Writing

Today Tuesday Talk is hosting author Malika Ghandi who chats about writing and showcases her paranormal novel Where the Secret Lies

This morning I’m welcoming author Malika Ghandi onto the blog to chat. She also has a special promotion coming up for her novel Where the Secret Lies between 11th and 15th August, 2020.  You can read about this in more detail after the interview.

 

Hi Malika, welcome to Tuesday Talk. Can you first tell us a little about yourself.

Hello and thank you for having me. I am a wife and a mother of two boys. I am a writer and an artist.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for fifteen years on my blog and my novels.

What made you choose paranormal? Is it something you have always been interested in?

I am intrigued with the afterlife. What happens after we die? Where do our souls go? I believe the subject paranormal is fascinating and when there is a mystery associated with a soul, the story gets better.

When not writing, what do you like to read?

I read many genres, rom coms, historical romance or mystery, and fantasy. I haven’t come across a paranormal romance yet (that is somewhat like Where the Secret Lies) but I am looking for one.

What is the most difficult part of writing a book?

The middle and the ending. Although, when I write, I let my characters decide what they want to do and what direction they want to take. It is never simple. 😊

Have you any advice for would be writers?

Writing may be hard but keep at it. It is all about trial and error. Never give up.

And lastly a ‘fun’ question. You are having a dinner party and inviting four famous people. Who would they be, and what would your reason be for inviting them?

I would invite The Wright Brothers who invented the Aeroplane because I want to know what kept them going after so many setbacks.

Second, I would like to have C.S. Lewis – the author of The Narnia books and find out what character he liked best, and how he came up with such a wonderful fantasy world.

I would invite Will Smith and Oprah and talk to them about their Law of Attraction journey to their successes.

 

A mansion (Haveli). A sealed door. A spirit. And a secret.

Nineteen-year-old Arianna and her family travel from London to India for a lavish wedding. Excitement turns to bewilderment and then curiosity when strange things start happening within the Haveli walls. A sealed door opens, and Arianna is given Anjali’s diary, which recounts a romantic adventure that began during the bloody turmoil of partition in 1948.

So begins a paranormal experience that leaves Arianna stunned and demanding answers. Who is Anjali? Why did the door unseal for her? Is there something the spirit wants to show her? What could it possibly be?

Where the Secret Lies will be FREE to download on Amazon on Tuesday 11th Aug – 15th August 2020.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon Link – Where the Secret Lies : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Where-Secret-Lies-Malika-Gandhi-ebook/dp/B00BUOWFBC

 

 

About the author:

Malika Gandhi lives with her husband and two sons in the East Midlands, UK. She is a homemaker

and in between caring for her family, she writes her books and works on her art. She

loves to experiment with different mediums, such as oils, acrylic and watercolour.

Malika was born in India but moved to London when she was two where her father was already

settled.

She grew up in London, studied in Southampton and moved to Leicester after her marriage.

Malika is very much in love with movies, art galleries, and libraries. She is also in curious about the universe.

 

Malika’s Social Media Links:

Link to Malika’s FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2053194508157386/

Link to Malika’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/Malika-Gandhi-Author-580125525988027/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Twitter: @MalikaGandhi https://twitter.com/MalikaGandhi?lang=en-gb

 

 

Writing

AUTHOR PROMOTION: A GOOD MATCH FOR THE MAJOR by JOSIE BONHAM

 

 

Pride meets prejudice -can love blossom?

 

Beautiful young widow Lady Eliza Wyndham is determined never to remarry after a disastrous first marriage. The undeniable attraction that fizzes between her and Major Nathaniel Overton terrifies her. She rejects his advances.
With his pride badly dented, Nat vows to forget Eliza until he finds her in danger from an old adversary of his army days. His protective instincts are stirred and he steps back into her life, but will Eliza be prepared to accept his help?

Set in 1800 this is the first book in a series, The Reluctant Brides, linked by character. Perfect for readers of Mary Balogh, Stephanie Laurens, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and Julia Quinn.

