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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Murder at the Cat Flap!

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Long Suffering Merlin!

 

I recently wrote a post about how our house was fast becoming a cat motel and the need for a revolving door cat flap. It was an amusing situation, although it was costing us extra money for the extra cat food.

But with the onset of The Beast from the East and all this snow and ice, the situation has changed dramatically and there have been even more feline visitors. I try not to think that they are all suffering from malnutrition, that they just prefer our cat Merlin’s menu to their own, but for whatever the reason our cat flap is subject to some serious abuse.

Before all this pitifully cold weather, our visitors were amenable and very respectful of the facilities. Merlin tolerated the frequent invasion of his territory, preferring to watch from a distance. He obviously trusted us to make up the shortfall in his rations, and although we moaned about it from time to time, it was rather sweet to see so many cats wandering through our kitchen.

This situation has changed dramatically with the weather and a new arrival. He is a huge cat, with long black shaggy fur that almost brushes the ground when he walks. His tail, also long and shaggy, must be the envy of every cat in the neighbourhood. He isn’t scared or respectful, although he seems to want to be friendly, the least he could do, I suppose, seeing as he comes back several times a day! But we have discovered, alarmingly, that Merlin cannot abide him. He will ignore Shaggy’s presence if he is elsewhere in the house, but if he is anywhere near the kitchen, all hell breaks loose and I fear for Merlin and the cat flap.

 

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“It’s not my fault that Merlin doesn’t like me!”

I don’t like hearing cats fight, even though I know it isn’t usually to the death, just a lot of wailing and hissing, but the sounds coming from our kitchen I swear could chill your blood! I think the cat flap suffers the most and may have to be replaced, sooner rather than later.

We worry about Merlin a lot more these days, as he isn’t getting any younger. He will be 14 years old in May and on bad days, he can’t quite do what he used to be able to do. We have talked about locking the cat flap at night (something Merlin will not tolerate. The last time we had to for medical reasons, he almost ripped it off the door!) Hardly any point though, for most of the fights happen during the day. We also talked about moving Merlin’s food upstairs, and out of reach, but the thought of Shaggy patrolling the house, looking for food soon stopped that idea.

The other question that keeps me awake at night is why does Merlin resent this cat and not any of  the others? I have heard that other, less endowed male cats automatically fear male cats that still have all of their bits (I think you know which bits I refer to). This may well be the case, for I have been watching Shaggy when he leaves our house, stuffed to the gills with the best quality cat food. He backs up to several things in our yard and shakes his rear end at them. This, I believe is scent marking and something only entire males can do. This upset me even further, for not only does Merlin have to put up with Shaggy’s presence and attitude (and loss of feeding privileges), he is also surrounded by the smell of Shaggy everywhere he goes!

I am thinking of getting one of those water pistols to try to deter Shaggy, but I think I already know I would be wasting my time. This huge cat, although lovely, is not welcome in our house, and I hope he finds another cat hotel and soon!

If anyone can suggest a solution for poor old Merlin, we would love to hear it!

The Beast from the East!

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Day One

We have blue skies and sunshine today. A few snowflakes started falling just before lunch. Anita went for a walkabout and came back absolutely frozen!

They have been threatening us with some of the worst weather we have had for several years, but so far, all we have is just a light sprinkling of the white stuff. It is, however, bitterly cold.

I am lovely and warm in my office, catching up on jobs and thoroughly enjoying watching the weather through my window.

Day Two

We wake up to grey skies but no snow. It’s bitterly cold though. Latest news warns us that at 2 pm this afternoon, we can expect more snow. So we decide to wrap up warm and pop into town for emergency rations. Just in case!

Snow arrived as promised but barely enough to cover the ground, and melted away in no time at all!

Day Three

No snow today or the storm they warned us about, just another sunny but chilly day, brilliant excuse to catch up on my writing!

Day Four

The bedroom was freezing this morning and I didn’t really want to come out from under my duvet. I wondered what today had in store for us. Would the Beast from the East arrive today? They have forecast high winds and more snow, but after today, the weather is supposed to revert to normal. So if we are to have anything interesting to look at, it will have to be today. As I make my way downstairs, I notice the daylight seeping through the windows seems odd, almost glowing in the early morning gloom. When I pull up the blind in my office I can see that we do have snow. Not much, to be fair and it wasn’t that windy. It would appear that our version of the Beast has no teeth whatsoever.

I drink my first cup of tea, watching the world outside my window. Gusts of wind were starting to blow the snow from the roofs and snow was steadily falling, so it wasn’t over yet.

Day Five

The Beast was supposed to be gone today, but as usual, the forecasters were way off the mark. We are used to this, living in Petersfield, as we are close to the South Downs and they seem to protect us from the worst of the weather. We don’t get many thunderstorms either, something I really miss.

Just after lunch, it started snowing again, and this time it seems more determined to put on a show. It continues for the rest of the day, covering everything in sight…

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…

Skating on Thin Ice!

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I have been playing hooky from the housework and my writing, and I don’t feel at all guilty. After the week I’ve just had, I deserve some time out.

How many of you know that the Winter Olympics are going on somewhere in the world? Or that this includes ice skating?

I heard about it last weekend and resolved to try to catch some of it. Not that this easy to do, for they never show enough of it on UK channels. You have to track it down on these weird foreign sports channels and put up with some peculiar screening methods. But for me, a lifelong fan, any inconvenience is worth it for just 30 minutes viewing.

In my youth, I used to skate. First on roller skates and then ice skates. As I watched Yuzuru Hanyu, a brilliant young Japanese skater perform one of the best routines I have ever seen last night, I was transported right back to when I first ventured out onto the ice. I could feel again the distinctive chill that permeates through any amount of your clothing and the sound of the blades as they slice across the ice. Along with the terrifying knowledge that if you fall over, it will hurt.  A lot.

I was never very good at it, but in my heart, I would still like to be. The way I still want to be able to play the piano. These things, these desires have not diminished with age. They live inside me and somewhere in there, it feels as though I can actually do it.

Some professional skaters, in their search for excellence and faultless programmes, end up like robots, devoid of any style and character, and quite boring to watch.

But every now and then, one will rise above them, bringing joy to their devoted followers.

The young Japanese skater I was watching was absolutely brilliant, graceful, elegant, and so exciting to watch. The elation on his face when he came to the end of his programme was clear to see, along with his emotion at knowing he had surpassed everyone’s expectations, including his own.

There were tears in my eyes by then and also in his. It was as though we had shared the moment, and in a way, I suppose we had.

Next week, with a bit of luck, I will be watching the female skaters as they strive for perfection too…