As you can see from the date of my previous post below, I’m taking a break from regular blogging.
I started this blog in May 2009 as I felt I’d reached a watershed in my writing, and I wanted to reflect on the ups and downs of my career as a novelist and poet.
I’ve enjoyed all the activities I’ve listed in the chart below, and although these have taken away more time than I’d wanted from my own creative writing, I’m hoping that this semi-fallow period will prove as productive as this wild poppy field!
If you’re new to this blog and want to find out more about me, click here and for more about my novels, click here
If you want to read a few tips about writing a book, click here and if you are interested in poetry, take a look at my Poetry page
In the past two years I’ve spent less time on creating new work of my own, than I have on the business of other writerly activities.
But this doesn’t mean that I won’t be taking part in any of these things!
I’ll still be happy to consider giving talks and/or running workshops, if you’d like to contact me by sending a message via the ‘Contact Me’ page above.
‘WordPress’ will forward any message to my personal email address, so please do let me know if you have read and enjoyed one or other of my novels, or have any other comments on my work. As you can see on this chart, you can still buy my novels at a reduced price from this site
or, if you prefer, Paper Lanterns IS available from Amazon, even though they will tell you it’s ‘out of stock’. All you need to do is click where it says, ‘new sellers’ and then, if you click on the option of ‘Novel Press’, you’ll receive your copy within 2 or 3 days, direct from Novel Press, with my personal signature above the printed name on this label, that is inserted into the front of the book..
(AND Another Library Talk)
Well, it’s in the window of the Sutton Coldfield branch. What an honour to be rubbing elbows with Nick Hornby, Maeve Binchy and Colm Toibin’s Booker-shortlisted novel, Brooklyn, a novel I thoroughly enjoyed.
As in so many occasions in life, luck plays a major role: Brooklyn is one of those beautifully written miniatures which convey deep emotions with the lightest touch, but alas for Toibin, that year it happened that he was up against the vast and colourful canvas of Hilary Mantel’s magnificent Wolf Hall.
My most recent gift of luck was when I found out about the new publisher, Transita at just the right time in their short history. A few months later, and it would have been too late for The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, so I’ll always be grateful to them for their quixotic venture into the cut-throat world of publishing.
I can usually recognise and welcome good fortune when it knocks on my door – the real challenge though, is managing to remain satisfied with what can quickly be regarded as merely the first instalment , in line with the adage, ‘Much wants More.’
My real test came with the runaway success of the novel with an even more quirky title than mine: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. I was reluctant to read it, as I often find that novels which have received a huge amount of hype turn out to be a disappointment. In fact, I did enjoy it, but I felt that it didn’t quite live up to all its rave reviews. Praises that were heaped on that book, matched many of those in reviews of my own novel, and I struggled to ignore the whispers of the green eyed monster – why should Marina Lewycka have received the full lorry load of luck?
When I realised that she was the object of an interview on Radio 4, I was quite prepared to dislike her, but she seemed to have had the same struggles towards publication as I did, and came across as such a nice woman, and was so genuinely enjoying her good fortune that all my resentments evaporated, and I was able to feel happy for her.
OK, so I haven’t been able to give up my day job, but there have been numerous pleasures in becoming a ‘published novelist’ that I am still enjoying. One of the best of these is being invited to visit reading and/or writing groups to talk about my books. Last Friday I was at Weoley Castle Library in a cosy meeting room with every chair taken and a beautiful, working ‘blind’ dog at the feet of its young owner. As usual, I probably talked too much and didn’t give enough time for questions, but everyone (except the golden retriever) seemed to be interested, and several bought copies of both my books, after one had announced that Paper Lanterns
would make a good Christmas present.
What a clever idea – it would make a great Christmas present and a warming good read in this icy weather!! Maybe I’ll produce a Christmas postcard from this photo - it looks suitably festive. If anyone wants to order a copy of Paper Lanterns (or The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society) from this site before 24th December, I’d be happy to enclose a card with it. Just let me know, via the ‘Contact Me’ page above.
BY THE WAY - CLARISSA’S INTERVIEW, featuring my tiny contribution, (see the post below for more info) WILL BE SHOWN AT 10.00 IN THE MORNING ON SUNDAY 5TH DECEMBER.
