Old photographs Poles Montaland genealogy france

Other People’s Ancestors

When researching your family tree, you can’t help but turn up interesting stuff about friends of the family who are no relation to yourself. I have been writing about my great grandmother, Fanny Chalk Austin, whose memoirs I have edited and expanded and published on Kindle. UK Link  –  Global link 

I have since been digging out old family photographs and hit a rich vein in a big old scrapbook that my father had. In it, there are photographs and newspaper cuttings relating to lots of my own family, but also some which bear no relation to my tree. (as far as I can tell)

Photographs of a wonderful looking woman who, judging by the pictures, had a vibrant sense of humour and a ‘jolly-hockey-sticks’ approach to life. Her name was Dora Boobyer, and I haven’t the faintest idea how she connects to my family. But it was a pleasure to be able to send the images to a genealogist who has researched her in their tree.

I also have several photographs of a French family who obviously had a major impact on mine but it is not clear why. My great-grandmother honeymooned in Paris, as did my grandmother, at Hôtel Britannique, and it looks likely that at least one family member had strong connections with Britain, but I still haven’t pieced together the puzzle and it isn’t even MY puzzle.

Granny Poles had three children, Louise, Richard, and Harry.

Louise married a M. Montaland apparently in England AND France.

I’ll continue this story later and add the photos. I have to go to a bookshop now to promote my physical books a bit.

Check out Book Gobbler for FREE books

Who wants free books?

We all like to get free books, and we all know a few ways to do that. Well here’s another one.

Book Gobbler is a brand new site set up by Blue Poppy author Joni Dee.

For readers.

Especially avid readers with a tight budget, you can get hold of loads of FREE e-books from a wide range of authors and all genres. All they ask is for an honest unbiased review in exchange.

You can ALSO enter for a chance to win FREE physical books for many giveaways.

Because the site is new, you are in with a much better chance than with Goodreads.

For authors.

Get more reviews and readers.

We all know how hard it is to reach new readers, and get honest reviews on blogs and Amazon. By offering your e-book, and/or physical copies, you are able to reach a new audience of avid readers, including several influential bloggers.

Readers are required to write a review for any books they get for free. If they don’t write the review, they don’t get to apply for any more free books.

YOU choose, whether to offer e-books, or physical books, or both.
YOU choose, how many books to offer, and if you want to limit postage of physical copies to certain geographical areas.

Get in EARLY

The Book Gobbler is a new site, but it is building up users incredibly quickly. For now, the service is free, unlike many influential book review sites which charge authors money for the same service.

At some point in the future, they will have to charge something to maintain the growing site and cover hosting costs. So get in quick while it is still free.

 

Unfinished NaNoWriMo Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of my unfinished NaNoWriMo story
If you fancy reading Chapter 1 first, it is here.

2 Heaven

He had died. He laid back on the clouds, with St. Peter standing over him, clipboard in hand, accompanied by angels in white or blue robes. The light was bright, it was warm, not the freezing cold of Earth in winter. He blinked. The light of the Lord was too much, and he would be found unworthy. He tried to shield his eyes, but there was a wire in his hand, and it hurt to move.

St Peter took out a pen, and made a note on the clipboard, as he said, “Don’t try to move just yet, Mr …?”

John didn’t answer. He was confused. Why would St Peter not know his name?

“Where am I?”

“St Luke’s hospital. You passed out in the subway station. We couldn’t find any identifying documents, so we don’t really know much about you. Rather difficult to treat you without medical records.”

John’s head slumped back on the soft pillow. Not a cloud, but a bed. It wasn’t St. Peter, but St Luke. No, not St. Luke, but a doctor. He wasn’t dead. He felt … what did he feel? Everything and nothing. If he had been dead, and this were heaven, it was pretty much alright. Clean sheets, warm enough, and presumably, there would be regular meals. But would he have made the cut. He tried to weigh up his own life without bias. He half laughed at himself for the audacity of such a thing. How could he possibly remain unbiased while deciding if he should be allowed into heaven? He couldn’t even be certain of writing an honest review about his latest song.

St Peter was speaking to one of the other angels, “See if you can find out some details about him. If we can’t I suppose we’ll just have to do the best we can, and then discharge him as soon as he’s fit enough to go home. Assuming he has a home.”

