Update, June 2022. Time Flies!

Welcome back! It’s been almost two months since my last post, and the least I can do is offer an explanation and tell you what’s been going on in my life in the last few months.

January 2022

I’ll have to start in January. I spent most of this month in hospital with my mother, who died on the 31st. I’m not yet ready to share the feelings I struggled with at the time, but I’m sure I will, at a later date. I grew and learned a great deal from the experience, and when I’m ready, I’ll share some universal aspects which may resonate with some of my readers and fellow bloggers.

January and February flew by. Fortunately, my husband and my daughter helped me with practical matters, such as paperwork, donating my mother’s clothes, sorting out cupboards and the like.

I’ve also been helping my three children and five grandchildren as needed, which is wonderful, but time-consuming, although I wouldn’t change or give up a single moment I spend with my family.

February 2022

Snow Moon at Eyre Hall, Book Five in The Eyre Hall Series was published on 18th February. Fortunately all the pre-publication work, such as editing, cover design, kindle formatting, etc., was almost finished in January. So the publication went smoothly, although I did very little active promotion, which is probably why it only has few reviews.

Here’s Snow Moon at Eyre Hall on Amazon.com, and on Amazon UK.

Here’s the international link to my Amazon author page, where you can find all the novels in The Eyre Hall Series.

March 2022

Around March I started getting my bearings and some semblance of a ‘normal’ year started.

Last year, I finally decided it was time to publish my first novel in Spanish, Antes de que nacieras. Again, fortunately it was at the printers, ready to see the light in December, so, although it was published 10th March, all the pre-publishing work had been done during 2021. Here’s the cover and for those of you who read Spanish, here’s the Amazon.com link, Amazon.co.uk link, and the Amazon.es link There’s also an International Amazon link here

I haven’t said much about Antes de que Nacieras on Rereading Jane Eyre, because it’s in Spanish and I set up another blog for that purpose. Fortunately, I set up my Spanish blog in 2021. Here’s my Spanish Blog, where you can find out more about this novel, which I plan to translate into English in 2022.

My Spanish blog is called: Descubriendo paisajes infinitos, from a quote by the Chilean author, Isabel Allende. It means Discovering Infinite Landscapes.

Translation: Reading is like looking through many windows that open onto an infinite landscape.

I have been busy promoting my Antes de que nacieras (Before You Were Born) on my Spanish blog, facebook, twitter, Instagram, and doing a few book signings, and reading club meetings and discussions, and I admit, I’ve somewhat neglected actively promoting my Eyre Hall Series.

April 2022

I took part in two blogging challenges, one on YouTube channels on Rereading Jane Eyre and one on themes from my novel, Antes de que nacieras on Descubriendo Paisajes Infinitos.

I reached letter K on Rereading Jane Eyre and X on Descubriendo Paisajes Infinitos, which was a feat in itself, writing two blog posts a day, for most of the month, especially bearing in mind that I hadn’t prepared any of the posts before starting the challenges.

May 2022

I’ve been going to German classes for a year, some online, and others face to face, and May is final exam time. So here I am, at 63, learning one of the hardest European languages! I suffered greatly and passed my exam for the first A1 level, which means I’ll torture myself further next year and try for A2.

The reason I’m learning German is that my daughter is living in Munich, Germany, and will remain there for the foreseeable future, which means I spend summer months there and my grandchildren will speak German as well as English and Spanish. I’m hoping to learn enough to be able to interact with neighbours, shopkeepers etc, at a basic level. I’m a retired language teacher, so I know it takes time and patience to (really) learn a language, so I’m investing three years which I hope will be enough!

Foto from Pixabay

Kill Your Darlings!

May has also been word killer month! ‘Kill your darlings’ is a quote attributed to Stephen King, William Faulkner and Kurt Vonnegut, among others. It is a hard exercise for a writer, but so necessary.

This is why I’ve been re-revising Ghost Wife, a novel I started some years ago, on and off, and finished last year, but I wanted to tighten it up further, so I’ve completely revised it and reduced it by almost 3,000 words! Which, quite honestly, I never thought I could do without so many words!

June 2022

Ghost Wife is now at the final proof-reading stage, before it can be uploaded on Amazon as an ebook and paperback, to be published on 13th July.

Ghost Wife is a contemporary romantic mystery. I’ve subtitled it as a chilling romantic suspense. It’s available at a special launch price of 0.99. Here’s the International link.

