Sunday, 15 December 2013

LLWG - December

I know, I know, I really have been slacking.  These past few months have been a bit all over the place, but I think I'm back on track so I will be posting about the writing group again.

We met on Tuesday 10th December, and we had a pretty full group.  We keep losing people and gaining others, but it's great to see that interest in the group is still so high.

Homework from last session was to write something about memories.  I don't normally write things this personal, but after a month with heightened emotions, this kind of came spilling out.

-----
 
I remember when, I remember when I lost my mind.  Hang on.  Wait.  No.  That’s not how this story begins.  That’s the start of a Gnarls Barkley song.  It is, however, how this story ends.  But we will get to that bit in due course.

I remember being in love.  It has only happened once.  I was 19 years old.  Maybe you think that was quite young to be in love, but you tell that to our grandparents who got married in their late teens or early twenties, and never got divorced.  Nothing has come close to that feeling since.  And whenever I think about it, I fall headfirst into the age old question, whether it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.  I can’t answer that now.  Maybe things will become clearer in time.

Some of you are lucky to be in love now.  I don’t resent you at all.  I’m extremely jealous, but I don’t begrudge it.  We all deserve to love and be loved.

I remember the day I realised I was in love.  I can’t remember the exact date but the scene plays over and over in my head.  I’d woken up first.  This is something to definitely make note of, as I never wake up first.  Even if I was the last person on earth, I wouldn’t wake up first.  I like my sleep.  It takes a lot to stop me sleeping.  So I’d woken up first and I turned over to see him lying on his side, his head heavy on the pillow.  I watched him sleep.  Not in a weird stalker kind of way; more in a ‘I’ve woken up early and I’ve got nothing better to do’ kind of way.  His hair was wild, which wasn’t really out of the ordinary as his locks were always reasonably unkempt.  He still suffered with bed-head though.  His eyelashes were crusty with sleep, and he had a little bit of dried dribble in the corner of his mouth.  He looked far from his best.  But I looked at him.  I looked at the way parts of his face flickered and contorted, and realised that if he can look this bad and I still want to be with him, it must be love.  It was a bit of an epiphany moment; I’d said ‘I love you’ but it wasn’t until then that I really felt it.  It was one of those ‘the world could end right now and I will die at my absolute peak of happiness’ moments.

I remember being romanced and wooed and courted.  I remember feeling comfortable and safe and connected.  I remember feeling special and treasured.  I remember feeling excited and nervous.  And above all, I remember making someone else feel that way.

In no way am I looking at my relationship through rose tinted glasses.  It wasn’t perfect.  We irritated each other and we fought (not physically I hasten to add), but we always worked it out and got over it.  Well, always, until the last time.  And it is here that I remember when, I remember when I lost my mind.  And I lost my love.

----- 

We had a couple of writing tasks.  The first was - what would you do if you were Santa?

If I was Santa I would buy everyone in the world a dictionary, and employ a select team of grammarians to test people before they were allowed to post anything on facebook.  This would reduce unemployment and also keep stupid people off the internet.

-----

The second task was to write about something happening to a Father Christmas in a department store or a snowman.

There he is.  Look at him, standing there all smug, that coaly black smile, grinning.  I bet he thinks he's so great, all high and mighty like he's the king of the garden.  'Oooh, look at me, I don't get cold in the snow because I'm made of snow.  I'm so great.'  Well actually, no you're not so great.  In fact you're rubbish.  You're an overgrown popsicle.  Call yourself a man.  You haven't even got any legs or feet.  You've just got a really fat body.

Yeah, yeah?  What are you staring at?  You want to start something?  Any time!  Any.  Time.

(WALKIES!)

Ha!  You're in for it now.  Don't you try and run.  Oh, I forgot, you can't, you legless wonder.  Here I come, ready or not.  Now, which leg should I cock?  Aah, that's better.

-----

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 14th January 2014, 7-9pm, in the Navigator Room.  Our homework for next session to write something based on 'new beginnings'.

LLTW - December

I have to apologise for not posting about my teen writing group.  It is still going; I've just had a hectic few months and time has escaped me.  But I will find time from now on.

So we met on Monday 9th December, and I had two of my regular girls and a new girl.

I've stopped setting homework as they weren't doing it.  They have a lot of homework from school and college so I don't really want to add extra pressure.

As it's coming up to Christmas, I thought we would try our hands at writing a Christmas song.  I'm not particularly musical myself, but I managed to scribble down some lyrics.  I don't have a tune for them - maybe someone could help me out with that.

Oh, and it's untitled.

Wrap yourself up inside of your coat
And pull your hat down on your head
Or stay inside where it's nice and warm
And snuggle up cosy in your comfortable bed

It's winter, it's cold
Ice drips from your nose
But that's how it goes
When it's nearly Christmas

Stock up your cupboards with mountains of food
And eat it all until your gut explodes
Sitting on the sofa, watching specials on the tells
Hibernating while the gritters blanket the roads

It's winter, it's cold
Ice drips from your nose
But that's how it goes
When it's nearly Christmas

Do your shopping online to escape the queues
And have your gifts delivered to your door
Spend your evenings in your pyjamas
Wrapping presents, sprawled out on the floor

-----

That's as far as I got.  Perhaps I shouldn't give up my day job!

