Thursday, November 26, 2009

Busy days and novel marketing

Some people do ten things in one day; they have a right to say they’ve been busy. I am not one of them. Two things in one day qualifies as a busy day; consequently, I have to report I have been busy this week.

I should add that I don’t count chores which I do every day, when I say ‘doing things’. Every day, I do the necessary – the washing and ironing and tidying - and sorting out the post and any typing that’s needed. It’s the other things – well things that actually involve me leaving the house. And I have left the house this week, each day, despite one or two wild and windy nights that had me remembering the hurricane of 1987, and feeling reassured about the conifer that is no longer overshadowing us.

Irene and I went to Dorking for the book signing at Waterstone’s on Sunday and felt it was a successful day. The staff were lovely and helpful and the customers chatted to us whether or not they bought our books; many of them were obviously regular visitors and stayed browsing for a long time. It was a very welcoming store and it deserves to be very successful. Our books were nicely displayed. I haven't included Irene's picture of me sitting at the table in front of the books, as she caught me with a rather grim expression on my face, not related to emotions, but rather wondering if she had taken it or not.

We hashed things over at our Goldenford meeting on Monday night, and on Tuesday, I was able to read another small extract of the current novel.

On Wednesday, I met up with some friends at our local pub, and we had a lengthy chat. We used to meet and eat at each other’s houses, but we’ve given up on that. We can have a much better chat when we don’t have to worry about cooking – and about the occasional husband (working on the premises) who also wants lunch. I went straight on to Sainsbury’s to get my weekly shop, so was out for about five or six hours altogether.

Similarly today, I took my car for a service and MOT, abandoned it there, and walked into Guildford, armed with my shopping list. Looking for presents for the four grandchildren, I visited M & S, Next, Gap, Gap Kids, Mothercare and for myself – HMV, where I bought three more classical CDs and a DVD of the first series of Frasier, for the evenings when we can’t find anything we want to watch on TV. I was exhausted by the end of it, but had succeeded in polishing off most of the present needs. Still looking for a ‘boyfriend cardigan’ for GD1. I’d never heard of such a thing until a week ago, but Gap told me they were sold out. This is obviously the new ‘in thing’ and it just shows how giving something a name can be a terrific boost to sales.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Update on my books

Pleased to say I received my royalty statement from Virtual Tales, reminding me to say that HAVE WINE WILL TRAVEL is still available from them and from other sources.

Meanwhile, I will be at Dorking Waterstone's tomorrow, 12 - 3 with Irene, signing copies of our books, mine being Tainted Tree and A Bottle of Plonk. TT will be featured in Family Tree Magazine, out in December.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tainted Tree goes to Trowbridge and Dorking

Another busy week, which included fireworks and a giant bonfire on Saturday night – the day after my birthday -a meeting on Monday, shopping for birthday presents in Guildford on and also Guildford Writers on Tuesday, lunch with Irene and the reading circle, on Thursday and a trip to Cambridge through stormy weather on Saturday, returning today.

On Sunday, we added half our hedge to the embers of the bonfire which resulted in another blaze. Spending most of the morning walking backwards and forwards with the clippings was exhausting though, and took me two days to recover.

I didn’t have anything to read out at GW, but I had written another few hundred words of the current novel. As far as reading is concerned, I had completed the assigned book, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and found it a very good read. It was a large ambitious novel, in terms of keeping all the information in place, and is a most readable book - a definite page-turner.

I was particularly interested in, because, in some ways, it resembles Tainted Tree, which you could regard as a 'time-slip' novel and it also fits very neatly into this category. The author visits three main time periods – 2005, 1975 and 1905-1913, so like Tainted Tree, this is a mainly twentieth century novel. Unlike TT, however, Kate Morton spends much more time in the early part of the century, whereas my main story was in contemporary times, with diary entries and letters showing the past.

In the present, there is an Australian woman, Cassandra, who like my own modern day character, comes to
England from another land to find out secrets from the past. At times it could be confusing, as it was not always possible to remember what the character knew about the research, for the reader is discovering things from the earlier stories, which are probably unknown to the later characters.

