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COMING SOON – CRACH FFINNANT – VOLUME III – RAVENS AND DRAGONS – A SNIPPET

“We have seen their campfires, my Lord, they have heavy horse and armour and hundreds of foot soldiers with pike and long bow.  I counted an army of fifteen hundred strong.”  Said Gogh.

“Fifteen hundred?”  Tudur needed clarification.

“Yes, my Lord, fifteen hundred.”  Gogh confirmed his count.  “There are Flemish among them and word says they have travelled from Pembroke in the south.”

“That is one hell of a march, Brother!”  Tudur remarked to Owain.  “This is a formidable force.  They will attempt to cut off any means of escape if we are attacked by Hotspur from the north.” 

“How many men do we have at arms now, Tudur?” Owain inquired.

“There are one hundred and fifty here in the compound and another three hundred more in the forest.”  He paused for a moment and then added.  “We do have a lot of long bows and, of course, sure-footed mountain ponies, on our side.”

“Good, as although we are outnumbered by more than three to one, their horses and army are heavy with armour.  If we were on a battlefield of pasture, we would be slaughtered but we are in mountainous terrain.  So, I suggest we withdraw even farther away and wait for them.  The mud, swamps and rock will slow them considerably.  If we make them chase us, I believe they will tire and when the rough ground holds them up, we will make our attack.”  Owain looked at Tudur and smiled.  “We will win.  Worry not.”

The runes I cast earlier in the day suggested a great confrontation and that guile and intellect would overcome the day and a great victory is predicted over adversity.  It seemed to me as if the reading was referring to this imminent battle with the English.  To have been able to create such a large force, Henry must have sailed his army around the coast and then marched them north, or, perhaps, he had gathered them from his garrisons in the south.  It is possible that the Flemish mercenaries met them at Pembroke.  The fact is, we could never know how, but all that really mattered was Henry’s army was less than four days away so we had to move quickly.

Owain gave orders for the men to prepare to ride out at dark and meet up with our major force in the forest so that by the time the English appeared, we would be organised and in wait.  After the evening meal, Tudur and a group of twenty-five rode out into the night.  They were to mislead the English, taking them into our waiting trap.  It was a good plan but only time would tell if it would work or not.

As the cock crowed, Owain and his men mounted their horses and set off at a gallop to meet with the remainder of our force in the forest on the western slopes of Pumlumon, about twenty leagues from Aberystwyth.  Tudur had orders to harass the English and lead them towards Owain’s troop.  This was a good place for a battle, their heavy horses and armour would quickly get bogged down and they would be unable to organize themselves.  Our bowmen would take care of the rest and as Rhodri was in charge, hopefully we would see a repeat of his last ambush where they had wiped out a force of English when they had also been outnumbered at three to one.

Tudur and Will looked over the rock and down into the valley.  The sun glinted and reflected from the English armour and spear points as they marched along.

“They do not seem much organised.”  Will whispered to Tudur.

“Aye, they certainly seem to be lacking basic military skills, even their formation is ought but a disorganized rabble.”  Tudur scratched his chin.  “Look at that!”  He pointed at a small group of soldiers who had simply left the main contingent, and had squatted to the ground to start a fire to camp. 

A knight on an enormous white charger galloped towards them and seemed to be shouting at them but they turned their backs on his protestations, carrying on with whatever they wanted to do.  Fighting certainly seemed to be the furthest thing from their minds.  The knight reined in his charger and galloped away in frustration, leaving a cloud of dust and mud behind him.

“No discipline there, my Lord.”  Observed Will.

“None, indeed, Will, which is bound to be in our favour.”  Tudur moved back from their vantage point into the scrub.  He stood up and said.  “Right, gentlemen!  Let’s have some fun!”

Tudur directed his small band of men efficiently.  Dispatching a few to take cover further up the pass, with their longbows at the ready.  He sent two riders on fast horses to make themselves known to the front riders of the English army and told them to frustrate their path by leading them into a chase.  The two set off at a gallop and on finding their vantage point, waited for the enemy to arrive.

The riders at point of the English force, rode into the clearing, ignorant of what lay ahead of them.  One whistled while daydreaming, whilst the other simply glanced here and there with no real interest in much, almost nodding off in the saddle. 

As Tudor’s men watched from the trees, they signalled to each other, dug spurs into their mounts and trotted into the clearing, just three hundred paces in front of the English riders.  They both stood their mounts in a prominent place, where they would clearly be seen. 

Suddenly, one of the English caught sight of the Welshmen, quickly taking him from his daydream, he shouted at the top of his voice.  “Rebels!  ….. Welsh scum!”

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CRACH FFINNANT SERIES – UP A NOTCH!

It is now eighteen months since winning the Words Matter Publishing Holiday Book Competition, with Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy.

