Most of you are far too young to remember the film South Pacific. It was a lifetime ago and probably the first film I ever saw on the big screen with my mum. It featured a song called “Cock Eyed Optimist” which popped into my head today when I read my book sales report on Amazon.
I’ve sold 30 Copies of “Princess Tess and Her Mess” and that makes me so excited! It means the story I wrote, and the beautiful front cover illustrated by my daughter, is sitting on someone’s coffee table or bookshelf. Even better, the story has reached thirty children. I’ve had great reviews from adults too.
All of these things make me extremely happy. I don’t write to make money, it helps, but it’s not what motivates me.
I hope it made thirty children and adults smile. I want everyone to love Princess Tess. I think she has more adventures to share.
If you want to make me ecstatic (and it doesn’t take much), click on the link below and help me double those sales…
I started writing again just over 10 years ago. Not really sure what sparked it. I hadn’t written since I was in my early (troubled teens). Suddenly, when I hit my fifties, stories began flooding my brain and screaming to be let out. The first story to emerge was “Guy at the Bar”, which brought back lovely memories of a small village in North Yorkshire called Brompton on Swale. Tears flowed as I wrote about my parents, how I miss them. If there really is an after life, they’ll be looking down at me and shaking their head and saying, “Our Sandra, a rebel to the end.” Guy at the Bar wasn’t a best seller, but it piqued my interest and more stories followed. I recently re-wrote Guy at the Bar, and bundled it into a collection of short, slightly scary stories, called “Ghosts on the Sand and other chilling tales.” It’s still for sale on Amazon, along with my second book “Dead of July.” Ghosts on the SandDead of July – Amazon Now I’m retired and have a little more time on my hands so I’m writing again. I’ve just finished a Children’s book, inspired by my daughter’s pup Tess. I took care of Tess for a short time while my daughter and her husband vacationed in Japan. I never knew dogs could be so funny, or have so much character. I adjusted my mindset to write for children. I also had to think like a puppy. It was a blast to write. “Princess Tess and her Mess” will be published sometime this year. The pictures above are my mum and dad. I never stop missing them. On the right is the King William IV, where Guy at the Bar came to life. Writing makes me happy!
I started writing my children’s book in March 2020. At the time I wasn’t sure why. Princess Tess is cute, funny, and it was definitely fun looking after her, but why did I write about her? Looking back, I think I have the answer. The world, as I knew it, was beginning to fall apart. The coronavirus was slowly rearing its ugly head. My husband was in Italy, and I wasn’t sure he’d make it back, luckily he did. As the year continued, the US suffered the worst racial problems I’d ever witnessed, and being married to a Jamaican, that worried me. I was scared for my husband and for my daughter. I’d never seen such hatred displayed in public. It was ugly and terrifying. Last, but not least, there was Brexit, which threatened our move to the Italy as British Citizens. We hadn’t planned to move until 2022, but Brexit forced our hand. When I look back at last year, and the stress of it all, I wonder how I survived. With the help of some great friends and colleges, I made it through some very tough times. We sold our family home, which to my surprise and horror, was snapped up quickly. We gave away, sold and donated all of our furniture. I left a job I loved and moved to Italy. Most of this was condensed into three months. So why did I write a children’s book about a funny mixed up pup? It was my great escape! Watch out for “Princess Tess Mess”, which is currently being illustrated by my daughter.
Yesterday I got my manuscript back from my editor. She has completed the first set of edits. For some reason I love reading through the stories again in edit mode. Not sure why. It gives me more pleasure with red lines and dots that it ever did when I read it prior to sending to her. Maybe I’m reading the story in a different way. Maybe subconsciously I’m happy it’s on its way to being finished. Or maybe I’m just a freak, yes, I think thats more likely. This book has been fun to write. I enjoy writing short stories, and this was surprisingly easy to pour from my brain onto the keyboard. Tess is a real living dog. She’s cute and funny, which coming from a “cat person” is a huge compliment. I hope to follow this first book with two more, and then what? Do I return to fantasy/thrillers? Or do I write another children’s series? It remains to be seen!
