Monday, December 31, 2007

Farewell to 2007

My last blog post of the year.

It has been a strange, yet also life-affirming, year and right at the end, things seem to be coming together, especially in respect of the writing.

I think I know where I am heading.

I have finally realised (or accepted ?) that to get published you have to take risks and put your work out there. That the novel is not going to be written quickly, because that is not the way I work yet, despite the support from the lovely Novel Racers. So to keep my interest and have work to submit I also need to work on smaller pieces at the same time. Write them, send them out into the world and get back to the novel.

Today I have written a poem.
I may submit it to a competition.
That is a start.

Three best of the year:

1. Book - In Search of Adam by Caroline Smailes. Gritty, inventive and deeply haunting. If you haven't read it yet, look out for the forthcoming paperback.

2. Music - Back to Black by Amy Winehouse. I can't get the title song out of my head.

3. Moment - receiving the email telling me that my flash fiction had been accepted for the Your Messages anthology.

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and successful New Year. Here's to 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Introducing.... new fledgling website, here.

For the time being I am using free site hosting, hence the Google ads, I hope they are not too distracting. I'll probably upgrade to an ad-free paid version later and I want to add a links page of writers' resources in due course.

I've also bought a domain name and hopefully will be able to use it for this site soon...I think I know how to sort that out, but it is a bit scary so I need to take some technical advice before I fiddle with any settings.

It was interesting that when I first checked what domain names were available a few days ago, both .com and were free. By the time I decided to register yesterday someone else had registered .com, no doubt having picked up on my search. But I've gone for rather than pay extra to have .com transferred over to me by some sharks.

Three notable things:

1. We are all still unwell, especially son 1. Lots of coughing and little eating in this house at present.

2. I'm going to attempt to go into town this afternoon and brave the sales.

3. I need to get on with my OU work, as I have dropped well behind. A concerted effort is now needed!

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Christmas wasn't cancelled here, but it might just as well have been.

On Sunday son 2 was really poorly with flu symptoms...teeth chattering, even took himself off to bed at lunchtime ( autistic kids never do that!)

We all continued to have the hacking coughs which seemed to follow the sickness bug, resulting in poor sleeping. On Christmas morning the boys were up early and somehow all presents had been opened by 8am. Later I got our nice little organic turkey into the oven and continued to prepare lunch. By the time it was nearly ready I felt pretty bad. I sat down to try to eat a small portion, but after only a few mouthfuls and a couple of sips of Chablis, I had to give up and lie down on the sofa. Where I fell asleep.

In the meantime son 1 pigged out then took himself off to bed, also feeling ill. Son 2 was a little brighter than he had been on Sunday, but still a bit moody. Hubby was the only one feeling even reasonably fit...and it was a good thing he was, in order to keep an eye on son 2.

I slept through most of the afternoon, just rousing myself occasionally to see what was going on. In the evening I got up for about an hour to tidy up ( Hubby had washed up and done most of it) and to make sure the boys both got their meds. I then fell asleep again, all night, while son 1 also slept right through to the next day.

We are recovering, slowly, but none of us have much appetite yet, so there are lots of goodies still to be eaten. I'm just glad we weren't entertaining this year, so we hadn't gone too overboard with food and drink which might otherwise have been wasted.

Three notable things:

1. A very quiet Christmas ( understatement of the year)

2. Some family issues regarding elderly relatives need to be sorted. Soon.

3. Son 2 has playscheme today and tomorrow. Hooray!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

After five days recovering from an awful virus (yes, we all eventually got the sickness etc), I've got lots of catching up to do. So here are some things to keep you amused and wish you all a very happy Christmas!

Three Christmas things:

1. A Christmas quiz. It's harder than it looks!

2. Christmas lights:

(video removed due to virus)

3. Your Christmas card from me.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas chez nous

It is a good job that we don't have high expectations of Christmas. It is not that we don't enjoy it, we do. But we are not religious and we decided some years ago to gradually try to drop out of the pre-Christmas consumerism.

We will have presents, of course. In the past I was always left to do the shopping so I have gradually changed things. Now most of it is done on the internet and I expect Hubby and son 1 to tell me what they want. I also buy most of the things they will give me. There is no point wasting money on things that are not wanted.

We do enjoy our traditional Christmas dinner, though to be honest the boys both like the sausage and bacon trimmings better than the turkey. I do the food shopping and cooking, while hubby does much of the clearing up. Son 1 is threatening to help me cook this year which would actually be good as he is a great chef. We are not entertaining, so I won't have any of the stress involved in trying to produce something worthy of a glossy magazine.

This year the house is not Christmassy at all. We put the fibre-optic tree up, but son 2 got upset and has made us take it down again. Shame as he used to love the changing colours. He also takes down any cards we try to display, so they are piling up on a shelf. To be honest none of us are feeling well, so I think we can live with that.

We'll just celebrate Christmas in our own unique and autism-friendly way, as we have done for the last couple of years.

Three notable things:

1. Hubby's birthday today and he has taken three days off work. I had thought perhaps we could both take son 1 out for lunch, but we couldn't because...

