Monday, 31 December 2012

Auld Lang Syne

    Well, the year 2012 is nearly over. At this time of year the question that Scottish poet, Robert Burns, posed 'Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?' flashes into my head.
    His words make me think about the new friends I've made over the past year, the love I have for my family and long term friends that surround me. Not excluding those who are in far off places and definitely not forgetting those who are no longer on this earth.

    I also look ahead to the new year that's about to dawn, with mixed emotions. If my emotions were a cocktail it would be excitement based, with a good shot of apprehension mixed in, as a safety net. But whatever is in store for you may it be happy, prosperous and may you fulfil your dreams. Have a wonderful 2013.


Thursday, 27 December 2012

After Pudding

    I've crash landed back down to earth, after an adrenalin pumped Christmas Day. The excess food that could be saved is now in airtight containers and in the freezer. The floors have been mopped and the displaced furniture has been pushed back into it's rightful place.

   While it's wonderful to have my family and friends around me, I find that the whole day can be rather overwhelming and I know that at some point I will crave for some solitude. Therefore, by hosting the party I found that I could escape some of the crazy events of the day. Although having spent most of the day in the kitchen, I have to admit that I feel that I missed out on a great party.

   After pudding, it was time for me to mingle with my guests. The party was now in full flow and the guest's interactions were now at their peak. So as an author it was probably the best time to be part of the proceedings, because it's a great time to observe human nature at its best. I love taking in the facial expressions, the eye contact and the body language in general of those around me.

    Unfortunately for me, someone else has volunteered already to host next years get together, therefore I'll just have to find some little corner in their home to chill out for ten minutes. 

    Do you try to escape the chaos of the day, or do you enjoy being in the thick of it?




Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Holidays

    Well the festive season is upon us, I've wrapped the gifts and they're under the tree. All I have to do now is prepare the food for my family and friends. I've checked the larder and freezer, I've got more provisions than I will ever need. In fact I think I bought enough just in case there was an apocalypse.

    I'm a bit worried because for some reason or another I seem to be pretty organised. Therefore I hope that I'm not in for some kind of last minute panic. 

    I'm not going to go on for the sake of getting words down onto the page, so I just want to say have a Merry Christmas. May your day be wondrous, filled with joy and laughter, because memories are made of this.

    I thought I'd share a picture of the wonderful cheesecake my friend made for me last year and I'm hoping that she's going to surprise me with one this year. God bless.


Sumptious Cheesecake

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Book Of Life

    Every year at this time I invest in a new diary. Without seeming ungrateful of the ones I receive as gifts at Christmas time, they just never seem to quite fit the  bill. They're always either too small, or too large. I think because of the intimate recordings it's something I have to choose for myself.

    Now I love to sit down, as I did yesterday afternoon and go through my old one. Firstly I transfer any dates that I daren't forget, such as birthdays of family and friends. But more importantly I love to read through my goals and ambitions that I had written down at the end of the previous year. If I failed on any of those I set out, I try and work out why. Of course sometimes this isn't possible as some may have been slightly over ambitious.

    Each day has a different story to tell. There may have been family, or work concerns and as the year progresses your life unfolds in front of you. Sometimes I find myself so embroiled in situations that I don't even remember as to how it all panned out and the diary serves as a great reminder.

    So as today is suppose to be the day that the world ends I'm wondering to myself as to whether I wasted my time transferring dates, and setting goals for 2013. The big question though, is will there be a book of my life to review next year?

    Hope I see you guys on Monday, when I'll be posting my next blog, and if not it was nice knowing you.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

To Know Them Is To Be Blessed

    Following the passing of a loved one, there will be occasions that will trigger our memories of them. Stirring emotions that we thought we had managed to put to rest.

    Whether it be a holiday time, a social gathering, a piece of music on the radio, or just a word we overhear someone else say, the departed will be back to the forefront of our mind.

    Death leaves a void in the lives it leaves behind, a void that  will never be filled again. But, however briefly we have known our family member, or good friend, our lives have been touched and blessed by just knowing them. God bless.

Friday, 14 December 2012

My Little Black Book

    One thing I love about going on vacation, or even staying away from home on business is that it gives you time to people watch. I love nothing better than sitting at a table in a pavement cafe, or hotel dining room and watching the people around me.

    Fortunately for me, my partner likes to do the same. But what we get out of the whole experience is something very different. For my partner it's a signal that he can leave the stresses and strains of his job behind. No reports to write, no staffing problems to think about and no disgruntled clients to handle.

    I use this time as an opportunity to find ideas for my future protagonists, love interests and villains. Now initially I have no real idea who is going to be who in my projects, or if I will ever use them. But I take note of mannerisms, their style of clothing, the tone of their voice when interacting with others, whether the same, or opposite sex. I just love the whole people watching thing.

    So beware if your in a hotel, or cafe and you see a woman taking more than a little interest in you, it may be that you're down in my little black book.

    Do you do this, or something different? Please share your secret.



Tuesday, 11 December 2012

I'm Back

Mount Teide Highest Point in Spain
    If you're a regular visitor to my blog, thanks for sticking around whilst I took a break from online activity for two weeks. To my new visitors a big 'Hello', I'm glad you decided to stop by.

