Monday, 9 December 2013

Rest in Peace, Madiba

Such a sad time for all of us.   We knew it was coming – after all he was ninety five, a good innings by any standards, and he above all people had had a hard life, a hard physical life, not to mention the emotional and mental strain he must have been under, all those years of incarceration and separation from his family.  What would that do to any man?  But this was not just any man, this was Nelson Mandela, known affectionately to all South Africans as Madiba, his clan name.   And as Tata to many, a term of respect for an older person, a term of veneration, what you would call your grandfather.

But he was larger than life, it just seemed to all of us he would go on forever.   So the end when it came was a shock, bringing an intense feeling of disbelief and horror, that this man, who had steered our country, against all expectations, through a peaceful transmission to democracy was there no more.  I remember it so clearly, the first free elections, when we stood in the rain for hours waiting to vote, but the atmosphere was so upbeat, so optimistic, it was an experience to cherish, to file away with other important , never to be forgotten, life experiences.   I remember his inauguration, when there was so much talk of chaos in the country, when people, people we knew were hoarding baked beans and candles, in case of food shortages and power failures.  I bought some beautiful candles and a bottle of our local sparkling wine – I cut out a picture of our new flag from the newspaper (such flags were not readily available at that stage) and we watched the inauguration, lit our candles and raised the little paper flag and also raised our glasses to this remarkable man who had defeated all the naysayers and achieved what most of the world would have considered impossible.
I didn’t have the privilege of meeting him, to speak to.  But I did shake his hand, twice.  It was just before the 1994 elections – he came to my daughter’s school (which had been my school many years before) – she was part of the choir which sang for him.  I was in the crowd,  a large crowd outside the school, waiting for a glimpse of the great man.  The choir sang and he listened to them and watched them, in fact everyone was focused on the choir, except a select few men, who were facing the other way and keenly scanning the crowds – his bodyguards.  It hadn’t occurred to me but they must have been very necessary – there were many in the former South Africa who felt very threatened by what was to come.   Then, after the singing, he graciously went round shaking hands with the crowd.    I wriggled to the front and by dint of extending my hands in two different directions, managed to shake hands with him twice. I can still feel the rough skin, the workman’s hands, from this high born man, this royal son, this amazingly eloquent lawyer, who was forced to do manual labour in a lime quarry, work which not only hardened his hands to those of a manual labourer, but which damaged his eyesight from the glare and led to the future lung problems to which he ultimately succumbed.   Shaking his hand was one of the highlights of my life, right up there with being present on the Grand Parade in Cape Town, when Archbishop Desmond Tutu (another of my heroes) presented him to the nation as our president elect.   It was also my first experience of a praise singer, an extraordinary African tradition.  
I can’t believe he’s gone – the reactions around the world show how much he was valued.   We like to think he was ours but he was too great to belong only to South Africa, or indeed Africa.  It is not often that someone’s life enriches so many the world over, but this is such a life.  I feel honoured and humbled to have been so close to greatness.  Long may his legacy live.  Rest in peace, Madiba, we owe you so much.

Friday, 22 November 2013


It’s not a block
It’s more like a drought
It’s as though I’m on the wrong side of a glass wall, a frosted glass wall
I can see shapes but no detail 

Perhaps I’m done, a small voice cries –  a disloyal, mean small voice – I pay it no heed
Then another voice says ‘Try something new’, and ‘Start over’
That one I take seriously.   Another genre, perhaps even under a new name
The idea excites me, intellectually, but still the drought

Then I think of the brain fog I got last month after the antibiotic
Perhaps, though I’m not even aware of it, it’s still there, frosting up my window on my world, on my imagination
Perhaps I should just forget about writing, enjoy the glorious early summer days, walk on the beach with the dogs
I should feel grateful to be alive and well, living in such a beautiful corner of the world
When the time is right the glass will clear
I have to believe that

Monday, 28 October 2013

Nothing to write

I can’t write.  I literally can’t write anything; I can’t think of anything to write.  When I think about the books I have written so far I realise they have one thing in common – in each and every case I had a story that was screaming ‘Write me! Write me!’   Such a persistent scream that I had no option but to sit down and write it.  Which probably explains why I have generally finished the first draft in four to six weeks – it’s hard not to when there is an irritatingly persistent voice screaming in one’s ear.  

