Monday, 30 April 2012

Where I am at the moentn

A summary of what’s going on.
Apparently because my mother had money in various accounts, Devon Social Services did not have to do a proper financial assessment. They only bother with those when there isn’t enough money to pay the full cost of fees, in other words, when they have to make up the difference.
As there was no financial assessment, no money was taken from her while she was alive. Instead, all of my mother’s government pension was being paid into a joint account. Now that she is dead, that money now belongs to her carer. The bill for the care home fees, of course, belongs to the estate i.e. me.
I also discovered that Social Services, who put Mum into a home without consulting me, have a perfect right to do this so if you have an aged parent, don’t think that when they get ill you can step in and look after them because you might find that you have no rights. Next of kin means nothing, zilch, sweet **. 
I now need to decide whether to ask Denis if he will pay anything towards the fees, or agree to pay for the funeral.

What annoys me is that if Mum had very little money, Social Services would have looked into every penny of her income and made sure that half of it was going towards the fees. As it is, she had funds, so why bother.

Not a good day so far

I’m having a seriously bad day.
Having spent ages trying to figure out the rules re care homes and so on (thanks to everyone who’s sent me links – most useful) I finally spoke to an advisor at Age UK who informed me that as next of kin, I have no rights whatsoever and Social Services can do whatever they like. It doesn’t matter that there was a home here for Mum, I still have to pay the bill.
Next step to see if Social Services did a care assessment and ask for a copy.
The man from the council who was getting back to me with news of the actual amount owing hasn’t come back to me yet so I’m not even sure what the bill is.
Meanwhile, I checked my bank balance on line to make sure I could pay for my next trip to Devon. When I did, I as overdrawn thanks to somebody taking  money from my account without my authority. So my card has had to be cancelled and a fraud investigation launched.  
Good news is the man has arrived to fix my bath. 
Oh yes, and the sun is shining.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Trip to the National Coal Mining Museum

I had an unusual morning – I went to the National Coal Mining museum with Spice where I spent over an hour 140 metres below ground, finding out what life was like for miners, both recently and in Victorian times. Going down in that cage was scary and I almost thought, I don’t want to do this, let me out, but once we were down, my anxiety went.
As we took the tour, I kept thinking how dreadful it must have been, years ago, when even children worked, in the pitch darkness, for twelve hours, six days a week. They went to work while it was dark, came home again when it was dark, and only saw daylight, never mind sunshine, on Sundays. I honestly don’t know how they survived. I was really thought provoking. I can’t imagine any British person putting up with anything a tenth as bad as that nowadays.
I’ve been doing a lot of research over the past few days about care homes, financial assessments and other exciting things like that so that I have an idea what I’m talking about when the man from Devon County Council gets back to me tomorrow. The problem is there don’t seem to be any definite answers to questions. I suppose f the law and rules and regulations were easy to understand and black and white, we wouldn’t need the legal system. I tried some of the ‘free legal advice’ sites but when it came down to actually getting anywhere, they all wanted money. Result, I have no real idea where I stand only that I need to explore the various options and possibilities before handing over so much money for the fees.
I now have a lot of notes that I need to type up. Does that count as writing??? No, not really, but it will have to do. 
Tomorrow, fingers crossed, a man is coming to fix my bath, then the gardening lady is bringing her dogs round so I can decide whether to look after them for her when she goes away, plus I'm expecting to speak to that man from the Council. If anyone has any spare good vibes, please send a few my  way.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Something completely different

For a change, and because my life is a tiny bit dull right now, I thought this might be interesting. It’s a blurb for a new romance written by a friend of mine.

Could you fall in love with a double glazing salesman? That's the question posed in Closer! a new romantic comedy by prolific Pocket Novelist Julia Douglas.

"The title has a double meaning," explains the author. "The hero and heroine get closer, but a closer, rhyming with poser, is a salesman, as in closing the deal. As well as writing a romance I wanted to reveal all the tricks in the salesman's armoury."

Closer! follows the adventures of Jess who gets a job as a secretary at the Brachan Window Company - nicknamed the Broken Window Company - where she promptly falls for charismatic salesmanager Jared King. He has the Beamer, the Saville Row suits and, unfortunately for Jess, a fiery wife, too.

