Monday, 31 December 2012

Ready, set... go!

Happy New Year to you!

After the mad blogging spree of the A-Z in April, I have neglected my poor little blog somewhat, I think.  Blame the day job and the pressures of running a household!

Unsurprisingly, my New Year's Resolution is to get it back on track - to have guests over to my blog and to schedule a post for at least once a week. I can't pretend I'm going to have more time, but I'm going to try to spread myself a little less thinly this year thanks to my new discovery...

Actually, I didn't discover it, a fellow blogger very helpfully recommended it...

I have been setting a timer to write for one hour at a time which has worked fantastically for me because it makes me keep on with it instead of dipping in and out of Facebook all the time while I'm supposed to be working.  I'm now going to extend that and set a timer for a maximum of , say, 10 mins a day looking at FB and another 15-30 mins on email/other internet browsing.  Three times a week I'll give myself 30 mins for catching up with blogs and/or writing mine. If I added up all the time I've spent sitting on my bum staring at a screen this year (not including writing time) I know I'd be shocked. In 2013, I'm giving my eyes a rest when the writing's done and taking myself off to do something equally productive - like cooking or reading!
So, that's my resolution for the New Year - what will yours be?

Friday, 14 December 2012

Counting Down...

Season's Greetings!

I'm counting down to Christmas - it's that final week at the day job before two glorious weeks off - and looking forward to schmaltzy films on DVD and the scent of Christmas baking every evening next week. Yay!

It's also the count-down to something else - something else I'm really looking forward to - which is the 100k in 100 Days challenge set up by Sally Quilford.  You can read about it here and it's not too late to sign up if you fancy a bit of company while you write and a challenge to boot! I already know I most likely won't do 100k in 100 days, but it will certainly encourage me to write more, which is what it's all about! There's a Facebook page

I finished a story this evening which I've submitted and now I am having a well-earned brain break until the 1st January when the challenge starts.  I may do a little planning by hand between now and then (in fact, I definitely SHOULD!) but the laptop will not be smokin'!

There's a Facebook page here for anyone interested in the 100k in 100 Days. Maybe I'll see you there in the New Year - I hope so! Message me and say 'Hi' if you're taking part!

In light of all the film-watching and baking that's going to be happening in this house from now until December 24th, I think I'll say "Bye for now," and wish you a very...


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

IWSG - Flitting!

It's the first Wednesday of the month AGAIN - how can that be? It's also the final one of this year, which is hard to believe!

I'm looking forward to hopping around to find out what everyone's insecure about this month. My insecurity this month is lack of belief in my ability to stick with a project.

I'm a flitter.  It's a fact.  I get bored easily. 

It's been strange to discover this about myself because I'm endlessly patient waiting in queues and I'm happy to sit and think my thoughts in waiting rooms or at bus stops, so it's not a case of being impatient.

Or maybe it is!

Maybe part of the trouble is that I don't have the patience to get into a project for the long-haul.  Now that I think about it, quite a few of my posts have been on this subject!

I change my mind a lot, lose heart, lose the impetus to continue...

There's no magic wand to wave. The only person who can sort this out is me.

When I start my next novel I will keep other projects on the go to dip into if I'm not feeling the love for the new one. I will try to know where each strand of the story is going but not in such a way that there is no room for change or tangents (I'm a pantster). I will bribe myself with something nice to have or do if when I get to the end. It's got to be something really good - something I will save for during the writing period.

I wonder whether I'll be whingeing the same old whinge this time next year, or whether I'll have cracked it?!

Wishing you a secure and successful 2013!

Linda x

Monday, 3 December 2012

Love and Loss

Mum aged about 58 with her cousins Keith and Michael

It would have been my mum's 70th birthday today (she died at 63) which has brought me to the theme of loss and how it has played a large part in my writing.

I hadn't realised how much loss figured in what I'd written until a colleague pointed it out to me. All but one of the stories I have had published in Woman's Weekly dealt with loss in one form or another, but I hadn't noticed! I suppose I was so busy enjoying writing them it didn't register.

There was the elderly father and daughter trying to keep their relationship together after losing the wife/mother (not autobiographical!); the woman trying to be strong as she left her dream home and life to look after her grandsons; the young woman revisiting the house where her mother committed suicide when she was a child; the old lady in a home who has lost her love and her life as she knew it; the newly-divorced man holding a birthday party for his child and steeling himself to welcome his wife's new partner into the house; the woman returning to meet her ex-husband at the place they holidayed as kids, having lost her younger sister... And then, hooray! One without a theme of loss! A woman looking for love as she works the summer in Greece doesn't have to look far as it follows her from home!

