Turkey: a wander amid flowers

Botany is for enthusiasts but flowers are for everyone.  My brain dips in and out of the families and species. They keep changing their names as the compositaea family is now the Asteraceae, and as for umbellifers? What now. Crucifera is Brassiceracea. Cabbage family I can remember, but all the flowers are small and yellow. At least Orchids are still Orchids, or rather Orchidaceae. Never to be confused with Monocotyledons as gorgeous as the Asphedoline brevicaulis of the Chimera flames20160412 Asphodeline near Cimera

The Boraginaceae family tries harder, gorgeous blues with curling tips, except for the yellow one we saw today. A very rare liquorice only found in the bay at Andrasan was pointed out with glee, and tulip seed heads, monks cowl orchids, and vetches so numerous we walk on them with abundance. 2016 04 10 coronilla parviflora, 4 scorpion vetch, pink, white, yellow I smell the French lavenders, peer at the small yellows, the pretty pinks and look up to the mountains as well as peering at the soil.  I am told we covered 72 flowers this morning.  In a small area of wasteland and scrubby pine no more than 500 meters from our lodging house. Botanists rarely see the view I have realised.  Rather like the tortoise wandering looking for its mate they are fixed on the ground and move slowly but thoughtfully.20160412 turkish tortoise

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Road trip to Turkey with Bungalow Lil.

Turkey will be a doddle: Well, we’re off.   First stop Loulie’s in London which gives us a day to Gatwick to catch the plane from Yorkshire. Always better to be sensible about time.  Fleur squeaks loudly that we dont need 5 hours to get to Gatwick from London. But we do!  Two granddaughters are here, Polly and Phoebe.   As for my companion, depression, for the last few weeks, it’s determined to rear its ugly head, so I sloughed off early to lie in the dark and listen to the goings on.   How I love my family!Dads funeral 067

Both my gorgeous older granddaughters have dropped any pretence at being nicely brought up upper middle class girls.  Polly has just turned up in a shapeless black jersey with two very large holes where the elbows should be.   Her hair is a mish mash of dreadlocks, straggly straight congealed locks and miscellaneous pieces of unwashed hair, she goes to New Zealand on Monday, will she wash it before she goes – and will it make any difference.   But neither hair nor jersey can hide a warm caring personality, a lovely person well worth knowing.   Dads funeral 039Then there is Phoebe, another lass with bright strawberry blonde hair who is also inclined to work with those the rest of us avoid and gasp at their ghastly behaviour.   As I write they discuss defecating young boys – in the classroom or the road and watching the cars squish the results, I’ve eaten my raw carrot, cinnamon, nuts and god knows what rubbish but I can handle it! Daisy sensibly watches telly and ignores us

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Down and Dirty in the Country: A Quick Look at Rural Noir

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Noir is a genre usually identified with the city. Concrete and steel cut off our anti-hero, throwing an endless shadow over him or her. At the same time, however, authors were also looking at the darkness, isolation, and evil in…

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Molly: Essays on ageing

For those who have been following Lils occasional essays on ageing, care homes and other themes so little written about. Tender and observational they are a delight. find them in the categories “essays on old age”.

Mollie had beautiful breasts then one by one they were lopped off. Now she keeps losing the National Health replacements.   At 98 this causes alarm in a way no one can imagine, unless they are an elderly lady with standards.  They lie in her undies drawer or the bathroom and they wander among her blouses. When she needs them they vanish.   I love Mollie and couldn’t care less whether she wears her false ones or not, but a man was coming for a drink and Mollie is of that generation who wouldn’t dream of entertaining a man without her breasts.  She found them in the basket with the clothes pegs.

Not for Mollie do clothes go straight into the tumbler dryer, if it’s a nice day clothes are pegged outside in the fresh air. Waste not want not and remembering the war too well.  Frugality has created her Achilles heel though., She eats like a bird and she doesn’t like waste, so the fridge is full of nasty little dishes with nastier remains lurking till mould take their place.  We have a standoff in the kitchen as I refuse to put left over rice into the cauliflower cheese. At 73 I only just win. Mollie isn’t too particular about mould, she just scrapes it off and pop the remains into the next soup, casserole or pie.

