Goodwood

Goodwood

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Keep Running

I run fast, as fast as my legs will carry me. I mustn’t get caught. I know he’s chasing me and he’s probably not the only one. I’ve gotta’ out run him. But I’m fitter, younger and I can not let him catch me. My arms power my body into the wind, the air is cool but I concentrate on my feet. I feel my feet hit the ground beneath me. I place one foot firmly in front of the other, focus on my breathing keep it steady and run and run and run. I ignore the hardness of the pavement as my trainers pound the grey slabs, as I power myself on, and push my legs harder to cover the distance, the ground beneath me moves faster and faster but I can hear the sirens. Screaming, wailing sirens, shriek as they advance towards the campus. The campus I’m trying to put some distance between me and the law. I dare not allow myself to think about her, examine what I did. I didn’t mean to… honest. I got so mad. I saw red. I saw red mist. She made my blood get up and then, there was no stopping. She doesn’t get me - I love her. I love her and only her. Stop thinking, keep running.

I can’t hear anyone, no other feet pounding the pavement, loud like mine. I want to glance over my shoulder and check. I don’t, I don’t want to know if he’s following me, close enough to close the gap. I just keep running. A sharp jagged pain grabs my attention, it tears at my side, vicious and spiteful. I clutch my side, Christ, not a stitch not now, as slow my pace. I catch my breath I begin to jog at a steady pace stop running flat out as the entrance to the walled garden comes into view. It’s just ahead, if I slip in quietly, will he see me disappear, will he follow? I scan the seats, most are empty at this time of the morning, people already gone to work in the offices, and it’s too early for mums with kids. A tramp sits on our bench, the secluded hidden seat under the arbour. We used to meet here every lunch time, just Susie and me. When she used to talk to me. I don’t want to share the bench with this dirty tramp. I need to be alone, get my head straight, work out what I’m gonna’ say.

‘Piss off mate, go on piss off, take your crap with you.’
‘Or what?’
‘I’ll knife you… that’s what!’ I watch relieved as the tramp shuffles away and I don’t get my knife out, but I feel it in my pocket. I like the feel of my knife in my pocket. It’s reassuring. I sit alone on the seat. My breathing is heavy, my chest aches I’m out of practice I haven’t run that far, that fast in a while. My hearts pounding, I take short sharp breaths and wipe away the sweat from my face with the back of my hand before it trickles down and drips. I know the police will look for me – what the bloody hell am I gonna do now? If only she’d stopped and if only she’d talked to me none of this would have happened. I just wanted to talk. Her voice keeps ringing in my ears, ‘I’m not discussing this…’ was all she said as she turned and walked away. How could she be so cold? Her red lipstick. I love her mouth. I want to pull her close, hold her fast, kiss that wide mouth, those lips.

‘Hang on a minute… I just want to talk.’ But she did not appear to hear me... my body tensed I wanted to shout, no don’t go, but I didn’t, there were too many people about. My feet begun to move as I broke into a sprint, I closed the gap and grabbed her from behind. Pulled her off her feet and back down the steps, she struggled but I’m stronger, she started to scream and then she stopped screaming. My knife was at her throat. Christ I’d didn’t mean to hurt her, I just had to stop her screaming, but other people started shouting. A couple of guys tried to intervene started to walk towards us, but I can’t remember what they said, I wasn’t listening to them. I dragged her hard, her feet couldn’t keep up, she stumbled but I held her firm, stopped her from falling to the ground. I get annoyed when guys give her so much attention. Susie’s gorgeous. I can’t handle it when other guys chat her up, don’t they know she’s mine? I simply can’t contain my anger, it grows and before I can stop myself my frustration spills over and I shout, lash out, and yell. I thought I could control my anger but I realise now I can’t contain my rage. I need to hunker down, hide from the world, and figure out what to do next. I want everyone to go away. Fat chance.

My knife feels good in my hand. The feel of the cool blade begins to calm me down. I run my finger along the blade, bloody hell it’s sharp, the blade slices and breaks my skin, draws my blood. I suck my finger taste the metal. I turn the knife over and over in my hands, the sun glints off the blade. I like the way this knife makes me feel strong, protected. When she talks to me I like the way Susie makes me feel. If only she talked, not walked. I move my hair from my eyes, the sunlight pierces my brain, it doesn’t matter that I had good intentions this morning ‘cos I screwed up big time. I’m sorry Susie, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to scare you. Oh god she’ll never talk to me again. Never, not after…I plunge the knife in to my thigh. Shit! Can’t run now. The jeans grow red, a seeping creeping expanse of red. God my leg hurts. But not as much as Susie ignoring me hurts my head. If only she’d just smiled…

*

Hope you like this piece not sure what to do with it now… any suggestions?
Tried to capture a self-absorbed, self-centred youth.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A Jewel box of a gem

It is not often that I’m totally surprised or taken aback by a friend but recently I had a wonderful and unexpected experience. It may sound odd but I feel I’ve found a place I’d like to curl up and get very, very drunk.

I have a friend who lives in a house that is deceptive. From the street it looks quite normal, a two up two down Victorian terrace. But oh my, once inside there is another surprise. The house has four stories as it clings to side of a small cliff face and there are two further floors below street level, with narrow flights of stairs that are quite steep, which need care to be negotiated successfully.

Down at the basement level of the house is a door, narrower than usual and just wide enough to gain access.

The lights were turned out except for the one behind the door and then my friend suggested I open the door.

I was dubious, unsure what would greet me…

Oh the wonderment, the sheer beauty! Row upon row of neatly racked bottles. Iridescent colours, pale yellows, rich oranges, ruby reds and deep sexy clarets. Each bottle another version of sloe gin or raspberry vodka, well any clear alcohol that had been steeped in fruit from greengages to blackberries.

Truly it was a sight to behold.

Honestly I could have stayed there a very long time and consumed a vast quantity of medicine. Yes to me it looks like these bottles have truly magical and medicinal powers.

I think I was also struck by the neatness. Each bottle shone, glittered in the light, its own shade plucked from the rainbow, each bottle a different shape and size snugly fitted in orderly racking that displayed each individual item to its best advantage. Perfection.

It really was a broom cupboard in a previous life but boy what a transformation. Truly the best ‘make over’ I’ve ever seen.

Monday, 12 December 2011

‘Boiling a kettle & making tea.’

On waking the first thing you do is get up and go downstairs to make tea. The kettle stands silent in the same spot, waiting to be used. Your right hand reaches out and clasps the kettle’s handle and you pick it up one handed, then turn and walk towards the sink. With care you open the lid, and place the newly revealed opening beneath the faucet. The lid broke sometime ago and flies off into space if you exert too much force.

The tap is turned on. Water spurts, and then splutters, until a sudden whoosh of activity, it issues forth. You almost jump, and if you’re careless and drift a little the rim of the kettle will catch the fountain and spray everything. Wall, sink and wet your Pj’s’ with an unnecessary intensity of coldness that makes you swear out loud. Usually something suitably unrepeatable.

The kettle fills quickly not quietly. You turn off the tap. Push the lid back into place until it locks into position and with two hands carry the kettle back to the original work surface. With care you place it on the stand and flick the switch. The red light pops on. Cheery and bright in the winter morning gloom. The roar of the rumble as the water begins to boil makes the kitchen feel as if it is coming to life. The quiet solitude broken by the rapidity of the rolling boil. It’s quick this old kettle it’s why you haven’t replaced it yet.

Your hand reaches up in the air, finds the cupboard door without you looking, your fingers loop casually around the handle and pulls it open. The tea caddy faces proudly, outwards. You pick up the sealed container, pop its lid wide open and select two tea bags. These are dropped carelessly onto the surface.

The smell is familiar, slightly oily, aromatic bergamot the box had stated. The lid snaps shut. Seals in that fragrant perfume. And again without looking your hand returns the tin to its place in the cupboard, well-located, within easy reach for next time and with a lightest touch the cupboard door swings closed.

You pull open the fridge door. The light shines out highlighting its contents. You stoop, retrieve the bottle from the door rack and twist the green cap off, intending to remove it, place it on the work surface. The lid flies. Airborne it crosses a vast expanse of floor before landing with a clattering noisiness unlike any magic flying saucer. You go to pour the milk and stop. Turning you open another high level cupboard, reach up and take down two mugs, one a pretty multi-coloured butterfly scene on a lilac background, the other an old favourite, a VW Golf.

The milk is poured, measured into these two receptacles. I’m very particular milk first then the tea, never the other way round. You humour me, ‘Yes dear,’ when I say I can tell the difference. And opening the drawer beneath the kettle you rummage, find a spoon and place it on the work surface next to the mugs.

At last the kettle finally boils, it switches off and you lift it. Pour a small amount of water into the empty pot. You put it back and pick up the patterned teapot, a modern design in blue and white, with both hands and swirl this hot liquid around before turning and tipping it away down the drain. The warmed ceramic pot is ready. Teabags are dropped into its cavity and the kettle is picked up. You pour slowly, the steam escapes, rises, hits the surface of the overhead cupboards and curls out tendrils of white vapour that disappear in an instance. You return the drained kettle to its stand, it clicks into place. Before you pop the lid of the tea pot on, you stir the water into a whirlpool and watch the teabags swim, round and round.

