing my novels.

I  have been inspired by the Battle of Glenshiel (1719) to write my next #contemporary Scottish romance which I hope to publish in March 2017. It contains history, a lost treasure, a gorgeous hero (Keir) and a heroine fighting to regain her reputation after an unfortunate incident at university, (Henriette).

In the meantime, here is my current selection of novels. Something to help you cope with the long, dreary winter days, perhaps? See you soon when I’ll be writing about visiting Balmoral and Royal Deeside and meeting up with another friend. 21-author-page

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