Sunday Book Review – This is Lockdown #Anthology, Collective Writing

Thank you so much to Debby for this wonderful review of This Is Lockdown. Thrilled. <3 https://dgkayewriter.com/sunday-book-review-this-is-lockdown-covid19-diaries-anthology-by-mj-mallon/

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Sally Cronin’s Review of This Is Lockdown #anthology #compilation

Thank you so much to Sally Cronin for taking the time to read and review This Is Lockdown which releases 20th July. The kindle is currently on preorder via Amazon.

Read the thoughtful and detailed review via the following link:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2020/07/18/smorgasbord-book-reviews-anthology-this-is-lockdown-covid-19-diaries-flash-fiction-poetry-m-j-mallon-and-other-authors/

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Blog Tour and Promo for #new #release – This Is Lockdown

The Blog tour and promo for This Is Lockdown starts officially next week with the pre-order promo followed by book launch week!

Already, we’ve had a promo post from Lorraine Mace: http://thewritersabcchecklist.blogspot.com/2020/07/friday-fiction-feature-this-is-lockdown.html

Lorraine writes bestselling crime: The DI Sterling series. There’s no crime in This Is Lockdown but Lorraine features a wide variety of authors in her Friday Fiction Features. She also has a critique and mentoring service plus information for writers on her blog.

Pre-order week promo for This Is Lockdown

13th July the awesome Sally Cronin is featuring us!!! – a new book on the shelves, special promo: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2020/07/13/smorgasbord-cafe-and-bookstore-special-feature-anthology-this-is-lockdown-covid-19-diaries-flash-fiction-poetry-m-j-mallon-and-other-authors/

14th July Chantelle Atkins: https://chantelleatkins.com/2020/07/14/this-is-lockdown-q-and-a-with-mj-mallon

15th July Beaton Mabaso : https://becomingthemuse.net/2020/07/15/of-this-is-lockdown-book-and-blog-tour/

16th July: Willow Willers: https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2020/07/16/day-three-of-the-this-is-lockdown-blog-tour/

17th July: Double Promo: https://mjmallon.com/2020/07/17/17th-july-promo-hot-off-the-press-new-releases-wisp-ii-sea-dragons-and-this-is-lockdown-fantasy-dragons-and-covid19-anthology-compilation/

Blog Tour:
14th July Chantelle Atkins (Q and A) .
15th July Beaton Mabaso
16th July Willow Willers (Q and A)
17th July – Double Promo for This Is Lockdown and Adele Marie Park‘s new release Wisp II – Sea Dragons at M J Mallon’s blog.

18th July Sally Cronin – Promo/Review!!!

19th July – Recap Promo of all the great promos- M J Mallon

Launch week:

20th July – Launch Day Promo M J Mallon – Lockdown Quotes.
21st July – Sharon Wilden of Shaz’s book blog – promo
22nd July – Ritu Kaur BP
23rd July – Richard Dee
24th July – D G Kaye ( Q and A)
25th July – Marian Wood

25th of July is the last day of the tour as I am going on holiday thereafter and taking a break from social media! As this has been a huge project and I reckon I will be exhausted by then.

The fabulous authors, bloggers and creatives who have contributed to This Is Lockdown. I’d like to give a shout out to them all.  

Richard Dee, (Sci Fi , Steampunk, Amateur Detective author,) Catherine Fearns, (Amazon Bestselling Author of Police Procedural/Mysteries and Music Journalist,) Lynn Fraser, (Author,) Jackie Carreira, (Writer, musician, designer and aspiring philosopher,) Willow Willers, (Poet and writer,) Sharon Marchisello, (Murder Mystery, Financial non-fiction,) Fi Phillips , (Author, Copy Writer) Jeannie Wycherley, (dark stories, suspense, horror,) Chantelle Atkins, (urban fiction, teen/YA,) Tracie Barton-Barrett, (Speaker/author,) Peter Taylor- Gooby, (Crime, Love Stories, Political Fiction,) Ritu Bhathal, (Chick Lit romance, poet,) Alice May , (Author, Artist and Speaker,) Miriam Owen, (Blogger and Doctoral Researcher,) Drew Neary and Ceri Williams (Ghost Horror, Supernatural,) Katherine Mezzacappa, (Author name: Katie Hutton,) (Historical Fiction/Romance,) Sally Cronin, (huge supporter of indie community/blogger/author) Debby Gies (D G Kaye), (Memoirist/NonFiction,) Adele Marie Park, (Fantasy, horror, urban fantasy,) Marian Wood, (blogger, poet and writer.) Samantha Murdoch, (Writer, Blogger,) Beaton Mabaso (Blogger, African Storyteller,) Frank Prem (Poet, Author,) Anne Goodwin (Author, Book Blogger) Sherri Matthews (Writer, Photographer, Blogger,) and Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val – Community Masks 4 NHS.

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Marian Wood: Pandemic Poetry #Poetry #COVID19 #Isolation #Writers #Contributing #Author

Welcome to Marian Wood, a contributing writer in the forthcoming collection of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, writings and poetry: This Is Lockdown with her poem and thoughts on COVID19.

This Is Lockdown will feature a wide variety of authors, writers and bloggers from UK, USA, Italy and Canada.

