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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lots to Celebrate on Blogworld

  • Pop over and welcome Julie's bundle of joy - WARNING he is the most gorgeous newborn EVER!!

  • Caroline didn't get Simon Cowell (a blessing in disguise maybe?), but she did get her pink socks!

  • Ces had her hostess symphony!

  • Trish gave a special treat to her Modern Extra readers... *phew*!!!

Christmas 2006

Christmas is all about family. Gray's Mum & Dad were due to spend Christmas Day, all day on the 27th, and New Year's Day with us as they usually do. Carers' were cancelled, arrangements made. Having had a not great year myself health-wise, and knowing we'd have lots to celebrate with Gray's degree this year, I pushed the boat out and ordered Christmas dinner in advance via M&S way back in October.

M&S did us proud. We collected everything on the 22nd and had nothing else left to worry about. I'd been buying presents for everyone online since the end of October, and come the middle of December everything had been wrapped and sent where necessary.

Christmas was sorted. Okay, we should have known when Gray's Mum received a call on the 18th to say she had to go in hospital on the 20th for a standard operation (that should have happened month's before), that nothing would go to plan. She was due to come out on the 22nd, so, ever positive, we said it'll be good to get it out the way before Christmas.

The operation went well. Now we could all look forward to Christmas even more. Then came the phone call on Christmas Eve - Gray's Mum had picked up a rather nasty virus in hospital. There was no way they could make it for Christmas dinner. Carers' were thankfully re-instated at the last minute, so at least Gray's Dad would get some help.

Christmas dinner came and went. Everything went perfectly - even my Yorkshire puddings (which were home-made) - typical!! When we'd all had (and enjoyed) our dinner, Gray nipped across town with his Mum & Dad's share, where they too enjoyed it.

Positive as ever, we all said to each other, we'll at least get the 27th together. Out of the blue late Christmas night I was in excruciating pain for an hour which wiped me out for Boxing Day. Relieved that the pain had gone, I enjoyed the day much more than I might have :-) (there's nothing like a bit of pain to put everything into perspective ;-))!

The good news (for me) was Gray was doing all the cooking on the 26th/27th (buffet food) so it didn't matter if I wasn't up to it. I could just sit and enjoy his Mum & Dad's company. Then came the telephone call on the 26th. Gray's Dad had now caught the virus - and they wouldn't make it on the 27th either!! Sometime later Gray took some of the buffet food across town for his parents.

We all missed Gray's Mum and Dad, but with retrospect I realised how wonderful Christmas had still been. DD & DS loved (and are still loving) every minute and I even won a round of Uno!

DD has also had her plans for tomorrow dashed. Her cousin's over on a rare visit from Australia and was coming to stay with us for a couple of days - we were going to take her to the panto and, DD & her friend had also arranged to take her for a meal. DD then planned to go back down south with her, stopping off en-route in London, and spending New Year's Eve at a big family party. I hadn't seen DD's cousin for over 15 years and was also looking forward to catching up. That was before we heard British Rail had decided to go on strike and scuppered ALL these plans!

D'you know something? I'm not planning anything for 2007...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Santa came a little early to our house. Our family's main present to each other is this monster of a television you can see here. It's the result of all the hard work everybody did to ensure we got our rental deposit back from our old home when we moved.

Believe me, the prospect of this television worked as a brilliant carrot, and ensured everybody did their bit. We saved £££s not having to spend money on professional cleaners/gardeners etc.

We all love watching movies, so we thought we'd arrange for Santa to bring something we could all enjoy together - Friday Night Movies have never been the same since.

However you spend this Holiday Season

May Santa bring you everything you've ever dreamed of.

a truly MAGICAL

With lots of love,
Sue, Gray

Friday, December 22, 2006


WOW!! I can't believe I enjoyed yesterday as much as I did - especially as *wait for it*... JASON DONOVAN didn't make the performance because he was ill.

Am I the biggest jinx around or what?! I have to say though that there was a massive difference to the disappointment I felt when compared with being stood up by Swayze, and that's because Jason's absence felt GENUINE.

Thinking about everything with the logical side of my brain, Jason has recently returned from the jungle in I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, coming from there back to the UK is enough to make anyone unwell!! Plus, Jason has two small children that are no doubt full of virus. Is it any wonder he's ill? *sigh*

I could rave on about the production for hours because it was FANTASTIC. I was VERY impressed with the three people we knew who were also starring in the show. Everybody in the performance was very talented, and for one of my DD's friends in particular I have a feeling that the West End stage isn't too far away for him.

I've seen a few productions over the years - and this was the BEST pantomine I've seen. It was more of a musical than a pantomine with plenty of audience participation. The contagious giggling coming from the little girl in front of us was all the proof we needed that the children were LOVING it, and let's face it, that's what panto is all about - the children.

Oh, and while Jason didn't make it in person, he was there in spirit and voice. He gave us a lovely welcome as the patron of the local production company. Here's one review I've found this morning in The Stage, so you can see I'm not being biased.

All that's left for me to say is, if you ever have the opportunity to go and see a Polka Dot Production I highly recommend it - you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JASON DONOVAN is dropping in on MY town TONIGHT to appear at a special gala performance for ALADDIN.

My FIL is visiting today and kindly brought with him a copy of today's local paper where I read about it. Within seconds I was on the phone to the theatre and I managed to get two tickets (for DD & I) four rows from the FRONT. There were only SIX SEATS LEFT in total!!!!!!!!!


JASON DONOVAN - I've LOVED him ever since I saw him in the WEST END production of JOSEPH. And guess what? He isn't too high and mighty NOT to turn up when he's expected (Okay, so now I'm jinxing things again).

My wonderful hubby is kindly driving DD and I there and back, so even though I'm very vertigoed/dizzy I'll be okay. The theatre's only 5 mins away which means JASON is THAT close...!!!

My DD has TWO (note the correction!) friends in the show, and I also know someone in it too. We were planning to go and see it on the 29th (when we have a cousin from Australia staying with us), so now we're going to see it TWICE.

JASON DONOVAN!!!! (It was his performance in Joseph, that inspired me to go for my dreams and start writing back in 1991). Maybe seeing him again in 2006 will bring me further inspiration and I will submit a full manuscript in 2007. Maybe. You never know...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I've Done It...

