A Tatty Book is a Lovely Thing

I admit it, I’m a page-corner turner-overer*. I know this crime is almost equivalent to murder in the eyes of dedicated bookmark users, but I have my reasons.

Books are such tactile things; they feel good in your hands and all those wonderful words you are holding up have a pleasing weight. I like my books to feel like they are being read. The books I read over and over again know they are loved because the edges of their pages don’t lie flat, and the spines are flexible and crooked with affection. There might be the ring of a tea-mug stain on the cover. Or a red circle from a wine glass. The crevices might be crackly with sand where I’ve read on the beach, or the pages warped with water where I’ve read in the bath.

My favourite books have a physical personality all of their own and bear the scars of my love. (The one shown above is my copy of ‘Northern Lights’ by Phillip Pullman.)

Which was why I felt truly happy to find Continue reading

Getting Praised for Daydreaming

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Though, like a lot of writers, I write mostly because I love telling myself stories and getting immersed in worlds of my own creation (otherwise known as ‘daydreaming’), a bonus of making the stories available to others is the feedback.

When somebody totally gets what you were trying to say, understands how your world works, and bonds with characters you gave birth to, it’s like a little bit of sparkly magic.

Here are two favourites out of all my favourite reviews – one by a journalist, and one by someone who is so completely my target audience. With thanks to Hilarie and Georgina.

I hope you don’t mind a little bit of showing off. I don’t do it very often 🙂


The Blackwood Crusade

The Blackwood Crusade BookBook Review by Journalist, Hilarie Stelfox, published in Huddersfield Daily Examiner

“I was hooked from the first few pages – and mightily relieved to discover that it is extraordinarily well written by someone with a finely-tuned sense of humour. In fact, it’s every bit as good as any fiction for the young I’ve read in recent years, including the novels of JK Rowling and Eoin Colfer. As well as being a natural storyteller, Jo never patronises her readers, an attribute that will endear her to teenagers. Nor does she shy away from the odd bit of violence and unpleasantness, another plus for young readers.”

READ MORE HERE

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The Curtain Twitcher’s Handbook

Curtain Twitchers Cover“I read this book in three chunks, over a period of two days! I was hooked to the story and literally could not put it down! It’s the perfect read for many teenage girls like myself what with it covering dilemmas we can relate to and also including the interesting element of the ghost story that leaves you desperate to read on to find out what happens next.

I fell in love with Daisy the main character almost instantly and could relate to her throughout the book, I didn’t see the ending coming at all it took me by surprise and completely blew me away! I felt so emotionally attached to both Will and Daisy throughout the book and found myself almost in tears on a few more occasions in the book.

It was by far one the best books I’ve read in a while, for the reason that not only did it have a phenomenal story but it took me on a journey with the characters as I felt I knew them so well and not many authors i know can portray this skill to take the reader on an journey and make them feel emotionally involved with the story but Jo has done this flawlessly and the book has been lingering in my mind since…

Definitely up there in my top 10 best reads and I have already recommended it to two friends, and passed it on to one of them already 🙂 5 stars!!!!

READ MORE HERE

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Featured Photo Credit: Comfreak

Shining Armour Loses its Shine

Knight

The old fairy stories are not known for their strong female roles. Off the top of my head, there seem to be four main types of women who constantly appear:

  1. The young, beautiful damsel who is good at heart, but doesn’t seem to have a mind of her own and often makes foolish mistakes…. usually because she is lovesick.
  2. The middle-aged wife who can’t stop nagging, and essentially exists to make her husband and children miserable.
  3. The old hag who turns every bad situation into a far worse one.
  4. The wonderful fairy-godmother sort, who is always magical because she is far too good and sensible to be a normal human woman.

And then there are the handsome knights, selfless and brave heroes, charging in to rescue the damsels, silence the nagging wives and destroy the evil hags.

But damsels can handle themselves if they ignore their self-doubt, nagging wives are usually only nagging because they’re not being heard, and as for old hags… they are our mothers, aunties and grandmothers, and deserve some care and respect, goddamit!

With International Women’s Day upon us again, and the female half of the planet rising up to be heard, we continue to correct the imbalance that has been perpetuated since before the time of fairytales. The last thing a damsel needs in this kind of fight is a knight in shining armour to sweep her off her pretty little feet. She needs a knight who will fight at her side to make the world a better, and more equal place for everyone.

Fancy a new kind of fairytale where the hero is a strong female? Well, I wrote one. Just for people like you 🙂


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Begging Letter #4: Tree-Climbing Sheep

In the 15th Century, Blackwood is plagued by malicious faeries, as everyone who lives there knows. Everyone except the Lord of Blackwood, that is, who refuses to believe there is such a thing…

Petition presented to Thomas the Castellan by Marcus Meadows:

Mr Meadows lost three of his sheep while out grazing. When he returned through the woods he found all three sheep stuck high up on tree branches. It took him all afternoon to free them. He demanded a full investigation.

(The Lord of Blackwood was informed of this petition and dismissed the claim as foul play. Mr Meadows was asked to go away and think about whether he had recently offended anyone.)

Looking back through the archives, there are hundreds of petitions from the villagers to the Lord of Blackwood (via his Castellan), begging him do something to make their village a safer place. The Castellan does not even pass many of them on. We can read from this that he knows very well what his master would say if he presented them. The gravity of the matters mentioned in the petitions varies and, indeed, some could be attributed to vivid imaginations at work. Other, like the tragic case of the Crumb family in 1413 are harder to dismiss.

I will be sharing some of the appeals with you here (edited for the modern reader). You can make up your own mind.

by Dr Melchior Williams (Co-Author of ‘The Blackwood Crusade’ a medieval fairytale based on his discovery of the intriguing Blackwood Archives)

Engraving: ‘The Lost Sheep’ by Sir John Everett Millais


‘THE BLACKWOOD CRUSADE’

(Paperback and Kindle) is available at AMAZON.COM and AMAZON.CO.UK

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Can a Witch REALLY Turn You into a Toad?

Toad

Witches don’t exist. Not the ones who fly around on broomsticks cackling at the moon and turning people into frogs. That was all made up by some nasty men to get rid of little old ladies who knew a lot about plants and healing, but not much about the Lord. Of course, that’s a very broad sweep over the subject because I can’t go into it now. Continue reading

Begging Letter #3: What shall we do with the Drunken Soldier?

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by Dr Melchior Williams (Co-Author of ‘The Blackwood Crusade’ a medieval fairytale based on his discovery of the intriguing Blackwood Archives)


In the 15th Century, Blackwood is plagued by malicious faeries, as everyone who lives there knows. Everyone except the Lord of Blackwood, that is, who refuses to believe there is such a thing.

Looking back through the archives, there are hundreds of petitions from the villagers to the Lord of Blackwood (via his Castellan), begging him do something to make their village a safer place. The Castellan does not even pass many of them on. We can read from this that he knows very well what his master would say if he presented them. The gravity of the matters mentioned in the petitions varies and, indeed, some could be attributed to vivid imaginations at work. Other, like the tragic case of the Crumb family in 1413 are harder to dismiss.

I will be sharing some of the appeals with you here (edited for the modern reader). You can make up your own mind.

Petition presented to Thomas the Castellan by Balrick Broadback:

Soldier Broadback reported seeing strange lights flashing in the Black Wood whilst on watch on Monday eve. The lights continued all through the night. He requests a patrol of the surrounding area.

(The Lord of Blackwood was informed of this petition and Soldier Broadback was dismissed from service for drunkenness.)

Painting by John Anster Fitzgerald


‘THE BLACKWOOD CRUSADE’

(Paperback and Kindle) is available at AMAZON.COM and AMAZON.CO.UK

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The Surprising Origin of ‘COOL!’

COOL

“You are my champion,” Silas told Christina, blushing a little. “My family all died, and here you are seeking revenge, not just for yourself, but for me, and others like me. You have enough courage for the whole of Blackwood. I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ because I may not have another chance.”

She looked flattered and amazed at the same time, then examined the remains of her flower. “Nobody has ever said anything as nice as that before. I thought everybody saw me as a blood-hungry madwoman, driven insane by my curse.” Continue reading

The Long Lost Secret to Good Fairy Cake

Fairy Cake

Meanwhile, Silas was lobbing half of the faerie cake into the river.

“SNAPDRAGONS!” he shouted.

Tapping his foot on the lush grass of the riverbank, he waited for a response. The river was very deep and fast and he did not relish the idea of swimming across it. The very idea struck fear into him when he thought of his father’s hand disappearing into the raging grey water as it had carried him away once upon a time. Still, he was prepared to do it if…

“’Ere I am. Don’t be going getting your tunic in a twist,” came a familiar voice, gurgling up from the depths. Continue reading

Alternative Fact #4 from ‘Blackwood’

Meachers Dog

“Just one question,” asked Mab. “Where will I be?”

“You will be looking after my horse,” replied Lady Christina, briskly. “Now, Silas, are you ready?”

She turned to the door.

“Wait,” Mab said, momentarily confused. “The horse is staying here. Are you telling me I must stay here too?” Continue reading

Begging Letter #2: The Wrong Type of Mushroom

toadstool john anster fitzgerald

by Dr Melchior Williams (Co-Author of ‘The Blackwood Crusade’)

In the 15th Century, Blackwood is plagued by faeries, as everyone who lives there knows. Everyone except the Lord of Blackwood, that is, who refuses to believe there is such a thing. Continue reading