Progress update and news

I’ve been steadily working on editing The Gateway these past few days, now that things have calmed down on the home front. I’ve even been able to work a little on my studies, slotting in a bit here and a bit there. Although it’s quite possible I’ve overdone it slightly, trying to squeeze daily tasks and puppy walks and writing in, on top of everything else, including being pregnant. A few people have commented that I’ve been a bit quiet lately, and that is my reason. I’m now 20 weeks gone, and just starting to feel “normal” again (although slightly anaemic; but some iron tablets have rectified that). Since January I’ve been rather fatigued and was knocked sideways by a virus in February which my daughter and I both had, her bouncing back like Tigger on a summer’s day and me taking three weeks to recover from it. As I started to regain my energy, we welcomed another bundle into our home in the form of Charlie, who has certainly not been without his challenges. Patience is a virtue, they say, and I can’t say I’ve ever been the most patient of people. But when you become a mother something happens to you and you become instinctively able to cope with whatever stresses life throws at you, because you simply get on and deal with it.

We’ve had Charlie for five weeks today and I’m pleased to say that he’s settled in well. He’s nowhere near as calm as I’d like (of course not, he’s a puppy) but he’s happier to entertain himself now and with the aid of a baby gate and a puppy crate, we have a little more order in the house.

Anyway, as my father used to say, I digress.

A few more of you have been asking questions about where Chapter Four of The Gateway is. I won’t be posting any more chapters on here, as I haven’t decided whether to self-publish or try the traditional publishing route yet. However I did promise to deliver some snippets and deliver I will.

If you’ve read the first three chapters, you’ll be wondering what happens next with Emmeline and her ticket officer from the train station.

So here’s a little teaser for you…

Emmeline leaned back against the red padded leather of the booth they had chosen at the back of the club, and observed the setting before her. Round tables circled by bistro chairs were strategically placed around a modest stage, which was currently in the process of being set up for a function. Each table was covered in stark white table cloths with candelabras standing centrepiece. The club was empty of customers except for Jack and Emmeline.

‘So, you’re from the future,’ he sat back with one leg crossed over his knee, his arm resting across the back of the booth.

‘Or,’ she looked at him over her cup and saucer, searching for that glint of amusement on his features. It wasn’t there. ‘You’re from the past,’ she decided.

‘Well, Emmeline, I don’t think I am in your future right now,’ he gestured with his arm to demonstrate the very real establishment they were sat in, jazz music playing softly in the background in the absence of a live performance.

She drummed her fingers on the table thoughtfully. ‘Perhaps this is all part of your master plan to continue to mock my plight and this is actually a retro-bar, frequented ordinarily by the locals, who appear to be lacking at present.’ said Emmeline.

‘Please, excuse me for a moment,’ Jack stood and adjusted his waistcoat and jacket and disappeared to the Gentleman’s lounge. When he returned, he sidled into the booth and rested his arm behind Emmeline’s head on the back of the seat. His face was level with hers and she could hear the steady rhythm of his gentle breathing. Jack’s gaze rested on her features for what seemed like an age, until she tore her eyes away and focused on her coffee, desperate to break the intimacy. 

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to ask, I always love to hear from readers. 🙂

Read the first three chapters of The Gateway here.


Welcome to the crazy household

I feel like I’ve fallen out of cyberspace over the past few days – my activity on social networking is all but non-existent, bar a few automated posts. I don’t like sending them, but those that I do send I like to think will provide a decent amount of thought and inspiration for readers, and it’s the ‘likes’ and the re-tweets and the re-pins which tell me that even if I’m working behind the scenes, I’m still able to communicate with other social network users and can at least make an impression. 

So where have I been recently? There have been some health issues which appear to be sorting themselves out, but the biggest reason for my lack of activity has to be the new addition to our family, our new Springer puppy Charlie (Yes, ‘Charlie Chapman’. Has an interesting ring to it, don’t you think? Just be thankful that Charlie isn’t a baby boy because if my husband had his way, the poor child would be ridiculed for life. Fortunately for our offspring, she escaped this quirky and comical naming due to being born a girl and my refusal to allow her to be called Charlotte).

Both Charlie and my 1-and-a-1/2 year old have had me running round in rings after both of them. The wee spaniel was only 8 weeks when he arrived with us a week and a half ago and we are just about getting there with the toilet training. There is still the odd accident but with the help of Google and a training manual our neighbours very thoughtfully provided for us, we are beginning to establish a routine for Charlie. This, of course, has to be worked around our daughter’s routine as well, and if any of it gets messed up, the end result is a terrible tantrum and a boisterous pup. It’s no wonder I’m totally exhausted and tearing my hair out. Fortunately, things are starting to get a little easier as Charlie calms down and our toddler gets used to him being around; she’s beginning to realise it’s not such a good idea to dangle her comforter above his nose. 

