Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Little Lost Hen

This week in countryside life, the hot weather continues, and there's a runaway....

So this week, the big news of the lane, and indeed the village was the rogue hen living in the hedgerows. No one knows where this hen has come from, it doesn't seem to belong to anyone, and against all odds it seems to have survived (so far) being eaten by a fox (although we haven't seen it in the last few days).

It's been funny, because people have seen it, and then discussed it and it's been the topic of the week. I've seen it a couple of times, and I couldn't really believe what I was seeing, just because it seemed so odd and unusual.

Well the mystery persists.... and maybe we'll see it again, but I fear the worst....

In other news, the flower show is coming up. I failed to get my entry form in on time so won't be entering anything, but it's always good fun.

My sweet peas have gone mad as well, thanks to the hot weather. And we also have lots of cucumbers, courgettes, tomotoes, and even grapes!

In local news, sadly the Eastbourne pier caught fire yesterday. Horrible pictures of the destruction, but looks like they saved some of it!

Just a short update this week - need to crack on with the disssertation....

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Thunderstorms and Village Fetes

Yet again the days seem to have disappeared in a summer haze. It's been baking hot recently, which has been wonderful and has felt like proper summer - but it hasn't been quite so good for productivity! Both the dissertation and the writing have slowed right now, but I guess maybe it's good to have a bit of a break from time to time. As always, I'm still pondering ideas and scribbling notes.

Anyway, the last week has seen has subjected to plenty of thunderstorms as well as hot weather. The thunder and lightening was at times a little alarm, but also kind of spectacular to watch. At one point the storm was right above us! One downside was the lightening lighting up my whole room at night. It's been very stuffy as well, and even with the windows wide open, it's felt very hot and uncomfortable.

Still, there's nothing quite like the beautiful summer days and the clear blue skies, and lying on the grass reading and writing. It's always easy to forget that the summer is completely full of days like this. These are the type of days I write about in my stories, and Treading Water is full of hot, stuffy days.

In other news, it was the church fete on Saturday, which meant an afternoon of tombola, hoopla, bowling for the pig - and the wheel of fortune (and much more!).

Here's the wheel in action:

It went down a treat!

Oh, and the bees are back - what joy. Although, luckily the storms cleared this swarm a bit:

Anyway, have a great week and enjoy the sunshine. I'm currently desperate to go windsurfing again, or maybe paddleboarding, so maybe that will happen this week - fingers crossed!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Sweet Peas and a Heatwave!

I really don't know where the time is going - it's racing away from us! I mean, how did we get to this point in July already?

Around here, things are blossoming and everything's very green. They're predicting a heatwave over the next few days, and already the air feels much hotter.

This is what summer should be like though - long, lazy days, with outdoor theatre and cinema, late evening visits to each other's houses, lying on the grass, eating outside..... These are all elements that make up summer, in a rather nostalgic way.

It's church/village fete season as well, with our parish one coming up this Saturday. Rain is predicted, but hopefully it will hold off. We're hoping to bring out the giant Wheel of Fortune that I repainted last summer:
repainted wheel of fortune!
Although, we're still debating the best way to play the game! Also at the fete will be all the usual games such as the tombola, hoopla, and much more. It should be a good day (if the rain holds off!). 

In other news, my first sweet pea flowers have blossomed (and they smell great).

Hopefully it's the first of many, many flowers.

Just a quick update - I'm meant to be cracking on with my dissertation, although it's very hard to sit inside and work when it's nice outside! Oh well - if I get some done this morning, I'm going to sit and write outside this afternoon (and swim!).

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

YALC Recap!

This weekend saw the inaugural YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) take place as part of the larger LFCC (London Film and Comic Con). This was the first time that anything like this had taken place in the UK, so I and so many other people were unsurprisingly very excited! There have already been lots of recaps, but I thought I'd do my own anyway, with a few pictures.

The weekend itself was absolutely manic and so crazy, as the con was part of the larger LFCC. This meant that there were huge queues to get in, and inside, lots and lots of people, a noisy and very, very hot hall. Luckily the Book Zone was at the back of the hall, and things were a little quieter there! It was also very exhausting, with lots of queueing, standing about etc, and I was out late both nights seeing other friends - I managed to make it through the weekend, and collapsed in exhaustion when I got home Monday!

There was so much going on each day though, it was hard to know what to do - there were panels, workshops, and signings - lots of which clashed, and so lots of choices had to be made! The panels and signings I went to though were really great. The whole event was really awesome and there were so many awesome people there, all full of enthusiasm for YA, which was INCREDIBLE. I hope this do this again, it was the best.

While I was there, I was also able to meet lots of wonderful people, including my awesome CP Laura (and we got to hang out lots! Yay!), Cole, Emma, Catherine, as well as a fellow MuggleNet writer, Toni! I also got to hang out with one of my school friends, Katie, which was great. It was also wonderful to say hello to the lovely Liz Kessler who I met at the Fowey Festival!

This was the Book Zone, with an awesome wall of books, as well as a table of free goodies!

 Lots of publishers, as well as Waterstones, had stands and they were selling books (something I took advantage of, of course! Although I did get home and think, I thought I got more than this... maybe I should have...). Hot Key Books were there (and I love them, they were so friendly and great). They were giving out We Were Liars samplers (which I've already read) as well as awesome hand stamps with quotes from the books, as well as posters and tote bags!