PURCHASE LINK: mybook.to/agoodmatchforthemajor

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Josie lives in the English midlands, surrounded by towns full of history such as Evesham, Stratford-Upon- Avon, Warwick and Worcester. Which is perhaps why her favourite reads are historical. Out of all the periods to choose from the Regency Era stirs her imagination the most. The true Regency lasted from 1811 until 1820 but dates as wide as 1789 to 1837 have been included in the extended Regency period. For Josie the true flavour of this period emerges after the iniquitous powder tax of 1795, unsurprisingly, scuppered the fashion for hair powder almost overnight.

Josie has always dabbled in stories but it took the combined efforts of her sister and eldest niece to set her on the path to writing novels. Her Regency romances, with a dash of adventure and intrigue, are the result.

There is more information on her website at https:/josiebonhamauthor.com

 

Social media links:

Twitter @BonhamJosie

Facebook Author Page  @josiebonhamauthor

https://www.facebook.com/josiebonhamauthor

 

 

Writing

Tuesday Talk welcomes author Trevor Belshaw who talks about how be became a writer and showcases his new book Unspoken…

Today Tuesday Talk is hosting writer Trevor Belshaw.  I put a few questions to him about his writing journey and there’s a chance to read all about his latest book Unspoken

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always wanted to write, ever since I was a kid. I used to write silly, plays that I would perform with my brothers in front of my long-suffering parents, after tea on a Sunday. I wrote a few stories back then, mainly about Spaceship munching aliens, or kid’s who get stuck in various places, like haunted castles and have to trick the ghosts into letting them out.

I didn’t really get going with it until around 2008-9 when the financial crisis struck and my one-man band, computer repair business took a major hit. I was left with a lot of time on my hands so I thought there’s never be a better time to see if I could actually turn out something readable. When the business folded, I took a part time delivery job which meant I had most afternoons and all weekends free. For once, I took advantage of the situation and to my own surprise as much as anyone else’s, I became a fully-fledged writer.

How did you go about taking those first steps?

I had a go at writing a YA novel, got three chapters in then printed it off and read it back a few days later. When I compared it to an actual published book, I could see straight away that what I had produced wasn’t going to make it to the top of the book charts. The story was good, the plot was fine, but the actual prose wasn’t much better than I had written as a child. A lot of he said, she said, he did this, she did that. There were different tenses in the same paragraph, the punctuation was awful and even though the missus smiled at me and said, keep at it, (she was always honest and would never have said it was great when it wasn’t,) I knew I needed help.

So, I joined an online writing community called, Writelink where wannabe writers could post up their latest output and get genuinely helpful and friendly, feedback. Nothing was ever torn to pieces in front of you. I met some wonderful people on that site and many are friends to this day. Their advice was invaluable and within a few months I was turning out articles and short stories that were as good as most things on the site. I met my soon to be editor, Maureen Vincent-Northam on Writelink and she still edits everything I turn out, including my new novel, Unspoken. In fact, it was Maureen that came up with the title. My Tracy’s Hot Mail novels were spawned on Writelink. I used to post a new chapter email chapter on there every other week.

Before long, with a growing confidence, I began to send out articles, poetry and short stories to magazines and anthologies. I was lucky enough to have many of them accepted. So, taking the bull firmly by the horns, I began my first novel, a children’s book which developed into an eight-title series, called Magic Molly.

Has there been any one author who has influenced your work?

I’d like to say, Roald Dahl or Enid Blyton as I’ve been favourably and somewhat, flatteringly, compared to both. If I do have an author mentor, it’s probably Leslie Thomas, author of The Virgin Soldiers amongst many other titles. Leslie could make me laugh out loud and have me sobbing into my sleeve on the same page, sometimes in the same paragraph. He was a literary genius who’s understanding of humour and pathos goes pretty much unmatched … Apart from a certain Tom Sharpe who had me doubled over with laughter every time I picked up one of his books. I could read them a dozen times and still find them funny.

