#ThrowbackThursday ~ Leap The Wild Water by Jenny Lloyd #Histfic #BookReview

Many thanks to @CathyRy for this reminder of my first novel, Leap the Wild Water, the writing of which was an absolute joy and will stay with me forever…

Between the Lines ~ Books’n’Stuff

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

This week I’m revisiting Leap The Wild Water, a debut and the first book in a historical fiction trilogy, published in 2013.

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A Hundred Tiny Threads.

Today, I am delighted to have my fellow author, Judith Barrow, as a guest on my blog. Judith’s new book, A Hundred Tiny Threads, has just been published. It is a prequel to her historical family saga, and I’m sure it will gain her many new fans. So that you can get to know her a little better, I’ve invited her to this interview.

judith, showboat2 

Welcome, Judith. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Although I was born and brought up in a small village on the edge of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire, for the last forty years I’ve lived with my husband and family near the coast in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK, a gloriously beautiful place. I have an MA in Creative Writing, B.A. (Hons.) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing.  I am also a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council’s Lifelong Learning Programme and give talks and run workshops on all genres.

Along with friend and fellow author, Thorne Moore, I also organise a book fair in September. This year we’ve changed venues. Here’s the link that tells all!! Narberth Book Fair. http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/index.html

You are one busy lady! Have you always written?

I have. I’ve had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles. But only started to seriously write novels after I’d had breast cancer twenty years ago. I had the first of my trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, published in 2010 by Honno (honno.co.uk), the sequel, Changing Patterns, in 2013 and the last, Living in the Shadows in 2015. The prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads, has just been published in August.  I thought the characters would leave me alone but it’s not to be; eight minor characters have been clamouring to be heard so I wrote some short stories about them in an anthology, Secrets. Now at least two of them want to be in a novel.

pattern of shadows

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Half finished; dozens that I know won’t go anywhere but I keep to use some parts that read okay that I can re-write and use somewhere else. Finished? Six adult novels, two children’s middle grade books and four picture books. Oh, and an anthology of poetry… mainly bad poetry, I think.

That’s a lot of writing experience under your belt! What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Actually, I haven’t had many problems with that and I don’t know why. Except that most of my characters have been in my head for the last ten years and they talk to me. And I talk to them (yes, I do get funny looks in shops and other places) I think it’s just a case of walking in their shoes.

Lancashire Mill Town

Yes, those characters really do take over, don’t they?! What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I have huge files of each era I write about on the shelves in my study. It’s important to me to of that time, the world situation, what was in the news. On a more prosaic level, it’s the kinds of houses, furniture, fashions, hairstyles, children’s’ toys and games played, music and films, radio or television programmes depending on the times, even the weather if I have a scene where I’ve also put the dates in a certain chapter. The list is endless and time consuming. But necessary, I think.

There again I have an irritating habit of researching something and coming across facts I didn’t know about and having to find out about those. Before I know it I’ve gone off at a tangent and wasted hours.

I know what you mean. I’ve discovered so many things I’d never have known about because of those tangents! How do you select the names of your characters?

I’ve gone through the generations of my family and worked my way through my husband’s past family. Or I remember someone I once knew and liked the name. In the prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads, though, I looked up Irish names and chose those I thought fitted to the characters.

I love books with an Irish connection. What was your hardest scene to write?

I wrote a rape scene; it actually was a personal account.

That was courageous of you. The most difficult scenes to write, I think, are those which draw on distressing, personal memories, but writing from the heart produces the best writing.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Both; if I’m on a roll the adrenalin keeps me going.  But if I’m stuck or plodding through a certain scene that I know really doesn’t work and I’m going to have to alter, I’m drained. Then I try to leave that section and work on editing other parts of the book. That usually boosts me again.

living in the shadows

I love your book covers, by the way. They make me nostalgic for that era!

What would be the advice you would give to your younger writing self?

Have confidence, believe in yourself. And leave home when you’re sixteen and see the world.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Good grief, I’ve not thought about that… hmm. Okay, the first image that popped into my head was a long white feather. Wonder why that happened?  Spirit animal? That would actually be a black swan; I love swans, white or black; the idea of them paddling away under the water yet looking serene is an image I like to think could be me (well, I can hope!). But a black swan it is; there’s something quite royally mysterious about them.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Gaining my degree and then my Masters in my forties.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

By choice I would make unusual novelty cakes; I did that for years as a part time job from home but it became economically unviable because people don’t want to pay the price of the hours put in when they can buy ones from the supermarkets at half the price.  Or I’d teach swimming; I qualified years ago when the children were in a swimming club. I taught both children and adults; loved it.

