Monthly Archives: December 2015

Happy 2nd Birthday To Me…

2nd birthday blog collage

Happy 2nd Birthday to me….well to my blog page to be more precise.

Where did those two years go?

I’ve just re-visited that first, nervous blog post and been reflecting on the past two years and the blogging/creative/life journey I’ve been on.

Some of you have been there every step of the way and for that I can’t thank you enough.

Some of you have joined along the road and I am humbled that you have taken the time to offer your support. Thank you.

When I started this blog, my primary aim was to overcome one of my biggest fears as a writer – the fear of people reading what I write. I said back then that I felt as though I was standing naked in front of a crowded room.

What have I accomplished over the past two years?

Well, I’m still the mother of two teenagers (Boy Child and Girl Child), still the adopted human slave to my cats, still married to the Big Green Gummi Bear and still working full-time in the “salt mine”.

I’ve kept my promise to post one blog post per week. Admittedly some weeks have been tougher than others.

This year I’ve also started a second blog, The 525 To Glasgow, where I share my musical musings.

On this page, I’ve been working on two serialised stories- The Imp and Still As A Statue. Both of these have been “parked” for now but I promise I will continue them both when the time is right.

My biggest creative achievement though has to be Book Baby. In the initial blog on here I said I was working on what I hoped would become my first novel, adding “but whether it will ever see the light of day beyond my conservatory remains to be seen.”

The dream became a reality on 15 April 2015 when Stronger Within aka Book Baby was published via Kindle.

On 11 June, the second part of the dream came true when I held it in my hands as a “real” paperback book for the very first time.

I still don’t fully believe that it’s sunk in that I am a bona fide published author. It still feels like a wonderful dream that I don’t want to wake up from.

The reviews that Book Baby has received have been incredible. I still can’t comprehend that people have read my book while on holiday, on flights or as bed time reading. It’s all quite surreal!

So, have I succeeded in overcoming my fears over the past two years?

Partly, if I’m totally honest. Every time I hit “publish” on a blog post my stomach still lurches. I no longer feel as if I’m standing naked in a room full of strangers. Instead, it feels more like standing there in a very tight overly-short dress while wearing high heels. Perhaps one day, maybe another two years down the line, I’ll feel as though I’m standing in front of you all, relaxed, in t-shirt, jeans and mu beloved Converse. Time will tell!

 

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An Unfortunate Case Of The Lemony Snicket’s

 

Ever develop a habit and not even realise you’ve done it?

It would appear I’ve done just that!

It only struck me the other day while I was at work in the salt mine and I have to confess it made me smile to myself. (Not a bad thing, as a few seconds previously, I’d been hopping mad but couldn’t react as I was at work and “pretending” to be a fully functioning adult!)

For a few days now I’ve consciously tried to break this new habit.

I’ve failed miserably.

So what is this habit that I’ve developed? Don’t panic, it’s nothing dodgy!

I’m slowly turning into Violet Baudelaire, the fifteen-year old heroine from Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events. Violet kept a long ribbon (purple in the books but black satin in the movie) around her neck. Whenever she needed to think or concentrate on something  important or a new invention, she would tie her long hair back in the ribbon.

I seem to have developed the habit of keeping a hair elastic around left wrist, invariably a black or a purple one.

Anyone who knows me, knows only too well that I have a fear of the hairdressers and have had long hair for over thirty years. (The last “short” cut was a Purdey (Joanna Lumley in The Avengers) circa August 1979 – mentally scarred for life after that one! Thanks, mum!)

I also don’t like wearing it “up”.

To be totally honest, I don’t do much with it at all. I wash it, condition it, towel it dry, brush out the knots and leave it to it. I admit for the past six months I’ve had to do something with the front section as I grow out my fringe (bangs). It’s taking forever!

Back to the Violet Baudelaire reference though – I’ve caught myself now on numerous occasions reaching for the hair elastic as I approach a task. Sometimes it is for practical reasons, for example, if I am about to cook dinner or go for a walk outside on a windy day, but increasingly it’s become routine if I need to focus on the task in hand.

