A Mixed Bag

Words: 2000 words and muse submitted to Writers Abroad, Yay! Lots of research.    image
Carbs and Cals: I’ve lost 3kgs! About 61bs… encouraging
Workout: A walk at Monastero see later
Reading: The Crow’s Nest by Ann Cleeve :/
Weather: Wet and grey, reminds me of the UK 🙁 Grass is growing long!
Watched: The Martian 🙂 and The Danish Girl :'(  – hedonistic for us.
k: ISONOMY noun 1. equality of political rights. Origin – Isonomy derives from the Greek terms ísos meaning “equal” and nómos meaning “law.” It entered English around 1600.

My mum would have been 80 this week, had she lived. But she’s better off now, Alzheimer’s robbed her long before she died. On a more uplifting note, our two granddaughters celebrated their birthdays on the 8th. International Women’s day and we’re convinced one day they will honour that title. Can’t believe my little Caitlin is now eleven and has her own phone no less. Still I can text her when I want to now. I do still write a proper letter every month, but this isn’t her preferred form of communication. A little sad really.

Here’s to Good Women May we know them, May we be them, May we Raise them.

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Monastero Walk Washed Away

Every year we promise ourselves a day a month to go for a ‘big’ walk. That means going out in the car and doing one of the few guided walks in our area. There is nothing like the IOS maps we had in the UK and loved to explore with our Springer’s. Still can’t have everything. Monastero is a lovely, but tough walk, near the Sibillini mountains. One path takes you to a monks retreat high in the mountains, well not that high but you feel your calves pulling. I’ve actually used part of this walk for the setting in my fantasy novel, Wolf Moon. However, this time we decided to take the second path , along the river. We’d walked about two thirds when the path ran out. It had been washed away. Big problems with landslides around her. So we had an early lunch of soup and sandwich and made our way back up and up and up to the car. Naughty Nell loved it and ran after smells about three times, disappearing for what worryingly. seemed like an age.

neil gaiman rules of writing
Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing

A little tired of writing advice. I’ve come to the conclusion there is no right or wrong way. And I’m deleting my subscriptions to any newsletters or emails which use the words ‘awesome’ or ‘rock your boat’ (or words to that effect). Watch your language, it comes across as very flippant and so not what I want to hear. Neil Gaiman’s Rules of Writing made me smile and are now pinned on my cork board. I’ve finalised digital and print copies of The Morning Gift after a few irritating problems with embedding fonts, but soon sorted. Chuffed I’m ahead of the game and have now started on my next project, All Will Be Well. Found a fantastic timeline template which has really helped me ground my story and get the facts right, it’s set in World War Two and I don’t want a load of history bods telling me I got things wrong. But I will take a little bit of ‘artistic licence’ in some areas. I write fiction after all.

And of course, the Rugby Six Nations continues this afternoon.We support three teams, Simon was brought up in Ireland and learnt to play rugby there so we always cheer on the greens. Then of course our home team, England and finally our adoptive fellas in Italy. So the odds of winning are pretty high one way or another. It’s the only sport I enjoy watching, apart from the Wimbledon finals.

Ciao for Now

Farewell Feline Freind

  • Words: 1400 words but finished proofing and formatting current project :image
  • Carbs and Cals: The scales must be wrong, I’ve definitely lost half an inch or so
  • WorkoutIt’s that garden time of the year again… 
  • On My Beside Table: Lamentation by C J Sansom  & Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Woods
  • Weather: Very variable, cold but no snow
  • Word of the Week:  BISSEXTUS -noun February 29th: the extra day added to the Julian calendar every fourth year (except those evenly divisible by 400) to compensate for the approximately six hours a year by which the common year of 365 days falls short of the solar year.

Found poor Tigsy dead on the step earlier this week. She’d been alright the day before. Never a demanding cat and so quiet that we named her ‘Ghost’. One of  the first of fourteen (probably more) rescue kitties since we moved here. And not that old either. Couldn’t see any sign of injury or anything. I shall miss her just being there. Now buried in the garden where I shall sprinkle some wild flowers in the Spring.

Simon’s blood sugars just keep reducing. Got an ‘ottimo‘ from the doctor at the Diabetic clinic – hurrah! Though I though she might have done a little dance or showed a bit more emotion. His need for insulin is reducing day by day and I’m convinced we can wean him off it and wonder whether he should have ever been on it! Our favourite new food is Cauliflower Rice – fantastic substitute for rice without much less carbs and cals.

