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.

 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.

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 : )


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.
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