Friday, 16 December 2011

OOOOH, I say! Amazon have sold out of Witherstone for the 3rd time!


Those lovely Amazon people have SOLD OUT of Witherstone for the THIRD TIME!
They'd better hurry up and get some more in, otherwise I'll have to resort to buying one on Kindle !
At least they never sell out.

Luckily Marketplace sellers on Amazon still have good old fashioned paperbacks.  
So THAT'S alright then, Matron!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Woo, what a fab review! Can't stop smiling!!!

Received another fabulous bit of feedback for Witherstone yesterday which just about blew my socks off, and I can't stop smiling...

'I came across Witherstone through the review in Big Issue North and bought it on Kindle. I have had a long career involved with children’s literature (headteacher of three primary schools, English Adviser for East Riding of Yorkshire and, most recently, early reading consultant to DfE), so I hope I know what I am talking about when I say Witherstone is a really outstanding read – good old-fashioned storytelling, in the very best sense; engaging and gripping as only the most skilfull writing can be. A massive well done – and thank you. Like, I suspect many who have already read, and many more who will read the book, I was devastated to discover at the end that it was only Part I. Whilst it is a great joy to think there is more to come, the frustration is also considerable. Please press on apace.'

Gordon Askew.

Thank you Gordon Askew, and thanks again to Antonia Charlesworth and The Big Issue in the North for reviewing Witherstone! x

Monday, 5 December 2011

Guest Appearance at Word Fest 7th December

It's Literature Week at Cardinal Newman College, and the College have kindly invited me to come along to this year's Word Fest and meet the students on Wednesday morning,
and do a reading from Witherstone
and a Q and A session with them.

Really looking forward to it!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Guest Article for A Dead Good Blog

Those Dead Good Poets from Blackpool (who regularly grace the Lancashire Writing Hub's Word Soup live literature nights at The Continental in Preston) invited me to contribute an article to their discussion about writing exercises this week on A Dead Good Blog.

All of the articles produced by the Dead Good Poets are as useful to prose writers as they are to poets, and you can read more of them here, and I'd like to thank them Dead Good Poets for inviting me.

And here it is:

'The musings about writing exercises on the Dead Good Blog this week have been thought-provoking, and in thinking about the point of writing exercises, I agree with everyone: sometimes they are really useful, sometimes what they produce seems forced and useless, and sometimes they are essential.

All writers have different techniques, and at certain times taking different approaches to our writing can be invaluable. For me, writing exercises are just the different things writers do when they write, and at times we need to try different things:

1. At writing workshops - getting the creative juices flowing even though you’re not sitting in your usual corner, cat on knee and pen/keyboard in hand, but with a group of strangers… or getting started by yourself when you’ve made some writing time (fed the cat, tidied your desk, disconnected yourself from Facebook and Twitter), only to sit with the cursor blinking accusingly on that oh-so-blank screen while it waits for you to get cracking: Exercises here force us to respond to stimuli and write something.

2. Stuck in the middle of something and not sure where it is going.

3. Final redrafting stages.

Stages of writing requiring different approaches, so you try things out and find what works for you. Some of my favourites which do it for me (and anyone caught in writing workshops with me at UCLan or at the Lancashire Writing Hub will know these, so apologies if it’s you):

1. Getting started. My muse often manifests itself through the visual, so if stuck for an idea, or how to progress the ideas I do have:
I type a random word into Google images (seaweed; bramble; tree), or key words of an idea in progress, find a picture that grabs me then use my responses to it (mermaid’s hair; trapped; twigs like bony fingers) to write a key scene. Even if you end up discarding things, the poetry of language is all in the mind so stimulating your mind visually or verbally is the key.

2. Stuck in the middle of things:
Leave your work-in-progress for a few days but let it move into your mind while you are walking, digging the garden, washing up, lying in bed. As Ste says, “live in the story”. Ideas sit in your mind and almost create themselves if you give them the time and space to do it.
Read through what you’ve got so far – this can trigger the next stage.
Write a summary/synopsis of the overall piece – what it’s about, and what the themes are. This can help to see where to go next.

