Rain, love and depression …


Well it’s been a week of rain and thunderstorms for most of the UK – widespread floods again and more rain to come. There’s something about the rain though – you all know how much I love writing in the rain, but there’s more to it than that. There’s something primal about the force of nature that always leaves me in awe. I love the loud claps of thunder cracking the sky in two overhead (even though Koda dog hates it), and I can’t help but smile when the lightening lights up the horizon. I’ll probably be shot down for this, but I like rain the best out of all weather conditions. Sunshine makes me uncomfortably warm and sticky, and this month has made me long for winter. I like the stiff breeze in autumn, and the chill of the frost in winter, and I like the way spring wakes up the world again, but rain and storms just make me want to sit and write. And since writing is something I adore then this is a good fit.

Novel wise, we are at a little over 50k words now, so well and truly past the half way point. I’m loving weaving in the secondary characters and sub plots. It just feels like it’s flowing really well, though the plot idea for novel three keeps trying to weave it’s way in so there may end up being a little more character overlap. It’s a very strange sensation writing a story that you hope one day others will read and enjoy as much as you enjoy writing it, but at the same time as writing it have ideas pop in for another story. Sometimes it means taking a step back and making sure the story is going where you want it to go, and that you’re not losing yourself in the overlaps, the characters and plots and making sure that the actual story is getting told. I do this by getting up, making a coffee, and usually doing some kind of chart to ensure I’m not letting it get away from me.

I would just like to put it out there in the internetverse (again!) that I have the best family and friends ever. Everyone’s so supportive of my writing, so patient when I’m irritable cos something won’t work, or when I want to hole up in the house, shutting myself off from the world. My hubby especially has been really good this last week. My depression has been a bit prominent this last week, making me snappy, judgemental, and generally like a bear with a sore head. I’ve not slept well due to the heat and have had a few bits on my mind, but he takes it all in his stride and lets me vent, then holds me when I’ve had enough of being mad for no reason. I think it takes a special kind of person to be the partner of a writer anyway, it can’t be easy having the proverbial door shut in your face while your other half loses themselves in a world you’re not a part of, but when the writer has depression too, well frankly, I think he must be nuttier than me!! It struck me that we don’t say the words that matter enough, and often we don’t show how we feel enough either. I made a point of telling him that without him I wouldn’t be the person I am now, and am intending to take him out for a nice meal next week, just us. Date night so to speak.

Writing’s a very therapeutic exercise, especially when my mood is low for whatever reason – focussing on the words and losing myself in that world allows my mind to focus on something other than whatever is bothering me. And when I’m done, I always get the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve added to the story and been doing something I love. I’ve always been a creative person: used to do ceramics weekly at a little place in Northallerton where I would clean off wet clay items, have them fired, and use a variety of painting techniques to complete them. I used to have loads of stuff lying around but now I only keep one piece – a native american indian with an eagle behind his head. His eyes just scream of desperation and sadness and I love it so much. I designed my own tattoos so they’re all unique and have done several designs for others too. I even went through a long phase of card making, which I’d love to get back into, if I could ever find the time again! Poetry has always been something I turn to in times of low mood, though according to the ‘professionals’ it’s not structurally correct, but I always found poetry a release for emotion, it was never meant to be about how many beats I use, or whether I had too many syllables per line. I still write poems now, though they’re not really something that I show off. Writing, or anything else that provides a release for your mind, a place you can go where no-one else can visit, can be instrumental in helping with things like depression. It’s something that helps release a bit of what is pent up inside. Many therapists use creative techniques such as writing or drawing to help patients with such disorders. If someone asked me what causes my depression, I honestly couldn’t give a good answer. I truthfully don’t know – there are factors I am aware of that subconsciously contribute, but generally I try to be upbeat and positive, even when I’m low. I don’t know the cause, but I know what helps – yes the drugs do, but so does the fact that I try not to let myself wallow and that I try and use such things as writing to help me. Why not give it a go? Next time you’re having a down day, take a moment and write down the emotions you feel in a list, then list the emotions you want to feel, then use those lists and write a sentence for each emotion where that particular emotion becomes the reason for the sentence i.e. ‘The storm clouds raced across the sky, flitting from one place to the next like the thoughts running round her head.’ The description here, a rather obvious one of thoughts racing, could be used to portray anxiety. When you’ve got the sentence, why not use it as part of a short paragraph. Before you know it, you’re on the way to writing something larger, and you may well find at the end of it that you’re mood has lifted slightly.

