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Daily Writing Meme

eAnyone doing NaNoWriMo will totally understand this image, especially now we’re all 13 days in and may, or may not be meeting our targets. My desk doesn’t look quite as bad as this but I have a pile of text books and two notebooks of stuff I’m hoping to use within the project.  I’ve finally settled to how to balance my blog and my writing. I will do social media for a couple of hours every morning so I can keep up with what is going on out there and from lunchtime onwards will write continually until it’s time to prepare dinner in the evening. It has only taken me a number of stressful days to realise this and get my head sorted out – panic was starting to take over and I didn’t want 1 or the other of the 2 to not be done. If you’re doing NaNo 2019 good luck. If you’re not good luck with whatever you’re working on! Until next time! NN 🙂

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I’ve Been Nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award

I arrived back to Nattinatters HQ today to find my blog has been nominated for the ‘Sunshine Blogger Award’ by a writer whose writing and blog I greatly admire. PeterWynMosey’s short stories and daily writing challenges set by other bloggers and writers are of a very high standard which makes me wonder why he follows me and has nominated me for the award as I feel I still have a long way to go before my writing reaches his standard. Thank you Peter for nominating me regardless 🙂

To accept the nomination I have to

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog 
  • List the rules and display an award logo on blog post.
  • Answer the 11 questions
  • Nominate 11 new blogs.
  • Ask nominees 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display an award logo on blog post.
  • Answer the 11 questions
  • Nominate 11 new blogs.
  • Ask nominees 11 new questions

 

sunshine-blogger-award

 

MY ANSWERS TO PETER’S QUESTIONS

What is your favourite song, and when did you first hear it?

I have 2 and I wrote a blog post about favourite songs/lyrics not too long ago. Here’s a link to that post.

If you became the leader of the country that you live, what would be the first thing that you would change? 

There’s so much going on with this country right now (the United Kingdom). I’ve lost all faith in the politicians who are supposed to be running this country and are making a total hash of it. I have a list as long as my arm of things I’d love to change so things work in a more organised way and in a way the country can afford, but for me right at this minute whilst it should be to get Brexit done I would rather go to sleep at night knowing there are no UK residents without food, clothing or a safe and warm home. ( I personally voted to remain in the EU as I have a strong sense of ‘one world, one family)’. Whilst some may consider this a naive attitude, it’s really the only way humans will continue to thrive on this Earth. There cannot be any self-centredness. We are a race which is consuming at an alarming rate which is just not sustainable.

There is an uneven distribution of wealth and resources. I agree that those who are millionaires, billionaires, etc., may have worked hard to achieve their status and position, however, when exactly will they spend their millions and billions? Whilst there are people in abject poverty, and I include the disabled, children and families in the UK within this, there should be a corporate consortium or community alliance (or both) which will replace school breakfast clubs, food banks and other charities currently helping homeless, hungry or deprived children and families, and the disabled who are unable to work, with adequate housing, clothing and foods so no one should have to go without their very basic needs catered for. This is the 21st Century not the Victorian era of Oliver Twist’s “Please Sir, I want some more?” No thank you UK, get it sorted.

What is one item of clothing that you own that you would not want to part with?

I have a women’s Grey, round neck Waistcoat which I bought hurriedly when I saw it in a sale at Dotty P’s (Dorothy Perkins) several years ago. There are so many pictures of me throughout the years wearing it and I have no plans to throw it away yet. The thing which is great about it is that even if I am wearing a t-shirt under it I still look smart, plus it means I can wear one of my many vintage or funky brooches – right now it has a very large hand-knitted poppy because here in the UK it is Armistice Day.

How many countries have you ever visited?

I think seven. I went to France, Belgium and Holland on a school trip, Spain (Balearic Islands) in my very early twenties, the U.S.A (Philadelphia and New York; Upstate and NY,NY), Canada (Niagara Falls is best seen from the Canadian side), then Spain (Mallorca twice), Spain (Tenerife) and this Summer Spain, Italy and France as we did a cruise around the Mediterranean.

Books or e-readers?

Both. There is nothing which could replace the smell of new ink on new paper. Walking in to a book store instantly relaxes me as I feel at home, however I do love my Kindle. I have so many classics on there as well as contemporary and literary fiction and if I am going on a long journey I will take it with me as it’s not as thick or heavy as 2 thick paperbacks in the suitcase or hand luggage.

What is your favourite movie? Why?

I’m struggling to come up with just one favourite movie. If I had to strictly pick one it’d be Forrest Gump. It’s a clever premise, a man with lower than average intelligence who re-tells his life experiences during some of the most important events in the late twentieth century history of the United States of America. I find the story moving and funny but also feel it shows the best side of human nature. The clever editing-in of Forrest into these events is amusing too. Tom Hanks is my favourite actor so that’s a huge bonus for me too as I’ll watch pretty much anything with him in.

When and where do you do most of your writing?

I used to sit in the living room, either on the sofa with my laptop, in front of the telly, or at the dinner table, but hubby built me a writing and sewing studio so I’m over there most of the time now.

What has been a job that you have had that you have liked the least?

I worked in administration for a Government department. My original line manager was a bully, plus I found the work very boring and repetitive; it was like a conveyor belt; one finished, on to the next one, same processes, done, onto the next one…yawn. I just couldn’t handle it so I took a career break and finally (at 34) had the opportunity to go to University to study English Language (Linguistics). In order to start the degree I had to resign my position. It was such a hard decision (not!)

What does your morning ritual look like?

I wake up, hubby does coffee and breakfast for the cat then for both of us; I have a glass of almond milk and a small pot of nuts; with the change in the weather I think I’m going to start having the milk warmed. I then shower, dress, and depending on if I have any appointments will either do my hair or not or put on make-up or not; usually when I’m in my studio all day writing I don’t bother with either; my hair goes back in a band so it’s out of my face and I stick my glasses on.

Do you often remember your dreams when you wake up?

Yes, quite often as most of them are on the weird side.

What would be one piece of advice you would give to someone starting a blog?

Try to read every day and write every day. I’ve not been doing this too long and it’s so easy for life to get in the way. Read other blogs, like, comment and network to build your following as well as other bloggers as they’ll be grateful for every single one.

MY NOMINATIONS

blankpagesofmine

Roxi St Clair

Refresh Her

All Things Tudor

Wandering Ambivert

To Write Or Not To Write and What To Write

You Are Enough

A Real Lady Drinks Whiskey

The Alchemist’s Studio

Fictive Dream

Soul Writing Project

MY 11 QUESTIONS TO MY NOMINEES

  1. If you could close your eyes, wish to be anywhere, and when you opened your eyes, be there, where would that place be? Why?
  2. Thoughts on the plastics polluting our oceans and ideas for resolution?
  3. Who was your favourite teacher in secondary school (UK) high school (U.S) and why?
  4. How would you politely end a conversation with a person who won’t stop talking?
  5. Have you ever eaten food past it’s ‘Sell By’ or ‘Use By’ date?
  6. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
  7. If you could ask your pet 3 questions what would you ask them? If you don’t have a pet, ask a farm or a wild animal instead.
  8. It’s the start of a Zombie Apocalypse. You can only take the first 5 things you touch with any part of your body. What will they be?
  9. What is your favourite book? Why?
  10. You’re told you are going to cook for 4 celebrities. What will you cook and for who?
  11. Charles Dickens or Charlotte Bronte?

Well, that’s my nomination accepted, thanks again Peter 🙂

sunshine-blogger high quality

 

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Back with a…little bang…?

Hey! I went again didn’t I? I had a slight blip and fell in to a little bit of a dark hole. I then realised my plans to be fully prepped for the start of Nanowrimo 2019 on 1st November were slipping but I managed to semi sort my head out and wrote well at the start, however my son and his girlfriend came to visit for a few days and all research and writing went out of the window. As we’d not seen them for 8-9 months I wanted to be fully present.

I’d organised a surprise bonfire and sparklers for the 6th and cooked baked tatties, bangers and beans. On 7th we went to a photography studio for a 1 hour session of a mix of casual and smart shots. As we’d had no portrait sittings since late Summer 2005 it was great to know we’d have a new collection. The reason behind my wish for new pictures is because since my older sister had a major stroke a week before her 50th birthday this May, and with my 50th next Summer, I’ve become more aware of my own mortality and I’d want there to be recent pictures of us all together. I lost my Dad in 2005 and the only picture I could find of him with me was on my wedding day 12 1/2 years earlier. I’d asked for shots of Hubby and I, Hubby and I with our son, both individually and with both of us, and then some shots with his girlfriend included. They then had a few of them on their own. I am so excited and cannot wait to see the results when the photographer sends me a sneak preview and then posts me the disc with the rest on. Janine was fantastic with all of us. We were all feeling more than a bit awkward but she’s very bright and cheerful and got us all laughing and we all really enjoyed ourselves. Here’s a link to her Fleet Photographics Facebook Page. While we were back in Cambridgeshire we visited an old friend (she’s not old, I’ve just known her since she was 4!). We didn’t get back to Norfolk until late.

Nat and Gary

On Friday we all had a chilled day. I spent the time reading the pile of research books I have to help my Nano project along; I’m striving for authenticity and I’m hoping having researched my subject that it’ll show.

On Saturday it was hubby’s birthday and we celebrated with a trip to the cinema to see ‘Joker’ and then went to an American-style diner ‘Fatso’s’. I wasn’t sure about ‘Joker’. I’ve never seen ‘The Dark Knight’ where Heath Ledger portrays, what so many people insist is the best Joker characterisation ever and wondered if I should wait until after watching The Dark Knight before seeing ‘Joker’. As hubby wanted to see it while it was still in the cinemas we all went to see that. I have to say Joaquin Phoenix’ is fantastic as Joker and blew me away! If he doesn’t get at least an Oscar nomination there is something very wrong with those nominating.

So my sunshine left Norfolk 5 hours ago and after a grocery shop I’m here to let you all know I am HERE! I am BACK and I’m going to be hitting Nano full throttle. As I set myself the challenge of writing 60K words in place of the usual 50K (yes I am as mad as that seems) my daily word count should be around 2,300 – 3,000 words per day…Until next time! NN 🙂

 

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Daily Writing Meme

I found this and it’s hugely inspirational, especially as tomorrow is the beginning of #NaNoWriMo. For us fiction writers, I’d guess the majority know that #NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, but I discovered the other day there are a few people who do not know. The briefest explanation is it is a commitment/challenge for writers to complete a 50,000 word novel draft. There are non-fiction writers who do use the site now to give them a target to work towards.

The hardest thing when I write is to go without editing as I go. It’s something I’ve always done – which is why I’ve probably never had a book published as it’s just never good enough and I think if left alone I’d continue editing until I edit the story out of the story!

Anyway, for all you writers out there; Pantsers,Planners or Plantsers, who are committing to the 30 days of writing Good Luck! See you on the other side! Until next time! NN 🙂

 

Write

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Creative Writing Challenge – Use these words in a story: grandfather, photo album, post office, and folder

Today was the day I’d been dreading for over a month. Grandfather had died five weeks ago and after the funeral was finally over just three short days ago it was time for us all to meet at the solicitor’s office for the reading of his will.

I didn’t much want to go, for it was unlikely he’d be bestowing much on me, as I’d disappeared for several years, which I won’t go into now, but I had my reasons. That does sound melodramatic and even stereotypical but that is what it is or was.

The smell which greeted us all as we made our way in through the hallway and up the grumbling staircase was one of age; that incredibly musty, trapped-in-history smell, of papers and folders ceiling-high in what you’d hope; if for the secretaries even if for no one else, was an organised state of disorganisation.

My brother was huffing impatiently, checking his watch about every ten seconds to see if time had moved on far enough for him to get back to work. His hands anxiously scraping through his hair when he saw only a matter of seconds had passed.

Dad had passed away eleven years ago and so everything he would have inherited was likely to be shared between us three siblings. As I said I’m not sure I’ll be included now as I feel it’ll be a case of ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ and if I had been left anything Ian and Charlie were sure to contest it for years.

Mr Benjamin stood in the doorway of his office and called the five of us in. Mum made it her duty to get there first, so she was right under his nose. She was expecting a percentage of something from Dad’s inheritance too, claiming that as his ex-wife he should or would have made provision for her in her old age too. Why is what I want to know. She did the dirty on him and flew off into the world with the alleged love of her life, although he was not but strangely, she didn’t realise that had been Dad until he died. Families are strange things.

I sat at the back and let Uncle Matthew sit at the front with Mum and Ian. I wanted to be invisible, or ethereal, ghost-like. I felt that I should have stayed at home and just hear from Mr Benjamin when this was over. Charlie was not here, and Mr Benjamin mirrored Ian’s earlier actions, obviously anxious to start. He shuffled his papers, read a few lines then glanced back up, checked his watch, doublechecking with the ancient wall clock the time was correct. Giving a rasping sigh he looked up at the clock one final time before clearing his throat and beginning.

Half an hour later we all left the office confused and there was a hum of discussion which had been lacking prior to the appointment, although Charlie was hissing at Mum as she had scolded him for arriving late. There was precious little in the estate. Apparently, Grandfather had sold or mortgaged everything years ago and there were several legal commitments concerning those which would leave a big, fat zero.

For me, there was no disappointment as I had expected nothing. The one thing which had been bequeathed to me left me more confused than everyone else as it was something palpable, real. A photograph album. It was in the back-sitting room at the house and I was to collect it before tomorrow evening.

We all travelled to a swish restaurant for a meal which had already been paid by Grandfather. Mum was mouthing off at why Grandfather had left nothing and her entitlement to at least some of the non-existent estate. I had the feeling she had been relying on it for her own retirement. She’d just have to find some other man to jet off into the sunset with.

These family meals were a joke. There was no sense of family; no concern for the other parties despite the blood connection, no interest in each other’s lives, relationships or circumstances. Sad for others, but I have no remorse; left all the sentimental slush back far beyond the customary glimpse from the rear-view mirror. I was glad when everyone skipped dessert for coffees and even happier when the evening was over.

I jumped in a taxi with the briefest of goodbyes to everyone. There was nothing left to say; had been precious little over an uncomfortable dinner saturated with stilted, insincere conversation. Not wanting to return to my hotel room straight away I asked the driver to drop me outside some houses in a street I knew. Turning as if entering one of them I watched as the taxi pulled away and as soon as he was out of sight I turned and headed through the alley to the side of the terraces which led to the river.

Sitting on a bench in the darkness seems a crazy thing to do but I knew this town and the immediate vicinity very well. On the other side of the river was the land which led directly up to the mansion I would visit for the last time tomorrow.

My thoughts returned to my Grandfather, a man who had been kind, loving and even fun until the day everything changed for the entire family; the day Grandfather was at the centre of a voyeurism accusation and, despite his denials over a lengthy period of time, was discredited and with a full case of evidence found in the cellar, found guilty and sent to prison for fifteen months.

The scandal led to familial disgrace and many of us were assaulted, humiliated and suffered allegations and degradation to the basest of levels. I lost my friends, my boyfriend, had my hair pulled out in clumps at school and found excrement every night at the bottom of my bed until I’d been caught smearing it into the pillows of the three girls I knew had been responsible and had been suspended and sent home, which was the place I least wanted to be.

I must have fallen asleep as I was suddenly wide awake as could hear loud singing coming in my direction. Partygoers; lucky them. I stood and walked back through the alley to the terraces. My hotel was a short walk on the same side of the road, and I made my way quickly toward it, sighing with relief when I entered the warm, bright reception area.

Why do tomorrows approach so fast? It was already the morning and the alarm on my mobile phone was singing to me. I covered my head with the pillow but eventually admitted defeat and leant over to switch off the screeching 1990s track which I used to force me out of sleep. I wasn’t looking forward to today, apart from the taxi ride which would take me back out of here in the middle of the day, and sooner if I could do it. Collecting a photograph album from the mansion wasn’t going to take me long and I had no plans for a sickly-sweet plan to reminisce.

Arriving at the mansion I was met by Walter, who had been Grandfather’s assistant forever. We had all known the relationship between them was closer than implied; but in a time where acceptance wasn’t the watch word, they’d preferred to spurn recognition.

I hugged Walter briefly and he followed me to the rear sitting room. There was a tray with two large mugs of tea and an open tin of Family Circle biscuits on the coffee table. I smiled for the first time in quite a while. Walter used to save the smiley face, jam and cream-filled biscuits in a separate tub just for me and if I’d not visited for a while there’d usually be a whole tub of smiles waiting for me. The joy I felt at someone doing something so simple but perfect for me was cute and I felt understood like nobody ever had before.