As well as managing to get a couple of free books (!) I also picked up plenty of bookmarks, posters, badges, and posters!

"be a little kinder than you have to"

Onto the events themselves - on Saturday, I attended two panels: "It's the end of the world as we know it: the ongoing appeal of dystopia" with Malorie Blackman (!!!!!), Patrick Ness, Sarah Crossan, and James Smythe. This was really great, and everyone on the panel made really interesting points about dystopia and were so funny and great. I also attended "Superfans Unite!" with Rainbow Rowell (!!!), Lucy Saxon, Andy Robb, and Tim O'Rouke. This was another great panel, with lots of Harry Potter chat (yay!). 

Sunday, I attended "How get published" with Phil Earle, Sally Green, and Ben Horslen. I also went to "Crossover: not just for kids" with Matt Haig, Anthony McGowan, Nick Lake, Meg Rosoff, and David Maybury. It was a really thought provoking panel - and at times rather controversial (in a good way!). Lastly, I went to "Sisters doing it for themselves" with Tany Byrne, Isobel Harrop, Julie Mayhew, Holly Smale, and Sarra Manning. Another really good, and brilliant panel that made me think a lot!

There were other panels and workshops that I was interested in both days, but I ended up doing lots of queueing for signings and stuff, and it didn't work out. It's always hard to know at these things what to focus on.

I managed to get lots of books signed - as well as buy lots. Here's some pictures (all the authors were LOVELY so it would be boring if I wrote that as a caption for each one!):

Natasha Ngan!
excited to read this!

picked this up from Hot Key as well!

Can't wait to read this one too!

I was SO excited to get this!


Holly Smale!

picked up this short story!

excited to snaffle a free copy of this!

 Phew! That's a lot of pictures! All the authors I met were SO SO SO lovely and keen to have a chat, and were all so friendly, I loved them all. I've got lots of reading to do!

Let's hope this happens again - it was awesome.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Sweetpeas and Gardening

It's that time of year when we move the small plants from the poly tunnel outside in the vegetable patch to grow. The other week, I was planting out some courgette plants, tomatoes, sweetcorn, and sprouts, as well as some sweet peas that I had been nurturing for the last few months. As I was doing so it occurred to me that writing and publishing are in some ways very like gardening. I'm sure this metaphor has been used before, but bear with me...

The thing is - planting seeds, seeds from a packet, in the cold of the late winter, or early spring, you have no knowledge of whether it will blossom into something. There's the excitement, hope, expectation that it will grow into the flowers/vegetables.With writing, it's much the same. When you get an idea, and begin to develop it, you imagine what it might become, as the idea is sown. Except sometimes it stalls there, and doesn't quite get past the initial idea, just like some seeds don't flourish for whatever reason.

But if they do flourish, there's then the waiting, as you tend to it every day, water them, check them, feed them, and you have to do much the same with writing and ideas. You have to tend to them, nurture them, and make them grow.

And at that point, you don't realise quite how much work it's going to be to make sure that they don't die, or get eaten, or attacked by slugs or frost.

Then, there's the planting out aspect - even more risk and uncertainty here - will the frost or slugs get them, or will they wilt, or will the soil not be good enough? And in the same way with writing, once a story is out of your hands, it's down to your critique partner, or agent, or publisher - whatever stage you're at - to respond and give you feedback, and take it on, or not.

Growing plants is also a waiting game. You never know quite when it will pay off - if ever.  And, I guess, in a similar way, writing, and publishing, is like that. There are so many different variables, and things, especially once you start hoping to be published, that you cannot control, that you never know quite what will happen.

Waiting. Lots of waiting.

And hope. Hope and faith are essential.

But here's to growing happy seeds and ideas!

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Bees, Cows, and Dogs

In an attempt to update my blog more regularly, I'm starting something new - a country diary, charting life in the countryside. Read the first entry here. 

Country life began again with a bang. Or more realistically, a swarm of bees. A couple of years ago, there was a huge swarm of bees that landed on our chimney. They come back year after year, and each summer, the sitting room is lost under an influx of bees.

This week they decided to swarm again, and the air was full of black dots as they all sought to land on the chimney. And one by one, they trickled down the chimney, filling the room with a buzzing sound, and the constant worry that you're going to stand/sit on one. We're not really sure how they get into the room from the chimney, there must be a hole somewhere. There seem to be hundreds of them this year. And they're not exactly easy to remove from the chimney!

Meanwhile, there are the cows and a couple of weeks ago a cow expert woman came over to assess the herd, cuing lots of talk about breeding, bulls, cows, the size of them etc. It all goes straight over my head to be honest, but it makes for some entertaining conversation to listen to! They also make an awful racket when they're moved around - and the other day one of the calves got out onto the footpath, cue panic!

After my lovely little cat had to be put down earlier this year (sob sob) - being home for such a long period of time without her is horrible. I miss her so much! - we're just left with one little dog. He's rather silly, and he's nearly completely blind, which means that he can't see where he's going, and if you put something in his way that he's not expecting he'll crash headfirst into it (including humans). Many a time I have to shout his name as he's just about to run into me! He's a very strange little dog, and will bark at nothing, but he's very sweet, and it's nice to have him around. He likes to jump onto beds and sit on pillows, and then look at you very sheepishly, and refuse to move. Very stubborn! But what would we do without him?

I found some kitten pictures the other day, and that just made me miss my little cat even more. Sigh....

More next week on sweetpeas, gardening, and writing!