let’s move to France!

A blatant plug for my friend Lorraine today – she is a smallholder from Cornwall who has retired* to France with her husband. She has a smallholding book that has lots of good advice teamed with fantastic pictures, but also a very recent release about moving to France. This seems like an ideal book to buy now to plan out either a real-life or fantasy move!

Fed up with the rat race? Dreaming of a simpler life? A better life? A GOOD LIFE?
Since the 1990’s hundreds of thousands of people left it all behind and moved to France.

Are you dreaming about moving to France to live a simpler, rural life; perhaps on a smallholding or simply in the countryside? Then THIS is the book for YOU.

This practical and up-to-date book will lead you through the many questions you may have including:

* How Brexit will affect you
* Owning animals or setting up a smallholding in France
* Finding & securing the right property
* Starting a rural business

Benefit from Lorraine Turnbull’s own experience and read the case studies from real people who have moved to live the Good Life in various areas of France. It’s a big step to a brave new world and this timely book aims to help you in your journey to your Good Life in France. Lorraine is an award-winning smallholder and former cider maker who relocated to rural France in 2017.

Buy the book here!

* I use the word advisedly

interview with Amara Lynn

Hi Amara! What made you decide to subject yourself to my interview technique?

My newest release, on 2/22, Tundras, Travelers, and Other Travesties! It’s a queer sci-fi novelette set in a future earth that’s covered in snow.

What started you writing?

I’ve always had a huge imagination, thinking up stories and characters all my life. I didn’t really start writing them down until I was in college, though, after reading Twilight and thinking, “I could do this, only gay.” So I started writing all kinds of things, and it’s only gotten queerer from there!

Where are you most comfortable writing?

Usually in my office, which is filled to the brim with little trinkets and pieces of inspiration on my walls. I’m most proud of my corkboard of pretties.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

I’ll read just about anything, from contemporary romance to fantasy. I most enjoy reading romance stories with fantasy element sprinkled in.

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

How to Love a Monster by Lyssa Dering (preferably in audio), because it’s my comfort listen. It’s an odd little story, but it’s somehow perfect to me. I’ve listened to it over 5 times now.

Into the Deep by yours truly. I guess it’s weird I’d choose one of my own books, haha. I hope it doesn’t seem to vain. I spent 10 years writing that story, and it’s so important to me. It’s the story of my heart, and I’ve worked in a little bit of everything I love into it, so I wouldn’t mind having it be one of the only things I could read over and over on a deserted island, which is ironic because it’s about a pirate getting deserted on an island!

Vicious by V.E. Schwab. If you like villains, read this book. It’s amazing. I love Victor and Eli so much, and I wouldn’t mind being stuck with this book at all.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I’m most active on Twitter, and I love the queer writing community there. It’s one of the most welcoming spaces I’ve found, and I love hosting my own hashtags to contribute to the community. If not for that community, I wouldn’t have been able to successfully win NaNoWriMo three years in a row, or even once for that matter!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I watch way to much anime, and play a game or two here and there. My favourite foods are chilli and tacos or any Mexican dish. I have two cuddly cats who like to keep me company all around the house and try to trip me constantly.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release, Tundras, Travelers and other Travesties. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

Tundras, Travelers, and Other Travesties was inspired by a call for solarpunk winter stories, and I revived a long shelved wintery piece for it, made a couple changes, and did a little research to back up the story. It didn’t make it into the call, or another I submitted it to, so I decided to self publish it.

What I most enjoyed about it was making it queer, and writing about a character that shares my chronic pain. I don’t think there’s anything I really hated about this story. I’m excited for it to be out in the world! It’s a cute, hopeful piece, that’s unapologetically queer.


Tundras, Travelers and other Travesties

Eis has lived on a solar powered outpost in a tundra covered land all zir life.

After zir parents passing, Eis is left to maintain the outpost alone, struggling to do so between chronic pain flare ups, waiting for the day a traveler might come in need of a warm bed and a meal. A day Eis thinks might never come, until a mysterious craft crashes into one of the solar panels.

