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Saturday, 25 December 2010

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

ETMA 1 Part 1

In 500 words, write a mini portrait of a character, in either the past or present tense. In this story, note, there needn’t be any significant plot; concentrate instead on describing both character and place, and on conveying a particular mood – and state this mood as the title of your story. (For example: Happiness: Jane had short red hair and ...)

Despair
Sarah got up from the sofa after another sleepless night and let her unshaven legs carry her to the bedroom. She looked out of tear sodden eyes into the room that she and Dan had once slept. It had been a month since she’d been widowed and a month since she’d seen their room. It looked grey despite the fact that they had only recently painted it a warm terracotta colour. Dark dankness swallowed the warm glow that had once occupied this room. The floor creaked below her aching feet as she leaned against the door jamb, its sharp edges pressing deep into her bony side. She caught her reflection in the dusty mirror and held out a moisture starved hand, pressing against the glass as though it might lead the way into another world. Her roots no longer matched chocolate brown tresses and the ends were withered and lifeless. She looked older than her forty years but she felt like a child who’d lost her way. The room stood still, and she echoed its sentiment as if cemented to the spot. A tear threatened her eye as she stepped over Dan’s pile of washing to pick up the crime thriller she had leant him. Holding it close, as if it were her last link to him, Sarah sunk down onto the unmade bed and opened the book to where he had turned the corner of the page down. She hated when he did that but she left it as it was and replaced the book in the position it had been left in.


A flicker of an autumnal ray made its way through the slit in the blinds and the warmth lit up her pale and tired face. Sarah’s eyelids hung low as if protecting her from the light of day as though she might disintegrate under such brightness. Her body lost itself in the empty double bed as she curled herself into the foetal position and hugged the bear that perched on her pillow. Her mobile called out for the fifth time that morning. She didn’t rush to it, what would be the point? It wouldn’t be him. She only kept it charged so she could call his voicemail whenever she missed the sound of his voice. It would be her mother again and immediately she felt guilty. She would call her back later and tell her she was fine; she’d be back to working in the shop as soon as she had time. Sarah wiped away yet more tears, as if her tear ducts had sprung an endless leak.


Sarah rose from the bed and trudged bare footed into the living room. She cranked up the heating; she wasn’t especially cold but Dan always liked it warm in their flat. She could hear the noise of continuing life outside and felt her heart ache. Sympathy cards lined the work tops just next to his mail and his unwashed coffee cup. Everything would just stay as it was.


A few cliches aside it did rather well with a 40 out of 50.  It was based on the strength of this piece that I managed to get a Good Pass.  I think a lot of us were more in tune without part 1 - not sure why but I agreed with the comments made.  I will publish part 2 in my next post.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The results are in:

So for those who didn't see my facebook on Friday (drunken status updates ahoy) I scored a 72 for my first assignment. I am soooo pleased with that. I scored a 40 out of 50 for part 1 of the TMA and 32 for part 2. I shall post both in separate posts so you can see my work. I know I keep saying it but it will happen. Work is winding down for the year and all that hard work in the first 6 months WAS worth it as I was awarded the MVP (most valued person) at my work do on Friday. I think it was fair to say that between becoming an Auntie, scoring a 72 and getting the MVP, last week was pretty brilliant


Friday was definitely about the champers:


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Crimbo has come early

I had the best news EVER yesterday.  My beautiful neice made her way into the world making me an Auntie for the very first time.  I am super proud and cannot wait to meet her.

So I am on form today and am raring to go with Block 3 of my course.  I am eagerly waiting the result of my first TMA (scores due by Friday) and all I can do for now is get on with the rest of the course.  I spent the weekend visiting friends in Hove and mooching the shops in Brighton whilst sampling the tastiest mulled cider.  Between this and the X-factor I had little time to post anything at the weekend so for that I apologise.  I would quite like to post up some of my work on blocks 1 and 2 which my fellow students are giving some great feedback so keep a look out this week for that if you're interested.

I just finished reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - I really enjoyed it and it left me feeling very festive.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Finally settled!

This is the first lunch break at work I have had where the hour didn't get gobbled up by present searching, coursework, bill paying, flat hunting, various other things that I have possible blocked out for stress inducing reasons.  I'm better now I am happy to say.  Everything from that knot in my stomach to that crater on my face - all gone!  Not sure whether it's the Kalms that I've been taking or the lack of crap things happening of late but I actually feel quite relaxed.  I got my first TMA into my tutor last week (more on that in my next post)  and we FINALLY have internet (can I get an Amen!! - it was definitely a miracle we got it in the end).  O2 were useless blaming everything but themselves for the delay.  There was one saving grace though - in their Glasgow branch.  A very nice man called Clive.  He is definitely on my Crimbo card list and my list of people who to call should I ever decide to move again (never again!!!)

Womag 2 Weekly is closed for short story submissions until January so I have until then to pull another shorty out of the bag.  Sadly I am yet to report a short story sale.  I remain optimistic as I still have some with The Weekly News (sending good thoughts your way Jill! - as if that's all it takes :S).  This will give me time to work on the novel also as I have become a member of Chapter2Weekly which the lovely Suzanne Jones has founded for us novel wannawriters or in my case finishers.

That's all for now.  I promise to come back soon with more about my OU course (which I am LOVING btw)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Important - Please read!!

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.


Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/hNBkJk

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/hX2ieD

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.

Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at http://www.talliroland.com/.


About THE HATING GAME:
When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Monday, 1 November 2010

Back again and birthdays

I have 2 birthdays to acknowledge today. Firstly today is my brother’s 31st birthday. Joel – happy birthday if you're reading this


Also, and I can't believe I forgot but it was my blog's 3rd birthday which was in September. Happy belated birthday blog.

So, I have finally moved…yay. I have to wait for internet…boooo

On Saturday my Open University course started. I have missed out on some of the intros and welcome messages but luckily I have internet at work (thank heavens for the office job – I knew there was a reason I did this!!) I am catching up slowly but the writing has been put on hold due to the packing, lifting, back ache, searching for coffee cups, tripping over boxes and rogue coat hangers, bed building, mattress ordering, sofa sleeping and more back ache. Lolly and I are getting there and the new place is just wonderful. I love my new desk (thanks landlord) and the epic built-in wardobes. I just need to finish unpacking and find more hangers.

