Tag Archives: writing

#NABLOPOMO2020: iNVOKING tHE MUSE


Restless and unrestrained, The Muse, is ready to go; he takes me by the hand. Softly, he whispers into my ear. His words make my heart race and my mind whir.

“Are you brave?” He asks, wearing the Devil’s smile. “Or just plain reckless?”

“Courageous,” I reply. “Now bring me my pens. We have work to do.”

(Gonna need a new calendar)

Yesterday, in a fit of pique I gathered up my notebooks. I re-arranged my desk to group the works in progress to see all of what was in the pipeline. What has been in the pipeline for years. There are seven different notebooks, each with a different story. All of which I plan to write, get through at some point. I don’t ever, throw anything away. I even found a plan for another Devan Coultrie book. That, however, doesn’t feel very immediate. It’s not calling to me as much as the stack of notebooks are.

The plan today, was start on on writing project, that needs to be done by next summer. A contribution for an anthology, that can be up to ten thousand words. I have a plan, a process that I fancy testing out. Only for The Muse to sulk today, having grinned at me yesterday, like a crazy thing. I may give it a bash today. Though the The Muse does feel as though it is hungover. Understandable, as it’s been a busy year for writing.

I had planned to sit at my desk all today. To close the door, have my head phones and write as much as I could. Then I woke up, tired and bleary eyed. I have some recharging to do, I think. I probably shouldn’t push myself to create when The Muse isn’t feeling the best. I know that there are things to write, to conjure and create. But the conditions and contributing variables don’t feel write today. One of the many reasons I choose not to do Nanowrimo, is that it doesn’t feel right to work so intensely in a short period of time. As disciplined as I can be, about writing, I don’t think I’d cope with such a gruelling regime. I like having relatively unfettered, mostly organic process of writing. That’s why there are so many different notebooks; why there are often post-it’s stuck into them as I think of something to add or construct.

What I’m inclined to do, is sit here at my desk. Leaf longingly through the leaves of the notebooks, to try and enter the zone. To see what stirs The Muse. To pick up my pens, if moved to do so. I don’t really like deadlines, even when I have self-imposed ones. However, I do like to be disciplined when it comes to writing. I get really very frustrated when not able to conjure up figments of my imagination. I might have a bullet point, in a plan, to meet, and then have nothing floating across my mind.

To think, I missed a blog post yesterday, and want to make up for it today!

#nablopomo2020 lockdown pt2

Here we go again.

Tomorrow, England goes into lockdown for the second time. A necessary action, I believe as the NHS faces a combination of COVID and winter pressures.

The memory, of that friday before the first lockdown is still there. I feel it very keenly; the meeting on the college campus. The horrible, heavy dread in the air. I was supposed to teach the next day; classes were to go straight on line. Even my counselling practice had to change and go to online/telephone.

This is somewhat different, it certainly feels different. A case of, I’ve done this before, but here we go again. Teaching is hybridised for the time being. The Counselling Practice, is COVID Compliant and continues.

My other focus, is creativity. You’ve already seen the socks and leg warmers. That is definitely going to continue. I’ve been thinking, ever since the Prime Minister made his announcement-as mad as it was-about my writing projects. I do have a stack of them.

The first lockdown was spent writing, and I daresay it helped managed my stress levels, a sense of being, amongst other things. I felt a very keen sense of loss, in not being able to go out, visit the BMAG or other creative places. I did manage to go the BMAG actually, to refresh and reabsorb energy for The Muse.

So, the writing projects; I have a few.

For one, I don’t need any more notebooks. In the first lockdown, I bought a pile, knowing that I had ideas that need to decanted. I sorted out all the stories, to be then tackle them. No more notebooks needed, at all. I am therefore, now faced with works to do. I had been wondering how I was going to get to them all. Generally, I will stare at them, pick up and open the one that calls to me. I also have to be in the mood to be carried away.

There is a vague plan. I have contribution to an anthology to write, in the first instance. It can be up to ten thousands words, and be inspired by Birmingham. I have a plan, a list of ideas actually that I plan to through for that.