You take two steps and nudge the green lid out from under the washing machine with your big toe, pick it up, blow on it to make sure there is no dust adhered to the lid and twist it back firmly. The milk is stowed away and the fridge light goes out, extinguished until the next time. The kettle is quiet. The kitchen is silent.

You fold your arms, wander over to the back door and look out over the garden, the garden wears a thin layer of frost, everything is coated in white. You pull your dressing gown tight around your torso and you wait for the brew to stew. You round your shoulders, then shake them out before stretching your arms above your head. But you do not yawn.

Occasionally you will place the cups and the pot and the sugar bowl on a tray and then go back to bed but not today. You need to get going. You need a shower. But not before this amber nectar has reached your lips, revived your dry thirsty throat. A sudden cough grabs you. Your body convulses. The wait is almost over, one final stir with the discarded spoon, its time to pour the tea.

A long stream of dark golden brown liquid ascends from the pot to the mug. It mixes with the milk, turns pale. Fills the mug. Bubbles form, sit proudly in a gaggle on the surface that makes you smile. Yet as the bubbles dwindle, your smile fades.

Temptation to lift a mug and sip this hot invigorating liquid will result in a burned mouth. Patience is required. You pick up both cups and head off back up stairs, whistling.

***

Observation of the small details in life can help me and lead me to write a more detailed character/situation. Writing a piece like this about an everyday occurrence, with all its attendant actions can be a cathartic exercise.

When I wrote this piece initially it was in the first person. But then I decided to attempt the second person, which I’d never done before. I wanted more distance and to give the impression of being a voyeur. I’m not sure if it works. But if I don’t try these variations I will never find out what does and what doesn’t work.

There are so many things that I could take for granted and in trying to find the magic/mystery I may miss important elements that are essential to a character.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The 'Magic' in my day

I often sit and wonder at the beauty of the day. This morning is no exception. The day dawned dull and full of despondent clouds. A few hours on and it has cleared to reveal an ice blue sky, a crisp chill in the air and sunshine. The sun creates its own magic as the fence at the end of my garden begins to steam, soft tendrils of curly-cue smoke drift on a lazy upward spiral… in no rush to be released to vanish into the ether. For me this is magical, that an almost transparent mist can rise and vanish before it is seen, and if I had not paid attention to the small things then I would have missed its beauty. But enough of my mesmerised daydreaming I have chores that need attention, but next tea break I’ll sit by the window and watch the view change.

Did you experience a Magic moment today?

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

One week’s worth of thankfulness:

It has been a quiet week for me but these are a few of little things I've been thankful for:

24.11
I'm grateful for everything I have and for still being here to enjoy it!

25.11
At the end of each day I take time to reflect and remember what was good about my day. (Spending time with a loved one that I don't see very often & having a good heart to heart chat.)

26.11
No act of kindness is too small an act.

27.11
My creativity continues to thrive as I aim to commit my ideas to paper.

28.11
If you witness a kindness in action - does it lift your spirit? It does for me.

29.11
The sound of small feet running across the floor, as next door’s two year old races round their house with gusto – love it

30.11
A girlfriend getting in touch by text, after a long absence, I'm so glad we are still friends, *can’t wait to meet up and chat* #ThingsImThankfulFor

In the run up to Christmas everything and everyone seems to get more frantic... so any tips to reduce the 'Franticness' would be welcomed.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

My First: Anniversary and Birthday

Today is my 1st anniversary of starting my Blog and my 1st birthday celebration for being published! So I have balloons, cake, candles and a glass of bubbly.

When I started my blog a year ago I’d just been published by Etherbooks and knew that if I wanted people to read my stories then I would have to find a way to publicise my writing. And I’d little idea where to begin however I find it quite staggering that I’m still waffling… going strong a year later.

I’m being very candid when I state that I’d absolutely no idea what I was going to write when I started, although I was excited. With two of my short stories published, how would anyone find me on the internet?

The only route I knew was to begin a Blog. But I was nervous.

Taking stock a year on I’m genuinely stunned that I have written more than +136 blog posts, had a further six short stories published, acquired +85 followers for my blog account here @1Lovelife and gathered a massive following of more than three thousand Twitterers on Twitter.

To me this is all still quite astonishing and astounding and from these figures I would like to believe that I must be doing something that people like…

So my second year holds new challenges but I’m not sure what these will be yet although I plan to try to maintain my current status and if possible I’d like to think that I can grow it too. I’ve promised myself that I will complete my novel. I will continue to write my short stories. I will keep submitting my work to new platforms. I will complete novel no 3 as well! So I will keep posting my blog spots. And I will have a Group Anthology to promote in the New Year.

However the biggest and most daunting step is going to be finding an agent or a publisher to express interest in my novel.

I hope there will be lots more good news as 2012 promises to be a year full of exciting events. And more than anything else I’ll continue to share what I find out, whether by promoting other writers books and/or blogs or my own. I will seek out information that has worth and value and spread it, by sharing.

Here’s to 2012

Thursday, 24 November 2011

What do I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day?

Well loads actually! I have my health back… so that’s got to be a winner in anyone’s vocabulary. And I have time to do what I want to do as currently my time is my own. I have a family that love me and I love them. So what more could I possibly want?

I’m looking forward to driving again in a couple of weeks but in the mean time I walk as far as I can and see many things that I would miss if I was driving. And I’ve been a passenger for the past seven weeks and this has allowed me to look out of the window and admire the view more keenly. Peek in to more gardens than I usually see. Observe more detail, like last night’s glorious sunset, a blood orange infused sky.

I sleep well most nights and if it’s damp and foggy outside when I wake, I slide back beneath the sheets and have breakfast in bed and then read a book, before surfacing to have a long soak in the bath. I’m certain a few of my friends with young children would choose to swap with me if they had a chance.

My greatest pleasure recently has been walking along the seafront on a glorious autumn day when the sun has shone and the wind has dropped so that the day is balmy with a gentle onshore breeze giving me a refreshing and delightful walk. It has felt restorative.

These are just a few of the things I have to be grateful for recently and if I sat down and wrote a proper list of gratitude I think it would go on for quite some while.

If you had to sit and write a list what would spring to mind first? A gratefulness for your creativity, an ability to communicate, or simply being here.

Over the next month I’m going to make a daily record of what I have to be grateful for in the run up to Christmas.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Reading groups:

Back last year I decided to start a reading group with a dear friend of mine and after lots of promotion amongst our own circle of friends we finally set up the group.

Well, that first evening I was quite deflated… there was her and me and one other joint friend. Not the grand start I had hoped for! Lots of people had expressed interest in the idea but regretted they were too busy to join us. As most of our friends have had children and still work full time. Time, or rather the lack of it, is their most precious commodity.

We persevered and I’m amazed at how many people now attend, it varies month on month but the group has grown by word of mouth and we do seem to enjoy a truly healthy debate each month even when we don’t particularly enjoy the chosen book.

Sadly, Black Dahlia, although excellently written did not appeal too many of us, its harsh brutal world wasn’t necessarily a world we wanted to inhabit, especially at the end of our own gruelling day.

Then the group read: ‘The Help by Katherine Stockett,’ and this went down very well and with the release for the film, eight of our group went along to the local cinema to watch the movie. We all loved the film despite the fact it did not stick rigidly to the book. But the important part of the relationship between maids and author was well represented and true to the book. The fact that so many of them managed to get childcare in place and enjoy a girl’s night out was a huge achievement.

The group’s book this month is: ‘Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.’ Well most of them couldn’t wait to talk about it whilst we sat at the bar having a chat before the film started. And one of the women paid the author what I would class a really big compliment: ‘I enjoyed reading Fingersmith so much, I went out and bought another book by Sarah Waters.’ Isn’t that a lovely compliment?

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that our group will go from strength to strength as I know that actually finding time in the run up to Christmas is going to be difficult for many of our members.

Lots of the mums will have commitments at school for nativity plays, carol concerts and bazaars that will rob them of reading time and free/spare time but I’m hopeful a few of us will still meet, as I have truly enjoyed hearing others peoples comments about books and authors and writing in general.

If you haven’t joined a reading group yet why not set one up – I did and I’m enjoying the interaction hugely. It has been well worth the effort.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

No matter…

‘No matter what you do in life it is absolutely impossible to please everybody, so just do your best and smile.’

I had another 'nice' rejection email which didn’t do much to lift my spirits yesterday but now that I have slept I am pleasantly surprised how different I feel about it this morning, now the suns shines.

At least they had the courtesy to respond and let me know so that I can release this piece to another potential platform.

I find it strange that in this modern era of instant technology that some publishers do not respond after 7 or 8 months - in my business life that would have been a least a disciplinary procedure and probably a ‘sackable’ offence for a repeat offender!

