Tag Archives: My-Barsetshire-Diary

#Music – House of the Rising Sun

The man to blame for my current musical diversion is David Prosser. In his weekly blog he posted a video clip of Richard Harris singing McArthur Park – 7 minutes plus of quite amazing music. The lyrics, in particular, are beautiful, imho.

Anyway, having listened to McArthur Park all the way through once, it occurred to me that I had no idea who composed it [it’s Jim Webb if anyone’s interested]. That led to a detour via Youtube where I happened to see this:

Friends of a certain vintage will remember The House of the Rising Sun. The rest of you will just have to suffer. Either way, don’t blame me, blame David. 😀

cheers

Meeks


Illuminating blogger award

I’m not sure what it is about these awards that turns me into a fumble-fingered ignoramus but I inevitably mess up in some way and today has been no exception. I tried to follow the instructions to the letter and thought I’d succeeded until, shock horror, I realised I’d put my acceptance comment in the wrong award.

So before I do anything else I must apologies to Food Stories Blog for being an idiot. As Bluebottle* would say – “I feel a proper fool.”

Now that I’ve confessed I can move on to step 2 of the instructions. I’d like to thank Lord Daud for nominating me for this award.

David is one of those incredibly generous people who spend a great deal of their time helping others achieve their dreams. His most recent gift of friendship was to email me with a long list of short story competitions. He did this because he knew that I would skin a cat* forever before finding the courage to look for them myself. That gentle, not so subtle nudge pushed me into entering 2080 into not one but two competitions. I don’t expect my first short story to win anything but just entering it was a huge achievement for me and will give me the courage to enter other competitions in the future.

Now, according to step 3 of the instructions I have to reveal one thing about myself. I doubt that anyone will be surprised when I say that I’m a little challenged in the courage department. I’m a miniature tiger when it comes to defending others but I’m a chihuahua when it comes to promoting myself. This is not a good trait in someone thinking about becoming an indie author. All I can say is that I’m working on it. Baby steps so far but I am trying. So thank you David. 🙂

This is my third award and I would really like to say thank you to everyone I’ve met online but I’m limited to nominating just five bloggers. This makes things bloody hard I can tell you. In the end I decided to go with the theme of indies, so now I would like to celebrate bloggers who have shown me that being an indie author can be synonymous with innovation, beautiful prose and a level of quality that puts many traditionally published authors to shame. They’ve inspired me and I’ve loved reading their books. Thank you one and all.

Illuminating Blogger Nominees :

Candy Korman for her innovative fusion of literary monsters and crisp, modern prose.

Lord David Prosser for his gentle humour and wonderful way with words.

Rachel Abbott for her compelling thriller that took the genre to a whole new level.

Stephen Faulds for his beautiful portrayal of love and falling from grace.

M. Edward McNally for creating the kind of fantasy world I would love to live in.

 

*Bluebottle : a favourite character from the 1950’s radio show The Goons.

*Skinning a cat : procrastinating.


Tell me about yourself award

Mary Ann from Mypenandme just left a lovely comment on my blog saying that she had nominated me for the ‘Tell me about yourself’ award. I’m rather stunned because I’m still very new to blogging in general and awards in particular. To me just logging into wordpress and seeing those bright orange numbers up there is an award in itself and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who has ever read anything I’ve ever written, or may write in the future! My special thanks though go to Mary Ann who has talents in the poetry department that I wish I had.

Now, according to the rules of these awards I have to write 7 things about myself that I haven’t revealed before and then I have to nominate 7 other bloggers for the same award. Oh and copy/paste the proudly displayed award into your own blogs! I hope you guys are paying attention because I know I messed up on the instructions when Daud [aka Lord David Prosser] nominated me for my very first award so try to get it right 😉

Ok, here we go. 7 things I haven’t yet revealed.

1. This is a biggie – I’m 59. That is just one year away from the big six-o when I officially leave the ranks of the late middle aged and become a baby oldie.

2. I’ve learned many things over the last 59 years but none of them has made me grow up, not properly. I can pretend to be dignified for about five minutes but after that I tend to revert to my true age which fluctuates between 10 and 35.

