It has been a while since I have written a Newsletter and I apologise for that. We have been building a new website and I had no idea how much time or energy this would take. I sincerely hope you will enjoy the results and that, once we have the teething problems dealt with, you will see that it is a more sophisticated tool than the last one. It will include a blog so that I can write to you whenever I feel there is some news rather than waiting for a seasonal letter such as this one.
At the foot of the Home Page are links to both of these, for easy access.
I have added an Acting page for those who remain interested in that aspect of my career and I have created a dedicated page for some of my published travel articles including a few of the Postcards from Provence I write regularly for the excellent France magazine. Each ‘postcard’ is cleverly illustrated by the artist Tim Wesson.
I am intending to extend the Travel aspect of this website by offering suggestions on my new Blog page of places to visit, details of hotels, restaurants etc, always based on trips I have made myself.
Fingers crossed, we will soon have a link to buy all my books as well as the DVDs of the five Olive Route films. In the meantime, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase signed and dedicated copies of the books. Later, we might even have a little e-shop for the purchase of our olive oil, lavender water, jams or other farm products. I am thinking ahead here!
It has been a challenging year working on the OLIVE ROUTE films and bringing them to conclusion. Each of the five films has received its very modest premiere in Paris and the audience reactions were very positive. After each film, there was a question-and-answer session where the discussions were very lively and sometimes heated, which is always encouraging.
One or two small film festivals have expressed interest in screening one or more of the films and I am thrilled about that. I will announce the times, dates, venues as and when they are confirmed, so that should any of you be in the vicinity, you can watch the films on larger screens.
My year is ending on an upbeat note professionally. I have begun to record the audio download editions of the Scholastic My Story series. As you may know, I have written four books in this series and now I have been invited to record a selection of titles from the entire series. I am having great fun recording these, working as an actress, back in a studio, back in London where so many memories and friends remain. The first eight titles will be available for audio download by the middle of next year. These audio editions are aimed at young adults and make perfect gifts for your daughters or nieces. In the meantime, the original books are still available, so please do take a look for my four titles on my Books page here on this new website or go to Scholastic’s website for the complete list.
Dates for next year are firming up nicely. An American book tour – my very first – is in the planning stage. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will knit together and be confirmed for April 2013. Again, all details will be posted as and when we have confirmation. If any of you in the States run bookshops, libraries, university theatres, garden centres, olive groves or anywhere you think an event of mine would be suitable, speak up now! Please do contact me and we will see what can be arranged.
By the way, for all American readers, I have some very good news. The entire Olive series of books will be available in e-book format on Amazon.com before Christmas this year. If you are looking for virtual Christmas presents, here you are. Please rush to your computers and press Click and Buy!
For UK and Irish readers, the books have been available as e-books for some time now.
All titles are also available as audio books. They are listed on the Books page.
In July 2013, I am thrilled to be returning to the West Cork Literary Festival (http://www.westcorkmusic.ie/literaryfestival/programme) where I will be giving a talk on turning book into film. Aside from this one-off event, I will be tutoring a five-day workshop on writing memoir and non-fiction. The dates are 7 -12 July and the festival is to be held as always in the very lovely waterside town of Bantry in County Cork. The West Cork audiences are renowned for being a great crowd. Hugely responsive, they arrive in droves and everyone has a fabulous time. If you want to escape for a stimulating week, this literary festival is hard to beat.
Later in the year, in September 2013, I will be in Co. Tyrone, in Omagh for the Benedict Kiely Literary Weekend. This is not a part of Ireland I have visited so I am very excited to discover it. More on that a little later when I have a date for my talk.
But let me not type the year away so soon… Winding back to the beginning as January approaches… I will be in London between 18th and 20th January for the France Show at Earls Court.
This year I will be talking about the making of the Olive Route films. A few back stage stories and secrets will no doubt be revealed. I also hope to show a few short clips from the films if I can work the technology out!
I love this event, not only because I am a France Show regular now and know many of the faces of those working there – folk who also have a passion for France – but also because it has become a wonderful opportunity for me to spend time with some of my readers, many of whom have become friends. If you are on my Olive Farm Facebook page, (http://www.facebook.com/olive.farm) you will know that on Saturday 19th January, we will be lunching at a small restaurant close to the Earls Court Exhibition Centre. This lunch is open to readers of mine who attend my Saturday France Show talk (11.30 am) and who are on the Olive Farm Facebook page. Tickets for the France Show are selling well so if you want to be a part of this get together, you will need to get yourself a ticket, join our FB page and put your name down very soon.
So, in amongst all this traveling and public speaking, do I have any time left for writing and a life? Yes. I have not one but three books on the go at present. Another in the Scholastic My Story series, which is due to be published in the spring of 2014. The second is the novel I mentioned a while back that, unfortunately, was put aside in favour of filming commitments and, lastly, a non-fiction title. I am very busy.
Back at the farm, we have harvested a magnificent crop of organically-produced olives and pressed them into luscious green oil. I am thrilled and very proud. Friends came from as far afield as Berlin to pick with us. We took nine days; the weather was wonderful and we had an exhilarating time with fine oil to honour our hard work.
Bees we have, twelve hives now. They are healthy and enjoying the blossoms in our garden. Our apples were abundant this year, Olive Farm-grown lemons and bitter oranges grace many of our meals and we had such an apricot crop that I simply ran out of ideas and recipes to use them all up. Jars and jars of apricot compôte line our cupboards. Apple tarts and lemon pies have been offered to guests in the shade of the Magnolia Garndiflora. All these natural blessings are made possible by the labours of the honey bees.
I cooked our first Christmas turkey last weekend in honour of friends leaving France and I prepared the bird with herbs, lemon and orange fruits and olive oil, all from the farm. It was simple and truly delicious. Everyone demanded seconds!
So, Christmas is almost upon us. I will make one more brief trip to Rome before the holidays to catch up with Olive Route friends and colleagues and then Michel and I will take our work, our laptops and ideas and settle ourselves at the farm for a well-deserved rest and to spend precious time with our loved ones. I recognise how immensely fortunate we are. I wish you all a very splendid holiday – plenty of good reading time so please think of the Olive books as excellent stocking fillers for yourselves and all your friends and families. Here in France, an expression heard frequently this time of year is ‘avant tout, la santé’, ‘before everything else, good health’. I raise my glass to you all, wishing you good health and peace, to thank you for visiting my website and taking the time to read my news. Have a wonderful Christmas, Happy New Year and I hope to see you somewhere in the world in 2013. Please keep writing to me. I love to hear your news too.
Blessings upon you all