Tag Archives: Books

7. Books the Breakdown: Battle of Gravelly Hill Interchange

A bit like dragon realm, what happens if Zombies come to Birmingham,

Oh, and what’s Gorbind doing with himself.

This Gorbind Phalla Novellete was originally part of Behind the Scenes.

However, it felt to special, to nice to be left there.

Published as book in it’s own right, we see Gorbind, Padmi and other sights of Birmingham cope with a pandemic

Yes, yes; we’ve sorta seen what feels like.

This is an apocalypse in Birmingham. Gorbind Phalla is the de factor Lord of the Manor. This is not Birmingham as we know it.

And what’s Spaghetti Junction got to do with it?

Well, have a look inside.

6.Books the Breakdown: Dragon Realm

Whilst Tolkien was inspired by Sarehole Mill, I’m at a loss to identify other pieces of fantasy, apocalypse or such drama to be set in the West Midlands.

I mean, why do aliens, zombies and creatures otherwise unspecified go to other geographic locations?

Why shouldn’t Birmingham not be a backdrop?

Please don’t get me wrong. I love Birmingham; Brummie Born and Bred. I am not tempting fate, being disparaging. Not in the least.

Working with Author city for the book event anthology, I picked the theme of a city of a thousand trades.

And chose to marry that with Dragons.

Here we have ten short stories that see Birmingham become home to some rather interesting creatures.

2.Books the Breakdown: Fragments

Having made a foray onto non-fiction, I took a turn and into fiction. I was going through my Counselling Training and also had experienced bereavements. This was part of that interesting journey.

Loosely using Worden’s tasks of grief, Fragments is six inter-linked stories about grief and bereavement.

As a society, we don’t tend to talk about such thing. Very often, we sweep such experiences and the emotions associated with them under the carpet.

This is a book about the human condition, about human stories. There is love in there, loss but also the human ability to change, develop and grow.

1.Books the Breakdown: Gardening!

This is how it all started!

The writing journey started with this blog. Recording my journey on the allotment was about learning from mistakes, about sharing the experiences with others and generally to keep developing myself.

This was a learning curve. How to write a book, taking the photos. Making a start on something, where I had no idea where it might go.

The first book was Playing with Plant Pots; Tales from the Allotment. Or, The Yellow one! This has bits pulled together about what I had grown on the allotment and then recipes based upon that produce.

The second is Sow, Grow and Eat. Whilst there is still some allotment and growing information in there. This concentrates on jams, jellies, preserves and chutneys. I mean, when you have that many courgettes. You have to work out what to do with them!

These books were written to demystify gardening, debunk some myths. Above all, they aren’t perfect. These are books to start gently with the gardening and to have a support hand guiding you. That, and you can also eat what you grow.

Summer of reading? Order paperbacks!

Hello everyone, how are we!

Well it’s been a busy spring. I am making small steps to go back to the allotment. Whilst teaching, being in private practice and also writing.

As for the writing, well!

I’ve attended two book events here in the United Kingdom. I attended Shenanigans Telford and also Tales on Trent. I have another planned.

Only this one is international!! Yes, the plan is to attend the Big Sky Event in Montana. More on that as I have it.

There have been two new releases in the last six months. These are Dragon Realm and The Battle of Gravelly Hill Interchange. Both are a bit different compared to the other books in my back catalogue. One has dragons, the other has zombies. Well, why not!

Having been to the book events and in planning for others. I have opened up the paper back order form again,

You can order the full range of books.

So, how you been? It’s been a while.

Way, way too long.

You’ve been on my mind. This blog, the readership. I know you’re out there. Somewhere, in the vast and varied echelons of the cyber universe.

I’m sorry.

I’ve not not been around as much as I could have been, or should have been. I can’t remember the last time that I sat here and typed up a post. There are number of reasons for that.

The one I always state. That life got busy. Well, that still stands.

I teach, I practice as counsellor. I write books. It has been a while since there was any gardening.

Today, I sat here and thought. You know what, Iet’s do a blog post. Before I get inky fingers, and do some writing. There’s a book to finish.

