Rosy Cole

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Rosy Cole was born and educated in the Shires of England. Her writing career started in her teens. Four apprentice works eventually led to publication of two novels. Life intervened, but she returned to authorship in 2004. She has worked as a Press Officer and Publisher's Reader and is a member of the Society of Authors. Among widespread interests, she lists history, opera, musicals, jazz, the arts, drawing and painting, gemmology, homoeopathy and alternative therapies. Theology also is an abiding interest. As a singer, she's performed alongside many renowned musicians and has run a music agency which specialised in themed 'words-and-music' programmes, bringing her two greatest passions together. Rosy's first book of poetry, THE TWAIN, Poems of Earth and Ether, was published in April 2012, National Poetry Month, and two other collections are in preparation. As well as the First and Second Books in the Berkeley Series, she has written several other historical titles and one of literary fiction. She is currently working on the Third Book in the Berkeley Series. All her books are now published under the New Eve imprint. Rosy lives in West Sussex with her son, Chris, and her Springador, Jack, who keeps a firm paw on the work-and-walkies schedule!

Travelling With Hope

 

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Measure not the work until the day's out and the labour's done.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

I write therefore I am. To tweak Descartes a little. Even he had to take up the pen!

It's what I do, what I have to do. It is the oxygen of life. To live without it is to skate across the bewildering surface of things, loose in the universe and likely to come to grief.

Writing gives the whole of existence meaning, purpose and dimension. It also lends an overarching sense of direction, threaded with milestones. Rather than the reverse, it actually seems to expand time. Time may fly, but in retrospect, it feels as though distance has been covered. It's that thing where when you've travelled long hours in one day, you can't believe it was only that morning you set out.

In the beginning was the word...and I am in a glorious, perpetual struggle to construe the world as I see and experience it in words, to tame the worst of it and to catch the wonder of it as it flies. As Robert Browning's Fra Lippo Lippi says:

'...we're made so that we love
First when we seem them painted, things we have passed
Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see.'

The epiphany first struck me when I was twelve and confined to bed at home and in hospital for a whole term with rheumatic fever. There was a lot of tedious catching up to do, copying from the work of exemplary pupils at the behest of our teachers. But along with the textbooks and essays came a barrel of goodies, among them a batch of paperback historical novels. English had always been my forte and soon I was itching to try my hand. I came up with a tale set in 1745, the year prior to Culloden – can't remember the title – in which the spunky and beautiful heroine, Kate Barclay (yes, that is rather clairvoyant, though the spelling is different!) and her heroic lover Ashley Somebody, attempted to locate smuggled treasure and were involved in a nail-biting chase by Bow Street Runners.

This colourful tale was destined to remain unfinished. It was back to school with an embargo on sports and dancing for a while. But I had opened the door into a realm I never knew existed, much like Mary Lennox in Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. Here was a magical retreat from unhappiness. None could enter, nor demolish it. Having been confined for several months without the proper use of limbs, I realised that as long as I had a brain, this sanctuary need never be forfeited.

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Well, that was then. The demands of education and the workplace took over the way they do. But I always assumed I'd be an author. I used to daydream during English Literature, as the sun shafted through the high windows on to my halting prose, about getting a novel published before the age of twenty-five. I didn't quite make it, but by the time my first book came out, the precursor edition of Next Year In Jerusalem, I'd written three novels which aroused attention; four, in fact. One I discounted because it was a real muscle-loosening exercise and was too heavily influenced by Jane Eyre – which is surprising since I dislike that novel's air-starved longing

The MSS went the rounds of a small handful of publishers. All responded favourably on sleek headed notepaper - they were different days!! - and described them as close to acceptance, while logging an interest in developments. The rejection slips were to come long after my early published work which included the first edition of My Mother Bids Me. I realised that an apprenticeship had to be served and was convinced I could do better. Of those novice works, only one remains and there are no plans to publish it. The rest were binned long ago!

By the late eighties, Michael Sissons, the distinguished agent at PFD, asked to see my published novels and called for an interview during which he made encouraging sounds about the Mary Cole story. Unfortunately, my circumstances were changing at that point. He told me that if I were ever on the breadline, I'd be a bestseller. (He wasn't the first, or the second, to tell me that, either.) But my nerve failed. I needed to try and secure a steady income and, after seven or eight novels, two of them abandoned, the muse was beginning to stall. The phenomenon of 'overwriting oneself' described by Jane Austen was taking its toll and I shelved novel-writing for many years.

