Saturday, 30 April 2011

Avoiding the crowd

I spent yesterday being a tourist. My first stop was Mother Shipton’s Cave to see the petrifying well and make a wish, then on to Fountains Abbey to see what was there. I decided as it by then the afternoon, it wasn’t worth the £9 entrance fee, so went on to Grassington where the whole town seemed to be out celebrating the Royal wedding. After that, a walk round Bolton Abbey, and finishing with fish and chips in Skipton. The weather, apart from one short, light shower stayed dry.
Mother Shipton’s was fascinating. There was a really strange, calm atmosphere, possibly boosted by the fact that there were few people there. I bought a hematite crystal bracelet which is meant to help fight stress. A lovely lady sold it to me. She radiated positive energy.
It’s only now, a day later that I realise why I wanted to avoid the wedding so much. Back in 1997 I was in Exeter, three weeks after Princess Diana died. For some reason they decided to hold a three minute silence and everything stopped. This distressed me greatly. I feel that grieving is something that shouldn’t be controlled. If people are made to do something, it’s not always real. I also wanted to scream and shout and tell the world that I’d had my own tragedy, that two weeks after Diana died, my husband died, but of course, I didn’t say that.
This morning, there’s a plant sale/coffee morning at St Mary’s Church, so I’m going to see what I can find.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Green eyes

The sun’s shining, the garden’s looking like a garden, I had a break at the crossword group, but I still can’t seem  to shake off a feeling of gloom. I’ve been trying to avoid it, but the sad fact is, this business with Mum effectively cutting me out of her life, has hit me like an express train. I wish I could get some decent stories written, but I feel so full of emotion, trying to get under a character’s skin is proving difficult. It’s as though I’ve only got a certain amount of emotion to work with and I’m using it all.
If the weather’s fine tomorrow, I’m heading for Skipton and the Dales. It’s not that I don’t like the Royal family because I do, I just hate the way this wedding has saturated the media. I guess I also feel a bit jealous. I’ve been on my own too long.

Terrible typos

The man who runs the cryptic crossword group, proof read my writing guide, and did the corrections for me, so I’ve just uploaded the new content to Lulu. I was amazed at the mistakes he found. I’m very good at spotting typos in other people’s work, but pretty much useless when it comes to my own so I’m so happy he did this for me.
Now I can sell the book without having to apologise!
In half an hour a boxer dog is coming to see me. After the problems with the last paying guest, I’m feeling a bit dubious. I CAN say no if I want to. Anyway, I’ll see what she’s like.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


This morning, I typed up a story I’d written in pen some weeks ago. It came out well, funny for a change, so I’ve broken one of the rules of writing and sent it to two places at once – a competition and a magazine. After that it was my last volunteering session at Good Neighbours. Since it switched to Wednesdays the board games part has just died, so I’m glad I won’t be going any more. Next week on Wednesday it’s Heydays at the West Yorkshire playhouse  and I’m hoping that I’ve been given one of my first choice of classes. I love painting )pictures not walls) but rarely allow myself time to do it at home, so if I get on a class, I’ll have an excuse to indulge myself. Fingers crossed.
As Wednesday is classed as a day off, I spent the rest of my time in the garden, putting in more potatoes, some strange Italian beans (the seeds came free with a potato planter) and some courgettes. Then it was time to water everything. I’m on  a meter so I water as little as possible but it’s been so dry I’ve had to use the hose.
Now to shut down and assemble some bits of path – the pieces click together.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Windows and wallpaper

Mum phoned early this morning just as I was having breakfast, asking if she could come and stay. I asked her to phone back. So far she hasn’t.
I try not to let her calls upset me, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Now the holidays are over, the social workers and day centres should start work again and I won’t get as many calls.
I’m waiting for Molly’s owners to come and collect her. I won’t be sorry to see her go. I love dogs, but…..
She doesn’t do what she’s told, she jumps up at everyone and sends them flying, tries to eat everything from stones to plant pots, and this morning, I came down to find she’d started eating the kitchen wallpaper so there’s now a large patch missing by the larder door. Fortunately, the wallpaper is horrible and I’m planning to get rid of it as soon as I can muster some energy (I still have the bathroom to finish). I wouldn’t mind if I could give her a cuddle but she’s not into hugs.
The man from the Window Doctor came this morning to look at my French door which leads out to the conservatory from the living room. It’s so stiff, I simply can’t open it when it’s locked. He reckons it will need a new lock. I spent the rest of the morning going through my stories sorting out a few to send to The Weekly News and other magazines. It’s a boring, irritating task. I can never remember what my stories are about so I end up having to read loads of them before I find something that might do, then I may have to shorten or lengthen it. It’s one of those jobs that has to be done though, so now it’s time to switch off the pc, pick up my pen and draft some more short stories.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Not enough stories