Teaching, counselling, and writing have in fluid quantities been three central themes of my life over the last year. Teaching is busy; colliding with counselling as a vocation. The counselling practice thrives; it’s going from strength to strength. That leaves writing.

I’ve had two creative projects simmering away over the last year.

One. was the development of a screenplay. For a short film. The cast was found, there is a whole crew behind it. It was a year this monday just gone, that I found my leading man. We’re on the cusp, of completing the filming process. This has been a learning curve! Especially, with a pandemic! I had learn how to write a screen play, adapt my own story. The one in question is Devan Coultrie is Unwell. A short story from Postcards from Peace: A Peace Series collection. I am also directing, so this really has been something. I can’t share much at the moment. Only that seeing the leading man become Devan, was a mind-blowing. Seeing the leading lady, become Aditi was the same. To work with two talented Make Up Artists, a Director of Photography who really knows his stuff.

We have to finish filming and then editing will happen. I have been blown away by the entire process. It has been an interesting process of skill acquisition and development. I’ve never thought and in a million years, that I would be a director. I still might not be! This isn’t finished yet.

There aren’t many British, Female Directors out there, of South Asian Ascent. I can name, one? So that makes this feel a bigger deal.

The second project, is no longer so new. Behind the Scenes has been out for a year. A collection of flash fiction, some short stories; a zombie apocalypse novelette. All of which is set in, inspired by Birmingham. Most of which, was written during lockdown.

As I step away from this blog post, I’m going to try and tackle the next creative project. I’ve been writing it since April, and I am trying to get it towards the end. This is best described as doomed romance. More on that, as it happens.

Hold up, wait. I need to to tell you about dragons. I got this far, and forgot to tell you about dragons. I’ve written another novelette. Again, set in, inspired by Birmingham. And there are dragons involved. There will be more on this later too!

Dragon Realm

A city of a thousand trades. Birmingham is busy and bustles. Everyday people go about their everyday business. Yet, there is something that lives within Birmingham. Something far more magic, than a city is mundane.

Brian is on the night bus, when he hears a voice call to him from the dark. Dave and his Lady Eleanor have a far from normal day on the canals. Linus and Gary might be friends on opposite football teams, but when half-time comes they have something in common.

Dale goes out for a Balti, and gets more than his dinner. A romance reader catches the attention of Eloise whilst in the city library.

A few people of Birmingham are sought out to do something special. To act as guardians to rather mysterious packages.

Happy Birthday, Plant Pot Tales

plantpottales

I like today. I like the date. 17th August.

Five years, ago, about tea-time, I pressed publish. My book was out there. The first book, that I would write. I didn’t know what was about to happen.

No, it wasn’t perfect. No, I didn’t know, at that point, what I should have done, or how.

But man, was I about to learn.

I have continued to do so, too. Over the course of five years, I’ve learned a great deal, and will hopefully continue to learn. Learning, is never over; as teacher, as counsellor, I know that is true. The journey has been pretty interesting so far.

This blog, was the basis for the first book. Without this blog, without the support of the gardening world, both here in Britain and beyond, the book, probably would still be a pipe dream, Worse still, it would probably be a page of inky jottings that were going nowhere fast.

This book, has moved. It has flown to the US. As a paperback, it was stocked in an Indie bookstore; it was on a bookstand! In fact, a few of the books were. At least 3, of what is growing-oh, there’s an unintended pun-catalogue.

 

A few of the books. The yellow book, paved the way for the rest. There was green book, what with the chutney making. A blue book-not the content, but the cover-that was based upon a grief model. I made a foray into writing contemporary romance.

All because of this blog, because I carried out an experiment with chilli plants.

Today, I am proud. I am happy, to acknowledge that the yellow book, paved a way. Oh, there’s another reference. I  get butterflies-not intentional-when the book is downloaded; when someone orders a paperback copy. When someone, decides to take risk, and engage with something that I have written. It’s magic, but altogether nerve wracking

That yellow book is special, it placed me on an interesting, ever developing journey.  It is also a little bit of my soul.

To the yellow book!

behindthescenescover

Behind the Scenes: A book and beyond

 

Well, hello, everyone. It’s been a while. In fact, it’s been a very long while.

