Dear Diary… Who Am I Writing For?

Me, my dog and my 2018 diary

Whenever I pick up a pen or open my lap top, I think about two things. What am I going to write? Who is it for?

A lot of my scribbling is for myself. To-do lists, research notes, my diary and the first drafts of every novel. I’m emptying ideas from my head so I can look at them in the cold light of day.

Are you a list maker? I love writing  to-do lists. They are wishful thinking and I never ever tick everything off but they help me to get a few things done.

  • Mop floors
  • Prepare a curry-tick
  • Clean windows
  • water plants – tick
  • iron
  • write 2000 words -tick

Do you find some tasks just don’t get ticked off? For me, chores like windows and floors,  can carry over for days!

This year, I kept a personal diary for the first year in ages. It started because my sister, Pam, bought me a brilliant ‘Me.You’ diary created by Dawn French.

This is such an inspired book! It’s full of suggestions, musings and blank pages. It is flexible and without dates and I found that I loved writing in it.

Looking through the pages, I see it is stuffed with big ideas, dreams and aspirational quotes that I liked but didn’t always live by. It is also crammed with rants and moans and whinges. A diary is a good place for all those thoughts –   a private record of the topsy turvy year I have journeyed through.

Will I be keeping a diary again this year? Oh yes! You see, a lot of my daily writing finds an audience.
My Facebook posts tend to have a glossy filter. Do yours?
My tweets are for a wide audience and any comments n there are positive or, if they are negative, about bigger issues than my own little niggles.
My blog tends to focus on the brighter side of my life. This writing is a ‘true’ picture of my life – I always try to be authentic-  but it is an edited version because I try to find the good side or the humour in any struggles. 
My novels only go to readers after three or four drafts that have been read and revised by me.

A diary is somewhere to harvest and store happy memories too.

Here is the ‘I Instantly Smile when…’ page.

 

I love my diary, so private, full of my ideas, dreams, smiles, moans and grumbles and a great way to get rid of those thoughts that stop you from sleeping.  
If, like me, you haven’t tried keeping a personal diary for a while, why don’t you give it a try. You don’t need to write every day but it is there when you have something to mull over.

Keeping a diary yea  or nay? I’d love to hear from you.

Happy New Year!

 

2018- Walking sticks and crutches

 


I spent January on sticks  after a hip replacement and worked hard to regain my fitness. Oh the joy of walking, playing golf and being active without suffering hip and back pain.

I hobbled around during my holiday last December. Yes, I really struggled during our  trip to Egypt but this December would be different! We were returning to Egypt and  I dreamed  of strolling along the beach, using the pool and exploring without the onset of a nagging pain  and need to sit down for a while.

Day 1 – I slipped getting out of the pool and fractured a bone in my pelvis. Back on crutches for the holiday and for the next eight weeks.
Yes, it’s a disappointment. No. It’s not the end of the world. I’m ending the year like I started it but I’m here. It will pass and my arms are very toned!

 

A Grand Book Blogging Tour – Launching the book part 2

After the book launch

The Barn of Buried Dreams

Last month, after launching my book, I sat back and watched the number of books sold grow and the number of reviews increase. I should add slowly because it was great fun  but a bit slower than I would want. I knew the reason why – I needed to promote further afield than my blog, my Facebook page, instagram and twitter.

I had to  venture out into other people’s social media

My books are not in shops and readers have to go onto Amazon to find them so the only way I can promote ‘The Barn of Buried Dreams’ is by raising awareness that it is out there by using my social media platforms. To attract readers who aren’t already friends, I must venture forth and use other people’s media space by asking them to allow me to blog or asking them to review my book.

This is scary stuff!

It is scary because a blogger can say ‘No, I don’t want you on my site and I don’t want to read your book, either!’  This, for me, is a time when you call in an expert to ask for willing volunteers, create a buzz about your book and to arrange your tour so it goes without a hitch.

