Wednesday 31 August 2011

Living With The Spoon Theory

I'm starting to understand the spoon theory. The theory created by one girl trying to describe to a friend how she only has limited reserves of energy a day as she lives with a life long medical condition. Full details can be found here.

I knew I was feeling more fatigued this past year but this week it's actually dawning on me how it works, in practical terms for me living with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.

Today I did an nine hour shift at work. There was an hours drive each side of that, so I was out the house eleven hours. When I got in I wanted to head straight into my home office before sitting down and getting too comfortable, and do some work on my WIP. Tea had been sorted by my wonderful other half. But my little man had come in upset after a disagreement with his friends and he wanted to watch a film with me we had recorded last week.

That's where the spoon theory and choice came in. I didn't have enough spoons (energy) to watch the film and spend quality snuggle time with little man, and then get up and do some work. I chose the main priority. Little man. There are plenty of days he plays out and doesn't want his mum but I felt a little frustrated as I have self imposed deadlines for work I'm doing and I have to accept I can't do everything.

I do actually have to spread out the things I want to do and work hard as hell on the novel when I get chance. Today wasn't that day. I will make it up at some other point though.

It's about living and recognising and planning. I can do everything, just maybe not all at the same time.

Friday 26 August 2011

Sparkfest Blogfest

As previously posted, I am taking part in Christine Tylers, Sparkfest Blogfest.

The reason and rules of the blogfest are these: 

What book made you realize you were doomed to be a writer? 
What author set off that spark of inspiration for your current Work in Progress?
Or, Is there a book or author that changed your world view?

As writers, we're always striving to get out a message of inspiration to others. This blogfest is a celebration for those who have done this for us. Join the Spark Blogfest, aka Sparkfest, by posting your answer to any of the three prompts above (or make one up as long as it fits the theme).

I'll make it worth your while!
  • There will be three Amazon Gift Cards ($15, $10, $5) awarded to random participants!
  • The blogger who writes my favorite entry will get an interview on my blog so they can tell us more about their awesome source of writerly inspiration!
  • By networking with other writers, you gain followers and comments for your own blog.

Only one Sparkfest post August 22-26 is required to participate.

My response to What author set off that spark of inspiration for your current Work in Progress?

I can't quite remember the timeline of how this happened, but it was around the same time. I started my current (and first) WIP (Work in Progress) and read Stephen Kings, On Writing within a matter of weeks of each other. 

I read On Writing without having read any of Stephen Kings novels. It was recommended to me by a friend and I'm so glad I read it. It is part biographical on how it came to be that King started writing and his early life, and part writing advice. 

The book is practical and not preachy. He advocates writing what you want to write and how you want to write it and it gave me so much enthusiasm for following my dream and making sure I wrote the book I wanted to write.

This current book is about sitting down and writing it in the style I want to write it. It's not about writing what I think the book market wants, it's about putting my passion into my work and enjoying doing it. Why write if you don't enjoy it? 

If any writers out there haven't read this book, I'd recommend it and if any writers out there haven't read this book and are stuck in a rut or not quite feeling it at the minute, I'd highly recommend this motivation piece of writing. King writes with honesty and a great understanding of what he writes and who he writes for. Go on. Take a peek.  

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Missing in Action

This is a bit of an apology for being MIA for the past week.

Following the most fabulous Theakstons Crime Writing Festival, which as you know, I thoroughly enjoyed, I went a bit down hill health wise.

Energy levels were depleted to zero and I've been slowly doing more and more. I went back to work last week and the energy levels I was getting back have all been stolen from me by my working time!

I love my job, but it's mentally taxing and when I return home I feel I have barely anything left in me, so anything that requires thought, eg: a blog post, has kind of got laid by the wayside. Twitter is also a victim of my being enthusiastic at work and wearing my brain out.

The good thing though, is I'm not failing altogether. The little reserve of energy there, is being used on the third draft of my novel which I'm really pleased to spend a little time every day on. It just comes in front of all the other things I want and need to do.

I hope to try and keep going, but please forgive me if my posts are a bit hit and miss for a couple of weeks.

Monday 15 August 2011

Author Interview - David Jackson

Todays guest author interview is with David Jackson, author of the previously reviewed, on Life in Clarity, crime novel Pariah. It is with great pleasure I bring this interview. I managed to meet Dave at the recent Harrogate Crime Writing Festival and he is true gentleman.

Your book, Pariah, is based in America yet I believe you reside in the UK. How did that decision come about?