I sometimes think that Norah, of Take a Break fame, saves up rejections to that she can ruin people’s holidays. On Saturday, a wad of stories came back, just in time for Easter, and she almost always sends a batch back at Christmas.
I changed two of them round a bit and sent them off to Womans Weekly, then came across a competition with a decent prize and a closing date of April 30th – Unbound Press. So I went through my unpublished stories, looking for something suitable and sent one off. That made me think of the Bridport Prize. I vowed, in my Writers Forum column, that I would enter this year, so I downloaded an entry form, and set about writing a piece of flash fiction, so I’d have that ready to send off.
Molly’s owners called again, that’s three times so far, to check she was OK. No calls from Mum today which is odd. I usually get calls on bank holidays and weekends when she doesn’t have day care to go to.
This afternoon, I drafted a letter to send to everyone involved – her doctor, her solicitor, Social Services, and my aunts. I have decided to send this by May the first latest, drawing a line under the business of the Enduring Power of attorney. I need to tell people that I have done everything I can, and that the ball is now firmly in their court. There really is nothing more I can do. I have to get back to work.
Doing my tax return, led me to look back over the past year. I was shocked to see how much my output had fallen. I’m meant to write eight to ten stories every month, but in the past year I have only written fifty four which is less than half the number I  need to write to bring in enough sales. To make a living, I aim to sell one story a week, and as I have absolutely no chance of selling everything I write (it’s normally around 30 – 40 %) a drop in output spells trouble ahead.
That’s the problem with writing, everything happens in slow motion. A bad spell of writing now and I won’t see the effects for several months when the rejections, rather than sales, start coming in.  
In the first three months of this year, I sold eleven stories, placed three more in short story collections and won second prize in a competition so I’m more or less on track. Sadly in the same period I’ve only written sixteen new stories and I can tell that some of them are not as good as they need to be.
It’s such a shame the speed dating thing keeps getting cancelled. They’ve rescheduled again for May 21st. If it ever happens, I  have a feeling it will give me at least one good story, even if I don’t meet the man of my dreams.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

A frog in the loo

I began today by working on the book which currently stands at 44000 words. 
I keep wondering how it’s going to end. I’ve had some strange conversations with Mum this past couple of months. If I wanted to read between the lines, I could draw all kinds of conclusions, but as I never know when she’s telling the truth…… 

This afternoon, I found a young frog out of my downstairs loo. How it got there, I have no idea! I can only think that Molly had something to do with it, although I don’t see how. I’m now firmly of the opinion that I’m too old to have a puppy. She tries to eat anything and everything she can find, I have to keep watch on her. If I take my eyes off her for a moment, I find her eating stones or lumps of wood. Once it got hot, and I had to leave the conservatory door open, I had to leave the computer and work outside instead. I did some reading, then bounced some ideas around before writing the first draft of a story, ready to get to work on when Molly goes home. She LOVES everybody. When my neighbour leaned over the hedge to see her, Molly practically climbed through the hedge to get to them. I had to distract her with toys and a bonio. So far, she hasn’t appeared to miss her owners one little bit. I wondered if she would cry or get upset during the night, but she was fine.
Now, I’ve had enough of working so I’m going to crash out in front of the TV, maybe watch The Walking Dead or a film.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

To Do List

It’s just gone five and I’ve completed the first three things on the list. It’s too hot to even think about removing wallpaper, so I might wait until the weather changes – it can’t stay this nice for much longer, this IS England after all.
Molly, the Labrador puppy arrived this morning, and has already caused devastation in the garden. Apparently, and her owners didn’t mention this on the booking form, she loves nothing better than to dig. A border that was waiting to be planted is now a 12” deep trench. The mess she was in had to be seen to be believed. There’s mud all over the path. It’s just as well I have different parts of the garden fenced and gated off.  If she’d got to my raised beds, I dread to think what would have happened.
I’m feeling like it’s time to get away from the PC. If I do that, there’s a chance I might get round to looking at some story ideas.
To anyone who might be reading this, especially Robert an Helen, have a great Easter!


