May Resolutions 2017

I had said I would return to the normal format for resolutions this month, but the events of last week mean I changed my mind. Right now, so many of them seem trivial, lose weight, exercise more etc. I am sure by next month I shall feel more like my normal self again and go back to the format I started at the beginning of the year but this month it seems more important to talk about the reason we make resolutions and how the terrible event of last Monday, then again this Saturday, make them all the more important.

We make resolutions with the idea of improving our lives, a new year, a new me, a better me etc but when these types of atrocities remind us we need to make the most of every day we have. We have the chance every day to make our lives better in the smallest ways, if like me you want to lose weight and get fitter then ,and this applies to me, all it takes is making the choice to get up and walk a little every day, do a bit more exercise and make better food choices. I know I do not do as I preach in this respect but maybe the time to make changes is now.

I have the chance to make the changes I want to happen, there are people who no longer have that chance. We need to start reconsidering our priorities to an extent, make sure we are working for the life we want not simply working for a paycheck, yes bills need to be paid but if your whole life revolves around paying them then maybe it is time to look at what you can cut back on to give yourself time to enjoy life and to live. Something as simple as cutting a trip to the coffee shop can be an hour less you need to work, I know that is putting it in a simplistic way but it can be that simple, I have a million TV Channels (okay an exaggeration but that’s how it seems) and yet I watch only a few, I am considering my options for reducing my cable bill, though I will be honest not quite worked it out yet as we all like channels in different packages lol.

The most important thing though to take forward from the events of the last two weeks is that we will not be scared, we will still go to plays, concerts, bars. We will not fill our hearts with hate, we will continue to care for people around us, in both attacks, in the face of terror there were those who instead of fleeing ran towards the attacks to help those suffering. There is no such thing as too much love, so instead of hate let us pay it forward with a smile, it costs nothing but can make all the difference to those feeling isolated and alone, maybe if we all said more nice and positive things it would spread like ripples, and that those preaching hate, would find there were no longer ears for their words to find.

 

 

Lazy Sunday #39

Okay so Sunday is almost over as I write this but to be fair my daughter has been here most of the day and I cooked Sunday dinner so it did not turn out to be totally lazy. The world was a darker place for a little while this week and things like writing and blogging seemed foolish and frivolous, as I titled the vlog this week ‘No Words’ sums up my feelings still but I will talk about that later in the week in a separate post. So on with a few posts to little the mood a little I hope and spread some love and light in the only way we can, by carrying on with life as normal.

  1. I love this post, admittedly I do spend half my time thinking in terms of medieval technology but what we consider an antique was once cutting edge  https://quirkybooks.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/devon-county-show-technology-vs-crafts/
  2.  There are some blogs I follow because they provide a quick fix of joy and this is one of them, I love this photo they have shared and would love to dive into that glorious blue water https://wanderlusttina.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/split-view-waterfall-jamaica/
  3.  One of the other things I love about reading blogs is you get to see places that you would never get to in real life, let’s face it the world is a big place, so much to see and do and for most of us we lack the time, resources and freedom from commitments to get to a fraction of them, so seeing others journeys is almost as good https://exxtracts.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/jew-town-kochi/
  4.  I had a wonderful interaction on another bloggers post regarding colours that compliment my hair now it is purple, she has followed this up with a really cool post about the fashion of going a little crazy with your hair and how to manage your wardrobe to match https://valentinaexpressions.com/2017/05/28/balayage-and-ombre-hair-valentina-cirasola-designer/
  5. Some times we just need a little light relief, something that we click on and it just makes us smile https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/05/19/eleven-wishes-for-you/

The one thing these posts all have in common is they span the globe, they remind us of the fact we have more in common with 99.9% of people than we have differences with that 0.01% who seek to destroy the way of life we love, they will not win unless we let them poison our heart, take care of each other and remember a smile to a stranger can create ripples that might be what is needed to heal our world.

