Monday, December 31, 2007

Farewell to 2007

My last blog post of the year.

It has been a strange, yet also life-affirming, year and right at the end, things seem to be coming together, especially in respect of the writing.

I think I know where I am heading.

I have finally realised (or accepted ?) that to get published you have to take risks and put your work out there. That the novel is not going to be written quickly, because that is not the way I work yet, despite the support from the lovely Novel Racers. So to keep my interest and have work to submit I also need to work on smaller pieces at the same time. Write them, send them out into the world and get back to the novel.

Today I have written a poem.
I may submit it to a competition.
That is a start.

Three best of the year:

1. Book - In Search of Adam by Caroline Smailes. Gritty, inventive and deeply haunting. If you haven't read it yet, look out for the forthcoming paperback.

2. Music - Back to Black by Amy Winehouse. I can't get the title song out of my head.

3. Moment - receiving the email telling me that my flash fiction had been accepted for the Your Messages anthology.

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and successful New Year. Here's to 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Introducing.... new fledgling website, here.

For the time being I am using free site hosting, hence the Google ads, I hope they are not too distracting. I'll probably upgrade to an ad-free paid version later and I want to add a links page of writers' resources in due course.

I've also bought a domain name and hopefully will be able to use it for this site soon...I think I know how to sort that out, but it is a bit scary so I need to take some technical advice before I fiddle with any settings.

It was interesting that when I first checked what domain names were available a few days ago, both .com and were free. By the time I decided to register yesterday someone else had registered .com, no doubt having picked up on my search. But I've gone for rather than pay extra to have .com transferred over to me by some sharks.

Three notable things:

1. We are all still unwell, especially son 1. Lots of coughing and little eating in this house at present.

2. I'm going to attempt to go into town this afternoon and brave the sales.

3. I need to get on with my OU work, as I have dropped well behind. A concerted effort is now needed!

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Christmas wasn't cancelled here, but it might just as well have been.

On Sunday son 2 was really poorly with flu symptoms...teeth chattering, even took himself off to bed at lunchtime ( autistic kids never do that!)

We all continued to have the hacking coughs which seemed to follow the sickness bug, resulting in poor sleeping. On Christmas morning the boys were up early and somehow all presents had been opened by 8am. Later I got our nice little organic turkey into the oven and continued to prepare lunch. By the time it was nearly ready I felt pretty bad. I sat down to try to eat a small portion, but after only a few mouthfuls and a couple of sips of Chablis, I had to give up and lie down on the sofa. Where I fell asleep.

In the meantime son 1 pigged out then took himself off to bed, also feeling ill. Son 2 was a little brighter than he had been on Sunday, but still a bit moody. Hubby was the only one feeling even reasonably fit...and it was a good thing he was, in order to keep an eye on son 2.

I slept through most of the afternoon, just rousing myself occasionally to see what was going on. In the evening I got up for about an hour to tidy up ( Hubby had washed up and done most of it) and to make sure the boys both got their meds. I then fell asleep again, all night, while son 1 also slept right through to the next day.

We are recovering, slowly, but none of us have much appetite yet, so there are lots of goodies still to be eaten. I'm just glad we weren't entertaining this year, so we hadn't gone too overboard with food and drink which might otherwise have been wasted.

Three notable things:

1. A very quiet Christmas ( understatement of the year)

2. Some family issues regarding elderly relatives need to be sorted. Soon.

3. Son 2 has playscheme today and tomorrow. Hooray!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

After five days recovering from an awful virus (yes, we all eventually got the sickness etc), I've got lots of catching up to do. So here are some things to keep you amused and wish you all a very happy Christmas!

Three Christmas things:

1. A Christmas quiz. It's harder than it looks!

2. Christmas lights:

(video removed due to virus)

3. Your Christmas card from me.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas chez nous

It is a good job that we don't have high expectations of Christmas. It is not that we don't enjoy it, we do. But we are not religious and we decided some years ago to gradually try to drop out of the pre-Christmas consumerism.

We will have presents, of course. In the past I was always left to do the shopping so I have gradually changed things. Now most of it is done on the internet and I expect Hubby and son 1 to tell me what they want. I also buy most of the things they will give me. There is no point wasting money on things that are not wanted.

We do enjoy our traditional Christmas dinner, though to be honest the boys both like the sausage and bacon trimmings better than the turkey. I do the food shopping and cooking, while hubby does much of the clearing up. Son 1 is threatening to help me cook this year which would actually be good as he is a great chef. We are not entertaining, so I won't have any of the stress involved in trying to produce something worthy of a glossy magazine.

This year the house is not Christmassy at all. We put the fibre-optic tree up, but son 2 got upset and has made us take it down again. Shame as he used to love the changing colours. He also takes down any cards we try to display, so they are piling up on a shelf. To be honest none of us are feeling well, so I think we can live with that.

We'll just celebrate Christmas in our own unique and autism-friendly way, as we have done for the last couple of years.

Three notable things:

1. Hubby's birthday today and he has taken three days off work. I had thought perhaps we could both take son 1 out for lunch, but we couldn't because...

2. ...son 2 had a 24 hour sickness bug yesterday and is also at home. He got up at 4.30am yesterday ( as did I , of course) and vomited a few times until eventually it started coming out the other end instead. He was miserable and didn't eat until late in the day yesterday, but has been happy and seemingly healthy today, so hopefully back to school tomorrow until Friday.

3. A lovely surprise in the post today cheered me up no end. I opened a package containing a Mslexia writer's diary which must have come from a giveaway I entered ages ago on chick lit book blog Trashionista and had almost forgotten about. Thanks, Trashionista, I love it!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I have Messages

I've mentioned the 'Your Messages' blog project frequently over the last month and a half, because it was not only fun and inspiring, but got my writing mojo back.

Launched by authors Sarah Salway and Lynne Rees, it was a month-long collaborative writing project based on responses to pieces from their soon to be relaunched book 'Messages'. I already had a copy which I had enjoyed dipping into, but now I have seen how inspiring it can be to my own writing, it will have even more use in future. I can really recommend it, both as a good read and writing prompts.


Today was the formal announcement of the pieces selected for the forthcoming You Messages anthology and......TWO of my flash pieces are to be included. I'm going to be published for the first time!

Some fellow Novel Racers also have work included, as do many other published and unpublished writers from all over the world.

OMG. It is so exciting.

The anthology will be published by Bluechrome and there is to be a launch party at The Poetry Cafe on 31st January. Just after my birthday, what better present could one ask for?

Best of all, however, is the news that all profits from the book are to support the wonderful charity Kids Company, which does so much to help severely disadvantaged children.

Thank you, Lynne and Sarah.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A funny old day...

