Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Who Am I?

July 16, 2012

Who Am I?

Little Me


A couple of weeks ago I began wondering who, and what I am. A kind of mild depression I suppose.
A visitor had been looking at my framed pictures — watercolour and ink drawings mostly, with a few oils and pencil crayon — hanging on our walls. My visitors were impressed. I looked at these pictures and wondered if I would ever be able to get back into art work. More recent efforts had come to nothing. No, I could never call myself an artist.
I came to the conclusion that we go through phases during our lifetime. But somehow we can’t go back to what we were unless hit by an irresistible creative force. That is, a time when things seem to flow and come out right, as if by an unseen hand. Nonsense? Maybe, but that is the thought that came to me. Likely an excuse for inertia or lazyness, but…?
Many years ago I was a dress designer and pattern cutter. I had little training but I loved what I was doing and, yes, things seemed to come out right. Ideas flowed. Not all winners but mostly so. Patterns came out right ensuring a good fit, and exactly according to my sketch.
Circumstances changed. We had three young children and we then lived some distance from garment manufacturing. Even freelance work required travel. I saw a poster, which encouraged mothers to take up teaching. We had a training college nearby. I was taken on as a mature student. It was not easy. Some lecturers did not enjoy having mature students in their classes, especially ones with young children. (Two mature students were given the push for being absent when their kids were ill!) Three years later I qualified. So began a teaching career. I was now a teacher. Except when teaching very young children, I never ‘felt’ like a teacher. What are teachers supposed to feel like? Well, it felt good when youngsters began to read and write quite well. Well it would, wouldn’t it?
When I was fifty I took early retirement to train for the Church. That was not easy either. At that time quite a few clergy (all male of course – no other kind then except deaconesses, which I felt called to be), and some parishioners, were opposed to women being allowed to do what had, for many years, been the prerogative of ordained males. I was not ordained. Whether our new anti-women vicar had influenced the decision is neither here nor there. I was however licensed to do many things as a lay reader. The only thing I was not allowed to do, not being a deaconess, was baptise babies. (Although I do believe some lay people had done so.)
For years I no longer knew what, and who, I was. Some clergy treated me almost as ‘one of them’ — reasonable human beings with a sense of calling. I was able to have a real, alive ministry. But it would always be outside the privileged ordained membership. Others treated me as a convenience to fill in when needed, or to avoid when possible — NOT one of them and never shall be. It could be a lonely existence. Things have tended to change over the years. Women have been fully ordained for some time now. They still have some way to go to be equal with men. But Church ministry is not about equality; it is about calling. Clearly, the church gets it wrong many times. A person is deemed to be called by God. But humans decide who has a genuine call. Humans are fallible creatures.
It had been decided that I had a call, yes indeed, but not to ordained ministry. I lost contact with those in training. I was not ‘one of them.’ I felt an embarrassment. At ministerial occasions, I was an outsider looking in. A lady vicar, actually walked away when I told her I was not ordained. She thought I was clergy because of my presence there, and so she was quite embarrassed.
I did a lot of studying and training to improve my skills, especially in Counselling and Pastoral Care. I also took a Diploma Course in my spare time. Then I did an OU degree and gained an upper second. For a while I knew who I was — a student! A Student of Life. No bad thing.
When I was seventy I left Church Ministry never to return. My eyesight prevented me from driving, and there was something else for me to explore — WRITING. I have no doubt that my life’s experiences affect what I write.
I would not call myself a writer but I do a lot of writing on this computer. I have written a number of books but they are not likely to become best sellers! So what?
I approach eighty with no clear picture of what, or who I am. Yes, I am a wife, a mother, a granny. Different parts of my life, and activities I once enjoyed (or agonised over), seem remote — little, or no, part of the ‘me’ I now experience. And yet I am a sum of all these things.
Is this not so for all of us?

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Time For a Change…

July 27, 2011




How odd! I visit my site and find my header picture has disappeared. So I quickly replace it with a new one of the Lake District.
This made me think about other things more personal. Time indeed for a change. I still want to write, but what? I have started a number of new novels for I am not short of ideas, but I don’t have the will to get on with them. They take such a huge chunk out of one’s life, especially when I work at snail’s pace. Time flies and I get more tired. My eyes get sore and I need to move my joints. And yet such things did not bother me when I was deeply engrossed in my novels. Yes, it is true that I am older, but is it just age? I need an incentive to do a large work. I need an incentive to do ANY work!
I live in a beautiful area (the photos are around here), perhaps it is time to let go and just ‘be’ until motivation returns. Something will turn up and I will be rested and ready — or grown too old and can’t be bothered!

