New posts can be found here each Friday.
My (Great) Aunty Milly died a few weeks ago and Mum sent me this card which was given to all the funeral attendees, I’m so glad to have it. I didn’t know her well, but she’s someone I’ve been hearing stories about my whole life, she was famous in my family for her beauty and outgoing personality; everyone seems to have adored her. And even though I barely knew her, I smiled in recognition as soon as I saw these pictures because she looks like my grandmother and Uncle George, who are both now dead. I’ve had a sad ‘end of an era’ kind of feeling – Aunty Milly was my grandmother’s baby sister and the last remaining child of my great-grandmother. I doubt I’ll ever hear another Geordie accent, which was their north eastern England way of speaking and always spelled ‘home’ and ‘family’ to me somehow, even though I’m from London.
There were some cloudy, gloomy days dotted amongst the sunshiney ones this week. When the weather is mild, I sit outside and read as I wait for Boy 2 to come home and this week I read Man at the Helm, a novel by Nina Stibbe. It was hugely entertaining and very funny, and broke a spell of not being able to concentrate on reading for several weeks. Anyway – Man at the Helm. Hilarious in spite of being the tale of a boozy, promiscuous single mum of three who sometimes neglects her three kids as she struggles to raise them in 1970’s rural England. The novel is told from the POV of Lizzie, her middle child. I admit I felt judgmental of the mother for about the first half of the novel, but then I didn’t. It’s hard, having your life turned upside down. Loved this novel and would highly recommend to anyone who wants a good read that happens to be about hardship but is the opposite of doom and gloom. .
After more than 20 years in Colorado I am still surprised by the weather sometimes. This morning was misty with very poor visibility as I started my drive to work (not in the Tracer – that car was totaled a few weeks ago). I switched on the headlights and then moments later as quickly as if a switch had been flipped the mist disappeared and I was driving through a clear and sunny morning, watched by three does at the side of the road.
A few small things have changed since I last wrote in here. After a brief period away, Boy 1 is now back at home and working the graveyard shift in a distribution warehouse. I hope he won’t find his comfort zone in this place, but right now he likes earning money and having a job he finds easy. I’m afraid he’s letting his old dream of going to film school slip away. Miss W is in her junior year at St. Mary’s Academy and soon to begin driving lessons so that she can get herself to and from school in her senior year. We love everything about SMA apart from the fact that it’s so far away. And, not that it will have any affect whatsoever on the literary world, I stopped writing several months ago. My sales were terrible and I was losing enthusiasm and knew I could not be the Facebooking, Twittering, social media kind of writer that I needed to be in order to generate interest and sales. Maybe someday all the notes on my (beautiful, mostly unused) desk will take shape and become the novel I dream of writing, but for now it’s just my weekly personal journal and the notes and thoughts I scribble to myself. Unfortunately all the drama and complications in my personal life don’t seem to leave any leftover space in my brain.
Miss W announced at the beginning of the year that she wanted to become a vegetarian. This was quite surprising, coming from someone who always hated vegetables, but I just said she would have to help with cooking, come up with ideas etc. etc. My heart fell at the thought of myself preparing meat for myself and the boys, and separate, veggie meals for Miss W. However, it has not turned out that way at all. I’ve eaten 2 or 3 chicken meals since January – to my surprise we are all mostly vegetarian now and don’t miss meat at all. I say ‘mostly’ because I still do eat fish and occasionally chicken, Boy 2 probably eats the normal meaty fare at school, and Boy 1 I’m sure eats fast-food type meat whenever he gets the chance. But it’s becoming routine now to not buy meat and make vegetarian meals at home each day, and seems like a natural move forward from trying to avoid processed foods.
Any minute now, Boy 2 will be home . . . he’s 15 now, covered in spots, still completely obsessed with the strangest things, still very, very sweet. Miss W is busy sewing patches ordered from Etsy onto her favorite jacket. It’s time for me to think about making supper. I think we’ll have burgers tonight – veggie burgers, of course.
