Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Money Tree

This post is in participation with the Group Blogging Experience, and this week’s topic is a picture prompt. If you want to blog with us, go to the GBE2 Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome.

If a money tree started to grow in my garden, it would have to be a weed. Real plants die for me (or get dug up by the local squirrels). I’m useless with plants – but my weeds flourish beautifully.

But I digress.

Several blogs on this topic have been about what people might buy if they had a money tree; others have highlighted the various things that money can’t buy – family, friends, love, happiness, health. Here’s my experience:

When I was a child, my father had a low-paid clerical job, so there were no luxuries, only necessities. Just as an example, when I was about 7 or 8, I had one thick exercise book in which I used to write my stories. I learned to write very small so as to fit more on a page! In pencil too, not pen, because when the book was full, I would erase one story in order to write another. My mother, who’d learned ‘make do and mend’ during the austere years during and after World War 2, was adept at patching and darning worn clothes, or unpicking an outgrown cardigan and using the wool to knit another. By today’s standards, I guess we were poor, but at the time I wasn’t aware of it, since many of our neighbours and friends were the same.

Later, when I was a single parent, bringing up two girls, money was tight. I had a reasonable salary as a teacher, and my mother’s ‘make do and mend’ strategies stood me in good stead, as I was able to sew and knit clothes for my daughters. One major problem was that I had no ‘reserve’ funds so the breakdown of any equipment, such as the washing machine, or worse still the car, assumed titanic disaster proportions. A money tree at that time would have come in very useful but, looking back now, I survived without it. The advent of credit cards helped, but I dreaded getting into ‘debt’ (apart from my house mortgage) so the credit card was restricted to the direst emergency!

Now my girls have flown the nest, and they both have their own homes, partners and families. They’re not ‘rich’, they’ve both had their own ‘lean’ years but they can now afford far more than I could at their ages, so I’m delighted for them.

And me? Well, in retirement, I guess I have my own ‘money tree’ now, in the form of several pensions – money coming into my bank account each month without me having to go out to work to earn it. Okay, I know I ‘earned’ it in the past through my contributions to pension funds, but it still feels like ‘money for doing nothing’!

I live well within my income – maybe because my upbringing and later experiences as a single parent have taught me to be careful with money. I’m not extravagant, I look for cheap offers in the supermarket, I don’t buy things I don’t need, but I do have the money to buy what I need and do the things I want to do. A couple of (relatively small) legacies have allowed me to make-over most of the rooms in my house, and in the last 10+ years since I took (early!) retirement, I’ve done a lot of travelling, in mainland Europe, USA and Canada, and the Middle East.

So, somewhere along the way, I must have planted my money tree and, like the weeds in my garden, it’s now flourishing. Mind you, if there WAS a real money tree, there’s this VERY nice little cottage near Galway in my beloved Ireland that I would LOVE to buy!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Here's my first contribution to Six Sentence Sunday from my newly released 'His Leading Lady'. To save her twin sister's career, Jess is pretending to be Lora who's gone missing. She's just been out for the evening with Kyle Drummond, the director of Lora's new show in the West End:

Kyle tightened his arm around her and Jess closed her eyes, not to relax but to try to think straight and to work out just how she was going to extricate herself from what seemed to be the inevitable sequel to all this.

She couldn’t say she was tired, not when she’d made such a fuss about wanting to stay at the club, but there were limits to what she was prepared to do ‘for Lora’s sake’ and going to bed with Kyle Drummond was definitely way beyond the limits.  If that was what he expected, then she would have to admit to the whole pretence, even if it ruined everything for tomorrow's TV interview and Lora’s contract.

When the cab came to a standstill outside Lora’s apartment, she eased herself away from him but couldn’t stop herself from looking round at him. 

“God, I want you,” he breathed, his voice husky.

She stared at him, sure that he must be able to hear the sudden frantic pounding of her heart. 
'His Leading Lady' available from www.whiskeycreekpress.com

Friday, 24 June 2011

Love Hurts

This is my first contribution to the "Romantic Friday Writers" Challenge, where contributors have to offer 400 words on a specific subject.

