Saturday, 31 December 2011

HELLO What To Do? 2012

I mentioned in an earlier post (1/12/11) that I was taking part in the 100k in 100 days challenge. What will I be doing? Well, one of the plans is to complete a novel of 15,000-35,000 words for the 8-12 yrs category. This is for the Francis Lincoln Diverse Voice Children's Book Award 2013. This award is linked with Seven Stories. The award was announced 1/12/11 and the closing date is 31/12/12 with the winner announced Spring 2013.



The entry criteria must include cultural diversity in the widest possible sense, be it in story content or ethnic and cultural origins of the author. Well, that's two boxes ticked for me.

I'm doing this like NaNo, so I'll be writing 1000 words a day and writing to the max word count (35,000). The plot is more or less laid out so type, type, type ahoy. It's called 'The Wind Knows My Name, a fantasy story for 12 yr olds. The first award winner was Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne. It's a great read.

When that's done, the next thing is to add more words to my WIP-Shadowmaker. Then I'll see how I get on from there.
                                                                           

Yesterday, as I looked through a months worth of blog posts; (sorry, I had a break from all things writing after NaNo); I came across A Classics Challenge from November's Autumn. I will be taking part in this. Here are my 7 works of classic literature that I will be reading in 2012:


     1- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
     2- Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
     3- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
     4- The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
     5- Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
     6- Dracula by Bram Stoker
     7- The Time Machine by H.G Wells

I picked Rebecca because I bought this book as a teenager and for some reason had never got past the first chapter. I don't know why, because I do know this is a brilliant book.

Tess I read as a teen and loved. Thomas Hardy was my literary hero. It will he great to read this again. And the same goes for Jane Eyre. You can believe in love after reading this.

The infamous line; 'a handbag.' I've seen the film a lot of times and the humour and the characters are perfect. I can't wait to read some Oscar Wilde.

I've read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland but not the second book, so this will be a nice gem of a read.

You can't beat a bit of Gothic horror so it had to be Dracula; the original vampire story.

Another great that I read in earlier years. I shall be revisiting a love of science fiction in The Time Machine.

That's some of what I plan to do this coming 2012. What will you be up to? Happy New Year! x





Friday, 30 December 2011

HELLO Well, I Wasn't Expecting To See That!

I'm still working whilst everyone in my house is enjoying the holidays. But this is okay because when I got home today, I received a big hug from my daughter; she's a teen so this is something, and Hubby was preparing tea (yay me!)

She pointed to my magazine that had arrived early-Writing Magazine Feb 2012. I like to tear open the plastic wrapping and browse over a cuppa, so that had to wait till I'd showered.

All ready to look over the glossy pages, starting from the back, I flicked through page by page making a mental note of articles I'd read first. Then it happened. A flash of recognition. Shadowmaker. Aren't I writing a YA book of the same name? I am. I opened the page up and noticed the title 'Under the microscope.' Then there was the fact file with a familiar photo. Bloody hell! That's me. I'm featured in Writing Magazine.

I did a double-take. I looked up to see if anyone had noticed. Looked again. I know it's daft but I thought, maybe I was daydreaming and the page would refocus showing someone else's article. No. It was still me. I jumped up and yelped some sort of scream of excitement whilst shoving the mag, first in my daughters face, and then to Hubby who was draining the pasta. Look it's me.

Let me explain. I subscribe to a great magazine called Writing Magazine, and every month someone's work (a 300 word extract) is critiqued, thus the title-Under the microscope. I emailed my piece to the editor in October, and, well, you know the rest. It was the first 300 words of my WIP, Shadowmaker.

The comments were fair, though some may say harsh, but that's the point of a critique and I agreed with a lot of it. When you're so engrossed in a piece of work you can forget to step back and see the scene. Fresh eyes can see new or different things, some of which may seem confusing to the reader. I suppose I have this fixed image of how everything is in my novel world and it can be hard to undo it. The critique has allowed me to pull back and see how important every word is. I guess you could say words are like notes on a score. I can hear the late, great Eric Morecombe telling me now: I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.

This was a positive experience. I'd recommend everyone to have a go.




Thursday, 1 December 2011

HELLO Winner

I did the NaNo thing. What a marathon that was. Will I be doing it next year? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes. Was it worth the 30 days of blood, sweat and tears? Too right.

The fact that I can write 50,000 words in a month means I have the makings of a first draft-or thereabouts. I will be laying the baby to rest for awhile and come back to it once the cries of attention start (maybe in a month).

What next? Well I saw this in womagwriter's blog, and have signed up at Quiller's Place; 100k in 100 days. I have a few ideas that I want to pursue and this will help things move along nicely. Will fill you in later.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

HELLO OMG! That Was Just Crazy

Am still here, doing that thing called NaNo.

Today (yesterday, Monday. What day is it?) I just clocked up over 5,000 words! That's the most I've written in a day. By the way, today (I mean yesterday) was my day off. That helped. But still.

I had to do it though, to claw back on two days (I think) that I couldn't write because I was unwell. It's hard trying to get your brain to think and type at the same time when all it wants to do is sleep. Boo hoo. I had a stupid virus.

Obviously I've rallied round, but I don't want to go too crazy; I needs to get some creative sleep.

