Wednesday, 17 December 2008

A busy week!


It has been one of those weeks when housework, shopping and present wrapping have taken precedence. I've done a tiny bit of writing in that I've started a new womag story inspired by a comment a friend made on Monday night. I still haven't finished the story I started last week. I am very good at starting stories, but hopeless at writing endings!
I've been exercising a fair bit and will continue to do so over Christmas, as my jeans are already tighter than they were in the summer! Tonight I'm off out for a meal at a local bistro with my two 'walking' friends. I'm just hoping I'm not too hungover tomorrow, as I have to be at the Farmers' Market for 9am to collect my meat order and then have to be at my Cardio Box class by 10.30am.
I've been doing cleaning and housework this week. A bit anyway. More than I usually do, which is to just put the vacuum round. This is in preparation for any visitors who might call in. My friend has already said she's coming for lunch on Friday, so that's given me a bit more incentive. I keep promising myself I'll give the bedrooms a good clear out but never seem to get round to it. Megan's room is so full of toys I really don't know how we'll fit any more in.
We've spent far too much on the children this year, mainly because Matthew said he wanted a long leather coat. A mere snip at £143.95! And I couldn't just give him that and nothing else, could I? Then I felt I had to spend as much on Megan to make things fair. Oh well, at least Christmas Day will be fun. The best bit for me is watching the children opening their presents.
There are still a few copies of The Yellow Room #1 left. I haven't received many votes on the stories, which is a shame. In fact, I haven't had much feedback in general, which is a bit worrying! Once January is here, I must get started on Issue 2. Very exciting!
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and all the best for 2009. I may not have chance to blog again now before the new year.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

More positive news!



I'm feeling slightly more cheerful today, despite being very busy wrapping and posting several presents for relatives and friends who live further afield.

This afternoon I found out that my story, Lady Killers, had been shortlisted in the WriteLink Xmas Chillers Competition. There were 100 entries and 27 were shortlisted (includes the winning stories).

My writing hasn't gone well this week, as I've just been too busy. I still haven't finished the 3,000 word story I started on Tuesday and I doubt whether I'll have a spare moment tomorrow. There's always next week! In the meantime I must finish writing my Christmas cards!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

A Day Of Disappointments


You know I mentioned my absent-mindedness/foggy brain yesterday? Erm, yes, well, it led to a big disappointment today. It was Megan's Christmas play at school. She was Cow 1 and had a speaking part. Nige couldn't go, so he asked me to video the play for prosperity. All well and good, except that I hate filming and I'm not used to the camcorder or whatever it's called these days. I took my mother-in-law along and she suggested we sit on the back row so that I could stand up to get the best view to film. Megan was on the stage and I got a perfect view of her in the lovely cow costume her nanna had made. The play began and I started to film. Then I went to zoom in and pressed the wrong button. Something odd happened. I carried on filming, then my arm got stiff, so I sat down, having switched off the camcorder. After a minute's break I stood up and started filming again. By the end of the performance my vision was blurry from staring at the little screen on the camcorder and my arm felt as if it was about to drop off. Still, I felt I had some good shots of Megan and her classmates. Megan was word perfect, spoke up loudly and clearly, and I successfully zoomed in this time when it was her turn to speak.
My mother-in-law came back for tea and we all looked forward to watching the performance on the TV afterwards. It all looked great on film... for two minutes, then nothing! Blue screen. End of film. What had gone wrong? Nige fiddled around and said, 'Nope, there's no more.' He thinks I'd probably pressed the 'pause' button by mistake, so the majority of the performance was lost. I was gutted. I overreacted, of course. Nige told me not to make such a big thing of it. Easier said than done. This was Megan's last nativity, as she goes into the Juniors in September. It was one of those 'memorable childhood milestones' and I'd missed it. Well, I hadn't really, but it felt as if I had. The one reason I don't like filming these things is that you can't sit down, relax and enjoy the performance. I was there, but I didn't really see or hear what was going on, because I was staring at a little screen, trying to capture the moment. Except I didn't. Aargh! Yes, I'm beating myself up about it and I know I shouldn't. I'm sick of hearing, 'It can't be helped,' and 'We all make mistakes'.
I guess I'm a bit edgy just lately. I feel as if I'm teetering on the edge. Menopausal maybe? I am prone to depression and it's been a battle to remain positive the past few months. Silly things like failing to record the school play, losing Megan's sweatshirt (which has since turned up, by the way) and losing the padlock for my gym locker (the new one I bought didn't fit either!!) add up to make me feel like one big loser in life. Daft, I know, but negative feelings have a habit of snowballing. I know I just have to pick myself up and get on with it, but it's not easy.
I had two further disappointments today. The big brown envelope with my own handwriting on the address label came through the letter box causing me to mutter, 'Not already!'. Yes, it was my story dutifully returned by Park Publications along with the results of their Debut Magazine Competition. I wasn't even shortlisted. Feeling in a more positive mood this morning, I thought, oh well, that's another story I can send out. I don't feel quite the same about it this evening. Then I downloaded my emails and there was one entitled, 'Southport Writers Competition'. In a fit of optimism I thought they were letting me know I'd won a prize, having entered their comp in October. No such luck! Again, it was a list of results and I hadn't even been shortlisted. Oh well, another story free to send elsewhere. Except of course I now have my doubts about both those stories and all day I've been mulling over radical rewrites.
Tomorrow is another day. I hope I'll be in a more positive frame of mind, unless I'm hungover, which I probably will be! I think one of my new year's resolutions will have to be (again) to stop attempting to drown my sorrows. Actually, I feel better just having sat down and written this blog!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Yellow Room Competition Results

