It was another Monday morning and I was asking myself the same old question. Why do I bother with any of it? Anything that could possibly go wrong, usually does, and it was getting a bit wearing. Then my inner voice decided to join in the conversation.
Everyone feels like this sometimes, you are not unique you know…
Yes, I know we all have days when we think everything conspires against us, and life seems futile. Doesn’t help though.
You sound like a drama queen, one who is prone to over exaggeration…
I don’t think I have imagined the succession of near disasters that have played havoc with my life this year?
Okay, I will admit there have been one or two, but nothing to write home about…
How about my inability to successfully market anything. You have to admit I am hopeless?
Could be you’re just not smart enough, for it’s not exactly rocket science…
I can buy that one, for the results of my efforts speak for themselves.
You seem to be forgetting that you are OLD. That feeling of circling the drain is quite normal at your age you know…
There are days when I would agree, but others when I still feel competent enough for the job in hand.
But which of these days are the real ones, and not the ones that are the result of your own stupidity?
I know I have a few shortcomings, but there are also circumstances that are beyond my control.
Beyond your mental capacity, you mean…
A fine Jiminy Cricket you turned out to be, where is all the optimism, the encouragement?
I can only work with the material I have at my disposal. It’s not my fault if your grey matter isn’t up to scratch…
You know, all of this could be academic if my health gets any worse. I’m sure you have to agree that I am not imagining that?
I know it does all seem very real, but you have beaten the odds before, and will do again, I’m sure…
So, you would conduct my life differently, would you? You are coming across as a smug know-it-all, but you don’t drop any hints any more, do you? Isn’t that supposed to be part of your remit?
After a lifetime of trying my best for you, literally thousands of hints later, I have run out of ideas. Banging my head against a wall is definitely not my scene…
So I am on my own now, you are retiring?
You still have your instincts, even though they malfunction far too often. It has brought you this far, however…
“Some of us get to choose how we live our lives, whether to depend on our conscience, or wing it with instinct.
Heaven knows which is best, and I think it also knows what will happen to us. I could do with a ‘heads up’ round about now…”
I was watching Theresa May (the UK Prime Minister) this morning, and for the first time saw what looked suspiciously like signs of defeat. The normally serene and smart woman we are used to seeing looked tired and a little scruffy, as though she had been up all night. Which I suppose she might well have been, at this delicate stage of the Brexit negotiations. I got the definite impression that she is barely hanging on by her eyelashes.
I can identify with that state of affairs, for at 75 years old, with cataracts in both eyes and rampaging arthritis, I might be approaching the end of my rope too.
It has been a week of highs and lows, or swings and roundabouts if you prefer.
From a major disagreement with Microsoft, who thought I wasn’t me anymore and refused to accept several new passwords. They kept insisting I had to contact them on a mobile phone to resolve the problem. That was an even bigger problem for me, as I don’t have such a thing! But once I borrowed one, everything was okay again.
Then I finally managed to claim our website on Pinterest, something I had been trying to do all week.
I still don’t understand why any of this happened, or why using a mobile phone made Microsoft like me again, especially as it wasn’t mine, but that was the closest I want to get to HTML or all things SEO!
The minute I feel life returning outside my window, it’s like a wake-up call for me to pull my socks up and get cracking. You never know, this could be the year when all things become possible.
Spring is finally here and the sun is shining, but it is very cold. I know this because I have ventured outside to check on the garden. I still call it a garden, even though I now need a machete to go very far! The grass has begun to grow, heralding the start of much fruitless pushing and shoving of my equally ancient lawn mower. Luckily, I think it can wait a while longer.
My Bonsai are all sprouting, cold or not, their winter sleep is over and it will soon be time to check their roots to see who needs a trim, fresh soil or a bigger pot. This is about all I am capable of these days, as I really cannot cope with the ever-present growth of brambles in my jungle of a garden. The last time I tried to tame them I had to retire wounded and bloody, so now they have my permission to run riot.
If I do get the urge to blitz them, I will get a flamethrower and do the job properly!
(This amazing image was created by Ben Phillips)
Our Little Green Friend
I went with Jaye to meet the strange little fellow she had found at the bottom of our garden yesterday. Sitting beside him, I wondered if he could speak.
He looked real to me.
‘I may be small, young lady, but I’m not deaf. I can hear your thoughts. They’re very noisy.’
I apologised, asking who he was.
‘You can call me Toby.’
I asked that he refrain from reading my thoughts, that I would rather speak with him.
He agreed. Immediately my thoughts burst back into action. He looked like Mr Mushroom Head. The longer I looked at him, I thought he could be Merlin in a new form. I swear to God he winked at that thought.
‘I need a favour, ladies. ‘
‘Anything,’ I said, believing him to be Merlin, come for a visit.
‘I need to stay a while until the covering over my heart has grown. You see, like this, I am vulnerable.’