Amongst children’s writers I loved Arthur Ransome, (Swallows and Amazons) And Richmal Crompton. (Just William.) Both wrote about eras before my time, but the stories were timeless so it didn’t matter.

If you weren’t a writer is there any other occupation that would interest you?

At school, I wanted to be an archaeologist or a private detective. Back then neither were a possibility for a young lad from the slums, despite a lot of Private Investigators in novels being from the wrong side of the tracks. I needed a job when I left school, university wasn’t done back then for kids like me and archaeology was a rich kid’s unpaid pursuit.

What are you reading at the moment?

Having just written a Family Saga and about to continue the series, I’m reading a couple of books in the same genre to get a proper feel for it. Pam Howes. The Liverpool Girls is on my Kindle at the side of my bed. I’m also determined to re-read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It became an instant favourite with me on first reading.

Have you another writing project in the pipeline?

I’m four chapters into the sequel to Unspoken. Unspoken 2. Martha, which continues the story of the fractious, Mollison family. I hope to produce a third which will be titled, The Pearl, a reference to another of the main protagonist’s children, Marjorie. The name means, pearl.

What advice would you give to would be authors?

Keep at it, don’t expect your first attempts at writing to be a blazing success, even if your friends and family tell you you’re the next Jane Austen. They are just being kind and don’t want to hurt your feelings. Get your work assessed by other writers, join a local writer’s group and read your work to them. Enter competitions for short stories. Don’t try to run before you can walk. Remember, only a tiny percentage of submitted books are taken up by traditional publishers. Don’t be scared, or ashamed of Self Publishing your work. You will need to work hard to get it noticed but if you do, you’ll earn much more than by going with a small publishing company who will pay you half of what you can make on your own, and you’ll have to do all the publicity work anyway as they won’t have the budgets to help you.

And lastly, the fun question. Name three things you would like to take with you if you were planning to spend a year on a desert island.

My collection of Maria Callas CDs, so I would need electrical power to plug in the Hifi that I’d have to take with me. Failing that, my mobile phone and a wireless, Bluetooth speaker. I’d also take my book-stuffed, Kindle and a solar charger for both kindle, speaker, and phone.

Thank you for hosting me Jo.

Thank you coming along to chat Trevor…

Unspoken Cover 3D

A dramatic family saga, Unspoken is a tale of secrets, love, betrayal and revenge.

Unspoken means something that cannot be uttered aloud. Unspoken is the dark secret a woman must keep, for life.

Alice is fast approaching her one hundredth birthday and she is dying. Graphic dreams of ghostly figures pulling her into a tunnel of blinding light become more vivid and more terrifying. Alice has only a short time left and is desperate to unburden herself of a dark secret, one she has lived with for eighty years.

Jessica, a journalist, is her great granddaughter and a mirror image of the young Alice. They share dreadful luck in the types of men that come into their lives.

Alice shares her terrible secret with Jessica through a set of handwritten notebooks detailing her young life during the late 1930s. Following the death of her invalid mother and her father’s decline, she is forced, at 18, to run the farm. On her birthday, she meets Frank, a man with a drink problem and a violent temper.
When Frank’s abusive behaviour steps up a level. Alice seeks solace in the company of her smooth, ‘gangster lawyer’ Godfrey, and when Frank finds Alice in another man’s arms, he vows to get his revenge.

Unspoken. A tale that spans two eras and binds two women born eighty years apart.

Unspoken is available in Kindle format at both Amazon UK and Amazon Com

The UK version is linked below.  The paperback version will follow soon…

Amazon UK

 

About the Author

me white shirtT A Belshaw is from Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Trevor writes for both children and adults. He is the author of Tracy’s Hot Mail, Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail and the noir, suspense novella, Out of Control. His new novel, the family saga, Unspoken, was released in July, 2020

His short stories have been published in various anthologies including 100 Stories for Haiti, 50 Stories for Pakistan, Another Haircut, Shambelurkling and Other Stories, Deck the Halls, 100 Stories for Queensland and The Cafe Lit anthology 2011, 2012 and 2013. He also has two pieces in Shambelurklers Return. 2014

Trevor is also the author of 15 children’s books written under the name of Trevor Forest. The latest. Magic Molly: The Curse of Cranberry Cottage, was released in August 2016

His children’s poem, Clicking Gran, was long listed for the Plough prize (children’s section) in 2009 and his short poem, My Mistake, was rated Highly Commended and published in an anthology of the best entries in the Farringdon Poetry Competition.

