It’s crazy how quickly time passes without us realizing. It’s been four months since my last post but to me, it feels like yesterday.
When I came to Portugal in May I had the opportunity to revisit some places that were dear to me, but that will also feature in the book I’m currently writing. My earlier post covers that visit. I returned to Portugal in June and now again in September. In fact, I’m writing this post from the comfort of my parent’s back garden where I’m sitting in the cool shade.

I normally come home once, sometimes twice a year, depending on whether there may be a special birthday or anniversary in the family. Living far from family is difficult, and I admit I bury my head in the sand when it comes to remembering that my parents and grandparents are getting older at the same rate I am. Who would have thought, hey?
This year has finally caught up with me, and my grandparents’ poor health was a wake-up call. In my two additional visits, I spent more time with them, asked them endless questions about our family history, attempted to build a family tree, and generally just enjoyed being around them.

I also visited a place we used to visit a lot as a family in the 80s, and in my teen years, with my friends. The river Tagus flows by my hometown, so only a five-minute drive away from my house we are lucky to have a river beach. I remember days where the whole family would spend the day swimming, sunbathing and picnicking like only the Portuguese can. In fact, there are stories of my grandmother bringing a pressure cooker full of chicken soup to a picnic!

For a long time, the beach was in disrepair, with the vegetation that surrounded the beach and gave us wonderful shade allowed to grow out of control. A few years ago the council decided to clean the area again, adding new stone tables and benches and even barbecue facilities.

The heyday of the river beach is long gone but all that means now is that we can visit the beach and be the only ones there. It’s a great place to relax, sunbathe, swim and write!
It was there yesterday that, under the late Summer sun, and with one day left on my holiday,  I reflected on this Summer.

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I mentioned on my very first blog post, that I was writing my book for Dreamspinner Press’ World of Love. My writing journey has been interesting and very educational. I have met and spoken to people that have given me great suggestions, encouragement, and insight.

I started writing in March. By July the first draft of my book was at 50% and already had 32000 of my target 50000 words. I wondered if I would be able to keep the book to the maximum target of 50000 words. I needed to add more detail, more Portugueseness (yes, this is a word!) and a lot more feel. I sent a few chapters of the book to a few people to read and received the best feedback I could have asked for. No, they didn’t say it was amazing. They told me what I needed to hear; sort the grammar out, add context (more Portugueseness), sort the grammar out. Like I said, best feedback, ever!

So with two months left on my deadline, I knew what I needed to do, but I was lacking time. At that stage, I had a decision to make, to submit or not submit. After considering pros and cons and talking it through with a couple of authors and a few friends, I decided to not submit the book to Dreamspinner Press.

So where am I now?

Deciding to self-publish the book when I’m ready means there is a whole world of “stuff” I need to learn, some money I need to spend, but more importantly, I now have the time to craft my story into something I will be proud to call my own.

Since I made the decision to self-publish I attended a book fair where I met fantastic authors that were kind enough to offer advice and support. I have asked for advice from an established author, who welcomed me into their home with open arms and shared a lot of their own journey, experience, and knowledge. I am more active on my author page and feel that as an aspiring author I belong to the most amazing community out there.

So back to my river beach…

Time flies, work gets in the way, there will be things we need to attend to in our personal lives. There will be things that change and we can’t help but just go along for the ride. I can’t make my grandparents younger, I can only visit them as often as I am able to, and while they are with us. I can’t bring back the days when the river beach was full of families enjoying their days off in the sun, but I can make sure that even if I am the only person visiting, I will leave it the same way I found it, and hope it will still be there next time.

I can keep writing, venturing out of my shell to speak to authors and readers and carry on learning from them. The characters I’m writing about are noisy. They are constantly in my head and their friends want a piece of the action, too. In the absence of writing time, I talk about them to a couple of friends. I can’t help it!
Hopefully, I will find time to release them to the readers in the new year. There will also be something out before Christmas but I won’t say any more about it right now. Gotta leave some for another post!

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