This week's subject is 'Love Hurts' and this is an excerpt from 'His Leading Lady' when Jess has learnt from her friend that Kyle had been in a relationship with her twin sister:

Jess closed her eyes in an effort to absorb everything Alison had said.  Part of her identified with Lora’s anguish but the other part was a total confusion of thoughts and feelings about Kyle. 

“I’m so sorry, Jess.”

The sympathy was too much.  Tears blinded her eyes as she looked at Alison again.  “It’s okay.  You had to tell me.  But –”  She swallowed hard, then wiped away the tear that had trickled down her cheek.  “I’ve made a total idiot of myself, haven’t I?  Allowing myself to become another notch on Kyle Drummond’s bedpost.”
“No.” Alison’s face creased with concern.  “No, you mustn’t think that.  Kyle isn’t – doesn’t – Look, when you’ve been in the West End for a while, you get to know which directors and agents sleep around.  And Kyle isn’t one of them.”
“I’m not sure that makes me feel any better.  If you’re right, and he doesn’t, then Lora must have been pretty special to him.”

“I suppose so,” Alison conceded.  “And there was a lot of speculation about them as a couple.”

“So where does that leave me? He asks me to take over Lora’s role in Token – and Lora’s role in his bed too?”  She clenched her fists. “What a total fool I’ve been!”

“You fell in love with him.  What’s wrong with that?”

 “What’s wrong?” Jess echoed.  “Alison, she’s my twin sister.”  She paused for a moment, remembering.  “When we were about fourteen, we made a pact that we’d never go after the same boy.  All right, this isn’t a teenage thing.  This is a man, but my sister’s in love with him.”

“You didn’t know that.”

“No, but he did.  He should have told me, he should have been honest about it.  But he wasn’t.  So maybe for him I’ve just been a substitute.”

“Not necessarily.”

Jess shook her head.  Anger had started to replace the shock.  Anger at Kyle for being dishonest, and anger with herself for having been duped so easily.  “It doesn’t really matter, does it?  Because that’s it – end of story.”  She tried to ignore the wave of agonising pain that washed through her.  Tried to concentrate on the anger instead.  

“So what are you going to do now?”

“I want to go home.  Away from all this.”  Hot fury consumed her and she banged her fist on the table.  “I told him I didn’t want to be part of the West End theatrical scene.  Now I know I was right.  This kind of life isn’t for me.”

(From ‘His Leading Lady’ published by Whiskey Creek Press, June 2011) www.whiskeycreekpress.com

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

5* Review for 'His Leading Lady'!

So excited - Celia Yeary gave 'His Leading Lady' a great review and 5 stars!

Writing the Ending First

"I always write my last two paragraphs first. For me fiction is a fantastic journey but I need to know where I am going and what my destination will be.”

Quote from Victoria Aitken, author of 'Mary Bennet's Chance' - a change from the Darcy/Elizabeth spin-offs!


I LOVE the idea of writing your ending first.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Then and Now

I'm a guest with Hywela Lyn today and am talking about the differencesw between writing in the 60's/70's compared with now.

Writing and being published were very different in the days BC (before computers)!

Check it out at http://www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com/

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A New Blogfest!

The group blog I belong to, Heroines with Hearts,
has just gained its 100th follower. 
To celebrate, we're holding our first blogfest.

Question: What's a blogfest?
Answer: It's a fun way to meet other bloggers, and maybe increase your own followers.
You 'sign up' and then, on the appointed day (in this case, July 24th), you write a blog on the selected topic and post it on your own blog.  You then try to visit and leave a comment on other participating blogs.

Question:  What's the selected topic?
Answer:  Tell us about the first 'adult' (as opposed to children's) book you ever read.  Was it a classic or did you have to hide it from your mom?

Question: How do I join in?
Answer: click HERE to go to the information and sign-up page.

Hope you'll join in the fun!  

Friday, 17 June 2011

Today is New Computer Day...good or bad?

Do you like getting a new computer or do you hate it? 

I have mixed feelings.  My 'old' computer was nearly five years old and had become so slow, with frequent 'seizing up' when I had to crash out and restart. I also had a keyboard where half the letters had worn away.  But at least it was familiar. 