We sat for half an hour. Walter was interested in me, my life and I opened up a little, shared some of what had been going on in New York. He then reached over to the side table, picked up the photograph album and passed it to me. Turning over the cover I saw my Grandfather and I in a number of natural, non-posed pictures. I was smiling or giggling in every one of them. As I turned the pages I saw more of the same and the silly tears formed and escaped my eyes leaving a long trail of salt down my cheeks. I desperately wanted to leave but felt obligated to stay for Walter’s sake.

The last page had a document tucked into the space between the sticky clear cover and board base of the page. It was the deeds to the mansion. They were in Walter’s name. I smiled through the tears, glad that the man who had devoted his life to Grandfather even when life had gone bad was being acknowledged now.

There was another document with the deeds. A sealed envelope addressed to my New York apartment. Walter took the document, telling me I was not to read the document until after my return and that Grandfather had left strict instructions the document was to be posted once I’d received the photo album.

Thanking Walter for his care I made plans to leave. He offered to drive me into town to save me calling for a taxi. After all he had to go to the Post Office to send the envelope to my home.

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Word of the Day #24

Today’s word is ‘Gossamer’ and today’s dictionary is Dictionary.com

noun

adjective

Also gos·sa·mer·y  [gosuh-muh-ree] gos·sa·mered. of or like gossamer; thin and light.
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Reading Meme #3

For me there’s nothing like kicking back with a book, a mug of coffee or a glass of something and escaping to another world or place. Not only are you escaping to another universe, you’re also expanding your own.

a book can be a star

I personally feel that reading is the best educator and something all kids should be taught properly from a very early age. Here in the UK, I don’t think enough importance is placed on reading and writing in early years education – please don’t comment or email me to tell me I am wrong and this is not my having a pop at Teachers because I feel they all do their best work with what they have.

I know and agree children should be allowed to learn through play in reception, however once they reach Year 1 they should be taught reading and writing for longer than they are. I have personal experience of eleven year old children going up to secondary education unable to read or even write well enough to follow what is happening in a lesson. They aren’t able to retain what is being said for long enough to make notes, or they’re unable to follow simple instructions during classes. This is a shame and it’s largely due to restricted budgets. I think it’s time education budgets were majorly increased to allow for much smaller classes at the earliest education levels, in fact the whole Primary level. I better climb off my soapbox now before I receive throngs of emails, comments and the like. NN 🙂

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Creative Writing Challenge – Go to your chosen music streaming app. Set it to play on random. Write a story about the first song that comes up. (250 words or less)

A Town Called Malice

The building was abandoned; left empty by the previous owners, but the yard was full; rust-covered milk floats, discarded crate mountains, dust-covered and cobwebbed milk bottles.

The whole town had a frigid atmosphere, disapprobation carried on the breeze; no disapproval towards its occupants for chaotic afflictions over which they had no control.

This once bright, prosperous and busy borough now dulled as if touched by an artist with grey-wash; a shadow of its former self; memories of lines of boiled sheets and smalls, neighbourhood chatters and calls, kids on their bikes or playing hopscotch or marbles in the streets; gone with the factories, which like dominoes falling, closed one by one until all which remained was an ensemble of skeletal steelworks, a rarely-used bus depot and the discarded rail tracks, for there were very few visitors now.

The remaining residents lived a traditional British way of life; roast beef and ‘Yorkshires’ on Sundays, Chips and scraps Fridays and hand-me-downs while week-in, week-out Dad went to the pub pissing ‘it’ up the wall.

But while I watch the kids slide and zip and swing; there’s laughter on the breeze and hope with pride and humour.

A Town Called Malice – Facts 

This was a song by a band called ‘The Jam’. Their lead singer was Paul Weller and it was he who wrote the song. It was released in February 1982 and debuted at number 1.♣ If you don’t know of the song then checkout the video. Video of ‘A Town Called Malice’ by The Jam

Paul Weller has said that it was written about his hometown Woking, as a result of his teenage experiences there, described by ‘The Guardian’s Greg Freeman on 

 […] the grey commuter town that Weller grew up in. As a railway junction its sole benefit seemed to be – and maybe still is – the availability of a fast train to London.

although earlier described by Freeman that the song lyric was ‘a direct result of his dissatisfaction with the way the band was working as a three-piece’.♠

The lyrics for the song are as follows:

Better stop dreaming of the quiet life, ’cause it’s the one we’ll never know
And quit running for that runaway bus ’cause those rosy days are few
And stop apologizing for the things you’ve never done
‘Cause time is short and life is cruel but it’s up to us to change
This town called malice
Rows and rows of disused milk floats stand dying in the dairy yard
And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk bottles to their hearts
Hanging out their old love letters on the line to dry
It’s enough to make you stop believing when tears come fast and furious
In a town called malice, yeah
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba
Struggle after struggle, year after year
The atmosphere’s a fine blend of ice, I’m almost stone cold dead
In a town called malice, ooh yeah
A whole street’s belief in Sunday’s roast beef
Gets dashed against the Co-op
To either cut down on beer or the kid’s new gear
It’s a big decision in a town called malice, ooh yeah
The ghost of a steam train, echoes down my track
It’s at the moment bound for nowhere
Just going round and round, oh
Playground kids and creaking swings
Lost laughter in the breeze
I could go on for hours and I probably will
But I’d sooner put some joy back
In this town called malice, yeah
In this town called malice, yeah
In this town called malice, ooh yeah

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Paul Weller. A Town Called Malice © Universal Music Publishing Group

♣ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 405–6. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

♠ Freeman, Greg (2012) ‘Old music: The Jam – A Town Called Mallice’ [online] Available at ‘https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2012/apr/05/jam-town-called-malice’

 

textual-analysis-town-called-malice-1-638
Slideshot.net
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Creative Writing Challenge – Begin with “I thought I saw…”

I thought I saw Elvis Presley in the reading corner of my local library this morning. Of course it wasn’t ‘The King’ as he died in 1977. I was only a kid and I cried – Mum said that I was a fan even as a baby.

Why would Elvis even be in the local library? We’re thousands of miles away from the U.S here, and Memphis, or Graceland. He was wearing Black drainpipe trousers and an open-necked shirt; looking like he did in his heyday, so either he followed a fantastic diet and had a whole range of plastic surgery done or he’s dead as no one should look that great at 84. Although, it is great what surgeons can do these days.

The thing is I also saw Prince. He was wearing a beautiful shiny Purple jacket with a very high collar. I was surprised by how short he was. I mean I knew he was short as heard it on the telly but when I saw him he was even shorter than I’d imagined. I’m sure he was wearing boots with platform heels too – at least 4- or 5- inch heels. The boots were Purple too. He definitely has, or had a Purple fetish – a bit like me with turquoise. I’ll search anywhere for a gorgeous turquoise dress. Anyway, I digress. Prince was entering the library as I left. I wondered what the **** was going on. I wonder whether he was going to meet Elvis for a chinwag or just for some peace and quiet. Maybe he was returning books, although he didn’t have a bag with him. I didn’t spot any book-shaped bulges anywhere either.

I think I must be hallucinating, or maybe I have a brain tumour pressing on my neocortex or thalamus (the parts of my brain which work the imagination). Maybe a little bubble of a tumour took root somewhere and grew and grew until it made me see dead legends. I’m not sure I’ll mind that.

Oh, and I nearly forgot. David Bowie was in the local Co-op. I tried to have a nose at what he had his in basket but he turned away before I could see. Thankfully he wasn’t looking ill anymore, or that old really. I loved him in all his guises but thought he was really hot in the 1980s when he released Blue Jean, China Girl, Let’s Dance, etc I’d have loved to have been able to stand in front of him long enough to see his different coloured eyes. I wonder if the kids he went to school at took the p*** out of him for that. I have dark brown eyes which have been described as pools of melted chocolate. I guess the only way to have taken the p out of them would have been for them to be called piles of dog sh*t instead. I’ll have to ask Emma next time I see her. She was my friend all the way through school and I know she’d tell me if I ask.

Thankfully, I made it home without seeing any other dead legends. As I unlocked the front door and went through it I called out a ‘Hi’ to my hubby.

‘You’ll never guess who I saw in the library!’

Walking along the hallway I could hear him talking to someone and oddly he’d ignored my call. I walked in to the lounge and there he was sat having a cuppa and biscuits with Pete Burns. I’m off to book a brain scan.

Creative Writing Featured Image via BBC.co.uk
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Creative Writing Challenge – Write an obituary for a historical figure

This has been a definite challenge as I had to research it along with the research I’ve been doing to prep my Nano project for Friday whilst also trying to finish my WIP. I don’t think it’s my best work as it doesn’t flow that well but I decided I had to leave it where it is before I write a book! Interestingly I discovered that the Iceni town of Venta Icenorum is a very short drive from where I currently live, and rather spookily where she is believed to have died, in Mancetter is next to the village of Atherstone where both my Grandfather and Grandmother’s families both come from.

Queen Boudica Obituary

Boudica, as with many historical figures, has also been known as Bunduca, Voadicia, Boadicea, Boudicca, and, in Wales as Buddug.

Queen Boudica was queen of the Celtic Iceni* tribe of Britannia between 47 AD, when her husband Prasutagus was granted the kingship of the Iceni following the Icenian war, until her death in c.62 AD.

boudica

Boudica is believed to have been born into an elite family in 30 AD at Camulodunum in Britannia. Camulodunum was capital of the Trinovantes and later the Catuvellauni tribes. The city was one of the few Roman settlements in Britain appointed as a Colonia rather than a Municipia, meaning that in legal terms it was an extension of the city of Rome, not a provincial town. Its inhabitants therefore had Roman citizenship.

Now known as Colchester, in the county of Essex, Camulodunum is claimed to be the oldest town in the United Kingdom, originally being the site of the Brythonic-Celtic oppidum (a large fortified Iron-Age settlement) named for Camulus/Camulos, a deity of the Celts.

Described by Roman statesman and historian Cassius Dio as a very tall woman with thick, reddish-brown hair, which was usually associated with the Celts, and was so long it hung well below her waist. Dio stated she had a loud voice and intense stare and that she always wore a colourful tunic with a flowing plaid cloak attached with a brooch and her neck was adorned with a large golden torque.

With her husband Prasutagus and two daughters, Boudica ruled the tribe and inhabitants of much of the area of the present-day county of Norfolk, North-West Suffolk and parts of North Cambridgeshire in East Anglia, England.

The Iceni were a significant power in eastern Britain during Claudius’ conquest of Britain in AD 43, in which they allied with Rome. They lived in a town known as Venta Icenorum, now Caistor St Edmund, just outside of Norwich, which was a market city (‘The Market of the Iceni’) and Prasutagus was allowed to reign, although due to Roman rule and administration this was effectively in name only.

The family were extremely prosperous and Prasutagus left everything to his two daughters and the Roman Emperor as joint beneficiaries. Seeing this as an act of deliberate deference to protect his Kingdom and household the will was ignored and the Romans pillaged Briton kingdoms, raped Boudica and her daughters as well as nullifying earlier agreements, recalling funds gifted to the Britons. It was the procurator of Roman Britain, Catus Decianus and Roman financier Seneca the Younger who confiscated the sums of money given to leading Britons by Claudius, declaring them as loans which were to be repaid with interest. Centurions plundered the Briton Kingdom and it was at this time when the Iceni, the Trinovantes and other tribes challenged Roman Rule, leading a revolt against them in 60 or 61 AD.

The tribes chose Queen Boudica as their leader and she told them she was fighting as a warrior and not a noblewoman, for the freedom of the entire tribe, the people and not for her own personal liberty.

“We British are used to women commanders in war; I am descended from mighty men! But I am not fighting for my kingdom and wealth now. I am fighting as an ordinary person for my lost freedom, my bruised body, and my outraged daughters…. Consider how many of you are fighting — and why! Then you will win this battle, or perish. That is what I, a woman, plan to do!— let the men live in slavery if they will.”

Their first target was Camulodunum, which had since the uprisings of AD 47 evolved from the capital of Trinovantian into a Roman colony. The tribes flattened Camulodunum, leaving nothing for the Romans and killing or maiming 80% of the Roman foot soldiers whilst the cavalry escaped to a nearby fort.

The next target the tribes set their sights on was Londinium, which was formed in 43 AD after the Roman conquest and was a bustling commercial centre. The then governor of Britain, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus had been fighting in Wales but quickly made his way back towards Londinium, however after considering the might of the tribes and the amount of troops he had with him decided to sacrifice the city and Boudica’s army razed it to the ground in much the same way they had in Camulodunum.

The third target of the rebels was the town of Verulamium, now St Albans, which had been a pre-Roman and Romano-British town in the region of the Catuvellauni. The results of the attack matched the fate of the previous targets and the army moved onwards along Watling Street, to Manduessedum, a Roman fort, now the village of Mancetter which is where the Romans finally crushed the much larger force led by Boudica, leading to complete subjugation of the Iceni.

It is not known exactly where Boudica died but it was in the general area of Manduessedum. She is rumoured to have killed herself by taking poison; Tacitus wrote that she poisoned herself although Cassius Dio claims she died of disease. The poison seems the most likely having seen the revolt as a life or death matter; she had no wish to be a slave.

Archaeologists have long hunted for her burial site – and some believe the Iceni queen’s bones may even lie in Kings Norton, on the south western edge of Birmingham, under what is now a Mc Donald’s restaurant.

Queen Boudica. Born 30 AD Died c. 61 AD.

scythians4

(*or Eceni – Icenian coins dating from the 1st century AD use the spelling ‘ECEN’)

Resources and further reading: –

BBC History – Roman Britain: Dr Neil Faulkner

https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/boudica-8067.php,

www.Roman-Britain.org

https://archive.is/doWr

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/colchester_01.shtml

https://www.business-live.co.uk/lifestyle/nostalgia/west-midlands-location-britains-bloodiest-10739813

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venta_Icenorum

https://www.visitengland.com/experience/explore-caistor-roman-town-venta-icenorum#/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camulodunum

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verulamium

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londinium

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manduessedum

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Meme #24

And back to it I go, after a ‘few days off’ unpacking boxes into my studio. I like this quote as it tells it like it is. We have to put in the work to be successful at what we do. We need to aim for the stars and be an unstoppable force. Go do it! 🙂

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Word of the Day #20

Today’s Word of the Day is ‘Vorfreude’ and today’s definition comes from Dauntless Jaunter.

Vorfreude is an untranslatable German word with no perfect or direct English translation, however it describes a feeling of ecstatic joy when considering or anticipating an upcoming pleasure or thrill, such as a future vacation.

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Daily Creative Writing Challenge 6 Start your story with: “He glanced at his watch impatiently…”

…checking if the 8 minutes had reduced. Nearly lunchtime. Nearly his reading and writing time, well, some of it anyway.

Picture from https://www.freepik.com

He’d started his blog as a way of tracking his writing, wanting to see if it developed and improved over time. Wanting, hoping for a boost of confidence. It had become addictive now. His life revolved around lunch breaks, the train journey home, chilling time after the dog walk and dinner.

2 minutes! He really wanted to finish Chapter 37 of Olly’s latest book; serialised chapter by chapter before he self-published; hoping some agent or publisher would pick it up.

The phone rang. He really didn’t want to answer, couldn’t deal with a long expenses query from one of the R & D guys. They could call back later.

He stood, pulling his jacket from the back of his chair in the same movement. Sandra raised her eyebrows; haughty bitch. The obvious implication being he should have answered the call.

‘Off for lunch now, see you in thirty!’ Already walking out of the glazed double doors as he sang with joy.

He popped into the Costa, bought a huge coffee and two pastries, scanned the shop for the quietest, comfortable space; avoiding babies, toddlers, knitting and gossiping Nanas and groups of teenagers, then walked quickly to ‘his space’ for one of his daily fixes.

He had a few new likes and one interesting comment. There was no Chapter 37 waiting though. What a shame and concerned he checked Olly’s blog in case there were any posts at all.

‘ERROR:404 Page Not Found’


Pic from https://sitechecker.pro/

Checking his phone for connectivity issues whilst chewing his way through the chocolate-filled twist he was disturbed to discover the connection was sound. ‘Olly-O’Cookie’ had failed to exist. The blog was gone.

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Creative Writing Challenge 5 Write a story revolving around an object in your room.

