Tag Archives: author

Thoughts, hope and hard work …

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Simply can’t believe how fast time is passing currently. It’s almost the end of August – this year is literally flying by! I’ll tell you what though, it feels good to be back in the land of the living and not just the existing. The above photo’s were taken by me on one of my visits to Scotland – the left one is the remnants of the old railway that ran along the strath where my aunt lives, and the other was a pile of felled wood from a field somewhere near Blair Atholl. Love how rustic they both look πŸ™‚

Michael is loads better, pretty much back to his old self which I’m not entirely sure is a good thing or a bad thing! He was demanding before his hospitalisation but now it seems non-stop, and I know my mum gets the brunt of it even more than me! She has the patience of a saint my mum, and she definitely deserves her up coming holiday in a couple of weeks. Two weeks of sun and someone else doing the running about will do her the world of good, and I’m sure she’ll have a fantastic time.Β Me and Pete are also planning holidays – or hopeful that we will be planning in the near future for our time off together in November. Seems ages away doesn’t it? But at the rate this year is going it’ll be a blink and you miss it scenario!

I was very saddened earlier this month when I learned of Robin Williams death. I grew up loving movies like Mrs Doubtfire and Hook, and being moved to tears by the more poignant Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society to name but a few. I’m not ashamed to admit I shed tears – such a wonderful man, devoted to his family, right to the end in my opinion. I suffer depression, and I know many people who feel or have felt the darkness pulling them in, but to have such a disease and be constantly in the lime light, with millions of people watching and waiting for something to slip, never having a moments peace, and then finding out about having Parkinson’s – must have been dreadfully hard for him. I feel bad for his family, but he must have seen no other option, which in itself is so sad, but I’m one of the ‘suicide isn’t selfish’ crew I’m afraid. I think he did what he did cos he felt he had no other option – maybe he didn’t want to put his family through the parkinson’s too, maybe he was just so sick of everything, we’ll never know. But I do know, he’ll be missed. I miss him, and I never even knew him. I sat and watched Jack after the initial shock had worn off, and was moved to tears again by his speech at the end of the film. Very fitting in the circumstances.

After having complete writer’s block the whole time Michael was in hospital, it’s been good to knuckle down and crack on with book 3 since my last blog post. I’ve whacked off a whopping twenty two thousand words in the 3 weeks since my last post so am over the moon! Book 3 is very close to the first draft being completed now. So close, I can almost taste it. Then, as much as I really want to start researching for book 4 and getting to know my characters, I can’t – I NEED to finish editing book 2 and edit book 3 before i even start thinking about writing book 4 or it’ll end up a never ending cycle of unfinished work! Editing, unfortunately, is one of my pet hates – I adore the initial writing stages, the redrafting too, but the editing I just find so tedious! Naughty I know, but all writers have their favorite parts of the writerly process! I’ve set myself a new deadline of finishing book 3 before the end of August which really isn’t that far away now. I figure roughly another five thousand or so to go then I can type those two amazing words – the end!

It’s been amazing that I’ve found the time to write lately with everything I’ve had going on, work has been manic, it’s been the summer hols so have been trying to spend time with friends and their children, as well as my family. But that’s what it’s all about isn’t it – just spending time together and being happy doing it has been fantastic. I’ve also been super organised and written out my christmas lists, gone through the present cupboards and discovered I’m probably 2/3 of the way done on the shopping! I know, you hate me πŸ™‚ *smug smile.

I’ve just finished the most amazing book too – Mo Hayder’s The Birdman (rapidly followed by The Treatment!) How I’ve never read any of her novels until now is a mystery to me! Both of them had me hooked from start to finish. Have got the next one in the Jack Caffrey set in hardcopy and can’t wait to get dug in. That said, I’m reading Dating in the Dark by the lovely Pete Sortwell at present – light hearted, easy to read and Pete has a wonderful style of writing. Definitely worth picking up if you fancy something different. After Harrogate, my to read list has increased exponentially – I’m making sure I put aside reading time now though as well as writing time. Nothing better than a good book and a hot cup of tea!

Anyway I think I’ve rambled on enough now – take care lovely people. and as always, keep smiling πŸ™‚

Festival, knock-backs and pick-ups …

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It’s been a weird month for me but a better month! It’s taken me a while to get my focus back with everything going on, but happily, it’s coming back slowly but surely. And let me tell you, I couldn’t be more happy with things changing for the better again!

Most of you know I had been signed off with stress after being battered with various happenings in my life. My brother, Michael, is now out of hospital after his 3 major surgeries and is getting back to normal. And I’m back to work, on phased return at present but it still feels good to get back in the saddle.

On recommendation from, well pretty much everyone actually, I still attended Harrogate Crime Festival from 17-20 July, and I am so glad I did. Last year was fab as I got to meet lots of new people and attend lots of panels etc. If anything this year was even better. I battled through the couple of panic moments, made new firm friends with several people who I only knew previously through facebook, and met up with old friends for a good natter. My highlight panel for the festival was attended Linda La Plante’s on the friday morning. She is an absolutely hilarious and well-achieved woman, such an amazing sense of humour – she had the audience in stitches from start to finish. I came away with multiple books courtesy of the festival and also via promotions such as Dead Good books. I can’t describe the atmosphere at this event – it’s the perfect venue for writers and also readers as everyone is so friendly and approachable. It was definitely worth the panicky moments and was lovely to meet everyone. It also gave fantastic opportunities as I managed to pitch to an agent who asked to see my work, and also to a great publisher, Caffeine Nights, so fingers crossed that one or both of them love my work!

