Saturday, 31 March 2012

I expected to be celebrating today


The Writer’s Treasury of Ideas goes on sale today, and what am I doing to celebrate that fact? Searching filing cabinets for birth, marriage and death certificates. I was really low this morning, feeling as though I couldn’t cope and would rather be dead, then it would be somebody else’s problem. The Co–op sent a list of papers they would want to see before quoting for doing the probate and it included things like my father’s and Gareth’s death certificates. It all felt like a bit too much.
I feel a lot calmer now and can see I was just reacting to being plunged back into the past.
I’m fairly sure I’ve made the decision to stick with the solicitor in Exeter rather than going elsewhere. In the end, at least as far as I’m concerned, it’s not about cost, it’s about convenience. Denis knows the firm and I need his help and co–operation if I want this to go smoothly and quickly. My plan is to go to Mum’s house and stuff every piece of paper that might have some relevance into a large bag and take the whole lot to the solicitor.
One thing I do know for certain is that if I make it through this with a bit of cash left over, I’m going to take a holiday as soon as I have a window.  

Not coping very well


The Co–op who also want to quote for probate and estate services sent me a very long list of documentation they would like to see in order to quote (the solicitor in Exeter says it could cost two or three thousand pounds, maybe more).  
It makes me wonder how people cope. The last thing you need when somebody dies is to end up owing money to a solicitor. The problem is that, for me, the past was a bad unhappy place. Everything I’ve done this past six months has been with a view to looking forward and letting go of the past. Now I have to wade back through it.
I just want it to end.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Counting down the days


I was meant to be going to the theatre tonight but had to send John in my place as I don’t feel well enough to go out. It was either give it to him or waste the ticket.
With 18 days to go to the funeral, I think it’s going to feel like a very long time. If the weather lasts, I’ll be able to do some much–needed work in the garden, if it doesn’t, I have wallpaper removing to do in the kitchen and lots of other tidying up jobs to keep me busy. I papered the rest of the chimney breast this morning, and had two phone calls, right when I was doing the most complicated fiddly bit round the mantelpiece. I don’t think I’ve done a bad job. It helps when you use decent quality wallpaper. 
I also went to the station and bought the train tickets, then booked the hotel in Exeter for two nights,  so those jobs are out of the way.
Tomorrow is March 31st, the day that my book officially goes on sale. I had planned to mark the event in some way,  maybe with a nice meal and some bubbly, but that’s not going to happen now. I have a 99p bottle of fizzy from Lidl which will have to do instead.
I signed the new will today and asked two of my neighbours to witness it. That’s now gone off in the post which is one weight off my mind. If something happens to me, then Denis gets the house which gives him some security.
Even though all’s well as regards the financial side of things i.e. I will be able to pay the outstanding fees without too much trouble, it’s hard not to slip into regret/brood mode. So many things were handled badly or not at all by the social workers involved in Mum’s case, I’m not sure what to do about it.
I’ll have to see how I feel after the funeral.
Right now I feel very very weary, and a bit weepy. I wish I could just shake myself and get on with my life, but I can’t. My life will just have to stay on hold for a bit longer. That said, I’m managing to stay clear of the depression trap which is wonderful. I think the sunshine has helped.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Is Denis Mum's partner and if he is....


I’m wallowing in legal sludge. 
My mother has died with £32,200 care homes fees outstanding. For some reason, no money has been taken, not even half Mum’s pension and as that was paid into a joint account, they could have accessed it easily. Now she is dead, all the money in the account belongs to Denis. It’s madness.
Next problem - look on any web site – Age Concern, CAB, even Devon County Council’s own and it says that where a partner remains living in the house, the house is not counted as capital, but when you come to check that, suddenly it’s not quite so simple, and needs investigation.  
Not only did they take no money from Mum’s pension, they didn’t take out Deputyship either. I’ve also been informed that my not being allowed to register the EPA should only have happened if that EPA had been revoked by my mother, which I’m 99% certain isn’t the case because if it were, the solicitor would simply have said so at the time.
In short, I’ve been plunged back into another nightmare, full of stress and sleepless nights all because the law is an ass.
The one good piece of news is that there is no charge against the house so they won’t be able to force a sale and will have to wait for me and I’ve no intention of selling until Denis wants to leave or he dies.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The funeral isn't until the 16th of April