Give Away & Page Take Over

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Join me tonight 9pm UK time as I take over the #Leeds2018 #HourglassEvents page click the link and join in advance http://ow.ly/McOi308JscK

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Four years ago this incredibly brave little man lost his fight against cancer, he left an army of followers all heart broken by his loss and devastated for his family, I wrote Voices Across The Void to honour his memory and to raise awareness and funds for the charity set up in his name Cords4LifeUK, I said Iwould never give this book away free because of that but today and tomorrow to honour him and this family I am with the hope if you like it you will leave a review, spread the word and help make cord donation something offered to all new mums so they may help save a life or at the very least give those precious extra few months cells from a donated cord gave Charlie with his family. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Voices-Across-Void-Pa…/…/B01GZ5NFPU

 

Resolutions 2017 – January

So the first month has flown by and I hold my hands up, it has not been the start to the year I would have wished for but O really want to concentrate on finding the positives so let’s see how I did…

01)  Lose weight, yup this old chestnut again, I lost a stone and a half in the second half of last year so just set up a fresh spread sheet and new targets, while I know I have a lot more weight to lose than my target weight I am simply being realistic about losing weight in a healthy way.

Well at the end of the months technically I am down but would have been better if I had not had the blip in the middle, the problem is nights out and stress have both contributed this month to that pound put back on but I want to just focus on the positive and the 2lbs lost. I really want to be losing a pound a week so I did half of what I wanted this month lets hope next is better.

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02) Publish the remaining two parts of the Queen of Ages trilogy

I have started on the second part but am well down on where I wanted to be by the end of this month, however I am determined the first draft will be done before the middle of March so time to get stuck in this month and make up for lost time.

03) Exercise more

I have not made it to the pool this month at all, just bad timing with other things I have had on but next month I fully intend to start getting back into the Monday morning swim at the very least. As you can see I did not hit my 10k step target very often, it is annoying that I cannot get it to show the full month rather than the 28 days but as I can’t change it just have to work with the stats we have. as they were all set at zero on first of last month the increase looks fab but the important thing will be to keep that figure going up, the one thing that is obvious is I need to do more than just housework on Sundays.

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04) Blog at least four times a week

If you are reading my blog you know I failed this terribly but I promise you it is going to get better, family issues and commitments as I discussed earlier in the month have had to take priority but am now getting better organised and balancing everything better.

05) Get out more

If you get my newsletter or follow me on social media you will know I did get out twice this month, once with friends and the second time with the monster (it counts for now okay) both times to the Chinese Buffet, which actually accounts for that pound put back on lol. No actual nights out planned for this month but do have a lunch planned with my lovely friend Debbie and hoping to arrange a coffee meeting with another friend. I am also working on a special outing the month after which I will tell you more about nearer the time.

06) Write every day

I did not manage to write daily but what I did do was write when I had chance and also sort out several old folders with different bits of short stories, as you can see this actually is providing the basis for two very different short story collections potentially, well actually you can’t see both just the one but not going to say which one will come first lol, at the minute one looks like it may be family/relationship based and the other horror, just out of curiosity please answer in the comments do you prefer themed short story collection or ones that are a complete mix of genres?

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07) Work on my self belief

This month I have taken on a new mantra ‘It is what it is!’ By this I am looking at accepting my failings without judgement upon myself, I will not rip myself to pieces because I did not achieve all my goals, I will not waste energy fighting the tide on things I cannot change and I will embrace situations and make the most of them. It does not mean I shall not strive to push myself but it does mean that I shall have faith that if I fail there is a reason and it is not always myself at fault.

08)  Time management

Well obviously I as have not been hitting my targets it would seem I have been failing miserably however it is not quite true, because I have been making more time for family and to spend quality time with my son. I do need to focus more and be more productive during the daytime hours I have spare for writing and that will be my focus for the next month.

