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


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


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.