Thursday, 25 October 2012


The Next Big Thing! Who Me? I just wish.....:-)



Thanks to Paula for tagging me in The Next Big Thing thingy. 

What is the working title of your next book?

‘Message in a bottle.’

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s a true story that needs to be told.

What genre does your book fall under?

Ludicrously unlikley autobiographical adventure.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Not sure as I'm hopeless with names of actors.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

A chance to make a survival film exploring the desert island dream turns into a nightmare as my 'Robinson Crusoe' fantasies clash with my teenage companion’s wish to live out the ‘Blue Lagoon’.

Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?

Agency I hope ...

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Ages.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The kind of book where a woman crosses the desert with just a camel for company. Dervla Murphy comes to mind.

Who or what inspired you to write the book?

My dear friends who believe the story is still worth telling after all this time.

What else about your book might pique the readers interest?

This is not just a story of desert island discord, spider infested jungles and lack of protein. This is a story of overcoming grief, finding life purpose and wondering whether my boyfriend will wait for me.

Anything else?

So far, this story has been told by the tabloids and my companion (channel five documentary). Now it’s time for me to stuff my experience in a bottle and throw it on the ocean. One day I hope an agent will pick up the bottle and represent me. One day I hope readers will join me on that rat infested, haunted isle and find humour and resilience lurking in the jungle.


Now to chose someone else, well, five.

Keith    





Monday, 15 October 2012

Sweet Things


Thanks to Keith ... Dream it then Do it ... http://grammargrub.blogspot.co.uk/
for the cake award.

I humbly accept his quest which is to answer the following questions.

1 Cookies or Cake?
Cake definately. Cookies are nice on the eye but sickly in the tum, whereas even if you're on an elimination diet (as I am at the moment) you can still enjoy cake. It's just they look rather wholesome now, in a carroty way, as opposed to my ganache covered delights of yore.

2 Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate every time, I love the theobromine ... though I won't shout at anyone who brings me anything vanilla flavoured.

3 What is your favourite sweet treat?
At the moment it has to be my recently discovered vegan, gluten free carrot cake.

4 When do you crave sweet things the most?
When the shops have shut and it's impossible to get any.

5 If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?
Erm ... My first love still calls me Sweetie Pie which I like, it makes me smile.

I'm handing this award now to Alysn http://alysnsburntofferings.blogspot.co.uk/ in thanks for supporting my creativity. Alysn, if you want to accept this, please copy the photo at the top of your answers to the syrupy questions.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Jolt of realisation

During one of those very late at night, Thinking about Big Things moments, I had a jolt of realisation that my trip to Devon really is happening.

For those of you who think nothing of a 'quick trip abroad' or 'nipping down to Devon for a holiday' or even a night out in the next town, it may be hard to imagine how epic this plan of mine is.

My neuro disability is so painful that I'm scared of the journey, yet I want with all my heart and soul to 'go home.'

Assuming I can do it at all, it will be one way, as there's no way I'm putting myself through a return journey.

There are two things happening this coming week. First a test drive of Bertie, the new (very very old VW polo)
If I can only drive for ten minutes I know should live near Exeter. If I can do fifteen, then I can go to the town where I used to live, where I have friends.

Then, next weekend I'm attempting the first train trip experiment. 11 minutes there, stay over and 11 minutes back. If that's OK I'll be on to the next phase of testing.


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Daisy puts her wheels up

My dear old car Daisy has retired. She was diagnosed with a terminal
rusty bottom last week, so with a heavy heart I drove her through the
roads of Derbyshire to the old cars' home.

I breathed a gentle goodbye, my breath misting the speedometer, gave her an affectionate pat on the bonnet and left her in the sunshine with her new friends.

Realised when I got home I'd left my special, don't need to turn my neck when driving, parabolic mirror in Daisy. Off to collect it today.

My drive looks so empty.

