Wednesday, 30 March 2011


The post today wasn’t good.
My copy of Fiction Feast arrived and I don’t have a story in it which means no payment on its way, plus my solicitor has sent me a copy of the letter he wrote to Mum’s solicitor and I can’t see how it’s any different from the one I sent to them.  It was dated March 25th.
 I’ll just have to wait and see what their reply is.

Plum tree and bathroom bits

Today is the last week of Heydays term (at West Yorkshire playhouse) and everyone will be putting on their various performances. I’ve decided not to go.  I’ve missed too many rehearsals to want to sing in the choir, and I don’t feel up to chatting to everyone. Instead I’m going to buy a tree. I’ve been wanting a Victoria plum for ages so I’m going to treat myself.
I’m also going to Argos to pick up some of the things I need for my bathroom refurbishment. I’ve been ashamed of the bathroom since I moved in. The tiles are awful, with grout falling away and the shower (the kind that feeds of the tap) is worse than useless, so much so that I rarely use it. I’m having an electric shower fitted, plus new taps for the bath with a shower attachment, and having all the tiles replaced. At the moment there are tiles around the sink which again are in a bad condition, several cracked as well as grotty, so I’m going to get a worktop fitted and the old sink put back in. I’d like a whole new white suite (at the moment it’s a kind of mushroom colour) but that’s out of my budget. Once the room is retiled, I can redecorate. I’ve been longing to get rid of the wallpaper for ages. It’s not only pale and uninteresting, whoever put it up wasn’t very good, none of the edges are straight and all the corners are peeling or overlapped. I’m looking forward t having it finished, then I won’t need to be ashamed of the room anymore, plus, if the time comes when I have to move, the bathroom won’t put people off.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

good to talk

I woke in a terrible state this morning – physically and emotionally ill. What has been getting to me is this - all my life I’ve prided myself on being honest and unselfish. If I fight to take over Mum’s affairs, I will continue to see myself as honest and unselfish, BUT if I back away and let Social Services take over, everything I’ve held dear crumbles away. I would not only be acting selfishly, I would feel dishonest too. I know that if Mum could make a rational decision she would rather I take over her financial affairs.
In the end I had to speak to somebody. Thank you, blog readers, for suggesting this to me. It was very timely.
I tried the Alzheimers Society but they were busy, so I called Leeds Carers (feeling guilty as always as I’m not actually a carer). I spent a few minutes talking to a woman called Jill. Once I’d explained the situation she more or less said that Devon Social Services will do a good job, and that because my mother has dementia, she will accept this. She also said that because of the problems I  have with Mum’s carer, the distance involved, and the fact that my relationship with Mum has never been good, nobody would blame me if I let Social Services get on with it. I can still keep in touch and be there if anything happens to the carer.
It was so helpful to be able to talk to somebody who not only listened to what I was saying, she  seemed to understand the situation and did not judge or make me feel bad. By the time I’d finished talking to her I felt a lot better. At least now I know that if I need to talk to somebody again, she's there. That’s such a help.
It’s almost noon now and I’ve done nothing but check my emails ( I had a sale to Australia but even that didn’t give me a boost). It’s time I got on with some work.  

Monday, 28 March 2011

What Mum wants

Mum called loads of times yesterday. In some of the calls, she was wanting to go back home, saying that Denis (her carer) had locked her in and removed the key.
In one of the more lucid calls, I told her about the solicitor and that Social Services were making moves to take over her finances. She became very angry, insisting that she had given the solicitor no new instructions and that if her finances did need sorting, which she didn’t think they did, she wanted me to take over not Social Services. I explained, several times, that the solicitor won’t talk to me and that she would need to contact them. She said she would, but I know she won’t because the moment she puts the phone down, she’s forgotten every word of the conversation.
This is making me physically ill. I’ve always had a ‘dodgy’ digestive system and stress does it no good at all. The stupid stupid thing is that the solicitor won’t do anything without hearing from her. He refuses to even forward the EPA unless Mum instructs him to. The question I keep asking is how can she do this when she has dementia?
I still have no idea what I’m going to do if and when my solicitor finds out what’s going on. A big part of me wants to run away from all this. I know one thing for sure, I can’t face a drawn out legal wrangle. Even if I could afford it, I can’t afford the impact it will doubtless have on my health and my work. The last time I got involved I lost almost three months work. I was writing, but the stories came out wrong which mean fewer sales and less money coming in.
More than anything, I want this resolved, and quickly.
It’s the AGM of Leeds Writers Circle tonight. I feel I should make an effort to get there but right now all I want to do is curl up into a ball and cry.