3. Redrafting exercise:
- Identify underlying themes beneath what your piece is about, and the images and words you are using to create these. So, for instance, your poem is about the narrator’s relationship with his father, but what images and words are you using to show this? If using words associated with “cold” to show the father’s expression, for instance, try extending associations into his movements, the narrator’s physical and emotional responses, the landscape, etc, using cold colours, hard images, negative associations: “pale eyes”, “chill skin”, “stone”, “breath ghosting”, “empty sky”...
Is the father a threat? Does his grin suggest a certain predatory wolfishness you can extend into his movements (“slinking”), and into the landscape (the smell of animal fur or blood; a forest path), almost subconsciously suggesting the sinister landscape of fairy tale and a sense of ourselves as vulnerable, for instance. In redrafting, we can use techniques to intensify underlying themes and deepen the overall meaning.

Despite being a prose writer rather than a poet, for me all good writing is poetry as it’s all about how we use language, and the more poetic the better for me. Writing exercises are no more than the techniques we use to stimulate our minds and progress our writing in all of its stages, and as such, are as valuable as everything else we do. Writing is hard work, and the trick of it is to use everything that works for us to end up with something which reads so naturally that all that hard work is invisible.'


See A Dead Good Blog here! 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Thank you thank you thank you... everyone who has been giving such rave reviews of Witherstone!  

It's been an amazing few weeks, and all of your lovely feedback has made me believe the decision to publish was definitely the right one!

I've received emails and Facebook messages and Tweets and personal comments with such marvelous words as:

"absolutely LOVING Witherstone Jane!"
"91% into the book and loving it- but know it's going to end soon and not liking that- get the next one out J WE WANT IT!"  
"5 STARS. 13 yo heroine summons spirits and desecrates graves: Wilkie Collins meets Dennis Wheatley..." (!)
"just finished the book, may regret staying awake quite so late to finish it though, loved it, and how far into next year will I have to wait for the next one?"
"Jane, ok you need to get writing on the next one please. I couldn't stop reading and now I've finished it. Will probably have to read it again at a slower pace but if I like a book I just have to go for it. Read it while I was cooking tea and everything."
"My God, woman, I couldn't put it down".

Antonia Charlesworth has reviewed Witherstone for The Big Issue in the North  - and the book is getting 5* Reviews on Amazon!!!!!

The Big Issue in the North review said:

"...The story follows 14-year-old Hephzibah Creswell, or Eppie, as she protects her family from an unknown enemy. Following the English Civil Wars, the plague consumes the small English village where Eppie and her working class family live. But when she acts to save her younger sister’s life, her actions unleash devastating consequences. This was a period when society was obsessed with the idea of witchcraft and Brunning weaves in a sense of the paranormal themes... the family are portrayed as likeable and believable characters, keeping the tale anchored in a sense of reality. Subtle political themes counteract the extraordinary and add historical context. Despite a slightly slow start, the book develops a tense and complicated plot with an exciting climax. The second book in this series is out late next year and readers will undoubtedly be itching to find out what happens next. However, it also stands on its own and those who enjoy historical tales won’t be disappointed."

and reviewers on Amazon said:

"Brilliant!! I absolutely loved Witherstone; very well written, with good depth of characters. The heroine is very likeable and realistic, and the plot is really mysterious and believable - resulting in a huge amount of anticipation. It's genuinely 'unputdownable', and was still circling through my mind long after I'd finished..."
"A Gripping Read: ... drew me in and kept me hooked from start to finish. The story is told through the eyes of Eppie as she struggles to save her family from an unknown enemy... full of convincing historical detail and I found myself transported back to a seventeenth century England immersed in superstition, magic and dark political forces. I don't usually read books which include superstition and witchcraft but this is a story about real life struggle. The plot is gripping and the narrative carries the story with pace, creating a feeling of deep unease as Eppie uncovers the truth.....I can't wait for the next instalment."
"heart racing: I could not put it down, there were moments in the book where my heart was racing with both nerves and excitement. An absolutely brilliant book...".

Thank you, you lovely people. 

Monday, 21 November 2011

Good News and Bad News...

The BAD news is Amazon direct sales have sold out of paperback copies of Witherstone AGAIN over the weekend...
although the GOOD NEWS is that the Marketplace sellers on Amazon still have copies in stock, and of course it's still available for Kindle and iPad .

But the GREAT NEWS to those of you a-waiting for your copy of Witherstone directly from me - the third consignment of books was delivered this morning!


Please form an orderly email queue - and don't panic, those of you who have already requested a copy will receive it by this Wednesday (23rd) and there'll still be several left for new orders, plus consignment #4 for yet another 50 copies is already on order and should arrive within the next 2 weeks!

And Amazon will undoubtedly be restocking paperbacks within the next few days too.  Phew!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Woo hoo!

Great News!

Witherstone is now directly available from so you don't need to wait for 2 weeks while it wends its way slowly across the water from the U.S. of A. anymore!


