Friday, 27 May 2016



The table was set for five at the most:
Four for my family and one for the ghost.
The trickery started when dad said grace
a spoonful of soup splashed up in his face!
Our mouths were gaping in utter surprise
as he wiped the tomato from out of his eyes.
A moment later the pepper pot flew
into the mire of Lancashire stew.
Everyone sneezed as the dust hit our noses.
This mealtime was definitely becoming atrocious.
When mum's roast potatoes turned into rocks
she very nearly jumped out of her socks.
Then the gravy oozed off my plate.
(I wondered what would be it's fate.)
It oozed, like an amoeba, onto the floor
where it grew one hundred times, or more.
It had peas for eyes, and carrots for teeth
My sister fainted in disbelief.
Mum surprised us, for in a flash
she carved her knife in a swash-buckling slash.
The gravy-monster paused for an instant of time
before splashing to the floor in a puddle of slime.
'Was it over?' we wondered in silence, or
were we destined for something more?
I dared not move, and hardly breathed,
but I could see our mum seethed.
The dinner she'd cooked lay everywhere - ruined -
even the pot she had made the stew in!
She challenged the perpetrator to show his face,
and at least to have the very good grace
to clear up the mess that it had made,
and to re-lay the table as it had been laid!
Amazingly, it did as it was told,
and then was so exceedingly bold:
It lay the table for an extra place
putting a chair in a convenient space!
Nervously we sat for the second time that night,
but this time everything went all right.
The ghost wouldn't mess with mum anymore -
not when it would have to mop the floor...
And ever after, when we had a roast
we lay a place for the invisible ghost!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Finishing The Popish Midwife

Seventeenth century Frost Fair on the Thames, London

My son pointed out to me, I haven't written a post about how it feels to finish writing The Popish Midwife. He's right. I was so busy finishing it - reading, editing, checking, writing blurbs etc - that I haven't stopped to think of what that means to me.

And now, trying to put down what it means to me, I falter. I'm unusually lost for words. I think I can't quite believe it. I can't quite get my head around that I finally got through so, so many edits and come out the other side. I started the book simply wanting to tell Elizabeth Cellier's story, but I've spent the last few years immersed in the seventeenth century, continually discovering new things in a world centuries ago. I only intended to let everyone know what an amazing woman she was, yet have been caught up in the stories of everyone around her, in politics, midwifery and in diet and details of roads and of London. I hadn't realised how many facts would have to be checked. I imagined I didn't need to know everything, only what affected her life, but found myself having to check up such details as what her friend, Lady Powys might have worn, where she lived, how far that was from the Cellier's house, what she would have seen if she walked from one house to the many things to know to even write a sentence with confidence!

And, I didn't only read Elizabeth's trial notes. I read many preceding ones and those that followed hers, because they were all of a time she would have lived through. And the reading of them provided me with so many little details I would never have gleaned from the transcripts of her trials alone, such as how Dangerfield had attended earlier trials as a witness or how various judges sitting on her trial had changed over the course of the Popish Plot. Many of the details I found were never included. The many images and broadsheets I found could not be part of the final novel [images of each character were in my Word document right up to the moment the manuscript was sent off to the publisher...beta readers were the only ones to see them within the original narrative at the moment the characters first presented themselves to me. These, I'm considering including in some newsletters, along with other interesting stuff I had to miss out for the sake of the story - see below  :-) ]

I don't know if I said in an earlier post, but some of my research revealed the proofs of certain events in Elizabeth Cellier's life, things I haven't found previously published anywhere else - let me tell you, that's a great feeling! It's like discovering some new scientific fact, or finding out who a murderer was in thriller before anyone else. Most sources said she simply 'disappeared' and was never heard about again, but what I discovered showed where she went. Yeah, feeling rather chuffed about that! :-)

So, right this moment, I've finished writing The Popish Midwife, and I'm waiting (and beginning another book, of course). I've done most of my job on the writing (who knows, it might well come back for a final edit), so now I've started do I promote myself? I sat and read blogs posts, author web pages, watched Youtube videos about what others have done. I've seen a lot of these videos. And I mean a lot! and it's making me very nervous how much work I'll have to do once the book is published (shouldn't I have done all this beforehand? shouldn't I have everything set up in place, so I can get on with writing the next book, one I'm dying to throw myself more fully into?)

