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Tag Archives: Sunday Feature

Tree Lights and Happy Thoughts

Only a quick post today, as I promised to show you my wreaths. I couldn’t help snapping a few shots of the tree, too. I’m sure you’ll forgive the over-exuberance of color. What can I say? I love Christmas!

Editing-wise, you’ll be pleased to know two more books will hit the shelves in time for Christmas, and I’ve got two more to get out there next week. Wish me luck and speedy fingers.

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My home is so cheerful, it makes me happy to the very core of my soul, and that’s important, because when I’m happy I can move mountains!

Do you feel the same?

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2013 in News, Sunday Feature

 

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Waiting for the Tree and Being Creative

santa 1I can’t wait. I’m one of those people who can’t keep the grin off their faces come Christmas time. I’ve celebrated Christmas all over the globe, and I have fond memories of all of them, indiscriminately.

There were the times when I used to decorate the tree under the watchful eye and witty direction of my grandfather. He always bought candies wrapped in shiny foil, and I loved swamping the poor tree in them. Somehow, they tasted better when ripped off the branches.

Then there’s the time when the man who was to become my husband and I got stuck in a train, in a snowstorm in southern Romania, with just a sandwich each and a bottle of Fanta to share between us. What a magical day that was! The local station master rounded up some kids from the village nearby and brought them along to sing Christmas carols underneath our windows. I was moved to tears. Almost sorry they dug us out of the snowdrift and got the train moving again.

carolers1And then in Bishkek (ex Frunze), Kyrgyzstan, when I spent two days searching for Christmas trees, to my driver’s increasing annoyance. Kyrgyz people are Muslim, and the few Christian Russians celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January, so I was way too early, looking for a tree mid-December. And then, at a traffic junction, just as we decided to call it a day and go home, I spotted a huge truck full of trees crossing right to left, right in front of me. Tolik caught my eye and drove like a bat out of hell, cutting across three lanes of traffic and breaking about a dozen traffic rules, hot on the trail of the runaway Christmas tree truck. He honked and flashed lights and shouted out the open window until the truck’s bewildered driver pulled over. Then my awesome, dedicated driver jumped up in the truck, on top of the hundreds of trees, and proceeded to pull them out and stand them up to show them to me, one at a time. I chose quickly… within the first fifty, anyway.

And there’s the time when the wallpaper fell right off the walls in the baby’s nursery, pulling large lumps of plaster and wall off with it. And the Kiev one, when I was holding onto my husband’s waistband as he leaned out of the seventh story window to clear the snow off the satellite dish with a long-handled broom, so the kids could watch the Cartoon Network. And the time when my kids were ill Christmas Eve and were not even aware of the pile of presents under the tree, hidden by just one fluffy blanket, as the poor darlings were being fed medicine and cough syrup in the living room… And the time when we had to take the seats out of the car to fit all the presents in… And the time when we only had hugs and promises we gave each other… And so many others in between.

I loved each and every one of them.

And this one, the first one in Ireland, is going to be special, too. I can feel it in my bones.

We won’t be able to go looking for a tree until Wednesday, but I couldn’t do just nothing, so here’s how some of yesterday and today was spent.

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And this is what my living room looks like today. Lovely.

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The wreaths are only half done, so you can see those next week. 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2013 in News, Sunday Feature

 

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Update and Apology

Tales from the Roaring Water Bay #3 will be published a couple of days late – apologies for that. This is due to an unprecedented level of editing work, in addition to sorting out my house days after moving into it (and a new country). I have also started work on the new Reviews page, though I only managed to rifle through 2012 reviews so far. More will follow.

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Posted by on September 29, 2013 in Book Reviews, News, Sunday Feature

 

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Tales from the Roaring Water Bay #2

 

Hello from the Roaring Water Bay. You’ll be pleased to know the wind has dropped somewhat and my life has settled into an almost relaxed routine.

As soon as I open the door to let the fresh Atlantic breeze in, early in the morning, I’m met by my personal trainer for the first round of morning exercise…
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That’s Kit, who still hasn’t learned to put both his ears up, even after eighteen months of trying.

And then the usual routine of waltzing between towers of boxes looking for the all-important computer cable or the specific Playstation game, or the right screws for the right set of cupboards can begin.

Today, for example, it took the two grown-ups of this household about half hour to split a pile of wood into two identical stacks that would build two identical bookcases. See my thinking here? Bookcases = books out of boxes and onto shelves, which would make the house look instantly tidier. Anything that would make the house look tidier is a good thing by this stage, trust me!