TWO DAYS to go!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

HELLO NaNo Day 22

It's been two weeks since I blogged.

I'm still NaNoing. Up to 37,000 and writing. It was a mammoth task writing up the work I'd written in my moleskine notebook, as well as getting my daily word count, but I got there in the end last week. Yey! Now that I'm typing straight on to the netbook, things are a little easier.

There are only eight days left of this madness. I can see the end of my story and the characters are willing me to keep writing. I've found the things that I'd planed to write for each chapter don't always get written, and that new ideas push their way in, demanding to be written. Thankfully, I haven't revised anything, if I had, I'd still be editing the first few chapters now.

I keep this mantra in my head:  this is a first draft, this is a first draft, this is a first draft.


In the past two weeks I've generally kept up to the daily count of 1667, though one day I went from 500 words to another day doing 3000! I'll let you know in a week whether or not it was worth it.




Monday, 7 November 2011

HELLO NaNo Day 7

A week has gone and I'm ahead (see word count metre). Phew!

The writing long hand thing's gone out the window-well two thirds out. I've always writen long hand and I think this article sort of explains a good reason to do it. For now; for NaNo, I will be typing straight on to Scrivener.

Before I get back to more typing, I thought I'd let you know that one of my writing buddies has WON!  They've achieved 50,000 words already? 


Saturday, 5 November 2011

HELLO NaNo Day 5

Today I met up with some fellow NaNoers at a write-in, in Cafe Nero's. We drink coffee, chatted, but mostly we were writing. I stayed for three hours and managed just short of 2000 words. Current tally is 11321.

One of the things I've learnt from today is that I might find it easier to type the novel straight on to my Netbook. Why? Because it will save time. NaNo is all about writing within a given time period-a month- and time is very precious. I think for my other novels, I will continue with my usual regimen; to hand write, and then type up later.

Also, writing in a cafe or library; away from familiar distractions, really boosts your word count. Probably a cafe is better because of the endless supplies of food and drinks.  

I'll be brief. I have 11321 words to type up.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

HELLO NaNo Day 3

So far, so good (6,400 words). I'm just glad I have a plan to write to; I'd be lost without one.

It's good to have a daily target, and also something to look forward to. I'm still managing to read, and at the mo it's Veronica Roth's YA novel, Divergent. Loving this. I had a look at her blog and found this gold piece of advice for NaNo.

That's just what I needed to read about. Write, write, write, and once the race is won, edit to your heart's content. It sounds simple, but am sure you writers out there all know how hard that is.

Have I mentioned my writing tools? Well, I'm a big fan of the black covered, plan page moleskine books. They might be pricey at £14.99 (something like that), but I think it makes a difference in the writing process; having something nice to write on. I've used these for a few years now and I won't be using anything else. Unless, that is, some freaky thing happens, and they stop producing them. It happened once. Reminds me of a Paul Auster novel, Oracle Night. He is a favourite author of mine and this book is brrrrrilliant!

Well, I suppose the choice of pen makes up for the cost of the moleskine. A few years ago, when I decided I was going to write a novel, Hubby bought me a lovely Cross pen for Christmas. It quickly ran out and I never got a refill for it (should have, really). Since then, I used whatever came to hand. Until, that is, I picked up one of my daughters, and it writes like a dream. It's just a simple black, ballpoint pen from WHSmith, and comes in a packet of 15. What a bargain.

So, I'm writing long hand and will type it up on Scrivener on a weekend (maybe). I've also discovered Evernote, an Android app (I know what one is now). I have it on my Netbook and mobile and I've found it invaluable.

I seem to have overrun on the short NaNo post update. Oh well. Back to writing more words for The Junk Room (the novel).

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

HELLO NaNo Day 1

It's NaNo Day!
I was typing away from 12 midnight, trying to get my first 500 words in. I made it with 4 extra words to boot.

The plan is: to complete 500 word chunks whenever and where ever. To me, this is easier than setting myself a big target in one sitting. So, today, I  had a chunk written in the wee hours, another just before lunch in Cafe Nero's, and another when I got home. Presently, I'm up to 1442, but I've still got this evening to get over 1667 figure. In case you're wondering, I'm not at work this week. That helps.


Monday, 31 October 2011

HELLO Ween

Halloween or All Hallows eve; the day before All Saints' day followed by All Souls' day.

Associated with costumes of witches, devils, ghosts and all things scary; trick or treating; apple bobbing, and the good old pumpkin.

What do you do with a pumpkin this big? I guess it's like the Christmas turkey that you eat into New Year.



Before.



And after.
A fabulous creation by Ray Villafane.









Sunday, 30 October 2011

HELLO HAPPY BIRTHDAY!




Bookworm Bites Back is 1 years old today!
That went quickly.

I started off just posting my short story fiction and then added Hello ramblings this August. I've enjoyed doing both and will continue posting them.

So, how will I be marking the anniversary of Bookworm Bites Back? Well, it's Sunday GMT, and the clocks go back an hour. 

That calls for extra sleep time.

As for the blog, I think I'll start a Bookworm Library and share the books I have read in my next blog year. That'll tie in with the first anniversary being paper (for weddings anyway). I will, however, be including Kindle books.

Keeping a blog and following blogs has been an adventure; showcasing my fiction and thoughts; dipping into the lives of others; offering advice or just reading; discovering new things/ideas. 

