Ceri Shaw



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Category: Books

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Shwmae and Croeso!

Croeso and welcome to an autumnal edition of the  Honno  newsletter! This month, we've got a special issue with in invitation to a book launch, a call for submissions for our latest anthology, writing opportunities, and more.

Book Launch: Painting the Beauty Queens Orange

Painting the Beauty Queens Orange is the latest release at  Honno . The ‘70s wasn’t all glam rock and flares, punk and pogo-ing… In  Painting the Beauty Queens Orange , the women who lived the decade reveal what it meant to push boundaries, claim your identity, and carve out your place amidst the winter of discontent, the scorching summer of ‘76 and the rise of Thatcherism. We're pleased to say that the book has been chosen as the  Waterstones Wales Book of the Month for November 2021 .

We're delighted to invite you to the book launch of  Painting the Beauty Queens Orange  on Saturday 13th November 2021 at Insole Court, Fairwater Road, Cardiff CF5 2LN from 2.30pm onwards. For more details, or to RSVP, please email  post@ honno .co.uk .

Ecology and the Environment: Writing from Women in Wales

It's the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow, also known as COP26. Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time,  especially given the vulnerability of Wales to climate change and rising sea levels .

Here are some books published by  Honno  that explore and highlight our environment, and the world around us.

Walking to Greenham

Walking to Greenham: How the Peace Campaign began and the Cold War ended  is a fascinating memoir written by peace activist Ann Pettitt. She began a movement that changed the face of modern history when she walked from Wales to RAF Greenham Airbase to stop nuclear warheads being launched from British soil. This is her story. A powerful and enlightening piece, its message is just as timely in contemporary discussions on environmentalism as when the campaign was initially launched.

Purchase a copy here from  Honno 's website


A mystery crime thriller,  Riverflow  by Alison Layland is about a series of mysterious events that emerge when a beloved family member is drowned in a devastating flood. Bede and Elin want to be left alone, but can they escape what has happened? Riverflow was the Waterstones Wales Book of the Month in 2019, and has been described by Emma Curtis as "Heart-stopping at moments. A terrific read".

Click here to see Riverflow in  Honno 's online shop, featuring a reader's guide that explains and explores the themes of flooding in the book.

Call for Submissions- Essays on Africa and Asia in Wales 

 will be publishing a volume of work from women of the African and Asian diaspora in Wales. We want to hear from women with different experiences, whether that's the experience of being a first generation migrant to Wales, or part of a long-standing diaspora community in Wales. We're looking for memoirs, polemic writing, and more.

If you have a story to tell, we'd love to read it. We're accepting pieces from 1000-5000 words in total. Additionally, we'd relish the opportunity to consider some photo essays as part of this work. We believe that all women have stories to tell. It is so vitally important to include all voices, but in particular the voices of women, which through the centuries have always been some of those most marginalised.

The  Honno  Voices  imprint gives voice to Welsh women from all walks of life and who speak both or either language(s) – though the titles are published in English. It has published experiences of women from the 1900s to the present day, of women born and bred in Wales to those who have moved here and changed their lives. This book will be edited by Dr Faaeza Jasdanwalla, and it will be published by Gwasg  Honno  Press in 2023.

Please send your piece as an attachment, typed double spaced on one side of A4. Do make sure the title of your piece is included on the manuscript but leave off your name. Please include in your email any relevant supporting information.  For more information, click on this link.

Closing date: 31 March 2022

Submit to:  post@ honno .co.uk

Opportunities for Readers and Writers

Submissions at  Honno Press

Submissions are still open at  Honno , and  f ull information of the criteria and how to submit can be found here on our website . We only accept submissions by email to  post@ honno .co.uk . We look forward to hearing from you!

