Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Saying goodbye

 

One of the most important lessons I have learned when trying to write is that the support from friends is hugely important.  Without them, everything seems pointless. Today, I lost one of those friends. It's probably a little soon to be writing this post with the pain of his loss still so raw but I can think of no other fitting tribute to Les than writing about him. Les Moriarty was one of the first online bookish friends I ever met. After chatting online for some time we eventually met up at The Festival of Romance in 2013. At that event, a group of us became really firm friends and have been meeting up regularly. Unfortunately, I missed the last meet up back in September and never got to spend time with my lovely friend one last time.

Les was one of those people who was generous to a fault. He was always giving his time to offer words of support and encouragement or to tell you the sensible stuff you didn't always want to hear but needed to. Each time I came to London he always met me either at the airport or on the Tube because he knew I had absolutely no sense of direction and could have ended up anywhere! The man had the patience of a saint! Les and his wonderful wife Viv even let me doss on their sofa during a visit to London and their hospitality was second to none. His faithful dog Rosa was always by his side.

Les was an easy person to like. As someone has just reminded me, Les loved music. He had a vast knowledge about bands, singers and songs and would often share his music with his friends. My daughter often received cds through the post from Les as he knew she loved to dance and sing to the latest pop sensation. He knew how much my husband loved The Beatles and sent him some Beatles stuff too. So generous.  He loved to cook and often derailed a diet or two when he posted up pictures of his latest culinary masterpiece. And, always thinking of others, he sent me lots of vegetarian recipes he thought I might like. With a wicked sense of humour, Les loved nothing more than getting together with friends and setting the world to rights over a glass of wine. I remember when we were all in Leighton Buzzard and spent the entire day in coffee shops talking all things bookish. He was such a well read man and there was nothing he didn't know. There are so many wonderful memories I have of Les and most of them involve laughing our heads off. He was a truly fascinating man and knew everyone! And, the whole world knew Les and adored him!

Quite often I have lacked the motivation or confidence to carry on writing. Les was always there to give me a kick up the backside and tell me to get on with it. Thank you for that Les. It's going to be tough without you my dear friend. The world is a little bit darker, colder and sadder without you in it. We are all better people for having known you. Thanks for the memories Les.  RIP. xxx




Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Stress? What stress? Finding my mojo again!



It suddenly occurred to me today that I haven't written a single post here since July. My wonderful intentions to be a prolific writer while I was off work during the Summer months all went completely to pot whenever I found myself snowed under with other book work and falling asleep at my desk due to some difficult parenting issues and a child who has been unwell. Coping on little or no sleep for days on end really put an end to any creativity I had. My brain had left the building. Things still haven't improved too much on the sleep front and for a while I had to scale back on the book work and my writing. I even stopped writing in my journal! But, thankfully things are on the up again. 

It's amazing how your body learns to cope with weeks and months of exhaustion. I have now reached the point where I can function ok on 2 hours sleep now. So, I have started writing again and taking on more book work. I feel great and realise that in actual fact stopping writing and scaling back on work were the stupidest things I did through it all. Now that I am writing again I feel rejuvenated and happy!  If I had only forced myself to sit down in front of my laptop during those days when I thought my eyeballs were going to fall out, maybe things might have been different. I'm really enjoying taking on more book work again and feel buzzed about it all. What had I been thinking, stopping the 2 things in my life that brought me the most happiness!?

The one constant through it all has been my wonderful writing group. We started off as part of a group facilitated by our local library. However, over the Summer and, despite being promised a new facilitator come September we did find ourselves running the group and keeping it going. To be honest, I quite enjoy it but really do have to rein myself in sometimes as I know it often appears I am Ms Bossy Boots and trying to be the facilitator. We all contribute to the group in our own ways. Me.........I'm an organiser. I have organised for some lovely local writers to come to the group to talk to us. I research stuff and bring print outs and writing prompts that are probably boring the rest of the group to tears. But, they are very gracious and thank me politely. What they probably want to do is beat me round the head with the endless bundles of paper I throw at them. Thankfully they haven't yet! They are a super group of people.

Being part of a writing group has given me a new found confidence. Each time we meet we try to share something with the group that we have written. That means finding my story telling voice and letting the group listen to what I have written. It has got to be one of the most nerve wracking things I have ever done. Up to this point I have never shared my work with anyone. But, all my fellow writers in the group are as equally terrified as I am about sharing work. It is such a supportive group of people and I have made some lovely friends. The depth of talent within the group is amazing and I am often in awe of the skills they all possess.  I only hope to be as good as they are one day.

One thing that I never got to be a part of this year has been NaNoWriMo and I am gutted as I have another idea for a book. Actually, I have two ideas! But, I am trying to be realistic. I am still working through editing the book I completed last year and it would be madness to take on another project with this one only half finished. My big wonderful Summer plans had been to finish the book so that I could take part in NaNoWriMo but of course that didn't happen. So, I am being gentle with myself. I'm managing to get to the library most Saturday mornings to work on the book. And while its not happening at break neck speed, it is happening. I still adore my book. It still makes me cry when I read it. I'm not ready to give up on it just yet! Plus, I have lots of author workshops to attend over the next few months and I am really looking forward to those. I am hoping they will provide me with more knowledge and skill around the writing process. My big goal for 2017 is to sign up to The New Writers Scheme with the Romantic Novelist Association so fingers crossed I manage to get onto the scheme. Then, I have no excuses not to finish the book as I will be on a deadline then!

With regards to the book work and blog tours......well I am now officially a part-timer in the day job! Work offered me a part time post a few minutes from my house and I almost bit their arm off! I've now got more time for my beloved book tours which I just love! All in all, life is good.  So, the lesson learned throughout a stressful Summer is...............don't stop doing what you love because you are stressed as it only makes you more stressed!

I'd be really interested to hear how other writers work through times of stress or when life gets in the way.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Author and Blogger Craic In Dublin!

Everyone knows how much I love to go to book events! So, it was very exciting when Carmel Harrington, myself and fellow book blogger Linda Green decided to organise our own author / blogger event. I had attended a few events in London organised by the lovely Kim Nash from Bookouture. I loved them. However, there don't seem to be too many events in Ireland ( and even less up north in Northern Ireland - something I will have to remedy some day!) Anyway, with some planning, the 3 of us managed to organise a really fun event in Dublin on 9th July. The venue was 37 in Dawson Street which was amazing! Thank you so much to them for allowing us to use such a fantastic space! I hope you enjoy some of the pics in this post. Most have been taken by me and some I have stolen borrowed from the events page and were taken by other attendees.