Blogs are like windows.
We all like to be nosey.


Thank you all for following Bookworm Bites Back. 
Here's to the next year. 

CHEERS!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

HELLO Nanu Nanu

IT'S ONE WEEK TILL NANO!

By the way, I've not misspelt NaNo in the title. NaNo just reminded me of Mork and Mindy, starring Robin Williams as Mork from Ork.


He had that strange hand salute when he delivered his greetings of nanu nanu; Orkan for hello.

The planning stage seems to have gone okay this month. I think I know what I'm going to write, and then ideas come to mind to make me revise my notes or add more elements.



The hardest aspect, so far, is not being able to start writing till 1st Nov (1/11/11).

Nanu nanu! They're interesting numbers. Some believe these and other double numbers signify an 'awakening' or a 'doorway.' Hmm. Curious. Another post for that, I think.

Anyway. My NaNo novel is called The Junk Room (it could look like this), and is a supernatural story for YA's. I will post the synopsis soon.



Sunday, 16 October 2011

HELLO Wish You Were Here

Wow! I can't believe it. What a wonderful surprise.


I left my blog unread for nearly two days, due to this lovely fellow. Am better now, so decided to log on. What did I see? Well, I've a short story published in Postcard Shorts.

Have a read here.

How could I have forgotten about this? I submitted it about a month ago and with initial excitement, regularly checked the email for a response. I didn't get one, but noticed their web address on the 'traffic source.' I'll definitely submit again after NaNo.

Thanks Old Kitty, whose blog I read about this fun idea. Have a go. It's harder than you think.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


I really should have known that something was seriously wrong when the food started communicating with me. And I listened.

Flat 17, Elderberry Way was my first property purchase; something I’d dreamt about for a long time, never really thinking that it would happen. Not this soon anyway. My plan was to save, save, save. That I did. The five year plan to buy a flat was a year in when spur of the moment, I bought a euro lottery ticket and won. Unbelievable. I don’t know what made me get one, because I only ever bought one on my birthday. I never did want to be sucked into that, must-buy-a-ticket-every-week-with-the-same-numbers-just-in-case-the-numbers-came-up, sort of thing. The lottery is random; I just got lucky.

The flat was a few years old. I remember walking passed the plot during its construction, visualising myself at home there; preparing my single meals from scratch, wandering out to the sunny balcony for fresh basil that I’d grown from seed-one of many herbs in my little sanctuary.

I was glad people had occupied it before me. At least any problems with the building would be ironed out in the early days, and as I was led to believe, the building would settle in its foundations.

Week three, in Flat 17, was the first time I recall the beginning of the end. 

I’d taken a week off work to redecorate. I chose to wallpaper throughout, apart from the bathroom and the kitchen that I left; I was happy with the colour schemes of apple white and mellow yellow in the respective rooms. Some people found papering hard work but I found it therapeutic; all that ripping and scrapping off the paper, like peeling the skin off the flat's face; literally giving it a makeover. I was updating its look, I guessed.

At lunchtime I was passed hunger, due to the fact that a wall can never be left unfinished. In my mind, to stop papering mid-wall, well, it was sacrilege. I went into the kitchen to make a cheese, ham and rocket sandwich, only to realise, when I opened the fridge, I’d eaten the last of the slices the day before. What to do? I plumped for jam on toast, a favourite snack.  As I waited for the toaster to do its thing, I got out the new butter from the fridge and peeled back the paper liner from the spread, and loaded the knife ready. I looked back at the paper liner at the words I missed on previous occasions. It read: Change is good. Never look back. Nice message, but what did that have to do with butter? How quire? Whose idea was it to put a random message in the food?

I checked the last tub that was on the side, ready to be washed prior to disposal in the recycling bin. This one was different. It read: Use a spoon. What? Use a spoon. What? Instead of a knife? Well it would make spreading it interesting.

The timely ejection of the toast stopped me from pondering too long about the odd messages. I smeared the butter with the knife, and then unscrewed the raspberry jam, putting a dollop on each of the two slices. The lid rattled briefly on the counterpane in my haste to damper by stomach pangs.

What was going on? I munched away on the toast and read what was written on the lid: Duck and dive to stay alive.  Was I missing something? What was the connection? There were other lids that I used as saucers underneath the small plant pots. I collected them all from the kitchen and bathroom window sills and lined them up. They were all the same brand; I never bought any other after discovering that one.

There were twelve lids but only five, probably the newer ones, had a message. I read each one, and then assembled them into something legible. Use a spoon; Keep it safe; Use a spoon; Reflect. It looks back; Change is good. Never look back; Duck and dive to stay alive; Home sweet home?

Two different products were saying to use a spoon so I got one out of the draw. I looked at the spoon, still intrigued by the messages and their potential meaning. Concave or convex; both reflected. They reflected what was behind me. I froze. What was I to do? Look back? I daren’t now that the food had spoken. Never look back. So I used the spoon, as I was instructed, and saw something reflected in it. The convex reflected things the correct way and the concave the opposite. This always fascinated me as a child, but today, fascination, well, it was here in droves. I hoped my imagination was making fun of me today.

