Monday, 9 December 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group going Large!

If you are not a member of the Insecure Writer's Support Group then you really should pop over there and see what it's all about!

In a nutshell, a group of us blog on the first Wednesday of every month about... well, anything to do with writing and either feeling insecure or having smashed our insecurities that month! You are just as likely to find upbeat posts as posts looking for some friendly encouragement.

This month there's a contest with some really great prizes, details of which you can find here, all in the name of spreading awareness of the IWSG.  Personally, I've met some really nice people through the IWSG and I'm delighted to have discovered that there is now a Facebook page too. If you're a writer, you'll know that connecting with other writers is invaluable - and I think we all have our insecurities at times! So what are you waiting for? If you're not already in the group, come and commiserate or celebrate with other writers. I am positive you won't regret it!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Lexa and Julie's Dream Destination Blog Hop

I'd normally be taking part in the Insecure Writer's Support Group over at Alex J.Cavanaugh's blog but I'm giving my usual incessant whingeing a miss this month in favour of letting my thoughts meander to a less-stressful, non-writing place (which pretty much tells you how I'm feeling about fitting writing into my life just now!)

Lexa Cain and Julie Flanders are hosting this Blog Hop, so please hop over to their blogs to say "Hello" and to take part in the free Rafflecopter Giveaway! There are around 20 prizes up for grabs!

And now... a dream destination. Hmn... I'm really torn between somewhere hot and somewhere deliciously cold and snowy. I've always found the thought of a log cabin with a roaring fire, fur (but not real fur - yuk!) rugs to recline on and snow drifting down on pine trees outside the window very appealing. I'm a bit of a sucker for Wham's 'Last Christmas' video too!

So... maybe this would be my Dream Destination:

(Hotel Kakslauttennan, Lapland/Finland border)

Or this: 

... although I must admit it's not exactly a cabin! Holiday Inn is one of my favourite films, though - and it gave us that wonderful early rendition of 'White Christmas'. 

Well, now I'm feeling all cosy and quite Christmassy, I'm off to Julie's or Lexa's blog to take a look at everyone else's Dream Destination. I'd love you to come with me! 


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Losing my nerve! IWSG November.

Yes, it's November already! Thanks as always to Alex J Cavanaugh for running the group. You can find a list of the participants and information on what it's all about over on Alex's blog.

I was determined not to whinge this month, but I can feel a bit of a whinge coming on. The title of this post is pretty whingey, for one thing!

I had the summer off writing as I had a full schedule and was feeling pretty stressed. My brain didn't stop working and I didn't stop making notes, but I did barely any structured writing. Actually, it was lovely just being 'normal' again (e.g. watching TV, seeing friends, reading, going out with family, etc.)

THE TROUBLE IS... now I want to write again (and have had an idea for a serial provisionally OK'd by a magazine) I seem to have forgotten how to sit down and concentrate. I deliberately subbed the idea knowing that it would force me back to the keyboard, but my reaction to getting the go-ahead to write the first part was as much terror as joy! It's been hanging round my neck and terrifying me for over a week. I started it and don't like what I've written and my cotton-wooly brain won't co-operate with coming up with alternatives. I still don't feel as though I've got enough time (or understanding support in the home, tbh) to write it.

I WILL write it - so watch this space - but something tells me it's going to be a long and painful process!

Does anyone else feel unsupported at times? I get a lot of "Wow, that's great," and "How much are you getting for it?" when something's accepted, but when it comes down to being allowed uninterrupted time to get words on the page, I may as well forget it unless I'm alone in the house, which I rarely am.

Whinge over. Feeling better already!

Going to write now!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Finally, I think I get it!

Free Pen And Paper Stock Images - 5750194
© Spartak | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Eyeball-burn, life-burn, general burn-out.

That was me back in July and as a result I stopped writing almost altogether.

For years I have been a strictly keyboard writer, my theory being that my mind works faster than I can write - or at least write legibly - but, do you know, I was getting sick to death of staring at a screen! It seemed to be ruling my life and instead of writing I was spending hours procrastinating on Facebook, surfing this and that, and my eyes were burning (even though the screen glare is as low as it will go). I felt stressed, time-poor and pretty miserable. Worst still, I had mislaid my love of writing.

I had all of August off from writing, all of September and have just started writing again - with one difference... BY HAND.

It's a joy. No temptation to go on the internet, no eyeball-burn and OMG - there's no need to write full sentences! I also don't then keep going back over and over them editing even though I know I shouldn't. My first draft is not going to be much more than detailed notes and I can relax, knowing that when I type it all up I'll be doing the first edit at the same time.

I know you lot all knew this all along, but I feel as though I've made a writing-life-changing discovery!

On another subject, I want to apologise for not visiting many blogs lately. I have a lot of trouble with Blogger pages not loading properly - on every other page I seem to get a message from Internet Explorer telling me it encountered a problem and has to close the page, or the page just freezes for ages, or I get an error message saying there's something wrong with the page. I use Internet Explorer and this ONLY happens on Blogger. Obviously, I want to keep up with your blogs, but with the above happening, it's so time-consuming I often have to just give up and go do something else. Please - does anyone else have this problem? Should I be using Firefox or Google Chrome instead? Is Blogger doing it on purpose because of the Google connection - trying to make me change to Google Chrome? I'd love to hear about your experiences and solutions regarding this!

Friday, 27 September 2013

The Cephalod Coffeehouse - My favourite book this month

This is a new bloggers' 'Book Club', organised by The Armchair Squid. The idea is that on the last Friday of each month we blog about the best book we've finished over the past month. If you'd like to be part of this, the details are here.

For me, this is a tricky one because I've already blogged about the book I've enjoyed this month - That Sadie Thing by Annalisa Crawford.

Road to RouenHowever, there is another book that made me laugh aloud and that was an absolute delight to read this month and that was The Road to Rouen by Ben Hatch.

