Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Merry Christmas to all and to all , a Goodnight ...

So here we are on the very cusp of Christmas and 2017!  What a year it has been!  My Writing in general has suffered quite horribly - but my Poetry has been pretty active, with a couple published and around 200 written - mainly haiku which mainly appears on Twitter.  Well - I did say I wanted 2016 to be my Year of Poetry!

In every other aspect, 2016 has been pretty good.  We moved to our lovely new house with its leaded light windows.  The Young Writer group flourished and thrived and published its second book - which launches this Saturday.  I realised the current Day Job is not the job for me any longer - and I discovered a number of agencies who commission freelance writers so I have signed up with a couple of them in recent weeks and we will see where we go with it.  I will be getting another job, I am in no doubt about that - and the sooner, the better really.  It isn't the People.  The People I work with are the Best.  It is the job - I am bored with it, unchallenged by it and - quite frankly - no good at it (you ask my lovely manager who has done everything she can to support and motivate me as I have struggled with it all this year).  It just means that, for me, the tides are turning - it is time to Move On.

So what are my plans for 2017?  I want to write another book for children.  I am not sure what, how or who it will be about but I do have some ideas dancing around in my head like a neurological Strictly.  And as for the Young Writers - well, I have some new activity ideas for them as well and maybe an Exhibition of Work at the latter end of next year.

For now though, I am just going to dig in my heels, sit back and enjoy the festive season - which is still and will always be - my favourite time of year.  Happy Christmas - and may God bless us every one!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Way To Go Bob ...

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about the film "A Street Cat Called Bob"!  I first read James Bowen's brilliant book several years ago and I loved it.  It is truly a story of hope and triumph over adversity and I know from experience just how  a cat can have such a profound effect on one's life!  I have also read "The World According To Bob" and "A Gift From Bob" and every time I pick one of them up, I get a warm fuzzy feeling that reminds me of slippers and hot chocolate!  I cannot recommend it highly enough if you are looking for a warming read this winter!  I knew the film was coming but now it is here, I can hardly wait to see it!

Last weekend, Steve and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary!  Unbelievable!  We spent the weekend in London, staying at an hotel in Russell Square.  We went to see "Matilda" at the Cambridge Theatre on the Saturday night.  To me - a massive admirer of Roald Dahl and his work, this was an absolute treat.  To Steve, who has never read one of Dahl's books, it was a journey of discovery - and he absolutely loved it.  The little girl (I believe it was Clara Read at this performance) playing the lead role was an astonishing professional and she delivered a truly stonking performance - especially during the story-telling sequences - becoming more fraught as the tale of the escapologist and the gymnast reached its dramatic climax.  I have only ever seen that level of professionalism in a child-actor on stage before and that was when we saw "Billy Elliot" a few years back.  Watch out for Clara Read in the future - she is going to be a massive star one day!

Great news!  I finally finished compiling the Young Writers' book "Word magic 2"!  It just needs proof-reading then I will whip it over to the printers.  I cannot wait to show my youngsters the dummy copy at tomorrow's AYW session!  It doesn't look half bad actually although, for some reason, it has proved much more of a challenge this time than last time.  Maybe that is because with the first one, I was flying pretty much on a wing and a prayer as I had no idea how to go about it and did so with sheer willpower and an overwhelming sense of urgency for the children's sake.  It couldn't fail so it didn't!  Hopefully the second one won't either!

I can't believe it is Bonfire Night tomorrow.  I can't actually believe how fast this year has flown by, really and that I am sitting here on 4th November, in our lovely little home with its leaded windows, as fireworks snap, crackle and pop.  Yes - even with one day to go, they are alive and well and kicking up a stink outside.  I don't actually mind them - at a distance.  To me they herald the coming of winter - scarves, hats, gloves, and, of course, the fact Christmas (always my favourite time of year; something I never outgrew and never want to) is less than eight weeks away!

I am still no closer to starting a new book and I desperately want to.  There has just been so many distractions this year, so I promised myself today that, come January, I will make 2017 my Writing Year.  2016 has been my Poetry Year.  I have published a few, tweeted a lot and written a ton of them.  And one day, maybe - just maybe - I will do something with them all.  But next year I want to write something I can really sink my teeth into.  The ideas are there - the rest will just have to follow.