Has there been any author’s work you disliked at first but grew into?

No, I’m afraid not. If I haven’t like an author’s work the first time, I tend to move on. If I like an author’s work I’ll follow then and read anything they write.

Me, too! What is the first book that made you cry?

Black Beauty. I wouldn’t mind but I was, and still am, terrified of horses. And I do know that’s stupid but, when I was six, I was walking with my parents through a field and a horse chased us. Climbing over a stile to escape, my skirt got caught on the top of it and I completely panicked. My mother told me a week later that the horse had chased and bitten someone else. Whether that was true or not, I had nightmares about running and getting stuck for ages afterwards.

I’m not surprised you are terrified of them after an experience like that! What do you think is the best way to market your books?

I wish I knew. However, even though it’s not the most efficient way, my favourite is giving talks and book signings. It was terrifying at first but I soon realised people just want to be entertained. And smiling a lot helps. (I usually pick out the grumpiest looking person and keep smiling at them until they break!!)

Love your style! Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I’m just glad when I get a review; the good ones make my day, the more critical ones I tend to think about, learn from, or discard. If I had a review from the number of people who tell me they’ll write one, they’d be in their hundreds on each of my novels. Or even from the readers who make a point of coming to me at events and tell me how much they enjoyed them. I think the problem is that people think they have to write something flowery or erudite. Just a “liked this book” would suit me fine… and I’d be most grateful.

Yes, I think many readers are genuinely nervous of writing reviews for the reasons you say. It’s a shame because reviews are so valuable to writers. Would you give us the links where we can find you?

Surely, and thanks for hosting me today, Jenny.

It’s been my pleasure, Judith, and I wish you every success.

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You can follow Judith and find her wonderful books via the links below;

Bloghttps://judithbarrowblog.com/
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6
Twitter: https://twitter.com/barrow_judith
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Judith-Barrow-327003387381656/
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/judithbarrow/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+JudithBarrowauthor
Linkedin : https://www.linkedin.com/in/judith-anne-barrow-02812b11/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A solitary wanderer upon the Epynt mountain.

Puddles of sunlight on bare-bleached scatterings of harvested fields…

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Rich red-brown fields turned upside-down by farmer’s plough…

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Sheep spattered fields and slopes, Llanafan’s hills dappled by cloud-shadows. Country lanes winding lazily from farms to village and away, again, over the rises and falls of the rolling landscape to distant mountains, lush with green bracken, where Garnwen cwtches in Drygarn’s lap…

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Tormentil beneath me, steep gorges on either side. Above my head, the skylarks singing their songs of joy…

dig

Today, I am free, to wander without purpose or cause…

Breezes stir the mountain grasses from their slumbers, and they whisper to me of things I cannot understand or know, of the great wisdom of the earth that lies just beyond my reach.

Jenny Lloyd is the Welsh author of The Megan Jones trilogy; historical novels set in early, 19th century, rural Wales.

Leap the Wild Water new book cover meadow     The Calling of the Raven updated book cover     Anywhere the Wind Blows Book Cover - jpg

You can read about the books or purchase them by clicking on the links below.

Leap the Wild Water: http://ow.ly/jEoi302jXkd

The Calling of the Raven: http://ow.ly/4uRO302jXmd

Anywhere the Wind Blows: http://ow.ly/73tq302Ov71

You can also follow the author:

Twitter; https://twitter.com/jennyoldhouse

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/jennylloydauthor

Pinterest; http://www.pinterest.com/jennyoldhouse

 

On this day in 1853. #Wales #history

On the evening of the 9th July, 1853, the residents of the Duhonw valley of our local Epynt mountain had no idea of the terrifying events which were about to unfold.

On the banks of the Duhonw brook stood a little cottage called Dolfach. A Mrs Lawrence lived there with her daughter and two grandchildren, and a maidservant. Mrs Lawrence farmed 25 acres around the cottage. A 164 years ago, it would have been a simple life, keeping a few sheep, and a cow perhaps, eking out a small living in this tranquil, idyllic location.

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Location of the former cottage of Dolfach

The weather on that day had been heavy and sultry with dark thunder clouds bubbling up over Builth – not unusual at this time of year…

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View of the Epynt mountain from my house, this morning, 9th July. The Duhonw valley lies on the other side of the Epynt.

On the night of July 9th, a storm began in the little village of Penybont in Radnorshire and worked its way south. The heavens opened and a deluge of rain fell over Builth, followed by hail-showers which left a covering of hail some four inches deep. Thunder, sheet-lighting and fork lightening illuminated the Epynt as the storm increased.