Then, there are four, five, six other notebooks. Each with a story, that has been planned out in bullet points. Some are quite detailed. There are specific chapters. Others, have a general plan, that can be fleshed out as required. I used to write on a whim, just see where my imagination wanted to go. That was great, and for the most part it worked. Now, I bullet-point/plan, when the ideas come and use them as checkpoints. A sort of mesh, I guess, to then fill out. At least then, I don’t forget what I want to do. As such, there are post-its everywhere too. Bits and pieces that have come to me, that I’d like to integrate. You can never have enough post-it’s, I guess and I never throw anything away. Just in case.

All that is required, is my pens and my inks. I should just get on with them.

Some of them, have been sat on my desk for two years, gathering dust. I need to stare at them intently, to see what calls to me.

So, on the eve of lockdown part two, I have ordered some more ink. A new fountain pen too. Rest assured, I still have my Parker Sonnets. Nothing will ever replace them, and I will be heart broken if anything were to happen to them.

(I’ll never forget that first moment of using one in The Pen Shop. A proper Ollivander moment, with Fantasia playing, I kid you not. It was just the right one, the best fit, and I felt in love immediately.)

This is the current selection. I have a definite bias, when it comes to colours of ink. I have gone through two bottles of imperial purple, two of deep magenta, I think. Ordering more, I guess is more than preparation for writing projects. I even flushed out a few fountain pens last week, as I had used them a great deal and they had become clogged up.

I didn’t have time to prepare the last time. I didn’t even think, that writing was a way of enduring. It sort of just happened. Alas, I enjoyed it, it was useful. It was also meaningful. In a slightly different way, I guess, to baking Banana Bread.

I made bread, a few times. But then I gave up. It didn’t particularly give me a zing, in the same way that writing did and does.

There will be writing this weekend. I’m not doing NANOWRIMO. That has never really called to me. There is no way, no how, that I could that over a month; if only to write a first draft. My writing process is languid, in that I don’t particularly like those contained, very short deadlines. If I have six months, a year, that feels more plausible.

Alas, here we go again.

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.

 

 

At a loss for words

saucemagnoliajapanesegarden

 

At this moment in time, I am at a loss for words.

Ordinarily, be it at work, when blogging,  writing; I could waffle. I daresay, I could probably waffle for England. The hitting of a payload, a torrent of words and inspiration, does tend to be hard to stop. I experience it as un-brookable sensation, my brain is aflame with my handwriting only just keeping up with the daydreams wanting exit my imagination.

Words tumble;the whole thing is a emotional, psychological cascade. A torrent of things that might not have even been in my consciousness. To this day, I can’t read bits of Fragments, I remember my own pain.

In stark contrast then, is the barrenness of not writing. The overwhelming swirling of tumbleweed and screeching carrion birds in a desert.

I do have a list. I have a stack, in fact, of notebooks; each one has a list of things to write for that particular creating. So it’s not as though I have a block, as though The Muse-whatever form that creature takes-and I have deserted each other. The Muse has done what needs to be done, and gone off to where ever they are needed.

It is the impetus, the bounce and flow, the mojo that has gone.

At this moment in time, it’s actually difficult to look a the books. The ‘to-write’ lists make no sense to me. They may as well be written in a different language.

I think I need a rest.  Life has, after all, been rather busy.  Six books, a Bollywood wedding, a diploma in therapeutic counselling are all going to have an effect. As is not being in a stable teaching post. I have done, experienced, been part of one hell of an adventure. It is impossible for me to negate any of that; it has made me the woman, the person, the author that I am.

The diploma is now over-Just waiting for the certificate!  I am also thinking, about what the next phase of the counselling journey might involve. No idea what is happening on the teaching front; the end of the summer, would mark ten years as an educator.

That in itself, is special. I want to make it that far! Teaching has also been a journey in it’s own right.

I do feel a loss; as though I should be doing something, However, there is that small voice. The tiniest squeak, that is saying no. Something isn’t right, something hangs in the air; writing is not what I want, need,to do at this moment in time.

This, is voice, that I need to listen to. I also need, somehow, to accept, that the writing is paused. This is horribly difficult, when it has been a part of me for such a long time. I’ve enjoyed it; writing really is a facet of me. The thought of writing rubbish-whatever that might be-also crossed my mind. It’s been dismissed a couple of time. I want to value what I write, I want it to have some importance.

Self-care is the big thing here. To look after myself, nourish the elements within that have become depleted.

Who knows. Perhaps the words will come back.

Eventually.