Anyway, our next meeting will be on Monday 13th January 2014, 5-6pm in the library cafe.  If you're interested in coming or you'd like some more information you can e-mail me at rebeccah.giltrow@suffolklibraries.co.uk   

Friday, 13 December 2013

College Writers

Today I went to a local college to speak to the writing group there.  I had been asked to go along to talk about writing and publishing.

I was a bit nervous about doing it as I didn't know how I would be received.  But thankfully I wasn't booed out of the building.  There were eight people in the group but they were all very quiet.  I understand that being involved in any of the arts can be daunting.  You produce something but you don't want to share it because it's like you're baring your soul, and you don't want to hear criticism.  

We spent some time discussing what 'creative writing' is, and I was pleased to hear their responses.  They see it as a form of expression and escapism.  We also discussed what types of writing constitute 'creative writing', and one girl answered with 'everything' - the answer I wanted to hear.  So many people think creative writing is limited to fiction stories and poetry, but it stretches a lot further than that.  People seem to forget journalism, essays, travel writing, song lyrics, letters, diary entries (and so much more).  However, the teens today were aware of these styles, although I'm not sure how many they write.

We also spoke a bit about publishing, and as young, new writers they hadn't really thought about it.  One person asked about getting an agent, and other asked about self/e-publishing.  Although I would love to have an agent, it's not easy.  I explained about sending pieces off and getting rejections, which can be really disappointing, but it is worth doing as you never know what will happen.  But if you do want your work out there, self/e-publishing is the way to go.  It gets your name known and you never know who might find out about you.  As an author it's so important to promote and publicise yourself and your work however you can.

We did a couple of five minute writing activities just to get their creativity flowing.  They seemed to enjoy them - well I hope they did.  They weren't very verbal, but that will come with time.

I really enjoyed the session, and even though I would have liked it if they had been a bit more chatty, it was great to see so many people there who were receptive to what I was saying and seemed as though they really enjoyed writing and wanted to take it further than a hobby (a couple of them have started to write novels).

Monday, 9 December 2013

How I deal with rejection

A couple of weeks ago I got back on the submissions train and sent my 12 Days of Krista May Rose manuscript off to a traditional publisher.  Having done a bit of research into publishing, I've noticed that not many places are interested in taking short stories so when I came across a publisher who has previously published short stories I thought that I should give it a go.

Last night I received an e-mail rejection:

Dear Rebeccah,

Thank you for sending us your manuscript for consideration. 

I’ve now had a chance to look at this. Although it’s well written, the book’s themes and subject matter don’t fit our profile and its hard to see the book fitting in with our existing list. 

I’m sure that a more mainstream press will pick this up, or a press that could give it a serious pre-Christmas push. Thank you very much for the opportunity. 

Yours sincerely

*sigh*

Obviously I was a bit deflated when I read this.  I know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people out there who are trying to get books published and having no luck.  I also know that some of the greatest authors received rejection after rejection before having their work published.  But sometimes it feels like a never ending spiral downwards.

About a year or so ago I was going through some personal problems, and found myself to be extremely negative about any situation I found myself in.  Even when other people pointed out the positives I refused to see them.  I like to think that I'm better now.  This rejection, although crappy, isn't the end of the world.  I self-published this particular book through Createspace and it's available to buy as a hard copy or an e-book from Amazon (UK, US, and Europe), and while it hasn't been selling in its thousands, it has been selling - and not just to friends and family.  I have also sold the paperback at Christmas fayres and at Lowestoft Library Literary Festival.

I admit, I used to say that self-publishing was for those people whose books weren't good enough to be published.  This was before I'd taken a step inside the world of publishing.  It's not as easy as I thought.  But self-publishing is fairly easy and is becoming a more acceptable way of getting your work out there.

So I could have wallowed in the news that one publisher didn't want my work, which is what I probably would have done a year ago.  Instead I'm going to continue to promote my (self-published) book and sort out a lot of work I have floating on my computer and put those in (self-published) book form.  I write things for them to be read.  If I have to self-publish in order for them to be read, then that is what I will do.

So if anyone wants to buy a little literary stocking filler, please pop over to Amazon to ensure delivery before Christmas!


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Guess Who's Back

Well hello there internet.  I'm sorry I've been away for so long.  I've had quite a hectic few months, but that's no excuse.  I shouldn't have neglected you.  You were always there for me when I needed you, and when I didn't need you I tossed you away like yesterday's jam.


But if you'll let me explain myself.  Firstly, I got a new job.  I have a 4 week rota, which means that each week I work a different shift pattern.  It does take me a while to get into some sort of routine especially when the routine is ... erm ... routine.  But my routine is all over the place.  I'm sure I will get used to it, eventually.

Secondly, I got a new boyfriend.  We won't spend too much time on this subject as he dumped me after 4 months.  Girls, do you always go after 'bad boys' and then get upset because they treat you badly?  Yep, me too.  So this time I went for a 'nice guy' in the hope that I would be treated better.  How wrong I was.  Just because someone is nice to everyone else, doesn't mean they'll be nice to you.

Thirdly, I had a literary festival to organise.  This was the first Lowestoft Library Literary Festival, and I was chairman of the committee so for about 3 months I was eating, sleeping, breathing festival stuff.  It took place on Saturday 28th September and went down really well.  We had 8 authors (including myself) who read from their work and signed their books.

