Monday, 22 May 2017

It's that time of year again. . .

Leaving education? Going for an interview? Some points to consider.

"One morning, the eagerly awaited letter arrives on the doormat. You have been selected for an interview! Well Done! Full of excitement and anticipation you make a note in your diary and leave it at that. Right? Wrong! You have a lot of preparation to do before THE DAY."
Some point to consider when going for an interview.
Planning is essential.Who will be interviewing you? What questions will you be asked? What do you know about the organisation? What will you wear? Where will the interview be held? How will you get there?
Your letter inviting you for an interview should answer some of these questions but it is important to make a few notes. You need to know whom to ask for when you arrive. You need to be sure that you can get there in good time, so make sure that you plan your route and transport. Do you know which part of the building you should go to, who you must ask for, and what their position is? If you are driving there, do you know where the car park is and how far away from the building that you must go to.
"Check your letter and if needs be, ring up and ask for the department who sent out the letter and ask anything you are not sure about. If nothing else, it breaks the ice and gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself. You now become a person. Not just another name."
"You need to be sure that you can travel to work without any problems so it would be a good idea to do a dummy run beforehand if you can. If travelling by bus, check the bus timetables and any connections. If you live a distance from the organisation, they will want to be sure that you can get to work on time, especially if the job involves odd hours. It certainly would not do, in any case, to arrive late for the interview. It is much better to be self-sufficient and not rely on other people for getting to work.
Have you done some research about the organisation so that you can ask and answer questions?
"What kind of questions will you be asked? You will most certainly be asked why you want to work in the organisation, why you want the job or even what makes you think that you are suited for it. Have this information ready. You may be asked about the organisation, for instance; what they do. Have you researched on the Internet? Do you have some notes ready?" It is far better to have this information to hand when they ask the question.
First impressions count.
It is however not just an interview for the job, but for your future. A good rule is to dress for where you want to go to, what you want to be. Dress to impress is another maxim and very true as first impressions really do count.
Do you need a haircut?
Do this in good time to allow your hair to settle in afterwards. Make sure that you arrange your hair so that you can forget about it and not constantly fiddle with it. If it is long, don't constantly toss it back over your shoulders. Arrange it so that you don't have to do these annoying things and give the interviewer the impression that you would spend more time on your appearance than the job.
What will you wear?
Even if you are going for a manual job, a suit is never out of place. If you don’t have a suit and are unable to get one, a shirt and tie is an absolute must with a smart pair of trousers (male). You could then perhaps get away with a smart casual jacket. For the ladies, a suit is always suitable with a nice blouse—no low-cut tops please! No shirts or blouses with buttons straining and showing skin or underwear. Do your clothes need cleaning/washing/pressing? Get this organised in good time.
Do you need to take anything with you?
Have you got all your Certificates and/or Record of Achievements (School), or CPD Portfolio ready? Keep your certificates - the latest first - in a nice presentation folder or file.
Include your Curriculum Vitae (CV). The latest jobs/activities/ schools or colleges first. Do not include your date of birth and never your National Insurance Number. Your prospective employer can work out your age from your application form or CV. Your NI number is your identity and very personal. (If successful the payroll office will need it but it will be secure.)
If you have attended courses, have you kept a brief record of them together with what you did, what you learned from the course, and how you will use it? (This is called a Continuing Professional or Personal Development Portfolio (CPD). This not only shows your prospective employer that you have taken control of your own learning and development but that you will help the organisation to grow and develop and be an asset to it.
On the day of the interview.
Get up bright and early, have a good breakfast and with your head up, shoulders back, and a smile on your face, walk in to the interview with confidence. And come out with the job.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Background to Travel Writing.

Case History: The Long Leg of Italy: Explore with Just Us Two.

The travel-based books that I write are based on fact. Not so much a biography, they are more of a travelogue. But how do I make sure that what I write is authentic? How do I structure the ‘story’?

The Long Leg of Italy is a case in point. Unlike my first two books in the Just Us Two Travel series, which were quite straightforward in terms of chronological order, this one required some thought. 


I decided to start where our love affair with Italy began. This was many years ago when my husband and I ventured out independently to follow more of my dreams. He [said husband] had been adamant that he wasn’t having a party for our Silver Wedding but deemed that a ‘little trip’ would suffice. My imagination ran riot and, with the conviction that I wanted to go to Rome, I searched travel brochures on the quiet. With all aspects costed, I approached the subject warily stating that I wanted to go to Rome, and if there, well, Florence and Venice as well. After the shock had subsided – we had only been abroad twice and that as part of an organised group - and he had thought about it, it was all systems go.

Structure and research.

