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Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year

Now is the time I should be writing a blog post about the past year and my hopes for the year to come.  But the truth is I don't know what to write.  So much has happened in the last 364 days but nothing of note springs to mind.  I do know I've changed.  I cannot explain the change within me, and I know that the change is only really beginning to happen.

I feel more at ease with myself than I ever have.  Yet I have also reached a point where I don't know who I am anymore.

So all I can say is I hope that in the next year I continue to allow myself to grow into the person I am supposed to be.  I don't know who that will be but I'm looking forward to finding out. But at the same time I hope to stay in the present moment, and feel who I am right now, at all times.

I look forward to seeing you all next year and we shall see where this journey called life will take me next.

Friday, 24 December 2010

My Christmas Tree


Every year I decorate this little tree (I did it rather late this year as I keep it at my parent's and I only came back here a few days ago).  I bought it quite a few years ago.  I looked for a tree I liked, something small for my bedroom, but didn't find anything.  Just as I had given up hope I found this one in the window of a charity shop - I went in a bought it right then and there.  Since then I have decorated it every year with the few ornaments I have. 

Each ornament tells a story and is completely individual - my favourites are the little wooden soldier that I bought in Germany at a Christmas Market and the decorated walnut I bought at a craft market one year.  My original plan was to buy an ornament each year but I just haven't found anything I really love in the past few years.  However I hope to keep decorating this little tree each year and remember with love how I acquired each ornament.  The only thing I really need for it is a little topper - maybe I'll find one next year.

What tradition do you keep each year to keep Christmas alive in your heart?

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Happy Yule

Today is Yule, a celebration of life continuing.  Have a good day and appreciate everything you have, remember the Earth has given us so much so it's time we started giving back.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Countdown

There are now only a couple of weeks left until Christmas, but I wonder if we're missing the actual days because we're busy looking forward.  Believe me, I get that the anticipation is a big part of Christmas.  But sometimes I feel like I'm so worried about what I have left to do, tomorrow, next week, that I miss the present day.  So I'm going to take a moment each day to stop and notice today (as in each day that is today when I stop) and appreciate it.  Perhaps I'll make myself a cup of hot chocolate or sit and watch a film that I haven't for a while. And I hope you will join me in stopping and noticing and making each day special for you rather than missing them in the hopes that Christmas day will be special enough for all of the days you miss (which I can guarantee it won't be).

Monday, 13 December 2010

Christmas Cards

As I've mentioned before, I love writing letters and receiving post.  And at this time of year I've found it's become even more important.  Even if it's just a card with To and From written inside, it makes me feel happier.  Here in the UK the last date to send post second class is the 17th December so make sure you've written and sent yours before then.  This is one tradition that will always mean a lot to me, just knowing someone thought of me makes me warm inside (and I get to cover my door in Christmas cards).

Saturday, 11 December 2010

This week hasn't been a particularly great one for me and if it wasn't for the decorations I've put up in my room it would have been downright miserable.  However, I don't really want to depress you all so close to Christmas (which is my favourite time of year!) so I think I'll just leave you with a few pictures and the knowledge that there are 13 days left!!!!




[I don't own these images - I found them on Yahoo! image search]

Friday, 10 December 2010

Review: Rebel

          When I ordered this book I wasn't aware that it was a sequel, and if I had known I probably wouldn't have brought it, but I'm glad I did.                                                                                          I don't normally go for YA but reading so many YA blogs and reviews I figured I should give something a go, and this is the book that won out - simply because I read the beginning on Amazon and was hooked.  I wouldn't say that the storyline was anything that amazing, nor the characters.  But I couldn't put it down.  R. J. Anderson has created a world so believable and so vivid in description that I was pulled in regardless.  It did what a good book should do - it kept me wanting to read and it took me away from all the problems I have in my life.  I can't wait until I can read 'Knife' which is the first book, and am looking forward to more in this series.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Extra Time

As I no longer have the internet I have found that I have a lot of extra time, most of which I've spent reading.  Seriously, I've read a lot of books the past few weeks and I'm planning on continuing to read, read, read.

The most surprising thing is that, while I knew I loved reading, I had forgotten how much reading makes me want to write.  It's as if every book I consume fuels my creative fire so now I'm rearing to go.  The only problem with this is that I want to read instead of write.  And when I do write I have to focus on my uni work rather than all the new projects that are competing for space in my head.  But I have found my love of writing again and I'm making sure I write, write, write while I still want to (but somehow can't pull it off at weekends when I'm somewhere that has internet access).

Saturday, 4 December 2010

I'm Back - Sort Of

Okay, so as my title shows I'm back blogging (which I'm sure none of you could work out for yourselves from this post.  I had planned not to blog again until I had internet connection at home - due to financial reasons this is now not going to happen till January (when it will be a dongle so don't know how good my access will actually be) so I figured I could leave you all hanging till then.  Not to mention the serious withdrawal symptoms I've had myself.  So each weekend I'm planning on writing a few posts then scheduling them - therefore entirely not my fault if they don't post (as has happened in the past).

In my news: I have been reading and writing a lot (post to come later this week) and my M.E. seems to have picked up a bit.  As for snow, we don't really have much in our area and honestly I don't care - I'm not anti-snow, but nor am I 'wow snow!'  So that is all for now - hopefully you'll be able to read a few more posts this week but no guarantee (and I won't know until next Saturday so don't complain to me).

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Apology

Sorry that I seemed to suddenly disappear this week.  I had/have plenty of blog posts in mind for the coming weeks but unfortunately my internet has been cut off and so until I have sorted this, the blog will have to be put on hold.  I'll try to read everyone's posts but I can't guarantee it.  I'll miss you all immensely and hope that I will be able to resume blogging asap.  In the meantime, sorry.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sunday Shout Out

For all those who are undeniably nosey or simply want to know how another culture lives I point you to Pond Parleys where Englishmen and Americans who have moved to the other country write about their experiences surviving in a foreign land and the mistakes and surprises they've encountered on their journeys. 

Pond Parleys aren't afraid to tell it as it is in black and white (and of course some grey).  From politics to food, this blog touches on all aspects of life that effect us whether we notice or not.  And it's always interesting, I think, to learn how other people live (or perhaps that's just my writerly self coming out!)

Friday, 12 November 2010

Review: The State of Me

Helen Fleet is just an ordinary student until one day she is struck down my a mysterious illness.  And illness that doesn't go away or get better. 

In this brilliant novel by Nasim Marie Jafry, Helen tells her story of learning to cope and live with M.E./C.F.S.  While the topic is generally depressing, Nasim manages to give humour throughout the book simply via Helen's voice and view of life.  I particularly loved the conversations between Helen and Stranger.

stranger: What did you do today?

 me: I had a shower and made a cup of tea.

stranger: Is that all?

me: I tried to wash my hair but my arms were too weak to lather.