Over the last few days, the blog has been on my mind a great deal.

The last time that I checked in, I had been spending a great deal of time of the allotment. The weather was good; Britain was not only in the grip of a pandemic, but also a heatwave. I was able to go to the plot, and do a fair bit. I had dug over the beds, and even sown seeds.

Then life became busy, with my counselling practice and teaching. It has been a very fast, very busy ten weeks and my feet have bare touched the ground.

So, this week, I am playing catch up.  I am also trying to have a rest, by shifting down a gear. I am trying to get some semblance of balance. I did have a fair dose of allotment guilt; a lot of sadness, actually. I popped down to the plot, to see how the plot had changed and to cut some roses. This, in itself, was a very grounding process. I even found some tomatoes. This was much needed. A bit of pottering, smelling the roses, to become grounded.

Social distancing still exists, and quite rightly so. And when not able to go the plot-there has been that much rain, when the sun isn’t shining. I’ve been otherwise occupied, beyond working and counselling.

Socks.

Yes, at the beginning of lockdown, I learned how to knit socks. I started with flat needles, and have since graduated to circular needles. These, I do believe, make the process, easier. It is also a lovely opportunity to relax, experience mindfulness. To ground myself, and do something that isn’t energetically demanding; is wonderfully calming and therapeutic. As such, I now have four pairs of needles with as many cast on socks. As you can see, this are not boring socks. Colourful and comfy, I’m really very proud of my creations. I have enough wool now, to be really quite busy. It is really quite easy, to be seduced by pretty yarn. And the socks are all mine; there is no one to inflict them upon.

Talking of creations. There is a new writing project on the desk. All being well, that will be released next year. This has already spent a year in the pipeline, and is very different to what I’ve already written. A series of short stories, all inspired by the City of Birmingham. You’ll have to watch this space, for further details.

Peace Betrayed: A Book Launch #peace series @gunmakersarms

teatriopeace

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.

The Gunmakers Arms in Central Birmingham, plays host to an evening of Devan Coultrie. 

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.

Writing; a process and a journey

Standing on the edge of a new decade, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the last few years and my journey as a writer.

I struggle to identify as an author, as a writer. There is a huge mountain, of feeling like an imposter that somewhat colours that self-image. I find it difficult, to say it out aloud. I can tell you, that I’m a counsellor, a teacher; that I have an allotment. Yet, telling you that I am author, that I write books, will be done somewhat sheepishly.

2020 sees book number seven be published, there are a couple of books events that I’m going to be involved in. So I have a lot of focus on, as a writer. My plan, beyond that, is to spend 2020 writing. I have a stack of notebooks, pens and ink. There are plans for works. So I won’t exactly be twiddling my thumbs.

I won’t start writing til January; January 6th is the date that I contemplate sitting at my desk to write.

Why then?

It’s Epiphany, the day the Three Kings arrived after their journey having followed the star. The notion that we have an epiphany, a moment of deep-seated clarity, that is also part of it.

At the moment, my head feels like it is full of squashed flies. I did write two books this year, and I choose to rest as we move towards the festive period. I plan to do little during this time of family, feasting and merriment. I need to recalibrate my soul a little, do some reading. I’m currently half way through Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, so we shall see what else I read.

I also need a dictionary slash thesaurus. That has been on my mind a great deal.

The 10’s have seen seven books. Well, technically, it’s the last five years; that’s when I first published a book. So I have been busy;I have pushed myself in a ridiculous fashion at times to get things written. It has taken that time to figure out what my writing process is.

I hand-write most things, the first draft of them in the first instance. Hence the notebooks, my pens, a box of ink too. I have a bittersweet memories of Fragments. Two massive great big, hardback notebooks and black biro. I bought my ink pens right at the end, I felt a though I had found my magic wands. They’ve been my trusty companions ever since. Fragments, gave birth to  my writing process. Researching, writing, constructing; and feeling too. Of being immersed in something, so much so, that your soul permeates through it, every fibre of it.

There is a cost to writing; the intrinsic one, that perhaps gets missed. I know not to write when exhausted; it physically hurts.