09) Update my wardrobe

Well obviously two pounds is not enough to justify a new wardrobe but I have been thinking about what I want my look to be, I recently added some purple to the pink in my hair and I am tempted to move more towards purple than pink, I am rather liking the idea of a ‘steam-punk’, Victorian ‘Gothic’ I like the idea of the corseted structured look with maybe the long bustled /layered skirts however with a butt the size of mine that may not be the most flattering look to go for.

10)  Publish the newsletter each month

The February newsletter went out on time and I am pleased to say I had plotted out half of it during the month, with the exception of a book to my friend Heidi and the January prize sending out I am now caught up on the mailing situation so that is a huge bonus. I am hoping to have more exciting things to discuss in the newsletters as time goes by because it is hard to make it so they are more than a rehash of FB and Instagram posts and not just pushing the same book over and over again.

11) Work out what I want in my personal life

This month my personal life has not taken a step forwards, backwards or in any other direction. My son has been my priority and my one night out was not exactly the sort of night that was going to give the opportunity to meet someone. At the minute I have so much on making time to met new people is going to be hard, I don’t really want to go down the on line route and just talking to people on line because you can’t judge if the chemistry is there via text or even on the phone, it is a physical reaction, I did meet someone last summer but due to other issues it did not work out but the chemistry was off the chart and the memory of how alive that spark made me feel means I am not about to settle for anything less.

12) Keep my website up to date

I am technically behind by one post as I write this, mainly because I struggle to think of interesting things at the minute to put on up there, I also am due to add another today as I am finally finishing this in the Sunday despite the fact it has been on the go since Wednesday but it has been a rather chaotic week personally so I am going to forgive myself as after all ‘It is what it is!’

Resolutions 2017

As you will be aware if you have joined me here the last few New Years I like to make resolutions, mainly in the blind hope I might stick to at least one or two of them and this year is no different, well no that’s not true because actually it is. The resolutions I am making this year are split into two categories, writing and personal, and I am going to do half a dozen of each, then update you  on my progress monthly/

01)  Lose weight, yup this old chestnut again, I lost a stone and a half in the second half of last year so just set up a fresh spread sheet and new targets, while I know I have a lot more weight to lose than my target weight I am simply being realistic about losing weight in a healthy way.

I don’t want to diet as such, I enjoy food too much but it is more about eating habits and portion control, after all a little of what you want does you good lol. so this is the chart I will be using at the minute the whole year is shown as a red line, which you will hopefully see begin to incline week after week.

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02) Publish the remaining two parts of the Queen of Ages trilogy

I already have both out lined and know the overall story arc, it is strange because as excited as I am to begin work on them I am also a little reluctant to finish the story as I have lived with these characters in my head for so long while I plucked up the courage to share them.

03) Exercise more

I pay for a gym membership but at the minute have been using it to go swimming once a week, I am determined that I am going to up that to at least twice a week plus use my Fitbit, I was using it frequently but then I accidentally misplaced it then struggled to get it working properly again but hopefully that is resolved. The online dashboard app does not allow a month view rather it does four weekly so the evidence I shall show will be the four weeks prior to updates. I have it set for 10k steps per day but honestly that never happens I might manage one or two days a week so I am going to aim for a weekly target of 45k per week initially hopefully that number will go up and you will see my weekly average increase each week as I get fitter. As you can see I have not used it for a few weeks so it does allow for a fresh start stats wise.

 

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04) Blog at least four times a week

I tend to be quite hit and miss with blogging, either managing daily blogs or going weeks without a post. the only reason for this is poor time management. Most blog posts are around 500 words which takes only half an hour to write. The only blog post I do that I need to live post is the Lazy Sunday post, all others can be done in advance and scheduled, including the weekly vlog.

05) Get out more

Since I split with the monster’s dad I have really gone out very little, that is partly through choice and not feeling like it due to the things that have been going on in my life but also the practicalities of being a single parent, but if I am going to consider meeting someone and having a relationship it might help if I actually leave the house lol, chatting on line or texting is fine but I miss going for meals, going to the theatre or cinema, and of course I don’t actually need a partner to do these things I can go with friends or even on my own but whoever I go with this year am determined to have one night out a month and one coffee meeting with a friend each month.