    Where have I been the last couple of weeks? The Canary Islands, Spain, 65  miles off the African west coast.

     What have I been doing? Firstly: escaping from the not so nice British weather, which is minus 3 degrees today. Secondly and most importantly : taking time to concentrate on a couple of new projects.

Amarilla Bay
     Whilst I was basking in the warm Canarian, winter sunshine and listening to my MP3, my little brain was working overtime. Several pens ran dry of ink and notepads were filled with hopefully worthwhile notes and ideas.

    Its a trip I make several times a year, finances permitting. The novelty for me is that I'm writing the draft of this post 37,000 feet in the air; looking down into the blue sea below with the coast of Madeira on my left. I would also like to add that I'm in an aeroplane.

    A recent announcement made by a member of the cabin crew,  caused a wry smile to cross my lips. She informed me and my fellow travellers that the lights in the cabin were about to be dimmed. Now I didn't smirk because of the dimming of the lights, but because she added, 'If any of you want to carry on doing an old fashioned thing like reading a book, you can use the light that can be found in the overhead panel." Maybe you would have to be here to see the funny side!

    So, I'm back and I thought I would share a couple of pictures with you of the country I've grown to love. Not forgetting the food. Oh, and my blog will be updated Mondays and Fridays. I'll see you again Friday then. Hasta luego!





Sunday, 25 November 2012

Blog Holiday

    I'm having a short break from this blog for a couple of weeks due to work commitments. Meanwhile if this is your first visit please check archive material, which includes a short story over three parts.
   Next post will be on the December 11th 2012. Hope to see you all then.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Journey of Regret (Part 3)

Part 3 of 3  (Final)

    I feel a piercing pain in the side of my skull and I explore my right temple with my fingertips. I wince, I've found a bleeding head wound. My blood moistens my fingers and it runs down my face. I can taste the saltiness of it, as it trickles onto my lips and into my mouth. I sit still and try to orientate myself with my surroundings, but the situation I find myself in seems somewhat surreal.

    "Jemma follow me. I will take you to safety," says a woman. I'm unable to see her because of the strong light that is now shining in my face.
    Thank goodness, I feel relieved that a rescue party has arrived.  I can hear the voice of the woman clearly persuading me to follow her. I shakily get to my feet and I clamber into the aisle. I hesitate, I've remembered that my carryall is on the seat to the inside of me. I reach in and I brush my hand across the sticky, velvety pile of the upholstery. But the bag is no longer there, it must have fallen onto the floor. How on earth am I going to find it in this darkness? I sigh, there is no point in me fumbling around to try to locate it.

    The female voice continues to encourage me on, but the light is moving away from me and I have to follow. I take a step and I stumble over something. I bend down and tug at what is some kind of bag, hopefully I've found my carryall. But the item is too small to be mine, I think it may be a briefcase, or a laptop. I push the
bag aside to clear my path and it moves away from me at speed. I hear it coming to a thudding halt somewhere up ahead. 

    I can only assume that the train has been derailed, because the carriage is slightly tilted over to one side and I proceed with difficulty. I grab hold of the backs of the seats to steady myself and I follow the guiding light. I pass by my fellow passengers, some groan loudly and others cry for help. I can't understand why they don't follow the rescuer. 

    Although it seems to have taken forever, I've reached the end of the carriage and to an exit. I stop at the open doorway and look up into the cloudless December sky. The cold air blasts my face, making my cheeks go numb. I take a deep breath, a strong smell of diesel oil fills my nostrils and lungs. A multitude of twinkling stars and a full moon light up the night sky, but they fail to illuminate my surroundings. I can't see anything but the woman's light.

    Jumping down onto the track, I drop to my knees. Sharp stone chippings dig into my flesh, causing me to flinch.
    "Jemma, follow me. I will take you to safety," the woman's voice beckons.
    "Please help me," I plead. I'm still on the ground, but my plea is ignored. I lurch to my feet; the light of the rescuer is advancing and is now some distance ahead. I must gather my strength and go after her.

    I walk unsteadily along the track, my feet slide on the hard-core rock that lies between the rails. I  stagger and I nearly lose my balance. I can hear muffled voices, but they're nowhere near me. I can hear sirens, but they're in the distance. The cold bites through my whole body; I start to shake and my teeth are chattering. I have no other option but to keep following the light. With great difficulty I stifle my sobs, I feel so desperately alone and very scared.

    The light is becoming bigger and brighter, I must be nearing safety at last. My legs are weary, I'm struggling to put one foot in front of the other. My head throbs, my body aches and I want to lie down. I daren't though, because the light is within reach.

    I exhale a sigh of relief, I've reached the light and I’m now bathed in it. Its whiteness burns deep into my eyes. I try to shield them with my hand in an effort to see, but to no avail.
     "You are safe. Your pain will ease. Your wounds will heal. We will take care of you now,” says the woman.

     I drop my arm away from my face; the light no longer hurts my eyes and I can feel it penetrate deep down into my body, into my soul. I try to turn around, but I can't. It's as though I've been cemented to the spot. I turn my head and glance behind me; but there is nothing to see, only the white light.
     "I want to go back,” I beg.
     "I know Jemma, I know. But now you can only look back, because for you there is no going back. You are with us now,” the woman says.


