‘A day at the Circus’, by Penny Canvin aged 8…

My parents have had a rough couple of weeks.  They had a flood in their lounge caused by a burst pipe under the floor, resulting in the whole carpet being lifted up and no heating since it happened.  They still won’t have any warmth in the house for at least two more weeks as they’re waiting for the system to be replaced.   So my Dad has been up in the loft to clear it ready for the work to commence and one of the things he retrieved was a cardboard box which contains old school books that my brother and I had brought home a long, long time ago.

Excitedly, my daughter and I went through it to see what I was like at that young age.  What type of pictures did I draw?  How was my spelling?  But, more importantly for me, what was my storytelling like then?  Would I find signs that I’d one day be a writer?   Well, there was never any doubt that my imagination has always been vivid, and my books proved that.  And I’ll admit that I can over-exaggerate things sometimes…  But I never knew quite how much.

So, here it is… the proof.  Penny Canvin aged 8 was asked, along with her classmates, to write about what she did at the weekend.  My best friend Wendy and I had both gone to a travelling circus which had come to our village. In those days, a circus had clowns and trapeze artists but also live, wild animals performing (yes, i know, but it was ‘normal’ back in those days).  So, we both wrote about our day at the circus.

Wendy’s version:  Wendy wrote about how we went to the circus, queued for 55 minutes and watched the ringmaster and the lions.  A nice story, full of truth, and most probably in her beautiful neat handwriting accompanied with a brill illustration (not that I’m jealous or anything).

Here’s my actual written account of the day.  What the teacher must have thought I have no idea…:

One day I heard my mum and dad say ‘We shall take Penny to the circus’.  So I asked if Wendy could come and they said yes.  We went to my friend’s but her mum said ‘no, you dare take Wendy to the circus, she is mental’. (Now, this is the first untruth as Wendy is most definitely not, or ever has been, ‘mental’.)

‘No she’s not’, I said.  

‘Ok’, said her mum Liz and we went to the car holding hands.  But my parents and brother had been sick so they went home and we went by ourselves to the circus.  

We went inside the tent and got a seat.  The circus began.  The Ringmaster said ‘Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, we shall now have the clowns.’  The funny clowns came on and we started to laugh.  They threw apple pies (I’m pretty sure these would have been custard pies, but let’s not get picky) at each other and went off.  The Ringmaster came in and said ‘A dreadful thing has happened.  A man has put some stuff in the drinks and people have fainted.’  All the people let out a big scream and ran out of the tent expect for me and Wendy.  

‘I think I know who it is that put stuff into the drinks’, I said.  

‘Who?’ asked Wendy.  

‘Listen,’ I said, ‘if the clowns were in the ring and the other people were getting ready, it was the Ringmaster who must have done it’.  We shouted at the Ringmaster, ‘Come here!  You killed the people.’  (Not quite sure how it went from people fainting to being killed)

‘OK, I give up’, he said, ‘I killed them.’ Then I heard Wendy let out a big scream.  The lions were out and we ran out of the tent and became heroes (?) but the Ringmaster was killed.  We put the lions into the cages.  

The end.

Turkey attracts such a lovely bunch of people

I’ve had the most lovely week – complete strangers, who I already now think of as friends, have sent me such touching messages about my book and it’s been a little overwhelming.

It would be true to say that, when I first wrote the book (Friendship, Love and Apple Tea) I didn’t envisage anyone buying it other than my husband, parents and a few faithful friends.  When the sales started to come in I became a little excited and started to believe in myself.  And now?  Well, it’s beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

What has surprised me the most is the amount of lovely people that have found out about my book through the Facebook pages dedicated to all things Turkey… and it’s made me miss the lovely country very much.

We’ve visited Turkey many times over the years.  We’ve seen Marmaris grow (a lot), we’ve visited with friends and we’ve made lots of friends too. We’ve celebrated very special occasions there, including our honeymoon and birthdays and anniversaries.  We took our daughter there when she was 7 months old in my tummy, and returned with her a few months later when she was 11 weeks old.

Tonight I posted a photo on a Turkey related Facebook page and was blown away by how many people responded to tell me they’ve read my book!  I never expected it.  So, thank you to everyone, it means a lot.

Here’s the photo I posted along with another which, for me, sums up the wonderful sense of humour and personality of so many Turkish people.


Moaning feet…

Before I bore you with my moaning feet, may I firstly wish you all a very Happy New Year!   Yes, it’s 2015 already,  and I’d only just got used to 2014.  Rude.

