Back again!

My lovely web mistress (is that the correct term for a female webmaster?) has sorted out my email for me, meaning that I could finally locate my blog password.

In case you’re wondering what I have been up to, I signed up for NaNoWriMo and, this time, have taken it seriously. I have signed up twice before and been foiled by either illness or lethargy. This time, I have forced myself to get stuck in. As of today, there are six days to go and I have done around 35k. It puts quite a lot of presssure on me to complete it (2.5k words per day – easier said than done). I found it quite easy at first, but have struggled as the book has developed. The urge to edit is strong, but that is against the rules of the challenge: it’s all about getting words down. The editing comes later. If I can keep up the momentum in to December, I should have something resembling a novel before the end of the year. I aim to have it available on 14th February 2013. Note the word ‘aim’.

If you’re interested in how the dogs are doing, please check out their page on Facebook. Their page is The Simpson Cavaliers. Currently, Ivy is poorly and off to the vet tomorrow. Unfortunately, I didn’t fulfil my attempt to do an ‘Ivy story’ on her blog every day for a year. I was so close – about a fortnight away from completion but, as you know, ME/CFS doesn’t care if you have goals!

That’s enough from me, for now. Hopefully, I’ll be around a little more.

Contacting me…

Just so you know, I’m not ignoring anyone who has contacted me via my email address or via the contact me form: my email seems to have some kind of glitch and won’t let me log in. I’ll let you know as soon as the problem is solved.

Also, Marie and I are going to get together soon and re-do the website, sorting out any faulty links, etc. In the meantime, I’m wondering whether to go back to my creative writing class. I love the social aspect, but not sure I have the energy at the moment. Fifty quid is fifty quid and not something I could waste…

Kindle humour chart

Just had a look at the Kindle chart and Karma is at #21 of the humour chart, #684 in all free Kindle offerings. Delighted about this, even if it doesn’t get any higher. I will stop obsessing about it after this weekend is over with, hoping that I have reached a wider audience and that people enjoy what they’ve read.

Kindle #fail

As you know, Karma is now available on Kindle. There are a LOT of books and authors on Kindle and, sadly, if you aren’t well-known or proven, it’s very difficult to get people to spend their hard-earned money on your work. Fair enough, I say. If you take a chance on a book that isn’t well-written or hasn’t been edited, then you’re entitled to feel hard done by. However, Amazon allows authors to a) let readers read a sample of the book and b) allows them to offer ‘free’ promotions – that’s just what it says: the book can be offered free for a certain number of days to allow you to (hopefully) improve your ranking or increase readership. As much as I struggle with the idea of giving away work (that I literally cried over), I understand that it’s important to get it out there, so went ahead with a free promotion this weekend.

Sadly, Amazon have let me down. The book is not free, and the promotion is showing up as being ‘in progress’. No, it’s not in progress, Amazon, and it’s probably really annoyed some potential readers and made me look bad, too. I have checked out the community forums, and it seems that this is a fairly regular occurrence, so I’ve emailed them to see what they say. I feel disappointed, as I expected more from Amazon.

I will let you know when the book truly is free, and I apologise if you went to download it and couldn’t.

NOTE: As of 10am (GMT), Karma is now showing as free and should be so for the next two days: try Karma free

Karma on Kindle NOW!

I haven’t blogged for a while – the summer months are not my friend (ME/CFS and hayfever are not a good match). However, I have made some progress with the Kindle version of Karma: you can now purchase it at Amazon here It was far more difficult than I imagined. I hold all the rights to the book, but assumed that I wouldn’t hold the rights to the cover art, since the former publisher arranged that. I was pleased in a way, as I never liked the cover I had. A little too pink and girlie for my liking! I had an idea in mind but had no idea how to go about it, so enlisted the help of my hubby, an amateur photographer, and my lovely cousin, who played the part of Paige. We messed around for a while with different ideas and then took to Photoshop to see what we could create. I hope that you like the end result, as we’re all newbies!

I also had to completely re-edit the book, both for my own peace of mind and before conversion to Kindle. I was genuinely surprised at the amount of small errors I found (bear in mind that it was copy edited by the original publisher) and the odd large one. I want my readers to have the best offering I can give them, and hope that I’ve done that. The best thing that I was able to do was to dedicate Karma to my grandma, who passed away not long after it was originally published – she was so pleased for me. I was also able to give Holly, my little dog who died last year a mention. That meant a lot to me.

I hope that I’ve pitched the book at a fair price. The UK price varies depending on US conversion rates. It should be around the £3 mark. Unknown authors rarely sell well (maybe 3-5 books per week), unless they can create some hype (think 50 Shades of Grey). However, I was never in this to make money – it was a cathartic exercise. I do wish I’d been able to keep the promise I made to the original Holly (the dog): I promised that if I ever made a lot of money, I’d buy a field for her to run in.

If you don’t have Kindle, don’t worry: you can download a Kindle viewer for free, via Amazon. This means that you can view the book on your computer, ipad or other devices. Happy reading!

Family ties

икона за подаръкAfter a lot of searching the internet and following leads, I’m delighted to tell you that the family I was seeking have now re-connected. I believe that they had never met in around 69 years, so when they meet up in a few weeks time, it should be cause for celebration. It’s nice to be able to bring people some good news, and I hope that they will be very happy.

Talks: writing, BDMLR, ME/CFS

I have agreed to do a couple of talks – as you know, I’ve done talks in the past for libraries, readers groups and even launched the Gateshead Libraries Short Story competition a few years ago, but they do make me nervous. This is for a number of reasons:

* The ME/CFS means that I rarely socialise and certainly don’t speak to many new people – I worry that they will think I’m stupid if I can’t get what I want to say out straight away or lose my train of thought (brain fog, urgh) or that I will be ill and need to cancel (I hate to let people down)

* I sometimes feel a bit of a fraud, as I’m by no means an expert on any topic that I’m asked to talk about.