My book tour co-ordinator was  worth her weight in gold. She sorted out 25 bloggers over 5 days who would give me an advertising platform. Some wanted read and review a printed book, some were happy with an ebook. Some wanted an exclusive interview, others were happy with an extract form the book or a blog from me. However, they all go their blog content via my tour guide and they could join a freebie competition too.
My tour was given this headline. You will see on the banner that this successful tour was run by the excellent, Rachel Gilbey

The bloggers accepted me onto their space and I enjoyed giving interviews, writing a post or revealing an extract from my new book.
 I’d like to thank Rachel Gilbey and the bloggers on this poster for their hospitality and thank them for their thoughtful reviews about my writing. If you wander over  ‘My Books’  The page shows some of their comments.
My giveaway, which was drawn by rafflecopter, is ready for send off  and the lucky winner is Andrea Upton. Her goodies are shown below.

THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF A BOOK LAUNCH

a pre-view of the cover for
The Barn of Buried Dreams

I’ve written it, I’ve had it edited, I’ve polished it until the buried dreams gleam, I’ve commissioned a beautiful cover, I’ve spent longer than I should downloading it to Amazon. Surely now I can relax?

Oh no, no way. I have to let the reading public know about my new novel or how will they ever buy it?

Luckily, I love every aspect of the writing and publishing process or I wouldn’t be launching. I’m having a ‘virtual’ book launch on my Chrissie Bradshaw Author page. Fri 4,30 onwards. Do pop in for a while

This week is about promoting The Barn of buried Dreams on twitter, instagram, this blog and Facebook and it’s about preparing for Friday’s launch with fun tasks and gorgeous giveaways. it’s about feeling like it’s Christmas because my paperback edition is in the post and I’ll see it tomorrow.

I’ve enjoyed choosing my giveaways, especially ordering fresh macarons from http://www.urbancakehouse.com my favourite bakers. It’s a busy time but i love it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Going Indie

 

Me indie? I sat on a wobbly fence of pros and cons.

cons:

  • I can’t blame anyone but me when anything goes wrong.

  • I need to put money upfront and believe my novels will sell.

  • I have to sell as well as write.

  • I don’t have deadlines. It will be easy to procrastinate or to publish too prematurely.

pros:

  • I like being independent.

  • I can choose my editors and cover designers.

  • The royalties are much better, when I make a sale.

  • I don’t have deadlines. I can work to the beat of my own drum and take as long as I need to finish a novel.

For a little while, I was afraid to climb over. I’d be on my own and I might fall and fail. I faced the unknown and did it anyway. Phew! Here I am with the indie tribe at the RNA conference in July.

 

Indie author party at the Romantic Novelists’ conference in Leeds
These authors have sought and achieved the same rights as traditionally published authors and they are a great bunch of role models.
I’ve learnt that there are safety nets such as ALLI – The Alliance of Independent Authors and the Society of Authors who can offer advice and the support of a whole lot of other experienced indie authors who have gone before me.
 I’m committed to all the extra work on promotion and branding that going indie will entail and, although it is hard work, it is fun!

 

This month, Ive relaunched A Jarful of Moondreams with a beautiful new cover.

 

A preview of the cover for
The Barn of Buried Dreams

 

 

 

 

 

I’m  finishing the final edits of  THE BARN OF BURIED DREAMS so that it is available in October. I’m writing book 3 too so the indie path is a busy one!

Here Comes Summer!

I don’t know how you feel but, for me, writing and sunshine don’t mix. This may sound strange from someone who spends the worst months of winter in Spain but I’ll explain why writing in the sun doesn’t work for me.

I am firmly of the opinion that a writer needs a room without sunshine. Give me a plain room with a comfortable temperature and I’ll give you a thousand words or so. Give me sunshine and you get very little. I have tried!

Here is the laptop sunshade. I thought what a wondrous invention!… until I tried it out. For me, it works fine until there’s a breeze and it flaps about and any paper prompts fly away. On a beautiful day of blue skies, my eyes get sidetracked by the scenery and take me out of the story. I’m too willing to leave bookworld and join sunworld.

