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 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.'
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.