Terry Tarbox, Rebeccah Giltrow, Jayne-Marie Barker, Suzan Collins, Patricia van Stratum, Ruth Dugdall, Mayor June Ford, Nicola Upson, Ian Robb

Fourthly, I went on holiday.  Admittedly it was only for a week, but it takes some planning and recovering.  But we won't dwell on this as I went with the boyfriend who doesn't want me anymore.

Fifthly, I procrastinate.  I have nothing more to say on that matter!!

Oh, and I forgot - I had an art exhibition to get ready for too!  I haven't been this busy in a long time.



But it's coming towards the end of the year, and even though I'm not one to make resolutions, I am going to sort myself out and focus on my writing.  And I set up this blog to track my journey through the world of writing, so here I revive my blog and everything that goes along with it.  I hope to see you along the way.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Mike and Roses

Happy belated Celebrate The Small Things day.  Yes, again I'm a few days late.  Over the summer my weeks seem to have become busier and busier.  But here I am.

This week has been great.  The sun has been shining which is always a bonus in England.

On Monday I was able to go back to Pilates after having missed a few weeks because of work, and because I fell down a rabbit hole.  I felt great afterwards!

On Tuesday, the boy and I went to London for the day.  The weather was just right, not too hot, not too cold, and it wasn't too busy either.  We went to Trafalgar Square, and saw this very interesting statue ...


We then went on a Rock 'n' Roll walking tour, which took us to various places where The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and many others played back in the olden days.

This is the art gallery where Yoko Ono and John Lennon met for the first time ...


And this record shop used to be The Bricklayers Arms; a pub where The Rolling Stones used to practise ...


Just walking through London you could miss some little gems.  After the tour we went to the O2 to go to the British Music Experience.  It's a museum containing original pieces of music memorabilia from the past century or so of British music.  It's well worth a visit.



As most of you know, I've only been working at my job (at the town library) for a few months and it's great.  I still get excited going into work, as the people are so lovely.  The other day I was helping a customer and he thanked me and went away.  About 10-15 minutes later he came back with some flowers for me to thank me for helping him!  I hadn't expected that at all.  I was just doing my job, but he must have really appreciated it.

And the boy bought me a young Mike Wazowski (from Monsters University).  He's so cute; he's got little braces on his teeth and everything!


These are the things I'm celebrating this week.  How about you?

Monday, 5 August 2013

LLBG - July

Sorry for the delay in posting this up.  These past few weeks have been so busy!  Anyway, Lowestoft Library Book Group met on Tuesday 30th July, and discussed A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.

I'm afraid to say that I didn't read it.  I read about 50 pages, so I can't comment on the story at all.  I do enjoy reading, but the book has over 600 pages, and the writing is really really tiny!  I know that shouldn't stop me reading a book, but somehow it does.  

From what I can gather, it's a book about a few people whose lives cross.  This does sound like my kind of book, as I like things that make connections.  Maybe one day I'll pick it up and give it another go.

It's set in India in the 70s and 80s, and apparently outlines some of the terrible things that took place there during this time.

I'm sorry for the uselessness of this post, and shame on me for not reading the book!

In August we will be having a meeting, but there is no book.  This is because it's the day after the Bank Holiday, and people are usually away.  So if anyone fancies coming along, they're more than welcome, and we will be discussing books that we've been reading over the summer.  It's on Tuesday 27th August, 7-9pm, in the Navigator Room at Lowestoft Library.

LLWG July

Sorry for the delay in posting this.  I've been a busy little bee, and finally have a few minutes to get this done. On Tuesday 9th July, Lowestoft Library Writers' Group met.  Di, our fearless leader, was on holiday so I stepped into her shoes.

Homework from last month was to bring in 3 pieces of our best work which will be used for a display in September, to coincide with the Lowestoft Library Literary Festival.  Di wants us to showcase our talents.  I took along two poems and a short piece of prose.  I read out this poem.

Need Feeding

My brain isn’t working,
No poem can it find,
The tumbleweed is lurking
Inside my empty mind.

The rhythm isn’t ready,
The structure isn’t right,
The line length isn’t steady,
The metre isn’t tight.

Poem, poem come find me,
Glide from my pen to page,
Present yourself most kindly
At the forefront of the stage.

Let a sonnet be your starter
Followed by your best dressed haiku,
Then a limerick just for laugher,
Main course is a free verse stew.

Nursery rhyme at wine time,
Tongue-twister for dessert,
And after our dinner pantomime
I guess a ballad wouldn’t hurt.

Poem, poem where are you?
Why won’t you come and play?
Perhaps you have something to do,
Perhaps I have nothing to say.

I wrote this poem a few years ago when I was at university.  I was rudely awoken in the middle of the night by people being stupid outside of my flat, so rather than go outside and beat them to death with my shoe, I decided to put pen to paper and write, and this is what I came up with.  Well, this is what I came up with after quite a bit of editing once I was lucid!

***

To start the session, I asked everyone to write for 5 minutes about anything they could think of.  It didn't need to make sense or have a theme.  They just had to write and keep writing.  I tried to set the alarm on my phone to let us know when the 5 minutes were up, but I managed to set the alarm to go off an hour before the group started, which meant that it didn't go off when I wanted it to.  Good job I kept an eye on the clock!  Don't ask me what I did wrong!  I'm not technologically minded!  Anyway, this is what I came up with in the 5 minutes.

