Thursday, 31 May 2012

Rollercoaster day

I was having a good day – went to the creative writing class at God Neighbours, then gave a talk and q and a session during lunch where I sold 6 copies of my book, then on to crossword class.
Came home to a message from Mum’s GP saying he wanted to talk to me. Long and short – had a half hour conversation with him during which I discovered that my mother, via her solicitor, had spoken about revoking the Enduring Power of Attorney. The solicitor asked the doctor to confirm that she had the mental capacity to do this. The GP replied, in no uncertain terms that she did not have the capacity.
The conversation shook me, as I thought it might. The doctor confirmed that Mum had said to him that she didn’t want me to take over her finances. Sadly what has not been recorded is the fact that she told me, many many times that she did, and that she did NOT want social workers, or her carer to take over.
After that call, I went on lone to find a reply to my complaint to the solicitor. I’d written to complain about the £850+ bill I had to pay when they’d none no real work. I’d also queried why I was denied access  to the EPA.
They fobbed me off, as I knew they would. This is the email I sent back to them, just now.  
Dear Amy or Bridget

Thank you for your reply which goes along the lines I expected. 
I would still query the charge to me for talking with Denis. If such a consultation is to be charged to the estate, the executor should be informed beforehand. Also, Denis tells me that he only came into the office because Cartridge's asked him to, thereby adding to the bill. 
I would also like to query the following point, quoted from your letter.

4.            In relation to your late mother's Enduring Power of Attorney, we were unable to release the document to you without instructions from your mother to do so.

As executor of my mother's will, I have been able to speak to her GP. He confirms that Cartridge's asked him if she had the capacity to revoke the EPA and he replied that she did not. My mother suffered from dementia. She could not therefore issue any such instructions. It is now clear to me that Cartridge's have acted illegally. They have chosen to ignore medical opinion and instead listened to a woman with dementia, a woman incapable of making her own decisions, a woman who would say anything to gain attention, a woman who at exactly that same time in her life was telling me, up to 30 times a day, that she didn't want social workers running her affairs and that she was unhappy at home with Denis. I should have been allowed to register the EPA as when that happens, anyone who wishes to object has the chance to do so. Then it would have been up to the Court of Protection to decide, not a solicitor who only knows part of the story.

I await your reply with interest.
Linda Lewis
I am so shaken up, I feel like a pepper pot. This is no good for me at all, but, and it’s a ginormous but, I hate injustice. I therefore have no choice but to carry on fighting this. If I don’t, there is absolutely no point in anyone giving their children power of attorney if a solicitor can decide to ignore it. 

If you're reading this and think you can help me see justice done, please get in touch. Not being allowed to register that  EPA has not only cost me money, it's cost me more than a year of my life as I haven't been able to write fiction sicne February 2011. 

Pushing an elephant up the stairs

It’s strange how intimately my emotions are linked to how I feel physically. Going into town to hand in probate forms wasn’t difficult, it’s less than ten minutes on the train and an was walk both ends, but when I got home, I felt shattered. I tried to make myself do some work but it was like (to quote REM) pushing an elephant up the stairs.
A while ago, I gave myself until June 28th before I even began to think abut getting back on track, yet I still find myself getting annoyed at my lack of energy and this, very annoying, inability to settle to anything. I have, finally, booked a few days away. I left it too late for Scotland which was fully booked so I’ve ended up with 4 days in Great Yarmouth, a place I haven’t been to since I was seventeen. I chose that particular holiday as it’s by the sea, which I love. I have no idea what I’ll do when I get there. I might take a trip or two, or stay in my room and chill. I might even, dare I say it, write something – you never know!
The Writer’s Treasury of Ideas is featured in Writers Bookshelf in the latest Writing Magazine at a discounted prize so if you want to grab a bargain…. The book is also available from my web site ( where it comes with a free mini short story competition guide but you do have to pay full price.
I find trying to sell my book very hard. I feel as though I’m always going on about it in some way or another, but that’s what you need to do if you want to sell enough to make it worthwhile (and to make the publisher want to publish the follow up!)
Today, I’m appearing at the local Good Neighbours, talking about my book while people drift in and out having lunch, chatting or whatever. Not ideal by a long chalk.  I’m thinking of going early and sitting in on the writers group. I haven’t been for more than a year, but today’s the day they have a paid tutor (Yes, I do wish it was me!) and I always enjoyed those meetings more. I’ve always been a sucker for writing exercises.
The gardeners were meant to come this morning to finish off the mess they left behind but they rang last night saying they hadn’t been able to get the stones they need and can they come tomorrow instead? I wasn’t impressed, but what can you do? Right now it’s raining so I only hope it will be fine enough for them to get everything done on Friday as I’d really like to be able to put the plants in over the weekend.
My wonderful new (actually it was made in the 70s) TV cabinet arrived yesterday, so well packed it took an hour to unwrap it. I’m gradually replacing most of the furniture downstairs as part of my ‘new life’. I’ve never had good quality furniture before. I guess I never felt I deserved it. I still don’t in many ways but if I’m going to get better and start to enjoy life, then I need to start liking myself a bit more. If the only way I can think of to do that right now is to buy decent furniture on eBay, then that’s what I’ll have to do.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

