Sunday, July 10, 2016

The story behind the 'Seasons of Change' series of books

1e268-51msfw2fpol-_sx312_bo1252c204252c203252c200_I began writing this series of books ten long years ago! I'd been reading a lot about local history and something that struck a chord with me was The Gethin Pit Explosion of 1865. Actually, there were two explosions that caused a loss of life at that particular pit, the other was just a couple of years previously. It got me thinking though, what would it be like for the small village community of Abercanaid losing all those lives, particularly after the second explosion where 34 men and boys died. It was just before Christmas that year, so the village would have been shrouded in grief.
At the same time, I was tracing my family tree and was flabbergasted to discover that one line of my family had been Mormons who were fervent believers. One had even set sail for Utah to live out in Great Salt Lake and helped build the Morman Tabernacle Church.
I read about the treatment of Mormons in my home town of Merthyr Tydfil. They were treated quite badly as people stoned them on the streets as they preached the word.
So I combined my research about the Gethin Pit Explosion and pioneer Mormons in the town to form the fictional story, Black Diamonds. I explain it as 'a fictional story set around real life events'.
I decided to write the story for the Nano Wrimo Challenge which takes place in November every year. The idea being to write at least 50,000 words of a novel in one calendar month. I achieved that goal and wrote around 58,000 words but hadn't completed the book. In fact, I abandoned it for around 7 years, not showing it to a soul! Then I started up a creative writing group on Facebook and posted chapters of the book for people to read and comment. I was amazed how people loved the story, so whilst they were still reading early chapters, I got on with completing the book and posting new chapters. Quite soon, it was complete!
You can read my first blog post about Black Diamonds here:
And so, 'Black Diamonds' was born. It's had some really great reviews. One lady told me she went to visit her elderly father one day and was concerned as his curtains were still drawn. It turned out, he'd been having a lie in as he was up all night reading Black Diamonds!!
07eb6-41dmnzljxjl-_sx312_bo1252c204252c203252c200_Following on from the great feed back from that novel, I wrote another called, 'White Roses'. The story is set further down the line, so it becomes a saga series. In this one, a young woman wants to sing on the London stage but her husband who has just joined the Glamorgan Constabulary forbids it. She is already singing on stage locally and he believes that should be enough for her to contend with. That particular book is set both in Merthyr Tydfil and London.
The third in the series is 'Blue Skies' which is about a young nurse working at The Merthyr General Hospital. That book was very emotional to write and is set in Merthyr Tydfil and Cardigan. Two very different settings -- whilst one is a heavy, bustling industrial town, the other setting is in a farming community near Aberwystwyth. That's where my grandfather's family originated from. I often remember him talking about the 'Cardis'.51ftjuSSCsL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_
Back in those days women didn't have much in the way of rights regarding divorce or their own children and property, though an amazing lady called, Caroline Norton had helped bring in a new law which helped women more than in previous times. Divorce was still a dirty word and women were expected to lie in the beds they'd made for themselves.
Writing those particular books has made me realised how difficult life was for women. They were expected to be 'Angels of the Home' whereas men were expected to be the 'Head of the House' and quite often their behaviour wasn't challenged at all. Which brings me on to the next book in the series. This one was probably the most emotional of all to write...
The fourth book in the series is 'Red Poppies'. The story begins during the Great War and actually starts not long after the Battle of the Somme. It's the story of a young nurse who wants to become a doctor. She meets a lot of opposition along the way. It's set in Merthyr Tydfil, London, Ypres and Northern France.
Red Poppies Kindle July.jpgI hope you'll enjoy the series which was very emotional for me to write. Maybe as some of it was close to home with the setting being my home town and the links to my family history and the topics involved. Basically, they are stories about four strong women who battle against the odds in a man's world.

All books can be purchased here in either Kindle or Paperback formats:

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Bullying in the Work Place

They've been discussing adult bullying in the work place on Loose Women on ITV today. It's surprising how much of it goes on and it's only something I've come across more recently.

I worked at one place where someone in a powerful position and their side kick mercilessly bullied several members of staff, there was a high staff turn over at that place, something that should have been picked up by someone in authority! When good staff are forced into resigning [which is what seemed to happen] then there's something wrong.

