Half-term, free writing sessions and Jane Austen.

Half-term, free writing sessions and Jane Austen.

It’s half term. In my humble opinion, I’m not doing too bad a job as a mother. The children have been outside in the garden more than they’ve watched telly. But I did turn a blind eye to an unauthorised water fight yesterday, which I lived to regret seeing mud on my newly cleaned floor, an extra storey of washing on the pile and hearing the misery of younger siblings. As I yelled at the instigator, even he admitted it had all gone a little too far.

If you’re local, Gary Dalkin, Steve Cox, John Pegg and I have been asked to run free creative writing sessions at Gateway Church’s ‘School of Life’ ( 128 Alder Road, Poole, Dorset). They’ll be at 7.30 pm on 21st and 28th June, then 12th and 19th July. We’re hoping they’ll provide aspiring writers with a mixture of inspiration and guidance. Unfortunately, there will only be eight spaces. Booking beforehand is essential, but I hope to post a sign-up link here later in the week.

And if that isn’t enough self-promotion, my latest article, ‘The Jane Game’ is out today in Writing Magazine- 10 reasons why Jane Austen might get overlooked by an agent or publisher today.

 

Where facebook comes in handy

Where facebook comes in handy

It’s been an interesting week. To be honest, I’m a wee bit overwhelmed.

My youngest sister graduated her Masters (with distinction we find from facebook- my family have never been one for facts). And then yesterday another sister welcomed her fourth child into the world, a fifteenth grandchild for my parents (also something I found out from facebook).

I’m worried my new lodger is imaginary. She fits in with my world just a little too well to be real. She hasn’t complained about my cooking and is fine with sleeping underneath our boiler, tangential conversations and four children in the house. Having watched A Beautiful Mind, I know to be careful about these things.

Writing wise, I’ve opened an author page on facebook. I am as ever touched by the people who’ve liked it without me begging. My biggest motivation is to protect my friends on my personal account from feeling spammed by blog notifications and professional bragging.

And there are daffodils all over town. I find myself smiling when I see them. A love of daffodils is one of the few superficials I have in common with the ‘heroine’ of my novel. I took these on the school run.

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Beatrix Potter: sheep-farming scientist and author.

Beatrix Potter: sheep-farming scientist and author.

My article on Beatrix Potter’s Lake District is published today in Britain Magazine.

Controlled by her mother, constricted by Victorian expectations of women, she worried she’d never find anything useful to do.

But she was allowed to draw and paint. In doing so, she saw differences in closely related fungi others didn’t find until the 1940s. Eventually, she produced a scientific paper for the respected Linnean society, speculating about the germination of fungal spores. As a woman amateur, she was easily dismissed, but years later proved right.

With the proceeds of her books, she bought Hilltop Farm in the Lake District. Her energies turned to farming and conservation, and she became a passionate champion of the early National Trust. At 47, she married her solicitor, William Heelis. With his help she bought up farms vulnerable to ruin or development. When she died in 1943, she left the NT over 4,000 acres of land and 14 farms, still working and tenanted today.  No one knows what the Lake District would look like without her.