My Copyright registered & protected

30 January 2009


Current Work: Queries, Fiction –drafts, Card making

Listening to: Jack Johnson CD

Reading: Final Demand - Deborah Moggach; The Writing Magazine and Writers News

First Thought for the Day:

No matter that we may mount on stilts, we still must walk on our own legs. And on the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom. -Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)

Things Can Only Get Better

Reminds me of a song and less so, a political campaign at some time. Anyway, I wrote earlier this week about the lack of progress… well it only got worse as I succumbed to a 24 hour bug thing. I’d just been bragging to my friend in the UK, who has been such a poorly girl, that we hadn’t suffered any colds or whatnot and suggested it was our cold weather and draughty old ‘casa’. I think she must have emailed some bugs over because yesterday I felt like my head was full of sand. Still I managed to get some editing done in the afternoon which was heartening. But that was about it.

A New Month, A New Start

February starts on Sunday. I can’t believe it. It’s my Man Fridays birthday tomorrow and we can’t buy birthday cards here, its not the done thing. So we make all of our own. Its quite fun and its loosely related to writing, well I think it is anyway. You have to write and whilst I draw the line at making up rhymes (you may well know that I cannot write poetry) I can always find something on the good ol’ internet.

Work in Progress

Well, as it’s the start of the new month I will be reviewing this past month and planning the next. Managed to get three queries off today, so fingers (and anything else) crossed that something will come to fruition. I’m a bit behind with the novel edit and so will concentrate on that next week. I’ve started the first draft of my next ‘flit lit’ novel which is being written with my Man Friday. However he hasn’t stuck to his side of the deal so…

And of course the Website Design, I’m sure its sooooo easy but some things just go straight over my head.

But first things first, its a birthday weekend, so celebrations are the order of the day.

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:

ex parte


(eks PAHR-tee)


adverb: Involving one side only.


From Latin ex parte (from a side).


"A notice was served to the company but as no official turned up on its behalf, it was proceeded ex parte."

Telephone Company Told to Pay Damages; The Times of India (New Delhi); Jan 13, 2009.

28 January 2009


Current Work: Non Fiction, Website building, online file tidy
Listening to: Chris Evans on Radio 2 –still waiting for a baby to arrive
Reading: The Self Sufficient Gardner – John Seymour

First Thought for the Day:
The artist brings something into the world that didn't exist before, and he does it without destroying something else. -John Updike, writer (1932-2009

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men
You should watch Eddie Izzard going on about this quote, its fantastic!
Anyway the week isn’t going particularly well, too many distractions, but all good ones I suppose. Maybe I just have to accept that sometimes the planning does go down the drain if something else is happening – it just seems to happen to me, a lot.
Anyway enough of my ranting, we are now wireless and are we pleased we forked out a few euro to have someone in who knows what we are doing. Met a fantastic couple who have lived here for five years and Penny is the techno queen. They also run a cycle hire and guide business more of which you can find from this link, Sibillini Cycling. Anyway to cut a long story short (which means nothing really goes according to plan here at Casa Grotta) Penny had us connected and we had learnt a lot more about where we live. Which can never be a best thing.

Building A Website
Well, unlike Penny, I am not technical minded at all. I mean it, I love pens and paper and the library and if possible I would chuck the PCs out of the nearest window, but its an essential tool for a modern writer, and I am one of the fiercest luddites around. So my philosophy is, if you can’t get rid of it, work with it! Well, building a website seems a simple thing, especially with offers that shout out how easy it is to build your website in three easy steps!. Not true… so not true. I’ve been on the case for over a week now and having been with one company for about 7 years had just got to grips. But now different host, different package and the frustration levels rising! Oh well, one step at a time. But now I’ve downloaded a website builder and I am determined to learn it and produce a simple and clean website.

Work in Progress
Well if you’ve reached this far you know it hasn’t been very successful so far. But I have uploaded my latest article about a French Writer known as Stendhal on Suite 101.

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:

dramatis personae

(DRAM-uh-tis puhr-SO-nee)

1. The characters in a play or story.
2. The people involved in an event.

From Latin dramatis personae (persons of the drama), from drama (play) + persona (mask, character in a play, person).

