Tuesday, May 31, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 14 - After the petals have fallen

Losing a child is one of the most horrific things that can happen to a parent, if not the most horrific thing.
My eldest son died on the 9th of November 2007. I blog about that over here.

After the petals have fallen, is where Geves blogs about life after their daughter Juliette died from leukemia.
Unless you have lost a child, I can assure you that you have no idea what it is like. I can assure you that no matter how far your imagination can stretch, it cannot stretch that far, because no where in any human mind can you imagine a place so dark, so deep, so desperate until you actually end up there.

Be kind to people who have suffered such a tragic loss. Do not say things like "he/she is now in a better place, at least you have other children, I don't know how you cope!, I could never manage..." The list of what not to do and say goes on and on. It's not just the child's death that is so terrible, it's also the devastation of a future that will never be fulfilled.

Go over to After the petals have fallen and gain some insight and understanding to what it is like when a child dies.


Monday, May 30, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 13 - 5+4x4

No - this 5+4x4 is not a maths question. Thank heavens, because I don't do those!

This blog is about Fiona and Pieter van Aswegen and their 3 children; Mara, Archie and Euan, a South African family living in Scotland, taking a year off to go travelling in their 4x4 from Scotland to South Africa via France, Cairo, Sudan, other strange and dodgy destinations, all by car, with kids getting nits, malaria, gastro and then of course washing clothes in a tiny bucket, trading bicycles for accommodation, home schooling and keeping everyone happy is all part of this extraordinary journey.

I can't help but admire them - I struggle to go away with my kids for a weekend to Legoland.
This takes some doing!

5+4x4 is a very interesting read indeed. http://www.5plus4x4.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 29, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 12 - Pub Rants

 I would really love to hang around and chat, but I can't. I have a lunch date with a roast leg of lamb and fantastic friends. So - here for your Sunday reading is Pub Rants.

Kristen is an literary agent, so it's not actually pubs as in the drinking places that she's ranting about - it's publishing, writing, queries and all that kind of stuff. Interesting stuff, useful stuff..... Excellent information! Read it!

Okay - I'm dashing off now to go and have an awesome time.
Chat again tomorrow....


Saturday, May 28, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 11 - Talli Roland

Talli Roland is author of The Hating Game - which by the way has had fantastic reviews.

Chick Lit Reviews said: I really found myself blown away with Talli's debut novel The Hating Game. She's a fantastic story-teller and I really can't wait to see what's next as she has the potential to become a huge chick lit star. 

So watch this space - Talli's on the up, with her next book Watching Willow Watts coming out in November 2011. She also writes the 24 Hours travel guides under the name Marsha Moore.

Talli thoroughly enjoys reading The Daily Mail, but can get very cross with them too. Read about that over here. I'm with Talli on that one, though. The Daily Mail was bloody rude to say the least.

Word on the street is she's an awesome lady - whether she's Talli Roland or Marsha Moore.


Friday, May 27, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 10 - Penelope Trunk

Don't be put off by Penelope's very proffessional sounding resumé. She's funny, a great writer and her frank discussions about Asperger Syndrome is refreshing.

Penelope Trunk is CEO of Brazen Careerist, a career management tool for next-generation professionals. This is her third startup. Each company Penelope built was focused on a community. Her own career path has had twists and turns and in a world where straight, safe career paths are nowhere to be had, Penelope appreciates the power of managing oneself through community.

Penelope's career began in Los Angeles, where she played professional beach volleyball. She then went to graduate school for English. During that time she learned HTML which allowed her to get a job in the marketing department at Ingram Micro.

After a stint in the Fortune 500, she went to a few smaller software companies and then started her own company, Math.com, a math-tools resource for the teaching community funded by Encore Software. She sold that company for a small sum, and founded eCitydeals, an online auction service for city governments, which was funded by Shelter Ventures, and was shut down in the dot-com bust.