‘Home! Star!’ John remembered he needed to feed the cat. He sensed he was thinking more lucidly again. He could see he was in a hospital, but he felt fine. No broken bones, no cuts or burns, no infection or neoplasm, his heart was beating normally now, and he had no breathing difficulties. He was in fine physical shape. He didn’t need their help. Star, on the other hand couldn’t feed himself. Star was the cat, his name short for Astaroth. Ok, naming your cat after a demon might be a black mark on St Peter’s clipboard, he had to admit. But taking good care of the cat, when he often forgot to look after himself, that was a big plus mark, right? That must be like, fifty heaven points right there. Anyway, it was just a name, and Star could be a right little devil sometimes.

“Nurse.” The word came out as a feeble, almost inaudible, croak; as though a very sleepy frog was trying to get someone to lift a heavy log off their back.

‘Nope, that’s not how my voice is supposed to sound.’ He thought.

He coughed, experimentally, and did the shortest vocal exercise in the history of music. “NURSE!”

‘Oops, bit loud.’

He hid under the bedsheet as a nurse bustled over, looking aggrieved.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to shout. Errm, when can I go home?”

“The doctor will need to see you before you can be discharged.”

“I really need to feed the cat.”

She consulted the little fob watch on her pocket absently as she said, “Doctor will be doing his rounds later this afternoon.”

“This afternoon? What time is it?”

The nurse looked again at her watch and said, “Eleven thirty-two.”

John enjoyed, fleetingly, the fact that she had literally just looked at her watch, and then had to look at it again the moment he asked the time. Then he recalled that it had been early evening when he had been chased by the barbarian horsemen; sorry, correction, biker gang. So he had been in hospital overnight? Which meant that the need to get back and feed Star was even greater now.

The nurse bustled away. He looked at the line in his wrist. It wasn’t actually connected to anything. Just there in case they needed it. He gently peeled the retaining tape away and slid the thin metal needle out of the vein. It hurt. John wasn’t brave or tough. He was a musician not a fighter. But this was too important. He replaced the tape with the little wad of lint, and held it in place as it felt like the stickiness was worn away. His jeans and tee shirt were in a bag in the bedside table. His coat, which wasn’t warm enough hung on the chair.


Same rule applies. If you want to read more you just have to ask, and I will post up chapter 3.

I don’t want to bore people.

Chris Mouse time is nearly here

Special Agent Felix Whiter returns in a brand new adventure.

Ok, now I know there will be more people saying “Who?” than “Yay!” about this, but that is going to change over time until everyone knows all about Felix Whiter. If you have already read “For Cats’ Eyes Only” you can scroll down, or click here.

Who is Felix Whiter?

Created to coincide with the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge, with the theme “Animal Agents” Felix is a special agent at A.I.S. (Animal Intelligence Services) based in Beech House. He’s a cool cat who always gets his man, although Swifty the Tortoise often gives him the slip.

His boss is a white mouse called M, and her assistant is a white stag called Jonathan Hart. There is also an owl called Olli who is a few feathers short of a nest.

The series is illustrated by Amii James, an art student currently at Petroc college and going on from there to university to study illustration with a view to becoming a children’s book illustrator.

Chris Mouse

The sequel “Dr. Gnaw” is set in winter, and the animals have a tradition that dates back to one very cold winter, when the animals were all cold and hungry. One brave mouse called Chris set off to find food, accompanied by Old Father Squirrel. They were gone for 7 days and nights, but on their return they brought sacks of cheese, and nuts.

Every winter, the animals remember, by exchanging gifts, and eating good food, and they all wish each other a Happy Chris-Mouse and dress up as old father squirrel in his acorn hat; although Felix isn’t really all that keen on it.

Felix has a new partner; a spaniel called Holly, and he has to get over his dislike of dogs. He and Holly get invited to a posh party at the Akita-Shibu Bank. Felix goes under an assumed name; John McClaw, but soon he is fighting for his life, and Holly’s too when a gang of villains, led by Hans the Rat, take everyone hostage, and try to rob the bank.

If the plot sounds familiar, you should see some of the jokes! Blue Poppy Publishing would like any film companies, or 1970s comedy double acts to send writs, in the first instance, to our contact email. We don’t have any money, but the publicity of a court case could well change that.

Funding a new book by a new author

Teeny Tiny Witch, by Sheila Golding.

Teeny Tiny Witch is, as her name suggests, is quite small. She also prefers the colour red, to black, and in addition, her spells often go catastrophically wrong.

As a result she is banished from Witch Island, and has to leave her mother, and all her friends.

Cold and alone, she befriends a dragon, named Quanga, and his mother, who works for a grumpy old wizard.

While Teeny Tiny Witch may be able to help the wizard to cheer up, but what she really wants is to go back home; and that requires not only all her courage, and strength; but she must to defy the odds, and get a spell right for a change.

Gloriously illustrated by North Devon graphic artist Colin Rowe (Corvus Design) this is a story that will charm younger readers, or make a perfect bedtime story for ages 4-7.

We are crowdfunding to cover the cost of printing and need to raise at least £1,000 Here’s the link to the Kickstarter project. It finishes on the 8th of October, and every pledge and share will help.

 

 

For Cats’ Eyes Only – Preview

Launching soon

UPDATE, For Cats’ Eyes Only launched at Ilfracombe Library on the 19th of July. You can buy the paperback HERE

If you prefer to get the Kindle edition it is HERE for the UK version, and HERE for the rest of the world

For Cats’ Eyes Only was commissioned to coincide with this year’s Big Summer Reading Challenge 2017 (n.b. it is NOT an official BSRC book)

If you are aged 4 – 11 yrs and live in Ilfracombe, you can get a FREE copy just by coming along to Ilfracombe library and signing up for the challenge on Wednesday 19th July

Otherwise, you can still get a copy shortly after that date from all good bookshops, as well as online here or on Amazon.

Young readers in Devon can also come along to their local library and meet the author, as well as do a fun craft session related to the book. See here for confirmed dates. If your local library isn’t on the list, then be sure to ask them why not.

Here’s a sneak preview of the prologue of the book.

Prologue

The End … Or is it?

“Not one more step, Swifty!”

Special Agent Felix Whiter sighted down the barrel of his Buckthorn and Beech .22 pistol at the tortoise, who had thought he was getting away. Swifty knew he could hide in his shell but, either way, there was no escape this time.

“Felix! I wish I could say I’ve been expecting you but, alas, it seems you have the upper hand.”

“Did you really think you could get away with it, Swifty?”

“Well, I guess I didn’t expect that you would be assigned to the investigation. You’re a cool cat, I’ll give you that.”

“My team are already rounding up your minions, and the lettuces are safely back in our warehouse. Now I just have to bring you in to make this a purrfect day.”

As the secret agent spoke, Swifty looked past him with a worried expression.

“I’m not falling for that old trick, Swifty. There’s nothing behind me.”

“Wanna bet?”

Felix swung round and sure enough, a little girl was coming towards them across the grass. She must have seen everything. Desperately he tried to hide the gun behind his back and dropped down onto all fours, purring and flicking his tail, but it was no use. He’d been caught.

The little girl looked at the cat, and then at the tortoise which was trying to look innocent and slowly sidling away towards a large oak stump.

“Did I just see you talking to that tortoise, puss-cat?” the little girl asked.

“Meow?”

“It’s no use pretending, I know I saw you standing up and pointing a stick at the tortoise, and you’re wearing clothes, and you were definitely talking, although I didn’t hear what you were saying.”

“Purr?”

Felix stalked over to the little girl and rubbed hard against her legs with his sides, purring and meowing for all he was worth.

‘Just a few minutes of this and she’s going to forget all about it,’ thought Felix.

Sure enough, the girl began to doubt herself. “I must have imagined it,” she said to herself as she scratched behind the cat’s ears. “I suppose some people do like to dress their cats in clothes as well,” she added.

At that moment, the cat turned its head to look at the point where the tortoise had been, only moments before. It was nowhere to be seen.

‘Drat!’ Felix thought.

Women of the Wise Oak artwork progress update

First pencil sketch

I posted about it earlier, but I’ll just add the first sketch here as well to complete the story.

Preliminary Sketch for “Women of the Wise Oak” cover design.

I’ve just had the latest progress update from Iver Klingenberg who is painting the cover art for Women of the Wise Oak and I have to say, it is going to be absolutely breathtaking.

It features a golden eagle flying over an alpine lake, and Iver is particularly adept at painting water. I don’t know whether to share the half finished painting with you or not. Will it spoil the surprise of seeing the fully finished artwork? Would anyone like to see it? Does anyone even care?

Leave a comment, and if we get enough (let’s say five) then I will post it here. If not then I will send an image to the few who want to see it via email.

Update 27/5/17

O.K. so, we only managed three comments. I guess, that is actually pretty good going for a small and not yet widely followed blog.

Here’s the work in progress. FANFARE!

Isn’t that lush? Can’t wait to see the finished thing.

Finished painting reveal.

Well, I have got a photograph of the finished painting now from Iver Klingenberg and, yes, it is every bit as amazing as I expected it to be.

So, d’ya wanna see it? Do ya? Do ya?

I know you do.

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Scroll down …

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Cover artwork for “Women of the Wise Oak” by Iver Klingenberg.

Sneak peek at a snippet of For Cats Eyes Only

Felix Whiter is a suave, sophisticated, cat detective who works for the Animal Intelligence Service (A.I.S.) and every top detective needs a crack team of dedicated professional experts around him. IT, forensics, gadgets, disguises, and … receptionists.

Olli the Owl’s heart may well be in the right place, but his mind is … well, seemingly elsewhere.

Artwork by Amii James. Olli Tooley would like to make it clear that Olli the Owl is NOT based on him.

Artist Selected to Illustrate New Children’s Book For Cats’ Eyes Only

The story so far

  • I got a call from Cathy Newton of Ilfracombe Library asking me to attend a meeting at the home of local philanthropist and benefactor David Tubby. (see his excellent blog on our small but beautiful town).
  • Cathy asked me if I would be willing to write a book especially for the Big Summer Reading Challenge using this year’s theme “Animal Agents”
  • I said yes and we bandied about a number of ideas for the book within minutes. David was persuaded to assist the library with financing the launch of the event and I went off to get writing.
  • Before I got very far, I decided to do some market research among the target audience. My daughter’s form teacher at Ilfracombe Junior School was happy to oblige and I got back nearly thirty filled out questionnaires which helped me to write a well targeted book. (It’s mostly terrible puns, fart jokes, and silliness). The title is “For Cats’ Eyes Only”
  • It took less than a week to write the first draft. A little longer to get beta readers to feed-back and make a few adjustments, and another week for editing. But without illustrations it would miss the needs of the target audience. 6-8 year olds.
  • So the search for an artist began, with many expressing an interest but none fulfilling all the requirements. The money available for this is not huge, because it is an unknown author (me) and a very small publisher (Blue Poppy) and we just can’t pay, up front, the sort of money professional artists demand and deserve.
  • Then a friend suggested I should try the art department of Ilfracombe Academy. I smacked my hand against my head and dashed off an email a.s.a.p. The reply from Mr Lawton was positive and we arranged an opportunity to visit the school and present the brief to a group of young art students.
  • Then last Thursday I saw the submissions. It goes without saying that all of them were excellent, but (much to my relief) one was outstanding and the decision was relatively easy to make.

Watch this space, or keep an eye on the North Devon Gazette for the announcement of the successful artist who is a young student who dared to dream of illustrating children’s books once she had finished her studies. 

New author reveal

Welcome to Blue Poppy Publishing, Joni Dee
Author of “And The Wolf Shall Dwell”

It really is pretty mind-blowing the speed with which Blue Poppy has grown in less than a year. OK, look, it’s not going to threaten Penguin any time soon, but we have now got three confirmed authors all publishing books this year.

The latest author to the fold is Joni Dee, whose thriller “And The Wolf Shall Dwell” already looks set to outsell Oliver J Tooley on launch based on pre-orders alone.

That said, we want to give more people the chance to get a pre-order in before the launch date which has not be set yet. To that end, please check out his website jondbooks.com/ and sign up for updates.