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Independent Bookshop Week 19 -26th June 2021

Tomorrow starts the beginning of Independent Bookshop Week and I FULLY support ALL bookshops for all the below mentioned reasons. But, I have to mention as an indie published author, it’s such a shame that some bookshops seem to be so reluctant to support local/independent/authors (in my experience). As a previous reviewer for the Historical Novel Society, I have reviewed many indie published novels in my time, and some of them are heads above some mainstream published books without a doubt. I’ve just read a book from a VERY famous author and whilst the ‘story’ was good, the typos were numerous and yet because its been ‘mainstream published’, then hey! it appears to be acceptable … not! Come on bookshops, please read & take as you find, indie or mainstream regardless! https://indiebookshopweek.org.uk/ 

Catch up … May 2021

Its been a while since I last blogged, no excuses, apart from a new job, the ongoing pandemic & a little bit of new writing! Yes, I’ve finally, almost a year after the publication of The Secret of Creek Cottage, put pen to paper (or should I say, fingers to keyboard!) and begun to write a follow on from my debut novel.

So, what can you expect? … Still the same wonderful landscapes of Cornwall and some new characters (as well as a couple of old ones). For those of you who have read The Secret of Creek Cottage, you will follow Lamorna Nance into the Second World War, and well, who knows what that will bring!

You may remember that on the first page of my debut novel were the following words – ‘The supernatural is the natural just not yet understood.‘ – Elbert Hubbard. This set the tone for the rest of the book as its pages unravelled the twists and turns of the lives of Will & Loveday Nance & Kitty & Ben Gridley, their lives unknowingly intrinsically entwined.

And here’s the teaser for the next book …

A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read.’ – Talmud.

Excited? … I am.

In other news, the above photo was taken this week when I stopped off at one of the five libraries in North Somerset where you can take out or reserve a copy of my book. I am a HUGE advocate for libraries and champion their importance when I can, so this visit to the For All Healthy Living Centre on the Bournville Estate in Weston Super Mare, truly meant a lot. Not only is it available in North Somerset but also in eight Cornish libraries.

And finally … I’ve just finished reading the first two chapters of author Stacey Halls new book, Mrs England, and I literally can’t wait to read it in full. Naturally, I have already pre-ordered! I loved The Familiars & The Foundling but I think this is going to be her best yet. You can preorder here.

It’s not finished yet … Bookshops, social media and the power of reviews.

Old Cornish Ways

I wanted to talk about a few things now we are almost four months post publication. One could be forgiven for thinking that all the hard work now stops, where actually, it’s only just begun. For an independent author the promotional work is as much or as little as you are prepared to put in and I’m not going to beat about the bush … it’s hard work. Getting bookshops interested in your book to start with is a huge task and the independent bookshops are not necessarily any easier. Do not think that because they are local and independent they are going to want to support local authors and stock your book. There are many reasons why, and I won’t go into them here (it would take far too long and be rather boring), but having positive reviews does help. Never underestimate the power of others words and the impact they can have. Generally, decent people don’t write bad reviews, but when you publish a book you are ‘putting yourself out there’ with your baby that you have nurtured and loved for many, many months. It’s brave and it’s tough.

Come on bookshops ~ support your indie authors.

Do I have any tips from my own personal experience? I am still working hard … building connections through social media and contacts. Think outside of the box. Approach libraries. Use the press and other literary outlets. It goes without saying that whatever avenue you decide to use as an independent/self published author (using a publisher or going it alone), your book has to be the very best it can possibly be. Traditional publishers of course don’t always get it right, how many of us have discovered typos or other mistakes in books from big publishing houses and well known authors ~ the difference here though is that they are forgiven. As an independent author, unfortunately, most of the time this will evoke a shake of the head and some ‘tutting’. But hopefully things are beginning to change. Self publishing gives you more control over your book and the finished product, producing a book that you can be really proud of. Don’t be under any illusions but do be brave and take that step … it’s hard work but it only makes the journey more rewarding.

Latest review on Amazon & Goodreads, from Linda Camidge – Trustee & organiser of the Penzance Literary Festival – big thanks!

The Two plots are very skilfully managed with no awkward strands left hanging.’

An enjoyable and well rounded book: The ideal holiday read, perhaps, for a wet day in a Cornish holiday cottage.’

