~ Hazel Harps On

Fiction, Friction and Flowers

First, here are daffodils. You definitely deserve daffodils! They are the most enthusiastic of flowers, and I find the sight of them – especially when crowd of them are trumpeting together - truly life-affirming.

Spring is my favourite season and, despite all the sorrow in the world, nature just keeps giving us signs of hope – birdsong, sunshine, sprouting green buds and shining new petals. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be blitzed by a huge mix of feelings at the moment: delight in nature’s bounty, yet guilt that you’re enjoying it while many people are suffering; anger, disbelief and heartbreak at the devastation we see on the news; helplessness because there seems so little we can do; concern about the future… and all this on top of the usual petty stresses of personal life (in my case a looming deadline). All these feelings are valid, but can be overwhelming. It’s really important to take a break sometimes, and one way of doing that is to immerse yourself in fiction.

Here are a few quotations I've stumbled across recently that rang true to me, and I will leave for you to ponder.

Storytelling is a vaccine against war

~ Annette Simmons

The pen is mightier than the sword

~ Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book

~ Jane Smiley

I've recently been finding welcome escapism in the wonderful fiction of Clare Pooley, Samantha Tonge and Jane Sanderson. I've also been escaping (I have to, really!) into my own writing, and I hope other people can find solace there too. On the same day that Russia invaded Ukraine I received the humbling news that my third novel will be published in both those countries. It has always been my intention to write stories that will cheer people on and help them smile through the dark times. Although I put my characters through pain and grief, they ultimately find strength to overcome their challenges. Wherever my books end up in the world I can only hope they will do their bit to lift and hearten.

(These are a few foreign editions of Away With The Penguins: Ukrainian, German, Brazilian, Chinese, French and Russian. Amazing to think of those penguins waddling across the world!)

On a more mundane (but possibly relevant) note, it is my duty to inform you of two special offers. My debut novel, Ellie And The Harp Maker, can be bought for the peanutty price of 99p on kindle until the end of March (UK only). All set in the Exmoor countryside, it’s the story of quirky, gentle Dan (who obsessively makes harps and sandwiches), determined Ellie (who follows her dream and makes a vital discovery) and courageous Phineas (a pheasant who is destined for greatness).

And if you're in the USA, How The Penguins Saved Veronica (The American title of Away With The Penguins) is also available for a short time at a hugely reduced $1.99. Veronica, as you may know, is one extremely feisty octogenarian who has a thing or two to learn from the penguins!

Wishing you joy in all the little things, peace, hope, sunshine and plenty of really good books!

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