The bullying took this kind of form:

* Excluding members of staff. By this I mean when the person being bullied [they often picked on one person forcing them to leave and then turned their attention on someone else] that person would be left out of certain things or topics of conversation.

* Sending someone to Coventry. The pair would not speak to the particular staff member. One woman who had been forced into resigning was ignored for the last few days she worked at the office. She wasn't allowed to tell us she was leaving and when she'd left, the following Monday, we all received letters in our pigeon-holes informing us she had left her position.

* Not being allowed a say. Staff members weren't allowed to discuss work related issues. One meeting was held where I gave several suggestions of how working conditions could be improved, after that, we were never allowed another meeting.

* The poor woman who was forced to resign was shouted at in front of other people, victimised and made to feel she couldn't do her job properly, even though she had once worked for years in a responsible position and I felt she was very good at her job.

* Undermining. Anything worthwhile the woman did was undermined. She created a new filing system, which was changed.

* Given too large a workload. The woman was also given too many jobs to do, so she became highly stressed and when other members of staff offered to help they were told they couldn't.

I've used just an example of what happened to one good member of staff there, there were many others who were forced to resign, including myself eventually, even though I was well thought of by others. I was told I could go back there at a later date. No idea why but I didn't take them up on that offer. I wanted out. Things had changed a great deal and there were many 'working practices' I wasn't happy about. So I just accepted the cheap bunch of flowers they gave people when they'd outed them and the crappy card, pasted a smile on my face said, 'Goodbye!' and dumped them in the nearest bin!

I finally discovered why the woman was set up to fail, they wanted her out of the job so it could go to a family member.

Manipulation of the highest order!

It Happened One Summer

I was looking at some old blog posts today and realised it's ten years since my first book launch -- I remember it as if it was yesterday! It was held in a local castle for the charity I was working for at the time as I donated all proceeds for that first book to them.
book signing
Signing copies IHOS at the castle
It was a momentous day for me. I'd never been involved in anything quite like it before, or since to be honest. Although there have been other book launches and signings since, and I've enjoyed them all, there is nothing quite like your first!
There were a lot of people there for that launch on July 3rd, 2006, including my family, colleagues, dignitaries, press etc. If I'm honest, it was a little nerve wracking as I wasn't that used to public speaking and the thought of doing so in front of so many people set my knees a trembling. Thankfully, no one noticed as I stood behind a table when I spoke about my book. :)
Cyfarthfa Castle
All books sold out that day, there wasn't even one left for the mayor, we had to order more. One young woman who had been queuing for ages for me to sign her book, informed me that it was her grandmother who started the cancer charity in the first place. I felt honoured to sign a book for her.
That book was, It Happened One Summer. It really did happen that summer for me! It was the summer my first ever novel was published.
Me with my writing group who came to the book launch!
If you fancy reading this's available on Kindle and in paperback, though now has a new cover as I parted company with the original publisher. That's another another story in itself! I was fortunate to find a better publisher in New York, who published that book along with its follow-up, Return to Winter. That second book was also sold to raise funds for the charity. Both books are very close to my heart, as you can imagine. Since that time I've now republished them myself as I have more control over my books that way, although I still have two publishers for other books written under a pen name.

Purchase book here!

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Author Lynette Rees Gets Interviewed by Sallyann Cole of 'Sally's Sneaky Peeks!'

