When asked a few months ago if I’d give a talk to a local group about writing and working in the world of television, of course I said yes.
At the time February seemed a long way off and then – after the rainiest winter anyone can remember – the date for the talk loomed large.
Rather than spout on for thirty or so minutes, I decided that a better option would be for someone to interview me and then we’d open up a question and answer session. That way it would feel more like a casual chat and hopefully create a more relaxed discussion afterwards.
Enter Julia, (the person who first suggested the talk), and she turned out to be good interviewer with yours truly providing her with the questions/prompts.
Given the lousy weather, there was a decent turn out with the opportunity to show potential readers copies of the books and to hear all about their reading habits.
Lots of them told me that they still preferred a physical book to a Kindle copy and they mixed and matched genres – everything from crime, to family sagas, romances and biographies. As this was a Cornish based group, they also liked the idea of stories set in the Cornwall and we know that visitors do too.
Which brings me to my latest idea to get out some ‘old school’ book leaflets to shops, pubs, restaurants, hotels and other venues where tourists will flock over the coming months. Of course social media is important but there is still a place for information leaflets to target potential readers while they are out and about.
Meantime, copies of the books are going into a few local stores and beyond. It gives people the chance to flick through before they buy and to get a better feel for the product.
So lots of dropping off book flyers and I’ll be carrying a stash around wherever we go. If nothing else, a good excuse for a bigger and better tote bag!
Before handing over to Bonnie dog, a quick word about the new glass panelled stairway. After a couple of months, it is still looking great and no sign yet of Bonnie’s nose art – probably too cold to touch during the chilly winter time but will be a cool delight in the spring and summer. Let the battle commence.
Now for that quick update from madam herself…
‘Hey folks, why am I being squeezed into the tail end of the blog again – wasn’t this supposed to be MY very own dog spot? (Grrr).
It’ll have to do for now but trust me, I’ll be grabbing back the main stage again soon.
I’ve just had another big hair cut, so feeling the chill. The rents keep saying that I look like a sheared sheep, whatever that is. I’ve even heard the expression ‘lollipop head’ and don’t have a clue what that means either. Still, it’s already starting to grow back and I’m rocking my smart red outdoors jacket – it’s waterproof which is just as well in this yuk wet weather.
This gal doesn’t do rain. I mean, what’s the point of living by the beach if it’s too wet and windy to run about? Nah, I need some sun, dry sand and a lovely bit of heat.
Is anyone listening out there? Here’s my cosmic order – come on, let’s be having some S-U-N-S-H-I-N-E matey.
Enough to lounge on the balcony, demand crushed ice and press the nose against that new glass on the stairs.
Yes, in the battle of the nose art, you just know who’ll win the day and it ain’t those rents of mine.
Woof and out…’
A few words from me this time before handing back over to Bonnie the dog blogger…
We recently had a note slipped through our letter box saying that we’d been short listed for a ‘Marazion In Bloom’ award. There had been no entry made from us, so after making some inquiries we found out that yes, we were on the list and that there was to be a presentation evening at the local ‘Cutty Sark’ pub and restaurant.
It had been a busy few days in the run up to the event and it was a bit hit and miss as to whether we would get there,
In the end we did go along, and I’m so glad we made the effort. The room was packed out and only expecting to get a commendation, we were genuinely gob-smacked when we won the ‘buildings with gardens’ category. It seems that our flower boat and matching garden beach hut style shed caught the eyes of the judges, alongside a public display of sunflowers and pots at the side of our house. (We’re on a corner plot so decided to make a bit of an effort this year for passers by to enjoy).
To be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to these sorts of awards but they do acknowledge people who put in the effort to make public spaces more welcoming, cheerful and colourful. Lots of people have commented on our flower boat and shed as they pass by the house and some have even taken photographs. During the presentation evening we heard about the many people in our town who do their bit to make it look even more lovely and welcoming to the thousands of visitors who arrive all year around, especially in the busiest summer months.