    The 8:00 P.M passenger train to Brighton from Victoria Station, London was derailed at 8:20 P.M yesterday evening. At present the cause is unknown, but accident investigators are on the scene.  

    Several passengers are known to be severely injured and there is one reported fatality. The deceased is believed to be 17-year-old Jemma Anders,who was said to be returning home after visiting some friends in London. Although badly injured, Miss Anders is thought to have wandered from the train following the derailment,in search for help.

    An Emergency Service spokesperson, told reporters that a rescue worker had gone to investigate, what he thought was someone waving a flashlight some distance away from the wreckage.But unfortunately he came across the body of the deceased. It is likely she died because of head injuries. A full postmortem will follow.

    Relatives, family and friends have been informed.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Journey of Regret (Part 2)

Part 2 of 3

    However, after two days, I was struggling with the whole living away from home thing. Sneaking into shopping mall restrooms to wash before going for an interview and drying my hair under the hand-dryer. I found it all more than a little alien and I didn't get the jobs either. The most distressing thing for me though, was that I was really missing my mom. I was yearning to hear her voice, feel her arms wrap around me, and giving me a big hug.

     I managed to stick it out for another five days and now I'm on the train, going home. I'm feeling relaxed and I'm now thinking about things constructively, rather than destructively. I managed to make a call to my mom before the train left, from a payphone. I told her I was on my way back; there were lots of tears, but she's forgiven me for my unreasonable behavior. So much so, that she's making my favorite supper tonight. She's a great cook, and I love her chili beef and garlic bread. My stomach's rumbling just thinking about it.

     It's 8.00 PM and the carriage is empty. The other occupants are all seated quite a number of rows away, so there's no one to disturb me with their coughing, sneezing, snoring, or any other bodily function that takes their fancy.

     Suddenly I feel overwhelmed and here was me telling you that I was thinking constructively. Okay I lied; I was just putting on a brave face.

     Deep breathe; I’m putting my negative thoughts in a box and into temporary storage, in a dark corner of my brain. My mind goes blank, I now only hear the noise of the carriage wheels as they roll along the steel track and a state of calmness engulfs my whole being. I close my eyes in the hope that I may be able to drift off to sleep, the state of slumber being something that hasn't been easy to do the last week. The thought of a rat nibbling my toes, or someone stealing what little money I had, kept the adrenalin pumping and the sleep at bay. 

    OMG, I've been awakened by a sudden jolt and the carriage is in darkness. I hear some of my fellow passengers moaning and there's noise of general chaos echoing all around me.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Journey of Regret (Part1)

    I thought I would share a short story with you over the next three posts. Hope you enjoy it.

 Part 1 of 3
The Journey of Regret


     I wish in real life there was a pause, rewind and replay button. If there was, maybe I could rectify some things that have happened in the last week, for sure. Have you ever felt that you may have something in common with the guy called Humpty Dumpty? If you remember, his wall tumbled down round about him. I did, except my world came tumbling down. I opened my eyes one day last week and I decided that things could not go on as they were. I was miserable, everything I seemed to do was wrong. I just had to get away. Anywhere, anyplace.

     Well, my septimana horribilis started last Thursday morning at around 6:30 a.m to be exact. It began with my mom, going on and on about me staying out after curfew time. A curfew time that I felt, she had unfairly imposed upon me. Bottom line is we had a terrible row, I threw my dolly out of the pram big style and I stropped out of the house.

     This row was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. At school that day, I just could not concentrate. All I could think about was the cross words that my mom and I exchanged that morning. Arriving home in the evening from school, the rowing started again and I decided it was best if I went to my room; never surfacing for the rest of the night. So when I woke up on Friday morning  I made the decision to leave home.

     Mom and I didn't say much over breakfast, but we never did anyway. She thought I was heading for school as usual. But of course, I wasn't. To run away from home I knew I was going to need some money. Luckily, for me Dad had given me some money on his last visit and if I watched what I was doing, I would be able to get by on that until I got a job. One of my school friends had left home, she had gotten a job as a waitress, and that's exactly what I was going to do. I would be working long hours, but Emily, she’s my friend, said that the tips were great. 

     I checked the train timetable on my PC and I saw that there was an early train into Victoria. Instead of my schoolbooks, I packed what I could in the way of clothing, toiletries, and a couple of things that had some sentimental value into my carryall. I wrote a quick note explaining my reasons for going, and that I regretted that it had ever come to this. Dressed in my school clothes I set off as normal. Mom had no reason to suspect anything; we had disagreed a million times before. So what was knew?

     I arrived at the station feeling sick as a dog; I had never been away from home on my own before. I received a message on my cell phone from Emily just as my train was pulling out of the station, she said that she had to work. But all going well she would still be able to meet up with me first thing at Victoria station. But when my train turned up an hour and a half late, all my plans were thrown up in the air, adding to my anxiety. Eventually we did meet up and she took me back to her squat. The folks she’s sharing with were very accommodating; they were happy for me to move in and even happier when I offered to contribute something towards the communal living expenses.

to be contd: Monday19th November.

