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All Over!

It’s incredible isn’t it? We spend months preparing for Christmas and then its all over in a flash. Every year I sit down to Christmas dinner and wonder what all the fuss was about. But I’m not being Ba Humbug anymore. Christmas is such hard work but I do love the giving of presents. Seeing the boys' faces light up as they open their presents. And sometimes the smallest of things bring the biggest delights - like the packs of Go Go’s - small plastic toys which are collectables and cost about a pound - which were the winning gifts this year.   I did have a lucky escape though. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve I put all the boys’ presents in the cupboard under the boiler in our spare bedroom. Normally I keep them in the wardrobe but I don’t like filling the sacks from there in case the rustling wakes them up. All was fine on Christmas Eve but overnight the boiler developed a leak and flooded the cupboard beneath. If it had happened a few hours earlier - well I don’t like to think!

Anyone For Some Festive Spirit?

So are we feeling festive?    Er I don’t think so. As my boys reminded me its only eight more sleeps until Christmas. OH NO!   How did that happen? It’s the same every year.   Despite that fact that I know Christmas is looming it always sneeks up on me, taps on my shoulder and shouts “Boo!”   I suppose it doesn’t help that I always go into denial until it’s too late to do anything other than panic. But I did try and get organised this year.   I did! Honest! I have a sister-in-law who goes out and does her shopping in one hit at the beginning of November. I don’t know how she does it. In November I don’t even know what to buy and I can’t remember everyone I need to buy for either as my memory is like a sieve and after a few hours of Christmas shopping I loose the will to live.   So by trying to start early all I’ve done is prolong the agony. We’ve been having some work done on the house too. A few shelves here a few there, a new cupboard in one room, a curtain rail in the other.  

We Have Kittens!

Look here at the two new additions to our family! Firstly meet Bobby. And secondly meet his brother - Luke. In actual fact these two little tykes have been part of our famiily for a little over four weeks now and they have certainly changed our lives - in a good way - despite the scratches to the wallpaper! These two little mites may look cute but they have certainly been through the mill in their short lives. Their mother was abandoned when she was pregnant but fortunately found her way to the RSPCA who saved her life and the lives of some of her babies. She ended up having a Ceasarean section and gave birth to five babies. Only two of those survived - see above. Even though my two little darlings did survive, they still needed to be resusitated at birth. Their mum lost her milk and they were housed with a wonderful foster mum who fed them by had on the hour every hour. They weere really poorly for a long time and their foster mum often wondered if they would m

Where Did November Go?

It’s been a while since my last blog and the reason is National Novel Writing Month. I had meant to blog on my progress stage by stage but even though I completed the required 50,000 words last year, I did not anticipate how much time it would take me to complete the challenge. And completed it I have, I'm glad to say. This year I was a little more organised and plotted out some of the story during October, got to know my characters and did some research. This included reading some novels in my genre – chick lit (which was such a hardship – not!) and reading these two books which were invaluable. Together they really gave me a good angle on where I wanted to go with my novel and some po inters on how to get there. A very big thank you to these authors for their invaluable advice. I began the month on good form and the words literally flowed from my fingertips. Changing my approach from being a pantster to being a plotter really seemed to work. But then during week 2 I

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Yesterday I was poleaxed with a really bad headache – not a great start for NaNoWriMo, but I managed to redeem myself later. Having two young children doesn’t go hand in hand with illness so usually I drag myself out of bed and just get on with it no matter how bad I’m feeling. But yesterday it was impossible, I just felt as though my whole head was being crushed in a vice. Fortunately, hubby was around so he was able to take the boys to school. They were a little concerned though because they are not used to seeing me take to my bed. I reassured them that it was just a headache and I would probably be OK to pick them up later. By the afternoon I was feeling a little better, mainly thanks to super strength pain killers, but as hubby called in from work he offered to pick them up while I pottered gently around the house. I managed to pull myself together enough to take the boys to their swimming lessons but afterwards was exhausted so went for another little lie down. At bedtim

I've joined a gym!