I feel a lot worse today. Not sleeping doesn’t help. The funeral is on 16th April, so how I’m going to hang on until then, no idea. 
When I spoke to Denis, he told me that Social Services DIDN’T take out a deputyship after all which means none of the paperwork will have been touched, let alone sorted. Apparently, there’s £36,000 to pay as the council have been paying the care home.
When I heard that, I went into panic mode, thinking I might have to sell Mum’s house after all. I went out to check train times and finding the booking office shut, I went into Good Neighbours who gave me tea and sympathy and somebody to talk to. When I came home I felt calmer and decided to browse the internet to see if I could find out more about the legal position. IF I’m right, the law says that the house doesn’t count as capital if a partner is still living there, which Denis is. It also says that some capital (£14,000 approx) has to be left untouched, presumably so that the family can pay for the funeral and any other fees. If that’s the case, then I’ll be able to pay everything without dipping into my own savings, plus have a bit left over. I’ve asked the solicitor for clarification but it was after five by that time. Hopefully he will reply tomorrow. If I’ve read the situation right, I’ll be able to relax a bit which might make waiting until the 16th easier to bear.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Waiting


I was hoping for news about the funeral, but nothing’s happened. I don’t want to hassle Denis when he’s so poorly so will leave him in peace today and call tomorrow. I’ve been trying to keep my mind off things by decorating and pottering about in the garden, but it’s not working that well.
Sa my therapist this morning which was very useful as she’s helped me see some things far more clearly re the funeral.
I’m going to sign off now and see if I can squeeze in a nap as I haven’t been sleeping.

Monday, 26 March 2012

No funeral date yet but at least I'm going.


I spoke to Denis again today (he has a rotten cold and is now on anti–biotics) and asked if it was OK with him if I went to the funeral. He said yes, and I could stay at the house but the beds were covered in boxes. He’d been told by Social Services that the money was running out for Mum’s fees and he’d have to move so the house could be sold. I was livid. He’s 85! Once my head clears, I’m going to make a formal complaint about the way Social Services have handled everything. If they’d responded sensibly, I would never have had problems with Denis in the first place.
I don’t have a date for the funeral yet as the death certificate hadn’t arrived at the funeral directors. I plan to stay overnight, either before or after, according to the time of the service so that I can squeeze in a visit to the solicitor. I’ve asked him to write me a new will leaving Denis Mum’s house in case I should die before he does. I want him to feel secure. The only problem is I’m going to have to ask him to pay rent, otherwise owning the house will cost me money as it’s going to need maintenance and so on. I might ask the solicitor to tackle that problem for me. 
In case the funeral takes place soon, while I have the dogs here, I've written out a detailed, step by step guide and asked John if he will take care of them. We had a trial run this evening and it seemed to go OK. I'm going to let him tackle it again tomorrow morning while I'm seeing my therapist. It's meant to be my last appointment where we look at my progress and ways to prevent a future relapse. We hadn't counted on  my mother dying.
Tonight is my writers’ club’s AGM. I intended to go, especially as I’ve put forward a proposal for debate, but I’m simply not up to it. I’ve also cancelled Radio Leeds on Thursday. I’m sure if I tried to do an interview now, I’d end up in tears. I’m not sleeping  which doesn’t help.
Plugging the book will have to wait. All I can face doing at the moment are things like gardening, wandering round the shops and stripping wall paper that help to distract my thoughts from other things.  

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Phone call from Exeter


Since finding out that Mum had died, I haven’t know what to do or think. I’ve felt flat, as though somebody had driven several steamrollers over me.
I spent ages thinking about whether to go to the funeral or not. In the end I decided the answer was no. I simply couldn’t face going all that way and facing a lot of bad feeling. When Mum’s solicitor phoned on Friday, I asked him to let Denis (Mums’ carer, who lives in her house) know that I wanted him not to worry about the future, that he could stay in the house and so on. The solicitor must have conveyed my message rather well as Denis has just called. 
For the first time since August 2010, we had a proper conversation. He told me about Mum’s death, and how her GP, the same one who told my husband who died at 46 from a heart attack that his chest pains were indigestion, had visited her at the home and said she was fine. A different GP was called out the next day, and insisted she went into hospital. Why I wasn’t informed she was ill, I can only guess but thinking about that won't change anything. Whatever Denis has done, said or thought of me in the past is irrelevant. It’s now that’s important and if he’s willing to co–operate with me, that would be amazing.
He’s talking to the funeral directors tomorrow. Once he’s done that, I’ll give him a call and ask him if it would be OK if I could stay overnight at the house, then I would be able to go to the funeral. If I write every step of thier feeding plan and medication down on paper, and do a test run, John can take care of the dogs for a couple of days.
So that’s where I am. Flat but feeling much more hopeful now I’ve spoken to Denis. I’m not up to writing (again), so I’m going to do some decorating and gardening to keep me busy.
To everyone who’s commented, called or emailed, a great big huge thank you. I feel so alone right now. Fortunately, I can call on John who’s wiling to spend as much time with me as I want (right now ANYONE is a lot better than no–one) and with his help and yours, I WILL get through this.
I really can’t explain how much better I feel now, knowing that Denis is actually willing to talk to me. It’s like a miracle and I’m so grateful for it.

