Books


I’m delighted to welcome a fairly new member of the Crooked Cat community of authors, Isabella May. Her brilliantly-titled novel is out next week. Over to you, Isabella.

Why I Wrote ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’

When my fellow Crooked Cat author, Miriam Drori, invited me to feature a guest post on her blog, I knew it could only be about one aspect of my multi-faceted, up-coming debut novel, ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’: Domestic Violence.

All of which ties in nicely – for want of a better word – with the subject of Miriam’s first non-fiction book with Crooked Cat (published last month): Social Anxiety.

[Miriam: Social Anxiety Revealed, for anyone who doesn’t know.]

But first a little backstory, if I may, courtesy of my book blurb:

Pavlova Book CoverKate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation.

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?

Contrary to the way domestic violence is often portrayed…
Many victims (men, as well as women) are living a double life. And I don’t just mean a double life in terms of masking what is going on behind closed doors and acting ‘normally’ in front of family and friends, work colleagues and acquaintances; I mean a full-on, in your face Double Life that would suggest their entire life is Just Perfect in every single way. I know because I have been there. That’s why it was so easy, and so important, to write Kate Clothier’s story, to hopefully help others recognise their mirror image, to hopefully inspire them to wake up, smell the coffee and get the heck out.

We need only look at high profile cases of DV to see this.
And here I mention no names, but there have been numerous accounts of the relationships of the rich and famous taking on a very different nature once the front door is slammed shut and the luxury velvet curtains drawn tight. From actors to pop icons, chefs to politicians, no stone is left unturned when it comes to physical and mental abuse. No amount of money or privileged upbringing can act as a harbour. 

A violent partner isn’t violent all of the time.
One of the biggest myths when it comes to DV is that an abusive other half is constantly on the attack, be it with belittling words or fists. The reality is nothing could be further from the truth (although of course, I acknowledge in some cases, the violence can be incessant). Understandably, this makes it harder for somebody like Kate to flee. The ego will come up with excuses, many ridiculously ‘plausible’. In Kate’s case, antagonist Daniel might lob a plate of food at her across the kitchen… just a couple of times a year because he expected meat and two veg instead of salad, or pinch her calf beneath the shield of the table cloth whilst tucking into Sunday dinner with her parents in quiet response to her announcement she is off on another business trip… but only because he will ‘miss her so much’ and only once in a blue moon. The perpetrator might take to ‘gas-lighting’, enervating the diminishing self-esteem of their prey slowly but surely. Subtle manipulation is another tactic, all too oft employed like a wolf in sheep’s clothing; in particular the perpetrator might threaten to take their own life if the victim as much as hints that they will leave. Indeed the abusive mind is a labyrinth, diverting to avoid dead ends, twisting and turning until its goal of ultimate control has been achieved.

Domestic violence has no ETA.
Unlike the precious cargoes of books Kate sells to her overseas clients for her living, Daniel’s unpredictability can be viewed as equally damaging as any constant lashing out. Kate is perpetually stepping on egg shells; she’s flighty and nervous, full of procrastination and self-doubt. Her perpetrator is King of keeping her right where he wants her: unsure and terrified, less likely to leave him, more likely to stay.

Ultimately though, we need to get to the root cause of victimisation.
Here’s where I’m more than aware that ‘Pavlova’ could cause a little Marmite Divide; for this is a novel which dares not only to straddle genres, but to inject a little humour into the proceedings. And take it from me: comedy is one essential coping mechanism in any abusive relationship. No, not in the heart of any action, but as a general means of self-preservation, as a diversion from the hell that is daily life.

However, being self-aware of what is going on is one thing, understanding the spiritual journey we took to get there is quite another. Yet, it’s the only way to bring permanent change into our lives. There’s an intricate chemical reaction going on between the abused and the abuser. Until we address that with empathy, for both sides, we’ll keep on repeating the pattern – in all areas of life. This is my take on the subject anyway. It won’t sit well with everybody, but it is high time we delved deeper, unwrapped the layers of the onion to see what is at the heart of the things projecting out before us. If my words help just one person to do that, they’ll have been worth the blood, sweat and tears.

And that’s as much as I’m going to say about that. To find out more, you’ll just have to order the book!

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing.

As a Co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – http://www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One).

She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’!

Oh! What a Pavlova is her debut novel… and her second novel has already been submitted to her publishers: watch this space…

Thank you, Isabella, for that thought-provoking introduction to your novel.

