Keep Calm & Write A Book


Writers see the world differently. Every voice we hear, every face we see, every hand we touch could become story fabric. – Buffy Andrews

Ever wondered what makes authors so unique? I have.   

If you know an author, you probably know they see the world through a different lens. Authors have stamina and an ability to adapt to several habitats. They tend to be introverts and at times, socially inept. Their brains tend to fire on several cylinders simultaneously, working on two projects at once, or at the very least, writing two books in tandem. They have markings which help them blend into any given environment and can follow someone without being arrested for stalking. Here’s a brief outline of what makes them so special.

Authors are closely related to psychologists. They study human behavior, dissect mental processes and select reactions to suit any given scenario. They are storytellers who can spin a yarn without drawing breath. Worldwide, there are many subspecies that have flooded the market, causing the most skilled of authors to become endangered. But there are several things that separate excellent authors from their subspecies.



  1. Study: Authors don’t simply watch people. They study them. This is an art form that requires sitting in public places for several hours, observing a target and tuning into his/her conversation. In extreme cases, an author might appear as a disinterested third party with the ultimate aim of picking up dialogue with or without the use of a tape recorder.
  2. Strengths: Authors narrow down behavior patterns and tap into moods. It’s an ability to see and connect the dots, an ability to get into someone else’s head, an ability to fine tune a profile to suit a certain character.
  3. Emotion. Authors empathize, fantasize and scrutinize in a world where most people stagger through each day in a blank haze. They are intuitive, able to soar to euphoric heights one minute and plunge into despair the next. All for the purpose of making their characters convincing.
  4. The Thrill of the Quill. Authors love to take chances and start new projects. It’s the rush of the challenge because their imagination is fueled by raw curiosity. Given the right environment ― a study sealed off from the rest of the house, a coffee shop, a restaurant, a library ― they will excel.
  5. Determination: Authors will edit their work until it’s perfect. They will design, format and learn new tricks without tiring. They will continue writing until they croak. There is no ‘off’ switch for an author. They never shut down.

If any of the above applies, then there’s definitely a story in you. So keep calm and write a book.

All Books

For any of the above books, please find the author links below:

Claire Stibbe

Jean Gill

B.A. Morton

Karen Charlton

Elizabeth Horton-Newton

A Warm Welcome to author, Kristin Gleeson

Kristin Gleeson

Photograph by Jean Gill

I am really excited to welcome author Kristin Gleeson to my blog today. Kristin is originally from Philadelphia and now lives in Ireland, in the West Cork Gaeltacht, where she teaches art classes, plays harp, sings in an Irish choir and runs two book clubs for the village library.

She holds a Masters in Library Science and a Ph.D. in history, and for a time was an administrator of a national denominational archives, library and museum in America.

Myths and other folk tales have always fascinated her and she combined her love of these tales with her harp playing and performed as a professional harper/storyteller at events in Britain, America and Ireland.

Kristin has given us an excerpt from The Imp of Eye, Book 1 of the Renaissance Sojourner Series.

Excerpt from The Imp of Eye

London 1440

Imp of Eye(Barnabas, a thirteen year old orphan, is employed by the woman known as the Witch of Eye, Margery Jourdemayne, placed there by his guardian, Canon Thomas Southwell. He’s just been reprimanded for refusing to do a reading in the showstone for the Duchess of Gloucester)

I knows where I’ll find a welcome. Off down to the river to me mate Tom, the wherry boatman. We’s been mates for a long time and I loves it there with him on the river. Sometimes he lets me row when he’s got no people on board. Then I feel like I can go anywhere. Even Spain, Jerusalem and them places where they had the crusades long ago.

Me luck’s wif me. Tom is there in his wherry just about to take off wif two men bound downriver. ‘Barney-boy! You’re late.’

I’m small and quick, so I jumps onto the boat as light as a feather. I’m good at this and Tom knows it and grins. We shove each other like pals do and I settle in the back. I ain’t sposed to be here wifout paying, like, but since we’s mates he says it’s okay as long as I pretends I’m his boy.

The water in the boat’s bottom seeps into me clogs but it don’t bother me. Some say the river’s stink could stun an ox when it’s summer time, but I loves it. I look out to the river and imagine meself on a fine big ship, sailing to places where there’s so much sand you can’t see nofink else and you feel warm all the time. The tide is with us, so the run is quick, and before you know it I’m at Queenhithe docks helping the two fine gentlemun out.