Friday, 31 August 2012

My Huge Quest to get to Devon begins

Having fantasised about going to Devon for the last umpteetwo years, the stark reality is hitting me in the face. With my neuro (ouch) style disability, it's going to be as tricky as a trip to Mars. well, almost. The physio is frowning and talking neck braces and such. Am I mad?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

technological forgetfulness.

On Tuesday afternoon at Swanwick Writers' Summer School you have the afternoon to yourself. I thought it would be a great time to catch up with editing my work.

I had roughly six hours free before supper. I spent a fair amount of that changing my room, due to the hard bed and constant hum in my first room. The staff were very obliging, allowing me to test each bed until, like Goldilocks, I found one that was just right. 

Once established in the main house, I took my laptop to the bar area and settled down to work. 
Oops. I'd taken the wrong file from my hard drive at home, which meant I had no work to edit.

So I spent the afternoon relaxing on the lawns drinking fizzy wine and discussing all things literary. I even had the chance to read the first chapter of my work in progress to my friends, who gave me valuable feedback.

After supper (more on the thorny issue of being vegan later) I went to a side splitting talk by Sharon Kendrick. http://www.sharonkendrick.com

Now back in my room, I thought I'd do a blog, using the photos I've taken during the last two days.

Oops. I'd left the camera card in the laptop and taken photos on to the camera and haven't got the right cable to get the photos onto the laptop.

It's clearly not a techy day, even though it started with a talk on e-publishing.

Still, it's been a wonderful day with warm hearted friends and warm sun. I'm looking forward to sleeping on a comfy bed tonight.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Swanwick Writers' Summer School

After weeks of looking forward to it, I'm finally here.




I took my twenty copies of Taranor into the book room. 


(Faerie fantasy adventure ... type Taranor into amazon books to find the kindle version. It's in paperback too.)


After supper we had an entertaining lecture by Steve Hartley, author of The World's Biggest Bogie.

 His five rules to getting published.
1 create a short and punchy synopsis.
2 polish your manuscript, re-write, re-write.
3 find your voice.
4 get yourself noticed.
5 make your work commercially viable. Power has shifted from editorial power to marketing power.
The lecture ended with eleven women getting into a huge pair of knickers. I forgot to take my camera, so haven't got a pic of that.

Looking forward to tomorrow.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Swanwick Magic




Every time I walk past my brand new suitcase I smile. It's only ten days until the Swanwick Writer's Summer School begins.  I can't wait.


I went there, last August, for the first time. Before I went, I visited the website to look at the programme and sort out my booking. On the website they talked a lot about the 'magic of Swanwick', which I thought was just marketing speak, but after one evening of glorious weather, inspiring speakers and comfortable surroundings, I realised it was not sales hype.  By midweek I was wandering around smiling.  I had many reasons to smile.  First of all there was the magic of Swanwick, which truly exists.  There were fellow writers everywhere, new friends to meet and so much to do and learn.  I was also smiling because I was away from my house. 

Having a chronic pain condition makes taking holidays extremely difficult.  Well, I'll be honest, having a chronic pain condition makes simply going out for the day almost impossible, never mind going on holiday.

It was truly magical to be away from home and yet to feel safe.  I was close enough for friends to come and rescue me if my health deteriorated.  Yet I was far enough away to feel like I was on an adventure.

It's not an exaggeration to say that being at Swanwick changed my writing life.  In that one week I learnt so much about how to construct a story, about fantasy and autobiography, about plot and publishing and how real authors live day by day.

If you want to spend time with three hundred other fun loving writers and you enjoy pastry, then I would recommend Swanwick Writer's Summer School.  There are a few places left.  You can book until August 7.


Soon, instead of simply smiling at my suitcase, I'm going to begin to pack.  

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

My frog has come home!

I have two pieces of good news.

John and I are about 10,000 words into Taranor* book two. That's almost a tenth of the way to completion!

and

my frog has come home.

