Wednesday, 26 May 2010

I'm Writing with "Relish"

Since Novel 2 is almost ready for proof reading, I thought I'd introduce you to my lovely leading lady.
This is Evie.
Well, Evelyn actually, but she becomes known as "Evie".  Evie, with her handmade corsage hair grip and love for customising clothes. Evie, the artist with a passion for creating culinary delights.
Now, unlike 'A Love That Makes Life Drunk', that's written in the first person - the cheeky and charming Jefferson Howie, 'Hope & Jump' is written in the third person - Evie Willoughby.
Evie was a creation of a week's holiday in St Ives, Cornwall almost 3 years ago.  It was late September and we stayed in this beautiful cottage on my favourite street - The Digey.



I was reading this,

my favourite book, and confirmation I should set the novel in Cornwall.
The decision to base the story in St Ives was effortless as I am a shameless, self confessed 'St Ivesophile'. It also seemed natural to make her an artist, and since I was also reading this,

it only seemed right to give Evie another trait; amateur cook. I can't share too much or else I'm getting into spoiler territory, but it will make sense, honest.

I love this book by Joanna Weinberg. It may not be glossy like Sophie Dahl, or uber cool like Jamie O, but there's a little of the 1970's about it, and a dash of Bohemia dropped in for good measure, and it's this 'dash of bohemia' that inspired me to use it as a blueprint for Evie's culinary imagination,

along with her ability to lay a table (this is actually our Christmas dinner table from last year).

Evie also likes this,

and rides one of these,


and becomes very interested in this,

Her new tenant Ellery Faye.
But more on him another time.

Well, I hope enjoyed a peek in 'Hope & Jump's Evelyn Willoughby, who I think has to be one of my favourite characters; someone who will remain close to me for a long time.
Thanks for reading,
have a great day,
Karen
X

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Awards Time yee-ha!

I've received this cute Blogger Award from the lovely Mrs P over at Notes From Summer Wood and I'm rather pleased with it.
So, now I have to write 10 things about myself, followed by 5 things I don't like, and then list 10 of my current favourite blogs - which I've actually found very difficult as I follow and love so many.

OK, 10 probably very boring things about me:
1. I wear flip flops all the time; even in winter
2. I named my first boy after a coat - "Parka" (actually, what the coat "stands" for, Mods, Oasis, Indie etc)
3. I named my second boy after Jackson Pollock and the US musician Beck.
4. I am addicted to green olives
5. I have 3 cats - Millie, Atticus and Macbeth
6. I married C after knowing him just 9 months in Gretna Green
7. I am a Qualified Social Worker; 10 years standing (not bad hey?)
8. I hate flying and always avoid C's suggestion of going overseas on holiday
9. I am ridiculously houseproud
10. I have a secret crush on Gene Hunt (Ashes to Ashes)

Phew, that over, 5 things I don't like:
1. Flying (as above)
2. Being poorly
3. Cold tea
4. People who talk to me like poo
5. A ringing telephone

OK, well, now to the difficult bit - 10 favourite blogs of the moment (because they change all the time!):
1.Music. Fashion. Clutter
2. Ivy Black Chat
3. Button Patch
4. The Coffee Lady
5. EvieGeorge%
6. Allotment2Kitchen
7. Kids & Capers
8. Our New Life in the Country
9. Pretty In Pink
10. Maisey's Attic

Well done all, you're fab!
Have a great day,
Karen
X

Monday, 24 May 2010

Hey! It's BBQ season!

This is me (on the right).
The angst teenager just about the make a huge decision that continues to shape my life.

How ironic that we're in the midst of BBQ season and today it's the beginning of Vegetarian Week 2010.
Now, anyone who really knows me, knows I don't usually do this, go on about being Veggie and my reasons for it, but since I'm celebrating 22 years this year of not eating meat, fish or animal by-products, I wanted to give National Vegetarian Week 2010 a huge nod.

