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Showing posts from 2016

Oh Dear!

It’s quite shocking how long it has been since my last blog post. What can I say?   The summer has been rather challenging and hasn’t left me much time or head space for writing and so I have felt that there has been little to blog about. Summer is always difficult, trying to juggle work and childcare.   Although the boys are a bit older now and don’t need constant supervision, I can’t just abandon them for the duration – no matter how much they might like me to. I did have a couple of weeks off, but unfortunately on my way to work my car died 20 miles away from home – literally – the engine conked out and I had to be towed all the way home.   Not a pleasant experience. It made me realise just how much I rely on my car, just to function, as I live in an area where you can’t do anything without having wheels.   The car was eventually resurrected because it was worth nothing for scrap but every journey in it now gives me the hibigeebees.   I’ve just lost faith in it.  

Strange Sounds In The Night

Last night I went upstairs when both of my boys were in bed.  There was a strange noise coming from one of the bedrooms - cue spooky music - on closer investigation the sound was that of a cat purring. Now, our cats are not allowed upstairs and they both know it - which is why whenever anyone leaves the door open to upstairs they make a beeline to human beds.  So I was a little bit cross - either one of the boys had left the door open and one of them had taken advantage of it - or someone had sneaked a cat upstairs. (I dread to think what (or who) they might be sneaking upstairs in the years to come.) In the room where the noise was coming from, son was fast asleep and there was no sign of a cat. To bemuse me even further when I went back downstairs both cats were fast asleep downstairs. And then the penny dropped in my befuddled brain.  Recently my youngest has been struggling with mood swings - probably hormonal - but he's also been struggling to get to sleep at nigh

Its All In The Detail

A few weeks ago I did something I've been meaning to do for a long time - I visited Cheshire Records Office.  I've drafted a book set in Chester in WWII and now that I'm editing it, I need more details of what life was really like in the area.  I'm fortunate that I don't have to travel far to get my hands on all this lovely history, but still I never seemed to make the time. It might sound a bit boring for some, but for me it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.  I phoned in advance to book a microfiche screen and when I was there I had to register and was given a free membership card for the next five years.  You are only allowed to take pen and paper into the main library so I was given a locker key where I had to stow my bag away.  (I felt like a proper historian!) and then I was shown how to work the machine and where to find the tapes for each newspaper in the timescale I wanted. Obviously I've done a fair bit of research already but what I really

Boxing Day!

No, I haven't gone completely mad, I know the year is going quickly but even I know its not Christmas already.  I'm sure it will be here soon enough though! I'm talking about Boxing Day's as taken from Peter Jones' Book: How To Do Everything And Be Happy Now, I have to confess that I read this book a long time ago, and its probably time I re-read it again - if only I had the time - ha ha! But one of things which really sticks in my mind is his theory that Boxing Day should be the day that you do exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it and that it should be a gift to yourself.  Also, Boxing Day doesn't have to be on that one particular day of the year, but that you should schedule in lots of Boxing Day's throughout the year. Now, I've tried repeatedly to schedule Boxing Day's into to my but they don't seem to happen. I end up having unexpected work come in or sudden appointments, or there is just too much else to

Me Before You

Last week I went to the cinema to watch Me Before You.  This film is based on the book by Jo Jo Moyes who, I understand, also wrote the screenplay for the film. I'd already read the book (and wept copiously) so I was interested to see how the film would turn out.  Then I watched the  trailer   and I decided it was definitely a film to go and watch at the cinema rather than wait for the dvd to come out. And I was glad that I did.  I thought the film was wonderful and for a brief period I managed to escape my life and get lost in someone else's.  The film has caused quite a bit of controversy particularly regarding the fact that an able bodied person has written about disability without the knowledge of what disability feels like.  It has also brought controversy on the subject of assisted suicide.  I'm sure by now most people know the ending, but just in case anyone is reading who doesn't, then I'm not going to give it away.  But what I will say is that I don

Enjoying the Sunshine

I don't know about you but it's rare that I get a day doing things I want to do.  Today, my husband went to golf while my children were happy to chill.  There was nothing on the agenda - no family commitments, no taxi service to administer, the house was as clean as it gets and the garden bin was full so I couldn't do any more gardening.  So for a change I decided to suit myself. If the rain had been pelting down, I might have spent a productive day writing, but I'm afraid to say that I spent the day reading instead - well the laptop is no good in the garden, and it was far to hot to hold a pen.  It wasn't all indulgent reading though, I did some research, caught up with Writing Magazine and yes I did read my current book on the tbr list - The Lake House by Kate Morton.  As much as I love Kate Morton, I've struggled a bit to get into this book, but today I got well and truly engrossed in it.  (Much to husband's annoyance when I decided that I didn&#

Things That Make You Go - GRRRR!