I’m about to make a cuppa now and make a start on my own therapeutic exercise for today – more novel writing. I hope you all have a fantastic week – mine’s pretty full this week! Picnic tomorrow with the lovely Victoria J Brown and her 2 girls (might be a car picnic the way the weathers looking but we shall see), an interview for a forensic job this week, a set of night-shifts, car repairs/service and a dentist appointment. But never fear, around all of this, I shall endeavor to write, read and have the occasional hour of downtime 🙂 Take care, and as always, thanks for reading 🙂

Networking, laughter and fun …

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What a fantastic week! I had an absolutely fab time at Harrogate Crime Festival. It’s held every year in The Old Swan hotel, and this year was my first time attending the whole thing. It’s set out in such a way that normal readers, aspiring writers and big time authors all get to socialise and meet each other and chat.

I picked up my tickets from the venue on Thursday afternoon and was surprised and pleased to be handed a book bag containing 6 novels, some of which were unedited proof copies direct from the publishers which aren’t actually due out until next month! Over the moon is an understatement and this trend continued throughout the weekend meaning I actually came home with 10 books to read!

The opening ceremony on Thursday evening saw the amazing Ruth Rendall receiving an award – 60 books written in her lifetime – what an achievement! And the 2013 Crime Writer award went to Denise Mina – now I have to be honest and say I haven’t read any of hers but she’s definitely on my to read list now.

Friday started with a guest spot with Ruth Rendall in which she was interviewed by Jeannette Winterson – it was heart-warming to watch and Ruth is a very witty and funny lady. I quickly made firm friends with another author, Eileen Wharton who lives relatively close to me, and is very encouraging and a positive person. We hung out a lot throughout the events in general. I then attended an event on Victorian Crime:Fact or Fiction – initially I was tempted not to bother with this event as I don’t write historic fiction but I got chatting in the bar to Lyndsay Faye, an american author who writes a kind of mish mash using the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes among other things. It was an insightful event and even left me tempted to consider this section of the crime genre in the future.

The next event I attended on the Friday was Social Media:Who are you – this was by far my favourite event of the day. Presented by the very funny Mark Billingham, with panel members consisting of Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Erin Kelly, Steve Mosby and Sarah Pinborough, it started with the audience being asked to live tweet – those who follow me on twitter will know I did just that! There was a lot of chatter about general social media, a little bashing of Steven Leather who, it turns out is an atrocious bully and has in fact had a campaign going since the last festival slurring the names of Steve Mosby and Sarah Pinborough – absolutely shocking behaviour from a supposedly grown man and author, and I would never purchase his books as a result.

The saturday listing was every bit as good, starting with me and Angela Davies of CSI Training and Events attending a discussion on Forensics hosted by Val McDermid and Sue Black, who is the foremost lead on Forensic Anthropology and Human Anatomy. I sat, enthralled in the whole event despite the sweltering heat and was most definitely in awe. I may even have had my mouth open a little catching flies as Sue regaled the audience with tales of prostitutes heads in buckets that she had to transport via the airways to her lab in Dundee. We then went on to attend a panel hosted by Ann Cleeves on the hit show Vera, in which the producer, screenwriter and indeed the actress Brenda Blethyn were present! Saturday led into the evening event myself and Angela had booked for, a mystery bond themed dinner! All day and all the way through the queue to get in I prayed to be on Chris Ewan’s table (there was an author for each table and I love Chris’s first crime novel Safe House) and lo and behold, we were placed on his table! We didn’t win the prize for solving the mystery but it was absolutely fantastic to sit and chat with Chris who is a lovely down to earth guy. We also got a signed copy of his latest book which pleased me muchly! We made good friends with some other people at the table, notably the wonderful Terry and Sue Wilkinson who joined us outside at the bar where we had an absolute scream. When they left for the evening, we were then joined by a very merry Sarah Pinborough, John Niven, Nick Ball (son to the lovely TV presenter Johnny Ball and brother to the pretty Zoe) and John’s german publisher. We spent a good while laughing and chatting before turning in at around 130am.

