A Work In Progress

During lock down I decided to learn some new skills. I had a broken plate and egg cup which I fixed using Kintsugi. I’d never been able to crochet to a pattern before but now I can. I also gilded a mirror which had been on the to do list for about twenty years. I took up painting and watched endless hours of tutorials on YouTube. Now, people actually ask me to paint portraits of their pets. Well, dogs. I haven’t progressed to cats or hamsters but I did paint a nice colourful unicorn for my niece’s daughter. Once someone asked me to paint a portrait of their late father but I didn’t want to insult the family so i had to decline that one. Of course, none of these compare to writing. It’s always been my passion.

Since beginning, I’ve had people ask me to turn them into a character but unless you’re a vampire or you invent time travel, there’s not much hope of getting into anything I write. Occasionally I’ll pull out a story that’s not fantasy but it’s normally a short story for one of the many competitions I’ve never won.

Like everything else in life, all of the hobbies I partake in are a work in progress. Just like this blog. Sometimes I don’t show up for months and then here I am actually writing two posts in a week. But that’s what hobbies are about. They’re something to do in you spare time – if and when you have spare time. Maybe one day I’ll actually be good enough at something to make a real mark out there. Perhaps someone will actually read something and think that it’s not so bad after all. Who knows, but the most important thing with anything you do is to just keep trying and never give up!

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The Rut

It seems as though I’ve been slightly neglectful.

After a long hot summer, which I never thought I would experience in this part of the world, I’m trying to pull myself out of the deep rut that I’ve carved. I guess realising I’ve become a repetitive creature who goes about the same routine every day without any digression at all is the first step. But how to go about it, that’s the conundrum. The way I see it, I can stay in the comfort of my deep rut or climb out. Within my rut there’s no time for much else but reading the pile of books I’ve purchased from charity shops. Sometimes I’ll put down the book and do a bit of housework or cook something but I’m sort of obsessed with researching books and authors and trolling reading lists to find stuff I didn’t know existed. I have to confess right here that I have read four books in four days before. It’s kind of sad, but that’s my rut.

Now, how do I do it? Do I slowly climb out a tiny step at a time or do I change the routine completely and discard the books for a week or two. That would never happen. So, slow and steady is the best bet. Does it require some sort of change management plan? Or do I just wing it? If I climb out of the left side of the rut and fail, do I try to get out on the right side? What if I do that and fail again finding myself back in that deep groove without a ladder? All of these questions and more are swirling round in my head like autumn leaves in a whirlwind.

I’m not really a list maker and I don’t normally live by rote. I like to think I’m the spontaneous boring type who lives in an unchallenged rut. I have been known to make a silly decision on the spur of the moment and just go with it. Normally, after a few hiccups and even a few tears, my plans work out. So I guess the method on this occasion is the gradual change from spending my days with my nose in a book, to slowly working other activities into the routine.

On the plus side, my home library is growing!

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The Rewrite

If you could rewrite your life, would you? I don’t mean changing bits and pieces, I mean a total change. A new identity, a completely different background and family, and all of the people and places that had become familiar, gone, just like that.

I’ve often thought about this. It’s not that I would do it but sometimes there are days, months, decisions that I’d like to go back and revisit. Whether I’d change them if I could, well, I’m unsure about that. If it meant losing friends and family that were dear to me then I wouldn’t change a thing, but if those people could somehow be transferred to my new life then so be it.

There are times when I wish I was younger, richer, more successful and so many other things, but I’d still want to be me with my experiences and my memories of the of the good times, the bad times, the travel, the sickness, the worry, in fact, everything.

This question inspires me and makes me think and I know, as I sit here typing this entry, that I’m about to embark on something incredible. Watch this space!

Challenges and Hurdles

Sometimes I get distracted. The distraction leads me in a direction that takes me off on another path and I as much as I try to return to what I was doing before, it doesn’t quite turn out the way I want it too.

When I was a little girl, I hated the school sports day because we had to compete in everything and I always knocked over the hurdles. Not all of them but as I stood at the start line, I knew at least one would fall. Perhaps I jinxed myself and even though I’m taller than I was when I was ten, I still have that fear that the hurdle might fall and when it falls, you never really make it over – or do you? Just because you didn’t clear it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not behind you.

