Monday, 31 October 2011


It's October 31st.
I have started work on sorting out my problems and have made an appointment to see somebody tomorrow. I'm not going to talk about this here as this blog is meant to be about writing. I've started a new, anonmymous, blog to give me some space.
I hope I can live two lives. One as a writer, and the other as a woman who needs to sort out so many things.
Now to have something to eat as I'm starving. WHy they bother with chnaging the clocks I'll never know. It takes me days to settle back down again.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Clean up

I’ve just been giving the house a thorough clean now Rocky’s gone home.
I have no more dogs booked in for the rest of the year.
Not much more to say except that I made my favourite lemon ice cream. Back to work tomorrow, I hope.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Writing a letter

The virus that has laid me low is in retreat at last but the general malaise that has been hanging over me for more than a year is still very much alive and kicking.
If you have been following this blog since it started you will know that I have had long term problems with my mother and that she is now living in a home, suffering from severe dementia.

The relationship ending so suddenly ( I was not told she was being moved to a home, nor was I given the opportunity to try to look after her myself) rocked my world, far more than I had realised. Now I see that the problem has not ‘gone away’ and that I need to deal with it, once and for all. This will probably mean more therapy, and more expense but unless I give this one last try, I might as well give up. My writing has been so badly affected, I’m not going to make sales to high paying markets unless I take time to work this through. So today I wrote to the home where my mother now lives.
The following is a shortened version of that letter.

‘I was waiting to see if Mum ever asked to call me. It’s been several months now and that has not happened.

Having my mother put into a home without being consulted, and without having the chance to try and take care of her myself devastated me. I spent my whole life trying to get my mother to show me some love and never succeeded. Now I know that is never going to happen.

Whatever you may think of me is up to you. Only my mother and I can know the truth.
All I can say is this. My mother was not there for me when I was a child. As a result, I have been in and out of therapy for decades. There is no point in me trying to be there for her when it is clear she no longer needs me. It’s time I tried to take care of myself which means staying away.

That said, I am still her daughter and would very much appreciate it if you could let me know if anything happens to her.

Thank you for taking care of her so well.’

I'm going to post it in the morning.

I hope that by sending this letter I can start to move on. I will be keeping a record of my journey but as it’s going to be hard, and very personal, I will not be sharing the details on the blog. Instead I will be keeping a journal on my PC. Having written that letter has already made me feel slightly lighter.

Now to try and get some work done. As my stories aren’t working for me at the moment, I’m going to stick with the non fiction for a while so back to the book.

Friday, 28 October 2011

On the mend

I feel a lot better today, so I’ll take it easy over the weekend, and hopefully be back to full speed on Monday. Rocky goes home tomorrow. I’ve just got used to having him here. Managed to get out this afternoon for a walk round Temple Newsam. Lovely weather, amazing light.

Thursday, 27 October 2011


I have nothing worth saying today apart from I worked on the book and I still feel bad.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Struggling to get well

Yesterday I battled into town for my appointment with Relate, feeling dreadful. My plan was to take a look at the shoe shop I’d found out about via a talk at Heydays (I need wide shoes) but when I got there I felt so bad, I couldn’t be bothered so I wandered around, ending up in the church next to the Relate office. I sat in the chapel for a while then had a chat with a kind man on the desk. They have a drop in service where you can talk to somebody for free so I might give that a go next week. It has the benefit of being free unlike Relate.
In the Relate session, the very nice lady (Julia) suggested that I’ve gone through a bereavement as my relationship with my mother has effectively been terminated, not by her death, but by her going into a home. Julia said that the grieving process has to be gone through and I can’t rush it, so maybe starting on the pills was a good idea. She also suggest getting a book called Rescuing the inner child, so I’ve just ordered that via eBay.
Back to yesterday, I was expecting Rocky, another chocolate Labrador who I’d taken care of back in February, to arrive around five. He turned up at ten which I really didn’t need as I was getting ready to go out. The agency had given me the wrong time. It’s not the first time either. It didn’t matter that much, but if he’d arrived at eleven, nobody would have been home.
Last time Rocky was here, he was as good as gold. This time he’s changed, barking when he wants something which he didn’t do before. This morning he didn’t want his breakfast and his insides were sounding like a broken down cement mixer. Obviously he’s feeling a bit under par, just like me.
I was meant to be going to the Adventure day at Heydays this morning but I’m just not up to it. I was so looking forward to it too. It’s meant to be a chance to get to try new activities and meet people from different classes, but there’s no point going when I feel bad. I’d hate anyone else to catch this virus.
Now to try and get some work done. Not much mind.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Went back to the doctor

