Thursday, 24 July 2014
Unraveled Visions, the second novel in my Shaman Mystery Series, has had a great review from RT Book Reviews.
Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Story arcs that run parallel get an inquisitive
Sabbie in and out of danger in this exciting
Shaman Mystery series. Eerie visions
that appear during one of her sessions
continue to haunt as the thrilling tale
progresses, even though some lead her in
The wrong direction
On a lark, shaman Sabbie Dare has her
fortune read by a seer at a local carnival.
There are some frightening images and
shortly thereafter, The clairvoyant vanishes.
At the request of the woman’s sister,
Sabbie looks into the disappearance – much
to the dismay of Detective Inspector Rey Buckley.
She’s also heading the pleas of her neighbor,
whose wife has been swept into a cult where the
leader has several wives and even more secrets.
When the seer is found, there’s a
link to a body, with startling results.
(MIDNIGHT INK Sep, 456pp $14.99)
Donna M Brown
Saturday, 12 July 2014
The Crime Readers' Association is the reading arm of the Crime Writers' Association, of which I'm a member. They have just published a blog post by me about the subject matter of my novels;
You can read the full article at;
You can read the full article at;
Wednesday, 9 July 2014
Saturday, 21 June 2014
UNRAVELED VISIONS, my second Shaman Mystery novel from Midnight Ink (http://www.midnightinkbooks.com/author.php?author_id=5509) will be released in the US in August, price $14.99, and will be launched in UK in November, price £12.99, but you can order the book now on Amazon with free delivery for a reduced price of £10.52, so you might want to strike while the iron is hot, especially if, like Janette Davies you couldn't put In the Moors down. I received a letter from this reader, saying...
Over the last 2 years have found it so hard to get a good book. I read yours in less than two days...A compelling read, beautifully written; memorable...
And this in an email from Celtic Writer Mara Freeman (Kindling the Celtic Spirit, Grail Alchemy) ...
A real page-turner, In the Moors cost me several hours of sleep because it was so un-put-downable! An engaging heroine, a landscape at once so real and so menacing, and an intriguing mystery had me enthralled into the wee hours!
to buy Unraveled Visions.
UNRAVELED VISIONS is now being printed ready for distribution, so we can reveal the back cover blurb!
Journey into Darkness
The day after shamanic counselor Sabbie Dare receives a palm reading at a street carnival, she learns that a police detective has been killed and the gypsy fortuneteller has gone missing. Sabbie’s newest client—a scared woman with an angry husband—has also disappeared. Despite warnings from Detective Inspector Rey Buckley to stay away from the investigations, Sabbie can’t ignore the messages of danger she’s received through her shamanic journeys. But as close as she comes to the answers, Sabbiediscovers there are people who want to keep the truth buried forever.
Praise for In the Moors:
“Sabbie Dare is the most compelling protagonist I’ve met this year . . . Milton’s tale is riveting.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“A fast-moving thriller likely to draw in readers.”—Kirkus Reviews
The front cover is a real tease for the prospective reader; it shows two arms, enwtined with a silken braid in three colours; green, brown and white...green for live, brown for the earth and white for the spirit world.
One of the arms in the photo belongs to Sabbie Dare, therapeutic shaman, and the other is Bulgarian Roma Mirela Brouviche, one of Sabbie's clients. The silken cord is the shaman’s way of linking shamanic journeys into the otherworld – when attached to a client in such a way, the shaman can more easily find their way to a client’s otherworld spirits and landscape.
Friday, 13 June 2014
A Workshop from Nina Milton in Pembrokeshire, Wales
To book for this workshop go to
to find the location Ty Solar Rhosygilwen Mansion, Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire, SA43 2TW, United Kingdom go to http://retreat.co.uk/about-rhosygilwen
Thursday, 5 June 2014
Huge congratulations to Eimear McBride, who has just won the Baileys Prize for women writers with her first novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, which I reviewed in my last post; http://kitchentablewriters.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/magee-and-mcbridethe-baileys-women.html?showComment=1400179251690
I take my writer's cap off to her, while midly celebrating a nice boost of news on the novel front for me; one of my books has been shortlisted for the Hookline Novel Competition. This is what Hookline say about their publishing house;
At Hookline Books all our novels are chosen for publication by book groups from around the UK.
Manuscripts come from students and graduates of MA writing courses. They submit the first three chapters, reading groups create a short list of interesting work, and those writers submit their complete manuscripts for book group review.
We publish the works that book groups endorse as well-written and engaging.
Hookline Novel Competition 2014
Victoria Delderfield, Lancaster
Dinna Rippon, Oxford
Nina Milton, Bath Spa
Julie Taylor, MMU
Charlotte Thompson, Portsmouth
Manuscripts will be with book groups by mid-July.
My novel, Every Stolen Child, is a piece of contemporary fiction, which makes a change from the crime novels I've been writing.
Here's a taster of what the novel is about;
Barbara Campbell left her home for university and never returned to her family. She’d felt like a captive, expected to care for her sick mother by a father that didn’t appreciate or understands her ambitions.
