I’ve got great hopes for 2020 and a new decade. A lot happened to me in the last decade and a lot of it was tough to get through so I’m hoping for an easier time ahead. Well, I can wish!
The good parts of the last decade were the writing successes – completing three novels and starting a fourth, winning the Elizabeth Goudge award at the RNA conference, talking to people who enjoy reading and making such good author friends from all over the world. An additional three grandchildren to join the family and a little dog to run on the beach with me were blessings to enjoy.
The bad parts of the decade were cancer treatment and surgery twice within three years, fractured pelvis, two hip replacements and carpal tunnel surgery. Amazingly, I’m still alive and kicking and I’ll be happy to avoid further work even if offered a face lift for free!
To start thIs new decade, himself and myself will be moving half a mile and will be even nearer that beautiful coastline that you can see at the top of the page. A beach walk with Oscar is great for sorting out tricky characters and their tangled lives. After three months of renting, the move to our dream home next week will be extra sweet.
This pit village below is typical of a Northumbrian mining community in the 1940s The mining took place right in the middle of farmland and countryside
This photo brings me to my book news – I’m really excited about it! I’m writing a family saga in two parts and I’m halfway through the second part. My aim is to get it completed by summer and publish them both later in the year.
The photos below tell more about the setting.
I’ve been house hunting and it has really brought home to me how much some buildings have a real ‘air’ or ‘atmosphere’ about them.
Atmosphere. It’s not something you can tick off your list like a garage or measure like a garden but, forget the missing tiles or jungle of weeds, I think the ‘feel’ of a home is THE most important thing to consider before moving in.
I love to read a book where the home is part of the setting and atmosphere of the story. At the moment, I’m on holiday and I’m reading ‘The Family Upstairs’ by Lisa Jewell. I haven’t finished yet but the old house that Libby has inherited really adds atmosphere to this compelling tale.
My latest novel, ‘The Barn of Buried Dreams’ is set in a converted barn full of happy family memories but dreams have been buried there along with a lot of real life and emotional clutter until Erin and Heather turn their lives around. I love that barn set in the Northumbrian village of Dunleith! What a pity it isn’t up for sale!
I admire how the cover designer transferred these pics into the barn on the cover.
My house hunt has meant renting for a couple of months and there is a cosy, warm, happy feeling place we have found but it’s temporary with only our basic possessions around so it feels like ‘playing house’. I’m really looking forward to putting down roots in our new home in the New Year.
We have found a gem of a bungalow close to the sea that is large enough to have the family and has a study with French doors that open onto the small garden at the back. A large family dining kitchen was a must and an en suite was a bonus but the study and the peaceful atmosphere are what sold it to me. (I must add that the shed and plenty of off road parking sold it to Himself.)
We all have different priorities don’t we? My dream house won’t be yours and thank goodness for our differences. I wonder what would be on your wish list….shed or study?
I used to be a daydreamer and did not like planning too far ahead. As Robbie Burns said – “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
Why waste time planning? I was happy to go with the flow of life and see where it took me.
This approach served me quite well because I had a successful career in education and was happy with my laid back life.
A turning point came when this daydreamer came to earth with a thud. Cancer doesn’t care about whether you’re a drifting dreamer or a planner and when I found out I had to live with cancer and its treatments my dreams were crushed.
There was a lot I wanted to do and, most of all, I wanted to write but I might not have the time.
Along with the discomfort of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, I found my planning mojo. I had to plan to make the most of good days and prepare for the bad. As the treatment progressed relentlessly, running through my mind was the hope that I’d get as well as I could. Until then, I’d plan my novels and map out that writing journey I wanted to make.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Dreams and wishes were given a backbone by my plans. When I felt better, I’d learn the craft of novel writing, I’d learn to use social media and I’d learn about the publishing world. My plan was to be a published author and I’d succeed by taking steady steps to make a life long dream come true.
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
I can’t argue with Mrs R because I found this was true. My dreams had shape and, by planning, I made time for them.
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” ~ Alan Lakein
(Time management guru)
Friends often comment on how I’m less laid back nowadays and my time management is better. Once you face the truth that time can run out on you when you’re not expecting it, it’s easy to plan. So what if Robbie Burns is right and a few go awry? I’ve found that some of them will hit the spot.
Today, I’m a published author of the two novels you can see below, I use social media to keep in touch with readers and other writers and I plan to keep on writing for a long time to come.
Last month, after launching my book, I sat back and watched the number of books sold grow and the number of reviews increase. I should add slowly because it was great fun but a bit slower than I would want. I knew the reason why – I needed to promote further afield than my blog, my Facebook page, instagram and twitter.
