Standing Still

Often there is a moment which spurs a myriad of thoughts. When they weave together, I begin to create my blog. There is no concrete theme just a moment when I think of something and it burgeons into something greater.

Due to a nasty virus (not Covid) I’ve been standing still the last two weeks. As I re-entered my universe again, feeling better and brighter, words having spinning through my mind like a kaleidoscope. ‘Edward’s Story’ has been on hold and other projects I have been working on have also stalled. A blip in the progress of things.

However, blips are sometimes a way to take stock and re-evaluate. Sometimes you can be so immersed in a project you cannot see the outcome, the finer details which make your work polished, more exciting. A storyline which you were sure of becomes challenged because you have taken a moment to step back and rethink it. All part of the creative process.

In my humble opinion, we do not stand still enough, whirring on, charging around, declaring ‘I have no time,” how can I meet this deadline,’ etc. We miss things, we rush past things, people, buildings, landscape. Proclaim ‘I’ll call you back,’ ‘I need to take this call.’ Genuinely do we need to take the call? Do we call back?

I’m often heard to say ‘take a breath.’ In the moment of that breath, the beat of your heart continues, but your mind stills fleetingly. Almost like a reset. A valuable asset in the urgency of life.

During my standing still, I have re configured Edward’s dilemma. I have enjoyed my garden by just watching what goes on in it. I have read, and I have reflected. I am a great reflector.

The photo above which I have chosen shows wild flowers by a stone wall. I chose it because of my wonderment at what lies beyond the wall. Standing still gives you that clarity to look with intent. A bit like looking up. When I was lecturing, I took my students out and about so they could observe their surroundings. Very few looked up. When I asked why, one student answered what is there to see?

Yes, you guessed it. We lifted our eyes, and it amazed them at what they did see.

There is little respite from life just now. It’s hard, relentless and a struggle. The uncertainty of what exists in the world is ever more fearful. Yet perhaps in taking a breath, taking a moment to stand still, we may steady ourselves.

Stay well and thank for dropping by.

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Blooming

This ageing wisteria has been steadily climbing towards the sky for many years. I believe it has seen at least two generations in its lifetime that I am aware of.

It has made me think about the process of growing older. Not something that ever really concerned me in my youthful years. However, as I gazed at the Wisteria and thought of all it had witnessed, it gave me a moment to reflect.

During my lifetime, so far, I have experienced great joy, contentment, and love. There have moments of wonder, and moments of shock. All contrasted by struggles to find my way and have staggered helplessly lost.

My mother always believed whatever you endured enlightened you and strengthened you. I’m not sure I believed her at the times she shared this with me. Genuinely now I see what she was meaning. Is that the wisdom of age?

Perhaps the same applies to the great sprawling Wisteria. Clambering still at whatever ripe old age it may be. Showing us all, it’s amazing extravagant blooms. If it could speak, I wonder what episodes it would share?

Naturally, there are episodes in all our lives we choose to keep locked away.

In my next book, ‘Edward’s Story,’ he discovers many secrets which astound and anger him. Yet he eventually regains some sense of proportion and finds his way through the shades his mother has drawn over her own life. Believing it to be in the best interest for everyone.

I gave Dorothy this envelope with other papers so you would never find them. It was a grave mistake to deny you the truth.

Edward is on a journey which will fray the edges of his life and question everything he knew of his mother. Will he forgive her? As I have not got that far yet, I couldn’t possibly answer.

Delighting in being able to spend my days writing, as well as gardening, I like to think I am still clambering my way through life, albeit a little slower, but hopefully still blooming. Still striving to surprise myself at what I can still be capable of. I remain positive and bless each day I wake up to. Relishing whatever may lie ahead.

Age is a number, it does not define me. Staring at the glorious Wisteria, I take heart that for a brief period each year it stuns and captivates those who share in its blossoms. For it is those blooms which will be long remembered, well into winter as it sleeps, readying itself for the grand show.

Thank you for dropping by.

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Discovering a Path

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Writing is a precarious trade, art, skill. Much like acting, painting, or any of those creative ventures many of us choose to pursue.

Growing up, I had a dream which was encouraged yet tempered with a touch of reality. For to pursue that dream meant sacrificing recreation time, having money and following a path of uncertainty. To understand that opportunities would arise and learning which were worth investigating and which to allow to fall by the wayside.

Naturally, all paths have curves and cul de sacs but to me they enhanced the direction of travel. Whilst many of my friends chose safer, straighter routes, I branched out and explored others.