Sunday, 27 March 2011


The workshop yesterday wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, but at least it got me out of the house.
I came home to a letter from Mum’s solicitor informing me that they cannot forward the Enduring Power of Attorney to me unless my mother instructs them to. Quite how she’s meant to do this, I have no idea as she has dementia and can’t remember anything for more than five minutes. I'd thought that if I went ahead and registered the EPA that might make something happen but I find I can't do that. 
It’s been a few days since Mum called which always worries me. There’s the rub – if she calls all the time I get interrupted and can’t work properly, but if she doesn’t call, I worry, and can’t work properly.
The strange thing is the last two times I spoke to her she kept trying to get me to say I didn’t care what happened to her. In my increasingly paranoid state, I’m starting to wonder who’s been saying what to her. 
My aunts haven't replied to the letters I sent, so I’m still completely in the dark.
I don’t think I can stand it much longer. I can get to sleep but I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep because of all the thoughts churning round in my head.  I just want to know what the new instruction is so that I can decide what to do and maybe get on with my life. 
Tomorrow I start work on the book. Who knows, if I could get it published it might help somebody else with similar problems.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Sensory delights

I spent yesterday evening with next door's mother, Kath, who's 85. We shared a bottle of rose and had a natter. It was nice to be able to talk to somebody about what's going on with Mum and know that I'd be listened to and not judged.
Today I’m going to ‘The Workshop of sensory delights’ which is being run by a member of Leeds Writer Circle. They’re nearly always excellent, and  great value for money at just £2. In fact it’s worth belonging to the Club just to be able to go to them. I don’t get to many of the ordinary meetings so it’s also a good way of keeping in touch.
Frankly it will be nice to have a day away from the house.

Friday, 25 March 2011


I thought I would have heard something by now but it's still all quiet. I'm going to spend the next three days planting seeds, sorting out the garden, and tackling the paper mountain.
My office which doubles for the dining room is a mess. My aim is to sort through the piles of notes and ideas and other relates bits and pieces, and find some stories ideas/starting points so that when Monday comes I know what I'm doing next. The plan is to write a couple of stories then set to work on a book. Whether that will be the one about Mum or some more of the Mills and Boon or, or or.....( I have lots of bits of books on the go , I'm not sure.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


In this month’s Writers forum, you can read about the inspiration behind the stories in Diamonds and Pearls ( With any luck, that may lead you to an idea of your own.

As Mothers Day approaches, I’ve been asked to mention this short story collection in which I have a (crime) story. Many of the 34 contributors frequently appear in magazines such as Take a Break and Woman’s Weekly. Each one is giving their royalties to a charity AGAINST BREAST CANCER and doing their utmost to maximise sales. The stories are a real mixture and the book would make a great gift for mothers everywhere.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Thank you everyone

As a result of starting this blog, I have received lots of helpful and supportive messages.
You have no idea how much your kind words are helping me to get through this. It makes me feel less alone.
THANK YOU all so much.