I decides to stay a while at the docks. Besides the barges, it’s full of cayers, cogs and caravels what have come from all over. It’s the place to see different kinds of people, like sailors with gold earrings and dark skin and strange clothes, hoisting cargo, coiling up the ropes and shouting all sorts. I tries to talk to ‘em. Most times they only speak their own strange lingo, but I do get lucky and find some what can understand me. And that’s the best.

Today I’m not so lucky, and I goes wondering for a while, just taking in the sights before I hear a shout and a stout hand grabs me collar. Father Thomas.

‘I thought I might find you here, you young cur,’ he says with a growl. ‘Why didn’t you come by yesterday as I instructed?’ He starts dragging me along the streets and it’s no secret to me where we’re heading. His own church, St Stephen’s in Walbrook. Nearly thirteen years ago some jade dumped me in a dung heap on St Barnabas Day and that’s where this man found me. Thomas Southwell, Canon of St Stephen’s Chapel in the palace of Westminster and rector of St Stephen’s Walbrook. And a physician too. All them titles don’t satisfy his need for more, though.

The duke and duchess of Gloucester

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester

We reach the church and make our way to his rooms in the building beside it. After a word to his man we go into his study and he locks the door. Next door is the room I used to sit with the other foundlings and learn me writing, reading and Latin. I loved it, but that learning is little use to me now. There ain’t no escaping Father Thomas and what he wants.


A moment later there’s a knock on the door and one of his servants brings in two steaming trenchers and sets it on the small table.

‘Hungry, Barnabas?’ he asks.

Me mouth waters. I sits down on the stool. The steam makes me nose run and I wipes it wif my sleeve. I can see the bone and gristle bobbing about on the surface. Boiled onion and some kind of greenery.

‘Eat up, we’ve much to do,’ Father Thomas says.

I takes up the horn spoon and slurp up the contents. I can’t say I ain’t hungry because ain’t I always? Wishing there was more, I lick the last drops on the spoon. I look up, and see his pale eyes watching me.

‘I need you to scry for me, Barnabas.’

I groan inwardly. Seeing spirits is what got me in a bother in the first place, and why Margery Jourdemayne took me on in her household. I’d as lief be a gong-farmer’s servant than work as a scryer. Never had no choice, though. Once Father Thomas found I could see spirits, he taught me the rest. Conjuring’s a burning offence, though. I’ve smelt them fires at Smithfield in me dreams and actually saw a burning once and I can’t forget it. It’s the smell of cooking flesh what gets to you, and then there’s the screaming. That’s another matter.

‘I’ve water ready in the bowl,’ says Father Thomas.

I wipes me mouth on the grease-stiff cuff of me sleeve and gives him a sullen nod.

The bowl’s heavy; black wiv heat and age. I reckon someone used to cook in it, but Father Thomas keeps it just for scrying now. I watches the liquid wobble against the sides and settle, and then I bends me mind to the task. The water’s smooth like the glass Mistress Jourdemayne keeps in her chamber. Her husband bought it as a gift, so she can admire herself. She caught me looking in it once and boxed me ears.

La Plauseance

La Pleausance

Fierce now, I shut out everyfink else and gets still-like and the quiet settles on me like a warm cloak. It’s a feeling I likes and I just let it stay there for a bit before I looks and stares at the inky liquid. In a wink me mind kind of opens up inside, so I’m looking and not looking into the water, if you know what I mean. It’s like I see through it and out into a different land. I like that.

A figure pops up and hobbles across me mind’s eye.

‘It’s Limpin’ Sam,’ I says out loud. ‘He’s got a partridge under his arm.’

I’ve seen this spirit before. He dresses in rags like a beggar, and his hands is blue wiv cold, but he has the merriest face. His eyes is the colour of blackbird’s eggs, and he’s a snub nose, dimples in his cheeks and a wide, curving mouth. Sometimes he sings, sweet as a chorister, but he don’t speak. He brings me fings instead. I’m supposed to work out what they mean. I don’t know who he is or was, but he likes me and he brings me stuff. This night it’s a bird.


‘It’s a fat partridge,’ I says. Father Thomas’ bref warms me cheek as he leans in to hear. ‘Sign of plenty, I reckon. Someone’s got somefink good coming his way.’

‘Ah!’ Father Thomas sighs wiv satisfaction.

‘He’s showing me a cooking pot over a fire, now.’ I watches Limpin’ Sam pointing to the bird and then sticking it whole into the bubbling water, feathers and all.

Wiv a squeal of surprise I jerk back.

‘What is it?’ asks the priest.