NAWG (not NAWAG as I think I typed) means THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WRITERS GROUPS. I'm doing all I can to help them as they really are a great bunch of people. For info see


List of things to do to day, whether I’ll get them all done, I’m not sure.
  1. Finish rewrite of tortoise story
  2. Add at least a thousand words to the book
  3. Finish my tax return
  4. Finish removing the top layer of wallpaper in the bathroom.
  5. Prepare at least two starting points or outlines for short stories.
  6. At least think about writing letters to everyone involved with Mum telling them that I’ve done all I can, and that if they know when the new instruction was issued, and it’s after the dementia took hold, it’s up to them, and their conscience, to do something as there’s nothing more I can do. .

Friday, 22 April 2011

New competition, I hope

This morning, 2 people came from NAWG to discuss launching a short story competition, just when I was thinking of running one myself. I think they will run with it. If they do, I’ll have to put mine on hold. I’ll give them a week, then chase them about it.
They liked the garden, said it was dog friendly, which I took as a compliment, especially as I have a puppy coming to stay for Easter.
Once they’d gone, I set about revising two stories that came back from Take a Break yesterday. I’m changing them from third to first person and adjusting the length to suit Woman’s Weekly. I haven’t been selling much to them recently, thanks to concentrating on TAB. Mum phoned four times, asking if she can come to stay and getting cross when I said she’d need help. If I had a pound for every time she’s put the phone down on me, I could go to Italy tomorrow.
It was such a lovely day, I sat in the garden, and read Writers Forum. Usually I just skim it. Sometimes I don’t even read the competition winners. I’ve been trying to do that lately, to get a handle on the quality. This month, the winner wasn’t bad but I still think that the stories that won my last two competitions were much better.
Now that it’s not quite so hot, I’m going to go to Temple Newsam and see how things are growing there. Normally, I’d wait until I had a dog to stay, but Molly who’s coming tomorrow can’t have more than 20 minutes on the lead as she’d recently been spayed.
That reminds me, I haven’t had a copy of the booking form yet!
Must call Carole!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Another hot day, another short story sale

Last night at York Writers went well, at least I think it did.  It felt like hard work but I gave them so much information and so many tips, I’m sure they’ll think the fee was worth it.
Mum called me just before I left, saying how terrible things were with Denis but refusing to give me any clues or details. I’ve had dozens of similar calls where she says ‘everything’ is wrong but won’t say what she means because he might overhear. When I explain that, unless she tells me what’s happening, there’s nothing I can do to help, she slams the phone down. Then the next time I speak to her, she says she doesn’t know what she’d do without Denis and that’s he’s wonderful.
I’ve spent most of today battling with the accounts, ready to do my tax return. I’ve now added up and subtracted most of the figures so I’ll be able to tackle the form over Easter. I was shocked how much my income had fallen in the past year, thanks to the all the worries and stress.
I went out after lunch to the cryptic crossword class which I’m enjoying though I’m not making much progress yet. It was so hot as I walked home, I could feel my skin beginning to burn. Amazing weather. Shame I’m not much good in the heat.
I sold a story to The Weekly News which is good and I’ve pitched an idea to the Guardian, for their Saturday,  family Section. It’s about Mum and her solicitor.I heop they're interested enough to want to see it.
Tomorrow the NAWG Secretary is coming to see me about running a national competition to raise some much needed funds.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


I was meant to be reading stories and talking about the charity short story collection, Diamonds and Pearls, at my local Good Neighbours group today, but when I got there, everything had been changed. Some of the volunteers had been invited along for a lunch, my part hadn’t been advertised and I was told I wouldn’t be able to read anything out.
It’s annoying when that happens as I could have stayed home for an extra hour and got some work done. 
Since it switched to Wednesdays, the board game side of things has virtually died. I'm glad that when Heydays starts again I won't be able to go. I'll have to try to find something else to do as a volunteer.
I’m off to York this evening to talk about short story success, my column in Writers Forum. I hope it goes well.
I still feel a bit new to this kind of thing but I need to get out and about and meet people. It’s all part of the publishing process these days.
I WAS due to be going speed dating tomorrow night, but it’s been postponed AGAIN. It’s so disappointing, of course I was only going for research…..