I have a virus and feel half dead. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Fed up being ill

I’ve been working, trying to ignore the sore throat and annoying cough that are stubbornly refusing to shift. I’ve achieved 2000 new words on the book, entered the Sunday Times National Short Story Award and started work on my entry for the SWWJ Life Writing Competition. Now I’ve had enough. So many bits of me ache, it’s time to crash. Please let me be better by Tuesday!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Starting to recover, I hope!

I spent the morning in bed, reading another batch of NAWG short stories. The standard is really good, it’s going to make sorting them difficult.
I think (fingers crossed) that whatever it is I have is waning. There’s a saying, three days coming, three days here, three days going, so if that’s true I’ll be fighting fit for Tuesday.
I’m not sure what to do now as I don’t feel up to being creative. I’ll think I’ll go back to the Write Place competition and work on the judging report, then I’ll do some jigsaw and maybe watch a film, it is the weekend after all.

Friday, 21 October 2011


Last night was worse than ever. Not only did lying down make me cough, I felt sick and generally foul. I don’t know if that’s the bug or a reaction to the tablets. I will have to wait and see.
Rather than write the day off, I decided to start reading the NAWG competition entries as it’s going to take me quite a while. Stupidly I’m not getting paid for doing this, apart from any money for critiques (short crit £3 a go). I really need to stop doing so many things that take time but bring no reward but I wanted to help NAWG as they were having problems. The standard is remarkably high which is pleasantly surprising with some really good writing. Unfortunately there are quite a few stories that lack structure and are more like recalled memories or anecdotes than rounded fiction but at least that makes it easier for me to sort out a shortlist.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Pills, waiting list, or go private

My dodgy throat turned into a cough which stopped me sleeping, so I decided not to go to crossword class this afternoon, or evening class tonight.
Instead I made an appointment to see the doctor, not about my cold, but to see if I could get somebody to talk to without having to pay out. He told me that I could go on a waiting list for several months to speak to somebody or he could give me some pills or I could pay to see somebody privately. I took the pills option.
I’m sure if I’d tried to kill myself, I’d get to speak to somebody, but that’s the way it is.
I’m feeling so rough, if I was employed, I’d take a week off (and get paid) but I’m self employed so that option doesn’t apply. I managed a thousand words on the book, then read the Write Place short listed stories which I’m to judge. None of them jumped out as particularly brilliant which was a shame as that always makes choosing the winner much easier. I left them for half a day then read them again. I now have my top three and three highly commendeds. I might leave the report until tomorrow and have a look at some of the entries for the NAWG competition. I was going to leave them until after the closing date but it won’t hurt to do a first sift and it’s something I can manage to do, even when I’m feeling yuk.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

No snging, or playing, today

Last night, I went to a dinner shuffle with Spice Yorkshire, held at Create restaurant in the centre of Leeds. My sore throat made it hard for me to talk, which was annoying but
I was pleasantly surprised by the range of people attending - there was even one rather appealing man. Of course, the shuffle conspired never to let me sit anywhere near him so I will have to hope I see him again at another event. Right now I don’t even know if he’s single. The long and the short of it is that I’ve decided to join the organisation and try to get a place at their Christmas do (thanks again, Helen!).
That will make 5 Christmas dos I’m going to, but in my view you can’t have too many.
Today was my Heydays day. There was no point staying for the singing, thanks to me throat, so I left after lunch. Since then I’ve had a bit of a rest (I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since this bug landed) then tackled some reading. I was asked to judge the short list of the recent Write Place competition so if you entered, now is the time to bribe me! (Don’t worry, I’m joking.)
I’ve just read all the entries. I will go back to them later and the ones that stick in my mind after a second reading, will make the short list.
My new digital keyboard is sitting on a chair, alone and unloved. I’m waiting for a time when my loathsome lodger is out so that I can play it without feeling embarrassed.
For now, it’s back to the book for which the end (of the first draft at least) is in sight.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Treating myself (and some)