paperwork completed, time for a break

Having had the reduced bill from Devon County Council, I decided it was time to tackle the probate forms and get things moving.
I was full of trepidation as I thought the forms would be complicated  They weren’t. Apart from one tricky question regarding Mum’s pension which was easily answered by a quick phone call, it was a doddle. It rather begs the question, why do solicitors charge so much for straightforward cases. I’m so glad I decided to ‘do it myself’.The forms were a bit daunting (40 pages of notes for the Inheritance Tax one) and it was emotionally draining completing them, but it's been worth it so save so much money.
The forms completed, I now have to deliver them to the probate office (I’d rather not trust the post) then wait to be called for interview.  I have a new TV cabinet due to arrive tomorrow so I’m not sure when I’ll get there. It might have to be Friday unless John is free to come round, then I can go out and let him take delivery.  
I was so relieved to get the paperwork  done, I went on line to book a short break with National Holidays. Unfortunately the one I wanted was full (Scotland) so I’m off to Great Yarmouth instead. It’s by the sea, so that’s good enough for me. 
I sold some more books today, via the web site which is good, plus I've gained another pupil bringing me up to three. I'm behind with my other two pupils so I'm hoping this new lady will give me a shot in the arm and I can catch up. 
As it’s a bit cooler now, I think I might go and tackle the grass mowing, otherwise, I’ll just slump into the nearest chair. 
Overall, a rewarding, if hard day. 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Workshop over

Workshop over, went well, despite the low numbers. I sold 2 copies of Why Short Stories Are Rejected which was good, seeing as only four people turned up.  
My friend, Judy, who was going to come along called just before I left to say she’d had an argument with a wardrobe door and was in A and E with a hairline fracture!
After the workshop, I had a very quick look round the food fair in Millennium Square. It was heaving with people and so hot, but was still wonderful fun – lots of free samples, glorious smells and very very nice raspberry ice cream. I LOVE ice cream. To me, it says comfort and luxury and I indulge myself as often as I can.
I came home to a reply from D C C. I wrote to them asking them to reduce the bill for care home fees as, IMO, they hadn’t carried out their procedures fairly. To my delight, they agreed and sent me a bill reduced  by £8000. The only problem is I have to pay it within 14 days, so now I have to juggle funds, take money from my ISA and empty an account I’ve only just opened in order to be able to pay it in time. Saving £8000 is a big incentive so I’m sure I’ll find a way somehow or another.
Now I want to crash out and go to sleep, but I can’t. I only have until Monday to come up with an essay for the next Leeds Writers Circle competition. It doesn’t help that I’m not exactly clear what an ‘essay’ is. The last time I wrote one of those was for my degree. I wouldn’t bother entering except there are prizes for first second and third, and it costs nothing to enter. That’s the kind of competition I find very hard to resist, so it’s time to grab a bite to eat, and put my thinking cap on.

Not much to say

I’m not blogging very much as I don’t have a lot to say right now.
Unless I’m doing something trivial, like a jigsaw, going to an auction ( I went to one with my ex yesterday as it seemed easier than staying at home)  etc, I don’t actually want to do anything. It all feels like such an effort. I know – it takes time, I need to be kind to myself and so on and so on, but I’ve had it with all that. I have to decide what I want to do from now on. I’m even thinking about giving up writing altogether. I’m fairly sure that’s just my mood talking but is it?
Everything and anything sends my emotions in a flat spin. 
Take yesterday. 
Last week I wrote to Mum’s GP to try and find out some of the medical background to see if I could argue against the care home fees, and discover why I was never allowed to register the EPA. Yesterday, I received a letter from Mum’s solicitor enclosing a letter from the GP. He’d written to them asking if there was a later will than the one I’d sent him a copy of. The solicitor had refused to answer, stating instead that they were passing his correspondence on to the executrix (ie me) but not telling the doctor who that was. It’s sheer bloody mindedness and so unnecessary. Now the doctor is off on annual leave so I face another wait. 
I’m sure that in normal circumstances I’d rise above all this pettiness, but I don’t have the strength at the moment.
In an hour, I have to go into Leeds to run a workshop. It’s baking hot, only 3 members of my writers club have signed up, and I would rather call the whole thing off, but I know that if I do that, my confidence may not return in time for Swanwick, and that’s something I really DON’T want to risk.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Drama improvisation, lunch and a short listed poem

After a drama improvisation, working with young people, at Heydays this morning, I met up with another Linda who I met when she came to my book launch in April. We had lunch and a pleasant chat, but when she asked if I wanted to go on to Debenhams, I had to say no. It was just TOO hot. I really don’t do heat, particularly when just a  couple of days ago I was wearing gloves and a scarf. How are we meant to acclimatise??????
The drama this morning was good but I found that the young people lacked much by way of an imagination. They also didn’t listen to what they were being told to do. It was still interesting though.  The man in charge, Ollie, had so much energy, it was a pleasure to be able to work with him, even if only briefly.
I’m now home with the blinds drawn and my feet in a bowl of cold water. The conservatory is an oven and the garden not much better. My plan to make banana cake has been shelved – there’s not way I’m putting the oven on in this heat.
Almost forgot, I’ve had a poem short listed in a competition run by Leeds Council. It was on the theme of truce. I’ve been invited to the award ceremony so I might just go along, just because it’s something different and right now, anything different is good.

Monday, 21 May 2012


I’ve been quiet lately mainly because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.
Now Mum has gone,  and John has his own place to live,  my life has changed completely.
For the first time for as long as I can remember, I can put myself first and do what I want for a change. That sounds easy, but from where I’m standing, it’s anything but because I have no idea what that means. The one thing I really DO want is a warm and loving family but you can’t buy one of those on eBay (if you could, I would).
I’ve been doing the odd bit of work, but apart from my Writers Forum column, nothing new, just revisions and such like.
I’m very aware that I’ve fallen behind with all kinds of things.  I’m sure there are emails I should have replied to, and I’ve kept both my writing pupils waiting longer than I would like, so I’m taking this opportunity to say, please bear with me, and if you were expecting to hear from me/waiting for me to reply to a message/etc/etc, please give me a nudge.
I had a lovely message via Twitter today from a lady who entered the short story competition I ran in 2010. She paid for a critique, took my advice on board and has just made her first sale to take a Break. Feedback like that is wonderful as it makes the effort worthwhile.
I’d been wondering whether to stop offering a feedback service but that message has made me think again.  
The one thing I know I do want to do is write another book for writers. I just have to hope my lack of marketing activity with The Treasury hasn’t put the publisher off.
Now to finish the final tweaks to my column, then see if I can find a story or two to send to Yours, or The Weekly News, or maybe catch up with my writing pupils, or go and do some gardening seeing as the weather’s calmed down a bit.
Or I just might do a jigsaw…..

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Slow but steady

Inspired by yesterday’s sale to The People’s Friend, I spent some time this morning sending some more stories out – 2 to TPF and my once–a–month sub to My Weekly. The MW one needed lengthening to fit their word count requirements. I find adding words far harder than cutting them, but I didn’t have much choice.
After lunch, it was off to Barclays with a copy of Mum’s death certificate which they copied and sent to Head Office, or wherever it is that deals with closure of accounts. Once it gets there, they’re going to pay the funeral bill so that’s one debt out of the way. No word from anyone else yet so it’s back to playing the waiting game. After the bank, it was time to go to crossword class. We were on form today, completing four cryptics in just over an hour.
I came home just in time for the delivery of the pond edging I ordered a couple of days ago. The next job on my list was my Writers Forum column. I’ve written most of it, and hope to get it finished tomorrow.
Helen Yendall recently ran a flash fiction competition on her blog (  the prize being a copy of my book THE WRITER’S TREASURY OF IDEAS. Her blog is brilliant and is well worth a look. She’s put all the short listed entries on there. I have to say I completely agree with her choice of winner and was more than happy to send them their prize.
Right now, I’m feeling absolutely shattered again even though I’ve done not very much at all. I’ve decided to try and stop worrying about my lack of energy, and give myself until my birthday to get over Mum’s death. Hopefully I will have done most of the probate work by then too.
I’ve also decided, well almost, to take two or three days off and grab a cheap break. It’s just a question of what comes up and when as I don’t much care where I go, so long as I can escape for a while.
Tonight, I made myself a rice pudding. I know you can buy them in tins, but they really don’t taste half as good as home made.
Now all I have to do is prevent myself from eating the whole lot.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Tired but not unhappy

For some reason, I feel worn out today.
I had a late night, and too much wine, at  a Spice dinner shuffle. It went much better than previous ones, mainly because I actually managed to talk to a few people (the red wine helped). I even met a really dishy man (how old fashioned does that make me sound!) but there were so many younger women there…….. Still, while there’s life there’s hope.
This morning, after going to play reading at Heydays (we did part of the Norman Conquests), I was down to run a lunch time special, talking about the new book. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, my mind is still too foggy to think straight, but people seemed to still get something from it.  
By the time I came home, all I felt like doing was curling up into a ball and going to sleep. It was VERY hard to resist that urge but resist it I must. I have to find a balance between being kind to myself and doing nothing. Doing nothing is bad. It’s a sure route back to depression and I do NOT want to go there again, so I’m about to move some furniture! Regular readers will know that I’ve done a lot of furniture moving lately as I’ve tried to make this house feel like mine. Today the plan is to move the TV so it’s the other end of the room (which means moving a book case, jammed with books), then  I can move the chairs and not have to block any of the light from the French doors.
When I got home, it was to some good news. A story sale to The People’s Friend. I’d been trying, on and off, for ten years to sell to them and never made it. This year, when I’m not writing anything new, they suddenly start to buy which is great. This is my 4th. If anyone reads TPF and notices one of my stories in print, do let me know as I wouldn’t want to miss my first appearance in the magazine.
I also had some really great feedback from somebody who bought my book. I’ve included it here with her permission.

Dear Linda,

Thanks so much for sending your fantastic book. I've read quite a few help for writing books but yours is written with such honesty and with the best ideas ever. It's already proving to be incredibly useful to me. It has also helped me over my hang-ups about writing anything which may have been taken from other stories/songs/films etc.

The help guidelines for competitions is superb too. Thanks so very much for putting your knowledge and expertise out there to help those who, like me, love writing but have been so uncertain in so many ways.

I would absolutely love to catch up with you at Swanwick. Will do my best to be there.

Many thanks for your help and congratulations on your fabulous book.

Kindest wishes,


Feedback like that gives me a warm glow. It’s better than a course of Prozac any day of the week.
Anyone’s who’s thinking of buying The Writer’s Treasury of Ideas can ask to see a free extract by emailing me at .

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


I’m doing a ‘lunchtime special’ at Heydays tomorrow to promote my book, The Treasury of Ideas.
I hadn’t given it much thought until this morning as I really didn’t feel up to it (still don’t really).  
I’ve put something together but I’m not sure how it will come across. As giving talks fills me with trepidation, I’m trying to follow the advice in Feel the fear and do it anyway. Basically the book says, that if people over prepare for something and it goes well, they will give credit to the preparation so that the next time they have to do the task, they will probably end up doing even more preparation. The book advises to cut down on worry and planning and basically just go for it. Then, if it goes well, you know it’s down to you. It’s quite a scary thing to do, but then that’s what it’s all about – feeling the fear but doing it anyway.
What I’ve done is write a few notes as prompts and simply take it from there.
After lunch, I headed to Good Neighbours where I’ve been trying to get a mind games group off the ground for a few months now. I inherited the group before it had even started and it’s never really got going. Today, nobody came so they’ve decided to cancel it. I’m, frankly, relieved as it gives me a bit more breathing space. Once I get sorted, I can think about something else to do.
As I was out, I decided to trawl the various pawnbrokers/gold buyers in the shopping centre to see if I could sell some of Mum’s jewellery. I thought about eBay but unless you’re sure what you’re selling that can lead to complications. There wasn’t anything of much value. In the end I accepted £100 for some of it, and decided to keep one of the rings. It’s silver which suits me better than gold. I’ve still got three silver and marcasite brooches left which will probably end up on eBay. Not much has happened on the probate side today. Liverpool Victoria sent my documents back and I had a form from Nationwide for after probate, but no word from the Exeter estate agents yet.
The gardening people came back and we’re sorted out what they’re going to do to tidy things up. I’ve ordered some stone faced liner for the pond which covers and protects the liner from the sun. Once it arrives, the gardeners will fit it and fix it in place. Once it’s actually finished, I can put some plants in. I’ve got dozens lined up waiting.
Tonight, I’ve booked a dinner shuffle with Spice and I’m actually going to go. I’ve cancelled so much lately, but tonight deserves a special effort. I just hope the rain stays off for a few hours.
 . I’v’e written  

Monday, 14 May 2012

Struggling again today.

Each time the phone rings or the post comes, I tighten up. I’ve asked Mum’s doctor for information about her health so that I can decide whether there are any grounds to reduce the care home fees. Her doctor was involved last year when I had al the trouble with the EPA and Social Services and I guess I’m scared what I might find out. I’ve also written to Devon County Council and Mum’s solicitor.
I’ve had a morbid fear of confrontation all my life. As a result, loads of people have used me as doormat and I’ve come to expect that kind of treatment. It’s very very hard for me to stand up for myself but oh so easy to take the blame and feel the guilt, even when I know I’ve done nothing wrong.
My emotions are so near the surface at the moment  that anything can have me in floods of tears – a kind word, a daft film, seeing other people happy – they can all set me off. What I want right now, more than anything, is to be part of a family, to have somebody to love who loves me back. Whether that will stay a dream forever, I don’t know, but (here comes the cliché) while there’s life, there’s hope.
On Wednesday I’m giving a 40 minute talk at the West Yorkshire Playhouse as a lunch time special. Right now, I have no idea what I’m going to talk about, but something will occur to me I’m sure. Give me an audience, it doesn’t matter how small, and I can forget I’m me and become somebody else entirely. How I’d love to be able to do that when there’s nobody else around.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

One day at a time

Taking it easy for a while.
I’ve had all kinds of crazy ideas like moving, or buying another property on a buy to let. Now I’ve decided to do nothing much at all which today translated as a bit of work on this ongoing book proposal, putting some things for sale on eBay and watching the Grand Prix. If I can do at least one work related thing every day, that’s going to have to be enough for now. My plan tonight is to watch THE BRIDGE, the addictive Danish crime series which I recorded last night.
Message for L. Thanks for your comment. My emotions are still all over the place, up and down, and in the air, but I do feel as though I’m making progress. Do you want to get together for a coffee sometime? If so, send me an email!

Saturday, 12 May 2012


I’m making steady progress.
I’ve arranged for 2 estate agents to value Mum’s house and to give me an idea of how rent to charge.
I’ve had a demand from DWP for 3 weeks state  pension that was paid after Mum died. As it was paid into the joint account, I asked Denis to cover it. He’s sending a cheque.
I also wrote to Devon County Council. There’s a chance they might be able to put a charge against the house, so that they get their money when the house is sold which I’d prefer to having to pay now. They needed a copy of the will to check I was the sole beneficiary.
In the covering letter, I also made a complaint, asking them to consider reducing the bill because of their mistakes, deviations from procedure and so on. I’ll have to wait and see how they react.
The fact is, I’d rather pay a reduced bill now than face spend months arguing about it, filling in forms, having to go to court and so on.
This morning I went to the local church as my gardening club were having a plant sale. I can never resist those and came back with pinks, lupins, hostas etc.
Then I spent a merry couple of hours (make that four) going through my novel as the publisher is FINALLY talking about putting it up for sale as an eBook. It was meant to come out in December. I’ll believe it when it happens.
Now to check how my things are doing on eBay. I had a message earlier saying that the old drivers licences from the 30s I’d listed had been withdrawn as you’re not allowed to sell them on eBay. Baffling!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Steady progress