With the lovely Linda Green!
I traveled down to Dublin that morning. A 2 hour journey that coincided with dropping my son to Dublin airport for a flight to America. Feeling totally distraught and being hit with empty nest syndrome! Yeah I know he's only going for 2 weeks but indulge me! Anyway, back to the event! Arriving at 37 I first met the wonderful Linda Green and her very exhausted hubby who had been working night shift but had accompanied her to Dublin bless him. We'd only chatted online before and had never met. What a truly gorgeous person she is. Armed with buns I loved her even more. I was very nervous because I had not met anyone attending! Still, an opportunity to meet new people is always a good thing!
SOME OF THE BUNS WITH BOOKS!
Linda and I had been a little concerned about falling numbers for the event but as you can see from the photographs we had an absolute ball and a respectable amount of attendees. We even had a 'walk in' from the street, claiming to be an author. Still, it added a bit of craic to the occasion. 

Lots of book chat!
Gorgeous bloggers and me!
And so the partying continued outside later!
We all had a super day chatting about books and the publishing world and putting the literary world to rights. I had a total girl fan / book groupie moment when Liz Nugent walked in. I am currently reading her latest book Lying in Wait and loving it. I just so happened to have it in my bag with me and she kindly signed it for me! I have no shame! 



So many interesting conversations!
Most of the authors / bloggers I have met have all been at events in England. Ireland needs more events! These ladies knew how to have a good time and what a lovely bunch of people! Felt like I'd known them forever! It was wonderful to be with like-minded people with an absolute love of books.  Unfortunately the lovely Carmel Harrington was unable to make it to the event in the end but I look forward to seeing her soon.


During the event we had a BLIND DATE WITH A BOOK! Everyone had to bring a book they had enjoyed and wrap it in brown paper. There had to be written a brief description of genre etc but no title. That was a lot of fun and everyone got a new book to add to their ever increasing TBR piles! Lots of business cards and laughs were exchanged and I even managed to sneak in a glass of prosecco. Thank you so much to everyone who attended. You made it the brilliant day it was. I cannot wait to organise another event soon! 

BLIND DATE WITH A BOOK

Sunday, 3 July 2016

A Leap of Faith



In an attempt to learn as much about the craft of writing as I can and connect with other writers, both published and those aspiring to be published, I try to attend as many writing and literary events as I can do. Sometimes finances and time are obstacles that often get in my way although usually its confidence that is the deciding factor. However, when I received information about the Dublin Writers Conference, run by Books Go Social I decided to try and be brave.

The conference runs over 3 days. Unfortunately I was only able to attend day 2. So, off I went on another little one woman adventure. Boarding the 6.45am train on a cold and damp Saturday morning.  I did think that I was probably totally insane. Input from my loving husband confirmed I was but he thought I should definitely go. The train from Belfast to Dublin is just over 2 hours long and I totally adored the fact that I had 2 hours to sit on my backside and read. I loved it! It was also a great opportunity to people watch and I was inspired once or twice with ideas for short stories. Every situation it seems presents the opportunity to use my imagination.

Upon arriving in Dublin I managed to make my own way to the Gresham Hotel where the conference was being run. Finances meant that I wouldn't be spending the night in Dublin so I was determined to get as much out of the day as I could. So, taking a big deep breath I walked into the conference room by myself and found a seat at an empty table. There's nothing as big a test of bravery when you are overwrought with anxiety as walking in to an event alone, not knowing anyone. It wasn't long however before I was joined by a lovely gentleman, Brian. He asked me if I was a published writer. Well, part of my anxiety around this whole writing journey is actually telling people I write. Its around telling people I have written a book, albeit the first draft only. So, I told him I was an aspiring author working my way through the first draft of my book. It felt liberating. After that, I didn't worry about telling everyone I spoke to!

Pretty soon the conference room began to fill up and as the chairs around the table filled, other writers introduced themselves. I'll say this about the literary world...............its a damn friendly place. Of course I already knew that from the blogging world but it was so refreshing to be reminded that authors are a lovely, caring and supportive group of people. I met people from all walks of life at the conference. Such a varied and interesting group of people.

As the conference progressed, I learned so much from marketing, to self publishing to getting the book cover right. Plus, it was great to finally meet Jessica Bell. I follow Jessica on Facebook and she is a very talented lady. Over lunch I chatted to new friends about our writing and some of the difficutlies we had. At first, I was a bit worried about telling people I was a mere blogger. I always worry that authors will think that just because I read a lot of books I consider myself an authority on writing. I don't. I have the utmost respect for anyone that can get a book out into the world and not pass not with fear. I don't consider myself an expert at anything except perhaps almost throwing up with fear! I was also dubious about talking about the book tours I organise as I really didn't want it to be seen as using the opportunity to tout for business. Thankfully it wasn't perceived as that and lots of people asked for my business card. They all seemed genuinely interested.

Alas, the conference day was over all too soon. The day absolutely flew by and I have lots and lots of notes and learning to put into practice. At the end of the conference I had dinner with a couple of lovely authors with such interesting lives. The conversation flowed easily and naturally and I adored hearing about their lives. However, before long it was time to board the train for home. Another two hours of reading and writing lay ahead on my homeward journey but this time I sat on the train full of hope and inspiration about where my writing journey would take me next. It seems I am on more than a physical journey. Next year I am definitely attending all 3 days of the conference. Its a valuable learning experience and a great place to network. There were so many interesting speakers and lots of interaction between the speakers and the audience. I felt at ease and excited to be there and really took on board the advice that was being given. I loved it!

For me, the experience as a whole was very positive, strengthening my resolve to be a bit braver with my writing. Sometimes its easier to put your story down on paper than it is to share it and yourself with the world. However, the bravery is in the leap of faith you take in yourself and a trust in those around you to handle your feelings and your writing with care and respect. So far on my journey I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by good friends and a wonderful husband who encourages and supports me and pushes me to try new experiences. Next weekend I'm off to Dublin again for an author / blogger meet up and a chance to meet the lovely Carmel Harrington again. Its not easy to be brave but it is worth it.


*Find out more about Books Go Social - www.booksgosocial.com

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Writer Wobbly!

Lots of excitement this week as my second article in the Loveahappyending.com magazine went live! Hooray! When I read the article I did actually feel a little bit in awe that it was me that had written it and it actually wasn't half bad! To see anything I have written out in the big bad worldwide web is a bit of a buzz! You can check out my article HERE. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Although, already I am seeing ways I could have improved it! Is anyone ever really happy with what they have written or are you always subconsciously editing and rewriting stuff long after you have written it?