Voluntary opportunity: Book Council of Wales

Books Council Wales are looking for new volunteers to join their independent Publishing Development Subcommittees in both English and in Welsh. They're looking for people with experience and skills across the industry- from publishing books or magazines to reading, writing, editing, commissioning and marketing. Email castellbrychan@books.wales to apply.  There's more information available here on Twitter  and you can learn more by emailing the Chief Executive on castellbrychan@books.wales.

Representing Wales: Developing Writers from a Low-Income Background

Literature Wales has announced a second round of professional development aimed at developing writers in Wales . Representing Wales is open for applications, and it supports writers from low-income backgrounds in Wales. This support is multifacted, offering workshops, £3500 to assist writers in their craft, along with talks, mentoring, workshops and more. For more information, please email  post@literaturewales.org , and the deadline for applications is the 14th December 2021.

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Simon Howells reads 'Dreamcoat', a short story by Matthew G. Rees, author of 'Keyhole', 'The Word' and 'The Tip'. Matthew G.Rees is a critically acclaimed Welsh fiction writer and playwright in the fields of folk horror and fantasy.

AmeriCymru interviewed Matthew G. Rees about his recent short story collection 'Keyhole'. The interview can be seen here:- Keyhole - An Interview With Welsh Author Matthew G. Rees

You can buy 'Keyhole' here: Keyhole

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Wales and World War One by Robin Barlow is the first English language, single volume, full treatment of Wales and the First World War.

Thousands of books have been published on the First World War with ‘Britain’ in the title, yet one will search in vain through the index of nearly all of them for references to ‘ Wales ’, or indeed ‘Scotland’ and ‘Ireland’. The old cliché still applies: ‘For Wales , see England’.

Wales paid a heavy price for a place on the international stage between August 1914 and November 1918.

Over 30,000 Welshmen sacrificed their lives on the battlefields of the First World War , a war which continues to create, even as it is commemorated, great controversy. For some it was a futile and wasteful war ; for others it was an unavoidable necessity.

Inspired by the fact that the distinctive contribution that Wales made during the First World War has never been fully documented in a single volume, Robin Barlow aims to describe and explain what happened on the home front in Wales during the war and what happened to Welsh men and women abroad. With more than 80 photographs, Wales and World War One also includes extracts from diaries and letters not previously published.

Dr Robin Barlow lives in Myddfai and was, until his retirement, Higher Education Advisor at Aberystwyth University. Prior to that he was a teacher, headmaster and schools’ inspector. He has written extensively on Welsh involvement in the First World War , notably in the A New History of Wales series (Gomer) and The Great War , Localities and Regional Identities (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

Wales and World War One is available from

all good bookshops and online retailers.

For more information, please visit www.gomer.co.uk

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Middle-Earth in Magic Mirror Maps... of the Wilderland in Wales... of the Shire in England

Sheer coincidence in life brought me to the Shire, where I cracked the code of the first Map in the Lord of the Rings: and moved onwards into Wales and the Map of the Wilderland. Both are drawn back to front , in reverse, or in mirror image: all I have to do is show how!!! - Stephen Ponty

AmeriCymru speaks to Stephen Ponty about his new book:- Middle-Earth in Magic Mirror Maps... of the Wilderland in Wales... of the Shire in England



AmeriCymru: Hi Steve and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. When did you first become interested in Tolkien and writing about him?

Steve: I read Tolkien''s works in Grammar (High ) School and remember even now puzzling , all of 40 years ago , over how the Maps might have been devised. Sheer coincidence in life brought me to the Shire, where I cracked the code of the first Map in the Lord of the Rings: and moved onwards into Wales and the Map of the Wilderland. Both are drawn back to front , in reverse, or in mirror image: all I have to do is show how!!!

AmeriCymru: Your new book is a fresh look at the Maps of the Wilderland in The Hobbit. Can you explain the Welsh connection?

Steve: I believe I can show how the map of the Wilderland is modelled on the map of Wales, but in mirror image; but also how many place-names are derived of Welsh: the names in Wales ( Dol Guldur/Esgaroth/Gundabad)  need much research , but Welsh speakers might like to get their tongue around  RHUDAUR, CARDOLAN  and ERIADOR of The Shire; yet each of which requires some knowledge of how the Welsh language works, including its mutations/ lenitations.

