Heartwarming Historical fiction by Lynette Rees: perfect for fans of Iris Gower and Richard Llewellyn.
A tale of passion and compassion and most of all, one woman’s brave heart. Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, 1865. When Lily Jenkin begins her first day working for the Morgans at their corner shop in the little village of Abercanaid, she has no idea of the calamity that lies ahead of that fateful day.
It is a day of tragedy at the Gethin Coal Pit that brings her into contact with the new handsome, chapel minister, Evan Davies, for the first time. Although a dark cloud of death passes over the village, Lily and Evan draw close to one another as they help the villagers deal with the tragedy, forming a bond which could lead to love.
However, there is a gossiping old crone in the village who will do her best to cause trouble for the pair by hook or by crook. Lily has the opportunity to escape the valley of the shadow of death to make a new home for herself in Great Salt Lake, America. Will she take the chance to go to ‘Zion’, following her Mormon relatives, and more importantly, will Evan, a Welsh Baptist minister, go with her?
The Seasons of Change Series: 1. Black Diamonds 2. White Roses 3. Blue Skies 4. Red Poppies
When Clara’s father, the local vicar, Reverend Albert Masters, passes away suddenly, the family are faced with moving from their home at the vicarage following Christmas that year. Not only that, but Clara is forced to seek employment to keep the family finances afloat. As someone who has taught for years at the Sunday School at St. Bartholomew’s Church, she thinks it would be a good idea to try her luck at applying to become a governess. After all, she is used to teaching, well educated herself and she can play the pianoforte too.
Lord Howard Stapleton has recently lost the only woman he’s ever loved to a sudden illness. Lady Arabella Stapleton has left behind three children, who the lord struggles to cope with. As far as he’s concerned, his life ended the day his wife left this world. As a result, he has no concern for his own offspring other than to ensure they are clean, well cared for and receive a good education. Emotionally, he is distant, trapped in his own world of darkness and despair.
Soon two worlds will collide as one which will knock both off their feet in a very different manner…
Wake up everybody, no more sleepin’ in bed No more backward thinkin’ time for thinkin’ ahead The world has changed so very much from what it used to be So there is so much hatred war an’ poverty
Wake up all the teachers, time to teach a new way Maybe then they’ll listen to whatcha have to say ‘Cause they’re the ones who’s coming up and the world is in their hands When you teach the children, teach ’em the very best you can
The world won’t get no better If we just let it be The world won’t get no better We gotta change it, yeah, just you and me
Wake up all the doctors, make the ol’ people well They’re the ones who suffer an’ who catch all the hell But they don’t have so very long before the judgment day So won’tcha make them happy before they pass away?
Wake up all the builders, time to build a new land I know we can do it if we all lend a hand The only thing we have to do is put it in our mind Surely things will work out, they do it every time
The world won’t get no better If we just let it be The world won’t get no better We gotta change it, yeah, just you and me
When twelve-year-old Ada Cooper’s elder sister, Connie, goes mysteriously missing overnight, Ada and her younger brother, Sam, are forced to fend for themselves until they find her again. Connie Cooper has taken charge of the children since their parents both passed away from consumption a few months previously.
Ada and Sam’s only allies are Mrs Adler and her son, Jakob, who live in the same dilapidated apartment building in rooms across the landing from them. Up until now, Connie’s job at the match factory is the only thing that’s kept the family together but now the children are forced to fend for themselves when the rent man, Mr Winterbourne, demands his money, threatening them with internment at the workhouse for non payment. Forced to flee from the man who attacks her when she tries to prevent him from taking her brother, Ada is discovered by Maggie Donovan, a salt of the earth character who lives in a ramshackle house beneath the railway arches. The Donovans are a coster mongering family who help Ada and her brother by providing them with food and shelter, and also set Ada up with a barrow of her own to sell fruit and veg on the streets by day and flowers outside the theatres by night.
As all this is going on, in the background is the threat of an evil stalker of lone females known as “Jack the Ripper” who eviscerates his victims in the most despicable fashion during what would later be dubbed by the press as “The Autumn of Terror”.
Will Ada and Sam ever reunite with their sister, Connie? And will they both be able to survive the savage streets? Or will Ada’s dream of one day owning her own flower shop turn into a nightmare for her?
