War Diary October 1915 – Edith Cavell

It is almost one hundred years since the execution of Edith Cavell, a brave nurse from Norfolk who served in Belgium during World War One, and I am reblogging a War Diary in her honour. Scant information is given here, and the matter of fact statement about her death does nothing to give us a picture of how she must have suffered – no matter how brave she appeared – as she wrote letters to her colleagues giving instructions about domestic matters as she waited in her cell for her final moments to arrive. During her trial, Edith revealed that she had helped 200 allied soldiers to escape capture by the Germans, in the full knowledge that in doing so she ran the risk of being court-martialed and executed by firing squad which, indeed, she was at 7.00am on 12th October 1915. It is her bravery, together with that of all the other nurses and medical personnel who served in The Great War which inspired my novel A Nightingale in Winter, and I am proud to live in the same county she was born in. I shall be attending the displays and memorial activities that are to take place here in Norwich this month with great interest and a sense of pride.

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Norfolk in World War One

War Norfolk
German aircraft deployed on the Western Front

The German Fokker comes into service on the Western Front, able to fire forward through the propeller German air superiority is achieved.

Music Hall in Norwich

High Class Vaudeville entertainment comes to the Theatre Royal in Norwich as it changes name to ‘The Empire Music Hall’.

Execution of Edith Cavell

Norfolk-born nurse Edith Cavell is executed by the Germans in Brussels as a spy and for aiding escaped Allied prisoners.

New Social Housing

The master of the rolls declared open for occupation a block of residential flats in Recorder Road, Norwich. Built by Miss Ethel M. Colman and Miss Helen C. Colman, in memory of the Right Honourable James Stuart, they were built as social housing with low rents.

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A Thank You to the Heart Breakers. Ps, I used you in my book. Revenge? Me? Would I? Er…

I’m very excited today because my novel Taming Tom Jones is available to pre-order! You can get by clicking HERE, and it will appear as if by magic on your Kindle on October 2nd, which is publication day. If you haven’t got a Kindle, then please ask your Kindle-owning friends to download it, because if enough people buy the e-book, my wonderful publishers Crooked Cat Publishing will produce it as a paperback.
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Okay, enough pleading! Why should you buy it? Why should you frankly even give a fig about my book when there are all those others out there, lining the shelves, both physical and digital? Well, I suffered to write this book. Just for you. Okay, that’s not strictly true. I suffered and I learnt, but I’ve got to be honest, at the time I wasn’t thinking about you curled up on your sofa reading about it all. I was too busy living it. Which doesn’t mean that Taming Tom Jones is autobiographical at all. I’ve just drawn on the feelings I experienced at the time. Let me explain…

When I was younger, before I met the amazing man I’ve been with now for ten happy years, I had an unfortunate habit to fall for men who were commitment phobics or serial monogamists. They were all charming, attractive, funny, practically helpful, but only for a certain amount of time; then they scarpered and moved on to the next woman they’d got lined up. I’ve no idea why I was drawn to the type – maybe it’s to do with my relationship with my father or something deep like that, but I certainly don’t think I’m alone in this tendency. Women everywhere fall for charismatic, illusive types, deluding themselves that they will be the one to change them. That’s certainly what I believed with Rob the joiner, Chris the plumber, Paul the musician…

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Er.. hmm, maybe I’ll stop there, to avoid getting a reputation. Gosh, I certainly went for the practical types, didn’t I? All those talents. To a man, these guys showed their feelings by doing things for me – making shelves, repairing fireplaces, singing me songs, instead of telling me how they felt. And just as soon as they felt in the least bit moved to actually putting anything into words, they were off to pastures new.