Today was the last session of the Hitchhikers' Guide to Enlightenment, a course run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse under their Heydays scheme (for people 55 and over – I JUST made it). The conclusion was that we are all one, and that love is basically the answer to everything.
I was left wondering how this applies to me when I may have to give up trying to be a ‘good’ daughter.
If I don’t love myself, by taking are of my needs for a change, what use am I to other people? It’s certainly given me a lot to think about.
I received a letter from Mum’s solicitor today repeating that they cannot give me ANY information because of ‘confidentiality’. I really don’t see how telling me when the new instruction was made breaks this, but it seems they won’t budge. I’m starting to wonder what happens if they refuse to tell my solicitor anything. What do I do then?
Tomorrow, I’d booked a place on a speed dating evening which I would NOT have done if I’d known all this was going to blow up. Luckily for me, I’ve just had an email postponing it for a month as there wasn’t enough interest. Maybe everyone else in Leeds already has love in their lives.  

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Getting nowhere slowly

I’ve just chased up the solicitor about Mum’s power of attorney. Apparently he has a letter ‘on tape’. I wish he’d get a move on. I need to know what’s going on.
I spent the day rehashing two old stories. I’ve only recently twigged what Take a Break actually want for the one page story in the weekly mag (upbeat, avoid divorce, have a happy ending, 925 words, some kind of twist) so I’m looking back at stories they rejected some years ago and seeing if I can rewrite them. 
It’s a quick way to get some more stories ‘out there’ without actually writing any new ones.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Monday, still no word.

The dogs went home yesterday and I miss them. I don’t have another booking until June. At least that gives me a chance to get on with the garden.
I sat down, determined to write a story today. What with all the worry, work has taken a bit of a back seat and if I let that go on much longer I’ll have something else to worry about – no money coming in. Amazingly, the story turned out well and I’ve already printed it off ready to post to Take A Break. I’ll put it in the post box on my way out tonight. I’ve been commandeered to play in the quiz team as 2 other people can’t make it.
I called the Court of Protection this morning. Apparently, applying for Deputyship can take up to 23 weeks. That means if I register the Enduring Power of Attorney in the next few weeks, it will override the Council’s application.   
I chased up the solicitor by email rather than phoning. I’m scared to call him in case it goes on the bill. It’s the waiting that gets to me. Every time I stop to think, I feel like crying. I wrote to my Aunts today (Mum had three brothers who are all dead) asking them if they knew anything about what was happening in Exeter.
Somebody must know something. After all, Denis is still talking to them.  
Last night  Mum phoned three times, asking if she can come and stay with me for a few days because she’s so miserable. What’s wrong, I ask. Don’t ask, she replies. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve had the same conversation. Each time I tell her that she can come and stay whenever she wants but I know she never will.
Last night she said that  she daren’t just turn up in case I don’t want her here, but when I asked where she got that idea from, she couldn’t say. Somebody told me, she says.
There’s no point me going to Devon. By the time I arrived, she’d have forgotten I was coming.  
It’s four o’clock now so I’ll go and spend a few minutes watching the frogs spawning. I tried counting them but there were too many. I could sit and watch them for hours.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Sunday 20th March

Thanks to all the worry about Mum, I haven’t written a story for days. Need to try harder. I can’t let this beat me.
The dogs are meant to be going home later today. It’s been a strange 17 days with them. At times they drove me crazy, but I’ve kind of got used to them. There’s something very soothing about the sound of a snoring dog when you’re working. Right now, they’re both sprawled at my feet, sound asleep. I’m going to miss having them around. So they’re not human, but when you talk they listen, which isn’t something that people always do. They don’t judge either.
I’ve been keeping busy, spending some time in the garden. There’s plenty to do out there.
Whenever I stop and think, all that comes into my mind is Mum. I’m praying that I find out what’s going on soon. Even if it’s bad news, I don’t care. I just want to know so that I can decide what to do next.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Not going to Newcastle

Right now I should be on a train heading to Newcastle for the launch of Byker Books’ Radgepacket 5, a new story collection which includes one of my efforts.
In the end, I decided against. I’m feeling completely exhausted at the moment. Until I find out what’s going on with Mum it’s hard to think of much else.
 I spent the morning working on a story but it’s not going well, so time to put it on hold, take the dogs for a good long walk, and maybe do some gardening. I can catch up on work when I feel better. I just wish that somebody would hurry up and tell me what’s going on. I wrote a very nice letter to Mum’s carer, asking him to call me so that we could work together to do what’s best for her, but he didn’t reply. I didn’t really think he would but it was worth a try. The problem is, he’s got it stuck in his head that all I want is Mum’s money when all I’ve ever really wanted is for her to be kind to me, maybe even show me some affection, or give me a word or two of encouragement, but that’s not going to happen now.
I’m thinking about putting everything down in a book, but would anyone want to read it?