Another twenty minutes were squandered on finding the bag of screws. Yes, we bagged them, in a vain attempt to keep things easy to sort out. Ha! At least we finally found the glasses and the cake tins…

It took another hour to figure out where all the pieces went (the bookcases are pine, and the wood is solid and fits together very snugly), and then… and then the fun started. Eventually, we had screws in each and every spare hole.

Only one problem: there were no screws left for the second bookcase. Only wood.

At this point we stood in the middle of the room, kicked over the mountain of curtains in frustration, and called for reinforcements. Our daughter pulled her nose out of computer games for long enough to skip down the stairs and straight to the right bags of screws. It didn’t take her two minutes!

Then she held out the bag we’d just emptied to show us its label: Computer Table. Ah. We hadn’t read the label. Explains why we’d run out of screws after the first bookcase.

So, fifteen minutes to take out the wrong screws, ten minutes to put the right ones in, and another twenty to assemble the second bookcase, plus another ten for scr… I’m not writing it; take your mind out of the gutter!

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Ta-da! In just over three hours we had two bookcases assembled, a teenager who now uses every opportunity to poke fun at her parents and a bad case of fed-up-ness.
Tail between our legs, we decided to go outside and attempt to piece together the remaining shreds of our dignity in the company of our two dogs.

The view is still beautiful. It wasn’t sunny, but it wasn’t rainy either. And the dogs adored us as long as we kept throwing balls or Frisbees. It’s a miracle our arms are still attached at the shoulder. Tired, we slunk inside for a brew and a sit down.

Tomorrow we start again.

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~

On an unrelated, but somewhat upsetting topic, I now ceased to admire two people I used to think the world of. They’re off my pedestal because, whilst I do agree with and even encourage aggressive marketing tactics by indies (if the big boys do it, why shouldn’t an individual?), I hate seeing people cheat. Use all you have to get yourself known, but you’d be shooting yourself in the foot if you deceive. No one likes a con artist. Believe me, these people’s books have just come off my TBR list.

http://zonalert.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/the-fiverr-report-on-melissa-foster-fake-reviews-fake-awards-fake-everything/

Otherwise, editing is good. I’ve even managed to read a couple of books for reviews, and I’m writing articles for a few sites. Not exactly writing a book, but writing nonetheless. Slowly but surely, I’m settling. I still feel this is a good place for me.

What about you? Are you in the ideal writing place? Do you dream of one? What would it be like? Share. I’d love to know. As for buying reviews, what is your opinion? Is it worth it, in your view? Is it a good use of time and money?

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2013 in News, Sunday Feature

 

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Tales from the Roaring Water Bay #1

It’s 15.45 and I’m gazing out over the cliff at the Roaring Water Bay. Why did the Irish call it that? I can’t see any roaring water. In fact, the only roaring around here is the result of the gentle coastal breeze. The North Atlantic seems pretty peaceful from where I’m standing, in the doorway of my picture window wall. Just a few white horses – tiny, compared to what I’ve seen on the North Cornish Coast.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve had the keys to this sweet little place since Tuesday lunchtime, and so far all I’ve managed to achieve is to honour a couple of work-related commitments and carve some narrow navigation paths through the house.

Did we bring too much stuff over? Hell, yes! We’d rented a van for three days (one trip), and ended up having to extend the lease for the rest of the week. That should give you an idea. On top of that, there’ll be a third trip, in our own truck and trailer. Some things will have to be tied down on top of the trailer, too.

Will it all fit in? Hmm… Maybe. If we buy a shed or two… large ones!

What does the house look like? Here you go:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI took this pic not three hours ago, as soon as the storm passed over – and I mean storm! – and just after I put some towels in the wash. Notice the blue sky? It was black all morning. Then, within ten minutes – the wind dropped and it’s solid sunshine. I could get used to this!

I waved hubby off at the first gate and closed it behind him. I watched him stop the van before the second gate, across the field, and get out to open it. Then back in, drive over to the other side, stop, get out and close the gate again. Two down, two to go. On he went over the hill to gate number three. At least I know we won’t get many cold-callers or Jehovah Witnesses here. No traffic noise at all, other than the ferry to the islands around here.

Camera at the ready, I tried to keep my hand steady as the wind did its best to make me believe I had developed Parkinson’s overnight.

Just a bit of wind. I knew it would be windy. It’s a top-of-the-cliff location, with water on three sides – what else could I expect?

