2014 was a special year for me. I had started my social history blog and I was a busy volunteer setting up an exhibition in our local Workhouse on its time as a World War One Hospital. We had bought a holiday home in Portugal and travelled to and fro, several times during the year. I was also an avid reader and liked to follow authors and book bloggers on Twitter for new books to read. And that was how I found Rosie Amber.
When she challenged some of her followers to review one of the books submitted to her, I couldn’t resist. I believe the book I chose was The Red Canvas Chair, an intriguing American crime thriller by N A Granger. When Rosie then invited some of us to join her team and review many other books of our choice from novels submitted to her…
I wonder, do you have a brother or sister, a niece or nephew, or even a son or a daughter, who you love dearly, but they also frustrate you? They’re mischievous and naughty, but endearing too. They’ve found your buttons and know how to press them.
That’s how my relationship with my father-in-law was. He was like a naughty child right into his nineties. I loved him dearly and have a lot of warm, happy memories of him but, there’s no getting away from it, he was a frustrating old rascal sometimes.
Like the time he fixed our roof.
It was forty years ago and he was in his sixties, too old to be climbing onto the roof, too young to resist it.
The house we lived in at that time had been extended by a previous owner, making a large kitchen and eating area. The extension boasted a flat roof.
Where rain is not a stranger.
A flat roof with poor drainage.
(The correct way to deal with this information is to sigh and shake your head, or even to tut! and question the previous owner’s sanity.)
Above the eating area of this large kitchen, there was a pitched glass roof, surrounded by a moat. I call it a moat with good reason. It was often filled with water and, from time to time, it leaked. It leaked onto the table below and the diners around it.
So, forty years ago, when we were moving house and had insufficient funds to repair the roof, we decided – honesty being the best policy – we would tell any prospective buyers about the problem and leave it to them to decide if they had the funds to fix it.
Enter my dear father-in-law.
He was a very gregarious man and I’m certain he knew everybody in our village – and their business – despite the fact that he lived at some distance and visited infrequently.
Dissatisfied with how we intended to handle the matter of the roof, that dear, kind, lovely man decided to take matters into his own hands.
We were unaware of the road works going on in our village, but Papa, as the children called my dear father-in-law, was not only aware of such, but already on excellent terms with the workmen.
He returned from the ‘stroll’ he informed us he was taking, carrying a bucket. Before we even knew where he’d procured it and what it contained, he’d carried it through the house and climbed out of our sons’ bedroom window onto the flat roof, where he proceeded to pour the bucket’s contents all around the moat.
“Whatcha doin’, Papa?” my eldest son asked as he watched the black, treacly stuff being dispensed.
“What are you doing, Dad?” I asked, seeing the steam and hearing the fizz as the hot, gluey liquid hit the cold, wet surface of the moat.
“Neil! You have no business up there whatever you’re doing,” said his wife, my mother-in-law.
Someone, possibly me, possibly my husband, took a photograph to record what we could hardly believe with our eyes.
“What I’m doing,” Papa said. “Is fixing the roof.”
I think he hoped for thanks.
Just as he traipsed back through the house with his messy bucket, the rain started hammering on the glass roof, and there was a knock on the front door.
A couple of prospective buyers come to view the house.
When we reached the threshold of the kitchen and I was telling these viewers to mind the step down, and they were ooh-ing and aah-ing at how lovely and big and bright the kitchen was, I did wonder what the plopping noise might be.
Plop! Plop! Pl-l-l-op! A slow glutinous plopping sound.
The sound of hot, runny, black-as-black, icky-sticky tar.
You know the stuff. They use it in road-mending.
Tar, which far from ‘fixing’ the leaky roof, was itself leaking through the roof, raining down on the idyllic scene of our children abandoning their snacks on the table and making a run for safety.
The prospective buyers also made a run for it, straight out the front door, followed very closely by Papa’s car disappearing down the driveway from the back door.
He did toot his goodbye as he passed the kitchen window, and indicated he’d left us to return the disgustingly sticky bucket.
There are over 150 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and I wanted to keep it to key pieces of information such as buying links, recent review, website and covers. However, I know that readers also like to know more about the background of authors.
In this series during June and July I will share the bios of all the authors in the cafe in a random selection. I hope that this will introduce you to the authors in more depth and encourage you to check out their books and follow them on their blog and Twitter.
Meet C.S. Boyack
I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other…
Happy New Year Readers! And welcome to my newest Blog Magazine Column at the Smorgasbord. This year I’m going to be writing here about relationships – The Realms of Relationships. When Sally suggested I might like to write on this topic I was elated as all my books are about things I experienced in life, and I’m delighted to share my insights here with you all. Now don’t worry, you won’t be finding any psycho-babble here, just plain English from a lifetime of experience.
I’ve been a storyteller since I was a young child – never a fibber – not that kind of storytelling. Whenever I’d heard or ‘overheard’ something when I was young, knowing I wasn’t supposed to be privy to, of course I had to tell someone what I’d heard. I hadn’t yet learned that by not telling all, it was easier to earn trust. By the time…
We all learn the A-B-C of reading and writing at an early age. And what joy it can bring. Once we have learned to read, we can be transported to far-away lands, meet giants and goblins, princes and kings — all through the written word. We can learn about orthinology, quantum physics, gardening, trams or trains — whatever interests us, we can find out more about it because we have learned how to decipher the A-B-C of the written word.
