Friday, 17 December 2010


I've just come back from five days in Marrakech. Hmm, not quite what I expected, to be honest. We stayed in the Kasbah (sounds exotic but wasn't) and the streets were crowded and narrow, full of shops selling everything from soap powder to live chickens. There were motor cycles everywhere and it was difficult to walk through the streets without running the risk of being mown down.

The accommodation was very nice. We stayed in a Riad, which is the name for the many courtyard hotels you find in the old parts of the city. It was strange when we first arrived. The streets were too narrow for the taxi to negotiate so we had to get out and pull our cases the rest of the way until we arrived at a smart door that was the entrance to the Riad. Honestly, you wouldn't know it was there unless you spotted the tiny gold plaque on the wall.

Our room was comfortable and nicely furnished. We had a large bathroom and a balcony to sit on. The Riad became our retreat from the noise, dirt, crowds and general mayhem of the city. We ate in one night and the cook made a couple of tagines for us to try.

Our saving grace was a trip to the coastal resort of Essaoira, a three hour drive away but well worth it. We had a pleasant wander through the streets and stopped for a seafood lunch.

The shopping in Marrakech is good. I particularly love the coloured lanterns you can buy nearly everywhere and the silver jewellery. If it wasn't for the paltry luggage allowance of EasyJet, I would have bought much more.

However, the experience has given me a few writing ideas to develop now I'm back home.

Thursday, 2 December 2010


Well, actually,only let it snow at Christmas time. We went out this morning to the local shops, trudging through great drifts of snow as we went. There were a lot of jolly people about, mainly children off school for the day and pulling sledges. The shops were busy with people 'panic buying' as usual. We just got a normal shop with food to last us over the weekend. We were supposed to be going to Essex today but have obviously decided not to travel. If it's not essential, you have to follow advice and stay at home. Nobody in our road went to work this morning and the milkman got stuck for four hours!

What better way to spend the afternoons when you can't go out but get on with THE NOVEL. It now stands at over 30,000 words of mainly serious re-editing but I'm just getting the basics down on paper (or on screen). This might form part of my last assignment for the WB too.

I am now stiif from another afternoon typing away and it's ten past five and time to call it a day, press SAVE and put the laptop to bed. We're having curry tonight - we make ours from scratch - no takeways in this house! We buy all our spices from an Indian supermarket in Southsea because you can't get them anywhere else. The house will smell like an Indian restaurant for days. Delicious.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

A Mid Week Break

We've been on a mid-week break to a favourite restaurant of ours with rooms. It's called, "36 on the Quay" at Emsworth. A wine tasting evening was held on the first night and the restaurant was completely full. We drank New Zealand's Cloudy Bay wine with a gourmet dinner - each course was paired with a different wine. I'm a huge fan of New Zealand white wines, particularly their sauvignon blancs.

We stayed two nights in Emsworth and took the train to Brighton for the day and had a wander around the Lanes. We also went to Arundel and had a pub lunch and a stroll through the town browsing in all the different shops. I found a very good second-hand bookshop that I could easily have spent hours in and have made a note to return to Arundel to do just that. I have a list of books I'm looking for from travel books to classical novels.

We got home on Friday morning in time for me to go to Writing Buddies in the afternoon.

Yesterday and today has been spent on THE NOVEL. I have now written 24,000 words approximately. I'm not editing it until I've got 50,000 words written and then I'm going to start, I don't know if this is the right thing to do or not but I think you can spend too much time rewriting at the start of the project and not getting on with the plot. Comments please!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Gathering more ideas

I spent yesterday going through my issues of Frelance Market News to check I hadn't missed any opportunities for writing possibilities. I made a list to check out on the internet and narrowed it down to only two! These are for short story and articles. I already have another list of ideas for fillers to follow up.

I then looked at the Prizemagic website for any suitable competitions to enter. I always look for the free to enter ones first. I found about six possibilities and will now have to come up with some ideas for submissions.

