Remembering those who we lost…

Png photo of Billy

I wrote this poem a few years ago about my Uncle Billy, whom I never met. My mother’s only brother, William Beary.  

He was only nineteen, a rear gunner with the RAF, when he was shot down.

So many people made sacrifices for us.

#Lest we forget.

Watery red ladies

I sit beneath the shelter

Where the tossing, hissing, spitting spray

Is kept at bay.

I wait with rug across my knees,

Pencil poised to tie her down with words.

Nurse wants to wheel me to the warmth,

The fuddled, stale, urine warmth.

“You’ll catch your death out here,” she says.

I smile and slowly net my memories.

I watch you unpin your hair,

Unfurling like rolls of corn- gold silk,

And peel off your scarlet chemise,

Toss it to the breeze

And step into the waves.

Words waft wistfully as you waltz in the weed

That clings to bare, salt thighs.

You perform to the sun, the crimson, orange sinking

Sun that slips between the now and then.

Tell me what you sing so sad.

Watery red lady,

You flew upon the back of your blue eagle.

He spread his wings and scooped you high

From dew-grass where Philadelphus

Sprinkled perfumed petalled confetti promises.

He lies below a bed of barley in a Slavian valley

Beneath toad-flax and corncockle.

For his King but not for you.

How soon are the young become old

And the watery red ladies dance no more,

Save in the shadows at the sea’s edge,

Tell me what I sing so sad.

Angela Petch ©

My uncle had a girlfriend. I imagined her as an old lady in a home, catching memories of the past.

 

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Juxtapose… Just suppose…

 

We’re still in lockdown.

I’m missing family and friends so much, but I’m enjoying the slower pace of life:  the birdsong, unpolluted skies, walks along the sea, baking experiments and the chance to savour the small things.

As I write this, we should be in France, on our way to our six-month stay in Tuscany. Bookings have been cancelled for our holiday business, plans have been changed and we are settling instead into a summer in Sussex. Life could be far worse and I fully realise that we are very fortunate. We are “doing our thing” by obeying lockdown rules, but it feels lopsided that so many key-workers are literally putting their lives on the line for us. Nevertheless, we will enjoy the little things if we can’t enjoy the big things.

Roses, planted by a previous owner of our house bloom each summer on the walls, but we haven’t had a chance to enjoy them before.

my rose with raindrops

They are old-fashioned, highly scented, their intricate folds are velvet to the touch and seem to hide secrets within.

Most of my days in lockdown are spent in writing. I’m about three quarters of the way through the first draft of my next novel and there’s an analogy to be made with the roses and my manuscript. At the moment, I’m telling myself the story. It’s folded in on itself, so how do I get inside the folds of the rose, open the petals in a way that won’t reveal the mysteries too soon to the reader?

I have in my head that I must put the reader first. I want the reader to infer, rather than me tell them everything. I need to avoid clichés, personalise my metaphors, sort out the logic and understand the conflicts of my characters in such a way that the end result seems effortless…

Margaret Atwood describes writing as “wrestling a greased pig in the dark”.

Ashley Stokes in The Creative Writing Coursebook tells me that “plotting is the underside of the stone that no one sees.”2018_05_Toskana_00417 - Kopie

(missing the Mulino and her stones, but we’ll get there sometime in the future)

 

James Friel, in the same text book, writes   that “the first draft of a novel is allowed to fail.”

And Stendhal said, “Find out what you most want to say and then try very hard not to say it.”

Carry a notebook at all times topin your ideas before they fly away

I see each of these points like the individual petals of a rose. When it opens up, it will smell divine and look beautiful. (Hopefully – and if that sounds pretentious – so be it. We have to aim high.).  During lockdown I have a lot to do!

And why have I given this blog its title, Juxtapose, Just Suppose? Because I am at that stage in my first draft when anything can be possible in my story. I’m constantly asking myself “What If?” and throwing in curve balls.  Julie Cohen in her fascinating talk on writing, on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, answered my query about “saggy middles” in novels, suggesting I think about mid-point reversal. A point in the middle of the novel when, suddenly, everything changes: the goals of a main character shift and change and what he/she felt is no longer the way they now feel. Something flips everything and there is a major protagonist shift. Interesting… She is also responsible for all the coloured post-it notes  littered across my notice-board… Check her out: she’s an excellent creative writing tutor.

After all, if somebody had said to me that this time this year we would be going through a pandemic, with all the restrictions and tragedies that are happening in its wake, then I would have responded, “Don’t be so daft.”