During this time, Penelope wrote a column for Business 2.0 magazine about her experiences as a startup founder. She relocated to New York City and after only a few months at her next startup, she found herself a block from the World Trade Center when it fell.

She decided to be a full-time writer so she did not have to leave her apartment. And she focused on giving career advice instead of writing about herself. At that point, generation Y was entering the workforce and they were looking for advice to tell them how to steer a career that accommodates their lives: old career advice was irrelevant to them.

Penelope started writing career advice for a new generation of workers. Today Penelope is the author of a bestselling career advice book for generation y and the number one career blog.

She explains why old advice - like pay your dues, climb the ladder, and don't have gaps in your resume - is outdated and irrelevant in today's workplace. She has a reputation for giving advice that is counterintuitive but effective, like take long lunches, ignore people who steal your ideas, and stop vying for a promotion.

She is dedicated to helping people find success at the intersection of work and life, because that's what she wants for herself. She thinks of career advice as a group effort. And she launched her company, Brazen Careerist, to create a large-scale community for young people manage their careers for the new millennium.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Pause

Today I'm having a pause. And this is why: Blogger seems to be having a hiccup and I cannot get any links loaded. I'm typing this on my friend's iPad. That is maybe not such a good idea, because it took all of 5 minutes to get me totally hooked and I am certainly not in any position to be getting hooked on things that I can't afford. Oh, man! This is an a awesome toy!
So, while she's driving around fetching kids from school and doing grocery shopping, I get to sit in the car, warm in the winter African sun, playing on this fantastic toy. I can even pretend it's mine. Heehee!
Of course I have heard the debates about iPads, the Samsung equivalent and one or two others. Do you have one of these toys? What do you think is the best?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 9 - Bartie-Blog

Fellow writer and Twitter friend - @DaveBartlett1 has a blog with lots of "stuff". And I like his "stuff", because it's varied and interesting and often funny. I loved his 30 Day Song Challenge and I highly recommend that you read about his most embarrassing moment. I have re-told that story often and still burst out laughing when I think of it.

Go say hi to Dave: http://bartie-blog.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 8 - The Memory Blog

Maybe I'm just quizzy, but I really love hearing about people's lives. I suppose that's what writers are - quizzy. And nosey. We eavesdrop, we use snippets of conversation in our books, we take the odd hairstyle from the old man on the bus and give it to one of our characters. We use memories of our own and adapt them to our stories. The true ones and the made up ones.

The Memory Blog I just love! It's right up there with my favourites. It's great reading. Sometimes I laugh, I've had tears in my eyes, sometimes I nod my head and sometimes I think 'nah, I don't have a memory like that.' But I always, always love reading Richard's memories. He talks about his family, school, friends, growing up. It's all great stuff.

Go here to read some very enjoyable stories: http://thememoryblog.com/

Monday, May 23, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 7 - Peter Wilkin

I wish I could write poetry. I have tried a few times like over here, and over here, but I wish I could write really brilliant poetry, poetry that has substance, that takes the reader's breath away. Poetry like Peter Wilkin writes.

I don't often comment on Peter's blog, and this is why: any words I have to say sound so flimsy compared to the ones he has said. His poetry is beautiful, painful, exquisite. Peter is a retired psychiatric nurse and his understanding of the depth of human beings is reflected in his poetry.

Go here to see Peter's wonderful and very moving blog: http://peterwilkin1.blogspot.com/
He also has excellent taste in art.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 6 - NieNie Dialogues

On the 16th August 2008, Stephanie Nielson and her husband Christian were involved in a light aircraft accident. The pilot died and Christian and Stephanie suffered severe burns. 80% of Stephanie's body was burned and she was in a coma for 3 months. Her children did not recognise her and Stephanie had to start rebuilding her life, healing physically and emotionally. Surgeries are going to be needed on and off for the rest of her life.

We all have challenges in life, I know. Some people's just seem harder than others. I really admire Stephanie for the way in which she approaches the tremendous challenges that she has. She celebrates life all the time, as she knows how fortunate she is to still be with her family.

