Wednesday, 10 December 2014


Pinterest seems to be an enigma for many just starting out. And I must admit when I first signed up to the site, I put on a few pics, named one or two boards, and promptly forgot about it. Periodically I'd get an email from Pinterest suggesting boards I could follow, but I wasn't sure how that could be of any benefit to me.

I am assuming you have a Pinterest account, and have signed in. So now what?

What can you use Pinterest for?

You can use it for any pictures that you like, really. It keeps them in one place. You can refer back to them. For example, if you like gardening or are planning to design your own, you might like to collect some pics of gardens that you like or give you ideas. In that way, Pinterest is like a scrap book. In my case, I'm writing about the English Civil War and I want to see action shots, pictures of real people, the clothes they wore, the items they used and so on. It gives me ideas when I am writing, and will give me ideas for a book cover later. I am also fascinated by pirates and sailing ships as I wrote a pirate novel. The Pilgrim Fathers are another favourite. Spin offs are seventeenth century clothes, Tudor clothes, and so on. I am also fascinated by China (the country) and art and cooking - well as you can see the list is almost endless.

How does Pinterest work?

Pinterest is a social media site. Just as with Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and others, you follow someone, they follow you. Simple. Well, not quite that simple. How do you know who to follow? Probably the easiest way is to put a subject in the Pinterest search box. If you like gardening (let's assume you do), search for 'gardening'. Now you are presented with some options. Click on one, say 'gardening DIY'. Now you are presented with a page of pictures. Hundreds of pictures. You can narrow the field if you like by clicking one of the icons above the pictures, or you can scroll down and look at whatever you want.

Choose a picture. If you hover your cursor over it, you will see the 'pin it' button in the top left hand corner. Like this:
If you click the red Pin it button, you will get something like this:

I don't particularly want a picture related to gardening on my English Civil War board, so I need to change that to something more appropriate, or even create a new one. If you want to share it to Facebook or Twitter click those boxes, but remember next time to un-tick them if you don't want to keep sharing your pins with Facebook and Twitter! It tends to remember the last thing you did in that respect. If you want to add or change the description, do so now. Click 'Pin it'. Job done.

Now what happens next is that the person who put the picture on Pinterest in the first place will get an email saying that you have pinned one of their 'pins'. Now they may decide to follow you. If they do, you can decide to follow them, either all their boards, or just some of them, or one of them. To see all their boards, on the email notification, click on their profile picture, and you will see the options of all or some boards. You can repin other pics from their boards too, if you like.

When you follow someone's board, every time they pin to that board, you get their 'pins' on your feed. To find your feed, click the red 'P' button at the side of the search bar. The feed is updated regularly. You can 'repin' from anything that comes in on your feed, thus starting the cycle of follow and follow back all over again. Be selective when following all of someone's boards. They could have lots, many of which will not be of interest to you. As you get their pins on your feed, you could find a lot of stuff that just clogs up the feed.

That's the basics of how Pinterest works.

How can you use Pinterest for marketing?

You can pin pictures not only from Pinterest, but also from your own computer, or from the net. To do so from your own computer is straightforward. To do so from other sites, you can do one of two things. One, you can download the picture to your computer first. For those who don't know, put the cursor over the picture, right click, click 'save image as', and put it where you can find it again, then upload it to Pinterest. Fine if you want a lot of extra pics on your computer, which rather means you don't need Pinterest then!

The easier way is to get a 'pin it' button. You can try two ways. Put 'pin it button' in the search bar, or go to the question mark at the bottom right of the Pinterest page, and put it in the search there. Follow the instructions. It's very quick and this gives you a red 'P' at the right hand end of your task bar on your internet browser. Now, and here's the clever bit, when you are on the net and you come across a pic you want to pin, put the cursor over the pic, and the 'pin it' button magically appears in the top left hand corner:

Click it. This one is from Twitter, but you can get pins from anywhere on the web, (unless they have managed to disable that.)

Now there is another clever bit. If others have pinned from anywhere on the net, you can find the site they pinned from. This is how.

Go back to the gardening picture that you found on Pinterest, and hover the cursor over it. Now just click on the picture, and suddenly you've got a bigger version of the picture. Now you have some options at the top of the image. You can, of course, 'pin it'. You can 'Like it' (in which case the original pinner gets an email notification), you can 'send it', that is send it to someone who is also on Pinterest, or you can Facebook share. Or, you can go to 'Visit Site':

Clicking Visit Site will take you to the original website. Very useful if you want to know how to put plants in bottles, or if you want a recipe or whatever.

Also very useful if you want to advertise your stuff. Create a board for the items you want to advertise. Start putting pictures on it of anything related to the item. With my pirate book, as I said before, it is anything to do with pirates or ships. Also add a pic of the item itself. You probably don't need me to tell you to go to your own site or selling platform as a member of the public would, and pin a picture of the item of interest from there. Don't upload it from your computer, because it will not take the person looking on Pinterest anywhere. You can add a note about it if you like on the bottom of the picture. You can also add a URL, but it would need to be a shortened one. Periodically, pin a picture of your item of interest again as it will get buried under other pins you've done on that board. Remember, your pins will go out to your followers' feeds, which may cause them to look at your board.

Does Pinterest help in marketing? Yes, definitely, but it is difficult to say how much, as there is no way of monitoring how many people will go to your website or whatever from Pinterest.

I hope this helps all you who are wondering what to do with Pinterest.

Happy pinning!

Evelyn Tidman is the author of:

 Available on Amazon

Saturday, 25 October 2014


Previously, I wrote about formatting a book file for Kindle, which you can find here:

However, I thought it would be a good idea to also explain a little about formatting for Create Space, Amazon's print on demand subsidiary.

I will assume you have your book already completed and ready to go, without the formatting in place. However, if you happen to be at the beginning, having not written a word so far, then you can implement the what-have-you's before you start, which will make life a whole lot easier.

You are going to want your book to look like any other printed book. If you take an ordinary book off your bookshelves, you will notice several things about the way the pages are set out. This is what you are going to do with yours.

First, it all needs to be in single line-spacing. On Word 2003 and probably other versions of Word, you should have the option of single or double line-spacing on your toolbar. If not, go into Tools > customise > commands > format and in the right hand pane scroll down until you find a box with two horizontal parallel lines (single line-spacing). Click and drag to toolbar. Do the same for one and a half line-spacing and double if you like.