This is an hilarious, often painful tale of marriage, kids and a summer spent touring France so that struggling writer, Ben, can write a travel guide. I loved the dialogue - the kids are so funny - and also the honesty with which the relationship between the parents is portrayed. Needless to say, it's not all a smooth ride - in fact very little of it is! My favourite part has to be the escapade with the donkey - but if you want to know more about that, you're just going to have to read the book! And as for Ben's misadventure over the border in Spain... mind-boggling! If France, or the idea of France, seduces you, this delightful romp will charm the pantalons off you. This book isn't just a comedy, though. Ben examines his life so far, his motives and his relationship with his father as well as pondering on his future. There's also some back-story on the couple's lives 'pre-kids', which plumps out the characters of Ben and Dinah very effectively. I was left sympathising greatly with (long-suffering) Dinah,  and longing to re-visit France. I also wanted more, because there's nothing so wonderful as an easy read that makes you laugh. Real escapism!

Please hop around now to find out about other September favourites! Here's the list:

1.The Armchair Squid2.Remembering Grace
3.Vanessa Morgan4.Trisha @ WORD STUFF
5.M.J. Fifield6.Denise Covey @ L'Aussie Writing
7.My Creatively Random Life8.Subliminal Coffee
9.The Random Book Review10.Divine Secrets of the Writing Sisterhood
11.Scouring Monk12.Clarissa Draper
15.Excuse Me While I Note That Down16.Mark Noce Stories
17.StrangePegs -- Temporary Anne18.Blue Sky Gazing
19.What's Up! MOCK?20.Nicki Elson

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Another book recommendation

Do you ever read a book on Kindle (or other reading device!) and wish it was available in paperback? Some books, you just need to hold in your hands and feel the pages. This, for me, is definitely one of them - and now my wish has come true! I've tried short story anthologies before - including those by well-known authors - and haven't been exactly blown away.  I was beginning to think I wasn't really a fan of short stories until I read That Sadie Thing. I admit that Annalisa Crawford is an online friend of mine, but I can - hand on heart - say that doesn't influence me. As we all know (and it's painful), we can't automatically like or endorse the writing of all our writerly friends.

Anyway, this book is packed with diverse stories about diverse relationships. The writing is expressive but unpretentious and the stories very readable. I find that they kind of bob around in my head, demanding attention after reading - Annalisa has a knack for characterisation and atmosphere - and this is a book I would return to.

I've just really enjoyed my second reading and with three bonus stories it's definitely worth buying in paperback even if you've already got it on Kindle.

Anyway, that's all! Just wanted to say this book is now available in paperback - it would make a great, inexpensive Christmas stocking-filler for someone!

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

IWSG September

It's still sunny here and I'm ignoring the fact that it's September and pretending it's still the middle of the summer. For once, we've had a good summer and everyone I know seems to have had their spirits lifted by it!

I'm not insecure this month, which is a nice feeling. I have a story in September's Woman's Weekly Fiction Special, another submitted and another just begun and I feel pretty chilled. I think this new, laid-back state is because I put writing on a back-burner for the summer. I spent time with my friends and family, caught up with people and didn't break myself in half trying to fit writing in around it (although I did manage to write one story.)

At the start of the summer holidays I was thinking I'd have days and days to write, but once the texts started to-ing and fro-ing and the calendar filled up, I could see that wasn't to be the case. I wrestled with the idea of putting some people off and leaving whole days free, but in the end I decided that...


I could write my novel for the 4 weeks I had free, ultimately abandon what I'd written and not have spent time with all these wonderful people. So I didn't write.

Now I'm back at school, my time is limited and I'm inspired to write again. I have come to the conclusion I like having small pockets of time to write in. Whole days are scary! Too much time to procrastinate - as most of us know!

I'm off to see how you're all getting on now!

Thanks for reading :-)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Interviewing Libby Heily

In my last post, I listed some books I've really enjoyed recently, one of which was Tough Girl by Libby Heily.
Tough Girl

Tough Girl - as I've said - isn't really like anything I've read before and I couldn't put it down. I was also intrigued and wanted to know more about the author. So,without more ado, here's what I asked Libby...

Was the idea for Tough Girl one you nurtured for a long time before writing the book or was it one of those ideas that springs on you from nowhere and demands to be written NOW?  Did anything or anyone in particular inspire the story?
The idea for Tough Girl was slow to form.  I read Alice in Wonderland as a kid and then did a play based on the book in high school.  I loved the idea of a girl getting lost in her own dream world.  It took a few years to fully develop the idea.  I was also working on a screenplay about four siblings that helped their mob-boss father run a neighborhood.  During a ten mile run, I realized the two stories were parts of a whole and the idea for Tough Girl was born.
You self-published Tough Girl. What made you choose the self-publication route and would you self-publish again?

I did not shop Tough Girl around.  I did, however, get advice from fellow writers who had been published.  The consensus was that the market for Tough Girl was going to be limited.  The main character was 11 making her too young for most YA audiences.  The story was demanding but the telling was simple making the book not quite right for the average contemporary fiction reader.  The thought was, if I had sold Tough Girl I would be asked to change the story to fit a market.  Self-publishing meant that I got to keep control of the story, which was very important to me.  Also, as a writer of plays and screenplays and short stories, I have spent an incredible amount of time submitting my work for production and publication.  At the time Tough Girl was completed, I just could not rally myself for yet another round of queries.
I would definitely self-publish again.  I studied film and theater and both art forms stress a DIY attitude.  I'm thrilled that I'm writing novels at a time where this self-reliant streak has hit publishing.  Don't get me wrong though, I would love to go the traditional route if possible.

How do you write? A complete first draft, warts and all, or do you edit as you go along?