I have written in two genres historical and literary. However, the main thrust of my work is historical, contemporary subjects being addressed in poetry these days.

At present, my head is in all that concerns Book Three of the Berkeley Series, the final novel chronicling the remarkable life of Mary Cole, 5th Countess of Berkeley, who quietly defied most of the female conventions of her day. She is remarkable for having 'done it her way' without rebelling against the social machinery of the Georgian and early Victorian era. Mary was a woman of character, energy, acumen and beauty. She had one or two deadly enemies in high places (whose advances she'd eluded) but, on the whole, people seemed to fall easily under the spell of her gentle integrity. This, in itself, was enough to cause friction.

'In the can', there's a 'modern' novel, Entertaining Angels, long awaiting an editing window. It's the story of a dysfunctional family, struggling with the fallout of two World Wars in pre-Millennium Britain. The structure is experimental and I'm not at all satisfied with it.

At present, my head is in all that concerns Book Three of the Berkeley Series, the final novel chronicling the remarkable life of Mary Cole, 5th Countess of Berkeley, who quietly defied most of the female conventions of her day. She is remarkable for having 'done it her way' without rebelling against the social machinery of the Georgian and early Victorian era. Mary was a woman of character, energy, acumen and beauty. She had one or two deadly enemies in high places (whose advances she'd eluded) but, on the whole, people seemed to fall easily under the spell of her gentle integrity. This, in itself, was enough to cause friction.

'In the can', there's a Marion Grace novel, Entertaining Angels, long awaiting an editing window. It's the story of a dysfunctional family, struggling with the fallout of two World Wars in pre-Millennium Britain. The structure is experimental and I'm not at all satisfied with it. In any case, I may edit out a quarter to a third of each book before it's done.

There's also one volume of poems, The Twain, Poems of Earth and Ether, and two others in preparation. I've been a closet scribe of verse for years, but have never thought to seek publication. This new venture is the result of a warm and enthusiastic response to samples posted on the late Red Room site. The problem with entering competitions and seeking publication under someone else's imprint is that you aren't free to post your poems when and where you like (and where they might very well reach a larger audience!)

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In recent years, writing has become a full-time occupation. This, together with research, blogging, publishing, administering Green Room and generally trying to keep abreast of mine and other websites on which my books have a presence, involves the greater portion of my waking hours.

I set up New Eve Publishing in 2007 and handle all my own work – with the help of a personal contact or two – as I believe it's the only realistic option left for 'midlist' authors. Life's too short to spend years trying to catch the coat-tails of a tired publishing industry which operates on a presumption of rejection. Fiction is a fickle paymaster and the bottom line is that the trade, while it may take a gamble on clones of blockbusters, does not have the money to risk on unknown writers. This won't stop us tearing our hair out and trying to rewrite our story several different ways in order to appeal to a perceived market. Since New Eve began, I haven't submitted at all to mainstream since I don't want to view indie publishing as a default position, but a worthy enterprise in its own right. It could be that in the future, I might do so for a specialist project only.

I'm aware, too, that age is also a drawback in contemporary publishing which is widely suspected to have a Maginot line around the forty mark for unknown writers. Contrast that with the advice when I set out: Never attempt to write fiction before the age of thirty. You won't have digested your life experiences by then. By my count, this gives writers a ten year window to make good within the painfully pedestrian book world.

It's satisfying to be in control of the schedule and the whole creative process of book production. Yes, it does fall behind with unexpected life events, but at least there's no contract to lose. As regards sales, I'm hardly worse off than mainstream which admittedly wasn't wonderful, but I am in a totally different league as regards a steadily expanding readership (which wouldn't be possible inside the constrictions of traditional publishing). Luckily, I have a modicum of experience in publicity and promotion and need to do a lot more on that front. It is, of course, time-consuming, but would a publishing contract relieve this pressure? I don't think so. Not these days.

It will always be a major objective to increase core readership and to generate significant income, but I'm not looking for the Big Time. To be responsible for the process yourself - with the advice of generous contacts - doesn't cost the earth. Yes, it's a steep learning curve and a challenge to your skill-set, but it's a great boost to confidence. It really is like pulling out into the fast lane and seeing obstacles disappear in the rear view mirror.