Aren’t cars just pure money pits? Mine has been hammered this year with 4 trips to Scotland, my usual day to day usage and various travel days out for research purposes but I still didn’t expect a repair bill of over Β£500!! Still, I need the car and I haven’t really paid for a great deal since I got it a few years ago – and it is the most reliable car I’ve ever had. So repair bills aside, it’s worth it.

On the writing front, I had been suffering from what can only be described as writer’s block, though I hadn’t actually had time to sit down and write over the last couple of months so perhaps it was just life in general. This however, has also started to rectify thank goodness! Don’t know about other writers, but for me writing is therapeutic, and not being able to do so has no doubt increased my stresses. Last week though, I hand-wrote a few hundred words, granted it was a scene for book 4 as opposed to book 3 which I’m working on but any writing is good writing! Then this week, I reread my third novel from the start to refresh my memory and last night managed to write another thousand words whilst on my lunch break at work! Need to get this novel finished as the characters for the next one are already screaming in my head!

I’m a big believer in people being stronger than they think they are, and also a believer that when things are going badly then they can only get better. It feels really good to be getting back into believing this whole heartedly. Yes we might be skint (after the car repairs) but at least we have enough to pay the bills, and yes there have been moments of panic, moments I have doubted my strength to cope with everything but I have managed to cope regardless, and it’s with the support of all of my friends and family who have been fantastic. Someone paid me a compliment the other day, the person said that I was genuinely nice and kind, and after I blushed, it made me realise that we don’t take compliments very well, and it’s possibly because we don’t receive them very often. I decided to embark on a facebook assault and give compliments to people from my friends list – something which I have done every day since. Sometimes, it’s worth realising that we are the ones who can give support or let other people smile. So now, as well as focussing on doing the things that make me happy, I intend to do more of the same for others wherever I can.

Anyway, keep fingers crossed that good things come of my latest submissions, I know mine are firmly crossed! Smile at that stranger in the street, help the little old lady across the road, and most of all, keep your chin up and see the sky not the floor πŸ™‚ Keep smiling folks, til next time.

 

Notebooks, holidays and rain …



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Well where to start! An apology I think – it’s been ages since my last blog and I know you lovely readers must be wondering why! So apologies that it’s been such a long time, I’ve missed writing my blog to be honest.

Part of the reason I’ve been around but not on social media so much was my short break to Scotland with my fab hubby Pete. We stayed a couple of nights in a B&B on the way up the A9 which was lovely but soooo not long enough! Think a fortnight of sleep could have been better πŸ˜‰ – after this we travelled all the way up to the top and stayed with my aunt for 2 nights, then back down to Inverness and stayed with his Grandad for 2 nights. The Friday before we left, we were told to bring something nice to wear, and to our surprise when we arrived we were told that his Grandad, and Frances, his partner, were getting married the next day and that they wanted us to be witnesses. It was a beautiful service, with a bittersweet undertone as the reason for the rushed wedding was that Frances had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. They had it at home having obtained a special license as Frances has also recently had a hip replacement so isn’t able to move much at present. I did what anyone would do, and got the bride ready (hair, makeup and nails) and made the bouquet, did the buffet and still managed to remember to sign the register.

I had intended to use the break to get some writing done, but to be entirely honest it was one of those hols that was so full of things to do, I genuinely didn’t have time. Was lovely to get away, though I wish we’d had longer.

The other reason I’ve been away so long is I’ve been absolutely shattered. Over the last couple of years I’ve been to the docs a few times and mentioned it but they’ve never found anything wrong, so haven’t been able to formulate a treatment plan. Recently it’s been the kind of tiredness that seeps into your bones and makes it physically impossible to focus on anything, and it’s been this way for months! Visiting the docs this time though, has proved fruitful. She has found that my vitamin d and calcium levels are really low, one of the side effects of which is tiredness and fatigue. So I’m on supplements (which taste like chalk by the way – yuck!) which should hopefully build the levels back up and get me feeling a little more energetic.

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Had lots going on at work too as was selected to mentor a new starter. I love the mentoring process, lots of people hate it and find it difficult, but I quite enjoy it. It’s nice to help someone gain the tools they need to do the job. Mentoring’s all done now though, and she has her wings and is flying solo πŸ™‚

I think at my last blog I was probably about 30-35 thousand words into book 3, Time to Play. I’m now over 50k words in! Marlo and Ali are really coming into their own, and the whole story is coming together with a couple of twists that even I didn’t see coming. Love it when that happens πŸ™‚ as an author, there are different ways of plotting. Some people are the ‘fly by the seat of the pants’ type and don’t have a clue what will happen until it’s written, others, like my good friend Victoria J Brown, sit and plan the novel chapter by chapter so they know what happens in basic form from start to finish. I suppose I’m the fly by the seat of my pants type in some ways, and a planner in others. I tend to just sit down and start writing, I know my characters inside out and know they will help me build the plot. But if I get a bit lost, or think I might forget an important back story I mentioned in chapter 1, then I’ll do a plan (which invariably never gets adhered to but still!) I also generally work on the laptop, but always have my trusty notebooks with me, yes, you read right, notebooks not notebook. I have a moleskine that I use for character profiles, interesting things I see or hear along the way, writing plans and spidergrams etc, and another that I write scenes in when I’m not at the laptop. I was very pleased to pull a new notebook from my secret stash this week! Such a good feeling.

