Friday, April 17, 2009

Is it wrong to leave this for a while?

Over the past few weeks I have found it very hard to get any writing done.  We have been so busy with one thing and another (I won't bore you with all the gory details here but I will be updating my blog very soon) and I just haven't had the time or to be honest the inclination to get down to work.

But last night, in the wee small hours, when I was tossing and turning, I started a story in my head, you know what it's like, you meet someone by chance and you start making up a story about them - well OK maybe you don't but I do - and believe me it can be a curse.  Sometimes I create such a convoluted tale that if I ever meet them again I have trouble separating fact from fiction - sorry I digress - so this morning I get up and last night's story is still there right in front of me, so rather than fight it I decided to put Max's story on hold and write down this new tale.

So here it is, the beginings of a new novel on a new website 
The first 2000 words of the first draft are written and I would very much appreciate it if you would take a gander and tell me what you think - be honest - (but always remembering that I am a sensitive soul who is prone to tears if she has too much negative criticism)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Here's the thing

It was while I was looking at some of my notes earlier today, I began to think that if any of you are new to my blog you might be wondering why I am posting 'part' chapters of the story (and not very well written ones at that) well without boring my old faithfuls, it might be good time to set out my stall - so to speak.

This blog is a work in progress - you are seeing everything I'm doing, warts and all.  I can't see the point in editing and rewriting behind the scenes only to present you with huge posts of the finished chapters just to try impress you, or worse still, to hope for lots of comments like 'gosh what a clever girl you are' 'I never knew you had it in you'  'who would have thought that when you were pretending to buy that TV when you were Mystery Shopping that really there was a budding author just waiting to burst out' Although the occasional word of encouragement wouldn't go amiss!!

Seriously though, when I originally set up this blog it was so that you could see how I am coping with every thing to do with writing my very first novel, everything from the research,  through the story development as well as the first drafts, live and uncensored. I wanted you to see  how I have travelled from an idea to hopefully the finished article (and every step along the way).

So there you are, you are reading about how I'm writing my first novel as well as the story as it grows, changes, gets better or more probably as I bin one draft and move onto the next - and between you and me, this is not as easy as it sounds.  So wish me well and keep reading...


Wednesday, March 11, 2009


With the sounds of the ward surrounding him like a heavy blanket, Max lay there, unmoving,  trying to make sense of the situation.  The last thing that he could remember was sitting having a drink in the sunshine.  The Klimt exhibition had been a real treat, especially after being stuck all morning listening to his fellow directors panicking about the state of the economy. Dear God, what did they know about recession? They were all far too young to have been working during the last one.  If he’d had his way, Max wouldn’t have anyone under 50 on the board of such an influential construction company such as Napier’s.  Stupid bastards were more interested in the price of their preferential shares instead of worrying how the company could keep the workforce busy at a time when so many of their potential clients were cancelling jobs left right centre.  

After a morning like that, even the hundreds of tourists milling around the Albert Dock hadn’t spoilt Max’s pleasure of being back in Liverpool again.  With the sun warming his old bones he felt content  as he had sat outside one of the trendy bars that fringed the dock ,sipping a cold beer and watching the cormorants dive into the still water.  

‘Max, what are you doing, why don’t you open your eyes?’

It too hard, he thought to himself, it’s easier just to lie here.

‘Come on my love, it’s not your time yet, you’ve got to try and wake up.’

Rosie always made sense, even when times had been tough for them; it was Rosie who pulled them through.  Max knew that he hadn’t always been the best father to young John; he should have made more time to be with him when he was growing up but his darling Rosie had made sure that his son knew that everything Max did was for them, for the family.  

The first time he saw his beautiful Rosie he knew that she was the only girl he would ever love.  With her flame red hair and her porcelain white skin she captured heart in a way that he never believed possible. Their love was complete, enduring, all consuming.  

‘Max my love please, please, open you eyes.’

As the sounds of the ward grew fainter, Max started to drift further and further back to a time, an another warm and gentle time, when he could run all day and never feel tired, when his skin would be tanned by the warm summer sun, when life was sweet and his future was a story still to be told. 