Now, at twenty-six, she’s sure she’s gained everything she’d dreamed of through her own efforts; a profession she's proud of and a partner who can supply her with every financial and sexual wish. But under the surface, all is not well. Otto, an art dealer twenty-five years older than Barbara, is often unfaithful to her. He insists on calling her his ‘live in lover’ and sometimes his sexual fantasies unnerve her. And Team Manage, William is a bully, stripping her of her confidence to do her job.
At work, she’s the rookie in a social worker team and finds it emotionally difficult to deal with children who are mistreated, like Karen Liptrot’s toddler, or abandoned, like Baby Skippy. Barbara is increasingly aware of the loathing the public has for social workers – she’s threatened with rape when she goes in search of a missing baby and has already had to cope with angry parents and face the press over issues she’s still unsure of tackling,
An emergency visit to a high-rise brings her face-to-face with the sister she hasn’t seen for seven years. The grown-up Lucy Lou casts a spell over her until she’s entangled with her family again. Then they reveal a truth to her that shocks her core. Everything she values begins to desert her and she drops down into a dark place of fairytale and magic…
My inspiration for this story came from re-reading the WB Yeats poem The Stolen Child;
|Thank to a great blogsite for this illustration;|
do go over to the site to read an analysis of the poem
and hear Loreena McKennit sing her version on video
Extract - Every Stolen Child
Suddenly, she was surrounded by women. The points of their toes and the heels of their shoes laid into her. A girl dragged her nails across her face. An older woman grasped her ears and yanked. They were so close, their faces blurred. Her eyes were filling up. Not tears; they watered from the waves of stinging pain.
Barbara tried to get her hands to her head, to protect herself. But the woman was treating her ears like they were holes in a bowling ball. Barbara felt herself flying backwards. Her scull rammed into the wall. Light and pain exploded in her head. She heard a screech. It was her own cry of pain. A fog came up around her. There was blackness, and in that blackness she felt her bones turn to gelatine. She slid down the wall, down on to the damp, fag-strewn pavement.
Karen Liptrot towered over her, grown massive with vengeance. She thrust the toe of her dull white trainer into Barbara’s stomach. ‘That’s for our Mandy,’ she screamed. Her trainer was a piston, finding its target time after time. ‘She ain’t a baby to you! She ain’t a little girl! She ain’t someone you cries at night over! She’s a S.O.P.’
The cry echoed around her – S.O.P! S.O.P! S.O.P! It became distorted and faded. For longs seconds, a red humming was all Barbara had left of consciousness. That and the slaps and scratches, the spitting and the sharp, small fists.
Her belly came into her mouth. Its contents, the lunch sandwich and the milky breakfast coffee, came up onto the pavement.
She was the one – the one they’d make do with, at least – the one that had taken all their children, or threatened to take them. She was their dream come true.
For more information about the Hookline Novel Prize, go to;
Saturday, 10 May 2014
Magee and McBride. Both women writers. Both with first novels. Both Irish. Both shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014.
Although Audrey Maggee and Eimear McBride are different writers, with fiction that stands at extreme poles in the use of language, I don’t think either can help but be influenced by the long shadow of James Joyce.
Audrey Magee is a journalist, and choses to bring a journalistic style to her first novel, The Undertaking. Magee says she’d been brewing a novel about Germany in the war since she studied in Germany and went to view a concentration camp with a Jewish acquaintance. She says she wanted to understand the war itself, and how people get caught up in war. And the title she’s chosen perfectly describes both the personal story in the book, and the setting she’s chosen for it; the advance on Stalingrad.
She says she met the aged ‘protagonist’ to her first novel in the restaurant he ran. He told her the story of how he’d married a photograph of his bride in a ceremony carried out by an army chaplain. The purpose of the marriage was to secure the leave for the groom and a widow's pension for the bride.
In the book, Peter Faber marries Katherina Spinell and gets his leave. He is introduced to her father’s Nazi friend, Dr Weinart, who brings chocolate cream cake baked ‘by one of the Fuehrer's bakers’. Peter spends his honeymoon evenings beating up Jews and pushing then into the waiting trucks, and his nights making love to his new wife.
Magee says her decision to write in a taut, understated style was deliberate because she likes that sort of reading but also, as this new generation engages with the past, looked for a fresh way to explore the 2nd WW...and what it felt like to be a German at that time.
What she achieves is to create emotion in her reader without being emotional at all on the page. I found the darkness and the dry, bleak tone disconcerting, even frightening.
A considerable section of The Undertaking follows the advance of the German Eastern front towards Stalingrad. We see the siege through Peter’s eyes; starvation and disease and finally surrender – he has to carefully argue through the act before he can give himself up.
In the meantime, Katherina’s brother dies when he returns to the front still plagued by his battle fatigue, and their mother sinks into a deep depression, fuelled by the eventual discovery that her son-in-law has escaped death by surrendering. At home, the raids on Berlin lower the fortunes of the Spinell family, which had been increased by the removal of Berlin’s Jews to the camps. Katherina and Peter’s child dies of meningitis and, as Russia takes over their part of the city, she is raped.