Monday, 31 October 2011


'Pilgrimage to Molenbeek' by Brueghel has haunted me for years, not least because the "explanation" for the painting - "a pilgrimage of epileptics" or "dancing mania" - doesn't quite tally with the nagging question of why the women appear to be being marched against their will by a sinister group of men.
It seems to me to represent the reality of accusations of witchcraft throughout the centuries.  

A reality explored in Witherstone.

One reviewer of Witherstone said:
"... I found myself transported back to a seventeenth century England immersed in superstition, magic and dark political forces. I don't usually read books which include superstition and witchcraft but this is a story about real life struggle. The plot is gripping and the narrative carries the story with pace, creating a feeling of deep unease as Eppie uncovers the truth..."

Thursday, 27 October 2011

There's a Virus going round

There's a bit of a virus going round which seems to be unusually contagious - and I rather like this one!

It appears to be spreading via Facebook especially, but also passing on through word of mouth which has already led to my first official Author Invitation to the Literature Week at Cardinal Newman College in December, where I will be doing a reading from Witherstone and engaging in a Q & A session with Creative Writing students, and the second consignment of books is being posted out left right and centre so I'm going to have to order another batch within the next few days at this rate...

I like this virus!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Witherstone ! ! !

Witherstone ! ! !

Out now in paperback, and for Kindle and iPad.


Find out more!


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Monday, 17 October 2011

Sunday, 16 October 2011




Blown away...!

pic courtesy
Well I'm just about blown away...!

All the advance copies of Witherstone have GONE and it's selling steadily on Kindle too - and the book doesn't even officially launch until Friday!

For those of you still after an advanced paperback copy from me personally - the next consignment is arriving TOMORROW so I'll be in touch in the next coupla days...

...and we're officially into the last FIVE days of the countdown! Woo hoo!!!!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Who is Master Nalgah?

Who is Master Nalgah, and what part will he play in Eppie's story?

Only 6 days left and then you can find out!

~ ~

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Monday, 10 October 2011

and I'll have a Tea please, Bob, as I have a little announcement to make...

W-Day is Friday 21st October!

Witherstone will be launching into the big wide world in paperback on Friday 21st October - although it's already available for Kindle and iPad NOW on, and is already available on in paperback (oh how lucky, Anthony and David!)

For UK dwellers, the paperback will be available here from 21st October...

...although a lucky(?) few will receive their advanced copies of the paperback directly from me a few days before the official launch...!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

and an "i" please Bob...

Hmmm, wasn't quite the "eye" I had in mind but pretty good...!

Friday, 7 October 2011

I'll have a "W" please, Bob.

Yes it's COUNTDOWN time!

How exciting is this!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Red Letter Day

Woo hoo! Got Something REALLY Interesting in the post today and am really enjoying checking it out from front cover to back - literally!

And it's lookin good...!

So the Countdown begins....

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Fun #3

Not really a Diversion - honest.

This is why we write and read, and this is why I'm spending all my spare time at the moment getting Witherstone ready for publication:



- Tweet your #myfavouritebook today!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Fun #2

Now this bit really is fun!

Got exactly what I wanted - thanks to a very helpful Master Nalgah and my even more helpful and wonderfully talented daughter who didn't tut and sigh anywhere near as much as I would have done if I was showing her yet again how to use the editing programme in such a way that the lettering actually comes along with the picture when saving it elsewhere...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Fun #1.

- Formatting pages for paperbacks is not the same as the formatting required for Kindle;
- formatting pages for paperback requires choices in final book size (trim size) AND in font size, spacing etc FIRST;
- formatting for Kindle involves REMOVING all inset spaces for new paragraphs and every single new piece of dialogue throughout the entire book, AND inserting page breaks after every chapter;
- formatting for print involves very precise considerations of font size and line-spacing, as well as the gutter spacing and margins top, bottom and outer edge ... not to mention how it actually looks on the page; 
- formatting for Kindle involves completely different considerations of font sizing and line-spacing, nowt at all to do with gutters etc, and everything to do with how it looks on the page;
- formatting for paperback involves either paying someone good money to design your front and back covers OR you having "fun" doing that more times than I have fingers to count in order to ensure it looks right in print AND meets their sizing criteria including ensuring all words are well within 0.5" of the edges;
- and formatting the front cover for Kindle involves completely different things, most of which appear to be invisible, and all of which involve having "fun" doing it more times than I have fingers and toes to count...

