Feel Good February

Further to my post on Thursday, here’s a primer for how to do some good in your community.


This graphic came from my new friends at Feel Good February.  A friend put me on to them the other day I thought it was a fabulous idea.  The graphic below explains the concept, but you might want also to visit their website or Facebook page. Continue reading

Sisters as inspiration…

Image courtesy of Paul Martin Eldridge/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Paul Martin Eldridge/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have literally dozens of half-baked posts lined up waiting to be fully baked, but I must break into transmission with some exciting (to me, anyway) news.

My big sister is, as I type, in sunny Torino (that’s Turin, Italy, for the non-Italian savvy among us) for the world Masters Games.

In case you don’t know, the Masters Games is an international sporting meet for sportspeople over 30.

I’d like you to notice that word, ‘sportspeople’.  It’s kind of important.  Because, as looking at a picture of me will probably indicate, I don’t come from a massively sporty family.

Not, mind you, that you should infer too much about the rest of my family from me.  They almost all played more sport than I did and in the case of cricket and my brothers, I believe with some skill.  And in their time they have run and played squash and been gym members and all those things that people – even me – do to try to be healthy.  (Although not squash, in my case.  Don’t have the knees for it.)

But to the best of my knowledge, none of my family has ever participated in a world competition in any sport.  And now my sister, my older sister, professional, business owner, wife and mother of two grown-up children is competing as part of a rowing team in the Masters Games.

And I am so proud of her, I could burst.

She did a bit of rowing at uni, but this recent endeavour was really started as a fun way to keep fit with some friends.  Then their coach started to get ideas and now she has a training regime and she’s got muscles on her eyebrows and knows more about her heart rate than is quite decent.

And this is the woman who, as a child, was praised by her physical education teacher for being – and I quote – ‘a neat worker’.

I have recently decided that I need to get serious about improving my fitness.  The karate is helping, but I need better general fitness to do that better.  Exercising does not come naturally to me.  ‘Bone idle’ may not quite be my second name, but ‘naturally sedentary’ is in there somewhere.  But if my sister, who is several years older than me, can make the Masters Games, then I figure literally anything is possible.  The sky – or Torino at any rate – is the limit! I’ve reached that age where you need to decide whether you are going to be fit or slid into premature old age.

Thanks partly to my sister, I’m choosing fit.

So go get ’em, girly rowing team from country Australia.  I’m barracking for you!

A New Short Story – but not by me

I was going to beg your indulgence, for some parental skiting.  But I changed my mind, because what I am sharing is so good that it needs no apology.

My girl recently completed an assignment for her English class at school.  They have been reading a book called Chinese Cinderella, by Adeline Yen Mah.  The assignment was to write a story inspired by something in or about the book.  This is what my girl came up with:


My Name Is Feng San-San; The Story of the Girl by the Roadside ©

My name is Feng San-San. I live in the streets of Hong Kong. Every day I scrounge for food, beg and look in garbage bins. It is very seldom that I get so much as a watermelon rind. People say I smell, but how can I wash when I live in the filth of the streets? They say I should not be idle, but who will let me work?

My name is Feng San-San. The winters are so cold, and all I have to wear are rags. I shiver so much, but I have no food to bring back my energy. Mother started coughing today.

My name is Feng San-San. I am so scared. Mother’s cough is getting worse, my nose is running and we have no medicine to get better. I am so scared that we are all going to die.

My name is Feng San-San. My mother died today; I will miss her forever, her loss is so painful. Now all I have is my dad, and he becomes more depressed every day.

My name is Feng San-San. We get less and less food, as there are so many beggars these days. My father is getting desperate, and blames me for everything. He beats me almost every day now. I am so scared, will we survive?

My name is Feng San-San. I really don’t think that we can survive. Our situation has never been more desperate, and I wonder what we will do. My dad mutters incessantly that he will get money, we will have food. I think he is too hopeful.

My name is Feng San-San. My father has gone mad. He says we will be rich. That I will make him rich. I am more frightened than ever.

My name is Feng San-San. I am for Sale.


This story is copyright 2013.  No reproduction without written permission.

For those who are interested, the last line of the story above appears in the book.  That was the inspiration she used to create this story.

I think it’s great.  If you do too, please tell her so in the comments.  I know she’d appreciate it.



Extraordinary insight in one so young

This impressively insightful young woman is proof, should we need it, that models are not, by definition, stupid but they are defined by their image.  As she points out, we all are, in this wacky ‘legacy’ we’ve created.

My heroine Jo, in Rules are for Breaking is not a model, but she uses the same expression – ‘winning the genetic lottery’ – to describe her looks.  She’s not boasting; it comes up in the context of how it has emphatically NOT led to the glamorous and happy love life that people expect.


