Talk about it…

On the eve of my Author Week with CHINDIAuthors, of which I am immensely proud to be a member, I am talking to Joanna Mallory about her recent setback. Be in her company for a few seconds and you quickly realise she is a fighter. I make no excuses for putting her first in my series of interviews. My latest book, MAVIS AND DOT, was written in memory of my best friend, who didn’t realise how ill she was and who shouldered on, ignoring symptoms, putting up with warning signs. I feel guilty too. She told me her tummy was bloated and she had persistent back ache; she didn’t feel right. To many women this is a normal part of every month and so neither of us worried. But she was suffering from ovarian cancer and it was too late by the time the doctors diagnosed it.
We have to talk and share our problems. Don’t keep them bottled up.

As Dot says to Mavis, in Chapter Nine of MAVIS AND DOT, after revealing a secret that has tormented her since she was a teenager and which shaped the rest of her life and caused much misery:
“ ‘Do you know, I feel a lot better now. Telling you seems to have helped – like lancing a boil.’
‘A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say. Now let me put the kettle on and make some fresh toast – your eggs have gone cold.’
‘Tea again,’ laughed Dot, ‘we’ll start to look like teapots.’”
But enough of Mavis and Dot. It’s time to meet lovely Joanna, a fellow Chindean.

 

thumbnail_IMG_2640 - Jo Mallory photo

 

 

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, to talk about an issue that is so close to both our hearts.

Just to give a little background; I was whipped into hospital just before Christmas, after experiencing sudden and unexpected abdominal pain.
They found a mass on my ovary, and couldn’t rule out ovarian cancer… Which is a funny way to word it, I know. But I have to say it like this, as it helps me to process what I’m dealing with. And at this stage, if you are going through something like this, my biggest advice tip is; if you have to trick your brain – Go for It. Whatever little methods you use so that you can keep moving forward is key.
And if someone you love is going through something like this, don’t correct them if they brush it off, or make light of their situation. It may be how they’re coping.

After spending a couple of days in the hospital with my iPad and lots of time, you can imagine how my Google search history looked. It was at this point that I knew I wanted to talk about what I was going through, and how it made me feel – for no other reason than to hopefully help women just like me.
You see, there was very little out-there about living each day, or what happens next, or even just sharing stories. Which is why I took to YouTube. It’s hard and scary to share, there are so many difficult things to talk about. But sitting in the hospital, I so wanted to read and see the success stories, to hear the voices of women who’d been through things like this and come out fighting.
And that’s why I’m here today  to wave the flag for my little channel and say ‘come on over, we’re all in this together. Let’s raise awareness and take good care of our uteruses.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you soldiered on (in typical woman-mode)? When did you seek medical help?

This is a tough one to answer – because the truth is; I was foolish. I did the ‘Mum thing’ and kept going. When the pain hit I was sat in a chilly Sand School waiting for my daughter to finish her riding lesson. And it was awful, I struggled back to the car, and I remember being so grateful that the place was deserted as everyone was in lesson.
Pretty daft really.
My legs and soon my whole body was shaking. As I got to my car I was sick – this is one of the oddest things I’ve struggled to say when I’ve told people. I don’t know why, but it just felt like an awful thing to admit to.
I now know the pain was caused by my ovary moving and the tube twisting; being sick is a reaction to the pain and the movement.
I sat in the car for nearly forty minutes, waiting for the pain to subside. But it didn’t. I thought it was food poisoning, all I could think about was getting home.
My brain, I suppose had gone into protection mode; two of my teenage children were home, my youngest daughter was with me, and my husband was at work. I just had to get home, and everything would work out. It was just some nasty upset stomach that would pass…
I got home, took some paracetamol and laid down, hoping that would be it. I managed to sleep, and by evening I felt frail but okay-ish.
(Now I know the ovary had rolled half way back, releasing some of the pressure on the tube.)
It’s the most surreal thing, now I look back on it; I would have route-marched any of mine straight to the hospital. But I just kept insisting I was fine. After all, there was nothing wrong with me. I’m fit and healthy – a few extra pounds I’d like to be rid of, sure. But otherwise, I’m okay.
And I think this is a problem for so many of us; we push on. Early diagnosis for any condition is paramount. Don’t wait.
I’d suffered with heavy periods for years, I take (prescribed) iron because of it. I missed my last smear-test because I just felt too icky about having it done to go…
What a wally I was.

