New experiences? … all grist to the mill

You may have heard (even literally if you live in Cornwall) that during the past week I had an interview with BBC Radio Cornwall about my new novel ‘The Angel Bug’!
I was offered a telephone interview as Radio Cornwall is situated in Truro which, for those of you out of county, is in the West of Cornwall, whereas I live so far to the East in Cornwall that another couple of miles due East and I’d be over the river Tamar and into Devon!

Well, it would mean a long trip there and back (never mind the cost of the fuel!) and all for a ten minute interview – but 1,  As a writer you garner experiences where you can, gather your feelings and impressions, make notes, take photos, and pack them away for a day when one of your characters walks into just such a situation, and 2, I felt I’d work a better interview face to face – rather than on the end of a telephone – and as it was my first I did want to mess it up. So I went to the studios instead.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100
BBC Radio Cornwall Studios
VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100
The Truro river, looking away from the city, beside Phoenix Wharf

BBC Radio Cornwall’s studio is situated at Phoenix Wharf, on the river at the edge of the city centre – a lovely setting as you can see.

I was early … I am nearly always early … can’t bear being late! And I was nervous – I have to admit this. I can stand up and talk to a class – I can address meetings as president of the WI or as Secretary of this group or that… but to be ME as myself – Author – no other ‘hat’ to hide beneath – this makes me nervous – definitely out of my comfort zone! Add in that this was a live broadcast and, obviously, I wanted it to go well .. and well.. you may understand how I was feeling.

I had ‘packed’ for the session, a bottle of water (filled with water from our spring at home) mints, tissues, glasses, some notes, a camera, lip-balm…so my small handbag was bulging with ‘bits’ when I arrived at the studios.

I waited, chatting with the receptionist, and then the presenter popped out to say hello; Tiffany Truscott, looking younger and prettier than her official photo shows her, was warm and welcoming and that made me feel a little better!

I was soon called through to the ante-room to the studio and after a short time was taken through into the Studio.

Having been sat down by a mike, I settled my glasses and notes down where they would not rustle (not that I had time to refer to them in the end anyway).  Tiffany then asked me a few questions – to warm up – as it were, making me feel a little more relaxed. Now whether this was also being monitored for sound levels or what I have no idea, but it seems likely.

The record  she was playing finished and she introduced me and ‘The Angel Bug’ to the whole of Cornwall…. well – I’m not going to write it all here.. Just click start > and listen TO THE 10 mins YOUTUBE AUDIO CLIP BELOW !! IF YOU ARE READING THIS ON THE EMAIL CLICK ON THE MAIN BLOG TITLE ABOVE AND IT WILL TAKE YOU TO THE BLOG WHERE THE CLIP CAN BE HEARD!! (the youtube links do not go through the email version)

There will always be things I would have liked to have said, that I didn’t, or names and words I should have memorised, that eluded me at the time – but in the end I felt it went well, that it was good, and I can tell why Tiffany is so good at her job – she made the interview process feel so natural – like a conversation (albeit with time pressures).

Have you done anything recently that has taken you out of your comfort zone?

Did you feel drained or energised by the experience?

What did you think of the interview? Do share – you know I love to hear from you!

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Cover Reveal, Blurb and last chance ….

Well, here we are …………….

The cover can now be revealed …………… roll on the drums …………..

BUT FIRST … The BLURB!

The Angel Bug (blurb)

‘These memoirs may be the only evidence left of what really happened, where it came from and how it spread.’ 

When Gabbi Johnston, a quiet, fifty-something botanist at Eden, was shown the unusual red leaves on the Moringa tree, she had no idea what was wrong. What she did know was that the legendary Dr Luke Adamson was arriving soon – and that he would insist on investigating it.

This is the unassuming start to a maelstrom of discovery and change – with Gabbi swept up in it. What starts out as an accident turns into something illicit, clandestine and unethical – but is it, as Adamson claims, really all for the best?

*

‘The Angel Bug’, Ann Foweraker’s fourth novel, is set at the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK. This is a contemporary novel combining science fact and fiction, told by the people at the heart of the discovery.

*

more drums …………………..