Trevor’s articles have been published in magazines as diverse as Ireland’s Own, The Best of British and First Edition.

Trevor is currently working on the sequel to Unspoken and the third book in the Tracy series; Tracy’s Euro Hot Mail.

Social Media Links:

http://www.trevorbelshaw.com

@tabelshaw. Twitter

https://www.facebook.com/trevor.belshaw   Facebook

https://trevorbelshaw.com/  Website

https://www.instagram.com/trevor.belshaw/   Instagram

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOK OR JUST COME ALONG FOR A TUESDAY TALK CHAT THEN SIMPLY DROP ME AN E-MAIL AT  taurusgirl185@gmail.com

 

 

Writing

ALMOST THERE….

There are only a few hours to go now until Shadows on the Water is published in e-book format on Amazon.  The paperback version will follow in August.  The e-book is currently on pre-order (links below) at a special price of 99p/$1.24 until tomorrow.

 

 

UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08CF3G9BL/

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08CF3G9BL/

 Earlier this week Rebecca, my formatter, sent me the final file to check through before loading it onto Amazon. As I looked through it the thought struck me what an amazing journey this book has made since I had that very first germ of an idea for a romance set in the fictitious Cornish estuary town of Kingswater.  And how different it looks from the typed manuscript.

Dartmouth, Devon and Fowey, Cornwall (slideshows below)  have been the inspiration for my fictitious estuary town of Kingswater.  It will be a place I’m planning to take up residence for the next two chapters of this Cornish trilogy. At the moment I’m still at the planning stage for book two but I’m hoping it will be ready for publication some time in the New Year.

In the meantime there’s the first story to tell….

DEVON

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CORNWALL

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Writing

AUTHOR GILLI ALLAN HAS RELAUNCHED BURIED TREASURE WITH A BRAND NEW COVER…AND THERE’S A BOOK TOUR

 

About Buried Treasure

 “I found Buried Treasure a compelling read. It was so many things: a love story, a hunt for clues to lost secrets, and a fascinating look at how our past experiences shape us, and how we can heal even after damage. The characters were wonderfully well drawn. ”

Jane thinks he sees her as shallow and ill-educated. Theo thinks she sees him as a snob, stuffy and out of touch.
Within the ancient precincts of the university the first encounter between the conference planner and the academic is accidental and unpromising. Just as well there’s no reason for them ever to meet again. But behind the armour they’ve each constructed from old scars, they’ve more in common than divides them. Both have an archaeological puzzle they are driven to solve. As their stories intertwine, their quest to uncover the past unearths more than expected.

PURCHASE LINKS FOR BURIED TREASURE

mybook.to/BURIEDTREASURE

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the imaginary kind.  

After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as an illustrator in advertising and only began writing again when she became a mother. 

Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.

All of her recent books TORN, LIFE CLASS, FLY or FALL and BURIED TREASURE have gained ‘Chill with a Book’ awards.

Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is now also a writer.

Contact Gilli at

 http://gilliallan.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/gilli.allan.1

https://twitter.com/gilliallan

 

 

Find Gilli’s other books TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL at

author.to/GILLIALLAN

Contemporary Romance, Cornwall, Writing

SHADOWS ON THE WATER: BOOK ONE OF MY NEW CORNISH COASTAL ROMANCE SERIES

 

 

Yes it’s here at last. The cover reveal for my latest book which is now available for pre-order.  It’s been a long journey since I typed the first words of this story and there were times when I doubted this book would ever be published.  I guess every writer has these moments of uncertainty but mine came off the back of a life changing diagnosis earlier this year. Everything had to be put on hold in the run up to surgery, and that included writing.  And what about afterwards?  How would I be then? What if I required further treatment? How would that impact on my writing life? Not wanting to overthink the situation, I decided to put my writing on the back burner, get the procedure out of the way and then review the whole situation.

