Val's Publishing Blog
I know that it is a tradition of blogs that the most recent event come first. I have tried to follow this tradion for years and years, but still find it uncomfortable. I want to write a STORY that begins in the beginning, and ends at the end, and carries all sort of interesting material in between.
From henceforth, my Publisher's blogs and adventure will be by the month, starting at the beginning of the month and finishing at the end of the month.
So here's my Adventures for June 2017.
The good, the bad and the introspection
1st June, I predicted that Corbyn would win the UK election. But he didn't. The political situation in the UK is SO worrying .. .
Atelier Empreinte, my friends and me reflected!
My friend Mary Rowland took me up to Rennes-les-Château . . . we went into the new Atelier Empreinte shop, run by the same people who run the Porte de Rennes shop, and they had a cheque for me for books sold! I was thrilled to bits as this was the first payment I had received by anybody for any book since the previous November! (It was a hard winter.)
4th June My friend Pat came for the day from my previous village in the Narbonnais, that is, Canet d'Aude, and we took a picnic up to Montazels. Then we had a walk across the mountain with the dog, the views were tremendous.
I am missing my old friends from the Narbonne region. Sigh. That's Pat's car . . . you can see Bugarach, below it Rennes-le-Château on its hilltop and then Couiza in the valley below.
7th June. A proof came from the printer for "Barbarian Gold"! However much one adjusts the page lay-out on the computer, to see it as it will appear when printed up is a thrill indeed and makes the whole concept more real. I made a new cover, here it is.
13th June. Mercedes Kirkel and Tina came to see me, they are doing their annual Mary Magdalene Tour, but I was not invited to give a talk this time. I think this is because last year, even though all their customers received a copy of "Sacred Journey" as part of their tour, many were disappointed because my views are not spiritual enough. But puh-leeze! I am basically an historian.
15th June. We had news of an awful accident. A well-known character called Irish Steve had been drowned in the river Sals. He had some land at Montazels, right beside in fact, the place where Pat and I had had our picnic a few days before. There were many theories, Steve was always a bit "high" on this or that, but had had been given morphine when he cracked a bone in his leg. I think his death was an accident, he simply fell in the river and drowned, he probably never knew anything, the morphine and his regular intake would have knocked him out. But people were fond of him and the "marginal" community here were quite disturbed. Me too.
The Sals upstream
16th June. meanwhile, I had a character called Arthur Emmans staying here because he had nowhere to sleep, and Bart Sharp kindly took us both to Quillan because I needed to pick up my new prescription sunglasses. Then we had a tour around the church and the village and Bart took this photo at which the world has been laughing ever since, well, what the hell, it's a poor person who can never laugh at himself! But the picture that Bart took in the church (I did not have my camera with me) impressed me greatly. I MUST do more research into Quillan. There's an old ruined castle there too.
Sunday 18th June. Now, Arthur had a pet Tiger. My little dog Prisca was quite fascinated by the beast and liked playing with it, and we eventually persuaded Prisca that Tiger was in fact a friend and she lay down beside him in the courtyard. They seemed to be holding hands! It was the weekend and Arthur had gone off to the Ariège, saying he would be back on the Monday for his things. Oh, I thought, Prisca would miss Tiger. Perhaps I can get her a Tiger, or a toy of her own, to play with and cuddle up to when I am out.
There was a Vide Grenier in the park that Sunday, so off I went as I usually do, to perhaps pick up some ornaments for the house or the courtyard. You've guessed it, the first thing I saw was another Tiger.
I couldn't believed the coincidence, just 12 hours after making the decision! This Tiger was brand new, he still had the price ticket stapled onto his ear. So when I bought the new Tiger back home, Prisca was thrilled to bits - until she reallsed that Tiger was actually on the bed in the spare room! She went racing across the landing - Tiger was here, now Tiger was there, which room was he in? It was very funny to watch until she realised there were two Tigers! Well, Arthur and his Tiger left the next day and Prisca could sleep resting against Tiger on the end of the bed. But I have to be careful. If I pretend to stroke Tiger and love him, Prisca gets jealous and attacks him!
22nd June. Back to work. I got the corrections to Barbarian Gold all done and sent them to the printer, but the annual fête at Couiza was beginning. There were dodgems and fairground people in the park across the road; It is actually the féte of John the Baptist on the 24th, but for four days we had crowds and noise and rock bands in the park. The weather was very hot and it was hard to sleep with the noise and the windows open for the heat - at 2am! But I went to the bonfire to St Jean on the 23rd (the local church won't have anything to do with this festival because they say it is pagan and indeed, it is an old pagan midsummer festival in disguise) and I took films of the torch-light procession.
25th June. Bart Sharp the healer had organised a talk chez moi for people on his Mary Magdalene Spiritual tour and so we all met up in my courtyard. When I first came here to Couiza I organised the ground floor of the house into a "public space" - my museum, my books for sale, my summer kitchen and my courtyard. So everything was coming true and it all worked very well, my talk lasted twice as long as we thought it would and they bought a lot of books. But I felt a bit of a fraud, for I have very few spiritual beliefs. I write alternative history and I seem to be somewhere in the middle of various alternative religions. Since this visit I have tried to analyse myself without success!
27th June. The proofs of Barbarian Gold were all corrected and sent off and then my friend Patrick turned up! I have known him since I first came to France, over twenty years, he was my first French friend. Now he was on holiday in Rennes-les-Bains and so we went for a pizza there, under a parasol to protect us from the very gentle summer rain. I found myself pining for all the friends I had in the Narbonne region that I had left behind . . .