Poetry from Marian Wood

© Marian Wood

The world is quiet, a new strange calm,
People staying indoors, scared of coming to harm.
Cars are now just sitting on drives,
As people now lead different lives.

No longer racing for the morning bus,
Now staying at home, with lap top, no fuss.
The children are now home from school,
And mum is trying to set the rules.

Sitting working, but watching the kids,
A parent can be successful at this.
With the help of a maths app and a cool pc,
The children can be kept calm and busy.

It was March that this change came to the UK,
And now it’s here, it’s not going away.
Never before have people been told to stay at home,
I’m so glad for social media and our telephones.

Our children are growing up right now,
They will forever remember what happened and how.
The Chinese Wet Market in Wuhan,
Was that really where this all began?

The children

The children are now drawing rainbows,
All part of our memories and makes our hearts glow.
All our praises go to our NHS and keyworkers,
They are all working hard in an effort to save us.

So, everyone now please look after your families,
Stay indoors, obey lock down, care for your babies.
Maybe have a picnic in your front room,
Or make the chairs into a rocket and fly to the moon.

Trying to think of ways to pass the day,
Bringing in inventive ways for creativity and play.
Make the most of this time that’s been given to us,
It’s not going soon, this Corona virus is in no rush.

We are not sure when the lock down will end,
But on one thing you really can depend.
The NHS workers are fighting for you,
There’s not enough clapping that we can do.

For they will continue to fight to the finish,
Brave and steadfast, their care won’t diminish.
This corona virus has become our life’s big feature,
However, we need to see the bigger picture.

Our world around us

Whilst the NHS and Keyworkers are caring for us,
Our planet is loving the difference, loving the less rush.
The effects of planes, ships and of the many cars,
Earth’s destruction had gone too far.

Looking up now the sky is deep blue,
It’s beautiful, lock down was a good thing to do.
Throughout this disaster we need to see the positive,
Reflect on the good, no longer on the negative.

So, hug your children and play your games,
Home school and work, we will never live this again.
Keep your scrapbooks and write your diaries,
And look after your families, and try not to worry.

© Marian Wood

Bio:

I am a happily married, working mum to two children aged seven and nine. I write two blogs featuring my children, poetry and short stories. I’m currently working on my first novel. I have reached about 80 000 words and I’m stuck with the ending. I stopped writing it in October 2019 and now I’m struggling to get back into it.

Confidence and COVID 19 are not helping to motivate me.

I’ve learnt If you are writing a novel, don’t stop writing it until it’s finished. If you stop and take a break it might take longer. I’d have completed it if I hadn’t stopped.

For us, COVID 19 has meant isolation. My husband is being shielded so we are all shielding. It is hard not going anywhere and not seeing friends in person.

In March we were both ill and suspected that we had the virus. However, the swab test showed a negative result. This test may not be accurate, so we don’t know if we have had it, but we were ill for weeks.

Tesco are delivering our food, Morrison’s my husband’s prescriptions. I’m working for the NHS from home. It’s nice to roll out of bed and go to work in my pyjamas and I love Microsoft Teams. It’s better than coping with the school run and a stressful drive to the morning meeting. 

The environment has loved the relief from the pollution. There are positives to this awful situation. I try not to focus on the state of our economy or the mistakes made. The UK is in a sorry state right now. People are still dying daily, and I fear going to the supermarket. Despite an NHS discount, I prefer to order online where there is no NHS perk. My Amazon shopping has increased as I’m too scared to go to the shops. Plus, we are shielding.

New rules in June in the UK might change the goalposts for shielders. For me, hiding from the world is the better option. However, this is really not fair on my kids who are desperate to get out. As well as working, I am home schooling. The school sends a weekly timetable with web links and information sheets. I do my best to work through them with the children and tick off what we have done.

I work three days a week but due to home-schooling I am working six days. I am exhausted, I’m enjoying it but I’m tired. This week my nine-year-old and I have been learning about the oceans and explorers. It is an interesting subject. So, COVID 19 has brought great change to our lives. Home school, can’t go anywhere and mum no longer gets time alone. It has affected my writing as I’m more stressed and I have less time. I’m struggling to keep up with my blogs.

I’m hoping that the rate of infection in the UK keeps coming down. At the moment the figures are still high and we don’t even know if the children are going back to school in September, or whether it will be a phased return. At the moment, we can only guess.

This virus has come and messed with all our lives; I’m hoping that it is soon something in the past. Someday I hope for a vaccine. A time that we will no longer worry about it and the world will feel safe again.

Links:

www.justmuddlingthroughlife.co.uk

Www.marianwood.com

Www.facebook.com/marianwood76/

Www.twitter.com/MarianEWood

Thank you so much to Marian for being a contributing author in the forthcoming anthology and collection of diaries, short stories, flash fiction and poems: This Is Lockdown.

I am so excited how this is all taking shape!!!

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Sally Cronin: Lockdown #Poetry #Thoughts #Isolation #Writers

Photo by Jordan Benton from Pexels


Welcome to Sally Cronin, a huge supporter of the indie writing community. Sally has kindly offered to contribute to my latest writing project: This Is Lockdown.

It’s a compilation of my diaries, short stories, flash fiction, poetry and articles, plus poems and pieces of writing from an array of international writers, authors and bloggers – the ‘Isolation Writers,’ featured on my blog.