But in the "always closing never posing" world of high-pressure sales, nothing is as it seems. When the office is threatened with closure, can Jess transform herself from over-looked office girl to super-sales-woman, save the company and win her man?

Claiming to do for window sales what Glengarry Glen Ross did for real estate, Closer! is published by the Linford Romance imprint and available to borrow from libraries or to buy price £8.99 from Amazon or direct from publisher Ulverscroft on 0116 236 4325.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because 'Julia' is actually the pseudonym of Writers Forum columnist Douglas McPherson. He says this and I heartily agree with him : "There's a belief in the publishing world that women prefer to by books by women and men prefer books by men. It's why JK Rowling used her initials, so boys wouldn't be put off buying books by a woman. Closer! is a romance, so I thought, if it's good enough JK, it's good enough for me."

So come on all you male writers, why not try writing some romance for a change? You just might find that you’re good at it. Douglas certainly is.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Back to square one, but that's good!

Today, after getting no answers from the solicitor, I took the decision to sack them and start again. After making a couple of phone calls, I now I have more information than they came up with in almost two weeks, plus a named person at Devon CC I can deal with. Progress at last.
I’d gone with the Exeter solicitor as he knew the background to my mother’s case. I’ve told him I want to pick up all the paperwork when I’m Devon next week so I can ask another firm to take over. It means more delay, but dealing with him has been causing far too much stress – no replies, never there, ignoring questions, calling me by the wrong name (more than once), getting the social worker’s name wrong and not listing all the insurance policies to name just a few of the things that annoyed me. I feel more relaxed now knowing that I’m back in charge.
Denis sent me a key to the house this morning and we seem to be on very friendly terms. I think I’ve decided to keep it that way despite question marks over his honesty. If he will back me up, I might be able to negotiate with DCC over the fees as, so far as I’m concerned, Mum should not have been put into a home without giving me the chance to try and look after her first. There are other reasons too but there’s no point in going into them here. I will need to speak to Denis when I see him next Thursday.
I’ve been selling a few books via my web site ( – it was updated a couple of months back ) which is really encouraging. It’s also good for me as I don’t have to pay a hefty commission.
As it’s actually stopped raining for more than five minutes, I was able to go into the garden. I’ve decided I need to ask the gardeners to come back and do a bit more work. The lady is coming here on Monday to introduce me to her two dogs so that I can see if I want to look after them for her when they go away. I’ll ask her to give me another quote then. Also, I need to find now is lots of (cheap) plastic lawn/border edging to finish things off or the gravel will start to ‘walk.’
Now I need some tea. That’s the trouble with being on your own, no matter how loudly you shout, nobody puts the kettle on.  

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Why am I still waiting for news?

Can somebody please tell me why, when they must know we are desperate for news, solicitors don't get back to people with updates? I've heard nothing despite leaving voicemail and sending emails.
Amazingly I've been getting things done. I recirculated some stories to My Weekly, The Peoples Friend and Alfie Dog, gave a friend feedback on the first chapters of her book, and finished a list of questions needed for a book proposal. I also had a long chat with the lady who put me on to the web site about narcissistic mothers. Great to talk to somebody who understands what I mean, having been there herself.
Tonight, the plan is to do soemthing creative - either tinkle with the piano/keyboard or even get the paints out. Whether I'll actually do it is another question.

Why can't I write fiction at the moment?

I consider myself a short story writer by trade having  sold literally hundreds of stories to various magazines. When my  private life imploded (2010 and then even more so in March 2011), I carried on writing fiction but the stories just weren’t any good – proved by the marked decrease in sales.
In the end I had to take a break from fiction. The good news is I ended up writing a non fiction book about how to find ideas which I would probably never have got round to doing otherwise.
The bad news was that as time passed and I still couldn’t write fiction, I began to wonder if I’d ever be able to do it again. This was a major concern as I’m teaching short story courses at both Swanwick and the NAWG Festival in 2012 and lack of sales was making me feel like a bit of a fraud.
It took me a while to work out that I simply didn’t have enough in my emotional bank to spare any for writing. It was all being used up by personal  problems which, sadly, are still affecting me.
In some ways I’m lucky because I can still write decent non–fiction but I miss writing stories. Fiction has always given me so much pleasure. It’s such a wonderful way to escape reality.  
For a really clear explanation of writers block caused by emotional problems, visit this blog. As often happens lately, my thanks to Helen Yendall for pointing this blog out to me.
Having read it, I can now stop worrying that my fiction knack has gone for ever. It will come back, sometime. I just have to be patient.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Heydays is back and so is the rain.