Why does it take me so long to do anything on my phone?  I'm supposed to be from the age of technology and yet my sausage fingers still aren't flexible enough to use the buttons on my phone properly.  Perhaps I should give up.  Perhaps I should become an eco-warrior living in a tree, with pigeons living in my dreadlocks, and worms between my toes.  But then I do like a shower and I do like my bed so I don't think I'd be very effective at promoting the 'save nature' cause.  And although I do like nature, it can be quite scary, with all those creepy animals making strange noises at night.  Do they make the same noises during the day.  Perhaps they're like people.  We tend to make strange noises at night.  I had a boyfriend once who said that I snored.  I don't believe him.  Women don't snore.  Well, my mum snores, and it sounds a lot different to my dad snoring.  But I know I don't snore.  I do talk in my sleep but that's probably more coherent than some of the guff I come out with during the day.

***

I handed out a sheet of lined paper to everyone in the group and asked them to write a word at the top.  We then passed the papers to the right and wrote the first word we could think of in relation to the word on the page.  We then folded over the paper so the first word was hidden, and passed the paper to the right.  We continued this process until our papers had gone around the table twice.

My words ...

Book
Worm
Dogs
Cats
Meow
Buzz
Bee
Sting
Police
Car
Jack
Ripper

I asked everyone to write a story which included every work on their list.

Jack the book-worm munched happily on an old copy of Harry Potter that he'd found discarded in the back of the wardrobe.  He didn't really like Harry Potter; he found it a bit hard to swallow, but he was hungry and didn't fancy chowing down on a mouldy old sports sock.  He licked his wardrobe home.  It was dark and comfortable, and above all it was safe.  He shared a house with four cats, two dogs, and a big old bunch of humans.  The humans were all right, but it was those inquisitive, sniffy animals he couldn't get on with, always shoving their big, black, slimy noses into every nook and cranny.  Why can't they just eat books like normal animals?  The worst bit is when Jack has a post novel nap and the cats fill the air with a glass-shattering meow.  There's no need for it.  It stings Jack's ears and sets his teeth right on edge and then he finds it difficult to chomp through his tasty pages.  They sound like defective car alarms or drunk police sirens or a swarm of asthmatic bees.  But on the quiet days, Jack can be happily found crawling around bookcases, scouting out the books that haven't been read in a while.  While some book-worms are page rippers or page tearers or page suckers, Jack is a page nibbler.  He tastes each word, each letter, each piece of punctuation.  It gives him a buzz to choose his words carefully and make up his own story.

***

The homework for this month is to write a story in either first or third person ...

You wake up one morning and find ... (choose 3 things from the following list) ... next to you in bed.  What happened last night?
  • a plate of food
  • a body part
  • an animal
  • a piece of sports equipment
  • an item of the opposite sex's clothing
  • a set of Polaroid photos
  • a bag of jewellery
  • a street sign
  • a plant
  • a wad of cash

We will be meeting again on Tuesday 13th August, with Di back in the helm. 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

August

This week's question from Dani and Jackie's Express Yourself bloghop is ...

What are you looking forward to in August?

I know I'm a little bit late in posting this as we're already in August, but I'm looking forward to the continuation of this wonderful weather.  We are having a beautiful summer here in England and I don't want it to end.  I'm not a fan of really hot weather, but I live by the coast so we get a lovely, cooling breeze which helps.  

I take my dog for long walks along the beach in all weathers, but these past few weeks we have been able to sit on the shore and stare out to sea.  It's so relaxing and calming, and looking at the vast area of openness allows you to forget about life for a short while.

So while this sun is here, I'm soaking up as much of it as I can!

What are you looking forward to in the month ahead?

Festive Festivities

Oh my goodness, I'm late again this week.  I do apologise, but it's better late than never to Celebrate The Small Things.

Firstly I would like to apologise to all the lovely bloggers participating in this bloghop.  I have been so busy over the past week with work and work related things that I've not had the chance to visit as many people as I would have wanted to, or replied to all the lovely comments left by you guys.  I will get around to it; I just need to find a few minutes to do so!

So, on to the big news.  This week I am mainly celebrating Lowestoft Library Literary Festival.  I belong to The Friends of Lowestoft Library, and we put on events and help raise money in order to buy things that the library needs.  A few months ago I suggested holding a literary festival, and everyone was extremely supportive.  The festival will take place on Saturday 28th September, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm, in the Meeting Room at Lowestoft Library.

We have 8 local authors who will be reading from their work as well as signing their books.  You can click on the authors' names below to find out more about them and their work.


There will also be free children's activities taking place throughout the day; drama games, story telling, colouring, poetry writing.  Plus, the Bookstart Bear will be making an appearance!

What more could you ask for?!


I am so super excited about this festival, as we have all worked really hard, and it looks to be a great day.

Apart from this, I am celebrating the weather - we still have sun sun sun and it's glorious.  Work is still really good, and we went out for a staff meal the other night which was loads of fun. And things with 'the boy' are still going well after a month, so I'm a happy bunny.

What are you celebrating this week?

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Alice in Kessingland

Sorry for being a day late, but I'm here Celebrating The Small Things that have happened over the last week.

