Monthly Archives: August 2015

It’s Been So Long That My Hearing Has Fully Recovered…….

It’s been seventy two days since my last fix. I’m growing twitchy!

Having checked the calendar, there’s still seventy seven days to go until my next scheduled fix. Tragic!

If my maths are correct that is one hundred and forty nine days without a fix!

Far too long! Far FAR too long!!!

I’ll have completely forgotten my way to the 5.25 train to Glasgow by the time 12 November comes around.

Some of you are possibly scratching your heads and muttering “What’s she wittering about now?”

Those of you who follow this blog and those of you who happen to know me or even on occasion accompany me will have guessed.

I’m suffering from a severe drought of gigs! It’s quietly killing me. My hearing’s been almost perfect for weeks now!

The last was Tremonti at my favourite O2 ABC on 15 June.

My next scheduled gig is Crobot at The Cathouse, Glasgow on 12 November.

Daily I’m keeping my eye on the various social media sites for updates on long hoped for tour news.

I’ve scanned my O2 Academy app looking for potential shows.

I’m scouring the music magazines for tour news on a weekly basis.

(Yes, I know, there are countless bands out there touring and playing fantastic shows but a night out at a gig isn’t a cheap night out and I am perhaps being a little picky on economic grounds.)

My diary where I store concert tickets for up-coming shows is very, very empty. There are only my Crobot tickets for November and my Carnival of Madness tickets for Glasgow for February 2016 (still waiting for the Manchester ones to arrive)

Sighs sadly…….

So until things pick up on the live show front, it’s time to plug in the iPod (ok, ok, it’s always on), attempt not to download too much music (Can you actually have too many tunes?), explore new bands/albums and reflect on the memories of shows gone by.

Here’s a few of the special moments that are keeping me going.

music blog 1 music blog 2 music blog 3 musci blog 4 music blog 5

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Yes- Rehoboth Is A Real Place

One question I’ve been asked on numerous occasions since unleashing my Book Baby on the world is – Is Rehoboth a real place?

Yes it is and it’s one of my favourite places on earth.

( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rehoboth_Beach,_Delaware )

I first visited the small city in the exceedingly hot summer of 1980, during my second family holiday to visit family in the USA. I was only ten years old but the town captured my heart. Little did I know then but it would be twenty four years before I’d be back.

The first time I’d visited the States, I’d been four years old and we’d spent a few days near Ocean City, NJ. Among other memories that stood out for me from that first trip were memories of walking in the cold sand under the boardwalk and of walking on the boardwalk itself. Aged ten, I was keen to see the ocean and the boardwalk again.

During that first trip to Rehoboth, we stayed in a rented house for a week, splitting our beach time between Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach. My recollections of the beach near the town of Dewey Beach are that it was beautiful but it reeked of dead smelly horseshoe crabs. There were piles of them at the back of the beach. The smell was awful! My memories of Rehoboth smell much sweeter!

The town beach at Rehoboth was fabulous to the ten year old me. I loved playing in the ocean swell, “jumping waves” with my aunt, and later in the day, visiting the shops up on the boardwalk. A couple of times we came back into town after dinner and walked the boardwalk as the sun set.

Memories of salt water taffy and fudge and of T-shirt shops selling souvenirs and hermit crabs filled my beach dreams for over twenty years.

Roll on until 2004 when I returned to America to visit my relatives but this time I arrived as an adult (well, as close as I’m going to get) and the mother of two small children. I made a special request to visit Rehoboth while we were there.

My memories from 1980 were of clear blue skies and blistering sun. When I returned to town in July 2004, the skies were over cast. By the time my cousin had parked his beaten up old van (there’s a whole story about that van that I’ll save for another day) and sourced the obligatory quarters for the parking meter (yes- they still have parking meters in the centre of town), the heavens had opened and we were all soaked to the skin by the time we sprinted into Hooters for lunch.

It didn’t matter to me in the slightest. Even under the black rain clouds, Rehoboth still looked exactly as it had in my mind for all those years. Whew!

The rain had eased up by the time we’d finished lunch so we strolled down the main avenue and along the boardwalk. Bliss! All the shops looked and felt the same, right down to the hermit crabs in their brightly coloured shells.

Since then it’s become a family pilgrimage, when we are lucky enough to be in the States, to spend a day at the beach then come into town for dinner and a stroll along the boardwalk.

