Thursday 28 June 2012

Gather Thee Rose Buds

 As you will know, I spend a portion of my life at the wheel of a bus. Another portion is dedicated to general mother hen coop behaviour and a huge floral purple chunk is lavished on Romance writing. This has always created problems of identity and to some extent fear. In the back of my mind was that one day I would be driving a bus load of rugby club stag night revellers and that one of them would have read my book and would seek to discuss that naked outdoor scene. 

Lord  Lucan
And so it was that I did something rather naughty. Normally such things bring me pleasure but today I have to confess. The photo on my website and blogs was not me. I bought it from an agency and I have no idea who she is. Of course, she is not beautiful and sophisticated like me - although a goodly number of anonymous gentlemen have been very drawn to her, seeking friendship and small amounts of money for their plane fares. If you look at the photo today - yes - that is me. In the end I figured that since in a year I had not met any drunken stags who had read a book, I had been worrying about nothing. When I wrote the book and brought it out, I had no idea what would happen and knew nothing about modern publishing. Sending off stories to faceless editors was easy and for all they cared I could have been Lord Lucan. In fact, I think that would have been a great gimmick.

 Putting all that aside, something quite remarkable happened to me. I was invited to join an online literary group of writers, reviewers and publishers. Going under the title "", they have been in business for a year and aim to showcase and support authors and readers for mutual benefit. They held their first literary festival 'A Summer Audience' at Tetbury on 16th June. I met some fantastic and energetic people. At the end of the session they announced their choice of new authors - and I was one of them along with Ali Bacon and Carol E Wyer. This was a big WOW moment for me that dwarfed the responses of my passionate heroines. Being chosen is such a great thing. Everyone was so welcoming and I felt wanted straight away. Whatever happens in my writing career, this will be a top moment for me.  To see my author page on their platform click here.
The Love A Happy Ending Team

The group is an astonishing mixture of styles and genres. There is everything from crime to spiritual healing. Until now I have had very little exposure in the UK and I look forward to joining in all the activities of the group. I would like to thank all the guys who fixed the food, arranged all the logistics and made the day so enjoyable. I'm hoping to introduce some of the elements of publishing that I have learned the hard way by marketing in the USA.  Everybody loves a happy ending. 

Emma thinx: The happiest endings don't. 

Thursday 14 June 2012

Floatin' My Boat

Fountain Rescue team
Now - England I love you. When you played France in the Euro footie I cheered you on against the vile foreigners who had raped our soil in 1066. When you rain day after day my summer away I love your verdant meadows, your joyful car floating monsoons. BUT - please can I go home now? Barbecue and sun lounger prices drown and you know that some CEO will face the axe because he misjudged the sun cream uptake profile. 

Emergency barbecue supplies must get through

But - do I complain? Well, actually yes - I bloody well do! I damn near floated my bus today and if it had got much worse I would have had them all singing "For those in Peril on the Sea". Mind you it's a great hymn. I often reflect on my own past and my innocent days in school assemblies singing with joy about pilgrims and swallowing the grim pills of sin. I do not believe a word of it now, but the songs sing themselves on in my atheist, hedonist wine drinking, soft kissing, longing soul. I'm a spiritual philosophical mess spilled out like a pack of pristine playing cards onto a cow cud pasture of sweet ripe dung. And to make it worse....I've been a very naughty girl.....

The guys at Digital Book Today offered me the chance of a feature interview. For an hour I lay in a bath of ego while probing questions all about ME massaged my back. I felt so relaxed, I told the truth. They asked me what I wanted to stress in my work and I explained that mainly it was the sexual expression of emotional love. Yes - I can't believe I said that. Well, it's too late now.... Probably no one will read it.

I'm a bit of a slow reader. A few days ago I finished Bert Carson's book "Maddog and Miss Kitty". Now, Bert is a guy and I think this is the first time he's fought his way up the petticoat peninsula with a love story. I've posted a review on Amazon  but let me say here that this is a first class love story. It is not my own brand of bodice busting and lusting. It is a story of real life and its drifting misty sadness that eats our time. It is the triumph of love set against the tristesse of unexplored passion. It is not a Romance but the poignancy of its denial. I cried....and I know your heart will too. Enjoy your tears.  Here is my review:  

I first came across Bert Carson when I read "Fourth and Forever". I like the clarity of his writing which relies on the characters and their context to create the narrative power. The last thing I want to do is is to provide a plot spoiler so I'm not going to give many details. Essentially it is love story, more in the sense of the constraints placed upon love. It is also a story of lives searching for love and acceptance. An agonizing poignancy is provided by the sense of missed opportunity and young lives denied their chance both by society and war. Once again Bert Carson opens up the subject of the psychology of stress and focuses on the joy and problems of relationships formed in extremis. Warriors returning from war can never find those bonds which fixed them to comrades yet at the same time alienated them from the rest of society and even close family. At the same time conflicting tides within society itself deepened the isolation of the Vietnam Veteran. Against all odds, the main male character Maddog finds a personal pathway back to success, helping many others on the way. Equally, Miss Kitty fights her own path until eventually after many setbacks, destiny provides justice. It is a story of a blighted love but the triumph of the human heart. The book also carries four bonus track short stories which should not be viewed as any kind of filler. They are all pertinent to the theme of the book. My favourite was "The Medic". I am an admirer of Bert Carson's style. His books are easy to read and the story flows like a good screenplay. I am hoping that one day someone will spot the opportunity.

Maddog and Miss Kitty - For Amazon USA click here, for Amazon UK click here

Emma thinx: Why lie when the truth is such delicious sin?

