Holiday Reading List

When winter weather arrives, I like to be someplace cozy and warm, maybe curled up in a big armchair or a recliner, with a good book or my Kindle in my hands.

I’ve asked my friends to help me out with a reading list to fill my Kindle (or bookshelf)  for the coming Christmas season.

Books make great gifts. Did you know you can send an e-book as a gift to another person? All they need is an e-reader. If it isn’t a Kindle, you can order books through smashwords.com. You can load up your e-reader and never be bored while you’re waiting for that Christmas turkey to be done, or in those doldrum days that follow Christmas. And what a long-lasting gift a book is! Hours and hours of enjoyment.

To help me start my list, my guest is British author Miriam Wakerly. She has written books of her own, but of course, all  authors like to read. So let’s look at her list of favourite books and then see what she has to offer as her own latest book.

Here’s Miriam:

Miriam (1)

I have an eclectic list of ‘books read and enjoyed’, some of them quite serious with deep themes, like Hilary Mantel’s “Bring Up the Bodies,” and fiction about Alzheimer’s, women in Afghanistan, and so on. Well, here we go, Christmas is coming and we all need to smile and even laugh out loud during the festive season! So I am choosing three funny books you might like to check out:
Notwithstanding by Louis de Bernieres
No! I Don’t Need Reading Glasses by Virginia Ironside
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
My new novel will particularly appeal to those who can remember the freezing Christmas of 1962. Maybe your parents were of that era and you’re curious to know about those ‘olden times’!
Secrets_Appley_Green_blueflower (2)final
Secrets in Appley Green – a 1960s village novel  For UK customers, click here North American customers, click here.
All my books take place in the fictitious Surrey-Hampshire village of Appley Green. You can find them via my Author Page on amazon.co.uk or on amazon.com

Miriam Wakerly Revisits the Sixties – Secrets in Appley Green

 My guest today is the lovely Miriam Wakerly. You may remember her from other posts when we introduced her novels “Shades of Appley Green,” “Gypsies Stop tHere,” and “No Gypsies Served.” I’m happy to host Miriam again to tell you of her latest novel. portraitmw

Anneli has been sharing writerly tips for a while now over on the LoveaHappyEnding Lifestyle magazine. http://www.loveahappyending.com/category/writing-advice/ It’s wonderful how authors help each other. Thank you so much for having me on your website, Anneli.

I have started running writing workshops with the rather stupendous idea of covering all aspects of novel writing in three hours! The workshop preparation and process has rekindled in me a love of writing and all the challenges it poses. It is rather like learning to drive at first, with so many different things to think of, especially in those all-important opening lines, pages, and chapters.  Setting the scene, developing a style, introducing and growing  characters the reader will care about, planting credible hooks to keep the reader turning the pages, with the overall structure and way forward always there in the back of your mind – it’s daunting sometimes but wonderful when it all comes together. The best bit is when your characters begin to think and act for themselves in a given situation. Then you know they have become ‘real’, yet still creatures of fiction.

Going back to my teenage years, riding on a wave of nostalgia, made me think hard about the Sixties. How different 1960 was from the years that followed!  The attitudes and general way of life particularly fascinated me and made me ponder on how much those of us who can remember the Sixties have changed since then – apart from simply growing older. Having said that, human emotion pretty much endures – the pain of injustice, rejection, and lost love, the double-edged joy of being in love, the happiness friendship brings, the spirits uplifted on a sunny day in a lovely garden.

The setting is an English village, the same place as my first three novels. If you’ve read any of my other books, Gypsies Stop tHere, No Gypsies Served and Shades of Appley Green, you will recognise some of the older characters – as they were over fifty years ago!

Three naïve, but very different, Appley Green schoolgirls pledge to stick together forever, but when one of them gets pregnant, this pushes their promise to the edge.

A young girl in need of love is vulnerable to the charms of an older man with heartbreaking consequences.

These are Great Britain’s Sixties, an exciting era, gathering pace, then in full swing as social change sweeps aside past attitudes, laws, fashion, and culture. Youth is finding a voice as parents struggle to adjust.  Its characters span the full social spectrum and take us beyond Appley Green to Brighton, Margate, London, Vienna, and Paris.

Miriam Wakerly’s  Appley Green village stories all standalone and can be read in any order, but they are connected. This one can serve as a prequel to all three, especially Shades of Appley Green.

 Secrets_Appley_Green_blueflower (2)final

I hope you enjoy Secrets in Appley Green – A 1960s village novel. The Kindle version is available on amazon outlets, paperback to follow within a few weeks.