I feel it is important for the author to take the reader seamlessly from one period to another, as I tried to do in Tainted Tree, and for the most part, Kate Morton succeeds in this. Despite various nit-picking, it was a thoroughly enjoyable book, and I shall miss it.

In the mean time, possibly as a result of a piece about TT in the Somerset Times, Trowbridge Waterstone’s has ordered in copies, which is good, especially as I have an article coming out in December in Family Tree Magazine which also ought to bring about some interest.

Next week, Irene and I will be at Dorking Waterstone’s during the middle of the day, signing copies of our books, so if you’re in the area, drop in and see us.

Monday, November 09, 2009

North and south and up and down

I’ve been too busy to blog, or possibly too sleepy or too lazy. But it does seem as if a number of things have been happening that have taken up the slack.

In the past two weeks, I have been to London twice. The first time with Irene and Jennifer, my Goldenford pals, to see L’Heure Espagnole and Gianni Schicchi, a double bill of light comic operas at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden - a magnificent place since its renovation. They were both amusing and the latter by Puccini, contained the well known piece, Oh my beloved father, which was beautifully sung by the heroine. We walked through the theatre area of London – ages since I’ve been in London by night, and it was buzzing with activity - and we dined in an Italian restaurant. Although late October, it was a warm night, and had so much atmosphere, it was almost like being on the Continent. At the end of the evening, we walked across London Bridge back to the station, and looked at the lights across the water.

Last week, I met my friend who lives in Kent. Our regular meetings in London are easier than family trips to meet each other at our homes, and since our friendship dates back to school days, we leave our partners out of the meetings. Walking into Trafalgar Square, we found that a new statue was to be unveiled later in the day on the Fourth Plinth. It looked, at that stage, like a rather tall hoodie, covered in black material and roped round the middle. Fortunately, though, it was not another example of eccentric modern art, but turned out to be a memorial to Air Chief Marshall Sir Keith Park, who commanded 11 Group, RAF Fighter Command, with the responsibility of the air defence of south-east England in the Battle of Britain, 1940 and who was described in a German report as the ‘Defender of London’.

When we returned there, at the appropriate time, we found the square was gradually filling up with dignitaries and air-force personnel. We had a very good position to both listen to the speeches and see what was happening on a screen. We saw the unveiling both on screen and in the actuality, including a flypast of a Spitfire and a Vulcan.. At the end of the proceedings, cadets moved amongst us, providing goodie bags for the audience. Later, on the train home, as I got up to leave the carriage, I found a young man was smiling at me. I checked the window reflection to see if there was anything strange about me, but all appeared to be normal. I turned away, thinking maybe that he was a bit odd, but he caught up with me on the exit steps, and finally asked me if I’d been at Trafalgar Square. He’d noticed my RAF bag of souvenirs, and had been envious that I’d been there.

Earlier on, my friend and I had a guided tour of the National Gallery, so that rather than whizzing past numerous paintings, we concentrated on about seven with explanations.

My trip to the Opera House and up to the heights of the gallery, made me very much aware of the double vision problem, which is exaggerated in that situation. This week, I’ve been to an optometrist, who did a new type of examination, and told me that if she’d simply seen the graph without speaking to me, she would have recommended surgery. This may still be a long term solution to my problem. However, for the moment, I am going to try out glasses with a prism over the right eye. Not all the time, though. Specifically for the occasions when I have problems. Like in the theatre, and when I’m driving and notice that there are two single white lines down the centre of the road.

Last, but not least, we visited the ProdigalD in the midlands, last weekend. For those of my friends, who do not know, we have a two month old granddaughter, and this was our first visit to see her. We thought her very sweet, and a good addition to the ballet corps of our other three granddaughters. We also, of course, saw GD2, and were delighted to see her too. She is a very articulate eight year old, with many similarities to me; she can’t ride a bike except with stabilisers, and she can’t swim. On the plus side, though, she loves books (and I’m looking forward to discussing my own with her eventually.)