Wednesday, December 30, 2009

After the clearing out



This is one of the cleansing rituals that works for me. I'm telling you all about it as Julie asked for details. We've both been having a good clear out of all the rubbish from our writing spaces but cleaning and clearing aren't always enough to get rid of the negativie vibes.

I use these tiny dishes, one for each corner. They contain the elements of air, fire earth, and water. I use salt for earth, a candle for fire and this morning a leaf fell into my hand so I'm classing that as air. After cleaning my room I place one dish in each corner. Light the candle and leave for an hour or more. It always works for me.

Other methods are -

Using a mister filled with water and a few drops of your favourite aromatherapy oil. Spray around the room.

Light some incense. Walk around the room leaving a trail of perfumed smoke.

Shift energies by clapping, putting a wind chime near an open window or ringing a bell.

I know this isn't going to be suitable for everyone and I was a bit dubious about posting it, and then I thought why not share my methods. After all there are no negative vibes in my writing room. And I happen to love little rituals like these.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mr Squeal


This is my friend, Mr Squeal. He's called that because our grandson, Dan, when tiny, couldn't say squirrel and it came out as squeal.
Mr Squeal is on the bird table. I can actually go outside and talk to him. He's not spoken to me yet but he listens to what I say to him, which is more than the LSO does on occasions.
I feel a bit guilty about Mr S because we've been away for a week and returned to find that the nuts and assorted food had run out. Just to compensate we've just put out some cooked rice and crumbled Digestive biscuits.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Pink Stinks continued

My daughter, Leanne, was brought up to have wide horizons. Yes, she, like today's girlies in pink, wanted to be famous but she tried everything, not just pink and girly things. This is what today's little girls should be allowed to do. It doesn't take a pink bicycle to compete in a time-trial. Leanne's bike was blue and had a cross bar. Cross bars make a bike stronger. Girly bikes without crossbars were made when ladies riding bicycles wore long skirts.
I could go on and on and on but I won't. Take a look at Pink Stinks and you'll see what this campaign is all about.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Pink Stinks

Three cheers! Someone is finally doing something about Girly Pink. See www.squaresunshine.blogpsot.com and follow the link from there. I can't do links but I expect someone out there will soon tell me how. (And square sunshine is a brilliant blog to have a mooch around.) Little girls do not have to live in a pink world. They are not all little princesses and it's about time some parents got a reality check. Isn't blue for boys and pink for girls a little outdated now?
I am allergic to pink. Furthermore my grandson, Dan, is allergic to 'girlies in pink'. A few years ago I used to have to check the supermarket aisles before we turned each corner just in case there was a girlie in pink in that particular aisle.
One of my husband's reflexology clients when filling in medical details put pink under allergies.
I love red and orange and green. Come to think of it I'm all traffic light colours and would never even use a pink comb or toothbrush. Pink is fine in the garden. A few pink things for girls won't hurt but this obsession with stinky pink makes me see red!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Long live the King



I remember the days when the sun warmed my bare arms, when the grass was dry and springy, when the sky was blue.

It seems a long time ago. It's still raining here and it reminded me of a Ray Bradbury story I read many years ago. The title has disappeared along with the sunshine but the story remains fresh in my mind. Britain was being evacuated because the weather here was unfit for humans. (Amazing how fiction can become reality.) At the final airlift one man refused to be moved and, as the helicopter (I think) took off, that man ran around, completely insane, declaring himself King of England.

I'd taken a picture of a miserable grey landscape to add to this blog and then decided to spread some shunshine instead. The picture was taken while we were on our travels around the coast of Britain. It's sunshine and blue sea on the Isle of Skye.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Where do I begin?

Monday again. A new week and I've no idea where to begin so I've been playing Spider Solitaire. My problem is I've too many projects on the go. I blame a clairvoyant who shall remain nameless. He suggested I should finish off projects that had been abandoned and I've discovered so many that I could keep writing for many years in order to complete them all.
This morning How To Books asked for new blurb and other bits for the new edition of Writing From Life. I think that needs to go to the top of the list.
I call my current dilemma, Writers' Jam. It's like a traffic jam. Too many vehicles all waiting to get through. It's possibly the opposite to Writers' Block. So what do I do?
I'm about to make a cup of tea, take out my new notebook and make a To Do List and put projects in order of priority. Wish me luck.
Per aspera ad astra. Through difficulties to the stars.
Yes, I did a bit of Latin at school though have to say the best remembered bit is a rhyme made up about the Latin teacher, the lovely and patient Mrs Tate.
Tatibus sittibus
on the deskolorum.
Deskibus collapsibus.
Tati on the floorum.

Kettle's boiling. I'm off!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Blowing One's Own Trumpet

This is something I'm not good at. (When I typed the title I managed Bowing and then Bowling.) But it has to be done.
Let's do the picture first. This year four of my short stories have appeared in four separate anthologies by Bridge House. This one will be out shortly and available at Waterstones and other stores.
I've just been asked to write a book on how to ghostwrite. It's not started yet so that's all the info I'm giving out.
My latest book, Writing From Life, (How To Books) is currently undergoing revision and will appear as a second edition, complete with new cover, next June.
No news about the gift book. I don't even have a title but it's in the pipeline and will be about ancient, and not so ancient, cures.
In the past week or so I've received half a dozen emails via my website, asking where I will be teaching, or speaking in the future. Well, if you fancy February in Fishguard visit www.writersholiday.net. A long weekend in a hotel and I'll be there tutoring writing short stories. You could opt for Poetry with Alison Chisolm, Contemporary Romance with Kate Walker, or novel writing with Catherine King. And if you want a change from writing, or you want something for you non-writing partner to do while you sweat over an empty notebook, then there are painting classes with Andrew Earney. I might give my class a load of work to do and pop off for a bit of painting myself. Only joking!
And now that's it for today, folks. I'm going back under my bushel, whatever that is.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Amazing Clock