I think!

For anybody thinking of transferring their existing Blog to Beta Blogger:
  1. Copy and paste existing template into a Word (or other) document.
  2. Be warned - you WILL lose ALL side links and other personal data.
  3. Don't panic - IF you've saved the back-up copy of old template.
Oh, one other thing - don't choose an unnaturally busy time of year (eg. CHRISTMAS) to transfer your blog!!

Grrr @ Beta Blogger

Note to self: DON'T PANIC... Normal Service WILL be resumed shortly
(or as soon as Blogger decides to co-operate - on second thoughts it may take some time!!)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A New Year, A New Blog

A new Blog in addition to this one, that is!

Gray reviewed a book this year that unfortunately turned out to be a no-go for the review site it was intended. Both Gray and I loved the story so much that we decided we needed to create a platform where we could post his review - and reviews for any other romance story unable to find a home.

I am now ready (or as ready as I'll ever be!) to go 'live' with this new Blog, so here are the details:

It's called ROMANCE REVIEWED. This is where both Gray and I plan to review every book we read from now onwards. These are going to be reviews with a difference (and this is where I feel a little nervous). Gray has been a professional reviewer since before I knew him, and as such, believes that if and when we come across a negative in a book (in our view), we should mention this too.

Being a writer, and knowing how hard a book is to write, I took some persuading that we should review all romance books - even those we haven't enjoyed (and explain the reason). Our review blog will have a section called Pet Peeves, and this is where we'll mention any personal views that niggle us.

The most important thing to remember when reading a review, is that it is ONE person's opinion. For example, books that Gray doesn't enjoy I LOVE and vice-versa. Any comments that either of us make are not intended to be personal against the author who wrote the book. Merely a reader's viewpoint and the feelings experienced while reading the book.

I feel I must point out that although the majority of my reading right now is category romance, this doesn't exclude any other type of romance. So, over the course of the coming year you'll hopefully find a mixture - including ebooks and chicklit.

We're happy to read and review most books, however, we do require an ebook to be available in book format too - i.e. paper. This is largely because we both spend enough time on the computer as it is, and we both like to hold a book in our hands when we're reading and take a break from the screen.

So, if you're an author of romance and you'd like us to review your book, please email us. If your book fits the rules of other review sites (e.g. PHS) then you'll get two reviews for the price of one because we'll adapt our reviews to fit those too.

Both Gray and I are happy to read more-or-less anything, but in fairness to the author requesting a review, I feel I have to warn you that my reading tends to be slower nowadays. Be assured that any book we are sent to review will be prioritised above our other reading.

Jessica Raymond - Haunted Hearts

When Beth Albright comes to Hoblington Grange to perform a paranormal investigation, she is blissfully unaware that her client is Sam Aston-Wilkes, her first love. In the gathering storm that greets her, the house she has come to examine seems almost alive, and the terrible pressure only grows when Sam reveals the heartbreaking truth about why he broke up with Beth. He seems determined to protect her by any means, even if he can't protect himself, yet all she wants to do is solve his problems. Problems that could cost Sam everything... Beth’s doubts about whether she can fix the shattered heart of the man she never stopped loving begin to increase as the forces of the Grange, both past and present, close ranks to influence Sam and Beth’s destiny. Will they make it through the storm, or will their love be doomed to fail, as those who have gone before them?

Gray Says:

Jessica Raymond’s short novel is a heady mixture of romance, supernatural and thriller elements that gel together into a satisfying whole. Of the three genres, the emphasis is on the romance throughout, and it’s here that the author is at her best: she carefully crafts two entirely believable characters, who must overcome obstacles – both external and self-made – in order to find happiness together. The author’s special touch is in making her characters feel real, and it’s the little things that do that; for instance, their mannerisms and personal quirks. Jessica Raymond proves to be a mistress of the art of description and there are many beautifully written scenes in the novel; descriptions of eyes glinting in the moonlight are guaranteed to send a shiver down the spine of any reader. The sexual tension is palpable throughout and the overwhelming emotion of the story makes some scenes intensely romantic.

The paranormal aspects of the story will be familiar to fans of modern ghost-busting television programmes (e.g. Most Haunted) and the author goes for subtle moments rather than outlandish spirit manifestations. As a result these scenes are all the more believable. The end of the novel contains multiple climaxes as our hero and heroine find themselves facing their deepest fears and the intervention of a violent sub-plot makes for edge-of-the-seat stuff. Throughout the novel there is a great sense of location and atmosphere. Hoblington Grange is almost a secondary character in itself; the description of cobwebby attics and hidden priest-holes is a great plus for any mystery lover.

The hero, Sam, is tormented by what he feels to be a personal flaw, setting the scene for many anguished moments as he is forced to confront his past and come to terms with who he is as a person. In contrast, Beth is a heroine who has just the right balance of assertiveness and loveliness. Jessica Raymond splits the narrative so that the reader shares the point of view of both hero and heroine, and the technique is pulled off effectively, adding to the overall emotion of the storyline. All in all, Haunted Hearts is a top-notch romance with an added frisson of paranormal intrigue to entrap any reader.

Overall Rating:

Jessica's book can be bought here

Monday, December 18, 2006

Last Tag of the Year (Promise!)

Jess said on her blog: "I'm not going to tag anybody to do this list, because I'll be able to hear the groans from here! So, instead, if you *think* I would have tagged you for this list (or you would just like to do it), please feel free to do so and let me know so I can come and read.

How could I resist that invitation?

