A Small Celebration

Two weeks before Christmas I had a bit of a party to celebrate the launch of Beltane.  It was held in my local village hall which, with the help of my friends, was transformed into a Yuletide haven. So step inside and join the celebration…

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There was music from some of my extremely talented friends. Lovely Sarah Dean played her harp.

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Unfortunately the actual paperback wasn’t ready but a friend mocked up a fake book for me with blank pages and I asked everyone to sign it.  Reading them after the party was pretty emotional as people had  written some really lovely things.

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And there was cake! One of my friends made this amazing Beltane cake based on the book cover.  She was disappointed that she ran out of room to fit the title on the cake but everyone else thought it was completely amazing.

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Apparently it wouldn’t be a book launch party if the author didn’t do a reading so I read three short extracts from the book (can you tell that my hands are shaking?) and then did a bit of a speech to thank everyone who’d helped make the party so special.

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And I also want to thank all of you who’ve read my very intermittent blog posts this year.  I wish you a very Happy New Year and all the very best for a wonderful 2016.

Alys xx

If you’d like to find out more about Beltane please click here

 

 

Beltane is published today!

Beltane by Alys West

It’s been a long time in the making but my first novel, Beltane, is published today.  It’s a contemporary fantasy romance set in Glastonbury and this is what it’s about:

Finn McCloud is a druid, connected by magic to the earth.  He’s made a big mistake; one he expects to pay for with his life.

Maeve Blackwell has plans for a new start, free of the façade she so carefully maintains. At Beltane, the Celtic festival of fire on 1st May, all her preparations will come to fruition.

Struggling artist, Zoe Rose is in Glastonbury to work on the illustrations for a book about King Arthur.  But when she arrives at Anam Cara, the healing retreat run by Maeve, it’s not the haven she hoped for.

Maeve isn’t the warm-hearted, hippy she expected and Zoe can’t help feeling there’s something very odd about the place.  Is it coincidence that the other guests become ill after Maeve’s given them healing?  And why did the Green Man carved on a tree in the garden, which she’d felt inexplicably drawn to, mysteriously vanish during a thunderstorm?

As if that wasn’t enough, the weird dreams she’d had all her life are getting worse.  Every night she dreams of a handsome stranger.  Then, the day after the thunderstorm, she meets Finn. Realising he’s the man she’s dreamt of (not that she’s going to tell him that!) she’s forced to accept that her dreams are premonitions. 

With Beltane fast approaching Finn knows that Maeve must be stopped.  He’s torn between wanting to protect Zoe from the supernatural world and his desire to be with her.  And the more time they spend together the harder it is to keep secrets from her. 

When Zoe’s dreams reveal that at Beltane both their lives will be in terrible danger, it’s clear that only by trusting each other can they have any hope of defeating Maeve.

If that sounds like a good read to you then you can buy the ebook for £2.99 or the paperback for £8.99 by clicking here.

 

My Monday guest, Alys West, debut urban fantasy romance novelist.

Having never done an author interview until yesterday, they’re suddenly all coming along together. Today I’m on Siobhan Daiko’s blog and she asked some really interesting questions…

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Today I’m absolutely delighted to welcome the lovely Alys West.

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 Please tell us something about yourself, Alys.

I write urban fantasy and steampunk with romance twist. My debut novel, ‘Beltane’, an urban fantasy romance set in Glastonbury, is now available on Amazon. My second novel, a steampunk romance called ‘The Dirigible King’s Daughter’ is available to read on Wattpad. I’m a member of the Write Romantic blog group and started a MA in Creative Writing at York St John University in October. Apart from reading and writing, my favourite things are tea, cake, folk music and ‘The Musketeers’.

Oh, I love all the same things as you. How would you describe yourself as a colour?

I’m going with turquoise.  That’s possibly a slightly obvious answer because at least half of my wardrobe is shades of turquoise, teal and duck egg blue.  But I think it’s a fairly accurate description…

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Author Spotlight – Alys West

I’m thrilled to be doing my first ever author interview on Julie Stock’s blog today. She asked me some really interesting questions…

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This week, my author in the spotlight is urban fantasy and steampunk writer, Alys West. Her debut novel, Beltane, will be out on December 14th.

