Guest Post by Ahava Trivedi; an interview with the Hopeless Husband: John Webb!

The Hopeless Husband Series (4 Book Series) by  Ahava TrivediI have enjoyed Ahava Trivedi’s Hopeless Husband series so much, I asked her if she could ‘get hold’ of her protagonist, John Webb and interview him… The results have just come in, and they are hilarious!

John Webb

John Webb is constantly looking to escape the perceived monotony of his life. He’s always getting hung up on random and strange preoccupations which become his raison d’etre until his ‘real-life’ begins as a world-famous author. All these goals are a way to inspire more self-pity as that is what gets the old man’s juices flowing to write his somewhat distorted musings about himself and his thriving victim complex.

Colleagues lament him, his wife tolerates him but as far as he’s concerned, he’s the bee’s knees. Here is your chance to decide as this week, we have an exclusive interview with the hopeless husband himself.

Hi John Webb, thanks for being with us today! I’m afraid there’s a burning question I must ask as I get the feeling it’s what we’re all thinking. What do you say about being described by some, as a hopeless husband?

JW:I say that people in this world don’t value kind and unique souls enough. Most of all, they don’t know the value of dreams, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it once again. I am a dreamer and that doesn’t make me hopeless at all – in fact it makes me a beacon of the hope that is often so missing in this weary world.

But surely, you must realize that being married, your dream has to be one that includes the other person or at least values them as an individual with their own dreams?

JW: Sure, why not?

And – would you say your dream does include Franny?

JW: Well, the written word has always been a pursuit of solitude. It’s the melding of one’s inner world with the outer. I’m actually very talented when it comes to bringing life to the world within me, especially as my writing is primarily about me.

There you go again. I didn’t see any mention of your poor wife or her dreams!

JW: That’s because you asked me about writing, which as I already outlined, is a job for a lone wolf like me. And, if you must know, Franny fully supports my writing. Each day after work, I go straight upstairs and reflect back on the hours at school and the oppression they wrought. If anything stands out, I extricate that pearl of wisdom and immediately put pen to paper.

Okay, then. And what are Franny’s dreams and ambitions?

JW: She loves having a family, if that counts as an ambition. Oh, and she’s very much into the arts and crafts. And for reasons beyond my well-developed grasp, she enjoys spending her time teaching those sods.

That’s because she’s a teacher.

JW: It goes far beyond that. The woman even invests her personal time into doing it for free. Every Thursday evening, while I’m putting my own time towards a more impressive cause, Franny chooses to stay behind at school – even when she doesn’t have to! – so she can spend yet more time cooped up with those stupid kids.

If anything, she’s always had lady luck smiling upon her, she gets to live her dreams on a daily basis and be married to a precious and rare gem like me at the same time.

Okay, then. Wow, I’m actually thinking, we should get Franny to come in and talk to us.

JW: Oh, really? Why? There’s nothing she could tell you about me that I can’t tell you about myself.

That’s precisely it. I’d like to know what she feels about all this.

JW: All what?

You! Your arrogance, your utter cluelessness about anything and anyone who’s not you! I’m not your wife and yet I feel if I was, I’d punch you!

JW: Well, that’s not very fair. If you got to know me, I swear you’d love me. That, or be insanely jealous of me. It usually only goes two ways, from my experience.

Okay, I’ve interviewed hundreds, if not thousands of people in my career and I’ve never asked any of my guests to do this before, but I really want to…how do I say this? I really want to come away liking you so why don’t you try redeeming yourself? Tell us something you’ve done for someone else. It can be absolutely anything in the world.

JW: Okay, hmm, let’s see, our wedding anniversary is coming up soon, mine and Franny’s that is, and we’ll be celebrating twenty-five years of matrimonialdelight.

Alright, now we’re getting somewhere…

JW: For our anniversary, I’m going to be treating my beloved to a present she’ll never forget.

That does sound rather nice, unlike some of the things I’ve heard about you. What is it?

JW: That would be telling! All I’ll say, is it’ll involve the help of many talented people to bring it all into existence. And, use of my endless wit and cunning to keep a secret until just the right moment.

Alright,I have to say I’m very curious…

JW: Let’s just say, Franny will thank her lucky stars that she married me!

That sounds fantastic. You know, John, I have to say, I feel like I’ve judged you incorrectly.

JW: It’s the peril of being me. so much grandeur that people are often intimidated.

Right…And that’s all we have time for this week folks! To find out more about John Webb, you can follow his series.

The Hopeless Husband series is available via the following links :

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads (which will have links to everywhere).