Does it really take that long to make a decision as to whether a publisher likes a piece or not?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

I am 1 in a 1,000

New mantra: I’m 1 in 1,000

Remember: I am 1 in a 1,000

I mean this!

If I consider that:

1 in 1,000 Manuscripts sent to a publisher gets published as a book.

1 in 1,000 Books published by a publisher makes the best seller listing.

1 in 1,000 best selling books makes it to the No 1 spot in the best sellers list.

Then I must aim to be 1 in 1,000 not once, or twice or three times but many times over if I am to succeed. A sobering thought for an aspiring novelist.

Nothing like aiming high... because if I miss, I’ll end up among the stars!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Autumn's bounty...





My garden before the rain ravaged the leaves & left the branches stripped & bare!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Facing the uncertainties:

I keep asking myself why am I battling with myself to finish this book, the novel I desperately want to see published, sitting on a shelf in a bookstore near you? What is it about writing that bothers me?

In truth, after some consideration, I don’t think my battle has anything to do with the novel, it’s more about how I have spent my time recently. Or could it be that I struggle to complete tasks?

I’d say I am a great starter but less good as a completer/finisher, although I have no trouble with short stories… and I don’t think this is an industry where I can get away with doing a bodge-it and scarper routine. I think I have to learn a new mantra: I am a closer! I am a closer!

Hmm… Perhaps I am being too hard on myself.

It pains me to admit it but housework has long been postponed but household chores have to come first… The house needs to be easier to look after as I’m going to need help to do some things and I can’t expect people to help me if I leave the house in a disorganised state.

This summer my health was below par and I’ve struggled to remain upright and fully functioning. I don’t think I had realised how much of an impact the situation had on my creativity. But I have a resolution in sight, my long term health will be sorted so you’d think this might allow me the chance to get back to the novel. No such luck.

I had to put my ‘creative life’ on hold while I put my house in order. I went into for hospital for major surgery a little less than five weeks ago and suddenly the house became a priority. I need to be able to function while I recover. All those days when I ignored house work and chose to write instead have to be reversed and paid back!

Apparently I’m not supposed to push a vacuum cleaner around the house – odd that I don’t think I mind this half as much as not making a cup of tea, because lifting a kettle was tough the first few weeks!

But now I’m home convalescing there will be plenty of time to think through the novel, to extend the plot and develop the characters to their full potential, so this hiatus is only a temporary deviation from the master plan.

And as my health returns to I am quite certain I will be ready to face the publishing industry and look for an agent and a publisher, because I will complete my current manuscript. I am determined to achieve that much as the next book is buffering, waiting in the wings…

I’m looking for inspiration and ideas to motivate me to complete this task. Especially as the nights are drawing in. Any suggestions?

Monday, 17 October 2011

Learning my limits:

When I was 6... my mum used to let me to walk to the end of the road, on my own, to meet my dad returning home from work. He would smile and then he used to boost me up on to the wall and I would point my toe and pretend to be a tight rope walker. My arms held out straight either side of my body to balance me and if required, I could always reach his shoulder if I teetered and of course I never fell off the wall.

Yesterday, I felt 6 again!

My mum allowed me to walk to the end of the road, all on my own... after being in a convalescing bubble for almost a week I had a quick thrill of freedom.

The sun shone and warmed my skin and a breath of a breeze wrapped itself around me. It felt wonderful to be outside again.

Now I can hardly claim that this was a walk, it was more of a casual saunter... nothing too strenuous with time to be a bit nosey and view the neighbours gardens.

As I rounded the corner I was rewarded by a crew of labourers, stripped to the waist, running laden wheelbarrows up a plank. My heart was all of a flutter... it would have been rude to stand and stare but I was sorely tempted.

I kept strolling to the end of the street and admired a newly finished house extension and then headed back home.

A second longer glimpse of tanned taut torso’s and I was a happy girl! But as mum’s house came into view parts of my body, that I never knew existed, introduced themselves to me with a spate of twinges and tweaks that took me quite by surprise.

So this is the new reality - the extent of my revised limits - I can’t quite walk as far as I think I can, not yet!

This recovery malarkey is a whole new arena for me and I’m going to have to do it properly... if I want to make a full recovery. Which, I do! So tomorrow I shall go out for another stroll but perhaps I should make it slightly shorter this time.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

*Sort of sabbatical*

I’m going to be absent from here & Twitter & FB for a bit. *Sort of sabbatical* I’m going to miss you. 'Try not to forget me' Back soon!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Do you ever have a love hate relationship with a colour?

My love/hate colour is: Grey

I love that an Rx 8 comes in gunmetal grey, it clearly defines the shape and angles of this beautiful car but I hate the fact that as I age my hair thinks it should turn gunmetal grey, instead of a glorious light pale shade of silver.

I love a light dove grey jumper that is soft cashmere wool it feels so good against my skin and soothes my soul. But I’m not keen on waking up to find heavy grey clouds piling in, reducing the light level and making the sky feel as if its sitting on my shoulders.

I love the ocean when it’s fierce and angry and throws its cement grey waves at the shore line but I hate the fact that many industries refer to the 'grey brigade' (the over 50’s) as if all that is needed is internet classes.

I love Greys anatomy for its background music and introducing me to artists I’ve not heard of before but I hate the idea that a loved one can be ill and have a grey tinge to their skin, a sure sign that something is wrong.

I love shabby chic furniture that’s painted in muted delicate shades of soft grey but I can’t stand to read grey print, I find it so hard to read.

It’s odd that this colour, grey can bring out such a strong reaction in me as it is made up of black and white which are not colours in their own right, they are simply either end of the spectrum, the absence of light and light itself.

Maybe my love hate relationship with grey is because sometimes the colour can feel cool but some shades of grey can actually feel warm. It’s an odd perspective if you think about it. But then maybe it’s just me…

So how important is colour to you?

And does colour matter to your characters in your novel. Do we need to know that they have grey eyes? Are in a grey mood, or having a grey day…?

Monday, 26 September 2011

A Very Big Thank You

This is my way of saying thank you for all the amazing comments that lovely readers have taken the time to leave on my blog for the First and Second Campaigner Challenges.

I have to be very honest: I've found these kind and generous comments quite overwhelming because to date my work has not usually generated this amount of interest… and because all the comments have been so positive and encouraging. ‘Thank you…’

I’m glad the two pieces submitted to date were liked and considered original.

I entered the challenge simply because I promised myself that during September I would submit work. I've kept this promise to myself and the results so far have been a real boost.

But it is going to be a long wait for some of the pieces to see fruition, if they ever do go into print.

So a massive thank you to the readers who took time out to leave me a few words of encouragement because they have been incredibly supportive.

Some of the people who left messages are also fellow writers, and for these folk to take the time to comment is much appreciated.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Imago: Nightmare in Paris

Second Campaigner Challenge from @RachaelHarrie

The Challenge is:

Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:
• include the word "imago" in the title
• include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post. For me this was not possible…

Hope you like my flash fiction:

Imago: Nightmare in Paris

A dustbin lid clanged nosily down a back alley in Montmartre. Mariella drifted home casually until the one person she didn't want to meet turned into the street.

The old man stood blocking her egress. Unwashed. A shabby overcoat tied with string, hid an even dirtier shirt. Grubby trousers and worn out shoes in need of repair. He shuffled closer.

She wondered if there was time to escape. It was beginning to snow. What was she going to do? She needed to blend with her surroundings.

‘What brings you to this neck of the woods?’ Randolph enquired, wreathed in a miasma of scented roses, which swirled about his being.

Her senses kicked into overdrive, eyes changed from amber to steel blue, as her tongue darted out. She tasted the air. Mariella struggled to resist its influence, she could not fall under his spell. Not now. Not ever.

He smiled benignly.

She touched her arm, the lacuna glowed warmer than usual, a sure signal it was time to depart.

Randolph let his mind drift. At that moment he began to oscitate, as synchronicity kicked in and together they recalled his accident. He stroked his collar bone. ‘Where’s your fighting spirit girl?’

Do you sit and think before you write?

Or do you just rush in, let the words fall on to paper and worry about where you’re story is going later on?

For me: I can do either method, however it can depend on whether an idea has been rumbling in my head and I have allowed it to grow organically or if I have overheard a comment that triggers an immediate reaction that begins a specific thought process. When this happens I have to capture the moment as fast as I can otherwise it may be lost to me forever.

Not everything I write makes sense to me at first. Sometimes I’m not even be certain of its relevance as to whether it is a future piece of something that is incomplete or perhaps so remote that it could by a tortuous means be related to the current novel.

Its like today, it’s not been a good day so far as I’ve had a couple of nasty little shocks, like discovering I have high blood pressure, which is not good news and by the way how the heck did that happen? But that’s another story for another day!