Click on the image for Amazon UK link.

Ghost Wife on Amazon.com

I’ll tell you more about Ghost Wife shortly, for the moment, I’ll leave you with the Blurb.

Ghost Wife: From the Blurb

They call me Maria, and I’m a ghost. Rosewood Hall is my mausoleum, and my room is a dank cell, hidden within its clammy walls.
There are other people in this house. They can’t see me. They know I’m here, but they pretend I’m not, because I don’t exist, not really, not at all, at least not for them. I’m part of the building, ignored but unmoveable, secured to the walls by invisible chains.
I’ve seen them glancing at my window. I’ve felt the terrified look on their faces when they dare to glance up before they shiver and walk away, and it gives me strength because it means I’m still powerful.
They can’t tell anyone about me because nobody believes in ghosts. I’m their dark secret, so they make sure no one comes anywhere near the attic. They don’t know you are coming to set me free.
*****
Lyra Leyton is sleeping on a friend’s couch after losing her job as an English teacher at a language school in Spain. When she receives a lucrative employment offer as home tutor and live-in nanny to 10-year-old Carla, at Rosewood Hall, in Yorkshire, she can’t believe her luck.
Life at the secluded residence is idyllic at first, until disturbing sounds from the attic, cryptic messages from an anonymous sender, and a visit from a private investigator searching for a missing girl, haunt Lyra’s sleepless nights.
A panic-stricken Lyra, hands in her notice, but Carla’s widowed stepfather, who lives in London, begs her to reconsider, claiming wild animals, local gossip, and creaking noises in the ancient house, have caused her unrest.
If Lyra stays, she could lose more than her mind, but can she afford to leave? And can she abandon her young pupil?

So, in spite of these first six months being very emotionally and professionally stressful (I mean it’s not every year an author publishes three novels in six months!!), a lot has been going on and I’m feeling reasonably satisfied.

The Next Six Months July to December

Firstly, as a mother and grandmother, I’m looking forward to holding my sixth grandson, Carlos, in my arms, in Munich, in July. I’d like to finish two children’s books I’ve started writing with my grandsons Miguel. and Alejandro.

Secondly, as an author, I plan to keep up with both blogs, English and Spanish, translate my Spanish novel into English, Before you were born, complete another Spanish book I’ve started, finish my next Eyre Hall series novel, I’ve also started, plus Jane Eyre A to Z, which is almost ready for publication.

These are my plans, but nothing’s written in stone. Who knows what hurdles I’ll meet in the coming months? In the end I just try to enjoy and make the most of one day at a time.

Sorry for the two-month absence and I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with you during the next six months!

What have you been up to and what are your plans for the next six months?

Why I love long car journeys #Mondayblogs

I travel across Spain from south to north about once a month. That’s over 800 kilometers, and I go by car. I could travel by plane or train, which is faster, but unfortunately it’s not practical and here’s why.

My husband and I stay at my mother’s cottage, in a tiny village which has 200 inhabitants. There is a tiny grocers, but there are no supermarkets, chemist, coffee shop, or any type of bar or shop.

It’s very cosy and peaceful. I come across cows, chickens, horses, or goats as I walk around the streets and nearby fields and country roads.

The problem is if I want to buy food, or anything else, sit at a coffee shop, or go out for lunch, I need the car as there’s no public transport between villages.

Also, my main reason for coming is to visit my mum who is at a care home in a nearby village. But again, I need the car to get there.

Of course having the car also means we can visit beautiful, secluded places literally in the middle of nowhere, as well as nearby large towns such as Santander.

Back to the delights of the eight hour car journey. I have my laptop, kindle, smartphone and tablet, plus tons of apps (audible, scribd, youtube, netflix, amazon prime videos, etc., notebooks and pens. So I’m never bored.

I have bottles of water and snacks, just in case, although we stop twice for a bathroom/coffee break.

I also enjoy looking through the windshield, watching the world go by, daydreaming, thinking, taking photos, and chatting to my husband.

Paradoxically, I find it liberating to sit in a confined space, free from mundane distractions and obligations. I’m with myself exclusively, while my husband is busy driving. I’m not a fan of driving myself. I prefer to do my own thing while he drives!

So, do you enjoy long car journeys? Tell me why or why not.