I was really happy this morning when I got up. I’d woken at some point during the night to the sound of heavy rain falling, and I remember thinking, in my sleep induced state, that I hoped it continued today as I love the rain (as if you guys didn’t know that already!), and lo and behold, when I got up the windows were covered in droplets and rivers, and there was a steady stream falling outside. It’s easing off now, but I think it’s perfect weather for getting to things you should be doing in the house, like writing a blog for example πŸ˜‰

Well I think I’ve gone over everything I meant to! All the photo’s on this blog were taken using my digital SLR whilst in Scotland – love it there! Always something to look at and the landscape’s forever changing. I promise I won’t leave it so long next time. Thanks for reading, have a fantastic weekend whatever you’re up to, and as always, keep smiling πŸ˜€
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Spring, anxiety and writing …

It’s been a bit of a higgledy piggledy few weeks – unfortunately lots of procrastinating on my part but also getting a fair bit done. Not that that makes a whole lot of sense but it’s true!

I’ve been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster which doesn’t help creative juices. Hubby is still off poorly though is getting better and will hopefully be back to work in the next week or so. Consequently him being off means he’s always at home, which puts my routine all to pot. Normally I’m very much a routine person (though spontaneous when it comes to going out as opposed to staying in), and I find that I work well when I am in routine. I make the time to do the boring stuff like housework and ironing whilst finding time to do my writing. When hubby’s off though, it’s almost like I feel the need to spend all my spare time either with him or out of the house – there’s no happy medium for getting things done!

Yesterday however, I pushed all that to one side and cracked on regardless. I’ve been in my current employment for about 9 months now, and they’ve never sampled my baking. Baking is one of those things I shouldn’t do (as obviously you eat what you bake) but I love doing. It calms me down mixing cakes and what not and I get to put my music on and lose myself in the dulcet tones of the singers I enjoy. At the minute, I’m very into my country, so the likes of Luke Bryan and Keith Urban filled the kitchen yesterday and mingled well with the multitude of cake smells. Work are being spoilt tonight (I’m on nightshift).

I’ve found myself over analysing a lot of late – something I know we all do very well! With hubby not being too good, I’m obviously worrying about him, and then my brother has stuff going on which means my poor mum is stressed to the point she can barely function, so I worry about her too. She needs to slow down and take check sometimes, but she doesn’t (pot, kettle me thinks). Anxiety is strange thing, it’s not something that I think a great deal about as I’m of the belief that life doesn’t throw us more than we can handle (for the most part anyway), and as hard as has been at times, I’ve always got back up. The same can be said for the majority of us, we are pretty hardy folk after all. I try not to worry about the things I can’t control, and focus on what I can control and what I can do. Thinking like this has been instrumental in me getting past my depression, and I heard from a good friend today who has been believing in herself more that good things have come to her too, and she feels like it’s helping her manage her anxiety (she suffers badly with it, same as hubby). I’m over the moon that it works for her too, I believe it, which I know a lot of my friends do, but it makes me very happy to see it working for those closest to me.

As a result of how I’ve been feeling, I’ve been reluctant to write a whole lot lately. When I’ve been at writing days or networking events it’s been fab and I’ve found my focus pretty quick and plenty has been done, but in my normal day to day life, it’s been hard to find focus with everything else going on around me. This must happen to all writers. I have been consciously avoiding writing, I suppose in case I transfer some of my feelings into my work. Writing emotionally is therapeutic, but there’s a difference in writing when something bothers you, and writing a scene that should bother other people. It’s a fine line between knowing when your emotions will influence your writing, and understanding when it wouldn’t be a good thing. That’s not to say I haven’t been thinking about my writing – Marlo and Ali enter my head multiple times during the day, and I’m still jotting ideas in my ever faithful Moleskine. I did decide this morning would be different though.

I’ll be going back to bed later, but right now, at this moment, I have a couple of hours where the house is quiet but for the birds singing outside. I could find something to do (there’s always something to do!) but I’m not going to. The minute I finish this blog, I’m making a coffee on my new machine (which I love!) and I’m going to crack on with some writing. Even if I only write a little, I’ll be happy in the knowledge that I’ve done it. Besides Marlo’s story is an interesting one, I need to find out what’s going to happen!

Hope you all have a fantastic week, and I’ll catch you all up on this weeks writing soon. Keep smiling folks πŸ™‚

NB: Just realised I didn’t mention the spring aspect in my title! Needless to say it’s officially here. The clocks jolted forward with a bang (which was nice cos I was on nights so worked an hour less) and life, as usual, continued without event. Loving the beautiful colours of the flowers bursting into bloom – I’ve got purple pansies, mini daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops either in pots or the ground around my house. The birds are busy getting their babies snug and people everywhere are starting to mow the lawns. It’s like the world is waking up again πŸ™‚ As you may gather I love spring, I also love winter and autumn for those who don’t know! We live in a beautiful, wonderful world. Embrace the nature next time you’re out and about, and let it help you smile πŸ™‚

Writing, Networking and friendships …

 

Well what a wonderful picture to start my blog with (obtained from the Morritt’s own website)! The above is a front view of The Morritt, at Greta Bridge, just off the A66. This was the location for the amazing writing retreat I went on this week with the lovely Victoria J Brown (http://www.victoria-brown.com/) and the equally lovely Eileen Wharton (https://www.facebook.com/eileen.whartonwriter). The event itself was hosted and organised by Judith Lesley Marshall (http://judithlesleymarshall.com/). The day started with myself, Vicky and Eileen heading to MacDonalds for breakfast, naughty I know but I had just finished night shift at 3am so was entitled to a little greasy energy. Some of us enjoyed it, some not quite so much but it was all good as we jumped into my car and headed down. Naturally, I misjudged the time it takes to drive there and we arrived over an hour early, which to be fair gave us the chance for a good girly natter discussing the virtues of hair dye, drunkenness and of course, throwing up in your fish nets (I’ll point out I don’t own fishnets so that one wasn’t me!!)