Monday, 12 November 2012

For Whom the Bell Tolls

    I swivel around on my chair, away from my desk and I take a long hard look at the bookcase before me. Dictionary after dictionary, thesaurus after thesaurus, take pride of place. English, American  English, Australian English, urban, slang, Spanish and French, line my shelves. Some of these treasured editions I've had since my schooldays, and I can tell you that those days are a hazy memory.

    Why am I giving you a running commentary of my workplace surroundings? Well, Macmillan Publisher, sounded the death knell for the print version of their English dictionary and I'm feeling somewhat sad about it.

    I lift down one of my early acquisitions and flicking through the leaves I look with fond memory at the dog-eared pages.  A sudden wisp of air catches hold of one of the loose leaves and I manage to clutch it before it floats to the floor. Emm, page 142, should not be inserted before page 268, but that's where it has spent years, not causing any kind of disquiet. The merging of the pages starting with the word garble and the word potbelly has been a happy one.

    You could argue that there are good reasons for print editions of the dictionary being phased out. After all, in the English language alone new words continually evolve, as our English-speaking world becomes an ever-growing melting pot. Meaning that a new edition has to be printed every four, or five years. Macmillan also points out that it's now online and free, no purchase necessary, which is a big plus.

    However, that's okay if you're online, you have access to the Internet, a computer, an eBook, or an android; never mind an electricity supply. When I write I try to stay offline, therefore if I want to search for meanings, synonyms, or antonyms, I don't want to go back online to do so. I favor my old, crumpled and beloved dictionaries. Therefore I feel a sadness at Macmillan's decision to end the printed version of the dictionary.

    How do you feel? Will it make ant difference to you?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Standing Proud

     Although I'm not American, it was very hard this week not to be caught up in the pomp and circumstance of the Election 2012.

     Twitter buzzed with excitement, and encouragement. TV, newspapers and blogs were crammed full with photographs of the people waiting in line, in the various allocated centers for voting. Some of the prospective voters chatted with friends; others settled down and just read a good book, whiling away the time until it was their turn.

     I was encouraged by the lengths that people were willing to go to, to cast their vote. Especially on the east coast, which still hasn't recovered completely from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. When living in a democracy, a vote is an entitlement we expect on attaining legal age.

     But it hasn't always been so; for women in the UK for instance, voting didn't come about until February 6 1918, and that was only open to women over the age of 30 years. Eventually in 1928, the age was reduced to 21 years of age; nevertheless, it's hard to take in that the right for females to vote only came to fruition here, 94 years ago.

     The Women's Suffrage Movement and women such as Emmeline Pankhurst campaigned for years throughout the world, Britain, America and Australia to name but a few countries. Their fight for social equality for women and the right to vote was finally achieved.

     Although these campaigns focused on women’s rights and attaining them a vote; voting is just part of the big picture. These activists helped create a free and progressive society for all, within a democratic society.

     The American’s who voted should be proud, because this is what the campaigners of the past, fought to achieve.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Our Unsung Heroes

     The last two weeks have been a living nightmare for thousands of people. Losing loved ones, close friends, homes and belongings.

     October the 22nd, was when a tropical depression formed off the Southern Caribbean and she started her journey leaving devastation in her path.

     Initially the winds were not the problem, but the deluge of rain that washed through the island of Hispaniola, turned many lives’ there, upside down. Making things even tougher for Haitians, as their country hasn't completely recovered since the earthquake there in 2010.

     The storm continued to brew and the birth of Hurricane Sandy was announced. By October 26, she was making her way across Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas. There was no stopping her.

     She continued to travel and made landfall on the east coast of America. She was now stronger than before and punished all, in her way. Carrying on into Canada still causing mayhem and tragedy.

     It will be easier for some to pick up the pieces of their lives where they left off, than others will. Many lives have changed forever and will need all the help they can get.

     For those who will need help, the Red Cross is a savior. Over 100 years ago, Swiss Henry Dunant set the wheels in motion in Europe to help others in times of life changing events.

     As did nurse and humanitarian, Clara Barton, during the American Civil War when she founded the American Red Cross.

     There will be so many stories to be told, but so many of our unsung heroes that we will never know about. The Red Cross I believe is one such unsung hero and unsung heroes save lives. : America Red Cross  : European Red Cross : InternationalFederation of Red Cross and Red Crescent

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Tweeting Needn't Be A Halloween Experience

    Social networking is an integral part of marketing ourselves as authors, a hard fact. However, it's not something that I initially felt comfortable with. The thought of blogging and tweeting filled me with angst. Not because I'm an unsociable person; that I can deny categorically. Because I was scared of ...? Who knows what I was scared of. But, it's strange how we try to avoid the things we're afraid of.  

    Gritting my teeth, I prepared myself to venture into unfamiliar territory. For my blog, I tried out both Wordpress and Blogger sites, before finally deciding to go with Blogger. There's probably very little difference between the sites, although I'm sure some of you may be able to tell me otherwise. For me it came down to which site I felt at ease navigating myself around. Nothing more, nothing less. I didn't care if my site, could sing, dance, or had bells on. I just needed to build my confidence in the usage of networking sites.
The Tweets

    My blog was set up and I had posted my first post; it was time to tackle Twitter. I'm not going to bore you with me setting up my account. Because, hey, how could I ever have believed it would be some kind of Halloween experience.
The Followers
    This is where I  introduce the feathery guys in the pictures. These are some of my little feathered friends; I'm lucky enough to have them live and roam my garden 365 days a year. Favorite, is a male robin, he has been networking with me, for six years now. He was scared at first, but gradually we built up an understanding and a great mutual trust.