Running through the forest, Max realised that he was happy to be back; it had been so long since he had felt this carefree.  As he ran, he marvelled at the breeze blowing through his sun bleached hair.  Glancing down he saw that his feet were bare and even though he was running through last autumn’s dry leaves they felt as soft as if he was running on the finest carpet.  He knew that he should get home before it nightfall. His Mother worried about her youngest son if he was away from the farm after dark these days.  She kept telling him that it wasn’t safe, but even with all the talk of war Max knew that he had nothing to worry about, not even the Nazi’s would be brave enough to invade Poland, not when his big brothers joined the Army, Marek and Pawel were more than a match for any man.  Even so, it didn’t do to upset Matka, she might be probably the tiniest woman in the world, he laughed to himself, but you didn’t want to see her when she was angry, not even his great bear of  Father would dare to cross her, in their family her temper was legendary.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chapter 1,1

Today of all days he couldn’t afford to be late leaving work.  With the noise of the hectic A&E Dept still ringing in his ears and the adrenalin of one too many cups of lukewarm coffee cursing through his veins, SHO Dominik Napier was determined that he would be at the hotel in plenty of time to meet his Grandfather.  

Dom had been looking forward to this weekend ever since his Grandpa had phoned to say that he was coming up to Liverpool and not even the sound of yet another ambulance pulling up outside was enough to stop him rushing to the Doctors’ room to change from his scrubs. 

When Dom was a little boy, Max loved to tell his only Grandson tales of his childhood growing up on the family farm outside Warsaw The hot endless summers spent playing in the woods with his big brothers and the cold winter nights huddled around the fire listening to his Mother playing the piano.  Dom would listen and long for the day when he was old enough to visit his Grandpa’s homeland, never realising that it wasn’t only people who were casualties of war, whole countries suffered too.

As he pulled his holdall out of his locker Dom was startled when the Sister in charge of A&E came crashing through the door.

‘Dom, thank God you haven’t left yet, we’ve an emergency just arrived.’

‘ Not tonight’ he groaned ‘where’s Cathy? You know I wanted to get away on time.’

‘Cathy has been called down to ITU. Come on Dom there’s nobody else; do you want this old bugger to die?’

‘As you asked so nicely Sister how can I refuse’ said Dom putting his stethoscope back around his neck.  ‘Where is he?’

Reluctantly following the Sister into the end cubicle Dom looked at horror at the old man lying on the trolley.  His face was the colour of wax and the telltale droop to his mouth indicated that this poor old chap had suffered a massive stroke.  Dom gently took hold of old man’s hand as he looked up at the nurse and said.

‘Can you call Mr Grogan down please; I think that my Grandfather needs some help here.’

‘Oh Dom I’m so sorry I didn’t realise, I just thought he was some old chap.’

‘Well you weren’t wrong Sister, he is some old chap, it’s just that he happens to be my old chap.’ Said Dom turning to hide the tears that he knew were well up in his eyes. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mind Mapping

I couldn't believe it when I heard that there was a new online Mind Mapping website,  This just the thing I have been looking for so that you can see how I scribble away trying to make some kind of order out of all my ideas.  As you know I have wasted more hours than I care to mention trying other formats, so I was thrilled when I found that by embedding a little bit of code I could attach this map for your perusal.

There are a couple of things I should explain before you scroll down to it though.  To be able to see the whole map you will need to click and hold on the image and then move the cursor up, down etc to navigate around it, or you could use the magnifying glasses at the bottom left of the map to zoom in and out.  Also behind the main ideas (those in bold) I have attached notes and you will need to hover your cursor over the idea to revel them.

I hope that this all makes sense but if you have any questions regarding the mapping please don't hesitate in getting in touch.

(PS you can also find me now on Twitter - catch the link on the right hand side of the screen - you might have to scroll down a little)

Mind Mapping

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


OK it's time to be honest with you - I have been making every excuse under the sun not to get on with writing the novel. Everything  from 'the dogs need walking' to 'I've got to go down to London' to 'we're having the kids home for the weekend and I need to cook the fatted calf' but the truth is all  am doing is procrastinating - well that and writing something that is just fun and rather silly and didn't need any planning or research or even very much thought.  