On your document (and I am assuming you have all the chapters and all the bits and pieces like title page, and copyright page etc. all in the same file) Highlight All (control + A). Click your single-line-space thingy.

You do not need extra line spaces between paragraphs, unless you are starting a new scene. Then you have an extra line space to indicate that.

You need to justify your margins (that is, make them level each side.) You have an icon on the toolbar for that. Or you can control + J. A note here, especially for the English. We do not need two spaces after full-stops (periods in American!), colons, question marks,exclamation marks etc. If you have put them in you will find out why we don't need them when you justify your margins! Reduce them to one space. (Find/replace menu on Edit.) When you're checking your work before publishing, this is something you need to be vigilant about - we do not want hulking great gaps in our text, now, do we?

Take out 'orphans and widows' and 'Keep lines together'. This is an infuriating thing Word puts in. Basically, it is designed to stop you splitting paragraphs, so that you do not have one line of a paragraph at the bottom of one page and the rest on the next. Fine if you are writing a letter. A pain in the nether-regions when you are formatting a book. Because you will notice in books that all the pages are nicely lined up at the top and bottom with no dirty-great gaps until the end of the chapter. That's what you want. So, highlight all (control + A) go into Format > paragraph > lines and page breaks. Make sure everything is unchecked. Hopefully that will take it all out. If you find you still have a problem with it at a certain location in the text, you will need to go directly to that problem, and go through the sequence again. Sometimes Word can mess you about on this one. If anyone from Microsoft reads this, can you please stop Word automatically installing orphans and widows in future!

Now you will perhaps have indented your paragraphs using the tab key. Apparently, this is a no-no. To undo that, Highlight All, (control + A) Format > Indents and Spacing. Where it says 'Special' and beneath it in the drop down box 'First Line' click the down arrow beside it. Click 'none' and OK. You will lose all your paragraph indents throughout the file. Do not panic. Go to Format again, indents and spacing. Now on the left hand side where it says 'Indentation' in the box marked 'left' you will see 0 cm. Change that to 1.0 cm. Click OK. Now it will seem to you that nothing has happened to your text. Actually, what has happened is that all the text has moved over 1 cm to the right. That is because you now have hanging paragraphs. You need to un-hang the paragraphs. To do this, if you do not have the command on your toolbar, you need to go into Tools > Customise > Commands > Format and scroll down until you find Hanging Indent and beneath it Un Hang. Click and drag Un Hang to your toolbar. When you've done that, and with your document highlighted, click Un Hang. Suddenly your text has indented paragraphs.

Now each new chapter and each new scene where you have a break in the chapter starts with a block paragraph. There is no easy way to tell you this! You just have to go through the text and each time you come to it you have to alter it by hand. This is how you do it. Put your cursor at the beginning of the text you want to align on the left. Format > paragraph > Indents and Spacing > special and in the drop down box click none. Sorted.

If you want to centre anything, like title chapters, you can highlight it and click control + E, and it will go to the centre. But if it is already indented on the left, it will put it slightly off-centre to the right. To correct this, highlight the centred object, and take out the indent as above: Format > paragraph > Indents and Spacing > Special dropdown: none. THEN do control + E and it will be nicely in the centre. Sometimes, you find that Word centres the whole of the next paragraph as well! Don't ask me why! Just highlight it and on your toolbar click 'justify' or control  J.

Begin each chapter on a new page. At the end of each chapter you need to Insert > page break.

To centre the title pages: You will have selected your font and size, etc. You will have centred your title page as you want it. But it will be at the top of your page, not in the centre where you want it. Make sure you have inserted a page break after the last letter on the page. Highlight the page. Then into File > page setup > layout. Then:

Make sure the section start is New Page. Make sure under Headers and Footers Differet odd and even and different first page are both checked. Make sure Vertical alignment says centre. And make sure you apply this to 'This Section' or it will do the whole book!

Repeat for your copyright page etc.

Numbering pages. Oh what a pain this can be. Reason being if you want your numbers on the outside top corner of the page, each odd number will be on the right of the page, and each even number will be on the left. You do this on the Header and Footer menu on View on your toolbar. It should look something like this:

Next bit it that blue bar. You need to go to page setup on that - slide the cursor along until you find it. This what you get:

Notice, again you have Different odd and even page and Different first page checked. Your vertical alignment is Top. And you apply to Whole document. Click OK.

Now back to the blue bar. Since you do not want a page number on the first page, go to page 2, decide where you want the number to be by going into the dotted line box at the top of the page and clicking the position. Now go into your blue bar and the first icon is Insert page numbers. Click it, and a 2 should appear where you had clicked in the dotted line box. Move down to the next page, go into the dotted line box, move the cursor to where you want the page number to be (opposite side to previous page) and click. Then in blue box click Insert Page number. It should say 3. The next page should automatically say 4, the next 5 and so on, with the numbers alternating sides.

If you do not want page numbers on your title pages, then go to where you want the numbers to start. On the menu in the illustration above, instead of Apply to Whole Document instead in the drop down box you want This point Forward. You will now see that it is labelled in the dotted line box section 2 and also you will see Link to previous. That means the numbers will run on, but this section is different to the last. You can repeat this for each chapter heading. I have a new section for each of the Title, copyright, dedication pages, etc. Mess about with it. You can always re-do it. Close the blue bar.

Remember, you will want Chapter 1 to start on an odd page number (Think about it!)

Now for the actual pages. You can download a template from Create Space, highlight all (control +A) copy, (control + C) and paste (control + V). However, you may find you need to do some adjusting, especially at the beginning. I leave that bit to you.

If you wish to do it yourself, this is how it is done. File > page setup. Make sure it is on Portrait. >paper. Select the size, or type in the size you want. It is a good idea to make sure it is a standard size for Create Space files, or if you are printing independently, for them too. Create Space like 6 in x 9 in. Independent printers like A5 or something like.

Now you need to adjust your margins. This is what Create Space gave me for a 6 in x 9 in book.

You will note that there is .33 cm for the gutter. The gutter is a print industry term for the bit of the page nearest the spine, so that the text doesn't run into the spine. Notice also that instead of left and right margins, you have Inside and Outside. That is because we have put 'mirror margins' in the drop-down box. Make sure the orientation is Portrait. Click OK when you have done that.