 

Blossom in the Breeze

moorparkapricot

Blighty has been battered by bruising winds; Storm Freya has been swirling around to cause all sorts of mayhem. The Indian Spring has started to fizzle down, with temperatures returning to a seasonal norm.

I took a walk down to the plot today, to simply clear my head. For days now, stories to write have been jostling around in my head. I needed fresh air, half an hour perhaps to potter around and refocus a little.  There were however rain clouds over head and what was a smattering, spitting shower became a cold, momentary downpour that saw me beating a retreat.

In that brief window, I did manage to re-centre, think about how I might move a raised bed as it is now full of raspberry runners. They are everywhere, places where I didn’t think they would travel. These are fall gold, yellow autumn fruiting variety that aren’t actually half bad. I have had more luck, through sheer fluke, with yellow raspberries than pink ones. Raspberries, being raspberries, do rather like water and lots of it. By moving a raised bed, it can be located somewhere far more useful.

The mission continues to cover and contain. That had been my plan for this afternoon, to cover a couple of raised beds. The precipitation and chilly wind weren’t particularly motivating. I surveyed instead, to literally get a lay of the land. Reclaiming the plot is starting to feel a little less overwhelming as it all becomes a little more organised.

With the pottering, came the realisation that the Moorpark Apricot was effectively in full blossom. There has never been so much, with only one or two blooms. I do wonder though, if this could be false hope. The weather has been unseasonably warm, the winds are swirling and temperatures are falling away.  I do feel that the blossom is something of a lesson in resilience. Each and every bloom is looks very fragile, as though it might float off in the breeze. However, the blossom is hanging on in defiance of a sort.

 

From seed to six years #gdnbloggers

floraltrugjune2017
floral trug with fruit and roses

 

Six years. WordPress tells me that I’ve been writing this blog for six years. If this blog was a human, it has probably started school already and hopefully made some friends.

The whole idea of sharing started well before that, in a slightly different place with a slightly different aim. Slightly different in the way it was organised, and how I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. However, here I am; here is the blog.

A lot has been covered in that six years. There have been highs, lows, lots of things in  between that have made blogging and the writing process wonderfully human.

This blog  was quite literally founded on the seeds of an idea; a gist of which you can find on the About page. I do feel it is important to reflect upon where this blog started, what has been experienced and subsequently where it might go in the future. I do feel that it is evolving and over time things may change.

Highs, there have been a few. Gluts, for one. After three, four, five courgettes, what’s a girl to do? There have been pickles, preserves, the Petal Plonk experiments that will be really very interesting to comeback to. All in all, I’ve cultivated a piece of land that was unloved for a very long time. It was nearly five foot high with weeds when I first took it on. In it’s present state, the allotment does look rather sorry but it has already gone through a great deal. There have been glorious summers, where there has been lots fruit, vegetables, lots of glads, sunflowers and roses. There has been a lot of abundance. There have been both physical and mental benefits too. All in all, the impact of the allotment is very much holistic.

The lows experienced have always been hard to process, to understand but there has always been potential for learning and forward movement. I don’t think I will ever forger the broken cold frame and destroyed polytunnel. Those two things, were like being punched in the gut-my heart tore straight down the middle. Then there is the heavy clay that has meant raised beds. Raised beds that I built myself, much to my Dad’s amusement. I pinched his cross-head screwdriver and got blisters. He then picked up his drill to make sure everything was secure.  There are of course Human factors such as work, family, time and energy.  This year, I have felt those a great deal. At times, I have put so much on my plate, the allotment has felt very far away. Wheeling Mama F down there in a wheel chair during her post spinal surgery recovery was one of the most surreal things ever. She missed going to my allotment. She has since got her own and loves it.

The gardening, blogging and lots of other communities have been instrumental in helping. You’ll notice the Garden bloggers hashtag in the title; this is more than a homage. It is an acknowledgement of their support, their forum as well as the vibrancy and diversity.  I am always surprised by how far the gardening and blogging community stretches and therefore where the blog gets read. I am touched somewhat, that 200 square metres in the middle of England can reach so far a field. There is a pun in there somewhere. At the outset, I relied a great deal on online forums, and this is something that I will not forget.

