A – Z Challenge 2017 – Theme Reveal

So in the past I have done places, animals, artists and I was hoping to come up with a really cool theme for this year but it just has not happened. You may have noticed there was no vlog or Lazy Sunday this last week, well the truth is our week was thrown into turmoil with the passing of one of our little furries, Buddy age 6 (a good age for a guinea pig) was dead when we got up on Thursday morning and although I hid the fact from Monster until after school there were lots of tears and as you can imagine we have been busy trying to ease his upset, which to be honest is not helped by ,the remaining piggie, making lots of noise in his distress at now being a lone piggie.

Anyhow back on subject A – Z theme, I have been racking my brain this morning but it was not really complying and I kept wondering off on strange trains of thought. The it came to me, that will be my ‘theme’ stream of conciousness! I am going to open the dictionary at random for each letter and and stick my finger on the word and that will be the starting point for that day. I will give the word and the definition first, then from there I shall allow my mind to wander wherever it so desires for 500 – 1000 words.

Now you all know me, so you can’t hold me responsible for any rabbit holes we may journey into, they may be fun and frivolous, or, dark and dangerous. I have no idea how well this will work but I think it will be fun finding out lol

Book Review – Telling Tales By Alan Bennett

I have to say I challenge anyone who has heard his voice not to read this and hear him talking to you…

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As usual begin with the Goodreads blurb…

Ten childhood snapshots from the master of the monologue Alan Bennett recalls his childhood in a sequence of talks that are funny, touching and told in his unique style. Hampered, as he sees it, by a family that never manages to be quite like other families he recounts his early years in Leeds a place where one learned early on the quite useful lesson that life is generally something that happens elsewhere: there is hiking every Sunday, trips into town and teas in cafes. Its an ordinary childhood, Bennetts father a butcher, his mother a reader of womens magazines who dreams of coffee mornings and cocktail parties and life down south. He re-lives family crises, early pieties and the lost tradition of musical evenings round the piano, all these tales told with that wry observation and ironic understatement that has earned Alan Bennett a place in the forefront of contemporary writing.

Even though his childhood in Leeds took place decades before my own I can still relate to much of what he was saying, I grew up on the outskirts of Leeds in a mining village and to be honest it always felt like you went back a decade or two from the city centre. But the truth is that even for those who grew up in other areas there will be elements from their own childhood they recognise, after all we all have those certain characters in our childhood that make their mark one way or another. Though it is written about a specific area the language is not dialectically difficult, and as I said in the opening if you have heard Alan Bennett’s voice it is impossible to read this without your head creating the illusion of him narrating it to you.  It is also interesting reading the introduction the understand more about his reasons for choosing to use this medium to relate his personal stories. It is a slim book and can be read in one night and makes a refreshing change to some of the ‘celebrity’ memoirs that are three hundred volumes of drivel., it is a testament to Bennett’s genius that he can select out a few memories that give you such an in-depth understanding into his childhood without needing a whole book.

And for the score, well it has to be five out of five stars.

Gold star

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 #27

We missed last week due to my illness and the next couple of weeks have rather important days falling on the Sunday, so this is the final Lazy Sunday for this year so I decided to share a couple of extra posts today, hope you enjoy them and thank you to all the wonderful bloggers who share the blogosphere with me.

The first couple are very dear friends who both lost loved ones this year and remind us that no one is promised tomorrow and that this time of year the empty chair can be especially painful.