Beltane finalBeltane – Alys West

Finn McCloud is a druid, connected by magic to the earth. He’s made a big mistake; one he expects to pay for with his life.

Maeve Blackwell has plans for a new start, free of the façade she so carefully maintains. At Beltane, the Celtic festival of fire on 1st May, all her preparations will come to fruition.

Struggling artist, Zoe Rose is in Glastonbury to work on the illustrations for a book about King Arthur. But when she arrives at Anam Cara, the healing retreat run by Maeve, it’s not the haven she hoped for.

Maeve isn’t the warm-hearted, hippy she expected and Zoe can’t help feeling there’s something very odd about the place. Is it coincidence that…

View original post 1,751 more words

The Journey to Beltane by Alys West

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There’s a sign at the yoga studio I go to which says ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’. When I started writing Beltane five and a half years ago, I’d have dismissed it as hippy clap-trap.  But I looked at it last week and thought ‘I get that now.’

I don’t like using the word ‘journey’ these days as it’s become such a reality TV cliché but with Beltane being published in just over a week I’ve found myself looking back at all that’s happened since I started writing it in May 2010.Comfort Zone

To say that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing is a bit of understatement but I’d got a ‘how to book’ (the excellent How to Write a Damned Good Novel by James Frey that I’d recommend to anyone) and a determination not to give up this time.  I’d started a couple…

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Putting steam into steampunk

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When I decided I was going to write a steampunk novel I rapidly realised that I had a bit of a problem on my hands. You see, I don’t really understand how steam works.   I get the elegance of it, the wonderful glamour of steam.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched ‘Brief Encounter’ or ‘The Railway Children’.   But they don’t really get down to the nitty gritty of how a steam train works. And suddenly the nitty gritty was what I needed.

Now I know that many very successful steampunk writers don’t worry too much about all of that and merrily make things up with scant regard for the laws of physics.  But sadly, especially as I don’t even have an O’ level in physics, my brain refused to work that way.  Apparently if I was going to make stuff up, it had to have a basis in some kind of fact.  The only problem was that I didn’t understand the facts.IMG_0345

Fortunately I know a man who does.  My Dad loves all things steam and, having been taken to the National Railway Museum more times than I can count as a child, you’d have thought that something would have sunk in but no.  Which is why the last few months have found me doing things I’d never expected, reading books about Zeppelins, watching ‘Locomotion’ on BBC2 for a reason other than to look at Dan Snow and going to a steam fair.  I was dragged to these events when I was a kid and was bored to death.  Little did I think that many years later I’d be there asking questions and really trying to understand.

DSC01941Unfortunately the understanding part didn’t go too well.  You see, we were starting from a very low base. My first question, when we’re stood on a makeshift platform looking down on a traction engine’s engine, was something like ‘So the coal heats the water and that makes the steam?’  Fortunately, my Dad managed not to laugh and, with much pointing and hand movements, tried his best to explain. I got some of it but then my brain simply refused to co-operate.  Somehow when I hear words like ‘torque’, ‘pressure’ and ‘propulsion’ it just drifts off to thinking about something else like cake or books or Aidan Turner.

DSC01913So in the end, when it came down to the writing, I still had to get on and make stuff up. I’m not one hundred percent sure it works yet but I have found myself becoming more and more fascinated by the world of steam.  Which I guess is what’s really important if you’re going to write steampunk. Just don’t tell my Dad or I’ll never hear the end of it!

I’ve got a Pinterest board for my steampunk research for my new novel which you can find here and has more photographs of all things steam related and some absolutely gorgeous frocks (honest, looking at them was research too!)

Photo of train wheels by Maynard Case http://www.maynardcase.co.uk

My turn on the Lovely Blog Hop

I’ve been asked by my fabulous friend, Jessica Redland, to take part in the Lovely Blog Hop where writers talk about some of the things which have shaped their lives and their writing.  Jessica lives not far from me in Scarborough and we often meet up for cake and to talk about writing.  Her first novel, Searching for Steven, a charming romantic comedy set in a fictional town on the Yorkshire coast is out on 3rd June and is available for pre-order here.  You can read Julie’s blog here

Now as anyone who knows me well is aware I’m not all that good at sharing information about myself so the Lovely Blog Hop is a bit of tough one for me as it involves talking about myself. A lot.  I’ll do my best but if I wander off a bit then I apologise in advance!

