Thanks for a great review Dr Benjamin…

Terrible With Raisins – the latest plaudit – on Amazon.com:

Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Well told, Lynne., May 12, 2016
Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Terrible With Raisins (Paperback)
A complete surprise in a must read book. I picked this book up as a favour. In no time at all, I morphed from interested via hooked to engrossed. I didn’t put it down.
The characters came alive, they became likeable and so believable. The plot rattles along at a fair lick- different places and different times. Lynne handles this superbly, you never have to wonder where you are.
Lynne writes in the style I associate with women writers, her’s is a world seen through an authoress’ eyes. And Lynne does this superbly.
I can only repeat, so I will repeat; a surprisingly good book that you cannot put down.
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Cover Wars – We won!

Many thanks to everyone who voted for the Terrible With Raisins cover in the Author Shout website Cover Wars. We won, apparently, although there has been no notification, just a thumbnail saying TWR is book of the week. See here

More importantly, this is Joanna Cardwell who designed the cover. Sadly, she lost her life last December after an extraordinarily brave stand off with cancer, marrying her long term partner, Steve, from her hospital bed and putting up FaceBook posts full of hope. Thank you, Joanna – I’ll never forget you, your great talent – or your patience with a neurotic author.Joanna Cardwell

Joanna Cardwell

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Cover Wars!

No, not a successor to Game of Thrones but a competition for authors’ novel covers – and Terrible with Raisins is a competitor this week… 23 – 30 April 2016.

If you would care to, I’d appreciate your vote. Just click on Cover Wars! , scroll down and vote for TWR. As we speak (12 noon, 25 April), in the lead with 30.14% of the vote!

The cover of Terrible With Raisins was designed by the late Joanna Cardwell – a wonderful graphic artist taken from us last December, years before her time.

Terrible with Raisins cover front only

Posted in Contemporary Women's Fiction, Design, Humour, Writing | Leave a comment

Thanks to Arwin Blue for a great review of Terrible With Raisins

Many thanks to Arwin Blue for taking the time to read TWR and for such an enthusiastic review…
Read Arwin Blue’s review

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Of pubs – and Covent Garden – and backstage – and first love….

I’ve just entered a new short story in a competition and for it delved into memories of very early days working backstage in London’s West End. I am actually old enough to remember the old Covent Garden when it was a fruit, veg and flower market. Looking back, it’s a rich and fascinating resource. Many market porters would work the theatre shows as stage crew, then go on to do their portering jobs at the market. The pubs around there and the other markets – Smithfield (meat) and Billingsgate (fish) – had special overnight licences to accommodate porters, traders and buyers. A clever – or dedicated – person could drink 24 for hours in and around London if he / she knew the right places to go. As a novice properties assistant, I was taken ‘under the wing’ of a few of these wily fellows and taught to drink. So committed were they that they’d slip out to the pub between scene changes. One or two pubs even had a bell in the bar to warn of imminent curtain fall. Sir Ralph Richardson, then appearing in ‘Lloyd George Knew My Father’ at The Savoy Theatre once cut half a page of dialogue and caught us out, imbibing upstairs in The Coal Hole. We were threatened with sacking for missing the scene change, shamed and grounded for the foreseeable future (but, by degrees, crept back into our old ways).

Several years ago (many, in fact, having just checked dates), I looked in at The Coal Hole to see whether it had changed. It was a little more plastic and ‘foody’ than it had been in the early seventies. But my attention was immediately taken by a distinguished drinker sat like royalty amongst an audience of admirers; holding court there in the venue of my former disgrace was the famous, charismatic Richard Harris. He looked as though he’d just walked off the set of Harry Potter with his long silver hair splayed around his shoulders (he was, of course, the first screen Albus Dumbledore). What a loss he is to the worlds of film, theatre and alcohol.


Coal Hole interior 1

At the side of The Coal Hole is a flight of stone steps that leads to the Stage Door of The Savoy Theatre. It was down these that my dipsomaniac colleagues and I pounded to catch curtain cue then climbed after the show to spread our custom fairly to the other Covent Garden pubs.

Coal Hole 1

And it was on those stone steps that I shared the first kiss with my first – and desperately unsuitable – love. Who knew that I would go on to experience so much and learn so little?

Happy Days. Isn’t that the name of a play…..?

