Thursday, 13 April 2017

Celebrate all things April

Thought it was time I popped in with an April post and find time to celebrate those little things that help keep us smiling.

Writing wise, I have been working on some editing and have sent a couple of things out on submission. Now, I want to get back to a new project that I started but put to one side to complete the editing.

The last couple of weeks have certainly seen the weather improve here and spring is all around. Lovely to see the blossom on the trees and new life bursting everywhere. Lots of lambs gambling about the fields too.


Last weekend we set to and started tackling some of those outside jobs that need doing. I do like seeing a beautiful garden but sadly I'm not the biggest fan of actually gardening! However, I did some weeding and sorted out the patio pots so they are looking much neater. Hubby tackled a neglected veg patch and laid some black matting so we can lay gravel on top to make a new path. Two huge bags of gravel chippings now sit waiting patiently in the driveway to be shovelled into place . . . maybe this Easter weekend's job!

                 




Hubby and I disagree over daisies in the lawn. I love to see them as I think they are pretty and remind me of sitting making daisy chains as a child, but he doesn't like anything growing in the lawn apart from grass! As a compromise, the top of our garden is a natural area and here daisies are welcome to bloom. They are quite fittingly one of the birth flowers for April. The other is the beautifully scented sweet pea. I don't have any of those, maybe I will get some.



As well as shovelling gravel this weekend, I hope to spend some time with friends and family. It is our eldest daughter's birthday so she will be coming over for a celebrations and a game of croquet if the weather allows. We have had our set for a couple of years now and it is always a fun social occasion  to get a bunch of folks together for a game. I must confess some take it more seriously than others and our lawn is in no way a flat and manicured croquet lawn! Still the slight undulations make it more fun and you need more skill to whack the ball up a bit of a hill don't you?

Talking of birthdays, leads me to the birthstone for April the diamond. Probably one of the best known of all the jewels and certainly one of the most coveted by many!

Diamonds have always been associated with love and romance. In sixteenth century England, uncut diamond crystals were set into 'scribbling rings.' and the exposed points were used by lovers to etch romantic vows into window panes.

Here are a few more interesting references to diamonds. Fact or fiction? Well, I'll let you decide. Happy birthday to those celebrating this month and there are several in my own family. Sadly, I won't be able to buy them any diamonds but they can read about them here!


  • The word diamond comes from the Greek word "adamastos" meaning invincible. Being the hardest substance known to man this would seem very appropriate.
  • The Greeks thought that diamonds possessed magical powers, being splinters of stars fallen to earth, crystallized lightening or tears of the gods.
  • The diamond trade flourished towards the 15th century with the opening of Eastern trade routes.
  • They have been used as cutting and engraving tools since early times.
  • The Middle Ages saw diamonds used as cures for ailments stemming from the pituitary gland and brain. By heating the crystal and taking it to bed it was said to purge harmful toxins from the body.
  • Diamonds have been worn by kings in battle as a symbol of strength and courage. They have been kept as talismans to ward against poisoning and phantoms.
  • Diamonds are the symbol of love and relationships, and are an ever popular gem in engagement rings.
  • They are considered useful for an individual's balance, clarity and energy especially when combined with amethysts.
  • A diamond is said to bring its owner wealth, happiness and protection.

Hope you are all having a good April and I wish you a happy Easter time. 


                                                     Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
            L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
   Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Celebrate the small things

It's been another busy couple of weeks here which is why I haven't joined in this hop for a while but thought it was time to drop in and catch up a bit this week!

I'm celebrating lighter evenings and the appearance of the sunshine. We were visiting family last weekend and it was so nice to feel a little sun as we were out-and-about. Had some rain since, but it makes you feel that brighter days are ahead.

Also celebrating youngest daughter coming home from university this weekend for the Easter break. It will be nice to have her around for a while and give her some home cooking!

Not had a huge amount of time for writing but have been working on some edits and I hope to get quite a bit done next week, so progress is continuing.

Still sticking to the 'no chocolate' challenge until Easter. It's been about five weeks now.


Happy weekend

                                                     Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
            L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
   Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Friday, 10 March 2017

Birthstones revisited (March) & Celebrate the small things

I have been re-posting my series of Birthstone posts from a couple of years ago so as we are into March here is this month's offering on the sea-inspired Aquamarine. Hope you enjoy.