Ahava Trivedi is a skilled writer, I believe her main focus is YA Fantasy literature, but this tangent into comedy-drama (my genre) has been wonderful. Thanks for the guest post, Ahava, and thank you for writing these fab books!

 

The Anniversary (The Hopeless Husband Series, #1)

Ahava Trivedi

Ahava Trivedi grew up in the south of England and almost on a whim one day, decided to up and move to Toronto, Canada with her sister. She is mostly a fiction author who, similar to her hasty move across the pond, likes to explore different genres that interest her by diving headlong into them first and figuring out her story as she goes along.

Ahava is currently writing some humorous reads that have taken shape as The Hopeless Husband Series. The first book in the series, ‘The Anniversary’, is out now and the next ones will be available very soon!

If you’d like to get an email whenever Ahava releases a new title or decides to give books away for free (she does this from time to time!), sign up for exclusive updates at http://www.ahavatrivedi.com

If you’d like to contact Ahava, she’d love to hear from you! Here are some ways to get in touch:

The Twitter-verse: @Ahava_Tee

The Facebook Page: Ahava Trivedi Author

Telepathy: Hey, why not? Give it a try – you can do it if you believe you can!

Thank you for reading, and join me same time next week when Book Two of Curmudgeon Avenue The Harold and Edith Adventures starts!
Happy reading, Samantha xx

Exciting guest posts happening soon on this blog!

Hello from Bury on this Thursday afternoon. Now that serialising Curmudgeon Avenue has come to an end, I have been asking if anyone would like to guest post on my blog to talk about character and title names. And to illustrate bits of book number two of Curmudgeon Avenue The Harold and Edith Adventures I cannot contain myself about the talented folks who have already said yes.

Illustrations coming soon from Lyndsey Prince at https://ellepeablog.wordpress.com/

72222595_1305615952946126_3185449730159149056_n

Here is a sketch Lyndsey Prince did of Wantha Rose, my sassy Mancunian character in the Curmudgeon Avenue series.

Kerry Howarth, at https://www.instagram.com/artbykez_/ has very kindly offered to illustrate a chapter. I predict big things, she is so talented. Please give her a follow on her Instagram, here is a snippet Seven from Stranger Things:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B03k-12hrTn/

Amazing!

Now for a few hints at my author guest posts,

71AqHGdYbHL._AC_US218_.Ahava Trivedi has interviewed her protagonist John Webb from her Hopeless Husband series

And! News just in Deborah J Miles of https://againsttheflowpress.blogspot.com/ fame (advanced league blogging) has kindly written a blog post about her book Orchard View

Orchard View

The above two are going to appear within the month.

Also, when I asked my poet friend Alex Cavanagh why he never titles his poems, he answered ‘It’s just my thing’ blog post about his mindblowing poetry coming soon! Here’s a snippet from his Facebook page HERE Words From Within, a snippet:

Is it deal or no deal no one knows,
What’s going on does anyone know,
Are we in or out, have the government gone,
Who’s in charge now who’s the one,
On Halloween is it time to go,
Is it cards to the chest or time to show,
Were you a stay or leave does it even matter,
The pm is lost and the bench is in tatters,
Do the borders close or do we stay part,
Of some of the greatest countries about,
Do we share in a world with hope and power,
Or do we step out of the sun and into the shower,
Can we feed our family from our own back yard,
Or do we share with our neighbours? Hard,
Decisions now far out of our hands,
The majority bestowed this on our precious land,
So I close my eyes for I dont really follow,
And the thought of change is hard to swallow,
I have no idea what’s comming our way,
No real understanding of shit day to day,
So exit or not something’s going to be,
So until that day I’m just being me.

(A. Cavanagh 2019)

So stay plugged in, to my blog everyone!

Happy reading, Samantha xx

 

‘Write What You Know’ Doesn’t mean ‘Write What You Know’ (and I’m over the moon about this)

The above is actual footage of me losing it during medication time in my old job when I was a ward sister (or deputy ward manager in the modern naughties) on a psychiatric ward. Not really! The photo is from the WordPress free photo library (thank you).

Ever since I had to give up nursing (sad face) and start writing (YAY!), there are certain phrases, questions and instructions that us writers often hear. And when I say hear, I mean roll our eyes and get bored with.

So that’s what I’m going to talk about this month, in my writerly ramblings post. Thank you for joining me, and yes, I know I made that word up…

WHY DON’T YOU WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW?’ 

Me: ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!

