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In a Stew – Upping my Culinary Expertise

Domesticity and I have never gone dishpan hand in glove.  I blame it on my late mother’s ridiculous idea of sending me to a boarding Domestic Science College when I was sixteen.  I was expelled before my first half term, which tells you all you need to know.

Re-finding my Funny

I started 2020 with newfound confidence and a steely determination to succeed in my writing goals. I’m over halfway through my second novel, a murder-mystery spoof, and was skipping and dancing my way down a road fuelled by purple patches with a finishing date of the end of April.  Then, somewhere around the unfolding COVID-19 crisis in Italy, my bubble burst, and I lost my mojo.  Since then, I’ve been struggling to find my funny.

The Road to Becoming a Domestic Goddess

My pièce de résistance is probably a toss-up between tuna pasta and stew. We have only been lying low for a couple of weeks, but I have already received a few pointed comments wrapped in sarcasm and drizzled with a little innuendo.

I have more cookery books than I have ever cooked anything sensational, so I’ve no excuse, and I am making an effort.

The Boomer Generation

After a week of soaking up the sun, I woke up to what sounded like gravel being hurled against my window this morning.  Only it wasn’t gravel, it was rain/hail.  It was only 5.45 a.m., which was annoying as I didn’t have to go anywhere.  Still, I had five hours of sleep, instead of four. 

Mental Preparation

I woke up sneezing this morning and wondered if the bastard-bug had got to me.  However, after two cups of coffee and two pieces of toast later, I am glad to report that the sneezing fit was probably something to do with a stray speck of dust.  Being vigilant is a good thing, but I need to get a grip on automatically assuming that one sneeze means I need to self-isolate.

Under the Cloud of Covid-19

Looking at life from the funny side has never been more difficult, as my compromised immune system and I prepare to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world to face the biggest battle of our lives, Covid-19.

Away with the Fairies

I could log these brain farts I’ve been having as senior moments, but my oldest friends will tell you I’ve always been away with the fairies.  So there is little hope for me now.

Perhaps, constantly sweating over creating new plotlines, means I am beginning to lose my own?

I think a break will do me good.

JUST SAY IT – EXTRACT: Mother-Daughter Spat

‘How would I know Mother?  I haven’t seen him for eleven years. But you can’t be serious?  Why on earth would you want to look good for anybody interested in me? Is it some sort of sexual fantasy you have? I don’t have to dress up like a bloody tart to attract a man. I want somebody to love me for who I am and not what you look like! I’ve read The Female Eunuch, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  I also know what I want to do with my life, and I don’t have to dress up like a bloody Barbie doll to achieve it.  For God’s sake, Mother, why do you always have to talk such bloody rubbish?  I don’t have time to go clothes shopping and please, close the door on your way out.’

My Love of Bovine Beasties

It’s just dawned on me that cows feature in both Just Say It and An Honest Review.  I was brought up on a dairy farm, so maybe that’s the reason? Coincidently, my main character in Just Say It grows up on a dairy farm with a herd of Dairy Shorthorn cattle, Continue Reading

JUST SAY IT – THE OUTTAKES – Turning Forty

Cupping her hands underneath her breasts, she pushed them up slightly then let them go. Gravity deemed the only way for them to flop was south. She remembered having been inspired by those liberated ladies of the Swinging Sixties who, allegedly, threw all caution to the wind and made a bonfire of their bras. Letting her perky little darlings live free two decades ago might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but that invigorating liberation was having a knock-on effect now.

Life Beyond the Bastard Bug

During my supine week, the fug in my head made it difficult to process most things, let alone finish the edit.  I did still retain the brainpower to operate the TV remote, but everything I watched made me cry.

Meet the Dysfunctional Family

Just Say It is my first novel, which I ‘finished’ in June 2019 and, I’ve been editing it ever since! It is the first and last time I write a novel pantser-style; I will never throw myself into writing a book again without much-advanced planning.

I still have faith in Lisa Grant and her dysfunctional family, and in 2020 I hope to convince an agent that her story is a viable one.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with few members of the cast.

JUST SAY IT – EXTRACT: Fisticuffs at Fanny’s

It is the 8th of October 1980, and it’s Lisa Grant’s twenty-first birthday.  She has recently been reunited with her father, Fergus, who lays on a party for her at her favourite restaurant in Soho, Fanny’s Bistro.   The tables are hastily rearranged to accommodate two uninvited guests, Lisa’s mother, Continue Reading

CHARACTER INSIGHT – DCI Humphrey Middleton

The Endeavour Morse infatuated DCI Humphrey Middleton arrives in the sleepy market town of Didsbrook to investigate the unexplained death of its highest-profile resident, Jocelyn Robertshaw. In this sequence, he looks over the crime scene, and the corpse, and we find out that, when Humphrey first meets a cadaver, he likes to engage in a little one-sided banter.