Eis never expected a traveler to come out of the craft, or for him to be so captivating and beautiful. Everything Eis knows could change with the coming of this traveler, and yet the greatest travesty would be never knowing what else is out there, beyond the tundra, beyond the skies.

Tundras, Travelers, and Other Travesties is a 5800 word solarpunk post-apocalyptic sci-fi short with a queer protagonist.

Buy Tundras, Travelers and Other Travesties : Add on Goodreads


Connect with Amara

Amara Lynn has always been a quiet daydreamer. Coming up with characters and worlds since childhood, Amara eventually found an outlet in writing. Amara loves anything to do with pirates, villains and superheroes, and angels and demons.

Amara is addicted to music and gets the most inspiration from moving songs and lyrics. When not writing, Amara usually reads, listens to podcasts, watches anime, plays a video game here and there (but mostly collects them), and takes way too many cat pictures.

Amara is non-binary/enby and queer and uses they/them pronouns.

:: Website : Goodreads : Twitter : Instagram : Facebook ::

the flowers of time

The Flowers of Time will be published by JMS Books at the end of February! Pre-order here! Or listen to me read an excerpt!

A non-binary explorer and a determined lady botanist make the long journey over the high Himalayan passes to Little Tibet, collecting flowers and exploring ruins on the way. Will Jones discover the root of the mysterious deaths of her parents? Will she confide in Edie and allow her to help in the quest? It’s a trip fraught with dangers for both of them, not least those of the heart.

Jones is determined to find out what caused the unexpected death of her father whilst they were exploring ancient ruins in the Himalayas. She’s never been interested in the idea of the marriage bed, but along with a stack of books and coded journals he’s left her with the promise she’ll travel back to England for the first time since childhood and try being the lady she’s never been.

Edie and her brother are leaving soon on a journey to the Himalayas to document and collect plants for the new Kew Gardens when she befriends Miss Jones in London. She’s never left England before and is delighted to learn that the lady will be returning to the mountains she calls home at the same time they are planning their travels. When they meet again in Srinagar, Edie is surprised to find that here the Miss Jones of the London salons is ‘just Jones’ the explorer, clad in breeches and boots and unconcerned with the proprieties Edie has been brought up to respect.

A non-binary explorer and a determined botanist make the long journey over the high mountain passes to Little Tibet, collecting flowers and exploring ruins on the way. Will Jones discover the root of the mysterious deaths of her parents? Will she confide in Edie and allow her to help in the quest? It’s a trip fraught with perils for both of them, not least those of the heart.

Fashion Museum, Bath

Firstly apologies for the lateness of this post. However, I’ve been collecting blog material! We’ve been on holiday near Bath and we went to the Fashion Museum earlier in the week. I was primarily focused on looking at clothing from the 1770s and 1780s for Edie and for Jones.

The trouble with collections of historical clothing is that you only get the really expensive things or the things their owners didn’t like much that survive. And you don’t get a great deal of working people’s clothing, because they literally wore it until it had holes and then it got cut down and repurposed. Clothing was so much more expensive and energy-intensive than it is today. Everything was woven and sewn by hand.

These gowns and petticoats from the 1770s and 1780s are much more Edie’s sort of thing than Jones’, although I do imagine Jones stuffed in to the one with the blue quilted petticoats when she was visiting her aunt in England. And perhaps the one with the yellow gown and stomacher for more formal occasions. I can definitely see Edie in the pale pink effort with all the embroidery on the front when she first meets Jones at the ball. (High waists a la Jane Austen only came in around about 1794 as far as I can make out).

Once the pair of them are travelling, they revert to much simpler clothes. I imagine Jones wearing something like this… it’s based on a working man’s coat from about 1780, made of wool.

I am still in debate with myself over whether Jones would wear local clothing once she gets home to the mountains. I think she might need to stay in western garb because I am not confident enough to write about regional clothing without getting it wrong and that seems disrespectful.

Edie doesn’t feel right going for breeches, however comfortable they might be. So she compromises by wearing ‘stays’ or ‘bodies’ (which is what she calls them) that lower class women, who had no help getting dressed, wore. They lace up the front rather than the back, so you can do them yourself. This is really interesting little video of a working woman getting dressed.