Friday, 23 March 2012

My mother has died


My mother died last night in hospital Nobody told me she was ill. I don’t think that short story is going to get written today, or tomorrow.




Depression is a deep dark lake and I'm still too close to the edge


I felt so tired yesterday, everything was a struggle. By the time it got to late afternoon, I really didn’t want to do a thing. I even missed my blog. I felt as though I’d done nothing all day. Living with depression is like walking round the edge of a deep dark pool. Miss your footing and you can go sliding back in. What’s worse, you always know it’s there, ready and waiting to envelop you. The trick is to move a bit further from the edge of the lake, but this takes action and effort and there are some days, like yesterday, when that’s too hard to do.
I really need to start writing fiction again, not just for the sake of my finances (I have no idea how much I’ll earn from the book), but also because the longer I leave it, the worse the fear that I can’t do it anymore becomes. So today, sometime, for at least an hour, I’m going to try a new story…..

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Wednesday, 21st March 2012


Heydays, play reading this morning. Managed to nip into creative writing first and leave some flyers on chairs about the book launch. On the way home, picked up the lots I won at yesterday’s auction – a piano stool (I’ll get back to the keyboard, one day!), another chair for the living room, and a nest of tables to replace the battered, scratched, cheap and nasty one I had.
After a short break, printing out flyers to send to the library, tackling emails, checking Facebook and so on, it was off to East Leeds Writers. Peter, who runs the group, has much to do with East Leeds f.m. (ELFM)  an internet radio station. I showed him the book and he’s invited me to go on one of his shows to promote it.
Tomorrow morning, the landscape gardener is coming to give me her quotation. I have NO idea what it will be, just a horrible feeling that it will be too much. The problem is, I really need to make the garden easier as I don’t want to have to rely on John. I know he’s supposed to be mowing the lawn and walking any big dogs but I’d prefer it if I didn’t actually NEED him for anything.
I had a really really bad night last night which is annoying. I expect to get those when I have dogs here, not when I’m on my own.
Yet another day has gone by when, apart from the writing I did I the group this afternoon, I’ve done nothing remotely creative. Tomorrow has two large bites taken out of it – gardening lady, then crosswords. I’ll just have to pack an awful lot into Friday. Right now, I’m feeling so tired, I’m going to give up and crash out (after washing the covers of the chair I bought earlier.)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Taking care of two old dogs


I’m waiting for  Sally and Humber’s owner to call and say that she’s reached Birmingham. I thought I’d have heard from her by now. The dogs arrived yesterday morning for an overnight stay to let their owner go to a funeral in Bristol. Apart from getting me up at six, and giving me a headache with their complicated feeding and medicine plan, they’ve been no bother, it’s just that I’d like to have a nice relaxing evening. I was meant to be dining out with Spice but had to cancel when I took this booking (I know, I should have said I was busy).
The good news is that my book launch finally has a date. I posted details earlier on the blog. Anyone who can get there, it’s in Leeds, is very welcome. I’ve been fiddling about for ages today making a poster to put up at Good Neighbours and working on a flyer to stick through my neighbour’s doors and hand out to all and sundry. I finished the sample chapter of the book proposal today and sent it to my co–author. Once they’ve done their chapter and we’ve had a chat, it can go to the publisher. I’m itching to get working on it so I pray it’s a yes please.
Tomorrow morning it’s a nice relaxing session of play reading. I’m looking forward to it!
More good news, I went to view an auction which my ex was planning to attend. There was an armchair, a set of coffee tables and a piano stool that I quite liked, so I asked him to bid for me. I’ve just found out that he managed to buy all three, and for less than my maximum bids! 
The dogs' owner finally called at half six, so I've no idea when she will get here. Never mind. I just hope she remembers to pay me. I find asking for money, face to face, quite hard.


Book Launch!