I thought I had a phone tutorial at 9.30am. But it didn't happen and I can't find where (if at all) I wrote the date down. It's certainly not on my Google Calendar. So it could be tomorrow, or Friday or next week even! Still it made me get the book out again and read it...

I'm still feeling rough so decided to have another quiet day at home and I cancelled my appointment with the dental hygienist. I'm afraid the novel writing has also slipped for a couple of days, but I'll get back to it as soon as I feel better. I promise I will (for any Novel Racers who may be reading...)

My afternoon was much cheered by the arrival of all the course material for my next Open University course, E301, which starts at the end of January. It actually looks as if it will be very interesting, but as it is a level three course in a subject area almost entirely new to me, it may also be a challenge. Still I've always liked challenges!

Three notable things:

1. As I put son 2 on the school bus this morning ( after he had delayed it for ages by messing me around indoors) I noticed a very dirty mark smeared all over his chin. I think it was dried on toothpaste. All I could do was ask the escort to pass on a message to school to clean him up when he gets there. Bad Mum!

2. Son 1 is now going down with the dreaded cough lurgy.

3. I wonder how many of us will be ill for Christmas? It wouldn't be the first time, we've previously had Christmas Day interrupted by flu and chicken pox, though thankfully not at the same time!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Another blog award

This one has been gifted to me by Lane, whose blog I love. Thanks so much Lane.

Now I have to pass it on to five others. A tricky decision as always, because there are so many interesting and beautifully written blogs, but I'd like to give it to:

Crystal Jigsaw
Graeme K Talboys

To claim your award (in a choice of colours!) and to find out what it is all about, visit the website of The Shameless Lions Writing Circle.

Three notable things:

1. I'm still feeling ill, so have tried to take it easy today, though I have a telephone tutorial at 9.30am tomorrow and I haven't opened the text book yet. Argh...

2. Being given an award brightened my day!

3. I've received some wonderful and supportive comments following my posting about son 1. Hugs to all of you.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The impact of bullying

The subject of bullying seems to come up everywhere at the moment. Or maybe it is just that I notice it more because of son 1's experiences and the profoundly life-destroying effects they have had.

Yesterday, watching The X Factor, I was moved to see how Sarah of Same Difference has been affected by her bullying. When they showed the film clip before their second song, for a fleeting moment I thought that it was just a cynical vote-catching strategy. But her tears at the end couldn't have been more real.

I decided right then to write about the long-term effects of bullying on here today, but the lovely and successful writer Caroline Smailes has beaten me to it, and writes far more eloquently than I do. So can I just recommend that you read her post here, instead.

Three notable things:

1. Son 2 playing on his music therapist's sympathy for his cough yesterday, then twisting her around his little finger. Hilarious!

2. I've caught the cough virus. That is not so hilarious.

3. Getting a few more ideas for Christmas presents in town yesterday, but retiring to Starbucks for coffee rather than joining the queues. I will go back in the week when it is hopefully a little quieter.

Friday, December 07, 2007


Son 2 got me up at 5.30am. It wasn't entirely his fault - the wind was banging the wheelie bin lids outside and his cough was making him wheezy. I've actually had to give him his asthma inhaler for the first time in about three years. I got it out, only to find it had expired at the end of last month. Tough. I'm sure a few days over won't hurt!

Anyway, I have quite naturally been feeling tired and grumpy. Also introspective...a passing comment made me start thinking about how restricted our lives are and how it is so difficult to explain this to people you don't know well. I'm sure people often must think we are boring or unfriendly, just because we can't take part in social activities which others take for granted.

On the other hand, if you start to explain you are likely to embarrass the other person or, worse still, evoke pity. That for me is the most dreaded, it really upsets me. So I keep quiet and keep my true personality hidden, except with people I know very well and I have become good at disguising how upsetting the social exclusion can be.

Three notable things:

1. A few more Christmas presents have been ordered.

2. The big weekly Tesco shop has been done.

3. I'm still going to try to do my 300 words on the novel tonight. I had no inspiration at all this afternoon. Too tired!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

One to watch out for...

This book may be of particular interest to any of you who are taking or considering a university course in creative writing, especially with The Open University. It will also appeal to those who are interested in emerging writing talent.

First Class: Early Works of the Nearly Famous - Orchid Station, an anthology containing work by a group of students from the first presentation of the Open University's A215 Creative Writing course, has just been published.

This isn't a review, because I haven't seen the book yet, but the lovely editor, Graeme K. Talboys, informs us that copies are winging their way to Amazon right now. What I can tell you is that I have previously read work by most, if not all, of the contributors and can vouch for their collective talent. There are also many more great writers where these came from and support for this book may pave the way for future such ventures, giving even more new writers a voice.

The anthology contains work by Carole Crickmore, Susan Felix, Julie Anne Gilligan, Dragana Hartley, Leanne Iliffe, Anne Kennedy, Viki Lane, Lynne McAllister, Elaine Nadjm, Kim O’Brien, Jude Parsons, Alison Roughsedge, Andrea J Smith, Graeme K Talboys, and Olga Wojtas.

You may already be familiar with some of these names if you have picked up my previous links to two websites showcasing work from A215 students, namely Both Sides of the Story and WikidWords (which also contains two of my own poems).

Best of all, half the proceeds of this anthology are going to charity, with the rest covering production costs.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Three notable things:

1. Son 2 has a nasty cough. Urgh.

2. It has been very interesting reading contributors' responses to questions on how the Your Messages collaborative project has influenced their writing processes. I'm afraid my reply, which was written quickly, is rather bland, but I cannot underestimate the boost that participating has given my creativity and writing.

3. The missing canoeist and the Panama link...stranger than fiction?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My lucky day

Last week I ordered a leather jacket from a well known shopping channel ( spending my Christmas money in advance!). I wanted it in black but that colour was sold out in my size, so I ordered a green one instead. Today it arrived...right size, bag marked green and actual jacket is black! Obviously a stock control problem somewhere, but hey, I got the colour I wanted. Even better, Hubby actually said it looked good so there is no way it is going back!

I was out this morning but meant to write this afternoon. Somehow though I got embroiled in watching a dispute unfold on a forum I frequent, so I still have my 300 words for the day to write...

Three notable things:

1. Fay Weldon on the Spice Girls.

2. Meeting friends at the support group coffee morning.

3. Wasting the afternoon away online...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas is coming...

I thought I had it all under control a few weeks ago, but I think I must have got complacent. I haven't even bought any cards yet...

So, mad ordering on Amazon has been taking place over the last few days as well as the first of no doubt many trips to town for small bits and pieces. Luckily we don't have huge families to buy for and as the kids get older we have gradually been making Christmas more low key, but still...

Three notable things:

1. The Spice Girls reunion. Why???

2. I've posted off payment for my next OU course and ordered the set texts, to prove I mean business.

3. Son 2 has just posted a teaspoon into the toaster. I've managed to get it out, with difficulty, and have locked the toaster away before he burns the house down...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Farewell 'Your Messages'

November has finished and the Your Messages blog project is sadly over.