So here it is, things I've done shown in BOLD:

1. Used real snow to make/eat a snow cone

2. Slept in your car while parked at the side of the road
3. Didn't go to bed until 4 in the morning on New Year's Day (once upon a time)
4. Dyed an Easter egg, using all the colors available
5. Catch a scent on the air that reminded you of something from your childhood
6. Taken a picture of the sky because it was a remarkable shade of blue that day

7. Caught a fish and cleaned it yourself, then cooked it for dinner
8. Wished you bought two pairs of your favorite shoes
9. Made a list like this

10. Taken art lessons
11. Taken ballet lessons
12. Driven a really scary stretch of road
13. Read a book from cover to cover in one sitting (rare nowadays though)
14. Written a letter to your Congressman (MP)
15. Changed political parties

16. Made a boat yourself, and sailed in it
17. Worn mismatched shoes by accident
18. Been so happy you wanted to burst into song
19. Watched Barney, as an adult, without becoming annoyed
20. Thought you could walk to Sesame Street
21. Invented something
22. Came up with a new recipe
23. Snorkeled or dived a coral reef
24. Been in a shark cage
25. Been told that a character in a Nora Roberts book reminded a friend of you
26. Howled in the car with your kids
27. Loved someone so much your heart hurt
28. Painted a house

29. Painted a picture in the style of a famous painter
30. Seen the Mona Lisa
31. Seen the Hope Diamond

32. Been the president of the PTA
33. Sat on Santa's lap...as an adult
34. Lost your spouse *Edited to explain that I don't mean lost as in no longer of this earth, but 'lost' as in going out on a trip with them and losing them!!! (But you knew that, right?!)
35. Driven a race car
36. Eaten fried okra
37. Climbed Mt. Everest
38. Seen Mt. Rushmore
39. Saved a baby bird that had fallen from its nest
40. Tried a food you always thought was gross and discovered you loved it
41. Been to Hawaii
42. Been to Africa
42. Had an "old-time" picture taken with your family, your friends or alone
43. Made good friends via the Internet

44. Met a movie star
45. Seen the Queen of England in person
46. Indulged in a tinsel fight while decorating the Christmas tree
47. Attended a family reunion
48. Couldn't turn out the lights for the night after reading a Stephen King novel

49. Gone on a cruise (not yet, but plan to)
50. Can you remember where you where the day the Challenger exploded? (No, not clearly. Last tragic event I have burned forever in my memory is the death of Princess Diana)

Anyone else got time to post their list?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tagged (again!)

Tagged over on Jessica's blog (did I mention again? ;-)). I nearly gave up on posting it because Blogger seems to have lost the draft I did (or I forgot to save the draft), either could be possible!

So, four things:

Four jobs I've had: (Oh my... where do I start?!)
1. Secretary (far too many to list)
2. Civil Service (Unified Grade in Prison Service and London Borough Housing Advisory Assistant)
3. Franchisee in Legal/Professional Services
4. Retail including owner/manager of Newsagent (yayy on the magazines/sweeties...)

Four places I've lived: (Only 4?)
1. Kent
2. Essex
3. Rutland
4. Lincolnshire

Four favourite foods:
1. Roast dinners with Yorkshire pudding and lashings of mint sauce.
2. Chips (the naughty ones)
3. Strawberries
4. Baked Beans

Four movies I could watch over and over:
1. All Julia Robert's (especially Pretty Woman and Notting Hill)
2. Pride & Prejudice (both versions)
3. Amelie
4. Chocolat

Four TV shows I enjoy:
1. Our New Life in Everwood
2. Neighbours (sshh... old habits die hard, blame Jason & Kylie)
3. ER (& UK medical soaps including *cough* Doctors *cough*
4. Friends

Four places I've travelled:
1. St. Tropez (south of France)
2. Malaga (southern Spain)
3. Paphos (Greek side of Cyprus)
4. Scotland

Four places I'd like to visit:
1. Australia
2. Venice
3. Tuscany
4. U.S.

Four websites I go to daily: (or as often as I can)
1. Google Personalised Homepage
2. eHarleqin
3. Blogs
4. OU Conferences

Four people I tag to do this list:
1. Gray
2. Caroline (because I've never tagged her before)
3. Trish (now she's out of her cave and if she hasn't been tagged already)
4. Everybody else who'd like to join in - go on, you know you want too. ;-)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm Back!

Or at least my writing is :-D.

In the middle of the night on Wednesday (a few hours before we had even more to celebrate) my writing came back to me. Or rather my characters did.

As you’re probably all well aware of by now, at 30,000 words I lost my Medical. But, what you perhaps didn’t know is that I also lost my writing, per se. My brain became a dried up desert. Any new ideas were a mirage, as soon as I tried to grasp them they vanished.

I didn’t get it. Yes, I was disappointed that my Med could be no more, but why couldn’t I just get on with writing something else? Well, I now know the answer to that: My original characters wouldn’t let me!

Kate and Matt were real to me, with a real story to tell. The problem was they were stubborn, and as anybody who knows my character traits will tell you, I can be stubborn too. So what we had was a battle. I wanted to finish Kate & Matt’s story (I’m loyal too), but they wouldn’t stop being a midwife and an obstetrician, and I couldn’t work in a hospital setting anymore. They left me no choice; I had to drop them for the time being and move on to a new story. Only, as I’ve already mentioned, I’d become a desert where coming up with new characters and ideas were concerned.

Then out of the blue (or should I say the dark?!), when I should’ve been sleeping, Matt and Kate both spoke to me.

“We’re missing you.” Kate said.
Aww, bless her I thought, she’s so sweet. “I’m missing you too.”
“Okay, we give in.” Matt interrupted. “You win.”
“I do?” I queried.
“Yep. We’re ready to compromise!” he snapped. He didn’t seem very happy about it.
“What Matt’s trying to say is we’ll have a change of profession, if you keep our story the same.” Kate explained.
“Ah, I see.” I lied. I was so very tired, all I wanted was to go to sleep.
“I never liked being an obstetrician anyway.” Matt grumbled.
Ahh, I thought as I began to have a light bulb moment, so that’s why he kept confusing me by changing to a paediatrician whenever he thought I wasn’t looking.
“I liked my job as a midwife.” Kate reminded me, “I’m going to miss all those babies.”
Had I been in any doubt before I began to realise what a huge concession Kate and Matt were making.
“How about if you change to being a primary school teacher?” I offered.
“That’s what I’d been secretly hoping you’d make me!” Kate exclaimed.
“Now we’ve got that sorted,” Matt yawned, “I’m going back to bed.”
“Hey mister, you both woke ME up, remember?!”
“Yeah, yeah. Goodnight.” Matt disappeared taking Kate with him.

