Thursday, 22 September 2022

Progress and a break

The above was taken this week at Idless Woods, where Laurence Reed interviewed me for what will be a very short video to publicise my novel, The Rescue. I have to say, we filmed for an hour and Lainy was absolutely brilliant, and sat or lay beside me as if she'd been born on a film set. Dear girl is six today, so happy birthday Lainy.

The video will go on Booktock and other social media platforms, I am informed by my Head of Publicity aka dear friend Pauline. So watch this space!

I realise, with horror, that my last post was nearly a month ago, and the days have sped by. Apparently we get less and less daylight at this time of year - we're actually losing about half an hour's daylight a week at the moment.

September has been swallowed up finishing very last edits for The Rescue, approving the cover and starting the new website. I hasten to add, I'm not doing any of this but the wonderful Tammy is, and when I have both I will post them. It's incredibly exciting and, as typesetting looms nearer and it's too late to make any changes, I'm becoming increasingly paranoid.

What if people don't like my book? Well, there are bound to be some people that don't, but the thought of it is horrifying. Far more so than for my walks books, as novels are so much more personal. Receiving criticism is always difficult, especially so when I did so a few weeks ago from someone whose opinion I value highly. She made a comment and then said, "Has anyone else said this?" I said, with some measure of relief, "No." For while I always listen to what is said, if several people say the same thing, then it's generally worth looking at or changing. If not, then maybe it is, maybe it isn't - that's for me to decide.

On Saturday my mate Jac and I are off for a few days to North Devon, where we visited in March, and as it was so gorgeous, we're going back. There's also a pool so we're hoping to get some swimming in, though as it's getting colder, I'm not sure how enthusiastic I'm going to be. She's much braver than me and swims all year round. I like it to be hot before I get cold, if you get my drift.

On my return it's all go for a talk for the Falmouth Book Festival at the end of October, then planning the launch party, writing press releases and all that stuff. And all the while I am writing the sequel to The Rescue..... In the meantime, here is the view on the way to singing this morning at Penryn bridge....

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Self publishing journey

Apologies for absence. Life seems to have been extremely busy, what with preparing for publication, trying to learn as much as I can about the process which is fascinating but a steep learning curve, and starting the sequel novel.

I met with a few other authors recently - Paula Rooney whose book "I hope There's a Kettle in my Room" is a fascinating account of her solo travel round Europe during lockdown, age 55. So for anyone who thinks they're too old to try anything new - try it!

Then yesterday I met with Ben Rowswell whose books for children include Cornwall: An Archaeological Adventure and I Spoke to the Sea, both of which are beautifully written and illustrated and a really fun way of learning for any child.

Lainy came to both meetings - last week, with Paula, we managed to find a shady bench with a table to sit and chat and have our coffee. Yesterday, Ben and I met in Boscawen Park, which is lovely but incredibly busy with children on scooters or running along, some anxious looking grandparents, overheated parents, and a selection of other dogs. As Lainy's not used to too much close interaction with fast moving people, I had to keep a very close eye on her, but in fact she did brilliantly.

It was quite tricky concentrating, writing notes, reading Ben's books and keeping an eye on Lainy, but it was very good training for her, and Ben was very generous with his time and tips.

We all believe that business should be about helping each other: sharing contacts and suggestions of where our books might sell - after all, that's what makes the world go round, is it not?

We had a beautiful walk up a footpath and into fields and woods, then ended up meeting a friend in Victoria Park the other side of Truro which is a real hidden gem - quiet and shady with a lovely bandstand, a tiny cafe with plenty of water for hot dogs and hot owners alike. That's my idea of a business afternoon!

