I’ve known Adele a long time and Adele and I have collaborated in anthologies together, and Ritu and Adele both contributed to my lockdown project, This Is Lockdown. Even though I have not met Adele in person, I feel as if I know her. I recommend you connect with both of these wonderful authors.
The mix of poetry, flash fiction and photography is something M J Mallon does very well. She combines them as part of the journey and the adventure she leads us on. She is a very skilled author and this newest release is a joy to traverse.
I loved how her favourite poem from the collection is about my home from home Edinburgh…
How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is Alice May coping with this enforced isolation?
This is her answer:
Opening the Door of ‘The House That Sat Down’
Many thanks to Marje for giving me the opportunity to open the door on The House That Sat Down and show what is happening to one author, in a remote cottage in the middle of nowhere, on the Dorset/Hampshire border during coronavirus lockdown.
Our cottage looks as idyllically chocolate-box perfect as it ever did – before it collapsed six years ago and needed rebuilding, that is – but that doesn’t mean that life is any easier inside for us than it is for anyone else at this challenging time. (A quick contextual update for those who have not read The House That Sat Down Trilogy, our house fell down out of the blue one day in 2014 and was painfully rebuilt over a traumatic period of time, which involved living in a tent in the garden; my husband, myself and four children. This period in my life led me to write my first award-winning novel.)
On a superficial level, the main change to my daily routine that I thought social lockdown would bring hasn’t materialised. I naively expected that ‘a bit more time at home’ would enable me to finish editing my latest book. The opposite has – in fact – proven to be the case and I am reminded that nothing is ever quite what we might expect.
Like many, I am attempting to nurture my family through their dramatically altered lives; a role which requires huge amounts of diplomacy which has never been one of my strong points. But, from a writing career perspective, I initially found myself paralysed by an overwhelming sense of loss.
My original – pre-Covid19 – schedule for April was chock full of exciting entries. There were multiple speaking events, radio interviews, literary festivals, book signings and even a trip to London to pitch my new book to publishers. It took months to set everything up, but only hours to come crashing down. My new, very empty April stretched before me and mental tumbleweed rolled around inside my brain as I found myself struggling to process the change without dissolving into tears.
With the world so very different, it seemed that the previous twelve months spent writing book 5 had been a colossal waste of time. How could that work still be relevant? I found myself unable to write at all and that worried me.
Instead, I started painting – no, not the walls, although they could do with it. I created big bright, colourful pieces of art to cheer myself up. I have always used painting as a way to express my emotions, it was a massively important part of my recovery from post-traumatic-stress after my house fell down. Recent weeks have seen a resurgence in my reliance on throwing paint around to make myself feel better.
My fabulous PR guru @jane_dean_pr suggested that I put a couple of free art tutorials on my YouTube channel (Alice May Artist https://youtu.be/p6bHYY4xPl0 ).
If I am completely honest, I think she was trying to get me to stop pestering her with questions about what I ought to do.
Nevertheless, it was a brilliant idea and has led to some exciting developments which proves that you never know when opportunity will come knocking. Uploading that first video was the start of a whole new dimension to my creative career. Three weeks and nearly twenty tutorials later, there has been a surge in the number of subscribers to my channel, countless visits to my website (www.alicemay.weebly.com) and an unanticipated increase in book sales. Plus, I’ve had some wonderful feedback via email, twitter and Facebook.
I was interviewed for an article in Good Housekeeping Magazine which was very exciting followed by a lovely chat with Louise Hanna on BBC Radio Solent, which in turn has led to me being invited to deliver paid presentations and art demonstrations on-line to social groups gathering on Zoom. Who knew that such a thing was even wanted, let alone possible? https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/lifestyle/a31989711/art-beginners-guide/
There has even been a suggestion that I might like to start running proper art classes after lockdown is lifted, which is definitely something to think about.