2. ...son 2 had a 24 hour sickness bug yesterday and is also at home. He got up at 4.30am yesterday ( as did I , of course) and vomited a few times until eventually it started coming out the other end instead. He was miserable and didn't eat until late in the day yesterday, but has been happy and seemingly healthy today, so hopefully back to school tomorrow until Friday.

3. A lovely surprise in the post today cheered me up no end. I opened a package containing a Mslexia writer's diary which must have come from a giveaway I entered ages ago on chick lit book blog Trashionista and had almost forgotten about. Thanks, Trashionista, I love it!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I have Messages

I've mentioned the 'Your Messages' blog project frequently over the last month and a half, because it was not only fun and inspiring, but got my writing mojo back.

Launched by authors Sarah Salway and Lynne Rees, it was a month-long collaborative writing project based on responses to pieces from their soon to be relaunched book 'Messages'. I already had a copy which I had enjoyed dipping into, but now I have seen how inspiring it can be to my own writing, it will have even more use in future. I can really recommend it, both as a good read and writing prompts.


Today was the formal announcement of the pieces selected for the forthcoming You Messages anthology and......TWO of my flash pieces are to be included. I'm going to be published for the first time!

Some fellow Novel Racers also have work included, as do many other published and unpublished writers from all over the world.

OMG. It is so exciting.

The anthology will be published by Bluechrome and there is to be a launch party at The Poetry Cafe on 31st January. Just after my birthday, what better present could one ask for?

Best of all, however, is the news that all profits from the book are to support the wonderful charity Kids Company, which does so much to help severely disadvantaged children.

Thank you, Lynne and Sarah.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A funny old day...

I thought I had a phone tutorial at 9.30am. But it didn't happen and I can't find where (if at all) I wrote the date down. It's certainly not on my Google Calendar. So it could be tomorrow, or Friday or next week even! Still it made me get the book out again and read it...

I'm still feeling rough so decided to have another quiet day at home and I cancelled my appointment with the dental hygienist. I'm afraid the novel writing has also slipped for a couple of days, but I'll get back to it as soon as I feel better. I promise I will (for any Novel Racers who may be reading...)

My afternoon was much cheered by the arrival of all the course material for my next Open University course, E301, which starts at the end of January. It actually looks as if it will be very interesting, but as it is a level three course in a subject area almost entirely new to me, it may also be a challenge. Still I've always liked challenges!

Three notable things:

1. As I put son 2 on the school bus this morning ( after he had delayed it for ages by messing me around indoors) I noticed a very dirty mark smeared all over his chin. I think it was dried on toothpaste. All I could do was ask the escort to pass on a message to school to clean him up when he gets there. Bad Mum!

2. Son 1 is now going down with the dreaded cough lurgy.

3. I wonder how many of us will be ill for Christmas? It wouldn't be the first time, we've previously had Christmas Day interrupted by flu and chicken pox, though thankfully not at the same time!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Another blog award

This one has been gifted to me by Lane, whose blog I love. Thanks so much Lane.

Now I have to pass it on to five others. A tricky decision as always, because there are so many interesting and beautifully written blogs, but I'd like to give it to:

Crystal Jigsaw
Graeme K Talboys

To claim your award (in a choice of colours!) and to find out what it is all about, visit the website of The Shameless Lions Writing Circle.

Three notable things:

1. I'm still feeling ill, so have tried to take it easy today, though I have a telephone tutorial at 9.30am tomorrow and I haven't opened the text book yet. Argh...

2. Being given an award brightened my day!

3. I've received some wonderful and supportive comments following my posting about son 1. Hugs to all of you.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The impact of bullying

The subject of bullying seems to come up everywhere at the moment. Or maybe it is just that I notice it more because of son 1's experiences and the profoundly life-destroying effects they have had.

Yesterday, watching The X Factor, I was moved to see how Sarah of Same Difference has been affected by her bullying. When they showed the film clip before their second song, for a fleeting moment I thought that it was just a cynical vote-catching strategy. But her tears at the end couldn't have been more real.

I decided right then to write about the long-term effects of bullying on here today, but the lovely and successful writer Caroline Smailes has beaten me to it, and writes far more eloquently than I do. So can I just recommend that you read her post here, instead.

Three notable things:

1. Son 2 playing on his music therapist's sympathy for his cough yesterday, then twisting her around his little finger. Hilarious!

2. I've caught the cough virus. That is not so hilarious.

3. Getting a few more ideas for Christmas presents in town yesterday, but retiring to Starbucks for coffee rather than joining the queues. I will go back in the week when it is hopefully a little quieter.

Friday, December 07, 2007


Son 2 got me up at 5.30am. It wasn't entirely his fault - the wind was banging the wheelie bin lids outside and his cough was making him wheezy. I've actually had to give him his asthma inhaler for the first time in about three years. I got it out, only to find it had expired at the end of last month. Tough. I'm sure a few days over won't hurt!

Anyway, I have quite naturally been feeling tired and grumpy. Also introspective...a passing comment made me start thinking about how restricted our lives are and how it is so difficult to explain this to people you don't know well. I'm sure people often must think we are boring or unfriendly, just because we can't take part in social activities which others take for granted.