So, that’s where I stand with my writing! Kate & Matt are going to (fingers crossed) become suitable for the Romance line after all. But before I get stuck in, I have a little research to do…

Thursday, December 14, 2006



Gray received his final exam results today - he has achieved a 2:1 degree classification from the Open University!

I can't begin to tell you how much this means to us. It's the result of four year's hard work and dedication. The past two years has seen Gray studying full-time on top of everything else he's had to contend with.

His dream has always been to get a 2:1 classification, but there was always a chance he'd graduate with a 2:2, which although would have still found me celebrating, would have left Gray feeling disappointed.

Please join me in a toast to celebrate Gray's achievement:

BA (Honours) Humanities with English Language & Literature

and let's not forget the TWO diplomas:
English Language

Finally Gray can believe what I've always told him - that he can do it.
This is just the beginning of his success...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My Writing and Other Goals for 2007

My goals for 2007 have become more flexible - at least I've learned something from 2006!

I've decided that I will join the RNA in January (I've recently had my doubts), but I've had to make a proviso with myself (and it's not going to be easy to stick with it). I'm not going to expect to be well enough to attend the RNA events that I want to :-(.

I'm joining to get the benefit of the critique and that's it. Initially I wanted to attend everything, especially so I could meet other writers in 'real' life, but if I give myself specific expectations I know I'll end up letting myself down. So, the conferences/parties/workshops can wait until another year if they have to. It's the critique I need, and the RNA provide excellent value for money.

I almost talked myself out of joining because for me, the conferences/parties/workshops are what joining is all about. However, a professional critique elsewhere would cost around £150 plus, so joining the RNA makes a lot more sense. I'm also confident that my manuscript will at least be read by somebody familiar with Harlequin Mills & Boon and romance.

Basically what I've also done is taken myself out of the race. Writing isn't a race. Yes, I've harboured my dreams and intermittently worked towards them for over 15 years, but they're not going anywhere. Harlequin Mills & Boon will also still be around. I don't think speed wins the race anyway. It's persistence and determination.

The market has changed since I last submitted in the early '90s. It's even more important to make what you do send polished and well written. It's a worldwide playing field now and competition is fierce. I'm not going to submit my work until I know it's as good as it can be. I'm secure in the knowledge that my aim is to be published with Mills & Boon, so I at least know where I'm going. And, I know I will get there - but when I'm ready and not before.

2007 will also see me resuming my degree studies with the Open University. I've had a year's break. To be truthful, this is what I'm least looking forward to, but it's something I need to do. I'm halfway through my degree and if I don't go back to it now, I'll never go back. And it's important. It's an achievement that I need to do.

The good news is that since I started my degree back in 2003 the OU have added courses in Creative Writing. As well as getting a BA (Honours) in English Language and Literature, I can also get a diploma in English Literature and Creative Writing. So, if I choose to, after I get 2007's Level 3 English course out the way, I can finish the last two years of my degree doing what I love - writing. :-).

In summary, my goals for 2007 so far look like this:
  • Work with my health and towards achieving acceptance of my limitations
  • Join the RNA in January
  • Resume OU studies from February to October - resulting in a Diploma in English Lang
  • Have a book written and ready to submit to the RNA by the end of August.
These don't include everything, but they are the goals that will be visible. I'll have something concrete to show for my efforts.

I have other more important goals that will benefit my family as well as myself. My children and Gray will probably be the only people to notice these achievements. But they, along with my faith, will be my priority for 2007.

I'm looking forward to 2007. Even if I don't achieve my ultimate dreams with my writing, I know I'll be well on my way. I'm in it for the long term and I know I'll get there one day.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


The plans I made (back in Nov 2005) for 2006 went pear-shaped. I started the year with these intentions:
  • Taking a year off from my Open University degree
  • Joining the RNA in January
  • Working on my Writers Bureau course
  • Working on my Chapter House course
  • Writing, polishing and submitting a M&B Medical Romance
  • Bon Jovi concert
And I had no idea I'd have to schedule in these plans:
  • We'd be moving again.
  • My health would be so bad.
  • My son would have to change schools.
  • Writing would become so hard
  • I'd change my mind about writing a Medical.
But neither did I plan:
  • that I'd start a Blog
  • that I'd meet so many wonderful people in Blogworld
  • that real friendships would establish from these
  • that my faith in Jesus would grow despite everything
  • that I'd move to a town and love it
  • that my children would be happier with the move
  • that I'd start making real friends with real people in the real world
  • that I'd become Editor of the local MS Society branch newsletter
  • that I'd become a Committee member of the above
  • that I'd love living closer to my in-laws
  • that both my children would do so well with their education
  • that I'd learn so much about my writing
For a while, I've felt disappointed with what I haven't achieved this past year. There have been many disappointments and many times when I've felt that everything's gone 'wrong'. But, when I look back, I suddenly realise it really hasn't been all bad. Hard, yes, but so many good things have come out of these things that it makes everything worthwhile and I wouldn't change a thing (except for my health for obvious reasons).

Perhaps 2006 hasn't been such a bad year after all.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thanks Jess!

(I think) ;-)

I was visiting Blogworld for the first time in days (wireless connection isn't reliable at the moment), when while on Jessica's blog, I noticed my name at the end of a very long list. A list that had sounded interesting up until that point, before I realised how uninteresting it would make me sound!

It's a 'tag' doing the rounds and we have to put in bold all the things that are relevant to our experiences. So, here goes.... make yourselves comfortable because it's a long one!

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
2. Swam with wild dolphins
3. Climbed a mountain (- sort of. In Cyprus we drove up as far as we could and walked to where the 'golf ball' and security fence was).
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said “I love you” and meant it
9. Hugged a tree -- for photo purposes only
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise( – not intentionally).
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (Crystal Palace Athletics with the school when I was 9 yrs old – saw Steve Ovette & Sebastian Coe (sp?) )
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg (does a lettuce count?) ;-)
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse (Grand National Sweepstakes at work)
29. Asked out a stranger (sort of, and ended up marrying him!!)
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland (On my ‘To-Do’ List)
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played Dungeons & Dragons for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie (my daughter’s (aspiring film director) ‘Not Haunted Live’ )
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
Ridden a gondola in Venice (On my ‘To-Do’ List)
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”

83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark

88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents

Been on a cruise ship (On my ‘To-Do’ list)
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror

96. Raised children

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a TV game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (air rifle in back garden when a teen – note to DS – NO YOU CAN’T HAVE ONE!
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse (fallen off more times than I’ve ridden!)
119. Had major surgery (does a D&C count?)
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school (does the Open University count?)
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad -- and the Odyssey
(On TBR shelf)
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language

141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair

147. Been a DJ

148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident (sort of – a VERY LARGE spider was involved)
150. Saved someone’s life

I tag anybody reading this who'd like to share their list. Just copy and paste this list and replace the bold to show what events on the list you've experienced.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas is coming!