With all this in mind, when writing about Rome, Florence, Venice, and Sorrento, I delved into my elephantine and pictorial memory, searched out the pre-digital, copious photograph albums and, for reference to a later visit, the camcorder film that I had eagerly taken. 

I then began another journey; a very emotional journey as I retraced our steps, checked maps, checked Italian spellings on Google, and carried out Internet searches to verify details and gather expanded information. Of course, I saved all the web links for inclusion in a bibliography at the end – added value for the reader who wishes to explore more. 

The question that exercised my thoughts was: do I put both visits to the same  city into one topic area?; or do I simply 'tell it how it happened' in a chronological order. This last approach  was particularly relevant for Sorrento, which we first visited on our second tour of Italian cities. Not least because I had stated in Florence, when deciding to return five years hence,that we would reverse the trip, visiting Venice first, as after all the culture we would need a holiday. The difficulty was, how do I handle a subsequent second visit to Sorrento itself. I solved that by treating it as a second chapter.

I must share with you that in writing this huge part of The Long Leg of Italy, I was emotionally drained; the enormity of what we had not only undertaken and encountered as we travelled without guidance by train through the countryside between cities, but had also personally achieved, hit me; hard.

Many years later we again returned to tour this beautiful and diverse country. Although in the intervening years we had ridden into the north on our motorbike, this time we were safely with a travel company who would have all the information that we now liked to absorb and would be there if something went wrong. (Don’t forget that the middle-aged couple of the first visit are now considerably older!) We toured the south and Sicily before re-visiting the mountains and hidden lakes of the north a short while later. 

I decided to chat about this tour of the mountains and hidden lakes of Italy before the previous tour of the deep south. Why not keep it chronological? The answer lies in another book that was in the pipeline. As I was planning to write about the islands that we had visited over the years, it made sense to keep the Sicily part of this tour for that book; indeed, it was the perfect opening for Island Interludes.

Recording first-hand experiences.

On the tours, I took copious notes and recorded much information shared by the tour guide. Replaying the videos, especially our reverse second visit to Italy,, made me catch my breath when I realized what could have gone wrong - yet we simply decided that: ‘we can’. My study was awash with my collection of maps and guide books; my dog-eared Michelin guide came off the shelf to join the maps. I had also saved inconsequential things like the colourful entrance tickets to famous places, restaurant and cafĂ© bills (some in lire, some in euros) postcards, leaflets about places visited, the tickets from the Vatican to the Papal Audience in Rome and seats in St Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday, plane tickets. All these I resurrected from the photograph albums and the travel shelf. 

In order to clarify the actual dates, I found the calendar on the Internet and worked out  days from the dates on the plane and train tickets (Rome Florence and Venice). I was also thankful that I had categorized and recorded dates and places in the physical photograph albums. The later digital photographs, of course, have the date saved within the file details.

Bringing it all to fruition,

After making sure that the structure was right; after re-living the day-to-day events (especially the disasters on our independent traveller trips) I felt ready to select photographs for inclusion in the manuscript. I thought that it would bring the story alive.

After reaching the end of the first draft, it was time for another pair of eyes, confirmation that I had not missed anything out, confirmation of geographical facts and the disasters that had befallen us on the way. Hint: don’t pack a full-face Venetian mask with an enormous quantity of tissue paper - especially white tissue paper -  or Customs will pull you over with the suspicion that the solid white mass is something else; at least not if you are carefully carrying it. I won’t say more or else I will spoil the story. 

Cover images and design.

For the jacket cover, I wanted to show some of the diversity of the country while at the same time including the national colours. I settled for a photograph of the mountains in the Brenta Dolomites in the north east; the timeless scene of emerging from under the Academia Bridge on the Grand Canal in Venice - where the  of the white Basilica of Santa Maria Della Salute standing majestically at the point where the Grand Canal and the Guidecca Canal meet - greets you; and finally, a complete contrast. The Trulli houses in Alberobello in Puglia in the deep south. A green coloured outline map of the country overlaid on these photographs ,together with the addition of red lettering for the title, completed the front cover.

For the new hardcover format which is due out in June, I decided to put a photo on the back as well and apply some transparency (fade) so that the book information could be clearly seen by the reader. (This formatting for the jacket back has been applied to all the new hardcover formats.) I used a photo of the Dome of St Peter in Rome and carried it over the spine. My husband commented, 'we were right at the top of that!'. Yes, we made it without having a heart attack; thankful now that we had done it all while we were younger and fit.

Final thoughts.

The process that I have outlined is and has been for my other travel books and travel-based fiction. The Long Leg of Italy,  in particular, was a roller-coaster ride.

