Monday 28 February 2011

Finding Time to Write

I'm guest posting over at Nancy Hinchliffe's blog, Business and Creative Women's Blog, on finding the time to write.... 

First of all I have to say a huge thank you to Nancy for asking me to come along and write a guest post for her blog. I was extremely flattered when she asked. 

No sooner had she asked and I had agreed, than things started to go wrong. Nancy requested a personal type post, involving things such as my life, working, kids, mad female dogs with boy names and finding time to write and guess what? I let her down within the week simply because one of the other commitments got in the way of finding the time. Oh the irony. 

But what does that say about my organisational skills?

To read the rest of this post visit Nancy's blog..

Friday 25 February 2011

Crazy for Books Blog Hop

 The Crazy for Books blog hosts a weekly Friday blog hop where a question is set, you add your link and away you go, blog hopping and meeting new bloggers. 

Todays question is -  "Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?"

Strangely enough this is a question I have been asking myself over the past couple of weeks. When I first set up the blog I didn't have a real focus, I just wanted to blog about my life and see where it took me. It wasn't until October last year that I started seriously considering my writing and doing something about it. That has led me into reading an awful lot more and social networking with others that have shared interests. Now my blog is starting to settle and get comfortable I do wonder if I should consider changing it's name and have even thought about buying my own domain name. 

The answer I have currently come up with, is that I will wait another few months, see how things go and then consider it again. I feel that the blog will take about a year to settle into it's place, at which point I will then give this question further consideration and possibly act on that. I am wanting to change my header though and will look at that over the next couple of weeks. Until then, we are looking at life in clarity. Or trying to anyway.

What are your thoughts on naming your blog?

Thursday 24 February 2011

Guest Post - Writers Voice

Todays blog post is on writers voice and has been kindly provided by Nancy Hinchliffe. 

Nancy owns and operates a bed and breakfast in Louisville, Kentucky where she also blogs and writes on line at, Eye on Life Magazine, Pink magazine and Hub pages. You can find her blogging at Business and Creative Women's ForumInn NotesInn business  A Memorable Time of My Life, and Louisville Bed and Breakfast Association  In 2008, she co-authored Room at the Table, for The Bed and Breakfast Association of Kentucky for which she won their president's award for outstanding work. The coffee-table cookbook has recipes from Kentucky Inns throughout the state and beautiful photographs of scenic Kentucky taken by award winning photographer, Robin Goetz. She is currently working on a memoir titled Operatic Divas and Naked Irishmen: An Innkeeper's Tale, a humorous and poignant account of how an admittedly asocial retired school teacher reinvents herself as an Innkeeper. This intimate tale recounts 16 challenging years of self-discovery.

Thank you Nancy for providing this post, it is much appreciated. Over to you...

Getting Back to Business

...the business of writing, that is. For the past two or three months, my memoir has been sitting on an obscure corner of my desk upstairs in my office...out of sight...out of reach...out of mind. I haven't gone near it. What I have been doing is trying to figure out what in the world is wrong with it. Why do I only like Chapter 8 and Chapter 12?

I have three fourths of the book complete. And now I see that I have to do a major re-write on it. Why? Well, I finally figured it out. I can't hear my least I can't hear it all the time. It comes through in different places, like in Chapter 8 and Chapter 12, but it does not infuse the entire book. And that really bothers me.
So, what to do about it? Well, I finally retrieved my manuscript from my desk on the third floor...that's a start. Then I divided it into four sections. Each section has around four chapters. Now, what I am doing is re-writing every day for a set amount of time. I am going chapter by chapter, sticking with it until I have it the way I want it...looking for my authentic voice and planting it on the pages one sentence at a time.

Just what is writer's voice anyhow and how do you find your own? According toWikipedia,“Writer’s voice is a literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author. Voice is a combination of a writer’s use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works). Voice can also be referred to as the specific fingerprint of an author, as every author has a different writing style.In creative writing, students are often encouraged to experiment with different literary styles and techniques in order to help them better develop their “voice.” Voice varies with the individual author, but, particularly in American culture, having a strong voice is considered positive and beneficial to both the writer and his or her audience.”

Finding your writer’s voice may be compared to expressing your personality in real life. It's that authentic way of thinking, speaking and telling that each one of us has. “Confident writers have the courage to speak plainly; to let their thoughts shine rather than their vocabulary.” says Ralph Keyes, author of The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear I strongly believe that one way one can find their true voice is through blogging on a regular basis. When I first started blogging a few years ago, I focused mainly on the content of what I was writing and was not too concerned about the way in which it was presented, as long as the grammar and punctuation was correct. I was not really writing to connect with my readers.

In the Elements of StyleStrunk tells us that style is an expression of self, and [writers] should turn resolutely away from all devices that are popularly believed to indicate style – all mannerisms, tricks, and adornments,” I believe that if one continues to blog, your voice will eventually be freed. “As you become proficient in the use of language, your style will emerge,” writes Strunk “because you yourself will emerge…” And, the more comfortable you are with the rules for good writing, the more your writer’s voice will shine.

I have found this to be so true. And, it wasn't until I felt my true voice starting to come true that I even entertained the idea of writing a memoir. I wanted that memoir to be an expression of "me". But somewhere along the line, in trying to complete my work, I lapsed into my old ways of focusing on the content, not on my reader. And that's what I'm trying to get back.

Now, I am working that out, chapter by chapter. I am reading my writing aloud to see if it really sounds like me. This is very helpful, by the way. I had already stopped comparing my writing to other writers. Comparing how you write or your writer’s voice to other writers is destructive and suffocating. So, my motto is: admire other writers’ styles but nurture your own. And focus on ways to improve your confidence as a writer.

*A final tip: try picturing one specific reader — one that you're not trying to impress – and just communicate with her.

Monday 21 February 2011

Book Review - Storm's Heart

Storms Heart is a contemporary romance with a dark brooding centre. When Greek lawyer Andreas Lazarides and bistro-manager Kizzy Dean clash over the executing of his mothers final wishes, Kizzys turbulent past kicks up a storm in Andreas's heart that rages until his own explosive secrets are revealed. 

Andreas lazarides, a wealthy gorgeous Greek whisks Kizzy Dean off to Greece under the guise of writing up a contract to secure her silence on the sale of her place of employment. 

There is an instantaneous sizzle between Andreas and Kizzy as they meet, which continues and is realised in the beauty of Rhodes. Conflicting emotions and misunderstandings threaten their relationship and you are drawn into the will they wont they scenario. 

Though I become slightly confused as to the reason Andreas is so adamant to protect the feelings of the people he buys a failing business from, Greek heat, brooding good looks and some sizzling scenes make this a great girly read. Watch you don't burn your fingers in chapter 6 though where an 18 rating is advisable! 

It has the definite feel of a contemporary Mills and Boon. So if you want a book full of emotion and steam whilst sitting with a box of chocolates and your drink of choice, then this is for you. 

The book is the debut novel of Rachel Lyndhurst and you will find a Storms Heart book competition over on her blog, Rachel Lyndhurst.

Friday 18 February 2011

This is my Today

I ummed and ahhed about whether I was going to post this blog post today or if I was even going to write it. You see I thought it would be a bit too depressing for my blog, but then considered that it's part of my life and quite a significant part at the minute, so here it is.

Ive been really quite angry today. This has made me quiet with my children and withdrawn. I don't want to hurt anyone when I'm hurting.

It's the pain. Not just the pain, the exhaustion is pretty upsetting to be honest. The pain has been in my chest today. Round my left collar bone area. I'm tired and I'm hurting and I have an appointment in just over a week with the rheumatologist. A man who barely paid me any attention when I first went, yet managed to diagnose me with fibromyalgia. Now he's looking at me for ehlers danios syndrome at the request of my gp. This appointment is now playing on my mind

Will he pay any more attention than he did last time, will he even look up from his note pad to even see what I look like?

Will he listen to all the things I have to say or ask me the simple questions? Am I hypermobile and do I have pain? Yes to both, but eds comes with more and I have more to say. Yet I feel that I have to talk at a rate of knots just to say what I want to say before he looks up and sends me out the door.

If this eds I want to know. I want to know for me and I want to know for my son.

I don't want to be fobbed off anymore. But what if he doesn't fob me off. What if he says yes, it's EDS. I have my answer. Will I then give in to it? Use it as an excuse or will I be able to then get up and fight it and live my life? What will happen to my career?

I don't want this, but I don't want him to say its not either. If he says it's not he won't provide me with alternative answers. He will look at his notebook and say goodbye. Last time he gave me a leaflet and told me to look it up on the Internet!

Today I am tired of being tired. Sick of the sick. Its making me angry and frustrated. I don't enjoy feeling this way and I know others don't want to see me this way or read this and this makes me even more frustrated.

This is my today. Hopefully tomorrow will be better

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Bernard Pivot Blogfest

Today I'm taking part in Nicole Ducleroir's Bernard Pivot Blogfest. Here are my answers to ten questions.

What is your favorite word?  Serendipity. I love the way it sounds when you say it and the dictionary definition matches it lovely sound;  an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

What is your least favorite word? I can't even type it on here. It's a nasty nasty word. 

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally. Open spaces. Beautiful sights of the planet and quietness. 

What turns you off?  Hate. It's a negative emotion that benefits no-one, and hurts the person carrying it. 

What is your favorite curse word?  Crap. Having children, I have to think about what I'm saying and if I am going to accidentally swear in front of them (for instance at the point of injury) I want it to be pretty low key. 

What sound or noise do you love?  My children laughing. It can cure all. 

What sound or noise do you hate?  The sound of fairgrounds - people screaming and jangling bells. 

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Volcanologist. I would love to go and work in an active volcano. I think the planet is an amazing place. 

What profession would you not like to do?  Accountant. I'm not a numbers person and sitting shuffling numbers all day would bore me to tears and give me a headache!

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  Your loved ones that are already here are in that direction. 

Visit Nicole's blog to see fellow bloggers responses.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

The Day after Valentines

Ok, so yesterday I made a post saying how love isn't a one day affair and that romance is something you should show your loved one regularly. I also said how I feel that it's too commercial. Advertised to make money. Well, how did I do on valentines?

My husband and I agreed that it's commercialism only and we weren't partaking. So much so that I went out for something to eat with a friend after work. 

On the way home however, I got to wondering if hubby would buy me something and if he did, how bad I'd feel for not getting him anything. I knew we'd agreed not to, but I also know he likes to spoil me. So with those concerns I stopped at the local petrol station and picked up a Thornton chocolate teddy bear. 

I arrived home and duly handed over chocolate ted. Hubbys words "I didn't get you anything and now I feel guilty" which then served to make me feel guilty for breaking our agreement. 

I kind if just proved all the points I made yesterday didn't I? 

Did you manage to get through the day unscathed? 

Monday 14 February 2011

The Valentines Post

I know, I know, there are valentines posts all over the blogosphere. Happy, slushy, romantic noises of love. I don't want to be a part of the herd but it's valentines day and it's a blog post must. I will take a different slant on the day though. 

I don't want to know what wonderful romantic things you are doing today, or what stunningly sentimental acts of love have been put to you. I'm going to ask for your honest thoughts on this seemingly growing "holiday" (even though we don't get a holiday)

From my point of view, a commercial day only. 

I know valentines has its history seeped in romantic secrecy. A religious man (Valentine) marrying people in secret but now it appears to have a whole new concept.

Its a day where the main benifitters are the card companies, flower sellers and eateries. We are told that we must show our partners how much we love them or risk being labelled unromantic. 

As well as the unromantic label, valentines day can be hurtful to those without a partner at that point I time. It can reinforce the self negativity people carry with them. Lack of cards, declaration of love or candle lit home made meals does not mean you are unworthy or unlovable, it means you are either in a solid loving relationship that doesn't need to be dictated to about you show your affection, or at this point in time, you don't have a partner but should be loving yourself. Love yourself and it makes it so much easier for others to love you. 

I don't need a commercial day to tell my husband that he should do something "nice" for me. I expect his continued love and support all year as he expects from me. If people think showing love is a once a year thing, you're in for a long slow year between dates. 

So even though valentines day does has it's own start somewhere back in history, today is little more than a commercial gimmick. 

Yes the majority of holidays now are commercial gimmicks, but not ones that drive sensible grown adults crying into their frappachino cups. 

Let's accept for what it is. A gimmicky day. Enjoy it if it's something you do, but also give someone special something extra tomorrow. A thoughtful cup of tea in bed before their alarm goes off or a foot rub at the end of a busy day. Love is for life, not just a day. 

Saturday 12 February 2011

Interview with Author D.J.Kirkby

Todays post is a question and answer session with published author D.J.Kirkby. Denyse wrote Without Alice, a brilliant book about Stephen, a man with a secret, a man “who you will love to hate until you learn to love him.”  When I read Without Alice I loved the feeling of real emotion and the complexity of intertwined lives so I asked Denyse if she wouldn't mind popping over to Life in Clarity to answer a few questions about her writers journey. She very kindly obliged.

Firstly Denyse, I want to thank you for taking the time to come over to Life in Clarity to answer a few questions. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this.

How did the idea for Without Alice come about?

The concept for Without Alice came about during my years of clinical practice as a midwife. As a midwife you are witness to some of the very worst and best of human interaction and relationships. Once in a while relationships I had observed would stick in my head making me wonder how different their relationship might have been if their circumstances had changed or they had communicated with each other better or differently. I began playing around with these scenarios and from that time Without Alice began to take shape.

I love watching people interact, it always amazes me how completely different everyone is. When you started putting these thoughts down was it the first time you had written or is it something you've always done?

I've written since I could string enough words together to form a coherent sentence :) I love writing, it is my way of making sense of the world and one of the ways I clear my mind.

How did Without Alice go from your written version to published book?

WA went to BubbleCow for a professional edit before I subbed it to my publisher because I am dyslexic and I wanted to make sure it was in the best shape possible so I didn't embarrass myself. It worked and my publisher offered me a contract at last year's London Book Fair. He then did an edit of WA too. By the time it was ready for publication I was sick of the sight of it though by the time it was on general release I had fallen in love with it all over again.

How exciting was it to see your book in print?

It was very nice, it looked pretty, and I felt very proud of it. I still do!

Can I ask what you are currently working on?

I am currently working on my next novel – Love and Other Lies and there is an excerpt from it on my blog: I am also writing a non-fiction book called Butterfly Babies – Modern midwifery is more than just a delivery service and the excerpt is here: Butterfly Babies.

And where can Life in Clarity readers get hold of a copy of Without Alice?

Without Alice can be ordered from any bookstore as well as any online bookshop. Paper copies cost around £6.99 but Amazon has digital copies for sale for £0.86 and $1.36 which can be read on Kindle, iPods, PC’s and many other systems.

All that is left to say, is thank you so much for talking to me about this and to wish you all the best with your current venture. I can't wait to read it!

Thank you for interviewing me on your blog, and for being such great company on twitter!

For anyone wanting to follow Denyse, you can find her on Twitter and on the Without Alice Facebook page.

Friday 11 February 2011

Bobbies Surgery

This morning I left Bob at the vets for her surgery. She was to have the lump removed from under her ear and while she was under the anesthetic she was to be spayed.

She hates the vets as it is. There's no real reason for this, she's been a pretty healthy dog. This morning when I handed over the lead to the nurse, her poor little face said it all.

"Where are you going?" 

"Why are you leaving me?"

"Don't leave me!"

I collected her this afternoon. She shuffled to her bed and lay down and closed her eyes and she hasn't opened them since. I know she sleeping the anesthetic off and I know she's going to feel sore when she finally wakes up. Now we just have to wait for the results of tests on the removed lump. I'm still using positive thinking and will not worry until I'm told otherwise.

I leave you with the sleeping Bob.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Work Experience for teenagers

My eldest, the teenager, started work experience this week. She couldn't get her first choice which was a laboratory so the only option left by the time she found out, was a hairdressers. This amused me greatly. Not because I have anything against hairdressers, far from it in fact. My hairdresser is fab.

 I thought it was amusing because she often asks why her Dad and I are tired after work and doesn't understand, working, running a house and looking after kids is tiring. Now I knew she would be on her feet at the hairdressers all day long and not being used to it, she would be shattered. Low and behold she was in bed at 630pm last night! Boy did I chuckle at her, much to her disdain. 

She is enjoying it but it's not what she wants to do and she prefers school so hopefully she will stay on for A levels now she's found out working life isn't easy. 

Score one for mum!

How have your family members done exactly as you expected, even when they thought they wouldn't?

Monday 7 February 2011

Twitter - Connection or Privacy?

