Friday, 11 July 2014

A Novel!

I knew that when I was gifted the summer vacation of nine weeks, that I would have to face the prospect of making a hard decision. It was a decision so many writers have to make in this changing world we write in, I had to decide if I gave up the dream of being conventionally published, and to go with the more modern idea of self publishing. Those two little words normally spell F A I L U R E to me - no offence to all those self published authors out there - including Fifty Shades of Grey author - whatshername!

I suppose once I sat down and decided to write the heart wrenching story of a young girl, growing up in Apartheid South Africa in the eighties, I dreamt that it would end up, sitting proudly on bookshelves, in Waterstones and beyond. I never envisioned so many no thank yous! Agents around the world declined the offer of representing such a work. So, the real, tangible copy, was not meant to be. Instead, after my first week off, I decided, Amazon digital download was the way to go.

My talented son, Luke, designed a beautiful cover for me so then I logged on, and after a few short hours, the book, in all its glory, was available to download for $2.99.

So now, I blog, tweet, Instagram and Facebook to the world - It's here - it's available to download - please take some time and have a read. I would love to know what you think, perhaps sooner rather than later - before I bother to start the next one! Can I write? Is it interesting? Did I manage to hold your attention? I truly would like to know your thoughts...

Thursday, 27 February 2014

2013 - Interesting year of change

So no posts in the whole of 2013 - is that because I had the most free time I have had in the last decade? Probably! It often seems to work that way, the busier you are the more you accomplish and vice versa.

The year started with my two oldest children moving away from home and on to London, both hoping to catch their stars. Followed swiftly on with me being made redundant in March. Not sure how that is supposed to make you feel, but after the initial blow to the ego, I started to look forward to doing something new. Managing the Deli had become a burden instead of a pleasure.

Well, I have to be honest, I had a fantastic six months off over the summer. I spent many days sitting in the sun, sipping a glass of wine or looking out at the ocean with a Peroni in hand. A dear friend had a hip replacement so what a brilliant excuse to play chauffeur and go pub crawling. Best summer I have had in a long time. No time was spent writing, but plenty of time was spent gardening, going to the gym, walking the dogs and eating.

My hubby started a new job away from home, so it took some time getting used to him away during the week as opposed to the weekends. I had gotten used to him gigging every weekend so it seemed very odd. No more gigging for him.

I did try my book synopsis out on a lot of agents though. No luck. After at least three rewrites, and many an enveloped stamped, I threw in the towel. It was not meant to be.

In September I took up a new job at a local College, part time administration for the Catering department - I can't seem to get away from food!

Once back in a routine my thoughts turned to my writing. A new story had started to take form and I have taken a number of months allowing it to take shape. I have spent a day exploring mid Wales, which is where it will be set. And am planning a weekend getaway to return there in the next month or two.

However, there is this niggle. My first book sits on my laptop, seeing no light of day. So before I can commit to my next novel, I am going to e - publish. I hope to have it all up and running on Amazon in the next few weeks so I shall keep you posted. My lovely son is designing me a cover picture as we I write this.

Change is certainly the thing we need to embrace the most. It is what happens to all of us, regularly, so we have to learn to move with those bends and turns in the road. The more adaptable we are the less stress we have in our life.

In the meantime - I am off to the land of Kindles, fonts and book jackets!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Summer Holidays

I am staring down the last two days of my summer holidays. Now we all know it's not really been summer. In fact it has been the wettest summer in the history of living memory. This however, was not going to be getting in the way of me enjoying my 18 and a half days of leave.

Luckily I had not planned to camp, caravan or mobile home, neither do I go away much, so no such arrangements or high expectations could be foiled. I enjoyed my time in my lovely house, in its medieval village, in the beautiful countryside of South Wales. I have gardened, decorated, spring-cleaned, enjoyed countless meals out on the deck (we did see the sun on quite a number of days!), read on my swing and even caught up my filing. Together with my friends I have had plenty of good meals and laughs, gone to the beach, shopped and even gotten to the movies. My youngest turned 16 and started her first Saturday job. My eldest handed in his final film for his Masters.

My husband and daughter Asha, spent the two weeks prior to my leave with family in South Africa, so we were thoroughly spoilt by their generosity on their return. Gifts, food, sweets and chocolates galore.

But certainly the highlight was watching the Olympics and the Paralympics. What a privilege to have seen them held here. The national spirit and energy of enthusiasm and encouragement has renewed my faith a little in humanity. And boy can Danny Boyle put on a show!