I've finally got round to the final judging of The Yellow Room Competition. I found it very hard to choose between the stories which came second and third. So much so, that I awarded a joint third prize. I hope to publish at least some of these stories in a future issue of The Yellow Room. The winning story will be published in the second issue. It really stood out from the crowd for me.
1st Prize - At The Launderette by Sarah Barr
2nd Prize - Let's Change Loving by Amanda Field
Joint 3rd Prize - Colouring In by Suzie Lockhart-Smith
Such Terrible Devotion by Dorothy Schwarz
I've been busy writing again today. I started a new story this morning and had managed over 2,000 words by lunchtime. This has made me feel much better because yesterday I didn't achieve very much at all, writing or editing-wise. I think I'm going to miss my target of submitting four stories this week, but if I can get two new ones written, then I'll be happy.
Christmas is interfering with so much already. I must go into town tomorrow and buy the last of the presents. I also need to finish writing the Christmas cards this week. I haven't even thought about buying a tree and decorating it yet. We usually leave that until the last minute. It's also Megan's Christmas play tomorrow. A nativity-type thing again. She's a cow this year (she was a donkey last year). She also has a speaking part, bizarrely enough! My dear mother-in-law made her costume, which looks great. It cost me slightly less than last year's, which was £16. I spent £10 on material and a bit of elastic. I'm sure the school could recycle last year's costumes, so we didn't have to fork out every year. Okay, just call me Scrooge!
I've had a week of losing things, which is so annoying. Last week it was the padlock to the locker at the gym (which cost me a fiver!!) and this week we've lost Megan's school sweatshirt. I'm sure I was carrying it when we came out of school yesterday, but must have dropped it, as I can't find it anywhere. I'm berating myself that I didn't notice. My only excuse for my absent-mindedness is that I'm so busy thinking about plots and characters, that there's little room for anything else!
Wasn't it icy this morning? Some of the roads round here were lethal. The gritters hadn't gone out last night and certainly hadn't gritted the main road on the estate where Megan's school is. It was like an ice rink. Fortunately, Nige phoned me to warn me how bad it was, so I left the car at home and we walked. Lots of vehicles were skidding and swerving, including the service bus, which hit the kerb. I think I made the right decision to do the 40 minute walk to school and back! What with cardio box as well this morning, I've done quite well on the exercise front again today.
Right, I'm off to finish that story!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Four stories per week.


I’m still writing up a storm this week! I’m trying to treat my writing as a ‘proper job’. My aim is to send out four stories per week, either to competitions or women’s magazines. I have to give myself a deadline otherwise I’ve had it!

Last week I entered four competitions: Debut Magazine Comp; Lichfield and District Writers; ‘On the Edge’ Competition and Writersdock Short Story Competition. Wish me luck! There are two I want to enter closing in December and I really must research a few more. I do prefer writing more literary stories for the competitions when there are no taboos regarding theme and language!

I’m finding the women’s magazine stories harder to write. I feel more restricted and can’t write as freely. However, I was editing two stories I’d earmarked for literary competitions when it occurred to me that they’d also sit quite comfortably in Woman’s Weekly. Again, word length is a problem. I just found out today that Take A Break feature stories of 1,100 words and I’ve just shaved off 100 words to fit what I thought was a 1,000 word limit. Damn!

As for The Yellow Room Short Story Competition judging…..I’ve almost finished. I’m trying to decide on first, second and third. Unusually, there isn’t a clear winner for me this time. Nothing stands out and grabs me as an out-and-out winner. Perhaps it’s just me.

Finally, I’ve had very little feedback on The Yellow Room Magazine. The feedback I’ve had has been very general and only three people have voted on the stories, which makes it hard to justify paying the winning author £20! So come on, if you’ve read the magazine, get voting!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Writing Up A Storm!

I've been totally focused on my writing this week. I'm determined to build up a catalogue of work to submit. I'm aiming at the women's magazines again, mainly Fiction Feast and Woman's Weekly and want to submit at least two stories per week to that market.

However, this week I've been focusing on competition stories, as there are several competitions closing on the 30th November. I invested in Carole Baldock's bi-monthly mag, Kudos, which helpfully lists a whole host of writing competitions. I've entered three competitions this week so far and hope to enter a fourth today, but I'm not sure whether I'll get my story polished enough in time. I've written a completely new story, which I'm really pleased with (one of those which seemed to write itself) and reworked four others so far. I've really pulled some older stories to pieces and rewritten large chunks. I'm still not convinced they work, however. We'll see.

My main gripe about short story competitions is the word length. Now, as a competition organiser myself, I realise that it's a huge task reading through 100+ entries and if the word length is over 2,000 words, then the task is even more difficult. However, as a writer I don't like the 2,000 word limit. My stories are usually well over 2,000 words, and won't be shoe-horned into fewer words. I was particularly disappointed to discover the Mslexia competition is only open to stories of less than 2,200 words. The story I had in mind for that is 2,500 words. I hate cutting when I feel the story works well at its current wordage. Does anyone else have this problem? If you look at competition listings, most state that stories must be under 2,000 words.

I guess the answer is to practise writing shorter stories! I'm off to do just that!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Yellow Room Competition Shortlist



I've finally drawn up the shortlist for the first Yellow Room Competition which closed on 30th September.

Here are the shortlisted entries in alphabetical order of entrant:

Emerald Cufflinks by Polly Card

Return Ticket by Michele Darnell-Roberts

The Rain In Spain by Oliver Eade

Let's Change Loving by Amanda Field

Hunting by Rona Frith

A Present for Mummy by Judy Hodson

The Day Kennedy Died by Sue Johnson

The Beads of Change by Julie Ann Lee

Colouring In by Suzie Lockhart-Smith

Changing by Jenny Morris

Such Terrible Devotion by Dorothy Schwarz

Monopoly by Lucy Smith

Where I'd Rather Be by Sarah Steele

At the Laundrette by Sarah Steele

Sunflowers in the Ukraine by Lynne Voyce

Nina and the Fish by Jo Waterworth

Being Human by Jo Waterworth

The Hardest Stone by Elizabeth Wells

I hope to announce the winners in the next week. Watch this space! Good luck to all.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Illness and The Beloved Short Story!


I liken myself to these fuchsias. Bright, cheerful and optimistic a week or so ago, then dead as a dodo this week. Obviously I'm not dead (the fuchsias are, sadly), but I was struck down by the most horrendous tummy bug. Nige thought it was the infamous 'winter vomiting bug' everyone's talking about, although I didn't actually vomit, but plenty of action the other end (sorry to be so graphic!). The griping abdominal pains were excruciating and were coming every two or three minutes in the middle of the night like contractions. In fact, it reminded me very much of being in labour, but without the delightful result!
Enough of that. On the plus side, I have spent the week immersed in women's magazines and daytime TV. I've now convinced myself that I can write fiction for the womags, if only I just sit down and write! I have lots of ideas (I have written those down) and feel I have finally found the right voice. Before I got too poorly I did manage to revamp a couple of stories I'd written for this market back in the late nineties! Yes, it was that long ago when I had a couple of stories published in the womags!
Prompted by one of Sally Zigmond's wonderful blogs, I came up with an idea for The Yellow Room and for this blog. Sally and I both feel that many people who write short stories for competitions and magazines don't actually read good published short stories. How many people educated in the UK study the short story form either in school or university? Very few, because the genre is sidelined in favour of the novel and poetry. So, why not feature a well known and beautifully crafted short story each issue and talk about it? Tickle readers' tastebuds, as it were. Good idea? Perhaps invite readers to talk about their own favourite short story and why they like it so much. What have they learned about the craft of short story writing by reading this particular story?
How about it? Is there a short story which really struck a chord with you and taught you a little more about the genre? Do you read short stories on a regular basis? Do you own collections of short stories? I'd be very interested in hearing from you!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Snowdonia and writing competitions

Our week away in Snowdonia seems months ago. And yes, there was snow on the mountains. It felt like Christmas, not the October half term holiday, especially as there were lots of presents around. Megan turned seven while we were there.