For many, the joy of reading leads us to want to be the ones who write the stories others may want to read. And, again, whatever it is we are passionate about or wish to communicate, we can convey through the A-B-C of the written word.
So what about the A-G-E of reading and writing?
Well, let me just say, I am delighted to be included in the BFOR BLOG BLITZ though my offering for today is more about writing BFOR than reading them. And if this is your introduction to BFOR, I’ll tell you what it stands for:
BFOR is the acronym for Books for Older Readers and Books for Older Readers is a website and a Facebook group established in October 2017 by author Claire Baldry to promote books with older protagonists or themes such as ‘second chances’, which can particularly appeal to readers in mid-life or beyond. If you haven’t yet discovered the website or the Facebook group, I’d really urge you to take a look.
I’d particularly like to write about Books for Older Readers – Written by Older Writers.
We all know authors come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and genders, as do their readers. An older writer will not only read or write about older people.
But is there any advantage in writing the A-G-E of your generation? Does it add authenticity to the writer’s ‘voice’ to write about a generation they have experienced?
Do older writers have an advantage over their younger colleagues when writing about older protagonists?
Younger authors must write from observation. Older authors, from experience.
An older writer has experiencing each stage of human life, from being a child, a teenager, a young adult, possibly a spouse and a parent, all the way to the later years of life, when the goalposts have been shifted so many times they are almost out of sight.
As an older writer myself – I think being 72 qualifies me to call myself ‘older’ – I have lived through all those stages, and have found, not only new goalposts, but a whole new pitch.
The journey from child to adult
planning a future, setting goals
empty nest syndrome
loss of loved ones
the vicissitudes of ageing
The things I have not experienced myself – like divorce, continuing singleness, and childlessness – I have experienced second hand while supporting friends and family who are/have lived them.
And this is where I get to my main point:
That is a lot of life experience to draw on when writing a novel.
It involves a lot of worry, a lot of pain, a lot of joy – a lot of life!
Surely the older writer must benefit from that when writing about older protagonists?
I can’t speak for other writers, but I know I go through every emotion with my characters. When they laugh, I laugh, when they cry, I cry, in the hopes my readers identify with the characters and the situations. I still feel passion, and I certainly feel pain in my daily life.
So, what do you think – is that an advantage when writing books that might particularly appeal to older readers?
I hope so because I’m about to publish yet another book with older protagonists, some of whom get their second chances.
She traced the names, carved in the bark of their special tree fifty years ago, with her fingertips.
Peter loves Sarah forever.
But they had taken different paths. She to a wonderful husband and children, and now as a widow and grandmother. She often wondered what had happened to him, and if he had been happy. On a whim, she had returned to the wood to see the bluebells, that like their romance flowered so briefly. Beneath the carving were numbers. Intrigued she took out her mobile and dialled.
What fun! I’d forgotten I’d written this wee poem five years ago, until Sally Cronin dug it out of my archives. I’ve never considered myself a poet, but I do love a wee ditty.
Thanks, Sally, for giving this one another airing.
Author Christine Campbellhas given me permission to browse her extensive archives dating back to March 2013. This week I am sharing a poem and an image that hopefully those of us enjoying wet and stormy weather can look forward to. And also a reminder to smile at the next person that you pass by….
Summer Sunshine by Christine Campbell
Peace and laughter
Is all I’m after.
If you see me
Stop and wonder
Don’t pass by
Face like thunder.
To hold you up
Is not my plot
Stop and look
At what I’ve got.
For the past couple of years, I have had an online, weekly Get it Done, session with Lynne Durham, an excellent coach. Often, I would use the session to get done the things I had been procrastinating about, even things I thoroughly enjoy doing. I had no idea why I kept putting these things off, though I suspect part of it was that I get rather engrossed in my Work In Progress and default to that when I have computer time.
What I needed was someone to help me be motivated to Get it Done, to Get Them All Done, those things on my to do list that seldom rose to the top of it. Lynne was that person.
Not only did Lynne help me find my motivation, she also helped me find the causes of my procrastination. Some of them were practical – things I didn’t know how to do, things I needed to find out. Some of them were emotional blocks. When dealing with the practical, she often shared her screen while showing me how to do something, or she guided me through the process of finding out how to do it. It was when dealing with the emotional blocks that Lynne really came into her own. She just seemed to know the right questions to ask to guide me through the discovery and healing process, and helped me see I CAN DO THIS. I even created a file under that name, containing all the methods and steps to do these daunting things I used to put off doing.
So why have I chosen to tell you this today?
Well, I no longer have those sessions because they have helped me understand myself, my goals, and what I need to do to achieve them. They have helped me become self-motivated.
So, if you are struggling to Get Things Done, if you don’t understand why you procrastinate so much, what holds you back, or what your goals are, why not find a coach, online or off, that is right for you.
Lynne was just right for me, and I can recommend her highly.
It’s such an honour to be one of the bloggers featured on Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord site. Double exposure too because my post is also featured here in the weekly roundup.
Thank you, Sally for including me in your rummage through the archives.
Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.
A quiet week on the home front, with a couple of days of sunshine and more today, so I will be out in the garden for much of the day…not so much making hay as getting rid of the rust in my joints! David has been working to level off the back garden which was left as a weedy slope, and once the workmen have completed the pathway and resurfaced the back patio, we shall have a lovely spot to eat out which gets the sun in the summer until 10.00pm. Also another step to getting the house ready to go on the market next spring.
I have also managed to find dry enough days to finish by pot plants. We then had three days of torrential rain and I am afraid some of…