A change is as good as a rest

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

 

(first posted on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure 21st August 2019)

A change is as good a rest by Anne Booth

I am just at the end of a lovely holiday, first in Northumberland, and then in Yorkshire, visiting relatives.

We took our very elderly dog, Timmy and our younger dog Ben with us. We were a bit worried about Timmy travelling and got some calming tablets and filled the back of our VW van with his carpet and a dog bed so he would feel at home.

What we didn’t expect was Timmy getting a new lease of life when we took him to Lindisfarne. This is a place we have been to often over the years – he was only 9 months when he first came on a family holiday there. We stayed in a rented house on the island for two weeks, and he had lots of long, happy walks by the sea and, famously, ate my husband’s cooked breakfast in one enthusiastic golden-retriever-gulp. Over the years we came back often to stay in the house, and then even when we were staying on the mainland, we would always have a day trip to Lindisfarne. Now he is nearly 14, and most of his eye sight has gone, and he has a tablet every day to help him walk, as his legs can get a bit wobbly, and he sleeps a lot and only has very short walks. I worried about how he would cope on holiday, but we couldn’t leave him in kennels, and we all needed a break. We were prepared to take turns to stay back in the cottage with him as he slept, and not go out much.

This year, we were staying on the mainland but booked a dog -friendly pub on Lindisfarne for a family birthday celebration meal and we took both dogs with us so nobody would be left behind. It felt as if as soon as Timmy got there, and sniffed the air, good memories came back. He wagged his tail and looked very happy. We took him back to Lindisfarne the next day, and he walked with a happy bounce, his gorgeous tail waving as he trotted along. We don’t know if he remembers his puppyhood, but it was so lovely to see his energy briefly return. We took Ben for a longer walk, but left my daughters with Timmy on the beach, and my daughter took this gorgeous picture of Timmy. I think he recognised the smells and just really enjoyed himself.

So what has this to do with writing?

I have to go to Lindsfarne/Holy Island whenever I go to Northumberland. I, like Timmy, love this place so much, and it played an important part in my latest novel ‘Across the Divide’. This ‘thin’ place gives me life too, and this time, even though we weren’t on the island, we ended up going to visit it at least 4 times in one week, at different times of the day. One of the times I met the lovely illustrator Helen Stephens and her daughter there, so that makes me love the place even more! I will never tire of beautiful Northumberland. It makes me so happy. We also went to Alnwick, which I love, and where I had lovely memories of family holidays.

I think I need, as a writer, to re-connect with things which made me happy when I was younger. I used to draw all the time as a child, and I just don’t do this any more. So I am going to try and do more illustration. Last year I loved doing some courses with Claire Alexander at The House of Illustration and have signed up for more this winter, and in February there I did a wonderful collage course with the illustrator James Mayhew . I  am very excited and lucky, as I am going to go an an Orange Beak Illustration retreat soon, and I hope that I can properly recover my childhood confidence and delight, just as Timmy re-discovered his bounce when back in Lindisfarne.

I also need to not be scared to try new things. I have signed up for a part-time Theology degree. My faith has always been very important to me,  and I have always also been so interested in Theology as an academic subject, and think it is very relevant today, and the place where I am going to study it is really beautiful. It will take 6 years if I do it part-time, 3 years if I do it full time. It might be that circumstances will mean that I can’t finish it, but I think, like Timmy, I need to breathe fresh air and remember old feelings, and I hope it will give me, and my writing, a spring in my step.

https://staugustinescollege.ac.uk/locations/malling-abbey-west-malling/

What gave you joy when you were younger which you need to re-connect with now? What would give you and your writing a new spring in your step?

Here is another picture of Timmy at Lindisfarne. He is living his life to the full, smelling every smell! I love him so much and am so lucky to live with him.

My lovely library Day.

Friday, 21 June 2019

 

First posted on ‘An Awfully Big Blog Adventure’.

My lovely library day. by Anne Booth

Sorry this is such a short post, but life is rather hectic at the moment.

I just thought I’d share one of the loveliest book-related things to have happened to me recently, which happened this month, on the 4th June, which was my dad’s birthday.  He died aged 90 in 2017, so he would have been 92.