Or rather my husband has signed me up on a family membership. Do you think he’s trying to tell me something? I suppose the excuse of post pregnancy bulge must be wearing a bit thin. My youngest is nearly 7 after all. I’ve never been what you call a gym bunny. In fact, put me in a room with exercise machines and people pumping iron who all know what they are doing and the exercise pattern I will show is running very fast in the opposite direction. To my husband I say - Ask me: Do you want a glass of wine? The answer will always be yes (unless I’m driving of course by which the answer will be no with an ill-contained snarl). Ask me: Do you want to go out for a meal? Again yes Ask me: Would you like a couple of hours to loll on the sofa and read a good book? Oh yes! Ask me: Would you like me to take the children out for the day so you can get some writing done? Oh yes please! But Ask me: Would you like to go to the gym? Answer – Erm, probably not. I don’t mind swimming and I d

It's Been a While!

It’s been a while, I know since my last blog and for that I am truly ashamed. My life is always really hectic during the summer with work and family but this year I just haven’t seemed to be able to catch up and now its nearly half term. Already! I’m sure there is a gremlin out there somewhere stealing time from me. I have been writing though, albeit I can’t say that I’m entirely happy with what I have written and so I haven’t been able to find the motivation to blog about it. I’ve been flitting between projects too so haven’t really built up any momentum. In reality I’ve been having one of those “Where is my life going?” moments, only the moment has lasted rather longer than I could have anticipated. But this month I’ve given myself a bit of a talking to because let’s face it, the only person who is going to change my life is me. The thing that has really spurred me on though is the fact that November is approaching and November means – National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo

Procrastination - The Root of a Writer's Evil

Why is it, when we say that we love writing, sometimes we would rather do anything other than actually get our bum on the seat, fingers on the keyboard and brain in gear? Is it that we love the idea of writing more than writing itself? Is it that we love the finished product and the thought of, “I did that” but don’t always want to be bothered to actually put the hard graft in first? Perhaps it’s a combination of the two, but for me there’s something else too and its called fear. Fear that the idea which sounds brilliant in my head isn’t going to come up to scratch when I put it down on paper. Fear that when it comes down it to I can’t actually get the right combination of words to make my story flow. And so I procrastinate. I check my emails, I read blogs, I read writing magazines, I read other authors and I make lists. But I don’t actually write. But not this week. This week I have written. And this week I have almost completed an assignment for a distance learning course

Ouch!!!

I went to two parties last night - my nephew's 18th at an Indian restaurant and a friend's birthday at her house. I can't remember what time I staggered back and I do mean staggered - two steps forward and one step back. I was woken this morning by my husband's alarm going off at 7am - he's playing golf - and then his friend coming to collect him and ringing the doorbell, waking up the children. My head is pounding. No pounding isn't the right word. It feels if I move it too quickly it might actually fall off. That's if I don't hack it off myself with a blunt knife. I swear I'll never drink again. Until the next time. Happy Sunday everyone.

And Finally ....

So, three down, one to go. This last book I read on the plane home and then continued, sporadically after my return and is: The Kissing Gates by Mackenzie Ford. This story is set during WWI and starts at the Christmas Day armistice when both sides had an unofficial ceasefire. It describes how two officers from opposing sides of the war reacted to each other when they met. The German officer, Wilhelm, lived in England before the war and fell in love with an English girl but then was called up to fight for England’s enemy. Wilhelm, tells the English officer, Hal, where his girlfriend lives and because he is unable to contact her himself asks Hal to take a photograph of him to show her that he still loves her. Hal is later injured and is shipped back to England, never to return to the trenches. During his recovery he seeks out the English girl on behalf of Wilhelm. On meeting her though he falls in love with her and doesn’t actually carry out his task - a secret which blights their

More Reviews

Now, I’m going to try and do better and blog a little more often, so here are reviews of the next two books I read on holiday. The first is The Adulteress by Noelle Harrison This book is about Nicholas, who after finding out that his wife has had an affair, impulsively moves from Dublin to rural Cavan to buy a ramshackle house which he intends to renovate. He soon finds out that the ghost of June Fanning inhabits the house. She wants to talk to him about the adulteress but in his present state of mind he doesn’t want to listen. Eventually he finds he has no choice and gradually develops a liking for his ghost and a desire to find out what happened to her. June move d to the house with her husband during the Blitz in London and the majority of this book is written from her viewpoint as it gradually tells the story of her life. It tells us how isolated she felt when she moved to the house due partly to her husband’s increasing remoteness once he returns to the home of his childhood.