As someone who lives with this illness I found strength in the knowledge that it isn't all in my head (surely it can't be if someone else has written about it).  And there were so many thoughts and feelings described that I could completely relate to.  I understood Helen's frustration and rejoiced in her triumphs.  I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the day to day life of someone with M.E.  While it is a fictional account, the author has M.E. herself and so certainly knows what she is talking about and this came through in this story.

stranger: You don't look ill.

me: That's good, isn't it?

stranger: You seem to have a lot of energy.

me: That's 'coz we're sitting down just talking.

Nasim Marie Jafry blogs about writing and about M.E.at: Velo-Gubbed Legs

Thursday, 11 November 2010

To Write or Not to Write

This month is NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time know that I attempted this last year and made it up to about 10 000 words before it all became too much for me.

This year I am not forcing myself to write any number of words - I am not participating.  This does not mean that I'm not writing (though to be fair the only writing I seem to be doing lately is uni assignments).  But it does mean that I am thinking more about writing than I ever have before.  I no longer know why I write, yet I am having more and more ideas that I believe I could turn into something worthwhile that I love - if I write them well.

Honestly I'm scared to start anything new.  I have a lot of writing and reading to do for uni.  But I also know this is an excuse I am making to myself.  I have a lot of time on my hands, yet it constantly seems to be filled with (mostly) necessary and important things: washing up, research, writing asssignments, reading assignments, tidying, cross-stitch (to help me unwind).  And I don't know if I'm ready to compromise this state of being for my writing.  Nothing will change for anyone if I never wrote another fictional word (don't worry, I'm planning on keeping the blog).  It won't effect the world.

Ultimately it is my choice.  And I no longer know if writing is what I want to do.  I expect it will always be a part of my life, but I don't know if it can be my full life.  The problem with this is that writing is the only thing I've ever wanted to do.  So if I don't write, what will I do?  And that is why I am still a writer, though I don't feel as much as a writer as I know I could be.

Sorry if this post seems confusing - I'm trying to explain all the thoughts and emotions and worries that are inside me and as they are a big mess, that's how they are coming out, and I think that's how they should stay.  So this post is mainly me admitting to myself and to you that I don't know if I want to be a writer anymore.  (And if your opinion is that that not knowing makes me not a writer, please keep it to yourself).

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Tweeting and Changing

As you know, last week I took a break from blogging.  And what did I do with this extra time I found I had?  I twittered.  Yeah, you read that right.

I only joined twitter a few months ago and since then haven't really touched the account other than to follow a few people and perhaps write a tweet once in a blue moon.  Last week that all changed.  I started connecting to people on twitter, I signed up for a secret santa (still not sure how that happened) and I made lots of tweets, with them came followers.

And I realised it's because I crave that connection with people that the internet gives us.  I will always be a fan of the handwritten snail mail letter, but I am beyond grateful for the internet and sites such as blogger and twitter, particularly when I'm feeling unable to leave the house much.  I want to make friends and I want to get to know them as individuals - not as some internet name I glance at if it's in my twitter or blog feed. 

I think that's why I blog - I want to share with anyone who comes by.  I want them to feel that they can get to know me through my words and I more than welcome discussion and conversation in the comments.  And so I might start blogging differently - I'm still not sure.

You may have noticed that for about the past month I've had a structure to my blogging - I blog about certain subjects on certain days. I'm still not sure how this is working (if you have any thoughts please share them).  But I know that I'm not entirely happy with the way I'm blogging now.  I want to evolve and change until I find the perfect fit.  So if my blog seems to change or you see something you love/hate on here please let me know and please remember that it's only through experimentation that we can truly find ourselves and what we really want.

Oh, and for any of you who wish to follow my tweets, you can find me @anyawillowfan

Monday, 8 November 2010

Bonfire Night




Bonfire night to me means dressing up warm and watching the fireworks with fascination and excitment with someone you love.
[Images from WeHeartIt]

Monday, 1 November 2010

Break

Just to let you all know that I won't be blogging this week.  I will however, continue to look forward to reading all your lovely blogs.

There is nothing wrong, and I am fine.  I just feel I need a little head space away from the blog, and not have to worry about it for a little while.  Hope to see you all back here in a week.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Sunday Shout Out

As I have said before, I love reading writer interviews and I have found that We Do Write is the place to get my fill.  With plenty of interviews with aspiring writers this blog has inspired me over and over again as well as reminding me that I am not the only one who sits frantically typing jibberish on my laptop in the hope to create a well-told story.

Today is also Halloween or Samhain - please visit my other blog to read my post today remembering my Grandad on this important day.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Keep the Creativity

I find that the more I think about my writing, the easier it becomes to have ideas and to create stories I'm really interested in - it's true that practice really does make a difference.

But sometimes it becomes stale.  I feel like I'm writing and writing and I have no purpose and there's no point and it goes into a downward spiral.  When this happens I like to take a break.  I don't write for a couple of days.  But I do make an effort to keep my creative brain working.  I try something different.  At the moment I am planning a few inspiration montages from pictures and words I have found in magazines that inspire something within me.  Now, this is just an idea, and what I'm doing now to keep up my creativity between writing, but you could do anything - try drawing, photography or even writing in a different style or genre to your norm.

Trust me, within a few days you will be rearing to get back to writing your piece and your creativity won't have suffered in your absence.  What other creative endeavours do you undertake when you need a break from writing?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Missed Opportunities & Hope

As most of you probably aren't aware, as of the 1st November M.E./C.F.S. sufferers will no longer be able to donate blood (BBC Coverage).  I'm not entirely sure what I make of this change in regulations.  I know I should be happy that at last it seems M.E. is being treated as something other than a psychological disorder.  But on the other hand, it is just one more thing that M.E. has taken away from me.

I've always assumed I'd give blood at some point.  Okay, I know I have been completely eligible for the past 4 years, and have yet to actually go and do it, but it's always been in my mind.  And now it is just another opportunity missed; something else I don't get to do.  And so I feel bitter - but there is nowhere for this bitterness to go and it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.  And there is nothing I can do about it.  I become trapped in my own annoyance at M.E. and myself (for taking it out on people who really have nothing to do with it).

Of course, it isn't just that I now can't give blood, many things in my life are leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth.  And all I can do is hope that it will get better.  I know I can survive it (and I credit a lot of that to my boyfriend, family and friends).  But I want to do more than just survive.  I want to live, and enjoy life.  So I hope and believe, because there is nothing else I can do.

(Sorry if this post seemed to have turned into a depressive rant - I tried my best not to let it be - but it's how I'm feeling at the moment and it's effecting everything in my life, including this blog).

Monday, 25 October 2010

Rainbows

The white light streams down to be broken up by those human prisms into all the colors of the rainbow.  Take your own color in the pattern and be just that.  ~Charles R. Brown



Thursday, 21 October 2010

Perceptions

When I create a character I do the usual type of analysis - what do they look like? what do they want? what is their greatest fear? - you get the idea.  But recently I've been paying more attention to how the other characters perceive them.  And how my character thinks other characters perceive them.  You can see where I'm going with this.