Heydays started again today at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
It’s a  day of courses/talks/arts and crafts for the over 55s (sadly that’s me).
Today, the play reading session was taken over by the director and writer of a new play, NAPOLI.
It was amazing.
First we had lots of warm up exercises, then we had to choose a piece of clothing and ‘react to it’. I had a great time with a brightly coloured scarf which became all kinds of strange things, from fire to a shy withdrawn girl, to a pair of shackles and a noose.
I was meant to go to East Leeds writers this afternoon but in the end I gave it a miss due to heavy rain and a severe headache brought on by a strange bill from Devon C Council re Mum’s care home fees. A – it covers the period to 8th April, two weeks after her death, and B– it states that the amount quoted refers to  ‘temporary charges pending assessment’. I have no idea why an assessment hasn’t been done yet as Mum went into the home in May last year. I called my solicitor to ask their advice – voice mail - so sent an email. Nobody’s come back to me as yet, apart from an earlier email saying that my solicitor has booked a meeting with her boss to discuss my case.
The good news is that my emotions seem to have calmed down and I can now think about things more clearly. Hopefully, the solicitor will get back to me tomorrow sometime, then I may have an idea how the land lies and where, exactly, I stand.  
I’d like to thank all the people who’ve been giving me such advice and to say that I’m actually following some of it by being kinder to myself and taking the pressure off as regards getting back to my old, productive, self. Thanks especially to those who told me to consider the advice I would give a friend was going through the problems I’m facing. That advice was so helpful to me as I’m really good at advising other people but completely hopeless when it comes to looking after me.
I sold three copies of my book from my web site today which was also encouraging as I haven’t been promoting it much. One lady brought all three of my writers guides too ( I have a special offer on at the moment where, if people buy all three, they get a discount  – see so that was good too.
Now, I’ve had enough. Thanks to the drama improvisation which was followed by 45 minutes of a new movement class where we had to pretend to be water, I have aches all over the place (I am one of the unfittest people I know)  so all I want to do now is crasj out – and take a pill for this headache!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Running on the spot

I spent ages yesterday at Waterstones which, apart from giving me a chance to practice reading out loud, wasn’t terribly productive. It did get me out of the house though which was a help.
Today has turned into a bit of a mess. I had to go for my six monthly check up to the dentist which I HATE. Fortunately, he didn’t find anything wrong which was a HUGE relief.
When I got home, having impulsively bought a table at a charity shop, the gardeners had finished. I had no idea they were that close! Result, it’s not exactly as I wanted which meant getting stuck in moving barrowloads of turf so that I can change the shape of the flower bed. Right now, the bed is HUGE! I had to move the grass straightaway as it was in a pile and might not have survived.
I’m not going to be able to do the actual work until I come back from Devon which at least gives me time to think and decide exactly how big I want the bed to be.
I had an email from solicitor saying thanks for all the paperwork I sent them and that she now needs time to discuss the matter with her boss, and will write at the end of the week. I emailed back to say, PLEASE call me with an overview as I really need to have at least some idea of where I am before I go back to Devon.  
I still haven’t done any work plus I have a dinner shuffle with Spice on tonight (at least I don’t have to think about cooking something) which I really do need to go to having cancelled so much lately, so rather than try and get a few things done, I’m going to call it (yet another) day off and go and have a nice long soak.
Tomorrow morning, Heydays starts again – I don’t; want to miss the first session as it’s a great chance to catch up with people, then in the afternoon it’s East Leeds Writers at Seacroft library. I guess getting back to work will have to wait until Thursday  

