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AWARD WINNING AUTHOR

Writing in the Sunshine. Writing in the Shadows.


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Among the flowers.

It's time for what appears to have become my annual blog canter around the things that took my eye at the Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show, in Cardiff. I had a great day, even though the weather was not particularly kind. It didn't rain on the day, but it had been raining all week before, and the ground was very soggy. I got an e-mail the day before reminding me to wear stout shoes - these days all my every-day shoes could be classed as 'stout' so that was not a problem. I must admit that if you stood still long enough there was an ominous feeling that you might just slowly sink into the ground. But that might have been author's imagination. As I said, I had a good day, came home with some loot, but managed not to spend too much on what would only become  gourmet dining for my slug and snail population. I replaced the scented geranium that had died as the result of the snow and a bought it a friend with pretty pink and white flowers and also some seeds that I will start off in doors. By the time I put them out I hope they will be too big for the snails to find tasty. My complete indulgence was a metal leaf with a quote from Shakespeare on it, which is now on my desk, to inspire me.

But the day was undoubtedly all about the flowers - not just because there were some beautiful ones on display, but because the show gardens were - well let us just say they were not to my taste. Concrete and rusty corrugated iron does not do it for me, but to each his/her own. I could have happily brought home a few of the summer houses though. I have the space, but sadly, not the dosh - still, they were lovely, and everyone can dream.

So now - the pictures...... I have to say, things seems to be a bit pink ...

This is what's known as lasagna planting - in layers, so the bulbs come up
one after another in the same pot. I keep meaning to have a go.


Not flowers, but aren't they lovely? Wish I could still grow tomatoes.
(See slugs and snails, above)

Gorgeous - and the scent

Dianthus - aka Pinks. And as you can see - lots of pink.  


I always mean to attempt a planting like this. One day. 


Peonies - said to the the favourite flower of a certain royal bride-to-be
and likely to appear in her wedding bouquet. We'll have to wait and see. 



Not flowers, but I had to take a picture - large chess sets have slightly creepy overtones for me, which I suspect comes from watching 'The Prisoner' at an impressionable age!

A lastly - a hot tub - what every author needs, along with the summer house?
This one is definitely going a book sometime.
 Including the floating tray, to hold the champagne! 



Wednesday, 11 April 2018

What did you read today?

I have to have a book in the process of being read. If I don't I get decidedly twitchy. But reading isn't just books. Think of all the other things you might read in a day:

The blurb on the side of the cereal box
The destination on the front of the bus
The instructions on the flat pack furniture
The ingredients in the recipe
The address on the letter
The sign on the door
The warning poster
The text that says 'I love you'
This blog
The church clock
The railway sign
The holiday brochure
The commemorative plaque
The file on the desk
The cast list for the play
The inscription on the gravestone

There's a story in there somewhere. The story of a day?






Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The fine art of hoarding

Are all writers hoarders?

This one is. Ideas, useful (or useless) information. Scraps that might lead to a book. Usually in paper form. Which means the house is full of notes, post-its, cuttings from magazines - or the whole magazine - maps, pictures, leaflets, catalogues, postcards, programmes ... And don't get me started on the recipes torn out of magazines. They have nothing to do with the writing, or not usually, just that I like to cook - not that I often try them out. They're just there - hoarded.

A writer's hoard 
I think hoarding may also be hereditary, because both my parents were hoarders, in their respective fields - which means, unfortunately, that I have inherited both their habits and their hoards.

Mum was a dressmaker, so she stashed fabric - usually bought in sales. During the war she had enough stored away to clothe my grandmother and my aunt, as well as herself, for the duration. I have picked up the habit and now have my store and hers. Including two potential winter coats. The store also extends to zips and buttons  - no outworn garment was ever allowed to get away with those in place - recycling, before it was fashionable. I also have knitting wool - going to have to learn to knit at some stage, and dress patterns. Not always with all the pieces. 

Dad was a builder - same applies. Nuts and bolts, screws and nails, locks and keys, wall and floor tiles, pieces of wood ... I could go on. If anything fell apart, he usually had something that would fix it. I don't have quite so much in that line, but some. I do have a garden drawer though - gloves, secateurs, string, lots of string, partly used seed packets, labels ... 

It might come in useful one day - the story of a hoarder's life.

And one day that scrap of paper might turn into a book ...

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

You are what you tweet? Or retweet?

I don't do a lot of original tweeting - maybe a bit of promo here and there, especially if there is a new book about, or a special sale going on somewhere - but I do re-tweet quite a bit. And that got me thinking about how much your re-tweets say about you.

So - my top list of things you are likely to find I have re tweeted - not in any particular order. With pictures - not in any particular order, either.

Books Well yes - what  did you expect?  Especially on a Tuesday,  because Tuesday is the day when members of the Romantic Novelist's Association  re tweet each others news and most of it is about books.

London by night, from the South Bank
Barry Island Beach

Historical stuff - an overlap from the day job and  tends to be from my favourite archives.

Museums and historic houses and gardens - especially if they have events on.

