REVISION TIME

Below are the cover proofs of my second novel. It was first published a couple of years ago.

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I’ve taken the plunge and revised the book. It will be out very soon. I’m still learning my craft and it’s hard graft.

My time is limited now, since my partner became ill and I have become a carer. Writing has always been a way for me to withdraw from my surroundings, immerse myself in another world and meet new people – my characters. The beauty of this circle of friends is the way they stay silent and allow me to manipulate them, create lives and loves and stories in which they cavort about at my command. It’s bliss, it really is. They make me laugh, cry and all feel all emotions inbetween in the safety of my writing room, with no repercussions.

That’s the magic of creative writing. I started writing novels five years ago. My first book – Pretending – was a terrifying ride, rather like getting stuck on the top of the London Eye during a thunder storm.

I had no idea what I was doing, and those of you who have read the book, may feel that I am still scrabbling about, pretending to be an author. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained (so my old mum used to say) and once the last fullstop is in place, I move on.

That’s what all those life coaches tell you, don’t they? Don’t linger, don’t procrastinate on the past, move, move, move ON!

One thing that moves me along is my dog. He needs walking at least twice a day, so when the muse decides to open the nearest windoimg_4290.jpgw and flee, my lovely old spaniel is there to move me to the door and drag me, rain, sleet, snow or sun on a long walk. It works miracles. I nearly always return to my desk feeling better and full of new ideas. ( I said nearly always…) By the way, if you are wondering what that strange thing is, in the bottom right hand corner of the picture, it’s my foot. Charlie dog got very angry because I was stuck on a chapter and made him wait for his walk, so he chewed up my slippers.

If you want to follow the path of this meandering writer who keeps on trying, please read my books and tell me what you think. If I don’t like what you say, I can always walk the bloody dog! (Thanks).

Perhaps, you might like to read this one, too? Jonty’s Win has just been published. You can get your copy at www.feedaread.com or online at Amazon and other Internet book outlets. Thanks again!

JONTY'S WIN

JONTY’S WIN

My new novel is published today!

JONTY'S WINJonty Greer is an irresponsible, impoverished jobbing actor catapulted into the fraught mindset of a rich man by a lottery win. Certain that money can deliver happiness and change, he strives to give his fortune a social conscience by funding what he views as life-changing theatre workshops, initially to the young people of a small English seaside town. As insecure as he was ten years ago when he worked for The People Train Community Theatre, he summons support from his old acting buddies, Edward D’Amato and Caroline Fenton, persuading them to join him on his altruistic quest to heal and inspire the disenfranchised youth of the town and possibly, the whole world. Jonty is unprepared for the demands a vast amount of money put on him and the people around him, including the local council, the women in his life and an abused child attending the workshops. Can money alone mend the loneliness, austerity, damaged relationships and homelessness that he unwittingly uncovers? Will Jonty’s win make him a better person? Or will he and the people his money attract remain the same?
ISBN: 9781788763516
Type: Paperback

Also available in hardback. Order your copy now at www.feedaread.com

Soon at Amazon and other online book stores.

THE STORY OF THE LOST CHILD

A few years ago, when I was the creative director of Buzzword Films and Turning Point Theatre Company, we were approached by Lancashire Social Services to create a training programme for agencies working in the field of child protection.

tlc_front_page2After many productive visits to Lancashire to discuss the project, I came up with a programme to include a new play as the focus of a training day. The company would use Forum Theatre, discussion and workshop techniques to bond the people working in the different agencies. Although there was cooperation between them, there was little collaboration, so the aim of the training programme was to touch hearts, as well as minds to draw people together and encourage collaborative thinking when addressing the many and various difficult situations these professionals had to deal with on a daily basis. It was hoped that through better collaboration, there would be fewer child deaths in the area.

The Turning Point actors rehearsed my new play for three weeks, before taking it to a venue in Lancashire as part of a three-day training programme for approximately 30 people a day, from many different agencies that included Social Services, Police, Health and Social Care, Education and Child Protection.

The company presented a tight format, starting with trust exercises and theatre games, giving the group a chance to relax and have fun; always a good way to get people to connect. After a coffee break, the actors presented a performance of The Lost Child. My play was based on research material given to me by the commissioning agency. The story focused on the views of a child watching her parents cope with their mental illness and its aftermath.

Following the performance, the group broke for lunch and a chance to informally discuss what they had gleaned from the play.

sc0008872d2The afternoon session started with Forum Theatre, a method of enabling an audience to ‘rehearse for reality’ by watching scenes from the play again and looking at how the situations the protagonist found herself in, might be changed. The audience, who all had some professional connection to the subject matter of the play, were invited to change places with the protagonist at any moment during the replay of the scene, by shouting STOP, take her place and show how they would manage the situation depicted. Following each intervention, we discussed the new solution offered and whether or not it had worked, was truthful and possible. 