Friday, 18 March 2011

Friday 18th March. The frogs are spawning.

I’ve been too low to do very much. I couldn’t stop thinking about Mum and what’s happening. In the end, I decided to instruct a solicitor to see if they can find out what Mum’s new instruction is and more importantly, when she gave it.
Wednesday I spent at Trinity College, in Horsforth, Leeds. Each year they hold a writers day with some really good workshops. Best of all it’s free. I was grateful to be able to go out for the day and put my troubles to one side and just write. I sold 4 copies of Diamonds and Pearls which was good, PLUS four copies of my Lulu books which was encouraging.
Yesterday I had to go to the eye clinic. Mum has glaucoma so I have to have my eyes checked regularly. I’ve been worried recently as every now and then I lose even more of my distance vision than normal (I’m short sighted).  The doctor told me that all was well and that the problems I’ve been having were probably down to stress.
Today, it’s back to work, if I can find a way to focus. First I need to pop down to the station. Last year I was given a day pass as compensation for a cancelled train and I want to make sure it will get me to Newcastle. Tomorrow, Radgepacket 5 (Byker books) is launched in Newcastle and I’d like to get there if I can.
The frogs are finally spawning. I’m a complete herptile. I love cold blooded animals of all kinds. I think they’re fascinating. There’s nothing better than to step outside and hear a chorus of frogs.
The dogs go home on Monday. It’s funny but they’ve been a bit of a pain at times, but I’m still going to miss having them around.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Not much to say

I still feel sick after yesterday.
Sadly I can't let the matter rest completely. I need to know when this 'new instruction' was given so I can make sure Mum knew what she was doing.
THEN maybe I can get on with my life.

Monday, 14 March 2011

it's over

Having thought about little else all weekend, I finally made up my mind to register the EPA. I called Mum’s solicitor to tell them this and was told that they couldn’t act for me and that my mother had issued other instructions. What they are or when she did this, they wouldn’t say but it must have been a while ago, before the dementia took hold.
If I want to pursue the matter I have to find a new solicitor. Reading between the lines, it seems she has, at some time,  instructed the solicitor that she doesn’t want me to be her attorney anymore. She’s probably also changed her will. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t mention this when I went to Exeter last August.
I can’t afford to pursue this legally. Not because it would be expensive, which it would, but because I can’t stand the stress.
I have to tell myself this - if, when she was still compos mentis, Mum decided she didn’t want me involved in her life if she became ill, I need to accept that and walk away.
It won’t be the first time she’s hurt me but I hope and pray it will be the last.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