Oh. Washing machine stopped. 2.14 and my first towel is on the line. Horizontal. I have a little think and decide that between the wind and the direct sunshine, the lot would be done in about an hour. Sure, the line looks like it’ll snap any minute now, but all I need is sixty lots of sixty seconds. Surely, it will last that long.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2.16 and I managed to tether a thin hankie alongside the towel. The towel is hanging by one of its pegs by now, looking like escape is its dearest wish. I reconsider my scant knowledge of physics and rearrange the towel in such a way that it’s almost doubled over. There’s no let-up in the wind, the darned thing is still horizontal, so it should stay on the line even without pegs, shouldn’t it? Just in case, I give it three.

2.22 and it’s time to hang the rest, or I may as well stand out there in the yard for the whole hour, holding towels to the wind. It takes all my strength and all the pegs in my pockets, but finally they’re all up. I decide I’d better err on the side of caution, and I nip inside to rummage through drawers for more pegs, but not before counting the items on the line – see? I’m not stupid. I am capable of foresight. Fourteen, ranging from hankie to full bath sheet in size.

2.26 and I’m staring at eight towels. The wind buffets me and I skip forward a few steps before I catch myself and dig my heels in. I’m not going to be blown about by any type of breeze, Atlantic or not! I’m not a weakling!

A quick scouting session in amongst wild rose bushes overgrown with nettles and old ivy and lichen-covered ruins unearths five of the six missing items. Ok. Not bad. I can work with that.

Back to the line, and by 2.33 I have them all lined up nicely, untwisted, and re-pegged with about one peg every couple of inches. That should hold them. On disentangling the bath towel, I discover the hankie. It’s already dry. Yeah! I like this. I shove it in my pocket and pause, one foot on the doorstep, to re-check and re-count my washing. Thirteen items.

Nothing to worry about; I’m not superstitious.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappy, I walk inside and click the kettle on. As I drop the spoon in the sink, movement at the edge of my peripheral vision makes me turn on the spot. Whack! The bath towel smacks hard on the kitchen window. In the next moment the whole washing line, complete with towels, disappears from view. It’s gone!

I rush outside, coffee forgotten, to discover all is not as bad as previously envisaged. My washing was not blown away. It has merely been blown about on the gravel. It’s all still there, thankfully. The line simply snapped in the middle.

Decision time: do I attempt to re-attach the line or do I shove the lot through the machine once again? It takes me two minutes to realise that I should attempt to dry them regardless. Wet towels don’t smell that good after a while, dirty or not. So, fix the washing line it is, then.

2.39 and I’m standing in the middle of the yard, looking at two halves of a washing line that will never meld together, no matter how much I wish they would. Ah! But I’m sure I packed a new coil of washing line. It’s in a box, somewhere.

I leave the washing where it is and rush inside, poking holes in the towers of boxes, dragging lidded containers in the middle of my pathways, digging for gold washing line. No washing line. Where did I put it? I gawk at my man-made maze of boxes and decide I am homo sapiens, a creature of moderate intelligence. I can improvise. I can adapt. I can come up with solutions.

By 2.48 I remember seeing a coil of towing rope weighing down the lid of a box of tools. Yes! Towing rope is designed to withstand far more than washing blowing in the breeze.

I cannot move the rope without risking to lose the lid off the box which seems full of electrical cable and other water-damageable items. It’s still dry inside the box, a good sign after that mighty storm, but it won’t still be dry if the lid blows off. So, the tow rope stays.

2.52 and I’ve managed to find a way to unravel just enough rope to replace the broken washing line, and still leave the rest in place. Best of all, it’s not become a tangle, which is what I was concerned about. Phew.

I tie the end of the rope to the far end first (the highest point of some unrecognisable, long-ago-rusted farm equipment) and bring the length to the hook on the house wall. It’s just enough to reach the hook and be pulled taut by the sheer weight of the rest of the coil of rope which is still sitting on that box of tools. See? Clever!

Ah! The hook was meant to take rope the thickness of a washing line. Not tow rope. Hmm… I can perhaps use some of the old, snapped line to tie the rope to the hook.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2.58 and I have the tow rope stretched across the yard, not as taut as I’d like it, but high enough to hang things on. Now all I have to do is unwind the twisted washing off the old line and peg it on the tow rope. Easy, right?

Wrong. It’s 3.01 and I realise pegs were not designed to go on tow rope. I dive back inside and have a search through the boxes of supplies. By now, there are no more paths around the house. Just a jumble of half-open boxes and items of various descriptions thrown around everywhere.

I find them by 3.04. Not bad, hey? My old-fashioned jumbo-pegs which my kids had used to make forts out of blankets and sheets – yes, I knew I’d packed them.

