Life in the Time of Coronavirus: in your heart you know it’s flat


Biarritz: la Plage du Phare
The lighthouse built in 1834 on the cap Hainsart

Last week I held in my hands a real copy of Book 1 of the French Summer Novels, Biarritz Passion. The relief was tremendous. Since uploading the manuscript from my PC on April 6th I had prostrated myself daily before the altar of Thoth, (scribe of the gods according to Wiki). Could it be true? Was there really a paperback out there, being virtually born? In between the click of an on-screen button saying ‘Publish’ and the emergence of a physical object with pages and a cover from a printing press in Eastern Europe, who knew what cyber- catastrophe might strike? The worst-case scenario popped up in a dream.

Dead Sea Scrolls the Damascus document / CC0

The book had finally arrived! I tore off the wrapping and looked inside. What was this??? The first dozen pages were covered in fading, fragmented hieroglyphics, a bit like the dead Sea Scrolls. As I recoiled in shock, these fragments grew clearer, became legible: regurgitations from the bowels of my computer, pleading letters to the taxman, links to internet sites promising instant weight loss, adverts for haemorrhoid relief.  ‘Deep embedded code is never entirely deleted,’ droned a sepulchral Cyber-Inspector in a peaked cap.  ‘It can surface at any moment. Anywhere.’ (OK, I’ve been watching a LOT of Netflix. )

Waking up in a sweat from nightmares like this is the moment you know that, deep down, you really belong in the 19th century. There’s something eminently normal and logical, eminently ‘in the order of things’ as the French say*,  about the process of throwing down your quill, making a neat brown paper parcel of the ink-stained pages, tying the whole together with a length of butcher’s string and heading out to the publishers through the gas-lit, cobbled streets.

Hands-on heaven

The first book I published was a text book. After many happy hours kneeling on the living room floor cutting and glueing and scribbling notes in margins I sent it off to the publishers who duly sent back proofs to correct and the next thing I knew I was holding a real book. Very hands-on, very touchy-feely.  My first venture into e-publishing, six years ago, was a revelation. Not being of a scientific bent, I underwent the kind of mental torture necessary to acquire new (technological) faiths that ignorant 15th century landlubbers must have experienced, watching ships sail into the sunset and seeing them drop off the edge of the earth only to have them pop up somewhere behind them four years later.

Painting of Christopher Columbus on the Santa Maria 1492 Wikipedia Commons

The temptation of holding a real book in my hands was irresistible. Two years ago, I had a go at converting from e-book to paperback. But in spite of Amazon’s step-by-step instructions (which are now better than ever, and accompanied by amazing tools) it soon became clear that this was a much  bigger alligator to wrestle.  Help was needed.

So there are now two more people to go on my Red-Cape Rescuers ‘thank you’ list. Since that exciting day in 2014 when I uploaded the first e-book, this list has grown steadily–friends, advisors, beta-readers, bloggers, reviewers, generous authors and readers already mentioned in previous blogs and on Acknowledgements pages. All have made the writing adventure even more exciting and enriching,  and, though I only know most of you in a virtual sense, in this particular instance I am totally convinced of your  lovely realities.

Biarritz Passion new cover by Jacqueline Abromeit at

For the paperback, Alligator Wrestler Jacqueline Abromeit at produced two wonderful designs for the cover, making it difficult to choose which one was more impressive (thank you helpers). I finally went for the one with the lighthouse on the headland, and the setting sun streaming through a woman’s hair (‘weave, weave, the sunlight in your hair’). Alligator Wrestler Steve Passiouras at Bookow has a magic programme which allows you to put sausage meat  your Word document manuscript in at one end and produces a  Saucisse de Toulouse Label Rouge a paperback pdf at the other.

Thanks also to Jacqui Brown (no stranger to these pages) for permission to quote, and to a Wise Man from the East  who helped with the very last steps of this particular miracle – he knows who he is 😉

As for the marketing mastermind who decided it would be a good idea to bring out a paperback just when the world is in lockdown and the earliest postal delivery date for non-essential items (like Biarritz Passion) is January 2021 – that would be me.

