Sunday 29 August 2010



I read that if the glowing surface of the Sun was removed we would see nothing other than blackness. This is because the Sun’s outer surface shines brightly whereas the inside of the Sun is complete darkness.

So, come on who did it? Who turned the Sun inside out?

I'm going to the frozen north, the Cumbria/Yorkshire round trip. It is me' Mam's birthday.
There is a little spot between the two 

Saturday 28 August 2010


With the offspring disappearing in different directions, and He-who-must-not-be-named setting off to watch Watford FC doing their best but not quite succeeding, I snuck off in search of sanctuary.

I could have gone to write in peace and quiet, but I could hear the call of the hairdressers. I had to hear this call because I certainly couldn’t see it through my fringe, which covered most of my nose.

I called my hairdressers' hoping to get an appointment with my regular stylist but SHE HAD MOVED ON!

I was stuck on the phone talking to the other stylist, the one who did blue-rinses, and the back-combing necessary to create works of arts on the heads’ of older ladies.
I wanted to say, “Oh, in that case I won’t bother. Where did Becky go?”
But I only got as far as the 'Oh' before I realised she would never tell me.
She said, “I’ll fit you in at 12:15  then?”
And I said, “Yes, thanks.” (While thinking: Arrgh!)

I hovered on my chair, unable to look at the hairdressing magazines. There are just too many scary cuts in there, and any one of them could have ended up on my head if Edwina Scissorhands had been employed as the replacement stylist.

As she approached from behind the curtain, masking the depths of Hades from the salon, I eyed the stylist suspiciously: checking out her clothes, hair cut and colour. (There was no evidence of an immediate need to run from the premises; no need to panic.)

First, we chatted colour by numbers –  that went well – she talked me out of carrot red with the crimson lowlights (just testing). When she started to comb my hair forward, discussing (a slight variation) an entirely new style, I started to relax. I was so chilled I read heaps of magazines, right at the moment I can only remember one extraordinary fact:
Did you know that next time you cut your finger you could put pepper on it? Anti-septic and guaranteed not to sing!
Isn’t it amazing what you learn in the sanctuary of the hairdressers.

If I hadn’t ended my day watching Manchester United taking West Ham apart, and going for a curry, I’d do a new photo for the blog. Happily, there was more than sweet lassi flowing. 

Phew sanctuary on Saturday: hair-style.

Do you find sitting in the stylist's chair almost as nerve-wracking as a trip to the dentist? Or is it just me?

Friday 27 August 2010


Dawn Embers is hosting a Blogfest entitled Word Painting. I had trouble selecting which piece of descriptive writing I wanted to post. In the end I selected this section from USURY: Double Desired. This is my wip: it is a YA paranormal romance.
 This section is close to the opening, so Will knows even less about the story than you do. 
I can't wait to read the other descriptions, posted by everyone else who entered Dawn's blogfest. 

A thaw had melted hard frost to cold dew. The glittering drops ignited a terrible thirst which had been no more than one more silken strand, in the painful knot entangling him.
If he’d had water enough, Will would have sobbed with relief. Instead he summoned up the strength to crawl. He lowered his head to long blades of grass, and licked. The moisture evaporated, when it came into contact with his burning skin.

