At last, been and gone and done it.

To The Edge and Back - Cover v2Finally finished editing my second novel, To The Edge and Back: hooray: it’s seems to have taken aeons as I completed the first draft 18 months ago. It is now on Amazon, and Saturday & Sunday (1st & 2nd March) it will be free for those two days.

Those of you who have read my first book will recognise the guarded protagonist who mysteriously appeared in a flurry of snow only to disappear two days later. This second novel tells of his life from 16 years through to 43 years of age. There is the possibility of another story to tell about this man, but it is still in the planning stage: actually a theme is rolling around in my head whilst I try to find a hook. So nothing written down as yet.

Why do I put myself through the agony of endlessly writing and editing? Well, for the past 30 years of having a ‘proper’ job, I finally decided to come out of the closet and tell everyone I write. Hindsight being the wonderful thing it is, that wealth of experience I now have behind me by doing that ‘proper’ job, enables me to draw on it every day. I feel I have so much to write, but not enough time left to tell the stories.

I have two more finished books in the pipeline; just awaiting editing. So guess what I’ll be doing for the next few months. This time, though, I will not be sitting in my little ‘Book Nook’ as my family call it, I will be sitting in Lund, southern Sweden, at a kitchen table. Won’t be back in this country until late July. And, for the first time, will be in Lund for the May festival. Looking forward to telling you all about it.

Hope you enjoy the new book and look forward to your comments.

Men in white coats.

The film RED is the inspiration behind a group calling themselves the SAS – Senile And Scary. Their motto is ‘Hors Concours’: their mission, to right a few wrongs. The scales of justice being the badge on their black balaclavas.

The commander of this elite unit is a retired soldier who fought in the Falklands and both Gulf Wars, the rest of the team, three in all, are all retired ‘ladies’. Well I say ladies in the loosest sense as one of them is a retired prostitute, Elsie, who has no front teeth and has issues with men and anyone eating bananas. As well as carrying a crowbar and a SIG, she also carries a twelve inch Bowie knife. God knows what she keeps in those jars she has stowed away in her pantry, they are all the same size. The rest of the team have always wanted to ask her why she pickles so many Frankfurters, but daren’t. She also has a problem with money: especially ill-gotten gains. She thinks that’s all people think about these days: money, booze and doing a few lines. But the only lines Elsie ever did was having to write, ‘I must not talk in class’ one hundred times. That put her off doing lines for the rest of her life, but still she can’t keep her mouth shut.

As this force-to-be-reckoned-with stood looking through the wire fence at the forecourt of a second-hand car dealer who screws his buyers over, trying to sell them all makes of rusty, flash, hunks of junk, Elsie asked the boss if he was going to scale the fence. He immediately retaliated with a few choice four letters words which, when translated meant he couldn’t get his leg over. Elsie then shouted their motto, “Horse Conkers,” the rest of the team retaliated by shouting, “Horse Conkers,” in unison, just like the three Musketeers. Elsie then suggested they shoot out the cameras. Dolly took her SIG from her left armpit and they all ducked. Dolly was in the early stages of Parkinsons, and if anyone knows anything at all about the SIG, they don’t have a safety catch, neither does Dolly’s twitching fingers.

The commander asked her very nicely to put it away. He actually said, “put that frigging thing away, you dozy cow.” Dolly always responded to being verbally abused, I think it had something to do with her late husband, who died suddenly whilst cooking a Sunday roast. He happened to slit his own throat whilst making Yorkshire puddings. Dolly was asked at the funeral how he came to be whisking batter with a carving knife. She never explained, just stood dabbing her eyes. Next day the commander was seen coming out her front door – not a metaphor- he could barely walk. Elsie reckoned he was beside himself with grief. Chris thought he just looked knackered and would feel better when he’d soaked his privates in some warm soapy water.

Back at the parking-lot which appeared impenetrable, Elsie asked if anyone had any gelignite or semtex. The commander said he could get hold of a shoulder launcher, but it would take him a few days. Chris volunteered her Kenwood, but they all wondered what good a blender would be, unless they were going to liquidise someone’s bollocks: preferably the balls of the dodgy second-hand car dealer.

“What do we do now?” Dolly asked. After a few deliberations they all agreed they would come back tomorrow when the garage was open, they would keep the man talking while the commander slashed a few tyres. So, they put away their SIGS and the crowbars; Elsie put her Bowie back in the sheath she had strapped to her calf, and they all went to the pub to discuss their next mission: noisy youths who irritate the crap out of the residents of an otherwise quiet neighbourhood.

Retired or not retired; that is the question.

The best thing that happened to me recently was when my granddaughter reminded me I was not retired, I was a writer. Needless to say I have left everything to her in my will. (I don’t think any of my family read this blog: like they don’t read any of my books.)




