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.
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.
Over the last eighteen months, I have been working on this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
sowgroweat Cover for paperback
Both copies of the second book are now online and available to buy. You can click on the images on the right hand side to get yourself a copy.
After much brain-bending and feverish writing, the follow up to #Plantpottales will soon arrive.
This is the ebook cover, just to give you a taster. Please watch this space for it all to go live.
It would be amazing to get support other gardeners as we approach the new growing season here in the Northern Hemisphere. My own experiences have been documented both here on the blog and in the book.
‘Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the allotment’ charts all of my discoveries, the positives and the pitfalls of growing my own fruit and vegetables on the allotment.
You can find the book in both paper back and in ebook forms. The links to the UK amazon and kindle sites are on the right hand side of the blog.
A reminder though, of where you might find the book:
The link for Barnes & Noble can be accessed here
Another thing that is really important to me, is supporting independent book stores Sadly, there isn’t one here in Birmingham, England! Or at least not one I can find anyway. I am determined to find one. That said, I am working with Serendipity Books and More in the US. At the moment, they are the only store in the USA that physically stocks and sells copies of the book plus some of the Petal’s Potted Preserve Merchandise.
So if you are in the US, would like to support not one by two small independent business and are trying to develop green fingers, why not check out the store without walls as developed by Serendipity Books and More.
As a year of two halves, 2015 has been somewhat interesting but different. The first half of the year involved having the best of intentions. Seeds were sown, I had half a plan as to what I wanted to achieve. No different to what I might have done in previous years, I was going to use all my knowledge and experience to make things better, bigger and more efficient. Then came July, 2015 became incredibly busy and in the tail end; I am only just recovering from a very hectic six months.
Let’s take the first six months, where by the growing season is starting. Plans are afoot, the world is full of promise. We are hoping to have a good year.
Tomatoes, chillies and aubergine were the focus of the first three months. Makings sure that the seeds were sown, that these germinated and the plants pampered. Pampered, as so many valuable lessons had been learned as to how they might be successful. It was touch and go for a while in the early stages. Half baked chillies and tomatoes can be a very scaring and intimidating experience, when you let them be in a hot room or poly tunnel. There were even aphids and bugs that needed to be dealt with.
In July, I hosted a workshop during the annual conference of the Association of teachers of Psychology. I spoke about horticulture and mental health, the benefits that teachers might gain for both themselves and their students. I had asked my Psychology colleagues to sow sunflowers in the Spring and also encouraged conference delegates to do the same in giving them seeds that were kindly donated by the information point. It was also at this point, that I finished the Level 3 Certificate in Counselling studies.
Then came the summer, with lots and lots of growing!
No one year will be the same as the preceding or following. Yet this year felt different. There was just something palpably different that made growing more of a challenge ad something beyond me being busy with work and studies. Last year, I remember being ankle deep in tomatoes, green ones; but there were lots of them. This year,I had a foliage, and not a lot of fruits. Positioned in the poly tunnel, the crop was meant to do well. Even the chillies appeared to have struggled this year. Whilst the poly tunnel seemed to have been filled with triffids, there was a muted level of success. Aubergines did themselves no favours once again. I must say every year that I will not sow them. I finally have proof that I might be better off without them. Lovely plants, the occasional flower; but diddly squat fruit even if the poly tunnel was a bit damp and sweaty.
And note the gadget! The apple one. Having acquired all of those apples from a plot neighbour (they were not scrumped, I had consent!) that was an investment and a half. Saved me hours. The home brew kit is still waiting in the wings. untested this year, maybe it will be used in the growing seasons to come. There were a number of pickles and preserves. The preserving pan was rather busy this year, even though the produce was a bit hit and miss.
With the plot ticking along, and the blog growing. Something else also happened. I had been lucky enough to write guest blog posts for WRG, via the fabulous Michael Perry. This was and still is one of the most valuable writing experiences that I have ever had. This actually triggered something more complex and more challenging than I first realised. Over the summer, the winner of the Big Allotment Challenge Rob Smith had written a short book. One of my fellow counselling students, L.A.Cotton, had also burst onto the young adult contemporary genre (She’s epic, tell her I sent you) with phenomenal success.
These three things combined spurred me to be courageous and write something myself. June and July were turning points, and I remembered sending a message to both my sisters; saying that I wanted to write an ebook, and I would try and get it out by Christmas. That was it, I was going to do it.
Having written as mentioned previously, the guest blogs for WRG , one of them was about the Indian Inspiration on the plot. I think Michael Perry used the words ‘Bollywood Gardener’ or something similar, and I adopted the hashtag! This inadvertently became the start of the book. I wrote in a way I can only describe as feverish. I have the same frame of mind when writing the blogs, to be honest; and it’s part of the blog life. The book however was different in that this was thousands of words and trying to bring the assorted elements of the blog together. There was a lot of things that I wanted to include in my budget of 25, 000 words. I had a notebook-my blog book actually, the one that I take to the plot-and a pen. Scribbling ensued, and it’s hard to read my writing anyway. So when it’s all in very hurried, that doesn’t help with typing.
What I ended up with was ‘Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the allotment’. Plus it was well before Christmas!
With a bright yellow front cover, you cannot miss it!
I am going to be naturally very biased, and say that I like my book. However, that is genuine. I like to share it, because I do honestly believe in my book. You might, for example, have writers out there, who will promote their books; but not necessarily believe in their own work. You know if you don’t blow your own trumpet, it’s difficult to get others to do the same.
Standing in the kitchen, leafing through my own book was rather surreal. My name was on a book, that I had crafted. Then there was the few hours that it was at number one. A fellow independent writer informed me of that happening, and that made my day, I tell you! I am determined to get back to the slot.
Then there was the swag. The merchandise. Again, this sounds likes trumpeting! Petal, the horticultural Obbit, has always been the online avatar of the blog. A registered trademark, she’s face (other than mine!) of the blog and social media presence.
As you will have read, this year may have been different to others; but it has not been quiet. So much has gone one, it’s no wonder that the tail end of the year is slower and more reflective. If it had all been plain sailing, there would have been very little learned, very little documented in the blog, and very little left to reflect upon.
For now, my only plan is try and sow chillies at some point, and plant my fruit trees when they arrive. I haven’t really thought about anyhing beyond that.
I thank you, for having accompanied me on the 2015 journey; and look forward to the one starting in the new year.
Happy new year!