‘Forget what I said before. I got it wrong. There’s some fellow wiv fine feathers…wealthy, fat, thinks well of hisself…struts about and imagines he’s doing real well, but he should take care he don’t get into hot water. He ain’t very bright, by the look of it. He’s in for a rare shock. Somebody’s out to teach him a lesson. If you know him, Father, you should warn him to beware them what he’s offended.’

‘Enough!’ The priest’s voice is harsh now. He ain’t pleased wiv this information. ‘Summon Bethor, Barnabas. I want to be sure.’

But I don’t like this at all. Bethor’s a different kettle of fish from Limpin’ Sam. He’s a mighty spirit what can grant men priceless treasure, help them create miraculous medicines or be powerful likes a lord or somefink. It’s a chancy fing calling these spirits. They doesn’t like being told. Father Thomas says Bethor’s a good angel and won’t harm me. But Bethor comes in a great whirling storm and his face is bright as fire. I’d rather let them as wants to come to me, like Limpin’ Sam, than getting a proud angel to do me bidding. But I don’t argue.

I says the words what Father Thomas’s taught me so carefully, and wait, feeling me skin prickle and hearing the air rushing in me ears. The ritual has to be done right, he says, though I don’t understand half the words I have to use. The priest prompts me now and then.


It’s always a shock when Bethor’s voice roars in me head and dazzles me eyes with the blaze of his appearance. Flames leap like sun-rays round his head. The light’s so blinding I can’t make out his features.

‘What shall I ask him to do?’

The priest’s fingers is talons on me arm and his breath grows moist against me ear. ‘Tell him to bring us wealthy patrons,’ he whispers.

Me mistress needs customers, he means, and she’ll pay him a portion of what she makes from them. I nod anyway and do as I’m bid.

Medieval London

Medieval London

I feels Bethor’s desire to be free. He strains against me will and when I tell him what he must do, I knows he thinks we’re greedy bastards and he’ll make us pay. I lets him know in me thoughts like, not to blame me and that like him, I’m only obeying orders. He laughs. I let him go and he’s gone in a whoosh of burning flames.

‘What did he say?’ Father Thomas grips me arm tight.

‘He’ll do it.’ I says the words to send off the spirit what he taught me then, even though the spirit’s already gone.

‘Good boy.’ Father Thomas pats me shoulder.

But I’m seeing somefink else—a woman in the black water of the scrying bowl, and I can’t take me eyes off her. She’s dressed in a white linen shift and carrying a heavy candle. The flame of it flickers dangerously and the hot wax drips on cobblestones by her naked feet. What does it mean?

‘Enough, boy!’

The priest is shaking me back into consciousness. I smells the draughty chapel and musty old robes, and someone’s hammering on the chapel door.

‘Who’s there?’

Father Thomas is on his feet and snatches up the bowl. The water spills on the floor. His robe swishes as he crosses the floor, the lone candle in his hand, and he disappears through to the larger room.

The hammering continues and then I hears the slide of the bolt and the door creak open and some whispering. Father Thomas comes back in the room and a man follows him. I knows by his long gown and cap that he’s one of those learned men what Father Thomas likes to talk wif.

‘This is my boy, Barnabas,’ Father Thomas says. ‘No need to worry. He knows how to keep secrets.’

The man’s creepy an all—got a beaky nose and face like a skull. Before I knows it, Father Thomas wraps a musty, old cloak round me shoulders and he puts some wood on the ashes of the little fire. Thin green smoke trickles from it, making the man cough.

‘Sleep, Barnabas,’ Father Thomas says. There’s a note of warning in his voice as I curls up in the cloak.

They whispers away then. It’s just loud enough to keep me awake but not enough so’s I can understand what they’re saying. Eventually, I manages to drift off.

When I wakes I’m stiff wiv cold in the little black room. The fire’s out but I can see the dark lump of the priest on his pallet and another dark shape what I takes to be the man, huddled near the hearth. I tries to shut me eyes and crawl back into sleep, but I’m chilled to the bone. Me head frobs and me eyes is full of sand, and though I try shifting this way and that, it’s no use, cos me bladder’s full now. As soon as the light turns grey, I hauls meself up and creep to the little niche what the priest uses as a privy.

The man groans as I sigh in the relief of making water, even though I’m shivering. There’s a bite in the morning air what makes me arms all goose-flesh, and I wriggles me toes to stop ‘em from going numb.

There’s no sense in lingering. There’s nofink to eat here, and soon people will be filling this place. Father Thomas snores steady and deep now, so I rolls up the old cloak, leave it by the door and shoots back the bolts. The man stirs, but he don’t wake. I shake like a dog and sneaks out into the day.