The irony is that Professor J.R.R .Tolkien has said so,  time  and time again,  in The Letters of J.R.R.Tolkien by Humphrey Carpenter, which I have studied closely.

AmeriCymru: In your book the focal point of The Hobbit, The Lonely Mountain, is identified as Cadair Idris. How did you come to this conclusion?

Steve: Because of its position in relation to other places, such as Esgaroth ( Tregaron); because of its six-spur shape ( and we identify each of the six spurs of the Cadair Idris range) and because , eventually, we find Smaug''s lair by easy reference to  a cave once the crib of Welsh folklore hero, Owain Glyndwr.

We can detect where Ravenhill is supposed to be.

My comment reflects the six-spur shape of The Lonely Mountain on Thror''s Map.

AmeriCymru: Are there any other locations in The Hobbit or other of works by Tolkien that can be pinpointed in Wales?

Steve: They are beyond count in The Hobbit, such as the Old Ford, the Carrock,  the Long Lake of Esgaroth,  Mount Gundabad onwards to The Withered Heath.

The Shire  discloses innumerable locations in England ( in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire  and Warwickshire) : I believe I have found The Shire on Mother-earth!

AmeriCymru: We learn from the product description that:-  "The work is divided into nine parts, with three site groupings". Care to tell us a little more about the structure of the book?

Steve: The number Nine (and Three) has much significance in Celtic folklore: the pattern of triplicity fits nicely the three areas of Wales  we look  at: East of the Misty Mountains and East and  North of the Mirkwood,  by which  Professor Tolkien  associates the vast forests which spread across central Wales following the last Ice-Age.  Given a generality, we understand  the Professor''s rationale for  Flies and Spiders, Barrels Out of Bond and where the Elvenking Halls might be . . .

You will hear what the black Butterflies  in the Mirkwood  are made of, and also  hear from the Song Thrush so central to The Hobbit story . . . but I‘ m not giving it all away at this early stage as you will hopefully understand .

AmeriCymru: In general terms, how much did his knowledge of Wales influence Tolkiens'' writing?

Steve: Principally, wholly and fundamentally in terms of detail: in The Hobbit  for which Professor Tolkien is on record, as in The Letters .

Marginally less so in The Lord of the Rings, but we see linguistic patterns transcend Welsh into places in England: such as  Frogmorton, Whitfurrows,  and Brockenborings .

Tolkien followers in the USA might like to think about  ''Yale '' on the Shire Map?

Also think about the village shown on the map of  Mother-earth named Churchill?

AmeriCymru:  When will the book be available and where can readers go to purchase it online?

Steve: Available now via Amazon, but I am printing 5000 hardback as soon as possible, target end April 2014.

I prefer to stay in solid book form for the moment:.

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?

Steve: Calon Lan I Chi Gyd.

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rugby zombies last international As Halloween approaches, the Rugby Zombies are making a comeback in the most frightening village in Wales Aberscary.

The third book in the popular Rugby Zombies trilogy by Dan Anthony, The Last International , is published by Pont Books and with the rugby autumn internationals fast approaching, fans of the Welsh Rugby Zombies will be glad to hear that they are on fire to play

Since his recent glory against Aberscary and a hand-picked Invitation XV, Arwel is having problems with his self-image. His head is turned by sixth-former, Trish, who is eager to make a name for herself in the world of journalism.

Meanwhile, the Rugby Zombies still need to play a full international match to lift the ancient curse but Arwels makeover changes more than just his hairstyle. Can Martin, Glen and Beth make him see the error of his ways and help him lead the Welsh Rugby Zombies to victory one last time?