There is a new challenge set by @RachaelHarrie (Twitter) and it is specific

When I first saw the challenge yesterday I thought, 'oh heck that’s me off the hook, I’m not doing that…' but the little grey cells have been quietly whirring around in the background and I know something is forming – it would never have happened without this set of triggers: ‘miasma, lacuna, synchronicity, oscitate, mirror, & imago in the title and I don’t where it’s going to end up yet but I have an idea brewing.

So for me, on this occasion I’m going to sit down and have a long think before I write my 200 word challenge.

Hope your enjoying the Second Campaigner Challenge too...
Good luck

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Goodwood Revival

It starts with the cars. And I love cars, especially the ones that I lust after… and there are others that will make me drool and I mean literally, as I know there are vehicles out there that I would love to own that are beyond my wildest dreams or financial means! But that doesn’t make my desire to own them abate.

Set high on the South Downs the track at Goodwood was bathed in glorious sunshine, it really could not have been more perfect, there was even a slight breeze and just for a day summer returned, a quintessential English summer afternoon played out to the assembled throng.

And that roar. It is titanic. The volume control set at full blast to burst your eardrums, this is not a sport for the faint hearted as throaty engines roar into life, then race flat out screaming their intent… thunderous and sexy.

Goodwood is eclectic and electric, which goes a little way to explaining the appeal that this event can offer. The punters make a huge effort to follow a dress code that can be one of several eras: 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and perhaps 70’s. Men in tweed jackets turned out smart. Sophisticated women wear headscarves Audrey Hepburn style. Men in crisp white overalls, and Land girls in dungarees with head scarves and carry hoes. Teddy Boys in vivid ultramarine blue loafers with matching frock coats. And guys in faded black leather jackets who emulate the Fonz!

Civilised society gathered around picnic hampers with rugs stretched out across the lawn, sipping champagne. Period costumes everywhere and some of them were originals. Bobby socks and flat pumps, gloves and twee handbags, cardigans and pearls, hairnets that held crimped curls, petticoats and booties, seamed stockings and unsuitable heels. I don’t think I have ever seen so many men dandified, but not dandies, they were superbly attired. Brown pin stripped suits as loud as the racing cars that tear across the tarmac. Beautifully tied cravats set off by deep brown trilby hats.

A trio of Spitfires flew in low over the race track, spectacular flying in close formation - they peeled off and climbed to dizzy heights set against a pale blue sky. I raised my hand to protect my eyes from the glaring suns rays and watched as the pilots executed acrobatic manoeuvres and barrel rolls and looped the loop. They flew overhead undaunted by the suns brilliance and somehow there is something very satisfying listening to their low reverberating engines flying overhead. It was a magic moment.

And the cars ripped through the straight, the crescendo of noise that emanates from these finely tuned engines quickens the blood, makes the heart race faster, there is nothing like it: this cacophony of sound that deafens and excites all in the same moment, as the crushing loud roar compresses your chest and fills you with anticipation and excitement.

There were men who dared to indulge their military obsessions, or desire to be King. And we had hippies, a vivid splash of colour that blurred the senses and my camera! It was encouraging to see the attention to detail that people had put into their outfits. And I’ve never seen so many handsome, eligible men make such an enormous effort – I would have been hard pressed to pick one beau!

Swing music from the 40’s played and made my foot tap in time to the music once the race commentary was complete. And there were ice creams and fish & chips in a box.

Women beautifully dressed in frocks with hats in all shapes and sizes and furs. Fur capes and wraps and fox stoles draped casually over one shoulder, the paws tucked into the belts to keep them safe and in place. If you want to step back into a bygone era this is the place to do it. This weekend end you can even buy Treets, Opal Fruits and Marathon!

The air rent with man made noise combines with sweet high notes of corn oil mixed with high octane fuel it’s a seductive blend, a heady atmosphere.

I kept expecting to hear the Director call: ‘Cut… that’s a wrap.’

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Glamorous Goodwood Revival:

If you click on the first photograph you might get lucky and it will turn into a slideshow:





















Just a little cameo of photographs that give you a flavour of what yesterday was like, and how the sun shone, just a fabulous day out. Goodwood Revival

Friday, 9 September 2011

This is my First Campaigner Challenge:

Challenge set by @RachaelHarrie

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count. If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!



And finally the door closed:

The door swung open. I see his body, scrawny, ravaged by illness and I note that for him, my dear husband, time has run out. I take his hand in mine, it’s freezing. And I decide I’ll stay a while. But I save my tears for later, when I’ll be alone.

‘Go my love, safe passage.’ I kiss him lightly on his forehead, its coolness surprises my lips. ‘Don’t worry about me.’

He speaks softly, ‘Aloysius says it’s not my turn, not yet.'

I smile. ‘Who’s Aloysius, my love?’

‘Can’t you see my angel, holding me? He’s at the foot of my bed.'

We’re alone, I look and check, to confirm there is no one there.

‘I feel so cold.’

I hum his favourite tune, his middle finger taps the beat.

‘Could we dance to the end?’ My lover asks.

‘Of course darling, we’ve danced all these years together, we can have one last
dance before you depart.’

In my mind we’re waltzing across the dance floor, a young couple, in love.

I sit down, wait for him to pass from this world. I kiss him goodbye. Our life is complete. As his end drew near the door swung shut.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Submissions

I have decided to declare September: ‘Submissions’ Month.

Why?

This summer I’ve been in the doldrums a bit and struggled with lower than average energy levels and I came to realise that if I don’t submit my work to various platforms then no one will get to see it and read it, and that would be a shame as I’ve invested a huge amount of my time and effort and energy to get my thoughts and ideas out of my head and on the page.

I’m going to be proactive and do more research, look for outlets to send my work to and I will use the internet and twitter to track down these opportunities.

As to how many pieces I will get submitted I have not determined a figure yet but if I could get one piece of work delivered each week then that would be one piece more than I managed during the summer!

So it’s time I stopped dreaming, wishing, thinking and reading and time to start acting upon my own good advice. I have one piece that I am determined to place, although I’m not sure where yet but some where as it is almost ready to go. Therefore I must stop prevaricating and get it submitted… wish me luck.

I’ll let you know how this pans out even if it’s not great news…

Monday, 5 September 2011

Grieving my loss:

My lovely dad died two years ago today. And each day, since he passed, I remember him with much fondness.

He would be 75 now. A fit and active man, I never knew my dad to be ill. So when he was diagnosed it came as a nasty shock, especially to my dad. He did all the right things, followed good medical advice and still his life ended far sooner than expected.

My dad was, ‘the best dad,’ a girl could have! I know how lucky I was to have known him. He was always there for me, and I miss this reassurance more than you can know.

We didn’t always see eye-to-eye: on occasions we could argue, and those heated debates gosh they were fascinating, and invaluable and probably went along way to strengthening our relationship.

He was a capable man, whether he wore his white collar to the office or tackled a hands on job at home wearing his blue collar. He came from a generation that seemed adept and adaptable to the changing world. He loved his apple Mac. It drove me mad and still does… as sadly I’m not going to be a Mac fan. He worked hard and he was lucky, he was never out of work, and worked for a single employer all of his adult life. He rode a motorbike and loved to play Rugby, until an injury stopped that game. He gardened and he wrote books and was the only man who could burn water!

When he read a book, he kept a notepad and pen at his side ready to record words that he did not yet know, he was a wordsmith and a grammarian. It used to drive me nuts, having my written work edited… but oh, how I wish I’d paid more attention.

We shared this love of words and if we both heard the newscaster read a mistake we would clock it and acknowledge it instantly… ‘No surely he didn’t mean that…’ then we would collapse into a private world of mirth and merriment as we spiralled almost out of control, discussing who knows what! It only ever made sense to us in that moment and how I wish I could hear my father laugh one more time…

He left behind a wife of more than fifty years of shared married experiences, four children and seven grandchildren. During the summer, at 72 he laid 100 paving slabs to create a new patio area at the bottom of the garden. His 73rd year was his last, spent in hospital and at finally at home for end stage palliative care.

The drive to the hospice two years ago today was the least hurried drive of my life. I already knew what to expect when I arrived but I wasn’t sure I was ready to face him in death.

When you have witnessed a hard fought struggle, a constant battle to live in the face of inordinate odds, you gain a new found respect for life.

My dad had to fight for every breath, literally. He had lung cancer. He never smoked.

One day I asked him why he battled: ‘To see the trees, the sky, the sun…’

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Isn’t it great when you carried away by a story?

I have a dilemma: I’m reading a book and I can’t put it down. I’ve actually considered cancelling attending a family do, as I would rather sit and read this book that has hooked me in… isn’t that a terrible admission to make?

I’m reading, let me re-phrase that, gobbling down: ‘The Girl who played with Fire’ and I am addicted. Funny that: as I’m not usually keen on violent political thrillers.

The pace is fantastic, I want to read and turn the page at the same time, I ignore the phone and god help anyone who dares to disturb me and knocks the front door. I think I may greet them very sourly…

Several of my friends husbands recommended that I read ‘The Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo’ so it was added to my ‘to-be-read-list’ but I was in no hurry as my list is for ever growing and then by chance, recently, I watched the film.

