Tuesday, 2 September 2014

I must fly

I’m off to take part in what I hope will be a real-life fairytale.
 See you in a couple of weeks!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

How this writer's mind works (4)

Thankfully, this year’s thunderfly invasion hasn’t been as intense or prolonged as in previous years, but whenever I see a spattering of little, black specks all over the windows I remember the story of my encounter with this character:

I read the paragraph I’d just typed and noticed a comma where a comma shouldn’t be. I moved the cursor up to delete it. The comma wriggled down to the next line. Odd. I peered closer. The ‘comma’ was a tiny insect. I tried to blow it away. I tried to sweep it off with a sheet of paper. It didn’t budge. I leaned even closer and saw that it wasn’t on the surface of the computer monitor but inside, underneath the glass.

A thunderfly.

I’d never encountered these little beasts until we moved here. Our house faces fields mainly used for growing wheat and barley, which is where they (correct name is cereal thrips) spend most of their lives. The locals call them thunderflies because they swarm in the kind of hot, still weather that triggers thunderstorms.

Fortunately, they don’t bite, sting or spread disease. Their big nuisance factor is their size – or rather, lack of size. It enables them to get everywhere. And now one had got into my monitor and I wanted it out.

“It’s got two choices,” said the resident computer expert. “It either finds its own way out or it’ll die in there.”

Poor little thing!
This was odder still. I hadn’t felt sorry for all the hundreds, thousands (millions?) of thunderflies I’d brushed out of my hair, shaken from my clothes, wiped away or sucked up the vacuum cleaner, but seeing a lone individual wandering around right in front of me awakened my caring instincts. Was it male or female? Was it trying to escape the strange environment it found itself in, or was it enjoying its exploration? Was it hungry? Thirsty? Lonely?

Suddenly, it was a complete character with a name, history and lists of likes and dislikes. I began making up his first adventure while I went to get a cup of coffee. When I came back – he was gone.

Now I was even more concerned. I searched along the edges of the screen. Had he escaped and rejoined his little friends? Had he wriggled deeper inside? He couldn’t have (gulp) gone to that big barley field in the sky, could he?

I kept looking but I haven’t seen him again.

So if you find yourself in a cloud of black dots that makes you feel itchy all over, please pause a moment before waging war on them. One of them might be my  thunder fly. His name is Timmy.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Versatile - or just distracted?

Very belated thanks to Anne Goodwin for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.

 To be honest, I’m not sure I deserve any blogging awards at the moment as I’ve been so busy with other things that updating my two blogs has slid right to the end of my to-do list. I have no idea how Anne manages to put interesting new posts on her Annecdotal blog so regularly, but I obviously need to follow her example.

To accept the award I now have to disclose 7 things about myself that you might not already know. Here goes:

1. I never know what to say when I’m asked where I’m from because I’ve lived in so many different places. I was born in Kent, but my parents moved about a lot and then I married a man whose work took him to a new place every few years. Home is wherever I happen to be at the time.

2. My husband and I married just two months after we met. (I knew I was going to marry him on our first date, but it took him 10 days to propose!) We’re still happily together over 40 years later so it must have been the right decision.

3. I don’t have a mobile phone – and don’t want one.

4. I failed my first driving test because I was too polite. I stopped at a zebra crossing and waited patiently for two old ladies to cross the road. But they didn’t want to cross. They had just stopped on the pavement to have a chat. When I realised my mistake I stalled the car, crunched the gears, and generally went to pieces …

5. Sweet peas are allergic to me. They are one of my favourite flowers, and I’ve tried to grow them many times, but the poor little things never survive.

6. This is what’s on the wall above my desk.

7. I still don’t know what I want to be when I’m grown up.

Now comes the most difficult part of the Versatile Blogger Award. I’m supposed to pass it on to 15 other bloggers, but so many of the blogs I follow have already been nominated for this award or else they have polite ‘no awards, thank you’ notices on their blogs. So, if you’ve managed to find your way to my little blog and you think you deserve an award too, please help yourself (here are the rules) and leave a note in the comments below. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Interesting times

Writers don’t have problems.
Writers have interesting experiences that inspire new stories.

At least, that’s what I kept telling myself as I encountered one ‘interesting experience’ after another.

Here are a few highlights of the past three weeks:

No computer for two weeks (see previous post).
Car broke down in middle of busy road.
Car in garage for over a week.
Twisted ankle.
Broken teapot.
Coffee spilt on favourite white shirt (and no, that miracle stain remover doesn’t work!)
Mysterious and very itchy rash.
Thunder fly invasion.
Leaking washing machine.
Worrying news about a relative rushed to hospital.
Worrying news about a friend rushed to hospital.
  (Thankfully, they are both now recovering at home.)
Finger slammed in fridge door.
Delays, misunderstandings, missed phone calls ...
Jammed window catch.
Objects vanishing and then re-appearing in odd places.
Bad hair days. (It’s amazing I’ve got any hair left at all!)

Hoping for some quiet, and completely uninteresting days so I can start getting back to something like normal soon.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Holidays and workdays

After a lovely ten days away, I came home itching to get back to work. I'd written another chapter of The Novel in longhand and wanted to get it typed up while I could still decipher my handwriting. I also had some notes and ideas that might come in useful later, dozens of photos to download and sort, and I couldn't resist buying a few new books to put on my 'to-read' shelf.

I switched on my computer - and it refused to work properly. I guessed it was sulking because I'd left it alone too long.

After switching it off and on again, and doing whatever else people-who-understand-computers do to fix misbehaving machines, my resident expert decided that the only solution was to send it on holiday to the repair shop. So that means I've got to take some more time off.

Fortunately, I'd backed up all my important stuff before I went away so I should be able to carry on from where I left off easily enough when I get my computer back. In the meantime, I can borrow a laptop for essential work - such as this post - but finding my way round a different system takes a lot more time so I'll be putting most things on hold for a week or so.

Hope to catch up with you all soon!

P.S. Just received one piece of news that I can't wait to share. I've won 1st prize in the Worcestershire Lit Fest & Fringe Flash Fiction competition. (I know, I can't believe it either!)

Sunday, 22 June 2014

How this writer’s mind works (3)

I once had a very nosy neighbour whose main aim in life was to find out every little detail about everyone around her. She had no sense of tact and simply asked whatever she wanted to know, no matter how personal or intrusive it was.

I wanted to tell her to mind her own business. I wanted to make her understand that her constant prying was not only annoying but often very offensive. But, being a polite British person, I just avoided her as much as possible and, if she managed to waylay me, I feigned deafness and answered her questions with remarks about the weather.

When I moved house I was so relieved to find new neighbours who were friendly but liked to keep themselves to themselves.

But my nosy neighbour obviously stayed in my subconscious because she popped up again some years later – in one of my stories. It was a new genre for me that I really enjoyed writing, a mystery story that may (or may not) involve a murder!


And it is now available as an ebook from Alfie Dog Fiction for a mere 39p. 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Getting there

What’s better than being shortlisted for a writing competition?

Being shortlisted twice!

I couldn’t decide which of three very short stories to submit to the Worcestershire Lit Fest & Fringe Flash Fiction competition so I entered all three, and two of them have made it to the shortlist.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to go to the festival because it clashes with a holiday I’m taking to help my little sister celebrate a big birthday. It looks really good though, packed with all sorts of interesting events, so I’m sure it will be very enjoyable for everyone who can get there. Perhaps I’ll make it next year …

Are you going to any festivals this summer?