Monday, 23 April 2012

Website for daughters with difficult relationships with their mothers

Thanks to a newly found Facebook friend, I’ve discovered a web site that sums up my relationship with my mother.
This is an amazing resource and I wish I’d found it years ago. If you have problems with your mother, take a look, it might just save your sanity. It will certainly save a lot of stress and pain.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

growing impatient with myself

I’m feeling thoroughly sick of myself. I can’t shake off this feeling of hopelessness. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t even know what I want.
Part of me thinks, why not sell Mum’s house with its annoying tenant in place, who cares if that means selling cheap, then I’d be free of it. I haven’t the strength right now to fight off a cold, let alone battle social services, Devon County Council and everyone else who messed up. I could really use a friend, somebody close so that I could pop round for half an hour.
This has really brought home to me just how alone I am. When John’s here, which he has been rather a lot this past few weeks as I couldn’t cope on my own, he annoys me and I want him to go. When he’s gone, I feel completely lost and can’t settle. The blasted weather doesn’t help. If I stick my nose outside, it starts chucking it down with rain.
I’ve started thinking about moving house. It’s what I do when I can’t cope with life, as though a change of address would give me a new start. I know it doesn’t work – I’ve tried it far too many times already – but it would at least give me something to focus on.
I feel as though I’m lost in a fog and it’s really making me cross. I hate feeling like this. I have no patience with myself. Anyone else, fine, they can drift about for weeks when they’re ill or grieving but I don’t give myself the same space.
The fact is I’m scared of turning into my mother. She loved to be the centre of attention and would tell people all her troubles, real or made up, in order to get the attention she craved. It’s given me this morbid fear of making a fuss when I’m in trouble. Stiff upper lip and all that. What happened to the days when neighbours looked out for each other? The only time my next door neighbour has started a conversation since my mother died was when he wanted to complain about the rain running off my garden.
Now I’m cross with myself for moaning.
I know I have to get through this by myself and that even though the tunnel is long, there must be a light at the end of it somewhere but I’m worn out after last year’s problems.  It does get better, doesn’t it? Soon?
I know there are lots of lovely kind people out there and some of you have been really good to me lately. Thinking about all of you makes me feel worse as though I’m letting everybody down by feeling this way. Please don’t give up on me just yet. I’m doing the best I can.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Book Launch is over

The book launch was a small affair with about ten people attending and seven books sold.  The bookshop also took ten more on a sale or return basis. Even though it was small, it seemed to go very well. It’s strange, I get very nervous but once I’ve actually started speaking, the nerves go.
It’s a shame I couldn’t do more to publicise the launch but there wasn’t much I could do, given the way I was feeling.
I’m rather hoping that due to good reviews, word will spread and that the book will sell itself. I’ve been getting some very positive feedback.
This lovely one is from Helen Yendall who has been so supportive since Mum died, I only wish she lived a bit nearer so I could buy her a coffee sometime.

5.0 out of 5 stars Now I Just Need The Time To Write Up All My New Ideas...!, 20 April 2012
Linda Lewis is a lady who knows her stuff - she's a widely-published short story writer, columnist, novelist, tutor and competition judge and I know for a fact that she's never short of ideas (in fact, as she admits herself, she 'has too many'!). So it's very generous of her to share the sources of many of her ideas in her new book! I love the cover and this book really does what it says on the tin. It's jam-packed with potential ideas and it's great for dipping in and out of. This is a reference book that I'm sure I'll read over and over AND I promise you, since I've read it, I'm even dreaming more vividly!

Reading reviews like that give me a lovely warm feeling. I was sure I’d written a good book, but it’s hard to tell until you get some feedback. If anyone reading this wants a copy of my book, if they buy direct from my web site ( and let me have their email address, they will receive a free pdf version of my mini–guide to short story competitions.  This guide will not be available anywhere else.

Now I need to decide what to do next, writing wise. I’ve pitched an idea for a follow up book to the same publisher as it’s been good working with him. If he says yes, that will such a huge boost, plus it will give me something to focus on, other than legal paperwork and forms. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

Dragged back into the past

A letter from the solicitor came addressed to Ms LC Gaunt – my mother’s surname. It was like a blow to the stomach.
I’ve spent most of today going back through all my paperwork and emails, copying them to send to the solicitor. Every one brought back painful memories, but I needed to get it done and out of the way as quickly as possible. Now I have to wait to hear their verdict.
It’s my first solo book launch tomorrow but right now, I’d much rather hide away from everyone. I have a ticket for the theatre tonight to watch a friend of mine at the West Yorkshire Playhouse doing a piece of experimental theatre. I’ve had the ticket for weeks, but I feel so bad at the moment, I simply can’t face going.
I hate feeling like this, physically and emotionally fraught and exhausted, all because social services didn’t do their job properly. Now I’m left to sort out the mess and pay the price.
I wish now I’d cancelled the launch, but I’m trying to think positive. I’ve cancelled a lot of social outings since Mum died. The launch will force me to face the future and my fears head on. The fact that my head is full of fuzz, and I look as though I’ve had no sleep for months is by the by.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

