It’s another Monday, it’s the last day of August, and it’s a bank holiday. I have no idea where time is going at the moment but I can’t quite believe it’s September tomorrow. I’ve been a full-time author for nearly three months now. I thought I’d have more time on my hands. It feels like I have less!
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks deep in my editing cave, working on the second book in my Hedgehog Hollow series, and will have one more week to achieve my deadline. Then I’ll have a couple of days’ break before starting on the third book in the series.
My #MondayMotivation choice for the ‘What’s on my wall?’ feature this week is a picture I bought in the same Derby gift shop where I purchased the ‘Be Brave’ bear I wrote about in Part 2 of this series. You can find the post here.
As soon as I saw it, this image spoke to me as an author because each time I start a new book or even a new chapter or a scene on a work-in-progress, I’m asking myself this question:
WHERE SHALL WE GO?
I don’t plan my stories. I’m what’s known as a ‘pantser’ meaning I fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, making it up as I go along. I know my characters really well, I know what the premise of the story is and how it’s going to end … but I don’t know how the journey is going to unfold. And I find that really exciting.
This woman with her dog and her suitcase, standing in the woodland with many paths ahead of her made me think of the choices and decisions I make every time I put fingers to keyboard. Where will my story go? What adventures will my characters go on?
It hangs on the wall to the left of me and every so often, I turn around, look at it and smile. Where shall we go? My characters will give me the answer.
Wishing you all the best for the final day in August and a brilliant start to September.
Welcome to another #MondayMotivation ‘What’s on my wall?’ post, showing some of the quotes and pictures in my office that inspire my writing.
Today I have two canvases (prints) because they’re by the same artist and they inspire me in the same way so it makes sense to talk about them together. They’re by Staffordshire-born artist and card designer Peter Adderley who is now based in North Devon.
My collection – if you can call two prints a collection – started with the smaller lighthouse picture which is captioned ‘A Close Shave’ according to an art gallery but ‘Lighthouse’ according to other sources. So not really sure which is correct! Lighthouse certainly says what it is, though!
We live a few miles from a farm called Redcliffe Farm where there’s a farm shop, cafe and gift shop called Carbis. I spotted this in Carbis and fell in love with it immediately as it had a red and white striped lighthouse like the one in my Whitsborough Bay stories (although mine isn’t in the middle of the sea like this one).
The person who served me in Carbis told me that Peter’s seascapes always include a cat and a dog, sometimes prominently, sometimes less visible. Can you spot them? The cat’s a little more challenging on the photo (answer at the bottom of the page). I haven’t been able to find anything online to confirm whether this animal detail is true but I hope it is as that’s a lovely idea.
When I refurbished my office last year, I decided I had the perfect space on the wall for another of Peter’s prints so returned to return to Carbis to get another. They were struggling to get hold of Peter’s prints and only had one picture left which was about three times the size of my first one so it wasn’t an option and I returned home empty-handed.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it, though, and ended up re-arranging the whole wall just to fit in this gorgeous harbour scene. The colourful houses very much remind me of Whitsborough Bay’s Old Town. I’m afraid I don’t know what this one is called. It doesn’t say it on the print and I can’t find the answer online. If the smaller one is ‘Lighthouse’, I’d imagine this is probably ‘Harbour’!
You shouldn’t have too much difficulty spotting the cat and dog on this one as they’re very prominent in the foreground. But can you see the second cat?
These two canvases sit to the side of my desk but I often turn to gaze at them. They’re so colourful and calming and transport me immediately into my fictional seaside world.
Hope you have an inspiring week, whatever you have planned.
Where to find the cat and dog:
Lighthouse – dog on the boat, cat on the lighthouse on the railings around the light
Harbour – dog chasing cat in foreground, but there’s also a cat on the railings on the front of the red boat in the harbour
My fabulous publishers, Boldwood Books, have been running a #PetsOfIsolation thing (there’s probably a technical term for this but let’s go with ‘thing’ for the moment) over on Twitter for the last week. Or is it fortnight? Hmm. Time is a fluid concept just now. Anyway, the idea was to encourage their authors to share photos of their pets during lockdown and hopefully have readers do the same, filling Twitter with happy images of animals. Aw, lovely.
We have a 4-year-old sprocker spaniel called Ella so I shared a few pics of her but I decided to put together her guide to isolation here. For anyone not on Twitter (looking at you, Mum), I thought I’d share Ella’s advice on here.
So, here it is, Ella’s Guide to Isolation:
Get out of the house for socially-distanced exercise. Give your human extra exercise by dodging all photo ops and making them chase you for 1 x blurred pic. Fun for all the family
Steal stuff. As much stuff as you can. Steal all the stuff that doesn’t belong to you and use doe eyes to protest your innocence. So much fun winding up the humans and great for relieving boredom
Sleep. Do this lots. Preferably by clambering into your human’s bed when they’re not looking. Mmmm. Sleep is good. Sleep is better when you shed hair all over your human’s duvet
Ella’s Guide to Isolation Part 4 of 5: If your human is eating, stare at them. Maybe cock your head to one side, put paw on their knee & whimper. Focus. Intimidate. They’re weak. They will fold. That food will be yours mwah ha ha
Dream of life beyond isolation. Paws for thought. Think about holidays, trips, parties, hugs. This will one day pass and we can say hello friends. Hello family. Hello life. Hang on in there, stay home, stay safe xxx
Hope you enjoyed Ella’s Guide as a #PetsOfIsolation.
