The Writing Dog

The pain of losing a companion animal- we do share a special bond with those who share our homes, I had tears in my eyes reading this.

Arcanum

He is ever alert to the sounds of her. Footsteps upstairs might mean she is coming. She may yet share the couch with him. He may lay his nose on her leg and sigh, tail thumping the upholstery in a contented rhythm. On frost-laden mornings she greets him and lets him out. He hears the honey in her voice and knows he is loved. He lies at her feet as she stares at the metal thing, always absorbed. If he is very still and quiet she might just stroke his head. It is enough to be close, shoehorned between the chair and the ottoman, her legs a ceiling above.

He runs with her even though he is small and far from athletic. He keeps pace and smiles up at her, tries to avoid the call of the tree trunks and dash onwards.

One day he feels an unease. Something slow…

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Which Books Did I Read in March 2018?

March was a month of change for me, earlier in the month, my reading was for enjoyment. Mid-month I had sad news about the death of my oldest friend and I seemed to lose my concentration and focus. I think I deliberately chose escapist fiction to try to lighten my mood. Note the books are in the order that I read them.

 

pexels-photo-261889.jpegPromises, Promises by Erica James. 

3 stars from me.We’ve all done it, made promises to ourselves, vowing to change something in our lives. Erica James takes three people all at a point of wanting to change an aspect of their lives.

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Maggie dreams of romance while stuck in a depressing marriage and working as a cleaner. Ella wasted seven years with a man who couldn’t challenge his spoilt teenage daughter while Ethan consoles himself for his loveless marriage by having one-night stands.

They all plan to change and make a different life for themselves this year, but promises are easily made and harder to keep.  While I did enjoy the story and was cheering them on from the sidelines at times I felt that it dragged slightly, which why I chose to give three stars.

The Sister’s Song by Louise Allan

5 stars. I am pleased that I read this earlier in the month – I did so I was about to attend a talk by Louise Allan at my local library. it may have been too sad for me to enjoy it later in the month.

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Beautifully written and desperately sad Louise Allan’s The Sisters Song touches on musicality and motherhood. As a non-musical person, I am sure many of the musical references were lost on me. Louise explores the times and manners of a bygone age with sensitivity and empathy. There is such a contrast between the sisters, one born for motherhood yet denied it, the other resenting it. The themes resonated with me and helped to explain my own conflicted relationship with my mother, who by her own admission ‘never wanted children’. Other themes such as sibling rivalry, the position of women in society and their inability to influence much in their lives, the shame of illegitimacy on both mother and child. The book veers more to the literary end of the spectrum rather than the strictly popular fiction. It is a book that will remain with you long after you have finished reading it,

I received a proof copy of the book through a Good reads giveaway, with no obligation to review it.

Feels Like Home by Lisa Ireland

4 stars/ A rural romance with enough zing to keep you guessing. Jo a bestselling novelist returns to her old hometown for her best friend’s wedding. What she didn’t bank on is heart-throb Ryan would be back in town, they have a history.

Feels Like Home Lisa Ireland

Fate throws them together, but each time it seems they are growing closer one or the other pulls back, neither wants to commit. He broke her heart and then married someone else. She vowed never to return but love and loyalty dragged her back. I found the characters engaging and relatable and there was enough tension to make me doubt if they would get a happy ever after.

How to be Everything by Emilie Wapnik.

 How to be Everything- from Book Depository3 stars I picked this book up because the title intrigued me. When I read the blurb, I found that it was based on her successful TED talk. The premise is that some of us don’t necessarily fit into the neat pigeon holes that society assigns us. So, if you are a lawyer you can’t possibly be a musician as well. Emilie argues that if you find several options appealing you can if you choose to, explore them all. She has called these people Multi-potentialities.

The chapters then go on to discuss how to apply the concepts to different kinds of career mixes. This section I found a bit repetitive, as the information was so similar. I suggest this book would be of most befitting for those at the beginning of their careers.

Cake at Midnight by Jessie L Star.

There is something so likeable about Giovanna, who is known as Gio to her friends Declan and Zoe. The trio has a strong friendship forged in childhood, and Gio thinks that her crush on Declan is a secret. When she does him a favour and he humiliated her, she knows she must move on. She wants a month with no contact from him

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To ease her heartache during the sleepless nights she bakes delicious cakes and soon she is sharing them with her fellow insomniac and sexy neighbour, Theo.Can heartbreak heal that fast? But then Declan has a crisis and Gio knows she has to be there for him. Will Theo understand?  A nice escapist read.4 stars

The Cat Among Us by Louise Carson.