Despite the back ache I will venture into the depths of the unknown and work out in the gym tonight. I haven’t been there in over 2 weeks due to the delay in the move which meant logistically it was unrealistic to travel from parents house to my not-so-local-anymore gym. It will be quite nice to get back to it and I am determined to get fit. After lugging sofas and other bulky and awkward furniture up a flight of stairs I’ve realised my body needs oiling for want of a better word (sounds like a euphemism for something but its not – im just a bit stiff – oh forget it!)

Monday, 11 October 2010

Taking a blog holiday

Seeings as the move isn't quite going to plan (landlords are being total PITA's - that's Pains in the Arses) the well deserved time off is being put on the back burner.  So until the move is over I'm going to take a break from blogging instead.  I love blogging but aside from not having anything writing relating to post, I really don't have much going on but work, sleep, work, sleep, work and a little bit of writing when I can.  My OU writing course starts at the end of October so I'll be back to share everything with you but until then I shall see you over at your places...

Have a good October

Lily

x

Monday, 4 October 2010

I want some time off!!

Not quite sure where that weekend went but it wasn't my most productive one.  I helped Lolly move her belongings into storage ready for her to leave her flat on Saturday.  Only one more move left (this month) and then hopefully the heart palpatations will stop and I can take some well earnt time off.

Friday was good, I got my reading anthology from the OU for my 'Start Writing Fiction Course' which starts at the end of the month.  It's been a while since I paid for it and as a result I'd kind of forgotten about it so it was good to receive something to get me feeling a bit more animated. 

No rejections to report (thank you editors) this week although all bar one are with Jill Finlay at The Weekly News.  One of which I posted nearly two months ago now.  I usually get a rejection response after a month so not sure if it's a good thing or she's just very busy.  I posted my crime story to Cecilia at You, South Africa.  I don't know how that will go as I've never read the magazine but I had a look on their website http://www.you.co.za/.  Cecilia is on holiday until 22 October so my story won't be picked up by anyone until then.  I shall just forget out that one for now. 

On a final note I went into Boots for my lunch and was surprised at the things I saw.  With that in mind I shall leave you with this final thought:

81 sleeps, 11 hours, 8 minutes & 57 seconds till Crimbo!!!!

Tis very exciting as by then I shall be cool aunt Lily :-)

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Catching Up

Not quite sure where the weekend went but the getting ready for work rituals are fast approaching and I'm getting that familiar feeling of dread which comes with having to prematurely drag my arse out of my warm and cosy bed on a Monday morning.  It's OK - only 5 days until the weekend. 

I've been productive this weekend.  I finished reading my book and started a new (well more like quite old) one on my side bar.  I really like it so far but then you can't go wrong with Judy Astley.
Pops got me Twenties Girl and Mini Shopaholic (both Sophie Kinsella) so am looking forward to reading them.

I wrote another short story to add to my growing supply (which sadly still unpublished but I'm still optimistic).

I got 2 rejections - one from People's Friend who would have received it Tuesday and got it back to me Thursday (fastest rejection EVER!!) and the other from Take a Break.  I have other markets in mind so I'm not beaten just yet.  And of course there's always the competitions.  Something I haven't done in a long while and which I mustn't forget provided me with my first published (albeit unpaid) short story.  I have 4 stories out there - all with The Weekly News so I am keeping everything crossed.

Good news is Lolly and I have found a flat.  It's lovely and if references all go well (hopefuly BFF didnt really say I'd just been released from prison - I haven't btw - its just her wicked SOH) we shall be moving once again in a matter of weeks.... hopefully that will be the last time I move... until I buy somewhere...but where... as if location is my only obstacle!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Branching Out

In a bid to keep myself busy (as if I'm not already being a little over-ambitious) I've started a new blog.  So far it's just an amalgamation of posts from this blog but I thought they deserved a home of their own.  So, if you've enjoyed my film reviews please go here for old and new.  I won't post them here anymore so I'd love it if you could bookmark the new site and take a look.

It's still a little hectic in my world what with writing and editing short stories - I will get one accepted before the year is out I will!  I'm finding it a little easier to rework rejected stories and with the comments from W2W I feel more confident to get them out there.

I'm still looking for somewhere to live and I only have a few weeks left eek!  If anyone has a furnished 2 bed flat in Sunbury they would like to let, please let me know!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Film Review: The Runaways

Stars: Kristin Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon
Running time: 106 minutes


This film is a biopic of the first teenage all-girl rock band who made it big back it the late 70's with hits such as 'Cherry Bomb' and 'Queens of Noise'. The film charts the first few years from the formation of the band right through to the trials involving drug addiction and fights within the band.

What I liked about The Runaways: the style, the music and Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart in roles a million miles off what I have seen before. As far as music biopics go it seemed quite short or perhaps not as in depth as I would have liked. I had read a little bit about the band when I had heard the film was being released last year which made me want to see more however it ended a little abruptly for me. I'd not heard any of the band's music before nor did I know anything about the band themselves - thankfully they didnt scrimp on the music or the costumes.

The film focuses mainly on band members Cherie Currie (Fanning) and Joan Jett (Stewart) from when the band was formed, to them getting signed by Mercury Records right through to Currie parting ways with the group and Jett releasing her first solo album.

Fanning makes the transition from child star to adult actor well and looks great as the lead singer of The Runaways. Stewart shows there is more to her than the Twilight films (and general all round powtiness - hey it works for Team Edward/Jacob so don't knock it).

In the film there is only one family back story which was for Cherie Currie, whose autobiography the film was based. This made for a more intimate insight into the character.

I would have like to have had one for Joan Jett also as there is an interesting character tale there, and one there was definitely room for.

My favourite quote from the film was from the band's Manager Kim Fowley played by Michael Shannon:

'The Runaways were... a conceptual rock project that failed.... Do I regret that they turned on me? No, I'm glad they turned on me. It shows spirit. If I'm training a wild dog, and the dog bites my hand, I know I've trained him well... '

A great film despite its scantiness, and a great soundtrack to boot!

7 out of 10

Thursday, 26 August 2010

What I've been getting up to (for those of you who don't see my random facebook updates)

Almost a month has gone by and I haven’t blogged (slaps wrist). Sorry for my silence but I’ve not had much to report really. I got a certificate through the post for the mini creative writing course that I did. Thanks to all who sent messages of congratulation of Facebook. Twas very lovely you! Of course you might not have seen me announce such things if we are not buds so please let me know if you want my FB name or give me yours and I’ll add you.

I hosted the last 2 coffee mornings over on the novel racers blog. I had some great feedback so if you haven’t seen my posts or the comments please visit the site.