The word Aquamarine is derived from the Latin words, 'aqua' meaning water and 'marina' meaning sea. Hence the translation 'Sea Water.' The colour of this lovely gem reflects its name perfectly as it is usually found in a transparent blue or sea green. One legend suggests they are found in the treasure chest of mermaids. 

The connections with the sea are obvious and legend suggests that sailors would wear an aquamarine to protect them and keep them safe at sea.

Here are some other facts and myths surrounding the lovely aquamarine, not surprisingly a lot of stories feature connections with water:


  • Archaeologists have found the stone carved in statues of the god Poseidon. 
  • Romans thought the stone capable of absorbing young love. 
  • Another Roman legend said that carving the image of a frog onto an aquamarine would reconcile enemies and indeed make them friends.
  • In Medieval times, aquamarines were believed to reawaken the love of married couples. 
  • Worn as an amulet aquamarines have been said to bring relief of pain, make the wearer friendlier and cure laziness!
  • Aquamarines have long been prized by sailors as a prevention for seasickness and as protection at sea.  Having such powers as warding off sea monsters, storms and other perils of the sea. Egyptians, Romans and Greeks believed the gem conjured the good spirits of the water.
  • The largest aquamarine was found in Brazil in 1910, it weighed around 243 pounds.
  • Aquamarine is suggested as a gem to give on the 16th and 19th wedding anniversaries. 
  • The gem has been thought to have magical healing powers for ailments relating to the stomach, liver, throat and jaw. It has even been used as an antidote against poison.
  • Fortune tellers have used aquamarines to help them look into the future and make predictions.

The verse from the traditional Gregorian Poem for this month is one of the nicest I think.

"A March born shall always be
soothed by Aqua, gem of sea
This mermaids' treasured stone you wear
Will bring happiness, love, affection and care."

Happy Birthday to all celebrating this month.

And on the topic of celebrations ...

This week I'm celebrating a couple of good writing sessions, getting over a cold and the restorative benefits of chamomile tea!

        Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
           L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
   Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

IWSG (March)

Welcome to this month's gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. The chance to share our own writing insecurities and help and encourage our fellow writers.

So, what am I particularly insecure about this month? Well, to be honest, it sort of relates to this month's question too!

I started off the year full of enthusiasm for my new story. I wrote 10,000 words and generally I was humming along quite nicely thank you very much. 

BUT, then I started reading through an old manuscript . . . one I hadn't worked on for a few years. And I fell in love with it all over again! A good thing right? I liked the characters, the plot was fundamentally sound and I got sucked right back into it. It does need a good edit and a bit of re-working. I feel my writing has improved so much in the interim time that I can see where I can improve things. Anyway, I liked it so much that I have spent my last few writing sessions working on it.

The only problem is, I'm feeling a bit guilty about my other newer manuscript. I have sort of left it hanging! Does anyone else do this? I suppose I can go back and work on it again later, but I think I owe it to the older one to give it a go. 

This month's group question is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Well, I think I have answered the first part of that question . . . you may have to wait a while before I can answer the second!



Thanks to Alex. J. Cavanaugh 

                                                              And this months Co-Hosts:
                                                                        Tamara Narayan
                                                                           Patsy Collins
                                                                             M.J. Fifield
                                                                 Nicohle Christopherson



Friday, 24 February 2017

Celebrate the small things

Well, somehow we find ourselves racing towards the end of the month again! Time to reflect and post a few small celebrations.

Since I last posted I have managed to add about 6,000 words to my current MS. Quite pleased with that progress.

I also 'rediscovered' an old MS and have done some editing on it with a view to possibly re-submitting it. I wrote it a few years ago and going back to it made me realise how much I have improved as a writer. It needs some work but the characters and plot are solid and I think it definitely deserve a second chance!

I went to London for a couple of days. Exhausting but fun time was had.

I am still managing to read quite a lot. It is my favourite way to unwind and get to sleep at night. Recent reads include;
  • Lying About Last Summer (YA)  - Sue Wallman
  • The One Memory of Flora Banks (YA)  - Emily Barr
  • A Girl Called Owl (MG)  - Amy Wilson
Three quite different stories but I enjoyed them all.

Looking forward to a quiet weekend and some more writing.



Happy weekend

                                                     Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
            L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
   Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Friday, 10 February 2017

February Birthstone - Amethyst + #CTST

Following on from last month I am revisiting a series I ran a while ago highlighting birthstones and looking at some of the myths and legends surrounding them. Birthstones are something I have researched a lot over the last few years for my chapter book series The Birthstone Unicorns. So, if you or someone you know is celebrating this month, I hope you enjoy reading about the Amethyst. Obviously, one of my favourites due to it's colour!

