Dark Horse Theatre Premiere

Dark HorseInspirational playwright and director, Vanessa Brooks, gave a talk and ran a workshop for the Holmfirth Writers’ Group last night. She is currently the artistic director of Dark Horse Theatre company, a leading vocational trainer of actors with learning disabilities, developing skills in preparation for work in the industry at the highest level. She is very excited about their current play. This is what she had to say,

“SING SOMETHING SIMPLE is shaping up to be a terrific comedy. We begin rehearsals in just over a week,  three terrific London based actors will join Dark Horse actor Joe Sproulle to work on a show that’s all about love, life, friendship and happiness and its’ so good to be working on a piece that makes you smile! I hope lots of people come along, enjoy a cracking plot which goes at a lick and some fabulous physical sequences worked up to Easy Listening classics such as ‘Volare’ ‘The Party’s Over’ and ‘I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts’!  SING SOMETHING SIMPLE is a comedy for everyone seeking an antidote to troubled times and I just know its going to be a great night out at the theatre.”

GroupAlbertHall frame

 Sing Something Simple






Spencer’s Mum is a jazz singer, his best friend Bonnie plays the mandolin and his brother Kit is heading for pop stardom. Craving the spotlight Spencer goes on his own quest for musical fame which leads all the way to the Royal Albert Hall, inspired by his granddad the legendary Gerry Parkin, session singer extraordinaire.

Surprising, warm, laugh out loud funny and packed full of wonderful live and recorded performances of everyone’s favourite songs like that’s amore!, the party’s over, I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts and spread a little happiness this wonderful comedy is a bright and fizzy antidote to the winter blues.

A full length play written by well known playwright Vanessa Brooks, with set and costume by Pip Leckenby who has designed on Broadway and stunning digital projection by Tony award winner Mic Pool this is a world premiere not to be missed.

Subsequent to the show opening for the very first time at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield the production goes on the road to selected venues nationally for it’s UK world premiere tour.

Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

Date Wednesday 6th March at 7.30pm–Thursday 7th March at 1.30pm and 7.30pm

Box Office: 01484 430528

Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

Date Friday 15th March at 8.00pm–

Box Office: 01892 678678

The Cockpit, London

Date Wednesday 27th March at 7.30pm–Thursday 28th March at 7.30pm

Box Office: 020 7258 2925 (From noon, Monday to Saturday)

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

Date Wednesday 3rd April at 7.30pm–Thursday 4th April at 1.30pm and 7.30pm

Box Office: 01723 370541

For further information, photographs and interviews with Writer, Director, actors and production team call: 01484 484441.



Fishcake Publications ~ the story

Fishcakes Logo copyI’ll let my guest, Martin Rothery, tell us his story.

The Birth of Fishcake Publications.

It all started when I was made redundant in December 2011 and I thought ‘Oh no, what am I going to do now?’

Firstly, I didn’t panic.

Secondly, I was relieved, as I’d been miserable in that job anyway.

Thirdly, I took stock of my life, looked at my skills and ambitions and made the big decision – I was going to work for myself. But doing what?


A big leap, I know. So how did I come up with this fantastic plan?

Well, I’d been laying the foundations for a few years. I’d started writing in 2008, attending creative writing classes through adult education. I’d attended various workshops over the years to get a feel for all types of writing. I’d joined the Holmfirth Writers’ Group which provided a great support network, and where I was lucky enough to spend some time as treasurer. As a group, we’d also launched two anthologies. This provided some great experience.

But most importantly, I’d written a book that was ready for publishing and so I had something to act as the launch vehicle for my business. However, I found writing was the easy part. Starting a business is scary when you’re unsure what you’re doing. Luckily, I found plenty of free business courses and the most useful ones were run by Her Majesties Revenue & Customs, which was quite handy since these were the people I feared the most.

Cows! Front Cover

So, in February 2012, Fishcake Publications was launched with my first book, COWS!. Initially launched as an eBook, a printed copy soon followed. This has now sold over 110 copies in the UK and the USA, which I’m quite pleased with (although I’m striving to sell more!)

I have also released a book called Nonagenarians in memory of my grandparents and containing poetry written by them. This is currently free on Smashwords, as I wanted to share this with as many people as possible. It was also produced in a small booklet which raised over £140 for the Parkwood Methodist Old Folks Luncheon Club, a cause close to their hearts.

Souls_Of_Darkness_1400 (Cover_b)Fishcake’s latest release was a book called Souls of Darkness and was a collaboration between three authors (me being one of them).  I am currently marketing and promoting this and, hopefully, there will be a printed copy available soon.

At the end of last year, I was also very pleased to launch my own website www.fishcakepublications.com (of which, I am proud to say, I did all the work myself). I now offer my services to the public in general. I am especially keen to help new unpublished writers, as I believe every new writer needs a step up the ladder and if someone’s taken the time to write something, it deserves to be read. I have received a few submissions over the last few months that I’m very excited about, and I hope I will be able to bring to the world in the near future.

After doing all this, my advice to anyone nowadays is, if you believe in your ideas, don’t be afraid to give them a go.