Convert to a PDF file. You can buy a PDF converter disc on Ebay for as little as £5.00. Or you can pay a whole lot more for an Adobe one. I got a £5.00 version and when I converted the file, all the letters were on top of each other! I threw that one away and bought a different £5.00 one and it is fine. Easy to use. And as an added bonus, it will also change the pixel density in pictures and convert them from anything to J.PEG or anything else. A good £5.00 worth I think.

I think that just about covers it.

The next job is to get your Create Space account and go through the motions of uploading files. If I've forgotten anything, let me know.

Evelyn Tidman is the author of GENTLEMAN OF FORTUNE, The Adventures of Bartholomew Roberts, Pirate, and ONE SMALL CANDLE, The Story of William Bradford and the Pilgrim Fathers. See website.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Day my Daughter Nearly Died of Toxic Shock Syndrome

I was just about to get into the shower to go out when the phone rang. My son-in-law Duncan asked: 'Do you think you can come over?'
'Why do you want me to come over?'
'Nic's not well.'
'What's wrong with her?'
He told me that my daughter of twenty-seven had been ill all night with sickness and diarrhoea and that he had to go out. Would I sit with her? 'I'll be up later,' I said and went off to have my shower.

Well you know how it is when something doesn't sound quite right. Duncan never phones me. For him to ring and ask for me to come over was Duncan's shorthand for: 'We need help!' So when I came out of the shower I hurriedly dressed and drove the fifteen miles to their house.

Nic had a temperature, I could see that, but she had taken paracetamol and she felt a little better. 'I think I've got food poisoning,' she said, but she added that she was at the tail end of her menstrual period. She had been taken ill on the Thursday while in London and had made it back to Norfolk later that day. Friday she was still feeling unwell and that night she started the vomiting etc. Today was Saturday, so no doctors except the emergency doctors.

OK, we've all had food poisoning. And we've all recovered. After Duncan had been out and done whatever it was he had to do, I left them. It was lunchtime by now. I phoned at five o'clock to see how she was, expecting Duncan to tell me she was much better. But no! 'She's worse!' he said.

I ordered him to get the emergency doctor, and he came, reluctantly, and pronounced that it was appendicitis. 'I don't think it's appendix,' I said to my husband. 'She's got no stomach ache.' Well, anyway, the doctor ordered an ambulance.

By this time we were in the car and on our way - first to the hospital where there was no sign of Duncan's car, and then to their house (which was not far away from the hospital) where they were still waiting for the ambulance. Now I was shocked to see my daughter. She was drifting in and out of consciousness, and was bright red, so hot with fever. It took the ambulance two hours to come, owing to the fact that it was Guy Fawkes night and half the county was busy getting themselves burned! If we could have got her down the stairs we would have taken her to the hospital ourselves.

At the hospital the doctors said it was definitely not appendix (so I was right there!), but they did not know what it was. They admitted Nic to the ward with a rehydration drip in her arm, and reluctantly at 11.00 pm we left her, still none the wiser, but now extremely worried.

At about midnight, by which time she had seen about eight doctors, they informed my daughter that they would give her an internal examination, for which she demanded a female doctor. Which decision saved her life. The only female doctor they could find turned out to be the gynaecologist who took one look at Nic and said: 'Toxic shock,' and ordered intravenous penicillin.

The eight (male) doctors who were scratching their heads had not added up the facts - the menstrual period including tampon use, the high fever. The vomiting and diarrhoea had everyone thinking it was food poisoning.

So, just what is Toxic Shock Syndrome? What are the symptoms.

From Toxic Shock Syndrome Information Service at we learn:

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare but very serious illness that can develop rapidly in anyone From a UK population of around 60 million there were about 40 cases reported each year, half of which are associated with women using tampons [Source: UK Public Health Laboratory Service 1985-1995]

Men, women and children can get toxic shock syndrome, for example following burns, boils, insect bites or infections after surgery. About half of the reported cases are linked to women who use tampons; the other half are not.

With early diagnosis toxic shock syndrome can be successfully treated. Sadly, however, out of the small number of people who fall ill each year, 2-3 people die from TSS. It is important to remember that if TSS is diagnosed and treated early there is a good chance of recovery.

Most doctors will never see a case of toxic shock syndrome. TSS is so rare that most doctors will not come across TSS during their medical careers.

From the last comment, perhaps that is why the doctors did not know what it was. So just what are the symptoms?

The same site tells us:

Some of the symptoms of TSS are much like severe ‘flu’ and usually include some or all of the following:
  • a sudden high fever (temperature)
  • vomiting
  • a sunburn-like rash
  • diarrhoea
  • fainting or feeling faint
  • muscle aches
  • dizziness
  • confusion
What should I do if I have these symptoms?
Consult your doctor at once, if you or anyone you know, has some of these symptoms and suspect TSS. If you are wearing a tampon remove it and tell your doctor that you have been using tampons. Don’t worry about being alarmist – it is important to rule out the possibility of having TSS and if necessary your doctor will then be able to begin treatment early.

Well, you will be pleased to know that that incident was some twelve years ago and Nic recovered well, although it took some six weeks or more for her to be fully over it.

As for me, I will never forget the night my daughter nearly died.

Evelyn Tidman is the author of GENTLEMAN OF FORTUNE the Adventures of Bartholomew Roberts, Pirate and ONE SMALL CANDLE The Story of the Pilgrim Fathers.

Sunday, 15 June 2014


A 19 year old boy died of methodone overdose our local paper told us yesterday. Another junkie bites the dust? No, the story goes on to say that he became addicted to ordinary prescription painkillers. He had a dislocated shoulder and had been given the tablets for the pain. In a short while he was addicted. The methodone, of course, was supposed to break the addiction.

Meantime, my own dear husband developed arthritis in his hip. X rays showed that he had no cartilage whatsovever, bone on bone, with excruciating pain. He was given co-codamol for the pain on prescription, which continued after his hip replacement operation. Came the day when there was no more pain, and he thought he didn't need the painkillers any more. But he too was addicted.

Stopping the tablets made him feel very ill, with aches in arms and legs, restlessness, depressive feeling to the point of suicidal thoughts, heart palpitations, breathlessness, feeling cold, and a general feeling of being unwell. It took us a day to realise it was withdrawal from the tablets, and reading the leaflet in with the pack, it told us exactly that! Back on the tablets, he returned to normal within an hour!

