Sunday, 29 April 2012

Soggy Sunday

I love and hate days like this-love cos you can be quite lazy because its too nasty to venture out...and hate because you get nothing done! Well I've been lazy but I have done a couple of bits and pieces. Prepared for the 2nd meeting of Furness Abbey Fellowship and have drafted letters to English Heritage and Holker Estates...building up to next weekend to see the abbot's crosier and ring at the abbey-can't wait. I am going to have a tent at Abbey Mill Cafe garden over the weekend in case anyone wants to buy signed copies of Out of Time-seems an opportunity not to be missed. I hope people come along and have a chat before going into the cafe to sample excellent cakes and coffee!

Apart from that I have been thinking hard about my next two writing projects-a short history of St George's church and the 3rd in the Out of Time series. Got some ideas-no title yet but things are formulating.

Lots of fundraising coming up-Keswick to Barrow Walk first of course-on 12 May-I and my other 59 fellow dystonia walkers will be joining me at the early hour of  5-30am to walk the 40 miles over hill and dale to Barrow, through the gorgeous Lakeland landscape. I love it and dread it at the same time-just have to pray for decent weather- I do not relish a day like today-it is totally gruelling walking in freezing rain for that many miles!

The following week we have a Dystonia Society Awareness Tea Party at St Paul's Church hall, Barrow from 2-4pm. Tickets are only £2 and you get a scone, a cake and tea or coffee! Lots of stalls too so come and give us support-be nice to see you.

Two nice sessions tomorrow-St Pius in for the Furness Abbey project and Cambridge St and St Georges in for Time Investigators during which we will be visiting Barrow Archives and the lovely Glenn and Mike.

I am still busy with marketing...its very hard to see what impact one makes on this! The books are well covered on the internet, but for people to buy them they have to know about them and I still haven't worked out how to increase that. I do visit schools and other venues but don't seem to get as much access as some people manage-I know I am probably not aggressive enough...but as I have said before I find this quite difficult. Raven's Hoard is out before Christmas so I do need to up my game and get out there. I really need a publicist or PA who would work for free and get me sorted! Ah well...back to the drawing board!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Lets go viral!
Very pleased with the release of the video onto  to promote Out of Time The Secret of the Swan...the next step is to include it onto the website. I can see we are getting hits-probably from people who know us-but we need your help to extend and spread the word beyond the usual demographic! If you view the video please share it with friends-actually pass it on as much as possible so that it reaches people who wouldn't normally see it. I think its a lovely piece of work and it certainly put the book into pictures very clearly-it is very close to how  imagined the action! The final scene is very emotional for me as it is a fantastically accurate interpretation of the leave taking of George (who is/was my dad) and my son was uncannily like him in the shots Stuart used.
I will definitely be doing a second film later this year to be available at the launch of the next in series-Raven's Hoard. Its going to be a busy year and I must get sorted with lots more signings and visits-if you or your school or group wish me to visit please get in touch via the website email.

It was a wonderful week for Furness this week-as you will know I am passionate about Furness Abbey and the history of the area-which is why I write books about it. I desperately want to engage a wider public with the treasures of this amazing area and encourage children to take an interest and stimulate enquiry about the past. So you can imagine how delighted I was when the finds from the abbey were revealed this week. I had known about their existence for a while, but to finally see them and learn of their significance was amazing. They are to be on show during bank holiday weekend at the abbey and I and many others can't wait to see them. The Channel 4 report on Thursday gave further insight into the bones found at the same time of the abbot. These I would imagine will be re-interred at a future date-as they should be...after all he believed he would rest within the abbey precinct for eternity and I think this should be the case. This story went to News at Ten which is remarkable that it has had 2 national news airings-BBC kept it local; but its all over the papers and internet too.
As if this wasn't enough there is the viking hoard which will also appear at the Dock Museum from 4 May for a month! Barrow Borough Council are appealing for funds to buy this for the community to place it on permanent display-which would be another great coup and a draw for tourists! Everyone should get behind this because it would be a fantastic boost to the local economy and we could end up  being put on the map for tourism at last-then maybe Furness would be given the profile it deserves instead of the butt of jokes as it so often is. We have a fantastically rich and varied history and there is so much there which can be easily and freely exploited-we just need to begin to value the heritage and put ourselves firmly behind the abbey and the Dock Museum who both do a good job with limited resources.
In this vein, a number of local artists, historians, authors and lovers of the Furness heritage have formed a new group called Furness Abbey Fellowship. Its remit is to raise awareness of the abbey nationally and locally and to help to ensure that the artefacts remain here. It won't be an easy job because there will be security issues involved with housing such items-but the fact is there is no better place for them to reside! FAF...I know its a daft acronym...want to work with EH and other agencies to assist and promote the abbey and reinstate it as a centre for the community to work, learn, appreciate and enjoy. The interest extends to the other historical environments too and there is a firm belief that multi-agency approaches need to be taken to allow a consolidated strategy for the future of such important finds.