Amethyst is the traditional birthstone of those people born in the month of February. It is usually lilac or purple in colour and symbolizes stability, peace, courage, inner strength and a calm disposition.

Amethysts can also be known as the ‘sobriety stone.’ Believed to prevent drunkenness and other forms of addiction! However, you may prefer to use to treat headaches, insomnia, arthritis or for general pain relief.

"The February born shall find
Sincerity and peace of mind,
Freedom from passion and from care,
If they, the amethyst will wear."

(taken from the Gregorian Poem - author unknown)

In ancient times a true purple dye was costly and quite rare (see I always knew I had expensive tastes!) it is a colour often reserved for royalty and many crowns have amethysts on them. Through history they have been found everywhere from the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs to soldiers graves in Europe.

The word amethyst comes from the Greek 'amethystos' meaning not drunken. It was sacred to the God of wine and overindulgence, Dionysus. According to Greek mythology Amethyst was a young virgin who upset Dionysus when he became drunk on red wine. Amethyst sought the help of the Goddess Diana who turned the young girl into a white, shimming stone. Feeling remorse for his actions Dionysus's tears fell into his goblet of red wine, it overturned, spilling the red wine over the white rock and saturating it until it became purple.

In ancient times the amethyst has been more prized than sapphires and rubies

Amethysts have been used to adorn the rings of Bishops.

Saint Valentine was thought to wear a ring set with an amethyst in the shape of cupid.

In Medieval times soldiers often wore purple as they went into battle.They considered the amethyst an aid to healing in case of injury.

In the Chinese philosophy  of Feng Shui amethysts enhance the wealth corner, focusing on giving and receiving of material wealth.



                                                     Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
            L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
   Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

This week I am celebrating the start of a weeks half-term holiday in the UK. I am hoping to get some serious writing done! 

Happy weekend everyone!


Friday, 3 February 2017

Celebrate the small things


Another busy week and somehow we seem to have crept into February!

This week I'm celebrating completing another chapter in my current manuscript. Would have liked to do more, but as I said busy week all round and I have been really tired by the evening!

Time Travelling with a Hamster by [Welford, Ross]I read another MG book this week  ~Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford.

On his twelfth  birthday Al receives a letter from his dead father. He learns his father built a time machine and he wants Al to find it and travel back in time to save him. 

Al soon discovers that time travel requires bravery and imagination. It also requires lies, bending the rules and avoiding bumping into yourself! His is accompanied on his daring adventures by his pet hamster, Alan Shearer.

I found this a touching tale of dealing with heartache and grief but told with humour. I also learnt a lot about the potential scientific issues involved in time travel!



Happy weekend

                                                     Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
            L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
   Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Friday, 27 January 2017

Celebrate the small things

Hi everyone, sorry I haven't posted on this hop for a while. If you read my short post last week you will no doubt be aware of my computer issues! Which leads nicely onto my first celebration of the week . . . getting to grips with my new computer. I had a few teething problems to begin with but computer and I seem to be developing a close friendship and hopefully it will last a good while! I had my previous laptop for a number of years so I can't really complain.

Last week was my birthday . . . yes 21 again! Although I was working I had a good day and a nice meal with family in the evening. Apart from the aforementioned computer I was lucky enough to receive a beautiful, sparkly, unicorn cover for my phone!

  
So very me!

My reading for the year has got off to an excellent start and I have already read some great books for adults, YA and MG

I'd particularly like to mention an MG read The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson.

The story follows twelve year old Matthew Corbin. Matthew is funny, kind and very likeable but he has an overwhelming fear of germs which is making his life very difficult. His anxieties cause him to spend much of his life indoors, watching the world go by from his window. All until a toddler disappears in his street and Matthew was the last to see him from his window. Matthew has to confront his own fears and obsessive behaviour to help unravel the mystery. As the story unfolds we learn more about Matthew and the events that have led to his OCD.

Moving, funny and well-researched.


This reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon in many ways.
  




In my own writing I have completed the first few chapters of my new manuscript. A long way to go but progress is being made which is the most important thing.

Happy weekend

                                                     Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
            L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge 
   Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Quick little update ... I am still here!

I know I disappeared from my blog for while. It wasn't planned! My computer was getting slower and slower and getting on and off took so long I ran out of time to actually blog!