My words came out in a rush. ‘Stay as long as you like.’
I hoped he understood, for it didn’t sound right in my head. Calming down before speaking again, I asked if his other arm would grow at the same time. ‘How long will it take?’
‘A month or so, weather permitting.’
I had to ask if he would be safe from our cat. ‘Should I put some kind of guard around you?’
‘No need, I will be perfectly safe. Merlin will not harm me. Rather, he will keep me company.’
I was shocked to realise that he knew the name of our cat. ‘How did you come to be here?’
‘Let me just say, I am lucky to have escaped an ill wind. I landed here, exhausted, three days ago. I tire now, ladies. I need sleep.’
We both stood to leave.
‘Before you go, there is one more thing I need. If we have no rain for a day or more, I will need a little watering, as it’s the one thing I cannot conjure.’
You will have as much water as you like, I thought.
As we walked away, I heard his thought. I hope she doesn’t drown me, trying to be helpful…
Back inside the house, Jaye put the kettle on to boil. I couldn’t sit still, my skin was tingling, tiny darts running up my arm. ‘Did you hear what he said, did you see him wink? He used the word, ‘conjure’. Why would he do that, if he wasn’t a wizard of some kind?’
Jaye waited for me to calm down, as she knew I would. ‘I did see the wink. One thing’s for sure. It isn’t some kind of fungus as I first thought.’
Later that evening, I snuck down the garden to say goodnight. At first, I thought he had gone. I didn’t know what I had been expecting, for him to be standing there with his eyes closed? Of course, he wasn’t. The top hat that looked so like a mushroom, or Merlin’s wizardy hat, had collapsed. He must be sleeping underneath. I crept away, as quietly as I could, so as not to wake him. I heard his small sleepy voice whisper ‘Goodnight.’
I answered, without moving my lips.
Our friend stayed for three months. He had warned us not to be sad, should we find him gone. ‘I will try to visit as often as I can. If you cannot see me, you will always hear my voice.’
Sunday morning I found him gone. In his place, a flower grew, one we cannot find in any book or online. It is three inches tall, shaped like a beautiful blue butterfly. A wonderful gift that we keep secret.
I heard his voice in my head, a little water is all he needs…
My heart was broken. I wanted him to stay.
The gift he left never grows old, never fades. I think it will be here long after we are gone…
As if we don’t have enough to do, we have stumbled into what might possibly be either a brilliant idea, or the worst kind of madness ever to visit our house.
I’m not sure where this idea came from, but for some totally inexplicable reason, we are both equally enthusiastic about actually writing a mystery/thriller book together.
This may not work for a multitude of reasons, for we usually write in such different genres/and the arguments will probably reach hitherto unreached levels/we may end up killing each other!
We have started, and early indications would suggest it could possibly work!
Anita wrote the first section/intro, and I nervously followed. We average about 500 words each, but this could easily change when the musts get going.
Quite apart from being the most unlikely writing partnership, can you imagine what our respective muses must be thinking?
Other writers have done this, and in the past, we have often wondered how it would work. Now we will discover how hard it will be and if it will even work for us. And if we can do it without any of our legendary arguments, it will be a miracle!
Already, the conversations about the direction of the plot have been pretty spectacular, for we have such very different ideas about everything. The fact that I am the thriller writer around here stands for nothing, and my suggestions have not been well received, to put it mildly!
Today’s discussion ended with Anita suggesting that we start again, and this time write a spooky supernatural story.
We could, of course, but I am trying to finish my current WIP at the moment and all of this chaos is playing havoc with my schedule. It is my turn to write the next section, so I had better make it good!
The workmen are still here, and they seem to have hit a problem. This is not the first time they have been digging the road outside our house, and they had a problem then too.
Much walking around, conferring with each other. You can almost see the head-scratching from here but has the advantage of keeping their noisy machines quiet.
This time, however, we have temporary traffic lights to put up with, and you guessed it, they are right outside our house. So although the machines are quiet, we are having to put up with traffic waiting for the lights to change. Cars are not so bad, but motorbikes are deafening!
The obvious frustration of the workmen has been having the reverse, positive effect on my own. I am tackling the first structural edit of my WIP like a pro and my initial confusion has faded away like a bad dream. I cannot understand why this book had become so complicated. I never had this much trouble with the other three!
But despite interruptions and all the noise, the editing is going well, and most of our books are now on Smashwords. Next job is adding the links to our book pages!
They have turned the machines back on and the noise is interfering with my ability to think straight. Time to get out of here and go for a walk!
When I heard about this local walk, one I didn’t know anything about, I almost declined, preferring to wait until the weather became warmer. It had stopped being quite so abominable, the sun was shining but there was a slight chilly wind.
But the lure of discovery was too strong to ignore, so available family members were invited to accompany us and off we went.