This morning I went to Relate, not about my troubled relationship with my lodger, but about my mother. It’s too complicated to put into words, but since she’s been in the home, and I’m having no contact with her, I’ve felt bereaved. I went from talking to her up to three dozen times a day, to nothing at all. She has been the most important person in my life. It has hurt me more than I can ever hope to explain that decisions about her care were taken out of my hands on the basis of lies and misunderstandings.
I need somebody to tell me that what I did was all right, that I tried my hardest to do what was best, and that she is in the best place. More than that, I need somebody to say that I’m not a terrible daughter, that even though her carer, my aunts, her solicitor and social services have found me wanting, they have been deceived.
I have to sort this out soon because my story telling ability is still being adversely affected. I can tell that by the sales I haven’t been getting from my main market, Fiction Feast/TAB. Some people write best when they are under stress or sad. I write best when I’m feeling O.K. Right now, I don’t feel that way, and my stories are coming out flat.
The woman at Relate thinks they might be able to help me, so I’ve booked another session next week.
Afterwards, I felt a bit fraught, so I decided to treat myself. I bought a couple of dresses from TK Max then spotted a music shop. I intended just to have a browse and came out with a Yamaha digital keyboard. Losing my piano was one of my biggest mistakes and I’ve wanted a replacement for a long time now. I had a grotty little keyboard which I found at a boot sale but it didn’t ‘feel’ like a piano and I never played it. I was never much good but bashing out a tune helped me relax. I hope it will again. I bought some really easy music too so that I should be able to play it. It’s been a long long time. …..
Tonight, it’s back into town for a meal with Spice. I wasn’t sure I’d be going anywhere today I was awake at 2, and again at 4 with a terrible sore throat, but it feels a bit better now.
Wish me luck!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Feeling under par

I felt poorly within hours of Louis going home and woke up with a raging sore throat and a cough. I was meant to go to the Writers Club tonight, but decided against. I’m seriously glad I did as the weather has suddenly turned foul – high winds and pelting rain.
I spent most of the day working on my second collection of crime stories. It’s more or less ready. I just need to print it off and take it to my tame proof reader. I also printed out the new book I’ve been working on for the best six weeks to see where the gaps are and to basically go through it. It’s looking quite good and I’m feeling quite pleased about the way it’s going. I only hope my potential publisher feels the same way.
Apart from that, I found 2 stories that might be suitable for the People’s Friend and printed them ready to submit. I spent several hours yesterday analysing six copies of the magazine so hopefully I now have a better idea what they might want to buy.
I’ve also been trying to find another pet agency that I can board dogs through. So far no luck. If I want to go it alone, the insurance costs around £84 a year that together with the licence fee hardly makes it worth doing, but I’d hate not to see Louis again.
Now I’ve had enough. I feel like going to bed, but getting too much sleep doesn’t work for me. Instead, I’m going to watch University Challenge and Only Connect and see how I feel after that.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

My best dog has gone home

I've added 1300 words to the book, said goodbye to Louis, and done a massive clean up. Now I need to make up the bed, sans hairs, and start some serious People's friend research, i.e. read as many o ftheir stories as I can find and analyse them, whilst watching the repeat of the Grand Prix (and trying not to cry).
I know it's daft, but having a dog to talk to is such a help. I can talk to my lodger and get less of a reaction, or, as is often the case, ignored or snapped at. Louis let me talk to him any time I liked and he never once disagreed with me. It was so soothing to wake in the middle of the night and hear him snoring!
If I write any more I'll cry, so I'm going to sign off and get reading.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Book now at 40000 words

I wrote another 1200 words of the book then switched over to my next story collection. Byker books are hoping to publish my first book of crime stories on Kindle before Christmas so I wanted to make a start on the follow up. I’ve chosen the stories and more or less put the book together. All it needs now is checking and laying out properly.
As it was such a nice day, I went out with Louis to Temple Newsam for a long walk. It feels like he’s been here for ever, and I really don’t want him to leave, but I’m sure his owners would have something to say abut that.
I’m going to do my couch potato act now – Strictly, Harry Hill, and the shows I missed during the week due to going out, most notably House.