Had a great week at the ‘office’ and probably managed to get more done this week than in the last three or four! On the production stage of The Morning Gift, so proofed, formatted and uploaded to Createspace and just waiting approval. Having a few minor problems formatting for KDP ebook because of a fancy font I’ve used for scene separators but will find a way round. Running 5 days late on my planned publication date and almost there. That’s not a bad result, can live with that.

Started a new Morning Journal this morning, that’s my fourth..and one hell of a lot of words and angst. It’s one of the best things I’ve started – well re-started – it really helps my writing. And I did 900 words this morning to a writing prompt:

She gripped the rim of the porcelain sink and tried to steady her hands. “One last time,” she whispered to herself. One. Last. Time.

Intriguing, huh?

And the onions are now planted. All 100 of them. Let’s hope I can keep Freya off them. Daft dog, the size of a donkey and likes to like amongst our eating vegetation. A day in the garden is good for my muse, weeding the herb patch gave me plenty of head space for my next project!

Ciao

Birthdays, Beach and Blood Sugars

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  • Words: Finished the micro edit on Monday with a massive 11,998 words 🙂 Now just a last proof and ready to hit publish!
  • Carbs and Cals: Still maintaining the 5:2, the results on Si’s blood sugar continues to astound
  • Workout: Most days out with Nell and a morning in the garden, helping…not
  • Bedside Table: Just finished Desecration by JF Penn. Wow.

Spent the morning in the garden this morning preparing the orto (vegetable patch) for potatoes and onions. Lots of lovely wormy compost now being dug in by the chickens. Have to keep Nell away as she keeps nicking the stuff they pick up! Little muppet. Also pruned our huge Persimmon tree, which is beautiful but we hate the fruit (known also as Sharon fruit). Chicks and Nell don’t mind it though.

Naughty Nell
Naughty Nell

Had a weekend off last week, well it was my birthday. It’s the only time of the year i remember how old I am!  Had a lovely walk along the coast at Porto San Giorgio. A stunning sunny, blue-sky day but a mean cold breeze. Simon spoilt me rotten and cooked  a lovely Beef Stroganoff for supper and no rugby!  Bit of a change this weekend. Had a movie date last night as our Spectre (James Bond) DVD arrived. Fire lit at 4pm, animals fed and watered and a large bowl of popcorn completed the set up. Fantastic movie. My dream job would be a Bond Girl. 😉

Much as we love our animals they can be a pain at times. Having three dogs, six cats and three chickens does not make on the spur decisions very easy.  Carol and Phil (friends who inspired partly The Good Expat Life) have booked a week in Venice during mid April and have asked us to join them for a couple of nights. It would be sooo lovely to go and catch up with them. They’re the kind of friends who you may not see for months or years but when you do get together you just pick up where you left off.

Good friends are like stars…You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.

The technical problems persist with yet another bucketful of hours spent online with several Microsoft technicians. And after all that, the problems persist. And would you believe it you can’t email Microsoft Customer Service to complain? I wonder why…

Hoping next week will be more productive, I’m gagging to write some new stuff so am going to pencil in a couple of sessions.

Perseverance Persists

imageFollowing all the bugs (not health related but technical) I wondered if I’d ever catch up on catching up! Had a marathon session today, editing almost 10,000 words! Easy when you get your head down and ignore everything else, but to be honest mainly down to my wonderful husband, Simon.

 

Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.
Julie Andrews

Word Count Total:  A whopping 35,658 – in five days. Not bad going, I definitely picked up speed as the week went on. The temptation is to keep meddling so I’ve tried to focus on the micro edit I planned rather than tweak again. I’m not sure I’ll ever be happy. Good enough will have to do.

Carbs and Cals: Thank goodness it’s Friday! Time for treats and nibbles after a week of denial. It’s paying off though; Simon has started to reduce his insulin and I’ve lost half an inch around my waist. So moving forwards.

Activity and Stuff: Today I flunked on the walk. Naughty Nell has been out with Simon in the garden, and has ran herself ragged. She’s in bad books though, after digging up the mole hills and making a hell of a mess. Off for a walk on the beach tomorrow. And a day off from editing.