TA-DA!!!

Angel Bug Cover Ultimate

And DON’T MISS your LAST CHANCE to grab one of my previous novels .. sorry you still have to enter the competitionbut now EVERYONE WHO ENTERS WILL WIN!!! click here!

SO… What do you think of the final cover choice?

Does the Blurb make you want to find out more?

Are you enjoying the excerpts?

Do share ( even if it’s a no – I’d like to know why) … You know I love to hear from you!

 

NOW… the penultimate excerpt from THE ANGEL BUG – released 1st July on AnnMadeBooks

(from Ch 2 Luke – Oct 18th – 19th)  Dr Luke Adamson has woken after a bad night’s sleep following the lecture he gave at Cambridge University ……………….

My departure from the hall had meant fewer book sales than were usual, according to Kayleigh, so it had hit my Rainforest Foundation, and for that I was annoyed with just about everybody who’d had anything to do with the set-up for the lecture. I was lying there blaming them all for how it went wrong, and that included the pretty airhead, Kayleigh, lying beside me.

I slid from bed finding the floor cool beneath my feet, and padded through to the bathroom. On my way back I grabbed a towel and wrapped it round my waist.  A quick glance told me that Kayleigh was still asleep as I turned to stand at the un-curtained window, drinking in the ancient city as it came sleepily awake in a misty morning. After a few moments my perceptions shifted, the window replaced by a movie screen as memories came flooding through.  God! They had been electrifying times. I felt my blood stir as I thought of those years.

I saw my first immature awareness of the place, soon subsumed into an overpowering urge to beat it and everyone else at their own game. This place was supposed to be the best in the world; then I would be the best in it, no matter how I achieved it. I felt a smile touch my lips as I thought of the non-academic goals I’d set myself. Every one of them achieved, well very nearly, even if I’d had an advantage over the competition in both looks and provenance.

Rowing had been a first love from my early days on the New Hampshire lakes and later at Johns Hopkins, but at Cambridge the competitive edge took me over. There weren’t many other scientists on the crews and I worked really hard to dispel the ‘weak scientist’ prejudice that some of the crew members had. It meant being harder and meaner than they were. Harder meant I’d trained twice as much, meaner meant that at the crucial team-choosing time I’d zeroed in on a guy who’d been hassling me from day one. If he wasn’t calling me a ‘Yank’ then it was the science thing or because my hair was long and blond. So when he’d called out ‘Hey Blondie, did you forget your handbag?’ I’d walked over, punched him out and then turned away. He’d come up fighting mad and launched himself at my back, whereupon I’d grabbed his arm and folded forward tipping him over my back to land flat on the floor at my feet, only I didn’t let go of the arm, feeling something give as his body cracked down. Others had caught up with us by then; I shook my hand free of his and stepped back. He clambered up but the rest of the team held him back, and plenty said he’d asked for it.  The fractured wrist put him out of the running, and me firmly into a place on the winning team for that most prestigious of races – the Oxford and Cambridge boat race.

I had worked all hours on the first piece of ‘competitive’ work and still found time to sweet-talk and bed the girlfriend of my main rival. That was the way I found out about the progress he was making, and how I came to the conclusion I’d have to upset the other guy’s experiments somehow, as they were proving too successful. In the end it was nothing to get into the other lab at the end of the day and turn off a switch. It could have been anybody that turned off the wrong switch, easily done, and weeks of preparation and incubation were wrecked in a single night of cold. It was all I needed to get the edge to complete and write up my work successfully by the deadline, whereas my competitor struggled to get to the end of his experiments. I took the girlfriend too, for a time, not for long, just about the length of time it took her to find out about the others.

For intelligent women they weren’t that good at working out my game, and boy were they intelligent! Just chatting to them was an intellectual sparring match in itself, and remembering that sent a shiver through me. That Kayleigh had to go, a PA from the publishing house, supposedly organising my tour, she was attractive in just the way I liked, and fell readily into bed, but talking to her was like conversing with a TV guide. If it wasn’t on the TV, then she didn’t know anything about it. She seemed to live in a reality show and knew all about the goings on in the soaps almost before they did, but intellectual conversation, even about books or publishing, seemed completely beyond her.

