Monday, 30 December 2013

Want a new writing challenge for 2014?

I really admire Tess at Magpie Tales for being so diligent and dutiful with her writing prompts every Sunday.  She has been instrumental in providing some great creative food for thought to poets, bloggers and aspiring writers everywhere.  Her picture prompts have been mysterious, challenging, captivating, intriguing and fun.  Although I haven't managed to participate every week, I've enjoyed the creative challenge on various weeks through the year. I recommend checking out her site, Magpie Tales in the New Year.

Happy New Year to my blogging buddies and readers, wishing you all the best for 2014.  

Here is my attempt at Mag 200, the last one of the year.  Francis Bacon, a Self Portrait.

Picture Prompt

Our first home
Not brand new, on some fashionable development
But old red-bricked, in a quiet and unassuming street
A small, affordable and cosy space,
Just big enough for the two of us.
We danced on the wooden floors of knotted pine.
The old dresser, a cooker and one battered comfy chair
Our luxuries of possession, debt free and resourceful too.
Memories caught by your old and faithful lens,
Pictures saved in hard backed books
For laughter, retelling tales and sharing
With the next generation
Where images move at a quicker pace.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

What happens when the writing stops?

Before me lies the white page, fresh, clean and devoid of writing. Then a thought appears, as if by magic. ‘What will I write about?’ And the thought tosses and jumbles words wondering how to translate an idea to the page with ease and eloquence.  A further thought questions the intention of the first thought, ‘How will you engage the reader? ‘ The mood is upon me to write something but kick-starting the process is taking a little time. Often the hardest bit is making a start, a start to write.  I notice something strange happening - the questions are enabling my fingers to tap rhythmically on the keyboard.  Perhaps that’s part of the answer – to allow fingers to tap rhythmically.  When this happens I am pleased to see the words unfold before me.  Do they make sense?  Do they tell a story about the hesitant writer, the writer who is anxious about having nothing to write?  As I continue to tap on the keyboard, I see the words appear.  I write, simply write and my mind wanders to the next question – ‘Write, yes but what about?’
  • I could tell you about my week but how much of that would be of interest to read?
  •     I could share my days at school; great learning from small children and their entertaining take on life, school and home.  I think that we don’t laugh often enough.  What would happen if we did?
  •    I could mention something about sharing a Christmas meal with friends.  There is much laughter away from the busyness of the day and the constant demands from people, big and small. Why don’t we do this more often?
  •    I could mention my annoyance about my 95-year-old friend who had to wait four hours for an ambulance to take him home from hospital or my smile when he texted me that he had arrived home safe and well. My offer of a lift was not needed after all.  I am mindful not to hamper his independence, as that remains a high priority for him. Don’t you love 95 year olds who text?
  •    I could share the wonder and magic of not one but two trips to my local Centre for the Arts to be entertained inspired and uplifted this week. Is it possible to change the world just by being kind?  One such question was excellently scripted and written by Bernadette and Gareth in ‘366 Days of Kindness’. What can I do to change the world? 

And lo and behold, the page has filled before me with words and writing.  There is no expectation on my part that this piece of writing might win an award. The chances are that it may not be read by anyone in the blogging space, and that doesn’t matter either.  However, what does matter is that my writing has shimmied up the fence of obstruction, knocked it over and allowed the words to flow freely once again. For me, today that’s okay.  Happy writing.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

If at first you don't succeed ...

Contents of a Creative Juice Box

Don't you just hate it when you spend ages writing something for your blog. You check for typos grammar and missed words.  Content and format sorted, all ready to go ... push the Publish button and WHOOSH ... it disappears into the ether never to be seen again!  Well that happened to me yesterday. I was not happy.  I did check to see if I could find the missing scribbled piece but alas no, it was not to be found.

Today is a new day and I try again.  I wanted to tell you about my friends over at The Loving Heart Cafe and their wonderful Creative Juice Boxes.  They contain all sorts of creative things - old photos, bits of paper and string, a scented candle, coloured pencils and beads, a page from a book, part of an old map ... various prompts to encourage a little creativity.  For me, it was an invitation to use my imagination and write a new story.  Allow me to introduce Lottie, created from the Creative Juice box. The Loving Heart Cafe.  I should mention that the opening line is from the page of an old book, author unknown.

Any thoughts on extending the story?

Saunton Downs

As he drove, Gerald was talking about the car. He had always liked to talk about cars.  “She won’t pull, of course,” he was saying.  “This petrol knocks hell out of the cylinders.  Just muck, really.”

But she wasn’t listening.  Her thoughts were elsewhere.  They drifted back to the long weekend at the Saunton Downs Hotel. The hotel overlooked the beautiful Croyde Bay.  They both loved Devon.  When they reached the hotel, they registered as Mr. & Mrs. Gerald Stanford.  She remembered the excitement when they pulled up at the beautiful, old country hotel set in gardens of trimmed box hedges and aromatic French lavender.  She loved how the evening wind gently wafted the scent in her direction.  How exciting.  How romantic.  And a whole weekend away from her overbearing mother. She noted how the receptionist greeted them with warmth and good grace as Gerald signed the hotel register.  The sight of Gerald, twenty years her senior did raise a few eyebrows as the hotel staff helped them with their luggage.  He booked the honeymoon suite.  The shiny band on the finger of her left hand hadn’t fooled the staff. Charlotte guessed the hotel accommodated many couples like them.

