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There’s a ‘virtual’ party going on this evening and I can’t be there so I’m saying hello now so I don’t miss you all. I’ve visited lots of blogs and that took quite a while. I hadn’t planned to stop and read so many of them, but sometimes you just can’t help it and whole hours go by and you look up and find you are still in your dressing gown. Or maybe that’s just me.

I wanted to make this a welcoming post but to do your visit justice I feel I must at least be dressed and have cleaned my teeth. So I’ll be back in a few minutes …

And I wonder what you would like to see here. A nice welcoming front door is always a good start:

Come in. Have a seat, I hope you’ll stay for a little while. No, please don’t look up like that. Those cobwebs are doing a good job up there but I prefer not to be reminded about them. Have a flapjack instead:

You want the recipe? Ok. They’re dead easy and I like to think they’re good for you, with all those oats.

Turn the oven on to around 160 C. My oven’s always too hot so I set mine to 150 C. Mix together in a bowl:

4 oz self raising flour
4 oz rolled oats (porridge oats)
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
chopped pistachio nuts
chopped glace cherries

Put 4oz margerine, 2 oz sugar and a large tablespoon of golden syrup in a pan. Heat gently until the sugar is melted then stir in the oat mix. Spread the mixture into a swiss roll tin and flatten with the back of a spoon or if you want cookie-type biscuits arrange spoonfuls of the mixture  in the tin. Bake for around 15 minutes, until golden.

This is a great recipe that can be used for all sorts of different flavour flapjacks. I often use chopped apricots which are just as tasty. I wish I had a photo to show you but they get eaten as soon as they’re cooked so don’t sit around long enough for me to remember to take a picture.

Having visitors to my blog feels just like having visitors to my home. I did a bit of virtual dusting. There’s a couple of stories that we thought were hilarious but you might not so I hid them. That feels exactly like when the vicar’s coming round and we shove whatever it is I shouldn’t be seen to be reading under a cushion. I’ve put fresh flowers out though – see above. I’m typing this just out of sight of the photo. I would take you for a stroll round the garden but the foxgloves which were towering to the sky are leaning across the path and there are more rose petals on the ground than on the arbour. The cut and come again lettuce which looked so lively a week ago is shorn and limp and not coming again at all. There are photos around here somewhere of the garden last June when it did look beautiful, and if you fancy some Pavlova, there’s the recipe somewhere.

You have to go? Well, thanks for coming, it was lovely of you to stop by. I’ll be popping round to yours very soon …

and if you want to follow me all the buttons are on the left. Look forward to seeing you.

Over the last few months I’ve read and enjoyed a variety of excellent books. Most, though not all, have been fiction – some paperbacks, some e-books on my Kindle. A handful were published by well known and established publishers, a few were self-published and some were published by small press ‘independent’ publishers.

All had typos. Every single book. Some were blockbusters – brilliant, headline-hitting marvels that made me laugh and cry. Some had only one or two tiny mistakes that must have slipped through the final edit, some had several typos that (in a perfect world) would have been weeded out on a final, final proofread.

Please don’t think I’m saying this because I think my own books are perfect. Far from it. I recently re-read The Ripening Time and was aghast to discover that too had its share of minor typos. I was cross, but went through it again and uploaded a revised, hopefully this time error-free manuscript.

Anyone who’s read my ‘How to publish on Kindle’ post will know the same thing happened with Daisychains of Silence, but with the kind and speedy assistance of fab editor Stef Mcdaid at Write into Print, and a painstaking final, final proofread, a fresh and fully edited file was quickly scooted off to Amazon.

I know the big publishers wouldn’t appreciate an email detailing the typos that caught my (unqualified) eye as I read and enjoyed their authors’ books. But what about self-published writers?

If it was me, I’d want to know. If any of my Facebook writer friends or Twitter pals spotted a typo in one of my books I would leap on it and shower them in effusive thanks. But I think that’s just me.

Somewhere during this writing process I’ve got the impression nobody wants some well-meaning eagle-eyed smartypants upsetting things by pointing out typos after the book’s out there in real readers’ hands. As if, what’s the point of telling them now? As if it’s too late, like shutting the door after the horse has bolted. As if they think the messenger might be slightly crowing…

But I don’t think it’s ever too late. Yes, there are probably hundreds of copies of my books with typos already out there being read, or sitting on Kindles waiting to be read. But as a self-published writer it’s easy to correct a typo (in an e-book) once we know about it. And from then on all copies sold will (fingers crossed) be perfect. And surely that’s what we all want.

So do I tell writer friends I know in this virtual world when I spot a typo in their book, or do I keep schtum and just read on and enjoy the story? I realise the glitches I’ve spotted might already have been amended but it’s also possible they might not. As I said, if it was my book, I’d like to know.

Don’t all growl at once. :/ x

I’m never, never, never on the stage … yet I’ve gone and written a book. And in doing so have been forced (forced myself really) onto a stage of sorts. Truly, the experience is as terrifying as I imagine it would be in real life if it ever were to happen. Which it won’t, not now.

I was an angel once, when I was five. That was a happy experience because we were all angels, every child in the class, and there was no stage. When I was twelve it was my turn to read a passage from the bible in assembly. The terror of that has stayed with me. The jelly legs, the quivering voice that would not find its way out of the closing throat. Never again.

