Avalon Graphics send Holiday Cheer

Wishing everyone at NWUK Bright Blessings in the New Year!

May you have the spirit of Christmas which is peace, the gladness of Christmas which is hope and the heart of Christmas which is love.

 In celebration of the holidays and in reflection back on a splendid 2011 - I've created this video presentation that I wish to share with all of you:

Thank you to all of you for making 2011 a banner year for me. And I look forward to our continued creative collaborations in the new year.
All the best!
Cathy Helms
Graphic Designer ~ Avalon Graphics

High Resolution video:
Low Resolution for slower connections:


Michael J Smedley reviews Narrow Marsh

by A.R. Dance

History is not my strongest subject.  Trying to remember all those dates never worked for me.  1066 and 1812 are the only memorable dates that stick in my mind: the latter one because of the music rather than for events that took place.  I am not the only one who struggles with history.  Didn’t Henry Ford remark, ‘History is bunk!’  It is probable that his words fell on more than a few sympathetic ears.  But historical novels are a totally different matter and it is fair to say I probably learnt more about past events from reading about them in a novel than I ever learnt in the history lessons I sat through at school.

Historical novels put flesh on the bones, bring the participants to life and explain the reasons why certain events took place.  And it is all down to the skilful research of the historical novelist.  I have learned about Boadicea, the warrior queen of the Iceni and her struggles against the Romans from the novels of Manda Scott.  Facts about the Peninsula War from Bernard Cornwell’s books and the power struggles in ancient Rome from the writings of Robert Harris.

Now ‘Narrow Marsh’ by A R Dance brings alive to me past events much nearer to home.  If you live in or around Nottingham then you will certainly have heard of Broad Marsh.  But how many people remember Narrow Marsh, or even know that such a place existed?  I didn’t until I read Mr Dance’s excellent book.  His narrative is fictitious but his settings of the early 19th century, his descriptions of the city as it then was and the dramatic events he brings vividly to life are true to type.  It is a fascinating book to read and carries the reader back to a time of fear, poverty and the unbelievable hardships suffered by working people.  There were times when I thought the author might have dramatised the action a little more, but then I thought, no, that wouldn’t work.  It is because he does not over-sensationalise events that they come across as genuine and believable.  That is not to say the story lacks excitement, it does and in its final chapters the author cleverly builds the tension to a climatic finish.  You must not miss it.  But wait!  There is also a sequel which promises to be every bit as exciting … and I for one can’t wait to get hold of a copy of ‘Leen Times’.
Michael J Smedley

Andrew Dobell's Extraordinary Art

NWUK member Andrew Dobell is able to do photography, Art, or Photo-Art commissions for book covers and he can accommodate most budgets.

Andrew says: "Any interested writers need only contact me through and we'll see what we can arrange. I love combining Photography with Art to create images that are a little different from the norm and are very usable on book covers."


Gang Loyalty - Free ebook

For the next five days (Dec 12th – 16th) "Gang Loyalty" by Peter St. John is free in digital format from Amazon Kindle.

There is consternation in Widdlington village when the girls, fed up with constantly playing second fiddle to the boys, decide to set up their own gang. The new gang is called the "Go-Getter Girls".
Its leader believes that anything boys can do, girls can do better.
The boys, alarmed at this threat to their formerly secure superiority, do not intend to stand idly by while the girls usurp their traditional supremacy.
Will the girls succeed in imposing a new-found authority, or can the boys overcome this impudent challenge to their masculinity?
The gauntlet is flung down by the girls in the wartime summer of 1941. Britain is facing an epic challenge launched by those who sought to impose a repressive regime aimed at world domination. The two challenges are not entirely unrelated.
We know now the outcome of the Second World War, but what was the result of the contemporaneous conflict of loyalties that went on in Widdlington?

(USA) Kindle USA 

(UK) Kindle UK 

Below is a sample from Chapter 16:

Just before the bridge was a cattle gate. It was closed. At the very last moment we both broadsided to a stop. But there wasn't enough room. The carts touched. Locked one to the other, they slid off the path and overturned. Thrown off, Jenno and I rolled together down the grassy slope to the edge of the river.

 ‘You all right?’ I asked breathlessly. I could feel Jenno laughing. ‘What're you laughing at?’

‘Oi won,’ panted Jenno.

‘You cheated. You didn't give me a fair start.’

Jenno rolled over and knelt astride my stomach. She grinned down into my face.

‘But Oi won. Oi told yew moi cart, Emmeline P, was good.’

I grinned back. ‘You cheated.’

‘Oi did wot?’

‘You cheated.’

Jenno pummelled my shoulders.

‘Emmeline P's good— an' so am Oi.’

‘You're a cheat.’

Jenno pummelled some more. I caught her by the wrists.

‘Wot is Emmeline P?’

‘Emmeline P is good.’

‘That's better. Wot am Oi?’

‘A cheat.’

Jenno twisted her wrists free and pummelled me some more.

‘Wot am Oi?’

‘You're pretty good too— but you're still a cheat.’

I caught her wrists again and we rolled over, wrestling in the grass.
Suddenly, as I tried to pin Jenno's shoulders down, I caught sight of somebody on the bridge. There were two people. They each had a cart. It was Winnifred and Molly!

