Gillian Monks

'Making Fairytales Come True'

Tag: New book

Full Steam Ahead!

Flower at BodnantI have suddenly realised that it is several weeks since I last posted here… and the reason why is because I have been working very hard on my next book, ‘Spring In Your Step’!

I have just completed Chapter Seven out if a possible twelve and am around the 47,000 word mark, so I am now ell over half way. More importantly, I am really enjoying what I am writing and am so excited about what I shall eventually be sharing with you all.

The chapter I have just written is all about the ‘Mother’ figure of springtime – and that covers the natural world, our genetic mothers and Mother’s Day/Mothering Sunday and the feminine within us all. In mentioning Lady Day – how many of you know what it actually is? – I found myself attempting to explain the vagaries of the various changes in our calendar over the years. And did you know that the name for ‘simnel cake’ actually stems from the very fine flour with which it was originally made? I was also drawn to share how just nine years ago, at this exact time of year, we came to discover – and eventually purchase – our own little piece of wonderful wilderness at Cae Non.

I am really, really hoping to have this next book finished by sometime in May and out in the shops by October or November – well in time for next Christmas and the following spring, so that you can all join me on the next adventure through a new year and a new season in 2021!

Meanwhile, the spring of 2020 is well and truly upon us, despite the all the wind and water. Birds are singing and nesting, buds are swelling, flowers are blooming.

Wherever you are, I hope that the season is treating you kindly. If the weather is causing you problems and heartache, my love goes out to you.

Onwards and upwards, as the saying goes – here is looking forward to all the new life and new growth which typifies this most beautiful and special time of the year.. with my love.

Happy Distaff Day!

Me stating writing againI must be one of very few people who was actually delighted to return to work on Thursday… in fact, I could hardly wait! When I refer to ‘work’, I am actually talking about my writing and I have been desperate to begin work proper on my next full length book for months, but had to see ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ birthed out into the world first.

‘Spring In Your Step’ follows directly on from ‘Merry Midwinter’ so begins at this most grey and uninspiring time of year – January. Memories of my singular childhood are tumbling onto my keyboard along with lots of ideas and observations as to how we can all really enjoy these otherwise quiet, dull days and the true relevance of this first month of the year. As in my first book, there are also ‘Comments from Joan’ and one or two recipes per chapter taken from her manuscript cookery book… hearty sustaining casseroles, comforting hot, sticky puddings and delicious treats to sustain you through the winter weather, whether you are playing in the snow or struggling to work. And there will be more ideas for little seasonal craft projects along the way. If you would like to know more, I will be putting an extract on my blog in the next few days, so watch this space!

Some people are only returning to work on Monday, 6th January (which, ironically, is actually when ‘Old Christmas Day’ would have fallen before the change in the calendar in the 1750’s) but many have already returned in the days since we celebrated New Year. Why bemoan the fact? If you do not actually enjoy what you do for a living, at least be thankful that you have got a job to go to. (Although I have to admit that in these days of zero hours contracts and gross abuse of workers I can well understand why this might not be the case but this is a different conversation for another day.)

Distaff Day is variously placed on different days around the beginning of January and in times gone by was used to celebrate the return of the women to working life after the Christmas revels (as if they had been sitting twiddling their thumbs while all the feasting and celebrating had been going on – who was supposed to cook, bake and provide it all?) Some people refer to it as Saint Distaff’s Day but in fact there is no such saint – it simply refers to spinning (work traditionally performed by women using a distaff, hence the reference in family ancestry to the ‘distaff line when referring to the mother’s or female side of the family). On the other hand, in the agricultural communities the men returned to work on Plough Monday, the first Monday after Epiphany, when their work tools would be blessed, the farm horses dressed up and all manner of joking and hi-jinks entered into.

So celebrate your return to work… or the fact that you have had a good Christmas… or that Christmas is over and you can be left in peace… or that we might get snow in the next few weeks… or that we haven’t had snow to further complicate our lives… but celebrate something. Midwinter and Christmas isn’t the only opportunity to celebrate – if you look hard enough you can always finds lots of wonderful things to be thankful and happy about… celebrate LIFE!

 

New Book Published Today!

A very happy moment!