The weather was cold and mostly wet. However, we found plenty of things to do, mainly revolving around Megan's interests. She was in her element as we visited a petting zoo and she go to hold not only a large rabbit and a guinea pig, but two snakes, one of which was rather a large python! She's a braver soul than me!




I love this photo of the Menai Bridge joining Anglesey to the mainland. This is the view from a little pub called The Antelope, which does very cheap and tasty bar meals. The Pinot Grigio wasn't bad either!



On the last night of our holiday there was a spectacular firework display over the lake at Brynteg, the site where our holiday lodge was situated. They also built a huge bonfire, which added to the general autumnal atmosphere. It was Halloween and I found a tacky pair of flashing devil's horns for Megan to wear. Highly appropriate! It also made it very easy to spot her in the crowd.

Since I've been home I've been reading the 115 entries in the first Yellow Room Short Story Competition. I have to say I find the standard pitifully low (apologies to any entrants). Even the entries I've shortlisted don't blow me away. Maybe I'm expecting too much?
The main problem with most of the stories is that they 'tell' rather than 'show'. It's amazing how many short story writers, especially beginners, just can't seem to grasp what is meant by 'show, don't tell'. I think the only answer is to read as many good published short stories as possible. Go to the library and take out collections by Alice Munro, Helen Simpson, Kate Atkinson, Katherine Mansfield or buy competition anthologies from The Bridport and the like. Subscribe to magazines like The Yellow Room!
Other problems are titles. I don't think I've ever come across such a selection of dreary titles, including 'The Message', 'Cat', 'A Spooky Assignment', 'The Library', 'Gifts'. Opening paragraphs don't grab the reader's attention. There isn't any narrative tension; no hook; nothing to make the reader want to continue. Boring, boring, boring. No inventive use of language. Just a straight narrative: So and so did such and such, then this happened. It's like reading a collection of stories written in exercise books by ten-year-olds.
I'm sorry to be so harsh and there are exceptions, but it makes me wonder about the people who enter these competitions. Do they have any idea of what a short story should be? Do they study their craft? Do they read? And why don't people who are submitting to the magazine, those who can clearly write well, enter the competitions? They'd sweep the board.
Rant over.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

How To Write and Sell Short Stories



Sorry about the photo! Whenever I take photos of books I seem to get this awful glare on the cover. Anyway, you get the idea!

I was hoping to write about my week away in Snowdonia with husband and two children, but the lovely photos Nige took are too big to upload and he has to make them smaller. Instead I thought I'd tell you about this brilliant little book I've just finished reading.

I came across Della Galton some years ago now (at least ten!), as she was (and still is) one of the most prolific short story writers for the commercial women's magazines I'd come across. I'm not sure how I first got in touch with her, but we exchanged a few emails and she was incredibly generous with advice and ideas. She's the sort of person you just know is lovely and want to meet.

As far as I know 'How To Write and Sell Short Stories' is the first non-fiction book Della has written and she has a real gift. I think this is one of the best books on short story writing I've read (and I've read a lot!). It's short, punchy and succinct; very much like the stories she writes! Della has had tremendous success in the commercial women's magazine arena. Pick up any of the current 'womags' and you'll probably find at least one story by Della Galton. How does she do it? It's all in this book. As you usually find with prolific and successful writers it comes down to persistence and hard work. Write, write, write. Submit, submit, submit. It's the only way. The more you write, the better you get at it, regardless of the genre. This is probably why I'm not that good a writer! I don't do enough of it! But that's another (long) story and another blog entry.

If you write any kind of short story (there's a chapter on writing the literary short story and stories for competitions), then do buy this book. There are tips from the experts (women's magazine writers and editors mostly), even advice on tax and record keeping. It's the kind of book you refer to again and again. It can't fail to inspire you. It has given me a much-needed kick up the backside, I can tell you!

Anyway, I'm off to write.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

It's Here!!



Finally, the first issue of The Yellow Room Magazine has arrived. I'm so excited. It's like the birth of a new baby. I'm just going off to have lunch and browse through it, then this afternoon I'll be off to the post office to send them out to subscribers. I can't wait to hear what they think once they've read it.

Friday, 17 October 2008

New additions



Not the best photo in the world! These are just a few of the best books I've written this year. If you scroll down a few posts and keep looking on the left hand side, you'll see I've added a list of my favourite books this year as well as a list of blogs I regularly read. I'll add more lists in the near future.

I haven't achieved much in the way of writing this week. I've done a fair bit of blogging, I guess, and written a little more of the story I'm writing for Writelink's Christmas Spine Chiller Competition. I keep getting my priorities all wrong. Hopefully I'll do better next week. Once I've finished labelling and stuffing envelopes for the first issue of The Yellow Room, that is!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Cover Proof

Yesterday I received the cover proof of the first issue of The Yellow Room (see photo). Doesn’t it look good? I’m getting excited now about talking delivery of the first issue on Monday. It’s been a long wait, but I do hope it’s worth it. There hasn’t been a great uptake of subscriptions yet, but I’m hoping once the magazine is available and people have read the first issue, then they’ll want to commit to more.

I’m still reading The Yellow Room Competition entries. There were 115 in total. Nothing has hit me between the eyes yet, but I have shortlisted a few.