Tomorrow and the coming weekend I'll be getting the decorations and the tree up. Christmas officially begins in our house once the tree's up, and officially ends on New Year's day when all the decorations come down.

It's not just the tree that'll mark Christmas. At the weekend, I'll be getting out the Christmas CDs. The kids will groan but they won't mind too much because there'll also be dishes around the house filled with chocolate and other naughties.

Hmm... just as well I'm planning to become more active. Perhaps I should start with the exercise bike...

MERRY CHRISTMAS to those who celebrate it.

My Life with MS

You may have noticed that (once again) I've not been around the blogosphere much lately. There has been loads going on here. I'm not going to blog about all of it because it involves others.

One thing I will blog about is *warning: rant alert* I AM SICK OF BEING SO DAMNED ILL ALL OF THE TIME!!!!!!!!! The problem is that Multiple Sclerosis is different for every person, no two people suffer the same things in the same way. One person may only be unwell during relapses and 'normal' when in remission.

In many ways I count my blessings because things could be a lot worse. But, on the other hand things could also be a LOT better.

I'm fortunate that thus far this unpredictable disease hasn't permanently affected a specific part of my brain. Instead, it's my brain stem that's been attacked and permanently scarred. Even when I'm not in an official 'relapse', and I'm supposedly in 'remission', I get weird symptoms EVERY day, and more often than not they make me feel yucky (every signal our brains send to our bodies has to travel through our brain stems).

I have random numbness that can affect any and every part of my body (ever tried walking with both feet/legs numb? Or, had a numbness/woolly feeling in your brain?). My most debilitating symptoms by far are the chronic fatigue and the dizziness/vertigo. I never know when they're going to hit me. These are only a few of the things my daily life is affected by, and the symptoms move around my body at random, meaning I never know how I'm going to feel at any given moment.

So, why am I talking about this? Because I've made a decision: somebody, somewhere has GOT to do something so that I can 'live' my life as fully as possible in between relapses. Nobody can know what the future holds for them, and God forbid that one day I permanently lose the use of my legs/eyes/... then, I'll look back on these days where I've been too 'yucky' to do anything, as wasted.

When I lose my legs/eye sight etc. for several months at a time in an 'official' relapse, it's amazing how accepting I feel about having MS. It's in between relapses that I struggle with it. And I've had enough. The medical profession have to realise how my everyday life is affected and do something about it. Or at least, admit to me that this is the way life is going to be from now on. Only then will I learn to accept my situation.

Today, I'm hoping I've had my first breakthrough. Usually I avoid doctors. Many (as in society in general) don't understand 'invisible' illnesses. Doctors like to go by text book symptoms, or at least symptoms they can see with their own eyes. MS is far from text book. Even neurologists (and I've seen some of the best) admit that the brain is the one area they still know little about.

I've now found a rare treasure of a doctor (new to general practice) who actually listens to me, and even appears to understand me. She seems determined to help me get my life back. For the past three weeks my eyes have been juddery, causing major nausea and dizziness. The doctor has thankfully reassured me that I'm not in a relapse, it's just another MS 'blip' affecting my everyday life.

She's prescribed me medication for the nausea and it works! There's nothing that can help my eyes from being juddery, but by controlling the nausea I'm hoping I'll be able to get out and about (although, I obviously still can't drive). I may even be able to do 'normal' things around the house.

For the next weeks I'm going to do whatever I have to do to get my health on an even keel and the MS under control as much as possible. Instead of refusing medication I'm going to try things that will help overcome the worst of the 'yucky' symptoms. Trouble is, all this takes what little energy I have.

If I'm hit with a relapse I know there's nothing I can do and I'll accept it. If I'm in between relapses I'm going to make damn sure that the medical profession are going to help me enjoy my everyday life.

Once I've got the MS under control I'm going to prioritise my writing and get this book finished. So, just to warn you, I might not be able to keep up with your blogs right now as much as I'd like. Internet has to be the least of my priorities for a while. I hope you understand. I'll still post on here (and hopefully Gray will too) when I've got something to say.

Until next time, take care, and HAPPY writing!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Just when I think I'm used to my life being a rollercoaster because of my health, it knocks me down again. The good news is I'm rarely kept down for long, and true to form I'm slowly climbing back up again.

My laptop has broken (again), and guess who forgot to email herself the last draft of her w-i-p?! Good comes out of everything though, right? Time away from my writing has helped me face up to a dilemma that I've been trying to ignore for some time: Should I really be writing a Medical right now?

These doubts have become stronger since I've finished my competition entry. While I didn't find it 'easy', I thoroughly enjoyed writing from an emotional perspective. An emotional scene without the backdrop of a medical setting.

We're getting close to the end of the year, and in a chat with Gray, it suddenly hit me that I've been quite ill in one way or another for most of it. Is it any wonder that I'm hitting problems whenever I try to write the medical bits?

Something has begun to dawn on me, maybe I'm a little too close in my 'real-life' right now to be able to face writing Medical? While I want to create the fab doctors that are sadly more often than not missing in real-life, maybe now isn't the right time for me to do so? I need some escapism from hospitals, doctors, and health issues.

I then began thinking about what I've been reading. Medicals? No. Tender/Romance and Modern Extras? Yes. Why am I reading these? For the sheer pleasure and enjoyment, and ESCAPISM.

But, I've come so far with telling Matt & Kate's story, what should I do? In desperation, having gone round and round in my head with it, I posted on an eHarlequin message board. With thanks to all the wonderful people who gave me their thoughts and insight, I'm now clearer about what I should do. Here's my revised plan:

1. I am NOT ditching Matt & Kate. I AM going to finish their story. However, I'm not going to write any more medical scenes. I'm going to focus on their relationship/romance without worrying about the word count.