In the spoon was something shining back at me but it wasn’t clear. It moved as I moved the spoon, it flipped and righted itself as I turned the spoon 360 degrees. I peered closer at the spoon, trying to make out what it was. Then I realised that if I pulled back, I could get more of a panoramic view, if but a small one. What was it?

I did a stupid thing. I turned round to face my tormentor. 

Monday, 3 October 2011

HELLO Knitting Rocks.

Hey! It's National Knitting Week 3-9 October 2011.



I can assure you, that this old-age past time is not just pursued by elderly women in rocking chairs. Honest. Well, of course there are some older ladies doing it, but this club is no longer their domain. No. Look here. Even the celeb's are doing it.


SJP in Sex and the Knitting.


Ehem. Ginger Spice explains a zigazig-ha.


And here's the lovely Russell Crowe. 
Proving the point (no pun intended) that 
KNITTING ROCKS!

And now that the nights are drawing in, ladies and gentlemen; take out your pins (or hooks if you crochet), grab some yarn and be creative.

Here are some things I made earlier.



I knitted this shawl for my grandma last Christmas.


A jumper for my nephew last year.


I loved this dress for my niece.
 But I noticed a mistake a third of the way to the end; 
the blip was at the beginning. Help! 
I didn't know what the heck to do, so I undid it all and started again. 
Did I say I was using itsy-bitsy-needles? When you knit, you are are perfectionist.
It was all good in the end.


A dress for the older niece who loved it.


And 'A HAND BAG' for her.


One of many berets that I've crocheted.

Ravelry is a great place to start looking for patterns and inspiration. If you need a manual, try this book and this one; I have these and they are fun and invaluable.

BE WARNED.
ONCE THE YARN TAKES A HOLD,
YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO STOP.


Saturday, 1 October 2011

HELLO NaNoWriMo 2011

Oh no! It's thirty days till NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I signed up in March and was so excited to participate, but now it's just round the corner, I'm wondering if I'm going to achieve the task. I'll give it a damn good go.

I have an idea, and this month; I am organising plot notes, gathering inspiring pictures, but not writing any of the actual novel. That would be unfaithful; not true to the project.

By the way, this is my first time. I'll let you know how it goes.


Thursday, 29 September 2011

HELLO Scrivener. Where Have You Been Hiding?

I remember flicking through the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, maybe a year ago, and coming across the advert for Scrivener, 'an award-winning word processor and project management tool.' Immediately, I googled, and read up about the tool on their website. Wow! I just had to have this. But to my dismay, it was only available for Mac OS X. Boo Hoo! It looked so great; something I'd definitely use to write all those stories I have in my head.

Never mind.

I'd managed so far with my ring binder, index cards, post-it notes and pictures.

In a fashion.

Then, whilst blogging, there was a reference to Scrivener, so I had another look. How excited was I to find there was a version for Windows coming out. Even better though was the beta version ready to download for immediate use.

So, I've been using it for ten days and I must say, it's AB FAB.


It's MULTI-TASTIC!
                                               
                                                         
I'm so glad I found you.

Friday, 23 September 2011

FLAMING PROMETHEUS


When I woke this morning I knew the monster was here to stay.

I felt drained, as if my life source had been transfused. There were remnants of the night’s restlessness still clinging to the edges of my waking mind.

Last night, the demon had been there, in my room with me, but I shut it out, willed it away so that I could rest. That damned beast struck me with its flaming torch; a taunting, possessed Prometheus. Though I screwed my eyes tightly I still saw the flashing licks in the darkness, spelling out some ancient, broken up hieroglyphs. It mocked me; knowing that Acheron and Styx; the darkest rivers of hell, would not even blot out the flicking torture of the light.

My will was strong and I entered sleep; a hopeful reprieve from the torment.

There was no reprieve on waking; only reprise. It jabbed towards me as before, with the torch, burning at by retina. Or maybe it’d taken up photography and was trigger-happy with the flash gun. The ultra-violent light was a winning, weakening weapon in its arsenal, causing me to feel nauseous. I was blinded by the light in my head and by the sunlight that struck through the slithering gaps in the curtain, as they moved in the breeze of the open window.

I had to get up. My hands shielded my eyes, suctioned on like barnacles to a ship. I could not allow the light to enter, not at any cost. So, I stumbled through the doorway heading towards the stairs. I needed to kill this thing. It would be slow once I swallowed the drug. It was always such a painful, all-encompassing experience, which left me an empty shell of a being. And then, it was hours or days, feeling like a zombie; unable to think, talking in slurs whilst my lips and face tingled and became numb.

There was someone coming.

‘Are you okay?’ he said. It was my husband. ‘Stay there. Don’t move, love. Sit on the step, I’ll get them for you,’ he said.

He came back upstairs and led me back to bed.

‘You’re cold,’ he said. I always am though.

After I forced the tablets down, between tsunami waves of nausea, I curled up in the foetus position whilst my husband covered me up and placed a black t-shirt over my face.

As I lay there, waiting for the blessed release, I reminded myself that I would be normal again. Well, a functioning human. And Prometheus would back away and extinguish his flame. Till the next time.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

HELLO Richmond Fontaine

What can I say about this band?

