What I learned This Weekend

Bank Holiday weekend, and usually I’m at home, tapping away at my laptop or, if I really mean business, upstairs in my little office (the boxroom which is so jam-packed with a desk, chair, and three bookcases that I can barely move), frowning at my desktop computer, and wondering why I find it so easy to write a Facebook post but so blooming difficult to write a new paragraph for my WIP.

This weekend, however, was different. I had booked a coach trip for me and my mum, and we headed off to Staffordshire and Shropshire. It was my first ever coach trip and my first ever stay in a hotel, which, at my age, is quite an embarrassing admission. My mother has been on loads of these trips, and has stayed in many hotels, so she was quite confident. Boy, was she ever.

This blog post was going to be about the weekend trip – about our adventures and misadventures, our laughs and our annoyances. But it’s not, for two reasons. One, so many things happened that, as I was coming home, staring out of the coach window and planning the blog post, while my mother gently snored beside me (amazing really, since she later insisted she wasn’t asleep), it occurred to me that this would actually make a great story, and within ten minutes I had two main characters and a plot line sorted, as well as a string of minor characters and funny incidents. So that will be written up and, when I see how long it ends up, I’ll decide what to do with it.

The second thing was that a lovely man suffered a devastating loss this weekend. I had a very intermittent internet signal while I was away, but when I managed to get onto Facebook, I discovered that a friend of mine had tragically – and very suddenly – lost his wife.  Now, I have never met this man in real life, and I never knew his wife, but I feel as if I know them both. He has made me laugh and smile so many times on Facebook, and I’ve read his posts as he’s chuntered away about having to do this and that to make “the wife” happy, understanding quite clearly that he obviously adored her.  So I never knew them personally, but Facebook opens a door to people we never meet in the real world, and lets us share the ups and downs of their lives. The shock and the loss hit me as if they were my neighbours. As if I bumped into them regularly at the supermarket, or chatted to them over the garden fence. It hurt me to think that this man was hurting. I felt his grief. I felt sad for his family, and for the fact that his wife won’t see her grandchildren grow up. And it made me realise that this could happen to any one of us, at any time. You simply don’t know when will be the last time you speak to someone. I felt a desperate need to see my husband and have a cuddle.

So, instead, this post is simply about the things I learned this weekend.

I learned:

Coach interiors don’t always look like the photographs on the website or in the brochure.

Many people have no manners at all – even towards pensioners.

It is a flipping long drop from the bottom step of the coach to the pavement.download

You are never too old to be thoroughly embarrassed by your mother.

Chocolate limes are compulsory on coaches.

People on coach trips who are perfect strangers feel an irresistible urge to share the most intimate details of their lives with each other.

When travelling with a  pensioner, never ever be too far from a  toilet.

Some old buildings are so ancient, it’s a miracle they haven’t fallen down.11951820_847631315354109_1785659299550177950_n

Some cafes are a complete rip-off.

When visiting a market you will buy the most ridiculous tat that you have no need of and will never look at again.

On coach trips you basically do nothing but eat.

Hotel waitresses work damn hard and many people don’t even have the manners to thank them.

Wherever you go, you can guarantee there will be a Card Factory, a Wilkinson’s, a TopShop and a W H Smith.

Motorway service station sandwiches are more expensive than a three course meal in some restaurants.

Burger bars, sandwich shops, furniture outlets and computer stores have taken over the world.

To escape from some shopping centres you need a satellite navigation system, a torch, a map, a compass, and the help of an underground resistance movement.

Some public toilets should be condemned.

As city centres go, Kingston upon Hull’s is pretty damn good.

I really do love my mum.

A weekend away from the husband wasn’t anywhere near as much fun as it sounded. I missed him!

Most importantly, I learned that our loved ones are precious, and you never know when it will be the last time you see them. So make the most of them, tell them you love them, and be grateful for every precious second you have with them.

Even if they do tell random strangers things about you that you wouldn’t tell your best friend.

Have a great week xxx

Just Write!

It’s the weekend. I don’t have to go to work today. I don’t have to go anywhere today, actually. I don’t even have to make the dreaded trip to the supermarket and brave the deranged crowds jostling for toilet rolls (nine rolls for the price of six) and tins of mushy peas (three tins for the price of two – I wonder if there’s a connection between those two items? Hmm…). I don’t, in fact, have to do anything except write. The decks are cleared, DH is going out, the dog has been fed and has water and is lying in quiet contentment, the computer is switched on, Scrivener is open and…And I’m on WordPress writing a new blog post.