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


It’s been a fiddly sort of day.
 I had to plan what I’m going to say at York Writers tomorrow night which took a while, then I had to do the same for the story time session I’m doing at Cross Gates Good Neighbours. Then two more readers of my Writers Forum column asked me for advice on their Take a Break stories. After that I did some more work on the book about Mum. The word count now stands at 42,000 words. Two hours of that was enough so I switched back to short stories. I’ve just rewritten one that Take a Break rejected a couple of years ago, probably because it’s about an affair. Now I’ve changed it, I can try sending it back to them. 
I've also decided to run another short story competition, closing date October 31st. I've doubled the prize money so hopefully, more people will enter. 
It’s been such a lovely day, it’s been very hard to keep out of the garden. I did take a half hour break outside, and will try to get some more work done out there later.
This morning, Pampered Pets gave me a last minute booking. A seven month old Labrador puppy is coming to stay from Saturday until Tuesday so that’s something to look forward to.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Back to work, eventually

Yesterday, I treated myself to a visit to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show. I’m glad I did. The weather was perfect and I had a lovely day away from the computer. I didn’t buy many plants, mainly because of having to carry them. Next year, I’ll take a pull along suitcase with me! When I got home, I did a couple of hours work in the garden, then crashed out and watched Spiral.
Now it’s Monday morning and time to get on with things. The edging tiles I ordered for the bathroom have arrived at the shop so I need to go and get them, then I want to finish the stories I’ve been working on and maybe the screenplay. For the screenplay competition, I only need ten pages of the script plus an outline and overview. I’m not going to put much effort into it as right now, doing a screenplay is not something I have either the time or the inclination to do.
Mum called again yesterday evening, asking if she could come and stay. As always I said yes, anytime, but I know now that it is ever going to happen.
When I started this blog, I thought I’d be writing about writing. Instead, it’s turned into something else entirely. I feel bad about that. There’s enough misery in the world.  
I will try and get my life back into focus as soon as I can. The book about Mum is now at 40,000 words. 
A friend told me not to finish  it, to draw a line under the whole thing  and get on with my life, but I can’t. For my own sake, I have to put the truth down on paper, or at least the truth as I remember it, complete with gaps and blank spaces.
First I have to email the solicitor and tell him not to write any more letters and to send me his bill. Hundreds of pounds for making absolutely no progress. Nice work if you can get it.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Thinking things through

I was up early as I need to get a lot done today. I did some work on the short stories I started earlier this week. They’re now at the ‘almost ready’ stage. Hopefully they’ll be finished by Monday.
A man and his two dogs, a Labrador and a miniature dachshund, came to check me out at lunchtime. It seemed to go OK so hopefully that’s another booking for the summer.
After lunch, I set to work on the TV screenplay for the Club competition. It’s a hard slog – the entry instructions are three pages long. I’m wondering if many people will enter. If they don’t, and I can get my head round it, there’s a good chance of a prize.
Mum called at half past three, the first time I’ve heard from her since last Sunday. I told her that Social Services were going to take over her financial affairs because she no longer wanted me to do it. She denied issuing any instructions to the solicitor, she also denied going to a day centre twice  a week. She even said she hadn’t seen a social worker for ages, and that she was perfectly capable of looking after herself.
I just repeated the facts. That Social Services had already applied to the court and that there was nothing I could do. I told her I’d employed a solicitor but that nobody would  tell me what was going on. I know I’m  wasting my time. I told her all this three weeks ago when it all blew up, and she said she’d talk to the solicitor, but she didn’t. How can she when five minutes after speaking to me she’s forgotten the entire conversation?
I have to remind myself that when Social Services DO take over, Mum probably won’t even realise.
I have no idea what she says to anyone else. For all I know she could be telling everyone how horrible I am. It wouldn’t be the first time.
This whole thing is making me paranoid. I feel as though I’m trapped in one of those movies where the whole world is plotting against you. It’s like my own version of The Truman Show – I’m the only one who has no idea what on earth is going on.
I spoke to a friend yesterday. Her advice was simple. Write to everyone involved, explaining what I’ve done – the solicitor, the dead end and so on. If I do that, I’ll also say this to the social workers, her solicitor, her carer and anyone else I can think of ‘as long as you’re happy that Mum isn’t being taken advantage of and that she gave instructions, whatever they may be, to her solicitor before the dementia set in, then I will accept that, and leave things as they are, but if there’s any chance that isn’t the case, it’s up to you to do something about it, as there’s nothing more I can do.’
Writing that, makes me feel like Pontius Pilate, but I don’t see any alternative. I’ll sleep on it and see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Now what?

