I is for insane – #AtoZChallenge

insane

[in-seyn]
adjective

1.

not sane; not of sound mind; mentally deranged.

2.

of, relating to, or characteristic of a person who is mentally deranged:

insane actions; an insane asylum.

3.

utterly senseless:

an insane plan.
And the timer begins…
I think I am insane for taking one this challenge every April, don’t get me wrong I love it but is always seems that things crop up when I try, this is probably why I don’t try doing Nano in November. Insanity is a perfect subject for me I remember first seeing this info-graphic which I am going to insert here…
now you can obviously see why this made me stop and contemplate so many of the things you could be committed for let’s start with the first, being kicked by a horse! I totally get that if you are kicked in the head by the horse it could cause some form of brain damage but what if the horse kicked you and broke your leg, then clipped your head as you fell down but did not actually do any damage to your head do you still get locked up? Does it make a difference what you were doing to the horse when it kicks you? You can imagine for the writer side of me the endless possibilities each of the ‘reasons’ above. Many of them of course were aimed at women but I imagine that a few young men may have also ended up confined should they fail to live up to their families wishes.
My ex’s mum worked in an asylum a few years ago, a place which is now closed down, but she always said it was so sad that there were women there who were institutionalised by their years spent shut away, usually on the orders of their families for falling in love with the wrong people, getting caught having sex outside marriage and having children out of wedlock. I have an idea in my head for a story involving an asylum and a rich family which I would love to write at some point.
What is surprising is how many of the reasons that a man could probably be committed involve trauma, I know your normal hospital would not have been equipped to deal with brain damage or mental illness but you wonder how shutting someone away with depression or shell shock, in an institution full of people with serious mental illness (though of course many would not have the sort of diagnosed conditions we know of today) could eve hope to lead to their recovery.
Personally I would have been committed on numerous counts, let’s just mention the novel reading and as the timer is going leave you to imagine the others lol.
Leave a comment below for which you are most likely to be committed for is you dare!

A is for air letter – #AtoZChallenge

air letter
noun
noun: air letter; plural noun: air letters
  1. a sheet of light paper folded and sealed to form a letter for sending by airmail.
    Set the timer and let 30 minutes commence…

I like writing letters, even today in the digital age there is something so much more personal in sitting with a pen and paper, and letting the words, flow from the heart. I have written letters I have never sent, cathartic, vitriol filled rants at those who have done me wrong, well in my eyes anyway but I have written just as many love letters filled with words I cannot say, that I could never allow to spill from my lips.

As a child I used to write to my grandma once she moved away, I have some of those now, returned to me before the dementia took hold, such innocent lines of nothing but they had meant enough for her to have kept them for over 25 years. I think of the letters I wish I could write now, that it is too late for, to give her news of my books, my first grand child impending, so much more information than those lines she saved on the floral notelets that you unfolded to give you more writing space. I need to write to my great uncle, I have not been in touch with him for a while, at one point we rung every week but then my grandma passed away and the contact got less, not from a desire to lose contact but laziness, he probably feels I do not want to hear from him and I know he struggles with the phone so writing is better for him but I put it off so often. My great aunt is on Facebook so I keep in touch there with a series of likes, comments and tags, but my great uncle is not as tech savvy and I know he had trouble accessing the emails I sent him with stuff about the family tree.  U have photos of him and my great aunt as children, I know in theory the idea of digital albums people tagged and shared should mean they last forever but you have to wonder whether with the accidental hit of the delete button will entire sections of history disappear.  there is of course another reason the letter is so much more personal, the writing. In the family tree research we came across an uncle of my grandma’s repatriated to Australia after the first world war, in this cache of records there was a letter, scanned into the computer but a request for his army records, it seems so silly, the least personal type of letter you could imagine but as I sat staring at the screen I thought about the fact this man, dead before I was born, on the other side of the world had written those words. It had an address and though I am pretty sure the area had chanced I could put it in Google Maps and look at the address he had written that letter from, the street he would have walked down to post it. I love the idea that history is passed on in something tangible, that you can smell perfume on the letters, just the faintest smell of what the writer might have been wearing, that you can look at their choice of paper, pen and even in my case wax seal to tell you even more about them, I love the idea of something that though it will not last forever will, if passed on tell far more than an email ever could.

#leeds2018 – Live Ticket Launch!

