Daily Life, Places to write, Writer's Blog

Writing and blog progress almost a year on…

As is traditional at the beginning of a New Year, I have been pondering the progress I have made with my writing and, more so, planning over the past year.

In February 2018, I made the decision to take a refresher course in writing before fully embarking on the planning of whichever direction it took me. I signed up with The Writer’s Bureau and enrolled in their Comprehensive Creative Writing course. I chose to tackle the fiction writing part of the course first, thinking it would be my strongest and, therefore, the easiest, to start with.

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A published author, Sheila Bugler, was assigned to me as my tutor and I have been infinitely grateful for her kind words and constructive comments throughout. At this stage in the course I am feeling quite pleased with myself, verging on a smugness, as my feedback has been filled with comments such as ‘excellent’ and ‘superb’ and the criticism has been over minor points which I have not found difficult to put right. Much of my grounding in grammar has stayed with me in the many years since I left school, leaving me with the energy to concentrate on content. I sailed through the fiction half of the course, even managing to have some stories and an article published.

The non-fiction side of the course started well with assignments dictating the content but when faced with which publications to write articles for I flailed around wildly. ‘Write about what you know’ was the new mantra. I felt that people wouldn’t want to read about my interests, thought they would find them boring and lacking in pzazz. I am pleased to say I was wrong, and articles ranging from my cravings during pregnancy to my addiction to dancing did spark some interest. I even received feedback from my blog posts about my husband’s kite flying.

Blog posts. Now there was a thing I hadn’t given any thought to. I didn’t even have a blog until midway through 2018. My course advised setting up a blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anything through which I could publicize my future work, even if I didn’t plan on self-publishing. I duly trotted off to my faithful friend, the World Wide Web, researched some blogs and started planning my own. I wanted a neutral colour scheme for my site, so I opted for an almost neutral pH of green/blue. I needed a header which was different but stood out as me. Having cleared my spare bedroom of as much clutter as I could, I had purchased a screen to hide the remainder of my junk. The screen was so beautiful I decided it could be my feature image. And so it is!

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In the past few months I have been slowly building my followers and have over 120 blog subscribers, over 1100 twitter followers and my Storytellingdancer facebook page receives lots of likes (when I remember to share my posts). Sharing posts can become a habit and I try to tailor them to the right social media, while trying to build a suitable audience. I follow lots of wannabe authors like myself and it is great to read and share attempts, successes and failures. I started with Pinterest but without having too much to ‘sell’ I have dropped away from the medium, dipping in only now and again when I can be bothered.

In summary, my writing is starting to go from strength to strength, with published articles and short stories accumulating on my desk. My novel, or should I say novels as I have four which I have started, is still very much a work in progress but one day I will settle to it. Maybe when my course is finished and I have more time for it.

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I continue to add some of my unpublished poems and short stories to this blog and the relevant pages and the plan is to actually HAVE a plan for my blog in 2019. Watch this space – might still be empty in a few weeks time and then my gears will kick in with a vengeance. All suggestions and tips greatly received from fellow bloggers. I need to plan my blog time, moving between poems, stories, general daily life, dancing, kite flying (my husband not me) and I don;t want to post more than five or six posts a month for fear of driving my audience away rather than encouraging new readers.

For now, as I am on my lunch hour at work, I will be content with one poem per month, one Ceroc dancing post per month and then a topical post too. Even that looks messy – I definitely need to plan this more methodically!

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Ceroc, Daily Life, Kite flying, Moving house, Places to write, Poem, Writer's Blog

Goodbye 2018

Clear away the giftwrap,
Remove baubles from the tree,
Time to close another year,
Reflecting back, a summary.

Its easy to remember,
The bad times which passed by,
But don’t forget the good times,
For 2019, standards are high.

The weather, it was varied,
In March,Β  we were snowed in,
For just a few short days and then,
In May, a heatwave did begin.

Increasingly warm weather,
The heat which we were blessed,
Some found it very hard to bear,
Was novel not to need a vest!

The summer months were endless,
The time was slow to pass,
We spent much time meandering,
On the beach and in the grass.

Kites were held aloft, up high,
The breezes light and few,
Time for me to ponder then,
To write, I began anew.

With still much time for dancing,
The air-con a mighty draw,
To cool our bodies as we moved,
Around and over the dance floor.

Family bringing changes to,
Our lives both far and near,
New homes acquired, a baby too,
New jobs, loved ones, a busy year.

Life is filled with tragedy,
Events we can’t control,
So keeping close those dear to us,
Is our friend and family role.

Never letting loved ones,
Through our fingers slip,
For hold tight onto those who care,
Will never lose our faithful grip.

The year of 2018, done,
Its time to start anew,
And as the clock strikes midnight here,
I wish a Happy New Year to you.