I've developed my own process over the years.  I write sketches of scenes, bits of dialogue, and develop the idea by hand in a notebook.  I then do a plot outline and write character journals for the main characters.  I then redo the plot outline and start the first draft.  I edit a bit as I go along but I have come to accept that my first drafts are going to be atrocious.  The second draft is where I begin to concentrate on editing.

If I'm writing a play or screenplay, I usually do 10+ drafts.  Tough Girl took 4 full drafts, several rounds of editing, and 2.5 years to finish.
What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on two novels.  One is soft science fiction, the other is contemporary fiction set in a non-realistic reality.  I am also developing an idea for a screenplay that I'm pretty excited about. 
 I love the sound of a non-realistic reality!
Have you published any other books/been published elsewhere?
I have had several short stories published including one that was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  I also released a collection of short stories called "Fourth Degree Freedom".  My new collection of short stories will be published in September.  This one is called "The Victory Rule".

Because I'm very nosey, what is your workspace like?  

My workspace is teeny, just how I like it.  I have a small computer nook in our apartment which I have filled with art, notebooks, and pens.   I would supply a photo, but I would be a touch embarrassed for the world to know how messy my workspace gets.

Do you write full-time or juggle it with a day-job?

I go back and forth.  I have worked full-time, part-time and no-time in the past 5 years.  I love not having a day-job so I can focus on writing, reading and life, but sometimes the bills require employment.

What jobs have you had in the past and which was your favourite?
I have kind of bounced around employment wise.  I have been a waitress, a barista, a videographer, a call center customer service representative, and a customer care support person for academic publishing.  Being a videographer was fun because I got to be somewhat creative and the CSR position in academic publishing was wonderful because I could listen to audiobooks all day while I worked.

And finally, three things about yourself?

Three Things:

One - I can spin a basketball on every finger of my right hand including my thumb and pinky
Two - I love rainy days, especially if I have the day off and can curl up on the couch with a book or a movie
Three - I love to buy stickers, but I'm never quite sure where to stick them!
I can identify the stickers thing - I've walked wistfully past pretty stickers so many times!
Thanks so much, Libby, for the interview. That's satiated my curiosity! Links for Tough Girl are below and you can find Libby's blog here.
And here's the blurb:
Danger lurks everywhere in eleven year old Reggie's world—from the bully next door to the unwanted attentions of a creep at school. Raised by her mentally ill mother, Reggie is left to fend for herself in a rough neighbourhood. She escapes in daydreams, battling aliens with her alter ego, Tough Girl. When Reggie's mother disappears, her fantasy life spirals out of control and starts to invade reality. She is hunted by a creature of her own design, and even Tough Girl is not strong enough to stop him. Will Reggie survive long enough for her mother to return, or will her dream world take over? Contains adult themes and adult language.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Falling back in love with reading

If you read my IWSG post this month, you might remember that I have returned from holiday exhausted from all the relaxation and don't feel at all like writing...

This situation has an upside which is that I have got back into reading, for which I never seem to have enough time, and have even been managing to read without the persistently wandering mind that usually afflicts me!

I don't like picking books apart and analysing them, but I do know what I've enjoyed and I thought I'd just share a few with you now.  These are all books I have not wanted to put down and was sorry to finish (sob).

So Much For That by Lionel Shriver
 Product Details

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Product Details

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
 Product Details

Tough Girl  by Libby Heily
Product Details

I'm not going to give you the low-down on them because you can find them in your bookshop or on Amazon and read the blurb. All I want to say is that I really enjoyed them for various reasons. Each is unusual in its style and content and to me were like a breath of fresh air. They also stopped my mind from wandering - and that says a lot!

If you've already read any of them, I'd love to know what you thought!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

IWSG August - Taking a Break

It's the summer, it's August, no work for me and plenty of time to sit and write...

The trouble is I don't really want to!

Before school finished (I'm a teaching assistant) I planned to come back from an idyllic two weeks on Zakynthos and keep my calendar clear so that I could spend whole days of the remaining four weeks doing what I wanted - writing.


My brain won't work. I spent my holiday feeling jittery as though I should be doing something else (writing?!) and I'm not sure that I like that feeling.

I have so many friends and family trying to catch up with me while I'm off work that even the thought of juggling serious writing and socialising makes me hyperventilate.

I am feeling trapped by my hopes, dreams and ambitions - and a little voice inside me is saying make the most of people while they are still around to enjoy (especially aging parents). I'm sick of feeling pulled in so many directions, the main pull being towards the laptop.

Will I write something this holiday? Maybe. Maybe not. The novel is there, in my head, but to be honest it could stay there ripening for another couple of years. I'm not sure the time is right. Maybe I'll go back to writing the occasional short story when the inspiration strikes, and give myself a break.

It's not good to be laying on a sunbed jangling because you've forgotten how to relax. I can't even read without my mind wandering. Time for something to change, I think.

Thanks for listening to my inner turmoil.

Hope you're not feeling too insecure - I'll be hopping around to find out!

Thanks as always to Alex J Cavanaugh for starting this group. You can find the full list on his blog but I'm not pasting it here because it gets longer all the time!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

IWSG July - Drowning a little!

OMG how can it be July already, blah, blah, blah. I have no idea how these first Wednesdays come around so quickly! I'm glad they do, though, because it's the one time in the month I can really make time to hop around and say hi - and I'm so glad that people do the same for me!

On with the insecure stuff...

Firstly, I have no excuse to feel insecure because I had a long-short accepted by Woman's Weekly which buoyed me up no end!

However (and yes, there has to be one of those)... I've lost my way with the novel. It wasn't flowing - I felt as though I was wading through mud. My characters weren't speaking to me and - I don't know - I think I wasn't feeling it. I also began to worry that what I was writing wasn't original enough - but I think I've got myself over that one. The result is that I have now started AGAIN - having said I was going to plough through to the end come what may. I've started differently and the main characters are different - for both my modern day and time-slip parts.

