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LIVING IN THE SHADOWS by Judith Barrow + Guest Post

Judith Barrow





Judith Barrow

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: 16 July 2015

Publisher: Honno Welsh Women’s Press

It’s 1969 and Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her ex-POW husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria.

Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse – following in Mary’s footsteps – and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire.

At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda’s darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so?

There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.

Sequel to the acclaimed Changing Patterns and Pattern of Shadows:

Judith Barrow has not written an ordinary romance but a book that deals with important issues which are still relevant today… an excellent debut novel.
Historical Novels Review

Judith Barrow has written, with great intensity of emotions, an absorbing saga…

well-paced, gritty love story
Western Mail

An unforgettable debut novel – perfectly paced
Menna Elfyn

Barrow’s thoughtful and atmospheric novel shines a light on the shadowy corners of family life…
Lancashire Evening Post

a gripping read.
Tivyside Advertiser





My Writing Journey

The first story I can remember writing was of a teapot that fell off the table, broke its spout and died. I was eight years old. My mother said all my stories ended like that; comedic death, doom and disaster. I think my writing’s changed by now. At least I hope so!

I was born and brought up in a small village that was part of a group of villages called Saddleworth, on the edge of the Pennines. My father ruled the house. We were quite isolated and I spent much of my time reading and writing short stories and poems.

From an early age I wrote in secret. I had articles, the odd short story published in small presses and magazines. I wrote two books and grew resigned to those A4 self-addressed envelopes plopping through the letterbox with the rejection letters inside.

Then, on one of the visits to my mother in the North of England, I went to the Oldham Local History and Archive Centre to research for a third book I’d started.

And that’s when I found out about Glen Mill (the inspiration for the first of the trilogy, Pattern of Shadows. Reading about the history of it as a German POW camp in Oldham brought back a personal memory of my childhood

My mother was a winder (working on a machine that transferred the cotton off large cones onto small reels (bobbins), in order for the weavers to use to make the cloth). Well before the days of Health and Safety I would often go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school. I remember the muffled boom of noise as I walked across the yard and the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through a small door cut into a great wooden door. I remember the rumble of the wheels as I watched men pushing great skips filled with cones alongside the winding frames, or manoeuvring trolleys carrying rolls of material. I remember the women singing and shouting above the noise, whistling for more bobbins: the colours of the cotton and cloth – so bright and intricate. But above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales and the feel of the cloth against my legs when I sat on them, reading until the siren hooted, announcing the end of the shift.

When I thought about Glen Mill I wondered what kind of signal would have been used to separate parts of the day for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill. There would be no machinery as such, only vehicles coming and going; the sounds would be of men, only men, with a language and dialect so different from the mixture of voices I remembered. I imagined the subdued anger and resignation. The whole situation would be so different, no riot of colour, just an overall drabness. And I realised how different the smells would be – no tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres; all gone – replaced by the reek of ‘living’ smells.

The more I read about Glen Mill the more I thought about the total bleakness of it and the lives of the men there. And I knew I wanted to write about that. But I also wanted there to be hope somewhere. I wanted to imagine that something good could have come out of the situation the men were in.

And so Pattern of Shadows was written.

Things went a bit awry after that. I trawled through a list of possible agents and sent the manuscript off to a couple. At the same time I remembered an independent publisher, Honno, who’d previously published some short stories of mine and whose authors always looked to be on the same wavelength as me. So I sent a synopsis and a few chapters to them.

One agent was interested in my novel and invited me to meet her in London. She assured me that she had many contacts in the publishing world that would ‘snap her hand off for my novel. I wasn’t sure about her; I had the feeling we wouldn’t get on. But could I afford to miss the chance of having an agent? Would it give my work more credence?

I signed on the dotted line.

What a mistake!

The agent decided to negotiate a deal with a commercial editor. Having little experience about these matters, I thought it was the norm. Yes, I was that gullible. I paid up.

The manuscript came back. I read it in disbelief; if I followed all the ‘suggestions’ it would change from being a saga into romantic fiction. I like a bit of romance but it wasn’t what I’d written. The agent persuaded me to go with it.