This week also saw me attending my second creative writing class and this time I did feel a little more confident. And, just when my confidence was growing, I realised that this was the last class before the Summer break! Damn it! However, all was not lost. One lady on the course is arranging a series of literary evenings in her house and asked me if I was interested in attending. Of course I am! And, a couple of lovely ladies in the class invited me to join them on a regular meet up over the Summer to talk about and critique our work. We are going to meet up in a swanky coffee shop, drink tea, eat buns and generally talk about our writing. We might even set each other writing challenges too and I was thinking about how to expand on this idea so if any of you wonderful literary friends have some good ideas for writing prompts or writing exercises then I'd love to hear them!

Having friends with a common interest really does help you to feel part of a bigger community. I do have lots and lots of wonderful author and blogger friends online and I get to meet up with some of them now and again. However, to suddenly become part of a writing community close to home feels really fantastic. Of course, the idea of sharing my writing with real people makes me want to pass out in a dead faint! What if they really hate what I have written. One of them is a journalist and really knows her stuff. What if she thinks I am a fraud!? Oh my god! What if I am a fraud!? What if I deluding myself that I can write!? Yes I know I am having a bit of a writing wobbly here but I think its allowed! Isn't it?  I really do feel like I am entering a whole new phase of my life sometimes and it does feel a little bit scary if I am honest. Ms Irrational Fear is my middle name!

But, just when I was starting to have all this self-doubt, a lovely author friend Sheryl Browne sent me an email to tell me just how great she thought my writing was. Isn't it funny how a few words in an email can hold such tremendous power. Words have the power to transform the fearful into the brave. They have the power to push us to keep taking another step forward when we've been paralyzed with fear for so long. So, thank you Sheryl for doing that for me. So remember.................choose your words carefully. What you say or write can not only change a person's thinking but also potentially transform a life.  What a great gift to give.


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

All aboard for change!



Well what a busy month May has turned out to be! Lots of changes on the horizon in terms of finding some time to actually get some writing done. After years of working full time I now finally have the opportunity to reduce to part time hours, beginning today! This was always my goal to allow myself to spend more time on book work and my own writing and to eventually give up work altogether. But, the opportunity never presented itself, or if it did, I was too scare to take the leap! A horrible few months in work have meant that my current post has been full of way too much stress and office politics which I won't get into. Suffice to say however that despite me feeling like things were rapidly going downhill and I was feeling constantly unhappy, it had one positive effect. It actually pushed me to seek out change. When I was feeling like things couldn't get any worse, the universe presented me with an answer.............a part time post in an office 5 minutes drive from my house instead of the 54 mile round trip I have been taking to work. So, I applied an got it! Would I have done this before? Probably not. Yes of course the drop in wages will be difficult but already the thought of being able to sit and write for a few hours a couple of times a week and build up my book tour business fills me full of nervous excitement. I feel giddy, scared, nervous and happy all at the same time!

For all you lucky people who work at home full time and write I applaud your bravery! Its a huge step! I'll probably need to be very disciplined in what I do on my days off. I suspect that the only way to make this work is to have a schedule in place. A time-table of work to stick to which I hope I follow religiously. I also suspect that there will be lots of distractions such as social media, offers of coffee mornings and lunches out and slobbing on the sofa eating cake and watching movies. I think the only way to make this successful is to keep reminding myself that those 2 days off are there to earn me a wage and not so I can flit about like a social butterfly. It is of course a disaster that one of my friends has given up work, one is going to be on maternity leave and the other is also changing to part time hours! The possibilities for girlie days out are endless..............BUT I WILL BE STRONG...........unless of course there is cake! And wine! Oh god keep me away from the wine! Who knows, I might even get this damn book edited!


Sunday, 22 May 2016

Drowning, Not Waving!



You know that thing you tell yourself you are going to do when coming up to an important milestone in your life? Yes you do! The one that goes..........'now I am 40 I am going to do things that scare me.' Just me then? Ok.........moving swiftly on...........When I was 40 (6  years ago........but shhhhhhhhhh) I made a vow that I would do things that made me want to pass out with fright or balk at the idea. And, I've done a few from abseiling to taking up running to being on a radio show to attending book events to writing! The list does go on and I won't bore you! Well, this week I crossed another thing off my 'to do' list...............I attended a creative writing class! No big deal I hear some of you shout but for me it was a very big deal!

At the heart of it, I am not a very confident person despite the numerous photographs of me dancing on tables or doing the splits at parties (yes wine does have a lot to answer for!) The thing I am least confident at doing is sharing my writing. The thought of actually finishing this book and sending it to people to read makes me want to hyperventilate to the point of passing out and waking up in a pool of my own sweat! Not very pleasing imagery but there you go! I'm assuming anyone who has written books feels exactly the same way? For the love of all thing chocolately tell me its not just me!!!

Anyway, back to the story of my creative writing class. I had applied for a place on the class a few months ago to be told that all the spaces were filled. It was in the local library and was a free class so I had summoned up the courage to go apply and you can imagine how I felt to be told there was no room for me! So, I walked away, head down and defeated. I whined to my husband that I couldn't get onto the class and then told him my life was pants! He suggested that I go back and leave my phone number just in case anyone dropped out or another class was organised. Why hadn't I thought of that? Was I really secretly relieved that I wasn't going to have to do something scary?  Despite fear, I did go back and leave my number and basically forgot about the entire thing until I received a phone call last week asking me if I'd like to attend one of the classes as someone had dropped out. The lovely lady on the phone explained that she wasn't sure whether the person who had dropped out was coming back but offered me the chance to see what the classes are about so that when the next lot are organised I can attend. Well, I had nothing to lose had I? Well, ok ..........lets not think about that.

So, on Thursday evening off I went to the library armed with my trusty notebook and pens. I felt like a child on her first day at school. The class was taken by a local writer who was lovely. However, it was obvious that everyone else in the class knew each other..............of course they did! They'd been attending from the beginning. Oh boy did I feel out of my depth here. What if I made an arse of myself? It wouldn't be the first time.

The class began with a lovely gentleman reading out a sonnet he had written based on 'homework' given to the class. Oh holy smokes the sonnet was amazing! I definitely did not have that kind of writing skill! Why oh why had I sat at the front of the class, directly in front of the tutor. Why hadn't I sat somewhere that would make it easy to escape! So, I had no choice to stick it out. 