 

(Since writing this I have completed another novel. It is called The Promise and will be published later this year (2012)

Bad poetry?

August 13, 2010

Just William — his favourite spot in front of the fire.

When it comes to writing, you never know what others will choose as their favourite pieces. You could go by those who ‘know’ what is good, especially when it comes to poetry. Rhyme is out — or is it?
I wrote a little ditty in celebration of the life of a cat that I had never met. It only took a few minutes. I sent it to a friend who had just buried his beloved cat. But a copy remained in my files.
When I, along with Bob Taylor, published Northern Lights, I needed a poem to balance a section. Something simple and light-hearted. I used the cat poem and called him William.
William was a cat that had belonged to one of my sons many years ago. He was one of many, born in a barn at the local farm. I can’t say that I was pleased to have yet another pet to supervise. Of course, I was the one who had to look after him, feed him and take him to the vet when necessary. He became part of the family, but a cat that was always aloof and his own person. That is, until he became old and really poorly. I hated to see him suffer and when I took him to the vet I hoped termination would be recommended, so I could have him put to sleep without a guilty conscience, The vet said his kidneys had hardened and put him on a drip. I asked if William was suffering. She said with his health problem he would be dozy and not feel pain much. So I collected him to live on for a few more weeks.
I had to feed the cat with a syringe because his gums were rotting. The cat was not too pleased and I got the benefit of his anger. (Such scratches!) But I persevered.
For the first time in his life, when he was smelly with pus and losing teeth and hair, William wanted to come on my knee. Every time I sat down, William would jump up and sort of purr. He did not live much longer and I found him dead in his bed. My hubby buried him in the garden.
So this little ditty is really about two cats.
The funniest thing about the poem, is that it was picked out by a reader as being her most favourite piece in the whole book. It reminded her of her dead cat. The lady was incredibly thankful and full of praise.

William

William was my darling —
A friendly little cat.
Each time that I came through the door
He was waiting on the mat.
How he loved a cuddle,
Me too I must confess,
For when upset and moody
He softened my distress.
I buried him in the garden,
Just where he loved to sit
And stretch out in the sunshine,
Or take a little kip.
I’m really going to miss him,
He eased my woes and fears.
My little friend has given me
The best of his fourteen years.

Writing For joy
Gladys Hobson — Author
Diary Of A Country Lady
Magpies Nest Publishing.

Never mind the title, feel the heat!

May 28, 2010

Reviews for the three books in my Love By Design trilogy — Awakening Love, Seduction, Checkmate are hotting up. Visit Fools Paradise to see Payton L Inkletter’s last review — of my Seduction! (a previous publication was known as Seduction By Design)
You can read it here but you miss the animation — you’ll laugh your socks off!

Also posted here is a review by Andrew O’Hara (Andy is deeply involved with the Badge Of Life. Visit the BOL site, for eye opening revelations about their work.)

Go to my author site Hobsons Books for more reviews

SEDUCTION BY DESIGN

Seduced by design. Designed for seduction!

“Seduction by Design” is a triumph. Entertaining, wild, erotic (sheesh :), and full of enough twists and turns to keep the reader engrossed. A great piece of reading, written with Gladys Hobson’s very typical skill! (Longer one below)
Andy O’Hara

Seduction By Design

I was keen to sink my teeth into this novel, ‘Seduction by Design’, Gladys Hobson’s second in her ‘Designed For Love’ series, because she had me hooked with her first, ‘Desire’ (known in the UK as Awakening Love).

These are no ordinary romance novels. They are written by a mature age author, whose abundance of wisdom invests the chapters with a fragrance rare. A young person simply could not achieve this, and the gems of insight Ms Hobson scatters throughout her story delighted me.

As for the characters, my dislike of the arch bastard Robert Watson magnified in this instalment, while my love for the beautiful June Rogers nee Armstrong was tempered – Ms Hobson portrays just what a flawed woman she is despite her enormous and rare talent for couture design; and to make matters more arresting for me, I am tarred with many of the same brushstrokes as June, if I want to be honest.

Thus I was not only entertained by this engrossing tale, I was a tad convicted.

It is the early seventies, the setting having jumped a couple of decades from that of ‘Desire’, and my word how well Ms Hobson has integrated the plot from that instalment!