OK, I've heard all the jokes; all the reasons why it's bad for you, and even worse for your kids, and I'm not writing this to preach, because I never have, I simply want to raise awareness to something so wonderful.

See, my boys are veggie too. They've never tasted meat or fish. Health Visitors have frowned at me for this, and some nurseries have almost got it wrong (no, Vegetarians do not eat fish fingers!). When P was born, I wasn't working and so I baked everything from scratch to ensure he had everything he needed. When J came along I was working, and so things got a little more difficult, but with the introduction of some amazing Veggie products and the fantastic education from the Vegetarian Society's Young Veggie, we're doing alright thanks - so much so, Health Profs. have told me and C our boys are going to push 6ft (yikes!)

As P gets older I am having to answer alot of questions- and giving an honest and unprejudiced reply is difficult, but I have always been clear that I will bring my children up without meat and fish until they are old enough to decide. I want them to stay Veggie; but I will not force it.
Haribo jellies are my only headache at the moment! (but they've just bought out gelatine free ones and they're divine!)

I'm sure if my mum's reading this she'll be shaking her head with a sigh as she remembers many Sunday lunches of me playing with my food until THE day I finally said,
"I don't want to eat this anymore."
And do you know, never once did she question it, never once did she say "it's a phase", and never once did she discourage me. Her frustration was more about what to give a young teenager to eat in the late 1980's!
We got by.

Today, being a Veggie is easy.  Supermarkets, cafes, tea shops, and restaurants in the UK are pretty damned great when it comes to catering for us Veggie folk - and there's a fair few of us you know - about 5 million just in the UK.

And just incase you have considered it, but didn't know enough, the Veg Society have produced a brilliant fact sheet about all the myths about giving up meat right here - it's worth a glance.

Oh, and here's my fav cafe to hang out and enjoy damned good food my way, 

Divine.
Thanks for Reading (and humouring!),
enjoy the sun
Karen
X

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A Right Mish Mash of a Day

It's been a right mish mash of a day so far (this picture isn't me, but it's certainly how I feel).
I'd set today aside to finish the Press Release and the final corrections for Draft 5 of book 2 with the aim of getting them off for proofreading, instead, I've been scrambling through piles and piles of last year's bills as apparently our previous landlady is having problems with E.ON. and the new tenants.
On top of that I'm also trying to sort out moving dates etc for when we move to our next house (yes, 3 moves in 12 months - not recommened with 2 small children, 3 cats, and a husband whose mobile is permenantly stuck to his ear).
To top it off, the agency I work for have informed me I will be having a telephone interview today for a job that possibility starts next week. What I don't know is what time ,as the agency are waiting on a return e-mail (don't ask, long story), so everytime the phone risks I race to it with my professional head on to find out it's someone asking for money.
So, I'm having a fair few of these,

when all I really want is a few of these,
Hum, yes, this one actually is me.

On a positive note, I've been having discussions about the book sleeve for book 2, and after a few more minor checks, I think Draft 5 is ready to go. Fab stuff.
I'll keep you posted.

I also want to say a HUGE thank you for all the brilliant comments you left on the last post. It's so lovely to know you care and support.
Have a great day,
Karen
X

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Cheerleader

I apologise now for this shameful post of self promotion, I know we all feel uncomfortable doing it, but I read something last night that got me thinking,

'I think there is a real tendency to think, "once I'm published, I've done it", and then you watch your book go nowhere.  You can't just be a writer - you've got to be your own cheerleader.'
-Jodi Picoult

How true, and I think this goes for any venture we take on ourselves.
So, today I know I will spend my morning writing a Press Release for the new book, and this afternoon I will be polishing the new book.
But I cannot forget I have a first book.
I'm writing this post for the reason Jodi Picoult highlights, but also as I've received e-mails and Facebook messages from people who are confused as to where they can actually buy 'A Love That Makes Life Drunk', so, for this purpose, I will be blunt and cringe when I say you can buy it from the following:

1. Direct from me - via PayPal. Simply e-mail pinkcupcakes@live.co.uk and I'll send you out a gift wrapped edition within 24 hours.

