My week, as it was / waiting & watching

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Last week finished with a nice long wait.

It seems that we’ve lost the patience to wait, demanding things NOW and being able to find info on-line in seconds; ordering deliveries with a few clicks with many promises of ‘next day delivery!’.

I had made an order for an item of jewellery and I had to wait. It was being hand-made. So after 4 weeks: it was ready!

Stretching out the anticipation, I drove to the shopping centre but headed to other shops first and spent some time elsewhere. Even then – with the jewellers a few metres away – I walked on and went for lunch.

Another wait.

I sat alone and simply looked around. Most of my fellow diners (solo or not) occupied this brief waiting-time busily on their phones. But I just watched; them and other shoppers.

It was a pleasant feeling and reminded me of what we can gain from waiting.

It taps into our sense of being present now which is what ‘mindfulness’ tackles. And when my lunch arrived, I was happy.

I felt excited finally walking to collect my jewellery. There was no rush to grab it and go. I had a lovely cup of tea and chatted to the assistant. He told me about working on ships and serving famous people whilst I shared my own story about leaving a career for a passion (to write).

The whole experience was a joy. A quiet, calm joy.

  We should all embrace the waiting. Do more watching. Along the way you’ll find enjoyment in little things, appreciation for important things and maybe a little space & time to simply think.

I found inspiration in those moments. This blog post, of course but also ideas for poems/stories/characters – little snippets that I jotted down on the restaurant receipt.

So the waiting was worth it 🙂

And I aim to do more so it’s a NO to the box-sets – I will just be patient and hang-on for the next episode/series. So no spoilers please!

Oh for any followers of the British Bake Off, the final was a great show and x’#’.m deserved the win 😉

Lizzie HW

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The Slice ~ it’s all about Queenie

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This week is dedicated to one book.

Rachel Joyce’s  The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

I'm sure there were 5 biscuits?

I’m sure there were 5 biscuits?

The blurb [paraphrased] says: “When Queenie Hennessy discovers Harold Fry is walking … to save her…all she must do is wait.”

It seems simple enough – waiting for the arrival of someone.

But Queenie has secrets and now she knows she must reveal all to the man she has not seen for many years.

As she begins her confessions, we learn her story and more of their story.

 

If you read the first novel by Rachel Joyce: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry you will recall his desperation to reach her and make his own confession.

This is a follow-along book; set in the same time of Harold’s

journey but the reader is taken into the past to uncover long-hidden secrets of friendships.

You will be shaken. You will smile, laugh, cry and wonder at what makes people connect whilst others struggle to find their feet.

‘That’s the bugger with funerals’ said Finty. ‘All those nice people singing songs you like and saying stuff about how good you were and you’re not even there.’

I read this book in a few days whilst trying not to! But it overtook the very good read I had started and I swept through the tale.

At the end: I swore out loud…. Then burst into tears.

The book is also peppered with delightful illustrations by Andrew Davidson and they add a subtle charm to the overall reading experience.

If only they were in purple velvet!

If only they were in purple velvet!

Pure Delight!

Lizzie HW

a preview ~~ Killing the Rhino

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an extract from the short story: Killing the Rhino

The knife scraped butter on toast. Jacob watched it melt, a river of fat seeped through the crispy bread. He lifted the thick slice and crunched into it. He ate slowly, tasting each mouthful – a tinge of salt, wheat and bran.

Once finished, he slurped tea from his mug, washing away crumbs. The mug was stained, chipped; the tea wouldn’t taste right in any other cups, certainly not the new china ones. Jacob looked through the window over the sink, across the dry patch where grass wouldn’t grow. The boundary of the kitchen-garden was a low gathering of uneven rocks and discarded wooden posts. It wasn’t maintained and in places had tumbled apart. Nothing had existed in the garden, not since Mary left.

He tipped the tea dregs down the drain and rinsed off the things he’d used under a running tap of tepid water. He placed the items on a tea-towel to dry off, in the heat, it wouldn’t take long.
Jacob always had breakfast, alone, in the kitchen, though he could hear faint clatterings of a breakfast gathering in the main dining room. He had no reason to join them.
He wanted a smoke. Most people wouldn’t take any form of tobacco any more. He had stopped once, or twice – when Mary had pestered him about the smell and the pools of ash – it wouldn’t be given up completely. He reached up to the top of the dresser and his fingers bent around the tin – hidden from little eyes.

Despite the rising heat, Jacob wore woollen trousers, a heavy cotton shirt and the waistcoat – all were faded from sun, wind and wear. His feet were covered in scuffed walking boots. He felt a shiver and rubbed a hand across his neck. He looked down at the hand and wondered when he had got so old.

