Featured post

Seven weeks to go …

 

 

 

 

!HH2blog image

Yes, it’s me. The world’s worst blogger. Despite all my good intentions, I never seem to find time to write anything (apart from my books). And the black hole that is social media – Facebook and Twitter – sucks me in relentlessly every day.

The good news is that I’ve finished The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part Two. It’s off for proofreading and publication date is set for March 21. A bunch of lovely book bloggers have already signed up to spread the word (and hopefully post some nice reviews).

Speaking of reviews, I’ve been doing a lot more of them myself. Since becoming – ahem – an author, I now appreciate how much they mean to writers. So my plan is to share some of them with you.

I’m starting with ‘A Part of Me and You’ by the lovely Emma Heatherington. I say lovely, because we have had some nice exchanges on Twitter. I read her previous book, ‘The Legacy of Lucy Harte’, through book club some time ago and really enjoyed it. But, be warned, they both require tissues at hand! Click on the link here:  A Part of Me and You

If you haven’t yet read The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part One, you can click on the link here The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part One to check it out. And please, please leave a review if you can. Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

Advertisements

A laugh-out-loud tale of love, lies and second chances …

‘Just the sort of book to relax with on holiday … funny and moving.’

‘A must have.  Feel as if I know the characters.’

‘Surprising and hilarious … a perfect read.’

Make sure you grab a copy now and join the Amazon reviewers above who loved A Clean Sweep. And please let me know what you think by commenting here or on my Facebook page. Get on board now for a rollercoaster read that will make you giggle, cringe and cry and is guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face. Thank you!

PS Hoping this shows up correctly this time. Technology is not my best friend LOL

 

 

Be careful what you wish for …

Almost 15K words into my latest book (that’s about a fifth of a complete novel), and getting bogged down with too many distractions. Figuring out how to keep promoting my current books – without spending a fortune – engaging too much on Twitter/Facebook and reading one of many fabulous books downloaded on my Kindle. Currently https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shape-Us-hilarious-emotional-laughter-ebook/dp/B07GXM5ZB7/ by Drew Davies which publishes next month. A quarter in, and have enjoyed many a good giggle so far.

The image below will give you a clue about the subject matter of my Work in Progress. And it got me wondering – if you could be granted one wish, what would it be? Aside from the obvious ones like world peace, an end to famine and suffering and for aliens to swoop down and take Donald Trump to a galaxy far, far away …

Right now my wish is simple. To get to the end of this book before I go back and tear it to pieces. And hope that both my boys make it home for Christmas this year (it’ll be lonely without them). Assuming I’ve been granted three, I’ll have to ponder what the last one should be.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Last night I listened to ‘Never Had a Friend Like Me’ by the late, great Robin Williams from the movie Aladdin and it made me both happy and sad. Happy that I had the privilege of enjoying his amazing warmth and humour, sad that he left us over four years ago. Look after your mental health and reach out to someone if you ever feel you’re struggling. Until the next time …

Could Christmas be postponed?

So, it’s early October and I’m vacillating between vests and shorts/jeans and jumpers. Having returned from a (mainly) warm trip to Italy and France – except for Le Mistral, will never dismiss that as a gentle breeze again – we’re about to BBQ. Marinated filet de sanglier (aka wild boar) and chicken with a dash of Reggae Reggae sauce. I’d like to catch up with SCD but OH is on a refusal. Too many sequins and dodgy footwork. Will sneakily catch up during the week.

Since my return, I’ve been posting book reviews and trying to make some inroads with my WIP. Having had some lovely feedback from a publisher, I feel more motivated but every page written is riddled with self doubt. Is it good? Is it funny? Will anyone want to read it? Can I actually produce another 60K words or so? To be continued …

Back to the whole review/helping others/avoiding my own MS conundrum. I’ve been trying to give feedback to a fellow author in terms of punctuation/grammar etc, as well as helping a newbie writer friend overcome her anxiety attacks over early chapters. And I’ve realised how much of a community I’ve discovered, through FB, Twitter & my sojourn to Tuscany last month. Writing is a solitary pursuit, but I feel blessed to have so many lovely, talented people on side.

As for the C word, (no, not that one), I wish we could pass a law making it illegal to sell baubles and tinsel or for John Lewis to release sappy adverts until at least the end of this month. Seriously, Easter, Halloween and Christmas are in danger of becoming one homogenised celebration. Eggs, pumpkins and turkeys whipped together. Doesn’t that sound revolting?

I’m now going to search for a random image of my shenanigans over the past weeks. And I’d very much like to hear your thoughts on … anything, really. Just to know my random ramblings are being received. Until the next time …

IMG_1317.JPG

My protector in Aigues-Vives, France. Not religious, but she deserves her place.