Even the drive down from Philadelphia, down the Coastal Highway, to reach Rehoboth Beach and nearby Cape Henlopen has been a ritual. Dover Downs race track is the first major sign, signalling that you are past the half way point in the journey. Each of us has our own personal landmark that we watch out for as we head towards the ocean. There are numerous, now familiar, landmarks apart from Dover Downs. There’s a particular house with its own hangar and, I believe, its own airstrip, there’s a surf-style shop miles outside town selling all sorts of beach inflatables, there’s the first road sign that says “Beaches”, there’s the sign that says Slaughter Beach (that one always makes me smile. I need to visit there someday) then there’s the Rehoboth Beach water tower.

I can see each and every one of these in my mind’s eye as I type this even though it’s been three years since my last visit. Too long!

A day at the shore usually means hitting the sand south of the town where my cousin can drive his truck down onto the sand (after letting a lot of the air out of the tyres), finding a good spot to sunbathe, fish and play in the ocean swell. A good spot to watch for dolphins. After a day in the sun, we pile into the truck and, after re-inflating the tyres, drive up to the bath house a couple of miles up the road for a shower. The bath house is all part of the experience! Sand- filled luke-warm showers. Black biting flies and mosquitos by the dozen and screaming, whining, tired, sun-burnt kids. It’s a great facility but definitely not one of the highlights of the day! However, it gets all the sand, well most of it, washed out the bits that sand should never be in and freshens you up so you look semi-respectable when you arrive in town.

Every time there’s the same scramble for quarters…you’d think we’d learn! Somehow, between us all, we always find enough. At Boy Child’s request, it’s pizza for dinner with a bowl of cheese fries on the side – sinfully delicious! As for the pizza – well it’s worth travelling 3000 miles for!

I try to steal a few moments down on the beach, imprinting the place in my mind until next time round.

We walk the boardwalk, play tourist in and out of the shops, visit the arcade then head back to the truck as the sun disappears and the quarters run out.

Happy days and precious memories.

My high school English teacher once said to me that one way to make my stories more believable and realistic was to write about places and things that were close to my heart.

When it came to choosing a location for my Silver Lake series, there only ever was one choice – Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

 beach blog

Book Baby aka Stronger Within – book one in the Silver Lake series can be found at-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stronger-Within-Volume-Silver-Series/dp/151176709X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1436461771&sr=8-1

My Own Personal Creative Mess

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I stumbled across the above statement on Facebook a few days ago and it raised a smile as I visualised my “creative corner” of the house in the family kitchen.

I’ll hold my hands up, as the photo below shows, my desk aka the kitchen table currently looks like a bomb has gone off on it! (I will tidy it up after I finish this post…promise!)

The layout of the family home and garden doesn’t afford me the luxury of my own study or a summerhouse out in the garden to allow me to work in cluttered tranquillity. I have contemplated clearing out the cupboard under the stairs and hiding out Harry Potter-style but it would be too claustrophobic.

So, for now, my “desk” is the kitchen table. I’m fairly flexible about where I will park myself to write though. At the first glint of sun, I’ll head outside. Much of Book Baby was written while sitting on the front doorstep in the summer sun. Numerous blog posts and music reviews have been penned out there too.

My serialised story The Imp has largely been written during wet and windy lunch hour’s at work. (It currently lurks in my work bag waiting on a suitably wet spell of weather around midday)

I frequently de-camp to the conservatory too but it gets SO cold out there once the sun goes off it and in winter it’s like a freezer!

Most evenings find me settled at the kitchen table.

True, it’s right in the heart of the house and my train of thought is regularly de-railed by various family members passing through (Pause here- gets up and assists Girl Child peeling an apple- I rest my case!) but it’s become “my space”. Well, in my head at least. Everything is to hand, including the fridge and the kettle. Sometimes this is too handy!

So what makes up the “creative mess” scattered across the table? Apart from the obvious –laptop, phone, iPod docking station and TV (Not sure when it was last switched on), there’s my camera, my stationary supplies, a growing pile of notebooks and a pile of junk mail. (Really must sort through it…..)

The pile of notebooks are my work in progress. Book Baby 2 in its raw state is there while I devote time to typing up the first draft (yes, I’m old-fashioned and write everything longhand first). Book Baby 3 lies half-written in the middle of the pile. The omnipresent “Photoshop Elements 13 for Dummies” is lurking there as a constant reminder that I’ve failed so far to master masking and layering images…..GRRRR (Anyone want to offer to explain the black magic mysteries of this software to me?)

