Friday, 29 August 2014

My Book's Now Available In Paperback

It's been a long time coming but, after several false starts and dead ends, I've finally got my book into print. 

When we visited the beautiful Greek island of Symi a number of years ago I was fascinated by its beautiful architecture, its amazing history and its dependence on the sponge diving industry. It sparked me into finally getting down to write the novel I had always said that I had in me.

I had three or four characters floating around in my head along with an idea for the novel's ending and the island created a perfect setting for them all to get together. So I started to write and found myself following my creations as their lives unfolded in front of me and they showed me their story. 

I changed the island's name from Symi to Symos as a number of the locations were fictitious but some of Symi's history and all of its sunshine went into the book. Symi artist Cobi Saunder's watercolours which we had bought as souvenirs served as a constant reminder of the location and I eventually used one of them as the basis for my cover. I had a professional edit done and printed twenty copies for family and friends.

This is how the novel looked in that first edition. I wasn't completely happy with the book and, after taking professional advice and criticism from the brilliant Scott Pack (see link to meandmybigmouth blog over on the right) I rewrote it and rewrote it again and then did precisely................nothing.

A year or so later, shortly after moving to Framlingham, I met up with Caroline Goldsmith of Red Button Publishing and she encouraged me to persevere and go down the self-publishing route. So I rewrote the book once again and employed Red Button to do a copy edit to correct my punctuation and my grammatical mistakes as well as to provide ideas for improvement and criticism of passages that didn't work.  

Pleased with the final version I asked Caroline to develop an updated cover based on the original. I changed the title from Give Your Tomorrow to Give Me Your Tomorrow as readers considered it more suitable. At the end of May it was ready and I launched it as an e-book on Amazon. 

Encouraged by the initial response and feedback from readers I decided that, whilst Caroline had done a great job on my instructions, the cover didn't really capture the spirit of the book so I asked Spiffing Covers to design a new one for me. Spiffing Covers were brilliant in their approach and understood the book fully before sending me their ideas.

This was their original mock up. I was extremely pleased with their grasp of the book's content in providing this cover which, I believe, captures the novel's true spirit.

After a few minor tweaks we were ready to launch and, after approving the proofs, my first twenty copies arrived yesterday. 

So I held my first impromptu book signing in the dining room (self-publishing is so no frills) and have sent copies to those who helped. The remainder will be available (while stocks last) at Framlingham Book Shop and you can order from Amazon by clicking here.

Here is the "blurb" 

"A compelling story set in 1969 against the background of the Apollo Moon missions and filled with sunshine, fireworks and pop music, Give Me Your Tomorrow is funny, romantic and moving. Maggie Johnson and her son Alfie arrive on the beautiful Greek island of Symos. She's aiming to save Alfie from an oppressive existence in their home city of Liverpool and to develop a holiday business in the fledgling tourism industry . A family tragedy has confined Nicos Karteras to a lonely life on the island. When Maggie rents his idyllic cottage Nico sees a possible opportunity for friendship and perhaps an end to his loneliness but a simple misunderstanding threatens to blow everything off course"

Now it's all done and dusted I'm getting ready to start the next one while I wait for the royalties to flood in.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Night In Ipswich And A Day In London

After watching Liverpool's disappointing defeat to an excellent Man City side on Monday night and needing something to cheer me up, I went with Marion on Tuesday to the wonderful Ipswich Film Theatre where you are always guaranteed a warm welcome. Sadly Joe, our film choice for the night, is not exactly the barrel of laughs that my upbeat nature thrives on. That's not to say it isn't a good film- it's an extremely good film but boy is it GRIM. 

Tye Sheridan plays Gary Jones the fifteen-year-old son of depraved and evil alcoholic drifter ,Wade. Despite his background, Gary is a kid with a work ethic and he is taken under the wing of ex-con gang master Joe played by Nicolas Cage and given the job of poisoning trees to clear a forest. The performances from Sheridan and Cage are central to the film and  even boozy, violent, whoring but honest Joe is a better role model for Gary than his irredeemable father. The levels of violence in the movie are, at times, extreme but the underlying theme is one of redemption and whilst Joe and Wade have passed the tipping point there remains hope for Gary to escape to a better future.

The performance of Gary Poulter as Gary's drifter father in this film was so convincing I wondered why I had not seen or heard of him before. It turns out that he really was a homeless man who sadly died shortly after the film was made.

