For several months I was pretty much chained to my desk as I finished writing, editing and finally publishing House of Scarabs and Genesis. That was fine and needed to be done, but a writer really needs to be immersed in their society and culture to write believable and 3 dimensional characters so I was happy to dip my toe back into the pool of humanity.
London Book Fair
In March I was finally able to make it to the London Book Fair. I've been meaning to attend for several years but something always cropped up and I never quite made it. This year I was really happy to go as a published author with three books under my belt. It was also special because I was able to meet up with another author that I've become good friends with without having actually seen her in person.... don't you just love the days of the internet! As an introvert it was nice to have someone who could break the ice for me and Naomi is great at that.
The book fair is held at Olympia, in London, in a vast and beautiful Victorian era exhibition centre.
We were able to catch some great panels - one with Mark Dawson, L J Ross, and Barry Hutchison about running a publishing business. It was great to hear from these giants of the self-publishing world. We also attended a fascinating panel on audio-book production - it's something I'm interested in but the up-front investment is huge so I need to write a few more books before I go audio. We made some great new contacts and generally just revelled in all things book-related.
Later on in March I was excited to travel to Bognor Regis to visit my father's side of the family. All my aunts, uncles,cousins and their children gathered to celebrate my aunt's 70th birthday. After spending more than 20 years living overseas I haven't been able to attend many family gatherings so it was even more special for me to catch up with the entire gang. Especially as I'd been struggling with a virus and had doubted I would make it.
As you can see from the image below I'm not the only dog crazy girl in the family... my lovely cousin, Ali, kindly put us up overnight and I had plenty of playtime with her pooches (they seemed tiny in comparison to my Rottweilers). We're sandwiched between my father and aunt in the photo below.
After seeing my father's family it seemed only right to catch up with my mother's. So at the beginning of April I was lucky enough to share the day with my uncle and his wife on their 35 wedding anniversary and his birthday. All-in-all it was a great month for seeing family.
My niece celebrated her 18th birthday in December and as part of her present we organised a spa weekend - my sister, niece and I were in for a weekend of pampering, and boy was I in need of a rest after a prolonged period of poor health.
We caught the train down to St Ives. A beautiful train ride that skirts the coastline affording breathtaking views of the Devon and Cornish seascapes. The weekend started as soon as we hit the train with wine and cider and copious laughter. We changed trains in a quintessentially English railway station before catching the final train to St Ives.
In case you've never been lucky enough to go to St Ives or haven't heard of it - it's a town on the south-western tip of England and is renowned as an artist community, mostly due to the amazing light quality that seems to put a filter on every view. We were staying at the Harbour Beach Hotel and Spa which I recommend whole-heartedly. The meals were amazing, rooms beautiful and views breathtaking.
It was only a three day break but we were blessed with glorious weather and walked the length and breadth of the town. It took a while because we had to stop to say hi to every dog we saw because, yes you've guessed it, my sister and niece are dog crazy. There were two that particularly captured our hearts; a deer hound that belonged to the owner of a funky little art gallery and a french bulldog belonging to a boutique. Some people remember places by the pubs they visit - but my family remember the dogs.
It was over all too soon but was a highlight of my year so far. To spend quality time with my sister and niece was priceless. Hope we can do it again one day.
I had to end on my most regular activity - dog walking across the hills and valleys of Devon. This is precious time for me when I can let the fresh air invigorate, the views inspire, and the dogs delight. It's my thinking time and I love it.
Until next time..... happy reading!