This was my second writing retreat at this location, and I can honestly say it’s worth every penny. There were about 12 of us in total, and we chatted during the networking times with a cup of freshly brewed coffee and home baked shortbread and cookies. It’s always interested to me to chat to other people of the artistic variety, and the types of artist at these venues are so different! We had poets, crime writers, chick lit writers, a graphic designer who was looking for other directions to branch out into, and people just wanting to get something down on paper. It provides a lovely environment, with dedicated ‘head-down’ time to write which just inspires creativity. If you ever get the chance to go on one I highly recommend it – if you’re unsure of when these come up in the North East drop Judith a line, there’s a link to her website in my links section.

As a result of this retreat, myself and Vicky got chatting to Tony, the graphic designer, and a ‘co-workers’ networking event came up in conversation which was set for the following day. I’d never heard of this, but basically it’s an event where people who do solitary work at home can meet up with other solitary workers in an environment that promotes co-working for the day. It was discussed and we quickly agreed that if there was spaces then we would also attend this event. Unfortunately Eileen had to work (dratted day jobs) but the following day myself, Vicky and Tony pitched over to Dovecot Street in Stockton where we met the lovely Rebecca Sergeant (http://www.colleaguesontap.com/) of Colleagues on Tap, and the other lovely people who attended the event. I must admit to being nervous, I’d never attended an event like this and didn’t quite know what to expect. But, everyone was so friendly, and eager to share the jobs they did at home. Everyone sung the praises of the Co-Worker days and I have to agree. For people who work in solitary roles these days give the perfect opportunity to network as well as do some work. They’re easily accessible and operate all over the North East. Rebecca was an very gracious host, constantly making tea and coffee for everyone, and the lunch from a local deli was really tasty (it’s included in the price too!)

Suffice to say over the course of these two days I met a lot of really nice people, no doubt some of whom I will see again and perhaps one day, utilise the services of. I also managed to write a whopping 7100 words on book 3 which was fantastic, The days left me feeling invigorated, inspired and admittedly a little tired, but it has been fantastic. I’ve added some of the contacts I made to my links page so if anyone’s interested in speaking to them, you can drop them a line directly.

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It really has been a busy few weeks! Even just the above days aside, I’ve gone back to my ‘day job’ after 4 weeks off, which were mostly due to illness – I’ve had a really bad sinus infection which somehow managed to invert both my ear drums – honestly I was so ill, I couldn’t even write! I am getting there now though you’ll be pleased to hear though test results pending on some further bloods. I’ve been scribbling furiously over the last couple of weeks and have managed to get to 31,000 words on book 3 which isn’t bad going at all! I’ve had an interview for a VCSI job which I hadn’t mentioned much about online as didn’t want to jinx anything but I should find out next week if I’ve been successful. If not then no problem, though I really would like to get back into forensics. My current job is fine and the new shifts I’m on do provide more writing time. And I’ve been looking round at pretty things to photograph, like the crocuses above, I love the vibrancy of this image. The flowers actually look painted on!

My next set of rest days will incorporate a submission day where I shall send book 1 off to prospective agents, as well as further writing time. I’ll be taking my trusty notebook to work also so I can work on it during lunch breaks etc also.

I love how the future looks at the present time, it’s great to know that I’ve finished writing 2 novels, have a third being written, and a basic plot line for a fourth. I bask in the knowledge that one day I will be published and people will be able to read my novels, and not just hear about me talking about them, or read the taster prologues on this website. Who knows what else the future holds, but I know whatever I want, I can make it happen. Such is the nature of dreams.

That’s it for this weeks blog – take care and keep smiling πŸ™‚ I know I am.

Snowdrops, Daffodils and the little things …

Isn’t the pic on this weeks blog lush? I nabbed it from internet though so it’s not one of mine. But it perfectly captures this time of year! I have a small cluster of snow drops on my front lawn that appears every year without fail. It’s completely random and always makes me smile. And I love the colour of daffodils – just as winter starts releasing it’s grasp on the country we live in, the daffodils pop up and remind us vibrantly that the spring is just around the corner.