(The first programme of the series starts tomorrow and features June Brown (Dot from Eastenders)
I love the act of writing fiction and poetry, but can never be quite sure which of the two I enjoy most, as they each have their own rewards and frustrations. One of the unexpected pleasures of becoming a published novelist is the way that it’s led me to giving occasional talks to readers and other writers about my own writing experiences, and being invited to attend other ‘writerly’ events.
Event Number One was at Selly Oak Library, as you can see from this picture.
I’d just given a talk about my writing, an enjoyable way of spending a Monday morning.
For those of you who don’t know Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield (my home) is in the far north of edge of the city,
while Selly Oak is ten miles away on the south side.
On Wednesday evening, it was back to Selly Oak again, this time giving a talk to 30 members of Open Circle, a Ladies Group who meet once a month at the Methodist hall – an attentive and generous audience. In my previous post I wrote about my visit to Castle Vale, where I met a flourishing Reading Group, most of whom had recently read my first published novel, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, and it was wonderful to have an opportunity to hear their comments about the characters and the story-line and to answer their questions.
Meeting a new group of people who know nothing about me and my writing is equally rewarding – especially when I know that 75-year old Agnes Borrowdale, and all the other characters from that first novel, will be introduced to a new set of readers. It’s nearly five years since that book was published and I find it strange how I can still be so attached to these invented characters, especially as I now have the cast of Paper Lanterns alive in my head.
I’m lucky enough to still find interest and enjoyment in my job with Adult Education after nearly 30 years, and I’m sure that this is partly because of my career as a writer. As I’ve explained above, it’s not only the writing itself, but also what I call ‘writerly stuff’. Starting Novel Press, my own publishing venture, is a recent addition to those activities, and on Friday afternoon I’d been invited to attend a meeting for local publishers, organised by Jonathan Davidson of Writing West Midlands, at The Custard Factory.
I often feel that I don’t merit the title of ‘publisher’, since mine is still the only product of Novel Press, so I find it very encouraging when Jonathan and other experienced people ‘in the know’ take my publishing venture seriously. Alan Mahar of Tindal Street Press reminded me that when they started up ten years ago, the lottery funding for the arts was in a much better state than in this difficult financial climate. So maybe I should feel at least a little bit proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.
That was a nice feeling to take away with me on my journey down to Sussex for the weekend. I felt particularly lucky to be there on Saturday, enjoying a quiet morning in brilliant sunshine with my mother, strolling up a country lane to an ancient church which I’d hadn’t been near for decades! Click here to read more about the history of this building, and why the windows appear to have no glass!
One of my sisters lives nearby and she encouraged me to go to Seaford in the afternoon, our nearest beach.
It was almost hot in the sunshine and out of the sharp wind, but even in the shelter of the wall it wasn’t nearly warm enough
for me to venture into the sea – my sister is more hardy than I am, as you can see from this picture.
The brilliant white of the cliffs behind the beach and the bright blue green of the sea
almost convinced me that summer was still with us, but the wind gave a different message.
This might not have been her last swim of the season,
but for me it definitely seemed like the last day of summer.
So what’s the connection between Rhubarb Crumble and getting published? The first clue is: The Custard Factory. I guess that won’t help much unless you’re familiar with Birmingham’s revolutionary new arts and media quarter, opposite the Coach Station in Digbeth.
For me, the relevance of that former factory building, is the fact that it’s the home of Radio Rhubarb – of which the jewel in its crown is The Crumble, a weekly broadcast presented by the multi-talented Jan Watts
I was delighted when she invited me to be interviewed on The Crumble. She’d already emailed me the link to her programme so I knew she’s a highly competent and enthusiastic presenter.
The last time I visited the Custard Factory was several years ago (It was when I handed over the complete manuscript of The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society to Luke Brown of Tindall Street Press – although they eventually rejected that novel, it was through them, in a roundabout way, that I found a different publisher.
Yesterday, as I approached the entrance to the Custard Factory, the narrow street seemed even more colourful than before, and I don’t remember ever having seen this amazing sculpture of a giant Green Man. (You can get an impression of the scale from the man at the bottom of this picture, on the left of the green wall.)