I need time to think

I’m back but not back if you see what I mean.
The state of things in Devon leaves much to be desired. Mum’s carer/partner/whatever  has not been honest with me about the financial situation, and I’m not sure what to do. Instead of paying for the funeral out of the joint account, he’s arranged for it to be paid from another of Mum’s accounts. He even put the cost of the flowers on the bill so in effect, she has paid for her own bouquet.
I also have to decide what to do about the money owing. The council has been paying the care home fees so there is a huge bill. What I don’t understand is why they weren’t taking any of Mum’s pension. When my father went into a home, Mum had to pay half their joint income each month towards the fees. As Mum’s state pension has been going to Denis or into the joint account, it’s his now that she’s gone. If he’d offered to pay half the funeral costs I would have been happy to let it go. As it is, I don’t know what to do for the best. I’ll need to gibe it some serious thought.
It’s still raining too which is annoying (see yesterday’s post) but at least I have my crossword class to go to.
Right now I’m wondering if I should have cancelled my book launch as I feel like an emotional wreck, but it might do me good, especially if plenty of people turn up. If they don’t I can do a tour of the charity shops. I noticed there are one or two in Street lane.
Final reminder – 11 a.m. Saturday 21st April, Philip Howard Books, 47 Street lane, Leeds, LS8. If you can get there, I’d really really love to see you.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Letter from Steven Fry

My lovely friend, Helen, sent me this – it’s part of a letter Steven Fry wrote to a woman who was feeling depressed. It’s so amazingly apt – since I came back from the funeral it’s been chucking it down!

‘I've found that it's of some help to think of one's moods and feelings about the world as being similar to weather:

Here are some obvious things about the weather:

It's real.
You can't change it by wishing it away.
If it's dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can't alter it.
It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.


It will be sunny one day.
It isn't under one's control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.
One day.

It really is the same with one's moods, I think. The wrong approach is to believe that they are illusions. They are real. Depression, anxiety, listlessness - these are as real as the weather -


They will pass: they really will.

In the same way that one has to accept the weather, so one has to accept how one feels about life sometimes. "Today's a crap day," is a perfectly realistic approach. It's all about finding a kind of mental umbrella. "Hey-ho, it's raining inside: it isn't my fault and there's nothing I can do about it, but sit it out. But the sun may well come out tomorrow and when it does, I shall take full advantage.’

Today I feel bad, but I made it through the trip to Exeter, AND  tomorrow is another day.

I'm back (well almost)

I arrived home yesterday evening, completely wrecked and tired out. I don't feel up to very much right now so I'm going to take an unscheduled Boxing day and potter about, doing whatever the fancy takes. me. The good news is I went to Devon, survived the funeral, and said what I had to say to Denis. Now I need a rest.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Signing off for a few days.

I’m signing off.
I’m going out all day tomorrow to save myself fretting otherwise Ill spend hours running round in circles. I leave for Exeter bright and early Sunday morning.  I don’t know when I’ll be back from the funeral, I bought an open return train ticket, will have to see how it goes.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Who am I? What do I want? Where am I going?

I think I’ve figured out why I’m feeling so lost at the moment. I’ve spent my whole life as my mother’s daughter, doing my best to find a way to get her to love me. Other relationships have come and gone, but that one, unhappy though it often was, remained. Now she’s gone, I don’t know who I am anymore. What’s my role now?
What’s more I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I need to do some serious thinking. Nothing feels the same anymore, not the dogs, not my relationship with my ex, it’s all turned to fog.
I need to decide, somehow or another, where I want to be in five years. Do I want to stay at home and potter about, living on a shoe string, or do I want to carry on writing? I know I enjoy teaching people and helping them meet their writing goals, but what else do I want to do? Do I want to live alone? Do I want to move? What do I want? It’s not a question I’ve ever really asked myself before and I haven’t a clue what the answer is. All I know is that I need to find out, and soon.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Wednesday. Another day almost done.

