Goodbye 2016

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

It’s not been a good year, has it?

I’m not going to mention politics. I try to avoid that topic as much as possible on my social media accounts. I have beliefs about what went right and wrong this year, but I also respect that other people might have opposing views. In the event of confrontation, I walk away.

The non-political things that affected me this year were the deaths of so many of the celebrities I’ve grown up with.

Here are a few that really made me sad:

  • David Bowie – I saw him in concert a long time ago. It was the Earthling tour, where he’d said he would sing any of his previous songs. But, in the encore, he sang several – including Under Pressure, which is one of my favourites. I was so happy.
  • Alan Rickman – the man with the most incredible voice. Colonel Brandon, Metatron, Harry (can you name this film?), and of course, Snape.
  • Terry Wogan – the sarcastic voice of Eurovision and the host of Children in Need. When I twelve or thirteen, part of my writing dream was to appear on his evening chat show to talk about my latest best seller.
  • Ronnie Corbett – I grew up with The Two Ronnies on the telly, the background to Sunday evenings for many years.
  • Victoria Wood – a Northern lass, a great comedian, and writer of one of the best sit-coms ever, dinnerladies.

I suppose, though, they’re never truly gone. I’ll be able to listen to their albums and watch their films and TV programmes far into the future. And, at some point, I may be able to do so without a tear in my eye.

Updated: I wrote this post on 23 December – since then, I’ve updated three times as  Carrie Fisher had a heart attack, and subsequently died, and Rick Parfitt and George Michael have both gone too. My childhood was filled with every single person I’ve mentioned in this post, I have such strong memories linked to them all. To be honest, I’m struggling right now – I suppose this is part of why I’m a writer, it helps me make sense of the nonsensical…

Okay, deep breath… here’s some happier stuff…

In a year such as this, I think it’s important to remember the simple things, those small good things that happened which, in another year, are the things that might pass by completely unnoticed or taken for granted.

It was a warm, dry summer this year. I wore sandals for months, I didn’t have to wear a jacket or carry an umbrella apart from a few rare days, and I got a tan on my feet (but not my legs, they refuse!)

wp_20150616_11_04_46_proSome people won’t remember it – they tend to only recall the bad weather, whereas I make sure I appreciate the good. If you ever watch me walking my dog, I’m often staring across the river or up into the beautiful clear sky.

We bought new garden furniture and spent a lot of time using it – eating outside, writing, barbecues. We’d spent the previous year demolishing a garage, building a wall and laying new paving slabs, so it was great to not have anything to do but enjoy it.

We went to the beach, to the moors. On evenings when I was working, I walked home with the sun on my back. We visited the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, my sister had a baby, my eldest grew taller than me, and my vignette collection, You. I. Us., was published.

 

I wish you all a very happy New Year. I’m thankful 2016 is finally over, and hope to make 2017 fantastic!

What are you looking forward to in 2017?

Has 2016 affected you?  Or did you have a good year?

 

happy-new-year-2017

 

#ThrowbackThursday – “So, what do you write?”

Today’s Throwback Thursday post comes from August 2010 (before my first book was published) and – like many of my early posts – didn’t have any comments. In fact, it barely had any readers, which is why I wanted to install this feature – as a writer, it hurts when people don’t read what I’ve written. I don’t necessarily want everyone to like what I’ve written, just to read it. Anyway, here’s the post…

 

“So, what do you write?”

I hate that question.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t wander up to random people in the street and say, “I’m a writer, don’t you know?”, but sometimes it comes up in conversation that I like to write. Usually it’s because the question has already been, “What do you do?”, and when I tell people that I work part-time (14 hours per week), they wonder – aloud and incredulously – what I do with the rest of my time. And I feel compelled to tell them that I write.

aj-books-2-300pxThen the question is, “So, what do you write?”

They ask probably because it’s expected, to show an interest, and that’s great. I’m not knocking the question. I’m knocking my reply… which is always, “Er… stories, modern stuff, um… just stuff…. er, I like to have a few murders.”

“So, you write crime?”

“Er, no… it’s…”

I admit that I’m not very articulate for a writer. These poor people turn away at this point, mentally patting my head and saying, “Well, good for you.”

The reason I’m thinking about this question this morning is that last week I wrote the word surreal on this blog [my previous blog] and the more I’ve thought about it, the more that seems to sum up my work. It’s also a word that defies further explanation, so from now on that will be my answer!

Since 2010, I’ve settled on the tag of Contemporary Stories with a Hint of Paranormal. Of course, then I started writing stories that weren’t paranormal. So, I may have to go back to the drawing board again!

 

Do you struggle with this question?

Are you a genre writer? Does that make it easier to explain?

Slowing down

At this time of year, I slow down. It’s not planned, but when the sun barely breaks out from behind dense cloud and natural light is therefore hard to come by, I just want to curl up and hibernate.

Walking the dog helps, especially when I’ve got this nature reserve on my doorstep. The silence is fantastic for working through any writing problems I’ve got.

Note: that’s not a sunset, it was taken at about 2:30pm!

 

New blog for (almost) the New Year

Welcome to my new blog.

I’ve been thinking about creating a new blog for a while now, and some recent events made me wake up this morning and do it. Sometimes I just need a push. What events?

  1. A marketing meeting with Ben Galley who suggested I consolidate my blog and my website – this is a compromise of that
  2. Raimey Gallant’s NaNo Blog & Social Media Hop, a fantastic opportunity to connect with writers who’d NaNo’d. I looked at my website – the link I’d shared for the hop to create traffic  – and realised the blog part of it wasn’t fit for purpose
  3. I’m waiting on printer ink so I can print out my NaNo novel effort and start rewriting

But a couple of things held me back – I love my old blog! I love the title, the followers, the history, the fonts!

I first wrote on it in 2010, with the idea that I’d record my journey towards publication. And I did. Nineteen months after starting the blog, my first book Cat and The Dreamer was published. Three more followed, roughly once a year. I shared my early insecurities and fears, my random thoughts and pretty much every single time I suffered writer’s block.

I also connected with some amazing friends and bloggers. It’s a blog for writers, by a writer.

So when I set up my website, I used the blog feature to share the slightly less writery side of writing – a blog for readers, by a writer.

What will this blog be? Hopefully a combination of the two. But who knows! As a writer, I’m a pantser (I write without plotting, simply starting with a blank page and seeing what happens), so this blog could go anywhere.

I hope you enjoy it.