THE WRITER’S TREASURY OF IDEAS.
Book launch! 21st April 11a.m. at Philip Howard Books, 47 Street Lane, Leeds, LS8 1AP. All welcome. Please let me know if you can come, and PLEASE spread the word. If there's anybody I should be telling, I'd love to hear from you. I'm a bit new to all this kind of thing. I've done book launches before but only when I've had a story in a collection.
The book is a teach yourself guide to finding ideas for stories with examples and exercises. Use it, and you will find getting ideas becomes a whole lot easier. If you can't make the book launch, it will be for sale from 31st March via my web site at £12 plus p and p. Anyone who suplies their email address will receive my  mini guide to short story competitions absolutely free.
This guide will not be available anywhere else.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Emergency dog booking


Sally and Humber’s owner arrived just after ten thirty with the two dogs. As last year, she hadn’t made a list so had forgotten to bring their treats, so after she left, once we’d been through the dog’s complicated feeding and medical timetable, I popped down to the shops to get some fat free treats. Poor Sally isn’t allowed anything nice to eat. Last year she used to have her first pill of the day wrapped in a slice of chicken. Not now. I feel sorry for her. A dog that can’t eat nice things seems a bit sad.
I take looking after other people’s dogs very seriously and will be on tenterhooks until they go home. They’re here until tomorrow night as their owner had to go to a funeral, then they will be back on Saturday for a full, two week stay.
At one point, I almost lost the plot as I struggled to get everything right for their evening meal. What a palaver! Still that’s one meal done and dues
I’ve been able to get some work done and have almost finished the sample chapter for the new book proposal. I keep thinking of things I need to add but I have the feeling it’s almost there.
I will try and get it done tomorrow. Tonight, it’s the last quiz of the season before the handicap cup begins. We actually won last week for the first time in months. Of curse, I wasn’t playing…

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mother's Day


It was fine, weather–wise, so I thought I’d best take advantage of it by clearing and turning the bed where I want to put the peas. If there’s one vegetable I love growing, it’s peas, I grow mange tout  and sugar snap. They’re so sweet and tender, I can eat them raw.
I wanted to avoid actual writing today and try and catch up with some of the sorting out. I’ve made progress but there’s still an awful lot to do.
Sally and Humber are coming to stay tomorrow through to late on Tuesday as their owner has to go to a funeral (Birmingham I think).  They come back again on Saturday for a longer stay. I just pray both stays pass without incident – Sally is on so much medication. I don’t think I’ll say yes next time.
I think I’m getting more used to life alone. It’s taken me a while to figure out that the house is actually mine to use as I want, that I have room to put things, and that I can, finally, have a go at keeping the place clean. What I really need is friends I can call up, and people who live close enough so that I can invite them round.
Of course, it’s Mother’s Day today, and as on her birthday, a tiny part of me wanted to hear from my mother as I sent a card, but nothing happened. A slightly bigger part of me wants to call the home and make sure she’s still there and OK, but an even bigger part of me can’t do that. I’m only just hanging on right now so until I’m stronger, the only person I can take into consideration has to be me. I can’t tell you how bad/odd/strange that feels.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Leeds

Dear all
Heydays Spring End of Term Celebration is taking place on Wednesday 28 March from 10am to 3pm.
The performances will take place in the Quarry Theatre which is great news. As this is a large space with 750 seats we would like to encourage you to invite friends and family along to see what you get up to at Heydays! They can just turn up on the day and do not need to book in advance.
Hope you have enjoyed this term – it seems to have disappeared in a flash!
Best wishes
Nicky
 
Nicky Taylor
Community Development Officer
West Yorkshire Playhouse
Playhouse Square
Quarry Hill
Leeds LS2 7UP

Saturday, 17 March 2012

A good day.


I’m having a good day. I decided to mix things up, so I’ve spent some time in the garden, some time sorting out magazines and other paperwork, and some time working on the book proposal.  This evening, the plan is try and get my art materials into some kidn of order. At half past eleven last night, I was moving the bed round the other way in what used to my lodger’s room, trying to maximise wall space. It seems to have done the trick. The room is going to be multi functional. A place where I can sit, play the piano, paint, or even sleep. At first I put the bed on its end but that didn’t give me a whole lot more useable space so I put it back down. Now should anyone decide to come and see me (anyone fancy a look at Leeds?) I can put them up, so long as they don’t mind sharing the room with my keyboard and all my paints. I’ve put up, or more accurately, balanced on top  of the cupboards, some of my photos and a couple of paintings. I have this aversion to putting them on display as it feels like showing off so starting in a room only I go into is a first step in trying to get over this problem.
I put some copies of my book up for sale on eBay as it’s free listing weekend, just to see what happens really. It won’ t cost me anything if they don’t sell.
Right now, I’m making a rice pudding, the old fashioned way, from scratch. It’s such a simple dessert and so easy to make. It will keep me in puddings going for a couple of days. Unless of course I stay up late and watch a film in which case it will probably all disappear very quickly.