I run outside and begin the arduous task of untwisting towels and re-pegging through twists of tow rope any-which-way I can, until the lot is fluttering in the wind as before, horizontal once more.

I dust off my hands and head back inside to my cold coffee. It’s 3.14 and I’ve won this battle!

I go back in to get a sun-lounger. Ten minutes later I’m back out, worried the washing has attempted to do another runner. It’s all still there. I touch the towels. Dry. All dry. Yes! I knew I could do it! I can get a good load washed and dried in less time than it took me when I used a tumble dryer. I’m loving this!

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The new Sunday Feature, Tales from the Roaring Water Bay, will replace the classic newsletter-type articles I posted before. It’s been brought about by this insane need I feel to write. Honestly, since I arrived in Ireland, I’ve barely had a few minutes without wishing I could just sit down and write.

Of course, that feeling may be borne by the fact that, to me, anything is better than unpacking a whole house-full of stuff, but in all honesty I’ve been thinking about writing seriously again for a while.

I’ve re-scheduled my waking hours to allow for the bulk of my time to be spent on editing and writing, and only a tiny amount of the leftover minutes to be squandered on social media and promo tasks. For example, of the hundred Facebook groups I’m in, I’ll only keep 10-20, and only if they prove their usefulness. I’ll also set up a separate page for posting promo for other authors, as my own timeline is important to me, and I wish to use it for showcasing my own books.

The blog will receive a makeover. I’ll keep the book reviews and author shout-outs, and weed out all unnecessary articles. The content will be much more suited to indie authors – examples, resources, pep-talks, etc, will all find their way in there. I will set up a separate page for book reviews, like a catalogue of titles I’ve read, with ratings and links to the full review elsewhere in the blog.

So far, I’ve thought of the following topics – of course, they’re likely to shift, according to popularity or urgent requests from friends and fellow authors and bloggers:

Book Review Monday

Teaser Tuesday

Author Showcase Wednesday

Indie Resource Thursday

Cover Love Friday

Understated Values Saturday

Tales from the Roaring Water Bay Sunday

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And you know those wip progress bars on the right hand side? Expect them to move, week-on-week. Procrastination is a word I have removed from my vocabulary. 

Is there anything I’ve missed? Any topics you’d like to see? Let me know in a comment, below. I’m still open for suggestions.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in News, Sunday Feature

 

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It Should be Banned! – July Issue

I won’t be here next Sunday, so I’m posting this in advance. The most annoying thing in July is – drumroll… – sand. Yeah, you read it right. Sand.

 

No, not this type. Not at all. I love sand dunes. There is something hugely pleasurable and also humbling to be able to see huge expanses of the stuff, just begging to be stroked, sifted through fingers, laid on.

No, what I mean is the sort that wriggles into your clothes, sticks between your toes and insinuates itself in your sandwiches. The sort of sand that clogs up the breathing holes in your shoes and harbours unpleasant surprises right beneath its deceivingly innocent surface. The sand that believes its primary role is to be crunched between teeth, breathed in and most off all distort your vision by causing you to rub your eyes until you cry hot tears of pain and despair. The sort that turns a perfectly good-spirited family outing to the beach into ‘why the Hell are we putting ourselves through this torture?’ grouching match on the way home. The sort of sand that feels best as it’s stripped from your body by a particularly vigorous jet of water as you stand smiling in the shower pitying the ones on the outside who are fighting their itches as they ill-humouredly wait for their turn.

Now that sort of sand is BANNED!

 

Have a nice trip to the beach, won’t you?

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2012 in Sunday Feature

 

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Writers and Writing – Take Five

Believe it or not – it’s sunny!

Yes, the three consecutive months of rain have actually rained themselves out. Today we’ve had sunshine. So, naturally, all lawn enthusiasts laboured over their mowers – the sound of hiccuping, spluttering motors filled the land for well over twelve hours. It’s finally quiet now, but it is 8 pm so I imagine, just like me, most people are lounging in the sunshine (still sunny, long may it last, fingers crossed) holding tight onto a tall glass filled with something cold and relaxing with a good book.

Relaxing makes me think about writing, and one thought leads to another.

The first two quotes made me wonder if I really know what I am doing to myself.

Writers are a little below the clowns and a little above the trained seals. (John Steinbeck)

Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs. (John Osborne)

And this last one makes me feel so much better about my chosen trade. I don’t need much to write.

Inventing is a combination of brains and materials. The more brains you use, the less materials you need. (Charles F. Kettering)

image credit: clipart

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Just A Thought, Sunday Feature

 

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