The days have become longer, the sun is shining-mostly!- and there is a chance for some downtime. Downtime makes for a cracking opportunity to catch up on reading. From the graphics above, you can see that there is something of a diverse range on offer. There are the two gardening books, one romance novella, a two novels and series of short stories.
With June and July, the growing season becomes apace. If you have more courgettes than you know what to do with, or really want to know about Aloo gobi-that’s spuds and cauliflower, then those are for you.
Retreating to Peace and Postcards from Peace are my contributions to the Peace Novella Series. A stable of different authors awaits if you fancy having a look at the rest of the series. With RTP, Devan Coultrie arrives in Montana with something of a broken heart. There is follow up in Postcards as we get another look into his life.
Fragments is a great big of six inter-related stories as it considers what happens when we lose the people- and animals-that shape our worlds. Kangana sees Gorbind-he appears in Fragments-have a no straight forward romance. There are also snatches of Birmingham, with Lucifer from the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery making an appearance.
As I approach the Spring Equinox, I’m taking the tine to take stock. Taking the time to pause, absorb the magic that hangs in the air and process how cycles are completing. Processing how things have changed a great deal in the last two years.
This week, is certainly significant and for a number of reasons.
As you read this, I’m either sat at my desk, fiddling with a pen and notebooks. braving the bracing wind and pacing the plot or snuggled up beneath a blanket with a book, Buffy or something similar. (As I type, I’m watching the box set of Endeavour…..so that’s more likely, to be honest.)
I’m having a break, a pit stop; a gentle rest, after what has felt like a never-ending Spring term. I am also very, very close to the end of my training hours for the Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling. It’s a matter of touching distance and a handful of hours.
Cycles are definitely ending, new ones are waiting in the wind. There is a great deal of anticipation in the air, as something of a tipping point arises with the potential for forward movement.
Today, Tuesday 19th March, is two years since Fragments was published, since it went live on Kindle. As my first foray into fiction, this is a book that is very, very important. This week, also sees the release of book six and the journey between three and six , it completely blows my mind as to how it has unfolded.
There is big difference between Fragments and the two gardening books, least of all because of being fiction and non-fiction. The two gardening books, are like sunlight on a page; they both bulge and burst with it. Fragments has a certain big, black grey cloud presence to it.
Yet, some grey clouds do have a silver lining. There is a silver lining to Fragments, it’s a thread that runs all the way through to be knotted at the ending. The ending of the book itself, and also where I am now with book six due for imminent release. It was never my intention to write a heavy, hard going book. So I wrestled with working towards endings that felt appropriate for the narratives explored.
I had a vague plan for how Fragments would go, I used a grief model to have a skeleton and wove the plan around it. The model was important to me; I wanted to have something to pin the book to in relation to Counselling, my understanding and development at the time too. In hindsight, I know that fragments is filled with sadness, darkness and is brimming with emotion. On the other hand, there is light at the end. It’s a glimmer, faint, but it brews, blooms and becomes far greater than one ever imagined
Each of the six stories is important. The Anands, are a family of mixed heritage. Daniel and Caleb are a gay, married couple. Maya and Aldo, Michael and Sophie are two sets of parents who are grieving children at different ages. Matthew’s bond with grandparent is broken, Albie copes with the loss of his wife and Chris is without man’s best friend.
These are real, everyday people that are all around us.
Fragments was book-ended by bereavements. One, occurred six months before I started to write, the second three months towards the end. At the time, that was a surreal episode of life imitating art, and I couldn’t write at that point. Physically picking up my pen at that point, was painful beyond measure. Writing Fragments was a fevered and frenzied experience. Each and every chapter was like a vivid day dream as it played out in my head and I used my pens to keep up. The whole writing process was a lot like directing and watching a movie; I might as well have had a camera in my hand.
There are two bits, I can imagine really very clearly on screen. Michael breaking up the nursery and Maya in the Ladies toilet. Even down to the camera angles, edit and panning.
In writing it all down, I got there eventually. I had to; Fragments was not going to be left an unfinished, twelve cylinder symphony. This was a book, that had to happen, had to be out in the universe. Not just for me, but anyone who might want to read it.
There is abject, absolute heartbreak in Fragments. If you read it carefully, you can probably read, see and feel the moment my heart goes crack from top to bottom.