Friday, 12 August 2022

The Good Servant by Fern Britton



I wasn’t sure what to expect of this book, which is completely different from Fern’s Cornish based books. This is the story of Marion Crawford, nicknamed Crawfie, who became Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret’s governess from when they were very young until Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip. Fern has researched her subject thoroughly - check the bibliography at the back of the book - and it is a fascinating part of history that most of us, of a certain age, are familiar with. But there is an added twist to this story - once Crawfie retired, this dutiful woman, who devoted most of her life to the royal family, sold the story of their lives in her book, The Little Princesses. Trying to keep to the facts as much as possible, but mixing with fiction where necessary, Fern explores why Crawfie might have done this and how the royal family could have instantly banished her, resulting in Crawfie’s isolation and misery. The other interesting character in all this was Sir Alan ‘Tommy’ Lascelles, who was assistant private secretary to King George V, King Edward VIII, and private secretary to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. He and Crawfie met at least once, and Fern creates a mutual friendship between these two: Marion who always put the royal family first - she even postponed her marriage for over ten years - yet was destroyed by her book. Tommy, on the other hand, was perhaps stronger and certainly wilier and while he had little of Marion’s respect for the family, he survived untouched. This is an interesting take on a sad, true story, which deserves to be written about. Well done, Fern, for bringing it to our attention. It’d make a great film…… Watch out The Crown… And on a personal note, I received the first proofs for my novel cover. I went into a complete tailspin I was so excited, and nervous, because it’s so important to get the cover right. A long talk to the designer later, and we’re both happy. This journey has really started!

Monday, 1 August 2022

Absence

This was actually taken on our last trip away, at the Treffry viaduct near St Austell, in a valley riddled with wonderful mining heritage. But that's another story for a different day.

I set off for the Lizard thinking I'd be away a few days, as usual, but M helped take an elderly neighbour to the dentist, shopping etc on the Monday, and then on Tuesday they very kindly took us to lunch as a thank you. We went to the most southerly cafe at Lizard Point and sat outside, overlooking the sparkling sea, while the sun shone, the food was lovely and a good time was had by all. But by the time we got back it was getting late and we had to walk the dogs, I was knackered and the day whistled away - so much for getting any work done.

The next day I felt a bit weird in the morning, as if I was going down with a Lurgy. M looked at me, fed me a crumpet and Lemsip and suggested gently that I should go back to bed for a bit. Two hours later, I'd slept the morning away - and I never do that! I slept for the next two days on and off, in between staggering out to walk Lainy in the graveyard. I would add that this is 5 minutes down the road, and I can let her off, so while feeling rubbish it meant she could chase rabbits for half an hour and I could collapse on the bench provided before taking her back.

Having lived on my own for the last twelve years, it was a real joy to be looked after when poorly. Cups of tea and plates of toast arrived at regular intervals, or a little ramekin dish of ice cream. My washing was done. The little, important, things make all the difference when you're feeling rubbish.

So I am very grateful to have had such a good nurse. My friends upstairs rang to see how I was and when I was coming back, as Joe was watering my plants for me, and I received a lovely welcome when I did get back, as well as a bunch of sweet peas from their garden.

So while it can be confusing living in two places at once, it's very lovely to be so appreciated.

I now have to try and catch up on everything here, and get my head back into work mode....

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Quotes and what a scorcher

We've just come back from a lovely few days camping with friends near St Just in Penwith, and my what a scorcher! I was more concerned with how the dogs would cope than us, but luckily there was a good breeze the whole time, and some shade, so we survived. Though I have realised I don't cope well with this level of heat. I felt utterly flattened, but we had a brilliant time with our friends and some good walks and a swim and enjoyed it so much we're going to do it again next month.

The other day I came across this - "The trouble with words is that you never know whose mouths they've been in." Dennis Potter, dramatist (1935-1994)

And I thought, isn't that clever? I'd love to be able to trot out things like that on the spur of the moment. Usually I find I think of sparkling, witty things to say at 3 in the morning which isn't of much use to anyone, though I suppose they can be stored for later use.

Oscar Wilde was, of course, the master of wit and put downs. What is it that makes someone like that I wonder? Presumably there's something in our brains that determines the sort of person we become, but it has to derive from being surrounded by people who appreciate that kind of humour. Or does it?

On the rare occasion that I do think of the right thing to say at the right moment, I get great satisfaction. Of course, when we're writing, we can plan those moments which makes it easier for us, and more pleasurable for the reader.