Here’s Jan in the studio (affectionately called The Fish Bowl – as you can see from the photo above) with Kip, the calm and very efficient producer.
After an amusing pre-recorded poem about Ants (or Aunts), I was fascinated to hear Steve Ball,
Associate Director (Learning & Participation) of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, talking to Jan about his work, which he describes as “the best job in Birmingham” and he made it sound as though that could be true.
You can listen to Steve and the rest of hour-long programme by following the link. If you can’t spare a whole hour, you can click the right-hand arrow below the bar, until the orange strip is about an inch along (just above the ‘r’ in ‘player’ in the sentence: ‘Open in popout player’.) Here,
you can listen to me reading an extract from The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society. After that, Jan asks me about getting published that first time, and what happened with my next book, Paper Lanterns. I mentioned the cache of real-life love letters
(see the Sunday Mercury article)
and I read the heart-breaking letter from the young Chinese woman. You can also hear me reading the prologue to Paper Lanterns, which is set in Sutton Coldfield in 1971. This is one of the three significant periods in the novel.
You can read an extract from the middle section of the book, in which I’ve used these letters to invent a whole new storyline, in the on-line magazine, Cairns Media.
If you’d like to read the first extract published by the same on-line magazine, you can see it here.
I posted the fifth and final question of my Virtual Treasure Hunt last week, and copies of The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society have been sent to a winner in Italy and one in Scotland, while three copies of Paper Lanterns should now have arrived at their new homes in the Midlands and the South West.
Many congratulations to the winners (to be honest, there were only five people who managed to find all five answers, though several others came up with two or three. I’ve just had to go through these questions and their accompanying hints myself, and even I found some of the a bit tricky to track down!
For anyone who didn’t manage to find all five answers, here are the links to the relevant questions and these are the answers.
Question 1 ANSWER “So near, and yet …”
Q 2ANSWER “Sunday, 10 January 2010″Q 3 ANSWER “that was not there a little while ago”Q 4 ANSWER a mountain climbing Guinness drinker
Q5 ANSWER “The craft of writing a book can be learned” and “Jeffrey Archer”
I won’t ask you to detect the link between Hens and this picture. Yes, those small creatures on the bottom left of the picture do have feathers and wings and they also lay eggs, but have you ever seen hens swimming with their chicks paddling in their wake?
I don’t think this next picture will be much of a clue,
though astute followers of this blog might remember a post I’d made last August in which I’d mentioned that Kew Gardens was within walking distance of the house which my daughter and her boyfriend had just bought. This picture of Kew Pier was taken last Saturday afternoon from a pleasure boat trip that had been organised by my daughter’s friends as part of the celebrations for her Hen weekend.
They couldn’t have dreamed up a better activity for a day when the temperature reached 30 degrees – the main point of it being its lack of any activity more strenuous than climbing a short flight of steps up into the bright sunshine or down into the shade. It was lucky that the original plan for a seven-mile circular walk from Box Hill had undergone a radical change. The bride-to-be (not to speak of her mother and future mother-in-law) might have collapsed with heat-stroke. As it was, we had the cooling breezes through wide open windows below deck where we unpacked a sumptuous feast and drank pink fizz.
We were heading for Hampton Court, but this was one of those occasions when the journey was more significant than the destination. We wouldn’t had had time to visit the flower show, so we strolled through the walled gardens and breathed in the scent of a thousand roses.
On the way back I was fascinated by the sight of two boys in their canoes, using a kneeling technique that looked incredibly unstable, but was obviously a powerful way of gaining speed. I suppose that the theme of Desert Island Reads can be loosely linked to this watery picture, but more to the point, it relates to an event I’ll be taking part in this Thursday as part of Frome Festival. Scroll down a bit when you reach this link and you’ll see what I’ll be up to.
I’m really looking forward to this, and have just about made up my mind about my own Desert Island Read. I’ll let you know more about the causes of my indecision later.
No, I haven’t really got the recipe, but right now there are three subjects in my head that in a strange way seem to link up.
1: Getting published.
2: A novel for young adults called Wasted
3: An inspiring poetry Workshop
If you’ve visited this blog before, you’ll know that it’s mainly about my writing life as a poet and novelist, and that this can be split into two stages: before and after publication. The ‘before’ part is a good deal longer – I‘m an expert in the art of dealing with rejection: : it took me twenty years from completing my first novel to finding a publisher for my fourth.