BUT then I had my birthday last week and guess what? Hubby bought me a new laptop! Yay! I wasn't expecting it so it was an even nicer surprise. It is different to my last one (It turns on instantly!!) seriously, though I am getting used to it. I am not the most tech savvy gal so bear with me! I normally pride myself on being an excellent typist but the new keyboard 'feels' different and it seems to be aligned slightly differently to my previous one which is making for some interesting spelling errors while I get used to it all. Also, of course, it has Windows 10 which I am still exploring.

However, these are all interesting issues to have and I am so happy to have the new computer. Now, if it only came with some software that could knock out a best seller in six weeks it would be just perfect!

Hoping to get a proper post up later in the week, until then best wishes all.




Monday, 9 January 2017

Birthstones revisited - January (Garnet)

If you have followed my blog for a while you will no doubt have read some of my posts on birthstones. I have been fascinated by gems and the various legends that surround them for years. Indeed, it was combining my interest with them and my obsession fondness for unicorns that was the inspiration for my Birthstone Unicorn early reader series.

It has been a couple of years since I wrote about birthstones on my blog so I thought it might be fun to revisit some of my earlier posts. 

If you, or someone you know, is celebrating a birthday during January then let me tell you a little more about the lovely Garnet, this month's birthstone. My birthday is this month so it is a particular favourite of mine! Here is my own little birthstone unicorn . . . 





The traditional birthstone for January, the garnet is normally thought of as deep red in colour but they can actually be found in many other colours such as orange, yellow, green, purple, brown and black. Associated with purity, truth, faithfulness and friendship they are also thought to remove negativity in the wearer. I'm definitely going to be wearing my garnet this month to ensure I start the the year with lots of positive thoughts!

There are lots of stories and legends surrounding the garnet below are just a few!

* Legend suggests that the garnet originated with Persephone, the Greek goddess of sunshine. Persephone was captured by Hades, the god of the underworld. Hades gave Persephone some pomegranate seeds to ensure her return. Take a look at the seeds next time you eat a pomegranate!

* The word garnet comes from the Latin 'granatus' which  means seed. 

* Garnet is said to prevent bloodshed between enemies.

* Garnets have been found in burial sites dating back to 3000 BC. It is thought they were placed there to protect the dead on their journey to the afterlife.

* Stories from the Bible say that Noah hung a garnet on the ark to help light the way through the flood.

* Native American tribes decorated dream catchers with garnets and used them on their hunting shields.

* Many cultures have suggested the wearing of a garnet would help calm a fever, protect from poison, reduce swelling and stop bleeding.

* Some Eastern  Legend says that dragon's eyes were garnets.




There are two very different flowers for the month of January the showy carnation and the simple elegance of the snowdrop. 
(pictured)












Traditionally birthstones represent a month of the year based on the Gregorian calendar. There is a poem about the associated birthstones and below is the verse for January. The poem was first published in 1870 by Tiffany & Co. The original author is unknown.


By her who in this month was born
No gem save garnets shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity
.

Happy birthday if you are celebrating this month! Stop by the blog next month to read about the February birthstone, Amethyst.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group (Jan 2017)


Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the first IWSG posting of 2017. I hope you are set for a great writing year ahead.

I've decided to banish insecurities for January . . . in fact I'm hoping the positive feelings will continue way past this month. I have been researching and making notes on a new story idea and I'm keen to throw myself into this while I wait to hear back from other submissions from last year. 

I've carved myself a new writing space at home and equipped it with the necessary notebooks, pens, post-its and other artefacts designed to stimulate my writing muscles!


This month's optional question is; What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard? 

This is a tricky one to for me as I'm not a big fan of writing rules in general! I think the real writing magic occurs when we break some of the conventionally held rules. Of course, I follow the mechanics of spelling, punctuation and grammar but otherwise I think it is fine to experiment. 

I also have to say I'm not a fan of the mantra 'write every day' or 'write 1000, 2000 words (or whatever) every day.'  I think this can be setting yourself up for failure and putting too much pressure on yourself can be counter-productive.  I appreciate it probably works admirably for many, and that's great, but for me it's not helpful. I think the creative process is a very personal thing and it is about finding what works for you and, more importantly, what makes you happy. 

Happy writer = productive writer! 


Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and this month's team of co-hosts;

                                                                   Eva @ Lillicasplace
                                                                       Crystal Collier
                                                                    Sheena-kay Graham
                                                                         Chemist Ken
                                                                          LG Keltner
                                                                     Heather Gardner