So what does all this mean? It means that I'm a bad person and I'm sorry and I promise that I will give myself a good talking to and you can expect to see the fruits of my labours very soon.

In the meantime would you like to see how I wasted my time?

The Water Tower

Chapter 1

Harry pushed back the covers and gingerly swung his legs out of the bed. Maybe that late night run along the waterfront hadn't been such a good idea. Too many hours sitting in the office was beginning to take it's toll on his once honed physique. Padding through to the lounge Harry threw back the drapes and marvelled yet again at the spectacular view across the Mersey to the Silver Jubilee Bridge. Since the new Mersey Gateway Bridge opened the old bridge was now a mecca for the early morning joggers and cyclists taking advantage of the lack of traffic and the warm summer sun.

Harry's morning routine was always the same, fresh coffee made with his own blend of rich aromatic beans before his shower and then a healthy breakfast of freshly squeezed juice and two slices of wholemeal toast. Harry liked routine at home. His apartment in The Deck complex suited his personality, functional, trendy and floor to ceiling widows bathing the small apartment in sunshine.

After dressing carefully in his bottle green uniform, Harry tidied his bed and put his breakfast dishes into the waiting dishwasher. Satisfied that everything was in order he locked the front door and made his way to the underground car park. At this time in the morning he rarely saw any of his neighbours, he knew that most of them were City workers and wouldn't have to leave for work for another hour to catching the high speed links to Liverpool and Manchester. This suited Harry, he didn't like conversation this early in the morning, at least not until he was at work and even then only when necessary.

Unlocking his small white van Harry smiled yet again at the Dog Catcher legend on the side panel, the boss really did of a sense of humour he thought, and in their business they needed one. As usual the traffic was light along the four lane Expressway. Since the era of the Credit Crunch people were reluctant to make too many car journeys, high fuel prices mean fewer journeys as the Ministry of Information adverts sang out night after night on the TV, conserve fuel share your journey, all we need is 'bath with a friend' and we will have gone full circle back to the 1970's he laughed to himself.

Turning off the Expressway Harry made his way down the quiet suburban streets to his office at the Water Tower. If any of the local residents wondered why Halton's Dog Catchers were based at the Norton Water Tower they were far too polite to ask. 

When all the social housing in Windmill Hill had been replaced by the new executive gated communities a lot of the old community spirit had been replaced by a new feeling of place. Not so much community more a sense of I'm all right Jack, good jobs, nice houses and a Government that was living up to it's post Crunch promise of being there for the people, the chosen people, the New Middle Class or Nimcs as they had been labeled by the press. No longer would the affluent Nimcs have to share their space with the unemployed or low wage earners, the new social housing bill had seen to that and the North West Regional Assembly had designated North Warrington as the Social Housing area for the region. Everyone agreed that they were better off all in one place, it made sense, well at least to the Nimcs.

Harry parked his van in front of the stone cottage next to the Water Tower and placing the third finger of his left hand against print recognition panel on the front door, went inside. Theprevious residents of the cottage had long gone, replaced by a secure high speed lift down to the fortified sub basement level. Outside the lift Harry slipped off his green sweatshirt and replaced it with the freshly laundered white coverall that was ready waiting for him in his locker.

As he punched today's code into the security panel the airlock door hissed open and Harry walked down the corridor to his office under the Water Tower.

'Anything interesting in last night's log?'

Sally glanced over from her monitor 'Just two messages from control about the new Mexican oil reserves.'

'Has the Dow Jones started reacting yet?'

'Yes and the White House is looking at ways to 'help' the Mexican President with his expansion plans. Do you think that the Americans will ever learn that their expertise is worth jack shit these days?'

'Control calculates that it will take at least another generation.' laughed Harry as he settled himself at his work station and logged on. 'Unless one of the new post-crunch nations decides that they should be taught a lesson in humility'

to be continued (or maybe not)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


For days now I have been in a literary no mans land. 

