Category Archives: paperback

Judging a book by it’s cover: use clothes

I am more than a bit fed up. Fed up of seeing half naked people on the covers of books. In the last few weeks I have seen lots of new releases with covers that have left me wondering if the cover models are a bit cold. I must add the caveat that these are covers used by Indie authors. When I go through a library, look at the shelves, nearly all of the people on cover image are dressed. Even the Mills and Boon’s/Harlequin cover people are dressed. There is a very clear line in the sand really.

So what is my bug bear?

It was a timeline full of naked blokes, that was the straw that broke the camels back. Book blogs and tours, blitzes and things, are carrying the same images. Torsos and a V. Then there were the lingerie clad women.

The latter, would fall very much in to objectification. I think the former does too. We just don’t admit it; we can ogle and objectify women, but doing that to a bloke…well, Diet Coke break makes it okay but not objectification.

On a deeper, more intellectual and academic level, what do these covers say about societal perception of the genders?

Recently, the concept of toxic masculinity has been risen as well as what does it mean to be a male in modern society? Leading to how are men represented in media and the written word, what is it it we expect from the modern man. There is some element of men being charicatured by the covers and the content of books. Arrogant, well-built millionaires who sweep a gasping, well-endowed damsel off her feet. I’m genuinely cheesed off for the male of species; we build ’em up, we break ’em down, shift the goal posts. If you don’t match the dude on the cover, inside the book, the one in our imagination then you must be a bit wrong….

The damsel. The one that appears on the cover, half dressed with come to bed eyes. The damsel, that needs rescuing, might be up the duff and fights with her internal tension as to should she, should she not sleep with the tall, dark and brooding shipping magnate? (Yeah, how many shipping magnate, tycoons and billionaires are on the covers….with all that money, they might have posed in a suit… ) The damsel couldn’t possibly be dressed, we might not recognise her with her kit on and we don’t need to have three dimensional characters.  She must be attractive, pouting, and good for one, two, maybe three things.  What messages does this give to other women? If you are not like this, then you don’t fit, we don’t want you and neither does anyone else. You know you have to comply to a checklist and disclose your vital statistics, yes?

The representation of women on covers is equally heavy-weight.

(Another thing; I didn’t see many-if any-cover images of characters from BAME groups.  That is another aspect of debate.)

The bigger picture question remains the same.

Why do it in the first instance?

I get it, if the book in question is centred around mature/adult content, then sure it reflects what goes on between the leaves and the sheets as it were.

Can you imagine, if Dicken’s was rebranded in the same way? George Eliot for that matter. You have Madam Bovary, Lolita, and Lady Chatterley’s lover too.  The content is the crux, with a very sobre front cover. I really don’t want to see bits and pieces on the cover. I’m sure that until the print presses started steaming, most covers were plain.

You know, the answer is simple. Sex and Salaciousness sell.

Leaving nothing to the imagination, immediate rather than delayed gratification grabs and garners attention. It gets people talking, gets people writing blog posts. It get’s people saying ooh-er missis.

So far, only one out of four books has people on the cover.

rtpdoctored

My challenge was to whether or not I wanted a human being on the cover, never mind two. Whether or not they would dressed, that never crossed my mind. When it did, the thought made me feel altogether uncomfortable. Somehow, being half naked in Montana, might give these two frost bite.

It is also, not as easy you would think, to find BAME people for covers.

I like my cover; the designer is a legend and made it exactly how I wanted it to be. I could not have imagined a half-naked Aditi or Devan on the front cover; that is left for the inside. That is the bit, in my mind at least, matters the most. In comparison then to other covers, it is modest, muted and doesn’t hit you between the eyes. I would rather the content tugged at the heart strings and fired up your imagination, to be perfectly honest.

If you do want to ‘see’ a half naked Devan, he does exist.

Inside the book.

 

 

The pages are turning

Apologies for not being around. There has been a lot going on, not bad, I assure you! This has made gardening and writing a bit more challenging. The next few months are shaping up to be both interesting and busy, but I am still around, not disappearing or dropping off the proverbial radar.

Not sure quite what gardening or when it will occur. In the mean time, the ink pens are in action and writing projects are happening.