I’ve started a new blog called The Purple Kitchen (http://thepurplekitchen.blogspot.com/), which is all about healthy eating, trying to lose weight and exercising. There’s a fair bit about the psychology of it all as well! I hope you’ll take a look!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Bitting and Bobbing

I don't feel as if I've achieved very much recently. I've decided I must have one of those 'butterfly minds' Jane Wenham-Jones talks about. Did I mention I met Jane at the Warwick Words Literary Festival a couple of weeks ago? We had a great time catching up. She's busy writing another novel and doing the literary festival circuit (she's interviewing Richard Madeley about his new book at the Guildford Literary Festival this week!). Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, flitting from one thing to another. I'm good at that.

I've been reading some of the 115 stories entered in the first Yellow Room Short Story Competition. The magazine is at the printers and there have been a few details to address there. I should be taking delivery of the first issue on Monday. Isn't it exciting? I've also been busy organising Megan's birthday party (ten pin bowling with fifteen 7-year-olds on Saturday!), and sorting out a costume for her history day at school today (I bought the material, her Nan made it and Megan looked lovely!). I've been dabbling with short stories again, as the novel is just too big a project to face at the moment. I've also been trying to get my head together generally. Oh yes, and I've been reading novels! Did I mention ironing, shopping, vacuuming, helping with homework, cooking, finding new recipes, reading blogs, emailing friends, writing letters, going for long hikes with friends, going to the gym, keeping up with Strictly Come Dancing and It Takes Two, taking my mother-in-law to the airport....? Makes me sound busy, doesn't it? However, I've felt like a lazy slob the past month or so.

Anyway, the iron is switched on as I write. I did two shirts, then took a break to write this. See what I mean about bitting and bobbing? I'll probably iron two more; switch it off; go to gym; then switch it back on this afternoon! I've stopped telling myself I must focus. I just can't do it!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Yellow Room



This isn't quite the yellow room I'd imagined, but all I could find! It's a bit too bright, isn't it? Not exactly the cosy little den I'd envisaged. Anyway, just to say that it should be just two more weeks before The Yellow Room Magazine is ready to send out to subscribers. Exciting, isn't it? I can't wait for the feedback! I hope we'll have a few lively letters pages similar to those in QWF.

The Yellow Room Competition closes today. I'm hoping for a few more entries in the post, but so far we have over a hundred, which isn't bad considering it's the first year the competition has been running. I'm rather miffed with Royal Mail, as our post wasn't delivered till 5pm yesterday. What's all that about? I remember the good old days when I lived out in the sticks and it was always delivered at 7.30am. The day doesn't feel as if it's started properly until the mail arrives.

I'm almost up to date with submissions and have about three to read. However, printing off acceptance and rejection letters is proving difficult, as my printer needs a new black ink cartridge and it seems as if Viking no longer do their 'order before 12 noon and deliver same day' service. Oh well.

On a more personal note, I've been researching a 'way of eating for life' in the hope of dropping at least another stone and keeping it off. I haven't found the answer yet! And I'm hungry!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Foggy morning, foggy brain!

It feels very autumnal this morning. We also have fog here in Rugby. The weather perfectly mirrors the way I feel. Fogged up and lacking in focus.

I've overdone it on the exercise this week and I'm so stiff; so tired. You know when it hurts to sit down; hurts to stand up? I just want to lie down and read, which is just how I'm going to spend the morning, I think.

It all started with a Spin class on Monday morning. Not feeling great after overindulging on the wine the day before (well, it was my birthday!) really didn't help. After the class I just flopped on the sofa and moaned about feeling exhausted the rest of the day. Tuesday and my calf muscles were screaming. I could barely walk down the stairs. However, it didn't stop me going mad with the housework (what got into me?) and doing an hour on the Wii Fit (including lots of 'step'). Wednesday and my calf muscles were screaming even louder. However, I bravely set off for my Legs, Bums and Tums class, after running a mile or so on the treadmill. And there we had to do more step aerobics and lunges off the step during which I thought my calf muscles were going to snap. Pain, pain! Thursday and my calves were okay, but my hamstrings and glutes were aching like mad. But it didn't stop me going to the Cardio Tone class where I was subjected to an hour of Jane Fonda-type aerobics called Body Attack. Lots of dancey-type moves which I hate. Felt very poncy. I had very little energy and kept looking outside at the sunshine, wishing I'd gone for a long walk with my friends instead. I spent the rest of yesterday wincing every time I sat down and feeling about 92.

It's been a rubbish week for writing. I've hardly opened up my novel file. I feel very guilty about it and annoyed with myself that I seem to have shifted my priorities almost without realising it. Exercise and diet have become my primary focus again. Why? Because I felt very fat. Because I overindulged on wine and chocolate at the weekend. Silly, silly, silly. When will I ever learn? However, I'm feeling slimmer now, thank goodness, and can perhaps do a little less exercise and more writing next week.

I've just rediscovered Marge Piercy after a very kind writer friend bought me her novel, Three Women, for my birthday. I intend to tuck into it any minute now! Gone to Soldiers is one of my all-time favourite books. I recommend it.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Writing and Exercise

I've decided I must have a split personality.

I've also come to the conclusion that writing and exercise don't mix. Shame, because I love both. And I will do both, obviously not simultaneously. Let me explain.

I joined a new gym this week and it's brilliant! I'm fired up with enthusiasm for my exercise regime once more. It had been in the doldrums for a few months. This new place runs various types of exercise class, which is a novelty as the last gym I belonged to for 7 years hardly ran any, and then only boring old Pilates or similar. This week so far I've been to Legs, Bums and Tums and Cardio Tone. Sound quite tame, don't they? Believe me, they weren't. I made the mistake of running on the treadmill for 2 miles and rowing just over 1000m in 5 minutes before the Legs, Bums and Tums yesterday. Talk about hard on the legs. I don't think I've ever done so many squats and lunges as I did in that class! However, it was great fun. I felt quite cocky this morning, as I didn't ache.

Today I went along to Cardio Tone. The instructor warned me at the beginning that there was a fair bit of boxing and martial art type stuff involved. I wasn't fazed. After all, I'd been doing the Davina Cardio Box at home. It was brilliant! Such fun and the instructor was like one of the Gladiators. We all went for it to a stomping fast dance track. I've never packed so many punches in my life. I'm on a real high now after all the 'whooping' and martial art-type noises you make when you're going for it.