It has been both challenging and inspirational, so I managed to post my 300 word piece for every single day of the month. To be honest it was not too hard to write exactly 300 words each day, given that we had a prompt to start from and writing to length is actually one of my strengths. My approach to the task was simple. I read Lynne and Sarah's prompt piece, wrote my own response and only after I had posted it did I read what others had written.

Looking back on what I have written I can see that some are better than others, but that is only to be expected. What is important is that I am not ashamed of any of them, no matter how quickly and roughly they had to be written and I think that my true writing 'voice' shines through. It was actually all a lot easier than I had expected, though I did find myself running out of steam a little in the last week when I was trying to write my OU assignments as well.

I had a reason for doing this project every day. I wanted to prove to myself that I am capable of writing at least 300 words everyday, no matter what else is going on. That is something I can now take back to my novel and as a start I have written over 300 more words of it this morning. 300 words or more a day is 9000-10,000 a month, my first draft could be complete in 7-8 months if I can stick at it.

Now there's a thought...

Three notable things:

1. Finishing Your Messages yesterday. I will really miss it.

2. Hubby's motor insurance certificate is lost somewhere in the post which means he hasn't been able to get his new tax disc and will have to borrow my car next week.

3. X Factor is on again tonight. My money is still on Rhydian, if they can give him good enough songs. His versions of 'You Raise Me Up' and 'Somewhere' have been technically superb. Though I'm not sure if I would actually buy a whole album of his music, as I don't really listen to much classical crossover.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Write, write, write

Today I have tarted up my Start Writing Plays assignment (to send tomorrow) and written an assignment for the other course I am doing. Written it from scratch and already sent it via the automated submissions system!

Then this evening I have written my 300 word flash for Your Messages. Last day tomorrow and I will have posted for the whole 30 days. I feel almost as proud as if I had completed NaNoWriMo!

Image by

Three notable things:

1. Heat Magazine have published an apology on their website for their sticker faux pas. Too little, too late, in my opinion.

2. The keyboard on my laptop is complaining about being used too much this week. The 'N' key refuses to work half the time, which makes for a lot of editing...

3. The bus which takes son 2 to school has had to have both clutch and starter motor repaired in the last week. Doesn't fill me with much confidence really...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sick joke

This morning I had to pop out to the supermarket and, as usual, son 1 asked me to pick up a copy of Heat magazine for him. I've just had a quick look through it myself and came across the free stickers being given away inside. Amongst them is a picture of the oldest child of Katie Price (aka Jordan), along with the words Harvey wants to eat me.

For those who don't know of Katie Price, or her son Harvey, 5, he has considerable physical and developmental disabilities, including being blind and on the autistic spectrum. He also has a medical condition which causes a growth disorder, making him very big for his age and no doubt very difficult to care for.

Now there are a lot of things about Katie Price that I'm not so keen on, but I have to admit that I have always admired her for the way she has been so up front about Harvey's issues and the fact that, despite their celebrity status, she and her new husband Peter Andre do care well for him at home (albeit with some help, I'm sure, but they do have two other very small children). It can't be easy for them.

So I have to say I found this sticker to be the lowest of the low. Harvey is a very disabled child whose size is the result of a medical problem, not over-eating. As a parent I feel for Katie and Peter, because son 1 has been on medication which has also made him put on a lot of weight. A known side effect of a medicine which helped to save his life. How would I feel if he were to be lampooned in this way?

Heat have really sunk to the depths this time. I'm glad to say I'm not the only blogger who thinks India Knight here and Caitlin Moran here for a start. You can also see the sticker on their posts, I'm not going to give Heat any more publicity by putting it on here.

Three notable things:

1. Son 1 had his medication reviewed yesterday and has been taken off one of them (see above).

2. I have written my Three Little Pigs play (yes really!) for my OU Start Writing Plays course. Phew. I'll leave it for a couple of days and take another look later in the week.

3. We keep getting post delivered here which was intended for a family in a similarly named road and with a surname not unlike ours ( well the first two letters are the same...) I wonder how much of our post they are getting?

Sunday, November 25, 2007


When I first started this blog I wasn't sure how often to post or how to find an audience. I would read other blogs out there and wonder how they had built up their readership. So, since I am feeling totally uninspired today, here are my blogging tips, for what they are worth.

Try to post regularly. It doesn't need to be every day but I aim for at least four times a week if possible.

Have a theme to your blog. You don't have to stick to it all the time of course, but it will help to find the right audience.

Try to regularly put pictures and links on your blog to add extra interest. Don't forget the sidebar too...explore available gadgets.

A free hit counter wil give you all sorts of interesting visitor statistics. I have two, though they aren't consistent with each other!

Just remember that if your blog is open for anyone to read, you need to exercise some caution in what you write. Think before posting.

Be aware of copyright issues and what is deemed to be web publication, if you are posting your actual creative writing on your blog.

Comment often on other blogs you find interesting. Look at who else is commenting there and click through to their blogs if there is a link, as they may well do the same to yours.

Build up a blogroll of your favourite reads and you might even get reciprocal links.

By joining groups of other bloggers, such as Novel Racers, you will find a ready made audience.

If you are happy for your blog to be very public, put the URL on your emails, Facebook or MySpace pages, forum postings etc and join a blog directory.

Three notable things:

1. Beverley is out of the X Factor. A shame, as she seemed a lovely lady. At least they seem to have taken note of what we all said last week!

2. I've tackled some of the towering ironing pile this afternoon. It was a good excuse not to work on my OU assignments...

3. We are into the last week of the Your Messages blog project. I'm still on target to post a piece of writing every day of the month. Today's piece is here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Thanks to Tia for finding this one. On top of everything else going on here, I've been trying to write an Open University assignment today and the cartoon says it all!

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Three notable things:

1. Yesterday's football disaster.

2. Buying 16 videos for son 2 for £4 in a charity shop this morning. How long will it be before he has destroyed them all?

3. Finally registering for that next Open University course as the Tesco vouchers arrived. £320 off the course!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Well, it is very reassuring to learn that personal details of myself and my children and almost certainly also of my bank account have been 'lost' by the government....along with 25 million others.

I've only very recently started using internet banking, but at least having that facility will enable me to obsessively check my current account every day for unexplained withdrawals.

Ho hum.

Three notable things:

1. I saw the family counsellor for the last time today. She thinks we are doing a great job with son 1 and not overprotecting him, which would be a natural response but detrimental to his recovery.

2. I have finally decided to sign up for another Open University course to start in January and have sent off for my Tesco Clubcard deal vouchers today which will help considerably with the cost!

