Saturday, 18 July 2015

New cover for State of Grace

And not only for State of Grace - the other two books in the Resurrection series have been treated to new covers too. But the hunky man on the original stays the same. I couldn't possibly have gotten rid of him!

And I've got the lovely Annme Spiby to thank for the new jackets. What a fantastic lady! She also did this flyer.




(Shh, don't tell anyone, but there is a reason for the facelift. So many readers have contacted me asking if there will be another novel in the series. I hadn't planned on it - I honestly thought my work here was done - but then I got to thinking, and...  Anyway, it won't be this year because I'm half way through another paranormal romance but Grace and Roman may well make a reappearance next year.)

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Cover change - opinions needed


I'm planning on changing the background to my novel, State of Grace. It's part of a trilogy and I use the same model in each, so I don't want to get rid of him (anyway, he's HOT!!), but the current background is boring. Really boring.
It's a paranormal romance, and the guy on the cover is a vampire. Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated. Please bear in mind that these are just ideas, and the finished product will be done professionally. The first picture - the one with the plain brown background is the one I'm using at the moment.






Saturday, 11 July 2015

Recipe for Welsh Cawl (lamb stew)

Cawl is a traditional Welsh stew and depending on your location in Wales, cawl will be made in many ways.  If you are inland or up in the hills you will get served lamb or mutton cawl where as on the coast you will get seafood cawl. Here is a recipe for a traditional lamb cawl.


Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 6 x small lamb shanks (Welsh lamb if you can get it)
  • 1.2L/2pts water
  • 225g/8oz potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 225g/8oz swede, peeled and diced
  • 225g/8oz onion, peeled and chopped
  • 225g/8oz carrots, peeled and diced
  • 225g/8oz leek, cleaned and sliced thin
  • A bunch of herbs: Bay, thyme, rosemary and parsley
  • 2tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan, season the lamb shanks add to the pan together with the onion and brown all over (you may have to do this in batches if your pan is not large enough. Pour over the water and add the bunch of herbs. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes. Add all the vegetables, bring up to the boil again, reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 40 minutes, then serve with fresh crusty bread.
During cooking the stock will reduce somewhat, so top up with more water, or some wine. You may also wish to add pulses such as lentils, or beans, pearl barley is also good during the winter months.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Welsh folk tales - Gelert

Prince Llywelyn of Gwynedd's favourite dog is Gelert, a fearless hunting dog and loyal friend and companion who was said to have been a gift from King John of England.

Llywelyn leaves his baby son with a nurse and a servant while he embarks on a hunting trip with his wife. The nurse and the servant go for a walk in the mountains leaving the baby alone and unprotected. After a while Llywelyn notices that Gelert isn't with the hunting pack. Reasoning that the only place Gelert would go is back to the lodge, he calls off the hunt and heads back home.
As the party is dismounting, Gelert comes running out of the lodge towards his master, covered in blood and wagging his tail. The princess, calling her child's name, faints. Llewelyn rushes in to find the cradle overturned, the bloodstained bedclothes thrown all over the floor, and no sign of his son.
Filled with anger and grief he draws his sword against the dog. As Gelert dies, he whimpers and his cries are answered by the sound of a baby crying from behind the overturned cradle. Llewelyn pulls aside the cradle to find his son unharmed and the bloody body of a huge wolf next to him. Gelert had killed the wolf as it tried to attack Llewelyn's son.
From that day onwards Llewelyn never speaks again. Filled with remorse, he buries Gelert in a meadow nearby and marks the grave with a cairn of stones, though he could still hear its dying cries.
The village of Beddgelert (Gelert's grave) in North West Wales is thought to owe its name to the legend, although there is no evidence of the story having a historical basis.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Too many cooks...

You know the rest!



My first four novels were written straight from the heart, with no real reflection involved until they came back from my beta readers. Hell, I didn't even know what a beta reader was when I wrote my first one (and second), so I had hardly any input from anyone until my little darlings were ready to fly. I trusted my instincts and for the most part my betas were happy with what I produced.

Then I write my fifth novel, and just as I'm starting it I come across Scribophile. And what a fantastic group of writers they are! They've made me a better and more thoughtful writer, and I can't thank those of them who critiqued my rabid scribblings enough.