My own journey behind the blog has been woven in at times. Teaching and counselling training have impacted a great deal on how this blog, how the allotment has developed. There has been writing too. I must admit, that at times there has been a sway towards the writing projects on the blog. That has felt as though it was a big move away, but I stand by that this blog is what triggered that. If it wasn’t for this blog, there’d be no green or yellow books. Therefore, the writing is an extension of this blog; that goes for both the fiction and non-fiction. This blog, the ideas and learning are the umbrella for what I have produced. So my profuse apologies, if you do feel that I have betrayed my green-fingered roots. I have genuinely struggled with whether or not things are so divergent. I like to think of this as configurations, different aspects of me, the blog and everything in between.

It is then only natural to think of the diversification and The Petal’s Potted Preserve Umbrella. There is a lot that goes on here.  The essence of the the blog, a shop front amongst other things, an umbrella of gardening, writing, adventuring, mental health and Psychology.

As for future growth, I have no idea. I give up on making plans!! I am thinking about forward movement, of getting things going. That does in part mean looking back to see who far things have come. I have missed writing about my allotment. Sat here, I have set aside a meaty big bit of Counselling diploma work to write this. I will do it, albeit when my mind feels like it. I do have writing projects, and I am learning how to marry those into things. These are bubbling away on the other hob and will no doubt filter into the blog writing.

So, I have a list of things to write  on here. I’d quite like to share things that I have experienced over the last year, there’s some gardening stuff that I’d like revisit. I have very much a forward looking view, and that makes me hopeful.

Stand by, I guess.

Forays into Fiction

In 2017, I made my first foray into fiction. Having written two non-fiction books about my allotment, this was something of a challenge in being very different. In all honesty, I really enjoyed writing both of the allotment books; there was a huge learning curve that really did open my eyes. I have learned lessons with each book, and hopefully continue to do so as things progress. No one book is perfect, and there is always someone who will offer you feedback to that effect. The broad plethora of writing out there, would suggest that you are never going to please everyone. Start with pleasing yourself, see what happens.

allthreebooks

That said, seeing and hearing people enjoy the allotment books is a wonderful experience. It is validation, yes. That something I have produced is out there, that it is being engaged with, and there is value to it.

There is a wonderfully romantic notion, that writing is easy; that writers of any description, do nothing but lounge around navel-gazing, smoking cigarettes, drinking tea and occasionally put pen to paper. I can tell you now; that is not the case, that could not be further from the the truth. I don’t smoke, navel-gazing does my head in, but I do like back to back cups of tea.

Then there is the idea of why write?

Well, why not?

There is just something about a pen, a notebook, a day dream and marrying it all together. All that day dreaming is of no use in the depths of my cerebellum; if released from there, it might actually have some use, some one might benefit from it in some shape or form.

I’ve been writing since I was fourteen, and on anything I could get my hands on with rather curly handwriting. Nineteen years later I still have the loose leaves somewhere, and I look back them with lovely, rose tinted glasses. Some of the stuff is in my opinion, altogether strange; however, I wouldn’t change it, I wrote it and for reasons only known to the universe. I still write Star Trek fan fiction; it was and is an wonderful immersion experience. Anyone who tells you that fan fiction doesn’t count as literature, could do with a broader scope on their bookshelf.

 

fragments

In previous posts, I have explored why I wrote ‘Fragments’. I wrote it because of family bereavements, because loss(in  many different forms, not just death) had become a big part of my world and I was trying to make sense of it. Compared to the allotment books, it is bigger, beefier and quite literally not so rosey. Don’t get me wrong, there are happy endings in there; I couldn’t bring myself to write abject, bleak, misery. What I wrote about was being human, or in the very least, trying to understand being a human and the relationships that we form. I’ll be honest with you. There are some parts of ‘Fragments’  that actually make me cry, and I wrote those bits! I can’t read them-I did, when crafting it, I had to force myself to do so-there are others, which make me smile, and I’m glad to have written as not many others might have.

With 2018, I am making my second foray into fiction. I have also broken my own self-imposed rule of not having human beings on the cover; so far, we’ve had insects and pastel art. This next foray, is continued diversification and into contemporary romance. It is actually rosy, unlike ‘Fragments’ so it does have some sunshine like the allotment books. Again, there has been learning; there has been further, very instrumental development and growth.