How common is prescription medication addiction? Well, there doesn't seem to be any information that we could access. But there are sites on line which talk about codeine addiction. A friend who works in a local pharmacy, said that there were a number of people who came in regularly for codeine/paracetamol tablets whom they had on a 'watch' list.

Why is codeine addictive? Simply put, it is an opiate in the same family as tramadol, morphine, and heroin. And we all know how addictive heroin is.

So, if you found yourself addicted, what can you do about it?

The sites we looked at all recommended going 'cold turkey'. That is, to just stop the tablets. It would take five days to be free of the tablets, but each day of those five days would increase the symptoms of withdrawal. The pain would increase. (We assumed they meant headache, although my husband did not suffer that; perhaps they meant other, nerve or muscle pain, particularly in the arms and legs.) It did not sound like an option for my husband who has suffered a heart attack two years ago and we did not feel we could risk the palpitations and breathlessness.

So we went to our doctor, who flatly told us that he didn't think the symptoms my husband experienced could be co-codamol withdrawal! He thought the symptoms could be down to thyroid dysfunction, so he ordered a blood test (ten days to get a blood test, and another five to get the results.) Then come back and see him.

Back to our friendly website, where one person in America said that her doctor had told her to halve the medication for a week, then again for another week and so on. She decided to go cold turkey, so we have no idea how she got on. But we decided to try that method on our own.

As the tablets were 30 mg codeine and 500 mg of paracetamol each, and the dose had been two tablets four times a day, making 60 mg of codeine per dose, or 240 mg per day, we could halve the dose by cutting out one tablet. So that's what we did. Initially, he had a few small effects, especially as the time for the next dose came near, but in a short time the body adjusted, and five days later we felt ready for the next drop.

However, where could we get 15 mg of codeine? Well in Britain, you cannot buy codeine on its own over the counter. You can buy 20mg codeine with ibuprofen over the counter. But heart attack patients cannot take ibuprofen. But we could buy 8mg codeine/500mg paracetamol tablets. And only 32 of them at a time. Why? Because the pack tells you in plain language that they are addictive!

Anyway, so now it was 2 of those four times a day, and that lasted for four days until the next drop, which was down to just one 8 mg tablet per dose. The first day he had four doses. The second day he had three doses, but the arm and leg aches returned just before each dose. The day after (getting impatient here) he dropped it again by cutting the tablet in half. He had one half (4 mg) twice that day, but just before bed the aches got worse, so he succumbed to an 8 mg. The next day he had no tablets at all until just before bed, when the arms and legs ache came on again, when he had a half tablet (4 mg.) But he did have a very bad night. The next morning he didn't seem to need any, but again just before bed-time he had to have another 4 mg.

The day after he decided he wasn't going to have the one before bedtime at all. So a completely codeine free day. The aches came on again, but he took two ordinary paracetamol. He had a bad night's sleep, but survived it.

Yesterday he had no tablets, and no aches only a 'slight feeling' in his arms, and a good night.

The whole process took us 17 days to be completely free.

We found also that a good all-round B vitamin tablet helped with the depressive feelings.

Was it easy? Well, no. Each time we halved the dose, the body reacted, especially at the time just before the next dose was due. The reaction, though was a lot less than the day when he thought he would go cold turkey! It was do-able.

As for me, I have needed a lot of patience to support him. I had to keep encouraging him. He could do it. I had to remain positive. And when he was bad-tempered (unusual for my normally placid husband) I had to try not to be bad tempered back. Well, we've been married over 42 years now, so we have learned to support each other in love.

Another thing that helped was keeping a chart of the time and what tablets taken. When we found it hard going we could look back and see the progress he had made.

Now he is free. Never again will those wretched things darken our doors. It's been a fight, but we got there.

I have published this post because others may benefit from our experience.

Evelyn Tidman is the author of factual historical novels GENTLEMAN OF FORTUNE The Adventures of Bartholomew Roberts, Pirate; ONE SMALL CANDLE The Story of William Bradford and the Pilgrim Fathers; FOR THE KING, Roger L'Estrange and the Siege of King's Lynn.

Monday, 2 June 2014


Today we live in a world of indoor plumbing, central heating, electricity, to say nothing of the technology which seems to have overtaken us. But what was it like for poorer people in Britain years ago? Even fifty or sixty years ago, people seemed to be living in the 'dark ages'.

Modernisation came slowly to rural areas. My grandmother lived in a cottage in the Essex countryside in the fifties with no electricity. She had gas-lighting. She had to pull a chain on it to start the gas coming through, and put a match to the 'mantle' a small dome-shaped mesh (about an inch or so across and perhaps an inch and a half long) which over time would disintegrate and have to be replaced. You would have to get a new one (came in a box of six) from the 'ironmongers'. They were so delicate that when they had been used once, if you touched them you would put your finger through them. I always worried that Gran would gas herself, or us (in the days of coal gas, you understand) or that she would blow us all up! It used to make a loud 'poof' as it ignited! But it seemed to work. The gaslight had a peculiar smell which never seemed to dissipate. Makes you wonder how they didn't all asphyxiate from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Of course, there was the open fire. Everyone had an open fire. In London the accumulated smoke from domestic and industrial use of coal combined with certain weather conditions to produce a thick smog. I can remember my Dad having to follow a bus home one night, because you just could not see further than ten feet ahead! 

Because you had just one coal fire in the house, you lived in one room and spent the evening huddled around a minute black-and-white television with a screen no bigger than a tablet today. The bedrooms were unheated. Net curtains stuck to the windows with frost in the mornings, and you could see your breath. Everything was done in the one living room - you washed in the adjoining kitchen, and you dressed in front of the fire if you did not want to catch pneumonia. The 'front room' which was supposed to be 'posh' was not only unheated, but also abandoned, and became the dumping ground for everything no-one knew what to do with. 

Later, we graduated to a sparkly new gas fire. But when that new-fangled thing called central heating came in, many people avoided it, not just because of the expense (all that money to install a lot of radiators!) but also because they thought it was unhealthy! This at a time when everyone smoked, and we kids were almost kippered from the smoke of the fire! People also thought that sleeping in a heated bedroom made you weak. You needed to be toughened up! And everyone knew that running gas central heating was so expensive. Well no. The cost of running it was on a par with running a gas fire all day! I did not experience central heating until long after I was married when my husband and I moved to a new house in Norfolk, which was in 1979. And we were the exception then.

