Thursday, December 5, 2013

Change of location for Tottie's Book Blog

Just to let everyone know, who may be following this blog, that I will in future be blogging from the new website for the Sell the Pig series of books, It will hopefully be an easier place to interact, so do drop in, say hello and remember to click to follow the blog, so you will be automatically reminded of any updates.

Thanks, and see you soon!


Monday, November 4, 2013

This little piggy went to America - wee-wee-wee

The American market is such a difficult one to break into, particularly for books written in British English and with a very British sense of humour.

Despite doing very well in the UK, 'Sell the Pig' had done nothing more than land a tentative trotter on the other side of the pond. But thanks to the most amazing marketing help from my new publisher Ant Press, this little piggy has now got all four trotters in the trough Stateside and is the Amazon No 1 bestseller in its Senior Travel category both in US and UK markets.

I had so much help from New York Times bestselling author Victoria Twead. Sell the Pig went on special promotion for the month of October through various outlets but notably through the amazing BookBub who were fantastic to work with and incredibly helpful. It was a nail biting time waiting to see if the sales would start to go up and huge thanks to Victoria for being constantly at the end of a message to reassure me, and to put up with my squeaks of delight as little old Pig started its steady climb up through the rankings.

There are more than 1.5 million books in Amazon's Kindle store and Pig made it up to #No 54 of all of them, a truly remarkable effort for a modest little first instalment memoir in a fairly specialised market. And Pig's spectacular rise has had a great effect on little brother 'Is That Billinge Lump?' which has also reached No 1 in its category on more than one occasion.

So now I suppose I had better get on and write Part III. I promised to start it this winter. As we often get snowed up here, it's good for making me sit down and write as there is not a lot else I can do. They are threatening us with the worst winter in 100 years, so I dread to think what that is going to be like. Just as long as I still have electricity - my hands are getting too bad to hand write a full length book these days!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Book reviews - the best present you can give any author!

If you have an author in your family or circle of friends and you're wondering what Christmas present to get them, it's simple. There is nothing an author likes better than book reviews. You will certainly have left your glowing 5-star review already, but why not ask your friends to do the same, if they've read the book?

I don't personally celebrate Christmas but do make a humble thing of Yule, with plenty of pagan trappings.

I'm a little unusual, as those who know me will agree, in that I love all reviews, be they 1-star or 5-star. Because whether or not the reader liked your book, they have been moved enough to take the time to leave their comments.

One of my recent favourites was a 1-star with the comment Ehh for Sell the Pig. I had no idea what it meant so I had to look it up in the Urban Dictionary. It seems it's a non-committal sort of word much favoured by Goths. Now I thought Goths were not easily stimulated to do very much, so I was thrilled at the idea that somewhere, in some bedroom, a black-clad teen had gone to all the trouble to log onto Goodreads and leave a comment on my little book.

But of course like any vain author, my favourites are the 5-star reviews and I'm thrilled to say both Sell the Pig and the sequel Is That Billinge Lump have each recently received one from an Amazon Vine reviewer. These people are in the top 1000 reviewers on Amazon. In my case, the lady in question is ranked at 944.

Rhosmynydd Liz had this to say about Sell the Pig: 'By chance, I stumbled upon this incredible book. The title may seem innocuous, but it has a really appropriate meaning to the content. All will be revealed! Not only does "Sell the Pig" by writer, Tottie Limejuice (her inventive pen name), it qualifies the reasons for a removal to France, particularly with an elderly relative and dog in tow (as we are intending to do).It also gives the reader an overview of the planning stages, viewing of properties and various guidelines to dealing with French estate agents, underscoring "buyer beware".

I had previously purchased "retiring to France" and "Living in Rural France" both excellent reference books but no real personality. Tottie Limejuice certainly gives the reader a feel for her own circumstances, many of which we can relate to but also makes a hilarious read out of a serious situation. I even gave the copy to my 91 year old mum-in-law, who will be joining us, and it was great to hear her chuckle and reminisce about her own sister's experiences in a UK residential home - a fate she was terrified of.

No doubts now, as soon as we have sold (when/if) we will be taking a much happier elderly traveller than before. We also picked up on her advice to purchase a RV to travel in comfort for the 1,000 mile trip for not only one mum but two and not one dog, but two!

Even if you are not contemplating crossing the channel, this is a great autobiographical read and please do not forget to buy the sequel of arrival and life in La Belle France. "Is that the Billinge Lump" Is that Billinge Lump?'

And in very short order, the same reviewer read Is That Billinge Lump and had this to say about it: 'Having read Tottie Limejuice's first book about the many reasons why she contemplated and planned a removal to France with brother, elderly mum and elderly dog in tow, I was so anxious to get my hands on the sequel, ordered on the dot of finishing the last page. Thanks to Amazon's Prime delivery system, I did not have long to wait and had my hands on the volume "Is that the Billinge Lump?" the next day and read it that night - I simply could not put it down, it was so good. As we are contemplating a similar venture, complete with mum(s) (yes that is 2!), and dogs (again 2). We are taking Tottie's advice in "Sell the Pig" to purchase an RV to make the 1,000 mile trip in comfort - super advice.