I should be working on Book Three. To be fair, I have done some work on it this morning. I’ve written half a scene. I had to, as I’d written half a scene the other day and it needed finishing off. Something tells me, however, that writing half a scene at a time isn’t the way to go. I need to hurry up.

I’ve spent the last week reading, re-reading, and re-reading yet again, Book Two. A Kiss from a Rose is being published on September 26th (plug, plug) and there’s a lot to do to make sure it’s fit to be seen. I’ve had my proof copy and I’ve studied those pages so many times I feel I know the story backwards, forwards, inside out and upside down. I’ve also spent some time – no, I’ve spent a lot of time – organising a Facebook launch party and making Facebook posts publicising both Rose and There Must Be an Angel.

I then turned my thoughts to future books, because that seemed much more interesting than actually working on the one I’m currently drafting. I now have a list of plotlines and titles that I gaze at every now and then and think how much fun it’s going to be to start work on them. I’m sure they’ll be much easier to write than Book Three. Book Three, incidentally, is not a Kearton Bay novel. I started work on the third in that series, but realised it wasn’t working and that I was having serious doubts about it. I decided to take some time off and write something completely different, which is what I’m doing now. Funnily enough, a few weeks into this novel, and I had the most fantastic idea for the third Kearton Bay book. I even came up with a title and a blurb. I can’t wait to get cracking on it, but, of course, I have to finish this unrelated Book Three first. Drat.

I wonder why it’s always the books you’re waiting to start work on that seem much more interesting than the one you’re actually writing? When I was working on the now defunct Kearton Bay Three, this novel seemed to nudge me constantly, demanding my attention. Now I’m halfway through it, I keep thinking I’d love to just start work on the next. It’s very frustrating.

I think the problem is, writing a first draft is soooo much hard work. It takes an awful lot of discipline to sit at your desk and start tapping at that keyboard – especially when it feels as if every word you’re writing is absolute rubbish and you think that each scene is getting worse than the last. My only consolation is that, I absolutely hated Angel when I was writing it, thinking it was complete drivel and would never be finished. With Rose, I thought I would need to make  loads of changes when I finally got to the end of the first draft. I was amazed to finish them both and feel that, actually, they were pretty good, even if I do say so myself. So now I’m telling myself that Book Three will turn out to be the same, and this horrible churning feeling I get when I sit in front of the computer, staring at the screen and wondering how I managed to write such utter garbage, will pass.

In the meantime, I’ve learned how to make mock-up book covers for sheer entertainment value, and have encouraged my creative efforts by designing a whole library of them for every one of my planned future books. I will get them all written!  Now, having got all that off my chest, it’s time to click back on Scrivener and get on with some real work. My heroine is about to learn something worrying about the hero, so I think she’s going to need chocolate. Luckily, I have a bag of Minstrels in the cupboard, just waiting.

Have a great week xx

Remarkable Things by Deirdre Palmer

Gus – much to his astonishment – inherits his aunt’s house. Having been adopted into the family, he is puzzled as to why she would leave it to him, and not to the family of his late brother who was a blood relative of hers. As he searches for answers, he meets Millie.
Millie is also searching for answers. Her daughter, Karen, left home some years ago, and hasn’t been in touch since. She clearly doesn’t want to be found, but Millie has news for her daughter and needs to see her.
Gus and Millie form a deep friendship, but with Gus battling his guilt over his brother’s family, dealing with the fall-out from his clumsy treatment of an ex-girlfriend, and his grief over the fate of his birth mother hanging over him, he’s not sure he’s ready for anything more. Millie, too, has her own emotions to wrestle with. It seems the bitter ending of her marriage, and her own lies – however well-meant – have cost her her daughter.
Millie and Gus need to make sense of the past in order to move on with their lives. Can they heal old hurts and make a brighter future for themselves?
Remarkable Things is a beautifully written novel. Although the story hangs on two major events – the illegitimate birth of Gus and the disappearance of Karen – it’s first and foremost a novel about small things. The everyday details of the characters’ lives are described so vividly, and emotions captured so perfectly, that the reader is drawn in and thoroughly absorbed into their world. In spite of the trauma suffered by both Gus and Millie, this feels like a gentle novel. It’s really quite lovely to read and I am so impressed with the author’s writing style. Superb. 5/5

Buy Remarkable Things here

remarkable things