Firstly, my week started off on the wrong foot, pretty much literally.  I was walking along the beach and it was quite a misty, foggy day.  Suddenly I found myself falling.  I'd got my foot caught in a rabbit hole and managed to collapse on the ground and twist my ankle.  I laid on my back for a minute or so and then got up and walked home.  Everything was fine and then my foot/ankle started to ache after dinner.  So we strapped it up and I went to bed.  But I couldn't sleep as the pain was so severe.  I couldn't put my foot flat on the floor or put any weight on it.  So my mum took me to A&E and I sat in the waiting room for a couple of hours, in pain, wanting to go home and cry.  I then got my ankle x-rayed, and waited a little bit longer.  Finally I found out that I'd damaged the tissue around my ankle, so thankfully it wasn't broken.  I was given some crutches and I managed to hobble about, although I spent more time hitting myself in the foot with the crutch than actually walking anywhere!  But it's all better now.  So I'm celebrating being able to walk.  You don't realise how important something is until you don't have it.

I'm also celebrating the wonderful weather we're having.  The sun is out.  I'm in a good mood.  I have a bit of sunburn on my back, but it's not too painful.

I've also had a nice week with 'the boy'.  It's the end of the month so we don't have much money, but we've been on some lovely walks along the beach, through parks, and we got lost in a wood (resulting in us nearly being chased by some angry guard dogs!!), and had picnics.  And we went to see The World's End at the cinema.  It's a Simon Pegg and Nick Frost film, so if you like Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Paul, you will really like The World's End.

http://www.scificool.com/edgar-wright-and-simon-pegg-vs-aliens-and-pitchers-of-beer/the-worlds-end-2013-movie-banner-poster/

What are you celebrating this week?

Monday, 22 July 2013

Write and Wrong

This week's prompt from Dani and Jackie's Express Yourself blog hop is ...

What is the most frustrating/satisfying thing about being a writer?

Hmm, this is a tricky one.  I have a love/hate relationship with writing.  I do it for two main reasons; I enjoy it, and I'm not much good at anything else.  I guess that's why people do most things, right?  But it doesn't come without its struggles.

Writing enables you to invent worlds for yourself that you'd never be able to live in real life.  You can create people and places and events that extend far outside the realms of reality.  And by doing this, it helps you to escape your own life for a short while.

I also get very excited when I have an idea and I can't wait to get it down on paper (well, computer screen).  And then the story takes on a life of its own and goes off in unexpected directions.  At that point, I get really excited.  I always have an idea of where I want a story to go, but most of the time it flips and turns and twists and I just let it flow.

And then when I've completed something, I love love love getting hold of my red pen and editing everything.  I think editing is the best part of writing.  You get to mould and shape everything until it's perfect, and then you work on it some more to make it even more perfect.  It's a bit like raising a child, but you get second and third chances if anything goes wrong.

On the negative side, I think my main frustration is people.  And by people, I mean people who aren't writers or readers.  

People:  So what do you do?
Me:  I'm a writer.
People:  Yeah, but what's your real job?

*grr*

Yes I have a day job, and thankfully it's one that I really enjoy.  But I do that to pay the bills.  My job is a writer.  I don't make money from it, but it's my raison d'ĂȘtre, it's my focus and my aim and my drive.  People who aren't writers (or artists of any description) don't seem to understand why people want to be writers.  They seem to question the point in it all.  I am confident-ish, but criticism from a non-writer is always difficult to deal with, and I feel like I have to apologise for what I do, and justify it somehow.  I know I should ignore them, but sometimes it's not that easy.

So that's why I'm so grateful for any support I get, and I always try to support writers whenever they feel a bit defeated.  Writing isn't easy, but things are often made more difficult by critical non-thinkers.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Literary Festivals Galore

Wow, what a busy week it's been.  But now I can sit back and Celebrate The Small Things.

Firstly I am celebrating the sun.  Oh my goodness, we have some summer!!  The sun really does put me in a good mood.  And of course my job is still brilliant.  I still can't believe that I love my job!

On Saturday I went down to London with an author friend, to a children's literary festival in Trafalgar Square called 'Get Reading'.  It was set up to raise awareness that 1 in 4 school leavers still don't know how to read properly.  That's quite a shocking statistic.  It was such a hot day, I think I drank twice my body weight in water, but it was worth it.  The festival wasn't as busy as I thought it would be, but I think that made it better as there was room to stand without getting crushed.  We weren't there for the whole festival, so we didn't see all the authors, but we did manage to see Anthony Horowitz, Dick and Dom (bogies!), Horrible Histories, Warwick Davis, Samuel West, and Hugh Grant.  








On Sunday I went out on my first date in a helluva long time.  And then on Wednesday I went out on my second date in a helluva long time!  We went to see Monsters University.  It was very funny, and young Mike Wazowski is so cute with his little braces!

http://www.skwigly.co.uk/monsters-university-review/

On Thursday I had my committee meeting for the Lowestoft Library Literary Festival.  We just have to make a few amendments to the poster and programme and then we'll be ready to start properly advertising and selling tickets.  I'm getting so excited!!

What are you celebrating this week?

Monday, 15 July 2013

Don't Look At Me

This weeks question from Dani and Jackie's Express Yourself blog-hop is ...

What is the biggest challenge you face socially?

I have quite a few social anxieties.  My main one is having people look at me.  I've always been tall.  I'm 5'11", which I know isn't abnormally tall, but when you're 7 years old and you're at least 6" taller than the rest of your friends, it can feel like you're a bit of a freak.  

It wasn't until I was at high school when the boys started getting their growth spurts, and finally I wasn't the tallest person in my school year.  However, I've still not felt comfortable with my height, and I tend to stoop quite a bit.  My Pilates teacher doesn't approve of the stoop, and I do manage to stand up straight in her classes, but when I get back into the real world, by spine starts to bend so that I can hide away from staring eyes.

