Guests and Visitors

It’s dog sitting time again for my fur grandson Rooney, a golden labradoodle whilst his family are on holiday. His cousin Ralphy the black one is booked in for later in the year, never together, they’d run me ragged.

Roon n Ralph Tittesworth

Rooney and I have had a few encounters with the local wildlife this last couple of days while we’ve sat outside in the sunshine. Rooney has a slender physique, eats everything and anything, human food plus his own food and treats and never gains weight, perhaps more of a poodle build; Ralphy by contrast seems to be more labrador and prone to gaining weight, just like  people, two minutes on the lips, forever on the hips as the saying goes, so his diet is watched carefully by Mum and Dad, only dog food and monitored dog treats, no human food but he does like to lick fallen crumbs.

Well Roon and I sat outside, he with a Bonio biscuit, me with a chocolate muffin. He made short work of the Bonio and sat with his eyes fixed on the chocolate muffin but he was on a hiding to nothing. From under my garden chair a tiny creature crawled and jumped. I thought it was an insect at first but then I noticed the fur and tail – a tiny mouse! Was it a baby? Worse, was it a baby rat?!? I’d seen a huge rat lurking in the snow in the winter when I’d put food out for the birds but no sightings since I’d stopped.

Ratty in the snow

The tiny visitor went right past Rooney, whose eyes never moved from the muffin, then it hopped down the lawn and under the magnolia tree. Both dogs are fascinated by the smells under this tree. What lives there?

Magnolia May 2018

I relayed all of this news to my sister via email and she has this mindset of transferring words to the animals mouths, some may remember reading about her visiting cat in The Black Knight Diaries – the result of our laughing at too many daft cat memes and their language.

“Send me a picture of the tiny visitor,” said she.

Well Tiny Visitor arrived the next day, just missed getting trodden on by Roon and stood frozen whilst I took pictures, which I sent to my sister. Here’s her conversation between Roon and Tiny Visitor.

 

Rooney:    I az been sniffing around the tree to issue a warning. ‘Hear this ye rodents of the local area. This dog allowed all manner of hooman treats so don’t be looking for no crumbs when I’m here. However when the other fella comes do him a favour and remove all temptation from the hopeful bloke!’

Roon 4

Tiny Visitor:   FFS I’ve just moved all my shit in here and she’s now got a great big wolf-like monster staying with big feet who is careless where he puts em! There was I minding my own business when he comes tramping past and I nearly got squished! You can lay off the chocolate muffin crumbs buddy. You stick to your dog biscuits and know your place!

That aside it had been a bit of a nothing day for Rooney. I don’t do much so he sleeps a lot. He’d had a lovely walk on Monday with Ralphy and his mum and dad but now back to life with me, Nana Shuffs. Bedtime came, time for the last wee of the day at dusk.

The boys having fun

I stood on the patio while he was further down the garden sniffing around as dogs do when out from the shrubs pops Ratty, right by my feet! No sightings since the snow! I don’t know who was more shocked it or me. I was just glad I’d closed the back door. It beat a hasty retreat back into the shrubbery then ran out the other side – right in front of Rooney, who immediately shot after it. They raced down the garden, Ratty for his life, Rooney in pursuit of his prey – or the live toy! All thoughts of the last wee had left his mind but I’ll let him have the last word.

Rooney:    Well who’d have thought it! I az ad a boring day sleeping, all she az done is sit writing but she saves the best until bedtime. She puts on LIVE ENTERTAINMENT! How good iz dis? Better than that useless blue ball she’s got me. I can’t even rip that up! I be on the look out for that running creature tomorrow. I catch it before I leave then I feel I iz proper champ! Mum and Dad, I’ve had very little in the way of hooman food since I’ve been here apart form a piece of toast but no morsel of chocolate muffin, Nana Shuffs likes to keep such delicacies to herself. I ain’t had a curry in ages and I can’t wait for one!

http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/

Advertisements

The Black Knight Diaries

A few months ago I wrote about my sister’s visiting black cat whom we’ve nick named The Black Knight. Here’s another installment.

The Black Knight isn’t her only visitor but he is far and away the favourite. He is a prince among cats. He doesn’t have that standoffish haughty nature common to some cats. He is friendly and affectionate. I have met him a few times and once he’s got used to my presence and returned from his fast exit at the sight of a stranger in his domain, he’s decided I’m OK, sitting in my vacated chair, but I digress, onto the other visitors.

Alan is a black and white cat. So named after Alan Titchmarsh the TV gardener because he comes and digs in my sister’s garden. Unlike his namesake he is not planting pretty flowers but leaving little deposits, often whilst glaring defiantly at her from his position in the flower bed. The Black Knight has often squared up to him but it hasn’t deterred him from using the flower bed as his latrine.

“Of course,” I once pointed out, “Alan might be a girl with a very pretty name like Jessica or Jemima.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” she answered, but Alan he/she remains.

Then there is Bobby Carrot. Bobby because he kind of bobs when he walks and Carrot because he is tortoiseshell but more orange. I think I have seen him over my side of the modern housing estate where we live occasionally. He is a timid little cat my sister says and Alan bullies him – or her – it could be a her.

There is the resident owl, Hootie who owns the estate, flying from her end to mine and sitting on posts by my sister’s and my neignbour’s houses making his/her presence known.

Although we live on the outskirts of a town we get lots of wildlife, foxes, squirrels, all kinds of birds, I’ve had sparrowhawks in the past and had mixed feelings about them, beautiful birds and lovely to have them in the garden but very sad when they take my little birds.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

100_0934

Here’s a conversation my sister had with The Black Knight one lovely sunny summer day. As she pegged out her washing he came running along the fence miaowing.

“Oh I’m glad you’ve come,” she said, “I want you to do some modeling for me.”

“Modeling?” queried B.K.

“Yes. For a blog.”

“Model for a blog? But I’ve come for chicken.”

“I’ll find you a treat.”

“Oh go on then.”

“Make yourself comfy.”

“I’ll sit on the bench.”

 

“Dis my best side.”

lying in the garden

“Enough now, get the chicken.”

******

Many of my novels have animal characters in them. After the Solstice (Willow’s Dip Book 2) has Chula, a beautiful Siamese cat who is a law unto herself.

Free Flight (Willow’s Dip Book 3) is set in a bird sanctuary and has many bird characters including an avian romance between a pair of snowy owls, Casper and Claudia, not to mention a ghost dog called Boris and an African grey parrot called Bramer who has a very colourful vocabulary.

The Author, The Gardener and The Woman What Does has two gorgeous rough collies, Bella and Donna and Song of the Phoenix has a Jack Russell terrier called Tim who is rather partial to toffees.

My two memoirs Shadow Across the Sun and Better or Dead have all of the pets I’ve had, loved and lost.

Animals enrich our lives and although I can’t have a pet now for health reasons I have two fur grandsons, a black and a golden labradoodle who I’m dog hotel to when their families are away. It just gives me a little animal contact.

For more information on my animal friends both real and imaginary visit my website

http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/

 

 

All’s Not Fair In Love And Indie Authors

As any indie author knows, writing the book is only half the story, the other half is flogging ourselves to death always trying to think of new and original ways of generating a few sales, and those even more elusive reviews. I don’t know about anyone else but I can have some months where I do quite well, a decent amount of sales, then others – well, least said the better.

It’s great that self publishing has now come into its own and we can get our work out there and read, hold our books in our hands, see them downloaded. What I find so unfair for indie authors everywhere is that their talent goes largely unrecognized. I can’t comment on my own books. There will always be authors who are better than me and worse than me, stories that are better than mine and worse than mine and it’s all subjective, but by and large the quality of the indie authors’ work that I have read has been superb. The majority of it is easily on a par with traditionally published authors and I still find myself asking that same question, what exactly are agents and publishers looking for? I’ve read some utter rubbish that someone ‘in the know’ has deemed fit to represent and publish when I could barely struggle to the end of the book or indeed have given up as it’s been so poor, yet many talented indies face rejection after rejection – and don’t get me started on celebrity memoirs that make a fast million for all concerned!

I read mainly indies now. The last traditionally published book I read was Jilly Cooper’s Mount and I thoroughly enjoyed it as I have most of her Rutshire Chronicles and although she is an excellent writer so are lots of undiscovered indies. I find it soul destroying for myself and other indies that we work so hard, putting our hearts and souls into our books for very little recognition.