On the other hand, if you start to explain you are likely to embarrass the other person or, worse still, evoke pity. That for me is the most dreaded, it really upsets me. So I keep quiet and keep my true personality hidden, except with people I know very well and I have become good at disguising how upsetting the social exclusion can be.

Three notable things:

1. A few more Christmas presents have been ordered.

2. The big weekly Tesco shop has been done.

3. I'm still going to try to do my 300 words on the novel tonight. I had no inspiration at all this afternoon. Too tired!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

One to watch out for...

This book may be of particular interest to any of you who are taking or considering a university course in creative writing, especially with The Open University. It will also appeal to those who are interested in emerging writing talent.

First Class: Early Works of the Nearly Famous - Orchid Station, an anthology containing work by a group of students from the first presentation of the Open University's A215 Creative Writing course, has just been published.

This isn't a review, because I haven't seen the book yet, but the lovely editor, Graeme K. Talboys, informs us that copies are winging their way to Amazon right now. What I can tell you is that I have previously read work by most, if not all, of the contributors and can vouch for their collective talent. There are also many more great writers where these came from and support for this book may pave the way for future such ventures, giving even more new writers a voice.

The anthology contains work by Carole Crickmore, Susan Felix, Julie Anne Gilligan, Dragana Hartley, Leanne Iliffe, Anne Kennedy, Viki Lane, Lynne McAllister, Elaine Nadjm, Kim O’Brien, Jude Parsons, Alison Roughsedge, Andrea J Smith, Graeme K Talboys, and Olga Wojtas.

You may already be familiar with some of these names if you have picked up my previous links to two websites showcasing work from A215 students, namely Both Sides of the Story and WikidWords (which also contains two of my own poems).

Best of all, half the proceeds of this anthology are going to charity, with the rest covering production costs.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Three notable things:

1. Son 2 has a nasty cough. Urgh.

2. It has been very interesting reading contributors' responses to questions on how the Your Messages collaborative project has influenced their writing processes. I'm afraid my reply, which was written quickly, is rather bland, but I cannot underestimate the boost that participating has given my creativity and writing.

3. The missing canoeist and the Panama link...stranger than fiction?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My lucky day

Last week I ordered a leather jacket from a well known shopping channel ( spending my Christmas money in advance!). I wanted it in black but that colour was sold out in my size, so I ordered a green one instead. Today it arrived...right size, bag marked green and actual jacket is black! Obviously a stock control problem somewhere, but hey, I got the colour I wanted. Even better, Hubby actually said it looked good so there is no way it is going back!

I was out this morning but meant to write this afternoon. Somehow though I got embroiled in watching a dispute unfold on a forum I frequent, so I still have my 300 words for the day to write...

Three notable things:

1. Fay Weldon on the Spice Girls.

2. Meeting friends at the support group coffee morning.

3. Wasting the afternoon away online...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas is coming...

I thought I had it all under control a few weeks ago, but I think I must have got complacent. I haven't even bought any cards yet...

So, mad ordering on Amazon has been taking place over the last few days as well as the first of no doubt many trips to town for small bits and pieces. Luckily we don't have huge families to buy for and as the kids get older we have gradually been making Christmas more low key, but still...

Three notable things:

1. The Spice Girls reunion. Why???

2. I've posted off payment for my next OU course and ordered the set texts, to prove I mean business.

3. Son 2 has just posted a teaspoon into the toaster. I've managed to get it out, with difficulty, and have locked the toaster away before he burns the house down...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Farewell 'Your Messages'

November has finished and the Your Messages blog project is sadly over.

It has been both challenging and inspirational, so I managed to post my 300 word piece for every single day of the month. To be honest it was not too hard to write exactly 300 words each day, given that we had a prompt to start from and writing to length is actually one of my strengths. My approach to the task was simple. I read Lynne and Sarah's prompt piece, wrote my own response and only after I had posted it did I read what others had written.

Looking back on what I have written I can see that some are better than others, but that is only to be expected. What is important is that I am not ashamed of any of them, no matter how quickly and roughly they had to be written and I think that my true writing 'voice' shines through. It was actually all a lot easier than I had expected, though I did find myself running out of steam a little in the last week when I was trying to write my OU assignments as well.

I had a reason for doing this project every day. I wanted to prove to myself that I am capable of writing at least 300 words everyday, no matter what else is going on. That is something I can now take back to my novel and as a start I have written over 300 more words of it this morning. 300 words or more a day is 9000-10,000 a month, my first draft could be complete in 7-8 months if I can stick at it.

Now there's a thought...

Three notable things:

1. Finishing Your Messages yesterday. I will really miss it.

2. Hubby's motor insurance certificate is lost somewhere in the post which means he hasn't been able to get his new tax disc and will have to borrow my car next week.

3. X Factor is on again tonight. My money is still on Rhydian, if they can give him good enough songs. His versions of 'You Raise Me Up' and 'Somewhere' have been technically superb. Though I'm not sure if I would actually buy a whole album of his music, as I don't really listen to much classical crossover.