A Blonde Bengali Wife

A Blonde Bengali Wife
Travels in Bangladesh

We've Nearly Made It

Hello and Welcome!

Here is everything you
need to know about the progress of A Blonde Bengali Wife, the travel
book I've written about my love-affair with the fabulous country of

It's a blog about Bangladesh, about Bhola, and about fiction
and creative writing in general...

A Blonde Bengali Wife was
first published in September 2010 and launched in October 2010.


The re-launch
of A Blonde Bengali Wife is coming soon - due for November

Follow it on Twitter: @annehamilton7

and Goodreads

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Oscars: 'A Blonde Bengali Wife' Style

Remember the old saying that a shoemaker's child is never well-shod? I am guilty of that this month: so busy writing elsewhere about A Blonde Bengali Wife, I've neglected my dear old blog! Then again, said blog has always been more of an on-line diary than an interactive and dynamic example of social media. Following the last couple of weeks where I've been 'appearing' on blogs that are outstanding, I'm quite tempted to revert to the old TV programme and suggest you leave here and 'Why Don't You... Go and do something less boring instead...?'

But first -

Before you go, do read on and find out how the new, re-edited A Blonde Bengali Wife became an Amazon Kindle eBook Bestseller (just rolls off the tongue) in ALL the categories in which it's marketed (UK and dotcom) and even hit #1 in the UK's World Literature/Asia. It's hovering just below there as I write...

In case anyone on the planet missed it, A Blonde Bengali Wife was re-released as an eBook on Tuesday 3rd November.  It really did feel like a real launch and it was exciting to watch the Twitter and Facebook posts and responses as readers very kindly pre-ordered and then bought the book. In fact the entire process of marketing and self-promotion, something I was dreading, has been interesting and - dare I say it? - enjoyable.  I had an image of both Twitter and FB being akin to a heaving, thrusting stock exchange, full of arrogant experts yelling, 'hey, look at me, you insignificant little newbie'. Actually, it's been like having a host of personal shoppers in a huge department store,  saying, 'welcome - let's see how we can help you make the best of yourself'.

I want to thank everyone who has supported this whole effort (and I do realise the re-launch is just the beginning) in whatever capacity from Liking and Sharing posts to parting with hard cash and writing reviews - and letting me revert to my original role as complete 'Bangla-bore'. The members of Book Connectors, a group on Facebook could not have been more helpful, and the various PhD groups I'm part of have shown extreme patience - given this has nothing to do with my PhD.

The guest blog posts I've had have been wonderful (more to come, too!) and worth checking out far beyond my feature:

A Writer's Blog - kendraolson.wordpress.com (Kendra)
Englanti Editing - englantiediting.com (Adrian)
Finding Destiny - katrinamarie25.wordpress.com (Katie)
Linda's Book Bag - lindasbookbag.com (Linda)
Sincerely Book Angels - sincerelybookangels.blogspot.com (Annette)

There are also the lovely reviews on Goodreads and Amazon UK - thank you, all. (If I try to name you all it will turn into the Oscars and I will inadvertently miss (or misspell) someone...

And then, the three people who can't be thanked often enough - each time more sincerely than the last - whom are real friends:

Claire Morley - www.myepublishbook.com
Alison Drew - www.alithedragonslayer.co.uk
Marie Campbell - @mariecampbell72

Three in a million! (And it's worth adding, that neither Claire nor Marie, who get paid to do eBook self-publishing and proofreading respectively, took any payment for their expert help).

I'm proud of A Blonde Bengali Wife (with whatever flaws she still has) but most of all, I'm proud of the book being linked to Bhola's Children. Thanks, again, to everybody, on mine and on their, behalf.

Please support Bhola's Children by reading A Blonde Bengali Wife  available here:



Thursday, 1 October 2015

Second Life For Bengali Wife

A Blonde Bengali Wife, the book and the blog, are now five years old (the story, of course, goes way back to 2002). This means that my initial contract with the publishers, LL-Publications is up, which coincides with their relocation to the USA, and my literary agent, Dinah Wiener, is now semi-retired (though remains as active as ever with Bhola's Children).  The book has, therefore, been out of print since June, but I've finished my PhD - yes, passed the viva and still haven't tired of the joke 'there's a doctor in the house' - so theoretically I have some free time.

Could there ever be a better time to step back, take stock, and decide the future of it all?  Does A Blonde Bengali Wife fade gracefully away, her job done? Or does she get a second lease of life? As the author, I don't want to see her go; I love her, warts (aka typos, unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, poor formatting and self-indulgent paragraphs) and all. But objectively, does she still have an audience beyond me?

