Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Another book!

Last Friday I had the unexpected - and fantastic - news that my publishers would like me to write another walks book. Which, obviously, I’m really pleased about. I’m going to give myself a bit longer this time, as it was such a stress and rush to get Poldark finished in time for March this year.

Also, what most people don’t realise is that if my next book is published at Easter 2018, I won’t receive any money for it until July 2018. So I want to give myself enough time to research the book (which involves a lot of reading and planning), do the walks, write them up, take and edit the pictures, and do the maps. As well as find some other work which obviously is vital to pay the bills in the meantime.

I’ve also got quite a lot of publicity lined up to coincide with the new series of Poldark on TV as from 4 September. I enjoy doing this, but it takes time to write a presentation, put the slides together, travel to and from the event, sort out dog care etc.

I am so pleased - and proud - to be an author, and to have a publishing company that evidently value my work. I work hard to sell my books - authors have to nowadays - and it’s really lovely to be appreciated by readers and editors. But I don’t think some people realise what hard work it is, nor how badly paid!

But I’m not complaining. Yesterday afternoon Moll and I walked at Devoran, as I was over there for a rehearsal. We didn’t go out till late as it was hot, and Moll was a bit droopy in the heat. But as we climbed up the hill, I looked out over the fields, emerald green in a sleepy heat, at the church tower rising serenely from the roof tops, and the river bed in the distance, a winding path of secrets. And I thought, aren’t I lucky to live here? Doing something I love.

Today the sun’s shining, so this afternoon we’re off to deliver some Poldark books to a customer in St Agnes, then have an hour on the beach somewhere, maybe pick some mussels. If it means working this evening, and/or this weekend, that’s fine by me.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Book launch Part 2

I didn't give the book launch justice last week, so here are a few more pictures of the event, which went very well. I've also sold 40 books myself and had to order another box of books from the publisher, which are arriving this morning (I hope).

On a less cheery note, I am still chasing payment of work I did months ago from a reluctant editor who I've had to ring every week for the last six weeks. Legal action next step. I've been very fortunate so far in having people who have generally speaking paid on time. But this one is a real drain - I hate having to make these phone calls and feel shattered afterwards. To say nothing of the fact that I really need the money.

Still, we've had a lovely run of weather recently, and my first sail for about a month on Sunday, which I loved. Yesterday I took six books to a new outlet at Penrose Estate near Helston, so hope they sell well there, and am spending a huge amount of time and energy generating publicity to tie in with the start of the new Poldark series on TV on 4th September (just in case you didn't know!).

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The name's Jane Bond

First of all, the launch party was a great success, but as I'm waiting for photos to come through, I'll write about that next week.

You know you get days where nothing goes right? I had one of those on Saturday. We’d been looking forward to seeing the Man Engine for weeks, and arranged to go to St Just to see it on Saturday. Then C had to help rig the boat he’s racing in Falmouth Week. To say we were disappointed was putting it mildly.

Anyway, I met Tony, a dear friend for coffee that morning and afterwards was heading towards Penryn Bridge when I was aware of a lopsided van. Oh no, I thought (those weren’t my exact words, but you get the drift) - and pulled over to find a completely flat front tyre. I rang C who was out of signal down at the boat, so then rang Tony.

As he kindly helped me last time I had two punctures, I had great faith in him - and sure enough he put my spare tyre on so I was able to go round to the tyre place. They were busy so it was a while before they were able to fix it, and because I’d driven on it, I needed a new one rather than being able to patch up the existing one. So by the time I got home, it was too late to go and see the Man Engine.

But I was invited to a party that afternoon, then the carnival. But first I had to drop food down to the workers on the boat, so thought I’d walk round from Flushing with Moll and swim on the way.

By the time I’d delivered food and walked back, two hours had gone by and I was hot, sweaty and starving. Plus I hadn’t had time to get anything to take to the party so thought I’d nip home first. And by the time I got home, fed the animals and myself, I was shattered, and the traffic was terrible because of the carnival. So I thought, actually I’ll enjoy a quiet evening to myself.

Then C rang to say he and Al were finishing on the boat (9pm) and would take me for a drink down at the Working Boat bar (our local) when he’d got back, had something to eat and changed. So we walked down, in the rain, in the dark, to meet Al at around 10pm. I wouldn’t have gone but figured they both needed a drink and some company…

We had a glass of wine and I went off to the toilet, locked the door, when half the lock came away in my hand, leaving the other half in the door. I was locked in. As the ladies is down a corridor with two hefty doors in between the bar, there was no way anyone could hear me shout (I tried). And no one was outside because it was raining.