My solicitor replied, promptly for a change. He said this

'You have been well advised. I cannot be held to account for the stance that Cartridges are taking.

They are in my view without justification in not answering our question and indeed have not answered our question. My next correspondence with them would be pointing this out, which it has been thus far inappropriate to do.

However if you do not wish for me to proceed further then I will happily consider the matter at an end and send you my bill.'

Not what?  Go on throwing money at the problem - it's taken me a month and hundreds of pounds to get nowhere - or give up. I have no idea.


Yesterday I chased my solicitor, again. This is the reply I received.

‘I attach a copy of my letter to Cartridges of the 8th April. They have responded merely saying that they have instructions from your mother not to release the EPA to you. This does not answere our question and I am not convinced that they or yourt mother are in their rights to take this stance, particularly if the EPA has not been revoked and your mother lacks capacity. Do you want me to write to Cartridges in these terms?’

The letter he sent was attached and reads as follows.

Thank you for your letter of the 30th March.

‘We look forward to hearing from you regarding the release of the enduring power of attorney. We would however also comment that our letter of the 25th March did not in actual fact request the release of the power of attorney as such, but rather whether or not the power of attorney is still valid and has not been revoked.’

This is the email I’ve just sent back to him.

‘When I initially spoke to you, I said that all I wanted was to know when the 'new instructions' were made and, if possible, what they were. I explained that I had already asked Cartridges these questions and they refused to answer. When I spoke to you I asked if they would reply to you, seeing as they would not talk to me,  and was told that you could ask the question in such a way that they would HAVE to answer. Instead, I am still at square one. I can't see the point of writing to Cartridge's again. As far as I'm concerned, I have wasted my money. You have achieved no more than I did. You have not asked the questions I needed answering.
Did Cartridge's  reply to your recent letter in writing? If so, please forward a copy to me, email will do. I will have to think about what to do next.
At the moment I feel let down and ill advised.’

It has been more than a month and nothing has changed. I simply don’t know what to do – keep throwing money at the situation or give up, and walk away.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Wallpaper, crosswords, plants and emails

I had to go in search of bathroom wallpaper this morning. I still couldn’t find what I wanted so I’ve had to compromise. I spent the rest of the morning on the club’s (Leeds Writers Circle) screenwriting competition, deciding which story to adopt and writing a synopsis. I’ve never done a TV screen play before but there’s a £50 prize at stake so I might as well have a go. After lunch, I went to Good Neighbours at Cross Gates to try the cryptic crossword class. I’ve never been able to go before as it clashed with my volunteering, but now the board games have been moved to Wednesday, I can go. It was fun.
It was warmer this afternoon so I spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden, digging borders and planting plants. Now, it’s time to tackle some of the odd bits of tiling left over in the bathroom.
I’ve just emailed my solicitor to see what’s happening about Mum. They didn’t’ answer my last email. I want to know if a follow up letter has actually been sent or is he still planning it. It’s been a month and I’m still precisely nowhere.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Busy day. To begin with, I did some more work on the book about my life, then I finished a holiday story I’d been working on yesterday so that it’s ready to send to Take a Break. After that, I started putting down the floor tiles in the bathroom. Two hours later, and it was almost finished but I’m too shattered to carry on. There are lots of fiddly bits left to do and there’s no point trying to do those when I’m tired.
Tomorrow I have to go to the other side of Leeds, looking for wallpaper. All I want is something washable and relatively plain i.e. not  a tile pattern, but I can’t find it anywhere, even my beloved eBay has let me down.
I had a bad night. When I’m stressed, I dream about fish in trouble – not being fed, too little water, overcrowded, that kind of thing. Last night it was shubunkins. One was in a jam jar of all things. On the outside I’m staying calm but it seems that my subconscious is fretting for me. I just wish there was some news. Mum’s more or less stopped phoning. She called on Sunday, but there’s been nothing since. If she doesn’t call soon, I’ll have to call her. .  