Now I have, not just a new machine, but a different Windows version, upgraded I.E. and Office Professional 2010.  My computer expert installed everything for me, and and it's all working perfectly (fingers crossed!).  He's transferred all my docs and pictures, even my list of bookmarks (or 'favourites').  It's super-fast and doesn't struggle to load a new pages or post a message.  The new keyboard shows all the letters and I have a nice non-reflective screen.

I know I should love it, but now I have to think about tasks which I previously did automatically.  Where's the website address?  Where are the drop-down menus?  How do I turn the sound on or off? And why do I keep hitting caps lock instead of shift?  Why do some pages not have scroll bars at the side?

I'm sure I'll get used to it in time, but is it a sign of age that it takes me longer to adapt to new things? Or maybe it's a case of preferring to cling to the familiar rather than embark on new learning curves?

Technology moves on so quickly these days; my 16 and 22 year old grandsons move with it as fast as it changes, but I guess I'm from a generation where things didn't change for the sake of change, which seems to be the case these days. 

In the 'good old days, you bought something and it lasted!  You didn't have to upgrade or replace it.  You had it mended if it went wrong.  Nowadays you get rid of it and buy a new one, since it's often cheaper to do that than to pay someone to fix it.  My mother had the same vacuum cleaner for over 40 years.  Things were made to last in the old days.  But now?

In the last 20 years, I have had about 6 new computers (my first one didn't even have Windows and I remember using DOS commands!).  Maybe that's some indication of the speed of technological progress - and I HAVE adapted, honest I have! 

I'm not anti-progress - but I do sometimes question the very rapid changes.   Is it change simply for the sake of it?  Is it necessary?  Or is it due to the greed of the manufacturers?  Does Microsoft introduce new versions (e.g. of operating systems or Office) because they are necessary or simply because they want everyone to rush out and buy their new version - and therefore make older versions obsolete??

Or am I just becoming a grumpy old woman??  (don't answer that!)

Monday, 13 June 2011

Interview at Fried Oreos

I'm being interviewed today by another Whiskey Creek Press writer, Jennifer Wilck, at http://jenniferwilck.com/blog/, where I'm talking about my new release, and other writing topics such as developing characters, my goals, why I write and my routine. Oh, and my guilty pleasure too!
I'd be delighted if you'd pop in and leave a comment for me there!

Many thanks!

PS Don't forget you can download 'His Leading Lady' (in html or pdf format) from http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/

Thursday, 9 June 2011

I've been tagged (check to see if I've tagged you!)

I’ve been ‘tagged’ by Sylvia Ney (http://writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/)
This tag has 8 tasks, so here goes!

Do you think you’re hot?
Not at the moment, with the horrible weather we’re having in the UK (cool with heavy showers) but I can get VERY hot when the temp goes above 70 degrees.  Fan goes on in study and bedroom! 

Upload a picture of wallpaper you’re using at the moment

This is my pride and joy, because last year I finally got to meet my idol Martin Sheen in Los Angeles.

When was the last time you ate a chicken meal?
Trying to remember – think it was a roast chicken dinner last weekend but one!

The song you listened to recently

This 12-year-old's voice amazing!

What were you thinking as you were doing this task?
Hmm, that I was doing it simply to avoid writing the next scene in my novel, which I know is going to be a difficult scene to write.  I’m not completely sure which way I want it to go, and can’t decide whether to work it out in advance, or let my characters run with it.

Do you have nicknames? What are they?
My father called me PollyWolly, I use that sometimes as ‘user name’ on some sites, or else Polls – which is what my two Canadian friends always call me.

