Friday 16 December 2016

Time to celebrate Christmas . . .

The Christmas tree is up, the wreath is hanging on the front door, most of the presents bought and hidden safely away, yougest home from university and now with the end of the school term today, it is really starting to feel like Christmas is begininng! 

Actually, the celebrations started last weekend as I went for a meal out with folks from work and then the following evening we invited friends and neighbours around for drinks and food so it was a busy couple of days! 

Also this week I managed a trip to the cinema to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I really enjoyed it and it was nice to sit for a couple of hours and relax in front of a movie. It's been busy at school with Christmas lunches, parties, special assemblies and all the other Christmassy activities so already my brain feels overloaded!

I LOVE this tree decoration my eldest daughter surprised me with this week. I mean it's purple, it's a unicorn . . . what's not to love! 

There is no doubt Christmas can be stressful. All that anticipation, the throwing together of people, the expectation that everything should be perfect and all should be well. Personally, I have found this time of year difficult for several years now, but I am trying to stay calm and enjoy it as much as possible. 

Whatever you are doing for the holidays I wish you a happy and peaceful time. 

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

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group (Dec)

It's time for the final IWSG posting of 2016! Where did it go? I hope it's been a good writing year for you - not too many insecurities! However, if you're anything like me there have been plenty of bouts of insecurity and some gigantic dollops of self-doubt to keep you company over the last twelve months! Good job we've got the wonderful Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group to keep us going.

I'll be honest, I've been struggling to stay focused with my writing this last couple of months. I was so excited to complete my last manuscript. I invested so much in it, emotionally and financially that I really thought it was my time. Everything seemed to be falling into place and feedback from my lovely editor and a couple of agents who read the full manuscript was encouraging . . . that was back in the early summer. A few weeks later I was delighted to hear my manuscript had been long listed for the Mslexia Children's Book Award, a huge achievement and another boast of encouragement that I was on the right track with this story. Sadly it didn't make the recent short list and now I'm left feeling like I'm no further forward. The illusive next step just out of reach.

I know, I know . . . patience is something writer's need in bucket loads. Along with thick skins and the ability to bounce back higher than one of those snazzy powerballs! Maybe I'm just feeling sorry for myself, but then maybe I'm allowed to - for a while at least. The thing is, I really want to shift this cloud that is hanging over me and I'm hoping the new year will give me renewed energy and the inspiration to push ahead with my new WIP.

All of which leads me nicely onto this month's question - in terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what's your plan to get there?

Well, I'd really, really like to be a published author! The plan to get there? Keep going and don't allow myself to give up I guess!

Keep calm and write on!

Please note, due to work commitments today, I will be unable to respond or return comments today. I will catch up asap. 

Friday 2 December 2016

Celebrate the small things

Well, I'm sorry I kind of 'disappeared' online again . . . it wasn't planned, it just sort of happened! I have been spending a lot of my free time over the last couple of weeks decorating and up-cycling a few pieces of furniture. I have to say I am very pleased with the results too!

Then, last weekend, we suddenly decided it would be a great idea to paint the kitchen. The cream paintwork was looking a bit tired and in real need of a refresh. So, did we simply dig out the old tin of paint from the shed and slap it on? Nope. We headed for the DIY store and chose . . . . a vibrant raspberry. Quite a change and I was unsure to start with but now I love it! It is warm and cosing and if nothing else, quite festive! What do you think?

This weekend I am going to try and get a bit of Christmas shopping done and probably the only writing that will happen is in some Christmas cards! How are your Christmas preparations going? Can you believe it's December already?

Happy weekend everyone.

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

Friday 4 November 2016

Celebrate the small things

I haven't managed to join the Friday celebrations for a couple of weeks and I have missed it. I think it is a great idea to reflect on the positives. I  am often amazed at how much I have forgotten, or merely overlooked, in all the daily business of life until I sit down to write my Friday posting! 

I've got a gorgeous hydrangea bush in the front garden. When I drove into the drive the other afternoon the colour of the flower heads really made me smile. I went straight out and picked a bunch to put in the living room. Such autumnal shades, I love them.

Had a lovely walk on Porthkidney Beach last Sunday with some friends.

The clocks have gone back which means darker evenings . . . not my favourite . . . however, it means I can close the curtains and light some scented candles. Love the cosy feeling.

Off to a firework display this evening. Hope the weather stays dry.

Happy weekend everyone.

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

Sunday 30 October 2016

Walks on Dartmoor

Apologies for being away from the computer for a while. To start with I was experiencing a few issues with the speed of internet connection. In part I think it is my computer . . . I so need to upgrade! Anyway, as it has been half-term here I took the opportunity to get away for a few days . Hubs and I love to head off to Dartmoor to do some walking and just enjoy some peace and quiet. I think autumn is the perfect time to visit. The moor looks so beautiful carpeted in shades of browns and gold. I thought I'd share a few of my favourite photos here. 