My empty diary is now stuffed full of new activities; none of which I could have predicted before lockdown, but all of which I am thoroughly enjoying. Which only goes to show that you can never predict what is just around the corner. Anything is possible. Stay safe, stay well and stay positive.
Alice May Artist, Author, Speaker www.alicemay.weebly.com You Tube: Alice May Artist Facebook: AliceMayAuthor Twitter: @AliceMay_Author Instagram: alicemay_author_artist
Thank you so much to Alice for being my guest. I never imagined that such a thing would happen. Poor Alice, can you imagine your house falling down with all its belongings, and memories reduced to rubble?
And now this COVID19. How resilient and inspiring she is. I am so glad I started this series. It has introduced me to so many amazing writers and creatives.
Yesterday I attended a wonderful event at Cambridge Central Library in conjunction with The Society of Childrens’ Writers and Book Illustrators: SCBWI.
I had the opportunity to hear from not one, not two, but three authors: Rosemary Hayes, Gillian McClure, and Pippa Goodhart who are all based in East Anglia and published by http://www.troikabooks.com/
Rosemary Hayes happens to be the same age as my mum and writes for young adults (11+) my preferred writing age range!
Who says we are ever too old to read, or to write YA! Never…
All of these age groups offer differing opportunities and challenges, from picture books to teens, authors have the power to capture and keep a reader’s attention.
How inspiring is that?
Gillian McClure kicked off the panel discussion by talking about her journey into writing and illustrating picture books. Her advice for picture book writers is simple: focus on seeing the world from the 2 – 6-year-old child’s point of view. Imagine what it is like to be a small person in a big world. Be aware of the things in their immediate vantage point, such as a dog on a pavement.
Begin by using a blank dummy with post-it-notes so that during the creative process you can move the words around and find their best placement.
Pay attention to pace and tone, e.g. starting and stopping to create a sense of flow. Or using two characters, one to speed up the pace and the other to slow it down. Or perhaps introduce one character to pose a question and the other to deliver an answer.
Think visually if you can and make sure that the words flow well on the page so when adults read aloud to children the experience is delightfully seamless.
For a shorter story format use minimal text and the present tense. Sometimes it is useful to use the past tense for scary scenes to bring the young reader out of the sense of immediate danger.
The ending should suggest that any underlying fears are resolved and there should be a sense of hope conveyed.
Pippa Goodhardt joined the discussion next, with her experiences of writing for MG – (7 to 9-year-olds.)
Her introduction focused on the importance of encouraging a reading habit in young children, validated by her own experience as a poor reader and writer as a child. Opportunities and the right environment can change a poor reader into an enthusiastic one, or may even encourage a poor reader to become an author as it did in Pippa’s experience.
This age group has huge potential, this is when readers are made and begin to choose their own books. There is a growing sense of independence characterised by sleepovers and the like. Characters aren’t expected to be saintly, and should be given the opportunity to explore, and have independent adventures. More serious topics can be explored, (in an imaginative and perhaps fantastical way,) but with an awareness of what is appropriate to the age of the child.
Rosemary Hayes continued the discussion with her thoughts on encouraging empathy in children and fostering reading in the teenage age group.
Twelve to fourteen-year-olds question the world around them and are sensitive and impressionable. Consider various aspects when writing for this age group e.g. Do they interact well with their peers?
Authors should be encouraged to explore more challenging, edgy content as long as this is thoughtfully done. Focus on what you care about. Be passionate, grab the readers’ attention fast or they will lose interest. Be careful about the use of language – slang and the like can become out-dated very quickly..
Don’t write down to your readers, treat them with respect, write about what inspires and intrigues you and this should in turn intrigue and inspire them.
I’ve had a fantastic week, on Monday I met the esteemed inventor Dr John C Taylor, OBE.
What an experience, Dr Taylor is an extraordinary person. He is an inventor, pilot, adventurer, photographer, architect and philanthropist. After meeting him it’s no wonder that I’d be inspired to write a Tanka poem about one of his amazing Chronopage inventions. He has three in total, the Corpus Chronopage below resembles a grasshopper and features on the front cover of my novel.