2. YPD-books - a friendly and professional online book store who I work closely with.

3.PriceMinister - an efficent online book shop

4.Amazon UK - who you all know well
            
These are like the 'Folksy' and 'Etsy' of the writing world (!), but ordering directly from  me, is currently the cheaper option as there is no 'middle' person.
Phew, well thank you so much for not switching off in disgust, I really do appreciate the support, and the lovely comments you leave; and I also want to add, that whenever I browse through your fantastic crafty/art/book blogs (daily!), it's because of the images you upload, and your shop references, that I have so far bought so many lovely goodies - so please carry on.
Right, coffee machine on, have a great day,
Karen
          X         

Monday, 17 May 2010

Happy Days


I'm really rather excited about the two parcels I received over the weekend.
These brilliant decorative sticky tapes are from Dots and Spots, who I actually discovered while Blog exploring. After a quick browse in their shop, I found just what I wanted - tape to brighten up the recycled brown paper I wrap copies of my book to send out in the post.

These parcels are ready to go and dressed with Green Country Garden, the other in Red Spotty,

And my second parcel was from the divine Charlotte Macey, who also blogs at Stitchtales,

wine glass, pink cupcakes, and mussels tea towels, and...

a tea cosy, which C is very happy about as it's re-kindled my love for our teapot and now he doesn't have to endure my 'dunk a tea bag' cuppas anymore!
Ah, happy days,
thanks for dropping by,
Karen
X

Friday, 14 May 2010

Hallelujah!

After almost 4 weeks without touching the manuscript for 'Hope & Jump' (novel 2), I decided on Tuesday to re-visit it.
I have lived, eaten and breathed this book for 2 years. How can you not get fed up with something that you've worked with so intensely, and for so long, and still do it justice?
Exactly my thought.
So, after careful deliberation, (and an element of bravery on my part), I put it to one side with the hope of returning to it with fresh eyes.
Thankfully it's worked, and I'm cooking on gas again.
Phew.
Have a good day
Karen
X

ps. Thank you so much to those following me on Twitter, although I don't have alot of time to give to it, I am kind of getting the hang of it! 

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Tweet Generation

I've just joined Twitter.
I know I'm a bit late in doing so, and I don't mind telling you I've avoided it until now because I have no idea what to do or what it's for.
A lovely friend recommended 'Twitter for Dummies', and I am so going to take her advice.
Might see you there.
Happy Tweeting
Karen
X

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

A Secret Garden

In my early 20's I took a trip to Dungeness in Kent to see a cottage with a garden very close to the nuclear power station.
The cottage and the garden belonged to the late director, artist and writer Derek Jarman - but I discovered it wasn't 'just' a garden,
it was a garden built with passion by Jarman himself from the "flints, shells and driftwood from Dungeness", it featured stone sculptures, old tools, and other random objects he found, as well as plants and flowers native to the often bleak and desolate landscape of the power station.
Not exactly a vision of beauty I admit, but it's creation is loaded with passion.

I bought this book after my visit to 'Prospect Cottage' way back, but lost it during my many moves around the UK. Last week during a trip to Fowey, I noticed the lady who served me in a crafty garden shop reading it and immediately I was transported to the shingle of Dungeness, perplexed as to how anyone could create such a beautiful garden with a power station as it's backdrop.

        
What I love most about this book are the photographs (by Howard Sooley), and the easy way Jarman is captured pottering around his garden "walking, weeding, watering, or just
enjoying life", and also the inspiration at discovering that written on the side of the cottage is the first stanza, and the last five lines of the last stanza 'The Sun Rising' by John Donne.

 
I have been scoffed at in the past for describing things/people as "genuis", but I think I'm safe in saying Derek Jarman was, and the record of the later years of his life in Dungeness in this book are evidence of it.
'Derek Jarman's Garden' was the last book he wrote; he moved to 'Prospect Cottage' in the late 80's prompted by his illness and still managed to produce an enlightening record of the garden's formation in the mid 1980's to his death in 1994.