We were presented with a picture of a picnic scene which turned out to be from an old movie.  We were asked to pick out one of the characters and write about what they were thinking. What was their story? And, we had to write it in the first person. Now, I know enough to know what writing in the first person is. Well I did until I was asked to do it. Suddenly I got stage fright and my mind went completely blank. I can laugh about it now of course because its such a simple thing but there I was put on the spot and expected to write something! And I couldn't remember how to! My hand was literally shaking when I picked up my pen. I looked at my classmates who were all scribbling away furiously! Fight or flight kicked in and as I was unable to run away I decided to fight. I took a deep breath, wiped away the sweat from my eyes, cleaned my glasses and I wrote! To be fair, what I wrote wasn't great in the allocated 15 minute slot but I wrote nonetheless.  At the end of that excercise we were asked to turn to the person next to us and either read out what we had written so they could critique or explain what we thought our characters story was. Well hells bells I wasn't going to read anything out so I turned to the lovely lady beside me and explained what I thought the character I had picked was all about! I think I did ok and we had an interesting chat about perceptions of scenes and people. Great I thought! I can do this!

Our next exercise was to write a character bio for another person from the picture. I found this immensely interesting as I had done this for my NaNoWriMo project, although I learned a lot more about this process during the class and I will definitely go back to my book and look again at the bios I have written and expand on them more. It might help me to make them more interesting and add a bit more substance to their personalities.  When we had completed this exercise, each of us had to talk about the character we had chosen and talk about them like they was a person we were introducing or talking about to a friend. When my turn came I actually thought I was going to fall off my chair in a dead faint. But, after a few gasps for air I finally was able to read out what I had written for my character and he turned out to be pretty damn interesting! The tutor was impressed I think and my character, a Mr Frankie Conway who was an Irish - American gambler and womaniser jumped right off my page and has been filed away for future use! Thank you very much Mr Conway!

And so, there you have it! I am waiting to hear if there is a place for me at the next class. If not, the class is going to be evolving into a writers support group too so hopefully I will be involved in that. While the thought of attending another class does still scare the bejesus clean out of me I was glad that I did it. And, in some weird way, I want to do it again! I want to learn how to make my writing better. I want to know what I am doing wrong and to have the skills to fix it. I want to find the courage to put more of my writing out there and cross another goal off my bucket list. Watch this space!

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Leaning Into the Curves!


Well, its finally happened. My first article as a columnist for www.loveahappyending.com is out there for the big bad world to see. You will either love it, hate it or just think its a bit blah! Personally, I think its pretty ok. And by god its true what they say................writing is like going out in public with no knickers on! You do feel so exposed!  I understand of course that the article content may not be of interest to everyone in the world but I hope that I have written it in such a way that even if the subject matter does not apply to you, the writing itself will bring even the smallest of smiles to your face. You can check out the article HERE. Please go and read it and inflate my ego enormously! I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.............good or bad.

One thing that starting to write articles for the magazine is teaching me is that its not that easy! While I used to write a personal blog around special needs issues, those posts were personal to me. The challenge in writing for a wider audience is to make sure that I don't personalise each article too much and make it all about me. Because the feature is about Home Help, I need to write content that encompasses quite a wide audience from parents, to homemakers to career minded women/men to well.............just about everyone I suppose and actually hope that people do find the articles helpful!  While I want the articles to be informative I don't want them to be too serious either. I think we can take life far too seriously and that just sucks the fun out of everything!


Yesterday I sat down to put together my 2nd article for the magazine and BOOM! Writer's Block! I mean seriously! I have a huge list of topics I'd like to cover in the features and so while it was very quiet in work I thought I'd get started on the next thing on the list. I merrily sat covertly typing away hoping that the boss didn't walk in on me typing up an article instead of writing the boring stuff I'm paid to write. I got about 4 paragraphs in when suddenly my mind went completely blank! My brain shut down faster than a computer installing Windows 10! Now, for me this is something quite unexpected because my brain never shuts up! It constantly babbles on and on at me, never giving me a moments peace. And, for those that know me well, my mouth never closes either and the two are in constant conflict! I sat looking blankly at the screen and then just put my head on the desk and counted to ten!
 
Yes I know I probably looked like some mad writerly type (Here's Johnny!!!) I thankfully hadn't reached axe wielding stage! A few big deep breaths however, a bar of chocolate and a reboot of my brain showed me what was wrong. While I had an general outline of what I wanted the article to be about and had been happily bashing away at the keyboard I realised that I in fact wanted to write something else entirely! The writer's block I suppose was my brain's version of an update! You know those annoying things that happen to your laptop when you are mid writing and the damn thing restarts without any prior warning.  My brain was trying to alert me to the fact that it was at odds with what I was writing. Now this is a new thing for me. As a fledgling writer I had often read of the dreaded writer's block or plot lines taking new directions but hadn't really experienced it to such a degree. It happened a few times during my NaNoWriMo project but not as abruptly as this. Then, there had always been a gradual sort of re-plotting and days of my brain toying with the idea. Not this! Goodness me this writing lark is going to be fun!

Writing appears to be a constant learning curve. Sometimes I am a pro at leaning into the curves and following the road ahead. Other times I fall flat on my ass and need to dust myself off and start again, hoping that I don't run out of fuel before I've finished. I often wonder if I have what it takes and have to remind myself that of course I have! Ultimately I am writing for me and if the end result is that one or two other people actually like what I write then I've contributed in some small way to the world of writing. I'm not sure my name will ever be in lights or whether I'll ever be lucky enough to see anything I've written on shelves but I do know I am extremely lucky to have been given the opportunities I have. I am extremely lucky to have such a great supportive writing network and wonderful author and blogger friends who are encouraging and just amazing! The rest, as they say, is up to me. I'm looking forward to a great Summer when I will be off work from the day job and I can concentrate more on my writing and my book work. Who knows, maybe I just might get that damned NaNoWriMo project finished before I have to start the next one. Buckle up! Its gonna be a bumpy ride!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

When Bloggers and Authors take over London!

On Saturday 20th March I was so lucky to be able to meet up with lots of my blogger friends and lots of my author friends. I also met some lovely new people and generally had a grand old time! The event was organised by author Holly Martin and Kim Nash from Bookouture who have begun to organise monthly meet ups. Obviously, because I live in Northern Ireland I can't attend every meet up as the expense would be too great but I am at least going to try to get to every other one if possible.

