Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Day The Printer Rebelled ...

May already!  What the f%*# !  It is a somewhat grey day at The Gallop.  Earlier on when I went out coatless in glorious sunshine, I thought yep - this is what summer is all about! Now, as I sit behind my latticed windows, listening to the constant growl of council grass strimmers tidying the verges,  the blue sky is disappearing behind candyfloss clouds and the sun has said That's it, time for a nap -  and gone to bed.  Hopefully it will wake up in time for this weekend which we are lucky enough to be sharing with five of our seven grandchildren in Southend.  Adventure Island - watch out!

Been pretty busy since my last post.  We have been househunting on the net and have set aside a weekend in September to go and view as many places as we can.  I have spoken to my manager about transferring my services to another residential home in our new area.  It is less than a month (and only two sessions) until I leave the Young Writers in the safe hands of Sara, the Chatterbooks facilitator and, in preparation for re-focusing on my own writing, I have taken out a subscription with MsLexia, the magazine for women writers.  I was a subscriber for a few years back in the early noughties and was very excited last week when my first issue popped through the letterbox.  I haven't actually had time to read it yet, but I have flicked through it.  It is more like a paperback book than a magazine now and I am not sure where to start with it but I am sure I will get to grips with it in time.

Have been crazily putting together a poetry booklet for the Young Writers.  I knew I would not have time to compile a new anthology for them - Word Magic and Word Magic 2 were both over a year in the planning, editing, laying-out, printing etc etc etc and this time, I only had six months between when I first proposed a poetry leaflet to the Young Writers and my final session in June with them.  Talk about yet another learning curve.  I found a programme on my laptop that allows you to put a booklet together and this morning I finished laying it all out and printed off the book covers.  But when I began to print off the actual poems, the printer threw a tantrum, blew a raspberry at me and thoughtlessly chewed up the sheet going through it.  So I have given it the rest of the day off and will try to get it finished over the next week or so.

I was recently a judge for the BBC 500 Words competition.  I did it last year and was offered the opportunity to do it again this year so I thought why not?  It is great reading the stories sent in by 6 to 11 year olds all over the UK and it never ceases to astonish me how much talent is out there.  I have decided this is the best age group to nurture where writing is concerned.  Their imaginations know no bounds and their honesty is something we can all learn from.  Maybe once they hit High School their heads are, quite rightly, trained to go into exam mode so - in the most part - there is not much time left for Creative Writing as a hobby.  I think, once we have moved and settled, I will start an on-line Creative Writing group just for children.  I will have to learn how to build a web-site first but hey - never say never!

I think that is about it this time.  Steve has gone off exploring and left me at home to write - and I still have Linked-In to catch up on so better fly.  Speak soon I hope. Keep smiling!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Moving On - In More Ways Than One!

Here we are, half way through April.  Another month has flown by.

I announced at the last Young Writer session that I will be leaving the Young Writer group in June.  Fortunately, Ashburton Library have come up with the idea of amalgamating the group with their Chatterbooks sessions, so all is not lost.  I am well aware that this will not suit everybody, but it would be such a shame if the young writer group just faded into obscurity after six years.  My news was met with mixed reactions from the parents who seemed somewhat more perturbed about the changes than the children. 

Steve has said that, perhaps, if it gets to the stage where I am really at a loss without the Young Writers, I could try starting another group once we have moved and are settled in our new area.  I have some misgivings about that, although it was really sweet of him to suggest it.  In the first instance, I would be forever trying to recreate the success of Addiscombe Young Writers - and if it did not work out for whatever reason, I would be devastated.  But the main reason I can't see it happening is because I seriously need to start focussing again on my own creative efforts.  This was made even clearer to me the other day when I received an invitation to have a stall at a big autumn fayre in September this year.  I had a really successful day there last year and more than trebled my outlay for the price of the table.  But I have only got My Writer to sell again, nothing new.  I need to get some new books under my belt so that I can offer a wider range of my work to potential buyers.  Because of this, I declined the offer of a stall.

