Guest Posting…

 

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One of the first things I learnt when we started blogging, was the importance of sharing, for although the blogosphere is a crowded and busy place, it can feel like the loneliest place in the world.

That first year, before I learnt the finer points of internet communication (it was so complicated and confusing at first, with all the technical stuff you need to know, like all the linking and tags) we didn’t get many visitors.

We were adrift in a tiny boat, fumbling about in the dark. The thought of actually talking to complete strangers all over the world was both exciting and terrifying.

Gradually, we have become a part of this worldwide community and the support and generosity have been amazing. In turn, we like to support our fellow writers and bloggers, helping to promote their work, so all of you writers, poets and photographers, if you would like to have a guest post featured on our blog/website, you can email us HERE. We are happy to promote your work, as long as it is original, family-friendly material that is all your own work.

The average guest post is between 500 – 1000 words long. Please submit your article as a Word Document and images as email attachments.

We will also need a brief personal bio and links to your website/blog, along with links to your social media/Amazon/Goodreads Accounts.

We will…  create and schedule your post, letting you know the time and date of the post. We will also send you a link when it is published and post links to the article across all of our social media accounts, including our blog feed on Goodreads.

Our Caveat: We reserve the right to refuse any submission we feel unsuitable for our blog/website…

 

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We Have Been nominated for the Real Neat Blog Award!

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Just one day after we were nominated on the Annual Bloggers Bash in the Best Pal category, we have been nominated for the Really Neat Award too! Two very good reasons for this delighted look on our faces…

We thank Stevie Turner for nominating us for this honour, and the rules are as follows:

 

  • 1.Put the award logo on your blog.
  • 2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • 3. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
  • 4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, and ask them 7 questions.
  • 5.Let them know you have nominated them.

Stevie has asked us these questions…

Just one day after we were nominated for the Annual Bloggers Bash in the Best Pal category, we have been nominated for the Really Neat Award too! Two very good reasons for this delighted look on our faces…

We thank Stevie Turner for nominating us for this honour, and the rules are as follows:

Whom do you admire?

This is an easy question, for we are surrounded by the achievements of several family members at the moment. One by one, our offspring have surpassed expectations and gone over and beyond the call of duty, causing much puffing up of chests and proud smiley faces. There are times when being a parent is the best job in the world!

Are You a Cat or Dog person?

This is harder to answer, for we are all animal lovers in our family. We have Merlin, a black and white cat who is 14 years old this year, and regularly dog sit a pair of young sausage dog puppies. But my favourite animals are horses…

Do you like city or countryside living?

Definitely the countryside or better yet, countryside by the sea!

Are you an outside or an inside person?

Always an outside person, I even write out of doors, weather permitting…

Do you still see people from your childhood?

I don’t think there were any people in my childhood, I am an orphan and remember being a bit lonely most of the time…

Facebook heaven or hell?

Neither, it is just an online social club, to meet and communicate with other writers/bloggers…

Do you like your holidays hot or cold?

I prefer action, adventurous holidays, so like the weather to be clement. My idea of hell is to sunbathe in a hot climate…

So, now it is our turn to nominate some people for ‘The Real Neat Blog Award’ and ask them seven questions.

Here are the eight people we have nominated:

sknicholls

Rathertoofondofbooks

Besonian

Tina Frisco

Rachel poli

Nottomatoes

Deborah Jay

Here are your questions everybody!

  • Can you just stop anywhere or must it be at the end of a chapter?
  • Do you play music or have the TV on when reading?
  • One book at a time or several?
  • Do you ever write in your books?
  • Do you have a specific place for reading?
  • Do you use bookmarks?
  • Which author do you really admire?

 

I hope we have done this correctly, as it has been a while and just a bit rusty!

 

 

 

Back From the Dead… I think!

First of all, I want to thank everyone for all their good wishes…  and sincerely hope this rotten flu passes you by…

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image by Pixabay

 

This is my third week of suffering the effects of the flu and I can honestly say I haven’t known anything like it before in my life. I have had some spectacular medical incidents in my time, heart attack, cancer and other delights. I even had something called Asian flu, which nearly saw me off when I was a child, but I don’t remember ever feeling as bad as this before.

