Tag Archives: writing

Absence, writing and rest…

My absence from social media may or may not have been noticed by you lovely people – but suffice to say I’ve had a good bit going on at home that’s meant I couldn’t be as active as I normally am.

Firstly I’ve had a bad flare with my RA – most of you know i suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis (which isn’t an old people’s disease by the way – it’s an ‘affect anyone’ disease). Normally my symptoms are pain (managed with pain relief) and awful fatigue (managed usually by resting) – for those who have no clue about RA and what it is, basically my body attacks its own joints which results in those symptoms. I am on RA medication – DMARDs (disease modifying drugs) which are supposed to help my body not be so mean to itself but these unfortunately have not been working very well. The rheumatology team took me off one of the meds i was on in October last year because it was causing other symptoms, and the one that I am on isn’t working as it should be. They made the decision back in October to move me onto biological medications which are more aggressive but should result in better control of the symptoms. I am due to start these soon.

Normally wouldn’t go into quite so much detail but the massive flare resulted in me being off work for 6 weeks – I’ve had odd days off but never such a long period for this disease and admittedly, it’s scary. I’ve never been one to sit and rest – but my legs had massive swelling and I could barely walk – stairs were a nightmare and sitting without legs elevated meant more swelling. Couple that with fatigue that quite literally knocked me on my well-padded behind, and it resulted in me not being able to work. Or write – which has been an absolute killer. Writing is my creative outlet for how I feel – it’s always been that way. It’s a therapeutic way for me to deal with my depression, oftentimes writing things down has helped me understand how I feel, and sometimes even point out why I feel that way.

Even before I started novel writing, I’ve always written in journals, expressed myself in poetry and story writing. It’s something that’s so ingrained it’s been terribly hard not being able to do it.

But – and there is always a BUT – i’m coming out of the other end of the flare now. I’ve been signed as fit for work and I’m hoping to get back into writing again in the next few days. Even if not on a novel, just getting some words or poetry down, because if there’s one thing that affects my depression, it’s being holed up in the house not able to do the things I normally do.

The good news in all this, is that thankfully, my upcoming release was with the publisher way before this flare came along – Under The Woods is book 4 in the newly branded Forensic Files (formerly known as the north east police series). My previous novels, will now be With Deadly Intent which is a stand-alone and not part of the forensic files and then I’ve Been Watching You, Time to Play, Watch You Burn and now Under the Woods. This latest one was a fantastic one to write. I’ve absolutely loved getting to know Jackson Docherty better – and TJ Tulley (Jacob’s sister in I’ve Been Watching You). Jackson’s character is different to my normal male roles – he’s had his troubles and been a bit of a jack-the-lad but now he’s settling down despite his crazy ex who has been harrassing him. And TJ, due to a medical condition she has incurred from being assaulted in I’ve Been Watching You, now owns and runs a disabled riding stables. And don’t worry – this isn’t some lovey-dovey romance – the killer in this is a particular brand of nasty. I can’t wait for you guys to read it.

I’m heading off for a short break with my hubby next month whilst my wonderful mum looks after our pooches – this break will be to focus on resting and getting well, but also writing. I’ve got the start of a great novel flying round my head – the fifth in the forensic files – and it’s one I’ve been wanting to write for ages. It’ll be set in Edinburgh (for those who don’t know, Scotland is the home of my heart) – I’ve done lots of research on it and I’m already loving the characters even though it’s only in the beginning stages. Can’t wait to crack on with it and get to grips with where the characters are going to take me.

I’ve read a little while I’ve been off – not much as my concentration level hasn’t been great, but I’ve made a sizeable dent in The M Word which is written by Eileen Wharton – it’ll be available via Bombshell Books in June 2018 and honestly, you guys need to grab a copy as soon as it’s available. Eileen is a fab writer – her humour in the novel shines through and I don’t want to finish reading it which is always a good sign.

Well that’s it for now – apologies for the delay and hopefully see you all soon. And as always, keep smiling. 🙂

 

Harrogate, home and writing …


I got back from the legendary Harrogate Crime Festival yesterday and I have to say it was honestly the best yet. I’ve been going now for about 6 years and it’s just fantastic. I get to meet up with lovely authors, readers, bloggers and those from the publishing and agencies.

I think it felt even more amazing this year because I’ve got books out – had several people come and tell me how much they’ve enjoyed my writing which is just the best feeling ever!


Managed to catch up with some I’ve only met briefly in the past – the lovely Vicky Newham, Noelle Holten, Shell Baker, Tara Lyons, Col Bury, Graham Smith, Sheila Quigley, Ian Ayris, Jo  Evans (and Scott), Ricki Thomas, Danielle Ramsay and so many more! Caught up with some of the fab members of THE Book Club too – Tracy, Helen, Sumaira, Alexina, Sharon and several more too. If I haven’t mentioned you it’s only because my blog post would end up being about 40 pages long! Rest assured though you’re all fabulous whether mentioned or not.

It’s hard to describe what makes going to Harrogate so fantastic. It’s the atmosphere, the venue, the people, the books, the panels and all those little things that don’t translate well into words.

