#SOCS ‘Manu and Me’

This post was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s weekly Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday. This week it’s “man.” Use it as a word by itself or find a word with “man” in it. Have fun!

Manu and Me

My husband is called Manuel, but I call him Manu. We met in 1978.

Over the last 39 years we’ve done many things, including working hard, having three children, buying a house and making a comfortable home for us and our children.

We’ve had good times and a few rainy days.

I’ve mostly forgotten the bad times. Perhaps they weren’t that bad anyway.

We’ve made lots of journeys together: Florence, Algarve, Vienna, Berlin, Bremen, Bratislava, Budapest, and all over Spain and the UK, our favourite places!

Manu loves driving while I take pictures or write.

We love taking selfies. We’ve taken hundreds since the first picture in a photo booth!

I’m glad Manuel and I stuck together, in spite of almost splitting up, more than once.

Here’s our latest photo taken this morning at the beach in Almeria.

Manu and I are still standing, still smiling, still travelling, and still healthy and optimistic enough to look at the camera and smile, and that’s a lot to wish for and enough to have.

My Manu and me.

#SoCS Oct 10/15 Procrastinating, Choosing, and Listing.

This post was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness prompt:

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “ing.”  The first word of your post must end in the letters “ing.” Extra points if the final word of the post does too. Enjoy!


On this occasion, I was also prompted by Keith’s post, which gave me the idea of writing about my NaNoWriMo participation. Check out his post  


PROCRASTINATING. I do it all the time. Excuses, excuses, excuses. I have so much to do, and my time is limited. Although I know I’m not the only one facing this dilemma, it doesn’t lessen the anxiety I often feel when I have to choose what to do and what to postpone.

CHOOSING. Sometimes I wish I had someone to decide for me and tell me what to do next. Someone who’s so wise and supportive that he/she knows the way to go. Is that what religious people feel when they ask their God what to do? Is that what subs feel with their doms? Children with their parents? People who have a personal coach or mentor?

LISTING. I’m afraid I don’t have any of the former, but I do have lists. I’m forever writing to-do lists. I find them very helpful. I write them every day before leaving work, and then put it all out of my mind. The next day, I stare at my list, get on with it, and gleefully strike off everything I manage to do. Before I leave, I repeat the ritual. It usually works out, so I get everything done, more or less…

Then when I get home I look at my other to-do list, my most precious one: My writer to-do list. This one is more complex than my work one, because whereas my work schedule and responsibilities are set by someone else, as an independent writer, I have to make all the decisions myself. What and when to write, what and when to promote, what and when to include in my blog, etc. Often the list includes conflicting things to do, such as: ‘Finish outlining book three’ and ‘Start something new for NoNaWriMo’.

PROCRASTINATING. Back to my first point. Do I want to start another novel because I don’t want to sit down and write book 3? Am I afraid of the daunting task of completing my trilogy? Do I really want to start something new before I finish my current project? Will it help me to completely forget about book three for a month? Will I even have the self-discipline and time to write 50,000 words in one month? So many questions to answer before I write my next writer to-do list!

Should I…

Take part in NaNoWriMo with a new project?


Finish my current project?

I’m confused but tilting the scales towards finishing my current project. What do you suggest?

Thanks for helping and SUGGESTING!


Did it! Started and finished with an ‘ing’ word!

Read some of the others, or take part yourself, more information here!


Is there a best way to write a novel? #SoCS


Is there a best way to write a novel?

I’m sure there are at least as many ways to write a novel as authors writing. In fact, there are probably more, because authors could even write each book in a different way.

I don’t know if my way of writing is the best way, it probably isn’t, because I’m fairly new to this profession, having only written two novels so far, but what I do know is that it’s the way that works for me.

I call it the layered approach. First I ‘see’ the chapter or scene I’m about to write. I imagine the conversation, situation, place, and or action which will take place, and when I feel confident about it, I start writing.

The first draft is often an outline, just so I don’t forget, because I have another full-time job and a family, and sometimes I just don’t have the time to develop the idea fully when the idea comes.