It was Sunday night, thirty-six hours later, that I lay in bed and everyone was asleep that I woke up. I was just all over uncomfortable, and the pain in my abdomen had dropped to the right-hand side, and I remember drowsily thinking ‘you’re an idiot, this could be an appendicitis, what are you playing at?’

Monday morning, I dropped the children to the station, drove straight to my doctors and told the receptionist my suspicion. My doctor saw me within twenty minutes and had referred me straight to the surgical assessment unit at the hospital. And then the roller coaster really got started.

My goodness, Jo. What an ordeal. Now it’s out in the open, how has everybody reacted? Friends? Family?
It’s been a strange time, impossible to imagine until you’re living it. My parents-in-law and my step-mum are worried – very worried. But my step-mum had something very similar that resulted in a full hysterectomy at twenty-five, so I focus on that.
My friends are mostly shocked, and I think this is because we’re all so busy rushing around, juggling children, work and life, that all of sudden life feels very grown-up. The biggest factor that stands out to me is that it was unexpected, this is the hardest thing my friends and family struggle to cope with. They get a strangely confused look on their faces – and I’m right there with them. There are times when I can almost forget. When it doesn’t seem real.
Moving forward I’m doing okay, uncomfortable by okay – we’re controlling the pain so the results of MRI had chance to get lots of eyes and medical opinions. And now I have surgery on the 13th of February, for a full hysterectomy. It’s most likely to be full open surgery as the mass is quite big, and they don’t want to risk perforation. The rest of my blood levels are normal and clear, and they are positive that the risk of ovarian cancer is low. Which is what I’m staying centered on. Once the surgery is done my aim is to get well, and deal with the menopause as it decides to come at me. I nervous about the healing, as I’m not good at sitting still and waiting  but I have my writing, so I can escape to the outside world. And I want to keep making YouTube videos talking about this; the stages, the healing and what comes next. Because I think we need to share more than facts, we need to share our stories, to encourage women of all ages to go to the doctor, to have smear tests, to ask the difficult questions.

Thanks so, so much for being open with us. I know there will be so many positive thoughts winging your way on the 12th February. It’s my Mum’s birthday, so I’ll have both of you in my heart on that day. And thanks for letting us hear you open up on your You-tube vlog. Here is the LINK everybody.
Please spread the word to all and sundry about opening up and taking care of ourselves. We have to listen to our bodies and the little voice whispering that all is not right.

If you would like to get in touch with amazing Jo, here’s where:

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Truth or Fiction?

The start of a brand new week and time to chat to a fellow historical fiction writer. Look at Rosemary Noble’s  impressive array of work.

 

