Armchair adventure anyone?
What you, the followers of this blog have told me, is that you really love two things: finding out about new books, and hearing from the authors, so have I got a treat for you today! This one is jam packed with both of those, and more!
If you’re anything like me, summertime beckons a good old-fashioned adventure. But when you just can’t get out there yourself, there’s always a way to live through others, right?
Or course I’m talking about reading a well-told adventure book, and boy have I got three gems for you! They’re all a bit different: one’s on horseback, two are on foot, but all three tackle iconic trails most of us would never have the opportunity to experience except through reading about them. Stay tuned to the end because there are some additional books you won’t want to miss finding out about from my guest author, Jackie Parry.
The first, Free Country, A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain, is by George Mahmood. George and his buddy set off only in their underpants (the British Union Jack pattern makes an eye-catching cover, y’all) to prove that A) Brits have a dry, hilarious and often unexpected sense of humor, and B) their fellow countrymen can be willing to go along with even the most off-beat requests, such as offering up a spare pair of trousers, a bicycle and/or some hot pub grub. “Tricycle with that cup of tea, fella?” Yes, this is NOT a hike I’d recommend to just everyone, especially with the bare, and I do mean bare…minimum. But George and Ben, who set out to cycle the “End to End”, from England’s Land’s End to John O’Groats in Scotland, accomplished it. So toss off your clothes and join the fellas, and I promise you won’t regret reading along.
A typical pub where George and Ben might have washed dishes in exchange for a meal. (They would have been wearing pants by now.)
Next is Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail, by Ben Montgomery.
I stumbled on, see what I did there… this gem that wasn’t written by Emma Gatewood herself, but compiled by Ben Montgomery in a page-turning recount of the first woman who walked the Appalachian Trail alone. He read her cryptic journal, postcards and letters and newspaper articles, and interviewed her children and grandchildren. He weaves in her early years, and wow, now I know why she sought solitude in the woods. Yikes.
Emma packed less than $200, a blanket, some bouillon cubes and a few other items. One day, Grandma Gatewood, as she was called by the media, got up one day, told her 11 kids she was “going for a walk,” and disappeared into the woods. She was eventually tracked down by some journalists who got wind of her…yeah…so she began sending postcards home to a not-so-surprised family because as you can surmise, they already knew she was built of some strong stuff. Well, you’ll have to read the rest for yourself. Like the part where she wears tennis shoes instead of hiking boots and sleeps on piles of leaves instead of sleeping bags. (“too heavy” she said) OMG. Just read this.
Only a few miles was this well-groomed when Emma walked the ACT. An article she’d read made it sound like this was what she could expect. Not. That’s why they say she saved the ACT. Her journey led to a huge overhaul for which we can all thank her.
In case you missed it, Bill Bryson’s iconic, A Walk in the Woods is a hilarious and honest account of his time on the ACT. Now a movie starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, we have many ways to armchair experience this hike on steroids.
And the final one, and most HIGHLY RECOMMENDED book of this trifecta is:
A Standard Journey, 5 Horses, 2 People and 1 Tent, by Jackie Parry, who along with husband Noel, adopted, trained and conditioned five former race horses to ride the Australian Bicentennial Trail.
A Standard Journey is more than a story of a couple adopting horses and deciding to tackle the Australian bush, it shows how we continue to discover new strengths in each other through the most dire circumstances.
Strength, determination. Yep, it’s all there. I’m the MOST excited about this one because, as you know, I grew up riding, and would have given my first bridle to go on this trip with Jackie and her husband Noel. I was so fascinated when I finished that I immediately contacted Jackie and asked her if she could stop by and visit with us, as she’s quite busy and already off on another madcap adventure, of which I’ll let her tell you about in a bit. This isn’t her first book and she promises me it is NOT her last, because she is not only out there killing it, guys, she’s a terrific writer.
Everyone, I’d like you to meet Jackie! (from here, Bev’s comments in red)
Jackie Parry, tacked, packed and mounted up, ready for Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail. “Be an encourager, there are far too many critics in the world already.” JP
What’s your latest news, and how has the book been received?
It’s all happening at once. I released A Standard Journey in June, and I’m thrilled to be sharing it with readers worldwide.
I donate 50% of my profits from this book to horse/animal charities, but more importantly large charity organisations around the world are buying up my book (at a reduced rate) in order to sell at fund-raisers.
All “the boys” as Jackie calls them, were former Standard Bred race horses, which had to be retrained for packing and trail riding.
Win-win! Who will enjoy this book?
This story will resonate with anyone who enjoys reading about ordinary people achieving truly extraordinary things, it’s also for adventurers (whether armchair or not!), and animal lovers too.
There’s plenty of humour and humbleness in there too, I’ve written it with searing honesty, and pull no punches when it comes to talking about the mistakes we made.
Hey, I resemble that armchair adventure remark! What are some favourite lines?
“We won’t even have a sink!’ I said, clutching the metal sides of our kitchen basin lovingly.”
‘That’s okay, we’ll use a billabong.’ My bearded bush-husband said.
“Are you kidding?’ said Noel. ‘You want me to take on a horse called Psycho Stevie?”
L-R: Spirit, Dom, Stevie, Charlie and Ned. (and Noel astride…Stevie the Pyscho?)
“I waded in, knowing I was in danger, if Dom panicked I’d end up under him. But that didn’t stop me. I grabbed his head and tugged his nose out of the water so he didn’t drown.”
That’s trust. Or exhaustion. Both?
“My scared boy was no longer a coward, he was leader.”
The boys ready for the trail.
How long did it take you to write ASJ?
I took many notes during the journey – horrid, scribbled, shaky notes. I managed to decipher these, and I suppose all up it took about a year to put together into a coherent story. I wanted to craft the story just right – as perfect as I could get it. Horses are a great passion of mine, the boys in the story won my heart, and this story is incredibly important to me.