The Thursday is generally people arriving and catching up before the awards party commences. Swiftly followed by more chatting whilst partaking in some of the beverages served in the bar. Friday there are panels to attend and socialising to do – and Saturday there are giveaways, more panels the north versus south football match which the north won – again!! –  more socialising! A lot of people only pop down on a weekend so they rush about as much as they can trying to fit everything in! There is always some gossip – but I’ll be honest and say I rarely partake in gossip though I don’t mind hearing it! 😉

Had a fan girl moment when Peter James recognised me from last year and told me he loved my top – such a nice man! Ended up being interviewed for an author only blog which is to be put out via you tube in the future.

I had a great conversation with the fabulous Kirstie Long who does a lot of PR work and hobnobs with the stars on a regular basis. Such a lovely person to sit and chat to – the hour or so we spent went very fast.

I sold a few books too which is always a good thing – still amazes me that my books are published and available for people to read and enjoy (or not as the case may be – this is equally fine as we all have different tastes). You all know I absolutely love the whole thing about writing – except the editing – and book 3 is currently with the editor! Eek!

Just want to add special thanks here to my amazing publishers – Caffeine Nights did an awful lot to get me on the map and help my name and books, Escape & With Deadly Intent, get known. Bloodhound have been and continue to be absolutely blooming fantastic – I’ve Been Watching You has been in the top 100 paid kindle chart on Amazon now for 26 days!! It was only released a month ago so that’s just fantastic!

Eventually I made my way back home – and was absolutely exhausted and sore but it was worth every moment. I can’t give enough encouragement to get out there and make your dreams come true – because when they do you realise what true happiness is. So go dance in the rain, run through the waves and accept the helping hand when offered. Seize the day and live for it while working for what you want, and be happy doing it with a smile.

Take care lovely people – be your wonderful self and keep smiling! X

Sunshine, Socialising and Friendship …

caffeine nights

I’ve just returned from the legendary Harrogate Crime Festival – and I can honestly say that for me, this was the best year yet. I’d bought a weekend rover ticket which allows access to all the events but I was far too busy to go into the majority of them. I met lots of the amazing authors from my publisher, Caffeine Nights (www.caffeine-nights.com), who are pictured above (Col Bury, Mike Craven, Nick Quantrill, Michael Fowler, Graham Smith, little old me hiding at the back and Darren Laws who is the publisher himself!) I feel very happy to be part of such an amazing team and can’t wait to work with everyone else and meet the people I haven’t yet met!

11235801_1648744818680442_6219373265795226615_n11705339_1648999955321595_4300961083829954200_n 11738061_1648744868680437_1004287396843388898_n

As well as catching up with those named above, I spent lots of time with the lovely Eileen Wharton, pictured above with Col and Graham (left) and also pictured with David Mark (centre). Had a good natter with Sheila Quigley (right) who is so amazingly supportive – in fact everyone is so supportive but Sheila is wonderful. Writing gives the rare opportunity to become part of a community. A family of sorts. And it feels like a huge family party going back to Harrogate.

Me, Eileen and Sheila plan on meeting up very soon for a writing day. It’s so lovely to catch up with friends who I haven’t seen for a long time – Sue and Terry Wilkinson who are just two of the nicest people I could ever wish to meet, also nattered with Steve Mosby, Pete Sortwell, Caitlin Warrior, Leigh Russell (though we have agreed to arrange to meet next year because we were like ships in the night other than a brief hello) and lots of the lovely folk named above from Caffeine Nights.

The weather’s been pretty good overall – relatively warm sunny days followed by slightly chillier nights. The odd shower but nothing too bad and we all know I adore the rain anyway. The hotel was fab as always, and it was great to be in the venue hotel this year.

I met some wonderful people for the first time too – Scottish Rob who’s surname I didn’t catch, the quirky Kurt from Liechtenstien who smokes the biggest cigars I’ve ever seen! Michael Fowler who is published by Caffeine Nights, Anthony Schumacher, and even the fabtastic Tracy Fenton, Helen Boyce and Sumaira Wilson – Tracy runs the best book club on Facebook – it offers a place for writers and readers to interact and she does an awesome job! I look forward to seeing them all again next year. So many more I can’t mention or I’d be here all night!

11752173_1649067345314856_6108533703028779937_n

In between all this I even had time to hobnob with the stars don’t you know. Lee Child is one of the tallest, most charming gent’s ever – a rare breed. Everyone I know enjoys his REACHER books. And not to name drop, but you know – it’s Lee Child! (photo above with Sue Wilkinson and Lee Child).

11694974_1649067355314855_8137147005181755241_n

And even found time for a chat with Paul Abbott who wrote things like Shameless and No Offence – such a nice man who’s had an amazing journey after a rough start in life. So encouraging to new writer’s too – he works very hard. And yes, there will be a second season of no offence for those wondering!

It still amazes me how friendly Harrogate Crime Festival is – you can literally turn up and everyone will speak to you. There is no snobbiness, and no clickiness. Even the fab Lee Child and Peter James were in the throngs of people willing to chat and sign books etc.

Writing wise, I had a fantastic meeting with my publisher this morning. I’ve got lots of work to do – there’ll be a short story available later this year that is the lead in to the novel, and I’ve got my schedule for editing and cover design etc. So exciting! Can’t wait to reread book 1 to familiarise myself with it again and get the trusty red pen out.

