A visit to author & artist Michael Lawrence, Hydra, Greece

Artist Michael Lawrence studied at UCLA with The Doors' singer Jim Morrison. Here he shares his early 1960s teenage awakenings, times spent with Jim as they discovered girls, cars, LSD and art together in a coming of age tale like no other. 

 

Whilst Jim Morrison's road was cut short far too early, his friend Michael was to become an artist with a long path of success ahead of him – always with Jim at his shoulder.

Waterstones Walsall Tanya Bullock Book Launch

Reblog: Fictionophile Previews The Lonely Hearts Crime Club by Tanya Bullock

Top Canadian blogger Fictionophile gives us a fabulous run-down of the characters and the setting in Tanya Bullock's new crime thriller.... The Lonely Hearts Crime Club:

“The Lonely Hearts Crime Club” by Tanya Bullock – Book Review @TanyaBullock15 @Blackbird_Bks #Blogtour #bookreview #TheLonelyHeartsCrimeClub

Somewhere in the Midlands, there is an inner-city apartment building called Shenstone Towers. The residents of this social housing building comprise a cross-section of humanity.  So, lets get right down to it and meet a few of them.

Aggie – an elderly lady who lives alone with her little dog. Aggie is slightly mentally disabled. She loves bright colours, and playing bingo. She spends her days watching television. One evening, she is attacked in her apartment and left for dead…


Ella – At just twenty-one years of age, Ella is a new resident of Shenstone Towers. She is heavily pregnant and has been recently living on the streets. She is a smoker and an alcoholic.  Now, she is valiantly trying to turn her life around so that she can be a good mother. Ella is very beautiful with an infectious smile.

With no support system, she is trying to get to know her new neighbours. Ella lives next-door to Aggie.


Nathan – Young and handsome, Nathan is a wedding videographer. He is also very lonely since the death of his Mum who he was very close to. He is single because he doesn’t want to inflict his ‘baggage’ on another person. In addition to hallucinations, he has night terrors. Both of these things have Nathan’s guilty secret as their cause…  When Nathan meets Ella, he is drawn to her beauty and recognizes her as a kindred solitary soul.


Birdie – Having just passed her 52nd birthday, Birdie is a lonely, tragic woman. She is estranged from her married daughter and is now jobless. She fancies herself an actress, but acting jobs for a woman of her age are few on the ground – even though she has kept her trim figure. She suffers terribly from arthritis in her knees and drinks copious amounts of wine in order to feel better… both emotionally and physically.


William – A young man in his twenties. He is autistic and this is the first time he has ever lived on his own. His mother is worried he will not be able to manage, but William is determined to strike out on his own. He has just moved in to Shenstone Towers. William loves to watch people and sometimes makes up stories about them. Unfortunately, he isn’t always able to discern fantasy from reality. The others wonder if William’s astute observational skills are to be fully trusted.


Ted – Because many of the residents are living on the fringes of society, some with psychological or coping problems, there is a social worker who visits Shenstone Towers on a regular basis. His name is Ted. Through his work he visits Aggie, Birdie, and Ella. Ted though, is not everything he claims to be…


These residents band together to play detective. They want to discover who attacked Aggie so viciously. Their discovery will surprise them all.

Though I seldom agree to blog tours, I just couldn’t resist taking part in this one. A few years ago I read the novella “Homecoming” by Tanya Bullock which has remained in my memory every since. So, when Blackbird Digital Books asked if I wanted to join the tour, my answer was a resounding YES!

I loved the way that the misfits and loners of  “The Lonely Hearts Crime Club” came together. Their burgeoning friendships were heartwarming, all the more so because they lived in a place where tragedy and heartbreak abound.

The book portrays vulnerable people who have had their trust in others betrayed time and again. It vividly depicts how complicated and interesting people can be, and how a sense of belonging can be extremely cathartic. It also shows how ordinary people’s lives can be derailed – and how difficult it can sometimes be to get back on track.

All in all, “The Lonely Hearts Crime Club” is a novel I can heartily recommend.

Tomorrow, April 16, 2019 is publication day for “The Lonely Hearts Crime Club” so be sure to pick up a copy! 