Yes, she does. Over the past five years, sales have been more tortoise than hare; never going to break any records, but steady, with eBook sales slowly increasing over hard copy, and the royalties all go to Bhola's Children. And, hands up, this is with my non-existent promotional work  - I had a baby the week of publication and never got back on the book-tracks. Still, reviews have been 5 star, and I have had, and still receive, enthusiastic messages from unknown readers all over the world. Their comments, and my own ongoing relationship with Bangladesh - I've been back at least  a dozen times since that first visit - suggest that the book might be set in 2002 but the place I wrote about then remains very much in existence now.

So, the sensible decision, surely, is to e-publish a reprint (getting rid of the warts but not changing the character). The excellent local publisher, Pilrig Press, were willing to do it, and I, as author, was ready to grab the deal and run.  Until the writing professional in me realised that more and more of my consultancy and editing clients were intending to go the self-publishing route.  Wouldn't it be sensible to have the experience of e-publishing in the same way I have of the traditional search for an agent?  The problem is, that involves all the formatting, placement, marketing, promotional 'stuff' that I really don't understand - or much like.

Step in Claire Morley.  If you recognise the name, she's author of the Amazon Kindle bestseller, Tindog Tacloban, which I recommended in my September blog. Claire learned all that 'stuff', enjoyed it and found she is good at it.  She realised there are many writers, like me, who would pay her to help them; I knew she was on to something when she made me feel enthusiastic about tackling all the 'stuff'. The result is Claire's online company, My ePublish Book www.myepublishbook.com  (see the tab above, also).

We're going to be blogging about our joint experience of e-publishing A Blonde Bengali Wife, using it as a case study to demonstrate the process. And, together with professional proof-reader, Marie Campbell (more about Marie another time), we'll be able to offer three independent services 'under one umbrella' via the links on our individual websites.

It's new, it's exciting, and we're aiming for a re-publication date of early November.

Meantime, I'm editing, and I'm still working on building up the Facebook page (tab above) and my Twitter account @AnneHamilton7.  I'm looking for reviewers, and bloggers willing to offer me an interview/guest spot - and as you'll have gathered, I am very much playing with the aesthetics of this blog (See? This is why I need help with 'stuff').

I'm also selling the remaining hard copies of A Blonde Bengali Wife for http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us/emergencies/child-refugee-crisis-appeal

I'd love to hear your thoughts... Please get in touch... And watch this space!

Anne x


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Post-Highbrow Daze (PhD)

The end of the Edinburgh Festival, the search for new school wellies, and the constant nagging feeling that I really must get the boiler fixed...clockwork symptoms that the end of summer ('summer' if you've spent a lot of it in Scotland or Ireland) is nigh.

It's been the first summer in five years that I haven't been working on my PhD and (poor title to this post notwithstanding; at the very least it should read 'the-lower-but-hopefully-adequate-end-of-highbrow)** it has gone by in something of a daze. I am delighted that it's given me time to read some gems of non-PhD related fiction, the absolute best being 'The Days the Crayons Quit' and its sequel 'The Day the Crayons Came Home', both written by Drew Daywelt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffries.  Seriously - look out for them; I promise equal appeal for 5 and 45 year-olds.

And, even better, it has given me time to spend on Claire Morley's debut novel 'Tindog Tacloban' published TODAY as an ebook from Amazon  It's engaging, its heartfelt, and there are chapters that still find me reading as fast as I can with my muscles clenched, rooting for 11 year old, Lika Faye...

Right now though, I feel like a throw-back to the dark days of primary school; spending too much time hoping people will Like Me and Follow Me... I'm sure I'll soon make sense of Twitter (@AnneHamilton7 please follow me - I might be spurred into doing things worth following) and revive the somewhat dormant Facebook page for 'A Blonde Bengali Wife' (https://www.facebook.com/ablondebengaliwife please Like It - there is a reprint coming; more on that next month).

But back to the PhD.  People are asking me about it and I can almost face looking at it again, if not describing it.  So, here for better or worse is the Abstract - make of it what you will but if you mention it to me, I don't expect comprehension but please fake enthusiasm...  I promise to Follow you and Like you!