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Beached Wail

It is that insecure first Wednesday. All in all life is good since I am alive and in France. As for the writing - well, I wish I could claim great success. These days it is very important for me to try to remember that I have been at this game since my teens. Sadly that is about 35 years. I also try to remember that the "writer" is someone other than my whole being. In here there is a woman who goes to work, talks to neighbours, shares lives with children and grandchildren etc etc. Once again I find myself  hammered by remarkably spiteful critics - all of whom arise from free book days. I do pose the question to myself that if I am that bad, would I be worth attacking with such vehemence? It  is all very much of a puzzlement to me. Why are there no readers who just kinda find a book OK, not bad, quite entertaining, undemanding but not life changing? If a free book is so bad that you can only face a few pages, why would you spend half an hour pounding it when it has not cost you anything and, by your own admission, you have not read it?

This problem of the free book critical wave appears to strike many writers. Dotting around the forums I find writers who were doing well until they went free but now have had to pull their books, change their names and titles. So far I still have more likes than not but it is something I am watching carefully. The real problem is that I do not think anyone involved in publishing knows where to go. I often feel like a complete innocent longing for those simple days when I typed out stories for magazines, sent them off and sold about one in five. At least dealing with editors meant that they made sense and knew their readers tastes. If they did not like the story they did not buy it. They did not waste time telling you how bad you were.  The internet and celebrity mags largely killed the print market for stories. The affairs of the stars trumped any invention of the old story hacks. 

And finally about reviews, recently I checked out Hitler's "Mein Kampf" on Amazon because I was going to buy a copy for a young student of history. A guy had done a puffed up (Aren't I clever) review stating the grammar was incorrect in the translation from German and had accorded the one star of his lofty judgement. The truth is that the the translation does a brilliant interpretation of Hitler's atrocious grammar. The guy was a murdering dictator - not a budding author likely to be grateful for a grammar lesson from the underlings who transcribed his rantings. I must be one of the only people ever to have been cheered up by Adolph Hitler.
Figures in an unwritten book

I still want to write but the writing always gets shuffled to the bottom of the pile both by the business of life and to some extent the discouragement of it all. The same story wanders about in my head but will not form. They are like strangers on a huge beach, unknown to me, always walking away with backs turned. They have a life and a story in their faces. I took a picture of them on my local beach....

Emma thinx: Relax: all the sand will run out long before the time.

Monday 4 June 2012

Postcard from Saint Savinien Sur Charente

Postcard from Saint Savinien
Just as I was thinking that I could live with the idea of being properly English, I arrived back at my home in France. I feel unpatriotic - like one of those reviled rebels who do not stand up for the National Anthem. I want you all to know that I do stand for the anthem. I also stand up for the Star Spangled Banner (I have family in the USA) and for La Marseillaise because I love France and it is a great song. I know I should be in England for the jubilee - but here is my home and I can only come when I can get away from the bus.

And now for the big big question. I have French guests for dinner on Wednesday and I want to serve something very English. I am tempted to go for Sausage Toad - otherwise known as Toad In The Hole. It is delicious of course, but I cannot think of it without flashing back to factory canteen self service queues. Toad, beans n'chips fed Britain when we were Great and still made our own clothes pegs. I do smile at the idea of enormous fuel guzzling ships carrying huge containers from around the world filled with plastic clothes pegs. There must be some mistake. I'm sure that somewhere all this waste, greed and exploitation results from some simple mistake.

Going back to the meal, I am always a bit worried when cooking for French folk. At the breast it is common for infants to ask if goat's milk is available with a little more ground pepper s'il vous plait. They are born as gourmets. The other problem is a translation .."Crapaud Dans Le Trou" does not quite do it somehow. All the same I'm gonna go for it. I'll put the recipe on Pinterest.

Rebekah Booked
Being home in France I have entirely lost the will to talk about anything momentous. Back in the UK all manner of show trials are shaping up and the entire police force is now working on Rebekah Brooks and the affairs of Mogul Murdoch. These folk are an unapproachable  social class to me but I do feel sorry for her. When we get a bit closer to the self righteous legal carnival I will wade in with some Blistering Sistering. All I will say for now is that when my lawn mower and bike were stolen last year, a police officer phoned to ask me if I knew who had done it. Since I did not, the case was closed. Hundreds and hundreds of cops are trying to nail one woman who might or might not have known about some celebrity phone hacking. It will cost millions - and who will pay? OK - you have guessed - you tax paying powerless non celebrity suckers. I do want to say that if you watched the Whitney Houston clip above and know her tragic story, - just remember that the "gutter press" attacked again and again the drug barons and hacked their phones while the police were sitting on their on hands. 

Rebekah Brooks would wince at being called comrade....But Comrade/Sister Brooks - we do know that this a show trial and for what it's worth I am on your side as a woman and as a dispossessed News Of The World reader.
Don't rush
Bridge over untroubled water

Big sky postcard day to take home
Venice - eat your heart out

Step This way
Roof and River

All I really want to do is share with you some images of my lovely town of Saint Savinien sur Charente in France. In this case public money has been spent on guys who know how to cut stone to create beauty. France is still a land of tradition and respect for the artisan.  The local mayor, Monsieur Jean-Claude Godinot is something of a visionary and has set about building works to make the place a joy to the eyes. A clumsy 1960's concrete "Brutalist" old folks home blocked a view of the church. In the UK we would have had 10 committees, 4 bishops, a professional atheist, a protest group, a pro group, an undecided liberal/green coalition and two public enquiries. Here, we have one man, several earth moving machines and a vision. All the old folk were re-housed properly by the way. In less than a week, the view was restored. If you want a holiday or a break in France you should put this place on your list. Take a look at the photos of ce village de pierre et de l'eau.

Emma thinx: Let not the weight of Law extinguish the light of Justice.