26 January 2009


Current Work: Editorial work, Fiction writing

Listening to: Italian Radio Subasio

Reading: Goodbye to Berlin (Christopher Isherwood)

First Thought for the Day:

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. -George Orwell, writer (1903-1950)

Peace of Mind

The writing has had to take a bit of a back seat today. Although I did manage to write, a couple of thousand words this morning and have submitted copy for my editorial contracts. The other canine boarders returned to their home yesterday and we spent the grey rainy day with our feet up. This morning it was Operation Clean up as Monday morning is always a cleaning day. I have written about routines before, and I’m coming round, that actually I like routine, to some degree. I can get those horrid things out of the way and then get on with what I really want to do. But, today securing the garden for our darling dog has been the order of the day. He is becoming very curious and picking up smells, mainly from the wild pigs, which roam about here.

We are going to get round to putting up a fairly pig proof fence some time this year, but at the moment we just need to feel a bit secure to let Bertie roam his estate safely. So hence the fence, (aah the beauty of alliteration, or is it? Its actually just a bit of rhyming so I shouldn’t get too clever with myself).


Well, that took a back seat too I’m afraid. I was going to do it over the weekend, but then I got cooking and yesterday as I said, I just slummed around. Watched Mama Mia! What a great film, I hadn’t laughed out loud, for a long time, and I loved the music. It brought back many fond memories of my two younger sisters dressed as the Abba girls at a Millenium Party all those years ago. EEK! If I can find a photo I’ll post one here!!

The Week Ahead

Well hopefully I’ll catch up. I’m hoping to do a bit on my website tonight to make up for things. However, my Man Friday might fight me for access to the Internet. Roll on tomorrow when we will finally become networked!!

I’m feeling in a good mood, despite the soaking we just got on a walk, but will be glad to see the back of January. Always a ‘grey’ month, but not that so. My Man Friday will celebrate his ‘ehmm’ birthday on Saturday!

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:

ex libris


(eks LEE-bris, LI-)


1. From the library of (a phrase inscribed in a book followed by the name of the book owner).

2. A bookplate.


From Latin ex libris (from the books), from ex- (from) + liber (book).


Novelist and Nobelist Anatole France once said, "Never lend books -- nobody ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are those which people have lent me." An ex libris inscription identifies the owner of a book, and supposedly prevents others from building their own libraries by borrowing. I've also seen bookplates that say "Stolen from the library of ..."

Typically an ex libris is placed on the inside cover or the front end paper. Earlier bookplates featured coats of arms. Like everything else, there are bookplate enthusiasts and collectors with their own societies, conferences, journals, blogs, and more.


"I found a copy of Mein Kampf with Hitler's ex libris bookplate."

Timothy W Ryback; Hitler's Secret Library; The Sunday Times (London, UK); Jan 11, 2009.

23 January 2009


Current Work: Fiction, Queries and Website building
Listening to: Pattering of dogs feet above my office
Reading: Goodbye to Berlin (Christopher Isherwood)

First Thought for the Day:
I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father's child has. -Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the U.S. (1809-1865)

Friday Mop Up
Well, it’s been one of those weeks. Three dogs, two humans and a collection of community cats do not mix! Well the two temporary canines return to their owners on Sunday and I have nominated Monday as a formal lie in. This morning they were spooked by something at 2am and I do not feel particularly forgiving at the moment. On top of that, they (I’m still on the dogs at this point) have chewed several kitchen sponges, a spectacle case, sticks for the fire and must have shed a ton of dust. Hey Ho!

To Do and Done
In spite of this, I seem to be fairly on target, must be the New Year or something, the jury is out on whether I can keep this up! I have submitted a short story to The Peoples Friend today, finally got it in the post although it was on my to-do-list for Wednesday.
I have submitted three queries, all quite different. I enjoy writing query letters, they are short, to the point and at the time of writing them that is all they are. I talk about what I will write about but haven’t done it yet. I know some writers produce the article first, but I like to think about the audience, so if (and it’s a big if) the query is accepted, then work begins.
I’ve finished Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin. It was a good read, easy to follow and I like the characters he develops and also the ‘sense of place’. I’ve never been to Scotland, but I can picture some of the streets which Rebus frequents. Rankin is a favourite author of my Man Friday.