The reasons we are making our move are similar to Tottie's, primarily lack of help with our aging parents and the ensuing medical assistance (or lack of) in the UK. I thought I had done all the preparative reading with the usual culprits advertised in the property mags but found they had missed the real gem. This excellent book not only provides a very personal example of the caring possibilities and medical care in rural France, but also hands on experience and advice. I am now touching base for the necessary medical forms here and know how NOT to behave in confronting the French social services and medical community. These lessons are invaluable. Tottie has her share of problems and I know we will meet some of these so it has put us in good standing to know what to expect. However, the book is so well written, you do not need the excuse of moving to France to read this. It is a stand alone adventure that would make anyone laugh out loud and cry in the chapters recounting her good and bad times. Even if we are lucky enough to sell our smallholding in Wales and make the trip, I will be waiting with baited breath for the next volume.

Both "Sell the Pig" and "Is that the Bllling Lump?" are stand alone novels, while it would be preferable to read both, either novel on its own presents the reader with a completed story. My conscience will not let me reveal the ending but it was so well completed that my hearty congratulations to the author for being able to share with her readers her emotions and the toll they took during her adventures in the UK and France. Sell the Pig (Sell the Pig series) - again, read this and you will weep but laugh and enjoy and like me, seek out the next soon to be published 3rd volume.'

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A welcome break in the Cantal after the launch of Sell the Pig sequel

Giving birth to a book is an exhausting process, I can tell you! Once 'Sell the Pig' sequel 'Is That Billinge Lump' was safely published by Ant Press, I was in need of a break, a bit of R&R. So I headed once more to the beautiful and peaceful Lac des Estives at Montgreleix in the Cantal.

I had an old friend staying so took him with me and once again we were lucky enough to have the pretty and funky yellow chalet I stayed in in July, with its peaceful views of cattle grazing on the summer pastures. My friend was really blown away by the fabulous scenery and the abundance of wildlife.

He also quickly became a convert to the fabulous food in the Auvergne, and was delighted with how friendly and welcoming the people are. On our last evening, we ate at table with the hosts and about a dozen French guests, from various parts of France.

We had a lovely time driving round the beautiful area, seeing all the sights, including watching a short toed eagle hunting. Of course, the dogs, Ci and Fleur came too. Fleur was having a blonde moment and kept wriggling out of camera shot, and even Ci would only show his rear view!

On our way back, we visited the national Maquis memorial and museum  at Mont Mouchet. As my friend said, if it hadn't been for the French resistance stopping the Germans in their tracks in the Massif Central and preventing them from getting to Normandy, some of us would not be here today. His father drove a mine-seeking tank on the beaches.

We also visited the splendid Garabit viaduct, another stunning example of Eiffel engineering.

So the sequel is safely launched and it and Sell the Pig are taking it in turns to hold the No 1 and 2 slots in their category on Amazon.

As soon as the winter nights start drawing in so I can't be tempted to play outside, I promise to make a start on Part 3 of the tale of Tottie's adventures in France.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Do you love memoirs? You are not alone!

What do writers do when they are not writing? Mostly hang out together talking about books!

I've recently joined a Facebook group called We Love Memoirs. It was started up by New York Times best-selling author Victoria Twead of Ant Press, publishers of Sell the Pig Sequel 'Is That Billinge Lump'.

If you're interested in memoirs, books, reading, authors, chatting, making new friends or whatever, it's a great group to join. It's very relaxed - it must be, as for some reason they have made me a moderator. I'm sure it's a huge honour - if only I knew what I was supposed to do!

Now that 'Lump' is out, he and 'Pig' are displaying lots of sibling rivalry and taking it in turns to beat each other in the rankings. As I write this, 'Pig' is No 1 in its category on Amazon, with baby brother 'Lump' at No 2.

I shall be doing a book signing for both at my favourite French watering hole, Bar Le St Thomas on September 15th, when there is a lamb roast there.

Meanwhile, to recover from all the hard work of publishing 'Lump', I am off down to the Cantal tomorrow  for a couple of days, with a friend, staying in a little chalet near a lake at Le Lac des Estives, which is up on the high plateau where the cattle graze for the summer.

We're staying in the same funky yellow chalet I had last time I was there in July. 

So don't forget to drop in to the We Love Memoirs group on Facebook. I look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Living The Good Life, France

Lots of people head to France looking for The Good Life. Some even find it. So I was very pleased when The Good Life, France, gave a favourable review to Sell the Pig, and included an interview with me.

