Petal’s books: Retreating to Peace #Peaceseries

RTP new swing 2

Having grown up watching Bollywood movies, these have shaped my view of romance. Trouble is, there’s not a lot of literary romances where there are characters of Indian-ascent.

This rather ticked me off. Seeing the Mill’s and Boon’s shelf in the library, I was a bit perplexed by the diversity. There were quite a few about Rich Greeks, Middle Eastern Sheikhs, lots of hedge fund millionaires. Where is the Indian representation?

All right, Devan Coultrie isn’t a millionaire. He is however, of mixed heritage and falls in love with a woman who is of Indian-ascent. I might have mixed things up a bit.

I didn’t see a book with a fella of Indian ascent, so I created one. I’ve created another, and you’ll find him in Kangana.

Anyway, Retreating to Peace. Book nine, ten, I forget which one; is part of the Peace Series of Novellas. Set in Montana, it is a lego brick that builds on the brain-child of S.H. Pratt.

After writing Fragments, my pen’s were listless and I needed a sorbet to re-align my writing faculties. I felt at a real loss, a real loose end, having finished Fragments. I found Peace by fluke, but I wanted to engage. I worked as part of a whole team of authors, who wrote a story centred on Peace Montana. I had to hit the ground running; I’ve not really had anything to with romance writing, and alongside the diversity thing, I wasn’t really keen on happily ever after.

This was and is a fantastic writing collaboration. A collaboration that gave me the impetus to write another romance, to have a character of Indian-ascent. The group are supportive beyond measure, and have really kept me buoyant when my writing mojo really did go a bit skew-whiff.

Retreating to peace is hopeful, there is renewal in there again. There is most certainly regeneration in there.

Whilst checking out  RTP, don’t forget to check out the rest of the series too!

Petal’s books: Fragments

Fragments_Cover_for_Kindle

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.

Petal’s books: Sow, Grow and Eat

sowgroweat

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.

 

Petal’s books: Plant pot tales-Happy Birthday!

 

Three years ago on this very day, Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the allotment was released unto the ether. I had written and published my first book.

After a summer of rough ideas, and having said to my youngest sister, that I would write a book; I actually did it.

Plant pot tales was and is an extension of this blog. I used this blog to record all the lessons learned and experiences had. To put them into book was the next step. I had been encouraged by the success of Rob Smith on The Allotment Challenge, I was also invited by Michael Perry the illustrious Mr.Plantgeek to guest write some blog posts. The whole creative process was something of a swirling tornado.

This week, after two years of all sorts, I am trying to go back to the plot. Go back to the plot that this whole gardening and writing process came from. This post, the book anniversary, the return is therefore extremely poignant.

Plant pot tales was borne out of passion, creativity, out of doing something that makes me really happy; doing something with which I truly have a very meaningful relationship. The plot, gardening, writing have all become a big part of who I am, how I see myself and in turn how others see me. Plant pot tales was the keystone to the genesis of Petal’s Potted Preserve as an entity, identity and as umbrella for all things me.

It may not be perfect, but I am very proud of Plant pot tales. I put my heart, soul and green fingers into it, and tried to the best job I knew how to at the time. This was a book that allowed me to enter into the world of indie and self publishing. This, was the start of an interesting and evolving journey. A journey of creativity, self-discovery; a journey of exploring the universe and what I might be capable of.

That yellow book has a lot to answer for!

I learned valuable lessons with plant pot tales. These lessons were about both gardening and writing/publishing. I really wouldn’t change Plant Pot Tales for the world, it is a reminder of where I started and how far my journey has gone so far.

For me, this is not a traditional gardening book. I’ve not written a book about having a perfect garden, but a book that that reflects upon mistakes and uses them as learning experiences. I didn’t want to write a book that took on the mantle of an expert and passed judgement. My process is to continue learning and making judgements can be down right hurtful. Plant pot tales is about potential and positivity; about how having the seeds of an idea can lead to something truly epic.

As Plant Pot Tales turns three, I hope that it finds new readers. I hope that people come back to it, having already invested. I hope that this book continues to be useful and earns its place out there.

It was the first book, and I’m not done yet.

Petal’s ebook bash: 3rd September 2018

fivecovers

And so there were will be five. There will be five books out there with my name on, that fall under the umbrella of Petal’s Potted Preserve and the Orticultural Obbit Blog journey.

As such, there will be something of a book bash throughout the week commencing 3rd September 2018.

