Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Memories

I’ve been looking through a load of old photos that one of my brothers canned in from a random selection found in Mum’s collection - pictures and slides dating back from when my parents were first married, to old holidays, lots of the three of us growing up - can you can imagine the memories that have popped up.

Some terrific - and embarrassing - ones of my brothers, as little boys - to me and my best friend Lin, and the only one of me that I really like of me, aged about 8, doing a (very good, though I say it myself) handstand on the beach. When my technical skills have improved, I will share this picture, but my imac won't oblige right now...!

Isn’t it wonderful how an image can provoke an instant response - for instance, that handstand, feeling the gritty wet warmth of the sand in my fingers? The thudding rush of blood to my head. Arching my back, tipping my body ever so slightly in a struggle to get the perfect balance. Stretching my feet so my toes pointed skywards, while someone - my mum probably - clicked the camera.

Other pictures - remembering my paternal grandparents. Wasn’t my grandpa a handsome man? Wasn’t my grandmother a big woman - till she had gallstones and shed lots of weight, lost her husband (he died) and she became an outspoken woman…..

Memories are such powerful things, aren’t they? They can provide a perfect trigger for novels, a poem, short story, film - anything that takes our imagination.

But this was one from yesterday, when my dear friend Jac and I took my mum out for lunch. She’s doing amazingly well for 93 - nearly 94 - and I hope I will look back on this in years to come, with very happy memories of a special lunch.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Competition and van trouble



As I write, I have just sent off my novel, The Rescue, to a competition that would be oh so amazing to win, or at least get shortlisted for. I've done all I can to get it into good shape, gone over it, had four eagle eyed friends go over it as well, and now - off it's gone into the ether. I've done all I can, now I must get on with editing the rest of it and hope for the best.

My sense of achievement was somewhat marred by not much sleep last night. A warning light came on the dashboard of my van yesterday and I was told by one mechanic, "it's probably OK to drive but we can't see it till next week," while the other one said, "could be mechanical failure and it might have to go to the Fiat dealer." You can possibly imagine why I didn't sleep much.

I rely on wheels so much, notably for walking Lainy, and seeing my fella who lives a 40 minute drive away, so as it's being looked at tomorrow, all I can do is cross my fingers and hope for the best. More crossing of fingers....

But the fella will come and pick me up tomorrow if needs be, and on Tuesday a friend of mine and I had arranged to take her car to Devon and take my mum out for lunch. So two of the bigger events are taken care of. I'm not a proud person when it comes to cars - I don't care what it looks like, or how fast it goes. I just want one that works.....

Many of my friends are having difficult times (well, who isn't, most notably in Downing Street...) but let's hope life will settle down a bit and my wheels will return to me shortly.

For escapsim, I had a James Bond session last weekend. I can feel another film weekend brewing.....

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Festive disruptions

I've borrowed this spectacular picture of sunrise at Gylly today courtesy of Gilli Matthews because a) I missed it and b) I think we all need something to cheer us up. And this is spectacular.

Are we all feeling discombobulated after the break? Every year I swear that the Christmas and New Year break won't disrupt my writing pattern - but it does. Big time.

I suppose I needed a break (as I bet we all did) and while being away from home was great, it isn't always restful. I'm glad to report that my break was. I drove down to the Lizard on Christmas Eve, into the village where the lights were shining everywhere, wound down the window and heard my fella ringing the church bells for the carol service. Neither of us is religious, but it was a really joyous sound and gladdened my heart no end.

We had a wonderfully restful time just the four of us (I include the dogs here) who, with the aid of stair gates and a crate, didn't have any disagreements, and by the time we left, several days later, they were really getting used to each other which was fantastic.

Back home and I felt so much better for having a lovely time away. But as a close friend said, "If you go up, you've got to come down," and I came down with a thump on New Year's Day. Luckily my gloom was rescued by dear friends upstairs that evening who arrived with a bottle of wine and a huge candle which we lit and restored sanity to life.

As I struggled with post Christmas lethargy, my editor got back to me with comments about Chapter One so after several days of feeling utterly exhausted, I have managed to summon up the energy to start editing again. The relief! I need to do another complete edit - and having had a week or so off is always good - and then start sending it out.

While I don't make new year resolutions, I am looking forward to getting my novel to the stage where I send it out into the agent world and hope someone else loves it as much as my editor and I do. Happy New Year everyone. Keep well and safe and if you're isolating - which I'm sure we all will at some stage - I hope it passes swiftly and without feeling rotten.