Silver Dancer

She’d been dancing forever. Romantic or passionate waltzes, sensual tangos and god knows how many Rumbas and Cha-Chas.

Now, she was celebrating 50 years of feather steps and pique turns amongst all the others and considering whether to hang up her dancing shoes. The gala tonight would be an excellent opportunity to announce it to the world’s media, as well as the hangers-on and the sharks; those two-faced, arse-licking, yes-creeps who had followed her around the world, weighing her down with all the extra baggage having assistants, attendants and coordinators came with.

Oh to be free…

Photo taken by me 5th October 2019

Rose didn’t mention her intentions to anyone and spent half a day tapping out notice letters to the entourage, all of whom would be served their notice by 2 temps immediately after her retirement announcement. She was including references and cheques for wages owed, notice periods and a compensatory redundancy rate calculated by her accountant.

She wanted to rub her hands together gleefully every time she thought about the gala and struggled to hide her excitement but was able to disguise it by discussing her impending 3 week cruise to the Caribbean, which was well needed.

After a light lunch she headed to the hotel to prepare. Her personal assistant, dressmaker, hairdresser and make-up artist were waiting for her. She’d chosen a silver jewelled and sequinned dress with a bright white under dress. She was hoping it would look fabulous, especially as she had cultivated a beautifully-wide, silver streak in her fringe which had started to appear a couple of years ago. She’d started to mature into an attractive quinquagenarian.

She was aware she’d never be another Carolyn Carlson, Sarah (Paddy) Jones or Eileen Kramer and had resigned herself to retirement at 55. Her hips were the only part of her which felt her age. She was still supple and fit but clunked and clicked when she moved now; she knew she was well on her way to hip replacement surgery; instinct and self-preservation had whispered then demanded she stop.

So beautiful a reflection. The dress fit like a glove. Her hair and make-up made for a stunning look overall and she felt supremely confident and ready for her evening.

She entered the ballroom from the central staircase and floated down the steps, the throng of invited guests and media representatives turning to gaze in awe at this lustrous vision before them.

No sooner had she made the floor before the usual tangle of reporters and photographers appeared before her. Gracefully spreading out her arms she asked that they all stand back to make room for her and her entourage, who were all, of course invited.

She’d been working the room for nearly 3 hours when the event host interrupted to announce she would be taking to the floor and then making a speech. The time was coming close.

She walked to the bottom step where she was met by Kola who was waiting, his arms ready for her.

They danced a display dance never before seen by her fans and acquaintances. The program was choreographed jointly and was faultless; the audience reaction was gauged by regular gasps, rounds of applause and excited screaming.

She was in her element as the dance ended; as they presented themselves to further rapturous applause.

Kola accompanied her up the stairs where she took the microphone from the host. Thanking everyone for coming; for their generous gifts and celebratory messages.

She then paused and the hum in the room gradually lowered to a sound-less peace. She cleared her throat and all the words she’d prepared so avidly disappeared. She looked at the throngs of people below her; knew she owed every one of them gratitude for where she was and tried to tell them.

She took a deep breath and started to speak. Gracefully acknowledging and praising those she wanted to thank for half a century of hard work, dedication, faith and loyalty. She then looked around the room. The next part of the speech caused a new hum, growing louder as the shock of her retirement announcement rippled through the room. She said a quick thank you before stepping away from the steps and backing through a curtain into the corridor leading to her suite.

She was free!

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Daily Creative Writing Challenge 4 A poem using the words: blue, mistrust, half, twang

I’m not great at poetry, although if I take my time I’m willing to give it a go. I’ve always wondered about giving Haiku a go so thought I’d see if I could fit the four words specified in the challenge into a Haiku. I’m not sure if this is a great success but here’s what I managed:

Blue half-light, was eventide

mistrust of the dog

Caused by the twang of the lead”

N.C Toon October 2019

Writing

Writing Meme #20

I love Stephen King and have done since I was in my early teens. It was actually James Herbert who inspired the reading of King’s books as I’d read Herbert’s ‘Domain’ and ‘The Jonah’, been scared out of my wits but wanted more! From the first Stephen King book I read (The Dead Zone) I was hooked and for several years I spent my time dividing my reading between both authors. I then started a family, and from my first pregnancy could no longer stomach the works of either author. I’m pleased to say I’m over that now but I have a lot of catching up to do – almost quarter of a century (saying that makes me feel old!) His ‘On Writing’ is a great book of advice and tips for writers and I especially like the quote in today’s writing meme. NN 🙂

stephen king
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Daily Creative Writing Challenge 1 Re-write a classic fairy tale

All challenges for this month’s Daily Creative Writing Challenge are from thinkwritten.com – at least I think they are. I’ve done the horrible thing of saving a list and not copying and pasting the originator’s web address to it. <Hold wrists out for the slap!> However, I do have some 365 days challenges in the exact format by thinkwritten.com so I’m assuming they’re from the same source. Apologies to them, to you if it’s your list and not theirs (please let me know so I can edit with correct details).

A Fairy Tale for the Modern Age

Everything was dull and blue-grey; like an artist had painted a beautiful coloured picture and then given it a thin wash with the water from the rinsing jar. It was wet too, had been raining all night. Her bum was numb and damp, her hands were cold and while she wasn’t shivering, she wasn’t far off it.

Shifting her weight to one side she grabbed the wheelie bin she’d squeezed in next to late last night; the bin hut the only place she’d been able to find which looked half dry. Lifting the lid, she double-checked in the muted daylight for anything she may have missed when searching it in the orange-tinged half-light. No, only the greasy pizza box, slung in angrily when she’d discovered it only held a cold cheese string and two thin-as-you-like pizza crusts with scalloped edging where they’d been scoffed by someone earlier that night. They’d been her sole meal yesterday and her stomach gurgled and groaned as it played its rebuke.

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Photo by Ev on Unsplash

Squatting down between the bin hut and fence she quickly checked no one was around then pulled down her jeans and pants. Oh, the bliss of an empty bladder after a long night. It steamed in the cold as it left her body, cooling as it met the puddle of cold rainwater. She drip-dried, giving her undercarriage a quick wipe and then pulling up her pants and jeans wiped the hand down the back of the leg to dry it.

Unzipping her jacket, she took a swig from the water bottle, then reached down for the grubby rucksack she carried with her. Taking out a very worn toothbrush she brushed her teeth, then taking another sip of water ran it around her mouth and spat it out. Pushing the brush back to one side of the sack she zipped it up, repeating the same action with her jacket after returning the water bottle. No single-use plastics here. That bottle had been used for at least a fortnight now; topped up from the water tap in the public loos just off King Edward Street Bus Station.

Turning she thanked the bin hut quietly for its’ shelter last night then began to walk. The sounds of life had begun while she’d been freshening up; the cacophony of the human life, played out in birdsong, radios, televisions and the busy roads around the suburb. Marigold had no destination, and the start was so far away now she could see no way back.

A garden gate opened, and a man appeared. Busy tucking his shirt into his trousers as he walked to the car, he didn’t see her. She ducked behind the garden wall she’d just passed; didn’t want to be seen. He found his car keys, unlocked the car and called out towards the gate.

‘Shelly! I’m gonna be late!’

‘Alright! I’m coming Bob. Darius, make sure you lock up properly before school!’ She appeared rolling her eyes and forcing what looked like a sandwich bag into the top of her handbag. Leaving the gate, she quickly got into the car and they drove off.

Marigold squatted back down, squinting through the small gap left by the slightly open gate. As she peered through, she could see a young boy, about 10 or 11, rinsing something in the sink. She thought it strange that kitchen windows always seemed to look in onto sinks. Or, maybe it was that standing at the sink you could see the pile of rubbish across the matchbox-sized piece of dust; the only thing which appeared to have grown in this garden.

The door opened and the boy turned to close it. His mobile phone rang, and as he answered it, carried on walking, not noticing the door was closed but the catch had not fully engaged.

She waited for a full ten minutes in case he came back or that someone else would notice the door, but realised it was so nearly closed she was probably the only person who was aware. Straightening up she strode confidently through the gate, attempting to give off an air of belonging and ownership. Closing the gate behind her, she made her way straight to the door. It was open; only because the brushes surrounding it were new and hadn’t relaxed fully; they made a loud swishing sound as she opened the door. She stepped in, closed the door and stood in the silence enjoying the stillness.