I have a firm belief that you can control your own destiny in a round about sort of way. There are people in this world who make lists and plan right down to the wire. I’ve seen spreadsheets and tick lists that are so meticulous that there’s no room for any type of detour and people actually stick to these stringent agendas. I’m nothing like that and sometimes it makes me wonder if I should be. I’ve tried to stick to routines and plan my day successfully, but I always find myself doing the exact opposite of what I set out to do. For instance, I used to keep a notebook which had a list of stuff that I planned each day. Most of the time, It sort of worked. Then, I finished the notebook, threw it in the bin and decided I would use a spreadsheet because it would be better than wasting paper. Once again, I was wrong and that habit never really developed so I was back to floundering my way through the day. It doesn’t mean it’s not working for me though.

Over the last four days I’ve read four books. That’s right, four. One made me cry for the last two chapters and I had to stop and wipe my eyes so I could finish it. Instead of doing the ironing, I decided to write this post because that’s what I constantly do. I get ideas or I start to read a book and these things distract me. I’ve decided that distractions aren’t so bad. I think that spontaneity is the spice of life and sometimes, without even realising, it’s these moments that make us challenge ourselves and without knowing, we conquer the hurdles. The distractions lead me into the challenges that make life interesting and with each new discovery, I make a choice. This is how I control my destiny – in a haphazard sort of way, because whether I realise it or not, I’m the one making the choices.

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Too Many Projects

Is there such a thing?

We all want to keep busy because apparently, idol hands are the Devil’s tools. I guess that’s true if you’re evil and enjoy causing trouble. I like to keep busy. When one project finishes, another normally starts. However, this is not always the case for me. I get bored easy. So I flit from one to another. Let’s face it, I’ve never been a good finisher. I remember the immortal words of teachers gone by, “where’s your assignment Sandra?” These words still haunt me and every time I start something new, I wonder if I’ll finish.

At the moment, I have unfinished paintings, woodcraft, sewing and of course writing. There are so many ideas in my head when it comes to short stories that I often start them, save them and then discover them months later and wonder what the hell I was going to write. To top it off, I’m trying so hard to start running again, but that isn’t going as well as it was yesterday. It’s quite disturbing in some respects, but it does give you an idea of what sort of person I am.

For this reason, I try to steer clear of places such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Sadly I’m often sucked into binge watching some sort of ridiculous show and then realising that during that time I could have put at least two projects to bed. It’s a situation I’ve become aware of as the years slip by and I realise that time is the most important commodity I have.

So, after thinking about it clearly and typing it out here, I suppose there can never be too many projects but there is, in fact, too much time wasting.

The Power of Positive Thinking.

I woke up the other day and the alarm was going off so, instantly I pressed snoozed. I don’t how many other people press the snooze button but I bet it’s more than a few. Anyway, I pressed it more than once. I’m not sure why I set the alarm to that particular time when I know I don’t have to get out of bed yet. I’ve always liked to wake up gradually and not jump out of bed as soon as my eyes open.

Anyway, after I dragged myself into the shower I started to think about the way I think. I’ve always tried to be positive and look for the silver lining. Sometimes it takes longer to find it but it’s normally lurking in there somewhere. That led me to think about the past few years and the upset that certain things have caused, to not just a few but millions. I started to feel thankful. I didn’t loose my life to covid and I suppose if I’ve gotten through it so far, I can continue. I can still work and my day job is quite an active one so being mobile is something else I’m thankful for. I can pay my own bills and I afford to keep a roof over my head. I have friends who like to spend time eating out and chatting about ridiculous things that don’t really have any impact on life. I have spare time to just sit and stare at the walls if I want to and thankfully, I don’t have to flee from a war torn country. I have peace of mind knowing that when I go to bed at night, I’m more than likely going to wake up when the alarm goes off.

So, after thinking in such a positive way for a few days, I started running again.

Listen….

I recently received an email from Google Play who now offer an auto-narrated option for eBooks. I’ve always been a reader and I don’t particularly learn anything from listening. I never listened to my mum, or my school teachers and I have sort of made my own rules up along the way. In short, I don’t like being told what to do.