‘Hey!’ I shouted close to her ear. ‘Are you going to get that useless head of yours off the pillow or what?’

‘What?’

‘Yeah, right, listen up, I’m not intending to hang around here to be quizzed. I want transport out booked, pronto, I’m out of here by ten at the latest.’

‘Oh right,’ she glanced at her watch. ‘I’ll just grab a shower.’

‘No! I want that transport arranged first – then you can do what you like because I’m going to do this last tour date on my own.’

‘But Luke,’ she started her voice almost a whine. ‘I’m coming too, aren’t I?’

‘Don’t you ever listen? No, I’m going alone. You were great. I was glad to know you, but this is it, goodbye. Got it?’

Kayleigh pulled the sheet up over her breasts, her eyes wide, shaking her head slightly. ‘Just like that? You cold bastard, just like that?’

I shrugged and started to pick out clothes to dress in, then realised she hadn’t moved. ‘Phone! Now!’  Kayleigh jumped and, still clutching the sheet to herself, wriggled across the bed to the phone.

‘Okay, Luke  – er Dr Adamson? I’ve booked you a taxi, but where will you want to go, like, your flight to Newquay isn’t until tomorrow, and you were supposed to be a guest of the University until then.’

‘Screw that, can’t you get me down there today?’

‘Well, I don’t know – I’ll see, it might not be easy, being a small airport, and I don’t know how many flights there …’

I cut in ‘Find out then! And if it’s an okay then get the hotel booking moved up a day too.’

‘Sure, fine, right away.’

I was pacing the room, wondering if even going to this last venue was worth it and why on earth had I allowed myself to get worked up over nothing. It was this place. I’d had come out top in everything; academic, sport and personal ambitions were all met, yet I’d never felt accepted, and I realised that still bugged me.

………………..

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Darn it!

HaHa! No, I’ve not reverted to darning socks this week, I’ve been far too busy with my Americanisms.

My new novel, The Angel Bug, is told by two people in the first person. One of these is a quiet, fifty-something widowed botanist working at the Eden Project in Cornwall, the other is her contemporary. However, that is where the comparison ends. HE is a famous ethnobotanist. He has a block-buster movie to his name. And he is an American.

two flags by Wordshore
Photo courtesy CC WordShore

It is that last bit that has caused me linguistic problems!  As George Bernard Shaw said: “England and America are two countries separated by a common language”

So it is my good fortune and with grateful thanks that I found a Beta-reader in the USA. This kind and diligent lady has read through and sorted out my American’s language.

I thought I’d avoided the obvious – careful not to have him talk of trousers, pavements, underground (for the tube) bonnets and boots (as in parts of the car) – but find I had missed out on quite a few. Now windscreen has been replaced with windshield, queues with lines, nitty-gritty with nuts and bolts and crunch with kicker.

This is to say nothing of the changes to the expletives I had my man saying. Apparently it wouldn’t be right for him to think something was ‘bloody’ good, or to use this term in anger either – hence DARN IT! (still looking for a suitable expletive to fit the ‘good’ version – though at the moment I have just removed it)

In The Canterville Ghost (1887), Oscar Wilde wrote: “We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.”

Then there are the misunderstandings that can come from using words that have slightly different meanings in the US.

I had a nice girl being referred to by my American as a ‘some personnel bimbo’. I meant that he thought she was ‘a girl from personnel and was pretty, blonde and not very bright’  …. It appears that in the US  ‘bimbo’ also has unfortunate connotations referring to a woman of loose morals!

Then there’s the untranslatable – such as phrases that we use but don’t seem to have an easily recognisable match in the US – like ‘spanner in the works’

All in all  it has been so useful – I could just imagine my US readers wincing and cringing  if I hadn’t gotten this done 😉

Have you ever had a odd misunderstanding when talking to an American, or vice versa?

What is your favourite ‘different’ word that they have or that we have for something?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you !

and talking of sharing- the next set of winners will have received their chosen copies of my previous ebooks – and I have to say that there are not even 7 entries left for the next draw – so if you enter you are almost guaranteed to WIN! See details here !     Do share the link with friends and family 🙂

and MORE SHARING …..  here it is –  the next instalment of The Angel Bug – and the first time you will meet this American!

