In April, I will be headed north to Telford to attend my first ever book signing. Alongside lots of other authors, I’m hoping to meet and see lots of readers.
There is currently a sale on tickets!
In April, I will be headed north to Telford to attend my first ever book signing. Alongside lots of other authors, I’m hoping to meet and see lots of readers.
There is currently a sale on tickets!
Having counted down since November, it is now nearly time. Time to formally launch the third book in the Devan Coultrie Peace Series Saga. Time to formally launch it all in the middle of the United Kingdom.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Three years ago, I became involved in the Peace Series of Novellas. A group of more than a dozen authors, all writing stories set in the fictional town of Peace. Montana.
Montana, somewhere in the American Mid-west.
‘Punam, have you even been to Montana?’
Not yet, but hold that thought
Anything is possible.
Having scanned the shelves of the Mills and Boon’s in a library in Warwickshire, I felt a little perplexed. Well, intrigued, actually. Whilst the shelves all contained pure-fantasy, where are the books that had characters of South-Asian ascent? And, was it really necessary to have a cover where there was a bare-chested fella, woman in lingerie and the central premise of country squires bodice ripping?
(Actually, there are quite a few rich millionaires, penthouse apartments, quivering lips, and some really strange gender politics. From lots of different places on the globe too, actually. Europe features quite heavily.)
I had questions, and lots of them.
I also had a book to write. I was trying to rise to a challenge; that of stepping outside of my comfort zone, I had just finished Fragments, there were two gardening books.
Retreating to Peace, opens with sheet fluke. Devan sticks a pin in the map of North America.
(This map does exist, long story.)
Devan. A dual-heritage former banker in the City of London, who used to live in Rugby.
The name bothered me. How to use an Anglo-Indian-esque name. He’s got some vague Scottish Ancestry; that was echoed in his surname. For six months, he was faceless. I didn’t have a clue as to what he might look like. I wrote him blind, in that respect. As a figment of my imagination, I wasn’t the one who was supposed to fall in love with him.
(Mates, maybe. I’d buy him a pint; perhaps tolerate him. We’d have a mutual acknowledgment of one another. I don’t think for one moment, he’d be within my universe, Oh, the irony….)
Sheer fluke. Retreating To Peace, was written trying to avoid the rules, the tropes. I sulked a the prospect of a Happily Ever After. Thankfully, S.H.Pratt, the Godmother of Peace, reassured me.
‘How about a Happy For Now?’ she wrote, in correspondence.
That, I could deal with.
Retreating to Peace, is experimental. I’m throwing things together, to not follow the rules.
A year later, I’d got a restless pen. Devan Coultrie had got his happy for now. But he wasn’t done. I’d written a few short stories; seasonal ones mostly. There was a massive great big Christmas Day one, a couple of Diwali ones. There was a world to be filled, created; jumped into to flesh out a life. I was also having fun; that helps.
Postcards from Peace, a collection of short stories, saw a year/eighteen months in the life of Devan Coultrie. His universe filled out, we got to see more of who he was, and the people in his world.
Most, if not all, of the stories in that book, are dedicated to the important people in my world. Some of them, have crept into the books, as muses, characters. They are immortalised, and probably haven’t a clue!
I still wasn’t interested in Happily Ever After. Happy For Now, was still the main motive.
Then I had a conversation, with a fellow Peace Author, Sandra Hurst. I had an idea, or she had an idea; I don’t actually remember. A huge light bulb went off, I remember giggling with some menace. Postcards from Peace, had a kicker.
The kicker, was Peace Betrayed.
Oh, my. How I wanted to smack the figment of my imagination. I sulked, he sulked. This book was a fight to write. For once, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do with the guy.
(I won’t give anything away, you’ll have to read it.)
Devan Coultrie’s story, was conceived to be different, to not follow the traditional tropes. In Peace Betrayed, there is character development, there are changes to a sense of being. There is also the underlining of the notion, that no, you don’t have to fall in love with characters. As with life, there are people you like, people you don’t; people, who you have no idea, as to what is going on in their heads.
Three years later; three books later. There is a book launch in the pub.
Yes, a pub, in Birmingham, several thousands of miles away from Montana.
(Peace, is fictional; no point googling it.)
I have a brown stetson. There’s even a pink boa.
The Peace Novella Series is officially two years old. It feels as though it was yesterday, when the first novella-Songs of Peace- was released as part of an ambitious, dynamic and diverse anthology series. Sixteen authors worked together to build the fictional town of Peace, Montana.