I was going through an external hard drive for my computer to see what was on it and found a novel I had started a good few years ago about a cruise ship. I read through what I had written and was amazed at myself for not having carried on with it and let it fester away, forgotten about. I have copied it back onto my computer and I am determined to carry on with the story. This can happen very easily, I suppose. You start something, work at it for a couple of weeks or more constantly and then put it away, disillusioned or you've simply run out of steam. I don't think there's anything wrong with doing that but you must remember not to put it away for 8 years or more! May be a few weeks or even months but you must return to it quickly.

I also found a file full of character descriptions for this story and plot ideas so I will most certainly be taking up with the project again.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A Night at the Theatre

We went to the Mayflower theatre in Southampton to see 'Calendar Girls'. It was quite good but I had trouble hearing some of the actresses speak. I don't know if it was the accoustics in the theatre but it did spoil things a little. When we had a drink in the bar during the interval I overheard a couple of ladies saying the same thing so it wasn't just me, thankfully.

We went to 'Buon Gusto' on the corner of Commercial Road after the show had finished and had a really nice meal although it was late. We hadn't been to this restaurant for a number of years so it was good to try it again.

I'm having a frustrating time with computers this week. We now have an I.Mac as our main computer but I do all my writing work on my laptop. To print things off I transfer to disk and then put the disk in the main computer and print from there. This isn't happening so easily now and when I insert a disk into the I.Mac I can't open the document, let alone print it. I will be heading for the Apple Store to try to find out why this is proving so difficult. I have tried connecting the printer to my laptop instead but I keep getting various error messages and being told the driver isn't compatible. I have now wasted nearly two afternoons trying to solve the problem but have given up because it's making me bad tempered and not in any position to produce good writing work.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Weekend Workload.

Assignment 7 is finished and ready to be printed and then sent off. I have spent the weekend going over the first 3000 words of THE NOVEL that is going towards this assignment. I was quite horrified to see many glaring continuity errors already but have gone through it all word for word until I am quite sure it is reading as well as it could. I can't wait to receive some feedback on my efforts.

We went out for dinner on Friday to a place in Wickham. Now I'm not going to name the establishment but we were very disappointed with the service received. This restaurant isn't cheap and we've been there a couple of times before and each time came away satisfied. I really resent going out for dinner to a good quality restaurant and then getting sloppy service. I'd rather go to the Harvester or a Beefeater. Well, we shan't hurry back and I did post my thoughts on 'Trip Advisor'.

Must sign off now as it's time to prepare our Sunday roast (a tradition in this household) and then I'm afraid it's a TV viewing night - Strictly, X-Factor and the marvellous 'Downton Abbey.'

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

13,923 words.

That's how many words I've written on THE NOVEL so far. I've been really industrious today and have spent all afternoon typing. I'm quite pleased at the way the story is evolving because I am writing what I know about rather than what I don't really know about and need to do a good bit of research on. I think this is the right way to go when you right your first novel. Just after 4 O'clock I decided to call it a day and do an entry for my blog.

I'm a member of 'Flair For Words' and the latest copy of 'Flair News' dropped on the mat at lunchtime. I can now get a coffee and read it from cover to cover. This little gem is full of interesting articles and lots of inspiration from Cass and Janey who are joint editors and run 'Flair For Words.'

This morning we went for a long walk. We didn't even need coats as it was so warm. We stopped for coffee and a lovely deli called 'Cork and Cheese' and bought a tub of huge olives and a wholegrain loaf, locally baked.

The walk enabled me not to feel selfish when I shut myself in the study all afternoon and banned my husband from any interruptions.

Monday, 1 November 2010

I don't think I'm cut out for this!

That is, I don't think I'm cut out to write short stories for magazines. I find the guidelines too restrictive for a start. Perhaps I should concentrate on short stories for competitions. I have written a short story for my latest WB assignment and am quite pleased with it although it took several almost complete rewrites and lots of editing. That means each story I tackle takes me a very long time to complete. I certainly can't dash them off every few days (if only it were that simple).