During the next stage, I keep thinking about and seeing the scene. I call it ‘summoning’, as I walk, drive, cook, or even dream. If I can, I talk to someone about it, if not I talk to myself about it.

Then I expand the outline, and I continue expanding the outline, with various layers, on different occasions. Each layer focuses on a different aspect, character, or part of the scene. The layering is repeated until I’m satisfied. Then comes the editing, which I consider the final layer.

This process can take days, weeks, or even months, because sometimes I leave the first drafts and return much later, after writing other scenes. I never write chronologically, that is in the order the book finally appears.

I plan the whole novel before I start, but it’s a very loose plan, because I know the characters grow as I write, which sometimes affects the plot, and even the ending. I want to make sure I’m writing with a goal but without constraints.

I imagine it’s like filming. I’m sure no director starts filming scene one and carries through filming in the same sequence as the final film appears at the cinema.  I’m also pretty sure painters don’t start at the top of the canvass and finish at the bottom when they paint! The creative process is far too anarchic, eclectic, and subconscious, to follow a strict routine, although the final product looks deceptively ‘neat and tidy’.

Are you an artist? How do you create your work of art? Do you also do it like this?


This post was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s #SoCS: Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

This week’s prompt is: Use the word “is” to begin your post – bonus points for using it (as a word on its own or at the end of your final word, i.e. “metamorphosis”) at the end of your post as well. Have fun!

Would you like to read some of the other posts?


Stream Of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS: ‘Compliment / Complement’

This post is written in response to Linda G. Hill’s prompt on Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Today’s theme is “compliment/complement.”  Use one or use them both. Have fun! Anyone can join in! Enjoy posting and/or reading other posts here.


I’d like to take a few minutes to compliment myself, before Saturday ends. It’s not something I do very often, being far too critical and demanding of poor me.

Even though I do my best, it doesn’t seem like it’s enough, and it should be. Your best should always be enough, because there’s no more to give, without causing undue stress.

Today I’d like to compliment myself because a year ago I published my first novel, and I did my best, so that’s a success for me. No doubt there are plenty of much better and more successful books out there, but I couldn’t have done it any better, so I’m proud of All Hallows at Eyre Hall, and what I’ve achieved this past year. See my previous post for more details.

On the other hand, all compliments should have a complement. It’s no good patting yourself on the back and forgetting about it. You must move on and do something else to complement your compliment, thereby moving on in your abilities and objectives.

My compliment also has a complement, and that’s the second book in the trilogy which will be published next summer, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall. See my previous post for more details.

Keeping my spirits up every day isn’t always as easy as it seems, but I have a little trick to perk myself up. A song. I have several, but Nobody does it better is  one of my favourites.

I take it with me to the shower and sing my heart out while I lather up, so that ten minutes later, when I’m drying my hair, I’m on the top of the world! Sometimes, as the day progresses, I’m a little further down, but who cares, I shower every day!

Don’t forget to compliment yourself on your achievements, and complement them with some more achievements!

What makes you feel great when you’re a little down?



Stream Of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS: Vary your ‘Very’


This post is written in response to Linda G. Hill’s prompt on Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Today’s theme is “vary/very.” Anyone can join in! Enjoy posting and/or Reading other posts here!



Vary Your ‘Very’ (Or Better Still Just Delete It!)

This is something I’ve written about before, but it’s a subject that gets me all worked up, so I’ll talk about it again.

I hate the word ‘very’.

‘But why?’ You may ask. ‘Very’ is a nice little word. It could be, if it appeared every now and again, but it becomes a crutch, or even worse, an annoying habit.

I hate coming up with ‘very’ continuously when I’m reading, and believe me, it usually is continuous. Writers either use it too much, or don’t use it. 

The only words I hate more than very are ‘a bit’. The three make me cringe, painfully.

Fortunately, there are two solutions to the ‘very’ issue:

  • Leave them out. Just scan your document for them and delete. Easy. Read your text again. See, I told you, there’s no difference, is there? Wrong. There is a difference, you’ve improved your text, immensely!
  • Second option. Vary your ‘very’. Think of alternatives. Be creative. Change the words for another stronger adjective or a superlative, make the adjective into an adverb, use a complete clause, or metaphor, or even a simile, anything will be better than ‘very’.