In non writing related news I’m still packing and the other night I watched ex boyf cram all his worldly goods into his mary poppins handbag type car boot. I thought that would be hard to watch, it was but only because I was trying to watch the BB final and he kept leaving the front door open letting the cold air and noise in. We’ve come out of things unscathed and I don’t feel any bitterness at all. I’m just glad we’ve stayed friends, I know some ex couples aren’t so lucky.

Monday night I saw a spiritualist. Before that night I felt so lost, not knowing what the hell to do with myself. I had become unable to trust my instincts and make my own decisions. I’d kind of become a bit poor me and what’s the point. I had questions about life, love and my career.  She told me I would have 5 children (eek) and meet someone soon.  More importantly she told me I would be successful with my writing but that I needed to stop holding back and be more colourful.  I know some people think its all rubbish but she helped me find my way, like a kind of therapy.  Best of all I didn't have to pay for her time, so there was nothing untoward going on there.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Inspire and Mentor with Marie Claire

A couple of week's back I made my way up to 'That London' and attended the super glam offices of Marie Claire for a 'How to get Published' Seminar.  I didn't think I'd be dissapoined and I wasn't in the slightest.

After the free champers and canape's on the balcany overlooking fab views of London we all congregated into a well air conditioned room.  There in our seats we were greeted by a very well received goody bag of beauty products, Harriet's new book I Remember You (which she so kindly signed after), Marie Claire mag and a Jaeger purse.  Once we'd gotten over the excitment of the free stuff we stopped talking and paid attention.  This is a little break down of how it went:


Talk by Harriet Evans – Author

Harriets top 10 tips for getting your novel published

1. Work for it. Be serious.
2. Treat it like a separate job.
3. Think about your pitch to agents. Be able to say what its about. Don’t waffle in your letter because they don’t always read them.
4. Peak interest. Look like a commodity
5. Don’t expect it to change your life
6. Be prepared to rewrite it all
7. Get people to read and comment on your work
8. Read loads and loads and loads
9. Find writers you like and aim your work towards their agents. Find out who they are.
10. Do it for yourself and others second.


Talk by Jonathan Lloyd – CEO, Curtis Brown

Why are literary agents essential?

The publishing world is a jungle and there are very few retailers left; WH Smiths, supermarkets, amazon. This caused independent retailers to suffer.

There used to be 20 publishers you could offer a book to but now they are all under one cheque book. There is comfort in being represented by a company with power.

Most publishers don’t take unsolicited manuscripts.

Publishers will take work more seriously if from an agent than direct from yourself.

How to get an agent

Do your homework, know where to address your letter to. Learn the differences between various agencies through their websites.

Personalize your approach to an agent rather than sending the same letter to each agency.


Talk by Kate Espiner – Publishing Director, Harper Collins (works in the fiction department)

There are 6 commissioning editors publishing new authors.

They don’t take unsolicited work hence the need for an agent

Different mediums:
  1. Digital publishing
  2. Online publishing
  3. Self publishing

Remember!
  • Read read read
  • Write write write
  • Edit edit edit

 Talk by Carla Bevan – Associate Editor, Marie Claire

  • The Blogosphere is a great place to start.  “Blogging is a great way to hone your craft” says Carla.
  • Send a link to your blog and she will visit
  • Features editor – you should contact them to get articles published.
  • Start at building a portfolio with local newspapers and online mags before you try more famous publications
  • Tesco mag has a massive readership.

 Q & A

1. ‘The Help’ was rejected and is now doing well, discuss

Harriet admits as a publisher she rejected ‘Chocolat’, The Island and Labyrinth. She says she wasn’t the right publisher for those books at that time. "It happens but someone else will love your book and turn it into a best seller." says Harriet.

2. After 6 years Harriet became a full time writer. 'How did you make that transition from working at the day job to working as a writer full time?'

Once she was given a deal Harriet informed her boss and went to 4 days a week. She didn’t tell people the reason and noone even noticed. Holidays and weekends were spent working on the novel. This soon turned into a 3 day week in the office until eventually she was financially stable enough not to work. Harriet admits that she misses the office environment.

She puts a positive spin on the bad things in life like not having a boyfriend (a spin that was well needed!)

3. Do you agree that you need to be a celebrity to get published these days?

Harriet understands the celeb culture in writing these days but wholeheartedly believes that what it always comes down to is the quality.


Hope that was of some help to those of you (namely newbie writers) who need a bit of advice.  It really helped me and made me feel better about my work and those dreaded R's.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Down but most definitely not out

This is a hard post to write for me. It not something I have to write or that people would expect me to share but when I started this blog almost 3 years ago (eek) I wrote that it would be about life and love and when the worst is happening to write about it. So here I am. I thought July was going to be my month, work would have calmed down (which it did to a tedious level – but I’m not complaining there at all), I would start hearing back from the womags – not necessarily expecting them to beat my door down to buy stories but some feedback from real live editors would really spur me on. Life would just be better – or so I thought. This week I received not one, not two but three short story rejections – one of which was a silent rejection from That’s life Australia so not all bad but still a rejection nonetheless. I also received one two weeks ago today from The Weekly News. Quite possibly the nicest rejection ever but at quite possibly the worst time. That day my boyfriend and I broke up. I am of course sad to lose someone I’ve shared my life with for 6 years but also so much happier that the pressure of trying to make things work (from both sides) has disappeared and we can just get on being great friends. So now comes the stress of moving again in a month (we are still co habiting – which actually makes things easier as I don’t have the heartache of not seeing him so suddenly). So there you have it. Things got really crap for a while there but I have to look forward – it's time for a fresh start and to get more work out there. I only have one story out there with Yours and I can feel the rejection writing itself (sorry for the pessimism – I’ll try and rein it in a little). I also have great plans for next year – which I shall reveal should I get good news. I did get some fab news this week – that my brother and his girlfriend are going to have a little girl in December (hurrah I shall be an aunty finally!!). I couldn’t be more over the moon, a little baby in the family that I get to give back when she starts crying! So there you have it – sorry for not commenting/blogging for so long but I just had to feel sorry for myself for a bit and take time for myself. I am still writing of course – thanks to W2W, the only thing right now keeping me writing.

I also went to a How to Get Published Seminar which was brilliant and shall blog about this weekend.

Thanks for listening!