Fortunately, my mature student adventure of my Creative Writing degree has taught me that when ‘they’ ask ‘Why don’t you write what you know?’ In true expert literary terms does not mean ‘Write what you know about (in the sense of I used to be a nurse, so write about nursing)’ No, this means, write about what you know as a human being, use your senses, your imagination and your memory. This will help you with your descriptions, your characters, everything. I mean what you can see, taste, feel… what you can create.

THE ABOVE IS WHAT YOU KNOW AS A WRITER.

THRILLER WRITERS HAVE NOT COMMITED MURDER IN ORDER TO WRITE ABOUT IT.

HILARY MANTEL WAS NOT ALIVE DURING TUDOR TIMES YET SHE WAS ABLE TO IMAGINE ENOUGH TO EXPERTLY WRITE ABOUT THEM.

RICHARD ADAMS WAS NOT A RABBIT, YET IF YOU’VE READ WATERSHIP DOWN YOU WILL HAVE FELT LIKE YOU’VE LIVED IN A WARREN. 

I do hope that has cleared things up for those of you who insist on asking those questions to myself and other writers.

This is not to say that I may have drawn on my experiences of psychiatric nursing to write a short story for my degree (one that I got 92% for btw)

Happy writing, Samantha xx

PS Join me next month for my writerly rambling about character names – I feel a guest post series coming on!

 

 

Memorable books I have read during the last twelve months or so.

It has been a while since I’ve reviewed a book on my blog. I only read books that I like and have chosen to read myself, so I’m by no means a professional reviewer. By that I mean I am not the true definition of a reviewer (someone who appraises by providing a critique) if I only read books that I like, then I am already biased, because I know I’m going to enjoy and give a high star review – if you understand me.

That said, I do review most books I read on Amazon UK and Goodreads. As you may or may not know, I am halfway through a Creative Writing and English Literature degree. My next module involves reading lots of books that I haven’t chosen myself. What if I don’t like them? I’m even putting off looking on the list to see what I have to read…

Without further ado… here are some books that I chose to read myself, loved and reviewed they have stuck in my mind and now I’m sharing with you like all good readers should.

Peddling Doomsday by Petra Jacob. This is memorable because of the main character, Deirdre and the satire was top class.

Here’s my review:  Wow that was amazing! I’ve just finished reading this book and couldn’t put it down. We get to meet poor Deirdre who is cajoled into joining a weird cult where everyone gets a new name apart from… well I wouldn’t want to spoil that bit it’s priceless! This dystopian mayhem tells of the wrongs of modern life .. I was reading and giving the author an imaginary high five!

Peddling Doomsday by Petra Jacob

Here’s the blurb: ‘You don’t know how significant you are. We need you.’

No matter where she is, Deirdre feels out of place. So when a cult known as the Center contacts her, wanting her join up, she’s intrigued. They say a terrible war is coming, humanity is in danger and without explaining why, say she’s needed for the fight. Suddenly the chance to be spectacular is within her grasp. With the charismatic Myra as the cult leader, and talk of prophecies and psychic abilities, Deirdre is soon seduced and ditches her humdrum life to join up.

Once inside, her understanding of the world shifts. She learns the truth about the elite, a secret organisation that has meddled with humanity since the beginning of time. The elite use entertainment and the media as a constant distraction to stop people from reaching their true potential. To free themselves of this conditioning, the followers must give up ‘excessive’ food and sleep. They also carry out increasingly bizarre rituals under the critical eye of the Captain, a minor leader of the new followers. He seems to take pleasure from turning them against one another.

Tensions increase. The followers gain odd new abilities, but bullying and hysteria also grow. Meanwhile Myra’s prophecies become increasingly extreme. As paranoia intensifies, Deirdre questions where the belief ends, and delusion begins.

Peddling Doomsday by Petra Jacob is available here UK or here US

 

An Englishwoman’s Guide to The Cowboy by June Kearns. This book has stuck in my head because it was just so beautiful. I felt like my Nana would have read it had she still been with us. I noticed another blogger review this book recently and I thought OH I’ve been meaning to do a blog of memorable books…

Here’s my review:

I remember my mum telling me that my nana used to stay awake all night reading ‘Westerns’, and here I was last night reading this beautiful book, getting little sleep because I could not put it down! Goodness knows which books Nana was reading, but you hardly ever hear the term ‘Western’ as a genre anymore. I would say if anything this was an excellent adventure romance written of the time and setting. Good for Annie, escaping her matronly Aunt Bea, cousin Charlotte, and unwanted suitor, whilst collecting the affections of the moody and mysterious Colt. She managed to rescue a puppy and solve a mystery about her father too. Go, Annie! I was so pleased for the character, that’s how well this book was written

An Englishwoman's Guide to the Cowboy

Here’s the blurb: Jane Austen meets Zane Grey

The American West, after the Civil War -a wild and restless place.
Into this background, wanders a party of Englishwomen. Well-bred, bookish spinster, Annie Haddon – (product of mustn’t take off your hat, mustn’t take off your gloves, mustn’t get hot or perspire Victorian society)- together with an aunt the last word in snobbery, and a spoiled and brittle cousin.

