Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Sunny Day in Cornwall

The clouds lifted as we set across Cornwall leaving the Lizard and heading north almost to Devon to join the festivities of the Charles Causley Festival. My signing was for noon and to be honest I really didn't expect anyone to turn up for an event by a début novelist at lunch-time on the Thursday before a bank holiday weekend. But they did!

The Bookshop is located in the heart of the town opposite the most lovely church.The owner greeted me warmly with the news he'd already sold 5 books! And sure enough a steady stream of people came into chat - this is Cornwall after all and many bought the book including a lovely librarian from Australia here on holiday.... Then there was a group of German tourists outside and writing down the title of the I hoped outside and told them it was coming out in Germany in November...

I met a local author and was able to find some more research books...a  brilliant day. Tomorrow I'm in Falmouth Booksellers at 2PM if you fabcy a chat and a piece of fudge...

But while driving across Cornwall I've been elsewhere...

I've also been interviewed by Eleanor Fitzsimmons on about how location plays an essential part in The Cornish House.

The lovely Claire Marriot reviews The Cornish House on her blog here.

I'm chatting to the fab Emma Lee Potter here

An interview with Trashonista here.

First Book Signing - Charles Causely Festival

Picture from the Charles Causley Festival site
I set off for Launceston in north Cornwall in a few minutes for my first book signing at The Bookshop in Launceston as part of the Charles Causley Festival...

Will report tomorrow....fingers crossed...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

One Thing I've say THANKS

I can't believe May is almost over. It has certainly been a month I'll never forget. I'm now a published writer and The Cornish House is well on its way...still scary but a relief too. It's wonderful to be able to talk to people about it.

In the next week I will be adding a page to the blog with pictures and description of places and things in the book...for the curious. I'm just waiting for the sun to shine for the photos...

I don't know about you but I have loved all the guest posts by friends telling 'One Thing I've Learnt'. They have shared a wealth of emotional and practical intelligence. All of them in some way have been a part of my to complete the month here is mine...

I could say that the one thing I have learnt as I have moved around the world is to leave one box packed until ready to move again (a superstition from our days travelling with Schlumberger). But I have learnt something far more simple and some times harder to do- the importance of saying thank you.

After my first visit to Cornwall in June of 1989, I wrote a card thanking Mrs Fenwick (I'd only known DH about a month when he took to Cornwall to stay with his parents) for having me to stay. I thought nothing more of it. Fast forward to 2005 and my mother-in-law has passed away. I was tasked with sorting the papers in her desk. What did I find? My thank you note from my first visit kept with a dried flower... Now whether she had known on that visit that I was to become the One for her only son or if she had kept notes from all his previous girl friends (and later disposed of them or maybe they had never written any) I'll never know....But the card and the words in them had mattered to her.

Over the years I have tried to instil in my kids the importance of saying thank you and hopefully writing it down. I'm not sure it's worked and in today's word of electronic communication the next generation will not have the pleasure of finding hand written words of appreciation....

So as May ends I want to say thanks to all who have shared their wisdom on the blog this month...

Debs Carr
Liz Harris
Sue Moorcroft
Julia Williams
Nell Dixon
Victoria Connelly
Kate Lord Brown
Eileen Ramsay
Christine Moriarty
Penelope Overton
Helen Redfern
Susie Vereker
Kate Harrison
Janet Gover
Kate Hardy
Emma Lee-Potter
Helen Hunt
Jenny Beattie
Anita Burgh
April Hardy
Julie Cohen
Carole Blake
Jenny Haddon
Fanny Blake
Kate Mills

I hope you have enjoyed their posts as much as I have!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kate Mills - One Thing I've Learnt

One thing I've learnt is that you can't judge a man by his washing-line. 
It was my sister who first said that a fireman had bought the derelict house that backed on to our garden.  Newly engaged herself, she had that urge to marry everyone else off too.  
We spent the summer trying to catch sight of him. The curtains were drawn at odd times. He cut down a tree but we missed him. Occasionally we heard banging from the house.  Once we heard him talking on the phone in his garden, but - having scrambled through a cotoneaster to peer through a hole in the fence - we could only see his broad back and shoulders.
Ever ingenious, my sister found that if she balanced on the upstairs bathroom windowsill she could just see his washing-line. And there was the problem: the row of tatty, grey long-johns fluttering in the breeze.
I was appalled. Fire protection, she suggested hopefully. Steptoe, I replied.
A few weeks later, we met him in a shop.  He looked nice, I thought, but oh, the pants. The pants.  My sister introduced us in a way that would have made Mrs Bennett proud. He offered us a lift home; she made an excuse for herself, adding slyly: ‘You can take my sister, though.'
As we drove back (passing my sister and her triumphant grin), he invited me in to see the work he’d done on the house.  Ultimately, we drifted outside to the garden. I hoped, for his sake, that he’d put his washing away.
I scanned the lawn.  Luckily, no washing.  In fact, no washing-line at all.  But, if I stood on tiptoe, I could just see a washing-line next door, complete with fraying long-johns. ‘Nice old boy,’ the fireman said.  
I married the fireman ten years ago. Every once in a while, on the odd occasion when my sister and I do something daft, he has been known to roll his eyes and mutter ‘Fire-proof pants…’   