The training programme was a huge success and when it was over, I was commissioned to give the play a shelf-life by making it into a film. I wrote a screenplay and working with the same actors and a very talented cinematographer/editor,  we made a 28 minute drama DVD film that could be stopped at any point, using a special menu, so that trainers could discuss with their students specific issues, as they came up in the scenes.

The Lost Child won a whole raft of awards, including The National Training Award. It was described as: An example of exceptionally effective learning.

It was:

  • Highly Commended at The Community Care Awards
  • Highly Commended at the Cumbria and Lancashire SHA Achievement Awards
  • Winner of The National Training Awards North West
  • Winner of The Skills for Care Training Accolade and was awarded 4 stars in Community Care Magazine.

The Lost Child is currently being used nationally and internationally (University of Southern Australia) and has proved to be a very useful and innovative training resource. Here is what just one of our clients said about the film:

“North Essex Partnership Foundation Trust is using the DVD – “The Lost Child” as a component of its mandatory two-day Safeguarding Children Training which is provided to all clinicians and practitioners working within NEPFT. The DVD is used as an interactive exercise within which professionals explore the impact of parental mental illness on the child and the knowledge of professionals working in different domains and agencies.
The response to the DVD – (which has been used as part of the mandatory training programme for over three years with more than 750 professionals) – has always been excellent. It enables professionals to consider the impact of mental illness on relationships, the position of the child and frequent absence of the child’s voice in adult mental health services. Following use of the DVD as an interactive exercise, professionals link the lessons learned into policy and procedure – for example the use of genograms in all assessments. The DVD is thus an essential component in translating theory regarding the impact of parental mental illness on children and families into practice.” 
Consultant, Safeguarding Children & Adults
North Essex Partnership Foundation Trust

FURTHER BACKGROUND INFORMATION –

An interactive forum theatre play and a DVD film drama were commissioned from Lyn Ferrand, Turning Point Theatre and Buzzword Films to give children of mentally ill parents in Lancashire a better level of protection.

The project was part of a training programme developed jointly by Lancashire County Council’s Social Services Directorate, Lancashire Child Protection Committee and Buzzword Interactive Films.

The programme was written and facilitated by award-winning writer and director Lyn Ferrand. The project won the National Training Award – Northwest and The Skills in Social Care Accolade for the most innovative multi-disciplinary training. It was also short-listed for the Community Care Awards.

“Due to the difficulty in persuading staff who normally refer vertically within their organisations to start working laterally, we needed a different training solution, with a large emphasis on hearts instead of minds.” Lyn Gornall Lancashire County Council Training Co-ordinator, Mental Health

I think the issues around mental health and the impact on family members, but particularly the daughter in this case were really well explored. The quality of the story line was brought to life by the excellent acting and production. It is a real quality product and will be a very effective training tool” Director, Social Services.

HOW THE DVD WORKED –

Why is this an example of exceptionally effective learning?

Joint working in adult mental health and childcare across agencies is a complex, challenging and demanding area of work. The ways in which agencies meet the needs of both the child and the parent where there is parental mental illness inevitably impacts on all those involved.

Through the eyes of a child, the film tells the story of a family where there is parental mental illness. It gives the audience a unique opportunity to explore for themselves how those experiences can be affected by the ways in which they are involved or choose to intervene and explores the possible consequences and alternatives for the family, the professionals and others.

The film has a user-friendly menu. Trainers can stop scenes and ask participants to discuss what is happening. The DVD is not prescriptive. It does not give answers. Rather it encourages creative thinking and debate, challenging staff both at an emotional and an intellectual level and offering a way to explore solutions and improved practice.

OUTCOMES IN LANCASHIRE.

The level of co-operation was unprecedented across the county. Prior to this training there had been 2 child deaths due to non co-operation and poor communication. Since the use of this training there have been none. Improved awareness of the need for good communication, co-operation and ‘joined up working’ to protocols is the central contributory factor. By being able to challenge the professionals on neutral ground I felt that I made a difference for the first time today. Service user. Preston Area.

The evidence provided showed that

  1. a) Children are safer
  2. b) Services are more joined up in their thinking about families. Incorporating the principles of this training will benefit hundreds of children within families throughout Lancashire.

It certainly emphasises that there are critical times in an interview when the professional needs to reflect on strategies being used… it goes without saying that all of the sequences are relevant to the issues related to mental health, alcohol, domestic violence and the frustration clients can encounter with agencies in particular their lack of understanding of mental health. Manager Education Support Team. 