Kangana_Cover_for_Kindle

September the 3rd is release day for Kangana.

If you have pre-ordered, you will be able to find it waiting for you on your kindle.

The two gardening books are both on a kindle countdown, and you can get them for half price.

 RTP new swing 2

For five days only, you will be able to get Retreating to Peace free as an Ebook.

Free, completely gratis!

Last but not least. Fragments.

If you buy any of the books, as a match-book, Fragments will  be cheaper than normal!

Fragments_Cover_for_Kindle

So don’t forget to bookmark this post, share far and wide. You might find something interesting!

Petal’s books: A retrospective review

fivecovers

As the release date for the fifth book approaches, I am in something of a reflective mood. I am trying to consider, think back upon how things have moved on since I first decided to sow seeds, to write a blog and then make the move to writing books. All of which, comes under the umbrella of this blog, of Petal’s Potted Preserve as an entity.

All of the books can trace their lineage to this blog; writing here about the allotment is what inspired me to dip into another medium. I wanted to transfer what I was doing here to another way of recording, sharing and communicating.  Sharing was the key aspect; how far could my relationship with my allotment go, who might it reach, who might it help, might they learn from it?

I am and always will be a bookworm; there is something purely magic about a book. I feel that is true for most books. Be it fiction, non-fiction, be it a textbook; there is a beauty within it.

The mere thought of a library, makes me smile. I have yet to be part of one, but a girl can dream, yes?

A lot has happened since the yellow book went public. The yellow book; playing with plant pots, turns three in two days. I’ll post about that later.

Since plant pot tales was published, my job has changed. There have been two significant bereavements, I’ve trained to be a counsellor, and there has been an epic, really close family wedding. My life has been a constantly developing, evolving process and experience. All of which has meant I’ve dipped in and out of maintaining my allotment whilst also writing.

As parallel processes, gardening and writing both involve sowing a seed, crafting and nurturing, whilst exposing your soul whilst putting your heart into something that believe in. There is a lot vulnerability too, in going out on a limb. I don’t think I have tried to follow the rules on my allotment. I didn’t write a traditional gardening book; none, of my books are traditional.

Plant pot tales, is very much an extension of the blog. I have yet to identify the voice I use in that book. Read it out aloud, and you may just hear my paved-over Birmingham accent. It is me having a chat, telling you what I have recorded in the blog. There are recipes that carry the scent from Mama F’s kitchen. The book is a living experience, organic; it quite literally is the seeds of an idea.  It is also imperfect. A baptism, of not knowing what to do, how to do it and learning as I went along. Least of all in a gardening sense. This was my entry into the world of Indie Publishing. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I took a punt writing it, putting it out there. In having a conversation with my youngest sister, declaring that I would write an e-book about my allotment, see what happens as I had nothing to lose; I took a huge leap of faith, and couldn’t tell you if it was brave or stupid. I don’t know if I had courage. I just did it, and did my best whilst in the heady, green-fingered throes of determination.

I wouldn’t have done it differently, I wouldn’t turn back the clock. Plant pot tales was the first. It was the herald, the pre-cursor to an interesting journey.

It was six months before the arrival of the next one. I simply couldn’t sit still; there was still something in the tank, and it wanted out. The allotment had been abundant, there were courgettes all over the shop. I’d also starting making jams, jellies and spirit infusions. These were documented on the blog, but still needed to travel. I’d caught the bug, I wanted to write again.

And so the green book came to life.

After which, things become a little blurry.

There was a gap of nothingness from April til December.

From January 2016, I was locked into something altogether surreal, The blue-coloured book didn’t arrive until March 2017 but I was writing over the year. This was a furious state of productivity; I had to write, get things out, get them onto paper in black and white. There been two very close bereavements, a lot of unsettled-ness and I was embarking in Counselling training. Loss, bereavement, grief, the circles of life were crashing and colliding.

That book was Fragments. Book number three, my first foray into fiction.

There’s a lot of pain in that book; there is joy too, it’s not entirely bleak. I saw smudges of hope and light when writing, that echoes in the pages of the book. This was never going to be a happy, fluffy book. This is a book that seeps with the human condition. It is my attempt, I guess, to grapple with something that we as humans avoid. We avoid talking about grief, bereavement; the end of life.

Here I was, making it public.

As with it’s two predecessors, the book also has power. The power to reach readers, to be a part of their process, inform and assimilate into how they experience the world around them. I like to think, that people read my work and take something from it. One of friends and colleagues made a comment. “Punam, you must have had an interesting life to write a book like that.” I took that as a compliment, and continue to make life interesting.

