Good morning! Todays Sunday Spotlight superstar is Jill Pennington! I’m sure you all have lots of insightful questions for her. Maybe we should keep the wine unopened until the afternoon?
Jill Pennington: Too late! It’s wine o’clock somewhere.
Anne Wine O’clock Durrant: Morning Jill – bit early for me – but will partake of a drop this afternoon, Just off for a shower and will think of some questions for you. Have a lovely Spotlight x
Jill Pennington: Thanks Anne.
Fiona Kate: Just finished the book, are you still a single parent ?
Jill Pennington: Hi Fiona, Thanks for the question, yes I am, though only one left at home now. I have three children in three different countries at the moment.
Janet Hughes: Hi Jill, I Loved your book, and admired your tenacity, I think that I might have rolled over and played dead long ago. I don’t drink, maybe that’s my problem. So… when’s the new book coming (if you have time to write with everything going off in your life!).
Jill Pennington: I hope to get another book out this year but am currently spending all my spare time trying to set up a new business. I have a lot of land so am starting a ‘Glampsite’ (Glamour camping) and this is taking up most of my time at the moment.
Janet Hughes: Sounds exciting, got any photos?
Jill Pennington: Still on the building/converting stage, but there is a FB page with the progress. I am doing all the work myself using recycled materials so not an overnight job. – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Goat-Cottage/588597357889916
Tottie Limejuice: That sounds like a big and exciting project! Got any bookings yet?
Jill Pennington: Yes within 24 hours of the FB page being live I had 2 definite and 3 potential, so i need to get it finished.
Charlotte Smith: Morning Jill I loved your book and am also looking forward to more. Do you have any contact with your ex these days?
Jill Pennington: Hi Charlotte, Not if I can help it, he has not been part of my life for a long time. The children are all old enough now to sort their own contact with him.
Charlotte Smith: I’m a great believer in Karma and when you visit the Karma cafe I guarantee that you will be offered a much nicer menu than your ex! Your children must be so proud of you
Julie Haigh: Hi Jill-greetings from Huddersfield! I loved your book. The question’s already been asked about a next book so I look forward to that but I wanted to ask you whether you thought you would ever try your hand at writing a novel?
Jill Pennington: Hi Julie, I would love to do fiction, but again it’s finding time. One day I will have some.
Natalie Smith: Hi Jill, I hear you were interviewed by the media, what was that all about? Will we see that published?
Amanda Read: Would you do it all again?!
Jill Pennington: Charlotte, someone asked my 15 year old daughter last week who in the world she admired the most and she replied ‘My mum’ It nearly had me in tears, I was so happy.
Charlotte Smith: There you go then. That proved my point!
Jill Pennington: Yes Amanda, if things had happened any differently then I would not be in Italy now. Though I may have blocked the bank account!
Julie Haigh: That’s great. Congratulations on your book anyway and all the best with your glampsite!
Jill Pennington: Hi Natalie, yes The Daily Mail flew a photographer out to Italy last month and I had loads of photos done, they did an interview and it should be out this month, it has been put on hold as there is a pending court case that has to pass before they publish.
Natalie Smith: Wow that should be fantastic for you. Help to generate a bit more income. I look forward to reading it, I may even have to book into Goat Cottage.
Charlotte Smith: Haha. I bet the ex is quaking in his boots about that article!
Jill Pennington: Yes, I was published in the Huddersfield Examiner after learning how to do a professional press release, and he was a little bit annoyed about that. But the DM contacted him for ‘right to reply’ and I believe he was ever so slightly angry and might have done some naughty swearing.
–But I think they actually want to name and shame him with a photo so I suppose he will be a bit upset..shame!
Amanda Read: Thanks Jill, your strength amazed me throughout your book. You are where you’re meant to be and despite the actions of a so called “man” you succeeded.
Charlotte Smith: My heart is bleeding for him!
Jill Pennington: Thanks Amanda. Happiness is the best revenge.