Amazon Kindle links:

Cows! http://www.amazon.co.uk/COWS-ebook/dp/B0075L8DM4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359042480&sr=8-1

Souls of Darkness  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Souls-of-Darkness-ebook/dp/B0088DCG4Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1359042495&sr=1-1

Nonagenarians http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nonagenarians-ebook/dp/B0078MXHQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359043823&sr=8-1

Smashwords links:

Cows! http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/129478

Souls of Darkness http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/168150

Nonagenarians http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/237120

Smashwords ~ Friend to Readers and Writers

Publishing is a very competitive business.


Businesses have to make money in order to pay their staff, rent and other bills. You only have to watch the news to see how many big established businesses, like HMV & Jessops, are failing in these difficult financial times, to realise that the pressure to  make money never lets up.

Busy readers tend to buy authors they know or a quick bargain from the supermarket or a well-publicised ebook from Amazon. Fierce competition to sell books to these readers drives publishing houses to “play safe”. Playing safe makes it extremely difficult for unknown authors or unusual stories to find a place with these companies.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Enter Smashwords. Owner and visionary, Mark Coker has provided free tools and an easy to access platform for self-publishers and independent publishers to get these new writers and fresh stories out into the market.

For readers this is an opportunity to access exciting new books and, because they are inexpensive to produce, at very low prices. Sometimes they’re even free.

Writers are able to generate coupons on their books to provide incentives to readers, free copies for review and other promotional purposes.

And this competition encourages the big houses to keep their prices reasonable. So three cheers for Smashwords!

cover LLLToday I was generating a coupon for my memoir, A Life Less Lost, and thought I’d share it with you all. It’s had great reviews but my favourite bit of feedback came from a friend of my son. She told me, “I couldn’t put it down and was up until 3am reading. At one point I was gripping the book so tightly my knuckles were white. I was thinking please be alright, please be alright, until I stopped and remembered that I knew what was going to happen.”

As a New Year’s treat, I’m offering the coupon to anyone who’d like to download a free copy before the 16th February. If you’d like to know more about the book, please point your cursor over My Books (above) and click on the A Life Less Lost page from the drop down menu.

Promotional price: $0.00  Coupon Code: XY74F   Expires: February 16, 2013

Bullying ~ what’s the solution?

Jeff Gardiner, fellow Crooked Cat author, discusses bullying in this post, a subject that affects people all around the world and across the age groups. Amongst adults it often takes passive aggressive forms but is still destructive and difficult to cope with.

myopiaMy contemporary novel MYOPIA explores the important topic of bullying, suggesting a number of non-violent responses. Jerry is bullied for wearing glasses and through his own belief that being shortsighted is not a disability but a new way of looking at things, he begins to find himself drawn into the dark world of prejudice and ignorance. People can be loving and compassionate; but we also have the potential to be cruel and brutish. We all need to work together to stamp out this malicious and thoughtless behaviour from all areas of our lives.

Whether it’s physical, verbal or emotional abuse, all bullying is an insidious practice, which we should take seriously. Victims can feel that they are somehow to blame and it certainly affects self-esteem and crushes feelings of self-worth. Bullying can change an individual’s behaviour and view of life. Being psychologically broken is devastating, embarrassing and potentially life threatening; as shown powerfully in K.B. Walker’s poignant novel ‘Once Removed’. If you find yourself being bullied then there are two things to consider: firstly, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT; secondly, you need to act quickly to stop it escalating or happening to others.

Sometimes victims are scared to act, fearing that telling someone else will lead to even worse punishment. This might be true in the short-term, but attempt to think long-term. It’s happening anyway, so why not deal with it? The other thing to consider here is that if you manage to stop the bully then you are also saving others from being affected in the same way you were. By stopping the vicious cycle, you have bravely helped others from being bullied. Therefore doing all you can to stop bullying will improve things for you in the long-term and stop others suffering too.

I believe all responses to bullying should be non-violent – although I do think you should physically defend yourself and protect others from being hurt. Here is something you could try: stand up and stand tall the next time someone tries to bully you. Don’t be aggressive and perhaps stay quiet, but most bullies are cowards and don’t want victims who are confident or who stand their ground. If you can, attempt to remain unaffected; after all, what the bully most wants is a reaction from you. If you give none they may well get bored and leave you alone. In MYOPIA, Jerry invites the bully round his house for a cup of tea. This is certainly unexpected (and potentially stupid) but Jerry has carefully planned something, which will teach him a lesson without hurting him.

Bullies are cowards; picking on what they hope is easy prey. Sometimes bullies are being bullied themselves or are responding to something painful in their own lives. This never justifies bullying which is heinous and needs to be stopped, but bullies are possibly crying out for attention. For some people even negative attention is better than none at all. Jerry learns a great deal, not only about himself, but also about the boy who is making his life such a misery.

If you are a witness to bullying, or you know someone who is a bully, then what are you going to do about it? Doing nothing makes you part of the problem.

Jeff Gardiner’s MYOPIA is an ideal book for teenagers, teachers, youth workers and parents -available from www.amazon.co.uk or www.crookedcatbooks.com. For more information see Jeff’s website at www.jeffgardiner.com and blog http://jeffgardiner.wordpress.com/

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