Just wanted to remind you, of the books and there are quite a few now! If you wanted a bit of advice and guidance beyond the blog, there is the ‘yellow one’ and the ‘little green book’ that will help make things a little less confusing.

And if you fancied something completely different and not in the least bit gardening related, there is Fragments and also Retreating to Peace. Links to your right.

All of the books are available in both paperback and ebook.

Retreating to Peace is a Peace series novella and has a selection of rather lovely stable mates. Be sure to check ’em out!

peacecovers

Forays into Fiction

In 2017, I made my first foray into fiction. Having written two non-fiction books about my allotment, this was something of a challenge in being very different. In all honesty, I really enjoyed writing both of the allotment books; there was a huge learning curve that really did open my eyes. I have learned lessons with each book, and hopefully continue to do so as things progress. No one book is perfect, and there is always someone who will offer you feedback to that effect. The broad plethora of writing out there, would suggest that you are never going to please everyone. Start with pleasing yourself, see what happens.

allthreebooks

That said, seeing and hearing people enjoy the allotment books is a wonderful experience. It is validation, yes. That something I have produced is out there, that it is being engaged with, and there is value to it.

There is a wonderfully romantic notion, that writing is easy; that writers of any description, do nothing but lounge around navel-gazing, smoking cigarettes, drinking tea and occasionally put pen to paper. I can tell you now; that is not the case, that could not be further from the the truth. I don’t smoke, navel-gazing does my head in, but I do like back to back cups of tea.

Then there is the idea of why write?

Well, why not?

There is just something about a pen, a notebook, a day dream and marrying it all together. All that day dreaming is of no use in the depths of my cerebellum; if released from there, it might actually have some use, some one might benefit from it in some shape or form.

I’ve been writing since I was fourteen, and on anything I could get my hands on with rather curly handwriting. Nineteen years later I still have the loose leaves somewhere, and I look back them with lovely, rose tinted glasses. Some of the stuff is in my opinion, altogether strange; however, I wouldn’t change it, I wrote it and for reasons only known to the universe. I still write Star Trek fan fiction; it was and is an wonderful immersion experience. Anyone who tells you that fan fiction doesn’t count as literature, could do with a broader scope on their bookshelf.

 

fragments

In previous posts, I have explored why I wrote ‘Fragments’. I wrote it because of family bereavements, because loss(in  many different forms, not just death) had become a big part of my world and I was trying to make sense of it. Compared to the allotment books, it is bigger, beefier and quite literally not so rosey. Don’t get me wrong, there are happy endings in there; I couldn’t bring myself to write abject, bleak, misery. What I wrote about was being human, or in the very least, trying to understand being a human and the relationships that we form. I’ll be honest with you. There are some parts of ‘Fragments’  that actually make me cry, and I wrote those bits! I can’t read them-I did, when crafting it, I had to force myself to do so-there are others, which make me smile, and I’m glad to have written as not many others might have.

With 2018, I am making my second foray into fiction. I have also broken my own self-imposed rule of not having human beings on the cover; so far, we’ve had insects and pastel art. This next foray, is continued diversification and into contemporary romance. It is actually rosy, unlike ‘Fragments’ so it does have some sunshine like the allotment books. Again, there has been learning; there has been further, very instrumental development and growth.

Over the last three months, I have posted bits and pieces about ‘Retreating to Peace’. I wanted to share the excitement that has been a big part of this project and how much that means to me.  Hopefully, you will have seen the teasers and things.

Yes, this is different. To gardening, to grief. Proper diversification, and then some.

Yes, you read it correctly; contemporary romance.

Romance as a whole, is huge! It is a big slice of the literature pie, the indie publishing pie as well.

Here I am, a minnow-a gardening one-in a big pond, with lots of established fishes.

I couldn’t tell you why I took this plunge. Only, that I wanted to keep writing after having finished ‘Fragments’. I must have taken one week, perhaps two, before stumbling across the Peace Novella Series.  This felt the right thing to do, the universe was sending me signals of some kind.

Plus, as with the other three books, what could I possibly have to lose?

There are some things, that as I was writing ‘Retreating to Peace’ were a big part of my awareness. Things, that have most likely shaped the production of it, and I haven’t really put them out there before.

