A - Z Challenge 2014 · Blog Challenges

F is for Fuji – Places I Dream of Seeing

Photos via Google images

F  Now I do know this one is probably not on many bucket lists but I have always been fascinated by volcanos so the idea of climbing one seems perfectly logical to me. Mount Fuji in Japan stands at 3,776.24 m high, so possibly a little chilly at the top, and has not erupted since December 16, 1707.  It is not however extinct and that is part of the appeal to me.  There is something I find seductive about the raw power of nature, like my fascination with the sea, it is knowing that at any time mother nature could show you just how insignificant you are.

Photos via Google images
Photos via Google images
Photos via Google images

Now there may be a few of you who will ask why I would be scared off from Egypt as I mentioned yesterday by the risk of human violence yet I am willing to take this sort of risk… well firstly lets face it the chances of me ever managing this sort of hike up a mountain are astronomical.  Even before two spinal surgeries I would have struggled now it is very much likely to remain a dream.  There are of course the same issues as so many places of the rich cities contrasting with the peasant villages but Japan does have such a rich history and beautiful temples even in areas like this.

Photos via Google images

And the bonus that most of the treks that take you up the mountain take you to the crater at the top.  Now I will confess I would prefer in some ways to visit a volcano with an open cone so you could look down and see the raw power, however that is not a particularly safe move and the kids would object unless I left them a fortune, so this is the next best thing.

Some locations are about the beach, some about the history and others about nature and for me this one also represents a challenge to myself, if I do ever get the chance to go to this location it will not only be nature that I battle but my own body to reach that summit.

A - Z Challenge 2014 · Blog Challenges

A to Z Challenge 2014 – Final Analysis


April draws to a close once more and another A to Z challenge is completed. I will say I found it easier this time round to find ideas for each letter but I did still struggle a little at keeping all the posts on track.  As last year one thing I take from it is the need to get ahead in scheduling posts, to allow for those every day incidents which distract the attention and prevent one spending as much time writing as one would like.  I had forgotten how much trying to do a challenge such as this can be effected by the presence of a small child at home all day as a result of Easter holidays and I can imagine that although I think it now when this time rolls around next year I will leave myself just as flustered.

I have discovered a few new blogs to visit again amongst the other participants but also have realised that I do not need to beat myself up if I do not read every single post by everyone I follow every day, I will continue to visit as many as I can as often as I can because I really do enjoy them but I will also put constraints on the time I spend doing so to prevent it interfering with my own work.

So I bid farewell to the A to Z challenge for 2014 and will keep my eyes open for exciting X, Y  and Z words in preparation for next year!

A - Z Challenge 2014 · Blog Challenges

A to Z Challenge 2014 – Z is for Zygons

a-to-z-header-2014-aprilZ  You knew that I would have to fit the Doctor in somewhere and given we have just celebrated the 50th anniversary it is even more fitting we discuss an alien which featured in that episode.

If you are not sure what one looks like this is a Zygon in both its modern and Classic skins…



Now between you and me I don’t think they look very scary rather they look quite silly, so why was the monster terrified of them? Well lets begin by looking at what the TARDIS files have to tell us about them…

Interesting but they are still not really the sort of creatures to strike terror in to the hearts of small children who love Daleks so lets look at the intro they showed at the cinema…

And that is where we realise how they can inspire fear, it is the idea that they might be sat next to you, sat behind you, just waiting for a chance to gobble you up, except they won’t they will cover you in gunk then pretend to be you.  What scares children more these days is not the monsters they can see but the ones who look like normal people and if we are honest that is more scary for us adults as well, you can fight the monster under the bed but you cannot fight the monster you never saw coming.  The other issue as well is if you do not know who you can trust, do you trust anyone? And if you do not trust then could you risk offending the wrong people with your suspicions after all sometimes a bunny is just a rabbit…

Sometimes it is not the obvious which scares people, everyone has different treasures and possibly for a child what could be more scary than the thought the person sat next to them, that person they trust to protect them might just be the creature they need protecting from?  And on a more serious note what does it say about our society when the news headlines frequently prove for some children that fear it is not just a TV story that can be turned off…


A - Z Challenge 2014 · Blog Challenges

A to Z Challenge 2014 – Y is for Yoga


Y If you look on Google images for Yoga these are the sort of images that predominate the search…







lots of images of lithe young women flexing into the perfect stretches elegantly and without effort.   As someone who loved doing Yoga before the spinal issues I can honestly say that while I know these positions and the poise is achievable it is no where near as easy to achieve as the images suggest.