Author Lynette Rees

Q, What made you start writing and when?
A,  I’ve always written as far back as I remember, I just think it comes naturally to me—
as natural as taking a breath in and out.
Q, How long have you been writing?
A, I remember writing short stories and making little books when I was in primary school. I always had a lot of imagination even back then.
Q, What genre of books do you write?
A, Romance in the following sub genres: contemporary, suspense, comedy and historical. I also write crime fiction under the name, ‘Lyn Harman’.
Q, Where does your inspiration come from?
A, I get ideas from everywhere and anywhere! I got the idea for The Honey Trap from a newspaper article about honey trappers who set up cheating partners for their wives and girlfriends. I suddenly thought: What if one of those honey trappers accidentally set up the wrong guy?
I sometimes get ideas for historical stories from actual events, for example, I’d read about the 1865 Gethin Pit explosion in the village of Abercanaid where I live [which happened just before Christmas that year] killing 34 men and boys and thought, “What would life be like for the villagers at that time? And so, ‘Black Diamonds’ was born, which was the first of the ‘Seasons of Change’ series of books.
Studying photographs are a good source of inspiration for stories and also listening to music as I let my imagination run riot!
Q, How do you plan your story line?
A, I don’t. I rarely plan. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of writer. What I do though is think of a beginning, which often comes from a question I’ve asked myself about a situation. I also usually have an ending in mind and work from A to B. I find working that way I often surprise myself. For example, in my most recently published novel, ‘Red Poppies’, something happened which shocked me. It was a discovery about one of the characters that suddenly popped into my mind. I had to run with it. When I write I see events unfolding before my eyes like watching a movie on a big screen. I like to surprise myself as I tend to think, no surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.
Q, Do you write full time?
A, I try to work full time most days, though part of that time might be spent on promotion or editing and revision too.
Q, When do you do most of your writing?
A, I write best early morning or very late at night.
Q, What would you say to novice writers?
A, Don’t just talk about writing, do it! You can’t fix a blank page. Write and give yourself permission to write rubbish to begin with. You can always go back and amend it. Set your subconscious mind free and don’t edit and revise as you go along as it will kill the story stone dead. It’s a good idea to take the Nanowrimo Challenge. This is a writing challenge that takes place throughout November every year. The idea being to write at least 50,000 words in one calendar month. You can sign up for it online. In fact I know of someone who completed it in the early days and she eventually became a New York Times Best Selling Novelist! Her name is Lani Diane Rich. That Nanowrimo inspired novel became her first best seller called, Time Off For Good Behavior. I was fortunate to interview her for an article for, Writers’ Forum magazine a few years ago.
Q, Do you just write ebooks?
A, No, I’ve also written articles for magazines and websites. I also have several blogs. Two are to promote my books and there I write about all sorts of things. The other, is a Jack the Ripper blog. I used to run a ‘Catfished’ blog based on the well-known MTV show, ‘Catfish’. It was very popular and received lots of comments from the ‘Catfish’ themselves. I ended up closing it down though as several TV companies kept badgering me to provide them with people for the UK version of the show. The trouble was they needed the people who’d been catfished [i.e the victims] but only the catfish were contacting my blog and then for obvious reasons, they were anonymous! So, I wouldn’t have been able to contact them personally if I wanted to!
Q, Would you like to go into print?
A, I’ve been fortunate to see my work in print since around 2001 one way or another, whether it’s been printed in a magazine in Australia, Canada, America or over here in the United Kingdom or in book format. Seeing my work in print was the icing on the cake for me!
Q, Do you have any other hobbies?
A, Yes, I love tracing my family tree [which was the inspiration for one of my books], local history and history in general. I also love music, all sorts, my tastes are very varied. I love anything from The Beatles to Beethoven!
Q, What do you do for relaxation?
A, I like walking or listening to relaxing music.
Q, Have you got any other information about yourself or to help other authors?
A, Yes, never give up. Be persistent as persistence wins the day. I didn’t get published immediately. In the early days when I just wrote articles and short stories, I had to keep sending them out, but found after several rejections, I eventually found some editor somewhere liked what I’d written. If I’d have given up at the first hurdle I’d never have seen my work in print. The same with my books…in the beginning I tried several publishers until I found a fit. Nowadays, I have two publishers, one in the US and the other in the UK, and I’m also an Indie self-published author too. I find it gives me more freedom to do what I want with my work. I don’t have to restrict myself. Of course, self-publishing is a lot of work but it can be very rewarding. These days you don’t have to keep trying to get published as you can do it all yourself by using publishing platforms such as Amazon Kindle [to publish your ebook] and Create Space [to go into print]. Some self-published authors like, Rachel Abbot, have even made the best seller lists. So publishing isn’t as limiting as it was for me in the early days when I started out trying to get published. I say, if you’ve got the talent, go for it. Join some sort of creative writing group, whether it’s at your local library or online. It will keep you motivated and you’ll learn from other writers. Better to learn the truth about your work from strangers rather than to have friends and relatives tell you how great it is because they don’t want to upset you. If you feel inspired by reading this, then do something about it as soon as possible. I joined a creative writing group run by my local library back in 1999 and I literally haven’t stopped writing since, even though that same group no longer exists!

Sallyann Cole of Sally's Sneaky Peeks!

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