Val Wineyard Publishing

Val Wineyard Publishing

Val's Publishing Adventures

Publishing adventures with most recent entry first.

22nd December, the turning of the Year

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I always spend Christmas on my own, because it's the plot-and-plan time for the books.  I'm working secretly with two ideas - with a Rennes-le-Château connection - and they have been "mapped out."

  Mapping - I first make a list of the relevant aspects of the book and then put all the research relating to that aspect under a heading to represent it.   Then I make a chronology of "what happened when" from historical sources.  Then I have a look at making it all take a logical direction from beginning to end, and re-adjust the headings to reflect this.  Now we have the basis of the story, whether it's non-fiction or a novel, we have the chapters in order.  I re-write and edit this in my usual dry style.  Then I add what will be the first chapter, which must grab the reader immediately, and the last chapter which must wrap it all up while maintaining the suspense to the very last sentence, if possible.  

  It's a bit like a relay race.  The first chapter must get off to a cracking good start, compelling the reader to continue, and the last chapter must accelerate the pace, tie up all the knots, and culminate in a finale that leaves the reader breathless.

  However I did take a break from writing to go and see Mickael Montepin - a fellow historian and museum keeper!  I had seen his work on Facebook and wanted to do an interview.  A lady in the village directed us, and we were on what I later learned was the old medieval track up to Queribus castle.

  Mickael came out of the low house and embraced me like a long-lost cousin!  I am sure I have known him before.

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I loved the stone doggies by the gate.  The roof level with the road was the re-done roof of a shepherd's house, called a "bergerie" in French, with a classic low arch inside.  It had been first built in 1681 - Michael's family have lived there for over 300 years.  In the distant days before the Revolution, one lived a natural and independent life, with your own vegetables and animals providing your needs.

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   The country skills are so evident.  That the same family had lived here in this style for over three hundred years blew me away!  In those days you did everything for yourself, grew your own food, baked your own bread, and so on.  After the sheep they used to grow vines until the Cave Co-operative in Cucugnan undercut the independent wine makers.  Now Michael works on the vineyards of his friends.

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   I thought the pool was a garden pool that had fallen into disuse, but no, it was an obligation, this mountainous region is so dry in the summer that the risk of fire is very real; the pool was for the fire brigade to use if necessary.  Facts like this bring you down to earth; living on the land was not a romantic fantasy out of a novel.

The house itself was like a museum, with many pre-war things still in use, but the reason that Mickael and myself had first got in touch was our interest in the history of the region.  He has a private museum of items collected over many years, mainly from his passion as a caver.  He has been fascinated by geology for many long years and with three friends explores the hidden depths of the Corbières and makes amazing finds.  These are from the abandoned mines at Padern, dating from Roman times, and the remains of building from the late 18th century are still there.

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  Cucugnan village is situated on the old Roman mining route between the Mediterranean coast and Rennes-les-Bains.   
  Mickael knows his region in a way that the tourist never can and his explorations are not limited to his home village of Cucugnan and its castle, on the contrary, the Two Rennes of the castle and the baths are among his favourite places.

   Mickael's finds are all recorded through his group of fellow cavers, called Groupe R.C.L and many historians and members from such associations as SESA, (Society for the Scientific Study of the Aude) call in to see his museum, next door to the house.  Everything is declared to the authorities and Mickael, who has found some most valuable things, would never sell anything. He is a man of the earth, of the ground, that he makes deliver its secrets, with great passion.  A desk-job is not for this child of the Corbières.  And for those among you who believe or sense things his collection represents earth energies. Here's some beautiful stones from Bugarach.  And Mickael in his "den."

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  And lastly,  visitors sincerely interested are welcome to visit Mickael's museum by invitation.  You can see more of his museum by clicking here.

     

3rd December - Meeting Richard Stanley

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Richard with the castle of Montségur, looking so tiny on its pog, and climbing up with friend Jeremy.

  Richard started his career as a film-maker in London, in those heady 1980's, and made his name making films in a certain genre that you can find on YouTube.  Recently he made a film all about the mysteries of our region, called "L'Autre Monde" - the other world.  He calls the regions of Montségur and Rennes-le-Château, plus the area, villages and mountains around them "the Zone."