3. You have probably already heard about this elsewhere...I'm a bit slow here...anyway, the Freerice website is not only fun but by taking part you donate to charity. Go along and test your wordpower!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A grand day out...

(with apologies to Aardman Animations and Olga who have already used this title...)

So yesterday was the special outing and what fun it was! Fifteen writers (including two very brave men), who have previously taken the Open University A215 Creative Writing course, hit London's West End and a certain restaurant on The Strand will probably take a long while to recover...

So, the plan was to meet on the steps of the National Gallery at 11.30am. I had the great idea of trying to get down there by 10am when the gallery opens, in order to spend some time looking at the Impressionist paintings, which I love. Needless to say at 10am I was only just leaving the house. I actually got to Trafalgar Square at 11am and getting my priorities right I visited the loo and the gallery shop before looking at a temporary exhibition of Renaissance German stained glass (exhibited in many cases alonside the artwork it was based on.) Before you start yawning, I should just remind you that I have a degree in German and have studied the art and literature of the period, so it was interesting for me!

Anyway, we then all started to congregate on the steps. As most people had never met outside of cyberspace it was a constant round of hugs and introductions. Amazingly some people had travelled from as far as Scotland, Northern Ireland, Liverpool, Dorset and Wiltshire to be there as well as many of the usual suspects from the South East.

Once we had all arrived there was a spare half hour before the restaurant was ready for us, so we retreated to the bar of a nearby hotel. We then spent the rest of the afternoon over a very long lunch in a theatrical restaurant, just chatting nonstop.

Food, wine, chocolate and great company, what more could you ask?

On the way home I diverted very slightly via Paddington station to see one of the visitors onto her train and I couldn't help going into the little Paperchase shop and buying myself a beautiful new notebook for writing. I had obviously been inspired after being in the company of so many talented writers, many of whom, like me have work on WikidWords!

It was a great day out and I hope we can all do it again. Soon.

Three notable things:

1. I had a phone tutorial at 9.30am today so was frantically trying to get up to date after son 2 went off to school.

2. I have written a life writing piece on autism on the Your Messages blog today. Read it here and check out any previous days you might have missed!.

3. This morning son 1 and I went to Waitrose because he has developed a craving for fish fingers and we had run out...

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Leafing through the catalogue in an Argos shop this morning, my attention was drawn to the young man standing alongside me. He was holding a most angelic looking little daughter, aged about two.

He was chatting about what they could buy for family Christmas presents. As he finished writing down the numbers of items to purchase, he turned to her.

'And what would you like?' he asked.

'Spaghetti,' she replied with a toss of her blonde curls.

Three notable things:

1. As I write I am watching the X Factor. I think that this year they may be concentrating too much on the staging and dancing, to the detriment of the vocals and song choices.

2. I received a lovely floral arrangement yesterday...I thought I might have a secret admirer but no such luck. Son 2 has already shredded some of the flowers!

3. I am looking forward to a very special outing tomorrow...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Coffee break

I met a friend for coffee in Starbucks today. An old friend, whose children used to be in school with mine. A friend who I haven't seen for two or three years. We met there at 10.45 and finally left at 2.30 because we had so much to talk about.

Now if I think that we have a difficult few years, then this friend has had far worse. In fact, if I was to write the story of what she has experienced in a novel, it would probably be considered too far-fetched to be true. Sadly, it has been her reality.

But she is bouncing back. She is a strong, beautiful and intelligent woman who has been put through hell but is reinventing herself.

I admire her so much.

Three notable things:

1. Hubby has been off work sick for two days, but is going back tomorrow.

2. Son 2 got very upset about Indian dancing at school yesterday.

3. I've posted new pieces on the Your Messages blog. Check out each day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Shopping on my mind

I'm starting to think about the dreaded Christmas shopping and am scouring the net for goodies.

I hope that a book will shortly be arriving from Susan Hill which will be my mother sorted (it's OK, she won't read this!)

I also have my eye on this book as a possibility for my father. He is not a great reader but is a keen gardener.

Son 1 seems to mainly want money. Son 2 is always a problem as there are so few things he enjoys, but a selection of videos/DVDs/CDs and some chocolate usually hits the mark.

Hubby will probably have his own ideas and as for me, I have ordered the two volumes of the Paris Review Interviews and I have my eye on a classic Penguin books mug, preferably the Virginia Woolf Room of One's Own mug which would match my purple themed writing accessories perfectly. I'll have to start dropping hints about that...

Three notable things:

1. A great coffee and catch up session with two friends yesterday...

2. Did I tell you I have started to knit a cardigan?

3. Doing the flash fiction on the Your Messages blog is increasing the hits to my own blog... and Sarah Salway has left a message here!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Never forget

Today is the day for wearing a poppy and remembering those who have lost their lives fighting for our country.

My paternal grandfather fought in World War One. He must have been quite young but I believe he met my grandmother through a pen pal scheme for soldiers. They finally married and had children relatively late in life. I never knew that grandfather, he died when my father was still a teenager.

My maternal grandfather was of the age group which could have been enlisted into the Second World War. As a bank manager, however, he was exempt from being called up, though he did work for the Home Guard in true Dad's Army fashion. I think he may have been an air raid warden. He later experienced some mental health problems during his life.

My parents have never talked much about the experiences which they, as children, had during the war or of how it affected their parents. I know that my father and his brother watched the Blitz over Exeter and that his family hosted young evacuees from London. Of my mother's experiences in the Midlands I know relatively little, though she is younger and perhaps remembers less. Or was it all just too traumatic for them to process and pass down? Are those memories perhaps still compartmentalised and locked away?

We, and our children, have of course known this country to be at war, but never anywhere near home territory. Even seeing the horrors that we do on television cannot begin to compare with what my parents might have seen and experienced and they were lucky enough not to lose a close relative. Those families who have lost loved ones, in any conflict, deserve our respect and remembrance as, of course, do all the survivors.

We must never forget.

Three notable things:

1. I'm quite pleased with my response piece on Your Messages today.

2. The X Factor is hotting up. Wasn't Rhydian class last night? Watch it here.

3. I've just manged to complete a brief piece for an OU tutorial...last minute stuff but at least I did it!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Virago books

I expect most female readers ( and many male) will at some time have read a book published by the Virago Press.

I was hopping around some blogs today and came across this picture, which suddenly made me wonder what current books by women will survive to be reissued decades hence in the way that Virago has traditionally resurrected little-known female writers? Of course Virago does also publish contemporary work by talented writers such as Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, but there must be many more current female authors who will deserve to be re-read in the future, long after their books might normally have gone out of print.

I have my personal favourites, of course, but I'd love to hear yours.

Three notable things:

1. I'm free of the voluntary work!

2. As a leaving/thank you gift I received gift cards for Waterstone's and Marks & Spencer. I can feel some retail therapy coming on...