Two years ago, we would have seen Songs of Peace, Love in Peace and what Peace Remains, go public. This Saturday, marks the anniversary of Reclaiming Peace.
Running from Autumn 2017 to Summer 2018, we saw the novellas release on e-readers every other week. It was an exciting time, in reading and collecting what felt like a whole Peace Library. This is a series where there truly is something for everyone.
My contribution was Retreating to Peace, and this arrived in January 2018. This year, a year and bit later, I published Postcards from Peace. The Devan Coultrie Saga needed to be continued. To be honest, with Postcards, there were more questions. Things were to develop a little further.
Last week, I had the absolute privilege to be in great company, and also to read in the Gunmakers Arms, Birmingham. Organised by A.A.Abbott, this was an evening to sample some of the stories that are written by Birmingham authors.
This is only the second time that I have read from one of my books and in public. An exciting opportunity, but also rather nerve-racking. I read from Kangana, and it was interesting to hear the the characters jump out aloud in the room.
There is just something about hearing stories, experiencing the work of authors, that really is pure magic.
“For now, just play nice,” Hades blew across the top of his Guinness. He pulled a face having taken a mouthful. “Dionysus lied about this stuff. Muppet.”
“Can’t make me,” Devan pouted as he swirled a wheat-coloured IPA. He had two black eyes and a plaster across his nose.
“Can and will,” replied Hades. “Be civil or I turn you into a horse’s behind. But without the romance of a Mid-Summer’s night dream.”
“Of all the places in Birmingham,” Padmi arrived, clutching a glass of Merlot. She grimaced at Devan to sit next to Hades. “Never been here before. Didn’t realise this belonged to writers and such.
“It’s a nice place; they have two of the most adorable cats.” Hades kicked Devan to attention beneath the table. “If moody knickers here can make it. You and Gorbind will be fine. Gunmaker’s Arms. Looks good to me.”
“Moody knickers who?” Gorbind put another glass down before Devan. He himself had half a pint of lemonade.
“Don’t trust yourself?” Asked Devan, pulling the glass close. “Scared? Reading and all.”
“Just a bit,” he replied, exhaling deeply. “And so is she.” Gorbind looked at the Maroon 5 hoodie that hung on the back of an empty chair.
He knew what she was about to read. Thing is, he hadn’t told his wife. That was scared him. That, was what had him on the lemonade.
Later in the Gunmakers Arms
“Do I kiss you, kill you slowly?” Glaring at her husband, Padmi pressed the cool rim of the wine glass to her lips.
“Slowly, ever so slowly,” wiping tears, Hades laughed. He’d found gin now, and was picking out spiralised zest. “So we can watch.”
“You got laughs,” shaking his head, Devan winced as his nose throbbed. “You actually made people in a Birmingham boozer, laugh. Welcome to the club,” he slugged his IPA and landed a hand to Gorbind’s shoulder.
“Talking to me now, are you?” Slurping lemonade, Gorbind took his turn with not playing nice.
“You may have broken my nose,” replied Devan, “But you’ll need hell to freeze over before you break my spirit.”
“I can do that, hic!” Hades momentarily looked bashful. “God, Padmi ought to nail your bits to-“
“You scared her,” Padmi cut off the Lord of the Underworld to once more pin Gorbind to his seat. “She took a chance on you; read you aloud, tripped over almost every inch to keep going. The pair of us, she gave us a reason for being. Made you real. Remember that.”
A sudden hush had unfurled around the table. The lights crackled, a darkness descended.
Then they were gone.
Devan Coultrie is from Retreating to Peace: A peace series Novella. Earlier this year, he made his Birmingham debut at a Tippling Tales event. Hades, is a work in progress: more details on him in the future!
A special mention to A.A.Abbott and also the Gunmakers Arms, Birmingham.
Thanks also to JA Media for the images.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There may be someone you know, who might like one of mine.
Never underestimate the power of a book.
Be it how to grow chillies, how to make jam.
Be it healing after a loss, or chasing rainbows with a spot of romance.
You never know what you might find in the pages of a book.
All of them are available in paperback, links to the right!
A month ago, I was starting to pace up and down. Book number five was lined up to go live. My fifth book in four years, there was a lot of anticipation hanging in the air. There was fear, anxiety, but also some level of excitement too.
Of all the books, Kangana makes me smile, and I am only just starting to figure out why.