She shares her tributes to all those who have kept us safe, educated, fed, and cared for during this crisis, her thoughts on reentering ‘normal’ activities, a poem inspired by our current situation, plus her reflections for the future.

Double Etheree – Silver Lining

I
believe
there is a
silver lining
to isolation.
A chance to reassess
how we effectively use
one of life’s great commodities
so often wasted and lamented
yet measured so accurately each day.
Time can be fleeting or last a lifetime
and it seems there is little to spare.
But during this brief hiatus
I have come to understand
that clocks do not decide
how I use this gift.
In the future
I will live
and love
more.

© Copyright Sally Cronin 2020

Thanks very much Marjorie for inviting me over to share my thoughts about the recent three months of lock down and the prospect of moving forward.

Firstly, I really want to pay tribute to the health care workers in hospitals, care homes and those who have continued to visit individuals in the community. We tend to forget when we look at their uniforms that they are also grandparents, mums and dads, sisters, brothers and grandchildren, who have the same concerns we all do about what is going on in the home, not just in their place of work.

Also those working on the front-line in supermarkets and pharmacies that have turned up each day, cheerfully, to make sure we have food on the table and medication delivered.

Parents too have been challenged by assuming the roles of teachers as well as playmates for their children in the last three months, and judging by the photographs and captions on social media, with mixed results. Humour thankfully has been sustained over the last 12 weeks, but I do know that many have struggled with the enforced isolation.

What I would like to focus on in this post, is how three groups of our society are going to cope with the next phase of re-entering the outside world.

I notice that there are already articles on how to minimise the impact on our pets, who have enjoyed having their families at home with them all day, and that includes leaving them for small amounts of time to get them used to be alone again. Humans also need help adjusting to the new world we will find when we reconnect with society.

This includes those who have been classified as vulnerable, primary school children and those who have had their treatments for life threatening diseases put on hold for over three months.

Those classified as vulnerable
I am officially in the at risk group because of my age rather than underlying health issues, but I must say that having shopped in the designated times, I probably will continue to do so as long as they continue… There do not seem to be many early risers at the moment with schools still shut, so I tend to shop in isolated splendour, rolling up and through the checkout without any delay. I do wear a mask and latex gloves and use hand sanitiser as well. Once home I get in the shower and wash my hair and glasses at the same time… shoes stay outside for the day upside down in sunshine or get wiped over with Dettol. I do think it will be a while before I discard these precautions, however safe they announce it might be.

However, one of the issues identified, is covid-19 phobia amongst many elderly people who have become used to having their groceries delivered, and total absence of outside physical contact with family and friends. We have been informed regularly, that with the lifting of restrictions there could be a second wave of the virus, and that it is highly likely that there will be another lockdown when the winter flu season starts later in the year. It does not exactly inspire confidence when it comes to leaving the house and mixing with strangers again as we used to.

This is reinforced with the continued advice for those over 70 or with a long-term underlying conditions, to remain indoors with medication and food deliveries where possible, indoor exercise or in the garden and minimise time spent outside the home and contact with others.

Services such as day care centres which provide such an important physical interaction with others, and also an opportunity to leave the house, have been shut during the lock down. Unfortunately these will remain closed until social distancing protocols have been put in place. But, many elderly will still be too afraid to take advantage of them. Those with families living close by will I am sure, find it much easier to make steps towards the new form of normal. But, for those who are living alone, it will be far more difficult.

Age UK is still doing great work with personal visits to the home, and outreach programme online and by phone, food shopping and other activities. There is a comprehensive website covering Covid-19 and how they can help should you feel that it might be of help for yourself or for a family member.

Here is the link: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/

Primary School Children
Teenagers in the main are used to living their lives online, and whilst they will have felt the restrictions on their movement in the last three months, they will have kept up their previous relationships and pastimes such as gaming as normal. But younger children, who don’t have access to the Internet in the same way, are at risk of missing out on a crucial time of socialisation with others. When they do return to school or start for the first time in September, there will be physical distancing methods in place that are going to severely restrict how they communicate and play with each other. Sitting alone in a square metre in the playground during breaks and in the dining room is not going to help them integrate into a class community.

Teachers are going to be challenged within all age groups, to not just educate, but be the guardians of personal space. And with teenagers that is going to be tough and almost impossible to enforce outside of the classroom. With the younger children there is likely to be a long-term effect on how they interact with others unless their re-integration is carefully managed.

Those with life-threatening health conditions
The health service is stretched under normal circumstances, but with the lifting of restrictions on elective surgeries and essential treatments for diseases such as cancers, there are going to be even longer delays for patients. It must have been an extremely stressful time for hundreds of thousands of people, and desperate for parents with children who needed urgent treatment.

They are talking about an 18 months waiting list for elective surgeries but hopefully those requiring life-saving treatment will be at the head of the queue. And perhaps all the private health beds that were paid for, but never used, could be taken advantage of now to speed the process up.

An opportunity for us all.
Even though I have worked in the nutritional field for over twenty years, I realised that I needed to take a close look at my own lifestyle and diet and make some changes. I don’t need prescribed medication, but it is easy to slip into bad habits, particular in lock down. The key risk factors that have been identified for a poor outcome from catching Covid-19 are related to obesity, including high blood pressure and Type II diabetes. These conditions are all reversible with changes to diet and lifestyle, and whilst it can be challenging, it may lower our risk of becoming infected as we re-join the community.