Check out what other people had to say about this novel:

Thanks so much to Blackbird Digital Books who provided me with a complimentary digital copy of the book in order that I could take part in this tour.Tanya+Bullock

Tanya Bullock is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, college lecturer, and the mother of two young children.  She lives in the West Midlands, England.

The Lonely Hearts Crime Club is Tanya’s third novel.

Twitter@TanyaBullock15

 

Blog Tour - The Lonely Hearts Crime Club

The Blog Tour for Tanya Bullock's new mystery thriller The Lonely Hearts Crime Club is under way, with some fabulous feedback for this edgy mystery with a beating human heart. Set in a Midlands tower block, it is out on 16th April in ebook and paperback. 

 

The launch party will be held at Waterstones, Walsall, at the heart of the novel's Midlands setting, on Saturday 27th April, all welcome. 

 

Pre-order at Waterstones

Pre-order on Amazon

Diane Chandler/Blackbird Creative Writing Workshops Feature, Chiswick Locals

'I can still remember how nervous I was at having to read my work out to others when I first started writing creatively over twenty years ago,' Diane Chandler tells the Chiswick Local online magazine . 'And for that reason our creative writing workshops are limited to a maximum of eight people. They take place around the safe environment of my kitchen table in Chiswick, and my co-host, Stephanie Zia of Blackbird Books, and I take great care to ensure that everyone is settled and feeling comfortable. What’s more, there is absolutely no pressure to read out – you can join in or just listen...'

Kiss The Joy by Pam Billinge

Kiss The Joy

 

He who binds to himself a joy

Does the winged life destroy

He who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity’s sunrise

 

Eternity, by William Blake 1757 - 1827

 

Very recently I moved to live in rural France, leaving a happy life in Wiltshire where I was surrounded by loving friends and neighbours, to follow a dream and set up home in the middle of nowhere with my horses and dogs. Why? Well that will be the topic of another piece, but suffice to say I lost many nights’ sleep before I moved worrying about all sorts of things. At the top of the list was ‘Will I be happy?’ ….and ‘Will I be AS happy as I am now?’

 

Now the transition is made and I have realised that I was asking myself the wrong question.  Because happiness is not something which can be predicted or guaranteed. A certain set of circumstances does not implicate it one way or another, although they can help significantly in creating the possibility of well-being.

 

Seeking happiness has become a trademark of our time. The self-help industry is booming and the evangelistic arsenal of ‘How to be Happy’ techniques grows week by week: from daily mantras to de-cluttering and from diets to dressing.

 

It seems that many of us are increasingly lost. Or stuck. Or sometimes lost and stuck. In an age where the slide of a finger across the face of our smartphone will tell us exactly where we are and how to get to where we need to be, this seems ironic. If only there was an app which could show us the way back to ourselves.

 

Presented expertly via the media we love so well: reality TV, bloggers, social media we are seduced by a whole range of spiritual fix-its. But jumping onto the next ‘It couldn’t be easier’ bandwagon as it passes will only get you so far.  The shiny image which has been promoted as your panacea may offer helpful principles, however happiness is not about creating perfection, as defined by someone else, it is about making space inside yourself for joy.

 

And finding this space doesn’t involve ‘doing’ a lot. Actually, it is about doing nothing. Giving yourself an opportunity to ‘be’. That is when you can begin rebuilding your sense of connection (with yourself, nature, others…). And it is when you feel reconnected that you begin to notice joy as it passes.

 

For joy is not something to be contained, wrapped up, stored in reserve and kept for later. It comes and goes in the moment like the breeze flowing off the wings of a bird. Joy has to be free. When hunted it hides, and when captured it dies. But if you hold a joyful place in your heart, it will visit you often.

 

This is not easy, but it is simple. To make the space you must learn to be still - inside and outside - and this involves facing the things which you might prefer to avoid.  When your life is full to bursting and your mind occupied with the minutiae of daily life and the anxieties which you create around it, you can escape that which you find difficult. Becoming peaceful takes courage, honesty and self-compassion and a willingness to blow the cobwebs from your inner spaces.