Now there is nothing and I feel rather flat.  Oh, I have odd ideas, (in fact some are very odd ideas – which reminds me of a Hager the Horrible cartoon I saw years ago – Hager says ‘Helga and I have been married thirty odd years’ to which she responds ‘Thirty very odd years!’ – I tried to find a copy as a card for my husband when we had our thirtieth anniversary but had no luck), but nothing clear cut.   My daughters tell me I should write murder mysteries, complicated murder mysteries (they think I have a devious mind – perhaps they are right), and though I have had some ideas along those lines, there is nothing that quite makes a story.    They say (the ubiquitous they, who know everything) that everyone’s got a book inside them.  Perhaps seven was what I had in me, perhaps I shouldn’t be greedy.  I should just enjoy the newly arrived summer here in Cape Town.   Then, like not looking for romance, I can be pleasantly surprised when the next story just arrives unbidden.   If it does, or when it does, that remains to be seen. 

Till next time J

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Birth Announcement

My latest novel, On the Ninth Day, is now available on Amazon.  No 7 in the Southhill Sagas, though each story stands alone.  I had fun writing this one – actually I have fun writing all of them – I tell myself I’ll stop writing when I stop having fun but it hasn’t got there yet.  I have no idea of what, if anything I’ll write next.  I have several partly written stories but nothing I am desperate to finish, nothing that really makes a novel  – sometimes an idea just turns into a longish short story, maybe I’ll combine them one day.

Perhaps I won’t write any more – that’s what I say at the end of each one, but somehow or other another idea just pops into my head and before I know where I am I am banging away on the keyboard.   Take my third one, But a Dream – I had written two stories and wasn’t planning another and I woke up one Saturday morning with the idea, the almost completely formed idea for But a Dream, even the title, which felt quite appropriate considering where the idea came from.   That’s how I write – I always have to have a title, a basic storyline, a beginning and an ending and the characters, all firmly in my head before I start writing.  The actual story from A to B just develops from the characters – I give them free rein and they tell their tale – that’s why I find it so much fun, it’s a little like watching a movie for me, I’m never quite sure where it’s going or rather I know the ending but not the route.  
On the Ninth Day is fiction but one of the characters is definitely not made up – Smudge is or was, a real cat, a completely crazy but very beautiful and affectionate cat.   Is there an element of the paranormal in this story?  You decide.

Till next time J

Monday, 9 September 2013

I’m Back!

I had a great holiday in August – we went to Edinburgh (my first visit to Scotland) to see the Military Tattoo, an amazing spectacle which I can highly recommend.  Honestly, the televised version comes nowhere close.  My sister felt that the lone piper at the end was better on TV but I have to disagree.  The zoom of the TV lens loses the poignancy of the one lone piper on the castle wall in the distance.  Anyway, a wonderful experience.  I loved Edinburgh – such a beautiful city and so vibrant!  The Edinburgh festival was just starting, also the international book fair so the streets were really jumping.   We were lucky with the weather too, though the locals have a very different idea of fine weather.  When we were reaching for an additional jumper and pulling on a rain jacket they were all saying how lucky it was the weather was so fine.   But it wasn’t really cold – days about the same midsummer as our Cape Town winter I suppose, though there were some warmer days.  We stayed in a cottage, formerly a cow shed, a few miles out of the city, next to a very beautiful reservoir.  One of the highlights for me was that we picked delicious small wild raspberries, growing wild near our cottage – much nicer flavor than their larger cultivated cousins.   I love foraging – I am definitely a gatherer rather than a hunter.  I have just received my copy of Sergei Boutenko’s new book Wild Edibles and the DVD, which I am really looking forward to starting.
Then after just over a week we flew to Bristol to see our daughter and son-in-law, which was just lovely.  It had been a full eighteen months since we had seen them so a very happy reunion.  We were also able to see our grand-dog and meet our two new-grand cats.  They gave us a wonderful time, highlights of which were the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta,  a truly mind boggling spectacle, and the other was whole day trip on a narrowboat down the river Avon to Bath which was very interesting and also just lovely, so relaxing and good for the soul.  I love boats – our year spent on a canal boat in France is still such a fond memory.