Rosemary has written the Currency Girls trilogy, an entertaining an edifying series of novels set in Australia and the UK. Search for the Light is the first and follows Nora, transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1820. The same family (incidentally, the author’s husband’s relations), appear again in The Digger’s Daughter and my favourite, Sadie’s Wars , is the latest addition, set in England and Australia during both World Wars. Check out Ranter’s Wharf too:  gritty socio-historical fiction covering the rights of ordinary people, rebellion and the rise of non-conformism in Lincolnshire, in the early 19th century.
I asked Rosemary if she ever massages the truth when she writes her books. I am particularly interested in this relationship between truth and fiction in historical novels.
“What is truth in fiction? My stories are based on real people, but the story still has to be one people want to read. As an author, I am constantly massaging the truth about my characters because I wasn’t there. I can only put myself in their shoes at the time they lived. If you are asking if I massage known facts about the period, I try not to. I might put my own spin and interpretation on to them. For example, in The Digger’s Daughter, I was pulled up for criticising Peter Lalor, who is seen as a hero of the Eureka Rebellion, but his later actions showed he was no true friend of the working man. Did power corrupt him? Most probably.”
Interesting, Rosemary. It’s a fine balance, between truth and fiction. We don’t always know what is true and we have to judge how far we can embellish facts. A good story, however, is paramount.
Personally, I enjoy researching for my books. I’m lucky that I speak Italian fluently and live in Italy for half the year, so I can access documents and primary sources. I asked Rosemary what sources she uses.
“Newspapers especially the Trove Australian newspaper database – it is the most amazing free resource and I have to give credit to the government for giving them the funds to put all their newspapers online. I have spent many happy hours researching and correcting it. I have also had some snippets of memories from family members. Sometimes I suspect they may have become garbled or changed over the years and generations, so I have to be selective about using them. Sometimes a tiny nugget will take me off in a new direction, adding depth and my own imagination to run riot.”
How do you know when to stop researching?
“Never – is the answer. You are always finding new snippets. Oh, if only I had known that before, could be a constant refrain. It doesn’t mean that you would add it into the book in any meaningful way, but sometimes it helps. One of the advantages of books being on Kindle is that you can reedit at no cost if something vital emerges. For example, I will be visiting Australia again this autumn. I will be attending the Female Convicts Research Group Seminar at the Orphan School. One of my characters attended that school briefly. Will I find out something that will change the emphasis of a previous book? Maybe, I have to be prepared for it.”
Indeed, adding “new snippets” to your book once it is published, is another advantage of being an indie author. Rosemary, can you give an example of a historical blunder you almost included in your story?
“In Ranter’s Wharf, I was perplexed about where the steam packet from Grimsby landed in Hull. I pored over old maps of the docks and worked out that it must have gone into the new docks which had been opened a few years before 1819, when my character travelled there. I went to Hull to check on some other things to do with steam travel and the old town, visited the Hull Maritime Museum and saw a painting which showed the packet tied up at a jetty. The penny dropped with a veritable clang. It was the exact place where the Humber Ferry used to dock. The ferry I had travelled on numerous times as a child. It was on the Humber itself, at the edge of the city. I had known the answer all along, just not recognised it.”
It’s hard to say goodbye to your characters once you’ve written THE END. Which character did you most enjoy writing?
“Strangely the one who wasn’t real. That must say something, I hope it doesn’t. In Search for the Light, I needed a character who would be a friend on the voyage. Sarah came to me, she chose me because she wrote her own story. She is the only one who speaks in the first person. I had no idea where she would take me, what would happen to her, whether she would survive or die on the voyage. She is the one who readers love and cry over. I would love to find another character like Sarah.”
I love it when the character you’ve conjured does that:  takes you by the hand and shows you the way. It’s magical!
What would be your number one tip for writers of historical fiction?
“No piece of historical fact is worth detracting from the flow of the story. Everything must be worked into how the characters experience what is happening to them. For that reason, you will discard at least 80% of your research.”
Absolutely agree. We have to be really careful not to pull the narrative out of shape by too much obvious research. I would put the discarding as high as 90% – as painful as it might feel.
I’d reinforce that we should never forget the story is an entertainment. We need to find a way to animate our historical characters and not deliver a history lesson. Look for gaps in spaces in history where we don’t know where they were and feel free to create imaginary situations in these gaps. I was listening recently to the wonderful Sebastian Faulks talking about his latest book, “Paris Echo”, and he said (in so many words) that history isn’t a pageant that happened to somebody else. Our characters should resonate with the modern reader, whilst remaining true to their era.
I asked Rosemary for a 250-word extract from my favourite of her novels,  “Sadie’s Wars”.
“She paced the jetty, unaware that her wild eyes and tear-streaked cheeks were drawing looks. Her beloved Papa’s face. Would she ever forget how his eyes streamed with tears to watch his grandchildren’s terror, knowing all hope was lost? His life’s work in ruins, his reputation sullied, his children thrown onto the scrapheap.
A woman stepped towards her, a gloved hand outstretched, almost touching her arm. Her kindly eyes showed alarm; she looked motherly, concerned. Sadie’s heart screamed in silence. Was the horror of the morning written so plainly on her face? She attempted a smile to reassure the woman, nodded as the woman withdrew her arm, eyes flickering in relief.
Sadie slowed her pacing, drawing her collar around her face to hide her anguish from the curious. Stay calm, think it through. Her hand strayed to her hair, the dark bob beneath her cloche hat felt strange – a recent act of independence. No, she would never give in, never let the bleakness in her heart take over. She must learn to be a lioness when it came to her boys. They needed her, only her and she would do anything to protect them. At the end of the jetty, Sadie stared at the ocean as though its inky depths would answer her lurking questions.
Far out on the horizon, a band of sunshine highlighted the cumulus clouds, a kingdom of snowy peaks, dark hills, even a crenellated castle. Another land; mysterious, unobtainable. The light drew her in, calming her. Her pounding heart began to quieten; she counted the wheeling gulls, anything to still her nerves. The guilt weighed in on her. All she could think to do was to run, run far away from the memories.”
Very moving. Why did you choose this particular passage?
“This extract was almost in chapter one but is now near the end of the book. Sadie is about to leave Australia for a new life in England. The big question in the book is why did she have to leave? What event was so traumatic that it forced her into that decision? It helped me to write it early on because I knew how distressed she was and how it coloured the rest of the book.”

