All posts by horticultural 'Obbit

Chronicling the mis-adventures of a would be allotmenteer. Author of 'Playing with Plant pots: Tales from the Allotment' Available on Amazon in ebook and paperback http://amzn.to/1UvWUkb (paperback) http://amzn.to/1QRgVBZ (Ebook) Full buy links at www.horticulturalhobbit.com/books

Bookish: Road to #Birmingham2022

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From Telford to Birmingham:

A book-related adventure.

I’ve been thinking about this post for a some time now; particularly how to put into words. This is altogether nerve-wracking.

Well, here goes.

In July 2022, the Commonwealth Games will be just about to kick off in Birmingham. As such, this has inspired a multi-genre gathering of authors from across the world. One of them, just happens to be yours truly. A gathering that is scheduled for the heart of Birmingham, yards from the Floozy in the Jacuzzi, in the Birmingham Council House.

The journey, this bookish road to Birmingham, starts in Telford in April 2020.

That’s less than six months away.

How did this all start?

With a short story. And nerves. Lots of nerves.

I was ecstatic to be invited to Birmingham 2022, by fellow local author Martin Tracey.

I met Martin, in a pub. The Gunmakers Arms in Birmingham, actually; I was reading there, so was he. That was my first ever public reading-Postcards from Peace, Devan’s Halloween Story, I’ve never been so scared in my life-thanks to A.A.Abbott, her Tippling Tales evenings are brilliant, and well worth attending.

(I’m back there tomorrow! Get tickets here.)

Immediately, as you can imagine, excitement and anxiety collided. This would be one a massive, historic, multi-genre event. A first for me. It was, and is, a huge step as an author, and Indie Author at that. I set about thinking; how could I make steps towards this big event, to raise my profile and actually reach people?

I have no idea if people read my books, unless I pester them! The dreams of having a fan-club, are exactly that. Being somewhat eclectic, the book back catalogue is somewhat diverse.  There is most definitely something for everyone.

I thought about it, and took a chance. Was there an event, that I could do in the mean time? Turns out there was. In Telford; sooner too. A good opportunity to build a profile, and reach readers.  This was Shenanigans 2020.  The link for tickets is below.

Shenanigans 2020 tickets

There are a couple of locations, currently being investigated, for pit stops in the middle. Birmingham 2022, will hopefully be something of a homecoming, in that respect.

The key thing, the most central to all of this, are the books.

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As I type, I’m preparing book seven. The teasers were done yesterday! This is my third instalment for the Peace Novella Series. All being well, this will be out there for everyone, by April 2020.

As an Indie Author, reaching readers, is a key. This means that reading and reviewing is incredibly important. That moment, when you randomly recommend a book to someone, helps that happen. Even if’s a one line review, even if you only add a couple of stars.

 

Here is my interview with Punam Farmah

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Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

Hello! I’m Punam Farmah, 35 and middle-aged.

Fiona: Where are you from?

I’m from Birmingham, England. A Brummie born and  bred

Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

By day, I am a teacher and counsellor. I teach Psychology and humanities, and as counsellor I get to work with and meet lots of different people. Born and raised in Birmingham, I have two very supportive siblings and two fabulous parents.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

Earlier  this year, I published my latest contribution to the Peace Novella Series. This was a collection of short stories, and I am currently working on the next instalment. As such, I have inky fingers. I am also one of…

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Plant Pot tales: the seeds of an idea

From blogging to beyond.

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Four years ago, around about tea time, I pressed publish. What I was publishing, self-publishing that is, what Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the Allotment.

I was bringing to a close, work that I had been doing over the summer. At the start of that summer, I had decided to write a book. I had no idea, what to do or how. The plan, all very vague, was to build on what I had written for the blog.  What I wanted to do, was to share via another platform, everything that I put on the blog.

I felt, more keenly than anything, that was I was about to do, was useful. That what I had learned, experienced and recorded would be valuable to others. I also like books. I am and always will be, a bookworm. Books are magical, they serve an infinite number of purposes and have an infinite number of effects.