Luckily no further treatment was required so post op I spent a lot of time reading and reviewing. At the time I didn’t feel like doing any more than that. Healing takes time and I’d had major surgery so it was only sensible to take things slowly. The ms was on a file in my computer but opening up and starting the writing process again was something for manaña – tomorrow.  The only trouble was, tomorrow soon became today and days gradually turned into weeks.  Then one morning I woke up and decided it was time to bite the bullet.  I needed to find out whether my writing mojo had completely abandoned me. Would I look at what I’d written and tell myself I didn’t want to do this any longer; that I’d just stick to reading and reviewing?  Happily as soon as I read the first few chapters, I knew I couldn’t leave this story. I had to publish…but first there were changes to be made.

Now here we are in July with publication due on the 26th.  Not only that, Shadows on the Water will now be followed by two other books in a new Cornish coastal romance series. Because during my rewrites it became clear that two supporting characters had their own stories to tell. So just as the tag line on the cover says ‘Sometimes the end is really just the beginning’.

 

SHADOWS ON THE WATER – synopsis

 

After the tragic death of her fiancé, Ava Warren is slowly rebuilding her life.  She has a supportive family, great friends and a job she loves, managing holiday letting company Estuary Escapes in her home town of Kingswater. Another relationship is the last thing she wants or needs. Until one evening she meets Alex Penhaligon.

 Alex’s father Sam owns Heron’s Gate Vineyard and Alex has recently returned from California, where he has been working for the past five years.  A case of mistaken identity gets them off to a bad start. But discovering his error, Alex is anxious to make amends and soon persuades Ava that he’s not quite as arrogant as she thinks he is. As their friendship begins to turn into something much deeper, Ava wonders whether she can at last put the past behind her and make a new future with Alex.

But someone is watching.  A man who not only thinks Ava should be his but also holds a long term grudge against Alex.  And he’s determined to get his own way irrespective of the lengths he has to go to or who gets hurt in the process.

Set on the south coast of Cornwall Shadows on the Water is a story of family ties, lost love and tangled loyalties.

 

Available at a special pre-order price of 99p/99c on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk 

 

 

 

 

Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Cookery, Mary Berry, Writing

TO BAKE OR NOT TO BAKE

 It’s been quite evident since lock down that a large section of the nation have been engaged in baking of some form or other.  Prior to my op I set up a regular grocery delivery as my immune system was off the Richter scale meaning the weekly supermarket shop wouldn’t be happening any time soon.  My experiences with online ordering have been mixed.  Items out of stock, substitutions; it’s been a bit of a ducking and diving game but all in all not too bad. And much better, of course, than the current queuing system keeping that 2 metre distancing – which I gather from some people is sometimes impossible.  Something that has become clear since I’ve been ordering on line is regular out of stock items appear to be things like flour, baking margarine and eggs and this week caster sugar, leading me to draw the conclusion that a big baking fest is going on.

I have to admit I’ve probably been having quite a few Mary Berry moments myself since lockdown with thankfully not a soggy bottom in sight! Last week I baked a coffee sponge and while I was in the process of beating the sugar and butter into submission, my mind wandered back to school days and our first attempts at cooking.  We came very late to the culinary art and weren’t allowed anywhere near a cooker until we were fifteen.  Today they start much earlier which I think is a good thing, and boys are included. Back in the day most of the males in our year would have run a mile before they got involved in anything as putting on an apron and using a rolling pin.  Almost as bad as having to partner us for dancing lessons in the gym if our PE lesson was rained off.