Friday, 14 October 2011

hard to stay awake

I went to my first evening class in York last night. The course I wanted (Edwardian Children’s Literature) was cancelled so I switched to the Making of Post War Britain. I’m not that interested in history but it turned out to be quite interesting, probably because I hadn’t known much about the period before. The only problem was, I felt so tired, I had to concentrate on staying awake. I’d been out late the night before, and also on Monday. I’m going to see King Lear tonight and feeling very excited about it. I love live entertainment. I’m sure I’ll have no problems staying awake for that. I haven’t been to the theatre by myself since I saw Dave Allen back in the 1980s.
Mind you, Louis did get me up at five this morning which didn’t help. It’s funny how easy it is to forgive animals and how hard it can be to forgive people. Louis could make all kinds of mess, throw up in my slippers, cover me in bruises with his hard and very bony elbows and keep me wake half the night, but I’d still love him.
I wish he wasn’t going home on Sunday.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Writing a book

I’m trying a risky strategy, i.e. working on the new book and leaving the stories for a while. I hope it pays off. I’ve done thirty four thousand words so far, of which two thousand have been written today.
This morning I made an appointment to see somebody at Relate. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to speak to somebody about the way things went with my mother so that I can find some kind of closure. Basically, I need somebody to tell me that the steps I’ve taken, i.e. walking away was an OK thing to do. Right now, my story writing is suffering thanks to my low mood. I can sell to markets like My Weekly and Yours, but the better paying markets (Woman’s Weekly and Take a Break) are, currently eluding me and I’m sure my mental state has a lot to do with that. I’m dreading the day Louis goes home. He’s been such a help, I’m going to miss him so much.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Monday 10th October

I’m seriously worried by my lack of sale to Fiction Feast. I know my writing took a bit of a dip earlier this tear, but I’d hoped I was back on form. I will have to try harder. I managed another 1500 words on the book but didn’t get much else done today. Tomorrow is full of all kinds of distractions, including the local Good Neighbours AGM and lunch and the gardening club so I’ll have to try to squeeze in some writing time somewhere or another. Tonight I’ve been volunteered to take part in the quiz. I usually have the job of asking the questions which I enjoy. We’re playing the best team tonight so we’re not expected to win which does take the pressure off at least.
My mood has turned black again today. Probably not helped by the less than enthusiastic reception my offer to run a workshop received on Saturday.
In one of the talks, a woman listed the six things every writer needs, one of which was support. I wish she hadn’t said it because that’s definitely something I’m not getting enough of at the moment.
I tweaked a story for the People's Friend at the weekend and the fiction editor says it's OK now. Now I have to wait for it to be approved by the editor before I can call it a sale.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Working hard

I’ve spent most of today, apart from when I watched the Grand Prix (recorded, not live. It started at seven a.m.) working on the new book. I’m keeping a graph of my daily output of new words to see how much new writing I’m doing each day so that I can, hopefully, feel a sense of achievement. Plus I’ll be able to see whether or not I’m getting the balance right. Today I managed 2000 words.
I’m aiming for at least 1000 a day average so that’s a good start.
Now to move some furniture.