So, as long as I'm blessed with a brain, I'll keep writing. It's my vehicle. They say it's the journey that counts!

 

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Here's a crystal clear Guardian article on the subject of writing and publishing. Though it concerns children's books, the wisdom holds good for authors in general, especially those who write fiction.

Salient quote: 'If you weren’t happy before you had a book published then you won’t automatically be happy after. And no one really warns you about the hard work involved in being an author: the rewrites, the self-promotion, the disappointment and relentlessness.'

And be sure not to miss To Be Or Not To Be Agented, That Is The Question

Salient quote: 'Publishers have eliminated midlist authors, she told me – the authors publishers traditionally expect to grow. But now they don’t grow writers. Instead they are looking for one hit wonders.'

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
I wonder how may of us have similar origin stories - mine was asthma and the Tom Swift Boy Scientist series.
Wednesday, 05 August 2015 23:35
Rosy Cole
Way back, for a couple of years, I attended a weekly Art Course and I remember a discussion about how inspiration and renewed visi... Read More
Friday, 07 August 2015 18:27
Former Member
There was always the lure of a blank sheet of paper. Drawings and stories. The only things that prompted me to draw and write were... Read More
Thursday, 06 August 2015 04:07
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8 Comments

Minding The Gap

 

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Two jaded English Professors were discussing matters of syntax over a pint in the bar of a quaint Oxford inn called the Dog & Duck. They deplored the sloppy standards of grammar now obtaining among entrants to their colleges and harked back to the time when scientific parsing and correct spelling were an integral part of the syllabus.

While proper use of the subjunctive was admitted to be an arcane mystery, the smooth conjugation of verbs and the distinction between adjectival and adverbial clauses were deemed non-negotiable. They were prime pillars of the English presence on the planet, and the dangling phrase, with the speaker severed from all responsibility for his actions, heralded anarchy. Language was the cornerstone of civilisation. The learned colleagues had conducted their lives upon that premise.

"What gets my goat," said Professor Quill, placing his glass concentrically upon the coaster, "is this vogue for starting sentences in the middle. It's become an epidemic!"

"You mean the use of 'and' and 'but'?" mused Professor Nibb. "Expected to do the office of butler ushering in the guests for dinner?"

"Exactly! 'And' cannot stand sentinel, neither in affairs of prose nor dialogue. 'And' is a conjunction and so is 'but' and 'yet' and 'for' and 'so' and..."

"But you just started two sentences with 'and'. What's worse, you used five more. That's what they do in kindergarten."

"And didn't you start yours with 'but'?"

"There you go again! You can't help yourself. You've transgressed your own rules, but you're making perfect sense."

"Well, that is some consolation at least!" expostulated Quill, his cheeks as red as those on a Toby jug.

"I'm all for fine grammar," said Nibb, "but it must assist fluent communication." He glanced through the window where puffs of cloud were sailing across a Delft-blue sky and thought of dinner plates, his nostrils filling with the aroma of honey-glazed ham. He had changed into a blazer before leaving his rooms and remembered his wallet was still in the corduroy jacket he'd worn for lectures. He had no money but loose coins in his trouser pocket and fell to thinking he would have to conjure a sandwich from the contents of his refrigerator.

Presently, he was struck by an idea. "I'd lay a wager," he said to his disgruntled companion, "that you will use five 'ands' in succession in one coherent sentence in the next half-hour."

"That's absurd, Nibb. You know it is," said Quill, contemplating his drained glass. "Let's have another. And it's your shout, this time!"

"Very well. But the one who's wrong pays for dinner! What do you say?"

"Done!" said Quill. "You will."

"Come with me, dear boy," said Nibb. "I want to show you something I noticed on the way in."

Quill was a little intrigued by now and eager for his free meal, so he followed Nibb through the low door of the inn and out into the yard where a ladder was propped against the rough stone wall. Looking up, he observed a painter still at work on the name sign fixed to the side of the building. The fellow was so absorbed, he scarcely noticed them.

"A grand job he's making," said Nibb, "but it's hard to see straight when the light is fading and your subject's right under your nose. A pity about the lettering."

"What do you mean? Nothing wrong with his spelling."

"He's jumbled it all together. One long word. Don't you see? Looks like something out of Charles Kingsley, or Lewis Carroll."

"So he has," said Quill, stepping backwards, his eyes widening. "There's no space between Dog and and and and and Duck!"

