Monday, July 26, 2010

Two for joy

Shortly after drafting my last post early on Friday morning I looked out of the kitchen window and spotted two magpies sitting in the giant pear tree at the bottom of our garden.

One for sorrow, two for joy...

I decided that it was an omen that the day would bring good writing news. But the postman walked straight past our house and my inbox remained resolutely empty of anything of interest.

Until the evening when, about twelve hours after seeing the magpies, I did receive an exciting email, telling me that Even More Tonto Short Stories is finally being printed after a number of delays. That a copy will shortly be in my hands. That the official publication date is now 5th August.

This is the second anthology in which I've had work published, but that doesn't diminish the anticipation of holding the book in my hands, of seeing my words in print in the company of many very talented writers.

The magpies were right, after all.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Slowing down for the summer

This year, conscious of the fact that my blogging had previously slowed to a trickle of posts, I've been trying to post three times a week whenever possible. But even that is becoming a chore at present. The current financial and physical limitations of real life mean that I rarely have anything exciting to report. The warm weather has now triggered a recurrence of the leg spasms, thankfully not yet quite as painful as earlier in the year but very frustrating all the same and I can't get out and about as much as I'd like.

I'm in the nowhere land of waiting in respect of novel one. I'm still in the planning and research stage of novel two and, with the advent of the school holiday at the end of next week, I don't expect to start actual writing until September at the earliest. I have at least set up a folder for novel two on my computer and I have a new notebook, so that's a good start, right?

I've decided to slow down on the blog for a month or maybe two, to give myself breathing space. A summer holiday, if you like, as I shan't be going away. I will still post, but only as and when I have something worthwhile to say, not because I feel I should be blogging (those posts are always the worst, aren't they?). I am still reading your blogs, mainly through Google Reader, and apologise for not commenting more often. I've become a lazy blogger, seduced perhaps by the speed and ease of communicating on Twitter.

I may, however, be commenting less on Facebook and Twitter too. I'm still there, reading, but just feel I have little of interest to share right now. My eyes are also telling me I spend far too much time in front of the screen. I love social media, but sometimes it's necessary to step back just a little, to concentrate on real life and those around you.

Monday, July 19, 2010


There's been a lot in the media in recent times about how women become invisible in the media when they reach a certain age...some say 40, others 50. There was been quite a fuss last year about ageism at the BBC where older women seemed to be particularly targeted. Most women's magazines seem to want articles about younger women up to about 35, there are only a few magazines targeted at the members of the slightly older age group who are not quite yet ready for Saga magazine and its like.

All this made me start to think about fiction and commercial fiction in particular. After all, we always hear that there is no market for books about middle-aged women and many writers of chick lit or women's fiction seem to write about characters younger than themselves. With my first novel, I was no exception.

For a number of reasons I've actually been feeling quite invisible in life lately, so this lack of older characters was something I wanted to address in my second novel. As I'm planning the book, the two female characters aged in their 50s and 70s are proving far more interesting than those in their 20s, though I'm sure the younger ones will develop more fully in time, especially when I start to actually write.

Older women have so much life experience, so many talents, it's a shame if their voices can't be heard...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Travellers' tales

The travellers returned home at 10am yesterday and at 10.45 I was out of the house to meet the lovely JJ for lunch in London.

After a very easy journey, enlivened by a train driver on the Bakerloo line whose clear, well-spoken announcements made both me and a lady sitting opposite laugh, I arrived at Charing Cross with plenty of time to spare. JJ introduced me to Leon restaurant, which I shall definitely visit again for the healthy fast food. We finished off with coffee in Waterstone's, an ideal location for writers.

Then it was back home to hear about exploits in Florida and look at the photos. Son 2, having been calm whilst they were away, duly threw a wobbly when he returned from school, though that was aimed at YouTube which was misbehaving, rather than at anyone in particular.

I woke up this morning with a new burst of energy towards my writing, as I so often do after meeting other writers. I've returned to the short story that has made me struggle and although it's still not quite there yet, I'm gradually beating it into submission, while Hubby and Son 1 sleep off their jetlag...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Keep on going

I was searching back through old emails at the weekend, looking for some filed information, when I came across one written to a friend four years ago, almost to the day.

It described what is now believed to have been an early MS relapse, but which I largely ignored back then. It also brought home to me how ill Son 1 was at the time and how naive I was in thinking then that once we had the proper professional input he would get better and back into education quickly. It took so much longer than I ever would have believed and affected my life in so many ways.

In the email I was excited about my OU A215 Creative Writing course, in which I was getting good marks despite everything going on around me. I was full of enthusiastic writing plans for the future...write a novel (tick), do an MA (shelved), use these as a springboard to other things, perhaps teaching.

