In Brief – A chat with author Marie Anne Cope

Ahead of her exclusive Facebook Live performance this Sunday evening for Wrexham Carnival of Words 2020 Virtual Litfest, I caught up with author Marie Anne Cope to find out a little more about the inspiration behind her extremely chilling story “Dying to be Scared”.

I’ve read many of Marie’s works, including the ‘Bonds’ novels and ‘Tales From A Scarygirl 1: Dark & Scary’, but few stories made me squirm in my seat the way this one did…

Marie, despite the story being rather extreme, there is something very real and identifiable about the sense of fear it evokes – why do you think this is?

“The fear element is based on the lengths people go to to get a ‘fix’. It reflects a very real-life desire that we all harbour to a varying degree – whether or not we care to admit it.”

What made you choose an escape room as the setting?

“The escape room bit was because I did one, but also saw the movie Escape Room, although I think I wrote my story before the movie.”

The deeply disturbing main character is a doctor (who I hope I will never meet!) where did that come from?

“The doctor and his torture chamber came from a blog I did a few years ago as part of a trip through the dungeons of my mind. The seven heads for seven sins is based on the deadly sins.”

You must have some very dark dungeons! Why did you choose this story for tomorrow’s performance?

“I like reading it as people react to it, plus I’ve been told it’s a good story…”

Indeed it is!

Pop over to Wrexham Carnival of Words on Sunday at 7pm to watch this very special live performance.

The Big Shakespeare Quiz

1. If Shakespeare were alive today, which birthday would we be celebrating?

2. In one of the best known Shakespeare scenes, Hamlet says the famous line “Alas, poor Yorrick, I knew him.” But what is Yorrick said to have done for Hamlet 1,000 times?

Click here for a downloadable and printable pdf

3. In which Shakespeare play does the entire first scene take place on a ship at sea?

4. The theme of poison comes up quite regularly in Shakespeare’s work, and is used for both good and bad purposes. It’s most notable appearance is in Romeo & Juliet, but in which play is poison the agent of death of someone’s father?

5. For bonus points, what was the poison called?

6. In Macbeth, what is the event that causes Macbeth to say the famous quote “Out, Out, Brief Candle”?

7. A prolific playright, Shakespeare is believed to have written 154 sonnets, 2 long poems and various other writings. But – alone or otherwise – how many plays is the great bard said to have written?

8. Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play. Which play is said to be his second longest?

9. As his longest play, how many words does Hamlet consist of?

10. Kings are a staple character in many of his plays, but In which Shakespeare play does the story centre around a king and his three daughters?

11. The well-known saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” is often wrongly attributed to Shakespeare. In fact, it was first used by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839. In which Shakespeare play does an early form of the phrase “… many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills” appear?

12. How old was William Shakespeare when he died in 1616?

13. In the play Hamlet, the character Ophelia, in her descent into madness, hands out flowers. She gives Rosemary and Pansies to Laertes, for remembrance and thoughts and Rue to Queen Gertrude, Rue is the symbol of bitterness that represented adultery. But which flower did she pick up and set down without giving to anyone?

14. Also in the play Hamlet, to what did Hamlet himself instruct a player hold a mirror up to, in reference to the moral function of theatre?

15. In which Shakespeare play will we find the line “Here is the cap your worship did bespeak”?

16. Wrexham sadly didn’t feature in any of Shakespeare’s works. But which North Wales castle – pictured here in a painting by J M W Turner – gets an appearance in the play Richard II?

17. For bonus points, how much did the painting sell for in 2010?

18. Romeo and Juliet is without doubt one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays of all time. In which year was it first published?

19. In Franco Zefirelli’s  Academy Award-winning 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, which British actress played the role of Juliet?

20. It is widely rumoured that Shakespeare wrote the play King Lear whilst in Lockdown because of the plague. For a total of how many months was Shakespeare’s globe theatre shut down Between 1603 and 1613?

21. Sticking to the topic of lockdown, Singer James Blunt has recently released a new video for his song “The Greatest” in tribute to the NHS. In which Shakespeare play can we find a character who shares the singer’s name?

22.  In which of Shakespeare’s plays will we find the famous line “All the world’s a stage”?

23. Members of the clergy appear in many of Shakespeare’s plays, however they are often Roman Catholic representatives such as Cardinal Pandulph in King John, But in which play does the cast include the strawberry growing Anglican the Bishop of Ely?

24. In 1981, which British Rock band released the iconic song entitled Romeo & Juliet?

25. In which Shakespeare play do we encounter the famous line “Neither a borrower nor a lender be…” 

Click here for a downloadable and printable pdf

Over to you… complete the following phrase in your own words:

“A borrower nor a lender be. Nor for that matter…”

Quiz researched and prepared by J.Allan Longshadow for Wrexham Carnival of Words 2020 Virtual Litfest. Please feel free to reuse with attribution in the classroom or for any other use.



Introducing our Remote Reading Scheme

With so many older people now confined to home and deprived of their visits to the library and many other forms of social contact, the coming months are set to be an extremely lonely time for many people.

As a gesture to the community, we are launching a remote reading scheme. If you know an elderly person who loves books and would benefit from having somebody read to them for 20-30 minutes a day, completely free of charge, we will be happy to read books over the phone.

For more information, or if you would like to volunteer to join our team of readers, please send your details via a direct message (please don’t put any personal contact details in comments).

Let’s share some good words in this time of challenges!

