One staff officer jumped right over another staff officer’s head…

On 21 May we had a launch party for Surviving the Death Railway; A POW’s Memoir and Letters from Home in the beautiful home where I spent the second half of my childhood. Here it is in the early morning of our wedding day in 1977. Dipford 1977 The party went splendidly and I was moved by the wonderful mixture of people – from relatives of the families in the book, to local people who remembered Barry and Phyllis (the book is about Barry, a Far East POW and Phyllis his wife, who waited out the war with no direct communication for three and a half years) and many of Barry and Phyllis’s (and my) relatives. There were men swapping stories about their father and their uncle and holding back their tears.

We returned across the country to our home. I began to relax, thinking I now had nearly a month to finish the private version of the book (done, and the proof copy arrived this morning to be checked),DSCN9555 and to rescue the garden from the chaos of neglect DSCN9552(ongoing) and rediscover my studyDSCN9515

under the piles books and papers (also done),DSCN9526before the second launch for local friends and other relatives on 18 June. This would then give me time to sort out marketing and publicity stuff before the release of the book on 30 June… I had even started looking in on your lovely, neglected blogs again. However, three days ago a cheerful email arrived telling me that the book had now been released (Pen and Sword publish by month and Amazon always release on the last day of that month – but I didn’t know that). This morning a lovely person from P & S’s digital marketing arm rang for more  information and this evening I managed to update my website. Next Saturday I have 60 plus people coming for sandwiches, sangria and a book. I am juggling garden rescue, food planning and creating, proof-reading (again!!) and I feel as though I am being leapfrogged at every turn.

In between all this I have joined the local branch of Toastmasters to try and overcome my fear of public speaking (I did my ice-breaker last Tuesday to the friendliest bunch of people you could dream up). And I have been arranging talks in museums on Far East POWs.

This is all in the way of saying sorry that I am not visiting your blogs. I will return when the staff officers stop playing leapfrog.

Running out of time, my birthday present to my husband was the promise of a few days in Venice in September – sort of cheating as I get to go too… I can’t wait.


40 thoughts on “One staff officer jumped right over another staff officer’s head…

  1. It’s amazing – you go from a solitary existing as a writer, to having to hurry up and deal with competing requests, and the book being released before you are ready (that happened to me too). But it’s also a wonderful time for you, your family and your book. Schedule time for rest if you can, and above all, stop every so often and clink glasses with your husband and realize what a wonderful you’ve done. Congrats, my blogger-friend.

    • My moment of rest is first thing in the morning with a cup of tea in bed when I get to read a few more lines of An Honest House. This has been a strange and beautiful journey with so many resonances with my own life. I’ll be properly in touch when I get to the end.

      • Goodness, Hilary. I didn’t even know you’d find time to buy the book, what’s more read it. I’m a bit taken aback and very thankful. I’m glad you find resonance (or should I sympathize? — Smile) and I absolutely would love to hear from you when you’ve completed reading.
        Big Canadian hugs,

  2. You’re marvellous, HCG ! Only the gods know where your energy comes from …
    This is stupendous thing to do – to write about war and those it affects. I hope the book is picked up by every relevant organization, as well as all the people with whom it resonates.
    Sincere congratulations, my most admired friend.

  3. Wonderful news, Hilary. Congratulations! I thought you would have been flat-tack working on your latest publication. It’s nerve wrecking business. Don’t worry about the garden now. The weeds can wait and will wither in Autumn anyway. Your book will be a great success. Oh, and Venice…how glorious.

    • I knew you would understand. I have Almost There sitting on my iPad to read… in a moment of leisure (? Venice maybe). I’d let the garden go hang, but I am hoping against my better judgement that the party next Saturday will be mostly in the garden.

  4. You must be floating on a cloud right now! Well done, you. As Gerard says, let those weeds go their own way for now.

    Say hello to Venice from me. You’re SUCH a good wife to take him there, I’m sure he appreciates that.

    • Floating? Cloud? I am crawling on hands and knees one step ahead of the slugs and snails, but dreaming of Venice. I will indeed say hi to Venice from you, it is your posts that keep reminding me of all our happy visits there. We always feel calm in Venice.

  5. Ha, I just came home to weeds as high as an elephant’s eye after our 10 week tour retracing my 1989 bicycle trip (by van). What’s a weed or two. I’m with Gerard. Go do what needs to be done and congratulations, Hilary. But be sure to work in some play time. –Curt

    • I’m half way through your tour and I may never get to the other end at my rate of progress! I can’t ignore the weeds as I am hoping to spread my 60 plus guests out next Saturday. We can do it in the house, but it is an old one – lots of rooms but a narrow ‘waist’. People end up in talking on the staircase in the middle. (Besides gardening is my playtime.)

      • I confiscated my sister-in-laws house in Sacramento for my book signing party. She took care of everything and told me it was my job to sit, sign books and talk to guests. Hard to beat a sister-in-law like that! 🙂 –Curt

  6. What a beautiful house, and quite an exhausting amount of things to do. I hope you can relax a bit in between dashing about, working inside and outside the house, and getting ready for launch no.2. Just keep thinking of Venice….

    • I did the garden and made sandwiches (with daughter and friends), but I hired the vacuum cleaner wielders. It went very well and one of the relatives of a POW from the book came early, so I was able to talk to him.

  7. Absolutely wonderful journey, the writing of this book, the paying tribute to your parents, the documenting of this historical period that will now be accessible to many. Please let me know if there will be a launch near Port Hope. I’d love to come. What a high you must be on. Thank you for this gift to the world.

    • Thank you for thinking of me, Cynthia. I’m on a roller coaster that doesn’t pause very often, but it will come to land sometime. I have been off air as I have agreed to give some talks and I am having to prepare them. I think of my blogging friends and will resurface when the circus slows down. (I have had to pause my reading to catch up with the texts for two reading groups, so An Honest House is still unfinished… but I always get there in the end). I feel very supported by all you long-distance friends.

  8. Just stopping by to say Hi and wish you the best of luck especially with your talks and tour 🍀. Venice sounds wonderful. I graduated this week and have been offered some project work with Scottish Opera and a wonderful masterclass opportunity after some summer opera studies in Berlin. Hope you’re having some good summer weather.

    • Thanks so much for dropping in. I am a bit challenged on the blog front at the moment, but I will be around again and i wish you every luck in the next stage of your career. I will be following and I will be in your audience one day soon. Weather variable, but the tomatoes are growing!

  9. I have posted the pictures of uniforms after your request on my site. You should be able to get them by way of the Notifications. Sorry, I never asked where you wanted them.

  10. Congratulations on another successful book launch. Sounds like something I would love to read on my sail to Indonesia in the coming weeks. I tried to find a Kindle Version on Amazon US, but there only seems to be a Hardcover being published in the US in September. I guess I will have to wait a bit. But definitely something to look forward to. Love the picture of your childhood home!

    • Hi, I just found this in my spam and had to rescue it. Thank you so much for wanting to read this. I’m sorry they are being so slow with the kindle version. I made them promise it would come out as an eBook in my contract. I will mutter to them about the US ebook version.

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