Here I am with Dr Taylor by the Corpus Chronopage in King’s Parade, Cambridge.
Below is the Midsummer Chronopage, a huge mythical fly-like creature with intricate wings and a sting in its tail.
Using Colleen’s prompt words this week – voice and watch – I wrote a little Tanka poem. I used statement instead of voice and I kept watch even though I had chronograph.
Before I tootle off I’d just like to say that Dr Taylor has some magnificent stamps that you can order and collect featuring his wonderful inventions – all proceeds go to the Teapot Trust – a worthy charity – art therapy for children with chronic illness: http://www.teapot-trust.org/
HELP LOVELY PEEPS REVIEWS NEEDED. I really need some!!!! PLEEEEASSSEE. If you’ve read The Curse of Time #1 Bloodstone and liked/loved it could you write a short review. It doesn’t need to be gazillions of words just a few would do and post to relevant sites: amazon, goodreads. I’d be most grateful.
BOOK REVIEWERS: IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN RECEIVING A FREE e-pub, mobi or pdf copy in exchange for a review please leave a comment below, or email me firstname.lastname@example.org. The Curse of Time would appeal to readers/reviewers who enjoy YA/MG fantasy fiction. The story is set in Cambridge, UK.
There are many themes in the book but the main ones are:
Time, (Inspired by The magnificent Corpus Chronopage Clock, Kings Parade, Cambridge.)
Here I am with the esteemed inventor Dr John C Taylor, OBE by the chronopage and grasshopper.
A warm welcome to my Spotlight guest Daniel Royse, author of the fabulously titled: The Watermelon King.
I just love that title, don’t you? It certainly caught my attention. Perhaps it’s because I love watermelons, perhaps it’s the quirkiness of it. Who knows… I discovered Daniel quite by chance on Goodreads and I am so glad I did. If I hadn’t I would never have read The Watermelon King, or found out about Daniel’s travelling exploits. Can you imagine? What a loss.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica just loves the magic of travel. There is nothing as satisfying as being able to explore, and experience new cultures. But, all is well with the world, I’ve read The Watermelon King and it took me far, far away to swelteringly hot East Africa! Books truly are amazing. Don’t you just love them? I’m delighted to say that The Watermelon King is on my highly recommended thirst quenching list… review up next, but for now let’s focus on my Author Spotlight Guest today at Kyrosmagica….
Daniel Royse is the founder and editor in chief of the online travel publication, This Boundless World. He has written numerous articles on travel, business and politics. The Watermelon King is his first full-length novel.
Daniel is an obsessive writer and explorer who has backpacked to over 50 countries, spanning five continents. To the disbelief of many, he still enjoys long, hot bus rides through chaotic places.
After being laid off from his job at a prestigious consulting firm, Dean decides to embark on a journey across East Africa with his younger brother. Unknowingly, they travel into bandit territory where a medical emergency forces them to choose between their safety and their health.
Inspired by true events, The Watermelon King follows the journey of two brothers as they backpack across one of East Africa’s most inhospitable regions. As they endure endless days of difficult travel, a series of short stories written by their father begins to uncover their inherent desire for adventure and their connection to the past. Along the way they begin to understand the beauty and frustration of life in Africa.
Excited? You should be… nip out and get yourself a copy, and perhaps a slice of watermelon too. Enjoy.
If you would like to be featured on my author/blogger spotlight sometime soon, get in touch. I am happy to shout out about indie authors, debut authors, world famous authors, obsessive travel bloggers, bungee jumpers, dare devils, artists, crafty folk, photographers, fashionistas, humourists, etc, etc, as long as you are fabulous, talented and inspiring. No pressure, LOL!!!
Contact me on email@example.com for your chance to be one of my next guests.All genres considered.. I read widely from YA, to horror!