So, on Saturday morning my alarm went off at 4.45am and I could have cried! I hadn't slept too well with sheer excitement at the prospect of the meet up and a daughter who was unwell. However, I was soon hot footing it onto a rather small plane at Belfast City airport. I don't think I've ever flown in such a small passenger plane before! It had propellers for goodness sake and shook and shuddered the whole flight! And, we didn't so much land in London City airport but sort of dropped from the sky with a thump! I'm sure we didn't really but my insane fear of landing and taking off was coming into play here! Plus, I didn't have anyone sitting beside me! I usually grab the hand of a fellow passenger during these times!

©Flybe

My next hurdle was getting myself from the airport to meet the lovely Les Moriarty at Waterloo Station. Now, those who know me well know that I am completely geographically challenged and could manage to get lost in my own street! However, Les had given me great traveling instructions and before I knew it Les and I were enjoying a lovely brunch before making our way to the venue in The Waiting Room.

I was so stunned that so many people had turned up to the event which is a testament to Holly and Kim's organizational skills. The afternoon was spent talking books, talking book tours and talking blogging. I was so thrilled that I got to meet some of the lovely authors I had worked with on tours. Authors such as Tilly Tennant, Christie Barlow and Helen J Rolfe to name but a few. When meeting authors I so have to suppress the urge to go all fan girl / stalker on them. I'm whats known as a book groupie! I can't help myself! I go all weak at the knees and want to fall at their feet! If I'm honest, meet ups do terrify the life clean out of me! I'm quite a shy person at heart (stop laughing) and I do get very nervous. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I look terrible? What if..............and so it goes on and on! But, I needn't have worried because once I got taking I was hard to shut up!

With the lovely authors Talli Roland & Helen J Rolfe

I was also so lucky to meet so many amazing bloggers including some of the Brook Cottage Books tour hosts! These guys are totally amazing, so generous of their time and there's nothing they don't know about books and authors! They are the real experts of the publishing world!

Me again! With book bloggers Julie Williams & Julie Boon & the lovely author Tilly Tennant



Selfie fun with authors Giselle Green & Christina Courtenay

Shell Baker with her famous selfie stick!

Me and Les Moriarty

All in all it was a fab afternoon. What could be better than spending the day in a pub with authors and bloggers and talking books! Some liquid refreshment might of course been had! Afterwards Les and I went for a gorgeous meal in an Indian restaurant before we headed back to his lovely home where he and his wife Vivienne put this very tired blogger / writer up for the night. I was treated to a gorgeous breakfast the next morning and some fascinating and interesting conversation before Vivienne kindly walked me to the tube station with their little dog Rosa who I have fallen so madly in love with! I really wanted to sneak her away in my bag but really wasn't sure poor Vivienne would appreciate me trying to wrestle Rosa off her at the tube station! Anyway, I somehow managed to get myself back to the airport, and that accomplishment in itself filled me full of pride and a little extra confidence. The Tube terrifies me. I'm a little claustrophobic and again, terrified of getting lost. But I got there! Go me!

The adorable Rosa!


The weekend was an absolute success and I even managed to get a little bit of work.  I'm looking forward to the next London meet up on the 28th May.  I had considered not attending the meet up in May as I was worried about the expense etc and while I was standing in the kitchen talking myself out of the whole thing while making a cuppa, my lovely husband went online and booked me a flight and a hotel! Sometimes I just need a little push. I'm going to bring my laptop with me this time and try to get some writing done, ensconced in my tiny hotel room with a bottle of wine and a big bag of Doritos! What could possibly go wrong?!

P.S Myself, Carmel Harrington and Linda Green are hoping to organise a Dublin Meet up on the 9th July so do let me know if you are interested in attending and I'll make sure you get an invite.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Columnist Extraodinaire!



A few weeks ago I saw an brilliant job opportunity to work at a local magazine. The job was a work from home one too with weekly meetings at the magazines head office and not bad wages. It was my dream! It was perfect! It was everything I wanted! Unfortunately they wouldn't even consider me for the job because I didn't have enough proven experience. Apparently writing your own blogs, taking part in writing projects, co-writing a book for charity and organising blog tours and being a professional multi-tasker and Olympic sport busy person just weren't seen as useful skills for a magazine. I needed to expand my C.V if I was ever to be in with any chance to be taken seriously.
 ©Loveahapppyending

As many of you know, I am a Book Shelf Reviewer for Loveahappyending Lifestyle Magazine #LLm which is an amazing free online lifestyle magazine. This magazine is simply bursting with fantastic features with something to suit everyone.  Its becoming increasingly popular with a huge readership and I suggest you go check it out. Well, I am thrilled to share some wonderful news with you all. I am also to be one of their columnists. My fellow columnists are amazing authors and wonderfully warm and lovely people and the welcome and support in the new role has been amazing. A very special thank you must go particularly to Linn B Halton who is the managing editor of the magazine and probably someone who is even busier than I am! She is such an inspiration to me and great friend. Linn always offers me wonderful words of wisdom and is a constant support.

My column, called Home Help will focus on parenting, work, special needs and family issues. I have a wealth of knowledge around such things. Working with vulnerable families for a number of years I have quite a varied skills base and lots of experience to call upon. Plus, I am a working parent and carer too so I understand some of the difficulties faced by parents today. Let's face it guys. Its not easy! I am hoping my posts not only offer advice and guidance but also find a little bit of humour along the way too. Life is too short to constantly complain. We need to find some positives through the difficult times. Hopefully someone will find some of the advice I give useful. Or, if the column even makes one person smile then I'll have done my job. If anyone would like me to write about a particular subject please feel free to post ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

The whole experience of trying to land the job at the local magazine I mentioned earlier really made me realise that I do need to get more of my writing out into the big bad world and I am grateful to Linn B Halton for giving me the opportunity. I enjoy writing and just want to share what I do. I don't think I'll ever make a fortune out of it but would like to eventually freelance as a full time publicist, book promoter, writer and possibly offer a P.A service to authors. I'm toying with a lot of ideas and my days just seem to get busier and busier. And, while completely exhausting, I am so enjoying all of these new challenges.

THE HEADER FROM THE COLUMNISTS PAGE!
 ©Loveahapppyending
So guys, any tips or guidance on getting freelance paid writing gigs would be very appreciated. I understand this is an on-going learning process but I do have a real desire to learn. If I am to eventually give up full time work and become self employed I am pretty sure that my family do not want to live on beans and toast ....... forever! Its all quite a scary prospect and for each day I have to drag myself into the office and do a job that is sending my brain into a coma, I spend most of that day dreaming about doing a job that I really love. But, at least I am taking baby steps into reaching my goals. Thankfully I have lots of wonderful friends to hold my hand through the scary times. Don't leave me!