3. I'm still posting a piece of flash prose here every day. Wonder how long I can keep that up?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Oh so quiet...

It seems really quiet in the blogosphere at the moment, or at least on the blogs I regularly visit. Perhaps everyone is up to their necks in NaNoWriMo or just gone into autumn hibernation. Which, to be honest, I feel like doing myself. I am currently just keeping myself going with the challenge of my flash fiction pieces.

Three notable things:

1. Arranging to meet up next week with a friend who I haven't seen for a few years. We both have lots to catch up on.

2. Buying a fab cardigan/jacket on eBay which will be perfect worn with black trousers and top for the meeting I have to attend tomorrow evening. It is current season Per Una, but come via the factory shop, therefore I paid only a little more than half the retail price. I can't see anything wrong with it, other than the labels cut out, as they do. A bargain.

3. Getting all my paperwork sorted for this meeting tomorrow, which is when I am resigning as treasurer of the voluntary group. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

And breathe...

On son 2's first day back at school after a holiday I always feel totally washed out. I have learnt to reserve that day for myself, to just allow a little me-time.

So, today was the day. I had a phone tutorial for one of my OU courses at 9.30am. That was not as arduous as it sounds, because the course has only just started so really it was just a quick chat, to find out if I had everything and how I was going to approach the course. No problems.

Later son 1 and I wandered up to the local shops to make a few purchases, collect his prescription and post a letter. After lunch I wrote another flash fiction piece for today's response at Your Messages and then soaked in a hot bath. I was much more relaxed by the time son 2 arrived home.

Three notable things:

1. Last night I finished knitting a scarf which is to be an Xmas present for a friend.

2. The cable TV has been off nearly all day but Virgin Media are aware of the problem. So that's all right then. No rush guys.

3. The Your Messages project is making me enjoy my writing again. I never expected to have written a piece every day so far, but I'm loving it!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thoughts on the novel

I've written two more pieces of flash fiction for the Messages blog this weekend, which you can read here and here.

I'm treating this as a freewriting exercise, a way of loosening up my writing. It seems to be working, as so far the prompts have given rise to 300 words of writing very easily. This made me think. Why am I finding this so much easier than many of the other writing exercises I have undertaken and why are these short pieces so much easier to write than my novel?

Firstly I suppose it is the quality of the prompts, which are themselves 300 words of prose by accomplished writers. It would be very hard not to get some sort of ideas from what you read. The quality and variety of the responses the blog is receiving is testament to that.

Secondly, I think my sparse writing style is actually more suited to short fiction. I like to play around with the words and structure, making every word count. I am not the sort of writer who produces pages of flowery prose. This leaves me with a dilemma. Should I really be writing a novel at all or should I stick to short stories? But as we all know, the market for short stories is very limited.

Or should I be structuring my novel differently, breaking it down into smaller passages of prose which I would feel more comfortable writing? As it is, in the first section of the novel, which does not have a linear timeline, the chapters are tending to be shorter than I expected. But I don't want to end up with a novel which is not considered to be commercial.

Decisions, decisions...

Three notable things:

1. I am looking forward to hopefully meeting up soon with some other writers I have only 'met' online.

2. I found a nice Gap fleece hoodie for son 2 for £1.99 in a charity shop yesterday.

3. Son 1 has been offered the chance to do some ad hoc work experience at a charity and is actually keen to do it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Flash fiction

So, I really haven't done much this week. But I have managed to do two pieces of 300 word flash fiction for the Your Messages project blog, which you can read by scrolling down the comments on the blogs for 1st and 2nd November.

Three notable things:

1. It is the weekend tomorrow. Hooray!

2. A new Starbucks is to open in a nearby 'suburban village' area very soon. I think it might just be a perfect place to write when I need a change.

3. I'm just starting to read some of Angela Carter's short stories for the first time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Hubby took the day off work and took over much of the childcare so I could go out. I went to the support group coffee morning to catch up with friends, followed by a dash around Tesco to stock up on enough to keep the kids fed until the weekend!

The postman brought a mixed bundle of goodies...some knitting wool and patterns from eBay and an invoice for my charity work which was in a burnt envelope. Presumably it was the victim of a postbox fire and it was amazing that it found its way to me, even if it was a little scorched!

Three notable things:

1. Some time ago I read about journalist Dina Rabinovitch's book Take Off Your Party Dress on Dovegreyreader's blog. Earlier this month I found a copy in a charity shop and bought it. I put it to one side, as it is about the author's experiences with breast cancer and since it is just three years, almost to the day, since I lost one of my best friends to the disease, the subject is still quite hard for me. Yesterday, on reading that Dina had died, I finally picked up the book. It is well worth a read, she was a brave lady.

2. There is a touching piece by Libby Purves in The Times today.It is about her son Nicholas Heiney, who committed suicide in his early twenties but left behind some remarkable writing, which is now to be published. Read this and contemplate the fate of sensitive young men in today's society. It rings all too many alarm bells for me.

3. But then in the main section of the paper I read this line in the contents column on page 2:
Libby Purves introduces the writings of her son, to be published soon, who committed suicide at 23
Is it just me, or is that very dodgy grammar and punctuation?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Words in the chaos

Son 2 was noisy and active yesterday. But during a short period of relative calm, I actually managed to write a little more of the novel.

Only 300 words or so, but I was actually also researching at the same time. I am currently writing a scene set in Hong Kong before it was handed back to the Chinese. We did visit the colony many years ago, but some of my memories are hazy, so I keep having to stop to look up a name or some other detail. Did you know, for example, that you can create a Chinese name for a character through this name generator?

Three notable things:

1. Why was Dermot O'Leary so rude to Celine Dion on Saturday's X Factor?

2. Son 2 hates this advert so much that he turns off the TV every time it comes on...

3. The cold is making feel yucky today, so I'm not even going to try to write.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A room of my own

Once upon a time we had a spare bedroom. Well actually we still do, but over the last few years, while things have been so difficult at home, it has gradually turned into a tip. After all, nobody ever comes to stay with us nowadays. They don't when you live with autism.

Now, if I am honest, much of the stuff littering the spare bedroom belongs to boxes of craft materials, books and endless paperwork to be sorted. Then there are the plastic sacks of hand-me-down clothes both from son 1 and a friend's child, which need to be sorted to identify items for son 2 and the remainder sent off to the charity shop. There are a couple of pieces of unused and/or broken furniture which need to be found a more suitable home or sent to the tip. But in my recent state of mind all this has seemed a task too far. I have preferred to bury my head in the sand (or a book!)

Just two years ago this room also contained a small desk which I was able to use when working. Son 1 has now stolen that desk for his own bedroom and I am relegated to working and writing on the dining table or coffee table. I was recently talking to a counsellor and she suggested that I needed a haven I could escape to. Son 1 is at home most of the time and I no longer have that precious bit of space when both boys were at school. So why not tidy up the spare bedroom again?