Anne x

**I'll let you know after the viva.

A World of Their Own? The Novel and the Total Institution comprises an exploration of the sociological concept of the Total Institution with particular reference to its relationship with English literature, followed by the presentation of Chasing Elena, an original novel. The term ‘Total Institution’, attributed to Erving Goffman (1961), encapsulates an environment in which a large number of individuals participate in an enclosed and formally administered way of life. Chapter 1 of the critical text defines the Total Institution and sets the scene for Chapter 2 which examines selected literary texts that feature life in all-encompassing institutions and considers Goffman’s ‘moral career of the inmate’ in terms of the experiences of the fictional characters.  Chapter 3 is a literature review that reflects upon Goffman’s work and expands the model and metaphor of the Total Institution.  It includes my original interpretation, called here the ‘New Total Institution’.  Chapter 4 offers a close reading of contemporary literary texts in which this new interpretation is examined for strength and sustainability when applied to a belief system, a social structure and an isolated physical environment. Chapter 5 considers the relevance of the (New) Total Institution, initially, in terms of the family. It then highlights specific groups of people who live in constrained and constraining circumstances: those affected by domestic abuse and displaced persons such as refugees, respectively. Chapter 6 turns to the (New) Total Institution and the novel, looking at writing styles and techniques, the experience of the writer and the reader, and the voice of the child as protagonist/narrator. Epilogue describes the ways in which the (New) Total Institution has informed the writing of Chasing Elena. Following the epilogue, this novel is then presented in its entirety.


Sunday, 2 August 2015

Cool For Summer

Since this is the first summer in five years that I've not had a PhD to write, I've taken to reading on the various planes, trains and automobiles across America - and the Kindle has finally come into its own. 

I've been editing and proof-reading some more very good novels-in-progress (watch this space) and one that's out and about right now is Victoria Murray's debut 'Live Hate Die'.  Vicky has chosen to go the self-published e-book route in order to get the finished novel out there as soon as possible.  Take a look at the link:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Live-Hate-Die-Victoria-Murray-ebook

Vicky's book has challenged a lot of my preconceptions about certain genres!  It's the story of Jake Devlin, lead singer in an up-and-coming heavy metal band.  He just happens to be haunted by a ghost (a real one, not a metaphorical one) from his troubled past and when paranormal investigator, Tayla MacRae, sets out to help him, things get complicated...  Essentially, Live Hate Die (the name of Jake's group) is a horror novel, and I know lots of people like me, who would simply say they don't read horror.  Well, I did read it.  And I'm glad I did. Good plot, good characterisation, good writing.  And I'm sure Vicky won't mind if you read the end through half-closed eyes...!

Also highly recommended, is Marianne Wheeleghan's second crime novel.   In 'The Shoeshine Killer', DS Louisa Townsend has moved from Edinburgh to work for the Kiribati Police Service on Tarawa, a remote coral island in the Pacific Ocean.  Locally, she is known as the Scottish Detective Lady....  Marianne owns the hugely successful Writing School www.writingclasses.co.uk and still has time to write!  More at: http://www.mariannewheelaghan.co.uk/ 
Finally, remaining in crime mode, take a look at SJI Holliday's 'Black Wood'.  Wonderfully reviewed by fellow writer, Kendra Olson, in Lothian Life (www.lothianlife.co.uk) it's set in a fictional location that locals amongst you might recognise as Haddington.  It's Susie's debut and it is gripping. Visit: https://www.sjiholliday.com 
When I've managed to put these novels down, I've been tweeting.  Sort of.  The chance to pitch my own novel to Curtis Brown Creative (leading literary agents) at #PitchCB gave me the impetus to activate my Twitter account only four years after I set it up... and it diverted me from that mode of torture that all fiction-writers face at some point: The Synopsis.  Yes, folks, to all of you whose synopses I have pulled apart, cluttered with DYN?s and grudgingly 'approved', it's payback time.  It's hard.  It's really hard. Really, really hard. 
Maybe I should post mine up here and let you all at it with a red pen...
I hope August brings you all a beautiful month of summer
Anne x

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

It's Bhola Time

Photo time

Play time

Time to laugh

Girl time

Time to phone home

Boy time

More time to play

Bed time

Anne x


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

One Hundred Not Out!

I began this blog in the summer of 2010, a lead-up to the publication of A Blonde Bengali Wife (and, as it happens, the birth of my little boy, Simon).  'Time flies' is a cliché and feels so wrong during those more challenging days/weeks/months - when it all but stands still - but looking back over the last five years, I am certainly joining that middle-aged (no...never...help!) chorus of wondering where the years have gone?

We're often poor at concentrating more on what we haven't done rather than what we have. During my Family Group Conference work (a whole other story) I learned and taught that listing the positives in a situation is not only vital to present well-being and future planning, but that's it often very surprising - and affirming.  Do it, and it's likely you've achieved far more than you thought, and okay, they might be small things (getting the baby bathed before you and he fall asleep, writing a regular, brief, blog post) or ones that don't feel very central to your main goal of  world domination, but hey - you've still achieved them: reflect and celebrate!