In order of experience here is today's list: 1. Stroppy teenage tantrums 2. Ended up having to reverse down a narrow road due to road works even though the traffic lights were on green. 3. Work laptop wouldn't connect to printer despite turning printer on and off (repeatedly and turning hub off and on - again repeatedly).  4. Figures in a spreadsheet that refused to add up. 5. Package delivered yesterday to home while I was at work and had to be rearranged for delivery today.  Of course, wouldn't tell me what time so on tenterhooks when I had to go out that it would be delivered when I was out.  Package containing leaflets urgently needed for work tomorrow delivered but turned out to be for a different company entirely! Still hoping (probably in vain that the correct ones will turn up). 6. Email on work laptop refused to work, despite (see 3 above). 7. Received a short story rejection in the post. 8. Received a rejection for another short story by email

Another Book Review

\ The Secret By The Lake - Louise Douglas I've never read any of Louise Douglas' books before but when I came across this one in the library, it intrigued me.  I'm glad I picked it up because it was a fantastic read. It is set in 1961.  Amy, the main character, is nanny to a family who live in France.  But when disaster strikes, they are forced to return to England to a cottage where the mother of the family grew up, and has since inherited. But the cottage is haunted by the past, and in particular, by the mother's sister who died there when she was just seventeen. In order to move forward, Amy has to solve the mystery of what happened in the past and ensure that the unquiet ghost does not harm the family she cares for. This book definitely has page turning quality as the reader joins Amy in her quest to solve the mystery, and I'll definitely be looking out for more books from this author.

Another Year Older

Or not as the case may be. I know that might sound a bit cryptic but let me explain. Last year on my birthday I convinced myself, probably because I'm rubbish at maths and my memory often plays tricks on me, that I was 48.  But I wasn't, I was only 47.   Throughout the previous year, I've been unable to shake off my mistake and have constantly fooled myself into thinking that I was actually a year older than I was. So on Sunday, my birthday, although I was officially a year older, I was still only 48.  Good trick heh? I can't say that I'm particularly bothered about my age, although I've noticed aches and pains creeping in, but the one thing that baffles me is where did the time go? In my head I'm still young, ambitious with my whole life ahead of me.  But when I see my teenage decade described as social history, it does send me into a bit of a panic.  I love watching TV programmes such as the Back In Time programmes where families live in the

Having A Clear Out

It looks at though the womag editors have had a busy week. On top of my rejection from Take A Break last week I had another two on Thursday and then one from Woman's Weekly on Friday. I few of my fellow online group have also had rejections from TAB so it looks as though they are having a spring clean and clearing the clutter from their desks. So much for reaching my target of ten for the end of May, I'm now down to only three. Better get writing and subbing again! Hope you are all having a better week.

Balancing Act - Joanna Trollope

I used to adore Joanna Trollope's books and then I fell out of love with them a bit.  Recently a friend bought me Balancing Act. I decided to read it with an open mind and I'm so glad I did.  I literally raced through it in a matter of days and if I'd had the time, could probably have read it in one sitting. Susie Moran is a woman who owns her own pottery company making all kinds of tableware.  She has three grown up daughters who all work in the family business with her, along with one of her sons in law.   Susie has always been very driven and likes to be in control  but it seems that her daughters have very different ideas about how the company should be run. In Balancing Act Joanna Trollope achieves what she does best, exploring the family dynamic and how each member of that family are affected when circumstances change.  Her characterisation is brilliant and I found myself liking them all and sympathising with each one's point of view.  