Gabbi was driving home from Eden……

Within fifteen minutes I pulled into my own drive. The sight of the house, low-browed over heavy granite with the sea glinting in the distance, as always, gave me first that surge of joy, now followed by a tang of sorrow. Sometimes, like today, I thought about selling, but I truly doubted I’d find another that gave me that delight on seeing it and there would always be the sorrow of James’ absence wherever I lived. The house had been my choice anyway, that sort of thing not being of interest to James, he’d just asked that the place should have a good sized garden. The garden was now a bit of a problem to manage. It was getting on for an acre and James had only just about got his vegetable garden going and an enormous herbaceous border planted when he collapsed with a massive heart attack whilst digging.

While I unlocked the door and went straight through to the kitchen, automatically putting the kettle on and flicking the answerphone off, I allowed myself to think about James. So often I had to stop myself thinking about him when I was alone, as the pain seemed to overwhelm me too easily when I had nothing else to think about. At work I could allow myself to think of him, knowing that I would be shaken out of my reverie by something going on, someone talking to me.

I’d been with James for over thirty years, he’d just started his PhD in Botanical Science and I was a second year student in the same subject when we met. I was working in the labs he used for his studies, and we got talking. He wasn’t the tall, dark and dashing type, more the tall, intellectual and serious type, but above all he was a really good person; kind, helpful, generous with his time, honest and dedicated. As I got to know him I found that I not only admired him but missed his presence when he was not working in the labs.

It took him a couple of months to ask me out. I recalled with a small smile his later confession that he’d been trying to make himself ask me out for all of one of those months at least, terrified that this ‘exotic creature’, as he called me, would laugh at him. Little did he know at the time that I was as shy as they come, and had it not been for the fact that we could talk in a detached, professionally scientific way to each other I probably wouldn’t have spoken to him at all.

People said we made an interesting couple, he at over six foot, alabaster skin, blue eyes, auburn hair, and me, a foot shorter, with a mass of unruly ebony hair, slightly olive skin that tanned easily and dark almond-shaped eyes.

I poured my tea and wandered into the open-plan dining area; as I did so I caught sight of myself in the mirror and stepped closer. That ebony hair was now tempered with what would be a sprinkling of grey if I didn’t disguise it with a chestnut dye, giving my hair instant highlights, and was far more controlled and controllable than it used to be by being well cut and twisted back into a knot held fast by one of my collection of unusual clips. The skin still looked good all things considered, but there was no hiding the lines round the eyes, so called laughter lines. If only.

With a blush I suddenly realised I was looking at myself and wondering what Luke would see.

The Angel Bug  2

Luke  October 18th – 19th

The Great Hall was packed, the front rows were loaded with the elite of the university but, as far as I could see, the rest of the audience were the well-heeled environmentally-conscious middle-classes that I’d grown used to over the month of the tour in Europe.

I was prepared, hell, I knew my script off pat so that I spoke without notes. The lecture was carefully tuned to keep the audience awake, smiling, nodding at the wisdom pieces, anxious where they needed to be and enthusing just at the point where the talk finished and the book signings began. I’d worked out what I wanted to say and then, ignoring the publisher’s suggestion to ‘just be yourself’, I’d turned to the guy who’d worked the script for the narration on the film, a guy who could work magic with words. It was well worth it.  Every time I spoke the audience was spellbound.

The Dean was at the lectern, giving me the ‘big build up’, Cambridge-style, almost off-handedly, reminding the assembly that ‘our speaker this evening’ was also a product of their own hallowed halls. It made me think for a moment on the difference between countries. Back home at Harvard I’d had a much better introduction, and I’d not even attended that university. The Dean, turned hand outstretched – my cue – and with a smile I stepped out onto the stage. The Dean waited near the lectern, so I had to cross most of the stage to get to him.  He shook my hand, faced the audience and, with a turn of his hand towards the lectern, left the stage.

