One week to go to Publication Day! This coming week is going to be so busy, as I travel here, there and everywhere with my Book Blog Tour. I am so excited to be visiting so many virtual places – and the real event of my book launch party! So today I am launching a competition to celebrate my writing life to date.
In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree is a memoir of my time in Lusaka, Zambia, which I began writing on our return to the UK. The prize in many ways traces my literary journey: from Zambia, through the writing and editing, to the publication of the book.
Let me start with in Zambia. One of the charities I support is the Chikumbuso Project, which works with widows and orphans in the Ngombe district of Lusaka, Zambia. It started with just a couple of widows being inspired to make a living by crocheting bags from bags, and has developed into a project that supports a primary school with lunches provided, a tailoring school for women and sponsors grandmothers in the community. It is a safe and peaceful centre for the women of the compound. For me, it is the bags that are most inspiring. Plastic carrier bags – the ones you and I use weekly at the supermarket – are ‘upcycled’ by being cut into strips then used like wool to make bags of all shapes and sizes. Not only do the women create an object of beauty, it is also practical and hardwearing, and it helps keep the streets of Lusaka clear of rubbish. The monies raised are apportioned between the knitter and the community, so that the women are helping each other as well as providing a living for themselves.
So the first part of my prize is a bag: a reminder of Lusaka and all the wonderful people there.
The second part of my story is the writing itself. And that, as those of you who have read my tagline, is fuelled by tea and biscuits. So much so that my lovely friend sent me a tin of Flint & Co Tea just after Christmas, which I was only allowed to drink while I was working on my book. It has been a great motivation! I thought I would share it in my prize (although there isn’t much left, so perhaps I’ll send you a new one!)
And biscuits… My standard fare is either homemade choc chip cookies…
… or a packet of custard creams, which is why, when they heard Folk On’s song “Hug it out”, my family were so amused by the lines:
Take advice from my Aunty Cath…
Have a custard cream, put the kettle on.
(It is the solution to global peace. You should listen to the whole song, but particularly from about 2’45” onwards!)
And, of course, there is the final product: a signed copy of my book!
All you need to have a little bit of my Zambian writing in your life: a bag with tea, biscuits and a book.
If you’d like a chance to win this selection of goodies, then please put a ‘pick me’ in the comments box! You have until 22:00 GMT on Sunday 17 March to enter. I’ll put all names into a hat and draw one at random next Monday.