Thanks again Marjorie for having me over and sharing my thoughts and poem…

Thank you Sally, it has been a pleasure, sharing your considered thoughts and lovely poem.


Amazon Author Page US: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
Amazon Author Page UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-smorgasbord-blog-magazine-and-sally-
cronin/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1

Thank you so much for being my guest Sally and for contributing an article and poem to This Is Lockdown.

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D G Kaye : Isolation Writers #COVID19 #Thoughts #Isolation #Etheree #Poem

Marje, thanks for inviting me to share my thoughts on Covid19 and my observances. I’ve written an Etheree to express my thoughts.

It’s my pleasure Debby, so glad you can join me to discuss these challenging times.


These are most certainly strange times. Covid19 has put the world on pause. These uncertain times give us opportunity to reflect and step outside the box of life as we knew it, urging us all to take a good long look at our world. Across the globe there are people hiding safely in their homes, people who worry about losing their homes, and many who protest the lockdown rules by defying them.

Question marks still abound about this mysterious disease as there is still much we’ve yet to learn about the contagious Coronavirus. Countries are doing their best to keep ‘the curve’ down from spread and it’s up to each one of us to do our parts in both dodging and keeping from spreading it in our tracks. But human nature is always a factor, and there will always be those who oppose the rule of law.

I’m a writer, so I observe life and its contradictions. From my vantage point I’ve seen a lot of the world expose itself through this unprecedented time, from the good to the bad, from the obedient to the defiant. I’ve seen images of waters clearing and fish once again swimming in places not seen for decades. I’ve seen images of nature from afar, otherwise camouflaged by smog. This pause is revealing to us what’s wrong down to the core’s nub of this world. I’m seeing the greed of man and the kindness of strangers. I’m seeing how seniors in many places are being forgotten with age, but I’m also seeing that the next generation is taking a stand in crime, climate, equality and racism, and convinced it is they who will most-likely be the generation to save the world. I’m seeing despair, but I’m seeing the hope. The purge is on and we are observing and living it.

There’s always upheaval before building anew – first comes the demolition, and from that will rise new beginnings. We are in the moment of the pre-new beginnings. We have one last big chance to keep the movement going for the change to come. The change for last chance to make the world better in every possible way. This is what I see.

As a writer, the isolation part doesn’t affect me because I’m always writing or clicking away on a computer, working best in a solo environment. The only affecting part is going out for groceries and having to wait in a line, 6 feet distanced from the next human, in order to enter, and same procedure to checkout. I abhor grocery shopping in a normal world. Covid19 just exacerbated the issue. I am very much missing human engagement – talking in person, hugging a friend, and seeing a compassionate, genuine smile, not hidden behind a mask.

Cabin Fever

Anxiety exacerbates within.
The pandemic reigns on human life.
We grieve the lost art of living.
While idling in neutral,
We remain suspended,
Awaiting normal,
A new concept.
Lessons taught.
Observe.
Breathe!

©DGKaye

Bio: Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. Kaye writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life and finding the upside from those situations. Her refusal to accept the word No or the phrase I can’t, keep her on the path to positivity. Kaye loves to look for the humor in whatever life can dish out, and when she isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She writes with a rawness and honesty, leaving readers with something to take from her stories.

Social Links:
www.dgkayewriter.com
www.goodreads.com/dgkaye
www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

www.linkedin.com/in/DGKaye7
www.facebook.com/dgkaye

http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Debby and for the wonderful Etheree poem which captures the essence of our times so well.

I’m thrilled that you will be a contributing author in This Is Lockdown – more about that soon!

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Writers In Isolation: Katherine Mezzacappa #Isolation #Writers #Authors#Historical #Fiction

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

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 Katherine Mezzacappa coping with this enforced isolation?


At time of writing, lockdown here in Italy is easing, but I am still wary of emerging into the sunlight. To begin with, it wasn’t isolation per se that was difficult to cope with from a creative point of view, but the fear of all the unknowns around the pandemic – I’ve got a little better at living with them. I had the advantage of having worked from home for years so I was used to not having the routines of a commute and a shared office. However, my job is paused at the moment until later in the year, which meant I had to think about how best to use that time. Time is what writers often complain they don’t have enough of, but when you’re suddenly faced with lots of it, the prospect is daunting, and you feel guilty if you don’t take advantage. I know from my writing network that I’m far from alone in feeling that. I had final edits to do on two books, The Gypsy Bride (Katie Hutton) and The Casanova Papers(Kate Zarrelli) so having the space for them was a boon, though revisiting a book set in Venice when I could see that city on webcams, silent and shuttered, was also heart-breaking. Writing did pick up though, as well as other ‘writery’ activities. I’ve co-presented at a virtual litfest with an old friend from MA days, though we’re thousands of miles apart. I am now an assessor for a writing consultancy and a proofreader for a new Italian publisher. Writing predominantly historical fiction is an advantage in lockdown, as the writer must perforce go in her head into a vanished world, and the less interference from the modern one there is, the better (provided that for research purposes, Google works, and ABEbooks still deliver!). Frustration as a writer lies in not being able to do field visits for future projects – a first world problem, and those places will be waiting for me afterwards. The virtual company of other writers has become more important than ever before. There have been some stellar online opportunities, like the Society of Authors workshops, and the Arvon at Home readings. I hope these persist alongside conventional offerings once the pandemic has passed, as they represent real accessibility and democratisation of the business of writing.

