Autumn colour can be uplifting. Good for the soul, perhaps?
Yes, we know that it’s essentially a by-product of deciduous trees closing down for winter, but it’s still beautiful, isn’t it? So I make no apology for filling this blog with gorgeous images of autumn colour. Though there are downsides to some of it (for me, at least). Read on to find out more…
Autumn Colour at Westonbirt Arboretum (one of the UPs)
Today’s blog is not only late but also shorter than usual — just apologies, a brief explanation (real life!) and a bowed head for Remembrance Day.
This picture is a photograph I took some years ago, of the West Gate to the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. This wonderful building by Sir Christopher Wren was built at the instigation of Charles II as a home for old and injured soldiers. And so it is still.
The two people in the photo are a serving policeman, and a resident Chelsea Pensioner. The latter is wearing his famous scarlet coat. When I bump into them in the local supermarket, they are generally equally smart but slightly less startling in navy blue.
I am really fond of that not very good photograph. I took it on a day in November — mist in the air, trees turning to gold before they started to lose their leaves. Very like today, indeed.
Real Life (Mine)
The reason the blog is late is that I have new member of the household.
After my dear Tom Kyd died in July I heard him about the house for weeks.
But then I began to smile more and weep less, when I thought about him. Then I started to feel I wanted to share all that love we generated between us.
It is a lovely feeling, a clean sheet with so many possibilities. New story, new characters, new settings. It’s the time I can let myself dream as I begin weaving the story.
That is the point I am at now.
I have an idea for the book and the settings will be Regency London and mainly (probably) at my hero’s country house. And it is summer.
I first began thinking about this idea in September, when my current work in progress was coming to an end. Now I wonder if I chose a summer setting because the seasons were changing? Maybe I was hoping to hang on to those hot days and balmy summer nights. But I shall be writing the story throughout the winter: bare landscapes, long nights, icy days.
It shouldn’t be a problem, I am a writer, aren’t I?
This is the time of year when school children up and down the land are required to produce an essay, project or even, God help us, art homework on the subject of What I Did On My Holiday.
They are supposed to have had some wonderful new experience to share with their grateful class mates. At least, I suppose that’s the idea.
Might be a bit of a damp squib this year, I’d say. For a lot of people, anyway. But for some of us it was always torture.
Not necessarily because you’d had a bad holiday, either. Just because of the impossibility of a) selection and b) giving enough context without boring the pants off your class mates. Ten-year-olds make a tough audience. I speak from experience. Except once.
What I Did on My Holiday at Christmas
At my primary school one year we got the assignment when we went back in January as well. (My mother blamed the teacher’s Christmas-through-New Year hangover. Though she didn’t tell me that until after my 21st birthday.)
Trying to write during lockdown has set me pondering my Scribbler’s Progress.
I have learned a lot about writing over the years. Some came from experience; also, an occasional discovery of my own. But a lot was quite simply from reading great books or discussing with and listening to other writers.
Remembering has been a pleasure – and salutary for my next project. So I thought I would share, in case some of this might help someone else.
Scribbler’s Progress Milestone 1
I wrote stories very happily as long as I could remember. It was a nasty shock, therefore, when I found myself living half way up a cliff in Country Kerry re-writing the same scene for SIX WEEKS until I ran out of time and money.
So I cobbled something together and sent the thing off to publishers. They all turned it down. I heaved a sigh of relief and haven’t looked at it again.
But the experience shook me. Maybe I wasn’t a writer after all? Until I vaguely remembered something I’d read… Continue reading →
Reality check: was it really less than 3 months ago that we were in London, elbow-bumping at the RNA Awards? And cheering for Jenni Fletcher, winner of the Betty Neels Rose Bowl and the Libertà Books Award for the Shorter Romantic Novel?
Seems more like a lifetime, doesn’t it?
However, to cheer us up, and remind us that life really does go on, even in lockdown, we welcome Jenni to our blog this weekend.
Jenni is actually another Scot (yes!) from Aberdeenshire, though she now lives in Yorkshire with her family. She has published nine historical romances with Mills & Boon, ranging from the Roman to Victorian eras, and is currently finishing her thirteenth. She says that when she’s not reading or writing, she likes baking, eating the results of baking and cycling.
Judging from that willowy figure, she must do a lot of cycling 😉
Welcome to Libertà, Jenni, and congratulations again on your win. Over to you…
Jenni Fletcher remembers and reflects
A magic night…
The RNA Awards in March seem a really long time ago now. It was a wonderful night.
I was honoured when Libertà books invited me to write a guest blog, but at the time I was feeling a little too anxious to write anything upbeat.
Obviously a lot has changed for all of us since then. We’ve all had to adapt and find a new kind of normal.
For me, trying to write alongside homeschooling has been the biggest change of all, but it’s led to some positives, too. Continue reading →
Times are difficult, scary even, for all of us — especially the older or vulnerable ones — so I thought I’d add a bit of light-hearted distraction. To wit: earwigging.
I do it. Don’t you? Doesn’t everybody? Especially authors…
An Earwigging tale
I was in a pub, on my own, having a quiet meal. There were four elderly gents — nattily dressed, clearly ex-military — sitting across the way, drinking various beverages and gossiping. They were not trying to keep their voices down, though they must have known other drinkers could hear every word.
One of them was even louder than the others, very keen to be heard. All The Time. And even when the others were trying to hold a conversation about something else.
I have just finished a book. Writing it, not reading it. It was Hard Work.
Nothing new there. No matter how sparkling the inspiration, how heady the enthusiasm to embark on this particular story, they are always a strain on the imagination, hard on the back and a slog at the keyboard. The reward is that moment of joyful relief when you’ve despatched it into the ether and it becomes your editor’s job to sort out mangled timelines, momentary slips into scatalogical dialogue and missing commas.
I have a busy writing year planned, but I seem to have spent the entire winter saying, “When I’ve finished the book…’
When I’ve finished the book I’ll get up to the V&A and take a look at the jewellery department. I’ve been there dozens of times but have somehow missed it and I’ve been inspired to visit by the documentary series Secrets of the Museum. Also on the list is the local Arts Society. I’ve been wanting to join for ages but couldn’t fit in another thing until I’d finished the book.
None of those here, when I moved into my new home last summer. The garden was just a big neglected mess.
The first job was to clear out the weeds and paint the wall. When I say “I”, I confess I called upon the lovely Robert, who got to work with a some serious tools and, once he’d cleared the bed, a paintbrush.
Here, with a little November sunshine to light it up, is the result.
All he left were a few plants hardy enough to survive the neglect. (I’m trying not to think about the huge store of weed seeds lying in wait for my hoe!)
There is a large deep pink hydrangea, a couple of buddleias to attract the butterflies and a well grown Clematis montana. It was in full bloom when I viewed the property last year and is just about to give me joy.