Tag Archives: #amblogging

January……

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January – the first month of the year when you are supposed to feel motivated and energised to take on the challenges of the year to come.  Eh……maybe not!

January – cold dark month lasting at least 96 soul draining days…… I jest (slightly)

Did I feel motivated and ready to take on 2018 31 days ago? I thought so…..

In the spirit of honesty, I’ll confess to having struggled with my own  creative motivation   this month. The stresses and strains of every day life may have been a contributory factor or I may just be making excuses…who knows! We are now at the end of January and I’ve not met the goals I had in my head at the turn of the year and I’m mad at myself.

As part of the “day job” in the “salt mine” I’ve been delivering coaching sessions to my team to encourage them to think about what motivates them in a work sense and to think about what areas they wish to develop themselves in. I’ve now delivered the same session, tweaked to the individual, fourteen times.  It struck me earlier that I needed to deliver it one more time. I needed to deliver it to myself!

I’ll not bore you with the ins and outs of it all but the focus of the coaching was a motivational triangle. The three sides represent Clear, Capable and Motivated. Is it Clear what’s expected of you? Are you Capable of meeting these expectations/goals? Are you Motivated to succeed?

I paused for some self-reflection as I went for my lunchtime meander in the cold. A bit of soul-searching.

And the result……

Clear – YES I am clear of the expectation /goal I have set myself. I need to finish the first draft of book baby 4.

Capable – YES I am capable of achieving this. I need to remain focussed and not “waste” the time deviating off at a tangent and writing other pieces.

Motivated – YES I will finish this! I have invested too much time in the project to abandon it at the last gasp. It is so close to being finished in reality.

So, without further ado…. I have a book to finish! ….. Goodbye January. Hello February!

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The End Is In Sight…..of my tether that is!

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It’s Monday and this isn’t a good sign….. I’ve reached the end of my tether!

Anyone who knows me will appreciate that I generally quite a patient person. Some of you might even say too patient but occasionally even I reach the end of my rope.

So where does the phrase come from and what does it really mean?

A little research ( not got the patience for extensive research this evening) revealed it’s a phrase used mainly in the USA and UK. It means to have reached the end of your patience, to be completely worn out, exasperated or exhausted.

So. What’s a tether in this context? Cue more Googling – a rope used to restrict the freedom of grazing animals by tying one end around their neck and the other to a stake in the ground.

tethered pony

 

Hmmmm…….

 

Pass me the scissors or a knife….this tether is being cut!

Normally to soothe me frayed nerves I would head out for a walk along the beach but its kind of cold and dark out there right now.

Virtual beach walk required before I settle down to continue the tale that’s shaping up to be Book Baby 4.

 http://livebeaches.com/rehoboth-beach-de/webcams/rehoboth-beach-boardwalk/

 I can almost feel the sand between my toes…..

 

(images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)

Today You Have Memories With…..

Sometimes I forget how long it is since I ventured into the weird world of social media but Facebook very kindly reminds me on a daily basis with its “You have memories with…. to look back on today”

I don’t always check these out. I’ll be honest, it sometimes depends on who it says I have memories to share with.

One caught my eye about a week or so ago. It was a memory from 2010 from a school friend. 

“Don’t know why I remember this so clearly but you wrote a book in school with a character called Maggie or Megan, didn’t you? Did you keep up the writing thing?” 

A short conversation followed this post: 

Friend – I think I just remember being really impressed at the time.

Me – I tried writing short stories for a few years but never got anything published. Tried again a few years later with children’s stuff but no luck. Still scribble for my own amusement. Really touched that you remember. Thanks x

Friend – Hey – look at JK Rowling! Should give it another go. Was it Megan or Maggie?

Me- Megan x 

I was, and still am, very touched that she remembered my early literary efforts.

And to be honest, she wasn’t the first school friend to quiz me years after the fact out of the blue.

A few years earlier, I met another old school friend when our daughters both went to the same dance class. She too remembered my teenage “story” and I recall flushing scarlet as she told the other mothers present that she got her sex education from my story! EEKKK!!!!

(Yes, even at fifteen and sixteen I wrote romantic fiction…..) 

The Facebook memory got me thinking….reflecting… 

I was fourteen when I started that “story”. My reporter notebook and pen went everywhere with me for about three years, maybe four.