First, stop was Scorhill Stone Circle near Gidleigh. We walked here from the cottage we rented for a few days. It was late afternoon and the sun was going down. It was very peaceful. A few cows wandered past but we just sat in the circle and enjoyed the view.


Close to where we were staying was Fernworthy Resevoir. We have visited here before but decided to re-visit as we heard it was at it's lowest level for 40 years. The low water level revealed parts of  a bronze age settlement, stone circles and a bridge. It made for an interesting walk.

The colours of the trees around the reservoir were amazing too.

Another interesting bridge at Postbridge

Some of the wildlife we met while enjoying the scenery

Such a lovely few days . . . we could have stayed longer but we will certainly return.


Thursday 20 October 2016

Hi all, just a quick post to say I am having a few internet issues and therefore I might not be able to post or comment for a day or two until things are sorted. I have turned comments off here but will hopefully visit you soon.

Best wishes


Friday 14 October 2016

Celebrate the small things

Time to remember the little things that made us smile this past week. As time seems to pass so very quickly I think it is important to stop and take a moment to reflect.

My first celebration hasn't actually happened yet but I am looking forward to it this Sunday so I think it still counts! I am going to see a live screening of the musical Miss Saigon in our local cinema. This is something that is becoming quite popular here  for 'one-off' shows. It's great for people who live too far away from the big theatres to see productions. I was lucky enough to go to see Miss Saigon in the West End many years ago and am excited to relive the magic.

I regularly join a group of friends at various local quizzes. Usually in pubs or for different local charities. It makes for a fun night out and we have had some success. Small cash prizes, bottles of this or that. Last year we saved all the money we won and put it to a Christmas night out and gave the remainder to the ongoing Christmas lights fund for our town. We have been doing the same this year and have in fact collected a goodly sum to do the same this year. Helped  by a rollover jackpot win this last week! See all those weird and wonderful facts that we store in our brains over the years can be put to good use. It has also given me an idea for a short story plot line!

What are you all celebrating? Have you had a good week?

Happy Friday


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

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Insecure writer? Heck yeah!

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh

I'm definitely feeling insecure right now. About writing, about life, about pretty much everything! I think it's just a phase I'm going through (I hope it is!) and soon I'll haul myself over the crest of this wave of insecurity and find myself in a good place again. Don't you think that when you are feeling happy and positive about one area of your life it has a knock-on effect? So I guess the opposite is also true . . . when you are feeling despondent about something that feeling can rub off onto other things. Creatively I feel drained. I've got ideas and drafts I could be working on but I think I am procrastinating too much and that is not really like me! 

This month's IWSG questions is When do you know your story is ready?

I enjoy the editing process, for me this is when the story really takes shape, my characters develop and I get to know them inside out. So I would say it is the characters themselves that let me know they are ready to talk to someone else!

Thursday 29 September 2016

Celebrate the small things

How can it possibly be Friday again? And the end of September? But it is . . . and so it's time to celebrate the small things that have made the week memorable or simply made us smile.

The week started well with an unexpected get together with some friends. Sometimes I think the unplanned met-ups can be the most fun.

I've managed three walks. One saw a little drizzle, one was a lovely autumnal afternoon and one was decidedly damp and misty but whatever the weather I enjoy getting out for some fresh air and exercise.

It is getting cooler and the evenings are drawing in but I guess that is to be expected. We are definitely into autumn. I am typing this looking at the trees behind our house and the rich browns and oranges of the season are very visible. Thoughts start to turn to soups and stews and other comforting foods.

I am looking forward to Sunday as we are meeting up with our daughter for the day and having a belated 21st birthday lunch with her.

Happy Friday


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

Thursday 22 September 2016

Celebrations and Reflections

I've not been around the blogosphere much lately. If you read my earlier post you know that I have been going through a period of adjustment and for whatever reason I haven't felt much like blogging. If the truth be told I've been drifting . . .

. . . going through the motions of the day but having little energy for more.

However, in the spirit of trying to get myself sorted, I am determined to join in with the celebrations hop this week. So here we go . . .

* My baby girl turns 21 on Saturday! I may not be physically with her to celebrate but I'm sure we'll Skype or chat during the day. Hopefully we'll get to meet up later in the month.

* Being at home on our own has some advantages  - like less washing in the basket!

* I went to see Bridget Jones's Baby the other night. I thought it was a fun movie and Hubby was even brave enough to come with me! He was slightly outnumbered though. In the packed theatre audience I think I counted about four men!

* Our apple tree has lots of fruit on it - apple crumble this weekend then . . . yummy!