Promotion. It's almost a dirty word.

Since going onto Twitter last year, I've met three kinds of writer. Some never promote themselves. They don't fill in their author page on GoodReads, Amazon, Nook, their blog etc. Even if a reader is interested in them, they wouldn't be able to find anything. Sometimes there isn't even an image of their book or a 'pinned tweet' on their Facebook or Twitter page. The other extreme is the author that sends you half a dozen 'look at my book' tweets merely for following them, then bombards you with the same advert over and over again, sometimes even directly....yeah, not going to read your book. (If you can't even say something new each tweet, I doubt you have anything original to say in a book...) This, followed by an automatic 'welcoming' tweet asking you to go like them on FB. None of it's directed at me. And, so, I don't even look at them most of the time. In theory, unlike some, I don't hold it against an author to use the latter method to get their name out there, but I've already followed, so I'm already interested! You got me!

So, there needs to be an in-between way of getting yourself known as an author, reaching out to those who might like your book, without p***ing everyone off. The method I've come across over and over on YouTube and other places is the email list. Yeah, don't you have to have folk coming to you in the first place before they can actually sign up to a list? Right, so I'm going to skip over the how to get them to come to you in the first place, because that's something I'm still not sure about. The mailing list, however, seems like a good idea, once someone comes to you and shows an interest. I do like the idea of sending interested peeps extra information...I have various satirical broadsheets and trial transcripts, as well as a poem (rarely talked about in original sources I've come across) written by EC that I transcribed, and pictures of her from various sources I'd like to share. I even found, in court records, a couple of trial manuscripts for Elizabeth's husband, Pierre, who was being sued by some customers. These, I never finished transcribing...the writing was so small, and quite difficult to read...but it's still on my 'to do' list. So, yes, I think this a good idea, and one I intend to do. I would enjoy doing this, and readers would hopefully enjoy finding out more snippets of information than we are limited to within the covers of a book.

Is this the half way between under- and over-promoting? I hope so. It would be fun to do and fun to receive. I plan on using Mailchimp for the Newsletter, but please be patient with me. I have put my toe in the water, but there seems to be so many things to do to set it up. Once it's set up, apparently, it kinda runs itself. That's what I'm aiming at anyhow. Has anyone else done this? How has it been for you? Any advice for a newbie? What do you, as a reader, think of this idea?

Hangings in London were common at the time of the Popish Plot

His Last Mistress by Andrea Zuvich

As a novelist of this period, I looked forward to reading His Last Mistress with interest and anticipation. I am familiar with Lord Monmouth’s presence on the edge of my own research, and wanted to find out more about him from a dedicated historian I knew would have immersed herself in his life and shown it from his point of view.

Indeed, in this respect, I found the author’s love of history revealed itself in her attention to detail, including in the telling of some of the more distasteful or revolting aspects of the time, as well as the more pleasant. I’m a great believer in the truth, both sides of it. This element of the story was one I enjoyed.

Of Monmouth and Henrietta’s story, I won’t talk too much of that, except to say that details of their life together fascinated me. Monmouth’s love for Henrietta is a side of him I never picked up from my own research, and adds a softer side to an otherwise not very pleasant character. I previously knew nothing of Henrietta, so everything about her is fresh. She is very young, and her innocence might have been emphasised by spending a little more time getting to know her before they met.

Actually, the novella could well have been expanded into a full novel. I did feel credence couldn’t wholly be given to their strong love for each other by such brief initial encounters, and the story would have benefited by more early character development. Many of the events throughout also would have been improved by expansion and depth, to allow more immersion in them and get a better feel for them. Otherwise, I found the story fascinating, and feel I know the lives of these two better.

(The style of narration sometimes frustrated me, because the telling of factual details frequently overwhelms the telling of the story, especially in the dialogue. What did Chekhov say? ‘Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’ The story flows well, but would benefit from the eye of a good editor to tighten the narrative.)