So there I was at the lectern but with no notes to put down on it. I still stood there, just to start off, I told myself.  I gripped both sides of the lectern like a drowning man clutching a plank; I couldn’t let go of the damned thing. My fingers felt slippery and I was suddenly aware that my heart was beating faster than normal.  This was ridiculous – I’d given this talk so many times and to so many illustrious groups. I mentally shook myself, smiled at the audience and began.

‘Good evening,’ I coughed and then continued, ‘this evening I want to take you on a journey, a journey that will lead you to stand beside me in a fight to save one of the worlds most valuable resources…..’

I found myself rushing my words, and I kept returning to the damned lectern as if it really did hold a set of notes. A part of my mind, not occupied with delivering the speech, realised what was wrong; every other time I’d felt totally relaxed, the audience with me – this lot were not playing the game. In the first few rows there were many with pursed lips and raised eyebrows. For the first time the carefully planned script sounded too much like entertainment and not enough about the real issues and the concrete science behind it.

‘….. so this is where we come to, could it possibly be true, as the indigenous peoples believe, that the mother forest has everything to cure all man’s ills? That it is part of God’s care, if you will, to provide our redemption from all the ailments man is heir to? Our journey has demonstrated how we live only by the grace of plant life. Could it be that we may live even healthier, even longer, without pain or disability, if we can only understand the gifts that are provided? And here’s the bottom line. To understand such things, then we need to be able to find and test them. This takes time, time that is running out as six percent of the rainforest is destroyed every year, meaning that your cure for cancer, your cure for Alzheimer’s, your cure for infertility, your cure for arthritis, may be lost forever. Thank you.’

The applause started and grew; I gave a small bow and turned to leave the stage.  There, hurrying onto the stage was the Dean, florid faced with hand outstretched. What the hell?

‘Wonderful, wonderful,’ the Dean pumped my hand and turned out towards the audience, the clapping dying quickly. Only then did he drop my hand. It was all I could do not to wipe the clamminess off onto his suit jacket.

‘I’m sure we were all fascinated by Dr Adamson’s talk, and I’m sure that some of you will have questions,’

I felt a flush of annoyance, it was explicit in the contract that there would be no question time, but I was trapped, and looking round I could see at least half a dozen of the audience indicated questions by a discretely half-raised hand. I smiled grimly and walked back to the lectern, the beaming Dean in tow.

I scraped up a decent answer for the first and second questions, and headed off the third as I could see I was going to screw it up if I tried to answer properly, the figures were just not there at my fingertips. Their questions were pointed and deeply scientific, in every posh-brit syllable I felt an underlying criticism of the popular appeal of the book and the film and it was unnerving. It had been a long time since I’d been dealing with the nuts and bolts of the work that they were asking about. The past four years had been spent either in the jungle, doing bits for the film, editing or writing the book.

The fourth question was not much better and I knew my answer did not carry the required scientific rigour. Ridiculously, I began to feel out of my depth, as if, out there, were my former professors scrutinising me and my work. Indeed, from the number of white and balding heads I could see they probably were sitting out there.

More hands were raised.  At that point, feeling sick, I leant over towards the Dean and said just that. The Dean, all hesitant and bluff at the same time, waved both his hands at the same time as if to ward of a host of mosquitoes, and then patting the air, apologised that ‘Dr Adamson will not be able to answer any more questions this evening as he is feeling under-the-weather’. He added that he was ‘sure that Dr Adamson would be glad to discuss matters of interest tomorrow as he was staying for another day’. He turned to me, beaming and nodding, at which I found myself nodding back.

*

    Next morning, I lay awake listening to the breathing of the young woman lying beside me. I’d not had such a disturbed night since I left the jungle. Was it just being back here at Cambridge or was it the debacle last night?  Well it was a new day and, as far as I was concerned, I was not going to be available to discuss anything.

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Physical work as distraction therapy

So, that’s it.  The Angel Bug has been sent out to a number of readers for a read-through by fresh eyes, as both my proofreader and I have read it so often we can’t see what is there, what was there and what isn’t there anymore – editing can throw up errors you, yourself, just can’t see.