What I was also doing, was taking my first tentative steps toward being an author, being a writer. That’s something that I’m still trying to get my ahead around. I’ve yet to put that on my CV; I feel like an impostor. It has taken me ten years to feel like a fully fledged teacher, I have no qualms about saying that’s what I do. Declaring myself a writer, an author, is just as hard as saying I’m a newly qualified and registered Counsellor.

Plant Pot tales was published via Kindle. The whole world of Indie publishing is still very new to me,  it’s an ongoing process to learn and process things. Plant Pot tales was a my gateway in, a baptism of fire. Without this book, I wouldn’t have written and published another five. After Plant Pot tales, there was Sow, Grow and eat. I had learned a fair few significant lessons before taking the plunge with that one.  Plant pot tales stands for so much, I’ve never fully appreciated it til now.

One of the best moments, was being sat there whilst Mama F told me her recipes. Most of what has been grown on the allotment has passed through her kitchen. I had to convert her conversation into a set of standardised instructions that could be replicated. Instructions that were both reliable and valid across time, location and population. In a word, these were recipes that could accessible, uncomplicated and bring some form of enjoyment to those using them. This was not supposed to be an onerous, over-complicated book to bamboozle people. There is nothing so off-putting as being over-complicated.

What I will never forget, is standing in the kitchen whilst flicking through the pages. It was the pictures that got me. I’d taken them all, used them on here for a blogging. I was developing an archive of images to support what I was writing. I don’t for one minute think that it’s a run of the mill gardening book. It’s part reference, part cook-book and that’s deliberate. I didn’t want to write a book that was the same as all the others; the same as all the ‘proper’ ones.

Not writing anything ‘proper’ or within expected norms, is a theme that carries on with all the other books. A theme, that does make it difficult to spread the word, promote and share the books. That is however, another story.

Plant pot tales has also travelled. It travelled to the US, where it was sold in a book store. Yes, a proper book store with shelves, people and everything. My book, was on a shelf. In a book store.

You couldn’t make that up, not really.

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30th July-Kindle Promotions!

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Commencing 30th July!

For a couple of days only, most of the book back catalogue will be

less than half price or free on kindle. 

Some of them are on

UK-based offers, others are global.

Make sure you get them whilst you can!

Peace Novellas: A summer read! #peaceseries

 

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It’s high summer, and a good time to settle down,

kick back and pick up a book to read.

Well, how about a few books, and to keep your thoroughly entertained?!

Set in the fictional town of Peace, Montana, there is a whole canon of novellas that will draw you into a world of riveting romance.

Written by an armada of different authors-me included!-there is something for everyone.

Most of the books are available from kindle, at less than a couple of quid for e-books. There are paperbacks too, and these are approximately a fiver a piece. Not bad really, for either an electronic library or paperback. If you have kindle unlimited, then I think some might be even be free to download!

RTPallbooks

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Yep, I’m part of that armada. I have two runners and riders in the Peace stable. The first is Retreating to Peace, and we meet Devan Coultrie. Devan travels to The USA  in something of a state, he’s after a new beginning and Peace is where he wants that to happen. Following on from that, is Postcards from Peace. Devan has settled into Peace, and here we get a snapshot of how his life has evolved.

If you fancy a copy of RTP or Postcards, the links are on the sidebar.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 4th Birthday!

 

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This summer sees Plant Pot Tales turn four.

Four years have passed since I whimsically said to my baby sister, “I’m going to write a book, about my allotment. It’ll be an e-book, but yes.”

She was encouraging, told me to go for it. So I did. So, started my journey as a writer. As such, I knew nothing. This wasn’t just a book, it was the start on going, developmental journey. This blog was the launch pad; I wanted to go beyond, write something that was real, a bit more three-dimensional.

I wanted to write a book!

Grabbing my pen, a notebook, I went about writing a plan. At that stage, I’d also written some guest blogs and so these were incorporated; I had things to write and shape. I felt good about it, I was genuinely excited. I still knew nothing, nothing about doing things properly when it came to writing and publishing. I knew nothing, about being an Indie author, and was about to take a massive great big swan dive into a very, very big pond.

