Friday, September 28, 2012

Am I a wafer thin mint yet?

Well I've been on Slimming World for a week and a half now so I must have virtually disappeared, no? Oh OK, I haven't reached my goal that quickly, but I did lose 4 pounds in my first week so can't be bad going and there is a chance my double chin is fractionally smaller:
Sue, Mandy, Laura and me at the RNA Southern Chapter Meeting
It's either that or I've managed to elongate my neck in the correct way! The meeting was lovely and you can read all about it over on Sue's blog: Love Reading, Love Books.

I do fear this blog may become very Bridget Jones' Diary, you'll have to forgive me if it does in terms of updating you on how much weight I've lost. That's as far as it goes though. Sadly you won't find Hugh Grant and Colin Firth battling over me any time soon.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The worse they can say is NO!

I seem to have lost my confidence this year. When I started this blog and my journey to becoming an author, I did so with great gumption, but slowly that dreadful thing called doubt has crept up on me. There are days when I think my writing is worse now than when I started out. That the more I learn, the less I know. I sometimes think wouldn't it be great to go back to that carefree way of writing when I didn't worry, I just did!

The gumption has become gloopy. It's partly down to personal circumstance. A lot has happened this year and when you have other worries it's hard for writing to become a priority. It's also to do with confidence. That fickle thing that can wane so magnificently when you're a writer, knowing at some point we have to share our work with the rest of the world.

I've already had mixed reports about my manuscript and the ones I'm fixated on are the less positive, despite there being more compliments than criticism. There's something about wanting the MS to be perfect even though it would never be possible to please every reading palate. I haven't got to the point of approaching agents etc. because of my gloopy gumption, which anyone who knows me is a most unlikely attribute for me to have acquired.

Which is why it was nice to be reminded of that the other day when my brother popped over. He wanted an update on what was happening with the book. I told him everything that had happened up to now and when I told him I was reluctant to send it out, he said, 'The worse they can say is NO!'

Ah, yes, he has a point. Don't you hate it when brothers do that? I really hope he doesn't read this or I'll never hear the end of it. When he put it like that it seemed silly to be hesitating. Rejections can't hurt in the same way real life issues can, so why have I found myself crippled into believing I'm not good enough. How will I ever know if I don't go for it? So, even though I still have decorating to do, I have vowed to start getting out there a bit more and start submitting my MS.

Oh, and at some point, I don't know when or where I found it, but I seem to have regained that good old gumption. Let's hope it's here to stay!

Friday, September 21, 2012

#fabfoodfriday Butternut Squash Soup

With my new drive to lose weight, I thought I'd add pictures of the healthy food recipes I create. First up isn't really a recipe, it's more a case of choosing the vegetables I like to make soup.
So into the pan I added:

1 butternut squash, peeled & chopped
1 onion, peeled & chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
Enough water to cover.

Boil, then simmer for about half an hour and voil√°:
Oh, and salt and pepper to taste. It was so yummy I had a bowl and a half! Well, I had to make up for not having the bread somehow!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The rise and fall of the double chin!

It has come to my attention that a double chin has taken up residence on my face again! I have several photos proving its existance and I'm none too happy that it thinks it can visit as and when it pleases.

My face minus the double chin

A more recent picture where the double chin has found its way back
I'm not surprised it thought it had an invite to return. After all its been a year full of incident and comfort eating has been the only way through. So I've done a brave thing and taken said chin to a rehab class. The one known as Slimming World. I think I have the mental energy to tackle the double chin, but will appreciate any encouragement. This time round I think I'll let you know how I'm getting on. Unless it's become a triple chin. In which case I shall remain indoors for ever!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Morning Pages Technique - Writing Up My Weird Dreams!

In the past few days I've heard the same writing technique mentioned by three different writers so I thought I'd give it a go. I first read about it in Simon Whaley's blog post, Morning Pages. It's worth reading the post for a good explanation of what the technique is about. The second time I heard about it was when a reader mentioned it in a comment on my 'Why Writing Should Be Like Sex' post on The Romaniacs blog. Edith mentioned an excellent article she has read about the Morning Pages technique. Then, when I was at the Vintage Tea Party, author Vanessa Greene said it was a technique she used every day before she started writing.

So this morning (13/09), I had my first crack at it. I think the idea is you get rid of the things that are worrying you. You will be much better off looking at Simon's blog for the details of what you should do because my approach was slightly different, mostly because of the crazy, whacky dreams I have most nights. I'm so used to them on the whole I dismiss them. There is the odd occasion when I will wake up and think there's a story in that and I've gone on to write something based on my dreams. They've even gone on to win prizes!

It seems I shouldn't be so readily dismissive of these dreams so as my Morning Pages exercise I'm going to write them down. Here is this mornings example:

I'd had an operation on my finger. The scar was very neat and the finger was still healing and had no dressing on.

Back in my old house and my brother was being chauffeured to his job at great expense. It was £30,000 for a short period. It was a fancy car, no idea what, something like a phantom. When it arrived it could be split into two, so the chaffeur could wheel you from your door. This also worked as a bike so my brother started peddling and fiddling with some very high-tech gears and the chauffeur had to get into the second part of the car and chase him down the road.