I thought Finella, the frog, had left home, having laid some infertile spawn in a flower tub this spring.  I watched the spawn with anticipation, but soon realised it wasn't going to yield a horde of babies. Finella was nowhere to be seen. I imagined her hopping off with a frown of disappointment on her little froggy face.

Last year friends dug out an old flower bed and, during April, I put a large plant holder thing from a garden centre inside and filled it with water. I put a water lily in the water, hung a budgie ladder on the edge so she had a climbing out tool and a big rock to hide under. Then I waited. 


Last week (peal of bells) she came back and has found the new pond.  To my delight I found her hanging onto the little ladder, keeping her head above water and her body cool.

I'm thrilled to have her back.

Finella on her budgie ladder
I do hope she finds a suitable boyfriend this year so that they can have babies. I've called her Finella after a character in Taranor.

* New fantasy adventure for ages 13 to 113 available on Amazon, paperback and kindle

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

She had joy, she had fun, she had seasons in the sun

This time last year, my lovely Betty dog became unexpectedly ill at the age of 14 and a half years. Following the diagnosis that fateful morning, we had one last day together. We spent time in the sunshine in a buttercup meadow where the rabbits live. We ate bananas in the garden. I lay on the grass and she put her paw in my hand.

She passed away peacefully at the vet's, in my arms that evening, on the 7th June.

I'm not sure how I got through this last year. She was everything to me.  She was my bright, vivacious and enthusiastic best friend. I miss her so much. The living room feels empty. When I come home the house is quiet. Dolly cat misses her too and is being a real help. She stayed with me all last night. I'm off to a meditation retreat for a couple of days to sit quietly and remember all the good times and allow more healing.

Just after she died, I produced a booklet of poems in a stumbling attempt to express my feelings. Here's a sample.

Promise Me

(Betty’s last wish)

When I’m gone,
Promise me you'll go on eating.
Promise me you'll walk through frosted, autumn leaves
Where icy sticks lie amongst the sparkles.
Promise me you'll pad through winter snow,
And prick up your ears at the fresh, yellow sniffs of spring.
Promise me you'll body surf down daisy covered hills.
Promise me you'll smile again,
One day.

Friday, 1 June 2012

It's all happening at once : )


During May, two Spanish film directors and writers have been creating a community film in Derby.

http://derbysoapopera.co.uk/

I have been asked by Ramon Alos Sanchez, one of the directors, to send him my screenplay!
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1902902/

Latent Heat ( first written in 2007 ish) is a full length psychological thriller about unrequited gay love, jewel theft and madness.

I tidied up the words and emailed it yesterday, so now wait with all fingers crossed and breath held, until I hear from him.

... oh dear, now I'm turning blue and can't tie my shoe laces ...

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

I'm published!




On Sunday afternoon I held my very own book in my hands for the first time!
It's called Taranor; a fantasy Faerie story for young adults of all ages, where girl rescues boy and animals talk, where magic abounds and goblins create art, where love blooms and courage prevails.

A year ago I went to the Swanwick Writers' Summer School for the first time. I was in awe of the published writers, they were a breed apart. They seemed superior beings, who sat with the rest of us at the dining table surrounded by an aura of mystery. This year, in August, I will be among their ranks. Well, kind of. John and I haven't done the long haul through publishers and agents. Taranor is self-published on amazon, in paperback and on kindle. It was surprisingly easy to do. Sales are slow and steady. I hope when people have read it, they will recommend it to their friends.

To be honest, even if it doesn't catch on, I'll still continue to write, as I love doing it so much. I love diving into a new world and seeing where it takes me. It would be great if I ended up in a huge house by the sea. For now, Dolly and I will be content with what we have.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Is there an undo save button?



Dolly
You've finished your first novel.  You ask a friend to look through with a Big Red Pen for errors and you spend the next month eating take-aways, and ignoring everyone except the cat, while you correct the mistakes.  

