Monthly Archives: September 2013

Flowers, inspiration and feelings …

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It’s been another busy week in Kerry-land. Obviously there’s been work, and I had an attachment with the coroners officer which was really interesting. Definitely gives a greater awareness of what happens in other departments when they allow you to flit around a little.

My husband and I celebrated our 4th Wedding Anniversary this week also. We got flowers off parents, and Peter bought me a lovely bunch of flowers and, bless him, he cleaned the house from top to bottom so I wouldn’t have to do any cleaning on my days off this week. I made us a very tasty 3-course meal, hot wings for starter, steak and all the trimmings for main, and lemon tart for desert. We spent the evening together and had a lovely time.

Also had the engagement party for one of the god-kids (well not actual god-kids but that’s how I see them and they all call me Aunty Kerry). Engagement though – they grow up so fast. I still remember babysitting and having to tell Tilly off for being late in for tea! And melting mars bars in a big bowl and sitting with the kids around the coffee table in the living room and dunking digestives into the bowl of melted goodness. The kids used to love that!

The picture on today’s blog was taken in Durham on a day out with mum this week. I love it when random pieces of wood lodge in the silt under water and look like they’re growing. We had a lovely day in Durham, perusing the shops, wandering and going on the river boat cruise. I love cruises, there’s something about being sat in a boat on the water. It’s very inspiring – actually, anything to do with water is inspiring, as you’ll see when book 3 starts! 

I had a message this week from an old friend who has been having a tough time of late – it was a lovely message. One of those that you read and it makes you go ‘awww that’s gorgeous’ whilst putting a hand to your chest and trying not to fill with tears. It basically said that she (and I’m purposefully not mentioning names to avoid embarrassment) had been having a really tough time culminating in some time off work sick with depression. She said that she read my posts on facebook all the time and that she found them inspiring and was trying to use them to increase her positivity and self-confidence, and that she wanted to say thank you for posting them. In this day and age, we are not always open about our feelings, especially during darker times. I am glad that my posts can be seen as inspirational and encouraging, it was one of those moments that make it worth being a writer. OK so no book sales yet, but a lovely lady using my posts in her time of need to help her feel better is amazing. I’m glad to say she has returned to work and has support to help her through her depression.

Depression is such an awful thing, people are ashamed if they have it and I know the same can be said for any mental disorder. I am open about mine because it is not something to be ashamed of. It is a mental disorder that is suffered by 1 in 4 people in the UK – that means if you work in a room of at least 4 people, then at least one of your colleagues will suffer this at some point, or perhaps even you yourself. On dark days it can feel as though nothing can pull you up, you sink so low that the slightest thing can make you cry. For me, being the softy that I am, it’s anything to do with animals or children. You become snappy and irritable and the stupidest thing seems like a huge problem. Sleep is disturbed, for me it’s complete lack of sleep but for others they sleep deeply for very long periods and don’t want to get up. You can either start comfort eating, or go off food completely. And you don’t want to interact with others, retreating into your shell. There are other symptoms too, general tiredness and aches, headaches, the feelings that you just want to get through the day cos you know tomorrow will be better, a need to drink alcohol to numb the pain you’re feeling, feelings that you want to end it all as the world will be better without you in it, seriously I could go on.

I know lots of people with depression, the figure of 1 in 4 is pretty incorrect in my life. Most of my friends, my family and extended acquaintances have depression, anxiety or other mental disorders. But there is one thing all of them have in common. They’re all still here, they’re coping with their feelings day to day, sometimes even hour to hour, and they’re doing what they can to get past it. Nobody wants to be depressed or anxious, a lot of the time there doesn’t even appear to be a reason for feeling that way, it’s one of those things that hits when you least expect it. For me, it’s about recognising the symptoms and asking for help as soon as you can. It’s about accepting the help, and knowing that you can rely on other people to talk to you, it’s getting out of the house so you’re not stuck inside looking at 4 walls – nature is amazingly healing. There are so many things to see just by going for a walk, and these things can help lift your mood. It’s noticing the little things, like the sun in the sky, the clouds passing by, the rain on the windows, the wind rustling the trees and so on. If you’re feeling low and you know someone with a dog or cat (if you don’t have one yourself), go pay them a visit. Animals pick up on depression and anxiety, and quite often they will allow themselves to be petted for extended times, they understand that they can help just by letting a person pet them. And seeking medical help is a must. Doctors are there for a reason, they help when we are sick. And whether that’s physically sick or mentally sick, they can still help. Yes there are drugs, but often a few counselling sessions can aid also. Having someone completely impartial to speak to can help no end.
I know this can be a somewhat sensitive subject, but trust me I speak from experience. I’ve been on the end where I’m begging for help, and I’ve been the one asked to help. The one thing that always gives me strength is that we people are pretty resilient – we might have had many bad days, but we are still here doing the best we can. Life is about living, it’s about seeing and doing things we never thought were possible, it’s believing that dreams really can come true if we are just willing to make them happen, and it’s about seeing the wonder in the little things. Next time you’re feeling a little low, head out of the front door and take yourself off for a walk, drive to the country or visit somewhere you remember from being a child. Remember the wonder you felt when you saw something new. And believe in yourself.