Gran in the cottage had a toilet at the bottom of the garden in a shed full of bits of wood, spiders and their huge webs, to say nothing of the mice and rats. The toilet consisted of an oil drum (a large round tin can about 3ft high, rusting and really unlovely) with a toilet seat perched precariously on it! I wouldn't go down there if I could help it! What did they do with the contents of that oil drum? Well, some people dug a hole in the garden and buried it! Ugh! In Norfolk they had the 'honey cart' which came round at night and collected it. I wouldn't like to say what happened to it then. 

In our small Edwardian terraced house in London, we had the luxury of a fully flushing toilet (with the cistern suspended above your head and a long chain for the flush).  However, it was 'outside'. Thankfully we had a 'lean-to' or glass conservatory-type building to keep the elements off, which was a luxury our neighbours did not have, but it was still perishingly cold in winter. Most people thought an indoor toilet was 'unhealthy'. More unhealthy than constipation because you couldn't sit there long enough because it was so cold? People had a chamber pot (affectionately called a 'guzunder' because it goes under the bed - get it?) for night time.We had running hot and cold water, but no proper bathroom until Dad built an extension on the house. We kids were washed in the kitchen sink. And the toilet stayed outside.

Grandmother didn't fare so well. She had a tin bath. I don't know if, at her age, she ever used it, but tin baths were usually placed in front of the fire in the living room, or in front of the range in the kitchen if there was room. Water was heated on the range and tipped into the bath and the family would start with the youngest child and work up to Father. He probably came out dirtier and smellier than he went in! Hair was washed in the kitchen sink, teeth were cleaned in the kitchen sink. All washing of bodies and clothes was done in the kitchen sink. Clothes were wrung out using a mangle, which fascinated us kids!

My husband and I moved out of London to Norfolk in 1979. A friend of mine brought up in King's Lynn, Norfolk, also in the fifties, did not even have running water. Instead they had a pump at the end of the street. Mind you, we still have a saying in Norfolk that the county is at least ten years behind the rest of the country! I wonder if that is still true? Technology is creeping in even here.

Sometime in the sixties, my grandmother moved out and the cottages (which were probably extremely picturesque and would be worth a fortune today) were demolished, and she went to live with my aunt and uncle, being deemed to old to care for herself. She died aged 79 in 1962.

Ah! Those were the days! The good old days? Give me modern conveniences every time.

Evelyn Tidman is the author of GENTLEMAN OF FORTUNE The Adventures of Bartholomew Roberts, Pirate and ONE SMALL CANDLE The Story of William Bradford and the Pilgrim Fathers available from Amazon in print and in Kindle: US   UK   Australia   Canada . For other countries please see Amazon.
See website:

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Pilgrims leave for America.

A snippet from ONE SMALL CANDLE as the Pilgrims leave Holland on the Speedwell for England on the first leg of their journey to America:

John Robinson came over and sat down on the blanket beside Will, linking his hands over his drawn up knees. ‘I would that I could come with you Will,’ he said.
‘We will miss you,’ Will told him. He paused for his heart was full of love for this fearless proclaimer of God’s Word, yet not knowing quite how to express it. ‘I will miss you.’ It was no more than the truth. ‘I want you to know, Brother, that you, and Brother Brewster, have been like fathers to me. I have learned so much from you both.’

John Robinson smiled that quiet smile of his, and said gently: ‘We’ve watched you grow up, Will, seen you at a tender age take a stand for the Truth. Don’t ever compromise the Truth. Stand upright for the Lord. Be strong, Will. The company rely on your good sense and your capableness. You are an elder and you know what you are about. Work together with Master Brewster, and Master Carver and Master Fuller. You have strength in you. Use it.’

Will was silent, feeling that he was unworthy of this great man’s accolade, yet deeply grateful for it at the same time.

John Robinson put his hand inside his jerkin and brought out some sheets of paper folded up together and sealed. ‘I have written a letter for all the brothers and sisters, and all those going along with you, which I hope will encourage you all.’

Will took the letter and John put his hand on his to stop him opening it. ‘No, it is for when you sail from Southampton. Give it into the hand of Brother Brewster when you meet him there.’

Obediently Will tucked it into his doublet. ‘Yes, I will.’

‘And write to me, Will. Tell me the details Brother Brewster will not think to tell me, for he is lazy when it comes to writing letters, I think. Look how few he has sent since he has been in England!’

‘I will write,’ Will promised.

John sighed, and the silence between them was awkward. ‘I would I were going with you,’ he repeated. ‘You have no idea how much this means to me, how much I long to go. You are doing the Lord’s work in this. Build a settlement, a colony, help others to come after you, to a place where a man may think and worship as he wishes. And one day, perhaps I can come to you, if the Lord wills it.’

‘I would you were coming now,’ Will told him.

John’s eyes took on a glow as he saw America in his imagination. ‘This will be our Promised Land, Will. We will build Jerusalem, a cause for rejoicing, in the wilderness. A land built on the free worship of God. You are young, Will. You will bear the burdens well. And God will go with you.’

As the dawn approached on Saturday 22 July 1620 they began to board the Speedwell. The warm night had turned to rain, soaking passengers and crew and well-wishers.

To Captain Reynolds’ intense annoyance, everyone went aboard, including those saying farewell. The ship’s decks were a tangle of people, men and women and children, getting caught up in the ropes, in the way of the sailors.

The moment had come. They wept in each others’ arms, and sobbed, and prayed together. Children wept at being parted from parents. Fear and Patience Brewster sobbed in their mother’s arms, for she was going and taking her two young sons with her and they were not. Bridget Fuller clung to her husband Sam as he tried to comfort her. Digorie Priest said goodbye to his wife Sarah and his sons who were staying, and Sarah Priest in her turn hugged her own brother Isaac Allerton and his wife Mary and their three young children for they were all going. Nothing, Mary Allerton had declared to her husband when he suggested she and the little ones should stay at home, would prevent her from taking her place at her husband’s side, and where she went, her children went, as a matter of course. William White, who was going with his very pregnant wife, Susanna, Sam Fuller’s sister, and their sole surviving son Resolved, aged just five, bid farewell to his cousins Roger White and Bridget Robinson. Mary Cushman was a passenger, ready to meet her husband in Southampton. Catherine Carver kissed her sisters Bridget Robinson and Jane Thickens and Frances Jessop, and her brothers Thomas and Roger White. She was also to meet her husband John Carver in Southampton. Edward Winslow and his wife Elizabeth who had become beloved by all the congregation, had no-one to say goodbye to, but the Blossoms, Thomas and Thomas junior who were going wept with Anne, wife and mother to be left behind.