So that is it for now, my oh so silent readers.  I promise I will do my best not to leave it another month before I write the next post! Arrivederci!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Finding My Write....

So much has gone on since my last Post!  The Young Writers got off to a flying start after the summer break with seven turning up for the first session and ten for the second.  Their new book Word Magic 2 is taking shape.  Be interesting to see how  this Saturday's session goes!  The old house was finally sold after several hiccups and the new house is just thriving!  We get on well with our immediate neighbours, the house itself is straight and looking lovely - very comfortable - a proper home!  Such a relief after months and months of boxes!  I think I can honestly say that we are very very happy.  And everyone who has thus far visited The Gallop has fallen in love with it at first sight.  We are very lucky.

The only thing flagging is my Writing.  I don't think it has fully recovered yet from all the disruptions of the past few months.  The ideas are still there and the poems are still coming - but anything beyond that just isn't happening.  I was kind of hoping to get back to The Epic - or to at least have a new children's book underway by now but - nothing, zilch, zero.    I am not worrying too much.  I know it will come back eventually.  But it is a tad frustrating to never leave the starting block as I am sure all fellow writers will completely understand!

So let me tell you about my latest reading matter instead.  It is the first in Jodi Taylor's The Chronicles of St Mary's.  It sounds rather like an Enid Blyton book doesn't it - First Term At Mallory Towers, for example!  But really, you couldn't get further from the truth!  The first volume is entitled Just One Damned Thing After Another and tells the story of the time-hopping historians  at St Mary's Institute of Historical Research - and in particular one Madeleine Maxwell, fondly known as Max. There are three other books so far A Symphony of Echoes, A Second Chance and A Trail Through Time.  Despite the fact this first book has some deeply disturbing moments - horses burning to death on The Somme as The Historians 'observe, take notes and do not get involved', for example, it is mainly incredibly funny stuff and has had me, on occasion,  howling with laughter!  It is one of those lovely simple concepts.  Who amongst us has not found themselves caught up in a fascinating tale on a visit to an historical site somewhere and not  thought I wonder what it was really like?  So I highly recommend Jodi's books, albeit I am only half way through the first one, and would not be the east bit surprised if they pop up on our TVs at some point as a mini-series, they are that good!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Phew ...!

I am writing this at the dining room table of our lovely new home.  We have been here two and a half weeks already and we are surprisingly straight considering it took us three trips in the removals van to get our furniture, clothes and at least three hundred boxes over here!  We have also taken delivery of several items of new furniture but - and here's the really exciting bit - we are already talking about where we can put the Christmas Tree this year!  Now that must surely mean that this was the new home for us!

Another good thing (at least whilst the weather is decent) is that I can actually walk to work from here and I am feeling the benefits of that already.  It is very hilly in these parts but every day those inclines are less and less of an effort!  And if I do decide to bus it - well the bus stop is ten minutes away and a three minute trip on the bus gets me to the office.  It hasn't been quite so easy for Steve, bless him.  Instead of getting home at 5.15 he now gets home at 5.45 - and he leaves for work at 6.45 rather than 7,15 in the evening, so it has actually added half an hour to his journey each way.  But he is getting used to it.  We are very resilient.

I am slowly getting back into the Writing.  Yesterday morning at this time, I updated the Young Writer blog and last night, I was finally able to sit down and start going through the work they have handed in for the new book Word Magic 2.   Over the next couple of weeks I will decide what order to put it all in and then I will start compiling it.  Considering we have had The Move, a Holiday, a Funeral and a Weekend Away to contend with, this book is, so far, still on schedule and I am pretty pleased about that!

It will be interesting, once the Young Writer sessions start up again in three weeks, to see how long I am going to be able to carry on with it.  My plan initially was to give it a year to realistically see if the fact it will now take me an hour rather than five minutes to get to it remains viable.  I think it will be - but only time will tell!  I am not planning to give it up; it is my Creative Writing Baby and next year it will be five years old!!!  Still - we shall see.

Ah well - 7.21 a/m GMT - time to get ready for The Day Job ...

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Almost There ...