For the Daily Mail in 1901 Dorset Street was “the Worst Street” in London.” The notorious stretch in Spitalfields was somewhere that “boasts a murder on average once a month, of a murder in every house, and one house at least, a murder in every room,” it wrote.
The authorities left the inhabitants by and large to their own devices. “Policemen go down it as a rule in pairs,” the Mail added. “Hunger walks prowling in its alleyways, and the criminals of to-morrow are being bred there to-day.”
Laid out in 1674 as Spitalfields expanded as London’s premier silk weaving district, Dorset Street was already starting to look ramshackle by the 18th century. And in the 19th century – when the trade was starting to fade away – is was dominated by sprawling, grimy common lodging houses that even covered former gardens so that landlords could squeeze even more people…
Hi, both! Welcome to my author page and blog. I’m currently reading the poetry book you both collaborated on entitled, “A Voyage of Poetic Discoveries (Rhianno & Asley Poetry Collections Book 1).” So far, I can see that you have quite different styles of poetry, yet each poet’s work seems to complement the other. It will be lovely for readers to get to know a little more about you and your work. 😊
1. What gave you both the idea to decide to collaborate on a poetry book together?
RO: I think we both have a mutual appreciation of each other’s poems. Ashley’s really speak to me. Initially, we would joke about putting a book out together but secretly I wanted to.
AO: Our writing styles are very different, but in many ways, we share some common ground in the stories we want to tell and the pictures we want to paint.
RO: We are very different writers but that’s why it works… We touch on similar themes. It would be a pointless collaboration if we wrote in exactly the same style. It’s been a dream working with him because we never argue, there’s no ego clash, we just get on with our books and trust each other’s judgement, and we have a laugh too!
AO: I think the idea of the book initially came from the time when someone in our online writing group made a typing error of my name by dropping the letter ‘h’ from Ashley, and Rhiannon quickly turned it into a poem about some kind of monster called Asley. So I instantly responded by dropping the ‘n’ from Rhiannon and doing a poem about a Rhinoceros called Rhianno, and so Rhianno & Asley came to be. Both poems are in the book.
2. I read at the beginning of your book that you both belong to an online local creative writing group and that’s how you encountered one another, can you tell me a little about your friendship and the group?
RO: I joined the Merthyr online writing group at the very start in October 2019. I hadn’t really written anything since my late teens. I’d decided I wasn’t very good at writing and lost confidence. There was a challenge on the group to write a poem about the moon… So I did and it opened up something inside me and I’ve been writing ever since.
AO: I’d read somewhere that poetry helps with the craft of screenwriting in terms of writing with brevity. So I joined the group and just got instantly drawn to Rhiannon’s poems and writing. She’s always been very supportive and fun in the group.
RO: Yes, something connected…like a jigsaw piece slotting into place, and our books were born! 😊 The current situation is very frustrating but it’s been such a plus to make a good friend like Ashley and to have shared this little creative journey together. Kept me going over the last year.
AO: And funnily enough, in all this time we still have never met in person due to the pandemic. All our correspondence for this book and those to follow have been via email and messenger or on writing group pages.
3. Do you write anything else besides poetry?
RO: I mainly write poetry but I really enjoy writing short stories too. Also monologues. I’m currently working on a book of horror shorts.
AO: I’ve completed my first feature film screenplay, and I’m half-way through a second, which has been on hold for a while, as the poetry has taken over a little. But I plan on getting it finished soon.
4. Is there a special place where you like to pen your poems?
RO: Not really, although I did enjoy writing them while sitting in the garden over summer. Often an idea pops into my head at silly o’clock in the wee hours and I have to grab my phone and try and get it down – sometimes I’ve woken up and can’t make head nor tail of what I’ve written! I wrote a poem at the bus stop once, and there was one written in the toilets of a pub in town
AO: I just write when and wherever the moment takes me. I mostly write in Notepad on my phone, I used to wake up regularly at 3 am with ideas or sometimes complete poems in my head, so I’m able to quickly type them in. For my screenplays, I mainly use my laptop on a small desk in my front room.
5. What do you think is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
RO: I sometimes have to rein myself in as I can get carried away… Have to tell myself that not every poem should be the length of The Iliad/Odyssey.
AO: With poems, I’d probably say the proof-reading mainly. With screenplays, I’d say the research that’s needed to go into the writing. There can be so much to find out just for the small details.