Well, they're from Portland, Oregon (America), and they are classed as an alternative country band. I'd call it rock, but I don't go for pigeon holing. Music is music. When it's good, as Richmond Fontaine are, it's very, very good. This is their new album The High Country, which they played at the gig where I saw them last night. Brilliant story telling from Willy Vlautin, the lead singer (the dude in the red check below). He's also a writer of  books; I have Motel Life on my reading list.

Joining them on the tour were the vocals of Deborah Kelly from The Damnations. Listen to track 4. I think this might ring some bells, ladies.

Before the close, they played some of their old faithful songs. Here's my favourite Post to Wire from the album of the some name.


Friday, 16 September 2011

HELLO I'm Sony Ericsson. How Can I Help You?


I have a new mobile.

Thankfully, Hubby sorted it out; it arrived the next day. My daughter said it was like hers and she would help me sort it out.

Well, of course I did want to do my best at first. I’m far from a technophobe, but I couldn’t even put my old Sim in the thing. The x-marks-the-spot was marked by an arrow, but that didn’t help. I looked in the very brief-but-simple instruction leaflet and then resorted to the tinternet. I wanted a video demo, but there wasn’t one. Half an hour later and I’d sussed it out. However, it was getting late and I didn’t have time to check out how to set the wake up alarm, so I retrieved the Sim and replaced it in my old phone. Tut!

Next day, with the Sim in (no problema), Daughter insisted on sorting my phone out. That is; rearranging apps, layout, wallpaper etc. 

What I didn’t get though was the android thing. Does it make tea then? An android, to me, was that sullen fellow, Marvin the Paranoid android, from Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. A robot with human features. 

Is it just me, or am I just getting old? Who cares? Daughter sorted my phone out, the rest I’ll work out along the way.


Friday, 9 September 2011

HELLO Cat On A Warm Greenhouse Roof

I hear today, from Old Kitty, on Ten Lives and Second Chances, that it's Mo Cats Day. And so, I thought I'd post about my feline friend.

He's I rescue cat who's lived with us for 8 years, so he's about 9-10 years old now. When we took him home, we promptly changed his given name to one he could be proud of; we called him Barney. His previous owners had called him Cuddles, which is ironic really, because he's not a cat that likes over friendly petting. As he's got older, he has mellowed some, and tolerates people and other cats; to a point.

As is the nature of cats, Barney comes and he goes. When it rains or when he's hungry, he's at the door waiting. Recently, he's taken it upon himself to bags my plastic greenhouse. I think it's got something to do with the hassle he gets from next door's cat. I'm sure, if I left the zipper up a little, in winter, he'd be in there keeping out of the weather. That, or I'd acquire shelves of neighbourhood cats.









Wednesday, 31 August 2011

MOVING ON


He wouldn’t go.

Neither of us wanted the time to come for the final farewell; but it had come. And gone. I’d envisioned a scene from that David Lean film. You know the one, set in the 40’s, black and white, lots of smoke and trains. I’ve got it now; Brief Encounter, starring Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard and Rachmaninoff. It was the melodramatic cinematography rather than the content of the film that I’d imagined. I was not an emotional Laura with angst, but like Laura, I believed in love.

We’d grown old together; me, him and the café we were sat in. The flaking paint on the window frames and skirting boards mirrored that of my bitten nails; together chipped and in need of TLC. I rubbed my hands as if that would buff up a bit of life into them.

He just stared into his cold coffee and stirred it occasionally with a tea-stained spoon. He didn’t take sugar, but he kept on stirring, as if the imaginary granules refused to dissolve. When I looked at him, shoulders slumped; like that misshapen pillow he refused to throw away; I shared his sorrow.

A group of teenagers come in all regaled in their New Romantic tartan and flouncy blouses, and headed for the counter to order. One of them yanked at another’s earplugs causing it to disconnect from the iPhone. The recognisable 80’s synthpop emanated at too-loud decibels. It was Duel by Propaganda; a song from my youth. I smiled at them thinking been-there-done-that-got-the t-shirt-etc. It’s funny how things come round.

I grabbed his hand. He looked up at me as I stood up to leave.

‘It’s time to go, love,’ I said.

I looked at my watch, and he looked at the station clock. We’d been there an hour. He didn’t want to leave. So, we’d sat in the sad café, not talking, just reminiscing, about how different our lives would be now, without Lucy. She had adventures to create for herself at university, while we contemplated the fact that we only had each other to look after.

He seemed deep in thought and then smiled briefly. He took my hand in his and pulled me along in a hurry.

‘Come on, love. Lucy was right.’

‘Where are we going?’

‘I think it’s the right time.’

‘For what?’

‘We’re off to the rescue home. There’s a dog there waiting to be loved.’

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

HELLO The Wonders Of Plastic

I often wonder, when I am older (much older), if I would wear a certain type of headgear that I saw two ladies wearing the other day.

I was driving through my home town and despite the rain, there were quite a lot of people shopping. It was also market day, so many older residents were about. Two older ladies crossed the road at the traffic lights, each with a couple of plastic bags in hand, full of shopping, and both wear plastic rain scarves.

Those scarves always make me chuckle when I see them. Why are they transparent? It's almost like they're meant to be invisible.


Reminds me of Wonder Woman in her invisible jet plane; there but not really there. Let us all just pretend.