30th June What a tremendous day! I had met a lady called Cynthia who did not have a car but wanted to see Rennes-le-Château so I persuaded an English guy I had met in the Bar St Anne to give us a lift up. He was a good taxi-man! It was raining but Cynthia seemed impressed none-the-less and we eventually ended up in the Atelier Empreinte bookshop. I had a proof of "Barbarian Gold" with me and the bookshop ordered 20 advance copies, plus copies of various other books. Some people were there looking at "The Sacred Journey" and the owner of the bookshop pointed out to them that I was the author. Well, they were so thrilled! At the moment they bought the book they met the author. They were Spanish, so we had to talk in French and I don't know whose was worse. They begged me to have a drink with them at the Jardin de Marie. They were convinced that the coincidence was special and that I had a message for them from Mary Magdalene, they were quite disappointed to find that Mary Magdalene doesn't speak to me directly . . . if she did I would have so many questions to ask her.
My latest book - I'm a bit late with this one because it is a bit long - over 250 pages - and I want to make it perfect, with the latest and most stunning photos. Nearly there! Included is the "Project Visigoth" chapter, which I once planned to do as a separate book, with details of interesting places to visit if you want to explore Visigothic Languedoc. I am sending the lay-out to the printer to proof today and if the corrections are not too lengthy we just might be in print by mid-July! Good news eh? Here's some pages from the book to whet your appetite.
"Summertime, and the livin' is easy . . " Well not quite, specially with the election coming up on June 8th! I am SCARED! We've got that crazy woman as Prime Minister, she who wanted to "remain" at one time, now trying to force a "leave" with no idea how it will turnout. Jeremy Corbyn is patiently explaining that he is his party's leader and as such does what his party wants from him, unlike May, whom the Tories decided should adopt a "cult of personality" around her, only to find that she hasn't got much of one and just keeps repeating herself and dodging questions from the public!
But the weather is getting better, and I went to a lovely summer barbecue at Rennes-les-Bains on the 27th. It was held by a French Research Group (researching Rennes-le-Château, not Rennes-les-Bains!) and Occitanie was well represented, with some Brits and Germans there too.
25th May - what a find.
French friends from my previous village came to see me, Annie and Nicole, and we went to eat at the Fournil at Luc, which is a Bio place, that is, all the food is organic. There is a vegetarian bias but if you really want meat you can have some, well we three were happy with just eating vegetables and for Nicole it was a revelation that vegetarian food could be so good. Then Annie went off to take photos of a poppy field, a huge square of scarlet in the landscape, and she came back and plonked something on the table, "What do you think of that then?"
Had to do my French Income Tax form, to my horror I had lost €1000 over the year, due mainly to the exchange rate lowered by Brexit on my money coming from England, it has put the price of books down too, and I am reluctant to raise them, and sales were lower last summer due to the 11% decrease in British visitors. Hopefully 2017 will be better, as the new Atelier Empreinte bookshop at RleC is Brilliant.
12th May, a Mary M pilgrim
Well, the season seems to be beginning at last, it was the first warm and sunny day. I met up with a lady from London in the red cafe as I call it - the Café de France in Couiza. Marianne only had four days and was travelling by public transport so she had a few adventures here and there. Bless her heart, she liked my "museum bookshop" and bought several of my books. This is one of the most delightful things of my summer here; visitors from all around the world (well, the States, Australia, Poland, Ireland, Belgium . . . ) who are interested in the Rennes-le-Château and Mary Magdalene mysteries.
A few days later I went to Carcassonne (lower town) on the bus to meet up with my friend Gaby (from Germany!) who has a holiday home in the Narbonnais village where I used to live, I got quite a pang as I've loved Narbonne since the 1980's, but what the hell, you can't live everywhere. We had a lovely cassoulet for lunch and then went to the Carmelite church, I love it there, visit about twice a year.
I have been having an on-going argument with Amazon for five days and 6 counsellers, because they had insisting on telling the great British buying public that my Bérenger Saunière book was NOT available! What a drama this was, I was sending them long letters twice a day and every time they replied they gave me a new counseller, often one with a strange accent! Eventually I got a message from someone called Nunzia saying simply that the book was now available! At last! You can find this Amazon link here.
Violent thunderstorms all night, me and poor Prisca never slept all night, she was terrified.
3rd May - Spring means housework . . .
Really need a house with a garden for my dog so I won't have to walk her in this bitterly cold weather. Prisca was used to running wild over the mountainside before she came here. Now I've renovated the house could I sell it and find a similar one with a garden? But I can't live out of town because I have no car and hesitate to abandon my Green principles by buying one. Everybody else say "But it's acceptable to hitch-hike round here." Not for Prisca it isn't! Anyway, took some nice house photos.
It is bloody cold and raining, NOT the spring weather one expects after a winter of frosts and head colds! Still, I went up to Rennes-le-Château to deliver more books to the new Atelier Empreinte (they already wanted fresh supplies of my life of Berenger Saunière book, hurray!) The shop has been completely re-done in a classic "French-traditional house" style - stone floors, white walls, pine shelving - and they have a complete wall dedicated to books in English - and not just about Rennes-le-Château either!
Then Mary and I had a drink at Le Jardin, where we heard the story about the vandalism in the church was still running rife on Facebook but the traders at Rennes-le-Château were trying to minimise it - bad publicity. Well, my journalist's nose had scented a story there and I am much gentler than many! But it does beg the question, when you are a writer, if you stop being quite so honest but write to please everyone, you just turn into a free publicity machine. And that is something I will never be. And there's talk about bullet-proof glass in the museum . . .