Well for a girl who does not like scary films… I used to hide behind the sofa when Dr Who was on telly and the night the ‘Yeti’s’ wandered along London’s underground I left the room, utterly terrified!

So you can imagine what happened when I watched the g/w/t/dragon tattoo… I abhor violence and the level of violence in this film is unbelievably gratuitous and evil. So I ended up leaving the room more than once and I actually debated whether to finish watching the film.

The violence in the book seems less memorable, not because of the writing but because the author did not linger over it too long. Whereas the film maker lingered unnecessarily long and the graphic images of violence are far more vivid and intense, for me, having them imprinted on the back of my retina.

It’s a great shame that this gifted author will never know about his huge success but I think he probably knew that ‘the boy done good,’ when he delivered the trilogy to his publisher.

There is a good mix of unique characters, utterly memorable and not necessarily likeable, a small amount of love interest, and some explicit snippets of sex covering just about all gender variations alongside cops and murderous events that are horrific, set against a backdrop of politics and business. So just about all bases are covered.

The main theme of violence against women is hard to read in places. And as to his writing for me he succeeds because he has chosen to write many POV’s and he is successful in this aim by making them all focus on one outcome, the fate of a single person.

However, the story is full of passion and gives subtle insights into an arena we may not chose to visit willingly. Reading the reviews I’m surprised how many people didn’t enjoy the first 100 pages… these are well written and I found them fascinating.

Lucky for me I was won over and I did watch the whole film. And for the girl who apparently gets easily scared I was screaming at the set willing our heroine on, to commit vile and despicable acts of violence, as I could not bear the idea that the evil wrong doer was going to get away with it! So the film gave me a ring-side seat and managed to draw out my gladiator.

If you have not read Stieg Larsson books then please add them to your ‘to read list.’ It is both curious and interesting to note that when, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was published in Sweden it was called: Men who hate Women!

Reading the second in the trilogy I have plunged into an espionage thriller, a commentary on social injustice and crime who done it, and I have a good clear image of the characters so I can’t wait to see the next film, it’s on my to buy list…

To sum up:

If I can write a book half as good as this, so that my readers will not be able to put my book down and once they’ve picked it up can’t stop reading it, I shall know that I have achieved my ultimate aim.

I’m off to read… and the joy of this news is there is number three waiting for me on the bookshelf.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Writing progress is slow?

It’s funny but I’m beginning to realise that sometimes I’m quite hard on myself and feel that I have not achieved very much with my writing. And then I make myself write a list and realise that subconsciously I have been working towards a single goal from many angles. So what did I achieve this/last week?

• I submitted my first #SampleSunday: ‘Adrenalin-rush’ on Twitter via my Blog
• I edited John’s work
• I edited Mike’s work (They edit my work in return, which I find invaluable)
• I reviewed two chapters of my novel based on edit comments rec’d.
• I wrote a brand new short story that desperately needs a good title and a final edit
• I read ‘Bread Alone’ by Judith R Hendricks
• I am reading and writing a review for a friend’s new book
(I owe a couple of other reviews too for books that I’ve recently finished.)
• I bought 2 books no - 21 actually! - I buy second hand childrens books for my niece &
nephew as English is their second language. Really looking forward to reading, ‘How to
train your Dragon!’
• I downloaded six free classics to my iPad for summer reading ‘when I have a moment’
mostly Austen & Brontës.
• I watched the Blind Side (listening to dialogue tunes in the ear. There are some lines
in this film that, damn I wish I’d thought of them first…)
• I wrote today’s blog entry
• I read other peoples blogs via my twitter feed and promoted the interesting ones
• And finally I wrote my aunt a family letter

And there I was thinking that I hadn’t done any writing!

But it dawned on me while I was writing this post that I have (unintentionally) stopped submitting my work and perhaps that’s why I think I’m not writing enough.

So as August draws to a close and merges into September I have to bite the bullet and start to submit my work for publication, again. Perhaps enter a competition or two… and find a new platform or outlet for some of my short stories.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

If anyone, especially those of you who write, has bright ideas on how they track their personal progress I’d love to hear them, it would be nice to know if other writers are as haphazard in their approach to writing as I am or more focused and dedicated and how they achieve this goal.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

#SampleSunday: My first attempt

To my readers: Where would you, my reader, like this story to go next?
As I’m open to suggestions… and is there anything specific missing?


Adrenalin-rush

There is no room for error. But I have a choice. I can hook my motorbike into the bend and nail this corner. Or, the twist of this turn can mug me. Then I’ll slide down the tarmac on my arse. I wince at the prospect. This is no soft option. My knee is so close to the surface as I allow my bike to run back out close to the edge of the kerb. Heart pounding. Adrenalin pumping. I tuck my body in low. The engine clamped firm between my thighs screams. Vibrates through my slender frame.

Pitting my wits against this road. Pitting myself against this machine. Pitting my machine against this surface.

I adore the way my body feels as I find the slip stream. And open her up. In the blink of an eye the tarmac vanishes beneath these tyres. I fly. Exhilarated. Bike well balanced. I blip the throttle. Faster. And faster. Racing for the hell of it. I focus. My bike leans left, knee down, I drive it deeper down on the brakes. Run through the bend, then hang wide. Take the corner real quick. I love to do this.

I get a rush as I gamble. Pick up speed. I stand the bike up and push it harder. Go for it. Race my heart out. I’m riding the wheels right out from under me. The knot in my stomach, tauter than a fisted ball, tightens. It’s one of the greatest feelings I know.

Another inside turn excites me, elevates my good mood. Addictive. Irresistible. The bike comes upright. I take my foot off the peg. Playing devils advocate I dodge in and out as I charge past cars, and race up the steep incline, find a space, tuck myself in tight and make the next turn. Then tear down the hill into a harsh left hander.

The hedgerow flies passed me blurring in a haze of smudged greenery. Trying to get on the turn quicker, faster than I should. My thighs tingle, I try to ignore this sensation. Shake myself free. Feeling loose the Ducate whines. I test my nerve. Flick the bike through a double right hander. It responds, twitches. Brakes off. I fly. Lick my lips. Savour the salt. Dicing with death. It’s dangerous but I’m buzzing, I feel so alive.

Off the brakes, another tough left hander. On the brakes, then open her up as the straight opens before me, beckons me on. Throttle fully open I speed into the danger zone. I spot the police car too late. Crap. I jam on the brakes. The back tyre convulses as I loose speed in rapid quick time and come to an abrupt stop.

Sitting upright in the saddle. I release the handle bars. Clutch the bike tight between my thighs and punch the air in anger. But maybe I can get away with it again? Will he be okay? Change his mind when I take off my helmet? Perhaps the last thing this officer expects… is me.

When I take off my lid, I flick my locks, loosen the mane, and allow it to fall casually across my shoulders. Smile. A big broad flashy grin. I usually get a look of surprise, followed by a quick nod of approval. Then I have to react fast. Bat my long lashes and perhaps unzip my jacket real slow, flash some cleavage? Look up from under my fluttering eyelashes again? It might work. Buy myself a get out of jail card so to speak…

I wait, hold my breath, and then breathe out slow because I recognise the officer walking towards me. I dip my head and smile, a quite smirk of relief. This should be fun.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

So how is your writing progressing?

I’m making steady progress despite a major wobble this summer. I think I got wrong footed by doubting that what I had written was any good. I’m not exactly sure how this happened but it may have been because I wasn’t feeling great physically.

So last month I changed course and started writing my new novel.

Mad? Maybe...maybe not.

As long as I have ideas I will continue to commit them to paper. It’s probably why I frequently stop work on the big stuff and write short stories too, because I can’t bear the thought that I might lose or forget a concept for a story. So it is recorded and if I’m honest maybe at a later date the ‘short’ with a small adaption could slide right into the novel.

However this time around I’m working differently trying out a new format, as there aren’t going to be any chapters… did I hear you cry in horror? It’s going to be one long piece currently divided into four sections. If I don’t try I won’t know if it works. However I can always adapt the finished book once it is written.

I’m never quite sure how my mind works but I do mull things over before I begin to write. A concept will grow organically from one small idea or overheard piece and I will play it over several times, looking at it from different angles until it fixes.

Recently I had to write a romantic tryst. For the life of me I couldn’t think of one single romantic idea! My mind went blank along with my memory banks and failed me until a week or so later an idea dropped in and made me smile.

Now why couldn’t I have come up with that idea at the drop of hat? Maybe it’s because the new book has been nurtured quietly in the back of my mind whilst I was busy and now it’s ready to be released on to the page. And perhaps I needed the perfect angle rather than an off the shelf or standard solution.

But I think I get the greatest fun from putting my new characters in to situations that make them awkward and I like to play around to see how they might react. Of course in fact the reaction is my reaction or my version of the character.

