Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Very Inspiring Blogger! Moi!?

I've always considered my blog as rambling, not inspiring so thanks to Simon  Whaley for passing on this award. I don't usually bother taking awards but it's Boxing Day and we are all flopping about doing nothing so why don't I try to come up with 7 reasons why I started writing.

Here goes.
1. I had two brothers, both younger than me and I made up stories for them.
2. I was good at 'composition' at junior school and my teachers encouraged and had faith in me. Thank you Miss Duignan, Miss Tipper and Mr Hymas.

3. My writing wasn't appreciated at Grammar School so it got more daring, just to piss off the teachers. They'd be the late Miss Davies and Miss Renwick.
4. I had to stay in bed for a year because that's how bad backs were treated then. I would lie there and make up stories and the kids would bring all their friends to the bedroom to hear stories.

5. I got back on my feet and wrote a children's book, thinking I'd get a book deal and have Walt Disney on the phone.
6. I started writing with markets in mind and had work accepted. The extra money paid for treats and sometimes covered the gas bill.

7. I reached a certain age and decided to go for it, full-time, and I've never regretted that decision. Thank you to all the friends and family (especially the LSO)who supported me along the way.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Having a laugh


Have you heard the one about the writer who ordered a book from Amazon and it arrived wrapped in ten feet of paper? It's true. I saw it on Book2Book today and for a second my heart flipped.
Why? Because that could have been me, using all that paper. I've had many boring jobs in my life and I've always tried to bring a bit of fun to them. I used to drop wrapped sweets into parcels I packed. I once cut off the bottoms of dozens of brown paper bags so that I could watch the other staff pack goods and see them fall to the floor. (You wouldn't want to employ me!) And I can just imagine me wrapping a skinny little book in several  yards of brown paper and then shoving it into a rather large box.

I am unemployable. That's why I'm a writer. I don't earn a fat lot but I do pay tax. Unlike Amazon.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Something in common with SPOTY


Out of the first year's money I made at writing, many moons ago, I bought myself a bicycle. Not any old bike. Mine was hand-built, made-to-measure, weighed less than my handbag and was sprayed to match my nail varnish. I used it to time-trail and to go for 100 mile rides each Sunday. My son raced and ended up as a semi-professional on the Continent. My daughter raced because she discovered that the cycling club was made up of dozens of good looking boys. The LSO raced too.

These days my bike hangs in the shed but I still go out to races as the LSO (Long Suffering One - husband) is a British Cycling Commissaire. That's referee to you.

Last night we voted, naturally, for Bradley Wiggins as BBC's Sports Personality of The Year. (SPOTY). Bradley's achievements this year are phenomenal. He has a great sense of humour. Gone are his sideburns. He now sports a haircut that makes him look as if he's gone back to the Sixties and is a member of The Small Faces.

No-one knows what Bradley will say when he gets a microphone in his hand and last night was no exception. He thanked his team and his Gran. 'Nan, the cheque’s in the post because you pressed redial God knows how many times!' he said.

Bradley and I have Frivolous in common (see earlier post) so I get it when he said, 'I’m just going to say thank you to everyone who picked the phone up and voted. We’ve had all that jungle stuff and the X Factor in the last couple of weeks so for people to pick up the phone and pay to vote, thanks.' He wasn't being disrespectful as some online comments suggest. He was being Wiggo. He definitely has the P in SPOTY.

 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What do you do...

What do you do when the builders are in and the kitchen is out of bounds? The door to it is closed and sealed with a dust-sheet while part of the wall is knocked out ready for a steel beam to be put in, prior to the whole wall being knocked out in order to extend the kitchen.
What I do is get hungry. There's no way I can get near the biscuit tin, or the cake tin or the chocolate tin. Why didn't I think of moving them first thing this morning? I can't make tea or toast.
So, what do I do? I sit in my writing room and work. I've cleared my desk, balanced the banking, found some writers to interview, answered some queries from another writer and polished a short story. I really deserve chocolate.

Monday, December 10, 2012

And now for something completely different...


...to my last post, is what I mean.
Today I'm doing frivolous.
Flippant is another word that comes to mind. Both used to appear regularly on my school report. I believe the way to stay sane is not to take life too seriously. As a good friend used to say, 'How can humans be serious when they have feet?' Go on, take your socks off and check them out.
A lot of people were losing the plot in the queue at the Post Office. It was a long queue and it was one day past the last day for posting cards overseas. I didn’t tut, give loud sighs or complain to everyone within hearing distance. I found something frivolous with which to amuse myself. We were all lined up by the shelves laden with cheap Xmas toys so I wound up three clockwork robots and raced them along the shelf. Once I was bored with that, I checked out the mini-kaleidoscopes. I was about to prise open a jigsaw puzzle when the LSO stepped in and stopped me.

I know that I p***ed off a few in the queue but others managed a smile. And me? I got a story out of the whole time-consuming expedition.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Uganda's 'Kill The Gays' Bill

In a matter of days Uganda's parliament is set to pass the so-called "Kill the Gays" bill, which could enshrine in law the death penalty for LGBT people.
Activists in Uganda say that one way to stop this is by putting pressure on banks with large resources in the country to condemn the bill. Barclays and Citibank both have millions of pounds invested in Uganda and wield a huge influence on the government.

Please join me and sign this petition on Change.org asking Barclays and Citibank to condemn the "Kill the Gays" bill.

Thank you,

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

I deserve a good lunch

I've finished proof reading my new book and managed (I think) to upload it to the publisher's wesbite. It should be out within a few months. I'll be sure to let you know when, and it has the inspiring title of Handy Hints For Writers.
It's written in bite-sized pieces and is a collection of all the useful information I've collected, or learned, over many years of selling words. And, of course, I couldn't resist a bit of humour. It'll turn up as one of the Compass Point books, published by John Hunt.
And now I've told you that I'm off to have a lovely Italian meal with my friends, Literary Ladies Wot Lunch.
Bye.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Some things never change


You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God, the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there's no occasion to.

