This month it’s my pleasure to introduce Alison Moore (pseudonym Charlotte Moore), a Facebook friend of mine you may already know. Multi-talented and endlessly bashful about her abilities, I’m confident you’ll love her work as much as I do. I asked her to tell us about her career, writing and art, and this is what she had to say.
I was tickled pink when Beth asked me to be a guest on her lovely blog. Yes, we have been online friends for years and chat about all and sundry, but write a blog piece?
I’m, hmmm… how would I describe myself to those who don’t know me? Well, I suppose I’ve got to an age where I’d be called mildly eccentric. I tend to flit around like a creative butterfly between one project and another. My creative brain won’t sit still!
My first serious adventure into writing came after I bought my little bit of paradise in the Sierra Nevada in Spain. A traditional wattle and daub style construction squashed in between a couple of others.
Lanjarón is such a beautiful town, relaxed and friendly with great views. Sadly, amongst the great times I had, there were a few problems and, in an effort to clear the demons, I began writing things down to dismiss them from my head. With encouragement from friends and a few tears, those notes were juggled into Calamity Spain.
It took a lot of time for those demons to be quashed. Every time I went to edit the book, it was like opening Pandora’s box. I now feel that after all this time I can move on to the sequel and have a little more fun with the wonderful characters there. It’s on my ‘To Do’ list.
Beth asked if I’d share a short extract from Calamity Spain to give you a flavour of my experiences. Set just after the purchase, I invited new friends around for drinks.
“The entrance to my little house is not for the faint-hearted as it is four tight spiral steps to the door then the fumble for the tiny keyhole.
At the door was Bella whom I’d only briefly met, another ex-pat and an artist who came on the arm of Diego the Spaniard I’d seen in Bar Health, then Annie who lived in a cortijo just outside of town with her dog Flopsy, and Doug the carpenter; who bore an uncanny resemblance to the young John Wayne.
It was lovely to get time to chat with everyone and ask opinions on the house. Bella and Brenda were deep in discussion and looking at the steps up to the top terrace. “That’s a bit steep, how are you going to get up there with wine?”
“I hadn’t really thought of that, why?”
“We were thinking,” they looked at each other, “Why not attach a pulley to the wall and a bucket at the end? Save you trying to carry stuff up.”
“That’s not a bad idea at all, thanks.”
“And I’m sure that Martin and Dom could sort it easily?”
“I’ll stick it on the list of To Do’s.”
Doug came out with fresh beers for everyone after nearly tripping over Flopsy who had taken root in the doorway. He’d overheard me saying to the others that some furniture must go. “I’ll have the sideboard if it’s going,” he said cheekily knowing full well that a traditional Spanish sideboard was going nowhere.
“Oh no you won’t, but you are welcome to make an offer on the dining table and chairs.”
“Don’t you want it?”
“Way too big for me and I’d not use it downstairs. Seems a shame for it to just sit there gathering dust.”
“We’ve been after one. How about a trade?”
“Double oak doors for the back of the mule shed? Beautiful doors that need a bit of TLC but they would look lovely if you are planning to use downstairs.”
“Done. Providing the size is workable it would be great.”
“Now we’ve drunk those beers, where’s the next round?” “
If you fancy reading more, here’s the Amazon link for the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Calamity-Spain-Fulfilling-Charlotte-Moore-ebook/dp/B01NCLEMEZ/ref
The writing went dormant other than a few short stories for ‘Tails of the Alpujarras’ and Beth and Zoe’s ‘Completely Cats’. I really wasn’t sure if I could put pen to paper again so I turned to my other love, art.
I have always drawn in graphite and coloured pencil, but felt that to be a ‘real’ artist I needed to paint. I was then in Goldilocks mode. I found I was too heavy-handed for watercolours, I just didn’t have that super-light touch. I had the briefest of plays with oils; oh my, it was a disaster! I’m just not loose enough. So on to acrylics that I’d not used since college. These are much more versatile and I managed to produce some nice work that sold in Pop-Up Galleries.
One of the pieces I loved was a black and white study of Joaquin Cortez, a famous flamenco dancer. He even commented on my tweet of it! It was a huge piece, some 80cm x 40cm. Sadly it never sold and after a few years of it hanging around I did something I’d never done before, I painted over it: much to Beth’s horror. Before the paint was dry, it sold. It was the right thing to do and was very liberating.
As always happens in my butterfly brain, my writing side began to claw its way back whilst I was being arty. A few poems emerged, something I’d not written in ages. Then random ideas for books that were started and remain unfinished, gathering dust in my many notebooks. I wish I could stay focused!
My business was taking up so much of my time at this point that I was always too tired to paint or write. I’d been self-employed from a teenager as a graphic designer and an industrial screen printer. The work often involved printing on large preformed metal panels for amplifiers and such. Printing those was like a gym workout.
I was becoming mentally ill with the number of hours I was working trying to keep my head above water and looking back, I had been in denial for many years. So, I made a plan of what I wanted to achieve in the future, which boiled down to a better life/work balance. I made the huge decision to sell the business.
It was a big leap, as being a Graphic Designer and Printer was all I’d ever known, but I was getting too old for the work I was doing. Yes, I had diversified into digital printing and embroidery but I was drained of any energy.
I wanted out. I wanted to be all the things I’d dreamed of being. A writer, an artist and most of all, happy.
I sold up and had 12 months living off the funds before taking a complete change of career working in a dementia care home as an activity coordinator. It was scary. I had never worked with the elderly before and knew nothing of dementia but I came to love delivering person-centred activities and it became a passion. I took to the work like the proverbial duck to water. All my self-employed juggling of work and a fistful of post-it notes helped me to develop my career and improve the activities in the home. So much so that we proudly achieved an ‘Outstanding’ report from the CQC. (Care Quality Commission)
Although the company gave exemplary training in care there was very little regarding activities. It was a steep learning curve of natural development, and me being me, I wanted to do the job to the best of my ability and advance.
Sadly, advancement was not possible and I decided to move sideways into a career working with SEN [special educational needs] students at the local college. In many ways, it was a similar environment and a lightbulb began to glow in the back of my mind, I could write a handbook for those in the activity’s role. With nearly 20,000 care homes in the U.K. I felt it was something that was needed. It’s a key role in keeping residents engaged in life whether they are cognitive or not.
The Activity Handbook developed quite quickly.
I knew what I wanted to convey and how to convey it. I was incredibly proud when I hit ‘publish’ on Amazon a few months ago. Now I just need to keep on with the marketing and get it out there! Yet another learning curve for my butterfly brain.
Strangely enough, I didn’t immediately go back to drawing. Well, apart from a little miniature portrait of a Dachshund owned by a celebrity chef, I carried on writing! This time I am working on a book I’m calling Calamity Camping.
A novella based on my personal camping experiences since childhood and the faux pas that have occurred over the years, whether tents, caravans, campervans, or motorhomes. I am still amazed that I had a Berlingo converted into a motorhome, which caused much confusion when phoning up for insurance!
Currently, I am working on the edits in less-than-ideal conditions: my computer is lodged on the edge of the dining table and I am surrounded by boxes that have yet to be unpacked.
Why? We have moved house! A massive move up to the beautiful countryside of Lincolnshire. Remember that plan I wrote earlier? All boxes are now ticked and early retirement has begun. Now time to enjoy my art, write my books and roam around in the motorhome. Dreams do come true. Just click your heels together three times and believe in what you can achieve.
The good news, though, is that it is up for pre-release on Amazon!
If you’d like to see more of my art, please pop along to my website using the link below:
For more on my writing, feel free to drop in at: