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Reflections on 2012

I could write the same blog post at the beginning of each New Year, in fact here are my words from early January 2012. I'm going to be more focussed on my writing, I'm going to declutter my house, get my life organised, lose weight and get fit. So this year, whilst my intentions are the same, I'm simply going to say that I want to think of a way to make more use of my time. I'm either going to have to stop watching telly, stop sleeping or find some other way to find ways of being more productive. I know I run the risk of the same blog post in 2013 but I really hope not. Be careful your words might come back and bit you on the bum. So, have I been more focussed on my writing? Well, I’ve tried but I’m not sure I have achieved much, certainly not in the way of publication, so this year I need to try and be even more focussed. Have I decluttered the house? Well, actually, I have made some progress, but not nearly as much as I wanted to.   There is s

Wolf Hall - The Verdict

Well, I persevered with Wolf Hall, and I did eventually finish it, but I can’t say that reading it was a pleasure.   In fact it was definitely more of a chore, 650 pages later though, and at least I can say that I got to the end. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy parts of it, and I did get an insight into Cromwell and his rise to power in the reign of Henry VIII, but I didn't find it an absorbing read.  It certainly wasn't unputdownable as some of the reviews suggested. Like I said before, perhaps I’m just not literary enough.   I don’t think I’ll bother with the sequel, although I have downloaded a sample, so I might give that a go and see if I get on with that any better.   Although not for a while. I got so bogged down with the book that I had to take a break from it for a while, and so in between I read Carole Matthews’ book, With Love At Christmas.   I read her previous book, Summer Daydreams and thoroughly enjoyed it. The first chapter of With Love At Chri

'Tis The Season

Forgive me blog followers for not wishing you a Merry Christmas in advance of the season, I meant to, honest I did, but, as ever, events ran away from me.   I was trying to be extra organised this year, and was doing quite well, until I managed to scratch my eye taking out a contact lens and had to spend a day in bed because I couldn’t open it.   For several days it was very sore and swollen and even attempting to look at a screen or the printed word was a complete no no. It all seems to be better now, thankfully, although I haven’t attempted to put my lenses back in since and have been wearing my glasses which I hate.   Still, it’s a small in convenience compared to earlier in the week, and it’s made me realise just quite how much we take things for granted. I always go a bit mad at Christmas and try and prepare everything myself, so Christmas Eve, saw me making pate, mince pies, cheese sauce and the list goes on.   By the time evening came round I was so tired that I w

Here's One I Prepared Earlier

By the way, I forgot to mention, I did complete NaNoWriMo.   In the end I was so fed up with my writing that at 45,000 words I sat down and refused to come off the computer until it was finished.   It was a bit of a slog, but an amazing sense of satisfaction. Whether I'll ever by able to bash it into something that is a coherent piece of writing is another matter.   The trouble with writing to this deadline means that sometimes you write a lot of rubbish and waffle just to get your   word count for the day.   And I have to admit that my plot changed as I wrote, so the end story probably doesn't match up to the story I started at the beginning.   But anyway.   It's done. I have 50,000 words that I didn't have at the beginning of the month, and may be one day I'll be able to do something with it. Now, I'm off to have a look at the novel I had critiqued by the RNA in the summer, it's been sleeping for too long in my desk drawer and it's time fo

Wolf Hall

I don't know about you, but I have a list of books I want to read and a list of books I feel I should read. Wolf Hall has been at the top of the second pile for, well, actually it seems like forever. But it's such a big book that its one I didn't want to have to cart around with me, so I've been putting it off. It's been jeering at me from the top of the pile, even more so since Hilary Mantell won a second Booker prize for its sequel. So, finally, I decided to take the plunge. Wolf Hall is set during Henry VIII's reign in the period where he was trying to get his marriage to Katherine of Aragon annuled so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. It's a period of history I'm particularly interested in, so in theory it should be an engaging read. But I have to confess, I'm struggling. I'm now at page 350 of this 600 page book and it has been an arduous journey. Perhaps I'm not literary enough but I find it hard to follow as

Silence Really Is Golden

Over the weekend a friend's children came to stay, a boy aged 11 and a girl of 7. They are lovely, lovely children and at the moment their mum is in hospital and has been for several weeks. My heart went out to them because they are so obviously missing her and needed lots of attention, which I was more than happy to give. But it's amazing what a difference two extra bodies can make to a house, it seemed to shrink to the size of a matchbox and by the time they left I was exhausted and my ears were buzzing. Then, on Sunday afternoon, my lovely husband took my eldest to his football and made the youngest go and watch too. After clearing up, I sat down and started to read a copy of Writer's Forum amidst the beautiful sound of silence in my house. It felt like heaven and really recharged my batteries.