So what, you may ask, has all this to do with Taming Tom Jones? Well, Michael is my heroine Jen’s partner – the man she adores, and the man yes, you’ve guessed it, she fears is about to move on to someone new. He’s never stayed in a relationship for more than four years, and their four year anniversary is fast approaching. And she’s got some news for him which he might not like…

Jen goes to some extreme lengths to try to save their relationship, which is more than I did. I wish I’d had her nerve when I was on the receiving end of all those rejections. I sobbed and languished and got mopped up by the friends I was fortunate enough to have; friends, incidentally, who are nothing like Jen’s best friends – Marcia, a spiky school friend who believes in tough love and saying it how it is, and Hannah, Jen’s almost mother-in-law from a previous relationship. Marcia and Hannah aid and abet Jen as she embarks on a quest which takes her as far afield as North Norfolk and Cuba to investigate Michael’s past relationships. If she can find out why they failed, maybe she can stop the same thing happening to them?

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But is it ever a good idea to track down your partner’s exes? And why do all Michael’s relationships break up? What’s the big secret he’s hiding?

Pre-order Taming Tom Jones now to find out!
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Smashwords

And here’s your invitation to the online launch party – do join us! The more the merrier!
JOIN THE FUN-FILLED ONLINE LAUNCH PARTY FOR TAMING TOM JONES – 2 OCTOBER!

Cheers! And Rob, Chris, Paul and all the others… I suppose I should say thank you. Without you, here might be no book!

Margaret X

Helping With Writer’s Block

I was in the newspaper last Saturday – here’s the piece that appeared. It’s the story of how I wrote my forthcoming novel, A Nightingale in Winter, which languished in an attic for sixteen years. I’m putting my experience of overcoming writer’s block to good use in a face-to-face course soon, and in the future I intend to make this into an e-course. If this is something that interests you, sign up to my mailing list or email me at margaretkjohnsonauthor@gmail.com for more information.
————————————————————————————————————————————–Norwich author to use her own experience to help others with writer’s block

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To help writers find their flow, Margaret Johnson has launched the Fiction Writing – Moving Forward course, which will run for ten weeks starting in September.It comes on the back of her own experience after her latest novel, A Nightingale in Winter, was left languishing in her attic for 16 years before she finally decided to put the finishing touches to it.

The course is aimed at those who have an idea for a story or novel but don’t know how to get started, or for those who have already made a start but are now feeling stuck.

Mrs Johnson said: “It took me two years to write the book on top of having a job at a college in Nottingham. I did a great deal of research for it, including going to the Imperial War Museum in London to read original diaries and letters.

“I ended up writing two versions of the story and thoroughly confused myself.

“But with increased experience, I could see exactly what I needed to change to make it work.

“I did not decide to try and publish it until 16 years later – but happily it was quickly accepted by Omnific Publishing.

“I know all about the fears and doubts that can plague aspiring writers and always try to include an element of writing confidence building in the creative writing courses.”

The course will help students to work on their plot and story outline, decide on their story theme, heighten conflict to add interest, decide on the best ending for their story and more.

Mrs Johnson also writes contemporary women’s fiction and fiction for people who are learning to speak English.

Fiction Writing – Moving Forward, will run for ten weeks from 7pm to 9pm, from September 17 at Oak Grove Chapel, Catton Grove Road, Norwich.

To book your place email Mrs Johnson at margaretkjohnsonauthor@gmail.com.

A Nightingale in Winter will be published in paperback and e-book form by Omnific Publishing on August 24 and is available to pre-order on Amazon now.

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Fiction Writing Lessons

My students move me; they really do. And inspire me. At every new class they arrive, feeling nervous and uncertain about what to expect, and by the end of the first lesson they’ve written something amazing and shared it with the group. I love that; that I’ve been instrumental in some small way in helping them to expand their comfort zones and to discover the joy of expressing themselves through the written word.
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On the surface, my students may seem to have many different motivations for enrolling on a writing class. Obviously lots have always wanted to write and just want to increase their skills and knowledge, but there are others who also want to use writing to help get over a past trauma, or to look for escape from illness – either their own or a loved one’s, or to pass on the experience of their lives to posterity. Some find writing an isolated business and want to meet like-minded people, and others are challenging themselves to do something different – something they find a bit scary.