On that note, I am off to look over a short story I wrote last week for my new website as a teaser for my novel, to be published later this year. Exciting or what?

I will leave you with another picture of our trip away, this time at Cape Cornwall.

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Dreams

I'm a great believer in dreams - I mean the kind of things we daydream about.

Most of us don't have a perfect life - and if we did I suspect many of us would get sick of it, but who hasn't stared out of the window from work, wishing we were somewhere else? It might be wanting to afford a holiday somewhere hot. It might be dreaming of a companion to do things with. A partner to be happy with. Someone to have glorifying shout-from-the-rafters sex with. We might dream of a house with a garden. A dog. A cat. A different job. No job. Better health. To live a few more months. Not to live any more at all. The list goes on and on.

I don't believe that it's possible to Have Everything, and actually, I don't see why we should, especially when so many people have so little. At one point I was desperate to have children but we eventually decided against it and I'm very glad we did. Conversely, many years ago, I had a dream job that was everything I'd ever wanted, and that came to a speedy end courtesy of the 1990 recession. I never really got back on the career ladder, and was very unhappy at work for a long time. But I survived, and other things happened. Namely, working for myself, as both my brothers have.

But what I'm trying to say is that even if we don't get what we want, something else usually comes along. It might not be what we thought we wanted, but it's what the universe (or whatever) has dealt us, and we might as well make the most of it. Something, or someone unexpected may well come along as a result.

I wanted to become a dancer at one point. I was on the way to taking Royal Ballet entrance exams but my dad didn't think it was a good enough career. If I'd gone I might not have become anorexic. But I might well have done. We don't know, do we, what might have happened if we had or hadn't done something.

But I still think it's so important to dream. Dreams can bring shafts of sunlight to a miserable, rain-drenched day. They can lift us when we need a ray of hope. They can be the inspiration for a book, a TV series or a novel. They can be so powerful, as long as we don't think they are our right. Or that if we don't fulfill our dream, it's the end of the world.

If we're lucky and we work hard, something may come of them. Or it may not. But still, carry on dreaming. We all need a measure of hope to get us through the darker times.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Camping - and a tick saved the day

We had a lovely break up near Cardinham on a quiet campsite encircled by tall trees, looking out over a tapestry of fields, woods and two elderly donkeys. A perfect little place with very friendly owners and visitors.

I was a bit apprehensive about how the dogs would get on, but luckily there were no mishaps - forward planning has a lot to answer for - although on the Thursday Twig went missing at the end of a long, hot walk, and we didn't find her for about 45 minutes. You can imagine how we felt, then the huge relief felt when a dirty little face burst through the brambles. It was worth getting stung all over, to get her back.

Then that evening, Lainy had a pop at the Fella. He was only going to give her a cuddle but he did get a bit close to her face which is a real No No in Lainy's book and we were both shaken, mostly I think because we were exhausted and worried sick over Twig, so I burst into tears and he was worried at how upset I was, and what might have happened if she bit a child.

There are potential dangers with any dog, especially a reactive one. But as Lainy always wears a muzzle in public, she can't inflict any damage, and I am super careful whenever we're out, especially round children, so I do my best to rule out as many disasters as possible. Even so, I was very shaken and we were both a bit wary of her the next day.

On our way home, the following day, I discovered a tick on Lainy's leg. The Fella said that Vaseline helped smother them, so I put some on and then had to try and get the tick out - no mean feat. Most people would have let me struggle on my own, once a dog had tried to bite them, but he suggested we got her on her back, and he calmly held her while talking to her soothingly. She looked a bit startled, but she obviously trusted us both and just stayed utterly still while I poked and prodded at the darn thing till I got it out. She then jumped off his lap, shook herself and ran round the garden a few times. Job done.

It has to be said that neither Twig nor my Moll would have behaved so well. They would have growled, bitten and been utterly impossibly terrified, so hats off to Lainy for being such a star patient. And to the Fella for being so brave. We've all learned from the experience and moved on.

It's ironic that it took a tick to save the day.