The Secret of Creek Cottage ~ published 10th July 2020 by SilverWood Books

The importance of libraries

UK Libraries Week

Yes! It’s currently #LibrariesWeek

My love of books and reading was no doubt aided by visits to my local library as a child for weekly story time sessions. I vividly recall the sweet smell of the polished wooden floor that somehow mingled with a musty smell at the same time. I now know that the victorian building was built in 1914 by Sir Frank Wills in the Edwardian Baroque style and its impact was great even on such a small child. My favourite author when I was young was Enid Blyton and I lost myself in the Famous Five books following the adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne & George and of course not forgetting Timmy the dog. I believe books are for all and I am proud to say that The Secret of Creek Cottage will soon be available in libraries throughout North Somerset and Cornwall.

Men An Tol – Nr Madron, West Cornwall

Men An Tol – Holed Stone – Nr Madron, West Cornwall

I recently revisited the Men An Tol, but this time with a slightly different perspective. It is still otherworldly, with an atmosphere that quietly slips under your skin and at times takes your breath away with its energy. You can feel it under your feet, smell it in the sweet smelling gorse, see it in the weather beaten trees and the low growing heather. At this visit I was visualising it through the eyes of Loveday having now published my book, The Secret of Creek Cottage. What was spookily eerily was that the hedgerows were scattered with spider webs, just as Loveday had seen in Chapter XXVII – ‘The sun was low but bright, searching out all the cobwebs in the hedges that had been spun overnight, highlighting dewdrops which glistened as though left by the spiders to entice flies into their lairs. Nature was a wonderful thing’.

As I walked the same stony path that Gribble Gummo & Loveday had walked in Chapter XXV, stepping over the granite stone, cattle style stile (theres a mouthful!) and into the field where the standing stones waited, the mist was low and tangible, wetting everything that it touched. I could not have picked a more perfect day for atmosphere! If you are ever down in West Cornwall, I highly recommend a visit.

The stones are thought to be from the Neolithic or early Bronze Age era, making them approximately 3,500 years old. It is highly probable that they were at some point part of a stone circle. Grid reference SW 426349

Words Alive

Sunday 30th August 2020

As the sun began to slip behind Shepherd Delight clouds, 266ft above sea level, a small group gathered upon an Iron Age hillfort in North Somerset to share poetry, prose and the love of a good story. Organised by Michael Loader – 4 Communities, 3 Trees, 1 Hill Green Arts Wellbeing and funded by the Arts Council Emergency Fund, we listened to an eclectic mix of readings from Dylan Thomas to poems written by a participants eight year old (she’s now 24!). As well as sharing one of my own poems, I read an excerpt of chapter VII from my debut novel, The Secret of Creek Cottage, where I introduced one of the main characters from 1916, Loveday Nance, as well as the Cornish Droll Teller (Story Teller), Gribble Gummo. It was a magical evening and we were guided down the hillfort at dark by the almost full Harvest Moon.

Lovedays’ Cornish Nettle Tea

Urtica Dioica

Loveday’s Cornish Nettle Tea

Stinging Nettle/Common nettle/Leaf nettle

Urtica Dioica

As you will know if you have read the book, Loveday was partial to a good old cuppa of nettle tea. An acquired taste you may think, but coastal and country folk would make do with their surrounding flora in many ways, from medicinal cures to food and drink. The Cornish also make a delicious Yarg cheese that is coated with nettle leaves and is very yummy!

Nettles are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and are high in Vitamins A & C, as well as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and Potassium. They are earthy in taste and similar to spinach and best eaten when tender from early to mid-spring.

Make sure you wear thick gloves when picking and pinch the tips of the young leaves.

Lay on a tray to wilt or wash in hot water (once wilted they lose their sting).

They must always be cooked (never use them fresh in salads).

Crush leaves, add water then steep for 5-20 minutes depending on personal taste.

Add a squeeze of lemon or/and sugar if required.

A sprinkle of magic.

Drink no more than 4 cups per day.

Check with a Doctor or Herbalist if taking medication to ensure there are no interactions.

Side effects can and sometimes do happen. Always test a small amount first. Be sure to only pick what you need from nature and also that you are sure you know what you are picking.

Loveday Nance

Trunrowan

Cornwall