[I recently got to spend a whole week back in Blighty all by myself (well, almost). I had a wonderful time in a beautiful town and did a lot of thinking and some writing, while I celebrated the imminent release of my first novel. Fair warning: my next couple of blog posts might be a little contemplative.]
When you think of the quintessential English village, what comes to mind? Quaint old crooked houses, leaning into narrow lanes? Hedgerows around fields dotted with sheep placidly chewing among medieval ruins? A church that’s existed since before America was born or thought of, surrounded by gravestones dating back to the 1600s? Rolling hills in the background, fringed with copses you could imagine walking up to for a picnic and a spectacular view?
Well, then, you could do no better than to visit Chipping Campden, a little spot in the northern reaches of the famously beautiful Cotswolds. Chipping Campden, like so many of its friends here, is just about perfect. I just came back from spending a week there and I miss it already—though that could also be because I didn't have to feed or do laundry for anyone but myself for once.
Yes, I am taking time out from skipping around the room to report that I am now officially represented by the inimitable Veronica Park of the Corvisiero Agency! I can't wait to embark on this next stage of my journey with her (when I've climbed down from these giddy heights, that is).
I'm thrilled and humbled to report that I (well, my alter ego) have won first place in Wisconsin RWA's Fab Five Contest! My manuscript Breathe won in the Single-Title category. Bragging not being my strong suit I'll just say wheeeeeeee!
I promised this series a while ago. Problem is, my English Lit side has trouble writing a review of a book I haven't researched the bejesus out of for a few months. So I'm finally getting to this on the understanding that I haven't done that, so if you don't like my opinions or I come up with some fact that isn't true, then you don't have to pay for next month's issue. Oh that's right...
Charming (Pax Arcana #1), by Elliott James
You have to understand: this is not my kind of book. I have no desire to read about vampires rending each other limb from limb, or new and exotic ways to torture people who can’t die. But I got this for free at BookExpo 2013, and I can’t ignore books that come to me like that. I love books that mess with fairy tales. Also the cover guy was pretty cute in a psychotic kind of way. Also, swords are wayyyyyy sexier than guns any day, as far as I’m concerned. But I certainly didn’t open the book expecting to find a rip-roaring romance therein (no, the title didn’t tip me off). I thought he’d just be waving his sword at damsels the whole time, not actually falling for someone.
Well, goodness, I am finding it hard to tell you this, but if I don't, who else will? Going against all my proper English upbringing of not drawing attention to oneself or tooting one's own horn (mother would also not have approved of the word 'tooting'), I am forced to let you know that, well, that I placed third in a short story contest. Phew, there, I said it. Sorry to bring it up and all, but, you know, one is trying to make a living here. And the nice people over at Wordhaus and The Write Practice were kind enough to like one of my scribbles.
Okay, modesty over. You wanna read it? Well, be good enough to increase Wordhaus and the Write Practice's traffic by clicking over to them and having a look around, and then make yourself a quick cuppa and come back here.
Today is the eighth anniversary of my dad’s passing. It’s also, to me, the first day of summer, because it’s June and I’m sorry but I’m not waiting till the 21st to feel summery. Coincidentally, these two things put me in mind of Pimm’s, that quintessentially British beverage; why they do this, I’ll get to in a minute.
My dad was the party guy. The whole neighborhood knew it. He worked and lived abroad, as a pilot, for large chunks of my formative years, which I now realize was very lonely for him, but when he came home he was the life and soul, and the G&Ts flowed freely. He worked this far from home so that he and my mother could afford boarding school fees for us three kids, for which I am eternally grateful. It was the greatest thrill of my life to hear his key in the lock after months away. The smell of aviation fuel and the sight of pilots in uniform still makes me feel like Santa’s arrived.
My husband made the bed for me the other day.
Not the regular, throw the sheets randomly over and sling a few pillows to the head of the bed way. Not even the strip the bed and change the sheets way. No; Mr. A put together our guest bed frame, which has been in pieces for months. He didn’t have to do this. We had a thousand jobs to do that day and we were both really busy and rather cranky. But he knew I’d like it so he did it. Now that’s a twenty-year-married kind of love.
[He and the girls had also brought me breakfast in bed, because we were going to be out of the house on Mother's Day and that's my favourite part of the day. Bless his cotton socks.]
Bless you for coming to my site. Really. I’ll be rambling on about being English in New Jersey a lot, talking about reading and writing a bit, perhaps even posting some stories. To reward you for your time, I’ll start with the one where I’m a raging Goth (complete with shaved temples, more eyeliner than Adam Lambert and an inexhaustible supply of cross necklaces) and a blond-haired, blue-eyed Yank in pink madras catches my eye across a crowded bar. He bought me my first pair of 501s, you know, and the rest is history. My mum’s face lit up like it was Christmas when she met him. My brother heaved a giant sigh of relief. The crosses got smaller and smaller, the eyeliner was left for the boys, and the hair grew out, and four-and-a-half years of long-distance dating later, we were married in NJ, in the back yard of the prettiest house in the county.
Of course, if my daughters come up to me when they’re 18 and say, “Mom, I’ve met the man I’m going to marry,” I’ll be guffawing and Mr. A’ll be getting the dogs ready, but then again, you never know…
Kimberley Ash is a British ex-pat who has lived in and loved New Jersey for twenty years. When not writing romance, she can usually be found cleaning up after her two big white furry dogs and slightly less furry children. Her first novel, Breathe, is now available from Crimson Romance. Her trilogy, The Van Allen Brothers, was released by Tule Publishing in 2019.