RO: The editing is a bit of a pain but I’m quite thorough with that. We both are.
6. Have you ever suffered from “Writer’s block”?
RO: Yes. There are times when nothing seems to come to me or the words just won’t fit. It’s frustrating but has only ever been temporary touch wood.
AO: Not really as yet touch wood.
RO: Had to laugh at a time when Ashley was freaking out about his so-called writer’s block… Felt concerned for him till he said something along the lines of ‘I haven’t written anything since this morning!’
AO: We do have a laugh and a bit of banter between the writing.
7. What, to you, are the elements of good writing?
RO: Sincerity, heart and feeling. I like stuff to spark an emotion in me… Joy, sorrow, even anger. I want to smile, to laugh, to cry. I love great storytelling and characterisation. I love to find beauty in a piece of writing.
AO: I think the right word choice can give you the ability to touch someone’s heart and soul and make them feel the emotions.
8. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
RO: A lot of it is from my own memories and experiences. Family holidays. My loved ones. Sometimes a song or story catches my imagination. Some of my ideas come from observation, or just a random word or sentence. I get lots of inspiration from Ashley and his work too.
AO: Initially from life events and my feelings to those events, like the loss of loved ones and friends. Now just things I see or feel in life, or from things I read like your book ‘The Workhouse Waif’, Lynette. And as Rhiannon said, we both support and inspire one another.
9. Are you working on any writing projects at the moment?
RO: I have some of my work being featured in upcoming anthologies, and as I mentioned earlier I’m also working on a book of short stories which are quite dark. There’s also a series of short stories of mine that Ashley is interested in converting to a screenplay so it looks like he’ll have to put up with me for a bit longer yet.
AO: Well Rhiannon and I have two books out at the moment with another three that we are still working on for our Rhianno & Asley Poetry Collections. I’ve got three poetry books of my own planned, one personal to me, one about my hometown of Merthyr and it’s past, and one covering a compilation of poems that I’ve written to date. Oh and I’ve still got my second screenplay to finish.
10. Out of all your poems, which one is the closest to your heart and why?
RO: Oh, there are a few that hold a special place in my heart for various reasons. Ones that have been written to express joy. I have a poem called ‘The Incessant Rain’ which is a bit of a nod to Edgar Allan Poe. ‘Frozen Glass’ is important because it was a sort of starting point for mine and Ashley’s collaboration. There are some pieces I’ve written that are personal and come from a darker place – they are cathartic and help me to process my thoughts. There is a poem I wrote for my husband which means a lot too.
AO: I wrote ‘Life’s Last Song’ over twenty years ago after my father’s passing. It just means so much to me and got me back writing again. It was read out at his funeral and still brings a tear to my eye. It’s so personal to me.
11. Who is your favourite poet?
RO: Ashley. His work strikes a chord. His poetry is genuine and heartfelt, and I really admire how he can say so much so deftly and succinctly because I tend to write sprawlers 😊
More generally speaking I like quite varied poetry. I love Edgar Allan Poe for one. Really love ‘The Fat Black Woman’s Poems’ by Grace Nicholls… but I tend to read novels more than poetry.
AO: I haven’t read much poetry by famous poets, the most I’ve read is within the Merthyr Writing Group and in a couple of other online groups where there is so much talent. Out of those, my favourite is Rhiannon, whose writings just speak to me, they have from the start which is why she’s my writing partner and we’re sharing this poetic journey.
12. If someone was to ask you to describe to them what a poem is, how would you reply?
RO: I would say that a poem is something beautiful that makes you feel.
AO: I’d say, a poem is a piece of writing that sends out a message while expressing feelings and emotions in various forms.
13. Who or what inspired you to write poetry in the first place?
RO: I had some amazing teachers in primary school who encouraged me creatively and I was fortunate enough to have brilliant teachers throughout secondary school too. More recently, being part of writing groups have provided me with writing challenges and introduced me to different forms of poetry. Ashley has kept me enthusiastic and our collaboration has been inspiring.
AO: I first started writing poetic verse following the passing of my Grandparents, my Father and two close friends. I felt that putting my thoughts, feelings and memories down in writing helped me release some of the pain and grief and was a way of coping with my loss while trying to come to terms with it.
