Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas - G'ud New Year

One last quick post for 2015.  As we embark on the Festive Season, I wanted to wish everyone an amazing Christmas and a truly spectacular 2016.  Hope you are all full of  anticipation as we go into our new writing year - I know I am and I am very excited about it because I have decided to devote the whole year to poetry.

Don't get me wrong.  Writing for children is a wonderful gift and I truly cherish it.  When My Writer was published in February and, by all accounts, seems to be maintaining sales, I knew I'd be hard-pushed to follow it up.  I tried several new ideas - and am, in fact - still working on a couple.  But my poetry has really been neglected and that is where I have had most of my success over the years.  I am still writing it a lot, but I am then doing nothing with it.  So in 2016, I will start entering competitions again, submitting to poetry magazines and sites and make it my aim to publish at least one collection of it by this time next year.  And in 2017 - the year I turn 60 - I will spring a new children's book on the world and dedicate it to my mother! 

I hope you all have an amazing Christmas and a healthy, happy & successful New Year.

Love you all my silent readers.  God bless.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Feeling A Little Blue ...

I love Christmas, don't you?  It is the only thing - apart from my beloved writing, of course - that I have carried into my adult life with the same anticipation, pleasure and excitement that I did as a child.  Our beautiful tree is up, presents wrapped, larder stocked, little Christmas touches here and there - and I love it.  It gives me a warm glow.  It reminds me of family, togetherness, peace and a feeling of contentment - Christmas films being advertised on TV, all those annoying adverts tempting us to buy, buy, buy.

This Saturday, I am having a little party for my Young Writers.  On Friday, I shall buy little tangerines, little Christmas chocolates, some hula-hoops, crisps and maybe some squash or cartons of drink.  I am expecting about a dozen youngsters and I think it will go really, really well.  Then that will be it, until the first session in January which falls on the 16th.

Yet with all this preparation, this hustle, bustle, tinsel, carols and sparkling lights, I am still not quite in the zone  - and I know why.  It will be our first Christmas without Mum.  Christmases with her this past few years have not been like they were.  As she became more and more frail and needed more and more care and attention, we all had to adapt a bit so that our brash Christmas world did not upset her fragile sensibility.  As her birthday is 27th December, we used to gather at the care home and they always laid on a little tea for her and sometimes as many as two dozen of us would turn up - and she would be exhausted within the hour.  But despite that, as we adapted, that became the way it was; it was the best we could all do under very difficult circumstances - and at least she was there.

This year she isn't there.

It hasn't felt right, somehow, not to include her - no telephone conferences between us three sisters as we decided what to buy her for birthday and Christmas that would be of some practical use - fluffy blanket, warm socks, diabetic chocolate, nice bath foam, talc and shampoo, no big party to arrange, no cake.  It is as if she has been tucked away somewhere and forgotten and that, my friend, breaks my heart.

We are all struggling with it.   And I really don't know if it gets better or easier or harder as the years go by.  But I do know it is very difficult this year.

I am the biggest kid in the world on Christmas morning.  Am I, at 58, the biggest baby in the world to admit I miss my mum?  Not just miss her but need her?  I don't know and don't suppose I ever will.
God bless her - that's all I can say.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

ONE WRITER TO ANOTHER - AYW Welcomes Ciaran Murtagh

Had a brilliant Young Writers session on Saturday.  A local writer - Ciaran Murtagh - came along and did a little talk and watching him fired up the writer in me no end!  His way with the children was a joy to see.  He knew exactly how to reach them at their own level and did they ever love him for it!  I was chuffed to see they'd brought in lists of questions to ask him and he did brilliantly, talking about his writing career, reading from one of his books, coming up with the simplest yet most effective way of igniting the creative flow I have ever seen (and I have met lots and lots and lots of writers over the years all of whom had something to contribute) which I am even going to try myself next time I get stuck in Writersblocksville.   We even exchanged autographed copies of our work which was great since I wasn't able to actually pay him a fee.  It all went so well I am going to double my efforts next year to get other local writers in.  It can only be beneficial to the Young Writers to get a different perspective.  And it all helps them to develop their skills.  So huge thanks to Ciaran for making such an occasion out of that 45 minutes - and, of course, to the library staff for hosting the event.

So how are your Christmas plans coming along?  Steve and I still haven't finished our Christmas Shopping!  Every time we think we've got close - up pops another relative!  But I do think we are actually pretty close now.  We spent all afternoon last Saturday wrapping up stuff for the grandchildren and I did another two and a half hours worth last night.  Surely there can't be much more?

I will add a bit more to this later.  Have a good day.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Blowing Kisses To The Moon ...

Did you see Wednesday night's full moon?  It was absolutely astonishing!  Huge and bright and looking down on us like some kindly old grandma watching over her charges.  I just could not take my eyes off it as I was walking home!  It filled my heart with a light and a hope that has been largely missing since my mum passed away.  It did not surprise me one bit - though Steve would think I was nuts - that, as I got to my front door, I instinctively turned round and blew that moon a great big kiss ...!

Spent two hours last night catching up on AYW admin.  Had three Blue Membership certificates to print off for new members - and at least eight assignments to read and comment on.  Children write the most amazing poetry you know.  One little girl's piece about fireworks nearly blew my socks off; her observations of the sight, sound - and even the smell - of Guy Fawks' Night could have been written by someone at least three times her age!  I guess that is why I run this group!  I just love nurturing that Creative spirit.

So have you got a busy weekend coming up? Steve & I are off to Twickers for a couple of rugby games tomorrow afternoon and on Sunday - hopefully finishing our Christmas shopping ... but we'll see.  I know what we are like ... or at least what Steve (shopoholic) is like!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Long Time No Write ...

Where on earth have I been since my last post in October?  I had no idea I'd been gone so long ( I am writing very poetically today, don't you think?) and had quite a shock when I realised I hadn't been back in almost a month!

Well - as you have no doubt guessed by now - I am truly fine and dandy.  The tooth extraction is but a bad memory - or a good one depending which way you look at it, I suppose - and I just need to be thinking about booking myself in for those fillings.  And I will - eventually.  As it is, this is only my fourth day back at the day job since my midweek break in Scarborough and I am well-pleased with how it is going.  But even better!  I came back from Scarborough last Saturday evening with a brand new children's book dancing around my head!  At long last!  I was beginning to think it would never happen again!

So what has been going on?  Well ...I have been busy thinking up new exercise sheets for my young writers and I am so happy with the way things are going!  I am horribly behind on the admin for it but I will catch up sooner or later!  I have been writing quite a lot of poetry of late - mainly haiku and senryu.  Here are a couple:

little bit of love
warms the cockles of your heart
then kisses your soul

veteran soldier
living on the streets after
all you've done - shameful

the poppy petal
memories in scarlet that
say we won't forget

Do you like haiku?  They are, I think, one of the most exquisite forms of poetry ever.  Some of the real old Masters can say more in a 17 syllable haiku than some writers ever get to say in a million words!    Quite, quite profound!

As for new book - well - let's just say the prologue is done ...

Sunday, 18 October 2015

I MADE IT!!!!!