HUMBERT WOLFE 1885-1940

Monday, November 26, 2012

Television appearances


You're probably fed up with hearing about me and my television appearance, and big win, on Deal or No Deal so I won't mention it (even though it was six years ago last Tuesday). Instead I'll tell you that DOUGLAS McPHERSON IS ON TV TONIGHT.
Viewers in the East of England will be able to see Douglas, Writer's Forum columnist, on TV this evening (Monday 26, November) talking about the past and future of animals in the circus.

It's a subject Douglas researched extensively in his book, Circus Mania, which is now available on Kindle (link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Circus-Mania-Ultimate-Dreamed-ebook/dp/B0095TD090/ref=tmm_kin_title_0 ).
The programme is an Inside Out East special at 7.30pm on BBC1 in East Anglia. It can also be seen on the BBC iPlayer for the next seven days.

 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Glynis Scrivens,guest blogger and cyber-sister


Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions about your writing life, Sis. How long have you been writing?
When I was a child, my sisters and I would write short skits to perform at our annual Christmas show at home, when my uncle and aunt visited from Sydney.
Then at high school, I wrote essays, poems and stories for the school magazine but it was when I turned fifty that I actually gave myself permission to be a writer.
When and where did you get your first acceptance?
My first acceptance was a story in Australia’s Woman’s Day magazine. Fiction editor, Julie Redlich had a policy of encouraging and fostering new writers, for which I am very grateful. This was in 2001.
Did you ever imagine you would sell so many short stories, especially last year when you sold how many?
Every year I’ve simply aimed to do better than the previous year. This has meant finding new markets, learning how to adapt stories for overseas magazines, and learning to take rejections on the chin (Still working on that one). Last year I was lucky enough to sell 57 stories. I believe there’s always an element of luck involved – quite a few of these had previously been rejected.
And you write articles for Writers’ Forum. How did that come about and would you say you had a USP?
I was fortunate to have Jean Currie as my mentor in the early days. She suggested I send a piece to Writers’ Forum when Carl Styants took over as editor. He accepted it half an hour after it hit his inbox. Before I could sit on my laurels, Jean said, ‘What are you going to send him next?’ Now I’m still always thinking of what to send him next.
Being an Australian writer gives me an opportunity to provide local market info not easily obtained in the UK.
What about steam trains? I’ve seen an article of yours in a steam magazine. It seems a bit of a leap from womag to steam. How did that happen?
Flying Scotsman was brought to Australia by ship for our Bicentennial celebrations in 1988. Like many Australians, I loved watching it steaming through our local railway tunnels. Then by chance, years later, I met the English driver, who now lives in Brisbane. I knew immediately that his anecdotes about those months in Australia needed to be written down. It was fascinating stuff. And he’s a photographer, so there was no shortage of illustrations. It took me two years to find a home for my article. I started with the women’s magazines, but of course, the story I wanted to tell was a man’s story. It found a home in Steam Railway. My challenge for 2013 is to work out how to turn this piece into an ebook. There’ll be lots of extra photos and new material – and a steep learning curve for me.
Would you like to come to the UK and visit some writing friends here?
Is that really a question? There are few things I’d enjoy more. It’d need to be in your summer, of course – and I’d love to go to Writers' Holiday at Caerleon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Introducing Cedric


In the first paragraph of a short story, or on the first page of a novel you have a hook which draws readers in. It keeps them reading. I tried the same technique on my blog by referring to Cedric. And, as you all wanted to know who he is I'll tell you.
When my brother, Phil, was six years old he bought Cedric from a jumble sale. (My brother is now approaching sixty.) I don't know what he paid but he sold Cedric to me for sixpence (old money) and Phil never did anything, even at that tender age, without making a profit.

Cedric was an ornament for many years but one day, after I'd read a book about decluttering and set about  doing some, I realised that Cedric was neither beautiful nor useful and, according to the rules, would have to go. I took another look at him, his slender neck, his poor broken beak. I thought of the many years we'd spent together and decided to keep him. All I needed to do was find him a job and he'd become useful . Guess what he became really good at?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Some writing tools


I've been having a look around to see if I could find something to amuse you and I came up with this.

I bought this golden slipper from a junk/antique shop. 'What do you want that for?' asked the LSO. I didn't really know at the time but now it's proving useful as a pen holder on my desk.
And what are these? A couple of useful tools. The green pointing finger is a pen and it lights up in the dark so no more scrawling notes in the pitch blackness. And no, that's not a feather. It's a keyboard cleaner.

And those of you with sharp sight will note that in the background is a pebble. It was given to me by my good friend, Sue Johnson, and on it, in gold, it says Magic Happens.

Perhaps I'll show you Cedric soon. I've had him a very long time and he's very useful.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Cinderella's Big Night


If the names Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and Brad Paisley mean anything to you, you’ll know that tonight (November 1) is country music’s biggest night, the occasion of the 46th annual CMA Awards, which are Nashville’s equivalent of the Oscars. It’s also the night Julia Douglas has chosen to launch her new ebook, Nashville Cinderella, so I thought I’d pull on my line dancing boots, say howdy and ask her a few questions.
So, Julia, what’s Nashville Cinderella all about?

“Well, it’s a Cinderella story set in Nashville! Cindy is a singing waitress working in a retro-themed diner in the heart of Music City while dreaming of finding love and fame as a country star. The short order cook is her Buttons figure and Prince Charming is her vintage suit-wearing, 1957 Chevrolet-driving manager Hank. But can he get her to the ball, or in this case the CMA Awards?”

Why did you choose Nashville as a setting?

“I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that absolutely everyone in Nashville is trying to be a singer or songwriter while holding down jobs as secretaries and waitresses. As one of the characters says in the book, if you want to meet a great singer in Nashville, just shout, ‘Waiter!’ They all know and support each other, so I wanted to write about a group of friends in that situation, their efforts to make the big time - and all their romantic ups and downs, of course!”

Have you met many country stars in real life?