Endings … and new beginnings

Home now in my sleepy Swiss village, which feels more like a buzzing metropolis after the total tranquility of the whole Tuscan writing experience. A long day – with a 5.30 am rise – and me gently (noisily) snoring in the car as hubby drove the long journey via the Saint Bernard Tunnel.

Day Seven was all about endings, editing and how to get yourself published. I already am, but there was plenty of food for thought about other routes – finding an agent, approaching publishers and joining organisations such as the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). I’ve come away with copious notes, both printed and hand-written, which I will read again in the coming weeks and hopefully be able to put some of the advice into practice.

The Last Supper wasn’t biblical, but was certainly tinged with sadness, laced with plenty of laughter which was a recurring theme throughout the week. The Flash Fiction competition winner was announced, with absolute beginner Sue declared the worthy recipient of the prize. I got to read out her husband Tony’s piece – also excellent – and there were murmurings they were actually a best-selling writing duo dropped in as decoys. Whatever, they are now friends for life, as are all who took part. With a special mention to my ‘roomie’ Karel who proved a dab hand at illicit wine-opening when we sneaked back to our quarters for a nightcap. (We did pay, honest!)

Our final meal was another mouth-watering feast provided by Angela and Maurice. They are most definitely the hosts with the most, making sure we all felt completely at ease. Welcoming a bunch of almost total strangers into your home for seven days is no mean feat, but they made it a trip to remember.

What next? Well, we’re all going to keep in touch and share any snippets of knowledge that might come in useful. I will get back to my WIP and survive on water and Weetabix for the next few days (or go shopping for elasticated waist trousers). Write Away in Tuscany was a totally new experience for me (and for most of us), but I absolutely loved every writing task-filled, calorie-laden bit of it.

IMG_1261

The awesomely amazing Angela who made it all happen. Grazie mille!

Day Five (and Six)

Day Five began with Sonja leading a tutorial on dialogue and how it can – and should – be used. We also looked at Point of View which brought to mind my early scribblings and how I used to be a serial ‘head hopper’. As always, everyone had something to contribute and learn from the discussion. We all had fun writing pieces using dialogue with a prompt from Sonja, some of which could easily lead to a short stories or even a full-length novel.

The evening – surprise, surprise – featured more food and two Alp-sized bowls of spaghetti puttanesca and carbonara. We valiantly munched our way through as much as we could manage, bearing in mind the ‘light lunch’ in store the next day. And I managed to reduce the table to hysterics when innocently commenting on a ‘mass debate’ on Twitter about the correct pronunciation of ‘scones’. I’ll let you all puzzle over that one …

Day Six focussed on Psychic Distance (I’m still convinced that involves headscarves and crystal balls) and Show Vs Tell. We were also each given a photo or picture and asked to come up with either a short story or a mind map. Again, plenty of material to be developed at a future date.

On to the lunch at L’Erbhosteria, only served on Sundays and requiring a stomach worthy of Mr Creosote in Monty Python’s ‘The Meaning of Life’. Approximately twelve courses, including – tagliatelle with fresh porcini; creamy soup made with bladder campion; lightly battered borage leaves (beats Walkers crisps any day); polenta fritters with truffles; guinea fowl and ricotta and chocolate cake. ‘A waafer-thin mint’ would certainly have led to a messy explosion!

Needless to say, everyone was very subdued that evening and I retired to nurse my ‘food baby’ and sip a glass of grappa (purely for medicinal purposes). Everyone handed in their 500-word piece of Flash Fiction, the winner to be announced on the final evening. To be continued …

 

The Write Away team waiting expectantly for their food. Little did they know what was in store …

Edible flowers and leaves. Almost too pretty to eat.

Day Three (and Four)

 

 

 

Apericena in Montebotolino

With fellow writer Karel in Arezzo. Excuse ugly red van.

II

 

I

I I  I-will start this post by saying that 50% proof, plum-based fennel liqueur is delicious but not totally conducive to writing a coherent blog. Add in a bit of red wine, a ton of yummy food and it’s safe to say that I slept well at the end of Day Three. And was completely unable to post anything, hence the combining of two days’ worth of activity.

It was a greyer, cooler day in Tuscany, but nonetheless a pleasant one. Our first ‘double session’, with the morning focussed on creating credible characters and putting them into action. We somehow landed (excuse the pun) on pest controllers and I flew with a wasp exterminator loosely based on real-life experience. Again, I was amazed at how diverse and interesting the responses were.

The afternoon was spent on many areas, including ‘setting’, where we had to describe a place we’d never been and have the others guess the location. I came unstuck here and wrote something so appallingly bad I couldn’t share it. The good thing is, we can choose to opt out of things (as a fellow writer did), if we don’t feel comfortable. It’s meant to be enjoyable and productive, not an authors’ boot camp where you feel humiliated and despondent if you don’t complete every assignment. (But I did feel a little annoyed with myself for hitting a brick wall).