Yet twice as an adult I have found myself on stage. Once I was a fairy (Fairy Liquid!) in my daughter’s playgroup pantomime. I was at the back, in the chorus of other fairies and still it was terrifying. Another time, to raise funds for the PTA I found myself involved in a musical group called The Reluctant Wilburys. The name says it all – I think it might have been my suggestion. My husband, who’s a musician and often on stage, took part and to our joint relief took over and organised us into something that turned out alright on the night. We sang together and played instruments (I might have had a tambourine) and everybody clapped. Yes, I was terrified but the feeling when it was over was amazing. It makes me think of that book (which I was probably reading at the time) … Feel the Fear and do it anyway, by Susan Jeffers. I did, and I did. But I wasn’t doing it alone, and I was at the back and had only to hum along in the chorus and tap the tambourine against my thigh, both of which I did softly so if I was out of time and out of tune it wouldn’t matter.

It was very like that with my book. The ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ bit. I plunged into a terrifying public world. I went straight to Kindle, so I’m out there, on a stage of sorts, all on my own. It’s scary!

I know as a self-published writer I should be out there trying to get some sort of high profile, or is it called a platform? Stage, platform, it’s the same, and just as scary. Which, if a publisher were ever to read this, would probably make me, as an introvert with an ‘author profile’ that seeks the shadows not the limelight, an unlikely prospect. But would I want a publisher now? Yes, probably. To have someone else promoting your work must be wonderful, and leave the writer free to write. Or perhaps not. From what I’ve read, all writers are meant to actively promote themselves and their work these days. Yet I still think the writing, the books, are products that should in an ideal (probably old-fashioned) world, speak for themselves.

There are things in my home I’ve bought that I love. I chose them without knowledge or care for their inventor. I read books in the same way. In fact, I like an author to be a bit of a mystery. Anne Tyler and Marilynne Robinson are two of my favourite writers and I know very little about them.

Today a new 5 star review was posted to Daisychains of Silence by Catherine MacLeod on Amazon and also to goodreads. It’s by Sam Kirshaw, a writer I admire immensely and the author of The Cushion Effect, a novel of searing emotional intelligence that captivated me with its tenderness and empathy.  It’s an amazing review, yet it leaves me shaking partly because I know I should tell you about it. I am reluctant. I am thrilled. I am terrified.

Sam writes, ‘The book is a triumph of literary crossover fiction inspiring both young women of today and their maturer counterparts.’ You can read the review in its entirety HERE.

I set up a new blog, but I’m meant to be writing a sequel to Daisychains of Silence, and it’s a terrible distraction, so I’ve abandoned it. Anyway, I’m too hesitant to be a natural blogger, a fact that’s taken me a while to accept. And accept that it’s OK – blogging doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and that is fine. In one of my many attempts to embrace blogging, I actually set up a blog called Braver Blogging (and I wasn’t being ironic at the time, more like optimistic). I wrote there, for a while, but kept it private. I mean, I wish I was brave enough to say to the world all the stuff I said in there, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen.

But it’s my downfall, I know that. The most entertaining/informative/stimulating blogs are written by people who are brave enough to show a bit of their real selves to the world, and we are richer for reading their truth. A few spring to mind, and I’ll try to share them here. I’m not very good at linky things (in fact WordPress has driven me nuts while I’ve been trying to change my Daisychains site away from the black & white pages I set up a couple of years ago – I wanted a lighter, brighter look and this is the result so far).

So here are just some of the real Braver Bloggers:

Exmoor Jane – you never know what’s coming next over at Jane Alexander’s lively blog, but I never miss a post because whatever it’s about I know it’s bound to be entertaining, thought provoking and always uplifting. She’s blogged about everything from Vegetarianism to Spanx tummy-tuck underwear, Astral cookies and other recipes to labyrinths and Christmas markets and even if she’s writing about the horrid black dog that seems to lurk around the corner for so many of us at this time of year, Jane still manages to put a positive slant on things. I like that. And that’s why I bought her book The Energy Secret. I thought ‘if I could have a bit of what she’s taking I’d be a happier, more productive, all-round better person.’  Turns out all you have to do is breathe.  Lucky for us we can read and breathe at the same time because she’s actually written more books than you’ll find in some people’s home – fiction and non-fiction – and a fab new guide to the best British pubs is available through her blog too. Breathe.

Jake Barton – if ever anyone should be given a column in one of the glossy sunday supplements (the glossiest, definitely), it’s the suave, opinionated, wonderfully talented bestselling writer, Mr Jake Barton. Or as he prefers to describe himself, a wastrel. Waste a few half hours over on his blog – I guarantee that once you start reading you won’t be able to stop. Then pop over to Amazon and buy his thrillers. They’re thrilling, just like him.

Dumphimlove ~ I met this lovely lady, who’s real name is Barbara Green, through Jane Alexander when she introduced us on Twitter. How did Jane know I would love Barbara Green? I have no idea, but I’ve come to realise Jane’s instincts are usually spot on. Barbara is a BACP qualified counsellor, and her website is a treasure trove of thoughtful articles, often relationship-based but not always – we might be off to Morrocco in February after reading her lively account of her holiday there. So, entertaining and fascinating, but the most surprising thing is there is even an interactive problem page where people can write to her with a specific issue that’s troubling them and she will give her professional opinion. How amazing is that? When you have to wait months and months for any sort of counselling through Relate or your GP I think it’s a wonderful idea, and I would trust Barbara to always give a thoughtful and compassionate response, whatever the problem. But Barbara’s not all sweetness and light, even though she’s caring. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and will do if she thinks it will help. And there’s book recommendations and music clips as well, so something for everyone, even if you don’t have a worry in the world.

More blogs I follow to follow (if you know what I mean), but in the meantime if anyone knows if I can do anything useful with all the white space either side of this page, please let me know.

Add to your goodreads shelf

Daisychains of Silence

On Amazon Kindle

The Ripening Time

On Amazon Kindle

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