Okay - so here I am on a sleepless night at precisely 2.00 am GMT.  I was fine when I hopped into bed at 10.30.  I read for about half an hour and then felt ready to sleep.  Went out like a light but woke up an hour ago and just cannot get back.  So I thought I'd do a Blog Post to while away some time.  Hopefully when I finally go back to bed I can sleep until the alarm goes off at 5.45.  Whatever happens I will be fine till mid afternoon then I will doubtlessly be fighting to keep my eyes open at the day job.  Still I can cross that bridge when I get to it.  Right now I need to get my head clear and feel my eyes get heavy again.

So where was I last Blog Post - oh yeah - dentist.  You may be be surprised to hear that this dentophobe did attend the appointment on Friday and did have the troublesome tooth removed.  I actually walked in, filled out the form and waited for half an hour.  The lovely little nurse popped back to the waiting room a couple of times and each time I said "Don't worry.  I'm still here.  I haven't run away."  I actually felt surprisingly calm and serene about the whole thing!  When I finally met Ian - the dentist himself - (introducing myself as The Pathetic One who'd emailed) he shook my hand as if greeting an old business associate and asked about my bad experience when I was seven.  Finally I got into The Chair and he took a look.  Yes the tooth was badly decayed - did I want it taken out? Oh Yeah!  I'd got this far.  If I'd said no then, the tooth would still be there giving me a hard time!  So he took an x-ray then injected (quite a lot) of anaesthetic into my gum and after a while the entire right side of my face was completely without feeling.  That was when he removed the tooth.  Despite being rotten and as dead as a door nail, that tooth did not want to leave its warm bed and took some persuading.  But Ian knew his stuff and, at last, the stubborn little blighter popped free of its moorings and wound up in a dish.  It looked disgusting and I was glad then that I'd decided to get rid of it.  Both he and Carley congratulated me on seeing it through.  Ian said that despite the fact I hadn't been anywhere near a dentist for almost ten years, the rest of my teeth are pretty strong and healthy - I just need a couple of filling now - and a polish (sounds like we're talking about a car).

Two days later, there is still some aching in the jaw but I am hoping that is because of the amount of novocane (or whatever it was) he used and the fact my jaw was wide open for almost an hour.  If the aching has not subsided in another day or two, I will drop him another email and see what he thinks.  Where the tooth was feels ok but further back is still tender - so we shall see.

So - are you proud of me?  I'm quite proud of me, I must admit because I seriously never thought I'd see the inside of a dental surgery again.  Pray note this historic date - 16th October - the day the world's biggest coward went to the dentist ...

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

If I Must ... I Must ...

Toothache.  That one word triggers horrors for me.  The discomfort I can put up with.  But going to the dentist requires strength and courage that is hard to find.  I am sure this stems from a visit to the dentist when I was seven or eight years old.  Up till then dentists had seemed as normal to me as visiting the doctor or going to the clinic for your childhood vaccinations.  But on this particular occasion, the dentist in question decided to give me several fillings at one sitting.  I cried throughout the entire procedure and ever since have avoided going unless it is an absolute emergency.  Well, as much as I hate to admit it, for the past week I have had that emergency.  Today I will bite the bullet ... a particularly appropriate phrase considering my situation ... and book myself in.

I went to the doctor last night to get some antibiotics because I thought there must be an infection which ought to be cleared up before I take the next step.  Ever since last Friday when I realised I had a problem (I am not in agony, by the way, just achy), I have been trying to find a local dentist who I liked the sound of.  Someone who will understand my phobia and help me through it.  I found one and he has been an angel already - and that is just by email!  The doctor last night (it was not my usual one and I was not comfortable with her anyway) said to me - quite without compassion -  "There is no infection there - just a rotten tooth that needs pulling."  Charming lady.  "Go to the emergency walk in centre and get it sorted," she said.  When I got home - totally disillusioned with this particular doctor - I looked up the local emergency walk in centre.  The first review that sprang out at me read the emergency dentist was patronising and unhelpful.  So I am going back to my angel.

When my experience is over, I will come back to you and write about writing again.  Till then, wish me luck  - I am going to need it.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Promises Promises

Made the decision today to make a promise to myself every single day.  I might promise myself a treat, or to do some writing, or to do a good deed or  - well - anything.  Small promises.  Big promises.  If I promise something, I will ensure I keep that promise - no matter who it is for - otherwise I am letting myself down.  So today my promise was to buy a book - either a new one, a second hand one, a remaindered one, writing one - any kind of book.  And I did.  What is more I bought a book I have never heard of before by an author who is a complete mystery to me.  But it felt right.  And - as Ollivander says in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone "The wand chooses the wizard Mister Potter ..." - so I felt that the book also chooses its reader. 

I have so lost my mojo since my mother passed away.  I am still trying to come out the other side so Positive Thinking is currently my thing - either reading a Positive Thinking Book (Og mandino's The Choice ... Rhonda Byrne's The Secret ...) or hunting down Positive Phrases - and today's book is just such a volume - The Source by Ursula James.  I will let you know how I get on with it.

Had another excellent Young Writer session on Saturday (that reminds me - must email my guest writer to confirm a date) and I am setting my six and seven year olds to write stories using trigger words or sentences - and charging my 11 year old to become my (unofficial) deputy.  Last week's sentence was And with a grin, she turned the corner and was never seen again  as the closing line.  That got them thinking.  Even more so when the assignment I set was the same sentence, slightly altered - to open a story.  I love the looks on their faces when I come up with something like this.  I can almost see the cogs turning as their creative juices kick in.  And whatever it is they always manage to come up with something. Honestly - they never cease to amaze me ...

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Christmas Is Coming ...

Have been given the opportunity to put a poem I have written on the front of a Christmas card.  This is something I have often thought of doing and never done and this year I grabbed Rudolf by the antlers and decided to go for it!  Having made the decision, I thought - okay - time to write the actual poem now.  Which is when I found myself in the inhospitable desert known as WritersBlocksville.

Some years ago, I was commissioned on a boiling hot June day to write a Christmas story for toddlers in no more than 200 words.  Hello WritersBlocksville!  In the end I closed the curtains on a balmy summer evening, lit the fire, put on Christmas music and - hey presto - along came the story!  Maybe I could try that ruse again?

Where my poem is concerned back here in 2015, I had to set myself a remit.  I didn't want something mushy or treacly or too fantastic.  I didn't want something preachy or too religious either.  I wanted it to appeal right across the age barrier from ages 3 to 103.  After  several false starts I hit on the perfect Cheat - like go through my archive of old poems.  Found half a dozen possibilities and thought - yeah - could maybe re-write it, make a few changes - bring it up to date.  Tried it.  Hello WritersBlocksville. 

Husband Steve said to me the other day  "How's your Christmas poem coming on?"  Mumbled something abut working on it.  He said "Well - don't forget the deadline's coming up ..."  Decided there and then to give it one final crack.  And along came the poem - the most perfect, balanced, Christmassy poem I think I have ever written.

And the moral of this story?  Well ... there isn't one really.  What's that?  You want to see the poem?  Sorry - that will have to wait ...

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Soldiering On ...