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Spine. Bleed. Gutter.

spine pic courtesy
My daughter's right.

This publishing lark is fun, and the terminology for layout reads like the keywords of a particularly gruesome thriller.

Spine. Bleed. Gutter. There's definitely a story in there.

Friday, 2 September 2011

A Writer's Challenge

I've been set two challenges (well, one is more of a dare) to achieve by November - but I can only choose one of them...

Rob set me the challenge of writing the first three chapters of my next novel Ivan Wolf by the end of November.

My daughter set me the challenge of publishing Witherstone by November. Self-publishing, obviously. She thinks it would be great fun.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Oh Buzzer.

Managed to get the new website all sorted in time to get back to writing Witherstone Book 2 today... only the bees have other ideas.

A mass of bees at the entrance to Hive 3 (aka The Ritz) means they need more living space asap so I need to get in there and sort that out before they decide to leave!

Good news is the rain is keeping them there for now. Bad news is they don't particularly like being out in the rain when I'm rearranging their living accomodation. Neither do I, come to that.

Another (non)writing day, sigh...

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Don't tell anyone but I've just set up laptop in the garden to work on Book 2 ALL MORNING!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Lost and Found

Printing off Witherstone Book 2: The Hunt Begins with progress so far to take on holiday and grab the opportunity of Time at last, and get back into Hephzibah Creswell's world.

Just have to remember to staple the pages together as the webcam shows that beach is lookin pretty windy...!

Thursday, 28 April 2011


Spending too much of it on all the wrong things. Some of them are worthwhile doing, like the day job for instance, and building bee hives, and reading other writers' work and giving them feedback, and spending time doing Stuff with them indoors over the holidays, but when was the last time I wrote anything? It was so many weeks ago I can't remember. Think about it a lot though, especially in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Well, that was interesting! Some nice comments came out of the YTB Bookclub discussion of Witherstone, and a few of these are:

§         loved this, and particularly liked that the family were an ordinary working family. I liked the character of Grandad Creswell, a sort of curmudgeonly socialist!

(which prompted this on TwitterRedScareBot Robot J. McCarthy
@Commies R here! RT @siancummins #yettobebooks 'a sort of curmudgeonly socialist' -   - lol !!)

But back to the discussion...

§         there was a strong political string to the book, with Grandad Creswell and Grandma tugging not-neccesarily-opposite ends of it

§         It’s an enormously tense story, but with very careful detail that is very interesting and balances the powerful surge of the main plot

-      I mean detail in the sense of elemental happenings I think, rather than overdescription…there’s none of that. You can reach out and touch things in the story, so the characters’ ordinary lives are of as much interest as the unordinary things that happen to them.

o        I read the book as an adult without feeling it was written for a younger person and not for me, but could also see that it would be compelling and readable to someone of 9 – late teens.

So how does it work as part of a series?

-   ... it works very well as a stand-alone, but at the same time – knowing there are more – I’m gagging to see what happens next!

Favourite characters...?

- Grandad Creswell and Eppie – angry socialist grandad who makes a lot of sense, and tenacious, layered, likeable main character

And more from Twitter...

#yettobebooks 'I think the book is really exciting'-

#yettobebooks the “truth” is always more complex than a simple one-side or the other'-


Monday, 21 March 2011

rather excited!

Discussion of Witherstone at the YTBP Bookclub tonight at 8pm...!

Nervous, bemused, and rather excited - and really looking forward to it.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Monday, 7 March 2011

success floating in the ether

Fab to see Jenn Ashworth taking her well-deserved seat amongst the top 12 new novelists of 2010 - really looking forward to her new novel Cold Light as A Kind of Intimacy is a really great read, the kind that creeps into your mind and stays there long after you've finished the book.

Christine's daughter Rachel Cotterill has published her debut novel Rebellion.

While I... well, I'm nearly half-way through building a new beehive.

I'm also nearly half-way through the first draft of the second book in the Witherstone series, The Hunt Begins, and it's coming along really well, and I was hoping to have something even more interesting to report by now, but Time is a slow beast when you're waiting for Someone interested in Something to get back to you...

Still. Enjoying watching the crows in the woods every morning as they collect twigs for their fabulous nests. Spring is coming, Master Nalgah tells me so.

Monday, 21 February 2011

people power

It is the case that if ordinary people speak out, change can happen. Whether on the North African continent or in British forests, ordinary people can make a difference.

If we can force the Government to think again about selling off the last publicly-owned forests in Britain and force the potential reprieves of execution for some of our libraries, then we can try our damnedest to save all of our libraries.