 

Copyright

© Copyright Rosy Cole 2009, 2011 and 2015

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
funny!
Friday, 17 July 2015 23:06
Former Member
At least he didn't begin the sentence with "and". I'm such a noodge (No use looking it up; I doubt if you'll find it.) about gram... Read More
Saturday, 18 July 2015 04:21
Rosy Cole
Well, Charlie, I'm the last person to tell you this particular thing is an absolute 'no-no'. The story is a bit of fun showing how... Read More
Saturday, 18 July 2015 13:01
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4 Comments

When Your Dreams Put On Work Clothes

   

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A year ago today we set sail, a varied collective of writers who find inspiration for living and writing in community...

It's been a great adventure so far...!  

 

 

 

The reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.
Carl Gustav Jung

 

Tell the readers a story! Because without a story, you are merely using words to prove you can string them together in logical sentences.
Anne McCaffrey

 

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it's just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it.
David Sedaris

 

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.
Robert Frost

 

Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what's wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
Neil Gaiman

 

A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
Kenneth Tynan

 

Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.
Benjamin Franklin

 

I have written - often several times - every word I have ever published.
Vladimir Nabokov

 

The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.
Tom Clancy

 

And, finally, some insights from the practitioners of three different arts who were born on this day, July 7th

 

I can read Middle English stories, Geoffrey Chaucer or Sir Thomas Malory, but once I start moving in the direction of contemporary fantasy, my mind begins to take over.
David Eddings

 

Work isn't to make money. You work to justify life.
Marc Chagall

 

It is strange how one feels drawn forward without knowing at first where one is going.
Gustav Mahler

 

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Here's to the next leg of the voyage...!

 

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Copyright

© Copyright Rosy Cole 2015

Recent Comments
Former Member
I wish I could find the quotation so I could be sure to have it right. Also the author who might have been Anne Tyler but maybe no... Read More
Tuesday, 07 July 2015 07:35
Rosy Cole
I didn't know that quotation, but found the source thanks to Wiki and believe this to be reliable. It's Karen Blixen, the Out of A... Read More
Tuesday, 07 July 2015 10:56
Former Member
Of course. Karen Blixen. The quotation as I read it was condensed and altered for space, i assume. It used to be right in front of... Read More
Tuesday, 07 July 2015 15:00
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10 Comments

Underneath The Archives

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As eerie as the Mary Celeste...

 

 

An open portal no longer beckons

We must enter by the back way

picking our way among dream debris

and broken fragments of the life we knew

Memories haunt as from a long-gone era

Can it be only yesterday...?

 

Voices echo in deserted rooms

the walls, womb-red, still hung with portraits

surreal art, visionary vistas

that once burned through the ether

charged with our inspiration

our hope and phosphorescent courage

 

That cyber palace and virtual empire

whose illumination beguiled us into focus

and fed us atmospheres of oxygen

now lies in ruins like ancient Rome

We are no longer tenants, but revenants

the air as dead as a sarcophagus

 

But there we learned community is all

True charity forms pillars, struts and purlins

lends iron, extends knowledge, quells heartache

joy and grief shared, our souls' cement 

the mirror's flash, a lantern kindled

along our corridor of days to other landscapes

 

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Written September 2014 and first published today, one year after the door closed.

Copyright

© Copyright Rosy Cole 2015

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
An elegant tribute.
Saturday, 04 July 2015 00:04
Rosy Cole
Thank you, kind sir.
Saturday, 04 July 2015 00:05
Former Member
I started this morning thinking of your comment that "...most poetry including mine isn't." Then I returned to Underneath The Arch... Read More
Saturday, 04 July 2015 17:51
957 Hits
7 Comments

Latest Comments

Stephen Evans Faith and Grace
20 August 2017
I find finding balance an ongoing struggle. This is a helpful perspective.
Rosy Cole A Word in Appreciation
18 August 2017
Thank you all for the gr8 posts!!!
Rosy Cole A Word in Appreciation
18 August 2017
Lovely to see you again, Nicholas. Hope you'll continue to share with us as often as you have time.....
Nicholas Mackey A Word in Appreciation
17 August 2017
Thank you, Stephen for saying this - couldn't agree more and it's great to find a home that we all c...
Stephen Evans On the Importance of Toasters
11 August 2017
Might have helped his headaches.

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