Thank you for chatting to me today and I wish you all the very best with your writing. Here is my review of Sadie’s Wars.

I always enjoy Rosemary Noble’s books – she is a passionate historian and I learn from her pages. But Sadie’s Wars has taken her writing to another level. I was swept away by the narrative this time. She has obviously done her research, but the story is paramount.
Sadie is always at the centre of two periods. The First World War, as experienced from Australia, where war seemed distant. I’ve never visited this continent, but I enjoyed the descriptions, “the harsh beauty” of this place: “rose-winged galahs amongst rustling river gums”; the battle with the land of kangaroos and pepper trees. The author has a deep respect for these new arrivals – in fact the story is largely based on fact; recounting her own husband’s family’s past. Towards the end of the book, when Sadie faces a difficult decision to return to England, she feels she is almost betraying these courageous settlers:
“She imagined their feelings as they left the ship and set foot on the strange land… While they faced an uncertain future building a home and a life in this hostile environment, she was contemplating abandoning their endeavour”.
Sadie’s life back in Cleethorpes is also beautifully written, with great attention to detail. This time, the Second World War is very real, with bombing raids, rationing and loss of life. “This was war her husband and brothers had faced… Before, it was words, written in the newspapers, or images in films. Now it was real, her reality too.”
There are moments in the book that are deeply moving and there is passion. Sadie’s passionate nature is almost another of her wars. She feels and loves deeply, and I felt Rosemary’s writing opening up. She seems to have grown into it: “… his eyes kissed every inch of her before his mouth even touched her skin.”; “… sometimes she felt like an overripe peach, hanging by a whisker from a tree. A small breath from Rob on her cheek would send her tumbling down to burst open on the ground.” After she suffers abuse from a man she thought she loved, she walks to the sea and “…pleaded silently with the seagulls to swallow her up, fly out to the sea and spit him out to sink and drown.”
So, a story about the settlers in Australia, about two world wars, wrapped up in a powerful love story. Quite an achievement. Congratulations, Rosemary Noble! More, please!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABio
Rosemary Noble lives in West Sussex and worked as an education librarian. Books have been her life, ever since she walked into a library at five-years-old and found a treasure trove. Her other love is social history. She got hooked on family history before retirement and discovered so many stories that deserved to be told.
Her first book, Search for the Light, tells the story of three young girls transported to Australia in 1824. Friendship sustains them through the horrors of the journey, and their enforced service in Tasmania. The Digger’s Daughter tells of the next generation of gold-diggers and a pioneering woman who lives almost through the first hundred years in Victoria. The third in the trilogy, Sadie’s Wars takes the reader to the fourth generation and into the twentieth century. The trilogy is based on the author’s family. It tells of secrecy and lies, of determination and grit and how all can be done or undone by luck.
Rosemary is a member of CHINDI independent authors and is involved in literary events in and around Chichester. She also loves to travel, especially to Australia and Europe and not least, she loves spending time with her grandchildren, one of whom is a budding author herself.