Local news from around my area, especially pictures, often featuring Barry Island

Posts from Visit Wales - particularly those about the Brecon Beacons as that is where the last book was set and there have been some lovely ones of the Beacons in snow, which is also in the book.

Food - particularly cake.

Italy - also because it is a favourite setting for books

Libraries

Lectures and talks and events

The occasional spooky/ghostly stuff, if I happen to be researching that kind of thing at the time.



Florence - possibly my favourite
Italian city 
London - one of my favourite places and again a book setting.









Looking at the list, it's pretty predictable really, and it does say a lot about the things that interest me. You are what you re-tweet?





Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Slightly spooky?

Please let Spring be on the way!
Yesterday was the Spring Equinox. My favourite of the four compass points of the year - equinoxes and solstices - as the days are going to continue to lengthen for a while and there is the prospect of warmer weather. Having said which, there is some talk of MORE snow for the Easter weekend!

The Equinox has made me think of our continuing fascination with thing that are associated with old traditions and celebrations, with a touch of the supernatural. Not paranormal, but old customs, myths and the slightly spooky elements that make it into so much romantic fiction - horoscopes, tarot cards, standing stones, time slip, fortune telling, ghosts - we may be an urban society, but old ideas still have power. I have to admit that I have a fascination and an ever growing library (Thanks, largely, to The Works!) of books on symbols, magic and other witchy goings on. This time it is all research, as I am far too much of a wimp to try any of it out.

Although I could have done with a few spells when my big computer, the one I do my writing on, died this week. I've had to get a new - well, re-conditioned - one and a new version of Dragon - the voice recognition software that I use to get the words onto the page. Both Simon the computer guru and the man on the other end of the phone who sold me the new Dragon were somewhere between astonishment and hysteria when they found that I'd had both for ten years. Well, if it's not broken ... So I have lost my dear old XP Professional and my disc based Dragon and now have to train a new one. I have a feeling it is not going to be easy. But I digress - probably because my mind is still very much on the disaster of losing kit that has become an old friend. We knew each others quirks. And I still have to transfer my backed up files to the new machine - shudder. Now that is really something horrible to contemplate.

But back to the equinox. I've been working on a romantic suspense that has supernatural elements in it - hence the research, although it will be a while before it gets finished as I'm now enmeshed in the day job and sorting out what I hope will be the next Riviera Rouges. Nothing supernatural in that.

I am wondering why we are drawn to darker things on the page, even if we don't really believe in them in real life. Why do we like being slightly scared? I don't read horror, or watch it, but I still have that fascination with an older system of belief and way of doing things.

Maybe lots of us are looking for a connection to something from the past - and that's why time slip in particular is a popular genre?


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Adventures in the Archives


We all have quirks. I like archives. A hobby I have taken to ridiculous lengths by embarking on a PhD in History.

Last week I spent a fascinating few days at the UK National Archive, at Kew, in London. Well, I found it fascinating, although I can see that not everyone would find that tattered and dusty files make their heart beat faster. But they do mine. I get a kick out of poring through documents that were typed/written in World War Two, when the world was a very different place. Typewriters and carbon copies for starters.

The index can be a bit of a mystery tour sometimes You order a file and take a gamble on what will be in it and whether it will be useful. I stumbled on something that is going to have a major impact on the thesis quite by accident, in a file I was looking at for a totally different topic. It was about air raid shelters in a file that was entitled Parades, Celebrations and Visits. Of course, it was the last item in the file, with no indication of what happened next. And the next number in the file series was for another part of the country. So - what did happen next? Will I ever find out? The hunt is on. I may need Sherlock, or Poirot.

I had my first visit to the second floor - I didn't know there was a second floor - that's where they keep the big/heavy stuff. I got a large and very heavy box, presented on a trolley, that contained wads of very well thumbed and dusty accounts. I finally found the piece I was looking for, and, of course, it was no use to me at all!

I also had a file with a mysterious envelope fixed to the back. With assistance from the staff I got it open safely and found that it contained photographs - supplied by the Chief Constable of Cardiff to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Home Security, showing bomb damage to air raid shelters. Another first - I got issued with a pair of rubber gloves to handle them. It is probably many years since anyone looked at those photo. Until me.

One of my files appeared to be quietly morphing into a werewolf - it was distinctly furry - on the outside. After a discussion with the staff we speculated that it was some sort of preservation that had been put on and was breaking down. The file was about 70 years old. Apparently there are a few more in the vaults that are doing the same.Of course it was nothing sinister. But if members of staff start to disappear down amongst the stacks ...

I did a bit of sleuthing too, into my father's war. The war diaries of the RAMC unit he was attached to, and their progress up Italy. Scary and illuminating. That's for a book that I hope to write someday. I didn't find his name in any of the documents, but I still have fingers crossed on that one.

So - that's the fun week I had last week, playing in the dusty archives.

It takes all sorts.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Where are my pictures?

DON'T KNOW WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY BOOK COVERS, ETC. SHOWING SOMETIMES AND NOT OTHERS.

WILL HAVE TO INVESTIGATE.

TECHNOLOGY!