When You Can Deny It No Longer

Christmas is coming. It's a fact, and one I try to deny every year. Until it creeps up on me and I realise I need to do something about it. Pronto. Sighs . I don't want to be bah humbug but I can think of a lot more useful things to be doing with my time than trawling around the shops or the internet, looking for things to buy that I can't actually really afford - especially not this year. And then just when you think you've got it in the bag you think of someone else you need to buy for. So every year I put it even thinking about it for as long as possible and then get really annoyed by the smug people who, in mid-November, smile and say, 'Oh Christmas shopping, I've finished mine. Grinds teeth to a fine powder . So today I'm going to bite the bullet and get started on my Christmas card list. If I can get all the ones I need to post out of the way, I might feel some small sense of satisfaction. And then I can get on and do something that I ac

Bad, Bad Blogger

I've been meaning to post for a while now - honest guv! But of course the longer you leave it, the more there is to write, and the longer it will take, so I kept putting it off!   So, what have I been up to?  Well for a start we went away for half term - yeh!  Ten days in Lanzarote.  It was quite a small all-inclusive complex in Costa Teguise, which meant the boys could have a bit more independence, make new friends, and I could read - and yes, write!   I took my trusty Kindle with me, which has been collecting books and free downloads for a while now, and I managed to spend some time idyling in the minds of my favourite authors, while lying in the sun - in October - what more can you ask for? We certainly needed the break I can tell you. But now it seems like it was a long time ago - even if it was only a few weeks ago - but I've been a busy bunny since I've been back.   Of course there has been the usual post holiday washing and ironing - yuck - although i

You Just Never Know

One of the frightening things about life is that you never know what's round the corner. Then again, I supose that if you did, it would be even more frightening. Last week, it was my niece's birthday, she was eleven, the same age as my eldest.  On Sunday my brother and his wife were preparing a family party for her. My brother took his beloved dog for a walk to the local river where she loved to swim.  She jumped in but couldn't get back out.  My brother jumped in after her, and managed to get her out, but it was too late, even though he tried to resussitate her. People who don't have pets, don't really understand what a big part of your lives they become.  She was a member of our family and she is going to leave a big hole in our lives.  Particularly my brother.  The words if only are the saddest two words in the English language. When I got home it was dark, there was a cat sitting in the middle of the road.  It wouldn't move, even when  I got out of t

The Big Declutter

The last few weeks have been rather strange. Leaving the job I've been at for the last eight years was a poignant experience.  I started there when my youngest was a baby and now he's in junior school - how the time has flown and how much things have changed since I first started. My redundancy had been looming for so long that I was almost at the stage of just wishing it was over, but everyone gave me a good send off and so I ended up feeling rather sad. And since then, have I had all the time in the world to get stuck into my wrting?  The short answer is a resounding no. We go on holiday next week, which I'm really looking forward to - we didn't go away in the summer so we all deserve a good break.  We're off to Lanzarote so I'm hoping for some serious sunshine, swimming and some reading and writing. But before all that I have to get rid of eight years of clutter.   We have a family of four coming to stay while we are  away, staying on until after we

No Let Up

You would think that now I have finally finished work, life would be a bit easier but I'm still in catch up mode. Its been a hectic few weekends what with the "Birthday" and going to Leeds for the weekend. That was brilliant actually.  My boys support Leeds because they are following in their dad's footsteps who, although Chester born and bred, has supported them since he was young when they were at their best. When they were little I thought they might be taken the mic out of for following a team that wasn't part of the trend, but now I'm really proud of them, because they are not just following the team who is most popular at the moment. Because there are only a few supporters in this area though, and no shops selling the kit, it was an uplifiting experience to be walking to the ground with hoards of fellow fans all wearing the same colours.  We had seats in the family area which was great, and right where most of the action was for a la