Plans for the Weekend
Sleep! Watch the Mama Mia! DVD– a pressie from my kind father and hopefully publishing my new website.

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:


adjective: Combining different forms of belief or practice.

From Latin syncretismus, Greek synkretismos (union), from synkretizein (to unite in the manner of the Cretan cities), from syn (together) + Kret-, Kres (Cretan).

"Traditionally, Indonesians practiced a tolerant, almost syncretic brand of faith, infused with the Buddhist, Hindu, and animist traditions of earlier periods."
Barack Obama; The Audacity of Hope; Crown Publishers; 2006.

21 January 2009


Current Work: Non-fiction (Suite 101), editing, website design

Listening to: Radio 2 via the internet and dogs play fighting

Reading: Psychologies Magazine, Fleshmarket Close (Ian Rankin)

First Thought for the Day:

Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, "the greatest", but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is. -Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986)

A Writers Routine

I’ve read many times, how important it is for writers to have a routine. Most of us need routine in some manner or form because it ensures we get things done. Usually, and fellow procrastinators will understand this, those things which we probably don’t like, saving the good things as ‘treats’. I have a loose routine, which is mainly led by our young puppy, Bertie. He wakes most mornings about seven, so after breakfast and a quick canter round the field, I am usually writing my journal. Again before lunch and a longer walk before it gets dark and in between I get on with tasks. However, when we have Bertie’s sister to stay the routine goes a bit haywire and I find it very disrupting. Two young puppies who have a combined weight of over 30kg racing around our small casa is something that cannot be ignored. And then the barking, which started before 6am this morning. Although our neighbours are a little way away, the first hint of a whine and I am flying out of the bedroom door, pyjamas flapping and waving my arms about like a goose might do with its wings.

Roll on next week…

Speech Writing

I’ve not done any speech writing. Come to think of it I haven’t made any speeches either. I have delivered educational programmes and lectures but they’re a different kind of thing, a little more – interactive. I watched (along with most of the world with a TV or radio) the Inauguration Speech. Barak Obama spoke for 18 minutes, succinctly, passionately and without reference to any notes at all. I found it an uplifting experience, yet subtle. No clichés, no rambling and ranting, and no preaching. The only religious sort of reference came at the end, which was OK. Well, the whole world is watching now to see what happens in practice. I don’t envy his position; I wouldn’t want to be his speech writer either. Though something tells me that he probably doesn’t need one.

Work in Progress

I’m on target for completing four chapters of my draft novel for first reading by my Man Friday. He’s read the first two scenes and said he wanted to read more so that’s a good sign. And I trust him to tell me the truth.

I’ve uploaded my latest article to Suite 101, a short biography of Albert Schweitzer. My interest in him initiated when we were planning our wedding and we opted for a humanist ceremony. I used some of his quotes in my pledge to my Man Friday; I found them very inspirational and relevant to me.

I’ve also been putting the finishing touches to a short story I’m going to submit to Peoples Friend publication. They haven’t accepted anything I’ve done yet but they always provide useful feedback, just one line, but its feedback all the same.

Finally I have been renewing my non-fiction website which I must now update – you can find at Writing Pad. I’ve also subscribed to a new website for my fiction stuff which I write under the pen name of Louise Charles. This site will be up and ready soon, watch this space (and if nothing happens give me a nudge.)

All in all not bad considering the canine disruptions!

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:






1. Natural to a particular people or place; always present in a particular area.

2. Confined to a geographic region.


From Greek endmos (native), from en- (in) + demos (people).


"Some of the worst actors on the international stage can also take advantage of the collective exhaustion and outrage that people feel with official corruption, as we've seen with Islamic extremists who promise purification, but deliver totalitarianism. Endemic corruption opens the door to this kind of movement, and in its wake comes a new set of distortions and betrayals of public trust."