This brings us to the ending, which was the only part of the novel I didn’t enjoy. I felt it was rushed and poorly thought through. I won’t spoil it for you, it’s enough to say that, in the body of the novel, the failure to explore the emotions of the characters – or rather the technique of exploring them only by reportage and dialogue – works well, bringing an honesty to the writing and reflecting the emotionless way the Jews of Berlin are dealt with…’Bloody thieves, the lot of them,’ says Katherina’s mother when she discovers the Jewish-owned apartment they move into is bereft of jewellery. ‘They swallow it, you know. To hide it from us.’ But this lack of emotion doesn’t work at the close of the novel. I needed to see what the parties were thinking, and without the technique of interior monologue, there was no doing that. So we are left with decisions that felt weakened by our lack of participation in them.
Although Eimear McBride is English, (she was born in Liverpool but moved to Ireland when she was tiny, growing up in Sligo and Mayo), she approaches being under Joyce’s shadow in a very different way. She says Joyce “pointed the way for her”, and that there is still plenty of room left in modernism (at least I hope so, she admits.) Her book won the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize for fiction as well as being on the shortlist for the Bailey Prize.
As a writer, she approaches her techniques by using audaciously radical and challenging language. Certainly, this must be the most ambitious and furthest reaching piece of stream of consciousness that has been attempted recently, notwithstanding Ali Smith’s contributions. She says she felt there were areas of language, especially writing in a stream of consciousness, that hadn’t been explored, for instance by taking a step back from consciousness, to the moment when thoughts are conceptualized…or even before they are;
Feel the roast of it. Like sunburn. Like a hot sunstroke. Like globs dropping in. Through my hair. Spat skin with it. Blank my eyes the dazzle. Huge shatter. Me who is just new. Fallen out of the sky. What.
This allows the emotion to hit you slightly after the physical reaction hits you, making the read a physical experience. Being brought right into the narrator’s mind is, however, a disjointing, sickening and often frightening experience. McBride’s subject matter is harrowing, even if her plot is simple, almost derivative – a child watches her slightly older brother succumb slowly to brain cancer, while she explores, via rape and family abuse, her growing sexuality But the rhythm of the language is simply something else...it drags you in like a Wagner aria, so that you both love and hate what you’re reading at the same tine.
to hear the interview with McBride
The title is equally interesting as in Magge’s work, for A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing describes both the extravagant, disconcerting, jumbled-up language and the way the pace is broken over and over again, as well as the broken life of the protagonist. This amazing rhythm allows you to do an incredible thing....understand exactly what is being said.
One of the most interesting things about this first novel is that it was written almost a decade ago. Unsurprisingly, it was rejected by publisher after publisher, until the Galley Beggar Press took it up. These small, independent publishing houses are bringing us some of the best works around; I’d cite Jane Rogers, whose The Testament of Jessie Lamb, which was taken up by Standstone Press and went on to win prizes.
I want my students to read both books and compare them; ask how they as readers they react to the experiences provided, what go on to ask how the writers achieved these outcomes, because both these original novels do surprising things with our emotions, and are examples of truly exceptional first books.
Thursday, 8 May 2014
The summer of '14...a summer of events. I have talks, appearances, workshops and events to announce.
MEET THE DRUID AUTHORS
In June, I’m in Glastonbury, as part of the Golden 50th
Anniversary of the Druid Order - OBOD. http://www.druidry.org/. This is a four day event, From 6th to 9th of June. As part of this, on Monday 9th of June at 1pm, I am hosting a MEET THE AUTHORS event in the Avalon Room on the High Street, Glastonbury; a chance to hear from a panel of published druid authors and find out about successful writing and some avenues for publication. https://twitter.com/Druidry
PENFRO LITERARY FESTIVAL
I’m also at PENFRO LITERARY FESTIVAL this year, this is always held at Rosygilwent in Pembrokeshire; http://retreat.co.uk/about-rhosygilwen
I’m running one of the Saturday Workshops on Saturday 13th September. There will be a a wide range of workshops on offer and the opportunity to meet and exchange experiences with writers of all genres. On Sunday I’ll be at the Book Fair, with other local writers, illustrators and publishers, On Saturday evening, starting at 8pm Penfro have a very special event indeed. – the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, together with the Chaired and Crowned Welsh Bard, Ceri Wyn Jones, reading their poetry. Other events confirmed include: Mererid Hopwood on 'The Eisteddfod Chair and Bardic Crown.'; David Llewellyn on 'Searching for Nuggets' – finding a gem among unsolicited mss; David Wilson on 'Landscape Photography in Black and White'; a Welsh language children's event; and David Seer on 'The Life and Writing of John Seymour' Go to http://penfrobookfestival.org.uk/this-year-s-penfro-festival
Wells Literary Festival!
The afternoon of Sunday 12th of October is when the winners of the Wells Short Story, Novel Writing and Poetry Competition Prizes are announced and presented with their prizes; I’ll be there to give a talk.
The festival is packed with amazing names, so why not come for the day and enjoy the buzzing literary atmosphere.
Sunday, 13 April 2014
Our group has been tagged by on her Kitchen Table Writers blog () to answer questions about our writing process. So we’re going to take turns to reveal at least some of our writing secrets. First up is . go to
to read much more...