Then came a cloudburst as had never been seen before and a waterspout fell on the Epynt mountain. Such was the volume of water that fell in a short time that the Duhonw brook became a raging torrent. While the inhabitants of the cottage slept, the fork in the Duhonw brook above the cottage became jammed by the large boulders and trees which had been uprooted by the volume of rainwater and carried downstream. The raging torrent was now forced down a narrow channel towards the little cottage.

Further up the valley stood Dolau-newydd mill worked by a Mr Thomas Evans. In the flood, part of the mill was swept away and the floodwater rose so high that Mr Thomas urged his family upstairs. As the floodwater rose ever higher, he and his family were forced to seek refuge in the attic while Mr Evans frantically began cutting a hole in the roof through which his family escaped onto the roof.

Back at Dolfach, a cottager living on the opposite side of the brook witnessed what happened next. He’d been stirred from his sleep by the noise and discovered that rainwater was flooding his home. Looking out, he saw that the kitchen and outbuildings of Dolfach had already been swept away. As he watched, powerless to help, he saw water gushing through the upper windows of his neighbour’s cottage. The scene must have been one that nightmares are made of as he then saw two trees come crashing down with the water, into the back of the cottage. Before his eyes, the cottage crumbled and the debris and inhabitants carried away by the ferocious torrent.

The dawn of the next day was to reveal the extent of the devastation all down the Duhonw valley. A total of 18 bridges were destroyed by the floodwater. Along with the bridges destroyed, chasms had been torn in roads and the farms on the hillsides and further down the valley turned to mud, their crops destroyed.

Poor Mrs Lawrence’s body was found the next day, 18 miles away down the river Wye along with furniture, trees and debris from her cottage. She was still dressed in her nightclothes. The bodies of her daughter, grandchildren and maidservant were discovered some days later, near Builth. Her grandson had only time to put on his trousers, her granddaughter was still wearing her nightdress but had managed to put on one boot, and the maidservant’s body was found clutching a blanket – all signs that they were about to make some attempt at escape before they were swept away.

Now, as then, we are powerless in the face of freak weather. When I go to my bed tonight, I shall give a thought to those poor people destroyed by the ‘Epynt Waterspout’.

Jenny Lloyd is the Welsh author of The Megan Jones trilogy; historical novels set in early, 19th century, rural Wales.

Leap the Wild Water new book cover meadow     The Calling of the Raven updated book cover     Anywhere the Wind Blows Book Cover - jpg

You can read about the books or purchase them by clicking on the links below.

Leap the Wild Water: http://ow.ly/jEoi302jXkd

The Calling of the Raven: http://ow.ly/4uRO302jXmd

Anywhere the Wind Blows: http://ow.ly/73tq302Ov71

You can also follow the author:

Twitter; https://twitter.com/jennyoldhouse

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/jennylloydauthor

Pinterest; http://www.pinterest.com/jennyoldhouse

 

Running with the wind.

Running with the wind.

Take my hand with your back to the wind that would sweep you from your feet if it could. Watch with me as the swallows swoop and the buzzard rides the air-waves. See how they go with the flow and don’t fight against that which cannot be fought. Take my hand and we’ll run with the wind as if we were never broken.

Yes, take my hand and I’ll lead you there where broken hearts are healed and sealed, for there it is the skylarks rise and fall to rise again. And they’ll sing to you as they sing to me  of hope and eternal promise; that out of sadness joy can rise, again, and again, and again.

 

Jenny Lloyd is the Welsh author of The Megan Jones trilogy; historical novels set in early, 19th century, rural Wales.

Leap the Wild Water new book cover meadow     The Calling of the Raven updated book cover     Anywhere the Wind Blows Book Cover - jpg

You can read about the books or purchase them by clicking on the links below.

Leap the Wild Water: http://ow.ly/jEoi302jXkd

The Calling of the Raven: http://ow.ly/4uRO302jXmd

Anywhere the Wind Blows: http://ow.ly/73tq302Ov71

You can also follow the author:

Twitter; https://twitter.com/jennyoldhouse

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/jennylloydauthor

Pinterest; http://www.pinterest.com/jennyoldhouse

Now she is gone.

Now She is Gone.