I tried–with less and less interest. In the end I stopped. I didn’t recognise my story; I had no empathy with the characters. It wasn’t my book any more.

So I made a decision; I terminated the contract with the agent. Despite persuasive tactics from her I didn’t waiver. I’d lost faith in her.

In trepidation I emailed the editor at Honno. Luckily we parted on good terms; I’d thanked her for all her past help and encouragement. I explained what had happened and asked if she would reconsider my manuscript.

She would but no promises of acceptance.

After a week or two I had an offer of a contract. I accepted. And I’ve never looked back. Pattern of Shadows, published in 2010, was followed by the sequel, Changing Patterns and the last of the trilogy, Living in the Shadows, was published in July 2015.




Judith Barrow
Judith Barrow has lived in Pembrokeshire for thirty years. She is the author of three novels, and has published poetry and short fiction, winning several poetry competitions, as well as writing three children’s books and a play performed at the Dylan Thomas Centre. Judith grew up in the Pennines, has degrees in literature and creative writing and makes regular appearances at literary festivals.





3 copies of the book (open internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway



My thanks to Melanie Robertson-King for asking me to guest on her blog and, as importantly, for telling me how to do it. Because, although I’ve done many things sub-literary in my writing life – organised poetry festivals and book fairs, run a small press, Original Plus, and for nearly 20 years now the poetry magazine The Journal (once ‘of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry’); and although I’ve had many publishers of my work, 2 of which went disastrously bust while I was working as editor for them, Safkhet Publishing is the first that has suggested that I be a guest blogger. The novel by the way is Trees and Safkhet are based in Germany.


I’m based in the UK on the Cumbrian coast. Maryport describes itself as ‘By the sea near the Lakes.’ Not wholly sure how I ended up here, suffice to say that I like walking over mountains and I’ve moved about a bit. And my daughter Shelley Carmen was living in Edinburgh at the time we last moved. My usual author biog says, ‘… I was born Blackpool 1946, am now living in Maryport, Cumbria. A freelance writer, I have been a psychiatric nurse, residential social worker, milkman, plumber, laboratory analyst, groundsman, sailor, computer operator, scaffolder, gardener, painter & decorator…. working at anything, in fact, which has paid the rent, enabled me to raise my three daughters and which hasn’t got too much in the way of my writing.’ All of my daughters, and grandchildren, now live in the south, which annoyingly means I see a lot of the M6.

Here’s a picture of me on a mountain.


The currently popular singer Sam Smith by the way is a clone. One of many talented individuals, male and female, bearing my monicker. We altered singer Sam’s DNA and gave him a musical gene. Hope that clears up any confusion.

But about TreesThe initial publicity says ‘As H was for Hawk will T now be for Trees? D for Distraction? P for Platonic? S for Sam? Or Smith?’ Which I hope will give putative readers a decent clue to the book’s contents. ‘H for Hawk’ concerned itself with a reconciling of the bereaved through falconry. Trees has a different death, an adopted daughter, and the mother finding solace through helping her birth father in his attempt to reforest as much as he can of England. Consequently each chapter has throughout descriptions of trees and diagrammatic representations of trees. (A labour of love Trees has taken me years to complete.)


Although death might be the central feature of Trees what it mostly concerns itself with is the nature of family, and of those relationships beyond. Of friendships, and resentments, people we work with, of in-laws and outlaws. Of desires contained, physical capabilities and incapacities, sexual orientation, and trees.

Safkhet has set 31st October as the release date for Trees. You can read more about Trees here – http://www.safkhetpublishing.com/books/suspense/Trees.html

Or here – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trees-Sam-Smith-ebook/dp/B016L0BBXM/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444805525&sr=1-2&keywords=sam+smith%2C+trees

Other of my books are featured here – http://samsmithbooks.weebly.com

The Journal and Original Plus here – http://thesamsmith.webs.com/


The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan ~ GUEST POST


The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan

by Whitney Dineen


Thirty-four year old, Mimi Finnegan is the third of four daughters and in her eyes, by far, the most unremarkable. She has no singular accomplishment that can stand up to any of her sisters. And if that isn’t enough, she is the only single sibling in her family.