To register an interest in receiving this service for yourself or a family member, or to volunteer as a reader, please send an email to or telephone Allan Longshadow on 07985 521596.

A message from wordworx

Well… it’s a little odd that a company which is all about words should be lost for words.

As a community-oriented independent publisher, we’ve worked ridiculously hard over the last 12 months not just to provide a platform for local authors to publish their work and reach new audiences, but also to reach out into the community and make literature a part of as many peoples lives as possible.

Even a couple of months ago, developing projects for schools and care homes among others seemed like a pretty safe bet. So did rolling out our affordable English classes for foreign speakers. Need we say any more…

Perhaps the biggest joke in all of this is that it all started with a book about infectious diseases… (we still have copies to prove it).

That we’ll be carrying on with business, that is for sure. What is also sure is that like for so many other independent businesses, it will most certainly not be business as usual. We can only hope that we, along with our many friends and supporters in business (you know who you are), can weather this latest storm.

With so much sadness and suffering, we do feel that the world needs positivity now more than ever before. With this in mind, we are going to try to move as many of our activities as possible online. We’re also going to do our best to provide opportunities for inspiration, encouragement and discussion for those who have already embarked on a writing journey as well as those who are starting out; in fact, anybody seeking new inspiration in these uncharted times – so keep an eye out for our posts over the coming weeks and months.

We might have to politely ask you to buy a book from time to time too, just to keep us going – because you never know if you don’t try.
We wish all of our customers strength in these difficult times,


World Book Day Schools Tour

On Thursday 5th March, author J.Allan Longshadow spent a day attending a number of schools in Mid Wales to celebrate World Book Day 2020. In celebration of Welsh Culture, he read a selection of stories from the fantastic Fiona Collins’ “North Wales Folk Stories for Children”, as well as participating in Q&A sessions during which the children asked dozens of questions about books, writing and publishing.

Novice to Novelist

This February, author and publisher J.Allan Longshadow delivered the first edition of our brand new course ‘Novice to Novelist’. The intense, two-part course took place at Wrexham Enterprise Hub in North Wales and was specially designed for those who are not able to commit to a residential weekend course.

Over two Saturdays, our first contingent of five aspiring authors delved into the world of fiction with a series of hands-on workshops that included:

  • The writing habit
  • Creating convincing characters
  • Creating your story world
  • Points of view
  • Pacing
  • Showing vs telling
  • Revising and editing
  • Routes to publication

The course was extremely enjoyable and it was a delight to see our participants build their confidence and skills as we progressed.

We look forward to bringing you the next edition in the very near future. If you are interested in booking a space, contact us today to enquire about forthcoming dates and locations.

42 years on: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The first radio episode of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy broadcast at 10:30 pm on Wednesday, 8 March 1978 – 42 years ago this week.

“You live and learn. At any rate, you live.”

– Douglas Adams

The radio series was narrated by comedy actor Peter Jones as The Book. Jones was cast after a three-month-long casting search and after at least three actors (including Michael Palin) had turned down the role. A comedy science fiction series created by Douglas Adams, A Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was originally written as a radio comedy and was subsequently adapted into a novel and other formats.

The story follows the misadventures of the last surviving man, Arthur Dent, after the Earth has been demolished by a Vogon constructor fleet to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Dent is rescued from Earth’s destruction by Ford Prefect—a human-like alien writer for the eccentric, electronic travel guide for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—by hitchhiking onto a passing Vogon spacecraft. Following his rescue, Dent explores the galaxy with Prefect and encounters Trillian, another human who had been taken from Earth (prior to its destruction) by the two-headed President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox and the depressed Marvin, the Paranoid Android.

42, or The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything

In the works, the number 42 is given as The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything by the computer Deep Thought. The absurdly simple answer to a complex philosophical question became a frequent reference in popular culture in homage to The Hitchhiker’s Guide.

More Quotes by Douglas Adams

“It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.”

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

“What I need… is a strong drink and a peer group.”

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

“The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbable lacks.”

Check out this great article on the BBC for 42 Douglas Adams quotes to live by.

Michael Bond

Born on this day: Thomas Michael Bond CBE (13 January 1926 – 27 June 2017). British author best known for creating Paddington Bear, the main character in a series of fictional stories for children. His first book was published in 1958 and his last in 2017, in a career spanning 59 years. More than 35 million Paddington books have been sold around the world, with his characters also featuring in film and on television.

Loz Pycock – FlickrMichael Bond, Saint Mary’s Square, Paddington CC BY-SA 2.0

Bond’s series of books recount the tales of a bear from “darkest Peru”, sent to the United Kingdom by his Aunt Lucy sends him to the United Kingdom, carrying a jar of marmalade. In the first book, the Brown family find the bear at Paddington Station, and adopt him, naming the bear after the station.

E. L. Doctorow

Born on this day: Edgar Lawrence Doctorow (January 6, 1931 – July 21, 2015). American novelist, editor, and professor, best known internationally for his works of historical fiction. He is widely regarded as one of the most important American novelists of the 20th century.

Portrait of E. L . Doctorow. Image: S L O W K I N G (GFDL 1.2)

He wrote twelve novels, three volumes of short fiction and a stage drama, which include the award-winning novels Ragtime (1975), Billy Bathgate (1989), and The March (2005). His work is noted for the way in which he placed fictional characters in recognizable historical contexts, with known historical figures, and often used different narrative styles. His stories have also gained recognition for their originality and versatility, with Doctorow receiving praise for his audacity and imagination.