So, although truth is supposed to be stranger than fiction, then I’m thinking to myself, fiction can be stranger than truth.

Maybe lockdown is giving me too much time to think.

Onwards. And keep safe, everybody.

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(seen on one of my lockdown walks last week)

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Getting by…

IMG_2484I’ve been reading so many positive posts about this weird time and I’ve taken something from all of them.

We’ll get through this, but I wonder if you’re feeling like I am today. Truths are niggling at me and I need to share so that you can shake me out of my blues.

“Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune,

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

Be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,

No less than the trees and the stars:

You have a right to be here.”

Extracted from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945)

 

This weekend we should be entertaining our three Italian friends who were supposed to visit. There were all kinds of plans afoot to share glimpses of the Sussex countryside, take them on visits, introduce them to fish and chips and afternoon tea. We’d also be preparing to return to our home in Italy for the rest of the summer. I’m making do with photos and Facetime instead.

The rug has been pulled out from under us, hasn’t it?  It’s a time of uncertainty and questioning. The open door and freedom to travel has been replaced with time to travel within ourselves and to examine our hearts.

sea birds

 

Being retired, our daily life is not really radically different. We are lucky to own our own home, have food on the table, a garden to sit in and countryside to walk in each day.  Our routine is more or less the same although I ache to cuddle my children and grandchildren.

But I can’t stop thinking of the broken and lonely at this time. And the front-line workers. And the way we have been abusing our planet.  It is as if our life is being scoured with a Brillo pad, scratching away at all the tarnished bits and revealing what really lies underneath. We lived in Tanzania for three years. I can’t imagine how they will cope with their medical system, how people living in slum conditions can possibly manage social distancing. How are our own homeless faring and victims of abuse confined indoors?poverty-216527_1280

Let’s share some thoughts on how to go forward and prop each other up with hopeful thoughts, friends. There are glimmers of positive vibes: kindness is blossoming and neighbours are helping each other. The radio Deejays are trying their best to lighten our days, there are amazing people fundraising – including our valiant veteran, Captain Tom Moore, who walked 100 lengths of his garden and raised £23,000,000. Our NHS front-line workers are truly incredible.

I am researching which charities to support and ways of helping others. Your suggestions would be so welcome. We all need help.

In the meantime, I wish you all peace in your hearts.

“Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly…”

From Dreams by Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

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Raindrops and roses…

There’s a lot being written about this strange time. It feels like an episode of science fiction, but we all know it’s reality. I’m trying to concentrate on the positive.
It’s only been one week of semi-lockdown for us here in England and here are a few ideas that have helped me. It would be great if you could share your ideas too in the comment boxes.
• I only listen to the news bulletin once a day and listen to music or birdsong –  which is so much more obvious now that traffic is restricted.
• I’ve stuck to a “timetable”, finding a regular slot to write. I am under contract, so I have deadlines to keep. This week, three of us met “virtually” to set aside one hour to write. We used the “pomodoro” method: using a timer to write for one hour and it was comforting to know we were sharing this motivation. Be kind. Have fun.Read Colum McCann's _Letters to a Young Writer_
• I usually play tennis at least three times a week and I’m conscious that I’m spending more hours on my laptop.laptop-2557571_1280 My daughter is a chartered physiotherapist and Pilates instructor and she has set up her  on-line Pilates classes Her exercises are designed for all ages and abilities. She is offering the classes FREE to anyone who works for the NHS. Contact here here!

• We can’t get to Italy for our six-month stay at the moment. We have a large vegetable garden over there, so yesterday I cleared a flower bed in the front garden of our cottage in Sussex to make way for tomatoes and lettuce. The seeds of my favourite flower, Cosmos, will be planted between and they’re beginning to sprout on my bedroom window sill, like small seeds of hope.IMG_3851