It got me thinking about what it means to be a part of a community and the little but ultimately big things that together create a sense of belonging. Since we’ve been living here, the Marazion Christmas lights have got bigger and better and that’s all down to the volunteers who raise the funds and make it happen. Every summer there is a fantastic Carnival and again the volunteer organisers do brilliant work.
We’re delighted by our unexpected garden accolade and of course we’ll be doing it all again next year. In a world where things can sometimes seem frightening and depressing, these ‘little big things’ that make up community spirit can help us remember that it’s not all doom and gloom.
So thanks for the acknowledgement and here’s a couple of pics to show you before handing back to Bonnie dog….
‘ Hiya folks,
Me again and guess what?
Been enjoying having some workmen stomping around the place. My favourite spot on the stairs has been out of bounds for a few days while the carpenter has replaced the rails and wooden upright posts which will soon get some glass panels put inside. Should look great and I’ve been warned already not to get my ‘nose art’ on the glass.
We’ll see about that!
Then there’s the swanky new stair carpet to go with it and do you know what? It is pretty much the same colour as me. I say ‘champagne blonde’ but the carpet fitters say ‘Panama sand’. Whatever, I’d better be careful about hanging around there too much or I just might get trodden on.
I’m looking forward to Christmas already and there’ll be plenty of people popping by. It also means more treats and trips to my favourite pubs. (You’ll know from my calendar that this girl loves a good Cornish pub).
Meantime, I’m testing out that new stair carpet and will be ready to press my nose up to that glass when it arrives.
Come on, you know the score. Tell a mutt like me not to do something and it will do exactly the opposite.
Those rents of mine should have learned that by now.
Woof and out…’
Hi from Bonnie the very Cornish cockapoo…
This time around I’m going to dedicate the blog to my late friend and regular minder, Leda.
I first met the lovely Leda in July 2015, when my rents were looking for somewhere for me to stay while they were away. (I know – how can they bear to leave me? That’s another story).
Leda had always loved dogs but after her own much loved spaniel died, she didn’t want to take on a full time dog again. Enter little ol’ me, all bushy tailed and happy to play the role of a part-time mutt.
Let’s just say we hit it off from the start. Leda adored long walks and there was a fabulous beach right on her doorstep. She also loved to teach me tricks, like balancing a chocolate drop on my nose and retrieving a hidden slipper. ‘Seek it out!’ she’d yell, while I tried to find out where she’d put the damn thing.
I got to do stuff at Leda’s that wasn’t allowed at home. For a start, she would let me have breakfast sitting on her bed while she listened to her Italian language tapes and I swear I picked up a bit of Italian as I munched away. ‘Bellissimo Bonnie’ she’d always say.
She put on a birthday party when I turned two, with cake and wine for the rents and delicious doggy treats for yours truly.
She even gave a BBC radio interview about me and was proud as punch when I passed the tests to be a ‘Pets As Therapy’ dog.
Leda bought me a heated pad for my crate, a giant bean bag to lounge on and matching Cornish tartan leads so I could look smart on our walks.
And boy did we enjoy those walks and runs on the beach. Whatever the weather, we were out there strutting our stuff and having loads of fun.
It wasn’t all exercise though. Leda loved to read, especially when the sun was out and she could take a book out into the garden. I’d sit there guarding, watching out for predators and those pesky rabbits. If anyone came our way, I’d be ready to defend the patch – well send out a warning anyway.
When the rents went off to Bermuda last January for a whole three weeks, me and Leda had the best of times. Log fires, long winter walks and occasional trips to one of my favourite pubs, the Sand Bar in Praa Sands. If I had to be way from my rents, this was definitely the cosiest place to be.
Then something happened last February. Leda had been feeling a bit unwell and had to go into hospital for treatment. She put up a hard fight against the illness but in the end it took her away far too young.