If you are interested in joining us please contact me via  the next meeting is at 7-30pm on Thursday 3rd May-please contact to say you are attending as we need to be sure of numbers.

So it looks as though we face an exciting few months ahead. On a personal note my second "Out of Time" book Raven's Hoard (written before the viking hoard was discovered) will be out before Christmas. More to follow soon...Ill be concentrating on the Keswick to Barrow Walk over the next 3 weeks-40 miles of pain, fun, euphoria and pleasure...come and give me a wave!

Friday, 20 April 2012

You've read the see the film!

Well here it is-the much awaited promotional film! I am delighted with the result-well done Stuart Appley of Comely Media-superb result! Thanks to English Heritage, National Trust, Abbey Mill Cafe and St George's, St Cuthbert's and St Mary's churches for the access to your venues. Big congratulations to the cast and crew-who are credited at the end. Please tweet, share and tell people about this film as it will help to expand the reach of the book. Catch you later with my views about the recent finds at Furness Abbey and my visit to Croftland's Infant School-what a week!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Good end to the week

Done some training again this week for Keswick to Barrow Walk. Its been good walking weather and only a month left to train. We had a successful meeting of Furness and South Lakes group of the Dystonia Society. We are planning a Tea Party for Awareness week on 19th May at St Pauls Church Hall at 2pm Tickets are available now at £2-for which you get tea/coffee and a scone and a cake-bargain!
Completed Out of Time 2 and edited this week. Sent it up to the publisher and it has been accepted which is good news. We are set to have it available before Christmas which is perfect! Can't wait  but its always daunting as to whether people will like it! I will be revising the website and start the publicity drive for Guy the Grumpy Gargoyle which will be out by summer.

Tomorrow is another big day I'm signing at Preston Waterstones. I always feel nervous before hand but its nice to meet new people and Waterstones are very accommodating and helpful which makes it easier. Hopefully, I will do well and be able to encourage people to buy the book! I'll let you know later.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Iain McNichol as John Stell

 Shooting Promotional Film for 

                 Out of Time

We took two days to film a short promotional film for Out of Time: The Secret of the Swan. all on location at the places mentioned in the book. We must thank both English Heritage and National Trust for access to their properties-Furness Abbey and Dalton Castle.

The gang at Bow Bridge
The mysterious monk pointing
to the abbey
We acquired a number of talented young actors from local schools- Connor Wood playing George, Reece Woodend as Danny, Chloe Johnson as Megan and Meghann Ewing ad Rebecca. They did a fine job and we had a great time.

Stuart directing the kids
Stuart Appley of Comely Media understood exactly what I had envisaged and it was remarkable watching the book come to life!
Freya and Amy as two 1930s

On the first day it was Baltic weather and everyone deserved a medal for sticking at it-especially Connor in shorts and jersey!
Stuart Meghann and Linda Cronin
Day two was lovely, bright and sunny and quite warm -which helped to move things along well. We visited most   venues in the book with the exception of Piel island mainly becomes of time restrictions; and it was quite exhausting for all concerned.

George hiding at Bow Bridge
We were very fortunate that our local churches permitted us to film in their buildings. Thanks must got o Rev Linda Cronin at St George's Barrow, Rev Armstrong of St Cuthbert's Aldingham, and Rev Allan Mitchell of St Mary's Dalton. It made the filming to be in the real places and we were delighted to use them with the hope that people will see and appreciate what beautiful churches we have in the area and will then visit them. 
Mr Steele confronts Mason and the kids
Adult actors and extras included Tom Burrows as Mr Mason (who else could play him?), Iain McNichol as Brother John Stell,Jamie Quinn as Mr Steele (he is much too nice to be the baddy really-but did a good job!) Nathaniel Jepson as Granddad (spookily realistic), Freya Jepson and Amy Turner as 1930s ladies-who looked suitably elegant in their roles. You will notice if you have read the book that some characters were deleted for this interpretation-because the film is shorter than the book-however, Stuart has captured all the key elements well.
At Dalton Castle
Maxine and Tom watching the filming
Stuart is currently editing the film and finding suitable music to accompany it. There is no speech because we wanted the pictures to tell the story-and wanted to make people curious enough to read the book! It will be available soon on Youtube and various websites,Facebook etc I hope everyone will spread
Stuart putting kids through their paces 
Mr Steele and Megan

the word and help it to reach as  many people as possible!

Further thanks to Abbey Mill Cafe for providing a safe haven and packed lunches for the 2 days, Gill Cycles for the loan of the bike, Amanda and Bekah Currie for the     loan of authentic 1930s dresses and bags.