It will be quite a big task and I can't even start until son 2 is back at school next week, but I am going to do it. I have been looking in the Argos catalogue for a compact desk and I want to get an ergonomic chair to help my bad back. I will also ensure that there is plenty of room on the floor for my yoga mat so that I can do stretches whenever I need to. I will be able to put on my own music without being interrupted by son 1 wanting to watch TV.

It sounds good. I want my writing room up and running by the New Year.

Three notable things:

1. I have now caught the cold virus from the boys...

2. Thank goodness for the CBeebies website. It keeps son 2 occupied for hours.

3. The National Autistic Society launches its new awareness campaign today. Why not take a look at Think Differently about Autism. It might surprise you.

Image by

Friday, October 26, 2007

Music to match your mood

I like to listen to music while I am writing or studying. I always have done, ever since I was at school. Sometimes I make playlists from my music files, sometimes I listen to digital or online radio stations.

A while ago I followed a link from a blog and landed on the Musicovery website (sorry I can't remember for sure where I found the link, but I think it may have been Sarah Salway's blog?)

Anyway, I love this music site. You enter your mood on the track generator, tell it which genre(s) you want to listen to and sit back. The available tracks are very eclectic and I have found myself listening to all sorts of music with which I am unfamiliar. Great fun and free, unless you really want the superior sound quality version.

Three notable things:

1. Both boys have a virus.

2. I have been to Tesco. The fridge is full and we have enough food to keep two hungry teenage boys fed until, um, Monday?

3. It is too noisy and chaotic here at the moment to even consider writing. Roll on the end of half term. Only 10 days to go...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Celebrities and autism

If you have been reading this blog for a while you may have realised that I am not too impressed with the current celebrity culture. There are just far too many magazines and TV programmes focussed on how celebrities live and how they look. It is all so shallow and really does not provide proper role models.

But there are some areas in which celebrities can perhaps make a diffference. They can use their high public profile to raise awareness of a cause or charity. For obvious reasons I am always interested when a celebrity 'comes out' as having a child with a disability or serious illness, because I think this can actually help public awareness of these conditions.

In the last week alone I have read of Colin Farrell's son having Angelman Syndrome and Emma Noble's son (the grandchild of former British Prime Minister Sir John Major), having autism. On the other side of the Atlantic singer Toni Braxton and model/actress Jenny McCarthy have gone public about their children with ASD.

Having a child with a disability is never easy, whoever you are. Far too many families are in denial or try to hide their problems and meeting other families in the same situation can be a turning point. Perhaps if they also see celebrities having to cope with the same issues, it will make them feel better.

But, and this is a big but, there can also be dangers in celebrity publicity. Jenny McCarthy has written a book about how she has helped 'heal' her son using dietary and alternative approaches. Now I personally know some children with autism for whom this sort of approach has helped, but I know even more for whom it has made no difference. I haven't read the book ( and don't intend to), so I can't comment on how McCarthy has approached the subject, however I do think that a celebrity endorsing any specific approach is fraught with potential danger, especially when wide publicity is also obtained for the book by appearing on Oprah.

The bottom line is, autism can't be 'cured'. I just hope that parents reading this book won't feel they have failed if the methods used by a celebrity don't work for their children. After all, many celebrities have far greater resources available in terms of time and money than the average family.

Three notable things:

1. Fancy an alternative to NaNoWriMo? Why not try this project from the writer Sarah Salway and her collaborator Lynne Rees. I would be seriously tempted if I had more time.

2. I have been stocking up on stationery for my writing and studying. I think I must be getting a bit OCD because everything to do with my novel...file, notebook etc...all has to be purple and is to be stored in my purple bag (Kipling of course...)!

3. So J. K. Rowling has outed Dumbledore as being gay. Doesn't she realise that 'gay' is currently one of the most widely used playground insults? I wonder how this news will sit with her young audience.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Literature map

How do you choose your next book to read? Do you rely on personal recommendation from friends? Or take notice of reviews on a book blog such as dovegreyreader, which is my personal favourite. Do you browse on Amazon, looking for authors you are familiar with? Do you read the recommendations and comments there?

Or do you go into a bookshop, where you are perhaps more likely to be swayed by a cover design, or the blurb on the back cover?

For me there are certain authors whose books I would always buy, simply because I like their style and themes. But how do you start to find others who match up to them?

That is perhaps where Literature Map could come in handy. Put in the name of a favourite author and it will suggest authors whom other readers have also liked. I'm not quite sure how it works, though I think it is linked to so presumably based on their sales and browsing data somehow.

For example, I have just entered Maggie O'Farrell. The database has thrown up, amongst others, Jon McGregor, Anita Shreve, Jane Austen, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan, Anne Tyler and Kate Atkinson, all of whom I also enjoy. If you enter an American author, say Anne Tyler, you get even more positive results...Carol Shields, Jodi Picoult, Margaret Atwood, Sue Miller, Fay Weldon, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, all of whom also represent the sort of fiction I read. So perhaps I should also start to explore some of the other suggestions...

This is a wonderful displacement activity and unlike books in a similar vein, should remain contemporary.

Three notable things:

1. After Anne Enright, another literary controversy....

2. Author Emma Darwin's new blog seems interesting.

3. It is half term this week, but as usual son 2 has a different holiday. His half term will start on Thursday and he has all of next week off too, but there won't be any playschemes, as everyone else will have gone back to school. One of the annoying idiosyncrasies of his being in an independent special school...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Both sides of the story

Two talented students of the Open University writing courses, Duncan Spencer and Andrea Smith have just set up a new website, Both Sides of the Story, to showcase their fiction writing.

Duncan and Andrea have been longtime collaborators, since meeting on one of the OU online courses, and challenge each other to write a story on a specific theme every other week. Their website shows the impressive results. It is well worth a look.

Three notable things:

1. 'Always the bridesmaid and never the bride' could have been the motto of British sport this weekend. But we should all be proud of the rugby team and of Lewis Hamilton.

2. DHL delivered my OU materials today for the Open to Change openings course. I hope it will be not only an easy 10 points towards a qualification, but also thought provoking, as I feel I need to make some changes in my life if I am going to make space and time for my writing and studying. What's more, the course materials came with their own little OU book bag. How cool!

3. Has Sharon Osbourne really left the X factor??

Friday, October 19, 2007

Where are my books?

DHL tried to deliver a package today while I was out at the supermarket. Unfortunately Son 1 didn't hear the doorbell (or perhaps it didn't even ring, it can be temperamental) but he did later find the card that was left in the porch.