There's an overused saying: 'Write what you know.' What I dislike about that advice is that it's often interpreted far too narrowly. As an alternative I would offer the phrase 'Write what you read.' The novels you read say a lot about the type of stories you prefer, and you are much more likely to enjoy and to be successful in writing stories that follow those interests. Personally, the novels I tend to prefer are crime thrillers set in the US. Favourite authors of mine include Ed McBain, George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais and Michael Connelly. It seems natural (at least to me) to write stories in a similar vein. Of course, the downside of making a choice like that is that you have to do a lot of research and to have an
ear for dialect if you're going to have a hope of sounding authentic. Fortunately, people tell me that I have managed to pull it off with Pariah.

I've heard something similar to that - write what you love, which is, as you say for you, US crime. It does work. If I didn't know you lived in the UK I would never have known otherwise.

Can you describe your route to publication?

The path I took was slightly unusual in that I approached the publisher direct, without an agent. Macmillan runs something called the New Writing scheme, which gets a lot of submissions. In fact, I think the scheme is temporarily closed while they try to catch up! Competition is therefore pretty fierce, but fortunately mine was picked from the slushpile by the reader who went on to become my copy-editor.  I think one of the things that helped me to get noticed was the fact that Pariah had previously won a Highly Commended accolade in
the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards. Other authors who have been discovered through the scheme include Ryan David Jahn, Len Tyler, Brian McGilloway and the Orange Prize longlisted author Ann Weisgarber, so I feel I'm in very good company.

That route to submission is a rare one if reading fellow aspiring writers blogs are anything to go back. The Macmillan scheme is a great one for writers to know about.

How long has your interest in crime been alive and what fascinates you about it?

I think I've always read crime novels. As a young kid I read Enid Blyton's Secret Seven and Famous Five books and loved them. Later on I became interested in science fiction, but still maintained an interest in crime and thriller novels. I remember avidly reading the whole series of James Bond novels (if Jeffery Deaver steps aside, I'm your man!) and then worked my way through Christie's Poirot stories and the Sherlock Holmes books. I read a lot of other stuff too - I've just read 'My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece', which is brilliant, and currently I'm reading Bill Bryson's 'At Home' - but I always return to crime.

What fascinates me about it? That's a much tougher question. I suppose it's the desire to explore and understand the darker side of humanity, and with fiction we can do that without actually being touched by fear and violence ourselves. I think it also allows us to satisfy our need to feel that there can be justice and righteousness in what often seems a very unfair world.

What is your guilty pleasure in genre reading? I've recently admitted to being a bit if a chick lit fan.

Probably kid's books. One of the advantages of having children is you get to read to them and to go through the books on their shelves. It's been great revisiting classics like Dr Seuss and Anne Frank, but also discovering some of the newer stuff like Meg Rosoff's 'How I Live Now'.

As a writer, the world is our oyster. We can go anywhere and do and be anything. For each of those three (go, do and be) if you could, what would you choose.

Two things occur to me. I'd love to know what it's like to be a bird, with that ability to fly wherever I want and look down on the world. And, just for a day, I'd like to become a young child again, to re-live that purity of honesty and innocence and to remember what it's like for everything to have a huge question mark hanging over it.

In relation to the exploring and understanding the darker side of life, it's something that is written about a lot by crime writers. Do you think there are any boundaries to what we can put on the written page and if so what should our limits be?

I wouldn't like to set boundaries for other people, but I have my own. There are some things I just wouldn't feel comfortable writing about, and I think that my unease would show through. For example, rape and child abuse are subjects I shy away from.

On a couple of lighter notes; if you could meet someone, dead or alive, who would it be?

There are all the usual suspects, so I have tried to come up with something different. I think I would want to meet one of my ancestors - say from about 200 years ago. I would want to know how they lived and what it was about them that guided their decisions in life. I suppose that, in knowing them, I would hope to learn more about myself.

If a movie was made of your life, who would you want to play it?

Tom Cruise. If he can play Jack Reacher, then it should be less of a stretch to play me. Literally.

Thank you for such a great and open interview Dave, it's been an absolute pleasure having you here. I wish you best of luck with your next release and if Pariah is anything to go back, I really can't wait to get my mits on it!

You can find Dave at the follow locations; His Blog, Webpage and Twitter  

Friday 12 August 2011

The Liebster Award

This week I received the Liebster blog award from Sarah at Empty White Pages and I'm so happy to have been selected from the many blogs that Sarah follows and participates with, so Thank you Sarah! 

The rules of the award are as follows:
The Liebster Award (meaning “friend” in German) is meant to connect us even more and spotlight new bloggers who have less than 200 followers – but hopefully not for long. The rules are:

1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the Internet – other writers.
5. And best of all – have fun and spread the karma!