Barack Obama; An Honest Government, A Hopeful Future; Speech at the University of Nairobi, Kenya; Aug 28, 2006.

19 January 2009


Current Work: Editorials and Wireless Connections

Listening to: A ticking clock and the whirring of the PC

Reading: Fleshmarket Close (Ian Rankin)

First Thought for the Day:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. -Martin Luther King, Jr., civil-rights leader (1929-1968)

New Beginnings

This week, the words and thoughts for the day reflect that tomorrow, a new President of the United States will be sworn in. Now those of you, who know me well, will know that I’m not a political person (though I do love a good debate, particularly with my father). But reading about Obama Barack, the good and the bad, my instinct tells me he will be different. And he’s a writer to boot! Not that I have any leanings to an alternative career. Whatever I think, lets just hope that he has enough about him to sweep clean but hold onto the baby (and recycle the dishwater).

Tools of the Trade

As you know, we didn’t get broadband here until the beginning of December 08 (by which time I’d been winding up the power for a measly 38mbps or what ever the terminology is!). Well, now we have it and its wonderful, not only does surfing and researching on the web feel like a dream but I can also send and receive images easily. So an important tool albeit I made do when I had no choice. So I have really stuck the boat out and now we are going wireless (there are two of us who write here, my Man Friday and I) so that our PC and laptop will speak to one another (metaphorically speaking) and we can both be on the internet at the same time and receive telephone calls if necessary. I know this probably seems like Stone Age stuff to many but for us it’s progress.

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:





verb intr.: To be united; to work or hold together.


From Latin cohaerere, from co- (together) + haerere (to stick).


"I learned to slip back and forth between my black and white worlds, understanding that each possessed its own language and customs and structures of meaning, convinced that with a bit of translation on my part the two worlds would eventually cohere."

Barack Obama; Dreams From My Father; Times Books; 1995.

16 January 2009


Current Work: Queries, novel editing and admin

Listening to: Italian radio to improve my understanding

Reading: Fleshmarket Close (Ian Rankin), old diaries

First Thought for the Day:

A time will come when a politician who has wilfully made war and promoted international dissension will be as sure of the dock and much surer of the noose than a private homicide. It is not reasonable that those who gamble with men's lives should not stake their own. -H.G. Wells, writer (1866-1946)

Friday Fumbling

It’s been a strange day, they very often are here! I and my Man Friday are still trying to get to grips with the Italian Health System. Today we were up at a sparrow’s song, in the dark as MF had to have an eye examination. The poor chap suffers from Type 2 Diabetes and this is one of the regular checks he has to have, the service is very good and very similar to the UK, just with a few (or should I say many) misunderstandings. We reached the hospital at 7.30 am (no 9-5 here) and the waiting room was full of octogenarians smiling a toothless grin at the stranieri (foreigners). Anyway it turned out that he should have other tests before this one and now we have had to rearrange it for next month.

You may well be asking what all this has got to do with writing? Well, I for one believe in making everything an opportunity for writing and this will be no different. I managed to scribble a few character sketches, add more to a piece I’m putting together on our experience which will also fuel the novel in progress. So never look a gift horse in the mouth – OK enough of the cliché’s they get a bit boring but sometimes they just tumble out.

Weekly Assessment

Not bad, I’d say 8/10. Not bad for the Queen of Procrastination? I have lots of red ticks in my diary against actions (it’s a lovely feeling – sad aren’t I?). I’ve started editing my draft novel which feels strange but its lovely to get together with it again and the characters feel as fresh as when I was writing about them.

Today is my query and admin day, though with the trip this morning I’m running a little late and we have to go out again in about 10 minutes.

Plans for the Weekend

I like weekends. Sunday particularly as I try as much as I can to keep it sacred (to me and my other half, not for any other reason). If we’ve had a Red Cross parcel from my dad, I’ll demolish the reading material or catch up on the novel on my bedside table. I’ve just finished a biography about Rosalind Franklin, the silent but considerable contributing scientist to the discovery of DNA which led to a Nobel Prize. Not for poor Rosalind though, it’s a fascinating read, not only because of how women were viewed at the time but also because she was the great Aunt of my brother in law! And he’s brainy too!