After a stagecoach wreck, Annie is thrown into the company of Colt McCall – a man who lives by his own rules and hates the English.

Can two people, moulded by their backgrounds and pasts, overcome that conditioning? Annie and McCall find out on their journey across the haunting, mystical landscape of the West.

An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy is available here UK or here US

 

Orchard View by Deborah J. Miles. This book stuck in my mind because of the chilling way that one of the characters was written out (no spoilers!)

Here’s my review:

My overall view of this book was that it gave me that wonderful feeling of wanting to carry on reading. The house, Orchard View tells her own story of people that have lived within her walls, judging their various misdemeanours whilst revealing her own quirks – who doesn’t love a mention of crazy paving? I enjoyed being taken back to 1980s aspiring suburbia here! Deborah J Miles has an intriguing and wonderful style, some of the chapters were almost stories within the story (I love that), chapters of the house’s life going back in time but brought together by the present; (set in the mid-90s) when builder Bill Maynard buys Orchard View and plans to convert it into bedsits the neighbours get involved, and here, the story unfolds into a web of drama that I dare not spoil but trust me it is a good read.

Orchard View

Here’s the blurb: Digging in the garden, builder and current owner, Bill Maynard, discovers some old bones. He worries that the discovery will upset his plans for renovating and selling the house.
Fortunately, his neighbour tells him the whole area was a burial site at the time of the Black Death and finding bones is commonplace.
“Well, as they’re so old and the museums have enough bones already, I suppose we can ignore them. It’s not like there’s been a murder and we’ve just found the body,” he justified his decision.
But had they?
His discovery sets off a chain of unfortunate events.

Orchard View by Deborah J Miles is available here UK and here US

 

The Witches of Castle Clair (2 book series) by Sharon Booth. This series sticks in my mind because when I was little, I was told that my name Samantha is a witches’ name. I’ve always believed I have special powers – any day now they will come into use I’m sure of it.

Here’s my review of book 1: I liked everything about this book, it is a Christmas read because of the setting, the festival of ‘yule’ and the anniversary of a legend. Sky St Clair finds herself in a situation where she has no choice but to return home, moving in with her two sisters in a house and (fictional I think but totally believable) town in Yorkshire that thrives off myths and legends about witchcraft. The characters were so real, their names their suggestion of mystery. Who is this bloke Sky meets on the train? Who does this cat belong to that seems to have made itself at home in the family shop? Why won’t her sister blow out that candle? I wanted to know, but then I didn’t want it to end!

Belle, Book and Christmas Candle (The Witches of Castle Clair 1) by [Booth, Sharon]My Favourite Witch (The Witches of Castle Clair Book 2)

Here’s the blurb from book 2: The world is full of magic, if you know where to look.

It hasn’t been an easy time for Star St Clair. Her father has heaped disgrace on the family, and the man she loves rejected her when he discovered the truth about her powers. But the St Clair family’s magical heritage goes back centuries, and no one could be prouder of that than Star. Neither her father, nor Benedict Greenwood, will be forgiven.

Fate, however, has a shock in store for her. Not only is her errant father back in town, along with his new fiancée, but her ex has arrived home with a new girlfriend in tow. Maths teacher Elsie is everything Benedict seems to want – bright, steady, normal. How can Star possibly compete with her? Not that she intends to, of course. She is a St Clair, after all, and Benedict won’t get a second chance.

Benedict is an anxious man. Bad enough to discover your girlfriend is, in fact, a witch, but running out on her was probably a big mistake. Who knows what she’s plotting in revenge? Taking Elsie home to meet his grandmother is a test of nerve, and Star’s behaviour doesn’t exactly bring him peace of mind. Just what is she up to?

Star couldn’t be sweeter to Elsie, and even presents her with a bouquet of flowers to welcome her to Castle Clair, but Benedict isn’t fooled. Star is plotting something, and when Elsie suffers from a mysterious ailment, he is convinced that it’s all down to his ex-girlfriend. After all, everyone knows witches can’t be trusted.