To find out more about Rosemary, follow these links:

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Eric Newby’s classic WW2 account

Here is my review of “Love and War in the Apennines” that I finished reading again today. I would have given it more than 5 stars. If you are at all interested in Italy, then I recommend this wholeheartedly.img_8959

I wish I could give this classic more than 5 stars. I’ve just read it for the second time since I bought it just after university in 1976. All these years later, it makes sense, now that I live in a similar area in the Tuscan Apennines that he describes so beautifully.
Anybody with the slightest interest of WW2 in Italy should read this book. It’s autobiographical.

Eric Newby, at the tender age of 22 was an escaped POW and his account shows how truly generous and courageous ordinary Italians were to young British men. They reasoned their own sons were far away, fighting, and it was their duty to help other people’s sons. Despite their own difficulties in procuring food, and with the threat of execution if they were discovered harbouring POWs, they went to great lengths to look after Eric and others. This happened up and down the length of Italy and after the war, the British government was rather pathetic in the way they recognised these acts. In his Epilogue, Newby writes: “As is usual when official attempts are made to repay something with cash which was given freely at the time out of kindness of heart, a great deal of ill-will was created in this case by the Treasury, or whoever held the purse-strings, who decreed that any money that was disbursed to these people in 1946 should be at the old, pre-Armistice rate of exchange… which by now was absolutely nothing.” Shame!
Anyway – back to the book. Despite the background of war and death, Newby writes with such humour that I laughed out loud frequently. The personalities he describes, the places where he slept, the scenery, the Italian temperament and the predicaments he found himself in – is all spot on. I loved it. It is also a love story. He met his lovely wife during his escape. I slowed down at the end of the book because I didn’t want it to end. There is also interesting insight into the mind of a young man who feels guilty at times about not being in the thick of war, and we know now that they were (unfairly) given the description of “D-Day dodgers” by many. But, read the book for yourselves and make up your own minds. What would you have done in this situation?
I walk in the Apennines south east of where Newby hid, and this terrain is very similar. There are ruins scattered all over the place and now when I gaze on the crumbling stones, choked in ivy and brambles I will picture what they looked like inside and wonder if a POW was harboured somewhere nearby.
Eric Newby has written several books. He died at the age of 86 in 2006. How I wished I could have met him in real life and chatted to him, glass of wine in hand. RIP and many thanks for this masterpiece.

If you’d like to find out more about this enterprising gentleman, then his obituary  in the New York Times is a good place to start.

If you want to buy your own copy, (but I prefer the battered copy of my old Penguin),  then here is the link

 

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p.s. to Old and New

I hope this link to the film about the Wolves (that doesn’t work for my last blog) is now correct: The Snow Wolf

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Old and new

 

We’ve seen in New Year in Tuscany. It’s crisp, clear and cold here. At night it descends to -10 and and remnants of snow cling to the hillside by day. It’s refreshing. I love Christmas; I love to be with family, but it all becomes a little excessive, so we’re happy to escape. Maybe I prefer all the preparations.
I’ve sent in my edits for a rewrite of Tuscan Roots. I could see there was need, so fingers crossed my editor at Bookouture will approve of what I’ve done. And I’m now directing my energy to a brand new book set in Tuscany, during World War 2 and the present day.
In the few days we’ve been here, I’ve been so lucky to chat to Italian friends and glean more information. Pleasant research indeed.

researchEach day, Maurice and I have walked in the still, frost-cold mountains. Tomorrow we have planned an all-day trek. And as I’ve wandered past the many ruins, I’ve thought about the hardships that peasant farmers endured here in this harsh landscape over the years. Many left on their annual winter trek down to the coast and never returned to their hills, and I’ve written about that in my second novel,Now and Then in Tuscany

While the men (and boys and women sometimes) were away in Maremma for five long months with the cattle and sheep, the women stayed behind, eking out their days, eating what they had managed to store during the summer and autumn months: chestnuts, polenta, dried fruit, sometimes meat products cured into salame and sausage, cheeses made from their own cattle. On New Year’s Eve, our starter in Piero and Manuela’s restaurant, Il Castello consisted of tasty morsels based on these foods: mushrooms, wild plants, bottled tomatoes… capodanno supper But we ate this in a warm dining room, with electricity, dressed in our glad rags and being waited on. Back then, in the old, there was no central heating. Just warmth coming up through floorboards where a cow, sheep or goats in the stables below would radiate a little heat. And of course there was the hearth upstairs, where family clustered around the fire, burning precious firewood gathered in warmer months.