Lily
x

Friday, 2 July 2010

Film Review: Get him to the Greek

Stars: Russel Brand, Jonah Hill, P Diddy

A small cast but a stellar one and it didn’t just rely on sick humour to get you through the 120 minutes. I was quite peeved because the film times for Wednesday (orange Wednesday baby) are a bit rubbish and I feared I’d be pining for my bed after about an hour. It was not just funny but cleverly hilarious. For those of you who have seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall you will know that this is a spin off about the character Aldous Snow played by Russell Brand. Jonah Hill plays Aaron Green, a young record company exec who is entrusted by his manager (P Diddy) to fly to London and ensure Snow makes it in time for the 10 year anniversary concern at the Greek Theatre in LA. A move to make millions for the record company and revive Snow's flagging career. What ensues is a not so tedious but hilarious battle to get Aldous to where he needs to be whist enjoying a 'Jeffrey', some furry wall stroking, late night partying (including a cameo from a certain Harry Potter villain), plane hopping and even a few poignant moments where you see a bit more to the troubled rock star. It’s not a complicated plot and doesn’t require you to think very hard but that’s not the aim here. The film makes for a great night out and judging by the roars of laughter emanating from the audience it’s safe to say other people are of the same opinion.

Brand is excellent once again as the debauched character but is most defininately not the only reason to watch. Jonah Hill is as funny and awkward as ever and the two make a great double act as the straight and funny comedy act . P Diddy for me is shining star here, I wasn’t aware of his great comic timing and the script writers quite rightly gave him some stonking one liners which were delivered with gusto.

A definite must see!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Becoming a student

I have FINALLY bitten the bullet and booked a writing course.  This will be the first writing course I've signed up to (if you exclude the one day freelance course I did) and I am super excited.  I had originally planned to take a Novel and Short Story writing course with The Writers Bureau but then I decided to take a look at the OU.  Not sure why I hadn't looked on their site before really.  Anyways I am going to take the Start Writing Fiction course which is a three month course starting in October and it is with the aim to start writing short stories better than I do as I feel I tend not to have any discipline or follow any kind of structure.  My writing becomes quite confusing as a result and I know it could be a lot better given some more help and advice.  I will see how it progresses and then who knows, I may even study for a Diploma but right now I am itching to get started and can't wait until October.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Caroline Smailes - Like Bees to Honey new widget

OK so if you, like me, were totally addicted to Stray's Black Boxes widget (below right) then you will love the new one.  Stray has now created, to coincide with the launch of Caroline Smailes new fantastic book Like Bees to Honey, a fab new widget to the right of this blog post.  It works in a similar way to the Black Boxes widget where by answering questions you can makes lots of new bee friends.  I now have 10 which I think is pretty good (I have been playing for a while now).  You can ask questions too, mine being:

'To bee or not to bee'

Sorry, couldn't resist!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Another award!!

Yay me, the lovely Gaelikaa has awarded me ‘The Prolific Blogger award’. Gaelikaa is among a great new group of bloggers I have found through Womag2Weekly which I joined when it was set up in the new year. You can find her here and here.

There are a few rules that come attached to this award:


Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers.

Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.

Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.

Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky so that we all can get to know the other.

I wish to pass on the award to the following seven bloggers:

Qwerty Queen
Spiral Skies
Writing at the Window
Get on with It
Debs - Daydreams in the Shed
Not Only in Thailand
Chez Aspie - DJ Kirkby's blog

Friday, 18 June 2010

How to Get Published evenings

Just a quick post as I am on hols and don't have long to spend on here but I just wanted to let you all know about Marie Claire's How to Get Published evenings.


They are taking place next month in various cities across the UK, with London being host on 20 July and I am definitely going.  Well I have paid anyway (I was a bit thrown by one of the comments saying it was sold out but it let me buy a ticket).
As part of the evening you will get the chance to meet author Harriet Evans in person, alongside a panel of experts, and discover what it really takes to get your name in print.

The events are 2 hours long starting at 6.30pm so is 9-5 friendly.  It gives me just enough time to get up there and hopefully learn something.  The tickets are very reasonable at only £20 which includes champagne, canapés and a fabulous goodie bag, including a copy of I Remember You.

I think that makes for a pretty good evening.  If you're interested you can buy your tickets here:

http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/features/343907/how-to-get-published.html

Saturday, 12 June 2010

An Award and some things you may not know about me

A huge thanks to the lovely Debs for this award. I love getting awards so this really made my day. Debs is the Editor for Little Black Dress Thursdays at Novelicious.  Her fab book reviews can be found here.


As per the award rules I must list 10 facts that you didn’t know about me and pass them on to other bloggers. I’ll try and list something completely exclusive but if you’ve heard about it on here or on facebook I apologise and I promise not to make anything up…I hope!


1. I live with my boyfriend of 6 years. He is very supportive of my writing (mainly because it means he can play Call of Duty on the X-box without me trying to talk to him.

2. I can read and write short hand. It has come in no use whatsoever but I’d like to think it will someday.

3. I once went for an admin job at MI6. I didn’t get it which is just as well as I am the most indiscreet person you will ever meet. I can keep a secret but I am just very loud!

4. I am tone deaf yet somehow I made the school choir. I also got picked along with other less vocally challenged school friends to sing at a local nightclub when I was about 10. We sang ‘Any dream will do’ with a male stripper for a charity event (don’t worry he didn’t strip).

5. I would quite like Italy to win the World Cup. I got them in the sweepstake at work so am in with a chance of winning £100 (although it would be super cool if England win).

6. I’m totally short sighted. I once mistook my sister for a parking meter. I hate wearing glasses and when I’ve been on a night out and have worn contacts I always wake up the next morning in a blind panic (excuse the pun) because I can’t remember taking them out.

7. If I won the lottery I would still continue in my quest to sell a short story to a womag. It’s not the money but it would be cool if my work was that good someone wanted to pay me for it. I would also love to go to Uni and study Creative Writing. I know I would never need work again but I love writing that much.

8. I hate flying. It makes me nervous and prompts all the following questions in me – what have I forgotten? Can I use the toilet yet? Why does the person next to me keep checking their watch? When is the food coming round? When will you let me off this sodding plane?

9. I have never broken a single bone in my body. I put that down to my lack of adventure as a child and my love of dairy milk.

10. I have super powers – OK just kidding but I have run out of interesting facts if you can call the above interesting. I suppose I could mention what I do for a living (snooze). I work for an IT Company in the Contracts and Compliance Department. I like it some days and other days I hate it. It’s not always easy to do the job properly when deals need to be done quickly and then there’s my total lack of ability to speak anything other than English and on bad days complete nonsense.