3. I used to ride motorbikes in my twenties and I still love them but I lost my nerve years ago. I blame my Kawasaki 400 which was so big I couldn’t put both feet on the ground at the same time, even on tippy toes.

4. I’m short – see 3 above.

5. When I was younger I used to wear 4″ heels to make me look 5’8″. Being short is hell!

6. I’m an absolute softie when it comes to kids and animals. I do however draw the line at spiders. Nothing with 8 legs need apply.

7. I don’t believe in god or in any religion but I do believe in goodness and I venerate life in all its forms. I justify my stance on roast chicken and spiders as hypocrisy with extenuating circumstances.

Phew, that was actually quite hard. Be warned my lovelies!

Now for the easy part – Seven bloggers I nominate for the ‘Tell me about yourself’ award :

–  Jennifer Scoullar.  Jennifer is another aussie but I’m nominating her because she can write like crazy.

The Pink Agendist.  Because this is a man with a big heart. And he can cook!

Courtney Bluebird.  Bluey is not an aussie but she could be 🙂  She is also teaching me about poetry and deserves a medal of valour for that.

Maggie O.  Maggie is funny and kind, she is also funny and loves animals. Oh and did I say she was funny? Well she is 🙂

Alex Laybourne.  Alex writes horror but it’s his understanding of human nature that is his greatest talent.

Caressingthemuse.  Stephanie is a whiz at marketing and shares her knowledge with great generosity. She also has a way with words that makes learning fun.

Sable City.  M. Edward McNally creates worlds I want to visit and has a sense of humour that hits all the right buttons with me.

I have dear friends I haven’t nominated this time around but DaudCandy, Metan, SweetMother, I love you all!


Lord Daud has entered the building!

Lord David Prosser, affectionately known as Lord Daud, is the author of three superb and deliciously funny books set in Barsetshire and I discovered that he is as witty in person as he is in the books.

Wanting to get to know the man behind the books I asked him a number of -cough- insightful -cough- questions. I can’t honestly remember what the first one was but it must have included the term ‘rofl’ because this is what he said :

Lord Daud: “Yes, I’ve met ROFL and a few of it’s cousins, though
it took me a long time to twig that LOL wasn’t Lots of Love.”

ACF: You’ve just answered a question I hadn’t even thought to ask! Clearly your computer knowledge extends well beyond spam but how did you learn gaming terms??

Lord Daud: “I think these terms have gone well beyond gaming now and entered every day life. During a conversation with a Facebook friend he introduced me to the first few of these including ROFL and one or two others. As I asked about the first one he’d come up with another and suggest I tried to translate it. FOCROFLMAO was a late attempt of his and I decided to stop after I’d guessed Fell Off Chair..”

ACF: lol – I had to look that one up myself! While we’re on the subject of computers I’d love to know where the inspiration for the spam responses came from? They made me laugh almost as much as Oscar!

Lord Daud: “I was getting almost daily emails from a psychic telling me she had my lucky numbers and special dates ready as soon as I’d paid my fee. I suggested if she was so confident of her abilities that maybe she could trust me with them up front and I’d forward the fee out of my winnings. For some reason the messages stopped soon after. Like most people I seem to get a lot of unwanted spam and decided humour was the best way to deal with it since frustration got me nowhere.”

ACF: From inspiration to craftsmanship. You seem to write as effortlessly as someone who has been writing all his life. How did you learn your craft and what advice would you give to those of us still asking, ‘are we there yet?’

Lord Daud: “Well, apart from the first four or five formative years I have been writing all my life. Starting quite early with’ Please excuse me for forgetting to include £5.00 in this letter for you but I’d already sealed the envelope before I remembered’.”

“In all honesty I probably went through the same stages as everyone else. Hideous poems when a lovesick youth, to writing references for people I hardly knew, for jobs they couldn’t possibly do, without offending them.”

“I loved my English lessons at school as the teacher (Chalky White) could be relied upon to tell ghost stories if we could get him in the right mood.”

“When I retired I had a bit of fun when someone asked me about my day and I responded as a diary entry. The rest is History…well English really. I doubt you can say I learned writing as a craft but I’ve always been a keen observer of people.”