Although this is a murder mystery it is a lovely gentle book about community and cats The cats are very much individuals with their own personalities. When Gerry, an artist inherits her old house she begins to suspect that her aunt was murdered.

The Cat among us

One cat ‘First Cat’ seems intent on helping her solve the puzzle. I found that the book really drew me in and I enjoyed it immensely. Perhaps not for you if you are not a cat lover. I gave it 5 stars.

Ghouls Gone Wild by Victoria Laurie

A book that explores the ghost hunter’s world and their contacts with spirits. In this case with malevolent spirits in Scotland.

Ghouls gone wild

M.J. Holliday and Heath are battling an ancient curse cast by a powerful witch centuries ago.  A witch who seemingly has never died and has descendents bent on revenge Action packed and disturbing-As Victoria Laurie (herself a psychic) mentions in the forward this book is inspired by real events. I am glad I was not there to experience them! 4 stars

 

The Vineyard in the Hills by Lily Malone

I’ve just found a new favourite author, Lily Malone. The Vineyard in the Hills, set in beautiful Margaret River and South Australia has such engaging characters.

The vineyard in the hills

Remy is smart and sassy, but she’s had to give up her dreams and her viticulture degree to return home after the death of her gambler father. He’s left debts and Remy and her mum must pay them.She takes a job in a winery as a vintner’s assistant and begins to enjoy the work.

Then she meets Seth, one of the owner’s sons. He usually travels to promote the winery and is home on a rare visit.Their attraction is instant, could Remy be heading for a happily ever after.? A crisis causes Remy and her mother to leave the area. She is confident Seth will find her, but he doesn’t seek her out.

Five years later, Remy is running her own vineyard in South Australia when their paths cross again. The attraction is still there. but so is the hurt and mutual suspicion. Can Seth sort out the truth from all the lies he’s been told? Can Remy trust her heart and Seth, or is she heading for more heartbreak? 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

I’d Never Forget You

 

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‘Those were the days my friend we thought they’ d never end’

I am sharing this blog post with Frank Solanki’s permission. I recently lost my oldest, dearest and closest friend. This poem touched my heart, I read it with tears in my eyes, recalling the times both good and bad that we shared. Lynn had known me far longer than anyone else, even my husband. I find joy in remembering the good times

 

Frank Solanki

Look back upon the flying time
How swiftly it went
Strongly etched in this heart of mine
The memories we spent
Now that we’re no longer together
Distant and apart
My heart beats now even stronger
Yearning for your heart
I know that your heart misses me
Mine misses you too
I know you’d never forget me
And I’d never forget you

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What makes a good writing group?

Questions to ask about a writing group.

Coloured pencils Jess Watters Unsplash

There many opinions on what makes a good writing group, but I think that we can agree on a few things.Most of us need the right sized group, one that meets at a convenient time and place and one that helps us to grow as writers and to achieve our aims.So, if you are considering joining a writing group it pays to ask a few questions.

  1. What is the composition of the group?Does it matter to you if it is a mixed or a single-sex group? Both types of groups can have advantages and disadvantages. A mixed group provides a microcosm of the potential readership for your stories or book. However, that can be challenging ii your stories are not mainstream.Crime and fantasy/sci-fi appeal to both genders, while other types of writing typically appeal more to one or the other. For example, romance writing has a mainly female authorship and readership; while war stories mostly appeal to men.
  2.  Does Age Matter?people-woman-coffee-meeting.jpgThe general age in the group may be a factor for you, although it is wise to be flexible about this. Talent is not confined to one age group and both younger and older members can contribute to the dynamic of a mixed age group.3. How friendly do you need the group to be?Many of us complete our best work inspired by a little ‘friendly’ competition. And the operative word is friendly. Many writers have a horror story or two to tell of savage criticism towards their work or even their personality( a real no, no!) which has wounded them and eroded their confidence in their writing abilities. A good facilitator should prevent this, reminding everyone that the focus is solely on the work. Any group that is not welcoming to new members and encouraging of them is not a place that you want or need to be.

    4 What do you want?Writng laptop thougth Catalogue

    A good writing group is a community of like-minded people, one that provides that ‘safe space’ in which to discuss your work. There is no need to bore your long-suffering family, instead talk to the people who understand the blow of rejection and the thrill of success. The members of a writing group near you.

    As I was writing this post I asked various group members about their experiences with our writing group. The group I attend meets weekly and is a mixed group.Members attend writing events and the group books authors as speakers.