Kagana is my ray of sunshine, rainbow book. A book that signals a change in me, my mind-set and subsequently my writing mojo.
It marks the end of what has felt a jumbled up, chaotic time. A time during which my life has gone through all sorts; there’s been growth, development, sadness, joy, not to mention lots of interesting adventures. The last five years have been wonderfully formative, giving rise to five very different books. Five. I still don’t know how that happened.
Previously, I have noted that writing about gardening was some of a multi-layered metaphor; this blog, has evolved and grown from the seeds of an idea and continues to do. Writing two gardening books, was much about my growth and development as much as it was about my allotment.
To this day, I cannot tell you why I made the leap into writing fiction, writing stories that couldn’t be more removed from roses, mud and raspberries. I remember the moment when; mid morning, tapping my pen-a green biro-against lined paper. I had an idea.
The genesis of Fragments came from grief, bereavement; it is not an easy, soft, all is rosy book. Fragments is a whirling tornado of emotions, humanity, tears and pain. Don’t get me wrong. In the same way that every grey cloud has a silver lining, so does Fragments.
Fragments is a book about getting up again having fallen down; about dusting yourself off and moving on. It is a book about finding strength, even when don’t think you have any. This is a book that shook me sideways, and at a time when I was feeling broken; this was my way of finding out my depths and layers.
When Fragments went live, I remember feeling wounded. I’d written this book, eighty something thousand words, and it hurt. I had this massive great big hole, as though something had been wrenched out of me. Absolute internal pain, and it throbbed. I remember feeling as though I had been kicked in the stomach.
What the flip was a girl to do?
Well, she waited four weeks and decided to go find the Peace Novella series.
You’ve heard a lot about RTP-that’s Retreating To Peace. I feel bad writing this, but Devan Coultrie was definitely a band-aid. A sticky plaster to fix into place what ever Fragments had done.
RTP is a romance, yes; a contemporary romance. It’s not fluffy though, Devan and I both had dents. So we both fixed them, together. I rebelled, I wasn’t willingly going to write a fluffy romance. I still couldn’t find it in my soul to do so. I remember asking my fellow Peace writers to read it, but wincing in anticipation.
I’ve never been so scared to let anyone look at my work. (Team Farmah never get a look in, honest) I sat there, with the handwritten manuscript pressed to my chest. I didn’t want anyone to read my romance novella and then beat me with it. I struggled with the concept that all romance novellas were full of bow-chick-wow-wow that defied the laws of Physics. Full of bodice ripping country squires and doe-eyed damsels.
But I took stock, received positive feedback. I prized the manuscript from my chest, and did a really funny happy dance. The ladies of the Peace Novella series , picked me off the floor to dust me off. I stood up, held my head high.
Then I bit the bloody bullet.
Off went RTP, released into the ether and unto the masses.
There was something very nice, warm and fuzzy about having written RTP. Devan Coultrie was a lovely, faith-restoring band-aid, and I am most certainly not done with him.
The ladies of Peace, were sent to my universe for a reason.
I took the summer off, decided that I was I need of a break. Both Fragments and RTP had changed my head space, and now there was a scope for sunshine after the rain.
Taking a walk to Sarehole mill with my sister, I let the greenery of Middle earth talk to me. That was August. I went home, wrote three thousand words, then put my notebook away. I was not in the mood to do any more writing.
Autumn and winter passed. I got busy, and there were too many things happening for me to be creative. One Saturday, I sat with my soft pastels and decide to make rainbows. Three were created in varying configurations. Rainbows had been very much on my mind, especially with counselling therapy. I even had a set of oil paints and tried to paint one with the EMS as a reference. In my mind, rainbows demonstrate the power of the universe. Light after dark, hopefulness. The way that light bends with water to give the different wavelengths. It makes great scientific sense, but its wonderfully magic.
Putting aside the pastel creations. I went looking for my notebook. I looked at the three thousand words and knew that one character from Fragments was my next venture.
That character was Gorbind; a bit part character that had a sliver in a chapter. You could literally blink and miss him. As with Devan Coultrie, Gorbind was borne out of a lack of Indian romance books. This continues to annoy me, so perhaps I can do something about it.
I was writing yet another romance.
Kangana was now being forged; I had a chapter list, a sequence of events and also a playlist. I had also more than once visited Birmingham’s Museum and Art gallery, where seeing the Lucifer sculpture and Rosetti’s Porsepine fueled my imagination further.