When writing in subjective third person, and especially first person, we must be very aware of how our characters perceive each other.  If the main character thinks someone is trying to steal their boyfriend/job/sandwich then they are going to see them in a completely different light than if they think that same someone is simply interested in their life.  When we see a world through one character's eyes, we can use this to our advantage.  Presumably we want the audience to empathise with our main character and so if they see someone in a bad light, so is our reader.  This can be a lot of fun to play with, especially considering all the relationships between different characters and how we can portray them to the reader which may or may not be accurate which can then be used to our advantage later in the story.

So consider how each character sees all the other characters in a story and you can make your world so much more believable and fully-formed, which equals a better told story.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Friendship

We all love to have friends. We want those special people that you can guarantee will be there for you birthday, when you break-up with your partner and all those little moments in between.  We want people we can call our chosen family.

When I was younger I didn't get this.  I believed I only needed myself to achieve anything in life.  The friends I had in high school were wonderful but I didn't appreciate them at the time and now all I have is memories as none of them have stayed in contact (and honestly I can't blame them).  Yes, I am sorry for what I was like back then but it's part of who I am so I'm not going to be too sorry.  Besides, it taught me the value of friendship.  When I realise that these women are still out there, making something of their lives, and I'm not a part of it in any way, it makes me work harder to keep the friends I have now.

I only have a few friends, and it has been hard work finding and keeping each one of them, made harder by my M.E. but not entirely impossible.  I see them as jewels that have the ability to make me shine and I am thankful for all of them, and I do my best to make sure they are aware of how precious I find their friendship.  I send them letters as well as random messages on facebook and texts just to let them know I am thinking of them.  And I always feel blessed when they respond.

So my advice to you - reach out to one of your friends today.  Take the time to say 'I'm glad you're my friend' and appreciate them for all they have done for you.  Friends make us who we are, we should never forget them or take them for granted.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Let books be your dining table,
And you shall be full of delights
Let them be your mattress
And you shall sleep restful nights.
~Author Unknown


 I love to read - reading for me is almost as important as breathing.  It is the place I can retreat to and know I am safe.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sunday Shout Out

I absolutely love reading writer interviews and guest posts from a variety of different writers and that is exactly what I've found on WOW! Women On Writing Blog.  With tips and competitions as well as many different writers being interviewed I have found a place where I can fill myself up on writing info.

Yes, they are all women on this blog, and I've found that to be highly inspiratonal (as a women myself) and has opened my mind to different styles and genres of writing.  I highly recommend all writers take a look at this blog, whether they're looking for inspiration or just somewhere to indulge in the need for connection with other writers.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Review: Eat, Pray, Love (film)

This film is based on the book of the same name which shows how the author spent a year in three different countries in the search for herself.  I was expecting a movie with a touch of whimsical and belief in spirituality of life, and I wasn't disappointed.  As Liz (Julia Roberts) travels through Italy, India and Bali, meeting many people and learning different ways of life there were many messages and lessons to be learnt.  However, none of these seemed forced upon me, leaving me to take my own interpretations of the lessons I wanted to learn from it - a definite bonus as I hate anything that seems preachy or telling me how to live my life.

There were moments during the film when I felt intense jealousy for :Liz as she is physically and mentally able to take a year out of life to live to the fullest.  But, despite knowing that I will never be able to have those experiences, I felt that in some way she is sharing them with the world and the people she meets and the cultures she discovers are given to us in a completely true way without being pretentious.

Thought-provoking and heart-felt, this is a story about a woman trying to find out who she is and in the process of watching this film I believe that most people will discover something about themselves just by thinking about the decisions made and the reactions shown, but only if you're willing to open up your heart and mind to possibilities.  Therefore, I'd recommend this film for anyone interested in people or cultures other than their own - but I wouldn't advise anyone to expect it as a guide to life, that is not what this film is for.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Why I Write

I have given the question 'why do I write?' a lot of thought lately.  And honestly, I'm still not entirely sure.  I think it has to do with people. 

People are a complete mystery to me.  They do things that are totally illogical and every single one of them is different.  They don't make sense in my head.  And that is why I find them so fascinating.

Writing, for me, is about discovery of people through the creation and stories of the people I create.  It's about trying to understand why they do what they do - that is the most important thing for me.  The why of a person.

Other than that, I enjoy the feeling of having a great idea, of seeing words appear on a blank page, of knowing that I am creating.  And that is why I write.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Spiral

You remember when I took part in Creativity Boot Camp?  Well, the organiser Maegan now hosts The Sunday Creative so I thought I'd give it a go.  This week's prompt is Spiral.  Feedback is always welcome.

A hanging glass spiral hung in the window. Karla watched as the pearls of reflected light moved about the room; over the brown seats, the brown carpet, the beige walls and the stack of out-of-date magazines beside her.  The clock ticked. 

There was one other person in the waiting room, probably feeling just as anxious and worried as Karla herself was feeling.  She picked up the top magazine – Hello.  She hated gossip weeklies, they rarely had anything useful in them, but right now it was a distraction.  Anything to stop herself thinking what was being said behind the closed door.  Every now and again the flicking light caused by the spiral would draw Karla’s eyes to that door.  Or perhaps it was Karla herself wanting it to open, for the waiting to end.

And then it opened.  There was the doctor.  And there was her mother, dressed impeccably as always.  She always worried what other people thought about her and so only had clothes she deemed ‘best’ in her wardrobe, hair and make-up always done perfectly and daring red nails which didn’t imply her age.

Karla looked up hopefully, wanting to see relief on her mother’s face, wanting to know that everything would be okay.  Instead she was met with her mother standing straight, not showing any emotion.
  
“So we’ll get you an appointment, it may be a week, perhaps a few days longer.”
    
 “Thank you.”  Was her mother’s short reply.
    
And Karla knew that her life was about to change and that the diagnoses was positive.  Her mum had cancer.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Sunday Shout Out

This week I want to send you to a blog I only recently started following Eat, Move, Write.  This blog is filled with so much truth about living life, healthy eating, obesity, family and everything else that life incompasses.  Jasmine is a writer but she doesn't often write about writing like so many other writer bloggers (myself included) as her blog is more a place for her to write about issues she feels passionately about and share them with the world.  I would seriously suggest you take the time out of your day to take a look at her blog if you've ever felt that it's hard to be truthful, have had body issues, want to be a writer, or feel the need to connect to other people (if I didn't just describe you then jealous much).  So what are you waiting for?  Go, read.

Oh and for the writers who read this blog, Eat, Move, Write also holds weekly writing competitions and every Sunday you can read the winners.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Review: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this film - but hey, the poster looked good so why not give it a shot.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief was created from Greek Mythology.  I love anything to do with fairytales and myths, so that gave it a big thumbs up in my book.  However, it gave the myths a modern and unusual twist by focusing on the demi-gods who have one human parent and one god parent, and of course our hero, Percy Jackson, is even more special by being the son of one of the top three gods (Zeus, Poseidon and Hades for those who aren't in the know).