First, I chose to write a male main character. He’s not that much older than me, he is taller though. Most people are to be honest. Plus, I didn’t want to write a swaggering Alpha Male who saves the universe whilst having a fragile ego broken by a heaving bosom.

Second, he’s of mixed heritage. I would not, do not wish to, label Devan Coultrie as a Person of Colour. That label sets my teeth on edge for a whole armada of reasons that I won’t go into here. I managed to shoe-horn Anglo, Indian and Scottish into development.

Third, not all romance is about rainbows and butterflies. I know, that seems an oxymoron, Thank goodness for Happy For Now.

Fourth, I spent my whole childhood watching Bollywood Movies. There are lots and lots of Bollywood/Indian cultural things mentioned in RTP. This is why, I took great pleasure in writing Devan’s Diwal story. Oh, and I have yet to find a would be Indian inspired romance. Trust me, I know who Meera Syal is as well as Anita Desai and Arundhati Roy. I may never scale their great heights, but a girl can dream, eh?

 

Fragments competition!

 

I am currently running a competition to give away two copies of the Fragments paperback. Each one will also come with a Petal’s Potted Preserve mug.

You can find the competition at the Petal Orticultural Obbit Facebook page.

If however, Facebook, twitter, instagram  are not your thing, then please comment on this post! Maybe even follow and share.

The competition closes at 10pm UK time on the 22nd September 2017. Both national and international entries are welcome!

Inside the leaves…not the green ones #Fragments

 

I rather cherish the memories of standing in Mum’s kitchen holding my own books in my hands. Each time, there has been a smile as to having worked hard and crafting something that I am very proud of and ultimately would like to share with others. I am not writing anything at the moment; my pens have temporarily fallen silent and are reflecting on new possible stories.

I am also involved in a project called the Peace Series That link will take you to the Facebook page. There is even an event that will hopefully plant Peace firmly on the map. My contribution is scheduled for release early in 2018, and is currently being polished.

There were plans to write a cookbook! Plans being plans, this is on pause; I will get around to that eventually.

For now, I have three books in circulation that I am genuinely proud to have written and developed. Two, are primarily to do with gardening and cooking; with this year being a poor year on the allotment plot, they are a reminder of good times, of fruitful times.

Then there is ‘Fragments’, which is my first foray in to writing fiction. This does not mean I have abandoned my green plot. Simply that I have decided to add an additional string and broadened my horizons a little more.

Bit of a heads up. This is not a fluffy book with hearts, rainbows and butterflies. It’s not a textbook either!

 

Above are a selection of passages from Fragments, these touch on the six different stories that are interwoven to paint a picture of how loss and bereavement may effect us. The people and their experiences are varied and diverse; I wanted to write stories that could be seen to reflect and represent the world around me and to some extent how I see it.

I like my book; I am however, very biased. It is seeing and hearing that other people have picked it up, read it and invested in it that truly makes me feel less biased.

You can find the ebook here . For paperback, click here.  If you happen to be in the USA, you can even walk into Pipe and Thimble in Lomita, California to buy a copy! The store is the only place on the globe that actually holds any of my books right now. That in itself is  a tad mind blowing.

If you do invest in a copy, of either version, then please share and leave the review. As a non-traditional, self published author, I am a cog in the Indie publishing world. Reviews help that universe expand, allowing books that we wouldn’t ordinarily come across become more visible. This expansion then allows myself and other Indie authors to be stumbled upon with our works being shared.

 

From ink to ebook

There are now three ebooks out there with my name on them.

You can find the links for them on the side bar and they are available for sale across the globe.

All three are also available in paperback, with ‘Fragments’ going live and properly in the next few days.

Fragments is fiction, with the two others being non-fiction.

 

#Fragments is now out there!

fragmentscoverpb

Over the last eighteen months, I have been working on this.

‘Fragments’.

So far, all of my writing projects have drawn upon the allotment and have been non-fiction. Writing about the allotment, was wonderful. I enjoyed it immensely; like the allotment, it was organic, gave me a huge sense of pleasure and fulfilment whilst teaching me some very valuable lessons. I am proud of the two gardening books, I would not have written them or unleashed them-yes, like The Kraken-if I didn’t think of them as having value or a be part of me, for that matter. There may still be further gardening books; I will never say never. I have plot cook book scheduled for later this year, so allotmenteering is still very much part of my world and the contributions that I want to make to the universe. (Thanks Humanistic approaches to counselling, I have been listening, yes.)