I'm more excited about it now, but my day job is so busy at the moment that I can't seem to find the energy to write. I feel drained of all creativity (probably because I'm using it all on a Year 6 production of School of Rock and, believe me, those kids know how to drain...) I think the teacher and I are going to have to get up there and perform it for them.

Anyway, a lovely two weeks in Zakynthos are looming at the end of the month when I will recharge my batteries. I hope to come back here on the first Wednesday of August raring to go.

How are you doing? I'll be popping along to find out.

Thanks for being here!


Thanks as always to Alex J Cavanaugh for starting this group. You can find the full list on his blog but I'm not pasting it here because it gets longer all the time!

Monday, 17 June 2013


I'm a flitter. I have always known this. The trouble is, I don't think being a flitter is a particularly good attribute when trying to write a novel.

I was enjoying writing my novel but then the call of the short story came again and I meandered from the path. Now, darn it, having wandered back to the novel, I want to change the character in my time-slip part to a servant instead of a lady! I guess it was distance from the project that made me think differently - and I have to agree with myself that this would make it better and introduce some other angles - but what a PAIN!

So, here I go again, revising and rewriting what I thought was just going to be a first draft.

Ah well, it keeps me busy.

How are you all getting on?

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A Visit from Annalisa Crawford - That Sadie Thing on Tour!

Including the typo on my name
- one 'n' instead of two!
Thank you for having me over today, Linda, and as I know your alter-ego has been published by Xcite Books, I'm going to talk about sex!

I debated including Rain Dancing in the collection because it has such a different tone to the rest of the book. But then I thought, well my mum's read it, why not? Although, my mum did wrap it in cling film straight after finishing it, so I'm not quite sure what that means...

Rain Dancing was another one of my experiments. "I want to write a sex scene," I thought to myself one day. I was about 17 or 18 at the time, so it was a strange experiment.

The voice came to me straight away, along with the first paragraph. Although, by the end of that paragraph it became apparent to me that the voice was male. So, to recap, there I was writing my very first sex scene ever (until then I'd stopped at the bedroom door, much easier) and I was writing it as a man!

At 18, I wasn't much of a expert, but I had a feeling that the experience would be rather different for men. It was very difficult to get it right, but for some reason I didn't give up. And not only that, I submitted it to a couple of places before it got published.

Afterwards I realised a couple of things:
  • There was a typo that made Helen sound needy, when actually she was very much the opposite
  • The argument that sparked the end of the relationship was lame, very lame, almost non-existent.
It was a story ripe for rewriting, which bizarrely I did almost immediately. This is the story that sparked the idea for the whole collection - it's been waiting for its moment to shine for a very long time.

About Annalisa
I live in Cornwall, with a good supply of beaches and moorland right on my doorstep. I live with my husband, two boys, a dog and a cat. Despite my location. I neither surf nor sail, and have never had any inclination to try. I much prefer walking along the beach and listening to the waves crashing over rocks. For this reason, I really love the beach in the winter!

Buy That Sadie Thing here (this link should take you direct to your local Amazon)
Follow Annalisa here, or Like her here
Read her blog here

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

IWSG June - Feeling Alive!

OK, the title 'Feeling Alive' may not sound all that suitable for June's IWSG post, but feeling alive after three years of 'fuzzy head' (it's just great being a 40-something woman) can have its downside!

First, the feeling alive bit - in case you were wondering. I have recently started taking a supplement called MACA - you may have heard of it. (The one I use is here if you're interested). I have been taking it for two weeks, during which time I was also trying to recover from a horrible head-cold. At first, I didn't feel any different but last week my brain suddenly started buzzing with story ideas - something that had been sadly missing for ages. I'd actually begun to accept that I must just have very little imagination! I've also been remembering to do things and not feeling quite as overwhelmed by life in general. So - maybe it's down to the MACA. Even if it isn't, I'm not going to stop taking it because I feel very well and energised.

Now, the insecure part. Writing short stories again means submitting them. Following a lot of initial success between the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2012, my shorts seemed to go off the boil and started missing the mark. Everything I wrote pinged back as 'a well-worn theme' or 'not for us'. I was disheartened, but moved onto writing other things (again with success, which did a lot to re-boot my confidence) and I also started my novel in earnest. I am still writing the novel - I make sure I add something to it every day if I can, however busy that day has been - but I get so much satisfaction from writing those shorts!

To cut to the chase, I've sent two stories off and now feel slightly sick! I may well have chosen a well-worn theme again or they may miss the mark by being too vague or too obvious (where is that middle ground when you want it?) but hey! At least I'm trying and, as we all know, if you don't try you'll never succeed.

How are you feeling this first Wednesday in June? I'll be hopping around to find out later.

Thanks as always to Alex J Cavanaugh for starting this group. You can find the full list on his blog but I'm not pasting it here because it gets longer all the time!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Absently present.

I've always been a bit slow on the uptake, mainly due to having lived inside my own head for most of my life. When someone speaks to me I have to come out of whatever waking dream I'm in the middle of to be able to answer. By some miracle, I have occasionally heard the question. Recently, it has dawned on me just how annoying that must be for those around me.

Years back, I instructed my children to say "Mum!" clearly when they started speaking to me so that I knew to drag myself back into the real world and listen. Sometimes they even got an answer on the first go.

I know that as a writer I should be listening carefully to everything going on around me, but in reality I just become more and more preoccupied. Conversations become a trial because what I want to do is slip back into my head and finish the train of thought I was on. I am less sociable and much more inclined to sit and think.

Having spent a lot of time and thought mastering my work/writing/life balance, I think I now need to address how present I actually am in my day to day life.

Is this the lot of every writer? Does the struggle to reconcile writing with real life never end?

I'd love to hear how you cope!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Just a thought

I used to be a pantster, starting a novel on little more than a few characters and a good first line. To be honest, this didn't get me far - I felt a bit lost after a while - so I have planned my current novel. I'm not saying that I'm sticking to the plan 100% and I've had a few surprises such as characters suddenly springing out from nowhere complete with a name and distinctive taste in shoes, but I feel much more confident having that plan as back-up.

