Welcome

Hello I am Sheila Johnson and welcome to my website and blog. If you want to learn more about me visit the About Me page.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Book Launch Day

Hooray, book launch day has arrived. Great turn out of friends and supporters at Cheltenham's wonderful independent bookshop, the Suffolk Anthology www.theanthology.co.uk where nearly thirty people squeezed into the shop to hear me read extracts from my new book on New Zealand, Waireka 





And to get their books signed afterwards by the author, me!



Thanks to everyone who turned up at the bookshop or at my home to support a very successful book launch. 
Of course, if you missed either event and couldn't get there, Waireka is also available on Amazon 
Or at the Suffolk Anthology bookshop.
But if you live in the US you can get it directly from my publishers at 

Enjoy! And if you do, don't forget to post a review on Amazon. 

Thank you so much.
I

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Publicising my publication

It's great writing a book, at least some days! Most authors get a real buzz working alongside their editor to make the product or book the very best that it can be. I know I did. I loved those days. Then handling your book for the first time feels great too as you see the title you created, the book cover image you choose so painstakingly on the front along with your name. Perhaps we might ignore the picture of ourselves on the back cover as being slightly embarrassing - do I really look like that? But, on the other hand, words of commendation from other well-established authors can feel good and give the writer a lift. But then comes publicising or marketing your product.

A lot of writers are closet people, preferring to write alone. I am glad to say, that being a journalist, I quite like meeting people and being sociable. However, it's one thing interviewing someone else and learning about them, which is fun, to be interviewed yourself. Just a couple of days ago I did my first radio interview on Waireka on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. On the whole it went quite well, although there are always things you wish you'd done better. All part of the learning process I suppose. Anyway, here it is -:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p069v783   l

Listen from 1:07 - 1:13.09 approximately.  Enjoy. Also as I write this it is just two days before my first book launch, the first actually in a local bookshop. Amazing but also scary. 

Thursday, 21 June 2018


Hooray, publication day is finally here as of a few days ago! You can now officially obtain a copy of my book, Waireka on www.amazon.co.uk under Waireka by Sheila Donald. It is available in both book and kindle formats. It is also available from my publishers at www.ambassador-international.com but only in US dollars I'm afraid or on www.amazon.co.nz for my New Zealand relatives and followers, although I'm afraid I can't get to it from the UK.

I am also looking forward to two book launches. My first in a local independent bookshop which supports local authors - always good - called the Suffolk Anthology https://theanthology.co.uk on Thursday 5 July, my first in a bookshop, so exciting. The second is at my home on the following Saturday. The first time I have been fortunate enough to have two!

I hope you enjoy the story. Please support me and buy a copy and then let me know what you think.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

WAIREKA

Just wanting to let everyone know that my second book, Waireka, is due to be published on 1 July. My publisher is  www.ambassador-international.com  Do look them up and find out more about them.

Thankfully, this week after some deliberations, my designer and I finalised the cover for the book and I think it looks good. I hope that you, my followers are eager to see it and read the story.

What's Waireka about? The name of the book is Maori which means 'sweet waters' and it is about setting up a dairy farm in New Zealand in the early pioneering days. This historical romance is about my young heroine, Eliza's journey from her home in Scotland all the way to Wellington, New Zealand to be one of the first early pioneers of that country. It's a story of love and tragedy, hope and despair but most of all a tale of survival in that new country. I don't want to give too much away but I do hope that those that can will join me at one of my book launches to be announced soon and my online followers will follow the book's progress too and purchase a copy either in print or e-book. Keep watching this space for more details... 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

A Marriage made in Heaven

My son, Luke and his bride, Kelsey give wedding thanks!

Yes, my youngest son, Luke is married! I can hardly believe it! He and the beautiful, Kelsey tied the knot in Cleveland, Ohio, that's in the USA, on Saturday 17 February and what a wonderful day that was! Today we're celebrating another milestone too, Kelsey is finally allowed to come and join her husband in the UK who's been here since 25 February which is another big cause for celebration. Hooray! There's is truly is a marriage made in Heaven, they seem so much in love which is absolutely wonderful. A cause for them to celebrate and a cause for all Heaven to celebrate their love, a Christian marriage made in the sight of God.

