Port Eliot Festival and Poetry

I’ve wanted to write a page on Poetry, but you know it has a funny effect on people. I suppose it is from forced poetry at school or something, but to me poetry has a life of its own. I know it has pursued me from about the age of nine when I realised that you could not only learn poems but you could also write stuff that had rhythm and rhyme. I blame my mother… though that should be praise, she could, and would, recite ‘The Lady of Shallot’, or great swathes of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ off by heart. I learnt large sections of these two and Cargoes and my long time favourite GK Chesterton’s Rolling English Road.

Poetry has got me a free weekend ticket to the Port Eliot festival these last 3 years.. that’s amazing enough. What is even better this is because we perform at this festival and people who are not related to us, nor are our friends, come and listen! How magic is that!

This year we took as our theme Elephants, from the crest of the Lords of St Germans (who own the Port Eliot estate) and Castles.

We perform in the Round room, an acoustic gem where if you stand under the central chandelier there is no need of amplification, and which is painted all round by the late Robert Lenkiewicz in a weird and wonderful montage.

Genres – if life isn’t pigeon-holed why are novels?

Genres are the bane of my writing life. One of the things you are supposed to be able to tell the agent or publisher that you are sending out your synopsis, 3 chapters and covering letter to is what genre you book fits into.

I always have difficulty with this. Is it a romance novel because two (or more) people happen to fall in love in the book? But if they also happen to be involved in a crime incident that runs throughout the book and one of them is in the police… then what – is it now a Crime novel? Can it be both – a Romantic Crime novel (that sounds weird)

Sometimes novels come as they are, mixed up just like life. Even for Amazon you have to choose 2 genres maximum to put your ebook in.

Sarah Harrison, an author I much enjoy, told me that when she wrote a book after her debut and sequel, The Flowers of the Field and A Flower That’s Free, and it fell into a different genre her publisher wanted her to publish under a pseudonym, because ‘the reader will be confused’. Sarah stuck to her guns, I can’t recall if she threatened to change publisher (her first two books had been international best sellers) or whether she actually did change publishers but she continues to produce delightful and entertaining books of all sorts of genre under her own name – I suspect that she is ‘muse led’

When I put my books out for beta reading I must ask my readers what genre they would put each book into – if really pushed to choose one, or two. I might then get a consensus I can work with.

My Nephew’s Wedding Cake

I have spent most of this week cake decorating. I have barely done any of my work on slate, none on writing and very little around the house and garden. This, as you may have guessed, is a special cake. This is my nephew’s wedding cake. Three tier, top and bottom in rich fruit, very rich fruit, and the centre one of chocolate sponge.

Wedding Cake

There were over 90 fondant roses on this cake, all made over a number of evenings. I created the tool to imprint the Celtic love-knot round the sides and repousséd out of thin aluminium sheet (empty beer cans) the tools to imprint rose and rose-leaf patterns for the top and edge of the cake. Just covering the cakes and arranging the roses took over eight hours – nevermind the making of the cakes and the roses.

 

If you ever need a superb and very versatile recipe for a very rich moist fruit cake then here is one we have used for over 40years – it will fit any size or shape of tin – but only comes in imperial measurements!

THE ADAPTABLE CAKE RECIPE

**measure how many pints of water your cake tin holds(to about 1/2 inch from top)

        Then follow this recipe PER PINT !

  • 5 oz currants
  • 2 oz sultanas
  • 2 oz raisins
  • 1 ½ oz glace cherries
  • 1 oz mixed peel (or if you don’t like this add same chopped ‘dried’  ready to eat apricots)
  • 3 ½ oz plain flour
  • ¼ teaspoon mixed spice
  • 3 oz butter (or marg)
  • 3 oz soft dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ eggs
  • wine – any – to soak the fruit ( acouple of glasses willl be enough for a medium sized cake)
  1.  Wash the dried fruit in HOT water to remove the oil. Drain very well, place in large bowl and slosh over the wine (couple of glasses will usually do the lot) and leave to stand, stir occasionally, leave overnight. The fruit will absorb most of the wine
  2. Double line the tin with two layers of greaseproof paper.
  3. Beat together the butter and sugar, add beaten eggs, sieved flour, mixed spice and beat well
  4. Chop cherries and toss in some of the flour (with mixed peel – if using)
  5. Drain soaked fruit (if required) then stir in All fruit, mixing well
  6. Spoon into lined tin, spread to make sides slightly higher than centre.
  7. Bake at 150 C  or Fan oven 140 c

For 3 – 3 ½ hours until a skewer comes out without uncooked cake mix on.

