Wild Rosemary Writing Services: Publishing Track Record!

It’s great to announce that some of the books I have worked on as an editor and a “self-publishing enabler” have now been unleashed on the world, and I’m very proud of them.

Joe Blow by Joe Ashton

Former veteran Labour MP, Joe Ashton, has now published his memoir Joe Blow, which is available in the Sheffield Star shop: York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU, which you can also order by calling 0114 2521299. The book is also available from B&B Office Machines in Broomhill, Sheffield. Call 0114 2668251 or email sales@bandboffice.co.uk for more details.

Extracts from the book has also been serialised in the Sheffield Star newspaper. You can read the first one here.

The Woodhead Diaries

Barnsley folk music legend Dave Cherry has been enjoying a big success with his novel The Woodhead Diaries, a historical murder mystery featuring the real life story of the construction of the Woodhead railway tunnel through the Pennines in Victorian times, and the 1950s detective who pieces together the mystery of the bodies which turn up during the construction of the third railway tunnel.

Legends and Rebels of the Football World

Football coach and former international football player, Norm Parkin, has also published his book, Legends and Rebels of the Football World. The book is Norm’s journey to meet and interview some of the biggest and most notorious football heroes of the twentieth century, and all the profits will go to the Philippines Typhoon Relief Fund.

Joan Lee is 91 years old, almost 92, and she’s as sharp and bright as she ever was while she was working as one of Sheffield’s most long-serving pub landladies! She’s now a publishing powerhouse, as not only has she published her memoirs, with fascinating stories from the Sheffield blitz and pubs from the East End of Sheffield to posh Dronfield. Behind Bars has proved to be very popular. Now Joan has published Gammon and Pineapple, a novella with a new twist on romance!

Cover design version 2

And as well as the Dales Tales poetry anthology, I’ve also published the first collection of poetry by Darren Howes. Poems from A Room Beyond Awareness is spiritual, thought-provoking and also humorous – an exploration of a path into Buddhism.

If you would like to publish your book in 2015, please contact me. With a proven track record, I can work with you to professionally edit, format and publish your book as a paperback on Amazon Createspace or Lulu.com, and as an e-book on Kindle Direct Publishing. I will guide you through the process and help to demystify it, and can even design your book cover for you! When your book is finished, you will be in charge and the royalties from book sales will come directly to you.

It doesn’t matter if you need to dictate your book to a “ghost writer”, if you have a type-written manuscript in your back drawer, or if you are an experienced writer who needs guiding through the maze of self-publishing – I can help.

Contact me at: anne.grange77@googlemail.com , or call me on 07815966784 to discuss your project. I look forward to hearing from you.

Rivelin Story Walk- Saturday 18th October – part of Off the Shelf

Come to the Rivelin Story Walk and explore a magical valley!

Come to the Rivelin Story Walk and explore a magical valley!

As part of Sheffield’s Off the Shelf festival of words, I’m excited to be leading an event – a story walk through the magical Rivelin Valley for children and adults.

Explore the Rivelin Valley and follow a trail of fairy hide-outs, goblin thrones, troll bridges and fast-flowing water.

Use your imagination and write amazing stories about your adventures afterwards in the cafe. 

Meet at 11am at the Rivelin Park cafe in the Rivelin Park, S6 5GE. Free parking is available nearby. We will return to the cafe after the walk for a drink and a snack.

To book a place, call me on 07815966784.

The walk is suitable for children aged 6-12. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Cost: £3 adults / £2 children, including a drink and a cake. Hot and cold food is available at the cafe.

Please come dressed for the great outdoors and bring notebooks, cameras, and bags for collecting treasure on the way.

Ten books that inspired me!

The Secret Garden - the original Puffin version I've had since I was eight!

The Secret Garden – the original Puffin version I’ve had since I was eight!