All too soon it was time to come home – though not too soon for our cat, who thought we had abandoned her in a cattery forever and who didn’t leave our sides for the first week after our return.  Our dogs were pleased to see us, but had been having a lovely holiday on a wine farm with our friends, so they were feeling anything but abandoned.

Since getting back I haven’t actually written a word – sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever write again, then a new story just hops on board and I find myself devoting eight to ten hours a day till I have got it down.  Are all writers so obsessive?  Or is it just me?  Who knows?  I haven’t even finished tweaking my latest one, On the Ninth Day the Cat was Sick.  Partly because my friend and fellow writer Deborah Goemans, (  very kindly assessed part of one of my novels and as a professional editor told me all sorts of things I didn’t know, such as the rules for indentations, and spacing and dashes.  So now I have to go through this book and make all these changes, when I do the tweaking and the rewriting.  (Not to mention my previous six books!)  I am most grateful to Debbie but this means lots of work and I am very good at avoiding work!  The trouble is I don’t have a deadline – and I am one of those people who can only work with a deadline, even a self imposed one.  So I should probably set myself a date, like the first of November for this book to be up-and-running.  Yes that’s what I’ll do – you saw it first here.  Look for my new book on Amazon on Friday 1st November!

Till next time J

Friday, 19 July 2013

First draft written, work starts now

Well, I have finished my first draft, but it needs lots of work and some fleshing out.  This is not how I usually write but the story line this time was quite complicated, with three parallel stories so I was anxious to get to the end.  But it's not long enough and some of the chapters need expanding.  You know the sort of thing - they always say 'show don't tell'.  
This is quite hard work, and not nearly as much fun as the main story writing, so I plan to do it fairly slowly and will in any case be taking a break for most of August when we are in Edinburgh and then Bristol, visiting our family.
We saw a brilliant play last night, Solomon and Marion with Dame Janet Suzman, and Khayalethu Anthony.  It finishes its run in Cape Town this week, then like us goes to Edinburgh where it can be seen in the fringe.  Not sure what we will see in Edinburgh - we are joining my sister and brother-in-law and will be going to the tattoo, which should be amazing.  I have never been to Scotland, in spite of living in England for twelve years, but Colin spent part of his childhood in Aberdeen where his mother hailed from.  So I am quite excited! 
Then we go to Bristol to visit our daughter and son-in-law.  She is a veterinary student, a mature student who entered the field after years of being a dancer.  She's just going into her 4th year now, so in two years time she'll be a qualified vet.  
The heat wave in England continues so we are watching the weather carefully before deciding what to pack.  I had thought we would take our normal winter clothes, as Cape Town winter has in recent years been on a par with English summers but if this carries on I'll have to think again.
Right now it's cold and rainy in Cape Town with a maximum of 18 degrees C today, so not warm but not cold by northern hemisphere standards - equates to 64 degrees F, but quite cold enough for us, thank you. 

I am now wabbing - wab is a wonderful word which our daughter, the one in Singapore and her friends coined - wab is an acronym for work avoidance behaviour.   Back to my draft!

Till next time :)

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Hurt my ankle but now having fun!