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

For the last eight years I've been working more or less full time but as I mentioned in my last blog, my job finishes at the end of this month. For a long time now, I feel as though I've been stuck in a rut, but have been unable to change anything because I didn't want to jeopardise a potential redundancy package. The truth is, I've become comfortable, my life is familiar and on a day to day basis, nothing really challenges me (apart from the moods of my family but that's another story). Part of me is really excited by new challenges but as the time grows closer when I will lose my safety net, part of me is just a little bit scared too. Last week I had a meeting with a consultant, to give me some advice on setting up as a freelance. This was all part of my redundancy package from my employer, which I think is a real bonus. I've been talking about working for myself for a while now, but this was one of the first real steps towards doing anything

New Beginnings

I've always been rather fond of the month of September - like January although with better weather.  Although I wasn't very fond of school itself, I did enjoy the academic process and being a bit of a paper addict, it was good to have fresh notebooks and a pencil case full of new pens.   Several years on, academia has passed me by but I still look on September as a month to assess where I am in life and a chance to set myself new targets.  (And it does help that the kids have gone back to school - yeh - and I can get back to a weekly routine - even if I'm not looking forward to the football season.)   This year it's even more of a challenge as I am being made redundant at the end of this month.  It's something that has been in the offing for a long time, so I'm not exactly devastated by it.  It is rather sad, as I started the job when my youngest was a baby and he will be nine in January, so it has been a big part of my life.    But I'm looking

Sean Bean But Not As You Know Him

I must admit I'm enjoying the dramas which have started recently. Ruth Rendell's Thirteen Steps Down, a physchological thriller based on a man obsessed by the killer John Christie, was chilling and I'm looking forward to the conclusion on Monday. An old favourtie - Celebrity Masterchef - has returned to brighten up my days, and a host of other cookery programmes have ignited my desire to cook "proper food" again. Then, of course my guilty pleasure X Factor, is due to start shortly.  I vow every year that I will not get sucked in, and every year I do.  I tend to get bored half way through the live shows, but I love the auditions.  It's the car crash syndrome I suppose. But I think the jewel in this week's TV crown was definitely Sean Bean in Accused.  Now I've always enjoyed his performances in Lady Chatterley and Sharpe but I can't say I expected to ever see him dressed as a woman.  In this week's episode, written by Jimmy McGo

All Over Now

The country seems a quieter place now that the Olympics have ended. Even though they were centred in London, the "vibe" was certainly felt up here in the north. I'm not the most sporty of people - not even the armchair variety - so my cup wasn't exactly running over with excitement in the run up to the big event, even though I was proud, and a little nervous, that it was being held here. I have to admit, even though I wasn't glued to the tele - unlike some members of my family (namely youngest son) -  I did enjoy the bits of it I watched, especially the women's football which was a bit of a surprise. I also caught a bit of the tennis and watched Tom Daly achieve his bronze on the edge of my seat. I'm so pleased that he got a medal, and whilst people were hoping he'd get gold, I think the bronze was an amazing achievement and I'm looking forward to seeing him in Rio, when I'm sure he's going to be even better. The sport I enjo

Up, Off and Away

Well, by now my RNA New Writers' Scheme script will be winging its way to the reader, courtesy of Royal Mail. I say winging, but judging by the weight of it, it might be bumping along rather slowly.  I thought I might have to take a second mortgage to post it, but if the critique is anything like last year's, it will be worth it. I thought I had finished the final edit when I realised it was over the preferred word limit, so rather desperately I went through it again.  In the end I managed to cut 9,000 words to bring it well below the upper level.  I was actually shocked that I managed to cut so much out without affecting the plot, it just goes to show how much of my writing is superfluous. It taught me alot and made me aware of words I repeat which just aren't necessary. I'm sure the novel is still too long for the market, but I'm hoping the critique will show me where it could be reduced. I do feel that at the moment it is the best that it can be

Wallowing Through Treacle

This just about sums my life up at the moment. Whatever I do seems like two steps forward and one step back. And that's before the children break up for the summer holidays. Experience tells me it's only going to get worse. All routine will go out of the window and I won't be able to find much head space to write. And write I must because I really need to send off my NWS manuscript within the next month and I feel that it's nowhere near finished. I have this increasing urge to run away from my life, find a country cottage or a log cabin somewhere, deny internet access, turn off the mobile and become a hermit. Of course, this is all just wistful thinking because there is absolutely no chance of escape - or even getting away for the weekend without my family. So I need to find solutions not problems. I've downloaded Peter Jones' book - How To Do Everything and Be Happy. Now I just need to find the time to read it. Take Care PS -