I had to venture out into other people’s social media
My books are not in shops and readers have to go onto Amazon to find them so the only way I can promote ‘The Barn of Buried Dreams’ is by raising awareness that it is out there by using my social media platforms. To attract readers who aren’t already friends, I must venture forth and use other people’s media space by asking them to allow me to blog or asking them to review my book.
This is scary stuff!
It is scary because a blogger can say ‘No, I don’t want you on my site and I don’t want to read your book, either!’ This, for me, is a time when you call in an expert to ask for willing volunteers, create a buzz about your book and to arrange your tour so it goes without a hitch.
My book tour co-ordinator was worth her weight in gold. She sorted out 25 bloggers over 5 days who would give me an advertising platform. Some wanted read and review a printed book, some were happy with an ebook. Some wanted an exclusive interview, others were happy with an extract form the book or a blog from me. However, they all go their blog content via my tour guide and they could join a freebie competition too.
My tour was given this headline. You will see on the banner that this successful tour was run by the excellent, Rachel Gilbey
The bloggers accepted me onto their space and I enjoyed giving interviews, writing a post or revealing an extract from my new book.
I’d like to thank Rachel Gilbey and the bloggers on this poster for their hospitality and thank them for their thoughtful reviews about my writing. If you wander over ‘My Books’ The page shows some of their comments.
My giveaway, which was drawn by rafflecopter, is ready for send off and the lucky winner is Andrea Upton. Her goodies are shown below.
‘You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true.’
Richard Rodgers, South Pacific
I’ve written two novels ‘ A Jarful of Moondreams’ is out now, ‘The Barn of Buried Dreams’ is released in October and I’m part way through my third. Can you see they have a thread running through them? That thread is part of the tapestry of our lives.
You see, my novels are about the struggle and determination that we need to follow our dreams.
We have cherished dreams from childhood and yet more get added when we discover what it is that we yearn to do with our lives. We are great dreamers but we have to turn into doers too!
My childhood dream was to own a dog like Lassie or Rin Tin Tin. I was also an avid reader and thought that Dodie Smith had the best job in the world. Maybe, some day, I could be a writer with a houseful of pets?
When I eventually got my first pup, in my mid-twenties, she was named after a character in my favourite Dodie Smith novel. I know what you may be thinking, but no, she wasn’t called Pongo or Perdita! Cassie’s name came from ‘I Capture the Castle’. She was my wonder dog.
It took a lot longer to call myself a writer and I’m still working on the ‘successful’ part of the writing dream.
I think following our dreams gives us a zest for living and achieving them is icing on the cake. Hold on to the icing on the cake comparison because it will reappear!
Last month, we travelled to France and spent a week with Pauline and Allan. Pauline loves to grow her own fruit and veg, she loves to cook and sewing gives her real pleasure. How can she possibly be related to me?
Pauline and Allan moved to St. Estephé in France last year and now she is growing strawberries to make jam, picking cherries to make cherry brandy and brushing up on her French. She has a sewing room for making her patchworks. Allan has a workshop in the barn to refurbish furniture and a ride on lawn mower to tame their acres of land.
They have both worked hard throughout their lives, faced tragedies and experienced set backs but they have never given up on their joy of living. Doesn’t it take courage to sell up in England and start life in a new community to follow your dreams? They took the plunge, and I have never seen this pair looking happier.
Another exciting trip was to support my youngest sister who is working to make her business dream come true.
Urban Cakehouse -unique, contemporary, unconventional cakes -started up in her kitchen and she is getting it up and running while working and running a household including three teens, a husband and a dog.
Lisa has a PhD and works within the NHS but has always loved to be creative. Her dreams of being an artist have veered more towards cake and this is where the icing on the cake comes into play. I was so proud to be at her ‘Cake meets Canvas’ exhibition at the Fly tower in Sheffield.
Dreaming is easy but putting a dream into action is damned hard work. Both Pauline and Lisa have to put in the hours and make sacrifices to do what they love while considering their families. It does not always go smoothly and it is risky to follow a dream but they think it is worth it and so do I.
I don’t dig the soil, sew the cushions or bake the cakes; their dreams are my nightmare! I just lounge back on the cushions, eat the cake and listen to the chatter and use it at times to draft the stories of women struggling through day to day challenges and doing their best to make their own cherished dreams come true.
If you’re a doer – take time to dream and if you’re a dreamer – take time to do
‘The years spin by and now the girl is twenty, though her dreams have lost some grandeur coming true. There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty before the last revolving year is through.’