   Happy Friday


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

Friday 2 September 2016

Celebrating the new month and weathering the changes ahead . . .

Never forget to look up . . . you may be surprised what you will see

Welcome to September, can you believe it? I have been away from the blog, well most online activities, for a couple of weeks. I think it does you good to step away for a while and have a internet detox! Anyway I thought I'd drop in and update the blog and see what everyone has been up to.

I've been enjoying time with friends, going for some nice walks, reading and mulling over some writing ideas. And best of all, I enjoyed a week away to Majorca. Lots of sunshine and general lazing around.  It was great to spend some time with the family as things are about to change around our house . . .

Firstly, our youngest daughter is heading back to university for her final year next weekend. She has been home for about three months, gaining some relevant work experience locally and generally taking a study break.

And then our eldest daughter is flying the nest the following week as she has bought her own home with her boyfriend. It's not too far away so I know I'll still see her lots but it's still a big step on the road to independence. I am so proud of them both and happy for them but I am not quite sure how I'm going to feel for a while. It'll be quiet round here but I guess I'll throw myself into my writing! I'm trying to think of it as the next chapter in my life!

It is also time to go back to the 'day job' next week and I know that will have a few changes in store for me as well.

Flowers in the Spanish sunshine . . . so cheerful

Maybe the stars have just aligned and decided to throw lots of adjustments at me at once! It'll all be fine . . . change is part of life and without it we can't move forward, I just need to take a deep breath and embrace it. But please bear with me . . . it may take me a week or two to settle into some new routines. Who knows, maybe it'll be my time to shine too.

Look ahead . . . you never know what's on the horizon

   Happy Friday


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

Friday 19 August 2016

A short break . . .

Just a short post this week to say I have decided to take a two week blogging break. I've got a friend coming to stay and then a trip planned. I will also try and do some more drafting on my latest project. I'll likely be back at the end of the month with all my news.

Until then, my friends I wish you all well . . .

Please note comments are turned off for this post.

Friday 12 August 2016

Celebrate the small things

The summer break seems to be racing by and I am left with a feeling of things slipping away . . . what have I achieved in my time away from the day job? Where am I going?  Celebrating the little things that make me smile and give me a rosy glow is one way to do that.

I started outlining a new story. A lot of it is still in my head but the main character is nagging at me! I also have a title which I am loving and I feel it is going to be fun to write. 

The weather here is better. We have had some sunshine and I have been out for a few walks. They can be excellent for helping to think through plot ideas.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my daughter was painting up some old furniture . . . I decided I couldn't let her have all the fun so I had a go myself and painted an old pine chest. 

I've done it in a rich burgundy colour and finished with a dark wax. You can't really see the effect in the photo as the light is shining on it but I am pleased with it. I have been told it looks purple . . . but honestly it isn't, it's burgundy!

And finally, tomorrow we hope the fine weather continues so that we can have a game of croquet! It's a great game to play with a group of friends. We are lucky enough to have a large back lawn which lends itself quite nicely to the past time.  

   Happy Friday


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

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Insecure Writing Support Group (August)

It's the first Wednesday of the month and that means time for another group posting of IWSG! The team have recently introduced a new question feature each month to go alongside the posts. This month's question is;

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

The first thing I wrote, with any serious aspirations of being a writer, was something quite ambitious! I leapt straight in and wrote a whole novel in the contemporary woman's fiction genre. Back in 2009 when I started, this was the genre I thought I would write in. I knew little nothing about things like, planning, structure, plot and so on, I just wrote and what I ended up with, all those months later, was 91,424 words of something vaguely resembling a story but which of course, at the time, I thought was amazing! With the advantage of hindsight and several years of hard work later, I know differently. Reading it makes me cringe at the clunky phasing and dodgy punctuation. There was too much telling and not enough showing, cliche that makes me want to hide behind a pillow to read but best (or worst!) or all it starts with the main character waking up and looking in a mirror! But . . . I had proved to myself I could complete a novel and that was HUGE. 

The piece was called Jigsaw. It dealt with the lives of several characters, and showed how their lives fitted together but also how small, seemingly inconsequential decisions, can be life changing. There was a lot wrong with the story, but I think the plot itself was quite well imagined, I just didn't have the skill to do it justice at the time. Who knows, maybe one day I will revisit it and turn it into something much better but at the current time it languishes on my laptap as a reminder of how far I've come.

If I hadn't written it, maybe I wouldn't be the writer I am now. We have to constantly grow and learn to move forward and I think Jigsaw was a big part of my own writing puzzle . . . an apprenticeship if you like, that showed me the direction I would ultimately take in my writing. Any regulars here will know that I actually write mainly for children . . . early readers, middle grade and young teen is where I am most comfortable. Although I do write some short stories for adults which I find a nice contrast as I can explore themes and ideas that would just not work or be appropriate in children's fiction.