The little things… how you deal with menstruation, what pins you use in your hair, how often you change your stockings… those are all things that tend not to get referenced in contemporary texts because it was all such normal stuff that you didn’t need to. Everyone knew about it. There’s a good blog post about Georgian personal hygiene by the Word Wenches and I think I may have mentioned Madame Isis’ blog before.

Next week I am back to regular scheduling and I am interviewing Naomi Aoki!


PS: As we came out of the museum and went to find the old fashioned sweetshop, we fell over a coach and four. Netflix are filming the Bridgerton series of books by Julia Quinn.

coming to terms with CTBP1

If you follow me on twitter and to a lesser extent here, you’ll know that Littlest has very complex needs and is classed as ‘life limited’. Well. Something has happened and I’m not sure how I feel about it, so where better to process my feelings than here, publicly?

Littlest is ten. She was born with pneumonia and spent some time in an incubator. She was very ill and on CPAP when she was eight weeks old and had swine flu the summer after she was born. She never met her milestones- rolling over, walking, talking. And as she got a bit bigger, everyone started to believe us when we said there was something not quite right about the way she was growing. Eventually we got referred to the bigger area hospital and then they referred us to Great Ormond Street. Lots of tests got done for rarer and rarer conditions and all drew a blank. GOS thought she was interesting and did a muscle biopsy and it turns out that the nucleus of her muscle cells are in the middle rather than on the edge as they should be, so her muscles don’t sproing properly and she’s underpowered. This presents similarly to Muscular Dystrophy, but it’s because she’s outgrowing her strength as she gets bigger.

So, she no longer walks at all, except in a walker. She is classed as having an unsafe swallow and is fed by tube. She can’t turn herself properly in bed. She can’t vocalize words, although she can make sounds. She communicates with sign, but that is getting harder for her as she is losing her fine motor control. She has a learning delay and is probably around about four intellectually. She can’t read but she recognizes some letters. She can count a bit. She understands pretty much everything you say to her and really wants to learn. She has a wicked sense of humor. She likes Peppa Pig and books and her iPad and any animals she comes in to contact with love her reciprocally.

We had no diagnosis. And therefore we had no prognosis. We were referred to the Children’s Hospice seven years ago. The criteria for a referral is that they think that the child has a fifty percent chance of surviving til they are nineteen.

This took some coming to terms with.

CTBP1 Gene

The thing I have found absolutely hardest to process, though, is the lack of certainty about it all. Four years ago I started having these stupid stress-related seizures, which were eventually diagnosed as ‘Functional Neurological Disorder’ or a learned reaction to stress. Mindfulness, relaxation and avoiding stress is the only way to manage it. It’s taken me years, but in the last twelve months or so, I’ve finally begun to live in the moment, appreciate what we have and just seize the day. Enjoy what we can. Live our life in the cracks of appointments with Littlest’s fifty-ish different professionals. Spend time with Talking Child. Fit friendships and self-care and tending to my relationship with Mr AL around the chaos.

And then. Yesterday. We had a letter from the 100,000 Genomes Project. We had had swabs and bloods taken years ago. I’d put it out of my mind as something that was yet another test that would be futile. A hoop for us to jump through that wouldn’t give us any answers but which might help future children and parents.

Littlest has a small alteration to the gene CTBP1.

We have an appointment on Tuesday at the area hospital to go and discuss it. Obviously in the meantime I have played Internet Misery Bingo (TM) and found a load of articles I don’t have the education to understand and also, a support group set up by a genetics study in the US, which has ONE (1) other parent on it, from the Netherlands, with a slightly older child who has hauntingly similar symptoms.

Mr AL and I are both a bit weepy and shocky. After so long and so much adrenaline, I have no other emotions left. How am I supposed to feel about this? Materially, it changes nothing. The sample size of children with the alteration is vanishingly small, so we are no closer to a prognosis than we were before.

All information is good, but I simply don’t know what to do with. A very long time ago I blogged every day about life, feelings, the usual introspective noughties stuff and it seems like that’s where I turn again when I need to process.

Thanks for listening, if you’ve got this far.