Moist, warm heat rose from the soil, drawn into the sky.
Will followed the vapour trails, until he squinted into the moonlight.
The violet-blue sky was shrouded in grey clouds that billowed, tumbled over, and into, themselves. The silver-lined clouds were edged, lit by shards of brilliance. 
Slivers of ice sliced through the air, pelting heavy and hard.
Will cried out, arching his back.
A crumbling, grey stone tower was illuminated in each flash. Before this, dim in the shadows, Will saw a split stemmed tree.
He stumbled. Stopped.
Moonlight broke through smothering cloud, illuminating the small, white flowers and the delicate leaves.
Dark then pale, the leaves writhed in the gusting breeze.
What shelter could there be under a tree?
Ferocious power split the sky. The growling menace rumbled around.
Will groaned. The air channelled up into the storm, streamed over his skin. The ice slashed down. The gusting wind whipped at him, buffeting his frail frame. 
Then, in the silence that preceded the whip and lash of light, Will’s hair began to rise. The hair on his arms could be raised in fear, but his hair was being drawn up from his head and shoulders. Power licked it higher.
Will couldn’t open his blinded eyes. Water streamed down his cheeks, as he stumbled towards the shelter of the tree. Will scrambled over rocks and roots. He stumbled. Fell.
Gasping for air, pushing at the lower branches, Will threw himself at the five stems that made up the tree's trunk. He grazed his face against the knotty bark.
He waited.
Beneath the candle-shaped canopy of leaves, Will could not feel the shredding power of the wind, heavy with debris. 
The storm swirled, a potent mix of menace and power. A fierce thunderclap, bellowed the storm's rage. Lightning struck at other trees nearby.
Will was safe.
             He watched until dawn broke as a golden rim of light and rays and the wind faded to a thin whistle through the trees. He rested his head in the dust and the crisp fragments of leaves below the tree. Will fought against his eyelids but, all too soon, he succumbed to sleep. 
             Then the whispering began. 

I hope you enjoyed reading my word painting.

THURSDAY? Ooops I missed!

Thursday? Things got busy. 

The Muse came by, and I think moved in.... *I wish! It wasn't that  kind of Muse. 

The postman woke me up at 8:00, not especially early, but I was sleeping and dreaming in vivid, lush-green technicolour:  reaching for the note book  I keep by the bed, this was Idea 1

We were going to drive over to High Wycombe at 1:00, but as I was shutting down my computer my eyes got stuck on the name of a park. I could see what the the builders nearby were burying at midnight: I just happen to have a small note book I carry around in my handbag, this was Idea 2.

We were discussing the well-worn theme of boys who won't read, and the few books that have made a difference. Broadly speaking, the books that have worked had a few things in common: while hanging around as He-who-must-not-be-named took a car for a test drive, I made notes in my big book I brought along for the ride, this turned into Idea 3.

I was watching TV, programme over I was about to head upstairs to write when I flicked through the channels. It was one of those quirks, I read the words but somehow I didn't. The title I read had nothing to do with the programme. It was sooo funny, the book will have to be comedic too: hold on Muse, give me a break, I had hardly closed the notebook... Idea 4.

When I have a new idea I do research, and make notes so I don't forget. More than that, so I capture the flavour and the voice accurately.

Tomorrow I can get on with Will's story because he is half way through a beating, and I'm sure he'd prefer to be rescued.

Oh, and someone parked a sports car on my drive. Oh no, I remember... we bought it today. That didn't waste a lot of time ;)

I am still thankful that the Muse called around today and obviously brought a suitcase.

I am also thankful to hear that Roni Griffin was disturbed by the kind of phone calls we are all working so hard to achieve. CONGRATULATIONS! You have an AGENT! And what an agent too! *I'mhappydancingsohardI'mdizzy!

I signed up for a Dawn Ember's Blogfest - Wordpainting! Painting with words? I'll try that! Today, apparently. *yeah!

Wednesday 25 August 2010


Do you know where you are going?

The briefest writing advice is remembered most easily.

Joan Aiken was quoted as saying that her advice was to “write the last line first.”

The first time I read this I laughed.

It percolated while I was writing.

If you start out knowing the last line your work then, from the first word onwards, it has direction.
Combined with a simple plan, this would structure the narrative preventing even the most enthusiastic, free-form writer from meandering between the hook and the final line.

The finely crafted final line should not be considered as chiselled in stone nor Sharpie-d indelibly.

Try it out, can you think of the end? Remember it is only one possible final line, for your wip ;)

USURY: Double Desired
Will pressed his lips to the vee that formed on her forehead, when she shook her head and smiled. It was not a short kiss, there was no longer any need to rush. 

Tuesday 24 August 2010

TUUNNE - Noisettes - Atticus

When I need to write mellow and soulful, no one captures the mood like voice of Shingai Shoniwa, the lead singer of Noisettes.  

Really, she has to be one of the best singers around at the moment. During concerts this year she has sung clinging to a ladder suspended from the ceiling, jumping from pianos and climbing onto a bar. (She credits energy levels and the circus training she did when she was young.)