“The most memorable would have to be Dolly Parton, who was exactly as you’d expect her to be. I’ve heard from other singers that she never stops being Dolly. Even at rehearsals and recording sessions she’s always in full wig and rhinestones. As a bit of fun for country fans, I actually wrote a walk-on part for Dolly in Nashville Cinderella, and there are a few other real life country stars in there that the fans should have fun spotting.”

Where can readers buy Nashville Cinderella?

“It’s available to download from all the major digital platforms such as Amazon and iBookstore, so if you’re annoyed that the BBC don’t broadcast the CMA awards in the UK, you can console yourself by downloading a little bit of Nashville life instead!”

 

Friday, October 26, 2012

OTT celebrations

I finished my book of tips for writers and thought I deserved a treat.
On Tuesday I had vegetable filled pasta parcels in a rich tomato sauce, followed by ground almond and polenta cake topped with caramelised pears and marscapone cream. No wine. I rarely drink alcohol. This meal was taken at Puccini's in Worcester with the other members of LLWL - Literary Ladies Wot Lunch. A group of friends who all write professionally and all on different genres.
Today I spent the morning with a friend from schooldays and this afternoon was Betty's Book Club. We discuss the book we've read for half an hour, or even longer, and then it turns into something similar to Loose Women.
Time to get back to work now. And here's something to look forward to. A guest blogger. On 1st November the fragrant Julia Douglas will be here discussing her new book.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Nothing to do with writing


One tiny problem I have when going away is where do I put my hair at night? A wig stand is bulky to pack. I found the perfect solution at the last place we stayed. I turned a little dog into a friendly lion.
 
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Your book is conspicuous by its absence


Those are the words my editor sent me in an email. They will remain with me for ever and should really be the title of a book.  ‘Your book is conspicuous by its absence’ was a real hefty kick up the backside and now it’s done. It stopped me faffing about and made me get down to work. I say it's done. I mean the first draft. Now comes the lovely bit. The polishing tweaking, changing it to get it as good as I can.
And I’ll let you know what it’s called when I’ve decided. And I’ll let you know when it appears.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Not our car!

Betty, born and bred in Yorkshire, reckoned it was God’s Own County we were taking a holiday in. We spent last week in Yorkshire and Betty had it wrong. It was God’s Own Swimming Pool.

Our holiday cottage was set on a hill. Lucky for us. We had fantastic views of floodwater where the roads and fields should be. And each day we watched as the island a JCB was parked on grew smaller and smaller. Then the waters receded.
Did I stop us from enjoying ourselves? No! We’d tackled floods before and drove through most, exploring the beautiful Dales. And, as if we hadn’t had enough water, we spent our final day of the holiday on a canal boat.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I'm H..A..P..P..Y


Anita Loughrey has been staying with me for a couple of days. Our throats are sore from so much talking. www.anitaloughrey.com
Anita’s timing was good. She chose the week that a group of local writers meet up for lunch. We go to Puccini’s in Friar Street, Worcester where the food is excellent, the staff are brilliant and the vanilla-pod icecream with hot chocolate fudge sauce is addictive.

We are a mixed bunch, including several novelists, a writer of Westerns, a writer of M&B Regency romance, an educational writer, playwright and short story writers. And me. We may mention what we are working on, we might ask for help but mostly we chat and laugh and have a great time.
After those eight years in West Wales, it’s wonderful to be back home,  among friends and fellow writers and always with the Malvern Hills in the background.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

We met at The Boston Tea Party

We met at The Boston Tea Party. No, it’s not a title for a novel. There’s a café with that name in Worcester and that’s where I arranged to meet Abigail Williams. www.abbywilliamsfreelancewriter.com  I told her I’d be carrying a lime green handbag and thought about the rolled up Times (I’d use Take A Break) and a pink carnation (don’t do pink). I left it at the bag. We had a wonderful time. Non-stop chat. And I’ve found a lovely new friend.

Wonderful Wednesday continued when I got home to find a copy of That’s Life! Fast Fiction on the mat. How lovely of Anthony, the editor, to include a signed compliment slip. And lovely to see so many friends in the magazine – cyber-sister Glynis Scrivens, Doug McPherson, Diane Fordham, and I’d include the rest of you but it would mean getting up and going downstairs to find FF.
So how did I continue this lovely day? I visited Betty who’d bought some ‘hair string’ from a shopping channel. You rubbed this cream between your palms, pulled your hands apart slowly et  voila ‘hair string’ appeared and then had to be gently rubbed into Betty’s hair. By the time I’d finished she looked like Dolly Parton (from the neck up). We congratulated ourselves and went for a cuppa, and as we drank it I watched her bouffant slowly sink. And we topped our teacups up with tears of laughter.

As you can probably tell by now my favourite word of the day is Lovely!  So I’ll end on another lovely offer. If you enjoyed or are enjoying Jane Jackson’s A Place of Birds then you can download The Iron Road which is free for four days from today. Then The Eye of the Wind is free from 19th to 23rd September. Go on. Be lovely and tell your friends.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Red tomatoes help you write


The phone rings. It’s Betty. ‘I hope I haven’t disturbed you,’ she says. She’s a writer too (Elizabeth Moulder whose stories will have made you laugh out loud if you read them in Woman’s Weekly.)
‘You’re not writing, are you?’she asks.
     ‘No. I’m in-between Pomodoras,’ I tell her.
     ‘Beep, beep,’ says Betty. ‘What the hell is a Pomowotsit?’
     ‘It’s Italian for tomato,’ I tell her. ‘I’ve got a red plastic one. A kitchen timer thingy and I set it for 25 minutes and have to work for that time. Then I get a five minute break. You’ve caught me on my break.’
     ‘And does it work, this stop/start method?’
     ‘It’s working for me at the moment. Not too sure if I was writing a novel and got in the flow.’
     I don’ tell her that I read about this method and stopped working until I had my kitchen timer. The LSO went in search of one but could only find white. It had to be a red tomato and, a few days later, we found one in one of those cheapo warehouse places.
     If you want to know about the Pomodora Method, Google it. There’s a 45 page book on how to do it which is a helluva lot of pages to say work for 25 minutes, then have a break for five. It’s interesting though and free to download.
     I’m not just a butterfly writer, flitting from one subject to another. I’m a butterfly worker, happy to try out any new methods I chance upon.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Jane Jackson, my guest


I love Cornwall, Cornish cream, Cornish history I’m a fan of author, Jane Jackson.  Jane makes Cornish history come alive in her books. I have asked her to be a guest on my blog, so here she is.
Ladies and Gentlemen, (imagine trumpet fanfare here) allow me to introduce the talented, gorgeous and kind Jane Jackson. She also has a free gift for you. Told you she was kind, didn’t I?