Mollie likes damask table napkins, well ironed. She rinsed hers out after breakfast and was about to iron it for supper. The iron was long past it’s sell by date with a dodgy flex just waiting for an accident.  Pfff, bang and the house goes black.  Mollie is taken back, a little frightened, the iron is unplugged with nervous laughter. A new iron, I suggest.  New irons are two a penny, heavy ones, watery ones, holiday ones and not just at electrical stores.  You can buy them everywhere. Mollie gets the bit between her teeth, she wants to see every iron in the town and so we do.  We have pert blondes up ladders, middle aged men unpacking holiday irons, heavy duty irons, complex settings for cotton, spray and damp irons. But she must have a light one, because of her arm and finally she decides, she’ll wait till her daughter comes back. At not yet 69 her daughter is good at decisions.

Mollie had a plan, she had an appointment to see the Occulist.  Macular Degeneration is always an issue for the nonagenarians.

“Would you be a dear and drive me to the appointment” she broke her arm two years ago and can no longer drive, thank god. The arm has never healed.

“I can do the shopping while I wait for you and then lets go out for lunch” I suggest, the bits of mouldy leftovers sigh in the fridge. I can be cunning with Molly.

“Splendid idea.”

Clutching worn plastic bags, which Mollie has been saving long before it became fashionable, we sallied forth.   I’m not very conversant with the local roads but even I could see that Molly was taking us momentarily to her favourite beach by the sea and not too the town with the Occulist.

“Oh Yes, Quite right”

In her excitement at the outing she had quite forgotten where we were headed.   About turn and soonish we sail into Leiston only to find the high street closed to traffic for resurfacing.  This unnerves Mollie’s driver, ME. I like familiar roads, and no surprises, although I missed a white van man only last week heading straight for me on the wrong side of the road. My children still think I am safe. But we were running late, Mollie gave me the name of the eye man and a grand salute to show me where she was going, leapt out of the car and beetled down the new tarmacked road.   For 98 she moves fast but I worry she will forget where she is going. I can do nothing, gingerly I follow directions and park. How to find Molly in this strange town, I start asking, however the name Mollie had given me belonged to a lovely shop selling daffodils, jonquils and pansies. They suggest the high street which is perilously difficult to get to, what with the resurfacing.  Shopping is forgotten, I make my way to the eye place at last but she’s scarpered, left five minutes ago. What direction? I ask panicky, but nobody knows.  I scuttle like a benighted beetle round the streets of Leiston till, with my heart in my mouth, I make it back to the car.  Mollie is there, a little weary and I am a little teary, but we greet each other with beaming smiles.  Thank goodness I never lock my car. We both go home for a nap, lunch being far too exciting.

Mollie is a serious but joyful lady, straight talk is what she likes and what she expects.   An elderly neighbour comes round for a drink and we get into a hilarious conversation about our wedding nights, laugh? We almost wept, three ladies, one in her mid seventies, one in her late eighties and Mollie at ninety eight.   I love Mollie.

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Self Publish, Indie Authors. Part 3 Why mix and match vanity choices are sensible.

It is not vain to pay for elements of book publishing, its sensible. (see part 2) After all painting your bedroom might be easy, but it is so much easier to pay someone else. Just work out what you can afford and where your skills are weakest. If nothing else just accept your first book won’t be as good as it might if you paid a pro. but you got to learn somewhere.  So how much should you pay, and for what?

Examples of how you can decide.