Anyway, my thought was that if I'm only half pantster now, does that make me a thongster?


What are you?

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

IWSG - May

I'm shocked that the month has gone by so quickly and that the last time I blogged was for April's IWSG!
I have been pretty much off the bloggersphere - due to there simply not being enough hours in the day! I love reading blogs and keeping up with everyone, but I just can't fit it in. I will content myself for now with doing a monthly hop around and saying hi to everyone I can!

Anyway, on to the insecure stuff!

A mini-miracle has taken place - I know not how - and I am not listening to the demon on my shoulder that tries to tell me I'm rubbish. He shouts in my ear every so often and I find that I'm just sort of thinking "Oh shut up," and ignoring him.

I'm about 20,000 words into my novel (which I'm writing painstakingly slowly at the rate of about 500 words a day) and this time have no doubt that I will finish the project. I know how the story goes, so there's no reason not to write it. I also know some other things, thanks to advice I've read or received from others...

I wish I could remember who these gems that have changed my writing life came from, but I'm afraid I can't because I didn't make a note at the time! They are from blogs I've read or comments on blogs.  If you recognise one as yours, then THANK YOU! I'm going to share them, anyway, because they have made a huge difference to my attitude to writing:

'The first draft of everything is shit.' (This is definitely a quote from a well-known published writer.)
'The first draft is really just elaborate notes.'
'You may get to the end and find that this isn't meant to be your first novel, but it's a great way to practise writing your second novel."

I also have one of my own - that old adage: SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE!

These all resounded with me and I hope they can help you, too, if you feel in need of help. I've written and had published quite a lot of short stories, but a novel is a huge commitment and without the 'instant' feedback that I'm used to.

So, I'm not feeling insecure this month - I'm feeling full of 'oomph'! I hope you are, too!

See you in June! xx

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

IWSG April - Oops, I did it again!

Yep, I did it again! I thought I had it sussed but, nope! I got myself into the same cycle I get into every time I start on a novel. I became obsessed. Not with word-count, not with having to write every day, not with how long I write for... but with editing and fiddling! I edited and fiddled until I hated every word. I'd told myself I'd write a first draft and THEN fiddle with it, but I CAN'T DO IT!

Correction! I CAN do it and I WILL.  This novel was nearly abandoned in its entirety. My daughter had read the first chapter without comment, which made me think it was pretty crappy, but when I told her I was ditching it, she got really annoyed and wanted to know why. I obviously didn't read her poker face right when she'd read it.  Anyway, thanks to her, I am continuing but I'm going to allow myself the luxury of writing the first two chapters again and THEN I WILL CONTINUE UNTIL THE END. It's here, in writing. Make me stick to it, please!

Hope you're not feeling too insecure - I'll be hopping around to find out!

As always, thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for starting this group. You can find the list of insecure bloggers taking part over on his blog. I won't add the list here because it's sooooooooo long! (There's probably a way of entering a link to lead you straight to the list but I ain't that clever!)

Friday, 29 March 2013

That Sadie Thing

Although I have reviewed this on Goodreads, I have been meaning to write a post about this collection of short stories, That Sadie Thing   Kindle Edition available now! by Annalisa Crawford .

Although Annalisa and I have been blogging buddies for quite a while now, this isn't a 'favour' review or a 'suck-up' plug - I genuinely want to tell you how much I enjoyed these stories and why.

I am a fan of short stories, but find that they are often a bit 'twee' or go the other way and are quite obscure and have no sort of satisfactory ending. Not in this anthology! I read this in the space of a few hours because it was so hard to put down. If you have read Annalisa's Cat and the Dreamer you will know that Annalisa has a quirky, honest style. That is what I loved about the stories in That Sadie Thing. They are varied in style and theme but I became absorbed in each and every one and even shed the odd tear. At this point, I was about to tell you about my favourite stories, but looking back through the book, I realised that each of them, as I came to it, felt like my favourite! 'Omelette' is touching, 'Beth' is someone many of us will be able to empathise with and brings a lump to the throat, 'The Walking Dead' is ultimately heart-warming, despite the title (!), 'Open Windows' is very moving (sniff) - and I could go on. Can you tell how much I enjoyed these stories? I'm no reviewer - I'm pretty rubbish at analysing why I like something because when I read I absorb atmosphere and rarely remember many details - which makes it fabulous when I want to re-read something because I have hardly any memory of it at all except that I liked it...

If you're looking for something refreshing and different but highly satisfying, I really recommend That Sadie Thing. It's available on Kindle - links below - but I really wish it was a paperback because it's just the sort of book I like to own and pass around!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Reality check!

 The fabulous Patsy Collins has nominated me for this award. I'm honoured to receive it and am looking forward to passing it on to some others! The only trouble is, in my small blogging community it's hard to find someone who hasn't already had it!

First, I have to answer some questions, so here goes:

If you could change one thing, what would it be?
 I'd have done a degree. Not too late, I know, but less convenient!

If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

I'm perfectly happy now, but if I had to choose, I'd say the years between 30 and 35. My kids were little, we had lots of fun family times and I'd begun to feel like a 'proper' grown up and learned how to say no to things I didn't want to do.

What one thing really scares you?

I know this is maudlin, but the only thing I ever feel panic about is the thought of my kids dying. It's hard, having older kids who are out on their own/living away. Sorry!
If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?

Goodness. Obviously, it would have to be the other half of someone really gorgeous - maybe Aaron Paul (from Breaking Bad)'s girlfriend? Swooneroony (but don't tell my husband...)
Well, those were the questions, so now to pass it on:
You know how I ALWAYS go on about not having enough time? Well, I haven't got enough time to check out who has already had this award! I'm awarding it to the following people:
Claudia at The Story - a very real and interesting blog
Jaybird at Bird's Nest because she has some very quirky and interesting posts
my old friend Annalisa at Wake up, Eat, Write, Sleep because she always has something interesting to say.
If any of these blogs are new to you, please go and say hello!
(Are you still swooning over Aaron Paul? Here's another pic just for you. I won't enjoy it at all.)

