Anna Ryland

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I wrote a letter…

Letter writing has somewhat gone out of fashion today having been replaced by emails. I don’t know about you, but I still get a bit of a thrill when a letter arrives, not one from a bank or some other formal organisation, and especially if there’s an indication that it’s handwritten or done on what I call an old ‘tick tick typewriter’. Believe it or not, TSL sometimes gets such letters as a few of our authors have avoided all things technology-oriented which arrived after the old ‘tick tick’ machine. We’ve also had to get manuscripts re-typed so they can used in the electronic age – and can you imagine trying to explain how marketing now works through social media to people who have no idea of what the internet looks like, let alone anything like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest? This is digressing, back to letters.

I’m not a great fan but was taken with the frank honesty of Vanessa’s letter to her brother when I was looking up some links for Great Barn Poetry which had been run by Hillingdon Libraries in 2017. Vanessa seemed to capture the essence of sibling relationships and inspired this post.
I’m wondering though if I shouldn’t change my statement about not being a great poetry fan to rather say, ‘I’m not a great reader of poetry’ because hearing poetry read or recited brings it alive in a way my reading of it fails. So, here’s a Youtube performance of A Letter to You by Vanessa Kisuule.
Then in 2018, I discovered Kat Francois who summed up a day’s conference talks on the First World War in Africa in a poem at the end of the day – wow. (Kat has subseqently published with TSL the play about her relative Lazarus who served in Africa during the First World War – it includes poetry and mention of letters).

I’ve never read any of Maya Angelou’s work but know that many people regard her writing as significant and I’ve been taken with the odd quote attributed to her, so it seems appropriate to include her third book of 28 essays written to the daughter she never had, Letter To My Daughter (2009), in this post.

Twenty years earlier, in 1988, Kurt Vonnegut felt the need to write a letter to the people living in 2088. Nearly thirty years from when he wrote the letter, we seem to have stagnated or perhaps even regressed. Will those in 2088 be thinking the same or will a difference have been made?

TSL books which feature letters (or more like emails) include:
Anna Ryland – A Second Chance
Sue Hampton – Woken
Leslie Tate – Love’s Register

And here’s a selection of poetry by TSL authors in case your appetite for poetry was whet:

first published 14 June 2017, updated 2024

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Anna Ryland appreciation

Anna Ryland

Anna joined TSL near the beginning of our publishing journey, following a meeting with another writing group.

In bringing A Second Chance to print, Anna and I spent quite a bit of time going through already published books to get a feel for what we hoped would be the best font (readability and size) for her book to get the best balance with cost. TSL had started with the idea of a house font but it soon became apparent that this did not suit all books. It’s difficult to articulate but a story seems to come to light better if it has an approriate font – as I work with a book, it’s almost as though the story guides the asthetic too. Working with Anna on A Second Chance provided a valuable space to explore this aspect of publishing.

A Second Chance is a fairly long read by current publishing trends but that does not detract from the story – it would have lost too much of its essence had it been shortened. Often new authors ask how long a book should be – TSL’s answer: as long as it needs to be. A story needs to run its course. This doesn’t mean no editing or reworking, that definitely needs to happen, it simply allows an author the freedom to focus on the story and their writing.

A Second Chance is full of life encounters many of us would recognise, especially moving into a new and alien environment. While set in London before Britain joined the EU, the issues raised were just as pertinent for new emigrants during the EU years and most likely resonate even more in the current post-Brexit world. The protagonists in A Second Chance face similar challenges many of us do in strange new places, encountering people who are out to exploit others, some who are keen to help, others who hesitate to commit or trust and so forth.

My take on A Second Chance might appear too philosophical or analytical – don’t let that put you off. A Second Chance was for me a pleasure to read, it took me on a journey with all the necessary bumps and curves one would expect. Read it simply as a good urban adventure story of people adjusting to new lifestyles or for a reflection on society then and now. It’s up to you – I know I apreciate writing that works on muliple levels. And in the process you can learn a word or two of Polish.

