Sunday, 18 June 2017

Half a century old

Last week, I was fifty.

I wasn't bothered by it - age is just a number, after all - but it was a funny old day.

For a start, I had hormones. Yes, I know we all have them, but at a certain time in a lady's life, we get even more of the little blighters. So a fair chunk of my birthday was spent tearful and emotional, which made everyone think I was upset about the big 5-0, when it was simply my body choosing the worst possible moment for an outbreak of hormonal angst.

Secondly, it's exam season here and both Squidgelings are in the thick of it, so no huge celebratory get-togethers planned for the sake of revision. Squidgeling T had an exam in the morning, so all presents were delayed until he got home just before lunch. In the meantime I went shopping, made a couple of appointments, and opened some cards.

I had suggested that it would be perfectly okay for folks not to buy me anything, because I am very blessed and didn't need anything. But, as is the way, I was treated to lots of goodies from various friends and family who decided to spoil me on my 'big' birthday;


Basket of rainbow flowers, supplied by the lovely
Madeline's Gifts and Flowers

Gardening featured...and yes, that is a basket of chocolate frogs

Of course there were books...to read and to write in

New cycling gloves after the old ones perished (only lasted me twenty seven years)
a personalised bracelet with my name - spelled correctly!
rainbow mat, and my super startled sheep.

Other presents arrived over the course of the day - a writer's toolkit, a hamper from our financial consultant, potful of cornflowers, a pottery heart, beautifully scented lavender and bay candle, and a 'vintage' t-shirt which states '1967 - all original parts' on the front!

Family Squidge went out for lunch at The Griffin Inn, Swithland. I don't usually take pictures of my food, but I ate the best lamb dish I have ever tasted. I swear there was half a sheep on my plate... Lunch was definitely the highlight of my day. So nice to spend time with my family, eating good food and having a laugh in lovely surroundings.

Birthday drinks - the wine glass isn't really THAT ginormous!

Half a rather delicious lamb...

Family Squidge

All told, it was a pretty low key day, really. I don't feel any different - in fact I feel a lot better than I did, because the hormones have made themselves scarce for the moment! - I don't look any different, (I'm already grey!) and life isn't any different to what it was before.

Except that I'm fifty.

Or - as one person put it - twenty five for the second time.

Hey ho. Here's to my Fabulous Fifties, and whatever comes next.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Supporting Stories for Homes 2

Just to say that my short story - Potato Soup - written in support of the second Stories for Homes anthology (due to be published later this year) is now LIVE on the SfH website.

Follow this link to find it with the rest of the online anthology. There will be more to follow in time...

If it makes you feel all homey and warm, why not try making your own potato soup? There's a good recipe here, on BBC Food.

Picture from the recipe on the BBC site.

And please, support Shelter too, the housing and homelessness charity who are the reason SfH came into being...




Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Giveaway of Kingstone

If you haven't already ordered a copy of Kingstone, then how's about entering the goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of three signed copies?

Just follow the link...




Goodreads Book Giveaway


Kingstone by Katherine Hetzel

Kingstone

by Katherine Hetzel


Giveaway ends June 14, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter Giveaway

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Aaaand...Publish!

Happy Publication Day to you,
Happy Publication Day to you,
Happy Publication Day, dear Kiiiingstoooone
Happy Publication Day to you!





Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Reunited... and a blast from the past

Yesterday, I met up with some friends from my schooldays, who I had not seen since I was eighteen.

That was thirty two years ago. Eeek!

We had a great time catching up with each others' lives and reminiscing about our time at Limehurst High School and Burleigh Community College. And we're going to have to do it all again soon, as one of our little group had to cancel at the last minute because of poorly offspring.

The best thing about meeting up after so long was that I was forced to look through my keepsake boxes for photos and momentos from that time; my mum always carefully clipped articles out of the local rag if we were in them, and saved programmes from school events, reports etc etc.

Here's a newspaper cutting of the Limehurst Award winners of 1981...


I'm the one on the front row with her head helpfully circled (!); Muninder is on the second row, directly over my right shoulder; Helen is on the far right of the second row, and Penny is on the third row back, fourth in from the left.

We sat trying to put names to faces on this picture - I can remember a lot of them, but not all...Reman, Sally, Adrienne, Elizabeth, Pauline, Stephanie, Michelle, Lyn, another Helen, Bridget...

Helen and I were both at primary school together too, as demonstrated in this rather wonderful pic from a school production, where we were beggars. (We worked out it wasn't the one where we sang Beatles' songs, but I cannot for the life of me remember what this one was about!)



Back row (L to R): Tracey, Deborah, Mark, Samantha, Anne
Front row (L to R): Helen, Helen, yours truly and Alex

Then there was this one. 



I can only assume it was a music group or choir-y photo, because some of the folks have recorders. Goodness only knows why I was pulling the face I am... third in from the right on the front row (again). Helen's third in from the left on the same row. This one also has lots of my neighbours and friends too - Marianne, Rebecca, Catharine, Steve, Elizabeth, Mark. Wonder where they all are now?