I have been thinking about my writing a lot lately.  I know I need to sit down and work out a proper course of action here and set myself some goals.  I have come to accept (it only took me sixty years) that I will never ever be the world famous, best-selling writer I always wanted to be.  I do know, however,  I am a successful writer and that is what I need to maintain.  A wise person once told me that we all reincarnate and that our lives improve with each life we lead.  It could be hocus pocus but by that rationale I should be one of those high flying, world famous, incredibly ricj and successful authors in my next life, so in this life, I am content to maintain the success over five decades of hard work has brought me.

My last Young Writer session is on 2nd June.  We are looking to be moved by Christmas so 2019 will be my year; you just watch!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Writing Update!!!

Whoa!  With everything going on, I was still over the moon the other day, to receive an email from a Literary Agent asking to see the Yucketypoo books!  Plastic waste in our oceans and on our beaches is very prevailent in the current climate and this made me think of the Yuck books all over again.  It was such a pity that my former publisher was unable to deliver on the third book in the series which, ironically, is all about beach cleaning.  And that was written before it became such an issue in the public eye.  So the next day, Steve an I packaged up the first two books and  the typescript of the third, and sent them off on their journey.  Now all I can do is wait!

I have been pretty busy lately.  I have written a number of articles which have appeared on Linked In and, of course, the Young Writers keep me busy.  I have also been a judge for the BBC 500 Word Story competition again.  I had sixteen stories to judge all written by 6 to 9 year olds.  I tell you there is some amazing talent out there!  And I have finally got round to ordering myself some fresh new Business Cards.  They come in incredibly handy.  The other day I met an illustrator selling her work at a street market in Wimbledon and we exchanged cards with great interest.  I do try to carry some around with me but I am almost out of my original cards so decided it was time to treat myself.  I wanted something that looked completely different to my previous design and I must say I was very happy with the final proof!

There are going to be some changes with the Young Writers but I can't say anything else at the moment.  All will be revealed after Easter.  In the meantime, getting the members to write short poems for our forthcoming Poetry Leaflet has been ongoing since the New Year.  I am hoping to have this complete by the end of May.  I figured a leaflet would be quicker to produce as opposed to a book which can take anything up to a year what with editing, lay-out, printer's proofs etc etc.  The main thing is that the Young Writers get the chance to showcase their work and see their name in print, which is always a thrill no matter what age you are!

I have been thinking about my own next Writing Project and I have two ideas germinating so who knows where they will end up!

In the meantime guess what?  We are getting ready to move.  Again!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

What's In A Name?

Over the years I have had lots of letters published in various publications.  Two in particular I recall concern Paul McCartney and Sarah Duchess of York and former wife of Prince Andrew.  In both these cases my letter highlighted the fact that they had published books for children. 

Now I have nothing against Paul McCartney - or indeed Sarah Duchess of York.  And I have nothing against Celia Imrie, Frank Lampard or David Walliams.  Each is excellent in their own field and Celia is one of my favourite actresses.

But I do have to question why they feel such a desperate need to write fiction?  They have all the fame and fortune anyone could wish for and yet they continue to "jump on" the Creative Writing bandwagon.   Writing one's biography is brilliant.  We all like to read how other people "made it".  We might even learn from their life stories!  Yet I have to ask - if it wasn't for their names, would their fiction have been published?

It may sound like sour grapes but that is not the intention.  All over the UK - and the world - there are people who write books, poetry, plays, stories; ordinary every day people like us.  Admittedly some think they have real talent but sadly don't.  And others have real talent but do not get the opportunity to display it, so my question is this.

Take all the famous personalities out of the picture and tell me this.  How many of those gifted people left would actually see their work published? 

Time to ponder.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Time Travel...

Today is 1st February 2018 and the time is precisely 11.07 am GMT, despite the fact it will show this post as being submitted at the somewhat ungodly hour of approximately 2am.  It may well be approximately 2am in the USA but it certainly isn't here.  Am I missing something?  With new advances being made in technology isn't it time someone invented an electronic gadget that automatically shows the correct time and date for your locality?  When Steve and I head off to do some Christmas shopping in Bruge last year, my mobile did me the service of showing both the local time for Bruge and  the UK - so how come my blog seems to be permanently on US time?