So when I return to work on Wednesday I know I will feel rested and relaxed, happy and contented. God only knows how long that will last? Perhaps till Wednesday lunch time!

PS. I can't ignore that my heart ached terribly in these holidays too. I held our hamster in it's dying hour and had to bury him the next day, I still miss you Esra.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Having an Opinion

I am not sure why, with all the outlets we have today, it is so hard to share an opinion.

Being able to express your opinion, on any subject, seems a near impossibility, without facing a firing squad. In fact, a recent voicing of my own opinion has led to a family feud. When we hear someones take on a subject, should we not only be allowed to, share our own opinion, but perhaps also enter into discussion about it?

Is this not how, historically, we came to pool ideas, create change and grow as individuals. If you see any opinion based posts on facebook or twitter, have you seen the immediate backlash these can have? How do we create a safe environment where all of us do not feel it is an attack on our character but rather a difference of opinion? Why can we not open ourselves up and discuss this in an articulate manner, with the sole purpose being to engage and share with one another? Is it really necessary to ignore a difference of opinion in order to validate our own?

I would love to be able to feel safe to share my views and thoughts on any number of subjects, but in fear of creating further offences, perhaps best not to on social media. But if not there, then where? If we give in to the pressure of others, then do we not lose our freedom of speech?

I would like to say a big middle finger to those who do not respect my opinion, who refuse to engage in a discussion, but alas, this will only lead to further offending!

Perhaps the key is to search inwards. Do I allow others to share with me, do I listen or attack? Am I a good example of a respectful 'opinion listener'? Probably not. I am as much to blame as everyone else. I hope to improve on this... perhaps we all could?

Monday, 2 April 2012

My first Novel

Sometime around the middle of last year, I decided that I wanted to write a book. I got stuck into seeking out a story to tell, went and sat in a coffee shop (aka JK Rowling) and worked out the chapter breakdown. Next I raced off to Ikea to buy writer office type things - including the obligatory blackboard and baroque mirror. My friends and family gave me much encouragement and then, finally, on the 5th of September 2011, I began writing.
I finished on page 279, five and a half months later. I felt like I had been in labour for the whole time. This writing malarkey was not easy. Being over forty does not help either. I had to make notes of everything! Names of all the characters, timelines, dates, the lists were endless.
Eighty thousand words didn't come very easily to me. The story is quite 'intense' (my husband's' crit!), it follows the story of two girls, one white, one black, growing up in the height of apartheid in South Africa. I did feel I wanted to tell the story to anyone who would listen, as I still feel many people gloss over what it was really like in South Africa, in Apartheid times.
Much of the story is based on my own experiences and others close to me. I only hope that after such a long labour, I have the strength to labour even more, finding an agent! Not so easy when working full time and still trying to run a home and family.
Many others are doing it well, and successfully, and to them (Rosie Fiore-Burt and others) I say thank you. For being an encouragement and a beacon of hope in the days, when even the lovely view from my office window, was not enough to push me further into the reaches of my belly and pull out the next chapter of my saga.
PS. Rosie's new book is Babies in Waiting, a must have!
I shall, no doubt, keep procrastinating over the necessary rewrites, before I start submitting to all and sundry. Please check in and see how I am doing.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

In the beginning .... no-one changes

In the beginning God created Africa.... 

I never believed I would ever leave South Africa, but eventually the foreign shores beckoned. Once a sense of justice prevailed in the NEW South Africa, I felt I could move on. In February 2002 my husband left to start building a home fire for us in his home country of Wales. I followed, 3 children in tow 13, 12 and 5, in the April of 2002. 

We have spent the past ten years building a home, getting used to the weather and exploring the wonderful history and culture of the UK. Externally EVERYTHING has changed. We now carry a few (ahem) extra pounds, some wrinkles and we live a life so different from our previous one that we no longer refer to it.

However, no-one ever changes on the inside. Perhaps we may learn to alter our behaviour to suit our new environment. Perhaps we learn that certain actions get better results than others, but I truly believe no-one ever changes. If you know someone, and they have changed beyond all recognition then what you saw in the beginning was not their true self. Perhaps it was kept hidden from you and perhaps they played a role or character they wished you to believe they were. People don't change. 

My career has changed completely - originally a Live Event Producer and Artist Manager in SA to a Manager of a Deli and PR Manager for a group of Restaurants. Fundamentally though, I am the same person. I wish I could bring some of my old behaviour back, but I have learnt that it does not fit in here. When I lie awake at night, I know who I am, warts and all.

All I ask is that we try hard, every day, to show our true selves. Leave the acting to the John Simms of the world.