–I have three happy, healthy kids who love and respect me, so it all worked out in the end.
Charlotte Smith: Have your ex’s family ever given you or your children any moral support?
Jill Pennington: His mum kept in touch, but people move on, and this man changes his women every few years so they have to keep up.
Charlotte Smith: Must be exhausting for them!
Tottie Limejuice: How did you manage to land a DM interview like that?
Phil Cowman: Loved your book Jill, you are some Woman to come through all that Shite…..Smiling….Do your Children have a lot of time for their Dad, is he good to them?
Jill Pennington: Well Tottie, after reading a very good book on how to do a press release – written by a very dear friend of mine. I approached my local paper and they did an article on me. Shortly after that I was contacted by the biggest press agency in the UK and offered money to sell my story to the big guys.
–Hi Phil, All my kids love their father, though I am not sure any of them have respect for him. They are all adults now, they lived it, they know how he is/what he is they make their own minds up. One day they may be parents themselves and that will be when they make their judgement.
Louise Fenton: I haven’t read your book yet but I’m sure going to get it on my Kindle! I love reading how others have got on with their move etc… You sound like an amazing lady!
Jill Pennington: Thanks Louise, despite the negative stuff the book is very funny, it is more about the life in Italy than the divorce.
Louise Fenton: Sounds great! I’ve just finished one of Victoria’s books and now need to get the next so I can keep up!
Jill Pennington: The DM article could potentially get me a lot of new sales so am really looking forward to that, and any other writers interested once you know ‘how to’ then you open up all kind of possibilities. This is the book that got me started – well worth a read. – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Press-Releases…/dp/B00HPX50XW/
–Right I am going to get dressed, don’t look.
Craig Briggs: Good morning Jill! What prompted you to write your book in the first place?
Jill Pennington: I have always been a writer, I have always recorded life events. I thought everybody did it. But apparently not, I got a funny look off the midwife when I said here hold that (my newborn son) and pass me a pen and paper. But it’s just something I have always done.
–One night I was on an expat forum and spilled my heart out about the marriage break-up and a number of people said despite the situation my posts were funny, so suggested I turn it into a book. I spent the next few years tweaking it and rewriting it and eventually decided to publish.
Craig Briggs: Why did you decide to go down the self publishing route?
Jill Pennington: I had one publisher who was interested and the book went back and forth a few times but in the end she didn’t like the diary format and for me, I couldn’t see it working any other way. I was offered another deal from a publisher after I self pub’d, but I am pretty good at marketing and when i asked what they could offer in that dept, they didn’t really give me anything so I just stuck with self and it’s going ok, I have over 100 good review on UK Amazon and it’s still selling so i am happy.
–There is no point giving half the profits to a publisher if they can not sell more than you can sell yourself, they have to earn it and a lot of the little outfits are just not up to the job.
Craig Briggs: What has been the best part of your self publishing journey?
Jill Pennington; Getting a big fat cheque every month
–Well not that big or fat, but it always helps however much I get.
–I enjoy writing and I enjoy interacting with people who have read my book, I am always surprised by how many people get in touch after they have read it. It is really nice that people do this.
Craig Briggs: What has been the worst part of your self publishing journey?
Jill Pennington: Trying to keep it live. After I published the book my ex took legal action and Amazon Uk removed the book from sale until the dispute was resolved, this obviously had a huge impact as the UK was my biggest market. So when I got back up I had to start again with the marketing.
Craig Briggs: When did you first publish The Diary of a Single Parent Abroad?
Jill Pennington: The English version in the summer of 2012, then I had it translated into Italian and published over here in the summer of 2013.
Craig Briggs: What marketing campaign are you most proud of and, if different, what has been your most successful?
Jill Pennington: Er, well any sales are welcomed. Over here I can do promos and presentations in person and I always sell every book I take and come home with phone numbers and orders. But in the UK/US/elsewhere I have to sell on the internet. Doing special price promos at the right time, like Christmas when people get kindles as presents, that worked well. But I can’t pinpoint any one thing that boosted my sales more than another, apart from of course the press interviews, they certainly bring in the sales.