Living on the streets was hard, but it was also noisy. Depending where she could find to stay would depend on if she was woken by a very rare glimpse of a milk truck ‘whatever happened to milk floats?’, the dustbin lorry and its’ respective bin men, or just the increasing hustle and bustle as the city awoke and its’ people began their days.

The house smelt strange; a combination of a musky perfume, a mustardy smell and a sugary-sweet odour. She could also smell and see freshly laundered clothes and towels; that smell reminiscent of Mum and the constant piles of laundry she dealt with; her joking she was scaling iron mountain for the afternoon and if she didn’t return to send the mountain rescue.

Marigold looked cautiously up the stairs and took them slowly and quietly in case there was an unknown occupant of the house she didn’t know about. The landing was dark but there were only 4 doors on it; 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and, opening the smaller door, the airing cupboard; now empty of the hot water tank it was stuffed full of toys, games, blankets and coats. That meant no one else was here. Breathing a huge sigh of relief, she quickly but carefully opened the other doors to confirm to herself she was alone. All the rooms were empty, although there was a startled, fluffy, black cat in the middle of the very large bed in the parent’s room.

Making her way into the bathroom she stripped in record time, ran the shower and stepped under it. Soaping herself all over and shampooing her hair felt blissful. The soapy water rinsing from her body to the bottom of the bath was grey-brown.

She found clean knickers in the bottom of the rucksack, put them on and . the dirty pair into a plastic bag she had there for that purpose. Slipping on a clean vest top she then pulled her jeans and jacket back on.

The sun was now shining as she made her way back to the kitchen. These people had left their breakfast in all stages of being eaten; like a bomb had gone off and they’d run for shelter; as if time had stood still. There was a plate with half-eaten toast; slathered in butter and marmalade, a bowl full of soggy chocolate shapes and another full of thick brown sludge, which she thought was claggy muesli. The toast rack was full, and the milk jug, butter, marmalade and open boxes of cereal were left where they’d been set down.

She sat down at the edge of one of the chairs, scared of leaving any dirt or grease behind. Helping herself to chocolate cereal she poured in a little milk and realised she didn’t have a spoon. She spat on the cleanest of the 2 spoons, cleaned it off on her vest then ate the cereal at break-neck speed. She buttered all the toast, added marmalade to half of it and bagged it in another sandwich bag.

Still anxious she’d be discovered but wanting to offer thanks for the shower and meal, she tidied the table and found the homes for everything. Running hot water into the sink she then washed everything and left it to drain, finishing by wiping the table.

Going back to the larder unit she added individually wrapped chocolate biscuits, a couple of packets of crisps and after adding them to her rucksack popped in a couple of bananas and apples from the fruit bowl, which looked as though they were more for decoration than for selecting to eat.

Checking around she smiled at the tidy scene in front of her. On a post-it note she wrote in large, clear handwriting.

Thank you for breakfast. I’ve cleaned up and will ensure the door is locked as I leave. Goldi x’

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A Snippet 2

Today’s snippet is a piece I worked on so long ago. It was before my Dad died back in 2005. I’d sat with him and talked at length about what he remembered from his time in Germany during the war. He was a very young child, but remembered using his Aunt and Uncle’s cellar when the bombers came and also playing with other children in the ruins of Berlin. I wanted to write his life story but it just never happened, despite my attempts since his death to write a fictional piece based on his life. This is the beginning of what was going to be the story.

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Image by Chandler Cruttenden via unsplash.com

Horst heard and felt the impact of the bombs as they hit their targets.  He looked at his beloved Letta and wondered how much longer they could continue to live this way; never sure if the cold, dank cellar which served as their bunker would be the last thing they would see, smell and know.  Letta smiled nervously at him as the ground around them shuddered as if with mutual fear, then a brief respite where everything seemed to sigh before the onslaught began again and once more they were resigned to the unknown.

There was a distressed gasp from the pile that up to now had been a sleeping youth.  As he woke Kurt felt not just terror but sickness for this ongoing, repetitive confinement. The weight of  their subdued atmosphere pressed in then draped, like an invisible curtain, over their lives day after day as they again heard overhead the bombers arrive with their relentless, punishing consignment to be dropped before disappearing into the darkness. He felt sure they must have families; daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers, lovers waiting for them to return and he wanted to run up the stairs, out onto the street and scream at the bombers to return home to their families.

Anna was desperate for the war to end.  She hated to see the uncertainty etched onto the faces of her sister and brother in law as they tried to cling on to their morale for her and her sons Kurt and Gerhard.  She was the youngest of seven and Letta was the eldest.  Fourteen years separated their births and sometimes Letta was more like a mother than a sister.  Her Horst was a proud man but desperation was slowly seeping into them all; the change gradual and unremarkable but still managing to penetrate the resolve of the strongest men, women or children among them. Horst’s resolve was no different; unhappy at not being able to provide a certain and safe future for his immediate or extended family. Anna had noticed the changes recently; his shoulders drooping where once they’d seemed wide enough to comfort everyone, especially the grieving.

Whispered rumours of the allied progress seemed to ride on the backs of the virulent swarms of flies emulating the incoming squadrons with their vigour and readiness to destroy the remains of what was left.  The gradual destruction and decay of their beautiful Berlin over the previous five years progressively increasing their feelings of uncertainty. This was despite the Führer’s declaration at the start of that year that the sorrow and hardships were worth it. The Führer’s plans to decimate all cities across the continent had not yet come to fruition and the people of his adopted country knew that the war was nearly over.  They knew he did not have the power to win against the force being directed at him.  They knew if they could hold on long enough they may be free; able to see another day, and that their time of living under this heavy oppression would be relieved, despite their fears and doubts for what the future held.

I’d love to hear what you think to this piece and the history surrounding it. Until next time! NN 🙂

 

 

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Writing Meme #17

Today’s writing meme is a quote from J.K Rowling. I love her idea and I don’t know many writers who would turn down a chance like this. Sitting and writing with hustle and bustle going on around me is enjoyable for me, although when I take a break from writing it’s great to people watch. I sometimes look at people and wonder what their stories are. The heavily pregnant lady with a baby in a pram, or the elderly couple sitting and talking about Trump. The group of 10 or 11 people who have pulled 3 tables together and huddle around them talking. Some great inspiration just from a couple of minutes. NN 🙂

JKRowling Notebook

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Writing Meme #16

This meme is great because I like to be unique and non-conventional – one of my aunts calls me ‘bohemian’. It was great to see that, as a writer, I’m not ‘normal’. I hope you’ll agree with me 🙂

Normal Ship

Initially, I was attracted to this meme because of the image. My Dad was a ‘Yachty’ and we sailed a few times off the East coast of the UK from where Dad moored the yacht – a beautiful place called Walton-on-Naze, which is between Ipswich and Colchester. You can sail there out to Hamford Water which is a nature reserve (we got permission to scatter Dad’s ashes there too and the Harbour Master took us all out on his boat followed by Dad’s Yachty friends saiing his Yacht ‘Seeking’ out while we did it. You can also sail up through between Harwich and the port of Felixstowe and sail up the River Orwell and under the Orwell Bridge but we always moored up or anchored, had a picnic lunch and then sailed back. I have some lovely memories, which also include sailing over to Shotley Point, eating a gorgeous lunch at the restaurant/bar there before sailing back to Walton. There was a lovely restaurant on Titchmarsh Marina where Dad moored the Yacht. It was called ‘Harbour Lights’ and they catered for all tastes and budgets. Great memories. Until next time NN 🙂

 

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The Farthest and A Brave & Startling Truth

The other evening I watched a feature length documentary about the Voyager missions to investigate the outer planets of our solar system. ‘The Farthest’  (Emer Reynolds), tells the story of what is described as ‘man’s greatest achievement’.

I discovered so much and really enjoyed hearing about the process of designing, building, launching and then the waiting as the Voyagers made their way through the billions of miles.

the farthest

 

Today, coincidence or not I was reading ‘Brain Pickings’ by Maria Popova (I receive a weekly digest of the pieces she shares) when I came across a piece about ‘A Brave and Startling Truth‘ by Maya Angelou – one of the very many people who were inspired by the results of Carl Sagan’s suggestion that the team turn the cameras towards the Earth, as the Voyager completed its mission and passed Pluto on the way to interstellar space. Initially, unable to spot Earth on the images, they then spotted a tiny spot of blue within one of the scattered light/sun beams.