  He lives not far from Montségur village, which I have always wanted to see for its museum, so it was wonderful that he offered to guide me and my friend Jeremy, who kindly gave me a lift, around the village.  There are at least four natural springs in the village which fascinated me for several reasons!  (Click here.)  We also saw the Hotel where Otto Rahn once stayed.  Otto wrote the books in German which first triggered interest in Montségur among the people of northern Europe.

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  We ate at Richard's house, well, you can always tell what people are like when you see inside their houses!  Richard has made a lifelong study of the esoteric, he has literally hundreds of books, some of them precious first editions.  I was so impressed by his learning.   He can give you the background on any legend, any esoteric mystery.  I already knew of one or two of his writing projects and had seen excerpts, for we are great friends on Facebook, where he runs a group called Terra Umbra - Land of Shadows.  I asked him to write something for Val Wineyard Publishing . . . but he just pointed out his favourite books with a sword . . .

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2nd December - exploring my new world

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There is to the south of Rennes-le-Château a whole network of paths and tracks over the mountains between Rennes-le-Château and Esperaza.  So I took the road south of Couiza and soon found the turning on the right, from where, I had been told, I could walk to the "citadel" in 40 minutes instead of the hour it takes to walk up the hill on the tarmaced road.

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  By the time I emerged into the sunshine I was beginning to enjoy this walk, I was alone all the way except for two dogs at the foot of the Rennes-le-Château citadel, it was almost as though they were guarding it, I wondered if this was a sort of Grail test to achieve the pinnacle (of bliss?) so I was thinking a lot about the Holy Grail in connection with our region here.  (Click for more.)  I enjoyed so much this sort of quiet private time all to myself.  The path eventually arrived at the foot of the Tour Magdala (the icon of the village) on this beautiful warm and sunny day in December.

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 And it did not take me 40 minutes, it took me 90!  Well, I was taking lots of photos . . . Yes, I know I said I was going to get back to work, and I am, this afternoon was a welcome break to refresh my mind, I am working on a secret title about Rennes-le-Château, never been done before, and keeping it firmly under wraps until it is registered!

22nd November 2015.  I must get back to work!

All these adventures and research trips are fine and fun, but books only get written if people write them!  But first my friend James came to fit a new window in my new office.  The office is on the first floor and overlooks the courtyard at the back of the house, so I was able to rush out and photograph James as he risked life and limb to get the window in. 

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  Meanwhile, inside the office, I was frantically finishing the lay-out for the revised "Sacred River of Rennes-les-Bains" which, you will be delighted to hear, will be delivered here within the week.

  I also thought it might be a good idea to get all my writing projects into some sort of order.  This I failed dismally to do, as the list has twelve possible new titles on it!  However, making a list is a good idea (new writers please note) as you can put plusses and minusses by each title and this helps to bring everything into focus.  "Next year" is a concept with a sort of magic and it has always been my habit to devote the long winter nights to writing, and then designing, the books.  There's going to be a new book in French from Kris and a new version of "Rennes-le-Château My Take" for 2016 and "Barbarian Gold" just might appear - I have been working on it for three years now, off and on.

  The rest are under wraps for the moment but believe me, there are surprises in store!   

12th November  Coustaussa

The weather has remained warm and sunny so I went with Trebha to Coustaussa.  I had had the idea in my head ever since I walked up to Rennes-le-Château on the 1st November and photographed Coustaussa across the valley.

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  I thought I knew Coutaussa after I researched the story of Bérenger Saunière's friend, Abbe Gélis, who was brutally murdered and his assassin never found - you can see the story by clicking here - but on this trip I discovered so much about the village that I must go again soon.  The castle was a stately home before the Revolution and why on earth would the village build a chapel to the northern saint, Saint Alain?  The investigation posed yet more questions which have to be answered.  Meanwhile, the thrill of living close to Rennes-le-Château, and being able to research without three days of planning trains and lifts, makes every day here in Couiza a joy to be alive!