Katherine Mezzacappa is an Irish writer of mainly historical fiction now living in Italy. She also writes as Katie Hutton and as Kate Zarrelli.


Her début historical novel as Katie Hutton, The Gypsy Bride, was published May 2020 on Kindle and Audible by Zaffre Books, with the paperback to follow in June.

A sequel, The Gypsy’s Daughter, is in preparation for June 2021. As Kate Zarrelli, writing for eXtasy Books, she is the author of Tuscan Enchantment (2019) and The Casanova Papers (June 2020). Her short fiction (as Katherine Mezzacappa) has appeared in Ireland’s Own, Erotic Review Magazine, The Copperfield Review, Turnpike, Asymmetry and in anthologies with the Bedford International Writing Competition, Henshaw Press and Severance Publications. She’s a member of the Irish Writers Centre, the Irish Writers Union, the Society of Authors, the Historical Novel Society, the Historical Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists Association. She was awarded a Cill Rialaig residency by the Irish Writers Centre in 2019 for the writing of a Renaissance novel, Giulia of the Albizzi. Katherine regularly reviews for the Historical Novel Society. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing from Canterbury Christ Church University in addition to an MLitt in Eng Lit from Durham and a first degree in History of Art from UEA.


You are never alone with a book; that’s as true now as it was when I was a lonely teenager. Historical fiction allows us to escape into a different world, and without being preachy about it, can help us realise that we’ve been through terrible times before without the advances in healthcare and communication that aid us now. I do not believe that writers of historical fiction should offer nostalgia to their readers – more perhaps a realisation that human beings are often more resilient than they realise.

Author Links:


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gypsy-Bride-Katie-Hutton/dp/1838770259/
https://www.facebook.com/katherinemezzacappafiction/
https://www.facebook.com/katezarrellibooks/
 @katmezzacappa
 @KatieHuttonAut1

Thank you so much to Katherine for being my guest. It is interesting to hear her thoughts from a historical fiction perspective.

It’s been wonderful featuring such a variety of authors and bloggers in this series. All have shared such interesting and perceptive thoughts on lockdown and isolation for writers.

We truly are living in history at the moment. No doubt future generations will reflect on this time period in their studies to come.

I have to agree with Katherine, the human race will find a solution. It will take time but we will get there.

For now, this is the last in this series. Thank you to all that have taken part. I am currently working on my COVID19 diaries, flash fiction and poetry collection which I hope to release soon. And I will also be finalising my YA fantasy The Curse of Time #2 Golden Healer.

More about that soon.

Please comment below, I’m sure Katherine would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well.

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Writers in Isolation – Drew Neary and Ceri Williams – The Clockmaker – #COVID19 #Isolation #Writers Supernatural #Novel #Series

Photo by Brigitte Tohm from Pexels

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 are Ceri and Drew coping with this enforced isolation?

Hello everyone!

We are Ceri Williams and Drew Neary and we co-write supernatural thrillers. Our first book “The Clockmaker” is a novel set just after WW2. There is a third member of our team – our illustrator Priscila Arandez who produces our cover art.


Our second novel “The Perfect Child,” will be released some time after
COVID-19 finally releases us from it’s grip.

Drew:

The biggest difference to my day in lockdown, is that my children are now at home 24/7. As a parent this offers a lot of challenges but also opportunities. Firstly, the children have to be kept safe, schooled and given plenty of exercise time. I found that establishing a routine really helped–so we do our schooling, then it’s exercise time- usually a walk in the sunshine to somewhere green and leafy. After that we have free time where the children usually play and I get some writing done. Then it’s evening
mealtime and we sit down and watch a DVD, play a board game etc.


I always carry a pen and note pad or my Dictaphone with me during the day. So when moments of inspiration strike, I can record them for later use and they are not lost nor fade from memory. So far, even though my writing time has drastically reduced, it’s been quite an enjoyable, positive experience.


There are so many hours in the day, so the writing has to be reduced – but it’s always there, on a smaller scale bubbling away in the mind, being recorded, kept in pockets for a later day.


As co-writers, the major downside of lock down is no face – to – face meetings. This, I really miss, but we have to be sensible and follow the guidelines, so it just means more chats on the phone and on Facebook.


Ceri


I am less disciplined than Drew and only write when the muse occurs. It is harder now that we are apart as writers, but we send each other pieces of writing and that often kick starts my own writing process. I am solitary by nature and so these weeks of isolation aren’t unusual. But lack of choice to go out, see friends and especially loved ones has been very hard for me, as it has for millions globally.

Us:


We greatly miss our author visits to shops, libraries and book clubs. Not only is it a chance to promote and sell our book, but we are very sociable people and it’s fantastic to meet and engage with fellow readers and book fans.


There is no real way around this current situation as authors promoting their work. Social media of course-Twitter, Face book etc, are all tools to promote, meet new people and talk but for me it’s just not quite the same as meeting people in person.
One of the questions we are often asked on our visits or interviews, is how do you co-write? Is it difficult? Is there conflict? Oddly, it is a very smooth process based on respect for each other’s ideas and individual styles of writing.