So - timely in this the 100th blog post - what have I actually done over the last five years?  I have a beautiful, spirited, adorable and maddening son... and we still, on average, laugh more than we cry. I've seen A Blonde Bengali Wife published, and selling. I've finished and submitted my PhD ( yes, really - for those of you snorting in disbelief ). I'm a Trustee of a very special charity in Bhola's Children, and have had the privilege of several visits back to Bangladesh (and some other great countries) I've met some talented and fascinating writers who have allowed me to work on their novels with them, and am subsequently watching their many successes.  I've taken on the editorship of local on-line magazine, Lothian Life...

I'm stopping there.  It's turning equally into a living obituary and the type of acknowledgements page where the author thanks everyone from their dog to their chosen deity and still misses someone out.  And it also means that at least six more people are going to ask me, 'What Next?' to which the answer is, for the present, 'more of the same'.  Why change what I love... until something else I'll love comes along!

One thing I would like to say, though, is a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has helped me (and Simon) get this far.  I'm a writer without the words to describe the importance of family and friends but hopefully you know who you are and what you mean to us (even when we drive you mad).  And, when I make it rich and famous, I'll remember you, okay?  Hmm, maybe that's the next five year plan...

Anne x

PS Go on, write your own list of achievements big and small.  I dare you...


Sunday, 17 May 2015

News From Bhola

I'm late writing this month... for many reasons but the most important one being, I wanted to be able to pass on accurate and honest news from Bhola.  Things have been difficult; they are emerging into a new chapter of strength and positivity - and most importantly the children are thriving!  I'm posting Dinah, our Chief Trustee's, letter in full; it's long, it's shocking, but please read to the end... and hopefully, stay with Bhola's Children...


Dear friends,

I know many of you have wondered at the lack of any report following my visit with Freda in February.   Now, after a worrying time, I can send you our official report on the situation in Bhola. 
We are immensely proud of how much we have achieved with your help for the children of Bhola, an island of two million people where poverty and lack of proper hospital facilities led to high rates of disability which brings stigma to the whole family. Eight years ago, Ali, the Director of the home and school, was going round the villages on his bicycle searching for disabled children and then with difficulty persuading the family to let him help. Now we have the land, buildings, facilities and staff to cater for up to 100 children. Most importantly, we have built up local support for the project so that families, the authorities and other charities bring children to us. From the District Commissioner down the authorities welcome us and we have well-respected locals on the managing committee there who have the management skills to ensure the funds we provide are well spent in the interests of the children and the influence to promote the project’s aims.
At the start Ali was in charge of everything but as the project grew and he grew older it was clear we had to reduce the burden on him and plan for his succession. It has taken some time to find suitable candidates but over the last year we have appointed a new Director and Deputy Director whom we are confident can take the project forward.
It is, therefore, with great sadness that we have to announce the termination of Ali’s involvement with the project when we had been hoping that the project would continue to benefit from the knowledge and skills he had acquired over a lifetime of work with disabled children. Unfortunately Ali was recently charged with inappropriate behaviour with a vulnerable adult.  We immediately suspended him and barred him from the premises. Then, after exhaustive investigations by ourselves and the police, we felt we had no option but to terminate his involvement. [The police are not considering charging Ali with offences against any child or other adult.]
We reported the situation in detail to the UK Charity Commission and yesterday, to our great relief, they reported themselves satisfied with the actions taken in response to the incident.
As we say, this is a sad day but every such day has a silver lining. Ali was always reluctant to cede control and we can now move forward faster with necessary changes that will make the project permanently sustainable and no longer dependent on one very gifted but, as we now see, flawed individual.   As I mentioned in earlier emails, we were fortunate that Zakirul Haque, whom I met some five years ago and tried to persuade to join us, was between jobs and agreed to be an interim director until we found a replacement for Ali.  He has now agreed to a permanent position, which is a cause for great celebration. We continue to have the full support of the local community,   and we are happy to confirm that new children are still arriving at the same rate as before the story broke.   Five new children have recently arrived, including the youngest of three deaf brothers whose photograph is attached. Ahsanullah and Supian have been with us for many years, and I look forward to meeting little Saiful on my next visit.
I am therefore able to write to you confident that we can move ahead under an excellent new Director, supported by the community and managed by a local Committee whom we trust, and who have the children’s interests at heart.
We are grateful for your help to date and we very much hope you will continue to support us for the future.
Very Best Wishes and thanks from us all

Next time - photos and news of the new students and forthcoming plans.  Meantime,  your comments and responses (whatever they are) are all very welcome.

Anne x