Manny's Blog

Sharing our French adventure as we live and work and renovate our forever home in the Haute Loire.
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The latest chapter …

This school year has been very different – Beth and Arty are at lycée together, Beth finishing, Arty beginning. There was no post for me this year, so my four years of teaching at lycée have come to a close. This year I’m teaching adults through the Chamber of Commerce, and teaching one day a week at the University in St Etienne. I have become an auto-entrepreneur (basically like being Schedule D again), and feel much more in control of my own destiny – good times!

I’m loving the change of rhythm – it has given me more time to concentrate on my latest passion –

…publishing! Who knew!

What started out as a very small-scale and private thing has blossomed and grown and I’m loving the ride!

Here’s how it all started – Mum wrote two novels many years ago; before the digital age, and when publishing was in the hands of others, and unbelievably expensive to pursue. They sat in her attic as life, family and acting success took precedence. When she downsized and moved to her smaller house after Dad died, she sent each of us girls a PDF copy of her second book, (which she had paid for someone to make a digital copy of)…As I started to re-read it, I had a little idea that I would love to have a hard copy printed as a surprise for her – as I continued reading, I was blown away by the originality and warmth of the story, and found I couldn’t put it down. With Joe’s help with the formatting and a beautiful cover design, we self-published it with the brilliant and sent Mum a copy…

Needless to say she was thrilled and we found ourselves flicking the switch on the publishing site to public… and started selling!

Keyne Island

Mum sent copies to close friends and family whose opinions she trusted and she was overwhelmed by the passionate and positive responses – (take a little look for yourself on her Amazon page🙂

Inspired, she tentatively re-visited ‘Walnuts’ – the first novel she’d written –  in long-hand… (she had a typed version which she’d paid a friend to do for her at the time) to see how she felt about it. As it was a modern-day tale, the technology of daily life had changed enormously, of course – but people haven’t! The story-line and characters were just as intriguing and real as when she’d first written it.

She decided to re-work it – updating; tweaking; fine-tuning as she went.

This time was much more collaborative – Mum would re-work a chapter, and send it out to Tara, Sasha, Sophie and I to throw in our thoughts, whilst being careful not to break her creative thread – it was delicate and fascinating for all of us. The novel has characters of all ages, and Mum’s style is to subtly enter into the heads of each character as we follow their journeys. So she drew on the grandchildren for dialogue and trends and social media /mobile-phone use etc. Us girls for our current ‘mums-of-teenage/younger children’ daily life. And of course her own rich experience and wisdom. The result, in my view, is a magical, authentic slice of ordinary life… First love, temptation, compromise, loss… brilliantly accessible, moving and heart-warming – it’s a real winner. Again a beautiful book cover from Joe,


and a classy website from Harry…


Mum and I are just waiting for our first hardback and paperback copies to arrive in the post for a proof read… and then it’s marketing time!! Check out the Pat Garwood page on Facebook  and her Twitter

What a new adventure!

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  1. Karen Alcock says:

    Yay! Manny! Another lovely energetic slice of blog. And yet another area of creative accomplishment for you. Will check out your mother’s website etc. Every good wish for current and future publishing exploits. xxxxx

    1. mannyatkins says:

      Wow – speedy read Karen – it’s hot off the press!! Thank you so much for the support! Do check out Mum’s stuff – she’s amazing!! And spread the word! x

  2. Hillary says:

    You are such a creative force, Manny! And you are surrounded by an extended creative force — your Mum, sisters, and your own family! I am so impressed, as always, with you! And am also LOVING your Mum’s Keyne Island … what a story! xxHills

    1. mannyatkins says:

      Thank you my lovely friend – it was your guidance that led me to blogging – it’s not frequent I know, but so therapeutic and such a pleasure to do! Thrilled you’re enjoying Keyne Island – Walnuts is just out for when you finish… and the new one she’s writing is on a fascinating controversial subject and already gripping! Xxx

  3. Fabienne says:

    Bonjour Manny, le livre de ta maman est arrivé par la poste il y a quelques jours. Je l’ai commandé pour Flo mais je l’ai feuilleté et décidé de le lire la première. Ai achevé les trois premiers chapitres avec l’aide de mon dico. Certaines tournures de phrases m’échappent, tu connais la pauvreté de mon anglais scolaire ☺️, mais l’histoire est passionnante et je suis accrochée ! Bravo à ta maman

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