Friday, 22 April 2016

Cassie's Hope by Sue Lloyd (Review)

Cassie's Hope by Sue Lloyd (cover)
I was curious about ‘Cassie’s Hope’, because I have a teen daughter, who is an advocate for animal welfare, and wondered if she might enjoy reading it, and if it might be a book she could use to show the different sides of the story of animal testing. So, I purchased the book with the view of recommending it to her if I liked it.

Although the book is written for teens, I found I was engaged very early, and the story line was well paced. A story on saving animals, especially lab animals, might have been over emotional, but it wasn’t written like that. Through various character viewpoints, it balanced different sides of the issues of animal testing for medicine very well…through a teen with Leukemia, whose medicine had already relied on such testing, but still had horrible side-effects; through the owner of the lab, who tried to do the best by his animals whilst still trying to maintain clinical objectiveness from them; through the protesters, who angrily stand outside the facility, and through the beagle, who is actually being tested for the very next generation of the same drug the teen is using.

I was a bit reluctant to buy the book at first, due to the only previous review on Amazon being a single-star and somewhat scathing, but I was pleasantly surprised that, not only was it engaging, but it was also very easy to read, and at a perfect level for my daughter.

Cassie, a teenager, happens to catch a television report re how animals are treated in a medical testing facility. She falls in love with a beagle, and, when she hears that the animals are put down once their usefulness is over, she is determined to save her. Persuading those around her to support her, she breaks down each barrier as it arises (Think ‘Legally Blonde 2’ :-D ).

Meanwhile, a sweet, romantic element builds through the relationship of the reporter and lab owner. What teen reader doesn’t like delving into issues of love! (I won’t say what happens)  Also, the story sensitively covers some other family issues, for instance, how the father has to work away from home and how each member of the family copes with the leukemia.

A horrible tragedy changes the course of all concerned (this bit was very well written, and I actually got a bit teary). Again, I won’t say what happens, but it wasn’t what I expected.

There were a few things I thought might be improved, for instance, I did wish Cassie’s family weren’t quite so perfect (although it did occur to me that cancer does often cause a family to appreciate each other a lot more) and, although the story flowed nicely from scene to scene, I would’ve liked to see a little more conflict. However, that’s just me. If I was thirty years younger, I think I would enjoy the story just as it is, and have recommended my daughter to read it.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Writer's Week on Twitter

When I went to put together my 'Hashtag Writer Week' T-shirts on Redbubble, I started researching which hashtags were most used and enjoyed by writers each day of the week. I couldn't find a comprehensive list, anywhere, that had all the different games and distractions that even I knew of, let alone ones I don't regularly play.

So, I've compiled my own lists in answer to the much asked question, 'What can I do on other days of the week?' and share my findings with you here.

Thanks to anyone who's pointed the way to missed hashtags :-)
(Hashtags in red are for my reference)



  • #MondayBlogs Founded by author Rachel Thompson ( @RachelintheOC ) Link your Monday blog post, use the hashtag, read and share the posts of others (from their blog if possible). See What is Monday Blog Posts and Why You Should Be Participating 
  • #Meta4Mon Founded by Cori Lynn Arnold (@corilynarnold) - From first tweet: "Time to start #Meta4Mon. That's right, every Monday we can tweet our most creative, profound, weird, whatever, metaphors and similies!"
  • #LitChat Founded by Carolyn Burns Bass (@CarolyBurnsBass ) Talk about reading, writing and publishing on Twitter, Monday 4-5 p.m. E.T. See LitChat 
  • #MedievalMonday Started September 2014, I think by East Kingdom Gazette to share medieval photos, articles and posts with others interested in this era. Writers of this period take advantage of this interest.
  • #MustReadMonday Like #MustRead the #MustReadMonday hashtag is used to share great books and literature with other readers
  • Monday #MiniStory [NEW] Tweet mini stories in 5 tweets or less using a prompt by Elise Edmonds (@WriterEdmonds) Started December 2015. See Magic Writer.