As a child, one of my favourite events on the calendar was always Bonfire Night. I was brought up on a 1960s/1970s housing estate, popular with young families. We were surrounded by a farmer’s fields and, because he didn’t tend to plant crops right up to the end of the street, the residents were permitted to build a bonfire on the wasteland each year.
All the local kids would gather wood from the neighbours and gradually build the bonfire over the space of a few days. There probably was adult supervision but I don’t specifically remember that; I just remember the fun of collecting the firewood and building.
There’d always be a Guy although I have no idea who created him; I seem to remember him just appearing. Again, there must have been an adult involved. Then, on Bonfire Night itself, the residents of our street and the next would gather around the bonfire and watch it burn.
There was something so magical about standing there, bundled up for warmth, listening to the crackle, feeling the heat on my face and watching the sparks drift into the night sky. I adored the smell. It’s still one of my favourite smells today. Somebody would hand around sparklers and the children would write their names in the air.
The people who lived at the bottom of the street had a double garage and I remember them having families back there for jacket potatoes and hot dogs. I think of this as an annual tradition but it might have only been once or twice they did it. It’s funny how selective the memory can be.
One year, I’d been to Brownies the night before Bonfire Night and, as the car pulled down our street to take me home afterwards, my heart sank at the sight of orange and yellow flames licking into the air. Yes, some local kids had decided it would be fun to burn it down a day early. I cried, thinking Bonfire Night was ruined, but the neighbours rallied and we built another one the next day, even bigger than the original. Looking back now, I’m amazed it was only burned down early the once. These days, there’d be no chance of building a bonfire and having it survive overnight.
I remember horror stories of chidden going to sleep in bonfires to protect them from an early lighting and being burned or even killed. What an absolute tragedy.
I don’t particularly remember having fireworks – just sparklers – at the neighbourhood display, but I do remember sometimes having fireworks in our back garden at home.
There was a big town bonfire at the playing fields at our local swimming baths. I seem to remember going there a few times too. I have a feeling that, when I was in my teens, the farmer started using the field so we couldn’t hold our local bonfire anymore.
When I went to Loughborough University, there’d be a big bonfire each year on the field outside my Halls of Residence although, weirdly, the only year I definitely remember going was on my year out when I came back and visited a friend.
After graduating, I lived in Birmingham. There was a huge bonfire and fair held each year on one Saturday in the north and the next in the south. I went there a couple of times too although the crowds were a bit too big for my liking.
Then it stopped. I suppose I thought of going to a bonfire/fireworks display as being very much a family thing and I didn’t have a family so I had years where I missed out.
Now I have a family, we don’t do something every year but we’ve been down to the beach a couple of times. People have little bonfires lit and there are fireworks and sparklers. We had great fun five years ago when we went down to Scarborough’s South Bay and hubby experimented with slow shutter speeds on his camera, taking pictures of the munchkin and me writing our names, and of us being ‘ghosts’ on the beach.
About a twenty minute walk down the road from us, McCain’s training centre play host to a bonfire and fireworks display each year. We’ve been to that a few times including this evening but, unfortunately, it was just fireworks this year because they’re doing a major factory expansion and there are building works on so there wasn’t the room for a bonfire.
The fireworks display was amazing (massive thanks to the organisers) although we’d messed up on the time somehow and thought it was starting 45 minutes earlier than it did so were very cold by the time the display actually started. Brr. About halfway through the display, it started raining and it was driving straight at us, making it a tad difficult to see the fireworks!
The rain came down very heavy on the way home but I’ve been home about forty minutes now and have finally warmed through. The munchkin has had a bath and has a hot chocolate so she’s happy and toasty too.
We have a dog and a cat and they’re thankfully not too bothered about the bangs. Felix (the cat) doesn’t love loud noises so will usually find somewhere to hide in the house like behind the sofa, but he’s quite calm about it as that’s his happy space. Ella isn’t bothered at all. She might bark a bit, but she’s generally pretty chilled. I do really feel for the pets who get very anxious, especially when fireworks are set off outside of celebration nights like Bonfire Night, NYE and Diwali and therefore owners can’t be prepared for them. We live in quite a quiet area and I haven’t hears many fireworks this year before today. There were a few last night but not particular loud ones but, again, I know some people live in areas where setting them off is rife and my heart goes out to them.
What are your views on Bonfire Night? Do you have some fond memories of it from childhood or from more recently? And do you love or hate fireworks? Would love to hear from you.