This morning I had another call from Co–op Funeral Services wanting to do probate for me. Too much pressure. They don’t seem to realise that it’s not about money.
While I’m sitting here, waiting for the 16th to arrive, other people have been helping me by giving my book some much needed publicity.
Id like to say a special thank you to  Helen Yendall, another short story writer, whose blog can be found at Her blog is not just a really good read, she’s an inspiration with all her ideas and energy, especially when she’s about to move house.
I moved the furniture round in my den AGAIN today. I think, finally, I have it how I want it, but there’s no room to put the second freezer. It’s back to the drawing board – either keep it in the dining room or sacrifice the under stairs cupboard. Decisions aren’t coming easily to me at the moment as you can tell. If I had £10 for every time I’ve moved furniture since Mum died I could go to Majorca for a week.
At four this afternoon, Rocky arrived. He’s another chocolate Labrador, but he’s nothing like the lovely Louis. Rocky’s here until Friday while his family goes to the Harry Potter tour so that will help move the time along.
As soon as he goes home, I’m going to rip up the plastic fence in the garden (I had to put one up round the pond to stop dogs diving in!) ready for when the landscaper arrives on Monday. It will be so nice not to have to look at poles and fences. I just hope the weather is friendly.
On Saturday the plan is to go and have a look round Ikea and view an auction with John. I was meant to be going to an all day workshop in Sheffield based on Feel the Fear and D It Anyway, but had to cancel. The same thing happened tonight – I should be going to a Spice quiz but simply couldn’t face it. I’m OK with people I know but don’t quite trust myself with people I don’t. My emotions are too near the surface.
I’m going to turn the PC off now and take Rocky for a walk. He’s put on some weight since he was last here so I’d better make it a long one.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Not too long now

I’ve had my first review for the new book on Amazon. It’s so good, I thought I’d share it.

9 April 2012
The Writer's Treasury of Ideas (Paperback)
This Book Will Be Your Bible!,
I'm a "writing guide" junkie, and I have about 50 at the moment....but, this book is now going to be my bible!!!!
You will never suffer writers block ever again if you have a copy of this on your desk!
My head is now exploding with ideas, I'm wondering if I will ever sleep again lol
Love it.....highly recommended!!!!!!
Vikki from Kent.

Reading that review cheered me up as I feel as though I haven’t been doing enough to promote the book due to circumstances outside my control.
I took a last minute booking for a dog today. His name’s Rocky and he’s another chocolate Labrador that I’ve had stay before. He’s not like Louis, but he’s no trouble and doesn’t get me up in the middle of the night either. He’s arriving tomorrow and will stay until Friday. It’s just what I need to help fill up the last few days before I have to go to Exeter.
I went to Roundhay Park today to use up some more time. I haven’t been doing anything socially, as I haven’t felt up to it, but that means I’ve been feeling a bit trapped in the house, hence the outings. Note to Rae, I think you called while I was out – sorry to have missed you.
On the way back, John took me to the local recycling centre (tip) where they have a shop to sell things that were dumped. I came away with 2 IKEA wall shelves that are not only in great condition and well made, they were only £6 each. I do love a bargain.
I have done a bit of writing today. I’ve drafted my Writers’ Forum column. I’ll print it off tomorrow and ask John to read it through  for me.  
To keep my mind occupied (I still can’t read books or write any fiction) I made another batch of my favourite lemon ice cream. It’s a pathetically simple recipe that produces the most amazing results. I also made strawberry jelly. For some treason, since Mum died, I’ve been craving sweet foods. Ice cream and jelly will go down a treat.
I watched yet another film last night – it’s complicated, starring Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep. It was OK, but predictable and not half as funny as I’d hoped it would be.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Another day passing

This morning, John was here so went for a good long walk at Roundhay park with Louis. Lots of lovely flowers, very peaceful. Killed some more time.
Only a week to go now and I’ll be on the train to Exeter. I’ve given up trying to get any proper work done. I just don’t have the energy.
I’ve written letters to my 3 aunts to say I’m sorry they’re not going to  the funeral and that they’d be very welcome. I used the excuse of asking if they wanted any photos of the family as I’ll be sorting through them while I’m in Exeter.
Now I think I’ll call Denis and see how he is, then go and have a lie down and see if I can squeeze in a bit of a doze.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Taking it easy