On our daily walk last week we picked wild nettles and made dumplings to go with stew. I’d never tried this recipe before. Try one new thing each week.IMG_3828
• Last night about twenty members of our family held a quiz via Zoom. We had to hand paper, pencil and our favourite tipples. It was great to see each other and we switched off for a couple of hours from the C-word. Maurice and I are also trying to help out with a little bit of home-schooling of our young grandchildren via Skype. Topics so far include a little science quiz. I’m compiling a book with them. We plan to come up with a poem each, a puzzle, factoids, jokes and a story and then self-publish as a memento of their strange time away from school. The idea was inspired by my lovely friend Rosemary Noble who, with lots of input from her own young granddaughter, has written a story set in world war 2. A snip at 99 pence and a useful and fun home-schooling resource. Ella Midnight and the Mystery of the Missing Nose
• I have started to phone up older relatives to whom I usually only send a Christmas card. Old fashioned letters are a good idea too (while the post office continues to allow).
• We’re keeping an eye on our ninety-six-year-old neighbour who is bedridden and we’re suddenly aware that there is tremendous community spirit in our little village. Our vicar broadcast the Sunday service this morning from his living room;  our new village store, Rassasy Farmshop,  called for volunteers to deliver food, befriend the lonely via phone calls, walk dogs… let’s hope that this spirit continues once this is all over. Because it WILL BE OVER – cling on to that thought. 81835232_113057210225465_5753701858040348672_o
• Find a place of peace in your house or garden (if you can). Sit and watch the clouds in the sky pass by. Think of the clouds as worries in the distance. As they pass across the sky, think to yourself “these too will pass”.

It goes without saying that we owe the angels in our health service our deepest thanks and respect. I popped a thank you note through the surgery door last week. The politicians need to recognise their ‘amazingness’ not just now, but also when this crisis is over. An increase in wages for nurses and ancillary staff would be a good start.
Tonight, I shall light my Sunday candle in my window, like I did last Sunday, and pray for hope. tree-838666_1280

Stay safe, everyone and God bless. xxx

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Talk the talk…

On Tuesday night I drove up the A24 to Crawley. I’ve only been to Gatwick airport in that area, so it was great to discover Ifield, a little conservation village in the midst of this sprawl of new town and the tiny barn where I was bound.

I’d been invited to take part in the Crawley Wordfest 2020, a festival dedicated to words. I was part of a panel of three authors, interviewed by Sally,  journalist and publisher. My thanks to ChindiAuthors, a very supportive, Sussex-based indie author group that I used to belong to until recently, who put my name forward.
We were all “travelling writers” and I joined in with talented Alice Allan who has written a moving novel based on her midwifery experiences in Ethiopia and intrepid Ben Aitken who travelled to Poland on a quest to find out more! (Read his intriguing book to find out more). I’ve dipped into Alice’s book and am already hooked. And Ben’s awaits me – that is if my husband doesn’t nick it first.

With the Ifield authors WordFest Crawley

It was my first experience at being interviewed live like this as an author (It’s never too late!) and none of us knew the questions beforehand. We were asked to introduce ourselves. I don’t like talking about myself and I found that hard. My husband was in the audience (lovely chauffeur and all-round supporter) and gave me a kindly post-mortem afterwards, pointing out the things I’d left out.
But I was more in the swing when it came to talking about my books.
• What inspired me?
• Would I consider writing about anything else other than Italy?
• Why did I write a blog? And would it be an idea to write a book about living in Italy,  with recipes and traditions?
• Did I consider myself a travel writer?
Being able to chat more easily about writing, rather than myself, made me think that writers probably hide themselves within their writing. What do you think?
It was so interesting listening to Ben and Alice, both young and at the start of what I’m sure will be brilliant writing careers. I was really taken by their moving and amusing travel stories and I wish them both all the best.
Sales weren’t huge for any of us, but I don’t think that was the main purpose of the evening. It was an opportunity to introduce ourselves to readers. I am with a digital publisher (Bookouture) and so my books do not appear in shops. When a lady in the audience spoke to me at question time, I was delighted when she told me she was actually reading The Tuscan Secret   I receive messages on social media about my books, but to meet a reader face-to-face was a special moment.

Thank you so much to Crawley WordFest, run by a dedicated and small group of volunteers. Caroline told me that she was spurred to put on a festival when somebody said there could never be one in Crawley. But that has been proved wrong. Congratulations to the team for your defiance.
Events run until March 31st, so there is still plenty of time to go along and support them.  Events range from Open Mic night, a Crime panel (I spied Dorothy Koomson from #RNAon here), a talk by Phil Hewitt  – our very own Sussex Arts editor, a Wordfest quiz night, writing sessions and much, much more.

Do try and go!

The programme is available here

And, before I go, my new book is only 99 pence at the moment: The Tuscan Girl 

Somebody asked me if my next book would have the title, “The Tuscan Toddler”. The answer is “no” 😉

 

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Walking for inspiration…

Delighted to be featured on my favourite blogger’s site today. I chatted to her about how my walks in the Tuscan countryside give me ideas.