I knew nothing about gardening either, well beyond my 200 sq metres of allotment. Okay, so the blog was my record, my repository and diary.  I also had-I still do- a fabulous group of gardening friends and family who helped me on my growing experience. I set out to write something of a gardening book, something of a cook-book. It also had to be honest; this was not going to be a fluffy book either.

(I’ve yet to write a fluffy book; I’m not sure I will ever, write a fluffy book).

And don’t call me or my writing, sentimental.

(That’s a whole other debate, and centres on the words of V.S.Naipaul.)

Mostly, I was winging it. I will in hindsight, plead blind ignorance. From the editing, the pictures, the formatting. Every thing was done as it came.

This book is not perfect, and I like it that way. Okay, so I’m still developing a thicker skin for all of my writing, but this was the first bit of my soul to be made public. It is flawed, there are mistakes all over shop. But I am proud of my mistakes, they make me who I am, who I might be and inform this on going journey.

I’ve cried over this book. I cried when I held the book in my hands, I cried over the reviews. That, is part and parcel of putting your soul out there. It is part and parcel, of being vulnerable and at risk of criticism. It is part and parcel of people passing judgement on others.

I’ve grown to respect the reviews-they are phenomenally important as an Indie Author. I won’t strong-arm, chase people down for them; but I do appreciate them. Each and every one, brings with it warm and fuzzies. It’s a surreal experience, the fact that someone is actually reading what you have written. Even more so, when they come at you with a copy. I once signed a copy during breakfast, whilst adventuring in Iceland for a conference.

I still haven’t got my head around promoting my books, blowing my own trumpet and adding bells and whistles to things. With every book, what gets me, is my name on the front. That, is what gets me every.time.

Writing and publishing Plant pot tales was a risk. I took a chance, didn’t think about feeling stupid, and I’m not sure I recognised my bravery. I don’t see my bravery, it takes me a good six to eight months to do that for most of the things that I do. With plant pot tales, it took writing another book-the green one-to make sure I hadn’t fluked things. What I was bracing for, and I guess I still am, is the risk and return of failure. I don’t remember thinking about failure-how’s that for bravado! It came to me after, once the book was out there, about Christmas time, and I had a bit of a ‘oh, Feck’ moment.

Most people don’t want a one star review. I think, I firmly believe, that it is out there. It just hasn’t found me yet. I’ve seen the two star ones; they’re on goodreads! I have two options when that one star turns up. One, cry-I probably will, I will probably rage, to be honest. Two, acknowledge it, accept that it is perspective of another, and that’s all there is to it.

The key with the latter, is not internalise and wipe out the courage that it took to take a chance. It’s an ‘Oh feck’ moment,  an ‘okay, so it tanked with you, but where do I go from there’ kind of thing. It’s a very much an acceptance and acknowledgement, that things may go to the wall from time to time, but that doesn’t define things. With that comes resilience; the ability to bounce back. Resilience, builds capacity. Capacity, builds motion. Motion facilitates growth and development.

All this, from a book.

(Not that I am encouraging you, dear reader, to go formulate and post that one star review…)

Plant pot tales is my first, it was the starting pistol to other books. Currently, there are aix of them in total, at the last count. Perhaps, I have lost sight of it; lost sight of where this journey started. With the book coming up for it’s fourth birthday, I’m trying to accept and acknowledge it’s importance. It is deserving, worthy of being held on the same par as the other five, promoted and shared. What I am getting at, is that I don’t want to forget plant pot tales. There is a real danger of me doing that, as my writing journey continues. I’ve gone from blogging, writing about gardening, through grief, to writing contemporary romance. I’m yet to pin down a niche, a genre, so the diversity is really important. In five, ten years time, I want to be able to wave plant pot tales around and say, look! I wrote about gardening, it’s also a cookbook.

On the 17th August, I’ll remember Plant pots fondly. I’ll remember that I did something completely out of the ordinary, and that I liked it. I will understand and accept that it is something to be proud of, something to share and it is out there. Plant pot tales has a place in the universe and I put it there.

