Sunday, 2 August 2015

Hot Competition

This is a little unusual, but I am running a competition. Share this blog post with your Twitter or Facebook friends using the hashtag #fallinginhoney this week, and you'll be entered into a prize draw to win a gorgeous ART PRINT of our island of Tilos, created by my friend Yiannis, a.k.a. John Ageos Daferanos. He lives in Livadia, which is obviously the wrong part of the island, but we try not to hold that against him. (Only kidding - some of my best friends live in Livadia...)

Why a competition? Well. Firstly, to celebrate the fact that FALLING IN HONEY is only 99p on Kindle this summer on Amazon UK sending it soaring up the Kindle charts, and there may still be people out there who haven't read it and would like to. (OK, there may be life on Mars, but still…)

Secondly – this is the exciting part – Summersdale will be publishing my NEW book set on the island in April 2016, and I have to decide on a title. Ideas include:
AN OCTOPUS IN MY OUZO
LUNCH AT THE BEACH
JOINING THE DANCE
A TASTE OF WILD BEAUTY
Or a translation of an appropriate expression like 'falling in honey' that I haven't yet found... Any of them would be followed by an explanatory subtitle. Feedback and input gratefully received either through comments or the contact form.

Now, back to life in Megalo Horio…

It’s that time of year when it’s so hot, I sleep outside, up on the terrace (on a comfy mattress with pillows of course - I may be weird but I'm not stupid). To block the streetlights down the alley, I’ve created a tent-like construction out of sheets and throws and mosquito net, which is strange but it means I sleep in the cool fresh air under the stars and moon.

I wake up as it gets light, am greeted by a friendly dog, and try to take her for a quick walk before the hot sun comes over the hillside. Then Lisa lies flat out in the shade, paws outstretched, and I work all day (never was the expression 'the sweat of my brow' for a day's work more pertinent) until it cools off enough to walk half an hour to the beach, picking the occasional warm ripe fig along the way. We dive in the sea and come back to work for several hours in the evening again, before collapsing into sleep.

Yesterday afternoon, with no pressing demands, I stayed on Eristos beach for hours, dozing and swimming and reading and throwing the ball for Lisa, until the sun went down behind the mountain. The line of tamarisk trees behind the beach was full of tents, and the edge of the water scattered with naked bodies, with a big stretch of hot sand in between, and the sea calm and clear and pale blue.

In the evening, after I got home – getting a good workout carrying home a three-kilo watermelon, two kilos of tomatoes and a couple of cucumbers – I had a craving for tzatziki. So I showered and dressed and walked down to Kali Kardia, passing Menelaos with his goatherd’s crooked stick coming up the steps (Yeia sou Jenni), and Fotis sitting outside the shop (Yeia sou Jenni), and ran into Astrologos, who is from Athens and one of Eristos’ most famous summer residents. He told me the planets were well aligned right now for Sagittarians, and said it was good to see me back from Australia.

‘Tilos is ena megalo k√≥llima,’ he said. It’s hard to translate. It’s a stickiness, something gluey - Tilos truly sticks to you, in other words. (New book title: Stuck in the honey… Or a sticky mess, as my friend Anna once put it. My friend Sam suggested something a bit naughtier about someone licking the honey off…)

‘Every summer,’ continued Astrologos, ‘I say I will visit some other islands, Karpathos, Kassos… But if I come to Tilos first, it never happens.’

I needed food. Kali Kardia, apart from fulfilling my tzatziki craving, is also a good place for me to listen to Greek conversation. There’s plenty of banter as guys arrive and leave and sit around telling tales, and I can sit in the corner and pretend to read a book. 

A week ago, there’d been a full-on, fist-thumping argument as the men from the village debated who was supposed to be doing what at the upcoming festival. The animals had been slaughtered but who was going to do the butchering? Who was going to do the cleaning up after? It was only a couple of days before the biggest festival of the year, and of course everything was all right on the night. We danced under the trees at the monastery, and ate delicious goat in tomato sauce, and Lisa got some bones to eat the next day. And ever since, I've had the Ayios Panteleimon song looping in my head.

Last night someone was telling fishing stories, and the other guys would occasionally get a word in edgeways, while eating their souvlaki. Eventually I just put my book down, sipped wine and ate salad and listened and smiled. 

