Welcome to my blog - a collection of thoughts and musings on the world of writing, books and all those wordy type things.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Clearing Clutter - Do You Give Books Away?

I'm a firm believer in 'clearing the clutter'? Do not mistake me for a minimalist though - I probably still have as much 'stuff' as everyone else but I really don't get on if I'm surrounded by clutter. It seems to make my brain go a little bit wobbly so I try and make sure (nearly) everything has a place and that the 'stuff' doesn't get a chance to pile up too much.

Of course, this is the ideal and there are still plenty of days I'm looking a a pile of 'stuff' and thinking 'Now how did that happen?'. I do, however, take a small pleasure in sorting through said pile and either reducing or clearing it. It makes me happy, what can I say?

Now when it comes to books, I used to keep everything, pretty much. In a previous house, we took one wall of the dining room and fitted it entirely with shelves. Which I then fitted entirely with books. It looked fabulous and was definitely a talking point when anyone visited. I loved it. I could just go in and look at all my lovely books and it made me smile. When we moved from this house, we were going abroad and I had to reduce - dramatically. Although I still had plenty of boxes of books when I finished, (something the removal man just could not understand: 'Are you actually going to read all these?' he sighed. Hard to believe we were actually paying this bloke. At which point I would also add, if you value your books in the slightest, pack them yourself. Lesson learned.)

Both the local libraries and the charity shops did exceedingly well out of me from that move. Something which has continued. I probably buy less fiction than I did anyway, these days, preferring instead to try and support our support our libraries (and our bank account). I've also bought a few things on my Kindle which obviously takes up little room. But I also am now happy to give away any books that I just know I'm not going to read again.

I think this came in conjunction with the decision not to force myself through a book I'm not enjoying, something I wrote about here. What's the point in hanging onto a book you didn't enjoy, or didn't even finish? Most of my 'giveaways' now go to the Heart Foundation shop, primarily because my Mum volunteers there and it's easy to pass it on. So, not only am I making space in my house for a book that I do love, but I'm supporting a good cause. Like most things in life, just because a book isn't to your taste, doesn't mean it won't appeal to other peoples', so pass it on. Clear the clutter and do a good turn - and you can feel virtuous all day!

Do you give your books away, or can you just not bear tp part with any?

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Daily Constitutional

I've come to notice a trend whenever I read interviews with writers, and writing blogs - something that a good majority of us do, and no, it's not procrastinate, but if we're honest, that's probably just as common.

No, the habit in question is that most writers make sure they take a walk at some point during the day, possibly accompanied by a pooch. I'm sure that having said animal looking up at you with doleful please-can-we-go-for-a-walk eyes, does do something to motivate one to getting up and on with it. It sort of gives a purpose to a walk. We no longer have a dog so it's up to me to provide my own motivation (not always easy!). And sometimes it takes a while, but I'm always glad I've made the effort when I get back.

(I was going to put a photo in here that I just took on my evening constitutional but Blogger has decided it doesn't want to play tonight, so words it is).

Walking gives you the chance to think - whether that's about what you're writing or something completely different. It also means a gentle workout for your body, as well as your mind. It's all too easy to stay inside and stare at a screen, especially when it's cold or rainy outside but I still try and make the effort, knowing that it's for the best - both mentally and physically.

Of course, there are days that you're not going to be able to fit it in -  you have to wait in for a delivery which has helpfully been scheduled 'between 8am and 8pm', you're not feeling well or it's absolutely bucketing and neither you, nor the dog is going to go out there without a boat. And that's ok. Don't feel guilty if you have to miss a day. It happens. Thanks to a medical condition, there are days when a walk for me just isn't possible, so I accept that and just try and make sure I get out when things feel better.

Any sort of exercise will do really. Sometimes my walk is replaced by gardening, or a cycle ride if I'm feeling really brave!

The main thing is just to get out and away from the keyboard for a bit. Let your mind wander, take in the sights and sounds of where you walk, whether it's city or countryside. You'll feel more energised and ready to get back to your WIP, and who knows, you may even come back with a new idea or two!

