Category Archives: Books

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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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!

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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!

Summer: the season to read

 

Love, life, laughter

and all that is in between.

 

The days have become longer, the sun is shining-mostly!- and there is a chance for some downtime. Downtime makes for a cracking opportunity to catch up on reading. From the graphics above, you can see that there is something of a diverse range on offer. There are the two gardening books, one romance novella, a two novels and series of short stories.

With June and July, the growing season becomes apace. If you have more courgettes than you know what to do with, or really want to know about Aloo gobi-that’s spuds and cauliflower, then those are for you.

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Retreating to Peace and Postcards from Peace are my contributions to the Peace Novella Series. A stable of different authors awaits if you fancy having a look at the rest of the series. With RTP, Devan Coultrie arrives in Montana with something of a broken heart. There is follow up in Postcards as we get another look into his life.

Fragments is a great big of six inter-related stories as it considers what happens when we lose the people- and animals-that shape our worlds. Kangana sees Gorbind-he appears in Fragments-have a no straight forward romance. There are also snatches of Birmingham, with Lucifer from the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery making an appearance.

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All of the books are available on Kindle and in paperback.

You can clink on the sidebar,

or go to the Books page to get your copies!

 

And don’t just take my word for it.

Strength of a Seedling

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Over the last few days, I’ve been checking the heated prop for seedlings. There’s a mixture of cayenne, cucumbers and tomatoes in there, so quite a variation in potential germination. This does mean that I end up fishing things out every now and again as I see green leaves. I don’t have many tomatoes just yet. I think I have a handful of wiry, somewhat leggy seedlings. The one above, looks reasonably happy and healthy for the time being. It has been named Tom by the baby sister.

Sowing seeds in pellets is useful; I don’t make a mess with compost and run the risk of Mama F’s wrath over muddy floors. However, they do have a tendency to dry out in the heated prop. I’m not sure if that’s down to the pellets themselves or the ageing heated prop. It’s certainly been cranky this year.

I am also feeling  very protective of seedlings, with there being a regular window-sill shuffle. As the weather changes, tomatoes and chillies do have a tendency to curl up and keel over.

In other news, it’s happy belated birthday to Sow, Grow and Eat: From Plot to Kitchen. I’d quite forgotten, but this book-the green one-is now three years old. This was the second of the gardening books. Well, it is part GYO and part cook-book. A third, is a work in progress. It sits on my desk, waiting for my to have the mind-space to finish it. It has been on  my mind lately, and I daresay there will be an attempt at some point to get it together. Sat here typing, I am eyeballing the cook book folder, wondering what energy and focus I need to commit my thoughts to paper. The pens, sit near by, poised to pounce. I wait for the tipping point, the mojo to dive straight once more.

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As mentioned above, the book is part GYO, part cook-book. There are recipes inside for jams, jellies and preserves made using plot produce as well as the home-brew that has been made. It does rather go well alongside the yellow one.

Tis the season! Growing your own Ebooks

 

The first week of Spring, and there is soil beneath my finger nails. Well, there was; I’ve cleaned up and sit here writing. I’ve enjoyed pottering around the plot today,  I remembered how much colour the plot brings to my life. I also remembered, just how much I’ve learned in the decade of growing my own.

Growing your own is not a new thing. It’s been happening since the middle ages, but the rise of allotments has really put it into a sharp focus. As has the spotlight on eating healthy, getting exercising and knowing where your food comes from. Three things that when you have an allotment really are part of the whole process of growing and eating.

You don’t even have to have an allotment. I started my gardening journey with plant pots in Dad’s garden. Container gardening was a really good foothold in learning and experimenting.

This blog has documented every inch of learning and experimenting. Much has been supplemented by talking to allotment neighbours, not to mention gardeners and allotmenteers across the universe. Documenting on the blog was certainly one aim. I also wanted to share my learning and experimenting. I’ve made a few mistakes, and I guess communicating these to others has some benefits.

As such, two ebooks have borne out of this blog and offer another avenue for encouragement and support. They are also available in paperback.

Plant pot tales.

UK: http://amzn.to/2bdMdBB

US: https://amzn.to/2U0DUSa

Canada: https://amzn.to/2Y9z982

Sow grow eat

UK: http://amzn.to/2bdLro6

US: https://amzn.to/2unaLSt

Canada: https://amzn.to/2Wg2tIj

Postcards from Peace: release day! #PeaceSeries

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Here we have it!

Postcard from Peace:

A Peace Series collection

is officially live on Kindle!!

 

 

Click on the image above and download your copy. Don’t forget to join in with the facebook event as well.

Kangana: A diverse romance

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We’re all familiar with Bollywood movies; it is after all multi-million dollar industry with blockbusters that enthral millions. Many of them are romances of a kind. Yet when it comes to fiction, contemporary literature, diversity in romance is still a bit grey around the edges.

Don’t get me wrong, Mills and Boon-Harlequin by another name-has an armada of different nationalities. Many of the characters are Greeks, Italians, there might a few Russian Oligarchs, British Aristocrats and a few American Lieutenants and Medics in the mix. I don’t remember seeing many-if any-characters of Indian ascent; perhaps I missed that part of the library shelf, I don’t know. I  dovknow that I saw a gap, especially having written Retreating to Peace: A Peace Series novella.  The main protagonist, Devan Coultrie, is of a mixed heritage, but without him, I wouldn’t have even contemplated writing Kangana.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to books with characters from BAME backgrounds. There are authors from BAME groups. I remember seeing Bali Rai’s (Un)Arranged Marriage in the library as a teenager. I grabbed it, read it, and was overjoyed that it existed. I was amazed, that an author from BAME background existed. I’ve also experienced reading Meera Syal’s work; she is a national treasure, I tell you. Meera Syal and Nina Wadia are probably the most recognisable women of South-Asian ascent in the British Media and should be celebrated for their contributions; they certainly motivate me.