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


I spent yesterday away from the computer, doing boring things like shopping and  looking for wallpaper (which I didn’t find). I don’t have a laptop or a snazzy phone, and I’m not sure I want one. It does me good just to take a day out now and then.
Of course it means I start today already feeling as though I need to catch up.
I’ve just put some lettuce plugs in the garden. Now it’s straight to work.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Sunday, a day of rest

Overall, a good, productive day.
I started with two hours work on the book about Mum and me, which takes me up to 29,000 words. Then I had an hour in the garden, followed by a break, which I spent reading some of the stories in the latest Fiction Feast. Then I spent an hour working on Short Story Success, my column in Writers Forum. When that didn’t come out quite as planned, I stopped for lunch. I’ll let it soak in my subconscious for a couple of days and see what happens.
Next I watched the start of the Gran Prix, the began work on the next in my series of writing guides. I spent some time figuring out what the next book would be about, and came up with ideas for the next two which is great. I’d like to have at least one more written before Swanwick as any opportunity for sales needs to be taken full advantage of.
With that in mind, I started work on the first one, getting the basic structure and chapter headings in place. I finished with another hour in the garden, planting some more peas and potatoes.
Now to watch Spiral which I recorded last night.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Sunshine and screenwriting

Another sunny, magical day, not like April at all, and I was booked onto a screen writing workshop.
It was OK, but I didn’t learn much about screen writing. It was more about story structure, conflict and themes which could have been covered in a general fiction workshop. I’m still none the wiser regarding layout and possible markets.
I think it’s because I’m a bit preoccupied at the moment, but I seem to be more easily irritated than usual. The man who yesterday asked why my critique service was so cheap, came back again, asking more daft questions. I couldn’t see the point so I more or less told him to go away. If he wants to pay more, that’s up to him.
The workshop took up most of the day. It’s just gone five now and the day is in danger of slipping away. I tried to get on line first thing this morning, but Virgin were having problems and I couldn’t. It’ so frustrating when that happens and makes me realise how dependent  I’ve become on technology.  Fortunately it was working by the time I came home.
It’s to hot to work in the garden so I’ll leave that til later and try to get another thousand words written in the book. I want to get started on the next in my series of writing guides but you can only do one thing at a time, more’s the pity.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Not much progress made

Today has been a muddle of people coming and going, getting in the way, and then having to clear up afterwards. The bathroom is done (sort of) but I can’t use it until the sealer has set, so it’s back to the sink. It doesn’t look great at the moment because I have to finish it off myself – find a tile border, wallpaper, put down floor tiles and so on, but the new black wall tiles look really good.
Tomorrow I’m going to a workshop on screen writing. It’s not something I’ve any experience of so hopefully I’ll learn something. It’s being run by Sal Fulcher but the name means nothing to me. Maybe I’ll have a quick google before I go.I'm sure it will be good. It's been organised by my writers group - Leeds Writers Circle. The Club is one of the oldest clubs in England with over 60 members and it's workshops are always worth a look. Better still, they only cost £2! .
This afternoon, somebody emailed querying why my critique service was so cheap, compared to some that are available. I guess he thought if it’s cheap, it can’t be any good. I explained my reasoning at some length. It will be interesting to see if he comes back to me.
It’s been so hot today. The garden is looking parched so when it gets cooler, I’ll have to go and water it when all I really want to do is put my feet up and watch Dexter (I borrowed season 3 from Blockbusters.)