Her blog is about her life, her faith, her recovery. I find it inspirational and a reminder to me how precious and fragile life is.
Click here to see how NieNie is doing.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 5 - Middle East Mosaic

Katherine Brown left her homeland to go and teach in the Middle East. This is what she says,
"Middle East is full of ex-pats. Each one has a story to tell. Every day is a challenge. The challenge is to find beauty in this monotone landscape of sand. I have learnt to find the beauty. I look at life differently now. I love it. I find it a joy. I consider myself blessed. This is part of my journey."

When I read her blog Middle East Mosaic, there's a part of me that feels that I am observing all this wonder from the top of a flying magic carpet. Katherine admits to loving the Middle East even though she doesn't always understand it. I love the stories of the children she teaches and I have become increasingly intrigued by the Middle East and its people. I've actually put it on my list of Places To Visit Before I Die.

Go see what Katherine's up to: http://katherine-middleeastmosaic.blogspot.com/

Friday, May 20, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 4 - How Publishing Really Works

I would have to list Jane Smith amongst One Of The Nicest People I've Ever Met.
She's truly lovely and more than that, she knows what she's speaking about.

How Publishing Really Works is a very informative site, where Jane reveals the truths of the ups and downs of getting published. She also talks about Self-Publishing, Vanity Publishing, Editing, Literary Agents...just like her site says - How Publishing Really Works.

Head on over to find out: http://howpublishingreallyworks.com/

Thursday, May 19, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 3 - Dear England, Love Canada

In 2008 Anne Kostelas moved from England to Canada. I'm sure a few people thought she was mad.

From spending a night in the Ice Hotel to living in the Canadian woods, I think Anne has a very interesting life. I've learnt quite a bit about Canada and the Canadians from reading her blog - like the way Canadians pronounce 'bouy'! You've never heard anything like it in your life.

Go check it out: http://annekostalas.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 2 - Joanna Cannon

Joanna Cannon is a doctor. With a difference. She has a heart & a very soft one too.
Okay - that might not sound very fair to other doctors, but I for one have often found doctors to be cold and distant. Yes, I know this might have to do with seeing hundreds of people every day and trying to get through all the work and not crying with every person who might be dying, but at least I know without a doubt that Joanna is one of the doctors who is human and I appreciate that she takes the time to tell her stories which are gently profound and moving.

Joanna tells her stories beautifully and has such an exquisite way of putting emotions into words. I don't think there is one story that has not left a lump in my throat or a tear in my eye.
I recommend that you read each and every one.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog - Day 1 - Help! I Need a Publisher!

I'm not selecting the blogs for my 40 Day Blog Jog in any specific order, but I must say, that Nicola Morgan's blog - Help! I Need a Publisher! is certainly one of my favourites. Yes, it is true that she is also known as the Crabbit Old Bat, but don't let that put you off.
I'm sure she can be crabbit. Thankfully I have never experienced that first hand and hope I never do, but in my opinion, her 'crabbitness' is more about her no-nonsense approach to things like writing and getting published, than anything else. She is not a lady to suffer fools. She's going to tell it to you just like it is - no sugar coating (although she might throw in a steady amount of caffeine).
She tells it like you need to know it - straight.

I also want to mention that her book Wasted, which was nominated for the Carnegie Medal,  is one of the most brilliant books I have ever written. Read it.
And if you ever have the chance to attend a workshop or talk given by Nicola - go! It will be time well spent and you will learn what you really need to know about the writing and publishing world.
And don't forget to look at her shoes - she has a fab collection!


Monday, May 16, 2011

40 Day Blog Jog

Okay - so I left on a jet plane, arrived at my destination and now it's time to buckle down and get back to blogging, writing, reading and all that good stuff.

What I am going to be doing from tomorrow is a 40 Day Blog Jog. I can promise you it's the only kind of jogging I will ever get close to! Everyday I will introduce to you blogs that I follow and enjoy and you can check them out and maybe follow them too.