Now a few seasons on in my life, when reflection offers me wisdom, I understand those paths I travelled took me in a host of directions. Some of those directions were dark, forbidding places, others were light and wonderful. None of them took me to where I thought I would be. Though I suspect this kind of ‘leave it to the cosmos’ ideology is not for everyone. The pension plan is not too good for a start! Heh ho, I may not be rich in money, but I am wealthy in experience, love, and family.

I’m busy writing Edward’s Story. I don’t plot a story; I have an idea of the outline but once I begin writing, I let the characters lead me. In trepidation, I follow the characters along their paths. Sometimes I intervene and guide and rethink their choices. Sounds crazy as they are figments of my imagination, but they become real to me. As they should be for the reader who invests in their story.

A little like life, I guess. If you have children or work with children, you nurture and advise. Hoping they take on board a little of what you offer.

I recall being told many times at school why I couldn’t do something and not to even consider trying. It fed into my rebellious streak and made me more determined to follow my path. I grew up in a world where women were taking up roles outside of those socially accepted. Partly because of a mother who believed in women being empowered to seize their own futures. She emboldened me to be brave and if those choices failed; I had to get up and try again. They were not failures in her book of life they were just not meant to be.

Wherever your path leads you, I trust you find light and hope and not too many shadows. Though where there is light, there is always shadow.

As for Edward? He has many shadows to contend with but I’m sure in the end light and hope will prevail.

Thank you for stopping by.

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Discovery

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There was a documentary on the tv the other night about the Hubble Telescope. It was awesome. Pictures shown of galaxies and star systems thousands of light years away.

How is it even possible to know that?

There were interviews with the astronauts who took it out there, repaired it and sadly remembered those who lost their life. No more trips are planned, but it still orbits the earth and sends back information.

Nothing indicated life out in the deep unknown. In fact, the scientists commented we were looking back in time. How do they know that? It raised many questions. It made me realise we are often seeking answers. Perhaps not to the origins of earth, or if there is life beyond the earth, but to everyday things which occur in our lives.

As a writer, you are constantly seeking to discover things about your characters. Where I work, I have a view across open fields and a bank of trees in the distance. Regularly, I am distracted by watching the weather change and the clouds dance across the big open sky. I feel for the birds as they fight the blustery weather and often see the weather closing in and torrential down pours dampen the view.

Nature serves as an inspiration for many things, but watching the world outside my window, I realise it helps me decipher the mood of my players in my story. How would they react in such dreadful conditions as they dark inky clouds race across the sun?

There is much to be held in wonder and so much to discover. It’s all out there, or on the pages of my stories. It is exciting bringing a new story to life and in Edward’s Story already he his proving to be a complex man with his own heartache and confusion.

Will he discover the truth behind the questions he is asking?

I have no answers yet. He has only just started his journey.

Here is short extract:

Edward was almost home when he heard his name being called. Instinctively, he thought it was his mother, then realised she would never call his name again. A wedge of sorrow buried itself deep inside.

 ‘Ed, for goodness’ sake, stop!’

Reluctantly, he halted and wheeled round to see Tina running after him.

 ‘What the hell is the matter with you? I waited for over an hour last night. I called and texted, but you just ignored me. Then I’m locked out of the pub only to be eventually let in and told by Rob you’d called but not to see me.’

Weariness burrowed into Edward. The last thing he needed was a shouting match. All he wanted to do was get home, lock the door, close the curtains and hibernate. Nothing was making any sense to him.

 ‘Well, what have you got to say? Don’t just stand there like a lump. For God’s sake Ed, what’s wrong with you?’ Tina stepped forward and poked his shoulder. Grabbing her hand, they faced each other. Edward saw the flicker of fear fly across her face.

So, whether it is light years away or just across the fields, I know there is always something new just around the curve of the road.

Thanks for stopping by

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Milestones

We have had a few milestones in our family recently. A 1st birthday, a 21st birthday, a 65th birthday. My book published. New jobs, a final year in university. To name a few.

We have celebrated each as best we could in these difficult times. Thank goodness for being able to connect over the internet for those moments we couldn’t be together to share the happiness and joy.

Of course, there was a time when none of that connecting was possible. Maybe a phone call if you were fortunate enough to have a phone. When receiving cards was important because it meant we were being thought of, that someone had bothered to buy and write and post their best wishes.