Links: 

Blog: Miriam’s Ramblings 

Miriam’s books in the UK:  Amazon.co.uk  

Miriam’s books in the US and Canada: Amazon.com 

Llm link to articles about English village life:  

 

 

 

 

Turning Points Series – Miriam Wakerly

My guest today is Miriam Wakerly.

portraitmw

Miriam launched Gypsies Stop tHere in Waterstones in 2008, the day after she retired. No Gypsies Served followed in 2010, as she felt there was more to say. To be self-published was pretty daring then!

This excerpt is from Miriam’s third novel, Shades of Appley Green, a heart-warming story that has nothing to do with Gypsies but is set in the same fictitious English village.

She lives in Surrey close to Hampshire with her husband, but hails originally from Tetbury, a small Cotswolds town that is local to Highgrove, home of Charles, HRH Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. As well as Surrey villages, this lovely place helped inspire the sense of community that shines through in her novels.

 ***

We have been taking a closer look at turning points in a novel; a point after which nothing is the same for one (or all) of the main characters.

Miriam will share a “turning point” excerpt with us from one of her novels, Appley Green.

Excerpt:

Years after the event, Steph looks back in her diary to a point she is about to make a momentous decision, blaming herself for ever entering into this mistake of a marriage. How will she extricate herself and her children? 

‘There’s a blackbird’s nest Barnaby has been watching closely while Faith is at school. It’s lodged in the woody tangle climbing up one side of the west wing.

“Look Mum! Is that the Daddy bird or the Mum one?” It strikes me he’s learning the concept of fatherhood in an unconventional way! We are watching the parent birds go back and forth with twigs and feathers and Barnaby is looking forward immensely to the day when the eggs will finally hatch. (All down to good parenting!) We can look down into it from Faith’s bedroom window and count the speckledy-blue-green eggs. I explained to Barnaby today how the tiny baby birds would be fed for a while before they could begin to fly. Barnaby runs around the house flapping his arms in a keen display of empathy.’

 ‘Small events help bed in my initial seeds of doubt. (I am turning poetic). This morning, Saturday, Richard decides to do a spot of tree pruning and casually mentions that he came across a nest that had fallen down with the detritus of branches resulting from his task. I wanted to beat him over the head with the axe still in his hand, as he stood there on the back terrace. I was sure I’d told him how excited Barnaby was about this nest, but he could not have heard or been in any way interested. Barnaby’s tears were hard to bear and, for Richard, rather tiresome.’

‘Last night, we lay in bed after having sex – it could hardly be termed making love as the act involves no affection from him, and no passion from me. He seemed content with this arrangement. Usually he turns straight over and slips into an untroubled sleep.

So it came as a shock when he said, “How long will it be before we have a baby, I wonder?”

I am on the pill. Absurdly, in retrospect, it never occurred to me that he would want to have children with me. His question came as more than a bit of a surprise, although I see now I am naïve and really pretty stupid; we’re married, he has none of his own and in theory the question was entirely natural. But we’re both living under different, unspoken, assumptions. He has never raised the subject before and he seems entirely lacking in paternal instincts, scarcely exchanging more than a few words in passing with either Faith or Barnaby. I could kick myself for being so blinkered, not appreciating this particular shortcoming of his before accepting his proposal – blindly, rashly, naively. I can detect no evidence of him understanding what children are, or are for! He must have been one himself, I tell myself.

I hesitated in my reply long enough for silence to supply a clear answer to his question.

I now fully realise that my own identity is slowly shrivelling, being eaten up and swallowed whole by this deceptively demanding husband of mine. My overall strategy must take a different course. I shall go back to work. Eventually I’ll escape this marriage from hell. How could I ever have entered into it?’

A  great read!

A great read!

Find out more about Miriam’s books at amazon.com and amazon.co.uk

A Visit Down Under

My guest today is British writer Miriam Wakerly. She has just returned from a trip to Australia and will share some of her experiences with us.

Miriam Wakerly

Miriam Wakerly

Before Christmas my husband and I went Down Under on a fast-paced holiday. There are a couple of posts around about the places we visited  (links), but I thought for a change people might like to hear about a special day we spent in Alice Springs close to Uluru or Ayers Rock, the sun-scorched Red Centre of the Australian desert.

IMG_2165

This was what some might accurately call an “educational” trip, but I was among many who enjoyed this particular aspect of our tour just as much as some of the truly sensational, spectacular events laid on for us – maybe even more.