The thermostat regarding eroticism has been turned up a few notches in ‘Seduction…’, and that’s saying something, and yet, as with her first, there is nothing dirty or obscene in her explicit portrayals, and I tip my hat to her for this achievement: sexually charged encounters aplenty, without impurity – trashy romance writers take notice!

Something rare for me: I was actually mesmerised in places as I consumed this believable story involving an assortment of characters that would exist in any big town and city. And as in my previous review, let me reiterate that, as a writer, I continued to be informed and educated regarding effective technique to convey and captivate.

Well done Ms Hobson, and when is the final novel, ‘Checkmate’, going to be finished for me to learn what happens to these characters, who have become such a part of my imagination?
Payton L. Inkletter (writer, thinker, humorist)

SEE INKLETTER’S ANIMATED REVIEWS AT Fools Paradise!

Seduction by Design (about to be published by Turquoise Morning Press as ‘Seduction’ by G B Hobson)

Here’s a book that carries the reader right along in a smooth, continuous delight of romance, erotic adventure and well woven suspense. Author Gladys Hobson kicks right off with a bang, introducing us to the sensual June Rogers. A fashion designer by trade, June is grieving the death of her husband, Arthur, and begins to take readers on a tangled journey of love and hate with the attractive Charles and the ever despicable Robert–and is he ever!

Trite as that might sound, Hobson truly brings these three main characters (and a surrounding cast of delightful cast members) to vivid life in her “Seduction by Design.” This book keeps the reader on one’s toes as misfortunes lead to twisted plots and motives, and then to one misunderstanding after another that almost lead to tragedy and final heartbreak and yet, in the end — well, the writer sums it up best as, “Deja vu,” which you will have to find out by reading this delightful piece of work!

Gladys Hobson is a well practiced writer, spinning a tale smoothly and naturally. She is economical and yet she is capable of painting entire scenes and montages with dialogue, a quick glance, the sparkle of an eye or the dart of a smile so quickly that a reader doesn’t even know it’s happening. This is a rare talent and a delight.

“Seduction by Design” is good reading. It’s flat-out entertaining, suspenseful, erotic, fun, and heartwarming!

Andrew O’Hara (editor of The Jimston Journal, author of prize-winning The Swan, Tales of the Sacramento Valley) lives in the USA and now runs the Badge Of Life.

Please note: My trilogy and Smouldering Embers will now be published by Turquoise Morning Press and my The Dark Mirror (previously published as When Angels Lie) is being published by Storm Moon Press