A favourite book of mine is “Il Paese sul Paradiso”, which talks of the life in a mountain village high above us (only inhabited now by holiday makers). Marta Bonaccini describes winter evenings up in Montebotolino. How poor they were materially, but rich in community spirit. There was always snow and they felt separated from the rest of the world. The snow, although an inconvenience, was also a blessing. Roughly translated, the author writes: only those who have lived in the heart of the Apennines can appreciate the tie that we mountain people have with snow: it’s freezing, everything becomes more difficult, but it is part of us and our surroundings; it turns winter squalor into something precious; provides us with magical moments. Snow and silence, candour and peace feed the soul. 

stones

As we walked on up to 1,000+ metres to a ridge that I love (Monte Faggiola), we came across a pile of stones in the middle of a meadow. Nearby were the stools of a wolf. wolves

It’s wild up here. (Incidentally, if you have not managed to watch the recent, brilliant BBC documentary on the wolf, make a point of doing so. It was filmed mostly in the Apennines.) Wolf film review

The piles of stones reminded me of an excellent book written by Eric Newby: Love and War in the Apennines

Newby was an escaped POW and found shelter with Italian farmers on the Apennines. In recompense for food and shelter, he had the boring task of clearing the fields of stones.

“Come with me,” a voice said. It was Luigi. It was the first time he had spoken to me, apart from wishing me buongiorno. I followed him round to the back of the house where the fields swept uphill to the edge of the woods in all their stoniness. Many of them could scarcely be called stones. They were rocks and boulders which had come rolling down off the mountains. It was like looking out on a parable.
“I want all those fields cleared of stones,” he said, quite casually.

Maurice and I were pleased we didn’t have to complete this task!
If you’re interested in a classic, superbly funny, exciting (true) war account, do read Newby’s book.
I’m also reading a book “Fuochi sui Monti” by Antonio Curina, kindly given to me by our local tourist officer, about partisan activity in our Tuscan Apennines. The book contains unbelievable accounts of bravery and suffering in bitterly cold conditions by courageous men and women. I think we do take our freedom for granted nowadays.
As I write this by our stove, safe from war and hardship, I’d like to remind you that the sun isn’t always baking in Italy.
Happy New Year to you all. I’ve not made resolutions as such. They are so easily broken. But, I do have many plans.

FELICE ANNO NUOVO!

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Why on earth do I stay?

I love this blog, written by a young woman who still loves living in Italy, despite the earthquakes, severe weather, state bureaucracy, etc etc… I hope you enjoy reading it too. Check out her other blogs about earthquakes in her corner of Le Marche, Italy.

Land of the Forgotten Earthquakes

The question that friends abroad often ask

The short answer is that I live here

I live here.

sarnano

I’ve lived here for about 6 years. I’m not on a vacation. My life here is not a hobby nor an experiment.  It is – for better and for worse, my life. The life that Steve and I have here is a good life, a better life than we had in London. I work here (well, not at the moment obviously!), I pay taxes here, I’ve had major surgery here, I’ve been to funerals here. I see beauty here that surpasses my wildest dreams and I see it every day. I am part of a small, basically healthy, civic society.

And the longer answer …

We don’t have much crime and we don’t have much violence.  We don’t drop litter, we don’t get drunk and throw up in the streets and we…

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Bigging up bloggers #bloggerssparkle

Mavis and Dot

Two years ago, I’d never heard of a Blog Tour, but I wasn’t as involved with my writing back then. Bloggers sounds like a rude term: “blogger off” could be used as an alternative to another expression. BUT, how could I ever think negatively of a blogger?

