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.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Cheltenham Literature Festival features New Zealand

This year's Cheltenham Literature Festival featured the theme 'East versus West'. As various countries and their writers across the globe were covered, New Zealand also got its chance to shine with a couple of New Zealand writers - Kirsty Gunn and Sarah Laing sharing their thoughts on the short stories of New Zealand writer, Katherine Mansfield.

 Sarah Laing showcased her book, a graphic memoir entitled 'Mansfield and Me'.

Mansfield's stories maybe a little hard for the modern reader to digest but, a member of the famous Bloomsbury set of the early twentieth century she has been called one of the most significant of New Zealand's writers. Literary giant,Virginia Woolf said of her - "I was jealous of her writing - the only writing I have ever been jealous of".

Wednesday, 26 September 2018


September and October are months of celebration for my family with the birthdays of my nephew, his partner, my mother-in-law my two sons and their aunt Kate. Quite a list!

However, what fun to go out and celebrate big birthdays. It was my mother-in-law's 88th birthday last Saturday, a real occasion. Where better to celebrate than Cheltenham's iconic Art Deco restaurant, a former cinema?  Even the original motion picture projector is still there! After a quick tour of the place we had a lovely luncheon complete with brass band which even played 'Happy Birthday' to my mother-in-law, Ruby.

Great time, great food.

My characters in Waireka also have a number of celebrations across the years from weddings to the opening of new barns at the dairy. Why don't you read the book to find out how people celebrated in the nineteenth century? Their clothes were certainly not as comfortable as ours today and probably more like the ones below.

Monday, 6 August 2018

The history of Waireka

On a recent trip to Scotland I was fortunate enough to see a number of artefacts that help to enhance the reader's enjoyment of my recent book, Waireka.

At the beginning of the novel, Eliza hears about the possibility of her New Zealand visit when at her local church with her sister, Kitty. They lived on the Stair Parish Estate and the local village would have been Kincardine in Fifeshire, a Presbyterian Church we visited.

Later when Eliza arrived in Wellington, the Manse of the Reids was grand enough to furnish a stove for cooking rather than the simple fire that most of the settlers would have to content themselves with. That stove might have looked something like the one in my picture below, although probably a little more primitive but it does give some idea of what it might have been like.

When Eliza, Alister, Robert and Mary and families travel from Taita near Wellington to Frampton in the Wairarapa, they have a long journey which necessitates camping overnight in the bush. While there, Eliza and Robert spot a Huia bird, a bird which would have been visible in New Zealand at that particular time but was later to become extinct. I found out more about this bird when visiting a museum in Glasgow recently.

The above plague explains a little more about this exotic bird.

And here he is in all his glory, or should I say, she, as she has a hooked beak which Robert explains in the story denotes that she is the female of the species. What a shame such a magnificent bird died out because of the dictates of fashion!

Well I hope these images will encourage you to pick up and read a copy of Waireka and post a review about it. Thank you in anticipation.

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.

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


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...