Our domestic science teacher had for the previous four years, guided us through the intricacies of sewing.  A smartly dressed Scottish woman she managed to transfer her total lack of humour from the sewing room to the kitchen with supreme ease. To  be truthful I think at times she found our youthful enthusiasm irritating. Although we were referred to collectively as ‘gels’ Miss Jean Brodie she was certainly not.  No amusing anecdotes or dry humour.  Instead she would lift her shoulders with a tired sigh and a roll of her eyes as if we were all beyond help.  There were also occasions when she managed to turn cookery into a ‘no gain without pain’ experience.  One of those was making meringue for the first time.  My mother used a whisk. We were given a plate and a palette knife. It took ages to whip up the egg white and caster sugar, leaving us with aching wrists and arms.  

In a time when Mrs Beaton’s word was law, we were taught how to cook a wide range of dishes – casseroles (which didn’t travel too well on the bus home ), pies, biscuits, quiches and cake to name but a few. Oh and one memorable and never to be repeated fish dish – soused herrings!  If we made cake or pastry everything had to be weighed first and then put into glass dishes which were placed in front of the mixing bowl to be used as and when the recipe directed.  At the end of each session she would give us instructions for the next week’s ‘creation’ and a list of ingredients to bring from home, although the cookery department had a large pantry and we could buy basics there. On one occasion in a total change from norm, I remember we made faggots. This involved the use of pig’s flead – an inner fatty membrane which resembles a net curtain and is cut and wrapped around each faggot.  An unforgettable experience for most of us and not in a good way.

Of course cooking has dramatically changed since my school days when traditional English dishes were considered the norm.  As a schoolgirl I watched Fanny Cradock on the box. She dressed as if she was going out to dinner. Full make up, fancy frock and jewellery which seemed totally at odds with what she was there to do.  Later I remember Graham Kerr The Galloping Gourmet arrived with natty cravats  and occasionally a bow tie. He always used to sample the finished dish he’d been cooking and the look of ecstasy on his face was another of his trade marks. And finally wine lover Keith Floyd, the man who  took us beyond British shores, treating us to new and exotic dishes from all parts of the world.


It goes without saying we love our modern TV Chefs too. Cooking is now for everyone. In fact some guys are excellent cooks. You only have to watch Master Chef or The Great British Bake Off to see the great food that’s produced. It’s a far cry from the days of Fanny Cradock with the faithful Johnnie hovering at her side. I sometimes wonder what she’d make of it all today and whether she’d approve of men taking over the kitchen. In all honesty, given her temperament, I think not!

Today we enjoy experimenting with new recipes. Supermarkets and stationers’ racks are full of cookery magazines. At home I have a large collection of cook books ranging from Mediterranean – Greek, Spanish and Italian – as well as Indian and Chinese. Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith also feature as well as my ‘bible’ The Good Housekeeping Cook Book.  Each week I do try to include at least one new recipe.  Yes, it’s not all about writing!

Many thanks to https://www.pexels.com for the photos

Holidays, Update, Writing

MAY UPDATE…

The end of May is here already. How has that happened? The month has sped by, despite the way life in general has shrunk due to Covid-19 rules and regulations.  So what have I been up to? I’d love to say I’m enjoying getting back to normal life but unfortunately that’s still a way off.  In the meantime, I’m listing my May milestones 

 

Follow up with Consultant: Carried out over the phone. I’ve made a good recovery. I’ve healed well, am eating well and exercising regularly. It’s all good news but there will still have to be regular checks. 

 

An opportunity to travel farther to exercise: Yes, I know I think we could probably have got away with this earlier, but we played by the rules.  Now the daily walk has extended to a couple of local villages where we park up and take a walk.  The warm weather has been a real bonus.

 

Holiday: Our trip to Norfolk won’t be happening. Instead the travel company have allowed us to switch to another date in 2021 and we’ll be charged 2020 prices. Sad not to be going back to Wells Next The Sea (this would have been our third stay here since 2007) but it’s given us something to look forward to. I know a lot of people are keen to get away but until they develop a vaccine holiday experiences, like shopping are going to be vastly different and maybe not so enjoyable.