Dogs are also on the weekend agenda. Bertie’s sister is coming to stay for another week and we’ve been bracing ourselves! Lots of exercise thought to balance the overindulgence with the vino rosso!

Until later….

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:



(NOO-buh-luhs, NYOO-)


adjective: 1. Cloudy, misty, or foggy. 2. Vague or obscure.


From Latin nubilosus (cloudy), from nubes (cloud).


Antonioni is probably best known for Blow-Up, a nubilous 1966 drama set in swinging London about a fashion photographer who comes to believe that a photograph he took of two lovers in a public park also shows, hidden in the background, evidence of a murder."

Rick Lyman; Michelangelo Antonioni, Subversive Filmmaker; International Herald Tribune (Paris, France); August 1, 2007.

"All of which nubilous musing serves little purpose, except to show that cloud-gazing, as a way of passing time, has appealed to all humanity since the earliest of times."

Andy Drought; We Really Don't Know Clouds At All; The Herald (Glasgow, UK); Oct 27, 2001.

14 January 2009


Current Work: Non-Fiction article, Fiction editing, job application

Listening to: The dog chewing on a bone

Reading: Rosalind Franklin, Fleshmarket Close (Ian Rankin)

First Thought for the Day
The souls of emperors and cobblers are cast in the same mold. The same reason that makes us wrangle with a neighbor creates a war betwixt princes. -Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)

Wednesday Wobbles?
Well, not wobbles really. The week seems to be going quite well. The other half is working in the freezing office downstairs, and I’m up in the warmer place with a snoring dog at my feet. Not a bad deal is it?

I have uploaded my weekly article to Suite 101 on Health Facts from World War II. I find it quite fascinating that during such hard times, with a lot of personal loss and life happening out with your control, that people were probably healthier then than before (and probably even now). And, they sort of got on with things, supporting one another and refusing to have their spirits broken. Perhaps we all have something to learn, not just health wise but to stay positive whilst all around you there is chaos. Well, that’s my soapbox bit. It’s good to get it off my chest.

Up For Sale
I’ve been updating my CV this week (or is it called a resume?). I never know what to call the damn thing…). There is an opportunity for another editing job at a publishing house where I already have a couple of small contracts. I haven’t done a CV or sold myself in this very formal way for some time. But that got me thinking. I’m continually trying to sell myself (well my work, my skills that is) on a regular basis, putting out queries, submitting manuscripts and plodding the virtual footpaths to find an agent. It takes time and some careful editing to get your message across succinctly and clearly. What really amazes me is the amount of ‘stuff’ I’ve actually done. It’s a sort of wow moment when I read it again to make sure I haven’t made anything up. Many of us, put ourselves down and concentrate on the rejections and failures rather than congratulating ourselves for our successes.

Wild Animals
Apart from my all-encompassing passion for writing, I do enjoy other activities, which I think is important for writers, otherwise we can become a bit dull at the edges. One of them is taking the Bertie the Beast (our puppy - 3 months old and huge!) out for his daily walks. We take it in turns in the morning, he’s fully house trained but by 6.30 -7am, he has had enough. This morning it was my turn and looking out of the window, I groaned inwardly. It was misty, with a very light drizzle. The grey, gloomy light did not look inviting. Anyway, after Bertie has gobbled up his breakfast – this takes approximately five seconds – I don wellies and anorak and off we go into the nearby field. Bertie heard them first, his tail straight out behind him like a fishing rod and his small ears pinned back. Then I heard the snorts and scourging of the wild pigs, which are common here. I wouldn’t know what to do if one of them came out, I think I might faint, but then again I need to protect Bertie. Anyway I made a lot noise handclapping and calling to the puppy. The rustling got louder as did my heartbeat and then nothing. The pigs had scurried off the other way. With a sigh of relief and a welcome lick from Bertie, we did our rounds and returned to our warm and safe casa.

Finally, the Last Word of the Day:



(NOO-uhl, NYOO-)


noun: 1. A centre column that supports the steps of a spiral staircase. 2. A post supporting the handrail of a staircase.