Fragments is a bit-well, very different. This is fiction, and my first foray into this corner of Indie publishing. The process has been an interesting journey; there were good days, bad days; the notebooks got hauled to Brighton, to Italy and to Lanzarote.

strawberry-wine
There are strawberries in that pic somewhere

I wrote whilst sunburned in the Canaries, whilst my feet were swollen having trekked to the  Vatican. I wrote, in between lessons at work and tutted loudly when told that my handwriting looked like Sanskrit. (I did actually laugh at that one, I was definitely writing in English!). I wrote, when the daydreams were so intense that I picked up my pen and let it have a mind of it’s own; I was not going to argue. (It’s a Parker Sonnet, and I love it. There are two, and Gods forbid anything happens to them.)

The book is currently available in ebook, and in the course of the next few days will be available in paperback. It is the paperback cover that you see above and with the blurb. You can click on the image in the side bar to get your copy. I won’t give you chapter and verse about what ‘Fragments’ is about-see above!

I even got arty and created the cover. A spot of pastels did the trick, and the image is called ‘Fabric’ of the Universe. The two gardening books, have creatures on them rather than human beings.  I am still thinking about having humans on covers, and I’m exploring this with upcoming works.

What’s next? As mentioned before, there is cookbook on the agenda. There is also the romance novella-Retreating to Peace-which is part of the Peace series and is another step in a different direction.

 

 

From #Gdnbloggers to #Indieauthor

August 17th 2016 was a rather important milestone. It was one year exactly since I pressed publish and published ‘Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the allotment’. This is the first of two books, and was the start of an interesting adventure.

#Plantpottales was the product of fevered writing, and a deep rooted desire to share what I have experienced whilst having an allotment. Based upon this blog, the book extends to some extend some of the learning that is documented in these cyber-pages. I didn’t write it to replace, but as an accompaniment. It is an additional source of information, that can be accessed and used.

I wanted to write a book, it seemed a challenge and a good thing to do! It call came from guest blogging, and with encouragement that is the legend https://mrplantgeek.com/ He is also the chap who indirectly helped create the #bollywoodgardener. Without his encouragement, I don’t think the book light bulb would have switched on. It was not easy to write the book, I had a list of ideas and wanted pictures. Throwing together is probably a better description, as I remember having all sorts running through my head.

There was distinct movement from being an allotment garden blogger to an indie author. I had never in the first instance, termed myself an garden blogger-yet this was another lovely group that I have found!-but it did make sense to me; I am blogging about a garden, it just happens to be an allotment garden. This is a dynamic linear development, I am still a garden blogger and I happen to now be an indie author. I self published,  don’t have an agent, a publisher; I am also still learning about the process.

Didn’t stop me from writing a second book.

There is a fantastic indie community, and if you are on FB, you can find their page here. Indie Authors and Book Bloggers They also have a website, http://indieauthorsandbookblogs.weebly.com/ where you can find information about this fantastic community. They have an affiliate magazine, that I just happen to be in this month http://pub.lucidpress.com/b9f1a33c-1afa-4708-b466-3811378f474a/?src=fb

There is also a cracking good garden bloggers community, that started via the twitterverse https://twitter.com/gdnbloggers and they have also been immensely supportive. There is also the gdbbloggers website where you can find further details.

To me, having self published two books is an achievement. It is something that I am very proud of, and want to share with anyone who will listen! I appreciate that not everyone is green fingered, not everyone wants to know about garlic and chilies; yet you never know. There was just something about holding a book with my name on, and knowing that I wrote it.

I remember walking passed a bookshelf in a well known book store, it was headed ‘Gardening’. To me that felt like a set of goal posts, and the thought in my head was that one day, I might get there.

It is however important in my head to keep a few things straight. In the first instance, I have written about a very niche interest. Gardening and cooking isn’t necessarily everyone’s cuppa tea. So that means that interest in the books might not equal or plumb the depths that heavyweight Gods and Goddesses of Horticulture. Second, Rome wasn’t built in a day-I have been there, I know-and writing is a process. Neither of the books is perfect, but I have given them my all, I will continue to do so.