Wasn't it Andy Williams who once sang "We're almost there ..."? I can't remember the next line but that first line is pretty apt for our current situation!  We are almost there - in fact we are going to actually be there by close of play on Friday 5th!  Yes our Big Move to our sweet little house is just two days away so it is pretty much action stations.  The packing is as good as done apart from what we need to tide us over to Friday.  I think I have told everyone who needs to know what our new address is - and I am talking mainly utilities here.  I only remembered Thames Water last night and the TV Licence the night before!  Tonight I will sit down at my laptop and do a Change of Address for family and friends then it will be go go go.

The downside to this move is that my writing has taken a terrible blow!  I simply have not had a moment to think of anything except the odd haiku and journal entry - even my two blogs have been sorely neglected of late.  Once we are settled in and the office is all set up and I can access my filing cabinets again, I will start trying to catch up.  Till then, I am afraid, you will all just have to bear with me.

Just wanted to let everyone know I haven't forgotten them - my entire world is completely upside down at the moment.  Hopefully it won't be too long till it's right side up again!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Getting Ready To Move ...

Boxes!  At the moment we eat, sleep and dream boxes!  Boxes of Keep stuff, boxes of Charity stuff, boxes of - well - stuff .  We cannot wait to get into our new place now, I think we have both had enough of boxes.  How is it that we have accumulated such vast amounts in the eighteen years we have lived in Addiscombe?  Do you know what we found the other day?  A box full of chinaware we have not unwrapped since we actually moved to Addiscombe!  We'd just forgotten all about it until it reappeared in the dark recesses of our workshop!  Such are the woes of the soon-to-be-moved!

But never mind.  Life goes on beyond all things mundane.  A couple of weeks ago, the Young Writers had their Picnic in the Park!  It was a truly phenomenal success, with more children turning up than ever before.  It was such fun!  And I really believe the children benefit from the change of environment. You don't get swings, birdsong and the sound of the wind in the trees in the library! And then on the Saturday before my 59th birthday, as a Birthday Treat, Steve took me to see Beautiful - The Carol King Story.  It was a terrific show and we loved it - the music was very Us - all 60s and 70s stuff.  I hadn't realised before just how great an impact this clever young American composer had on the music scene!

And on the Sunday after my birthday, we went on our early summer holiday - a lovely coach trip to Bath, Bristol and the Cotswolds.  It was the first time we had seen the Cotswolds properly - we have passed through them a number of times - but this holiday gave us the opportunity to visit some of its pretty little towns and villages; places like Broadway with its sweeping thoroughfare and Bourton-on-the-Water, rather sweetly dubbed the Venice of the Cotswolds, because of its numerous low bridges crossing the charming canal.  Luckily, Steve did not almost break his ankle on this trip.  But the heavy cold he woke up with on the Tuesday did put something of a dampener on the week.  Not enough to spoil our dinner out on Wednesday with my sister and brother-in-law, who were also holidaying in the area.

Once we got home again, everything moved very quickly - the house is as good as sold, we have found our new home - and all this means we will be moving much sooner than we thought; early August in fact!  So it is all go - which exactly what I need to do now - Day Job calls!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Love This Writer's Life

I have really had the most phenomenal few weeks by the way.  Our daughter took us out for a Father's Day meal on Sunday and my grandson said to me  "Any new books lately ...?"  and as I shook my head, I explained about the talk I recently did for Croydon Writers, the workshop with Croydon Literacy, the stall I had at Croydon heritage Festival on Saturday where I not only sold copies of "My Writer" and the AYW book "Word Magic", but I was approached by several people to do talks, an editor who is "always look for contributors" and a number of writers/poets just starting out who were eager for advice!  Only realised that everyone else at the meal was listening when they chorused "Been busy then ..." .  And I haven't even finished yet!  I have a stall at a local school fayre this Saturday (25th), have seen my article "Writing For A Younger Audience" reappear in the on-line magazine "Women Writers - Women's Books" just this morning and it isn't long till I start laying out the new "Word Magic" book!

Am I fortunate or what?  And I am so grateful for all the opportunities coming my way!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Blame The Doctor ...