In a way my biggest insecurity at the moment relates to this very first piece. I have come such a long way and yet there still seems a long way to go. I have made no secret of the fact that I would love to publish through traditional routes. I work hard for it, I would continue to work hard for any agent or publisher who took a chance on an unknown like me. Despite some great feedback from agents, publishers and editors in the past I am still travelling that road, looking for the perfect fit, for the stars to align and for that little bit of luck that will push me to the next level. Because I do believe there is an element of luck involved, when you look at some of the statistics of making it through the slushpile you can see the odds are staked against you.

Brilliant, well-known writers often share their own experiences of rejection and I thank them for that, it helps to know that they have been here. They have experienced those days of despair when you feel like chucking it all in and taking up a more realistic dream, because it is hard to pick yourself up and carry on. But they didn't give up and neither will I.  My own personal mantra when things get tough has always been;

"To be successful a writer needs two things. Belief and hope. Belief in themselves and their writing and hope that others share their belief."

This is just my story and my dream but if this IWSG sees you despairing of ever reaching your goals, whatever they may be, hang in there and believe in yourself, but most importantly of all . . . enjoy the journey.

First Wed of Every Month 

Thanks as ever to Alex J. Cavanaugh for being our host and this months co-hosts;

                                                                    Julie Flanders

Friday 29 July 2016

Celebrate the small things

This week we have been in chaos at home! We are having new windows and front door fitted and it has sort of taken over everything. Moving furniture and cleaning up afterwards - amazing where all the dust creeps to! On the plus side they are looking great and will be so much easier to maintain than the old wooden ones that were starting to rot. It has also made me clean some of those places that often get forgotten about - you know, like behind the TV! I want to wash some of the curtains before I re-hang them but the weather hasn't been great this week so I haven't managed that yet. Hopefully over the weekend, seems a shame not to whilst they are down anyway. Windows are important aren't they? Sort of like the eyes of the home I always think.

We caught up with some friends we haven't seen for a while in the middle of the week. The evening brightened a little and we had a stroll on the beach and a nice meal in a bar.

I surprised myself yesterday and wrote a short story! 2700 words just flowed and it felt good to write again as I haven't done much over the last month. It was a surprise because I had no intention of sitting down and writing it at all - I hadn't thought about it or planned it . . . then a first line popped into my head that I rather liked and well . . . 3 hours later a story written. It's in the crime/psychological genre which isn't something I usually write at all either. So another surprise there! I guess it's always good to try something new and when the muse strikes who am I to argue. My next job this morning will be to revisit the story and actually see whether there is anything there worth working on further!

As well as the windows my daughter has decided to renovate some old furniture this week. She really likes the shabby chic type look and we picked up a couple of little tables on Monday for a bargain price. She also bought the jugs. They are so pretty and apparently quite old. She is going to keep make-up brushes in the small one and some flowers in the large one (the middle sized one is undecided yet!) Anyway it really inspired her to try the technique herself so we went and bought a couple of tins of chalk paint and off she went. She has already given an old blanket box a new lease of life and the bookcase in the back of this picture is next on her list.

Then there's a little table that we were about to throw away and a pine mirror in the bathroom . . . anyway you get the picture. As long as I don't come home one day and find everything painted! We are having a switch around of bedrooms soon as our eldest is taking the huge step of buying a house with her boyfriend and she will be moving out soon so most of the pieces she is renovating will be for her new bedroom.

Looking back over the week there's been quite a lot going on really. Hoping for a sunny weekend and a break from the drilling and hammering . . .

Happy weekend to you all and thanks for stopping by.


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

Friday 22 July 2016

Celebrate the small things

We are still adding to our fruit harvest this week with some gooseberries. I am planning to make a few mini tarts with those later. Although not ready to eat yet we have a couple of apple trees that are heavy with fruit and a cherry tree that has a handful of cherries on. They aren't quite ripe yet but I need to keep an eye on them as the birds got to them before me last year!

The weather is also continuing to be lovely - we even managed a BBQ last Sunday! We bought it last year and never got around to putting it together because the weather just didn't seem to warrant it but last weekend we unpacked the box and fired it up. Who knows, we might even get to use it again this weekend!

Last weekend I also enjoyed a surprise late birthday treat (my birthday is in the winter so not ideal time for days out!). It was organised by my lovely friends who gave me a  day to remember. First a car journey, then a boat across the bay, a paddle in the sea and a glass of champagne and then afternoon tea. A perfect day . . .

View while we enjoyed . . .

delicious cakes and sandwiches . . . 

washed down with pots of tea and glasses of Pimms.


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