Holiday Reading

It's been a while since my last post I know and I did promise a post the next day, slaps own wrist, but life sometimes has a habit of getting in the way, especially now. Ever since I got back from holiday I don't seem to have stopped running either at home or at work and I'm desperately trying to carve out writing time on top of all that. The holiday seems like a long time ago but it was a much needed break and helped me get my head round the news that my current job will be ending at the end of the next academic year. Now I'm trying to look on the positive - a year is more than most people have in job expectancy and it could be the era of change for the best. So I want to spend the next year saving as much money as I can, writing as much as I can and trying to find some freelance options, writing or otherwise, so that I can organise my life a bit better around childcare. You never know it might be a much needed opportunity to kick start a new career (fingers crossed).

I'm Back

Hello to anyone out there, I'm back from my hols. Well actually I've been back for nearly a week now but it seems like a lifetime and lying by the pool with the sun beating down on me is but a distant memory. But at least I got there. The week before we went was a bit traumatic to say the least what with little one breaking his arm on the Saturday. I apologise for my outpouring on Saturday night but despite my attempt at being up beat it did deal me with a bit of a blow initially. But I pulled myself together and decided that the best way to deal with the situation was to look at the possitive - he was OK. I knew we wouldn't find out from the hospital until the day before we were due to fly whether they would let him so I carried on as though we were going and started the mamoth packing job. And the stripping the bathroom out job. Oh yes, we had decided to have our bathroom revamped while we were away so that had to be prepared, bathroom suite ordered, tiles ordered and cho

Life is What Happens When You’re Busy Making Other Plans

Nineteen months ago my husband and I were idly watching tele with a glass of wine late one Friday night when we received a phone call. We were told that my husband’s best friend, who lived in Ireland, had died very suddenly, on a football pitch as he was training his youth team. He was fit, he was healthy, he was the life and soul of the party. He was forty seven and suddenly he was no more. We were devastated. My husband had known his friend since the first day at high school. They had shared everything. And despite the fact that they lived quite far apart he was closer to my husband than some of his own relatives. In Ireland funerals are supposed to happen within 48 hours, so plans were quickly made to travel and my parents stepped into the breach to look after our children. The funeral itself was the was most emotionally traumatic experience I have ever encountered. And then during the wake I phoned home to check on the kids, only to find out that my youngest son (4 years old) ha

Five Years and when life gets in the way

Don’t you just hate in when real life gets in the way of doing the things you really want to do? That’s what my life has been like recently. My head is so busy trying to remember the things I’m supposed to be doing that I can’t seem to clear enough space in it to write about anything in fact. So thank you to the lovely Jayne from A Novice Novelist who tagged me with five years and who has given me something to blog about. I don’t think my answers are very original but they may strike a cord with all of you jugglers out there. Where were you five years ago? 1. In the same house and in the same job 2. Looking after a one year old and a three year old and spending most of my wages on childcare 3. Watching Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder (so some things have improved – actually I quite liked the Thomas stories, I’ve got a thing about model railways – quite keen on miniature everything in fact – always wanted a proper doll’s house too). 4. Trying to write short stories and

St George's Day - To Celebrate or Not?