So here are a few of my rules for writing:

• Be kind to yourself.
• Write the first thought that comes into your head and let the idea run out on to the page.
• Don’t edit your thoughts or the writing yet.
• Write everyday if possible, if not possible, write as often as you can.
• Let your work rest before revising a single thing.
• Don’t limit what you write you may not know it but your thoughts may be ahead of your plans.
• Don’t worry or fret about grammar at this early stage. It can be sorted later.
• Anchor the location, describe where events occur. (I’m bad at this and I must improve!)
• Be honest: Why would others read it?

What writing rules do you live by?

Monday, 1 August 2011

These are the last of my #aros stones:

I completed the #aros challenge last month, *whoo hoo* these are the last of my stones:

28.7.11
A horse & gig clip-clop along the tarmac, double white lines & a blind bend hinder my progress, no chance to overtake I travel slower

29.7.11
The heaviness of the rain as its pelts the tarmac sends droplets bouncing upwards, forming bubbles that float across puddles

30.7.11
Mirror flat the waters reflections turn my world upside down, a reverse image that looks alarmingly real yet I know to be false

31.7.11
Heavy rain driven up the road, an incoming tide blown on by a stiff breeze, it forms a small stream that runs into an artificial lake

I’ve given myself a small pat on the back because I’m pleased that I managed to finish this challenge and enjoy the process. I hope you enjoyed reading them too.

Can’t believe it’s August!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The #aros pebbles keep rollin...

24.7.11
No ordinary days, acres of blue cloudless horizons fill with glinting aeroplanes flying trials that criss cross this high domed sky

25.7.11
Red lip-lined clouds glow poker orange hot, seal the sky goodnight with a dying kiss as the sun sets behind the distant horizon

26.7.11
At the waters edge, the swans glide by with effortless ease, graceful, unperturbed they make their way home, no signets in tow.

27.7.11
A sky filled with dying embers of the day, glows reflected sunlight, burns more brightly before fading, turns to nightfall & oblivion

Saturday, 23 July 2011

My #aros challenge pebbles...

15.7.11
Tucked beneath a thick fleecy blanket a full moon glows, peeps out like an eager child waiting to hear the end of its bedtime story

16.7.11
Dark clouds smudged with charcoal, bleak and foreboding, a perfect backdrop to set a dazzling double rainbow

17.7.11
The heaviness of the rain as its pelts the tarmac sends the droplets bouncing back upwards, forming bubbles that float across puddles

18.7.11
As the sun dips before it’s sets elongated golden shadows fan out across the lawn, a concertina of pleats, pillars of light & dark

19.7.11
Swallows soar high on undetectable thermals, dive down to chase invisible elements, an ecstatic roller coaster ride & then they swoop

20.7.11
In awe, a kingdom at my feet a grand vista drops from Hogs back ridge, a wide landscape of fields & forests this scene hooks my breath
21.7.11
With ease & grace this summer demonstrates its richness & glory, vibrance & abundance, a spectacular & colourful exhibition

22.7.11
Breathtaking sunset: glorious glistening golden stripes strung thru the vast horizon as the sun sinks beneath mulberry coloured clouds

23.7.11
Finches swoop, admiral butterfly too, a glut of electric blue damselflies & a jamboree of dragonflies skim my pond’s surface, partying

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A few more pebbles that will form my ‘river of stones’ for #aros this month

9.7.11
Translucent willow leaves lit by a fading sun, drip like chandelier jewels a magnificent brief display, wind picks up & lights dim.

10.7.11
A flurry of activity as butterflies arrive, a frenzied flight I watch as they vie for position a boisterous search for nectar.

11.7.11
Sibling rivalry: a lack of communication, a misunderstanding, a falling out, tears, eldest wins looks sheepish I scoop up hug youngest.

12.7.11
Ferocious sea, full of energy, cement grey with white topped waves roars in excitement keen to reach shore, share, spend its load.

13.7.11
My sky blushes a soft reddening glow that blooms as the moon fades from view, the early morning summer sun unwraps the darkness.

14.7.11
From hedgerow to fields a hillside knitted together, a fertile tapestry of colour, richly entwined and embroider the earth’s surface.

Friday, 8 July 2011

'a few more' - a river of stones project

As promised I am posting my stones for the ‘river of stones project’

5.7.11
The smell of summer rain on the air, the promise of a cooling drenching moment, I run outside, capture those precious raindrops

6.7.11
Ancient byways carved through muddy lanes, steep banks held in place by twisted tree roots allow me passage along sacred routes

7.7.11
Trees bend their arched boughs & stretch across to touch tips, form a tunnel of luscious greenery and shield me from the harsh sunlight

8.7.11
A smudged scene of distant hills blurred by summer heat haze, indistinct a view out of shape, their glory veiled remains secluded

Enjoy

Monday, 4 July 2011

A river of stones:

July’s blog is going to be slightly different as I have decided to do ‘#aros’ on twitter. This is a project: ‘a river of stones’ and each day I have to focus on one thing and write about it.

If I have grasped the idea fully I basically notice one thing each day, write a brief description of it, and how I relate to it. My stone will be a short sentence. Each day I will post my tweet and then once a week I’ll post these daily tweets here on my blog as a record of my activity. By doing it this way I am limiting myself to less than 140 characters! I feel slightly uncomfortable doing this as it is out of my comfort zone, as I’m not entirely certain I get the concept yet but I’m gonna’ have a stab at it, wish me luck!

1.7.11
Thrush explores garden, finds wrought iron rocking chair & hops on arm, jumps between the arms, back & forth, back & forth…playing

2.7.11
A breath of wind & the petals dance on the breeze, heads held high as a hillside reveals the hint of a red hue, a carpet of poppies

3.7.11
Small yet delicate a cabbage white skitters over the lawn searches for nectar, settles, spreads open its wings & sunbathes

4.7.11
The tide’s out, the river banks clay revealed naked and exposed glistens in the afternoon sunshine, its slippery smooth surface smiles

And sadly how ever hard I try to load up the logo for this project, I've failed! I'm just not savvy enough...

Monday, 27 June 2011

Perspective is everything:

I am blessed because I have five nieces which is great for me because I don’t have a daughter. They all have their own quirks and personal idiosyncrasies yet they are all quite like me. What fascinates me is that they are very individual girls and no two are close to being the same, despite having similar family backgrounds and upbringings. And the other reason I know I’m lucky is that I get to play with them part time and then send them home, it’s bliss.

One of the younger ones: very sweet, clever and manipulative from an early age, tumbling brunette locks and a brilliant smile with a quick witted mind. I was impressed and terrified all in the same breath because at the tender age of three and a half she knew exactly how to manipulate situations to achieve her aims. She was adept!

I was looking after her one day (school was closed) when she stood quite still in my kitchen and covered her eyes with her hands and in a high pitched sing-song voice announced: ‘you can’t see me Auntie Kay, I’m invisible!’

It was tough trying not to burst out and collapse into a heap of giggles… the innocence of her remark caught me completely off guard. But I shall not forget it… because it was a wonderful lesson in perspective. As far as she was concerned I could not see her because she could not see me. If only it was that simple in real life… or when I’m writing, perhaps I need to keep my perspective.

How do you keep your perspective when your writing as your main character? Any suggestions?

Monday, 20 June 2011

My Book Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Seebold

I loved this story because of the seamless transition this novel implements between scenes, whether moving forward or travelling back through the history of events covering a period of around eight years, without the need to keep track of time. However, events anchor and tie the reader to the timeline.

A rich text prevents this poignant novel from becoming macabre, despite handling the brutal and horrific rape and murder of a young teenager, a death that should never have occurred. Susie is captivating despite existing between the worlds of the living and the dead as she watches from intermediate heaven as each family member of her family takes a diffident course in how they handle the loss of Susie, and each response is significantly different depending on their individual burden. Susie provides us with snapshots of her life when she was alive and she tells us what she sees as she watches her family from heaven.

Her father struggles with his grief because he could not protect his darling daughter / her mother experiences a greater loss as she watches her family life unravel / her baby brother can see his dead sister but no is listening to him / and her sister suffers in silence and isolation and worse than this she looks like her dead sister.

Alice Seebold handles and portrays each character with love and compassion even if they are veering off course in their personal grief. Events are cleverly drawn out and wrapped into a tight intertwined plot that shows each characters flaws and themes are handled gently as we watch the family deal with and attempt to come to terms with events. We see how much they need each other despite travelling in different directions.

The binding thread running throughout this story is the wonderfulness versus the awfulness of family life, showing us how much we need each other especially when terrible events, over which we have no control, occur. For me the most haunting memory of this story is the porch light being left on…

And finally the evil baddie is well portrayed, his confidence is graphic, his unerring nerve to remain within this community committing heinous deeds against young women is harrowing.

I adored reading this book because it grabbed all my attention and for this reason I would recommend that you read this novel if you’ve not already found it.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Grand Prix and Me

The Canadian grand prix last Sunday was full of thrills and spills, a weather delayed event with spectacular crashes and the dismissal of several experienced drivers. Heart stopping moments of sheer disbelief as a marshal fell on the track in front of a rapidly approaching racing car, it avoided him and as he went to stand… he slipped and fell again in front of another oncoming speeding racing car. To say that my heart was in my mouth would have been an understatement.