MY BIO AS IT APPEARS IN THE MAGAZINE!

©Loveahappyending
In other news.............. I've been featured over at Celtic Connexions blog. Its always so funny to see myself as a guest on other people's blogs. It makes me go all tingly with excitement. Check out the post HERE.

I am also featured on Lozza's Book Corner! I feel positively famous! lol

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Is it Me?

They say you should write about what you know but I am wondering how much of this would actually get you into trouble? When I finished my Nano project in November 2015 it was a huge feeling of relief. Up to that point I wouldn't talk about the plot at all with my husband and eventually when I told him what it was all about he looked at me, smirked and said, 'So its plain to see who each of the characters is based on!' Ooops! Was I that transparent?



That got me wondering whether I was going to get myself into a whole lot of trouble if the book was ever published. I knew I was basing the main characters on real people and some of my own experiences but I stupidly thought no one would make the connection! My darling husband and his enormous and infuriating brain figured it out in seconds. Fortunately I don't give a monkey's ass about the opinions of the people that some of the characters might closely resemble (Admit to nothing I hear you shout). I am no longer in contact with them and they'd never admit to reading any book I wrote! However, I am now left with another dilemma. I have an idea for a second book and its very clearly based on myself and my friends. Although, my friends do know about it and I threaten them now and again to base a 30 stone transvestite on one of them or a raging sex mad alcoholic! Seriously though, I am wondering just how careful are other writers around basing their characters on real people. I know that if I ever write this book I am going to have to be very careful when writing about people I know will read the book. I don't want to offend or hurt and I'm hoping they will see what I am writing as a compliment to the wonderful people that they are.


I think its quite difficult not to use traits from other people for your characters, particularly when they are things that make some sort of an impact on you whether from an emotional point of view or because you think they are the most wonderful people in the world and that needs to be shared. I know that some of the traits of my very best friends are what makes me love them so much. But, not being the most experienced of writers I'd love to hear the opinions of other writers. Do you risk an onslaught from the 'real' people in your life if you base a character, no matter how loosely on them? Are they easily offended? Do you live in fear of the neighbours slashing your car tyres or excluding you, heaven forbid, from all the neighbourhood watch meetings all because you wrote about a cul-de-sac where there was a bit of wife swapping or mad affairs going on in the garden shed at the bottom of the garden (yeah this happened!). Are you afraid Auntie Mabel will cross you off her Christmas card because you wrote about an elderly female character with a liking for smoking Cuban cigars or that Uncle Max will write you out of his will? Or worse, leave you his damn cat as a punishment when he knows you are allergic to cats all because you mentioned his fascination with ladies knickers! Are you at risk of totally alienating yourself from friends and family who live in fear you are going to write then into a book and then kill them off even if you have no intention of doing so!?


At a recent book launch for Colin Bateman's book Papercuts, which is set in my home town, he joked that often people think characters are based on them when in fact they aren't. I thought this was really interesting. Is it a case of inflated egos that cause people to assume they are the basis for a character or is it perhaps really clever writing that lets a reader see a part of themselves in a character who isn't actually based on anyone in particular? Some books probably fly pretty close to the wire and writers do have to be very careful from a legal point of view. Or is it a case of write and be damned with the consequences! I suppose all this will come down to experience / stupidity / naivety or all three!


I think that there is no doubt that it is impossible to write characters that may have some resemblance to real people and whether writers do that unconsciously or not I'm not altogether sure. I'm pretty sure that a lot of experiences written about are based on someone's real life experience. In my book some of what happens or the things said to the female lead character are things once said to me. Did I write this as a sort of therapy? Possibly. Did I write it as revenge? Absolutely not. I wrote it because it made a good story. I know that when I was writing my Nano book I googled photographs of what I thought the characters looked like and based a lot of stuff around that. Unfortunately they happen to look like people I know! Oh dear. I'll just sit here and wait for the court summons then if the book ever gets into print! Watch this space!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Library Lout!

Ok so what genius decided that firstly there should only be 24 hours in a day? And secondly, why do we need to sleep? I mean its a massive waste of valuable time! Those who know me well know that I don't sleep particularly well anyway but wouldn't it be wonderful if places like the library opened in the middle of the night? I bet they would be full to bursting with writers looking for some head space and readers just wanting to escape from their own dull and insomniac existence and disappear into a thousand books!


Why am I complaining again and this time about time? Well, my best laid plans to get myself organised and do more writing have fallen a bit flat! At the moment all my free time is taken up with family stuff or book blogging / touring work. Not that I mind any of that for one moment but it does eat into a fair amount of my time. Oh and then there is the dreaded day job which actually just feels like a huge weight around my neck right now. Yeah its useful for paying some of the bills but I can slowly feel my brain getting ready to pack its bags and leave home! And who could blame it!


I'm not sure about where others find the best place to write is but mine currently is the library. I always thought that once I got my own desk at home I would start writing like a mad writing thing (otherwise known as a writer / author). However, when writing at home there are a few things that distract me - 

1. Facebook and all other forms of social media! Yeah of course I can access those things at the library but I'm much more disciplined there than I am at home.

2. Interesting blog posts - Oi stop reading this. You should be writing instead!

3. The dog - now I know you are reading this with one of those baffled looks on your face. I adore my dog. He is part of my family but by god he is a needy hound! The minute I sit down with the laptop there he is wanting to sit on my knee. Then he starts pressing the keys on the laptop, deleting entire chapters! Or, he sits at the window and barks at every man, woman and child that walks past the house. Doggy world war ensues if another dog walks past!

4. Other people - Apparently when my car is parked in my driveway it acts as a homing beacon for others to come visit me and sit for hours on end! I don't write but I do eat a lot of buns instead!

5. My daughter - I love this kid with every heartbeat. She, like a lot of teens spends large amounts of time in her room. That is until I open my laptop and then she suddenly has 100000000 things she wants to tell me! At once!

6. Housework - I am one of those weirdos who cannot write in a messy room. So, before sitting down to write I tidy up a bit. Then, I decide to do a little dusting. Then I end up doing laundry and before I know it I am down on my hands and knees scrubbing skirting boards and suddenly there's no time to write.

So, for now the only writing I can do is at my local library. Unfortunately this means only once a week. Is it enough time? Probably not. But, for me its still an opportunity that I love to exploit and something I am beginning to really look forward to! I would have disappeared for hours in the old library when I was a child. The place always held such a fascination for me and I loved the old building. Its since had a massive overhaul and a giant extension put onto it and although I hate the look of the extension I still love the place! Does that make sense?  I love the fact that I am surrounded by books. All those millions of words spilled out onto pages. Stories that have made people happy, sad, inspired or excited! Oh and the smell of the books! Good grief! Its almost better than sex......................I said almost! (*waves at husband who might be reading this). 