This clock is the reason why we have to live in a detached house. It's got the loudest bong on the hour and half hour.
I bought it in a sale many years ago because it reminded me of the wall clock my grandparents had. Their clock used to fascinate me as a child and one of my Gran's expressions was that my Grandad loved me so much he'd give me the clock off the wall.
Once I'd bought the clock and carried it home the LSO hung it on the wall and wound it up. The first time it chimed we didn't know whether to laugh or scream. It was so loud that the wall seemed to vibrate. It should have been a church clock as it could be heard halfway along the road. The LSO suggested I took it back the next day and got a refund but when I got to the shop it was boarded up. You can guess what the family said. They all told me the shop owner had seen me coming. But we've grown to love the clock. It fits in with us. We never know what we are going to do next, and neither does our clock. It still ticks loudly and strikes every half hour but you can't trust it. It will strike as many times as it feels like it. Yesterday at five it struck four and at six it struck three, and that's why I love it. It's always up for a bit of fun. So far it's never struck thirteen but I live in hope.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cotton Wool Head

It's one of those day when my head feels as if it's stuffed with cotton wool. Probably due from a lack of fresh air. I can't see any point in going outside and getting soaked - unless it's to clear the cotton wool, of course, so I may have to brave the rain later.
I've been all over my computer this morning. I tried to do a bit on my latest book, tried to start an article, tried to write a letter and now I'm attempting to blog, and all this through a cotton wool brain.
I'm not going to be easy to live with today but as I often tell the LSO 'No interesting woman is easy to live with'. I don't know who said that originally. It may have even been me.
This one was from Phil Cool and may also apply to life here at Penrhiw House today.
'I don't suffer from stress - but I think I'm a carrier.'

Friday, November 20, 2009

Here I Go Again


Yes, it's another post about Deal Or No Deal. Three years ago today I was in agony waiting for the show to be broadcast. I'd kept my win a secret since the show was filmed on October 11th.
Colin and I took a few friends out to lunch, then had to hang around until 4.15 when the local pub was going to show it on the Big Screen. I couldn't wait for everyone to know the outcome. Keeping quiet was doing me serious harm. Dave, the pub landord, was asked to give everyone a drink. 'But don't let it go over £50,' Colin whispered to him.
'Oh, I'm sorry,' said Dave, thinking I'd won a tiny amount - as he was intended to.
When it came down to those last two boxes everyone in the pub must have thought I'd got the 10p. But here's Noel giving me a big hug and telling me, 'You were fantastic.'
If you've seen the show and think all the contestants are a bit OTT with their comments about loving each other and missing each other then you're mistaken. It's a big thing in our lives and we're all in it together. A lot of us still keep in touch.
The show gave me more than £75,000. My confidence increased, I got over my phobia of cameras, and I made some new friends. And there's something about Noel Edmonds. He's such a professional and puts everyone at ease. I still begin each day with Gratitude. Thank you Noel. Thank you Deal or No Deal.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

For LSOs Everywhere


It must be difficult to live with a writer. As a writer, have you ever considered what it's like for your other half? I call my husband the LSO, as many of you will already know. It stands for Long Suffering One. Here's a typical conversation with him.
Me: Why are you painting that wall green?
LSO: You said I could.
Me: I didn't.
LSO: When I asked you said, Mmmm, lovely.
Me: I thought you were asking if I wanted a cup of tea.
It can be problematic living in the same house yet on separate planets but I've come up with a solution. The LSO is being trained to become a PA. He's learning how to type by transcribing notes of our adventures in Win, the motorhome. I talked them onto tape. They go something like this.
Me: Look at that gorgeous blossom.
LSO: Forget the blossom. Look at the beeping map.
Me: Take a left, or is it a right? Hang on.
LSO: Hang on? How the beep do I hang on going around a roundabout?
And now I have pages and pages about our adventures complete with all the swearing.
So what's the photo about? We saw a horse on the horizon and as I'd rather like the LSO to beome personal photographer as well as PA I suggested he took a shot.
I think we should have a National Thank The LSO Day but possibly not in Nano month.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A quote to suit the weather

Seeing as the surrounding countryside is now a mystery - where are the fields and which bit exactly is the river? - perhaps we should be thinking about building a boat. I chose a boat quote for today. It's from Barry Sheene.
'Don't wait for your ship to come in; swim out and meet the bloody thing.'
He was right, you know. It's no use sitting around hoping to become a writer. You have to get out there, or at least get your work out there. You have to keep working towards your goal - swimming out to meet it.
Two months ago I didn't have a single piece of work 'out there'. Today I have thirty-nine. Stories, articles, letters and a couple of book proposals. So do my arms ache from typing, or swimming?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The uninvited editor

Some of you NaNoWriMo-ers might find this useful.
Once upon a time I thought it would be fun to write a novel and I managed the first chapter no probs. Then the Uninvited Editor kept pestering me. 'You can't say this, you can't say that. And what the hell is all that about?'
A little later my Mother joined him. (Don't know why my inner editor should be male.) She stood peering over my shoulder when I was doing the sex scenes. 'Oooh, our Lynne. That's disgusting.'
How did I get rid of them? I decided to be someone else. I chose a name that had absolutely nothing to do with me or any of the family. I gave myself a new look. I gave myself new parents. Joan Collins was my Mum and the actor who played Indiana Jones (his name now eludes me - it is early morning) became my Dad. Liberal parents. I got so into the part of this new taller, slimmer, sexy, confident me that no-one could bother me when I wrote.
Try it and see.
I had to cut the sex scenes. My agent said it sounded as if I was enjoying myself too much!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

Written by Edgar Billingham, a founder member of Worcester Writers' Circle, this poem appeared in his book, Midland Poems, in 1944 and was praised by JB Priestley and described as 'one of the most poignant fragments of this or any war.'
TRUE REQUIEM
Not for you, soldier, mourn we,
Young, and dead quickly,
But for you, schoolgirl, who never knew him,
Yet who must now go unloved and childless to the grave,
And for you, father, so proud,
And for you, mother,
Remembering the little hands.