Friday, 26 August 2011

HELLO I've Got A Doppleganger Machine

Yesterday, I spent the day answering the phone and dealing with concerned carers and their relatives; collegues requesting phone numbers, and making referrals to healthcare professionals. It makes for an interesting respite in the week from visiting patients. It's part of the job; co-ordinating once or twice a month.

When the vists for the next day were allocated, I was told I had quite a high number of patients to see.

I said, 'It's okay. I have a doppleganger machine at home.'

'What's one of them.'

'You know what a doppleganger is?'

'No.'

'It's someone who looks like you; a double. What I'll do is pass through the machine in the morning and then me and me will be able to get my work done in half the time.'

'Good idea. Don't go through too many times. I won't know which one's really you.'

If only.

But if I did have such a machine, I think I'd sell it to the NHS; get us some more nurses.


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

HELLO Metamorphosis of the Bookworm

Thanks to fairyhedgehog (and the Yorkshire Post) I am now fully up to date with the changing face of the Bookworm. No longer the timid, insular, fantasist; rather, someone who relates to people and can handle life and its variety of problems.

Obviously I understand this because I read a lot of fiction. (Tee Hee!)


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

HELLO Bookworm and Kindle

The remnants of my Holiday are lingering in the background. Barely there, really. But, every know an then, I start to recall things I was doing this time last week. One of things I got round to doing was reading.

Being a Bookworm means Holidays are a great thing; free time to get involved in a story or two. I took my Kindle with me this time. When the Kindle (and the like) came out, I do believe I said, 'I will never get one of those. I love the smell and the feel of a book too much to read off an electronic screen, It's something like Ford Prefect's Guide Book; not to the Galaxy, but to the library.' Something like that, anyway. But I got one and I really like the thing.

Reasons:

I'm writing a teen/young adult book and so reading from that range is beneficial. The Kindle means I can read cheaply, without the hassle of storage;

I can go on Holiday with more novels without the worry of weight restrictions;

You can get some real bargains including free books, how good is that!

And lastly, you can have a rummage; morning, noon or night, click 'buy' and ten seconds later you have a book to read.

Here are the books I read on Holiday.


The story of Gwen and Alfie unfolds during Christmas at Alfie's family home, Creake Hall. Gwen, who is alone in the world, becomes involved in her boyfriend's family and their secrets.

I liked this book, set in a house, full of great characters and their untold stories, that Gwen slowly teases out, like the thread from the quilt.






A familiar stranger comes into Caz's life and sets to 'rock' her world. She restores rocking horses and he's a rock star, thought dead for three years. Caz plays detective as she tries to find out who killed Ric.

A fast paced read with a mix of romance, humour, crime and mystery. The characters were easy to love and some I switched alliances as the story drove on.

I'm looking forward to reading another of her books; Replica.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

HELLO Hola

Hola. Como estas? Bien.

Ah! Why is it that holiday memories fade so quickly once you get back to work? It's not really the memories that fade, more the experience of being 'away' that does. You are living in another reality. The reality called Holiday.

My Holiday was in Nerja in Spain, about an hours drive from Malaga along the Costa del Sol. We arrived to an Eveready sun, showing out at 30+ degrees; very impressive. Who could tire of the sun? When it got too hot in the shade, we cooled off in the sea or by the pool.

Ice-creams were a daily requirement and who could fault the availability and choice. There was enough to make Willie Wonker jealous, I can assure you. I recommend mango. El helado de mango es bueno. The toasted jamon y queso sandwiches were a good lunchtime snack whilst tapas and fish were great evening meals to end the day.

It is true that reality changes when we are self-indulgent. On Holiday, time stretches. The days are long and one week seems like two, and two weeks like a month. Life outside the Holiday world ticks over as a peripheral  reality, barely acknowledged by us travellers, as we are blinkered by the sun, sea, food and leisure.

And then we have to leave.

Back home to temperate climes, where as each day passes, the stored heat of Spain is sieved from our bodies. By the end of the week, the old thin fleece has emerged from the coat hook.

I'm back to work. Back to the routine. Thinking of the next Holiday.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

HELLO Dentist

I did have another blog on the go called I am Swan, which I have just transferred to its own page on Bookworm Bites Back (BWBB). All part of the revamp. There will be more correspondence from Swan in the near future.

Today, I have had a jaw-breaking experience. I hate to use this word -literally- but it was literally that. At a time I should have been enjoying a leisurely day off work, I found myself prone where I stayed for 1 1/2 hours. With my mouth open, obviously. Sorry, did I say I went to the dentist? I went to the dentist this morning for a root canal.

Well, I'd only ever had a couple of fillings when I was younger, so this was a new experience for me, and one I shall not be having again. (Hopefully). The injection was fine and lasted for 6 hours, though this left me unable to drink properly without feeling as if I had a hole in the side of my face. Also, as I had to pick up the Kerrang! magazine (for my daughter) from the local shop, I became conscious that my face was lopsided, and my need to appear happy with my lot was lost in my tragic smile/grimace. When I got home I looked in the mirror and it was all good; parallel but numb.

I kept my eyes closed for the duration listening to Gossip. Specifically, Beth Ditto singing Standing In The Way Of Control, repeatedly in my radio-head. This was interspersed by Manfred Mann's Ho Ho Said The Clown. At least my own musings were less grating on the ear than the drill-of-a-thousand-mice-scraping-their-nails-on-a-chalkboard. I cringed. Inwardly. Didn't want the dentist's hand to slip.