I’m passionate about F1 and if money was no object I’d fly around the world and attend each grand prix venue, in person, but alas my dream will have to stay on hold a while longer. Currently my favourite driver is Lewis Hamilton, I mean what’s not to like? He is young, handsome and driven.

I ignored the phone, made myself comfortable, settled down to view.

So what makes the F1 BRILLIANT? It’s a combination of things for me, the men are handsome and a rare breed because their minds work faster than most peoples; processing more information in a shorter space of time as they are not wired up the same way as mere mortals. And these men can multi-task like no other men.

The race got underway. It was amazing, a difficult and testing track, wild and appalling weather conditions and when visibility became too low the race was stopped and after a considerable delay, restarted under the guidance of a safety car, it was deployed no less than five times and as always the commentary was inane in places but most of the viewing was thrilling.

Weather dominated the proceedings, cars span and slammed into the wall, screwing up any schedule or planned team strategy. Rain is hazardous for the drivers, it’s like driving in swirling fog at break neck speed but then the safety car got to travel around the track a little longer than most of us spectators wanted to see it.

I was on the edge on my seat, the crashes were violent and that appeals to the gladiator within me, of course I don’t want the drivers to be hurt that would be heartless yet I’m often stunned when they get up and walk away, more angry that their race is over and any potential points lost, and in spite of that are probably less concerned about possible injury.

Strategies play a huge part in the current aspirations of any F1 driver and at times I wonder if the team strategy gets a bit too complex and ambitious, instead of letting the driver’s do their job, use their instincts and drive.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse (or is that better…) Jensen Button found himself shoved out at the back of the field in 21st place.

My heart sank I thought that any chance he had of closing the gap and winning was lost.

But I was wrong, it didn’t get him down. Jensen did his job… the one he loves and diligently worked his way back up through the field. Each time the commentator reported that Jenson had gained a place or two my heart skipped a beat until almost… in complete disbelief Jensen was back in 2nd place.

I promise you it doesn’t get much more thrilling than this and then he went up a gear he hounded the race leader (a younger dynamic driver) like a persistent terrier, he snapped at the leader’s heels. It was possible to taste the tension.

I was screaming at the telly. I had a ring side seat that allowed me to see how superb his driving was as I nearly held my breath when Jensen finally secured his winning place in dramatic fashion by driving out of his skin, in the final lap, just seven corners from the end. It was a stunning victory.

So what can I conclude?

If you really want something, I mean really, really want something you have to clear the obstacles, understand what you want to achieve and then just keep pushing, Jensen did, against what seemed to me, impossible odds.

Now here’s the rub: if I want to succeed as a published novelist I’m going to have to keep pushing, get over or around and passed the obstacles whatever they might be, however insurmountable and drive my ambition to win that coverted place.

Can I do this? I want it badly enough so it follows that I will keep pushing myself to the end. Will my dark clouds that had been hovering, suddenly disappear leaving nothing but endless blue skies. Will I win thorough? I do hope so….

Friday, 10 June 2011

Chasing a Pig

I don’t usually associate work with happy memories but there have been a few occasions when events have conspired to provide a fertile ground for things that should just not happen in any workplace:

Imagine a big board room meeting, all the top brass have flown in from around the globe and half way through the meeting there is a need for us to vacate the room and chase a pig.

Yes you read that right.

A major industrial chemical plant is no place for a baby pig. So there we were, business professionals, booted and suited (some very senior) chasing this pink creature around the fishpond and courtyard.

I was wearing a particularly fetching mauve suit, (power dressing from the Dynasty days for those too young to remember Alexis Carrington) with padded shoulders and fabulous heels, suede trimmed with bows at the ankle. It sounds vaguely weird writing this now but honestly I looked good for the power dressing early 90’s…

Out comes the Chef to join the fray, wielding a meat cleaver, I kid you not… and I wouldn’t have put it passed Andy to butch the little creature and serve it for lunch. And then how would the guy from Sales explain to his girlfriend that their pet pig had escaped from his car while he was working?

Naturally it did beg the question why he had bought the pig to work in the first place but as I recall his actions and a small cute pig did rather liven up a bored board meeting. But it still makes me smile…a classic magic moment.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Out of the mouths of babes

I am blessed because I have five nieces which is great for me because I don’t have a daughter. What fascinates me is that they are individual girls and no two are close to being the same, despite having similar family backgrounds. They all have their own quirks and personal idiosyncrasies yet they are all like me. And the other reason I know I’m lucky is that I get to play with part time them and then send them home, it’s bliss.

One to the younger ones: very sweet, clever and manipulative from an early age.
Tumbling brunette locks and a brilliant smile with a very quick witted mind. At the tender age of three she knew exactly how to achieve her aims. I was impressed and terrified all in the same breath.

One day she stood quite still in the kitchen and wrapped her hands over her eyes and said: ‘you can’t see me Auntie Kay, I’m invisible!’

It was tough I could barely resist not bursting out and collapsing into a heap of giggles… the innocence of a remark like this can catch one completely off guard. But I shall not forget it… because it was a wonderful lesson in perspective.

As far as she was concerned I should not be able to see her because she could not see me. If only it was that simple in real life.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Magic Moments: What do you remember that brings back the Magic?

Part of the joy of travelling is to see new places and then come home to a place I love because I’m the type of girl who adores her own bed. After an extensive tour of New Zealand, a drop in at Sydney (go now - don’t wait until you retire!) I ended my tour in the southern hemisphere at Cooks Island, a Polynesian paradise.

The relaxed welcome at the airport as garlands of orchids were hung around my neck, ukuleles played, as dancer’s hips swayed… it was the warmest arrival I’ve experienced. There’s no security!

I stepped into the sunshine, I accepted this was my seventh heaven, the turquoise lagoon, the white sand and a slack tide that licked the shore with a soft gentle rhythm was hypnotic. A couple walked along the beach, she was barefoot and they’d just been married. So what could spoil this idyllic spot?

Weather: A dramatic and violent change in the weather! Monsoon season arrived and in this humid environment mosquito’s banqueted on my blood. I was covered from head to foot in bites. Truly unattractive! Hotel staff were genuinely concerned and enquired if I was well, then offered advice on what to do. But I ate well the entire time we stayed, a tranquil restaurant above the stream that fed the lagoon (and more mosquitoes!)

I spent the whole first and second day reading, in a tent on the beach, drinking cocktails, listening to the rain hammer hard against the plastic canvass awning, as sitting in the apartment was less than appealing. It’s strange but in a moist sticky climate being stuck indoors in the room is no fun.

I walked everywhere barefoot and took photographs in the rain of a beautiful drenched island.

Then I decided to pamper myself so I booked a massage with the therapist. What an oasis of calm in a sodden, water logged atmosphere. She could see I was blue. I wish I could remember the combination of oils she massaged into my frustrated body as her fingers kneaded my skin, she revived my flagging spirit.

So where was the magic?

On day three, as the monsoon rains continued unabated, I went snorkelling. I’d never done this activity and wrongly thought I’d be snorkelling in the calm rock pools close to the shore as I’d seen the other do the day before.

An old glass bottom tub took us out 3kms, made its way to the barrier reef at the furthest edge of the lagoon. I got a bit twitchy. The guys showed me how to use my snorkel and then asked if I could swim? ‘Of course I can swim,’ I was indignant. But I wasn’t remotely sure how I was going to get off the boat, into the water that rose and then fell on a significant swell. In my mind jumping wasn’t an option, I’m not that brave and I couldn’t see how to achieve an elegant departure.

Eventually I clambered like a beached porpoise into the sea. Warm water relaxed my mind and body. I swum like a fish. Boy did I swim. Boy did I float! My impression of a star fish had the guys checking up on me as my inactivity scared them as much as my disappearing, swimming off into the distance. With no sense of direction their instruction to stick close to the boat was not observed by me.

The world that opened beneath my snorkel of brightly coloured inquisitive fish was amazing. I was in awe of mother nature. The strength of colour, the variety of shapes and sizes of fish. I didn’t want to get out of the water. Like a small kid at the pool I could have stayed until my skin shrivelled. When it was time to leave I was distraught but vowed I would return the next day and what about securing a full diving certificate?

That night the rain increased, the next morning it fell straight impacting the earth like heavy stair rod poles. I’ve never seen such weighty rain. The water flooded the path, overflowed the threshold of our apartment. I rang reception, ‘Sandbags please?’ The gardeners came and placed sandbags against the door-frame to stem the tide. I rang reception the water was pouring in through my floor to ceiling bedroom windows, ‘please staunch this flow? I’ve put my belongings on the bed.’ A gardener came and dug away the earth, created a trough and then quite dramatically water punched a hole, at hip height through the bedroom wall and poured in like a massive bath forcet!