  • #2BitTues Snippets from your WIP (completely optional theme posted by Angela D’Onofrio (@AngDonofrio) on Monday. No promo-links. See the bit on ‘Tuesday’ on her blog Between the Lines 
  • #TeaserTues A great time to post teasers/excerpts from your latest novel, or discover new authors from their snippets
  • #IndieChat Chat about everything to do with Indie writers, writing and publishing industry
  • #KidLitChat (every Tuesday at 9PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific) Moderated by @KidLitChat – For anyone interested in Childrens’ literature See KidLitChat 
  • #TLTues Twitter Literature Tuesday founded by Chad Hofmann (@chadh1234) – can be any kind of literature you want. 1 line, short story, haiku, poetry, any creative literature inc. your own published book. See founder, Chad Hofmann’s web page 
  • #PoetTues Robert Lee Brewer (@robertleebrewer), Senior Content Editor of  Writer's Digest, has his own slot called Poetic Asides and has run this chat about poetry since 2010
  • #TuesdaySerial Writing a serial? Let others know what you're writing: publicize your latest installment and include your name with the #webserial title, and the genre if you have room. Run by PJ, Tony and Larry (@TuesdaySerial) For full information see Tuesday Serial
  • #Quill + #(other hashtag chosen each week) Started as #TwitterTuesday, August 2015, Games and chats run by Quill (@QuillWriters) starting 3pm GMT on Tuesdays. This is actually a double-hashtag eg pinned instructions for Feb 16th 2016: "It's game time! Last week we discussed love, today we're all about humour. Share what books, characters & lines amuse you --> #laughsinlit"  In this case, you would use both the #Quill and the #laughsinlit hashtags in one tweet.


  • #1LineWed Writers and authors post a line (lines) from their Work In Progress (WIP) based on a theme that the founder, Kiss of Death (@RWAKissOfDeath) [AKA author Kathryn Jane (@author_Kat_Jane) posts on Thursdays (no buy links) [assistance running it by myself, Annelisa Christensen (@Alpha_Annelisa) :-) ]
  • #WWWBlogs Post a blog and tweet about it on a Wednesday and use the hashtag to connect with other women writers that blog. Read, enjoy and retweet other women writers’ blogs and connect with their authors. See Women Writers, Women’s Books for details 
  • #WriterWednesday (sometimes written as #WW ) Midweek’s a day to give a shout-out about writers, share writers you think deserve some love, though you could probably share anything writing orientated these days and it’d be fine :-) 
  • #MemoirChat Discussing memoirs on Twitter every other Wednesday at 8 pm ET - tips, advice, excerpts.
  • #LitChat Talking about books Monday, Wednesday & Friday at 4pm E.T. for an hour. See LitChat
  • #WriteStuff Chat hosted by @PenPaperPad (9pm ET). Question posed Wed morning about an aspect of writing life to discuss in the evening.


  • #IndieThursday Started in 2011 by Jennifer Lawrence (@IndieThursday) on Jenn's Bookshelves for authors, readers everywhere to celebrate, support and embrace their local independent book stores. Explained well on Marianne Wheelaghan's blog post, Tweet about a recent purchase (pics are great) from your local independent bookshop.
  • #MGLitChat (every Thursday at 9PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific) Chat about Middle-Grade lit.
  • #BookMarket (4pm-5pm ET) Book marketing tweet chat discussing US book publishing market. Moderated by Carol Corbet (@cr8ivwriter)
  • #3WordThurs Founded by Brittany Pettagrow (@scribalreverie) - Make a sentence with the three words given as a prompt (must make sense)
  • #Thurds Founded by A. B. Funkhauser (@iamfunkhauser) For Indie/trad published authors - a place to showcase your releases (buy links welcome)
  • #1ParagraphThurs Founded by Dave Waving (@rainingreign) - post a paragraph/page of your WIP as a picture (no buy links please) (ideally 96dpi, 4.5 x 5 inches for quick display)