    5. What Writing Group Members Say About Their Writing Group

    One member said’ I need the inspiration of others work, I am fascinated by the way that other people write and think’.

    This is an aspect of a writing group that is so intriguing, that there are so many different approaches to writing about one topic.

    Another commented’ each week I struggle and I am amazed when people say that I am improving.’As mentioned earlier, we may be the harshest critics of our own work and a group can provide objectivity.

    A third said ‘the group has inspired me to try different styles and ways of writing’

    A veteran of other groups noted that ‘some groups tend to be dominated by egos, which can be very stressful’

    A member who had not written since junior school commented that it was ‘right place, right time,’ adding cheekily the group picked me!’ She continued more seriously by saying that ‘written has been ( and is) challenging, yet stimulating’

    As for me, it is no exaggeration to say that joining a ringgit group changed my life. Writing group members encouraged me to apply for mature age university entrance. I was accepted and had some of the most challenging yet thrilling years of my life. Following on from that I submitted my writing and had some stories and articles published in national magazines. None of which I would have accomplished without the help and support of my writing group.

    So pluck up your courage and think about joining your local writing group. Your local library will most likely have the details of local groups

     

France through the Eyes of French Artists

If you love France or dream of a French vacation or if you love art and artists- this post from My Country Epoque is sure to appeal.

A French Note

Between The Eyes And The Mind Of An Artist

Be young or old, an artist is a person who owns a forte to behold the world real or imaginary.Image

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What is Standing in Your Way?

It is easy to blame others for not having enough time. Easy to cite all the things we need to do, as well as the things that we want to do. I’ve been there, making all the excuses. They work faster, they’re younger, smarter, have more help, a supportive partner, or family, an endless list.

It’s so easy to sit on the sidelines, whining. Last week I faced myself down and decided that I was my own biggest obstacle.

 

Obstacles by Igor Rodriguez- Unspalsh
Image from Unsplash

 

When I assessed it there was loads of time, hours that I frittered away.After years at work, I am now able to be at home. I have no boss to answer to, no time schedule to keep. I had aeons of time, my problem was with me.

Like many people, I am at my most productive early in the day. Instead of writing then, which was what I ‘d declared I most wanted to do. I was reading and replying to emails, clicking on Facebook, checking the news. When I ‘d finished doing all that I hit an energy slump and I’d run out of time.The biggest obstacle in my way was ME. What a sobering thought,

If I never try I can never fail. Was what I was telling myself? It was a moment of self-enlightenment.

Things had to change, so I’ve altered my morning routine and I think for the better.STOPI will not allow myself to go onto the Internet until I have done at least one hour of writing. It’s been surprisingly easy and I still check emails and Facebook. Now though, I feel a sense of accomplishment- because I have kept my promise to myself and have actually been writing.

Are you standing n your own way?

How?

Let me know in the comments.

Are You Being Productive Or Just Busy?

Some good questions to ask yourself are

Am I doing what I want to do? Am I getting closer towards my goal?

 

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Should I have a goal? The answer to the last question, by the way, is YES.

The Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland gave Alice this advice

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The Cheshire Cat image Pinterest

At the beginning of 2017, I made a list of the things I wanted to achieve with my writing, and as the year draws to a close I am reviewing it and assessing it. Here’s what I discovered.

The Good: I achieved far more than I originally intended

The Bad: While I did far more than previous years, I was not specific enough.

The Ugly Truth: I am no further towards my goal than I was at the beginning of the year

How did this happen?At the start of the year, I made a list of practical things I could do to extend my writing. Then the list held nine items, one of which was to start a blog.

At years end the list had grown to sixteen items, as I added things I thought would be interesting or fun to do.Everything on the list depended on me doing something. The only actions that I can control are my own. I cannot make readers or editors like my work. My task is to write and to improve and not try to second guess what others will think.

What did I achieve? I wrote a novella, a long short story, an 8-word story, I submitted to a couple of magazines, took some courses, attended some author talks and a writing convention and completed National Novel In Month.

A lot you might think  BUT I haven’t done much to achieve my real goal of completing a novel and getting it published. I have been busy, very busy and in one sense productive, but I have not got any nearer to my goal.

I scattered my efforts, and now I know this I intend to make another list for 2018. It will have fewer items but a bigger goal to finally write that book! The book that I have wanted to write for so long, but hesitated to do so. I am giving myself permission to try.

What do you want to achieve in 2018?  Maybe you should make a list of the steps to take to get you there. Let me know what you plan on achieving.