Words are vital to ensuring we feel connected. In past times, story tellers wandered from village to village the bringing of news, legends. Word of mouth is how much was handed down through the generations. Indeed, I can recall growing up with stories from varius elders in the family.

In any context, happy or sad, we need to hear something, read something to help heal, celebrate, congratulate. Our need to feel a bond with another human being. Why else do we smile or wish someone a good morning? Because that link is a reassurance of knowing we are not alone. Yet the pandemic has disregarded all of that. Cruel in its passage through our communities and families. Severing those ties indiscriminately.

When I am writing, I am connecting with many of those moments in my own life which have had an impact. Drawing on the loss, the pain, the happiness and the wonderment of life. The circle of life keeps turning. Sometimes that wheel has felt like it was spinning out of control and it threw me somewhere dark and difficult to navigate. Wondering how I would ever regain my equilibrium.

Listening to members of my family who have reached their own milestones, I am reminded that we all set ourselves goals. ‘I want to do this by this age, I want to retire by this age.’ The list is endless.

If we are very lucky, some of those wishes may come to fruition. Others may take a while and some may never happen. What I am aware of is you never need to stop celebrating those milestones, embrace them for how far you have come. Never give up trying to achieve those milestones. Plans, it seems to me are often beyond our control. The key is being able to adapt and consider there may be something else waiting yet to show itself.

My reflections upon so many events in my own family have reminded me how wonderful and yet also devastating life can be.

In my book Out of the Blue, Daisy asks her therapist, ‘can hearts burst?’ I am amazed how my own has remained in one piece. Yet, our emotions do burst. In love, pride, wonder, pain hurt, grief. So many emotions running riot through us often we ignore them in self preservation.

I am now writing book 2 of the Barley Ford series. Edward’s Story.

He is a man deeply scarred. His work as a therapist exposes him to this gamut of emotions until he has to accept he needs to step back and reflect. Learn how to heal his own pain. Will he heal and live his life refreshed and renewed? Well, I’m still following his path so I have yet to find out.

Hope, love and light are always there to conquer the darkness.

For the milestones I have on the horizon I shall continue to embrace them prickles and all.

Spring is not so far away, when at last feel I have a sense of joy at the newness of life springing forward at this time of year. My garden is already surprising me with fresh growth showing through.

In the meantime, back to Edward and his story of lost love and finding a new way towards love, light and hope.

Thank you for stopping by.

New Ventures

The paperback of my first novel went live this week. It’s a thrilling moment. I must pay particular thanks to Katherine Smith and Rachel at Heddon Publishing and Catherine Clark. For helping pull this project together.

Life deals thrilling moments alongside the moments we wish we could change. I’m cherishing this one. We had a crazy 2021, like most folks, so I’m relishing this moment.

Someone asked me the other day why did I self publish and not stick out for an agent and do it properly! After my sharp intake of breath, I considered my answer.

I tried the traditional method. Varying responses, many nil responses. How long did I want to wait? Patience was never my forte, but it made think about the assumptions of the publishing world. Do people still think it is indulgent to self publish?

Choosing to become an Indie author is no mean feat. It’s not always cost effective and yes Amazon and other publishing platforms make things easier. However, you undertake to edit, market, promote and carry on writing at the same time. Take the rough with the smooth. Plus, there are some very successful indie authors out there. I respect their hard work and perseverance.

It has been a huge learning curve and some wonderful people have been fabulous with their support and guidance.

I’m of an age where ‘let’s just do it’ has become my mantra. To me, it is about sticking your head above the parapet and hopefully it will not be too scary.

I write because I love telling stories. My notebooks are full of scribbles and ideas. So I’m giving them air. Story telling is an age old profession and I am proud to have joined the ranks.

If you find time to read Daisy’s story, I hope you enjoy it. Leave a comment and let me know.

In the meantime, Edward’s Story is coming alive for Book two in the Barley Ford series.

Stay safe and thanks for dropping by.

Bissiebee

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Infinitely Small

Thank you to Kahlil Gibran for the title.

When I started this blog, it was to share my love of writing and the creative threads of my stories. Over the last few months, I have navigated the highs and lows of being an indie author. Learning essential lessons in the publishing process.

Now I have teamed up with Heddon publishing. They are bringing my first novel to life in print. Ironing out the errors and steering me along the publishing path.

It has made me appreciate we are all quite small in any journey we take, yet we grow into being so much more. At any age, our knowledge is there to be expanded.

A dream began when I was infinitely small, writing my short stories to entertain my parents and family. Wishing and hoping someday I would be an author. It has been quite a path I have travelled to this point. Yet I have negotiated the hills and many mountains and made it.