 Hi everyone. It's a real pleasure to have this opportunity to talk about the source of my inspiration – Cornwall. I live in a village at the head of a creek that flows out into the third largest natural harbour in the world. As children we used to go blackberrying in an old stone quarry half a mile along the creek. We swam off the shingle beach along from what was then a working dockyard dating back to Nelson's time, but is now a yacht marina. After our swim we would build a fire from driftwood and cook dampers made from flour and water wrapped round a twig then stuffed with jam. In late autumn we went to the woods and collected chestnuts, opening the cases with our feet to avoid the prickles.
The village is surrounded by footpaths across farmland, through woods, beside the creek and around the coast to Flushing. I do a lot of my plotting while walking paths that have existed for hundreds of years.
Though Flushing was where many of the captains chose to live, Falmouth – across the river - was the base for the first packet service. These ships carried mail to every corner of the world, dispatches to theatres of war, and ransom money to free the wives and daughters of merchants captured by Algerian pirates. They brought back bullion from sugar plantations in Jamaica and silver mines in South America. The roles of the packet ships feature in Dangerous Waters and Tide of Fortune. In Eye of the Wind, a boatyard building a packet ship, and the woods supplying the timber, are background to a story of espionage, treachery, courage and love.
Of my 27 published books, 16 have either been set in Cornwall, or the story has started there before events send the characters on a journey both physical and emotional.
When people think of Cornwall's history they often think of tin mining and fishing. I have never used tin mining as a background. Because other authors have done so to excellent effect, I chose to explore different backgrounds and settings: Cargo broking; C19th medicine; building a railway; granite quarrying; ship-building; woodland management; packet ship (1) carrying ransom money to Tangier; packet ship (2) work of a ship's doctor; work of a local justice; smuggling; port development.
I'm thrilled that my books are now available on Kindle and other ebook readers. Accent Press has already published ebook editions of Dangerous Waters and A Place of Birds. Eye of the Wind (shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award) The Iron Road and Tide of Fortune will follow over the next few days.
From Sept 9th to 13th A Place of Birds will be free of charge so why not download it?
I hope to have my latest historical romance, Winds of Change, finished before Christmas as the next story is already bubbling in my head demanding to be told.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Post NAWG Festival


I must be getting old. It’s that or the HRT isn’t working properly because after one night at the NAWG Festival in Nottingham I returned home exhausted.
It was a good weekend and I’m sorry I didn’t get to spend more time there. An awful lot of work is done by very few people in order to keep the festival going and, year on year, it seems to improve. Even when you think it can’t get better.

I was there for the Gala dinner where the prizes were presented to the winners of the NAWG competitions. These are always free to enter and you’ll find information on the website. www.nawg.co.uk
After the prize presentation Jane Wenham-Jones took to the stage – her natural habitat – and entertained the audience. Then we all retired to the reception area where everyone was given a chance to sparkle for four minutes. Even the total newbies had a go and, I think, were pleased with the reception their work received. Finally I sloped off to bed, just after midnight. An early bird. So many of the others stayed up and Steve Bowkett must have a portrait in his attic because no way should he have looked so bushy-tailed the next morning after partying until after 3am.

If you belong to a writers’ group and they don’t belong to NAWG, ask them why? It’s a good organisation to be part of. I’ve always thought writers groups should get together more often.
And now I’ll shut up but leave you with the promise of a few guest bloggers arriving here in the very near future. First up is Jane Jackson. Watch this space.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Lynne's little piggie


One Big Sleep and I’m off to the NAWG Festival at Nottingham. I would have liked to have gone for the whole weekend but couldn’t manage it this time.
I may have to go barefoot. I split my little toe-nail – I don’t know how but it’s from top to bottom and it keeps bleeding.  All say Aaaah! I’m one of those squeamish people who can pass out at the sight of blood. Fortunately the LSO is made of sterner stuff. He’s checked my toe, pronounced it nasty – at which I had a fit of the vapours – and then informed me amputation is unlikely. That word, amputation, meant I had to lie down for half an hour and drink lots of tea for the shock. The LSO bandaged my toe, without an anaesthetic , until it was twice its normal size and won’t squeeze into any of my gorgeous shoes.
The weird thing is that I tried on some glorious boots in a sale and said I’d need to lop off my little toes to make them fit. (Be careful what you say. The Universe is listening.) And then Betty was telling me about the original Cinderella story where the ugly sisters cut off their toes so that the fur slipper fitted. Yes, it was fur, not glass.

Did anyone tell you that limping in stilettos is the new look?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Go on. Take it!

