Monthly Archives: March 2017


– my favourite!

I think I’ve done all I can for today, it’s always a mistake to pack your toothbrush the day before you travel.

The cats were collected this morning and went off in a huff, but the cattery rang to say they had all settled in well, although en route there was one wee, one poo, and one throw-up; so they all made their feelings quite clear.

‘The Dry Well’ has popped up on Amazon at this link:…


Print Vs E-Book Sales Nonsense And A Definitive Recipe For A Modern Bestseller

Yes, Oh yes. Thanks yet again Tara.

Tara Sparling writes

Print Vs E-Book Sales Nonsense & The Definitive Recipe For A Modern Bestseller

Every month, I read another article about book trends which seemingly heralds a new dawn in bookselling. The only major trend I see in these articles is that people who write these articles are apparently incapable of reading data.

For instance, this article in the Guardian last week declares that print books are outselling e-books, as though this is an earth-shattering finding worthy of a scientific orgasm.

I am, broadly, an analyst of data by trade (and by trade I mean an actual day job which pays me an actual salary to settle my actual bills), so I’m going to say I know something about this. To extrapolate a trend or conclusion from data there must be evidence of a sustainable, or at least obvious, provable pattern. A teeny tiny spike in physical book sales plus a 4% drop in e-book sales does not constitute anything of the sort.

This desperate search for meaning where there is none wouldn’t be…

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School funding: Oxfordshire as a case study

John Howson

A version of this article appear in the Oxford Times  newspaper of the 23rd March 2017

Why, when it has been generally acknowledged that state schools in Oxfordshire are poorly funded, has the government decided some Oxfordshire schools should lose even more of their income?  This was the conundrum facing those of us concerned about education in Oxfordshire just before Christmas when the government at Westminster announced the second stage of their consultation around a new fairer funding formula for schools.

Most of the secondary schools in the county stand to see an increase in their funding under the new proposals. That’s the good news, although it doesn’t extend to all the secondary schools in the county and the increase may not be enough to cope with the rising costs all schools face.

The really shocking news is the cuts to funding faced by the majority of the small rural…

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Tomorrow the cats will be collected and taken to the cattery, and the day after that I set out for my much-needed break.

Bad timing of course, seeing that ‘The Dry Well’ has just been published, especially for someone who has no portable devices other than a Filofax.

I still believe in complete breaks from IT, for me anyway, and am honestly pretty worn out both by the writing and editing of the book, and the daily round of intensive gericatric care.

Looking forward to a rest, and to the company of friends and relations.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ll all share and promote the posts about ‘The Dry Well’ that are already out there, while I’m away.

Won’t you 🙂

Skorn small


25TH MARCH 2017

Sing now, ye people of the Tower of Anor,
for the Realm of Sauron is ended for ever,
and the Dark Tower is thrown down.

Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard,
for your watch hath not been in vain,
and the Black Gate is broken,
and your King hath passed through,
and he is victorious.

Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

And the Tree that was withered shall be renewed,
and he shall plant it in the high places,
and the City shall be blessed.

Sing all ye people! (JRRT)




Made it, just, to the publication date I wanted. Following the inevitable hiccups, the POD paperback of The Dry Well is now live on Ingram Spark and should pop up on online sellers pages soon, or can be ordered via your local bookshop. Its ISBN is 978-0-9954536-2-3

The eBook will be along shortly.

Details will be added to Goodreads asap.




The cats tell me they feel all this boring blogging about booxes has gone on quite long enough, and how do I think their fan-club feels with no mews abut their noses, constipation or misplaced pooing?

So here’s a mogblog for a change. How are they doing? This is what I told the cattery just a few days back, in anticipation of their upcoming stay while I depart to visit family:

‘Felix – much as he was except that his drinking has gone up. I have bookings for the three of them to have their Flea Program injections as soon as I get back, and will be taking Felix separately so that they can do a blood test for his kidney health as well.

Fluff – still needs the crystals to keep off the constipation, but seems pretty well otherwise. His coat is re-established now and I keep finding the odd matt, which I clip off once I can get him in a suitable grip! He sleeps contentedly for most of the day, his appetite seems good.

Things are slowly moving on for Mystic, but he’s basically well and happy and cuddly. The erosion of his nose is worse than when you last saw him. and he had a spell of severe nosebleeds through February and early March, I had to call the vet round for one that I could not staunch. He is still on his painkiller, but now takes an antibiotic daily to help stave off the inflammation and infection that cause the bleeding. It’s doing its job so far. Now and then his left eye flares up, and I have a partly used bottle of steroid drops I’ll leave with you in case that happens, it’s still going to be within the ‘month after opening’ while he’s with you. So that’s two daily meds and one possible, plus of course I know you’ll call in the vet for anything that alarms you about any of them.

