Another lovely poem from Anita, and we want to thank everyone for all your encouraging comments!
Please keep them coming!
I spotted this POST the other day about the magical relationship between writers and their notebooks by one of my favourite bloggers and instantly knew she was talking about me. It had to be because I have a thing about notebooks. Notebooks are an essential part of being a writer, and they should be attractive to look at.
This is so important for the magical element of writing, as only good things can be written in such a notebook, and consequently, only brilliance can ever find its way out of one.
The difference between hastily scribbled, barely decipherable notes on scraps of paper and your notebook entries is nothing short of amazing. One important difference is the fact that your notebook entries will at least be readable. I mean, you will be using your very best handwriting in your notebook, won’t you?
I know I do. I simply cannot spoil it with any of my messy scrawl!
Because of the special nature of notebooks, you will write better content in them too. A strange magic occurs when you open an attractive notebook, as it is almost a challenge to produce something special. Something that almost never happens with scraps of paper or post-it notes.
Our book, Lazy Days, about our first family holiday on a boat on the Norfolk Broads, was born in a notebook. Originally called our Captains Log, we wrote down everything that happened and everywhere we went. It was fun but only intended to be a keepsake. Nearly forty years later, we turned it into a book. All of our family loved reading it and remembering our adventure…
After last week’s frantic juggling with not one, but two couches, I intended this week to be rather more peaceful. Maybe I could catch up with some writing?
The garden was happy, as I had cut the grass the week before. The hedge could do with a bit of a trim, but as there was still a bloody great couch in the way, that would have to wait. I did manage to spend a lovely relaxing afternoon repotting some of my bonsai, so they were happy too.
What followed was a week of odds and sods, some writing and more updating of Anita’s book Simple, which was written way back in 1992. It needed a full edit as I was amazed by how much better I edit these days, thanks mainly to Grammarly I think.
I tried to come up with a new cover for Simple, but inspiration seemed to be in short supply.
I am almost half way through PayBack, my WIP and already I know that the edit for this one will be a killer, as I think I may have over complicated it. There is a small mountain of notes and amendments already.
Somewhere along the way, there has been a noticeable change in my thinking this week. I have been worrying less for a start, about everything. If I don’t manage to get every little job done by the end of the day, I am strangely not annoyed. I have always been my own worst enemy, but lately, I find myself thinking, oh well, and moving on. I mean, what does it matter if something isn’t done today? No one will be rapping my knuckles, and that old guilty feeling seems to have taken a walk and I won’t miss it.
It could be something to do with my age, and the imminent arrival of being unable to do all the things I used to do. My eyesight doesn’t help. It has deteriorated to the point where I must take frequent breaks from reading and the TV.
Hopefully, I will have some news about the cataract removal soon…
Benor arrives in Port Naain intent on the simple task of producing a handbook for merchants. Then there is a murder, and a vengeful family who will stop at nothing to silence those who found the body. Suddenly Benor’s life is no longer simple.
I have read several of this author’s fascinating stories featuring the poet Tallis Steelyard, his wife Shena and all of his friends. I am always delighted and amazed at the quality of the writing and the accompanying artwork.
I was offered the opportunity to read Flotsam and Jetsam, the very first Tallis story and literally jumped at the chance.
All of Jim Webster’s Tallis stories are set in a different era and way of life. This one is unusual in that it is a complex murder mystery.
I never knew that Tallis and his wife lived on a boat in the beginning, but Tallis has always been a poet of some renown. Shena has a dubious job, one that might get her killed one day, and if you want to know why you must read the novella.
These unusual stories are exceedingly well written, complex and full of description, strange names and places, and colloquialisms from another time.
Every one delightfully different and a joy to read…
Jim Webster is probably fifty something, his tastes in music are eclectic, and his dress sense is rarely discussed in polite society. In spite of this he has a wife and three daughters.
He has managed to make a living from a mixture of agriculture, consultancy, and freelance writing. Previously he has restricted himself to writing about agricultural and rural issues but including enough Ancient Military history to maintain his own sanity. But seemingly he has felt it necessary to branch out into writing SF and fantasy novels.
He lives in South Cumbria.
He has even been cozened into writing a blog, available for perusal by the discerning (or indeed by the less than discerning) at http://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/
“Brilliant book, could not put it down. Will certainly look for more from this author,.
Tallis Steelyard strikes me as the kind of person who could charm the scales off a snake, or at least the kind of person who thinks he could. I found him highly entertaining, and very realistic – who among us hasn’t known someone with equal talents?
At any rate, Flotsam or Jetsam was a wonderful introduction to Port Naain and the world Tallis and his lovely wife Shena inhabit. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun to read; I’d have had it finished in an afternoon, except that my kids seemed to think I should feed them. It’s short enough to read in one sitting, but long enough to feel like a complete story, and it’s a good thing there are more stories to come from Port Naain and the colorful characters who inhabit that city because I’d love to pay the place another visit.”