This morning I have had to brace myself, take a cold shower, and clean the house ready for some guests arriving tomorrow. Lisa, like most dogs, objects on principle to house-cleaning. She spends days giving a house that nice, lived-in feel, spreading her hairs around, carefully arranging her things on the terrace like ornaments - a rope here, a neoprene sock there, leaving the old goat skull just so for that shabby chic look. The appearance even of a broom is enough to send her shuddering outside in disgust usually. But today, she lies in the coolest corner of the house, a serene smile on her face as I sweep the dust and sand around her. That's how hot it is. Maybe I have to give in and get air conditioning next year.

Please don't forget to share this post to have a chance of winning a gorgeous prize of a print like this one. If I get feedback on the new book title, or more people sign up to the blog or my Facebook or Twitter, I'll do another giveaway before long. Efcharisto poli

32 comments:

  1. I'm probably too late on this. But after "Falling in Honey", I'd suggest "Dripping in Greece"!

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    1. Ha ha, very appropriate! :-)
      Nice breeze blowing today, thank goodness...

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    2. You are the undisputed master of clever titles.

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    3. Not sure if that's a compliment or not!

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  2. Bit warm for you John?
    What I was actually going to say to Jennifer is that I've just downloaded F in H to my husband's Kindle. He managed to lose my hard copy whilst in mid-read.
    Thanks for the bargain
    Vicki

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    1. Whoops! (Hope he didn't throw it away deliberately... ) Glad the Kindle deal was useful!

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    2. No no, he was really enjoying it.....................

      Vicki

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    3. Don't trust her Jen, she's on my case all the time!!! And yes Vicki, truth be told I'd rather be in rainy cool UK during August!! Only August mind you.

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    4. Actually Vicki, the "dripping" doesn't relate to the how hot I am feeling, it relates to the "Falling in Honey" of the first book. Too subtle for you eh?

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    5. Dripping in Greece? You know I'm a vegetarian John!

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  3. I felt really hot just reading your blog! But it all sounded so much better than the unrelenting grey and chill we have in this part of the UK. And nicer sea! I would love to be entered for the print prize, but I don't do Twitter or Facebook (I'm too old to start that!). However, I do like "An octopus in my ouzo" for a title, it was what brought me to your blog, and book, in the first place!

    Now I think I will relax and think of Greece, huge melons, giant, and tasty, tomatoes, fresh cucumber, and ouzo!

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    1. Very good point, Gilly - if the title An Octopus in my Ouzo drew you to the blog, then it should draw people to a book! It's colourful and a bit mad, a bit like my life on Tilos... Thank you!

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  4. I still like "On an Island" best. Perhaps another competition for the subtitle might be a good idea, or have you already worked that out? P.

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    1. It's nice, but it's the title of an album I've never listened to... Currently the publisher likes AN OCTOPUS IN MY OUZO: Loving Life on a Greek Island.

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    2. Hmm, I think maybe your publisher needs slightly more imagination! No offence or anything. Just seems a teeny bit bland for me Jen. The Octopus bit's rather nice (and ties in with the blog of course); it's just the next bit, does it really need it? Just my thoughts, and they're of no real relevance, true.

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    3. Your thoughts are very welcome, John!
      My experience, having worked in book publishing for FAR longer than I'm going to mention here as it might make me look old (no comments please), is that you need an explanatory subtitle with key words in it so the book shows up in searches online - so you need 'Greek island' in the title or subtitle. The 'Loving life' - well, that was a bit of a compromise. I suggested 'Building a Life on a Greek Island' or 'Learning to Live Small and Think Big on a Greek Island' but not sure we're there yet. Anyway, if we can come up with something better, then it can be changed.

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  5. I can't fault that. Excellent, particularly if the publisher likes it! How did the expression "An Octopus in my Ouzo" originate. Best, Peter.

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    1. I need to come up with a good story for that, Peter! I just picked it as a funny title when I was starting my blog...

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  6. Hi,
    Here's an opinion from Sweden; "An octopus in my ouzo" is perfect. It really says it's about Greece. The other titles don't.