The Man Who Told Lies

March 12, 2010

The Man Who Told Lies
By Gladys Hobson

‘Back from holiday? You won’t have heard then. That tramp who lived over there (he pointed to the cottages across the road) is dead. It was in the local paper — front page!’
Puzzled, I followed his gaze. ‘Tramp?’
‘You know, that old guy. Didn’t look after himself — drunkard. Wore shabby clothes, looked rough, needed a shave. Took his little dog for walks.’
The little dog — cute rat on long legs with a whippet tail — immediately identified the dead man. Tears rose in my eyes. ‘You mean Mark? Mark Ashley?’
‘That’s the guy. Told proper porkies. Police have been knocking on doors trying to find out if he had any relatives.’
‘He has a son — he’s a surgeon — and a grandson. They live in New York.’
‘Really? Nobody’s mentioned that. Better tell the police then. They’ve been asking all over the area. Someone said he has a cousin.’
‘He does. I think he lives nearby.’
With difficulty, I tried to hide the deep grief tugging at my heart. ‘What happened to Mark?’
‘Walked out to get his usual supper and fell down the cellar steps of one of those houses in Soutergate. Half drunk probably. A woman from the house rang for an ambulance. They took him to Furness General. He was sent on to Preston. He was in a coma for days, then he died.’
I was too upset to take in what else my neighbour said. Thankfully, he had to get to town and we parted company. No longer enjoying the beauty of trees and flowers that lined my path, or the warmth of midsummer sun, I walked the short distance to my home dazed and shivering. Mark dead? No more would I greet him and listen to his outrageous lies. No more would I see that silly grin and hear him chuckle at his own deceits. No more would I fuss that silly dog which had stolen his heart. Mark was dead. My friend Mark was dead and gone forever.
In my kitchen I made myself a pot of tea. I took a cup from the cupboard and put in a spoonful of coffee granules. I picked up the teapot and began to pour. What the hell was I doing? I hadn’t put in the milk. Wait a minute; there was coffee in the cup! I pulled myself together and decided on tea.
I drifted to the living room with its big picture windows giving views over fields and gardens. All so beautiful, life was going on as before, and yet…
Enjoying the familiar comfort of my reclining chair, I drank my tea and questioned why I felt so bereft. After all, Mark was not a relative nor had he been a close friend. True he was once a colleague sharing in the challenges imposed by the Ministry of Education when the local schools were reorganised into unwilling comprehensives, but he was a man very much on the periphery of my life.
Mark dead. I sighed deeply at the image in my mind of when I last saw him: uncombed hair topped with black woolly hat, grim face in need of a shave, head down, collar of black coat up, his limping frame bearing him up the road with his only true friend in tow — Peter the silent dog.
‘Hi, Mark,’ I said, as he was hurrying past.
He stopped, both he and Peter looking up. ‘Hello, Gladys, I didn’t see you.’
I patted the dog and it gave a nervous quiver.
‘What sort of breed is it?’
Mark proceeded to give me details of the dog’s unusual breed and pedigree, its very high cost and its naughty habits. I looked at the miserable dog, trembling at Mark’s ankles. Could that pathetic creature really take food from his plate, hide socks behind chairs, open his mail?
Mark’s face — pale skin, high cheek bones, square jaw, thin lips, fine nose slightly crooked, blue eyes under pale brows overhung with wispy greying hair — took on an aggrieved air. ‘That woman at the end of the terrace has accused me of letting Peter shit on her lawn. Huh, I told her, I take my dog out for a walk every day. It’s her own dog doing it, not mine.’
His countenance took on a conspiratorial look. ‘You know that ice-cream van that comes down the road?’
Who indeed could not recognise its monotonous chimes?
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I’m surprised they get much custom. Most folk keep ice-cream in the freezer.’
‘They sell drugs to kids.’
He was watching for my reaction. Well, I could see the possibilities. ‘Really?’
‘Oh, yes. The police know about it. There’s a copper lives opposite me. He’s keeping an eye on it. That’s not all’ He nodded across the road. ‘That house that was for sale. Criminals have moved in. Police know. They’re doing surveillance.’
I nodded; after all I was aware of dealers pushing drugs in the town. I had recently been involved in a drop-in centre for the town’s youth. One evening, a police officer called in at the centre to warn us of the drug problem, and what to look out for. From then on, my nose was on the alert for wacky baccy. But criminals living in our close-knit area?
Whenever and wherever I met Mark he had a tale to tell me. I guess, spending many hours alone in his cottage with only his little dog and a bottle for company, he was short of intelligent conversation to brighten his day. He loved to be outrageous and so it was really quite difficult to sort truth from lies.
I knew he was a keen horseman and for years had entered races with his big white horse and, at one time, was keen on trotting with a small horse and light trap. That he fractured a leg several times and had received poor settings was obvious by his limp. Maybe part of his reason for drinking was to dull the pain he constantly suffered. Several tales came from his horsy connections.
‘You know Joan Smith, the geography teacher?’
‘Not personally, but I used to see her in the staff room.’ I could have added that I heard her too: she had a loud voice and a raucous laugh. ‘Jolly lady, sat with her smoking colleagues.’
He nodded with an urgency to get on with his tale. ‘She asked me to arrange the transfer of her daughter’s new horse. I turned up at the address given and was told the girl was not there.’ He gave a sort of whinny. ‘She said she had gone to paradise. So I said, “Oh, I am sorry. I’ll call another day”.‘
‘Really, that must have been rather embarrassing for you,’ but I was wondering if he was having me on.
‘Well, Joan was in the staff room the following day, so I asked her what she wanted doing with the horse. She told me her daughter wanted it taking to the field as instructed.’ He snorted with laughter. ‘Paradise is a place just up the road from where they live!’