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Nothing to shout about

Went to see The Crucible at Bristol Old Vic on Saturday (10th October) – my first visit there for some years. The Crucible is a play I know very well, having directed a schools’ production of it for Theatre About Glasgow (The Citizens’ Theatre) in 1978. My research on it formed most of what I know about Senator McCarthy’s reign of terror, the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, how Hollywood became involved, which stars named names to save their skin and which refused. Since then, I have found it very difficult to watch a John Wayne movie. I contacted Larry Adler (who was pressurised to name names and fled to Europe) who was very helpful to a naive, young director highlighting the contrasting ethics of the era.

http://www.bristololdvic.org.uk/thecrucible.html

I have fond memories of working in Glasgow, the exciting rehearsal period and the great actors in the production – Rita Adam remains a friend. I had learnt about the journeys the writer, the story, the play, the actors and, most importantly, the audience take; although related they are never exactly the same. Like any journey, they must have a start point, they need to progress through light and dark, crisis and fulfilment, always working on the imagination of all participants towards their culmination.

At The Bristol Old Vic, Director Tom Morris made the most profound directorial mistake by allowing the play, the actors and the audience nowhere to go. They started by shouting and shouted throughout. I felt for the actors’ voices, for the audience’s ears and, yes, for Arthur Miller’s play. Unfortunately, the programmes had not turned up so playgoers were denied putting actor’s name to character.

Kika Markham, that experienced and well-respected actor, was unmistakable playing Rebecca Nurse. She did her best to rein in the extreme emotion demanded throughout but could do only so much to make sense of the cacophony. The only other actor I recognised was Jeffery Kissoon, whom I knew from Young Vic Days, playing Deputy-Governor Danforth. I have looked at the video on the BOV website since then; it shows  actors of thought and ability who surely deserved a better path – or stage – to tread. I particularly liked the actors playing Reverend Hale (Daniel Weyman), John Proctor (Dean Lennox Kelly) and Elizabeth Proctor (Neve McIntosh), Abigail Williams (Rona Morison) and Mary Warren (name not mentioned) whom, in the video, talk about their characters with emotional insight.

The sets were sparse but stylishly conceived and the backing of live greenery lent atmosphere and authenticity to the play’s location and period; costumes were perfectly in keeping with the austere, practical lives of the characters (both designed byRobert Innes Hopkins), with well-conceived lighting (Richard Howell) giving mood and focus. Some wonderful choral work composed by Dave Price and sung by the cast lifted the evening to a level beyond the poor execution of the play itself and did much to salvage the production.

I heard question about certain characters other than the freed slave Tituba being played by black actors (Judge Danforth, Reverend Parris and Francis Nurse) whose casting was occasionally at odds with the character they played. Casting by merit clearly overruled historic authenticity. There are frequent references to ‘the Barbadoes’ religion and Tituba’s cultural difference to the other characters and the period (early 17th Century) was one when the difference between black and white was stark. Was it confusing to those seeing the play for the first time? I can’t answer. We know that most of the settlers in that area were protestants / dissenters from the South West of England and yet Scottish accents abounded in the production. It was a historical possibility and didn’t bother me (nor did it in my production all those years ago).

Other than that, I have to say yes, it did make me want to get back into that rehearsal room, if only to give the actors – and the audience, some relief.

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Writer challenge: Pride comes before a fall. Up to 300 words.

I am to have an operation shortly and went to the pre-op. assessment recently. The nurse conducting it remarked on the coincidence that we both had the same birthday. “Not the same year, too?” I asked. “Oh no, I’m five years younger than you”. OK, fair enough. Then going down my notes she came to my profession; I’d put ‘tutor / writer’. “Oh! You’re a writer. Have you had anything published?”. I still love this bit. “Yes,” I replied, “my first book was published in 2013 and I’m working on the second.” “Well done!” said the nurse (for her sake, she will remain anonymous), “you must be very proud.” Now, because I’m British and female, I can’t take a compliment and, worse, I have a slight case of OCD that obliges me to be to be absolutely, totally honest. So, I confessed. “Well, actually, I self-published.” “Never mind,” said nursey, “at least you got it out there”. I thanked her. After a brief pause, she continued, “My daughter’s a writer, too. She went to some event and a publisher rang up afterwards saying they liked her work. They’ve published three of her books now and she’s writing the fourth. And they’re flying her out to California to discuss the film rights. I just don’t know where she finds the time because she’s a psychiatrist, really”. A minute or so later, she took my blood pressure. “Whooo! Your blood pressure’s a bit high!” (Yes, I’m sure you, dear reader, wonder why that was, too.) But the assassination of my self-worth wasn’t finished. “I expect you were frightened of the machine,” she said, smiling.

I have spent the days since sticking my ego back together. Anyone got any super-glue? (I’d probably feel better if I sniffed it.)

295 words. Hooray! (You see? OCD) Oops!) (301 – now 302, now…)

Posted in Contemporary Women's Fiction, Humour, Life on the edge, Personal, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment