Feeding Cats and Writing - A Guest Post From Sharon Cracknell
"Your Mum is not well at all...she is having an emergency brain scan". This was the email my Dad had sent to me desperately trying to get in touch with me. I was oblivious and happily travelling in West Africa with no phone or computer to be contacted on. As you can imagine, Internet cafes haven't yet reached Guinea Bissau or Côte d'Ivoire. When we reached Accra in Ghana, a lovely couple I had met, Lynn and David who lived in the Blue Mountains in Australia, kindly let me borrow their computer to check my inbox.
Fouta Djallon, Guinea, West Africa - Lynn and David are far right
The Sad News
The news was shocking. I immediately left on the next flight the following morning. My Mum, who had battled cancer for four years was now diagnosed with numerous brain tumours and her mental health had deteriorated rapidly. Over the next six months my Dad and I helped nurse my Mum who sadly lost her battle with cancer in October 2013.
Lynn and David's house in Warrimoo, Australia - my beautiful writing retreat
Feeding Cats and Writing
During this time Lynn and David had kept in constant contact with me and knew what a tough time it had been. Then one of their many emails ended with "an opportunity is currently available for a house sitter to escape an English winter....". They were off travelling to a South America for six months in January. They needed a sitter for not just their house but their three cats too. This was perfect! I could hear all the comments my friends had made over the years..."I love your travel e-mails they make me laugh"..."you should write a book about all your adventures"..."I feel like I'm there with you". This was my time to write a book. No work contract or travelling. Just living in the Blue Mountains feeding cats and writing!
A writing free day trekking in the Blue Mountains, Australia
My Retreat in the Blue Mountains
After attending a two-day travel memoir writing course at the Australian Writers' Centre in Sydney I was back in my temporary home in Warrimoo writing my debut book titled 'Pringles, Visas and a Glow in the Dark Jesus'. It is a travel memoir filled with humorous observations and light-hearted recollections of my adventures overseas. It was such an achievement for me. I loved every day of writing. It helped that I had my own writing retreat in the beautiful Blue Mountains in Australia! I’m not sure I would have been inspired to write a book had I been at home and cramming a couple of hours a night after working all day.
The Writers and Artists Yearbook
From the writing course, I had learned of the Writers and Artists Yearbook which is an invaluable practical guide on who to contact and how to get published. It is like the Yellow Pages of publishers and literary agents. As the 1970's slogan instructed I 'let my fingers do the walking'! I sent details of my book (still can't get used to saying, 'my book'!) to numerous publishers and literary agents.
My book is stocked and selling in The Grove Bookshop, Ilkley, West Yorkshire
Writing My Book was the Easy Part!
Unbelievably I had five offers! Not everyone looked particularly appealing but as soon as I did some research I knew Austin Macauley was the publisher I wanted to publish 'my book'. From signing their contract, it has been a rollercoaster of book cover designing to radio and TV interviews. For me this is the hard part! Writing my book was easy. It's the marketing and social media that needs my constant attention that's the difficult part. But it's my book and I will continue to pester whoever I can to make it a success.
My first TV book interview on Made in Leeds TV
'Pringles, Visas and a Glow in the Dark Jesus' is dedicated to my Mum, whose constant thoughtfulness made my book possible. I just wish she was here to read it. P.S. There is no photo of my Mum as she detested having her picture taken and would be horrified to think I'd placed one on a public blog post!