#Giveaway: The Beginning of the End

public battles draft30 years ago today, miners all over the country went back to work after a year long strike; the battle to save their jobs and their communities was over, lost. For some pit towns closure was swift, for others it took up to a decade. Only a few survive and today we import our coal from Eastern Europe and beyond. Their world, and ours, was transformed, forever. And while there were losses, there were also personal victories, as my novel, Public Battles, Private Wars, explores.

To mark this anniversary – celebration is quite the wrong word – my publishers have set up a giveaway over at Goodreads. Click below for a chance to win a paperback copy of my novel. Good luck and for those who win, I do hope you enjoy the read.

Goodreads Giveaway!

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Writing Groups & their uses by guest author Kitty Campanile

Today, I’m delighted to introduce Kitty Campanile, an indie author who has recently published a novel set against the backdrop of the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike. When I wrote my own ‘miners’ strike’ novel in 2012, I was surprised at how underexplored in fiction the strike was, particularly from the female perspective; it was a driving force in the decision to write the book. It looks like this is changing. Anyway, Kitty’s here to talk about writing groups and their benefits, in particular the support she received. Over to you, Kitty.

Book Cover-Mighty Like A RoseWriting can be a solitary occupation, and for a self published author it really is a one man show – unless you can find a little help from your friends. I have been going to Woking Writers’ Circle for nearly two years now, having bumped into one of the members at an open mic event.

We meet once a month. Between seven and a dozen members turn up and we’ll each have a ten minute slot to read and get feedback. Each month there is a homework which can get inspiration flowing, or you can bring in whatever you are working on for criticism and feedback. We have a range of writers from a range of backgrounds. Poets, essayists, short story writers and novelists with very different styles all come together. I have learned as much from critically listening to the work of others as from the critique of my own work.

As well as feedback, the encouragement is valuable. Mighty Like a Rose nearly wasn’t written. It started out as a NaNoWriMo project, by the end of November 2013 I had a few chapters and a lot of self doubt. It’s rare for me to not take anything to writers’ circle but I just couldn’t write anything. I explained to the group I had started a novel but wasn’t happy with what I had so far. Greg, one of the Writer’s Circle stalwarts, offered to read what I had and gave me enough encouragement to continue with the project, as well as line-by line feedback on what I had written. Although I didn’t take every chapter in, each month the others would ask how it was going, how many words, how long until I was finished. When I did bring a pivotal chapter in to read, I got useful feedback from my colleagues and was able to talk more about the story in the pub afterwards! Having a group of people take an interest kept my enthusiasm going, there’s a temptation (especially at the editing stage) to put a long-term project on the back burner and start something shiny and new. Although I still worked on short pieces, the group helped me stay focussed. Aside from the Writers’ Circle, I have called on more informal groups to help. I got a few woman from an online feminist knitting group to beta read – it was important for me to get international readers as I was concerned the Yorkshire dialogue might not be understandable, or that I might be assuming too much knowledge of the miners’ strike. Another friend (a member of my ukulele band who has published before) proof-read all 90,000 words for a pint (which I haven’t bought him yet). Indebted as I am to this eclectic group of friends, I couldn’t have finished the book without the Writers’ Circle.

Kitty portraitMighty Like a Rose, a tale of love, friendship and solidarity, set against the backdrop of the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike, is available in paperback or as an e-book from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mighty-Like-Rose-Thornethorpe-Saga/dp/1507524749/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1423092336&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=kitty+campanile

Find out more about Woking Writers’ Circle at https://wokingwriters.wordpress.com/

Thanks so much for popping by, Kitty and best of British with the book.

Freebies, Events and an Anthology

Yet again another blog post with a three-pronged title. Next time, I promise it will be different

Resized cover imageSo, from today (22nd) until Saturday (25th) Blinding Book’s brilliant anthology My Baby Shot Me Down is FREE for Kindle. If you’ve not taken a peek at this interesting and diverse collection, now would be a good time. As you may know, I have two stories in the anthology.

This Saturday, 25th October, between 11.30 and 12.30 I will be at WH Smith in Cardiff – the Queen Street branch – talking about, and signing copies of, my novel, Public Battles, Private Wars. It would be lovely to see some of you there if you’re local. If not, perhaps you could let friends and family know. I will have chocolates – not that I bribe or anything.WH Smith Show Card with author (3)

And again for the South Wales, West Country based amongst you, I’d like to invite you to the launch of a special anthology from another fabulous Welsh publisher, Parthian. A Flock of Shadows is a collection of short stories with a Gothic flavour and I am absolutely thrilled to have a story included. The paperback will be available in the shops in February, with the e-book available sooner. Of course, if you can make it to the launch you’ll be able to snaffle a copy there.GothicAnthology_LaunchPoster_web

That’s all for now, folks.

Laura

Rollercoaster Day

Wow, yesterday was an emotional rollercoaster. The day began with an interview at Rosemary Allix’s Book Corner for Coastway Radio. I was there to talk about Public Battles, Private Wars and promote the free for Kindle offer that runs till the end of July. Rosemary is a talented host and an author herself, and an all-round delightful woman. Find out more about her here.

The hour long chat went by in a flash and we both agreed there was so much more we could have discussed about the book’s major themes: women’s changing roles since the 1980s, complex female relationships, thwarted love and betrayal. It was great to hear how much Rosemary is enjoying the novel and the characters. Warms the cockles and all that, but when I talk about that time and the inspiration behind the novel it dredges up all sorts of memories for me – not all of them happy. You can listen to the interview here: http://www.mixcloud.com/RosemaryA/laura-wilkinson-on-coastway/

From the radio station, I bombed home to check emails, talk to a couple of libraries about potential author events and then off to Ginger2’s school for his Year 6 graduation ceremony, a bundle of tissues clutched in my (sweaty) palm – it was 28 degrees here in Brighton (gulp). He is only ten, but off to secondary – yes, secondary – school in September. End of era for him, and for me; a salutary reminder of my own mortality and that my ‘baby’ is no longer any such thing. He managed to control himself during the ceremony – I didn’t, quite – but we both had a good boo when we got home.

Today, I still feel a bit wobbly, but I’ve a client’s novel to edit and my own WIP to return to. Here’s to me getting a grip and getting on!

Budget food 80s style, Part 9: Baked Stuffed Hearts

Not a baked heart! But made with love!

Not a baked heart! But made with love!

On this, the 30th anniversary of a defining moment in British history and the strike – The Battle of Orgreave – immortalised by artist Jeremy Deller, author David Peace and poet Helen Mort. I’m sharing another offal recipe – Baked Stuffed Hearts. Why? Because the strike was full of passion and my novel, Public Battles, Private Wars, has been described by book blogger Tracy Terry at Pen and Paper as a novel with a big heart.

You will need:

4 calves hearts

Pork Sausage Stuffing

50g/2oz of butter

3 tablespoons of stock or water if you’ve no stock

To prepare:

Wash hearts well

Remove veins and fat. Dry thoroughly

Cut through centre divisions to make 1 cavity in each heart

Fill loosely with stuffing

Transfer to casserole dish

Dot with butter. Pour in stock water

Cook, tightly covered, in the centre of a moderate oven (160C/325F or Gas Mark 3) for an hour and a half

Baste well

Continue to cook, uncovered, for a further 30 minutes (or until tender)

Serve with Creamed Potatoes, Brown Sauce and Redcurrant jelly.

On the 18th June 1984 striking miners clashed with riot police, many with shields and on horseback, in the fields outside the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire. In 1991 South Yorkshire Police force paid out over half a million pounds in compensation to miners arrested during the struggle.