It’s been one of those nights when sleep eludes Boy 2. We have been up now since 2, have taken care of laundry and made bread while the possibility of sleep before having to face the day rapidly fades. So I thought it would be a good time to catch up with this blog, as lately I’ve been concentrating mainly on my writing blog. It’s been a difficult time with the boys and I found a real relief in my writing, it was as if I had somewhere to get away to. Yesterday I completed something I’ve been working on for a while and submitted it. I’m now working on a short novel set during the post WW11 era whilst trying to promote Paris Rose, which I am absolutely hopeless at!
A few hopes I had for this year have fallen flat but at least we seem to be finally making it through a long cold winter. Mum had her surgery this Tuesday and is doing well, what a relief, and Miss W is thrilled to have a volunteer position at the Denver Dumb Friends League – she has been assigned to Dog Enrichment so is in heaven. I will post a picture of her in her green DDFL T-shirt when I can persuade her to pose, she is also very excited that she’ll have a name tag identifying her as a staff member.
March has been a big improvement on January and February!
I’ve just signed another contract with the Wild Rose Press – Paris Rose will be out later this year!
I have neglected this blog due to a severe lack of anything to say! I don’t attend writing conferences or have any pictures of myself with famous writers. I don’t have a gorgeous little office with mountain views where I tap out my stories as my dogs snooze at my feet. The truth is, days and days go by where I don’t even write due to my job, raising three teenagers and feeling completely blah by the end of each day.
I do realize that I’m not the only writer suffering a chronic lack of glamour in her life. I have wanted to set pen to paper and be a writer since I was about six, but grew up reading instead, convinced that someone as ordinary as me just didn’t have it in them to be a writer. Sporadic attempts to write a novel invariably ended in grief. Then I married and found myself with three young children. During those long and lonely nights and days I began trying to write short stories and even posted a few online after discovering such things as forums and groups for writers. And one day I sent off a story called Martha Makes Breakfast to a now defunct online magazine called Espresso Fiction – and sold it! For thirty whole dollars! After that there was no stopping me and I made more sales, won a few competitions, received a generous share of rejections.
And now, somehow, a decade has passed. The children who played in the bathtub while I watched them and scribbled confession stories longhand sitting on the toilet are teenagers. Life has changed. What hasn’t changed is that I still gain an enormous amount of satisfaction and happiness from writing, even if I can only manage 100-300 words a day rather than 1000-2000. I no longer write sitting on the toilet but at the dining room table or on my bed, on my very own computer.
And I guess I do have a little news, after all – An Accidental Kiss is due for release on May 15th. I loved writing this story and hope that readers will also find a soft spot in their hearts for Marcy, Frank, Justine, Kath and Herb. Meanwhile, if you share a similiar, glamorous lifestyle to my own or can write whilst sitting on the toilet or cleaning up cat sick I would love to hear from you!
I think that so far, this is my favourite picture taken with my brand new Canon digital camera Mr B gave me for Christmas. I took it from my bedroom window yesterday thinking about what was probably the most difficult writing assignment I have ever been given in my life. I know I have written a lot of rubbish. Usually I haven’t cared – they were for the confession market and the cliched situations and cheesy dialogue were almost de rigeur. All I cared about was that the story was entertaining and that I’d get paid. But this was different. My brother asked me if I could write something for Fran’s funeral on the 14th, to be read out by her friend Leslie. My mind was churning all day and I never felt more not up to a task. Even knowing Fran as little as I did, she’d made a great impression on me, but what could I say? What wouldn’t sound over sentimental, how could I sum up the kind of woman she was? I thought about it as I cooked and reorganized the house post-Christmas and watched these little birds fluttering around. I looked at Fran’s Face Book wall, which has filled up with tributes and memories since her death. So many friends have posted funny pictures of her, so many have written of her passion and commitment to her work, her great love for her son, my nephew Fin, and the caring side of her that always had time for listening. I called my Mum and her memory of her last day with Fran came spilling out, a day together in early December, Fran buying her a little box for Christmas. And in the evening I wrote a short poem and sent it to my brother, and this morning he wrote back saying he thought it was wonderful and Leslie would read it out on the 14th. That’s next Monday. Everyone who loved her will say goodbye to Fran, not in mourning clothes and singing sad hymns, but in bright colours and with happy memories, the celebration she wanted rather than a misery-fest, although I know there will be tears.