Writing as a cure

'Pain is constant, whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual. You have to fight your way through it.' So said Michael Flatley.
I've been thinking about him a lot lately. I've developed Restless Leg Syndrome, probably due to the nerve damage in the bottom of my back. Some days there's no movement, others a few twitches and on the worst days it's like being Michael Flatley on crack. (Poet, Alison Chisolm, says she's looking forward to me doing the cabaret at Writers' Holiday, Caerleon.)
I tried tablets, I tried Valerian tea, I tried Kalms. I tried standing in the middle of a field at midnight, naked and reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards. (OK that last one is fiction.) Nothing worked. And then I tried writing and discovered that once I was lost in my writing all twitching stopped. I am now going to have to become a prolific writer.
Lots of us are going through some sort of pain - illness, bereavement, worry. Writing can help. Try it and see.
So you've got the quote and now comes a bit of sharing. Yesterday I heard that my book, Writing From Life, published by How To Books, is going into a second edition. I was so delighted that my legs forgot to twitch.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Why write?

I bet we've all wondered about that one at some time or another. A friend tells me she's just back from a week away and found five rejections waiting for her. I'm reaching the stage where I need a fix. I must have an acceptance soon. I get the jitters without a regular fix.
So why write?
The late Erma Bombeck reckoned:- 'Why I'm a writer: I'm too old for a paper-round, too young for social security, too tired for an affair, and too clumsy to steal.'
Moi? I've had over fifty jobs that I can actually remember. There are many more that I didn't stick long enough for them to make an impression on the memory cells. Finally the realisation dawned that I was unemployable. Since then I've been writing. There may be rejections along the way but there's nothing like seeing your work in print, and even better getting some response to it.
Last week I was showing someone around our house, with a view to buying it, and she saw my book, Racing Start, sitting on the shelf. (My books are arranged cover facing out.) 'Wow!' she said. 'Did you write that?'
'Yes,' I said, and reminded her it was published back in 1991.
'I must have read that at least three times. I loved it,' she replied.
And that's why I'm a writer!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A quote for writers

"Writers seldom need shrinks. Their typewriters serve as couches."
Yes, it's an old quote and it's from one of my favourite writers, Lois Duncan. You'll need to replace typewriter with keyboard to bring it up to date. It's a bit like "better out than in" which is what my Mom always used to say. She said it when I wrote stories as a child wreaking revenge on friends who had upset me. She said it when my little brother drew scary monster pictures on the wall.
Another quote I like was from a friend who told me, "You're too scatty to go batty." I hang onto that one.
Years ago I bought a tiny little book (3 x 4 inches in Olde English) and started writing down quotes, bits of verse, anything that inspired me. I've got the Henry Ford bit written there, mentioned in a previous blog. Here's the whole thing.
Someone once said to Henry Ford, "Isn't your son lucky?"
"Yes," replied HF, "and the harder he works the luckier he gets."
That little book often provides solace and inspiration. You should get one and I'll share some of my quotes with you over forthcoming blogs.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Feeling like Phoebe

Do you watch Friends? The other night the episode with Phoebe trying to phone a helpline was on. She stayed up all night in the hope of getting through to someone who would help her.
Yesterday I felt like Phoebe. I waited and waited for someone to answer the General Questions helpline for broadband. All I got was music. In the end I gave up, desperate for a comfort break.
This morning I decided to go for the Guide motto. Be Prepared. I took a cup of tea and a glass of water to my desk. Placed an extra cushion on my seat. Had a little pile of nibbles handy along with copies of Writers' News, Writing Magazine and Writers' Forum, all of which arrived yesterday afternoon. What I didn't have was a commode. Turned out I didn't need one. Today my call went through almost immediately. It would have been immediately if I hadn't had to make so many choices and press so many buttons. And what was I told? The company weren't responsible for my problem. They provided the broadband but I needed to contact my email address people to re-configure or something. I'll do that tomorrow. One of these calls per day is enough for anyone. If you read page 35 of Writers' Forum you will see I requested a geek in a cupboard for my writing Xmas present. I wish Santa had come early this year. Bonfire night would be good.
Currently Lynne Hackles is unable to send out any emails. If you are waiting for work or a reply from her - tough! It's not her fault!

Monday, November 02, 2009

A great little spell

Nothing about writing today. I'm going to tell you about spells instead. I once gave one to Jane Wenham-Jones where she had to carve her name, with a new pin (old ones have memories) up one side of a candle and the title of the novel she wanted to sell up the other side. I told her to burn the candle every day and concentrate on the flame and visualise her book in print. Oh, there were other bits to keep her busy, like finding glitter and bergamot oil to anoint the candle with. But it worked! She believed so it worked.
So I decided to do a spell to sell this house. It came from a book of spells and involved placing an anonymous key (thank you to Teresa Ashby and Irene Yates for providing keys) on a mirror in front of a white candle. There were some beautiful words to recite (if you want the whole spell contact me via my website) and then, once the candle had burned down we (the LSO and I) had to wear the keys around our necks. I couldn't do that. I never wear necklaces or tight collars so I put the key in my pocket. That lasted about ten days then I wore a skirt with no pocket so I tied the key to the loop inside the skirt, the ones used for securing to coathangers. I forgot that I failed my knot badge at Brownies so later that day when taking a comfort break it wasn't a kidney stone that went clunk down the loo. It was my spell. Bad karma? No. I decided the spell had taken a leap because it was no longer needed. Within hours (honestly) we had a call from the estate agents and someone came to see the house and fell in love with it. Two days later someone else came and fell in love with the house. Both want it but both need to sell their own places first. Perhaps I should have been more specific when asking the Cosmos for a buyer - a cash one please - but no-one can say that spell didn't work.
Got to go now. While the rest of you are NaNoWriMo-ing like crazy I'm going to MOT my broomstick.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dithering