14. You both live in Wales which is described as “The land of poets”, does living here inspire you at all?
RO: There is beautiful scenery and a lot of history which inspires me. I’m from the North West of England but my name is a clue that Wales is a country that resonates with me! It is living here that gave me the opportunity to put pen to paper (and thumb to phone!) again and that has been so important to me.
AO: Very much so, all the beautiful scenery, and history. I’ve had many inspirations and written many poems about our beautiful countryside and its history, especially local history. From The Merthyr Rising and Dic Penderyn to Morlais Castle, amongst them.
15. Do you think there’s such a thing as a bad poem or a bad poet?
RO: Poetry is subjective so hard to say something is bad exactly, but I hate really pretentious writing. Poems that try to be overly intellectual. If I read something that is just wanting to be clever it leaves me cold. By all means, write cleverly but balance it out with humour or emotion or something to make it relatable.
AO: If it means something to just one person then no, I don’t think there is a bad poem or poet.
16. What would be your absolute writing dream?
RO: I have a lot of dreams but at the moment I’m just enjoying the journey. I’m rediscovering myself and I’m falling in love with writing all over again. That’s a dream in itself. It’s great! 😊
AO: That would have to be seeing my screenplays eventually made into films.
17. Has a poem ever had such a profound effect on you that it’s stirred your emotions in a powerful way? And if so, what happened?
RO: I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I do feel very emotional when I’m reading. ‘The Fat Black Woman’s Poems’ which I mentioned earlier and Maya Angelou’s ‘Phenomenal Woman’ make me feel so uplifted. They are just so joyous! Celebrating the beauty and strength and sexuality of women. I love to get really transported and I’ll laugh and cry, and ultimately feel so satisfied. Sometimes I’ll even feel amorous… like with Thomas the Tank Engine…😂
‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Jane Eyre’ blow me away with the passion/obsession elements and the intensity. Some poems/books have inspired me to write on a similar theme, and some I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.
AO: When I joined the Merthyr Writing Group there was one poem that just blew me away compared to the others, it just stood out. It just drew me into the story. The atmosphere, the imagery, the sounds of children skating, I could feel the pain of a woman trapped beneath the ice. I just instantly felt, wow! I remember commenting on what I thought it was about and later suggested a change of title to the writer which they were happy to accept. The poem turned out to be ‘Frozen Glass’ which is in our first book, and yes Rhiannon was the writer.
18. And finally, where would you like to see yourself as a poet/writer five years from now?
RO: I hope I’ll still be writing and learning more as I go along. I hope people will enjoy my work, and I hope that Ashley will still be my writing partner.
AO: Still writing poetry but probably at the Oscars collecting the award for best screenplay. We have to dream; we have to believe.
Thank you both for taking the time to answer my questions!
Rhianno & Asley: A Voyage of Poetic Discoveries (Rhianno & Asley Poetry Collections – Book 1)
The Ragged Urchin is currently FREE on Amazon Prime Reading in KINDLE format! [Also available in paperback and audio] This book is the first of a three part series: The Ragged Urchin, The Christmas Locket and [soon to be published – The Lily and the Flame]
Orphaned at the age of ten-years-old, Archie Ledbetter, is forced to live with his uncle in his very grand house. Uncle Walter seems emotionless, exhibiting little feeling towards the young lad. If it wasn’t for some of the staff at Huntington Hall, Archie’s life would be a complete misery. There’s a dark secret that Cook hints at as to why Archie’s mother left her lavish lifestyle behind and ended up settling in the East End of London, scraping a living selling cakes and confectionery from the back of a barrow in the marketplace. Archie’s never known his father and wonders who he is. Just as he’s settling in at the house, someone comes along and seizes the opportunity to kidnap Archie, forcing him to work as a chimney sweep, navigating searing hot chimney breasts in an inferno of hell. As if life couldn’t get much harder for boy, he cries himself to sleep at night praying for the angels to take him so he can finally see his mother once again in heaven…
Will Archie finally find the love he’s looking for?
A heartwarming saga, perfect for fans of Dilly Court and Maggie Hope.
Now that Christmas is upon us and we begin reflecting on the festive season from years gone by, what are your memories of Christmas past?
I find myself thinking nostalgically back to earlier times, reflecting on all those feel good memories of yesteryear. One memory that sticks in my mind is a snapshot of collecting holly laden with red berries with my grandfather on the frost-coated canal bank and taking it back to my grandparents’ home, where it was used as decoration above the eaves of the doors and above picture frames. Back in those days, the winters were freezing cold and we had coal fires and no central heating at our house! The snow often seemed to be up to my knees when we were sent home from school–the school milk having frozen solid in those tiny glass bottles and the boiler gone on the blink so deemed too cold for us to be there.
