These are the Days

These are the days that seem to vanish into clouds. Days when each past moment is forgotten and only now remains. Am I talking nonsense? Quite possibly, but as fellow writers will affirm the moment really is ‘the moment’ and on a good day it lasts forever.

I apologise if I have lost you, I am of course talking about writing. It has been the best of days, it has been the busiest of days and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Now time is precious so I won’t spend hours talking about writing, because the more I spend chatting the less time I can devote to actually writing or reading or doing whatever I’m supposed to be doing which is embarking on another adventure… So here’s a re cap…

Imagine – you have 1 day to go until your holiday, a holiday you have looked forward to, planned for, I mean really planned for. It involves the whole family, boats, lists, internet searches.

You finish work (your day job), you pack the dogs off to their holiday home, you pick up dinner and now its time to pack. But wait, what’s that? A thought, an idea? You shake it off because you don’t have time, not now, not today. Today is all about planning, being organised. The idea refuses to leave and renders you incapable of rational thought. OK, so it will only take 10 minutes to write down, then you can pack and feel smug. You won’t be the one holding everyone up, you’ll be ready…

The reality…

Six hours later, you crawl into bed. You’ve have 4 hours sleep and still haven’t packed. If you could go back and change things would you? Hell no! Because that’s what it’s all about, that’s what’s so glorious about writing and I love it!

So that was my day – how was yours?

Sign on the dotted…

Last week I took a slow boat along a lazy river, well sort of. I went on my first ever barge holiday. I was not really convinced it was for me, but I will try anything once! I am after all a five star girl and I was being asked to adopt a one star outlook – not easy!

That said, I agreed, all be it somewhat reluctantly. I blame wine consumption and a happy disposition! Late one evening 6 of us agreed it would be an excellent holiday and we should all go! I put my fear of confined spaces and dodgy toilets to one side and we all signed on the dotted line sometime last September. The deed was done – money exchanged hands – we were going!

So, how did I get on? Well, 6 go barging was never going to be easy lets face it. 6 people in a confined space for 7 days was I admit an eye opener. Would I do it again? emm…. maybe.

There was something almost magical about travelling at 2 mph silently along the river. Life slowed and became almost timeless. Kingfishers, herons, swans and even a terrapin (I kid you not) were our companions. We would ‘barge’ (I’m not sure if that’s the correct term…) for approximately 4 hours each day then moor up. Spending nights moored in the heart of both Bath and Bristol was inspiring. Stepping off of the boat and being in the centre of those beautiful cities was very special.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better it did! As we ‘cruised'(?) from Bristol to Bath and 4G was briefly restored, my phone pinged. In among the Twitter updates and supermarket offers sat a sparkling new email. A story I had written with a nativity theme had been chosen for an anthology. The publisher was asking for me to review and sign the contract and return it as soon as possible.

Well, as you can imagine I was excited, happy, delighted and shocked in equal measure. Getting a contract printed, signed and returned while on a boat with patchy phone coverage was going to be a challenge.

I have always loved libraries and even more so now. I can not thank the wonderful staff at Bath Central Library enough. They helped me to print & scan my contract so I could send it back via email. We are so fortunate to have access to such valuable resources – not to mention the limitless supply of good books.

I shall leave you with a few pictures of our wonderful home on the water and one of the very friendly Swan that adopted us.

Bye for now…

Hey Shorty!

This week I received an exciting piece of news. A short story I entered into a competition made the Short List. As a writer it is the sort of news that sends tingles down your spine and puts a smile on your face.

Rejection is part and parcel of the everyday when you write, it comes with the territory. So when you get a short list or long list placing you can be assured that your story has had an impact – it is a wonderful feeling. Some days writing is thankless and hard, it can feel as if you are wading through treacle. You try your hardest to make your story sing only to have it land flat. Moments that make you fly are so important. They serve as a reminder that sometimes, just sometimes you can hold a tune!

Thankfully I do not have to wait too long for the results.

Read & Vote

This week I have a piece of flash fiction in AdHoc Fictions ebook. Issue 170, the theme is ‘need’. Try and guess which is mine – sorry, I’m not allowed to tell you! Why not pop on over and take a peak? Read and vote for the piece that you like., it really is that easy! Enjoy.

The Journey…

My current work in progress has been a long hard slog. It has danced fast and slow, and at times come to a halt. There were moments when I wondered if it was to be an ‘eternal’ work in progress, destined to be placed on the back burner and dusted off every now and again. But I have pulled myself together and viola!