I'm slowly coming to terms with it.  It's not something I can change so I just have to get used to.  I just get a bit paranoid that people are looking at me.  I'm quite happy to hide in the background but my height hasn't allowed me to do that.  Perhaps I should just embrace my height and stop hiding!

http://osbertabumere.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/meet-worlds-tallest-teenage-girl.html

Friday, 12 July 2013

Some Shine Sun Shine

It's the end of the week and it's time to Celebrate The Small Things.

This week I have to celebrate the sun above everything else.  It has been beautiful - not that rain and snow and wind and hail and mist and fog aren't beautiful.  In fact I really like all weather types, but I like them all at the appropriate time of year.  And the weather that we should have at this time of year is sunniness, and that's just what we've been having.  Lily and I have spent some lovely hours down the beach, playing with stones and staring out to sea.  And because it's not summer holidays yet, the beach has been very quiet.

This week I had my teen writing group and my 'adult' writing group (when I say 'adult', I'm just making a distinction between that and my teens - we write everything, not just 'adult' themed pieces!!).  They both went really well; I always feel inspired after writing group, and I think it's so important for writers to meet up with other writers, as writing can be a lonely pursuit.  We're putting together a display of our best work to go up in the library, to run alongside the Literary Festival.

I'm also celebrating that I'm going to London tomorrow to an open air children's book festival in Trafalgar Square.  I've never been to anything like that before so it should be interesting.  I'll let you know how it went next Friday.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a nifty little blog-hop over at Jaime's blog.


What I'm Reading

I finished off Wolflore by Annaliese Matheron, and boy was it a struggle!  I really don't like criticising authors as I know how difficult it is to write a book, but I really do have to question her editing team.  I have no idea how so many punctuation and grammar mistakes were allowed to slip through the net.  One or two throughout the entire book are forgivable, but not one or two on every page!  It's a shame because it could be a really exciting story, but it's ruined by the errors.

So now I've moved on to A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.  It's this month's book for Lowestoft Library Book Group.  I don't think I'll finish this one by the time we have our next meeting.  It's quite a large book with very small writing, and those books scare me!  It doesn't matter how great the book is, if it has loads of pages with small writing, I have a bit of a psychological block.  I'll read as much as I can so I'll at least have something to talk about at group!


What I'm Writing

This week I'm writing e-mails with regards to Lowestoft Library Literary Festival.  I'm also writing the agenda for the festival meeting next week.  I also need to catch up on my blogging.  I've let myself slip with posting about my Teen Writers writing group, and Lowestoft Library Writers' Group.  I usually blog the day after, letting everyone know what we've done and what we've got to do before the next meeting.  But I've been a bit naughty and haven't finished my writing prompt pieces.  So once they're done, I can get to it and write my blog posts.  Plus I've been writing a lot of Postcrossing postcards.  And finally, a work colleague has written a screen play and has asked me to have a look over it for him.  I'm always excited to read work written by someone I know, so I will be writing some constructive criticism notes for him.


What Inspires Me Right Now

The weather!  The absolutely beautiful summer weather that we've been lucky to experience this week.  We've waited a very long while for the sun to come out so I'm going to enjoy it while it's here.  Lily (my dog) and I have been spending a lot of time sitting down by the sea's edge - well, I've been doing the sitting and Lily has been running after stones and playing in the sand.  And we've enjoyed every second of it.


What Else I've Been Up To

On Friday I had a fun night out with work peeps, followed by a nice, relaxing weekend.  And this week I've been to the gym for swimming and Pilates.  I even bought myself one of those Pilates resistance bands so that I can stretch myself at home.  My leg muscles are always so tight and sometimes I find it really difficult to straighten them, so hopefully these extra exercises will help my flexibility.  This morning was quite grim and grey, so I thought I'd cheer myself up by watching a great (ha!) British zombie film, 'Gangsters, Guns & Zombies'.  It's rubbish, but in a funny way.  The acting is dreadful, but it was well worth a watch on a cold and wet Wednesday morning.


What's up with you?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Who's Hungry?


This week's question for Dani and Jackie's Express Yourself blog hop is ...

Whether watching a movie at the theatre or at home, what's your go-to snack?

I love snacking, regardless of whether or not I'm watching a film!

When I'm at the cinema, it has to be pick 'n' mix.  I know cinema pick 'n' mix is stupidly expensive, but it's a must-have treat!  My favourites are giant strawberries, white chocolate jazzies, and strawberry milkshake bottles, but I shovel in a scoop of pretty much everything (apart from jelly beans - bleurgh) so that I get a surprise.  But they are so moreish that I always end up eating all the sweets through the previews and don't have anything to eat during the film.


www.telegraph.co.uk
When I'm at home, I eat pretty much anything that's in the house!  My go-to snack at home is always a packet of crisps.  I'd never eat them in the cinema as it really irritates me when people eat loud food when I'm trying to listen to a film.  At home, if you miss something because you're crunching too loudly on a crisp you can at least rewind the film.  And then I have some ice-cream, some chocolate, some biscuits, some more chocolate, and then I pass out in a sugar coma.

Friday, 5 July 2013

It's Summer - finally!

What a lovely Friday to sit back and Celebrate The Small Things that happened over the last week.