Never mind, I thought. I’m small - I’ll climb out the window, drop into the car park, and get back in the front. Easy. So I climbed up on the toilet seat, pushed the window wide open and crawled out, backwards. My feet slipped down - and down - in the dark. This wasn’t quite going to plan. Eventually my feet hit something firm and I stopped slithering, and crawled and pulled myself back up the wall into the car park. This all seemed a bit unreal by this time, but I dusted myself down, went into the bar where the two men were busy talking.

Stuff them I thought, though I hadn’t been gone long. So I told the manager that the ladies’ was out of action, he produced a first aid kit and patched me up a bit. I went back and sat down and C looked at me curiously. “Are you all right?” he said.

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, or indeed what had happened (and I had only had one glass of wine). He mopped me up, while Al sang, “Sue’s stuck in the lavatory,” (lovely mates I have) and we began to laugh. Then we went outside to see where I’d climbed out. “You could have died,” said C in horror.

The shock didn’t hit me till the following afternoon, when I felt shaky, terribly dizzy and exhausted. That lasted for a couple of days, but I’m pleased to report that I am now feeling much better.

Just as well as we’re having our usual Red Arrows party tonight. But if anyone wants a Jane Bond - give me a ring…. I could do with some more work...

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Book launch

This was actually from the trial run we had in St Agnes a month ago, while I'm waiting for Andy's pictures to come back from last night.

It's nerve racking, having a book launch. Like any party, you want it to go well, but you also want to sell books - obviously. Celia's paintings were also on sale - lovely ones of each of the walks in my book, so we arrived at A Curious Hall in Falmouth yesterday afternoon to set up. It was locked. I knocked on the door. Nothing. We sat in the van, in the pouring rain then agreed with Celia that we would go and see if Blue (the owner of the hall) was at home, and sped off across Falmouth. By the time we'd got there (he wasn't in), we had not only devised several other places as Plan B to have the launch party, but Celia rang to say that he was at the hall - the relief! And we sped back to set up.

It takes a while, setting up books but luckily I had dear Mel and Joe to help as well as Mr B, and Celia's husband helped her - she had 12 paintings to put on easels and prints to show as well so it took her a lot longer, but eventually it was all done, and we set off for a coffee and sandwich while Celia and Steve went off for fish and chips.

We arrived back at 6pm and there's that tense half hour while we waited to see who would turn up. Luckily lots of people did, enjoyed my reading from the book, and I sold a healthy number of books which was very cheering. The only sad thing was that my two singing friends, John and Heather, couldn't come as they were both ill, which meant we couldn't sing, and another friend was stricken with lurgy so she couldn't come either.

That apart, it was a good evening, though I realised this morning that I didn't have a chance to talk to any of my friends, other than a snatched word. But it was worth it to sell those books!

We headed off for a bite to eat later and got home in good time - and sober - which was a bonus. I woke this morning full of a glowing optimism (which, being realistic, may not last but is pleasant while it does). Financial problems may not be solved in any way, but at least there are a few possibilities on the horizon. It's called diversifying, I believe.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Man Engine and book launch

Well here is the Man Engine, a wonderful piece of creative engineering that is touring Cornwall in celebration of Cornwall's mining heritage. I saw it on the news the other day - this has been kept secret in its creation - and was blown away by it. How incredibly clever and brilliant, using parts of machinery from South Crofty and other mines. Definitely have to go and see this! To see for yourself, go on the BBC Spotlight site and view it on Monday evening.

Tonight I am going on a singing boat trip over to St Mawes organised by another of Claire's choirs. We're all taking supper to share, then when we get to St Mawes we will sing on the quay (weather permitting) or inside the pub if it's chucking it down. Then we will sing on the way back! And my darling Moll - who is looking very fine in her new hair cut - is coming with us. Doubtless she will try and eat everything, but there you go.

Lastly, next Tuesday is my book launch and exhibition of Celia Creeper's paintings at A Curious Hall, from 6-8pm. Last year was great fun, and we're hoping this year will be too and sell lots of books. And we will sing!! I went to a very interesting reading/music book launch last weekend which has given me ideas for some events I might do with another writer friend.