It’s been a funny couple of weeks since my last blog, not funny haha, just funny. I’ve been ill for a start, really ill! Have had acute sinusitis with two (i dont do things by half) retracted eardrums. Literally exhausted and couldn’t move off the couch. Have been ill now for three weeks and am still lethargic and lacking in energy despite antibiotics and steroid sprays! I’ll get there though πŸ™‚

Unfortunately the illness meant the week I took off to focus on just writing didn’t come about as I was too ill! Over the last couple of days though, I have managed to get a few thousand words down which feels amazing! Have about three thousand handwritten words to type up too but need to finish the chapter I’m on before I can do those (I’m terrible for having to write consecutively – the handwriting jumped ahead of where I should have been quite by accident!) I did manage to get four more submissions sent off to agents before I was struck down also though so fingers crossed. I’ll be taking a day next week and focussing on competition entries and submissions though. There’s been a few of late, and my facebook page has been sharing like mad when the opportunities have arisen. As much as I’d love to win the all important publishing deal, I know other people would too and am very fair so wouldn’t not share the opportunity with my writerly friends. After all, all’s fair in love and writing. πŸ˜‰

As I was writing this week, my fingers suddenly typed something I didn’t realise. Marlo has a secret! Something big too, not a small secret! A secret where she hears screams in her mind. Now I’m going to be mean and not tell you what the secret is, you’ll have to wait and see! On the plus side though, the working title of the novel has finally come to me. It’s taken it’s sweet time like, normally I get the title when I write my novel plan. But anyway, the title for book 3 is …. TIME TO PLAY. And it’s going to be a doozy. It’s writing well so far and the characters are fantastic.

Book 4 plot lines are already starting to show themselves too! These get written in my old faithful moleskine and will be pulled out at a later date!

Editing on book 2 is going slowly but it is going, though I haven’t done any in the last few weeks. It will get done and finished though. Though I must admit the task is somewhat daunting – I’m one of those who hate proper editing!

Just touching on fear (indirect link to the word daunting above), it is definitely our fears that hold us back and the only way to get over those fears is to confront them head on. A good friend is having a minor op today at the hospital but is really afraid as hasn’t had many. I’m not afraid of hospitals or operations, I’ve had too many on my sinuses to be afraid, but there are things I am afraid of. I am petrified of spiders, I may have mentioned this before, freezing in fear level of petrified. And wasps, though that’s more down to being allergic to wasp venom. They’re evil little so-an-so’s. Then there’s the normal fears that most people put up with, social/life fears I call them. Those little niggles that say ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘what if this happens’ or ‘why doesn’t he/she like me’. I think as I grow older these fears mean less, I tend to be quite open and honest, and have grown into the mindset that if people don’t like me as I am, with all my bells and whistles, then they’re not worth my fear. I no longer worry about offending people (I’m actually really polite to everyone lol), I say what I think though, and slowly but surely I am learning the word no, where I used to be very much a yes person. I don’t live my life by what ifs and maybes – I now live day to day and search actively for the things that make me happy, and aim to help the people around me be happy also. Happiness is the most important thing, and if the one thing this journey into positive thinking has taught me is that thinking this way brings things forth, well then that’s what I do!

I said in my new year blog that this year will be fantastic and that I will be lucky. It’s definitely been the case so far! You all know about my luck when complaining, and the tax man has just sent me a tidy rebate which will be paying for the remainder of my Harrogate trip (where might I add, JK Rowling is also attending this year!!) So a huge THANK YOU to the universe for listening and recognising that I am sending these vibes and reciprocating! I look forward to many more vibes being exchanged and much more luck and of course, happiness πŸ™‚

I’ll sign off now lovely people, but I’ll leave you with a task if I may. There’s a thing on facebook at present called 100 days of happiness, it basically involves taking a photo of something that makes you happy every day and posting it. I’m not asking you to do that – just look around each day and find one thing that either makes you grateful or raises a smile – and just be thankful that that is there. It’s such an easy ask I promise! Several things have made me smile today in the hour I’ve been up for. A bird eating nuts on the tree out the back. the dog wagging his tail at me to say good morning, the taste of my hot cup of coffee when I took that first sip, the birthday wishes sent to a friend, and even the sprinkling of rain drops on my windows. And the best bit is there’s no limit on how many things can make you smile! So go on and give it a go, and don’t let it stop!

Take care lovely people, and keep smiling πŸ™‚

Chills, stories and luck …

It’s been a while since my last post purely because of the amount of work I’ve been trying to get through, and also the fact that I’ve had cold, yet again! If you can believe that I’m generally someone who doesn’t get colds all that often, this particular winter has not been a good one. With weeks and months of sinusitis, and waking up yesterday with my third head cold in as many months I feel it may be time to resort to desperate measures! A friend of mine swears by lemon and ginger tea, now I’m not a fan of flavoured tea but at this stage I feel it’s time to give it a go. It’s funny, when I was a CSI and out and about constantly, you’d have thought I suffered a higher exposure to illness but it’s office working that does it!

‘Enough of the whining,’ I hear you cry. ‘Let’s hear about all the other stuff, the interesting stuff. Like writing!’

Ok so as you know book 1 is finished, book 2 is being edited and book 3 has been started. The trouble with editing and writing at the same time is you sometimes lose track of where you are, or what you’re working on. Yesterday for example, I submitted book 1 to numerous agencies, but with each agent wanting something different you have tailor each submission to suit. So it takes time, yesterday morning I got four submitted and one prepped for paper submission. Then I worked on book 3 because when it’s been quiet at work I’ve been frantically penning by hand and thought it was time to move this into the novel so that the structure starts to form. Trouble with this is that although you realise where you need to add other bits, it can also make you realise that the story is progressing a little too fast. Marlo and Ali are crying out to be heard and my poor fingers can’t type fast enough to keep up with them! It’s a challenging story to write anyway, getting into the head of my bad guy and realising that maybe, although he appears evil and does what normal people would consider evil things, he’s actually just a normal guy with his own problems is quite an eye opener. I love it when a character surprises me – like Connor for example. He’s the new guy on the dive team, and wow is he conflicted. I sense a story of his own coming around at some point – there’s much more to Connor than meets the eye. And what skeletons does Marlo have in her closet, she definitely has some, I know because she brought the fact to my attention quite suddenly. But what they are will only be disclosed as the novel progresses. And as for Ali, he’s similar to Alex, his brother, in a lot of ways, but in others he’s vastly different. Why does he doubt his ability to do the job, why doesn’t he date? Again these are questions that will become clear as the novel continues forward. No spoilers from me!