As many of you know, I have been working on an historical fiction novel for the past few years. This has involved an enormous amount of research. I have read books both fiction and non fiction, spoken to historians, and tried to get under the skin of the time period. I have realised that amidst the changes brought on by moderisation and technology, hidden within the cracks of wars and disasters, lies a truth which transcends everything – we, ‘people’, we don’t really change that much. Certain aspects of who we are have remained constant. Like night following day we continue to love and laugh and cry. It has been a wonderful journey, full of so much richness and discovery. Quite what I shall do once I finally hang up the red pen on this one I’m not sure, but one thing I do know is that it has been well worth the ride!

Happy New Year – Again!

2018 spat me into 2019 before I felt ready! The good news is now I’m ready! So, belated New Year greetings!

I have a plan for 2019, well sort of. I slumped my way towards the end of last year after an action packed Spring, Summer and Autumn. I don’t have a crystal ball but this year is not about puppies or kittens or any other sort of fluffy fur-balls as far as I’m aware. This year is about my writing. Thanks to my wonderful diary courtesy of Charlie at Urban Writers Retreats I can hold myself to account. I shall be either patting myself on the back, or slapping myself around the face, depending on how things are going! I’m happy to report so far no faces have been slapped! 🤣 Happy New Year!

To Be a Good Writer…

Sage advice from the man himself –

To be a good writer, I believe that one has to read a lot of books. Fifty a year would be a good place to start, but twenty five would work... Stephen King.

I shall be putting this good advice into practice over the holiday season.

Merry Christmas everyone x

The Best Present Ever!

When I was young I desperately wanted a doll for Christmas. Not just any doll, a special Tiny Tears doll. It’s quite profound to think the doll I was taken with was a doll that cried.

We never had much money, and the doll was expensive. I prayed Santa would make it happen. I didn’t hold out much hope, I had not been the perfect child!

Christmas came, and low and behold, the baby was born – I had obviously behaved better than I gave myself credit for! Alongside my treasured Tiny Tears, I was given books by my grandfather – Ant and Bee, and The Cat in the Hat. I was 5 years old. I named my doll Trudy. I washed her, played with her and read her bedtime stories. I was in Christmas heaven.

My euphoria lasted all of about 3 days. My naughty little sister decided it was time for dolly to have a ‘makeover’. She poked out her eye and gave her a nasty red pen rash! It was time to take dolly to the hospital – the prognosis was not good. After my initial hysteria, I grew accustomed to my unsightly doll, who was now rocking a funky eye patch, and freshly cut hair. I would sit for hours reading books to her. I even took her to the library! Over the years my love of reading increased – my doll playing not so much!

I loved that doll, but I loved reading more. It was the year my love affair with books began.

I couldn’t tell you what happened to Trudy, but the books are safely here with me and always will be.

Giving a book for Christmas is so much more than giving a present. Books have staying power, you don’t discard them for the next best something or other – they are the best. Sometimes you re-read them, sometimes you pass them on. Books hold so much power, sometimes I think we forget just how amazing they can be. They have the power to change our opinions, the power to make us feel, the power to open up new worlds, the power to teach, they can make us laugh and cry… I could go on and on, but you get the idea – books are powerful!

Giving a book is as personal as it gets. You are giving over a piece of yourself and saying ‘this speaks to me, I hope you enjoy it.’

This Christmas I challenge you to think about a book you wished more people knew about, then gift it to a friend. It is the season for giving after all.

If you’ve read a book you wished more people knew about, please pop a comment in the box below and share the love…

Is Space Really the Final Frontier? Weekend Musings…

Sitting on the train back from Manchester I let my mind wander. Is space really the final frontier? Perhaps, but I would argue there is one that lurks a lot closer to home. The confines by which we live, think, engage and converse are all set…by us. We have errected our own barriers, our own limits. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the way we work.

We have conditioned ourselves to be busy bees, always having somewhere to go, something to do. ‘I’m busy people’ we shout to anyone that will listen. But what if we stopped? Someone I admire once said if he saw me staring from the window he knew I was thinking. I may have just been thinking about what I’d like for tea, or when I needed to feed the dog, but the fact I’d given myself the head space meant I was already a step ahead. Giving yourself the freedom to ‘just be’ and let your mind do its thing can sometimes get lost in the drama of life. The ‘I’m too busy’ to think mantra perches on your shoulder and before you know it 💥 – another day gone.

So lovely people my advise for a rainy December day – ditch the ‘busy barrier’ and give yourself the time and space to think – you’ll be amazed at what happens!