The story itself was a family saga spanning three generations of women – Terri, Bethan and Megan. I would love to have shared a little bit of it here but ,despite an extensive search earlier today, I can’t find the box in the loft that has the sixteen reporter notebooks in it. I still have it….somewhere! 

There are a lot of parallels between then and now as to why I write. 

Basically, it’s an escape from my own reality for a while. 

Back then it was an escape from the school bullies and was a way to cope with secondary school. I would sit in a corner at lunchtimes and write. After school, I would walk into town to meet my mum from work. Many an hour was spent sitting writing in her office as I waited on her finishing for the day. I also wrote at night, alone, listening to my music. (I’m still listening to some of the same music to this day!)

Now, it’s a means to relax after a long day and, yes, it’s still an escape from my reality. Yes, it’s still a coping mechanism. If I haven’t written for a few days, I can tell! Those who are close to me can also tell. Occasionally, I will spend a wet lunch hour writing at my desk instead of venturing out for a walk. Mainly, I write at night, alone, listening to my music.

Once I find those reporter notebooks (I wonder where they are hiding?) will anything ever come of the “story”? Highly unlikely but never say never. The first incarnation of Jake Power is actually written in “Megan’s” part of the story. ( I told you he’d been in my head for a very long time….almost thirty years in fact! EEEKK!)

Has my approach to how I write changed since the mid-1980’s? Eh……………..no.

I still write everything long hand in crazy colours of ink. I still need a new notebook and a new pen every time I start a new “long story” or “book baby”.

Now I buy A4 notebooks and tend to buy four or five the same to ensure that each book baby has its own identity. (Book Baby 4 is blue)

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I’ll confess…. I’ve already bought the notebooks for Book Baby 5, which will be a Silver Lake tale, too. They’re purple.

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If I rounded them up, I’ve probably got enough pens to start a shop! I love pens! Love multi-coloured ink. Even at work in the salt mine I use a Bic pen that has four colour options. No, not blue, black, red and green. Mine has pink, blue, purple and green ink….trademark pen! Lol

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Back then, I wrote primarily with a green Berol pen ( I’ve just realised that I’ve picked up a green pen to write the first draft of this blog…some things never change.)

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As a teenager, I let very few people read what I wrote. I guess I was terrified that folk would laugh at my story. That instilled a deep rooted fear in me of sharing my words with people. It’s one I still struggle with. Its taken a long time for me to feel even remotely comfortable with sharing my work. A crippling fear for a storyteller.

When I had that Facebook conversation with my old school friend back in October 2010, reflecting back on whether it was Maggie or Megan, little did I know the path I would venture down three short years later.

So, here I am, sitting here reflecting (and procrastinating a tad) on my stories.

If there are any of you reading this who are debating whether to write that book you’ve always dreamed of writing, I have one simple piece of advice. Go for it!

A friend posted a motivational quote on his Facebook wall a few years ago that has always stuck with me, become my mantra almost.

dreams

Now pick up that pen ( it doesn’t matter what colour the ink is) and tell your story to the world.

 

 

Sometimes You Just Need To Stop And Look At The Colours Around You…..

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I’ve been reflecting and thinking….. (Oh, no! Here she goes! I hear you cry!)

Life is busy. Life is chaotic. It’s demanding on us  mentally and physically. We are  overloaded on a daily basis with information thanks to the technology that we have at our fingertips. It’s terrifying the amount of information  that we carry around in our pockets without a second thought about it. At the touch of the screen, we can connect with friends all over the world and see snapshots of their lives. Web cams allow us to “peek”  live time into cities and beaches and  who knows where else the world over. We even have devices in our own homes that we talk to…”Alexa, play songs by….”  Sometimes she even does as she’s asked. (My Alexa is developing an attitude)

So, how often do you actually press “pause” and look at the world around you, the real world?

This thought first struck me a few weeks back as I strolled through a largely deserted Dublin on a Sunday morning. It’s struck me a few times since.

Autumn (Fall, if you prefer) is a myriad of colours. Have you even noticed? Did it even cross your mind to look?

I did….. and here’s some of the colours I found.

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So, next time you go for a walk, keep your phone in your pocket and look at the world around you instead of the screen. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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Batteries recharging….

battery

Normal blog expectations will resume shortly……

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

Chucks On Tour….

