Sparkles & Wellies – The Great Estate Festival review.

Great Estate Festival 2018

Scorrier House all dressed up!

Having just returned from the glorious Great Estate Festival at Scorrier House, Redruth, this two-year-old little known event, at an even lesser known location, has restored my faith in summer festivals.

Jaded by past experiences of rip-off, fleece you while we’ve got you, cramped, poseur pouting events; I was unsure how three days of partying in this wooded estate was going to be. It was the welcome salve my heart and soul needed.

Firstly, and possibly most importantly, the security and festival staff were so friendly. From the minute we arrived they were smiling and cheerful, despite the mizzly rain which soon turned the already damp ground into mud. Quirky signs were spotted as we hauled our camping gear past the family field, into two more open spacious fields overlooking the house and festival grounds. No tripping over guy ropes here – room aplenty with shady tree spots, ample water points and enough toilets – cleaned and refreshed regularly with essential paper and hand spray, to go around.

‘Gin?’ gestured a high-viz jacketed guard as we passed the entrance to the Secret Gin Garden. ‘Soon,’ we replied, sleeping bags and camping stove banging against our welly clad legs.

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Review of Matt Haig’s ‘How to Stop Time’

We have set up a bookshop!

The seeds that were stirring from the last blog post, (written in January, posted a few days ago), were planted in the fertile soil of Lostwithiel at the beginning of March, and have sprouted into a small independent bookshop – Lost in Books. It is housed within another larger shop called ‘Choughs’, and for now, my sister and myself who run it, are happy for it to stay under Chough’s wings as it starts to grow. Come and see us if you are in Lostwithiel, Cornwall ever and check out our website at

As part of the bookshop we have a book group. This is both an online facebook group and also meets in person. We held our first monthly meetings in the last week of April, (we have an afternoon and evening meeting to accommodate all). The book chosen was the one reviewed below, Matt Haig’s ‘How to Stop Time’.


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First book of the New Year! – updated in April

I wrote the section below in January, but it stayed stuck in drafts. However, a flurry of lovely new followers has led me to believe I should pick up where I left off and start blogging again. So here is this from the start of the year and I promise to follow hot on its heels with a review or two. The photo below shows a mood board for the new bookshop and a pile of books read, being read, and to be read!

blog photo books

Jan 2nd 2018: My reading has reached a fast pace now and I’m cracking through books; several each week. I’ve been reading voraciously just for the sheer joy of reading. As yet, these last few months, I’ve not blogged about my reading.

I finally finished my masters receiving the results mid-December. I felt flat and rather deflated when the final marks came in. It was a year marked by incredible highs and incredible lows; a rather tumultuous one that bucked and kicked as I clung on. In the end, as autumn moved in to winter, I fell into a void. I lost my sense of direction, my drive and my enthusiasm. But I think these had to go as they were attached to my negative pushing and striving aspects that constantly criticised me for not being enough, and those around me too.

I hibernated – with books. This has been an interesting quiet and introspective time. It doesn’t feel over but, as with the sun appearing for longer each day, I’m feeling the first seeds stir in my mind. Seeds of possibility for the future. A future connected with writing, reading and books.

And so to my blog! I’m feeling the desire to review the books I read again. Keep reading as I will be posting.

Writing Journal – Part 3 of 3

Part 3: Structure and Editing with a review of The Periodic Table by Primo Levi, published Sept 2000, Penguin.


We have looked at the basics for a novel and the character. Now we have an idea and we have got to know our main character, and hopefully a few other characters that will appear in the story. Next we need to think about how we will structure our novel and, beyond that, redrafting and editing.

A story is the linear order of events; the plot is the order of how those events are related. A scene helps move the plot forward, builds characterisation and can help the narrative arc development. A chapter helps create the structure. In creating the structure of the novel some writers will plot the chapters and/or scenes on post-it notes.

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Writing Journal – Part 2 of 3

Part 2: Character – with a review of Searching for the Secret River by Kate Grenville, published July 2007, Canongate Books; and Conspiracy by SJ Parris, published Jan 2017, Harper.


Our seminar on character throws up some interesting points. The protagonist in a book is the main character. However, will my protagonist also be the narrator of the story? By telling the story in 1st person voice –‘I did this or that’, my protagonist is also my narrator. By telling it in 3rd person –‘she did this or that’, my narrator becomes another character. Is the narrator the author or a separate person?

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What makes a successful historical novel?



I’m writing my first historical novel, a fictionalised account of my Ukrainian-born great-grandmother, and I’m struggling.  How much research should I do? Can I make up facts? What is more important, the character’s voice or the plot? Is there even a market for this type of story?

So, I’ve decided to reach out to those in the know and ask them ‘what makes a successful historical novel?’ The results of my enquiries to a variety of authors, agents, bloggers and publishers are set out below.

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Writing Journal – Part 1 of 3

I’m studying for my Masters in Professional Writing and taking a module in novel writing. This three part blog series will capture some of the module’s themes alongside reviews of the novels I am currently reading. This way it will hopefully serve as an analysis of the novel writing process.

Part 1: Ideas – with a review of ‘The Secret Wife’ by Gill Paul, published August 2016, Avon Books.

What do you need to make a novel? Apart from the obvious – setting, characters and a plot – there are the less obvious – point of view, texture and language landscape. I need to think about the atmosphere I wish to create right from the start. Who will narrate my story and how will it sound? Will it be a chatty, first person, dialogue-heavy novel, or perhaps third person narration with beautifully descriptive passages? Another thought – is my book to be a writerly or readerly book? Will I expect my reader to fill in the blanks or will they be taken along for the ride?

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