He glanced down at the tiled floor and remembered: Mary – stood with a hand on a hip and another half-raised. The raised hand held a wooden ladle and she used it to point. She pointed at the floor, the tiles – earlier washed clean, now splattered with mud and leaves and dung. Afterwards – all boots had to be removed at the steps and a boot-rack had been installed. Mary liked things to be neat.

The main doors were both open and tourists milled about between the house, the steps and the forecourt.

The truck was packed up. Adje was ready to drive them away.

Jacob shut the doors and closed the house.

~~~~~~#####~~~~~~~#####~~~~~~~~~#######~~~~~~

the full version will be available in the collection City of Animals out soon!

Lizzie HW

My week, as it was ~ sausage rolls, sand, being sad

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I usually have a draft ready, little notes of interesting things that happened, jotted down, as they happen.

I am a writer, that’s what I do.

Except – I didn’t, or I haven’t…

I actually looked in my Diary! I feel shame at that as if I have lost my sense of self, it’s only been a week… so how come I cannot recall all those silly, funny, quirky anecdotes to share? Erm, I stare blankly at the TV but it doesn’t tell me –

the mean smug %$x*! ( ha I always wanted to write swearing like that, and how come it always includes $ but rarely £?)

So, Dear Diary, we begin on our reminiscing

A week of scribbled notes in pencil, pen and strange undecipherable blots

Dates, meetings, work times and shorthand that no longer makes sense

The odd smiling face and the frowny ones too 😦

A few stars and doodles

so that was my week, it seems

written & drawn out in my hand

but what does it mean?

I mean – really mean???

Is there a hidden subliminal message to my present self

sent by my younger hand to the future?

Was I attempting to convey emotions and remind me

of some secret truth?

Hey! That was good but a bit deep…and yes, as it happens, I remember it all now!

In the last week I did the following:

  • served cheese, sausage rolls, made hampers ( I will NOT mention the C word).
  • ran about on a cold West Coast beach, making rubbish sandcastles,
  • picking up pebbles/shells (now installed in my slowly developing seaside themed garden)
  • and drawing/writing in the sand *see below for my beach poem
  • walked up and down and round & round,
  • listened to live music.
  • did those yucky cleaning jobs that make my bones feel mushy,
  • thought about cleaning my car (didn’t get any further),
  • watched TV, the British Bake Off is a current favourite plus trying to catch-up on lots of documentaries
  •  read a couple of Stonking books – see The Slice this Sunday for reviews (one had me sobbing & swearing)
  • and climbed that Editing Mountain.

Gasp! I am…. almost…. there!

[and to prove it: there will be a preview of a short story from my next eBook tomorrow, it’s called Killing the Rhino]

As it happens, Morecambe was having a Vintage Festival. Cue: 40-50s style dress, swing bands everywhere, fairground rides, stalls, old cars, various goods on sale; beer, food, loud music.. lots of hustly-bustly and happy people.

It doesn’t take much to make people happy. Not really. Music. Seeing other people, exchanging a smile, having a dance… it refreshes you in a way you can feel.

How could I have forgotten all that? Maybe I need to write more in my diary …

Lizzie HW

*the beach poem:

I went to the sea, to see what I could see, and I saw, the sea.

Are you sure this is Morecambe? Maybe we should have taken that left turn.

Are you sure this is Morecambe? Maybe we should have taken that left turn.

Indie publishing – the display of you.

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If you read all the books, blogs and watch vlogs – you will know that all the advice says ‘get on line’. The way to get yourself known is to be seen.

It is not a new idea but the tech has changed greatly. We can post in seconds and allow our words/pictures to be seen all over the world.

Hey, I am doing it. I have this blog, Twitter and Facebook. I am dabbling with Google and Pinterest and dip in & out of LinkedIn too.

So – if you do the on-line too: how much should you share?

It’s not a staged question with an absolute answer.

But it is something to consider.

I recall being on local radio a few months ago and this topic came up. One guy was open to posting anything he wanted, no holds. Myself and another guy were cautious and we admitted we considered all posts carefully AND the audiences.

The three of us had considered it because all of us had positions that led to connecting with people we didn’t know. If you are simply using FB to post to your family – OK great. But as an Indie writer, chances are the Virtual You is reaching, stretching, clawing to shake hands (virtually) with other writers, industry connections and of course – the consumers.

I have 2 Facebook pages. My own and an official ‘author page’ though the original has morphed into a go-between as people Friend Request me and I am too polite to refuse! So I am constantly thinking: should this be public, family/friends, just for this group or that?…

You can set various ‘privacy rules’ on Facebook but we have all seen how easily uncomfortable posts can escape and become viral.

Of course, I am not an A-lister; the media are not interested in me. Then again – what if I do become well-known, in say 5 years? No doubt the media will be climbing, digging, upturning the virtual rocks for anything ‘dodgy’ to run as copy.

That one comment, half-intended, badly written is taken out of context and BAM! A storm of poop swirls around me.

That could be you!