Happy walking!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Rescue Remedy, Nice Surprises and Writing Competitions

A little while ago I had an article accepted by an outdoors magazine which it always jolly nice. Their planner was full for this year, so it was to be held over until sometime next year. However, as I stood waiting for something in Boots I heard my phone give an email ping. With nothing better to do at that very moment, I had a look. It was the notification of publication and payment - for this month's edition! Yippee! What a lovely surprise. Needless to say, I then whizzed up to Smiths' and got a copy.

So, if you're planning on visiting Tewkesbury, or the surrounding area of Gloucestershire, you'll find all you need to know in the August edition of MMM (Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly) magazine.

On another note, the reason I was in Boots was to get some Rescue Remedy. I picked up a box, and then went to get another so I could get the offer. And it was empty. At the desk, I mentioned this, and they were kind enough to check the stock for me - as they did this, the assistant mentioned that it happened a lot with these as they aren't the cheapest. This was something most odd - as Monsieur Poirot would say. I mean, Rescue Remedy is to help calm the nerves. But surely if you're calm enough to steal something, it seems unlikely you are particularly troubled by stressful situations. Most strange.

And finally, I've just come across two competitions - one for fiction and two for poetry. Good luck!

* Write a bedtime story and win £500 here

* Two poetry competitions here

Friday, 3 August 2012

Favourite Authors - And Finding New Ones

I've a few favourite authors - the standards, like Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte but also more contemporary ones like Janet Evanovich, Jasper Fforde (although apologies to Mr Fforde, I am a little behind on his books at present), and, although he's slipped in my rankings a bit now, I had always bought Harlan Coben's books until the last one. I just didn't find 'Caught' as gripping as the previous ones and with the transition from Myron Bolitar to Mickey, it's just not really in my immediate realm of interest. Although I don't think that, with 50 million books in print, Mr Coben is really going to be too disappointed that a dot in England has 'gone off' his books a bit.

Another one that I read if I see it but no longer search for - at the moment - is Jennifer Crusie. I don't even remember how I came across this author but the first one I read of hers was 'Welcome to Temptation' which I totally loved - and have in fact read a few times. She has several others, but more recent offerings have been collaborations and whilst I'm not as critical as some of her literary 'hooking up' with other authors, such as Bob Meyer, I confess I enjoyed the earlier stuff more.

That's why I'm always excited to find a new 'favourite' author - and I seem to be now able to add another to the list in Carole Matthews. To coin a phrase, I realise I am a little late to the party with this one but I'm excited anyway. I actually went to the library to get out a Jilly Cooper - I confess I have never read one and thought I ought to, just to see what all the fuss was about. She always seems a fun and nice lady when I've seen her interviewed, and she's a big animal lover which goes a long way in my book. But when I pulled out the only one they had of hers, it was like a breeze block! And then in the front there were several pages of 'who's who'. I don't have the best concentration in the world as it is - if there's a plethora of pages about who's in it, I may well be floundering! I admit it. I panicked and put it back. Sorry, Jilly. I will try again another time, I promise.

So, what was I to do then? I have a tonne of books at home on the TBR shelf, but I was at the library then, and felt the need to get my little card beeped and walk away with a new book in my paws. I mooched up and down until my eyes landed on 'The Difference A Day Makes' by Carole Matthews. Being a Writing Magazine subscriber (and if you aren't and want to write, you should be!), I'd heard of Ms Matthews as her writing career was boosted into being by winning a short story writing competition hosted by said magazine. In short, she gives us lesser mortals hope. The book blurb mentioned a London family moving to Yorkshire and acquiring chickens, sheep and so on...I was sold.

I tootled home with the book and have just finished it. It was every bit as good as I hoped it would be. It's great fun but also deals with emotions, not enough to make you depressed, but enough to bring tears to your eyes (and cheeks, and chin if you're as much of a wimp as me!).

In short, I have a new author to add to my list of faves - and that makes me smile!

Any favourites that you have I should know about? I'd love to hear!