It's a very nice and a favourable review, kindly written by someone who has clearly taken the trouble to read the book in question which, sadly, is not always the case in reviews.

It begins: 'It certainly is an attention grabbing title and author name and you will probably be thinking what does it mean?' and goes on to say: 'Endearing, warm, a good dollop of humour and a lot of honesty have gone into the story of her life with family anecdotes skilfully woven through, Lesley doesn’t hold anything back and is unfailingly upbeat about whatever has befallen her in life.'

It comes at a very good time as the sequel, Sell the Pig, is nearing publication, so if you've not yet read 'Pig', now's a good time to do so, before you embark on the sequel, 'Is That Billinge Lump'.

I notice some other authors interviewed on the same site have their serious or arty authory type pictures. Me being me, I just chucked in one of my favourites of me, standing on top of La Banne d'Ordanche, part of the Massif du Sancy, a favourite place of mine to visit and go camping. 

Must go now, am in the middle of what I sincerely hope will be the final final final edit of the sequel!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Can you help with reviews for Sell the Pig please?

I wonder if some of you kind Sell the Pig readers can help me please? On the Amazon UK site, 'Pig' has done very well indeed for reviews, with 60 x 5-star reviews.But the .com and French sites are lagging some way behind.

The sequel is now finished and with the publishers, Ant Press. Leading up to the launch of the sequel (for those who have not yet seen the announcement, it's called 'Is That Billinge Lump?') it would be nice to give 'Pig' a boost, especially in the US market.

I have the chance of some excellent publicity but 'Pig' needs at least 25 x 5-stars on the US site which it has not yet got.

If you have an account with Amazon, you can leave your review of any of the sites. So if you have already left a review on the UK site, would you be very kind and add it also to the US one? There's probably a clever way of doing it automatically but I'm a technophobe so I don't know. If it were me I would simple copy and paste.

It really would be an enormous help and I would be forever grateful.

Thanks so much if you can spare the time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sell the Pig sequel - news about 'Lump'

Now here's the delivery news you've all been waiting for - the sequel to Sell the Pig!

Little baby 'Lump' has safely past through the hands of editor Victoria Twead without too much of a mauling and I'm now going through her excellent suggestions to lick it into shape. Victoria is meanwhile designing the cover and it is her publishing company Ant Press which will be publishing. Which means that 'Lump' is already officially an 'awesome book'!

And the very good news is that 'Lump' will be available both for Kindle and Paperback more or less at the same time. So there'll be no excuse not to buy it!

Keep your eye on the Sell the Pig - Tottie Limejuice page on Facebook for full details of publication dates.

Meanwhile here's a picture connected to the sequel, to tempt and intrigue you ;)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Peace, perfect peace - Lac des Estives

So where does the bestselling author of Sell the Pig choose to go on holiday? Clearly it needs to be in my beloved Auvergne, from which I have not ventured since I arrived in March 2007.

My best friend Jill, whom you may remember from Sell the Pig, came to visit, so together we ventured south to the Cantal, up to the Cézallier plateau. We stayed in a funky yellow chalet at the Lac des Estives, at Mongreleix, the highest village in the Cantal.

The estives are the summer pastures where the cattle, mostly Salers and Aubrac, go for the summer to graze on the abundant wild herbs and flowers. The view from our chalet was of the pastures and hills, and we could watch the cattle marching purposefully up and down in the evening, probably going for a drink as they aren't being milked.

Lac des Estives has a good sized lake for fly fishing, well stocked with some large fish, and with the largest collection of different dragonflies I have ever seen in one place.  I also saw a big crayfish. 

It was blissfully quiet and, in between exploring some of the local sites, like the beautiful Brion, famous for its cattle marts, Jill and I spent most of our time just reading and chilling.

We had a wonderfully relaxing time. Our evening meal the first night was taken with hosts Alain and Ghislaine, a lovely couple, very friendly and welcoming. They went to a lot of trouble to produce a meal which I could eat, with my dietary constraints.

Our chalet could sleep six, so at only €300 the week in high season, it's a very reasonable place to stay for a group of friends or a larger family.

Highly recommended, if you like peace and quiet.

So now it's back to work on the sequel.  Just going through editor Victoria Twead's very useful comments and amendments. Then Ant Press will be publishing "Lump" very soon.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Killing me softly with his song - Roberta Flack

Those of you who follow my ramblings on Facebook will know that I've been in a state of great excitement since our factrice (post lady) called this morning with a very special parcel for me.. And as a result of the contents of said parcel, my earworm all day has been the very beautiful Roberta Flack song Killing me Softly.

For those who don't know it, and you really should listen to it, Roberta wrote it after going to see Don McClean (American Pie) sing and being amazed at the poignancy and the relevance to her of his songs.

Through an old friend, Robin Eccles, I was introduced, via Twitter and Facebook, to the very lovely  Kay Prout.  I knew she made unique miniatures, a way of telling someone's life in intricate detail, and I was thrilled when she said she would make one for me.  That was the parcel that came today.