This brings me on to my first point. High impact exercise is at odds with the state I need to be in to write. I think I have to be in a kind of semi-comatose state to do the latter. Lost in a kind of dreamy other world, which lends itself well to slobbing around in pyjamas and eating naughty things like chocolate, biscuits and cake. Oh, and mustn't forget the odd glass of wine. Whereas aerobic exercise makes me crave high energy salads and copious amounts of water. Exercise makes me feel very much part of this fast-paced world we live in and to be 'out there'. The two activities just don't marry well at all. I'm perfectly comfortable in both 'states', but it's difficult being in both frames of mind on the same day.

I must keep working at implementing 'the new regime'. I have to write first thing and get that 'at least an hour's worth' done. It would be two hours worth, but my exercise classes tend to start at 10.30am. Such a dilemma!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Sorrow

That melancholic feeling is still with me today, although I do feel reasonably fired up with enthusiasm for The Yellow Room and my novel.

I've just written a (hopefully) moving passage in my novel. I've tried to depict a traumatic episode in one of the characters' childhoods. Not easy! I want tension; drama; a sense of sadness and innocence lost. I also want to avoid mawkishness and sentimentality. Very difficult. I was feeling upset as I was writing it, so maybe that's a good sign!

I'm devoting most of today to sorting out The Yellow Room admin. I have lots of rejection letters to write and very few, if any, acceptances. It's very difficult to know what to say when rejecting someone's story. It's their baby, after all. I just give my honest opinion as to what is wrong with it and why I don't want to publish it. However, I realise some writers get very discouraged by this and are almost put off writing. It's a worry that I might be crushing someone's confidence to that extent. However, the last thing I want to do is compromise the quality of the fiction in the magazine. It's not easy being an editor, you know!

Finally, I've just read a lovely tribute to Richard Wright, the Pink Floyd keyboard player who died yesterday http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/neil_mccormick/blog/2008/09/15/richard_wright_the_great_gig_in_the_sky. I was hoping to see the original band members in concert once more in my lifetime, hopefully with Roger Waters as well, but it is not to be.

Monday, 15 September 2008

The New Routine

I feel as if I'm getting back into a routine now the children are back at school. I really must do more blogging, though. I feel as if I haven't really anything interesting to say! My creative energy is currently being channelled into my novel writing, although I have dabbled with a couple of short stories in the past few days. It's a nice break from the novel, actually. I've also started writing the annual letters to those friends who have birthdays in the few days leading up to mine.

Today has been interesting and different. I got called a 'dizzy slag' by a horrid man who almost stepped off the pavement in front of me today, despite having seen me approach. I haven't felt right all day since! I was on my way to the hairdresser's for my six weekly trim and was looking forward to some pampering. This stupid man ruined it all. Why couldn't he have been more patient or crossed the road in a safer place? Even hairdresser, David's gay anecdotes didn't cheer me up. Then tonight I found out Richard Wright died today. He was the keyboard player and one of the founder members of Pink Floyd, one of my favourite bands. He was only 65. He died after a short struggle with cancer, it seems. I hadn't realised he composed the song, Great Gig In The Sky, which we played at my first husband's funeral.

I'm somewhat vexed that The Yellow Room still isn't at the printers. I was hoping it would be ready to send out to subscribers this month. Now it's looking less and less likely. I had issues with the design AC had come up with and he's gone quiet on me. He's busy working. I have also allowed myself to be overcome with submissions and have a pile of rejection letters to write. The prospect doesn't fill me with joy.

But it's no good, I just have to cheer up, because it's my birthday on Sunday! I'm looking forward to a Sunday roast meal out and cake! My diet will be forgotten for three days this week. I think the cake eating will have to begin on Friday.

Did I mention I'm going to look at a new gym tomorrow?

Monday, 8 September 2008

Kintyre



Our holiday apartment was situated on the top floor of this lovely old house with some spectacular views over the Atlantic and the islands of Jura, Gigha and Islay:



Kintyre was brilliant. The most relaxing holiday I've had in a long time. It was a real 'getting away from it all' holiday. Very few people around, very few cars. Lots of wildlife. And the weather was lovely. It rained once.


There were many highlights. Looking at the seals sitting on the reef from our window as we ate breakfast. Visiting the Linda McCartney Memorial Garden in Campbeltown (I'm a big Wings fan!) and bumping into one of the locals who told us exactly how to get to Paul McCartney's farm up in the hills at Gobagrennan. He wasn't there, but I still got very excited anyway!




The beaches on Kintyre are beautiful. So clean, so empty. Pale sand. We particularly loved Saddell Beach (where they filmed the video for Mull of Kintyre) and Dunaverty Beach. I spent many a happy hour sitting in the sun reading while the children played in the sand or the rockpools.




It all seems so long ago now.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Twycross Zoo and A Mountain of Ironing!



I've just got time for a quick post before we head off on holiday this afternoon. We're staying overnight tonight in Kendal (M6 on a Friday afternoon.. are we mad?), then travelling on to Muasdale in Kintyre tomorrow. I hope the weather stays fine. There's nothing worse than travelling in the rain.


Talking of rain.... we braved the weather and ventured forth to Twycross Zoo on Tuesday. It's a trip we make at least once a year and brings back fond memories for me, as I used to live about seven miles from there. Matthew was meeting a girl he'd met on the Internet via the home educated children's message board. He looked pale and nervous as we splashed our way down the A5 and A444. I'm pleased to say they got on like a house on fire. Could this be girlfriend Number 2? Her mother was also lovely. We left the 'lovebirds' to wander round on their own. Megan was busy drawing animals in her notebook, no doubt storing up information for when she's a qualified vet (yes, I know she's only 6, but you have start somewhere).


For the rest of the week I've been doing load after load of washing, telling everyone that if they wanted something washing for the holiday now was the time to add it to the load. Last night at 10pm my dear husband complained that his 'chilling out shorts' were getting a bit 'cheesy' and did I know where his spare ones were. Aargh!!


Thank goodness for Ipods. I'd never get through the ironing without it!


Finally, I have two more stories to proofread before emailing the first issue of The Yellow Room to the typesetter later this morning (better get cracking!). I can't see it being ready to mail out before October, however. These things take time, as Morrissey once sang.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Lazy Summer Days

Is it just me or does anyone else feel lazy and lethargic during July and August? Come September and I feel reinvigorated.

I haven't been doing a great deal. The children have taken over and I don't seem to have the energy for anything else (apart from a few long walks last week). I haven't been to the gym in nearly two weeks and feel very out of shape. My wine consumption has also increased from one glass per night to two. Can I blame the school holidays for my lethargy? I have been reading a lot, however, and have now purchased all eight of the Richard and Judy Summer Reads. It has been the only project I've felt capable of completing.

