Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tweets & Blogging

I have really grown to enjoy using twitter to keep up with the world of books; reading author success stories, new releases and exciting news from debut authors. I love it!
I find it quite daunting how quickly news can spread and events can change, and whilst twitter can sometimes be a little too hectic or instantaneous it's also highly addictive and a great source of new reads.

Happily new reads also includes blogs as well as books. I have a long list of blogs I follow and yesterday that number grew by one more all thanks to twitter :)
The blog in question is the wonderfully named Through The Gateway; From The Writer's Nest by Emma Adams and there I found interesting reviews, Ready.Set.Write more of which can be found here: Ready.Set.Write and Whats Up Wednesday posts.
R.S.W is something I'd not heard of so after a little more reading turns out it's a network of writers that can motivate and encourage each other through setting goals for their work!
Awesomesauce :) Think NaNoWriMo in the summer with a tighter group of blog links and people but also without the added stress of "winning". Sometimes any amount of writing makes it a win in my book.
I'd love to be able to participate in this *places thinking cap firmly on head* just got to dig out the wip from the back of beyond in my laptop and look over it with fresh eyes. Three weeks behind, but there's nothing like a challenge to get motivated!

The Whats Up Wednesday posts really caught my imagination. Having seen something similar on a work related blog I realised I loved reading smaller snippets of the journey that other people are on, how they tackle problems, what their goals are...I'd like to contribute to that, it might also help to keep me on track and moving forward with my goals, whether that's in writing or life in general. It acts like a mini online diary, which was the aim of this blog originally but looking back it seems more like a dumping ground of any emotional baggage I had at the time >.> Time to pull my socks up and really get creative again.

So yeah, go check it out, link above :) I'm always on the lookout for new blogs - twitter here I come!

Also, a little bit of good news to follow in my next post...coming right up!

Thursday, 29 May 2014


A couple of work colleagues have taken part in various charity fundraisers recently, Race For Life and a fun run which has inspired me to get my back side into gear. I had wanted to do the 5k last year but work and time commitments meant it didn't happen and the events this year were upon me before I had realised what was going on! Rubbish excuses but I blinked and missed the past few months, being so absorbed in work.
But when I was looking through last week's edition of the Newsshopper I spotted an advert for a charity that is holding a 25k or 50k walk through London suburbs finishing in Kent. Woohoo! Fairly local event, walking which is better as my fitness levels have all but disappeared, and as a bit of a twist it's held at night! It's called Nightline for Widehorizons which gives kids the chance to experience adventure days/holidays at centres across Wales and the South East.

The problem is, I've found this a month before it's due to happen which gives me about 3 weeks to train and raise a minimum of £100 ... I don't do things by halves >.< so this could be a bit of a killer in terms of the pain barrier but it will be worth it.

- Some Weeks Later -

Okay with the swift passage of time I had completely forgotten about the above post! For some reason I must have been sidetracked and didn't finish or post it.
So fresh news!
My very lovely Dad kindly agreed to do the Nightline walk with me. 25K (15 miles) across Kent countryside for the charity Widehorizons. We were given a target to raise £100 per person and I am thrilled to say that we smashed it and at last count it was over £300 between the two of us which has contributed to over £14,000 raised in one event.
We arrived for registration and briefing at 6.30pm, received our orders and listened to a couple of great speeches reminding us why we were there and where the money raised would be going to...Why we were there will give you an idea of what spurred me on to take on this challenge.
By 7.45 we were off and walking at a steady pace, leaving the Eltham environment centre and taking in Fivearches Bridge, Chislehurst and Bexley. Pit stops at rest points were great for a quick drink and snack, and we finally finished at the Horton Kirby centre in Dartford at 12.30pm. We were thrilled with the time although my Dad is not so thrilled with the blisters >.>
Ultimately we had a great evening, met some fantastic people from close to home and from abroad, and raised much needed funds for children who will never experience the countryside - we are very much a countryside family and I realised just how lucky myself and my sister are with our upbringing...including having lots of dogs, cats, learning to ride horses and play in the great outdoors surrounded by beautiful fields. Other children of all ages should have the chance to experience this as well, so we signed up and hopefully helped to make a difference.

Bring on the event next year!
For more pictures and info see the Widehorizons Facebook Page

The cat takes a flying leap out of the bag!

What is this about flying cats leaping from bags, I hear you cry!
Well I shall tell all...

Oh goodness me, this post was started and some how abandoned two days after the events unfolded so I'm looking back on a month which was a time of high and low points between myself and the family.