A strange thing happened, though. Once I had written all this loss out of my system, my inspiration for short stories suitable for Woman's Weekly dried up. I have only just made the link! I seem incapable of thinking up interesting storylines with a twist or surprise now that I have run out of loss!

I turned to writing erotica, to keep on being published and keep my confidence up, but am now - I think - ready to go for it with the new mainstream novel I've been plotting and hatching. It has several strands and one, I admit, is to do with loss, but I think I've moved on enough to have something else to write about.

So, Mum, Happy Birthday. You have given me a lot to write about. I wish so much you had been around to read it, but if you had been it probably wouldn't have been written or published. Such is life. And loss. And love.

Thanks for reading.  Do you have a recurring theme in your writing?

Monday, 26 November 2012


Can I vent? Please?

I work from 8.45 til 3.15pm, keep the house clean, cook the meals, prepare packed lunches, do the washing and look after everyone's interests as best I can. I put a lot in - can't I take a little something out, such as maybe an hour a day to write?

I always end up feeling guilty!

Apparently tonight (5.30pm, rush hour) the buses aren't running well. I receive a call from one of the kids asking for a lift home from town which is a 35 minute walk. It is raining and said kid finds it unnecessary to take an umbrella out with them in the mornings, apparently.  When I refuse to go and pick this nameless teen up because a) the car is up the road in the garage, b) it's rush hour and c) I'm writing, the response is: "(snort) Writing!" as though it's a ridiculous thing to be doing. The implication is clearly that I am putting my writing before my motherly duties.

I got angry and hung up.

Now I can't write, anyway! 

And I'm feeling guilty!

End of rant.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A saucy freebie!

It's that time of year when we would hibernate if we were animals!  Cold, damp... ugh! How about a freebie to cheer you up?

Xcite books are giving away collection of five erotic paranormal stories on Kindle entitled Distraction from the 20th to the 24th November...

Something to curl up under the duvet with on those cold winter nights?


Monday, 19 November 2012

Guest blog post

My alter-ego, erotica writer Bel Anderson, is guest-blogging over on the lovely Elizabeth Cage's post Kissing Velvet - please pop over and say hello!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

More annoyed than insecure!

Insecure and writing go hand in hand as most of us know!  I've learned to cope with it, but what I can't get my head around is the way I dilly and dally some days and basically do anything to avoid writing. 

I love writing, so what's going on? 

Yes, I'm tired after work.  Yes, I have other things I probably should do instead of writing.  BUT I've already worked out how to deal with that stuff - I give myself a writing 'slot'.  So why is it so hard to pop in the memory stick and get going?  It's worse when I'm on my own in the house, strangely enough.  I write best with my husband on the X-Box at the other end of the room talking into his headset and making loads of noise.

Maybe I can't cope with the pressure to make the most of my time alone and get lots down?

Do let me know if you have the same sort of problem!

Happy November Insecure Writer's Support Day!

You can find out who else is taking part over at Alex J Cavanaugh's blog.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

An Award!

    A big thank you to Annalisa at Wake up, Eat, Write, Sleep for this Top Commenters Award!  Although I don't get much time to blog, I do try and keep up with the blogs I follow from time to time (how does everyone else keep up?!)  It seems that if I have a spare hour I should be writing, not blogging - it feels a bit naughty! 

Anyway, my nominees for the Top Commenter Award are:

LG Smith at Bards and Prophets
Mama J at Mama J Hearts
Rachel at Writing on the Wall
Heather at Random Interruptions
Pat Newcombe
Dana at The Daily Dose
Vikki at The View Outside

Over on my other blog you can read about what else I've been up to if you have time or want to.  I'm currently writing an erotic novella and I'm at the planning stage for a mainstream novel.  I just wish I could win the Lottery so I could give up work and do my writing justice...  (how many of us have said that?)

I feel like a juggler most of the time - don't we all? Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

WIP it up!

Well, the WIP is, indeed, in P! 

At the weekend, I decided that it was hard-going (for me, anyway - I think I have a very low boredom-threshold) and decided to spice it up a bit.  Well, quite a lot, really.

You can read about my decision on my other blog here if you want to, or you can just keep on reading right here!

My ongoing struggle is with concentration.  I don't know whether it's just that I'm already worn out from my day-job before I even start on the writing most days, whether it's hormonal (time of life, sigh!) or something more sinister (yikes!)  I'm actually going to see my doctor tomorrow as it's having an impact on my writing, let alone on my conversation!  Mind you, I'm not alone - I had dinner with a friend last Friday and at one point neither one of us could remember how we had got onto a subject and where it had come from or was meant to be going...  That's ok in a darkened Nando's over a bottle of wine, but not so great when part of your plot has upped and done a runner before you've had a chance to make a note of it!