John Robinson fell to his knees on the deck, and, as if it were a signal, the noise suddenly stopped, and with almost one motion everyone of the congregation fell to their knees with him. In prayer, with tears, John Robinson begged God for his love and help towards the travellers—the Pilgrims.

Now the time had come for Will and Dorothy to part from her parents and her sister, and their five-year old son Jonathan.

The parting  was worse than Will had anticipated. An agony that would stay with him a lifetime. For all his youth Jonathan understood that his parents were leaving him, perhaps forever. He clung to Dorothy, sobbing and begging her not to go.

Dorothy sobbed as she held him tightly. ‘There, there, don’t cry my little man. We’ll soon see you again. I promise.’ But her efforts at soothing him were hampered by her own sobs.

‘Mother! Please don’t go! Don’t leave me here! Please. I want to go too.’

Will bent down and tried a sterner tactic. ‘Now John, no more of this crying. You must be a man and look after grandmother.’

But Jonathan clung all the harder and wailed pitifully.

Will took him from Dorothy, and held him in his own arms. This was his son, his own flesh and blood. Will loved him as a father must, and his resolve weakened. But he was not ignorant of the dangers that lay ahead. No, Jonathan was far too precious to risk on a venture that he knew was fraught with danger.

Deprived of Jonathan, Dorothy threw her arms around her mother and the two women wept, and then her father, as Will gave Jonathan into his grandmother’s arms. With promises to write and to the sound of Jonathan’s hysterics, Will gently pulled her away, allowing them to leave the ship.

Captain Reynolds’s voice could be heard above the tumult. They must make sail or lose the tide.

With all those ashore who were going ashore, Captain Reynolds gave his orders to the mate: ‘Make all sail!’

‘Lay aloft there, you laggards!’ cried the mate, and barefooted sailors ran up the rigging, loosing the sails. Others cast off and the ship began to move.

The passengers lined the gunwales as the wind filled the sails and the Speedwell moved away from the quay, slowly at first, then with growing speed, out into deep water. The passengers waved to their friends and families, calling out last-minute messages.

And there in the front of the bystanders, his blonde curls shining like ripe corn was Jonathan, Will’s last sight of him, standing between his grandparents, crying out for his mother, little hand outstretched to the ship.
Will watched him until they were out of sight, as tears streamed down his own face.

ONE SMALL CANDLE Available in print and Kindle editions
Click link below:
AUSTRALIA Kindle only.
For other countries please see Amazon

Also available in Print and Kindle formats from Amazon.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


This is my contribution to the chain of posts by historical fiction authors in which we introduce the main character of our work in progress of soon-to-be-published novel.

1.  What is the name of your character? Is he fictional or a historic person?

Roger L’Estrange is a real historical person who was born in 1616.

2.  When and where is the story set?

1640 to 1648 which is during the English Civil War. The story is set in Norfolk, particularly in Hunstanton and in King’s Lynn.

3.  What should we know about him?

Roger L’Estrange is the third and youngest son of Sir Hamon L’Estrange. He is an impetuous young man, a dashing cavalier, eager to fight for the King.

4.  What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

His royalist father seizes control of King’s Lynn from the hands of Parliament, which brings Oliver Cromwell and Lord Manchester and a large army to the town to lay siege to it. Both Roger and his brother fight to defend Lynn. At the same time Roger falls in love with a beautiful Puritan woman, which earns him the displeasure of his father.

5.  What is the personal goal of the character?

Roger wants to win the approval of his father and his King. At the same time he is fighting to win his lady despite the disapproval of both their families. Furthermore he wants King’s Lynn in the hands of the royalists, and he will do anything to achieve it.

6.  Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

It is called For The King, and subtitled Roger L’Estrange and the siege of King’s Lynn during the English Civil War (might change that last bit!).

7.  When can we expect the book to be published?

Well I was hoping for the spring, but as the spring is already in full swing, I think it might be a bit later! It is taking longer than I thought. At the latest in the autumn, but possibly in the summer. Either way, not long!

You can read a snippet from FOR THE KING at

I have tagged other authors who will be posting about their main character on the 12th April:  

Beth Von Staats 

My other books available from Amazon:


