Ghouls, Ghosts and Goblins

On Halloween they emerge from the underworld trawling the streets for victims. Weapons in hand, swag slung over one shoulder. Travelling from house-to-house they collect their ‘gold’ and shriek into the night. Then head home to munch on sweets.

Skeleton Halloween Outfit

Skeletons, witches and zombies.

Children love Halloween. 

As a parent I am in two minds about Halloween. I love seeing the kids in the neighbourhood dressed up and knocking on doors to collect sweets. I enjoy looking at the houses decorated with pumpkins, skeletons and candles. But Halloween falls at the end of October. It is bleak. The wind is brisk and strong and the chill in the air makes its way into your bones. Brrr.

Fiona Halloween OutfitShrek Halloween Outfit
Two years ago the hubby and I wore outfits too. The hubby dressed up as Shrek and I was Fiona, the kids thought it was great. I was freezing, the dress I had on was thin and didn’t protect me from the bitter wind. But it was fun entertaining the little ones in the houses we visited. 

This year the hubby and I aren’t dressing up but the boys love it just the same. They’re looking forward to going out in the dark, visiting the decorated houses and getting their bags filled with sweets. They’ll be full of smiles when we return home and Halloween will be over for another year.

As much as I hate being out on an autumnal evening I know I’ll miss it when the kids are older. When they decide they’re too old for dressing up I’ll wish I could take them trick-or-treating. 

I will make the most of the next few years of Halloween. I’ll take pictures and enjoy the time, even after the sweets are gone.

What do you do to get into the spirit of Halloween?

Exercise Anyone?

Exercise is important.

Or so the experts say. It reduces the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and if you need to, helps you lose weight. The more exercise we do the healthier we are. And yet so many of us find it difficult to drag our lazy butts to a gym. Including me.

I’ve found that carving out 30 minutes for a power-walk in a morning has done wonders. After dropping the kids off at school but before starting chores at home I walk with friends. While doing my walk I get to chat to friends and catch up on gossip as well as getting that all-important exercise. 

Thirty minutes every day…

I don’t walk every day, and in the holidays I don’t walk at all. 

How do I get exercise in the school holidays? 

I go on the treadmill or do yoga. The treadmill is harder, especially when the kids are home and LP comes running into the garage asking for a drink just as I’m sprinting. I tend to save treadmill for school days.

Yoga is different. In the past I attended a class, which I enjoyed very much, but it got cancelled. A few days ago, as I was suffering with backache, I decided to check out videos on YouTube. I found a brilliant one for beginners (find it here), watched it and tried it out. At only 20 minutes long it was enough to stretch out my body and ease the aches. And it doesn’t matter if the kids come in to talk - bonus!

Start small

When you’re first starting out with a new exercise regime I suggest starting with small changes. Start out with the occasional walk. Once you’re ready add in a minute of running or jogging. Then two minutes. Eventually you’ll find you’re running for 20 minutes.

When I do get the chance to run on the treadmill I run for a mile without stopping, that’s my limit at the moment. At the mile mark I slow to a power-walk for a minute, have a drink of water, and run again. The second mile is more like that, power-walk and run, but I am getting there. I know that I’ll get to running that 2 miles in no time.

If I can go from being 14st 8lbs and never running to 10st 9lbs and running on a weekly basis then anyone can.

Do you have any tips for anyone starting a new regime?
What would be your questions if you’re the one starting?

Half-Term Writing Holiday

So it’s half-term; holiday for the kids and holiday from writing the novel. After my great week of progress two weeks ago I would normally be annoyed that the holidays were so soon. It always happens - soon after I make good progress the kids are on holiday. But this time I’m not as bothered by it. In fact I’m welcoming the break.

Last week I was struggling with one of my darker characters. His actions scared me and I didn’t want to delve any deeper into his psyche. As it turned out all I needed was a morning to myself with no distractions. A time I could let go of me. 

On Thursday last week I spent the morning immersed. I let go of my fears, played less ‘happy’ music, and wrote. I found that magic spot when I didn’t even need to think. The writing just happened. Before I knew it I’d written 1,003 words and along the way learned about a pivotal moment in my character’s life. His motives surprised me and I understood him better. He turned out to be deeper than I had anticipated.

Allowing the character to fill my mind took me to a dark place that I was glad to let go of when I’d finished. I had a coffee, spent the afternoon on the internet and enjoyed time with the kids. But the chapter continued to play on my mind. I’m glad it’s half-term because I can leave the darkness behind and play with the kids. 

I’m hoping to get blogging done and am trying to formulate a routine. If it works out my posts should be more regular. Once the kids are back at school I’ll factor in time for the novel too.This working at home is more complicated than I thought it’d be!

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Sinful Characters

Have you ever sat to write, imagined the character you’re writing about and wondered why on earth they’re doing what they’re doing?

Silhouette of a man

Their acts are so beyond your understanding that it seems impossible to write. Yet somehow you have to.

I have a character who is handsome and charming. He’s a man who could talk you into loving him. A man who would do anything to make you his. But…

Beneath all that he is broken. His fractured personality makes me afraid. I’m scared of the depths he’ll go to. I’m terrified he’ll unleash a part of my own personality I didn’t know was there. 