You agree with your co-writer that it’s time for one last read through.  With a sinking heart you notice a continuity error fairly near the beginning of the plot.  That's OK you think, it shouldn't take long.

You’ve re-written the scene and it's so much better now.  You carry on, tidying up sentences and correcting typos, until it's time for lunch.  You go out to a warm cafe with a friend to deal with the last badly placed commas. As you boot up your laptop, a file opens from a previous session.  You insert your memory stick - in my case, called Wingless Duck.  


Wingless Duck
You order a pot of tea and laugh with your friend gaily, without a care in the world. Your book is almost finished. You join an infinitive to a straying verb and press save.

Screeching sound of brakes.

You've just saved the uncorrected copy on the screen, over your corrected one on Wingless Duck.  The morning’s precious rewrite is gone.  You search in vain for a way back, scrabbling with your cyber fingernails at the cliff-face of Word 2000.  You gasp, clap your hands to your forehead and spew a string of expletives across your pot of tea for two. 

You look at your friend - your eyes wide and lost.
"Is there an undo save button?" you ask.
Your friend slowly shakes his head.  You stare at the screen together, searching for temporary files and other magical beasts.  Your quest is in vain. You take a deep breath, order an entire chocolate cake, and start again.

Taranor, a Faerie Fantasy story for young adults of all ages, is due to be published on Amazon mid-May.


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

raw chick peas anyone?

Money is really tight right now so, a few days ago, I decided to use up some old chickpeas that had been languishing in a jar on the kitchen shelf for months.

I put them in a flat dish and soaked them and drained them them until they sprouted a tiny bit. Then I cooked a few in a stew and put the uncooked ones away in the fridge.

Last night I made another chickpea stew. I added tomatoes and herbs and ladled it over a baked potato then settled down with my big fluffy cat to watch a film. Lovely hot potato, herby tomato sauce, fluffy cat and a decent film; what could go wrong?

I'd used the uncooked ones from the fridge.  I had two mouthfuls before I realised they were nearly raw.

The fact that I'm still alive this morning shows that slightly sprouted raw chickpeas are not poisonous. Which is good because I haven't finished editing my book yet, and had I died due to poisonous pulses, my co-writer would have had a lot of work to do, and of course would have gained all the glory once the film rights to our book were announced!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Why Writer...

Having finished the first draft of Taranor (the amazing new Fantasy Faerie adventure) last week, my co-writer and I set about the onerous task of editing and proof reading.


 We started off, ten months ago, writing the book in Microsoft Word, then  when the story became complex, switched to a program called Y writer.     www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html


 This is a wonderful free programme that helps you organise your scenes and chapters.  You can see everything clearly and change the order of any section without getting muddled. It was so easy to write our separate scenes and put them in the right places using this program.

Once finished, we read the whole of book through in Y Writer first and then transferred it to MS Word to check for smooth transitions.  Did the scenes flow from one to the other without jarring?  Did they heck!
It shocked us both just how many continuity errors had crept in.  Having each scene separated in Y Writer had lulled us into a false sense of cohesion.


I’m not rubbishing Y Writer in any way…it's a wonderful programme and I will use it for all of my projects.  The lesson I’ve learned is to check and double check continuity before transferring the story into another programme.


Once we’ve finished the rewrites we’re going to put it on Amazon. I’ll tell you next time how we made our decision as regards e publishing.


See you soon

Sunday, 18 March 2012

good news and bad news


The good news: I’ve just finished Taranor, my first novel!  It’s a Faerie fantasy story cowritten with my good friend John Raybould.  When we’ve edited and polished it until it’s shiny and perfect, we’ll send it to a publisher.

We’re trying to decide whether paper publishing or e- publishing is best for us.  More research is needed.  As far as I understand it, a paper publisher will do a lot of the marketing for you but you get a smaller percentage, with e- publishing you have to do all the work but you get around 70% of the price of the book. 