Daily Life, Poem, Writer's Blog

Our granddaughter, Harper, at almost four months

So many changes in such a short time,
Contentment, its so plain to see,
A home filled with love, adoration sublime,
With her daddy Kurt and with mummy Katie.
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A face which conveys to us, every need,
Be she happy or sad, it will show,
A smile and a gurgle, a full tummy indeed,
Can soon turn to frowns if she’s sleepy, you know.
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A lip with a quiver, the smile is replaced,
How else could her needs be displayed?
There’s no use in smiling, a happier face,
If the time’s right to ask for a bottle to be made.
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A suckle of soother will often suffice,
More so, if her Winnie is near,
A cuddle with family is always so nice,
So many choices, some far and some near.
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For Harper’s been blessed with her grandparents, three,
Pairs of Nannies and Grandads, such care,
She’ll never be short of much help and advice,
Whether around the corner, or a call, we’ll be there.
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Excitedly hands splay, when something she sees,
When today’s favoured playmate is near,
Sometimes it’s Dorothy, or a Teletubby,
When its in her hands, how it is favoured is clear.
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Its great she is doted on, by family and friends,
Gifts of clothes, and surrounded by toys,
Importantly, a love there which never will end,
A grateful smile, head down, her look is so coy.
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For those not so near, photos, videos if any,
Sometimes daily, to keep us in touch,
Gives us the chance to see changes, so many,
Let’s us respond, conveying we love her so much.
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Expressions, and smiles, and a face so sublime,
As a book she is read, her eyes follow,
Fascination of pages, the tales and the rhymes,
One day soon, in those stories, she’ll wallow.
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With so much to know and a lifetime ahead,
Now is the time to start learning,
With so many from whom those tales to her will spread,
Young Harper will not be left yearning.
***

Daily Life, Writer's Blog

Husband in a Million

Nine years ago, my husband and I married in a local registry office, in the middle of a snowstorm. The snow was particularly poignant as my father had passed away the previous month, his funeral having taken place less than two weeks before the wedding. Our limousine had wound its way through a deepening blanket of snow, a dicey ride. As we made our vows, heavy snow began to fall again which we took as a sign. Confetti from heaven, and the photos were beautiful.

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I first met Clive as we stood on the sidelines, trying to warm freezing hands and feet by stamping and clapping. His oldest son had joined a football team that my twin boys played for. We had hit it off instantly, the spark an immeasurable jolt.

Over the weeks,Β  as the boys team played at various venues, I began to eagerly anticipate my freezing cold Sunday mornings. Sometimes, his wife and younger son joined him and I was often joined by my partner.

We saw more of each other over the coming weeks and we both knew we had found the one. We were concerned about our children’s education and vowed to keep quiet until they had left school and exams were done. Unfortunately, although fortunately, life has a way of messing with such plans and his wife had found out about our affair within just a few weeks.

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Just two months after our first kiss, we had found a place to move into, left our prospective homes and moved in with each other. We were extremely lucky that our children all got along well so becoming step-brothers and step-sister was a relatively easy path. We both felt guilty at the disruption caused during their formative years but, on the whole, everything went smoothly.

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Clive quickly took on the role of step-dad as my own children moved in with us. Over time, the arrangements were made and his boys visited us during the week (he was allowed one evening) and then on alternate Saturday nights. It never seemed enough but we were determined not to rock the boat and went along with it.

Years passed and we grew ever closer and became a tight unit and now, nine years since we married (almost twelve since we moved in together), we could not be happier. We have learned to dance together, a hobby which has become a large part of our lives, and love spending time with each other.

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I cannot imagine a single day without that man. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I couldn’t be happier. He is a calm, loving, attentive husband who would never raise a hand to me, in fact he treats me like a queen. I think I just might be the happiest wife in the whole world.

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Center Parcs, Ceroc, Daily Life, Dancing, Kite flying, Moving house, Writer's Blog

Finding the positives from 2018

I am no different to everybody else. My family have their fair share of ups and downs, sadness and tragedies but nobody wants to hear about all of that nonsense. The glum stuff is for keeping hidden behind closed doors and away from prying eyes. I don’t want to depress my readers, especially this close to Christmas.

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I wanted to share some of the awesome times from the past year. There have been some real highlights and some great times so read on for a bit of a positive vibe.

The end of the staffing struggle

After a period of ups and downs, advertising, searching and interviews, we finally secured two excellent IT Technicians, and not a moment too soon. I had spent the previous months trying hard to manage the IT department as well as do the job of one or two technicians so I was very grateful to secure an amazing team. Life is certainly much calmer at work nowadays.

Settling times

My son, Daniel, secured himself a job at a local private hospital, after a period of insecurity as the cafe he was managing was going through changes and, subsequently, closure. He loves his work and is now much more settled. His issues following his brain surgeries over the past years seem to have settled and the side effects are now bearable, even if they have not subsided. He has rid himself of a troublesome and unreliable flatmate, turning his spare room into a games room – what else?