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘5 Steps to Writing a Poem’ #March2021 @Pixabay #Poetry #ThursdayMotivation

Today’s just one of those days…

The Moon's hiding
In night's black cave,
The darkest hour,
Seconds before 
You surrender,
The moment when
Hope has devoured
Your weary dreams,
Open your eyes,
Look up to sky,
The cloud has passed,
The moon is always there,
However dark the night.
@LucciaGray

Being almost 62, I’ve had a few dark days and the advantages of having so much experience is that I have some strategies to overcome some of those bleak moments we all have, now and again, sometimes for a reason, but often for none at all.

Here’s what I do. I have my WAM, or water and music therapy, described in this post, where I remind myself that I’m invincible. Other times I give in to my melancholy and write a poem. I love writing poems, and it comes fairly easily, but a proper poem to show the world takes at least two hours, plus sometimes I just leave it to rest in my mind and come back later or another day to revise or finish.

5 Steps to writing a poem when you’re feeling blue.

This is what works for me. You need pen and paper or your journal, that’s it. Optional: music, favourite poems, films etc.

First I just freewrite, stream-of-consciousness style. I get it all off my chest, but I put a time and length limit (I don’t want to (over)wallow in my misery), of about ten minutes or one page in my notebook or sheet of paper. This is really helpful, because it helps me understand how I’m feeling. That in itself will make you feel much better, but let’s continue.

Secondly, I look at the words and expressions I’ve used. In this case I had darkest hour, dark night, no hope, pitch black, dark cave, loss, sentences such as ‘the darkest moment is just before dawn’ came to mind, etc. . On another, clean page, write the main words or short phrases, taken from what you’ve written, each on a separate line. At this point You can think of song lyrics and poems or even film or book titles that align with your feelings and add the lines or words, or any other words and short phrases which come to mind.

Thirdly. Congratulations, your poem is there, but now you have to give your words a rhythm. I like to work with syllables, which is why I love haikus 5-7-5 or tankas 5-7-5-7-7. It’s simple, and it works. Order your words into the syllables and lines. You should be able to come up with a few short poems. You don’t need to use all the words, you wrote, just a few to highlight your feelings, and you can add synonyms for rhyming purposes.

Fourthly, Great! We’re nearly there. I play around with syllables and sounds, this time I’m paying closer attention to the meaning or feelings I wish to transmit. Here I often change the syllables and rhythm to suit my words and feelings. Today’s poem above is not a haiku or tanka, it’s mostly four syllable lines, except the last two which have six syllables.

This is how my poem started off this morning,

Finally, because fifthly sounds funny, you need a new sheet of paper and write out your rough version or versions, you may have more than one. You add the final touches and if you’re happy, type it out and show it to the world, and if it doesn’t sound quite right and your inspiration is in tatters, put it in a drawer and come back later to finish.

Whatever you’ve written, I bet you feel better already. I always do! And, of course, I don’t publish them all. Some never get properly polished, they’re just for me and my journal.

Do you write poems when you’re feeling blue?

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘Invincible’ #March2021 @Pixabay #Haiku #ThursdayMotivation

Today I needed a WAM Morning, that is my Water And Music therapy. Step 1: I get up and jump into the shower while my favourite motivating song/s of the moment are playing, loud enough to block out my terrible singing!

The songs vary depending on my mood. Today it was The Champion sung by Carrie Underwood on replay, and by the time I went downstairs for Step 2: my first cup of tea, I already felt energised. I did 7 minutes of quick exercises, stretches and breathing while the water boiled, as usual. Step 3: I then carried my tea into my study and write my morning pages in my journal, again as usual.

I don’t follow any set rules for my morning pages; I freewrite whatever I need to say to myself or get off my chest, or what I’ve dreamed of, or what I’m worried or happy about, for no longer than ten minutes. I have a busy day ahead, so there’s no point in wasting more time than is strictly necessary on brooding or daydreaming.

And now I’m ready for Step 4: to face the day with a big smile on my face!

What do you do to bring a smile to your face on a challenging morning?

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

 

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘The Sun Will Rise’ #March2021 @Pixabay #Haiku #ThursdayMotivation

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.  Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, 1862. 

After darkest night

Sun will rise on horizon

Bringing light and warmth 

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We cannot avoid dark nights, there will be one every day, as surely as the sun will rise. As the sun sets, the night gradually darkens until ‘the darkest moment is just before dawn’.

Black night will descend,

Dawn will break darkest moment,

Hope will rise like sun.

We cannot avoid loss, any more than we can avoid the night, but we can be comforted with the fact that daylight will always follow.  