I was the last one to fall foul of this virus in our house, smugly watching everyone else as they coughed and sneezed their way through hell and back, confident that I was made of sterner stuff and not likely to catch it.

But I did.

It has been nearly four weeks now, and I don’t think it has quite finished with me yet. The violent headaches and the coughing have eased a lot, but the nausea shows no sign of abating. Everything still tastes foul, even the water from the tap.

I don’t remember much of the last few weeks as I have slept so much. I have lost weight too, in a way I wouldn’t recommend and still have no appetite. I have tried to keep up with the emails and comments, but anything-resembling blogging just hasn’t been happening. At first, I didn’t argue, not being anywhere near well enough for that, but gradually I have begun to feel guilty. I supposed this could be a sign of recovery, but no matter how bad this guilt feels, I haven’t been able to get the brain to cooperate and come up with anything interesting to blog about. I haven’t been able to read either and that wasn’t best received either.

So, feeling just a tiny bit better, I thought I would try to write something. However, even as I sit here, my fingers caressing the keys, my eyes want to close and my brain slowly begins to slide into semi-consciousness.

But wait a minute, what is that strange feeling stirring in my head? It seems to be an idea for a blog post…

Maybe normal service will be resuming after all…

Has the New Year started well for you?

 

 

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The saddest sight in the world, for me, anyway!

I have never once thought that blogging could be detrimental to your health, but just lately, I have come to think that it could be.

Surely not, I hear you say, and I will admit it doesn’t seem likely, not on the surface, anyway.

I was nervous when I first started writing/blogging. Could I get to grips with the technology involved? Would I be any good at it? Would anyone ever talk to me?

I had a million questions, which are all very natural when you embark on a new adventure, and although at times it has been a frustrating and difficult journey, overall I have enjoyed every single minute of it.

So what on earth am I on about?

Just lately, a strange feeling has been creeping in, insidiously, like wisps of smoke. The blogosphere is like a mirror, reflecting everything we bloggers do.  As a good proportion of bloggers are writers, you get to see what their lives and careers are like and it can be very reassuring if they are struggling just like you, facing the same problems and difficulties, but the more successful ones are an inspiration, showing you what you can accomplish if you work hard.

We have been blogging for nearly five years now, and have met some amazing people, helpful, considerate people, generous with their advice and friendship. You gradually become part of their world, a world where anything is possible and you can afford the luxury of dreaming.

I can hear some of you tapping your fingernails, wondering where all of this is going, so I will try to explain.

Everyone says that with patience and hard work you can achieve your goals. But I have been patient and worked as hard as I can, but no nearer to anything even remotely like my goals.

And this was my epiphany… maybe my goals are wrong?

Something has to be wrong with me, for on a bad day my enthusiasm wanes. All that wonderful optimism seems to leave the building.

I have been thinking about this year and it is clear that I must come up with some resolutions that work before the men in white coats come to take me away!

Not that this year can be the same as before for so many things are different now, starting with my number one symbol of a New Year, Big Ben…

Big Ben has always been a very special symbol in my life. I grew up in London hearing the deep resonant tones of the bell. The imposing majesty of the building is one of my most enduring memories of my time there.

London has many such landmarks and I love them all, but that tall clock tower on the river Thames embankment is by far my favourite. By rights, my favourite should be the river itself, feeling as I do about water, but no. Very close though.

‘Big Ben’ is really just a nickname for the great bell itself, inside the famous clock tower at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London. Built in 1858 and 96 metres high, it is the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world. But the big bell itself is not the biggest. St Pauls Cathedral has a slightly bigger one, weighing in at 17 tonnes.

Scarily, the tower leans slightly to the North West, apparently caused by the tunnelling for the Jubilee Line Underground train.

I came across this picture of Big Ben a few weeks ago, and I was instantly transported me back to another New Year’s Eve so many years ago.

That particular year, my friends and I had decided to celebrate the coming of the New Year in style. We would attempt some kind of pub crawl, visiting as many bars and public houses that we could manage, in spite of the volume of people all doing the same thing; ending up at the embankment for the fireworks and Big Ben’s majestic chimes.