Jenno must have sensed something was wrong. She stopped wrestling, and sat up. I sat up too.

‘Come on, Molly,’ said Winnifred. ‘There's too much of a rough crowd here.’

She and Molly turned and stalked off the bridge. They went back up in the direction of the Manor Lodge at the top end of The Street.

I thought of calling after them to explain, but I knew it wouldn't have been any use. I watched them go. My exhilaration slid out of my boots, slipped into the river, and sank like springtime out of sight. It was replaced by darkest gloom and doom.

‘Cripes,’ said Jenno.

‘Cripes is right,’ I said.


Baker gets the Hollywood treatment.

Sometimes an author wants to let off steam, to tell the world about an unsatisfactory experience.
Over to you, Philip Baker:

'Not Quite A Judas is a compelling, well-researched, and well-told story about two friends growing up on opposite sides in World War II. It begins with the two boys' childhood – one growing up in England, the other in Hitler's Germany, with frequent visits between them – then moves forward to detail their actions in the war, where they eventually come in direct conflict with each other.'
Quote from a 'Hollywood Treatment ' by Ryan Graff, Professional Film Script-writer, U.S.A.

'The book goes into great detail portraying their various activities as youths, and their various missions as adults.  In print, this works perfectly, as it adds an extra layer of depth and authenticity.  That said, film audiences have come to expect  etc: etc: '  

'In short, Not Quite A Judas is a powerful story about a friendship strong enough to survive the world's most terrible war ….  '

[It may appear – after that – that I'm about to bite the hand that fed me … but make up your own mind about that. ]

I read the following to my Writer's group:-
Authorhouse U.S.A.  published – at my expense – my first novel, NOT QUITE  A  JUDAS. They then suggested that their Professional Film Scriptwriter should prepare a 'Hollywood Treatment' from it.  This to be made available to the major Film Studios, who are always on the lookout for new storyline material.  Needless to say this 'Treatment' did not come cheap, and I now very much regret having agreed that it should be done. 

The result was 14 pages, starting with a nice – even complimentary – outline of my work.  [As above.] This was followed with many totally inappropriate additions, some of which I can only describe as Horror Comic material.  For example, my single German bomber is pursued by a single Spitfire, which fires a single burst with its machine guns, and both then disappear into the distance – having served their purpose in my story.  This is re-written as – and I quote … A nightmare of carnage roars above them. Propellers, engines, and wings – wings bearing the emblems of both their countries – comes (sic) screaming down in flames and twisted steel. (sic) 

Both my principal characters – protagonists if you will – are undergoing Officer Training.    However, in the 'Treatment', Erich, the German, is seen to be doing this, But – on the very same page – John  is now an 'Army recruit being instructed by an Officer'; a pointless change-for-the-sake-of-change?  Further, when I have Old John tell his Grandson all about a 'could-have-been-fatal' incident – when he was being instructed by an N.C.O.  – the boy now asks, 'Did that really happen?'  And Old John admits that it almost did.    Why does the old man have to lie to the boy?

And so it goes on.  So many improbabilities are introduced; including the sudden attendance of Hitler, at a routine weekly meeting of the local Hitler Youth, where boxing training is the main activity for that particular evening. This is now described, at length, with a succession of impossible or utterly ludicrous happenings.  John – matched against a larger Hitler Youth – is getting the upper hand.  Jochen, the Hitler Youth Leader, signals urgently for the bell, to end the bout.  Then John, is asked. '… how he learned to box so well?'   he – a 16 year old English Public Schoolboy – replies 'that he learned from Erich.'  This despite the fact that the original makes clear that they had only known each other for a matter of days, and that they had NEVER boxed each other!  

Later that same evening John and Erich were engaged in a bloody 'international' three round contest. Quote 'The two of them trade blow for blow, harder and more seriously than they ever have. Erich gets past John's defences and starts to pummel him. An OFFICIAL reaches for the bell, but Jochen stops him.  Finally John shoves Erich off and punches back again, gaining his second wind.  The two friends fly at each other, while Jochen stands torn about whether or not to signal for the bell.  Finally they both fall to the mat.  And the REFEREE  begins to count off in German.   …...
John starts to climb to his feet, a bit faster than Erich ….   Hitler stands up shouting and gesticulating ....  John looks over at Erich, still struggling desperately to climb back up, and willingly falls back to the mat.  Erich manages to pull himself upright, and the referee immediately proclaims him the winner.

 I find it nice to know, that at least one American recognises, that we English, always behave as
a thoroughly decent chap, ought to do!  

Contrast John's 'noble' behaviour, with this utterly unbelievable, gratuitous, Horror Comic addition.
       Later that night, John is woken up, by his first opponent and five others, who are threatening to burn his face, with a hot Swastika branding-iron! They are only dissuaded from doing this, by the intervention of Erich.     

I can imagine how my American friends would comment after reading my original, and then the 'Hollywood Treatment' produced by the Professional Film Scriptwriter.  It would be something along the lines of  'Cut out all that God'dam Crap!'

Having written to Authorhouse, pretty much as above, only rather more forcefully, I did receive a 'Final and Revised' Treatment, in which some of the wilder excesses were removed, though Hitler was still involved, to a totally improbable degree.

Philip Baker