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fanny Blake - One Thing I've Learnt

Over the last fifteen years I’ve made the transition from being a publisher to being a full-time writer and journalist. I was an editor for many years, working with both novelists and non-fiction writers, advising, editing, publishing. It was a peach of a job, but not one that I miss in any way now.

As gamekeeper turned poacher, the one thing I’ve learned is what a huge difference there is between editing and writing. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gaily advised authors to sharpen that character, lose that scene or even, in two cases, to rewrite the whole book. But now when my editor gives me similar advice (she hasn’t yet been moved to do the last, thank God), I think: How do I do that? What exactly do you mean? When I was an editor myself, I don’t think I realised how much thought is sometimes required to make those changes. I think back to ‘my’ authors and wish I had been more understanding of the process. Writing is much more demanding than I realised then.

People assume that I must find it easy to edit my own work. Far from it. By the time I’ve finished a novel I’m so close to it that I can’t see the most obvious of errors. Being an editor requires a degree of objectivity that gets lost in the creative process. In order to do both, I would have to put the book away for months before I could distance myself sufficiently.

The difference between a writer and their editor is best reflected in the distinction between the expression of a story, characters and ideas, and the clear communication of those to the reader. That is where the editor comes in. 

Writer and editor are united in their desire to create a story, characters and ideas and to communicate them to the reader. But their roles are different. One produces the material. The other rubs off its rough corners with (if you’re fortunate) a combination of delicate psychology, tact and syntactical skill.  It seems to me that writing and publishing a book is a process that demands the successful collaboration of both.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jenny Haddon - One Thing I've Learnt

One thing I’ve learned . . . .

In Laurence Durrell’s blissful tales of diplomatic life, Sauve Qui Peut he tells of The Balkan Times, the English language daily newspaper run by the Misses Grope, two sisters whose father used to be the Embassy Chaplin. It always carries the date of the previous day because once, many years before, it didn’t come out. The sisters operate on the principle that one day they will print two and catch up.

Bessie and Enid Grope and I are sisters under the skin. Whether because of temperament, upbringing or sheer writer’s cussedness, I’ve always been bad at writing off missed targets, rolling up yesterday’s unfinished business into today’s To Do List.

And what I’ve learned is: DON’T.

One week of failing to achieve desired wordage left me with 22,500 words to write on a Saturday when I also had to foodshop, get car MOT’d and take godchild to The Little Vampire.  (Memorable vampire cows, by the way, I recommend it.)  Impossible, right? You know it. I know it.

Well, I know it now. On the day in question I got up at 3.00am and actually, bloody tried.

So now I Don’t Carry Over. Well, not except for stuff like gas bills. Basically things have to be pretty damned important to move from yesterday’s list to today’s.

And, guess what? Now I’m not beating myself up with impossible targets, I actually achieve more.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Carole Blake - One Thing I've Learnt

Is that I have to live alone.
I moved straight from my parents house to my first 13 year marriage. I left my first husband for my second: another 13 year marriage.  The first few years of each were happy: the last many of each were definitely not.
Ending that second marriage was terrifying. For the first 24 hours, every minute was panic-filled with the phrase in my head: ‘I’ve never done this before, I can’t manage alone.’  On the 2nd morning I awoke smiling: for a moment I thought it was my birthday, or Christmas. Then I remembered: now I live alone.
That was 16 years ago and the joy has not diminished, but increased.
I’ve not gone off men: far from it.  I’m in a relationship where the extreme happiness has lasted longer than the happy years of my 2 marriages put together. The secret?  He visits, but we don’t live together. He wants to: I won’t.
Perhaps my job is so social that I need time alone.  I have friends to stay, I give parties. But I’ve never been happier than in the years I’ve lived alone.  And I’m going to keep it that way.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Cornish House - London Launch

Wow! Didn't think anything could match the Dubai launch but the London launch was great party...