I was given one of those challenges on Facebook, to list ten books that have really influenced me. The basic version is on my Facebook timeline, but as I’m long-winded, and it’s raining outside, I thought I’d do it properly. Also, I’m procrastinating from all the other things on my “to do” list for today.

This is a rather random list – it goes from classic children’s literature to Young Adult fiction, to graphic novels and music biographies. Think of it as a “mix tape” of books, rather than anything cohesive. If you’ve not read children’s literature before, or at least since you were a child, give it a go. Some people miss out on the most amazing books because they fear being seen as “babyish”. More fool them! And the same goes for graphic novels. I’m not the biggest expert in the world, but the Sandman series opened my eyes to its possibilities.

You’ll probably be able to see the themes that have influenced my own writing in all of these books.

I could go on and on, and I probably will, if people keep giving me challenges. It’s very difficult to choose. God help me if I’m ever on Desert Island Discs!

If you click on the links, it will direct you to the Amazon page for each book.

1. The Secret Garden – Francis Hodgson Burnett. I read this when I was about eight years old – a battered Puffin copy that my mum gave to me. It’s a classic of Victorian Children’s fiction – Wuthering Heights “lite”, I suppose, especially with the way the Yorkshire accents are written, but it gave me a deep love of nature, exploring forgotten places, and gardens.

2. The Didakoi – Rumer Godden. This was another battered paperback that my mum encouraged me to read when I was becoming an independent reader. Her suggestions were always spot-on. This is a moving novel about a half-gypsy girl growing up in a secluded orchard, until the outside world starts crashing in on them. Rumer Godden’s children’s books are always incredibly powerful. If you read the book, I’m sure that Kizzy is a character who will stay with you for life.

3. A Country Child – Alison Uttley. Yet another suggestion from my mum. She’s got a lot to answer for! I can’t remember when I first read this book. It just seems to be part of the fabric of my very being. Alison Uttley grew up on a little farm near Cromford in Derbyshire, not far from where I grew up, and only a short drive from Sheffield, where I live now. This book is a fictionalised version of Uttley’s own rural childhood, with beautiful descriptions of the life on a Victorian farm, and the curious imagination of a solitary little girl. Her description of the long spooky walk to school through the woods is a masterpiece.

I Capture the Castle  the beautiful Peacock version that I own - mine's a bit more battered!

I Capture the Castle the beautiful Peacock version that I own – mine’s a bit more battered!

4. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith. Another battered paperback – this time a Peacock, rather than a Puffin. I bought this from a second-hand book sale at university, and only afterwards, did I realise that the writer was also the author of A Hundred and One Dalmatians. This novel is the diary of seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, daughter of a reclusive writer, who has holed himself up in a crumbling castle with his eccentric family. Although I’d never heard of this charming, funny and beautifully written book when I first read it, it’s now widely cited as an influential novel by many writers, including J K Rowling, so I’m in good company!

5. Junk – Melvyn Burgess. Moving onto a Young Adult novel that’s slightly more contemporary, I read this book about fifteen years ago. It’s a hard-hitting story of two suburban teenagers who run away from home and are gradually drawn into heroin addiction. It sounds grim, and it’s an emotionally challenging read at times, but the characters are so well drawn, and the realistic description of the grimy underground world of squats, punk and anarchism in 1980s really influenced my own writing.

6. The Sandman Series – Neil Gaiman. When I was in my first year at university, a friend lent me ‘Brief Lives’, a graphic novel in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. It was my “gateway” drug into the dark, magical world of Neil Gaiman. The Endless are seven beings, immortal siblings who rule over different aspects of creation: Death, Dream, Destruction, Despair, Desire, Destiny and Delirium. The Sandman is Dream, who oversees the world of sleep, with a library of dreams in his realm. A tall, over-serious, gloomy gothic character, he gets drawn into the lives of mortals. The series draws on influences as diverse as ancient mythology, Shakespeare, to DC superheroes. The combination of gripping, surreal plots, beautiful artwork, a tapestry of references and engaging characters draws me in every time.