I love receiving awards, but hate having to choose who to give them out to, there are so many great bloggers out there! Anyway, I've done as the award states and here are my five great bloggers I suggest you check out.

Jenny at Fulfilling Dreams. A lovely blogger, always supportive and chatty. 

Rosalind at Writing in the Rain. A generous blogger who chooses some interesting topics to blog about. 

Annalisa at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep. A great blogger who is charting her writing journey with honesty.

Julie at What Else is Possible. An animal conscious blogger who is writing her first novel.  

Patricia at Journey Through the Pages. Blogging her way through the self publishing journey.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Recently Read - Cuckoo

In the past I have written book reviews and also on another post I explained what my reviews will be like - more of an explanation of a book so you have an idea and a choice if you're interested. As a writer, I'm not interested in being a critic. So with that in mind, I'm changing the titles of these posts to Recently Read, rather than Book Reviews. I hope that you understand the subtle change and maybe go on to enjoy some of the books I've read.

Today's Recently Read book is Cuckoo by the very Lovely Julia Crouch.


Rose has it all - the gorgeous children, the husband, the beautiful home. But then her best friend Polly comes to stay. Very soon, Rose's cosy world starts to fall apart at the seams - her baby falls dangerously ill & her husband is distracted. It appears that once you invite Polly into your home, it's very difficult to get her out again.


The story starts out with a sweet family with a strong bond following a difficult first year. When an old friend asks for help after her husband dies Rose the mother of the house is quick to offer her a place to stay. That was her first mistake and things start to go wrong and not necessarily as you'd imagine.

It's a slow burner this book. At first it builds up the characters and domestic bliss before psychologically pulling you under with them all.

I found myself not knowing which characters to trust in the end and felt stunned at the final scenes.

If you like a slow burning, character led, psychological thriller that stops your heart at the end then this is for you. If you prefer action all the way, it may prove a little slow.

It's a great book and I was shocked and thrilled by events that overtook everyone. A great read.

Friday 5 August 2011

Professional Envy

Professional envy was mentioned within a comment on Life in Clarity a short time ago and while I dont believe the sentiment from the person saying it was completely true, I do believe there is quite a bit of professional envy amongst our peers and I own up to feeling this way sometimes.

It's a difficult subject to get into, but I wanted to bring it out into the light, air it a little and take away some of that cloak and dagger and hide this dirty little secret away, business.

When I say peers, I mean those writers who are in similar places to where you are now or a step or two in front. You've built that online bond, but then one of you hits the dream first and is published.

At this point I would imagine I'd be feeling two things. Absolute joy at a friends well deserved success. After all, I know just how damn hard she worked for it. But - I would also, deep down, get a niggle of envy - the, why can't I get there, type feelings.

I've decided it's natural and nothing to be ashamed or worried about. It happens in all sorts of lives and scenarios. Not just in writing worlds. It's human nature to look out at what others achieve, to want more for ourselves and to feel a little let down - importantly - by ourselves rather than those who are achieving. It's something we need to acknowledge and then try to deal with it sensibly and be absolutely thrilled for your friend and tell her you expect equal bundles of excitement when you get there.

It's a long arduous journey this road to publication and watching people you know getting there before you is just another of those bumps. Keep at it and keep smiling.

Monday 1 August 2011

Tomorrow Is Now Today

The phrase is always - The diet starts tomorrow.

Well tomorrow has come. Today it starts and I'm serious.

I'm only five foot tall and carrying extra weight really shows on me. I can also feel it. I feel cumbersome lugging this weight about. I'm having trouble with my hips and knees so know losing weight can only be a positive from that point of view.

I really struggle with diets. I lean towards food when I'm upset, stressed or bored. It's often hard to see the bigger picture (excuse the pun) when I'm about to eat something I know I shouldn't. It's difficult to stop and tell myself it's no good for me. The gauge for sense around food is broken and I need to attempt to repair it and cut back on the things that are keeping me this size and resulting in the unhappiness in my own skin.

I know I can be slim. I'm petite. When I was 21 I weighed in at 7st 10lb. Now I don't want to go back to that. But I'd like to get somewhere closer to that figure than the one I'm at.

This isn't going to be easy. Struggling with my weight has been an ongoing issue. As soon as I look at food the weight goes on, so you can imagine what happens when I'm eating the wrong things. And just because I've announced I'm back on the slimming wagon, it doesn't mean I will somehow magically stick to it and the weight will drop off. This is going to be hard. Fighting to stay off the foods I'm used to eating is going to be hard. Some days I will probably not do very well but today I'm saying that I'm going to try. I'm unhappy with the way I look so I need to do something about it.

Now tomorrow has come and it's called today.