Tag Archives: #amblogging

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)

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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….

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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

 

 

Living In A World Of Books….

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Books have always been omnipresent in my life. For as long as I can remember books have played their part in the highs and lows and rhythm of my everyday life.

Probably my earliest book related memories are of my mum patiently reading and re-reading and re-reading Henny Penny, Bunny Blue and The Animals’ Train Ride (the latter two I still have and read and re-read and re-read to my own children). My first memories of the local library, apart from the rubbery smell of the stairwell that led up to the children’s section, are of borrowing Joan Drake’s Mr Grimpwinkle books and of my mum reading them to me at bedtime.

Bedtime story time was the highlight of many a night, long after I was old enough to read the books to myself. It was mother/daughter time. Even if I was reading a book of my own, we always had a book set aside for bedtime story….sigh…we never did finish Anne of Green Gables circa October 1979. (We moved house and bedtime story time fizzled out)

Reading and writing began to co-exist in my world as soon as I was old enough to construct a sentence. Countless notebooks pens and pencils were purchased for me to scribble in.

I was always keen to read books aimed at the age group just above my own.  I’m probably showing my age here but I remember a colour coding on I believe it was Armada published books, where you graduated from a red to a green boat on the corner of the cover to indicate the intended age range. I was desperate to read the green ones! Countless times my mum would say “That’s a bit too old for you” as we stood either in Rae’s, the local bookshop or John Menzies debating which book I would be allowed to buy. Not to be thwarted by this age discrimination, I bought myself my first proper pocket  dictionary when I was eight years old. It had a red tartan cover and I bought it in the village shop in Tarbert, Harris when we went to visit family.

If there were “big” words in the book, I would look them up and learn to read them, understand them and spell them!

Books have also been my friends during the lows in life. When bullying in primary school was at its worst, I would read alone in a quiet corner at intervals and lunchtimes. Occasionally this triggered further bullying as my peers made smart remarks about my choice of reading material. One particular incident has lived with me down the years. It was sparked by me standing reading My Friend Flicka (yes, I went through the obligatory pony phase too). Crude remarks were made about an “alternative” version of the title. The spacing of the lettering on the front cover was a bit tight and said eleven year old obviously thought it was cool to twist it into a “sweary” word and taunt me incessantly. I took it on the chin during the morning interval but when it continued later the same day (I seem to recall it was during the short afternoon interval. I remember it was raining.) I snapped. One of the few occasions in my life when I have resorted to physical violence. As the girl continued to get in my face, I slapped hers. My Friend Flicka has been a tainted tale ever since.

my friend flicka

In high school, as the bullying continued, I lost myself in stories and worlds I wrote about. Curled up in a quiet corner, I filled reporter notebook after reported notebook for over three years. I still have them all. There’s a lot of them! Arguably they amount to the first “book” I ever wrote  – a family saga following three generations of women. Bittersweet memories of my teenage years.

Book buying has changed dramatically over the years. Rae’s bookshop is long gone. It’s successor, Book Point, is also long gone. The second-hand bookshop, Westwords, a real Aladdin’s cave, is also a fading memory. John Menzies, my other local source of literature and writing supplies evolved and shrank into WH Smith before finally disappearing from the local town centre a couple of years ago.  Amazon became my primary source for book shopping.

Then The Big Green Gummi Bear bought me my first Kindle and the world changed again.

There was a new choice in front of me – e-book or paperback book- EEK!!! To be honest, its swayed me towards e-books but I always have a “real” book on the go too (usually a biography or autobiography type thing.) You can’t beat turning pages over – sorry!

Choosing a book to read has become a nightmare – so many to choose from! My previous book selection method has been destroyed! I always chose books by their front cover first and then read the back cover to find out what the book was about. Amazon shopping makes this more of a challenge. Do I go for the photo of the cover?  Do I go for synopsis? Do I go for reviews? Do I go for the number of twinkly stars? Decisions…decisions…decisions….

Then I wrote and published my book babies and the world of books took a whole new turn!

From being the tiny little girl begging for her mum to read Henny Penny, Bunny Blue and The Animals Train Ride, I’ve become the girl with her name on the cover. EEKKKK!!!!

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Today, I received Amazon reviews of my first two book babies that really made me feel quite emotional. Both of them are five stars (thank you!) and both are quite lengthy and straight from the heart (thank you!).

Seeing my three book babies twinkling away on Amazon’s website and seeing the three “real” copies of them on my bookshelf is a million miles from the moment I sat down on my doorstep with my new notepad and pen from WH Smith and began to write a story. It’s taken a long while but I think it’s finally sunk in that I am an author.

Books are and always have been and always will be at the heart of my world.

dream come true

 

photos of the Silver Lake series  and the messy bookshelf are the author’s own

(other images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)