Had a bit of a sort out here in my study this evening.  I don't know why this room always gets so cluttered!  Everything just gets dumped here and I simply cannot work in such confusion.  A disorganised study leads to a disorganised brain - a wise man said that once - or something similar. Anyway that saying works for me right now.   Our boiler was recently given its annual overhaul.  It is in a cupboard just big enough for the suitcases and a couple of holdalls - so we have to empty it so the engineer can access the boiler.  Where to put the suitcases?  In the study!  With such a big extended family, Steve and I are buying Christmas presents almost all year round.  Where do they end up?  In the study!  We keep saying we're going to do a boot sale (quite ambitious considering we don't have a car and therefore no boot) - where does it all end up in boxes?  Oh dearie me.  In the study!  When I walked in here earlier, I felt hemmed in at every side - by cases, bags, boxes ... I almost felt claustrophobic!  So I had to do something!  How can I ever be a writer when I am working in a storage bin!  After re-distributing things a bit more evenly and throwing the cases and bags back in the boiler's cubby-hole and rearranging everything, I now have a workspace I can use.  And with Bob Marley Buffalo-Soldiering in the background, I thought I'd come straight to my blog.  After all here we are two weeks into September with not so much as an exclamation mark to pass between us (well - to pass from me to you my silent readers who never comment).

The Young Writers had their first session of the new school year last Saturday.  It went soooo well! I had ten children turn up!  Very pleased.  The next one is on the 19th.  Racking my brain on the best way forward.  Have already asked about some guest speakers and am waiting for responses from them.  Also planning to hold at least one competition a quarter.  And arrange a couple more trips out. All these experiences are good for the Young Writers.  But in between various events, I still have to keep them writing or else what is the point?  One thing I am rather pleased about is the fact I finally got round to putting the first newsletter together.  It has only taken me six months but better late than never.  And it isn't half bad either.  If you want to find out what else is happening with the Young Writers, why not look at their blog (

It is Steve's birthday on Wednesday.  We seem to have developed this tradition over the past few years where we each surprise the other with a trip out somewhere.  My treat for him this year is tickets to see Sunny Afternoon - a show featuring all the Kinks biggest hits from the 60s - which is but definitely his era.  Plus lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe because I know he has never been and will love the vault which is full of music memorabilia and a souvenir shop  I think he'll be happy with that.

What other news do I have?  Uhhm!  Oh -it is almost 11pm.  Better hit the sack then.  Day job tomorrow...

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The New Jilly ...

Returned a couple of days ago from our lovely break in Jersey, CI.  Have you ever been there?  If not then please try it as I cannot recommend it highly enough.  We first went about twenty years ago and we fell in love with it so much we have now been back to it a further seven times!  Over the years we have seen it grow and develop but it will never lose its charm.  It is steeped in history, has a lovely climate and there is plenty to see and do.  We walked miles every day - along the coastlines, round the quaint little towns.  The people are warm and welcoming.  It truly is a place to relax and unwind (and after losing my old mum in June, bless her, I was ready to do some relaxing and unwinding, believe me!).

On our last full day there, Steve and I opted for a two and a half hour boat trip.  It went round half the island, from St Helier to Corbiere Lighthouse and it was near Corbiere Lighthouse that we found ourselves being entertained by a family of dolphins.  This was nothing short of a miracle as far as I was concerned and was one of the highlights of the holiday.  The family - we think a mum, dad and calf - showed up out of the blue and frolicked around us for at least twenty minutes - swimming along beneath the helm of the boat almost as if leading us ashore, diving in and out of the waves.  And the water is so clear there that we could even see them as they passed below us.  The male was at least eight feet long and the most ethereal blue/silver colour I have ever seen!  The female was around six feet and the baby around four feet and they seemed to enjoy the company of the humans almost as much as the humans enjoyed the company of the dolphins!  We were all hanging over the side of the boat snapping away with our cameras and we got some cracking shots of them I have to say.  Talk about excitement!  The skipper eventually announced regretfully that we had to get moving again and it was with an air of regret that we watched these magnificent creatures fade into the distance.  But the memory of sharing that twenty minutes with them is something I will never ever lose.  It really was an amazing experience.

Since we got home, we have slowly been getting back to the usual routine.  I added at least another five hundred words to The Epic this morning in the coffee shop before heading to the Day Job and I have just started getting things together for the first Young Writer session on 5th September.  That has come round unbelievably quickly, I can tell you, so I have my work set out for me for the next few days.

Don't forget to let me know of any Christmas or Autumn fairs or bazaars coming up so I can sell some more copies of My Writer.  I desperately do not want it to fade into oblivion because it is far too important if I am to continue nurturing the next generation of writers and poets!

And I am always looking for new opportunities.  If you have a parish magazine or know of any editors looking for columnists please point them in my direction ...

Monday, 10 August 2015

Farewell ... Until My Return ...

Just a quickie - off to Jersey in a couple of days.  Holidays and vacations are wonderful but on this occasion it will be so much more.  It has come at just the right time what with losing Mum and dealing with my recurring Ear Nose & Throat problems (I have now been referred to the ENT clinic) - I desperately need a complete break and the opportunity to recharge my batteries.  My plan is to come back and just write, write, write all through Autumn and Winter - even if I don't publish a word of it.

Flying out on Wednesday morning.  Many thanks to neighbour Keith for Housesitting.

See you in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Finding My Pen ...

Yes ... I did get The Epic out the other day.  It is still out.  But I haven't as yet added anything to it.  That isn't to say I won't.  Just that it is taking my somewhat stunned Creative Juices a little while to get back into full flow.  I make no apologies for this.  I just crave your kind understanding.

The Young Writers had their final session of the summer the other Saturday.  We are back on 5th September.  I now have my work cut out trying to think of how to maintain the momentum and keep their interest.  I am thinking of trips out, more special awards, competitions, maybe get a couple of other local poets or writers in.  Perhaps I could appeal to you guys?  If you like to write and you are local to Croydon, why not get in touch.  It would do the Young Writers good to get a new perspective and you'd only have to come in and meet them, maybe show them some of your work and answer a few questions.  It would be brilliant!  Let me know if you can help or if you know someone else who could!

Am off to Jersey next week for ten days.  It has been a while since we were there so looking forward to it.  Think once we are back I will definitely have to get my head down, find some local autumn/winter/Christmas fairs so I can sell some more copies of My Writer.  Also work out exactly what my Writing Plan is!  I do know I have to get organised - it is what Mum would have wanted because she believed in me 150%

Don't talk to me about Waterstones by the way.  So much for them supporting local writers.  they have let me down big time.  Stay away from them - because unless you are a best-selling author they will turn their corporate noses up at you.  Go on Waterstones - prove me wrong ...

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Getting Used To My Mini Tab

I am showing off tonight! I am writing this on my Samsung Mini Tab. I am slowly getting used to  it but I do get annoyed when,  for  some reason,  it doesn't get a signal.  I am afraid I have to admit that I am still something  of a novice with all this technology.

Anyway the point is I am succeeding with this post so that is a start...

Friday, 24 July 2015

A New Dawn

Today at the coffee shop, the lady in front of me in the queue, asked the barrista for a cup of hot water, sat down at an outside table - and promptly added some instant coffee granules from a jar.  I'm not sure if she should be pitied or applauded but it made me smile and that is the important thing.