We both write either independently (and prior to this lockdown) together. Then amalgamate, discuss next steps and repeat the process.

Ceri is brutal with the editing which happens primarily when we are both
satisfied that the story is all down.

So at the end of the day, lock down has put us all into our little personal
bubbles.

The Clockmaker is the first in an upcoming series of gripping supernatural books by Nottingham based Ceri Williams and Drew Neary.

Widowed in World War 2, Annette and her young son face a completely different life as they exchange the devastation of post-blitz London for the slow pace of a small village. The house they have inherited is old, its bones still settling, creaking noises in the dead of night and the murmur of scritch-scritch in the walls. Located outside the village of Lochnagar, it’s been empty for many years. 

The unfolding of how the Clockmaker made his plans, his meticulous preparations and macabre creations, all builds up to a series of gruesome, horrific murders. These have just one end in view: his release from that which has held him captive for centuries. 

The Clockmaker is a character in the much larger Novel – Optics. When we put some extracts on our website, we received acclaim, and requests to develop the minor characters further. That was when The Clockmaker was born,” comment debut authors Ceri and Drew. The authors are currently arranging a series of book launches around the local area and have engaged various local writing groups with their debut. 

A chilling supernatural novel with characters you’ll come to care for, The Clockmaker will interest anyone who fears the dark – and what might lie in the shadows… DREW NEARY became interested in history, science fiction/fantasy and conspiracy theories in his teenage years. This prompted him to write short stories over the years. He is also a fan of tabletop gaming.

CERI WILLIAMs has always loved language, and after a 5 year stint in advertising and journalism, now writes supernatural horror and fantasy.

The Clockmaker is their first book and forms part of an upcoming series. PUBLICATION DATE 28th May 2018 ISBN: 9781788034586 Price: £8.99 

A few of our reviews for The Clockmaker


I enjoyed this book. It has some Gothic, is a bit historical, has some
supernatural and a touch of horror. This is not a gore book but a clever
unravelling of a story where the human characters are not the most
unnerving.


“It was brilliantly written with a selection of both historic and
atmospherically creepy terms, and the conclusion was both surprising
and satisfying to the tale as a whole. A great Gothic thriller.”

“There’s nothing I can say about this book apart from Brilliant. Great story very well written with characters the reader cares about. Read it.”


“An amazing Gothic thriller set in the Scottish Highlands with cinematic
type prose that hooked from the beginning. One of the most well-
written books I’ve read in a while.”


“Absolutely loved this book, the writing is beautiful, like poetry
sometimes. Thought the story very gripping. A little bit dark and a little
horror would recommend this to anyone who loves books and good
writing. “


Atmospheric and chilling!
“If you like creepy, supernatural horror, this is the book for you.
Brilliantly alarming; kept me awake half the night! Well written, great
settings, absorbing themes and characters. “


The writing was exceptional, the characters alive and real, the Clockmaker terrifying. I found it hard to put down, A Gothic thriller that will keep you awake at night! Wonderful characters and setting and a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat.


Beautiful yet insanely creepy.
First of all, this book is very well written. The prose and the descriptions of London, war-ravaged Berlin, and most impressively Scotland, all created a beautiful aura that had a slow-burning undercurrent of horror beneath it. It takes a little while to figure out just what type of creature the villain is, but the authors left little clues throughout the early pages to create suspense. This is part historical and part something else. It’s a wonderful read.

https://www.instagram.com/ceriw1497/

Thank you so much to Drew and Ceri for being my guests.

Well, I’m intrigued by the sound of The Clockmaker and the apparent effortless of the teamwork involved. Now let me see, I have a thing about clocks…. and I love the supernatural… I do enjoy a novel set in WW2…

I’m sure you enjoyed this interesting blog post too. Do comment below I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Clockmaker.

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Isolation for Writers – Guest post: Miriam Owen #COV1D19 #Isolation #Bloggers #Books #Blogging

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 Miriam coping with this enforced isolation?

Book blogging in the time of Covid 19

Lockdown – Week 4. In the time it took me to open a Word document to write the title of this piece and prepare to begin writing I received a message that a friend had passed away in London. They didn’t pass from Covid 19 but cancer. I had interacted with this person online 2 days previously but hadn’t seen them face to face for 6 years. Online they were looking good and sounding cheerful. Their passing hit me hard. Probably harder than it may have done normally because I had more time to think about it, read messages about them online and more time to cry. I reflected as death always makes us do. I felt strongly that life cannot be lived online only as we do not understand or portray the whole picture online.


My research also forces me to be reflective. It is indeed a requirement in my area. In wider terms I need to reflect upon how this current situation changes the way that we as readers interact with the book market. As a reader, blogger and an academic I have been reflecting upon the cancellations of hundreds of book events, book festivals and book launches. All these things that bring the reading community together. The specific context of my research is book bloggers and their interactions within the book world. I was due to travel to some of these events to observe, interview, film and study book bloggers. All these activities are now cancelled. I find myself specifically reflecting upon the role of the book blogger in these lockdown days.

Has their role changed? Do online events fulfill the same need in readers (and specifically bloggers) as live events do. Are people reading more book blogs? Does a blog tour take on more importance if there is not an actual physical book launch? I would love to hear what people think about this.