Birthday: A very surreal experience this year. Normally we’d be out celebrating either together or with friends. Instead I cooked and OH bought some bubbly. Not sure even if restaurants had opened up I would have enjoyed it, given the social distancing and other safety measures that have to be put in place.  Still there’s always next year to look forward to.

 

Writing Now: Cover finalised. A big shout out to Jane Dixon Smith for yet another fabulous cover!  Manuscript away with editor. Formatting booked for later in June. 

Writing What’s next: I have a partially written novel which I’m proposing to resume work on once I’ve taken a short break.  Watch this space.

 

 

Until next month, stay safe everyone…

 

 

 

Writing

Lockdown Life: What I Miss Most…

I left hospital the day before Lock Down began. For my last night I was moved to a Gynae Ward as they were making arrangements to free up certain areas to get ready for Covid-19 patients. There was only one other occupant in my six bed area, an elderly lady of 95. Small and frail she might be but she was very bright, texting her family regularly and chatting to me. I’d taken my iPad in so was interested to see what Boris would have to say in his ‘Address to the Nation.’ She was too and I shared the news with her and hoped that when she was discharged she would keep safe.

The world I had left on 18th March when I was admitted was a fairly normal one. On the previous Monday we had lunch at a canal side pub. One which is normally packed on summer days and evenings, with its gardens bordering the water. I think of it today, on this bright sunny morning, its doors closed, empty and quiet. The one I walked out into four days after my admission was a different one; quiet, with empty streets and few people around. My adopted city was already closing down.

Life for us hasn’t changed very much. As both of us are at home – me writing and OH taken up with work on his classic car – our daily routine has generally remained almost the same. What has changed is the inability to drive to a pub for lunch (a regular weekly thing) or take a bus trip into town to shop, catch a movie or go to the gym. Our road has a mix of age groups. There’s been an influx of young families with children as the older occupants downsize and move away. Although most leave for work in their cars each morning, some run businesses and work from home All now have the added task of home schooling. We only really get to see everyone (social distancing taken into account) on Thursday evening when the local papermill hooter sounds to call us out to Clap for Carers.  Currently our weekly grocery shop is carried out on line. I set up a regular delivery slot before I went into hospital, aware visits to the supermarket were a no-no with a weakened post op immune system.  So far it’s not been too bad. We’ve managed to work around the disappointment of regular ‘out of stock’ items and order alternatives. And then when they finalise your order there are the substitutions – 9 this week.  Eventually we’ll go back to our normal weekly supermarket visit, being able to choose our own food and get what we want.  For now, though, it’s safer to stay at home and wait for the man in the van.

But getting back to the title of this blog piece. What are the things I miss? Well the freedom to go where I want and do what I like. And those things I listed above – regular pub meals out. Meeting friends for lunch and dinner in town. Going to the cinema. Gym on Fridays. But most of all, and I think everyone will echo this, it’s the inability to make close contact with family and friends. I have a regular weekly chat on the phone with my sister and a long list of friends. I’ve not seen her since before my op and I know from my brother in law how worried she had been. That has been made doubly difficult by the fact I’ve been unable to see her since my discharge from hospital. To give her a hug and tell her the surgeon did a brilliant job and I’m okay. Our birthdays are within two days of each other – 16th and 18th May – and sadly this year we won’t, as usual, be able to have a meal together and celebrate. Friends too are missed. Before all this we had regular meals out and gatherings in each others’ houses. Now there’s just a weekly voice on the phone as we update each other on another passing week spent in Lock Down.

Having said all this, I do count my blessings. The pandemic has thrown up the fact some people are really struggling. Evidence of this is on the news and in the papers every day. At least we have a garden to sit in and open countryside within five minute’s walk of home. Despite the unwanted changes in our lives we are better off than many.

And the ‘wish fors’ once things have got back to ‘near’ normal?