Friday, 16 March 2012

The wonders of Lulu


I had to put a book together in a hurry today.
It’s my second set of crime stories called CRIME SHORTS TOO. I’d done most of the work (i.e. chosen the stories and done the basic layout) but needed to upload the text, sort out the cover, blurb, and all the extra bits.
Why the rush? I had mentioned the collection in The Writer’s Treasury of Ideas so had to make it ‘exist’.
I need to spend some time getting sorted out. I spend such a lot of hours, trying to find things as I haven’t really had the space. Now John’s gone, I need to have a major clear out and re–organise so that I can find things quickly.
I also need to organise my paints and painting materials in the still slightly vain hope that one day I will get round to dabbling again. I think I’m rather too aware of all the important stuff that needs doing, like cleaning! Then there’s decorating, and the garden which I really haven’t touched for ages and ages.
A lady came round today to quote for moving my pond. I’ve never had a quote for garden stuff before and have a horrible feeling it’s going to be too expensive. Will have to wait and see, she’s coming back on Thursday to give me the quote.
Today, I met a member of the writers club when I was at the shops, and asked if she wanted a drink and a chat. I’m glad to say she said yes, because I’d asked two people in the past week, having been prompted by readers of this blog (thanks for giving me a nudge) and they’d both said no. Apparently there are quite a few ruffled feathers at the Writers Circle so the AGM could be interesting.
I’m signing off even earlier today as I want to get my paints sorted so that if I do get the urge, I can take advantage of it.
Hopefully I can get lots of writing done over the weekend as I have nothing in my diary.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Sale, sale, sale!



Definitely an OK day today as it started with a story sale to Australia
$400 Australian dollars for 600 words which can’t be bad. The funny thing is that I came to write the story as a direct result of reading my own book – The Writer’s treasury of Ideas. As I checked the text, the part about dates and anniversaries suddenly gave me the idea of writing something about the Titanic. As it was February and far too late to sub to a UK magazine (the anniversary of the sinking is in April), I thought I’d try it on Oz as they sometimes have a very fast turn round which proved to be the case.
After that, I finished my Writers Forum column and sent it off. It’s not my usual column as it looks back over the past year and mentions my depression and so on. I hope the editor thinks it’s OK as I usually try to motivate and inspire readers. We’ll have to wait and see.
This afternoon I went to Writers in the Rafters, a group that has been meeting since last year and which, even having gone into my local library several times, I knew nothing about. I was mean to talk to them for thirty minutes but with all the questions, we over ran rather. I may well go back next month, as a member, as they only meet once a month so it’s not too much of a burden. Will have to wait and see what comes along.
I asked if they would put up a poster to advertise the weekend course I’m teaching in Leeds in November and they said they would, so that was good. I really want the course to be full so that the organiser is encouraged to run some more.
When I got home, the lady who owns the dogs I’m looking after from the 24th called to ask if I could take them on Monday, overnight, as she has to go to a funeral. I didn’t really want to, but she’s such a nice woman and it will give me a test run with all the medication the dogs are on!
I was out last night at a Spice Quiz and had a great time, even though my team didn’t win (we came second). I haven’t laughed so much in ages.
That, plus this afternoon, going out and meeting new people, has made me feel very tired so I’m going to turn the pc off now and go and crash out until bed time.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Wednesday


I went to play reading at Heydays today as it’s more relaxing than creative writing. As we didn’t get to the end of the play, I’ll have to go there next week too to find out what happens.
I took my precious copy of THE WRITER’S TREASURY OF IDEAS with me and managed to get two orders which was great. The book will be for sale on my web site as soon as I have copies to sell. It will doubtless by for sale more cheaply on Amazon, so to compensate for that, people who buy from me will get an extra mini guide to short story competitions sent to their email address as a pdf.
I worked on my Writers Forum column today, but I’m not sure about the result. I found myself writing about the last year and how I’ve been taking a break from fiction. As the column is called SHORT STORY SUCCESS, I’m wondering if that’s a good idea. I’ll look at it again tomorrow and decide.
I’m also working on a pitch for another book which means having to write a sample chapter. It’s not the one I would have chosen either.
I also put a few things together for tomorrow. I’m going to a meeting of a new writers group in central Leeds. They’re giving me the last half hour to talk to them about short stories, but  I’m going to the whole meeting so I can think about joining them.
Tonight is quiz night at Spice. In many ways I don’t want to go, I have such a lot to do, but I need to make myself get out and about, or risk letting depression creep back in. I’m having trouble adjusting to being on my own. Not having any family or close friends, geographically that is, is not helping, but I’m sure it will get easier.
I had two calls today.
They were both for John.
When I’m feeling really down, I envy him with his regular income from Pension Credit, his bus pass and his family. When I feel like that, I know I need to do something fast! That’s why I’m going to that bl***ed quiz whether I feel like it or not.