I'd like to nominate the following five brilliant bloggers:

David
Suzanne
Gaelikaa
JJ
Carol

Monday, 7 June 2010

A busy old week

Last week as the title suggests was really quite a busy one... and a good one.  The bank holiday weekend was spent in Swindon watching the men cook up a bbq and then forage for fire wood.  Boyf and I spent Bank Holiday Monday watching my very best friend and her fella get married.  We spent the night in this beautiful old Manor House where we skipped breakfast and opted to spend our Tuesday off lying in and having a breakfast of tea and complimentary cookies.  These were soon worked off in my Body Pump class which I have only just recovered from - I didn't realise I had quite so many muscles to annoy.  Sadly it was back to work on Wednesday, Thursday brought a bbq for my neices birthday for which I received just in time my copy of Stunt Bunny: Showbiz Sensation by Tamsyn Murray.  It would seem she's a little too young to read herself so I shall take great pleasure in reading it to her.  Saturday I spent sizzling on Brighton beach with Lolly before heading off for a late afternoon wedding where 2 of my very good friends also tied the knot.  The gorgeous food I have consumed has played havoc with my waistline and as a result I have been suffering from chronic heartburn - me thinks my body wants a word no?

Somehow in amongst all of these wonderful (and tiring) goings on I still managed to find time to get in my short story for my fortnightly writing group.  It was received better than all of my previous stories so I was really pleased with that.  It was a Halloween piece which with the helpful comments I received from the other members I was able to rework and send off to Jill at The Weekly News today.  Fingers have been glued cross (which makes for difficult typing so am going to stop now)

Have fab tomorrows everyone

x

Monday, 24 May 2010

Roll on June

It's been a busy couple of weeks with more stresses and strains in the work place leaving me little time to write/comment/post.  I hate that.  My manager who replaced the manager who is on sabbatical has now left and I am alone again and trying not to break.  Sabbatical boss will be back in 4 weeks which will leave me feeling a lot less agitated and much more focused on writing when I get in from work. 

In my bid to destress/lose my writers body/train for race4life/heal my back I have joined the gym (yes you really did just read that!).  I am loving it and I am feeling a lot more energised when I get home and sleeping very well.  I have lost a couple kgs already, clothes are yet to fit properly though - that maybe a good excuse to go shopping!  I went to my first physio session in months at the weekend (insurance co. have agreed to 3 more - I am seriously sick of them now) and I have been given plank work to do and as a result I feel like I have been kicked in the ribs.  Still, only 2 more sessions left and the whole car accident nightmare should be over.  The training for Race4Life is going well and we are only £5 off target so I am very pleased about that.  I am feeling good things for June - no work stress, some time off, no more physio, my clothes may hit and hey - I might even get around to starting my writing course!!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Feeling Funktastic - but I'm over it now

Where does the time go I ask you?   I had fully intended to blog on Friday.  I was in good spirits, that was until I got home and saw the A4 envelope waiting for me.  My story rejected by Peoples Friend for being too weak.  It smarted and it set me deep into a funk.  I'm fine now though, I've sent  a (different) story out to Take a Break Fiction Feast.  This is my favourite of all the womags and the first time I have subbed to them so I am a little nervous about it.  It's out there now so I just have to get on with other things while I try to ward off the postie bringing me more bad news.

The weekend passed by in a blur.  Friday I went to see a great band with boyf and some friends and had a few too many vinos.  I woke up early Saturday morning to discover someone (I don't know who) had hung all of my washing on the line from the night before.  Boyf swears it wasn't him, which I can believe so I can only deduce it was the elves.  Still one less thing I had to do before my sister picked me up for an all day hen party in Brighton.  Unfortunately by 9.30 pm the cocktails and the bad kareoke had taken its toll so me and my sister headed back to our hotel to watch (very poor) Saturday night telly.  Sunday I got back and enjoyed short stories a plenty from my writing group which just get better each fortnight.

Tonight I will start a new story for Womag 2 Weekly, not leaving it till last minute like the last one.  Although saying that I struggled for ideas on the last one and I can't help feeling it was my best one yet!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

It's been a productive week

It's been a week since my last post and I'm pleased to say that its been a productive one.  The weekend was spent in the garden with the manuscript which I have split into 4 folders for ease of reading.  Part one of four is currently covered in red pen and black might I add as I wrote a scene which I was quite pleased with.  I started writing the novel with one main character in mind but I felt she needed someone else there, not just as a secondary best friend type character but as a strong lead who she can learn from.  That was the reason for the extra scene as in the beginning there isn't a great deal about character 2.

This week so far I have sent out three womag stories so now I have 6 stories out there and 2 left to rewrite and sub.  I now have to work on a story for the next fortnight and as such I am drawing a complete blank.  I spent last night visiting various places such as Inspiration Corner and the S/Cally Generator and even here which I quite like but I wasn't getting anywhere.  I think the problem was I was proper knackered last night and ended up retiring to bed at 9.30pm!! - its this healthy eating kick I'm on which means no choc :-(

Anyway I won't lose heart - the generators have worked for me before and I have my Womag 2 Weekly prompts so I am going to try again tomorrow night.  Tonight I am off out to a Thai restaurant for my Dad's birthday.  They do delicious food here http://www.patchareethai.com/patmenu1.html  mmmmm must stop reading menu and drooling.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Why you shouldn't read interesting articles whilst waiting for your bus....

Not the fun packed email I mentioned in the last post but today has been a strange old day.  I spent 3 hours of my work day sitting in an empty office listening to the distant sounds of a fire alarm being drowned out by my mp3 player.  Then when they (not sure who 'they' are) finally managed to stop the alarm we had to endure power cuts a plenty. 
I escaped the madness of the office and picked up a copy of Writers Forum.  I was engrossed in an article  by Amanda Brittany about Writing Groups (including Womag2Weekly - yay we are famous!) whilst at the bus stop later today when I looked up to see my bus leaving without me and my magazine!

No writing tonight as I spent the best part of the evening clearing out the spare room so that I can get a desk in there.  It's a lovely cosy warm room and I can't wait to be able to sit at computer at a proper desk instead of slouching in bed. 

Anyways I am all ready for the weekend.  The novel is printed and I have stolen borrowed some red pens from work so now all that's left is for me to get out the sun lounger and wait for the weekend.  I just hope the sun keeps up his end of the bargain!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

And send....