I was going to do Tuesdays for #TheDarkerSideOfFiction2017 posts but as more events are added to my calendar it makes sense to pick Tuesdays as the day for all my posts about live events and signings. Darker is creeping up on me just ver 7 months to go but this week it is the #leeds2018 event which takes precedence and that is because this Friday 3rd March at 8pm tickets go on sale, and in a brilliant move the ladies from Hourglass Events are heading north and will be hosting the launch live on FB from the venue. Of course being just down the road in Huddersfield means it would be rude not to go join them for a beverage or two, (though not too many need to be on a train back at half ten as I have work next morning and next train is half one!)

So if you live in Leeds or in the surrounding areas why not come along and join us for a little tipple but if you can’t do not despair, instead grab you chosen beverage, get comfy on the sofa and join us live on line in this group, which you really should join anyway because there are some amazing authors in there, so click here to pop over and join up.

16807373_274505609652307_3421602869110506059_n

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…

888055

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

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.

2017-02-01-2

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.

2017-02-01

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?

2017-02-01-1

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!’

269 Days To Darker

I am thrilled to announce that it became official this week that The Darker Side of Fiction will be an annual event to be held in Peterborough. While there is of course no guarantee I will be invited back each year I can see me attending on a regular basis even if only as a guest, I love the fact Hourglass not only were willing to take a chance on me personally but that they work tirelessly to support and promote independent authors and give them chances they would struggle to achieve on their own.

I have done small signing event in my friends shop, I have done an on-line book launch but proper signing events are very hard to organise, I believe it is possible to arrange to do them in your local Waterstones but like everything it costs, and of course so does this but here is the big difference. You publish your first couple of books but are still struggling to make your voice heard and get your books read, all those people that promised reviews somehow never quite got round for it so you and trapped in the undercurrent of Amazon’s logistics, so how do you make you voice hear, get your work seen, well in steps an angel or in this case a couple of angels.

Hourglass events is run by Jo and Rachel, and they decided to combine their events business with a love of reading and create first the Leeds event then the Darker event, this gives smaller authors like myself the chance to sign alongside others with established followings, it provides the possibility of reaching a wider audience, that someone looking at the next stall might pick up your book and decide it looks interesting and worth taking a chance on. Kindle give-aways are great for getting you book onto peoples kindles what they can’t do is get that person to actually read it and post a review if they enjoy it, someone picking up a print version and investing their own money is more likely to at least read it, the review well that can come down to numerous other factors but you do stand a higher chance if they loved it.

I would really encourage anyone who gets the chance to go along to one of these book signing events, they are a fairly cheap way to pass a few hours, and even if you don’t by a stack of books you get the chance to meet new authors, get their cards and follow them on social media so you can find out more about them and maybe buy the books at a later date, but more than anything give them the support to continue following their dreams in an industry where so often you can be left feeling like you have banged your head against a million walls.

So Thoughts On Thursday!

I haven’t really done one of these for a while so it seemed like a good way to have a quick catch up.

Lets start with the fact it is 12 months to Peterborough and #TheDarkerSideOfFiction2017, I am so excited and now really it is my main focus for the future, I had planned on doing The Dragon’s Mark as stand alone book next however as I worked on the project it became clear it has the potential to be a series with a various characters taking the leads at different time, this means I am going to go straight ahead with the Queen Of Ages Trilogy, I shall be doing a cover reveal next Monday as well as announcing the launch date next in next weeks vlog.

OF course the writing is the most important thing but I cannot help but take a look for ideas for swag and of course the search for the perfect ball dress has begun.

If you are on FB you can keep up with the Darker Side event here…https://www.facebook.com/groups/1433818133602201/

And the 2018 event here (as it stands I am not signed to be a signing author at this event but I will be there at the evening event for certain it is just too good to miss) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1541707772746487/

And if you are interested in coming to see me in Peterborough then this is the link you need… https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-darker-side-of-fiction-2017-author-book-signing-event-tickets-24955322040

I am so excited about the future and feel more positive than I have in a long time, make sure you sign up to the newsletter for your chance to get your hands on some bonus give away prizes and be first to know what is happening, I know I have not been very good at keeping up to date with them but I will be sending them out from now on the first of each month and every month one person who opens their newsletter will win a prize though the prize will change from month to month, so anyone opening the November newsletter will go into a draw to win a signed print copy of Voices Across The Void.

Right need to finish editing tomorrows vlog, had a slight technical issue as my memory card slot on the computer decided to die this morning so had to find the camera cable, I will not say how many wrong cables I picked up before finding the right one but I will say I swore.

Take care and if you dress up for Halloween post your pictures to my FB page I will set up a Halloween thread there.

Vlog Time #77 – The Countdown Begins

Have decided I am going to film these earlier in the week from next week and actually put a little more thought into the production and editing, so here is the last vlog in the basic format and hopefully you will enjoy even more the ones I hope to start doing from next week 😀