Here is Jessie Cahalin’s article

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#BlogTour: The Tuscan Girl by Angela Perch @Angela_Petch @bookouture @sarahhardy681 #TheTuscanPetch #AngelaPetch #hisfic #Bookouture #5Star

Delighted with this review of my new book – The Tuscan Girl – published yesterday by Bookouture. Another critical review today blasted the title to smithereens, citing that using the word “girl” instead of “woman” in the title, belittled women. Thoughts, please.

Over The Rainbow Book Blog

Book Synopsis:

She ran away through the pine trees when the soldiers came. Staggering into the hiding place, she felt a fluttering in her belly, like a butterfly grazing its wings, and knew instantly she had something to fight for.

Present day:When her fiancé is tragically killed in an accident,twenty-six-year-old Albais convinced she’s to blame. Heavy with grief and guilt, she flees to her childhood home – the tiny village ofRofelle, nestled in a remote Tuscan valley. Out hiking one day to fill the long, lonely hours, she finds a mahogany box filled with silverware, hidden near the vine-covered ruins of an isolated house left abandoned after World War II. Could finding the rightful owner ease Alba’s heartache, and somehow make amends for her own wrongs?

In search of answers, Alba meetsMassimo,an elderly man who wants to spend his final years pruning his…

View original post 980 more words

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Bringing sunshine to storms…

What weather we’ve seen in England recently. I feel so sorry for those affected by floods. How miserable.

I’ve been sheltering indoors, listening to the wind sweeping in from the sea, buffeting our house. But I’ve been getting into my next Italian novel, researching about the brave women resistance fighters of Italy and trying not to weigh down my new story with great wodges of information.

I’m also preparing for February 25th –  publication day for my second novel with Bookouture. The Tuscan Girl

The Tuscan Girl cover

On March 10th, my first “baby, The Tuscan Secret ,will be published in HUNGARY 🙂 . The cover is quite different from the English language version: rather whimsical, I think.  But, I like it and it is all very exciting to me. I wish I had some Hungarian friends. Maybe my book will find me some. Fingers crossed!

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Last week started well, with a dose of metaphorical sunshine. I was nominated by the lovely blogger, Jessie Cahalin for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Wow! How great to receive this award! I always feel as if I am blundering about on my blog, but if I have brought sunshine to even one person, then I am smiling.

Sunshine-Blogger-AwardNominee

As well as being a fantastically supportive blogger, Jessie is also an author  and her first book has the intriguing title of You can’t go it alone

Jessie set me 11 questions and here are my answers.

  1. Which three photographs would you present to capture your life?

It was hard to pick only three. I should really like to include photos of my five grandchildren but, sadly, I don’t think it is safe to post images of little children on the web 😦

Below are photos of me in Italy, where I live for six months of each year. I have more time to write and research in Tuscany. The beautiful countryside in the Apennines is inspiring and I’m blessed with a tolerant, kind, half-Italian husband who also loves walking and doesn’t mind when I bounce ideas off him for my stories.

2. I believe laughter is one of the best tonics in life. When was the last time you could not stop laughing?
Gosh, good question! I always laugh when I’m with my grandchildren. But, rolling around on the floor, tears running down my face, my tummy muscles hurting… I can’t actually remember the last time. This needs remedying…
3. Explain the last act of kindness you showed to a friend or stranger.
I buy a hot drink when I see a homeless person and talk to them. I was touched that our oldest grandson (7 years old) shared his pocket money with a young lad yesterday when he was in town with his Daddy.
4. Do you prefer the winter sun or the summer sun?
Although we live in Tuscany for six months, I far prefer a crisp winter day for a long walk, rather than a sweaty slog. It snows most winters in the Apennines and the scenery is breath-taking.
5. Describe your perfect Saturday evening.
It depends on how lazy or tired I feel. Could be by the log burner with my husband, with a glass of wine, enjoying a simple meal or cooking for half a dozen good friends and sharing more wine and conversation.
6. What sorts of characters do you prefer to meet in novels?
Unusual characters with unexpectedly big hearts. I’ve recently read Lisa Jewell’s “I found You” and I loved Alice and her dysfunctional family. She leapt off the page for me.