The Long Leg of Italy: Explore with Just Us Two 


Monday, 1 May 2017

New Glossy Case Laminate Hardcovers for Travel Books,

After weeks of being up with the lark, many hours of industry, and much TLC from my husband - who kept the wheels of 'the bus' oiled - we were pleased to receive the hardcover proof copies of the current three travel books and travel-based ORANGES.

Island Interludes, the fourth in the Just Us Two Travel series is in production.

It is now time to showcase them. Two have a completely new cover while they are all enhanced with a full page photo on the back underneath some transparency.

I chatted about ORANGES: A Journey in my last post:Exciting Times, Challenges and Deadlines.
The glossy, case laminate, hardcover, along with the other current titles has now come back as a physical proof copy for review.  The glossy case laminate hardcover with acid free paper inside exudes quality. ( I will have them on display at the Learning at Lunchtime - Carnival of Words event on Wednesday May 3rd.)

The first three Just Us Two hardcover titles and ORANGES are due for release on June 6th. Island Interludes will be released in September. All are available for pre-order at your local bookstore or online. Details of ISBN's are on the website in Rosalie's Bookstore.

Can you guess where the photos on the back covers were taken?


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Exciting Times. Challenges and Deadlines.

New books coming out of the incubator.

Rosalie's Chatter has been muted for a few weeks. Why?

The decision in 'Chateau Christal' to bring out all the travel books and the travel-based fiction out in hardback formats caused a flurry of detailed planning, collaboration and decisions on formatting to a new size and jacket design, much updating of the 'technical' stuff before finally being ready to upload to the printer/distributor - Ingram Spark.

In general we thought the current covers would suffice but eventually decided to update ORANGES: A Journey and Chasing Rainbows:with Just Us Two.

Updating the paperback and eBooks.

It seemed a shame not to feed these new covers into the paperback books and therefore the ePub formats that Ingram Spark converted for us when we consolidated digital distribution with them  last year. (What started off so simple, snowballed.)
Especially, as brand new flyers, showcasing the hardback formats,were at the printers.These were needed to co-incide with the Wrexham Carnival of Words events in the town -  not least the promotion by Sue Miller of the Wrexham Carnival of Words Writers' Group in collaboration with Ged of Waterstones Wrexham  to support local writers. The Waterstones event runs for two weeks (April 22nd - May 6th). The week before and the week during the Carnival of Words. There is also another event at which I am taking part in the Wrexham Library on May 3rd.

ORANGES. has had a complete overhaul with a full page image both front and back. On the back is one of my favourite scenes in Nerja [Costa del Sol], the view through the archway at the side of the Balcon de Europa where the steps lead down to the sea. In the Plaza in winter a huge orange tree spills its ripened oranges over a wall. Perfect for the front.

An excerpt:
"In  her hand, she held a small orange, savouring the time when she would peel the skin away, and then, taking the juicy fruit piece by piece, pop the segments into her mouth and wait for the burst of juice to explode as her teeth bit into the flesh...
On this dark dismal day in cold England, Charlotte could only dream in wonder of a land that was warm enough to ripen an orange. Would she ever be able to see for herself? After all,[ in the 1960's even a journey to the next town was still an adventure. 
Charlotte dreamed of the day when she could see these lands of sunshine. As she dreamed, she became more and more excited as she thought of these far-away lands. In her excitement, she squeezed the orange tighter and tighter until it burst, spraying droplets of juice into the air.
Through the drops, glistening in the firelight like jewels as they rained down, she could see glimpses of sunshine, vague images of white buildings, narrow streets winding upwards, and an abundance of flowers and fruits.
Charlotte reached up. She caught some droplets of juice in her hands. Tucking the orange into her pocket, she settled on the rug by the warm fire, her imagination running riot as she caressed her orange. Charlotte was on a journey."
Charlotte' dreams take her into the future, to the Lisbon coast and her escapades in the hills above, before another dream sends her into the mountains and coast of Andalucia in southern Spain; in particular, Nerja, east of Malaga and more, where Charlotte and her friend Daisy get into more scrapes.

ORANGES is one of two Rosalie Marsh books selected to be part of the Wrexham Carnival of Words - Waterstones display. The other one is The Long Leg of Italy: Explore with Just US Two.


Saturday, 18 March 2017

A Glorious Time in Tenerife

March 2017 and a return to the Islas Canarias.

After a long wait at  Manchester Airport - actually three and a half hours sitting on an aeroplane in the de-icing queue - we finally landed in the sunshine of Tenerife. This trip was essentially a field trip as the excursions on offer would allow us to revisit the interior of the island after ten years and bring ourselves up-to-date on this diverse and beautiful island of contrasts.