Did I mention we have two cats as well? One of them is a sweet-natured ginger tom. I think he would be quite good pals with Charlie if it wasn’t for the fact that our other moggie – the ginger’s mother and an unpredictable naughty tortie – keeps hissing and spitting at Charlie and has attempted to swipe him a couple of times. As a result the poor puppy (who just wanted to make friends) now barks ferociously at both the cats.  Add to the mix a “young adult” (who turns thirteen this month) and you have a mental setup. I think my husband is beginning to unravel at the seams. I’m just about still sane. Thankfully it won’t always be like this. I’m already starting to see a change in Charlie as training is coming on in leaps and bounds. He knows ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘leave it’ and ‘watch me’. The last two need some work in the hope that he and the cats can live in harmony. We’re also working on ‘drop it’ – I don’t fancy wrestling a dog for the next few years each time I want to put my shoes on to take him out or having him slide around the house by his teeth on my trouser legs…

This is a totally new experience for all of us, having never owned a dog before. I knew it would be a lot of work but really didn’t appreciate how much. Charlie arrived sooner than anticipated too – after years of talking about getting a dog, my dear cunning husband brought him home after months of secret planning as an unexpected surprise! People aren’t kidding when they say it’s like having a baby in the house. Except I think a newborn baby would be easier, at least it would stay still!  

Do you have a dog? What training ‘fun’ have you encountered and what do you remember about the first few days? 

A thorn in my toe but toe-tally worth it.

They say writing can be a lonely occupation, and when you’re at home all day with a little one it’s essential to have something outside of that, or you face going stir-crazy from the lack of adult company. So after some searching on the internet for something suitable, I decided to join a writers group last week.

I almost didn’t make it to the Northampton Writers Group. I had it in my mind that I wouldn’t be able to find the group’s location and was convinced that I would end up trudging back home in a foul temper from a failed mission – which was to find an outlet for my adult self, away from the fun yet challenging world of motherhood. I was already running slightly late and beginning to worry a little about my lateness, however I arrived in the town with five minutes to spare. I ran down the dank, dull stair case of the multi-storey car park then spilled out on to the electric-lit street and was swept up by hordes of people making their way up the road. Almost everyone was protected by an umbrella and as the fizzy droplets of rain began to soak into my hair, I realised the weather was a lot worse than I had perceived. I marched my way up past the theatre, leaving the wave of night-lifers behind as they entered, only to be met with an oncoming sea of more people. As I dodged my way through them, a sharp sting shot through my toe and I yelped, lifting my injured foot instinctively, before ducking into a doorway out of the rain to investigate the source of the attack. I looked around me; it was cold, it was raining, it was dark. And here I was stood in a doorway with one boot off, looking soggy and bedraggled. Perhaps this wasn’t the best time to remove my sock. I pulled at the material around my toe to no avail, whatever had caused me to flinch wasn’t going to reveal itself so I replaced my boot and continued to storm through the weather, which was getting worse. Droplets of water were beginning to gather at the ends of my fringe; before long it would be dripping from the end of my nose. I used the side of my foot while walking to avert any further embedding of the offending foreign object, and ploughed through town, earning myself some rather strange looks for my hurried hobbling. With the greatest relief, the shops were in sight and I knew my destination couldn’t be far away, the details of the whereabouts of the meet at the forefront of my mind. I walked. Then I walked some more. And I walked, and I walked, desperate for shelter as I felt the puddles begin to filter through my boots. My foot began to throb from the effort of walking at an angle and the sting in my toe was spreading with an unpleasant heat. Just as I was about to turn around and head back to the comfort and safety of my car, my destination revealed itself like a light at the end of the tunnel, as if someone above had cast a light on the building to show me sanctuary. Never more pleased to see an unfamiliar dwelling, I hobbled round the house looking for a way in, slightly perturbed at the lack of notices or lights coming from inside. After trying a dark, uninviting front door, I located a door at the side of the building, which miraculously opened for me, where I was greeted (and clearly expected) by the chair-person of the group – Morgen Bailey – and welcomed inside. With the introductions out the way and me dripping all over the floor, I apologised for my drowned-rat appearance and swiftly excused myself as I ducked into the rest room to dry myself off and inspect my wound, where I found… a thorn in my toe. How it got there is irrelevant. The fact that I soldiered on through pain, doubt and pouring rain to get to my destination was probably the most liberating thing I had done all week.

I met a wonderful group of warming, welcoming writers, where we listened, read our work (apart from me who arrived totally unprepared) and paused for a cuppa, a chat and a custard cream (very thoughtfully provided by another member). I’m so glad I ignored my inner doubts and forced myself to go.

Next week is an Easter theme, for which I’ve written a poignant poem and am looking forward to getting some feedback. For anyone who is thinking of joining a writers group, I strongly recommend it. You’ll meet some wonderful, like-minded, down-to-earth characters.  After all, we all need that little bit of something for ourselves.