Saturday in Halifax

I went to my writing day at Halifax yesterday. I’d almost cancelled because I was worried about the dogs and whether my lodger would manage to supervise them effectively. I decided to go when both dogs spent most of Friday evening ignoring each other, most of the time, sleeping.
I had to get up early as I was catching the 8.10 train and had to feed both dogs, separately, before I went – given half a chance Louis would have eaten all Ted’s food too. The journey to Halifax was straightforward apart from the train being eleven minutes late meaning that I arrived at the venue with seconds to spare before the opening talk started and missed out on the tea and coffee. The day was part of the Calderdale Roadshow which puts on all kinds of literary events. I’d wanted to have a look see with the idea of maybe running a workshop or giving a talk. Sadly, that doesn’t seem very likely. The workshops were good but very worthy, with much discussion of books I’ve never heard of let alone read.
In the lunch break, I had a word with the woman who runs the events. I’d emailed her at least twice, asking about taking part but had had no reply. When I told her what I did for a living, she said, and I quote, ‘half the people here wouldn’t be interested.’ So that put me in my place.
I noticed that the tutors didn’t mingle with the rest of us which made me think of standing in the queue at Swanwick next to Ian (M) Banks who was chatting away to all and sundry.
I didn’t want to sit through the talk on how to get published so I went for a walk, after phoning to make sure the dogs were OK.
Having never been to Halifax I wanted to see what the shops were like. Not bad was the answer. It looks like somewhere I’d definitely want to explore especially as the return train fare was less than a fiver. On my way back to the library I passed a charity stall where I bought 8, yes 8, useful books for £1.
In the afternoon session which was talking about using different viewpoints to tell a story, I mentioned that my choice of viewpoint was often governed by which magazine I intended to submit it to. To that the tutor replied that markets were not something she wanted to discuss, they weren’t appropriate to the session.
Oh well, at least I tried.
The sessions were useful though, but rather heavy going and I’m not sure if many people came away with very much.
I was home just after six. Ted’s owners had been to collect him and all was well. I decided to take the rest of the day off as I’d done some writing on the train. Whether I’ll go to any more of those events will remain to be seen.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Good news from The People's Friend.

After a nervous couple of hours, the dogs are getting along well enough, in other words, they’re both half asleep. Ted is on his bed and Louis is cuddled up to whichever human happens to be nearby.
I’ve even managed to get some work done. The new book is up to 100 pages and as I’m aiming for 200, that means I’m half way there which is good. I’ve also had an email from Shirley Blair at The People’s Friend saying she’s passed one of my stories to the editor for approval and wants me to tweak another one (which I did straightaway).
With any luck, I could be about to get my first ever sale to that market which will be great. I have a short listing in Writers News this month, and I’ve just been told that I have a story I the Oct 8th edition of The Weekly News. Nothing in Fiction Feast, again. Those months when I wasn’t writing well are certainly coming back to haunt me now but their effects should soon be wearing off.
Now to get ready for my day in Halifax tomorrow, then I’m going to sit down and hug my favourite Labrador.

Two different dogs

My neighbours’ greyhound arrived half an hour ago.
I’ve been keeping the dogs apart. Now my lodger’s taken Louis out for a walk I thought I could do some work but Ted (the greyhound) is whimpering. I’m guessing he’s missing his companion who died not long ago. I think he’s going to want more company than I can give him typing so I might have to do something else today.
Tomorrow I’m booked on a writing day in Halifax. My lodger is under strict instructions regarding the dogs. I just hope I can trust him, but there’s not much else I can do.
Hopefully by tomorrow, the worst will be over and the dogs will be getting along fine.
Fingers crossed anyway.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Writers Forum column and a long story finished

My first task today was to write my column for Writers Forum. Once that’s was done, I worked on a three thousand word story which I finished this afternoon and will post to Fiction Feast tomorrow.
There were only four at the crossword class today which is not good. I hope a few more drift back soon as I wouldn’t want the class to stop. On my way home I popped into Wilson’s and bought two of their wonderful turkey legs, one to freeze, and one for Saturday. . They make other turkey seem like cardboard.
I’m hoping to get some work done on the book tomorrow but with my neighbour’s greyhound arriving, I’m not sure how. I’m going to have to make sure the two dogs are either supervised or separated as the last thing I want is an accident. Both dogs seem friendly enough but you never really know for sure. I wish I’d been able to say no, but they’re going to a good friend’s funeral all the way down in Kent so they have to stay overnight. They don’t trust anyone else with their dog. It’s either me look after him or they don’t go. Hobson’s choice strikes again.
More positive news – House is back on Sky One tonight! At last something worth watching.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Too busy for a day off