The Noisette’s pop songs blend soul, and disco, but when you listen closer you can hear all the way back to the blues. 

The album “Wild Young Hearts” is described as being about having “fun and not following the pack.” And there were have a lot in common: Caleb in  NEAR EDGWARE knows what the pack think he should do, and why. He chooses to walk a much more dangerous path. 

Who is Atticus, now?

Monday 23 August 2010


I was given a note book. It has a pale turquoise, fabric cover printed with silver leaves and flowers. Fine quality cream pages were sewn inside with sliver thread. It was so special, and so beautiful, that it got to sit on my shelf for fourteen months. I couldn’t use a note book like this to write the weekly shopping lists for those fun trips to ASDA.

Today Twitter sent a link for Rebbie Mcintyre’s post on STET! : Writing well (McIntyre? Mac from NEAR EGWARE? So I had to read it.)

The post was about the power of words.

Rebbie had been reading The Writer’s Portable Mentor, A Guide to Art, Craft and the Writing Life by Priscilla Long.

Ms Long says all writers would benefit from collecting those juicy, hot morsels of words: the gourmet, 5-star Michelin vocabulary and recording them in a book.

A Lexicon of the lush.

Last week I read a post thinking about words we just love to read, write or say. 

Priscilla Long  says you should capture the special words, the ones that resonates with you. You should write them, not more than two words to a page. This collection should not be alphabetical like a dictionary, just a homage to the wonder of words. She spoils it for me when she says you should make time to look up and record the definition and the root of each word. But, I promise I will, in some alternate reality, when I have made more time.

Now, I have fifty words written with my fountain pen, in black ink, on the buttermilk pages in my notebook.

The first  five make a random read:

Do you have a few favourite words I could add to my Lexicon? 

Sunday 22 August 2010


What started off with time wasting ended up with time wasting.
If you know the answer to the question, could you please let me know? Is Kronk the Canadian equivalent of Primark?

The weather forecast for this evening is torrential rain and possible flash floods. When it the day began bright and warm I felt that I HAD to do something. I had to appreciate the late summer day by doing something I had never done before. 

With that idea modified to something inexpensive that I hadn’t done before, I found the local paper and went looking.

My choices were limited, so limited that I only had one choice – car-boot sale - for my American friends imagine a whole street of yard sales transported to a field.

There were rows and rows of cars, parked in a field.  The experts had brought a table and a clothes rack to help people view their things. The less experienced just let their household entrails dangle from the doors of their car.

Did you know that it takes 20 years to travel from the sun to planet Earth by normal aircraft? This is a true fact. It might also account for the precise age of 90% of the items for sale at the car-boot sale. The GB Sun Colony Reunion Car-boot Sale.

We had fun rummaging and reminiscing but we only bought one thing.

I saw a navy blouse that, from a distance, had white rectangles on it.  I got closer. This wasn’t easy. I had to crawl under a table, and toss aside the other items of clothes that were heaped on the ground sheet.

The shirt was sooooooooooo cute – the right size for the Minnow (my eighteen-year-old daughter).

It was navy and covered in small, white minis (cars).
It has the label KRONK on the inside, outside on the button band and KRONK is printed on the licence plate of every little car.

Now for the mystery.

I have searched the internet for information on KRONK because if they designed this fabulous top then there might be more, even cuter, clothes out there. But the internet has almost no references to KRONK at all.

I’m guessing the little shirt is vintage, maybe 1980s or 90s?

Does anyone know anything about KRONK? 

ps The rain has just started to fall.

Saturday 21 August 2010

Bridging the need for peace and reflection

When I need to press refresh, I know exactly which button to hit. Everyday activities are the surface tension that keeps the important things from breaking through. Finding sanctuary allows you to look a little deeper.
I find peace and reflection can be found in the middle of town. I have two special places.
When I am looking for peace and reflection I go to Cassiobury Park. 
Specifically I go to the three bridges in the park: two that span the river and the red-bricked one that overlooks the Grand Union Canal.
I find peace and reflection where there are reflections. 
When you are looking for the same, where do you go?