Anyway, to cut to the chase (I think I can remember where I was going with this...) I have made my WIP a lighter read, something my oscillating mind can cope with - still with a similar story-line, but something I can dip in and out of and still know where it's meant to be heading.

I have a feeling that tomorrow the doc is going to tell me there's nothing she can do or give me, in which case I'll have to find another way of sharpening my mind.

Has anyone got any suggestions for alternative therapies, herbal remedies etc?  I'd be glad to know if you have!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Some Like It Hot...

... And some don't, of course, which is why I have started a separate blog under my pen-name for my slightly friskier writing!

If you have nothing against a bit of erotica, please do follow me here!  If you don't, please don't stop following me as I'll be blogging here too as usual!

Thanks for stopping by - hope to see you on the other side!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The difference... (IWSG)

First Wed of Every Month

Yes, I've been feeling different.  I've realised that what people have been saying is true: that it's worth taking time over your novel, thinking about it, taking time out if necessary to get to know your characters and your plot... and that no writing is wasted writing or wasted time.

So, you're probably going - "Well, yes, duh!" - but although I knew it was true I couldn't feel it, didn't feel it was the right way for me.  I was in a constant frenzy of "Must get this done! No time to lose!" and felt like a complete failure when I stalled or, worse, gave up.

I'm 15,000 words into my novel and I know I've got to start again.  I've been writing 3 characters and jumping from one to the other and feel now that I'm losing the momentum and that it's bitty.  Usually, this would have been the point where I felt as though I was never going to succeed and would have been totally down on myself, full of self-loathing and would have abandoned the project. 



Somehow, my psyche has accepted that it will be a long slog and that if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.  I like this story, I like these characters, I have the location clear in my mind and all I have to do is work out the best way to tell the story.  And I will.

So, how are you doing?  Hope I'll find out on the IWSG bloghop.  You can see who's taking part over at Alex's blog here.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Well, not at the moment!

I want to share a secret with you!

I have totally, totally chilled out about writing.  Honest.  Last year I went through a lot of angst about fitting it into my life, lack of self-belief, being stuck in a writing rut etc etc and for the past few months I have really managed to get my head around it.

I had a novel I was afraid to start - but I now realise I couldn't start it because I didn't fully believe in it and didn't completely like my main character.  I took a break from trying and while I was lying in the sun the solution came to me.  The setting is the same, the characters are slightly different and so is the plot.  It needed a tweak, was all.  I'm 6,000+ words in now.  Progress is slow because I've got the 'fuzzy head' that affects women of a certain age (which seems to basically mean anywhere between 40 and 60!) and I have to work harder to pull my thoughts together, but if I do 200, 300, 400 words a day I'm happy.  More than that and I'm dancing!

I stopped trying to write shorts for women's magazines, although I'd had a lot of success initially.  My mind isn't in the right place and I needed to find other outlets.  I've had several stories accepted by Xcite Books and although it's not going to make me a famous millionaire, having stories accepted is as much of a thrill as writing them (ahem!)  Seeing a list of publications containing my stories on Amazon is a pleasure I have to keep on revisiting!  I think that little bit of cheeky success spurred me on to write my novel, actually.

Xcite are offering a free e-book on Kindle between the 8th and 12th September here. Beltane Fire is an historical collection which may or may not contain one of mine.  You'll never know! Ha!  If it's your sort of thing, why not grab a freebie?

My advice to anyone feeling insecure is to try and find a way to chill out about writing.  It's not that easy, but once you find that place in your head that blocks out doubt and desperation and just lets you enjoy it, everything becomes easier.

Enough from me!  I'm off to read your IWSG blogposts!  (This is a blog-hop - find the list here at Alex J Cavanaugh's blog.)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

My First Meme!

I know I'm lagging behind everyone else (again probably) but I've been so confused about what a meme is!  My daughter tried to explain it to me, but I still didn't really get it.  I've looked it up on Wikipedia and I'm still not all that much the wiser, ho ho!  Oh well...

Anyway, I think I get the principle of the thing - it's something you pass on that mutates with other's take on it, their experiences, etc.  I think.

Annalisa Crawford's latest blogpost over at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep offers up this meme to anyone who wants to take part and as it's quite a simple one for meme-newbies like me, here we go!

The idea is to find the first instance of the word 'look' in your WIP and post the surrounding paragraph.  I had lots of 'looked's, as my WIP is in the past tense, but I bypassed them and finally found a 'look':

The folded hands wavered and rose.  In spite of her bravado, Anna braced herself, but instead of coming her way they settled over her mum’s face as she sank heavily into the chair opposite.