I think my preferred choice would be a paper publisher who also does e-publishing.  I’ve got no marketing experience, and my limited physical abilities mean that I can't do talks at libraries, travel the country telling people how wonderful this book is and spend hours on the internet, running websites and multiple blogs.

Taranor 
for YA to adult
Bryony, an insecure teenage Faerie girl with anger management problems, sets out on a quest to rescue her childhood friend, Sheean, a nice but dim Faerie lad, who is being held captive in the human realm by witchcraft and thick castle walls. Once he reaches the age of eighteen an evil King hopes to drink the boy’s blood to obtain immortality.  Bryony goes to live among mortals, aging as fast as they do, while keeping her true identity hidden. She is ill equipped for the job. She is young, high maintenance, has no fear of risk and her temper threatens her safety at every turn.

The bad news: three weeks ago I was travelling home with friends from a writing group when an idiot in a car undercut us on the left (illegal in England) and forced us into an emergency stop.  There was something on the news a little while ago about people doing this.  The idea is to irritate the driver, to create a scene, and then to stop suddenly, making the innocent party slam into the back of the perpetrator who then claims insurance.

I'm still in a really bad way. Some days I feel as though I'm recovering, but then other days I can hardly move and even lifting a cup of tea is painful.  I just wish people would think about the consequences of their actions.  For some, a mild bumper dent gives them neck ache for a day.  For me, simply braking hard creates pain for weeks, if not months… if not years.  I was beginning to improve from my last setback three years ago, but now I feel right back to square one.

I'm trying to stay positive about this, but of course my meditation experiment is hardly relevant right now.  Or then again, maybe it still is.  Every day I lie down for 30 to 45 minutes and practise staying in the present moment, simply breathing. Even though my thoughts intrude a lot, I still find it very relaxing. 

Ignorant people and pain will not be enough to stop me achieving my goal.
One day I will go into a bookshop and see my own words in print. Or on someone’s kindle : )

Peace…

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The butterfly of awareness lands on the flower of breath

I wasn't sure at first whether I would be able to meditate every day, but I’m pleased to say I have and now it's become something I look forward to. 

Sometimes I’m successful in persuading the monkeys in my mind to quieten down for a little so that I can allow awareness of my breathing.  Sometimes my thoughts keep jumping up and down, clamouring for attention. Over time, so the great meditators of world tell us, it gets easier.

A breakthrough occurred to me, roughly on day two, when I realised I was controlling my breathing.  This is something I've always done to manage stress. When I deliberately relax I take deep controlled breaths from the diaphragm, allowing my belly to expand on the in breath and to relax on the out breath.  However on listening to the meditation instructions again, this particular meditation is passive.  There is no controlling of the breath or slowing the breath, there is simply an awareness of the breath as it happens, whether that's short and shallow or long and deep.  Just allow the breath to happen naturally and follow it with your awareness.  When I understood this, I sank into my body and simply let the waves of the breath wash over me.  It was comforting, deeply relaxing and brand new. 

Some days I’ve managed to achieve peace.  But of course then comes the second trap; the wish to achieve.

 Ho hum.

Of course I want to acieve…I want to heal my body of pain. I want to become enlightenend…but the very act of wanting, grasping, wishing and hoping, during meditation, is enough to stop it from happening. 

Thich Nhat Hahn says the layer of conciousness that allows healing is below that of concious thought. So if you use meditation to access that area of the mind, healing can occur. This is new for me and very exciting.

Up to now I’ve used relaxation, concentration type meditation and visualisation. I’ve managed my pain pretty well, but…this new approach could be the key that unlocks a new life for me. A life where I can travel to see my family, enjoy the dignity of earning money and get out of my local neighbourhood and seek new horizons. These are things I will enjoy when I'm well again.

Here’s a poem I wrote many many years ago when I met my  Tibetan teacher, Lama Chime Rinpoche in 1985.
Meditation
I went down to Marpa house to live in a retreat,
To maybe learn to meditate and get back on my feet.
But all I found was silence, it made me feel quite queer.
The only thing that Chime said was, "never mind me dear."