My moaning feet… well, it’s all because I took them out dancing on New Years Eve.  To a party.  i thought they deserved a treat as I don’t think they danced once during the year other than in a ‘Just Dance’ dance-off with our mini-me daughter (who, may I add, I beat all the time despite being an old bird compared to a young whipper-snapper).  I haven’t taken them to any parties, dance classes, nights out… So, I dressed them in a smart pair of shoes, with heels no less, and tights without ladders.  And, we danced, me and my feet, to all sorts of tunes.  There were modern ones (because I’m trendy and fashionable and down with the kids…), and old ones, and in between ones like ‘I’m in the Mood for Dancing’ – Nolan Sisters rock.  And, my feet danced, and danced, and danced.  And, they didn’t complain once during the night.  But, yesterday and today, they are not happy. In fact, they’re miserable and i don’t think I’ll take them dancing again, unless they change their attitude and stop being miserable.  I’m going to dress them in flat shoes and boots, and socks with holes in the toes.

What did you all do for New Year?  We decided to go somewhere glamorous, warm, fashionable, cosmopolitan… Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth.  And it was fab.

So today I’m writing, writing, writing.  Second book needs to be written quickly as I’ve a deadline, and so I’ve started it and, so far, quite like it.  Still so grateful that ‘Friendship, Love and Apple Tea’ has continued to sell over the festive period.  Thank you!!!!  Well, it is set in Turkey after all, which goes with Christmas.

I’m off now to comfort my feet… enjoy the first weekend of the year everyone.   And may 2015 be full of everything you dream of.


Never have a tango with an Eskimo…

I’ve no idea if the title is correct but this is a song I heard yesterday on a Xmas CD when out in the car with our daughter, and I can’t get it out of my head… I mean to say, what does it have to do with Christmas other than Eskimos being in the snow and cold?  And why wouldn’t I want to tango with one?  If an Eskimo ever asks me to, I will most definitely tango with him/her and shall be proud of it.  In fact I may go and start a flashmob dance with loads of Eskimos and non-Eskimos.  Let me know if you’re in…

Pressies are wrapped (eventually).  Actually they were not all bought until yesterday lunchtime.  We had a Xmas dinner last night as we’re out on Xmas Day to family.  We had a duck for a change.  It provided enough meat to feed one of us, must have been the skinniest duck ever, a healthy one, probably went jogging.   But it was very nice indeed.

So we’re tracking Santa via Norad and will be visiting the pantomime after a festive meal.  Well, tapas.  But any meal can be festive when its accompanied by a large glass of wine. Then we’ll sprinkle the reindeer food on the front lawn (haven’t bought any this year so will making some with my porridge and glitter, I hope no reindeers actually eat it) and will be off to bed, ready to be woken at 6am.  Now our daughter is 13 we’ve put a curfew on her where she’s not allowed out of her bed on Xmas morning until 6am.  Actually, am wondering if I can move it on another hour till 7am… might give it a try.

Thank you, dear readers, for giving me the best year ever with all your support for the launch of my first book.  It’s been fab.  Working on the second one, struggling a little as the character is very serious and it’s not something that comes naturally to me… so it will involve lots of research and the study of serious people who don’t smile very much.

Merry Christmas, and have a good one.  And, if you’ve bought duck for the Xmas Day meal tomorrow, make sure you’ve a lasagne or something in the freezer as a back up, and make lots of potatoes to go with it.


Thoughts on Self-Publishing

What’s your thoughts on self-publishing and the writers who do such a thing…?

There I was, really happy that a) I’d written a whole novel  b) I’d found a way to share it with the world  and c) people are reading it and leaving reviews.  And then I came across a forum tonight where someone has burst my bubble that I’d quite happily found myself floating around in.

In response to someone asking about giving ‘Author Talks’ in schools, he replied:  I’m a qualified teacher, and I wouldn’t let a self-published author within a mile of any school I taught in. Quite apart from the oily self-promotion aspect, I don’t think it’s appropriate to teach children to aspire to mediocrity. “Hey kids, write a book, and then stick it on Kindle when no one wants to publish it.”

Now, I’ve no idea if anyone wants to publish my book or not – I never approached an agent or publisher, I just wanted to write a book and publish it.  But, I’m a great believer in encouraging children to read and to write.  And, if they faced the barrier of an agent/publisher rejecting their work, I’d want to show them that they can still achieve their dream, no matter what.

Is this aspiring to ‘mediocrity’?  I’m offended by that comment, on behalf of the children out there who have enough knocks in life and believe they’re not good enough.  Children need to be motivated, encouraged, given options in life.  Would someone telling them about self-publishing harm them in some way??

Ooh, bit cross…what’s your thoughts on this?


Free iBooks copy of my latest book in return for a professional review

I’ve received 11 lovely reviews so far on Amazon after people read ‘Friendship, Love and Apple Tea’ through the Kindle Store.  Thank you to all those that have taken the time and energy to do this, it is greatly appreciated.

I’m very keen to have some independent reviews too, maybe by professional bloggers or media, and I’m able to offer a free copy through iBooks to anyone that would be prepared to be involved.  Please get in touch if you’re interested, or share this through your network of contacts.

Busy, busy, busy with the book, completing some edits ready for the paperback release.  Eeek!  There’s going to be a book launch at a Turkish restaurant in Milton Keynes.  Let me know if you’re interested… I’m hoping it will be in October.  And, I’m busy plotting the storyline of my next book.  At the ideas stage presently, and all I know is that the main character is not very nice at all…!