I managed once again to press that Oh so scary send button on my computer (actually its on the screen but whatever!)

I subbed a story to That's Life Australia this very eve and it's a story I really really like.  I just hope they like it even more and want to buy it!

No updates really.  I finished reading Fishbowl today which I really enjoyed.  I am now reading Light as a Feather by Helen Dunne.

I have no shorties to work on at the mo as the deadline for womag 2 weekly is tomorrow so I shall spend the weekend working on the novel.  It will go out this year if it kills me!

I plan on getting more stories subbed in between the novel.  I have one for Peoples Friend and a few for TABFF.  I need to check how many I can send at once though.

Sorry for the scanty post but theres not much going on except for the writing and subbing at the mo. 

Hopefully I'll have a more fun packed post next time!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Back in the saddle

Yes more terrible sayings ahoy...

I am back on the horse.  I have resubbed my rejected story today to Woman's Weekly.  I very much doubt it will be accepted (yes confidence knocked quite a bit but they are a tough market).  Why did I chose WW I hear you cry?  Well my reasons are threefold:

1. I checked out the guidelines on Womag's blog and I saw at least 3 times a mention of them willing to accept crime/mystery stories.
2. I was going to sub to TABFF as I know they sometimes run a 'crime time' story but I already have 2 stories I want to sub there and I don't want to bombard them.
3. This reason is quite a lazy one.  I had already subbed to The Weekly News who require double quotes for speech as do WW so it seemed silly to change to single for TABFF and then back again.

In other news I have dusted off the novel that has been resting since October.  It's very daunting but the foundations have been laid and now I just have to build on them (that was the last one I promise)

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

It had to happen some time...

I got my first rejection today.  The story I had submitted to The Weekly News last month was put out of its misery with a short but sweet no thank you.  It is a very good thing that I spend half an hour last night reading 'Your Writing Coach' - the section on rejection and how even publishers had rejected Harry Potter before it hit mega sales and people went Harry, Ron and Hermione mad.
I won't let it get me down.  I know you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette and many other cheesy clichés such as that so I shall get back on the horse and not put all my eggs into one basket. 

Also, with the best intentions, I have drawn up a work planner to see what can be fitted in and where.  I have stuck to it so far getting the balance between writing, blogging and reading in there as well as free time.  There's loads I haven't managed to work in there but I'm sure things will get easier and who knows maybe one day I may get that 3 day weekend.

I'm sure there was more stuff I had to say but I'll be back tomorrow (it's in the timetable), that and Shameless is on 'PAAARTYYYY' 

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Beatiful Blogger Award

Sorry for the bad bloggage of late.  There's not really been a lot of news on the writing front.  Work has been hectic and my holiday feels like a million years ago.  Luckily I have planned the next trip away.  Myself, boyf and my parents are off to Jersey for four days in June.  I am looking forward to the long weekend and of course we have family there so it will be lovely to see them again.

Today I got a lovely fresh new book in the post.   Your Writing Coach - Jurgen Wolff which I saw advertised over on Calistro's blog.  I had some points on my Waterstones card so it only ended up costing me about £3.  I had a quick read on my bus ride home and I think that's £3 very well spent.  I'll keep you posted on what I learn from reading it.

Also, and this brought a smile to my face while waiting for the bus this morning checking my emails.  The lovely Suzanne has awarded me The Beautiful Blogger Award:


In getting this I can pass this on to ten other bloggers so here goes:

1. Calistro -  I have learnt so much from her blog
2. Debs - for having the most awesome shed I have ever seen!
3. Karen - for always writing side splitting posts and her help with my first womag story
4. Amanda - for setting up the wonder that is Womag 2 Weekly
5. DJ Kirkby - for liking my captions and making me laugh with wild and wonderful pictures every Wednesday
6. Carol - for displaying beautiful works of art and sharing her recipes
7. Emily - for never giving up and for her great column over at novelicious
8. Suzanne - I know she gave this to me but I want to award her with it for her great comments and stories on W2W.
9. Womag Writer - My go to blog whenever I want to sub a story.  I love her blog!
10. Colette - another fellow W2W.  A great critiquer and writer.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Having a lovely time...

Well except of course for right this minute where I am listening to football chat where I haven't the slightest clue what anything means.  Boyf is watching the Pompey/Chelsea game while I have sat here dutifully not asking which team is which, drunk my wine and been glued to my net book (which I am secretly loving).   So far in the time that a bunch of wet blankets have managed to kick a ball in a net* I have managed to finish and send my story for womag 2 weekly, sink an entire glass of wine, make a new friend, ignore some football chatter, facebook some friends and read up on blog posts.  Not bad for 45 minutes work - and no injuries whatsoever.  I know who the real winner is here!!

So yes, here I am in sunny Cyprus for the third time in 2 years and I still love it.  This time we decided to visit Paphos where it is pretty quiet but the weather is glorious and the sea, just a stones throw from our hotel, is a silky blue bed of come get me heaven and the sun never fails to give me a nice warm hug whenever I step outside in the morning.  I haven't ventured in the sea though as despite the sun leaving me with burnt bits here and there, the water is still bloody freezing.  Just 2 and a bit days left and I feel properly chilled.  Car insurance paperwork and scrapped cars are but a distant memory but I know it can't last forever.  I may stay here forever.  Call it research....

*Apologies to any hard core footballers/fans - I just cannot stand being a football widow!!!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Saturday 20 March 11am - 5pm - Picador Day

Just had the following info from one of my writing groups.  Sadly I shall be jetting off  to Cyprus that day so can't make it but thought you might be interested:

Saturday 20 March 11am - 5pm

The Gallery at Foyles, 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EB

Picador Day

In association with leading literary imprint Picador, we invite you to spend the day with top authors and publishing insiders as they discuss literature from all angles.

