Welcome to the World, Leo – WIPpet Special

Leo instigram close upIt’s been more than four months since I last wrote a post for this blog. It seems like a lifetime ago because on the 27th February Nik and I welcomed our beautiful baby boy, Leonidas (Leo for short), into the world. If someone had told me this time last year that in less than twelve months we’d have our long-awaited baby I wouldn’t have believed them. But miracles do happen and our little miracle is having a cuddle with me at the moment.

Leo will be 16 weeks-old tomorrow and the time seems to have flown by. The last four months have been hard work but absolutely magical at the same time. I lost count (by about day two) of how many dirty nappies I’ve changed and I spend most of my time feeding him, but it’s an absolute joy after wanting to be able to do these things for so long. What’s even more exciting is how interactive he now is and how interested he is in us and the world around him. And as for those smiles… just lush.

Car seat smiles instigram

So, my blog has been abandoned for quite a while and I won’t be posting regularly for the foreseeable future (although hopefully I will manage to do occasional posts including another one this week after being invited to take part in Debbie Young’s The Writing Retreat Blog Hop). Instead I want to spend what time I have available (usually when feeding Leo) to continue writing book two of The Time-Shift Trilogy. Which, as today happens to be Wednesday, brings me neatly on to today’s WIPet – admittedly a short extract but it is new stuff from the middle of book two. My WIPpet maths is simple: 1+8 = 9 sentences for the 18th June. This snippet sees Maisie in 1940s London contemplating time-shifting and the adventure she’s had so far.

The four of us fell silent. I scratched the groves of the wooden table with my fingernail. This time-shifting was getting way too complicated. As soon as we’d found one person, someone else would go missing. Wherever we’d been since time-shifting from Danny’s room we’d managed to put other people in danger and it was all my fault. We’d been chased in ancient Rome, nearly caught by Hunters in 1481 and attacked in Roman Chedworth. My heart skipped a beat. “We’re not even safe here. I mean, if Hunters managed to track me and Danny down in Rome and in 1481 Towcester, then they’re going to find us here too.”

By the way it’s good to be back and joining in with WIPpet Wednesday again. I’ve missed you guys. A big thanks as always to K L Schwengel for hosting. If you fancy reading or joining in with the WIPpeteers then click here.

I’ll get round to reading everyone’s WIPpet posts at some point today but that’ll have to be in-between Leo and I heading off to Bristol Zoo on this beautiful sunny morning for a picnic with a couple of friends and their babies. Have a great day everyone!

 

 

 

Blogger Award and My Last WIPpet Wednesday (for a While)

sisterhood-of-world-blogger-awardIt’s true, this is going to be my last WIPpet Wednesday, in fact my last blog post for a while. How long a while is all depends on when our baby decides to arrive and when I’m next awake enough/have any time (you get the idea) to even think about blogging. Apart from taking the time to relax over these next couple of weeks I also want to concentrate on writing A Long Way From Home while I have the chance. It has stalled at around a third of the way in and I’d like to get a good chunk written before our baby arrives. A little scare over the weekend when I was admitted to hospital for 24 hours to be monitored made me realise how soon our little baby could actually make an appearance. All is fine and baby’s heart was monitored and he/she was moving around like a crazy thing so I was discharged on Monday. Feet up, laptop and writing – that’s my plan.

I’ve also been meaning to do a post about a blogger award I received way back in November from my friend and fellow author, Jade Reyner, who’s not only a prolific blogger but about to launch her second novel in the coming weeks. She nominated me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! and so I thought it was about time that I officially thanked her and passed the award on. As blogger awards go this is a simple one:

Rules:

  1. Provide a link and thank the blogger who nominated you for this award.
  2. Answer 10 questions.
  3. Nominate 10-12 blogs that you find a joy to read.
  4. Provide links to these nominated blogs and kindly let the recipients know that they have been nominated.
  5. Include the award logo within your blog post.

Questions:

  1. Your favourite colour? – Blue
  2. Your favourite animal? – Dog, specifically our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
  3. Your favourite non-alcoholic drink? – Rhubarb & Custard drink from M&S that tastes just like the sweets I had when I was a kid.
  4. Facebook or Twitter? – Twitter, although I’m getting in to Facebook more now.
  5. Your favourite pattern? – Stripes
  6. Do you prefer getting or giving presents? – Giving, particularly when you know you’ve got something that person will really love.
  7. Your favourite number? – 2 and 7
  8. Your favourite day of the week? – Sunday
  9. Your favourite flower? – Colourful, sweet smelling ones!
  10. What is your passion? – Writing stories of course.

There’s absolutely no pressure to take part but I’d like to pass the award on to all my fellow WIPpeteers as I love reading your novel extracts each week and receiving your comments on mine. You’re a great and supportive bunch, so thank you.