Having released my new novella, Mavis and Doti in mid-November 2018, and having spent nearly twelve years on its birth (long, protracted labour), I needed to let the world beyond friends and family know about it. Especially as I was selling the two ladies to raise funds for cancer research.

I was recommended Rachel Gilbey of Random Resources. For the uninitiated, here’s how it works.
1. You contact her and receive a very modest price list. Bite the bullet, you have to speculate to accumulate, folks. It’s nerve-wracking to think of your work being picked at by the wider world, but we’re writers; we can’t closet ourselves away in our untidy work space (speaking for myself). We wrote the book to be read, for heaven’s sake.
2. Rachel is very efficient. She designs a beautiful banner for you, with flair and imagination, and then puts out the word to find bloggers. I don’t think she uses a sandwich board and a megaphone. She walks the streets of the internet and I was flabbergasted to hear she’d almost filled my 42 blogger spots (sounds like an advert for acne) within two days. About one month in advance, I created an e-book for Rachel to send to these lovely people. (I used CALIBRE).
3. Some bloggers request individual posts from the author. I wrote nine, but it was good for me; made me re-evaluate the themes I’d hopefully put across in my book. The remainder would read and review my book. Eek, knees tremble, heart palpitates.
4. The blogs came in from November 17th – 30th and I was bowled over by the reactions. I kept links for the posts as, at first, I was posting too much and felt I was boring the pants off social media friends. I decided to drip-feed over future months, because I’ve learned you have to keep this publicity lark going for the first six months at least, after publication. You can’t sit back and twiddle your thumbs. So, I’ve filed the quotes for future ads and promotions.
5. I was gratified to see that reviews were also posted on both Amazons and Goodreads. To date, I have 23 on UK Big Brother Amazon, 6 on USA and 27 on Goodreads. Not too bad for an indie book at this stage, imho. All 4 and 5 stars, except for a 1 from Ibrahim, but that’s fine too. The book is out there.

3 - REviews M and D

WHY DO BLOGGERS BLOG? What do they get out of it? I wanted to find out.
First I talked to Rachel Gilbey. For her it’s a business and she runs it very well. She started by organising tours for a small self-publisher after getting an internship and really enjoyed it. She has a large mailing list now but is always on the look out for more. Rachel filters her lists according to each book’s genre. To date she’s organised 316 tours in 2018 and has 58 confirmed for 2019. I highly recommend her efficiency and friendliness and am very grateful to her for my first blog tour experience. She doesn’t do all the work: it’s up to the author to tweet and post too – obviously.

Next, I turned to one of the complete strangers who blogged me (sounds like a one-night stand). Her name, HonoluluBelle, was interesting for starters. I’d love to travel over to Hawaii one day and investigate whether it’s only in Mutiny on the Bounty that grass skirts are worn…and to meet this hilarious lady too, of course. She’d said she “found treasure” in my book and “each and every one of Ms Petch’ quirky characters was deliciously peculiar and colourfully drawn. I adored them no end.” (Blush).
“Why do you blog?” I asked and here’s her reply. (She wrote a new blog following on my question. (I need to think of a saying along the lines of “you can take a grass skirt off a Hawaian but you can’t take a blog out of a blogger”). She’s in blogging because she loves to read. Simple.
I don’t make a cent from my blog, I don’t have ads, I don’t have affiliate links. I just get free books. Which is all the motivation I need. I mean, come on… Free books baby! I’m a retired government worker living on a pension, I’m in it for the FREE BOOKS! I don’t care one whit if my reviews are read or not, I don’t expect or believe anyone actually does or will read them other than once in a great while a desperate indie author stumbles onto one or maybe a bored PA now and then. I’m always surprised, shocked, stunned, and even a bit horrified when someone new finds them and leaves a comment.”
I asked for “Belle’s” tip for authors on a blog tour:
“Be patient, select your tour operator with care, and have thick skin… BTW – Rachel’s Random Resources is excellent. I have worked with many and several have come and gone in the short period I’ve been blogging. Rachel is by far, the most organized, personable, and dear to me. I have never met her in person but I call her my English Rose – without her awareness, of course. She would most likely cringe in horror if she knew, yet she is very patient with me. I know I’m a bit of a wildcard for her and she always seems immensely relieved to receive my links with a positive review as there have been a few that I didn’t care for.”
There were 42 of these sparkly reviewers and bloggers on my tour and I could have talked to more (but I talk too much, I know).