Dan Anthony, will be taking part in the first Penarth Book Festival on Tuesday, 30 October . The event will be held at the Lower Penarth Community Centre at 11am and the cost of entry is 3.

The author, Dan Anthony from Penarth, Cardiff, has written widely for children, working as a scriptwriter on CBBCs Story of Tracy Beaker and S4Cs The Baaas . A very talented and energetic young author, Dan also holds creative writing workshops for children in schools.For more information, visit his website:-




The Last International is available from all good bookshops and online retailers


For more information on the Penarth Book Festival, please visit www.penarthbookfestival.org.uk or call 07787848337 for booking information


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Looking for a selection of St David's Day cards? Look no further.

The AmeriCymru Directory will be displaying a selection of e-cards from today. Just a few to begin with but we will be adding more over the course of the next few weeks. Check back to see the latest designs. Cards are free to send so...Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus/Happy St David's Day

AmeriCymru Welsh ECards

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Full Moon by Jenny Sullivan

By Ceri Shaw, 2011-10-18

Hang about. It isnt a full moon now. Its broad daylight!

You might think she's an ordinary girl leading an uneventful life but when her wacky Aunty Gwen is mugged and taken to hospital, Nia uncovers a startling secret in her aunts cellar

Jenny Sullivans latest novel, Full Moon , published by Pont Books , combines the life of the average teenager with a good dose of the supernatural. Nia loves her family but wishes that they could be a bit more normal. Theres Mam whos desperate to be a TV star but cant act for toffee while big sister, Ceri, is offered a part in a new TV series but is worried about her mothers jealous reaction. Last but by no means least, is little brother, Steffan, who thinks hes a superhero!

One moonlit night, Nias life is changed forever following an encounter with a pair of muggers. Unable to confide in anyone, the girls got a lot on her plate - finding the attackers, keeping up with her schoolwork and dodging the Kid Cops, solving Ceris dilemma, looking after Steffan and, of course, getting ready for her first date with Ryan OBrien! Will she manage to juggle everything and unravel the mystery of the fierce creature at Aunty Gwens which only makes an appearance when the moon is full . . . ?

Jenny Sullivans fast-paced, witty style of writing is sure to captivate the reader and ignite the imagination of anyone over ten with a taste for the supernatural.

Award-winning author Jenny Sullivan is both popular and prolific. She now lives in Brittany, but returns often to Wales, visiting schools and libraries across the country to conduct writing workshops. In 2006, she won the Welsh Books Councils highest accolade for childrens literature; the Tir Na n-Og Award with her historical novel Tirion's Secret Journal .

Full Moon is available to buy from all good bookshops and online retailers.

For more information please visit www.pontbooks.co.uk


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An extract from the book 'Operation Julie'

"Llanddewi Brefi is renowned for the miracles of St David and has been portrayed infamously on the Little Britain television series. But it also has another claim to fame. Rather surprisingly, this small village in west Wales was the centre of the world LSD drug trade in the 1970s. In a new book by Lyn Ebenezer, he discloses who was making and taking the drug in the area and how the polices so-called Operation Julie managed to bust the largest drug ring in the world in 1977.

The author, who was a journalist on the Welsh newspaper Y Cymro at the time, tells how Llanddewi Brefi became a desired destination for pop-stars such as the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Theyd been invited to the village by local resident David Litvinoff in the 1960s. The author recalls, It is pretty certain that Bob Dylan stayed at Litvinoffs house for six weeks during the summer of 1969, just after hed been at the Isle of Wight pop festival. Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones admitted that hed been to Llanddewi Brefi too and that whilst staying there hed used every illegal drug in existence and some which werent in existence!

However, the Operation Julie book deals mainly with the famous police raid which brought to a juddering halt the enormous drug network, which had produced pure LSD worth millions of pounds in rural Wales. In March 1977, the police arrested dozens of people and found six million tabs of LSD the largest stash of illegal drugs ever found. More than 800 police officers took part in the operation and 120 people were arrested in total. LSD tabs with a street-value of 100 million were discovered. This was the largest police case of its kind and brought Llanddewi Brefi, Tregaron and Carno to world attention overnight.

