Blog, Christmas

Happy Christmas, Everyone

I’m taking a break now until the New Year. I hope this message finds you well, and that you’ll be spending the holidays with those you love.

Winter Jasmine

As we’ve passed the shortest day (December 21st), the days will soon start lengthening again. It’s been so damp and gloomy here in Gloucestershire over the past few days, spring seems a long way off. I took these photographs this morning, to cheer myself up!

This time last year we were all in such a dark place I created my Instant Lift page to try and raise everybody’s spirits. Reading about the way the seasons change, slowly but surely, is reassuring in this time of continuing Covid.

Viburnum

Not everyone finds this The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. If you’re happy, please reach out to someone who may be struggling.

If you’re not okay, don’t suffer in silence. Try these links: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/, https://www.samaritans.org/, and https://www.trusselltrust.org/

Wishing you a safe, peaceful Christmas and a good New Year, full of opportunities.

Love, Christina

Blog, Christmas, Writing

Christmas Wishes…

2020 has been quite a year. I’m really looking forward to January 1st, as I’m convinced 2021 is going to be a whole lot better than the twelve months that have just gone by.

To kick off the New Year, I’ll be starting a new series on writing. During my studies at the University of Gloucestershire, I discovered that getting my feelings down in words really helped my mental health. Like everyone else I hate lockdown, and writing helps me process negative feelings.

Expressing yourself in words is useful in another way, too. In the future when social distancing is a distant memory, records of how we coped during the pandemic will help future generations deal with whatever life throws at them. In the same way we look back with fascination on the stories of people who lived through the Second World War, post-Covid readers and researchers will be glad we took the time to write down the details of our daily life.

My new series will give you the confidence to write whatever you like— whether it’s for pleasure, posterity or profit—so if there’s anything about the art and craft of creative writing you’d like to see covered, post a comment below

Amazon, Blog, Christmas

Heritage: New Writing VIII Is Here!

It’s official—Heritage: New Writing VIII, the 2019 collection of new writing by students, alumni and friends of the University of Gloucestershire—is now available on Amazon. Packed full of short stories, poetry and illustrations, Heritage is the perfect Christmas present for bookworms, and anyone who loves the county of Gloucestershire. Click on the box below to make sure you get your copy—stocks are limited, so buy yours now!

We had so many submissions of quality that we couldn’t squeeze them all in, but with two hundred pages containing fifty-eight pieces of quality work, Heritage represents stunning value for money at only £8.99. As joint managing director (together with Chris Davies) of the anthology project I’m not allowed to have favourites—that’s a good thing, as it would be impossible to choose—although as a writer I felt every word Joyce Grant wrote in her piece The Urge!

I’m really proud to have been part of the Heritage production team. You can find out who we are, and how we all worked together to create the 2019 anthology, here.

And to get your very own copy of Heritage, click here

Blog, Christmas

Six Ways To Beat Loneliness This Christmas…

1. Donate your time

Take a bag of non-perishable items to your local homeless shelter or food bank. Scented soap and other simple toiletries are a luxury when you’re in need.

2. Visit a neighbour

Invite them into your home if they would otherwise be alone. The worst that can happen is that they say ‘no’—and they may have been waiting for someone like you to make the first move.

3. Go for a walk 

Fresh air and exercise makes everyone feel better. And you never know who you might meet when you’re out and about. This is Alex!

4. Take up a craft 

Keeping your hands and mind busy with baking or other crafts produces useful results. One of the trees in our Christmas tree festival was decorated from top to bottom with delicate snowflakes crocheted in fine thread. It looked stunning.

5. Gardening

Even in mid-winter you can grow micro greens, cress and sprouting seeds on your windowsill. Within a week or two you’ll be harvesting your own salads and sandwich fillings

6. Feed the Birds

A windowsill feeder will bring life and movement close. Commercial feed mixes, fat balls, small amounts of finely grated cheese and well soaked, chopped raisins are all good.

Whether you are spending Christmas alone or with family and friends, I hope you have a lovely time. What will you be doing this year? Let me know by leaving a comment below!


Christmas, cover art, Highland Hideaway, novella, Struggle and Suffrage: Women's Lives In Bristol 1850-1950

Christmas Won’t Start Here Until Advent Sunday, But…

Pic #1

Phew, where has this year gone? I promised myself I’d self-publish a Christmas novella last year. It was all ready to go, then my mother fell ill. Everything else was on hold after that.

…the same can’t be said for working on Christmas stories. Magazines need copy in midsummer. The biggest publishers schedule their book releases over a year ahead. Independents and self-publishers have more leeway, but Christmas books released in October can build up plenty of momentum before the Christmas-book-buying-market hits the floor on December 26th.

Since January I’ve been working so hard on my non-fiction project for Pen and Sword Books, Struggle and Suffrage: Women’s Lives In Bristol 1850-1950, today is the first chance I’ve had to look up from my keyboard.

I might be able to manage a release in time for Christmas, but doing anything in a rush is never a good idea, is it? My Christmas novella Highland Hideaway is practically finished, but it still needs editing, and a cover. Both those things take time.

Pic #2

I’m still adding bits to, and amending, the final manuscript for Struggle…  so I’m concentrating on every word, dot and comma of that book at the moment.

I love the autumn It would be a relief to send Highland Hideaway away for editing, instead. Then I can take my time to find a cover design.

The top picture accompanying this blog isn’t romantic, but I came across it while I was combing through Pixabay. Isn’t it stunning? It reminds me of when I lived in Somerset.

Barn owls love the farmland there. We only get Tawny owls among our Gloucestershire trees.

Pic #3

The second and third photos are more suitable for a romantic novella, but they’ll need some work before they’re can become book covers. Highland Hideaway is about a city girl who is marooned in a blizzard with a notoriously tough and uncompromising wildlife photographer. You’ll never guess what happens…although there are a few dramas, twists and turns along the way.

Which of the pictures do you think would make the better cover, and why? There’s a book from my backlist on offer for a comment picked at random on 1st November!