Dithering is something writers should avoid but here am I doing exactly that. And I blame you lot in blogland. Everyone has been going on about NaNoWriMo and I was adamant that I wasn't going to do it. I've regular features to write, want to get some new stories out, have just completed a book proposal, am waiting to do a bit of rewriting on another book. Do I need NaNo?
When I work with new writers I tell them to never say no to writing opportunities. When I started off I didn't say no to anything. When my husband's boss asked if I would write some silly verse to go in his advertisements I said yes, and did it. When the freebie newspaper I worked part-time for asked if I could write a property column I said yes. Fortunately I also had a job at a Building Society so would just nip into the boss's office when he went for a liquid lunch and sift through his papers to come up with ideas and facts and figures.
At the start of this year Jane Wenham-Jones and I decided that perhaps, just maybe, sometimes, we could say no. So have we? Should we? Should writers say no to projects that don't excite them or to gigs they don't want to speak at? Well, I can't tell you that because so far I've not said no which is why there is a funny inflatable cushion in the porch waiting for me to write a report about it. (It's in the porch because it smells, nay, stinks, of fish glue.) I should have said no to that one!
The thing is, the harder you work the luckier you get (words attributed to Henry Ford) and finally work actually comes to you. Would you turn it down? No, I didn't think so. But NaNo isn't work, is it? But it could turn into something wonderful so perhaps...
Anyway, whatever I decide, good luck to all of you brave enough to tackle it. Just remember to enjoy the experience. And maybe I'll join you... or maybe not.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A friend like Betty

Every writer should have a friend like Betty. She is a writer too and has very funny stories published in Woman's Weekly (Elizabeth Moulder). We used to live close to each other and we will again, once this house is sold and I move 'back home'.
Why do you need a Betty? Because she is someone who understands rejections, acceptances, writing in general, but mostly because she is fun and you can swap stories with her.
If I had something that was a little too personal to write about I'd give Betty the idea and she'd write it up in her own inimitable way. We would swap stories, opening lines, bits of overheard dialogue and details of friends. Anything.
When my Mum was terminally ill and I went to visit her I would stay with Betty. After a day with Mum I'd arrive at Betty's door exhausted and she'd be there to offload to. We'd sit with a pizza and a bottle of wine and watch Judge Judy (Betty reckons JJ should rule the world). And then we'd discuss Mum and Betty would write about her as I didn't feel able. And I'd come back to West Wales with one of Betty's friends waiting to be put into one of my stories. A fair swap.
I'm lucky to have a Betty. I hope you can all find one too.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fancy living in Pembrokeshire?

Our house is for sale. If you're reading this then do let everyone you can think of know that there is a beautiful house on the market. Suitable for full-time living or as a holiday home. It's detached, about seven miles from the nearest beach, Poppit Sands, and well, if you want to know more take a look at my website www.lynnehackles.com and then go to House For Sale. It's at a bargain price of £199,950 now and it if was anywhere else in the country it would cost far more than that.
If you know of any reflexologists then this house comes with the option of continuing Colin's business. He has a list of almost 200 clients and he has never advertised so there is huge potential to expand.
This is a beautiful part of the world but I'm a townie at heart and it's time for us to move on. Can you help?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Relax!

When I was little I'd sometimes forget how to go to sleep. I remember lying in bed wondering how to do it. How do you go to sleep? And, of course, the more I worried the less likely I was to nod off.
And now to apply the same thing to writing. I'd been going through a bad time. My Mum and my writing mentor had died within weeks of each other and I stopped writing. I couldn't write and eventually convinced myself that I'd forgotten how. Just as once I'd forgotten how to go to sleep. How had I finally managed to sleep? I'd dropped off from exhaustion. Well, that wasn't going to work when it came to writing. How do I get to sleep now? I relax. I look forward to enjoying a good night's sleep. So the key words were Relax and Enjoy.
For the first time in several months I sat down to my keyboard and Relaxed. I told myself I was going to Enjoy writing something. Anything. A story was too much to think about. I'd just write for ten minutes on any subject. Suddenly sugar came into my head. So that's what I wrote about. And when I dried up after a few lines I began again with the same word. Sugar.
Try it if you get stuck. Ask someone to give you a word and then write about it. Set yourself a short time and relax and enjoy.

Sugar. It sits in wobbly cubes in a round white dish. Wobbly cubes of matt white and sandy brown. Tempting. (Then I got stuck so I began again.)

Sugar. The smell of sugar beet drifted over Kidderminster - a sure sign of rain to come. When the sugar campaign was on during late Autumn the lorries loaded with beet would queue outside the factory. Large woody mis-shapes to be magically turned into fairy dust icing sugar, fine grains of sweetness. (And again!)

Sugar. The sticky sweetness filled the warm air in the factory. It coated, invisibly, everything it touched. It touched my brother's hair. He'd go to work with it combed down straight and arrive home curly.