Looking at the various marketing techniques that indie authors use, it all seems very hit and miss and I still draw the same conclusion. It isn’t enough just to have the talent to craft a story and promote it, we all need an element of luck, right place, right time, and I think it doesn’t go amiss if your face fits either. I don’t think there’s any magic formula. All we can do is keep on keeping on and just hope that one day that little bit of luck comes for us.

4 books

It’s That Time of Year Again

Garland bauble

Here we are again, approaching Christmas, time to dig out and dust off the decorations, get the cards written, the presents wrapped and sent to Santa. Time to assess the year.

It’s been a good year for our family. My youngest son got married in July and despite the fact that since June we barely had a dry day we did very well for weather. It stayed dry until around 8 p.m. and the sun even put in a shy appearance at times. My old M.E plagued body behaved itself after the resting I’d done the previous week – no reading, no writing to bring on headaches, nothing strenuous to overdo it physically – I think I must have had help from the angels to keep me going, although I did go to the room for a rest about 6ish and missed the cutting of the cake and the first dance! Thank goodness for the videographer!

The next good news came when my eldest son and his fiancee announced that they were to become parents for the third time so my writing has taken a back seat to baby knitting recently.

Baby Hugg boots

(pattern for baby boots from Marianna’s lazy daisy days)

I had my own brush with success in July when I received a runner up award in the Too Write literary competition run by my local newspaper The Sentinel for my short story Arms of Angels. A fabulous afternoon at the awards ceremony with my friend Connie to accompany me. Even though it lashed it down with rain we were undercover.

100_1672

Award in place

The full account of the afternoon can be read in another blog post. The full story Into The Arms of Angels is in my short story collection Just A Moment, as is the seasonal story The Sinister Bauble, which can also be read in another blog post.

The Sinister Bauble as the title suggests is the story of a bauble that doesn’t quite belong on the Christmas tree with the cherubs and Santa but the owner can’t quite bring herself to get rid of it for reasons she’d rather not confront.
My other seasonal story is The Journey, the title story of that collection. This story is part fact, part fiction. I did indeed have a wicked stepmother, and I lived in the North East of England for 3 years in the 70s with my then fiance/husband, and I’ve traveled that route in the story many times although I altered the end of it for the purpose of the story – we used to finish our journey on the M6 and A500 but in the story I used the A34 to Newcastle under Lyme. I actually lived in Werrington in the Staffordshire Moorlands in my youth. These are the almost factual parts of the story. The rest is fiction, and how I’d like to have served up a healthy dose of Christmas retribution to the family my dad saddled us with, who robbed my sister and I of our inheritance.

A Very Special Visitor

As my recent posts have been about animals I have known I couldn’t leave out a special little fur person: my sister’s visitor, a very beautiful, sleek black cat. We call him The Black Knight although that is not his real name, but it suits him. He has a charmed  life of his own choosing. He is like The Tramp in Disney’s Lady and The Tramp, he has different homes he visits for different treats. It all began several years ago when his owners moved house.

He didn’t want to go. No sooner had they moved than he found his way back to his own old home, calling on his old human friends who had treats for him; chicken at my sister’s house, and no matter how many times his owners came back for him he still returned. He knew where he wanted to live.

His owners asked my sister if she’d like to keep him but she said she wouldn’t because if he didn’t show up she’d worry. As it is he visits his other homes for his treats – someone must feed him because he looks well nourished, fine glossy coat and is in good condition but no-one knows where he goes in between visits. I’d love someone to put a tracking collar on him to see but that would infringe on his freedom – he’s streetwise, he wears no collar. I worry about him in the bad weather, if he’s found shelter whilst he’s out ‘catting’ (he’s neutered so he’s a respectable gentleman and doesn’t harass the lady felines of the neighbourhood) and I’m always relieved when my sister says he’s called. She’s now added tuna sticks to his treats but chicken is his favourite.

She says he comes running along the fence miaowing when she’s in the garden, torn between keeping his balance and rushing lest she goes in and shuts the door without seeing him. He likes it best on warm days when the back door is open and he can go in and out at will, have a snooze on the dining room chair under the table if it takes his fancy.