“I don’t know what to do with you.  I just don’t.”  The hands flopped into her lap to reveal a look of such pathetic helplessness that Anna had to stifle an urge to spring across the room and scratch her eyes out.

“Leave me alone.”  Anna pulled her knees up, uncaring that her trainers were on the much-prized new upholstery.  “That’s what you can do.”

“Anna…” her mum heaved a sigh and wiped what might or might not have been a tear from beneath her right eye.  Anna rolled her eyes and hoped fervently that she wasn’t going to turn on the waterworks.  No matter what, that woman could turn every situation round to make it about herself.  And this was about Anna: Anna who was quite old enough to know when she’d broken the law and could decide perfectly well for herself whether or not to care.
I don't want to put anyone on the spot by tagging them - but please consider yourself tagged and take part if you want to!  Leave me a comment and let me know if you're taking part so I can make sure I check it out!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Look away now if it's Not Your Thing!

Not everyone likes erotica - and I'm talking proper erotica, not your 'top of the bestseller list' erotica - but if you do, please check out this collection! 

Xcite Books have just become available for Kindle and Cougar and Kitten will be available as a free download between the 17th and 21st August.  If you've read this far... go on, treat yourself to a titillating freebie! 

Monday, 6 August 2012


Has anyone not read it?  I mean, of course, Fifty Shades of Grey.  I've just come back from Zakynthos where just about everyone on the beach seemed to have a copy - including the Greeks - and I can't believe how many conversations I overheard about it!  I have to say, a LOT of people seemed to be really enjoying it.

I felt compelled to read it - considering it my duty as a writer - and now I feel compelled to give my take on it...

As many others have said, it doesn't need to be 3 books long - there is a lot of waffle and repetition.  I was itching to get out my red pen and give it a good editing!  The hub of the plot, I thought, came along a bit too late and peaked after I'd already lost interest.  The sex... I don't know.  I didn't get turned on by it.  It was very 'samey', with the same terminology used and Ana seemed to be able to come to order... What a lucky girl!

I'm worried that so many women now seem to be in love with 'Mr Grey' as I couldn't really take to him at all, even with the (endless) references to him as a troubled little boy and his unbelievable sexual prowess.  I thought he was frighteningly controlling and I could only wish Ana good luck.  I don't think that marriage will last!

HOWEVER, it probably wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting.  I quite enjoyed the first book and half of the second - and I'm sure I'd have enjoyed the third if I hadn't started to get so sick of the characters.  I managed to like Ana to start with, but I went off her.  She veered between being pathetically wimpy and stupidly head-strong.  I'd also lost interest by then because I was getting bored with the repetitive sex.  I'm a very critical reader as well - I can't deny it - and was also reading it with a slightly envious writer's eye.

If I was E L James, I'd be absolutely thrilled at its success but rather mortified at the un-edited state it went out in.  I am honestly amazed that the professional editors who must have worked on it let so much slip by - words and phrases repeated in the same paragraph and sometimes the same sentence.  Not good!  Also, the cover makes it look a lot more of an intelligent read than it is!

So, basically, reading it is an experience.  I wouldn't describe it as very erotic (unless you never read or write any erotica in which case I'm sure it hits the spot) but I imagine it has distracted and cheered up a lot of readers this summer, which can only be a good thing.

That's just my opinion.  Have you read it?

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Oh no! A day late but still insecure!

My memory is playing me up these days - I think I'm just trying to cram too much into it!  I forgot to post for the Insecure Writers Support Group yesterday, but I did have a good excuse: my baby girl, now 16, had her prom and everything except being a proud mummy went right out of my head!

  Sorry it's not rotated - she put it on Facebook like this and now I can't find a way to do it!  (Annalisa help - you are my technical guru after all!)

Anyway, on with being insecure...

Some days I feel so insecure that I am tempted to jack it all in and stop writing.  I don't want to bang on about stress AGAIN, but it does affect me.


I have done a lot of stress-busting lately and have decided to stop trying to write shorts for the women's magazines as that is what causes me the most stress.  I've had 7 accepted in the past 18 months, but I've gone off the boil a bit now, I think.  Inspiration isn't striking!  I've had several stories accepted for adult e-books lately, though, and they've been really fun to write, so I'm going with that for now.  I'm also going to start a novel over the summer and just take it slowly - no stress!

I'm a real believer in going with the flow - if something isn't ticking the boxes and feeling right, don't do it.  I'm going to try and follow the path my instincts take me on, not the path I need to follow to prove a point.