Honestly, I didn't enjoy this film as much as I thought I would as while I knew it was an adventure film, it seemed a bit contrived to me.  Percy is accused of stealing Zeus' thunder which ends up with him on a quest.  That in itself doesn't sound so bad, but the quest to me seemed very, point A (face an enemy), point B (face an enemy), point C (face an enemy), face the main enemy, the end.  And the way that Percy defeats all his enemies seemed a little lame to me as most of it was through luck or someone/thing else coming to the rescue.

So I'd say this film is probably fine if you're looking for very light entertainment without much hidden meaning or thought provoking scenes, or for children who know nothing about Greek Mythology (as it's sort of informational) but for me, I prefer a little more depth to my films.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Finding My Genre

In the past I have mainly written what I suppose is contemporary fiction.  I've never really known what genre I was drawn to except that all my novel length ideas seemed to be designed for Young Adults and were pretty high-concept.  The problem with this was that, barring Harry Potter, I don't really read that genre.  And the advice of write the genre you read was always in the back of my mind.

I read Chick Lit.  There, I've said it.  In the past I have always been slightly ashamed of reading this but that wasn't the reason I never thought to write it.  The problem I had was how would I come up with an idea that was unique enough to be different from the thousands of other books in this genre, and yet include the tropes that make up this genre?  That was until recently.

I was trying to think of an idea for my main project for my final year and I went through quite a few - including the high-concept YA ideas, and also writing it as a blog format.  It turned out that neither of those were what really sparked my interest.  And to be honest I was quite surprised by what did.  Because, as you've probably guessed by now, the idea is sort of a chick lit.  I say sort-of as it's not strictly set in the modern world.  Well, it is, but includes an element of the unnatural, similar to the ideas in a few of Cecelia Ahern's books (which I strongly recommend).

So I had my idea, but I still wasn't sure if I'd be able to write it (and to be honest I'm still not sure, but I'm going to give it a damn good try) so I tried writing a few unrelated scenes that could place in a chick lit book, and was surprised to find that not only did I really enjoy writing them, but they didn't feel as if I was simply reguritating other books.  I realised that if I have my own style then my stories will automatically seperate themselves from the masses (whether it's positively or negatively is yet to be decided). 

So I guess I'm trying to say that genre and voice are inseperable.  While we may be able to write in more than one genre, it is our voice and style that keep our stories fresh and new and hopefully interesting enough for a publisher/agent/reader to buy.  So I'm going to give the Chick Lit style a go as a sort of test-run and perhaps if I love it enough, I will have found my niche.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Seeing the Finish Line

Lately I've been doing a lot of cross-stitching.  I have dabbled in it before but now I'm finding myself drawn to it a lot more often, almost every day.  Mainly I've been stitching small kits although I have a few larger projects on the go, and I have finally realised why I love this craft.  It is different from my other hobbies in one special way - I can see how far I need to go to get to the finish line.

I am a competitive person and I also love a challenge.  But there's nothing more depressing than when you can't see the end of the challenge.  When you're writing a story you can't see how many more words you'll need, when you're tidying you can see what you've achieved but the chances are you'll be more preoccupied with everything that you haven't and that always seems to be a never-ending list.  With cross-stitch you have the pattern in front of you.  To begin with it may seem like it will never be finished - after all, you start with some fabric and some threads.  But then the pattern starts to form and suddenly you can see what you have left to do.  Not to mention the amazing feeling I get when I consider that I've made something beautiful with so little.

And that's why I cross-stitch.  What's your hobby and why are you drawn to it?

Monday, 4 October 2010

Welcome Autumn

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
~George Cooper, "October's Party"




Friday, 1 October 2010

Review: Sex and the City (Book)

Lovers of the TV series will instantly recognize the many of the scenarios shown through this collection of the Sex and the City newspaper columns by Candace Bushnell.  However, don't expect any other similarities.  While the characters of Carrie, Samantha and Miranda do appear in the books, they aren't the same as in the series and only Carrie is in more than two chapters (and it isn't the fabulous Carrie character we have come to love on our screens).

In fairness, I'm impressed so much was gleaned from these pages to make 6 years and 2 films (so far).  Because, as I've said, it is a collection of columns.  It is not a novel, and therefore shouldn't be read as such.  It is a book that you can easily dip into and read a chapter and there without worrying about what you've previously read.  However, I did find that as I read it (I read it through like a normal book) I became more engrossed towards the end.  That is when the feelings for the characters started to appear, rather than just names on a page, and Carrie started taking a front seat.

While I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who doesn't like sarcastic humour or slightly depressing humour, it is definitely a must for any Sex and the City fan, as it is the core of the show and Bushnell's style and flair is what will pull you in and make you laugh - but only if you have the sense of humour to laugh at what could be quite depressing situations.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Finishing

I've started a lot of writing projects.  That's the problem.  I start them and then don't get any further.  I get somewhere in the middle usually and even though I know how I want it to end, I just don't seem able to get there.  This is, I believe, why I'm not published yet.  How can I be published when I never end things to send them off?

It's not a fear of editing.  I love editing (yes, I know I'm weird).  It's not even the fear that they won't be good enough - I know I'm good with words (I'm not bragging, it's the only skill I have), though yes, I believe my ideas could sometimes do with a little work.  But that's nothing that can't be fixed.

The problem is I'm lazy and I don't have much self-discipline.  I get to a point when I am bored with a project so don't push myself to finish it.  Instead I go to a shiny new idea and start that.  I have lots of starting paragraphs and even pages stored on my computer, more than I'm even aware of. 

It is good when I run out of ideas and reading one of my beginnings can spark so much excitement.  But that's rarely enough to actually finish anything.  The only pieces of writing I've ever actually finished have all been assignments for my uni course.  And that's the main reason I took a writing course - to force me to finish.  But what about next year?

It seems I am going to have to come up with a better system with sticking to one piece at a time until it is finished, if I ever want to get published (which, of course, I do).  So any tips on staying power?  I've tried self-deadlines but they don't work for me.  Do you have this problem?  How do you deal with it?

Dream Fulfilled

Last week I fulfilled a dream I've had for quite a few years now.  I have now been to and eaten at all three Waffle Houses.  It may seem like a silly dream as it isn't anything particularly amazing, yet it was my dream and I am very happy that I finally saw it realised.

I first went to the Waffle House in Norwich (UK) where, although it looks quite normal from the outside, the food inside made me an instant addict.  Savoury and sweet toppings on waffles means plenty of choice for vegetarians and although some of them sound unusal, they all taste amazing.

But my dream wasn't born until I went to South Africa and our teachers arranged for us to go to the Waffle House in Ramsgate (about an hour away from Durban) as we were actually staying in a nearby town.  That was when I said to myself - I'm going to go to all of them.  Of course this was more to do with the fact that there was only one left to visit.  It started as a dream born from convenience and yet, as my M.E. worsened, it became a full-fledged dream.