He’s a tough cookie. She’s seen him stalking his patch when she herself can’t sleep and is peering out of the window at the nocturnal activities of the close; he can hold his own, but then he has a vulnerable side. A side that likes to hear a human voice, have a bit of affection, a pair of legs to rub around, and a favourite place to sit next to his old mate Scooby Doo the door stop.

He really is a beauty, inside and out. As my sister says, a lovely soul inside a pusscat, a phrase I stole for my last post, but don’t take my word for it have a look for yourself. Here he is. The Black Knight.

 

 

Animal Friendships

Two very special animals helped my sister and I through one of the most difficult periods of our lives. One was a black miniature poodle called Candy, the other a tortoiseshell cat called Tiger.

We were raw from the death of our mother, me at 13, my sister at 8 so my cousin gave us one of her dogs – she bred poodles. Candy had the sweetest temperament and put up with any amount of mauling when we kept picking her up and fussing her but in the first few weeks my heart went out to her as she flew to the window with the sound of every car, looking to see if they’d come back for her.

Some years passed and the edge left the rawness of our grief but the void left by our mother was still there and we all missed her dreadfully. Dad lost all interest in everything. Our bungalow and its once beautiful garden looked as bereft as we felt, the lawns and borders were overgrown, an ideal place for a little stray cat, not much more than a kitten herself, to make a nest to have her babies. Two large dogs lived across the road and those kittens wouldn’t stand a chance if they got hold of them.

“Can we take her in Dad? Pleeeease?”

“No! I can’t abide cats, they go after the birds.”

“Just until she’s had her kittens?”

He sighed. He was beaten. He didn’t care about anything anymore. “Just until it’s had its kittens, then it’s going.”

We called her Tiger because of her colouring. She and Candy although not getting off to the best of starts became best friends. To read the full story of their friendship, how Candy mothered the kittens and also our family story my memoir Shadow Across the Sun is available from Amazon as an ebook and also paperback with the old cover. For the new cover in paperback go to feedaread.com. The price is about the same when you take P&P into account.

The two beautiful souls wrapped up in that little cat and dog, not forgetting those of the kittens saw my sister and I through very dark days. Here are a few pictures of them. I apologize for the quality, they date from the 1970s.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Across-Sun-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B007V42ON4/ref=sr_1_8?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1500369383&sr=1-8&keywords=sherrie+lowe

https://www.feedaread.com/books/Shadow-Across-the-Sun-9781781760499.aspx

 

 

 

 

Awards Ceremony, Trentham

When I entered my short story Arms of Angels in our local newspaper The Sentinel’s Too Write competition in May I never expected to hear anymore. I was delighted therefore when Jenny Amphlett, their Senior Journalist emailed me to say it had been shortlisted and invited me to the awards ceremony at Trentham Gardens Awards Village where Staffordshire University hold their graduation ceremonies. I asked my friend Connie (Carmel for anyone who’s read my memoir Better or Dead) if she’d be my guest and I was very pleased when she agreed.

Martin Tideswell, the Editor in Chief of The Sentinel announced the winners and said that no-one would leave empty handed. I thought, ‘Oh, we must all get a certificate or something then. How nice.’ He said that there had been 900 entries for the 3 categories: poetry for children, a short story for 11-18 year olds and a short story for adults. There was a winner and two runners up in each category. I was absolutely thrilled to be a runner up and be presented with a most beautiful award of a framed extract of my story.

Afterwards there were photographs and I’d also taken my own camera and asked Connie if she’d take one of me with my award.

“Oh yes,” said she, “but I usually cut heads off.”

“I’ll take one for you duck,” said a voice beside me, “if you tell me what to do,” and I looked to see Martin, the editor of The Sentinel, so I was honoured indeed!