The pool of diverse authors is small, but does exist. I guess, that is the pool that I have inadvertently fallen into. Be it by background, be it by what I have chosen to write.

I don’t class Kangana to be the same as Bollywood movie, I’m loathe to even call it a bollywood romance. It’s difficult to put a label on it, but I would say it is diverse. It contains characters, narrative and experiences that are had by characters that we don’t necessarily see on the typical library, book shop, shelf.  The setting isn’t exactly New Delhi,  Mumbai or Bangalore either. The book opens in Midlands, there are references to the BMAG, Sarehole Mill and also the Sea life centre. After all, I am a Brummie Born and bred. There had to be a strand of Birmingham in there.

So, there are some teasers below, the blurb too.

Why not try and read something different today? Kangana is available in both paperback and ebook. Links are on the sidebar.

Sometimes when you think you are falling for one person, you are really falling in love with everyone else around them too.
Gorbind’s family are his whole world, even if they are far from normal. His kid brother needs looking after and his Grandmother just wants him to find happiness.

His whole world changes when he meets Padmi. Life gets more interesting as she changes Gorbind’s universe completely. Romance with Padmi is anything but straightforward.

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The rainbow cover is very important to me, and really does reflect the colours on the wind. This is a book that attempts to address different aspects of diversity and the cover had to underline that.

Don’t just take my word for it either.

Postcards from Peace: Pre-order!!! #peaceseries

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In Retreating to Peace, Devan Coultrie moved kit and caboodle to Montana. Before long, he was joined by Aditi Rao. Their history laid the foundations for a rosy future together.

Devan now calls Peace home and his life has become eventful.

This collection of short stories sees his family visit, his romance with Aditi develop further and his dreams in Peace blossom.
Devan Coultrie’s life in Peace is a picture postcard with more to it than meets the eye.

Three and Six: the place to pause

As I approach the Spring Equinox, I’m taking the tine to take stock. Taking the time to pause, absorb the magic that hangs in the air and process how cycles are completing. Processing how things have changed a great deal in the last two years.

This week, is certainly significant and for a number of reasons.

As you read this, I’m either sat at my desk, fiddling with a pen and notebooks. braving the bracing wind and pacing the plot or snuggled up beneath a blanket with a book, Buffy or something similar. (As I type, I’m watching the box set of Endeavour…..so that’s more likely, to be honest.)

I’m having a break, a pit stop; a gentle rest, after what has felt  like a never-ending Spring term. I am also very, very close to the end of my training hours for the Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling. It’s a matter of touching distance and a handful of hours.

Cycles are definitely ending, new ones are waiting in the wind. There is a great deal of anticipation in the air, as something of a tipping point arises with the potential for forward movement.

Today, Tuesday 19th March, is two years since Fragments was published, since it went live on Kindle. As my first foray into fiction, this is a book that is very, very important. This week, also sees the release of book six and the journey between three and six , it completely blows my mind as to how it has unfolded.

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There is big difference between Fragments and the two gardening books, least of all because of being fiction and non-fiction. The two gardening books, are like sunlight on a page; they both bulge and burst with it. Fragments has a certain big, black grey cloud presence to it.

Yet, some grey clouds do have a silver lining. There is a silver lining to Fragments, it’s a thread that runs all the way through to be knotted at the ending. The ending of the book itself, and also where I am now with book six due for imminent release.  It was never my intention to write a heavy, hard going book. So I wrestled with working towards endings that felt appropriate for the narratives explored.

I had a vague plan for how Fragments would go, I used a grief model to have a skeleton and wove the plan around it. The model was important to me; I wanted to have something to pin the book to in relation to Counselling, my understanding and development at the time too. In hindsight, I know that fragments is filled with sadness, darkness and is brimming with emotion. On the other hand, there is light at the end. It’s a glimmer, faint, but it brews, blooms and becomes far greater than one ever imagined

Each of the six stories is important. The Anands, are a family of mixed heritage. Daniel and Caleb are a gay, married couple. Maya and Aldo, Michael and Sophie are two sets of parents who are grieving children at different ages.  Matthew’s bond with grandparent is broken, Albie copes with the loss of his wife and Chris is without man’s best friend.

These are real, everyday people that are all around us.

Fragments was book-ended by bereavements. One, occurred six months before I started to write, the second three months towards the end. At the time, that was a surreal episode of life imitating art, and I couldn’t write at that point. Physically picking up my pen at that point, was painful beyond measure. Writing Fragments was a fevered and frenzied experience. Each and every chapter was like a vivid day dream as it played out in my head and I used my pens to keep up. The whole writing process was a lot like directing and watching a movie; I might as well have had a camera in my hand.

There are two bits, I can imagine really very clearly on screen. Michael breaking up the nursery and Maya in the Ladies toilet. Even down to the camera angles, edit and panning.

In writing it all down, I got there eventually. I had to; Fragments was not going to be left an unfinished, twelve cylinder symphony. This was a book, that had to happen, had to be out in the universe. Not just for me, but anyone who might want to read it.

There is abject, absolute heartbreak in Fragments. If you read it carefully, you can probably read, see and feel the moment my heart goes crack from top to bottom.

The crack starts to heal with Retreating to Peace. By Kangana, the crack is gone and I’ve acknowledged where the bruises were. It has taken Postcards From Peace to buff the shine back and know the dents are no more.

All six books, move towards an unexpected silver lining. Books six, comes out on Friday. It’s no accident that this is around the Equinox, this is a phase change in writing of a sort. I will be writing, definitely. Just in a different frame of mind, I guess.