As you may have gathered from the long blog post, I’m very excited and very happy! I hope you all have a fantastic month, and as always, keep smiling. 🙂

Flowers, time and dreams…

flowers

I know I mention this regularly but isn’t it amazing how fast time flies! It’s the end of June already which means Harrogate Crime Festival is rapidly coming upon those authors and readers who use it as a platform for meeting up, nattering and generally having a good time. If you’re going let me know via facebook and I’ll look out for you 🙂

Isn’t the picture beautiful? My lovely friend Eileen Wharton got them for me – I was having a particularly bad pain day – I don’t know how to describe it other than that. Some days are better – there’s always pain at the minute but some days it’s bearable and I don’t need many pain killers. Other days it’s like I’ve been hit by a train – my joints are stiff and swollen, hot to the touch and sore. This day was very bad – worst I’ve had in fact. I couldn’t bend my fingers, my wrists ached, my shoulders wouldn’t rotate without immense pain, I could barely walk as my knee and ankles/feet were also really sore. So Eileen came through to mine and brought me lovely flowers to cheer me up – which I needed trust me! I’ve been reading a lot of articles and what not about Rheumatoid Arthritis lately – it’s not a nice thing to have. Not that any disease is obviously. I don’t even know if I have that yet – that’s a presumption based on what the consultant said at my appointment. I had more bloods taken, xrays done of my hands and feet and have to go for an ultrasound on my hands and feet so he can see what’s happening with the soft tissue surrounding the joints. Until my next rheumy appointment though, it’s just painkillers. Which didn’t touch me that day. A friend who suffers described the pain very well – it’s like a permanent toothache in your joints then suddenly something cold hits the nerve and stays for a few days.

I’m still struggling writing as it hurts to type – this blog is actually the first writing I’ve done in about 2 weeks, not to say that I’m not thinking about it mind you. If anything it’s the thinking that takes up the most time for a writer! I have been doing some research, looking up points to include in my next murder scene, and also thinking ahead to which characters I want to use in book 5, which already has a basic plot outline. It’s going to be a busy few months – I’ve got the lovely Jo Rodgrigues working on my cover for the short story I’m releasing later this year, and the short story is currently with my wonderful editor Jenny Drewery. It’ll be so exciting getting it prepped and ready for release in October/November this year as a lead in to the first novel – I know I mentioned it last blog, but my release will be in March 2016 – just so you all don’t forget!! I’ve been contemplating getting the Dragon software which allows conversion of voice to text. Will see what happens with that.

I’ve also been dreaming about writing of late – odd dreams that sometimes match my novels or are like watching a plot unfold before me – I do wake and remember them so very often I quickly scribble them down on the notebook feature of my iphone – they don’t often make a lot of sense but they do provide a good insight into the dreamworld and may be used in future novels! I’ve also acquired a new app – which amazingly is free to download from itunes. It’s called moleskine – and you’ve guessed it – it’s a notebook app! That looks like my treasured moleskine notebooks! So impressed with this am I, that I decided I’ll keep a diary documenting my disease journey. It’ll probably never see the light of day, but it’s been really helpful for me both understanding what can set off the pain, and also helping me with the therapy that only journals provide.

Anyway, as I say, it does hurt a lot to type, so I’m going to leave this short blog post here, and wish you all the best for a warm July. Look me up at Harrogate if you’re going – I’m very excited to be meeting up with all the people I’m rapidly coming to know as friends. Take care, and as always, keep smiling 🙂

positivity, pain and productivity…

IMG_2428

(image obtained from internet search)

Can’t believe it’s been 6 weeks since my last blog post! Or that it’s coming up on June already! I write this listening to some Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, and Rascall Flatts this afternoon – just in the mood for some nice smooth country music to help me along on my blog.

I’m a bit late getting it done this month – those who are friends on facebook may have noticed a few posts regarding pain and pain killers so I figure it’s about time I explain what’s going on. I’ve been suffering some symptoms for about 18 months now but blood tests just before and after christmas have shown high levels of the things looked for in Rheumatoid Arthritis – this isn’t to say that’s what I have, it’s definitely an auto-immune disease. But could equally be fibromyalgia, or any of many others. Anyway suffice to say I have been suffering from quite a lot of pain and swelling, primarily to my hands, shoulders, knees and feet. It has steadily been worsening over the last 6 months and I’m now on a pain management plan until I see the Rheumatologist in 12 days. I have mentioned having depression before – and shown how supportive I am of hidden illnesses such as this and anxiety etc. It’s the same for auto-immune diseases. You can’t necessarily see them but lots of people suffer badly with them. From my perspective, I’ve been trying to remain positive and look to the future, knowing that my hospital appointment should result in some form of treatment plan and that the pain will ease. It has been hard though – the pain is bearable most days when I take my medication but it is constant. Last week I picked up a chest infection that pretty much sent my pain levels through the roof. It’s calming down again now but there have been many tears!

I think one of the hardest struggles so far of having something like this has been not being able to write. Obviously I have a day job which is working in the police control room – I hadn’t taken any time off from this job and work have been really supportive, but with my hands being so painful, all my typing has had to be reserved for work. And it’s virtually impossible to handwrite when my hands are like this – so I’ve not been able to get a lot of writing done. I think over the last 6 weeks I’ve managed about 3000 words which is definitely not like me. I know you can get software to convert speech into writing and that may be something I look into in the future if the symptoms persist after my hospital appointment – but for now it’s just been a case of battling on.