You can follow Isabella May on her website and social media here:

www.isabellamayauthor.com

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/

Instagram – @isabella_may_author

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Salt & VinegarCrispsUntil recently, it was impossible to buy Salt ‘n’ Vinegar crisps here. There were many other flavours, but not that. We missed them and always bought some when we were in the UK. Our children like them, too. I wonder why!

Nowadays, we see them for sale, occasionally, in the familiar blue box. We’ve bought them and enjoyed them. However, after two or three purchases, we’ve noticed a pattern. The crisps sold here have less vinegar than the ones sold in the UK. They’re okay, but they don’t have that specially sharp taste. They don’t make your lips tingle.

We’ve assumed that these crisps are purposely made with a milder quantity of vinegar to suit the Israeli taste. And the Spanish one, presumably. Come to think of it, doesn’t the version for the UK market bear the name “Salt ‘n’ Vinegar”? And isn’t there a “u” in “flavoured” in that version?

Advice on writing always includes tips about writing for the audience. And contrasting tips to write for yourself, because that way you come across as genuine.

I wouldn’t begin to tell other writers how they should write. Each has to make their own decisions. I’ve made mine. I couldn’t write to suit the people I assume would want to buy my books if the writing didn’t first satisfy me. My books aren’t crisps. They’re full of words that I’ve combined and edited and re-edited until I’m happy with the result. Of course, I hope they also satisfy others, but I can only produce products that suit my palate.

***

Social Anxiety Revealed has a five-star review that delights me because it shows the book has helped someone. I hope it helps many more. Remember, you can also read the book to discover how to help a friend, family member, colleague or student.

When I ordered this book I didn’t realise it would have the ‘Wow’ factor! I lost count of the amount of times that I thought ‘wow’ when reading the comments from people interviewed and discovering that I am not alone. There are other people who feel and act the way I do. It soon became clear during the reading that the author was offering me a much needed insight into like minded people and although it doesn’t offer a ‘cure’ (possibly the wrong word) it helped tremendously.

As you may have seen from the edit of my precious post, Facebook lost the live video I made yesterday.

But today I made another video (not live) which appears below. Make sure you have tissues ready…

 

Not me, apparently.

My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, posed a challenge for its authors: to GO LIVE on Facebook, all on the same day: tomorrow – Wednesday.

My first reaction was

NO!

My second reaction was

Maybe…

Well, I have made a couple of videos, including this one:

My third reaction was

 I’ll do 11am French time. I don’t believe I said that…

So apparently I’ll be live on Facebook tomorrow at 10 UK, 11 France, 12 Israel… I don’t know what I’ll be talking about, but I’m sure the words “social anxiety” will come up more than once. “Books,” too.

See you then! Eek!

EDIT: I’ll be doing this from my Facebook Author Page.

EDIT2: I did this, and then Facebook lost the video. (Expletives have been removed.)

I’m looking for a venue in the UK to give a talk.

I also talk about turning social anxiety from a noose into a friend and business partner.

It’s all in this post.

SA: From Noose to Friend and Business Partner

Two guest posts that coincide with LAUNCH DAY. Many thanks to Isabella May and Katy Johnson.

Website

Date

Title

Val Penny

2 August, 2017

Book Review: The Mill River Recluse

Sue Barnard

10 August, 2017

How I Discovered What I Had

Contemporary Romance Writers

15 August, 2017

From Romantic Romance to Ordered Disorder

Nancy Jardine

18 August, 2017

That Question Again

Chris, The Story Ape

19 August, 2017

Following My Passion

Jennifer C. Wilson

20 August, 2017

Coming Out

Isabella May

22 August, 2017

Publication Day

Katharine Johnson

22 August, 2017

The Song that Speaks to Me

What do you do when someone comes to stay and doesn’t leave?

It happened once in my childhood home. My parents felt imposed upon, but they didn’t say anything. After all, she was family, albeit distant. So they put up with her for two months until she finally returned to South Africa.

Launch Party

Social anxiety has been my unwanted guest for fifty years. I haven’t just told it to leave; I’ve fought against it. And lost. It never went back to where it came from – wherever that is. So now I’ve accepted it’s here to stay. In fact, I’m making friends with it and turning our relationship into a partnership.

If it weren’t for social anxiety, I wouldn’t have created the book

SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED

If it weren’t for social anxiety, there wouldn’t be a

LAUNCH PARTY

today.

If it weren’t for social anxiety, I wouldn’t be an author.

I have a lot to thank social anxiety for. I’d still rather it hadn’t come to stay.

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