Speak Out for your library and  other public services, which are under threat as never before .

Once they are gone, they are gone.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Why are libraries important?

Well, at risk of stating the bleedin obvious, libraries are at the heart of culture and learning and, above all, democrary. Libraries are there for everyone to use. If I hadn't grown up with access to local libraries and as many free books as I could eat, I would not have passed my O Levels, gone on to study A Levels, degree, and post-graduate study, and jobs in academia and the arts sector. And I would not have become a life-long reader and writer. It really is as simple as that.

As Alan Gibbons states in his open letter to DCMS ministers Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey:

As a consequence of the Comprehensive Spending Review 400 libraries are under threat. Compare this with the situation in South Korea where 180 new libraries are being built. South Korea is top of the PISA international rankings for competence in reading. In ten years the UK has fallen from seventh to twenty-fifth. This is no time to cut libraries.

We call on you to heed the view of the people. Libraries are a vital part of local communities. The National Literacy Trust has given evidence that visiting a library makes you twice as likely to be a good reader, the very foundation stone of academic and social achievement.

Which would we rather have? Or should I say, which of the following do we need? -


or this?

The answer to the question is in what we do with these...

Campaign for the Book:

Public Library Service Campaign page:

Within the next two weeks the number of public libraries in the UK could be cut drastically. The Government aren't listening.

Make them stop and listen:

STEP 1 –Stop and Help on Facebook - ask your friends to give Public Library Service Campaign a 'Like' for our Libraries on FB and suggest the link to as many friends on FB as possible -  

STEP 2 – Everyone Get ready - - Give 52 seconds on You Tube ; give a 'Like' our Libraries again - AND THEN on You Tube please comment how a book or the library has made an impact on your life. Please Email this link to everyone in your address book and ask them to comment.

STEP 3: - There will be a ready, steady -GO ! and we all email Downing Street using their online form to nominate the Public Library Service Inquiry campaign for one of David Cameron's Big Society Awards. This is why Public Library Service Campaign are going for 100,000 likes on FB and You Tube - 100,000 is the number of people you used to need for a Downing Street e petition. The Government stopped those petitions before the cuts.

For more information about the Inquiry visit National Public Library Service Inquiry


Thursday, 3 February 2011


Well, Book 2 is well under way now, and have reached a decision regarding the length of the series... that I'll be reducing it from 5 books to 3.

Bit of a drop, you might say, but I think the overall plot will work better - and most importantly, may read better, split over 3 books overall. The only thing is that books 2 and 3 will consequently be a leetle more voluminous than book 1. (Those who know me well will know what a "leetle more" is likely to involve...!)

I've got to the stage in Book 2 where the decision needs to be made before I can seriously progress any further, and following a brief but rather interesting conversation with someone in the publishing world a couple of weeks ago, my decision has been made.

Of course, there's always a proviso, and if a certain prospective publisher reading this would prefer 5 books to 3 after all, then please note my decision is not legal and binding.

pic of crows courtesy beaconstreetusa_imagesCA1IFROL

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Our Forests need us!

There's a petition to
save our forests
from being sold off from public ownership into private hands - please make your mark here:

and tell all your friends.

Master Nalgah and all his woodland friends will thank you.

Photo of crows making a wonderfully raucous racket over our woodlands courtesy of

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Save Our Libraries

The Public Library Service Inquiry Campaign is a new group 'calling for an inquiry into the future of public library services in the United Kingdom. Within two months almost half the UK's libraries could be axed.
Aim 1: 100,000 members by 24 Jan 2011 to make government hear our call - that the cost of short term cuts now on our future competitiveness, knowledge and culture will be massive and our ability to meet the challenges of tomorrow irretrievably damaged. Please help - the future is now in our hands. Are you ready to hold on to it? And not let it go?

And it isn't "just" books - I know, I know, "just" and "books" are a contradiction in terms - but it isn't "just" books we'll lose. Many people rely on their local libraries for internet access too.

Sign up and join the Public Library Service Inquiry Campaign on Facebook and tell all your book-lovin' library-lovin' literary-lovin' friends.!/home.php?sk=group_171907272852321
and after you've added yourself, JOIN their dedicated Facebook page too at

Thursday, 6 January 2011


so teeth-grindingly angry and frustrated at libraries closing. Libraries CLOSING? Did we ever think we'd see the day?
And don't even get me started on cuts to social services. Front-line services won't be affected? Only if you're a banker.

pic courtesy of