And there’s my To Do list which is slowly being ticked off as the week passes.

So, yes, it is a creative mess but tidy idleness just doesn’t compute!

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So, what motivates you? A simple thought provoking question.

motivation

One question that keeps cropping up just now centres around something we all have and something we are all capable of doing.

In a work sense, I was asked recently to name three things that motivated me.

In a personal (mad mad world) sense, I’ve been complimented on my motivation with regards to this blog and my book baby.

It’s got me thinking…..or should I say, it’s motivated me to think a bit more about this. (Seldom a good thing!)

My first port of call, as it is frequently for any topic up for discussion, my rather battered Collins English Dictionary. It says-

Motivate –     to give incentive to

Motivation –  the act or instance of motivating

Incentive of inducement

Desire to do; interest or drive

The process that arouses, sustains and regulated human and animal

behaviour.

Interesting…..

I’ve been mulling this over for a while, trying to establish what actually motivates me.

When I was asked the question in a work context, I was like a rabbit in the headlights. With only a few seconds to come up with my answer, I mumbled a rather bog standard money, recognition for a job well done and the satisfaction of seeing the job completed to a high standard.

If I’m honest, on reflection, two out of the three definitely motivate me at work. One less so. I’ll leave you to work it out.

At the time, most of my colleagues answered along similar lines – money, success, achievement, the thought of retirement on a reasonable pension.

In my own mad, mad world out of work, what motivates me? This has required more thought. A lot more thought!

Seeking inspiration, I consulted the Big Green Gummi Bear to determine his motivators in life. As expected I got a rather succinct three word answer. (For fear of incurring his wrath I won’t share them here.)

I consulted Boy Child, who looked at me blankly at first before saying he’d been motivated to get a summer job to get save enough money to buy a PRS guitar (and pay your way through university for a while, I hope) So I guess from his answer, I can deduce that money motivates him because it allows him to buy nice things. Most folk would struggle to argue with that.

I consulted a friend, who I consider to be one of the most motivated people in my circle of friends, and got a pleasant surprise in the midst of their answer. Family. A highly commendable motivator.

Over time I’ve discovered different things can trigger motivation in me. There’s no one single thing that motivates me. It’s a complex combination of things.

Books can motivate people to change their behaviour. After reading two books by Dean Karnazes, author and ultramarathon man, I was motivated sufficiently to get up off my butt and partake of some regular exercise. (To those reading this who know me – please stop laughing!) If you’d told me a year or so ago that I’d be sufficiently motivated to get out of bed an hour early to go for a run before work, I’d have sworn you were insane.

News articles/social media campaigns can motivate people. Remember last summer’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? – were you motivated enough to take part? Or is that inspired? Hmm…. The perfect example harks back to my blog of a few weeks ago. A BBC news item in 1984 motivated Sir Bob Geldof to get up off his couch and come up with Band Aid and subsequently Live Aid. The rest, as they say, is history.

With regards to my creative writing, what motivates me to keep going is the moral support of others, especially my Infamous Five. My motivation to keep going after the launch of Stronger Within went through a serious dip a few weeks ago. A chance comment from someone ,who had read my book baby, was enough to re-fill my motivation tanks for a good long while. They quite frankly told me that, while they’d enjoyed my book, it wasn’t really their thing (fair enough) but that it had inspired them to keep reading other books. Job done! Hearing that I’d inspired someone to read books was certainly motivational for me!

When I’m writing out my weekly To Do list, currently there is a weekly word target to be met. Seeing this number steadily increase week on week helps to motivate me to keep going. (Exceeding the week’s magic number and the resulting buzz I get from it has proved to me that I am more competitive than I thought I was.) Typing for hour after hour several nights a week, especially after a long day in the salt mine, can be quite draining so my simple numbers game is the ideal motivator here.

Another motivator is a sense of accomplishment. With the undying support of a close circle of wonderful people, I’ve made a lifelong dream come true and am on the way to repeating it. I don’t have the words to describe how that feels but, every time I reflect on it, I smile to myself and feel warm and fuzzy inside.

So on reflection, what are my personal motivators? Accomplishment, satisfaction and the determination to keep going.

What are yours?