It's made me think about our writing. We have our ups and downs - I've been on a bit of a down recently with the non appearance of my next book, WAIREKA, and all the problems surrounding it. But as Christian writers, whatever our ups and downs, maybe like a good Christian marriage it is something we do in the sight of God. Perhaps we could say the relationship of the writer/creator with the Creator, God is a marriage made in Heaven too. It's an important consideration, I believe in a world when many writers see their craft as 'something they do for themselves'. There's nothing wrong with that viewpoint either but if that's as far as it goes it seems a rather selfish aim and ending. 'I do it for me and if you like it great, if not well f... you' to use a rather nasty example. But surely we write 'to give hope to others, to make a difference in others lives, even to help them enjoy a little escapism from time to time, maybe aspire to help others touch Heaven? 

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

What's in a name?

What's in a name? Plenty I've now come to realise. We are now in the final month before my novel is published. It was to be called 'Tarureka' - Maori for sweet grass or meadow herbs - but now all of that has changed. Why? Because some of my New Zealand relatives felt it deviated too much from the true history of their and my forebears.

This can be a real stumbling block for the historical novelist even if, like Phillipa Gregory, when challenged about the veracity of her historical facts, declared 'I'm writing a story, not a history'.

Of course, this is not to argue that the historical novelist can ignore history and put in facts that are clearly out of the time, no, the historical novelist must always write his/her story based on history, but based is the operative word. To try and get the facts correct but not write a  true history. Whoever heard of a real person's story being made up of page-turning facts? Occasionally but rarely.

The other problem for the historical novelist, no, for any novelist, is that the characters have to necessarily be based on real people that the novelist knows, knows about or has met. What else can any of us do but write from what we know even if our characters are made up of composite people? The writer can only cover himself/herself by putting a disclaimer at the start of the book, something like - 'this story is entirely fictional. Any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental'.

So now 'Tarureka' has become the fictional place of WAIREKA which is Maori for 'sweet waters' given that the mythical river WAIHAHA or 'noisy river' has a tributary flowing through the land which is near the fictional town of Frampton.

Based on history indeed but also a story. Will that appease those who have been upset by the original tale? Maybe. But at the end of the day, a writer has to write a story they can believe in themselves. 

I would particularly like to thank my publisher for their support at what has been for me a rather difficult time. Thank you www.emeraldhouse.com and I look forward to publishing my new book, WAIREKA very soon.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Happy New Year!




To all my friends and followers. I hope you all had a great Christmas break. I did, although it's funny but life doesn't always turn out quite as we'd anticipated or planned for! 

2017 Christmas was to be my son's fiancee's first UK Christmas (she's American). I had hoped to cook a special Christmas dinner and show her other great British traditions and foods. However, on 20 December, just before my husband, Angus, and myself were about to go to a party, I tripped and fell and managed to impale my left hand on one of the spindles in the open dishwasher, fixing me to the ground in some pain. There ensued a trip to hospital by ambulance, an operation and lots of recovery time over Christmas. So, no cooking or cleaning for me (luckily I had written all the cards, wrapped all the presents and done most of the cleaning). Instead of me impressing Kelsey with my cooking skills, she ended up preparing the vegetables she was going to eat, and my husband, Angus, had a very busy Christmas cooking, washing and cleaning. He's gone back to work now for a rest!

But what did I learn from this? 
  1. Things don't always work out according to your plans but God is still in the every day.
  2. Miraculously although the spindle was in towards half of my hand no bones or tendons or anything vital was damaged. He is still a God of miracles!
  3. God is gracious. It was my left hand and not my dominant writing right hand.
  4. Even if our plans change we can still have a good time.
Perhaps there is a lesson here for our writing as well as life. We may not produce that bestseller that rocks the world but God is still in our writing. Also, not only have I got a great story to tell people, perhaps I now have the germ of another potential book? Nothing is wasted. May God continue to use us all in 2018 in our lives and in our writing.