Operation Oysterhood: Day Ninety-Seven

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks


I posted this picture on Karavan Press’s Instagram account last year while reading the manuscript of Karen Jennings’s An Island. I have been a fan of Karen’s versatile work for years. She is one of those writers who can shift flawlessly between poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction, short and long forms, historical and contemporary. Her writing is always exquisite. I was already jumping up and down with joy when she asked me to read An Island, but after a few jaw-droppingly beautiful pages, I knew that it would be an absolute dream to co-publish this novel with her UK publisher, Holland House Books. And once I got to the end of the book, I was simply in awe. Karen, her publisher and I had been corresponding and talking about the project for several months before the pandemic, then the pandemic hit and delayed everything, but we are again on the right path and I cannot wait to share this book with readers. And what a pleasure to cooperate on such a project with a publisher who is kind and only has their author’s best interest at heart.

My dear friend, artist and designer Debbie Minné, has been working on the artwork for the cover and she came up with a few stunning images. Everything is coming together – slowly (as we knew it would from the moment the state of disaster was announced), but surely.


Another good sleep and a satisfying morning of reading with cats. And apart from a wonderful walk, the day was all about work. Every day, I read two chapters in Around the World in 80 Words and delight in the linguistic armchair travel. Paul Anthony Jones has a new book, The Cabinet of Calm. One of the words that features in it is HOWF: “a popular meeting place, or a regular haunt—so if you’re HOWFFY, then you’re snug and comfortable in a place you know well.”

The bed is our lockdown howf. Our morning was much calmer today, all howffy, no fighting. In the afternoon, while I was at my laptop, Salieri made up for the earlier peace and quiet and taught the blanket a lesson.


She and Glinka are all settled in the howf for the night (someone is snoring …), but it will be a while before I can join them. Still finishing a job tonight and I want to watch something on TV again. Dinner will also have to be magicked into being … but we do have lovely leftovers.

Sweet dreams, literary and otherwise, dear readers.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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