–After the Huddersfield Examiner article I sold loads of downloads overnight and the sales kept coming for the next couple of weeks.
Craig Briggs: You sound very organised and focused.
Tottie Limejuice: Would you say that the quality of the book is also important, in terms of sales? Sounds an obvious question but I think you would agree there were some major editing issues in your first edition (now corrected) but your readers loved the book so much they were forgiving. But might they be less so of a book which was not good to begin with?
Jill Pennington: Haha, don’t know about that, but I need the sales to survive, since I published my ex has refused to support our daughter financially and there is no benefit system in Italy, If I don’t earn I don’t eat. I have other income from odd jobs but need to keep selling the book.
Phil Cowman: Well that answers my Question…Is he good to the Children……….NO!!!
Craig Briggs: Where would you put 50 Shades on that list Tottie.
Jill Pennington: Yes Tottie, my first edition was pretty poor editing wise, being skint I didn’t stand a chance of getting a professional edit and being from Yorkshire obviously I don’t speak English so it needed work. But I have been lucky that the story itself kept the review coming in. Hopefully now it’s been ‘treated’ it will be appreciated even more.
Craig Briggs: I think we speak right proper Jill.
Jill Pennington: That we do lad, that we do
Anne Wine O’clock Durrant: Some of my best friends are Yorkies – love to hear them speak.
Jill Pennington: Nowt wrong wi Yorkshire folk, it’s t’other buggers you need to watch.
Julie Haigh: Aye, me an all!
Craig Briggs: With hindsight Jill would you have done anything different regarding the book?
Jill Pennington: I admit I struggle with italian because I am from Yorkshire. Yorkshire speakers often ignore the end of the word, but in italian it is the end of the word that defines it, so I see the word, the brain says it, but the mouth doesn’t always deliver. I perceiver and I can live with it.
–If I had the funds I would have had a proper edit done a lot sooner, like before it was published. But that was never an option. I would also have translated sooner as I have sold loads over here, but again money and time hinder progress. I am happy with how it’s going so far.
–Phil, I don’t think he knows how to be decent, he has no conscience, but as I said the kids lived it so they will have their own memories. Millie messages him regularly asking for money and get fobbed off with excuses.
Craig Briggs: What’s the best piece of advice you could give any budding author?
Jill Pennington: Don’t give up the day job!
GreyGoose Gobble: Hi Jill! This is Monique in Charlotte, North Carolina. Luvvvvved your book…I wanted to kick your ex-hubby though…still do ! Anyway, how long, roughly, did it take you from start to publishing that first edition? Thx!
Janet Hughes: Bet you’re starving, what with all this chatting. Here’s lunch on Pancho and I. Approfittare!
Jill Pennington: Hi, I wrote it over a period of about 8 years, joined a writers site to get advice, started (not finished) a writing course, which also helped. But the more you look at it the more you change it so I just published it and hoped it would interest people.
–Looks lovely, I am doing roast duck tonight with morello cherry sauce.
Mark Bean: Hi Jill, so do you have to set aside writing time or is your family understanding and tolerant of the somewhat ephemeral nature of ideas and inspiration?
Craig Briggs: Before venturing into the world of Glampsite did you ever consider using your land to establish a vineyard?
GreyGoose Gobble: thx Jill!!
–not that u r asking me Craig Briggs, but i know i would drink my vineyard.
Craig Briggs: That’s the whole point Monique.
Jill Pennington: Mark, I just write when I feel like it, my kids have always been independent, so if I didn’t cook/clean/change the beds they would muck in and do stuff, but I only have one at home now so I find time to fit everything in or at least try.
–Craig, for a while I was in a relationship with an Italian and we started a business selling produce but I never considered a vineyard as there are plenty of well established ones already dotted around, I once tried to buy the one next door but the 80 something guy who owns it said he needed it!
Craig Briggs: Happen that’s why he’s lived so long Jill.