Some examples for improving ‘very’:

‘very beautiful’ : stunning?

‘very silly’: idiotic? The silliest person I’ve ever met?

‘very far’: a long distance / too far to walk / from here to Land’s End?

‘very tired’: exhausted? Worn out? As if I had walked to Rome?

‘very slow’: slowly?

‘very cross’: furious? Mad enough to kill him?

Very clever: ingenious? Intelligent? Brilliant?

I said I hated every  ‘very’, but there are two which are on the top of my list of detestable expressions.

The worst are ‘very good’ and ‘very bad’.

Let’s face it, your character is either bad, or wicked, or evil, or even a monster, but ‘very bad’, that’s so weak, it makes me want to cuddle him.

‘Very good’ irritates me no end. What do you mean ‘very good’? If it’s food, is it delicious? If it’s a job well done, is it excellent? Is it great? If it’s a character, is he adorable? Perhaps to die for?

I say ‘very good, one more time’, or ‘very good, try again’, to encourage my students when they do something badly! That’s absolutely true, all teachers know it’s true.

Come on, teachers never say ‘very bad’, do they? But when they say ‘very good’, it’s never enough. I’m almost certain that ‘very good’ isn’t anywhere near good for most people. If it really is good, use another word, don’t put ‘very’, or you’ll ruin it!

I feel mentally drained after this rant. I need to go for a run and let some steam off. I’ve written ‘very’ so many times, I couldn’t even try to get any work done, because I feel ‘very silly’.

Remember, don’t have a ‘very good’ weekend, have a wonderful weekend! 


PS If I haven’t convinced you, perhaps Mark Twain will:

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should b

This is a wonderful chart I’ve used in class.

PS I forgot to say that the only time ‘very’ would be acceptable is if it’s used in a dialogue, but be warned, I’m  going to be very suspicious of the character’s intellect!


Stream Of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS: ‘Peace’

This post is written in response to Linda G. Hill’s prompt on Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Today’s theme is “piece/peace.” Make one or both your theme or just include them somehow in your post. Anyone can join in! Enjoy posting and/or Reading other posts here!


Inner Peace versus World Peace

I used to think about world peace.

When I was young(er), I thought big; the world was my oyster. Ironically, at that time, in the 1970s, Internet, google, smart phone, low-cost travel, etc. were not in our vocabulary. So the information we had about the rest of the world was reduced to documentaries, and occasional news from a few friends and relatives scattered around the globe, but that didn’t matter, I thought very big. Why not?

Anything and everything, such as world peace, was possible, although I never really thought about how it would ever come about, as if just willing it would be enough.

I would talk about it, take part in debates, sometimes even marches. I also wrote letters to newspapers, or my local MP, as if it were possible just by talking and writing about it.

When I started working, in the 80s, I was busy paying my bills and bringing up a family, and in spite of still having the same ideals, I was no longer doing anything towards them, except believing. I still believed world peace was possible. Why not?

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it all started, but as I’m approaching my retirement, I no longer believe in grand issues such as world peace. Don’t get me wrong, I wish it would happen, I just no longer believe it will in my lifetime, and I’m even more convinced that I’ll never have anything to do with it, if it does happen.

It doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams any more, I do. It’s just that in spite of all the technological and digital innovations and massive worldwide communication, my dreams have become more realistic. Despite having friends and acquaintances (some I’ve met, others I never will. I say this knowing it doesn’t matter, or does it?) in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, India, Canada, as well as Europe, the US and parts of South America, my dreams have become intimate and local. Very local.

Now I dream with my own inner peace, because it’s the only one which is in my hands, and it’s the only one I now value.

I’m aware that ‘peace’ is an arbitrary word, so I feel obliged to clarify what it means to me.

Being at peace with myself and my surroundings means I’m not interested in races or arguments, being right, or being perfect. I just want to be at peace with myself and those I interact with and care about.