  1. In the past it could cost £3000 to get the services of an editor, designer for the book cover, ISBN number and pay for 1000 books to be printed and listed. (see Bungalow Lil’s book “What Ever Next” for a good example from 2007, printed by Athena. We never recouped the money.)  BUT with modern printing the costs have fallen dramatically and if you pay this type of money nowadays you will be ripped off.
  1. Most companies who offer an author focused service get your book in to hard copy and/or on line. That is all they offer. All risks are yours. You should be able to find a small publisher to do it all for you for less than £1000, and have 150 copies, with more available through print on demand.  They should provide a proper copy edit, a book cover design, the choice of paper and size of print and book, an ISBN number and register the title on book lists and provide a number of physical copies.  Some have their own Amazon store, others just upload your book as POD for the main Amazon shop.  I have seen prices quoted at £750 for most of the above with only 5 physical copies for the author.  May be up to £1000 or a bit over depending how many paperbacks you want in your garage. Honest firms who don’t claim to do any marketing but can get you a quality book published, possibly as an ebook as well, without too much for you to do.  But they don’t market.
  1. Just because you want to pay for publishing, you dont have to be ripped off. A decent publisher, advertising on line, should be up front about costs and tell you precisely what you are paying for. Take all claims for Marketing with a pinch of salt. WordPress blog is free, facebook is free, twitter is free. Uploading your book on to Amazon is not marketing! Do they own a book store on Amazon? Or a bookstore on your high street? How do they use Barnes and Nobel?  Will they send out your book title to be included in the online Waterstones catalogue?  This is not a marketing strategy.  Dont get confused by the huge changes in the past 5 years.  Old publishing houses have their agent led authors, with whom they share the risk and market with enthusiasm. And the vanity/self publishers whose books they produce but they dont market and wont. Dont get confused by what you think they are offering just because they are traditional. And dont use any one with out checking the reviews of the company.

A good review of where to find author serviced publishers can be found on www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com. Their publishing services index has reviews of many companies.  They also talk about which firms have court cases against them from disappointed writers.  Another good magazine for modern writers is the US based emag www.TheBookDesigner.Com

It is not Vanity. It is control.  Pay for what services you need and get your book out there. Indie Author can become an Indie Publisher by buying in as much or as little help to get their book published.  You decide what You want. The wonders of modern publishing.

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Lils second book, ready to roll

Its taken 6 months of editing, but at last Bungalow Lil and I, in association with the Yorkshire Dales Press (that’s us again but with different hat on) present to you Silver Spoons and Broken Wings .

Silver Spoons and broken Wings Cover

This started as semi autobiographical memories of lils childhood. She then used the memories to frame a modern story of a womens self discovery.

Click on the link on the top right (not the picture in the blog!) to take you to the amazon book shop page. It is only available as an ebook at present, but we hope to get a physical printed matter out there in the next 6 months. All those who love Lil. Do review it,

Silver Spoons and Broken Wings.  A Yorkshire Dales Press publication

A privileged childhood, cold and loveless, produces a woman who can’t quite make life work, no matter how conventional she is.  She revisits her child hood in a sequence of beautiful and lyrical memories and slowly various female relationships start to make sense.  It is only once she has thrown off the conventions of her narrow background that Lucy discovers her own path to security and happiness.

Set in the 1980’s London of upper class Kensington and the little Boltons, and the rural hinterland of those who hunted and lived in big houses, the author at times sounds like Anita Brookner who made this world her own. But the descriptions are so sharp and funny that the author might better be described as where Molly Keane met Mary Wesley.

About the Author

The author, Lucilla Butler, after many years of wandering, has settled in the Yorkshire Dales and excitingly refound her lost manuscripts, written in the late 1980’s.  She had an agent, Murray Pollinger, and her books were about to be published when the publishing houses bought each other out. Her contract was cancelled. She changed lovers, moved country and lost focus.  After many years the manuscripts have resurfaced detailing a world now ended. Much work and typing has gone into getting them ready for publication. I hope you enjoy them. Read more about Lil and her work on http://www.BungalowLilandI.wordpress.com

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Self publish: Indie Author: Part 2 Or why Vanity publishing is not so vain (but dont get ripped off)

 

Following on from my last blog: Self publish, Indie, traditional: Where does an author start. Part 1

The journey for us writers is long and tortuous.  Finding your niche market might mean you need to ignore the traditional agent/publisher route and go it alone.Modern publishing is increasingly using a business model that only accepts a few guaranteed sellers. The top names only.  Or if a film right can be sold before publication on a potential best seller. The self publisher is filling the gap they leave in the market, taking on the production and marketing of their own books. Some even make money.

