Sunday 2 April 2023

The day I tore my dress

Here I am - all ready to go off to the library at Bury St Edmunds, to give an author talk. You can’t quite see it, but I have a third bag over my shoulder because I can’t travel light. I have ten notebooks to give out for the exercise, four copies or so of each of my books, plus pens, my notebook which contains all the notes from all my author talks, my own copies of the books annotated so that I can read bits out, a few items to make the book table look more interesting, five sets of story cubes, several pictures of people etc etc.

I am wearing a brightly coloured, recently purchased, long dress which feels really good. It has a floaty voluminous skirt with pockets, a cotton lining and the bodice fits nicely and is comfortable. I even have a cardigan that goes well. I am about to set off feeling less anxious than usual - eager and confident.

So off I went, after my casual photo shoot, and arrived early. There was plenty of time to set up in the bright airy room. Seven people came, all were eager to hear about me and my books and, with a bit of friendly persuasion, they all took part in the workshop. I even sold a few books. The only thing that went wrong was a tearing sound as I stood up from my metal-legged chair to help someone. I couldn’t see a tear around the hem of my dress that had been trailing on the floor so, being grateful that all was well, I carried on with my teaching. Afterwards I chatted to the librarians, went and had coffee, strolled around Bury, looked in some shops.

A few days later I wore the dress again for a meal out. It was admired by total stranger, who told me it was lovely and it suited me. I smiled and thanked her.  She hovered as if there was something else to say, before turning away. Back at home the next day, I was looking for the washing instructions to the dress and found a huge tear, not around the hem, but about five centimetres below the waistband at the back!

I am sure the day I tore my dress was the same day I was being at my author best - talking about books and sharing writing skills. I am very grateful for the cotton lining because my short cardigan stopped way above the tear. Even so, it’s a very humiliating experience to find you have been walking around in torn clothing.

Moral of the story? Never put faith in material things to boost your self-confidence - especially not if the material is lightweight cotton!

And on a more serious note: 

1 Peter 5:6,7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Friday 17 March 2023

The Book Blog Tour - review by Patrick Coghlan

Today is day five of the tour. However, there has had to be a change. The good news is that it is now an eight-day blog and we have an extra review of The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ today, from none other than Patrick Coghlan.

If you are looking for Wendy H, Jones’ review - that will come on Monday 20th.

Patrick doesn’t have a blog, so here is his review, on my blog so that it gains a link:

  • The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ: Written by Annie Try
    The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ is one of those really readable books: it
    flows, it feels very real, it is interesting and it is written as short informative
    diary entries. And, after reading it, it leaves the reader pondering over the
    lessons to be learned from it.
    Bit by bit, Emma’s history is revealed. We understand some of the issues she
    experiences with being a looked after child. She longs to be ‘Normal’ – but
    what is normal? She shares her vulnerability, and deepest feelings and fears
    with the reader. What a privilege. A diary is something so personal; which is
    probably never normally shared with anyone. I love Emma’s lists, at the end of
    many of the diary entries: I am a list person, myself. We see revised lists, as she
    processes what is happening in her life.
    The book highlights that language is not just words. Emma discovers the
    language of music and dance. It helps her to explore her emotions, to
    understand her relationships better, to feel good about herself, and God speaks
    personally to her through dance.
    Emma’s best friend Cass’s Christian faith is not spoken about much: apart from
    a few references to her going to church and praying about different things, not
    much is said. However, what speaks louder than words is the nature of the
    friendship that she offers Emma: her kindness, her sensitivity, her care, her
    thoughtfulness, her compassion, her generosity, and she is always a good
    listener. Her faith is evidenced in a beautiful lifestyle.
    We discover a lot about relationships, through Emma’s diary. She recognises
    that all relationships have positives and negatives. With family relationships,
    usually the positives outweigh the negatives. Even her mum, despite her failings
    is the only biological mum Emma will ever have. It’s that or nothing.
  • Imagine Emma’s joy and excitement when she discovers that she has
    grandparents, and that they want to meet her – but even that comes with huge
    anxieties and unknowns.
    Then there is the Neurofibromatosis. Add that to the mix, and life becomes even
    more complicated.
    As we face life’s challenges and traumas, we can either crumple up underneath
    the pressure, or we can deal with them and be triumphant, despite those issues –
    and it really helps to have a Christian faith.
    Review by Rev Patrick Coghlan: Baptist minister, counsellor and author.