I mention often how grateful I am for my amazing friends and family – and I’m mentioning this again. They have been truly amazing – my lovely hubby has been cleaning, cooking and looking after me, holding me when it gets too much and making me believe it’ll be ok. My wonderful mum has listened to me whinge when the pain’s bad, and been so understanding when I’m walking at a snails pace when we go for our revered Starbucks. My friends, and work colleagues have all been so mindful and lovely, asking if there’s anything they can do, helping me do the daft things my hands don’t like, like taking yogurt lids off, or the foil tops off milk. Honestly, this pain is more bearable because of the people in my life.

Obviously with how I’ve been feeling, it’s been quite hard staying positive and not letting things get to me too much. I’m quite realistic and of the view that this is as it is. I’m doing what I can to assist my joints (losing weight, keeping moving etc). But being in pain has meant that I now look even more actively for the magic in every day. In order to keep positive I need to see this magic, to feel it and know it’s there for us all. It’s this that is stopping me thinking about being low – I’ve never asked ‘why me’ and I don’t intend to. Illnesses are just that – something we can’t necessarily control. So for me, this last few months has been about accepting it for what it is, and looking forward to the hospital when I shall get some relief. This week, the magic has been so visible. Rapeseed flowers coming out, the scent drifting through the car fans as I drive to work. The fledglings leaving the nests and singing to greet the dawn in the wee hours. Amazing sun rises. My mixed flower seeds sprouting up in the pots in the yard. I’ve found myself smiling through the few tears, and on some occasions banishing the tears completely.

A bit of news I can’t remember if I mentioned on my last blog – I have a publication date!!!! My first novel, With Deadly Intent, will be published in March 2016 by Caffeine Nights Publishing. It’s all so exciting now! This year when I go to Harrogate Crime Festival, I won’t just be someone working on a novel, I’ll be an actual author who’s book will be out next year! It’s been an amazing couple of months for me where writing is concerned. Me and the lovely Eileen Wharton have been to the book launch of Howard Linsky’s No Name Lane – Howard’s a top bloke – dead approachable and easy to talk to, though I do owe him and Eileen a little payback after the hotel room prank whilst we all visited Newcastle earlier this month for Newcastle Noir festival. Met some lovely people at both these events – the fab Mari Hannah who finally knows me (haha Mari – she’ll never not recognise us again!!) – the ever so friendly Susi Holliday and her other half known only as Susi’s bitch, Alexandra Sokoloff and Craig Robertson who were both a pleasure to chat to, and of course the usual crowd, Howard, Nick Quantrill, Sheila Quigley, David Mark and Luca Veste. This year’s festival at Harrogate promises to be a weekend full of time spent with amazing authors and readers and I can’t wait to go! Next year – more festival attendances are on the horizon! Being a writer definitely promotes getting to know people and making new friends. It’s a solitary job while you write, but you more than make up for that when we all get together!

The coming month will be spent making time to get some writing done. As well as working on book 4 (which is now 2/3 of the way done), I’ve also ventured outside of my comfort zone and been working slowly on something completely different. A supernatural novel – demons! It had been screaming at me for a while, and it’s been quite a freeing experience – crime writing can be difficult – there’s lots of research and fact checking involved. With something supernatural there’s an element of freedom because of the lack of restraint – basic research and then the ability to just write the story you have inside. I’m going to continue to develop both novels, albeit slower than normal, but they’re both going to get some attention this month. And of course, a lot of time will be spent seeing the magic in each day and showing my appreciation for my family, friends, colleagues and writer friends. Hope you all have a fab month too – tell everyone you love and appreciate them, look for the magic yourselves, take care and as always, keep smiling 🙂

Music, springtime and smiles …

IMG_2891

I said in my last blog that time is flying, and boy is it ever! It’s mid April already – Easter is over and done with though admittedly there is still chocolate lying around. It’s officially springtime too – the buds are sprouting on the trees, even my lovely plum tree has the starts of blossom which is always good come September when the plums are ready. And I’ve even seen the sun! That big ball in the sky that beams down to wake everything up has started getting warmer, the days are longer and people, well people are smiling again. I don’t know what it is about winter that takes smiles and hides them away for hibernation, but it does. It’s nice to see people waking up with the rest of the world.

As you all know I’m a big believer in smiling – if one can believe in such things. I covered it in my last blog, how it can make us feel better etc, but I didn’t  mention how good it looks. It’s great to see teeth popping out from between lips as people show the happiness they are feeling at the time they are feeling it. Genuine smiles are precious – how many times do people smile at us and we do that kind of half smile back – the half smile that says ‘erm, yeah, great thanks, whatever.’ I’ve been thinking today that people surely deserve the whole shabang – right? That massive wide toothy grin that can’t help but bring forth the same response in whomever it’s aimed at.