Vanity Publishing is not vain. It’s keeping control. But the prejudice against so called Vanity Publishing,  the Self Publisher and the rip offs and the huge changes in technology means authors are like the babes in the wood, trying to avoid the wolf (if I can mix my fairy tales) Call it Independent Publishing, or Indie Authors and people get the point. If you pay for some services like editing, or book cover design, this is not vain, it is sensibly buying in services before the hard work of marketing commences.

So what have I learnt?  A lot of authors like the idea of self publishing but are confused between the process of getting a book published and the need to market it for selling. They are not the same thing. It is two separate issues.

A good book going down the Indie route still needs a professional approach,(You, with a different hat on, or someone else who is better then you.) To edit, design the book cover, choose the size and type of paper, use the technology to upload an e-book, upload a POD book, using ISBN numbers, consider the vat and tax implications in a global world (You can’t publish on Amazons kindle unless you think of tax) all needs a professional approach.  The journey from first draft on Word, via Calibre, Epub or Mobi, via HTML up to what on earth is the book’s metadata: well it is a long old haul. Especially the first time.

And then there is the marketing, the book lists, the eshops, your own eshop, what downloadable formats will you offer. Who will write your press releases. Who will organise your launch etc. What are you going to do with the paperbacks sitting in your garage? Thousands of them……   So publishing and marketing are two different services. Don’t get confused. One is author centred services to get the book in to readable formats, both physical and on line. The other is to sell the blasted thing.

It is possible to train yourself and do it all for free.  You need to be confident in your computer skills to teach yourself, and confident in formatting in word to put in tables of content etc. (it took me 3 days of research and an afternoon of struggle to upload a fully edited book on to KDP, all in Word and then converted to HTML. I used the KDP book cover and a friend edited the book). Then have you the skills to make a marketing plan, write press releases, ask for reviews, a social media strategy.   Uploading a POD via Createspace on to Amazon is not the same as selling anything.  Getting an ISBN number and listing your book is not marketing. Don’t forget, Publishing and Marketing are two different activities.

See part 3 here for how much to pay and how to choose the best publisher for you. From free to everything done for you.

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Jumbo. Memories of a first wife by Lil.

Born 13th December 1936

Died 5th November 2015-11-18

There was a melancholy to the blaze of Autumn colours, the dried grass whispered quietly, the nettles died back gently, Jumbo opened his eyes, smiled and breathed his last.   The pheasants, at any rate, breathed a sigh of relief.   Suddenly, his death had the torch of memory peering in the corners.  Did he really take part in the independence of Ghana, get mentioned in dispatches while in Cyprus, did he direct the Money Programme, make a series of films of Billy Graham with David Frost.   Was he chairman of PHAB, met and heartily disliked Jimmy Savill?   Yes, it was Jumbo.   Father of seven, occasionally losing a few in the sweety shop at Polzeath.

 

Jumbo did what his family has done down the years, gave his time to good causes.   He ran the Butler Trust, tirelessly visiting prisons. He was a European to the core, living many years in France.  But the lure of the English country side got him in the end and he settled with Jennifer his third wife, in the depths of Dorset, enjoying his walks with Spice and shooting in the winter.   At heart, he was a reformer, a tad left wing at times. He was complex, lovable and a source of much love from his friends and family.

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A grandmother’s apocalyptic vision

Lunch with her grandsons triggers a fear for their futures as Lil considers the huge world changes that are taking place.

I was invited to lunch by a couple of grandsons.  I was so touched, it was just me and it was a spontaneous gesture.   I cannot imagine inviting my grandmothers to lunch.  One was very old and required good manners which covered not only a plethora of pleases and thank yous but an unwritten understanding of what was appropriate to talk about.  The other was equally old and fell asleep sitting bolt upright in her chair after meals. They were so much nearer to death than I was that it was difficult to communicate with them, even kissing their leathery cheeks was to commune with a world far removed from mine.