Friday 20 August 2010


The free word of the day is freehand.

Writing freehand is scary.
The journey from triangulated pencils or moulded finger grips, has been travelled.
Over lines and through squares on the paper, I progressed to A4 plain.
Now I like writing freehand.

Freehand art produces something that is always unique and fresh. Not mechanically replicated.

But It’s impossible for any subject, in art or writing, to be truly unique: the first time it has been thought of or made. But writing freehand is what I try to do when I write. OK, maybe that would be more figurative than literal.

I visualise the world and the characters I have created. I see it happening, while I am writing. As far as mechanical aids and devices go my plan says where I have to go, I even know the titles for each chapter. But I’m writing freehand so I don’t try to walk the line. When writing freehand I keep the plan, like the ruler, well below (safety net style) so the words aren’t misshapen and odd.

Are you a freehand writer too?

Thursday 19 August 2010


Lying on the sofa, seasonal TV creating background noise, candle burning in the window, coloured lights on the tree, I couldn't have been more prepared for the holiday celebrations. Hell, I'd even prepared the potatoes and dressed the turkey for Christmas Day. 
But there was a flicker of movement. 
I thought I saw something in the fireplace. 
Not a scary something big, I thought I saw a mouse. 
Too much alcohol. 
I went to bed.

I'd been catching up on a little editing, it was the first chance I'd had to get anything done for days (can't think why). He-who-must-not-be-named arrived with drinks at an appropriate time, we went down to see in the New Year. 
We weren't alone. 
A tiny mouse with large eyes and round ears watched from the fireplace. 
We began the debate, pacifist to pacifist, what should you do when you know you have a mouse in the house? 
We came up with the best kind of plan: do nothing, it's only one cute little mouse... probably an escaped Christmas present.

The days went on. 
For days there were no sightings of our lodger. 
He had probably moved out without leaving a forwarding address.

But as time passed we realised our little visitor had gone nowhere. 
Easter weekend, we realised that Mousie-in-the-housie had been visible every day, for days. 
So we had a chat, ex-vegetarian to ex-vegetarian, we considered what you should do when you know you have a mouse in the house. 
We came up with a cunning plan: buy a humane, catch-and-release mouse trap and put it in the fireplace. 
The cute mouse with huge, dark eyes and sweet round ears was bound to understand the necessity of falling for the old "oh look, an extra black box tunnel with an enticing smell" trick. Yes? 

Days passed, our wile, wild mouse scampered near the trap, around the trap, and sometimes even over the trap, bur not inside it.

When it scrabbled at the skirting board, we got alarmed.
When it pawed at the mat in front of the fireplace, we got angry.
When it chewed the sweet potato in the kitchen, we decided enough was enough.

We made a decision. 
The mouse had to go. 
We had to go to Homebase: home of ineffective, humane mousetraps and more permanent fixes.

We bought a safety conscious plastic box with poisoned seeds inside.
We put it in the fireplace.
We were still feeling smug.
When we heard the sounds that followed, that feeling disappeared.
The curled up corpse was lying on the mat in front of the fireplace.
I don't go in the front room at the moment.

Wednesday 18 August 2010



If you want a richer, nuttier flavour burn the butter. The advice for cupcake frosting works just as well for me: you have to burn it  to intensify.

Intensification writing tips for cooking it up:

1  Strengthen nouns and verbs 

2  Fewer words create impact

3  Break a sentence rule, periodically ;)

4  If the right word doesn’t exist, take a few ingredients from other words you may have lying around, and make one

He slithered the length of the bar. Spittled compliments on me.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

TUNE Kele - Everything You Wanted

I love Bloc Party, their live performances were phenomenal.
I put them on when I was writing NEAR EDGWARE and let Kele provide the voice of Caleb’s struggles.

Then Kele broke away to make his solo album: The Boxer.

In this track, Everything You Wanted, the lyrics and the video show why he continues to inspire me. The lyrics are guilt-ridden.

Kele is precise:
  • when he explains why this relationship ended
  • how it feels to know you are responsible for the disintegration
  • where the pain bites deepest

This is no 2-D performance, Kele tries to show the truth from the protective crust to the molten core.