I have never met Kay in the flesh but have always called her my soul sis.  She has the most amazing talent for soaking up every tiny detail about someone from their briefing ramblings on social media and logging them all away in her phenomenal memory.  She also has an incredible witchy way for knowing things she can't possibly know through normal means.

She told me to open it outside as it risked making a mess.  I was expecting those expanded polystyrene things like cheesy puffs. But no, my nose told me right away that it was lovingly packed in hay.  Real hay. And very good too.  I know about these things, I have stable management certificates to prove it.

The first thing I saw was the stable. I've always been horse mad. I learned to ride at Offerton School of Riding.
Just look at the detail. The stable is half timbered, in the magpie style typical of Cheshire, where I'm from.  Each individual roof tile has been made and placed by hand. There's even a climbing white rose, as I'm growing a Kiftstgate rose just like it.

Inside the loose box  is a mare and foal. The mare is exactly like my old Cleveland Bay x Thoroughbred mare, Sally. The foal is the spitting image of my best friend Jill's horse, Cinnabar, or Cinna to his friends.
There are so many tiny details I can't list them all, but you can see the clippers hanging on the wall just as you go in, all ready to clip Sally when she starts getting her winter coat. Now just look at my fabulous tack room (oops, it won't rotate!)
I love cleaning tack! The smell and the feel of the glycerine saddle soap. And look - driving harness! Fabulous, lots and lots to clean, and the real Cinna is broken to drive, too. The little lamp even works, so I can see to make up evening feeds.

Next comes my other miniature, and there is just so much to show you.Top right are pictures of my dogs,
dear old Meic and my current horrors Ci and Fleur. Below them is HRH, my part Siamese cat, with her little emerald crown (which has tipped over and I couldn't right it.) Under that is my favourite painting by the artist Alan J Slater. And in the corner, a tiny little pig, a nod to Sell the Pig, of course.
Over on the left, there's mention of the other great passion in my life - cowboys! That's Cameron Mitchell's face, Uncle Buck from the High Chaparral, for which I wrote an episode and look! At the bottom, that must surely be Pancho from the Cisco Kid, or perhaps Tuco from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?
"Telling my life with his words" says the song. But my new treasures tell my life in the most amazing and unique way. And it is unique. No-one else will ever have the same as I have, made with such skill and knowledge and love.

So now do please excuse me - I have horses to feed and harness to clean once more.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sell the Pig sequel is officially "awesome"

I promised you some exciting news about the sequel to Sell the Pig, and here it is. I've just received confirmation that the indie publisher Ant Press has agreed to publish it. And as you can see from their website, they only take on "awesome books and awesome authors".

Ant Press is "a small, family-run, dynamic publishing company with a passion for engrossing, well-written books". And furthermore, they state: "Ant Press will only accept books they love and believe in." So I'm even more thrilled that they have agreed to take the sequel.

One of the faces behind Ant Press is New York Times best-selling author Victoria Twead, who wrote Chickens, Mules and Two Old FoolsTwo Old Fools - Olé, and Two Old Fools on a Camel. 

The Pig sequel is written, the deal is done, I just now need to trim and tidy up my final draft, send it to Victoria for proof-reading and formatting, then it will be available soon in Kindle format, to be followed by a paperback at a later date.

So there you have it.  Keep watching this space for the publication date!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Royal birth - Sell the Pig reduced to celebrate

As I'm sure you all know, there's a very important royal birth coming up. No, not that one. This will be the birth of Sell the Pig's baby brother (or sister).

So for July only, Sell the Pig is on special offer price for the Kindle edition across the usual Amazon channels. On Amazon UK it will be £2.35. So now's your chance to find out why it has 70 customer reviews,  59 of them 5-star, putting it at No 1 in its Speciality Travel category.

And on Sell the Pig is down to just $3.50.

The sequel is now finished and will be out very shortly, hopefully by autumn. Look out for some very exciting news about a possible new publisher!

You don't absolutely have to read Sell the Pig before the sequel, but at those prices, why not? Sell the Pig is also available in paperback format and you can get FREE worldwide delivery from The Book Depository.

It's a great summer read - why not give it a go?

Sell the Pig - better by design

I was really pleased with the design done for me for the book cover for Sell the Pig in paperback.. The photo perfectly captured the beauty of this region of the Massif Central.

We authors are a vain bunch. I was Google searching randomly on "Sell the Pig - Tottie Limejuice" when I came across this nice blog from Zak Erving, the designer who worked on the cover.

It was the first direct contact I'd had with Zak and I was pleased to tell him how well his cover had been received. I was able to tell him I have had lots of positive feedback for it too from readers, too.