Dinner wasn’t actually ‘dinner’ but ‘Apericena’ a shortish drive but a world away in Montebotolino hosted by the lovely Antonella. It was like stepping back in time, to a slower pace and simpler ways. As well as the aforementioned ‘fire water’, we sampled a frittata baked with nettles, melt-in-the-mouth pork and Angela’s calorie-free (ha, ha) apple cake topped with a squirt of canned cream.

Day Four was our ‘day off’, with an hour-plus drive to the beautiful city of Arezzo with its stunning hilltop cathedral, Piazza Grande and a hotchpotch of shops ranging from antique stores and tourist meccas to high-end boutiques and shops plying all manner of yummy food stuffs. I came away with a pretty necklace (reduced from 20 to five Euros) and some truffle pastes to add a bit of Tuscan oomph to pasta dishes. Having broken up into different groups, four of us ended up in a charming restaurant where I chose a rabbit dish which simply melted in the mouth.

Clearly not having eaten enough, dinner was a five-course feast at Il Casalone (my digs for the week). Despite feeling like something from the Herman Melville novel, I ate every bit and went to bed nursing yet another food baby. Still, a shot of Spinello (a digestif) helped (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it).

We’re already well into Day Five, but I’ll write more tomorrow. Suffice to say that we are working hard – honestly! – and I feel much more positive about my writing despite a couple of recent wobbles. A domani!

Day two

Another glorious day in the Tuscan countryside, starting with a light breakfast and a steep and dew-soaked shuffle down to join the other writers for the first ‘proper’ session. Tutor Sonja provided us with a list of book ‘beginnings’ by well-known authors (unidentified). We had to choose one, then spend twenty minutes or so writing our own stories prompted by one of these openers. Silence reigned as we all scribbled away furiously – or gazed into space for a while – before taking turns to read our pieces aloud. It was incredible how the same opening lines provoked such different narrative threads within the group. And each and every one – particularly those who had never written before – were greeted with applause and could well be developed into full-length stories.

Following coffee and tea, we were then asked to come up with a title (time and place) and brainstorm lists of possible situations/details/conflict triggers. A couple of us were less comfortable with this exercise and my mind was initially blank. When I did come up with something, it relied too heavily on personal experience and lead to a minor wobble. Still, it worked well for others even if I’d have preferred another form of ‘exercise’ (we’d joked earlier about Sonja getting us to hit the ground and do fifty press-ups).

Lunch followed, before people drifted off to either dip their toes in the river, continue chatting or – in my case – recline on a sun lounger. I was mulling over plot ideas, honest!

Now, after a sweaty and uphill climb back to the accommodation, I can reflect on the start of the course and what I’ve learned so far. Chiefly, that we are all very different but with much to gain from each other. Regardless of age, background or writing genre, the common thread is a love of the written word and the realisation that nothing we write is a waste of time. Also, that a simple sentence, an overheard conversation or a glimpse of a random stranger can be enough to trigger a marvellous flight of fantasy where the only limits are our own imaginations.

This evening will be another chance to chat and drink a glass of wine (or three) over a barbecue provided by the magnificent Angela and Maurice. It’s hard to believe that Angela and I only met for the first time yesterday, despite being ‘virtual’ friends through Facebook since late last year. And I hope I am also forging other lasting friendships, even if Sonja teases me a little (and Maurice asked if all writers were lazy). Hmm, might just need a pre-dinner snooze …

Day2morning

The authors all looking suitably studious (that’s me at the back on the right, doing something with my ear).

Day One

Delivered by my darling husband to Bologna Airport to rendezvous with other arrivals, then a two-hour car journey in the delightful company of Maurice to begin the ‘Write Away in Tuscany’ adventure. And what a location – a restored watermill situated by a meandering river, surrounded by the glorious countryside of the Apennines.

A gentle start, with a light lunch featuring home-grown tomatoes, delicious cheese and juicy peaches and grapes (and a glass of vino for the thirsty). Then it was on to introductions. Some already well into their writing journey, others at the start, but all keen to learn from tutor, Sonja.

Now I’m typing away at a small desk in my room in a charmingly rustic agriturismo just a short walk from the main location. We already have a task in hand – to write a 500 word piece of Flash Fiction for a competition – winner to be announced at the end of the week.

In just over an hour, we’ll meet for drinks on the terrace, followed by dinner and – I hope – a long, deep sleep.

(And, if I need to say a little prayer, there’s a tiny church right outside in the grounds of the property).IMG_1254