Over the last three months, I have posted bits and pieces about ‘Retreating to Peace’. I wanted to share the excitement that has been a big part of this project and how much that means to me.  Hopefully, you will have seen the teasers and things.

Yes, this is different. To gardening, to grief. Proper diversification, and then some.

Yes, you read it correctly; contemporary romance.

Romance as a whole, is huge! It is a big slice of the literature pie, the indie publishing pie as well.

Here I am, a minnow-a gardening one-in a big pond, with lots of established fishes.

I couldn’t tell you why I took this plunge. Only, that I wanted to keep writing after having finished ‘Fragments’. I must have taken one week, perhaps two, before stumbling across the Peace Novella Series.  This felt the right thing to do, the universe was sending me signals of some kind.

Plus, as with the other three books, what could I possibly have to lose?

There are some things, that as I was writing ‘Retreating to Peace’ were a big part of my awareness. Things, that have most likely shaped the production of it, and I haven’t really put them out there before.

First, I chose to write a male main character. He’s not that much older than me, he is taller though. Most people are to be honest. Plus, I didn’t want to write a swaggering Alpha Male who saves the universe whilst having a fragile ego broken by a heaving bosom.

Second, he’s of mixed heritage. I would not, do not wish to, label Devan Coultrie as a Person of Colour. That label sets my teeth on edge for a whole armada of reasons that I won’t go into here. I managed to shoe-horn Anglo, Indian and Scottish into development.

Third, not all romance is about rainbows and butterflies. I know, that seems an oxymoron, Thank goodness for Happy For Now.

Fourth, I spent my whole childhood watching Bollywood Movies. There are lots and lots of Bollywood/Indian cultural things mentioned in RTP. This is why, I took great pleasure in writing Devan’s Diwal story. Oh, and I have yet to find a would be Indian inspired romance. Trust me, I know who Meera Syal is as well as Anita Desai and Arundhati Roy. I may never scale their great heights, but a girl can dream, eh?

 

Eight years on #gdnbloggers

petalcoastercard

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.”

I did.

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.

allrangetwo

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.

 

Inside the leaves…not the green ones #Fragments

 

I rather cherish the memories of standing in Mum’s kitchen holding my own books in my hands. Each time, there has been a smile as to having worked hard and crafting something that I am very proud of and ultimately would like to share with others. I am not writing anything at the moment; my pens have temporarily fallen silent and are reflecting on new possible stories.

I am also involved in a project called the Peace Series That link will take you to the Facebook page. There is even an event that will hopefully plant Peace firmly on the map. My contribution is scheduled for release early in 2018, and is currently being polished.

There were plans to write a cookbook! Plans being plans, this is on pause; I will get around to that eventually.

For now, I have three books in circulation that I am genuinely proud to have written and developed. Two, are primarily to do with gardening and cooking; with this year being a poor year on the allotment plot, they are a reminder of good times, of fruitful times.

Then there is ‘Fragments’, which is my first foray in to writing fiction. This does not mean I have abandoned my green plot. Simply that I have decided to add an additional string and broadened my horizons a little more.

Bit of a heads up. This is not a fluffy book with hearts, rainbows and butterflies. It’s not a textbook either!

 

Above are a selection of passages from Fragments, these touch on the six different stories that are interwoven to paint a picture of how loss and bereavement may effect us. The people and their experiences are varied and diverse; I wanted to write stories that could be seen to reflect and represent the world around me and to some extent how I see it.

I like my book; I am however, very biased. It is seeing and hearing that other people have picked it up, read it and invested in it that truly makes me feel less biased.

You can find the ebook here . For paperback, click here.  If you happen to be in the USA, you can even walk into Pipe and Thimble in Lomita, California to buy a copy! The store is the only place on the globe that actually holds any of my books right now. That in itself is  a tad mind blowing.

If you do invest in a copy, of either version, then please share and leave the review. As a non-traditional, self published author, I am a cog in the Indie publishing world. Reviews help that universe expand, allowing books that we wouldn’t ordinarily come across become more visible. This expansion then allows myself and other Indie authors to be stumbled upon with our works being shared.

 

From ink to ebook

There are now three ebooks out there with my name on them.

You can find the links for them on the side bar and they are available for sale across the globe.

All three are also available in paperback, with ‘Fragments’ going live and properly in the next few days.

Fragments is fiction, with the two others being non-fiction.