Connie and I had a fabulous afternoon and we met some lovely people. The rain lashed it down outside but it didn’t matter, we were undercover, and ponchos were provided to get to our transport, as Connie models so beautifully! Below is my runner up entry if anyone would like to read it. It and some other stories and poems can be found in my collection Just A Moment available in ebook from Amazon and paperback from feedaread.com

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-Moment-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B0163BTKXW/ref=sr_1_13?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1499939814&sr=1-13&keywords=sherrie+lowe

https://www.feedaread.com/books/Just-A-Moment.aspx

 

Into the Arms of Angels

 

There are bright, white lights all around me and a strong, sterile smell. I don’t want to be here, in this alien environment. I was warm, secure, cradled in a crimson world. The sounds of my mother’s heartbeat, the gurgling of her stomach, the functioning of her body all soothing me, comforting me. I could move, stretch my tiny, newly developed limbs in my translucent bubble; I was happy, safe but then everything changed. The stability of my world began to shift. I felt myself pulled, torn away from my anchor, sucked out into a passage, ripped out and thrust into this white light. My tiny body is now discarded, dropped into a stainless steel tray. I am forgotten, like the bright, pretty paper concealing a gift. All attention is on my mother. She is the gift.
A woman is bending over her as she lies on the bed.
“That’s it Becky, all over.”
She means me when she says ‘all over.’ I’m something to be got rid of. I want to cry from the trauma but my lungs aren’t functioning. Inside me my soul is screaming. I have been brutally wrenched from my pulsing cocoon and out into this cold, cold light. I am not welcomed by anyone and as my mother is cared for, the life slips out of my twenty week old earthly form.
My spirit rises from what is left in that tray. Up, up so that I am looking down upon the woman who was responsible for my creation, and now ultimately my destruction. She is pale, her dark hair falling onto the pillow. Her face looks drawn, shows signs of pain. It is not an unkind face but she has done this terrible thing to me. Why? Why has she chosen to terminate my life before I had a chance to live it? In four more weeks I’d have been termed as viable, too old to be aborted. I know this because although my body was too young to be born, my mind too young to think, my soul is old, it has existed for millennia.
I don’t know the circumstances of my conception, how I came to be. I couldn’t have been planned or I wouldn’t be here now, floating, free of the lifeless form in the tray starved of the nourishment it needed to sustain it.
What do I do? Where do I go?
I watch as my mother is helped from the bed and shown into another room.
“Take all the time you need,” the woman is saying to her.
I drift through the wall and see other women. They are all here for the same reason as my mother, to terminate the life of their unborn child. I feel a flare of anger aimed at my mother. For a moment I hate her for depriving me of an earthly life. What would it have been like? What might I have done?
I have never known love. Did she ever love me? What was her reaction to learning of my being, and what of my father? Is he around? Are they a couple? If they are why has he allowed her to do this? Maybe he has left her – or maybe he hasn’t and I just came along at the wrong time. Perhaps I got in the way of her career, or perhaps she was just too young. My soul has all of these questions and no-one can give it the answers it desires.
I suddenly want to be away from her. For whatever reason, she didn’t want me and I have no wish to linger where I am not wanted. I drift through the building and out through its exterior wall. I am not alone; there is a boy. He is like me. Although we do not have a body – that is now lifeless in the stainless steel tray – we take on its shape in our diaphanous form. It is a grey, overcast day with a light drizzle falling but we do not feel the rain. Our souls gravitate towards each other and he takes my hand.
We do not speak, we communicate by thought. He feels angry too, just like me. He is two weeks older than me, only two weeks away from that day of safety, the twenty four week milestone when he would have been allowed to continue his earthly life. He knows how he came to be. His mother was raped by an older man, a friend of her father’s. The boy had felt his soul being drawn towards the cluster of cells which were to become his earthly body. From that point he’d known he’d never be loved or wanted. He hadn’t wanted his soul to be trapped in that unloved body only to be rejected. His anger has never been directed towards his mother but to the higher force that assigned him that conception.
I don’t know how he knows about his conception when I don’t know about mine. I wonder whether I really want to know. Would it benefit my soul’s ease to know? The end result would be the same but maybe if I knew I wouldn’t feel this anger towards my mother.
The boy gently pulls my hand. I don’t know where we are going but I become aware that we are not alone. The atmosphere is filled with souls: the souls of old people, young people, male and female, all unseen by the mortals walking the earth below. We are borne upwards by an invisible force. I sense we are being guided somewhere; somewhere permanent, somewhere from where we won’t be able to return to this atmosphere. I’m not ready to go there yet. I want to explore this realm that I am never to be a part of before I leave it completely but I want the boy to come with me; I feel a connection to him.
I pull on his hand and we thread our way, wispy as mist, through the souls rising upwards. We are still being guided to that higher place but I feel I must make this deviation, just one look around the earth that I must leave behind before I’ve ever come to know it.
We float westward, away from the buildings in the city. There is a park on the outskirts. The rain has eased and the sun has come out, bestowing its warmth on every living creature, every growing plant. We see mothers pushing buggies, mothers who love their babies and for a moment we feel bereft. I feel his pain and he feels mine. If our souls had been drawn towards one of those small bodies whose hands and feet waved around from within their carriages we’d have known earthly love, but we know it won’t do to dwell on such notions. Someone far greater than us has decided our fate.
We leave the park and travel on, all the time rising higher in the atmosphere, the world below us getting smaller and farther away. We move over hills and fields dotted with cows and sheep; we see birds fly and we rise ever upward.
We leave the earth’s atmosphere and drift up through the cosmos, up through the stars in their constellations. All the time we feel lighter, happier. Now we are glad we are where we are. There is a sudden urgency to reach our destination, our new realm. A voice is calling to us but we cannot see a face.
“Serafina, Gabriel.”
We know that the disembodied sound means us. I am Serafina, the boy is Gabriel. Had we had earthly lives other names would have been chosen for us but these are the names of our souls.
We are drawn towards the voice on a current of air. We see light and we are pulled ever closer to it as if by an invisible thread. As we draw nearer there is the outline of an ethereal being clad all in white and we hear a single beat of strong, white wings. Comfort and serenity fill our souls and we feel ourselves enveloped by a benevolent force. We’ve reached our journey’s end and are welcomed into the arms of angels.

