Monday, 13 November 2017

CTST update: book launch

You knew it was coming and here it is: Nine Lives: Monologues and first-person stories for reading aloud is now available to buy online from the Amazon Kindle store here or in paperback direct from me. I was going to share this on Friday, but I didn't have the books in my grubby little hands and didn't want to tempt fate.
Here's the back-cover blurb: 
Meet the cast: a no-nonsense woman in her 60s who has a brush with authority; a down-at-heel private eye; a weary young mother from times past; a Victorian businessman afraid of progress; an Edwardian woman with her heart set on romance; a young man struggling with life; a teenage girl badly let down; a very special make-up artist; and a young mum who gets the last laugh. Each has a story to tell.  
Now, I don't mind if you read these stories aloud or keep them in your head. Either way, feel free to be creative with the voices. You might hear something different from the ones that were on my mind when I wrote the stories
As always, I'd love to hear your comments.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Celebrate the small things 10/11

What can I say about this week? There are potential celebrations on the horizon, but it's too soon to share them with any confidence. I'll let you know when I know. 

Instead, I'll just tell you this. Coming out of yoga on Tuesday into the pouring rain, a couple of us grumbled about the cold. One woman put us all in our place: 'I don't mind it,' she said. 'I'm just glad to be alive.'  Will that do for today?

Have a good weekend, folks.

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. (You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. )

Sunday, 5 November 2017

A story for bonfire night

Some time ago I wrote a 100-word story for a competition organised by writer Morgen Bailey. If you're not familiar with her, I strongly recommend you pop over to her website here. In fact, if you visit today (5th November) you can download one of her books free of charge. Anyway, my little story was highly commended, so I won one of Morgen's online courses. Since it was on the theme of fireworks, it seems appropriate to share it today:


She clutched his hand beneath the canopy of colour and light, as the explosions illuminated families and friends, and other couples just like them, their gasps visible in the autumn chill. They felt the energy poised to be released, hanging in the air and eager to be tasted and absorbed. Then at last it exploded in unexpected and delightful ways. The next morning, the damp grass was littered with debris where expectation had come down to earth. She picked her way through the empty tubes and fallen rockets, avoiding soot and scorch marks, reminders of last night’s anticipation now spent.

*A type of firework. An effect that hangs and trails in the air not unlike a willow, often strobing or twinkling. Commonly used in finale sequences to fill the sky with long-lasting effects that often persist to near ground level.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Celebrate the small things

I have a rather surprising celebration today. About a month ago, I took a phone call Geraldine from the Nectar Points helpline. She wanted to check my address because, she said, I'd won a prize in one of Sainsbury's Swipe to Win competitions.

In case you're not familiar with this, every so often Saisnbury's will send out marketing emails about various promotions and to take part all you have to do is click 'I'm In' or somesuch and put in your Nectar card number. Then when you buy the qualifying product in store you are automatically entered into the draw. I generally click to say I'll enter regardless of what I'm expected to buy and then think no more about it.

Anyway, Geraldine told me I'd won a 40-inch Samsung TV. Yeah right, I thought. This must be a prank.  But no: a TV has been delivered! I must have bought a Cadbury's product at just the right time. I'm not really a material girl, but I'm not sending the TV back!

Have a good weekend, folks.
If you would like to join this bloghop, send your details to  and she will do the necessary.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Lights, camera, action!

I had a bit of fun this morning when I popped into town to record a video interview for a colleague's website. He runs a company that helps author's self-publish and asked me if I'd do a little testimonial for him, which I was happy to do.

So notwithstanding that I'm desperately in need of a haircut and received wisdom says a middle-aged face doesn't look its best until noon, I was there at half-nine doing a Q&A in front of the camera. I can stand up and speak to a room of yoga students without a script, but was quite nervous about the prospect of answering some basic questions about a subject I know well. Anyway, I did it and the chaps seemed pleased, so that's that.

Only about 30 seconds will be used and I'll wait to see the results before I decide whether or not to post a link.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Another year on planet earth

I'm delighted that this year the clock's have fallen back on my birthday, so I have an extra hour to spend celebrating. Mr Thorley is cooking me homemade pizza and lemon drizzle cake, and this evening we are going to the Royal Theatre in Northampton for a ghost walk. Spooky!