I still have a pile of The Yellow Room submissions to read. I'm still proofreading the first issue of the magazine, but hope to be able to send it off to Andy Cox for typesetting before I go on holiday on Friday. All I can do is apologise for my tardiness.

We're off to Kintyre on Friday for a week, with an overnight stay in Kendal to break up the journey. All I've heard all weekend from various friends and acquaintances has been, 'Be prepared for lots of rain. You don't get much sun up there. It'll be cold, you know. Take some jumpers.' Thanks! I hope to prove them all wrong and come back with a suntan! I'll be posting pictures here when I get back. Oh, and I won't be Paul McCartney spotting, as I've just discovered he's halfway through a month long road trip across Route 66 in the US. Damn!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Car-less

We've had a run of bad luck in the transport department in the past few days. It all began when Nige got 'stuck' in the centre of Coventry and found himself heading towards a bus lane kitted out with numerous cameras in a ploy to extract as much money as possible out of the unwitting motorist. He couldn't turn left or right and didn't want to reverse in case he ploughed into an oncoming, diesel-fume-belching bus. He came home ranting and is now waiting for a fine in the post. He swears he didn't see any warning signs (he was looking out especially) and sees it as entrapment. Call him paranoid. Or Jeremy Clarkson, whichever you prefer.

Yesterday I was ferrying children around to friend's houses, swimming lessons, the dreaded McDonald's (first time in over two years we've set foot in there!) etc, then sitting in the driver's seat once more to do another drop off and pickup, the car wouldn't start. After several attempts and knowing deep-down that I was wasting my time, I nipped in the house to call Nige for assistance. Fortunately (or not for him!) he'd just arrived home. He concluded within two minutes of fiddling that it was the fuel pump. How do men do that? I piled the children into my husband's car and continued the ferrying around in that (lucky he was home a bit earlier).
And how fortunate my car was on the drive at home when it decided not to start and not on the forecourt of McDonald's! How fortunate that it didn't wait another week or so, otherwise we'd have been stuck on the M6 on the way to Scotland. This is called positive thinking as opposed to my husband's mutterings which went along the lines of, 'These things usually come in threes,' and 'I worked those eight hours overtime last Saturday for nothing'.

So.. instead of going to the cinema today to see Kung Foo Panda, we're stuck at home. Megan has been very philosophical about it (must take after her mother!) and said, 'Never mind, Mummy, we can make the worm farm today instead!' I can't wait!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

On The Beach in Birmingham!





No, I haven’t gone mad. Yesterday afternoon the children and I were walking in the centre of Birmingham, having visited The Sea Life Centre, and came across a beach complete with deckchairs, buckets and spades and a beach bar. Megan was desperate to start making sandcastles while Matthew and I sat in deckchairs watching the world go by.

I wasn’t feeling too well yesterday. I think it was the result of a poor night’s sleep. I had a niggling headache most the day and the last thing I felt like doing was driving down the M6 and into the centre of Birmingham. But, I’d promised Megan a trip to the Sea Life Centre and she was so excited about it, I couldn’t let her down. She'd been swatting up the night before, reading her 'Animals Who Live in the Ocean' book. Once we were inside the Sea Life Centre, she took one look in the tanks and told me what the fish were. Very knowledgable. I was impressed!

Last night I did the final judging for the Novel Beginnings competition. It wasn’t too difficult in the end, as there was a clear winner. I knew as soon as I read the entry. A clear, concise writing style, a smattering of humour, creating a desire in the reader for more. Now I have to write the dreaded judge’s report!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Play to Your Strengths Part Two!

Why is it that I spend 30 minutes writing this blog only to lose the whole thing before it gets posted or it posts it before I’ve finished? I’ve come to the conclusion I’m some kind of technophobe. I should have listened to my husband, who told me only last week to write my blog in Word, then copy and paste. With our dodgy internet connection, it’s a necessity.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, playing to one’s strengths. Technology and computers certainly aren’t mine. Editing, reading critically and being creative are more in my line. I don’t see anything wrong with admitting one’s weaknesses and handing over to someone who knows better (see Part One above!).

I am currently judging a competition called Novel Beginnings. Entrants were asked to write a synopsis and first chapter of a novel. This is more difficult than it first appears. It’s so easy to find fault with other’s work and less so with one’s own. Most of the synopses I’ve been reading are flawed. They certainly wouldn’t make an editor want to buy the novel. They’re just not arresting or interesting enough. The plots sound clich├ęd and the characters nondescript. There’s no mention of a sub-plot. Good things like active verbs, thumbnail character sketches, flavour of the writing style, not too many characters, clarity of purpose are missing. Bad things like waffle, generalisations, not enough action and muddled/convoluted plot are in abundance. And the first chapters? They aren’t much better. There’s often a lack of narrative tension; lack of attention to detail; no hook; lack of arresting use of language. They’re all a bit too ordinary and banal. I’m struggling. I’ve read most of the entries now and I haven’t found anything worthy of a prize. It’s quite depressing! The optimist in me is hoping to find a gem in the last three or four entries.

Finally, a note to those who have submitted work to The Yellow Room. What with all this judging and kid-type stuff I haven’t had a chance to read or make decisions on the ever-growing pile of manuscripts I have here. I’m so sorry, as I know how frustrating it can be for writers who want to send their work out elsewhere if it isn’t suitable. Please be patient and I hope to clear the backlog before September.

Play to Your Strengths!

That's it. I've finally admitted defeat. I've handed over the typesetting of The Yellow Room to an expert. To the guy, in fact, who did the typesetting on QWF all those years! Dear old Andy Cox, who has come to my rescue once again. He wouldn't do this for just anybody, he assured me. I'm flattered! It's a load off my mind, because I'm snowed under here. The children broke up the week before last and I'm so busy what with days out, swimming lessons, friends to play, ferrying them around to assorted venues.. well, I'm sure most of us have been there!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Cornwall.. a much needed break!
















Okay, so it was a bit of a trek for a long weekend, but my trip to North Cornwall was worth every mile and every litre of petrol! I came back a changed woman. I had time and space to think and to just be. As you can see by the photos I had the perfect surroundings to do just that.


I stayed with my writer friend, Alison, who lives in a remote spot in a house she built with her lovely husband, Tristan. It's all very eco-friendly and so beautiful. This is part of their garden above left. They also planted their own wood many years ago and Alison has built her own little 'shed' to get away from it all. It made me long for a retreat of my own.