So - watch this space - I'll be back tomorrow introducing the first of 40 blogs that I love.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I know - I need to stop with the music now (it was a 30 day challenge - not 32!). But I couldn't resist this one - because I'm leaving on a jet plane...
I'm very excited to be going off to do research for my WIP.

The only part I'm not looking forward to is missing my sweet children, which I know I will.
I know how it goes - the first week is great - getting lots of work done without any interruptions...and then the last weeks are spent missing them like crazy and feeling driven to distraction with heartache. Then you get home and listen to them fighting and killing each other and you sigh, look at the calendar and wonder when you get to have a break again.
Yip - that's life.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge Wrap Up - Off To Africa

I loved doing the 30 Day Song Challenge. It was so much fun and brought back so many memories. I wish it was a 40 day song challenge.
Well - I am preparing for a trip to South Africa and what I've been listening to is Johnny Clegg and Savuka's Album - In My African Dream.
When the plane comes in over Johannesburg and I look out of the window, across the concrete jungle and swimming pools, I can feel from the core of the earth, a vibration that reaches to my spirit, and I know - no matter where I go and no matter for how long I am gone, when I return to Africa, I am returning Home.

Friday, May 6, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day 30 - A Favourite Song At This Time Of The Year

This time of the year it's spring in Scotland, but autumn in South Africa. This is a song I listened to often during the autumn when I still lived in SA. So, eventhough it's spring here, I still associate this song with the months of May & June.

Another genius of a musician - Jeff Wayne.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

30 day Song Challenge - Day 29 - A Song From My Childhood

I don't remember if it was a special occasion, but my mother bought each of us a 'record'. The small 7-single ones. My eldest sister had the Three Little Fishies, my other sister had Yellow Submarine and I had Food Glorious Food.

Food Glorious Food - so apt for me and for my family. It was a song we sang regularly, especially when getting home from church on a cold Sunday and the smell of the chicken roasting in the oven would meet us.
I realise that for Oliver it was a bit of a desperate song, but for my family it was a really happy one!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day 28 - A Song That Makes Me Feel Guilty

Hmm...this one doesn't bring back such great memories and although it's a beautiful song, I don't like to listen to it. You see - it's because there was a particular day, a long time ago, when I was supposed to be in one place, but I really didn't want to be there, so I went somewhere else. And then something not so good happened.
I learnt a valuable lesson, though. Be where you need to be. And do what you have to do.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day 27 - A Song That I Wish I Could Play

There a good few songs I wish I could play. Actually, I would be happy just being able to play Mary Had  A Little Lamb with both hands on the piano! I blame my horrible piano teacher for that! She would sit next to me with a pencil in her hand and every time I touched the wrong note, she'd whack me hard on the knuckles with it. I became so scared, my fingers learnt a stutter all of their own and there went the piano lessons right down the drain.

I wish I could play the drums like Phil Collins in In The Air Tonight and I wish i could play the piano like David Helfgott. But most of all I wish I could play the guitar like Gary Moore does in Parisienne Walkways. What a genius of a musician. He'll be missed by many.

Gary Moore 4 April 1952 - 6 February 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day 26 - A Song That I Can Play On An Instrument

A song I can play on an instrument? Haha! That's a joke!
I don't even play Guitar Hero.
I think the only instrument I might be able to play, is the triangle. And then I imagine the only thing I could play with the triangle is Jingle Bells. Or I could gallop around making the sound of the horses's hooves.
If none of those two options worked out, I could just shake a couple of bells around, I'm sure.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day 25 - A Song That Makes Me Laugh

In the 70's, one of our favourite programs on the telly was Rolf Harris. As kids we loved watching him paint on the wall with an enormous brush. As he painted we would try and guess what it was going to be, but I don't think we ever managed to guess right.
Our favourite song was  Jake The Peg. Just when you thought you knew which one was the fake leg, he'd move again and you were left dumbfounded! I still laugh my head off when I hear this song and it brings back great childhood memories too.