Me and the rents will never forget Leda. Her smile, her playfulness, her generosity and she was the best minder a little dog could ever wish for.
Of course our hearts are broken but we’ll focus on all the good times we had and, as her middle name was ‘Rose’, there will be a rose planted in our garden named after her.
RIP Leda from your little pal and thank you for being the amazing person that you were.
To quote that song at your funeral a few days ago ‘enjoy yourself…it’s later than you think…’
So, remembering all those fantastic times we had, woof and out…
Another post from Bonnie the very Cornish cockapoo…
Back from my big trip to London and didn’t I cope well?
Let’s face it, the city is a bit different from my usual Cornish seaside patch. Hell, I even put up with the long drive down – isn’t the traffic around Knightsbridge just hideous darlings? By the way, that last bit is me putting on my posh city voice.
Still, once there it was straight on to another balcony with a water view. The rents kept cooing over the fantastic views across the Thames and something called Millenium Bridge. Me? Just couldn’t stop looking at the river boats and all those people crossing the bridge.
I was given my own comfy bed to lounge on thanks to the lovely Kevin and Angela who own the apartment. They also treated me to a stash of Waitrose doggy sausages – I was especially taken with the Venison ones. I mean, how pampered can a girl get?
Talking of upmarket, I also got to stay with Kevin and Angela in their gorgeous place on the opposite side of the river. Even more stunning views – their terrace is enormous – and I got to wander around like a celebrity. (Trust me, there are several real celebs connected to that building).
While the rents were off doing their own thing, I went for a stroll with my new best mates to Tower Bridge.
For some reason they wouldn’t let me go into the pubs I fancied the look of – as you know I like a good pub – but it was great to be strutting around the big city.
Yes, think a gal could get used to it, even though I love a beach. What I really need is the best of both and take it from me, this Cornish mutt will be happy to hit those city lights again.
No sooner got back to my seaside patch, when it was time for the rents to give a talk about little ol’ me and my work as a visiting ‘Pets As Therapy’ (PAT) dog. The room was packed out and I got to meet some lovely people from the St Just Memory Cafe. If I could have given out autographs I’d have done so but instead had to make do with lots of pats.
It must have gone down well because me and the rents have been invited to do some other appearances. At this rate I’ll be getting even more star struck if that’s possible.
Now just remind me again – which is my best side for photos?
Woof and out…
Bonnie the very Cornish cockapoo is back again and what a crazy few weeks it has been!
Lots of people dropping by on their Cornish holidays, garden party planning, little ol’ me featured on the front cover of rent Maggie’s new box set of books. If this wasn’t enough, I’ve been invited to a talk about ‘Pets As Therapy’ (PAT) dog duties.
Well I could go on but you get the idea.
Summer is whizzing by but so far the Cornish weather has been – dare I say it? – a bit of a dogs dinner. One day sunny, the next pouring down and sometimes both on the same day. Yikes – I’ve even had to wear a rain coat when I should be rolling around in the warm sands. Come on, this ain’t good enough and I’m not even down here on holiday.
So I’m putting out a Bonnie cockapoo ‘cosmic order’ for a whole lot more sun. There, have done it and we’ll see if it works.
As for me on the front of the books box set, guess what?
Got masses of ‘likes’ on Instagram – here’s a snapshot of them…
I’ve said it before, us mutts on covers get a fantastic response.
It’s not quite a first doggy modelling assignment – ahem, a little reminder that I do have my own favourite west Cornish pubs calendar – but judging from the latest Instagram response, I think there’s scope for a whole lot more. Just saying.
Not really sure what I’m expected to do at the PAT dog talk. I’m guessing that the rents will do the chit-chat bit with me in charge of the ‘meeting and greeting’. There’ll probably want more photos but let’s face it, I’m getting used to that. Just have to make sure that this gal is camera ready for her close up.
Hey ho, it’s fun being a mini celebrity and there’s no complaints on that front.