With visits to:

  • Los Cristianos, Puerto Santiago and San Juan on the west coast; 
  • Puerto de la Cruz on the north coast; 
  • Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Candelaria in the south-east; 
  • The Taganana Valley in the north-east and La Laguna in the centre of the north and south eastern coasts;
  • El Teide National Park in the centre of the island;
  • The Masca Valley on the north western tip;
  • The island of La Gomera off the west coast, all accompanied by excellent guides and increasingly hot sunshine, we had a glorious two weeks.
The nearby marina in Golf del Sur was a little more strenuous walk than anticipated but Allen got some good photographs including the yellow submarine which rests there in between trips out to the sea to see whales and dolphins and tall ships.

In Las Canadas del Teide National Park - which we have visited twice before - we were blown away by the Roques de Garcia which we had not seen before. Essentially, it is a crater where the walls have eroded away to leave the most fantastic and unique shapes.

We enjoyed lunch at El Rancho in Chio; a lovely restaurant where the walls and cool terraces are smothered in blooms.

Our return to the small island of La Gomera by fast ferry confirmed our impression that it is possibly the most beautiful of all the five that we have visited over the years.

I took much film and lots of notes/impressions from which to draw on for the last chapter in Island Interludes:Just Us Two Escape to the Sun. Publication is planned for later this year with pre-ordering in the summer from booksellers and e-retailers worldwide. 

Rosalie xx

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Progress on Island Interludes.

Interior formatting and choosing photos.

With a major proof and copy edit completed - not the final one you understand - it was time to select a sample of photographs from the hundreds that we have taken over the years covered by Island Interludes.

Thankfully, most of our photographs are stored digitally but many are pre-digital times.
Here is a sneak peek of one or two. Boom Trike in Fuerteventura and Mazzaro in Sicily.

Yes, Island Interludes covers twenty-five years of happy exploration and adventure.

Interrupting my husband from his comfortable TV watching, "I need you" was my usual plea? instruction? With a crook of my finger he would tear himself away from Quest, Dave, How it's Made, snooker, or an old cowboy film that is daytime viewing.

His sharp eye is a good judge of what would work and what wouldn't. I checked how they would look greyscale. Unfortunately colour printing is tempting but not feasible for this book. Following an initial first batch, we narrowed it down to 25 or so plus maps to introduce the sections.

The next step was to run the images through Photoshop14 before inserting the images into the manuscript. This called for a fair amount of reformatting as page and section breaks changed.

Finally, with a certain sense of satisfaction, all was complete - for now - as with a focus, sticky notes on he computer screen, lists, and my calendar blanked out on certain days,I achieved my targets.

Time to reflect and re-visit.

It is now time to have some 'reflecting and thinking' time as we take a step back and re-visit after the forthcoming 'field' trip to one of our favourite islands.

Meanwhile, read my previous posts both more recent and other posts over the last few years. These would be mainly in February/March for the Canaries but summer for the Mediterranean islands. (Some of our Island Interludes were pre-blog time.

Happy reading.

Rosalie xx

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Next Stage in my Writing Journey for Island Interludes

It has been a long journey - quite a few years.

Actually many years since I started writing about our travels in our annual Christmas newsletter to family and friends. Then, with a future book in the Just Us Two series forming in my mind, I started to write about our travels in a more positive and rounded way about nine years ago..

A few years ago I started to pull all these different sections (islands) together as I planned how I would approach the layout to make it cohesive. I had a planned date initially for 2015 but with family cares and responsibilities increasing around this time I extended this to 2016. All went well as I picked up my pen and made inroads into the project. Writing is, I find, therapeutic as I lose myself in the story. Playing the numerous DVD's of film that I had made, ensured that I missed nothing.

 It was also very emotional at times. I was astounded when I realized how much travelling we have done as we explored Europe over the years, taking every opportunity to 'escape to the sun' and life's cares.

Last summer, life and cares of other kinds pushed all my work to one side. I found myself in a writing hiatus yet pedalling furiously to keep all the 'balls up in the air'. In truth, the only way out was to consciously take a step back and put Island Interludes on the back burner while I recovered my equilibrium - and hopefully the energy to continue. C'est la vie! I printed off the draft manuscript and put it to one side.

I realized that I needed to bring the last chapter on Tenerife up-to-date. An opportunity arose to re-visit in 2017. This I regard as a field trip as we once again visit the Mercedes Forest and Taganana Valley in the far north eastern tip of the island, Masca Valley in the far north west, and other places around the west and north coasts.Even, possibly a fast ferry trip to La Gomera?