If you are interested to know more, please contact Lyn Ferrand at lyn.ferrand@zen.co.uk

 

A FOURTH ATTEMPT

Very soon, my fourth novel JONTY’S WIN will be published and available to buy online or borrow from my local library. 17190949_1265474693500898_8349464218403510824_nI will now go back to the beginning and start the revision of the other three: PRETENDING, RURAL CUT and THE MAN WHO THOUGHT HE WAS HAPPY.

I boldly went ahead and published three books through an online publisher, Feedaread. They gave me the chance to dip my toe in the water and find out what it feels like to write novels and see them in print. In the past five years, I have learnt a great deal about writing and about myself.

I decided to take the online route because I wanted to learn the craft. Some might say it was because I was scared of rejection slips, but that’s not the case at all. Of course, I hope people will enjoy reading my books and I also hope they will see progress as I move forward in my new writing career.

My next novel, now a work in progress, in the one I will submit to mainstream publishers. I have at least six months work ahead of me and despite how different my life is today, since my partner had a stroke, I am determined to persevere and eventually find a publisher who will take me on.

Four is my lucky number, as it happens. I have four amazing kids to prove it! But, number five will be the one. I am talking about the book, not another child, I hasten to add; far too old for that. It’s important for me to prove that no matter what happens in my life, no matter how old I am, I can, if I am really determined, achieve my goal.

JONTY'S WINAs I sit at my new desk, (thank you IKEA) gazing out of the window at the woods covering the hills near my home, I sometimes wish I had started this novel writing lark a bit earlier. There was always so much to do; kids to raise, films to make, plays to write, all demanding my attention. Novels need quiet time, head space, a room of your own and if possible, a tree-covered hill in the distance?

I love the process of writing books. It’s so different from any other form of writing. It’s solitary and at times, lonely. No one but your imagination to draw inspiration from. Cups of coffee or tea, biscuits and cake – not good if you consume those every day as your weight will confirm – make the late nights and early mornings a positive experience. These are the times I have allocated for work on the new book.

I have become a carer for my partner in the last eighteen months. He gets it. He understands that my writing hold me and everything else, together. Thanks Mike.

 

 

The Fears and Tribulations of a Writer…

So, you have finished your novel? No opening the Prosecco and crisps.  It’s time to rewrite it. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but unless you do embark on this tedious journey, you will never know if your plot, your characters or your idea to write the thing in the first place, was worthwhile and had any mileage.

Writing is a craft. It takes time and the sort of care a new baby deserves.  I have been trying to write for the last five years. I have published four books through an online site called Feedaread, funded by the UK Arts Council. It’s given me a chance to flex my writing muscles and find my writer’s voice – every writer must find this elusive piece of kit. It’s hidden somewhere in the dark recesses of your mind and doesn’t come out to play willingly.

When I read my finished work, there is often a sudden urge to declare it a load of old tosh and chuck into that little dustbin sign or press the delete button. I’m a fan of recycling, so after a cup of coffee or two and possibly a chocolate biscuit (or two), I start to work on recycling my writing. That may sound a bit lame, but it works for me. If I tell myself to cut, cut, cut, I start to lose heart and eat more biscuits.

For many years, I worked as a theatre director and a filmmaker. Life wasn’t half so difficult. You see, in those salubrious professions, you are not working alone. You have the bonus of lots of people around you, to tell you when your work is rubbish, too long, badly edited, crap!

As a novelist, you are stuck in a room with a computer, lots of dirty cups, a miserable dog who needs a walk and hope, (that’s not a person with the capital letter missing, it’s an emotion and probably has an emoji). At least I am, most of the time. You see, I always thought I was pretty good at spelling and grammar. Oh, folly! When I write, everything I learned in those literature/drama/writing lectures goes up a chimney. Why is that?

The recycling brings all those horrible mistakes to light. Who spells striped with the letter P twice? That’s stripped; something you do to wallpaper, right? Who puts too many commas, too few semicolons, far too many exclamation marks? Moi? That’s right. Why? Why? Why?

I learned how to spell and use English grammar at school. Yet, somehow the words flow out of me like racing banshees when I’m starting a chapter and the rules those dedicated teachers taught me all those years ago, disappear in the heat of the writing moment. Spelling etc becomes a hit and miss affair, as my fingers hit the keys and the story unfolds on the screen.

How to remedy this rebellion that happens in the space between head and fingers? Well, one way is to edit and rewrite until your fingers and your brain disintegrate, like melting lard on a hot hob. Not very pretty, but essential.

The next job, once you’ve put down the last full stop, is to turn the bloody PC off and GO FOR A WALK! (Dog is thrilled). I try not to look at the manuscript for at least three days. It’s like a well-made Christmas cake; it needs time to soak up the brandy and let the flavours develop. The idea is that when you come back to your precious book, it will jump out at you as a work of genius and your fortune will be assured.