But events are about to unfold that will challenge both Star and Benedict, and everything they believe to be true. In an attic room in North Yorkshire and a village hall in Ireland, unpalatable truths must be told, secrets must unfold, and life-changing decisions must be made.

Is forgiveness truly impossible? Are witches really that scary? And can a solution be reached before time, patience, and all the bourbon biscuits run out?

A story of pride, prejudice, and a whole lot of magic …

Available here UK and here US

 

The Hopeless Husband series by Ahava Trivedi. This series stuck in my mind because aside from the fact I really enjoyed it, the hopeless husband series is the closest (close but not exactly the same) to my Curmudgeon Avenue series.

Here’s my review of book one: I did enjoy this book. John Webb truly is a hopeless husband, I’m ashamed to say his antics made me smile all the way through, his poor wife! If you’ve ever dated(and dumped) a narcissist, this book is a true picture of the bullet you dodged. Well worth a read, despite your romantic history!

The Anniversary by Ahava TrivediWife Swap (The Hopeless Husband Series, #2)Romantic Break (The Hopeless Husband Series, #3) And book four is out August 10th.

Here is the blurb from book 2: Franny and John Webb are back and they unwittingly find themselves in the midst of a wife swap. John Webb almost instantly hates his new set up but Franny is rather enjoying her new home – and husband.

Will Franny want to come home to John Webb and his consistent blunders, or will the dashing stranger be able to tempt Franny to start a new chapter in her life?

Here are the links to book one (which will lead you to the rest follow this link for all four books

Join me next month to find out which book has stuck.

Happy reading, Samantha xx

 

On Achieving a Distinction in The Creative Writing Module of My Degree.

Hello everyone, and thank you for joining me on my monthly ‘writerly ramblings’ blog post., (yes I made that word up!)

Yesterday, I was thrilled to bits to receive an overall score of 82% in the creative writing module of my degree. I have no words, I have regained my self-worth.

Achievable, I would say because I am studying with the Open University. The teaching and support is first class. I don’t need to leave my house. I only work when I feel up to it, (I have to pace myself ALL the time because of fatigue). I can turn the computer off if I get a headache, or if my eyes start hurting, and so on. I won’t go on about MS, you won’t meet two people who have the condition with the same symptoms, and impetuously worded conversations around it can become rather tiresome.*

When I was forced to give up nursing six years ago due to having MS, I went through a very difficult time. This is part of my (non-fiction) story.  When I started writing ‘full-time’ an ex-colleague commented ‘If you can do that, why can’t you still work?’ Not the case, and not the point either, it was not my decision to leave work, and it was not my fault that I have this chronic condition.

You can see why I am nervous about celebrating my good news, but the point I am trying to make is, this is me now. There is hope, it is possible to dig yourself out of a hole, and if you happen to be reading this post because you have searched ‘writing inspiration’ then I am saying to you ‘JUST GO FOR IT’. Writing will give you SO MUCH.

Writing for me is not just a case of my legs don’t work like they used to so now I have to do something different. I write because I love it. I love reading, I love escaping into a different world and I love that I can write and escape into another world too. And I am studying writing because my husband (correctly) suggested ‘why don’t you learn your trade?’

I write because it feels like this is what I should be doing.

Getting a good result has been an added bonus, I have learnt so much during this module which will hopefully feature in further blog posts – in particular, that ‘writing what you know, doesn’t mean writing what you know (about)’. That blew my mind, and I was very pleased to learn it. I don’t think J K Rowling knew about how to be an eleven-year-old wizard, and Stephen King did not know how to be a menstrual teenager but they still wrote about what they could see, smell, taste, imagine etc – this is what you know – AS A HUMAN.

On reflection, I have learnt that I am ‘safe’ in my writing style, this is what I’ll be working on next – although I cannot promise any sex scenes in my series Curmudgeon Avenue!

I must also add to why I am able to ‘achieve’; I am in a good place, I have an amazing, supportive husband not only in what he says but he makes life easy for me. Doing the shopping, the garden, walking the dog, anything. My daughter is the funniest person I know and, she has grown up! She has a fab job and lives with her lovely boyfriend. (in other words, I don’t have small children to look after!)

Edna and Genevieve cover_000Featured Image -- 1533This is the Curmudgeon Avenue series

 

Happy reading and writing everybody! Samantha xx

PS, the picture is from WordPress’ free photo library, I have a while to go before I graduate. 🙂

1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire)

To celebrate almost two years since the publication of my first full-length novel, it has had a bit of a polish, a new cover and the addition of a subtitle.