  1. The wonderfully talented Dallas lost her dad this year, she shared the the painful journey of watching a dynamic man lose his battle against diseases which rob you not only of your body but your mind https://crazytraintotinkytown.com/2016/12/01/for-next-year-i-think-ill-just-be-happy/
  2. Another friend lost her mum and her bravery in sharing the grieving process both before and after her mum’s passing is to be applauded, we protect ourselves so much from the parts of life we don’t want to consider that when we are personally struck it breaks us, only by being brave enough to face the darkness can we really appreciate the light, https://veggiewitch.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/grief-is-a-surreal-place/
  3. I don’t want this to be only about grief so I want to share this awesome blog, they do not publish very often but when they do the photos and knowledge they share blow your mind https://sartenada.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/white-trees-arboles-blancos-arbres-blancs-arvores-brancas/
  4. Next up is one of two posts from the same blog but for very different reasons, so first of all because I love the way this lady keeps her sense of humour when so many others would have given in to despair https://jmgoyder.com/2016/11/29/green-juice-adventures/
  5. The second post is one she put up for her son, because we all have dreams but taking the step to make it happen is always the hardest part, https://jmgoyder.com/2016/11/09/ming/
  6. One from one of my favourite places to read poetry, an alternative look at the festive season https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/christmas-lies-bleeding/

And finally because I believe we should end this one a high something to make you smile

Book Review – Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone By JK Rowling

I decided to reread this series in the lead up to getting and reading the new releases so let’s see how it lived up to memory…

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So as always we will begin with the Goodreads blurb…

 

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.

First thing I have to say as a reread this was a little bit of a shock to the system. You might ask why, after all the book has been around for ages as have the films but that is exactly what the issue was. Over the years I have watched the films with the kids far more times than I have read the books, and the films are so well done gradually you forget what was left out of the films from the books or added in. First I have to say the writing style is really simple, no frills, exactly as it should be for the age group it is aimed at, it is of course now impossible unless you have been living under a stone not to visualise the characters as those portrayed by the actors in the films, this does make it harder to now regard the book as an individual entity.
There are a few things that I realise I had maybe not really noticed for example, I am now convinced Mrs Weasley was out to sabotage Ron’s Hogwort’s education from the start, when we know how important it is ‘The wand chooses the wizard Harry!” So the fact poor Ron is sent to start his wizarding education with his brothers second hand wand which was obviously faulty otherwise he would not have replaced it. My theory is she knows she cannot keep any of the others at home with her, especially her strong willed daughter and Ron seems like the best bet for her to be able to keep with her to mother.
The best thing about these books is the fact it made reading cool with kids again, it made parents who maybe didn’t bother take the time to read the stories with their kids, have to be honest no idea why people felt they needed an adult cover on the books, if you are going to read something don’t be afraid to let people see what it is. The style is fairly simple and yes you can pick out influences from other works but I feel that criticism is unfair, after all every thing we read influences us in one way or another.
So scores, what else can I give this other than 5 out of 5, my daughter loved the books as they came out, my son now enjoys them via audiobook and I am enjoying revisiting them.
Gold star

Lazy Sunday #21 Vlog Time #76

Am back!

Did you miss me? What can I tell you am back, my hair has gone alarmingly pink lol but I am feeling really good. I needed to take a step back to make some decisions about my personal life or to be fair my lack of it, so I made some changes, joined a dating site, despaired of the human race and came to some conclusions but this is not the place to talk about those but I will post at a later date about some of the conclusions I reached.

So lets get this done. I am heading out this afternoon to the cinema with the kids to see this film…

So for now a couple of blog posts to share and a vlog then back to normal from tomorrow…

  1. It seems so long since I had an away day, really feel the need for one growing especially after seeing posts like this https://nigelborrington.com/2016/09/06/september-on-the-river-swans-on-the-river-suir-county-tipperary-photo-story/
  2. I personally try not to put too much faith into statistics, after all I have never actually met anyone who has taken part in one but regardless of the inspiration this post is still genius https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2016/09/06/the-health-benefits-of-reading-fiction-guest-post/
  3. As you know I do love my notebooks and keep a rather sporadic journal, however although I can see the merits of this particular technique I fear it is not for me however I thought I would share it just incase it is the right fit for any of you https://frootbat31.wordpress.com/2016/09/03/the-joy-and-woe-of-morning-pages/

 

 

Catch you all next week for coffee and a chat and scheduled posts in between xxx