Tuesday 14 March 2023

A bit of a day by Annie Try

It’s been a bit of a day. 

I’m writing this on Tuesday, 14th. It’s the third anniversary of the day my son died. It’s ok, I thought, three years is long enough to get on with the day, anyway I need to be in London.

I wobbled a bit on the train when, on checking my phone, I saw my granddaughter had put a photo of James, her Dad, on Facebook. I found one for her which I wasn’t sure she’d seen. I thought about the good times with him and kept it all together to go to my dance class.

But grief creeps in unwanted, so I became physically wobbly as well as emotionally but coped fairly well until my teacher reminded me it’s ok to be sad. I met a friend for lunch and that was good, in fact for a while I was able to think about her and her needs and chat about my book tour and how lovely it was that I had a great group of people helping me.

And then it was back to the station and homeward. I looked at some emails and answered the ones about writing. But then the train ground to a halt and it was announced that no trains could go through Cambridge because of a previous incident. At Royston we were instructed to leave the train and wait for a coach. The first arrived, to take one coach load. Then after another wait I was on the next coach which battled through villages and traffic jams to take an hour to reach Cambridge. I sat next to a lady who glowered at me, then declared she was very angry about travelling even before all this happened and would be grumpy. By the time we reached Cambridge she was able to laugh, had called me an optimist and was prepared to accept that we couldn’t do anything about the situation, except make the most of it. We waited for a train to take us onwards - when it came we filled it to capacity, only to be told after a lengthy wait to change to a different train as no driver could be found for the one we were on! Result: home two and a half hours or so later than expected.

When I arrived home the Flossie, our puppy, had chewed her bed and pulled out the brown filling all over the floor. And the fish and chips bought on the way back from the station were cold.

But, God has been with me today, comforting me when I needed it, helping me to listen when other people needed it, by my husband being on the station when I finally arrived there, and the dog choosing a bed to chew that is already too small for her. The cold fish and chips went down a treat - I was so hungry! The lady on the train had thanked me for being good company and I’d thanked her for the provision of sweets and tissues. I thank God for her.

And meanwhile my blog tour has ticked away in the background with two lovely reviews and I’ve been sent a third non-blog one, so promoting my writing has continued, despite not being able to write on the train.

And tomorrow (today, 15th) is the day of the Christian Book Blurb podcast, where I am interviewed by Matt McChlery. But since that was recorded a few weeks back, I can concentrate on recovering from today!

Friday 10 March 2023

Here comes my book blog tour

It's happening!

My week of blogs about my new book was nearly a mid-week event, divided by a podcast.  But two volunteers this week filled the gaps and we are ready to go.

For those who aren't writers, let me explain.  This is a promotional week for my book, when people who write, or are good reviewers, review my book in their own blog, for their own readers, but then send it to me and I can send it on through my blog and all my social media links. 

I have people from all over the place reviewing my book, so if it were a genuine tour with me sitting in a bookshop waiting for people to come in and chat about my book, I simply couldn't do it. This way, I am being blogged about from Norfolk, Leicester, Cumbria, Dundee, Dorset and Suffolk. Plus the podcast is from Cambridgeshire.

As long as each of my reviewers like the book, that's fine. If they all hate it, I might have done more harm than good ...

This is where I would have put a very lovely text box full of information about the blog tour in a beautiful script, but unfortunately it squashed itself up into something nearly illegible and lost its beautiful formatting. Here it is - only while I've been moving it about it seems to have lost everything!