Fairly simple things actually. Like sinking my toes in the sand…and taking a paddle in the sea. A cliff top walk maybe, enjoying the breeze in my face. A trip to Dartmoor or Exmoor stopping to take in huge breaths of fresh air and enjoy the landscape…and I’d love an ice cream. But more than that, the ability to hug another human being and to converse face to face without having to keep my distance. Although I realise the two metre rule is there to help stop the spread of infection, humans are naturally tactile creatures and it’s something we all must miss. Hopefully this coming Sunday there might be a little slackening of those rules…one can only hope.

Is there anything anyone else particularly misses during these strange times? If so, let me know.

 

Writing

A LIFE IN BOOKS…

It’s amazing that with all this time on my hands I’ve been less productive than usual. One of the things I’ve been aware of is the lack of posts on this blog. Although I’m working daily on my WIP, inspiration for topics for a weekly/monthly post other than my usual update seemed to elude me. And then this morning, I suddenly realised there was something I could write about. A Life in Books…

My first contact with any form of reading material was Noddy and Bigears. From an early age I used to attend church on Sunday. In order to keep me quiet during the service I was given one of Enid Blyton’s Noddy books. At the time it was all about looking at the pictures but it seemed to do the trick. Later Noddy, Bigears and Mr Plod became the foundation for my early reading years . Once at school I became familiar with Updown Farm, Old Lob the farmer and Percy the bad chick. During those years running up to moving to senior school, my reading was supplemented with a few of the children’s’ classics – Orlando the Marmalade Cat, Wind in the Willows, The House at Pooh Corner, The Secret Garden, Children of the New Forest and, of course, The Famous Five and Secret Seven. Certainly Enid Blyton was very much at the forefront of my reading experiences.

Moving on into senior school, I lost interest in reading for a while as popular music became my main interest. During those years there was the famous trial over D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover which had everyone speculating what exactly was so risque about it and how could they get a copy. My next memory is during my time in the 4th year (Year 10 in modern speak) when various editions of the Pan Book of Horror Stories circulated around the class. In my wildest dreams I can’t imagine why we were so taken with these gory tales. Shouldn’t we have been reading teen magazines instead? Apparently not. 

At college the talk was all about Edna O’Brien and her book The Girl with Green Eyes, which everyone wanted to get hold of. We all read it, of course and wondered what all the fuss was about.

Moving on to my working years and there are several well known books I can still remember reading. All of Daphne Du Maurier’s were a must – such classics! Susan Howatch’s Penmarric (loved this), Peter Benchley’s Jaws (I was working in Bristol at the time and during my commute everyone on the train seemed to be reading a copy), Coleen MuCullough’s The Thorn Birds (never could take to Richard Chamberlain being cast as Ralph De Bricassart – handsome yes but a little too old). And of course there has to be a mention for Catherine Cookson. My years working in a local authority typing pool brings back memories of how popular she was with the girls and women I managed. Then moving on to the 80s there was Shirley Conran and Lace and of course, Penny Vincenzi and a whole list of books to add to my TBR pile.

I’m also a fan of historical fiction authors. In the 1970s Anya Seton was one of my favourite reads. Moving on into the ’90s I discovered Phillipa Gregory’s novels. Wideacre, A Favoured Child and Meridon were the first of her books I read, before turning to those featuring the Plantagenets and Tudors. Following this I discovered Rosalind Miles and her wonderful Arthurian trilogy which put a totally different slant on the love triangle between Arthur, Guinevere and Launcelot. And of course I couldn’t leave out Wilbur Smith, whose novels of fictitious South African dynasties like the Courtneys included so much historical fact.

 

 

I think over the years I’ve shown to have quite a broad taste in reading. Currently I’m enjoying psychological thrillers as well as mainstream romance. I don’t really have a particular preference for any genre. It needs to be a good story, well written, with believable characters. See, how easy to please I am?

So are there any memorable books you have? Maybe still in your bookcase, or on your Kindle? If you’re a writer, is there any special author who has inspired your own work? Drop me a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear from you…