The crack starts to heal with Retreating to Peace. By Kangana, the crack is gone and I’ve acknowledged where the bruises were. It has taken Postcards From Peace to buff the shine back and know the dents are no more.
All six books, move towards an unexpected silver lining. Books six, comes out on Friday. It’s no accident that this is around the Equinox, this is a phase change in writing of a sort. I will be writing, definitely. Just in a different frame of mind, I guess.
Apologies for not being around. There has been a lot going on, not bad, I assure you! This has made gardening and writing a bit more challenging. The next few months are shaping up to be both interesting and busy, but I am still around, not disappearing or dropping off the proverbial radar.
Not sure quite what gardening or when it will occur. In the mean time, the ink pens are in action and writing projects are happening.
Just wanted to remind you, of the books and there are quite a few now! If you wanted a bit of advice and guidance beyond the blog, there is the ‘yellow one’ and the ‘little green book’ that will help make things a little less confusing.
And if you fancied something completely different and not in the least bit gardening related, there is Fragments and also Retreating to Peace. Links to your right.
All of the books are available in both paperback and ebook.
This will be the culmination of a a year long writing project that was ably abetted by all of the lovely fellow writers in the Peace Novella Series. As the 19th January 2018 comes closer, I am hoping that more and more readers will start to dip their toes into this set of books and the reach of the project will get wider and wider.
There have been bits and pieces that I have shared over the last few months, as you can see below.
Devan Coultrie was at a loss. His world had been shaken, his heart fractured and emptied by death. In search of a way to heal and shake of the damage, Devan sticks a pin a map with the intention of going wherever it lands. Leaving the shores of the United Kingdom, he ends up Stateside, deep in the heart of Montana. With all of his worldly possessions, Devan drives into Peace and onto a plot to land to start life over.
Like him, the farm and its acreage is downbeat, derelict and defeated. When Aditi Rao arrives in Peace, Devan’s plans for himself and his home are disrupted. He has history with Aditi and she’d quite like to write another chapter. Can he show Aditi that his retreat to Peace is more than just a plot of land and on a different continent? Can he find a way to share his home, his heart and a new beginning?
It has been fantastic working alongside a vibrant and diverse range of authors. Each and every one brings something different to the series; I have developed and learned so much by being part of these group! You can find full details about Peace on the novella website.
I have really enjoyed being part of this group. There has been a Diwali story, halloween and thanksgiving too. I know that there is also a Christmas Story lurking somewhere, and there is possibly going to more some seasonal, festive writings next year too. Admittedly, this is something of a deviation from gardening! In a weird and wonderful way, I do think that writing about my allotment, writing the gardening books has lead to this adventure.
There will be paperbacks! Yes, the plan is for all of the ebooks to have a paperback version and there are already some out there!
Eight years ago, I was coming to the end of my initial teacher training; the PGCE was over and I was looking to the future. I had also started to do an experiment.
During that final summer time, I wasn’t feeling particularly positive. I had no idea whether I would make it through the course, my morale was very low and I wondered whether the vocation that I felt was just a whisper on the wind that I had misunderstood. For some daft reason, I threw aside the applications for NQT posts having been sat in the garden trying to fill them in in the sunshine. I took the bus to the High street, went into Wilko’s and came out with seeds and pots.
I really fancied sowing those seeds, and how difficult could it be to sow a tomato, a chilli and why not throw a runner bean into a pot. See what happens. A few weeks later, I was in a gardening store, and I saw a crate of onion and shallot sets. There were far too many for me, so I sunk some into the garden-my parent’s garden-and gave away the rest to a neighbour.
Watching seedlings come through-the summer of 2009 was freakishly warm-and then having chillies and tomatoes growing lusciously and then cropping, was something of a marvel to behold.
As the summer drew to end, my sweet peppers were damp but productive; something had clicked, changed; I found that I rather enjoyed sowing seeds, watching them grow, and you know, those four courgettes a week did come rather handy in Mum’s kitchen. I thought about expanding the science experiment-that is in essence what it was-and to be fair, Dad was thought there were a lot of plastics pots lining his garden.
I knew that there were allotments in the area, the neighbour who I had palmed off onions too, he told me about them. Off I went to a search engine to investigate.
What he didn’t tell me, and it was only after I called the allotment secretary as listed on the local authority information, that I found that the onion neighbour were the one and the same. I know, daftness. I put my name on the list, I wanted an allotment.