You can find out here about Novel oneand Novel two. I nearly made it with Novel three, when I won a competition to receive a free read from The Literary Consultancy. Several amendments later, the novel was recommended as ‘deserving to be published’ . That was where the luck ran out: although I now had the backing of T.L.C., the agents on their list of contacts turned it down. They loved it, but not enough to take me on.
After at least forty more rejections, Novel Four was recommended for a free read from… The Literacy Consultancy! This didn’t feel like good luck to me. I’d been editing this novel, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, for over a year, and I knew that it had reached its final form. I wasn’t going to attempt yet another re-write.
I sent it anyway. Was that luck, or chance or sheer doggedness? All I know is that if I hadn’t grasped that opportunity, I wouldn’t have heard of “the new publisher, Transita about to bring out its first novel in a few months’ time”, and I wouldn’t have become the published author of The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society in October 2005. You’ll find a mention about the demise of Transita here ,and there’ll soon be more about my second way of being published.
2: A novel for young adults called Wasted by Nicola Morgan which I finished last night, made me think about the role of luck or chance in our lives, and for me, specifically, the chance that led to publication at last. Nicola has an inspiring blog, ‘Help I need a Publisher’ and has set up another for her new novel, Wasted: which, in spite of my reluctance to buy yet another novel for my t.b.a. pile, I bought.
Although when I taught English in secondary schools, I used to enjoy reading fiction for teenagers, I haven’t done so since my own children were in their teens. I’m not going to say much about Wasted here – apart from saying ‘BUY IT!’ and quoting from an email I sent her after I’d read the first six chapters: “ I love the way you kind of dance through the words on the page with such energy and sensitivity. You’re ridiculously, arrogantly original and you’re making me want to write for teenagers. (not that I could)”
Last night I couldn’t sleep until I’d finished Wasted. This morning I visited the Wasted blog and came across this review.. It expresses my thoughts and feelings exactly.On another blog, where Nicola was responding to questions about Wasted, I find her voicing my own sentiments:
“As Jack says in Wasted, “Luck is just what we call it.” I think we very largely make our own luck. Terrible things happen to people through no fault of their own, and sometimes good things happen to those who don’t deserve it, but I believe that there are lots of ways of maximising our chances in all aspects of life. With trying to be published, there are right things to do and wrong things. The more right things you do, the more likely you are to be “lucky”…”
3: Yesterday afternoon I was at an inspiring poetry Workshop in the beautiful Shakespeare Memorial Room in Birmingham, led by Mario Petrucci and organised by Jaqui Rowe of Poetry Bites. I came away feeling grounded again, and with a few notes that might become a poem. I’ve been reminded of what I need to do and, more importantly, not do. I’ll write more about this soon, but meanwhile I shall follow Mario’s advice and do - what might look like to anyone who might see me – nothing!
I was lucky enough to stumble across this wonderful blog soon after I’d made my first tentative step into the maze of Blogdom last May, Beginning my blog about creative writing.
My son had made me a website in 2005, when my first novel, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society was published, but I had to rely on him for any updates I wanted to make. Consequently, it gradually became as static as a framed picture. ‘You need to have a blog, Mum,’ he insisted, and changed my site into a Wordpress blog, something that I can actually manage for myself.
As a writer, I spend a lot of time at my computer, creating poems, stories and articles, but I know that unless they are printed, or sent elsewhere as an attachment, they’ll remain unseen in a little yellow folder, seemingly filed away somewhere behind the monitor screen where the words first arranged themselves into sentences and paragraphs.
Clicking the ‘Publish’ tab, knowing that what I’ve written will be on view for anyone across the world who happens to land on my site, is a very strange sensation.
At first, I felt every post had to be a mini-masterpiece, otherwise hundreds of critical strangers would be posting scathing comments about the standard of my writing skills. At the same time, my logical brain was telling me that the only virtual travellers to land on my site would’ve arrived there by accident, and would immediately click themselves away to somewhere more exciting.