I must now have a Turducken

I know,  I know, Monday is supposed to be serious and about writing, but I simply cannot concentrate on serious right now.  Not now I know about the TURDUCKEN.

For those of you who were delicately culinarily nurtured, a turducken is a turkey which has been boned, then stuffed with a boned duck and a boned chicken.

No, I am not kidding.

There seems to be some difference of opinion as to whether the chicken is innermost, or the duck, and extra layers of stuffing between and inside the birds seem to be optional but really, the point is that this is one serious poultry fest.

Now, I know that many people probably think this is a little crass.  Sure, it’s kind of excessive and I believe it is very popular in the southern United States, a part of the world legendary for feasting on a scale that would have impressed Henry the 8th.

But there is part of me that LOVES this.  Continue reading

Gettin’ my NaNoWriMo on – or how word count can fight fear

I am assuming that everyone knows what NaNoWriMo is, but just in case you don’t, it’s a writing community challenge, in which people sign up to write fifty thousand words during November.  The idea is that you can get a novel – or a draft of one, or the bones of one, anyway – written in a month.

A lot of people love it and some have gone on to produce published, even award-winning novels from it.  But until now, I have avoided it.

This is partly because November is often a busy month for me and partly because I have never liked word count as a measure of progress.  Contrary to a lot of writing advice, I edit as I go, which means that when it comes to comparing numbers of words written in a day, I can’t keep up with people who like to write a ‘dirty draft’ then fix it up later.

But… while I’m cool with how I write, lately I’ve been finding that I just haven’t been getting enough done.

Now, I could put this down to a number of things.  I have been busy lately and this November is not going to be any less busy than usual.  It would be easy to cut myself slack and say it’s just life.

But I think there’s more to it than that.  I think I have been succumbing to The Fear. This fear has always been with me when it comes to writing.  It’s the fear that I won’t be good enough.  That I won’t be able to do justice to the ideas in my head and that I’ll let down my characters and my readers.

You’d think, now that I’ve had a book published, that the fear would lessen.  But in fact I think it’s got worse.  It’s not conscious – it certainly isn’t rational – but lately I’ve noticed that my productivity has gone to hell and I think this might be the cause.

So, I’ve decided that a concerted push at just getting the words down might be just Continue reading

Look! It’s a writer challenge – so show me what you’ve got!

Last Monday, I was talking about following your creative dream and taking encouragement from the great works that can come from following your creative muse. (Which is the connection to the picture of a rose. ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’, true; but it took Shakespeare to tell us so.)

This week, I want to see evidence.

The lovely Gabrielle, of Gabbawrites has tagged me to participate in the ‘look’ challenge.  I’m going to participate (you know me, I’ll go to the opening of an enevelope) and my contribution is below (along with the challenge ‘rules’).

But I’ve done this one before, so this time, as well as putting in my two cents’ worth, I’d like to mix it up a bit and offer you, gentle readers, a challenge.

I want you to show me what you’ve got.

Writing-wise, that is. This is a family show.  😉

Continue reading

Lights, Camera, Action: or how movies can make you a better novelist (and revisions less painful)

Oh, I know what you’re thinking: she’s just looking for an excuse to watch The Holiday while she should be working.

Well… okay, it may be true that a movie a little like that is running in the background while I type this, but it’s for a good reason and if you’ll bear with me, I’ll explain.

A week or so ago, I was meditating on the extraordinary power a movie’s music has to evoke emotion, meaning and even a sense of place in the audience.*

So then I got to thinking about all the other clever people who are involved in creating the experience we have when we go to the cinema.

It’s not just the actors, although they get most of the glory (when there’s glory to be had).  There’s the cinematographer and the director who frame the shots and decide what we actually see on the screen.  There are the production and set designers and builders who create the world of the movie and provide so many subtle cues about the characters and what’s important.  There are costume designers, who quite literally ‘make’ the characters, if the old saying about clothes is true.  There are sound and lighting and cgi people and foley artists and props people and casting agents and editors and… you get the idea.

When you consider all that talent, all those people who make up the team and bring you the movie, one starts to wonder what the writer brings.

Continue reading

Music for steaming ahead

This month, I signed up to the RWA’s 50k in 30 days challenge.

I didn’t plan to do 50,000 words, but I did sign up for 40,000.

I have to admit, at this half-way point of the month, it’s not looking good.

For some people, 40,000 words would be a piece of cake, but I don’t count the total words, only what I call ‘finished words’.  I write a chapter at a time and only move on when it’s as close to done as it can be without having the whole manuscript together.  (It’s a legacy from being a copywriter – each scene or chapter is like a ‘job’.  It’s how I roll and I’ve given up second-guessing it.)  So I might write 12,000 words but end up with only 4,000 that I count.

Continue reading