    We live in a very small townhouse in a suburb of Cape Town.  Really little with two small bedrooms, one bathroom and a downstairs loo.  Plus a pocket handkerchief size garden.  Last September when we sold a flat we had in England I had this bright idea of putting in a tiny splash pool in our little sun trap of a garden.  It worked fantastically, despite the mess involved in the process.
    Now we have two tiny poodles and a small cat, all about the same size as each other, who play together with great gusto.  Two weeks ago, the night before my birthday, they were in fine form, the dogs chasing the cat and vice versa.  Then after some time, Colin, my husband, pointed to the cat who was sopping wet!  Obviously in all the excitement of the game she had landed in the pool! 
   A while later I went upstairs (after we had dried the cat off and she had joined the dogs to resume the game)  to fetch something, completely unaware that Miss Molly, our cat, had been upstairs. Nor realising that she had spilt water on the tiles upstairs I came a cropper in our doorway - one leg out in front, the other bent under me with the weight of my body on it.  Bad news - the first time in my life I have turned my ankle. I yelled for Colin who came and helped me down the stairs.
   He obligingly went to the chemist and bought me a crepe bandage which he applied, and some anti inflammatory tablets that I refused to take when I saw all the possible side effects.
  Next morning my ankle was swollen and painful, however a hot bath seemed to help, so I looked up various hot treatments, for ankles.  The one I liked is this one   I followed his advice and my ankle felt amazingly improved.   However ankles, as I am learning to my cost, can't be hurried.  Six days later I went to my aqua aerobics class which I love - I was very careful not to do anything which hurt.  Unfortunately the warm water lulled me into a sense of false security - it was great in the water but really quite sore afterwards.

  So I have cancelled my aqua, and my kundalini yoga, both of which I love, and am doing gentle ankle stretches in warm water as well as a few short walks with the dogs.  Meanwhile I am resting my foot  on a pillow while typing on my laptop sitting on my bed.  
   However there's a silver lining to every dark cloud and I find that I am getting on well with my book - it's fun to write  - I now have three interweaving stories.   I am now on track to finish the first draft before we leave for Scotland on 1st August.

Till next time  :)

Thursday, 20 June 2013

No Discipline! When Temptation came I gave right in!

To quote from With a Little Bit o Luck (My Fair Lady, as if you didn't know that), 'when temptation comes you'll give right in'. 

There I was, writing my book (the one I put on the back burner when I started A Season, and A Time), slowly and steadily, but making general progress when I got a new idea.   So like Albert Dolittle in My Fair Lady I gave right in.  A Fairy Tale (for grownups) is once again on the back burner. 

My current book, which I am really enjoying writing, is called On the Ninth Day the Cat Was Sick.  (As I have explained previously for some reason I can only write a story if I have a title, so I always start with the title.)   This time it's not a baby boomer book.  It is women's fiction meets possible paranormal.   Maybe, maybe not - it's for the reader to decide.  It's a story of a woman, a single mother with two little girls, who has had her share of bad luck in her life.  When suddenly things turn around she can't really believe that it's just coincidence.  Her family and friends disagree strongly. 

The story also features a cat, Smudge, who is named for and is a faithful description of our beloved, but completely crazy cat of the same name, who we sadly lost a couple of years ago.  I'm also dedicating the book to her.  If people can leave their fortune to a cat, there's no reason why I can't dedicate a book to one. 

We are going on holiday in August so I either need to finish the first draft by then or let it join Fairy Tale on the back burner - I know which I would prefer!   I'm quite glad my regular bridge partner is off on a cruise - I have no time to spare!

Till next time :)

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Six down! Working on number seven

My new book, A Season, and A Time, is now up and running.     It is another baby boomer novel, of a year in the life of a sixty year old woman.   No six of the Southhill Sagas, all set in Surrey, where I lived for many years. Each book stands alone though characters do reappear.
This means I am on target for my goal of two books completed a year.  I started writing novels in August 2010 (I had written lots of things before then but never a novel), so with number six in the bag, I am in fact slightly ahead of target.  You might imagine I could have a rest from writing for a couple of weeks but it doesn’t work like that.  The instant Season was off my hands I hauled out the previous one, the one I had put on the back burner when Season came along, and got going.   It really isn’t that I want to put pressure on myself – I just feel the need to keep writing. 
I may have mentioned reading what I am sure is an apocryphal story about the late Graham Greene – to the effect that he wrote 500 words a day, then stopped, even if in the middle of a sentence.   It seems unlikely – he would quite likely have been writing by hand, and would have had to manually count the number of words.   But as a discipline it would be quite extraordinary.    
But, truth to tell, I am writing because I enjoy it.  And I never think of it as a book, but as a story.   When I write it is because I have a story to tell.   I don’t like the marketing side one little bit – I hate having to try to sell things, my writings least of all.  In fact I think it is comparatively unusual for people to enjoy both the creative side and the marketing side.  But with self published eBooks the author has little choice.   So I do try to promote my kindle free days on whichever sites will take them, and  to get my books onto various websites.  it is a slow and tedious process and after that I need a break. 
So I get back to my characters, to see what they have been up to in my absence and where they want us to travel to today.   Much more fun!
Till next time J