Avoiding loss means avoiding love. If we do not love we will not mourn any loss, but it would be a loveless life.

Some philosophers like Heidegger suggest that as our being is finite, then an authentic human life can only be found by confronting our mortality and trying to make a meaning out of the fact of death. In this case, the acceptance of our mortal limitation is the basis for an affirmation of our life.  

And while we carry our pain like a backpack full of bricks, we must make a conscious effort to gradually lighten our load and live each moment mindfully, not only to be alive.

Advice and suggestions for coping with loss here in my post on ‘6 Ways to recover from grief.’ 

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘Butterfly Effect’ #March2021 @Pixabay

Don’t worry, I’m not going to introduce you to Edward Lorenz’s hypothesis, presented at the New York Academy of Science, in which he states that the flutter of a butterfly’s wings could set in motion a movement of air which could eventually lead to a hurricane on the other side of our planet. There are arguments for and against this theory, but I don’t have the scientific knowledge to enter into a discussion on the subject.

I’m going to write about the importance of apparently little things which can have a tremendous impact on our lives.

Small, often improvised decisions or sheer luck, can have long-lasting positive or negative effects on our lives and the lives of the people we interact with, regardless of whether we are aware of the consequences. In fact, we may never know how our words or actions changed the course of someone’s life.

Chance meetings

How many of you met the person you are currently living with by chance? If I hadn’t visited a friend of a friend on a specific day, I would never have met my husband. By the way, I never saw her again, so she doesn’t know! Many friends have mentioned similar experiences. Job opportunities, finding the right house, etc. are often the result of a chance encounter.

Minor Changes to Our Routines

I recently reviewed ‘Feel Better in Five’ and ‘Atomic Habits’, two books about how minor changes to our routines can make a tremendous impact on our lives.

For example, imagine never brushing your teeth, and now imagine doing so three times a day for 2 minutes, and what a great impact that makes on your oral health.

Five or ten minutes of exercise, or meditation, or journaling will improve our wellbeing enormously.

Happy Moments

What about your happy moments? Some of your happiest moments were life-changing events, such as a birth, a wedding or an official ceremony. These moments are few and far between.

Most of our happy moments are smaller, often intimate events such as a photograph you took, a letter you received or sent, a coffee with a friend, a text message, a phone call, a kiss, a hug, words of encouragement from a friend or a stranger. Our lives are full of a multitude of small moments, which make us happy.

The older I get, the more important little things become, because every day is made up of moments and I’m determined to make each one special.

It’s a bit like the saying, ‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.’ So, ‘Take care of the moments and the days will take care of themselves.’

I looked up the quote, just in case, and as I had supposed, someone else said something very similar, first!

In this case, anglo-Irish, 18th century writer,  Maria Edgeworth said: If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.

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Do you practice any small actions which impact your life?

Has a chance encounter or event changed the course of your life?

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘Still Winter, Soon Spring, Welcome March!’ #March2021 @Pixabay #Tanka

Still winter, soon spring,

Birds build nests, trees start to bloom,

Stormy, windy March,

Go you! Leave winter behind,

New year, new life, rebirth, hope.

****

I discovered this fabulous webpage full of wonderful poems to March by nineteenth and twentieth-century poets which you might like to read, while you listen to birds chirping!

I’ve noticed the sound and smell of spring during my daily walks. Birds are merrier and plants are blooming, the air smells fresher and sweeter and the sounds are more cheerful.

I look forward to spring every year, but this year, especially I’m looking forward to moving away from the confinement and fear of  this winter, or should I say last winter?

I was surprised to hear on the news that there are two spring dates, an astronomical or traditional one from 21st of December to 21st March and a meteorological one, which uses whole months, so winter is December to February and spring March to May, and so on for the other seasons.

Apparently, meteorologists think it’s more sensible for record keeping purposes. I can see it would work from a practical point of view too. It may give us a sense of a more logical order if the seasons are defined by whole months, but I’m a fan of astrology and the astrological calendar.

That doesn’t mean to say I’m superstitious, on the contrary, it’s because I believe there is order not irrationality in the cosmos. The universe is like a giant clock where everything ticks perfectly, thanks to its marvellous machinery.

According to the astrological calendar, winter is based on the position of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun, regardless of weather conditions. I feel more appreciation for these considerations, because it reminds me that I’m part of something greater than myself and the planet where I happen to live at the moment.

More about this debate in this article.