Be fair, she never promised you roses or lazy days, romancing in the sun.
That was the thing about her, she never made promises she knew she couldn’t keep.
She promised you nothing but look at all she gave you when she turned up at your door, her arms full of violets, stitchwort, primroses, celandines, cowslips and purple bugle.
She even brought you wild strawberry flowers.
She gave you a bunch of the very first bluebells and showed you the first swallow swooping low above your roof.
There wasn’t a single day when she didn’t bring you something to delight and make you smile.
So many precious moments…with her it was you laughed every day at the antics of the lambs racing around the fields.
With her it was you listened to the skylarks singing their hearts out on the heath.
Together, you sat and watched the baby ravens deep inside the woods where the larches turned green at her touch.
She couldn’t help the way she was. Warm with you one day, cold the next.
You never knew what she was going to throw at you next.
That’s just the way she is, never sure which way the wind blows.
With one foot in March, the other in May, she couldn’t decide between sunshine and snow, as unpredictable as the wind.
And now she is come and gone too soon, will you mourn her passing?
No, of course you won’t, you’ve already moved on to the next one – the greatest beauty of them all, the one who fills you with longing because she always promises it will be like it used to be when she gave you everything you ever wanted.
May so rarely keeps her promises but every year you hope she will, this time.
April never promised you anything but remember all she gave you.
In Remembrance of April.

©Jenny Lloyd.

Jenny Lloyd is the Welsh author of The Megan Jones trilogy; historical novels set in early, 19th century, rural Wales.

Leap the Wild Water new book cover meadow     The Calling of the Raven updated book cover     Anywhere the Wind Blows Book Cover - jpg

You can read about the books or purchase them by clicking on the links below.

Leap the Wild Water: http://ow.ly/jEoi302jXkd

The Calling of the Raven: http://ow.ly/4uRO302jXmd

Anywhere the Wind Blows: http://ow.ly/73tq302Ov71

You can also follow the author:

Twitter; https://twitter.com/jennyoldhouse

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/jennylloydauthor

Pinterest; http://www.pinterest.com/jennyoldhouse

Up the creek and bricking it in the wilds of Wales.

You know how it is when you’ve got every thing planned for a great day out, right down to the last ingredient of that picnic you’re going to have? And then things begin to go wrong…

Believe me, it takes courage to drive alone along the mountain road from Abergwesyn to Tregaron. I’d put off this journey so many times over the past few weeks, waiting for the ideal weather that so rarely arrives in Wales, i.e. a day when that bleakest of roads would not be shrouded in mist or fog. In the best of weathers it is a road as remote as any you’ll find in Wales. From the steep hair-pin bends of the aptly named Devil’s Staircase onward, the road twists and turns through an ever bleaker landscape of desolate moors and mountain waterfalls…

dig

dig

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The road seems to go on forever and just as you’re thinking this can’t be right, you must have taken a wrong turn, you come across the reassuring sight of a telephone box in the middle of nowhere…

dav

Eventually, the road threw me out in Tregaron where I heaved a great sigh of relief. But my destination was a remote valley beyond Strata Florida, so my adventure had hardly begun. I was on a mission to get photos of some remote ruins where my ancestors lived. It was a long way up that valley until the road peters out into rough track. So I parked up in this gorgeous location…dig

…and walked up the track that leads further up the valley…

All seemed to be going well until I needed to take a footpath off this track and cross the river. The river, of course, was in flood after all the rain we’ve had – something I hadn’t thought of before setting out. It was far too deep and fast-flowing to cross. Dashing and bothering, I take a few pics before heading back to the car. In the picture below on the right, up in the distance; that’s the torrent of the river cascading further up the valley.

It is a stunningly beautiful valley, all the same, and worth the drive over even if I hadn’t achieved my goal, I think to myself as I head back to the car.

The plan from here is to drive up another valley the other side of the mountain in search of some more ancestral ruins. I’ve got a picnic lunch to take with me. I turn the key in the ignition. Cough, cough, splutter. I turn the ignition again and still the damn thing won’t start. Oh, that horrible feeling of dread when you realise you’re a long, long way from the nearest garage and a whole lot further from home. I was up the creek with no paddle, so to speak, and at this point, bricking it. I turned the ignition again, my foot pumping that pedal like no tomorrow and willing the damned thing to start. To my enormous relief, the engine sprang into life. Having got the thing started there was no way I was going to stop anywhere else for fear of not getting it started again. So, I just kept going, back over that desolate mountain road. Oh, what joy it was to have descended the Devil’s Staircase and find myself back in familiar territory, well on the way to home…

So, it was no picnic, all in all. And I’ll have to do the whole thing again – when the rivers are not in flood and I’ve had the dodgy battery replaced in my car. I’ll let you know how I get on!

Jenny Lloyd is the Welsh author of The Megan Jones trilogy; historical suspense novels set in early, 19th century, rural Wales.

Leap the Wild Water new book cover meadow     The Calling of the Raven updated book cover     Anywhere the Wind Blows Book Cover - jpg

You can read about the books or purchase them by clicking on the links below.

Leap the Wild Water: http://ow.ly/jEoi302jXkd

The Calling of the Raven: http://ow.ly/4uRO302jXmd

Anywhere the Wind Blows: http://ow.ly/73tq302Ov71

You can also follow the author:

Twitter; https://twitter.com/jennyoldhouse

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/jennylloydauthor

Pinterest; http://www.pinterest.com/jennyoldhouse

Top Reads of 2016 #Books #AmReading #TuesdayBookBlog

Over the moon to find Anywhere the Wind Blows on this reviewer’s top-reads list of 2016

Between the Lines ~ Books’n’Stuff

It’s that time again! This year has gone so quickly and it’s been filled with really great reads. Narrowing down favourites is a difficult task but here they are. As always, they’ll be either 4.5* or 5* and clicking on the cover will take you to Amazon UK. 

28111823Dead Is Dead ~ Thriller

Private investigator Jack Bertolino, previously an inspector with the NYPD, is employed as technical advisor, consulting on a movie being made of his last case. His job includes protection for the female star, who is being targeted by a disturbed, out of control stalker. Susan Blake is beautiful, haunted by a past that she can’t lay to rest.

During filming there’s an actual shooting several blocks away, which results in the accidental and tragic death of little Maria Sanchez and also that of known drug dealer, Tomas Vegas. Cruz Feinberg, the technical wizard in Jack’s company, knows…

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The worst Christmas ever?

Apparently, storm Barbara is heading for the British Isles just in time for Christmas with the risk of disruption to transport and power supplies and some possible structural damage. The one thing we all share, wherever we are in the world, is our powerlessness in the face of severe weather. For our ancestors, the consequences were far more devastating.

It’s a sobering thought, but exactly 200 years ago, running up to Christmas of 1816, people were in the midst of a famine right here in Britain thanks to a volcanic explosion on the other side of the world.

In 1815, the effects of the massive volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora, Sumbawa island, Indonesia,  were felt across the world and led to devastating crop failures across the Northern hemisphere in 1816. It has been dubbed ‘the summer that never was’.

The summer of 1816 was so severely cold and wet it led to one of the worst famines of 19th century Europe. Red snow fell in Italy, Eastern parts of North America were under a cloud of volcanic fog, snow fell in Albany, New York in June, and riots broke out in Britain and Europe following the cataclysmic failure of crops.

Families in Wales are said to have traveled great distances begging for food, such was their hunger.

I may not have learned of this extraordinary disaster if I hadn’t been recently researching some unexplained deaths in my family history.

My 5 x grandparents, born in Ceredigion, both died within a month of each other in the summer of 1818. They were younger than I am now. Also, one month later, their oldest son died at the tender age of 30, in the same house. In the neighbouring house, another two relatives had died in that summer; aged 28 and 36. The obvious nagging question was why had so many died before their time and over such a short period?

Causes of death were not entered in the parish registers, so any one of many diseases such as smallpox or typhus may have been responsible. In Cardiganshire, even malaria was not uncommon in marshland areas. But looking for possible diseases led me to the historical occurrence of’the summer that never was’ in 1816.

People weakened by hunger are more susceptible to disease, and disease follows famine as surely as night follows day. In Ireland, also affected by the famine, a typhus epidemic ran from 1816 to 1819.

I will never know for sure what killed those ancestors of mine in 1818 but one thing I can be sure of is that they suffered unimaginable hardship and hunger in the two years leading up to their demise. Luckily for me, their son, my 4 x great grandfather and his wife survived and my 3 x great grandfather was born in 1820.

I’ve discovered many tragedies in my family’s past but this one has shocked and saddened me more than most. It brings home to all of us, I think, how powerless we are against the forces of nature.

We in the Western world live in an age of excess and never is this more evident than in the weeks running up to Christmas. This year more than ever following this most recent research, I am giving thanks for and appreciating how lucky we all are not to be enduring the hardships our ancestors did and which too many people across the world are enduring as I write.

In wishing a Happy Christmas to all my followers here on this blog, I particularly wish you a stress-free holiday in which you and yours do not angst over whether everything is perfect but simply enjoy and celebrate our great good fortune not to have been born in a time or place of great hardship.