That Doctor Who has a lot to answer for!  Here I am thinking I added a new post a couple of weeks ago and it turns out to be a couple of months ago.  Time And Relative Displacement In Space - ie - an unintended time-slip - is the only thing I can think of as I grovel to beg the forgiveness of my silent and invisible blog readers!  SOOO much has been going on!  I spent a lovely week in Scotland with Steve (lovely but for the fact he almost broke his ankle on the second day, which meant a morning at A & E and the rest of the day at the hotel with only an ice-pack for company.  He is still hobbling around with a walking stick but definitely on the mend).  The weather was unbelievable!  We watched the weather report every morning.  The South East was being dellugued in rain,  battered by gale force winds and hit by storms whilst up there, the temperature was in the mid 20s every day and the sun just beat down from dawn till dusk!

We are frantically packing ready for the intended move in October, cleared the loft (thanks Sharon and Gary - your help was very gratefully received), hired a skip, cleared the shed, the workshop, the lean-to  (all of which are now just piled with boxes ready for storage) - and that is only the beginning!
The talk at Croydon Writers went really well, the Young Writers continue to go from strength to strength, there's the Workshop with Croydon Literacy coming up, the new Young Writer anthology to lay out and publish - and I now have to get to work.  Part the Second later ...

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Almost May ...

Cannot believe we are almost in May already and find myself running to catch up with this year - how about you?    Of course, the fact I have been so crazily busy all the time has not helped one iota.  Every time I think I am on top of it all, something else comes along and I tumble all the way down again!  The Young Writer group is absolutely flying right now and doing better than it ever has!  It was perfect timing when a newbie came along recently whose poet-mum has now become my first lieutenant!  Take a look at  to catch up with all our news.

Wasn't it sad about Victoria Wood.  As a writer she had a huge impact on me and her output was quite phenomenal.  The world in general has lost another bright star - it has been a bad year for celebrity losses - and Victoria will be sorely missed.  Huge thanks Ms Wood for all the wonderful things -and characters - you gave us. RIP.

Thought it was time I gave a Poetry Update - I have written around 80 new poems so far this year and plan on making time to start submitting them again.  The Australian Editor said she would like more so she will probably be my first port of call - but I have, as Baldrick used to say in "Blackadder" - a cunning plan - which may lead to a regular market for at least some of them, so watch this space for more info. 

As far as The New Book is going (as opposed to The Epic which is starting to niggle again after almost a year away from it), I am still trying to find a way to get it out there to teachers and interested parents and writers right across the English-speaking world (and maybe even the non-English speaking world, who knows?) - whether in book format , course format or even as a website (said she who knows NOTHING about setting up websites) - to encourage the development of more groups for Young Writers.  The continuing popularity of Addiscombe Young Writers, the workshops for 6 - 9 year olds I ran before, the school talks - and even the Young Reporter club I ran when I wrote for a local paper - really proves to me how much interest there is in this subject (and how rarely it is considered an extra-curricular activity) so there must be a way to provide the foundations I already have archived, to other people.  Hmm - it is a conundrum - but I am convinced something will turn up!

Away from Writing (but not for long) - nephew's wedding three weeks ago went well, great-nephew Harry had his second birthday party last Saturday.  He looked adorable in his Postman Pat outfit.  Brother Paul got back to his home in Denmark okay and by all accounts had a brilliant reunion with his dog Chippa who seemed quite happy to leave the Doggy Hotel he'd been staying in.  The venue is booked for the Big Party next year (my 60th and Steve's 65th) and guess what?  The sun is shining!

See you soon.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Happy April !!!

Hello everyone!  Well - can you believe that we are in April already?   Here's to a good one for all of us.  Now the days are longer, the evenings lighter and the weather's better (well - we can hope) plus we have the summer holidays to look forward to - and Steve & I have a couple coming up so lots to smile about.

Had an excellent Young Writer session on Saturday.  Now that we have had funding for the new book, work has begun in earnest to fill its pages with the work of these talented children. I had eleven youngsters turn up including three newbies and we were looking at writing reports.  Off they all went with their fact sheets and I puffed over to the librarian (I spend almost the entire hour running round the tables helping, listening and advising - it is truly a great way to work out!) who said kindly "Jilly, you're a victim of your own success!".  Not sure I am but this group certainly is!