Friday, 17 December 2021

Three Cheerful Things - or at least, less depressing than the current news

Well, I don't know about you but I've had to turn off the news as the latest Covid stuff makes me very anxious. Yes, I've had my booster but it looks like we'll all get it if we haven't already had it, and there seems precious little that's cheery on the horizon.

Or is there? Well, on reflection, yes. Last week while waiting for my van to be MOTd a friend took me for brekky at the Lakeside Cafe in Helston - lovely food and as safe as it's possible to be with door wide open and a woodburner at the other end of the cafe. I was a bit chilly by the end of our meal but at least we were safe.

The idea was to get some bowls valued that my mum gave me but the guy at the gallery in Marazion had a note saying Closed please come back soon. We did but he still wasn't there, so we took Lainy for a walk and found Friendship Wood - how lovely is that? And then later on, we stopped in Helston and I found a really fabulous coat in one of the charity shops for a tenner - and I've worn it every day since.

We had a select party for four Sagittarians on the Sunday which was interesting and that is my only stab at festivities. I've been invited to others, but don't feel it's a good idea to mix other than on walks, so that's me having a quiet time. However, my fella and I will be spending Christmas Day together (covid and weather permitting) which will be lovely. Neither of us like making a big deal of it so it will be us, the dogs and plenty of walks, food and telly.

As for book news - well, my editor is having a look at my revised first three chapters plus covering letter and synopsis which will be a great help. We're not sure about the exact starting point of the novel, so I await her comments.

So to everyone out there, keep safe, hope you have enough to read and drink etc, espeically if you're isolating, and let's keep our heads down and help each other get through this dismal time. Follow Lainy's example and have another kip. Onwards....

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

The C Words and other trials

As I write, Lainy and I have just returned from a walk in the first blast of Storm Barra. Typically, now I've returned home and had to change - why are waterproof coats never, actually waterproof? - the lashing rain has stopped and the fierce gusts of wind are taking a breather.

However, it got me thinking that life is really throwing everything at us, isn't it? Not just covid - I've got to the stage where I try and avoid listening to the latest rise in cases in Cornwall, let alone the latest variants, as it's too depressing - and the rising cases of homelessness, particularly in Cornwall, but well, everything in the world seems to have gone bonkers.

Three of my closest friends have broken a shoulder, a leg and a foot (only one each, not all three), all of which take ages to recover from. Climate change is having a winter hissy fit with all these storms and I really feel for the poor people in Scotland and up north who have had days if not over a week without any power.

Then we have the added pressure of that other C word - Christmas. As my close friends know, this has been a sticky time for me - anorexia, my dad was dying of cancer when we were much younger, and then my Pip died on Boxing Day. Then I was involved with someone who frequently had family commitments away from Cornwall so he wasn't here. So it's been a bit of an uphill battle for most of my life.

However, this year I am glad to say I don't actually have that sick, gut churning dread when I think of the festive period. I despise the ruthless commercialism of it, but I don't get involved in that side of it anyway. I have had several invitations for meals, whether on Christmas Day or another day, and hoping to spend a bit of time with the Fella at some point. Of course having said that, I'll probably spend it in bed, being ill, and frantically begging people to walk Lainy for me, but at least I have a few friends I can call on for that. Whether she'd walk with them is another matter, but we won't go there now.

In other matters, I am continuing to edit The Rescue, and hoping to start sending it to agents in the new year. It's a bittersweet book to edit, given the two canine friends, but I hope it's a real tribute to Moll - and to Lainy of course, albeit for her brief appearance.

So here's to our books, whether you're reading or writing them. And a special thought for all those who are having a really difficult time this winter.

Friday, 26 November 2021

The Woman Who Felt Invisible

Today I am blogging on behalf of Lizzie Chantree, whose latest book, The Woman Who Felt Invisible, is taking part of a blog tour which I am delighted to be part of!

This is an exciting story of love, romance and tear-jerking reality, from international bestselling author, Lizzie Chantree.

Have you ever felt invisible? Working as a stationery supervisor and a sitter to a pair of internet famous, delinquent dogs, wasn’t how former cyber-specialist, Olivia, imagined her life turning out. Sitting in a tiny cubicle with a decrepit computer and being overlooked had suited her for a while, but now she’s fed up, lonely and determined to make the world ‘see’ her again. Heartbreaker, Darius, wants to fill Olivia’s days with romance and adventure, but their love of technology has taken them on very different paths, forcing her to leave her past behind. Gorgeous undercover policeman Gabe, is steadfast in finding out if Olivia is part of an online scam. Someone is stealing money from high profile men, but something doesn’t feel right and he suspects someone else is manipulating her life.