Had a terrible day yesterday.  I couldn't concentrate.  Kept thinking of all the what-ifs and
if-onlys.   I just could not get my act together at all. Mum was on my mind every second.  It was almost (somewhat spookily) as if she was sitting there right beside me the whole day!  It was probably the Day Of Realization which had been previously brushed aside as all the arrangements were made and we were all darting about everywhere.  Now there is no darting about to do; no arrangements to be made - it is just life going on exactly as it did before - except of course that she isn't there, calming and serene in the background.

In the end I went to speak to my manager (at the day job) who, I hasten to add, has been the essence of kind understanding right from the off.  Told her I know I haven't been myself and have been under-performing and zoned out.  She listened and reassured.  And, after chatting with her I did feel better and today I am feeling just a bit of my old spark - hence the anecdote about the coffee shop which opened today's blog.

And - get this - I fished out The Epic this morning.....

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Finding My Way Back

Sorry to have neglected my blog for so long.  Since we lost Mum there's been a thousand and one things to do - arranging this, organising that, trips here there and everywhere to pick up medical certificates, death certificates, some document or other.  Thank goodness I come from such a close family because we have all helped each other limp along and as a result, the Celebration Of Her Life (rather than her funeral) went really well last week, on a sunny afternoon in Sussex, followed by a wake at my sister's place.  Now we all just have to get used to life without our mum.  I have said this so many times now it is almost like a mantra.

Still being me and being from the family I do, I am starting to find my way back.  I am not sure if I will ever really make it back fully.  But here I am blogging again.  I went back to the day job today.  I had a new idea for a story this afternoon.  I have cancelled my Writing Magazine and will try another. I had a good Young Writer session last Saturday (see and in a few weeks Steve and I are off to Jersey for ten days.  Life carries on.  It finds a way.  And I know these moments of complete desolation and hopelessness will come and go a lot.  But as I said to my sister Sharon earlier, one day, at some time in the not-too-distant future, we will all of us get to late afternoon and suddenly realise we haven't had such a moment all day.  Then we'll know we are really on the road to recovery.

In the meantime we'll just muddle through.

And eventually - my blogs will become interesting.  Hopefully ...

Monday, 29 June 2015

All Cogs & Spirals Within A Wheel

Not sure how to start tonight.  It has been a tough few days.  Prepare yourself for a shock. If you are of a sensitive nature, it might be an idea to sit down.  My old mum has passed away.  It happened very suddenly last Thursday night.  And even though she has been in a nursing home for three years, even though we have been expecting it, even though we knew it would happen one day, it has still come as a terrible shock.

How long does one take to recover from such news?  How long before you stop feeling guilty if you catch yourself smiling about something totally unconnected, before you wish you could have - and feel you should have - done more? How long before the weight lifts?  Does it ever really?  Lift, I mean?  Or do we just get better at hiding it as time goes by?

People lose people every minute of every day and yet - yet when it is you - it feels as if nobody anywhere can ever understand how you feel!  Why is that?  Obviously everyone bears grief in their own way.  But no matter how close knit a family you come from, how loving and supportive your partner is, how kind and thoughtful your friends and colleagues are in what they say and what they do, you still find yourself completely and utterly alone at some point.  That point hit me this evening when Steve had to go back to work after being at my side every second since that phone call came in.

So now there is just me.  And my thoughts.  And my laptop.  And me pouring my heart out to people I can't see and don't really know because I do not want to further burden any of those I love so dearly each of whom is having to cope with their own grief in the wake of this terrible loss.

I can't seem to cry.  My heart feels like dried up wrinkled old prune and I can't let go.  I am doing everything on automation.  Everything I normally do, I am doing.  All the things I usually say, I am saying.  But it is all as if that busy, efficient, bustling activity is being done by someone else - someone little and frightened and cornered.  I am a robot.  I am Johnny5.  I am C3PO.  I am not 
Jilly.  Not right now.

I know it will pass.  I still have writing to do.  My young writers penultimate session before the summer break falls this Saturday.  And somewhere in all this confusion, this anger, this pathetic self-pity, I will eventually find myself again.

Thank you for putting up with my rant.  Maybe it is just as well I can't see and don't really know you.

It is definitely just as well, at this moment,  that you can't see and don't really know me!  Because right now I don't really know me either.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Eating Salad With A Spoon

Had to go for a blood test yesterday morning - one of those nasty ones where you have to starve for at least twelve hours!  The starve wasn't so bad.  I had a big dinner around 7pm the night before and drank at least twelve glasses of water between then and my appointment.  The worst bit was when the nurse stuck the needle into my vein and said "... a little scratch ..."  as she gouged half the skin away.  She had to take three lots and with each new bottle she applied she put pressure on that needle.  So the day did not get off to a great start!  

It could only get better from there though.  Had a special invitation arrive a couple of months ago.  Croydon Writers is celebrating its 70th anniversary.  They invited me to their buffet at Fairfield Halls in Croydon.  My association with the group was quite short-lived really.  I think I was a member for about six months when I was in my 20s.  But I have always held them completely responsible for kick-stating my career big time when I took one of my children's poems in to read out and they all raved about it and suggested markets - which is basically how Touch Of Gold came to be published in the 1978 (I think) Beaver Annual.

Straight after work off I went to Fairfield Halls.  At first I couldn't even find the room the buffet was being held in and had to ask twice before I did - which is quite odd given how often I go there and that from the outside Fairfield Halls just looks like a big square box!  I walked in to see people milling around and lots of memorabilia about  and within a few minutes I was approached by one lady who looked vaguely familiar.  "Jilly ...?" she asked with raised eyebrows.   A minute or two later another lady came over "This is Jilly isn't it ...?"  It all began to slip into place.  I remembered both ladies were members when I initially joined - then Mike came over - he's the secretary now and we do keep in touch.  And finally I was introduced to Madame Mayor who said "Oh ... I know this lady ..." Turns out she enquired about her daughter joining the Young Writers about a year ago.

The evening went swimmingly.  There was a nice buffet, lots of speeches, a toast to President Jean Bowden who is retiring but who has been at the helm for decades and will remain an honourary member.  Best of all it was my world, my people, my language - it was where I belong.  Coming out I was on the same kind of high whenever I do a Young Writer session and I was full of ideas - I must do this ... I must do that ... what if I ...  anything to start getting published regularly again (and maybe even earn a bit of money ... you never know!).

Today as I sit at my desk at The Day Job, eating salad with a spoon (because I forgot to bring a fork and the only cutlery here is teaspoons), I do wonder how my life as a writer might have been different had I never had to worry about money!  Ah well ... never mind.  You never know what lies ahead.  And one day all my Christmases will come at once when I can just stay at home and write ...

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Scotland, The Epic & I

I think something weird is going on with The Epic.  It seems to have developed a lifeforce all of its own and keeps feeding me surprising twists and turns that I have not anticipated!  It is almost as if it senses when I feel I am running out of steam with it because it will suddenly give me a boost out of nowhere and, without warning,  there I am - back in the thick of it and completely oblivious to the passing of time or the world around me.  Suddenly I am as tiny as a mouse or as big as the sky.  How can words - words that I write down - have that effect on me?  I am at almost 40,000 words now and it still keeps telling me this is only the beginning!