My next task is to learn to believe that an invisible, sputnik-shaped object covered in reddish warts really does have the power to bring the world to its knees…

Stay safe, stay sane, stay inventive, stop binge-watching The Walking Dead and hang on to your sense of humour 😉

Amazon paperback link uk here

Amazon paperback link US here 

*little factoid for folk who like that sort of stuff: ‘dans l’ordre des choses’ – an illustration of this expression can be found in a letter written in June 1871 by the great Gustave (Flaubert) who says: ‘As (Adolphe) Thiers has just done us  great service, within the space of one month he will be the most hated man in his country; it’s ‘in the order.’

(Comme Thiers venait de nous rendre un très grand service, avant un mois, il sera l’homme le plus exécré de son pays ; c’est dans l’ordre.’)

Thiers had negotiated a peace treaty with the Prussians who, after defeating  French forces at the Battle of Sedan (September 1870), had invaded northern France. But many Parisians were against the armistice, and the famous Paris Commune was formed to resist it. Thiers sent in the army to put a stop to the revolutionaries, uttering his famous phrase: ‘The republic is the form of government that divides us (the French) least.’ The terrible fighting of Frenchman against Frenchman continued until the end of May, when the Communards surrendered. Flaubert’s Voltairean observation was right in principle if not in date: Thiers was president from 1871 to 1873 , but on May 23rd 1873, he was toppled by a vote of no-confidence and resigned the following day.


10 thoughts on “Life in the Time of Coronavirus: in your heart you know it’s flat”

  1. WOOHOO! The cover is on fire, like your blog post. That is so exciting! It’s a wonderful feeling, and opens the doors to readers who are just not that into e-readers. I’m very happy for you!

    1. Merci merci Denise xx (or danke schön) 😉 Yes, most of my family are not into e-readers so they’re happy to have the paperback. Thought you might like the cover…now I just have to hang on until my website guru can get the pic down the left hand side, along with a couple of others 😉

  2. How truly exciting – well done that man ( or am I having problems with gender recognition – 7th week of Lockdown ) !I think that it’s great that your gentle readers will appreciate the perils , problems and triumphs of writing and publishing – the idea , researching , revising and the sheer terror and enjoyment of the daily wordcount and then the publisher – not for the faint hearted – but you’ve done it – a book to handle , give to friends and family – to move round the bookshop shelves ( my best was to move Tony Blair’s book into ” Dark Fiction ” ) – can’t wait to order from our local independent – keep at it – Long live the Book in printed form !
    Keep safe – Peter T .

    1. Thanks so much for that comment Pete. Heart-warming and inspiring. You’re so right, a mixture of terror and enjoyment, and finally a book to handle and gift. But I hope if you find a copy it doesn’t get moved next to Mr Blair and his dark fiction 😉
      So how far along are you with yours…??
      Stay safe, stay sane, thanks for checking in!x

    1. Thanks so much Paulette. For readers who don’t yet know Paulette, she is one of those truly generous and amazing authors I mention in the blog , successful, busy, but – always willing to take time to help newbies 😉 You can find out more about her here:
      Apart from being a wonderful and moving writer, Paulette does volunteer work in hospital and all profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters. Respect! And warmest hugsxx

  3. Laurette. Thanks for your entertaining email. Love the new cover. Am getting close to deciding my title for current novel. Stay safe. All the best with new cover

    1. Thanks so much for commenting Barbara, I’m going to swing by your site to see your work in progress, very exciting. For readers of this blog, Barbara’s books and her incredible story (she has lived in seven countries and visited so many more) are here:
      Take care ! x

  4. great post and huge congratulations on your wonderful achievement of being a paper published author (again). Cover looks amazing and it’s such an amazing read – I couldn’t put Biarritz Passion down and the best thing is – the story continues with Hot Basque, The Passage of Desire (which is a prequel) & Biarritz- Villa Julia. Great reads and fabulous writing – thank you for a fabulous story. Can you not squeeze another one out dear author?

    1. Ah, dear reader, friend and Red Cape Rescuer for Biarritz-Villa Julia… thank you so much for your comment and for your fabulous support over the years. You are the perfect example of how the dreaded Internet brought about, as time passed, a real-life friendship with a virtual reader. I wouldn’t have missed it for worlds. You enriched my life. Here’s to our next meeting, santé! xxx
      PS Am squeezing…

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