Jessie Cahalin Coffee Shop

Blogger extraordinaire – Jessie Cahalin

The very first blogger I had (confession time) is the inimitable, lovely Jessie Cahalin at Books in my Handbag. So, last, but definitely not least, I turned to her to ask why she blogs about authors? Doesn’t it take away time from her own writing?
She describes herself as a “book warrior”.

“I am an accidental blogger who never dreamed I would become synonymous with books and handbags.
Blogging enables me to establish my identity as a writer. Through my blog, I have found my voice. I love to blog about my writing experiences and adventures: it is a great way to keep a visual diary.
Blogging is not a business for me. I blog to connect with the bookish community. The international bookish community is a dynamic force powered by words, creativity, friendship and lots of coffee I want to promote my own book and support other writers. I get a real buzz from helping others when it is appreciated and reciprocated.
I do believe that authors are stronger together and must support each other. Readers listen more when someone else talks about your book online. I promote other authors’ books via the Handbag Gallery, interviews, extracts and guest posts. When I launched my debut novel You Can’t Go It Alone authors reciprocated with spotlights on their blogs.
I asked Jessie for advice for an author contacting a blogger.
I love people who interact with me. Retweet my tweets, comment on my blogs and respond to my FB posts. Make sure I know about you and look at my blog and my book to see if we share common interests. Please don’t send me an e mail asking for a review, telling me I’ll love your book, if I’ve never heard of you.
At the moment, I am lost in the world of my second novel. Recently, I reduced the number of blogs in order to focus on my writing. I reward myself with snatches of time on social media. I am ashamed to say that my TBR pile is a huge mountain -time to buy more hiking books and a large supply of coffee.”

You can’t go it Alone

Jessie’s own book title is very fitting. So, there you have it.
Bloggers are our friends. They sparkle and we need to love them.

 

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Rachel’s Random Resources / Guest Post : Mavis and Dot – Angela Petch

Some thoughts on Mavis wanting to belong to Italy…

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

Mavis and Dot

Today I’m on the ‘Mavis and Dot’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, Angela Petch, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Mavis and Dot Author PhotoA prize-winning author, Angela Petch lives half the year in West Sussex and the summer months in a remote valley in the Tuscan Apennines. She recently signed a two-book deal with Bookouture for her Tuscan novels and “Mavis and Dot” is a temporary departure from her usual genre. She has travelled all her life: born in Germany, she spent six years as a child living in Rome, worked in Amsterdam after finishing her degree in Italian, moved to Italy for her job, then to Tanzania for three years. Her head is full of stories and she always carries a pen and note-book to capture more ideas.

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Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch #Blogtour #Review #Cancerresearch

Absolutely bowled over. Book Addiction UK says: “…I can safely say it’s in my top three reads of 2018”.

Wrong side of forty

Synopsis

A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship.Meet Mavis and Dot – two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions. Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You’ll laugh and cry but probably laugh more.”This book is quirky and individual, and has great pathos…[it] will resonate with a lot of readers.” Gill Kaye – Editor of Ingenu(e). Written with a light touch in memory of a dear…

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Blog Tour | Mavis And Dot #GuestPost

I’m thinking about the serious side to Mavis and Dot today on “Everywhere and Nowhere”. Thanks for letting me be your guest.

Happy Wednesday! I am in a very cheerful mood today which seems fitting because the book that I am on the tour for looks pretty cheerful too.

about the bookMavis and Dot Front Cover

A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship. Meet Mavis and Dot – two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions. Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You’ll laugh and cry but probably laugh more.”This book is quirky and individual, and has great pathos…[it] will resonate with…

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