Anyone who follows this blog will know of my affinity to Doctor Who.  Is the fact my blog is permenently on US time - even though it actually shows UK time and date to me -  really just an indicator that Time Travel is not so much science fiction as science fact?  Okay so maybe one cannot walk from one era to another, but if I am writing this on a beautiful pre-spring morning in the UK with crocuses on the grass outside and sun shining through the latticed windows, how come the blog date will show me as writing it in the dead of night?  Hmm - puzzles indeed.  I never was much good at physics!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Thursday Morning Warm-Up!

It is a much nicer day today.  The sun is shining and Steve set off on his Thursday travels about twenty minutes ago.  Last week he went to Stamford Bridge.  He said he may try Craven Cottage today but he may yet veer off in another direction if something catches his eye.  At least I didn't feel quite so abandoned this morning as I watched him disappear up the road and that is probably because he is much more his old self.  The Diabetic nurse on Monday was brilliant, giving us loads of time and answering all our questions.  She has suggested ways to tweak his diet which already seems to be working because his sugar count, although still high, is kind of stabilising, and that, in turn reduces both his anxiety and mine.  He has another appointment with her in early March so all we can do is see how things go.

As for me, well here is my plan for today.  I will always use this first hour after he has gone out to "warm up" by updating both blogs and attending to any emails.  After that, I will go through my latest Childrens Writers & Artists Year Book and see if I can find an agent or a publisher who is prepared to breathe new life into the Yucketypoo series.  With all the current concern about plastic on our beaches and in the oceans, the third book Yucketypoo's Big Beach Clean-Up seems to be more relevant than ever and it is such a pity the previous publisher and I were unable to take it further.  I bought the 2018 Year Book with some Christmas money a couple of weeks ago but, to my shame, I have not even glanced through it yet, so that is a definite Must for today.  I also need to prepare a worksheet for Saturday's Young Writer session.  Plenty to do then.

See you next week.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Start ... or Finish?

Belated Happy New Year to you! It has been an utterly crazy few months and it comes as no surprise to me that I have not been back since about October.  Firstly - although I may have mentioned this last post - Steve decided to retire from Tesco.  He just came home one day in October and announced he wouldn't be going back.  The general consensus was and about time too as he hadn't been terribly happy there for the last year or so.  The first few weeks were like a holiday. He got his sparkle back and everyone commented on how much happier he was.  Then, in November, his blood sugars went totally haywire.  Having been diagnosed diabetic almost a decade and a half ago, he has been on the same medication in all that time and this latest problem rocketed him into depression.  It is a depression that has been coming and going eversince. Sometimes he is fine for days or weeks at a time; his mood lifts, he says he won't let it beat him or ruin his life.  But othertimes, he sinks as low as it is possible to go and says it has beaten him and that he is tired of life and when that happens, he is almost inaccessible.  He won't talk.  He just gets angrier.  Not at me just at everything else.  It makes me feel so sad.   He kind of picked up a bit over Christmas, but then he has always loved Christmas, and for the most part, he just went with the flow.  Thankfully, he has an appointment coming up at the Diabetic Clinic where we hope they can give some answers, change his medication or offer alternatives which will make a big difference.

Shortly into the New Year we made one joint resolution together.  On Thursdays - which is the one day a week I never work - he goes out by himself and I get time to dedicate to my writing.  We gave it a trial run last Thursday.  He was out till early afternoon.  Today he went out at precisely 9.35 and, because he has been on one of his lows for a couple of days, as he walked up the road I almost felt a sense of abandonment.  He didn't know where he was heading and doubts he'll be back for lunch, so what time he'll actually get back today is anyone's guess.

On top of all that, we are looking to make our final move later this year.  We have almost decided to settle in or near Southend as that is where most of our grandchildren and our youngest daughter lives.  We have had a look at several houses online and finally decided to get some quotes from local removals firms, who have just started getting in touch to express an interest.  I need to secure the Young Writer group somehow and live in hope that the library will take it over but that will all be sorted nearer the time.  I have been running it for almost six years and, to be honest, am not sure how much further I can take it, so a fresh outlook and in put should rejuvenate it, fingers crossed.

So, on my first full day as a writer, I am sitting in the study, updating my blog.  What will I do later?  Who knows?  I have plenty of ideas but I am worried sick about Steve which isn't doing my Creative Flow a lot of good.  I know things will settle down again in due course, but until then we are on a very rocky road.  Watch this space for further updates ...