06) Write every day

I have lots of targets set for myself this year, and if I want to achieve everything I want to get done I will have to not only hit them but realistically hit them ahead of target. I have downloaded the writing tracker so brilliantly crafted by Jamie again this year and she has added the ability to add monthly targets as well which will make it so much easier to keep track of where and when I am struggling.

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07) Work on my self belief

This is one you cannot track on a spreadsheet or by hitting targets it is something within which I need to work on. I constantly second guess myself instead of going with my gut reactions. I also find it hard to take compliments, I may smile and say the right thing at the time but after I question what every comment could mean how it could be interpreted a different way. This is one thing in which the old cliché of fake it till you make it might actually apply but I also think it is something I need to work on from the inside.

08)  Time management

I have touched on this in my other resolutions but I want to elaborate, I know there are enough hours in the day to achieve all I want to but too often I get distracted. I want to set up proper working hours where I focus purely on writing, mainly while the monster is at school. I am trying to find my receipt in the folders for the freedom app which is a great way of stopping you get distracted by other online apps.

09) Update my wardrobe

Now obviously as I lose weight I will be buying new clothes but that is not what I actually mean, I want to work on an image change to go with the transition from someone with a day job who writes to an writer who works a few hours at a day job.

10)  Publish the newsletter each month

I have a horrible habit of leaving the newsletter until the next minute then not getting it done at all, I am determined that the first day of every month if you have signed up for the newsletter it will be in your inbox at some point that day preferably in the morning.

11) Work out what I want in my personal life

This might sound strange but actually it is not, I have lived on my own for quite a while, I am used to having my own space, doing things my own way, so the question is going forward if I meet someone what am I willing to give up or settle for. For example part of me would love someone to curl up with on a night when I fall asleep but I also want to be free to come and go as I please and not to have to answer to anyone. I have enough picking up after a child, two cats and a dog, I don’t want to have to pick up after another person, so you have to question what another person would be wiling to contribute to a house hold. The real answer is of course that compromise is required, for me I have to work out where I am willing to compromise and what the deal breakers would be and of course the fact is these types of things do not just effect me so I have to be doubly sure before I considered letting anyone meet the monster.

12) Keep my website up to date

I have been terrible at posting to the website, it goes months without being updated, which when you consider I pay for it is ridiculous. Admittedly the website is more of a one stop shop, it has links to all my books, photos, newsletter sign up, news and events. It also has a link back to here for those wanting to know me more as a person, I am determined to keep updating it with a weekly post but also to promote it as much as I do the blog and my other sites.

 

So that is my dozen resolutions for 2017, have you made any, if so let me know in comments what they are if you wish to share.

Lazy Sunday #19 & #20 Plus Vlog Time #75

Okay a whole lot today and first up the vlog which will explain why last Sunday everything got turned upside down…

So that being said a couple of bonus blog shares this week as I had actually started the post last week and t had sat in drafts waiting…