‘Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum houses one of Europe’s great art collections. It is amongst the top three free-to-enter visitor attractions in Scotland and one of the most visited museums in the United Kingdom outside of London.’ Glasgow Life Kelvingrove Museum
So I thought I’d share with you some of my photos of my day out.
I walked through the park and came upon this guy on the bridge.
Then I saw this very fine path leading up to this magnificent looking building.
And then a little sculpture within the grounds .. The Vital Spark Puffer by George Wyllie
And this one too..
And I walked round to the Argyle Street museum entrance too. Here it is standing proudly like a jewel of beauteous splendor on a hill.
Closer it doesn’t disappoint. Look at this! What an imposing building.
Inside it is just as magnificent. I arrived in time for the organ recital – do you see that tiny dot of a man in the middle of the photo wearing a white jacket playing the organ?
Take a look at these white floating heads There’s something quite eerie about them!! …
There are 9,000 pieces on exhibition or thereabouts, don’t expect me to count them all individually – this is what I read somewhere. Judging by what I saw I could well believe this. My advice is don’t be a tight Scotsman! Pop some money in the donate box – this really is an amazing art gallery and museum, and a few pounds wouldn’t go amiss to show your appreciation! At the moment there are three exhibition on too:
There are two options for cafes. Either you can grab a quick sandwich in the centre hall of the museum gallery, which is fine if you’re in a hurry. But if you’re not, I’d advise you to treat yourself to a drink, cake or lunch in the KG Cafe in the basement. That’s what I did and I didn’t regret it. Here’s why… beautiful views…
Glasgow is an inspiring and welcoming city. I’m leaving you with my final photo of these beautiful flowers which adorn various places of interest in the streets of Glasgow.
Marianne Williamson’s quote sums up how I feel about it too. The older I get the more I want to go on an adventure! There is nothing that I want to do more than to write, to explore a new landscape of my dreams, to be reborn as a Bloggers Basher and have fun!! Just in case you have no idea what I’m talking about and think this is some new sort of cult, here’s the link to my post about the Bloggers Bash in London on the 11th of June: My Take on The Bloggers Bash
Now, a few people have mentioned that they are suffering from a touch of the Blogger’s Bash blues after the event, so this is for us BB bloggers, and anyone who is or has ever experienced a touch of the blues ….to try to cheer us up with a bit of a giggle…. ENJOY!
I love to eavesdrop. It’s a compulsory and addictive occupation if you’re a writer. Trains are great for this. On the way to the Blogger’s Bash on Saturday I just couldn’t help myself. The urge came over me to tune in. It was desperate. I tried to stop but it just wasn’t possible. The train was very crowded. There wasn’t a seat available for me to plant my derriere so I surrendered to my deep-seated curiosity. Two young men were standing next to me. Inevitably their conversation touched on the topic of girls, and then veered in an unexpected, and ahem… amusing direction.
NOTE: This is a bit of a departure from my usual children’s writing!! It’s good to try new ideas… I had so much fun writing this!
(The speech below is of course my embellished version of events …..!!!)
Pert Bums, Make up, Fake Tan, and Hair Extensions.
‘Yeah but she’s all make up, fake tan, and hair extensions.’
‘Got a fit body though.’
‘Can’t argue with that.. hope it’s real. Real or not, the thought of her makes me tingle…’
‘Calm down mate… sounds like you’ve got too much of that testosterone buzzing round your body… Have you … oh can’t say that …. I’ll get nicked for indecent behaviour …’
‘Ha Ha! That would be so like you… ‘
‘True, you got me!… Let’s leave the coppers for now..the very thought of them makes me sweat…. even though I’m innocent.. I swear. Let’s keep this on the straight and narrow. Been to the gym recently, released the T word?’
‘T word.. oh not a cuppa, you mean a tipple of Testosterone? No. No gym, no footie, nothing, none of the other, either!’
