Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Prussia Cove

The above picture was taken recently, at the Rumps, North Cornwall, with one of my best mates. It has nothing to do with this post, but I promised I’d post some of the pictures I took and will share them over the next few weeks. A reminder of a very special walk which I’m writing up for Cornwall Today (also see one at the end of this post, from Pentire Head).

Last week was a real emotional rollercoaster – as my life often is – regarding My Novel and Agent. One day, when the sun shone, I would be optimistic and cheerful. The next, when it rained, I was utterly downcast and miserable. But most of my spare time was spent rehearsing for Prussia Cove.

Ten years ago my friend Paul organised a weekend staying at Prussia Cove for a friend’s birthday. To cut a long story short, the weekend has grown and grown, until 60 of us gathered to stay in various houses and cottages on the estate. We all take food and wine, which we share, and bedding, and logs for the fire, and eat and drink and SING and make music.

It was the second time I’ve been, and a really fabulous weekend – 7 of us stayed in the Lodge, sharing somewhat Spartan bedrooms – and a bath on the landing (!) with long suffering John being the only man. (He opted for being Plug Monitor….)

In fact it worked so well and we got the living room very cosy with a log fire on which we toasted crumpets, and this room became a warm little safe haven against the weather which was dire.

We had two very late nights, a lot of drinking and partying and an incredible selection of workshops (including a scratch orchestra) on both Saturday and Sunday, and after the fancy dress dinner on Sunday, lots of us performed, with varying degrees of success depending on amount of alcohol consumed and levels of exhaustion. (My second performance, with Paul and Janet, started off well, then I panicked, but ended up OK and reduced the audience to gales of laughter, so that was OK.)

We sang a very simple 3 part harmony of Kyrie Eleison on Sunday morning that somehow grabbed me and reduced me to tears with its beauty. It was then a matter of trying to stop, which proved difficult. But we sang such a wide variety of numbers, and heard a fabulous standard of musicians, it was quite awe inspiring.

I came away feeling very fortunate to be able to be part of such an event – and we’re all looking forward to booking the Lodge again next time (minus one who will be in Australia!).

So I’m shattered now, going to bed early and waking in the night with music pounding through my head. Roll on next year….

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Unsettling, and an Amazing Surprise

Two unexpected events over the past week – last weekend I went to review some dog friendly accommodation near Wadebridge, the set up of which was very strange –like walking onto the set of a sci-fi film, or a ghost town, and that feeling seeped into the whole weekend. I came home feeling very uneasy, for a variety of reasons, including Mollie nearly disappearing over the clifftops in pursuit of a rabbit. It made me realise how often life trips you up when you least expect it. Or at least, my life does.

We had some lovely walks – see picture of Treyarnon Bay above – so parts of the weekend were great, and will appear in Cornwall Today, but even transcribing the tapes, I find they have a chilly shadow over them that I need to eradicate to do the walks justice.

But onto the good bit. On Friday I received Highly Commended for the New Talent Award for my novel FOUR LEFT FEET at the Festival of Romance. Unfortunately, due to a blip, I wasn’t told I’d been shortlisted until a week before the event, or I would have gone. As a result I missed out on a reception where I would have met literary agents and other authors (stifled scream).

I only found out that I’d won Highly Commended through a message from Talli Roland on Facebook on Monday morning. I contacted the organisers, my pulse racing with excitement, and received a long and apologetic email back swiftly. But the best bit was that a literary agent was impressed by my work and wants to see more, so she gave me her email address and suggested I send my whole manuscript to her.

I did, and today received an email back from the agent, congratulating me and saying she will read the ms and get back to me as soon as possible. Fear grabs my guts. My stomach swoops and I feel sick, as if I’m in a lift descending far too quickly. My hopes and dreams, tears and hard graft over the past years, lie in 95,000 words of paper sitting on someone’s desk.

I daren’t hope too much – I know too well how incredibly difficult it is to get an agent, let alone a publisher: I’ve been disappointed so often in the past. But to have got this far is a real bonus. And as my dear friend Andrea emailed, “It goes to show that you have to keep at it. Yes, it would be simply wonderful if something did indeed come of this. Then again it might not and instead something else will pop up. Novel writing is not for the faint-hearted; takes enormous tenacity."

So do think of me. Send good vibes towards this agent, please, and hope that she falls in love with my book. Or perhaps can recommend someone else who may. Please……

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Plans and Godrevy

Thanks to everyone for their contributions to my writing dilemma. As I write, I await results of the Festival of Romance New Talent Award tomorrow – not that I think I have a hope of winning, but having got that far has made me realise I need to start sending that novel out. It must have some merit to have got this far.

I am also, in addition to trying to get more journalism work and doing my walks, going to put together proposals for both non-fiction books and see what happens. After all, if you open enough doors, something has to happen (to misquote whoever that was).

Life is, as ever, busy, with my dear friend Viv still away in London fighting family problems – she is much missed by me and Titch by Molls. My boating mate has to leave early, so our winter boating days are at a temporary halt, but leave fabulous memories. But singing continues apace, with several gigs to look forward to, and our Prussia Cove musical weekend very soon.

Yesterday we went down to Godrevy to walk along the cliffs and look at the seals (which were too far away to get pictures of) but above is a glimpse of what we saw. There's nothing like the power of the sea to put things into perspective, and an afternoon spent with dear friends is very special.
And here's another one.

And more news – my website will be live shortly. Will send you a link as soon as it does. If you’d like to exchange links, please let me know.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Head over heart?

Recently, work has been quieter which has given me a chance to think about what I want to do, or should be doing, next. In addition to regular journalism, should I pitch another walks book idea to Sigma? Should I talk to them about another idea I have for a non-fiction book?
And what about my poor novel, that I haven’t had any time to send out?

On Monday a fellow writer, Debbie White, sent me a message on facebook to say well done for being shortlisted for the Festival of Romance New Talent Award (she had also been shortlisted).

It’s been so long since I’ve had time to do anything with the novel that this was a wonderful boost and made me think that I really must start sending it out again. It also made me realise how much I miss writing – the whole craft of it. I feel adrift when I’m not writing, and I hate it. It makes me feel very vulnerable: uncertain of who I am.

So this is the dilemma: should I start pitching a non fiction book that has a much higher chance of being published, but means I don’t get to do much writing – it’s a lot of chasing around – and for not much financial return, but a bit is better than nothing. And I could do with the money. (Actually, the second idea is a very good one that involves almost no writing but could make some money.)

Or do I start sending Leo out again (code name for novel) and possibly start thinking about another novel, which will take up a huge amount of time and has much less chance of publication?

Head over heart.