  1. I have heard several very similar reviews to this one, and I do think that it is because it is a play and so much of the visual will have been left out, I wish JK had maybe released it as a play and gone a little further and completed it into an actual book, I know there are a couple of short stories to come and I will probably read it, as well as those but the reviews do not have me rushing to it, I hope the play appears on DVD as many people cannot afford or physically travel to the West End even if they could get tickets, but maybe the way to go is read this with friends and act out the parts yourselves for now https://lucywilliamspoetry.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child/
  2. I love this picture, it reminds me of proper Autumn’s where the leaves turned on the trees and fell into crispy, deep carpets you could swish your feet through and throw them in the air, they did not just end up as wet slush in the gutters https://thewearytravelers.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/autumn-mist-germany/
  3. I know it is probably wrong but I really, really want to read this book now https://pbbpb.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/flesh-philip-jose-farmer-1960/
  4. My lovely friend Heidi is revamping one of my favourite series I just really hope she does the print versions as I would love to have them sat on my bookshelves https://hnsieverding.wordpress.com/2016/09/03/time-to-reveal-my-secret-project/
  5. A new blog this week and one I hope will develop, the art work I have seen is bright and vibrant and full of possibilities, I am not sure if it is because of the way language translates but I would love to hear more about what it inspired in the artist rather than the short sentences trying to tell the viewer what to feel and I hope they take that in the spirit with which it is meant, I find art to be such a personal thing and hated being told what it should evoke especially if I saw it different to the other person, I am the person who was not impressed by the Mona Lisa regardless of the number of eye levels and perspectives, but decide for yourselves https://paintdigi.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/my-31st-painted-picture-mon-31e-tableau/
  6. There are times we all struggle to put feelings into words and thankfully there are others who do it a far more eloquently, 18 months ago I wrote the eulogy for my grandma and know just how hard it is to put your thoughts in order to pay tribute to those whose loss robs you of the most, sending love to a dear, dear friend as she begins her journey through life without her hero xxx https://crazytraintotinkytown.com/2016/09/03/to-lose-someone-you-love-is-to-alter-your-life-forever/

Okay confession time I am sat sobbing after reading the last post, I came so close last week to living it myself, we know one day we will bury our parents, it is the way of life, how it should be, but that does not take away the pain. We are always greedy for just one more day. One of the main things we need to remember in life is love for today, don’t leave things unsaid or put things off without real need, no one is promised a tomorrow xxxx

Audio Book Review – The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins

This book had been sat on my TBR pile for ages and I confess I had got a little worried it would not live up to the hype, finally I decided to take the plunge but in audio book format…

Running Length; 10 hours and 59 minutes

Narrated by; Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher

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The Goodreads Blurb…

A debut psychological thriller about a woman who becomes emotionally entangled in a murder investigation because of something she witnesses on her daily commute.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every night. Every day she rattles over the same track junctions, flashes past the same stretch of cozy suburban homes. And every day she stops at the same signal and she sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof deck, living the perfect life that Rachel craves for herself – a lifestyle she recently lost. She looks forward to observing this household every morning, even makes up names and narratives for its residents. Then one day Rachel sees someone new in their garden, and soon after, the woman who lived there disappears.

Unable to keep this information to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and in the process is drawn into the lives of the couple she thought of as Jason and Jess but whose names – she has learned from the news – are really Megan and Scott Hipwell.

But the police accuse Rachel of being unreliable, and it’s true that her memories can’t always be trusted. Plus there are the stories that her ex-husband’s new wife has been spreading about her. By the time Megan’s body is found, Rachel is in over her head, intricately entangled in the details of the investigation, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she put others in danger? Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by listeners across markets and categories.

Strangely given all the hype I was surprised when I went to get the blurb how low the rating is for this book but I think I get why and also why as an audio book this might actually blow the written version out of the water.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints, three distinctively different women with three very different views on what is happening within the story, obviously I can only speculate given I did not read the written version but I suspect it can get hard to keep the three separate in your head. The advantage of this audio version is each of the women is narrated by a different actress, and they are all incredibly talented ladies.

The story plays with the idea of memory, not only the unreliable one of Rachel but also the way in which it is selective and allows people to fool themselves into believing their own take on things. In the end though the story is about love, betrayal and heartbreak, though the characters are very different in one way or another they are all self destructive, searching to find fulfilment in the wrong places and irreconcilably bound together by an invisible thread.

Would I recommend this book yes but I would add the proviso that I would recommend this audio book even higher, there is talk of a film but I have to say if they do they need to use this same cast and even then I am not sure it can out do this, a huge 5 out of 5 stars.

Gold star

On this day 100 years ago…

On this day 100 years ago today a battle begun, one which would see thousands killed, and family histories forever changed, including mine.