    The Tweets, are Favorites' kids. They're three, of this year's brood of eight. As a dad, it's up to Favorite to teach the kids, how to survive in the wild. But Favorite is a clever guy, and he knows that there are times that he needs a little help from humans.  That's when he introduced the family to me, one by one, including Mrs. Favorite. Initially the Tweets and mum, were slightly apprehensive of me, but eventually they accepted me and as you can see are perfectly at ease in my company.

    The Followers, are house sparrows and they followed the lead of, Favorite, too. That means that they have thrown caution to the wind and they too happily feed whilst I'm around.

    The thing is I don't believe that my experience with social networking sites, is so different, from the interaction I have with, Favorite and company. Because it takes time to build mutual trust in order to interact with each other. It also takes time to build up followers, and similar to the birds a little vigilance is always needed. That's why I'm going to keep on tweeting.

    How do you feel about social networking?


Monday, 29 October 2012

Are Sweet Dreams Made of This?

    As someone who has a vivid and sometimes wild imagination, whilst I'm awake; it should be of no surprise to me that I also have realistic dreams. It certainly isn't a shock to my partner, or close family, when I recount my slightly bizarre, sleep induced visions. Often, eagerly trying to make some sense of it all.

    Some of these dreams I have written down immediately on getting up out of bed. My plan being that I might base a story round them, but so far, I haven't actually done so.

    Therefore when the words aren't quite flowing as freely as they should, I wonder if it would be worthwhile investing the time to keep a diary of my dreams. After all Stephanie Meyers said that her novel, Twilight, evolved from a dream and there's no need for me to recount her story.

    So on listening to a rendition of, the 1983 hit song, originally sung by Eurhythmics, Sweet Dreams (are Made of This); it struck me that it was something that I really should try. Because maybe my sweet dreams of having a bestseller one day, are made of this!

    Is this something you do? Is it something you've thought about doing? Please share your thoughts, on the subject.

Friday, 26 October 2012

'Sticks and Stones'

    "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." My grandmother taught this nursery rhyme to me at an early age. These words supposedly help a child ignore the insults targeted at them by others. However, taunts do hurt, and a retort in the form of verse is unlikely to suppress the pain caused by cruel gibes. 

    Bullying is not just about mocking remarks, though, is it? Young adults especially suffer from bullying in many other forms:

  • The surreptitious threats, in class.
  • Deliberate exclusion from a group they thought of as friends.
  • The silent, anonymous calls they answer on their cell.
  • The abusive content they receive by text, or via a social networking site.
  • The stealing of their identity and the use of it via a social networking site in a malicious manner.
    Unfortunately, the list goes on, and I haven't even touched on the bullying that some experience from those a little closer to home.

    Without a doubt, campaigns such as ‘National Bullying Prevention Month’ organized by Pacer, taking place in the USA this month and Bullying UK, who campaign regularly in the UK, are of great importance to these victims.Their websites offer wonderful guidance for victims, parents, and schools. Although it's not just about websites either, it's the continuous awareness programmes, that they also organize. Keeping the public interested is the hard part.

    Bullying is not a new problem, but the means we now have to communicate with each other can help tackle it on a worldwide basis. An example of how organizations can reach out to those who are affected are the author-based videos made by Open Road Media. Where the authors discuss their own experiences with bullies and bullying. By talking about this problem openly, those suffering may realize that there is no need to suffer in silence, and being victimized is nothing to be ashamed of.

    Importantly, these campaigns may even educate tormentors, that bullying is wrong.


Sunday, 21 October 2012

What Goes Into A Name?

    In days gone by, Christian names given to girls' and boys' had meaning. The origins of these names were mostly, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Celtic, or Teutonic.

    For example: Abigail (Hebrew): a father's delight.

                         Patrick (Latin)  : of noble birth.

    However, as we became more celebrity focused, so have our kids' names. Celebrities seem to go out of their way to ignore source. In fact, it appears that they may even be trying to shock us with the names they give to their children.

    So as authors, do we throw caution to the wind when we choose our characters' names? Making up weird and wonderful ones as we go along. Alternatively, do we think long and hard about our choice? Unlike reality, in the case of our fictional characters we can perhaps give them a name befitting their actions, as we do know the consequences of them.

    Generally, I pick my characters' names in the same way as I would have if they were my own kids. I try to use authentic, fairly simple ones. Although occasionally, I do throw in a few outlandish ones, just for good measure; after all, I do write fantasy.

    I find it fascinating as to what goes into a name. I would love you to share your thought process of choosing your characters' names with me, and the readers of my blog. Please leave a comment.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

It's Not Always As Easy As ABC

    This week Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), have been celebrating 'Teen Read Week' in libraries throughout the world. They're hoping to encourage young adults to take up reading.