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Coup de foudre!

It hit me last night - so hard that I could feel all of me jangling in anticipation and I actually had butterflies!

I know what I have to write.
I know what happens.

Better still, I'M EXCITED.

This means putting my current novel - only just started anyway - on the back-burner. I like that story and I like the characters, but last night I realised I'm not excited about writing it.

My new WIP is called 'Springville' (tribute to and partly inspired by a beautiful song by The Decemberists called June Hymn).

It's a supernatural time-slip, an old idea of mine that didn't work the first time I started it, but the muse has spoken and I know where I'm going now.

I have never planned anything in my life, but today...

Hope you're all having an inspiring weekend!
Please forgive me if I go off and write for a bit now, but I'll be back later to catch up with all the blogs I've been neglecting.
A big thank you to everyone who commented on my last post and offered help and advice.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


 As always, thank you to Alex J Cavanaugh for inventing this monthly airing of our insecurities! You will find the list of those taking part on his blog.

I've been feeling more torn than insecure, to be honest. It's the blog, don'tcha know? I've made so many good writerly-and-other-type friends through blogging, but I'm finding it hard to keep it going. Anyone who has read my various whinges over the past year or two may remember that TIME is my enemy (I know I'm not the only one!) I try to be diligent about reading blogs and commenting as well as maintaining my own (poorly tbh) but it's all time I could be spending WRITING.

I've come to a decision: I will blog once month unless I've got something urgent to share or have a guest. I know this is no way to be carrying on, but it's going to take a load off my shoulders!


And secondly...

I'm terrified! I've started the novel and I'm determined to see it through. My mind is spinning with getting voices right, keeping the pace, keeping thread of what I want to happen and when... GAH! I'm using the Scrivener free trial at the moment and I think I like it - especially the ability to drag scenes around and re-order them - but I'd love to hear how you keep track of your plot. Scrivener has a cork-board facility, but I'm feeling that for me a big sheet of paper with actual sticky-notes would be better - I'm very touchy-feely! Please share your method with me.

And don't forget to come and 'Friend' me of Facebook if you're a user.

That's all Folks!

Looking forward to hopping around and seeing who's feeling insecure today and why!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


New out today! I just love the cover. Congrats to all my friends involved!

Smut Alfresco (Absolute Erotica)

Congratulations also to Annalisa Crawford who published her collection of short stories That Sadie Thing and Other Stories this week. I can't recommend it enough - I devoured it in two short sittings! I'll be reviewing it very shortly, so watch this space!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Versatile Blogger *blush*

Versatile Blogger

The lovely Jackie at Agenthood and Submissionville has awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award, so a big THANK YOU to Jackie! I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all the friends and family who have supported me, my publishers, my manicurist, my hairdresser, my personal trainer, the man down the road who takes in my mail, my dentist, my make-up artist and my gynaecologist. Oh dear, I think I'm going to cry.

Joking aside (and that was a joke by the way), I was really chuffed to receive this award, having tried to stop using my blog as a platform for whingeing and to post something a bit more interesting!

Anyway, as you may know, the nature of the award is that I now have to share 7 things about me that you didn't already know...

1.  I still have a baby tooth! (In my mouth, not just in a box somewhere!)

2.  I am easily over-excited and suffer from intense foot-in-mouth syndrome.

3.  I have a scar on my collar-bone from treading on the hem of a long skirt and falling up stone steps when I was 9 (yeah, well, it was the 1970s.)

4.  I am incredibly clumsy and walk into doorframes, fire extinguishers etc. I always have bruises.

5.  I used to do a lot of amateur dramatics and I met my husband at an am-dram group.

6.  I used to work in theatre, on the admin side.

7.  I once trod on Ruth Madoc's foot. (For those who don't know Ruth Madoc, Google 'Hi de Hi'. It was a popular British TV show) (Proof of number 4 above.)

8.  I once spat in a cup of tea I made for a boss. I am not proud of this, but it was only a little spit.

9.  I teach French to 5-11 year-olds.

10. I plan to adopt a rescue dog this summer.

Oh, just realised I've done 10 instead of 7.

11. I am very forgetful.

SO! Now I have to pass the award on to fifteen of my lovely bloggy friends! I can say right now that I don't know who has already had the award and I also appreciate that not everyone might want to take part, but anyway ...

Ailsa Abraham and Cameron Lawton at Cameron's Soapbox
Murees Dupree at Daily Dramas of an Aspiring Writer
Dana at The Daily Dose who has probably had this before as she's soooo versatile!
Jane Ayres at The Beautiful Room
Claudia Moser at The Story
Rachel at Writing on the Wall
Kate at The Suddenly Kate Show
Michelle at Buttered Toast Rocks
Rek at A Chronicle of Dreams
Lauren at Eclectic
Aleah Barley at A Cold Cup of Coffee and a Red Hot Novel
Pat Newcombe at Writing Saved my Life
Emily at Emily Unraveled
Elizabeth Seckman at Use Your Words
Jill Haugh at I Had a Little Nut Tree

There! That's 15! These are all blogs I enjoy. I would also like to give a shout out to some great bloggy friends who have almost certainly had this award already, but who truly do give me lots of support and I don't want them to think I've forgotten them! They are:

Annalisa Crawford at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep, Patsy Collins and Vikki Thompson at The View Outside

Goodness, it sounds more like an awards ceremony than ever!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

February IWSG

You can find the list of those participating at Alex J Cavanaugh's blog right here. I'll be off to check out some of the blogs right after this!