In the end I decided not to take it to Scotland with me.  Just as well because I would not have had time to add to it really with all the travelling we were doing!  Saw some amazing scenery though. snow-capped mountains, lochs, wildlife, waterfalls.  One thing I realized was how in touch with and proud of  their history the Scots are.  Every entertainer we saw sang "Flower of Scotland".  I am going to learn all the words before Steve and I go up to the Orkneys in a year or so.

One of the singers was a guy called Ronnie Ross.  He is pretty big up there and his renderings of "Ghosts Of Culloden" and "Ballad of Glencoe" - as tragic as the stories behind them are - were something of an eye-opener for me.  I have been wracking my brain since I got home for similar songs to mark events in English history with that kind of passion and you know what?  Proud as I am to be English and as much as I adore my country and will believe till the day I die that it is one of the most beautiful and amazing places in the world (Lake District, Yorkshire Moors, South Downs - the list is endless), I found it hard to think of a single song! Plenty about London - did you see Alexander Armstrong sing "London Pride" at the VE Day Celebration concert on TV?  Brought a tear to my eye, I can tell you.  But there is so much more to England than London!  This is something I may look into when The Epic releases its vice-like grip on my time!  Would absolutely LOVE it if anyone reading this can come back to me with some songs about English history....

So back to The Epic - here, just for you - are the opening paragraphs.  NB - any publishers or agents reading this please contact me immediately ...

Th sun was shining on the day of The Howl.  In fact, right up until The Howl, it had been another normal Tracklands day.  Tamininka would, from this day forward,  recall how she'd just been sitting quietly in the Woodside shrubs, tips of ears twitching as her big orange eyes took everything in enjoying the weather and her Tracklands life in general, unaware that it could ever change.  Even the mice were being good today.  The Becks family was enjoying themselves at their end of The Tracklands.  The Croyds never just enjoyed the sun they were far to militant for that.  Their place of residence - allegedly right in the heart of People-Eater territory - was more like a base camp, with drills and practice battles going on all the time, whatever the weather.  Or so said Red whose self-appointed job it was to keep everyone in The Tracklands completely up to date with everything going on.

Truth was, Tamininka never really knew what to make of Red and his - as he liked to call it - "reportage".  Had he been human, he'd have doubtlessly been a highly successful author,  Tamininka wasn't sure how she knew this, she just did.  He wasn't human though, he was a Ginger Tom.  He looked like a miniature tiger he was so huge and it was solid muscle.  Tamininka - Mouse-Warden extraordinaire - looked positively tiny next to him - a fact not helped by the obvious absence of  a tail.

(c) Jilly Henderson-Long 2015

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Scotland The Brave & Beautiful

Thought I'd say hello.  Off to Scotland this Saturday for a week - can't wait! I am proud of my connection with Scotland and it is the one reason I always said I'd keep my maiden name of Henderson. I am proud of our heritage - we have our own tartan and clan and everything!  My ancestors had their roots in the clan Gunn and somewhere along the line we became mingled with the clan Henderson and my forebears hail from that amalgamation.   I am not clear how it came about. Maybe when I have more time I will look into it a little more deeply.   The two tartans are very similar, I know that.  The first time I went to Scotland with Steve was when we went to a gorgeous little village buried deep in the mountains - Braemar.  Some time later, around ten or twelve years ago - we did a tour of the Western Isles .  As we crossed the border from England,that first time,  I can quite distinctly remember saying to Steve "I have returned to the land of my forefathers..."

Have you ever been to the Western Isles?  The land is alternately lush and barren and the houses are dotted about  everywhere,  all facing different directions.  When we arrived at our hotel, a small boy jumped onto our coach and introduced himself as John.  One of our fellow passengers asked John "Are there any shops?"  John replied seriously "Loads.  We've got the paper shop over there and the supermarket that way."   The hotel was smack bang in the middle of nowhere!  Oh but I have so very many stories about Scotland - where we have been, some of the characters we have met.  One things was for sure - we could not have been made more welcome than we were - and that was repeated when we went to the Shetlands more recently.  It is truly a mysterious, beauteous and magical country and I absolutely love it.

Don't expect to get much done in the way of writing whilst we are away- I will take my travel journal and doubtlessly get some poetry done - it has that effect on me every time.  But my question is - can I stand to leave The Epic behind now I am back in full flow with it?  Answers on a postcard please ....

Monday, 4 May 2015

Any Comments ... ?

I am thinking of getting a website.  I have thought of this a number of times before and have even attempted to set them up.  But I don't really know what on earth I am doing and have no idea about getting a domain.  Have seen the Go Daddy ads on TV lately so has anyone reading this blog ever tried them?  Are they any good?  I have a lovely and wonderfully clever eighteen year old nephew who has said he'll put a My Writer page on Facebook but he hasn't come back to me yet so not sure how far he got with it, so my thoughts are once again turning to websites.  All advice and suggestions gratefully received!

Did anyone read the excerpt from The Epic?  I know you can't judge a whole book (especially an unfinished one) by a two hundred word segment but it should give some indication of my abilities so would still appreciate some feedback.  And just for the record, the book itself does have quite a lot of humor running through it so maybe I will put a more humorous bit in next time?  All I know is that I am so enjoying writing it.  It keeps the creative juices flowing and the writing muscle in shape for whatever I attempt next.

Have you had a good Spring Bank Holiday weekend?  On Saturday, we had a smashing family get together which was absolutely lovely - kids running about all over the place and the three babies - Harry aged one year, great nephew Oscar aged six months and grandson Oscar (yes we do have two Oscars in the family as well as two Harrys, albeit from different sides) aged four months meeting for the first time.  It went really well although, as per usual, Steve and I did enough buffet to feed at least fifty people!  And yesterday, having gotten the house back, Steve and I just pottered about - put up some photos, cleared up the lean-to, sorted out the Boot Sale boxes (no idea when we'll actually do another Boot Sale but we still keep adding to the Boot-Sale boxes) and then just chilled out for the rest of the day, which was nice.  Then today I went to see my old Mum.  She seemed quite bright and well for a change although very tired and as confused as ever.  So we have had a great weekend really.  Pity Steve had to go back to work tonight!

Good Young Writer session Saturday as well - see for more info.

That's it for tonight - shattered!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

At Long Long Last - the excerpt ...

So here is a teeny taster of The Epic.  This excerpt comes from Chapter 20 and, just so you know, the character Mono is a small black & white cat ...

Mono knew the Third Howl was coming long before it actually did.  She'd been following The Voices for days and several things had come to her befuddled mind.  It wasn't only that she could understand things a lot more.  It was the realization that she was still in Tracklands - but at a different time to everyone else.  As the days had passed, the environment around her had become more and more familiar.  She recognised certain landmarks.  Here was the wall she had first clambered up as she tried to escape that horrid dog,  There was the place the rats had taunted her.  But with this realisation came a sense of dread, for she was seeing it all not as it had been but as it would be!  Or - the logical part of her mind told her - as it could be.

This realisation had not come to her to begin with.  All she knew was that she was being led somewhere by The Voices for a very specific reason.  It was only as she came upon her tree that Mono truly understood.  Where that tree had been clothed in healthy leaves, what she was actually seeing was a tree devoid of life, denuded of leaves whose once proud trunk had been rich with bark.  Now she could only see a tree that was dead, with gnarled branches and skeletal twigs which pointed accusingly.