 

 

A Bit of Doggy History

I often think of my two rough collies, Sheba and Jodi, my girlies as I used to call them, my beautiful Lassie dogs. They both feature throughout their lives in my memoir Better or Dead although it is many years now since they went over rainbow bridge but I think of them often and have never had another dog since.

Their stories begin on page 45 of the paperback, not sure of the page number in the ebook, when Sheba came to us. I was so excited to go and pick her up but I hadn’t realized what a traumatic experience it would be for her. With a cavalier attitude I’d ignored my husband’s suggestion to take a towel to put on my knee in the car. What a mistake that turned out to be!

Sheba 9 weeks old

My dream had always been to breed and show rough collies but it went wrong in spectacular fashion. When Sheba was 2 years old I was told by another breeder that she should have her first litter before she got any older. After much research we duly booked a suitable stud dog for our little princess and traveled to York from Stoke-on-Trent to have her mated. That didn’t quite go to plan but she seemed to enjoy the experience and her pregnancy progressed well. The birth of the puppies was more or less straightforward once it got going but afterwards….! What a disaster!

Sheba didn’t take well to motherhood and most of the puppies didn’t survive. We were advised by a couple of young and inexperienced vets to just keep two. It was absolutely heartbreaking and not an experience I wanted to repeat, either for myself or for the dog.

The full story begins on page 102 of the paperback, again not sure of the page in the ebook but it follows on from February 1979. As it is a memoir the book covers all aspects of my family life including my struggle with M.E/C.F.S, my sons’ pet rabbits Jazz and Ziggy, also now over rainbow bridge, as well as Sheba and Jodi’s life stories. Our pets play such a big part in our lives and I hope that when it’s my turn to leave this mortal coil that they will all be there to welcome me.

Better or Dead ebook plus paperback old cover available from amazon, paperback updated version from feedaread.com

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Better-Dead-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B00JNS6TRS/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1499512423&sr=1-3&keywords=sherrie+lowe

Funny How Things Turn Out

They say life mirrors art, or is it art mirrors life? I’m never sure, but aspects of my stories have a way of happening, which is why I’m very wary about killing characters off or giving them illnesses or making terrible things happen to them; I don’t want to tempt Fate and bring it on anyone I know or love.