12 inch square = 8 ½  pints approx   *
10 ½  inch square = 7 pints   *
7 inch square = 3 pints   *

***Check with your own tins – take the measurement to about ½ inch down from the top of the tin – not right to the top.

Proof reader, book covers and ultimate control

Okay, the decision has been made. I need to get someone else to proof read these and have found someone with the training who’s willing to do a deal with me, for a cut of each ebook sold, she’ll proof read for me now. Wow, that’s a commitment. I still have to work through and put in all the corrections, and that will take time, but I am hoping for a first book up by the end of September on my own website annmade.co.uk under Books. I guess that makes me a publisher as well, my publishing house :- annmade books. My logo, of 3 golden hedgehogs, would adorn the cover of any print book and as I have to design covers for the ebooks I suppose they will incorporated on that. That’s another whole new ball-game – cover design.

When you get into writing you hear all sorts of stories that you may not have paid any attention to before. I once heard a talk by a top Mills and Boon author.  At that time I had never read a Mills and Boon of any description, but don’t knock it as an author, this lady travelled all over the world on expenses, with husband included as he was her secretary and general factotum, doing her research and later her promotions as her books sold world wide, plus her writing had bought them a beautiful small estate in Cornwall. So, I thought, perhaps I could turn my hand to these shorter novels to a formula. Mills and Boon kindly give you their, quite strict, outlines of the types of book that they want for each of their particular division of print. I took a number of different types of Mills and Boon out of the library and read. It was, as is always suggested, formulaic, and a bit far fetched for my liking. I can’t say I really enjoyed them, they just weren’t my type of book (from a reader’s point of view) However, I thought I’d give it a go and with a sort of outline in my head I started in the ‘mills and boon vein’. I had to give up though, I just couldn’t control my muse enough to their patterns, or make my heroines air-headed enough / deluded enough / beautiful enough  for the style or my Heroes manly, domineering but sensitive, handsome enough.. it was all a bit too unreal. Dear reader, I gave up on my rags to riches Mills and Boon route. If I had been a different type of writer I might have been able to do it, but I would put myself under the ‘muse led’ group of writers and, frustrating though it can be, I am happiest there.

Oh! Quiet lost the thread there!! – Cover design. Sarah Steel (or was it Wood) told us that she had no control over her covers. That Mills and Boon had total control, to the effect that one of her books showed the handsome hero wearing tweeds, when anyone who read the book would soon discover that he’d never been seen wearing such attire, and as with that publishing house so it is with many others. The bigger stars may get a veto, but rarely can they stipulate what they want to see on the cover – that is deemed a separate art altogether .. and now I have to delve into that side of publishing as well….great ! I love learning things and this will be a learning curve!!

publish on Amazon .. even without an ISBN!

Oh! My! I have just found out that it is possible to publish straight to kindle through Amazon, with a 30% / 70% deal and without even having an ISBN number – that is amazing and great. Why? because ISBN numbers are generally quite expensive if you are buying only a few… (they get much cheaper per number once you are buying a thousand plus) and each different version requires a different ISBN number!  Amazon give your e-publication with them an Amazon number instead. So – new plan – after I publish on ANNMADE BOOKS in Mobi (for kindle) in EPUB, (for Nook and Sony Ereaders), and pdf (for anyone else) I can then also publish on Amazon for kindle!

I have to say, I am really excited about this idea.

Where I’ll publish my ebooks

I have to get someone else to do my proof reading, even if I still have the task of doing all the corrections, so that when the books do go online there won’t be so many gaffs on the page.

I’m lucky in that I can put my books on my own website, annmade.co.uk, which usually sells my popular range of slate ware. This business is in its fourth year and has been steadily growing. The books will go under a new tab, annmade books – I think it sounds like a publishing house already!!

proof reading your own wrok … work :)

You can’t proof read your own work. I had thought that if I left a piece of work long enough I would be able to see the mistakes. After all, as I used to be a teacher it is second nature to me to spot the mistakes. I see them all the time in newspapers and books that I read. But no, I tried, but found that I was soon reading what I had intended to be there rather than what was actually there.

Note to myself… don’t be so critical… it’s hard to spot mistakes.

 

Fox amongst the chickens!

I hate foxes! Until you see the decapitated bodies of your own hens strewn around the farmyard in the middle of the afternoon you could be forgiven for thinking them attractive creatures, but their wanton killing is not on, nor is coming in the afternoon, it’s not playing the game. If we’d left them out late, after dark, it would have been our fault, but the middle of the afternoon is not on!

I have seen the future…..

I have seen the future – and the future is Kindle.

M.  bought a Kindle and it was a revelation! Now I am sure you have all seen an advert for one if you haven’t yet got yours or been shown someone else’s. I was blown away with it, and I speak as a lover of books, real paper books, an avid reader who likes to be able to look up things in depth, take a book with me in the bath, on the beach, even on exercise bikes and cross trainers (when I did that sort of thing – but that’s another story)

I have enthused so much that at least one friend went home and ordered one straight away. I raved about the easy to read page, the lack of eye strain without the back lit screen, easy to enlarge the print too, turn it to landscape if you like, check-up on the meaning of any word in the text by just hovering the cursor over it and getting a real Oxford English dictionary definition, complete with etymology! (you see I really am a word freak!)

What blew me away was the fact that I could now see a way to publish my own books – straight to ebooks.

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