I'm going to see what happens with my latest effort and then decide if I'm going to do any more for a while. I really want to concetrate on THE NOVEL and I also have a number of ideas for magazine articles.

Last week I had another break from writing because I went to see my cousin in Southport who is recovering from a serious stroke. He is now at home so that's good. He has a wheelchair which he is determined not to use and also a stick and he is managing to walk quite well with it. He has been approached to be a sort of 'mentor' to other stroke victims in his health authority area and he is very keen to do this. This should be giving me some ideas for short stories and articles but so far I haven't come up with anything worth putting to paper.

The shops on Lord Street in Southport are looking very christmassy already and it was fun walking up and down this famous street window shopping and stopping for coffee. Now I'm back home and busy in the study in front of my laptop.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Nice to See You All Again

On Friday 22nd October, I went to the Writing Buddies meeting. Hadn't been for a while because of Spain and it was nice to catch up with everyone and hear what they are up to. Some new faces appeared and I hope they will continue to come along. The new website looks very good and there is a link to this blog! A real incentive now to keep it up to date.

The assignments for the Writers Bureau are coming along very well. I'm just editing number 6 out of 8 and have got number 7 in hand.

I'm off to Southport this week to see my cousin who is still in hospital after suffering a stroke. I hope he will make a full recovery but it's still too early to tell.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

My First Success

I submitted a 'blog' to Woman's Own magazine a few weeks ago and it was published a couple of weeks ago plus photo of me! I was browsing through the magazine section of our local shopin Spain, that sells a few UK publications and picked up Woman's Own just to see if I'd been lucky as I have been checking the mag each week and lo and behold there it was!! This has really spurred me on to submit more articles and has been a much needed confidence boost.

I hope to tell you about more successes in the future.

Back from Spain (again)

Arrived back in the UK on Monday evening having driven through France to St. Malo (my favourite place in France) and then the ferry home.

I haven't been writing very much, I'm afraid. I've done quite a bit of work towards THE NOVEL but not even thought about the next assignment with the Writers Bureau. There was so much happening at the house in Spain. Lots of work had been done and we had a major refit of the house to cope with and as we had added lots of new space I spent several days re-organising everything. We had people to stay and went to Granada for a couple of days (wonderful;) and then there were other friends to catch up with that live near us in Spain.

I find it very hard to stick to a routine in Spain that's conducive to writing. The ideal time is the afternoons because they are long and you can sit outside with a laptop so it sounds ideal doesn't it? However, it's easy to get distracted and I prefer to lock myself away when I'm trying to be creative and the house in Spain isn't big enough for that.

Now I'm back at home and ready to get the ball rolling again.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

The Results are Now In

The Writing Buddies meeting came round again and quite a few of us gathered at the Art House Cafe to learn the results of the anthology competition. We had a guest, Simon Walley, who announced the winners and runners up. A very well done to all those who went home with certificates and an envelope - I was hoping for a "highly commended" mention but alas, my short story fell short I suppose. I can't wait to read the winning entries in the book when it's published.

The Writing Buddies meeting is always informative and I go home with lots of ideas to follow up and there's always plenty of encouragement. Eileen told me that I need to get more feedback on my work and not rely on my Writer's Bureau tutor. That's not to say my tutor gives the wrong adivce. Indeed, I value what she tells me and certainly take note. It may not always be what I want to hear but feedback should always be positive and constructive. Funnily enough she didn't like the story I submitted to the antholgy comp and said it was "confusing." It was a ghost story and I didn't think it was confusing but I wonder what other's might think.

I'm off to Spain and hope to spend the afternoons writing THE NOVEL. As it's partly set in Spain I should be inspired enough to produce some reasonable work plus I need to write two short stories for the Writers Bureau. I shall spend this afternoon gathering up all my writing materials.