Try it now. Don't edit. Just relax, enjoy and write. Write down one of the following and keep at it for ten minutes. Pink. Custard. Roofs. Bear. Rock.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Be Inspired

I'm back at my desk after some time away in Malvern where the hills were the backdrop of the campsite we parked Win on. The skies were blue and the trees glowed with autumn reds and golds. Now I start my new-style blog and I'll begin with my favourite quote. It's from Moliere.

Writing is like prostitution,
First you do it for the love of it,
Then you do it for a few friends,
And finally you do it for the money.

So which line have you reached? And it's true, isn't it? Most of us start to write and keep it a secret, then perhaps we join a writing group and start sharing, or we pass our work to a loved one. And then some of us get the confidence or the urge to make a living, or at least some money, from writing. It's a natural progression.
The best thing is that we are then doing something we love. Just because we've reached the last line doesn't mean we've forgotten the second one. Aren't we the luckiest people? Our job, whether it be full or part-time as a writer, is something we love. How many workers can say that?
OK, I know it's hard to remember the love at times - when the going gets tough and rejections arrive, or we think we're blocked. But we get over it and we always go back to that love. A bit like marriage really! And I'll end with another quote. This one's mine from my Handy Little Book for Writers.
When the going gets tough, stop for chocolate - and then carry on.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Coming Soon - help for writers

Coming Soon - my brand new-style blog.
No longer will you hear stories about my personal life (well, maybe sometimes). Starting on Wednesday 21st October my blog will become a place of inspiration for writers. You will find tips, prompts, ideas, news, quotes and anything else I can think of to give writers and wannabes inspiration.
And if you have any questions about writing all you need to do is post a comment and I'll blog an answer within a few days.
I shall be blogging on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Make a note in your diary to join me. It's going to be fun.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Third Anniversary



It's three years today since Anita Loughrey wore red lipstick and sat holding hands with my husband!

The lipstick was courtesy of the lovely make-up ladies at the Dream Factory. Anita was there as my friend in the audience so, when it was my show - and none of us knew that it was going to be - they did her make-up for her.

I can't believe it's been three years since that day. Here is my official photo, taken after recording had stopped. If you think I look pretty manic it's because I was. Wouldn't you be after gambling between 10p and £75,000? And as I won the big money I'm allowed a silly grin.

People often ask if I have any regrets about not winning the quarter million. The only regret I have is wearing that awful sweater. Our clothes were handed out by wardrobe before each show. Well, you wouldn't want to be with eleven ladies all wailing, 'What am I going to wear?' I almost asked if I could change but thought no-one would notice me sat in the wings. And then my name was called out to play. That sweater went straight into a charity bag as soon as I got home.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

zest and verve and gusto

Yep! That's me. I'm overflowing with zest and verve this past week. The Muse has returned. I think she may have seen me reading, How To Keep and Feed A Muse. It's a chapter from Zen In the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury.
If I had to name a favourite author it would be Ray Bradbury. I love his fiction but this Zen book is on the shelf along with my other how-to-write books. This one, picked up ten days ago, reminded me to write with 'zest and gusto'. It got me going again. Inspired. Enthused.
I prefer verve to gusto. Verve sounds more feminine - like vivacious.
It must be wonderful to be able to write something like that first chapter, The Joy of Writing, which incidentally begins with the words - Zest. Gusto. The joy came off the page, hit me in the face, soaked into every pore of my being and I was reminded of just that - The Joy of Writing.
The enjoyment can be a fleeting thing. We get an acceptance or two and joy is there, in the same email or letter. We receive a rejection and it is joyless. Life gives us a kick, or several, and joy fades. Now, thanks to Ray, I am enjoying writing again.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Stick me to the seat

That's what writers need to do. Bum on seat and write. I need someone to force me onto that seat. The LSO does try but knows it's an impossible task. He'd sooner spin straw into gold. (I used that line in three stories which happened to come out in consecutive weeks and that was the first time I noticed the repetition. This is its first appearance on a blog.)
This week I have been stuck to my seat. Back pain meant I had to rest. My standing up time was only five minutes so there wasn't a lot I could do and leaving the house was out of the question. When I needed to sit, I really had to, whether it was bed, floor, stairs... Please don't feel sorry for me. I'm about to give my back a 40th anniversary. Part of my spine is in a jar in the living room and apart from a few years when I was cycling -non-load bearing exercise- I've been pretty idle in the exercise department.
This week has been brilliant. Unable to move about I've sat in my comfy chair at the keyboard and turned out four new stories and written up a couple of interviews. It reminded me of when I'd only had back problems for ten years and was complaining one day. My son, with 12 years of wisdom, said to me, 'Mum, if you didn't have a bad back, you wouldn't sit down long enough to write.'
That is so true. Perhaps, if my back pain goes sometime soon, I should pretend to the writer in me that it's still there and stick myself to this seat.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thoughts for the day

Yesterday I got my daily fix of Deal Or No Deal. I can't give it up, and there's no reason why I should, is there? It changed my life. The player was Vic who sounded just like Boycey from Only Fools and Horses. I've been waiting for his game. It was fun and he went away with £4,000. Such a shame he didn't get more but he remained cheerful and here are two quotes from Vic which I immediately wrote down.
You're never too old to have a new dream.
and
If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