I’m feeling a bit of a fraud here because I was in a very uncreative mood and couldn’t think what to blog about when this award arrived via Susanjanejones’s blog. I’m supposed to pass the award on to six other blogs but I think it’s done the rounds by now so if anyone hasn’t had the award and you’re sensible enough to visit my blog then you deserve it! Go on, take it!
Now I have to tell you ten things about myself.
1.       I’m with Jane Wenham-Jones when it comes to writing. If you can use your own life instead of doing any research it makes things a whole lot easier. You can read about Jane’s opinions on research, and see a picture of her in the altogether, in the new Writers’ Forum in an article written by my friend, Anita Loughrey.
2.       This week I’ve read a children’s book, pre-teens, Racing Start by Lynne Hackles. It’s the first time I’ve ever actually read the book. It was published in 1991.
3.       In the past few weeks I’ve been asked by two different people to sign their copy of Racing Start. This is probably because I’ve been going out to cycle races, on the track and a closed circuit and I’ve been going because this summer the LSO became a commissaire for British Cycling. I’m so proud of him.
4.       At this very moment I’m pretending to be working whilst the LSO (Long Suffering One) is painting the living room. I’m updating Racing Start.
5.       I’ve got to hurry this because I missed Stargate last Saturday night and need to catch up and it’s on in 25 minutes.
6.       Currently, I’m working on two books at the same time. One I have a contract for.
7.       That one with the contract – it said to be delivered in two years so I’ve spent eighteen months doing nothing and am now beginning to panic.
8.       I found a beautiful white feather in the garden. It’s now on my desk and I use it to clean my keyboard.
9.       I often clean my keyboard when I’m stuck with the writing.
10.   Yesterday I saw a static home for sale and had this crazy idea about buying it and living there and selling all our belongings. It’s a good job the LSO has his feet firmly on the ground.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fancy a weekend away?


I’ve just been over to www.janewenhamjones.wordpress.co.uk to check out what my mate’s been doing. Not a lot, as usual. Apart from promoting herself – something I’ve spent the afternoon doing by emailing loads of writing groups and anyone else I can think of who might like to listen to me going on about how to write.
Back to Jane. She has a clever thingy on her blog which is counting down the days to the NAWG Festival. In case anyone doesn’t know NAWG stands for National Association of Writing Groups. This year’s festival is in Nottingham and I am going to be there at some time over the weekend together with Jane who is the speaker on Saturday night.

There’s still time to join us. For all the details of the festival – tutors, speakers etc. go to www.nawg.co.uk
Only joking about Jane not doing a lot.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Four Writing Rainbows

1.       Yesterday I received a copy of Life-Writes by Suzanne Ruthven. Suzanne had sent me one because she mentions me in it. Not only does she quote me at the beginning of one chapter but she also mentions my books, Writing From Life and Ghostwriting. Aren’t writers generous?
2.       An email from Athens. A stranger called Sonia contacted me via my website to say how Writing From Life had inspired her. Aren’t writers kind?
3.       Lunch at Puccini’s with six other writers. Wonderful food, great company, non-stop talk. Aren’t writers noisy?
4.       A young man approached me asking if I would sign a copy of Racing Start. It’s been in his family for twenty years! Aren’t readers amazing?

Monday, August 06, 2012

Word verification OFF

Thanks to Patsy Collins for her blog about word verification and her instructions on how to get rid of it. I've been wanting to know how to do that for ages but keep forgetting to ask those who may know how.
I was told that I needed it so that only Real People could comment on my blog. Now that it is no longer there maybe I'll get some Unreal People comenting.
Now that could be interesting!

Friday, August 03, 2012

And it's time to go

The funny thing about Caerleon is you never want it to end and then, by Thursday night, you realise another night would be way beyond your capability. I always feel sorry for the tutors on a Friday morning because half the class are suffering from hangovers. Not me. I rarely drink. But I was reaching the point of total exhaustion. However, it was off to class where I wrote down my five aims for the future and then spent a happy ten minutes or so drawing Olympic rings and colouring them in, then adding my aims into each. And the reward was a gold medal. You can see me and the rest of the class holding up our medals if you visit the FaceBook page for Writers’ Holiday.

It’s always a bit upsetting, kissing and hugging everyone goodbye on Friday lunchtime. It would have been unbearable if this had been the last ever Writers’ Holiday but it’s not. Gerry and Anne have managed to organise another for 2013. If this had been the last we would have ended the hottest week of the year in a deluge of salty tears.
After 12 hours sleep I was raring to get going and did so for a couple of days before hitting a brick wall. I’ve had to have a couple of days resting but I’m ready to go again now and earn that medal.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Hot Thursday

Two more sessions with Solange and I was motivated and a bit hyper so told the class what my aim was and invited them all to email me and ask how I was getting on.

After lunch I was on The 2012 Panel Of Speakers, together with Simon Whaley, Kate Walker, Stephen Wade, Brad Ashton, Alison and Malcolm Chisolm and Irene Yates. Jane Wenham-Jones fielded the questions from the audience and it was a fun hour with serious and funny questions.
We all then had a couple of hours to rest and prepare for the final evening which is always a concert by the Cwmbach Male Voice Choir. This year it was so hot I chickened out as I reached the door to the theatre and opted to sit in the little courtyard garden to listen. Had a lovely chat with the kitchen staff who had come out for a break. They are all lovely and were great supporters when I was on Deal Or No Deal. I had to send them a postcard to let them know what date my show was so they didn’t miss it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

What happened Wednesday?

What happened Wednesday? My tutoring stint came to an end. I was exhausted (after giving my all) and decided to go back to my room and do some work on my book for the rest of the morning but men were working outside, it was hot, I was tired… all excuses. What I really needed was some motivation so I went along to Make It Happen In 2012! Solange Hando led this course and she was inspirational. Since arriving home I have worked harder than I’ve ever done, and more methodically, thanks to Solange.

Wednesday afternoons are always quiet on campus because many delegates choose to go off on one of the three coach excursions. I stayed home and went to sleep. Correction. Had a power nap. The after dinner speaker was Jane Wenham-Jones, yet another lovely friend. I have so many since I’ve been going to Writers’ Holiday. Her talk, as always, was hilarious – A Strange Way to Make A Living – The highs and lows of writing today.  

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A week ago today...(Tues)

My lovely friend, the poet, James Nash and I felt much more relaxed as our first two teaching sessions had gone well. I even treated myself to a vegetarian cooked breakfast and I hardly ever eat anything other than cereals.