2. I'm going to put this story to one side and brew and plan my next w-i-p with a major difference: It's going to be a Romance and not a Medical.

3. When I've finished this next first draft, I'll go back to Matt & Kate's story. Can I move them into a Romance setting? Or are they still too much like medical professionals? If they are happy to change their setting I'm going to rewrite it. If, as I suspect, they can't move their careers, I'm going to leave them again.

4. I'm going to remain focused on writing for the Romance line. Then, if and when I carve my dream career with HMB, I may at some 'healthier' time in the future revisit Kate & Matt in their medical setting...

5. Lastly, I'm going to stop creating dilemmas! I'm going to get on with the joy of reading and writing. I'm going to go wherever my heart takes me, because this is where my strength will lie.

Thanks, as always, for listening.

Monday, November 20, 2006

here's a link - my hat's in the header of the post and not in the post itself

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Part 2 of Carolyn Davidson's Interview

Last time, Carolyn told us about her research (or lack of it!), her inspirations and the nitty-gritty of the actual writing process. This time around, I asked whether she took any research trips to help her writing.


"My husband and I travel a lot, usually a research trip twice a year. We've gone to Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, where my May, 2007 story takes place, and to Arizona, where I found my characters for my first Harlequin Historical. One of my books is set in Michigan, where we originally lived for a lot of years. Many of my stories are set in Texas, where we have visited several times. Also the middle of the country is a favorite spot of mine, Kansas and Missouri are good spots for historicals."

It definitely seems that visiting your locations - budgetary limitations notwithstanding! - is a safe step towards success. And what of attending conferences and workshops on the craft of writing?

Carolyn answers:

"As my agent told me once, writing by the seat of your pants is not the accepted method, but it works for me. I tried going to workshops at the RWA National conferences, but it only confused me, and my agent told me to quit trying to learn how to write and just do what I'm doing. Sure took a load off my mind, since I felt that I surely wasn't doing something right, according to all the workshops I sat in on. Now, I just write and tell my stories."

Of course, this is not to say that conferences and workshops AREN'T useful - but if you don't get on with them, then don't feel bad! Carolyn's two decades of success - with over thirty books to her name as a romance writer - show that everyone is unique - and if something doesn't work for you, then don't fret about it. If you want to be unconventional, then by all means go ahead.


"I noted on the Internet that the UK is going to be bringing out a printing of my first HQN book, Redemption, that came out here last January. I wrote that sucker in three weeks, spending long hours in front of my computer, sleeping very little and literally living what I wrote."

Three weeks? Isn't that a record? And what of the finished product?

Carolyn's reply:

"It is by far my favorite novel of all I have written. I found the hero, Jake McPherson, in an earlier book I wrote, called The Wedding Promise, and when it was published, I received a ton of mail from readers who wanted to know if Jake would have his own book. It didn't seem likely, but I managed it by killing off his wife. Now, I don't recommend that twist, but it worked for this book."

Thanks very much Carolyn - for both your interview and your excellent stories!

Note: Redemption is due for publication in the UK in December 2006 as a Mills & Boon SuperHistorical and is available direct from the Mills & Boon online-store now.

Friday, November 17, 2006

An Interview with Harlequin M&B Historical Author Carolyn Davidson

I recently had the pleasure of reading The Texan, a Mills & Boon Historical Romance by Carolyn Davidson, originally published in the UK in 2005.

The Texan is set in the American West of the late 19th century and I enjoyed it so much, I went over to Carolyn's website and took the opportunity to fire off a few questions. She was kind enough to respond, and has allowed me to share her comments and advice on this blog.

I initially asked her about the period she chose to write about.

Carolyn's reply:

"As to what I write, most of my work takes place in the late 1800s, a favorite period of time with me. I have done a couple wagon train stories that took place fifty years earlier, but almost everything I write is in the 1880s or 1890s. I love the period."

Next to a love for the society in which her books are set, I discovered that Carolyn found an unlikely source to help her with the physical process of writing: learning Latin!

Carolyn explains:

"I took Latin, and we both know that it's dead as a doornail. But I learned a lot about words and their formation from Latin. It has really been a big help to me in my writing."

I next asked her about the one area of writing that's either loved or hated by authors: the dreaded research.


"As to my research, I fear I must disappoint you, for I don't do any. Except for a book on horses and the services of my sister-in-law who raises them, my dictionary and a general history book of the USA, I just write what I know."

A Historical author who doesn't do research? Wow!

Carolyn explains further:

"I visited my grandparent's farm when I was a child and learned how to do all the normal farm stuff, gathering eggs, feeding chickens and cows, pitching hay onto a wagon and into the loft, slopping the hogs, churning butter and shucking corn. When I write, I just go back in time to the life I led in those days, a life I dearly loved."

Now it all makes sense. Carolyn is lucky enough to have actually lived the type of life that she writes about in her Historicals. No wonder her books feel so authentic!

Let's get to the crux of the matter: what process does her writing take - is she a pantser or a plotter?


"My writing is rather loose, for I sit in front of my computer and see a video in my mind and I type frantically, getting down all the dialogue and actions of my characters as they act them out. "

"Now, I know this is not the recommended style of writing that RWA preaches, for I don't outline or plot or even write a decent synopsis, but for some reason, they keep buying the books and I just keep writing them."

Caroyln's atypical approach to the craft is one that pays off. In the UK alone, she's had the following books published in recent years:

A Marriage By Chance, The Texan, Tempting A Texan, Texas Gold and Texas Lawman. And she shows no signs of stopping.

Part 2 of the interview to follow. Come back when Carolyn talks to me about research trips, agent advice, conferences and how one very special book came about...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

*'Feline Catty' for Children in Need

This is my daughter in a practice run for College on Friday when she's hoping to raise money for BBC's Children in Need appeal.

With a little help from her Nan's knitting skills, and some artistic talent of her own, Charlotte's *'feline' more than a little catty!

Good Luck sweetie, and remember, every penny helps!

*play on words pinched from Gray's joke...!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Enid Blyton - and my other inspirations.