The theme of what we saw was very much to do with communication in the arid outback, where people are remote both from each other and the mainly coastal towns and cities of Australia. How do people keep in touch with the rest of the country – especially before the days of the Internet? How can children get any education or interaction with their peers? What if someone falls seriously ill?

Why did this town “spring” up in the first place?  The Arrernte Aboriginal people have made their home in this area of the desert for more than 50,000 years; its Aboriginal name is Mparntwe. The River Todd that flows through Alice Springs is usually dry – certainly there was no sign of water when we saw it, although we were told that when it flows – it flows!

It was not until 1861 that “white man” arrived in the form of John McDouall Stuart, a Scottish explorer, who led an expedition through Central Australia to the west of what later became Alice Springs. A route was then enabled from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north. About ten years later an Overland Telegraph Line (OTL) surveyor, William Mills, discovered a waterhole and named it Alice Springs after the wife of Charles Todd, the Superintendent of Telegraphs for South Australia, and a repeater station was set up. As our Visitors’ History Guide tells us, “the line suddenly reduced the isolation of Australians from the rest of the world.”

We were able to wander around the station buildings and learned more about the people who lived there, the role they played, lives they led, and how they relayed and received messages by Morse code. Little touches brought it to life: “The Station Master’s kitchen was originally divided in two. To your right was a children’s bedroom and sewing room where the Station Master’s wife made clothes for Aborigines who worked at the Station.”

IMG_2122

A humble building belies its importance. Lively painting at the entrance.

The School of the Air was even more fascinating, if that is possible. Providing distance learning of the highest standard, following the national curriculum, it likes to be described as the “largest classroom in the world”; an average of 120 children over an area 10 times the size of England! Teachers visit their pupils just once a year! In their Fact Sheet, they state, “Our students reside on cattle stations, aboriginal communities, tourist facilities, national parks and military bases ….” It is good to know that extra support is now given to indigenous children whose English may not be fluent.

Watching the teacher “on air” with her pupil.

Watching the teacher “on air” with her pupil.

Our tour showed us how this was done and … well, you’ll just have to go there. It’s an amazing concept, expertly executed, that’s all I can say. The experience left me filled with admiration. http://www.assoa.nt.edu.au/_SNAPSHOT/snapshot.html

Lastly the Flying Doctor, probably best known from the once popular TV series, more formally known as Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia where we saw a presentation, display, and film about the fantastic service this provides – again, to isolated people. It operates 24/7 from 21 bases and relies on donations for most of its funding. Some of the case studies we were told about really did bring a tear or two to my eyes; the work they do is truly “uplifting” in every sense of the word!

Yes, we saw Uluru at sunrise and we got up close and personal, yet if I am honest I was even more impressed with these three wonderful examples of human endeavour and achievement. In the afternoon we went walkabout in the baking sun, just long enough to make us realise how the early pale-skinned pioneers must’ve struggled to bear the heat.

IMG_2128

You can read more about this and other sights in my blog, Miriam’s Ramblings  and on the LoveaHappyEnding Lifestyle magazine. Thank you so much, Anneli, for letting me drop by to share with your fans this memorable morning in Alice Springs!

I am fascinated by different sorts of people and how we all live and interact with each other. I was particularly interested in anything I could find out about the indigenous Aboriginal peoples and I may write more on that topic at some future date.

You may like to take a look at my village novels – the first two, Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served, touch on the fraught relationship that can exist between Gypsies and non-Gypsies. The third one, Shades of Appley Green, explores how we relate to elderly folk in our communities. Take a look at the many 5* reviews on Amazon – on the whole, people seem to have enjoyed reading them!

My books on Amazon    http://ow.ly/sNp9F

no_gypsies_servedSCREEN3 appleycover (2) 9780955843204

Writing Styles – Part 4

My guest today is Miriam Wakerly. She has written several novels and will apply the rules to three of them here today. The challenge was to choose a few sentences to describe a main character and the setting of the novel. Then to show us a clincher used to end a chapter or section of the book.

Welcome Miriam!

e4cddf337df20a2095824e_L__V212803107_

Thank you Anneli for inviting me to your wonderful Place! I have chosen short excerpts from all three of my books that are not in the opening chapters, as anyone can peep inside on Amazon to see the first few pages. I hope they whet your appetite!

The character of Lena is taken from Gypsies Stop tHere:

9780955843204

CHARACTER:  The older face belonged to a girl, a teenager Kay guessed, who removed the brown and red scarf she had wound round her head and neck. A mane of curly, golden locks tumbled out onto her shoulders, wide eyes like polished chestnuts darting around, as if she was looking for a way out, a quick escape route.