This week I'm celebrating the summer.  Yesterday was such a beautiful, sunny day, and today has followed in yesterday's footsteps.  I've got my legs out, and am wearing a pair of shorts for the first time this year.  Yes, I look like Casper, but I don't care!  I'm going to enjoy this sun as I don't know when it'll be back!

Lily and I have just come back from a lovely walk down the beach.  There were a few people out today, but we found a quiet spot down by the sea, where we sat and watched the birds playing on the water, and Lily had fun chasing stones and burying her face in the sand.  I wish I'd taken  my camera.

I'm also celebrating a loss of weight.  I won't say how much I weigh or how much I lost, but I'm pleased with it.  And I can still touch my toes!!  So yay for the gym and for healthy eating!

My job is still great.  I feel like I've really learnt a lot there, and I'm settling in quite nicely.  I can't believe I've been there for two months.  Only four more months to go before I complete my probation and I find out whether or not it's a permanent job.

What are you celebrating this week?


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

What's Up Wednesday


What's Up Wednesday is a nifty little blog hop, over at Jaime's blog.


What I'm Reading

I am currently reading a book which was lent to me by a work colleague (who also happens to be the wife of my primary school headmaster).  It's called Wolflore by Annaliese Matheron.  I don't like criticising authors as I know how difficult it is to write and publish a book, but I am really struggling with this book.  The story isn't my kind of thing (vampires, werewolves, etc.) so I'm not going to comment on that, but I am having to fight through so many apostrophe catastrophes, comma dramas, full-stop mishaps, and capitalisation violations, plus other grammar errors and plot flaws.  Call me old fashioned, but the rules of language are extremely important generally, but more so when it comes to the written word.  

A couple of things have really niggled me ...

Page 26 - 
As Mr Blackburn said this, a large trolley of onions pushed out from the wall with a second empty trolley next to it. ...  All the members of pod four went over to the trolleys.  In the empty one they found a bucket each, containing a knife and a small chopping board.

Page 107 - 
'Well, so was the ham in this Carbonara, but your alright with eating it,' Finn said. 

Page 134 - 
Adam looked at his clock.  It was almost eleven - a bit too late to ring, so he sent a text message.
Harry, I'm sorry.  I should have told you.  Ring me.
Too serious.  He deleted that and started again.

Also, the book indicates that the story is set in England, yet the characters and narrator use Americanisms, such as parking lot (instead of car park) and teachers lounge (instead of staff room).  It is possible that the author wants to reach out to an American market, but if something is set in England, and the characters are English, surely they should use English phrases.

I will finish reading the book as I would like to find out what happens in the end, but I can't say that I'm enjoying it.  Thankfully I've only got a few more chapters to go.


What I'm Writing

My novel is always hanging around in the background, and I will get it finished eventually.  But more specifically, this week I am writing my homework for my Teen Writing Group, which is to write a review of a book/film/song.  I know what I'm going to write about; I just need to write it.

I'm also planning activities and homework for the Lowestoft Library Writers' Group and Lowestoft Library Teen Writers.  Our intrepid leader for the Writers' Group is on holiday so I'm stepping into her chair for one session.  I quite like running the group, as I get to inflict my odd sense of creativity on the members!


What Inspires Me Right Now

Work is still high up on my list of inspiration.  I love walking around the library, putting books back on the shelves, and seeing the wonderful variety of literature out there.  One day I will be a part of that.

The lead up to Lowestoft Library Literary Festival is also inspiring.  I'm so excited to be a part of an event which celebrates authors and the array of words that float around inside their brains (and eventually make their mark on paper).


What Else I've Been Up To

I have spent the last week or so trawling through boxes upon boxes that had been living in my parent's loft for the past 30 years!  My parents kept hold of EVERYTHING, from scraps of paper that I scribbled on as soon as I knew how to hold a pen, up to all of my university paperwork.  We've always been hoarders, but now it's time to get rid of all the unnecessary things cluttering up our lives.  It's been quite cathartic, throwing away all the things I don't need.  I've still got a way to go, but I'm getting there.  And I've had a lovely trip down memory lane, reading a lot of books from my childhood.


How has your week been?

Monday, 1 July 2013

Plans

This week's question for Dani and Jackie's Express Yourself blog hop is ...

What are your plans for the 4th, if you celebrate, if not, what do you have planned this week?

Being English, we don't take part in 4th of July celebrations.  So this week I will mainly be working (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday).  I like this week, as I work the first half of the week, and then I'm not back at work until Thursday of next week.  I get a nice seven days off every four weeks.  Lovely jubbly!

I will also be going to the gym.  My Pilates teacher is off in the Pyrenees this week, so no Pilates for me this week.  I do enjoy my Pilates classes, so that will be missed this week.  I will be going swimming and working out in the gym though, and if the weather stays like it was this weekend, a nice swim will be very much appreciated.

On Thursday I will be meeting up with a friend and fellow writer to have a brain-storming session about how we can better promote ourselves as authors, and get our books sold.  We have some ideas; we just need to think about how to get them off the ground.

A group of us from work are going out on Friday evening for a couple of bevvies.  This is my first 'work' outing so it'll be nice to get to know them on a more social level.

And of course I will be reading, writing, watching television, and spending time with my pooch (but not all at the same time!)

Friday, 28 June 2013

Website

We've survived another week and now it's time to Celebrate The Small Things.