The Battle of Newburn

Newburn, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, August 1640

As Roger Le Strange watched the sea of blue hats of the ranked masses of Scottish Covenanters across the Tyne valley his heart shuddered in his chest. They outnumbered the King’s army and were better prepared, more experienced.
‘’Sblood, we’ll be slaughtered!’ someone along the line swore and Roger glanced towards him. No-one smiled. They sat on their restless horses grim-faced, staring at imminent death, mechanically struggling to keep them in the rank.
Roger’s gloved hand shook as it held the rein. No wonder his horse sidestepped.
‘You know what Leslie intends to do, don’t you?’ His father’s deep voice beside him caused him to turn his head sharply to look at him. As ever, Sir Hamon was cool, matter-of-fact even. His grey eyes briefly held the ghost of a smile and he calmed Roger.
He took a steadying breath. ‘He wants to take Newcastle.’ The Scottish target, the town of Newcastle, with its fortifications was no more than five miles to the east but here at Newburn with its ford was the crossing point over the Tyne.
‘Indeed.’ Sir Hamon squinted in the bright August sun at the opposite bank. ‘They’ve got artillery in the tower.’
Roger’s eyes followed his gaze to the top of the square church tower where shadowy dots moved about behind the battlements. He could not see the guns, but he knew they were there ready to rain death on the King’s men. ‘I see them,’ he said. ‘How in the name of all that is sacred did they get them up there?’
‘A lot of heave-ho-ing I shouldn’t wonder!’ Sir Hamon turned his attention to the King’s army, the infantry, the pikemen, the gunners massed on the slopes below them. ‘Damn shambles!’ he grumbled. He referred to the troops Viscount Conway had mustered for the king, a ramshackle army of raw and largely untrained recruits, ordinary men who had marched from the south of the country to arrive exhausted and demoralised  in the borderlands. Many of them had no heart for the fight. They were there because of loyalty to their ‘lords of the manor’ who had been summoned to the King’s army. An undisciplined and unwilling rabble, Roger thought. They had no idea of the cause of the argument, no grasp of the politics, no pay and no reason to fight.
Sweat trickled down Roger’s back and stood out on his clean-shaven lip. He wore a thick, padded gambeson beneath his coat so that the armour did not chafe through to his skin.
They had lapsed into silence, father and son. Tension swaddled the waiting troops. Beyond their own artillery the grassy bank shimmered in the heat. On the opposite bank the Scots lined up their men behind the guns. On the King’s side too, men were lined up in ranks. They moved around as though they were out for a Sunday stroll, shuffling in the heat, weighed down with glinting armour, those that had it, forming into ragged lines, while the officers rode up and down bellowing orders. The King should have had a retained army, trained, ready. But with Parliament withholding payment, he simply could not afford it. As it was, he could not pay the troops now. The lords had to see to it.
‘What’s this?’ Sir Hamon moved away a little and stood up in the stirrups to get a better look. Roger followed his example. A rider, no three riders, came out from the Scottish ranks, splashing across the river Tyne at the Newburn Ford and galloped into the English camp.
Sir Hamon immediately dismounted, handing the reins to his son and marched to Viscount Conway’s tent. As a mere younger son, Roger was not privy to the conversations of his commanders, whereas Sir Hamon was. But as Lord Conway emerged from his tent to meet the riders, he jumped down from his horse, handed the reins of both horses to their groom who had magically appeared from behind him and followed at a run behind his father and found himself at the rear of Lord Conway’s men. He was considered a tall man, but their hats obscured his vision, so that he moved more to the side to see what was happening.
The messengers dressed in tartan skirts and sashes and blue coats did not dismount, but one of them sporting an impressive red beard walked his fine chestnut mare forward. Even then he stayed mounted, staring haughtily down on the English Lord. The Scottish heathens lacked common manners!
‘General Leslie sends his compliments to Lord Conway,’ he bellowed in a thick lilting Scottish brogue so that Roger had to concentrate hard in order to understand him.
Viscount Conway, an elegant man, with long flowing light brown hair and an immaculate moustache and small beard, graciously inclined his head in stark contrast to the uncouth Scottish messenger who continued:
‘We, the Covenanters do not wish to fight the English but General Leslie requests free passage so that we may petition the King.’ He leaned forward and held out a scroll of paper so that Lord Conway could reach it.
Breaking the seal, Lord Conway took a minute to read while the messengers waited and everyone else held their breath.
Then he pursed his lips. ‘Tell the General that I cannot accede to his wishes,’ he said and turned his back on the messenger to return to his tent, contemptuously dismissing him.
The Scotsman’s eyes flashed in anger and all of Conway’s men reached for the swords on their hips, but although the man grumbled something incomprehensible he turned his horse’s head and spurred the animal into a gallop down the slope towards the Tyne, his companions following behind.
Conway stopped at the tent entrance and turned to Colonel Lunsford in command of the artillery. ‘Make ready the guns.’
Sir Hamon left Conway’s men and Roger joined him as they returned to the cavalry. Sir Hamon shot him a censuring look, but chose not to mention Roger’s impertinence. The drummers began to beat the advance and Roger felt that swoop in his belly of fear and excitement.
‘This is it,’ Sir Hamon said to Roger. ‘Remember what I taught you. No heroics. Do not risk your life. Make your sword thrusts true.’
He walked quickly, but Roger kept pace. ‘I will watch your back, sir.’
He stopped and looked at his son, tenderness in his eyes. ‘If I do not come home, look after your lady mother,’ he said.
Roger nodded and swallowed.
Shouts behind them warned them as the first cannon fired. Turning around, Roger’s heart swooped as he saw the Scottish cavalry advancing towards the ford. A plume of spray in the Tyne showed where a cannonball from the Royalist’s side hit the water, the aim too short, but the English adjusted their aim and continued to fire on the Cavalry with the boom of cannon, spewing smoke and the shuddering of the hot August air. The smell of burning gunpowder wafted towards them and all at once Roger and Sir Hamon ran for their horses.
Scottish horses collapsed beneath their riders, mown down by the barrage of fire from the Royalists, then the Scots retreated. However the small victory was short lived. From their vantage points on the slightly higher ground, the Scots retaliated by pounding the English guns.
By now Roger and Sir Hamon had reached their positions and took possession of their mounts, Roger leaping into the saddle, Sir Hamon hopping up stiffly from the stirrup.
The bombardment was relentless and the gunners turned and fled. ‘Look at them!’ Roger cried in disgust. ‘They run from the Scots!’
Frowning at the retreating figures of English artillery running from the enemy, Sir Hamon merely said: ‘Raw recruits. Even Colonel Lunsford cannot keep them.’ From this higher point they could see the Scots pouring across the dark river at the ford, could see the whole battle being played out beneath them.
Frustration made Roger grind his teeth. ‘We need to give fire!’ But there was no-one left to give fire, they had fled.
‘Here they come!’
The cry from along the ranks made Roger draw breath. Beneath him his horse fidgeted and nodded his head. With an effort Roger held him, patted and stroked the animal’s neck with a black gloved hand and spoke to him in low tones, but his eyes were on the oncoming Scottish hordes.
‘Hold you hard there, boy.’ Sir Hamon’s voice was low. Roger took a steadying breath. All along the cavalry line the king’s men drew their swords with the ring of metal, holding them upright in their hands, ready for the order.
They waited as the Scottish cavalry charged down the hill.
‘We should go,’ Sir Hamon muttered. ‘He’s leaving it too late.’
Then as the Scots crossed the river, the order came from Henry Wilmot, in command of the cavalry. ‘Charge!’
Digging his heels into his horse’s flanks, with his father at his side, Roger leaned forward in the saddle as his bay stallion sprang into action like a suddenly released spring, hurtling headlong down the grassy slope, hooves thundering over the uneven turf.. Roger kept pace with everyone else, his sword held out in front of him. No man wanted to be the one out in front when they met with the enemy, but neither did he want to be the last man.
The Scottish musketeers had already taken up their positions.
Suddenly confronted with two ranks of black muzzles, the first of the cavalry came to a sudden halt in front of Roger and his father. Quickly they pulled up on the reins as the upper rank of Scottish muskets belched smoke and popped. A whisper of hot air next to Roger’s ear, felt rather than heard, was too close for comfort.
In the confusion, men and horses were hit.
It was too much for the inexperienced English. They too broke ranks and began to retreat to get out of the murderous, death-dealing fire. Sizing up the situation, Roger grabbed the reins on Sir Hamon’s mount and pulled him round.