It wasn't only the tree that was dead either; the grass, bushes and shrubs around it were brown and dry.  Had Mono been human, she'd have actually wept at this sorry sight.  As she was feline, she could only feel an intense sadness that touched her very soul.

(c) J P Henderson-Long 2015

What do you think ....?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Adele, The Epic & I

It is just after 11pm and I have just finished adding today's quota to my Tesco order.  Because I shop for six to eight weeks at a time, I have to do it in stints - Sunday night - drinks (non alcoholic) and non-food stuffs, Monday night - tins & jars, Tuesday night - dairy and tonight was for dinners, desserts and extras.  Tomorrow it will be salad stuff, fruit & veg and then - thank goodness - I will be done till mid-June. Phew!  Personally I prefer walking round the nearest superstore with a trolly - but that then wipes out a Saturday morning when Steve & I could be doing something more interesting. Somehow an hour a night for four or five nights is the lesser of the two evils!  Shopping has to be done; end of!  So that's tonight's stint out of the way and now I can indulge in two of my major passions - Writing and listening to Adele 21.  Have you ever listened to this amazingly talented singer?  Her voice is truly astonishing but it's the words of her songs that just tear my heart out!  I also have Adele 19 which is brilliant but this one is what I would listen to all day every day given half a chance.  In fact I listen to it so often I know most of the words to most of the songs now and there are a couple which I am sure she wrote just for me because I know exactly the pain she is going through when she wrote them!  Amazing lady.  Cheers to you Adele.

Found out today that our landline phones are no longer working.  Don't know why.  They were working okay yesterday afternoon.  I think we might need to go out and buy some new ones.  Bit of a pain; we have only had these a couple of years.  Good job I have my mobile and laptop or we'd be completely cut off from friends and family.  Honestly however did  people stay in touch before telephones?  No wonder whole families usually lived in little villages and hamlets all their lives!

So - what have I been writing?  Well The Epic is marching on.  Still no idea where it is actually taking me.  Al I know is that I get lost in it every time I pick up my pen.  And before I make good on my promise to include a little excerpt in my blog, let me give you a little bit of background info about it.

It kind of all goes back to Yucketypoo in a weird kind of way.  The Yucketypoo books were written to help raise environment awareness in children.  Environmental matters are something I hold very close to my heart because I truly believe our World is beautiful, Mother Nature is amazing and people are generally really nice and caring.  Not sure when I first began to feel the world's pain but I have always been terribly sensitive to it.  I hate waste,  Any kind of waste.  I hate seeing litter strewn everywhere.  I hate thinking about wildlife getting caught up in nets and bags and the like and the fact that turtle often eat plastic bags because they think they're jelly fish.  I hate seeing what is beautiful being made ugly.

I have been a vegetarian for about twenty years but even as a child I loathed the whole ethic of killing animals to feed us.  Now don't get me wrong.  I understand about the food chain and everything.  People have to eat;  look at what I was saying earlier about six week's worth of shopping!  But I never liked the idea and, as I grew up, I found I was eating less and less meat until one day I realized I was eating more non-meat than actual meat.  I always went for the veggie option if one was available so I decided one day - ironically when I was having lunch in a pie & mash shop with my mum that from that day forward I would never eat meat again.

But getting back to The Epic - I became very angry a few years ago when I went to catch my morning tram and found that some bright spark from the council had come along in the night and chopped down all the trees on the bank leaving a tangle of logs and wood cuttings in their wake.  I'd seen the wildlife down there - foxes, wrens, jays, magpies, ring-necked doves, robins, butterflies of every hue. Had anyone actually thought about them as they ploughed through nests and habitats?  I don't think so.

Anyway a few days after this monstrous event, I spotted a cat down there and not just any cat - a manx cat.  I spotted her a whole lot of times over the next few weeks and suddenly this idea began to germinate in my mind - how about a story based on the tram tracks about all the animals living down there?  So I did a bit of research and found a lot of species living on them I'd never considered before - rabbits up on the common, rats, mice, foxes, badgers - and - as it turns out - lots of other cats who either live there or in the houses nearby.  Add to this the demise of the trees and my environmental thing and you'll kind of get where I am going with it.

So now I have given you the basicalities (I think I just made that word up) I will include my excerpt next  time, I promise.

But it is now close to midnight and Adele's stopped singing.  Time to switch off the CD player ...


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Poor Me ...

Not feeling too well tonight.  Horrid sore throat and gland so swollen it hurts to swallow!  Headache. Earache.  You name it.  Don't know where that came from but do know I plan on hopping into bed soon to (hopefully) sleep it off. An early night should help.  So this will be short and snappy but full of love for anyone reading it (and of course those who don't).

The Epic is bounding along.  I don't know why I call it The Epic.  At the moment it is around 30,000 words and it needs to be ten times that to qualify for  a 21st century Epic.  Mind you Jonathan Livingstone Seagull is about as Epic as you can get and is, I think, less than 22,000.  So now you know!

Sold another copy of my book today.  My Writer is trickling along like a sweet little babbling brook at the end of a garden.  Eventually it will join a river and when it hits the Ocean - wow!

No good - can't think - head hurts.

Bed callzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, 13 April 2015

Love This Writing Life!

Had an excellent Young Writer session on Saturday  (I don't mean to be repetitive but most of the sessions are excellent) and came away as fired up as the children!  We were looking at play-writing - something we have not tackled before.  I put together an information sheet (one day I will put all these sheets into a book and call it The Young Writer's Handbook)  and, because the group was quite small, we all worked together to come up with a play.  It was a resounding success - take a look at the AYW blog ( to find out more about what they came up with.  Suffice it to say that the pride on their faces when they realised what they'd done was worth a year's salary from the Day Job and they went home in a glow of achievement!  As well they should.

The Epic and I remain constant buddies.  I write whenever I can.  I have reacquainted myself with the characters - and already invented some new ones!  So very pleased with how that is going.

The Book is still selling well.  Don't know how well it is doing on Amazon and Kindle but my Steve and I are finding people who buy direct from us - which is pretty helpful because it gives us a good idea of how things are going.  Don't forget - if you know of a Craft Fair, Summer Fete or Spring Bazaar going on in or near the Croydon area, let me know.  When I used to do such events with the Yucketypoo books, they always sold well, so the power of Local must not go under-estimated!

Better go for now - but if you are very very good - I might even put a sample of The Epic into my next blog ...

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Sorry - Just HAVE To Share ...

I write this blog every so often and have absolutely no idea who reads it because I rarely get any feedback.  However - two people I know have recently told me they read it so it stands to reason that other people might. 

The only reason I mention it is because anyone who has stayed with it since I first began to blog a couple of years ago will be familiar with The Epic.  This is a novel I began around three years ago and wrote feverishly for months.  But then The Book (ie My Writer) took precedence because I knew I had to see that through.  All those months The Epic rested in the back of my mind (and a drawer) until I took it out and read through it a couple of weeks ago.