The whole point of the weekend was to workshop or write, but we did neither. Instead we spent a lot of time talking about life, relationships, books and sometimes writing, mainly while sipping chilled white wine in the garden, conservatory or kitchen. We took a lovely long walk (4-5miles?) over the cliffs near Harlyn Bay. I've never seen so many wild flowers.

On Sunday morning I set off for a little adventure of my own and to revisit Bude, where I spent a blissful couple of days with my first husband fifteen years ago. I stopped off at Tintagel for a ploughman's lunch and a walk down to the castle ruins. It was a gorgeous sunny day and people were swimming in the sea. It made me feel slightly guilty that my family weren't with me, but no, this was precious 'me' time.
A few hours later saw me sitting on a rock on Crooklets Beach in Bude. I was pretty sure it was the same beach where Phill and I had some lovely photos taken of each other (now framed and on my mother-in-law's wall), but I'd remembered it so differently. After exploring the town further I realised how flawed our memories are. We compress them into smaller files without knowing it. This led to me writing several paragraphs of notes, which will be very useful when it comes to writing my novel. I then had a refreshing pint of Scrumpy Jack in the same pub Phill and I had frequented all those years ago and sat watching the locals sitting outside on picnic benches opposite the river, just as we had then. Again I did lots of copious note taking!
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and I came home feeling so refreshed.. like a new woman, in fact. It enabled me to get things into perspective (particularly the past) and I saw myself and my relationships in a whole new light. I'm a happy lady!


Monday, 7 July 2008

Books!

I've been on a bit of a book buying spree recently. I promised myself I wouldn't do this, because I have so many books at home, which I still haven't read. Some of them I've had for several years. You see, I have a bit of a book buying obsession and I always buy more than I have time to read. I was doing so well only purchasing books when I'd been given book tokens for birthdays or Christmas, then I had a relapse a few months ago.

So what have I bought recently? I guess it's always interesting for magazine subscribers and contributors to find out what the editor enjoys reading for pleasure. I'm ashamed to say I've been sucked into the Richard and Judy Summer Read hype this year and have purchased several books from the list. I have The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton(I enjoyed The House at Riverton so much last year); The Outcast by Sadie Jones (mainly because it was recommended by Lynne Barrett-Lee, a friend of mine on a writers' forum); No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay (liked the sound of it after seeing it reviewed on Richard and Judy); East of the Sun by Julia Gregson (because I was buying books on amazon and wanted to qualify for free delivery and it was only £3.86 and it is another R&J Summer Read with great reviews on amazon); Dieting Makes You Fat by Geoffrey Cannon (because I read an article about it in yesterday's Sunday Times and I'm always looking for ways to lose weight without dieting... suspect it's impossible!); and The Road Home by Rose Tremain (loved The Colour and this one was on prominent display in Smith's and sounded just up my street ie. slightly edgy).

I'm saving most of my new purchases for my holiday in August. I'm just about to start reading Iris Murdoch As I Knew Her by A.N. Wilson. I bought this about 2-3 years ago and it's been sitting on the shelf unopened ever since. I had an Iris Murdoch phase as a student and keep promising myself I'll re-read her novels, but haven't got round to it! I also loved the film about her life starring Kate Winslet. I particularly enjoyed the scenes showing Iris's dirty house with leaves all blown in from the front door and just left in the hall. That's how strange I am!

I've just finished reading The Long Afternoon by Giles Waterfield. Again, this was purchased some time ago and was sitting on the bookshelf for about 2 years. It was recommended by another writer friend. It's about a couple's life on the Riviera in the 1930s and what happens after war breaks out. It isn't exactly a gripping novel, but it definitely has that certain something which makes you just have to read till the end.

I must recommend a book I finished a few days ago. Our Spoons Came From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns. It's about a Bohemian couple living in the 1930s with very little money. The focus is on Sophia, who marries at 21 and lives to regret it. It reads very much like a memoir, but it is, in fact, a novel. A slim volume which could be read in one sitting.

Now I really must finish that typesetting. Crisis in that I can't fit in all the stories I wanted to publish this issue!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Can't Sit Still!

I was poised to pen some profound thoughts here yesterday when the PC crashed and the Internet was down. Then it was hectic and a social life intervened. And somehow I don't feel quite as 'writerly' today.

I recently conducted a mini poll on a writers' forum I belong to and asked how many hours per day people spent sitting writing. I was astounded to learn that the average was 4-5 hours per day. So that's how novels get written! I've since realised that the longest I can sit still is about an hour. I feel this need to be constantly 'on the go' and 'doing things'. Things which involve a lot of moving around and getting practical things done. I feel restless if I sit at the PC for more than forty-five minutes. I just can't sit still for long enough to be a proper writer. Oh dear! What is the remedy?

Celia Brayfield in her book, Bestseller, recommends that we get up from our computers and take a break by walking around the garden, letting our minds roam free. This allows our right brain to start working again. Nice if you have the time. Today, for example, I feel compelled to do housework as my son has a new friend visiting after school. I also feel obliged to make cakes for the occasion. And I have to fit in my forty-five minute exercise session. See what I mean?

I've recently purchased more books on 'how to write a novel', because I need all the help I can get. The aforementioned Bestseller isn't cutting it for me, although I quite like Celia Brayfield's 'ten stages' - the heroic journey of mythology and have made notes. I'm finding Sol Stein's How To Grow A Novel much more readable and useful. I've only just started it, but the section on openings is great, although I'm not sure I learnt anything new. As a voracious reader of novels I think I've picked up a lot of tips subconsciously. Putting them into practice is another matter, of course.

Another bright and sunny day here and what am I doing? I'm off to clean the bathroom.

Monday, 30 June 2008

I Want To Be Alone!

My husband has two days off work. Today and tomorrow. A cause for celebration? No, it isn't in this case. I just want to be alone! I may be odd, but I do prefer my own company. More so as I get older. There are so many solitary activities I enjoy (perhaps I should rephrase that!), like writing, reading, listening to music, gardening and shopping. I don't want anyone around getting in my way and disturbing my peace! When the children are in school, 9am till 3.15pm, well that's officially 'my time' alone to do whatever I want. Isn't that hideously selfish? It's probably because I'm an only child. So is my husband and I suspect he would like the house to himself on his days off as well.