Friday, 7 June 2013

Onwards and upwards!

So, I have gone through my story, three (!) times and hopefully picked up all the errors.  One blatant one was where I referred to the main character, Rhona White, as Rhona Black - what was that? some sort of mental aberration? Perhaps subconsciously related to being brought up in South Africa, where we are all colour blind these days.  

Now I wait while the book goes through the review process.   I remember so clearly, when I had finished my first book, that I was desperate to keep writing - life felt so flat without a story to tell. Now at least I have a story to go back to, one that was put on the back burner while I wrote A Season, and A Time.  

It's quite strange -  I would never have realised before I started writing but writing is actually a powerful aphrodisiac  - seeing one's thoughts and feelings appear in print is like no other feeling. 

So now, whether or not anyone wants to read what I am writing, I will carry on.  It's fun and just possibly that's what it's all about! 

Till next time :)

Sunday, 2 June 2013


I have finished the first draft  of my book, A Season, and A Time, so am somewhere between shattered and elated.  When I feel I am in the home stretch I tend to pull out all the stops so I have been writing over 3000 words a day for the last ten days or so.   Which leaves me feeling a little drained.  I have no idea why I put so much pressure on myself but I can't help it - the story just builds up the momentum and like a snowball carries me along with it. 

When I started this book, in March, I had no idea of the turns it would take.  I started as usual with a basic story line and the characters (I spend ages pondering about my characters - I can't write in their voice till I feel I know them intimately), as well as the ending, which in this case was a true story from my own experience, and the title.  Not for me something called a working title.  If I don't have a title I can't tell a story.  Yes, I know I'm a bit strange - I wouldn't be a writer if I weren't!

Then after I start I just let it happen, and often my characters surprise me - they often impress me too.  Not really surprising as all my books seem to feature a strong woman as the main character, or at least one of the main characters.

Of course now the hard work starts - I need to read the whole story, out loud, pretty much at a sitting, for consistency and continuity and at the same time proof read, for those inevitable typos that slip in.  If  someone could come up with a spellcheck which can differentiate between from and form they would make a fortune!  I have found that for me the best way of proof reading is to make the font large, so that any typos literally jump out. 

The joys of self publishing - in traditional publishing there would be editors doing this work - although I have found mistakes recently in work published by some of the top publishing houses in the world, so even that wouldn't be fool proof. 

Till next time :)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Sobeit, folks

I am more than half way through my book and haven’t been sparing a thought for my blog  but there are a couple of odds and ends I want to share.   One is the word sobeit.  Is it a word?  Should it be written as three words, so be it?  I found myself using it in my current story and when I tried sobeit, thinking it would be like albeit, my spell check got all upset.  So I spelled it in three words.  Then I looked it up – apparently sobeit is a word which dates from1575 and albeit from 1385 (according to  But sobeit looks silly so I decided to leave it as three words.