This card is particularly uninformative. The delivery driver did not fill it in properly, so I had no idea whether the package had been left with a neighbour or taken away. The parcel number was not entered in the box, so when I rang DHL's automated line I couldn't enter the right information. The only thing I had was a long number by the words 'tour no:' and the reference code for the local depot. I tried entering this long number as the parcel number. The phone said it would transfer me to the depot but I held on for ages and no one answered.

I tried to think what I am expecting to receive and decided perhaps this was an Amazon delivery which I know to be en route. I wondered what to do next. I then got distracted by other things so did nothing more.

A little later I remembered that I was trying to locate the whereabouts of my goodies and tried the whole procedure with the automated line again. This time the phone was eventually answered by a human who took my address. I gave her the little info I had and as I read out the long number on the card it suddenly struck me that just maybe this was a mobile phone number. But hey, I was actually through to DHL, it was their problem now and the lady promised to look into it.

Later this afternoon I logged into my Open University homepage and clicked on materials despatch for my second new course. The books were on their way to me and there was a link to DHL to track the package. I followed it through and yes, that was the package they had tried to deliver. I clicked another link and sent a message.

Needless to say the lady never phoned back and so far I have had no response to the web message...

Three notable things:

1. Son 1 had his first minor brush with the law yesterday evening for a cycling offence...

2. A long evening in front of the TV beckons tomorrow. The X Factor followed by the rugby final!

3. I found my cheque book which I had mislaid!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


So, they were all wrong. In the end Anne Enright won the Man Booker prize for The Gathering, which is, I understand, quite a dark and disturbing read.

Two days later, she is already embroiled in controversy over a piece published in the London Review of Books. It is about the McCann family, whose daughter Madeleine disappeared in Portugal in May.

Having just read the piece I feel uncomfortable. She is only expressing her opinions, but I think most of us have some sort of view on what happened that night. Surely though it is better to keep those thoughts to yourself rather than make them so pointed and public?

Three notable things:

1. I'm almost up and running on the OU Start Writing Plays course...

2. Went into town with son 1 this morning so he could spend some of his birthday money.

3.Very soon we are going to have some new neighbours across the road. Hope they will be nice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Now book fever

Or should that be Man Booker fever? As everyone waits for the result tonight, The BBC website has summaries of each of the shortlisted novels as well as an interesting article on the factors which can influence book sales.

Dovegreyreader is tipping 'Darkmans', as does Eve's Alexandria, while the bookies have two different frontrunners. For the record, I haven't read any of them, so I have no opinion at all!

Three notable things:

1. My course materials for the OU Start Writing Plays course arrived today!

2. I have just signed up for another short course, to run concurrently with it, called Open to Change. You can read what you like into that.

3. Ageism seems to be alive and well in British politics...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rugby fever

A few weeks ago I wrote a fleeting mention of the Rugby World Cup into my novel. Not the tournament that is currently ongoing, but the one that England won, four years ago. It was an attempt to anchor the time frame of my novel, which spans many years, by referencing real life events.

On Saturday we sat in front of the TV and watched as England reached the final again, probably against most people's expectations. I have to admit that I don't know much about rugby, I am hazy on the scoring and rules, but it is quite fun to watch. We'll be cheering them on in the final too, especially as South Africa are a seriously good team.

This time I have an added interest because the captain of the England team, Phil Vickery (that's not Phil Vickery the cute chef who is married to Fern Britton, by the way!), grew up in the same part of the world as me and my mother knew one of his relatives. In fact he went to my old school. Just out of interest I googled him and found that he was BORN just two years before I left school.

How old did that make me feel?

Three notable things:

1. England's amazing progress in the rugby.

2. Whilst we are on the subject of rugby and schools, Hubby used to attend a school named after William Webb Ellis who invented the game and lends his name to the World Cup trophy.

3. Why do I seem to have done little except laundry today?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Meant to be...

Some of you already know that I am signed up for the Open University level one 'Start Writing Plays' course which starts at the end of this month. I know nothing about writing scripts, but am doing this 12 week introduction as preparation for the level three Creative Writing course due to start next year and hopefully to hone skills that will transfer into my fiction writing.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon I was browsing around the charity shops in town as usual. I came up with a haul of goodies...two balls of pretty wool, a new novel by Susan Isaacs, an author I used to read years ago, and three videos for son 2. In the third and final shop I cast an eye over the shelves of books. This particular shop often has a classy selection, but charges more than the others... usually £2.50 for a paperback novel, which I will only pay for something special.

On the non-fiction shelves I spotted something exceptional. A row of five books on plays and scriptwriting, all in 'as new' condition. I could not believe my luck. I came away with three of them, Writing the Romantic Comedy by Billy Mernit, Writing Dialogue for Scripts by Rib Davis and Playwriting - A Practical Guide by Noel Greig. At £2 each.

I like to think those books were just waiting for me...

Three notable things:

1. My charity shop purchases.

2. Teaching son 1 how to use an ATM now he has his bank account.

3. Son 1's friends arriving uninvited on Friday evening to belatedly celebrate his birthday, bringing with them a great present (more weights for the home gym) and even a birthday cake made by one of their mums.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Loss of childhood

So our 7-11 year olds are stressed and depressed by having to live in a violent, materialistic and celebrity-obsessed society, where they don't even feel safe to walk the streets. Meanwhile, worried middle-class parents are adding to the pressure by pushing them to private tutors, in an attempt to get them into one of the few decent schools around or make up the learning deficits of the state system.

Well, what a surprise. They didn't need to do a big research project to learn that, they could just have spoken to me and my friends. We have watched all this happening before our eyes as our own children, now in their last year of compulsory schooling, have grown up.

It is scary. Whatever we do as parents does not seem to be sufficient to prepare our kids for what lies ahead.

Three notable things:

1. I've written about 800 words over the last two days as well as having some new plot ideas.

2. We sat waiting for son 1's therapist for almost half an hour this morning because the receptionist forgot to phone up and tell her we'd arrived...

3. My copy of Mslexia finally arrived in the mail...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nobel Prize for Literature

Stop press. It has just been announced that this year's Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to Doris Lessing.

I have to admit that I don't think I have read much by her. A few short stories, I believe, and I definitely read The Good Terrorist, though I don't remember much about it.

My clearest memory of Doris Lessing's work was an attempt to read The Golden Notebook in my early twenties. I soon gave up. But I am older now, if not wiser, and with my new-found interest in mental health issues, I recently thought I should give it another try. It is sitting in my hefty to-be-read pile. Perhaps today's news will propel it closer to the top.

Three notable things:

1. I woke up at 4am today and couldn't get back to sleep. I ended up watching a Panorama documentary about the sub-prime mortgage market. Even that didn't send me back to sleep!

2. I'm having a quiet day and actually going to spend a few hours writing this afternoon, I hope.

3. Cally has just posted something fascinating on her blog. Go and take a look here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Talking therapies

You may remember that I am quite a fan of talking therapies.