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Luke

Luke Skywalker in Star Wars is probably one of the most famous Lukes around. Another being the disciple Luke who wrote the Bible Gospel. It’s a name derived from the Greek referring to a man from Lacania. A few TSL books have characters called Luke:

Mystery at the Manor, in Rodney the Chimney Sweep series by Paul Ross
‘Visiting Miss Lyon’ in Woken by Sue Hampton and also in ‘Lockdown Love’ in Still Rebelling for Life
A Second Chance by Anna Ryland
Lucky Luke gets a mention in Shaka are Dead by John Samson
DCI Benson’s first name is Luke in Death is Waiting by Patricia Simpson

first published 24 April 2017, updated 2024

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Green Eyes or Brown? #books #readingforpleasure

Some time ago, I saw mention that only 2% of the world’s population have green eyes. The majority have brown and 10% have blue.

Seeing this, I wondered how important it was for authors to specify their characters’ eye colour, so took a look through TSL’s books to see what authors have done. The result is below. Do you think it’s important to specify eye colour or should that be left to the reader’s imagination? Marthe Kylie-Worthington in Family are the Friends you Choose also questions authors focus on eyes.

The cat, Ginger, in Anna Ryland’s A Second Chance
Marla in Josie Arden’s Broken Ties of Time
Raphaela in The last rose of summer in This and That 2 by Josie Arden
Isabel in The Visit in Tea at the Opalaco by Jane Lockyer Willis
Fairytales and Oddities by Ezra Williams
Grey-green eyes feature in A Perfumed Holiday in Stuffed! by Johannes Kerkhoven
In a break from green eyes, brown eyes are mentioned in The Stillbirth Marriage in The Roots that gave Birth to Magical Blossoms by Amna Agib (Bit Nafisa)

Other books:
Doris Lessing’s lead character in The Summer before the Dark has brown eyes.

Thanks Pablo for the image

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Austin Motor Cars and Others

An Austin features in both Michael’s Magic Motor Car by Ray Wooster and Leslie Tate’s Heaven’s Rage. I’m not one to know much about cars but given that the Austin has featured in two of our books, it seemed an appropriate theme to explore – well, that of cars featuring in novels.

At the time of writing this piece, I was proofreading the novel, The Duelling Worlds by Sam Riverbanks when the eye just happened to fall on the sentence ‘A Vauxhall Astra, not the swanky BMWs and Range Rovers that some London councils thought fit to provide their police teams.’ Thinking about cars in books, there are a few no-name brands in Broken Ties of Time by Josie Arden. Broken Ties of Time also includes a daimler, ‘red Triumph Herald Estate’ and ‘A left-hand-drive daffodil yellow Lamborghini’, registration number ‘1LL WIN’. Another book which features a range of cars, including a yellow sports car, is Anna Ryland’s A Second Chance.

Moving to our books on African themes and the means of transport differs to those used in England. John Samson’s Shaka are Dead has the two young boys hitching a ride in a ‘bakkie’ (open backed mini-truck and a hiace taxi whilst Maya Alexandri’s female heroines in The Celebration Husband make use of an ox-waggon – not quite a motorised vehicle.

Building cars features in non-TSL children’s book The Car by Gary Paulsen.

In amongst all the books on Austin cars specifically, this one caught my eye.
Austin Pedal Cars by David Whyley

Finally, Rodney the Chimney Sweep had to feature only because there’s a car (okay, a van) on the cover. Does that mean Six for the Road and Bus Stop Blues are applicable too?

Have you seen?

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Spiritual places

The most obvious spiritual places are generally regarded as religious places. How many books feature these special places? I’ve identified a few:

A church (of England) church in The Good Vicar by John Samson
St Paul’s, a Polish church in Ealing and various others in A Second Chance by Anna Ryland
There is a Presbyterian Church in Naomi Young-Rodas’ If it Falls

And a whole book about a church which became a VAD hospital during World War 1 – St John’s United Reformed Church by Northwood Community Arts (on request).