I try to do the things that make me happy, and I also make sure I feel happy about the things I do, so I make sure those around me don’t sweat the small stuff, and look at the bigger and nicer picture, as I do.

I’ve found many things which make me feel at peace:

Reading and writing, talking and thinking about reading and writing, meeting other writers and like-minded people, being with my children and grandchildren, going to the cinema, for a walk, or a coffee with my friends, and valuing the routine, wonderful, little things I enjoy as often as posible, such as a walk by the beach, a stroll in the countryside, an interesting conversation, or an occasional glass of wine.

And when I have to do things which are not my choice, I make an effort to enjoy them. I refuse to argue about unimportant things. Fortunately, my job does not involve life and death situations, so very few things are important enough to argue about. I make an effort to see people’s good points, and work at them, overlooking their worse points, and if I really can’t see any good points (I’m still an optimist, so this doesn’t happen often), I make sure I avoid them as much as possible.

I’ve come to believe that if I’m at peace with myself and can transmit that peace to those around me, locally and internationally, by paying in forward and having as my only aim to bring peace to myself and those around me, then the world will be a more peaceful place.

I take part in initiatives such as #Speak1000, which posts on compassion, bullying, etc. and I occasionally cooperate with local volunteer organisations and initiatives, too. I can manage that. Can’t we all?

If we all brought peace to our lives and those around us, world peace might be posible, might it not? So perhaps I do still believe in world peace after all, don’t I?

What gives you peace?

How do you avoid or cope with things or people who take away your peace?



Stream Of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS: ‘jour’

All Our Todays


This post was written in response to this Friday’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday on Linda G. Hill’s Blog: “-jour-“: add a prefix or suffix to complete it or use it as the French word for “day.” Have fun!


Aujourd’hui‘ or ‘What you will’ as long as you do it Today

‘Jour’ is day in French and ‘aujourd’hui’ means today.

I love Today, we should all love Today, because it’s all we have, and yet, it’s enough.

I always tell my students there are only two days in their lives when nothing can be done: yesterday and tomorrow. They are the hopeless days of the year and of your life.

Yesterday is the most hopeless of all, very little can be done yesterday. That doesn’t mean we ignore or forget yesterday, it means we don’t plan to do anything yesterday or lament not having done it, unless we can put it right today.

Remember, yesterday was once today. If you make sure you do the important things Today, you’ll have no regrets about yesterday.

Tomorrow holds the illusion of a possibility, and although I’m all for planning and preparing, if it’s important , do it today, or better still, do it right now, because tomorrow may never come, or we may not do it either.

Stop postponing things you know you aren’t going to do. Learn to say ‘No’. Unclutter your mind of the things you know you won’t be doing, just say ‘No’. It’s liberating. It will give you more time and energy to do the things you really do need to do.

If it’s not worth doing, say ‘No’. if you don’t have time to do it, say ‘No’, you probably won’t have time tomorrow either. Be polite, but firm. Offer excuses and give reasons if it makes you feel better, but say ‘No’ and don’t look back.

On the other hand, if you’re sure it’s worth doing, do it as soon as possible. Don’t let urgent things get in the way of Important things. Your time is limited. If it’s urgent and Important do it at once. If it’s urgent but not Important, make sure it’s done as soon as possible, but not before anything that is Important.

Just in case you’ve forgotten, ‘Important’ is anything related to people, especially friends, family and anyone who needs your help or support, whether you know them personally or not.

Important is also related to things you enjoy and make you feel good, whether it’s praying, or jogging, or writing.

You may not finish doing all the Important things in your life Today, thank goodness! If you did, what would you do on the next Today?

Just make sure all your Todays are full of Important things, and all your yesterdays will bring you good memories.

Of course, I wasn’t the first person to think about Today in this way. All credit for this idea goes to Dalai Lama.

Today Dalai Lama


What’s the most Important thing you’re going to do Today?


Please drop by and read some of the other posts or take part if you like, on Stream Of Consciousness Saturday, just follow the link.

Have a great Saturday!