‘No wonder you’re bloody drooling mate.’
‘You better get on top of it, tame it, work it out, and, um… I hate to say this mate but something dear to you, is holding you back.’
‘Your behind,derrière, bum, butt, buttocks! It’s em… how do I say this? It’s not quite what it used to be.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Your posterior used to be pretty pert!’
There’s a moment’s silence….
‘You got me there.. It did didn’t it? It was well toned, and admired,’ he laughed, ommiting a half laugh, turning round to observe his once firm bum.
‘A cracker of a bum… your cheeks made me giddy with jealousy!’
‘Ah…. that’s tragic. My bum’s lost its way .. You’re right I better get down to that gym super pronto, or my ass fan club will be a forgotten fiction!’
A wistful expression lingered on his face. His mate gave him a sympathetic look. With those parting words they left the train. Leaving behind a captivated audience that longed for more..
Sigh.. my entertainment ended. This was far better than any soap opera. Lots of seats became available and I sat down, planting my posterior down. I brushed my hair, and applied a bit of lipstick, no fake tan, or hair extensions, I’d like to add. Oh well.. I was still on my way to the Bloggers Bash, lots more excitement and fun to come!
What I find so amusing about this extraordinary experience is the openness with which these two young men spoke. Were they discussing this in public for attention? Were they just having a laugh? Let’s consider the reactions that they received. No one on the train laughed, or openly smiled. Talk about stiff upper lip. We were all holding it in, squeezing our toned bums even though no doubt a little smile was playing on our lips. Perhaps we had a little twinkle in our eyes. But no one said a word. Instead each and every one of us had a bit of a silent giggle. Well I did anyway..!
Have you ever heard an amusing or astonishing conversation while travelling?
If you have I’d love to hear all about it. Go on… admit it I bet you love to eavesdrop too!
Have a lovely day, keep smiling..
Just finishing with my new Bitmoji hope you like it!
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
My fun (totally not serious but nevertheless 90% true,) author bio on Wattpad – Link below.
Marjorie Mallon was born in Lion City: Singapore. She grew up in a mountainous court in Hong Kong. Her crazy parents dragged her spotty soul away from her exotic childhood and her much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. There she mastered Scottish country dancing, haggis bashing, bagpipe playing and a whole new Och Aye lingo.
As a teenager she travelled to many far flung destinations to visit her abacus wielding wayfarer dad. On one such occasion a barracuda swam by. It stopped to view her bikini clad body, longing to take a big bite. With dogs' fangs replacing barracudas' teeth, she returned to her mother's birthplace: Kuching, Cat City. There, Blackie, a black-hearted dog sniffed her frightened butt, whimpered and ran away! Shortly after this extraordinary event an angry female Orang-Utan chased her unfit ass out of the Malaysian jungle believing that she was a threat to her babies! She still monkeys about, would love to own a cat, or a replacement Topsy but refuses to entertain murderous dogs, or over-protective monkeys.
It's rumoured that she lives in the Venice of Cambridge, with her six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and her two enchanted daughters.
After such an upbringing her author's mind has taken total leave of its senses. When she's not writing, she eats exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surfs to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out she practises Tai Chi and Yoga on the crest of a wave. If the mood takes her she goes snorkelling with mermaids, or signs up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.
She is a child of the light and the dark. Her motto is simply this: Do what you love, stay true to your heart's desires, remain young at heart, and inspire others to do so, even if it appears that the odds are stacked like black hearted shadows against you...
I am very busy at the moment editing my book getting it ready for self publishing so with that in mind I will be doing some reblogs of posts that I have enjoyed. Today, its been a tough decision which to pick as there have been so many that I have enjoyed but after much thought I’d like to share with you author Ali Stegert’s inspiring post about young authors. Christopher Paolini started writing Eragon (2002) when he was 15…….. So age is no obstacle, young, old, we’re all in this together! Enjoy.. 🙂