    It's one of the few things in this life that costs nothing. It's also a versatile pastime; one that can be done any place, any time, and with no expensive specialist equipment needed. The only thing required is a library card.

    The card being, the key that opens the door of a whole new world. One where we can laugh, cry, love, hate, or quake in our boots. A world we can share with others, or just keep as our own little secret.

    But this week is part of a bigger awareness programme, one that should wake us up to the fact that not all of us are fortunate enough to have literacy skills. This can be because of lack of education, or a difficulty such as dyslexia.

    I can't even begin to imagine my world without being able to read. It's not all about reading a book though, is it? Apart from educating us about our own, or other cultures; being able to read increases our vocabulary, and helps us to communicate with others.

    Whether that's communicating with our friends, potential employer, tutors, bank, or doctor; the list is endless. Not forgetting, the cooking instructions on a ready meal, and the need to complete a tax, or social security form. It's not just as easy as ABC.

    We can all help celebrate National Day on Writing, with NCTE, New York Times, Learning Network, the National Writing project and others, on October 19th, by Tweeting #WhatIWrite.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The World Gets Even Bigger

    Amazon announced at the end of last week that they were extending their lending library to Kindle owners in the UK, Germany and France. Something that our friends in the U.S.A, are already familiar with.

     Launching first in the UK, late October 2012. In time for the launch of the 'Paperwhite' Kindle, November 2012, and Christmas shopping.

    To participate you have to be an Amazon Prime Member. So what will that fee of £49.99 get you, the member?

  • Access to 200,000 titles, including best selling titles, such as Harry Potter.
  • Allow the member to borrow one book per month for free.
  • Discounted delivery on other goods purchased via Amazon.
  • No late fees
  • If you like to scribble down the margins, or in between the lines of the text; you don't need to worry any longer about defacing a book. You can make your notes/highlights via the facility on the Kindle, and if you liked the book so much that you want to re borrow it, your notes will still be there when you download it again. 
     I see this news as something that both readers, and authors alike should applaud. For the reader in addition to the above, will be able to read books that they previously may have deemed too expensive.
    The author, both indie published via KDP Select, and those published through participating publishers hopefully will be winners too. After all their book is now more accessible to a much larger audience and of course, the increased royalty payments from Amazon I'm sure won't go amiss either.

    Do you have a view that you want to share?

Friday, 12 October 2012

Are You Taking Part?

    As most of you will be aware NaNoWriMo starts 1st November and continues until the 30th. So if you're planning to take part, you have approximately 20 days to get yourself organised. The plan of course, being that you write 50,000 words in a month.

    I personally have never signed up, and I'm totally intrigued by those of you who do. I've checked out a few forums, and there is a real air of excitement with regards to the event.

    People seem to have various reasons for wanting to take part. Some want to start a new project, some want to finally finish their WIP, and others just want to join in because the pressure  motivates them.

    Apart from the fact that I wouldn't have time to procrastinate, the other benefit I can see from taking part, is that for once I wouldn't be working alone. We all know it's a solitary occupation, and on occasions I think it would be nice to have work colleagues in the same room; especially when there are no words on the screen!

   Are you taking part? Why?





Monday, 8 October 2012

Don't Take The Kid Into The Candy Store

    Saturdays are the one day of the week that I try to take some time away from anything related to writing. Which means I either go shopping, catch up with chores, or catch up with friends and family.

    The weekend that has just ended was no different, and I wanted to not only start with the Christmas gift shopping. But I wanted to purchase birthday gifts for my two best friends who have a birthday at that time of year too.

   "Good fresh air gives you roses in your cheeks." My gran use to say, and stuck in front of a PC, or reading books doesn't really lend itself to that.  So as it was a gorgeous autumnal day, it was the perfect day to go out and about. Hopefully not only to buy a multitude of fabulous gifts, but exchange my pallor for one that belonged to someone in a slightly healthier occupation, than a writer.

    Only a short drive away, takes me to various large shopping malls. Therefore I'm kind of spoilt for choice. But as the weather was extremely nice I chose one which is located in an idyllic setting, and there is plenty good air to be had. I arrived there at around 10.30 a.m. The mall was pretty quiet, I inwardly cheered at the thought of not being pushed and jostled, or having to queue in line at the cash desks.

    I planned to head straight for one of the larger stores first. In the belief that if I didn't get all my gifts there, I could then work my way through the various other smaller ones on my way back to where my car was parked.
    The route I chose through the mall happened to take me past my favourite book/stationary store.  'Mm', I thought, 'I could get the girls a diary for a stocking  filler. It wouldn't do any harm to go in here first.' It's no use boooring you with the details of my purchases in the book store, but I never did see the inside of the store where I was going to make my planned purchases. I spent my whole time in the book store; all three hours. When I go into a book, or stationary store, it's like taking a kid into a candy, or toy store, I just can't tear myself away.

    So does anyone know of an accurate, long range, weather forecast website? Because it looks like next Saturday I'm going in search of Christmas and birthday gifts.



Friday, 5 October 2012

Love Them, Or Hate Them?

    I read a few blogs this week, all posing the same question. Should we have empathy for literary agents?