So this got me thinking. Are there people in this world who like to be read to even as grown ups and if so what’s the attraction? When I read a book I sometimes have to read paragraphs twice because even though the story line is interesting enough to keep me engaged, certain words or sentences can evoke memories and sometimes, sidetrack me from the book. But if I was listening to the smooth, rounded tones of the reader, would it engage me or would I just nod off? Is this something you can do while you’re out jogging around a track or is it one of those relaxing in a big comfy chair type of activities? And, if I was listening to someone tell me a story, would I miss my train stop or maybe even get on the wrong train? There are so many questions that I have about this method but I feel as though anything is worth a shot. However, before I hit the go button, I probably should listen.

Hooked on Crime

At the moment I seem to be addicted to criminals and crime novels. In particular, Agatha Christie books. These cosy mysteries are keeping me up late at night and when I wake on morning,I reach straight for the current novel. I guess it’s better than reaching for the mobile or a bottle of something.

When I’m not reading about murders or working on an eBook,I find myself watching Sherlock on DVD. I know that I’m probably not alone and there are millions of people who do these types of things, but I’m curious about genre. What is it that attracts a person to a murder mystery and why do we find ourselves trying to work it out alone the way. When the clues come together at the end of the book, I kick myself for not working it out but sometimes they’re so subtle that they’re not easy to recognise. In some cases there doesn’t seem to be anything in particular that singles out one person and I often find myself wondering how the author thought up the case and how it was done. I guess it’s like any type of book because I’ve written crime myself and sometimes, I don’t realise how it’s all going to come together until just before I finish. I’m not really a list maker and I don’t sit there working out a plot like we were taught to do in high school. There isn’t a list of characters, they get invented along the way and sometimes, they become more prominent than I thought they would be.

Anyway, I doesn’t really matter how or why it’s written, that’s irrelevant. I love a cosy mystery and I suppose I always will.

The writer, the reader, the book restorer!

I’ve always been an avid reader. It makes sense that if you like something as much as I like reading, that you might want to pursue writing as a career. Anyway, I buy a lot of books in all different genres. I’ll pretty much read anything and every book I read adds to the knowledge that helps me to write.

Recently I purchased a book online. It’s chapter book that was read to the class when I was around the age of nine. The book, The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong, is set in the Netherlands and the story has always intrigued me. So, when I found a copy online, I purchased it and couldn’t wait for my new prize to arrive. Sadly the book was covered in mold and there was even dry mould within the pages. Honestly, I don’t know why you even let a book get in this condition, let alone sell it online. I cleaned it the best way I could and then googled what to do. I had no intentions of returning the book as I had been searching for it quite some time. So trying to remove the mold from the cover of the book so that it didn’t spread was my only choice.

I found several helpful sites to help me with my problem. Although I know I can’t restore the cover to it’s former glory, I can remove the mold with a soft cloth and some hydrogen peroxide. As for the musty moldy smell, it seems that if you place the book in a bag with some bicarb or baking soda, it can take away the smell. So this is my project today to rid one of my favourite childhood books of the nasty mold.

The is the link to the page I found online which was the most helpful. Who knows, you might actually need it yourself one day.

https://biblio.co.uk/book-collecting/care-preservation/prevent-remove-mold-mildew/#:~:text=For%20a%20paperback%20book%20you,the%20book%20thoroughly%20but%20gently.

An offer I decided to refuse

I haven’t posted for quite a while because sometimes, life happens. So let me bring you up to speed.

I recently published a new eBook and did a bit of updating and advertising. Meanwhile, I got an offer from an online publisher to publish and help promote The Landowner’s Secret. This meant a lot of research on my part and a good look at what they were offering and the type of writers that they have helped in the past. It would be nice to have my eBook in a more tangible form and have it shipped out to bookstores and libraries, but the offer didn’t seem right for me.

As an author, I have spent many hours planning and plotting to come up with the goods that I think might entice more than a few buyers and although I would love to see my eBook in print and hold it in my hands lovingly, I need to think with my head and not my heart. At this particular time, the offer wasn’t quite right for me, but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be offers in the future.

So it’s a continuation of what I’ve been doing so far and an email of thanks but no thanks to the organisation who spent hours reviewing and deliberating on my behalf.