Hope you're all feeling a lot more secure today than you were yesterday if you posted for the

Bye for now x

Friday, 15 June 2012

How ya doin'?

Hello everyone!  Here's a Friday kitten for you - and incase you don't like kittens, here's a Friday puppy...

Anyway... I'm just checking in because, as you may know, I'm not blogging regularly due to my efforts to DE-STRESS MY LIFE!  I am, I must say, feeling a lot less stressed - not that it was only the blogging that was causing me stress, but it was yet another thing to fit in.  I've still been visiting blogs when I can and trying to leave a comment (if Blogger will let me on that particular day at that particular time, fickle friend that it is). 

I have managed to stick to my PLAN, more or less, and seem to have convinced myself that as much as I love writing, it's not worth stressing over to the point that it makes me ill / tired / impossible to live with / inattentive to other members of the family. 

I'd like to share a few of my recent discoveries with you, if you haven't got bored yet and navigated away from the page...
  • I don't need to write a short story in one or two sittings.  I used to feel that my momentum was ruined if I wrote something over a week or two, but I've discovered that a) I don't forget what I was going to write and b) after editing you'd never know it had been written in stages.  I know that you already knew that, but I'm a slow learner...
  • It is possible to put a "So what?" head on in the face of rejection.  I was bad at this and used to check my inbox several times a day for news on stories I'd submitted, and then feel pretty humililated if the dreaded 'Sorry, but...' response arrived.  Lately, I've limited myself to checking only once a day when I answer my emails and have also managed to talk myself out of high hopes for each story.  If an editor likes it - hooray!  If not, never mind - it just isn't the right story for them or - and this is obviously sometimes the case - it doesn't 'work'.  So what?! Move on!
  • Even if it's a 'writing' night, it's ok to only write 100 words and then go and watch TV with my husband or my daughter.
So, this is the new, un-obsessive me.  How are you doing?  Are you feeling the stress of day to day life interfering with your writing?  Do you have any useful tips for the rest of us?  

Oh, and which is it for you - puppies or kittens?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Feeling the fear and giving it a jolly good go anyway!

  Yes, it's the first Wednesday in JUNE - how on earth did we get into June?  I saw people in town earlier today in Ugg boots and coats - no wonder I'm confused!

So, it's that day when we get to tell each other how insecure we're feeling without feeling whiney. Hooray!  I'm looking forward to reading some of the other blogs in a minute, but first my insecurity...

On one front I'm feeling very secure and excited as I've recently had two stories accepted for online anthologies, but that doesn't compare to the number I've recently had rejected by women's magazines!  I find discovering those emails in my inbox so stressful that it's almost put me off submitting altogether.  I think I have a good idea for a new womag story and I'm going to start it tonight and see if it fits the requirements (in my opinion, anyway) but I'm almost too scared to submit it (sad face).

Fear not, fellow-writers - I am not the sort to stick my head in the sand so I WILL submit it, but please think of my bitten fingernails and stress-induced IBS and wish me luck!

On a more positive note, an almost completely formed plot for a novel popped into my head the other morning, so I can spend the summer attacking that!

Happy Insecure Wednesday to you!

Find out who else is participating on Alex J Cavanaugh's blog HERE!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A bientôt!

Hello to anyone who is popping in to read this and... goodbye for a little while!

If you're a regular visitor, you might have noticed that I've been taking some steps to de-stress my life and to free up more time for writerly stuff - namely writing, researching and reading.  Blogging is going to have to be one of the things that takes a backseat for the time being - and so, sadly, will reading other people's blogs.  I plan to read as many blogs as possible once a week so I can keep in touch with what you're up to, but I'd love to keep in touch via Facebook if you're game!  You should be able to find me here

So... à bientôt for now!

See you soon :-) 

Sunday, 13 May 2012

All floaty and dreamy...

  Following my recent post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, I thought I would let you know how serene, how chilled out and how floaty and dreamy I have been feeling ever since - just like these amazing clouds.

Last week was a WRITING week - so I mostly wrote, but only when I really had time.  I watched some TV with my daughter, managed my time so that I had at least an hour or two clear to write when I wanted to and BASICALLY DIDN'T STRESS ABOUT IT!

Next week is a READING week - which means I will catch up with the short stories I need to read, my copy of Writing magazine and also THIS BOOK by Della Galton who writes fantastic short stories and makes me green with envy (but only in a nice way!)  I am also close to the end of a short story which has to be submitted by 5th June, so I'll probably finish that too at some point.