Trouble, Bubble, Boiling Brexit

My parents always celebrated Bonfire Night with much enthusiasm, and I’ve been terrified of fireworks all my life. So I can’t think they repeatedly kept the tradition going for my benefit, but I seem to remember enjoying the Parkin though.

I think we might have celebrated Halloween a boarding school but there are no memories of carving pumpkins ingrained in my mind.  The dormitories were housed in a building first erected in the 16th Century.  As with most creepy old houses, well-crafted stories of ghouls and ghosties roaming around the corridors at night probably put us off celebrating Halloween, as it might have felt a bit too close to home.

THE DOYENNE OF DIDSBROOK – EXTRACT: Homecoming

The day I returned home is one I will never forget. The images appear inside my head when I least expect them to. On the train, going to work, or sitting at my desk, they take me by surprise, clear, concise, bold flashbacks. They also haunt my dreams. It is Continue Reading

Taking It Slow

Lisa Grant is leaving the UK for good to live in The Algarve to work at father’s vineyard. Her car breaks down at Portsmouth where she bumps into old flame Rory who, fortunately for Lisa, is also headed for Portugal. Rory gallantly offers to drive Lisa there and they decide to take their time travelling through Spain and Portugal to do a bit of sightseeing.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

DCI Humphrey Middleton has been brought in to investigate an unexplained death in the sleepy market town of Didsbrook. An in this sequence, he and Didsbrook’s own Sargeant Mackorkingdale, interview their first suspect.

GRAMMARLY – A Sort of Review

I am grateful to Word Press for introducing me to Grammarly.

I have been resisting the temptation to buy it and download it onto my Mac, having successfully convinced myself that I would buy it as some sort of reward after I

a) Got shortlisted for a competition or

b) Found myself an agent

The Morning After the Stockpile

I’ve been stockpiling again, but not in anticipation of a no-deal Brexit, which may, or may not, happen in 10 days’ time.  At 7.30p.m last night, a lorry load of our annual supply of perfectly dry logs was offloaded outside our garage.

We have been benefitting from this arrangement for about five years and have always taken a cavalier approach to the storing and stacking of the logs, which we always do as soon as the load arrives and involves a considerable amount of physical exertion.

Provenance

Heads turned as Elizabeth walked on to the platform.  She was a beautiful young woman, a technicolor ray of light illuminating a black and white world still struggling to escape the grip of post-war austerity.

EXTRACT FROM THE DOYENNE OF DIDSBROOK: Teenage Aspirations

‘Lucy, dear, welcome to the fold, welcome to DADs!  The part of Dorothy is indisputably yours!’

‘She’s a writer too, Joc.  She’s won some prestigious competitions.’  I remember being mortified.  How could my Mother tell a multi-published author that I’d won a few school writing competitions and make it sound like I’d won the Booker Prize?

‘If she writes anything like as well as she sings and acts, she’ll be a member of the Didsbrook’s Writer Group before she can say, Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. Thank you, Lucy.  We’ll see you at rehearsals on Monday eve.  Right… time to crack on, who’s up for the part of the cowardly lion?’

Bizarre Dream Recall

BIZARRE DREAM RECALL – WHAT TRIGGERS OUR DREAMS?

More recently I dream my worldly goods are on the back of a hand-drawn cart.  I keep putting my dog and three cats on the back of the cart.  They keep jumping off and I repeatedly put them back, but eventually, they run away and I can’t find them.  My wallet is something else I regularly lose in my dreams and I end up roaming the streets with nothing more than the clothes I am wearing.  Brexit angst?

Life Beyond the Menopause

And when you reach that woman of a certain age status, you’re body is hijacked by menopausal madness. Suddenly you’re itchy, bitchy, sweaty, sleepy, bloated and psycho as your oestrogen levels plummet.

HANGING ON TO YOUR SELF BELIEF

By the time dawn came around, my self-belief had taken a nose dive and I was considering giving up writing and doing something less stressful, like bungee jumping. But, writing is a leap into the unknown.  You need to constantly keep challenging yourself, bumbling along in the inside lane is not going to get you anywhere.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

 Eleanor Roosevelt.

Test your mettle on a daily basis, you will never know whether how good you are until you take that leap of faith.

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