11am - 12pm Family and Self
Things are getting personal in the first session of the day, as our panel of authors discuss the ways writers bring their nearest and dearest into their work, and reflect on literature's greatest fictional families. With:

Jackie Kay

Jon Ronson

Kate Clanchy

William Fiennes

Abi Grant


12.30pm - 1.30pm Writing of Place
How do you conjure up the spirit of a place in writing? And how important is the setting in shaping a work of literature? Our four literary explorers will attempt to find out. With:

Graham Robb

William Fiennes

Jim Crace

Charles Lambert


1.30pm - 2.30pm Break


2.30pm - 3.30pm Poetry and Beyond
How easy it for a writer of prose to create poetry? And what happens when a poet decides to put verse to one side? Discover the answers with our multi-talented panel. With:

Kate Clanchy

Jacob Polley

Jackie Kay

Gerard Woodward

Paul Farley

(chaired by Don Paterson)


4pm - 5pm Becoming a Writer
If you've ever dreamed of getting published then our final panel, including freshly published debut novelists and experienced creative writing teachers, will guide you through the whole process, from writing your first sentence to seeing your book on the shelves. With:

Gerard Woodward

Trezza Azzopardi

Ben Myers

Simon Lelic

Naomi Wood

(chaired by Paul Baggaley)


Tickets are £18/£15 concessions covering admission to all four sessions. Tickets include a goody bag. - I AM SO GUTTED I CAN'T GO!!!!

http://www.foyles.co.uk/events.asp?#picador

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Here in my car...

So following my accident back in December it has only taken my insurance company Diamond 3 months to inform me that my car 'Maisy' is a Total Loss.  I am gutted.  My Dad bought me my Peugeot 106 for my 21st and now sadly 8 years later I have to say goodbye.  I am very upset.

As the accident was not my fault I have been supplied with a courtesy car until my money comes through.

So in the space of 1 day I have gone from a red Peugeot 106 with a pink bonnet, rattling exhaust and mouldy windows

to this.....

I don't want to sound ungrateful but I really don't like it.  It's too new and shiny for my liking.  The brakes work too well which means I pratically hit my head on the dashboard every time I even so much as tap the brake pedal.  It's too smooth a ride and its unnerving.  I miss driving in my tin can and being able to feel every bump in the road and actually being able to hear the engine.  It has power steering though and OMG I have never parked so quickly in my life!!

No writing news today as this whole car business has been stressing me out.  I will get on with my story for my short story group tomorrow.  I bought two magazines today, Yours and Peoples Friend.  I might try and aim for these markets but I need to take a look first as I know they are aimed at an older market.  The stories look eye catching to me though so I might be able to try my hand at this market.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

About time too!

No I haven't been published, nor have I received a massive cheque for any amazing stories I may have written.  I know it's a long time coming but that isn't my news.

WE HAVE INTERNET!!!

Only 3 months late but I'm not one to complain...much.  Normal blogging/commenting/surfing/procrastinating shall resume.  I am slightly afraid that my writing will suffer as a result of me now having the gift of website surfage but I shall try and be good.  I can now start my course...well after I get back from holiday at the end of March.

I now have another womag story 'out there'.  One at My Weekly and the other with the Weekly News which I sent yesterday.  I did receive an immediate response from the Editor but only to tell me I'd hear back in around a month. Not sure if that's a good thing but I won't dwell, I shall just work on more stories for my short story group Womag 2 Weekly and get them out into the big wide world.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

I hate Sky!

So it's now been 2 months and still counting that boyf and I have been waiting for Sky to pull their fingers out of their arses (pardon the phrase) and sort us out with some much needed internet.  I shouldn't complain, I have been leant a dongle which, albeit it painfully slow and limited, is an absolute godsend.  I also have mobile internet but it makes it difficult to view blogs and can also be slow at times.
We were assured out router would arrive and a switch would be flicked by 17th February.  This, as we suspected, did not happen and now we are being told this will not happen until 1st March.  So there, I hate Sky and will not be recommending them to anyone in a hurry.  The service is p*ss poor and we are in a long list of unhappy customers.  I had to laugh when boyf asked the customer service advisor (if that's what they can call themselves):

Boyf: 'Does this sort of thing happen all the time or is it just us getting treated like this?'
CSA: 'Oh no Sir it happens all the time'

So that makes it all OK then!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Catching Up

Thanks to all those being patient with me right now.  I've not been blogging or commenting a lot recently due to still not having normal speed or regular internet access but fingers crossed it will be sorted this Wednesday.

Since my last post this is whats been happening:

- I FINALLY treated myself to a netbook.  I love it.  Its got up to 7 hours battery so I can go out with it without fear it will run low in the space of an hour.  It also plays movies really well so I can watch movies when I'm not writing on long journeys.  I just need to get used to typing on it!

 - My insurance company finally came through and I am getting some treatment for my bad back. I had acupuncture yesterday which I personally didn't really like but I'll try anything if it helps.  I have been told I can't go running but I can sign up for this years race 4 life so I am feeling confident about feeling better soon.

- My writing is going well.  I'm hoping to start the novel rewrite soon but for now I have been concentrating on writing stories for Womag 2 Weekly.  I love the group, the critiques and reading some really great stories.  I am planning to sub some stories next week once they have been through a final edit.

- I took part in Womag Writer's magazine swap.    I received 2 Australian womags which I intend to study well before getting some stories down under! Thank you Womag and Claire!

- Work has calmed down a lot and I feel a lot less stressed out.  I scored well in my appraisal on Friday and it turns out that arguing with my boss pays off.  He said it showed him how much I care about my work and that made me feel a lot better.  He also gave me some really good advice which I can apply to my writing which is to set myself achievable goals and to break things down into half hour segments.  I also need to be realistic about my goals and to tick things off to get a sense of achievement.  He also told me to take a cigarette break to access situations but as I don't smoke I might just ignore that but I get his point. It's all about time management and writing this blog post is something I can tick of my list.  I'm now off to get tea and a muffin (that's a very achievable goal for me).

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Teeny Tag Post

Just a quickie as the ongoing tinternet saga continues and I have a short story to get written.  (I am also off out in a bit for a spot of Birthday Bowling).

I have been tagged by Debs.  The rules are:


1. Name a song that makes you happy - This is a tough one as there are so many songs that have a positive effect on me.  Most recently a friend at work thought that Adele's Chasing Pavements was meant to be Chasing Payments.  We quickly adopted this as our theme song while doing credit control.

2. Post an image that makes you smile - This photo makes me smile as it has to be one of the most special times in my life.  The first of my siblings to tie the knot this made me really proud to have him as my brother.  Awww all growed up (gets all choked just thinking about it).


I shall tag Colette to carry this MeMe on.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

What's on your page 69?

Just a quicky post as dinner is almost ready (mmmm boyf is making home-made burgers) and I am still having tinernet issues.

