It’s white and cold – still February

A writer’s day in a Carpathian mountain village.

Magura, Transylvania

This was today. This is winter in the village. Saturday – I woke up late (10am, shameful) to find more snow falling. Forecast is dire. Fridge close to empty, gas bottle getting light. If I don’t go down to Zarnesti NOW, I might be stuck for weeks. So…

Car under tarpaulin so that’s okay – no shovelling of snow off the vehicle. But the battery is dead as the proverbial dodo. Trudge up to the neighbour and beg for help. He’s happy, as ever, and cracks open the crocodile clips and the power pack with the longest cable imaginable – about half a mile of it, seemingly. Bonnet up, clips clipped to battery, men retire to shed, I sit in chilly car while juice flows to battery. Now then I try the ignition and slowly, slowly, there are signs of life. After 20 minutes, the ignition roars. I hoot for…

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Official: I’m an eccentric, says Kanal D

screen shot of KanalD

Another little TV slot – this time on Kanal D – which has brought some more enthusiastic Romanians to my digital door. Thank you, Kanal D!

I love the caption to my silliest photo (can you see I’m typing in ski mitts?): “She gave a kingdom for a Romanian hamlet.”

George Cat, Papi Dog, my neighbour Georgi and her two cows all appear. Let me know what you think…

 

 

Marketing myths for the debut author

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Your first book is published. Fame at last! Followed swiftly by fortune, one hopes. But will your publisher help you along the way to fame? Unlikely, unless you’re already famous. This article outlines the truth of book marketing for unknown authors, but be prepared for unvarnished truth you might find deeply depressing.

All that effort to get the book written, perfected, and published… and the copies sit on the warehouse shelves waiting for the news to get out. Book signings, lit festivals, blog tours, press releases, book trailers, social media campaigns, celeb endorsements, reviews… the publisher’s job, yes?

No. For an unknown first-timer, no. Publishers’ marketing budgets go on big name authors, not newbies. A hard fact of the writing life.

But…  [read more]

Digi24 comes to tea

Beautiful TV presenter Ioana Mihalca and her expert crew came to see me in Magura last month, and made a charming 8-minute film from their afternoon’s visit. They also talked to my neighbour Roxana, and my friends from Zarnesti, Dan and Luminita Marin.

The resulting film was broadcast on the show Bonton at the end of November.

What do you think?

 

Help me save a dog for Christmas!

Floss cover 2I’m donating royalties from my new book, Floss the lost puppy, to two fabulous animal charities here in Romania.

Every book you buy will help save a dog (or a cat) that is homeless, sick or injured.

Romania Animal Rescue is an amazing group of vets at the Centre of Hope in Bucharest – see what they do every day to save dogs and cats.

Eli Pet Transport is a Romanian-British charity that rescues dogs from all over Romania, socialises them till they’re ready for a new home, then takes them to the UK to their new families.

All the people involved are stellar human beings who have devoted their lives, their homes, their careers to the welfare of cats and dogs.

If you love animals, buy a book, donate direct to their websites, spread the word about what they do, teach kids about the value of pets and how to care for them – help in any way you can…

Thank you!!!

PS: You can find out more about Floss on his website, and read reviews of the book here.

Brian Douglas: Winter driving in snow extra dangers; be aware!

Most people don’t bother with winter tyres in the UK and are surprised when they slide on half an inch of snow… Excellent advice, Brian! Today is a good day to stock the car for winter driving… as next week is meant to bring snow.

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By

Brian Douglas

The first very cold snowy morning appears, not such a shock as was advertised on local TV last evening. I greet the guy next door as we step outside our dwellings and start brushing the snow off my car, he I notice simply brushes off the windscreen and in a flash is into his car, engine started and moving away. Stop I shout as see his car is covered in snow all apart from the windscreen, which is still iced up to appoint where one cant see properly. He winds the side window down and says the screen will clear; I have the heater blower on and is away down the road. cauciuc de iarna M+S

Goodness knows how many other drivers set off like this in a morning so full of ice and snow as they simply think only of being to work on time, forgetting personal safety and that…

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Is it safe to publish?

The latest Floss review came in today, from Alex Tatulescu who lives near London. I hope you can read the image – it’s so nice to read his letter as he wrote it.