March 13th 1925

On March 13th 1925, my mother was born
Today is her eighty sixth birthday.
I’m sure she didn’t expect to live that long – her parents died at 69 and 73, and her three younger brothers are all dead. She also didn’t expect to lose her mind.
My father went that way too, which means if dementia is genetic, I’m more or less stuffed so I’ll have to try not to think about that too much. .
It’s been a rough weekend so far. When she gave me Enduring power of attorney, I didn’t imagine this scenario. I thought I’d still be living in Devon and that it would be relatively easy to take care of the paperwork.
Things have changed. I’m now in Leeds, but that’s not the hard part. The hard part is Denis, her full time live in carer. I don’t even know what the relationship between them is. And he hates me. To him I’m a no good daughter who only wants to get her hands on Mum’s money.
Why does he think this? Because Mum let him. She’s not a nice woman. For as long as I can remember, she’s been totally self obsessed. When I was a child, she never offered me any encouragement and I don’t remember any hugs or signs of affection. I could write a book. Suffice to say that Denis won’t even talk to me, let alone help me sort things out. I can’t bear confrontation. It stresses me to the extent that it makes me physically ill.
At the moment I don’t know what to do. I’m morally obliged to register the EPA but at the same time, if Social Services want to step in I’m half inclined to let them get on with it.
The thing that drives me completely mad is this. Last August, when Denis was still speaking to me, I went to see Mum and was shocked at the change in her. When her own mother died, we found hundreds of pounds stashed away in drawers. Mum swore she’d never do that, so when I found thousands in a bureau, I was shocked. I mentioned it to Denis. He said he knew about it and there was three thousand pounds in total. That afternoon, they went to the hospital. While I was alone, I checked. There was a lot more than three thousand, possibly seven, maybe more.
When they came back I spoke to them. I said I wasn’t happy about so much money lying about the house and that I wanted Mum to pay it into one of her building society accounts. I begged Denis to help me. He wouldn’t. I reminded him that I had power of attorney, but he simply wouldn’t help me. In the end I took a purse full of the cash and left the house. Outside, I immediately called the social worker, but there was no reply so I left an urgent message. I waited for them to call. They didn’t. I tried again, still nothing. I had hoped they would help me remove the cash for safe keeping as I knew Mum was due a visit the next morning.
I went home the next day and opened a  special account for Mum’s money. Three days later, the social services finally got back to me. According to them, Mum was still perfectly capable of taking care of her finances and no, they weren’t worried about two old people having so much cash just lying about.
Now they’ve changed their tune.
I knew things were bad the moment I saw Mum, but nobody would listen to me.
Denis doesn’t seem to be able to figure out that if I WAS after mum’s money I would have registered the EPA as soon as there was any sign of her losing her mind.
Right now, I don’t know what to do. I’ve asked Mum’s solicitor for advice and they’re getting back to me in a day or two. Then I’ll have to make up my mind.

Friday, 11 March 2011

link to new site

To join a supportive on line writing group, check out
I'd join it myself if I had the time.

Having spoken to  a solicitor, who didn't know the answer to my problems with Mum, I'm going to shut down for the rest of the day and hope she gets back to me next week. Have a good weekend.


I feel as though I’ve been kicked in the stomach. Devon Social Services have finally written to me. In short, my mother is now so badly affected by dementia, that they will take over Mum’s affairs unless I do.
In 2000 I took out Enduring Power of Attorney so that if my mother became incapable of managing her financial affairs, I could take over.
The problem is, how do you do that when you are three hundred miles away AND the person she lives with, her 84 year old carer, hates you and won’t cooperate with you in any way?
I called the person who wrote the letter and asked, if I did activate the EPA would I be able to get any help and support from Social Services? The short answer was no.
As I can’t see a way to deal with Mum’s affairs without their help. It seems  I’m left with only one answer to the problem - let them take over.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

High Winds, Rummikub and My weekly

The wind has been horrible today. It frightens me as I know how much damage it can cause. Went to the hairdressers this morning which isn’t something I do very  often. I have an aversion to hairdressers, largely thanks to my mother forcing me to be a model for trainees to ‘practice’ on when I was 11. I HATED it.
Afterwards I headed to Good Neighbours where I’ve been volunteering for almost two years. I help set up the tables and chairs and put out the games and the tea trolley then play or teach people to play various  games like Rummikub and Scrabble, or if I’m unlucky endless games of dominoes.
Wednesdays and Thursdays are my unofficial days off as I work weekends but before I left this morning I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours work. It was time to send my March submission to my Weekly. Being limited to just one sub a month makes it very hard to choose which story to send, but I mustn’t complain. They don’t even look at submissions from writers they’ve never published. I think that’s crazy and unfair to their readers, but don’t tell them I said that.
I’ve just fended some calls from Mum. Every time it’s the same – can she come and stay – yes – how do I get there – I explain – can I really come and stay – yes – and so on, round and round in an endless loop. Five minutes later, she calls again and asks the same thing.
One of the dogs had another ‘accident’ tonight. I’m wondering if she does it on purpose if she’s not getting enough attention. I was out most of the day and I’m not sure John, that’s my lodger, took enough notice of her. The way the wind is blowing the rugs should dry pretty quickly!
I’m going to Kath’s tonight. She’s in her eighties but as bright as a diamond. We’ll have some wine and a natter and I can pretend to be human again, if only for a while.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Heydays, dogs and My Weekly

Today is my day at Heydays (how’s that for a clumsy sentence?) but I had to come home at lunch time because I can’t leave the dogs too long. Their owner said a maximum of four hours but I’d rather not push my luck so kept it down to three. I wish I hadn’t bothered going. I’m in this class that’s meant to be taking a hitch hikers guide to enlightenment but lately all that happens is it turns into a discussion session about everything that’s wrong with the world. It’s a shame as Wednesday and Thursday are meant to be my unofficial days off when I do anything other than writing. .
As a result of plugging Diamonds and Pearls (if you haven’t bought a copy please consider doing so – royalties go to charity.) I’ve been invited to run a workshop at the Ripon Yarns festival in July, so that’s good. Not sure what about or when yet.
In January I sent a ‘real life’ story to My Weekly about having hypnotherapy to get more confidence and how that led me to going on The Weakest Link. Yesterday I had an email and they’ve accepted it. So that’s another sale, and a non fiction one for a change.  
The pet boarding agency called, asking if I wanted to look after a 14 year old dog with chronic medical problems meaning I’d have to get up in the night to prevent accidents. I felt bad but I had to say no.
Finished another story and sent it off so now back to work on the next one. At least I’m in this month’s Fiction Feast, over 6 pages too so that will be a healthy payment when it comes through.  I haven’t been in the magazine for a few months thanks to my output dipping badly last year thanks to family problems. Nice to get back on stream.
Now to try and decide which story to send to My Weekly for my once a month (March) submission!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

ALCS et al

A member of my writers group (Leeds Writers Circle – come along if you’re in the area. Just google for details) told me I had a story in the new Take a Break Spring Special. I’m glad she did, or I wouldn’t have known. I like to try and buy a copy of any magazines with my stories in so that I can cut them out and put them in a file. Then when I get down, or it’s been a few weeks without a sale, I can flick through and remind myself that I CAN write.
It’s also handy to have a copy to remind me to notify ALCS. That’s the Author’s Licensing and Collection Service. Every year, they send me a payment. This covers all the schools, companies and so on that copy and use writer’s work without paying them directly. Stories as well as articles and books all count. I didn’t’ bother signing up until 2008, which was, frankly stupid. I’ve just received this year’s payment and it was more than six hundred pounds and for that, all I had to do was let them know a few details whenever I had something published. So if you write, check it out – 
If that's not the right address a quick google will take you there. It's only £25 to join and they take that from any payments they make so there's no up front cost.  

Monday, 7 March 2011

books have landed

Box of books arrived from Lulu, which is great. So fast!
Finished another story which I’ve sent off.  Somebody emailed for a critique so I did that for her. Tonight, I’m going round to Jack’s to cook him a meal then we’re going to the quiz. I think I’m playing. I prefer asking the questions as the quiz is ridiculously hard at times. Jack? He volunteers at Good Neighbours. He’s got cancer and can’t face cooking so I’ve been going round to his place on Mondays and in return I get a lift to the quiz. I find cooking in somebody else’s kitchen a real challenge!
Humber (I’m pet boarding two dogs and he’s the larger one) was off his food this morning but cleaned his bowl tonight.
No calls at all from Mum today, thank goodness.
Running out of time! Better get ready to go out.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Mothers, rhubarb and short stories

Just about to shut down the computer when I realised I hadn’t updated my blog. Been one of those days. Busy working on three stories, plus updating my web site, plus handling a whole load of calls from my mad mother. Sundays aren’t my favourite day. I tend to think of other people having Sunday lunch with families and friends and get a bit tearful. There, so now you know. I’m a lonely old soul. The only family I have, and believe me I wish I didn’t have it, is my 85 year old mother who has dementia. I know you will think badly of me, but that’s up to you, when I say that I don’t love her, and haven’t for a very long time. I had a bad childhood and have always had a ‘troubled’ relationship with her.  
She lives in Exeter and has a full time carer who’s not much younger than she is. He hates me, and thinks I’m after my mother’s money. I could write a book about the problem, and maybe I will one day. Right now, I just wanted to tell somebody. It helps sometimes.
Now to go and cuddle the dogs.