The rents keep saying that I get treated better than them in the local pubs and restaurants and that’s true. They do know how to roll out the red carpet for us mutts in this part of the country. Bowls of water and free snacks are available in loads of places. One pub even offered up some scrummy left over beef from the Sunday roast menu, while the rents had to make do with a few tired looking Yorkshire puds.
Yeah – the priorities are bang on here. Now give me that order for more sun and it will be a Cornish paradise. Just get on with it though, cos we’re losing patience here.
Woof and out….
First a short message from Bonnie the very Cornish cockapoo…
‘Ahem folks, I know I’m supposed to be the doggy star of the blog but this time rent Maggie is grabbing back the slot. So here is a quick piccy of me to be going on with and trust me, I’ll be back!’
So over to me, to tell you all about the Dublin Writers Conference, a bizarre coincidence, and meeting my namesake cousin for the first time.
Starting with the conference. It was my first experience of this type of writer event and I wasn’t sure what to expect. As a journalist and television producer, I’ve covered lots of professional gatherings – everything from probation workers, doctors, police, child care workers – but attending as a participant, (rather than detached observer), is a completely different experience.
There were great opportunities to pair up with writers in our own book categories – mine being crime mystery and family saga – and my chosen writer ‘buddy’ was Norah Deay. We hit it off straight away and were both left stunned by a truly amazing coincidence but I’ll keep you waiting for a short while on that one.
My aim was to learn more about book marketing, what works and doesn’t work, straight from the mouths of other writers. I wanted hear about what they had tried, tested, developed and discarded. In other words the ‘who, what, why, when and where?’ of book visibility tactics in a fiendishly crowded market.
On that score the Dublin conference didn’t disappoint.
All the speakers I heard were informative, sharing their highs as well as the inevitable lows. Best selling Irish author, Patricia Gibney, described her own journey from taking up writing after the death of her husband, to the trials and tribulations of finding a publisher. Then several years down the line, the holy grail of top spots in the UK/US Amazon crime fiction listings.
The message? Be persistent, be patient, be prepared to rewrite and fine tune. Far from feeling discouraged, I actually came away feeling energised and upbeat.
It was reassuring to know that there are some things I’m doing right – blog, Twitter, Facebook etc – but it all needs to be done much smarter and in a more disciplined way.
In other words, as a writer you have to put in the regular hours on social media, hold book events, give talks wherever you can. While there is no magic bullet, the old saying that ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’ seems to apply to those authors who have punched through on book sales.
Like any business, you have to speculate to accumulate, spend on marketing and get additional help where it is needed. Along the way, I met some great fellow writers – to name but a few: journalist Nick Rippington, Allie Marie, Ray Ronan and of course the indefatigable Norah Deay.
And speaking of Norah, here’s that heart stopping coincidence I spoke about. We were paired together because our books were in a similiar story category, yet when we got talking we realised that the central theme of my ‘Dilemma Novella’ trilogy – adoption and reunion – actually mirrors Norah’s own life. She too has experienced a family adoption and is hoping for a reunion. What are the odds of that happening in a pairing of two writers? We are certainly going to stay in touch as we see how her real life quest turns out and on that score we both agreed that we were meant to meet up.
Would I recommend the Dublin Writers Conference? Absolutely. Meantime, I’ll be setting a realistic budget while trying to get that elusive bang for my ‘books’ – all the time keeping a beady journalistic eye on the results and of course, blogging about the journey.
After all the writer talk, there was still a little time left to do a bit of city exploration and to look up some relatives.
On that note, I met my namesake cousin ‘Mags’ Fogarty, (married name Moore), and we talked for Ireland. Isn’t it funny how you can meet a relative for the first time and the connection is already there – hardwired in the family DNA? So here is a pic of my namesake and by the way, another theme explored in my novel ‘My Bermuda Namesakes’.
Isn’t life darn well eerie sometimes?