That said, I have works for next year. I’m conscious that I have the tendency to get absorbed into a project, almost a though I have blinkers. The challenge, is that I have three that I would like to work on, concurrently, in parallel. Something that I haven’t done before, and it does feel overwhelming, The sensible thing, would be to take one at a time. Yet, this feels intrinscially different. I want to take my time, I’ve yet to set myself a deadline. Ordinarily, I would give myself a year for one project. A year is a long time, and I have yet to set my a strict deadline.

There is something whimsical about the writing plan for the next year. To write in bits, fragments, I guess. To listen to my brain and soul, as to what could be written. I have plans, stories mapped out.

The key is not to put pressure on myself, to kick myself. I like to write, I like to create these universes.

With that comes some excitement. What I plan to write, makes me smile. I have a sense of joy about it.

Here’s to it actually happening.

In the mean time, some speculative, flash-y fiction.

****

Copyright 2019 Punam Farmah

Cabinet meeting

Tapping his toe to a blues riff, Gorbind nodded as long as he stared at his pint. He’d been asked to get to The Gunmakers after he had put Mango to bed.

It was his daughter who had relayed the message. Something about the cat speaking to her, having had a fight with a squirrel. The squirrel, had lost. Padmi had screamed blue murder at the carnage that covered her kitchen floor.

Gorbind had resisted calling Forensics.

Given who had sent the message, this wasn’t as strange as it sounded.

“Ah, you came,” Hades pulled up a wooden chair on the opposite side of table. A tumbler of Kraken rum slid across to sit next to Gorbind’s.

He was still trying to figure out his poison.

“That cat of yours,” pronounced Hades, “Is a sandwich short of a picnic.” Taking off his long, Mulberry coloured overcoat, he draped it over his chair.

“Not my cat,” said Gorbind, picking up his pint. “Can’t stand him. He’s machiavelli in a fur coat. Padmi’s. Send her your feedback. See what she does to you. Whatcha want?” He asked, sitting back.

“To tell you were right “ Hades pulled his drink closer. “Christmas, Advent, the Mr.Bleu De Chanel adverts. Brings magic. Oh, and she’s doing that thing…”

Gorbind closed his eyes to let out a deep breath.

“She looks at all the pieces “ he said softly. “Puts corners in place. Starts putting things together. Fragments had diagrams, post-its. Kangana, a trip to the mill. Think you, Hades, were an exam. You just wait til she add the human condition.”

“I’m not human-“

“No, you’re a God,” said a third voice.

A woman in scarlet had appeared by the piano. She moved slowly towards them, her silken skirts rustled.

Hades snapped to his feet. He bowed, to take a gloved hand and plant a kiss near knuckles.

“The Lady Aurelia,” he beamed, stepped aside and pulled out a second chair.

“Shit, the Vampire,” Gorbind stood, holding onto his pint.

“Stand down, Detective Inspector Phalla,” Aurelia smirked as she pulled off her gloves. “I’ve no inclination to eat you. His Unholiness here, tells me you’re one of the colours on the wind. A thread in fabric of the universe. A White Knight, sent from The Powers That Be.” She lifted a veil frok her eyes, unpinned her hat to set it down onto the table. “I know of you, and of your young lady, Mango. Her real name, Gorbind. Altogether very fitting, I must say. A good choice.”

Clicking her fingers, she conjured up a scarlet-hued merlot.

It was definitely merlot.

Wiping his hand across his jacket, Gorbind remembered his manners. “How lovely to meet you,” he added a smile; more out of curiosity than anything.

She knew about Mango. That would do.

“Take a seat, Gentlemen,” Aurelia flashed a toothy grin. “We have much to discuss.”

****

Needless Alley, Birmingham.

“What take are we on?” Yawning, Hades stretched his eyes open. “I’m cold, wet, and that Christmas Market; it’s all a bit trippy.” Pulling up a fur-lined hood, Hades sunk hands into the depths of deep pockets. He’d overlook the fact that it was maroon, toggled and made him look like a hipster trying too hard. “Oh, and I could do with a stiff drink. Gunmakers isn’t that far away. We could skive.”