Our choice of entertainment yesterday was a little more upbeat when we travelled to London to see Alan Ayckbourn's 1987 play A Small Family Business at The National Theatre. Having been involved in our own small family business I wondered if it would reflect our experiences in any way. But, apart from a few references to "the lads", Ayckbourn's furniture makers were a long way from Instanta. The play is almost (but not quite) a farce and opens with a very funny surprise party scene where we meet the family. From then the plot darkens as innocent and honest MD Jack discovers that his own scruples are not shared by his co-directors and their spouses. As in Joe, the underlying theme here is also one of redemption but in Ayckbourn's cynical view of entrepreneurship will Jack's incorruptibility prevail or will he jump aboard the gravy (or in this case spaghetti) train along with everyone else?

It was an entertaining afternoon. The suburban detached house set was brilliant, all of the cast were great and there were some very funny scenes but, like A Taste Of Honey which we also saw at The National a few moths ago, the play has not aged too well. Whilst it captures the culture of the tail end of Thatcherism brilliantly things have moved on. 

Before the play we had time to do a little sightseeing and had a look at the ceramic poppy installation at The Tower Of London. This is a very beautiful and poignant artwork and well worth a detour to see before it closes on 11 November by which time 888,246 poppies will fill the moat.

We walked along the Thames path on the way to the theatre. We were very impressed by this building Three Quays which has a surface of rippled constantly flowing water by William Pye.

Although there was a bit of a limescale problem where some of the water had not followed its correct course.

Every time we walk this path we notice something new. Yesterday we were impressed by the splendour of the old Billingsgate fish market - these iron grilles above the gates are beautiful.

We had time for a snack and tried Zorita's Kitchen just below the Millennium bridge. It's a Spanish tapas restaurant and deli and we enjoyed a delicious light and inexpensive (by Central London standards) lunch of cheese, Spanish omelette and sardines on toast with a good glass of Tempranillo. 

After the play we had time to meet up with Paul, Jospehine and Catherine for dinner at Mai Sushi in Chalton St near St Pancras. It was our first experience of a Japanese sushi restaurant. The food was very good, beautifully presented (see above) and we didn't have to push the boat out.

Our journey home was marred by a family of two adults, two kids and a grandmother who decided to spend the entire journey laughing uproariously and thinking it was fun to sing "This is a song that will get on your nerves" in full voice for most of the hour long train journey to Ipswich. Their reaction to commuters who expressed their displeasure by moving carriages preferring to stand for the rest of the journey were howls of derision and "some people are miserable" and "they don't know how to enjoy themselves". Sad thing is none of us had the guts to point out to the tipsy bunch that, whilst everyone loves to see a happy child, some people had had a long day at work.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Last Week's Finds

I had three sessions out with the detector again last week. The field that I have been searching is due to be planted very soon so I'm going to keep trying there until it's not available even though the good finds are, understandably, starting to decline. 

Although looking at all this (over 180 bits) that I tipped out of the finds bag when I got home after each outing it's clear that there is still plenty of stuff to be found - any one of these items could have been something interesting rather than the scrap lead which has been predominant in the last three trips. I would love to know why so many tiny lead fragments turn up in fields. 

Here are close ups of some of the finds from these piles.

Damaged post medieval double loop sword belt hanger 

Victorian silver Torquay souvenir brooch
Queen's IV Dragoons button c1790

Musket and pistol balls

Lead pot mends

Post medieval pimple button and stud

Copper alloy vessel fragment

Post medieval button with rose design

Post medieval lead button
Spindle weight
Freemason button
Royal Artillery Button c1800
Damaged post medieval spectacle buckle
13th Century Medieval cut quarter penny - either King John or Henry III 
Medieval cut half penny 13th century
Charles I rose farthing c1630

Southwold token "A half for the poores (sic) advantage" 
Medieval buckle or brooch
Lead cloth bag seal post medieval
18th or 19th century clog clasp
French Dauphine type jetton from South Eastern France c1373-1415 sadly plough damaged.
This dog or cat tag "Boots" has the local newsagents' Fax number on it. Hopefully Boots only lost his or her collar.
A good post medieval complete double disc type lead cloth bag seal with SR initials 
This lead fragment may be a stylus

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Goodbye To Our Lovely Neighbour

When you buy a house in a completely new neighbourhood and spend six months employing an army of builders and handymen to knock it about you need neighbours with patience, a good sense of humour and, ideally, not quite perfect hearing. Our neighbour Dorothy had all those attributes and many many more as she and her husband Wilfrid made us extremely welcome incomers to Suffolk.

So it was with enormous sadness that we learned yesterday that Dorothy passed away in the early hours of the morning. She had not been well for several months and moved into care in Ipswich towards the end of 2013 - a temporary arrangement which tragically turned out to be permanent. We will never forget her smile and the way that her face lit up when we came round for a chat with a pot of tea and we are sorry that our time as neighbours turned out to be so desperately short. 