I’m not feeling as down as I was, but I’m still finding it hard to actually DO anything. I’ve decided that the best thing I can do is to give in and just waste time for the next nine days, watching TV, doing jigsaws, and staring at crosswords for hours. it's all very well living in the now and thinking of the future rather than the past, the ony probem is, all I can think of in the future right now is the funeral and the probate process. 
I watched the film, One Day, this afternoon. I wasn’t impressed. It was OK, that’s all.I find it hard to accept Anne Hathaway as plain, I had the same problem in the Devil Wears Prada.
Hopefully the mood to work will come back after the funeral. Whenever John goes home, time seems to go backwards. I keep having to ask him to stay over. Luckily he’s willing to do that, or I honestly don’t think I could cope. Having Louis here is good, but although I can talk to him, sadly he hasn’t learned how to talk back yet, and what I need now is conversation, not great conversation, or even interesting conversation, just another person in the house to make time move forwards, rather than backwards.
I had a go at writing my Writers Forum column today. After three false starts I put something down on paper, but I’m not sure if it’s working.
I’ll try again in a day or so, meanwhile, it’s off to watch another film  – Nanny McPhee and the big Bang next I think.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Living in the past

The wind has changed, at least I hope it has. Thanks to some wonderful support form a few on–line friends, I’m feeling much better.
I’ve been taking stock. My past has been very unhappy. My mother didn’t love me and despite spending  most of my life trying to change that, all I succeeded in doing was to make things worse for me..  I have never had a truly loving relationship with a man and my father, well that’s a whole other story. Those are all facts. Luckily for me they all have one thing oin common, they are in the past. It’s up to me what I do from now on. I can carry all that misery with me, like a tortoise with a shell that’s three sizes too big, or I can look forward, concentrate on the good things, even if it’s just a bit of sunshine and some home made cake to eat.
Now I  have to decide what to do with the book I was writing. I’ve finished all the stuff about my past. All that needs to be done is to bring the story up to date. I’m in two minds. One says, shred it. The other says, get it out there because there must be thousands of other people out there, having their lives ruined by selfish, unreasonable, manipulative parents. If I can help one or two of them to start enjoying their lives, surely it has to be worth it? I will give it some more thought over the weekend.
Louis arrives in a couple of hours. The sun is shining. I’m tempted to gout side, but I have some catching up to do, workwise so it looks like I’ll be stuck inside for quite a while. I  haven’t been able to think straight for the last two weeks, so if you were hoping to hear from me, or I owe you feedback on a story, or I haven’t replied to a message, or followed your blog, anything like that, get in touch and let me know. You can get me on
Now for some positive stuff.
I’m in an on line writing group called the Seriously Serious Scribes. On Wednesday, somebody on the site mentioned a new on line market for short stories where you get paid royalties if people download your work.  I made myself send them four stories – it didn’t take much effort, I have hundreds on file and they didn’t mind if they’d been published. Yesterday, they accepted three of them with some really nice comments too. I also received my first ever royalty statement (I’ve had them for anthologies but was never actually paid anything) saying that Byker books owed me twenty something pounds for e versions of my books on Kindle. The one on writing fillers sold more than 100 copies which isn’t bad.
Now to wrap up another parcel. I'm selling my book, THE WRITER’S TREASURY OF IDEAS, from my web site ( It comes with a free mini guide to short story competitions. Sales aren’t exactly booming but it’s still early days. Now for a big favour. If anyone reading this belongs to a library, could you ask them to stock my book? I would really love to get some PLR. If you’re going to Swanwick, you could even ask them to order it for you. I’d be happy to pay you back the reservation fee when I see you or offer you a discount on any of my books.
That’s it for now. I have so many fiddly little jobs that need doing, and if I don’t do them now, I’ll have no chance once loveable Louis arrives. .

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Thanks for calling!

