Taking a breath
I'm astonished to see how long it has been since I last updated this blog! A year simply darts away, with every-day nothings crowding out all the things I thought I would do. Any-way, here we are: October again.
The last twelve months have seen the sale of our much-loved house in Matching Tye, Essex and a move to Shropshire to be closer to our adult daughters. The town we now live in is relatively small, but it is positively metropolitan in comparison to life in an Essex village and has taken some adjusting. Only recently have I begun to feel settled, although I still feel a little sad at times for the loss of Matching and the life we enjoyed there.
Life is, however, a journey and everything new is to be valued. On the upside, I now have a study in the house and so will remain toasty warm in the Winter, unlike the state of affairs last year in the converted garage. So now that I have stopped wallowing in my home-sickness, it's time to get back on the proverbial horse and get writing.
After much dithering and several attempts to get my YA novella, Like Water traditionally published, I have taken the leap and self-published it through IngramSpark and Draft2digital. Several friends and family dutifully bought it (thank you!), but there have also been some astonishing sales. According to my IngramSpark reports, in amongst other sales, I have actually sold seven copies of Like Water in France. While seven copies isn't particularly impressive, the `in France' bit is quite exciting and just goes to show that you never quite know what will happen until you actually take the leap. And, because I am learning that shameless marketing needs to be constantly applied, here is the link on Amazon.co.uk:
(It is also available through Waterstones, Apple Play, Kobo, Nook etc)
So onwards and upwards to the next projects. I am working on a children's novel about a troll as well as an adult novel based around the East African slave trade, which I first learnt about when I was teaching in Oman. Different to the West African slave trade, the East African trade focused more on women and was in existence for longer than the Atlantic slave trade. It is an unexplored setting about which comparatively little has been written. Alastair Hazell's book about Zanzibar, The Last Slave Market is quite an eye-opener. (It is available on Amazon).
In addition to the prose, I am working on a poetry collection that focusses on the natural world - and sometimes, the mess we make of it. One of the poems in this collection is about fly-tipping, which, to my mind is one of the most odious habits of a privileged society. This is how it goes:
Ode to a Fly-tipper
They’re hard to track –
Those that leave a scattered spoor
Of Starbucks cups and sheddings of Maccie-D’s.
Just passing through – it’s what they do:
Leave their scat in country lanes,
The scant offerings
Of little brains.
They’ll be the ones who say
They pay their taxes any-way,
And coffee cups morph to bigger things:
Rubbish, rubble, mattresses and stuff
Spat out in fields and country lanes –
The leavings of those little brains
And a geography that cannot join
Someone else’s lanes
I feel really strongly about fly tipping - it seems so unnecessary in a country with suitable amenities. Maybe the cost and damage of fly-tipping should be taught to school children as part of a wider drive towards appreciating the natural world.
But I digress.
I leave you with a video of the pigeons making the most of the rain on the flat roof outside my study window. While we are rendered miserable by grey days, the pigeons seemed to be having an excellent time! (If I was a bit more tech-savvy, there would be accompanying music - but I'm not.)
May all your grey days be excellent too.