No matter how hard I tried and believe me, I have been beating myself up about this, I  haven't been happy with the dozens of 'first attempts' that have ended up in the bin.  Nothing was gelling, everything I tried seemed either too contrived, too wordy, far too confusing or just plain rubbish.  I've been getting more and more disheartened and last week I was seriously considering putting all the research away in a locked cupboard so that I could move on from it.

Then last night everything changed.

There I was sitting watching the TV and it came to me, it was like one of those eureka moments, I'd finally realised how to start the novel. 

'That's it' I shouted to the dogs who were sprawled across the settees.  
'I'm going to have Max's grandson investigate his grandfather a la 'Who Do They Think They Are'. 

It will still be Max's story but now with the twist that it is through Dom's investigations that the story will unfold.

I feel as if a weight has been lifted and I now feel able to start writing.  

And what do the dogs think about it? well not a lot, but they were impressed when I celebrated by putting the kettle on and dishing out the Bonios  (those damn biscuits are just too dry without a cuppa!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Writers Block

If I'd been using a typewriter today rather than a computer,  I would now have a waste basket full of scrumpled up paper.

I've tried so many times to get started it's untrue.  I just can't get the first paragraph down on paper.  All the planning is done, the research is stored and the ideas are flowing so what's wrong with me, why can't I get started on the actual writing.  This block has now lasted two days.  I find so many other things to do rather than sit in front of the computer with a blank word document open in front of me.  So far this week I have wasted hours on Twitter, sorted through old photos making Web Albums to send to my family and have walked the legs off the poor dogs.  In fact the only thing I haven't done is reseed the lawn and that's only because the ground's been frozen.  

So what now, do I put this novel and all the many hours I've spent on research, on a metaphorical shelf and leave it until some far off distant day when I feel more confident about starting it again?  

Should I try and write something new, something easier like Spanish Steps, after all that was fun to write and the mad plot lines and even madder characters just seemed to pop into my head - and not always after consuming large amounts of alcohol!

Or should I have another bash at it and just sit here until the creative juices start flowing again?

Bugger , bugger, bugger.......about the only thing I don't feel guilty about at the moment is that at least I haven't used up half a forest getting precisely nowhere!

Friday, January 30, 2009

I miss my Mum and Dad

I wish that I had listen more to my Mum and Dad when they were talking about the war.  I wish they were still here so that I could ask them one of the thousands of questions about Liverpool in the post war years that they would have been able to answer in the blink of an eye. 

I wasn't a bad daughter and I loved to hear their reminiscences but I didn't ask enough questions, though mind you I didn't know that some years down the line I was going to have a stab at writing a book.

It's the little things that are the hardest to find out, when did the the milkman start delivering milk in bottles rather than from a large churn on the back of a cart? When the NHS was born did it mean from day one that you had access to a free GP or did you still have to pay to see your old one until new doctors had been trained up?  What was the name of the perm solution you used (Twink rings a bell) and was it available during the war? Did 'nice' girls use gravy browning on their legs when they couldn't get stockings or was that just the floosies?

I've found some  videos on YouTube of Liverpool in the 1950's and London in the swinging 60's that give a real flavour of the time.  If you fancy looking at them you can find the links in the Research section at the bottom of this page - happy viewing...BUGGER - I must have been more addled than I thought the other night when  was trawling YouTube - just realised that I haven't saved the links in Research  -  Sod it, it looks like I'll have start all over again!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Try the ONS.....

Do you remember I was trying to find out if Max would have needed a passport or some other form of identity papers to get a marriage licence in the 1940's, well here is the definitive answer from the ONS (that's The Office of National Statistics to you and me) - and all it took was one email - 

I  am  writing  in response to your recent email in which you enquire about
giving  notice in the second world war. For the purposes of taking a notice
of marriage in the 1930's and 1940's the Superintendent Registrar had to be
satisfied  that  the  information  supplied  by  each  person  was correct.
However,  I  can  confirm  that  there  was  no  legislation  that required
documentary evidence to be supplied to support the information given.

I  am afraid I cannot advise on the requirements of a refugee to be allowed
to  enter  the  United  Kingdom  during  the  second world war. Perhaps the
National Archives, or the Red Cross may be able to help.

Yours sincerely

Marriages and Civil Partnerships Casework Manager

I just love this country!!