I was five or six years old when Enid Blyton came into my life. My Nan gave me my very first 'reading' book Come to the Circus, and from that moment I was hooked on both reading and Enid Blyton.

Nobody becomes a writer without first being a reader. By the time I was seven years old I knew I was going to be a writer "when I grew up." My first attempt was entitled The Secret Two, bearing more than a passing resemblence to Blyton's Secret Seven and The Famous Five!

At the age of 11, two major things happened to shape my life. The first was that my dear Nan died. For the first time I started keeping a diary, mostly influenced by The Diary of Anne Frank. Alas, I didn't keep it up for long. Some time afterwards I was also introduced to my first romance book, a Mills & Boon written by Anne Mather. For the first time, I began reading for escapism.

Within two years I'd hand-written my first 'real' story entitled The Hawaiian Dream. I still have a copy of my notes and the Holiday brochure I'd picked up from a local travel agents, to use as research and inspiration. No surprises either that my Heroine (interestingly named Charlotte - many years before I knew I would choose this name for my daughter) was recovering from the death of her beloved Nan.

By the time I was around sixteen I'd also become an avid reader of Catherine Cookson. I was awed by the fact that one of my school teachers had attended the same writers' group as Catherine Cookson (down in Hastings).

My other aspiration was to get married and have a family. I married at 17 years (yes, far too young - I know this now), and had my daughter when I was 20. My writing was put on hold.

In 1991 I went to see my first West End musical Joseph & the Technicolour Dreamcoat. Little did I know how much Joseph would become my motivation to try to achieve my dream of becoming a writer. Even now, when I listen to the soundtrack (Any Dream Will Do) it makes me feel quite emotional because it was the first time in many years since I'd regained my belief that I was 'meant' to be a writer.

Following a short holiday to Wales, my first Mills & Boon partial manuscript was born, entitled A Bid From The Heart. This was closely followed by my second, Word of Honour. Both submissions were rejected with what I now realise were encouraging rejections. The editors on both occasions asked to see more of my work, even though what I'd written so far hadn't been up to publishable standard, due to lack of emotional conflict etc.

I felt disheartened by my life in general by then and put my writing aside to focus on my two young children, and a necessary full-time job. Through a colleague I made contact with a former Mills & Boon Medical author Sarah Franklin, who very kindly invited me round her house one afternoon. She no longer wrote for M&B, preferring instead to write sagas under her own name of Jeanne Whitmee, but she provided me some much needed encouragement to NEVER GIVE UP.
It was Jeanne who sowed the first seeds in my head about writing for the Medical series, as opposed to Modern/Presents, who I'd targeted thus far.

Another few years passed and I sporadically returned to my writing - usually to submit short stories with a 'twist in the tale' to women's magazines. Rejection after rejection followed these submissions too.

Wow, this post has become rather long! For those who are still reading (!) I'll jump a few years and bring you to 2006. January 2006 I read a book by Rick Warren, entitled The Purpose Driven Life.
It was then all the missing jigsaw pieces fell into place. I am (and always have been) meant to be a writer. Writing is my purpose in life (as is being a Mother).

So here I am. Real-life still tries to stop me, but I know that I'm meant to write. I may not be published with my next book, or even the one after that, but I know one day I will be. Until that day arrives, I'll NEVER GIVE UP!

In case you're wondering why I've randomly written this long post, Sharon tagged me to blog about what inspired me to write. I therefore tag anybody and everybody who's read this far to write on their blog (or in my comments), what inspired them to write...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance Sunday

I was going to write a post, but instead, I'm going to send you over to Natasha Oakley because she's posted a beautiful tribute...

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Temporary Blip!

I never learn do I? No sooner do I find my 'zone' than I'm taken out again by whatever 'lurgy' Gray had. I can't even begin to tell you how frustrated I am.

However, I am still writing. Sort of. Well, 100ish words yesterday and again today. Problem is I'm in the middle of a romantic scene, and have you ever tried to write a hot kissing scene when you're bunged up with whatever virus this is?!

I am however still in control. I know that as soon as I can I'll go back to the groove/zone or whatever you want to call the writing routine I discovered pre-lurgy. And, although I'm not consciously writing too much at present I have been plotting subconsciously, and I almost know exactly what's going to happen when I get back to it (and believe me my characters will be grateful they've had a break!).

Thanks to everybody who's stopped by and left supportive and encouraging comments. And to stop you getting too bored waiting for my word counter to zoom, I thought I'd leave you with a slide show of a few books taken off my current To Be Read (a.k.a. TBR) pile:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


As Sharon noticed yesterday I've finally reached the 50% marker of my book!!! I was too tired then to celebrate, but please join me today with a glass of whatever you fancy, or as is more likely in my case, a cup of tea and choccy biscuit!

I've not found the past two days very easy, but I think I've finally found my 'groove' with my writing. It's taken me long enough - I've been working on and off this book (more off than on!) since March 2006!!

I now have a realistic timetable. The first draft will be finished by the 30th November, or soon after. I'm then putting it aside and allowing myself to enjoy the run up to Christmas. Of course, I'll also subconsciously be working on plotting and getting to know my next characters.

In the New Year I'll either, write the draft of my next book (or if I don't 'know' it enough), I'll return to polish and rewrite the one I've finished. Whatever happens, by April next year I'll have one book polished and FINISHED (hopefully submitted either to the RNA or HMB) or (as I'm hoping) my first book will be submitted, my second finished in draft mode and brewing on my third... (can you see a pattern developing here?)

It's an exciting and scary plan all at the same time. But, what's dawned on me this past week or so is, with enough self-discipline and willpower, it IS achievable!

How are your writing plans shaping up?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Mystery Solved - Thanks Sharon!!

Thanks to Sharon over at the Waterbutt, I now know that it's the actual Zokutou website that's been suspended and not any of us. PHEW!!!

also pointed me in the right direction for getting another word counter.

Many thanks for getting me out of my flap, Sharon!!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Who's Pinched Our Word Counters???

At first I thought the theft was personal. When I tried updating my wordcounter this morning I was told:
"This Account Has Been Suspended
Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible."

What have I done? I thought. Maybe this wordcounter isn't free after all? Maybe I owe some money? Maybe I've taken advantage and used too many...?