There's also a rather fetching pic of me in a wimple, singing. I seem to recall I had to sing Greensleeves in the local park. Heaven alone knows why.



Anyway... You know I mentioned Mum kept all our school reports? I found my Holywell junior ones (that's Y3-6 in modern terms) and had a laugh over what the teachers had written - especially about my creative writing. Take a look...

1975:

'Her creative writing is imaginative and carefully expressed with colourful descriptions and good vocabulary.'

'Katherine works hard but fairly slowly.' (in Maths)

'She works hard and responds well in PE and seems to enjoy herself.'

1976:

'Her spelling and vocabulary are extremely good. She puts these to good use in her creative writing, which is always lively and interesting, and sustained at length.' (Teacher speak for 'she doesn't half go on!?)

'Katherine has a very fine singing voice, and a good sense of rhythm, and thoroughly enjoys music.'

1977:

'Creative English has been outstanding...She is able to express feelings and details and shows a sympathy for her characters. She writes lengthy stories...and her work is most enjoyable to read.'

'PE is more difficult for her. She is slight and has no great strength, but she does well in gymnastics. Games lessons she does not enjoy.' (I hated PE with a vengeance!)

'She enjoys making dramatic statements which produce a howl of protest from the class and enjoys tantalising them with some of the roles she assumes!' (I honestly have no idea what on earth I used to do to deserve this!)

1978:

'Katherine has worked carefully and methodically, if a little slowly, at Mathematics...'

'In her creative English work, Katherine is highly imaginative...Her stories are lengthy and follow a well developed plot. The excitement generated by the dialogue and the action shows that Katherine derives much pleasure from writing her stories...Her extensive vocabulary reflects her love of words and the depth of her reading.'

'She sang and danced with energy and flair in the Christmas play.' (Wonder if that was the wizard and beggar one?)

'...always works to the best of her limited ability in PE and games.'


It made me laugh that, all the way through, maths is slow and methodical. Still is, if I'm honest.  Music and drama feature a fair bit - I loved performing. PE certainly went downhill over the four years, though - I remember taking part in the Five Star Awards, scraping a one star award in my third year and being so terrible in the fourth year, I didn't even get that. On Sports Day, I was always the egg-and-spooner or sack race candidate...

But in writing - my word. I would be extremely pleased to get this kind of feedback now! I hadn't realised that I was considered quite so good at writing back then. I remember enjoying it, and using my imagination, but good? It seems a shame that I lost all of that excitement and skill during my further studies and working life and only rediscovered - and to some extent, re-learned - the love of reading and writing when my own children came along.

But thank goodness I did. Belated thanks to Miss Cartlidge, Mrs Johnson, Mrs Bennett and Mrs Creasey for their kind words back then. I wonder if, when they read my 'lengthy stories' all thoses years ago, they had any idea that one day, I'd be a published author?

I'm off to look for some of my Limehurst and Burleigh reports now, see whether the trends in certain subjects continued!

Friday, 26 May 2017

A bit of unexpected promotion

It's always nice to know that there's some promotion of your books which you didn't expect...

I've had a couple of people in the last week tell me they've had emails from Amazon about the publication of Kingstone.

My dad was the first - he phoned me up specially, to tell me he'd had the email and he'd looked me up on Amazon's site. Sure enough, there was Kingstone. And the other evening, a friend asked whether I'd got a new book coming out, because she'd had an email too...

So thank you, Amazon. Let's hope that those who bought StarMark and enjoyed it will also take a punt on Kingstone...

One of the questions I've been asked quite a lot is whether Kingstone is a follow-on from StarMark? No, they are both stand-alone titles, ie complete stories in their own right. There may be potential in both to write more in these worlds, but I enjoy writing complete stories rather than series at the moment.

If you don't like to purchase via the Big A, there are other places stocking the book: Wordery, Barnes and Noble, Blackwells, and Waterstones will order if you ask. If you don't own a kindle, you can get the ebook via Kobo.

Let me know when your copy arrives...and even better, let me - and other people - know what you think of the story!



Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The day no-one came

Remember I said I was doing a talk about being an author for the Nanpantan Festival? It was today.

I was all set. Books to sell alongside other craft items; a display of publications; speaking podium, props, and presentation all lined up ready to go...



...and no-one came.

Well, actually there were five of us at church; two ladies to serve lunches, a welcomer, the festival organiser, and me. But no-one came to hear the talk.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting a massive audience.

But not a single person?

Perhaps it was the weather. It has been torrential rain all day here and I don't blame folks for not wanting to go out unless they absolutely had to.

Perhaps it was because it was lunchtime, rather than the evening. Folks do have to work. And eat.

Perhaps people simply weren't interested? Although five minutes before I left the house, I had a phone call asking for an author talk, so maybe they are.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed - of course I am.

But I'm not about to let a no-show audience knock my confidence. The years of critique and feedback and rejection have thickened my skin so that I don't take things like this personally any more. Instead, I'm philosophical. I now have an author talk - with slides and notes - all prepared and ready for when it's needed.

I'm stronger than this setback.

And I'm going to spend this evening writing.

So there.