I'm so set in my ways. I realise I do similar sorts of things at the same sort of time each day. The fact that my husband was in the lounge eating breakfast (he finally got out of bed at 11am) when I wanted to be in the lounge eating lunch and watching Loose Women, caused me a great deal of stress. How dare he! I took refuge in my office, bashing away at the PC and swearing at Publisher as I plodded on with the typesetting.

Peace at last, as my dear husband has now gone out for a ride on his motorbike. Of course I have my own opinions about what he should be doing (cleaning my car, putting together a garden bench I ordered, treating the garden fence and shed to name a few), and ignore the fact that the poor bloke doesn't have the luxury of doing the things he enjoys day-in, day-out as I do.

Better go and do some ironing, even if it's just to prove to him that I do useful things when he's out at work and don't sit around enjoying myself all day!

Friday, 27 June 2008

Reading submissions

I have a pile of stories in the basket next to the settee waiting to be read. I feel guilty when I think about their authors waiting with baited breath to see whether I'll accept them for The Yellow Room or not. I admit that I'm rather tardy about reading submissions. I guess this is because as an editor you have to read so many unsuitable stories before you get to a gem, which is perfect for your publication. These gems are few and far between. Of course it's all down to the editor's taste at the end of the day and no writer should feel despondent if their story is rejected. One of the most useful qualities for a writer to possess is perseverance. I can talk! I'm the first to take a rejection of my work personally, telling myself I'm useless and asking myself why I bother. Then I give myself a kick up the backside and tell myself not to be so silly. This is the time when I think of my friend, Jane Wenham-Jones. She is one of the most persistent, determined writers I know. She never gives up. She's like a terrier with a rat. I try to be more like her, but it's difficult.

I have to say that one of the most common reasons for rejecting a story is because it isn't suitable for the magazine. I wonder if some writers have even read the guidelines for submission. The Yellow Room is a magazine with a predominantly female readership, yet I still get stories set in a man's world or which don't address women's issues or concerns at all. Another problem with many stories I receive is that, although they show promise and begin well, they just peter out. It's as if the writer hasn't given the story's ending any thought at all. The worst kinds of ending are those which seem tacked on or rushed. You can almost hear the writer thinking, I've run out of ideas now. I think I'll just finish the story here. Again, as a writer I know how difficult endings are to write. I invariably end up killing someone off. Death always seems like the ultimate ending, I suppose. I know this isn't the way forward and that the reader ideally needs to be left with a feeling of hope or feeling uplifted at the end of a story. It's much easier said than done!

I think as writers we all need to work on our weak areas. I know mine are plot and endings. Each time a story is rejected we need to think how we could improve it or how we can improve as writers. No story is perfect. Sometimes I accept stories because they really speak to me and tug on my emotions. I can't stop thinking about them. The writing may be slightly flawed, but I can ignore this if I'm absorbed in the writer's world. There are some stories about which I can't make up my mind. I have to put them to one side, think about them, then go back and read them a second or third time. Sometimes it's very difficult to decide whether to accept them or not. There's usually a nagging suspicion that something isn't quite right, but I just can't put my finger on what it is. Then it's very difficult explaining to a writer why I have rejected this particular story.

I've been typesetting again today. I feel as if I'm finally getting somewhere with it. It is a rather troublesome job and is time-consuming, but bizarrely enjoyable and addictive. Maybe that's just me.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

A Country Walk

Today was lovely and sunny here again. I dashed off to the Farmers' Market here in Rugby first thing, then out again at 11am to meet two new friends for a long country walk. I met them on the Woman and Home Forum and we decided to set up a walking group in Rugby. We started off at the Blue Lias pub near Long Itchington and walked along the canal tow path, past a series of locks, then over the road bridge and onto a series of footpaths, which took us across fields and down farm tracks. It was wonderful. Boy, did I feel good afterwards. The walk took about an hour and a half and was five and three quarter miles long. And no, we didn't stop at the pub afterwards. We were good girls and came straight home!

I do find being out and about so inspiring. I had lots of ideas for my writing. I also found a lovely delicate little red wild flower, which I picked and brought home, as I didn't know what it was and wanted to look up. I know I'll use it in a piece of writing in the near future. There was also a little wood with two very old kissing gates on the path, which I'll use in a story. It was like going back in time.

I haven't done much in the way of typesetting today. Megan had a friend to tea after school (the second time this week), so I was in demand! The girls played nicely on the whole, but I had to scrabble around in her bedroom for dressing up outfits, then in the shed for the play tent and so it went on. I did nip on the PC while their tea was cooking and tried to transfer a story into Publisher, but it was fraught with problems. I was just a bit too tired and distracted probably. It will just have to wait until tomorrow.

I'm tired now (8.10pm) and relieved I don't have to go out and water the garden as it's raining. Looking forward to a couple of glasses of wine once the children are in bed and a chance to read in peace as hubby is at band practice. This is the life!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Typesetting Virgin

Blimey, I didn't realise typesetting was such a tiring business. I've done about 15 pages today and I'm knackered. I do like paying close attention to detail, though and find it oddly rewarding.

I've been putting off the typesetting for the first issue of The Yellow Room for weeks. I'll admit I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it. I don't know what's happened to my confidence lately, because only a few years ago I would have plunged in and thought, 'What the hell!'. These days I have to make myself do new things, otherwise I'd quite happily stagnate at home, stuck in a routine in familiar surroundings. I even plucked up courage last week to meet up with two women in the local area who had expressed an interest in a walking group via the Woman and Home website. I'm so glad I did, as it was great to combine exercise with a social life.

So, onwards and upwards. Feel the fear and do it anyway. All the old cliches are coming out of the closet as I give myself a good talking to. I will not wilt into middle-age. I will pursue new experiences. But right now I'm off for a cat nap before collecting Megan from school!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Where does the time go?

Okay, so I'm supposed to be typesetting the first issue of The Yellow Room. And what am I doing? Writing this. I've spent most of today updating my website (www.theyellowroom-magazine.co.uk). Why are these things so time-consuming? There are still mistakes, so more work needs to be done. Sigh. Oh well, there's always tomorrow. Now it's off for a shower and then to collect my daughter from school. Then all hell breaks loose and there's no chance whatsoever that I'll be able to concentrate on anything other than cooking tea. Am I the only wife/mother who craves solitude for days on end and then feels guilty for even thinking such a thing?