I walked to reception: ‘Please move me to a dry room?’ They didn’t fully comprehend my request until the manager went to view the room that resembled a paddling pool filling with liquid brown muddy water. I moved to a dry villa.

The palm trees bent as the wind howled, the long leaves whipped into a fine brush. The rain fell. I walked to the beach. Snorkelling was cancelled. The lagoon had turned from turquoise to sludge cement grey, trees, plants and various bit of debris washed down the mountainside had flooded this idyllic spot. The guys that had taken me snorkelling were out in the boats removing the detritus from their lagoon, boats piled high with vegetation.

It nearly broke my heart. It rained the entire holiday. I never saw the sun again. But one day I’ll go back, go snorkelling again!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Magic Moments:

For me a magic moment can be something infinitesimally small, a fairly average to medium or a gargantuan event because size is irrelevant, I feel it is the sense of wonder and awe that should create the magic.

Earlier this week I padded down for breakfast and caught a glimpse of a scarecrow as I passed the mirror! Undeterred, I went to flick the switch to boil the kettle for the required tea to revive my flagging self and then I stopped.

On the patio a thrush was smashing a snail on the hard stone surface, fracturing and splintering the shell to retrieve the juicy morsel hidden inside. Her two thrushlings stood close by watching mums extraordinary skill, learning at her feet literally, but they stayed close, quiet and sat hidden in the undergrowth that is my flower bed and waited to be fed, beak to beak.

I held my breath, did not move a muscle as I watched the early morning floor shop that ended abruptly when a squirrel entered the proceeding. I’ve not seen a squirrel on the patio before, racing along the top of the fence and leaping into a tree yes, but why did it want to join the thrushes? I’ve no idea. Curiosity perhaps?

So what was Magic about your day – today?

Mine was a simple pleasure. Going to the hairdressers can be fraught with an age old dilemma: what will my hair look like once its been cut as I struggle to achieve what I would like and what the hairdresser can glean from my garbled instructions.

Smooth straight hair is impossible as I happen to frequently look like Shirley Temple, however sadly I am not six and ringlets never strike me as a grown up hair do! (In my opinion.)

But I digress because my moment of magic was this: Having my scalp massaged during washing it… Oh I turn into putty, I would consider almost anything if asked whilst having my head massaged. All thoughts and common sense vacate my mind as I succumb and revel in that moment of pure hedonistic bliss.

And in wildest dreams if someone was to massage my feet simultaneously, who knows what would be possible?

Teezy-weezy!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Summer madness - No three:

As a working mum I had to trust my son, we were close and I always made sure the door was left wide open, even late at night. And as each summer progressed and he grew older so he would come home later and later. I can’t say that this arrangement thrilled me but he did come home.

I heard him come in and go to bed, late one night so I went to sleep. The next morning I took him a cup of tea and was about to sound off with: ‘and what do you think..?’ etc you know the speech if you have teenage kids.

I’m looking at a battered and bruised head.
‘Sit up.’
My son sits up.
I clasp my hand to my mouth!
His jaw is out of alignment with the rest of his face by some considerable distance.
‘Why didn’t you wake me?’
He can’t reply. His jaw is unable to operate.

That was one of the hardest days of my life. Needless to say I never made it into work. Getting him from one hospital to the next (three in all) until we finally arrived at the Maxillofacial unit where they wired up his jaw late that afternoon.

That night he had his first meal. A Roast dinner, with all the trimmings, liquidised! Basically a very nutritious gravy sucked eagerly through a large straw.

To this day he still says it was the best meal ever!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Playing Happy Families:

Continuing my theme of heart stopping moments I’m going to ask you to imagine a young couple, Sunday lunch is in full swing with a very young son in his high chair at the dining room table. Both parents work full time so this is a special family moment, a sit down meal together.

Roast dinner is going down a treat when youngest family member pipes up:

Child: ‘F*** off.’

Both parents look at each other suspiciously.

Parent 1 does not flinch despite desperate desire to drop knife & fork: ‘don’t laugh, don’t smile, don’t say a thing just keep eating…’

Child: ‘F*** off.’

Parent 2: ‘who taught him too…?’

Parent 1: ‘I don’t know but ignore it… please, don’t acknowledge it…’

Child patently pissed off with being ignored by both parents expresses himself by singing a new song: ‘F*** off, f*** off, f*** off!’

Both parents fold, doubled up trying desperately hard not to burst into giggles because although this seems to be funny... it is terrifyingly not funny. Your mind works at a frantic speed trying to work out whom, how and where this dreadful language has been learned at such a tender age and then offered as lunch time conversation. The only saving grace is that it was delivered in the privacy of home, with no outsiders as witnesses.

And then there’s how the small matter of how to teach this beautiful child how to unlearn such an ugly word before going to nursery school or kindergarten!

Sometimes being a parent is agony…

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Summer Madness part two:

Over the years my son has broken his nose frequently. He was a skate boarder and he loved that skate board – it went everywhere with him.

So it came as no surprise when he came home with a bloodied and swollen nose. Apparently he had been skateboarding up hill. He did not see the lad cycling down hill. The lad on the bike did not see the skateboarder. One has to wonder where he was looking? Down at the chain maybe?

And don’t ask me how but these two managed to collide! On impact my sons’ nose was broken. 'Ouch,' that had to hurt, being nutted by an unseen assailant.

What were the chances of that? A gazillion to one?

Apology: What was I doing?

So I’ve screwed up here on my Blog! Hmmm… I do feel rather foolish! My best friend dropped me an email (she lives in Boston MA) apparently I have posted same entry twice?
Surely not.
Checks.
Whoops. How did that happen? Honestly I don’t know but I must have got stuck in a time warp, or something similar so I need to rectify this error and ensure the fail safe system I operate that patently failed on this occasion is operational and post the correct entry for ‘summer madness…’
What am I like?

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Summer Madness

When did you last time you hear something that made your heart stop?

A few years ago I began to dread the beginning of summer for one reason only: It seemed to me that as my young teenage son was growing up we would experience a moment of summer madness.

This particular phone call did it for me, gave me that heart stopping moment:

‘Mum, I’m being stretchered in… the car hit the house…oh okay mate… ambulance man says I’ve gotta go. Bye.’

My heart skipped a few beats… as I sat bolt upright in bed, it was 4am!

Now what do I do? I know he’s alive. I heard him speak. He can’t drive so he was a passenger, who else is with him, how did the car hit the house? It’s four in the morning and I have no idea where he’s going… which hospital?

It’s at moments like these that you could cheerfully scream at your off-spring: 'What were you thinking?' But I digress.

Youngsters are carefree and fervently you pray that they make it to adulthood, that far at least, without major injury, trauma or damage.

Naturally I got out of bed, went down to make a pot of tea and waited. Then I made a few phone calls to established where he was going. Once I knew I had a shower and I was ready leave, despite the early hour.

Arriving at the A&E department I was surprised how many of his friends had been involved one way or another.

There had been five of them in the car and none of them wore seat belts… they were lucky to be alive, considering how heavily they had piled in on top of each other on impact! To hamper the ambulance crew and nursing staff the five occupants of the car had been paddling in the sea (prior to accident) and none of them wore shoes.

They hobbled out of hospital later that day their feet covered in scrapes and bruises, just scrapes and bruises. And for that I will always be truly grateful.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Sambuca:

Despite the lack of rain the Sambuca has gone mad! Also known as Nigra Black Lace it grows abundantly & I love it. I don’t do anything to it and it performs supremely well even in these dry conditions, it must like facing south in free draining soil


If you click on the picture it will expand & give a clearer photograph to see details of this glorious dark plant.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Heart Stopping Moment:

A few years ago I began to dread the beginning of summer for one reason only. It seemed that as my young teenage son was growing up we would experience a moment of summer madness.

This particular phone call did it for me, gave me that heart stopping moment:

‘Mum, I’m being stretchered in… the car hit the house…oh okay mate… ambulance man says I’ve gotta go. Bye.’

My heart skipped a few beats… I sat bolt upright in bed, it’s 4am!

Now what do I do? I know he’s alive. I heard him speak. He can’t drive so he was passenger, who else is with him, how did the car hit a house? It’s four in the morning and I have no idea where he’s going, or which hospital?

It’s at moments like these that you could cheerfully scream at your off-spring, and ask: 'What were you thinking?' But I digress. Youngsters are carefree and all you pray is that they make it to adulthood, that far at least, without major injury, trauma or damage.

Naturally I got out of bed, went down to make a pot of tea and I waited and then made a few phone calls. Once I’d had a shower - I was ready to go as soon as I’d established where he was going.

Arriving early at the A&E department I was surprised how many of his friends had been involved one way or another.

There had been five of them in the car and none of them wore seat belts… they were lucky to be alive, considering how heavily they had all piled in on top of each other on impact! To hamper the ambulance crew and nursing staff all the occupants of the car had been paddling in the sea (prior to accident) and none of them were wearing shoes.

They hobbled out of hospital later that day with their feet covered in scrapes and bruises, just scrapes and bruises. And for that I will always be truly grateful.