The general rules are: keep off Politics, Religion & Social/Cultural topics.

I say – do as YOU please. Just be aware that anything you post could become your unwanted catchphrase in years to come.

And that ‘clever’ very silly picture of you will be misconstrued by someone. That’s how we humans are.

Now where is that odd picture of …

Lizzie HW

My week, as it was – local ventures

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A busy 2 weeks to report on!

Most of my time has been taken up with the ‘job’ which is a Farm Shop styled deli.

It has been a joy to connect with people and chat about the great produce, mostly sourced locally from Yorkshire and with many items prepared fresh on-site.

Having recently watched reports on the crisis of British farmers I am pleased to see the consumers taking an interest in where their food comes from and choosing to pay a little extra to ensure we maintain our heritage and support local business.

After all, I am a local business too!

Another observation is the passion that people have about their own ventures. There is a visible pride when suppliers tell us about their ranges of products.

I am all for global economy and I do buy kiwis but we should also aim to support our own economies – buy local where/when you can 🙂

I have also suffered this last weekend at the hands of the modern sat-nav!

A family trip to a Hall & Gardens gave us a merry-go-round trip with directions to: turn left onto DxxRoad, turn right onto DxxRoad, take the first exit onto DxxRoad and then do a U-turn … ahhh!! But we got there in the end and had a great day exploring amazing gardens and a stately house.

It was built in the mid 1800s and the annual garden upkeep then was £360. About £23000 today! I am lucky if I can spend £360 now…

We had a quiz for my niece. Turns out, I am absolutely the NERD because I got cross when I missed the last question – it said ‘count the windows in the staff hall – now the shop’ but the ‘shop’ was a new building… arghhh…they meant the Tea Room which we skipped. Anyway I kept the pencil 😉

My niece was pretty good but she lost interest after 30 minutes – she is only 3 years old. (loser)

So that catches us up. I AM finishing the overdue over-edited book: City of Animals this week and then… onto the next project.

Bye for now…

Lizzie HW

Indie Publishing – do we need agents anyway?

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First off – I love being able to tell people ‘I am a writer. Oh yes, I am published. And I do it all myself.’

I get a buzz from being entrepreneurial (I can’t spell it though – thanks spellcheck!) and I love being told I am independent – damn right I am!

I have, in the past, been called too independent or had observations like: aren’t you independent? Both as weird criticisms. Because, well I can only surmise, that some people cannot handle it. Those are people who relish order to such a extent that even FUN has to have rules and needs someone in-charge.

I get it. There are natural leaders in the world and natural followers. In many respects I am the latter. I have been a leader in work roles (management) but I like to go with the flow in most situations and let others make those tricky decisions:

  • shall we eat here? Hmm it looks okay… [yep, you choose cos if it’s rank, then I am absolved from all blame]
  • do you want to go to XX party? [neither of us do, let’s be honest but you can be the one to say No]

Then again, because I am contrary – if the mood takes me then I want to be making all the choices.

I think most of us are like this, switching from Leader to Follower and those either side are the extremes.

So what am I getting to? (I can see you yawning at the back)…

I recently watched (read) an unfolding chat over the Harper Lee novel: Go (Set/Tell) a Watchman with interest.

I had not realised the book was the first draft but I thought it was another part of the same story. Upon hearing that Atticus was a racist I presumed it was a prequel, perhaps set before his daughter was born and maybe her arrival altered his thinking. I liked that idea – showing that a set of beliefs (often created by environment and learned from parents/peers) could be changed. An example that humans do learn and adapt.

Then all the hate came out about how bad the book was with customers demanding refunds. I was more interested in reading it then! I haven’t though.

I can see the interest in a study of the writing process; how drafts evolve, change and are influenced by writers’ associates: agents, managers, friends etc.

But the whole situation also tapped into my own insecurity, the classic self-doubt that we all feel, writers, painters, parents… are we doing things right? Are we acceptable to our fellow humans?

And we are back at the start – being INDIE.

I am conflicted with this. I always expected to get an agent when I dreamed of being An Author (in starry lights with glitter – I was only 8) but I relish the complete freedom of my own expression.

I have read some works that I would categorise as ‘dodgy’ but isn’t that to be celebrated too? The ability for anyone to publish whatever they like (within rules over obscenity/plagiarism – obvs!) is liberating. It taps into our ancient story-telling-around -the-fire gene and everyone has a story.

And how is one person’s opinion more valued than another? Of course there is experience that can influence good writing but the basics of a story are raw imagination and too much meddling will dilute. One agent looking for a ‘great historical romance with gritty back-drops’ could spot something that almost fits their ideal then mould that work until it becomes their story.

Good or bad – does it matter??

So I say – now is the best time ever to publish – go do it!

Lizzie HW