Mimi’s sisters decide that it’s time she gets serious about husband hunting, so they begin a campaign to find Mr. Right for her. Considering her most recent dating encounters include a night club owner who stuffs bratwurst in his pants and a WASPy trust fund baby, living happily under his mother’s thumb, Mimi is more than ready to meet THE ONE. Enter celebrated British novelist Elliot Fielding.

Sexual tension and anger heat up between the duo and it isn’t until Mimi discovers that Elliot is almost engaged to another that she realizes she is head-over-heels in love with him.

The journey will make you laugh, cry and want to pull your hair out from frustration! Mimi eventually learns that she is quite remarkable in her own right and never needed to worry that she lived in her sister’s shadows.

The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan is the perfect laugh-out-loud, feel good book for any woman who has ever felt that she wasn’t good enough.





The Importance of Connecting With Readers on Social Media

            Once upon a time (or back in the olden days as my little girls would say) authors had about the same amount of face recognition as the person who showed up to read your water meter. Let’s face it; you were more likely to recognize the meter reader because you had more opportunity to see him/her. Writers were just faceless people who sat in their homes in dirty pajamas, dodging their forty-seven cats and drinking gin, all the while weaving stories for your entertainment.

            Happily, this is no longer so. Yes, some authors may still be drunk in dirty jammies, but that’s to be expected. Social media has allowed us the ability to interact with a myriad of folks we would have otherwise have never met. The good news is I no longer have to stalk Fannie Flagg and Marian Keyes through more nefarious means, now I can do it right on Facebook. Okay fine, I never really stalked them but I wanted too. I always craved more after reading one of their books and felt this burning desire to ask a million questions about their process. Now I can gush ‘til my heart’s content and so far neither has unfriended me.

            The internet allows authors to pull their fans into their world and communicate with them in a more personal way. I love it! As a reader, I have been able to share my adoration with authors I adore and as a writer I‘ve been able to bask in the glow of praise and affection (please feel free to follow me on Facebook so you can feed my pathetic author ego) from my fans. Note I look WAY better on Facebook than I do in real life. That’s another thing to love about social media! You are more than welcome to follow me on Twitter but be warned, I’m more twit than tweeter. Proceed at your own risk.

            I love when people write to me and tell me how much they relate to my heroines. That’s what it’s about folks, making connections. Connecting with your reader base is a great way to know what people want to read and why.

            I have watched how many successful authors deal with their public and can tell you Jane Green and Sophie Kinsella are successful for a reason. In addition to being darn good writers, they engage with their readers. They are the smart ones who realize they’re where they are because of their fans.

            I’m lucky enough to be an author in an era when I can cyber chat with folks who’ve taken the time to read my books. I get to hear why they like certain characters and what about the stories speaks to them. For this reason, I consider social media a golden resource. Knowing what my audience enjoys reading helps me deliver that very thing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some cats to brush and laundry to do.




While attending the University of Illinois in Chicago, Whitney Dineen was discovered by a local modeling agent and began an unexpected career as a plus-size Ford model. She modeled in New York City before moving to Los Angeles with her husband. When she wasn’t modeling, she was in the kitchen, baking delights to share with friends. Soon, her friends began asking her to send baskets of her wonderful candies and cookies to business associates, agents and production studios. Word spread like wildfire, and the rest, as they say, is history. Whitney’s sensational creations are still in great demand by her loyal celebrity clientele (www.WhitneysGoodies.com). During “The Hollywood Years,” Whitney was bitten by the writing bug and started creating characters that are inspired by strong women with a great sense of humor. In addition to her love of chick-lit, Whitney has also written a series of adventure books for middle readers The first of which, Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory is available now.  Whitney and her husband, Jimmy, have relocated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest to raise their children, chickens and organic vegetables.

Her first rom com, She Sins at Midnight recently won 2015 Reader’s Favorite silver medal in chick-lit and Mimi was #1 or #2 in humor satire on Amazon for over 2 weeks.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Whitney-Dineen/11687019412?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WhitneyDineen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=Whitney+Dineen

Website: http://whitneydineen.com/


2 Ecopies of the book

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