    Personally, I do. Which is surprising since I don't have one. Like many thousands of other authors, and aspiring ones, I've received a generic rejection letter, or just been ignored on many occasions.

    So why would I empathise with them? Let me explain; in my life before becoming a full time writer, I worked in the finance world. I underwrote personal loans, and mortgages. But please don't blame me for the state the world is in, I left before it all went wrong.

   Now when a prospective client applied for a finance product, firstly I'd: examine the completed loan/mortgage application form. Agent: reads query letter. Secondly: credit score. Agent: reads synopsis/ 5pages. Thirdly: examine wage slips, rent/mortgage payments etc. Agent: reads full, or partial ms.
Fourthly: decided if it made good business sense to do, and did it fit company business model. Approve/decline finance. Agent: decides if it makes good business sense to do, and does it fit company/their business model. Offer/ reject representation.

    My decision to approve finance was made on what I had in front of me, and an agent can only do the same. That decision is based on, bottom line, about making money.

    It doesn't mean there isn't an agent out there for you, or me. Just as when I declined a finance product it didn't mean that the customer would never get a loan/mortgage. But it it has to make business sense for the agent. They're not a charity.  That's why I empathise.

    Do you empathise?


Monday, 1 October 2012

Meet the Editor

    The Acquisition Editor informed me that my assigned Editor would be in touch. Filled with apprehension, mixed with excitement, I kept checking my inbox. Then, there it was, the email I had been waiting for. It was time to get down to business and meet my Editor.

    Physically it was impossible to do so, as my publishing company is in New York and I'm based in the UK. But as you know it's so easy to communicate by email, it doesn't make any real difference that there's the small matter of the Atlantic between us.

    This being the first time I've worked with an Editor, I didn't really know what to expect. At the offset my Editor asked me how I would like to proceed. But it doesn't matter how many books, blogs, or websites I've read on the subject, I knew I was a novice and there was no point in pretending otherwise.

    Suddenly I felt I was back at kindergarten, dependent on others to show me the way. But I have to say that the respect that's been shown to me, and the courteous manner in which the edits proceeded, the feelings of apprehension I had, quickly dissolved.

    Painlessly, I grabbed hold of the outstretched hand to help guide me along the way. That doesn't mean she has been easy on me, no sir. But, sometimes we need to be challenged and that brings the best out of us. That's what I've enjoyed about meeting the Editor.



Thursday, 27 September 2012

Signed, Sealed and Delivered

     I read my contract, over and over again; probably in disbelief at first. Then once the actual offer had sunk in, I went over it again, this time with my business head on.

    Being unagented, I had tried to do my homework before selecting the publishers I wanted to submit to. It's difficult to know where to start and I just wonder where I would have been without the Internet. I found online Writers Forums and Literary Agent websites invaluable.

   Some publishers have a copy of their contract on their website too, and this allowed me to do comparisons. Luckily for me I have a legal professional in the family, and he also helped me out when it came down to signing on the dotted line.

   So the contract was signed, sealed and delivered. What next? It was time to get down to business and meet the Editor.

Authors join me and tell us about your journey and promote your book. If you're an aspiring author tell us why you write and most importantly if you're a reader tell us what you like to read.

"Please contact me," she pleaded!!!!





Monday, 24 September 2012

Secret Formula?

    When I spoke about sending my MS off with a letter of introduction in my last post; of course I meant the dreaded query letter. There's so much advice flying around out there, I had no idea what to do for the best.

    But the thing I took from the numerous blog posts and books I read, was that the agent/publisher doesn't want to hear about you, the author, they want to hear about your book. They have to look at it from a business sense, bottom line, is it going to sell? Is it worth their blood sweat and tears? After all the reader doesn't really care if you have horns and two heads, but they may want to know if your characters do. The reader wants a good story, and rightly so. I know I do, when I pick up a book.

    So when I decided to send my MS off, I took on board what the experts were saying. I made the focus of my letter, my book, and not me. Even when the rejections came in, I still stuck with the same letter. I was tempted to alter it, or start again, but I didn't.

    I never took any of the rejections I received personally. I told myself, that the sender doesn't know me, it's not me they're rejecting, it's my story. There's plenty more stories whizzing around in my head, therefore if I don't succeed with this one, I will with another. But I wasn't about to give up on this one yet.
    Every time I checked my inbox my heart missed a beat. Then there it was, an offer of a contract from a publisher, I jumped up and down with excitement. Then the day after that I received another, then the next day another. I was spoilt for choice. I did the right thing and stuck to my plan.

    I'm  not about to tell you how to write query a letter, I wouldn't dare. But please take on board the advice from the experts and once you've written your letter, stick with it for a reasonable length of time. For goodness sake don't take comments, or rejections personally.

Do you have a similar story you'd like to share with us?  Or do you have useful advice for aspiring authors?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Finished, tears of joy, or is it tears of sorrow?

    I've finished. I sigh with relief, then I shed some tears. Are they tears of joy, or are they tears of sorrow? Because I'm having to let my baby go out into the world. It's great when a plan comes together, or a storyboard as it is on this occasion. But he's on his own now.

    He's my hero, I love him. But will everyone else? She's so beautiful. But is she beautiful enough? Oh, and the villain, he's scary. But is he scary enough? Yea...h!! The demons have been slayed. Or have they?