I was feeling recently , as many authors do, rather disheartened and tired, stressed by deadlines and wondering how much energy I have to carry on, wondering when I will earn more money etc etc. It can be so easy to get discouraged and wonder if being an author makes a difference and if there is room  in such a crowded market. There are so many books out there…does the world really need more of mine? Maybe it is all just too difficult.

And then my local state primary school  asked if I would come and open their new school library. And I said ‘yes’. I have lots of lovely books by lots of other authors in my home, so I donated copies of my books and a box of other people’s, fiction and non-fiction, because I don’t expect the library to ONLY have books by me in it!

And I gave an assembly about how books are like people – we should respect them all and give them a chance, but  it is all right to want to spend more time with some, than others. And I told the children about  other people’s wonderful books and it made me feel more enthused about children’s books in general, and I realised I should take my own advice and remember there is room for all sorts of books and voices in children’s lives – and that included mine!

Later, they asked me wonderful questions about my books and writing and that was very encouraging too.

So, I did the assembly and then they asked me to open the library..

I cut a ribbon (I have NEVER done that before!) and I go in, and it has a beautiful wooden throne for a reading chair, and brightly coloured book shelves with lots of books the teacher librarian has worked so hard to classify and order, and cushions, and I  pose for photos with the children (I haven’t seen any yet) and I look over and I see, on the wall, this:

And it was such a surprise! And I love that it was on my dad’s birthday, because, born in 1927, he HATED school and never enjoyed reading, and what he needed as a child, was a school library just like this, full of a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books he could have chosen from. He would have been astonished to think that his daughter had opened a school library! And I am so happy and grateful to that lovely teacher librarian and school  for asking me to do something so wonderful and unique – and I would never had got to do it if I had not been an author!!

Looking after yourself as a writer (first posted on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure)

https://awfullybigblogadventure.blogspot.com/2018/10/looking-after-yourself-as-writer-by.html?spref=tw

Looking after yourself as a writer by Anne Booth

I didn’t know, when I started trying to write as a full-time job, that there were some health risks attached, and having encountered some of them, I thought I’d share what I am trying to do about them.

In order to stay afloat as a full-time writer, you have to work long hours, and I have found that sitting at my desk, involved in my story and forgetting to take breaks, has not been good for my posture or my weight. I know that I should get up and walk about more, but I am sure other writers will understand that it often doesn’t work that way – you don’t intend to sit writing non-stop for hours, but when you are deep into a particular scene the time rushes by and you end up being motionless for too long. Even walking my dogs doesn’t make up for those long stationary hours sitting down.

So, following the rule of 3, so beloved of those writing about story structure, here are three things I am trying to do about this:

1) I have got a standing desk.

I absolutely love it.  I read a proud tweet by the lovely writer Alice Broadway, (@alicecrumbs)    where she shared a picture of the standing writing desk her husband had made her. I’d been looking at standing writing desks for a while, and I was very impressed. So I contacted her and her husband, and Dave made one for  me, specially built to fit my laptop. All of the standing desks I saw online cost so much more than this one- and this one is so elegant and lovely and does the job. He is setting up a business doing bespoke woodwork projects, and he is available to make other writers standing desks. His twitter account is @daveyboydanger and I highly recommend him and his desks!

2. I have joined a community gym, but because I am feeling a bit shy about exposing my lack of fitness in front of others, I have invested some money for some one- to- one sessions with a very kind, young, fit, personal trainer called Poppy. I NEVER thought I would do anything like that, but I am so glad and I need it so much. My shoulders hold so much tension, and my weak core muscles would never get me a place on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, and Poppy devises brilliant exercises to help. I can feel the good of it. Poppy is also very pleased about the standing desk. And, by an amazing coincidence, I have found that Poppy is the niece of the art director in a publisher who will be publishing a picture book of mine in 2020! It is definitely a small world!!

As a self-employed person I am definitely going to claim for the standing desk against tax, and I am going to ask about claiming for the personal training, as other people work in offices where they have free gym membership. If I hear back that you can, I will tell you.