Books, books, books

Hi all Yes, there's more book reviews on today's blog - I'm nearly catching up, I promise. Here goes: The Perfect Hero – Victoria Connelly I loved A Weekend With Mr Darcy and couldn’ t wait to read Victoria ’ s next novel. Knowing that it was based on Persuasion, I decided to re-read the original first. I ’ m glad I did because I hadn ’ t read Persuasion for a very long time and probably wouldn ’ t have ‘ got ’ some of the references if the novel hadn't been  fresh in my mind. I do love Austen, and anything which brings her characters into the present, which Victoria Connelly does so well, but I did find some of the plotting predictable. Within the modern day romance the big question is will our main character, Kay, end up with her perfect hero? Unfortunately I became so frustrated with Kay's blindness to who the real hero was that I kept wanting to shout out ‘ he ’ s behind you! ’ Despite that it was still an enjoyable read and it hasn

Chasing My Tail

I was a very bad blogger during June and I promised myself that July would be better.   Well, so far I’ve not lived up to my own expectations. At the moment I feel as though my life has gone mad. The last few weeks have seen me rushing from one event to another, and in between there has been precious little time to do anything apart from get ready for the next event. Of course it’s a busy time at school, what with summer fairs, sports days, performances and other special events.   My youngest has had the rare opportunity to spend 6 days at a local outdoor centre.   This has taken place on odd days over several weeks which is a disruption to my routine (I do like routine), and has meant a split school run as eldest son has still been at school.   Eldest son has taken part in the annual district sports competition – 100 metres sprint, varying football practices, a school performance and is currently attending both cubs as scouts as he is going up to scouts in September and i

Locked In

Last night we got locked into the living room. Oh yes.  The handle on the door to go out of the living room has been a bit sticky of late but although the other half and I have both been meaning to have a look at it, neither of us have had the chance. I was ironing when my eldest tried to open the door to go to the loo.  He kept grabbing at the handle but it wouldn't open.  Exasperated I attempted to show him how to do it (again)! Only I couldn't open it either.  So my husband came strutting into the living room from cooking the dinner (I have a husband who cooks how lucky am I?). He then attempted to show us all how to open it but he couldn't do it either.  He tugged and tugged and then..... the handle came off in his hand and he flew backwards.  Fortunately the sofa broke his fall.  Unfortunately my youngest was sittting on said sofa cuddling the cat.  The cat took umbridge at being pounced on by a human adult male and did a cartoon impresssion of a cat in fright - b

Holiday Reading

My holiday at Easter may seem like it was in the dim and distant past but thankfully, the books I read are not. So here's some reviews of the books I read.  First of all is: All That Mullarky by Sue Moorcroft I've been a big fan of the previous two Sue Moorcroft books I've read - Starting Over and Want To Know A Secret? All That Mullarky certainly didn't disappoint. I wouldn't go so far as to say the kids could have drowned while I was reading it but it might have been a close call. Sue creates such wonderfully vivid and likeable characters that you can't but help want to become involved in their lives and travel with them on their journey. At the beginning of this novel it looks as though Cleo's marriage to the controlling Gav is at an end. When he tells her that she has to choose between him and going to a school reunion, she chooses the school reunion because she doesn't like his ultimatum. Half way there, though, s

How Time Flies!

I can hardly believe that it’s the middle of June already and this is my first blog of the month.   Can I use the bank holiday extravaganza and half term as my excuse? Probably not, but in between everything else, I’ve been working on the edit of my submission for the RNA’s New Writer’s Scheme.   I’m just over half way through the third draft of my novel and am doing a massive re-write.  I suppose that I should have sorted out a lot of these problems before now, but I’m consoling myself that it’s all part of the learning curve.   I’m much happier with what I’ve written and am hoping that after this draft, a quick read through will be enough to reach a stage where I’m happy to submit it. In saying that, I may not have an option as I’m rapidly running out of time. Time, as with most people, is my biggest enemy.    I’ve just downloaded Peter Jones’ book How To Do Everything And Be Happy onto my Kindle.   I came across this book on Della Galton’s blog. (Sorry can't put the lin