I had already been documenting my seeds sowing; by writing things down, I used another website. Horticultural Hobbit was born, there was a growing-literally-body of work. I even asked a good friend of mine, to give the name a face, give the name a face. He took one look at me, and came up with the figure holding carrots. The figure that we now know as Petal. I was adamant. that this would be my alter ego, that the allotment in the shadow of the Shire Country park and Sarehole mill would be a good record of my growing adventures.
By November, I was renting half an allotment plot. This was now about allotment adventures. It took two weeks to clear it, and to get cracking. There was half a plan-sketched out-as to what I wanted to do, what I wanted to achieve. This was going to be anything but easy.
Put quite simply, I didn’t have a clue. What I was doing, how I planned to do it, was a bit of a haze. What I did next was to join an online forum, I had questions needed answers. This was by far one the best things I could have ever done. To have joined a community of like minded people, from whom I could learn, use as a sounding board and also pass on the benefits of my mistakes.
What followed was growth, development and further scientific enquiry.
Growth. Development and a journey. A journey, that is on going and to this day.
There have been peaks and there have been troughs. That’s a lot of tomatoes, more courgettes that you can shake a stick at. There have been weeds galore-current, state of play, by the way-and storm damage, sometimes not enough time in the life space continuum; everything has ebbed and flowed.
It is impossible for me sum up in this post every triumph and disaster, every seed sown and harvest made. Plus you can find it all in the archives. All in all, a journey is documented and is shared.
Sowing seeds and then writing about it has had benefits that I could not have possibly for seen. I remain a teacher, although my jobs have varied since that summer of 2009. There have been a few posts, where I have been able to use gardening to support students; at one point, I grew chillies in a classroom. The plan is to continue with the vocation. I have become a trained listener, started to train as a counsellor, as the impact of gardening on my own mental health has encouraged me to consider how the mental health of others could be supported. In particular, work carried out with veterans, mental health and gardening really struck a cord and led to the development of the Pledge for Warriors.
Then there was the writing outside of the blog. I was able to write guest blogs with the support of Michael Perry and this tipped something of a balance. I felt that this was really positive step forward and helped to move within the blogging and gardening community. Plus, there was the whole ‘bollywood gardener’ hashtag, I couldn’t tell you how that came about, but I am grateful for Michael coining it and I am keeping it! Plus, I remember swooning and almost keeling over when termed as being gardening royalty…that is a dream that I will continue to keep a hold of as motivation to persevere.
I am still trying to be a part of that community, but what this did was edge me towards writing a book. I looked at the guest blogs that I had written, and had a gut reaction. Two years ago, in something of a haze I sent my youngest sister a text message; I was going to write a gardening book based upon the blog.
“Okay, good luck,” she said. “Do what you want.”
There was definitely a haze, and I did write that book. I wrote two. Now, they might not be Pulitzers, and you won’t find them on The Times 100 Best seller lists any time soon. But they are my books, and I am very glad to have written them both. They are not perfect, I don’t pretend to be perfect in anyway; I have however, learned from the processes and there is further development, dare I say it, growth. Writing the two gardening books led me to the Indie authors community and has set me onto another, additional pathway. A pathway towards fiction, towards writing in another direction. I wrote ‘Fragment’s and that couldn’t have been more different to Plant pot tales and so grow eat. This writing journey continues, and there is a release scheduled Spring 2018. As for a return to gardening books, maybe; there are plans.
Then there was the swag, the merchandise that the figure holding carrots-Petal-was emblazoned upon. Petal, who gave her name to Petal’s Potted Preserve, and was far more than the Orticultural Obbit; far more than just my alter ego. There have been lots of bits and pieces-through trial and error-that have been developed, shared and have actually gone to loving homes. A good sign, I guess, of how much this blog, the process of gardening and growth has changed as there is now also a Petal shop.
Petal is something that I believe in, that I enjoy developing. She is a brand. A brand that is diverse, growing and hoping to get bigger, better and stronger. There are many different facets to Petal, the Orticultural Obbit and her Potted Preserve. To date, I have have uncovered just a few. The plan remains to keep searching, to keep growing and developing.
It truly has been an interesting eight years.