I’ve been trying to smile even more than normal this month – I’ve got some health issues I hinted at last month, nothing has been diagnosed as yet but it’s meant I’ve been in pretty much constant pain with one thing or another, and it feels some days, like smiles are a million miles away. So I’ve been making the effort to pull them forth, because I’m trying not to be the bearer of frowns for my friends and family. They are all patient, listen to me whinge if it’s really hurting, but there’s lots of people so much worse off. I have an awesome, supportive family, and trust me, family isn’t all about blood. Family are the people who are there for me no matter what. And I appreciate every single one of them. So I’m smiling for them – I’m smiling for me too, and the people I pass in the street. Because everyone deserves a smile. A genuine smile. Every single day.

I’ve been working hard on the latest novel, for the most part, and I’m loving the route it’s taking. The characters are now well ingrained into me – I know them, I know their fears and their loves. And I already hear distant screaming from those who will feature in book 5, can hear the plots start to form in the crevasses in my mind. I’m not the kind of writer who enjoys working on more than one project at a time. Until I hit my late 20s I was always a starter but never a finisher – I’d start a new project but never finish it. University taught me, among other things, to finish each project so that I was free to move on to the next. Admittedly, essay wise, I often had many on the go at once, but I’d work on one, then put that to bed and work on the next so to speak. With my writing I have to stick to working on one project at a time – otherwise I’d risk falling into old habits and not finishing what I’m working on. So for now, it’s book 4. Then I’ll edit book 3, and later this year will be working with my publisher on book 1, and self publishing the short story which is the prequel to book 1, then finally I’ll start on book 5. I’m already looking forward to it though – sitting in the library for hours doing book research, speaking to people and getting an insight. I love that writing gives me the freedom to learn without my mind even realising that I’m learning!

Going back to the whole smile thing, I have to mention music. Music is one of the most magical things we have – I love music of all kinds, from classical to rock, some rap, ballads, and chart music. For me, there’s always those albums you reach for when you feel a certain way. And I use the music to enhance these feelings, open my mind and let me explore what’s going on within. Sometimes it’s because I feel down or low, but mostly I listen to music because it makes me feel happy. I was listening to Luke Bryan the other day – he’s a country artist who’s quite big in America but less heard of here in the UK. Yes some of his songs are about ‘drinking beer and shooting bullets’ (he’s from Georgia so it’s normal down there I hear), but some are sang with such feeling, like ‘drink a beer’ – which sounds as though it’s about drinking again, but in reality it’s a song about saying goodbye to a dear friend. Or if you want a bit more upbeat, there’s ‘chuggin’ along’ – which is just about living each day as it comes and taking the bad with the good. He’s got that velvety smooth southern style of singing that draws you in and makes you want to listen and sing along. Which was fine that day. The next day though, I was going back in time to the 70’s and singing ‘carry on my wayward son’ by Kansas, and then coming back to the current and singing ‘Take me to church’ by Hozier. I love how much emotion singers can put into their music, how they can influence a mood and pick you up from the gutter when you need it. I’m not naive enough to believe that music cure’s all ails, but for me, it has always been a huge part of my life. Think about the songs that have impacted on you – wedding songs, songs that make you think of a certain person, songs that make you cry, songs that make you jump up and dance (even if, like me you have 2 left feet!) – and go and listen to it!

As I write this blog today, I’m sitting smiling. At you all – because you’re kind enough to read and hopefully enjoy the things I chat about here, because you deserve to be smiled at just for being you and being awesome, and because today has been a good day. The sun rose in the sky this morning, I woke up and had an enjoyable morning and afternoon, I listened to some music, had some tea, spent some quality time with my hubby, and have now written this little blog that I enjoy doing so much. Hopefully my smile will be infectious – it leads in to how I always end – thanks for reading, and as always, keep smiling 😀

Writing, plans and smiles…

IMG_3807

It’s been such a busy month, or is that just me? Seems like this year is just flying by – one of those blink and you miss it moments. On the plus side, spring time is rapidly approaching which is always a lovely time of year. Buds sprouting, baby birds in the nests, and best of all, warmer weather (for those who don’t particularly like the winter months – those unlike me!!)

I’ve been particularly busy – lots of writing and editing going on. Book 4, Watch You Burn, is now well under way and officially passed the half way point around 5000 words ago! It’s hard to describe how exciting that feels – when you start the novel, it looms ahead like an almost impossible task, then you learn to love your characters, the plot starts to make sense, and before you know it you pass the quarter mile. Then the twists and turns start happening, and the plot becomes more intricate, throwing you curve balls that even you didn’t see coming. I know my WIP (work in progress) did! Out of nowhere a man with a baseball bat arrived at my crime scene – and I won’t give you any other teasers, but suffice to say he shocked me with his arrival. I’ve also been editing book 3.

People often ask how I have time to write when I work full time – there isn’t an easy answer to this, but I would say that most of it comes down to planning. I’m quite lucky to have a job, that on the occasions when it isn’t too busy, allows a little freedom for doing ones own thing – some people read, some do puzzles, and I write. I also schedule in writing time on my rest days from my day job, whether that be sitting in Starbucks with my author friend Eileen Wharton, or sitting on the couch in my pyjamas. If  I don’t schedule the time in and use my writing diary, then unfortunately procrastination takes over and I find other things to do. This means I have to be quite strict with myself. It also means I need to plan in advance.