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    1. Thank you, Sweden :-)
      I liked the idea of a title that was broader than just Greece, more about a change of lifestyle so it might appeal also to people who aren't particularly interested in Greece; but it will probably appeal mostly to people who love Greece, so I think you are right.

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  7. IT has been very hot here since May and I was eyeing the figs, the very first ones ever, on my tree. But the racoon got them. He waits for a particular degree of sweetness and then snatch!

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    1. Oh yes, I remember racoons from Toronto. They show no mercy! They used to scratch holes in the wire mesh screens on the windows if you left bread out in the kitchen there. Hope you're enjoying the heat! Have been eating as many figs as possible as they'll all be gone by the time I get back from my trip to the UK this month. But after my fifth fig today, I am beginning to feel I've had a surfeit of figs.

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  8. I would choose An Octopus in my Ouzo too, because it leaves the reader in no doubt that it is set in Greece. I was attracted to Falling in Honey by its title when I noticed it whilst browsing in the library! Looking forward to reading your next book, and who knows I may even be reading it inTilos, I hope to visit next April/May

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    1. Yes, I was very happy when I came across 'Falling in Honey' as a title! A gift from an old friend. Great to hear you're thinking of coming to Tilos. April/May are fabulous months to be here.
      Thanks for following!

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  9. Hi Jennifer
    Good to hear a bit from you and Tilos again. So happy also to hear about a sequel to Falling in Honey coming up next year.
    I can imagine that you are really good at working disciplined up to deadline :), impressed that your brain is able to function in the heat!!

    When I found your blog and book, it was through googling on Tilos.
    The blog name would in my humble view not be the evident book title, alcohol and "romanticising" round it, would reduce the rich world of e.g. history, mythology and traditions comprising Hellas, into a cheap touristic "selling point".
    Yes, allitteration in a book/blog title makes it noteworthy and gives it rhyme and rythm:).
    but... I guess the editor has the last word anyway...
    If you have "fallen" in your first title maybe you could "rise" in your second?:)
    All the best wishes and good luck with your writing
    Susann

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    1. Hi Susann,

      Good to hear from you! And thank you for your input - I actually agree that it's not an exciting title for the book. The problem is finding just the right title, and unfortunately I don't have much time as the publisher has to put it in their catalogue. The important thing is to get the book out there for next year :-)

      Thank you for your good wishes. To be able to function in the heat I get up early, and take lots of cold showers....

      Jx

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  10. Hi,
    Maybe too literary, but how about one of these:
    "A flask of wine, a book of verse...and thou."
    "Wilderness were paradise enou'"
    "Weave a circle round him thrice."
    "...and drunk the milk of paradise."

    Thank you for "Falling in Honey". Just finished it with a map of Tilos at hand, and now wondering how next to escape to Tilos in my imaginings."
    Mike

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  11. Hello. I am reading your book for the second time and loving it even more. Maybe because this time i read it lying at the beach of Livadia. What a perfect surrounding. We spend our third holiday in a row here- and yes- we are coming back next year. It may sound funny since we are just here for a week- staying at a hotel , but when we arrive here it feels like coming home. The shoulders are falling down and There are no worries or stress. I have two questions i hope You can help me with. The ancient poem You write about - have You been able to find it? And the book vangelis wrote-do You know if it is possible to Get anywhere? By the way-tilos really sticks to You ,so a title referring to that would absolutely fit. Then of course-an octopussy in my ouzo would be a perfect title. Tone-a norwegian Tilos-lover.��

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    1. Well, I am honoured that you are reading the book again - and pleased to hear you're back on the island, especially at this lovely time of year.
      I still haven't researched more about Irinna's Ilakati, sadly - a project for the future, though! You might try asking Vicky at the museum in Megalo Horio.
      Charlie Graham who currently runs the Tilos Park Information Office was considering reprinting Vangelis' lovely book - I really hope it happens. Vangelis' son still runs Gorgona restaurant so you could ask him. You'd be welcome to borrow my copy.
      Thanks for your feedback on the title - I think we're going with the Octopus :-)

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  12. Probably too late but how about Timeless on Tilos ( How I rewrote/rewound my life on a Greek island, or words to that effect. Or any other effect really!)
    Vicki

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    1. Ah, it is too late, but 'how I rewrote my life on a Greek island' is rather lovely... Might have to borrow that sometime!

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