Thoughts on yesterday


Yesterday was my mother’s eighty-seventh birthday. It was difficult. I have no idea what’s going on in Exeter. I have to hope that somebody would tell me if anything happened to her, but I can’t even be sure of that.
I sent her a card and a box of chocolates and for the whole day, she was there, in the back of my mind. I kept wondering if she would call me to say thank you,  and thinking that I should call her, but neither of those things happened. The fact is that right now, I simply can’t make contact, not because it’s impossible, as clearly that’s not the case, but because I have to look after me first.  I’m already looking forward to the day when I am strong, when I have plenty of friends, maybe even a man in my life, then I can go down to Exeter and see her. Then I can tell her that it’s OK, and that I forgive her for being such a terrible mother to me, and that I’m happy and contented with my life, but that day isn’t here yet. So until then, I have to be the most important person in my life which, when you think about it, is exactly the way it should be. 
 I've been working on a book about my life and how I've started to sort out my problems. The above paragraph may be the way it ends, I'll have to wait and see. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Best laid plans.....


You know what it’s like, you plan to do one thing, then something else comes along, well that’s what happened today. I was going to work on my column when I had an email from Norah McGrath of Take a Break fame asking for 1 page summer stories for the specials, so it was down tools and see if I had anything I could rework.
If anyone reading this has anything suitable, get them posted off to her fast.
My plan is to get life more into balance which means getting some more exercise, if only on the Wii, returning to the garden, and getting the house in order. To that end, I broke up the day’s work with a quick go on Wii tennis followed by half an hour in the garden. I turned over one raised bed, planted some turnips, kohl rabi and potatoes.
Now John is here, mowing the grass in the front garden, part of his payment to me for letting him store things in my garage and loft.
Tonight it’s off to the gardening club. My neighbour is going to give me a lift which is good and bad. Good because I get a lift, bad because I’ll have to help put the chairs out! Tonight the speaker’s topic is folk lore which could be interesting, story–wise. I’m going to take some flyers and see if I can find the nerve to give them out to people as I really need to get to talk to more groups myself, especially as I’ve just ordered 100 copies of my book!

Monday, 12 March 2012

the book has arrived, but I can't see to read it!


I started working on my Writers Forum column this morning but didn’t get it finished because I had to go to the eye clinic for my once a year check. Luckily all was well, but the drops they put in meant that I couldn’t focus for hours afterwards so that was effectively that for the day.
The postman  brought me the first copy of the book which was waiting for me when I got home. It’s nice to actually see it, even blurrily. I’m surprised, but in a good way, how bright the cover is. It should stand out on a shelf! I still have no book launch scheduled which is annoying but as the publisher says, that’s by the by. The official launch date is still the 31st.
I’d like to say that fifty people have already placed orders, but I’d be lying. So if you want to be the first, see my web site – www.akacatherinehoward.weebly.com … Seriously, all this pushing myself, marketing, and so on really isn’t me. I’d rather be teaching or writing than all this promotion and publicity. I just have to hope that people think it’s a good book, because if that happens, it will sell itself. 
I’m still a bit upset about the dogs. In all honesty there’s no way I could take Woody, however much I adore him. It’s very hard to get any work done while he’s here, and without his best friend Snoopy…..
I just hope that, if their owner do decide to ‘get rid of the dogs’, they will find a home for both of them, so if you’re in Yorkshire and would love to own a dippy black labrador, and his best mate, Woody the dachshund, do let me know and I’ll pass your details on to their owners.  They really are lovely dogs.
Tomorrow is my mother’s birthday. She will be 87. I have sent her a box of chocolates and a card.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Good and bad

There’s been good and bad this weekend.
My trip to Newcastle was easy enough, but….. I didn’t know anyone apart from the publisher, whereas most people seemed to have met before. I did my usual trick of standing in a corner and turning invisible. I did, eventually, get talking to one lady (Carol) who also had a story in the collection, but I didn’t exactly set the world on fire.To find out about the book see www.bykerbooks.co.uk    it's called Radgepacket 6.
I left after a couple of hours as they were adjourning to the nearest pub – not a good idea as far as I was concerned as I didn’t want to fall asleep on the train and end up in Kings Cross.
When I got home, Woody and Snoopy were still here. Their owners felt so tired (!) after their holiday they wanted to leave them with me for another night. Obviously I was more than happy about that. 
Now the bad news. When the man came to collect them he told me they were thinking of getting rid of the dogs (his phrase). Now they have another baby, they’re leaving the dogs shut in one room most of the day and think that’s unfair on them.
I don’t know what to think. I love that daft dachshund to pieces, but it’s so hard to get any work done when he’s here and I don’t think I could cope with Snoopy full time. If they do decide  to let the dogs go, I have to pray that some kind person takes both of them. I don’t’ even want to think about it at the moment.
As I went round the house, cleaning up after they’d left, I was in tears.