I’m a believer in luck, or fate, or karma or whatever you want to call it. I firmly believe that those who do bad things will get bad things back ten fold, and that those who do good things work to keep the balance and hopefully receive things in return. It’s been a few weeks for that return for me – vouchers from coca cola paid for the weeks pop for me and Pete, voucher from Sainsburies provided a cheap week of shopping and a voucher from JD Weatherspoons will result in a nice meal out for me and Pete when times are tough for all of us. This is because I’ve taken to complaining when things are not good, we all stand in the wings and have a whinge when we aren’t happy but how many of us actually do something about it? I decided I would start complaining about the bad stuff in January, if only as a way to point out potential improvements. So far the universe has been very giving in it’s responses. I will continue to complain when receiving bad service or goods, but I also say when I’ve had exceptionally good service. Like yesterday for example. Text message to my mobile from EE saying I had exceeded my data usage, now being that I use an iphone and my data usage, though high, comes nowhere near my allocation of 6gb per month, I phoned to ensure all was well and to see if I could change my tariff down (in an attempt to cut costs for me and Pete more in these times of financial hardship that everyone is facing). The lady I spoke with was lovely, friendly and very helpful. The text, it turns out, was an error, and though she couldnt drop my line rental she could offer a further 15% discount on my line rental until it allowed her to change the tariff. Now that’s good service.

And in Asda this morning, the checkout girl could see I was about to sneeze whilst trying to pack my shopping. There was no-one behind me so she wasn’t in a rush to get rid of me (unless she didn’t want my germs which is completely understandable), but she packed my shopping for me whilst I rifled in the pit that is my handbag for a tissue. Not required, but lovely service. And with a smile too.

So today I resolve not to sit on the couch and sniffle to myself under a blanket, feeling excessively sorry for my poorly self. Instead, I’m going to go for a walk, get a bit of fresh air and hopefully pass a little of my luck onto other people. I might even have a mooch into town for some well earned people watching, whilst actively smiling and chatting to people I may see. Yes some will think I’m nuts no doubt, but if just one person smiles back then it’s been a good day.

I hope you all have a fantastic day too, and a fantastic week. I’m looking forward to seeing psychic tomorrow evening, and chatting with some of my wonderful friends. I’m enjoying my week off and aim to get lots of writing, editing and submitting done! And I hope to finish reading the book I’m currently about half way through, Dead Gone by Luca Veste – if you haven’t read it Asda are doing a very reasonably priced copy for Β£3 or you can pick it up of Amazon on kindle for pennies.

Take care everyone, and keep smiling πŸ™‚

Happy New Year, this is gonna be a good one …

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Well that’s it for another year! Christmas has been and gone, the decorations are down and the house is back to normal. I’m one of those people who loves getting my decs up early but I also love taking them down too. I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year?

My Christmas was a nice quiet one this year. I was off work (an unusual treat) and we had lunch at my mother in laws, then headed to my mums for chicken sandwiches at tea time. Was lovely just to spend time with family – and I got some fabulous presents! I probably shouldn’t have favorites for fear I might offend someone by not mentioning theirs, so I should say now I loved all my gifts, but the ones that stick out was a canvas of my wedding bouquet off my mum, Fast and Furious box-set off Petes mum, a wonderful diary off my friend Ange, and the most apt and amazing notebook off my hubby (for those who know me I am a huge fan of all things Lord of the Rings related, and he got me a new Moleskine notebook with the hobbit theme!) I got lots of other amazing gifts too but I won’t put them all on here or you’ll be reading forever as I was spoilt rotten!

New year was a quiet affair, I was again off work. It was my first new years eve off in a long time, so we decided that despite being invited to a friends, we would spend new year together, just us. We bought in a couple of tipples that we didn’t even crack open, and watched TV. At midnight we had a kiss and left our troubles from 2013 behind by going out of the back door. It was a lovely evening.

This last couple of weeks has passed in a blur – sometimes time goes so fast I wish I had a remote control so I could rewind when I think I’ve missed something!

‘Last year I vowed to be more positive and that really paid off. Think this year I’ll be more lucky, more determined and do more of what makes me happy. I’ll appreciate my friends and family even more than I already do, and look for magic every day, whether that be the smile from a stranger, the laughter of a child, or the flutter of fairy wings on a breeze. 2014 is going to be a great year – I know because I’ll make it so.’ This was my status on facebook in relation to new years resolutions, and I stand by them. Part of doing what makes me happy is writing. And I’ve definitely been doing that over the last couple of weeks! I should have been editing but a little procrastination has taken place until I receive my edits back from the wonderful Jenny Drewery (www.thewriterthebetter.co.uk) which should hopefully be today! EEK! Lots of editing to do! But instead of wasting time on other things I have instead been focussing on book 3. Still struggling with a title but it’ll come. It’s just at the point where we’re getting to know the characters, and where the story is going. I love Marlo, she’s so sassy and loyal. She’s got a history of course, who doesn’t? But she’s so fierce and passionate about everything. And Ali, Alex’s brother, well he’s just an all round good guy. He pretends to be all tough when really all he wants is a little sunshine in his life. Then there’s little Elvie, Elvie is confused, scared, but she’s a tough nut. Will she live through her ordeal though, that’s another question. And the bad guy? Well he’s just deliciously evil! So bad in fact, I don’t think he has a good side. Am looking forward to exploring even more and bringing them to life!