The book is a 20th century historical fiction about Ernest, who dreams of becoming the next cycling champion to hail from 1960s Lancashire. But his mother is petrified by the events in the news, will he win the race before the world blows up?

It is available to download here US  here UK

Here’s a snippet:

Later that same day, when the Sunday roast had been cleared away, and hours had passed with nothing to do and nothing to say. Ernest, his mother and Uncle Billy took the weekly bus journey to Auntie Marigold and Uncle Norman’s house.

     Marigold Bradshaw was always going to do well for herself in life. This was obvious on the Bradshaw family photograph, captured in sepia when Marigold was fourteen and Rose was nine. Marigold, imposing and impressive on the back row, shoulders straight, hair behaving itself, brand new dress. The centre of the photograph, the centre of attention, her proudly positioned head articulated ‘I plan to marry well’. Marigold stood above her little sister: Rose, who was perched upon a three-legged stool underneath Marigold. Head bowed, small and shy with her hair in her eyes, and a hand me down dress. Rose had no plan, but in life, received a surprise. Marigold pitied her little sister, but it was not her job to pass judgement; not on a Sunday.

Happy reading, Samantha xx

Work in Progress (Another Short Story Collection)

Happy Wednesday everyone, and thank you for joining me on my monthly writerly rambling post.

Today I would like to talk about a very exciting WIP,  The Grit and the Wit. 

This is about to be a fantastic short story collection written half by my writer friend Maggie Melville and half by me (we are thinking of alternating the stories).

Maggie and myself met at Whitefield library about five years ago, when we had joined a creative writing class. We all used to read our stories out, Maggie’s were always brilliant and somewhat ‘gritty’ compared to mine.

Image may contain: one or more people and glasses

So far, Maggie has written a heart-wrenching story involving a boat and a story about a young girl from the point of view of her mother. It’s chilling, trust me. I can’t wait to read the finished product (no pressure, Maggie!)

I am still writing and polishing mine. So far I have a story about a mantel-piece clock passing judgement on the house owner. One about the Orangemen march in Southport and one about a tom-cat with several owners.

Interestingly, we are both thinking of a garden-themed story. There is so much you can do with gardening – which reminds me, the recent rain in Manchester has sprouted many, many weeds on my front path …

black and white flower dandelion minimal
Photo by Jack Hawley on Pexels.com

 

No doubt, I will be telling you all about the progress of our project over the next few months. Do not worry, the fourth book in the Curmudgeon Avenue series ‘The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue’ is also on the way.

Now for a snippet of one of the short stories about a KISS fan and a cancelled concert:

     When I get back on the tram, I am joined by some day time drinkers on their way home. The noise has returned, but I don’t feel like talking after what I’ve just read. A bloke about my age wearing trainers and a Happy Mondays T-shirt breaks away from his mates and sits next to me.

     ‘You ok, love?’ He says, taking a sip of his can of beer. I say nothing. ‘Sorry, it’s just that you look sad, I thought I’d better say hello, make sure you’re alright.’

     ‘Yes, I’m… I’m sorry’ I don’t know what to say. The bloke shouts to one of his mates, who turns out to be his brother.

     ‘Brother! Bruv! Got any more cans in your pockets? This lady…’ He gives me a sideways glance as if to double check I’m female… ‘She needs a can of beer to cheer her up!’

One of them shouts over, pulling his fingers and thumb into the sign of the horns.

      ‘Aww it got cancelled didn’t it?’ Like we’ve got something in common. They all come and pile on the seats around me. They’ve been to a tribute do for the victims. I feel even more guilty now. The first bloke puts his arm around me, and my hair gets tangled in my studded jacket.

  ‘Don’t worry, we’ll cheer you up. We are from Manchester, and this is what we do, innit?’

 

We will keep you posted, happy writing and reading everyone. See you next month for my next writerly-rambling. Here is a picture of some flowers from my garden:

20180701_122429

Samantha xx

Life Writing is Sucking the Life Out of Me, But it’s OK, I’m Not Famous.

Thank you for joining me on my monthly ‘writerly’ ramblings. This month, I would like to share my thoughts on life writing.

Life writing is everywhere, on TV American popular sit-com The Goldbergs dramatizes the young life of Adam Goldberg in the 1980s, which reflects many of us Generation X types. Blogs, columns and biographies of celebrities are all around us. Imagine studying it – life writing in an academic setting…

I would go as far as saying most of March was one giant brain-fog for me. I didn’t do a time and motion study, but I’m convinced that I blogged less, I twittered less… Facebook? That suffered too. I started writing a short story for Maggie Melville Author and my WIP The Grit and The Wit … couldn’t finish it…

I am directly relating this to the life writing section of the creative writing degree I’m studying at the moment. Oh, the practice activities! Oh, the self-indulgence! Oh, the catharsis! Exhausting! (Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying and getting the most out of my time with the Open University *hope no one’s watching!)