And he in turn was delighted with my feedback to him: "I did in fact work on the cover, and I loved your feedback! I also stole a read at the first chapter and found it very entertaining."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sell the Pig gets bigged up by a lamb

Today I spent an enjoyable time chatting to a lamb. Yes, really. Young Ida de Ouessant not only has her own Facebook page but also her own blog in which she kindly gives a mention to Sell the Pig.

It seems her person has read Sell the Pig and enjoyed it, so this very enterprising little lamb decided to give it a bit of a plug on her blog. In her diary entry No 15 she pinched a link I used on my blog to the very lovely Shepherd's Song from Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne, the music which first inspired me to visit this region which is now my home.

A very appropriate song for a clever young lamb!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Review of Sell the Pig from award winning book author

When I was a little girl of about six, my father was the editor of the Stockport Advertiser, the local weekly paper in our hometown. One of his reporters was an exotic Indian journalist, Sunanda Datta-Ray, then in his very early 20s.

I thought him incredibly dishy and, being a very precocious small child, distinctly remember telling him that if he stopped having any more birthdays until I caught up with him, I could then marry him.

He quickly moved on from Stockport, going on to become roving features editor and later editor of The Statesman.   His travels took him back to India, to Hawaii and to Singapore but he always kept in touch with my parents and for a long time, always signed off his letters to them with a short message for me – “still waiting”.

Inevitably though, I was forgotten and he went on to marry and have a son. He and his family continued to visit my parents from time to time and stayed in contact with my mother after my father's death.  Mother introduced them to the delights of the Cheshire jumble sales and helped Sunanda find some collectible pieces of blue and white porcelain.  But as Mother fell prey to dementia, that contact too was lost.

Sunanda has been published in Asia, Europe and the United States. He has been described as: “an elegant writer with an eye for story-telling and a no–nonsense analytical pen.”  From time to time, I would catch glimpses of his articles, such as his famous piece on Mother Teresa.  But inevitably over time, we more or less lost contact, especially when my brother, my mother and I moved to France in 2007.

Then a few months ago, I received an email, purporting to come from Sunanda and from the last email address I had for him, saying he was on holiday in Spain, had been robbed of all his worldly goods and could I possibly help out with a loan to set him back on his feet?

Now being a cynical ex-journalist myself, I know an email scam when I see one. I also knew there was no way it was from Sunanda since he would a) know there was no use asking me for money as I never have any and b) never be in that position, since an internationally renowned journalist of his calibre would only have to go to the nearest newspaper office to receive all the assistance he might need.

But just in case, I tracked down his son via the miracles of Facebook and discovered, as I expected, Sunanda's account had been hacked and he was fine and we got back in touch.  I mentioned, in passing, that I had written a book and he said, also in passing, as I thought, that he would read Sell the Pig.

Now some people are very sceptical of book reviews left by friends, family and friends of family. But I find they are some of the harshest critics, especially of something as deeply personal as Sell the Pig.  I was particularly worried that the picture I painted of my father would be vastly different to the public face of him Sunanda had known on the Stockport Advertiser.

So I was, as they say, tickled pink when Sunanda contacted me again with his review of my little book.  It's not yet up on Amazon as like me, Sunanda is still finding his way round the wonders of t'internet and has not yet succumbed to the Amazon shopping phenomenon so doesn't have an account with them.

But here, in his own words, is what this eminent journalist has to say about my modest little memoir:

“Having known Lesley Tither when she was a girl in Cheshire, I knew a book by her would be both witty and illuminating. But I must confess I wasn’t prepared for quite such a poignant mix of the funny and the sad as Sell the Pig.

One could say fate didn’t stint with raw material. Not every English girl has a Luxembourgeoise grandmother, a gifted journalist for a father (who was my editor) and a mother with an artistic eye as much for English country gardens as for precious old porcelain. Lesley’s own eventful life and her brother’s escapades add to the treasure trove she can draw on. But it’s what she has made of all this material that really signifies her talent.

As an Indian journalist who has lived in England, India, Singapore and Hawaii, I found the effortless ease with which Lesley leapfrogs cultural chasms especially fascinating. She has produced a very enjoyable account with a serious underlay of an English family's move to France, and of how the daughter of the house takes on a man's job (MCP?) to overcome a host of challenges.”

Thank you so much, Sunanda, for your very kind words. They almost make up for you forgetting to wait long enough to marry me.  Almost.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Highest praise yet for Sell the Pig?

Like any writer, I love all the comments I get, good or bad. At least it shows people are reading Sell the Pig. But when the writer of the No 4 ranked booked on the Authonomy website leaves a comment like this, I'm absolutely over the moon.

"As a personal historian, I have worked with some well-known individuals and listened to some amazing stories. Not often do I come across one as entertaining and as down to earth as Sell the Pig. I wish I could have given it 10 stars. Tottie is an incredible writer and has the gift of infusing side bursting humor into some serious writing. She is hilarious as she takes you on a roller-coaster adventure with her family.