I’m stuck. To write my next chapter I need to listen to the sinful part of him; to subject myself to his depravity. The part of me that is quite happy where I am (thank-you-very-much) wants nothing to do with him. Then there’s the other part, the little voice in the back of my head pressing me to ask questions that would make him mad. 

My own fear is holding me back.

Understanding his motives is one thing, but I need to be there while he does what he does. I would say ‘a fly on the wall’ but it’s more than that. I have to feel what he feels; think as he does. 

When this character came to me his story unfolded. I knew I’d be researching sensitive topics but it didn’t sink in. I didn’t realise how complicated things would get.

As a mother and a wife how do I get to that dark place? When school-runs and chores are in the back of my mind how can I join my character in his madness?

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Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light - Review & Giveaway

A few weeks ago I received Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light to review. It is a book I'd never heard of but thought it might be something BP would enjoy reading. I'm always looking out for books to encourage him to read more.

Skulduggery Pleasant

Here's a teaser...

SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: The Dying of the Light 

The FINAL shocking, heart-wrenching book in the jaw-droppingly stupendous Skulduggery Pleasant series. 
Valkerie. Darquesse. Stephanie. The world ain’t big enough for the three of them. The end will come… 
The War of the Sanctuaries has been won, but it was not without its casualties. Following the loss of Valkyrie Cain, Skulduggery Pleasant must use any and all means to track down and stop Darquesse before she turns the world into a charred, lifeless cinder.And so he draws together a team of soldiers, monster hunters, killers, criminals… and Valkyrie’s own murderous reflection. 
The war may be over, but the final battle is about to begin. And not everyone gets out of here alive…

With a book like this I wait for BP to read the story and then ask him to tell me about it. But as the book is large (605 pages) I figured I'd get through it far quicker so I read it first. At least that's my official reason. BP is working his way through book 1 in the series - Skulduggery Pleasant.

I wasn't sure what to expect, after all it's an older children's book. And the last in a series of 10. Could I read the last story first?

Well, as it turns out, YES I could. The book was hard to put down, and I was pleasantly (hehe) surprised. I am not ashamed to say I will back and read the other books. I enjoyed the story, the characters and their adventures.

There were a few references to things that had happened (in earlier books) that made me want to go back and read the other stories. It wasn't distracting or jarring and I followed the story without knowing anything about the characters' other adventures.

When I picked up the book to continue reading I transported into their world and felt like the characters were alive. Or dead, as the case may be. Skulduggery Pleasant is a brilliant character who provides comedic relief in times of tension but is also a good friend to have around in a sticky spot. I found myself wanting to know more about this mysterious detective.

I don't usually enjoy fantasy books but this one grabbed me right from the start. Even though there were monster hunters, dead people, and magical powers I believed it all. I laughed along with characters breathed faster in the 'fight' scenes. 

I know BP will enjoy Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light and if this last one is anything to go by, he will enjoy all the others too. I'd recommend this series of books.


I am offering readers a chance to win a copy of Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light. Simply enter the rafflecopter giveaway.

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I was sent Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light for review. This is an honest review and all opinions are my own.

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Finishing Drafts or Editing

Last week I was very pleased with myself. Having written 10, 289 words and made lots of progress with the novel I was on a roll. But as with all creative things, the roll came to a stop, and it wasn't a slow and steady stop either, oh-no, this was a crash-into-a-brick-wall stop. 

Lots of non-writing related things have cropped up this week and sucked the time away. One minute my fingers flew across the keys and the next I couldn't get any time in front of the computer. Tuesday (midday) is the first time I have looked at my computer since Friday. Kids parties, chores and meetings stole my writing time.

At the end of last week I made the terrible mistake of reading what I'd written. It was dreadful. I re-read it to jog my memory but instead I gave the self-doubt demon an entrance. All day Friday I battled the awful creature and tried to convince myself it didn't matter if the draft was rubbish; editing would sort it out. Nothing helped though and no words came.

All weekend I've thought about the novel and the self-doubt demon is gone, at least for now. But now I'm wondering about something else. I gave my first chapter to a friend a few weeks ago and she loved it. She keeps asking me about the next chapter but it's not ready. Do I go back and edit the second chapter so she can read it or do I carry on and finish the draft? I'd love to get feedback but maybe it's too soon and I'll lose momentum if I edit.

I know in earlier weeks and on others' blogs I've advised to finish the draft first but when the opportunity for feedback comes along do you ignore it? I'd love to hear what you all think.

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Writing Update

This past week I have written 10,289 words. 9,388 of them were part of the novel, the other 901 words were me getting the story straight in my head.

My road ahead looks clear. I wonder where that bend will take me?

Every day I wake and wonder how much writing I'll get done. Yesterday I even skipped my usual morning walk (it was raining lots) so the grocery shopping got done sooner. This meant that by 11.15 yesterday morning I was back in front of the computer.

My usual routine when I sit down to work is to check my emails and respond, check social networks, and write any blog posts I had planned. Once that is done I move onto reading and responding to others' blog posts. This left me with no time to create.