7. Phonogram: Rue Britannia – Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. This is an amazing graphic novel that I bought from a specialist comic shop in Nottingham, Page 45. I thoroughly recommend a visit, to the website as well as the bookshop. The Phonogram series is about Phonomancers, magicians who use music to influence other people. This book is about the “death of Britannia” aka Britpop, and explores people’s relationship with nostalgia and the power of music. It’s difficult to explain, but if you were an indie music fan in the 90s, this book is essential reading. There are also lots of Manic Street Preachers references too, which I really appreciate!

8. Hopeless Savages – Jen Van Meter. This is another gem of a comic book that I bought from Page 45 in Nottingham, originally as a birthday present, but I read it, and loved it so much that I had to buy a copy for myself. Dramatic, funny and hugely enjoyable, this is the story of a family who prove that you don’t have to conform to the norm to be happy. Punk legends Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Savage now live in suburban America, with four children. The youngest, the wonderfully named Skank Zero, is now in high school, with her own band, finding her own identity. I love this punk rock family and want to be one of them.

9. Everything (a book about the Manic Street Preachers) – Simon Price. Over the past four years, I’ve become a massive Manics fan. Simon Price’s book told me everything I needed to know about them. It’s simply the most thorough and in-depth music biography I’ve ever read, tackling the really challenging subjects such as Richey Edwards’ self-harm, depression and disappearance with great sensitivity and honesty. At the same time, the book is gently humorous, entertaining and thought-provoking. Sadly out of print, but you can get second-hand copies via Amazon, it’s high time for an updated edition.

10. Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love – John Einarson. I got into Love through 60s garage punk and compilations such as Nuggets and Pebbles. They were a brilliant 60s psychedelic band that should have been as big as the Doors, but drugs, paranoia and perhaps racial segregation in the USA at the time prevented Love from being bigger than a cult band. Their classic album Forever Changes is a  psychedelic masterpiece. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into the album until a couple of years after I’d seen Arthur Lee live at Glastonbury. And sadly, Lee died of Leukaemia in 2006, meaning that I will never get the chance to see him again. But this book is the next best thing, a wonderful insight into the world of Arthur Lee and Love, with some extracts from Lee’s unpublished memoirs, it’s an entertaining, moving and enlightening read.

11. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into my world! If you’ve enjoyed my recommendations, here’s another book you might enjoy. A novel about love, betrayal and cider, you might spot some of the influences from the books above in my own first novel, Outside Inside. And wait to see what I’ve soaked up and absorbed in my new novel, which will be out at some point when I’ve stopped procrastinating…

 

I’ve been on the radio!

This August, I’ve had two visits to BBC Radio Sheffield.

A couple of weeks ago, I accompanied Dave Cherry when he was interviewed on the Rony Robinson show about his life and times, and about his novel, The Woodhead Diaries, which I helped to edit and publish.

To my surprise, Rony’s producer asked if I would also like to be interviewed. My hard work seems to be paying off – I’ve now helped several people to be published, and I’ve even produced a poetry anthology of the work I’ve done so far with patients at Newholme Hospital in Bakewell, Dales Tales.

This week, suffering from the effects of a late summer cold, I talked about my life and my experiences that led me to start writing and set up my own business. Here it is. I hope you enjoy it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUS7Cn3JCEw&feature=youtu.be

And many thanks to Dave Cherry for recording the interview for posterity and making it into a short film.

Have you got a story you want to tell to the world? I can help…

What’s Your Story? A new memoir writing course, starting on 28th April 2014

What’s your story? An introduction to memoir writing.

Memoir Writing Course at Gladys Buxton Dronfield

 I’m excited to be running a new memoir writing course – this time, it’s in my guise as a Derbyshire Adult Education tutor.

The course will run on Monday evenings for 5 weeks, from 6.30-8.30pm at the beautiful Gladys Buxton Centre in Dronfield, S18 2EJ (it’s just over the border in Derbyshire, but very close to Sheffield.) The course runs for five weeks, with a break on the Bank Holiday Monday 26th May, to give you more opportunity to do some writing!