Text Box: The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ 
March 2023 - Book Blog Tour 
13th   	Georgie Tennant - Writer, speaker, teacher
14th   	Emily Owen - Writer, speaker
15th   	Matt McChlery - Writer, podcaster, musician
(Christian Book Blurb - interview) 
16th   	Susan Sanderson - Poet, blogger
17th   	Wendy H. Jones – Writer, speaker
18th   	Claire Dunn – Writer, speaker, teacher
19th    	Ruth Leigh - Writer, speaker

So I will show you a little more clearly:

Book Blog Tour - March 2023

13th  Georgie Tennant - Writer, speaker, teacher, giggler
14th  Emily Owen - Writer, speaker, inspirer
15th  Matt McChlery - Writer, podcaster, musician, songwriter,                     preacher, ace interviewer (Christian Book Blurb)
16th  Susan Sanderson - Poet, blogger, unofficial PA
17th  Wendy H. Jones - Writer, speaker, world tourer
18th   Claire F. Dunn - Writer, house restorer, encourager
19th   Ruth Leigh - Writer, speaker, queen of the craft fairs.

Well, it didn't exactly say that, it looked a little bit more official!

And I want to say thank you to each of them for brightening my writing life and making me feel I can do this writing stuff and I have good people around me to push me when I need it and to organise me (thank you Susan), support, inspire and encourage me. (And maybe take me on your travels one day Wendy?)

That's it for now, but I will post links on here and on Twitter and my Annie Try Facebook page and anywhere else I can think of, so that you can read the blogs from Georgie, Emily, Susan, Wendy, Claire and Ruth, plus listen to the podcast from Matt.

Thank you for reading,


Monday 27 February 2023

What has my puppy taught me?


         Yes, you’ve read that correctly. What has Flossie, this bundle of fluff and mischief, taught me? 

1. That there’s lots to notice. She can find the tiniest piece of twig incredibly interesting, and bury her face in a shrub as if something really, really exciting is happening. Now, I don’t actually find a lot of pleasure in sniffing leaves or the ground myself, and I don’t usually carry twigs around using my mouth. But while she does these things I start noticing the buds on the trees are about to open, and there are one or two snowdrops appearing or the grey sky has a scrap of blue. Something exciting is happening!

2. It is important to stop to listen to the birds. She demonstrated this to me on one of her very early walks around the garden. It was just getting light and she sat down, put her head slightly to one side and listened. The dawn chorus continued with the calls rising and flowing - a harmonious cacophony. She is 10 months old now and still does it. I praise God for this moment at the start of the day.

3. The joy of darkness and the stars. Out we go in the evening and she will not stray far from me in the dark. But she looks up and I do too, into the deep, dark distance scattered with the pinpricks of light. So humbling and majestic.

4. To keep precious items safe and to define what is precious. OK, this one is me being trained by the puppy’s bad behaviour. I’ve replaced two chewed laptop leads, several glasses cases, one pair of (my favourite) prescription glasses, a new book (just one when the house is full of books) and more pens and pencils than I can count. The list goes on. And bibles, cards, special ornaments etc go higher and higher.

5. That I must sit at a table if I want to write on my laptop or iPad. Otherwise she thinks I am doing nothing important and will try to play, or decide she needs to climb on my lap, adding her own heavy-pawed addition to my text on the way, somewhat interrupting my story and thoughts.

6. Calming down with music with birdsong. I tried this with her, building on her love of the dawn chorus. I started with YouTube music and found it worked with me too, especially if I allow her to sit on me while we listen and she can see the video of the birds. This time when I could gently stroke her was much needed in the first few months when I was searching for some bonding time to offset the sheer exasperation I felt when she chewed something else, jumped up to our startled visitors, chased our cat or puddled where she shouldn’t.

Looking back at this list, I can see that I am appreciating God’s creation more and have some new ways of being still and quiet.

But, let’s be realistic, I guess the most important thing Flossie is teaching me is that I’m not the patient person I thought I was!

I am now learning patience by training a very lively, naughty puppy, who nonetheless is teaching me too.

Saturday 18 February 2023

The great blog revival!

 ... or perhaps my title should be ‘My Great Blog Revival’.