I’m currently working on the behind the scenes stuff that’s involved in self-publishing – the plan is to release a short story at the back end of this year that will lead into the publication of my first novel, With Deadly Intent, next year by the lovely folk at Caffeine Nights Publishing. The short story is a prequel – back story to one of my main characters. I’m working with a fab cover designer, and it’s already with my editor so it’s all go! I’ll naturally keep my blog up to date with releases etc.

As well as being so busy, it’s been a funny old month in general. You all know I suffer depression, and my lovely hubby suffers anxiety – he’s been quite bad of late but you’ll be pleased to learn he is now picking up and is feeling much better. I had been struggling with some pain, and had bloods at the docs which have come back and resulted in a referral to hospital – for another hidden disease which I’ll go more into when it’s been confirmed. Makes me remember an old saying though – ‘You never know what struggles other people are going through’ or words to that effect anyway. Lots of us have hidden diseases and disabilities that aren’t visible or spoken about. We all have battles we fight, and suffering we hide. It’s always worth remembering that when you look at other people. Suffering with the things I have makes me reluctant to judge others – I have become more understanding because of the battles I fight, and in some ways, I think, a stronger person. Just because someone smiles widely, doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy. Most people don’t like to burden other people with their woes – how many of us tell the truth when someone asks how we are? The standard issue answer of ‘I’m fine’ always pops onto the tongue, for me anyway. Sometimes we just have to learn to accept the ‘I’m fine’ but also understand that people are not always fine.

I smile easily – I’m a pretty positive person, and I enjoy interacting with people as well as spending time on my own. I have always been a smiler – my junior school teacher Mrs Muztachs saw me when I was 16 and working in Morrisons, and said then that she’d never forget me because of my smile. A smile makes all the difference – it makes difficult things a little easier, it makes those around us see we are approachable, and of course, it uses less muscles in the face than it takes to frown, therefore making it an excellent beauty tip – I often get comments that I don’t look as old as I am – and I think that’s because I smile. This is just my way of saying keep smiling, like I do at the end of every blog post, albeit a little extended today. If smiling instinctively makes us happier, even just for a moment on our darkest days, then it’s worth doing more. So, as always, keep smiling 🙂

Contentment, happiness and winter …

IMG_4071

Goodness January seemed like a long month – it could be the dark nights and falling temperatures but it seemed to stretch on and on which is most unusual, as in my life, time tends to pass at light speed.

As I get older, it becomes much easier to recognise the things that give me contentment, that make me happy. And they’re not the materialistic things. It’s nice having the latest gadget, or a big TV, or even portable harddrives so I can write when I want where I want, but these aren’t what gives me contentment or makes me happy. Contentment is coming home after a tough day at work to a loving husband, an affectionate dog, and a hot cup of coffee. Contentment is having the opportunity and choice to wear my pyjamas all day when I’m not working if that’s what I want to do. Contentment is waking up in the morning knowing there’s a whole day ahead of me where anything could make that day an adventure. Contentment is building a wealth of memories with the people I love each and every day, like my weekly (at least) visits to Starbucks with my fantastic mum who turned 60 in January, having coffee and a natter with my friend Claire and putting the world to rights, texting my friend Ange who works away dealing with disasters and all that entails, chatting to my friends Vicky and Eileen who help keep me focussed on my goals, and of course, my constant texts and conversations with everyone else I haven’t mentioned in this list.

And contentment leads very nicely into happiness. It’s been a tough couple of months for my tired mind – I’ve had the usual money worries that come after christmas, my hubby hasn’t been too well (though he’s improving now), and I’ve been less grateful for what I do have, and wanting more of what I don’t. It’s led to my depression flaring up – I’ve felt self-doubt, lack of self-worth, and worst of all, it makes me get irritated easily. I’ve had a lot of days where I haven’t slept great, and had nightmares, and a lot of days where I haven’t wanted to leave the house. Not that most people would realise, as like most people who suffer depression, I’m good at wearing my daily mask. The mask that tells people all is well and that I am happy. Truth be told, I’m coming out of it now and it hasn’t been as bad this time as it often is in the past when I have a flare up – this pleases me as perhaps one day I will see a life without suffering depression at all. I’m currently reopening my eyes and seeing the magic in the world, letting in the light to dispel the dark and focussing on where I want to be. The picture above is of some cheaply bought pansies, but I love the colour saturation and fringes of purple in the white. The sun shining on the flowers helps me believe that spring is on it’s way and the freezing cold temperatures will soon be fading.

I adore winter – I realise you wouldn’t think that from the comments above about the cold, but I do. I love the sparkle of the frost on the cars, and the crunching of it underfoot. I love the bright, blinding white of the snow when it falls, and the way the flakes float to the ground. I love the cold – there’s nothing better than pink rosy cheeks and cold fingers when you know you’re on your way somewhere to get warmed up. I love how England as a country sleeps through the winter months, in the knowledge that soon a big stretch will take place and springtime will slowly wake. That said, and I don’t know if this is an age thing or if it’s just been with how I’ve been feeling of late, but it’s been a cold one this year. Not so much temperature wise, we’ve not had many days below 0′ C, but I’ve felt the cold. It’s seeped through my bones into my very soul on some occasions, and it’s taking me a lot to stay close to anything that could even be said to resemble warm. As much as I love the winter, I’m looking forward to the buds bursting forth and slightly warmer temperatures with which to keep looking for the magic of life.