From Middle English nowel, from Middle French nouel (kernel), from Late Latin nucalis (nutlike), from Latin nuc-, nux (nut).


"Midway through the stair project he appeared with a solid pine stair newel, stripped and sanded."

Mary Meier, A Millworker's House Remade, The Boston Globe, Feb 24, 2000.

12 January 2009


Current Work: Editorial and writing blog.

Listening to: My horoscope

Reading: Rosalin Franklin, The Interpretation of Murder, and the UK

papers sent in a ‘red cross’ parcel from my father!

Thought for the Day
Memories are interpreted like dreams. -Leo Longanesi, journalist and editor (1905-1957)

Monday Mumblings
Got lots of plans for my writing this week just hope I’m going to be able to fit it all in! I have my writing plan now proudly printed and on file so I can look at what I’ve promised every day… sometimes it can be motivating, sometimes a bit threatening, but as Alice in Wonderland once said ‘If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?’ Well, actually, I think it was the Cheshire Cat who said it, but all the same, its true isn’t it.

On Saturday I was busy trying to finish off a short story before I went to the post office in our nearest village. One of the disadvantages of living abroad and entering competitions by post is that it shortens the time you have to submit. Which gets even shorter still if the publication you submit to also arrives much later than its publication date. I keep telling myself that time pressure is good and should make me more organised but on Saturday I wouldn’t have thanked you to remind me. I must get next months sorted well before otherwise my poor Man Friday will have another flea in his ear!

Memories and Mugshots
The provision of a professional looking photo with a piece (as long as it is relevant) is becoming much sought after. I am learning to take my camera with me every time I go out. Usually however, the only time I forget to, you can bet it’s the time that the perfect setting or scene presents itself. The other morning out with the dog at some unearthly hour was so beautiful, I can hardly describe it… a kind of purply, pink almost bruised sky with the outline of the next village in the distance.

My son also bought us one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received. I had said that we didn’t want presents, to donate the money somewhere, but he’s never listened to me! Anyway it was a digital photo frame, where you can put a photo card in with all your favourite piccies and set it to slide show. It’s like a moving photo board but with regular updates. And it means we can have our favourite subjects constantly in our view, five sons, two granddaughters and a divine collection of dogs throughout the years. I’d recommend it.

And Finally the Last Word of the Day:


(NOO-muh, NYOO-)

noun: Spirit, soul.

From Greek pneuma (breath, wind, spirit). Ultimately from the Indo-European root pneu- (to breathe) that is also the source of pneumatic, pneumonia,

8 January 2009


Current Work: Non Fiction (Suite 101), Novel - editing

Listening to: The news, more job losses in the UK

Reading: Rosalind Franklin, The Interpretation of Murder

First...Thought for the Day

I need someone to protect me from all the measures they take in order to protect me. -Banksy, street artist (b. 1974)

Writing Space
Our ‘office’ occupies an old garden kitchen space in the lower half of our Italian casa. It’s the coolest place in the summer months when temperatures can reach 50° in the shade. This is largely because it needed to be cool for the animals that used to live here and large holes around the windows and new central heating system. Our house is 300 years old so a little draught is expected.

And, naturally, it stays cold - very cold. Makes sense I suppose but not ideal for writing. My fingers and toes go numb in about fifteen minutes and I can see my breath. Despite my Man Friday installing an oil radiator, which he ensures, is switched on each morning and the amazing number of layers I put on so that I resemble a Michelin man, it remains cold. Lucky for me we have a laptop, which I can use upstairs, next to a very hot radiator and not too far from log fire. Perfect. Well, nearly. I prefer my PC, the keyboard is the right size (I have large hands for a female, but that’s another story). And all my stuff is around me. This temporary arrangement has me going out and up and down stairs like a yo-yo. But I suppose that keeps me warm.

I have a website, which I have used for my non-fiction style of writing, but I’m thinking it’s not the right format for my fiction stuff. So because publishing my fiction is a major part of my writing plan this year, I’m thinking of developing a separate one, which is less formal but just as professional. I just hope that I don’t spend most of my precious writing time to updating websites and blogs! But I believe they are an essential tool in any writers’ box and unless you put yourself about, even in cyberspace, you won’t be found. I’ll keep you updated.