I decided not to go to Heydays today.
I’ve got so much to do, especially as I’m not going to be able to get much done on Friday. I’ll have to watch over the dogs and make sure they don’t decide to eat each other.
More news on the dogs front. A Labrador I looked after a few months ago is coming back for four days at the end of the month. He was zero trouble so he’s more than welcome. Unlike Louis, he doesn’t have to get up at six in the morning!
I sent a new story to TAB this morning, then carried on working on the longer story. It’s about done now and has come out just under 3000 words. I’ll take another look at it tomorrow morning and see if it’s ready to send.
I also sent some Christmas stories to OZ. It might be too late, but it’s worth a try as it doesn’t seem that TAB want to buy any. I also sent my once a month sub to My Weekly.
Tomorrow I want to get my Writers Forum column out of the way THEN I can get back to the book which I’d really like to have finished by the end of October.
I also need to put another story collection together, ready to go on Kindle. Help, I need a cook, bottle washer, cleaner, record keeper, gardener and tea/coffee maker! If I had enough money, I’d gladly pay for one.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

New book ready for sale

I finished another story, Valentine’s Day for a change. Now I’m working on a longer one.
The brown bin (garden rubbish) gets collected tomorrow so I decided I’d better fill it up, that meant spending a couple of hours in the garden, hacking things down. I haven’t been out there for ages which, sadly, shows. Next year will be better, I hope.
My new writers guide on the subject of fillers is now with the powers that be at Lulu and if all’s well, they will help to market it and it will gone on sale on Amazon. See my books page for more information and my web site if you want to buy a copy. I only have a few for sale as I’m waiting for Lulu’s approval before ordering any more.
I thought adding an ISBN number would be difficult but it hasn’t proved to be as complicated as I expected, so I’ll wait and see if I’ve done this one right and think about adding ISBN numbers to my other books too.
I should be going to heydays tomorrow but I have so much to do – my column for Writers Forum, choosing which story to send to My Weekly for my October submission, working on my next, longer, book, finishing stories, and so on, I might give it a miss. I could only go for the morning anyway because Louis’s here. He really is a darling. Even though he does get me out of bed at half past six every morning.
When he wags his tail, his whole body shakes like a jelly.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Last minute call

I had a call a while ago to say the quiz league is starting again tonight and was I free to play or ask the questions. Apparently the man organising the team had forgotten all about it. I was going to work, but I’m so desperate for somebody to talk to now that I’m not going to the writing club anthology launch, so I said OK.
I’ve been working on 2 new stories. One is almost there, the other still needs typing up, but it’s not looking bad. Maybe an evening out will do me good though I must say the weather looks very iffy.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

King Alfred impressions

I intended to spend the day reading, catching up on the writing magazines that have piled up and all the other things (magazines, short story collections) I really should get round to but after a while, the urge to back to working on the book became hard to resist.
So I decided to add another thousand words hoping that will then allow me to stop and do something else.
Half way through I decided to bake some flapjacks. While they were cooking I went back to work and forgot about them. They were so black, they had to go in the bin.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

1st October, hot hot hot

I was up early which was just as well as Louis arrived half an hour earlier than expected. His owner just dropped him and disappeared. As usual, he already looks as though he’s been here for ever. Such a relaxed, happy dog.
I finished another story which I sent to Take a Break, then sent two more to Oz, and 2 to People’s Friend. I’ve never sold to PF so I’d really like to have at least one story published by them.
After that, I finished my pickled onions (4 jars, all for me) then carried on with the book. I’m about a third of the way through the first draft which puts me on target. It’s been so hot today. Such weird weather, it’s hard to know what to do. I’m glad Louis prevented me from going to the Ilkey rehearsal as I don’t think I’d have coped well in the heat.
I’ve just watched Strictly. Not bad for a first week. Now to decide what to do for the rest of the evening. I think I’ll do another half hour then call it a day.