The second volume in the series, Crach Ffinnant – Rise of the Dragon was published four months ago and Volume Three, Crach Ffinnant – Ravens and Dragons is well underway towards publication. I must admit, social media whilst fascinating in so many ways, especially, personal publicity, is time consuming and does take me away from writing and narrating much more. But we cannot have one without the other, as in this day and age we have to promote ourselves and social media is the engine for that journey. Striking the right balance twixt, writing and social media time is the answer, however, easier said, than done.

Narrating Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy myself, has been and is most stimulating as I can really bring my story and characters to life, with my own voice as well as words. The first audio book is almost complete and samples I have posted across social media have been well received. This in turn gives me the confidence to push on with other work and I have made audio books of my children’s stories for my SoundCloud site, and folk can download free. I am beginning to film and record storytelling as well as writing, an exciting adventure.

Debbie Eve, Crach Ffinnant series illustrator in addition to working on my books has created gift cards, colouring cards and posters now available on her web site.

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The task is never-ending as I keep creating as so does her pencil and brush. Ah well! Time to scribble some more!

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LAZZMATAZZ 2019 LITERATURE FEST and BOOK FAIR

Sunday 2 June welcomed our major fringe event for the weekend, Literature Fest and Book Fair. I was so privileged to welcome so may authors of sound literary standing from Wales and beyond. Sadly we had a tremendously wet day, with showers throughout however, it did not spoil the fun and creativeness unfurling. Some authors gave readings, delighting others with excerpts from their tales, whilst others chatted to festival goers, signing books and other ‘author y’ behaviour. Such a lovely crowd of talented folk. Will we do it next year? Yes I think we will. Grateful thanks to the Mayor of Llandovery, Louise Wride for opening the Literature Fest and Book Fayre and the Castle Hotel for hospitality. More importantly, thank you to our authors!

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See you next year…………………………………..

SUMMER IS HERE – FESTIVAL TIME – PART 3

Saturday brought warm weather and sunshine for most of the day, which kicked off at 1130 am with an open mic session for festival goers wishing to entertain. We were privileged, Her Worship the Mayor of Llandovery, Louise Wride opened the day, welcoming folk to this historic town.

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Fil Zeibicki, our winner from 2018 was the first of our acts to step on the stage. Fil has had a busy year since winning the competition and in good Lazzmatazz tradition, the previous winner of the Welsh Connections / Lazzmatazz Songwriting Competition, always opens the festival program on the Saturday. Fil did not disappoint, playing a lively set with strong vocals we are now so familiar with.

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Marc Gordon, a good friend and sponsor of the ‘Runner Up Prize’ for our competition came next. Playing his own compositions with a fusion of blues and classical arrangements, Marc mellowed our audience in the sunshine.

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We were about to be in for a shock, but nobody knew, especially me. Until that is, Christian Arron Perry and Mia took to the stage. Arron played a few tunes solo and then, was joined by Mia. She is the youngest artist ever to perform at Lazzmatazz, being a tender age of twelve years. As I listened, my heart and soul were moved by this voice, echoing around the festival. As I looked around at the audience, everybody and I mean everybody was silent, transfixed by Mia’s performance. I think this young lady will go far, as the audience clearly agreed, by sharing a rapturous applause. And readers it was well deserved.

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Ronnie Three Chords, a blues guitarist in the style of Joplin was next. Ronnie played with his heart and soul and an appreciative audience shared their love.

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I thought the next act was a Canadian lumberjack, he looked like one and Candy Mountain, played with the strength and fortitude you might expect from a woodsman. Powerful earthy vocals with driving guitar and original compositions. A very strong performance.

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Following the Welsh Connections / Lazzmatazz Songwriting competition, it was to time for the chairman of our judges panel, Paul Nicholas to step up to the microphone. Paul is a seasoned performer, having played extensively in Europe and the UK. His passionate self penned compositions have received radio play globally. Fresh from the Tredegar Folk Festival. Paul did not disappoint, the audience transfixed by haunting vocals, moving lyrics and beautiful guitar playing.

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Our second local Llandovery act of the day, Will Jones stepped on the the Lazzmatazz stage with great confidence, one man and his strat! Playing a few covers and his own material, young Will is a promising young performer, giving one hundred per cent of himself. https://www.facebook.com/gail.adams.568/videos/10218541369264520/ Fresh from a working holiday in Borneo, Frost and Rose approached the microphone. Harry Frost is a talented guitarist providing accompaniment for stunning vocals from Rose. Shades of Amy Winehouse, rattled in my head, and like Amy, Rose has an extensive vocal range, an incredibly hypnotizing set, not to be forgotten. https://www.facebook.com/frostandrose/videos/916593832018135/

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Next up, the Glass Dolls, hailing from Swansea. This five piece band consists of Kelly Bolch on lead vocals with harmonies by Rhiannon Lewis, percussion from Andrew Griffiths, bass with Marvin Medwell, and lead guitar, Andrew Vorn. An incredible set that began on the main stage, but half way through, the heavens opened and ‘rain stopped play’. Within 15 minutes they were up and playing again on the main stage in the ballroom, all dry and snug, thanks to the speed and professionalism of Cariad, our stage management team. A spellbinding set and very well received by the audience. Another Swansea musician followed the Dolls. Christian Sayers, now playing solo after leaving Portraits some months ago. He is a sound performer with an excellent voice, accompanying himself on guitar. His set of self penned songs was powerful in every respect and one can see why he has been selected for the Voice!

