Friday, 1 December 2017

Celebrating the small things in December

I have cause this week to celebrate some wonderful and supportive friends: you know, the sort you can ring and say 'Have you got a minute?' and they always have. I won't go into details because they relate to stories that aren't mine to tell, but let's just say I'm glad they were there when I needed them. Things look so much better when you've had a rant and a cuppa.

That's it for today. Have a good weekend, folks.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Noises off

Following the excellent day I spent with Bridget from Wild Words recently, I've been focusing on covering all the senses in what I write. Sight and sound are the easy ones; touch isn't too difficult; but smell and, especially, taste are proving to be a bit of a challenge. I was writing a piece of fiction yesterday about someone sitting in a traffic jam (trust me: it's more exciting than it sounds) and couldn't think of a way to bring taste into it without really forcing it. 'He ran his tongue over his teeth and remembered that morning's fried breakfast' is lame and just a little bit unpleasant.

Anyway, I've been aware of sound in unexpected places over the last couple of days. In my yoga classes, for instance, I have a lady who insists that the gentle purring sound we often hear during relaxation isn't her. She says she even stays awake so she can work out who it is! Trust me on this, too: it's definitely her.

If you watched Would I Lie To You? this week, you will have heard Sheila Hancock telling a story about one of her stage appearances being interrupted by an audience member's attack of hiccups. (I won't spoil it by saying if her tale was true or a lie.)

Well, on Sunday, Mr Thorley and I went to hear the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Northampton for a concert that was brought to us by the letter B, featuring Brahms, Beethoven and Bruch. The gentleman sitting next to me, a jovial fellow who filled his seat well, was a hummer. I don't mean he was smelly, but that he kept joining in. Rather than being annoyed by this, I found it hard not to laugh out loud. Clearly, he was singing along in his head, but every now and then a bit of music escaped. It was just a little snatch of maybe three or four notes and I'm sure he didn't know he was doing it.

Bless him. He may well appear in a story one day.

Friday, 24 November 2017

CTST as November draws to a close

Today I'm celebrating a week where I've been connecting and reconnecting with  people. (I wrote about this on my yoga blog here, too.)

On Monday I went to see a friend I made when I had my first proper publishing job many moons ago. It was lovely to catch up and to meet his fiancee. On Tuesday I had a cuppa with a yoga friend and then another friend popped in for a chat, too. I've also had a regular so-called working lunch with a fellow freelance. As if that wasn't enough, I've also had an email from the wife of my cousin out of the blue for no reason other than to say hello.

This is all good stuff, and when the world is going slightly mad for Black Friday it's been a useful reminder about what is really important.

Have a good weekend, folks.

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

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Words, words and more words

John Clare, peasant poet

Thursday evening and I'm sitting in the Lighthouse Theatre, Kettering, waiting to see Dr John Cooper Clarke. He was ably supported by Toria Garbutt and Luke Wright. Check them out on You Tube so see how performance poetry should be done. Incredible (but a bit sweary!).

Friday evening and I'm the Shared Church in Ringstead, watching a one-man performance of 'I Am John Clare', a beautifully written (by Stephen Loveless)  and performed (by Robin Hillman) piece of word art.

Then yesterday, Saturday, I spent the day in the beautiful Suffolk town of Lavenham (aka Godric's Hollow, Potter fans), taking part in a creative writing workshop led by Bridget Holding of Wild Words, meeting lovely people, sharing ideas and coming away inspired.

Can there be a better way to pass the time?

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!