(So far I’ve resisted the temptation to reach for the black band currently twitching on my wrist as I write this.)

Violet was an inventor in the Lemony Snicket’s tales and, while I’ve never invented anything, I do find myself catching my hair back as I sit down of an evening to work on Book Baby. I guess that’s a kind of inventing.

I have to confess, I don’t tie it back as neatly as Violet does in the movie. I tend to grab my fine hair in between my hands, wrap the band round it twice then on the third time, hook my hair through into a very messy folded up ponytail. Perhaps not the most professional “look” while at work.

It is rapidly approaching that time of year when we start to think of the changes we want to make or resolutions to do certain things. Perhaps my New Year’s resolution should be to stop wearing the hair bands on my wrist.

Hmm…let me think about that.  (Reaches for the black elastic and ties hair back!)

Violet collage

Friendship – finding time for it

friends

I’m sitting on the train on the way to Glasgow as I write this. No, I’m not off to another concert (that’s Friday night!) I’m off to meet a friend for lunch and maybe a little retail therapy and caffeine.

Spookily enough, Facebook reminded me this morning that it is exactly one year to the very day that we met up for last year’s pre-Christmas catch up. Apt considering that’s how we met.

It got me thinking about friendship. How we make new friends. How we keep in touch with old ones.

This fellow crazy rock chick and I met online through the mutual admiration of a certain rock star. We became “friends” online, “chatted” online and discovered many similar interests (she’s got to take some of the credit for being the inspiration that led to this blog page being born), likes and dislikes and finally, a few months down the line, we arranged to meet up face to face. The rest, as they say, is history.

Around the same time, I also became “friends” online with another crazy rock chick from Europe. Again online friendship blossomed and, very long story cut short, we both now co-admin a fan page on Facebook for said rock star and “chat” every day. A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting her and her husband  face-to-face when they honeymooned in Scotland. Again, we hit it off immediately.

Social media has made the world a smaller place and has extended my circle of friends around the globe.

I guess it’s one of the many “modern” ways of meeting people and forging new friendships.

I’m fortunate enough to still have three close childhood friends. Three friends I’ve known for forty some years- EEK that sounds scary!!

A couple of them I see regularly face-to-face, as we live near to each other. The third I see less frequently as she lives a couple of hundred miles away. Every time we catch up, whether it’s been 24 hours or 24 weeks, we pick up where we left off. However, social media has its part to play here too.

If we want to arrange to meet up for coffee or to pass on some news, we message each other.  And we’re not alone here. Some 10 billion Facebook messages are sent every day! Gone are the days of spending hours on the phone. Life has moved on. The pace has quickened and social media is at times way too handy. I’ll be honest there are times  when I really miss those long phone calls. Times when I’d like to hear my friends’ voices and not just read their swiftly typed message.

Naturally we gather friends as we travel through life. Friends made through the munchkins and their activities or school. Friends made by meeting the wives and girlfriends of the Big Green Gummi Bear’s friends. Friends made through working in the salt mine. That one for me is a tricky one, as I don’t generally as a rule allow myself to become close friends with the people I work alongside. It can complicate the working relationship and shift the work-life balance. I keep my “work self” and my “real self” quite separate deliberately. That said, over the years, I’ve met a few very special people through work that have become friends I couldn’t live without. And again, we are also friends on social media.

A definite theme is emerging here!

I’m sure some of what I’ve just said is resonating with you.

What would happen to all of these friendships now if social media was banned or simply ceased to exist?

In this modern world, where so many social interactions are online, how would friendships survive?

Would we return to spending hours on the phone to one another? Would we make more of an effort to meet face-to-face for a coffee or lunch? Would we return to writing letters to overseas penfriends?

It’s a thought, isn’t it?

Reflecting on the various friendships that are precious to me, I’m fairly confident that most of them would survive but I’m not about to put that to the test!

Now this train’s almost reached its destination. I’m off to meet my online friends face-to-face!

 

Book Baby 2 – literary ultrasound scan

With just over two weeks to go before Christmas and having just survived Boy Child’s 18th birthday, my brain is rapidly heading for meltdown. I’ve got lists and post its everywhere as I attempt to stay on track.