There are further books to be written, I know there are. I am half way-ish writing book three; there have been struggles with that, I can tell you! At the moment, Book four has a cover image but no content, and that is likely to be a gardening book. Book three, is definitely not gardening and is something of an experimental work in progress.

I have enjoyed this journey so far, and I do hope that it will continue. And the key word is hope. Hope, as you never know.

 

Hello, Sunshine, where have you been?

tomato

If you ask my Mum, the tomatoes have been looking routinely quite sad. They needed watering, and they were cheered up with doses of haitch two oh as and when required. What was more important, was sunshine. Sunshine, which has been somewhat absent and has finally turned up. And very welcome it is too, as it has kick started and renewed feelings of optimism as far as the allotment is concerned. According to the weather people, the sunshine is going to be around for a while; a week at least. With that in mind, the tomatoes have been sent outside to the path in Dad’s garden to start the process of hardening off. Unlike last year, where the tomatoes were all grown under cover; these are going to be outdoors and in raised beds or open ground. Currently they are all having a strop in pots, and I am hoping that if the plants sun bathe for the next few days that I can then take them to the allotment and bury them a bit deeper. The appearance of yellow flashes, tomato flowers, suggests that these all need to get a wiggle on and fairly soon.

This year’s cohort of chillies are the current room mates of the tomatoes, and will also need to be removed to the poly tunnel and be potted up. There are chillies here that are supposed to be small and stumpy, as it were, and those who are supposed to grow tall and abundant. I did sort them out into two groups to make the sorting out easier. The taller chillies will be potted up into large flower buckets, whereas the smaller ones are going to put into pots as they are not expected to take up a huge amount of room. In the last few weeks, the chillies have rather had something of a grow spurt and on time. In the next four weeks they will grow further before being moved to the poly tunnel. Having been sown a little late doesn’t appear to  have to knocked them too much.

With the chillies hitting a stride, there are also emerging seedlings. Recently sown cucumbers and squashes have started to come through. With the frost window remaining open until the next May bank holiday, both of these have got four weeks to grow and become more robust.  In my experience, squashes grow very quickly; you sometimes have to re-pot them to key up. I am hoping that with the four week window they are suitably sized for planting out once that they have been hardened off. With the cucumbers, I do intend for these to be planted and grown outside. I have previously grown crystal lemon outside and harvested a crop.

Seedlings are sat on the sidelines, mean making crumble. Last year I was able to harvest trugs full of apples and these were then frozen alongside some plums. Today has been spent making a plum and apple crumble. The second in four days!

With the crop of a previous year being used up, we can look to the future crop. A walk to the plot meant finding cherry and apple Blossom. The two cherry trees, Sylvia and Morello, are new additions to the plot; so it was rather heartening to see white buds n the Morello, but a lovely white bloom-just the one!-on the Sylvia tree. I wasn’t expecting to see any blossom on them this year, so I am really quite surprised to see blossom. I did check on the Concorde pear, that appears to have taken the frost on the chin, and is still looking frilly. The darling peach tree does still have a couple of deep pink blooms, there had been half a dozen; I did fleece at one point only for the wind to disagree with the shrouding.

The otherwise heavy clay of the allotment has had a chance to dry out. This has been to the relief to the heritage garlic that Marshalls were kind enough to provide for the plot. Garlic is wonderfully resilient, and is actually doing quite well given how much rain it has suffered. There are no signs yet of any bolting, and the ground is weed free so the bulbs should be making the most of the nutrients available from the clay.  The foliage is still very green and leafy, and with another eight weeks to go there is still a lot of growing to be done.

heritagemarshall

I do like it when the post person delivers something that you’ve been hotly anticipating. Copies of ‘Sow Grow and Eat’ landed on our doormat and rather made my day. My thanks to the fabulous Howard-(the artist who once sunk spuds, remember him?) for having put the cover together. You will also spot that the Loldeantimber trug is now something of a cover star, it also appears in the book. Given how the trug is used so much on the plot, it was definitely going to end up in the book.