In the early afternoon, Steve Bowkett made me cry. He was the after lunch speaker and his story of a wayward schoolboy was a tear-jerker. Won’t tell it here because Steve may want to use it again. Then it was back to the flat for a rest but I decided to explore a corner of the campus unknown to me and ended up spending a half hour sitting by the allotments watching the beans grow, the bees buzz around their red flowers, and simply being quiet. Not easy when so many writers are all out to enjoy themselves.
The main event of the evening was my lovely friend, Val Webster, who is an expert on dance from the past. She had worked really hard to research medieval times – do you know anything about the Sumptoury Laws? – and the dances performed at that time. She deserves a medal, together with her two friends who turned up to assist her. The three of them danced in heavy velvet medieval costumes when the highest temperature in Wales being recorded outside and they were in a packed theatre where temperatures were verging on unbearable for me in a sundress.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A week ago today...

A week ago today I began my course at Caerleon. I was tutoring on the subject of Butterfly Writing, flitting from one subject to another and, during the two hours on Monday morning, we covered picture books, greetings cards, local interest books and articles, and a few other things which I can’t remember. It was a long week of late nights and early mornings and my brain’s not yet back to what passes for normal.

Sunday night had been a late one, after the opening speaker, Simon Whaley, had hurled chocolate coins at us and then joined in with our group of six for the fun quiz set by Helen Yendall and Christine Cherry.
Back to Monday and the after lunch speaker was Stephen Wade – My writing life from rhymes to crimes. There were some great afternoon sessions but I opted out of those and went for a rest instead and then it’s dinner and the evening’s main speaker, my mate, Irene Yates who hasn’t got a website, doesn’t do FaceBook, can’t blow her own trumpet so I’ll do it for her. Irene has written more than 300 books. ‘Mostly educational,’ she always adds, s if those don’t count. She was a teacher, is an expert in literacy and language, spent time working for the BBC, has written for radio etc. etc. You may have seen her name in Woman’s Weekly where her stories are so often real tear-jerkers.

And then it was back to our flatlet of five rooms which held me, Irene, Paula Williams, Trish Maw and Jane Wenham-Jones, where we all sat in the communal kitchen, drinking wine or cocoa, according to taste (I am almost tee-total) and putting the writing world to rights. Oh, and eating more chocolate.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Stating the bleeding obvious

Why do so many television adverts and reporters and commentators state the bleeding obvious?
Here are a few examples.
It is what it is.
She wants what she wants.
Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
If they miss it, they miss it.
The talking point of the day is the talking point of the day.
I’ve heard all of these during the last few days.

And while I’m criticising this stupid waste of breath allow me to add what ‘Doing a Murray’ means in our house. Remember Murray Walker? He used to tell us what the Formula 1 drivers were thinking and now lots of commentators do this. They are supposed to be sports commentators not clairvoyants.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Messages from the Universe

Yes, really. I do receive messages from the Universe. Every weekday. If you'd like to receive them too then pop along to www.tut.com and sign up for them. They're a great way to start the day and remind me to be positive or give me something to think about.
The one below arrived a few days ago and I fell in love with the sunshine, a cup of tea in the garden and a smiley blue flower that had burst forth from a mysterious dark bluey-grey pod.
And next week I know I'll be in love with Writers Holiday, Caerleon.

If you can fall in love with just one thing about him, her, them, it, or you, Lynne , just once a day, and speak it aloud, you'll be surprised at how quickly this will transform your entire life.
I love that look on your face when the coin drops -
The Universe
"Them" and "it" sounded a lot better than "Oreos" and "lattes," don't you think, Lynne ?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tour de Floods

It was going to be lunch with my brother and his wife. It turned into an adventure and a kids’ game of Dare. My brother and I are never going to grow up.

Just outside Tenbury a sign said ‘Road Closed. Flood.’ My brother said, ‘Let’s take a look,’ and drove around the sign. The flood didn’t look too bad and we decided to drive through. And the little line of cars that had followed us kept following,  apart from one old man who turned back. The next flood  looked worse.  We sat and stared at it for a while before I dared my brother to drive through it, so he did. Water cascaded either side of us as we ploughed through to the far side. Easy! Not many cars were behind us now. When it came to turning left towards the pub we were having lunch at the water was halfway up the railings and at least three feet deep. ‘Wimp,’ I said as my brother turned back and carried on. Half a mile further on there was a major flood and a van stuck in the middle of it. We turned around and found a lane going uphill. But ups eventually go down and we tackled several more floods before we got our well-deserved lunch.
This morning someone told me about a cartoon he’d seen of a woman holding a dog lead, on the end of which was a fish.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fairground Attraction

The current serial in My Weekly is all about a funfair in the 1950s, called Fairground Attraction. It’s by the fragrant Julia Douglas and  you may be interested to know that her novel, The Showman's Girl, features a similar theme of running away with a travelling show, in this case a circus in the 1930s.
In libraries at the moment, the large print paperback follows the perilous adventures of 13-year-old Emily Brooke who grows up in the big top and falls in love with Adam Strand, a charismatic showman torn between his wife Jayne, a daredevil tight-wire walker, and Molly, the elephant trainer who's always carried a torch for him.


Monday, July 09, 2012

Following on from favourite things

As Teresa Ashby mentioned my blog and the favourite things to list I thought I’d add some more personal good things. Normally I write these in my Golden Notebook.

To sit, in rare evening sunshine, on a bench halfway up the Worcestershire Beacon (highest hill in Worcestershire and part of the Malvern Hills) and drink in the views. Over to Hay Bluff, Wales, on one side and across my beloved homeland on the other. Misty church spires tell me which town or village I am seeing. Pershore Abbey, Gloucester Cathedral… and ahead of me, half hidden by trees, there is Eastnor Castle with its medieval turrets, though it was built in the 1800s by what we’d call here – a rich Brummie.

To spend time with Donna, our surrogate daughter, who is visiting from her home in Sydney. To hug her after such a long time with only FB contact and an occasional phone call.
To get a shock email from long lost son. Twelve years of not hearing a word and then, finally, a short email, allowing us hope.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Was Noah a writer?