If you’ve always fancied writing a memoir, but aren’t sure how to get started, this course is for you. I’ll take you through from exploring memories using creative techniques, structuring and planning your memoir, bringing memories alive through dialogue and description, exploring alternative formats such as blogging or poetry, and looking at successful memoirs and autobiographies such as Jennifer Worth’s ‘Call the Midwife’. What makes them so vivid and compelling?

The course will also be a great opportunity to share experiences and the mutual support of other writers. The course is suitable for anyone from any background, young or old! You just need to want to tell your story.

Contact me for more information about the course via email or on 07815966784, or call the Gladys Buxton Centre on 01246 413631 to book a place.

You are not alone! A weekend of writing and exploring!

I spent last weekend in Coventry, catching up with friends and exploring the city.

But the reason I was there in the first place was to attend a workshop for writers, organised by the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE). I joined NAWE as soon as I became a freelance writer, and I enjoy reading the association’s magazine, which inspires me to try new things in my workshops and teaching. This was the first time I had actually met other writers doing the same sort of thing I’m doing, and I was a little nervous, but definitely excited!

Rockin' in Whitefriars

Rockin’ in Whitefriars

I’d spent the Friday evening in the Whitefriars Olde Ale House, in the centre of Coventry, drinking real ale with my friends Fraser and Louise, who I first met eight years ago at Wychwood festival, the first time I volunteered at a festival alone. I wasn’t alone for very long! On Friday night, we caught up with each other in the pub, which is a half-timbered fourteenth century building, with wonky floors, low beams and an open fireplace, which we huddled near. It’s actually been a pub for about fourteen years, but obviously the building goes back much further. It’s a rare survival of such an old building in Coventry. The city is now famous for the Blitz, on the night of 14th November 1940 (tying in with my last post!), when thousands of incendiary bombs rained down on the medieval city centre. The cathedral was destroyed, but became a memorial of international reconciliation and peace, with the  beautiful modern cathedral, which was finished in 1962, by its side. Back to the Whitefriars, one of Fraser’s favourite pubs! It’s also a rock pub, so our real ale heaven was accompanied by the Mission, the Cure, Hawkwind and Motorhead. If I could design my ideal pub….

Fraser’s parents were very kindly putting Louise and I up for the weekend and we walked home in the rain, chatting and trying not to get blown away!

The day of the “Working as a Writer in Community Settings” workshop started sunny and deceptively spring-like, but I should have known not to wear a short black dress that flared out, creating a Marilyn Monroe – type effect whenever the wind blew! I walked into the centre of Coventry. Fraser pointed me in the right direction and challenged me to find anything interesting on the long, straight road into town. Everything looked good in the bright sunlight, so I challenged myself to write a poem in my head as I was walking along. I can remember:

The van of a heating engineer called Warmington.

People queuing up to wash their dirty cars.

A broken advertising hoarding.

Fairy tale tangles of briars and bramble.

A train flashing past.

A section of fence painted like an England flag.

A large dog barking in a back garden.

I was soon in the city centre, and found the university building, the George Elliot building with ease. The university is in the city centre, and the mixture of modern and medieval buildings contrasted against the joyfully blue sky. The name of the building reminded me that I have never managed to get through the whole of Elliot’s novel ‘Middlemarch’. I cheated last year, and listened to it on CD. More exciting nineteenth century novels are available! George Elliot (her real name was Mary Anne Evans, but she wrote under a male name in order to be taken seriously) lived in Coventry for much of her early life. When it comes to nineteenth century literature, I’m more of a Thomas Hardy and Bronte sisters fan. Much more drama and passion!