I have been a blogger for nearly 8 years now. Do I feel any different about my blogging activity under lockdown? I don’t really, not in a general way. The reviews I have promised to write remain. The desire to blog is still there. What has changed? I have had the time to do a long overdue tidy of my bookcases which has allowed me to ask myself questions as I unearth books I had forgotten about. Why didn’t I write about this or why haven’t I read that? The quiet space to read and write has changed under lockdown. My two young children are now around me all the time and need to be schooled. I am exhausted from home schooling, watching the news and being needed by my family. Bedtime is now the only time for reading (if I can stay awake) and if I am lucky I can read a few snatched pages upon waking up on weekend mornings. My writing space is now the school table, when it isn’t the breakfast, lunch and dinner table or the jigsaw puzzle space. Instead of picking and choosing what to blog about I ask myself what can I do to help in my community? I feel terrible for all the publishers and authors who have worked towards book launches at this time. I feel bad for the writers who have already spent so much time on their own and had meet ups planned as I know the planned social time is important for them. I contact some of them that I know with offers to write about their projects. I offer to organise a blog tour for a festival that I go to every year. I send books and DVDs to friends. I speak to more people in private messages to make sure they are okay. In my case all these things are interwoven with relationships which have been grown online but have been solidified in person at book events, over coffee and in face to face conversations. Everybody’s experience of blogging is different but for me I love being part of a community. Going to book events is like a renewal of vows, it enthuses me to go on blogging, reminds me why I do it, makes me feel part of something exciting and significant.


Some festivals are moving to online events. Some under their own branding whilst others are becoming involved in kind of umbrella online events where their event becomes part of something larger and less specific. Some have had offers to slot specific events into festivals which are happening (they hope) later in the year. Some authors have taken to being creative themselves and doing pieces for their own social media. You Tube seems to be useful – book illustrators seem to be flourishing in the online visual culture. Musicians too.The first few weeks I thought this is great, all this will help me through these dark days. I usually cannot get enough of the arts and really craved online events when I could not get to things because of family commitments. Now that we are in week 4 of lockdown I find it all washing over me as I drown in online events that I cannot keep up with. I am craving eye contact, the smell of new books, handshakes, group laughter, group applause, group tears and deep, important discussions where I see and feel people express themselves. I know there are people busting a gut to get things online lest they be forgotten about but to me as an individual it seems not to hit the spot somehow. Perhaps there is too much online in my life now. Work online, school online, shop online, sell online, browse online, communicate online, listen online. It is all too much and for me it does not feel like a satisfying a substitute for the real thing. The travel, the human contact or feeling the buzz that makes events so exciting is part of what inspires me to keep blogging.


I can appreciate that some people will enjoy what is happening. In academic circles I often see academics ask why do we need to go to conferences? All the introverts say we can do this online, save the planet, still get our point across and I am screaming no! I need to see people, feel their energy, enjoy learning about somewhere new, I like my dedicated conference time and space to reflect on what I am hearing. The same goes for my blogging and book time. The reading/writing community is an amazing thing in general, online and offline. In my experience with the crime fiction genre the community is positive, down to earth, well documented, well organised, supportive and adaptable. It is one of the reasons that I undertook this piece of academic research. There is passion, motivation, kindness and knowledge. Festivals are important. We meet, talk, drink, solve the world’s problems, learn and relax. I miss them like I miss an old friend because they help me to understand, get a clearer picture of what is going on and solidify something important in life. So far Covid 19 has allowed me a pause. Within that pause sits time to think about so many actions including the action of blogging. Have you been reflecting too?

Miriam Owen is a blogger and doctoral researcher in Marketing at Strathclyde University.

If you have any opinions about book blogging she would love to hear from you at miriam.owen@strath.ac.uk

Thanks to Marjorie for hosting this piece in her Covid series.
Miriam’s blogs are: nordicnoirblog.wordpress.com and walkingbassbuzz.wordpress.com

Thank you Miriam for being my guest. I am so sorry to hear the sad news about your friend. Sending my deepest condolences.

I wish that things could be different. I wish that COVID19 had never happened. I miss meeting my writing and blogging friends in person and attending festivals, particularly the Edinburgh International Festival and Book Festival. But I am so glad that I started this feature – it has been rewarding and given me a focus on something other than COVID19.

I am enjoying all of the articles submitted to me and they have all been so different!

It is by no means easy to cope with this time in our lives. We must try to be patient, whilst we keep on reading, writing and sharing our love of the written word.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

It is a joy to connect with the writing and blogging community.

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COVID Diaries 4th May – 6th May #Family #Diaries #COVID19 #Coronavirus #Writing #Blogging #Fashion #Guest #Features

Time to catch up on my COVID Diaries… I’ve been very busy of late finishing edits on my second book in my series The Curse of Time Book 2 Golden Healer. They are now finished and I am pleased to say I have now passed my manuscript on to Heena Rathmore Pardeshi https://crazycatwriter.com/ for a critique and proofread service.

So, let’s go back in time…

4th May

I slept badly the night before so I’m feeling tired. My eldest daughter Tasha and I still did our workout session but it was a gentle one. We both thought it would suit a granny! Which is just as well…We finished it off by doing some yoga.