11th November - Armistice

They always hold a remembrance service here in France on the actual day and it is always the Armistice of the First World War that is remembered.  I have attended this ceremony, whatever village I was living in, every year for the fifteen years that I have lived in France.  And now I live in Couiza.  It is a ceremony to remember the dead of that dreadful war.  We cannot bring them back.  We can only salute them.

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4th November - yet another party!

This one was yesterday at "chez moi" to celebrate my new front door!

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People were in and out all afternoon until we lit the lamps in the courtyard and then retired indoors and then more people came!

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  I had made a point of inviting all my French friends, including colleagues from the book-shops of Rennes-le-Château and so the talk turned around to the future of books at RleC (as all the "Rennies" call it.)  What would be selling next year?  Monsieur le maire, or rather his municipality, has been building a new Tourist Office and there was talk of it selling books in all languages, would this affect the bookshops?  For myself I don't think so, if the village gets a reputation for books, then more collectors and people interested in esoteric mysteries will come for the bookshops.  Near Carcassonne is a whole village called Montolieu that does nothing except sell books, there are about forty bookshops there.

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Hélène, fom the Porte de Rennes bookshop, expounds her theories to George Kiess, fast becoming a well-known French local writer, plus our own Kris Darquis who translated Claudia Procula into French, plus Kris's partner Jean-Luc.

  Three days later later Kris and Jean-Luc and myself had another brain-storming meeting at the local restaurant, Lou Cantou - yet more publishers' lunches!!!
2nd November  The season won't stop

Now the office has officially moved to Couiza the pace of life seems to be hotting up, instead of cooling down, with people arriving by the minute.  I met Sheila and Steve last autumn at Canet and this autumn they arrived here at Couiza!  So we went to lunch in the delightful small restaurant that I discovered with Bart Sharp (see 7th October.)  Sheila and Steve loved the restaurant and bought some more books, it is really a thrill to have readers like that who become such firm friends.

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  The next day was the last day that the restaurant, Le Jardin de Marie, would be open at Rennes-le-Château, so I had to go!  They close in early November and except for the 17th January, a special day at Rennes-le-Château, will remain closed until Easter.  I walked there, it is 4.5 kilometres which is - what? - less than three miles, a 40 minute walk with magnificent views of Couiza below and the castle of Coustaussa across the valley.

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 My translator Kris Darquis and her friends were there, recently arrived from Nice (the first week of November is a holiday in France) and so we shared many a joke and glass in the autumn sunlight.

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  In those heady days of the 1980's, when "the new drug is success!", I often went, as a humble editor, to magazine events in the wine bars of Fleet Street, and it seemed that all publishers did was enjoy wonderfully expensive meals and wines, sometime even treating humble authors who might one day write bestsellers.  All the publishing world did was eat and drink all day!  Especially with the rise of "self-publishing" those heady days are gone now but I suddenly found myself lunching every day in the name of work.  But how much more fun it is in Languedoc than London!  No noise, no cabs, no smog, no rain.  And Kris and I did a lot of "brain-storming" thrashing out future ideas, which reminded me of editorial meetings so long ago . . .

21st October.  The moved Office is now perfect!

My new house in Couiza is quite narrow on the street, but it "goes back a long way" and the house had been previously used as a garage before Gilles renovated it, hence I ordered a new door and window unit but had to wait an agonising six weeks for it to be fitted - and Wednesday 21st was Eureka day!  Here's the pictures showing the removal of the old and the fitting of the new, marvellous!

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Getting the old door out was the hardest part!

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The quality of the product and the workmanship was impressive.

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Finished and open for business!  They were just about to leave when my neighbour (behind the brown door) popped out and was so impressed he asked them to look at his house and quote!  Gael Aranda the window man, and his father who helps him, live in Quillan so if you need new windows or doors, the phone is 04 68 20 92 71.

  And Val Wineyard Publishing has finally "moved the office"!

13th October  Wonderful days at Rennes-le-Château

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Indeed, it's wonderful to live in Couiza at the foot of Rennes-le-Château and visit "le citadel" as the French call it, whenever I want!  We've had some very jolly times on the sunny autumn days.  I haven't yet tried going up on foot as friends Trebha or Susie have been going and so given me a lift but have been told about the "secret path" which only takes forty minutes . . . I'll try it when I have a break from DIY in the new house!