I think twitter is brilliant. I'm am an out and out fan. As I've probably said on here on several occasions It's connected me to lots of people I would never have otherwise met. Fellow writers, slimming worlders, open university students and just some genuinely lovely people. 

It has also created a world where celebrities, be they minor league or A list, feel that little bit closer to us and more human, more real. Some even use twitter to converse with us ordinary folk. I must say, just because it excited me so much, that Dave Vitty of Chris Moyles radio show and Dancing on Ice fame, replied to my tweets twice on Sunday. Twitter makes the world smaller, turns the celebs into real people rather than untouchable people we just see on the tv and a bit if fun is had, as well as issues shared. 

Some celebs however, tend to go a little over the top on twitter. Giving us high dramas told in real time. These outbursts make me smile. It's the Internet. The press are watching with their beady eyes just waiting for that slip, and they do invariably come, because those celebs, well, they really are people. 

Do we come to expect people to share their issues in public though? We love it and we soak it in. If we didn't the press wouldn't be as determined as they can be to get stories. Do the celebs who tweet feel they owe us their honesty once they start?

I'm only asking this after reading in one of the national papers, outpourings of support for Amanda Holden and her family after the loss of their baby boy. One of the things I noticed was half the quotes of support were from twitter feeds and now I raise the question, is this appropriate? 

If the celebs offering support know Amanda then surely a text, a card, some flowers would be more appropriate and more personal at such a time? I tweeted that it was a terrible loss, but I don't know her and I didn't send it to her. It's very personal. 

Are the celebs who tweeted sympathy also doing the private card/flower buying thing, but feeling pressured to show they care in such a public inane way as twitter because this is the world we are now entering. If they don't tweet her their sympathy then it looks as though they don't care because we can't see it?!

Are we taking it too far and expecting too much or is it right that the very painful loss of a child, be shared like it belongs to all? 

Saturday 5 February 2011


I got this award from Denyse and must now tell you seven things about myself before passing it on to seven other versatile bloggers.

Seven things about me. 

Thing one.
At 17 I did a tandem skydive for charity (and loved it!)

Thing two.
I was born in Gibralter

Thing three.
I have never broken a bone in my body of which I'm immensely pleased. 

Thing four.
Rebecca Bradley is a pen name

Thing five
I can touch the floor with the palms of my hands whilst standing straight. 

Thing six
I have an active bucket list which I fully intend on trying to complete, with the majority of items being places in the world I want to visit. 

Thing seven
I still possess my first teddy which is a penguin with a chewed off nose and is now looking extremely threadbare. 

I would now like to nominate and pass this on to ; Nickie; Crystal Jigsaw; Fiddlesticks; PippaDEffie MerrylLily; and Sardine Tin

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Frustration with the NHS

As some of you may be aware, for nearly a year I have been going through a potential diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome for my youngest. It was officially first diagnosed in April last year, but previous to that other consultants had mentioned his problems could be a collagen issue, which is what EDS is. We saw a "specialist" who didn't feel he fitted into the EDS box, but in my eyes it was because his symptoms weren't extreme. She said, "it's either mild EDS or he's a little more flexible than other kids" mmm. She mentioned however that she would talk to a German Dr who was doing research on children with capillary fragility which my son has.

Yesterday I received a call from the genetic counsellor saying that the German Dr didn't know why he leaked blood and that's the end of that. They will follow him up in the summer.

Before he was "diagnosed" I had been complaining of joint pain to my GP. Last year I was diagnosed by a rheumatologist with fibromyalgia. I told my GP that this was a huge coincidence considering the issues with my son. He agreed and wrote to the rheumatologist and I have another appointment at the end of the month, I'm presuming to be assessed for EDS.

Last night I was woken up by pain in my shoulder. It felt as though my arm wasn't quite screwed in right, so I wriggled it around until it was. Today I've felt physically fragile. Joints hurting and feeling as though they will misalign at any point.

I'm frustrated waiting for this appointment. I'm frustrated that these issues aren't being picked up. I'm frustrated that I have to push professional Doctors to actually look at a patient when they walk through the door rather than start writing the minute they walk in and do half an assessment so that they can get you out and get the next patient in. What's the point in getting through patients if you aren't offering them any service whatsoever?  

So all in all, today I am frustrated.