I live in Switzerland.
And I love living in Switzerland.
I wasn't born here, I was born in Saffron Walden, a small town in the UK, although I haven't been there for....oh, a long, long, loooooong time. If I tell you just how long, I will be giving away far too many family secrets and we've only just met, so I'll keep it to myself for a while longer.
So, how did I end up here? Well, I started off over the border in France where I went (a looong time ago) to 'do' a ski season and all these years later, here I still am. Life here suits me, I feel like I fit, I feel at home and I love those mountains (see above). Also, where better to live than in a country where they produce prodigious quantities of cheese, chocolate and wine! I'm in!
I will admit though, like many an ex-pat around the world, I stay closely in touch with my homeland, wait impatiently for every visit to or from and am a regular customer at the local shop selling 'British goods'.
I have enjoyed writing for a long time and felt sure I had a book in me - but how/when/where do you find the time? I had a (more than) full-time job, one that took up every ounce of my available energy, and then some. Until the day I had what can only be described an an epiphany. Nothing revolutionary, but important all the same; I realised that my own life was passing me by and if I didn't write my book now, then I never would. My (more than) full-time job was also making me seriously unhappy, inexorably eating up me up and sapping my soul. So, one day, when I got home from work, I sat on the sofa, fired up the laptop and started writing. I found it was a wonderful release at the end of the day and the words poured out of me. This was it, this was me! I was happy writing and it felt so good to be doing something for myself instead of for everyone else. All the same, I honestly don't think I would have ever finished had not fate intervened in the form of....a burnout. My body just packed up one day, closed the shop, pulled down the blinds and tacked up a 'closed for business until further notice' sign.
The bad bit; I was sad, mad, slightly ashamed and too exhausted to do much at all.
The good bit; I didn't have to go into that office anymore. Ha! Silver lining and all of that. Didn't have a job of course but no worry, let's just keep our focus on that silver lining....
It took time. A long time, but eventually I was able to start dabbling with my book again and gradually - oh, so, gradually - it started to take shape. A first draft was done! I sent it out to a few trusted bookworms, took their advice on the chin and got to work with re-writes and some much needed cutting. Slash and burn! Trim the fat! Downsize! My book is not short but it was waaaaaaay longer a while back. I reckon I have a whole other book somewhere of all the stuff I took out, stuff I liked too - but too much is too much. Especially for a beginner.
As the new slimline Stella took shape, I sent it out to more family and friends; more advice, more editing, Edit, edit, edit. And so, finally, on to the proof-reading. I couldn't afford to get it done professionally so I did it myself with help from some wonderful eagle-eyed friends. Excuse the odd typo we may have missed. I could have carried on until the end of time, adjusting, changing, improving, but I had to stop eventually, pluck up the courage and send it out into the world.
And, you know, I'm happy with the end result and that's a pretty good place to be. My first book.
So, step inside and join me.....open up your life to a little Stellar....