It gradually dawned on me, prompted by Techie Son, that I was the one who needed to do the travelling. And how instructive, and what fun that has turned out to be! I’ve mentioned several other websites relating to readers and writers in some of my other posts, but as a writer, I think it would be hard to beat Essential Writers for its huge variety of topics, the standard of its articles; its welcoming attitude and support for ‘newbies’ and its ease of navigation.
Personally I have reason to be grateful to Judy Darley of Essential Writers:
for my first ‘author chat’
for my opportunity to talk about the publication of my first novel
for publishing my article about choosing a cover for my new book
and now, a wonderful review of Paper Lanterns.
And just in case you miss her ‘welcome’ page, here are Judy’s own words about Essential Writers
“If you love words, you’re in the right place. This is a website for anyone who makes their living by writing, or who wants to. This includes journalists, authors, poets, short story writers, scriptwriters, graphic novelists, and anyone else for whom the written word is essential.
Although I will be overseeing the site, adding content and ensuring you get all the information you need, the majority of the features, interviews, blogs and tips will be written by the people in the know, as well as anyone who fancies sending their words out into the world.
On the How To pages, you will find valuable explanations of complex issues such as tax, while the Essential Words section is packed with interviews with authors, editors and other inspiring people. The blogs will give you an insight into the lives of other writers, while news will let you know about writing opportunities and what’s going on where right now.”
A writer’s lot can be a happy one, in spite of the frustrations they might experience when they realise that they have to take on a large part of the task of marketing their novel once it’s published. This probably applies to most novelists these days, even if they have a major publishing house behind them. When my first novel, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, was published by Transita, a small independent imprint (now sadly no longer working in the field of fiction) I was more than happy to do my share of getting my novel into the hands of readers.
Apart from the act of writing itself, one of the main joys for me of being a writer is the feedback from readers, whether in the form of a public review on Amazon, or other people’s online journals or blogs, or a personal note in the post, or an email from an individual.
Since I am co-founder of NOVEL PRESS, and almost all my spare time is focussed on marketing its first product, (my own Paper Lanterns) at the moment have very little time for creative writing.
Paper Lanterns hasn’t been out in the world for more than a few weeks so far, and there are lots of copies already out there, but this marketing business is a hard slog. Novel Press doesn’t have quite the same access to the book distribution services as more established publishers and there are moments when I begin to feel disheartened in spite of the progress I’ve already made.
It’s the feedback which lifts my spirits, reminding me why it is that I write. Not for money, that’s for sure! People sometimes ask me whether I write for myself or for an audience, and I guess the answer is ‘ I write for both’. Before I start, I do have an of idea of my potential readership, but while I’m engaged in the act of writing, all my thoughts are focussed on the process of creating the characters and their stories.
Readers only become a reality for me when I receive their comments, and in a kind of way, this helps to complete the creative circle – the positive feedback is both a wonderful reward for my efforts and a strong motivation to continue, first with marketing, and then, (soon, I hope) with more writing.
Apart from the lovely reviews from Crysse Morrison and Linda Gillard (both quoted on the front and back cover of Paper Lanterns, and on the introductory pages,) and those from Bookcrossers, LyzzyBee and Heaven-Ali, the first written comment I received was in an email from a work colleague. The high from that sustained me for hours!
“I have now finished Paper Lanterns. I am no literary critic, as evidenced here, but, for what it’s worth, I really enjoyed it. I loved the way it felt like you were going on the journey with Ann, both physical and emotional, and having to re-evaluate opinions of the various characters, especially Vivienne. I also liked the contrast between forsaking a true love for the family and, seemingly, abandoning family to be with a true love. There were lots of interesting characters and I felt their stories and the past/present & England/Hong Kong elements intertwined really well. By re-exploring venues with Ann and George, but also by meeting new characters such as Stuart, it all rolled along well and I found myself looking forward to my bedtime reading session to find out where it was all going.”
A fascinating aspect of reviews is the way that different people focus on different aspects of the book. One of my favourite reader’s blogs is Rhapsody in Books, and I was delighted with the insightful review that Jill wrote a few days ago. I wholeheartedly recommend you to browse though her reviews, because if you’ve already read the book you’re quite likely to gain new insights from her comments, and be inspired to read other books.
The next post will feature one of my favourite blogs for writers.
PS - If you were wondering about the significance of the snowdrops, I’ve been meaning to post a nice spring picture, and this is a photo I took when I was down at my mother’s house two or three weeks ago. I emailed this to my mother, sister and brother, who are in Hong Kong at the moment, so that they could see them.
I’m often asked by readers of my first published novel, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, where I got the inspiration for my characters from, and I answer truthfully that they are all total inventions. And then I have to add that the disguise adopted by the main character, 75 year-old Agnes, was borrowed from a feisty septuagenarian I’d met in the gym, who always wore a baseball cap over her shoulder-length frizz of ginger hair. (If you haven’t read it yet, why not boorrow it from the libary, or buy it here, via Paypal!)
Yesterday morning I was sorting out the clothes for my trip to Hong Kong next Wednesday (more of that later!) while listening to Fi Glover on Saturday Live, and I was fascinated to hear about the inspiration for the Larkin family in The Darling Buds of May.
David Dell was eight when he and his 5 siblings were taken on his first ever holiday in a bulging bright blue van. He remembers stopping at the small village shop and the rare treat of being bought ice creams, but he hadn’t noticed the man staring at them from his car across the road, as one by one they emerged from the van.
Years later, it became clear that this man was H.E. Bates himself, observing the scene with a writer’s keen eye for detail: the description of this scene in his autobiography make this far more like fact than wishful supposition.
It was an oddly weird sensation for me as a listener, hearing David Dell explain how his entire family had been caught like butterflies and preserved between the pages of a book for generations to come. It must have been amazing for him when he came across that passage in H E Bates’ autobiography.
I’m always touched by real items from decades ago, such as letters or scribbled messages on the back of postcards. Gardening Husband is a keen collector of stamps and postcards from the Far East, but he usually doesn’t bother to read those messages. However, he does know that I’m more interested in the glimpses of real lives than the potential value of a rare picture or postage stamp, so when he came across a few letters and scraps of paper among a job lot of ephemera, he handed them to me.
At that time I was in the planning stage for a novel that would be mainly set in contemporary Hong Kong, a place I have visited several times because I have a sister who lives on Lamma, one of the outlying islands, and owns a beautiful shop in Central, selling antique oriental robes and other artefacts.
After reading these letters, written by an English woman in Canton in the early 1920s, and two other love letters four years earlier from a young Chinese girl to the same man, my brain went into overdrive. I didn’t know precisely how I would use these epistolic treasures, but of one thing I was sure: a significant section of the book would take place in the 20s or early 30s and the setting would be moved from Canton, to Hong Kong.
I’ll soon be posting more about these letters and how they feature in my new novel, Paper Lanterns . Meanwhile, I’ll be interested to hear about any other real-life material that other writers have transformed into fiction.
BEFORE YOU READ ABOUT Paraglider’s Three Times Lucky December,Click here for my BOOK COVER DESIGN CHALLENGE and give yourself the chance of winning a FREE copy of Paper Lanterns(CLOSING DATE: 31st December)
DECEMBER HAS BEEN A LUCKY MONTH FOR ME, SO FAR
1) I was invited to take part in a live broadcast on Radio Wildfire to talk about my novels, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, and the soon-to-be-published Paper Lanterns.
2) I received a lovely recommendation for the back cover of Paper Lanterns from prize-winning author, Linda Gillard . She is writer of uncompromisingly high calibre and her third novel, Star Gazing, was shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year 2009.
I have great respect for her judgement on literary matters, so I’m delighted that she enjoyed my novel enough to name it in the same breath as the two novelists she mentions below:
“A vivid and absorbing tale of family secrets and illicit love, observed with the keen eye of a poet. You can almost smell and taste Hong Kong. Recommended for fans of Margaret Forster and Penelope Lively.“
3) I’ve just had an article published in the Bookcrossers’ monthly newsletter. You can read it here, and see why I think that all authors should love Bookcrossers.
It’s exciting enough to think that some of the 829,653 members from all around the world might read my article, but on top of that I’ve been awarded a month’s free membership of ‘Members Plus’, and this means that my Bookcrossing name, paraglider will now display wings for the next few weeks. (It does bring other privileges, but I might not have time to take advantage of these.) Still, I feel very proud when I click on my Bookcrossing name and see those wings - the nearest I’ll ever get to being angelic!