Now, for my WIPpet. What to give you today… hum, it’s really getting tricky now without having written any new stuff recently. I think, because it’s my last WIPpet for a while, I will give you five paragraphs for the 5th February 2014 from the last chapter I’ve written, which just so happens to be chapter 14. For those of you who didn’t beta read book one this extract will probably be quite confusing. All I will say is by this point in the book Lizzie has been found and she’s with Maisie in a house in 1940s London with a future version of Danny. Oh, and to be really mean I’ve cut the last paragraph short because it gives away a huge plot spoiler.

“What are we not going to like?” I asked.

“My suggestion of what I think you should do.” Future Danny looked directly at me.

I pointed to the top of my chest. “What I should do?”

“Why Maisie?” Lizzie asked, folding her arms and huffing.

“Because,” future Danny said. “Maisie is the only one of us that can time-shift to…”

Make of that what you will! We’re a very welcoming bunch headed up by the fabulous KL Schwengel, so if you fancy joining in with WIPpet Wednesday simply choose an extract from your WIP that corresponds with the date (creativity is encouraged) and add your link here over on My Random Muse. Take the time to read the other WIPpet offerings too – we’re a diverse bunch.

I don’t know when I’ll be blogging again, but I will be back, that’s a promise. Until then happy writing and reading everyone!

The Rather Fabulous TaDa Award!

ta-daIt’s the beginning of award season with the Bafta nominations recently being announced and the Oscars just around the corner. In the blogging world the talented ReGi McClain decided to kick off 2014 with the TaDa Award and I was one of the lucky recipients.

ReGi is a writer of fantasy and has recently been posting chronological snippets of her latest work in progress Queen of Bears on Wednesdays over on her fabulous blog, ReGi McClain’s Fortnight Stories. It’s well worth checking out. ReGi has also posted her own answers to the TaDa Award which you can read here.

So without further ado here are my answers to ReGi’s questions:

1. What was the best experience you had on purpose last year?

Finding out at our 12-week scan that I had a wriggly little baby on board with a good strong heart-beat.

2. What was the best experience you stumbled into last year?

Teaching at Bath Spa University (where I did my Creative Writing MA). I’d never taught before and it was completely unexpected. Emma Hooper, who I knew from the MA, had been teaching the course but ended up moving to the music department and so they needed someone to replace her in the middle of the year and she suggested me. I happened to know and had worked with the course leader previously and so thought I’d be in with a chance of getting an interview but was simply offered the job over the phone. Cue a huge amount of nerves – I can’t tell you how ridiculously nervous I was before the first class – but it was too good an experience to turn down (see question eight).

3. What was your greatest intentional accomplishment last year?

Finally publishing my novel, The Butterfly Storm. It had taken nine-years from first starting to write it to launching the book on the 12th June and I couldn’t be happier with how things have gone and how the book on the whole has been received over the past seven months.

4. What was your greatest unplanned accomplishment last year?

My greatest unplanned accomplishment was finding out I was pregnant. Although this was something we’d most definitely planned, these things don’t always happen when you want them to, and so became hope rather than a plan. For us it’s been a very long and difficult journey to reach this point. We decided in 2008 that we wanted a family and so started trying in 2009 only to be referred for fertility treatment two years later when we’d had no success. By May last year we had three failed cycles and one early miscarriage behind us and to be perfectly honest I knew the chances of cycle number four being a success were slim. But against all odds the pregnancy test on the 18th June was positive and that wriggly little thing that we saw at the 12-week scan is now a kicky and ever-growing baby who’s due in less than six-weeks time.

5. Did you spend time with someone you adore last year?

Yes, my lovely husband Nik.

6. Were you nice to someone you don’t like last year?

To be honest I can’t think of anyone I know that I don’t like.

7. What was the most amazing thing you learned last year?

That self-publishing is a viable and very satisfying option to being published traditionally. That first 5-star review for The Butterfly Storm from someone I didn’t know was truly amazing.

8. Who did you teach last year and what (G-rated thing) did you teach them?

Between January and May I taught the Lifewriting course at Bath Spa University to Creative Writing undergraduates. It was my first experience of teaching and it was both terrifying and exciting. There was a group of 20 or so students ranging from the age of 19 up to someone in their 50s and apart from a varied reading list the classes focused on teaching interview techniques, doing creative writing and work shopping each other’s work. Oh, and marking 40+ creative writing papers.

9. What events did you attend last year?

In March I went with my Mum to see author Hilary Mantel give a talk during the Bath Literature Festival and I also attended a fantastic day-long workshop called New to Teaching Creative Writing. In June I went to local author Lucienne Boyce’s book launch and then later in the summer, along with Elaine Jeremiah we headed to Bath for a talk about self-publishing. At the beginning of August there was a surprise 80th birthday party for my Great Aunt and finally in December a Christmas meal with work colleagues.