We had such fun that night even though I knew I would not contemplate doing it again, as the number of people all seriously intent on having as much fun as possible, created more madness and chaos than I ever thought possible and a lot of the time I was scared to death.

You see all the crowds on television, but could you imagine being there?

Of course, there could have been so much more trouble that there actually was, that many people, most of them hysterical with excitement and booze could have deteriorated into a riot. But it never seems to. No matter how squashed, drunk or freezing cold you happened to be, there is some kind of reverence going on, as if it would be a sin to ruin that night in any way.

Our journey around London that night was exciting, but I was glad when we found ourselves by the river just before midnight. We had left most of the throng behind and it was almost eerily quiet by the water. The fireworks were further up river and we seemed to have Big Ben all to ourselves.

It was very cold that night, but at least it wasn’t raining. I was one of the few people in our group that didn’t have a partner, something I knew I wanted to change in the New Year. I had no idea of the direction my life would be taking, no plans and not many dreams either, for I had already learned that dreaming was futile.

So that evening ended up on quite a solemn note, and as the hands of the clock above us moved closer to the 12, the tears were not far away.

I had never been that close to Big Ben before and was not prepared for how loud the chimes would be. First came the melody and the vibrations seemed to travel up my legs until my whole body seemed to be humming. When the big bell started to chime the hour, the vibrations became longer and deeper and it felt as though my heart would break.

More than fifty years later, the sound of that bell has the same effect, instantly transforming me back to that lonely young woman who had already taught herself not to believe in dreams.

I obviously knew a thing or two back then, for my life has not been full of the stuff that dreams are made of, rather the opposite. But I am still here, not quite ready to give up. So is Big Ben, although undergoing major refurbishment along with the Houses of Parliament. Seeing all that scaffolding around the tower was worrying. If anything went wrong, we could lose Big Ben forever…

Our year has not started well, but with renewed effort and a following wind, We are confident it will get better…

 

 

 

Who Keeps Moving the Goalposts?

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My week of disasters began when the reblog button on our website vanished. Then I started to notice that other people had lost theirs too. I wanted to believe it was a glitch, that somehow the button would return, but nagging doubt told me a different story. While it was at it, it managed to convince me that I was on a downward spiral and it was only a matter of time before it would all be over bar the shouting.

I soldiered on, trying hard to convince myself that one way or another, I would be fine. I mean, the world wouldn’t end if I couldn’t reblog all my favourite posts, would it? Sue Vincent had shown me how to use Press this and  pingbacks on WordPress, so all was not lost.

Then our browser, Firefox crashed. Nothing I did, made any difference, it was gone. I had to switch to Internet Explorer, just to get some work done. It has none of the bells and whistles that some of the big names have, but it works. Looks like I am being forced to go back to the basics, but as long as it works and gives me no more trouble, I am fine with that.

In the middle of all this, I was offered Google Chrome on one of those pop ups. I hesitated for a while, then something made me accept. I hate getting used to new systems, so this was quite brave of me, considering. Everything went well with the changeover, and I loved their speed and efficiency in importing all of my favourites and data. It was one of the most painless transitions I have ever experienced. All of which, unbeknown to me, was setting me up for more trouble and disappointment.

I was doing my best to cope without the reblog button when I noticed something odd.

Every Sunday, I schedule a week’s posts on Buffer to be posted on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I have been doing this for over a year now, with no trouble. I think it is great way to promote your work and spread your presence around the net.  But now, for some peculiar reason, our posts were not appearing anywhere! At the same time, Twitter was behaving strangely too, with duplicate tweets appearing like a rash.

The bit that really got to me, was finding out that all of our Buffer posts were finding their way to Facebook. I ended up so confused, I wanted to scream. No one seemed to know what I was talking about, let alone be able to help. Unable to understand what was happening or who could be doing it, I started to panic. I had to step away from the computer before I did something stupid!