Every birthday is an opportunity to reflect, as well as look forward. Here are five things I thought I'd be able to do by now:

  • Slice bread without creating a triangular loaf
  • Choose wine by its label, not its price
  • Check my car's tyre pressure
  • Walk down stairs in high heels
  • Peel an orange using just my fingernails without getting juice all the way up to armpits.
I am still a work in progress.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Celebrate the small things

I've only had one work deadline this week, which was to write an article for the Christmas issue of  Smallholder magazine. Once that was done, I was able to catch up on a few bits and pieces that I had set aside 'for when I get a minute'. I am celebrating efficiency.

My online FutureLearn blues piano course is up and running. Despite the blurb saying we need a couple of hours a week for this, it's clear I need to work much harder than that if I'm to keep up. I've recorded and uploaded my first attempt at improvising for the comments of my fellow learners. They have been kind. This week's challenge has been to play 7th 10ths, which means putting my little finger on a C and stretching my thumb all the way up to the E that is ten notes away, while also putting a finger on the flattened 7th note, B-flat. Still with me? Let's just say it's a bit much for my small hands. I am celebrating determination.

Mr Thorley and I were invited out for a meal last Sunday with some Bahai friends to mark the bicentenary of the birth of their faith's founder, Baha'u'llah. I'm not a follower, but amongst its key teachings is 'The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens' and 'So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.' Isn't that sensible? I am celebrating tolerance.

Have a good weekend, folks.

If you would like to join this bloghop, send your details to  and she will do the necessary.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Do you like what you see?

Well, do you? Or at least are you intrigued? I've posted this picture as a blatant plug for my other blog, called Yoga? Here's what I'm thinking, which I have restarted today after nearly a year away from it. I know you're not all going to be interested, but if you do have a moment to hop over and say hello I'd be pleased to see you - and there's more pictures!


Friday, 20 October 2017

Celebrating the small things again

Today I'm celebrating the end of my pastels course. Not because I'm glad it's over: just the contrary. I'm celebrating that I managed to stick with it and produce something reasonable. I'm planning to keep going at home and try to refine my skills.

Seeking inspiration
The other thing I'm celebrating is learning a new way of working. The choreographer we've been working with at the dance-theatre group sessions has introduced us to the idea of moving, then writing, then moving again. To explain: we visited a disused church, which we explored in our own time and plotted a route around, connecting elements that struck a  chord. Later, we re-created our route in the school hall where we rehearse. Next we had to write down a list of words that came to mind when we followed that route, then we took some of those key words and turned them back into movement. Honestly: I've never felt such a luvvie!

My task for the weekend is to review the proofs for Nine Lives. What are you up to? I'd love to hear from you.

If you would like to join this bloghop, send your details to  and she will do the necessary.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Small isn't always beautiful

The first of two workshops I went to on Saturday as part of Birmingham Lit Fest was hosted by Mslexia's editor Debbie Taylor, who I'm afraid didn't make a very good impression on me. She wanted to postpone the start in case anyone arrived late (a suggestion that was firmly quashed by the organisers!); she had rushed to get there and told us she hadn't had time to read through her notes: and when she did start talking she realised she was using the wrong notes! And she didn't know how long the session was supposed to last. Most unprofessional, I thought.

Anyway, the theme was: Meet the editors - specifically, the brains behind a selection of small press publishers. The panel comprised:
What was clear was that running a small press is a labour of love. All the speakers were keen to point out that they don't make any money. In particular, Carlotta said that despite not taking any advertising and not charging for the online edition, she still pays her contributors. OK, only a fiver a time, but still. That's just crazy!

Nor should you think that you stand a better chance of being accepted by a small publisher. Each was oversubscribed, whether operating a submissions window or an open-door policy.

Certainly the books on show were lovely, but I came away thinking that if you can't get a deal with a mainstream publisher, why not simply self-publish?

Does anyone have any experience of these or other small press publishers?

Friday, 13 October 2017

Celebrations for Friday The Thirteenth

Actually, I'm not superstitious about the date. It's just another day, (she says with her fingers crossed).

After the flurry of booty last week there have been no prizes or surprises this week. I've worked hard to clear the decks, though, because tomorrow I'm off to Birmingham Literature Festival for a couple of workshops in the Library.

Coming soon!
One of the main jobs today has been to deliver a manuscript to the printers. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and coming painfully close to getting a short story collection accepted by a conventional publisher, I have decided to go it alone. You can be sure I'll let you know when it's available.

Right, that's it. I'm off for an evening of mindless TV. Have a good weekend, folks.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

This should have been posted on Friday...

... but time got away from me. I've had several reasons to celebrate in the last week or so. First off, it was number two son's birthday, which we celebrated with champagne and apple crumble. Odd, do you think?