Last night, my very best friend in the entire world (outside of family of course) came for a spot of dinner and we talked about many things (we are in a very spiritual relationship as well as being great mates) including The Book (My Writer) and The Epic (as yet untitled).  Well - Paul - this one is for you.  I took up my pen this morning and wrote a whole new chapter!

Yep - The Epic is back on.  But better still.  I am WRITING again!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Sequel? What Sequel?

Someone who came to the launch of My Writer and bought a copy for the young son of a friend of hers (whom I have never met), came into the Day Job yesterday with a message from the young son.  Jilly - when is the sequel coming out?  Sequel?  What sequel would that be then?  Talk about lighting the way through the endless Blank Page dunes of Writersblocksville!  Suddenly a whole new bunch of possibilities came to me.  Yeah - why not?  A professional editor who read the book in my trying-to-seek-a-publisher-or-agent phase came back to me with two very important points.  The first point she made was "I love the twist - this book will be published".  The next was the suggestion that I take the Creative Writing Academy thread in the book and build a whole series from there - looking at a different character and using a different genre for each consecutive story, whilst keeping the original characters in the background.  Thinking about this, I came up with ideas for maybe six  sequels - possibly even more!  But in order to make that work I need to find an agent, or indeed a publisher, who is prepared to take a leap of faith with my writing.  I very much doubt I could afford to fund them all myself.  So we shall have to see.  At least the feedback I am getting is positive!  Bit like me really.

Yesterday I physically took a copy of My Writer into Waterstones and left it, along with my About The Author sheet, with the manager there, who came out of her lunch break to speak to this persistent unknown local author who has been blighting her life for the past couple of months.  She has promised we will get together again the week after next after her holiday to look at the possibilities.  So fingers crossed.

You see - never ever give up!  Catch you later.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Achey Breaky Heart ...

I have a confession to make.  I am stuck in a writing-less desert and all I can see for miles around, instead of sandy dunes, is blank page after blank page as far as the eye can see.  Yes.  I have Writer's Block.  The problem isn't that I don't have any ideas.  The problem is that I have too many and I am struggling to find one I can commit to without deviating and trying another - thus dooming both.  I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking she can't have Writer's Block that bad if she is doing a blog-post!  And you're absolutely right.  Blog posts, random jottings, haiku and diary I can write, no probs.   Anything else?  Forget it!

When I was a Creative Writing tutor, students often came to me complaining of Writer's Block.  It is true it is an affliction that affects most writers at some point in their lives.  I used to say that there are two ways forward - one is to just give yourself a complete break for a couple of weeks.  The other is to fish out something old and breathe fresh life into it; bring it into the here and now.  The main thing is not to fret over it as that will inevitably make things worse.

So my question to you is this - why don't I heed my own advice?

I am going away for Easter with my Steve.  We are heading off to Yorkshire for the long weekend and I can hardly wait.  I am hoping it will recharge my batteries (I always find the Yorkshire Moors and Dales inspiring) and give me a little break.  Things have been incredibly intense since My Writer was published and then launched so maybe - just maybe - I have burned myself out a little?  I am also finding it terribly frustrating getting Waterstones to take me seriously; although the Croydon branch - bless their literary hearts - has suggested I contact them in June as the branch is currently being refurbished and their events diary is taking a back seat till it is all finished.  So I will.  Of course I will.  The others I shall just keep emailing until they get sick of seeing my name!  I took My Writer seriously, my husband took it seriously, everyone who attended the launch took it seriously and everyone who has thus far bought a copy have also taken it seriously.

Perhaps then it is merely a matter of time?  Maybe we should all take a little hiatus over Easter?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Let's Get More Kids Writing ...

I wish you could have been at my book launch last Saturday!  It came hot on the heels of a hugely successful Young Writer session which saw FOURTEEN children turn up!  We practically took the Library over!  Or so it seemed as I went hunting for more and more chairs in order to accommodate everyone!  With all this interest there is but definitely a gap in the market somewhere for Young Writers!  I want to get more kids writing.  Writing is the best thing in the world.  Writing preserves old worlds and creates new ones.  It is an opportunity to express oneself.  It is the opportunity to entertain, to share, to inspire.  And writing out of school is so different to writing in it!  I am so lucky to have been inspired and encouraged by a writer I knew as a child who just happened to be my favourite teacher at school.  I want to get the word out there.  I want kids to want to write!

As for the book launch itself - well - it was totally amazing!  I had a lot of people turn up and I sold a lot of books and donated two to the Library.  I am now pestering Waterstones to let me do some signings.  They are being a little slow off the mark - this is the second time I have had to contact them.  But I know they'll pick it up because they support local writers.  I just have to pester pester pester!

Cannot wait now to get out there and do more craft fairs, more signings.  Let kids (and grown-ups) read My Writer.  The magic is in the words!

Sunday, 15 March 2015


Things are going absolutely swimmingly re: the book launch!  I have made bookmarks to give away.  I have sent out invitations.  I have heard the book is already being re-sold on Amazon.  This is great!  I have been tweeting about it, mentioned it on Linked In , have an incredibly clever nephew who is going to set up a Facebook page - and just about all my Young Writers are going to come along, too! So don't forget - My Writer  is now on sale!  Let's get more kids Writing!

So what else?  Oh yeah - I am working on some new ideas but this time I will  get picked up by an Agent!  I am going to go through my Children's W & A Yearbook like a trojan!  Someone somewhere will suddenly realise what I have to offer in the way of writing.  And I haven't forgotten about The Epic or the Yucketypoo books.

Boy - I am so fired up today!

See you on the 21st!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Ready Steady Go ...

Last Thursday I took delivery of 100 beautful copies of My Writer, all pristine and untouched by human hand.  They look amazing and I still can't quite believe I have actually done it!  And quite a few people are coming along to the launch on the 21st, so it will be good for the library as well - another reason to prove how vital they are to the community so STOP CLOSING THEM DOWN!!

Had a great session with my talented scribblers on 21st February.  Thirteen came along and it is so good to note how we seem to average between nine and twelve most sessions.  Can you believe it is almost a year since the group was re-launched?  How did that happen?  Did I blink or something? All joking aside though, I am absolutely thrilled by the fact that not only did Addiscombe Young Writers survive its first major setback in October 2013, it continues in 2015, to grow and thrive and gather momentum  - and I have heard of a couple of similar groups possibly being set up in other parts of the country which is truly awesome!  Making  Creative Writing as cool as the Arts and Sports is precisely why I started the group in the first place.  All children are born writers.  Nothing quite matches their innocence, their imagination and their belief which is exactly why their skills should be nurtured and honed from as early as possible.  

So how are you guys anyway?  Hope you are still Writing away and preparing for success and a sense of achievement!  I have been working my way through The Epic of late (remember that?  Go back a couple of years and you'll find a blow by blow account right here in this very blog!).  I don't know why.  I just picked it up the other day and began to read.  and I read,  And read.  And read.  And I have come to the conclusion it is FAR TOO GOOD to waste.  And if I think that - normally my own worst critic - then I happen to believe others will too.  Hey ... keep an eye out.  I might even put a bit of it in my next Post ...