On March 31st my dad asked me, out of the blue, whether my boyfriend of 3 years (in October!) had mentioned getting engaged. I was stunned as in my head our serious future was still set in the future a couple of years down the line after teacher training and the NQT year. My dad is a joker so I didn't take him too seriously at the time and realised that of course the next day was April Fools so perhaps he was playing a cruel joke? He didn't laugh along with me but I brushed off the suspicions even after my boyfriend started to drop hints about a surprise for my 23rd birthday on Easter Sunday! I didn't bring it up in conversation as the whole year we had been saving up and I had wanted to get away for a holiday but it was still clear we couldn't really afford to do anything.

I guessed we might be going somewhere for my birthday which would make a lovely treat, and hoped it would be somewhere historical. On the journey there, Chris played a CD and said it was for me...it turned out that he had written and recorded four original tracks about us which had me in tears (happy ones!) and a selection of tracks that were special to us. We eventually arrived at our favourite place, Hampton Court Palace(!) where he gave me a present; a book but I was under strict orders not to open it yet and that we would read it together as we walked through the palace taking photos all the way :-)

We set off and at strategic points that Chris had carefully planned out, he asked me to read from the book which was in fact a collection of poems he had written that were based around our first meeting, the days we spent walking in lavender fields, to visiting the Harry Potter studios and through to graduation day. The last couple of poems were a little mysterious which he told me was all part of the master plan! He could see I was confused, but by this point we had made our way into the gardens, past crowds gathering to see a parade for the Georgians, and to a bridge across one of the ornamental ponds. Looking through the wrought iron gate we could see deer grazing in the park beyond, and behind us was the majesty of the palace. Finally he asked me to read out the final poem which he repeated after me and then one of the best questions I have ever heard in my life...Would I marry him?

My.heart.stopped. Then I remembered to breath and 'yes!' was rushed out and we were stood grinning like a couple of crazy happy people! It was then he explained that we would also be going to the jewellers to choose a ring that afternoon and that he had been saving hard all year long...so I had a little cry at this news, everything made sense at last!

His family and my in-laws-to-be hehe are very happy for us, mine are getting used to the idea which I suppose was only to be expected being the eldest daughter and all but we have gotten over the rocky part with them and now we are both looking on to the future and making some plans for the months and years to come, a long engagement it will be but that's what plans are for! :-)

My sister said, Happy Easter, Happy Birthday and Congratulations after she saw me at the end of Easter weekend - we were and are euphoric about our relationship, where it is going and what is to come :-)
Best.Birthday.Ever! Best.Fiance.Ever and I love saying fiancé!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Letting off steam!

It is a truth universally known that as one part of your life starts to go right, another part goes catastrophically wrong - not entirely sure if I've made that up or paraphrased, possibly from Bridget Jones...nevertheless, it appears to be true. For me anyway.

I've pulled my head out of the sand for once and am re-assessing the work in progress, albeit from a safe distance of plotting in my head in spare moments. I've yet to open the document which is tucked away in my laptop. Truth it, I am still monumentally scared of it! Ridiculous, but there it is. I am scared of it being worse than I remember and then having the prospect of having to re-write it, or my worst nightmare to scrap it altogether. It's not something I want to face, and last year I wasn't strong enough emotionally to deal with it. Writing was and still is a hobby but it clashed with work, both the job I was doing and the search for the career prospect that could get me on the first step of the ladder. I felt guilty for writing at all in my spare time so it dwindled and stopped completely. Then the amazing thing happened and I got the full time job for which I am eternally grateful, but writing was pushed even farther away whilst I concentrated on getting things right in the office and focussing on what I had to do. Now thought I am finding that I would like to go back to my hobby, add to the story and maybe even finish it this year...I feel happy thinking about it, but I know how much hard work it will take. But I think I can cope now *insert insane grin here*

The catastrophic bit comes from the day job surprisingly enough! Perhaps I'm blowing it out of proportion and only time will tell really. Lack of communication is frustrating and I am starting to feel incompetent even when other people are making the mistakes...something to work through, but it means taking my eye off the writing again. It comes down to Making Time, setting it aside specifically to do what I enjoy, a bit of self discipline again. Just got to get off the carousel of worry for a while and having a day off in the week has helped enormously; I spent today just shopping with mum, making her laugh, spent a little too much on gadgets and toys that I've been after for some time and got a decent deal in hindsight...I enjoyed being able to forget about work for a day. Back to the grindstone tomorrow, but tomorrow is another day.

I forget sometimes how good it feels just to be able to write freely like this, I impulsively want to apologise for ranting but for once it feels good to let off some steam :-) thanks for listening!

Friday, 7 February 2014

I do despair...