–What do you miss most about England Jill.
Jill Pennington: Just people really, I can get Cadburys/Tetley t-bags and other stuff I crave brought over when friends come out, but I do miss a few people who were part of my old life. Having said that I do still see them just not as often. I haven’t been back for two years but going over in April for a book fair in Manchester.
Natalie Smith: Sorry Jill, going back the media article. Would you have been able to have approached the media without the help of that person/book you mentioned? Also could this lead on to more articles or even tv appearances?
Jill Pennington: I did try to approach my local paper, but didn’t realise there was a right way to do it, I heard nothing from them but after learning how to do the press release I had a reply within 24 hours, so no I think I would not have got any further without the help.
–I am under contract at the moment but once the DM publish I can accept other media offers if there are any…
Natalie Smith: That’s fab! It’s nice you were able to get such help. Having read your book and knowing what a strong independent woman you are I imagine you struggle with accepting help at times. If anyone was to ever doubt that a single Mother living abroad could make it on their own I’d have to tell them to read your book.
Tottie Limejuice: Craig I think you’ll find the answer to all your questions in Jill’s book.
Jill Pennington: Thanks Natalie, I think single parents do what ever they can wherever they are.
–Oh tactful Tottie! in other words get it bought!
Craig Briggs: Perhaps not everyone has read it Tottie but I consider myself duly chastised.
Jill Pennington: Do you know Holmfirth Craig?
Craig Briggs: We lived in Crosland Moor Jill – Melanie’s granny lived in Holmfirth most of her life.
Jill Pennington: Oh my grandma lived at Crosland moor.
Craig Briggs: So did mine – Cartwright Gardens. – It’s a small world.
Charlotte Smith: Do you still consider yourself to be a through and through Yorkshire lass or are you more Italian now?
Jill Pennington: I think I am a Yorkshire lass until someone English visits and wants butter on their bread then I just think – how strange! I have become Italianised in many ways but no am still very English.
Charlotte Smith: Do you think you could every live in England again?
–Wine is very expensive there
Jill Pennington: I think I would find it very hard Charlotte, can’t see me ever going back, don’t even like visiting the place but I have to every two years or so.
Julie Haigh: Craig and Jill-And my grandparents lived at Crosland Moor too! Blackmoorfoot Road
Woofie Wotsit: I haven’t anything intelligent or thought provoking to ask you like the others, Jill. I just want to say that I really admire what you have done. Being a parent myself like others here, I know just how hard bringing up kids is! Kudos to you
Charlotte Smith I think it is terrific how you have carved out such an interesting life for yourself with so many difficulties to overcome. You are a true inspiration and I wish you all the luck in the world.
Fay Kearney: Hi Jill, just wondering, how’s the egg man?
Jill Pennington: Thanks Woofie. Julie my grandma lived in Blkmr ft rd too.
–Thanks Charlotte, every day is different but always something exciting happening.
Julie Haigh: Gosh, it is a small world!
Charlotte Smith: I think you prove that life is what you make it. May your glass always be at least half full!
Jill Pennington: Haha Fay, The egg man sent out the wrong signals and I misinterpreted them so that bus went passed my stop. Though the New Year brought other opportunities and I am as ever optimistic that I will recover from my virginity status.
Fay Kearney: Fingers crossed then Jill, we can’t have you seizing up! Where in Manchester will you be in April?
Jill Pennington: 26th April – book fair thingy all welcome – there will be wine!
Fay Kearney: My friend is only 20 minutes from Manchester, I’ll let her know x
Jill Pennington: Good the more the better, I’ll be selling my books and Tottie Limejuices ‘Sell the pig’ to put a bit of Europe into the Manx market!
Fay Kearney: I have recommended both your book and Tottie’s books to her but I’m not sure if she’s read them yet!! I do know however that she likes wine! Must pop off now, dinner has to be prepared! Lovely talking to you Jill, maybe catch you later x
Cherry Gregory: Hi Jill, sorry to be late (had my mum over for lunch) but I’ve just read your interesting interview so far. I’m about three-quarters of the way through your book and am very impressed as to how you’ve achieved all the things you did with an ex who was so difficult.