Nope. That is not what happens to most writers. Sorry. If this career is your chosen path, failure is inevitable. Rejection is something you will have to cope with without on-going therapy. After five years at it, I quite enjoy rejection slips, especially if I am assured that my work is ever so slightly better than most of the unreadable rubbish the poor hard-working editor has had to read that week.

Writer out there, don’t despair. Share your rejection angst. I promise I will read every word.

fmd_150

Doing my bit, talking to other writers. Hope they are listening…

 

 

 

WORLD​ BOOK NIGHT

Tonight is World Book Night. I remember the first book I read. Do you?

As a late reader, it was the persistent encouragement from my mother and a particularly vigilant, rather large nun (I was educated at a convent) who together, pushed me to read and engage in the magical world hidden within the pages. 

That book was called The Night The Moon Turned Blue. It was the first book I managed to read on my own, from start to finish. At the time, it was like climbing Everest. I was seven and a slow reader. I remember so well that feeling of total joy and satisfaction, combined with a huge sense of loss when I reached the final page. I wanted more and became an avid visitor to my local library, turning up in the morning during school holidays to choose a book and returning it in the afternoon, much to the annoyance of the librarian, who told me I was lying when I said I’d read it already and wanted to borrow another book.

Sadly, I can’t remember the author of The Night The Moon Turned Blue – it’s a long time ago, but if anyone knows, do please email me. I’d love my grandchildren to read it. However, I do remember some of the characters and the bones of the story. It stays with me to this day.

That’s what books do. They touch your heart and soul and make memories that linger like the aroma of a wonderful meal. You digest the words as pictures manifest in your mind, different from the pictures every other reader will see. Books address you, personally. Their intimacy is unique.

Get involved in WORLD BOOK NIGHT. More info here: www.worldbooknight.org

Contact me here.  https://www.facebook.com/toastandbooksandfilm/

Happy reading!

Below, my next book, out soon.

JONTY'S WIN

 

 

 

 

CURRENT NEWS

MAKING IT HAPPEN – 6th April 2018

20170217_141902Five years ago, I began writing novels. It’s been a tough learning curve, but one I’ve enjoyed. There have been lots of hiccups and ups and downs in my personal life during the last five years. Writing is all consuming and I didn’t expect to become a full-time carer, juggling time like a mad woman at the start of my next piece of serious writing. It’s been ironic, as one of my most successful plays CARERS explored that subject in depth, ten years ago. Many early mornings and late nights allowed me to fit writing in when I could. Tearing hair out would be a good description of my feelings at certain moments during the past year! Has it been worth it? Absolutely. My wonderful partner is making progress after his stroke and life is on a more even keel, at last, though he will always have some disability. Writing has helped me cope with the rush of unexpected emotions any family trauma brings. It keeps me focused and helped me cope with the everyday chaos I had to face when I realised I was responsible for everything while my partner was recovering. One thing I learned was never to take anything for granted and always be thankful. Loving someone very much also helped, as did the wonderful support I received from my family and friends. I can’t thank them enough.

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I am now about to publish my next book JONTY’S WIN. This book is a sequel to my first novel PRETENDING. I wanted to explore the characters I’d created in more detail, discovering what might happen to them in the future. The book has not turned out the way I expected. Those pushy characters took me on a journey that led me down lots of garden paths and round the bend at times. In the end, I capitulated and the novel was finished and is now with publisher Feedaread.com and should be out very soon.

JONTY'S WINJONTY’S WIN is a quirky, humorous romance that looks at what happens when someone wins a vast amount of money on the lottery. Thanks for reading my blog and watch this space for a publishing date for JONTY’S WIN.  Lyn. x

Lyn Ferrand is the founder of Turning Point Theatre Company, Buzzword Films and most recently, Turnaround Films. She has written and directed film and theatre since 1990, working in association with a wide variety of voluntary and statutory agencies. In 2000 she launched Buzzword Interactive Films with Greg Browning. Buzzword and Turning Point Theatre won several awards for training films and theatre productions, including The National Training Awards.

Her film and theatre projects have been commissioned by many different clients in the voluntary and statutory sectors and used to highlight specific health and social issues, as well as for training healthcare professionals.

tlc_front_pageAwards: National Training Awards for the film THE LOST CHILD, The Skills For Care Accolades, Pavilion Innovations in Training and Prudential Carers Award. My work has been shortlisted for The Charity Awards and received four stars in Community Care Magazine.

Lyn was the Diversity Manager for DREC, creating diversity training for The Crown Prosecution Service and the Devon and Cornwall Police, including writing and producing the film NICE PEOPLE which looked at issues around rural racism.

Since 2015, Lyn has written three novels, published by Feedaread. Her books can also be found on Amazon.com and other online book outlets. Lyn is a member of The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

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