7. Give one sentence of advice to yourself when you were sixteen.
You are who you are and it doesn’t matter that you’re so tall and have big feet because it’s what’s inside your head and heart that counts.
8. Is there a friend from the past you would love to get in touch with and why?
My schoolfriend, Monica, whom I’d recently lost touch with. I went to her funeral two weeks ago and there was still so much I wanted to share with her.
9. What is your food heaven and food hell?
Food heaven would be home-made pasta with sauce made from fresh, homegrown basil and tomatoes from our Tuscan “orto”.
Food hell would be school gristly suet pudding that I got caught stuffing down the floorboards by a mean nun. She made me eat it…
10. Share your favourite recipe
I’ll share it in Italian, so you’re right in the atmosphere and learn some words!
It’s on You-tube, so I hope this link works. aubergine parmigiana

11. If you could travel back in time where would you visit and who would you take with you?
I’m intrigued by the Edwardian era but I would have to go above my station and visit above stairs in a grand house for a country weekend. I’d take my husband with me, but we would be in our twenties and have more energy for all the fun, food and games. (In reality I’d most likely have been a skivvy below stairs, but a girl can dream). I’d also have small feet and a waspish waist and look beautiful in the Edwardian fashions. (I think I’m being influenced by the scenes from Downton Abbey. 😉

 

That was a bit of fun. Thank you, Jessie And now, I get to nominate 11 more friends to continue this Sunshine Blogger Award (only if they want to... I know we are all very busy).

The Sunshine Blogger Award empowers bloggers to celebrate other bloggers who are creative and bring positivity to the blogging community. So, I nominate:

Angela Barton

Helen Christmas

Joanie Chevalier

Rosemary Noble

Carol Thomas

Sue Sharp

Kathryn Bax

Pamela Allegretto-Franz

Audrey Davis

Jane Cable

Kate Baker

There are a few rules to follow:

Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog.

Answer the 11 questions that I set below.

List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award on your own blog post.

Nominate 11 new bloggers and their blogs and ask your nominees 11 NEW QUESTIONS.

Here are my questions to you – with thanks to Mixtus Media

  1. When you were little, what did you dream about becoming when you grew up?
  2. What is something you like to do the old fashioned way?
  3. What is one of your favourite smells?
  4. If you could call anyone in the world and have a one-hour conversation, who would you call?
  5. What job would you be terrible at?
  6. If you had a million pounds/dollars, what would you do with them to help the most people?
  7. For one day, you can do whatever you want. What would you do?
  8. Give me three words to describe yourself.
  9. What is your favourite food treat?
  10.  What is your favourite outfit?
  11.  You have one last wish… go for it!
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Don’t put off until tomorrow …

It’s been a while since I blogged, so hello again.
It’s been quite a week.
Sadly, it started with the funeral of a dear schoolfriend. It was such a shock and as I have moved house (and country) so often, we’d lost touch in the last five years. One of the photos on the service sheet smiled back at me: an image of her posing on a Tuscan mountainside when, as giddy twenty-year-olds she had come to stay  with me for a while during my third year at university in Florence. Another showed us shivering in our school sports kit on a muddy pitch somewhere and there was one of her prancing about the stage in our VIth Form panto as the fairy godmother… I was cross with myself for not keeping in touch. She was such fun and too young to go and it was a sobering reminder that nothing lasts forever.

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Lovely Monica spreading fairy godmother gold dust

So, the next day I set off for a long-awaited writing weekend, run by Alison May, (Chairwoman of the fab RNA) in a comfortable Midlands Hotel. I was determined to make the most of it after the sadness of the previous day. I knew little about this part of England but, we were so busy with writing matters, it wouldn’t have mattered where we were.
I’m so glad I went. It was great not to have to lift a hand to prepare any meals and to luxuriate in an enormous bed all to myself where I was the only one snoring, but the advice shared by Alison was a gift. I hope to go next year too.

There should be a new term for us writers who are somewhere between pantser and plotter. Any suggestions?

The information we discussed in the group about structuring our novels was just what I needed. You will have to attend one of Alison’s excellent courses and for details of her “tool kit”, as she described it, but I came away regenerated, enthused and greatly encouraged. And it was very timely too. I signed a new contract for two more books with Bookouture (yay!)  and am at the beginning stages of my new novel. 😦  At the moment I feel as though I am telling, telling, telling and the words are turning into a great lump of information. Alison chatted to me during my one-to-one and how reassuring it was to learn that I’m not the only one who writes her first draft this way. Hemingway famously said, “The first draft of anything is …. a pile of poo” (or words to that effect). At the moment, my story is being spewed over paper like a muck spreader in a muddy, muddly field but … ommmmm! All will be well in the end, Alison said, because, “editing is fun”, she told us. Oh, really? I muttered to myself. Especially with the aid of post-its (and drawing pins so the precious little coloured papers don’t blow off your wall/board/door when the window opens and scatters your ordered structure plan all over the place).