All of that and I still managed to find time to write. As you all know, I’m on a mission to finish book 2 by mid October with the intention of being able to place it in the drawer for 4 weeks then beginning editing in November. So I figured I would use my lunch break at work to do some writing. I always whinge an hour is too long and float around wasting time, chat to people and watch tv. This week though, on the second day of my rotation, I decided not to waste my time and did some writing on my ipad. In that hour I managed a thousand words which is not bad going at all. It will probably read crappy when I move it onto the laptop but it can always be edited later! Today is my actual writing day this week, in between washing and errands. I intend to get lots done though. We’re only a hare over 10k from the finish line as I write this. I know I can do that in 4 weeks! With a little dedication and a lot of organisation!

Anyway I’ve waffled on long enough, have a fantastic week everyone, thanks for reading, and as always, keep smiling 🙂

Autumn, changes and friendship …

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I woke up this morning and there’s a definite chill of autumn in the air. The wind is playing tug with the trees and some of the leaves are just starting to turn to that lovely burnt orange and gold that only this season brings. I love autumn, it’s the season of shedding the old so the world can prepare for the new. Most people don’t like the weather turning colder but I do. It means all those days of trying to stay cool are over. Now I get to pull the old faithful blankets from their summer home under the stairs, drag the fluffy slippers to the forefront and dust off that nice over-sized dressing gown. I love sitting on the sofa first thing in the morning with the blankets and a cuppa. Bliss!

I know I mention it regularly, but I do like to make sure that my friends and family know how much they mean to me. My good friend Claire has been instrumental in keeping me on track with the gym, getting out of bed early to go with me, and encouraging me constantly. Not to mention listening to me moan when I’m getting up earlier to fit the gym into my already busy days! Seems to be paying off though, lost 3lb and feeling fitter every time I go so must be doing something right! And it’s not just with the gym, Claire, and all of my friends and family are all so supportive of my writing. They understand and don’t complain when it takes precedence over socialising, and are encouraging with it. I post regular ‘sneaky paragraphs’ on facebook as I write which generally receive a great response with people often commenting how they want to read more!

On the agent front, I received my first ever written refusal which was fantastic! No constructive criticism to speak of as they ‘don’t provide individual feedback’ but it still made me smile. Part of being a writer is wanting you’re work out there for other people to read and enjoy. Obtaining an agent is just one step on the road to making that happen, and not an essential step many would argue. But it’s the first step I wanted to try. Getting that first refusal letter made me feel like an actual author for the first time. Now I just need the first acceptance letter though I probably face many more refusals before that happens!

The writing has been a little slow this last week mainly because I’ve been so busy – one of those ‘life gets in the way’ weeks. I did however pass 74k – the end is nearing! Then it’ll be time to put it away and begin the research for book 3! Normally I know way before now which characters I want to feature in the next novel, but I don’t know whether to use the lovely Ali, Alex’s brother, or whether to use TJ, Jacob’s sister. There will obviously be a female/male counterpart in the mix too but hmmm, choices choices! I’m sure it will come as I start researching though. The plan is to be very disciplined (yes even more so than usual) over the next couple of weeks – I want this novel finished and put away by mid October. Doing this will ensure it is edited this year and I will be free to start book 3 in January 🙂 So far aiming for a novel a year seems to be a realistic goal though I do wish I had more time to dedicate to the actual writing!

I’m having a day off general things today – no housework on the horizon. My husband and I have his parents coming for sunday lunch, so I’ll be cooking off the roast beef, making a lovely rich port gravy, and steaming oodles of vegetables. Then some quality time with the husband this afternoon before an evening of writing. I’m looking forward to catching up with Ben and Jacob and finding out what the killer has planned for his next step! And then of course there’s the twists … but that’s enough said about that!

Hope you all have a fantastic week. Thank you as always for reading, and keep smiling 🙂

Delays, Weight and Smiles …

Firstly I want to apologise to all my lovely followers for being lax on writing my blog for a couple of weeks – I’m not going to make any excuses for the delay, I was busy and life got in the way. There’s been a few things going on I’ll discuss below.

One of the things that has increased my time output when even I didn’t realise I had time to spare is joining the gym – ‘Shock Horror’ I hear you cry. For those who know me, yes really a gym, a proper one with machines and everything, and for those who are still getting to know me through my posts on this site, and perhaps via facebook and twitter, this is a big deal. I’m going to touch on a somewhat sensitive subject area now and I know you’ll all support me and understand where I’m coming from.

In case you hadn’t noticed from the few pictures of myself, I am overweight, I believe the medical term is actually Morbidly Obese (they love making things sound pleasant don’t they). I’m one of those stereotypical women who comfort eat when they’re down, yo-yo diets, and uses food as emotional support at times when I shouldn’t. I am aware of some of the influencing factors as to why I do this, but that doesn’t stop the fact that I do. The other thing that affected my weight occurred around 10 years ago when I used to attend a martial arts class and dislocated my patella twice in quick succession. Over the years this has happened many times and despite physio the knee remains weak, so this has always meant I’ve never had the guts to go to the gym for fear of further injury.

The final side of this all of course comes down to self-image and self-confidence. I’ve always been completely open about my depression – it’s nothing to be ashamed of after all, and the same is said for all mental disorders. I can’t say the same however about my weight, my size or how I look. You often hear the term Big is Beautiful, but there’s not a lot of big girls who truly feel beautiful. Weight influences so many things in life; it influences where we can shop for clothes, where I live there are probably 3-4 shops that sell sizes for the larger lady, and these are often not budget minded. It influences how we are perceived by others – for the most part I eat healthily, meals are home cooked and I love fruit and vegetables, the unhealthy part for me is the snacking, but to look at me most people would just think I ate cakes and pasties constantly. It influences things like fertility which for me has been an issue for several years. And perhaps most importantly it influences self-confidence.

Anyone who has ever met me or reads my blogs will realise that I am outgoing, bubbly and confident – but am I really? Actually yes, I am, but I do have body image issues. All of these influencing factors have put me off joining the gym for a long time, I was afraid I’d be the biggest person there, afraid I’d be judged on my level of UN-fitness, afraid I’d injure my knee, afraid I’d feel self-conscious …., seriously I could go on. But with the help of my good friend Claire, the support of my husband and friends/family in general, I have finally bitten the bullet and joined up. Now we’re all one for a good deal, and no joining fee, one month free and getting paid £45 to lose 10kg in 12 weeks was a definite good deal, as well as an incentive to make sure I do it! And believe me I am – so far I’ve been three times and am going later today.

I’d like to say this new determination has stemmed solely from a want to get fit and lose weight, but honestly, a lot of it is to do with positivity. At the start of the year, I promised myself that I would be more positive, and believe in things that were meant to happen – this has worked well all year with many opportunities being dropped in my lap because I’ve put the belief out there that they would. I was determined that my writing would go well, I’d finish and edit my first novel and write my second novel, and since the second is only 20k words from completion I’d say this has been a success. It helped me visualise jobs, manage my finances and generally be more organised with my time in order to fit it all in. Joining the gym takes up time, and in my already busy life I guess I wondered whether I’d actually be able to do it. But so far I have, and my writing hasn’t been impacted, and I’m determined that it won’t.

The last two weeks have been largely about the writing to be honest. I finished the insert scenes I needed, got through the murder of poor Clarice, and have brought the characters even further to life by providing them with challenges, seeing them overcome these challenges and progress the investigations that are ongoing. There’s still some twists to come too, and I’m unbelievably happy at how easily this novel is progressing. I haven’t had writers block, I’ve never lost inspiration, and I’ve been enthralled in the characters from day 1. This has helped make this novel much easier than the last one to write. I love With Deadly Intent, and Cass and Alex, but there’s something about Ben and Jacob that tug at my heart. And by them doing this, it makes me all the more certain they’ll do the same for you when you all get to read it.

On the agency front, I’ve submitted to several more agents and am still awaiting for responses. The original agent hadn’t received my submission so they very nicely allowed me to submit again by email. Should hopefully be hearing something back, even if it’s a no, in the next couple of weeks.

Today has been a busy day, with the help of my mum I’ve pulled 8 massive carrier bags of victoria plums off the tree which has now also been pruned to within an inch of it’s life, washing is done and on line, oven has been cleaned (good old Mr Muscle) and I’m on doing the normal housy things. I try and get all that stuff done in one day, then once it’s finished I can stand back, smile, and think ‘I did that’ in that satisfactory way that these things happen. By getting it all done today it also means that the rest of the evening (while hubby is on the computer) is for a visit to the gym followed by writing. And tomorrow, when I have another hard earned day off, I will be …. you guessed it, writing!

I think I’ve bent you’re ears (or should that be eyes) for quite long enough – thank you all for reading. I’ll keep you all updated on the whole gym and losing weight thing, and as always, just keep smiling. A smile just brightens up the day 🙂