Wednesday, 13 April 2016

An Iron Yoke is launched

I didn't count heads - too busy!- but I believe 50 or 60 people came to help celebrate the launch of An Iron Yoke. We had a great evening, pink fizzy and other good things were consumed, and I sold all the copies I had, as well as a few of my older books.I felt immensely blessed by the support and loyalty of such good friends.



Wednesday, 9 March 2016

FANFARE, PLEASE!

I'm very pleased to announce the arrival of my novel no. 5, An Iron Yoke. Here's the cover:




It's in a similar genre to my others - realistic British Christian fiction. But this one departs a bit from what I have done before, as it has a murder in it. I say no more.  It's already out there, available on Amazon, and garnering reviews. 
I like to think my work is realistic, contemporary, with recognisable and believable characters and riveting plots. What it doesn't have is on-page sex, violence or swearing. I leave these things to the imagination of my readers. Less is more.


Sunday, 6 March 2016

Mothering Sunday

One of my favourite photos of my mum, taken at her 95th birthday party a few weeks before she died: wonderfully typical, almost spilling her tea and cake, but with a beaming smile.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The saga of the owls: the final chapter...possibly


The roof is done on our house in France, and all that remained was to cap the chimney - open for four years because of the resident owl, who this year raised two offspring in a bedroom fireplace. All this, as well as our efforts to provide the owl with an alternative nesting-place, has been reported in previous posts on this blog. We counted it a success that the two young ones grew and thrived and eventually left their unusual home and flew away to find their own hunting-ranges. There remained the problem of the adult owl. The open chimney meant that rain water came in, and we wanted to avoid another year of hosting nestlings, when there are so many other places to live and breed undisturbed in our ramshackle outbuildings. So we asked our builders to find some time to come and close the chimney off, and we provided ourselves with long rods to persuade the owl (gently) to depart.
One young man arrived with new chimney-pots and buckets of cement, and up two ladders he went, scaling our steeply-pitched roof and leaning precariously across our very high chimney, many feet from the ground. He flashed our torch down into the darkness, and reported that the owl was in residence. But the rods proved useless - the owl retreated down the other side of the chimney (the side where our own fire is) and was lost to view.
What to do? The last thing I wanted was to incarcerate the owl. But I also had no wish to lose this precious opportunity (our builder's a busy chap.) So we formulated a plan, took a deep breath, and told the young man to go ahead - having established that there was a big enough space at the top of the chimney's inner dividing wall for the owl to escape.
It was a fine, sunny, unseasonably warm November afternoon. The young man had the job done in a couple of hours while the light lasted. Where was the owl meanwhile? Had he flown away while we weren't looking? Or was he lurking inside the now-dark chimney, wondering what the heck was going on?
As it started to get dark that evening, about six o'clock, I took the cover off the bedroom fireplace and opened the window. Then I planted myself on a rather uncomfortable tree-stump a short distance up the garden, and as the light faded fixed my eyes on the dimming rectangle of the open bedroom window. Would the owl take his chance?
We have a colony of bats in one of our our outbuildings, and one by one they started to circle round. Our experience over the summer led me to expect that the owl would soon be hunting. I waited. I heard some tiny scratching sounds, but I wasn't absolutely sure where they were coming from. By this time it was almost dark. I could barely see the window, and the house was a grey smudge against the sky.
I didn't see him emerge, but suddenly, there he was - flying over my head, silhouetted against the darkening sky, unmistakable on those great silent wings, up over the garden and away towards the maize fields : homeless, but free.
Even though we have evicted him from the house, I hope he comes back -
perhaps to roost somewhere in our outbuildings, or even to raise young in the nest box under the eaves of the old bread-oven. But that's probably a story, if at all, for another year.

Monday, 5 October 2015

A slightly mad birthday present

My husband already plays banjo, trombone, bass trombone. He can also play clarinet, guitar, trumpet, piano. He plays in three bands. Between the three of us currently at home we have a piano, an organ, three banjos, four trombones, a clarinet, a guitar, two ukuleles, assorted recorders, a double bass, two flutes and a trumpet. Why would we want any more instruments?
He's said from time to time, 'I'd love to have a go on one of those'. If he hears one bumping along at the bottom in a band he enthuses about its sound. It's the only instrument I know of that you have to wear. In case you don't know what it is, it's a sousaphone. This is in E flat, on the small side; the B flats are bigger.
I managed to keep this thing a secret for many weeks while it was being put together from disparate parts. I know next to nothing about brass instruments, but had the good fortune to know someone who does, and who himself plays (among other things) the B flat sousaphone.
I had no doubt that my husband would be able to play it, with a bit of practice, but he surprised even me by making perfectly acceptable sounds within minutes. What a clever-clogs.
There were moments when I doubted: Have I done the right thing here? Will he think I've gone quite mad? No musical instrument is cheap.
But as you can see he's smiling as he plays, and most of this evening he's been walking around chuckling (if a trifle bemused.)

Monday, 14 September 2015

My new web site

My new web site www.slrussell.net went live this evening! Please do take a look.


A new book

My writing group The Write Idea has published an anthology of stories and poems: eight contributors with very varying styles. For every book sold there'll be a donation to Ellenor Hospices, helping families coping with terminal illness. We're very excited about our newest venture, which is the result of a lot of hard work, and are looking forward to launching it next month. Copies can be ordered from www.FeedaRead.com.