Sure, there was only one restaurant left to visit but it meant getting there and having the money and energy to enjoy it.  And on Friday I finally got that chance.  I went to St. Albans to support Lucy from Heaven Is A Cupcake and decided that now was the time to visit the final Waffle House.  It was quite a unique experience as it is inside an old Mill.  By the end of the day (by which I mean the afternoon, when we got home) I was completely exhausted, but it was worth it.  I can now say that I have completed at least one dream.

So whether your dreams are big or small, make the effort and you'll forever have those memories and the knowledge that you set out to do something, and did it.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Believe

I believe in everything until it's disproved.  So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons.  It all exists, even if it's in your mind.  Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?  ~John Lennon


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sunday Shout Out

This week I'm advising you go and check out Sofa and the City.  This is a completely realistic and open blog about living with M.E./C.F.S.  So many times during reading this have I felt complete agreement and understanding of what Karen is going through and believe that anyone who is interested in how this disability effects the day to day living for someone, this is the blog to read. 

Karen somehow manages to stay upbeat and optimistic about her life and makes sure all fabulousness shines through her words, which make this blog different from all those 'woe to me' blogs that I know you want to avoid.  Karen has given me strength and I'm sure you will find something from her words to benefit you in some way, so please pop over there and leave her a comment.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

My Favourite Blog Award

Kess, of http://thepassingplace.blogspot.com has nominated me for a 'My Favourite Blog Award' and I'm very pleased to accept it.  I've been a little sneaky and accepted the award on both blogs.  Here I will nominate the writing blogs that I can't wait to read each day and at my other blog I have nominated life relating blogs (you can read those nominations here.


In accepting this award I can nominate up to 4 other blogs that I wait impatiently each day to read.  As I said above, these nominations are all writing blogs so if that isn't your cup of tea click the link above to read my other nominations.  Without further ado, my nominations:

First Place goes to Tawna Fenske at Don't Pet Me, I'm Writing.  As I said in last weeks Sunday Shout Out, this blog has homour and writing info for everyone to enjoy.

Second Place goes to Natalie Whipple at Between Fact and Fiction.  This blog intrigues me so much that I am currently reading my way through the entire thing.

Third Place goes to Kiersten White at Kiersten Writes.  I am currently waiting for her debut novel, Paranormalcy, to be released in the UK as I'm sure it will be filled with the humour I find on her blog.

And Fourth Place goes to Elana Johnson at her blog.  Filled with useful information and links, this blog has been infinitely useful to me as a budding writer.

To accept the award please save the image above and post into your blog along with up to 4 nominations of blogs you feel worthy of this award, the ones you can't wait to read.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Review: The Last Song (Book)

I wasn't sure about reading this book as I didn't enjoy 'The Notebook' also by Nicolas Sparkes.  However, I'm glad I gave this writer another chance with 'The Last Song' as I really enjoyed it.

To begin with the chapters told from different view points were a bit annoying and confusing but I soon learnt the character's voices.  However, the changing of voices did mean that I didn't connect to one character in particular but nor did I have any deep empathy for any of the characters.

The story itself was interesting and different from anything I've ever read before, and that was a large part of its appeal.  It had a little of everything within it - romance, family, growing up, parenthood - and believe that most people would take something away from reading this.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Finding My Voice

I am relatively certain that I have mentioned before that I am still finding my 'voice'.  Voice is that illusive must-have item for a writer.  The problem is finding it and knowing when you have it and knowing what it is.  I have been told that I have a strong voice.  That may be so, but to me, my voice is still evolving.  How can I have voice when I don't even know what genre I want to write in?

So I've started writing more.  At least, that is the plan.  I don't expect my voice to fall in my lap but I want it to evolve.  To become strong enough that I recognize it.  Strong enough that I'm comfortable with it - so I can say to the world 'I've found my voice!'.  My plan is write lots of different types of things - from romance to horror to YA to everything in between that my mind can come up with.  I'm forcing myself to set half an hour aside each day just to write.  That's a minimum of course.  But when you've become as lax as I have you need to take it slow.  And that doesn't include any time spent on writing short stories.  Just the time spent experimenting.  I want to find out what I want to write.  I want to know who I am as a writer.  And I'm going to make an effort to become the writer I am.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Painted Nails & Scented Soap

The other day I painted my nails.  It was something I had been meaning to do for quite a while but something always stopped me - I would be having a shower later or washing up and it would ruin painted nails so there was no point.  After a few weeks of this I realised that if I continued to worry about ruining the nails I would never actually get around to painting them.  I took the plunge and spent a little 'me time' to indulge in beautiful nails.  They haven't lasted but they made me feel so much better for a few days, and I can always paint them again.

I find the same is true of scented candles or expensive soaps that we are given for birthdays and Christmas.  We don't use them, we save them for a special occasion.  But more often than not they will have lost their scent by that time and the gift has been wasted.  The thing is, we could always get some more soap if we enjoy it, so why shouldn't we use it.  As far as I'm concerned we only get one life and it's the little things that count.  We should treat ourselves as that special occasion and enjoy the small pleasures we can get out of using luxuries.  Treat yourself instead of wasting the chance, and I promise that you'll feel much better and happier for it.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

One More Woman


I actually wrote this last year as an exercise for class - a story with not punctuation.  One of my more twisted pieces, I'm really proud of it and so am sharing it here: 

Smothering her I felt the power once again nothing holding me back or stopping me from giving death taking away her right to go on in her miserable existence this is how I felt then and do now as I continue taking lives and letting my power pore from my hands to stop the breathing and the continuity that they would have had if I had not stepped in bruising her but not enough for the skin to break until finally allowing my knife to pierce letting out a trickle of blood so I do and I have and will go on as I have begun not pausing to think what would happen if I dared to stop if I would be able to keep myself alive for just one moment without having that complete knowledge and control over my world and those women who come into mine I must always keep on as I started taking and giving at my discretion suffocating and cutting into the flawless flesh laid out in front of me to do with as I choose destroying and enhancing women with a simple groove of the knife in my hand that glides through her body leaving nothing for anyone else to play with and enjoy they are mine and mine alone and I will have her and every woman for she is there for my pleasure to extinguish one after another there will always be more where this one came from so I must not waste time in grasping each life to fulfil my personal purpose their purpose now to keep my sanity my ability to stay in this world before we are all torn away.