10. Did you travel anywhere? Even just downtown?  

There was no travel abroad this year but Nik and I did eventually get away to Norfolk for a few days (after the nightmare of our car breaking down), and we also visited my brother, his girlfriend and our little nephew at their beautiful home in Wales, once in the summer and the second time at the beginning of December.

*       *      *

I won’t nominate anyone in particular but I will instead pass on the TaDa Award to anyone who follows my blog and fancies writing about their year in review – or simply let me know what you got up to in 2013 in the comments below.

A Very Merry Christmas WIPpet Wednesday

Christmas FrodoMerry Christmas everyone! I’ve cheated this week by actually writing this post in advance because right now I’m cooking our Christmas dinner and singing along to festive songs. It’s just Nik and I this year (plus Frodo and ‘bump’ of course) and it will be our first Christmas on our own (we usually go to my Mum and Dad’s). We’ll sit down and eat about 1pm before opening our presents and then spending the rest of the day all cosy in the living room with the wood burner going, roasting chestnuts, playing board games and watching Christmas TV.

Everyone keeps telling me to make the most of one last quiet Christmas because next year will be frantic with a baby. But that’s what I’m really looking forward to, as in my mind that’s what Christmas is all about – family. I remember Christmas being such a special time when I was growing up, with my Mum, Dad, brother and I always spending the holidays with my Grandparents and uncle on their farm in Norfolk. To be able to replicate those happy times with our own son or daughter will be simply magical – however hectic it may be.

Maisie and Danny in today’s extract definitely aren’t having quite such a magical time in ancient Rome. This scene from page 25 for the 25th December takes place a little bit before this one that I posted a couple of weeks ago. Maisie and Danny have just been chased through the streets of Rome by two men and have found somewhere they hope will be safe.

The double doors were made from a rich-coloured wood and had carvings all over them. I looked closer at images of hooded riders on horseback, of battles, and characters eating from plates piled high with food. In the centre, and crossing both doors, three letters were carved into the wood:

D M L

“Danny, Maisie, Lizzie,” I said. “This is definitely the place.”

“Get the key Maisie – they can’t be far behind.”

I tipped the key into my hand from the locket round my neck. I searched the door. “Danny. There’s nowhere for a key to go. There’s no lock.”

“There’s got to be.”

“I promise you there isn’t.”

He had his back to me and was looking along the street the way we’d come. “We need to get inside, like now.”

The fabulous K L Schwengel hosts WIPpet Wednesday over on her blog, My Random Muse, so do pop over and say hello, have a read of the other diverse WIPpets or even post your own extract here.

I will get round to reading all the other WIPpets but with all this eating, drinking (non-alcoholic of course) and being merry to do, it might take me until the end of the week. In the meantime, have a very happy Christmas all my fellow WIPpeteers and blog readers and I’ll see you back here on the 1st January 2014!

Exciting Non-Writing Related News to Announce!

SleepsuitsMany of you who follow my blog already know my happy news but I thought I would officially announce that Nik and I are expecting a baby in February! It’s taken just over four years to get to this point and there’s been a lot of disappointment and heartache along the way but at last we can look forward to the future and the arrival of a little son or daughter in four months time! We had the 20 week anomaly scan yesterday which showed one very lively baby who just wouldn’t stay still for the lady doing the scan. Everything looked normal – heart, lungs, brain and spine plus all arms, legs, fingers and toes were accounted for. To say we were relieved is an understatement. Now all we need to do is get cracking finishing decorating our bedroom, turning our spare room into a nursery and generally sorting the house out. Oh, and buying stuff of course. We’d resisted buying anything as we wanted to make sure everything was okay first but yesterday I bought three very cute sleepsuits (see the photo).

I say the news is not writing related but in many ways it is. I now have a very real deadline to get things done, not least of which is to finish Time Shifters in preparation for publishing it in January (there will be no hope if I leave it until after the baby’s born). To launch Time Shifters will be a massive achievement, particularly as that will mean I’ll have published two novels in less than a year. Not bad going (and about time) considering I started writing The Butterfly Storm in 2004 and Time Shifters in 2008.

On top of that I have grand plans to start not one but two new novels. I’ve already made a start on Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home and plan to take part in NaNoWriMo next month to see just how much I can get written. I also want to get stuck into a new contemporary women’s fiction novel, The House of Stone. I’ve got a rough synopsis and just need to start putting words down. As for what happens writing-wise once our little one makes an appearance, who knows, (but I imagine not a lot for a fair few months!) so I want to get as much done as possible before then.

For a year that didn’t start off well 2013 has turned out to be incredible in more ways than one, and as for 2014, well that promises to be even more exciting.