Last week I also started writing a novel - which I am determined to finish if only to prove to myself that I have the staying-power required!  It's not the novel I have been hatching in my head for the past couple of years - but I thought I'd practise on something else.  It's a story that came to me on holiday last year and it's pretty much formed all the way through in my mind.  I've had help with some Greek for it from the lovely lady who runs the hotel we're going to this year (well, if you don't ask, you don't get - when I rang her I noticed her English was excellent and thought I'd ask her advice) and would like to have written a fair bit of it before I actually get to meet her!

Thank you for popping in, my lovely bloggy friends - how's it going for all of you?  Do let me know!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A-Z Reflections

Whew! I'm still recovering from the frenetic rollercoaster that was the A-Z Blogging Challenge!

It was the first time I've taken part and I have to say that I really enjoyed 'meeting' new bloggy friends and reading their blogs - the hard part was finding time in my day to keep up with everyone.

I did all my posts in advance, which certainly helped time-wise, and I managed to keep up with quite a few blogs on a regular basis as well as hopping over to some new ones daily, so on the whole I feel quite satisfied that I put in as much effort as I could!

Would I do it again next year?  Probably!  I would recommend doing the posts in advance and I'd definitely keep them fairly short - much easier for people to pop in and out when there isn't too much to read!

Thanks to everyone who read my blog in April and anyone who is reading this now.  I'm off to check out some blogs and chat to my new friends!

If you did the A-Z, will you be participating again next year?

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Dashing away with a smoothing iron...

While I was doing all that blogging and reading posts for the A-Z Challenge, I have to admit that the housework has built up a bit.  Something about me:  I do not like housework, but neither do I like dirt.  Ideally, I'd like someone else to do my housework, but - as my husband kindly told me - dream on! 

All my adult life I have, in particular, HATED IRONING!  I am not a great one for ironing anyway - things have to look like a dish-rag to warrant the touch of the iron in this house and I have mastered a 'shake and fold' system that mostly cuts out the need for ironing - BUT something WEIRD has happened...

I have started looking forward to ironing.

It makes me feel peculiar just to see those words there on the screen, but it's true.

I have discovered something about ironing:  it frees my mind. 

The rest of you probably knew that already, but when I was grumbling about doing it in the first place and swearing at the lead that kept getting stuck around the end of the ironing board, it wasn't the most mind-freeing thing in the world.

Somehow, I've had a couple of mellow ironing sessions - just small piles - with music playing and - WOW!  The ideas have come tripping along and I've had to keep dashing off to the pad to note them down. 

I took some of my daughter's clothes off the line today and actually found myself feeling happy that some of them looked awful and would need ironing.  If you knew me, you would know how unbelievable that sounds.

I'm just hoping that soon I'll start finding cleaning the bathroom equally mind-freeing...

When do your best ideas come to you?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


First Wed of Every Month   Phew!  After all the fun of the A to Z Challenge I'm feeling befriended and not too insecure at all, thanks to exchanging so many positive vibes, but something is still bugging me!

You may have already heard me whinge about not having enough time and feeling stressed.  Those two are still my old arch-enemies, but now I have a third: tiredness.

I don't like to moan on - after all, negativity breeds negativity and non-productivity - BUT

I want to be them!
I am so tired!  I have too much to do around the home when I get in from work, let alone keeping up with all my reading and writing.

So... I have a plan.  I don't know if I will always find it easy to stick to the plan, but here it is:

Week 1:  (husband on late shift and at work til 9)  Write as much as time allows between the hours of approx 4.30pm and 8.30pm - with a break for cooking something quick and easy, and a few breaks for talking to teenage daughter who tends to sit with me some of the time when she's in.

Week 2:  (husband on early shift and very present in the house when I get in from work, tends to forget and talks to me even if I'm writing) Catch up with my reading material, do planning, do a bit of housey-stuff, do a little bit of writing, but maximum an hour at a time and not every day.  The idea is to concentrate mainly on catching up with essential reading before I disappear under a pile of magazines.

Weekends:  Free-for-all!  If others are busy, I'll write.  If my presence is required, I won't.  Flexible is the word!

Obviously, there are flaws because - as we all know - sometimes I will HAVE to write when it's a reading week, but I aim to try and get into a routine that will stop me from getting flustered and feeling as though I have too much to get through.  I suppose I could just say I'll try and write for one hour a day whichever 'week' it is - and that might work - but I've tried it before and an hour's gone by before I know it!

 I think I have to acknowledge the fact that I will have more time on my hands when my daughter goes off to university in a couple of years, but for now I definitely need a plan!  If only I could give up work and be a full-time writer!

Monday, 30 April 2012

26. Zakynthos

Zippity-doo-dah!  I've made it to Z! 