It’s ‘done now’ and I’ve finished the relevant assignment, (not about me). Here’s a little snippet of life writing that is otherwise going to waste in a notebook.

I had never been in a fight. Not really. My older sister used to ‘sit on us’ if she viewed we had done something wrong. I remember it had been particularly cold on this day in the playground. I also remember what she was wearing, a royal blue dogtooth snood from Marks and Spencer. In 1986, this was the height of fashion (for a middle-aged woman, not for an eleven-year-old child. I was wearing my older sister’s hand me down duffle coat. I can’t remember what we were arguing about … something to do with how to play a game. She had gripped me by the forearms, gaining purchase at the elbow and I had grabbed her back (how dare I?) It was obvious, however, who was going to get the upper hand. Without warning, she shoved me back so forcefully with the strength of her premature thunder thighs that I fell backwards suddenly and on to the wet tarmac. My teeth rattled inside my face forming instant tears, the production of which produced an involuntary laugh. I looked up to see Tracey from the year below looking all concerned with the blue of her wide eyes against her pale cheeks. The other girls were now crowded around the pusher, asking HER if SHE was alright! Goodness knows why I stayed friends with her after this, and for so many years asking her if she was ‘alright’. 

Happy writing everyone, see you next month for more ‘writerly’ ramblings, Samantha xx

A Few Words on Self-Editing, Mistakes and Muscles.

Hello everyone and thank you for joining me on my monthly ‘writerly’ type blog post. This month, I am reflecting on self-editing, this is not a blow-by-blow guide, I just wanted to share my thoughts.

Me, as a reader is the same person as me the writer, I don’t have different hats or faces. Maybe I should though… I read voraciously, and have entered the self-publishing party – I would say the majority of what I read is independently published. When I first started looking into publishing back in 2016 I did a fair amount of research. I read a book where the word ‘fifty’ had been written as ‘fivety’ (I’ve change this a bit so to not identify anyone) and spotted various other mistakes, none of these put me off the book I was reading. Actually some of the authors I started reading in 2016 are now very successful. Even in traditionally published books, I quite enjoy spotting a mistake. Did this set a standard though? I shouldn’t judge my writing by my own reading. Most readers don’t like to see mistakes (and rightly so).

When I wrote my first self-published book, Piccalilly, I initially put it out there ‘just to see what it was like’ I was testing the waters. Don’t get me wrong, I put great care into this story, especially as it was loosely based on my mum’s side of the family. I foolishly relied on the spell checker on the self publishing platform, after all, I was just testing the waters… but before I had the chance to make myself a celebratory cup of tea… a two star review popped up on Goodreads. Oh I know that on Goodreads this means something like ‘It was OK’ and yes, authors are putting themselves out there but this was my first ever review, although it wasn’t even a review it was a rating. No words to give me a clue as to why my first ever book had failed so miserably. At the time I had decided that my way of working would be to read the book on my Kindle in order to spot the mistakes. I don’t do that now. I finished my celebratory cup of tea, dusted myself down and re-read my own book. I found a few mistakes (and I mean a few) which I amended. I’m not changing the story though. Piccalilly was given a ‘Y’ at the end, because this was my nana Lilian’s nick-name and a new cover. It’s had seven five star reviews now phew!

I do it to much (sic). Identifying common mistakes is something that I should take my own advice about. I blame my fast fingers on the typewriter – oh I was a whizz in Mrs Hickson’s typewriting lessons. That was in the late 1980s though, things have changed with me. It’s my own stupid fault for pretending I don’t have MS… prone to the odd finger slip, too many times!

When I wrote ‘1962’ I enlisted the help of my dad. The book had been influenced by his love of cycling, plus he was alive in the year 1962 I was not. Yes, his knowledge of cycling in the 1960s was priceless. Dad is a person who likes to be told, not shown when reading a book, that is the opposite of how it should be. Months of me acting as the rebellious daughter showing rather than telling and Dad changing his mind about what happened in the 60s , I finally had finished the book (and that’s only half the story about things that got in the way with that one!) I’m not saying never work with a family member, but Dad has now told me that he never ever wants anything to do with my writing ever again! (He has read the three books I’ve published since 1962, however, phew!)