Soooo I will attempt to keep this from being a rant and raver over the state of the Young Adult novel market, so here it goes...

Since I can remember I have always loved reading and find pure joy and elation at being able to lift words from a book and see it play out in my imagination, bringing the characters to life and come to care for them through the pages. Some of my earliest memories are of Biff and Chip (primary school books that I'm sure some of you must have heard of ;) ) Kipper, The Worst Witch series and lots more.
Then Harry Potter exploded into my world and I immersed myself in the books! Hogwarts was so very real and in my heart of hearts I'm damn sure it exists really...right?!
Anyway I was thrilled when the films came out and as much as I enjoyed them, the books are far superior and I still re-read them annually. Fantastical, fresh, fun and ultimately believable. I loved each and every one of those characters, well with the exception of most of the Slytherin population anyway ;) Snape rules.

As I've got older I finally found books that indulged my love of history and fiction and one of my favourite authors for this genre has to be Phillippa Gregory. She is a fellow historian and uses facts and mythology to bring the stories to life which is fantastic! But every so often I like to dip back into the YA genre, just to see what is feeding the teenage population these days.

Here is the problem and hence why I am so despairing...today I found a list of YA novels being released this year and upon reading the blurbs my heart sank. There are almost no original ideas being brought forward, just the same old re-hash of pitiful girls going after the bad boys, a struggle between chasing the hot guy or saving the world, or the plain old love triangle - all revolve around tragic love. Now, I have no problem with the love element but when it becomes so prominent as to blur the real storyline then it is a pain.
Take for instance the Twilight Saga. I remember when it first arrived in the UK, pretty sure I was one of the first to read it in my school (yeah still proud of finding it first!) and loved the idea of it. It was new, a fresh spin on an old love story - Dracula meets Romeo and Juliet - it worked and sparked another phenomenon with teenage girls across the globe. Fair enough. But then there were The Vampire Diaries and True Blood and so many copycats and very quickly it became stale. A pattern is very definitely emerging in the genre of YA lit...or perhaps I'm not looking hard enough?

The Hunger Games is another example, the series is brilliant but was followed by Divergent which in comparison is another dystopian novel set in the future when the world has fallen into separate factions. Fine. But the writing is pretty awful, the characters are flat and I got half way through it realising that I wouldn't be investing in the remaining books. I finished it, I always try to stick at a book no matter how annoying it may be, just in case it contains a hidden surprise to save its face. No surprises here, it just didn't do it for me.

So back to this list...nothing on it grabbed my attention, inspired me or sparked my imagination. I rolled my eyes and sighed in exasperation that this was all that was on offer to the next generation of readers. Perhaps I have grown out of the YA genre altogether and simply won't be able to go back to a simpler view point that seems driven almost completely by hormonal lust? Heck I'll hold my hands up now and say I fell for Mr Cullen pretty hard, but how many times can teenage girls be expected to fall over at the next hot guy that sparkles??? There has got to be more substance to these books surely? Maybe I'm too fussy. I know that not every novel needs to be heavy going philosophical examination of the human condition - it would suck the fun out of life having that beaten over anyone's head, but come on people, enough of the silly love triangles. Give me some meat, some real conflict! Please?

Heh, I'll just have to write it myself? ;)

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year!

A little bit of tradition to start off the New Year :-)

Auld Lang Syne - Robert Burns, 1790s

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, (old)
And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o' lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my Dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, (take)
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes, (two, have, hills)
And pu't the gowans fine; (pulled/daisies)
But we've wander'd mony a weary foot, (many)
Sin auld lang syne. (since)

We twa hae paidlet i' the burn, (two/have/paddled/in/brook)
Frae mornin' sun till dine: (from/dinnertime)
But seas between us braid hae roar'd, (broad/have)
Sin auld lang syne. (since)

And there's a hand, my trusty feire, (friend)
And gie's a hand o' thine; (give us)
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught, (goodwill draft)
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp, (buy/cup or tankard)
And surely I'll be mine; (buy)
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Robert Burns (1759–1796)
Letter to George Thomson, incorporating a manuscript of "Auld Lang Syne," September 1793

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Eve Thoughts

Well Christmas is over again for another 359 days and so far I have avoided the sales like the plague although my mum has fallen prey once again. There is something about the allure of huge red signs with giant white 'Sale' slogans that draws her like a moth, is it weakness? More habit and it's not one I want to get into, so I stay away from the marauding nut cases that prowl the shelves and rails, grabbing what they can regardless of size, shape or design! One of mum's favourite phrases is 'I've got to get it out of my system' and 'I'll treat myself' which turns into an excuse for a spending binge on things she bought on impulse...be warned, I'll admit to having also partaken in this guilty pleasure, although I'm curbing the urge to just spend spend spend! So I'm keeping an eye on two items in particular that I really would like but they are vastly out of my budget range - little hint they begin with the now immortal letter 'i'... I'll let you think about that for a second ;-)