‘Let’s get out of here,’ he bellowed.

FOR THE KING Roger L'Estrange and the Siege of King's Lynn, an English Civil War novel will be published in the autumn.

Evelyn Tidman is the author of GENTLEMAN OF FORTUNE The Adventures of Bartholomew Roberts, Pirate and ONE SMALL CANDLE The Story of William Bradford and the Pilgrim Fathers available from Amazon

Sunday, 23 March 2014

FORMATTING YOUR BOOK FOR KINDLE For Those Who Are Not Whizz-kids On The Computer

With the difficulty of landing a publishing contract, many writers are going it alone on the self-publishing trail. I'm one of them. And I have to say that when I had finished the writing and needed to find a way of getting it 'out there' it was like hitting a wall. I had no idea how to get up and over it, or round it, or through it. It seemed impenetrable.

But bit by bit, I managed it, as many others have. But not without tears and tantrums a-plenty. How the computer is still in one piece I do not know!

To save others the trauma of fighting their way through this wall, I thought I would explain what I have learned.

The following applies to Amazon Kindle and is for those who are not computer buffs. That probably means the older ones among us, because the kids can all make a computer whistle 'Dixie' as it dances up the street! So this is the guide for those who don't know how to do hardly anything!

The work starts as you write your book. Already written it? Well, you'll no doubt have to make some changes.

Kindle does not recognise the tab key. So if you have used it for your paragraph indentations, each and every one of them will have to be re-done. I use Word 2003, so the instructions here are for that. No doubt other versions of Word will not be too different.

Go to the start of the word which begins the paragraph and backspace so that it is now on the margin. Go into Format > Paragraph > Indents and Spacing and on the bit which says 'Indentation' go onto 'left'. Change the figure in the box to whatever you want - I use 1.0 cm for indents. Click OK. Your paragraph will be indented. All of it. Do not panic. You have a hanging paragraph. Now click unhang. If you do not have that on your toolbar, you need to put it there. (Tools > Customise > Format and on the right hand column scroll down until you reach 'unhang'. Click and drag it to your toolbar.)

Sadly you will have to go through this palaver for all the paragraphs in your book. But if the book is not already written, doing it once for the first indented paragraph will do. You will notice that every paragraph will automatically indent when you hit the 'enter' key.

While you are in the 'paragraph' box, right at the top click 'Line and Page Breaks' and make sure everything is unchecked. You do not want 'orphans and widows' messing up your formatting, which it does; likewise 'keep lines together'. You may need to do this for every section of your document. You cannot rely on highlighting All (ctrl+A) and then doing it. If you haven't yet typed anything, do it as you indent your first paragraph.

Note: The first paragraph of a chapter or a new scene is not indented.

To remove the paragraph indent again, Format > Paragraph > Special and in the drop down box click 'none'.

A word about spacing. It's got to be single line spacing, even between paragraphs. Use double line spacing only when there is a change of scene, and you may want to put in then a few asterisks, or dashes or whatever takes your fancy. Up to you. But if that bit ends up at the bottom of a page, the reader will not be alerted to the change of scene without some indication.

Only one space between words, please. And British writers, especially those who have been taught to type and put two spaces after full-stops, question marks, exclamation marks, colons and so on, DON'T. I know it's a bind, but you have to learn not to do it. A bit of retraining needed here. The reason is that when you justify the right hand margin, the computer automatically shuffles the words along and you have these huge great gaps in the line where your extra space is. You might be able to find them all by using Find/Replace. I went through it several times using this method putting a full-stop and two spaces in the 'Find' box and a full-stop and one space in the 'Replace' box. Ditto for question marks etc. And don't forget after speech marks.

For Kindle, do not put in page numbers as the pages adjust automatically on a Kindle as the reader adjusts the font size. That is also why you do not want 'orphans and widows'.

Start each chapter on a new page. At the end of each chapter Insert > Break.

There is a way of inserting a 'Table of Contents' whereby the reader can click on a chapter heading in a list at the beginning of the book and go straight to that chapter. I haven't figured that out yet, but there are on-line tutorials for that.

When you are happy with your work, justify the RH margin. For those who do not know, the command looks like this:
Click the one on the right.

Don't forget to proof-read your book.

Don't forget to add the title page and copyright page etc.

At the point where you want the book to start, (normally at the place where it says Chapter 1) Insert > Bookmark and add the word START.

Right, now you are almost ready to go. Now you have to change your document to an HTML Filtered file. To do this, open your book file. Click 'Save As'. Now at the bottom of the box, beneath the bit which says 'File_name', there is a drop-down box which is labelled 'save as type' and beside it it will say 'Word document' in a drop-down box. Click the arrow. Click 'Web Page, Filtered', because that is what you want. (It took me three days to find this. I know, I know, but I just couldn't figure it out! Trial and error got me there in the end!) Click 'Save'. You'll get a warning about 'office specific tabs', but just click 'Yes'. You will still have your original Word document, and now you will have a new one next to it with a symbol which tells you it is your HTML Filtered file.

Now go to KDP Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing) and if you have not already signed up etc. do it now.

As you fill in the on-line form you will upload your cover file. And when you are asked to submit your interior file on the form, it is already there on your computer and waiting for you to upload it. Go through it on the proof-reader to make sure it looks OK.

Fill in the rest of the form. Click 'Publish'. But don't panic, because you can change your file at any time - such as if you suddenly discover some glaring error! (I found to my horror that I'd left the T out of GENTLEMAN OF FORTUNE on the title page! I looked on Amazon, and there it was(n't)! I soon got that rectified.)

Have a glass of wine (or cup of coffee if you prefer) and a large slice of cake. You deserve it!

Evelyn Tidman is the author of GENTLEMAN OF FORTUNE The Adventures of Bartholomew Roberts, Pirate and ONE SMALL CANDLE The Story of William Bradford and the Pilgrim Fathers -