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 ;)