“The best advice I can give anyone is to persevere. I honestly do think we all have a story though some are better able to tell it than others. Speak to someone you trust about the idea you have, if they agree it would make a good story set yourself the task of writing one chapter. Know in advance where the chapter is going and then just make the journey getting there as pleasant as possible for a reader.”

ACF: I’ve read two of your books – My Barsetshire Diary and The Queen’s Envoy – and they were more than pleasant but I believe you have a third book as well? Can you tell me a little about it?

Lord Daud: “More Barsetshire Diary is an attempt to fool the reading public into believing I know what I’m doing. The first book left me hanging in the air with a promise made by Lady J that I would assist the Dreaded Edna with her campaign to become a Local Councillor. I decided readers of Book 1 might like to know what steps we took in trying to achieve that and whether Edna could be made ‘marketable’. Also thanks to Lady J’s generosity I am stuck with fundraising to save the childhood home of another formidable woman, Diana The Dowager Duchess of Cheam.”

“I was lucky enough to enlist the services of a fine young illustrator to create cartoons for this book to try and make it easy to envision some of the situations that occur in the various chapters. Since the illustrations include some of me, I advise those readers with a delicate disposition to look away now.”

ACF: -grins- Ahem. Getting back to the nitty gritty of writing for a moment, I’d like to ask a rather serious question. You seemed to shrug off the craft as ‘just English’ but I think we both know that there is a lot of poor English out there, both spoken and written. Where do you stand on the ‘creative writing class’ vs ‘just read, read, read’ debate?

Lord Daud: “And I thought we were friends! You are of course right. There is a lot of poor English out there since educational standards are dropping in my eyes. ( Not that I have educational standards in my eyes…). Gone are the days when Grammar Schools brought out the best in those pupils more inclined towards schoolwork while secondary schools perhaps helped those who were more gifted in crafts (woodwork. metalwork etc. not basketweaving).”

“I think since pupils were lumped together it’s brought the standard of education down a notch and the three R’s just aren’t given the same emphasis anymore. It’s almost Dickensian that a child can leave school unable to read properly and unable to do all but the simplest mental arithmetic.”

“So, dragging myself back to your point. I think read, read, read is probably the best way forward in not only leaving school with a glimmer of education but also with an active imagination. I can’t talk of the benefits of a Creative Writing Class as I’ve never attended one. No doubt it would help teach someone the craft of putting a story in order but I don’t think it would help generate the ideas that reading does. These days youngsters rely on someone else’s imagination by playing games on the computer. We’ll probably find that most of the writers out there probably spent more time using their own imagination as a child and were avid readers themselves.”

ACF: I’m in the read, read, read camp as well and have glasses to prove it. I can’t move on without asking what books /you/ like to read.

Lord Daud: “Books I like include Sci fantasy like Anne McCaffery, I read anything by Dick Francis, John Grissham, (Sir)Terry Pratchett, Harlan Coben, Sue Grafton and lately George R.R.Martin.”

ACF: You’ve just listed some of my favourite authors! As a kindred spirit [and a veteran of three indie books] I’d like to pick your brains on the question of publishing. Many writers, myself included, face a dilemma when it comes to publishing because we would like to have the imprint of a traditional publisher but recognize that it makes more sense to self-publish. I know you chose to take the indie path. Would you mind telling me what influenced your decision?

Lord Daud: “Like you I think most of us would like a traditional publisher however I had no luck with agents in the 6 weeks I gave myself and decided to go Indie because I’m impatient.”

ACF: What about the marketing aspect?

Lord Daud: “These days few publishing houses do the promotion they once did and so it’s left up to you to do as much as possible on the net, personal appearances and signings and through press interviews. If you’re happy to do that then maybe Indie is the way to go and save the money.”

ACF: Once you did decide to go indie, how did you find the self-publishing process itself?

Lord Daud: “I started off with Createspace but didn’t like the fact they paid royalties by cheque and it cost me for the bank to convert it. I went to Lulu for the other two books because they pay into a paypal account making life easy. I also found that Lulu.com are good for printing as they do print in various Countries while Createspace (the Amazon arm) only print in the US and postage for you and your customers can be steep. You’ll also need to check if Australia has a tax agreement with the US and apply for exemption if so or you’ll pay US tax on all royalties. The tax exempt forms can be downloaded online from the US Tax office and I’m pretty sure there’s a list there that informs which countries have an agreement with the US for exempt status.I still haven’t sorted my tax exempt status as I refuse to send my passport in the post.”