I haven't been particularly insecure lately, but I do still have a bit of a problem. Having spent a lot of time working out how to cope with my life/work/writing balance, I feel a lot less stressed than I did this time last year, but I still haven't got it quite right!

I find it so hard to wind down. With a day-job, my only option is to write during the evening (and at weekends, but that's not the problem). I aim to stop by 9pm so I can unwind before I try to sleep, but I find I still spend so many nights TRYING to fall asleep while my mind churns over what I've written/what I need to write/what I should be writing/what I shouldn't have submitted... Gah! It's as though my brain doesn't have enough time to mull all this over during my official waking hours! I feel more and more exhausted, which makes it harder to write in the evenings, and so the cycle continues!

Anyone got a magic wand?


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Annalisa Crawford in the Spotlight!

Annalisa - my blog is all yours!

Thank you Linda for inviting me over today!

It's been a year since my novella Cat and The Dreamer was published! There have been lots of changes in my own life in that time, and I started to wonder what else had changed...

Today's topic: Books!

When I think about books from 2012, only one stands out, one trilogy that is... and I didn't even read it. Can you guess? Yep, Fifty Shades of Grey.

I have nothing against erotica, or even badly written books (although a little more so against badly written books - but as I haven't read them I can't judge them). I got a bit miffed when I realised how many people were buying the books, some of them self-confessed non-readers; how many people were buying the trilogy without knowing what it was about; how many seemed to be reading the books because the stylish black cover made them feel like they were reading high literature...

But - but! - what I really couldn't understand was:

Although, without the books, we'd never have had the parodies:
And then, or at least now, it's barely mentioned, apart from EL James popping up in interviews trying to tell us she's a real writer now!

What books did you love or hate in 2012?

About Cat and The Dreamer
As a teenager, Julia survived a suicide pact, while her best friend Rachel died. Julia’s only escape from her guilt, and her mother’s over-protection, is her imagination. When Adam arrives in the office, Julia’s world takes a startling turn as she realises reality can be much more fun than fantasy. Finally she has someone who can help her make the most of her life. But can she allow herself to be truly happy?

Cat and The Dreamer is available on Kindle UK, Kindle US, Kobo, Nook, iTunes/iBooks, and via Vagabondage Press.

Annalisa Crawford lives and writes in Cornwall with a good supply of beaches and moorland to keep her inspired. She finds endless possibilities in the relationships between people. Several new projects are on the cards for 2013.
Find her on her blog, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Interviewing Lucy

Can I entice you across to Bel Anderson's blog today where the fabulous Lucy Felthouse is being interviewed and promoting her new release?
The Military Wife (Sexy Erotica)

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Double Whammy! Interviewing twins!

And now for something completely different...
Shaman's Drum CoversCancel Christmas

Today I'm thrilled - not to mention confused - to be interviewing an author who writes as twins Ailsa Abraham and Cameron Lawton, who have their own genres and bicker constantly on Facebook. They share a blog and nobody is quite sure if they really are two people or one disturbed personality...

Hi Ailsa and Cameron!

Hi Linda thanks for inviting us. Great to be here.

We'll be finding out more about the genres you write in a bit later, but to start with I was wondering what you like to read? Has anyone particularly inspired you?

Ailsa grew up reading fantasy which is probably why she writes her genre. Alan Garner, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis are probably her inspiration. Cameron was a Biggle freak and also the Viking saga by Henry Treece. We're both history crazy so any well-researched historical novels, Mary Renault for example are snapped up.  Also Terry Pratchett – just to die for!

Do you have a hero or heroine? (Fictional or real!)
Cameron – Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. How anyone can wear THAT eye make-up, camp it up like that and not come over as gay is beyond me. I WANT that look! I'd love to have written a character like that but my guys are very in the closet.
Ailsa - (rolling her eyes) Nanny Ogg in Terry Pratchett's witches stories. She is as close to a practical witch like me as I've ever read. She's down-to-earth and doesn't hold with all Magrat's fancy paraphernalia bought from the esoteric shops. That's so great. People have very weird ideas about witchcraft and shamanism. If you but realised, there are probably practicing witches in your community but you may never notice them.
Speaking of that sort of thing... Do you have any rituals when writing? Some people need a certain pen, a particular sort of paper, complete silence...
We swap between propped up on the bed with the laptop or sitting at OUR desk on the desktop. That started after an operation when Ailsa had to keep her feet up for some weeks and found that a very comfy position.
As far as silence – yes! Can't have the radio or TV playing although there is certain music, instrumental that is very conducive. Shaman's Drum was written exclusively to Era playing on a loop on the headphones.  Even when we go on holiday in the caravan, usually down to Spain or over to Germany, the laptop comes too and it isn't a break from writing. I think we get more writing done then, sitting under the awning, very pleasant.
Oh and there must be an endless supply of freshly-brewed coffee and (guilty blush) cigarettes for us to work properly.
We writers all seem to have an inner Demon or a gremlin on our shoulder telling us we're rubbish. What does yours look like - do you know? How do you shut them up?
I think mainly for us it's our characters. They tend to peer at what we're writing and say “I wouldn't do that!”. For Ailsa the main demon is the one who sneers “Fantasy eh? Floaty girls dancing in the moonlight is it? Or hunky hero and completely made-up world, like dungeons and dragons eh?” Because that is soooo not what I write. My stuff is based on solid, practical experience of shamanism and paganism, I just set it in the future to accommodate the fact that these had become the “mainstream religions” of the day.
Cameron – whenever I doubt my abilities, usually when I read some of the awesome work my fellow-authors over at MLRP write, I remember when I got my first book published and our gorgeous Scottish auntie who is over 80 was explaining to a bunch of her friends in an Edinburgh tearoom. They're all a bit deaf so she found herself shouting at the top of her voice, “I said, dear, that Cameron's now writing pornography.... for homosexuals;” And I want to die because I don't; I write murder mystery and detective fiction where the two main characters just happen to be gay men. They're superb at their job and have to hide their relationship at work. But if you saw the same situation on any TV series with a heterosexual couple, you wouldn't turn a hair. Sure, my guys have sex, they're in love … who wouldn't?  Even Ailsa's couple in Shaman's Drum get it on a few times, maybe not so graphically but they do! 
Ailsa (laughing) yes, but even then you had to write the sex scenes for me and from the male point of view!
So, you help each other out - are the two of you also competitive about writing?
No. We are very supportive. We advertise each other's work and we share a blog where we post about our life at home and applaud when one of us has a success. No – we're twins and the only competetive thing we've ever suffered from is …. boyfriends! Oh and clothes!  
Cameron – that's true. She has crap taste in men – I'm trying to improve her dress sense but ..(eyeroll) silk purses and sow's ears etc.
Ailsa – yes, Bro – and you fall in love faster than an avalanche down a mountainside! Oh and we steal each other's fragrances regularly which causes much bitterness on Facebook. The War of the Aftershave ran for weeks (giggle).

