Friday, 4 July 2014

This blog is no more!

Thanks to everyone that's been following my Saintly Writer blog for the past couple of years.

I will no longer be blogging here but if you'd like to keep up with what I'm doing now, then you can find my new blog on my author website:

Monday, 5 May 2014

Monday Writing Ritual

Well, it's been a very long while even by my standards. I won't go into lengthy excuses, I'll just say that life got in the way. But now I'm in a new routine. A Monday writing routine. I don't do any of my freelance commissions or any work for Retreat West on a Monday anymore. Instead I dedicate the weekend to mulling then Monday to getting on with my writing.

It's been going well. So well in fact that I have finally completed the edit of my novel and sent it off for a professional critique. I've also completed some short stories and sent them off for competitions, and I've made a plan for a whole short story collection.

So now that I'm back in my stride. I'm going to revive my blog too. I'm going to carry on where I left off with writing to prompts and seeing where they take me.

This prompt comes from Sarah Selecky - I get them emailed to me every day (although I can't claim to actually do them everyday!) - and it was to write a scene that starts with someone sitting cross-legged, and to write for 10 minutes...

The floor was definitely harder than the last time Tara had thought about it a minute ago. She wasn't really doing very well at emptying her mind. All she could think about was the pins and needles in her legs, the pains in her bum, and how ridiculous she felt. She'd never imagined she'd ever be cross-legged, chanting ohm in a room full of strangers on a Greek island.

It wasn't helping that the woman who'd been over-friendly at the welcome dinner last night had put her mat down just a little too close to Tara's and kept looking over with a leery smile. Perhaps she just meant to be encouraging but Tara was finding it creepy.

'Now as you breathe in from deep down in your abdomen, you can see a golden ball of light and you can feel its warmth washing over you.' The yoga teacher announced.

Tara couldn't see it. Every time she closed her eyes all she could see was the scene in the living room just before she'd closed the door for the last time. She didn't think she'd ever stop seeing it. But she tried to pull her mind back to the room. To allow herself to enjoy the fact that she was finally here on a Greek island. The one she'd been wanting to visit ever since she'd read Captain Corelli's Mandolin. But although her body was here her mind was stuck in the flat seeing Gareth's face again and again as the realisation dawned on him that she really wasn't going to put up with it anymore.

So here's today's effort. I hope you like it, and I'll see you next Monday!

But do let me know what you've all been up to in my lengthy absence.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A Place to Call Home

Image: Courtesy of John Saint
In the last 15 years, since I met my husband, we have lived in 20 different houses in 10 different cities, towns and villages. A part of the reason is that we are nomadic and we like to experience new places and new things. But for the past seven years it's been because we have been at the mercy of unreliable landlords and subjected to noisy neighbours. But we also came to realise it's because we didn't have a home we could call our own.

So when Sally Swingewood and Debi Alper called for writers to donate stories to a charity anthology to raise money for Shelter, it seemed like a subject very close to my heart and the story I wrote for it just came pouring out. Surprisingly it had nothing to do with the physical bricks and mortar of home but in finding your way back to your home when life has knocked you off course. I was so thrilled to be accepted and even more so when I read the stories that mine sits alongside. The quality and diversity is incredible.

So please buy a copy, or more, this Christmas as all proceeds go to Shelter and they need the money to help all of those people who don't have a home. There's more of them than you probably realise and a shocking statistic is that every two minutes someone in the UK faces losing their home.

You can buy Stories for Homes on Amazon as a big fat paperback or for your Kindle; and so far we've raised over £1000. I’m very proud to be a part of this brilliant project.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Am I living the dream?

Time has flown by and I've been living on the canal boat for over two months now. It's taken me a lot longer than I anticipated to write the first blog once we actually moved on board as life has been pretty full-on and hectic ever since!

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and we now realise that we should have reigned our excitement in a bit and not set off on our travels as soon as we did. And that we should have figured out how we were going to stop and moor up before we did, as it suddenly dawned on us an hour into our first journey that we didn't have a clue how to do it. But we figured it out, sort of. The first time involved me leaping from the boat and pulling it to a stop with the ropes! We've now discovered that we do it in a much easier and more sedate manner, which will also stop me developing a body builder look.

Despite my pre-move worries about Rusty the cat she hasn't got lost once but has taken regular dips in the canal. So regular that we've come to believe she actually likes it and jumps in.

As well as having to learn loads (you have to turn a pump on to get water to come out of the taps, for example, which took us 4 days to figure out!) we have met some incredibly lovely and helpful people, seen places we would never have discovered otherwise and spent a lot of time surrounded by stunning landscapes and wildlife. All went swimmingly for the first few weeks and it was everything we'd dreamed it would be.

Then the engine broke. And it wouldn't start again. And we were stranded on the towpath for over two weeks with no lights and power. We've had a lot of candlelit dinners, which was nice for a few days then just a pain as you couldn't see what you were doing when cooking them or eating them.
But the power of social media as a good thing then came into full force when a friend I'd made on Twitter, Brian, who also lives on a canal boat, came to our rescue.

Someone must have been smiling on us as we broke down close to where his permanent mooring is and he not only spent a whole day trying to get the engine started for us, he also gave us lifts in his car to get shopping, he lent us a battery powered lamp and then he towed us for three days back to the boatyard we’d originally started out at. Without him and his lovely wife, Jean, we would have been well and truly buggered and without Twitter I would never have known them.

So, we've been back at the marina for a few weeks now and our new engine was installed yesterday. When we moved the boat from the workshop area back to our mooring yesterday afternoon it was the first time that she moved in over a month without us pulling her by the ropes or someone towing us. It felt good. Really good. And it sounded even better. We now realise how bad the original engine was as we can have a conversation without shouting when this new one is running!
So am I living the dream? It's getting there. I had no idea it would be as hard as these first couple of months have been but I'm sure things will get better. We're staying put until after Christmas to get lots of DIY done and have a little rest. And when it's all calmed down again I'll be getting back on with my writing, as that agent that I met at York will not wait forever to read my novel.

So what's everyone else been up to while I've been stranded on the canal?