I do love doing Yoga and one day hope to be able to get back into it and regain some of my flexibility once more but at the minute positions such as these are beyond me…

Yoga-3I think one of the main issues I have with Yoga though is that they promote it so much using the people who are advanced in their abilities that most normal people shrink away from trying it out.  If they used more beginner images or images such as this one…

Yoga-Improves-Obesity-Symptoms-Without-Dietary-Restrictionsmore people would begin to understand that anyone can try it and benefit from it and more people might be willing to give it a go.  It is hard to accept at times your own limitations and realising how far behind others you are can be really disconcerting and make you wonder why you bother but like anything if you persevere the results can be worth it.  This is one of the yoga salutations I used to do daily and I did feel better for it and look forward to being able to judge my progress by stretching just that few millimetres further or hold it just a few seconds longer.

Of course the one thing most of us will never achieve is finding a partner who not only loves yoga but who is strong enough for us to balance on and happy for us to try…

400235_484911638215659_12834472_n1And of course the main area which the photos really differ from reality is that no matter how fit we get, how flexible and how centred during meditation, we will never find the perfect sunset under which to practise every evening…

meditationHave you tried Yoga? Did you like it? Or would you be more encouraged to try if more ‘normal’ people were used to promote it?

A - Z Challenge 2014 · Blog Challenges

A to Z Challenge 2014 – X is for Xanthippe


XThis was a tough one but having googled X words I decided to discuss this



  1. 1.  the wife of Socrates, proverbial as a scolding and quarrelsome woman
  2. 2.  any nagging, peevish, or irritable woman


Socrates as we know was a great philosopher so one wonders why such a wise man would have chosen a quarrelsome wife or did he?  Maybe it is all a matter of perspective.

I should imagine that although there was social standing in spending your life contemplating the greater questions of life and the universe that there would not actually be a great deal of money involved in it, did she know when she pledged her troth that she was marrying a dreamer rather than someone who would bring home a steady wage?  And if his mind was wondering, contemplating life and death, was he any good around the house?  Did a request to pass the wine result in a three hour lecture about the life cycle of the grape?  Did she really nag, or was it simply that in order to get the attention of someone whose mind was otherwise occupied she had to repeatedly call to him?  And who labelled her as such?  Was it his friends when she demanded he return from debating with them to perform his husbandly duties or he when asked to turn his intellect to the mundane tasks at home?

Maybe she was guilty as charged but I have to say I think life with a philosopher could turn out to be pretty trying and frustrating and can’t help wondering if she knew what she had signed up for when she agreed to marry him.

A - Z Challenge 2014 · Blog Challenges · Research · Schedules And Lists

A to Z Challenge 2014 – W is for Writing Apps


W I am a couple of posts behind so today and tomorrow will be doubling up on posts to catch up so apologies for double emails in your inboxs.

I decided today would be a good day to share with you some of the writing apps I use and my thoughts on them.

So first up we have Scrivener a tool many writers will be familiar with, I love using this especially in the early stages of writing story outlines as the corkboard feature is great for shuffling things around.  I decided to show you a screen shot from my Voices manuscript and as you can see from the number of stories down the side it has evolved from ten stories to a few extra which is part of the reason for the delay, I did toy with doing it in two volumes but have so many other things I want to do I decided that I would rather do one decent volume then get on with other stories.


Next up from the same people who developed Scrivener we have Scapple, this is a new app for me and I only have the 30 day free trial at the minute until I decide if I really need it or not.  I love mind mapping and it is a lot of fun to use one drawback is remembering to change the orientation for the paper if you want to print off your mind map and I will admit it would probably be just as easy if not easier to doodle on paper but this does have the advantage that you don’t have to struggle to make up what you wrote at a later date and you can move things around if you find one area becoming a little congested.


Next up Freedom, I decided to give this a go after hearing Zadie Smith mention using it, the concept is really easy it imposes discipline to resist the temptation of Facebook and twitter for you.  I am trying this with a 5 day free trial, you set how long you want your internet blocked for and can schedule which days you would like it to run on then it stops you being able to access the internet for those hours.  You can over ride the system by restarting the computer if you really, really need to but but I have to confess I am finding this one really good however remember to set your preference to allow you local network if like me you have a wireless printer otherwise that won’t work either.


The Magic Spreadsheet is the brainchild of Tony Pisculli and I know I have mentioned it before but it is worth another mention, if you have trouble getting into the routine of writing then this helps inspire and encourage you to form that habit. So far this year I have written every day even if only a few hundred words.

Untitled mag

Evernote is an app I have but I really do not use it as much as I should.  It is similar to an online scrap book where you can save images, websites, articles etc, it also now syncs to a desk top version which I have installed as I intend to start using it more now to tie in with the Freedom app so I can access research without needing the internet on.


Finally the last app I am using is Pomodoro which is aimed at helping you develop better time management, it allows you to focus on a specific task for a period of time normally twenty- five minutes although I prefer thirty minute sessions then a break in between each task to encourage you to get up and move rather than spending all day sat at the desk.




Do you use writing apps if so which ones and why?

A - Z Challenge 2014 · Blog Challenges · Vlogs

A to Z Challenge 2014 – V is for Vlog


V  Sorry folks its that time of the month again where I inflict myself upon you.