My first children’s book is finished. I didn’t think about it much, just wrote. Finally finished it and re-read it, then I edited it and re-read it again…you see a pattern here? Finally I decided to jump in with both feet and send it to my editor. She responded immediately with “What age group is this for?” “What?” I’d never given it a thought. I just wrote. What was I thinking writing a children’s book? What do I know about children’s books. I was hit with about twenty minutes of nail biting anxiety. Then I took a deep breath and asked myself some questions. 1. Did I enjoy writing the book? – YES 2. Am I expecting to sell a million copies? – NO 3. Why did I write the book? – Because I had a story in my head that needed to get out If nothing else, in years to come when I’m dead and gone, my daughter will be able to tell people I wrote a book about her cute little dog. Writing is an addiction, but not a bad one.
My move to Italy slowed down my writing a little. Settling into a new routine took a while. Finally I’m there. As many of you know, writing isn’t something you can force yourself to do. It has to flow. As I re-read my book I realize I’ve rambled a little to much, it needs to be trimmed to 10,000 words or less, I’m currently over 11,000. Short stories have to be just that, short! I’ve also changed the name. Originally it was “Queen Tess – a Short Shaggy Dog Story”, but after chatting to my daughter (Tess’s Human), I’ve decided the book will be called “Princess TessMess”. This is a much better title. Tess is a bit of a mess and “Princess TessMess” is perfect for a children’s book. Stay tuned, my work is progressing! Writing will never make me rich, but it does make me happy!
“Tess, where are. You?” You just shooed me away, now you are calling my name. I’m going back to bed. Sandra worried when she couldn’t see Tess anymore and finished her shower quickly. “Oh, there you are. Sleepy dog!” I’m not sleepy, I’m bored. “I need to get ready for work.” I’ve heard the work word before, I don’t like it. “OK time to make the bed and get the spare room ready for you, I really hope you’ll be alright on your own all day.” Once she’d covered the bed with Tess’s fluffy blanket, she threw toys around the room and made sure Tess’s bowls contained enough water and dried food to last the day. I know what’s going on now, you’re getting ready to leave me alone aren’t you. Just me, with no Fendi to keep my company, just me. All alone! “Oh dear, I don’t like doing this! Come on Tess, one more quick walk before I go.” Rabbits! Let’s find some rabbits! It was a very quick walk because Tess watered the grass as soon as they got outside. “Good Dog! Now I really need to leave for work.” I don’t want to go back inside. I want to play with rabbits. Tess had to be coaxed back through the front door. Sandra found one of the puppy toys you could hide treats in and put something in the shape of little chickens inside it. Tess picked up the scent immediately and followed her closely, until the got to the stairs, and then she had to be carried. “Oh Tess, I’m sorry I have to do this.” Sandra rolled the treat filled toy across the room. Tess ran after it immediately. Sandra shut the door and hurried downstairs. Silence! “Phew.” She got into her car and went to work!
This is my first children’s story. Inspired by Tess, a cute pup that belongs to my daughter and son in law. I looked after her for three weeks back in January 2020, before the world was turned upside down. It was an experience for me, never having taken care of a dog before. She won my heart and I found myself leaving work as early as possible because I worried about her. COVID/Trump/2020 sucked me dry. I had no imagination left. What spare time I had was spent getting my US house ready to sell. My heart ached because, although I really wanted to move to Italy, I was sad to leave my daughter and her pups behind. I was sad because I would be leaving my job and all of my friends, but it was time. Now I’m writing again and as I re-read Queen Tess – A short Shaggy Dog Tale, I realize I wasn’t capturing her character. She was a baby when she stayed with me. I had portrayed her as a much older dog. Now, as I re-write the story, I’m making her childlike, which of course she is. The re-write is fun. I laugh out loud sometimes as I remember the things she did. When my book is finished, what next? Who knows, maybe back to thrillers, or perhaps a travel story. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you’ll visit again! Stay safe.