It’s no great secret…I love Converse. (“You don’t say! ” I hear some friends cry…lol)

In fact, there’s possibly a slight addiction going on here… I’ll confess to having more than a dozen pairs at present with more on my Christmas list but there’s one pair that hold a special place in my heart.

These ones…

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I’ve had them for over five years now. I bought them at a Converse outletstore in the States for the princely sum of $20. They’re well worn and well loved.

Anyone who’s been to a rock show with me may well recognise them.

These beauties are my “gig shoes”

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In the past five years they’ve only missed two shows that I can think of and that was due to horrendous weather (They were substituted by an alternative pair of leather Converse – honest!)

These shoes have seen many, many rock fans feet! They’ve been trampled…many times! They’ve been soaked through in rain, beer, water and other fluids that have been flung about at rock shows (I’ll leave that to your imagination but it was truly disgusting! – and yes- they’ve been cleaned since then!)

These shoes have “heard” many, many great bands including Alter Bridge, Slash ft Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Black Stone Cherry, Shinedown, Halestorm, Iron Maiden, Ghost, Tremonti, Crobot, Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Volbeat, Gojira, Massive, Airbourne, Black Label Society, The  Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon, Blackberry Smoke, Rival Sons, Theory Of A Deadman and many more…. They were also privileged to “hear” the late Chris Cornell on his acoustic Higher Truth tour.

If these shoes could sing!

It’s been a while since they’ve ventured out from the under bed drawer where they live. Their last outing was in May when they “saw” Iron Maiden. However, the time has come to finally bring them back out into the light, dust them off and lace them up.

Alter Bridge, here we come!

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A Little Sneaky Peek Into The After Life

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I read recently that if you’re struggling with a storyline as a writer then you should try interviewing your characters. An intriguing thought……

My current cast of characters are putting up a bit of a fight and progress on my first draft of Book Baby 4 has been a bit stop/start. I’ve found myself wandering off at a tangent and writing some short fiction pieces instead of focussing on my first draft. I’ve also made numerous notes of ideas for the next Silver Lake tale (currently pencilled in for 2019) Perhaps part of the issue is that Jake and Lori and the others won’t wait their turn!

Anyway, time to try to regain control over my current delinquent characters…… 

As agreed via email, I’d arrived at Glasgow’s O2 Academy at three o’clock to interview up and coming band, After Life. The five piece band who are based in London are currently on tour supporting Aussie rockers, Bodimead.

Instead of being shown into one of the art deco venue’s dressing rooms, Rocky, After Life’s father-figure manager, escorted me up to the venue’s balcony and suggested I take a seat while I waited for the two members of the band to arrive. Firmly and a little bluntly, Rocky said I’d have thirty minutes with them and not a minute more.

Down below on the stage, Bodimead’s crew were finishing setting up for the show and I wondered if I was going to be lucky enough to catch some of their sound check and a glimpse of their front man, Flynn.

A couple of minutes later, I was joined by Taylor Rowe and Luke Court, the lead guitarist and bass player from After Life. Both of them flopped down into seats in the row in front of where I was sitting and greeted me with a warm hello.

Before I could ask my first question, Taylor began waxing lyrical about the art deco beauty of the venue. I quickly established that this was their first trip to Glasgow and asked how they’d found the city so far.

“We arrived quite late last night so all we really saw in the dark was the hotel, the restaurant and a couple of bars,” confessed Taylor. “I went for a walk this morning. There’s some stunning architecture around here.”

“And a lot of hills,” muttered Luke. “Our hotel is at the top of a vertical street!”

This is After Life’s first tour with their new female vocalist, Ellen Lloyd, so I asked the guys how the band had changed since she’d joined them.

“We listened to hundreds of auditions a few months back. Well some of us did,” began Taylor with a wink to Luke. “Ellen’s was the one that really stood out as being different.  She has an incredible voice. Really impressed us at the first rehearsal. She’s brought a whole new dimension to our show. A theatrical element that we hadn’t explored before.”

“And a shit load of talent,” added Luke. “I’ll be honest, I didn’t hit it off with her at first but her voice really blew me away. She’s got so much talent. Wait till you hear her tonight. She can convey so much emotion with only a few notes.”