But now, like a child with the bike stabilisers removed, I need to let go and trust my instincts again. I'm starting to lose my way and my focus by trying to please everyone. I'm getting sucked into revisions of early chapters before I've gotten even half the book written. One person loves a particular scene, someone else has a constructive comment. Which is all well and good until yet a third person has a different comment about the same scene, and I end up chasing my tail trying to do the rewrites and it becomes a mish-mash of everyone else and nothing of me.

So what I'm saying is, join a writing circle, let others help you with the process, but don't lose sight of the bigger picture - your story.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Welsh National Anthem





The Welsh National Anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of my Fathers), is amongst the finest anthems of the world and a song steeped in history. It was written by Evan James and his son James, two modest tradesmen living at Pontypridd in the mid nineteenth century. Every time I hear it I get goosebumps!

Here's a YouTube link if you want to listen to it...

http://buff.ly/1HXXQbf

And here are the words in Welsh if you want to sing along. English translations vary, but I quite like this one. And there's a phonetic version at the bottom of the page 

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr* tra mad,
Tros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.

Cytgan:
Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad,
Tra môr yn fur
I'r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.

2. Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i'm golwg sydd hardd;
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i mi.

Cytgan:

3. Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad dan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Gymry mor fyw ag erioed,
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.

Cytgan:
O land of my fathers, O land of my love,
Dear mother of minstrels who kindle and move,
And hero on hero, who at honour's proud call,
For freedom their lifeblood let fall.

Chorus:
Wales! Wales! O but my heart is with you!
And long as the sea
Your bulwark shall be,
To Cymru my heart shall be true.

2. O land of the mountains, the bard's paradise,
Whose precipice, valleys lone as the skies,
Green murmuring forest, far echoing flood
Fire the fancy and quicken the blood.

Chorus:

3. For tho' the fierce foeman has ravaged your realm,
The old speech of Cymru he cannot o'erwhelm,
Our passionate poets to silence command
Or banish the harp from your strand.

Chorus:


Having trouble getting your tonsils round the Welsh words? Try the phonetic version instead!

My hair-n wool-add ver n-had eye
Un ann-will ee me
Gool-ard buy-rth ah chant-or-yon
En-wog-yon oh vree
Eye goo-rol ruv-elle-weir
Gool-ard garr-weir trah-mahd
Tross ruh-thid coll-ass-ant eye gwide

Gool-ard, gool-ard
Ply-dee-ol oiv eem gool-ard
Trah more un veer eer bee-rr hore-ff buy
Oh buthed eer hen-yithe barr-high

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Recipe for Bara Brith

Sorry I've been away for a while, but I've been concentrating on publishing my latest novel, The Medium Path, and doing research for my new manuscript. Visiting various places in order to further my research (strictly necessary, of course!) has made me realise anew what a beautiful country I live in, and how rich the history and culture is. So, I'm on a one-woman crusade to put my lovely country on the map and celebrate my Welshness, so I thought I'd share a recipe with you.

And I promise not to be so lax in the future!



Bara Brith translates to ‘speckled bread’ and is a rich fruit loaf made with tea.Yes - tea! Produced all over Wales, the spiced fruit loaf is delicious when spread with salted Welsh butter.

Ingredients
  • 450G/1lb self raising flour
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 175g/6oz Muscavado sugar
  • 1 medium size free-range egg
  • 1tbsp orange zest
  • 2tbsp orange juice
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 300ml/½pt cold tea
  • 450g/1lb mixed, dried fruit
  • Extra honey for glazing
Method

Put the mixed dried fruit into a mixing bowl, pour over the tea, cover and leave to soak overnight. The next day mix together the sugar, egg, orange juice, zest and honey, add to the fruit. Sift in the flour and spice, and mix well. Pour the mixture into a buttered loaf tin, 1.2L/2pt. Bake in a preheated oven at gas3/160c/325f for about 1¾ hours. The loaf should be golden in colour and firm to the touch in the middle. Baste with honey whilst still warm. Allow to cool thoroughly before storing in a cake tin.

The recipe can be altered by adding a few flavours. When soaking the fruit, substitute ¼ of the fluid with a whisky liqueur. Replace the honey and fruit juice with 2 tablespoons of marmalade. Alternatively, replace two tablespoons of fruit with chopped stem ginger, and replace the juice and honey with lemon marmalade, and the orange zest with lemon.