Friday, 9 March 2012

lazy day


Apart from getting everything sorted for tomorrow’s jaunt to Newcastle when Radegpacket 6 from Byker Books launches (Back Page Bookshop 12–3). I’ve had quite a lazy day, mostly playing with and cuddling the dogs.  Woody and Snoopy go home tomorrow and I won’t even get to say goodbye. I’ve asked John to be here instead, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go to the launch.
Just found out that I made the longlist for the SWWJ life writing comp, but didn’t get to the shortlist which is a shame. I could use a writing boost right now.
Thanks to everyone who responded to yesterday’s depression posting. I guess I’m feeling  bit sorry for myself, due to Mum’s birthday looming. Apart from her, I have no family, and nobody close by who I can call on for a cuppa – not a happy place to be.
As they say things can only get better, I just hope they do – soon!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The truth about depression


As some of you may know, I have suffered from depression, on and off for a number of years now.
I’m a lot better now, although having John move out has been very hard and I’ve felt myself being tugged back towards illness. The good news is, I’m hanging on. I might not be getting much fresh work done, but I’m busy with other things like making the house mine (I hadn’t noticed how bland everything was). Plus I’m getting better organised. What upsets me though is this – depression is an illness. There have been many days in the past year when I have been close to suicide. I felt so bad, I didn’t see the point of living, yet nobody sent me a card. If I’d been in hospital I’d have had visitors and gifts yet somebody in hospital at least has company and meals and a routine. I’m not saying I’d rather be physically ill. All I’m saying is that because depression doesn’t show, sometimes until it’s too late, people often ignore it.
It’s not a question of pulling yourself together, if you can do that, you’re just feeling down which happens to everyone. That’s  part of life. Pain makes the joy deeper and more precious. It’s not depression. Depression is a deep feeling of hopelessness. It’s a total lack of motivation, a lack of energy, a lack of hope. It feels like there’s nothing to live for.
Why am I saying this? Because we can all make other people’s lives better just by showing that we care. If you haven’t heard from somebody for a while, give them a call. WHO CARES whose turn it is.

On the carpet


Not much to say today. It’s been swallowed up by carpet fitting and moving furniture (again). Now I need to spend some time getting straight. I did manage to squeeze in some work on my web sites. I have two now. As well as www.akacatherinehoward.weebly.com, which is more about me and my books, I now have one called www.writingiseasy.net which will be geared towards helping people get the most out of their writing. I’m offering an affordable feedback service and will also offer tuition. Any thoughts on anything else that might be useful to less experienced writers will be warmly received.
I still have no book launch fixed as the bookshop may have another booking on the 31st, thanks to me and my publisher taking so long to sort out the cover, etc. The book should still be for sale on the 31st though. I will believe the whole thing is actually real once I have a copy of the book in my hands.
Today I sent my mother a card and a box of chocolates. It’s her birthday on the 13th. Whether she’ll know who they’re from I have no idea. I haven’t heard from the home or any social workers since June 28th. I’m still not strong enough to make contact so that’s the way it will have to stay.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Wednesday 7th March


I switched to play reading today at Heydays as I didn’t want to face any more writing. I’m so far behind s it is. Had to hurry back because although I know the dogs are used to being left alone, I’d rather not push my luck.
I’m waiting to hear when the book launch will be as the bookshop may be busy with something else on the 31st.
Today I’ve had to clear the furniture from my bedroom as I’m having a new carpet fitted tomorrow, the first I’ve had since I can’t remember when. I’m keen to make the house as different as possible to signify a whole new life ahead. The carpet that was down was HORRIBLE. Brown, with spots. Cheap and nasty, like something from a factory. The new one is dusky pink. I was really lucky as it was an offcut, just the right size, that had already been reduced and was then reduced again to shift it so what should have cost me almost £600 came to less than £250, with fitting. Once it’s down, I have to vbe careful not to overdo it, putting the furniture back, as I’m off to Newcastle on Saturday for the launch of the latest in the Radgepacket series from Byker Books.
It’s coming up to the first anniversary of the day my life imploded i.e. when I was pushed out of my mother’s life and social workers took over. It’s been a strange twelve months with terrible, long deep miserable troughs. I think I must have shed more tears than at any other time in my life, more even than when I lost my husband. Fortunately there have been a few highs too, notably Swanwick, and getting my ideas book accepted.
I pray that this time next year I can look back and say that I’ve had a wonderful twelve months with so many glorious highs, and just a few, tiny dips. That would be so amazing.
Right now, I’m being tempted to stop work by two adorable dogs and as they’re only here until Saturday, I’m going to give in an