I tidied my office and did some editing of the second book in my Curse of Time series. Later, my hubby and I went to the supermarket. My friend Hanna was in the queue too, so we stopped to chat to each other – following the social distancing rules – of course. You can’t exactly talk quietly due to the distance imposed, so I shouted across the queue about the fire…

What fire?

IVC is the local secondary school that my kids went to. Apparently, a skip lit and the fire spread to the roof of the performing arts block. Strange, sounds like arson to me. A friend of my daughter heard two large explosions, they thought it was an earthquake, or something. Everyone is so on edge at the moment that any loud bangs, or noises would be enough to trigger an attack of the nerves.

I wonder how the fire happened?

Getting back to the shopping trip with hubby. Whilst inside…

We argued down the aisles, in a feisty banter kind of way and I saw one of the local mum’s smirking at us.

Our shopping trip was so distracting. Both hubby and I bought four packs of onions, so we’ve got lots of onions to eat!

Next time I’m going on my own! Hubby’s idea of shopping consists of ample supplies of alcohol, and no treats apart from one bar of chocolate! How to survive lockdown with no crisps, nuts… Mind you, judging by our horrendous food bill perhaps we should start a starvation diet.

Oh, and I had a couple of guests in my Isolation for Writers Series:

First up was Jeannie Wycherley:

https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/03/isolation-for-writers-guest-author-jeannie-wycherley-guest-author-isolation-collaboration-thoughts-family-cov19/

And then Chantelle Atkins: https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/04/isolation-for-writers-chantelle-atkins-isolation-writers-covid19-ya-author/

5th May

It’s been a funny day. Aren’t they all? I finally cleared out my office. I am such a hoarder! I found things stuffed behind things that I didn’t even know were there. Nevertheless, it was interesting. We discovered three large bags of old photos and an airmail letter from my dad when he’d been working abroad in Swaziland. My eldest daughter Natasha has never seen an airmail letter before! What a lovely find. His writing was atrocious though. What a job I had reading it. Basically, it was to congratulate me on the birth of baby Georgina! And to send his love and well wishes to hubby’s dad who was ill at that time. Sadly, hubby’s dad passed away shortly after that letter was sent and Grandpa James never got a chance to see his new grand-daughter in person, which is especially sad as he always wanted lots of grand-children.

Also, I came across an old newspaper cutting of Tasha when she was three years old with her Grandma (my mum, who must have been about my age at that time,) at a hospice event.

How young my mum looked. Time flies by too fast.

I also found some old photos of hubby and I when we were young! That was funny, me draped all over him looking loved up… There was one of me wearing a leopard skin crop top and tight matching leggings. We were going to a fancy dress party. Memories, yes, it was a day of memories.

Other than that we did our gym session in the garden around 11am. Me, and the girls, and then we had lunch afterwards.

Hubby decided to climb up a ladder to sand the outside windows for painting. This made me very nervous as he’s so high up. He decided to wear his bike helmet for protection but at that height if he fell…

At one point, I went upstairs to pass him the sander and I saw this wasp on the window ledge. I was too frightened to tell him it was there in case he fell off the ladder. Later, I realised the wasp was dead!

Then Gina had an almighty melt down brought on by us all making so much noise whilst she’s completing her university assignments. Hubby was making this annoying sound with his sander, or yelling at me to get him something he needed. What a job I had calming her down. She said she wanted to go back to Manchester. No chance of that – no one can go anywhere. So, I suggested we sit in the car for a while. She brought her laptop and we looked at it together, with tears in her eyes. Bless her. Then hubby came out, looking at us as if we were bonkers. He asked why we were sitting in the car! I explained about the noise and he said he’d finish for the day. Thank goodness it’s quiet now. Phew, it’s just as well I used to be a therapist. Sometimes, I need to be to calm this lot down…

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. I hope it is a bit calmer…

6th May.

I had a terrible night’s sleep. Stress of yesterday? Perhaps it was also exacerbated by hubby teasing, saying that he was leaving the long ladder by our bedroom window for a thief, or Romeo to come in. I woke at 3.30am. I thought I heard someone climbing up the ladder. No doubt it was just my imagination! One of the hazards of being a writer is you always imagine the craziest things. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I crept out of bed and started blogging – as you do!

By the time hubby was up, I’d had enough, so I went back to bed and managed a couple of hours sleep before Tasha came looking for me. I didn’t join in with a keep fit, or yoga workout today, or take part in Writing Sprints. Shame. Instead, I edited some of the Curse of Time, beta read and finished a poetry collection for Sarah Northwood, Poetry for The Heart and Soul which I loved. Here is the link to her beta reading group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/877149636124566/

As well, I started working on a blog post about my daughter Georgina’s fashion/social media profile.

Which you can see here: https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/09/photography-shoot-daughter-fashion-business-student-modelling-clothes-hair-accessories-makeup-lashes/

Georgina seemed a lot more cheery today. She was all dressed up, make up on and had made excellent progress on her assignment. She even mentioned that it wasn’t as hard as she originally thought! Kids, hey… They give you such grief and then say everything is okay…

Oh, and Tasha and I sneaked out for a ride in the car. What an adventure! We didn’t go too far but it was nice to see neighbouring villages.

What have you been doing during this difficult time. Please share in the comments.

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