I’m their age now, wrinkled, grey haired and trip up easily on uneven surfaces.   I no longer play tennis, ski or ride, running is dodgy and I like to know where the next loo is.  But I do have a burning belief that my world of the comfortable upper middle is not only coming to an end but is going to be swept away with all the edifices that the middle class has built for itself.  And that this is a good thing in a world of such poverty.

Armageddon is not a subject that either of my grandsons had given much thought to.   Their world is dancing, girlfriends, essays at university and saving up for the next holiday.   I listened with love, fear and dread as I thought of the hordes of immigrants, whose miserable lives make them determined to breach the flimsy barriers that stand between us and their worlds of bitter warfare, religious intolerance, starvation.  Those people whose only hope of survival is to rise up and invade our way of life, grab the bread, kick out the weak, clamber over the carefully balanced institutions that for hundreds of years has served us well.

How could I explain to my grandsons that I foresee a future where a social conflagration that makes World Wars 1and 2 look like a teddy bear’s picnic could swamp their lives.   No more black ties, no more claret and pheasant, no more double barrelled named girls appearing in Country Life.   I see socialism as inevitable, indeed desirable if I am going to have to live with neighbours who have risen up and invaded us to feed their children, seek jobs and have a television.   I realise that many people like me join UKIP, but my analysis leads me to believe that nothing will stop the ravening hordes so the best we can do is devise a socialism which shares out the wealth more equally and by that means, we survive.   Africa is closer than you think, the Middle East is on our doorstep, the rich are greedier than ever, the only way that the bread is going to be distributed is by a world federalism of socialism round the world.

The lunch was delicious, the boys dears, I hadn’t the heart to bang on about my apocalyptic fantasies so we talked about their lives, oh how I hope I’m just a silly old woman who has got it all wrong.

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People Not Possessions.

Lil considers the real pleasures in life of people and love as she gives up on the heavy weight of personal possessions and rejects the commercial desire to possess.   

If the bungalow burns down, what would I miss?   Lilla’s pictures and Malcolm’s pictures because they are painted by my daughter and brother, two people I love.   I would regret the jewellery made by Frances, the pieces are beautiful and she is my friend.  The stuffed fox now belongs to my grandson  but is housed by me until he builds his own nest, and my photographs, I love looking at my family, happy with hair brushed and grinning smiles.   As for the rest?  Conflagration do your worst.   My emotions are wrapped up in people; family and friends.

My family are a source of great joy. Even their disasters (this has been a bad summer), I share with love and at times sorrow.   My large, noisy band of grand children are adorable. Often more in retrospect than when I’m actually parrying the banter of six to twelve year olds.  Over twelve, they have views, capitol punishment, age of consent, that clinic in Zurich.

I have just heard of a fifteen year old boy who has pushed his grandmother from Syria to Hungary, but as much as I love them I think a couple of hundred miles is all I can expect.  I love the young’s zest for life, their catastrophic mistakes, there euphoric moments – my heart goes out to them all. I watch as my great grandchildren, Malachi so far, arrive and the new mums and dads try to work it all out all over again. How to work, be parents, be human and true to oneself. Each generation follows on and my wisdoms can’t protect or save them the heart aches that each must learn.

But it’s not only about my family that I want to write.  People, not possessions, are what give me pleasure.  I become more and more in love with life and the support I derive from friends.   I’m not talking about hour long phone calls, girlie shopping trips, nights out on the tiles.  I’m talking about a helping hand with the computer, my book group, walks in the Dales with the five milers and with the heartier group.   The infinite kindness of people coming from totally different places who share activities and reach out that hand of friendship that makes daily life infinitely precious.   I’ve reached the age when I’m expected to reminisce and sigh about days when one was desirable, chased rather than chaste.   But life today is wonderful, family and friends are wonderful, even buying bacon from the co-op is fun with the lovely ladies who recognise me and know also my two daughters, and ask after my grandchildren. Long may it go on, thank you all.

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