In 1994, Carl Sagan described the Earth in the image as a ‘pale blue dot’  and this became the name of the photograph and Sagan’s bestselling book. He wrote:

everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives’ on this ‘mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.’

Carl Sagan Copyright © 1994 by Carl Sagan, Copyright © 2006 by Democritus Properties, LLC. All rights reserved including the rights of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

converted PNM file
Pale Blue Dot – image taken by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990

Maya Angelou’s poem was composed for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995. It was directly inspired by Carl Sagan’s naming of the photograph. I was moved when reading it today because of what is going on around the world right now. The ‘brain pickings’ post was a video of Astrphycicist Janna Levin reading the poem as part of the second ‘Universe in Verse‘ series, which is an annual charitable celebration of science through poetry. You can link to and watch the video here. But below is the full poem.

A BRAVE AND STARTLING TRUTH

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

“A Brave and Startling Truth” was included in Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry, which is available on Amazon.

Until next time. NN 🙂

 

blogging, Daily Challenge, Doing IT!, Journal Prompts, Short Stories, Writer's Prompts, Writing

Creative Writing Challenge

despisableTake a word generated from a random word generator and google an image for it. Write a story about/from that image. My word was ‘Despisable’. My image is this ↓although I’m not using the wording.

Your-false-Friendship

“That’s not what I said!” I shouted at her. “You never listen to me!”

“Go fuck yourself!” She choked back at me.

“It’ll still be better than any fuck you’ve ever given me…”

And I let those few words hang in the air as she stopped breathing, her jaw dropped and her eyebrows raised in that bloody cute way they always did.

Oh, I was in for trouble now, if she’d ever pick up her jaw from the floor! We’d had the grand total of six arguments in less than that amount of days, and we’d only been married for two of them.

The silence was as good as visible. Hues of hot Orange mist moving slowly through time; the slo-mo a cross between the upwards smash of powder paint and an artist’s airbrush. I was ok as long as the hue didn’t deepen into Red.

I coudn’t bear it anymore and turned to leave the room before my ear drums burst from the  pressure!

‘Where do you think you’re going?’ she chucked it out with as much venom as she could inflect.

‘Anywhere that’s not here!’ I did a heel spin and left the room, leaving the door open – I wasn’t going to give her more fuel by slamming it, although it took all my energy to resist.

I heard a strange, gutteral sound and turned to see her breaking down. At that moment, despite loving her more than anything I’d ever loved before I kept moving.

‘Disa!’ she screamed at me. ‘Don’t go. Don’t leave!’ As she gulped, I wanted to go back but pride was preventing me from returning to what was now a lousy day for the beginnings of our honeymoon.

The sun was shining and I took in a deep breath of sultry air. Italy was oven-hot but worth it for the joy of seeing the sights; landmarks I’d only ever dreamed of seeing. Sharing those joys with someone special ideally, although it seemed to have gone wrong a touch.

Jeez, what do I do now? I’m not going back to the apartment. Can’t stand arguing. We’d only just got up after a blissful, what I’ll just call a lie-in, to spare anyone’s blushes.  Last night was a long one and at some point had merged with the morning, a fact which we’d both been blissfully unaware. The reminders still tingled on my lips and skin and I could smell her on my hair.

I feel completely lost and I’m not behaving the way I usually would. I’d usually be the one trying to smooth things over, the emotional one, but something had just clicked inside and I felt like I didn’t want to be that person anymore. This bar will do. A beer in the sun will help calm me down.

Have you ever noticed how the biggest arguments start over the tiniest and most insignificant things? Well, this was that. She’d mentioned that I still didn’t do what Chelsea did to satisfy her – I hope you read that with the sarcastic edge I wanted to convey. Silly bitch of an ex! If she wanted Chelsea, she should have married Chelsea! God, I wanted to have Chelsea stood in front of me right now so I could tell her how much I hated her! The woman was despisable! Two days into our marriage and there she was, getting in the way already.

The coffee was too small and didn’t hit the spot, so I ordered another and a double brandy and tipped the coffee into the brandy glass. The coffee cups here are far too small so it had to be that way.  It got me a few strange looks from the other cutomers and one of the cameriere, mind you he’d given us a couple of black looks in the bar last night when we’d sat holding hands and kissing over the table.

How long can you make a drink last? I wanted to neck it but I also wanted to sip at it and let her sit in the apartment thinking about who she wanted to be with.

I realised I’d been gone for nearly two hours, so I headed back. Expecting the door to be deadlocked I was surprised to find I didn’t need to even use the key and as I walked over the threshold saw that my case was packed, but so was hers.

I now felt the emotion rising and a tinge of panic. What the…

 

 

 

 

 

blogging, Daily Challenge, Doing IT!, Inspiration, Journal Prompts, Uncategorized, Writer's Prompts, Writing

Daily Challenge – Why Do You Write?

 

I’ve always been a writer. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t enjoy creating stories. As a young child pieces of my work were in 3 separate publications. I wish I had copies of them so I could scan and share them but sadly they’re long gone in house moves, etc.

I then moved on to poetry; writing a set of poems based on the seasons. When I found those recently they seemed so naive and just ‘wrong’ on so many levels! The bases are good, though they need major reworks before I’d share them.

pink hair

In my early 20s I wrote chick-lit-style stories and pieces à la E.L. James or which would look right in a Black Lace Novel.

In my 30s it was academic papers, as I studied towards a BA (Hons) in English Language. I attained a 2:1 and was ready for a break from the keyboard for a while once I’d graduated.

I write now because I love putting myself through several hours of stress  creating pieces which people will enjoy. I love playing with words and ultimately my aim is to write something mindblowingly beautiful.

I admire so many writers for their ability to tell a story. There are so many authors out there and trying to ist every great author or story would take me all night, however favourites for their ability to tell a story well, to affect me and use language beautifully are Sebastian Faulks, Diana Galbadon, Gail Honeyman, Margaret Attwood, Stephen King, Jessie Burton, Jojo Moyes as well as well as authors of the classics i.e. Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy.

My ambition would be to have a book published which would create the fuss Gail Honeyman’s ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ has. To evoke joy as well as sadness, to make readers both laugh and cry and to leave them wanting more, both from the story and from me as the author. Until next time! NN 🙂

 

blogging, Daily Challenge, Doing IT!, Journal Prompts, thought of the day, Uncategorized, Writer's Prompts, Writing

Daily Challenge

Today’s challenge again comes from kat-xx on tumblr.

Seven Things That Cross Your Mind A Lot  

  1. Mortality – My family members and my own. I’m 49 and have an elderly Mum and Stepdad, my husband is coming up 58, I have an older sister – 50, and 2 younger sisters – 41 and 45.  Thinking about mortality has become a thing in the last couple of years but even more so this year.

My Mum has had one problem after another in the last few years and we’ve nearly lost her twice. Having been recently diagnosed with heart failure my mind is always wondering how much long she’ll live for, as for her age she’s very fragile. I saw her this morning and she was very tired and kept dropping off to sleep on and off throughout the 90 odd minutes we were there.

mortality
Picture from Time.com

Just over a week before her 50th my sister had a stroke. She’s recovering well and is back at work but you can see differences in her since it happened and as I’m only 13 months younger than her it does make me wonder if there’s something on the horizon for me., although 2019 has been a better health year for me. I made a conscious effort to make changes to my diet and lifestyle and follwed an 800 calorie a day eating plan which reversed my tpe 2 diabetes. A great side effect of the eating plan was that I’ve lost 2 clothes sizes and in total 22 and 1/4 inches from my thighs, hips, tum, chest and spare tyre. It’s the visceral fat I was hoping would reduce and it’s certainly majorly reduced. I feel much better in myself too. Thankfully, my husband has supported me (he always does) and he’s also lost weight and visceral fat.

2. Writing – ..and all that entails. I have days where I get a lot of ideas and days where I get no ideas at all. Like my thoughts on my Writing Meme today Writing Meme #10 I usually do a writing exercise using randomly generated words. The best one I’ve found is Text Fixer as they offer other tools, including a doc. to html facility.

3. Our Son – He’s 24 and lives on the south coast. He’s currently going through some difficult times and with him being so far away (we’re on the East coast) I’m always conscious that if there were an emergency it’d take us 3 1/2 hours non-stop (with no traffic) to reach him. Thankfully, there are no urgent needs right now. I’d love him to live closer though so I could be within a short drive or train ride.