So, what with age and sex differences thrown into the mix, my students are a pretty varied bunch. But as they work on their writing together, they quickly form strong bonds and any differences are swept aside. And I love that. In fact this type of situation – where a group of disparate people comes together and bonds due to a common cause – was the inspiration for both my novels The Goddess Workshop and The Dare Club. But if I ever wanted to write a third novel in the series called The Writing Class, I’d have to invent some conflict to make the novel interesting!

When I finished art college ages ago, some of my friends went into teaching art and rarely picked up a paint brush again. It was as if the act of instruction drained the creativity out of them so they had nothing left for their own work. It was something I was a bit wary of myself when I decided to launch my courses, because I knew I definitely didn’t want to give up writing. But I needn’t have worried. As I’ve worked out writing exercises to help students learn, I’ve gained greater clarity myself. For example, a lesson I taught about theme in stories really made me pinpoint those themes in my own books. How surprised I was to find that two of my novels – The Goddess Workshop, about a group of women attempting to become more sensual, and A Nightingale in Winter, (to be published on 7 July by Omnific Publishing) a story about a volunteer nurse in the First World War, share the same theme! It’s there too with the character of Michael in my novel Taming Tom Jones, which has recently been accepted by the wonderful Crooked Cat Publishing. How different these books are to each other on the face of it And yet the theme of You can’t move forward in your life and really fulfil your potential until you’ve dealt with the issues of your past”  runs through them all like the lettering in a stick of rock.

At the moment I’m eagerly waiting for a first sight of the book covers for A Nightingale in Winter andTaming Tom Jones. But here’s a photo I had taken for Nightingale which expresses the feel of the book, together with the cover of The Goddess Workshop. You can see how different they are on the face of it. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find the similarities.

A bit like my students!

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What will the cover of Taming Tom Jones be like? I can’t wait to find out!!!
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Consulting an Oracle to help with decision-making

Do you ever wish you could consult an oracle when you need reassurance that you’re on the right path in your life?

Back in my single, childless days when I lacked confidence and was pretty much drifting and dreaming my way through life, I used to frequently consult the I Ching , the ancient Chinese book of changes, when I had a question about my life. Hundreds of years ago, people consulting the I Ching threw yarrow sticks, but my book suggested throwing three coins six times, the combination of the heads and tails making a pattern or hexagram.

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Coins thrown, I would read the relevant page in the book for that hexagram, trying to interpret the poetic language that described the answer to my question. Almost invariably the ancient, translated words felt uncannily wise and right, if only because they helped me to tap into my intuition and gut reactions.

Recently, an article in The Guardian newspaper reported that the actor Mark Rylance had consulted the I Ching in 1987 in order to decide between working with Stephen Spielberg or at The National Theatre. Quite a decision to have to make, eh? He chose the theatre, and has done very well for himself. I’d forgotten all about the I Ching until I read the article, but now I clicked a link in the piece which took me to an I Ching Website. No need to even throw coins these days, let alone yarrow sticks, whatever they are!

I posed my question: “What is the best way to proceed with my business?” The judgment was instantaneous and, thankfully, encouraging.

This blog is moving!! To read the rest of this post, please go to:

http://www.margaretkjohnson.co.uk/blog/consulting-an-oracle-to-make-decisions While you’re there, why not subscribe to receive an email whenever I post on my blog? It would be lovely to have you!

Cheers!

Secret Millionaire by Kitty Alexander

This morning I woke up  find this fabulous 5 star review for Secret Millionaire, a romance novel written by my alter ego, Kitty Alexander. I’m feeling over the moon this morning! It makes me so grateful to all the book bloggers out there – and in particular Ali from the A Woman’s Wisdom blog – for all the time they put in reading and reviewing books in order to help indie writers and to let readers know about books. What would we do without them?