I guess that tale could be genuine, or did he dream it up? At least he made me smile and perhaps that was all he wanted. Another tale he told me concerned a member of the royal family and a horse-and-trap race across Morecambe Bay. Evidently he accidentally messed up the start of the race, which earned him an unmentionable comment from the royal personage taking part. Mark looked deeply aggrieved.
‘I don’t care who he is, I told him even my father never spoke to me like that. And I wasn’t going to take it from him either.’
‘Good for you, Mark.’ Knowing that his temper had once led him to punching the parent of a boy he once taught, I found it easy to believe what he was telling me, but was I gullible old fool? I have heard of the Duke of Edinburgh driving a coach and horses across the sands but I have not found any evidence of horse and trap races, never mind His Royal Highness taking part.
Relaxing in my chair my mind took me back to the year, 1979. Three schools — girls’ grammar, boys’ grammar and a down-at-heel secondary — had come together to form a comprehensive establishment of fifteen hundred souls. Few people seemed happy about it. A few teachers gained but most lost out; the youngsters from the secondary school were convinced the ‘posh lot’ hated them; and the grammar kids were not keen to mix with that ‘lot from down the road’. Only the boys gained some satisfaction — girls galore! The parents of the grammar pupils had been promised separate streaming for their children where their education would continue until leaving at sixteen. Although the form classes were mixed, the pupils kept to their own social groups and then went off to be taught as before. Unfortunately, some teachers considered those from the secondary school as being unworthy of their time. Mark was not one of them.
His aloofness stood him out from the rest of the staff. He had little to say at meetings. Mark had made it clear to me that, although he was on a scale two, he had no intention of doing more than a scale one because he had not been given a position of responsibility. Evidently the extra scale applied to when he served in a different department — teaching biology. But since he had a degree from a top College of Art and had designed furniture on a commercial basis, I was surprised he was not a departmental head within the Comprehensive system. That is, until I got to know him better.
Whatever skills Mark had, and they were many, he was a very poor communicator where adults were concerned. It was some years later that I discovered his adeptness at telling lies. Even then I tended to take him at his face value.
Of course, he often annoyed me when, on taking an art class after him, I found the room untidy, the sink full of filthy brushes, no stock in the cupboard and, quite often, no drawing paper because he has used it all for his pupils to make sketch pads in bookbinding lessons. Not only that, but he copied some of my carefully thought up ideas for art classes. Even so, for whatever reason, I liked the man. Maybe it was because, when he did speak, he was not afraid to say what he thought. He was stubborn and could be incredibly witty: his guffaw creasing his face into a quirky smile. Also, the fact that he did find my ideas good enough to use with his own pupils boosted my ego; after all, I did not have his training or qualifications.
The day I retired from teaching, I was formally handed cards, flowers and a gift from the staff, but the thing I treasured more than anything was the simple present left on my desk. A single white rose stuck on a homemade card — a flying dove cut out of white cartridge paper — with Mark’s name and best wishes inside. I was deeply touched.
It was some years before I saw Mark again. I was surprised to see him on several occasions shopping in Ulverston. I recognised his lumbering gait before I saw his rugged unshaven face. But on each occasion, he was across the road and walking too quickly for me to catch him up. A few weeks later, I actually met him face to face. He told me that his mother had died and that he was moving out of Barrow to live in Ulverston, but he did not have time to go into details. So when I saw him enter a house just around the corner from us, I was pleasantly surprised. He saw me and invited me into his cottage to show me the improvements taking place. I invited him to my home for a chat when he had a free evening.
It wasn’t long before he was ringing our doorbell. I was pleased to see him.
‘Come in, Mark. We’ll go in the small sitting room; it’s quiet in there. Do you want a coffee?’ He declined: he’d only come for a brief chat.
So he sat on one of our vintage armchairs and made himself comfy. He had a way of wriggling into a chair as though shaping it to fit his body. Having settled into the seat, he sat back, shuffled his shoulders, crossed his legs and placed both hands on the top knee. He looked around the room, twitching his loose foot and occasionally jerking a shoulder. I could imagine him thinking, ‘Nothing Andy Warhol in here.’ He made no comment on my pleasant collection of Heaton Cooper prints — not his style.
I sat close by with my armchair at an angle — distant enough to be non-threatening but easy enough to converse eye to eye should he wish to do so. I gave him a few moments to take in the relaxing decor of the room: neutral pastel colours of walls, carpet and curtains with little splashes of colour introduced in cushions and pictures.
‘So, what made you move to Ulverston?’
He began by telling me about the trouble he’d had with his neighbours. ‘I like a garden that grows naturally — wild like.’ I nodded in acceptance, but thinking I was glad he wasn’t living next to us. ‘They complained about the tree growing in my garden. None of their business. I wasn’t getting it pruned back, it would have ruined it.’
And so he continued chatting, telling me about his search for a house and the need to have somewhere for his horse. The tiny cottage he had just acquired had cost him £19,000 and he was busy with alterations to give a more spacious feel to the place. He now had a gas fire set in the wall above floor level. ‘I’m giving it a black surround to match the furniture. Call in and see what you think.’
After a while he started shuffling in his chair and fidgeting with his hands. He looked at me and opened his mouth to say something then changed his mind. ‘I was going to tell you about…but no, better not…’ He shuffled some more. ‘Yes, I will tell you. I can trust you not to tell anyone else.’
Then began an extraordinary tale about receiving a letter from a woman he had known in his student days, who, at the time of writing, was dying of cancer. According to Mark, she wanted him to know that he had a son, and that he was also a grandfather. He then told me about the money his mother had taken from him every month, and of his wondering what she had done with it all, especially since she had died almost penniless. ‘Unknown to me,’ he said, ‘I had been keeping my son at Winchester. He’s a consultant surgeon now.’
He told me how his parents had decided he was too young to marry his student girlfriend and so kept their knowledge about the baby to themselves. Evidently the girl’s parents had been in touch with them and it had been a joint decision: presumably the girl had acquiesced to her parents taking over the baby’s welfare. Well, knowing things were different years ago, it was not difficult to believe the story, especially as Mark was going to show me a photograph of his grandson when I called at his house.
The photograph was of a handsome young boy, dressed in a riding outfit and astride a fine-looking horse. The fact that it was a black and white photograph was explained as having been snapped for a newspaper, his son being the winner of a prize. That was the first of many tales about his family. I saw no other photos but I refused to be suspicious.
Mark’s son had moved to New York but came over occasionally as he was following up a few of his important cases. I was told about a boy’s big toe being amputated to form a missing thumb and the complications resulting from the procedure, and of other tricky operations that his son specialised in. Do consultants really travel across oceans to follow up their cases?
Evidently the family visited him occasionally but did not stay long. They wanted him to go and live with them in New York. Mark said that he had visited the place and was not sure that he would be happy there. He told me quite a few stories of a private nature, but the one that sticks out in my mind because I can see it starkly in black and white, concerns the parentage of father, son and grandson. The three males were taking a walk together; each was dressed in black coat and black woolly hat. Mark said he had to laugh. ‘Look at us,’ I told them, ‘three bastards all dressed alike!’
Mark giggled at the telling of the tale. ‘All of us were born out of wedlock. Not many people know that.’
I felt honoured that he should confide in me. From that time on he often came up with a story about his surgeon son, of which he was very proud, and his grandson that took after his granddad for horsemanship.
Mark was still active: judging at horse trials and still riding. He also had a part-time job lecturing at Lancaster University. He told me that he only had three or four students to tutor: the young men were below standard and needed personal tuition. Mark said he had received a letter from one of the youth’s parents, thanking him for the help her son was receiving. Later he said he had a few hours a week at Edinburgh University. Those were the only times I saw him going out dressed up, walking into to town with brief case and umbrella to catch his train. Most of the time, when he was going down Soutergate to do his bit of shopping, he was unshaven and scruffy-looking. He was just the same when he was walking his nervous little dog.
One Sunday, I met him on my way to church. He stopped for a chat and, much to my surprise, came with me. Then some time later, when I was working in a church some distance away, he came to hear me take Evening Prayer and preach. It so happened that he knew the organist who was studying for a doctorate with the Open University. It was after that event that Mark told me he’d studied to become a doctor, but could not stand the sight of blood and so had to drop out. But he had done well at his London art college, so I decided he was a man of high IQ and many talents. I was not completely aware then of his wonderful talent for lying!
His son’s wife came into the stories occasionally, the two seemed to get on well together, certainly enough for him to be invited to live with them in New York. He told me he was going to stay there for three months to see if he liked it enough to move. He would not give up his home because he would use it for holidays. That seemed a very sensible thing to do, even though he had no idea then that the value of his little cottage would have increased almost fivefold twelve years later.
Other people came into his tales. He told me that a friend of his son was staying at his house while doing work at Glaxo. But I never saw anyone going in, or coming out of Mark’s house — including his family. No cars parked outside either, but maybe his visitors used the train. In fact, there could be an explanation for any oddity in Mark’s stories. Even so, when I asked him when he was going for that three months trip to New York he looked puzzled and needed reminding of what he’d told me. Also, why didn’t his close neighbours know anything about his family? And, why did they all think of him as a teller of porkies? As to Mark’s drinking and tramp-like appearance, had the man been a spinner of yarns to hide a sad and lonely existence? Well, the funeral would surely come up with answers about his family — or lack of it.
Life went on in the town without Mark but I sometimes saw a figure and thought, ‘Oh, there’s Mark,’ until realising I was mistaken — a common happening with people who have made a deep impression before their death.
We were away when the funeral had finally taken place. I did not make enquiries as to who was present: I decided to leave my memories of Mark intact. Mark is dead, but for me he will live on as the warm colourful character I knew him to be.
Or would I rather not know that I am a gullible fool?
Years later, and I still miss him. I ‘see’ him down the road and walking the footpath. He was part of my landscape and I guess he always will be.

Gill Banks

The stream at Gill Banks where Mark walked.

The Man Who Told Lies is published in Northern Lights, an anthology published by Magpies Nest Publishing — visit the publishing site for more extracts from the book

Gill path seat

Is Mark still here?

More Dress Designs From the 1950’s

January 15, 2010




Have been in the attic again and brought out a pile of drawings I did when I was freelance designing in the 1950’s (these are late 1950’s).

These pictures are not brilliant. The drawings were in pencil and I could hardly see the lines. So I photocopied them – the darkest I could use. Then I photographed and adjusted them to get reasonable pictures. It is quite obvious, so no one can say they are copies of other people’s designs. I have lots more – underwear, housecoats, nightwear, dresses, housecoats, separates.

I really enjoyed being a designer. I found it quite thrilling to have thousands of garments made from a single design. And to see them in shop windows and, occasionally, people wearing them. Now I have written about a dress designer of that period — her designing, her loves and hopes. See  Magpies Nest Publishing Books can be ordered directly from there by PayPal — post free in the UK. Or can be ordered through any good bookseller. Dress design can be done in minutes when inspired and the pattern in about an hour. I did not find it hard to sell them either. Writing novels takes many months but getting them published is a story in itself!

These are drawings I did when I had just turned sixteen in the late 1940’s. I found them in an old folder up in the attic. The pictures are elsewhere on this web site but not put together to form a video. Nice to have music background too.

Why write?

Sometimes writing pulls like a magnet. When I first started writing, I would be up at three in the morning, tapping at the keys. My design career inspired me and I was driven by the characters being formed in my imagination.

UPDATE SEPT. 2012: For those who are interested in dress design, especially post war Britain up to the eighties, my trilogy Awakening Love, Seduction, Checkmate, following the career, life and loves of a dress designer — June Armstrong (Rogers in both sequels) is to be shortly available in the USA through the publisher, Turquoise Morning Press. In the first book, she is just a young naive girl determined to make it to the top of her chosen career. The setting is genuine and closely resembles the factory where I worked, including the manner of designing, cutting and manufacture.
These sketches were done in the 1950’s — the era for Awakening Love. (UPDATE: The video was made when Dare Empire published the books. Turquoise Morning Press has now acquired the printing rights.)

KILROY. Part Two — Embers Start Blazing

March 18, 2009

Kilroy advises: “Cool the sex”

As I said in the previous KILROY article, my book Blazing Embers was initially inspired by a Kilroy programme where the older generation discussed their sexual problems with a most sympathetic Robert Kilroy-Silk.

I received further inspiration from a book I found for sale on the shelves of a Country Bookstore in Derbyshire. Here I was to learn about sex, good sex, and superior sex. It seemed to me that most people would benefit from following the simple techniques recommended in this instruction manual, to say nothing of exploring the whole variety of positions — maybe some of the latter not recommended for the less agile. Sudden attacks of cramp are likely to cause yells loud enough to alert neighbours into thinking someone is having a heart attack. Either that, or experiencing orgasmic pleasure to be envied. But once on the trail to better sex, such small setbacks are nothing to worry about and mature couples may well regard them with hilarity. After all, superior sex is looming on the horizon and no pain no gain! Oh yes, this was all good stuff for my book. Or so I thought.

Research for the book also explored various sex aids. I could hardly write about something I had never seen. This was another revelation for an oldie like me. Sending for them was a bit embarrassing but not as much as asking for an erotic magazine off the top shelf of a local newspaper agent. I told the man I wanted to give my hubby a surprise for his birthday! Late night television was a bit of an eye opener too but not enough to keep me awake for long. After all, there is educational sex on many programmes after nine o’clock and sometimes you don’t have to wait that long. Today’s youngsters must be the most sexually educated — mainly by example — in the history of the western world. We oldies are only just catching up.

Having done my research, writing my novel was all consuming. I must admit, fun too. I tried a few agents and publishers with my manuscript and, surprisingly, I did get a few comments, other than the standard variety, from the editors or readers. One said she had enjoyed reading the sample and found it highly amusing, but not the sort of thing they dealt with. A few other agents wrote in a similar vein. It was after setting up Magpies Nest Publishing, so as to publish When Phones Were Immobile And Lived In red Boxes, a book written to raise money for a charity, that we decided to publish my novels too.

Hoping to get some sort of endorsement for my book that I could put on the back cover, I got in touch with Robert Kilroy-Silk. I explained what had inspired me to write this novel and asked if he, or his PA, would read it and give an opinion — also asking for his permission to use his name in my book. I did not really expect a reply, unless a polite way of saying ‘get lost’ but I was wrong. The message duly arrived telling me to send Kilroy the manuscript.

In due course, I received Kilroy’s comments. He said he was flattered at my description of him as the mature woman’s ideal man (or some such) and he also wished me well with the book. His one bit of advice, if indeed it was his advice and not that of his PA, “Cool the sex,” I have to admit, the first drafts of the book did have rather hot sex scenes, so I accepted the suggestion and revised some of the passages, or cut them out altogether. However, there was nothing from Kilroy that could possibly have gone on the back cover. On reflection, perhaps I was wrong about that. Such a statement might well sell books especially if I printed an unexpurgated limited first edition! Alternately, maybe just mentioning the fact that sex scenes had been cooled as per Robert-Kilroy Silk’s advice might draw interest. Right or wrong, I set about making changes.

It was not long after the return of the manuscript that I received a phone call from someone on the Kilroy programme’s team. Whoever had read the manuscript had suggested I should be invited to take part in the show that week. Could I make it to London the following day? For my book’s sake I was most willing. Ah, but they wanted my husband too. Okay so he would accompany me to London, but go on the show? Never! They still wanted me there and said they would look up the train times and that tickets would be waiting for both of us at the booking office.

Part Three —‘My embarrassing ordeal’  — to follow!

Read a couple of chapters at http://www.magpiesnestpublishing.co.uk

 

Writers, Publishers and DIY Publishing

August 11, 2008

It is a well known fact that there are far more writers — good, bad and indifferent — than traditional publishers can even contemplate selecting from by glancing at their submissions. So most publishers work through agents and rely on them to produce the writers suitable for their particular list of titles. So agents filter through the thousands of submissions they get inundated with, that is IF they are accepting submissions from unknown authors. If they are, then it is likely only one or two new writers will be taken on in a year. Thousands of manuscripts but which one or two will be chosen? It stands to reason that many excellent authors are turned down year on year. A few writers make it through the self-publishing route. It takes money, hard work, dedication, good promotional and marketing skills and maybe friends in the right places to get anywhere. If books are sold in the right numbers a known publisher may well take over the title. It seems to me that the chances of ‘making it’ are getting more and more remote.
Frankly, most bookshops don’t ‘want to know.’ If the book has a lot of appeal and is already being ‘asked for’ then the book might do well, at least locally. (As did my ‘When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes’ — out of a 750 run, 600 were sold locally.) But national booksellers go through the national office. Our local W.H.Smith’s manager was interested in stocking two of my books but the head office did not even reply to the letter I was asked to send in!
Okay, our book will appear on Amazon and a dozen other bookstores may also advertise it on their website — yes, along with thousands of others! They don’t have to stock or buy the book to advertise it.
I know of authors who travel all over the country trying to flog books one way or another, some with a modicum of success. Is it worth it? Well, you have to believe in your book, and yourself, to pay in time and money for what is involved. With cheap books for sale everywhere, it is hard to compete. How many unknown author books do YOU buy, and how much would YOU pay for them?
When we take the self-publishing route it is as well to have all this in mind. If services are being paid for, you may not get a penny back and that could run into thousands. If you are doing your own publishing (complete with ISBN and bar code) you can get books printed in smallish numbers and, if your book does not sell, all you will end up with is a box of books to give to friends or offer to libraries. At least your ‘baby’ has been born and smiling for all to see!
If I recall correctly, Michael Allen of Grumpy Old Bookman fame, once wrote that the average sales for a self published POD book were 80 copies. He also has a great deal of advice to give about the whole subject and of DIY publishing through LULU in particular.
Before starting on your publishing project it might help if you first visited:
http://grumpyoldbookman.blogspot.com/2007/01/lucius-and-lulu-part-2.html