Since writing The Author, The Gardener and The Woman What Does two things have come to pass: I now have a gardener and a cleaner myself. Two wonderful people who both do a fabulous job, much better than I could do even before M.E took its toll on my old body.

They’re nothing like the characters in my book. Both are happily married to other people. Both come to me on different days. I don’t feed them as Tess does in my story other than a drink and maybe a cake that Mr Kipling has made, my energy levels don’t run to cooking. My gardener doesn’t use an electric mower and strimmer but petrol ones, something I’d have known if the gardener had come before the idea for the story.

I found them both by chance. I’d been needing them for a while as I was finding it increasingly difficult to manage both the garden and the housework due to my health condition. My gardener pushed a flyer through my door and my cleaner came from a chat to my cousin who I knew was very particular who she had in her house and I feel very comfortable with both, which I think is so important. In the past I’ve had people do jobs for me who I couldn’t wait to get out of the house. If I don’t feel comfortable with people they don’t set foot in my house again once I’ve got them out. As it is I’ve got a great electrician, plumber, decorator, mechanic, etc, a good network, all found over time.

As for dogs, I gave Tess in the book two rough collies after the two I’d had when I was younger. Mine were Sheba and Jodi, mother and daughter; hers were Bella and Donna, sisters. I’ve always been a rough collie person since reading Enid Blyton’s Shadow the Sheepdog when I was ten but I wouldn’t want another dog, not got the energy to look after one. I’m a dog hotel to my fur grandsons Ralphy and Rooney, my sons’ two labradoodles when they go on holiday. I don’t have them together, tried it once for an afternoon, never again, they go wild, but we usually let them have a visit and a rampage round the garden when I’ve got one of them. Their visits satisfy any yen I may have for a dog, they are nice to have and nice to give back.

Like Tess in the story I’ve published several books. Unlike her they haven’t made me millions. For that I am still waiting! As for the romance – too old, too ill, too worn out. By and large I’m content on my own. I don’t want to be washing someone’s boxers and socks or cooking their meals when I haven’t got enough energy to get through the day. The crime part of the story? I’ll pass on that too thanks!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Author-Gardener-Woman-What-Does-ebook/dp/B008C7NBYU/ref=sr_1_11?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1499334315&sr=1-11&keywords=sherrie+lowe

You’ve Written One Memoir, Should You Write Another?

Better or Dead, my second memoir follows on from Shadow Across the Sun, beginning on my wedding day.  Not everyone likes memoirs but I love them, not celeb lets-make-an-easy-million ones or the typical Jeremy Kyle stuff but those of every day people, I love to read about how they deal with both the good and bad that life throws at them.

I got married for all the right reasons; I adored him, but as I stood there taking my vows an errant thought flashed through my mind, ‘This is absolutely right now but how can I say I’m going to feel the same in 20 years time?’ I pushed it away and got lost in the day.

The first flaw appeared with my first pregnancy. My loving husband decided half way through that he wanted neither wife nor baby. I was devastated, at a time that should have been the happiest of our lives. I wanted to feel cherished, loved, both me and my unborn child, not rejected.

Time passed, divorce was inevitable but worse than my failed marriage was my failing health. I didn’t mourn the loss of my marriage but I grieved relentlessly for my former life, the life when my body hadn’t let me down, and I still grieve for that life to this day.

M.E, myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, C.F.S, destroys lives. Sufferers look well so are not believed by society and worse still by the medical profession. I couldn’t believe it when I read, ‘Your first hurdle will be getting your G.P to accept it.’ How could they not? I was ill. How could they dispute that? But dispute it they did and the years that followed, by then a single parent, were the biggest challenge of my life.

I’ve updated the cover to give it a more personal touch. The background image is a photo my son took when he was out dog walking in the Derbyshire Peak District, somewhere I used to love in my well days but can sadly no longer walk in myself. The inset picture is of a makeover I had when I was 50, slap bang in the middle of M.E, so you see on days when I’m well enough to get out for an hour there doesn’t look a thing wrong with me. Here’s a short excerpt from the book.