  One day we called in on Luke in his studio near the car-park.

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  Luke was away earlier in the year so it is great to see him back and see his work progressing so well.  His studio faces south and looks out on the panorama of the Pyrenees - across the car park is a low wall with a precipice behind it . . .

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  Susie and her visitor Samuel are truly fearless!

  However, biz is biz and I have to do my duty as an intrepid explorer. The municipality is building a new Tourist Office for next year, and at one time there was a certain controversy because no-one knew the purpose of the building, rumours were rife it might be a bookshop.  Naturally, having a good relationship with Atelier Empreinte and Porte de Rennes, both of which sell my books in increasing numbers, this was of some concern!  Now however, I believe there will be more visitors than ever at Rennes-le-Château next summer.

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  The entrance to the museum and Domaine, including the Tour Magdala and Bérenger's little chapel, will be through the Villa Bethania and the cost to go in will remain at 5€.  I am a little sad however, that the poverty-stricken among us won't be able to see these places and "sense" what life was like in Bérenger Saunière's day.

  Then, biz woz still biz, so I called in the bookshops, they both sell other things as well as books, I was particularly taken with this statuette in Atelier Empreinte (Cupid looks just like Bart!) and must thank Susie for the lovely picture she took of myself and Toni.

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7th October, another Rennes-le-Château Celeb!

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I met up with Bart Sharp today, from Austin in Texas.  I have never seen anyone less like a "red-neck"!  He is currently staying near Bugarach researching places and stories for his spiritual tours about Mary Magdalene. 

 He is a man with lots of quiet charm and I was delighted when he invited me to lunch.  Lou Cantou in Couiza is just round the corner from the Post Office and believe me, behind the modest exterior lurks a restaurant of the highest quality, we were impressed, every mouthful was a delight.  It was a fine sunny day so then we walked down to the junction of the River Sals with the River Aude, to me this is a sacred place full of "water energy."  Bart however, has a training in geology and he experiences "earth energies."  I thought that the way he saw many places (that are quite familiar to me) was quite original.  We talked and talked and talked.

  I have no doubt that the people on his tours next year will have more than a few surprises in store!

  For more details of his tours, click here.

4th October 2015

Frantically working on "The Sacred River on Rennes-les-Bains," we're doing a second edition with more info, will go to print before the end of the month . . .  

21st September, Meeting Leslie Cottle

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  Leslie is a well-known actress and now film-maker in her native Montreal, Canada, and we have been Facebook friends for many years.  Imagine my delight and interest to hear that she was coming to France and would come and see me - which she did, on a special day when I had friends round for drinks in the tiny courtyard, to celebrate my new house.  What a hug she gave me!

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  There was no "side" to this famous lady, she was "one of us" from the moment she arrived.  Leslie has been in love with our region for years and feels a special attraction for the Carcassonne/Rennes-le-Château region so who knows?  We may see a lot more of her in the future.  She was particularly interested in my "museum," with the Roman and Visigothic pieces, plus Mary Magdalene of course.

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Many thanks to Susie Harrison for these two pictures. 
   Then we all went for a walk by the River Aude, which is only a hundred yards from my house.  (In the stillness of the night I can lie in bed listening to its murmurs . . .)

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  For a short film excerpt, showing Leslie's skill, click here.

  For a passionate past life film, made in Carcassonne and Rennes-le-Château, click here.

  And when you've more time . . you'll be absorbed into this strange life . . . click here

  Leslie never told me her plans - I am a writer/blogger after all! - but I await events with interest!

15th September, an incredible day

I couldn't tell anyone until all was regularised, but the notaire dealing with the house at Couiza was on holiday, then at last the summons came.  I arranged to meet up with Gilles at Limoux early evening because he was working, so I caught the bus and spent a super hour photographing the town then went to our rendezvous - the Tivoli!

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  It had been heavily overcast all day but now the sun came out . . . a car screeched to a halt. 

  "Val!" 

 "Gilles!"

  We zoomed across the countryside to a remote village in the mountains where we signed the Acte de Vente for the house in Couiza.  Gilles seriously and ceremoniously gave me the key.  I already had one because I had been living there for a month but we didn't tell the notaire!  The French often let you move in early when you buy privately but I was moved just the same by the trust that Gilles had had in me, all the way through my move.