Nine Lives was my debut novel, one I made such a lot of mistakes with.
Feel free to comment, advise or criticise, as I am very interested in improving my craft.
Chapter One received some valuable advice last week, please keep it coming!
Even though it might never be perfect, your first book is always special, isn’t it?
To this end, I will be posting a chapter every Wednesday…
What happened next was a bit like trying to watch a film through a heavy net curtain. There seemed to be far too many people in her flat, and no one appeared to be talking to her or each other. Foul tasting pills were pushed into her mouth. She wanted a drink of water but couldn’t seem to get anyone’s attention. Then something was wrapped around her arm and she was dimly aware of someone looking at her.
Something warm and fluffy gently pushed against her hand and she realised it was Dylan, back to check on her again. He was an intelligent animal and always seemed to know when she needed to fuss him. What would happen to him if she weren’t around?
Then she was pulled to her feet, what was happening now? Where were they taking her? Two men in bright Day-Glo jackets led her outside to a waiting ambulance. She didn’t understand how she was walking; she wasn’t in control of her legs. How was she moving? What was happening to her? Worry about finishing her latest artwork tried to take shape in her head, but she couldn’t seem to make herself care about anything. She was glad she had cleaned the paint from her fingers earlier and that was all that seemed to matter.
Once inside the ambulance, more pieces of equipment were attached to her and machinery hummed and bleeped. One of the men was talking, and it all sounded far away and very technical. Then the ambulance started up and the ride to the hospital was a nightmare. There didn’t seem to be enough room to swing a cat what with all the equipment, and the ambulance man was not exactly skinny. He seemed to be putting his hands all over her to keep his balance. The driver must be a maniac.
When she arrived at the hospital, she expected to see the emergency department, but they took her to what appeared to be a state of the art operating theatre. She didn’t know it at the time but this was where they usually took people who were having a heart attack. This was technology at its finest but she was in no state to appreciate any of it. By this time she was pumped so full of morphine she literally didn’t care if it snowed. Nurses tried to reassure her, but she didn’t care what they did. They asked if there was anyone she wanted them to call, and she shook her head. There was her brother Danny, or her agent and friend Samantha Cameron, but she didn’t want either of them there, so she said no, there was no one. That suddenly seemed so incredibly sad she felt like crying.
The pain in her chest was bad, and for some peculiar reason, it wasn’t bothering her much. Whatever the doctor was doing was nothing worse than someone holding her arm tightly. She looked in his direction and all she could see above the mask he wore were his dark eyes, concentrating hard on something in front of him. They seemed to be kind eyes if a little young. She wondered if he was tired. It was late after all, she heard the nurses talking about being woken up to come and help her.
All the machines and equipment around her seemed to be wrapped in plastic bags, and it struck her as funny they hadn’t unwrapped everything when they bought them. No, that wasn’t right, was it?
Something was happening to her arm, he was squeezing it harder than before and then he said something about feeling something cold. Was he talking to her?
Then she felt it, a weird coldness was slowly creeping up her arm and into her chest. What was he doing? She was so tired and desperately wanted to fall asleep and it wasn’t happening.
A strong waft of a familiar fragrance drifted over her as she lay there, and she struggled to open her eyes, expecting to see a nurse close by, but no one was close enough, so where had it come from?
For some inexplicable reason, the scent of flowers made her think of her mother. She died when Kate was sixteen and because of her miserable childhood, made infinitely more miserable by her mother, Kate should have hated her. All the time she was growing up, Kate thought she did.
Now, all Kate felt was sadness for the woman who clearly hadn’t been happy either, never managing to find anything to make her life worthwhile.
After all this time, Kate still missed not having a proper mother. She never had a dad either; he died during the war so he had the ultimate excuse. Try as she might, Kate could never come up with a decent excuse for her mother’s behaviour. She had always been achingly absent whenever Kate needed someone to comfort her and it would have been nice to have someone to rely on, no matter what.
A long time seemed to pass, with all the people in the room busy doing something and calling out to each other, and she couldn’t quite figure out what they were saying. It was as though she was seeing things with the wrong glasses on. Everything was blurred and out of focus. Then she was moved again, the trolley she was lying on pushed down seemingly endless corridors ending up in a dimly lit room, being made comfortable by an attractive, dark-haired nurse dressed in what looked like blue pyjamas. There were plastic stickers with wires attached all over Kate’s chest and something tight and painful clamped to her wrist. Apart from this, she felt much better. The pain had stopped, so that was something.
The nurse brought her a cup of tea and nothing had ever tasted so good. Suddenly she knew she was going to be all right, she was not going to die after all, and might finally be able to go to sleep, even with the machine bleeping gently by the bed…
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 contact us in the comments below this post.
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…
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:
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:
Here are your questions everybody!
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…
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…