Submit, Submit, Submit

No not in a 50 shades kind of way, I'm talking here about short story submissions. Last year I only had two short story submissions accepted but when I reviewed my submissions at the end of the year, I found out that I had only submitted ten throughout the year.   Don't get me wrong, this wasn't the full extent of my writing during the year, but it did bring home the fact that you really have got to be in it to win it. Rather than setting a target based on number of submissions throughout the year, in January I decided that I was going to aim to have at least ten short stories under consideration at any one time.   By the end of March I only actually had four under submission, so I decided that I wanted to submit another three during April and three more during May so that by the end of this month I would have achieved my aim.  Obviously this is with the hope of building on this to exceed my target by the end of the year. By the middle of April I ha

I'm In The People's Friend

I'm delighted to say that this week the story which was accepted by The People's Friend just before Christmas published.   Originally it was called Stage Fright but has been renamed to Second Chances.   The idea of the story came when I was watching my sister-in-law perform in a PTA school production of the Wizard of Oz.  She had never acted before so to watch her was a bit of a revelation - I've never had the guts to go on stage myself, and was very proud of her. It made me think about what would happen if someone had acted professionally before but had to put that career on hold.  What would happen if all of a sudden she was back in the limelight again - albeit on a small scale. And so the idea was born.  It's taken quite a few re-writes to get the story to a stage where is it publishable but it was worth the effort.   I usually hate reading my stories once they are published, I'm hyper-critical about what I could have done better but I actually enjo

List Mania

Have a week full of appointments this week - as well as work - so in my effort to be more productive, here are my current thoughts. There’s no point in dedicating a set time each day to write if you spend the entire time staring at a blank screen / piece of paper, so its important to plan what you’re going to work on before the allocated time.  That way you can hit the ground running and grind Mr Procrastination into the dirt. And this is where lists come in.  I’m of big fan of a list and quite happily write endless bullet points of things I want to do.  But, unfortunately the lists themselves seem to strangle me with their own enthusiasm because they are so long that they become unachievable.  So whilst I will probably never be able to contain the urge to put everything in my head down on paper, its important for me to prioritise.   From now on I’m going to pick three things from the list and make them my priority.  That way the list won’t seem so daunting and I’ll get

Best Laid Plans

So, today I had a plan.  I was working from home for my real job.  I got my head down, focussed all day and was really pleased with what I had achieved by the time it was time to pick the boys up from school.  Dinner was planned, so all I had to do was cook it, and then spend some quality writing time while the boys were eating. And then it all went wrong. Youngest son got in the car and said, "Mum, I really hurt my arm playing football at lunchtime."   Now, he's not really one to complain, there's always something happening with the pair of them, and usually it doesn't last very long.  But when I asked him to show me where it hurt, and to lift his arm up, I realised by the look on his face that a trip to A&E was in order. He told me it would be fine, but as he's broken wrists four times before (playing football) I thought it would be best to get it checked out. Three hours and an x-ray later and it was confirmed - he'd chipped a

Teenage Tantrums

The trouble with teenagers is that they always think they know best; they refuse to listen to their parents (particularly their mothers) when they are talking sense; they can't see the point of keeping their bedrooms tidy (even though they fly into a panic because they can't find what they need two seconds before they need to leave for school); and despite all this they still expect the bank of mum and dad to be open all hours, and taxis to be available 24 / 7 without any prior notice. The plus side of this frustration is that I spent the most part of this weekend trying to avoid my own truculent teenagers.  I was so annoyed that I didn't feel guilty about spending some time on my own instead of pandering to their every whim and I actually managed to edit two short stories.   So, the moral of this story is, there is a plus side to everything, even after tearing your hair out!

The Summer of Living Dangerously - Julie Cohen

I read this book on holiday and I was glad that I had the time to read it without the interruptions of daily life.    OK, so I might have been tempted to put it down if my boys had been drawing in the pool but apart from that there was little that could drag me away from the story.    It is a book I have been meaning to read for a long time and the anticipation of it in no way disappointed. From the moment I started to read I was instantly involved with the main character, Alice.  Alice is trying, and failing, to get on with her life but you can tell from the beginning that she is a woman who has a seriously troubled past, a past which she is trying to block out  - a recipe for disaster in any good story. Alice writes articles for technical magazines but she is bored and blocked by her writing until she sees an advert for Eversley Hall, where the owners are re-enacting true life events which took place in the house in 1814.  The advert inspires her to pitch an ar