The miracle of modern medicine.

Nowadays an ante-natal visit will, at some point involve a scan, along with other un-invasive tests. No more the gloved hand that invaded a woman’s body at every visit, or the Pinard horn placed on your belly so the doctor could hear the baby’s heart beat whilst staring at your feet, concentrating on counting the beats; listening for murmurs.

Today a scanned picture can show, not only abnormalities, but how advanced the foetus is, and miraculously the sex of that child. And I saw my 8th grandchild for the first time yesterday. I already have 3 granddaughters and 4 grandsons and I am pleased to announce I am having another grandson in a few months time.

What splendid work these medics do, and I will be forever grateful to those surgeons who performed open-heart, triple by-pass surgery on my husband, 8 months ago. He is now fit and well. I am also fortunate to have a granddaughter who was born prematurely weighting in at only 1lb 15oz: she is now a tall, lively, intelligent, 14 year old. And I was fortunate to see my 9 year old granddaughter born, as I stood gowned-up in theatre holding my daughters hand whilst the surgeon performed a C section: her husband bottled out at the last minute. Can’t blame him, it was quite scary. So I have, on more than one occasion, had reason to thank those innovators and pioneers who have moved medicine forward.

When younger, I was always undecided as to what I wanted to do: and whilst making up my mind I became a nursing auxiliary. It was hard work, amusing, had me in tears sometimes, and the night shifts were very long 12 hour stints. But it was never boring, and you certainly saw life in the raw, especially on a Saturday night when we got the tramps and drunks in Casualty. As they only came in for a warm, they were given a cup of tea then sent on their way. But even though it was hard work being run off my feet; making endless beds: dealing with bed-pans: laying out the dead; keeping the odd male patient from groping my leg, I did love the work. So I decided to apply to nursing school, and got an interview. Then disaster struck, whilst lifting a patient one night with a male nurse, who later asked to borrow my bra and uniform – that is another story for another time – the patient suddenly became disorientated and started thrashing around. My back went: disc problem: can still be problematic to this day, that’s why I like to swim a lot.

I am not as old as Hippocrates, but how the course of ones life can change. I have no regrets swapping my nursing cap for a mortar-board. I loved nursing, but I loved teaching more. And I am very happy sitting here today writing on my blog – I still get a tingle when I say “my blog”  or “my novel”. As I look back and remember all those experiences, even the bad ones can eventually have a positive effect.

Which brings me on to my third novel, which is not quite finished. Guessed what it is yet? Yes, you’re right: the back-drop is the medical profession.

Dragons and Daffodils.

Last week started quite promising, the dragon roared as Wales won their first match against Italy in the Six Nations Rugby, only to be annihilated by Ireland on the Saturday just gone. Philip Seymour Hoffman died, which was tragic, as he was the best actor to come out of the States. And my daughter-in-law’s horse, Marrakesh, died peacefully, of old age, in his sleep.

To top it all I got to thinking I would never reach the summit. My mountain was not Everest and snow-blindness, but that other peak called Editing. I suffered a bout of word-blindness, so abandoning the written word for a couple of days, I decided to rip out the fitted wardrobes in the bedroom. It seems I have to counter-balance my sedentary existence as a writer with something more physical.

Rather drastic you might think: why not just go swimming again? But those wardrobes had to go. They had stood like Heathcliff for nearly twenty years: dark, brooding and over-powering. But, oh, how good it felt to have a power tool in my right hand again instead of a mouse. For years that room has been in need of a make-over. It needs furniture that stands alone: furniture you can move around: like words in a sentence: re-arrange them to form a different statement. And when I’m doing DIY – I think. That’s when I usually have my best ideas. Writers have to think: to cogitate: to mull over: to argue: to discard.

A few days later I approached my editing with clarity of thought, and a certain deftness as I cut and pasted: just like wallpapering. It went as smooth as syrup off a spoon. Next step? one more read through then off it goes to Amazon.

And what is my other-half up to whilst I’m doing all this? Apart from taking his instructions like a man; he will buy me the odd Bosch sander, or cordless drill. And if I want any woodwork doing he’s there with circular saw at the ready: he’s good with wood. As for the holes in the bedroom wall: they’ve been filled with Polyfilla and sanded down: like the holes in my manuscript.

I will now pick up my pure bristle paint-brushes, which no one else is allowed to use: like my computer: and paint the walls Daffodil yellow. So, come on Wales, I’m waving my Daffodil, so unleash the Dragon. I want him to roar, not whimper,

What is life like.

The following was posted to me on Facebook by my 13 year old grandson. I thought it was rather apt. It says: Life is all about ass. You are either covering it. Laughing it off. Kicking it. Kissing it. Busting it. Trying to get a piece of it. Behaving like one. Living with one. I’m busting it at the moment, what are you doing?