And spoke with my father on the phone we’ve had installed in his room. Having a quick chat has made my day…

Ciao x

Dear Diary… Technical Hitches Persist

imageOh, yes they do. Since the Microsoft ‘doctors’ fixed my laptop virus I’ve been unable to get onto one site I use regularly. Apparently the ‘DNS server has been blocked’. Don’t even know what my DNS looks like but after another few hours wasted on Googling the problem, it looks like I’ve fixed it… famous last words.  Thank goodness for my Morning Pages, I work out all sorts of problems as I scribble along. I think pen and paper is less dangerous than these damn machines which appear to have a mind of their own. Now there’s a story!

  • Word Count Total : To date this week, 19178, I was hoping for at least 25,000 but it will have to suffice.
  • Carbs and Calories: Doing well, and Simon’s blood sugars have reduced dramatically! We need to reduce his insulin which has got to be a good thing. Hurrah!
  • Activity (and the like): Despite the wet weather I’ve been out with Naughty Nell on our regular walk. According to my pedometer app, yesterday I walked 3000 and odd steps. The same route today only yielded 2400… hmm, another technical glitch?

Technology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.

Carrie Snow
Ciao,

 

 

Dear Diary…

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  • Word Count Target – 4000 and counting. Phew! My laptop is now healthy and bright and I’ve managed to edit 4000 words today. I’m about half way through the micro edit on The Morning Gift. Seriously considering buying a Mac with some of my pennies for a rainy day fund… although there are competing forces for its use
  • Calorie and Carbohydrate Intake– yep, doing a lot of counting at the moment and after a very indulgent weekend – stress relief for coping with the laptop and its ‘illness – trying to be good for the week. But a glass of red wine is beckoning, don’t I deserve a treat?
  • Activity – after getting out most days for a dalliance with Naughty Nell (that’s around two and half thousand steps) today has been a washout. And no rainy day fund is going to change that. It’s been raining constantly since we woke and the grey skies have persisted. So will need to go up and down the stairs a few times to compensate, perhaps.

Trojans and Bugs

I’ve spent the last week fighting off a bug. But I haven’t had a head full of cold, or a runny nose, in fact not even a sneeze. There is no doubt, however that I have been attacked by a virus, or rather my laptop has. Last Tuesday, Simon opened an email (which looked very official) from our electricity provider. It was our monthly statement. Simon sat in a state of shock at the amount due, four times as much as we usually use. An attachment, parading as a PDF and promising us all the information wouldn’t open. We ran around like headless chickens, trying to work out how we could have used 400 Euros worth more electricity than last month. Bottom line is we didn’t. On closer inspection it was a spam email, not from Enel at all but using everything that we were familiar with. Since then our laptop has been held to ‘ransom’. And that’s no joke. It was a Trojan. Whatever one of them is. Even though we haven’t been asked to pay anything, Windows Defender kept throwing up notifications, that the laptop was as serious risk. Written in blood red.bug

Anyway, to cut a long story short and much hair pulling, I spent 10 hours last night(yes, ten, plus five hours on Friday evening) on-line with a Microsoft technician trying to purge my poorly laptop of the disease.  I finally got to bed at 3am this morning and 119 Euro’s poorer still not knowing if the machine would live or die. It was a terminal situation and another full body scan was needed…there was nothing more I could do. 🙁

And this morning, after a fretful sleep, my laptop is free of the virus and no more nasty notifications… I on the other hand feel as though I’m coming down with something. Atishoo!

Ciao x

Giving Up?

Yesterday, according to the media, was the beginning of Lent. Time to give something up for 40 odd days after which we can all go back to doing whatever it was before Ash Wednesday. Well, I started early. I didn’t have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. In all honesty I forgot and I do love a pancake. More so the savoury ones filled with spinach and ricotta. I make them myself and, without blowing my own trumpet, they’re pretty special. So that’s one sacrifice made, I can sit back and relax. I don’t observe any of the religious calendar to be fair. I’m not a believer but I respect other believers. I prefer the concept of Humanism, that human beings shape their own lives. Simon and I chose a Humanist blessing when we ‘tied the knot’. It was a wonderful experience, we wrote our own service, made readings and exchanged candles. Our friends and family still talk about it now. And I’ve been to three Humanist funerals which have been quite uplifting despite the sad goodbyes.

Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.

Mahatma Gandhi

 

In addition I’m going to cull a few of the e-mails and blogs I’ve signed up to. I don’t get buckets of mail but I’m a bit of a push over when it comes to newsletters and posts about writing. I find myself skimming over them, saving them to Pocket (and then forgetting about them) or deleting them before I’ve even opened them. A bit scary, because what if I miss ‘the next big thing’ about writing? I guess I’ll hear about it somewhere but I don’t need any more distractions right now. So a bit of a clean up is in order, ahem, just procrastination in any other name.

Ciao,

Write or Wrong: Taking Advice

lucy-advice-boothHealth is very much on my mind at the moment. The past four years have catalogued a number of health issues, mum, dad, Simon and myself. I’m a little weary of the ill health cloud that follows me around so have been looking at taking some changes to our diet. Simon’s blood pressure is misbehaving and with his familial history we can’t take any chances. I’ve never followed a ‘diet’ in my life. I’ve skipped meals often not eating until dinner when I was younger and dependant on tobacco. I’ve looked at several sources of advice, many of them extreme – for example cutting calories to 800 per day. Take a look at what you eat. That’s not a lot of calories, despite what the advice says. One of the issues I have is that we already have a fairly well balanced diet. Living with a diabetic means we have to watch the carb intake . And I’m not a believer in becoming obsessive with what we eat, all things in moderation is my mantra. So we’ll be cutting down on the starchy foods , mainly bread and reducing our red wine intake (a little) and of course lots of exercise with naughty Nell.

You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.

John Steinbeck

Advice is widely available on the writing front. Yesterday I got myself in a bit of a pickle with the micro edits on my next project, due to be published at the end of the month. Again, the obsessiveness got in the way and I began to sense I was losing the essence of the story. It didn’t feel good and I almost gave up. A couple of words were giving me (well the editing check list I use) a problem but it didn’t seem right to remove it. However, ten minutes of chatting to Simon (who is helping with the edits) helped. He was talking as a reader and that he preferred the words to flow. The things that annoyed him in a book (not mine of course!) was where the words jarred or didn’t keep him interested. Something that pulled him up and out of the story. An ‘aha’ moment that I shall keep in mind. Today I’m going to sort out the basics, listen to the story and make sure it flows.

Advice is great, as long as it helps and you can maintain it. As a new writer it can be equally helpful as overwhelming. As my Grandma use to say ‘everything with a pinch of salt.’ But that’s not good for the diet either, is it?

Ciao x

Family Matters

It’s been a tough couple of weeks. Not particularly for writing, though that has taken a nudge to the side. My dad’s been seriously ill and I’ve been back to the UK helping out with my other four brothers and sisters. We’ve had to make some tough decisions and at times I just wanted to bury my head in the sand and hope it would all go away. But it hasn’t of course. As an ex-nurse I’m familiar with illness. A bit different when it’s a member of your own family, mind you. I’m fine looking after someone else’s brother, sister, son, daughter, mum, or dad. I loved nursing, it was in the ‘genes’ as they say. My grandmother and mother were both well respected nurses in their day. I followed my mother into District Nursing in Cheshire where we lived and could never live up her reputation; Sister Lamb never did it that way…’ was the usual retort. Nursing and caring is one of the toughest jobs on the planet and I believe it’s a vocation. But I shan’t get on my soap box. Not now anyway, maybe another time.

Anyway, what struck me during this time (and when my mother was ill) is the importance of family. All five us have forged a different path in life and that means many of us don’t live close to dad. And of course at times there is a little friction for one reason or another, that’s how families ‘run’. However, when it mattered most, we all pulled together . And my wonderful, generous son who lives and works in the South West, gave up his weekend, a week of work (he’s self employed) and the company of his lovely family to come and support me. My husband, Simon who’d stayed behind to look after our menagerie of animals even spent his birthday on his own, the first ever since we’ve been together. Watching him open cards over Skype just simply wasn’t  the same.  But family matters.

And now I’m back home,  it’s nose to the grindstone. I’ve made a mental note to think more about the families of my characters and how it has shaped them particularly in the story they are telling. And, I have a deadline to meet, a book to publish at the end of this month and I’m running a little behind 😉

Ciao