I went in to the shrine room, ‘cos my head was in a state.
I got a comfy cushion and began to meditate.
Though I sat in an hour and I never made a sound,
I couldn't stop my thoughts from going round and round and round.

The Lama then explain to me, he said it's very simple,
You're making a great mountain from a tiny little pimple.
There isn't any answer, there’s no rule of thumb.
You've got to find your own way out,
Om Mane Peme Hum.

Of course he didn’t actually say these things, it just seemed a fun poem at the time.



here is a short clip of Chime talking about thinking

love

Monday, 13 February 2012

Mindfulness meditation and chronic pain

my little Buddha in the snow
For the last 21 years my life has been blighted by a neuromuscular disorder called chronic myofascial pain or CMP. 


The condition can be managed but, so far, cannot be cured.  I'll write about how it originated and how I manage it in another blog.  For now I want to record the start of a new effort on my part to get better.  I’m going to try eight weeks of mindfulness meditation.


snow melting
I've meditated on and off since 1978, mostly using attention to breath methods but my focus has been sporadic. You know how it goes…all enthusiastic for a few months, then it’s Christmas or you get a cold and your practice gets lost. Then another surge of interest and off you go again. This time however I want to persevere. 
When giving me my diagnosis about six years ago my consultant said to me “the only thing that has reversed this condition is meditation.” I was still reeling at being told I had an incurable neuromuscular problem so I hardly heard him. I did go to a class for while but didn’t continue. 


still melting

Now I’m going to give it a shot according to the methods of the MBSR in Massachusetts.


I’m going to do 45 minutes mindfulness meditation six days a week for eight weeks and see how I feel. Research by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, over the last thirty years, is now showing that the pain perception area of the brain is altered by regular meditation. 

(this is a long talk, all of which is interesting, however the medical research part is found roughly at 0:37:16)

Surely it has to be better than codeine and diazepam.

at last, Buddha revealed
 
I'll keep this blog posted on my progress

Wishing you health and happiness

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

How much is that Doggie in the Gallery?

I've just sold my first sculpture!


I've been making things out of papier-mâché for many years but this is the first one that I've sold.

Due to my disability it takes me a long time to make each one.  Pebbles the dog has been on the go since 2005, and has been sitting around in my garage waiting for the days when I have the strength to work.  By mid-January this year he was finished. The final layer was made using a papier-mache clay recipe from Jonnie Good.
http://ultimatepapermache.com/paper-mache-clay

This worked really effectively as I was able to mix acrylic paint into the papier-mâché which saved me painting the finished product.  I stuck pebbles and stones all over the dog, using smaller pebbles near the head and feet.  His eyes came from a haberdashery shop that sold eyes for stuffed toys. They really came to life when I applied a coat of acrylic varnish to them making them shine. I added a dob of varnish onto his nose as well.

Last week a friend of mine helped me take him along to the gallery to enter the open arts exhibition as he was way too heavy for me to lift.  In fact I needed help during the final stages because I was unable to move him around to finish off the project.  Sometimes I find it painful to lift a milk bottle so working on this scale and with this weight may be something I have to reconsider.  It is wonderful to earn a few pennies from my art under the permitted work scheme, but I don't want hurt myself in the process.

Last saturday the gallery http://www.thebeetroottree.com/    held an open evening and I invited my friends to come along and look at the exhibition and enjoy a glass of wine.  I hoped my sculpture would attract attention and the odd smile, but it was beyond my wildest dreams that I would actually sell it.  We'd all been there about an hour and my friends were considering getting back home when Alysn Midgelow Marsden, http://alysnsburntofferings.blogspot.com/ the gallery owner, caught my eye and placed a red dot by Pebbles' paws.  She winked and moved away.  I looked at my friends, my jaw dropped open and then I began to grin.  It was a wonderful feeling.  Although it took me a very long time to create him, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am so pleased that he is now going to a good home.