    What about the plot? Is the plot original enough? And the hook, I'm hooked. But will an agent/publisher be hooked, or more importantly the reader?

    I've clicked the send button. That's it, my protagonist is going out into the ether on his own. I can only give him a letter of introduction. Oh, I hope they receive him well. Oh no, he's just been trashed. Oh, that's better, he's pending. Oh, he's on his own, he's with strangers and he's having to wait in line. Will he make it to the top pile? Does he have the stamina?

    If you're a reader, what emotions do you like to experience when you read a book? If you're a writer how do you feel when you've finished your ms, and you're ready to send it off, or have sent it?

    Share your thoughts with us. Share your experience with us.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Pen and Paper, or PC?

    The storyboard is finished, the characters profiles have been created and it's time to start the first draft. For some reason I find it easier to be slightly more creative, using a pen and paper to get started each day. Once I'm confident that I'm heading in the right direction and the creative juices are flowing, I then sit down in front of the PC.

    I use a 'Speech Recognition' programme to transfer what I've already written by hand, onto 'Word Pad.' Then it's time to let my fingers do the walking, so to speak. Meaning I get typing. I write a minimum of 750 words a day, although I find I can normally write more. Before I finish for the day, I check with my storyboard that I've managed to include everything that I planned for. I tick the key points off as I go along, so hopefully I haven't missed out anything really important. Like setting the scene!!!
    I don't edit on the same day, I do that at the start of my next. Just before I take the pen and paper out again.

    How many words do you write daily? Do you use a PC, Laptop, or pen and paper? Come on share your world of writing with this blog.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Planner, or Pantser?

The little switch clicked and the cogwheels inside my brain began to move. Slowly at first, but nevertheless they started to turn and I came up with the idea for a story.

So what do I do first? Am I a planner, or a pantser? I'm very much a planner, although sometimes I wish I was a pantser.

I still use the basics I was taught at school. I firstly jot down a rough outline. Starting with the opening: I decide on my protagonist's world. Is he/she human, or paranormal? I choose his/her name.

Next, I decide what's the meat on the bones of the story: What happens to the MC, that forces he/she to step out of their comfort zone? Where does he/she go and what course of action do they need to take? What happens along the way?

Okay, I've made very rough notes on the beginning and the middle of the story. Now the end: Do I surprise the reader? Is the ending sad, or heart warming? Does the protagonist reach his/her goal?

These notes fit into one or two pages of a reporters notebook. I then take these notes and plot my story out. Bit by bit, chapter by chapter.

This is how I create my story. How do you? Are you a planner, or a pantser?

Monday, 10 September 2012


    In my last post I told you that I no longer plucked my story ideas from the sky. So where do I pluck them from?

    The answer is everywhere. Firstly: I use the major senses that I was gifted with; sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Then there's my own personal life experiences, that includes the people I meet, places I visit, books I read and news stories. The list could go on and on.

    Something, someone, or somewhere stimulates my little grey cells. A little button inside my head has been pushed. The seed has been sown, it takes root and it starts to grow. There are times my ideas flourish, my mind goes into overdrive. Then of course there are times the idea stagnates, but I never let it go, I just jot it down. It may take root, and blossom another time.

   Where do you get your ideas from?


Thursday, 6 September 2012

How I Got Started

    The long bus journey back from visiting my grandmother always started with a game of I Spy. But before long my brother and I would become restless. The storybooks my mother had read to us on the journey there, had now been read cover to cover. The threat of tearful tantrums loomed.

    In an effort to keep us amused, she would point to the sky and draw our attention to the various clouds that are prevalent in Scotland. The large, angry looking ones, took on the role of fierce monsters, the villains of the peace. The soft, fluffy ones, became the victims and were much in need of rescue. They had to be saved, from the fiends that chased and threatened them.

     But then the wind changed direction, the shapes of the clouds altered; some vanished, some merged, and victims suddenly became pursuers. She developed stories befitting the characters she had available to her.

    So when Santa presented me with my first typewriter,  I couldn't wait to write stories that I could literally pluck from the sky.

    This is how I got started, how about you?

P.S. My head is no longer in the clouds.

Sunday, 2 September 2012


 Welcome to my blog. Phew!! As you're able to read this post, I must have followed some of the instructions on how to create a blog correctly. The fact that I now have several Gmail addresses, is the bit I definitely got wrong.

 You're hoping that I didn't write this post, just to inform you that I'm not a whizz kid on a computer. Well I didn't; I want to share my writing experience with you. Including the signing of my publishing contract with Featherweight Press, for my debut YA Fantasy e-book, Salvation, No Kissing Required.

 Whether you're a reader of YA Fantasy, a published author, or an aspiring one, I'd love to hear from you. Readers, you're HUGELY important to authors and we need to know your likes and dislikes. Please leave a comment, or contact me. 
 Authors, come on, share your writing journey with me, and your future audience. Contact me and I can feature your work, or an interview with you. I just look forward to hearing from you all.

 My blog posts will be on a Mondays and a Fridays. Next post will be on Friday, 7th September 2012. Take care,and please, please contact me.