So, no excuses, no blog post for this week.

I can’t play the “cute kitty” card as I used that “get out of blog free” card earlier in the year.

I do, however, have a little “gift” to share.

Book Baby 2 is slowly coming together and, like any other “baby”, it’s occupying the majority of my free time. Like any “expectant mother”, I’m starting to get excited for its Spring arrival. Like any “baby”, it’s continuing to grow and the editing process is rounding it out nicely.

I guess you could say this is the equivalent of sharing an ultrasound scan picture with you all…… here’s a sneak peek inside.

Enjoy!

Excerpt from Impossible Depths – Book 2 in the Silver Lake Series

 Coffee and cakes from an Italian bakery were the order of the day out at JJL. A routine had been established from the start of the week – Kola brought the pastries down from Philadelphia; Grey brought the coffees. Life in the studio was remarkably calm and laid back. When Jake had driven in on Wednesday, he had played the new song to his fellow band members and Dr Marrs. It needed work. It needed a bass line and a drum track, but there was unanimous agreement that is should replace track twelve on the board. Paul had pulled two late night sessions to record most of the drum tracks. When he heard the new song he nodded approvingly, declared he needed a few hours sleep before working on the drum track then headed out into the lounge.

While the drummer slept on the leather couch in the lounge, Grey began work on the bass line. The three of them worked and tweaked the song for several hours before Kola stopped them for a break. She had taken a run out to the nearest deli, returning with a variety of sandwiches and juice. Both Jake and Rich noted that the sound engineer was subtly a little more attentive to Grey and that he in turn kept his eyes on her as she sat quietly in the corner with her sandwich and a rock magazine. Watching them surreptitiously watching each other gave Jake a flash of inspiration for the lyrics that were needed for track fifteen. Excusing himself, he took his sandwich and iced tea outside along with his acoustic guitar and his lyrics journal. He settled himself in the shade round the back of the building, leaning against the back wall of the studio.

“Jake!”

The voice derailed his train of thought.

“Jake!”

“Round the back,” he called back.

A few seconds later Grey came striding round. Standing towering over his friend, the bass player declared, “Your presence is requested inside. Now.”

“On my way,” he replied, getting to his feet. “Has Paul surfaced yet?”

The bass player nodded. “And he’s come up with something sweet.”

“That was quick,” commented Jake, impressed that his friend had supplied the drum track without any drama.

“Jason’s arrived,” stated Grey bluntly as they reached the front door of the studio.

 

The Englishman was standing in the middle of the studio chatting with Rich when they walked in. After exchanging pleasantries with the band, he asked where Gary was.

“On his way,” replied Kola, before any of the members of Silver Lake could answer. “He’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“Why isn’t he here?” demanded Jason sharply.

“Coffee run,” explained Dr Marrs. “It was his turn.”

“Convenient,” muttered the Englishman under his breath. “I’ve not got long. I need to be back in Philly for six thirty. I’ll cut to the chase. We’ve firmed up the festival dates. There’s six of them for now and I’m waiting word on two more in Canada. I’ve emailed the details to Gary. The record company also wants you to play at an event in Philadelphia on 6th July. It’s a lunchtime slot. Three songs. Two old and one new. I need the single recorded by then if possible.”

Behind them, the door creaked open and Gary slipped in carrying a cardboard tray of coffees. It was his first trip to the studio that week, but the band said nothing.

“Sorry, there was a queue,” he apologised. “Jason, I got you a latte.”

“Thank you but you’re late Mr York,” he stated bluntly as he accepted the tall waxed- paper cup. “Now where was I?”

“July 6th,” prompted Jake calmly. “We’ll be ready by then. When’s the first festival gig? Is it the Bethlehem one?”

“Yes. July 27th. You’ve got an hour on stage around six o’clock,” replied Jason. “Anyway, how’s recording going?”

“We’re only into the second week,” began Dr Marrs. “But we’re on schedule. Drum tracks are nearly there. We’ve made a start on the bass tracking this morning. There was a bit of re-writing required and Jake’s substituted a new song in the track twelve slot.”