His cottage and garden continue to be attended, and remain a tribute to a man who had been a passionate gardener from boyhood.
Not everyone's cup of tea, but worth a browse just for the photographs.
Thanks for reading
Karen
X

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Cutie Parcels & Packages

My new postcards arrived today and I'm really rather pleased with them.
And they've come just in time for my next batch of parcels.
This one is on it's way to the very lovely Jasmine (Mrs P) over at Notes From Summer Wood...
Happy Reading Mrs P!

But I haven't just been sending packages out, I've been receiving them too,
This gorgeous handmade green swag bag was made by Elissa at Not Just Handbags, and kindly slipped into my Folksy purchase was a selection of goodies including a sweet flower brooch, and a bookmark featuring instructions of how to take care of my bag. 

I am one very pleased customer.
Thank you Elissa!
Pop over and take a peek here.

This is what I mean by meeting so many inspiring people through blogging.
Brilliant.
Karen
X

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Honoured!

I am dedicating this post to the lovely ladies who consider me worthy enough to sent me over an award.
The first one is from one of my first fab followers, Penny at The Hen House, who so kindly reads my drivel and still manages to leave a polite comment (!), thank you Penny, I really appreciate it and always look forward to your posts.
The second is from the lovely Catherine at Kids and Capers, who kindly thought I was worthy of a sunshine award, which I was really happy about. Thank you Catherine, it put a smile on my face!
and this gorgeous one from the uber cool 'Music. Fashion.Clutter' - she does the things I wish I still could; instead I live out my dancing days through her - check out her style too - fantastic stuff! Thank you kindly and for introducing me to new bands.

I do feel honoured I've received these awards becasue I still consider myself fairly new to Blogger. I've been blogging for a few years now over at Pink Cupcakes, but decided to re-launch over here at 'The English Writer' (this name actually comes from a story I wrote a couple of years back!) to focus more on writing and books, and boy, am I glad I did, because I've 'met' so many amazing and talented people who allow me a peek into their fascinating worlds - all of which inspires me.
So thank you. Very much.
Karen
X

Monday, 3 May 2010

A Geek in Writer's Town

I've always considered my favourite writer to be Anais Nin, but during a day trip to Fowey, in Cornwall this weekend, I believe it's actually Daphne du Maurier.
I love Anais Nin for her courage and determination; but adore du Maurier for her ease with words, her creation of strong heroines, and her ability to capture the vision of Cornwall that continues to inspire me.
When we arrived home I checked my bookshelves for confirmation; my du Maurier collection is quite impressive, and until then I hadn't realised how much of her work I owned. I guess I kept buying, reading and after finishing, quietly sliding them into place on my shelf with great satisfaction.
Anyway, I can't believe this was my first visit to Fowey. It does for writer's what St Ives does for artists, and I gulped at it.
I visited here,
and here,
and would have had a drink in here, had the kids been better behaved,
I imagined writing here,
and that this was the view from my house,
and then I came home with these (a Daphne du Maurier mug!)
I have to say I didn't know where to go first, or what to buy first. There were an array of brilliant second hand and new bookshops, and for the homelovers among us, there were a selection of amazing Independent interior and craft shops. There were some fantastic cafe's and bakeries, and equally quaint teashops, and on the journey home I wistfully watched the view disappear from the passenger mirror before dipping into my Tote and pulling out my writing notebook - more ammunition = less space in my brain.
I cannot wait to return and explore some more.

And talking of brilliant independent shops, I found this in my local bookshop today,
...think it sums everything up.
Thanks for reading, hope you had a great Bank Holiday weekend,
Karen
X

ps. I was reading 'Frenchman's Creek' whilst writing Novel 2 - 'Hope & Jump', and to date it remains my favourite du Maurier book - a brilliant read.

Fizz Time

It's been a slightly testing evening, so now the kids are calming down (and me!) I think I'll settle down to a little glass of fi...