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

How do you feel about March, is it a winter month or a spring month?

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Image by ejausburg on Pixabay

Pixabay is a wonderful site where many generous amateur and professional photographers offer their photos at no cost (there are also photos you have to pay for). And Thursday, which is in the exact middle of the week is an ideal day to stop and reflect, so I’m grabbing one or more pictures and reflecting on whatever comes to mind. I’m not planning on stream-of-consciousness, because although it’s an unplanned post based on a random picture, I’ll edit my thoughts and words, because you’re worth it! I want you to read a pretty and polished post:)

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘The People I Love’ #February2021 @Pixabay #Tanka

Al final del camino me dirán:

—¿Has vivido? ¿Has amado?

Y yo, sin decir nada, abriré el corazón lleno de nombres.

Pedro Casaldaliga 1928-2020

Paraphrased translation:

At the end of my journey they will ask if I have loved and I will show them my heart full of names.

****

We are all aware of our mortality, but the demands of our daily lives, work, family, shopping, household chores, etc. take up most of our thoughts and energy, and then, in the end, everything that’s important is relegated, which brings me to the real topic of this post: the people we love.

Many of us cannot see our loved ones face to face due to covid19 restrictions, and yet we must find time to keep in touch with those we love and appreciate; our family and friends.

Get in touch with them. Call them, send a message, a letter, a postcard, an email, say, ‘I love you’, ‘I miss you’, ‘How are you?’ Not only will it cheer them up, it will also raise your own spirits.

We need to feel the connection with the people we love and appreciate, even if we can’t touch them, hug them or kiss them.

They’re deep in my heart,

I see their faces and hear

their words and laughter

In my thoughts, dreams and soul,

Forever,

The people I love.

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

How do you keep in touch with the people you love?

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Image by ejausburg on Pixabay

Pixabay is a wonderful site where many generous amateur and professional photographers offer their photos at no cost (there are also photos you have to pay for). And Thursday, which is in the exact middle of the week is an ideal day to stop and reflect, so I’m grabbing one or more pictures and reflecting on whatever comes to mind. I’m not planning on stream-of-consciousness, because although it’s an unplanned post based on a random picture, I’ll edit my thoughts and words, because you’re worth it! I want you to read a pretty and polished post:)

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘White Swan’ #February2021 @Pixabay

White Swan

This is no black swan

Who was once a duck,

This is no mirror

Hanging on the wall,

This is no painting,

Seen in museums.

She’s a brave, white swan

Travelling alone

Towards the unknown,

Sure to overcome

Any sudden storm.

The queen of the seas

****

Events that are difficult to predict but when they happen have an enormous impact are referred to by author, Nasim Taleb as black swans, in his influential book.

These low probability and high-impact events are unavoidable and are guaranteed to occur in our personal and collective lives.

I’m using the term, black swan, loosely to refer to any unexpected, sudden and negative personal events such as unemployment, illness, death, or collective experiences such as an earthquake or covid19.

These unforeseen events have happened and will inevitably strike again. If we are unprepared, there is very little we can do to stop the emotional and physical tsunami that threatens to bring us to our knees.

Resultado de imagen de quotes about adapt or die

But we can be prepared. By building three powerful mindsets we should work hard to develop: Faith, optimism, and adaptability, from an early age.

We must be prepared for unavoidable disasters by increasing our self-confidence and mental fortitude, cultivating a positive mindset, and creating a mental attitude of adaptability to change.

Sometimes I feel all our lives are a preparation to cope with black swans when they appear, because we know we will surely face more than one throughout our lives. As schools are more concerned with teaching facts, emotional growth is left to our personal initiative and our families.

I’m a great believer in the power of reading, reflecting, and meditation. I’m certainly feeling stronger and more prepared to face challenges since I have more time to think and meditate and read specific books on personal growth.

If you’d like to have a look at some of the books I’ve been reading follow the link below.

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

How do you cope with black swans?

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Image by ejausburg on Pixabay

Pixabay is a wonderful site where many generous amateur and professional photographers offer their photos at no cost (there are also photos you have to pay for). And Thursday, which is in the exact middle of the week is an ideal day to stop and reflect, so I’m grabbing one or more pictures and reflecting on whatever comes to mind. I’m not planning on stream-of-consciousness, because although it’s an unplanned post based on a random picture, I’ll edit my thoughts and words, because you’re worth it! I want you to read a pretty and polished post:)