So do you think we should celebrate our Saint’s day? Personally I think we should. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I named my youngest son George, so now we always make an occasion of it, but on reflection I think why not? Why are we Englishers afraid of celebrating our history? Or perhaps we are just apathetic? I’m not sure, but with my husband’s family having Irish roots I’ve certainly learnt how you can celebrate something if you want to put your mind to it. So how did we celebrate St George’s day - or should I say weekend? We live not far from Beeston Castle- a medieval ruin which stands 500ft above the Cheshire plain. On a normal day it’s a great place to g - once you’ve puffed your way to the top - the views are out of this world. This weekend my two little knights jousted all the way to the top where we then enjoyed a picnic. It was a beautiful sunny day but all that way up it was a little windy so after we’d eaten our fill and the boys had explored the ruins,

Shirley Valentine and Times Gone By

The other night as I was idly flicking through the television channels I came across the film Shirley Valentine. No matter how many times I’ve watched the flim, it always comes across as fresh as the first time I watched it and is just as poignant. The film was at the hilarious point where Shirley meets her old school friend (Joanna Lumley). Shirley admits that she thought her friend was an air hostess and Joanna comes back as says, “Good Lord no, I’m a hooker.” or words to that affect. The bit that really got to me though is when Shirley is on the bus going home, and is remembering how she used to be when she was a girl, full of hopes and dreams for the future. I think that bit really got to me because I had a similar experience recently. At the end of March I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary. Ten years – where did they go then? We decided to celebrate by going away for a weekend without the children which we have done so rarely in the last ten years. (I was pregnant wi

Aiming High

Hello to anyone out there. I've been away from blogland for a while, mainly due to juggling Easter school holidays with work. I really wish that I had a term time only job, but then again at the moment I'm one of the lucky few who does have a job so I shouldn't really complain. But I'm back now and will try to be a bit more of a consistent blogger! One of the questions which niggles me as an unpublished writer is: "Am I any good?" followed closely by: "Will I ever be any good?" and its those kind of questions which can drag you down and mean that you don't write anything at all. A self fulfilling prophecy is ever there was one! But this Easter I was taught a lesson in self-belief from my 6 year old son. He was telling me that he was sad because it was Good Friday and it was the day that Jesus died. My eldest son is about to take his first communion next month and little fella is taking a keen interest in everything his older brother i

I've Got My Mojo Back

For a long time now I have been dabbling with short stories in between my attempts to write a novel. I do enjoy writing short stories as they give you a more instant buzz of satisfaction than the lengthy novel – and when it comes to editing the task is a lot less daunting! In the past I have entered numerous short story competitions (mainly in Writing Magazine and Writers News) but sadly have not as yet even been shortlisted. I’ve also sent my short stories to magazines, mostly to be rejected. But if nothing else I’m persistent and I refuse to let this lack of success daunt me and will carry on writing my short stories regardless; mainly because I enjoy writing them even if I am their only reader. However, of late I’ve been finding it very difficult to get into the swing of things. I’ve discovered that the way I work out my plot is by writing the story and seeing where it goes. I know this is not an ideal way to write as I tend to go off on all sorts of targets that I don’t reall

Inspiration Strikes

I’d not long posted my last blog when I opened my March copy of Writers’ Forum and saw Sue Moorcroft’s article called “Research Secrets”. Last year I was an avid follower of her Target Practice series and even sent in a short story for The Weekly News competition. I was practically jumping for joy when I received Sue’s very positive feedback on my story and was even more delighted to learn that it had been forwarded to Jill Finlay for consideration to the final stages of the competition . My story didn’t win but it did come highly commended and was published in The Weekly News. Apart from readers’ letters this was my first (and to date only) published short story which had me practically dancing for joy. So now whenever I hear or read the name Sue Moorcroft I am on instant alert. Again, she didn’t disappoint. She too referred to research as the chicken and the egg situation. She describes her process as initial research to find enough about the subject followed by the writing of the

Research - The Chicken and the Egg

A large proportion of my novel is set during World War II. I love historical fiction because I love reading about times gone by. I remember watching a television series when I was at school (more years ago now than I care to remember) called “How We Used to Live” and I that programme shaped my fascination for the past. I wonder what happened to it. I would love to be able to see it now; just to see if the reality lives up to my memory. So doing the research for my novel isn’t a problem for me. In fact I can easily spend hours delving into the facts to get things right. What I want to do more than anything is to create an accurate and vivid portrayal of the lives of my characters as they surmount the trials of war so this really is essential to the credibility of my novel. When I had the idea for the novel i starting reading round lots of the subjects I thought would be relevant to the story and I read, and I read, and I read. And then I thought to myself, “Stop” as the novel was