It'll be an early night as we're up uber early to drive to Dover to take the P&O to Calais.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

No Excuses

It's tuesday afternoon and since last thursday I haven't put pen to paper. Let me explain. Friday brought bad news that my cousin had suffered a serious stroke and was in hospital. The weekend saw me and my brother and his wife make a 260 mile round trip to Southport to visit him. I truly believe that in times like this you have to put certain things on hold and the family must come first. I am no stranger to driving up the M6. Southport is my birthplace and I am always happy to go back there. My cousin is paralysed down one side but has regained his speech very quickly with only a slight slurring. He expects to be in hospital for 3 months, may be more and I have promised to visit again. Sunday was spent recovering from the long drive and very late night.

Monday came and went and no writing. I don't know what was the matter with me but I could think of a thousand things to do and writing wasn't on the list. In fact, by the end of the day I asked myself did I really want to commit to it anymore? There's no excuse not to open your laptop for even half an hour and write gibberish if you have to. The point is, you are writing something. I have only submitted one article to Bukisa and am procrastinating on what to subm it next. I am dithering over assignment 6 for the WB and waiting for assignment 5 to come back. Not a good day for motivation.

Today is different. This morning I went to the hairdressers for a much needed restyle and colour. That was uplifting. This afternoon I have written for two hours non stop (THE NOVEL) and I am in the process of making a list of possible articles to submit to Bukisa.

I realise I have no excuses when it comes to writing. Yesterday I should have been back on track after a busy weekend doing other things. Today I am making up for lost time and really quite enjoying myself.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Beautiful Bath

Yesterday We went to Bath. I know I went there as a child but couldn't remember anything about it except I'm sure it was busy with tourists. Well yesterday was the same. Busy and lots of visitors. I had printed a map off of the main streets and decided that the Royal Crescent would be the sight I wanted to see most. It was just a short walk from the town centre through quieter streets. We made the Crescent the first stop on our tourist trail and arrived to find it deserted. It's a magnificent sweep of Georgian splendour and exactely like the photo in the guide book. We walked through small streets, lined with antique shops and posh hairdressers and quirky coffee shops back to the town centre and followed the signs for the Abbey and Pump room. We didn't venture into either and carried on to the picturesque Parade Grounds and watched people haul their blue and white striped deckchairs to a shady spot for a picnic lunch.

I like Bath because it looks so stately. The shops are different with 'one offs' as well as the usual high street chains. I wondered into Cath Kidson and couldn't resist buying a book of sticky labels. I'm not sure what I'll do with them all but I've got a mania for labelling things so I'm sure some of them at least will be used. We browsed charity shops, a Fairtrade shop and there was even a shop selling sausages and nothing else!

Lunch was at the excellent Loch Fyne (we have been to many now) and the £10 menu didn't disappoint - fresh sardines to start with followed by whole plaice in a herb butter.

Bath is just under two hours away. I think I'll be visiting more often from now.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A Country Walk with spectacular views

We decided as it was such a beautiful morning to go for a long walk down to the coast. We set off purposefully towards a popular track that leads down to the sea between Hill Head and Solent Breezes. I hadn't been down this track for years and thought it would be overgrown with nettles and brambles but it was clear and well marked. We passed farmers fields and blackberry bushes along the way until the solent came into view. It's a pity I didn't have my camera. The scenery was picture postcard perfect. A calm sea shimmering in the morning sun and dotted with the white sails of little boats sailing to the Isle of Wight or perhaps to the Hamble river. Wecould seee the little beach huts at Calshot and the only blot on the horizon was the ugly chimney of Fawley power station. We walked along the top of the clifts and passed several people walking their dogs, all with a cheery good morning. Eventually we came to Solent Breezes holiday camp and fancied stopping for coffee. Unfortunately the cafe was closed until midday so we walked around the site admiring the little chalets and their neat gardens and continued towards Warsah common and home.

I expect we covered at least 6 miles. We made coffee as soon as we got indoors and sat outside on the patio. Our neighbours was doing some gardening and we told them where we had been. We all agreed that we sometimes don't appreciate what's right on our doorstep and I'm glad we've redisovered one of the nicest walks in the area.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

I've started the big project

I started my novel a few weeks ago but scrapped it (or most of it, anyway). Today, after much character preparation I've started again. This will be a challenge to see if I can write something towards it most days, if not every day. By Christmas, I would like to be a good half way through it. I don't think that's too big a challenge.