Somehow I had lost the route to writing posts on this blog. The only place I could get to was which is, of course, the ACW blog, where I post on 15th of each month. Meanwhile, all attempts to access this blog failed. What’s more, I found it impossible to set up a new blog with a similar name. Very strange.

Today I was absolutely determined to sort it out. I found annie-try.blogspot quite easily as usual, but once I found a way to post I was immediately moved to the ACW blog. I did manage to creep onto my details and change the outdated photo when I spotted the word ‘Edit’ and tentatively tapped on it. So I thought ‘Here I go, at last’, pressed ‘Post’ and jumped back into More than Writers. Which is obvious really, as I write as Annie Try on there too.

Time to stop and think. Perhaps I had only one account on blogger, but two blogs? With further investigation I found it is so! In fact, finally I have arrived at my original blog via More than Writers. Let’s hope I can find my way out again.

So let’s update you on my book news. 

In addition to Losing Face, published in 2012, I have written three books about the very interesting clients of Dr Mike Lewis, Clinical Psychologist. Each book contains a mystery, close relationships, healing and a touch of faith. They are standalone novels, but if you’d like to read them in order then start with Trying to Fly, then Out of Silence and finally Red Cabbage Blue. They are published by Instant Apostle.

In December 2022 my most recent novel came out, The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ. It is written in diary form, with handwritten lists scattered throughout and follows the story of 15-year old Em. It is a voyage of discovery, as she tries to find out exactly what happened to cause the death of her late father. Her mother refuses to talk about him.

There are other questions about why she came into care and who else there is in her family. The search for where she really belongs is interwoven with her longing to dance.  She is not ready for what she discovers.

This book is suitable for most 13 years and older, including adults, and has hints for coping with anxiety and finding identity throughout. It is a story of faith, friendship and courage. 

I can report it has 100% 5* reviews on Amazon but, as I wrote in the morethanwriters.blogspot, that might change when I have more than one review! It’s early days yet.

I’d love to tell you what I am writing at the moment, but I’m not sure. I have several projects on the go - a sequel to Dangerous Dance, a dystopian novel The Post-bill Writings of Zak Greeson, and a book as yet unnamed on relaxation and prayer. But I am being prodded by readers to write another Dr Mike Lewis story too.

How shall I choose? I need to write 24/7 for the whole year to fulfil my plans, yet still I cannot prioritise!

I will let you know which one I choose to finish first.

Happy reading, or writing,


Monday 2 February 2015

Dizzying depths

Whoa! The world won't keep still.  I managed to avoid falling on my dog and clutched at the bedroom doorframe, turning then throwing myself back on to the bed.  Pulling myself over I tried calling for help.  Even as I did so I realised how pointless this was, with my hearing-impaired husband at the opposite end of the house. In the end, I phoned my daughter to ask her to ring back so that my husband would pick up the phone downstairs and know that I needed help.

So no playing my cello in church today. I phoned Nigel, music leader and elder.  "Oh that sounds like labyrinthitis," he told me cheerfully, reciting names and symptoms of sufferers he knew.  The world was still swimming about so I was half-listening with my mind twirling around the word 'labyrinths'.  I knew that parts of the inner ear were called 'labyrinths' but I was thinking of depths and dungeons.

When I work with people with depression, I often describe how negative thoughts have us swirling into more negative thoughts in a downward spiral.  Climbing out is difficult, but involves countering those thoughts with positive ones.  Some people are stuck in the depth of their depression for some time.  The dizziness I experienced, where the world was distorted and unreal, mirrored their experience.  People trying to help them find that their suggestions become condemnations when received by the depressed person; the chaos of their minds causing confusion.

So what is the answer?  Can we talk about the love of friends and relatives, or of God?  The depressed person may feel as if he or she is not adequate to receive that love.  But we can be consistent, we can be there, showing the love of friends, of God.  The person may need the help of a doctor as well, but most of all he or she will need to know they are not alone.

Isn't that what we all need to keep us steady when the world is spinning around us?