‘I’d thought that my strange weak attacks were a thing of the past and I’d be fine after having a rest during August. Everything had got on top of me: the divorce, the solicitor, the building society, the worry over Dad’s and Auntie Eth’s illnesses; I’d been spinning out of control on that speeding carousel of stress. However whilst I thought I’d be fine, my body had other ideas.
Occasionally I’d leave the boys playing in their rooms on their video games if I was only going to be out for a few minutes. One such time I only needed a few things from Wilkinson’s in town and would be no more than half an hour. I parked up and was just about to get out of the car when an overwhelming wave of exhaustion swamped me.
‘I can’t do it,’ I thought.
The vision of the shop full of people and queues at the tills engulfed me.
‘What if I go weak again and can’t get out quickly enough?’ the voice of panic said.
‘Don’t be ridiculous! You’ll be fine,’ said the scathing voice of reason.
I got out of the car and walked up the street at the side of the bus station on legs of jelly. Every step was forced and the words alternately pounding my brain were, ‘I can’t do it.’ ‘Yes you can.’ ‘I can’t do it.’ ‘Yes you can.’
In the end ‘I can’t do it,’ won and I turned round and almost ran back to the car trembling from head to toe. It resulted in another visit to the doctors.
I saw Dr Collins and he gave me some tablets called dothiepin and referred me to the community psychiatric nurse, (CPN) who gave me a relaxation tape to follow. She also said that to turn round was the worst thing I could have done. I didn’t agree; to have gone on would have produced a negative experience like the one in Asda. She gave me bits of advice after assessing me and when I said that I couldn’t do things, or get to places she had this to say.
“If your sons needed you now, at this minute you’d get there.”
Of course she was right but it would be the after effects that would be the problem, the weakness that would follow. Clearly they were treating this as a psychological illness and no-one was addressing the physical problem of the weakness. However, I expected the two things to have a magical effect on my weird feelings.
To try and help myself I bought endless packets of Lucozade energy tablets and drank Lucozade glucose drink to give me energy. I also tried tonics but nothing helped.
On the second day trip to Llandudno the weather had changed and it was overcast and chilly. Barry, the boys and I went in my car this time and I drove. As I followed Alistair down the A55 I was fighting to stay awake. I was never so thankful to see a McDonald’s where we stopped for breakfast. I think it was the influence of the tablets but I felt uptight trying to stay awake. I thought I’d have a doze when we got to the beach although it wasn’t sunbathing weather and we were wearing jackets as opposed to the swimwear of the last visit.
I’d expected to fall asleep straight away considering I was so tired but I was wrong; my brain was on overdrive and I couldn’t drop off. Instead I leaned up and watched with the others as Alistair flew Cassie’s pink bunny rabbit kite and she clapped her hands with delight. The wind was so strong it pulled the string right off the handle and the kite fluttered delicately over the rooftops, much to his and Cassie’s dismay.
They both said, “Oh no,” Alistair in a resigned, helpless tone, Cassie in an altogether more grief stricken one as she watched the wind carry her kite out of sight.
We all fell about laughing except for Cassie who had to be pacified with the promise of a new kite.
After our picnic lunch we wandered round the town as we had before. Matt wanted to go into a shop to get a footballer’s name printed on the back of his new Man U away shirt and as we stood in the queue I could feel myself getting weaker and weaker.
“I’m going to have to go back to the car,” I said and Alistair agreed to wait in the queue with Matt while all the rest of us went back to the cars.
“I can’t drive,” I told Barry, “you’ll have to.”
I must have felt ill to allow someone else behind the wheel of my precious car but I couldn’t have driven if my life had depended on it. Presently Alistair and Matt joined us, Matt all smiles sporting Lee Sharpe’s name on the back of his shirt. We stopped somewhere for chips and I felt fractionally better after a rest and something to eat but I could neither walk nor drive so Barry drove home.’

If you are interested in the paperback it will be better to buy from the publisher feedaread.com (link below) as any stocked by Amazon marketplace may be the old cover. It’s also slightly cheaper from feedaread and P&P is about the same as Amazon. The ebook is available from Amazon with this cover.

If you purchase, many thanks and I hope you enjoy it and fellow M.E sufferers may relate to my experience, also divorcees/single parents. A review on its Amazon page would be most welcome, thank you.

https://www.feedaread.com/books/Better-or-Dead-9781784075842.aspx

Better or Dead