There were so many useful tips shared. I can’t wait to arrive at the third stage when I’ll read my book backwards… yes, folks! Who would have thought of it as a genius proofreading tool?
Even the dreaded synopsis became a fun item. Yes! Believe me! And the elevator pitch. I might have to practise that in the M and S lift and hope a publisher stands next to me and the lift breaks down and I can spout out my brilliant three-liner and be published by one of the big five. Actually, what am I saying? I LOVE Bookouture and am more than happy to be part of this publishing family.
During the last session, fortified with the last of Alison’s chocolates, we shared the goals we had set for ourselves for the following week, month and year.
Now I have to make sure I stick to what I said.

There are a couple more of these Novel courses planned and spaces available: one in summer and the third in autumn. Alison is usually joined by Janet Gover and the links are for you to find out more details. I highly recommend.

Alison May     Find out about further courses

 

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Granny goes up to London…

Once upon a time, I was a commuter and worked in London for The Times, but that was almost a lifetime ago and it felt like a different world when I visited the capital city again.
Yesterday morning, excited, boots polished and feeling very “grown-up”, I took the train from our seaside town up to Victoria station to visit my young and lovely editor at Bookouture in Holborn. IMG_3330

It was a delightful day, starting with meeting the enterprising couple who had set up their coffee van outside Goring-by-Sea station. Good luck to Blue Brew  – they’re available to hire for events as well.

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It continued with the cheery lady selling railway tickets and dispensing chocolates to travellers. I approved of her charity book stall in the cosy waiting room. Books help make the world go round.

This shameless hussy of an author dished out cards with author details twice before arriving at Victoria: one to a passenger who was interested in buying Mavis and Dot as she is suffering from cancer herself (all proceeds for sales go to Cancer Research and yesterday we donated £556 from sales and more will come from gift aid. Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy.) The other card went to a couple sitting opposite me whilst I was working on notes for my next Tuscan novel. Small world: they saw the word “Tuscany” and told me they were flying that afternoon to stay with their daughter who lives in Bagni di Lucca. Interested in my books, I told them about another author, Katy Johnson, and her Tuscan stories. Books link people.

I have a sore foot at the moment and once I was spewed out of the train and into the throng on the platform, I felt bewildered as I limped along. This country girl is not used to bustle and everybody is in a hurry in London. But I couldn’t hurry. And nobody seemed to smile. I decided to smile at people, but I think they thought I was a weirdo. The only smile I received was from a girl with eyebrows (you know what I mean – this new fashion for painted brows) – but I think hers was just a fixed, surprised expression. On one side of High Holborn was a beautiful flower stall, and on the other, a soggy tent in the rain where a homeless person slept as everybody rushed by. To be fair, the helper at the underground had smiled at me. Who knew that you could flash your credit card on the yellow thingy at the turnstile, and that it was cheaper than buying a ticket? I think his smile was compassionate.

Meeting Ellen in the smart restaurant was fun. We had met face to face at the busy RNA Conference last July, but we normally communicate via email, phone and in tracking comments (for editing purposes), so it was good to take time and talk. A short walk afterwards to the Bookouture offices in their swanky new premises in Bloomsbury Way (highly suitable address for a publisher) and I met other members of the Bookouture team, as well as the CEO Oliver Rhodes – all hard at work. They call themselves a family and it really feels that way to me. I feel cared for, encouraged and inspired as they guide me through the editing processes towards publication and I feel so grateful to be on their books.

Their taking care of all the bits that I get myself in a twist about (formatting, cover design and marketing) means that I can concentrate on writing. My new cover for the next new book will be ready soon, and I can’t wait to see it.
Tired, but happy, Granny hobbled back to the underground and was lucky to find a seat on the sardine-packed train. Behind me was an Italian, nattering into his phone on a business call and, when he had finished, I told him I could tell from his accent that he was Florentine. It’s very distinctive; they swallow their “c”.  Italy is never far away from me.
I just wish I had accepted one of the Christmas cakes sent by one of the authors, that Ellen had offered me. I could have munched on it while I edited on the train, but Granny was trying not to be greedy.

IMG_3331Happy Christmas, everybody! Now, back to the edits.

 

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