Now, some of these readers know my style of writing and like it, and some have not read any of my novels before, but are avid readers, and then there’s one in the USA.

The latter because in The Angel Bug one half of the story is told from the view point of an American, and at times he also interacts with other Americans in the USA. Now, I have tried to make sure that he thinks and talks in the right slang and idiom for an American, but what do I know? I’m UK born and bred! Anything ‘off-note’ however, should jump out at a bona fide American and then I should be able to remedy the problem before The Angel Bug is published.

Here’s a conundrum for you …

UK = ‘This is a herbal mixture’  USA = ‘This is an herbal mixture’ (said ‘This is an ‘erbal mixture’  the American using the original pronunciation of herbal – hence the required ‘an’ as indefinite article.)

So, how would you render this in a book that, hopefully, will be read both sides of the Atlantic? 

My solution – ‘an herbal’ when the words are in the mouth of an American, ‘a herbal’ when in the mouth of a Brit.  I’m hoping that this will make ultimate sense as it is read.

Now, I am sure you are thinking that you have read traditionally published books written by either Americans putting words into the mouths of Brits ( or visa versa), and they have been wrong, wrong, WRONG!  Or situations – like the ‘muffin shop’ in a Dartmoor village selling blueberry muffins, ( back at a time before the UK had heard of muffins that were made of cake  –  and not the traditional English Muffin – bread,  let alone had whole shops for them) – which particularly sticks in my mind along with the ‘Chalk pits on Dartmoor’ that the  American author also had. (They are  actually China clay)

However, any serious indie published novelist will have realised from reading the blogs on writing, publishing and reviews, readers are frequently far more critical of indie published works than they are of traditionally published works, and as a book can be bought via the internet anywhere in the world …  you ‘d better get that world and its use of language right.

Unfortunately, it is the self-publishing writers who slap their books up without even proofreading them that has brought this hyper-critical gaze to indie published works. Simple fact – no matter how good you are at spelling, grammar and use of the English language – you cannot proofread your own work. Your mind will always read what it expects to read. Hence those great but tricksy ‘can you read this’ lines that get sent around the internet with letters missed or replaced by numbers looking a bit like the letters .. and yes! You can still read it!   S1M1L4RLY,   Y0UR M1ND   15   R34D1NG   7H15   4U70M471C4LLY   W17H0U7   3V3N   7H1NK1NG   4B0U7   17.

So, why the title of today’s blog?  Physical work as distraction therapy.

Well, sending out your novel to new readers is a bit like sending your first child off to school for the first time…. a bit nerve wracking. So I find distraction and pleasure in physical work instead. (Strangely, housework is no good for this therapy – well, that’s my excuse!)

In this case making some beautiful reclaimed slate coasters, out of Delabole roofing slates that may have been on a roof for two hundred years or so … and now are transformed by cutting, filing and, the amazingly revelatory, rubbing down with wet and dry paper – that shows what time and the mineral content of the slate have made of it. Each one different. Each one attractive in its own way. Love them 🙂 Do click on the picture to see them better!

These are going to the St Dominick Craft Fair – I can’t sell them from my slate-ware website as they vary so much I’d have to photograph and put up a special box for each one!

And while I worked I did not think of  The Angel Bug, all alone, out there … but I did allow my mind to wander and to wonder, what next? To listen for the voice of my next narrator ….

 

Have you any favourite howlers from traditionally published novels?

How do you take your mind off things?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you … it takes my mind of things 🙂

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Making Jam and writing this blog at the same time!

I am making Jam! Right now… while the bowl of fruit and sugar bubbles safely in the microwave I am using the eight minutes, until it is ready for a stir and to reset microwave time and power to simmer, to start this blog.

Jam making is one of my ‘other passions’, it takes hold of me when I find beautiful free or cheap fruit and I have a bit of time. I have my regular jams to make, the blackcurrant which is the staple jam on our table is made from fruit harvested from our garden and frozen, so this is often made as required, five jars at a time (this being the maximum quantity I can make in the microwave in the largest Pyrex bowl I have). I cannot resist making apricot jam when in France in the summer and boxes are being sold cheap in the markets and supermarkets, we eat apricots, make desserts out of apricots and then make jam from the rest – enough to take back to use at home for the rest of the year, each spoonful crammed full of the flavour of summer.