I am Star Letter in the November issue of Writing Magazine, for which I am to receive a copy of the WAYB, which is definitely worth having.

I was highly commended in the Birmingham Lit Fest flash fiction comp, for which I receive nothing, but my story will be online in due course. I'm going to the festival on Saturday, as it happens.

Most astonishing of all, those of you who have been following my staggering steps as a fledgling artist will be as surprised as I was to learn that my Pollock piece (details here) was judged to be the best in the exhibition. I know! I went along to the Rooftop Gallery on Thursday for tea and cake, where I was given a potted rose and a certificate. I'm that chuffed!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Distance lends enchantment to the view - sometimes

Talent takes time to develop
At art class yesterday, we were pondering about meaning in pictures and whether the artist had in mind all those subtleties that we pick up on. Was he really thinking about eternity, say, or did he just want to paint a nice view? Was the symbolism intentional or is it just our interpretation, based on learned responses? What does it all mean, if anything?

We wondered if any of the greats ever looked at their old sketchbooks and thought, 'Wow, I really couldn't draw hands back then!' Or at some of their finished works and couldn't remember what inspired them, or why they'd felt so gloomy that day.

I've been looking over some of the stories and articles I've written over the years with the idea of reusing them in a couple of books and other projects. Some have stood the test of time and will need little attention. Others have made me think, 'That's better than I remember it.' Others still, 'What was I thinking!'

Growing up isn't about getting older, it's about learning and developing.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Celebrating the small things: goodbye, September

Despite the dire warnings from the weatherman, today has been a lovely autumn day with light winds and bright sunshine - what you'd call a 'good drying day' if you were a proper housewife.

It has been an uneventful week. It's always worth acknowledging it when nothing has gone wrong! I ventured back to a dance fitness class on Monday for the first time in many, many weeks. Same teacher, but a new venue and a new style. Goodbye, Zumba: hello, SOSA! Have you come across this? It loosely means solo samba, but I'd describe it more as Zumba Lite. It's got all the lovely Latin beats, but it's low impact. To be honest, it was a bit tame, but it no doubt did me more good than sitting on the settee.

I went for a routine midlife MOT with the practice nurse this morning, where I was pleased to learn  that my BMI, waist measurement and blood pressure are spot on. I might celebrate this evening with a glass of wine, which I'm sure is beneficial to my wellbeing.

As always, I'd love it if you could leave me a comment. Have a great weekend, folks.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

We can't be good at everything - or can we?

Today, I posted on Facebook:

Well, I've just had my second art class and can say with confidence that I can't draw roses. On the plus side, though, the teacher has put me in charge of the tea and coffee, so I shall have to go back next week.

I was immediately chastised by my artist friend Lorraine for saying can't, to which I replied that what I should have said was that I haven't managed to draw one yet. I've also had some supportive comments about hanging on in there, and I shall stick it out - it's only a five-week course - but it's a real challenge. You know that place in the distance, that place so far away you can hardly see it? Well, just beyond that is my comfort zone.

Why do I put myself through these things? Because I can, that's why. Because unless I try, I'll never know. Do think my timid eight-year-old self struggling to play 'Home Sweet Home' on the piano would have thought it possible that she'd one day play Chopin's 'Raindrop Prelude', with its five-flats key signature? Hell, no! And yet, eventually, she did - and still can.

Theodore Roosevelt said, 'It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.' I'm still not going to post a picture of my rose, though! These are Van Gogh's - but I bet he couldn't play in D-flat.

Pic: National Gallery of Art, Washington

Sunday, 24 September 2017

A question of art

For as long as I can remember, my mother has owned a print of a picture called 'After Marriage' by Edouard Debat Ponsan. It shows a young couple strolling down a country lane while behind them walk two cattle, yoked together. The symbolism slaps you in the face, but it is a pleasant enough image.

We have always thought there must be a companion picture and, sure enough, an internet trawl revealed that Ponsan did indeed paint another picture called, 'Before Marriage'. It would be lovely to have a copy of this picture so the pair could be displayed together.

The problem, though, is that there is none to be had, not even for ready money. There are plenty of his other prints on sale, but not the one I want, which is most frustrating. The best I've been able to do it right-click and save an image* of it, but this doesn't really suffice.

So, if you see it for sale anywhere at a rummage sale or if you happen upon it on eBay or some such, be a dear and let me know. Thank you.

*Obviously I have reproduced this image without the permission of the copyright holder. If that is you, forgive me.