I’m in ever such a rush to write all the books I want to write. I need to slow down though. During the past few months, I have noticed that I have become increasingly scatter-brained. This has only resulted in silly mistakes. I have an irrational fear (hopefully) that I am starting with the cognitive decline associated with MS. I worry that I will wake up tomorrow in the worst cloud of brain fog and never recover. I can’t even read on temporary days like this. Spreading myself too thinly though is not the correct way of managing this problem.

It’s all good fun – until you trust one of those popular grammar software things. In my second book in series of the Curmudgeon Avenue series ‘The Harold and Edith Adventures’ I had wanted to say that my character Edith was up and down with her moods. One minute she was happy, the next her husband Harold entered the room and she was miserable… Anyway, I wanted to use the word ‘lability’ (constant changing of mood) and here was my mistake, this word was taken from the discourse community of psychiatric nursing; my former occupation. Spell checker or Grammarly or something changed this to ‘labiality’ (lips), and I believed it… It wasn’t until, six months later that a superstar reviewer noticed this, and sent me an email (A blog worth looking at here Against the Flow Press.) I was so pleased, she could have just left it and not bothered to tell me – I’ll be eternally grateful for her time. It was a hilarious blooper though. I’m still laughing about it now that Edith’s labia were available on Amazon for at least six months!

There is hope. The more you write, the better things get, and the more work you put in getting yourself ‘out there’ in the big wide world of books, the more people you’ll cyber-meet and they will be willing to help you. That said, you have to do things your own way, me for example, I can’t justify spending £1000 on an editor. Don’t take my advice, that’s my advice!

A final word on mussels. Mr Henthorn will do anything for me. He has, however been avoiding the idea of proof reading my books for me. That’s OK with me. The other day, he had promised to make me a delicious and romantic seafood linguine for our evening meal. I messaged him during the day to ask if we needed anything taking out of the freezer? Here is the single word reply I received:

‘Muscles’ xxx (!)

Join me same time next month for another ‘writerly’ rambling. Happy self-editing everyone! Samantha xx

 

 

Tough Love Needs Me to Blog About Writer’s Block

I sometimes have too many ideas, I wouldn’t say this is a block as such. It’s like I cannot write quickly enough – and that’s the truth.

Ernest Hemingway famously maintained that it was bad luck to talk about writing. But it was alright for him- he was Ernest Hemingway! He had a point though; after two and a half years of self publishing and almost five years of writing full-time I know that it is more important to actually write than spending all day talking about it. And by talking, you must know I mean social media, not just writing groups. Dorothea Brande agrees in her 1934 book ‘Becoming A Writer’ (I am recommending this book) when she said that although talking about writing can be valuable, too much of it is draining (a paraphrase of a quote).

I would much rather write than talk, my goodness, there is so much out there on the internet and I feel it has put me at risk of THINKING I have writer’s block, and I don’t. Do you know, the other day I finished doing all the formatting nonsense on KDP for my latest book Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue and then I wrote 31 first draft lines of a 40 line poem I have to write for my degree, and I still thought I ‘hadn’t written anything’ know what I mean?

Let’s find out what the experts say.

Larry W Phillips edited Ernest Hemingway on Writing this is a collection of diary entries and letters (Scriber 1984/2004) in it, Ernest Hemingway talks about some books being easy to write, some are like drilling rocks (not a direct quote). Thanks Ernest Hemingway, to me, that means GO FOR IT, sometimes it’s meant to be hard.

Stephen King hardly mentions writer’s block in his 2000 book On Writing from what I can glean. I read this book studiously three years ago and often return to parts of it. King talks about only experiencing true writer’s block when he was at university studying Creative Writing! His advice is to write anything you want to as long as you are honest (paraphrased quote) .

Dorothea Brande in her book I mentioned earlier talks about the ‘Artistic Coma’ again, this book is well worth reading. The Artistic Coma is about the importance of writers having time to dream- I love that, from that I took the notion that I am writing subconsciously, even when I’m not writing.

And what of the actual Creative Writing degree I am studying? The advice I have picked up, without directly quoting, is to leave your ambitions at the door when writing because they are not part of  the experience of writing itself. I felt a whole lot better after realising this.

What’s my advice? GO FOR IT. If life events sabotage your writing time that cannot be helped, but worry not because more than likely, you will be writing subconsciously when you are stuck in traffic, or some other distraction. Rejuvenate those creative brain cells, make sure you read loads and if you still can’t think of ‘something to write’, then tough love is telling me to tell you ‘don’t’ – well not today anyway…

Happy writing, Samantha