 

One late evening last week I stood with the herd. Above me a colossal halo of soft light surrounded the shining moon. It stretched across the limpid silver sky, illuminating the rolling countryside around me. I had never seen anything like it. An owl hooted. The horses murmured. Otherwise all was peaceful and still. When I became too cold I went indoors, uplifted and curious by the astral display I had experienced. I learned that what I had seen is called a lunar halo. It is created a little like a rainbow is by the sun and rain, when the light from the moon is refracted through ice crystals in the earth’s atmosphere. So, the existence and nature of each halo is dependent on the relative position of the recipient. They are completely unique to the onlooker, they are transitory and specific at that moment to that pair of eyes. They can even reflect the colours of the rainbow. I was blessed with another halo shining over the valley, two nights later, this time much smaller but reflecting subtle pink and green.

 

This, I realised, is the nature of joy.  It is a moment by moment experience, which, like the lunar halo, manifests to those who are present and available to receive it. One moment it is there and the next it is gone. It can’t be photographed, copied or predicted, and it is only yours to feast upon for as long as the miracle lasts. But it will surely manifest in a different form for you again sometime later.

 

So, instead of keeping myself awake at night asking ‘Will this decision make me happy, as happy as I am now?’ a more useful question would have been ‘How will I maintain my capacity to experience joy when presented with a new, different set of circumstances and challenges.’

 

If you, too, are progressing change in your life, pay attention to what you need to do to nurture that peaceful place in your heart where joy can land. Step out from the planning, research, exploration, agonising, and be ready to see your own lunar halo.

 

 

 

Pam Billinge

 

 

c. Pam Billinge 2019

All rights reserved

You'll never look at a horse in the same way again...

 

The ability of the horse to sense emotion, energy and spirit goes way beyond what most of the human world realises. A must-read for those wishing to understand the spiritual connection between horses and humans. 

 

When Pam Billinge's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she began to notice the way her horse responded to her emotional turmoil. Thus began an exploration into the spiritual relationship between horses and humans and their infinite capacity to help us heal. 

 

Building on her remarkable discoveries, Pam began her pioneering work as a horse-led coach and therapist. By sharing her own path to redemption through personal tragedy, and other stories of healing inspired by the incredible interactions she has observed between horse and human, Pam puts forward her uplifting insights about the true nature of the horse, setting out some simple principles to help the reader transcend life's challenges. 

 

Pam Billinge is a body psychotherapy professional and leadership coach at the top of her game in the UK field of horse-led therapy.

 

'This book describes the most powerful sense of a horse being spirit and energy, rather than sight or sound,' Little Miss No Sleep

 

'An enchanting, beautiful book that I was captivated by right from the start. Had me in tears more than once.' Mrs Bloggs' Books

 

'One thing I really took from this book was the reminder that life is about ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.' Goodreads 

 

'A revelation that horses can sense our emotions so keenly.' Diane Chandler, Author

 

'Her special affinity & deep respect for horses shines through with every well-written word and every emotional connection.' Jaffareadstoo...

 

'Pam Billinge writes with a wonderful beauty.' Liz Loves Books

 

'The sign of a really good book for me is that I am unable to begin another book for a few days - I have not read a book now in the last week (unheard of for me)!' Goodreads

 

Unlocking the magic between human and horse - The Spell of the Horse will change the way you see horses, and perhaps yourself.

The Spell of the Horse by Pam Billinge is available to order from all good bookshops and online.

Paperback £8.99:  Amazon  Waterstones

Ebook £3.89 Amazon   $4.99 Apple  Kobo Nook

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Angel Book of the Year Shortlist for Patricia O'Toole

Patricia O'Toole's debut memoir Call of an Angel  has been shortlisted for the angel book of the year 2019 in the Soul & Spirit Magazine Spiritual Book Awards

 

Soul & Spirit  is a high quality, UK monthly lifestyle print magazine with columns from all the best experts from the mind, body and spirit arena, including Russell Grant, Sally Morgan, Diana Cooper, Derek Acorah, Tony Stockwell, Robina Courtin & more. 

 

The winner will be announced in March 2019.