I wanted to share with you something I heard on Saturday Kitchen on ermm Saturday.  Laila Rouass of Footballer's wives fame was on the show and shared with chef James Martin that if you want to see if a book is going to be good to turn to page 69 and if you like what you read there then you will probably enjoy the whole thing.  Interesting I thought.  Whats on page 69 of my book I wondered?  So I loaded up the dusty old word document and what was going on there?

A crucial page turning part of my story!!! My main character gets a letter from someone and it's a stonker.  I won't say anymore but it's a real page turner I can assure you!! So what's going on in your page 69?  Maybe your own WIP or just the book you're reading now?  Or even a fave book?  Be interesting if this works!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Crazy week and awards

It's been a funny couple of weeks.  Work wise it's been a nightmare.  I won't go into detail but things are going on that are putting me to the test and stressing me out no end.  I was pretty fed up on Thursday and actually contemplated quitting.  Friday was another day though and after a heart to heart with my manager I am feeling a lot better. I don't know how long this will last though but I can only hope things get better.
At home things are going well.  I'm trying not to nag my boyfriend out of our first home together and he (I am assured) is not leaving wet towels on the floor on purpose.  I still only have limited internet until (fingers crossed) the end of this month.  This dongle I have been leant is a life saver but unfortunately pages load at a snails pace and my impatience kicks in pretty quickly. 
We have a holiday booked so there is something to look forward to and I have already started packing the sun lotions (not going away until the end of March)!

Writing wise it is going well.  I owe it all to Amanda for setting up Womag 2 Weekly because without that I probably wouldn't do any.  I am working on a story with a genre I have never tried before or thought I would enjoy so much.  Who knew!

Also, to round the week off nicely I won 2 awards.  This one from the wonderful DJ Kirkby:


And this one from the lovely Colette:






  This one I have to pass on so I pass this to all on my blog roll cuz i think you all have lovely blogs!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a lovely break. I did and from blogging. Only kidding. I have really missed this but I’ve barely had time to catch my breath. I’ve had a house move, been crazy-busy at work, writing and posting coffee breaks on the NR blog, and writing and commenting on Womag 2 Weekly. It’s all been hectic but I’ve somehow managed to keep the writing going so I am really pleased about this. Also in amongst all the madness me and boyf took a 3 day trip to Edinburgh over xmas. For anyone whose thinking of visiting or if you’d just like to hear about my trip allow me to share.
We got a 2 day Edinburgh Pass which cost £36 per adult. With the amount there is to do there this is a real bargain. We were going to do a bus tour as included in the EP is a £2 off ticket for the open top tours. The reasons we ended up passing on this is three-fold. Firstly it was way too cold, secondly we were short on time and thirdly we had already seen quite a lot.

Mercat Tours

Free of charge for those with an EP there are plenty of different tours to choose from here. The staff in the ticket office just off the Royal Mile were really friendly and we decided to go on the Historic Vaults Tour. Our very friendly tour guide took us and 6 others (they usually have groups of 30 but it was quiet this time of year) under the South Bridge and around the authentic 18th Century Vaults. There we learnt why they were created and who used them as well as hearing all about the notorious Body Snatchers. The guide also made me jump out of my skin on various occasions with her creepy stories.

The Stand Comedy Club
Holders of the EP get 25 % of tickets to comedy nights. We went on the Sunday night where we saw Tom Stade, Joe Heenan and Mark Nelson. We got in about an hour and a half before the show starts and the only seats left were at the front of the club. We were practically sat on the stage. The host was hilarious and had me crying with laughter even when she zoned in on us and ripped the absolute piss. Luckily I am good at laughing at myself.

The Writers Museum
This was the place I really wanted to see and was really surprised that it was free entry. I was convinced it was £10 entry. A very inspiring place and a few humourous things for writers in the gift shop.

The Shops
I live in London so there wasn’t really anything I hadn’t seen before. There were a few tourist shops that sold all things tartan.

Edinburgh Castle
We went up in the hope of seeing the one o’ clock gun go off although unfortunately we were queuing for about half an hour and missed it. We asked when we got through the ticket stalls why we hadn’t heard anything and it turns out the gun had frozen so hadn’t gone off. Plenty of different things to see from the Prisons of War Cells to great views of Edinburgh.

Camera Oscura
Again free for all EP holders this was probably the best place we went. A tough walk up but you get to have a little sit down when you get to the top and look at people walking around outside from a table in a dark room. You even get to pick those people up and squash them with a bit of card. The World of Illusion rooms are really interesting and a lot of fun and makes the long walk down a lot more bearable. I would actually do them on the way up if I went again. There’s no difference really – just easier on the legs.

Edinburgh Dungeon
I really didn’t want to go in here as I had visited the chambers in Madam Tussauds which has Live actors. This was just as terrifying with more of a story from each actor. They don’t just chase you round trying to nick your handbag (like those in MT). There were 2 rides included, one was the boat ride where water trickles on you from above and you are left sat in the dark in the middle of an indoor river for about 5 minutes. The other ride was called Extremis which is meant to simulate the Grassmarket noose. Luckily, due to my bad back, I was excused but I had to stand alone in the dark for what seemed like an age. I wouldn’t go again but if you like a good scare, you’ll love this. Tip: if you are easily frightened try not to appear so as the actors will zone in on this as I later learned.

Carlton Hill
Bit of a struggle this one as we had to walk up a steep icy hill. The top of the tower gives great views of the town. You need strong legs for this one!

3D Loch Ness
Does Nessie really exist? Watch this 3D video of eye witness accounts, photos and illusions and judge for yourself. We started off with this as it was snowing and only took up about 25 mins.

Pubs
We weren’t too impressed with the service in the places we went to have food. We went to The Filling Station on the Royal Mile where we ordered a simple meal of burger and chips and it took nearly an hour and one reminder to get our food. Still the food was nice and the atmosphere was lovely.

I can't remember the name of the pub but the one right opposite the Hotel Ibis where we stayed served us our food within 5 minutes of ordering but was unfortunately a bit chewy. Clearly precooked hours before I wouldn’t recommend the food here. Still, this one was of few pubs that were showing the football.

Food
I couldn’t visit Scotland without trying some good old Scottish Haggis, neeps and tatties. This was delicious, nothing too fancy although a bit too much pepper was used.

Airport Tranfer
We were given free airport transfer with our Edinburgh Pass which was a saving of £7.50 either way.

John Knox House at the Scottish Story Telling Centre.
We didn’t attend any story reading here as there was only one which we missed but we took a look around the museum. There wasn’t a whole lot to look at but interesting nonetheless.