Then, I checked other blogs and discovered that everybody appears to be suffering from the same theft.

While relieved it's nothing personal, I'm not happy. Where on earth are we supposed to get another word counter from? I NEED to see that wormy thing growing. It makes the pain of adding to it worthwhile.

Hopefully it's a temporary blip, and not as Gray says, the website going bust.

Please let me know if you find an alternative.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Honourary NaNoWriMo Participant

I've done it!

I'm determined to complete my first draft by the end of November so I've joined eHarlequin's NaNoWriMo as an Honourary Participant.

I know I'm tempting fate, but I'm not going to let ANYTHING stop me writing 1,000 words a day. If I can write 1,000 plus per day I will reach the finishing line for my first draft!

The hardest part is switching off my internal editor. There's going to be a good chance that many words I write won't even make it into the final draft, but at least I'll have a full manuscript to rewrite.

The new self-disciplined me has already noticed a major difference with the writing I've been doing. Yesterday I finished the final draft of my short story entry for the Mills & Boon/Woman's Weekly competition.

It's the first short romance story I've ever written and if I'm to believe Gray and my CP I may have pulled it off. I'm not counting my chickens of being placed in the competition, but it will be great if later on I can submit it to one of our national magazines for consideration.

Happy writing to everyone and here's hoping real-life won't get in the way for all the other NaNoWriMo participants.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Trish's Pineapple

I couldn't disappear into my cave without first mentioning this book. I finished reading it this morning, and as usual Trish Wylie blows me away!

Knowing just how much Trish struggled with writing this book made this read even more special for me. As a reader I would have wondered what had made this book a 'pineapple', because it flows so easily and is such a joy to watch the story unfold. As a writer, I can feel the pain.

This book is full of emotion from start to finish. I loved both Maggie and Sean from the very first page. IMO the fact that they are two wonderful characters, with nothing to dislike in their personalities, makes it a VERY difficult story to write.

Trish has been blogging on eHarlequin this month and if you want to learn more about how this story became the 'pineapple', it's well worth a visit.

And, if you want a read that keeps you riveted from start to finish, O'Reilly's Bride is the book for you. Currently available on eHarlequin, Amazon for UK Readers, and Amazon.com

*quickly scurrying back to my cave to work on my own pineapple...*

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A bit of a 'blip'...

... but normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

I've not been around the blogosphere or internet much the past week or so. Several reasons for this but I guess they all boil down to the same thing - I just haven't had the energy. I'm used to not having physical energy but I've been feeling drained mentally too.

It hasn't helped that the family have been full of virus over the past weeks, and Gray succumbed to it too. He's better now, but it's been a looong two weeks.

Thanks to real-life getting in the way (for a change), I haven't done ANY writing. I'm starting to notice a pattern - when I'm not writing I get 'down'. I'm hoping to get back on top of things during the next couple of weeks and back to the w-i-p.

If you don't 'see' me around for a while it's because I'm immersing myself with my writing. I'll still be reading blogs, but I might not have the time to leave a comment (especially as Blogger keeps playing me up).

I've decided the only way I'm ever going to finish this Med is to stay in my cave working on a self-imposed deadline. It's becoming more urgent than ever because Gray's nearly ready for us to begin our historical together and I don't want him to have to leave me behind!

In the meantime I'm handing over the blog to Gray so there should be no shortage of posts... (oops, p'raps I should've asked him first?)

Happy writing everybody, and have a safe Halloween and an even safer Guy Faulkes!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

My New Hobby - Collecting People

The other day Sharon posted a valuable tip that is useful for any type of writer, published or not. Sharon explains that she has a file where she keeps a list of everybody she knows with a note of their past or current experiences, who could one day become precious contacts for research purposes.

What an inspired idea! As a result, Caroline suggested to Sharon that she should tag five other writers to share their experiences, who could then tag other writers, and before we know it we'll all have possible contacts we can use when we need to research.

Great idea or what?!

Here's my contribution to the list (five things that aren't known to everybody):

* I have (as some of you already know) multiple sclerosis *

* I've worked as a unified grade in H M Prison Service - (one of the UK's top security men's prisons.) *

* I've been divorced TWICE *

* I could've died two weeks after having my first baby - I had a retained placenta that wasn't dealt with at the time of the birth. *

* I'm a Christian who doesn't do 'religion' *

I'm now going to ask April, Stacy, Karen, Magnolia , the three Scribes, Melissa and Gray to join the list.

Message from Sharon:


Remember that it isn’t always the sensational stuff that writers are looking for, it can just as easily be something that you take for granted like having raised twins or knowing how to grow beetroot. Mind you, if you know how to fly a helicopter or have worked as a film extra, do feel free to let the rest of us know about it :-)

May I also add to that - if there are any doctors or midwives out there (including students), please let me know ;-)

Edited 25th October:
From Gray:
Hello Guys,

Apologies for the delay in responding - I've been ill in bed since the weekend before last (yes, I know, no excuse but...).

Here are my five things:

1) I'm a collector. Films and books are my weakness. Our home is overflowing with bookshelves and books, the tattier the better. I've watched about 3000 movies over the past decade and I still have 300 sitting here unwatched. I guess it goes without saying that I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of movies and books - usually the trashy ones.

2) I have a good understanding of what it's like to live with somebody with a disability. My father suffers from clinical depression (and has done since before I was born) and both my mother and Sue have M.S.

3) I'm no stranger to the operating theatre - I bear three scars from fairly major operations. The worst of these is from when I had something called pyloric stenosis as a baby - where the stomach muscles are so tight, it's impossible to digest food. Unfortunately the surgeon messed up and left me with a massive scar across my abdomen and the scar tissue still hurts sometimes. My most recent scar is across my neck, from an operation in 2004. I had some mystery tissue build up in a saliva gland so the doctors excised it by cutting my neck open - right next to my jugular.

4) I'm a bit of a computer geek. I love researching the 'net and I have a passion for retro-gaming - i.e. computers and consoles from the '80s and early '90s. My Spectrum is my pride and joy.

5) I haunt libraries, charity shops and car boot sales. These places are a second home for me :^P (Sorry, couldn't really think of a good one).