OLD LIBRARY BUILDING

OLD LIBRARY BUILDING WITH EXTENSION
 
I love the fact the library sits in the middle of the park with ducks waddling about outside! I love the fact that everyone is always nice and quiet - except the bloke who sits opposite me sometimes and whisper sings! You know the sort! He wears headphones and sings in a massively loud whisper type way while closing his eyes and swaying like a demented cobra! Then he suddenly opens his eyes, keeps whisper singing and types away at a thousand miles an hour. Maybe the music inspires him! I know I do that when I'm at home and my family throw cushions at me to get me to stop singing so I better not do it at the library. Someone might throw a book at me! Oh a book................lovely books.............*drools

I also love the fact that I am surrounded by others furiously typing away on their laptops too. I like to pretend that they are other writers, penning the next great masterpiece and that I sat in the same room as them when they were writing the next big literary hit. I suppose half of them are probably students writing some very interesting thesis on the mating habits of the banana fly (There is actually a book about this. Its a book about the facts of life!). Or, perhaps some of them are having online affairs with strangers boasting their very own red room of pain! Who knows! I find it all fascinating. There was even someone last week who brought their packed lunch with them!  Oh but hold on.............are they my new distraction? Eeeek! But, I do love to people watch and some of them do give me some fab ideas for characters!

One of these days I will find the time to book myself away on a writing retreat and just type away all day! I am massively envious of those who avail of such a treat. Unfortunately time, family and financial constraints means that won't happen. In the meantime I will continue with my little library excursions for a few hours on a Saturday. I love it! I feel happy and inspired there. I only wish the library was open all the time! Save our lovely libraries. For some people its the only retreat from a hectic life.  So, this Valentine's weekend I am declaring my love for libraries!



Sunday, 17 January 2016

Me, Myself and I





My dream is to disappear from the rat race, find a scheduled cottage halfway up a mountain. I'd bring with me the following:
  • My laptop - to write
  • A supply of notebooks and pens.
  • My kindle - to read
  • A steamer trunk full of books -to read
  • A couple of cases of wine - to drink (duh!)
  • 6 months supply of good food.
  • Fluffy PJ's and slippers
  • My phone - for the music of course!
And then, I'd just disappear for 6 months. I'd like some fresh food air dropped in once a week. When I tell my friends this they laugh! I think I am considered a bit of a strange one but this is my idea of pure heaven. Today, when the world is such a hectic place and there never seems to be a moment to stop and catch our breath, the idea of running away from it all is one that does consume my mind on many an occasion. Imagine waking up in a giant bed every morning, snuggled up with big chunky blankets, an open fire in the grate and complete silence all around. Next imagine getting out of that bed, opening the curtains and seeing a white winter wonderland or a beautiful spring meadow.  And then, after breakfast snuggling down on the sofa by the roaring fire and either reading or writing. *sigh*

In the modern world that is today, people are no longer happy or comfortable in their own company. The idea of isolation is appalling to many and I suppose it is a very personal thing. But imagine how chilled you'd be! Imagine not having to think about anyone but yourself. Imagine the self indulgence of having months of 'you time'. Could you cope? I definitely could but I'm not sure there are many who could. We seem to have few opportunities presented to us in which to experience true solitude and simply gather our thoughts. Would be more well rounded individuals or would we go stir crazy? Would we pen the next masterpiece or would we end up throwing the laptop out the window and going completely bonkers in a Jack Torrance (The Shining) type way? Would we end up having full scale conversations with book characters (yes I know most of already do that!)? Would you enjoy filling your day with all things literary or would you end up eating the books?

I think some of my friends would see this type of adventure (yes I do see it as an adventure of the mind) as pure torture whereas I would see it as an opportunity to relax, recharge and dream! I know that this is a contradiction of a previous post where I said I couldn't relax and needed to always be busy. But, for this type of opportunity I could ditch the busy bee mania that usually takes over my life! Unfortunately this type of dream is only achievable if you don't have any family commitments, work commitments and lots of money! Are you sane enough (or insane) to give this type of thing a go? Do you have unlimited funds? Then give me a call!!! I'll see you up the mountain!

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Are you sitting down?

Are you sitting comfortably? You are? Well why are you sitting down in the first place? Get off your backside and go do something constructive! Ok, wait! Don't go and do something until you've read this post first! (Way to go Debs to get rid of readers!)

According to my husband I am a freak! Yes you read that right. I am a freak of nature. One of those weird people who have no clue how to relax. And, as much as I hate to admit it, he's right! God! He's such a smartarse! I am one of those people who is so busy that the ability to relax has become a skill long lost. I don't even take the time to relax in the bath. I remember a time when I was feeling stressed, running around like a nut and came home to find my lovely husband had run a bath, put candles all around it, warmed up some big fluffy towels and poured me wine. And, did I enjoy it? Was I grateful? Hell no! Of course, I didn't tell him that! I smiled appreciatively and thanked him for his kindness. It was a lovely thing for him to have done. But, what was running through my brain? Well, for a start my first thought was, 'I don't have time for a bath!' My second was, 'I might clean the bathroom later,' and did in fact clean the bath while I was sitting in it! It's insane I know but something I think sums up my lifestyle pretty well!

In an age when we are expected to be all things to all people and cram as much into our days as is  humanly possible we always take the quickest options, the fastest route or the one that allows us to fit as much into a small time frame as is possible. When did this happen? Is it a modern thing? I'm not sure. All I know is that the fact that there are not more hours in the day is something that stresses me out more than I can say! Perhaps its because I work full time plus try to write AND run a book tour company and be a carer that I feel this way. Although, part of the problem is that there is so much more that I WANT to do. Not stuff that I SHOULD do. I want to fit in more adventures and extra fun into an already manic lifestyle! I want to read more books. Chase that bookish job / career. I want to spend more time writing instead of snatching at the small pockets of time that open up to me occasionally.  Every time I have some rare free time I try to fill that time with something. Its all so exhausting!  Hell, I can do it though!!! Just give me more time!

