Daisies, Blue Poppies and other Flights of Floral Fancy

I am excited to announce that I will be working with Blue Poppy Publishing to bring #Daisy to a discerning audience. Who am I kidding? There’s no need to be discerning. Blue Poppy focuses on local authors and was founded by Ollie Tooley who was one of the historical novelists that I chose for my advent calendar last year. Do check out the Blue Poppy website and like their Facebook page. Publication date is set for November 2018. That may seem like a long way off – please tell me it is a long way off – but it means that I have a deadline that is considerably before that. I am going to need to up my production rate.

I have finished off a chapter this weekend. It had stalled because I was unable to identify which Bideford house one of my main characters worked in in the 1890s. It’s a novel, does it matter? Ah but it mattered to me. I have finally worked it out so can wax lyrical about the cream bricks and arched windows phew. You learn so much researching historical novels. I now know when telegraph boys started using bicycles and what the stair well in front of the servants’ door is called. I knew that anyway but had a crisis of confidence and needed to convince myself. A quick speed read of 96 pages of my battered copy of Upstairs Downstairs (yes they were books before it was a 1970s TV series) and I was vindicated – despite a certain amount of scepticism from a fisherman of my acquaintance.

Also on this weekend’s agenda, a research report for a client. To be honest, genealogical research for others is a very small part of what I do nowadays but this has been a fascinating case. There are reputed murders (several), actual murders (one), separations, confusing stage names and the longest service record I have ever seen (61 pages), complete with the soldier’s temperature chart.

DSCF3888Then it was the village garden and produce show. I always try to get involved in community events. The cooking classes were clearly a non-starter. I hadn’t had time to create something crafty. As my garden is a wasteland, being as it is mid re-vamp, plant and vegetable classes were challenging. Fortunately I could fall back on my herb garden, which was made-over last year. So second prize for a posy of herbs, or Tuzzy-Muzzy as we say, I’ll take that. I am sure I should be Daisy writing rather than blog writing so that’s it for today. I wonder if I can get another chapter finished amongst two talks to present in two days and the return of the job we must not mention.



More Writing, Nature’s Wonders and Family History Events

dscf3381So what has this week brought? A hedgehog joining the two frogs who are crazy enough to inhabit the scummy indentation that passes for a pond in my garden. Luckily this hedgehog was not actually in the pond, though others of its species passed that way, with unfortunate results, before I inserted an escape route. The garden revamp is progressing slowly. I have (that would be the royal I) reclaimed three foot of garden by decimating the privet hedge. I have also had fun creating a nature book for my descendants. I seem to have photographs of quite a number of unidentifiable plants and birds. The latter are mostly waterfowl that do not feature in my not-so-comprehensive ‘Birds of Britain and Europe’ book. Do the authors not know how inconvenient this is?

Writing, of various kinds, has been featuring highly on the agenda. I have been introduced as a forthcoming columnist for the In-Depth Genealogist. Do take a look at what they have to offer. I’ve drafted the first article for my column, which will focus on the work (paid and unpaid) of women. The plan is to alternate between household tasks, home-working and work outside the home; I’m looking forward to it. My Telling Your Family’s Story course for Pharos is into its second week and I’ve already had one online ‘chat’ with an enthusiastic band of participants. Just wish I had time to write up more of my own family history! The course is being re-run in February and Pharos are already taking bookings. They have also begun to advertise another of my courses Discovering Your British Family and Local Community in the Early Twentieth Century. You can sign up for this from anywhere in the world, although the focus will be on British research. If you are local there are still places on Devon History Society’s Nineteenth and Twentieth Century One-place Studies course that I am leading on 18th October. What else can I get you to sign up for? Oh yes, a trip back in time to the 1600s on October 24th. This is ideal for family historians wanting to know more about seventeenth century social history and for families. It will be a great chance to encourage your descendants to engage with history and heritage – there will be armour to try on, pikes to wield, Master Christopher’s treatments to avoid…… A number of you out there (unbelievably, more than one person and a dog read this blog) have said you’d like to come but you do need to register or the organisers will think no one is interested.