Linda Kane has a few churches and other spiritual places in her Luci de Foix series: Black Madonna: The Pope’s Obsession and Death is an Illusion.
Jo Wilkinson’s When Falls the Night and Leslie Tate in Love’s Register have spiritual places rather than a building, as does Kathleen Bates in Joyful Witness.
Megan Carter’s collection of poetry Amazing Grace is inspired by spiritual places while Beatrice Holloway’s Elusive Destiny deals with meeting the requirements to get into heaven in novel format.

first published 12 January 2017, updated 2024

Anna Ryland, Fiction, Novel 1

On – A Second Chance – Anna Ryland


A Second Chance is the ‘cracking’ debut novel by Anna Ryland.

I met Anna at a local writers’ group I was talking to about publishing and over a cup of coffee she told me about her book. I was captivated with the idea. And the manuscript was no disappointment. It’s a tale of new beginnings and survival.

Set in 1980s London before Poland entered into the common European market and Poles could travel and work freely in Britain, A Second Chance recounts the experiences of young immigrants trying to make their way in a foreign city. Any new traveller to London, especially from overseas, will associate with the two friends trying to find each other at Paddington Station, the sense of disorientation and relief at finding someone you know.

Based on some of Anna’s own experiences and those of people she’s met, she encapsulates the fears and challenges of settling into a new city, and how this is exaccerbated when English isn’t your first language. But it’s not all negative and an uphill struggle. Interspersed are uplifting moments – so true to life where people, sometimes completely unexpected help solve a problem and give of themselves.

This is a book about life, in all its rawness.

And don’t just take my word that it’s a must read book, Keith Oswin posted

This book is addictive! Three chapters in and you’ve met the three main characters – and in my case decided that you actually care what happens to them.
With the current global nervousness about migrants, the release of this book could not have come at a more apposite time.
A cracking debut.

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Cricket

The Ashes – Cricket

I couldn’t resist. When this post was first written (June 2015) England and Australia faced each other to battle it out for the urn containing the ashes of English cricket. It has since been updated.

Cricket’s a game you either love or hate, although it seems that even within the sport there are strong opinions: you either love the 5-day test and detest 20/20 or vice versa. The one-day or limited over 50-ball game seems to be firmly in the middle, having moved up in the rankings of Test specialists. Coming to the game late, I understand those who have little time or interest in it. But there are some wonderful benefits to a day at the cricket. Think sun shine and a patch of grass to sit on (and a good book in the bag in case…).

TSL has been lucky to sign the BBC Test Match Special Cricket Statistician, Andrew Samson. With Andrew as one of our authors, we just had to feature a post on Cricket.

The most famous books concerning cricket are no doubt the Wisden‘s Cricketers Almanack. Our main interest though is novels or works of fiction, although if you’re interested in what the life of a Cricket Statistician entails, why not read Andrew Samson‘s The Moon is Toast?

Books mentioning Cricket

Prominent on the novel front is Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers (1836) and Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes (1857).

The game features on the cover of PG Wodehouse’s Mike (1909) and in Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe (1982) the Ashes trophy gets stolen.

A game of cricket features in Shaka are Dead and Powerless by John Samson and a cricket cap in Ray Wooster‘s A Boy’s War Journal. Mention is made of the game in Anna Ryland‘s A Second Chance and David FerrisThe Secret Life of Creatures

Heaven’s RageLeslie Tate
Rhys’ adventures (Training a Greyhound and Urgent Pocket Money Required) – Beatrice Holloway

Anna Ryland, Fiction, Novel 0

Anna Ryland

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About Anna


Anna has been working as a journalist for many years. Born in Warsaw she came to Britain in the 1980s. The stories of the main characters of the novel reflect her own experiences, as well as that of other Poles she has met in Britain. Anna lives in London with her husband and two sons. A Second Chance is her debut novel.

In July 2017, TSL author Leslie Tate met up with Anna Ryland for an interview.

Harrow Times profiles Anna (January 2017)
Anna speaks to Leslie Tate on Radio Dacorum (July 2018)

Books by Anna