The setting is a description of Jackson’s house, from Shades of Appley Green:

appleycover (2)

SETTING:  Faith’s jaw dropped when she saw The Hideaway with its geometry of split-level storeys and enormous windows that overlooked a vast tangle of garden. Her gaze seemed able to cut through the veil of purplish-green vegetation; dense wisteria draping the wall, with variegated ivy winding its way searchingly through it, sweet scented lilac bushes and clumps of hazy lavender competing for attention by the front porch. Minimalist it was no longer.

Lastly, the end of chapter, from No Gypsies Served:

no_gypsies_servedSCREEN3

SENTENCE(S) ENDING SCENE: Dunstan closed his eyes as tears stung them, bitterness burning inside him. His hand formed a fist as if of its own will and thumped his desk hard. He took another slug of whisky, scarcely aware of its heat as it slipped down his throat.

 
Miriam’s Ramblings:   http://www.miriamwakerly.blogspot.co.uk/
 
 
 

Shades of Appley Green

Miriam Wakerly

Miriam Wakerly

Miriam Wakerly is my first guest on this blog dedicated to authors and writing. Her first two books are about gypsies, and although the degree of warmth  in the reception of gypsies in her English villages varies, Miriam’s depiction of the social and cultural interactions is done even-handedly, without prejudice. Her novels are told truthfully, yet with empathy on all sides.

Her latest book, Shades of Appley Green, is about life and love in a small English village.

Miriam will tell us a bit about herself and let us in on some of the secrets of how she chooses her setting and her characters.

Welcome, Miriam!

Drop by for a cup of tea in Appley Green!

First of all, may I give a big thank you to Anneli for inviting me onto her beautiful blog. I am humbled by the wealth of spectacular photographs on wordsfromanneli and more recently on Anneli’s Place. Landscape is so much in the forefront of her books, it is not surprising that scenes of the natural world figure strongly, but these are really entertaining too.

I live in Surrey, England and I hope you are fond of English villages because that is where all my novels are set. My first two, Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served go together but you could read either one first. As for their theme – well, the clue is in the titles.

Appley Green is a charming English village. Everyone says so. But people are still people. With the emotional turmoil that comes with love, birth, and death, a close-knit community can harbour betrayal and guilt, as well as joy and laughter.” This is from the back cover of my third novel, Shades of Appley Green. Here’s another description from the Prologue. “Nestling quietly in a middle-England wasteland of sandy heath, Appley Green straddles the boundaries of two counties southwest of London.”

"Appley Green"

“Appley Green”

The beauty of creating your own village is that you can gather together the best features of places you know and blend them to make somewhere special, yet quite realistic: a sunny village green that is the community hub, a thriving row of small but inviting shops, a caring culture that discourages traffic. Although within easy reach of London, it is  “…a village not blighted by the throb and fumes of through-traffic.”

"Appley Green"

“Appley Green”

Do you feel tempted to go there? Perhaps sample some buns from the local bakery or browse awhile in the gift shop?

This bird lives happily ever after in Appley Green.

This bird lives happily ever after in Appley Green.

But this is just the setting. It is the people and their fascinating lives, filled with troubles and joy, that bring the village alive. I have worked in the community for real, visiting people in their homes and have seen all sides of life, including secrets often kept behind closed doors. I never borrow real people to create my characters, but a few individuals have provided inspiration. I am interested in aspects of social change and community life as well as complex family relationships and, of course, romantic love. My books are not rose-tinted but … well, perhaps read some comments from other people who have read them, rather than what the author says. Readers know best!

So what genre are my books? I think genre is becoming less easily defined with the new freedoms that authors have nowadays. They are not romance, but have a love story; they are not thrillers yet, one reviewer says, “… the kind of gripping you only normally experience with crime novels.” http://bohemiacademia.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/book-review-shades-of-appley-green.html She also uses words like “tantalising” and “cliffhanger.” Perhaps they fall into that elusive category, “literary fiction.” Another author recently helped define this to me as a book “with a message;” so maybe they are. But they are not heavy reading, they are, to use a cliché, “page-turners.”

Shall we say they are popular/literary/village/family/community/easy-reading/social-comment with love story.

Thanks for sharing your time with me. See you in Appley Green.

A  great read!

A great read!

All books are in Paperback and on Kindle

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Miriam+Wakerly

Here’s my blog www.miriamwakerly.blogspot.co.uk

Join me there too.

Shades of Appley Green is available for a few days at the special low price of $3.00 or £1.89 on Kindle.