Thanks to Exeter Authors’ Association pointing out that my books are available on Amazon.com, as well as Amazon.co.uk, I decided that I needed to create an Amazon.com author profile. Annoyingly you can’t just transfer the one from .co.uk. More technological challenges, especially trying to make my RSS feed (had to look that one up) appear on .com, which you can’t do on .co.uk. By the time I’d done this there was little time left for actually writing anything. #Daisy is expanding but I will give details of that another time.

I must also mention the excellent Devon Family History Society conference last weekend. There was music, there was cake – always a good combination – there were chances to meet friends and browse the many displays. The speakers, Nick Barrett and Dick Eastman, were excellent and really made us think about the future of family history. The future is bringing your family to our event on 24th October!

Mostly about Writing #authorsinacafé #pigeongate

Take three authors, a promoter of books in Devon and a pigeon, mix them with the excellent menu on offer at Bideford’s Late and Lunch café on the quay and you have a recipe for #authorsinacafe. It’s official, I am now involved in a writers’ support group. We aren’t quite sure exactly where we are going but at least we have started from here. The general idea is to provide mutual encouragement,  promotion and support, as well as a break from talking to ourselves and our characters. By coincidence all of the authors, as well as two others who we hope will join us, have an historical slant to their writing but we may branch out from there. Special thanks to Ian Hobbs of Devon Book Club for taking a morning of his holiday to join us. Oh, the pigeon, I hear you enquire. Being on the riverside, café goers are used to protecting their paninis from the ravages of the seagulls but this time a wayward pigeon was tempted by the gorgeous muffins on offer. He flew in from the quay and alighted on a table. He obviously picked the right one as the resourceful occupant competently grabbed the offending bird and deposited it outside, amidst resounding cheers. I once did something similar with a bat – long story.

dscf3202All this meeting and chatting with other authors is a wonderful way of procrastinating but I really have made some #daisy progress; honestly. First a foray round some impressive Victorian villas, trying to identify which one my character may have been working in during the 1890s. Once again I find myself peering at people’s properties, taking notes and photographs and arousing suspicion. It seems that the name of the house concerned once applied to several homes and then in the twentieth century referred to a different dwelling entirely. There really should be a law preventing people from changing the names of their homes. Of course the bottom line is that, for the purposes of fiction, its doesn’t really matter which house it was but actually it so does. Now off to write 100 times ‘I can pretend it is any house I wish’ but it still matters! I have roughed out a chronology and done some more research to extend the biographies of some of my characters and since you asked 3500 – ok, I know that isn’t much but I have been very busy sewing shifts for Swords and Spindles (there’s got to be a tongue-twister in there), being auditioned as a WI speaker, despite being in my fourth decade of giving talks, writing biographies of local World War I service men, I could go on. It was when I ‘spring’ cleaned the bathroom I knew I really was procrastinating.

Not writing but reading – Inexplicably, my electricity tripped out at 3.45am. I managed to grovel for a torch and padded off to investigate. The trip switch would not reset. You may be wondering why this is a problem 3.45am is clearly not getting up time, even for me, so why not just go back to sleep. Quite apart from not wanting a freezer full of food to disintegrate into defrosted mush, the only way I can get to sleep is to read; reading requires light. I debated using the torch but feared for the battery life and decided I really needed to preserve that for an emergency. I wandered off to get my Kindle (other e-readers are available). I then realised that it does not illuminate without the very handy case that my offspring kindly gave me for Christmas, so out of bed again to fetch that. By this time I was further from sleep than ever. I did have Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington that I had appropriately been saving – bad plan. It is gripping, page-turning, well written but sadly not sleep inducing. It took daylight to eliminate each fuse in my fusebox in turn in order to identify the offender; this accomplished, power was restored and I could begin my day. I was reluctant to save Sophie until tonight but places to go, blog posts to write.