Saturday, 5 March 2011


Did rather better with the food and medication this morning, but still found it stressful. My biggest worry when I got up was whether Sally would have made it through the night without any accidents. Last night, after she was fed, she made a big puddle on the floor of the conservatory. Luckily all was well so I’m putting her accident down to the stress of being somewhere strange. Mind you, she’s a strange little dog. She doesn’t bark or make any nose unless she’s snoring and she totally ignores Humber’s toys. Apparently she considers herself top dog. Every now and then she proves this by trying to mount Humber! He just stands there and lets her get on with it.
I feel sorry for him. He’s got a bad leg, arthritis, but he still wants or run and play, even though his leg must be hurting him. Took them both for a walk to Primrose  Park, a huge open space, ten minutes walk from my house. You’d never know it was there. I can’t wait to see it later in the year. There’s an expanse of water which looks like prime dragonfly and frog country to me.
Having the dogs here is affecting my work. It will get easier once they’ve settled in. Then I’ll be able to relax a  bit more without jumping every time Sally coughs!.

Friday, 4 March 2011


You know what it’s like when you get something new? That’s how I feel about Lulu at the moment. I’ve spent years wanting ot have some books that I can show to  people so that I feel like a REAL writer, now suddenly I have three.
What I love is that you can order as many or as few as you want. I’m going to take some with me to Trinity College on the 16th.
They hold an annual writers day with courses and speakers and the best thing is, it’s free. Last year one of the workshops led to an idea which I wrote up and sold to Woman’s Weekly.
If you’re interested in self publishing, why not follow the link below to my latest book? Then you might fancy having a go yourself.  It really is so simple – if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be doing it.  

My two new boarders have now arrived and are busy settling down. I confess I’m a bit nervous. Sally, the white terrier, is 12 and has had one stroke already. The other one is called Humber who has arthritis and a severe limp. He’s 8.
They’re both on different diets and lots of medication. It feels like a hug responsibility. I’ve got pages of notes. Wish me luck! I don’t want anything to happen to them while they’re here.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Still thinking about THE CHASE

Spent the first hour filling in my shortlist questionnaire for THE CHASE. The problem is, I have no idea what they want to hear. I hope I’ve said enough to get a place on the show as it really is my favourite quiz show.
Now I have to write a poem for Leeds Writers Circle poetry competition. I don’t do poetry, but as this is a free competition with cash prizes, I feel compelled to have a go. I have the afternoon off. I usually spend Thursday afternoons volunteering at my Good Neighbours group. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a lot of work done. Tomorrow I have the two new dogs arriving and until they get here, I have no idea how much work they’ll be. I had a ten month old spaniel come to stay recently. She needed attention the whole time which was great fun but not exactly conducive to writing.
Yesterday when I was at York for the audition, I went into Waterstones to see if they had DIAMONDS AND PEARLS in stock. I’ve always wanted to be go to a book shop and see something I’ve written on the shelf. I couldn’t find it so I had a word with one of the assistants.  He checked. They didn’t have it, then he said the words that made me smile. ‘I’ve put one on order.’