writing through life




Finally, I do be blogging (excuse the Piratese, I can't seem to get out of talking like a pirate), about writing.
When my kids were little I wrote for My Weekly. They had a piece in each week about family life. It was humour and there was plenty of that in a family with a mother who wanted to be a famous writer, a son who wanted to win the Tour de France, a daughter who wanted to be a snooker player/musician/artist/anything-that-made-loads-of-money, and then there was the LSO who put up with all our dreams and went out to work every day to pay the mortgage, the bills and to feed and clothe us. He was the one with feet firmly on the ground while we had heads in the clouds.
A little later, when our son was riding as a semi-professional on the Continent, I wrote my first children's book (only children's book so far). It was, naturally, about cycle racing.
Once the kids had left home my short stories were about kids leaving home, then came stories about unsuitable boyfriends/girlfriends, weddings, and then grandchildren.
My writing subjects keep changing as I, and my life, change. And now I'm full circle and beginning to write for children again. This is because Dan loves reading and I'd love to write for him - my precious grandson who is going to look after me in my dotage because he is going to be a world class golfer and he will be buying me a red Jaguar.
So what's the picture about?
Over thirty years ago my son made me a 'don't-know-what'. It's a matchbox covered in material and stuck over with sequins. I still have it kept safely in my memory box.
The mummy above, because that's what it is, was made by Dan and I love it. Amazingly his mother was fine about parting with it so the mummy now sits on my desk. It is beautiful and something I shall treasure when I am in my dotage and driving around in my red Jag.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ahoy There, Me Hearties!

It do be Talk Like A Pirate Day and I 'ave a secret to be tellin 'e. I be the descendant of Blackbeard. He swashed, buckled, raped and pillaged on the seven seas, not bein' sure if he were Pirate or Viking, ye see. 'E were so villainous that it do be takin' fifteen thrusts of the cutlass afore he dropped to the deck and then 'is 'ead, it were chopped off an' overboard it went along of 'is body. An' crew, you know what, 'is body swam around the ship fer 'alf an 'our afore it sunk to Davey Jone's locker. An' that's the truth!
I go swashing, buckling an' scraping of the barnacles off the keyboard to be doin' today, an then it be bathin' the parrot and filin' his beak.
An' I awready be fed up with this and be goin' to check on the crew. That be you Julie P, Bos'n Teresa and Scurvy Simon.
As Bos'n T finished with a joke, ere be mine.
Cap'n - 'Where be me buccaneers?'
Cook - 'On your buccan head.'

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blame Mad Cap'n Tom

Today isn't Talk Like A Pirate Day. It's tomorrow. Mad Cap'n Tom made a mistake when he sent out his emails. If you don't believe there is a Mad Cap'n Tom, or you need a few tips on how to talk like a pirate or want to know what the hell is going on then see www.yarr.org.uk

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What day is it? Where am I?

Those are the questions I ask the LSO each morning when I wake. Normally I have trouble remembering what day it is but when we are away in Win I can never remember where we are either. And no wonder. So far we've been to Glastonbury, Chard, Charmouth, Plymouth, Veryan, Bude, Clovelly, Appledore, Tintagel, Boscastle and now for some reason we're at Minehead. We've visited National Trust properties, the Museum of Witchcraft (OK Simon, it was to pick up a few tips and recharge the broomstick!) and I've been researching Wrecking, Smuggling and pirating in readiness for Friday 18th when Bosun Teresa Ashby and yours truly, Cap'n 'Ackles will be blogging as pirates for Talk Like A Pirate Day. Do join us if you feel the urge to do a bit of swashbuckling. Several pieces of eight for the best blog, if I can find any pieces of eight. See you then.
And speaking of Teresa, she's been blogging rather a lot lately, about spiders. Horrible little critters -Oops, sorry, it's not Friday yet. We dropped our resident spider off somewhere in Devon. It had been living behind the wing mirror for several years and had accompanied us on all our travels. Now I bet there aren't that many spiders who can boast of being to Land's End, John O Groats and all places inbetween. Currently our little freeloader is making its way back to West Wales. Let's hope it gets squashed by a juggernaut before it gets as far as the M4. Just in case it doesn't I shall be building a barricade of conkers all around the house.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Whip-cracker

Yesterday I lost my mentor. Jean Currie died. I met Jean many years ago and she added me to her long list of writers to help. Jean had faith in me and when I told her I was about to start work in a dress shop she suggested I write a story a week instead, so I did and I made the same, or maybe more than I would have in a shop. I certainly enjoyed it more.
Over the years Jean has emailed me news of markets I had to write for, news of agents I had to write to, news of competitions I had to enter. She always encouraged me, was always there for me and I think she liked being called The Whip-cracker. I'm going to miss her.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I hate housework


I hate dusting, polishing, sweeping, the whole caboodle, but as a couple are coming to view the house on Saturday - it's for sale - it's having a spruce-up. The LSO tells me they're not going to buy it for the spotless bathroom or organised airing cupboard. He's probably right.
I usually have a blitz before we set off on an adventure because it's lovely to come home to a clean house. It'll be the estate agent showing the prospective buyers around as we'll be packing Win on Friday and driving off into the 'sunshine', if we can find it.
Win is short for Winnebago - at 21 feet ours is the smallest of the Winnebago family, a Rialta (pictured above). And Win because we bought her with my Deal Or No Deal Win (note the red on the side - that's a picture of my box, number 8). What I love about motorhoming is the freedom. We can go wherever we like and I don't have to fit everything into one suitcase. I can take whatever I want and there's always room for it. Including the laptop so I can keep blogging, check emails and maybe even write. Don't ask me where we are going because the answer I always give is, 'I don't know where we're going until I see where we've been.'
Watch this space!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Missing Bit


OK. Here's what you've been waiting for. A picture to prove that a bit of Colin's eyebrow went missing while he was asleep. He was very good about me painting an arrow pointing to the exact place. Because it took me a few days to find the camera the eyebrow had already started to grow back but I hope you can see that the bottom bit is nowhere near as thick as the top. Proof that weird things happen. They do when I'm around anyway.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Busy Doing Nothing