I made good progress yesterday. I’ve now written and sent all the letters to the various institutions, now I have to wait for them to reply. It’s odd how procedures vary. One insurance company was very helpful over the phone, the other, hardly said a word, but the biggest surprise came yesterday morning when I went into town to let one of Mum’s building society accounts know that she had died. After copying the will and the death certificate, and filling in a form, they closed both accounts and gave me the money, right there and then. Apparently, their rules have recently changed and so long as the amount is less than £30,000 and they have enough evidence that they’re paying the right person, they don’t have to wait for probate. Luckily my own bank was a hundred yards away so I could pay the cheques straight in. It’s such a help as I’ve been having to take money from my ISA which I hate having to do as it’s tax–free.
Today I’m taking a rest from probate and tackling a few jobs I’ve been putting off. I have more work to do on the book proposal, I also need to sort out why my novel isn’t on sale as an ebook and prepare an invoice for my favourite 2 dogs when they come back at the end of June. I’ve also started to put a few things that I found at Mum’s, up for sale on eBay. This afternoon, the plan is to go and see jack, my crossword guru, in hospital. If I can get most of those things done, it will give me a sense of achievement.
I’ve just made tea. The plan now is to go back to bed to try reading a novel for the first time since Mum died,

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Call me crazy (which I probably am) but I’m having a go at doing probate myself. The quote from the Co–op yesterday (£5,500) was enough to persuade me to at least try. I’ve made good progress so far, writing letters to banks, building societies and so on, now I have to pop out so that I can call on Nat West and Halifax in person, that way I won’t have to post the original death certificate as I don’t have many copies.  So far, it’s going OK, although I do keep mixing all the bits of paper up and launching into panic mode.
Good news from Filament in that he’s managed to persuade Writing Magazine to do a review (July issue, out June) and possibly run a competition based around my book. I feel bad that I’m not doing anything to help sales at the moment so I’m glad my publisher is still hard at it.
These past few weeks I’ve felt like I’m on a rollercoaster, my emotions have been all over the place. I came home to a bill from Devon C Council for just over £18,000 and was so happy, as if that was right, I’d have a lot more money than I’d expected. Of course they got it wrong and the full £32,000 are owing. I’ve asked them if they will consider putting a charge against the house so that they get paid when I eventually sell it (once Denis dies or moves out) as I really want some extra cash so that I’m able to do any repairs that crop up. One of the really annoying things is that Denis is living in the house rent free as until probate is granted, the house isn’t actually mine. There’s also been a small overpayment of Mum’s state pension which, of curse, went into the joint account and which the DWP want back. I’ll ask Denis for the money but I’m not sure he'll  want to pay.

Monday, 7 May 2012

I'm back, sort of...

First a quick thank you to all the people who’ve been in touch, wondering if I’m OK.
The truth is, I’m not sure I am right now.
My head is full of fog and I don’t feel like doing much at all. Going down to Devon again really brought it home to me how alone in the world I am right now.
I’ve had to spend most of today sorting through papers, ready for the Co–op to quote for probate having had to sack the first solicitor.
Once tomorrow’s over, I’ll have a better idea where I stand (I’ve had a bill from Devon County Council for care home fees but need to check with them if it’s the final one).
In the end, I didn’t get very far with Mum’s partner. He denied hiding any money away so I’ve had to accept that, even though I’m not convinced it’s the truth. In the end, I’d rather stay on good terms with him.
My ex took me to Devon as he wanted to visit his family. He stayed with his daughter until Friday morning, then came to my hotel. From there we went to Mum’s house and we filled the car twice with clothes and other bits and pieces that went straight to the RSPCA charity shop. Then we filled the car again with things I wanted to bring home. I have no idea how many times  I went up and down the stairs, but it was a LOT.
I’m not in the mood to write much more right now but will try and fill in some of the gaps in a day or two.