I love opening the bedroom curtains each morning to a view of the Malvern Hills. The only time I can’t see them is when the weather is going to be bad all day. They are hidden in cloud. There’s a saying here that if Malvern has its hat on (cloud) the whole day will be wet. It fooled me this morning. The Hills were visible at 8. Invisible by 9. So what do you do call the weather when the rain is falling in Biblical torrents?

Perfect writing weather!
Now, while you're here, will you please take a look at my previous post and perhaps sign the petition?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Unbelievable!


How can America prosecute a UK citizen for an alleged crime which took place in the UK? How can Theresa May sign his extradition order when there are so many real criminals who need sending to the US for justice?
What follows is a plea from Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia -

Two years ago, Richard O'Dwyer was studying for a multimedia degree at Sheffield Hallam University. In his spare time he ran a website that acted as a search engine for users to find links to watch TV and films online.
He respected the rules -- deleting content when he received requests to remove it. But despite this, he’s now been accused of copyright violation and could face 10 years in a US prison, after the British Home Secretary, Theresa May, signed an extradition order in March.

Richard is not a US citizen, he's lived in the UK all his life, his site was not hosted there, and most of his users were not from the US. America is trying to prosecute a UK citizen for an alleged crime which took place on UK soil.
Given the thin case against him, it is an outrage that he is being extradited to the US to face charges. That's why I've just launched a petition on Change.org to stop his extradition -- and why I hope you will sign it today. Click here to sign the petition.

When I met Richard, he struck me as a clean-cut, geeky kid. Still a student, he reminds me of many great entrepreneurs and the kind of person I can imagine launching the next Wikipedia or YouTube.
Copyright matters but from the beginning of the internet, we have seen a struggle between the interests of the "content industry" and the general public.

Richard is the human face of that battle, and if he's extradited and convicted, he will bear the very real human cost.
The internet as a whole must not tolerate censorship as a response to mere allegations of copyright infringement. As citizens we must stand up for our rights online.

Together, the public won the battle against SOPA and PIPA. We proved that when we work together we can protect freedom on the internet. Together, I know we can win this battle too.

Thanks,
- Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vis Ses Snart

A question for all you writers. When you go on holiday do you take your laptop with you? Do you expect to work while you are away?
Now, what if that holiday was called a Writers’ Holiday? Does this mean a lot of writers on holiday together or a holiday away from writing?
I think I’ll take my laptop, not to work but so that I can pick up emails. It’s only 29 Big Sleeps until Writers’ Holiday. Vis ses snart?

(Vis ses snart is Swedish for see you soon. Who says a trip to IKEA can’t be educational!)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Favourite Things


This is today’s message from the Universe. You too can receive one each weekday by going to www.tut.com
“Rainbows and butterflies, cattails and dandelions, waterfalls and rainforests, puppy dogs and dragonflies, sea foam and orcas, sunshine and comets, snowflakes and icicles, wildflowers and Lynne Hackles... Did I think of everything, or what?
Crazy, sexy, cool,
The Universe

And now, Lynne , you get to think of whatever you like... no pressure.

So, here’s mine.

Full moons and twinkling stars, good friends and email, chocolate and dried apricots, cuddles and sunshine, woolly jumpers and spider plants, chocolate and good books.
Oh, and did I mention chocolate?

Now you try.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

39 Big Sleeps


39 Big Sleeps until Writers' Holiday at Caerleon. And the bad news is that this may be the last. The college where it is held keep putting up their prices and the organisers of the Holiday are ....off with it and are saying this might be the last. So, if you've never been you should really grab the chance now. Great tutors, great food (I once ate 27 profiteroles), fantastic atmosphere and a male voice choir to end the week. I always rave about this week. It's one of the biggest highlights of my year and I am one of those fabulous tutors, talking this year about Butterfly Writing. That's when you are not a dedicated romantic novelist or crime writer and instead flit from one subject to another. It's a good course for new writers as they can sample many types of writing, and a good one for anyone who is jaded with their work and would like to try something new. We'll all be there. Me, Jane Wenham-Jones, Kate Walker, Elaine Everest, Simon Whaley, James Nash and many more. Take a look at the website www.writersholiday.net and sign up now. You'll make your money back by the end of the year because, unlike a 'normal' holiday where you get home, unpack, do the washing and then feel like you've never been away, the spirit, enthusiasm and inspiration you get at Caerleon stays with you and makes you write more for those months afterwards than anything else can.
See you there?

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

UFO sighting?

Last night we, along with hundreds of others, were watching the bonfire (Jubilee Beacon) being lit on the Malvern Hills. All eyes were on it, except mine. Ninety degrees to the East I saw a small red orb rise slowly from the ground until it disappeared into a dark cloud. A minute later another orb started to rise and this time I grabbed the binoculars. What I saw made me shout, ‘Wow! Wow!’ What looked like an orb to my eyes turned into something incredible when watched through binoculars. The shape disappeared and I watched as whatever it was scribbled little symbols in the sky.

Yes, there were fireworks going off but who’d pay for one that looked like a tiny red ball, unless watched through magnifying lenses?  And no, I hadn’t been drinking or taken any other mind altering substances.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Three more good things


Darjeeling and chocolate fudge cake in Lady Foley’s Tea Room. This is an old Victorian place on Great Malvern station. Many years ago there was also a superb vegetarian restaurant there, called Brief Encounter. The photos of stills from the film used to hang on the walls and I was delighted to see them in Lady Foley’s.
The LSO and I chat to my brother and his wife and over-emphasise the lip and arm movements each time a train rumbles by.

Our daughter makes it official and announces on FaceBook that she is in love. We love her new man too.  

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Three good things


I haven’t been on a bus for years. This one takes me ‘all around the Wrekin’ as we say here. The driver turns down all the side roads and we twist and turn until, finally, we reach the Library. If I’d walked it would have been two straight lines with one left turn but I’d have missed the scenery.
Morning coffee turns into lunch and then afternoon tea as Sue Johnson and I have a Mammoth Chat about our writing lives. The Library café makes a good venue.

