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Ellen’s in the kitchen buttering toast when Daisy comes down bleary-eyed at half past nine.

“You could have woken me, Mum.”

“Deirdre! How nice. Would you like some toast?”

“No thanks, I’ll just have coffee.” Daisy stuffs a filter paper into the coffee percolator, putters around with a cloth for a bit, then takes her steaming mug to the back door and leans against the peeling doorframe to survey the sad state of the garden.

The brick paths are question marks half-hidden beneath leggy branches of last year’s lavender; the clay rope-edging now organic hillocks of moss. The forsythia, untrimmed and hopeful, is about to radiate a yellow sunrise into the gloomy corner down by the shed. The area of planting nearest to the house, the herb bed, is looking sickly. She calls through the doorway to her mother,

“Hey, Mum, the forsythia’s nearly out.”

“Is it? That’s early,” Ellen says, her voice coming distantly from the kitchen.

“Not really, Mum. It’s March.”

“March? Don’t be silly…” Ellen comes to the door, hands Daisy a slice of toast. “Would you like marmalade on it?”

“Oh… you made me toast?”

“Of course. You always have toast. Do you want marmalade on it?”

“Oh, why not? Thanks.” She watches her mother’s stooped back disappear into the house, suddenly aware of a gnawing emptiness in her stomach. Maybe Mother does know best, she thinks as she stands shivering in her T-shirt, her hands clamped round the warm mug.

Last night’s downpour has freshened up the air. Daisy breathes it in. The sun’s starting to filter through diminishing thick cotton clouds, bringing a hint of gauzy warmth to the sheltered walled garden. It’s going to be a fine day.

Ellen passes Daisy her toast and they sit down together on the bench. She points to the gravel bed.

“I don’t know what’s got into my herbs there. See them? They don’t look too happy.”

“Well, they’re only just coming into growth, Mum. But it might help if you stopped peeing on them.”

“What! … I do not.”

“I saw you, Mum. I don’t think it’s good for the plants.”

“I don’t know what you think you saw. The idea!”

“If you say so,” Daisy says. She’s about to say more but swallows it down and crunches into her toast.

Ellen sniffed. “I don’t know where you get your ideas, Deirdre. Anyway, urine is meant to be good for the garden. Men pee on their compost heaps. I’ve read about it.”

“Oh, well, they’ll probably pick up now spring’s on its way.” Daisy gets up and strolls over to an evergreen shrub densely patterned with dappled green and yellow leaves; bends to lift a low branch. “There’s snowdrops under here.”

“Elaeagnus Pungens Maculata. My sunshine bush,” Ellen says, taking a sip of her coffee. “A glorious shrub.”

Extract, Daisychains of Silence, chapter five.


I read this:

And remembered this:

Sometime during the week we were away on holiday, when I wasn’t looking at the sales figures on Amazon, Daisychains of Silence exceeded 1,000 sales. It’s now near 1,500.

I have no idea whether this is a good number or not compared to what other books achieve. What I do know is I think it’s phenomenal. When I first published on Kindle just over four months ago I had a target of 200 books in the first year. That is the number of sales of a single title you need to sell in one year to be eligible to join the Society of Authors. I made that my goal.

That I exceeded it in such a short time, and spectacularly, I find astonishing.

I’ve noticed some writers are open about their sales figures and some are more circumspect. But I can’t see the point in being secretive about it. It’s not a competition. I love books, and other writers write the books I love to read, so I see us almost as a huge family, in this together. I love hearing about indie-published successes – I feel it gives hope to the rest of us in the family of writers worldwide.

The thing is, I have an income! I never expected an income. I thought there would be a few pence here and there, and although it’s not a lot, it’s turned out to be enough to change my life.

We’ve lived in the same house (and garden – that’s the important bit, really) for over 25 years. It’s an old house, and it requires ongoing and often expensive maintenance. We need a new boiler. The wooden windows need replacing. The ancient bathroom suite is green:

Some things, like the kitchen newly installed 25 years ago, would be staying even if I won the lottery (that won’t happen, I don’t do the lottery) because I love it, however old-fashioned it might be with our pine kitchen table and chairs – our first purchase on HP over thirty years ago, now dented and scratched with the memories of a lifetime’s use.

Now, covered with a flower-print cloth it gives the room a homely feel hard to achieve in today’s gleaming kitchens full of stainless steel (I always think that’s a daft name when I see the smudge marks on those appliances).

But the last few years have been hard financially, and two years running we’ve put it on the market with the intention of finding something cheaper and easier to maintain. We convinced ourselves we had to move in order to have a good quality of life, where we could have holidays and not worry about money all the time. It would be a wrench, selling the family home (and the garden, oh, how I’d miss the garden) but we felt we had no choice.

Buyers were scarce, though, and we planned to put it on the market again this March at a lower price, in the process adjusting our expectations to what our future home might be: a tiny place with a tiny back yard along a busy road somewhere we wouldn’t enjoy being. We live in an expensive area; you don’t get much house for your money round our way and my husband, who works in London, is not about to retire for a few years yet so my dream of maybe moving to Devon or Cornwall is likely to remain just that, a dream.

And what about a cat?

My Pickle only lasted nine months here in the countryside. What chance would a new cat have in a built-up area? And how would I be without the peace of my garden? We were moving with a heavy heart, through necessity, not choice. Now, though, with an income from my writing, things are looking a little different.

The money from my book is enough to make that difference. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough, we feel, to stay exactly where we are, where we love spending our time. Where our pets are buried and where roses and honeysuckle now flourish. Where our children can visit where they grew up; where a cat at least has a fighting chance of a good life; where I’m happy in my tatty clothes, looking through our rickety windows at the birds who return year after year to trees planted by us when we were young and which they now view as their home. Or digging the flowerbeds or hacking down the brambles knowing the aches and scratches of a day’s hard graft will be soothed by a long soak in our ancient cast-iron bathtub. Our home.

We’re going to firm down our roots and stay put.

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