In this day of whiny auto/biographies, this book is a breath of fresh air. It is a lesson in accepting and appreciating what life throws at you. I didn't expect her memoir to be as funny, as resonant and as humble. I took my time reading Sell the Pig; I didn't want it to end. Tottie is gutsy and honest. I hope she continues to write.

So what makes this memoir so special? As with fiction, it's all about voice: the fairy dust that brings words to life, gives them a heartbeat. Tottie has a voice many authors would love to call their own.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants a shot of reality with plenty of humor to wash it down!"

Jennifer Braun
Wednesday's Child

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The facts behind the Market Rasen Portas Pilot scheme

Some of you may wonder why I'm writing about Market Rasen on my book blog. It's because it used to be my home town, and I hope soon to have a retail outlet for Sell the Pig in paperback through its Mr BIG Corner Shop.

In the ten years I lived near Market Rasen, at Stainton le Vale in the Lincolnshire Wolds AONB, it was, like many market towns throughout rural England, slowly dying the death. A Tesco on the edge of town was drawing footfall away from the high street, which was starting to look shabby and forlorn, with many boarded up business premises.

When Queen of Shops Mary Portas launched her Portas Pilot project to revive high streets, Market Rasen put in a very determined bid and became one of the first winners to be announced, against stiff competition from many other towns, often much bigger and with more clout.

A year on into the Portas Pilot project, the BBC did a round-up of progress, or lack of it, of the winning towns. Look North visited Market Rasen and, despite being given all the facts of its amazing success story by my colleague and very good personal friend Sarah Lamballe, they did a pretty effective hatchet job, painting a truly dire picture.

I'm so glad I am no longer a journalist. In my day, we were expected to present facts from both sides, with minimum embellishment. This was just an assassination attempt.

So here are the true facts of Market Rasen's success and regeneration. Read the Mr BIG (Market Rasen Business Improvement Group - mission statement "Crack on") blog and judge for yourself if this is a town in decline, or a truly outstanding effort by a bunch of dedicated volunteers who are determined to breathe life back into their town.

Read it, then leave a comment here, if you would be so kind.

Monday, June 3, 2013

More praise for Sell the Pig

Like most writers, I am a shameless tart for feedback. I absolutely love reading what people have to say about Sell the Pig on various sites Like Amazon.

But perhaps some of the hardest to come by is that dished out, often very grudgingly, by the ferocious pack of fellow writers on sites such as Authonomy. So it's always nice to get some positive feedback on there, like the latest comment for Sell the Pig from author Bea Sinclair:

"I have now finished reading all of the posted MS and can confidently say that "Sell The Pig" is a well written and very enjoyable memoir. The author's good humour shines through, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Tottie is not afraid to say those things that we often keep to ourselves. Every character is drawn in just the right amount of detail and the story flows from their reactions to the trials that befall them. I wish this book every success and it remains on my shelf."

Authonomy has a complicated ranking system whereby books move up through the ratings according to the number of comments they have, and who has left them, and how many bookshelves they are on. Of several thousand books on the site, little old Sell the Pig is currently sitting at No. 285, having shot up the charts in the very short time it has been there, only since February 2013.

All the more amazing as non-fiction, and memoirs in particular, often performs quite badly there.

So if you've not yet read Sell the Pig why not give it a go? The sequel should be out by the autumn and watch this space for some very exciting news about a change of publisher for the sequel.

Although it's not essential, you'll get more of a feel for the sequel if you read Pig first. It's available from all the usual Amazon outlets as well as from The Book Depository, who offer FREE worldwide delivery. What are you waiting for?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fame across the pond for Sell the Pig

Little old Sell the Pig is getting more widely known. Spotted a press release about in on this US News website, under Press Releases.

It's a site full of serious topical news stuff, including the asteroid near miss and stuff on Apple shares. So it was really pleasing to see Sell the Pig up there amongst all the others.. Why not check it out?

But after all, perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised - after all, there is a coveted blue plaque for me at my old village in Lincolnshire, Stainton le Vale ;)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

When someone is trying to crack on, do they deserve a kick in the teeth?

 I used to be a journalist (boo, hiss). Am so glad I no longer am. The amount of seriously flawed and biased reporting I see these days disgusts me. I saw an appalling example last night on the BBC. It really struck home to me, since it was about Market Rasen, my old "home town", and featured someone I am proud and privileged to call a friend. 

Before I moved out to France, I had a little "grottage" (formerly a grotty cottage) in the Lincolnshire Wolds, in the much sought-after tiny village of Stainton-le-Vale. I started working as a freelance copywriter for Sarah Lamballe Copywriting, and Sarah became a very great friend.

Market Rasen in those days was like many other small market towns - slowly dying the death. A Tesco on the edge of town was bleeding the lifeblood out of the High Street, footfall was dwindling away to nothing, shops were being boarded up. A familiar picture in many parts of rural Britain.

