Category Archives: Uncategorized

6 Tricks to Layer on Stakes — WRITERS HELPING WRITERS®

Stakes are what are at risk in a story. It might be that the protagonist’s life is at risk, or perhaps a romantic relationship, or maybe the opportunity to go on a long-awaited trip (Hello, Covid!). But I find this definition a little vague. So I prefer to think of stakes as potential consequences. Stakes…

6 Tricks to Layer on Stakes — WRITERS HELPING WRITERS®

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V. E. Schwab

Val’s fascinating review of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.

Bookshelves & Teacups

Before we start this, I’m not one to care for spoilers. On the contrary, I try to gather as much info as I can before jumping into something, be it a book, a movie, a project or life in general –yes, I am a real control freak, I know–, so I don’t mind reading pieces of plot here and there in a review. Anyway, since I realize many people don’t like knowing in advance what happens, I try to hide spoilers as much as I can. Today, as the title suggest, I’m writing about The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, written by V.E. Schwab. As always, spoilers will be hidden behind a wall of white text.

Adeline LaRue is born in a small village in France at the end of the seventeenth century, where she grows up feeling that she’s meant for more than living dying and being…

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Monsters

I’ve taken over the gardening since the virus reached our shores.

There were monsters everywhere, mostly in the shape of many robust Phormiums and boney Cotoneasters. Using my shears and hairdressing skills, I took them all to task. And now they’re clipped, trimmed, and far less scary.

This activity had two positive effects: it kept me fit and, boy, does the garden look better.

It was therapeutic mentally, too.

The virus, that’s chosen our species as its favourite snack, has got in amongst us on more than one level. It insidious unknown nature has attacked us where it hurts the most: our gregarious, bonding needs. Even socially dysfunctional introverts like myself are affected by the curtailing of meeting up with and hugging loved ones.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of staying safe and well by masking up and keeping our distance from each other while the virus continues to run rampant around our country. My point is, we have to acknowledge the extra damage – in some cases long-term physical damage – this virus has done to our mental well-being. Being hyper-vigilant day after day, week after week, month after month is exhausting.

Getting the garden under control was a useful way to externalise my fear and, yes, fury against the devastating effects that this monstrous virus has wrought around this planet.

Stay safe and well, dear friends.

How to Tame A Goose

Research for my novel. Excellent article.

Save the Heritage Poultry

So, lets say that you just brought a new goose home.  This goose might be mean and freaked out for the first few days.  But then you notice that it still is mean, but a little less freaked out, a few weeks later.  You try to treat it like a dog- you tell it no, stop, and you do not move out of the way.  That only made it worse.

Geese aren’t like dogs.  Geese are very territorial, and if you stand up to them and make them believe that you are the boss, they find you as a threat.  The best thing to do is to stand aside a few days.  Then try to tame your bird again- without treating it like a dog.  Here are some great tips for taming your goose.  Good luck!

1. Water bottles won’t work!

2. Make eye contact with the gander at all…

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‘Cause the sun gonna shine, And in this heart of mine’

Abigail always reminds me to cherish every moment x

Abigail's blah blah

“Life is a Rollercoaster” might have been a more obvious accompaniment to this post, however I’m not in favour of the directly obvious song choice.

Suffice to say it’s been a really up and down few weeks. But I am still here, mostly with a smile on my face. I still put one foot in front of the other and turn my face to the sun. It has been difficult physically, from a pain and symptoms point of view but also emotionally and not least from a finding my way through the Pembrokeshire palliative care system perspective.

I had got used to finding my way through the Hertfordshire cancer centres. I didn’t have to think about who I called or what department was open when or who I could ask stupid questions to or who when everything else failed, I knew would find a way to help me. To take…

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Hannah has left the party. A tribute to my mother.

Beautiful tribute to a remarkable lady, shared by her son.

Pin Prick

Hannah, my mother, who died last week after a long illness, loved fish and chips and she loved to travel. She loved France and tennis, cream teas, curries, chocolate and sherry. She loved to gossip and she loved to laugh. She loved to tell stories and she loved people – but most of all – she loved us.

Some people fizz with life – Hannah burned like a comet. She lit up everything. At any event she would home in on people and disarm them with her gregarious nature and very un-British and distinctly un-Southern manner. It didn’t matter if you were a Prime Minister – of whom she met several – or a casual acquaintance on the train, or an eight-year old in the back of her car. Everyone got the same treatment. The same jokes, stories and insights. She turned the morning school run into an impromptu classroom…

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Cat, Bird, Fish

When I was a child, I wanted to learn how to sign, like Deaf people. I didn’t know any Deaf people, so I don’t know why I wished that. Later, I joined the Girl Guides. To earn a badge, I learnt the signed alphabet. Many years went by. In the mid-1980s, I was given the opportunity (another story) to start learning British Sign Language. As part of the learning process, I regularly attended the local Deaf Club where I made a group of friends. My signing improved, and I started taking BSL exams.

I live on the south coast of England, my daughter lives in highlands of Scotland. In 1988, my first grandchild was born – with multiple special needs, including the inability to speak. When she was around five years old, she began to learn a simple sign language called Makaton so she could communicate her life needs. My grand daughter came for her first visit around that time, with her mum. As well as other special needs, she has a form of autism, and being in a strange house with everyone milling around began to distress her. I took her out into our garden.

We walked carefully and silently up the garden until we came to the pond. We sat down and watched the fish. She gave a deep sigh and began to relax. She looked at me. I said, “fish”. This was clearly not a word on her life needs list. Then I signed ‘fish’, pointed to the fish, and signed ‘fish’ again. She signed ‘fish’ and smiled. I signed it back to her. Then a neighbour’s cat joined us. Actually, it was there to hook a fish out of the pond, if it got the chance, but with me there it settled down to wash itself as if that were its purpose for being there all along.

Birds like our garden for its insects. My grand daughter added two more signs to her vocabulary. Turns out she adores cats. “Cat, bird, fish!” became our greeting to each other after that.

By the end of the 1990s, my grand daughter had created her own form of modified Makaton, and I had become a CSW – communication support working with Deaf students in schools and colleges, Deaf professionals in the workplace, and as a tutor to special needs students with hearing, like my grand daughter, but no speech.

Life has taught me many things. One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is that language is so much more than words, and words are so much more than language.

“Cat, bird, fish!” to you all. Stay safe and well.

When I see we made it through another day

Abigail's blah blah

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It feels like ages since I last wrote but is in fact only 3 weeks. Again time is being weird and those three weeks feel both like 3 minutes and 3 years.  There has been plenty of adjusting to the “new normal” and in doing so time keeps ticking along. It feels like quite a lot is happening but I suspect a casual observer would think not very much is happening at all.

Some weeks ago I gave up trying to get up the stairs at the end of the day to make it to my own bedroom.  I was just too exhausted and it was not helping my mood, at all, to stress myself out so much at the end of the day. I had a hospital bed installed in the dining room and it makes getting in and out of bed, and getting remotely comfortable to sleep, considerably …

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