Can true love blossom from the most deceptive of starts? And can someone who feels lost, find a way to flourish against all odds?

Here is an extract, just to entice you:-

This was it. This was Olivia Tenby’s life, now. This was how low she had come. At the age of forty-one, she was sweating her guts out in a house that felt like a furnace, babysitting two delinquent Labradoodle dogs called Bertie and Belle, while their owners swanned around getting even richer somewhere else. Wiping her palms across her face, feeling glad she’d discarded her top so that she couldn’t drip on it, she pressed a button. Music blared out of speakers set into the ceiling. This house had everything – lights that came on when you spoke to them, a vacuum cleaner that tripped you over while it scurried along the floor of its own accord, and a fridge that dispensed perfectly shaped ice cubes into crystal glasses. Olivia looked around furtively for a moment, and then laughed and decided to go for it. Her job as dog sitter extraordinaire had begun two weeks ago. She’d been told to entertain the excitable animals in any way she could think of, as they were naughty and destroyed everything while the owners were out – which they always were. Olivia hadn’t even met them, which was baffling. They left her notes with instructions on how to stop the dogs eating the walls and making a mess of the thick pile carpets. She actually quite liked the job, it was as easy as walking in a straight line. Then she thought about how wobbly she always was after three vodka and cokes, and quickly pushed that picture aside. The dogs were bored and, although her job included giving the house a cursory swipe with a duster, it was always immaculate when she arrived. Something was a bit weird, though, as the place was incredibly hot. The dogs liked to slobber all over her, making her even hotter. So she’d taken to stripping off as soon as she sat down with the pooches, otherwise she’d probably pass out and be found weeks later, mummified in dog hair.

International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. Visit her website at www.lizziechantree.com or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree.

Book links: Lizzie Chantree.

Universal book buy link: The little ice cream shop: viewbook.at/IceCreamShopByTheSea Universal book buy link: Networking for writers: viewbook.at/NetworkingForWriters Universal book buy link: If you love me, I’m yours: viewbook.at/IfYouLoveMe-ImYours Universal book buy link: Ninja School Mum: viewbook.at/NinjaSchoolMumRomance Universal book buy link: Babe Driven: viewbook.at/BabeDriven Universal book buy link: Love’s Child: viewBook.at/Amazon-LovesChild Universal book buy link: Finding Gina: viewbook.at/FindingGina Shh… It’s Our Secret: https://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Chantree_Shh_Its_Our_Secret.html The woman who felt invisible: viewbook.at/InvisibleWoman

Social media links: Website: www.lizziechantree.com Author page: https://www.viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LizzieChantree/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7391757.Lizzie_Chantree Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizzie_chantree/ Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LizzieChantree/pins/ FB Groups: https://www.facebook.com/groups/647115202160536/ BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/lizzie-chantree LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/lizziechantreeauthor YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCop-RlAcGqggZG3JfE-Mw

Friday, 19 November 2021

Progress

Most of us tend to be dismissive of our achievements, however small they may be, and sometimes may not even notice them.

Last weekend I went up to see my mum and also meet up with my dear friend, Av, who I have known for many years. As she lives in Dorset, we meet up about twice a year, and now to meet mum and also have a catch up ourselves. The first time this year was at the end of June when both Lainy and I were a bit stressed (to put it mildly) as she had just had a crash course in wearing a muzzle, had never stayed in a town, let alone a B&B, and hadn't met Av before.

Lainy did very well but it was quite testing shall we say. Now, four months on, I was delighted when both Av and Laura, who owns the B&B and also has a rescue dog, commented on how much calmer and relaxed Lainy is. She doesn't like the muzzle much, but she's got used to wearing it when we're out, and most of the time I don't think she notices. We also took her to the pub while we had their excellent Pie and a Pint (or glass of wine in our case) for £9 and again she took it in her stride.

And to see her running around the woods, chasing squirrels and a few pheasants, was nothing short of joyous.

She still has problems, of course, but it's so encouraging when other people comment on her progress. It means all that hard work is worth it.

On that note, I am nearing the end of the most recent edit since the freelance editor read it. She didn't suggest changing much - essentially starting at a different place and changing the ending slightly, but I am really enjoying doing it. Apart from those days that we all have, when we wonder what the hell we're doing and why.... but that's part of being a writer.

I am now going off with my mate Jac for a few days' break. Our holiday to Devon had to be postponed till next year as she hasn't been able to drive, so I found somewhere in a quiet valley to walk, read and indulge in some R&R for a few days. Here's to holidays!