Then Queen of Shops Mary Portas launched the Portas Pilot project, a chance for towns to bid for a valuable cash injection to encourage High Street regeneration. Little Market Rasen, population 3,230, was one of the smaller towns to try its luck, and was one of the first 12 winners to be announced, beating off competition from 370 towns.

My friend Sarah Lamballe was one of driving forces behind Mr BIG, the Market Rasen Business Improvement Group, whose mission statement is "Crack on." Having lived and worked in Lincolnshire myself for more than 10 years, I know it's not always easy to drive change - the local population, known affectionately as "yellow bellies" are sometimes a little resistant to new initiative.

Improvements were quickly under way. Money was spent on a much needed town tidy. More was invested in regenerating the market, with its lovely character-filled cobbled town square and covered market area. Pop-up markets were held, hugely successful, drawing in people from the surrounding areas and visibly breathing life back into the town. The extraordinary pop-up market prompted Mary Portas herself to tweet: "Truly fabulous, guys."

And when Mary returned to visit the town, she announced her delight at what had been achieved.

So I was really excited to sit down and watch Look North last night to see my friend Sarah being interviewed about the success of the project. Instead I saw her trying hard to set the record straight with facts when being hit with data alleging more shops had actually closed since the Pilot project began.

I've known Sarah for more than 12 years. A person of higher integrity would be harder to find, nor anyone more hard-working, and that can also be said of the many volunteers who have put their all behind this project.

The data presented was flawed and out of date. Some shops have relocated, not closed down. Sarah explained as much to the interviewer before filming began. But it was glossed over - in an attempt to create a "better" story? What a sickener for all those involved.

I've been following the Mr BIG blog with envy, reading of all the wonderful things which are now happening in Rasen. I'm in discussion to use the new BIG corner shop as a retail outlet for Sell the Pig - that's how much I believe in the success of the project. It's not just about opening more shops, it's about putting the heart back into a community, which is certainly what is happening in Market Rasen.

I must be older than I thought. When I trained in journalism at the Harris Institute, Preston, back in the 70s, we were actually expected to get facts for our stories and present evidence for our claims, balanced by full right of reply for both sides. This was just gross misrepresentation of the worst possible kind.

As Sarah told me afterwards: "It's crushing, just so sad for the volunteers who put so much in."

So come on, Look North, here's a challenge. Make public your data, in which you say more shops have closed since the project began, and allow Mr BIG to present their data to show why yours is inaccurate. Surely that's fair?




Wednesday, May 29, 2013

FREE prize draw coming soon - honestly, it really is!

I know I keep promising you another FREE prize draw to win a signed copy of Sell the Pig. And it really is coming soon.

It's just that I have the chance to link it into an exciting event which should bring in more readers from around the world, and I'm not in charge of the date for that.  So please bear with me, I will launch the prize draw as soon as I can.

As usual, there will be one very simple question, the answer to which you can easily find here amongst the posts on this blog, or on the Sell the Pig - Tottie Limejuice page on Facebook.

And because you've all been very patient in waiting for this month's prize draw, and there can only be one winner, I have a special offer for those of you who don't win.  For one day only, after announcing the name of the winner, I will drop the paperback price, so you can all take advantage of lower price to get your copy.

I can't tell you exactly by how much it will drop - those of you who have read Sell the Pig already or who follow me on Facebook or Twitter will know I'm dyscalculic, can't do numbers, and certainly not percentages. But I will drop it by whatever I can.

So be patient a few more days and in the meantime, have a glance through the posts here on the blog for anything about Tottie Limejuice - whoops, was that a great big clue I just gave you?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

So who is Tottie Limejuice?

Everyone always wants to know where I got the name Tottie Limejuice, the pen-name under which I wrote Sell the Pig and which I also use for my Facebook and Twitter names.

Well she's an invention of my late Auntie Ethel, mother's older sister. She was the one who never married, whose role was helping her mother with the large brood. Auntie had a wonderful way of making up words and phrases, like a floper-dopperer, for someone who was a bit foppish, or kneely-knawling down, for when you kneel but also have to scrabble about a bit. Auntie was a dress-maker, seamstress and milliner so when she was pinning up hems, she had to do a lot of kneely-knawling.

Mother with her family. From left to right: younger sister Doris, younger brother John, brother in law Leslie, (the Judge, Doris's husband), mother, and older sister Ethel.

As Auntie got older she got very confused and would accuse glamorous and well-off younger sister of coming to her house and stealing her home-made knickers and swanning around "like Tottie Limejuice". I liked the name so much, I claimed it for my own.

At one of Doris's many luncheon parties at the "Big House": Left to right: Auntie Ethel, Uncle Leslie, Auntie Doris, Uncle John, Mother.