The story I am writing is about a woman, in England, who is doing a lot of dog walking in winter.  So obviously she wears wellington boots, a term which is always abbreviated to wellies.   But does my spell check accept this? Not a chance – at every opportunity it changes the word to willies.  My daughter finds this hilarious, to her the word is plural for a vulgar term (interjection – why do men feel the need to give names  to  their private parts?   One of those weird things no female would ever consider doing, or can really understand  - but for many women that goes for football too) but I am of a generation where the expression ‘gives me the willies’ to denote a spine creeping feeling, is a normal term.   Not to mention the strange but beautiful group of Wilis (one L, no E) in the ballet Giselle.  They always puzzled me  a little as they are described as girls who were jilted and died before their wedding days.  Well they must have been pretty feeble sort of characters – I am so glad we are made of sterner stuff these days!   BTW I am not criticizing Giselle – it is one of my favourite ballets – I saw it not too long ago at Maynardville, our local (Cape Town) open air theatre set in wooded parklands – you could not imagine a more perfect setting – also perfect for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  But I digress.  And just in case I have readers of my daughter’s generation I shall do a thorough search when I have finished and make sure no ‘offensive’ words have slipped through.

Till next time J

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Back again, doing what I like best!

After all my whingeing and whining I have started a new book, putting the two that I was trying to work on simultaneously on the back burner.  I will get back to them in the fullness of time but not now. 
Now I am having fun; I’m excited about my new book.  It’s about a sixty year old woman whose husband leaves her for an OLDER woman, someone he plays bridge with.
Now I don’t always notice these things, preferring to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I do know that some of the clubs where I played bridge in England had all sorts of goings on.  I heard of someone who left his wife for his bridge teacher, and someone else who was found dead after a heart attack in his bridge partner’s house in the middle of the night –  which as you can imagine created a huge scandal, his wife knew nothing of it,  but apparently the relationship was common knowledge to ‘those in the know’ whose number did not include me.    Now I play at several bridge clubs in South Africa and I haven’t noticed any ‘extra table’ activity but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen.
Anyway I am enjoying writing the book – as usual the characters take on lives, voices and personalities of their own and I just write it all down.   I think that’s what I find so exciting about writing – watching the story unfold.  
One of my little (?) peculiarities is that I can’t write unless I have a title first.  Not everyone is like that – my daughter was half way through the second draft of her book before she thought of a title.  But not me - so I can tell you the title of the book I started last weekend – it’s ‘A Season, and a Time’.  You will probably recognise the quote – it’s from the Bible, King James Version, Ecclesiastes,  Chapter 3 – ‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven’.   To those of my generation it also has the words Turn, Turn, Turn but that doesn’t have any biblical origin, it was strictly added by  Pete Seeger when he made it into a song (which I had on an LP when I was a teenager).
I have some of my completed books available as freebies on Kindle over the Easter Weekend and am supposed to be trying to promote them but really I’d far rather write my new one.  I know I am supposed to be trying to sell books which seems ludicrous really  - the sort of people who write fiction are not the same sort of people who are successful marketers.  So I have made some half hearted attempts at listing them on various websites and will now go back to doing what I enjoy!
Till next time J

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Block? Is this what Writer's Block is? Where is my muse?

I have come to the shocking realisation that tomorrow is the last day in February and I haven't really settled into a writing routine yet.  I don't feel inspired so I make excuses and do other things to keep myself busy - it's extraordinarily easy to keep busy when there is something one feels one should be doing.   My current book is not even a quarter through yet I am doing very little writing - I know what the next part of the story line is but find I am not inspired to write it.  Sometimes I sit down, knowing I only have a short time and write a couple of pages but this isn't how I normally write.  With my first three books I sat down at my computer at every opportunity and felt compelled to get the story down, as though it would slip through my fingers like water if I didn't. 

But it's not really a block - it's more of an apathy.  When I was writing Rock-a-Bye Baby, which was my fifth novel, it actually started as my third then I wasn't sure how to proceed so put it on one side then I woke up one morning with But a Dream in my head and hastened to write it down, which I did within a month.  It was only much later that I went back to Rock-a-Bye and just wrote it.  I know that when I have the characters and the basic storyline the rest just comes as I write it.    It may sound ridiculous and pretentious but the characters tell their story, often surprising me in the process.  The ending of Fisherman's Dream wasn't at all what I had thought - but that's what came out and I was happier with it than with my first idea.