The whole event was designed in such a way to encourage interaction and socialisation. The likes of Val McDermid, Lee Child, the above named and many more just frequenting the bar area and the outside seating areas and being happy to chat or sign books. The whole atmosphere was absolutely fantastic – I came home feeling tired, happy and sad all at once! It’s funny to think that at the start of the weekend I was very nervous, in fact I spent the first part of friday morning sitting in a corner, my mouth agape as Ann Cleeves and Mark Billingham entered the bar and sat chatting. I don’t know what I’d expected, or even why I was so afraid initially, but I soon came out of my shell and started embracing the experience. I’m already planning on pre-booking for next year!

Those who read regularly may well realise that I have been in the process of creating a new Facebook profile and transferring my friends over – the reason for this is my previous profile was a personal one and I had an author page set up – unfortunately with Facebook changing the guidelines on people being able to view my posts on the page, I found that my page traffic had rapidly decreased and that my posts weren’t reaching everyone on my list. So i made the decision that one page would be the way forward – the posts will remain as they always have been when writing on my page, the majority will focus around my writing and what’s happening in that side of my life.

With everything going on this weekend, you’d think I wouldn’t have had time to write or read – but I managed both! I wrote another 4000 words on my second novel which is now a touch over half way through, and even managed a half hours reading in there too! Need to finish my current read, Hooked by Tiffinie Helmer (romantic suspense) so that I can get started on my new pile!

That’s pretty much it for this week anyway – it’s been an exciting one with lots to write about, and some of the things that happened I haven’t even mentioned despite them being exciting! (I don’t like to name drop or anything haha). The photo above was taken by myself – it’s my trusty handbag notebook with a lovely free pen courtesy of the festival. Thanks, as always for reading and have a fantastic week 🙂

Flowers, technology and happiness …

photo (2)It’s been a fantastically busy couple of weeks – yet again! I always seem to start my blogs with how busy it’s been. But it truly has! I seem to have barely had time to sit and think about blogs and what not – heavily evident by the lack of blog last week and late one this week! Anyway I digress.

Isn’t this weeks picture fantastic? For once, not taken by me or found on the internet – it was in fact taken by my good friend Michelle one morning as she finished work and travelled home. It’s an absolutely beautiful array of colour and shows great depth of field. And, it was taken on a mobile phone too! Can’t fault how far technology has progressed now can we? Even those who hate it must admit it can be an aid in normal life. I love my gadgets – have an iphone, ipad and adore my wonderful laptop. And I’m always looking for things that will help with my writing. My iphone carries an app for a dictionary that pops up daily with a word of the day – most days I know what they mean but sometimes one pops up and it throws me completely. It’s great to be able to click on the pop up and see what the word means instantly. I’ve used new words in my writing too!

My dinner party on the 4th July went very well – I decided to theme it around the good old US of A since it was the 4th July – so white and blue tablecloth and red plates were the way forward. The starter was traditional american with tiny homemade burgers with fries, and a small malted milkshake. For the main I strayed slightly from USA and dipped into Mexico by making fajitas and serving with home-made mojitos! Then desert we flew back to America and had baked strawberry and white chocolate cheesecake – again home-made of course! It went down very well and we all had a lovely night.