It's one of those times when I don't feel like writing anything new. My ink-sister, Glynis Scrivens, suggested sending out some old stories. We've both sent out stories that have been lurking in our files for several years, and we've both had some of them accepted. It sounded good to me. It was working without actually working, if you know what I mean.
While I was at it I decided to tidy up the files on my computer - delete stuff I no longer needed, move things around so that I could find them more easily next time they were needed. See? I'm working but not actually producing. And then up popped an article I'd written and sent off only once, and that was almost two years ago. How could it have been forgotten? And later I discovered an unpublished story hiding away in the wrong place. It should have been in the For Sale file. That was emailed off. Later still a little letter peeped out at me and I got hold of it and kicked it into the ether in the direction of Real People. Quite a productive day doing nothing really.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Spell Dish


Continuing the 'weird' theme today. Mind you, what constitutes as weird for some folk is perfectly natural everyday stuff to me.
I am going to take a picture of that missing bit of eyebrow but today's picture is of my spell dish. There are lots of friends in there. If anyone is sick I write their names on a heart-shaped piece of coloured paper and add it to the dish. The dish itself is green glass and I've placed a candle in the centre and then added pretty marbles, a few crystals and a lot of love. Every day I light the candle and spend a few moments sending healing thoughts to everyone whose name is in there.
Try it for yourselves. Even if you don't believe it works it can make you feel good about yourself for trying to help others. And who knows, you might be helping others too. I believe I am.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weird things happen

This morning my daughter told me she had been bitten by mozzies. The bites are in the shape of an equilateral triangle. Strange?
I was bitten by horseflies. I now have the Plough star constellation on my right leg.
And if those two don't impress you, how about this? The LSO woke up this morning and a section of his left eyebrow had been stolen during the night!
No pictures available at present. Sorry.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Weekly surprise


No, the picture doesn't have anything to do with the title. Couldn't resist posting it because it's me and Noel and it's coming up to three years since I visited the dream factory.

What I wanted to bang on about today is jumping through hoops - which I did in order to get on Deal Or No Deal. But today's hoops are My Weekly's. We all ask each other if the new guidelines are out yet, we seach womagwriter for the latest 'wants' from MW, we all try to remember to get the word count right and put the category on the outside of the envelope and then we all sit back and wait for six months to hear how we've done.

Well, last night I heard from a friend who rarely tackles short fiction and she told me, delightedly, that she'd had a story accepted by MW. I was impressed and asked her which type and length she'd gone for. She didn't know what I was on about. She'd never seen any guidelines. She'd simply written a story, shoved it in an envelope and sent it off. 'Didn't you write anything on the outside of the envelope?' I asked. 'No! Was I supposed to?' came her reply. And guess what, short fiction writers? She had an acceptance within a few days. So what do you all make of that then?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Swine Flu - the real symptoms


I don't know about any of you out there but I'm getting fed up with swine flu. If anyone as much as sneezes over some spilled pepper a know-all pops up and diagnoses swine flu. Mind you I did manage to get the shopping done in double quick time the other week. Colin sneezed so I shouted, 'He's been to Mexico,' and the aisle cleared quicker than if I'd have shouted 'Fire!' I was able to get to the Calippos, no problem. (I'm addicted)
So to help you all recognise the one foolproof symptom I've taken this photo. If you've really got swine flu then your trotters go green.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blog Takeover Day - 11 August 1795

As If I didn't have enough work to do! Now the Mistress has given me an extra job. She handed me two tiny beehive shapes, each the size of a good walnut. 'Empty them,' she says to me.
Well, I didn't see how that could be done and said as much.
'Use a button-hook,' she shouted and then gave me further instructions so this is what I have been doing, without knowing why.
Once the mess was removed, with the button hook, I had to melt some wax, add a little perfume and refill the beehives. Then I placed them in the larder to cool. Such a fiddly job. There is some talent in getting the wax to the right temperature so it's not too runny, yet not too solid either. I told you before how difficult the life of an upstairs made can be, didn't I?
Later when the hives were cold I carried them up to the Mistress's bedroom. And this is what made me giggle. I had dressed her hair and was about to button up her ball gown when she took the little brown beehives, decorated with tiny holes, and placed one in each armpit. Of course I had to ask what for.
She was in a good mood and here's what she said. 'As I dance and begin to glow the wax will melt and give off a perfume. You know that men and lice enjoy the scent of roses. It attracts both. The lice will run up my body, wriggle through the holes in these tiny objects and die a perfumed death as they become stuck in the wax.'
Oh, I did laugh. And then the Mistress joined me. Together we danced around the room and giggling, she whispered, 'By the time my beloved escorts me to the garden to embrace me his kisses will not be interrupted by me having to scratch.'
It was only after we had dried our tears of laughter that she told me the whole darned thing has to be repeated tomorrow. I have to dispose of waxy fleas with the button hook.
These flea catchers can be seen in a curio case at A La Ronde, twixt Exeter and Exmouth.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

photo acknowledgements

The picture of me with my mixing bowl, giving a lesson on the Ingredients Of Short Stories, was taken at a NAWG workshop in Durham by Susan Haniford.
The picture of me and Jane, on the panel at Caerleon was also taken by Susan.
The lazy cow was taken by Len Toms.

Hair and Whodunnit


To make sense of today's blog you'll need to read yesterday's.
First - matching wigs. Here's me and Jane. I decided to go the wig route when I came off HRT and my hair started falling out. I was in danger of looking like my own grandmother who, according to family legend, could get all her hair in two curlers. Now I never have a bad hair day! Leanne, my daughter, reckons my hair might grow again because of the Mushroom Method - my scalp is permanently in the dark so growth should be encouraged. Even if it grew back luxuriantly and red I'd stick to wigs now.
Next - who blocked my computer with a massive email attachment? Not telling. It wouldn't be nice. I've told him/her off and they've promised never to do it again. At least it wasn't a joke being sent. If it had been I would have named and shamed. I did however have to give up on this computer and take the laptop 8 miles before I found a mobile signal that didn't waver up and down, and it still took 45 minutes to download, by which time another 15 emails were blocked behind it. Complaining over! I'm off to do some real writing.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

crime of passion?