As I read I realised that some of that early enthusiasm has been drained from me. I've become much more realistic about life, some might even say negative. Don't get me wrong, I'm still enthusiastic about writing, I'm excited about the plans for novel two which are coming together and I know it will be a challenge to write. But all this is tempered by the current state of publishing and media, by the difficulties of breaking in and the urgent need to make even a little money. I also have to take into account my physical need to pace myself nowadays.

But I'm not going to let all that put me off. I'm a persistent person and I usually achieve what I set out to do in the end...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Of summer grumpiness

I was going to write a certain post about language today, but realised it would just make me sound like a grumpy old woman.

So I'm not going to write it. I'll keep my grumpy thoughts to myself. And in my defence the heat is making my legs both wobblier and stiffer (not necessarily at the same time), my eyes need frequent breaks from reading and it's going to be a very long, boring weekend for me.

Hope you all have a good one.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The sunshine state?

It's dark and gloomy here this morning, with spots of rain. As I rubbed the suncream into Son 2's face and arms as usual, I wondered if it would actually be needed today.

Hubby and Son 1, however, will need suncream because they are in Florida. For a week. At least I hope they are, as the last I heard they were in the departure lounge at Gatwick yesterday morning watching the aircraft being repaired...

Son 2 and I are home alone for what is likely to be a long, tiring week for me. Luckily he has school, because I need to rest during the day. I'm not sleeping well and combined with the heat and a possible infection, which is being treated, I'm feeling pretty bleugh.

Son 2 and I don't mind not going to Florida. The climate would probably aggravate my symptoms again and I certainly couldn't walk around theme parks all day. Son 2 has always hated holidays, even in this country. He loves the security of home and gets distressed if the word holiday is even mentioned. He was very unsettled yesterday morning until he realised that he wasn't going with them and he cheered up immensely after they'd driven off, taking their suitcases with them.

We've never taken Son 2 on a plane, he doesn't even have a passport. Perhaps we should have tried it when he was younger, but he was even more aggressive and difficult then, albeit smaller. I've done risk assessments in my head and I still don't think it would be possible. He is too strong, too determined, far too noisy, a nightmare for anyone to have to travel with. He couldn't even be sedated for the journey, as sedatives have the opposite effect on him, as they do with many children on the autistic spectrum. So in many ways it is better to stay within his comfort zone.

This is the second time that Hubby and Son 1 have gone to Orlando together. The first time was just 6 weeks after 9/11 and I was very scared for the whole week. This time I'm much more relaxed. The current trip was promised to Son 1 as part of his recovery from mental illness and they should have gone last year, but with Hubby's business failing and my health issues, it just wasn't possible, so we put the money to one side. It may well be the last 'family' holiday that Son 1 wants to take, so I hope they have fun...

Monday, July 05, 2010

Seizing the moment

I spent most of my twenties trying to travel as much as possible. Having been brought up in a family which never holidayed abroad, my experiences to that point had been limited to a couple of school trips to Europe and two exchange stays in Germany to improve my language skills. So, whenever I eventually did get the opportunity to travel, I had an urgent need to take in as many of the sights as I could, to absorb as much of the culture as was possible in a short stay. No opportunity was ever missed.

When we had a two centre holiday in what is now Croatia and Slovenia, but was then Yugoslavia, one of the excusions offered was a day trip by coach to Venice. It was a long way and only a few hours would be spent in the city. Hubby (who was not yet officially Hubby) had been before and didn't want to do the trip. But I had a gut feeling that it might be my only chance to see Venice so I pushed and pushed, I may even have had a little tantrum. We made the trip, the weather wasn't brilliant, but I saw Venice and I'm so glad I did.

I've been thinking a lot about seizing the moment over the last few weeks and days. Not just because of what is happening to my parents, but also because I heard some sad news at the weekend, which reminded me that we never know how long we've got to be able to do things. It's reinforced the feeling I've had recently that I need to take opportunities whenever they arise, that I want to see more of my friends, that I want to meet more of my online writing pals while I still can, that I want to concentrate solely on writing.

Because nobody ever knows what might lie just around the corner.

Friday, July 02, 2010

A very welcome distraction

As you've probably guessed from the last post, I've got lots of family-related problems to think about and research over the next few months. I'm used to dealing with health and social care services but not those relating to the elderly, so it will be a steep learning curve.

But there's still time to tell you about meeting up with the lovely Helen M Hunt who had invited me to be her guest at the launch of Leigh Russell's latest book, Road Closed last night. We had a pizza beforehand and plenty of time for lots of writerly chat, so it was a very enjoyable evening, which took my mind off the other worries for a while.