And my final entry in this fabulous A to Z challenge is... (drum roll)...

The island of Zakynthos - also known as Zante!

We discovered Zante in 2007, abandoned it for a much less enjoyable holiday in Crete in 2008, and have been back there every summer since.

Zakynthos is a Greek island not far from the Peloponnese (part of mainland Greece).  In fact, you can see the Peloponnese on a clear day.  It is also close to Kefalonia, the setting for Louis de Berniere's wonderful 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin', which you may have read.  (If you haven't, what are you waiting for?!)

When we first started going abroad as a family in 2005, we agreed that we wouldn't go to the same place twice, but that went to pot when we fell in love with Zakynthos.  It's an amazingly green island - it rains almost all winter - and the people are like none that I've met anywhere else.  They are naturally warm, can't do enough for you and genuinely value the holidaymakers.  There is little in the way of work on the island apart from farming olives, raisins or wine-making, so the bulk of people's income is made during the holiday season.  Sadly, the wonderful restaurants are making less and less every year - and I'm sure it's the same all over - as 'all inclusive' holidays become more popular.  I can see the financial reasons for an all inclusive holiday, but a huge part of the experience for us is deciding where to eat each night and the pleasure of being recognised and greeted like old friends (year in, year out) by the restaurant staff.

If you fancy trying out Greece for the first time, I highly recommend Zakynthos.  Unless you like to party with the youngsters, avoid Laganas (although the beach is beautiful) and go to one of the other resorts.  Tsilivi is our haunt, but Argassi is also good, although smaller.  Tsilivi is a real family resort with lots of bars and restaurants but isn't too loud or spoilt.   If you want somewhere smaller and quieter, you could check out Alykanas or Alykes.

Anyway, here - for the final time - are some photos!  Bye for now and thanks so much for reading!

A perfect example of Greek warmth and friendliness - Angela (L) - the lady we always book our trips with!
Kefalonia in the distance

Thanks so much for reading - this A to Z challenge has been brilliant fun! 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

25. Yarmouth - Great or not so...

It's such a shame when a place can't live up to its name.  I love Great Yarmouth, but I have to admit it should possibly be re-named Once-great Yarmouth or just plain Yarmouth.
Great Yarmouth is a seaside town in Norfolk, which once had a thriving fishing industry.  Today, despite the best efforts of the council to
jolly it up with lights, it's a bit ... run-down.  Don't get me wrong, it's still popular with a lot of people who holiday there year after year (we met some  a couple of years back who had been coming and staying the same hotel for 10 years) but there's just an air of "could try harder".  It still has charm, though, and if you're looking for a seaside holiday with lots of slot machines and fun-fair rides, Great Yarmouth is ideal.  Just don't go looking for a restaurant with table-cloths along the sea-front.

To me, Yarmouth's saving grace is its rollercoaster - a huge thing built on a wooden frame which has been in situ since 1932.  It doesn't have any of your stomach-turning loop the loops or vertical drops, just good old fashioned height and speed. It's exhilarating and not too terrifying for cowards like me!

I used to visit Yarmouth as a teenager when we holidayed in a nearby village and my best friend and I bought our first illicit pack of fags there (in the days when nobody asked for ID if you had boobs and make-up) and smoked them without inhaling just to look cool (which I'm sure we didn't).  As an adult, I brought my kids to Yarmouth for days out at the Pleasure Beach followed by a ride down the sea-front in a pony and trap and fish and chips straight from the paper.  Often in the rain.  Ah, the good old British seaside!  More recently, my husband and I came for a friend's party and spent the afternoon wandering in the rain, eating chips and riding the rollercoaster.  It was quite romantic!

What am I saying?  Scratch that first paragraph - Great Yarmouth is great! 


Friday, 27 April 2012

24. X...

  Yes, ok, clearly I didn't think this through before I started my alphabetical journey.  Stop sniggering now.
Anyway... I've picked the place beginning with X that I  like the sound of best :  Xinxiang. 

 Xinxiang is a fast-expanding Chinese city in Henan province with a population in 2010 of  5,707,801.  Isn't it fun, learning together?  Textiles and processed foods are its major manufactures and it is home to three universities.  Unfortunately, my very expert knowledge of this city has now come to an end, so here are the photos.
Thanks for stopping by to read today's rather pathetic offering ;-)  I promise the final two will be places I've actually visited!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

23. Walton-on-Naze, Essex, UK

   Walton-on-Naze is a seaside town, still popular with holiday-makers and day-trippers, although I have to say it's had its heyday.  It's a place that is very dear to my heart as a lot of my early memories are rooted there.  My grandparents (Nana and Grandad) had a house there and when my grandad retired they moved to live there full-time.  Nana's sisters came from their respective homes in Rainham (Essex) and Luton (Bedfordshire) with their families and my sister and I got to play with my mum's cousins' kids (not sure what that makes them - 'third' cousins?) in Nana and Grandad's extensive garden or on the sandy beach which was just across the road.