“Cold, wet?” Gorbind screeched loudly . He narrowed his eyes to open his jacket. His shirt was slashed across his stomach, there were two gunshot woods in the centre of his sternum. “You’ve not been shanked and shot, having ran down the stairs of the Floozie whilst trying to catch a bad guy.”

“That’s true,” nodded the Lord of The Underworld. “I tend to just evisc-“

A glare from Gorbind told Hades to quit whilst he was ahead.

“Take six, seven, nine and a half,” grumbled Gorbind, pulling his own coat closer. Knee-length, blue and quilted, his was a bit more sober compared to Hades. Rain was coming down in sheets; it had been all day. “She won’t commit anything to paper, unless she has proper sequence of events for the opening salvo. There are just snatches for now. She’s waiting for a tipping point; to stitch all the fragments together. Get to the point where our paths collide.”

“Meh,” Hades shrugged to root around in a pocket. He grinned to pull out a hip flask and a packet of Jelly Babies.

“Those,” said Gorbind, “Are mine.” Grabbing the bag, he tore away the corner. “Tell Padmi about these, and you’re a dead man.”

Scoffing, Hades flicked the lid of the flask.

Gorbind bit the head off a green jelly baby. Looking left and right, he checked around. The muse wasn’t to be seen for now.

“It’s okay, Mercury slash Hermes, is otherwise engaged,” commented Hades. “He’s had a rough patch lately. The world, his wife and every single writer in this world is out to brain him.”

“Gunmakers,” sighed Gorbind, stuffing the jelly babies into his pockets and making a move.

“Gunmakers,” smirked Hades, following the man fated to become his wing-man. “But Street Food Place first. Line your stomach. I can drink til hell freezes over…”

Rolling his eyes, Gorbind walked passed Tesco’s and into the blurry mass of market goers.

No one would see them, hear them; they might feel a breeze, a buzzing that they couldn’t decipher.

A zombie copper and the Lord of the Underworld. An unlikely alliance.

******

Habemus Hades

Savouring the taste of Ragu, Padmi pulled a face. She dropped a tea-spoon into a blue bowl, to reach for a pepper mill. It squeaked as though in pain as Padmi ground the contents.

She was alone this afternoon.

Gorbind had taken Mango out; he was enduring jelly, ice-cream and party-rings.

Padmi and Gorbind were also in the middle of a fight.

She was wrong; he was right.

Football, be damned.

Padmi had no plans to concede defeat. She was holding Gorbind’s stash of Jelly babies hostage until he gave up. Until he bent to her view and her view alone.

He could stew a little longer.

Behind her, the kitchen door swung open. She felt a cold, cutting breeze across the back of her deck. Padmi caught a reflection cast across shiny kitchen cabinets.

“Finally,” she said, her lips parted into a smile. “Sweetie, you have a face.” Lowering the heat beneath the pan, Padmi turned to face her visitor.

“Meh,” pulling at his cheeks, Hades shrugged. He passed a hand across coarse, dense stubble. “And a get-up,” he parted his jacket-tailored as it was was-to reveal a Waistcoat covered in pastel-pink poppies. “It’s a start.” He sighed, sinking his hands into his pockets. Hades looked down at his feet; he wiggled his toes within the confines of teak-coloured Oxford Brogues.

“And we know hows this ends, Hades “ Padmi looked the Lord of the Underworld up and down. “You’re a bit…rakish,” she squinted, to incline her head. “Skinny. Not my cuppa tea,” Padmi frowned, shaking head. “You should be a little…beefier.”

“The feeling is mutual,” Hades poked out his tongue, to laugh. “I’d worry if I was your cuppa tea, Padmi. It really wouldn’t work. Reckon you will ever have a face; the women of the Fragments universe? Aditi too.” His question was a distraction. He was suddenly feeling very vulnerable; exposed by having a face, an identity.

“No, never,” replied Padmi. “We’re any woman, and every woman. Oh, and Dracula,” she crossed her arms to leave against the work top. “You don’t have to see us, hear us to feel our thrall, our magic. It hangs in the air, our presence is pulled taut as thread in the fabric of the universe.”

Raising his brows, Hades hung on her every word.

Any woman and every woman.

Padmi was right. They both knew how this would end.

At least now, he had a face.