Some of you may know that I live Behind the Back of Beyond. Some of you may even remember that broadband hasn't reached me yet. But this morning someone has forgotten that and ever since 9am an email has been trying to worm its way through to me. It's wriggled halfway and then the server terminated the connection. Thrice! It's taking about two minutes for each one percent to crawl down the telephone line and I am going mad. If I had any hair I'd pull it out. Alopecia's put paid to that. I'll prove it tomorrow by posting a picture of me and Jane Wenham-Jones in matching wigs. I took two identical ones to Caerleon in case one got wet. You can't dry them with a hair dryer.
If this email fails again my only option is to take the laptop out in the car - I've a dongle on the laptop and it is set for broadband, so I'm told - and try it on that. If I drive uphill about a mile and a bit I can get a slow connection. If I go about five miles I'll get a decent one.
Now, my question is, if this email turns out to be someone sending me a stupid joke, will I be treated sympathetically by the courts if I kill them?

Friday, August 07, 2009


This is my Lazy Cow. I can't remember where I bought her but I do remember why. The LSO had called me that name after one of our rare arguments. (I was actually being very lazy at the time.) We were on holiday somewhere but I don't recall the location, and the very next day I saw this in a shop and bought it to show him what a lazy cow looks like. Now she sits on my desk and reminds me to get writing and not be a lazy cow.
Today though, I feel like one. I have EBS. Got that name from Susan Haniford who also went to Caerleon this year and reckons she's got it. Empty Battery Syndrome. After a week of late nights, non-stop chatter and input, input, input I returned home, worked like mad and am exhausted. Actually that's not lazy, is it?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Stressing about buttons

Last night the LSO showed me his new shirt. 'The buttons are all loose,' he said, holding it well away from me. 'And it's only been washed once.'
I once read somewhere that good wives always re-stitch the buttons when buying new shirts for their husbands. It might have been in the bound copies of 1940s Woman's Weeklies I have. Colin will be sewing his own back on. Why? Because I have a button phobia. Not a huge one these days. I used not to be able to touch buttons at all and always bought clothes without them. I didn't know where this phobia had come from until I visited a hypnotherapist and we delved into my past. I was in one of those deep relaxed states that I can often achieve when I'm supposed to be writing. He asked me about buttons and I saw my mother-in-law standing over me and my baby son. He was about five days old and we were leaving hospital. I was trying to dress him and, with my long fingernails, was having trouble with the teeny-tiny buttons on his matinee jacket. 'If you can't even dress him how do you think you're going to be able to look after him and keep him safe?' boomed the dreaded mother-in-law.
I didn't touch buttons after that but hadn't realised why until that scene was replayed in my mind. I was seventeen.
The hypnotherapist asked me to replace the child bride and teenage mother (he didn't actually use those words but I do all the time to explain why I have middle-aged kids) with me as I am now, then relive the scene. So I did and I can't print here what I told my mother-in-law to do.
Once out of my trance I was able to touch a button. I've recently bought a brilliant green Mac' with buttons and I can do it up and undo it with no problems. So what will happen if Colin's shirt buttons fall off. I'll remind him I still have a phobia about sewing.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Simply The Best

I'm on a Caerleon high. Writers' Holiday at Caerleon, near Newport, South Wales was held last week and it always inspires me. The first half of the week I was teaching 'Writing For Money' and I felt a bit of a fraud because I haven't made much at all this year. My excuse? Let's say a bereavement and leave it at that. Hopefully I inspired my class and I tried to listen to what I was saying so that I could inspire myself too.
Second half of the week I went to Simon Whaley's class on Writing Features and Travel Articles and I came home buzzing with ideas, and I am going to get down to them. I am!
Inbetween I made new best friends of Katie Fforde and Sophie King, caught up with loads of old friends I only see once a year, sat in on a panel which included Simon, Kate Walker (M&B) and Stephen Wade. Oh, and Jane Wenham-Jones, or was that me? We both wore identical wigs and dressed in orange and swapped identities for the afternoon while the audience asked us questions. Teresa Chris, the agent, was there, a.k.a The Fearsome One. Lucy Mangan from The Guardian. Ray Allen of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. Too many to mention. Everyone is lovely at Caerleon where we are told to leave our troubles at the gate - and we do.
Thursday evening we were entertained by the Cwm Bach Male Voice Choir who, after their official performance, continued in the bar where Jane WJ danced on the pool table. I keep telling her that she'll fall off and break her hip one of these years and dancing with a zimmer frame as a partner is not a good look.
If I've whet your appetite then take a look at www.writersholiday.net. You could come next year and be my new best friends.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Seventy Seven Apologies

I am being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century and its horrible technology. Anita Loughrey and my daughter, Leanne Williams, are doing the dragging and I don't like it. There again I didn't like computers for a long time and I only like mine now when it does what I want it to, which makes it rather like my kids.
This afternoon the LSO (Long Suffering One) is standing behind me, arms folded, looking very determined. Yes, he's determined that I shall write something on this blog. 'You've had 77 people look at this and see absolutely nothing,' he shouted.
Apologies to all 77 of you. I shall endeavour to pacify you all and write things but for now that's all. I'll tell you about Writers' Holiday, Caerleon tomorrow. Incredibly it's just stopped raining and I am about to go out for some Fresh Air. Sod that Gulf Stream getting lost.