Do you know something? I don't like bank holidays. You think twice about going anywhere in case the roads are too busy so you end up staying in or if you don go out, don't venture too far. What's more, the weather is always a disappointment. Today is no exception. This morning was dull and looked like rain at any minute. This afternoon has had some bright spells but as I type, the sun has gone in and it's gloomy again. This always happens on a bank holiday weekend.

So what better way to spend this afternoon but writing. I'm feeling quite creative and I'm going to close this blog (mainly because I haven't got anymore to say) and continue with the opening pages of the story.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Another good week.

Had a very nice weekend in my birthplace, Southport. Went shopping along Lord Street, dined at an excellent restaurant called "The Barking Frog" or was it "The Banking Frog"? (it was in an old bank building). Went to Formby and the red squirrel sanctuary but didn't see any. However, on the way home we did a small detour to Crosby to see Anthony Gormley's statues on the beach but the tide was in and most of them were submerged. However, we did see a red squirrel running across the road!

I've had a letter published in FMN. Just a small success, I know but it's all going in the right direction hopefully. I've finished Assignment 5 for the WB and am itching to send it off but I haven't had feedback from Assignment 4 yet. I've had an article published on Bukisa.

I've outlined in detail the plot for my novel after deleting about 8,000 words of drivel. This time I intend to get it right.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Time to press the submit button more

I've been finding lots of outlets for writing this week again. A student on the WB has suggested a few on line sites. One is called Bukisa and I have already submitted an article on re-organising your wardrobe. I wrote it out in long hand first and then typed it up. I have several more ideas for on line articles so watch this space. For my Bukisa articles go to Now watch the dollars roll in (ha ha).

I've also submitted some other stuff to magazines by e-mail. I type it out, check for spelling and grammar and then I should press 'send'. Problem is, I'm always worried I could have worded it better or maybe I've not been too clever with my grammar and that leads me to re-reading and re-rreading before sending it off. What a time waster this is. There comes a time when you simply have to let go of a piece of work and send it off knowing you've done the best you could.

I'm off to Southport for the weekend. I hope the weather is kind.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

A week of creativity

Socially it's been a very quiet week so I have been able to get on with my writing. I have read a great book, 'How to Write Short Stories for Magazines' by Sophie King that has inspired me. This gave me several ideas for short stories and I have just finished one today that I intend to send off when I have edited it to perfection.

I entered an on-line travel competition this week but didn't win. I spent a long time getting the piece right and thought I was in with a chance.

Got another writing website to think about - They don't pay like Suite 101 but it's worth a try. I have a couple of things in mind to contribute.

I am busy writing up Assignment 5 for the Writers Bureau.

Oh, another thing. I have lost a little bit of weight that has pleased me no end. It seems the eating and exercise plan are working this time.

I'll keep you all posted.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

A Good Week

It's been a good week full of inspiration for writing. Got my Freelance Market News magazine and it was choc-full of ideas for me to follow up. However, it did involve splashing out on a few weekly magazines for research purposes. I have a few things in the pipe line now. A travel competition, a blog submission, letters, another short story competition and of course, my book.

Went to Writing Buddies in Southampton. Found it very motivating but everyone else has done so much more than I have. That's not making me feel worthless, it's making me strive to achieve my goals.

We have booked a couple of days away in November at a favourite restaurant/B&B of ours. That will be something to look forward to when we come back from France and Spain.
I am busy this afternoon following up leads from Writing Buddies and have added several writing web sites to my favourites tool. I could spend the rest of the day reading them all but that will distract me from editing my piece for the travel competition and thinking of some story ideas for the FMN comp. I intend to enter. Oh, and before I sign off, I've got two short stories being edited and re-written and I intend to send those off to a woman's weekly mag but I'm not telling you which one!!