Right now, hang on… ok stirred and set to simmer for another 8mins…right now, I am making Bullace jam. This year the small semi-wild trees in our orchard hedge that bear these slightly smaller, slightly sharper, damson like fruit have been heavy with their glossy bloomed and black fruit, so I mused that I might try making some jam with them, perhaps just one batch of 5 jars as I haven’t made jam with these before and as I adapt my WI preserves book recipes (WI recipes are the best!) to make them suitable for the microwave as I go, I usually do a smaller sample first, however, M immediately went out and picked a box full – about 7lbs (yes I still work in imperial when cooking) which was enough for 15 jars!

So, problem… not enough sugar, in fact not enough even for the first batch (I was only musing remember) and it is Saturday afternoon. So, I hear you think, just go and buy some. Well, I always buy my sugar from my village post office and stores and that is closed on a Saturday afternoon – it’s part of my effort to support this shop in the hope that it will stay viable, so I don’t want to buy it elsewhere and elsewhere would also mean a drive into the nearest town, when I would prefer not to take a car journey for just one thing, part of an effort for the environment.

So the fruit goes into the cold room until Sunday morning, when I can pick up the sugar at the shop and take it into church with me (opposite the shop) and bring back after the service.

Ok…I’ve just put a small spoonful on a plate in the fridge to see if its ready to set and poured boiling water into recycled jam jars and put them in the microwave to boil away happily for a few minutes.

Already… the jars are done, I’ve put the jam back in the microwave to bring it to the boil again, the test shows a decent set…bullace are high in pectin and so I was on to a winner there.

 

Continued 2 days later…. it didn’t take 2 days to make… just 2 days to get back to my blog!

Fifteen jars of gorgeous looking jam now stand on the shelf in the cold room, alongside this year’s apricot. Yum!

 

My Microwave Recipe: makes about 5lb of jam.

2 ¼ lbs damsons or bullace – washed, stalks removed

3 tablespoons of water   (this is the main ingredient difference in using a microwave)

3lb sugar.

Butter – walnut sized piece (it really makes a difference to the finished product)

1, Place bullace and water in large* Pyrex or similarly heat proof microwave safe bowl, covered, 10 mins high power to soften fruit. (*large enough to hold at least twice the amount of fruit you are putting in it)

2, Stir and squash fruit to help release the stones, further 6 – 8 mins until stones come free of the flesh.

3, Using a slotted  spoon lift out as many of the stones as possible and drop into large-hole colander to squash off as much of fruit and skin as possible to return to the fruit pulp – discard the stones ( a few stones remaining in the pulp do not matter and adds to the home made feel of the jam)

4, Re-heat for about 3 mins to bring back up to simmer.

5, Add sugar and stir in well, add butter and make sure it melts.

6, Lid off, bring up to the boil again in MW – about 8 – 10 mins.

7, Stir well and put back into MW to simmer for 8 mins

8, Stir well, and put back into MW to simmer for 8 mins and check for set (place a teaspoon of jam mix on a cold plate – pop back in fridge – will show a set if the jam skin forms wrinkles and feels thick when finger is pushed though it when cool)

9, Into well washed jars pour about 1 cm (half an inch) of boiling water, place in microwave on full power for 3 – 4 mins until the water boils in the jars. Take care and tip them out well and stand to evaporate the last bit of water while you re-heat the jam mix

10, If a set is demonstrated by your test – return jam mix to microwave and heat until bubble appear then remove from microwave and ladle into hot jars. (if no set then simmer for another 3 mins and retest, continue until a set is demonstrated)

11, Cover with clear jam-covers as per instructions with the packet, and label.

12, Enjoy!

 

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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.

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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!!

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New Goats!!

The last of the new goats arrived today, a kid called Nougat, she joins our other five new British Boer Goats, all brown and white blotches and floppy ears. Jasmine, Splash, Snowflake, Tallulah and Blazey.Some of the new Boer goats

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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!

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