Steve and I are getting ready to move - probably around September/October time - so we spent the rest of the weekend sorting out some space to keep all the storage boxes we're filling - which are already in danger of taking the place over!  I am making numerous trips to the charity shops but we have made barely a dent in our H U G E accumulation of stuff.  But then we have lived here since 1998 - and two people can gather a lot of stuff in seventeen years! Still - we managed before so I am sure we will manage again!

Have had confirmation of my talk at Croydon Writers next month so need to start preparing that soon. Not that it will be a problem for me to talk about writing for children for two hours!  Once I get started my passion takes over and my tongue runs away with me!

Better go - loads still to do tonight before I hit the sack.  And pray excuse all the exclamation marks - I am just so excited about Life.....

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

It's A Wonderful (Writing) Life!

Amazing things have been happening and I just have to tell someone before I bust!  This year my Young Writers group celebrates its fourth birthday and I thought it would be wonderful to mark it somehow.  The children have been saying for months that they want to publish another book and guess what?  After an appeal in the local paper we now have the funding to go ahead and publish it!

I am so excited about all this - this evening I have been printing off consent forms for the mums and dads!  My childrens' faces when I told them at the last session were a sight to behold!  This is what they have been hankering after for ages!

On top of that, I have been asked by Croydon Writers to be a Guest Speaker in May and on top of all that I have been approached today to take part in the Croydon Literacy Festival in June by running a Creative Writing workshop!  I mean how much better can it get? I have been dancing on air all day.

If I can only convince a literary agent to take on my new book, I will be the happiest writer alive! The new book is something I have been toying with for months and could lead to Young Writer Groups being set up all over the country!  This is my ultimate goal these days,  That plus initiating an Annual Award for Young Writers with a trophy and Gift Card for the young winners. I have said all along - ever since I ran the original workshops for children back in the late 80s - that if I can help one youngster to grow up and be a successful writer, I will feel my life's work is done!

My poetry year by the way is also coming on in leaps and bounds.  An editor in Australia asked if I could submit some work and one of my haiku was recently published on Poetry Space!  I have also been writing oodles and oodles of it - haiku, tanka, free-verse, you name it!  My pen is in full flow and I am tweeting haiku regularly on Twitter (@Jilly66408011).  I certainly made the right decision when I said 2016 would be my Poetry Year!  I hadn't realised how very much I have missed it the past couple of years!

So all is right in my Writing World at this point in time.  And I love it!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

All Part of the Great Circle of Life ...

Ok - I have to admit it.  I turn 60 next year.  And I now have a Hearing Aid.  I have been experiencing greater and greater hearing loss in my left ear for about a year now and I knew four months ago that it was never going to get better.  Hearing tests, MRI scan and trips to the audiology department at the local hospital confirmed that my hearing in the left ear was about 20% and falling fast.

As much as I hated to admit it, when I was told I needed a hearing aid, I was actually quite relieved. Getting my head round the idea of being a granny with a hearing aid (as opposed to being a granny without one) was quite different, though.  Nobody likes to admit they are getting old.  I suppose vanity played a big part, even though I have never ever been vain about anything (except that my hair is always clean and shiny but that is another story).

But now I have got it and am used to it and can hear again - I mean actually hear - it is like closing the door on a muffled snowy day and opening another into bird-sung spring.  In fact when the hearing aid fell off the other day (obviously I hadn't put it in properly in the first place) I was actually shocked at just how deaf I am in my left ear!  And how much I had been over-compensating with my right one!

I can remember boldly stating as a child that if I ever had to lose any faculties as I got older, I'd sooner go deaf than blind.

Almost five decades later that is exactly what is happening. And you know what?  It's okay. I can cope.  It is all, as Mufasa says in The Lion King, part of the Circle of Life.  And as long as you don't fight it; as long as you accept it graciously, you'll be all right! Honestly.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Getting Back Into the (Poetry) Groove

Was feeling a bit low last night; don't ask me why. Had the urge around 9pm to sit down and write so I did just that.  Updated the Young Writer blog ( then wrote a whole string of haiku.  They are little snippets with a great deal of Escape about them and writing them must have worked because I did feel better by the time I hit the sack around 11.30.  It still amazes me how much one can actually say in seventeen syllables!  And what will never cease to astonish me is how profound haiku can be!  Not only do I love writing them, I love reading them.  All hail the mighty haiku - the BIG  little form of poetry.