With Fragments out, I must have sat still for all of two weeks. Fragments had been a year of working hard, and for it to be over; there was a loss. There was a pain, a detachment from something that I had become invested in, something that had more or less governed each and every waking moment. I had an emptiness at having spilled my guts out. It physically hurt to have Fragments out there; as though it had been hoiked out from the depths of my soul. I had made something really important.

What I needed to do at that point, was to heal. I needed to mend. I needed to stretch my writing muscles.

I needed a giggle. Something to feel me with a light, maybe switch it on, help me extend. Something that felt hopeful and carried light.

Along came the Peace Novella series. I had nothing to lose, a lot to gain.

Creating Devan Coultrie was a huge, experimental shot in the dark. I was amongst seasoned writers, well established in the world of romance. Romance, a whole genre that I really didn’t know a lot about; a whole genre, congested with stories and with it’s own rules and regulations.

I struggled with the idea of a happily ever after. Thankfully, a happy for now would work. I struggled with there being few characters of Indian-ascent in romance novellas. I struggled with colliding and combining British and Indian traits. I was throwing all sorts at this book, and not knowing where all the chips would land was beyond unnerving.  I still can’t tell you how I did it. How I managed to write a piece of romantic fiction.

So much so, I wrote another.

I wrote book five. This, is me having another go.

By the 3rd of September, I will have self-published 5 books. Each one has my name on it. I always look at the covers, a bit surprised to see my name.

To have published one, was exhilarating. Two, helped me find a sense of purpose. Three, was a call from the universe, an attempt to put myself together; see my scars, dents and appreciate what makes me who I am. Four, was an experiment.

No idea what Five is, just yet.

When I know, so will you.

Kangana: Pre-order Link!

smudge

Kangana can now be pre-ordered on Kindle.

It will therefore land on your device:

Monday 3rd September 2018.

Click on the image above to get your copy!

 

There is no such thing as a straight forward romance.

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.

 

New book news: Kangana

smudgecovermockupdate

There is no such thing as a straight forward romance.

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.

 

kanganateasertwo

 

 

 

Taking stock

 

For the first time in what feels like forever, I went to the allotment. I decided to delay today’s writing session and take a walk to the plot.

There were lots of currants to be harvested. I didn’t want to let them rot, feed the birds or just go to waste.

Truth be told, I needed to go get grounded. Life has been very busy, and there is no let up yet. The rest of 2018 is scheduled to be busy still until at least September-ish.

The allotment has been on pause for a long time, and going there today hammered home how badly it has all fallen down. I could have got lost in the weeds, everything is very over grown, brambles are very much in charge.

It does sadden me, that I can no longer see the raised beds and that the whole thing is over grown. Especially, as it’s take years to get it how it was wanted. What I didn’t bank on was life getting in the way. There’s been a training course and strange working hours; not to mention writing as well. It’s nine years since I first started sowing seeds, and I do feel that I’ve come a long way.

It’s painful really, knowing that the plot has been neglected.  Painful, as to how overwhelming it feels to get it back into shape. I’m not sure where to start or how for that matter. I know it won’t be immediate, so plan to take a good, long look at things at the end of summer.

Being told but allotment secretary that you are probably going to get a letter is not fun! I definitely don’t want that. It’s a horrible sword of Damocles hanging over your head, and I really don’t want that letter. I’ve just seen him, and it’s rather changed my mood. It’s a horrible feeling being told that your plot is the worst that is has been, that it’s in need of being tidied up. It is a judgement, after all and maintenance of standards; that I understand. I do have a responsibility to look after my plot and ensure that it is productive. I have felt this for a long time actually, and it’s almost as though I am beating myself up about it. Gardening has never been about that for me, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling as though I am letting people and myself down. I will probably sulk for a bit anyway. It does hurt, and it’s never nice to get negative feedback. In it’s current state, the plot is not something to be shared, enjoyed or celebrated.

As life settles down, I will need to take stock and start hacking away at the overgrown allotment. That’s probably the only way that I am going to win against the brambles. I just can’t do it yet. This probably feels huge as I try to juggle bits and pieces.  I need to get the headspace and life events sorted before I can return to the plot.

All in all, I’m trying to keep things in perspective. I want to return to the plot when I can, when I have the time and energy. It is not something that I want to abandon. That would be awful, and I can’t bring myself to do that.

 

 

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