3. I have gone away on a writing retreat. As most writers know, you can also claim the cost of going away to research and write, against tax. Not having an office to go to, and working alone at home, takes its toll on your mental and emotional health, and I have been struggling a bit with that. It can feel very isolating not having work colleagues and working on your own all day, and you never get away from your domestic environment. I am very lucky that my lovely husband built me a writing hut in our garden, but every so often I need to write intensely and be in a quiet environment with my meals made for me, but also with the company of other writers. I have just come back from writing (and copy and pasting!) tens of thousands of words at a writing retreat in France called Chez Castilllon I highly recommend it. It opens again next year with some wonderful tutored retreats, but you can also attend and just do your own  work.
I did worry about spending money – every writer will understand that – but if I can get a contract for the work I did then, which I am finishing now, it will more than pay for itself, and I also always feel so much better emotionally and mentally for spending time with the lovely people who run it, Janie and Mickey Wilson (Janie is the brilliant writer Janie Millman) When you go on retreat you also have the company of the other writers who happen to be writing there, and I was very lucky with the company I was in this past week and really enjoyed meeting everyone. I was particularly lucky that one of the people there for her own work was the very experienced and very very good  writer Jo Thomas, who in one sentence at one meal, told me not to worry about a particular issue and advised me to put back a whole section of work I had removed because of it. Suddenly I had copy and pasted back thousands of words,  the book I was writing made sense again, I was much MUCH nearer completing it, and I am very grateful. I also really enjoyed reading Jo’s books in bed at night – they are very relaxing, romantic and well written, so I have discovered a great new writer to read!

So – buying a standing desk, going to see a personal trainer to get bespoke exercises to sort out fitness issues, and going away on a writing retreat, have all been ways I have looked after my health and invested in my career as a writer. If I see this as a business investment so I can keep going in the long-run then I don’t feel guilty about spending money on myself, and I can already see the good of all three things.

 

Things there are no photos of (From a post from ‘An Awfully Big Blog Adventure’

https://awfullybigblogadventure.blogspot.com/2018/08/things-there-are-no-photos-of-by-anne.html?spref=fb

 

My post for this blog (I post on there on the 21st of every month)

Blog Tour (Review & Author Q&A): Across the Divide – Anne Booth (Illustrated by Serena Rocca)

I am very happy with this lovely review of ‘Across The Divide’

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‘A book that broaches, binds, blends and bridges big issues…
This is more than historical fiction; this is a story movingly written in a one-of-a-kind way that ensures it will stay with you long after the last page is read.’

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Title:
 Across the Divide
Author: Anne Booth (@Bridgeanne)
Illustrator (Cover): Serena Rocca (@SerenaR_art)
Publisher: Catnip Books (@catnipbooks)
Page count: 320
Date of publication: 7th June 2018
Series status: N/A
ISBN: 978-1910611111

Perfect for Year 5, Year 6 & Year 7.

#3Words3Emojis:
1. Tolerance 😌
2. Lindisfarne 🏰
3. Divide ➗


Olivia is stuck in the middle of a horrible row that threatens to tear apart her family, her friendships and her community.

Visiting the island of Lindisfarne, she meets a strange young man, caught between war and peace, who may help her decide what to do.

A beautiful, thought-provoking novel about seeing both sides and having the…

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Lindisfarne and ‘Across The Divide’ – re blogged post from ‘Minerva Reads’

http://www.minervareads.com/across-the-divide-and-lindisfarne/

 

 

Across the Divide by Anne Booth

I am so happy with this review of ‘Across The Divide’ – that is exactly what I hoped readers would get from the book!

Rhino Reads

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‘When her mum is imprisoned for leading a pacifist protest against the local army base, Olivia must go and stay with her dad on the remote island of Lindisfarne. To make things worse, her friend Riya isn’t speaking to her and Aidan… well, Olivia really needs to sort things out with him. And who is William, the mysterious boy she has met on the island? A novel about family and friendship, but most of all about finding the courage to fight for what you believe in.’

Anne Booth has great warmth and heart in her writing and it shines through this book, making it a gentle hand-hold through the confusion of war and pacifism. Olivia’s current day story is beautifully linked with young people’s experiences of enlisting versus conscientious objection in the First World War. Perfect for topic work around war and pacifism and understanding diversity, Across the Divide belongs…

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