One of the resolutions listed above was to be more lucky this year – this to me is taking charge of luck and making sure you do all you can to make it go your way. I’m not a natural complainer, most of the time I will not send things back if they’re cold when eating out, won’t take things back to the supermarket if they’re bruised etc. However, I purchased some diet coke from Sainsburys a few weeks ago and hadn’t realised the lid was loose. It subsequently leaked all over the car seat which meant a good clean was required. I complained to coca cola and to Sainsburys, well actually not even so much a complaint as an expression of disappointment. I did not expect to receive Β£5 coca cola vouchers from the coke company, and a Β£35 gift card off Sainsburys to cover the cost of a valet! To say I am over the moon is an under statement. Excellent customer service from both parties, and a definite encouragement to stick to one brand / supermarket when shopping.

Over the next week or two, I’m looking forward to getting stuck into my editing with vengeance, submitting book 1 to a multitude of agents (one of whom will read my work and be like ‘OMG this writer is awesome, I must sign her up’) and on my limited down time writing book 3 and getting back into a healthier lifestyle. I have rejoined Slimming World, and lost 2lb this week – don’t worry, I won’t be boring you with my progress every week, that isn’t the point of this blog.

I said above that 2014 is going to be a good year. And it is, I refuse to let it be any other way. I feel really focused, really determined and really happy. I’ve got a wonderful bunch of people around me (including the two new people I’ve enlisted to read my work so shout out to Sue and Rachael!!) who mean the world to me as I do to them. My family and friends are fantastic πŸ™‚ Lots of love flying from my fingers to your hearts today.

I shall continue to blog regularly, and post to both my author page https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-A-Richardson/117179681794105Β and my facebook pageΒ https://www.facebook.com/ka.richardsonwriterΒ so feel free, if you don’t already, to like / send me a friend request. Have a fab January folks, and remember, keep smiling πŸ™‚

Merry Christmas and all the best to you all…

It’s been a jam packed few weeks for me in the lead up to Christmas. I’m sure it has been for all of you too.

Those who know me probably realise I’m the organisation queen when it comes to being sorted at this time of the year. All my shopping is done through the year and everything was wrapped and put away by the end of November. I know, I know, there are those who now officially hate me! But all that organisation means I get to enjoy the lead up.

Managed to get my decs up nice and early this year too!

It’s been a pretty bad last week here at home to be honest though. I’ve had ceiling leaks, boiler problems, lack of time and a few other issues to deal with but it was one week out of the whole year so I won’t dwell and since it’s Sunday, the new week starts tomorrow anyway so it’s no problem at all in the greater scheme of things. Leak sorted, new boiler installed (thanks landlord!) and everything is well again.

I’ve seen a lot of people about doing a piece about their year. My blog is (relatively) regular so most of you have probably followed it all anyway but here is my year in brief!

  • Finished editing With Deadly Intent and started submitting to agents.
  • Wrote all of I’ve been Watching You and have started the editing
  • Left a job, started a new job, and applied for 2 more jobs that I didn’t get
  • Believed in myself a lot more and found my confidence grow ten fold
  • Lost weight, put weight on, lost weight, put weight on, lost …. well you get the picture.
  • Joined the gym (and yes I will be going back in the new year!)
  • Visited Scotland twice at the back end of the year
  • Went to Ostend at the start of the year
  • Completed my first ever stint at Harrogate Crime Festival and can’t wait to go back next year!
  • Hosted my first ever ‘proper’ dinner parties!
  • Started writing my third novel, as yet untitled.
  • Stuck to a financial budget (for the most part)
  • Haven’t let negativity of others impact on my mood
  • Given money to charity and food to food banks
  • Made my own garlands for christmas then baked for gifts
  • Spent a lot of time in Starbucks
  • Spent more time with my family and friends whenever I could
  • Blogged regularly
  • Started and maintained my own website (which is now due for renewal)
  • Networked with other authors through social media
  • Read
  • Smiled
  • Cried (occasionally – okay quite a bit cos I’m a softy)
  • Proof read a few bits and bobs for other authors
  • Became friends with other authors through the crime festival and social media, and have gotten to know my lovely editor Jenny Drewery much better.
  • Kept my new years resolution to be more positive.
  • Been to two fantastic weddings!
  • Celebrated my 4th wedding anniversary.
  • Shown/told people how much I appreciate them, as often as I could without it being creepy.
  • Looked for magic in the simplest of things.
  • Saw The Hobbit (6 times I think), and saw The Desolation of Smaug (only once so far). HUGE LOTR fan!

I’m sure there’s loads more that I haven’t mentioned but that about covers it. I’d just like to close and say how grateful I am that all of this is happening to me. If someone had said to me just five years ago that within that time, I’d be in a different job, writing my third novel and loving my life so much more than I was, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. There have been ups and downs, losses and tears along the way, but one thing is for sure, I’m still standing. I’m still here. And 2014 is going to be an amazing year because I believe it will be.