Anyway, the NAWE conference was well signposted, and tutors from the creative writing degree at Coventry University were waiting on the ground floor to escort me, and another participant, to the room where the workshop would take place. I felt very warmly welcomed. I was fairly early, and as the other participants arrived, I realised that people had travelled from far and wide, including Scotland, to attend the workshop. As we introduced each other, it dawned on me that these are my colleagues. That the path I’ve chosen, as a freelance editor, writer and tutor, is actually a career, and not just some weird thing I’ve made up! Other poets, novelists, essayists and journalists are making their living teaching creative writing, being writers in residence and using their writing skills to help other people to tell their stories and make their voices heard. It was so exciting, that I was probably a bit too chatty – but I felt that I was in my element!

I was really keen to meet workshop leader River Wolton again. A former Derbyshire Poet Laureate, she lives in Grindleford in the Peak District and has worked with many communities in Sheffield. She remembered meeting me before, in my old job in the diverse area of Burngreave in Sheffield, when I helped her to design a poetry booklet! River talked us through two really inspiring community projects she’s been involved with: “Allowed Out“, a project discovering stories of LGBT activism and the history of the gay community in Sheffield; and a project with refugees and asylum seekers who have finally found a safe home in Sheffield, and who are now writing about their experiences and the precious things in their life. We discussed setting up our own projects, our excitement about the possibilities of working in the community and our worries and concerns. Led by River Wolton and Anne Caldwell  from NAWE, we discussed the practicalities and inspiration for running projects in different community settings. The diverse case studies included older people in a library, primary school children, asylum seekers and refugee communities. The definition of community settings is wide-ranging, and could even include an internet-based community of people with a shared interest. Writing projects can be multi-media, including visual art and music.

We went for lunch in the nearby Herbert Gallery (where my friend Fraser works!) and I enjoyed talking to the other participants, finding out about Here Comes Everyone Magazine, the brainchild of Adam Steiner, a poet attending the course. The magazine is a social enterprise, open to everyone to contribute. Why don’t you have a go yourself?

After lunch, we worked in pairs to set short and long-term goals for ourselves! I realised that I need to commit more time to my own writing. I’m working towards the end of the first draft of my second novel, and I need to keep going, and set myself targets. I love balancing a hectic workload of editing and teaching, but I mustn’t devalue my own writing! My first novel Outside Inside is available on the Amazon Kindle – one of the things I must do is to bring out a paperback issue – there, I said it, and I must do it. It’s so easy to put things off!

Our confidence boosted, we discussed funding options with Anne Caldwell and Jonathan Davidson from Writing West Midlands, and I was excited to find out that the creative writing project I’m working on with patients at Newholme Hospital in Bakewell could be eligible for Arts Council funding. The next step is to put a proposal together and put a bid in. Exciting times! I just need to put the work in now.

The NAWE workshop left me buzzing, and with lots of new ideas and a new group of like-minded contacts. All that remains is for me to get on with it and do the work. That’s the only way anything gets done. It’s no good just dreaming. You’ve got to take action too! Well, it’s worked so far….

After the workshop, I drafted a new section of my novel in Coventry’s other great institution, Browns, a pub/cafe, a modern building with lots of wooden furniture and a distinctive curved roof. Then Fraser and Louise rejoined me after an exciting trip to Birmingham and Wolverhampton, where they had bought me some charity shop birthday presents. We met more friends, some of them from the world of festival stewarding, and so many Coventry friends of Fraser’s, it felt like I was in the middle of a social whirl. It was lovely to talk to so many people, and I had a lovely vegan moussaka for only £6, as well as a few pints of Thatcher’s Gold cider. Finally, we were spilled out into another windy, rainy night.

Sunday was mostly bright again, but freezing, and we explored Coventry City Centre before I headed back to Sheffield, refreshed and determined to put my creative plans into action.

Attercliffe Blitz Survivors Still Fighting!