Writing Projects
I have finally completed and signed my writing plan. OK I know it’s only between the paper, and me but as I’ve said before, I have to take myself seriously. I have sorted out the first draft of my novel, putting all my bits of paper, scenes and so on into some kind of logical order and put it all together. I have also drafted a short story – the deadline is next week so I have to get my skates on – and will be working on that over the weekend. So all in all not a bad week.

And Finally the last Word of the Day:




adjective: Occurring annually.


The word refers to the annual summer winds of the Mediterranean. It's derived from Latin etesius, from Greek etesios, from etos (year). Ultimately from the Indo-European root wet- (year) that is also the source of such words as veteran, veal (in the sense of yearling), and veterinary (relating to the beasts of burden, perhaps alluding to old cattle), inveterate, wether, and bellwether.


"British gold medal hope Paula Radcliffe suffers from asthma. She will be praying Greece's etesian wind will blow away much of the Athens smog."

Paula Radcliffe Suffers From Asthma; The News of the World (London, UK); Aug 8, 2004.

6 January 2009


Current Work: Planning of course!

Listening to: My Man Friday, washing-up & he’s done the ironing!)

Reading: Rosalind Franklin, Interpretation of Murder,

For money you can have everything it is said. No, that is not true. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; soft beds, but not sleep; knowledge but not intelligence; glitter, but not comfort; fun, but not pleasure; acquaintances, but not friendship; servants, but not faithfulness; grey hair, but not honor; quiet days, but not peace. The shell of all things you can get for money. But not the kernel. That cannot be had for money. -Arne Garborg, writer (1851-1924)

Then there was one…
The two ‘holiday’ dogs have returned home today to their owners who have spent their New Year up an Austrian mountain at -12° (yes that’s very cold). Now they are gone, I can see that it’s been chaotic for the last week with two young but large, puppies and one old man who’s been around the block and hasn’t a lot of patience! When their owner was shutting them in their 4x4 and we were busily waving goodbye, blowing kisses and generally looking stupid, the back window exploded into tiny green fragments of reinforced glass all over the road. We’re not sure what happened, many hypothesis were discussed but needless to say they had a cold trip home. So now back on track with the writing – though the duo are booked in again for another week in 10 days!

Writing Plan for 2009
Last week I wrote about looking back and looking forward. Today I have written my writing plan (I hate the word business plan but I suppose that’s what it is). One of the difficulties I find is that I get very excited and set my self all kinds of goals and actions, all to be achieved by the end of the day, never mind the year! But, without having some kind of direction, how do you know where you want to be. It’s a bit like planning a journey, if you don’t have the destination, you can’t plan to get there. So although it’s written (well, scribbled) I know that it will change, morph and reinvent itself several times before the end of the year.

I also plan (can’t you tell I love the planning bit?) every month. I look back and carry forward all the things I haven’t done (I’m getting better though) and make new plans for the month. So for example I’ve penned the titles of the articles I want to submit to Suite 101. I’ve identified 12 queries – four of which will be recycled from last month and I’ve looked at some anniversary ideas for three to six months ahead. Not bad, the trick is though, to do something. Writing my blog is also on my agenda, in fact its one of the goals in my Writing Plan, to submit at least three postings a week. The proof will be in the pudding.

The Good Witch
Here in Italy, today 6th January, is a bank holiday. Historically they haven’t celebrated Father Christmas (Babbo Natale) but you wouldn’t know that given the number of those red blow up things climbing ladders or swinging from a parachute at every other casa in sight. Anyway the 6th is Epiphany, 12 days after Christmas. If all the children have been good, the good witch Befana visits them with a sack load of goodies.

Happy Scribbling…

And Finally… the last Word of the Day:




adjective: Relating to or like oats.


From Latin avena (oats).


"See birds that know our avenaceous store,

Stoop to our hand, and then repleted soar."

The Poems of H.C. Burner; Scribner; 1896.