It has crossed my mind to make up a small piece of papier-mâché poop to put underneath him when the exhibition closes.  Won't that be a surprise?

My thanks go to all those who helped me and supported me, to the gallery and to the wonderful person who bought Pebbles.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

jacuzzi hogs

Imagine David Attenborough's hushed voice:

We are here in the depths of Planet Spa, near a hot spring where adults come to bathe.  Already in the water is a large bull male, maintaining his territory by posture  If you notice his arms are spread out across all the available space, effectively holding six feet of warm therapeutic water for himself.

Now, this is interesting, a young male is entering the pool.  Will we see aggressive displays?  No, see how the younger one slips into the water placing himself to one side, avoiding eye contact with the larger male.  Yet in an act of gentle defiance he mirrors the posture of the other.  These two could lie here for hours without trouble; the bull confident of his supremacy, the younger male secure in his place.

A female arrives.  She weighs up the situation then tiptoes into the water and places herself in the uncomfortable shallow area, shifting her postion in the hope of more room.  The two males remain with heads back, eyes closed and legs spread forward taking up the floor space.

Yes, she's given up. The female is walking out of the pool and away to another area. From her shape we can see she is a mature alpha. Why, I wonder, didn't she challenge the males? Maybe she felt they were unsuitable breeding stock.

Close up of David Attenborough smiling:
Well. That's all we have time for today. I'll see you soon for another episode of Life on planet Spa.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Happy New Year of the water dragon. Xin nian Hao 新 年 好

As far as my limited understanding of Chinese culture goes it's lucky to wear red underwear today if you are born under the sign of the dragon. I was born under the sign of the dog so don't need to worry just yet.
 One of the traditions celebrated on the second day of the festival is the birthday of all dogs. So if you are lucky enough to have a dog give them a special treat.

I am still grieving the loss of my dear dog Betty who passed away last year. I will look to the sky and blow her a kiss.


Saturday, 21 January 2012

My Grandad's bookshop


My grandfather owned a bookshop in Leicester (Clarke and Satchell) between 1923 and 1963.  http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/news/pdf/issue4.pdf

Because of this, I was brought up in a large rambling house, renovated from slum status (but that's another story) in which every room had a bookcase packed to the ceiling with books. 

I learned to pull myself up onto my feet, (at just over two and a half years old, but that's also another story) by hanging onto these bookcases, staring at strange words like Dostoevsky and Shakespeare. 

At the age of twelve and thirteen the muted colours of these old, hard back books drew me into wild adventures and the strange world of adult emotion. I would browse the shelves and pull out another cloth bound relic to learn about the inner worlds of Aldous Huxley or Edgar Allen Poe.

To my mind writers had the status of gods, all long dead or nearly so, certainly way beyond the reach of mere mortals.  New writers, if they existed at all, were gifted, supreme beings. They were probably born with great novelistic ideas already in place, scribbling superbly constructed sentences while sucking on their dummies. 

Although I wanted to be a writer when I was young, or a painter, my parents encouraged me to get a proper job.  It's not that they didn't want me to write, but they didn't want me to starve or suffer through a lack of income. 

To some extent, being surrounded by seriously good quality literature as a youngster ignited my passion for words and stories, but it also held me back, as I believed that to be a writer you had to be a genius to have any chance of being published and read.

The world seems more kindly disposed towards new writers these days, especially as e-publishing takes off. Maybe there’s hope for my stories to appear on bookshelves one day, or at least on tablets of plastic.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Finally I have a blog!
I've had a diary since I was 11 which is a Very Long Time Ago. When people started blogging I thought what a good idea it would be, but never got round to doing it. Due to my disability I am limited in how long I can spend at the computer, but recently I decided that as a budding author it was time.

Procrastination be gone.
Self doubt be quiet.

Finally I have a blog!