Here's video clip here.

A huge thank you to the wonderful staff at Waterstones High Street Kensington who helped to make it such a wonderful evening!

Now for the pictures...first thanks to the photographers - Carole Blake, Brigid Coady, DD and DS2

The venue...
Waterstones High Street Kensington
The preparations...

The help...

We're ready...

The guests...
Brigid Coady

Judy Astley, Liz Fenwick and Adele Parks

Judy Astley and Brigid Coady

Marika Cobbold

Kate Harrison and Liz Fenwick

Brigid Coady, Liz Fenwick, Julie Cohen and Christina Courtenay

The reading...

The signing...

The evidence...

The fabulous Gear farm Organic Pasties...just before they all disappeared

It was a brilliant to rest up for the Cornish signings coming up this week...

31st May Charles Causley Festival Launceston - noon
1st June Falmouth Booksellers 2PM
2nd June Waterstones Truro 11AM

And also a lovely library talk at the St Ives Library at 7PM on the 5th of June...

Back to the 'One Thing I've Learnt' tomorrow...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Cornish House - Publication Day!

Gosh, what a journey! And that's in more ways that one...but today I have officially become a published writer. I'm sitting here staring at the final book just to remind myself that this is all real and not just some fabulous dream....

Today will be hectic...I have pasties to cook and no I didn't make them from scratch, but bought them from the wonderful organic Gear Farm which is a stones throw from my own Cornish house and has the best pasties....really. If you can't make the launch, you will have to trust me on this unless you make it to Cornwall or buy them from Whole Foods...

I have wine and fizz to chill...tricky at the moment when the fridge is filled with pasties! Ice to buy. Children to round up from various parts of the country...DH will be flying in from, um, I think Norway. My parents are here with me...

I have to remember to stop and smell the roses...or in this case enjoy this longed for moment. For someone who works with words everyday and uses those words to evoke and explain emotion I struggle when expressing my own. Right now I am walking on tightrope high above and dancing at the same time.

I have dreamt this dream a thousand times, but it has never taken this wonderful shape before...the one where I'm right now - supported by my whole family and friends old and new...real life and on-line. It is magic and I am blessed. For this day I can forget the hard work and the crows of doubt and just enjoy this magic moment!

So enough of my waffling...while you have been enjoying the wisdom of 'One Thing I've Learnt' either The Cornish House or moi have been appearing all over the place. So here are the links...

The first is for those that can't join in the launch in London tonight. the fabulous Heroine Addicts are throwing a launch party...this should really come with a warning judging by others I have attended there...But do drop by and join in the mayhem at The Cornish House Launch Party.

I'm on the Virgin Megastore ME blog talking about the The Cornish House here.

I'm answering some excellent question about me and The Cornish House at Female First here.

There is a wonderful review on Bookersatz here

The wonderful Mel Sherrett has written the most lovely blog post about friendship in this crazy on-line world we live in and it made me

Tomorrow will the be the picture round of the launch tonight (cameras working that is...) and then back to more 'One Thing I've Learnt' posts....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Julie Cohen - One Thing I've Learnt

I left teaching for writing, and I miss it. But I still get my teaching 'fix' by leading creative writing courses, giving workshops and talks, critiquing manuscripts and occasionally being a sounding board or sort of mentor to other authors who are trying to get published. It's very exciting, it teaches me more about writing craft, and it's fun. It is always a privilege.

One thing I've learnt is that there is nothing quite like the feeling when an author who you've helped finally gets their first publishing contract. Don't get me wrong—I can't take any credit for their success. Writing is hard work and nobody can do it but the author. But I know that before I was published, several generous authors helped me, reading drafts and giving advice. I probably would have done it without them—eventually, somehow, because I was extremely bloody-minded—but I know they helped me get there faster and with more confidence. They helped me avoid pitfalls, and to stop making the same mistakes over and over.

I love it when I feel I might have done the same for someone else.

In the past month, I've received two emails, and two public thank-yous, from four authors whom I have worked with, and who have recently signed their first book deal, or their first major book deal. I know that I don't feel one-tenth of the pride, exhilaration, excitement, and joy they feel. But they have let me share it. 

It's one of the best feelings in the world.

Twitter: @julie_cohen

Julie's 2012 Advanced Novel Writing workshops are sold out, but she is giving workshops at the Festival of Writing in York in September.

An ordinary woman. An extraordinary adventure.
out in paperback from Headline Review