Have a brill weekend


My Writing Week…

Well, what a week.  Actually, make that ‘what a fortnight’…

Can’t quite believe it’s only 2 weeks since my book went live.  it’s gone really well, and I’ve had some brilliant reviews.  Take a look at the Amazon review list.  If you have read my book, please do leave a review on Amazon.  Feedback is very much appreciated, no matter what, and do recommend to others if you think they would like to read it.

The book is now also available through Kobo and Nook (Barnes & Noble US and UK).   And, is about to go live within the next few hours through iBooks! I’ll post the link when I have it.

The paperback version is on its way… it will be available on Amazon very soon and I’ll post the link.  However, paperbacks will also be available through my website, and from me directly, which may prove to be more cost-effective for those that wish to buy.

And, there will be a local book launch, date and venue to be arranged but it’s looking likely it will involve a Turkish meal at a lovely local restaurant.  Get in touch if interested in coming along, I’d love to see you there!

Lots to do in the next few weeks – I’m arranging a few local book launches at independent bookstores, some guest speaking (eek!) and am in the initial stages of planning a new book.  And, it feels blooming brilliant!!!

Have a great weekend


Website up and running…

Well, I’m a step nearer to the book launch.  I’ve a website now up and running.  It’s short and sweet, but will hopefully grow as time passes.  It now includes the blurb for ‘Friendship, Love and Apple Tea’, and any comments or feedback will be gratefully received.  

It will eventually have the full link and a ‘buy now’ button on the homepage, once the book is ready on the Kindle.   Please do check it out – www.pennycanvin.com

And… I’m going to have a few paperbacks done too!  Yay!!  

Thank you to all those that have given me feedback and have followed my blog and supported me lots…it’s very much appreciated! 

The book has a name!

Giving the debut book a title has actually felt almost as difficult as the writing of the book itself.  So many ideas, but nothing seemed to feel right.

The working title was ‘Jeep Safari’, and I felt very attached to it.  But, it just wasn’t working, not for me or the Illustrator of the book cover.  It didn’t really sum up the book, tell the reader anything about it, set up the story… nothing.

So… after much thought and anguish, I’ve decided on the title.  The book is a chick-lit, rom-com type, and I needed a title that is light-hearted, so, please be ready to welcome…. ‘Friendship, Love and Apple Tea’!

Feedback, as always, will be welcomed…but, it will need to be quick as, once published, I won’t be changing it!

Welcome, and thank you for joining me in my first blog…

Hey, thanks for reading my first blog.  The first blog I’ve written as a ‘pending’ author no less…  The news is,  I’m about to publish my first novel.  Yay for me!!!   An actual novel!  A real, live, writerly one with words in and all sorts.

Now, I’d like to say it’s only taken me a few months but, the truth is, it’s far longer than that.  I’ve been wanting to write a novel since I was at school – yes, just a few years ago (ahem…)  And,  I’ve talked about being a writer for years but have complained continuously that I  don’t have the time/there’s too many demands on me/it’s impossible to be a writer when you work full time and have a family, etc etc … all of that stuff.  And, each New Year, I’ve been depressed that I haven’t met my annual goal of being published in some way when, in actual fact, I haven’t even written anything that could have been published.

A while ago, whilst wallowing in my ‘I’m never going to be a writer’ mood, I asked an author ( a lovely one, who will appear on my links page when my website is up and running)  for some sort of miracle potion which would help me write when I’m so, so busy… and she basically said ‘get off your butt and write, and stop moaning about it, as your book is not going to write itself’…  I’ll always be grateful to her for the straight talking, she was absolutely right.

I found my own method of getting the words onto the page, something quite new that I hadn’t tried before, but that worked really well.  And, to cut a long story short, it’s almost ready to be born.  Yes, I’m in the final stages of labour…  The book  is written, edited, edited again (in fact, edited 10 times but possibly still contains typos and things I’d re-write again and again), and is about to published as an ebook through Kindle.

It’s a weird feeling.  I’m not the most confident of people, not when it comes to my ability in doing anything at all, but I’ve had the most brilliant support and encouragement from so many people.  And now, the last piece of the jigsaw is almost there.  The book cover is being created by a wonderful illustrator who is also my best friend of over 40 years, and it’s very exciting.  Once it’s ready, I’ll be publishing it.  But, before then, I need to get my website up and running and prepare myself for the launch, something I’ve dreamt of for so many years.

The book is written in my maiden name, and the website will therefore be the same – www.pennycanvin.com – I’ll let you know when it’s up and running.  And the title is just about decided on, which I’ll put in a separate blog.

So, thank you to all that are reading this – you’re with me right at the start of this journey and it’s nice to know I’m not alone.   I’ll be posting when the website is launched, and also when the book becomes available on Kindle.

Have a great weekend everyone, wherever you are!