The plight of the elderly and of good neighbourship has been and will continue to be a major topic especially in rural communities such as this with an ageing demographic. Other neighbours speak highly of Dorothy's kindness to others in the years that she lived here. When we last visited her, as usual, she was thinking of others and not herself and she asked that we made sure that Wilfrid was okay. We can only hope that we can emulate her kindness by making sure that, like her, we keep any eye out for others who are less fortunate than ourselves. 

Goodbye to a lovely person.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Hats, Shirts And Subtitles

I mentioned on an earlier blog that we've got a wedding coming up shortly. It's two of our oldest and dearest friends' son's big day and we want to create a good impression. I got a new suit last week and Marion has a dress for the occasion but she didn't have a hat and I didn't have a suitable shirt so, in the absence of a hatters and a menswear shop here in Framlingham we decided to take a trip in the direction of Norwich yesterday. Marion had found The Hattery at Ringland on the internet and they were very helpful on the phone.

They had a massive selection of hats and Marion had no difficulty in finding the right one to go with her outfit.

As we were near Norwich, I decided to drive into the city centre and visit John Lewis for the shirt. I found a great selection and managed to buy three in their sale for little more than the regular price of one. I was very pleased until I got home and tried them on (I didn't want to trouble the assistant with taking them out of their fancy packaging) . Sadly it seems that Calvin Klein's style is ultra slim fitting and, sadly, I'm not ultra slim. This meant another drive to Norwich today where I managed to replace the shirts but at double the cost as none of the bargain shirts were right. At least I did trouble the assistants to take them out of the packaging this time and probably left them cursing as they rewrapped the three or four that didn't fit.

The evenings are drawing in and the summer weather is not quite what it was so we decided to go to the pictures twice this week. First was the Swedish adaptation of The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson's brilliant debut novel, at the lovely Riverside in Woodbridge on Tuesday where we enjoyed a great meal at the restaurant before the film. I read the book a year or so back and loved it. The film is good fun but misses out huge swathes of the novel and fails to meet the book's dizzy levels of absurdity. There are still plenty of laughs and it is well worth seeing but if you want the very best of The Hundred Year Old Man read the book.

Last night we went to Ipswich to the excellent IFTT for Cycling With Moliere. We particularly wanted to see this movie as it was filmed on location on Ile De Re where we enjoyed two holidays in the last few years. Ile De Re was as stunning as ever - especially as the off season filming depicted it free of the crowds who flock there in the summer. A successful actor travels to the island to recruit an old (unsuccessful) actor friend for his proposed production of Moliere's The Misanthrope. Over a week, the pair rehearse the lead and supporting roles alternating the parts on the toss of a coin. It's a gentle and whimsical film with a touch of romance and comedy as the misanthropy of the lead role starts to creep into each of the actors' characters and threatens to destroy their already shaky friendship. I'm a big fan of whimsy (as you will know if you have read my book) so this film was right up my street. 

And speaking of my book, the proof copies of the paperback version arrived today. I'm very pleased and will be starting to publicise it as soon as we get home from our next trip to Scotland.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Happy 80th Aunty Maureen

We've had a weekend away. On Saturday we drove to Rochester and spent a day with our lovely little granddaughter while her mum and dad had a well earned day to themselves. We had a great day - nothing beats the company of a bright and cheerful two-year-old.

Yesterday was a happy day tinged with a little sadness as we headed to North Sheen for Marion's Aunty Maureen (seated above's) 80th birthday party. It was good to see Maureen together with her brother Gerald and his wife Joan looking so well but sad to think of those who are no longer with us like Maureen's husband Arthur and Marion's mum and dad (Maureen's brother Dudley and his wife Flo). We stopped briefly at the crematorium en route to the party to spend a few moments thinking of them.  

Maureen's family did her proud and put on a fabulous spread which could have fed the eighty guests for a week. The Kew Park Rangers football pavilion was a perfect venue and everyone enjoyed catching up with family and friends some of whom they hadn't seen for a long time.

I can't remember how long it was since we last saw Marion's cousin Allison but we hope that we can catch up with her again next time we are in her home town of Edinburgh.

Marion's uncle is so like her dad.

And Marion's sister Sue looks more like their mum every time we see her.

Thank you to Lynne (right) and Sharon for inviting us. Don't forget to visit us in Suffolk.

We've a fairly quiet week ahead this week so we're taking advantage of the darker evenings and heading to the cinema tomorrow night for The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared at the Riverside in Woodbridge and Bicycling With Molieres at Ipswich Film Theatre Trust on Wednesday.