And lastly thanks to my friend Glynis who has been helping me with some pitches. Thanks Glynis - you've been brilliant.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


These swans appeared as we got home from a sail a few weeks ago to say hello and, like Moll, ask for food.

Last Thursday we were setting out for a lovely sail - it was a fabulous afternoon and I am learning more and more every time we go out. Only thing was, it took us longer to get back than wed anticipated and I got a bit cold and we ran out of food and you do not want to be around me when my blood sugar drops too low. So - next time we will take a picnic and even more clothes. But our boat is lovely and Moll is getting used to her lifejacket - I think, deep down, she knows she looks rather good in pink. This was when she wasn't wearing it, and got a bit cold so we wrapped her in the sail cover.

The heatwave hit us on Saturday so I had my first swim, then on Sunday Mr B had to sweat back to the Midlands in horrendous temperatures. I was being interviewed by Radio Cornwall yesterday afternoon, which went well, though I didn't like to leave Moll in the van as it was so hot, so she came with me and had to wait in the office outside the studios while I was on air. The interview was interrupted by a scratching at the glass door: Moll was indignant at being left out of the gig and wanted to know what I was doing.

Mr B listened online and rang me straight after, and then later that evening. "What was the feedback like?" he said, all excited. "Er - there wasn't any," I replied. "You are it. Oh, except for a friend who texted to say she'd missed it."

Admittedly it was shorter than last time I was on, but any publicity is good, and I found out yesterday that the second Poldark series starts on 4th September. So we'd better start getting some more Poldark publicity going soon! Any ideas most welcome....

Meanwhile, I am in need of a bit of cheer so we are off to see the film of Absolutely Fabulous tomorrow evening. Nothing like a bit of escapism....

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Writerly events

This is actually the view from where we rehearse, on thursday mornings, as the Suitcase Singers, which has absolutely nothing to do with this post but is one of the many reasons why singing with the choir is so uplifting..

Apologies for the silence, but my life has been full of writerly events, and little time for work (i.e. earning money). At the beginning of this month we had a sort of trial launch for my Poldark book and Celia's paintings which was quieter than we would have liked, but some dear and true friends came along to buy books and afterwards we went, with another friend, to Chapel Porth and then walked along the cliffs, so made the most of the day.

Last week the Penzance Literary Festival was on, so on Thursday night I sang, as part of Jig the Quavers (our smaller group) at Telltales at the Admiral Benbow. A lovely venue and a great evening - and congratulations to Heather for brilliant compering of the event!

The following day I gave a talk in Penzance with Rachel Lambert (forager and writer of two books) and Lisa Woollett, whose two books about the sea are truly awe inspiring. My friend Fi Read acted as interviewer, and it was a privilege to be part of this festival in such lovely settings. I have to say, I have been feeling less than inspired about life over the last few months, so it gave me a real lift to arrive at the Lit Fest with my box of books, be given a badge as Contributor, and to sit on a stage and be interviewed as a proper author. Years ago I used to go to these festivals and look at Proper Writers and wish to be one of them.

Once you are, of course, you realise that it's a very different ball game. You need another job to finance writing books, but I hadn't realised that at the time. And I did feel proud to be an author, and proud of my books. Which was a much needed boost.

Mr B took me down to the pub that evening for a lovely end to the day and then I collapsed in a heap the following day, and on Sunday we did a car boot.

Totting up my takings, I realised I'd made £15 in book sales at the Lit Fest, and £80 at the car boot. "Does this tell you something, do you think?" said Mr gently.

This week has so far been taken up with going backwards and forwards to the garage in Penryn more times than I care to think about - my van failed its MOT yesterday and, as I write, it is being welded in time (I sincerely hope) for me to attend the Holyer An Gof Publishers' Awards at Waterston's in Truro tonight. My second book, Walks in the Footsteps of Cornish Writers, has been nominated by my publishers. Looking at the list of other authors, I haven't got a hope in hell of winning, but it will be interesting to go along and see who else is there.

And the life will get back to normal. Back to pitching ideas (thank you Glynis for your brilliant help so far, I'm not trying to avoid work, promise!) and we hope to get in a sail before the end of the week.

Next week I am going to see the movie of Ab Fab. Good escapist therapy I think.....