–And I look forward to seeing you at the Manchester Book Fair… I think your table will be the one with the queue round it. Are you really providing wine?
Julie Freed: Hi Jill – Great interview, loved your book, and hope the book keeps doing so well – Single moms rock!
Jill Pennington: Hi Cherry, I am not providing wine as such, but I will share a glass with a few special people, will be great to meet up with you. Looking forward to it.
–Thanks Julie, glad you liked the book.
Cherry Gregory: Will certainly seek you out at Manchester!
Jill Pennington Red or white Cherry?
Cherry Gregory: Red please!
Jill Pennington: Alan Parks, am I allowed to open a bottle now, it is Sunday after all?
–Could ‘dry’ of thirst waiting for an answer!
Charlotte Smith: Oh just do it Jill. It’s nearly 6.
–And you must be thirsty after all this chatting….
Julie Haigh: Definitely well past wine o’clock
Jill Pennington: Duck’s in the oven, though whoever plucked it should’ve tried harder, it was fluffier than my legs after 6 weeks of singledom.
–Pass the wine!
Sue Clamp: Hi Jill, sorry I’m a bit late. I’ve been babysitting my granddaughter while her heavily pregnant mum went to hospital to be monitored. Luckily, mum and baby are fine, so I’m here now for a little while. I was wondering if you’ve ever considered becoming “properly” Italian? You know, dual citizenship (Yorkshire and Italy!), two passports and all that stuff.
Jill Pennington: Clampy bird, glad you dropped in. Glad you could fit me in. I have been here 10 years in June so I think I am a proper citizen then anyway, but I have this back up plan of marrying a stallion one of these fine days. Though as you know I am still struggling to capture one and unattached him from his mothers umbilical.
Sue Clamp: Marrying? That’s going a bit far, isn’t it?
Jill Pennington: Well I’m getting on a bit now, if I don’t capture one soon and get him shackled to the bed post, I might end up with 15 cats and have to live a rumpy pumpy free existence.
Terry Bryan: That’s not really so bad…but one dog instead of the 15 cats…
Sue Clamp: Jill the Cat Lady? Nah, can’t see it happening! Have you written a job description for your stallion? Are there any qualities you would be willing to compromise on?
Jill Pennington: Already got two of them!
–Not fat, not married, not a smoker. that just about cover it. Oh and a bonus point if you mother has already moved on. Don’t need an Italian M.I.L!
Terry Bryan: I would like folks to know I didn’t read your book for quite some time, as I have little sympathy for women who rely on others to take care of them, then the folks on here kept talking about it, so I decided to give it a try…glad I did…well written and funny.
–I’m off to lunch…enjoy your wine.
Jill Pennington: Ooh I never relied on anyone to take care of me, but I did expect him to take care of his kids.
Charlotte Smith: Well I think Jill has shown that there is only one thing she actually needs a man for Terry Bryan!
Cherry Gregory: You give a strong feeling of Italy in your book, Jill. Out of all the positives of living there, what makes you feel most at home?
Jill Pennington: Suppose it reminds me a lot of Yorkshire as child, and I wanted my kids to have the same childhood, green fields, open spaces and a close community that looks out for people. The Uk has become quite a scary place and there is so much crime that kids don’t have the freedom that they used to have.
Cherry Gregory: Unfortunately the children here do seem to have a lot less freedom than my generation did. You did well to do something about it for your own children.
Jill Pennington: I think they had a good childhood here, no idea how it would’ve been over there but I am glad I did it.
Cherry Gregory: Do you have much time for reading? What type of books do you like?
Linda Kovic-Skow: Hi Jill Pennington. What a great interview. I popped over to your Facebook page for your Goat Cottage. It sounds lovely – good luck with that venture. Do you speak fluent Italian now? Was the language barrier a challenge at first? Do your children speak Italian?