Yes, I'm the one in the stripy top! Nana far right, my sister on left, Mum behind us.  1975.
My grandad died when I was four and when I was ten Nana moved to live near to us, so the house was sold.  The new owners subsequently sold the garden at the side (where we are standing in this photo) and built a house on it, so when we walk past it now it looks barely like my nan's house at all.  It's still there in my mind, though, which is what matters.  I often feel like knocking, just to ask if I can wander round the house and feel for traces of those wonderful childhood days, but I haven't because they'd probably think I was either up to no good or mad.  For the same reason, I haven't taken a photo of the house!

Here are some photos I took in Walton last month.  Thanks for reading :-)

We had a beach hut in this row

Rejuvenated boarding houses - now probably homes

When I was a child this was a ballroom and entertainment complex.  Now flats.
Taken from the pier

Walton Pier

 You can't go to the British seaside without being silly on the pier!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

22. Vienna

I haven't been to Vienna - Austria is one of the places I'd love to visit - but my main reason for choosing Vienna as my entry for V is this: 

A bit of a cheat for today's post, maybe, but I love it!  Here are some amazing pictures of Vienna too!

Anyone been there?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

21. U... it has to be the U.S.A.

'It's hard not to be fascinated by the U.S.A.   The impression from news, films and documentaries is that everything is on a larger scale than here in the UK.  The rich appear to be richer, the poor poorer, the cities busier, the landscapes more dramatic... Whilst we in the UK are portrayed as quietly eccentric (can't deny it, personally), the media paints the citizens of the U.S.A. as loud and 'crazy' - "It could only happen in America!" 

I hasten to add that this is not my personal view of the citizens of the U.S.A.  It stands to reason that there are plenty of quietly eccentric people and people who are neither loud nor quiet, crazy nor eccentric and just want to be left alone to get on with being a person rather than a stereotype, thank you very much!

The diversity of the huge landmass that makes up the U.S.A. is what fascinates me.  The extremes of temperature, of wildlife, of life-style - the fact that a plane journey is required to get from place to place in the same country!  (I know that we have internal flights in the UK, but let's face it, people walk from Land's End to John O'Groats!)  Food is fascinating too - the difference in portion size in restaurants is reported by everyone I know who's been to the U.S.A. - and the different things you can buy in supermarkets, cheese in its many forms being just one of my fascinations!  The language difference is so interesting, too.  Apart from the spelling differences (colour, color etc), the whole meanings thing:
fanny/fanny...(it doesn't mean the same thing, hehe!)

Sorry, got a bit below the belt there.  I could go on, but I won't because if you've been kind enough to stop here and read my blog, I know you have others to get on to!

Thanks for stopping by!  Feel free to add to my feeble little list of meanings :-)

Monday, 23 April 2012

20. Trebarwith Strand and Tintagel - back in Cornwall!

Yes, I'm back in Cornwall again.  If you've been hopping in and out of my blogposts during this challenge, you will probably have noticed I'm a tad obsessed with Cornwall.  We had so many happy holidays there when the kids were younger (we didn't see the point of taking them abroad and then feeling resentful because we had to keep getting off the sunloungers to PLAY with them) that it is a county that will always be dear to my heart.
We holidayed close to Tintagel - the legendary birthplace of King Arthur - in 1998 when the kids were 6 and 2.  The ruins of Tintagel Castle are extensive, but are set on top of a cliff so our visit was a slightly alarming experience with a lively 2 year-old in tow!  Our daughter didn't want to leave the castle (now nearly 16, history is still her favourite subject) and then our son got the hump about something or other and my enduring memory of the visit is us dragging them back down the hill into the village with them howling their eyes out.  In the end, I don't think either of them could remember why they were crying but they still couldn't stop!  We ended up laughing - if we hadn't, we'd have ended up crying too...
Trebarwith Strand is a popular little beach close to Tintagel, excellent for surfing and also a great place for the kids to play as there are lots of crops of rocks and large pools.  It was here that Barry and the kids hired their first wetsuits and did 'boogie boarding' (lame surfing for amateurs).  We also had the dust-caps stolen from our car wheels one time, but we won't dwell on that!
These are photos of photos, so apologies for the quality.

Tintagel Castle

 Trebarwith Strand