It’s been such amazing weather lately – my shoulders are turning a nice shade of bronze, and the other day me and Pete went out for the day to Kielder reservoir. I hadn’t been there since I was young and it was every bit as picturesque as I remember. We had a lovely day together and I took a few shots with my iphone as we wandered. I like snapping things that catch my eye as either generically pretty such as landscapes and the like, or that capture my imagination as a writer. One such pic snapped this day was a tiny toadstool sat on its own on a bed of moss – fabulous – inspires all sorts of creative thoughts around fairies and what not. I used to write a lot of children’s fiction when I was younger and this mushroom would have made the perfect location for a fairy dance! Another thing I’ve done in the nice weather was visit a car boot sale with my friend – I don’t often go to boot sales though I do quite enjoy having a mooch and seeing what people are selling. I’ve fancied a glass fruit bowl for a long time but they’re rather expensive. Fate was smiling down however, as I noticed a large crystal bowl on one of the tables. Expecting to have to haggle I politely asked how much the lady wanted – imagine my surprise when she said £1! A pound! For a heavy russian crystal fruit bowl! Naturally I pretty much snapped her hand off in my eagerness to get my mitts on it – and it cleaned up lovely and now has pride of place on the unit in the lounge.

Deciding that the horribly overgrown prickly bushes at the front of the drive were in need of a trim, I enlisted my mum (thanks mum!) to help me cut them back yesterday – now this is quite traumatic for me – I’m not green fingered at all – I manage to keep my herb garden alive but more through luck than good judgement, and I have a rose bush out the back that still lives, though goodness knows how! The other major issue I have with gardening is all the bugs – I’m allergic to wasps so I’m always petrified whenever I see something with stripes – don’t mind bees but wasps make me look like a complete idiot as I run around shouting and screaming and flapping my arms so hard you’d think I’d actually take off and fly away. And I am an arachnophobe also so anything with 8 legs is definitely something to make me back away and turn white. But, I screwed my head on, put my gloves on, grabbed my loppers and shears and set to work. Now the bush at the front is one of those with thorns often reaching over 2″ in length (no exaggeration) and are strategically placed by the bush to provide the best defence going. One of my neighbours actually made mention that ‘it’s the bush even the SAS won’t go through’ and for good reason looking at the amount of scratches and stab wounds I’m now portraying! The decision was made to cut that bad boy right to the ground – and it took 4 car loads to take the bush/trimmings to the local tip! During these trips there was one wasp that decided it liked following me – not good – so I kept running in circles round the car trying to escape – bet the neighbours thought I was nutty! Spider wise it wasn’t too traumatic – I think most had run away the minute we started chopping thankfully, though a garden spider and a couple of mini spiders did find their new home in my car rapidly taken away courtesy of my husband (thanks babe!). The garden does look lots better now though so it was definitely worth it!

And finally on to my writing – it’s been a busy fortnight there too. Having decided that I had reached my main murder (yes main, there are others) too quickly, I had a decision to make. Write some infill scenes now so the story kept flowing as I like it to, or finish writing to the end and then write insert scenes – suffice to say I don’t like leaving things to do later (for the most part) so I decided to infill. Changing the date of the murder was the first step as then I knew how much I had to fill – and I already had a mind full of ideas I’d been thinking about. It’s worked really well – both my lovely readers Rudi and Vicky agree that the scenes flow into the story well and want to know what happens next which is always a good start! It’s lovely getting back into the heads of Ben and Jacob – I loved writing Cass and Alex’s stories too but there’s something about Ben and Jacob. They’re survivors – and I adore how strong they are apart so it’ll be great to see what happens as the story progresses. The infill scenes have also provided the perfect opportunity to insert additional twists too! I love a good twist 🙂 For those who don’t follow me on facebook, feel free to give me a like – I use my facebook page to post sneaky paragraphs and other stuff about my writing. The link is on the main page of this site but you can also access it by clicking this link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-A-Richardson/117179681794105

Guess where I’m going this weekend??? HARROGATE CRIME FESTIVAL!! Yes, it’s finally here! I’m so excited as you may have gathered. The opportunity to speak with other like minded authors, and people who read crime, represent crime and publish crime is like a dream come true! There’s going to be so much going on! I’m taking my trusty ipad with me, and will post regular updates both on my facebook page and also through twitter @kerryann77 so keep an eye out! And I’ll spill all the gossip next week! I hope you all have a fantastic week too – I know I will be! Take care and keep smiling, and thanks, as always, for reading. xx