Words: I’m not sure that counting words represents my productivity watch out for blog over at Louise Charles Carbs and Cals: A week in the UK, too much wine but very emotional. Trousers are loose. 🙂 Workout: Mowing the lawn, fence building and re-siting trees Reading: Shift by Hugh Howey Weather: Hot and sunny to foggy and thunderstorms *see pic Watched: Star Wars (at Stansted Airport)and Pan Word of the Week:Majuscule:adjective, large, as either capital or uncial letters International Day of the Week: April 13th is Bookmobile day
I had a week in the UK with my lovely Dad celebrating his 82nd birthday. Although he couldn’t participate he insisted on cake and champagne for everyone. Most of the family were there but we sadly missed, Sam, Toby and my lovely husband, Simon. I am blessed also with my wonderful son, Ben and his family who stayed with me all week.
As my flight back home to Italy was very early on Saturday morning I spent the Friday night at Stansted Airport. Although I wasn’t looking forward to it, it was quite interesting and lots of action for a serial people watcher to store for future use in my writing. It passed pretty quickly thought I did spend most of the weekend catching up on my sleep.
The garden beckons as Spring takes hold. The daisies in the garden though, I believe are very good for the bees so I was careful to leave some behind when mowing. Simon thinks I just missed them ;). And today we’ve been protecting our vegetable garden from animal pests: dogs and chickens. For some reason Freya thinks the onion patch is a place for her to chill out and Naughty Nell has been digging holes, chasing lizards in the peas! We like to let the chickens free roam but they also like the lovely worms from our compost. We’ve had some lovely warm weather and the stereotypical expat Brits are already talking about BBQ’s but I prefer to wait until summer has arrived properly and enjoy each season for it’s uniqueness. Contrary to popular belief, living abroad does not mean wall to wall sunshine, no matter what you wish!
Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth
The latest blog is up over at Louise Charles about creating a Story Bible to store all the information about my individual projects. It’s not quite the same as a paper system but our tiny house can’t take any more folders, so it’s a necessity. It also makes it more accessible from wherever I maybe as long as I have access to a computer. What’s not to like?
My latest WiP is skipping along nicely. Simon finished a read through and I went through his notes and will make the changes next week. Then on to the cover and blurb. Feeling good.
Words: 830 new words and edited 6 scenes (10k) Carbs and Cals: Malteser’s cracked open last night Workout: A morning in the garden, and plenty of walks Reading: The Crow’s Nest by Ann Cleeve :/ still but getting better Weather: After grey, wet start beautiful Spring sunshine this morning Watched: No films but loved Happy Valley Word of the Week:Wordmonger noun 1. a writer or speaker who uses words pretentiously or with careless disregard for meaning
Tomorrow is International Day of Happiness apparently. Are we only allowed one day? With this lovely Spring sunshine the smiles are bountiful today and we have enjoyed a morning in the garden with all the lovely new shoots, promises of life to come.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Ben Sweetland
Last week a large, very large, hare bounded out in front of the car, its ears were huge! Reminded me of the time we watched some boxing hares on a walk with our three Springer Spaniels – and yes, they really do box. It was fascinating.
This week has been a great week for my writing. On Monday I received an email to say that my short story, Mad Hattie will be published on Story Shack in May. Story Shack publish stories of up to 1000 words online but also include an illustration. Can’t wait to see what it will be for this story. I really enjoyed writing it and it all began with the Antiques Roadshow of all things!
Secondly, I published my first book under my imprint of White Wolf Books. The Morning Gift was a project I started some years back and it’s been a long time in the making. I received my copy
this week and I’m really chuffed with the cover which I designed myself. I really am enjoying the whole process of self publishing in its entirety and it gives me an enormous amount of satisfaction.
Next week, I return to the UK for my Dad’s 82nd birthday. He’s still not well and all of us (I have four siblings) are hoping to make it as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. It’s very supportive at these time,
being part of a big family. And on Monday I have my first Mrs Mop duty of the season. To supplement our very meagre income I clean holiday homes in between bookings. It’s a job that needs doing and it gives me plenty of thinking space as I wield my mop and duster!
Words: 1400 words but finished proofing and formatting current project :
Carbs and Cals:The scales must be wrong, I’ve definitely lost half an inch or so
Workout: It’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.
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!
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.
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.
Following 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.
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…
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.
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.
Health 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.
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?
*Write Chain Target (write, revise edit 3 pages a day): 13 links – not unlucky at all 😉
I’m back off to the UK on Saturday. Family matters and a Dad who is in need of a bit of support from his far flung family. Well, I’m the only one of five who lives in another country. I’m not a big fan of flying and particularly flying on my own but needs must. Living where we are, in rural Le Marche, the options for flights are very few especially out of season. I dislike the whole process and the older I get the more nervous I become. Thank goodness it’s only two hours or I think I might need therapy. However, I have made progress. Now I don’t mind a window seat and I actually will look out, if the weather is good. Not for long mind. Just a quick glance.
I’m hoping to keep on target with my writing goals, so the past couple of days I’ve squirrelled away at my action list. This action list is a perpetual list. I’m a bit of a list freak, just love them to bits. I wish I could feel as confident about editing as I do about making lists. I’ve been going through the edits from my session with my personal editor, Simon, my husband :), and he’s an apostrophe freak. Enough said. I don’t know why I struggle with them, I have no memorable problems with English in school, in fact it was one of the few qualifications I left with. But they seem to evade me now. But that’s no excuse, they have to be sorted. So time to go and battle with that pesky punctuation.
Simon, my husband and ‘ the man that does’ has been beta reading my latest Work in Progress. The Morning Gift was first born in 2009, maybe even before. I got such a shock when I found an email from a fellow writing friend telling me that the synopsis I’d given them was good and I should get on with revising it.
Some wise people say that you shouldn’t use your nearest and dearest as readers of your work. I say why not? The trouble is with any advice it’s only relative to the person providing it. So no, I’m not telling you the best thing YOU can do is ask your loved one to provide feedback on your work. For me it works. Simon is my trusted and harshest critic. He will tell me where it doesn’t work, where I’ve skipped like a few scenes and more than, and where I make glaring and embarrassing errors of judgement. He’s a reader first and foremost. And that matters. It’s the only qualification he needs to assess whether or not the story flows, cos he reads a lot of stories, probably in excess of 100 books a year.
We’ve just gone through half the manuscript with his observations and had a great laugh at some of the mistakes I made without realising. Most of them are anachronisms – this story is set in Saxon times and the days of the Norsemen. I shan’t share them here, not just yet but maybe one day. And we can all have a good laugh.
Learn to laugh at yourself . Life will be a lot funnier.
A week has passed into the New Year already. I’ve almost caught up after my unexpected trip back to the UK . I know I’ll need to go back over pretty soon so I really need to get ahead of myself. Felt a bit rough today following an afternoon of indulgence with friends who are leaving to travel for the next few months and a bit of a hangover from my lack of sleep last week.:)
One of the things I miss most here is a bath. The Italians don’t do baths. Not in these old houses anyway. They much prefer their showers and wet rooms. For me, there is nothing that can match topping up the hot water in the bath with my big toe, reading a book and slowly wrinkling into oblivion. Hmmm… just the thought of it makes me feel better.
*I was doing really well with my Write Chain Target of three pages (write, revise or edit) – 62 unbroken days! But it snapped when I had to go back to the UK. Never mind, I’m determined to keep on track and here is how I’m recording my progress. I did have a link of paper clips strung above my desk but the kitties thought it was purely for their fun and entertainment.
Finally, I’ve published a post on my author blog, Louise Charles, about my ambitious plans for 2016 and how I hope to keep on track.