In another house, I had to swap rooms for some reason. I was trying to find a cupboard to put my clothes into and every cupboard was full with random stuff (crafting material, baskets.) I then found another corridor like room. It was like a hall way, but in the centre of the house, no daylight and secret access to each room. It was white and each door had black letters telling you which room it led to. There were also cupboards in the corridor and I continued to look for somewhere to store my clothes. In each cupboard there were expensive items of furniture, like a chinese chest, but it had all been painted white.

Those are the three seperate dreams that I recall. They tend to be very cinematic with great detail, but if I ever wake up and explain them to my husband he looks at me like I've lost the plot! I can quite understand why. They are sometimes really hard to explain - a bit like the car splitting into two. In my dream I could see the mechanics of it so it makes perfect sense, but my explanation of it - not so much.

These dreams are all ones that I would dismiss. But I can already see there is potential for stories even if they are slightly removed from my normal genres. If I hadn't written them down this morning, I would have forgotten about these dreams within a few days, maybe even a few hours.

It'll be interesting to see if this technique works for me, even if it's not quite how it's meant to be used. There seems to be a lot of odd clutter in my brain.

Catherine x

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Vintage Tea Party

Has anything ever sounded more delightful than a Vintage Tea Party? Well, no, I don't think so and at my age, I really should have been to more of them.

I was lucky enough to win a place to go to a Vintage Tea Party from Little, Brown book group with author of The Vintage Teacup Club, Vanessa Greene. It involved all the essentials: tea, cake, fizz and a book club style chat with Vanessa.

All the guests received an early copy of The Vintage Teacup Club and I devoured that in the same way you should a plate of cake. The book is about three woman: Jenny, Ali and Maggie who form a friendship when they discover they all have a need for vintage cups. Each reason is different and they agree to work together to get the number they need. They each have different stories and it was great to read a story involving more than one generation.

During the evening, Vanessa did some readings and we got to discuss which of the characters we most identified with, what parts we enjoyed and we were able to ask Vanessa all about her writing journey everything from where she got the idea from to how much cake she ate in the process!

It was a lovely evening and I will go into more detail on The Romaniacs blog and at some point Vanessa will join us on there for a Tuesday Chit-Chat.

Now to attend to my diary. I really do need to schedule more tea parties into my life.

Catherine x

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Inspiring Paralympics

On Wednesday I was lucky enough to head to The Paralympics to watch the evening athletics. I've been absolutely glued to the events aired on the TV and was really looking forward to being there.
I've heard lots of people say what an experience it is to be there and I can vouch that's absolutely true. It was rather like arriving at a theme park only without the sad faces waiting in long queues. As soon as we arrived in Victoria there were volunteers ready with directions and pink signage all the way to the Olympic stadium. The Olympic spirit really did come for the games makers.

Once inside, it was great to watch the events. There was so much going on it was hard to know where to look. We were lucky enough to see Team GB get a silver and a bronze, but there other great highlights. I thought I'd share the bit I will remember and may not have made the headlines quite as much as some other events.
Getting ready for the T11 100m final
My favourite moment was the T11 100m final. It was very apparent that the runners had a great relationship with their guides.
Get Set


The race was fantastic with the Brazilians getting Gold, Silver & Bronze, but what really put a smile on my face was the medal ceremony. Each medalist had there own unique way of taking to their podium with their guide. The Bronze and Silver Medalists were carried by their guide whilst the gold medalist danced up with her guide...

What really got me though was seeing their emotion as there national anthem played. It was hard not to be moved by the moment... I nearly joined Terezinha Guilhermina in shedding a tear.
It truely was a great celebration and I'm so glad I got to go. Not only to see the athletics, but also to see the amount of regeneration that has gone into Stratford, the area I lived in when I studied my degree. It's unrecognisable from the way it was a decade ago and I really hope the facilities there continue to be used in the ínspire a generation ethos. Looking forward to Rio already!

Monday, September 3, 2012

September Sort Out!

The last few months have passed me by far too quickly! So in the month of September I plan to be efficient in sorting out what I should have been doing for the past three months! Firstly, I apologise as they are not all writing related but the decorating spree must continue! Room One is complete, but there's so much more to do!

Anyway, I thought I would declare early on what my plans are in the hope of getting them done and reporting on them as I go!

1) Redecorate the back bedroom
  • Now our lodger has vacated it's time to freshen the room up and do some much needed redecorating. The photos don't show up the leftover marks/scuffs/stains! The stuff in there is from our lounge makeover so we'll be clearing that and making a start this month. Hopefully finishing as well but we need to remove the ceiling tiles and get it replastered so will take longer than the lounge.

2) Lose some weight
  • I have to confess I'm a comfort eater and my diet has gone to pot! This is the first time in a while when I've felt ready to take charge again. So it would be really good to have lost some weight by the end of the month.
3) Continue with Take 10 challenge
  • I've completed 3 new pieces of writing in my Take 10 challenge. I planned to do more by now, but the lounge and illness have got in the way. So if I'm more careful with my time I hope to get nearer to the finish of this.
4) Tend to the garden
  • We've done a lot of work in the garden this year. Now we're saving any more landscaping for next year to concentrate on the house. But there's still the upkeep to continue with. Here's our first tomato that I picked last week...

5) Get out the house
  • I'm off to the Paralympics with my husband & I've won a place at a Vintage Tea Party reader group hosted by Little, Brown. There's also a Southern Chapter Meeting to attend this month!
Looking at the list it'll be a miracle if it all gets done... I best get on with it!

Catherine x