For the next ten months, my poor parents heard Dr.Zeus’ Kagna-two versions-, Hallelujah-three different versions of that-, Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla, not to mention Cyndi Lauper’s ‘At last’ on loop. This made a huge change from Jolene, two thirds of Adele’s back catalogue and all of Maroon 5’s as used in RTP and Fragments. I do have to say though; for some daft reason, halleleujah has occured for all three fiction books.
Kangana has made me laugh, it has made me smirk. It has also made me think of Gianluigi Buffon in a whole new light.
Well, most of my main characters have faces as I write them. Gorbind was the esteemed Mr. Buffon. Devan Coultrie, was Aidan turner. In Fragments, Jamie Dornan inspired Christopher and Adelphi. One day, all the rest will have faces. Albert Finney, is Grandad Albie.
Kangana is a lighter book. It does have its dark bits. All rainbows do. Kangana is a book that marks a change; it’s a book that marks a movement forward into a different direction.
No idea what that direction is. There is a stack of writing projects sat on my desk.
Two have been pulled out for development. The one, is labelled Hades. Yes, him of the underworld. The other is identified as Aurelia and involves vampires.
That is all I have for now. I have no further details as my mojo is at rest until Spring. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be planning and gleaning the universe for inspiration in the mean time.
All in all, this means a break from intense hot-housing and slowing down to regenerate. For now, I am going to bask in a rainbow and colour my soul.
Go grab your copies, try to do the same.
This was a very different book to write in comparison to the two gardening books. I wasn’t sure how to approach writing fiction, and this was an extremely experiential process. I remember writing in a fury, wanting to get emotions, images and experiences onto paper, and tell stories.
This was a book that took a year to mould together, a year to process, I guess.
I would not call Fragments a fluffy book, not in the least. There aren’t many books that talk about death or reflect on how it impacts upon the human condition. You’d think then, that this is a big, heavy, grey book. I would disagree. It certainly has a challenging subject, something that we as humans don’t engage with; we choose to whisper, cloister, avoid all things death-related.
Yet it happens to us all.
There are six different but inter-related stories within Fragments that attempt to map out how bereavement, death and loss are unifying themes. How we experience them is different, we are after all, unique. The sense of loss however, does hang over us all. On a personal level, Fragments was book-ended by two very significant, very close bereavements.
I did try to put shimmers of light in there, though. An ending, can be seen as new beginning, a change in a different direction. A loss, has the potential to grow-even killing weeds makes way for new seeds.
There is growth, renewal and regeneration in the pages of Fragments. Three concepts that whilst tending my allotment, are very much part of the immersion process. It was only natural these would them permeate through the writing of Fragments.
April 2016 saw the publication of Sow, Grow and Eat AKA the green book. This was a book that was actually quite quick on the heels of Plant Pot tales-the yellow book. As such, there was a similar format. The first third is about the allotment, the different lessons learned and a continuation of what was recorded in the yellow book. The rest of the book concentrated on recipes and what could be done with allotment produce.
The green book was borne out of my experimentation with a preserving pan. I had made jams, jellies, chutneys and pickles. These were shared with friends, family as well as colleagues. It was interesting to think about what could go into a preserve to make extra-ordinary, to make something that stood out from what you find in a supermarket.
There are a few recipes that are actually dedicated, are in honour of colleagues and friends. A couple, come from the physics department and an attempt to be as creative as possible.
As with the yellow book, I tried to make the recipes as simple as I could. I don’t believe in making things complicated, preventing people from accessing and then not enjoying anything. The recipes are all experiments though; all of them are open to interpretation, improvement and extension. From time to time, I do look through the book and remind myself of the different things that I have made. It does rather encourage me to try and extend the variety, to do more experiments once I have the plot up and running again.
I do believe that I will write another cook-book type of book. It is sat on my desk, waiting for me to flesh it out.
Counselling for Courage and Change
Slipstream LGBTQ+ Romance Author and Illustrator
Confessions of A Musing Freak
Making the most of your time in sixth form
(Somewhat) Daily News from the World of Literary Nonfiction
A fine WordPress.com site
Write the Character-First Story
Writing and Editing by Ekta R. Garg
The Cricket Pages
“It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Growing Your Own Produce and Remedies
A Whimsical Food and Travel Blog
Allotment, garden and daytrips
Recipes from my Kitchen and Cookery School at Number 4
sow and scoff: allotmenteer meets baker