Anne Wine O’clock Durrant: Cheers m’dears just having a lovely glass full of hot Mulled wine – need it – cos its blumin cold out there.
Jill Pennington: My kids were fluent in about 6 months, Millie was only 6 when we arrived to Italian is her 1st language, though she is fluent in English, she thinks in Italian and sleep talks in Italian. I don’t honestly think I will ever be fluent, they speak dialect on my mountain anyway, but I am good enough to survive.
Linda Kovic-Skow: Wow Jill Pennington. Sounds like you and your children have led a very interesting life. All the best to you in the future.
Jill Pennington: Thanks Linda, never boring here!
Anne Wine O’clock Durrant: I love the sound of Glamping – I am too old to be under canvas – I wish you all the luck in the world with it.
Jill Pennington: No canvas, proper wooden roof, ahem, once I have built it!
Anne Wine O’clock Durrant: I do admire you – tackle anything it seems – who needs a man:-)
Kate Pill: Loved reading all this. What a treat to catch up with what’s going on for an author whose books I’ve read. Thanks all and thanks Jill!
Jill Pennington: Thanks to everyone who joined in, if there are anymore questions I will catch up tomorrow.
Julie Haigh: Thanks Jill-entertaining, informative and fun sunday spotlight-I’ve got nowt done all day with keeping watch on the conversations! It’s high time I had a glass of wine now. Cheers!
Janet Hughes: Night night Jill, Thanks for answering all our questions, nosey lot aren’t we! Here’s a night cap just for you
Sue Clamp: Thanks, Jill! Great interview!
Chrissie Baxter: Hello, Jill. Sorry I’m late, but I have read every post in this thread and all of my questions have been answered! Just want to say – my menfolk and I have had a rather interesting time of it throughout our (coming) 7 years in France, so I do have just a little idea of how things have been for you and yours. My hat is off to you – and, I haven’t yet finished reading your book! But, I will! I sincerely wish you every success with everything you do, you truly deserve peace, success and unconditional happiness.
Terry Bryan: I’m sorry I had to leave, as I think I gave people the wrong impression…I meant before I read your book I had one idea, and after a very different idea. I very much admire your spirit, pluck, or whatever you would like to call it. You’ve done some wonderful things and you seem upbeat and happy. With your wonderful sense of humor I hope you do write more…I’ll be first in line to buy. And yes, great interview…I’ll go back and read more carefully tomorrow…most interesting. and X
Victoria Twead: Thank you, Jill Pennington and everyone for a very entertaining Fred! Jill, please let me know who you’ve chosen to win ecopies of your book.
Jill Pennington: Hi Victoria, I think Craig as he asked lots of questions and I know he hasn’t read it. Not sure about another as I think a lot of the people already have a copy. Any ideas?
Craig Briggs: I can’t believe it Jill! – I am over the moon to accept a copy of your debut book, The Diary of a Single Parent Abroad – I hope I haven’t broken any rules by asking too many questions, particularly as I’m a firm believer in quality not quantity. It was an honor to take part and a privilege to accept this award – Just practising in case I ever win an Oscar.
Janet Hughes: “Speech, Speech” *Craig rises from his chair to rapturous applause clutching Jill Pennington in his arms* (or least her book)
Jill Pennington: Hope you enjoy it Craig.
–First person to shout, who has not already read it can have the other copy.
Craig Briggs: I sense a measure of uncertainty Jill from the gathering hordes – do you mean shout, ‘Who has not already read it!’, or just shout anything? – either that or everyone in here has already read it.
Jill Pennington: Yes, I think a lot on here have, somebody will claim it eventually.
Betty Sue Brewster: I’m shouting :o)
Susan Joyce: Congratulations to the winners—Craig and Betty Sue! Jill, just finished reading your great interview. I couldn’t join in because I was without internet for four days. Thanks to being back on line, I’ve just enjoyed all the questions and answers. Good job!