4. The U.K and it’s future – You’d have to have been living on another planet the last 3 years if you didn’t know about the U.K, the referendum on whether we should leave or remain the European Union and the subsequent fallout. Two new Prime Ministers later and we’re no further firward but stuck in the mud with no deal for leaving amicably and ever worsening relations within our own parliament and with Europe and its’ leaders.

uk brexit

5. Pollution/Global Warming – I wrote about my feelings regarding the plastic pollution issue only yesterday within the post I wrote to accept my nomination for The Liebster Award 2019.

I’m frightened every day for the future of my son and his children and grandchildren. There are so many extreme weather occurrences happening, believed to be caused directly by global warming; the continued use of fossil fuels releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide & greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and I have huge concerns regarding the deforestation of large areas to keep up with the increase in demands for palm oil – these farms are wiping out huge areas of oxygen-releasing trees – those trees which act as the lungs of the Earth. They’re also killing Orangutans whose habitats have been destroyed to make way for the palm oil farms. With nowhere else to go these animals then enter villages and oil plantations in search of food where they are then capture killed by the farmers who treat them as pests. The area destroyed to make room for palm oil farming now equals the size of New Zealand.Global_warming

The current Amazon forest fires are adding to this concern in a major way, especially this year; The increased rates of fire counts in 2019 led to international concern about the fate of the Amazon rainforest, which is the world’s largest carbon dioxide sink and plays a significant role in global climate change. Added to that continuing plastic production, plastic pollution, most-especially affecting our oceans and marine life to the extent the reefs are dying and many species are dying or failing to thrive. This then impacts the food chain of many countries and there’ll be higher incidences of famine.

There’s a great post from last summer by the Earth Institute, click Climate Change and the picture below illutstrates all of the areas at risk.

Elements at risk from Global Warming
Picture from USA Today

 

6. Inequality for the disabled (including lack of access and facilities). I get so frustrated when I’m out using my wheelchair. There are still so many places which remain inaccessible to the disabled. A wooden ramp costs just pence in the grand scheme of things so businesses with older buildings should be able to provide a ramp if a disabled person wishes to use their shop/cafe/restaurant/pub/office/conference room/etc.

I booked on to a conference and after paying for my ticket thought I better check the accessibility for the buiding. I was horrified to find the conference was taking place in a first floor conference room and there were no options for disabled attendees. In the end they hurriedly arranged a Skype link so I could hear the conference and join in. They apologised because they’d just not considered the needs of anyone disabled who may wish to attend.

wheelchair-and-stairs

I was in town with a friend and we decided to use a restaurant. My friend had to step in and ask if they had a ramp. They managed to bring one from the back of the restaurant and get me inside but due to wanting maximum covers there was just no room for my friend and I to sit comfortably without my being knocked every time the waiter or other patrons walked by.

I don’t want this to sound like it’s all about me as I’m not the only person who is in need of this access and these facilities. Some places are so disabled user friendly these days but I don’t want to always be using modern, clinical buildings. I want a bit of atmosphere and history. I would like inclusivity. It’s not asking for the world but just a bit more of consideration for all.

7. Food – As I already said I changed my way of eating earlier this year. As a type 2 diabetic – now in remission – I am still a carb addict and I have to deal with the addiction every day. I fall off the wagon and eat a bread roll, or the odd (large) box or bucket of popcorn but am trying to get to grips with it and keep things under control.

popcorn

I’m not proud to say  that I’m struggling a little at the moment. I haven’t gone mad (apart from the popcorn) but a little dirty carb (things made from refined flours  i.e bread, crackers, cakes, pastries, and sugars i.e cakes and pastries, sweets/candy, and also those carbohydrate meal accompaniments such as rice, pasta, potatoes, noodles),  are making their way slowly back in to my life.

The maintenance part of my new way of eating (WOE) is to gradually introduce some dirty carbs back into the eating plan, however I am supposed to still be following an 8-12 week plan. Whilst my BMI is only 0.4 points from a weight considered to be ‘normal’ I still have a further 4 inches to lose from my waist in order to be considered at a lower risk of slipping back in to diabetes. With 8 inches gone already the last 4 should be easy but it’s getting harder, especially with the weather turning cooler and the nights drawing in. These are the days of thick soups, stews with dumplings and casseroles, where salad becomes scarce or looks odd on your plate.

Thankfully, I’ve only been eating a form of dirty carb at lunch time (2 slices of milk loaf or 4 crackers). At dinner time my carb substitute is either a salad or cauliflower rice with other steamed veggies. I think I may have to swap out the dirty carbs at lunchtime so I can have a single dumpling or yorkshire pudding with my dinner.

What sort of things cross your mind? Are mine normal? Let me know in the comments as I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts. Until next time! NN 🙂

 

Daily Challenge, Doing IT!, Writing

Daily Challenge

Today the writing challenge comes via SarahSelecky’s Pinterest post, as per…

sarahsNow, as of today I have never written anything creative here; my posts are made up of daily challenges and if I’ve done something I want to share around my interests then I use that.

My confidence is a writer is relatively low. It’s so difficult to share, even with friends or family, and when they give me positive feedback I wonder if they’re just being kind, don’t want to hurt my feelings, etc.

So today is the day when I share a small creative piece inspired by the challenge. This is going to be done instantly. I have no idea where this is going to go. Deep breath, here goes…

10…nights until he’s home. It’s been so long since he left that it feels like an eternity. I never really thought he’d go. He signed the papers, got prepared and we said goodbye over..

9…nights of drinking, partying and making love like we’d never see each other again. I miss the intimacy, miss his eyes and his smile; I could literally see his soul when I looked into his eyes; everything was there, laid bare, like items laid out on a table – much as his stuff had when he’d chosen what to take with him. His touch was thrilling and when he kissed me; a trail from my mouth, down to my neck, counting to..

8…he spelt out the letters I…L..O..V..E…Y..O..U. Eight letters, three words, one meaning. He took my breath away as this was the first time he’d said it; the first time in..

7…full months of dating. Seven months of there never being enough time in the day to share everything I wanted to share with him, or that he wanted to share with me. How do you know when someone is the one? Does a clock tick? Does something physically change in you, or is it just instinct? And then he was gone.A ..

6..month posting to the Falklands with his department. What a time to go! We’d only just declared our love and he was going! And then just one month later..

5..months I’ve been keeping my secret. I didn’t tell him because he’s so far away. Some of it is fear; will he come home to me only to leave straight away? Some of it is my own insecurity. But I’ve been kept busy; making changes to my life and my flat, getting ready to move if I have to, but staying if…I can’t bear to think of life without him. Will he accept his new future?

4..times my parents have asked me to slow down. The trip to the doctor’s surgery after the result of the tests stunned me. I really needed him, needed his support, but I made the decision to go through this on my own, after all whatever his decision it wouldn’t make a difference to my body. So here I am, making plans for…

3…weeks time, when he’s been home for ten days, and seen that for us…

2..life is changing and when it does, whatever day, there’ll be..

1..beautiful baby princess to love, and if my hopes and dreams come true there’ll be..

0…separation, only love and joy for a new life.

Phew! I have no idea where that came from but I’ve now done something I’ve never done on a public platform before. From now on I guess I’ll have to share some stuff I have in those 28+ folders! Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

blogging, Random Thoughts, thought of the day, Writing

Ready to write

It’s been a busy time here and I’ve not been able to get around to writing this blog or posts over on my Facebook page. After just over 5 months since we got the keys, the newly-built orangery is finished and the whole living area is now decorated and the floor is down. We’ve been able to unpack our Books, DVDs, CDs and ornaments. Sunday and Monday felt as though we were moving again as all the boxes were brought up from the garage! I was so excited.

Unpacking is a reintroduction to those items you’ve saved as they’re special for one reason or another and it’s amazing how those things we collect can help a space feel like home. I feel so much more settled and comfortable with our things around us.

This all means I can now sit somewhere and write (until my studio is completed – which will probably be in a couple of months as other things have to take priority).

I have 4 pieces of work on the go. 2 are book-length prose (1 chic lit and 1 9-11 children’s book) and 2 are for writing competitions which end in May and June. Time to sit at the keyboard and put one word after another until all 4 are done…easy and hard but exciting!