More settling times

My daughter and her husband were able to finalise the purchase of their first home. A beautiful four-bedroomed detached house on a new development outside of Norwich. They had rented since they first got together and are so pleased to have overcome a far-higher-than-normal number of snagging issues. I don’t think they will buy from Charles Church/Persimmon anytime in the future but they now have a fabulous home. They also secured great new jobs this year so all is well in the Woods world.

New addition

At the start of September, we welcomed the newest addition to our family – a gorgeous granddaughter, called Harper. Her parents are my husband’s oldest son and his lovely fiancee. Harper is now just over three months old and she is an adorable delight. I have genuinely never encountered such a contented baby. This has given us a great excuse to travel a couple of hours down the road to visit them and their little family as often as we can. We have also made new friends, Harper’s maternal grandparents, Pauline and Guy. You can never have too many new friends and we look forward to getting to know them better each time we visit.

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Speaking of new friends

When I mention new friends, it seems wrong not to mention old friends. We have so many friends and acquaintances through our hobby, dancing. We have far too many friends to mention but it’s worth mentioning that we almost lost touch completely with a few of our friends, because we became wrapped up in a couple of quietly-controlling dancing friends who monopolised our weekends and, through the medium of sneaky comments and suggestions, we almost, but not quite, completely lost touch with some very good friends who we had known and become close to, through dancing for years. Luckily, we were given a lifeline when those friends suddenly and unexpectedly became jealous of our visiting alternative dance venues and enjoying any dancing time without them. It’s funny how the penny suddenly drops and you feel freer than you have done for months. We realised we had become too reliant on these two, quite frankly, dull friends. The upshot is that we now have more dancing friends than ever and have rekindled an almost-lost friendship. We are both eternally grateful for all of our dear friends.

Not losing Mum

This time last year, Mum was not looking like she would be able to crawl her way to Christmas but, with some lifestyle changes, plenty of drugs and intervention from doctors, she is still with us all. Mum may not be in the best of health – far from it – but we are lucky to have had her with us for another year.

WorkmatesΒ 

Turnover of staff has meant a number of new additions to the school over the past months and I am lucky to be blessed with some lovely people in my working life.Β  I am not generally one for socialising with colleagues but with such a lovely bunch it is difficult not to keep in touch.

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Blogging and writing pages

I have almost completed my Comprehensive Creative Writing course which I am taking with the Writers Bureau and, as part of this course, it was suggested that I set up a blog and start sharing my unpublished works on my site and social media pages. This has been a successful starting year to my writing. I have had a handful of short stories published, a couple of poems and have started to build a portfolio which I am secretly quite impressed with. I have the starting chapters of four novels rattling around in my laptop but have not yet decided which one will take my full attention in 2019. Watch this space for more!

New gnashers

I am not going to go on and on about my new teeth but I am seriously pleased with them. From my baby teeth, I have always had a large gap in the front which I hated from High School when I was bullied about them. I was lucky enough to be introduced to a dentist who, over the past few months, has created me some new teeth with no gap at all. Everything feels nice and secure and they look better than they ever have done. That’s all I am going to say but its a huge positive!

A REAL summer

There was a lot of grumbling, and yes I do realise just how hot it was, but summer 2018 was awesomely warm. a few short weeks after heavy snowfall, we were beset with a glorious heatwave which lasted for most of the summer months. It was such a lovely season, I personally could not have asked for more beautiful summer weather. My husband and I were able to visit the beach and parks which gave him plenty of time to fly his kites (you can read all about this in some of my other posts) and me to do some writing.

Nieces and nephew

We are lucky enough to have three nieces and a nephew on my brother’s side. Somewhat ideally, they are aged 11, 9, 7 and 5 and they are a fabulous bunch. As with all of our family, we don’t see enough of them but have beenΒ  blessed to spend more time with them this year than ever before. We plan to do more next year so they will soon be bored with us!

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Winter Wonderland

We decided to pay for a holiday to Center Parcs, just a few miles down the road from us in Elveden, while the Winter Wonderland was in full swing. The whole resort is lit up for Christmas with sparkling white lights adorning the woodland pathways, and numerous seasonal events taking place around the site. Its truly beautiful and we made this a Christmas present for those who came with us. We hired a huge four-bedroomed lodge, each bedroom with its own en-suite. The lodge had a games room and a sauna as well as the usual kitchen, dining and living areas and was such a luxury to be there before Christmas. We loved it so much that we have booked again for next year with the addition of the new granddaughter and her mummy and daddy, too, who have never been there.

2018 has been such a positive year all round that the positives have far outweighed the negatives. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019 for all of my readers.