Jason nodded approvingly as he sipped his latte. “Is Mz Hyde around?”

“No,” said Jake. “She’s at home.”

“Pity. I’ve some music files for her next project with me.”

“I can pass them on to her.”

He tossed Jake a USB flash drive. “Tell her I’ll call tomorrow morning to discuss it.”

“Sure,” promised Jake as he slipped the flash drive into his jeans pocket. “Want to hear what we’ve been working on so far?”

Silver Lake performed three of their new tracks for Jason, who nodded in approval. While he sat talking animatedly with Gary in the corner of the live room, Jake played and sang the re-worked lyrics for track fifteen. Sitting out in the shade he had come up with a lyric around moving out of the shadows of grief into the daylight warmth of love. He sang it with a straight forward, no frills honest, warm tone to his voice.

“I like that,” approved Rich when his friend was finished. “Could that be our single?”

“Perhaps,” agreed Dr Marrs. “Run through it again.”

On the third run through, Jason interrupted them. “Radio stations will love it. That’s your single, gentlemen.”

“Looks like we’re all agreed,” observed the producer, glancing over at Kola. The sound engineer nodded.

“Glad that’s sorted. Progress. I like that,” Jason stated. “I’m out of here. Gary, call me on Friday with a detailed update. Guys, I’ll see you on 6th July.”

With a slam of the door, he was gone.

 

 

Impossible Depths – due to be published Spring 2016

 

If you’ve not already been introduced to Jake and Lori and all things Silver Lake, you can find them on Amazon.co.uk

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stronger-Within-1-Silver-Lake/dp/151176709X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440260609&sr=8-1&keywords=stronger+within

and on Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Stronger-Within-Silver-Lake-Book-ebook/dp/B00VXDSC1M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449691975&sr=8-1&keywords=stronger+within

 

A Little Personal Achievement – No-Vino-Vember

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Ever set yourself a personal challenge or goal, declared your intentions to the world then failed miserably?

I’m guessing that some of you may be nodding and, perhaps, cringing at the memory.

I decided mid-October to undertake a small personal challenge for the month of November.

Yes, I could’ve announced it to the world. I could’ve done it to raise money for a good cause but, I guess, fear of failure led me to keep it more or less to myself.

So, what did I do?

I gave up alcohol for thirty days.

I’ve had a No-Vino-Vember!

As October flew rapidly towards Halloween, I was already beginning to feel the first stabs of self-doubt creeping in.

Could I actually do it?

Now I realise I’m beginning to make myself sound like a raving alcoholic but I can assure you I’m not. The fact I succeeded in my challenge backs that up. I will freely admit I love a glass of wine. A nicely chilled Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. A nice full bodied red. Never rose!

The first week passed easily enough. I happily substituted the vino for apple juice or iced green tea.

The first weekend when the Big Green Gummi Bear was enjoying a bottle of my favourite Pinot Grigio, I’ll confess to pangs of jealousy. My resolve held fast though!

As the month wound on, I did find myself taking note of the date and doing the mental arithmetic!

There were a few stressful days during the month when the resolve waivered but I resisted.

Apple juice and iced green tea were joined by diet lemonade.

Social outings were always going to be a challenge however I nominated myself as the driver for the evenings. Problem solved. (Scotland has a virtually zero tolerance when it comes to drink driving.)

So, do I feel the better of a month of complete sobriety?

I feel a sense of achievement at having had the will power to do it.

I’ve been sleeping better  but in general  my sleep pattern is a bit hit or miss anyway.

My skin is possibly in slightly better condition.

I haven’t lost an ounce in weight despite all the media information that suggests alcohol is fattening.

My usually dodgy digestive system is still as dodgy as ever so no change there either!

Was it worth it? Yes!

Would I do it again? Yes…but perhaps not for a couple of months.

Am I now in a rush for that first glass of Pinot Grigio? Nor particularly.

So perhaps wine isn’t the vice I thought it was a month or so ago.

At the risk of sounding just a little bit smug, it was quite painless.

Just don’t ask me to try a caffeine free month! The results of that wouldn’t be pretty!

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