(written as a parody of Alexander Pope)

5 January 2009


Current Work: Health Editorial, non-fiction piece on Journaling

Listening to: Radio 4 The Book Club

Reading: Rosalind Franklin, The Interpretation of Murder

I’m running out of time quickly but I wanted to post at least some sort of rant from Monday to Friday as I planned. We have visited the beach today. It’s been bright and sunny, the sky a Wedgwood blue and the snow as white as snowdrops on the mountains. Just the time then to go and blow the cobwebs of the old writing year away and at the same time pick up some scenes and characters for future use.

The dogs (still plural, the terror hasn’t returned) really enjoyed their first taste of the coast. They weren’t too sure of the water though generally, they didn’t mind but also Bertie managed to frighten some small young girl. How dreadful we have contributed to her fear of dogs. Her mother kept saying ‘niente’ – its nothing - but I felt dreadful!

I had to give up on Smileys’ People, the last novel I was reading. Our copy has extremely small text, which seems to be squashed together and therefore I kept reading back over the same thing. It was very distracting and although I enjoyed what I was reading, I gave up in frustration. Which goes to show that presentation is just as important as content, well for me anyway.

The dogs were awake early today, just after six, so fed, watered and walked by seven, the dogs that is, I managed to get my early morning writing in which felt good. I plotted out two short story ideas for competitions and managed to get a chapter in of the biography I’m reading by 8 o’clock. How’s that for the first Monday of the New Year. We have not long returned from another walk where we met our neighbours who had just finished slaughtering a pig (I kid you not) and there was blood everywhere and a strange ‘old’ smell about. The dogs were very interested mind you… Oh well, ‘when in Rome’ as they say.

And Finally the Word of the Day:



adjective: 1. At an intermediate state. 2. At the threshold of consciousness.

From Latin limen (threshold).

"Jolted is funny and smart and fast paced. And it's written with real love for that fascinating liminal creature called the young teenager, for whom the sky is always just about to fall."

Tim Wynne-Jones; Electrifying; The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada); Sep 13, 2008.

2 January 2009


Current Work: Non-fiction article about journaling (and planning)

Listening to: A crackling fire and a squeaky table

Reading: Smileys People, Rosalind Franklin

Well, I’m trying to start of as I mean to go on. I didn’t post yesterday but then I try never to turn on the PC on Sundays and bank holidays. I have to have some time without this damn machine. Anyway I have done some reviewing of last year and some planning for this and… I’ve changed the blog a little to hopefully improve the experience.

Five Highlights of 2008

  1. Surviving a full year here in Italia and still loving it!
  2. Getting into some kind of habit for submitting queries and becoming a ‘serious’ writer
  3. Small successes in published pieces including Writing Magazine, Writers News, Sweet Magazine and The Sunday Times (Home Section) – yes I said the Sunday Times!
  4. Completing the first draft of my novel and having a second brewing in my head
  5. The addition of the wonderful Bertie to our life which has provided me with lots of walking (and therefore mulling) time. And I can’t miss out my Man Friday, without whom nothing would be possible.

Five Priorities for 2009

  1. Improve my Italian lingo so I can expand my writing skills into translation (a biggie)
  2. Get better at firing off queries (generating the ideas first, of course!)
  3. Edit first 3 chapters and last chapter of novel
  4. Find an agent for no. 3 (can’t tempt fate any further than that)
  5. Work harder at marketing my craft (never been my strong point)
And of course we plan to get some chickens, become better at growing our own vegetables, improve the vine harvest (or their maybe serious shortages) and stay healthy.

I’m sure there’s more, there always is but I feel most positively positive about the coming year, despite the economic crisis and the falling euro which is financially ball-aching. Hey Ho, onwards and upwards – I feel like a song coming on (or was it an election promise?) Things can only get better…

And Finally, Word of the Day:





adverb: Hesitantly; irresolutely.

adjective: Hesitant; vacillating.

noun: Hesitation; vacillation.

verb intr.: To vacillate; to dawdle.


From reduplication of the question Shall I?


"We go after bigger things, and don't stand shilly-shally on the brink as you do."

Anthony Trollope; The Way We Live Now; 1875.