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I wanna be a Horseback Librarian!

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WPA packhorse librarians, Kentucky, 1935-ish (image: public domain )   This year, we've all come to appreciate what is essential to our lives - and it's not always what the government thinks. Yes, we all need food, and sometimes we need medicine. But books are also essential items in my view, and so are libraries - without my local library, I might never have become a reader or a writer, and my world would be much smaller. You can travel through the pages of a book, as well as learn things Google can't tell you. Another essential part of my childhood was the local riding stable, where I spent my weekends helping in the yard in return for rides, and horses have been an important part of my life ever since. The two activities work well together: one outdoors and active with an element of risk, the other indoors and involving sitting for long periods, if fairly risk-free. Usually, I manage to combine these two passions in the pages of my books. I am the Great Horse , for exam

What you CAN do in November!

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November is never exactly fun, and this year we have a second lockdown to make it hardly worth the 30 days on a calendar. My writing room calendar has a rather weary-looking unicorn making its slow way through the stars, and I feel much the same myself.  Seems the best method of escape this month is through the pages of a book, which can whisk you through the back of a wardrobe into Narnia, out to the stars, back in time to ancient Rome, into the future, or into someone else's head. In a book, you can be a hero or a heroine, ride a horse over the mountains, fly on a dragon's back, win all your battles, and eat cake even if all the cafes are shut.  And if - the unicorn forbid - you run out of books to read, why not write your own? Because, with perfect timing for lockdown-take-two, it's National Novel Writing Month! Or, for those in the know, NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel du

Genghis Khan rides again!

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It's been a tough year for many people, and things were pretty tough in publishing even before the dreaded virus and its associated emergency rules locked down half the world. The latest casualty of this summer is the small but passionate UK publisher of historical fiction, Greystones Press, which has sadly now closed its doors, taking my YA Genghis Khan novel  Bone Music  out of print, along with all the other books published by them. Readers might gain briefly from this, since you can still get these books from third party sellers at a reasonable price - but be quick if you want one, because there won't be any more printed! BONE MUSIC (Greystones Press 2018 edition) As someone whose debut novel was published back in 1999, I'm no stranger to my books going out of print. Books have their season and publishers move on - unless the book happens to be Harry Potter, of course, when publishers cling on to the rights and issue new editions for decades, but unfortunately for my ba