After 20 months they seem settled and happy, Felix still not too companionable with the others but he does seem to be relaxing with me at last. Maybe if he needs treatment for kidneys that will help his anxiety too?’

The lady from the cattery was kind enough to reply to me – ‘thank goodness they found you.’ It honestly seems the other way round to me, they exhaust me but charm me and I love them very much, even when washing their bottoms or scrubbing bits of the carpet! Which admittedly is much less frequent now.

They send gracious greetings and tail-waves to all their followers.


lowresdw sample-shads

The Giveaway is finished, and I will be posting ‘Shadows of the Trees’ to the lucky winner in the next couple of days.

This seems a good point to go back to my informal run-through the Skorn works to date, and talk about ‘Shadows.’ We open with the words of Iranor:

What you have said is true, my children. I have made these beings out of the shadows of the trees and in your likeness. In each shadow I placed a heart like the hearts of my children, so that they are not as animals are: they love and hate, and they speak. But neither are they as you are, for they are mortal. Each one will die, as a flower dies, and this is why they are unhappy, weak, fearful, slow-witted, ignorant and unseeing.

Next a review by Clare O’Beara
Posted December 23, 2015 in ‘Fresh Fiction’

Fantasy Saga:
Iranor walks on the beach, an Immortal among the people in these early days of the world. She meets a fisherman mourning his brother lost at sea and asks him to teach her what it means to be mortal. Sue Bridgwater & Alistair McGechie have created a lovely fantasy reminiscent of the Earthsea books by Ursula LeGuin and the Celtic tales of the Fianna in SHADOWS OF THE TREES.

Kor-Sen is a small boy who lives with his mother Berget, a weaver, in a hot, busy town. When they are attacked because there is no man in the family, they move to a leather worker’s home in a different quarter and try to carry on with life. But Kor-Sen’s curiosity has been awakened and he starts to ask questions about why he doesn’t have a father. He is taught to read runes along with a girl who is taught in secret as the temple priests forbid educating girls. Meanwhile, Drewin and Saranna, the children of Iranor and her now-dead fisherman, are playing under the trees on the Isle of the East – but they are not immortal, and weapons can harm them as they are to discover when they travel to the mortal world.

The separate journeys of the three young people form a richly woven coming of age story, walking us among undersea denizens, showing us the humble life of fishing folks and elucidating the secretive ways of the Temple and Academy. Kor-Sen learns to seize opportunities, make life twist to his wishes. Saranna, like most women with few choices, goes through life accepting her fate and letting others decide her actions. Drewin learns about fraternal relationships and cunning. Each one meets and loses friends, and finds themself at the end of a journey changed from the start.

I enjoy that this fantasy departs from the usual heroic quest or fight against evil. We see people choosing paths in the dawn of the world. While we do not see magic worked, the fight against fate, demi-god heritage and circumstance is quite vivid enough to draw us in to the characters’ lives. Locations include a semi-sentient forest and an underworld, so contrast and creativity abound. This is the second story in the Skorn series (after Perian’s Journey) by Sue Bridgwater & Alistair McGechie and after reading the gently worded SHADOWS OF THE TREES you can look forward to another tale to be called THE DRY WELL. Fantasy readers who want something different to the usual run of sword and sorcery novels should enjoy the series.

Another review from Amazon;

I enjoyed this gentle and searching fantasy set in an earlier time when, as with the Fianna in Ireland, an immortal woman travels to a mortal shore, meets a man, brings him home and changes destiny. (In Finn’s day, his son Oisin went to Tir na nOg with Niamh where he never aged, but on touching the soil of Erin again after many years he became an old man.)

The tale focuses on Drewin and Saranna, the children of Iranor the Immortal and her sadly mortal lover. As demigods, the children have to choose their course, but the choice is inadvertently made and they are banished (similar to the fall from Eden) to make their way in an unfamiliar and unforgiving world. Separated, they don’t know if the other is alive or if they will ever meet again. Drewin travels and learns, while Saranna as a girl in sparse communities has few options open to her and works her way up to run households. I could not imagine her leaving her own child behind, but demigods would be different to the rest of us.

We also meet Kor-Sen, a boy who learns to ask questions such as why doesn’t he have a father, and why can’t girls be taught to read. He later goes on to be well educated, but I thought he might have done more about seeing to it that girls could read. With a shrewd mind and occasionally finding himself among simple people, the much-travelling Kor-Sen applies himself to learning how to prosper, and finding a woman to suit him. He came across to me as self-interested which may be a product of his early life. We also meet other interesting characters.

If you’re tired of the same old heroic quests, or ever more complex magical power systems, this book Shadows Of The Trees is a refreshing change.