I hope you all have a truly magical christmas, and dream big for 2014, believe in yourselves and smile every day. I’ll be back in the new year with more updates and shenanigans. xxx

it’s beginning to look a lot like christmas …

Well the festive season is officially upon us. There are people flocking into the town centre and the supermarkets already and there’s still a good couple of weeks to go!

I’m one of those awful really organised people (Sorry!!) – my presents were all bought and wrapped by the end of November, and put to bed in the wardrobe in the spare room. I pulled all the decorations out last week, and put them all up after making a couple of garlands. I was a little disappointed to find one of my fibre optic ornaments had broken after I mistakenly left the batteries inside and they leaked, but it’s a good excuse for a new one next year! I even splashed out and bought some new window lights this year. So the house looks festive, the lights all look pretty and it helps put me in the christmas spirit.

I’m a very christmassy person if I’m honest – I love the fact that I get to spoil the people I love and show my appreciation in those little ways that make christmas special. I love the magic on the children’s faces as they see Santa and get excited for what he might bring them. I love spending extra time with my friends and family. And naturally, I love the food! We don’t go mad at christmas, I don’t fill the cupboards with treats and what not, but it’s the time of year we have little things that make it christmas to us. Me and the hubby always have snack night on christmas eve for a start. This is usually stuff like chicken bites, mozarella sticks all gooey from the oven, mini pizzas, sausages in bacon, and maybe some of the other festive things like prawns in pastry and what not. On the lead up to christmas, we have a night of crackers with cheese and pate. And there’s always the odd festive mince pie or bit of christmas cake – shop bought as despite the fact I can bake lovely cakes and cookies, my christmas cake effort last year proved to be an expensive disaster!

I don’t know what other people’s traditions are, but we also open a christmas present on christmas eve. This wasn’t something that my mum brought me up with, but it started when I moved out and me and Pete were in our first house. Since then it’s become another tradition. Mine is always brand new pjs which I absolutely love. One tradition that isn’t done any more was what my lovely grandad used to do. Every year on top of our presents, there was always a sock. A normal long woolly sock, which always had an apple, pear, satsuma, banana, 5-6 quality street and a 50p wrapped up in an envelope. It was such an amazing part of christmas – I do miss that now my gramps has passed on.

I always have the option regarding christmas trees too. I have a huge, wide, 7ft tree, and I also have a smaller 4ft fibre optic tree. If I’m in the mood for a battle, I put the big one up with all the lights and decorations. It stands about a metre in width alone and reaches the ceiling. The smaller one is fibre optic, lights up lovely and bright, and can sit on top of the table. The last couple of years it’s been the small one that’s been put up, and the only reason for this has been the dog. He’s quite fun loving, and enjoys flinging his toys around during his mad half hour. We found the big tree meant he often either barreled into it, or flung toys at it which have resulted in broken glass ornaments in the past. So again, we decided on the smaller tree this year. Decorated with mostly glass, clear and silver decorations, sparkly tinsel, and extra lights!

The fireplace is always done quite traditionally, with stockings hung, and fibre optic ornaments on the shelf above. We were given a lovely ponsettia off Pete’s mum which has pride of place beside the fire. Two wreaths on the wall, with tinsel round pictures, and different stuff on the windowsill makes it all seem somewhat homey.

To me, as well as being a time to spend with friends and family, spread good cheer and generally be a little like Mary Claus, I do believe Christmas is what you make it. Putting the decs up, and ensuring everything is wrapped in advance means I can enjoy the period without being encumbered, and do the things I enjoy doing in the lead up. Even if you don’t have much money, you can make paper chains and salt dough cookies for decorations, you can gather branches and make your own tree with a bit of string and paint and some cheap baubles. Even gifts need not be expensive. The pound shop is a wonderful invention for those after token gifts that show you care without breaking the bank. Or why not do what some of my friends do, and bake. Cupcakes and cookies, sweets and fudge are all designed not to break the bank, but give that personal touch.

The other thing I love about christmas is the music – I adore christmas carols, the songs playing on the radio, and even the bell ringers I heard at the supermarket the other day! I’m glad it’s not christmas every day though, it would be a lot less special if it came more than once a year!

On a writing note, I’ve done so much research for book 3 it’s almost as if I was writing my disertation again! I’ve interviewed cops, other authors and have prepped my character profiles. I started penning in the last week of November and have done around 6000 words so far which isn’t too bad. Book 3 is now on hold whilst I edit book 2 which has also had the first 3 chapters sent to the wonderful Jenny Drewery (www.thewriterthebetter.co.uk). Once the editing is done I’ll move back to writing book 3, though I must admit I’m not adverse to writing at work by hand in one of my precious notebooks! You guys are gunna love Marlo, she’s so sassy! And Ali is going to come into his own in this one. I’m having a submission day tomorrow where I intend to submit en masse to as many agencies as I can fit in in the time I have, and I’ve decided that by using my positive thinking, I’ll be able to introduce you all to my agent as soon into 2014 as I possibly can! My agent is out there just waiting for my work to be submitted.

I truly hope you all have a fantastic christmas and new year – 2014 will shine down on all of you and make all your dreams come true, if you let it. Have a fabulous time, laugh lots, live well and make sure you take a moment to think about those a little less fortunate, or not celebrating due to loss or illness. I’m not sending many cards this year – instead I’m making a donation to Teenage Cancer Trust.

As always, keep your chin up, your mouth turned upwards at the sides, and stay positive. Happy holidays πŸ™‚