Overnight, rational thought took over from nagging doubt and I managed to think clearly for the first time in over a week. I had no idea where the problem lay, so would have to systematically eliminate the possibilities, one by one.

The first to go was Chrome. Bit of a prime suspect this, as I thought my life was less complicated before I installed it. But, you guessed it. Nothing changed!

The people at Buffer were brilliant in offering helpful advice, but they had no more idea of the source of the problem than I did. I loved Buffer, they were so helpful and easy to use, always a blessing with my brain! But my instinct told me to change my scheduler. I waited another day before deciding to try and schedule a post with another scheduler. Not something I was looking forward to, as most of them were far too complicated for me. But I was determined to find out if it would succeed where Buffer might be failing. I was almost ready to do this when Buffer came back to me with another idea. I tried it out and it actually worked.

I suspect that Buffer has been tweaking a few things along with Twitter and WordPress. Why on earth do these companies insist on tweaking all the time?

Personally, I live by the motto, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’

 

As I said yesterday, the dust has now settled, but it has left me a nervous wreck, wondering what will happen next. The only good thing about it all is none of it has stopped me writing. My current WIP is growing, and the one part of my day that I totally control. No glitches or gremlins!

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current WIP!

#Throwback Thursday. Second Tries, or How to make the right decisions the first time?

 

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My brain must be like Emmental cheese these days, soft, spongy and full of holes. I am getting really fed up with trying to think and decide what to do, or even knowing if the final decision is the right one. As they say, if I had half a brain, I would be dangerous!
I can’t decide (or remember) if I have always been like this, or if this state of affairs is yet another symptom of my advancing years.

Time is becoming problematic, far too much of it is spent second-guessing. Wouldn’t life be more efficient if all deliberation could be removed? Easier to pick a winkle out of its shell with a pin, I hear you say. But I am heartily sick of wondering which item to buy, which programme to watch, whether to cut my hair, the list is endless.

Added to my inability to choose anything, is the sure and certain knowledge that whichever one I pick, it will be the wrong one. Always is. I never get anything right on the first try.

Could life be more like plotting a book?

Now, I know that many writers don’t believe in plotting. They believe their characters will do most of the hard work for them, and I have experienced this first hand too. But other writers firmly believe in careful plotting, even using a story board.
All my life, I have been a ‘winger’, hurtling from one idea to the next. Sometimes getting it right, but more often not. Advancing age has changed all that. I no longer have the time for hit and miss. Decisions I make now, have to be right, although how this will happen, remains to be seen.

Now, I am still virtually new to this writing business, and with the idea of getting it right first time (could be a novelty in itself!) I tried plotting. With a lot of practice, I’m getting better. So much so, that the sequel to my fourth book has been thoroughly plotted, storyboard and everything. But this is not something you could really do with your life. Too many decisions, and so many ways of dealing with them.
In addition, other people tend to make your life awkward, sometimes it seems, just to be bloody minded.

Could it be as simple as throwing a dice?

Then I remembered something. (It does still happen sometimes!) I once read about a man who always made every decision with the turn of a dice, and apparently, his life was glorious. Maybe it was worth a try, as my way was getting me nowhere.
On second thoughts though, that sounds worse than ‘winging it’.
But if I were younger…

They say there are ‘two sides to every story’ and ‘everything happens for a reason’, but what if neither of these things is true? What if it is as simple as right or wrong?
Could it be that when life gets too difficult, we are simply trying to force wrong into being right?

Should we blindly follow our instincts?instincts,

Recently, I have been thinking back through my life and all the different choices that I had to make. To that small, persistent voice that nags you, insisting you do this or that. How many times had I ignored it, thinking my own choice was better, usually for all manner of reasons? Would my life have been better if I had obeyed that still, small voice? If I had not always chosen the path of least resistance, the path that always looked inevitable. Maybe the choice that looked the hardest, the most impossible, would have turned out better than what actually happened?

Maybe then, I wouldn’t have so many things to be sorry for, so many people I should apologise to.
If there is such a thing as reincarnation and I get another chance to live a better life, I hope I remember some of the things I have done wrong, all of the people I have hurt, and do it better next time…

God Bless and see you all next week…