I've often wondered whether this is an affliction that only hits the female of the species? My husband is by no means lazy. He does so much of the parenting and domestic chores whilst working in a very stressful job himself and trying to support me in all I do too. Although, today we don't  have our daughter to look after. Its a respite weekend for us and one that is much needed. Instead of relaxing like I'm supposed to do I was up early this morning and took my son out suit shopping for a job interview next week. Then we went food shopping and I did some cooking, some blog chores and a few other chores that needed doing. When I finish this post I am going to do some writing and reading. My husband on the other hand is lying on the sofa snoring his head off and its only 3.30pm! I love the man dearly but right at this minute I want to beat him around the head with my laptop! Sleeping during the day? Relaxing? Chilling out? Imagine!!! What a weirdo! I did suggest at lunch time that we ignore the sleet that is lashing against the window and go for a brisk walk with the dog along the coast. The dear man looked at me like I was insane and the dog hid under the sofa!

So, there you have it! I have forgotten how to relax. Its a weird affliction and one I hope someone finds a cure for soon. I imagine however that the only cure is a week lying on a hammock on some tropical island. Unfortunately that isn't going to happen any time soon so for now I will just have to suffer on. In the meantime, I'm going to go waken my husband and drag him outside for some fresh air.............or maybe just go out for pizza and wine instead! Decisions, decisions!

Friday, 1 January 2016

2016 here I come, ready or not!



My goodness! It seems we have all found ourselves at the beginning of a brand new year! And, like every new year I always like to start with a load of unattainable resolutions, setting myself up for complete and utter failure! Why do we do that? Promises to ourselves made in the heat of alcohol induced confidence on 31st December perhaps? Or do we really want to do the things we promise ourselves? Surely if we did then we'd just go ahead and do them. Wouldn't we? Of course we would.............I think! Quite often I set myself a goal. And then I fall flat on my face! Again! But with every passing year my expectations of myself and my 'goal posts' change a little. As I become older (as I'm constantly reminded of by my step daughter), my priorities change and I want different things out of life. Sometimes squeezing into a pair of size 8 jeans doesn't seem nearly as important as losing weight simply to be healthy. Or, being a little more fashionable doesn't seem as important as being happy in my own skin. I often wonder if we never truly make a decent attempt at reaching those goals because we are actually a little bit afraid of success. What would we dream about then if we actually reached those goals? No one said life provides any easy answers. Sometimes its damn well confusing!

So, what weird and wonderful new years resolutions have I set myself this year? All of my goals for 2016 are writing related. As many of you know, I took part in NaNoWriMo in 2015 and loved every back breaking, nervous breakdown inducing moment of it. It was tough. It made me cry. It made me laugh. Most of all, it gave me a great sense of achievement and a certainty that I should always be writing. I always knew I should be. I used to write a lot but life being what it is I always had other things to do. I don't think I'm particularly brilliant at it. Writing I mean. Not life. I'm damn good at life. I've got too much of it going on! I know I'm not going to be the next great author, wowing the world with my books. I just want to do something I love. There's too much going on in my head and I need to get it out. Since I started book blogging and in turn organising virtual book tours for authors I have grown a little in confidence. I now have many author friends who I respect enormously and I see how they have overcome some of life's obstacles to reach their dreams of being published. What a fantastic group of people! What an inspiration! I also see the generosity of the book blogging world and the support given to authors and I know I'll never be alone. I'll never be without a friend for advice, guidance or a shoulder to cry on when needed.

I still have so much to learn and the idea of sharing anything with anyone fills me full of fear and trepidation. I'd rather walk across hot coals than let anyone read what was written during my NaNoWriMo adventure.  Hopefully those feelings will soon ease a little and enough to let me hit the SEND button to share my writing with someone someday. But, the one goal I can achieve and in fact have already started is that I have started rewriting the Nano book. I sat with the laptop in front of me for ages, a cold sweat breaking out. I'd put it off all day but as I started to read the first chapter I thought of so many things that I should add to it. I have re-written it a couple of times now and I probably won't look at it again until the second round of rewrites. I'm taking this slowly. One chapter at a time. That's just how I work. I'll thrash the damn book to death before I'm remotely happy with it. It may take me years but at least I'm doing it! Something I never thought would happen. I'm still struggling with the idea of calling myself a writer. Am I really? Or am I just playing at it? Is it merely only a hobby or a vocation? Are those people who love to take lots of photographs really  photographers? Am I a wine critic because I drink it by the bucket? Probably not. For now, I suppose I am a wannabe. I hate that word but there you have it!

I've also promised myself I'll start keeping a diary again. Its always something I say I'll do and usually start but never continue with. Well, I figured that by telling you about it means I have no other choice but to keep a diary and fill it full of rubbish from my brain. Because, just in case you hadn't already noticed, I like to say a lot. So, for that very reason I have a diary which only allows me one page per day. Its a way of making me more succinct in my writing I suppose and try and cut out the crap I write. I don't want a diary to be a way for me to complain bitterly about my day or bitch about someone (I have this blog for that!). I'd like to add quotes I have found or links to important writing resources. Now and again there might be the odd 'I hate you cruel world' entry in it but I'll try to keep those to a minimum! We could all do without that sort of negativity. I just need to accept that sometimes life sucks! Get over it!

Another thing I've promised I'll do is find time to enter the odd short story competition or some other writing related comp so if anyone knows of any please let me know. I think entering things like this will keep me sharp. I'm going to be on the lookout for writing prompts too. I'm one of those people who sometimes needs a nudge in the right direction. I love grabbing hold of a suggestion or idea someone comes up with and doing something with it. When I was at school all those millions of years ago I used to love being given a title or a word and told to write a short story around it. While the rest of the class groaned their disapproval of the task I was in my element.  Yes my friends think I am a weirdo and they might be right. Didn't someone once say that you have to be insane to write? Probably something to do with those voices that keep popping into your head at the most inopportune moments!

I suppose one of my biggest goals this year is to make my book tour business even more successful. I love what I do and one day it will generate enough business to allow me to stay at home full time to pursue other writing work. Someone somewhere in the big old bookish world might even offer me a job! I'd certainly give up the other job (that currently pays the bills) in a heartbeat to do something I truly love. Can you imagine a job that involves books and writing and meeting authors and attending or organising book launches! Oh I feel dizzy with excitement at the thought of it...............or is that my hormones? I am a woman of a certain age after all! I want Brook Cottage Books to be thought of as one of the best book promotion places to go to. I want to provide a warm and friendly service that feels like the natural place for authors and publishers to come to. A book home from home. One fine day I'll even learn to promote myself a bit more.  Who knows what 2016 will bring. I'm hoping it brings 40 hour days so I can fit all of my New Year goals in but I can't see that happening! Anyway, happy New Year one and all. May 2016 be the year of your dreams.