It was just a ten-minute walk from our house, so an easy walk for me and my geriatric knees. Once outdoors, the chilly wind tried to remind us that Spring wasn’t here yet, but the sun kept us company as we walked along on our first excursion in 2019.
I hadn’t been out of the house for ages and was thoroughly enjoying looking at all the houses and gardens. Petersfield is an ordinary town, but even the ordinary can be fascinating if you have been incarcerated all winter.
From what we could see on our way to the walk, people everywhere were on the move. Builders were busy, gardeners too. Windows were being cleaned and we all remarked on the amount of activity.
Nature had been busy too. New green growth and spring flowers had arrived in all of the gardens, and we were looking forward to seeing what we would find on the walk.
Tucked between the houses in an ordinary street, we saw the beginnings of a river, not much more than a trickle at this point. We also saw the mud on some of the pathways, and hoping this wouldn’t get any worse, we set off.
Although I have mentioned before that our Council keeps our town tidy, they obviously hadn’t got around to this walk yet. It was extremely wild in places, with fallen trees, undergrowth and a lot more mud, which made following the river (such as it was) rather difficult.
Now, I love a bit of a ramble. Climbing over trees in the mud is a fun day out for me, but my family don’t share my enthusiasm and at the risk of being nagged to death, I decided not to push it, and we turned around to make our way home.
I wasn’t too disappointed, for just being out in the fresh air felt wonderful.
Then I caught sight of something out of the corner of my eye. Something rather large was swooping around above our heads. Straining to see what it was, due to the bright sunshine, I couldn’t believe what I thought I was seeing. When it flew around us again, there was no mistaking what it was. A huge ruddy coloured bird with a massive wingspan and fan- like forked tail, it could only be a Kite. The first Kite I had ever seen in Petersfield!
We stood and stared, mesmerised by the show he was putting on, almost for our benefit. When he finally flew away, we felt both elated and deflated.
But before we reached our house, we saw him again. It was as if he was reassuring us that he was here to stay…
I met a lady at the fair
Let me tell your fortune, said she
I smiled and kept on walking
She stopped my steps with this,
“You have one number wrong on your ticket.”
I paid with silver,
she told me then, “turn the four into a five
to see your fortune thrive.”
With this, my bank account did swell…
It is the beginning of the week, the sun is shining and it seems warmer. Optimism had lifted its head and was smiling at me.
Then I heard a load of noise outside my house.
Close inspection from the front room window revealed a horde of workmen, clad in bright yellow reflective jackets. All busy moving heavy machinery and what seemed like miles of orange barriers right outside my front door. We would be drowning in noise at any minute.
They say there is no peace for the wicked, but I couldn’t possibly have been bad enough to warrant so many roadworks. This is the third time they have dug up the road outside my house!
Luckily, my office is at the back of the house, reducing the noise to an annoying buzz that I can almost ignore.
As I make a conscious effort to slow down, I have discovered that I am actually noticing so much more these days. Before, in the daily struggle to get more done, I think I was starting to lose sight of the trees.
This week, while editing the first twelve chapters of PayBack, my WIP, I found not one colossal error but two.
The first stopped me my tracks. How many times had I been going over these chapters? I had already rewritten and restructured them and yet I had my protagonist driving to work several times, and in the same chapters, he was catching a train!
Finding this mistake almost floored me, but I tackled it and moved on.
The next error I found was a plot hole. Not a very big one, but a hole nonetheless.
When I edit, I keep a running storyboard, listing events as they happen. This is so important in a mystery thriller novel and usually avoids plot holes. For the first time ever, my system had let me down.
I decided to edit these first chapters again after correcting the first mistake. My writing senses must have been working overtime, for I could feel something was missing. I kept checking my storyboard but it seemed okay.
I never like to ignore my brain when it tries to tell me something, so I decided to compile a new storyboard just for my protagonist (the detective), as I had a feeling this would be where I would find the problem.
And I discovered a missing chapter.
Now, whether this happened during the rewrite, I couldn’t say, but it looked pretty obvious to me that I will need a few good Beta readers when I have finished.
Therefore, I have an important message to anyone who loves reading mystery thrillers. If you could read PayBack for me sometime in March, I will love you forever!
Molly the elephant lay dreaming
of a snowstorm, a blue dolls house stuck in a tree.
Tiny white mice huddled there on the roof.
“Fear not, I will set you free…”
She pushed and shoved with all her might
The tree held fast to mice and house.
A voice was heard from high above
“There is no need to shake with all your might
The mice can climb upon your back
to safety, you can carry.”
All night she trudged through deepening snow
the morning light was waking slow.
The blue house stood to the right
windows burning bright beneath the tree of evergreen.
Her family waking, lived outside.
Her dream she told, her mother smiled,
“There are no mice outside this house…”