Monday, 20 September 2010

"When the world says "give up," Hope whispers "try it one more time". " Author Unknown







Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sunday Shout Out

This week I'm citing another author but believe me when I say this isn't your average writing blog.  While Tawna Fenske may talk about her writing, she does so in such a way that if you weren't cafeful you'd think she was discussing something else.  Don't Pet Me, I'm Writing is filled with sexual innuendo and Tawna's humour shines through in every post.  I, for one, am greatly looking forward to her debut novel coming out next year, but until then I will just have to satisfy myself with her quirky and innovative writing supplied in full at her blog.  I hope you'll take time out of your busy schedule to pop over and take a quick look.  I dare you not to laugh.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Review: Heaven Is A Cupcake


 If you haven't had a cupcake from Heaven Is A Cupcake then you are missing out - and I feel sorry for everyone too far from the area to sample these luxuries.  I'm not saying this because Lucy (the owner and creator) is my friend, I'm saying this because I, and everyone who's tried them agrees that we haven't tasted better.  I really wish she'd share her secrets as I have been trying to get the same texture for a while now and still no closer.  I know I'll never equal her icing skills and the amazing toppers she's created - I'm content with that as, as you can see, I would be an idiot to try.



While her cakes may seem a little pricey at first glance, they are actually very reasonably priced in comparison to other companies and I guarantee that they are worth every single penny.  Not to mention a personal drop-off at a time agreed upon by the customer and Lucy.

With flavours to suit every taste and custom-made toppers for every occasion, Heaven truly is a cupcake.  Not to mention they're very decently packaged but beware, if you're buying them as a gift, it will be extrememly hard not to eat them all yourself.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Why Baking Is Like Writing


To me, writing stories is much like baking a cake.  There are the main ingredients that you usually have to use:
  • Idea (Sugar)
  • Plot (Flour)
  • Character (Butter)
  • Setting (Eggs)
Granted, you don't absoulutely have to use them but it's a very good idea to stick to the basics - at least to begin with.

Of course the quality of the ingredients will have an impact on how good your cake/story is.  If you use margarine instead of butter your cake probably won't be as rich in taste and texture.  Likewise, if you use a stock character rather than one which has been fully rounded, that has their own quirks, dreams and flaws, your story may become a bit flat and unoriginal.

Once you know what you're doing with your ingredients, you've become a competent cake-baker, you have the chance to experiment.  You may vary the portions slightly or you may add your own ingredients creating chocolate, lemon or carrot cakes instead of run of the mill average.  Not that there was anything wrong with the cakes before, but they didn't have anything that made them different.  The same goes for your stories.  You can vary the types of characters, the setting or you can add another element such as structuring your timeline, or mixing it around.

And finally, there is the icing.  Of course you don't have to put icing on your cupcake but be certain that if you do you'll attract a lot more attention.  People want cakes that have variety and can offer them something unique.  It's the same with writing (bet you didn't see that coming), you need to show your style through your choice of words.  You need to make your writing stand out from the crowd by offering something different, your own personal twist.


And yes, the pics are of cakes I have baked :)  Can't say my writing is quite up to that standard yet but working my way there.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Icing On The Cake

Life can get us down. The wrong weather, realising that the top you want to wear is in the dirty laundry pile, having deadlines that you're convinced you will never finish by.  That's because life is hard. OK, so it doesn't have to be hard, but for the majority it is.  But in all this stress and pain and busy busy busy lives of ours we forget that life is the icing on the cake.  We are alive.

Don't worry I'm not going to get philosophical on you, mainly because my outlook is often misconstrued as depressing.  But amongst the business of our lives and the stress we put on ourselves to be the best, to have the best, we often forget to actually live.  As far as I'm concerned we only get one life (you can argue we have more but if we can't remember them then it works the same) and it doesn't matter why we're here as long as we don't waste our time.  I'm not suggesting that everyone reach to try and change mankind - though a movement like that might actually work - I just mean we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves every day.  Take time out to find out what you really love about being on this earth and then find the time to truly appreciate it.  I'll start:

I appreciate that I have money to spare
I appreciate that I love my family and my family loves me
I appreciate my boyfriend who has stuck by me when I'm really not that fun to be around
I appreciate Christmas
I appreciate words and books
I appreciate having the time to waste it on facebook
I appreciate cupcakes

And so many more things.  These are my icing in life and I plan to enjoy them and remember to enjoy them.  Please chime in with what you appreciate in the comments.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Temptation

I know this isn't strictly about cupcakes (or, you know, not at all) but it follows with the theme of sweet delights.  So here's a little snippet of my writing that I wrote for Ficly (click here to go to my profile) last year (I really need to start writing more short pieces).  So, anyway, enjoy:


It was there, right in front of her. It’s dark eyes dotted about stared at her, daring her to take it. All she would have to do is reach out, pick it up off the plate and take a bite. The more she stared at the cookie, the more it’s power pulled her in. She was transfixed. She shouldn’t take the first bite, she should just leave it. But surely one bite wouldn’t hurt. Just a little bite.

She took that first step, felt the biscuit crumbling on her lips, the chocolate chips melting on her tongue. She was right. She shouldn’t have taken the bait. She had been right, the cookie had her now. But she could defeat it. If she ate it all…there wouldn’t be any proof that she had fallen for it…the cookie would be gone, and only she would know.

She sat there, looking at the empty plate, no crumbs were left, there was no proof. But she felt the guilt set in. The cookie had won afterall, it wasn’t there anymore, but that was what it had wanted all along. For her to eat it, and she had.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Cupcake Week

This week is National Cupcake Week so to celebrate I have lined up a few posts to do with cupcakes - because, let's face it, we all love cupcakes.  They are just so beautiful and yummy and, you get the idea.  So I'm kicking off today with a few pics to whet you appetite.




[all images from WeHeartIt]

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Why Me?

Quite often I ask the question 'why me?'  It isn't fair that I have to stay in bed or need help to get changed in the evening or that I often have to have someone else cook my dinner.  I'm probably sounding quite depressed and 'oh poor me' right now and that is how I was feeling last night.  And how I've felt many times that have always ended up in tears.


But I don't want to be an 'oh poor me' type of person.  I know I will never be truly happy with my lot in life because, let's face it, it can suck quite a lot.  But in thinking about how much my life sucks I forget how lucky I am and how many things don't suck.  I have friends, family and a fantastic boyfriend all willing to help.  I'm able to continue my education.  I can eat what I want (even though I sometimes wish I couldn't, overall I know it's something to be grateful for).  And there are so many things that make me happy.  But I never ask 'why me?' for the good things (okay, I sometimes ask how the hell I got so lucky with finding the right person for me right now (aka the boyfriend) but that's another issue).  I take them for granted and I'm certain I'm not the only one (at least I hope I'm not).


Why is that we always focus on the negatives and forget all the things that make our lives special and worth it to keep plodding along?  What is it that you've taken for granted? Take a minute and remember something that made you smile - and please share as a smile can make someone else's day.

Monday, 6 September 2010

How I Have Money Even Though I'm A Student

The cliche of a student life is one with dirty laundry, no money, living off pasta and take aways and generally slouching around doing not a whole lot.  While my laudry pile has been, on occasion, gastronomically high, I eat a lot of pasta and take aways and can't vouch for what I do everyday - I do have money.