Today is the day!!! The moment I have been waiting for… to hold my latest book in my hands, ready to present it to the wold! ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ is an inspiring read which will – hopefully – propel you off into all manner of actions and adventures. Published by Herbary Books, ISBN 978-1-5272-4942-4 and available for £7.99 through bookshops and on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alternative-Advent-Calendar-Secrets-Christmas/dp/1527249425   

Celebration!  Furthermore, for any of you who are in my area, I am holding a book launch on Sunday, 6th October at the Hirael Community Hall, Ambrose Street, Bangor, North Wales at 2.pm. There will be a short talk about my new book, copies will be for sale along with ‘Merry Midwinter’ and there will be home made treats to eat and drink. But the main thing is that I want to celebrate… and everyone is welcome!

Very happy reading – with my love!

The Path Leads Onwards!

First draft finished – another manuscript now ready to enter the editing and production process! And yes, it is another book centred around Midwinter and Christmas but is applicable to any time of the year. ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ is based on the traditional twenty-four doors, with an extra special door to open of the twenty-fifth of December.

Advent calendars are usually based on giving us something nice to enjoy. This calendar differs in that – far from taking – it is all about what we can give back to the world around us. There is an introductory chapter to explain the origins, aims and development of the advent calendar and also an explanation of the ethos behind Advent itself. This is followed by twenty-five short chapters, each one suggesting a way in which you can make life pleasanter and happier for everything that lives around us – and here I am including animals, plant life and inanimate objects as well as the human element.

Each door will be marked by a large, seasonally illustrated numeral which the reader will ‘open’ by turning the page. There is a simple task or challenge for every day; ideas like giving a hug to people, making someone a hot drink, spending quality time with someone, making people laugh, feeding the local birds, planting seeds, and so on. I also include why these things are important… what real benefit they bring to those around us. Yes, we are mostly aware that it is good to promote such actions… but then we often forget to keep on doing them, especially in the hustle and bustle of the weeks before Christmas when in reality this is just the exact time we should be focusing even more on selfless thought and activities – not less.

But nothing we do, think or say is without its consequences and nothing we participate in is simply one way – there are ultimately the benefits that accrue to the perpetrator as well. Simple kindness can bring immeasurable fulfilment, satisfaction, joy and love. Our interactions with others are always a two-way street.

So, if you want to give yourself or your loved ones an early Christmas present look out for ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ which will be available to buy from the beginning of October onward. There is also a final short chapter on how the ideas can be applied to any time of the year – January is a wonderful time to instigate these activities… brighten the cold dark world of post Christmas and cheer everyone (including yourself) by doing so.

This whole idea began as a series of blog posts dashed off in the heat of the moment last December while I was rushing around promoting my first book, ‘Merry Midwinter’. Once Advent had come to a end it seemed such a shame to merely discard the idea, so earlier in the spring I began work on rewriting them and taking the time to truly consider what I wished to convey. The result will soon be in the hands of my editor.

I have also been having long conversations about how I wish to portray the seasonal numerals which will represent the ‘doors’. I finally knocked up some very rough sketches to show everyone what I had in mind. They were warmly received and now – although I am no artist at all – am left with the task of doing the job properly for inclusion in the book. I just hope that it does not also fall to me to execute the cover… words are one thing but lines on paper have a habit of refusing to do what I expect. Come to think of it, so do my words! Ah well, such is life – jolly exciting isn’t it?

Beginning a New Book!

February tree

Life is like a tree – so much is hidden, buried deep beneath.

The most important news is that I have begun writing my next book, ‘Spring in Your Step’ which is a direct follow on from ‘Merry Midwinter’ and is all about how to satisfyingly and authentically enjoy and celebrate the spring season. I takes up the dialogue at the end of January where ‘Merry Midwinter’ ended and will cover the downside and depression of January, the celebration of earliest spring at the beginning of February followed by all the springtime activities and high days and holidays. I am currently working on Chapter Four and writing about Valentine’s Day so am already a quarter the way through.

I definitely had a ‘Eureka’ moment yesterday. I have been finding my work a bit lacking in spontaneity and sparkle and quite hard going in places and I have realised why. In my attempts to be politically correct and all inclusive I have been trying to include lots of festivals and events from Europe and other places around the globe but their details have been taking all my time and thought – not to mention manuscript space – and I have rather ‘lost’ my original direction and drive.

But not any more! Except for a few important or favourite examples, most details are going to be listed in an extended appendix at the end of the book, leaving me free to bumble along, making my comments, observations and suggestions as I best like to do. I am definitely back on track!!! Watch this space!

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