A couple of things have happened since my last post by the way.  The Australian editor I mentioned has now asked if I'd like to make regular contributions to their range of magazines.  They do a whole lot of different on-line mags, all part of the Australian Times group.  In fact I will be looking more into it over the next few days.  Had a great Young Writer session last Saturday (see their blog for a full report) which went unbelievably well.  Ten children turned up!  I have started an on-line journalism course with FutureLearn.  Tonight I will be carrying on with that.  It isn't quite what I expected but it is very interesting and I am not a quitter.  I have written oodles of poetry.  I shall never let it slip again.  I have been asked to be a Guest Speaker at Croydon Writers in May. And I am trying to find a publisher for a new book.

there's nothing quite like
being a busy writer 
magic's in the words

Watch this space ...

Monday, 25 January 2016

POETRY YEAR - update 1

So here we are - one month on from Christmas Day (which means it is only eleven months till the next one!) and I thought you deserved an update on my Poetry Pledge!  So far, so good.  I have written fourteen pieces - mainly haiku - one of which was commissioned and the other of which I entered for my first competition of 2016 just last night.  If I include the sample Tanka I wrote for my Young Writers the other Saturday, the number produced is actually even higher - so I feel as if I am on track and doing well!

I have also taken other positive steps.  I have started reading poetry again - with purpose - and it is feeding the hunger left by a whole year of negligence!  That is not to say I didn't write poetry last year because I wrote quite a lot.  But doing nothing with it is as bad as not writing it at all!  But I am confident I am going to at least quadruple last year's output if I stay as driven as I am right now! And, as well as reading Poetry With Purpose, I have taken out a subscription with a Bristol-based poetry site called Poetry Space! That is where I submitted my first completion entry last night.

Luck must really be on my side as well.  I was checking Linked-In a little while ago and I have been approached by an online poetry magazine and asked if I'd like to submit some work!  All this before the end of January!  If you want to see some of my recent poems just drop me a line (she says hopefully) and I will include some next post. Promise.  And they will only be short.

Away from the writing for a minute - I just have to tell you about a film I saw last night on DVD!  It was called San Andreas and Dwayne Johnson is in it.  From the opening scene to the last I barely felt myself breathing it was that thrilling!  Please go out an grab a copy from somewhere.  If you like films that are not short on thrills and spills, you will love San Andreas!  And it is a great way to spend a winter's night in!

Catch you soon.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Star Man

So sad to hear about the demise of David Bowie over the weekend.  He was one of those musicians that touches everyone's life even if it is with just one song.  In my case there's at least half a dozen that have had an impact on my life for one reason or another so I was as shocked and saddened as everyone.  Okay - so I never actually went out and bought an album or single and I never saw him in concert.  But I still feel his passing has left something of a void in the music world.  RIP David Bowie.  You really are a Star Man now.  But then you always were.

Monday, 4 January 2016

2016! OMG!

Hello and welcome to my first post of 2016!  Doesn't that sound out-of-the-world and sci-fi - ish!How was your Christmas?  Ours was hectic as always but worth every second - especially seeing our grandchildren!  And on 30th December, Steve & I went to Great Yarmouth for our New Year break.  We were actually pleasantly surprised by the weather and we packed a lot into those few days!  We even got to the Sea Life centre and the human circus at the Hippodrome on New Year's Day and thoroughly enjoyed both!

Now we just have to contend with getting back into the swing of things.  Steve was back at work yesterday, I am back at the day job today and last night, our lovely fibre optic Christmas tree, all the cards and the decorations were taken down for yet another year.  Getting back to normal might be a problem because I have got a streaming cold today.  Steve has had one on and off for three weeks so I hope mine is just one of those annoying little 24 hour things!

At least I don't have to contend with the aftermath of the floods!  My heart truly goes out to everyone affected by this natural disaster and I just hope things get better for them.  Fingers crossed and God's blessings!

Have lots of plans for 2016 as mentioned in my last post.  Take my hand.  Let's travel into the unknown together.  But don't forget to keep writing!