I'm A Bit Stuck

I’ve reached the 75,000 word stage and now I’ve run out of plot. I know where I want to get to but I’m not too sure how to get there. As I’ve already mentioned, I started this novel during NaNoWriMo and have tried to carry with it since, albeit much slower. Because I had a specific word count in November to get through each day, I decided I would write what flowed easily so I jumped from one event to another depending on how the mood took me. The result is that I have a lot of text but also quite a few gaps and I’m not sure how to fill in those gaps. I’ve taken a methodical approach and printed off all I have, read through it and made a list of the missing bits. Unfortunately quite a few of the missing bits read “What happens next?” which isn’t particularly helpful. I could do with sitting down for a few days, immersing myself back in the book, and do nothing but concentrate on sorting these problems out, but unfortunately at the moment life keeps getting in the way and I have

Dodging The Doubt

Self doubt, I think, is one of the hardest things a wannabe writer has to live with. The questions which buzz around my brain a lot are, “Am I any good?” or “Will I ever be any good?” I suppose the only way we can tell is by getting our work “out there”. Sometimes even that doesn’t help though, especially when the rejections keep flooding back in. I am yet to find myself at a stage where I have a novel good enough to send out to potential agents. So far I have completed first drafts of two novels. The first will probably never see the light of day and languishes on a bookshelf in a folder. It is, I think, a poor first attempt but maybe one day I’ll dig it out again and see whether it has any glimmer of potential. The second, I was part way through a first edit when I lost my way and was then side-tracked by the thought of writing something completely new during November and the challenge of completing the 50,000 words with NaNoWriMo. At the moment I am concentrating book 3. S

Tracks and Trains

The other day I watched a film I had recorded a few weeks ago called Under The Tuscan Sun. The film is adapted from a book written by Frances Mayes and stars Diane Lane. It’s a film I’ve seen before and is a lovely feel-good film – especially seeing sunny Italy as opposed to the miserable weather here at the moment. The film is about a just-divorced writer who buys a villa in Tuscany on a whim, hoping it will be the start of a change for the better in her life. What Frances really wants to do is to meet her soul-mate, fall in love and to fill her new home with people and laughter. But she despairs of ever meeting Mr Right and during a conversation is told a story about a train track which was built to link Austria and Venice. The track was built through mountains even though, as yet, no train existed which could scale such heights. Eventually though, such a train came about and the tracks were put to good use. And in the end, Frances does get her wish even though it is not enti

Luxuriating In Indulgence

If someone asked me what I want to achieve most in my life, my answer would be to be able to make a living from writing. That is of course an ideal. I would be more than happy to make part of my living from writing. Just so long as I had a few days each week where I could sit down at my computer and say, my job today is to write; this is what I’m supposed to be doing. As it stands, my writing is classed as a hobby, or an indulgence. Bringing up a family and working produces so many demands on my time, that often I feel I can only allow myself the indulgence to write when everything else has been done. And of course everything else is never done! Of course this is wrong. How am I ever going to achieve my ideal if I don’t occasionally put my writing to the top of the list? I keep telling myself this. I keep telling my family too that I deserve to have an hour or even half an hour a day to myself to do this. And my family do listen – or at least my husband does. That could be dow

New Year Focus

Although I haven’t been blogging much, or writing much come to that, I have been doing a lot of thinking. At the end of one year and the beginning of another most people reflect on the past and the future but I think writers do so even more. And I suppose because we are not just saying goodbye to a year but a whole decade reflection is even more poignant. In my personal life, the last ten years seen the greatest change to my circumstances. I was married in 2000 and now have two sons aged 8 and 6. I also moved house and now live in a village on the outskirts of a city, where the sense of community gives me a wonderful sense of belonging. So yes, on that score my achievements have been great. Not so great on the writing front, although it’s not for want of trying. I have written plenty over the last ten years but have only had one small success in that a short story of my was published last year. After years and years of trying that one success though had me dancing on the ceili