Just when I thought it wouldn't end; the drilling, the pulling, the scraping and pushing. It was all over, bar the singing from the checkout. When I said  jaw-breaking, I had visions of me like this. And then I got the bill. Well, you can imagine.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

HELLO

Wow! Ten months since I started this blog. I'm glad I did it. I've redecorated Bookworm Bites Back today (still in progress) and dusted some cobwebs from the corners, and now you will note, I am including my voice along with my fiction.

In the past few months that I have been away from Blogworld, I have been attending to other things that I will share with you in my Hello. I hope you will continue to enjoy.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

GREEN FINGERS

In the six weeks since Evan had retired he had become a passionate gardener. He hadn’t really enjoyed it before, probably because sensed he fell short of his wife’s expectations. That is: Joyce kept a well organised home and it extended outside too. She attended to her flowers, and the vegetables that were flourishing well were Evan’s babies and his alone.

They stated off sown in the greenhouse and shortly after the seedlings appeared and then they were transplanted into three inch pots and then five inch pots as they out grew the last. There were lettuce, rocket sown into granite coloured washing up bowls – because they were cheaper and the size he preferred to the troughs and tubs from the garden centre. Radishes, beetroot, spinach, carrots and spring onions were in larger blue tarpaulin bags; broccoli, courgettes, sprouts, savoy cabbages, tomatoes, beans and peas were in individual terracotta pots, as were the herbs in their varying stages of development.

It may have seemed a haphazard approach to his new love but Evan liked it. Joyce didn’t. It was decided that Evan had to create a raised bed and transplant his vegetables there, all nice and neat, just as Joyce liked it.

He admitted, when it was all done, that the plot was more organised and accessible: he could walk round and tend to his plants; talking and caring for their needs. 

Evan spent most of the fine days outside either in the garden with his plants or sitting and reading one of his crime novels. He’d often look up - unnoticed behind his UV reaction glasses- at the kitchen window, at his wife scowling at his pride; his focus of attention. This only encouraged him even more to stay out of her way.

One afternoon, Joyce was in the garden, enjoying the sun on the lounger. She wore her baggy white shorts with a yellow vest, shades and a wide brimmed straw hat pulled over her face. Her magazines were strewn over the patio were she’d lost consciousness. She began to snore. Evan tried to ignore the wet, sloppy sounds emanating from under the hat. Who would have that Joyce, with her high pitched voice could have such a low ranging snore.

Evan headed off to the kitchen, selecting some salad veg along the way. He poured himself fresh lemonade and tapped on the open window.

‘Sweetie? Do you want a drink?’

Her hat moved. Her arms were flapping about like she had shuddered, and then they flopped by her side. Evan thought she had probably swatted a bee. He took a tray of bread, salad and drinks and sat down.

‘Sweetie? I’ve got you a drink. It's water; tepid just as you like it.’

Evan poured it on the bed.

Joyce didn’t stir.

‘Sweetie? What are your doing under there?’ he said, lifting the sun hat carefully.

Her curly, dyed hair fell over her face. Evan pushed it back and caught his ring round her trestles. He unwound the chestnut brown strands intertwined with green highlights.  Green.

‘Sweetie? What have you done?’ he said, with mock horror.

He looked over at the raised bed and noticed that the pea sticks that had supported the six-foot plant had given way. The plant’s tendrils were stretching out, curling and grabbing at anything it could; unable to stand without its crutches. The tendrils had reached Joyce; she wore them well like a jade choker.

‘Sweet Pea? What have you done?’ he said, in a light theatrical manner.

Evan unravelled the sinewy green fingers and put the sun hat back over his wife’s head. He poured himself another glass of lemonade and some water for his beloved.

Friday, 18 March 2011

LOST IN FUGUE

White, blank, vast; a blinding, empty space that needed to be filled. I looked at it, waiting to be inspired.

He walked around the room, weaving in and out of our easels enthusing about the day’s lesson.

‘You are artists, creators, translators of your imagination and interpreters of reality. With such big responsibilities, you need to apply yourselves in new ways. Feel the colour, use movement, listen to the music and just be. Conduct that paint from the palette and create your symphony of colour. Be inspired. Put you heart and soul into it. And with that said, let me reveal your muse.’

He moved the screen that usually hid our subject of the day; a nude or still life objects, but today there was just, nothing.

‘Yes, my little gods. Heed my words and create your work out of this space here. What is there? What has been there? What could be there? What will be there? Draw it out. Put your iPods on and embrace the moment.’

He disappeared to make a coffee.

I looked around to see some bewildered faces wondering where they were going to start with the painting. Some were immediately inspired, closing their eyes and beginning to paint in the air on an invisible canvas, creating a concept in their internal world.

He’d told us to bring in some music to listen to so I just picked up a CD that my flatmate had left lying on the coffee table. She’d casually told me that her boyfriend was given the sampler following a recording session he’d done. She mentioned some famous guy was there but I can’t remember his name now. It had been sat there, unplayed, for weeks and instead, had been used as a coaster.