ACF: Hmmm…definitely food for thought there; taxation is not something that’s ever come up in any of the forums I visit so it’s not something I’ve ever had to think about until now… and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. Thank you. Information like this is invaluable to all of us.

And now to the future. Will you be taking us back to Barsetshire with a fourth book? I hope the answer is yes because The Barsetshire Collection has a nice ring to it. And then there’s Oscar…;) He’s become something of a pin-up in this house!

Lord Daud: “Before my wife became ill I had just started the fourth book which is a continuation of my adventures as the Queen’s Envoy, the Official Secrets Act having now released some more information I could share. Unfortunately that’s now been put on hold as the need to write has disappeared. Perhaps I’ll get back to it some day since Julia is certainly prompting me to do so and Oscar wants to return from his enforced holiday and get back to .”

ACF: I’ve only ever been on a horse once in my life and Jim [the horse] spent the whole time standing in one place, cropping the grass, so the only trait I share with Lady J is a love of coffee and lots of it. Nonetheless I feel a kinship with her and hope that you will continue her story one day soon.

Speaking of stories, how is your ah…diet coming along?

Lord Daud: “The diet is fine thanks. I have just had some fat free pork pies with a touch of magic in that they never seem to touch the sides on the way down. My sylph like figure is probably maintained because of the sacrifice I make in drinking only Diet-Pepsi.”

ACF: I wish you hadn’t mentioned pork pies… Before I race off to raid the fridge can I ask one last, all important question? What are your thoughts on the meaning of life?

Lord Daud: “The meaning of life is to find those things you love to eat and then avoid anyone or out debate anyone who tells you they’re bad for you.”

And on that note I bid Lord Daud, and all of you, farewell!

Lord Daud’s website
Lord Daud’s author page
Oscar’s blog


The Queen’s Envoy by Lord David Prosser – a review

I have been reading at a breakneck pace lately and still have M.R.Mathias’ book to review but I simply could not resist writing about the Queen’s Envoy first. This is Lord Daud’s second book – although chronologically it comes before My Barsetshire Diary – and was every bit as good as the first, hence my enthusiasm in writing this review.

Sequels, or in this case prequels, generally suffer from second child syndrome – we know what to expect so the element of surprise is gone. Thankfully Lord Daud has given us a twist to replace that initial element of surprise.And from that twist comes the title ‘Lord Daud’.

In The Queen’s Envoy our seemingly naive and slightly daft protagonist becomes a lord of the realm, having inherited the title from a distant relative. The dust has barely settled from that surprise before he learns that with noblesse comes oblige. Duty to the realm arrives in the person of Lord Bertie, a shadowy mover and shaker of officialdom who asks our hero to undertake a delicate negotiation with the Sultan of Beritana. Our hero agrees – what else can he do in the circumstances? – and heads off to Beritana with deep misgivings about his ability to pull off this coup. At the Saudi airport he is hailed as Lord Daud, a nickname that will stick a la ‘El Aurens’.

I mention Lawrence of Arabia with intent because Lord Daud accomplishes his mission in a style reminiscent of both the great Aurens… and Mr Bean! In later missions Lord Daud adds the mantle of Inspector Maigret and James Bond to his persona  but he never loses the delightful naïveté of Mr Bean.

These missions for Queen and Country are very funny but by the end of the book I could not help wondering whether Lord Daud might not be a tad more canny than he appears. This suspicion adds an extra layer of humour to his everyday exploits back in Barsetshire where Lady J is as sharp and delightful as ever and Oscar [the cat] gains a sidekick for a short while.

Speaking of Oscar, one of the most hilarious scenes in the book is when the cat – and his sidekick the kitten – monster Lord Daud in his bed. Think Garfield with Lord Daud as Odie! Priceless.

I honestly do not know how much of Lord Daud’s diaries are based on reality and how much on pure imagination but either way they are fresh, beautifully written and incredibly ‘more-ish’. I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with in book three.


%d bloggers like this: