One of the most common spelling mistakes I see is defiantly replacing definitely. I don't know what makes a person choose "defiance" but it certainly makes me chuckle. It can give a sentence a whole new meaning, totally out of context with the style and subject matter, and one the writer probably didn't intend! As you know, I love words, so the uprightness of definitely as a positive and absolute word clashing with the rebelliousness and insolence of defiantly is sheer brilliance for me. I think we should hand them over to Harry Hill and let them fight it out ;)
Coast to coast
So... I'm reading a report that came out today which states England is now officially the worse place to live in Europe. Apparently we're very grumpy about our quality of life and the high cost of living and 1 in 10 of us is seriously considering emigrating to either France or Spain. We also have the lowest holiday entitlement in Europe as well as having one of the highest retirement ages. Fair enough, but I bet you something - if we actually had some sun during summer, we would probably cheer up. We're miserable because it always rains. The Index covers amongst other things actual hours of sunshine - and for us that's about 17 hours a year. Well, hopefully for this weekend, we'll score pretty highly! BBQs to the ready...
But seriously, I love our green and pleasant land and even though I've travelled about a bit, I always enjoy coming home - shafted or no shafted.
On the hunt!
I'm on the hunt for the only book I never finished! All I can remember is it's written by a husband and wife, Melvin springs to mind but that could be the main character or the husband's name, it has a mega long title (well, for a book) and it's teenage fiction. It didn't hold my attention and I only started it the day before I had to hand it back to the library. In those good old days when I was a youngster, there was no internet and no homework until you went to big (Senior) school and our local library was where we spent many a rainy, cold Saturday afternoon. I could easily have 10 books on the go and a reading list that went on and on and on. I wasn't much into tele but I loved reading!
As and when I find this book, I'll let you all know. I intend to give it another go. If I can read Lord of the Rings at the tender age of 11, I can certainly finish this one!
Butterflies from Cyprus
These are some of Colin's butterfly pics from 40 degree hot & humid Cyprus. He loves his macro photography and you have to have real patience in weather like this! The SLR was struggling in the heat but he did pretty good... Some of these will appear in a book featuring Cyprus butterflies - coming out soon.
Lesser Fiery Copper - hard to catch with its wings open but what a treat when it does.
Swallowtail - majestically floats around you, teasing you. One of the butterflies we have spent time observing and studying in Portugal and strangely it appears to be interested in humans.
Lang's Short-tailed Blue - the male is about to pounce to mate with the female.
Eastern Bath White - nomadic butterfly, barely settles on a flower for more than a second. The biggest photographic challenge of the trip.
Grass Jewel - the smallest butterfly in Europe and not much larger than a fly.
Meeting real authors
I've been asked to talk to Year 6s about being a writer and author back at my old Primary & Junior school in Warmley, which is really exciting. Some of my old teachers still work there, one of whom encouraged me to get a story published at the tender age of 6 (Mrs Thomas - aka Joy Parfitt - but she will forever be known as Mrs Thomas to me) and another (Miss Nichol) who helped us make our very own books for a school project - books I still have! It suddenly dawned on me last night that I met some real live authors when I was about 11 and kept a diary of this - hmmm useful research... Pat Hutchins, Ruth Brown and the legendary Dick King-Smith all came to our school during what we aptly dubbed "Book Week". We also had a wacky talk from one of Quentin Blake's friends (illustrator for Roald Dahl) that I remember fondly. He was pretty off the wall - and so were his trousers! At the time, I do believe I thought it was Quentin Blake himself, but that would have been too amazing.
Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy
One of my holiday reads was Scarlet Feather by the incredible understated talent of Maeve Binchy. She takes everyday life and makes it compelling with a wonderful cast of characters - whose lives weave in and out of each other - and the endearing Irish atmosphere. On the face of it, this is a book about a catering business. She starts with something as simple as that and turns it into a charming, utterly captivating "I cannot put this book down" story. She reveals so much about the characters through their own dialogue and paints just enough of a picture through her descriptive text. This combination keeps the story moving and more importantly keeps you hooked! What I find fascinating is the way she unfolds her characters before your very eyes and how she takes you on a journey with them - usually a steep and unyielding learning curve. Take for example the 9 year old twins Maud and Simon. You utterly detest them at the start when they are stuck up little brats, but gradually through their actions and words and circumstance, you come to love them with all of your heart. In my humble opinion, this is what makes Maeve and her stories so great and I look forward to the next one!
It was almost a year ago when I was travelling with a group in Serbia that I received some sound advice from a Journalist (also travelling with us) at what was a critical time for me. I was in the throws of doing market research for Little Child to figure out where it would sit genre-wise on the book shelves in the real world. To be honest, I was losing the plot a little prior to my conversation with Roger. I'd written the book, I was still assuming the publishing industry was as it had been 15 years ago and I was struggling to fix my genre. I had a reading list lined up that I'd put together to help me decide, which consisted of a romantic suspense, a true life abuse novel, a couple of thrillers (one really fast paced, the other longer with many characters and sub plots), and two commercial fiction I'd bought on a whim because the story lines appealed to me - but I hadn't started yet. I wouldn't say I was doubting Little Child would sell at this point, but I was questioning whether I'd been too bold with the style and would it really appeal and grab people the way I'd intended it to. Roger said to me I should write for myself first and foremost and then consider the markets. If the story isn't coming from the heart, the end product will be stilted and artificial words on a page that no-one connects with. I'd always believed this and had written Little Child exactly as I wanted, so I guess Roger was just helping to reaffirm in my own mind that it was OK to be approaching this the way I was. He also said I'd make it in the end - and I did 6 months later. Thank you Roger!
1 week since Cyprus
It's been a week since Cyprus and I'm missing the champagne at breakfast, the truffles, the Geography cake (our version of Marble) and seeing the sun shining without fail everyday. I'm also missing being in the moment with no beginning and no end, all the days rolling into one, no obligations and no responsibilities except to sunbathe and dress up for dinner... It's almost like suspending life... But but but I have been writing and working on my website every day since getting back and I hope to keep this up! It's so good for the Writer's soul. And I love having cuddles with my puddy cat again plus welcoming our new addition to the family Snuffles the hedgehog. I haven't seen hedgehogs in the garden for 20 years or more! It's the only thing Misty can't eat so she doesn't know how to handle it. It's funny, but everyone was talking about how they'd missed their pets on the flight coming home, me included. She may drive me round the bend (like right now she's crashing around the bedroom whilst I'm trying to type this), but we couldn't live without them.
Firsts & the little things
As you've probably gathered from my News & Events page, it's been almost a double hat trick of Firsts for me and Little Child - the book cover, holding the book, book signing, book review and blog spot - all amazing stuff on this new and exciting publishing journey. And yes, I'm well aware I'm at the bottom of a very long ladder, but who cares! I've learned the hard way and over a long period of time that it's all about the little things. Be grateful and thankful for these because they WILL stack up and together contribute to your overall well being and happiness, and your sense of achievement. I used to set my expectation of myself and events way too high so was always disappointed. Now, I set that bar at a realistic and attainable height - and I'm never disappointed. And when I look at my book sitting proudly on the shelf, man, I'm chuffed to bits!!! I hope there will be many more.
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.