I'm not talking millions at my disposal, I certainly couldn't buy a house or anything, I am talking enough to live on comfortably and buy the things I need with occasional treats for myself.  I don't have a job, nor a mysterious benefactor - I have a student loan.  If you want to argue that this money isn't really mine because it's a loan this may not be the post for you as I personally don't see it as debt.  Sure, I have to pay it off but not until I'm capable of paying it off.  But back on track.  I have a student loan.  This is my income.

So how do I manage to still have money in my bank account at the end of summer?  I plan.  It really is that simple.  I know how much money I have.  I know how long that money has to last.  And I know how much I have to pay (rent, bills).  The point is - I know exactly (okay, so maybe not exactly) how much money I have to spend on food and going out and anything else I might want.

I don't force myself to go without things - if I really really want something I will find a way to be able to buy it, even if it means not having money for anything else for a month.  Actually when you know you won't be able to buy any more food or be able to go out if you buy that special something, it's amazing how quickly you can decide that you don't really want it.  The key here is moderation.  It's like chocolate.  The moment you tell yourself you can't have any you'll want it much much more until you break and eat a lot of bars of the stuff which then leaves you feeling guilty and generally down on yourself.  If you allow yourself to have a little chocolate regularly you feel better as you're able to stick to your resolution and with any luck the pounds will disappear (or walk away if you're on Doctor Who).  Knowing that you have money that you can spend works the same way.  The moment you tell yourself not to buy anything you will inevitably fail and land yourself in the trouble you were avoiding.  If you're worried that you will overspend, a trick I use is to take out a set amount of money each week and that is all you have for the rest of the week (I take out between £30-50 depending on what I think I'll need and how much money I have left).

And my final point is HAVE SAVINGS.  Seriously, if you don't have a savings account - get one.  And then put money in it every time you get paid/your loans come through.  Make sure you leave enough in your regular account for however long you need it as the idea is that you won't ever touch your savings account.  That way when you have an emergency you don't need to panic as you have back-up money right there waiting for you.  Or else you might want to save for a house.  It's up to you but a savings account is very important, particularly if you're not good with money.  It can save you a lot of pain and trust me, you'll feel a sense of pride as you watch your money grow each year (even if there is barely any interest, it's amazing what difference £10 a month will make to your bank balance.

What tips or tricks do you have to keep money from wandering out of your pocket?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Wheelchairing About

Yesterday I went to a quaint little seaside town that I've always had fond memories of.  When I think of it I think of running in the sea, shopping in all the shops selling completely useless but completely gorgeous knick-knacks, and enjoying the smell of the air, so clearly tainted by the sea.  Hence my wish to revisit.  However, this time I went in my wheelchair.  This meant no running in the sea - instead I watched from high above through a railing as my Dad and tiny brother threw stones into the water (the beach is half pebbled, half sand - which was almost underwater). 

The town smelt the same of course but I had forgotten the crowds of people summer brings and I'd never noticed just how wide the paths aren't before.  It turns out that the path is just big enough for a wheelchair and one other person to get past.  It was bumpy and uneven - something else I'd never noticed.  And the shops.

I love the town for it's quaint little shops filled with wonders but the one word there that doesn't bode well for wheelchair uses is 'quaint'.  Quaint doesn't mean easily navigated with plenty of space.  Quaint for me, now means small, awkward and likely to have a step at the entrance.  We managed to get into two shops.  A fudge shop which would have been awesome if I hadn't had to have been nearly tipped out to get out of it and a large store which seemed to have everything.  They had, thankfully, put ramps between most of the sections which were at different levels but as they began to close they blocked each with items from outside making it especially hard to find someone to pay and a way out that was still available.  I could have gone in one other shop though it was actually closed.  The owner saw us (did I mention that the boyfriend had to push me up and down all those hills?) and opened the door in case we wanted anything.  As I knew I wasn't actually going to buy anything I politey declined but I'm unsure whether I would have been given the same treatment had I been walking about.

Despite the complexities being in a wheelchair brought, I did have a good day though I was exhausted by the end of it.  If I hadn't taken the wheelchair I wouldn't have made it all the way to the sea from the car and while it may have been easier to get in and out of the shops (and around them) I probably wouldn't be well enough today to write this.  But perhaps in the future I'll reconsider why I like somewhere before I agree to take a trip as quaint is no longer my cup of tea.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Procrastination

I am a procrastinator.  In fact I think I could do it at olympic level - I could just see that, who can spend the most time finding other things to do to put off what they're actually supposed to be doing.  I am terrible for not writing.  I spend a lot of time thinking about writing and even more time reading about writing.  Yet I still do very little writing.  To the point that most days I don't actually do any writing.  I'm beginning to wonder if I can still call myself a writer (I actually did wonder this but came to the conclusion I am a writer as though I can go years without doing much writing I will always return to it).

One of my latest things is to tidy.  I hate tidying (ok, I don't hate it so much but when you're working with my bedroom it becomes a little overwhelming).  They say that writers often have spotless homes simply because all the household chores become vitally important just as you're about to start writing.  I know this feeling.  It's not why I'm tidying, but it probably has something to do with it.  The thing is I thought I'd procrasitinate writing by tidying and then procrastinate tidying by writing.  It hasn't quite turned out like that.

Despite my flawless plan I've found that I'm more likely to tidy that to write.  However, I'm even more likely to focus on reading and cross-stitch and reading blogs than tidying.  So my room is very very slowly being tidied.  Every now and again some writing gets done.  And I'm spending far too much time procrastinating, a.k.a doing nothing.

Anyone have any tips how to get out of this rut?  What do you do when you find you're doing something to put off doing something else?

And to finish off this post - why not procrastinate by watching this video:

Monday, 23 August 2010

Planning





I understand your horror as you look at the picture above (which, by the way, was taken by me today) but this post isn't really about Christmas.  Well, it is, but it isn't.  You see, I have an obsession with Christmas and anything remotely Christmas related is likely to get my attention.  And right now I am reading my Christmas books and looking for inspiration.  Because soon I am going to have to start making Christmas cards.  Now, as you noticed I said make the cards and I certainly don't expect anyone 'normal' to start planning for Christmas in August but for crafters now is the time when preparations begin simply to be even close to ready when the big event happens.  My point is I'm going to have to plan what I need to make and what I need to buy and how long everything is going to take and how many of everything I need - you get the idea.  Planning helps me feel confident and able to approach everything I need to do.  I can break it down into smaller pieces and I always plan with spare time as I never know when my M.E. is going to hit. 