So I was very heartened to read today that the government is going to make more money available to fund such therapy. Some people will still need medication and indeed it is often prescribed alongside the therapy. But I'm sure it will help many people to keep off drugs, which are currrently widely prescribed by GPs because they have few other options for people who do not have acute mental health problems. Only this morning a friend was telling me about someone who would not be considered an emergency case but would clearly benefit from some counselling or CBT. She was asking what the options were for finding help for this young adult.

Let's hope this promise is kept, because it can only be a Good Thing for 900,000 people.

Three notable things:

1. The post arrived today ( afer the Royal Mail strike)!

2. The post included a copy of Miranda July's short story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You which recently won the Frank O'Connor prize for short fiction, when one of my favourite short story writers, Alice Munro, didn't even get on the shortlist.

3. Both boys have a nasty cold. I am hoping not to catch it!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What drives you to write?

The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival is, not unsurprisingly, featuring heavily in The Times newspaper this week.

After this article on plotting by crime writer Andrew Taylor, todays edition features various authors talking about what drives them to write.

Keep an eye on the website for more articles and podcasts.

Three notable things:

1. A lovely two hour coffee break in Starbucks today with a friend who also has an autistic teenage son.

2. Sorting out some personal financial planning at the bank before the coffee break.

3. Buying myself a pretty cardigan on a very rainy day!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Another birthday

Hot on the heels of the blog birthday on Saturday comes son 1's birthday today. My baby is 16. Which makes certain things legal...but I'd prefer not to think about that!

He couldn't make up his mind what he wanted for his main present, so we gave him money and today he and I went to the bank to open his first current account, with a standing order from my account to his for his allowance each week. We are trying to teach him some financial responsibility in the hope that he actually will be ready to fly the nest one day...

Three notable things:

1. Son 1's birthday. It has made me feel very old.

2. Thinking about the dedicated neo-natal unit staff who saved his life 16 years ago. My poem about the experience is here.

3. The M&S chocolate Doctor Who Dalek cake we will all be eating this evening to celebrate.

Friday, October 05, 2007

One year ago...

...or rather one year ago tomorrow, I started this blog.

It was actually my second attempt at blogging following a rather half-hearted effort during my OU A215 course, which ground to a halt when we hit a family crisis.

When I started I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted this blog to be. A record of my writing progress certainly, but also a place to talk about other things which catch my eye or affect my life, both good and bad. After all, there is more to a writer than just writing. It is not a showcase for my more polished writing, some of which can be found elsewhere, but a space for spontaneous communication.

I didn't know what to expect from the blog. At first I wondered if anyone would ever read it, but somehow I have found an audience. Along the way the way I have 'met' some lovely people and have had visits from readers all over the world. I'm loving it all, even if blogging is time-consuming and a major distraction from my novel writing!

I'm looking forward to the second year...

Three notable things:

1. The blog birthday tomorrow.

2. All the wonderful blogs I have discovered through having my own. Each and every one in my blogroll and listed at Novel Racers is well worth a visit!

3. After a lot of thought I would like to pass on the Rockin' Blogger award to Lane, Viki and Jen. It was so hard to choose because all the blogs I read deserve it...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Another award

Just popping in quickly to say a huge thank you to Crystal Jigsaw for my latest award...Rockin' Blogger. I've spread my awards out in the sidebar now, just for variety...I like to play around with the layout of my blog.

I'm going to have a think about who to pass the Rockin' Blogger award on to. Watch this space!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Control freakery

When you live in the same house as someone who is on the autistic spectrum, you get used to living with a control freak. Everything has to be just so. Things must always be put away in the same place. Routines have to be followed for even the most basic tasks. Deviations can cause severe anxiety.

Son 2 is actually becoming more flexible as he gets older, but we are careful always to warn him in advance of changes. We have become so used to living in this way that it has become the norm.

So I was interested to do this little quiz...and relieved by the result! Why don't you have a go ?

You Are 24% Control Freak

You have achieved the perfect balance of control and letting go.
You tend to roll with whatever life brings, but you never get complacent.

Three notable things:

1. The bit about not getting complacent in life is so true. I've found in the past that if I do, everything rapidly goes pear-shaped!

2. It has not been raining quite so much today, but I'm not going to get complacent...

3. I've managed to get quite a lot of voluntary work done today, which is a weight off my mind.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Writing books and Stephen Fry

ChrisH picked an interesting topic for last Friday's coffee morning at the Novel Racers blog. What books, courses or other tools have we all found useful? Needless to say, the replies sent me off in search of my credit card and I have ordered a couple of tomes which several people had found useful. There is nothing like personal recommendation and I must admit I wasn't aware of some of the books before.

Novel Racers is, of course, a group of people writing novels. But I do like to dabble in short stories and poetry as well and on Saturday I found a cheap copy of the inimitable Stephen Fry's book 'The Ode Less Travelled' which is finally out in paperback. This was highly recommended by fellow students on the OU A215 course last year, so I am looking forward to dipping into it, especially after watching an evening of Stephen Fry TV programmes on Saturday.

On his way to work a few weeks ago, Hubby also spotted a casually dressed Stephen Fry out walking early in the morning. But as I am not writing for Heat magazine and I really don't want to be sued, I shall not say where...

(With apologies to Lane, who has also written about Stephen Fry today. That is what happens when someone famous has just celebrated a birthday! Can he really only be 50?)

Three notable things:

1. I had an appointment at the bank this morning but they had to cancel because the computer was down. Hooray!

2. As the appointment was cancelled I didn't have to go out in the rain at all.

3. I've just seen a TV ad for Galaxy. I NEED some chocolate. Now.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Autism blogs

Autism plays a large part in our lives, yet I have never wanted this blog to be mainly about it. Of course the subject does come up from time, but as you know I do guard my children's privacy in many respects and I want my readers to see that there is more to my existence than son 2's autism. Son 2 is a happy, healthy, much-loved boy who lives life to the full on his own terms. End of story.

In any case, there are many bloggers out there who write about life with autism far more eloquently than me. I recently discovered Mother of Shrek, a blog in which Casdok writes honestly and movingly about her autistic son. If you have any interest in autism then do take a look, this has quickly become one of my daily must-reads.

The novel I am writing will also have autism as one of its central themes. Definitely a case of writing about what you know, though I have to say that it is fictional, NOT my personal story! There is a sneak peek here and I have even written a little more today, until I became bogged down in one chapter...

Three notable things:

1. Ripe apples are falling from the tree in our garden.

2. I managed to write another couple of hundred words. My motivation is increasing, even though the creativity was somewhat lacking today.

3. I put the central heating on this afternoon, as son 1 and I both felt cold. I never put it on in September!