“Here, you had better put this on” said Gerald as he handed over the brass coloured band.  It looked like a curtain ring from one of Mama’s dining room drapes.  Perhaps it was, but she didn’t care. 

She didn’t care because she knew that she would have to deal with the consequences when she returned to London.  Her parents would be appalled. Her mother would be humiliated.  It was bad enough that she had run way with a married man, but that she had run off with Gerald Stanford, a man of the cloth and he only recently widowed. The pious congregation at St John’s would have much to say about this.  She smiled a wicked smile to herself.  What the hell, she was after all eighteen years old. She wondered what Madame Lidelle, her French governess would say.   Madame Lidelle was her heroine, a woman who fought, sometimes quite literally for her beliefs and values.  Mama hadn’t been too pleased when Charlotte announced that she and Madame Lidelle were planning to march to Hyde Park campaigning for the rights of women. Father doubted the intentions of the demure Madame Lidelle and wondered if his choice of governess had been a wise one.

“You’re very quiet Charlotte Park-Knowles” interrupted Gerald. “You okay?”

“Lottie … it’s Lottie” she shouted. “I hate when you call me Charlotte.”

“Didn’t you enjoy the weekend?”

“I did.  I loved every single part of it, the walks along the Sands, the early morning swims in Croyde Bay and the little chapel where we secretly vowed to be lovers forever.  I don’t wish it to end.  I don’t want to return to London.  Let’s go somewhere else?’

“I’m afraid not, my love. Time to return and face the music!”

         *  *  *

Sunday, 10 November 2013

What if your writing could sing a song?

Yesterday … cue for a song … but no, it’s okay I’m not going to sing.  Besides you probably wouldn’t hear it anyway.  I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, thank goodness for that. Did I ever mention that in a former life I made an LP?  Some of you will remember LPs … others? … may need to ask your parents!

I want to share news of a great workshop I attended yesterday called Getting Published, specifically for first time authors (like me).  Vanessa O’Loughlin from Inkwell Writers, Ireland, hosted it on WritersWebTV.   I receive regular newsletters from Vanessa filled with wonderful writing news, tips and competitions. One newsletter invited me to the workshop, so off I went with notebook, pen and copious amounts of curiosity.  I didn’t have to go far, only as far as my ‘writing room’ – that’s the space I claim for all things writing in our house. Yesterday’s workshop was wonderful and lasted from 10am-4pm (London time). 

I timetabled the event in my diary.  I watched, listened and participated with the writing exercises too. I learned lots about writing and the publishing world.  I enjoyed the questions and answers from the ‘house audience’ and from those of us outside the house too.  Each panel member gave generously of his or her time, experience and counsel from the world of writing. An inspirational Hazel Gaynor shared her story from self-published author to one being presented by Folio Literary Management.  It is encouraging to see how all the hard work and effort of the lonely writers pays off. Well done Hazel, I wish you lots of success with your novel and I look forward to reading it.

Do check out these great workshops and be prepared to learn a lot.  I’ve bought a copy of this workshop too so that I can watch it later and catch up with anything I missed.

Yesterday’s workshop provided me with lots of learning. My little pencil couldn’t scribble fast enough.  I even managed to note down a few points for action and one of them included BLOGGING!  I’m ashamed to say that I have been rather remiss about blogging on a frequent basis.   I need to get back to blogging on a regular basis.  All tips on good blogging habits are gratefully received.

I’m tempted to end this blog post with a little song but perhaps I’ll save it for another day. Allow me to sing the praises of Vanessa and her WritersWebTV.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Where doth thou go October?

October came and went and I scribbled a little while it was here ...

a dark autumnal night 
wind blowing 
a little rain
a garden light
the eucalyptus tree 
 the inky black sky.

November beckons more scribbling and autumnal notes

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A summer farewell?

Artwork by Jeanie Tomanek

 Thanks to Tessa's prompt at Magpie Tales, I thought I'd have a go today.

But I only need one.  Please?

Look, it doesn’t work like that.

Like what?

Like you just clamber up a tree and say “I only need one’. 

But you did say when we met last time; if there was anything you could do, just ask. I’m asking.  I really need your help.

True, I did.  But golden eggs need a bit more preparation than that. 

I’m sorry; it was very presumptuous of me. 

Yes, it was, ordinary white eggs I can produce without too much effort, blue ones with one day’s notice but gold ones … well we’re talking three days, at least!

It’s just that …


It’s just that for once I wanted to take something special to the autumnal gathering of the community.

And you shall.




You are special.  You have the power to captivate and mesmerise with your beautiful voice. Take the song from your heart; weave the words with magic and sing farewell to the long lazy days of summer.