When I started doing my family tree I began with my mums side, unusual as it is often easier to trace back the family name but my gran was still alive and could help me on that side, but curiosity did get the better of me and I wanted to know why my dad knew nothing of his family, why I could not remember my granddad ever talking about his family, although there was one brother who visited him. My dad was reticent, I think he suspected some terrible dark skeleton hidden in the closet. What I found was a man who went off to fight a war in a country he would never leave and do it for a country that would, at a later date put up signs barring those with his heritage.

In 1877 of Irish immigrant parents, Michael Acton was born in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire. Making his way north through Lancaster he ended up in Castleford, where he met and married my great-grandmother Fanny Wall. Together they had five children, frustratingly I cannot find the document I had with his signing up date so I cannot be sure if he ever saw his youngest child before he left for war.

As a coal miner I think it unlikely he would have been conscripted and I am pretty sure from what I remember of my research at the time he signed up before conscription begun, just another man who wanted to what he believed was the right thing and make the world a better place for his family. Maybe he was naive and believed the home by Christmas posters, maybe he thought by fighting for the country his Irish heritage might be overlooked as he sought to provide for his family we will never know because my granddad was only 7 years old when his dad left to fight for freedom on foreign soil and he would never see him again.

My dad only ever saw one photo of his granddad, a big blonde haired Irish man standing next to a horse and cart in the photo, he had asked his dad who it was only to be told it was his granddad and the matter dropped. No one knows what happened to the photo, my aunt does not recall seeing it and she checked the photos she took from the house when it was cleared and cannot find it, maybe another relative has it, maybe it got lost, tucked inside something thrown away as unimportant. It is the truth that there were not as many photos back then, certainly very few people could afford to have them taken and no one had personal camera’s, I like to think somewhere in other branches of the family they do exist because in some ways there is nothing left other than a few words on census records, and on military records. There is no grave to lay flowers at, and though biologically he lives on through me, my siblings and our children, the name is passed on less and less over time, my son bears his fathers surname and while my daughter does have it eventually she will marry and change it and her children will more than likely not take it forward, from our branch only my brothers sons will carry it forth.

But I digress, so a man sets out, leaves his loved ones behind, I doubt any of them really though of the circumstances they would end up in, if he had left expecting to leave his wife a widow and children fatherless could he have still signed that bit of paper? Maybe he believed they would be looked after, from stories my Aunt remembers that was not always the case, my granddad spoke bitterly of the priest coming round and taking the last penny from the fireplace, I was christened Church of England, it never crossed my mind we would be anything else but piecing together the facts and anecdotes my Aunt knew, we came to a conclusion the Acton’s who came from Ireland, travelled from County Galway to a new life in England were probably Catholic, I confess it came as a bit of a shock and we have no technical proof at the minute but it does make some things fall into place. It is also worth noting the names O’Brien and Connor also feature down that family tree which adds a little more circumstantial weight to that hypothesis.

So what do I know about this man well very little other than these few pieces of information..

1262_00544Dead! A simple four letter word that changed so much, but it get worse because normally when a loved one dies you have a grave, somewhere to lie flowers and acknowledge they lived but not for him. There was no body, no resting place his wife and children could visit instead he is commemorated in a cemetery in France, Thiepval, along with thousands of others who never came home,

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Instead of returning home to his family they received medals in his honour which could never take the place of flesh and blood, Victory medalWW1_1914_Mons_Star_WWI_ob

A name carved in stone that remembers a man his children never had the chance to know, and for what because some men believe they have the right to determine the fate of others, they think they have the right for power and wealth, because they think they are more worthy than their fellow man and hold others live not only as having no worth but in contempt. Even today around the world there will be families mourning loved ones, killed for standing up for what is right, killed for trusting the words of people who do not care if they live or die. There will be others who die for causes they believe in, believe honourable but they too are wrong. No one should ever have to die for a cause, because the only cause we have any business with in this life or the next is peace, love, tolerance and understanding; whatever your belief system you have no right to judge another person no right to act as your own god and pass sentence. We can only hope that the anniversary of one of the worst conflicts in history can remind us what they fought and died for and that many people from different nations stood together united in the hope that they would make the world a better place for us.

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