It was Auntie Ethel who encouraged me to buy my grottage in Lincolnshire when it was in such an awful state the surveyor I got to check it over for mortgage purposes described it as "unfit for human habitation!".  She was a frequent visitor, with mother, to my homes wherever I lived, including travelling by coach out to Germany where I lived for four years.

Like mother, she was always interested in gardening so whenever they visited, we always took a trip to a local garden centre or park.

               Mother with her older sister Ethel, the creator of "Tottie Limejuice"

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters

My mother, who was very much the star of Sell the Pig, had two surviving sisters, little Florrie having died in infancy.  Older sister Ethel never married and was always the home-maker, helping her mother look after her three brothers and two sisters, plus all their friends who were always visiting.

Mother used to tell me that at bedtime, her mother would line the whole tribe up and go along the line with a face flannel and would sometimes discover children who weren't her own, obediently lining up with the rest.

Auntie Ethel was forever making up words, and she was the creator of the character of Tottie Limejuice. I liked it so much I borrowed it and it rather stuck.

                                   Mother and older sister Ethel, the creator of "Tottie Limejuice"

Younger sister Doris was the dizzy blonde who made the not so dizzy marriage to a future judge and enjoyed the lifestyle that went with it, the big house, the endless social whirl of dinner parties and the holidays in Africa and the Far East.

                                            Mother and younger sister Doris

FREE prize draw - win a signed paperback copy of Sell the Pig

Watch out for another FREE prize draw coming very soon. As usual, an easy to answer question for the chance to go into the draw. You'll find the answer to the question on the Sell the Pig - Tottie Limejuice page on Facebook , often in the photo albums, or if you've read the book already, you'll know it. The prize is a personally signed copy of the paperback version of Sell the Pig. So keep an eye out for the qualifying question, coming SOON.

Sell the Pig is available from most Amazon outlets, including .com and . If you prefer not to buy from Amazon, you'll find it at The Book Depository with FREE worldwide delivery, and Barnes & Noble

Why not follow the Facebook Page, or follow me on Twitter so you'll be among the first to know when there are FREE prizes up for grabs?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Another freebie coming SOON

I'll be doing another FREE prize draw to win a signed paperback copy of Sell the Pig at the end of May/beginning of June. As usual there will be an easy-peasy question to enter the draw, and you'll be able to find the answer on the Facebook page, often amongst the photos. So if you want to start swotting up, the question will be about Mother's family and the answer is in her album. Not that I'm giving you a clue or anything.

If you've not yet discovered the Sell the Pig page on Facebook, do please stop by and say hello, and don't forgot to click Like on the page, so you won't miss out on any of the FREE prize draws coming up in the future.

You'll also find some snippets from the sequel to Sell the Pig, which is well under way and I hope will be available in Kindle format by the autumn.

Plus there's some photos of the first ever book signing for the paperback version. Like most things in France, it took place over a very convivial lunch at the Bar le St Thomas.

If you're not lucky enough to win the next prize draw and you'd like your own signed copy, you can get one direct from me and pay by PayPal or cheque - just contact me here for more details.

See you on the Facebook page?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

FREE Prize Draw - win a signed paperback copy of Sell the Pig!

Here are the FREE prize draw details. Remember, there are LOTS of clues to the right answer on the new Sell the Pig page on Facebook. Just pop along and Like the page and you'll find all the details you need. But here's a quick summary:

#Freebies4U   I promised you another chance to win a signed paperback copy of Sell the Pig, so here it is. Free entry draw, no purchase required. Just answer this simple question about Sell the Pig:

What was the nickname we gave to the house we moved to in France?

Please don't post your answer here for all to see, please send me a Personal Message (it's easier to do this on Facebook than Twitter).

If you've not yet read the book you can find out the answer by borrowing it FREE under the Kindle Lending Library scheme on Amazon. Or you can buy a Kindle copy, it's only £2.54. And if you don't have a Kindle there's a Free app to download so you can still read it. Plus there are loads of clues on the Facebook page

Everyone giving the correct answer will be entered into a draw, to be held next Sunday, 14th April 2013. The draw will be made by Fleur, as Ci made the last one.

The winner's copy will be signed by my (in crayon, they don't let me have sharp implements in here!) with whatever dedication they would like.

One entry per person. Spread the word far and wide, and lots of luck to everyone.

Good luck, and I hope the winner will be YOU.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A paperback is born!

Finally, after a long and protracted labour, I have given birth - to a paperback!

Pleased and proud to report that Sell the Pig is now available in paperback from Amazon (.com and most of the Europe channels).

Sell the Pig in paperback

As ever, do please leave a review when you've read it as your feedback is always most welcome and I have finally got Amazon to allow me to leave replies, although it won't let me leave them as Tottie which is seems to think is a rude word - it isn't!

And if you like it, do please tell your friends. Thanks so much.