  Then Gilles drove me back to Couiza through tiny villages, one split in two by a huge cliff, where he waved or stopped to chat to all the people he knew.  It began to get dark and I was making frantic mental notes for future research when Gilles stopped to show me a mysterious wayside cross that local people are researching.  It was at a junction of three ancient roads across the mountain and the base was very old, maybe even Celtic, and carved with figures.  No-one wants to reveal details until the research is done but here's the picture I took in the dark . . . 

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  I thought Gilles was so very kind to give me this unusual tour as a sort of house-buying present.  We got back to the house that had changed from "our house" to "my house" and heated up a vegetarian quiche in the new oven, talking and putting the world to rights until he had to go.

10th September 2015 - Creative

After all the stress my creative side has come back.  Today Gilles arrived to look at the roof - he seemed more like my landlord than house-seller - and to check off his work there, and he kept looking through the skylight at me while he was working.  The skylight made such a frame I took some nine portraits that I was very pleased with.  Don't ask me why!

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  And as regards writing I re-started work on "The Sacred River of Rennes-les-Bains" - click here for more details.  Then there's next year's edition of "My Take" to think about AND I think I might do an e-book about my personal adventures moving house!  Goodness knows I've written enough!

2nd September  It's done!  Permanently at Couiza now!

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My buyer Pauline

I went from Couiza to Canet today by public transport, and back again, just to sign the final Acte de Vente with Pauline in the notaire's office.  It was marvellous to walk into his office and see Pauline's smiling face.  After all was explained and minor points agreed, we signed the pages side by side.  After all the tension, there was nothing to it.  Then it was very strange to be invited into the house where I once lived! for a celebratory glass.

  Now for the mammoth task of sorting my new home in Couiza, it's only fit to be seen by the most trusted souls, but here's some "still life's" to give you an idea what it is like.

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  The interesting thing is that the entire ground floor, which has a WC, can be used as a reception area (of, hopefully, book buyers as well as friends!) with my museum, a "summer kitchen" and also a courtyard so people can sit and chat over refreshments.  It needs a new front door.  I will "live over the shop," as the Queen Mother said when they asked her if she lived at Buckingham Palace!

  So more pix next week . . .   

31st August

I have spent two weeks on buses and trains between Canet and Couiza, going to see friends with vans and begging them to move stuff for me, all that lifting of cardboard boxes in the summer heat, now my buyer Pauline is arriving today and the house is not yet empty and I am exhausted!  But I saw a beautiful "super-moon" in Pisces out of the window; the end of one era and the beginning of another.

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19th August - First Party!

My friend Susie Harrison from Bugarach came to see my new home and we went to the "8 till 8" for supplies for a picnic, and bumped into Jérôme, a French photographer from Granès, just to the south of Rennes-le-Château.  So he came too!

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 He and Susie were both "green" and into healthy eating, but they seem to get as merry on water as I did on wine!!!  With Susie's son George we dined and laughed and acted the fool all afternoon in my tiny courtyard behind the house.  That was a wonderful day for me, a dream of being among my friends at Couiza come true.  What a welcome for me!

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George took lots of photos - after he'd eaten his dinner of course.

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Happy day!

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18th August - Moving the Office

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Well, the office has moved but I'm not quite sure about the rest of the house!!!!

  There's still stuff in Canet to come over even though it's looking empty . . .not so vital things like scrubbing brushes! 

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Yesterday it was a thrilling moment to me when I set up the modem exactly as SFR had told me too and it worked!  I was so worried but all went well, although I hear they might be a problem with the new number - argh!  thank goodness for e-mail and Facebook, please write if you are in the region and would like to meet up.  At the bottom of the page you can comment on any article or send a message directly to me through "Contacter Author."

  The kitchen was looking good too, then I had to move the table to make room for a makeshift worktop but it looks quite kitchen-y.