Why not visit Kristin on her website

For more information about Kristin and her books, please visit Author Central on Amazon

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A Warm Welcome to author Jean Gill

jean colour smjpg (2)

My next guest this week is Jean Gill, author of The Troubadours Quartet. Here she has selected a scene in her latest book Plaint for Provence and shares a generous excerpt. Happy reading folks!

Jean Gill is a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with a big white dog, a scruffy black dog, a Nikon D750 and a man. For many years, she taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. She is mother or stepmother to five children so life was hectic.

Publications are varied, including prize-winning poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.

Les-Baux-de-Provence: 1152 and 2014

When I suggested to my husband that we have a romantic weekend in Les-Baux-de-Provence, a medieval citadel three hours’ drive from our home, he knew very well that I had more on my mind than our romance. He has lived with Dragonetz and Estela for four years now and he guessed that I was researching the third book in my 12th century Troubadours series. He is also used to me working as a photographer, and he accepted it as normal that our evening meal was planned round the best end-of-day light on the citadel from a nearby mountain pass. While I adjusted my aperture and muttered about filters, he sat in the car and read a book.

This is the moment in Chapter 4 of ‘Plaint for Provence’ when Dragonetz first sees Les Baux-de-Provence, from that very same pass. There are no marshes there now and, of course, the castle was newly built.

Although he automatically registered the defensive potential of the Sarragan Pass, its gigantic rocks allowing a few men to hide and seem many, the narrow bottleneck of access and exit, these features were not what had struck Dragonetz most. He and Hugues had reached the top of the rise first, in the van of their small troop, with the setting sun behind them, gilding the grotesque white boulders, the marsh-reeded valley and the cliffs beyond.

Plaint eBook cover sm (2)The boulders grew leering faces and demonic familiars in the shifting light and long shadows, dropping into unfathomable blackness in the valley below and lightening again as the cliffs rose, and rose again to the jagged tips. Except that the tips were not jagged but regular crenellations, the turrets of a castle that made the small hairs on Dragonetz’ arms prickle with excitement or foreboding, he knew not which. ‘It’s prettier than Trinquetaille,’ Hugues had said, regarding the origin of their name.

‘Les Baux,’ breathed Dragonetz.

Hugues said nothing but his face spoke. There was a set to his jaw, a determination in his gaze that Dragonetz had seen before, in the Crusades, when a man had decided what was worth dying for. For a brief moment, the low day’s-end sun caught whatever metals the castle offered; armour and flagstaff, door-hinge and wheel-hub, and the fortress caught fire, dazzling and defiant. Then snuffed out, just as suddenly. His eyes still recovering from the glare, Dragonetz rehearsed his litany of defence, but this time extending it to Les Baux itself, not just tonight’s camp.

Les Baux

Les Baux

The massif was occupied by the château on the northern heights, protected by sheer cliffs on two of the sides that Dragonetz could see, and dropping through the dependent village downhill to the south, Les Baux’s only access and weakest point. Gate and rampart were visible even from this distance, defending the entry. ‘The access to the château from here is downhill, by the boulders, across the river and marshes, then up by the south gate into the walled city and up again to the château?’

‘There is no river in the valley, just marshes. The path down is basically a mule track, widened by our use. And the caves are amongst the rocky outcrops,’ confirmed Hugues. They had spoken at length of the caves the night before. Dragonetz had assumed a river from the look of the land and was surprised that a fortification of this importance had no water source nearby. Rainwater was unreliable, especially in Provence, making the castle even more vulnerable to siege. He must investigate the water system when he was in Les Baux itself.

‘How do men get to the château itself?

‘There’s only one way to get up onto Roucas, the rock on which the citadel is built, and that’s to the south. The side you can’t see is sheer cliff.’ Just as Dragonetz had guessed.

Les Baux de Provence

Les Baux de Provence

Nowadays, Les-Baux-de-Provence is a top French tourist destination and one of its most popular attractions is a son-et-lumiere in a gigantic network of caves. When we visited, the Impressionist painters featured and this is Long-Suffering Husband in front of one cavern face, with light show.

cave art (2)

Cave Art


The caves were there in the 12th century, some of them occupied and all of them the subject of legends; Moorish treasure and a demon goat. The valley is called ‘Le Val d’Enfer’ (the Valley of Hell). What more encouragement is needed for a writer?

In my story, the Gyptian (an allusion to a possible origin of the word ‘gypsy’) Dame Fairnette lives in one of the caves near the castle and the huge caves where the son-et-lumiere now takes place are the scene of a daring ambush, in which Dragonetz and the Lord of Les Baux try to steal a march on the visiting Comte de Barcelone.

Author Info

Try Book 1 ‘Song at Dawn’ – it’s free. I’m told ‘it’s like Game of Thrones but with real history’. If you review any of my books, do send me a photo of your dog – or one you know. I have a lovely Gallery of Readers’ dogs and I’m hoping to add to that.

Latest book

Plaint for Provence, Bk 3 in ‘The Troubadours Quartet’ :

Book trailer

Book 1 ‘Song at Dawn’ is available FREE.51QQyWv2WNL__SX326_BO1,204,203,200_


IPPY Award for Best Author Website




The Troubadours Page

Youtube book trailers

A Warm Welcome to Author Sue Barnard

Sue Barnard author pic (2)We are delighted to welcome Sue Barnard today. Sue was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University, where she studied French and Italian, Sue got married then had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase “non-working mother” would be banned from the English language.

Since then she has had a series of part-time jobs, including some work as a freelance copywriter. In parallel with this she took several courses in Creative Writing. Her writing achievements include winning the Writing Magazine New Subscribers Poetry Competition for 2013. She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is stranger than fiction; she’d write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

In case you haven’t read The Ghostly Father, it’s based on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, told from the point of view of the character of Friar Lawrence (called Fra’ Lorenzo in this version). In fact all the characters are given the Italian versions of their names – hence “Giulietta” rather than Juliet.

TGF front (2)The scene Sue has given us, which is pivotal to the story, is set in the vault, whilst Giulietta is still in her death-like trance. This is where, in the original tale, the lovers fall victim to a maddeningly preventable double-suicide. But in The Ghostly Father, events take a slightly different turn…

I have no idea how long I had been sitting there, desperately trying to ignore my cold, dark and dank surroundings, when I suddenly became aware of the noise of footsteps. I held my breath and listened. The footsteps grew louder; I realised that their owner must be coming down the steps into the vault. But concealed as I was behind Giulietta’s bier, I remained out of sight of the entrance, and the shaded light of my own flambard was wholly eclipsed by the light of another one, which was now being borne into the depths of the tomb.

Whoever this intruder might be, and whatever business he might have here, I prayed: Please may he go before the lady revives. Otherwise, what he sees will require no end of explanation. And neither she nor I would wish to be the one who would have to give it.

Vault (2)The footsteps came ever closer, eventually coming to a halt at the other side of Giulietta’s bier. There was a moment’s silence, then I was aware that the muslin sheet which had covered her body was slowly being pulled aside.

The intruder let out a low groan, then a stifled sob, before brokenly murmuring, “Giulietta! My love! My wife!”

I recognised the voice almost before the words had been uttered.

I lifted up my flambard and slowly eased myself to my feet. A ghastly sight met my eyes: young Romeo, his body racking with sobs, was clinging desperately to Giulietta’s body, his streaming face buried in the folds of her white wedding dress. So absorbed was he in his prostrate grief for his lost love that he was clearly utterly unaware that I was now standing at his side.

I was so taken aback at his arrival that it took some moments for me to ask myself: What in Heaven’s name was he doing here?

I received the answer to that question in the next instant. The broken-hearted boy was reaching into his pouch and pulling out a small glass vial.

Juliet's tomb (2)

Juliet’s tomb in Verona (part of the city’s Romeo & Juliet trail). Copyright Sue Barnard

Oh merciful Heaven, I thought, as I recalled Giulietta’s words: “I have no doubt that he would wish to follow me to the grave…”

I had no time to wonder what had happened to bring him hither in this desperate state; I knew only that I had but seconds to prevent a true catastrophe…

Book Blurb

Here’s the book blurb, as it appears on Amazon and on the back cover of the paperback edition:

Romeo & Juliet – was this what really happened? When Juliet Roberts is asked to make sense of an ancient Italian manuscript, she little suspects that she will find herself propelled into the midst of one of the greatest love stories of all time. But this is only the beginning. As more hidden secrets come to light, Juliet discovers that the tragic tale of her famous namesake might have had a very different outcome… A favourite classic story with a major new twist.

Sue Barnard is the author of the award-nominated historical fantasy The Ghostly Father and the romantic intrigues Nice Girls Don’t and The Unkindest Cut of All

Sue has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.

She joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014. This was followed in July 2014 by her second novel, a romantic mystery entitled Nice Girls Don’t. Her third novel, The Unkindest Cut of All (a murder mystery set in a theatre), was released in June 2015.

You can find Sue on Facebook, Twitter (@SusanB2011), or follow her blog here.

Sue is also an Editor at Crooked Cat Publishing

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