Sunshine and peacocks

So far I’ve spent the day doing routine, boring things, like trawling through my stock of stories, looking for something to send My Weekly. I’m only allowed to send one a month so need to make sure I choose well. It’s gloriously sunny, so I sat outside for a while, reading the stories in That’s Life fiction feast, an Australian magazine I sometimes sell too. I’m going back outside now to finish it. There are 22 stories and I’m doing a brief analysis so that I can target them more effectively.
Saw my first peacock butterfly of the year, then saw another. Wonderful.
Lots to do. I won’t be on line much today as the electrician is due sometime to link up the shower to the main box and I don’t want to be in the middle of something when he arrives.
Just when I thought Mum was quiet, she called last night, six times. It was the same thing over and over, can she come and stay? How does she get to Leeds? I used to answer al her questions, over and over. Now I tell her that she would need to get somebody to help her. More often than not, she slams the phone down on me when I say that.
Still all quiet on the legal front.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


Only one more day to go and the bathroom will be done. 
I can use the bath tonight, thank goodness, as I’ve just spent an hour in the garden, putting in peas, but have to make sure not to splash the grout.
This morning, rather than get caught up in the book or emails or anything else, I sat down and drafted a couple of new short stories. I've sold two this week, so it's vital to make up the mumbers as soon as possible. I’m not sure if they’re any good yet, as that doesn’t usually become clear until the second draft. It made a a change, getting away from the computer for a while. I've always preferred to write fiction with a pen and paper. I can’t explain why.
No word from Mum since Sunday. 
The day care has obviously made a big difference as since it started, the phone calls have dropped off. As she was calling me when she was upset, mostly with Denis, I’m sure that being apart from him, for at least part of the time, must be helping. If things could stay like this, it would be wonderful, but they won't. Eventually, I'll find out what Mum said to her solicitor, and whether or not she wants me in her life. Then it will be time to make up my mind, once and for all, what to do about it.

Short listed

I’m not going to be on line much today. The electrician is due to work on the shower etc  and I don’t want to risk being cut off in mid flow.
Writers News has just arrived. I was pleased to discover that I was short listed in their story competition.
I haven’t been entering these lately – I didn’t feel it was right as I’m a professional, but with markets closing and competition increasing, I decided to try and win at least once, just to prove that I could.
When I first started writing fiction, I entered most months and was shortlisted several times but never won a prize. I didn’t mind. Some of those stories went on to be sold to Woman’s Weekly. Plus, I enjoy working to a deadline and having a theme to work with. For the past few months, entry’s been free, so I hope people won’t mind if I have a go.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Start of a new tax year

It’s been such a warm, sunny day, the temptation to go outside was almost overwhelming, until I remembered that until the men have finished work, I don’t have a bath or a shower. So I went to B and Q instead and bought some tiles for the floor. Very exciting, I don’t think but it was better thinking about my tax return. I need to be in the right mood to face that.
The board games group this afternoon wasn’t a lot of fun. Too many volunteers! When I got there, everything was already set up which is MOST unusual.
Writing wise, I’ve done nothing but work on the book today. The word count is rising rapidly. I keep at it, I will have the first draft finished by the end of the month, at which time I will start looking for an agent. One thing’s certain, I won’t be going back to my old agent. 
This time I want somebody I can actually talk to.


The sun is shining.
I have two men, working in the bathroom, doing what I’m sure will be an excellent job. My solicitor is away until Thursday. Since Mum has started going to the day centre twice a week, she doesn’t call me anywhere near as often as she used to. Right now, if I shut my eyes, I can almost imagine that life is good and normal and that there’s nothing for me to worry about.
I’ve just had a terrible feeling of de ja vu, which I’ll ignore.
I’ve been working on the book again this morning and making good progress. Now it’s time to stop. This afternoon I’m going to  the board games group where I’ve been volunteering for quite a while. It used to be on Thursdays and has just been moved so I have no idea who will be there, volunteers wise, or even if I’ll be needed.
I’ll have to wait and see, but if I’m not needed anymore, I’ll have to find something else to do.
When I get home, I really must try to do some ‘new’ writing. The trouble is there are lots of other things I need to do, like sort out a story for my once a month submission to My Weekly, and work on my next Writers Forum column so that Carol doesn’t have to chase me again. I also want to plant some more potatoes!
It’s amazing how an hour in the garden makes me forget all my worries and cares. 
For me, there’s nothing like watching things grow, especially from seed.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Elephants and stairs