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The guy who moved me was called Mr. Reliable

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  I think he was a bit taken aback by me and all my books.  I HAD told him I had at least 10 bookshelves - with contents - on top of normal things like wardrobes.  He looked so exhausted (it was very hot) that I made him sit down for a while with some coffee.  Books are heavy.  (Note to publisher - must sell more!  Lighten those shelves!)  And I too have aches all over that only red wine will cure . . .

I reckon it will take about six months to get this house as I like it, but with a functional office and a functional kitchen, what more does a girl need?  The ground floor will be super for parties, you wait and see.

 As I'm typing this the church clock is chiming.  It chimes the quarters as well as the hours.  I will discover tonight if it chimes through the night as well!  (PS - it doesn't, silent from 10pm to 7am.)

I like Couiza.

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  15th August Book sale day

Every year at Rennes-le-Château they hold a "Journée des livres et l'étrange" - a day of books and strangeness.  I had committed to go long before I ever dreamed I would be moving house, so that was fixed in stone!  I had had my new catalogue for 2015 - 2016 printed.

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I was very pleased with it, I thought the old typography image on the front gave it a "traditional printing" look and I put more creative pictures inside the enhance the characters of the books.

  Annie called for me, the sky at Canet just held a few fluffy white clouds, we never dreamed it would be raining at Rennes-le-Château!

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Not a single English tourist passed by all day!  I gave out no catalogues!  I wandered round the other stalls and bought three French books, about Osiris the Egyptian god, Mistral the provençal poet and a little gem - the Visigoths by Gérard de Sède, what a classic.  Thus, I spent more than I sold that day!  Well, you can't win 'em all, we did meet some interesting people and Annie's "god" statue was a constant source of interest.  You should see him photographed from the side!

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Atelier Empreinte bookshop, who organised the event, had asked for more copies of the Sacred Journey because they had sold out (that was good news) so I took the books round to the shop, and experienced the same old thrill to see my books on the shelves, clearly visible through the front window of the shop.

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  And then I noticed the glass.  Oh no!  Someone had been throwing stones at the shop, they didn't know who it was.

  Later I heard there was a lot of bad feeling around the time of the Film Festival on the 10th and the 11th August, from some local people in the region.  I don't know why, maybe they were jealous.  The films shown were not about Rennes-le-Château, the organisers had merely chosen to hold the festival in a venue known as the esoteric capital of France.  I had told this to my readers many times on Facebook, but still the organisers were plagued by local people angry that their RleC films were not being shown.

  'Nuff said, no names, no pack-drill, but August was a particularly dreadful month all around the world as forecast by astrologers.  I was glad when September came. (Note - I was Totally mistaken about this.  The crack in the glass was done in early spring 2015.)

10th August - Starting to pack!

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2nd August, 2015

So what was I going to buy this little perfect new publisher's office with?  The price was low and so I decided to take a terrific gamble.  I wanted to live near Rennes-le-Château at Couiza and that was that!

  So in Canet I dropped the price a massive 20000€ and hoped for the best!  It certainly generated interest.  Some people thought this was a folly, because the house was worth much more than that, but what the hell - I would still be worth one house!  In the economic crisis, I reckoned, the property market would continue to fall, and if I hung on for more money I'd end up in Canet for yet another winter - or two.  "You're a fool to let it go for that - it's worth much more," some said.  But I'm not sure - some things are worth more than money.  I'm a writer.  What does the word "worth" mean?  Not as much as money in the pocket!

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Toni, (above) who works in Atelier Empreinte was very helpful and supportive - he lives in Couiza and will be a neighbour!  So many friends in the region, and my dear Kris Darquis, were all so pleased I had decided on Couiza at last.

  Anyway the price reduction worked!  I had a phone call from a lovely lady called Pauline, within two days she was on the plane to Carcassonne, she walked in the house and declared that she wanted it!  She made an offer and I accepted it.

 So then we went out together to the village fête and the next day went to see the notaire.  Then I had to take the For Sale notice off my door!

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Once again, that sense of great trust; it was like a miracle happening every day!

  I am starting to pack - I don't think moving day is that far away! - and will keep you joyfully informed of course!
24th July 2015  Good news update - it's Couiza.  Three weeks of adventures!