The boys had frequent vet checks and the best of care along the way, as you can tell by how sleek they were.
How would you describe your writing style?
Honesty is my first thought. I don’t think about it too much, how I write is who I am, ie how I sound every day. There’s no pretense. I like to show the good and the bad, and reveal who I am – warts and all! I think we all have our own demons and mine are readily revealed! I find the line between sanity and insanity is a fine one. Not everyone will admit that.
Tell us what else you’ve written and what’s in the future.
Of Foreign Build – From Corporate Girl to Sea-Gypsy Woman was launched at the end of last year and I am incredibly proud of how well it is doing and the wonderful reviews. My story has won the 5* Readers’ Favourite Award and many excellent write ups in international magazines. This is the story of losing one man and falling for another, while trying to figure out who I am, and sailing around the world.
Cruisers’ AA (Accumulated Acumen) was the first book I published(with my husband Noel). It is for anyone who wants to set sail – runaway – live on a boat; or, indeed, if you are already cruising and want to learn more. It covers every aspect of living on a boat, from health, to beauty, to maintenance, to pirates, to navigation…..
Next: The title is still to be determined: After we sailed around the world on our thirty-three foot boat, and before the horse-trail riding, Noel and I purchased a sailboat in America. We wanted to experience the bejewelled Pacific Ocean again. This time we sailed further south to Easter Island, Pitcairn, The Gambiers, etc. It should have been an easier trip in a bigger boat, and with many miles experience under our belts. Instead the oceans were a struggle, and tested our fortitude. I had one of my most terrifying nights on that trip and many struggles to overcome.
Here’s Jackie in front of a canal boat she and Noel recently refurbished. OK, now we want to read about THAT.
What’s great about being an author?
Connecting with like-minded people; the readers who have made contact, are amazing. My first memoir, Of Foreign Build has inspired so many people to write to me with beautiful letters about their lives and experiences. My story has helped many people too, and it’s wonderful to hear about it.
Of Foreign Build is a deeply personal story about life in general and how to survive it, and steer the path you want – that resonates with a lot of people. I love hearing from readers.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing at school. Yes, we had to, but I loved it! During my ‘office-based-career’, I helped put together the corporate magazine. When Noel and I were sailing I wrote thousands of articles for magazines and naturally progressed into books. Being an ordinary woman who’s living an extraordinary life inspired me. Plus, I just can’t seem to stop writing.
What books have most influenced your life most?
A Fortunate Life by Albert Facey and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, not just because of their titles. (Note the similarities to mine!) I study books as I read them. These two books influenced my writing career. I learned from these authors, writing does not need to be flowery and tricky – it needs to be concise and clever.
What book are you reading now?
A Capable and Wide Revenge by Glen Barrera; it is leaving me short of breath, so much happens. Not only is it a thrilling read it is smart writing too. He has characters you are happy to invest in, scenes which are as vivid as if they are playing out in front of you.
Are there any new authors that have your interest?
Mark Fine, author of The Zebra Affaire, an incredible story of a thrilling fusion of suspense and romance in exotic, yet brutal apartheid South Africa.
Rachel Amphlett, she’s on her fourth or fifth book now, I recently read her latest Mistake Creek, it kept me up all night, completely breathless!
Val Poore has written Harbour Ways and African Ways amongst others, I have read one of her books and can’t wait to read more.
Rochelle Carlton caught my eye with a beautiful romantic story set in New Zealand. Romance isn’t my usual choice, but this book is so beautifully written I couldn’t put it down.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep at it. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it. It is a marathon not a sprint and the entire process will take longer than you think. Try to write every day, if you can’t then read, learn, research (that part never ends!). Remember too, once you have published your book, you then have to learn to become a marketing professional! People won’t buy your book unless they know about it.
Anything else to share with you readers before you have to go?
Thanks for all your support, it is amazing and so appreciated. Please do write (contact information is below) and tell me what you think. Can I help you? Let me know, I am happy to discuss marketing, writing, life!
Also, take a look at the links there to photo albums of our travels on the horses and on board our boats. Plus all the goodies from Cruisers’ AA on navigation etc.
Jackie it’s been so much fun, thanks for visiting. Your projects and words of encouragement are so inspiring. I hope you keep entertaining us and seeking new adventures. You’ve definitely inspired me, and expanded my TBR list, that’s for sure! I hope you’ll visit again when the next book is published.
Addicted to travel, adventure and writing, Jackie doesn’t sit still for very long. Originally from the UK she is now an ‘adopted’ Australian. She’s sailed around the world one and a half times and trekked in the bush with five rescued horses for several months. She has also trained to become a professional maritime captain and teacher. Currently she is exploring the European canals on a 1920s Dutch barge with her Australian husband, Noel. She’s written about her sailing and horse trekking escapades, and there is still more to come. Jackie donates 50% of proceeds from her horse trekking book A Standard Journey – 5 horses, 2 people, and 1 tent, to help rescue more horses.
Contact information to Jackie Parry links to her books and blog.
Author blog: www.jackieparry.com
Travel blog: www.noelandjackiesjourneys.com
Horse Charity/Donations: http://helpinghandforhorses.weebly.com/
Amazon book links
A StandardJourney: http://geni.us/1j9w
Of Foreign Build: http://geni.us/ipq
Cruisers’ AA (accumulated acumen) – http://geni.us/3sKJ
Full photo album of A Standard Journey: http://goo.gl/1QgMp2
Full photo album of Of Foreign Build: http://jackieparry.com/of-foreign-build-photo-album/
Full photo album of Cruisers’AA: http://jackieparry.com/pics/