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Finally, on Saturday night, our headliners The Fireside Family, with their theatrical show of self penned songs took to the stage. Harmonies, percussion and guitars blended hypnotically and the audience were mesmerized as was I.

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What a day of great fun, music and entertainment and what better way to end, than with a festival jam, that ended around 230 am. I have to be up at 730 to set up the Literary festival for tomorrow, Sunday…… hardly worth going to bed, but worth every minute.

SUMMER IS HERE – FESTIVAL TIME! PART TWO

LAZZMATAZZ 2019 – MUSIC, MERRIMENT & MAYHEM

FRIDAY

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Three days of music kicked off on the Friday evening, after the Mayor of Llandovery opened the Festival. The Unknown were first to play and what an extremely promising young band they are, shades of the Manic Street Preachers and their own brand of tunes to tap yer feet too, lyrics to sing along with, and a great set to start the evening with.

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The Unknown

Next up, the haunting tones and melodic guitar of Stephen P Greenhalgh from Cardigan.

 

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Stephen P Greenhalgh

Festival goers were in for a real treat with our next performer, Bob Woods. A very funny man, who brought back to our memories the wonderful satire of Tom Lehrer. 

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Bob Woods

Nathan Laurence stepped up on stage next. A grand folk singer and multi instrumentalist, entertaining the audience with guitar, flute and other instruments and of course, his unique voice! 

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Nathan Laurence

Followed by Jam Jar Blues, a duo from West Wales playing the history of the blues!

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Jam Jar Blues

Then it was time for our first headliner of the festival, Harvest. Harvest are a duo from West Wales, Tim Greenwood and Peter Williams. An entertaining and memorable performance with loads of Simon & Garfunkel tunes. Excellent picking and close harmonies, a grand act!

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Harvest

 

SUMMER IS HERE – FESTIVAL TIME!

PART ONE

I just love the summer, don’t you? It started with a big bang for me last weekend as LAZZMATAZZ 2019 hit the historic town of Llandovery, for three days of music, performance poetry, storytelling and literature. The festival was opened by the Mayor of Llandovery, Louise Wride.

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Little old me, introducing the Mayor Opening Lazzmatazz

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Mayor of Llandovery – Louise Wride

Now in its fifth year, the festival which is a platform for new talent was busier than ever with over 25 acts on the main stage, Fringe Events, Literature Festival and Book Fayre, and Craft Market.

There really was something for everybody and I am really proud of our small team that made it all happen. The venue for the festival is the Castle Hotel in Llandovery, and the hospitality for festival goers was incredible.

 

We were lucky for a little while on Friday as the weather held and all was outside on our main stage. Saturday a day of sun and everything was grand until about eight in the evening when the heavens opened.

Cariad our, stage management team are based in Wales, they know rain! Within fifteen minutes they had moved the desk, lights and pa and the Glass Dolls continued their set on our Ballroom Stage.

 

Excellent work guys. The sad thing is, Cariad moved from inside to out and back, four times over the weekend. But this is Wales and Cariad are an excellent stage crew. ‘Impressive’ I hear you say, it was! The Welsh Connections Lazzmatazz Songwriting Competition 2019 had seven finalists this year and was won by Erin Lancaster.

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ERIN LANCASTER  Winner of Welsh Connections / Lazzmatazz Songwriting Competition 2019

The judges had a dreadful time trying to decide on ‘runner up’ and in the end, announced ‘joint runners up’.

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Judges (L-R) Fil Ziebicki, Sue Oates, Paul Nicholas, Anna-Marie Elizabeth Reed.

They are Christian Aaron Perry and Tim Greenwood, both of whom passionately performed, stunning our judges.

 

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Christian Aaron Perry (Joint Runner Up)

 

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Tim Greenwood (Joint Runner Up)

We held the Tim Williams Award for Performance Poetry on the Sunday with five finalists.

 

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Trudi Petersen – Winner of Tim Williams Award 2019

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David Thorpe ‘Tim Williams Award’ 2019 ‘Highly Commended’

In this competition historically, we have only awarded a first prize. This year there was a clear winner and Trudi Petersen took the award home. But for the first time this year, the judges awarded ‘highly commended’ to David Thorpe a local poet from Llandovery.

 

Posts to come:

Part Two – Music Mayhem & Merriment

Part Three – Lazzmatazz Literature Festival & Book Fayre

Part Four – Lazzmatazz ALL WINNERS & RUNNER UP SHOW 2019

Part Five – Lazzmatazz 2020