Tag 8 bloggers
1.  Francine Howarth
2. Rosemary Gemmell
3. Jennifer Wilck
4. Celia Yeary
5. Jarmara
6. Margaret West
7. Cate Masters
8. Linda Banche

Who’s listed as No.1?
Francine used to be a regular contributor to our group blog ‘Heroines with Hearts’ (http://heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com/).  When one of our members had to drop out of the blog, I invited Francine to join us – and I’m so glad I did!
Say something about No. 5.
I ‘met’ Jarmara through the A-Z April Blogging Challenge, and she gave me my Versatile Blogger badge – thanks, Jarmara
How did you get to know No.3?
I got to know Jennifer through the Whiskey Creek Press author loop because our first novels with WCP are being released the same month (i.e. this month).
How about No. 4?
It was through one of the writers’ loops, either Whiskey Creek or was it Classic Romance Revival, Celia?  Anyway, we’ve since discovered that we have a similar background (even though she’s a Texan and I’m English) because we were both high school teachers, took early retirement, and then filled our lives with others things, including writing romance novels.
Leave a message for No 6.
Margaret, thank you for choosing me as a ‘winner’ on your blog.  I‘m looking forward to receiving my prize in the next day or so J
Leave a lovey-dovey message for No. 2.
Rosemary, love you because, even though it’s been such a short time since we ‘met’ on the British Romance Fiction loop, you’ve been so supportive and left comments for me on the blogs where I’ve been guesting!  Thank you so much!
Do number 7 and 8 have any similarities?
Funny you should ask that!  Apart from writing of course, Cate and Linda have both had me as a guest at their blogs in the past week! (see http://catemasters.blogspot.com/2010/06/paula-martin-in-author-spotlight.html and  http://lindabanche.blogspot.com/2011/06/guest-paula-martin-settings-for-my.html

Now looking forward to your responses.  Please let me know when you post!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Fear, accomplishment, regret?

I've just seen details of a blogfest where the participants are asked to write about their MC's greatest fear, biggest accomplishment and biggest regret.  This is an exercise designed to help them to get to know their characters better.

I started thinking about this.  Not in relation to any of my main characters, though, but in relation to myself - and I realised I couldn't define any of these things!

Greatest fear?  Can't think of a greatest.  I have lots of lesser and larger fears, from being stung by a wasp to being in a plane crash.  From fearing a bad review for one of my books to being scared of spiders.  (I know, I'm a wimp!).   I've had lots of different fears at different times of my life.  But 'greatest' fear?  Nope, can't say that I have one single great fear.

Biggest accomplishment?  I've accomplished a lot of things but how do I quantify or compare them?  Is bringing up two daughters to be mature and responsible adults a 'bigger' accomplishment than having a 25 year career as a teacher?  Is running a Girl Guide unit for 20+ years a bigger accomplishment than running a social group for over 50's for the last 12 years?  I'm proud of many things that I've achieved, but no way could I say which was the 'biggest' accomplishment.

Biggest regret?  We all have regrets and I'm no exception.  But again, it's impossible to define the 'biggest' regret because it's so difficult to compare one with another.

As a result of my self-questioning, I question the value of asking writers to define their main character's  'biggest' fear, accomplishment or regret.  By doing so, I think we run the risk of making our characters one-dimensional.  I think we have to take into account, not the 'biggest', but ALL the hopes and fears, accomplishments and failures that contribute to the complexity of each individual's personality.

What do you think? 

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Win an e-book copy of my new release!

I'm 'in the spotlight' with Cate Masters this week and I'd be delighted if you'd drop in!


Leave a comment for me at Cate's blog for a chance to win an e-book copy of my contemporary romance, 'His Leading Lady'.

Good luck!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The is THE day (not!!)

Well, my novel wasn't released yesterday - so it looks as if I'll have to wait until June 15th :-(
I heard from another writer whose novel is due out in June, he actually received an email from Whiskey Creek Press to say it would be released on the 1st, but it wasn't (commiserations, Mark). 
Only one of the 'Coming Soon' June releases is shown on the 'New for June' homepage of WCP, the rest of us sit and wait patiently (or maybe impatiently!)

Meanwhile, I'm interviewed today by the Wicked Muses. It's the first stop on my June blog tour, so I'd be delighted if you would pop in and say hi to me

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

This is THE day - or is it?

It's June - and 'His Leading Lady' is due to be released by Whiskey Creek Press this month.  It could be today or it could be the 15th - watch this space!  Or watch http://whiskeycreekpress.com/.