It was last minute, grabbing the CD, so I’d not had time to upload the music onto my iPod. I stuck it in my CD player; yeah that old fashioned device; that I always have in my rucksack. She never said who the artist was and the copy had no written indication as to who produced it or what type of music it contained. I pressed play and loaded my brush.

A voice spoke and it came from my left ear and travelled, as if the person speaking were walking in side my mind, to my right ear.

‘This is Solfeggio Frequency 741Hz.’

That was all he said, in a wonderfully calming, trusting voice. Then the music, if you can call it that, played. It was mesmerising. It wasn’t music per se, more like listening to the universal vibrations; it’s voice. It sounded crazy to think that but it was definitely spiritual, like the Gregorian chants from ancient monks. I listened and the waves of sound and colour lifted me to a different perspective. The room melted away and all I saw was the white canvas, waiting to be filled with life.

I was so absorbed in just being in the moment; like what he asked us to; I didn’t remember mixing the paints let alone applying it. All I knew was if I’d have closed my eyes, I’d have drifted into the deepest of meditative sleeps, to be woken up refreshed.

The music, or rather, the experience, stopped and I kind of awoke, and there was paint on the canvas. My goodness, was there ever paint on the canvas. What had I done? I mean I’m not being big headed but I am a good artist, but today, there was something about what he said and the music, the experience combined, that certainly inspired me beyond what I’d ever accomplished before.

It was abstract, with colour and form fusing in a dance; it was fireworks and sour sweet shudders; it was beautiful, and it was mine.

He came round each of us to critique our pieces and I was more than pleased by what he had to say.

‘Your choice of music seems to have channelled Kandinsky, which is quite appropriate because he tried to create the same effect on the viewer of his works as a musician does with music. But rather than seeing the sounds through the music, he wanted to capture the emotion of it.’

I framed the piece and hung it on the wall in the flat.

Different images came through the more I looked at it. I stared at the negative spaces and other images sprung to the fore, like one of those brain-teasers where the negative space is either a vase or two faces, depending on how you viewed it. The unseen picture developed and I began to understand. I was seeing the hidden emerging and the painting revealed a new message. It was weird. The pieces manoeuvred in the frame like a puzzle, reforming it and turning the negative shapes into a new complete image.

The hidden meaning? He said put your heart and soul into the work. Indeed I had and the reassembled image spoke of my soul; its intention.

I took a step forward away from reality and into a different one. My hand reached out and touched the thickly applied paint. It was almost a 3D form which seemed to pulse hypnotically, pulling me in. As I touched the array of abstract forms it seemed to release sounds and emotions, as if by my touch, I was playing some sort of instrument. The blue was calming whilst the yellow seemed aggressive, yet touching the two created the harmony of green, evoking images of spring meadows. The painting was alive with music, ignited senses and future dreams. It was exhausting to experience despite my elation.

A never ending dream, it seemed, with that familiar music repeating, repeating, and repeating itself. The concept of time had changed and though I knew only minutes had passed, I’m sure I’d been caught up in the painting for hours.

When she came home she looked up at my new masterpiece with delight, clapping her hands and feigning a forbidden touch. Her boyfriend was laid on the sofa staring at the painting.

‘What’s that you’re listening to?’ she said.

‘Oh, just something on her CD player. Great piece isn’t it?’ he said, pointing up. They both stared. ‘She really put her all into this one, didn’t she?’

‘I was just going to say that very same thing. Funny that.’

Friday, 11 March 2011

5 K

Still anticipation. Heart thumps increase, pumping adrenalin filled blood round the ready body, revving up like F1 racing cars on the grid.

Zen focus precedes the report that reverberates round their ears.

Then, the fire. The smoke. The gun.

Like startled gazelles they leap forward, bouncing muscle off muscle, as they hustle their way from the tight pack, into the freedom of space. Some speed off with impatience; or selfishness, greedy for the prize. Their awareness is masked by tunnel vision, and the end.

There is gentle gracefulness in the art of their movements, as they battle with the elements: the sun, warm and comforting; the breeze, cool and refreshing; the earth under foot, unpredictable, from grassy, morning dew softness, to stones and splashes from puddles; and a cocktail of scents from the bakery, exhaust fumes, pet excrement and sweat.

Relaxed muscles move in piston motions, powering the machine forward with robotic precision. Air is utilised in efficient gaseous exchange; rhythmic breath, relaxed and meditative. Their mantra: Control! Control! Control!

Others gasp as if they’re sensing their last Earthy breath, and the pistons become sluggish as acid clogs up the machine, and pain seeps in like whey through a cheese cloth, slowly dripping, leaving the body curdled.

Unfortunate ones are defeated, and cast themselves aside like leaping lemmings and retch by the trees, or slump to the ground, sweating, stumbling, mouths gaping for the need of life fuel; air and water. Those that pass them send out cries of encouragement that float by unheard.

The end must come and when it does, what blessed relief. Chemicals surge through the power machine, a euphoric mix of adrenalin and endorphin, pushing them on. At the end, they all stop. The machine stops but the heart’s fuel is still racing, pumping, flowing, moving, coursing through.

Queues form as they are ushered like cattle into different pens where the record keepers await to scan their barcodes. Thirty minutes and one second; a personal best! Some have recovered quickly but most are exhausted. They’ll return though, next week, for another park run.