With computer system problems following huge updates at the end of 2016, meaning a complete system re-installation and subsequent loss of e-mails etc. - we won't go there - I went back to basics, dug out a sheet of graph paper, drew a Gantt Chart using coloured pens and stuck it up on the wall.

2017 and it is all system go.

 I resurrected the draft manuscript and with an eye on the Gantt Chart, settled down to look at it with fresh eyes, re-writing many chunks as creative juices flowed again. The break had been productive in the long run. This first big edit is now complete, manuscript corrected ready for a second edit by another pair of eyes. I had further re-planned publishing for the end of May but may delay a few weeks to take advantage of an unexpected  pre-publication offer. A decision will be taken when further progress is in the can.

What next?

The next stage is:

  • Marketing. 
  • Book block (interior) design and formatting. 
  • Further edits fed into manuscript. 
  • Jacket design. 
  • Choice of photos for the interior. 
  • Updating marketing material when jacket design and all metadata is finalized. 
  • Publication.

Then I can move on leisurely with developing Charlotte whom I introduced to the world in Oranges: A Journey a few years ago.

Rosalie x

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Second Stage in the Writing Process

A big edit.

After being concerned at the delay in the completion of Island Interludes due to 'life and other things' taking precedence and blocking creativity, the time lapse has been of benefit.

I started writing chapters of Island Interludes around 2008 - pulling together bits and pieces that I had written in my annual Christmas family newsletter. This progressed to writing about our various adventures and salting them away for future use.

Now,after making great strides in the first half of 2016 and then coming to a hiatus for a few months, the wheels are turning. The spell away when I consciously put everything to one side has in fact been beneficial. I came back to the chapters with fresh eyes.

The subsequent first draft and proof edit has seen our story tightened up with new creative juices now flowing. Thank goodness for that.

I have completed Meandering in the Mediterranean and most of Atlantic Wanderings. I have been fortunate to have Maltese friends who have generously given of their time to check the Malta chapter for errors in factual content (and others). A second pair of eyes soon to be let loose on the manuscript will no doubt find some more corrections.

As I take a short break to write this, I am ready to make changes to the chapter on Gran Canaria which only leaves Tenerife. This is a 'biggy' as we have explored that island many times. A field trip is in the offing to bring it all up to date as we take advantage of another Saga holiday with all the excursions into the interior. Hopefully, we will be able to return to La Gomera on a day trip.Fingers crossed. There is now a fast ferry to that beautiful,l verdant island where from every twist and turn as you go into the mountains you are treated to a glimpse of the highest mountain in Spain - Mount Teide on Tenerife.

Time now to get back to work. I have a Gantt Chart pinned up beside my desk to keep me on the straight and narrow as it is now impossible to delay publication yet again.

Hasta la Vista!

Rosalie xx

Saturday, 14 January 2017

A new year - a new page in the story of life.

This year has started much as the last one ended. . . 

With a virus lurking in the shadows we cancelled New Year plans and stayed by the box of tissues, cough medicine and menthol sugar-free sweets. Hence the delay in blogging.

I was not too poorly to plan travel to warmer lands though and cheered myself up with trawling through for hotel rooms and planning the whole trip and budget on a spreadsheet. Planning another trip across France, Spain, and into Portugal was the best medicine ever. We will come back across the middle of Spain via Madrid and Zaragoza to cross the Midi-Pyrenees into France for a short stay in Lourdes at the foot of the Pyrenees before meandering back home. 

Pushing back your boundaries.

It is always good to 'push back your boundaries', We have crossed the Pyrenees at both ends of the spectrum; Perpignan in the south east of France into the Spanish National Park, Biarritz in the south west of France into the Basque country, and into Andorra where the scenery and sheer height of the mountains is another experience altogether. We have also ridden up to the Spanish Border from Gavarnie where the road seemingly ends and it was the last stop for pilgrims before they trekked on foot over the mountain peaks on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, the far north west of Spain.
We have done this on two, threes, and four wheels; which is our choice? Two wheels of course. And with my husband being a bad traveller as a passenger, it is ferry to France followed by a long drive through France to our destination.

Negotiating tolls on the motorways.

One thing that we found very useful last year was ordering a transponder for both France and Spain for the motorway tolls where our number plate is read and we simply sail through. Formerly, you had to have a French bank account to have one of these but they have now extended this service. We first had one on our hire car last April after the Europcar man advised us that there were no manned tolls in Central Portugal - where we were heading from Lisbon - but simply a camera at the side of the road. After the simplicity of this there was no contest. ( We use motorways when going from A to B to a certain destination.)

How are you aiming to push back your boundaries this year? Follow your dreams?