Do you have a favourite word or phrase?
(A & C exchange glances) Yes, most of them extremely vulgar. Ailsa's husband is ex-Navy and uses “colourful language” all the time but he's really inventive with it and has us rocking with laughter.
Ailsa - There are so many, though.  I think “f**ktard” is my favourite insult at the moment.
Cameron – one expression? One that my older character, Rory, uses a lot because he is just so crazy about his lover, Jack. “What did I ever do to get this lucky?”
A word or phrase that makes your skin creep because you loathe it so much?

Ailsa – ones that I overuse in my first drafts “and then” is the worst.
Cameron – clichés! “Hot guy” is my pet hate at the moment – describe him!
What makes you smile?
Loads of things – we are very easily amused and moved. Animals particularly, and a beautiful view, we're lucky to have lots of those around here. Unexpected kindnesses from people, especially our friends on the internet. We're very isolated here and so our net-pals are very important to us and a compliment or caring remark can make our day!
You live in France. I assume you speak French well! Do you find yourself dreaming in French? ( I spent 2 weeks on the French Exchange aged 14 and found myself dreaming in French. I still occasionally dream in French, although I suspect most of it is made-up words that sound French!)
Well (slight blush) we got here by accident and didn't speak a word of French, apart from bonjour, café and s'il vous plait. But being here we learned very quickly and worked in jobs where nobody else spoke English which is the best way. Now we're bilingual and that is a bind because we forget words in our native language.

Cameron – yes, I'll be in the middle of writing and have to ask Ailsa's husband, in French, what the English is for … (goes very red)

Ailsa – I dream in French and I've noticed that when I'm out and about talking French to people, my personality changes completely. I'm normally very forthright and almost “butch”

(Cameron sniggers). But in French I become a typical, flirty, kissie-wissie, French lady doing all the shrugs and boff!s and getting in far closer to people's personal space than I'd ever do with Brits or Americans.

Cameron – you should see it! She gets positively fluffy and fluttery. Makes me hoot!
Coffee or tea? ( I should probably have offered you this right at the start!)
Both and gallons of it!  The morning always starts with tea as we are true Brits. We still have to go to the UK to buy it. The rest of the day it is ground coffee which is very much cheaper here.
Red wine or white?

Either. Ailsa is not drinking alcohol at the moment to raise money for Cancer Research in memory of Dad who died of stomach cancer aged only 38. But obviously being in the land of l'heure apero, it's great to sit outside in the fresh air and have a glass of wine before dinner. We're lucky to live in a wine-producing area, there is even an AOC for our little town up the road. A good robust red is great for a treat when we finish writing for the day but a very dry, chilled white is great for a pick-me up apero around 5.30.
Somehow, I'd feel bad drinking at 5.30 - I guess it just isn't the same if you're not in France!
Here's another irrelevant one: cheese or chocolate?

Cheese every time. Now you're going to say, of course, you're in France but we really do miss  British cheese a lot. Favourite dessert for both of us is fresh fruit or dates with blue cheese.

Summer or winter?
(Loud laughter) Neither. We love the Spring and Autumn. Summer it gets waaaaaaaaay too hot here and it's very difficult to motivate oneself. Winter here is usually not so bad, we get snow every year and it's a dry cold. Not like Brittany where we used to live, which was like Cornwall where we grew up – not cold but very damp and foggy. Utterly miserable. The spring and autumn we adore for the change in Nature around us. We're very much country kids.
You two are great fun! How can we find you and keep in touch?
Right here! Joint blog

You can also find us both on Facebook and Twitter under our names.

 Thanks so much for having us – is there any more coffee, please? We'll wash up!




Red wine or white?

Either. Ailsa is not drinking alcohol at the moment to raise money for Cancer Research in memory of Dad who died of stomach cancer aged only 38. But obviously being in the land of l'heure apero, it's great to sit outside in the fresh air and have a glass of wine before dinner. We're lucky to live in a wine-producing area, there is even an AOC for our little town up the road. A good robust red is great for a treat when we finish writing for the day but a very dry, chilled white is great for a pick-me up apero around 5.30.
Somehow, I'd feel bad drinking at 5.30 - I guess it just isn't the same if you're not in France!
Here's another irrelevant one: cheese or chocolate?

Cheese every time. Now you're going to say, of course, you're in France but we really do miss  British cheese a lot. Favourite dessert for both of us is fresh fruit or dates with blue cheese.

Summer or winter?
(loud laughter) Neither. We love the Spring and Autumn. Summer it gets waaaaaaaaay too hot here and it's very difficult to motivate oneself. Winter here is usually not so bad, we get snow every year and it's a dry cold. Not like Brittany where we used to live, which was like Cornwall where we grew up – not cold but very damp and foggy. Utterly miserable. The spring and autumn we adore for the change in Nature around us. We're very much country kids.