So it must just be laziness.  The trouble is I need a deadline and it needs to be a tight deadline otherwise I prevaricate.  I have set myself a deadline of finishing the first draft by the end of March - so have frittered away January and February - come March I will need to write around 1500 - 2000 words a day.  It's not such a lot when one gets down to it.    It all boils down to discipline, I suppose.  It's never been my strong point!  I think back to my schooldays - Monday morning in the train wasn't really the best time to be doing my weekend homework.    Too easily distracted that's me - now I really must take the dogs for a walk before going to my bridge club, perhaps tomorrow I'll get down to some steady writing, after doing the washing, weeding the garden, going to my aqua aerobics class and of course the dogs always need walking!  

Till next time :)

Friday, 15 February 2013

Age, yes I said the word, related issues

I have been a bit quiet of late – my time seems to have been otherwise occupied.  Recently I have been more of a Baby Boomer who writes fiction, rather than someone who writes Baby Boomer fiction.   I have been getting to grips with issues that concern our age group like hearing loss and the different types of hearing aid available – something I knew nothing whatsoever about.  Not for me but for my husband.  His hearing has been deteriorating over the years, particularly on his right side where he suffered a rugby injury in his youth.  Over the last few years I have frequently suggested he get his hearing tested, as have our two adult daughters but he has prevaricated.   Admitting to hearing loss is presumably acknowledging that one is getting older, which none of us seem prepared to do these days.  (When my mother was in her 50s she wore suitable clothing for her age, skirts and little jackets which she called a costume – the thought of my late mother in the nowadays ubiquitous jeans is mind boggling).   We all jog, exercise, go to the gym, do whatever it takes in an effort to deny the inevitable.   But I digress.   The way I got Colin, my husband, to get his hearing tested was, I admit, devious.  A hearing aid company came to my bridge club and did a presentation.  They invited members to fill in forms with a chance of winning a full hearing assessment.  I filled in the form in Colin’s name!  So they called him and made an appointment.  Now he is trying out hearing aids – a free trial.  He finds them a bit obtrusive but I find they make a huge difference in my life (I hadn’t realised I was having to raise my voice so he could hear me, also we can have the television on so much more quietly)  so I can only imagine what a difference they make to him - he is amazed at the birdsong from our little garden as well as able to have a normal telephone conversation.  He still isn’t sure if he wants one or two hearing aids so is trying combinations.  I thought naively that perhaps just one in the weaker ear would suffice but that didn’t work nearly as well as just one in the better ear.   Now the big issue is not hearing so much as listening!  He’s had an excuse over the last few years – he has always said he didn’t hear when I knew for certain he wasn’t listening – well there are no more excuses now! 

Another age related issue is of course eye sight.  I have tried eye exercises, though not as faithfully as I should, but still find I need glasses for reading.   So partly why I love my kindle, aside from its portability and the ease of downloads, is that I have increased the font size and don’t need my glasses for reading anymore which I find great.  I don’t know why they don’t use this as a selling point.  My sister recently bought a kindle for an elderly friend who was having trouble reading due to macular degeneration for this very reason.  

I was reading recently that John Grisham hates research – I have to agree with him I’m afraid.  I also have the fear that what I have read, even from several sources might not be 100% accurate so I far prefer writing about  things I have experienced myself, either first hand or from close observation.  So the issue of what they call ‘age related hearing loss’ might well crop up in one of my future books.

Till next time J

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Thank you so much to Lynn Schneider for tagging me - this is such fun.  I am currently reading Lynn’s novel Perigee Moon and really enjoying it, although at this stage I have no idea where it is going. 
As part of the Blog Hop I was asked to answer the following 10 questions about my current work in progress