But usually, a week before Christmas I am inevitably in the shops with everyone else trying to find the one thing I forgot or didn't plan for.  And that is what life is like.  You can plan it as much as you like, down to the last minute of every day what you are going to be doing.  But the truth is you will always forget something or something interrupts your plans.  For me, M.E. interrupted my life and I've had to learn to live with it but a singular event such as a forgotten birthday needs to be accounted for (just for the record, I've never forgotten a birthday to date).  As much as you try, you cannot plan your life.  (Well, you can but you probably won't end up following, but you know what I mean).  And my advice is just go with the flow.  If you're worried about what you didn't get to do or what you had to do that you didn't want to, you will miss the joy of it.  If I miss a few cards I can worry about it or I can go to the shops and buy some more or stay up late and make some more.  I have to be flexible and life can only be enjoyed if you actually live it rather than trying to control it.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Spare a Penny (or a Pound)

I know lately many of my posts are just links to other things and unfortunately today is the same.  The main reason for this is that my M.E. can make it hard to think and even when I can think of things I'm not really leaving the house much to give me any inspiration - such is my life.  One of the charities that has made a huge difference in my life is AYME (Association of Young people with M.E.)  The main way it's helped me is by providing a bi-monthly magazine which makes me feel connected to the rest of the world.  Unfortunately, they rely completely on donations and people like VeeVee who, despite suffering herself with both M.E. and NEAD, is taking part in the Adidas Women's 5K Challenge and all is donating all her sponsorship money to AYME.  So I'm asking you please, consider donating, even if you can only spare £1 it will be greatly appreciated.  So I know I and VeeVee will greatly appreciate it if you could spend a few minutes and a few pennies to sponsor her HERE

Monday, 16 August 2010

Heaven Is A Cupcake Giveaway

Do you remember when my Sunday Shout Out was Heaven Is A Cupcake?  Well, Lucy is now doing a giveaway of £40 in CSN vouchers.  This is a prize I know anyone would want to win as CSN sell almost everything and all you have to do is pick your favourite item (ok, maybe not so easy given the choice).  You can find out the details and enter the competition HERE.  Hope you all enter and join her facebook page as her cakes are seriously yummy.

Breaking The 'Rules'

As a writer I spend a lot of time reading about writing.  In fairness I could probably be using that time more productively by writing, but personally I prefer reading about writing to the actual writing itself (I dread to think what that says about me).  Anyway, a lot of the advice I've read is not to edit too much before you finish the story - if you do, you probably won't ever finish writing it.  And up until now, that has been pretty sound advice for me, especially as I seem completely unable to finish anything without a deadline.

As my regular readers will have noticed, the wordcount for my NaNo novel hasn't been creeping up as it should have been.  And I've finally figured out why - I'm not telling the story right.  I have been forcing myself forward with it in the belief that I can edit out the problems later, but not I realise that the only way to edit the problems would be to rewrite the whole thing anyway.  So I've decided to start again.  I know this may mean I never actually finish it but personally I'd rather rewrite from now than wait until I have a completed version which I'd have to start again.

I am making my own rules.  While I have listened to the advice out there, and what I'm saying here is nothing new, I am doing what I believe is right for my writing, right for me.  I know there is no 'correct' way of writing, the only way you can find what works for you is to try many things.  So I'm going to try again and see if I have better luck.  If this doesn't work than perhaps this isn't the project for me right now.  But for now I'm following my gut instinct and that is to start again and not follow the rule of waiting til I'm finished to make it work.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Names for Charity

I've just found an inspiring story at I Should Be Writing about someone who is raising money for Ethopian girls who have been forced to give birth at just 12, often leaving them incontinent which causes the husbands to throw them out.  £400 can change the life of one girl through providing an operation.  The person raising money, Katey, is asking just £2 donation towards a names sheet for writers.  This sheet has all the most popular names from 1904 to 2008 - very useful for any writer who has difficulty choosing the right names for their characters.  I've donated and hope you will too at http://justgiving.com/ipreferhappyendings.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Review: Toy Story 3 (3D)

As regular readers of my blog will know, I am not a fan of 3D.  In the past I've had problems with the mass amount of extra energy it uses and the headaches it causes, not to mention the extra cost.  So when I went to see Toy Story 3 I was planning on seeing it in 2D.  It turns out that everyone else had made the same choice and the only screening left was sold out.  As I really wanted to see Toy Story 3 I decided to risk 3D.

Firstly, I was very impressed with the 3D effects.  I know for the most part the only really effective effects were the ones designed to sell 3D but the fact is that during the film it didn't hinder my experience in any way.  Granted, I'm not sure it enhanced it either but I'm just focusing on the fact that I didn't get a headache and it didn't wear me out too much.  Most of the time I completely forgot it was in 3D.

As for the film itself: interesting storyline.  As usual Woody is advocate for being Andy's toys when the others want to move on to greener pastures now that Andy is going to college.  The characterization was very believable and in sync with the previous films which I definitely appreciated.  Knowing that the characters hadn't changed much was important as it helped me follow the situation and almost guess what the characters might do next.  I'm pleased to say that although the characters stayed the same, they did not become predictable so still held my interest.

As for the storyline, I have to say that it seemed a little political for a children's film.  Maybe it's because I'm watching it as an adult but the fact that there is a pyramid 'government' (the term 'pyramid' is actually in the film) made it seem as if the producers were trying to make a point.  And while the Spanish mode of one the characters is funny - I'm not sure about subtitles in a children's film, I mean how easy is it to read the translation and watch the film itself when you've just learnt to read?

However, afterall that, I would completely recommend this film to everyone as long as you can get over the politics of it, as it made me laugh out loud (and the rest of the very small audience as well) and I cried at the end.  I'm sure that last statement just makes me seem like a complete softie but oh well.  This is a film that follows as the perfect ending to the Toy Story films but I don't think watching it in 3D will make your experience much different from watching it in 2D (this is my opinion as I haven't actually seen it in 2D).  So basically, it's a good film that's perfect for light entertainment when the message is ignored.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Dancing

This morning the only thing I felt like watching was 'Got to Dance'.  It was a repeat (I actually recorded the live shows at the time so have seen them all before).  I love dancing. I love dancers.  Every kind of dance, but mainly ballet and contemporary.  I used to dance.  I used to baton twirl and before that did ballet (though I never did any grades).  I love dancing in night clubs.


But all that is in the past.  The most I can ask for now is to manage 5 minutes on a dance floor and that leaves me with extreme pain so don't undertake it often (the last time was around Christmas).  Watching other people dance upsets me because it reminds me of what I've lost, what I can't have.  Yet I am constantly drawn to it.  In some ways watching is better than nothing.  When I feel really good I spend hours on YouTube watching baton twirlers and cheerleaders pulling stunts I never got the chance to try.  Watching them brings me a little closer but it also makes me realise just how much I hate M.E. and what it is doing to me.   I was never going to be a great dancer.  I didn't really want to be.  I just want to be able to dance and enjoy it and love it.  There is no feeling like it.

So if you don't do something that secretly you would like to try ask yourself why.  If it's any reason other than you physically can't, go out and give it a go.  Enjoy the life you have.  Because it's only when it gets taken away from you that you'll realise just how much you had.  So take advantage of it now and hope that you can continue forever.  But at least you won't regret not doing it.