Don’t forget to visit my Facebook page if you have a caption or title for the picture at the end not sure on the prize yet but there will be one xx

A - Z Challenge 2014 · Blog Challenges

A to Z Challenge 2014 – U is for Undercover


U I decided on another flash fiction for this post so I googled undercover and from there looked at spies and secret agent images until one spoke to me and told me it’s story…


Damn she screwed up the letter as soon as she finished reading it, everything had been going so well, now it was time to make a decision.  When she had accepted the assignment it had seemed simple, infiltrate the gang, discover the power structure behind the drug cartel and get information on the big shipments so they could move in and complete drugs busts catching them in the act.  Then she had met Carlo and everything had got complicated fast.

He was everything she should have hated, top of the food chain in this dark world which she was inhabiting, good looking with an arrogant swagger and the self assurance of someone who was used to having his own way.  Maybe that was why he had pursued her, the fact she had not fallen straight into his bed at the snap of his fingers, she shivered as she thought about those first meetings where he had cornered her, his fingers tracing his intentions slowly over her skin.  Ironically it was his interest in her which had caused her superiors to extend the length of the operation, throwing her at him as bait hoping to lure bigger fish into the open.  It had never been voiced that she should allow herself to be caught and they certainly would never have approved had they realised she would fall for him hook, line, and sinker, but that was where she found herself now well and truly snagged.

The letter she had received this morning though changed everything, it confirmed what she already knew in her heart, her hand slipped unconsciously to her stomach where his child was now growing.  There was no way he would allow his child to grow up not knowing who he was, but if he found out who she really was…the thought made her blood run cold.  She could request to be pulled from the operation and placed in the witness protection programme but he would find her, she suspected that he had people on the inside although the fact he had not worked out what she was confused her.  She turned to leave the room intending to head out to get some fresh air, she had not heard him come in and his presence in the doorway made her jump.

She smiled at him and began walking towards him before freezing mid step, dangling from his hand was her badge…

Can she talk her way out of it? To be honest I can think of a hundred different ways it could go from here which is why I decided to leave it hanging and let you all fill in your own endings, maybe you could leave your ideas for what happens next in the comments.

A - Z Challenge 2014 · Blog Challenges

A to Z Challenge 2014 – T is for TED


T  TED not the serial killer Ted Bundy, or a cuddly bear but the lecture series that I have recently become rather interested in.

I love Sci-fi but I struggled in school with the science stuff, I did okay in Biology but Physics and Chemistry were just too close to maths for my brain to take it all in, words were my passion not numbers.  It may seem strange then that I have come to enjoy watching a series of lectures which are often deeply science based, but it isn’t.

The fact is that because of the way these lectures are delivered I find I not only enjoy them but I also understand far more than I thought I would.

Last year Professor Brian Cox delivered a lecture on the mechanics of Time Travel and the science of Doctor Who and maybe that sparked the interest which led me to these but however I arrived at them I now learn about many extra things that will probably be no use what so ever in my every day life but may add an extra dimension to my writing.

I don’t like them all, that would be unrealistic but I thought today I would share one I found fascinating in both social terms and as a writer.


Have you ever watched the TED lectures and if so do you enjoy them?

A - Z Challenge 2014 · Blog Challenges

A to Z Challenge 2014 – R is for Reading


R  For a writer what else could R be?

Before I ever dreamed that anyone would ever be interested in reading what I created I spent hours devouring the words of others.  I fell in love for the first time via the written word, had my heart broken, was scared out of my wits and laughed so hard it hurt, all from that combination of letters written in ink on paper.

Today so many youngsters live in a visual age where everything is fed to them via the TV, Internet, Tablets and phones that I do feel they are missing out on so much in terms of creativity.  The most worrying thing about that is where does that leave the written word in the future, in fifty years time will my grandchildren have access to the same quality of literature as I had the chance to fall in love with, will they be able to close their eyes and see Mr Darcy or will they only ever see the Hollywood image that provides a visual short cut, no imagination required.  Will they ever sit gripped as they turn page after page, completely unaware of the passing of time or the fact the sun has set outside.  Will they ever realise they have to be up in a few hours yet still carry on reading because they only have a few pages to go and cannot bear to not know the end of the story.

The diminishing of the imagination can also have more far reaching consequences for surely it is through those characters we fall in love with as children we also learn so much about compassion and empathy, continued exposure to the visual suffering in the world seems to harden the heart rather than develop the bonds which the written word can produce.  And once imagination becomes blunted the what does that signal for creativity not only in literature but life in general, will films become mere displays of technical brilliance lacking in storyline, will the very technology itself stagnate from lack of ideas to move it forward.

The most important thing we can do for out children is to turn off the TV for an hour or two each day and encourage them to walk through other worlds, close their eyes and visualise for themselves, and most of all teach them to dream.