  • #FridayReads Tweet about the book you're reading
  • #StoryFriday Many think this is just for writers to share excerpts of your novels/stories (and readers to find out what's going on), but it was originally started back in 2009 by Writer's Digest Editor, Brian A Clems (@BrianKlems) as a collaborative story idea, starting with a story prompt at 9.30am ET. See About #StoryFriday 
  • #FictionFriday Seen by some as about book buying and recommendations. However, it was created and run by Annie Evett (@AnnieEvett) - several years ago - as a way to write short stories using prompts (see Write Anything - Write More Talk Less) This is ongoing :-)
  • #FictFri Founded by Gracie Mae DeLunac (@Gracie_DeLunac) post exerpts from your fictional WIP, using themes voted on in a poll by players. Theme is optional. See potential themes on Gracie's blog
  • #FP (Friday Phrases) Started by павел александрович (@amicgood) Now run by @FridayPhrases co-hosts Lara Meone Savine (Oceanista-1 () Micro fiction and poetry (no book promos/buy-links) From their web page, Friday Phrases: " matter where in the world you are, we host a micro-flashfic party. This is where your nitty-gritty and flash-fiction genius come into being. This is where you tell us a story, good, short and powerful."
  • #FridayFlash Founded and run by J. M. Strother (@jmstro) #FridayFlash was created to raise the visibility of fiction writers. Write a piece, under 1000 words, then link to it with the hashtag on Friday. According to this tweet, Friday Flash has moved to Facebook, but you can still link to your post on Twitter. See original post at Mad Utopia for guidelines.
  • #FantasyFriday (be warned, this one gets a lot of x-rated spam and doesn't seem to be limited to book fantasy)
  • #Friday5th - Post 5th line of any page of your WIP - no theme, just random fun. Co-run by Hypergraphia (@alliemayauthor) and Kelsey McIntyre (@KelseyNMcIntyre)
  • #FreebieFriday Your chance to offer/pickup giveaways!
  • #LitChat Talking about books Monday, Wednesday & Friday at 4pm E.T. for an hour. See LitChat


  • #ArchiveDay Like #MondayBlogs and #SundayBlogShare you link to a blog post, but not a current one, has to be older. Then, do your stuff - read, RT, fave and share other bloggers' posts.
  • #ScreenwritingSaturday Founder and moderator: Merrel Davis (@UncompletedWork) - chat about all things screenwriting. 
  • #WeekendReader (not to be confused with Hachette UK's Twitter book club @WeekendReads) Share your weekend read. See what others are reading.
  • #SchemingSaturday (NEW!) Founded by Brittany Pettagrow (@scribalreverie) for villains and antagonists
  • #WhosYourCharacter by Rebecca Frohling (ChipmunkofPower) From Tweet: "Hey, #writers! Join us Saturdays and Sundays for #WhosYourCharacter Weekend! Share bios, insp. pics, etc. See you then!


  • #SundaySample (sometimes wrongly hashtagged #SampleSunday ) Curator is Colin Rowe (@lowericon) Share samples of your books
  • #SundayBlogshare Share a link to any post from your blog (past or present) - it can be more than one post - using the #SndayBlogshare and then read, RT and fave other bloggers' posts (or share directly from their posts if possible)
  • #SneakPeekSunday Post 8-10 sentences (no more) of a WIP or published work you want to share, sign the linky on the previous Wednesday, then make sure the post goes live by 8am (CST)...there's some strict rules, and it's first come first served to be included. Run by @SneakPeekSunday and open to all genres.
  • #WeekendReader (not to be confused with Hachette UK's Twitter book club @WeekendReads) Share your weekend read. See what others are reading.
  • #StoryCrafter Main chat on Sunday, about writing process and writing practice - tweet good writing posts/links and sometimes to ask for help.
  • #SpokenSunday - In 2010, alongside #FictionFriday started by Annie Evett (@AnnieEvett)  as a way to turn short stories/fiction into audio and then link to it on Sunday (See Write Anything: Write More Talk Less) the hashtag is still used to link to spoken audios in poetry and fiction.
  • #WriteChat - weekdays (3-6 pm EST)

Monday, 18 January 2016

Kev, The Magnificent's Q&As‏

Once again, English writer, Kevin Ansbro, was tagged to answer some writer questions, so I welcome him to post his answers here on Script Alchemy. Without further ado, here's Kevin:

The Magnificent model, Kevin Ansbro

Genial Australian writer Tarquin Carlin was nominated to answer questions as part of The Siblinghood of the World Blogger Awards (Bloody hell! That title alone should win an award of some sort).
Tarquin's excellent answers can be seen at his blog Blog of Many Colours

Tarquin, in turn, has nominated me to answer some questions of his own.
Now, despite being as thick as two short planks, I am sportingly prepared to give it a go!

Here be your questions! Says Tarquin.