The days are passing incredibly slowly at the moment. Yesterday I was crawling up the wall, desperate for somebody to talk to. It got so bad, I ended up calling the minister who’s doing the funeral service. Today I feel a bit more composed, although the time is still dragging, a matter that isn’t helped by the change in the weather. It snowed overnight but has mostly been washed away by the rain. It’s dry now but the sky’s still grey so there could be more on the way. Hear I am, bleating on about the weather, trying to get a few more seconds to go ticking past.
I had 2 calls from friends today (thanks Helen, thanks  Rae) which has been such a boost. People find it hard to know what to talk about when somebody is grieving when actually it really doesn’t matter. I’d happily talk about politics or the national debt right now, just to have a conversation.
Denis called too to tell me that I needed to speak to the insurance company about the house insurance. We had a chat about the funeral, what outfit Mum’s going to wear (I'm so glad he didn't choose her favourite - black) the refreshments afterwards and who might be going. So far, it seems that nobody from Mum’s side of the family will be there, apart from me. I’m surprised and a little disappointed, but I’m also relieved as that means there’s less likely to be any trouble.   
Tomorrow, all being well, the dogs go home, and I can clean and fumigate the house in time for the lovely Louis to arrive on Friday. Their owner wants me to look after them again for 3 days in July and again for a longer stretch in the autumn, but I really don’t want to. I feel bad about that, but I have no idea how long probate’s going to last, or where exactly I’ll be when it’s over. All I know do is that if there’s enough money left over, I want a holiday as soon as possible. I want to chill out and do as little as possible – a leisurely cruise, two weeks on the continent  or a long weekend in a comfortable hotel, whichever I can afford, I’m going to grab.
All I hope and pray is that all the legal stuff will be over, if not by my birthday (end June), by the time Swanwick comes along. I had an amazing time there last year and this time, I want to make even more of it.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Wishing my life away

I’m not coping with this as well as I’d hoped. I have work I could be doing, but I can’t face it, not even reading a story somebody sent for me to look at.
I wish I had somebody to talk to. I could call Cruse, but I’d probably end up feeling more upset. My emotions are all over the place. Time has gone into double slow mode. I’m hoping it will get easier when these two dogs have gone home on Thursday. I’m finding it hard to keep my patience with them. It doesn’t help that Sally gives off the most disgusting smells.
At a time like this, people need friends and family. I have no family that wants to speak to me, and any friends I thought I had seem to have vanished like mist on a warm day. It’s hard to know what to say to people who are grieving and sad, but right now, even a chat about the weather would be better than nothing.  
If the dogs weren’t here, I could go into Leeds and wander round the shops or go see a film, but I can’t leave them that long. John, who has been round here quite a lot as I’ve needed the company is at an auction. Tonight he’s going to his Mercedes club, so I can’t even talk to him. I can’t believe it’s still only the 3rd of April.
The fact that it’s raining doesn’t help, though I must admit the garden needed it.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Waiting for the funeral

Although I feel less tense, and even managed to get some sleep last night, I am still more upset than I expected. My mother caused me so much pain and distress while she was alive, I expected to feel relieved, even glad, when she was gone. It’s made me realise one shocking fact, I really did care about her. Now I see that, it explains the lengths I went to to try and please her. I’ll never do that now of course.
I was on the phone for ages last night. The minister, I think she’s a humanist, who’s speaking at the funeral wanted to know about Mum and asked me for some happy memories. I couldn’t’ think of any. In the end, we spoke about Mum’s dogs, her work with children, her brothers and how she liked the garden. She’s going to sound like a dear sweet little old lady, and why not. A funeral isn’t the time for the absolute truth. I remember sitting at my father’s funeral as the eulogy made him out to be a good husband and family man, but I didn’t say anything. There was no point. The same applies to my mother. After speaking to the minister, I managed to get hold of Denis only to find he’d been busy mending things at the house, and deadheading daffs, so didn’t hear the phone.  
Like him, I’m filling my days with activities like going to the shops, pottering in the garden, stripping wallpaper and baking. I can’t bear the thought of actual writing at the moment. I’ve just made my favourite gluten free lemon polenta cake which doubles as a pudding. For some reason, I’ve been craving sweet things, far more than I normally do. I hope that wears off soon, or by the time the funeral comes along, I’ll be huge.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Too tired to do very much

All I’ve done today is answer some emails and work in the garden for a couple of hours  and I feel as though I’ve run a  marathon. I tried calling Denis to see how he was, but there was no reply. I’ll try again later. Now, I’m going to shut the computer down and crash out.