Petal and I are currently on our summer holidays, all two weeks of it. We have already spent a few days floating around Cambridge, by way of having time and just adventuring to a different beyond the borders of Middle England. This has lent itself to sitting in different spaces and writing.
As well as tending to the allotment-as hit and miss as it has been-there has been a parallel project this year of writing another book. This book is a work of fiction, the previous two projects have been non-fiction and allotment orientated. I chose to write fiction for a number of reasons. Firstly, I wanted to; amusing as it is daydreaming and having a smile creep across your face, to put it down onto paper is really quite nice. And it is all on paper, I choose to hand write my stories long hand in ink in my notebook and then type up, prepare them further later on. It does however mean that I have to decipher my rather awful handwriting. Handwriting, that if you ask my mum, makes your eyes go a bit a funny. Second, the current work is about a topic that people might struggle to talk about, to process. I am writing about grief and bereavement, and I guess it is all borne out of having lost the last of my Grandparents just over a year ago. The process in part, is for me a process of reflection and getting a handle on my own experiences. Third, I have written non-fiction, writing fiction is a step beyond my comfort zone. It is a step towards doing something different, it is a step further in an ongoing process of development.
Writing this third book has been very different compared to the first two and it will take the time necessary for it to be where it should be. I am not going to rush it and force daydreams to appear. There have been periods of time where there have been no daydreams, I have written nothing. Yet the plan, over the summer, was to make a dent and to write. So I have been trying.
See, I told you my handwriting was interesting.
The current work in progress is all planned out and there is a distinct start, middle and end. What I need to maintain is a focus and get the job done. This is somewhat difficult, with writing being shoe horned in amongst different aspects of real life.
What you see above, is book three, being written in my notebook. The tea was very useful, and facilitates the process. There is a vague plan, for a book four-that this is probably going to be garden related, in some shape or form. However, there is another idea that has started to niggle at the bag of my brain.
A couple of very good friends and fellow gardeners, had proposed that Petal-the avatar-might have some adventures. This thought was as I said, niggling at the back of my head. Then, I had a day dream as I found myself thinking about. What you see above, is a burst. A rough, unready, just a splatter, segment. I am unsure, uncertain to a great extent, as to where this is going to go. What I can say, is that there will be Petal Petunia-oh, she now has a surname-adventures. I will be thinking and hopefully daydreaming, to grow this initial burst.
I was thinking, about how I might play with this Petal Petunia burst. Only for something advertised by The Big Comfy Bookshop to attract my attention. They were doing something wonderful with the use of Rory’s Story cubes. So with some story cubes now in my possession, I am thinking that these may be useful.
If you get a moment, please go visit the The Big Comfy Bookshop. I have had the pleasure of being sat inside, nursing a big mug of tea and eating cake whilst writing book three. There are not many independent bookshops out there, or book shops that really support the community to encourage and facilitate greatness. Plus being a bookshop, it is a heaven for every Bookworm.
There is a week left of the summer holiday, a second adventure is only hours away. The notebook and pen are stowed away in readiness.
Here’s to writing adventures!
There is only one day left to get e-versions of both books at 99 pence!
Just think of all the courgettes and things that are now in full scale glut.
Both books contains recipes and ideas that might prevent you from going slightly too doolally and lobbing courgettes and beans as far as you can. If you ever wanted to make your own jams, jellies, pickles and preserves you can find some potentially useful nugges that I have learned from experiments.
You can find links on the blog: right hand side, or you can go click on the page that says books above.
Once the countdown deal is over, both books will revert to their pre-promotion prices. So go have a butchers and share far and wide.
Just to let you know, that for the duration of the growing season-til October-ebook/kindle versons of both #Plantpottales and #SowGrowEat are reduced in price.
‘Playing with Plant Pots’ is now priced at £1.99. You can find the link on the side or click here.
‘Sow, Grow and Eat’ is now priced at £2.00. The link is also on the side or click here.
The paperback versions remain the same if ordered via amazon.
You can however obtain paper copies from me at a reduced priced(whilst stocks last) via PayPal.
Sow grow eat is priced at £8 plus £2 P+P
Plant pot tales is priced at £6 plus £2 P+P
Simply get in touch via Social media-twitter, instagram, FB or drop me a line via email: pfarmah AT hotmail DOT com. -Enter the email manually, as I don’t like spambots and you don’t want them either!
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