Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Absence note

Please excuse me this week... lots to be getting on with.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Sign Here

A large crowd is gathered outside Waterstone’s Carmarthen store. The last time I saw huge numbers of people outside a book store, John Barrowman was being mobbed in Borders whilst, a couple of doors down, there were queues round the block and bouncers keeping an eye on the hungry hordes waiting to meet Katie Price. Since I’m about to wander in to ask for my first book signing, the sight of all those people is a tad daunting. If only I’d remembered to get a Day-Glo makeover first.

Getting closer we see that it’s not Captain Jack Harkness or Jordan pulling in the punters, but Michael Jackson or rather a Michael Jackson lookie-likie, who isn’t actually in the store, but on a stage outside. Something to do with the Carmarthen Merlin Festival celebrating ‘the legend and lore of Carmarthen’s ancient links with Merlin.’ Eh?

I take a few deep breaths, get a pat on the back from Tom and, clutching a business card and a copy of Turning the Tide in my shaking hands, brace myself to do battle. ‘Yes,’ says Tim (forever known now as Lovely Tim) as soon as I’ve explained why I’m there. ‘It’s a great-looking book, beautifully produced and it’s mass market fiction. We’d be happy to arrange a signing. Have you done one before?’ My brief burst of elation collapses; this must be where they suss me out as being a complete novice and kick me out the store, but no, Lovely Tim is kindness itself. ‘Don’t worry,’ he says, ‘We’ll look after you. We’ll put you in a good seat and send you lots of customers.’

I feel like weeping with gratitude, but hold it together whilst we arrange a date:

Saturday 2 October 12 - 2pm Waterstone’s Carmarthen.

Fantastic! And huge thanks to Lovely Tim for making it so easy for me.

Painting is Totem Gymreig by Tom Tomos

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Sailing Against the Tide

One of many factors that made sailing on Veryan, our wooden boat, so interesting was that she was a very heavy boat with a very feeble engine. If the tide turned against us we simply didn’t get anywhere. This happened on one occasion just as we were trying to get into Bembridge Harbour on the Isle of Wight. It’s a harbour that the guide books say requires ‘close attention to detail’, but running out of horse power adds a touch of additional excitement. As the wind and a ferocious current tethered Veryan to one spot, Tom and I stood in the cockpit gritting our teeth against what felt like a full gale willing her to inch forwards. On the beach, just a few feet away, a little old lady and her dog, untroubled by the tide, stood in the sunshine watching us and wondering what the fuss was all about.

Life’s felt a bit like sailing against the tide, despite last week’s fleeting visit from the Good Luck Fairy. This morning we woke to the news that archaeologists have uncovered Britain’s oldest house. ‘Does it have a ‘For Sale’ board next to it?’ asks Tom. It certainly feels as if we’ve been on the market for eleven thousand years. But whereas we’ve also woken up to the fact that the only way to sell a house in this part of the country is to take a savage price cut, many vendors are covering their eyes, ignoring the financial warning signs and thinking they can hold out for the full asking price. Until everyone gets real, no one in the current housing market is going anywhere.

Whilst not exactly sailing against the tide on the writing front, I’m certainly aware of conflicting forces. Writing the next book whilst promoting Turning the Tide is a bit like being helpless with morning sickness whilst watching a small child cross a busy road. It’s frustrating, too, not to get the promotional chances you’d hope for. Our nearest Tesco is tiny and, at this time of year, entirely geared to holiday makers. It’s hard to park and hard to shop – unless you want sun tan cream, barbecue food or a bucket and spade. A few local items do creep in, designed to attract the tourists, so why not include a really lovely holiday read – ie my book?

I put this to Tesco, after all it’s available online from them here, and had an email back saying ‘I am sorry to hear that we have not yet dispatched your books order. I appreciate how disappointing this must be for you’ and advising me to write to their Buying Team whilst making it very clear that the Buying Team probably wouldn’t write back. Somehow it’s just like being back on Veryan struggling against the tide!

Anyway, before you think I’ve turned into Mrs Moany-Moanisson, I was reminded again of how very fortunate I am when I read Joseph O’ Connor’s Once Upon A Life in this week’s Observer. He concludes, ‘If you have enough to eat, and a safe place to sleep, and nobody wants to kill you or take you from your family, you are among the most fortunate few of a troubled world, and you should never forget your sheer luck.’ Too true.

Painting is 'Two Pebbles in a Landscape' by Tom Tomos

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A Good Day!

Today...

1. My daughter, Rose, was offered the job she really, really wanted.

2. My sister had an offer accepted on the house she really, really wanted.

3. I was awarded a Distinction for my OU Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing.

With 55 mins of the day left to run, I'm quitting whilst I'm ahead!