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


I've just come back from York where I was auditioned for the ITV show, THE CHASE. The good news is, I've been shortlisted so fingers crossed I might get an expenses paid trip to London in the Spring/Early Summer  which would be great.
The new Fiction Feast has just arrived. I always pounce on it to see if Norah has used any of my stories, as she never lets you know when they’re due to appear. I’ve missed out the last few months so really needed to see my name, and there it was, Catherine Howard, spread over SIX pages. 
FF pay by the page so that’s a nice big payment on its way soon.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Short Story Success from the March issue of Writers Forum

Several people sent stories to me after rEading my column so I'm copying it here in case you missed it. 
 Short Story Success number 29

When I say that I mainly write for ‘women’s magazines, people often assume that all I write is romance. Luckily, that is not the case 
I enjoy writing about love, and no, I haven’t finished that Mills and Boon yet, but I would hate to have to do it all the time.
Both the weather and my mood affect my writing.  I find it more difficult to write about love and romance when it’s dark cold wet and miserable outside, especially when I’ve just been stood up (more on that in a moment). That’s why I enjoy writing for Take A Break’s Fiction Feast.   
To illustrate how varied the magazine is, I took an issue at random and made a brief summary of the stories. The results are as follows.
Three ‘Love Stories’ – one with two pages and another with three pages.
Five ‘Tales with a twist’ – three were one page long, and two covered two  pages.
Six ‘Put your feet up’ stories - one with five pages, two with  four, one with three,  one with two and a one pager.
Two ‘One from the Heart’s.’  - one over three pages and one with two.
Finally there was a Spine Chiller which was two pages long.  
One page stories are usually between seven hundred and a thousand words whilst two page stories hover around the fourteen hundred mark. Longer stories can be anything up to six thousand words so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a length that suits you.
Now a brief explanation of the categories.
A Tale with a Twist covers any story with a surprise or twist ending. It could be a romance, a thriller, a slice of life, fantasy or even crime.
Love Stories are mostly typical boy meets girl, romantic stories.
Stories tagged as Put Your Feet Up vary enormously. Often they are ghost stories, or have some kind of fantasy  element. They can also be humorous or deal with relationships. Sometimes they are surprisingly dark in tone, even violent.  
The One from the Heart category often deals with relationships between family members or friends. These are generally relaxing to read and don’t tackle grittier issues.
Spine Chillers are basically spooky ghost stories. Crime Time stories also crop up occasionally.  
In this particular issue, seventy percent of the stories were written in the third person and two were written from a male point of view.
Hopefully, as you read the above you found yourself thinking,  I can write one of those, or I’ve already written a story that might fit the bill. If that is the case, don’t just think about sending one or two off - do it now. Don’t forget to let me know how you get on (
Last month I mentioned Della Galton’s new book – The Dog With Nine Lives. I said it was about nine dogs, when it’s actually about a dog with nine lives. Sorry about this, but  I hadn’t read the book at the time (it’s still a great read).
As I mentioned earlier, my mood affects my writing. I joined an internet dating site a while back. Recently a man who looked perfect on paper (don’t they all!) contacted me and I eventually summoned up the courage to arrange to meet him. This was a huge deal for me as I haven’t been out with anyone since my divorce, five years ago.
Of course the swine didn’t bother to turn up. When I tried his mobile, it just rang and rang so I couldn’t even leave a rude message. Over the course of forty eight hours  I went from being on a huge high, with my head full of romantic ideas and possibilities, to feeling thoroughly fed up and deciding not to look for a new man after all.
 While I was on the ‘high,’ romantic stories flowed from my pen but the moment I crashed back down to earth, it became much more difficult. In fact, I’ve been feeling so annoyed I’m thinking about writing a crime story with guess who as the victim. That’s all for now. As always, if you have any problems or queries, or there’s something you’d like me to include in this column, drop me an email.
Next month, Spring will be on the horizon. I’ll be looking forward to those long hot summer days and the story writing ideas and opportunities they bring.

yesterday takes its toll

So far today, I’ve done a lesson for one of my pupils, given feedback on a story sent to me as a result of last month’s column in Writers Forum (see below) and tweaked two stories to send to Woman’s Weekly, which were rejected by TAB.
I was hoping to get on and draft some new stories but the muse is obviously gone off somewhere more interesting. I’m going to have a soak in the tub and come back, hopefully refreshed. Seeing that therapist yesterday has taken more out of me than I’d thought.