Alex Tatulescu review

In case the image isn’t quite clear enough, you can read his review here.

And yes, Alex, I’ve already started the next book. It’s set in the same village, but it’s a very different story! Funny, and a bit bonkers, with some proper baddies. I don’t know when it will be published, but keep your fingers crossed!

Come to the launch of Floss’s book!

I’d love to see you! I’ll be on Booklet Fiction’s stand at Romexpo from midday on Friday 24th, and at lunchtime on Saturday, too. Come and say hello, and get your books signed.

A perfect Christmas story, set in the mountains near Brasov. A bilingual edition, so a great read for Romanian and English-speaking kids aged 7+.

Readers of all ages love the book – read some reviews!

FLOSS launch invitation

 

 

Romania: passions and pet peeves

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In my piece in the second issue of OZB (O Zi Buna) magazine, expats (aka migrants) tell me what they love and hate about their chosen home. Food, traffic, music, steps, bureaucracy, architecture, people, people and people…  Includes contributions from Shajjad Rizvi (left) and Karam Alsaty.

11 lessons I learned from my cat

This is George Cat. He is a ginger guru, and I love to learn from his natural, unaffected wisdom.

He lives with me in a remote mountain village in Transylvania, along with his brother, sister, and mother. As you can see from the photos, George is a live wire, except when he’s dead to the world. He’s sweet-natured (as they all are), ridiculously happy, curious, persistent, optimistic, opportunistic, loving, affectionate, entrepreneurial, funny, and magnificently beautiful.

George teaches me something every day. Here are eleven of his life lessons that we should all remember.

Number 1 – family comes first

George loves his family. With his sister and his brother, he was born to his mama Hobbs here in my study in 2011, and they haven’t been separated since. Family is very important to George, even he does have the occasional spat.

Number 2 – get plenty of exercise

Always make time for physical activity. You can dance by yourself in the snow, you can take a hike in the mountains, you can use a chair for some gym work, or you can race your mum to breakfast…

Number 3 – get plenty of sleep

Slumber in peaceful solitude, or catnap with friends. If you get enough rest you’ll have all the energy you need to life life to the full.

IMG_4048_2Number 4 – be honest

Never be afraid to say what you really think, even if it’s a controversial opinion.

A year ago today (8th November) I’d asked George what he thought of the new orange incumbent of the White House. Despite sharing hair colour, George told me precisely what he thought of America’s choice.

 

IMG_5093Number 5 – take no notice of big egos

Don’t be intimidated by flashy loudmouths. You can ignore people who think they’re cock of the walk just because they are snazzy dressers and like the sound of their own voices. More often than not, underneath the fine feathers, they are chicken.

Number 6 – take your work seriously

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You must never miss an opportunity to hunt out a tasty deal, and be persistent in persuading people to your way of thinking. Persistence, for an entrepreneur like George, is critical. He doesn’t take offence when his advances are rejected; he just keeps trying. Never say never, says George.

 

Number 7 – never stop learning

Hobbs and George's climbing lessonAlways take advice from experts. Whether you’re young and on a steep learning curve in life, or whether you’re mature but still eager to advance your development, seek out those who can teach you something worth knowing. Your mum is always a good place to start. Mums know best.

Number 8 – always be kind to children

George meets Mango & Fig

especially if they’re lost, lonely and frightened. When hungry youngsters appear at your door and want to share your sofa, your toys and your breakfast, give them a warm welcome, even if it’s difficult. It can hard letting strangers into your life, but offering a friendly paw can bring many rewards.

 

Number 9 – be curious

Explore new situations, meet new people, investigate potential opportunities. Even if they go wrong, explorations are always worthwhile, even if they’re sometimes scary; at the very least you’ll learn something of value: don’t do that again!

Number 10 – be magnificent

Remember – you are the culmination of evolution. You are the savannah cheetah, the jungle tiger, the mountain lion and the snow leopard. You carry the memories and wisdom of all your kind. Never forget how unique and remarkable you are.

Number 11 – above all, laugh

Be daft. to hell with dignity. Fill your life with happiness and be thoroughly adorable. Life is short so live it with joy.

Which of George’s lessons do you like best? What lessons does your cat or dog teach you? Do tell me in a comment. Send George a message!

IMG_1002 george on pylon