Feeling Tier-ful

Actually, I’m not (‘feeling tier-ful’), I just liked the pun-tastic title. And for your information, we will be going into Tier 2 on 2nd December, thank you very much. How about you?

The Good

Last night, I took part in one of the writing ‘masterclasses’ that the Kate Nash Literary Agency is putting on for us Bookcamp Mentees. This one was about character and very good it was too (courtesy of Kate Nash author Jane Lovering).

One of the questions Jane was asked (not by me, I hasten to add: I was lurking. Wet hair from the shower and no make-up. Nope, I wasn’t going to put that head above the parapet!).. where was I? Oh yes, one of the questions Jane was asked, was about getting the voices of your characters right, when you’re writing historical fiction.

Jane’s advice was to go to original source material for inspiration. Specifically: letters!

Well, a little warm glow and a feeling of smugness swept over me (or perhaps that was the rosé wine kicking in) BECAUSE, through a recent serendipitous meeting – and socially-distanced chat – with a woman in the village that I know through dog-walking, I have a stack of letters, written by her mother, to her father, during WW2, when they were courting (and he was in the RAF). Full of lovely dialogue from the time that I’m writing about. Perfect!

The Bad

My (new! NEW!) laptop died again this morning and my OH has spent half the day trying to fix it which put him in a VERY bad mood (and he’s never in a bad mood). Finally, it’s kind-of-fixed but I now have no sound or microphone. First World problems, I know but still very annoying.

The Ugly

Serves me right for gloating about my wonderful soup-maker: today I made a DISGUSTING soup.

I couldn’t access t’internet, due to computer failure, so I kind of made it up… it was supposed to be ‘Carrot & Apple’ but I think I added too many apples (one would have been enough) and.. this is the terrible bit… the only onion we had was a red onion, which I thought would be fine but of course, as you know (I can see you, shaking your head), red onions are quite sweet.. so, what with the extra apple and the sweet onion, I felt like I was eating a bowlful of apricot jam. I kid you not. Horrible. Thrown away. The only disaster (so far) in the soup maker but a shock to the system, I can tell you.

Tomorrow I have my on-line meeting with my agent to discuss The First Draft. I am feeling horribly nervous…! I will report back, anon.

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14 Responses to Feeling Tier-ful

  1. Wendy Clarke says:

    Good luck with that ‘first draft’ meeting, Helen. Sorry I haven’t been commenting much recently but be assured I do read all your blog posts (just usually a while after) x

    • Thanks Wendy. No problem, I know you’re busy. I’m sure (I hope!!) there are quite a few people who read the posts but don’t comment and I understand the reasons for that. Hope you’re keeping well x

  2. Echoing what Wendy said! I always read what you write, but modern disease – take note of info but no comment and move on. Even in these weird times (and yes, will be Tier 2), time seems to rush past. Counter-intuitive, that. Thanks for blogging.

    • Thanks Jacqueline! I am the same, so I understand. I often read stuff and don’t respond. Doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed it or go something from it, but we’re all in a mad rush these days, aren’t we?

  3. Maria says:

    Ah soup makers are great aren’t they – Yesterday, I made Leek and Potato, which is my current favourite.
    We’re in Tier 3 here and I’m trying not to think about it. It’s depressing, we seem stuck here in Leicestershire. No matter what happens we’re in lockdown. The people of Leicester are mostly good folk, sticking to the rules. However, we seem to have a minority who aren’t adhering to the rules.

    Very best wishes with the ‘First Draft’ meeting.

    • Hi Maria, yes I agree, you’ve had a tough time of it in Leicester. My colleague on the Evesham Festival of Words steering group lives just outside Leicester and she’s reminded us, several times (by email – we haven’t actually been meeting, of course) that in Leicester you’ve never really come out of lockdown. Let’s hope things improve after Christmas, eh? (Who’d have thought we’d be saying THAT, back in March?). Leek and Potato soup sounds perfect for this chilly weather. Once I’m brave enough, I will go Back to The Soup-Maker!

  4. philippabowe says:

    Thanks for a lovely, cheerful (despite the “tiers”!) message Helen. A good reminder about original source material (I’ve read lots of texts written in the 1920s ,and ’30s for my novel) – and I love an excuse to do more research. 🙂 How wonderful that you have access to those letters!
    We’re locked down here in France until 15th December (if the figures keep dropping) when we then just have a curfew (aside from the 24th and 31st December – when most of the country will socialise and party and the figures will no doubt shoot back up again!).
    And I empathise about your soup – I made a really pretty horrid cake recently, so bummed. I did make a lovely spinach, broccoli and coconut soup yesterday tho’. 😉
    P.x

    • Hi Philippa, good to hear from you over there in La Belle France. It’s weird to think the whole of Europe (as well as a lot of the rest of the world, of course) is going through the same lockdown stuff. I keep thinking we’ll all wake up one day and find it’s all just been a terrible nightmare (I wish). Anyway, peckers up, as they say – this too will pass. Your spinach, broccoli and coconut soup sounds gorgeous!

      • philippabowe says:

        Yes it will pass – as the old Arab proverb says (which came up last night in the novel I’m reading): “The dogs bark but the caravan moves on.” It’s such an evocative proverb, I can really see a desert setting – I feel a flash story coming on! 😉

      • Yes, that’s a great proverb. I can see the desert setting too! Get on with that flash…!

  5. juliathorley says:

    I once made a lentil soup that tasted – and felt – as though I had somehow liquidised a dishcloth into the mix. These days, I’m happy to leave all the cooking to Mr Thorley.

    • Glad it’s not just me, Julia! My OH is pretty good at rustling up an evening meal, I have to admit (otherwise, he knows, we probably won’t eat!) but he tends to ‘oven’ stuff rather than actually cook from scratch. Have never let him get his hands on my soup-maker – yet!

  6. Eirin Thompson says:

    Exciting times with the novel, Helen! I hope you enjoy every minute. The stash of letters sounds like pure treasure – how very lucky. Commiserations on the computer front – the frustration of technological problems is quite beyond anything posed by an actual person, to whom pleading might just be effective; malfunctioning computers are heartless.

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