Operation Julie includes a great deal of new information never published before and records recent interviews conducted with some of those who were involved. And as a local journalist in situ at the time, Lyn Ebenezer gives his own first-hand account and his insight into the affair. In his introduction to the book, he recollects:

Those arrested were said to have been responsible for 90 per cent of the LSD produced in Britain and 60 per cent worldwide. That is the official line. It will become evident, however, that truth and fiction are still inextricably mixed over 30 years later. But the facts, incredible as they are, seem to outweigh the fiction. Here I include both The story of Operation Julie is, if you believe the official spin, the story of an ideal that went wrong, greed and audacious enterprise on one side and of diligent, selfless and determined police work on the other. But it is also a story of political infighting and lasting bitterness. Stories abound of undiscovered stashes of LSD and hidden fortunes. There are tales of tip-offs by disgruntled police officers and even a royal connection

There remain many unanswered questions. There are, for instance, accusations that statistics were deliberately massaged in order to strengthen the case for a national drugs squad. And if chemist Richard Kemp had produced LSD worth 2.5 million during his seven years of production, as was alleged, why was it that only 11,000 of his money was ever discovered?

Were the dangers of LSD exaggerated? Much was made of Kemps ability to produce the purest LSD in history. Surely, if it was the purest, was it not also the safest? After all, the dangers of LSD lie in its impurities. In fact, despite lurid newspaper accounts of the dangers of acid, no evidence whatever was produced to prove that Kemps LSD caused any deaths.

There are accusations that some officers, the operations commander Dick Lee in particular, leaked doctored information to the press, especially to the red tops, as a means of strengthening the case for the formation of a national drugs squad. Papers like the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express in particular, following the sentencing, were laughably sensational. It is no coincidence that the only two books immediately published on Operation Julie appeared with the cooperation of those very newspapers. Dick Lees book Operation Julie (W H Allen, 1978) was co-written by Colin Pratt of the Express while Busted by Martyn Pritchard and Ed Laxton (1978), riddled with police and underworld parlance, was published by Mirror Books. Was it a coincidence that the journalist who first alerted me to the swoop was a Daily Express reporter?

I have included a chapter on a fascinating character who appeared in Llanddewi Brefi seemingly out of nowhere at the end of the sixties. David Litvinoff was not directly involved with the Julie story, but was very much a part of the drugs scene. He attracted many pop stars including the Stones, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and possibly Bob Dylan to his house. Albeit unaware of the fact, he was the harbinger of the influx of free spirits to the area

My motive in writing this book is not to be judgemental. Largely it is, rather, a story of how a quiet area of mid Wales was changed completely by incomers that embraced a different culture and way of life. Yet many of those involved in the LSD conspiracy were accepted by the local community. Had they not been embraced or at least tolerated their illegal venture would never have lasted so long. It is still difficult to find anyone in the Tregaron and Llanddewi Brefi area that will condemn them. In fact, they are regarded as likeable rouges, much like the areas own Robin Hood, the sixteenth-century robber and folk-hero Twm Shn Cati.

So, even though this book follows the main events of Operation Julie, it is a revised overview. It is also the story of rural communities that were changed completely, and remain completely changed. LSD may not have changed the world, as its proponents had hoped it would, but it did, albeit inadvertently, change forever a rural way of life.

The book is published by Y Lolfa on 26 August 2010 and is available on their website www.ylolfa.com at 9.95.

Operation Julie photos by Raymond Daniel attached here ( PDF )
Operation Julie - Adran Lluniau indd.pdf

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(This article originally appeared some time ago on the Americymru blog. It is reproduced here as a brief introduction to the many delights to be found in the new Americymru library which can be accessed from the left hand column on the main page. Despite the rather flippant tone of this piece there are a number of Welsh literary classics to be found in the library and we will be adding more from time to time. )

A Bad Day At 'Goodwill'

Once more it is time to sing the praises of the 'mighty' Google. What did we ever do without them? Google Book Search has been around for a while but the recent addition of the "My Library" feature adds a whole new dimension. Basically the new feature allows you to search the database and save items to your own personal library which can be accessed online and shared with friends, family, etc. You can also review and rate the books in your collection. A typical Google ' My Library ' page looks like this .

If you followed the link I should explain that Google offers you the choice to search for 'Limited Preview' or 'Full View' titles. If you opt for the former you can only view snippets of the text but 'full view' items can be read in their entirety. Here at americymru we are, of course, mainly concerned with books about, or relating, to Wales and we thought it might be interesting to build a library of older works that can be read online in full. What we have here is a collection of dusty old relics reminiscent of a bad day in the book aisle at 'Goodwill'. Most of these volumes are long-since forgotten and with good reason. Still others are fascinating or amusing depending on your literary perspective.

"Here Be Monsters!"

As you might expect there are some prime examples of condescending and flatulent Victorian prose to be found amongst the gems in our digital reliquary. Nineteenth century preacher and author, Thomas Rees, penned his imaginatively titled "Miscellaneous Papers on Subjects Relating to Wales" in 1867. It is a masterpiece of groveling servility. Here is a quote from his article, included in this volume, on the 'working classes' of Wales:-

"The labouring classes of Wales, wherever they are to be found without any admixture of foreign elements and habits, are characterised by several very commendable qualities. As a class of people they are remarkable for their loyalty and submission to their superiors. Ever since the incorporation of " Wales with England, the loyalty of the Welsh nation to their Saxon rulers has been perfectly unswerving, notwithstanding the occasional effusions of frenzied poets and hot-headed orators against the Saxon invaders."

For more in the same vein read the rest of this ghastly tract. Whilst intending no disrespect toward its author I feel bound to say that this is an apocalyptically awful book that is sure to make you chuckle. It is best read out loud in a highly pompous and affected 'public school'* accent.

A Classic of Yesteryear

Of course rummaging in the attic is bound to bring to light some long lost cherished possessions. Who over the age of 100 can fail to remember with fond affection the classic 1907 Great Western Railways vacation guide, 'South Wales: The Country of Castles' . This volume is a treasure trove of useful advice. Witness the following on page 50 :-

"......it is impossible to ignore the fact that the use of the motor adds most materially to the possibilities of Aberystwyth as a travel-centre. Too great caution cannot possibly be exercised in the choice both of a chauffeur and a machine. If the former is a novice at local topography, he can only be a source of vexation and perplexity."

Certainly one would not wish to engage a perplexing and vexatious chauffer, but the GWR does not content itself with travellers tips , there are also passages of purple prose. On page 160 we find the following description of Tenby at sundown quoted approvingly :-

"Towards sundown a miniature fleet of trawlers sweeps gracefully around the Castle Hill, looking for all the world like a flight of brilliant butterflies ; their russet sails glowing in the warm light of the sun's declining rays with every hue from gold to ruddy purple, recalling memories of gorgeous scenes on far-away Venetian lagoons."

I was never favored with such a vision on my visits to Tenby. It is at this point that we are perhaps reminded of the fact that laudanum was not made illegal in Britain until the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920.

Bananas & Tomatoes a Speciality

Reproduced below is a small selection of charming period advertisements. One is for a Fruiterer & Florist which specialized in bananas and tomatoes and the other is for the Aberystwyth "Waterloo Hydro Hotel" which, somewhat ironically, burned to the ground in 1920.

Google says that it plans eventually to put all books into digital form and the sooner the better. At least this way you dont have to dust them! A feast of fun awaits the determined 'rummager' in Google's digital attic and for our part we look forward to unearthing and reviewing more gems for your reading pleasure in the future. Our Library can be found here .

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