Happy Birthday, Plant Pot Tales!

Chilli abundance

 

Us humans might not have enjoyed the recent heatwave, but the chillies certainly have.

This year has been a big year for me, when it comes to my chilli plants. For one, I actually have some! After such a long time away from meaningful growing. I did sow and grow some plants. There are less than a dozen, but these are tall, bushy and as you can see abundant!

It would appear that this is the most successful season for chillies; far exceeding the six that I managed to grow in the hot, heady days of 2009. That was the year I started experimenting with seeds and started my GYO journey. I’ve not had much success since then when it comes to good cropping chillies.

With the warm weather, I’ve been picking chillies twice a week. The most that I’ve picked has been about a dozen. If you think about it, that many would cost you about a quid in the supermarket. These are the most complex variety; this are rather straight forward cayennnes. It’s a big deal for me, to have an abundant crop and to be able to enjoy the fruits. My sister’s been given some, her mother-in-law too; Mama F’s using them as they come for bits and pieces in the kitchen.

Above all, this experience has been rather revitalising. I’ve really enjoyed fussing over my chilli plants and making sure that they are looked after. Especially as there are only tomatoes and soft fruit on the plot. I need to develop a better routine for the plot, to get more of the soft fruit harvested.

There is a joy in having vibrant, happy chilli plants. I do hope they keep going for a while. I’ve never over-wintered them, and the latest I get a crop is September. I will continue to nurture them; they’ve certainly nurtured me.

 

Roses; First Flush

 

It’s definitely summer; the rain has been coming down in sheets and for days. On the allotment, the tomatoes that I planted out are having something of a sulk. However, the gladioli that were sunk, are starting to shoot through. I still have fifty or so to sink, so that’s an action point.

And the other plot blooms are starting to kick off as well. For me, summer on the allotment is framed by the bloom and blossom of roses. There are well over a dozen bushes on the plot, and these have been developing over the course of years. Roses do not grow on quickly, they take time to establish. As such, I’ve had mine for some time, and summer always feel incomplete when they aren’t abundant. Abundant they will be if there is enough rain, heat and light to keep them going. Over the last week, there’s certainly been a lot of rain, which was prefaced by really quite glorious warmth and sunshine.

As you can see, I have harvested the first bouquet of the year. Compared to this time last year, this is really quite something. There was a distinct lack of roses last year, so I am somewhat buoyed to have bouquet of this size and quality. I don’t actually know what any of these are called; these are all lost label roses. There are those who have a small, neat bush-rose quality, as well as those that are sprawling, scrambler type roses. I know one of them is called Golden Showers, as these features in the middle of the plot by William Shakespeare 2000.

I’m not a stickler for perfection. All of these roses are unique, and I tend to cut them once they’ve been on the bush for a few days. Some rose bushes do tend to be more abundant than others, and I guess regular cutting is a bit like dead-heading.  Beyond that, I don’t fuss over my roses. It really has been a case of plug in play. Don’t be fooled though. As pretty as these things are, they have the most vicious thorns known to man, with some main stems as thick as your thumb. There were a couple of bushes that had been storm-damaged with main-stems snapped off. These were tidied up and staked with canes.

From time to time, I do think how much these rose bouquets might be worth in terms of pounds and pence. In terms of universal force and beauty, they are of course priceless; there is no value to how much they colour soul or demonstrate the power of the universe. These are home-grown, in the middle of the England; they’ve not been flown in or coddled to an inch of their lives. These don’t have air miles, so are unlikely cost half a kidney, I guess.

One of the biggest day-dreams that I have, is that if I ever get married, I’d like to take my allotment roses as bouquet. That does depend on A) getting married, and B) the event being in summer, well up to October. I guess a girl can dream!

I might have got a bit wet whilst going to harvest the roses…

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I’ve dried off now; I really did get a bit soggy. There’s a book waiting to be read, and the tail-end of Poldark Season 4 to watch. Writing still feels a little distant right now, but the pens are tingling. So you never know!