Away from the spending lecture, and I'm feeling more and more as though I can carry on with the work in progress and I might even make it a New Year's Resolution and crack on with it in January before the day job gets busier and I need to focus on it. Of course I still have spare time, after work and the weekends but some how I lack motivation for those sensible times...my brain prefers to work in a darkened room in a silent house which in my little world means about 11 pm, pitch black, everyone else sound asleep and then suddenly an alarm goes off in my head and I'll lay awake for at least an hour. This usually involves mulling over the events of the day, the week, my family, my emotional stability and then if the muse is awake it will turn to the story still on the laptop but rather more dormant than I would like. So perhaps I should make more time and actually make a go of it. It's a cliché I know but I do dream of being published, either through the traditional route of finding an agent, publishing house, making a book deal (in my very deepest and darkest of dreams muhahahaha!) or via the now ever growing route of indie publishing both of which I am rather cautious about, having listened to many horror stories since I plugged into the wondrous world of writing way back in my early university days aka 2009 to be exact when the story that had been floating around in my sub-concious finally kicked in and forced it's way into my mind, demanding that I sit and write something down...I'm still proud of my nanowrimo efforts of 2012, plans for continuing the 2013 journey were stalled by the starting of the day job on, you got it, the very 1st of November! I was so nervous and wanted to focus on Getting Things Right, I decided to be sensible (there's that word again >.< ) and pushed the thoughts of nano out of my mind, whilst wistfully reading other's adventures on Facebook.
Obviously, I've come out of my shell hehe seeing as I'm writing this from the office computer, but I've done my filing, checked the emails and I'm all alone there's no one here beside me - ahem just a little Donkey moment there! - but you get the point.

I read an interesting article somewhere on the great wide web a few days ago, about inspiration being a mythical thing that really has little use in the writing world...I've heard other writers talk about the Craft and honing the skills of writing and mastering language before, but it struck me suddenly that it is the Craft I should be practising, not waiting around for the imaginary bolt of lightening that is inspiration, thrown with occasional accuracy by the elusive Muse. Practise I must, for like all things the tools grow rusty with lack of use, I must remember how to turn a phrase, make my characters come alive and dance to the tune of my choice - wish me luck as I wish you all the best of luck with your work in progress.

The family has a collective bout of cold and sniffles, thought I had escaped but it was not to be so I snuffled and sneezed through the past few days and dared to hope I would be back to health by the celebrations this evening. Thinking an afternoon cat nap will help prepare me for a long night of fun and games spent with our lovely neighbours as it's their last Christmas and New Year in our road, they move in just a few weeks time :-( We will be sad to see them go, in the 10 years we have known them they have let us into their circle and made us so welcome...refreshing in a time when community spirit seems to be dying out and a friendly face, kindly voice and helping hand are almost non-existant! It's at times like these when I begin to wonder that making a lot of noise and voicing opinions about The State Of Our Once Great Nation isn't enough. To quote of my favourite authors - you fantasy guys will recognise it for sure! - 'Words are wind' - just a lot of hot air which is no use to anyone! Why not set about helping, make yourself useful? The more I think about it, the more I think we, the great and terrible Youth Of Today, should be helping our elders and betters. We might be the future but we're certainly not doing anything to help our own futures, so in looking forwards perhaps we need to look back at what has been and the people that built our country in the last century or so? Food for thought definitely. Food. Energy. Money. Key things in our lives but how many of us, young and old, actually take into account how much we take and use? Do we think about what we can give back, put into the community, locally, nationally, at home and abroad? We need to pull together before the country falls apart. As such volunteering at local food banks would be a good way to start, it's something I've looked into very briefly. It may give me some satisfaction in knowing I'm helping out people who have been neglicted by the powers that be, but it also unites communities. Volunteer in a charity shop, soup kitchen, animal rescue, raise money for a good cause, raise the profile of something that matters to YOU.

That's my two cents anyway *jumps down from the soap box* I don't want to be adding to the surplus hot air so perhaps my New Year's Resolution should be to stop procrastinating, take the time to volunteer and take a stand no matter how small for something that matters to me?

Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful (I love public firework displays far too much for complete peace and quiet ;-) ) New Year! See you in 2014 in what I hope is a prosperous, peaceful and successful year for all!