I have quite a big thing to celebrate this week, and that is ... I have a website!  I've been umm-ing and aah-ing about it for ages, and I've been 'building' websites on those free providers, but I finally got around to finishing one off and paying for it.  The free options are good, but they give you an awful web address, like www.rebeccahgiltrow.flurb.com/blurghdiblurgh.rebeccah (ha!  I made that up, but you get the idea).  So now I am the proud owner of da-da-da


It's quite exciting to have one of those website thingies.  I know I have a blog, but a website properly advertises me as an author, and my books.

I'm also celebrating Book Group this week.  Last month we read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows.  I read this book a few years ago, so was glad to read it again.  I really enjoyed it both times.  It's a fairly easy read, and the story drags you in pretty much straight away.  It's about recovering from the Nazi occupation of Guernsey, which is obviously a horrible subject, but it's really worth reading.

I can still touch my toes, which has really made me happy.  My Pilates teacher has put together a little instruction booklet for stretching the legs, and is going to sell that along with a stretchy band, so next time I see her I'm going to buy one, just to keep myself fit and flexible.

I've found another blog hop to get involved in.  I've joined up to What's Up Wednesday, which encourages readers and writers to note down their progress.  I think three blog hops per week is enough to keep me busy - Express Yourself on Monday, What's Up Wednesday on Wednesday, and Celebrate The Small Things on Friday.  Other bloggers are very friendly and supportive, which is great, and I also really enjoy reading about what other people are getting up to.  This blogosphere is an interesting place.

Work is still good.  I love my job; some of the people aren't particularly agreeable, but the job is enjoyable.  I took it upon myself to organise a very messy book display this week, and it looks so much better after a bit of time and care.  It's kind of hidden away at the back of the library, but it frustrated me every time I tried to find a book and couldn't because all the books were shelved in a random order.  It now looks very pretty, and it's so much easier to find things.  

And of course I'm celebrating my Lily and my parents.  They brought her to meet me from my book group, and Lily was so excited to see me.  Whatever has upset me (if anything) during the day, seeing her smiling face always makes me smile.  I don't know what I'd do without her.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

LLBG - June

Yesterday, Lowestoft Library Book Group met to discuss The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

I read this book a few years ago, so was pleased to read it again.  It's a story about an author living in London during and after World War II.  She finds out about a literary society in Guernsey, and writes letters to the members in order to find out about their group and their life on the island during the Nazi occupation.  The book is the collection of her correspondence.

Initially, it can get a bit confusing as you're not always sure who is the voice of each letter (there's no real distinction between the characters), but once you immerse yourself in the story, it doesn't really matter who's 'speaking'.  The ending does seem a bit rushed and a bit twee, and there are a couple of elements throughout the book which seem unnecessary in the greater scheme of things.  But these things can be forgiven.

Most people enjoyed the book, even though there were a few niggly bits.  But those who enjoyed it hadn't wanted the book to end, and were contemplating what the sequel could be about.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 30th July and we will be discussing A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a nifty little blog hop, over at Jaime's blog.


What I'm Reading

A few months ago I took part in World Book Night.  This night celebrates everything to do with, well, books!  The lovely organisers at World Book Night put together a list of great books, which people can give away for free.  I chose to give away The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford at an event hosted by Lowestoft Library.  At the event, other 'givers' were giving away different books.  I picked up The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness because it looked like something I could enjoy.  It has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of months, but I decided to finally pick it up last week and start reading it.  So far, I'm really enjoying it.


What I'm Writing

My WIP is plodding along quite nicely.  At the moment I'm only managing to find time to write on Sundays.  At my last word count I was up to 44,000 words, which is half a novel, so I really need to get a shimmy on! I'm happy with what I've written so far, but I stepped out of my normal writing routine with this one.  I usually write a complete story from beginning to end, and then edit.  But this time I've written the beginning and the end, and have to go back to fill in the gaps.  I just hope I can make them match!


What Inspires Me Right Now

I think work is inspiring me at the moment.  Working in a library and being around all those lovely books really gives me the urge to get on and write so that I can share the shelves with those great authors.


What Else I've Been Up To

This week has mainly consisted of me working (which I still love), organising the Lowestoft Library Literary Festival (which will be taking place on Saturday 28th September), and going to Book Group.

Oh, and I also set myself up a website ...
www.rebeccahgiltrow.com


What's going on in your life this week?

Monday, 24 June 2013

Press Play

This week's prompt for Dani and Jackie's Express Yourself blog hop is ...

What band, singer, or group would be featured most in your WIP or life?

I love music.  I always have to have music on in the background.  Silence freaks me out.  I collect and collate my music with the help of last.fm, and every week, month, or year I can see a list of what I've listened to.  I tend to put my music on shuffle so that I'm always surprised by what comes on next.  If you're interested in my last.fm profile, you can have a looksee here.

last.fm has been tracking my music since 24th May 2006, which is quite a helluva long time.  According to this list (which obviously isn't exclusive, as I listen to the radio, watch music television, and spend a lot of time on youtube) my most played artistes are ...

1 = Buck 65
(2,342 plays)


2 = Placebo
(2,228 plays)


(1,854 plays)


(1,195 plays)


(965 plays)



This list does not encompass my taste in music, but it's a bit of a start, and all of them are worth listening to.

And as for my WIP (currently untitled) ... it's the sequel to my first novel, Lexa Wright's Dating Sights, and Lexa, the main character, is a big fan of 90s brit pop, so while she's going about her life there's no doubt that she's listening to ...