I've just had a phone call from a friend who is not on Facebook.  "Are you all right?" she said.  "I've been following your 'Adventures of a Publisher' and you have written nothing for two months!"  This is true.  I've been so up-to-my eyes buying and selling houses!

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The buzzword is "Couiza."  (The picture shows the old castle of the Joyeuse family by the river Aude, now renovated into a luxury hotel.)  I didn't want to write a blow-by-blow account of my adventures until I was certain that things would go through, as I had had so many disappointments, even if all my spiritual friends DID say - "It's because there is something better waiting for you, please don't worry."

   You may remember that I was looking at properties in Couiza over two years ago, hoping to find investors who would share my pied-à-terre so that I would have somewhere near Rennes-le-Château to lay my head for weekends, for example.  But that idea all came to nought . . .
  Then, last summer, I got so tired of the long journeys to Rennes-le-Château country, linked with the brief hours I spent there, but I still didn't want to leave Canet where I live near Narbonne.  (The train/bus service had changed the timetable so I had an our to wait at Carcassonne each time.)  Besides, I felt that Canet was quite special to me and I had lots of friends here.
  But how to solve the travel problem?  In December 2014 I decided on moving to Carcassonne, so close to railways, airports and 1€ buses, so put my house on the market here and found a property to renovate in Carcassonne, calling it "The Two Lodges."  It seemed realistic; a bridging loan to buy the property, then money to renovate when my house here sold.  It wasn't these practical problems that put me off however, but the pigeons! as you can read below.  After six months I backed out of the deal.  Psychic friends told me the pigeons were telling me I was not welcome at Carcassonne!  (I still shudder when I hear the word "pigeons.")

 I like Carcassonne however, especially the Place Carnot in the centre of the lower town, the Bastide, and spent a lovely day there recently with my translator Kris Darquis and her other half, Jean-Luc.

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  Then people at Canet kept asking why I wanted to leave Canet.  I told them it was for my work because the books were selling, but it was all more complicated than that.  It is not the village that it was.  For example, the two associations that I loved, the historical association and the art association, had folded . . . and they stopped doing vide greniers or car-boot sales.  Many of the French friends that I relied on to help me in the house now and then had moved to Narbonne for work reasons. 
  Then Bérenger Saunière's house at Montazels by Couiza came up for sale, and a friend said he would come in with me, we would share it, there were five bedrooms for visitors and great reception rooms where conferences could be held. It would be a bit of a business venture, but the kudos of living there and being a leading light "on the scene" quite went to my head!
  Then the agent told me it had been sold and I went into such a depression I never spoke to anyone for four days. 
  I had been saying that I was prepared to give up my dream of Carcassonne to live in Saunière's old home but I still violently resisted the idea of changing from being a woman alone to Canet to being a woman alone in Couiza.  But I went house-hunting in Couiza on behalf of my friend who had wanted to buy Saunière's house with me; he was not interested in Carcassonne.  And he wanted a quite big house to share . . .
  Then it got quite crazy!  On the first of July, a French friend in Rennes-le-Château told me of a tiny house for sale in Couiza at a tiny price, I went to the Mairie (town hall) a couple of days later for info, I rang the owner, I saw the house, I made an offer and it was accepted!

  That was a marvellous experience, as soon as my offer was accepted, my seller told me later, he cancelled all his adverts; as far as he was concerned, the house had sold.  That trust moved me very much.  Suddenly life was worthwhile again; all the haggling and disputes with agents and distant sellers and estate agents disappeared like the dew under the sun - I was among friends.
  The house was very small, but had everything I needed, even plenty of parking outside on a quiet road not far from the park not far from the river, and I could have, not something that I need but that I would like very much; a dog again!

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  And, miraculously, there was a super space for my books, big enough to entertain friends for readings and other celebrations.  Perfect!
  Quite how all this happened I'm not sure, but I love that house and the thought occurred to me that I might as well stop being ambitious and think only of myself and have an easier life with less work and less commitments and bills, to continue my writing and - to walk my dog by the river.  A peaceful simple life, lower bills, lots of friends round, no hassle to get to Rennes-le-Château and meet those interested in the mysteries..

  I signed the compromis for this little house on 22nd July - Mary Magdalene's day.



02/08/2015
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