A lad fell in the river in Durham last week – to all intents and purposes a very lucky lad as it could have all been so much worse than it was. He was heard screaming for help by a passer by – at 0145 in the morning (as I say, very lucky!) – said passerby did his good deed and rang the police who raced to the scene and pulled the lad out of the river. The subsequent news headlines said ‘alcohol was an influencing factor’. I mention this because it leads in to my feelings about luck – I believe a lot of luck is made yourself, whether it be bad luck (by focusing on the negative all the time) or good luck (by focussing on the positive), but I also believe in Karma or fate. Que sera sera and all that. I’ve worked really hard over the last couple of years focussing on being positive and believing that my positive thinking would have a good outcome – and despite the occasional bouts of depression – it really has made a difference. I see the magic in a lad being rescued from the river, I see the beautiful nature and power of people giving to a disabled man attacked in the street in Gateshead and the funds raised giving him the power to do the things he wants to do, I see the amazing effect a small pot of flowers can have on my mood, and I know, without a shadow of doubt, that I am alive and happy and content. Whatever life throws at me, I will deal with because of who I am, who my friends and family are, and because I believe it will be so.

February will be an awesome month – I’ve got lots of writing planned, book 4 is now over a third of the way through. Kevin and Edina’s character’s are coming to life and speaking to me pretty much daily now – there is no escape other than to get those words down on paper (or screen – whichever is closest). I have book 3 to edit shortly also so it’s all go.

I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to you all too – without people reading my honestly written blog, and visiting my website, and wanting more writing from me, or just plain being supportive, then I wouldn’t be where I am today. Each and every one of you is awesome, and I feel like I know you all as friends, even if we’ve never met. Life is so fleeting – it’s good to be able to touch other people. So keep touching me, keep filling my eyes with tears of happiness, and often sadness. Be true to yourselves, do what makes you happy, and as always, keep smiling 🙂

New Year, good vibes and snowdrops …

DSC_1362

 

Above photo taken by me on a visit to Scotland.

 

Well it’s been another busy Christmas period and new year. I had the privilege of being off over Christmas which was lovely. I spent time with family, managed a little editing and was royally spoiled rotten by all my amazing family and friends. I adore Christmas- it’s just a shame it’s over in the blink of an eye! I spent a busy new year at work, and have been training a new starter for the last few weeks too. I enjoy training people – some people hate it, refuse to do it, and struggle with the hard work and patience that training gives – but not me. I enjoy providing newbies with the skills they need to do the job and feel a sense of pride when they get their wings and fly solo. My newbie was a treasure to teach too which always makes it easier. He said throughout though that it was an eye opener – classroom training just doesn’t provide the experience that on the job training does! It’s essential, but the on the job stuff is equally so!

I’ve been doing some networking over the last few weeks – have enlisted a few more readers for my novel so when it is released, people will hopefully assist with providing a review. So far it’s just friends and family, but when I get nearer to publication I’ll put it out there on social media for a select few readers to read before release so keep toot!

I’m currently half way through a well-earned fortnight off from my day job. Have done some cleaning (boring I know, and definitely not worth reading about so I’ll not go into detail!), some writing and still have another week to go! Tomorrow I’m indulging in socialising with my good friends Vicky Brown, and Eileen Wharton – I’m cooking too – doesn’t get much better does it! Good friends, good conversation, flowing alcohol (for those who drink – personally I’ll stick to coffee) and hopefully good food if I can get to grips with Vicky’s cooker! Am very excited, have been looking forward to it for ages. Spending tomorrow daytime prepping the food, doing some baking (both for my neighbour, my hubby, Vicky’s kids, and also for Vicky who is gluten intolerant but it doesn’t mean you don’t get cake – when I’m baking there’s cake for everyone!) and then hopefully I’ll also fit in some editing. Book 3 editing has now begun – and for those who know me, you’ll all know I hate editing! It’s one of those necessary evils of writing. But the finished draft is always worth it!

I’ve spent a few days catching up on TV, which isn’t something I get to do very often, and definitely not something I normally blog about – have to admit though, I’ve loved finishing Sons of Anarchy, and am absorbed in watching The Originals – neither of which are shows I normally would opt to watch, being a huge fan of both British and american crime shows. If you get chance, give them a watch. The scripts, plot and acting are fab! As I write my blog today, hubby has Roadhouse on the TV – classic kick ass action with the swoon-worthy Patrick Swayze – script and acting leave a little to be desired in places but it still remains a staunch fave! Rule 1 – never underestimate your opponent, expect the unexpected. Rule 2: Take it outside. Rule 3. Always be nice. Rules to live by if you ask me!

I’m looking forward to getting tucked into reading the next Mo Hayder novel (well next for me anyway, it’s the Jack Caffrey book 5) – love her terrifying writing style! Also in my to read list in the very near future is the newest book from the lovely and ever humorous Pete Sortwell – it’s called The Diary of a Restless Father and you can get it on amazon here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Diary-Restless-Father-months-10-15-ebook/dp/B00QED3U68/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1421700566&sr=1-7&keywords=pete+sortwell – Pete is a wonderfully funny writer, definitely worth a read.

Well I shall sign off here for now – hope you all have a fantastic January and, as always, keep smiling. 🙂

Beginnings, ends and Christmas …

Merry-Christmas

I can’t believe it’s been 2 months since my last blog – where does the time go! Seriously – it’s just gone so fast. Kind of a blink and you miss it period of time. It actually scares me a little how fast it actually goes.

By the complete lack of updates, you’ll all be aware that I’ve been really busy – so much to cover and I don’t want to drone on so I’ll just start from the beginning, which to be fair is where all good stories start. So last blog was in October, at which point I mentioned I’d sent my first novel off to a publisher – the amazing, fantastic, still-bouncing-around-the-room-in-joy news is that my novel has been accepted for publication from the lovely Darren Laws of Caffeine Nights publishing – http://caffeine-nights.com/ and my first novel will be published in 2016. I am, understandably, still amazed and chuffed with this! I’m very much looking forward to working with Darren and the team, and can’t wait until the first copy of my novel drops onto my front door mat.

As a writer, it’s a little surreal if I’m honest. I spend my life working my day job, and burying myself in my imagination to bring to life the stories that are lurking there. It’s been my dream to be published for a long time now, and throughout my writing to date, I’ve been through what every writer goes through – self-doubt, lack of self-confidence, nervousness, despair – honestly unless you write it’s so hard to comprehend the feeling of desolation as yet another rejection pops into your inbox. It gets so you expect the rejection, and even if you believe your work is good (and I’ve never met a writer yet who does think their work is actually good enough for publication – it’s a hope we all have, but it’s never a foregone conclusion) – when you get that acceptance, it’s like everything you do is made worthwhile.

When I first met Darren at Harrogate Crime Festival this year (2014), I was really nervous about pitching. I’d always sent my novel off to agents with a cover letter and the text requirements, but had never actually spoken to someone who was so embroiled in the real world of publishing. It was scary let me tell you! I remember I’d walked to the venue hotel from my hotel which was a good 10 minutes walk away, and at some point in that 10 minutes I’d managed to get a mucky mark on my newly adorned white top. So when Ian Ayris and Eileen Wharton, both fellow authors, suggested (or rather pushed) that I talk to Darren, I was understandably reluctant. I mean, he would think I was a right nut job, going to him outside of a crowded bar with my dirty white top, stuttering and trying to formulate words. If you knew me, you’d never think I would get that nervous, but I was. Anyway, cutting a long story short, and with a little help from my friends, I spoke to Darren, several times over the weekend to be fair, and he asked me to send in my first three chapters. Then he asked to see the whole novel, and at this point I was still poised for the polite ‘thanks but no thanks’. When the email came offering me a publishing contract, I had to read it several times to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. And I’ve read it several times since, as well as sending my freshly signed contract back! Suffice to say, it feels amazing to know I’ll be a published author in 2016! Such an amazing end to 2014 and beginning to 2015 which is where all the planning and hard work really begins!

I went on holiday in November with my ever patient and loving hubby, Peter, who is absolutely thrilled about it all of course. And going on holiday afforded me some much needed time to write – working full time sometimes makes writing hard – but sitting in the shade, with an endless supply of cappucino was definitely a plus! I can’t believe book 4, provisionally titled Watch You Burn, is 20,000 words in already! This one is arson based, and the characters are fantastic – Edina Blaze is feisty, damn good at her job, family orientated and independent all at once – am loving how her character is coming to life! And the arson scenes, though gruelling to write, will be at least be accurate – much research, and also excellent input and assistance from the lovely Gary Currie of Teesside University, as well as input from the endless cops I speak to at work. I’m looking forward to continuing and seeing where this one goes.

So did you realise it’s December and it’s Christmas next week? I almost missed that – haha. I am of course joking! Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I love the sparkly decorations and lights, love the christmas songs, love the feeling of good cheer, and absolutely adore being able to spoil the people that mean so much to me. I do let people know how much they mean all year, how much I’m grateful for them being there and for their support, both with my writing and with everything else too, but Christmas, for me, is all about seeing people smile. I know some people hate christmas, and some people have horrible christmasses, and I appreciate how hard it can be at this time of year. I give to charity, and try and do my bit for strangers, but I can never forget how magical the whole season always was for me. I was very lucky as a child – my mum brought me and my brother up on her own on a very limited income, but we always had amazing christmasses. There was always turkey, tinsel and presents, and the house was always filled with love. One of the things I miss the most since my Grandad died, is my christmas sock. He’d take a woolly sock (not worn) and fill it with fruit, a few sweets and a 50p piece wrapped up tight in an envelope. Even as an adult, it was the first thing I went for as soon as he walked in the house. It was a tradition. One I know my mum will do for our kids, if and when we ever have them.

Anyway, enough about my family christmasses – this year it’s all about you guys. I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas, and that 2015 helps make all your dreams come true – you are the reason I write this blog, the reason I open myself up online, one of the reasons I write. Every one of you is so supportive, and interactive – my facebook timeline is filled with friends I never would have known if not for the wonder of social media, and many that I would perhaps have lost touch with. I see your happiness and sadness every day – and I feel so proud when I think about how happy you all make me. I truly hope that happiness abounds and you all have the best time.

Thank you – for another fantastic year, for being who you are, and for all the opportunities I know will present in 2015. Take care, have a great christmas, and as always, keep smiling 😀