We didn’t seem to expect too much from Father Christmas back then either, [maybe a favourite ‘must-have’ toy or two, like a Tiny Tears baby doll which could both cry and wet herself! Or a new bike, toy pram, train set or doll’s house]. We were content with a selection box and a Christmas stocking filled with such delights as chocolate coins covered in gold foil, a chocolate Santa, a tangerine and a few small toys that would fit in the stocking.
Santa arrived at our house during the early hours of Christmas day. I knew he’d arrived as my legs felt heavy as the quilt on my bed was laden with gifts. In those days we lived near a dairy and the milk floats passed the house on Christmas day. So I would guess I must have woken at 5 am or 6 am as it was still pitch black outside. The first port of call would be to wake my brother up and we’d both creep downstairs with our presents and make a start on our chocolate selection boxes, even before eating breakfast. My parents would still be fast asleep upstairs for another couple of hours until my mother stirred to put the turkey in the oven and make other preparations for the day itself. My father would have gone to the pub on Christmas Eve, so he’d have quite a long lie in to sleep off the effects. I remember him telling me once he’d see Father Christmas at the pub that Christmas Eve and he’d relay my message of what I wanted for Christmas to the man. Unfortunately, Mother Christmas (my own mother) didn’t realise I wanted a Sindy doll that particular year. So I never received one, but I still had some lovely presents and it was made up for as the following Christmas, I received a beautiful singing/talking and walking doll in a pink lace dress! My mother had ordered her from a newspaper advert and I’d spent ages scouring that advert reading what this doll would look like, the songs she sang (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and London Bridge is Falling Down!) and the phrases she would speak. The doll was very tall and almost the same size as myself and she smelled so beautiful, I can still remember that smell. Her brown curled hair was so soft too and her eyes opened and closed. She was a vision of perfection to me and I took her everywhere!
Back then, if we were up early as a child, you watched an old black and white TV where a star like Leslie Crowther, visited a London Children’s Hospital. The children there would be presented with gifts and the nurses made their uniforms look festive, decking their hats with tinsel. I used to feel so sorry for those kids being in hospital on Christmas day but they seemed to get some great gifts and plenty of attention, so maybe it wasn’t so bad for them after all!
My grandparents were early risers, so we’d run to their house which was just 3 doors away to show them all the gifts we’d got. My gran usually gave me a Bunty annual every year which she’d sign and my brother got a Beano or Dandy annual. She’d also give us money so we could buy what we wanted after Christmas. She was quite practical like that. Or other years, she and my grandfather would take us to a big store in Cardiff so we could pick our own presents. I remember having a small Singer sewing machine and my brother had a Liliput typewriter one year. Strangely enough, I was the one who used the typewriter the most as I loved writing stories and still do! But my brother did love the wooden fort our grandfather made for him one year. It was nice to receive homemade gifts as there was so much love, care and time put into them. I remember my uncle made me a lovely wooden doll’s house one year complete with furniture and wallpaper on the walls! It was treasured for many years.
Later on Christmas morning, my mother would get up and light the coal fire and set the table, which was moved into the middle of the room, for Christmas dinner. We’d have things on the table we didn’t use the rest of the year, like a special red table cloth with festive prints and matching serviettes. We always got to drink those miniature bottles of Babycham with the meal, which was usually turkey and the trimmings followed by Christmas Pudding, Mrs Peeks in the blue cellophane wrap which was boiled for a couple of hours in the already small, steamed up kitchen.
During the afternoon there’d be Christmas Top of the Pops, playing the Christmas number one for that particular year. This was followed by the Queen’s Speech. In the evening, the whole family would settle down to watch The Morcambe and Wise Christmas Show. They always had a special guest on who joined in the fun, like Shirley Bassey or Tom Jones. I’ll never forget the year, Ms. Bassey stood there singing ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ as Eric jammed her foot into a workman’s boot!
There would be so much eating and drinking that day we’d feel quite full by the time we got to our beds. Of course the evening was usually an anti climax because for me the expectation of Christmas on Christmas Eve was always the best part of all.