Spring has Sprung?

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Early one Morning!

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. ūüôā
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.

Ciao

March Madness

Words: 830 new words and edited 6 scenes (10k)image
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.

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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!¬†IMG_1097

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!

Ciao for Now

 

 

Birthdays, Beach and Blood Sugars

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  • Words: Finished the micro edit on Monday with a massive 11,998 words ūüôā 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. ūüėČ

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,

 

 

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 ūüėČ

Ciao

Fear of Flying (and apostrophes)

*Write Chain Target (write, revise edit 3 pages a day): 13 links – not unlucky at all ūüėČ

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.

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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.

Ciao

 

Journal: Day 11

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  • Morning Pages: Day 114
  • Write Chain Target: Day 11 of 2016

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.

Ciao

 

 

Journal: Day 8

  • Morning Pages: Day 111
  • Write Chain Target: Day 8 of 2016*¬†

    Time Flies
    Time Flies

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.

IMG_1022*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.

Ciao