First Memory

IMG_0780My first really clear memory is from when we moved to York when I was nearly 4.  The day we moved into the new house our new next door neighbour walked up through the garden and knocked on the back door.  It seemed like she was completely surrounded by girls and my Mum said ‘Are these all yours?’  Only two of them belonged to our neighbour.  The other six or seven lived around and about.  Our neighbour said, ‘does she want to come out to play?’ (I must have been too little for people to actually ask me a question) and Mum must have said ‘yes’ because that was it really.  My parents say that I really only came home for meals and to sleep for the next five years or so.  I spent the rest of my time out playing with the girls I met on that first day.

Books

I’ve always loved books and my parents said that I was never hard to entertain once I’d learned to read (that could also have been because I was hardly ever at home!) I read Enid Blyton, as many pony books as I could get my hands on and all of the Swallows & Amazons series.  My Dad still had his copies of those and they now stand proudly on my bookshelf waiting to be handed on to my nephew when he’s old enough. IMG_0782

In my twenties I read the classics and actually waded through War & Peace which took me almost a year.  I adore Jane Austen and Persuasion is one of my all time favourites.  These days I rarely have the energy for serious literature and read entirely for entertainment.  At the moment I’m reading Stoner by John Williams for my book club and Jeremy Poldark by Winston Graham for a bit of light relief.

Libraries

IMG_0781Mum and Dad took me to the library from a very early age and for a while in my teens I wanted to be a librarian.  Somewhat to my regret, I grew out of that idea but I still think it would be a lovely job.  The libraries in York have always been very good and have survived relatively unscathed from recent cuts.  I’m extremely grateful for the huge range of books that they’ve been able to lend me whilst I’ve been writing Beltane and Lughnasa.  From books about witchcraft and druids (which generated some interesting looks from the library assistants, I can tell you!) to tomes on the history of Glastonbury and the islands of Orkney they’ve hardly ever let me down.

What’s your passion?

Writing is my greatest passion but I’m going to talk about that later so I’ll have to find another one.  Would Ross Poldark sound too shallow?  Yes? Alright, I’ll try again…

Loch of Stenness at sunset
Loch of Stenness at sunset

I love folk music and going to folk gigs.  I’m pretty obsessed with Orkney at the moment, does that count?  Oh and I’m passionate about Yorkshire and will bang on about how amazing ‘God’s Own County’ is even though I’m not strictly speaking a true Yorkshire woman as I wasn’t actually born here.

Learning

I was a bit of a girly swot when I was younger.  I got decent O’ levels, rather embarrassingly good A’ levels and a competent degree.  I’ve always enjoyed learning and these days I get to impose my love of learning on students as I tutor at the university one day a week.  The thing I’m really loving at the moment is seeing how my nephew and godson learn about the world.  Nephew’s favourite word is currently ‘why’ and he simply will not give up.  If you answer a question and he’s not happy with the reply then he’ll say ‘why’ again and again until you come up with something better.  To be honest, he’s tougher to please than the undergraduates.  At least with them I’m allowed to tell them to go away and look it up for themselves!

Writing

IMG_0024 (2)I tried to write my first novel when I was eight.  It was a Famous Five type adventure with added ponies.  I’m absolutely sure it was terrible but it was the start of my desire to write and I’ve known since then that I wanted to be a writer.  I started writing seriously five years ago and I absolutely love it.  I’m a much happier person since then.  It’s a wonderful thing to have something in my life that I’m absolutely passionate about and makes me happy and it’s got me through some very testing times in the past few years.  I’m currently taking a break from my second novel, Lughnasa to write a steampunk novella set in Whitby.  With luck that will be ready to be published in the late summer.

This is the point where I’m supposed to hand over to another writer to take the Lovely Blog Hop forward but everyone I know has either already done it or is too busy.  Instead I’m going to suggest that you might like to read Sharon Booth’s turn on the Lovely Blog Hop which you can find here.  But if you’re reading this and thinking ‘I’d like a go at that Lovely Blog Hop’ then do please let me know and I’ll pass the (metaphorical) baton to you.