  1. What is the working title of your book?
    A Fairy Tale (for Grownups)
    Definitely not ‘for adults’ because that has very different connotations these days although when I was growing up grownups and adults were synonyms.
  2. Where did the idea for the book come from? I have no idea – it just popped into my head (see question 9), though I do know people who found themselves in just this type of situation so it’s possible I had been pondering it subconsciously for some time.
  3. What is the genre of the book? Women’s Fiction, sub genre Baby Boomer Fiction (something I only discovered I was writing recently. I knew my books tended to have a main character in her fifties – I had heard the awful term ‘hen lit’ and the even worse ‘matron lit’ and was having none of those! Although I dislike labels I’d far rather be writing Baby Boomer Fiction than either if the alternatives.)
  4. Which actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition? That was difficult because my characters go from teenagers to their fifties in the course of the story, however if Brad Pitt could do it backwards in Benjamin Button I have to assume that this way round can also be done (I didn’t fancy having young and old versions of each character as one sometimes sees). There are three main characters, a woman and two men. Two of the characters also had to be English and the main male character Scottish. So my choices are Elizabeth: Kate Winslet Image of Kate WinsletCharles would be played by Colin Firth Image of Colin Firth and Alastair (the Scottish one) by John Hannah John Hannah Picture(Sorry for large picture - can't seem to minimise it)
    And for Alastair’s father who else but Sean Connery? What about Maggie Smith as his mother? Oh, and Judi Dench for Charles’s mother. This is now becoming fun – I could go on and on with my all star cast!
  5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? It’s a story of teenage lovers reuniting after more than half a lifetime.
  6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher? Self published but if any agents or publishers out there are interested I’m open to offers!
  7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? I haven’t finished it yet. With my first three books I finished the first draft within about a month each but my fourth and fifth intentionally took much longer. It depends on whether I allow my writing to take over my whole life. I find it easy to be obsessive when writing but it’s not really fair on the family (and we have a new puppy who is quite demanding) so I plan to finish the first draft within three months, which I find quite possible with a daily routine and target. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who can only finish things when there’s a bit of pressure so If I set myself a deadline of say 12 months I’ll make excuses and only really get down to it during the last couple of months anyway
  8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?   I can’t really say that I have read books with similar stories although there was a television series some years back with a similar theme and there is a famous true story about an extremely well known and highly placed couple in Britain – can’t say more – my lips are sealed! I’m nothing if not a royalist.
  9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?   I was looking at a friend’s Facebook entry and saw a comment by a name I recognized from my youth – this triggered an idea for how a couple might meet again after many years.
  10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? I believe the rise in websites devoted to linking people up with former school friends triggered a spate of such situations - couples dropping their current spouses to get back together with their high school sweethearts. This is one such fairy tale.
Now it is my turn.  I would like to tag Claude Nougat, author of Baby Boomer novel,  A Hook in the Sky.  Check out her blog at

Till next time :)



Monday, 14 January 2013

Happy New Year 2013

I'm back!  Actually we got back from a wonderful holiday (Singapore and Borneo) just over a week ago but we have workmen at the house and a new puppy and the combination is not conducive to getting on with anything normal.  I haven't written anything or done any exercise at all, apart from dog walking, for a whole month.

It's now Monday morning and I'm raring to go.  I intend starting my exercise program again (slowly this time as I have a bad track record of starting such things too fast and ending up so stiff and sore I can't move for the next few days.  It's very important that I get myself fit and in shape as I have a BIG school reunion - no I'm not telling which one - coming up in March) and getting back into my writing routine.  While I haven't written a word I have been pondering at odd times, so once I get going it should all run smoothly.  (That tapping sound was just me knocking on wood). 

It's a wonderful time of year here in Cape Town - this year we have not one but two open air Shakespeare productions - last Friday we went to see Cardenio, billed as Shakespeare's 'lost play' and supposedly a reworking of a collaboration between Shakespeare and Fletcher - well whoever it was we thoroughly enjoyed it, then next week Midsummer Night's Dream which is so well suited to the beautiful Maynardville setting.  It's also the season for the open air concerts at Kirstenbosch - just magnificent with the mountain backdrop.  Being summer before all of these it's picnic time, my favourite way of eating so I'm a very happy bunny, just not very productive at the moment.

2013!  Can you believe that we're already into the second half of the first quarter of the twenty first century?  It seems just the other day we were all worrying about the Millenium Bug destroying all our computers,  then this time last month so many thought we had only a week to go, but it seems the Mayans weren't infallible either and we soldier on.  Onwards and upwards, stopping to smell the roses on the way.

Till next time :)