1. Do you believe in the “You must write every single day” ethos?
Good God, no. You’d starve your grey matter of the oxygen of inspiration! 
Becoming conjoined to your keypad, with your creativity enervated and brain transmuted to blancmange is not conducive to end product excellence!
Here's a tip for free; only write when that elusive muse radiates from your head like a radioactive halo.

2. What was the last book you read?
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, for which I posted a review on Goodreads

3. How do you find balancing time to write with the rest of your life?
The honest truth is that I don’t! Before I was encouraged to set up on Twitter by my publisher, I could easily devote any spare time to writing. Ah, such sweet memories! Social media can be a poisoned chalice. 

4. Are you a Planner or a Pantser?
More of a planner, really: I have tried writing by the seat of my pants, but only ended up with an incredibly inky bottom!

Kevin Ansbro with his second book, Kinnara
5. What are you currently working on?
I’m in the midst of a sabbatical where my writing’s concerned, preferring to concentrate on book promo. I have a seven week tropical holiday planned for later this year, thereafter I shall begin again to write in earnest.

6. How do you handle criticism of your work?
Thus far (thankfully) my wife has been my only critic. She is an avid book reader, more so than me, and was the first person to read Kinnara before the publisher got to see it. Her (brutally honest) counsel was invaluable.
I welcome constructive criticism, all writers should; it’s a no-brainer, why would an author not want to improve their book? Duh!

Kevin Ansbro's first book, The Angel in my Well

7. When people ask the inevitable “what do you write about?” how do you respond?
I try to keep my reply as brief as possible, otherwise the inquisitor's eyes might begin to glaze over!

8. Who are the Writers you admire and why?
Gosh! So many!
Salman Rushdie: because of his delightful human imagery and his mischievousness.
Alexandre Dumas, for the swaggering bravado of his books, which fuelled my childhood imagination.
John Steinbeck, a master story-teller. His use of symbolism, and the analogous nature of his work, fashioned my writing style at an early age. 
Honourable mentions go to Victor Hugo, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and (of course) Charles Dickens!
9. How much of yourself is in any of your characters?
It would be impossible not to syringe a a few fluid ounces of oneself into one's characters (ooh, get me, talking like the Queen). Different facets of my own personality crop up in my storylines (‘good me’ and ‘bad me’).

10. Where do you write from? What fuels the stories you choose to tell and why?
As a kid I always had a vivid imagination, and wrote outlandish stories from a very early age.
I was one of those boys who would daydream in lessons and the teachers, sensing this, would shout questions at me, knowing full well that I wasn’t listening.
This is what happened once:
My teacher was addressing the class, occasionally firing questions.
So there's me,  daydreaming and not paying the slightest bit of attention.
Teacher knows this and hurls an unheard question at me: “Yes? ANSBRO?!”
Me: “Um, umm…”
Friend sitting next to me whispers, “1066.”
Me, with injudicious conviction, “1066, Sir!”
Teacher: “1066? You STUPID boy!”
My friend collapses in fit of giggles, delighted that I actually believed he’d given me a suitable answer.

Thank you, Tarquin. 
Great questions! 

Author Kevin Ansbro

Friday, 11 December 2015

Confessions of a Writer Tag - Authors and Writers List

I love the Confessions of a Writer Tag started by Nicolette Elzie, of A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly.

I love reading about other writers and authors, and how they came to do what they do today - write. But we get more than that from the list of twenty questions. We discover a little about the writer's day, favourite books and films, and interesting snippets about early life. Love it! These are the ones I've come across so far [*pics are mine].
(If you know of any more, let me know and I'll link them in :-) )

(hosted on Script Alchemy)

K. M. Guerin

(The Blissful Bookworm)

(part 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

(originator of tag)


(hosted at Script Alchemy)

@SamAnnElizabeth (Sam Bishop)

Other Writer Tags (not Nicolette Elsie's):
Laura Tejada (@_LauraTejada)
Mandi Lynn (@Mandi_Lynn_)
SumergidosEntrLibros (@Sumerg_Libros)
Carmelo Beltrán (@CarBel1994)
Tamara a Woods (@penpaperpad)
Dream bigger (@EstherL13_)
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