I commented that I’d hoped she would’ve been able to join us but Taylor apologised for her absence, explaining that she was resting her voice ahead of the show. Conscious of time, I asked both musicians about what  I could expect from their set later on.

“A visit to the After Life,” joked Luke with an infectious laugh. “No, seriously, we hope you enjoy the show. We’re playing mainly our own material with a couple of covers thrown into the mix. Usually we have time for eight, maybe nine, numbers before our Aussie hosts call time. It’s an eclectic mix.”

Taylor added that several of the songs had been written or co-written by Ellen and were due to be recorded next month for their debut album.

“We’re booked into a studio in London for five weeks. Just hope it’s enough time to get it all recorded. We’ve still a few songs to write too,” admitted Luke. “Exciting times in the After Life.”

Casually ,I probed if this was Luke’s first studio experience, enquiring if he’d not recorded anything before with his uncle. Luke is the nephew of reclusive guitarist, Garrett Court, of Royal Court fame.

“Despite the family history, I’ve never recorded in a proper studio before,” revealed the band’s bass player. “My uncle lives in New York these days. The last few times I’ve visited, he’s had me working in his music store. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of guitars. Total guitar geek heaven. Garrett likes to play this game with his customers where he tries to match them to an instrument rather than let them choose what they want.”

“Be fair,” interrupted Taylor. “From what you’ve said, he’s pretty sharp at it.”

“Yeah, he is,” agreed Luke.

I asked if Garrett had seen his nephew play with After Life.

“A few times. Not recently. Not since Ellen joined us. We were hoping he’d make it over for the London show but he had other commitments.”

“So, what commitments are in After Life’s immediate future?” I asked curiously.

“Well, we’ve seven shows left with Bodimead, including tonight’s. Then we’re playing a full set at Wales Open Air on 5th May. Rocky’s given us a week or so off then it’s into the studio on 13th May. Beyond that, we’re not sure. We hope to get the record out around the end of October or November time so we’ll get some shows booked for around then,” explained Taylor. “It’s all starting to pick up pace. Rocky’s already hinting at going over to Europe or even the States at the start of next year.”

“I’d love to tour America,” declared Luke with a grin. “Play some of those venues that you only read about in magazines. Would love to play some of the clubs on Sunset Strip or a show in Vegas.”

I joked that he’s the band’s true “rock star” in the making.

“Maybe,” he confessed suddenly seeming almost shy. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s the dream coming true.

To finish, I asked Taylor what his dreams for the future look like. He thought for a moment or two before answering my question. “I hope the record does well and that we can start to make some money from this game. I’d love to be able to buy my own house. My own bolt hole. I’d love to see the band grow and sell millions of records and play sell out headlining shows but, on the other hand, I’m not sure how I’ll feel if we end up playing arenas if I don’t have my own space to call home.”

“You’re just a beach bum at heart,” teased Luke.

“Yeah and I’m not denying it,” laughed Taylor. “I grew up on the beach surfing, playing guitar, beach bonfires and stuff. I miss that after a while in the city.”

Out of the corner of my eye I could see After Life’s manager approaching. I asked the guys if Rocky was as strict as he appeared to be. They exchanged glances and laughed.

“He tries to be,” said Taylor. “I live with him and his wife Lizzie when we’re in London. Ellen too. He keeps us all in line, especially Luke, our party animal here, but it’s really our drummer, Jack, who’s the strict one. He takes no nonsense. Rocky can usually be talked round, especially if its Ellen doing the asking. On the other hand, if Jack says no then it’s a no and not even Ellen can sweet talk him. Well not yet anyway. She’s working on it.”

 A few hours later, I was standing downstairs in the venue, beside the bar, watching After Life out on stage. This is a band worth watching. There’s a raw energy to their performance. A passion for the music and a rare synergy among them. Their mysterious front woman, Ellen, plays a witch/priestess persona on stage, using her flowing black cloak to dramatic effect during the songs. Her voice is one of the best and most versatile female rock voices I’ve heard over recent years but I can’t help but feel there’s an air of fragility to her too. There’s more to this songbird than meets the eye, I feel.

With a puff of smoke and some clever lighting, she vanishes from the stage. Vanishes to the After Life.

image sourced via Google – credits to the owner