* I worry I will be boring, having lost the art of conversation – I probably converse with less than 20 people per year.

Yesterday, I did a talk on BDMLR (British Divers Marine Life Rescue) – I have been a member (and trained medic) for six years now, and feel like the world’s worst volunteer as I’m obviously incapable of attending rescues, given my limitations. This is why I don’t turn down an opportunity to raise awareness about the charity. I was fairly prepared for the talk, having had to write it twice after my laptop crashed, but hated having to constantly refer to notes (when I’m tired, I have a mind like a sieve). I felt that I was boring and repetitive, but the ladies and gentleman I spoke to were very kind (too kind, I suspect). I have agreed to return to talk about hand massage (a subject far more familiar to me, given my love of massage).

I am also due to attend a local sixth form college, where I will discuss writing, BDMLR and ME/CFS – I’m a little nervous about the distance, but keen to speak to the young people. I am impressed that the college want speakers who cover such a diverse range of topics: all we got was armed forces, law and civil service – I can’t say a career in the creative arts was encouraged! In fact, I had to fight to be able to study Art at A-level, as it clashed with the twice-weekly RE lesson – even then, I could only go ahead if I studied History Of Art as well, as Art alone wasn’t academic enough. I opted to do Psychology on an evening, as it was never an option at my school. I am sure the students will be a lot better behaved than we were…hopefully!

‘Holly’ is far better with public speaking than I am – perhaps it’s because being Holly is almost like an acting role? I hope that I am at least a little informative and entertaining, but fear that I will be like the lawyer who visited our school and was remembered only for his mis-pronunciation of the word ‘kebab’ as ‘kebob’…


As some of you may know, I have a huge interest in genealogy – I think it’s good to know where/who you came from. I was lucky enough to be able to track down the long-lost famiy of a close relation and it’s a fabulous feeling, being a catalyst in a family reunion. I happened to mention this to someone in my class, who had been fruitlessly searching for her half-brother for a long time. I love a challenge and decided to lend a hand.

As I type, I have narrowed down the search and have encountered a relative of the gentleman in question. His name is Peter Williams (am hoping this may come up in a search if my other efforts get no response). The good thing is, that he was also looking for his half-sister, Sylvia Williams, as was. However, I’m having to go through a ‘middle-man’ or rather a ‘middle-organisation’ and they don’t know how old the message on their site was – for all we know, the email address they have may now be defunct or go unchecked. So near yet so far. Then, I came across another site which would allow me to send a direct message (although this did cost a fiver – what price can you put on finding someone’s family. I don’t have much, but I don’t begrudge this). I now have two feelers out, but this last message was in 2002 – so many things can change in ten years, so I don’t want to get this lady’s hopes up. Don’t worry, she doesn’t read my blog.

This is one more avenue to look at. If ‘Ally’ does another search for Doris Owen Maddocks or Donald Edward Williams, let’s hope she ends up here and contacts me, and the story can have a happy ending. Keeping my fingers crossed and I’ll keep you posted. So frustrating to be so close…

A challenging month!

Our last creative writing assignment was to write something about a bad act, as either an ambivalent or an unsympathetic narrator. It was far more difficult than I anticipated and I found it really uncomfortable to write the piece. What I did notice was, as we all read our work out, that the females in the group had all written a male character as the evil lead. I wonder if this was our way of distancing ourselves from writing about bad deeds – no-one wants to be thought capable of such horrors as those our characters were committing. It made me wonder how horror writers are able to conjure up such images without giving themselves nightmares! It’s not a writing exercise I’d like to re-visit!

I’m not going to post the finished piece here, because it’s too long (not because it’s too creepy).

I haven’t been posting too much because things have been busy here (as you know, busy for me means I need to find the energy to do moer than one thing per week). Sadly, one of the events was a funeral, which (as anyone does) I find really upsetting and draining. There seems to be a lack of good news, from illness within the extended family to friends struggling to find jobs. However, we do have two social events this week, so I am trying to do very little in order to prepare for them – sadly, on Saturday, we’re having a goodbye lunch with friends who are emigrating soon. I don’t have many friends, so we will miss them a great deal – thank goodness for modern technology, which means we should be able to stay in touch!

Tomorrow is little puppy Ivy’s first birthday. All she wants is a Weetabix. You can read her adventures here:

Creative Writing: term 2

Yep, I’m behind the times again – I’m well in to term two of my creative writing class. We’ve lost two members and gained one, but it’s nice that almost everyone returned. Before half-term, we were asked to write something based on fruit, after being given the verse A Kumquat for John Keats to read. I’m not great at poetry (that’s both writing it and understanding it) so I found it quite difficult and felt I needed to apologise before reading it out! However, it was well-received (which was a lovely, and unexpected, surprise).

Here is my poem. It’s called Ugli By Name (though it was suggested it should be dedicated to Tony Harrison who wrote the poem it was based on):

Mother Nature, o true apothecary!
What wondrous flavours did you marry
in a grapefruit and a tangerine,
with flesh of orange and skin of green?
A pair of star-crossed Jamaican lovers
who met under sun-kissed earthen covers.

Shakespeare mused, “What’s in a name?” –
I find myself pondering upon the same:
the Ugli fruit is an exotic treat
which, by any other name, would taste as sweet.
Tangelo, I’ve shared a name with you,
for I was once called ugly, too.

I was surprised to find that ‘Ugli’ fruit is a tradename and that they are actually a tangelo – so yet again, I have learned more than just a writing technique. I also learned today that peaches grow in Canada!