I’m spared another mystery tour on a Midland Red bus when a neighbour pulls up and offers me a lift in his car. Unlike the bus, this doesn’t have square wheels.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sunshine makes me happy

The sun has a positive effect on my spirits so I am going to blog about 3 Beautiful Things.
1.       My friend Trish texted to say my spinechiller is in the new Fiction Feast.

2.       My eye-test today and I’m delighted that I do not need new specs.

3.       My writing room is decorated. The LSO can put away roller and brushes for a week or so while I unpack books and boxes and make it look like my room.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Coral Flair


I should be writing but the house move means there are other creative things to do. A look at the Dulux colour guide has convinced me I need a Coral Flair feature wall in order to inspire creativity in my writing room. This will mean that the green carpet will have to go. How I wish someone at the Labour Exchange (that’s Job Centre in Olde English) had suggested I train for interior design work but it didn’t exist back then. I only had two choices – to go into the carpet factory or work in an office. I went to the offices of the Kidderminster Shuttle as a junior. For those who won’t know, the Shuttle is the name of the Kidderminster newspaper.
I digress. Back to Coral Flair. Before it can go on the feature wall there are cracks to fill then sand down. Furniture needs moving. Certain things need dust sheets to cover and protect them. All the  boring preparation stuff has to be done before I can dip my brush into the colour that will inspire me over the coming months and years.

Does anyone know how to get a job making up the names and descriptions of paint colours? I could fancy that.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Dilemma

I am busy packing and spring cleaning our current home before we leave it next week. The shower does not look good, mostly because we have hard water here and there are lots of lime stains on the glass. On one of the shopping channels (I just happened to hop to during a rest period) I saw an amazing steam cleaner so I bought one. Not from the shopping channel but from a well known electrical store. Now my dilemma is do I wear protective clothing when steam cleaning the shower cubicle or do I go in au naturel?
I asked my daughter for some advice and she said, 'Get Dad to do it.'
She's a clever woman. Maybe I'll go with that.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Y and Z and reached the finishing line


My daughter was put off a date the other week. She was taken out for a meal only to discover her date yaffled. Ate and drank noisily. Apparently he also used his fork like a micro JCB, shovelling in his grub.
 I think I may be a zoonist. Why? Because I talk to inanimate objects. When it refuses to work, I threaten my printer with the council tip.  When my laptop was new and scary I used to switch it on and tell it I loved it. I have been known to tell a rose how beautiful it is and naturally I have always talked to trees, especially when hugging them.  The definition of zoonist is someone who believes that nature as a whole or natural objects are living beings. Nothing wrong with that.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Xenoglossia


I still retain some school girl French. I was very good at Latin for the first year and got 100% in the end of year exam. It got more difficult after that and in the next exam my mark was in single figures. I often think about learning another language but don’t do anything about it. The perfect way would be to wake one morning with the condition known as Xenoglossia. What a dream that would be. No hard work involved. No classes. No declining verbs. Just to open my eyes and have xenoglossia which means I could speak a foreign language with no prior learning. It might even be a language I had never heard before.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wherriting


‘Teeth am a damn wherrit (or werrit) from the cradle to the grave,’ my Gran used to say. She would also tell me I was a damn wherrit and ask why I couldn’t behave myself, after all, as the eldest grandchild I should have been setting  an example to the others.
I don’t believe in wherriting. I like to tackle problems/challenges head on. As my Grandad used to say, ‘Hard work never killed anyone but wherriting did.’

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for (shudder) vom...


According to Ray Bradbury a Vomitorium is what writers call rest rooms after they’ve heard their producers great ideas.
I love, and have always loved Ray Bradbury.

According to Foyle’s Philavery (mentioned earlier this month) a vomitory, architecturally, is the entrance and exit passages in an amphitheatre.
Not a nice word and, for me, another to go along with (ssshhhh) pouch.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

After T for Talc-man comes U for...


Well, who would have thought that the rump of a bird, the bit that holds the tail feathers, has a name, besides rump or bottom? It’s called an Uropygium. And as Frances Garrood, over on her blog used N for Nuns I am going to add U for Unnun. It’s what happens to a nun when she gets thrown out of the convent.
And, in case you are beginning to think I am in some way related to Stephen Fry because of all these wonderful words I know, I confess a friend bought me a copy of a little book called Foyle’s Philavery – a treasury of unusual words (collected by Christopher Foyle). And it certainly is what it says on the cover.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Maybe he's a bit OTT for a story?


The couple sat at the other end of the dining area in the pub. He had a flamboyant moustache, all slick and oiled to match his hair. She was rejecting plump for overweight and had a round plain face, peroxide blonde hair and a white wool coat. She removed this as they sat down. He ordered his meal and then decided for her. ‘And My Lady will have…’ he said as she donned her coat and sashayed outside (really) for a fag. On her return she slipped out of the coat and dragged it behind her, trailing it across the floor. I’m sure I’ve seen Marilyn Monroe  do that with a mink in one of her films. She repeated the process between courses.

We were intrigued by the pale lemon concoction, all of six inches high, which arrived as her dessert and, as they were leaving, Leanne (our daughter) asked her what she had ordered. My Lady wasn’t given a chance to answer. Mr Slick-Moustache made his way to Leanne, put an arm around her shoulder and slid a finger down the menu. ‘This,’ he pointed, breathing into Leanne’s ear.

My Lady didn’t look amused.

As soon as he turned his back Leanne shuddered. ‘He smelled of talcum powder,’ she told us.

We promptly named him Talc-man and he’ll probably end up in a story.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

S and only a day late


I wish we’d consulted a Skybonkie before setting off to Cornwall. Weather forecasts were given up on by this family after the October gales so many years ago now. But a skybonkie I’d listen to as the definition is a weather prophet. Maybe the skybonkie would have told us we would get a touch of sunburn, be half-drowned by torrential rain, almost blown away by 60 mph winds and see ice stacked up by the side of the road (blown there by the wind) after an incredible hailstorm. And that was just one day! We had a really good time though.