Story telling is an old custom, and it often feels a privilege to bring my stories to life for the enjoyment of others. Reading has brought such pleasure into my life, through the dark times and warmed my soul on empty, lifeless days.

I’m a believer in fate and appreciate that sometimes the path in our lives doesn’t always take us where we expect to go. Adapting to the twists and curves and unexpected is a skill I have developed throughout my years. I see them as adventures, an explorer seeking to discover.

How joyful for me to be on another adventure. Bringing Daisy, my heroine, in Out of the Blue, out of the shadows and well and truly into the light. From what started as a standalone story is now developing into a series based in my remote rural hamlet of Barley Ford. Now I am working on exploring Edward’s story and his relationship with his mother and losing his one true love, Olivia.

Thorns from the rose Edward had been holding had punctured his skin. He released it and watched it tumble towards the earth, now holding his mother. Lifting his head, he glimpsed around the gathered crowd. He knew so few of them, yet their grief was plain to see. Stepping back, he wanted to howl with the searing agony filling him. How could they know the person he had lost? How could they know how she had held him when he thought his life was over?

In thinking about being infinitely small, I am also minded to think that we can be great and small things can make that difference. We cannot always stick to the path we have chosen, but we can embrace where it may lead us. By always being open to possibilities, we can create something greater.

I may be a small fish in a big pond, but I feel great by what I have achieved. With the love and generosity of spirit of others, my part of the pond is an awesome place to be.

At this time of year, with long dark nights and turbulent weather, may you find your own light along your path.

Thank you for reading. Stay safe.

The Sanctuary of Nature

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Much has been written lately about the value of a garden, a green space, somewhere to be to ease away the aches of modern life. I believe greatly that the our natural world is one to be valued because I genuinely believe it does offer us sanctuary. A place to slow down the frenetic vibrations of just getting through each day.

My garden, (no not the one in the photo above) is my sanctuary. When I cannot hear myself think, or find sense in what is going on, I retreat to the stillness and calmness of my own little oasis. Here I can become so involved in the work of digging, weeding, planting that my mind empties. Space is cleared in my whizzing brain and I can breath again.

Such as this morning, when I was frustrated about hearing there are mistakes in my ebook which is now published. Out of the Blue took two years to bring to fruition. Money was spent on editing, proof reading and all the things you are advised to take seriously. Yet still, there are some typos and grammar errors. I am told by those far more experienced, it happens. Yet as a new author, I wanted to present a properly finished piece of work. To show my intent that I was serious about my writing.

Heh ho, I am now re reading and hopefully there will not be too many errors to correct.

So there was a very great need to immerse myself this morning in the heart of my garden. Listen to the birds, watch the sparrows flit and fly about, chirruping with gusto. It lifted my heart. It also gave me a light bulb moment. Out of the Blue is mostly set in a small rural hamlet called Barley Ford. I decided whilst weeding to make it into a series of book with Barley Ford as the back drop. Now I am pushing on with Edward’s story.

Much clearer of mind and more determined than ever to crack the technical side, I am squaring my shoulders and carrying on.

I love writing too much to give up because it’s got a bit difficult. It’s all that Yorkshire grit and stubbornness coming to the fore.

Thank you for stopping by.

Till next time

Self Belief

Today is a big day for me. I have finally had the courage to press the submit button for my first novel, Out of the Blue. It now awaits approval from Amazon before hopefully going live on Kindle ebooks.

I cannot express enough the appreciation, I have for all those who have shared my journey, listened to my musings and my ‘one day I will make it happen.’ To my beautiful family for all their endless support. My friends who have read bits, offered their feedback and willed me on.

Of course, until it is actually live I’m still on the cusp. At least I’m almost there.

Now I am busy on the next story. Early days but the threads are there.

It will be fantastic to be published but for me it is about the writing of the story. The itch to be scratched when characters begin to take shape. Becoming lost in their world and their dilemmas.

My mum always believed that if you wanted something badly enough, you had to keep working at it and believe it could happen. I hope she is somewhere in the great cosmos nodding and hopefully saying, ‘You see, I knew you could do it, you just had to persevere.’

The world is full of stories, real heart wrenching and uplifting stories of everyday people and it is those people who inspire me.

My new heroine Alice, has her own story developing. A wish to be fulfilled and yet find a way to live her own life. A real will she won’t she?

Stay safe out there and thank you for dropping by.

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