This week sees not only the glorious Lammas festival, but also a full moon on August 2nd, known at Stonewylde as the Corn Moon.  And at the end of August we have a Blue Moon too - which mirrors events in my latest book, funnily enough.  So it seems appropriate that this week, I’ll be putting the very final touches and edits to this final book in the series, Shaman of Stonewylde, at the time when we celebrate the start of the harvest and have two full moons in the month. With the publishing date for Shaman fixed for October 18th, I’m currently arranging a series of book signing events.  But I’ve also been out and about with the new paperback edition of Shadows at Stonewylde,  having been invited back again to Swindon Waterstones.  I also spent a lovely day supporting the Wessex Schools’ Literature Festival at Thornden School in Eastleigh, Hants.  This school visit was kindly arranged by Nicky Gale of West Quay Waterstones, who’s an ardent fan with the proclaimed mission of converting the world to Stonewylde!  I spoke to a large audience of Year 9 pupils and then taught two creative writing workshops - many thanks to the fantastic kids at Thornden School and especially the librarians Sue and Liz. Sadly I couldn’t send out a Summer Solstice newsletter as my laptop had recently given up the ghost and I didn’t have any of the necessary software on the replacement. See in the Community News below of the incredible Stonewylde Gathering at Avebury, and the Handfasting that took place there.  During my laptop disaster, I also lost a lot of e-mails and contacts, so if you’re still awaiting a reply from me for something, please do contact me again.  Sorry about this. We’re happy to put up some readers’ photos and would welcome some more please of all the books, the funnier the better.   This one from Spain comes via Facebook, with the caption “ Fab weather, fab drink and fab book, what more can a girl ask for?!” Did anyone think of Stonewylde when watching the opening ceremony for the Olympics?  That meadow, the tor, the Village Green - all were very reminiscent.  One of my forum members thinks Danny Boyle must have read the books for inspiration!  Another has devised the new slogan:  “Stonewylde - fifty shades of green”.  Wouldn’t it be great if people were reading about Green Magic instead of that! Mr B and I spent a wonderful long weekend at Port Eliot Festival as I’d won tickets in a competition.  We met up again with Dovegreyreader, the famous literary blogger, and enjoyed listening to her interviewing many authors in her knitting tent, including Tracy Chevalier, Robert McFarlane, Michele Roberts, Ali Smith and Kate Summerscale amongst others.  We also met for lunch with Cornmother and her Other Half, although sadly we couldn’t make it to her special corn-dolly event at the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle which took place last weekend.  My three lovely chickens are thriving, and are now all laying daily.  We’ve had a couple of visits from Mr Fox, but luckily the girls were safe in their Eglu.  I’m now in the process of persuading Mr B to let me have a dog as we’re only minutes away from the woods and fields and I’d like some company other than my somnolent cats for the autumn and winter when I start working on my next book.  More details in the Autumn Equinox newsletter about dates when I’ll be out and about in bookshops, and do check on the website, forum and Facebook page for up-to-date news.   At the time of writing, there’s a great pre-order deal for Shaman of Stonewylde on Amazon and apparently you won’t pay more if their price goes up subsequently.  However it’s always much better if you can come along to a signing event if possible and support a book shop. i wish you all a blessed Lammas - I hope you all have a successful harvest, whatever it may be!  And I also wish you a magical time at both the Corn Moon and the Blue Moon. Bright blessings Kit  xxxxxx Breaking Stonewylde news      Stonewylde Newsletter 44 August 1st 2012 Bright blessings at    to all Stonewylders What’s been going on ... The Lammas Festival at the beginning of August is one of the four Celtic Cross Quarter Festivals, linked to the old farming calendar - some call it Lughnasadh.  This was a time when people were very close to the land and their lives were governed by the changing of the seasons and the need to grow enough food to survive. Lammas takes its name from hlaf maesse, the Old English for loaf mass and this is the time when the cereal crops are harvested. There are links to other cultures and religions too, notably Demeter and Ceres, also associated with crops and the harvest. There are many ancient customs involving the cutting of the first and last sheaf. The spirit of the corn, sometimes referred to as the Corn Mother, was the sacred symbol of this festival. Many cultures, including the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, held similar types of rituals where the bounty of the land was honoured.  It was also the time when John Barleycorn was sacrificed. Corn dollies are a feature of the Lammas festival, and in times past, different areas wove their own beautifully complex designs often decorated with bright ribbons or wool. Traditionally the corn dollies woven at Lammas (or their ashes) were ploughed back into the land at Imbolc, symbolising the return of the Corn Spirit to the earth, in an attempt to ensure a good crop the next year. Lammas is also the time of year when sweethearts exchanged favours - these were simple knots woven from corn and sometimes tied with a ribbon.  If a girl accepted a boy's favour, she'd pin it to her clothing to show the community she was "walking out" with a lad, and he'd pin her favour to his hat to do the same. The symbol at Stonewylde for Lammas is the head of wheat or corn, and it's a full day of celebrations for the folk of Stonewylde, but particularly the Villagers. Rituals start before dawn up in the Lammas Field, with the community spread around the perimeter and linked together to greet the sunrise. The crop is harvested in this special field in the traditional way using sickles, Visit the Stonewylde Website Dates for your diary ... Do come along and collect a bookmark and badge.  And if you own a Stonewylde T-shirt - please wear it! Book launch for Shaman of Stonewylde at Waterstone’s in Dorchester Saturday October 20th from 11.00am till 3pm.  All five books will be available!  At the last book launch in Dorchester, we sold out of copies of Shadows.  There’ll be plenty of copies of Shaman available at this launch, but if you know you’ll definitely be coming, you may like to reserve one to make sure of getting it.  And if you can’t make it on the day, they can reserve one and I can still sign it for you.  Waterstone’s Book Events Saturday October 20th - Dorchester, Dorset  *Book Launch Event* Saturday November 3rd - West Quay, Southampton, Saturday November 17th - Swindon, Wilts Saturday November 24th - The Oracle, Reading, Berks Friday December 7th - Camberley, Surrey Most Waterstones signings start at 11.00am and I stay in the shop for about three hours or so, but please check the website here for full details as some of the events are different.  * Independent Book Shop Events * Saturday October 27th - Cat & Cauldron, Glastonbury, Somerset  2 - 5pm (Avalon Faerie Ball after) More events will be added - latest information and details can be found on the Stonewylde website here Stonewylde Community news ... In May we once again gathered at Avebury to meet up with members of the Stonewylde Community.  Our very special member, Swampy the Campmeister, had once again been a complete star and organised a rally at nearby Blacklands Campsite at Calne.  We’d completely taken over one of the paddocks, and had the use of “the Barn” for an indoor-ish barbeque party on the Friday, and also a Stonewylde Craft Fair on the Sunday.  Both were lovely and it was so good to meet up again with old familiar faces and many new ones too.  Anyone who’s a member of the Stonewylde Forum is welcome to join us, and you can come along as a day visitor if camping isn’t your thing.  But with the excellent rally rates negotiated by Swampy, camping is a fun and cheap option, and dogs and children (and ferrets) are welcome too. On the Saturday we all spent a magical day at Avebury, where once again we’d hired the Village Hall.  We had a lovely cafe there staffed by volunteers with cakes kindly brought along by readers, and everyone came dressed very beautifully for this was a special occasion - a Stonewylde Handfasting!  Anyone who’s read the books knows this is an old country tradition that can be performed as well as, or instead of, a traditional wedding.  I’d written a handfasting scene for the new book, and sent a copy of this ceremony to a special member of the community, known there as Faerieface.  She’d converted this into a usable ceremony and at Avebury, our lovely Bekki and Brian, who own Neveah Hair in Portsmouth, were joined together.  We processed through the street of Avebury and in a circle of friendship amongst the ancient stones, Faerieface and her husband, helped by other Stonewylde readers within the circle, led a really moving ceremony.   Up until this point, the weather had been gloomy if not positively wet.  But as we all stood in a circle, suddenly the sun burst from behind the clouds, and the lovely couple were blessed with warmth and light.  It was amazing!  Afterwards in the Village Hall we shared a wonderful Green Man handfasting cake make by Beantighe, another long-standing member of our community. That night we had a huge campfire and party at the campsite with entertainment provided by some of our talented folk.  It was a wonderful gathering, and Swampy has booked the site again for next year.  If you’d like to join us, you’d be most welcome.  Full details are on the Stonewylde Forum.  Members of the community get together regularly, with real friendships (and the occasional romance) flourishing way beyond anything ever imagined amongst a group of people who’ve met because they enjoyed reading a series of books.  There are now many new groups on Facebook formed from Stonewylde readers, and people join together for weekends, parties and celebrations.  We’re getting together in a local meetup to celebrate the Blue Moon at the end of August in a very sacred place - details on the forum . and every man, woman and child from the Village is involved with harvesting the Lammas Field in time- honoured fashion.  Lammas cakes are eaten for breakfast, made from corn, butter and honey and flavoured with nutmeg. This is the day for honouring the Corn Mother, the symbolic spirit who lives in the crops and sacrifices herself every year for the community. When the last sheaf is harvested, it's carried ceremoniously to Magus and the Lammas Queen. She must weave it into a special corn dolly that is used in the rituals up at the Stone Circle that night, and is then hidden up in the rafters in the Great Barn, to protect the Corn Spirit during the cold winter months.  At Imbolc, the dolly is fetched down again for the Corn Spirit to be returned to the waiting earth in the Lammas Field.  There is also another custom that takes place when the last sheaf is cut - the killing of hundreds of rabbits trapped in the centre of the field, and made into special Lammas pies for supper. No place for squeamishness in the countryside! Information about the ancient craft of corn-dolly making can be found on the website of the Guild of Straw Craftsmen.  Many Stonewylde readers have memories of making simple corn favours at school, but generally it’s not a craft that’s taught to children nowadays.  There’s also a serious shortage of the old-fashioned type of crop needed to make corn dollies - it must be the hollow- stemmed variety which isn’t widely grown any more.  Members of the Guild of Strawcraftsmen are dedicated to keeping the craft alive, and run workshops and demonstrations.  Our own Cornmother can be seen in the first section outside the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle working on a small corn dolly - behind her are two “necks” bound with red ribbon. You can read all about the Lammas festivities in the second book, Moondance of Stonewylde. Lammas is a good time to remember that we're all dependent on the bounty of the earth. Without the fertility of the land, and the life-giving powers of the sun and the rain, there'd be no living creatures on this planet. Take time to honour Nature's gifts to us at Lammas.          ©Steve Perry   We’re delighted to present the cover of the fifth and final book in the Stonewylde series - Shaman of Stonewylde! I’m so pleased with the cover, designed by Larry Rostant and the wonderful Art Dept at Orion/Gollancz.  Many thanks to all of them for doing us proud again.  Here is the back cover copy for the book - beware spoilers if you haven’t already read the other four books: In the final book of the series, the future of Stonewylde teeters on the cliff-edge. The Outside World clamours at the wrought iron gates, and the evil alliance within Stonewylde threatens to destroy everything.  With the new business and their relationship in tatters, Yul and Sylvie find their once-beautiful world has been desecrated by the dark forces. But Stonewylde is as old as the hills themselves, and the landscape endures. Leveret has discovered her true calling and is determined to lead the community back to the golden age of magic and prosperity. As the enchanting tale of Stonewylde draws to its end, Sylvie finally realises why she was brought here and Yul understands his true destiny.  Whilst Leveret sees exactly what lies ahead for Stonewylde … So there you have it!  I hope to be able to bring you an extract soon, and Gollancz will be producing a promotional film from footage shot at Avebury last year.  In the meantime, if you have any short film showing people reading any of the Stonewylde books in amusing situations, please let me know as we’d love to launch the Stonewylde You-tube channel with some funny promos. Please follow us on Twitter - there’s a Kit Berry profile and a Stonewylde one.  We also now have a brand new Stonewylde page on Facebook (rather than just my profile) which will have competitions, giveaways and event notifications, so please help spread the word by “Liking” and sharing the page. I’m sorry for all this hype - it’s not the Stonewylde way, but we need to get the books out there and help to make the world a greener, more magical place.
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