Tag Archives: memoir

At last a Coffee and Walnut cake that tastes of coffee

Coffee and walnut cake
Coffee and walnut cake

At last a recipe by Jane Hicks from the May edition of the Waitrose magazine for a cake that tastes of coffee. My last attempt looked good but didn’t have much flavour.

It’s always good when friends come to coffee because then I can try out one of the cake and muffin recipes I’ve torn out of magazines or newspapers, or got on cards from Sainsbury’s or Waitrose. Josh and I are both off sugar so we wait for guests to come before we indulge.

The recipe was for a square tin but I don’t have one so I used my 20cm round tin instead.

Memoir extract from Woman in a White Coat
Learning to cook
When I finished my second house job I was five months pregnant. I was unlikely to find a part-time temporary job in medicine and I couldn’t face the thought of standing all day in a dental practice, though it would have been much easier to find a locum dental appointment. Continue reading At last a Coffee and Walnut cake that tastes of coffee

VOGUE100 & RUSSIA AND THE ARTS AT THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY LONDON

Glitzy laughing model
Glitzy laughing Naomi Campbell

Everyone has been raving about the huge Vogue100 exhibition – a pictorial history of Vogue magazine since its birth in 1916. Several of my friends have been twice.

Yes, there are loads of fantastic portraits. though I liked best the long tables of black and white photographs. I particularly liked the hand-drawn and painted covers of the early years.
But the National Portrait Gallery curators elected to do something I really hate – group the  captions to one side of the exhibits so that at times it was hard to tell which description went with which photo.  The detailed descriptions were in a small thin font, difficult to read especially in the rooms where the light had been dimmed. My view is that the title of any artefact is  important, especially if given by the author of the piece, and should be easy to find and read, even if the artist has elected to call the work Untitled .

A quotation from the Vogue of 1938 Primer of Art made my hackles rise:
A lady of quality should be able to walk into any drawing room, to look at the picture over the mantelpiece and to exclaim: “Oh what a charming  Picasso of the early Blue Period”, or “I like your new Follower of Masaccio (circa 1420) immensely.” If she guesses right she is a gentleman and a scholar.”
The cheek!!

Portraits of my favourite authors and other artists
Portraits of my favourite authors and other artists

I loved the Russia and the Arts exhibition – and not only because the titles were underneath each portrait!! Included were portraits of some of my best-loved Russian authors whose books I’d first pored over in my teenage years – Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky – as well as musicians like Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky, painters (mainly unfamiliar to me) and patrons – from the years 1867-1914.

My mother and grandmother were Russian so there was probably a bond there.
Memoir extract from The Girl with a Threepenny Birth Certificate

My grandmother was a tall, commanding woman with dark hair piled on top of her head. As a deeply orthodox Jewish woman it would have been a sheitel, a wig. I always went to bed before she did and I never saw her without it. I loved her and looked forward to curling up against her warm back in the big double bed we shared. Continue reading VOGUE100 & RUSSIA AND THE ARTS AT THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY LONDON

WOMAN IN A WHITE COAT – VOLUME 1

Jody's self-published thriller
a meeting on self-publishingJody’s self-published thriller

I met Jody Medland of Penworksmedia at Indie Insights, a meeting on self-publishing, .  He self-published his scary thriller The Moors, a gothic tale of murder and child abuse set in present day Cornwall, and his company is about to publish a variety of books by other authors.

Jody liked the first three chapters of my memoir – Woman in a White Coat – so I am busy giving the manuscript a final edit before sending it to him.

I had originally written my memoir starting with my medical career, each chapter having  flashbacks to my childhood.  However, I decided it would work better if I split my memoir into two. Now, Volume 1 will cover my childhood until I start at medical school, 1931-1953. Volume 2 will take it from there.

What do you think?

Chapter 1 Continue reading WOMAN IN A WHITE COAT – VOLUME 1

Why don’t agents reply?

About the others who had trouble getting published
About the others who had trouble getting published

In the old days we had to include a stamped and addressed postcard with our submissions sent by snail post, but at least you could be sure they had got there when your postcard came back.

Now, even if you include a polite request for an acknowledgment, many agents don’t bother to send one or answer subsequent emails. On  the whole emails get to their destination but most of us have problems with our emails  from time to time.
I know literary agents are busy and overwhelmed and all that, but it’s so easy to set up an ‘out of office’ type reply. Elaine Borish charts the initial failure of 33 famous authors from Jane Austen to Zane Grey to get published, but at least they did get replies!!

The Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency  is a paragon of virtue in this matter. Their reply to a submission was by return:
Thank you very much for your email.
For all writers, this is to acknowledge receipt of your work. We personally read everything that comes into the MM Agency and will respond directly within the next twelve weeks if we are considering representation. Do let us know straight away if another agent requests your complete manuscript or, indeed, if you receive an offer of representation.  If you have not heard from us within twelve weeks, please take this to mean that we are no longer considering representation. Regrettably, we do not have the time to respond individually to each submission due to the sheer volume that the agency receives and the necessity of fulfilling our obligations to our existing clients. If you do not receive a response, please do not be downhearted. We receive a lot of very strong material but have to feel incredibly passionate about it from the moment we start reading in order to champion it effectively. This makes it a very personal decision, and one which might well differ from other agents.  Many thanks for sending us your work, and we look forward to reading it.
With my best wishes, Madeleine Milburn

Why can’t the others do the same?? It’s unreasonable to expect critiques or advice from agents – though some agents took the time to add an encouraging explanation to their ‘No’  to Woman in a White Coat – but an automatic acknowledgment takes virtually no effort once it is set up.

M is for memoir, Woman in a White Coat

It's fantastic!!
It’s fantastic!!

Can’t quite believe it but it’s true. My memoir Woman in a White Coat has been short-listed for the Tony Lothian Biographers Club  prize.

And they were very complimentary about my writing: I’m writing to tell you that you have been shortlisted for this prize, with your submission ‘Woman in a White Coat’. The judges were immensely impressed by the story you tell and the way you tell it. 

No bites from agents yet but hopefully being shortlisted will help.

Good Fridays and our Writers’ Circle

More jesters' faces
More painted jesters

Always look forward to the Fridays when our writers’ circle meets, especially today when a member who hadn’t been able to make it for some time came with a fascinating piece of diary writing. I am preparing a couple of chapters of my memoir Woman in a White Coat for a competition and brought them to our meeting. Annoying to find things i wish I had changed before sending the MS to agents. But then, every time I open something I’ve written I can’t resist re-editing.

Counting chickens

I'm not counting my chickens, but...
I’m not counting my chickens, but…

I’m not counting my chickens yet, but my fantastic mentor, Stephanie Hale, has already found two agents willing to read my memoir Woman in a White Coat. It covers my life as a Harley Street dentist, co-owner of John Dobbie toyshops, consultant pathologist and director of a cancer research lab as well as the mother of four, married to the same wonderful man for nearly 60 years!!

I know There’s many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip but, having been told there’s no chance of getting a memoir published unless you’re a celebrity, at the very least it’s encouraging.

Wish me luck

Memories I didn’t put in my memoir

EH0791. When I was 2½ my mother took my dummy away. i can remember being pushed in a heavy metal pushchair in Petticoat Lane. My dummy was always tied with a ribbon to a safety pin in my coat or dress and it was gone. I was desolate.

2. A fellow student said he’d ask me to marry him if I’d promise to say No. He said it was to be sure at least one person would ask. I was 18 at the time!!

3. Age 14, being caught without an underground ticket and saying I’d got on later than I did.  I had visions of police and having to go to court but luckily the ticket inspector took pity on me and let me go. I never ever did it again. My mother would never have forgiven me for ‘showing her up’.

From the 9th Floor

Night Sky from the 9th Floor

Excerpt from my memoir Woman in a White Coat

The view from the ninth floor is stunning. It stretches from the London Eye in the East to the MI6 building in the West. In front of me is a cityscape of grey rooftops. Most of the buildings are still dark but a few lighted windows show that some people are already at work. The flags on the Houses of Parliament flap in the breeze and the long sharp leaves on our dwarf palm tree rustle. At this time of day the pods on the London Eye are still empty of people. In the far distance red warning lights on the tallest buildings and cranes look like a constellation of red stars. A lone airplane roars overhead on its way to Heathrow Airport and there is already a steady hum of traffic along Horseferry Road. Big Ben’s face is lit up. I hear it toll the hour.

 

Getting Started

Anyone for Tea

Knitted this tribute to Vivienne Westwood so long ago, I don’t remember how I did it all. Machine knitting was one of the many classes I went to after I retired besides writing. Over the years I went to art history, drawing. painting, cooking, dressmaking, music theory. piano. Spanish, Basque, philosophy and more.

I made a couple of jumpers on my knitting machine but mainly knitted lengths of knitting using pure wool. I then felted it in the washing machine and used the fabric to make myself and my partner fleeces that were light but very warm. I sold my knitting machines some years ago and don’t miss them. The clothes you make yourself seem to last forever. You wish they would wear out so you could buy new ones. Now I mainly use my sewing machines for repairs but recently I did make a complete new set of cushion covers for out living room .