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Still not doing any actual writing


Time seems to keep being eaten up by publicity work, going through contacts and letting Filament have details so they can send press release. I’m still waiting for the 31st March to be confirmed for the launch which is annoying. I’m also ‘in talks’ with another writer about a collaboration on a book  which would be great if it came off. News when I have it.
On my way to Good Neighbours (I run a session as a volunteer 2 Tuesdays afternoons a month, I decided to do a trawl of the charity shops. I only managed 2 because I bought so much, I couldn’t carry it – three cushions for the new sofa, a set of bedding, a jigsaw and a dress.
At the session, we played Scrabble because that’s what they wanted to so. Suits me, as I don’t’ get to play any other time. When I got home, I took the dogs out, then moved some more furniture out of the bedroom. It needs to be clear for Thursday when the new carpet comes. There’s just a wardrobe left to shift which can wait until tomorrow.
The dogs have been hilarious today, doing things I simply couldn’t write about here. I wish there was a programme on TV half as funny.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The only way is up (I hope)


Right now I feel as though I’m at the bottom of a deep dark smelly pit. I know I have to get out, but I feel so tired and weak. I knew this was going to be hard, John leaving, but I guess I was hoping for it not to be.
Having the dogs here, which I expected to make it easier, isn’t working. I feel like I’m making excuses  it is difficult to work with them here, Snoopy needs a lot of attention, but I wonder if I would get more done if they weren’t here. Time will tell. On Saturday, they go home, while I’m off to Newcastle for the Byker Books Radgepacket book launch (it’s in Newcastle, for details see my page on Facebook – all welcome).
I think it hurts that John seems perfectly content.  Of course I didn’t want him to be upset, it’s just that nothing seems to touch him.
I will get through this. I have to. Problem is my publisher wants me to start pushing the book and I honestly can’t raise any enthusiasm right now. I feel like I’m going through the motions when I should be excited and raring to go.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

My best 2 dogs are here!


I’ve spent most of the weekend recirculating stories to various magazines. It’s a dull boring job but necessary.
Raffy went home at half two, which meant that for two hours I had all three dogs in the house. Luckily the house is arranged so that I could keep them apart, but I was still mightily glad when Raffy’s owners came to pick him up.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Friday, 2 March 2012

New dog arrived


Lovely bright day today. Raffy arrived at nine o’clock this morning. He’s a 9 month old border terrier. Just a few weeks ago, he had a run in with a car and damaged a vertebra. His owner said that for 3 days it was touch and go, but he seems fine now. He can’t wear a collar so has to have a harness and he mustn’t play pulling games with any toys. We had great fun this morning, doing the housework. Raffy kept chasing the vacuum hose so it ended up as a game. The house has not been this clean for ages.
I left home alone for an hour this afternoon to see how he’d cope. I ordered a new carpet fro the bedroom which will be the first new carpet I’ve had since moving to Leeds. I’m spending money on the house so that it looks and feels different from when John was here. He came round at 4 to take all his tool boxes away. For a man that did very very little DIY he has an awful lot of tools.
I haven’t managed to get much done today. I did the paperwork for a booking for two dogs who are coming to stay for two weeks at the end of the month then worked on one of my pupil’s lessons. Apart from that, it was moving things from room and filling cupboards and spending time with Raffy.  When I first have a new dog to stay, I like to make sure they’re entertained and not fretting. So far, so good. He did have a little accident shortly after arriving but I put that down to excitement.
My tame proof reader dropped off the manuscript for the competition guide I’ve been working on so I can get that corrected later.
I don’t know why, but I’m feeling tired out. I guess you don’t realise how much physical effort is involved in just moving things about. And I had to walk the dog. John’s supposed to do that in exchange  for using my garage……..

Thursday, 1 March 2012

1st March


Today was an almost Boxing Day (if you don’t know what that means, check out howtodoitallandbehappy). The idea is to do whatever you feel without planning ahead. I was due one on Monday but what with the move I had to postpone it. It wasn’t a proper Boxing Day as I had the crossword class to go to, but it was either that, or put it off again. I ended up buying some cherries, an overripe pineapple and a sofa. I’m now waiting for the people who have bought the other sofa and chair via eBay. Sadly, they are late. As I’m not keen on having strangers call round when I’m on my own, John is here (he wanted to collect more stuff anyway).
Not much more to say really except I wish they’d hurry up so that John can leave.