I feel as though I’m running out of steam, or to quote one of my favourite groups (REM), pushing an elephant up the stairs. .  
I was meant to be going out tonight, but I couldn’t face it. Today I wrote about some sad and upsetting times in the not too distant past and became quite upset. I’m wondering why I’m putting myself through this. If I tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, will people think badly of me? The trouble is, I’ve spent too much time, wasted too many chances, not doing things in case people disapprove. I know that if I’d stood up for myself sooner, I wouldn’t be in the mess I’m in now.
I’ve managed to talk myself out of things before which explains why I have at least six partly written novels in the computer, and only one completed one.
I’ve sold two stories today – one to The Weekly News and one to my best market, Take a Break’s Fiction Feast, but even that didn’t cheer me up. I could really use a holiday. I’ve been waiting for my local coach holiday to make me an offer I can’t refuse. I want to spend a couple of days in Liverpool as I’ve never been there but whenever a possibility does come up, it clashes with dog sitting or something in the diary.
Often when I get to the end of the day, I feel as though I haven’t done very much. Today I’ve added 1500 words to the book making 14000 so far, done the next lesson for one of my writing pupils and a critique of a 2000 word story, and I’ve made those  two sales, but it still doesn’t seem like enough.  Maybe I really DO need a holiday.

Feedback, lessons and tiles

Speaking to the solicitor last night didn’t upset me as much as I thought it would.
I was fairly sure his letter wouldn’t get the response I wanted. I was more annoyed that he’d left it so late in the day before contacting me. I had a very bad night, all the same. Just couldn’t sleep.  
In a peculiar kind of way, I’m glad this legal business is dragging on. Whatever the answer turns out to be, I’ll need to decide what to do next. it's hard to explain, but it’s easier to write the bulk of the book, not knowing what’s going to happen. It makes it easier to simply say it how it is. .
I keep telling myself I’ll find time to write some fresh short stories for Take a Break, but so far that isn’t happening. My priority at the moment is working on the book about Mum. I’ve managed to rewrite a few old stories from years back so that I can keep posting things out, but I can’t carry on doing that for much longer.
This morning, I did a critique. Somebody sent me a two thousand word story, aimed at Take a Break and wanted me to give them some pointers. Next I have to look at my pupil’s homework and write the next lesson for her.
I have two pupils and although it’s hard work, I’ve always enjoyed helping people to get more out of their writing. After all, if nobody had helped me, I would still be sending out stories with no idea as to why they kept coming back.
All’s quiet upstairs at the moment. There’s just one man in the bathroom today, tiling and plumbing away like a beaver.
It’s going to be such a big improvement. I can hardly wait until it’s all done.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mothers' Day

It’s just gone  two and I haven’t called her yet.
I sent a card.
I will call her eventually, even though she won’t remember five minutes later. It’s what daughters do.
I’ve spent the morning working on the book. It’s bringing back all kinds of memories which have remained peacefully sleeping for years. Many writers say that they use their own lives as material. That’s something I’ve never done, and always resisted doing mainly because my memories aren’t exactly upbeat, a quality my main markets want in a work of fiction. So I’ve always used my imagination, pretending to be other people. It’s why I write fiction, as a means of escape from my life.
Writing a factual account is both easy and hard. Easy because I don’t have to plan a plot. Hard because I’ve tried not to remember many things that have happened to me, and looking back is painful.
I keep wondering why I’m doing this. There’s a good chance nobody will ever read the book so why bother as it’s so painful? But I know the answer to that one. I have to do it for me. Thanks to Lulu I can get the book printed and send it to all those people who jumped to conclusions, who judged me without ever hearing my side of the story.
Today I’ve been writing about my father – how he was committed and sent to a mental hospital, and then about his funeral five years later. All the feelings I felt back then are coming back, the sadness, the guilt, the anger, the sheer hypocrisy of people but I have to admit that so far, it’s not hurting as badly as I thought it would. Maybe it’s doing me some good, finally getting it all down on paper. I hope so anyway.
I’ve just passed the ten thousand word mark so it’s time to stop working for a while and do some gardening.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Working on the book is hard

Now that I’ve started to write a book about Mum and me, I want to get it finished and out of the way. This morning I wrote three thousand words. By the time I’d done that, I felt drained and had to stop. I’ve always avoided looking back into my past as I find it upsetting, so it’s no surprise that I’m finding tackling this book difficult. I’m going to try and write a thousand words a day, preferably at the beginning of the day so I can then take a break and come back to writing later, feeling refreshed. 
That’s the plan anyway.