Attercliffe has certainly had its dramatic moments. Sunday the 15th December was the 73rd anniversary of the Blitz on Attercliffe in World War Two, when thousands of steelworkers’ homes burned. 750 people in Sheffield lost their lives. The city of Sheffield was still reeling from the bombs that had dropped on the city centre on Thursday 12th December 1940, when the second wave of bombing happened, in the industrial heart of Attercliffe.

Joe Ashton, who was the Labour MP for Bassetlaw for over 30 years, was born and bred in Attercliffe. As a seven year old boy in the Blitz, he fled home from the Adelphi cinema with his dad, as the bombs dropped and the glass exploded out of the windows in the shops. But that night, his house in Birch Road was firebombed. Joe vividly remembers the drunken scenes in the nearby Moulders club as the landlord gave the beer away and people desperately drank and kissed each other, believing that they were not going to survive. But many of them did, crammed together in the remaining houses, scavenging for firewood in the ruins in Britain’s coldest winter on record.

The Attercliffe Liberal Club is the only working men’s club left in the area, a thriving haven for the generation that still remember the Blitz. Now proudly run by Steward Dave Ball and Stewardess Debbie Maw, it has a long and dignified history. It was established in 188, and formally opened by Liberal MP AJ Mundella on the 21st October 1882. This was at a time when political parties were starting to compete for the votes of working men. There was also a rival Conservative Club in Carbrook (which is still there, opposite Sheffield Arena). In addition, there was Attercliffe Radical Club and the Non-Political Club, known as the “Non Pots”. However, the members of the Attercliffe Liberal Club are more likely to be lifelong Labour supporters.

In the 1880s, the ground floor of the Liberal Club had a reading room and there were rooms for lectures and meetings. I’ve always been inspired by the passion for self-improvement and education that Victorian pioneers had, and the determination of the Chartists to bring real democracy to Britain. But now, Sunday nights at the Attercliffe Liberal Club are dedicated to old friends meeting up, a few games of dominos, a turn knocking out the hits of yesteryear, and “eyes down” for the bingo.

On Sunday 14th December 2013, Joe organised a reunion of “Attercliffe Survivors” at the club, commemorating Sheffield’s “forgotten” Blitz, and the pivotal role that Attercliffe played in World War Two, producing the crankshafts for Spitfires and the bouncing bombs that helped to with the war.

The other survivors also have dramatic tales to tell. Rita Peacock sheltered with her family in the cellar head. After a particularly close explosion, the shelf fell down and hit her auntie on the head. Dennis was in a cellar too, and remembered that the cellars of terraced houses were knocked through so that people could escape in case of a direct hit to the house above. Frank remembers seeing a landmine float down on a parachute in Parson’s Cross. His dad had been drinking in the Marples pub, and was walking home down the Wicker when the building was destroyed by a direct hit, killing many people. Joan Lee was seventeen. Her future husband’s parents ran the Norfolk pub on Saville Street. The couple walked together to reach it through the burning, bombed streets. Sheila was five years old, and remembers walking all the way to Handsworth with her family to stay with her aunty, as her house had been badly damaged in the Blitz. Club Secretary, Walt, remembers being woken in the middle of the night and being taken to the shelter in the garden.

It was a great opportunity to celebrate Attercliffe’s unique legacy, and the spirit of the generation who lived through World War Two – and survived!

And Joe and the Attercliffe Liberal Club are fighting for the survival of Attercliffe. After the slum clearance of the 60s and 70s, the bomb-damaged Victorian terraces were never replaced, and the formerly thriving area – a town in its own right, with its own cinemas, theatres and Banners’ Department Store, became a ghost-town, notorious for seedy sex-shops and dodgy establishments. And the venue once heralded as the future of entertainment and sport – the Don Valley Stadium – is being demolished due to council cuts. It’s a sad time – the end of a place where I’ve seen The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and U2 perform, and seen the pride of the Sheffield people as Jessica Ennis triumphed at the Olympics in 2012.

But maybe it’s not too late for Attercliffe to rise again. Perhaps new houses, and new jobs could revive its fortunes?