Sunday, 15 February 2015


Within two weeks I should have my initial stock of 100 copies of My Writer right here in my study!  So on 21st March I am going to hold the official launch at the local library straight after the Young Writers session!  Now I need to publicise it as much as possible and am busily designing fliers, posters and invitations!  All very exciting.  In fact it is so exciting that, once the launch is over I will be at a complete loss!  Obviously need to maintain the momentum so I will be arranging some signings as well - lots of letters to write and emails to send.  Talk about learning curve!   Not sure I have it in me to self-publish at this level again.  Probably be easier if I didn't have a Day Job taking up so much of my time.  As it is I am doing everything during my free time and there just ain't enough hours in the day!  Not that I am complaining - it was my project and I have achieved a dream and - it must be said-  I simply couldn't  have got this far with it if it wasn't for my Steve!  I know how fortunate and lucky I am to have such a supportive husband whose belief in my writing endeavours knows no bounds!  So get your diaries out.  If Croydon is not too difficult to get to, come along to Ashburton Library, Shirley Road, Croydon, Surrey on 21st March between 11 and 12 for The Big Launch.  Be good to meet you!

So what has been going on since my op?  Well - went back to work last Monday.  Nearly killed me.  I hit this brick wall around 2 in the afternoon and got through the next three hours on auto-pilot, I was so tired.  It did get easier as the week went by though and by Thursday it was as if I'd never been away.  And on Friday I got my All Clear letter from the hospital.  Massive relief!  Yesterday - Valentine's Day of course, Steve and I head down to Southend on Sea to take buy birthday presents for grandsons who turned 8 and 7 within a day of each other.  And for a sneaky snuggle with their baby brother of course who is absolutely thriving and has started to smile.

Visited Mum today.  She seemed in quite good spirits - she just looks so little and helpless.  But she still has a wicked sense of humour I can tell you!  Made me roar with laughter a couple of times.

So that is about it for now.  Will be back in a few days.

Friday, 6 February 2015

I'M ALIVE!!!!!

Had my little op on Tuesday.  Cried and slept most of Wednesday and yesterday began to feel so much better!  Went all day yesterday without the need for a single dose of painkillers!  And today - well - what can I say?  I have actually Been a Writer most of the morning, sending out the Press Release for My Writer, planning tomorrow's Young Writer session and bringing the admin up to date. I love Writer Days!  Despite the fact I am sitting at a desk tapping away at the laptop, just being an active writer gives me an Adrenalin rush like no other!  It is no use.  I need to win the lottery.  Not billions.  Just enough to either comfortably give up the day job or, at the very least, cut my hours so I can have one day a week when I can do things like this!!!!!

Did you get much snow?  We have hardly seen any and today it is totally gorgeous outside - all sunshiny and springy.  I know my window gazes out over trees and rooftops, but I still feel as inspired as I would if I had an Artists's Cottage up in beautiful Braemar for a few weeks!  Believe it or not I have actually already seen two trees covered in froths of pink blossom.  It's true.

My plans for this afternoon are to sidle onto my comfortable sofa and browse the 2015 Children's Writers and Artists Year book (thank you parents-in-law) because I want to find another publisher for the Yucketypoo books.  It was such an honour to be commissioned to write two more once I found a publisher - and such a bloody shame that everything then fell through before the third one could be published.  Especially since I have had stockists telling me they'd be happy to sell the whole trilogy - but not the individual books!  And the amount of people still asking me for their copy of the third one!  Shows me that these books have the potential to be timeless as our awareness of the environment continues to grow - especially the awareness of the children who will inherit this beautiful world of ours.

Anyway we shall see.  What's that?  11.06?  Must be coffee time!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Good Health Good Health - Wherefore Art Thou?

I have been ridiculously poorly again the past few days.  Woke up with a real hum-dinger of a cold the other day but fortunately it had faded to a vast degree by this morning just leaving me with the sneezies and a slightly sore throat.  And on top of that (all being well) I have a small operation coming up in hospital next Tuesday (as long as the cold has completely abated )!  I mean what a carry-on.  I am falling apart at the seams!  Keep telling Steve I plan to trade myself in for a new model but he won't hear of it.   Ah well - such is life.  Especially as you enter the more - shall we say mature - phases!  And there was me thinking it was all about taking things easy!

Had a good writing session last Saturday with my Young Writers.  It is kind of weird but I have always been the same - even going back to when I ran courses for adults many a moon ago - I always start out each session anxious something will go wrong.  But then everything goes really well.  I had twelve children in last weekend including a new member so the group continues to maintain its momentum!  I am just so proud of these kids.  They just work so hard and really apply themselves - yet they seem to enjoy every session more than the last!  I am so lucky really!  I am pretty much living my dream.

Met new grandson the other Saturday.  He is so totally gorgeous!  Then last Saturday, Steve and I traveled down to Basildon to see our extraordinarily talented eldest granddaughter in a show put on by her stage school.  She played Luisa in the Sound Of Music sequence and she did it brilliantly.  And I am not one bit biased (!).  Just need to get down and see our grandsons play football now.  But it's already the end of January and we are fast running out of weekends!  Lord what crazy lives we lead.

That is it for now but I will leave you with this thought - If You Want To You Will, If You Don't Want To - You Won't.

Good writing everyone.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

It's Here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just thought I would let everyone know that The Book - aka My Writer - is finally available to buy in e-format from Kindle and Amazon and will be available from the end of this month in paperback.  I am planning a book launch for March and hoping to line up some signings so keep a look out for further announcements!  And wish me luck!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hope you all had an awesome Festive season?  Mine was amazing!  Spent Christmas Day & Boxing Day quietly with Steve but then on 27th the Merry-Go-Round gathered speed and I felt like one of the kids in Mary Poppins where the wooden carousel horse comes off its pivot and gallops across the countryside!  Had lunch at Niece's and presented Great Nephew with a build-a-bear teddy which he immediately began to chew on!  After Lunch, Niece and Nephew-In-Law plus Great Nephew joined us on a trip to visit ailing mum for her 84th birthday do, where we met with a dozen other assorted family members and virtually took the Care Home over.  On 28th, Steve & I raced down to Southend to visit Youngest Daughter & family for the Long family Christmas do, spent the night at an hotel, raced home on 29th in order to pack for 30th when we were heading off on a New Year break to Morecambe.  Reached Hotel on 30th around 4.30 - what a treat - bowl of fruit and chocolates in our room and two bottles of wine!  Brilliant food served up over the next four days including a Gala Dinner on 31st, loads of entertainment laid on - can't remember the last time New Year was so much fun! Finally got back from Morecambe on 2nd and began to get back into Normal Mode in preparation for returning to work.  So didn't stop really!  Had a horrible chest infection all over New Year mind, but refused to let it spoil my fun!   Still have it and think I might have to get some antibiotics because it isn't shifting!

And then yesterday - our new grandson arrived - all 8lbs,15ozs of him!  Going back to Southend this Saturday coming for a visit and can't wait!

So now it is a case of trying to get back into some kind of routine.  The paperback edition of My Writer is available from the end of January and I need to arrange a launch and some book signings. Have also pledged to actually write more this year and find a new publisher to take on the Yucketypoo books.  Maybe then the third one will finally get published.  Plus I have the Young Writers to think about and I need to ensure that continues to gain momentum having brought it this far!  So looks like it will be another busy year!

Happy New Year!