The sun seems to bring out the need for cool refreshments and it’s not always water. A sticky ice cream or a chunk of melon mucks up the keyboard even if it doesn’t stop the writing muse. Then there’s the temptation of an early wine o’ clock!

Don’t think I’m grumbling about this delightful weather. Like most people, I grab a slice of sunshine whenever I can. I’ve learnt to write early in the day and later in the evening and to write indoors.
Basking in sunshine is perfect for dreaming up scenes, tussling with book titles, thinking about those knotty problems that crop up in a plot. It is the ideal time to read, read, read.

I think that writers should be reading a variety of genres as much as possible. It’s wonderful ‘work’ on a sunny afternoon.
My 1000 words a day are fighting to be typed after a sunny day outdoors so let’s enjoy the summer!

 

Dreaming and Doing



‘You gotta have a dream, if you don’t
have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true.’

 Richard Rodgers, South Pacific

I’ve written two novels ‘ A Jarful of Moondreams’ is out now, ‘The Barn of Buried Dreams’ is released in October and I’m part way through my third. Can you see they have a thread running through them? That thread is part of the tapestry of our  lives.

You see, my novels are about the struggle and determination that we need to follow our dreams.

We have cherished  dreams from childhood and yet more get added when we discover what it is that we yearn to do with our lives. We are great dreamers but we have to turn into doers too! 

My childhood dream was to own a dog like Lassie or Rin Tin Tin. I was also an avid reader and thought that Dodie Smith had the best job in the world. Maybe, some day, I could be a writer with a houseful of pets?

When I eventually got my first pup, in my mid-twenties, she was named after a character in my favourite Dodie Smith novel. I know what you may be thinking, but no, she wasn’t called Pongo or Perdita! Cassie’s name came from ‘I Capture the Castle’. She was my wonder dog.

It took a lot longer to call myself a writer and I’m still working on the ‘successful’ part of the writing dream.

I think following our dreams gives us a zest for living and achieving them is icing on the cake. Hold on to the icing on the cake comparison because it will reappear!

Last  month, we travelled to France and spent a week with Pauline and Allan. Pauline loves to grow her own fruit and veg, she loves to cook and sewing gives her real pleasure. How can she possibly be related to me?

Pauline and Allan moved to St. Estephé in France last year and now she is growing strawberries to make jam, picking cherries to make cherry brandy and brushing up on her French. She has a sewing room for making her patchworks. Allan has a workshop in the barn to refurbish furniture and a ride on lawn mower to tame their acres of land.

They have both worked hard throughout their lives, faced tragedies and experienced set backs but they have never given up on their joy of living. Doesn’t it take courage to sell up in England and start life in a new community to follow your dreams? They took the plunge, and I have never seen this pair looking happier.

Another exciting trip  was to support my youngest sister who is working to make her business dream come true.

Urban Cakehouse -unique, contemporary, unconventional cakes -started up in her kitchen and she is getting it up and running while working and running a household including three teens, a husband and a dog.

Lisa has a PhD and works within the NHS but has always loved to be creative. Her dreams of being an artist have veered more towards cake and this is where the icing on the cake comes into play. I was so proud to be at her ‘Cake meets Canvas’ exhibition at the Fly tower in Sheffield.

https://www.urbancakehouse.com

Dreaming is easy but putting a dream into action is damned hard work. Both Pauline and Lisa have to put in the hours and make sacrifices to do what they love while considering their families. It does not always go smoothly and it is risky to follow a dream but they think it is worth it and so do I.

I don’t dig the soil, sew the cushions or bake the cakes; their dreams are my nightmare!
I just lounge  back on the cushions, eat the cake and listen to the chatter and use it at times to draft the stories of women struggling through day to day challenges and doing their best to make their own cherished dreams come true.

If you’re a doer – take  time to dream and if you’re a dreamer – take time to do

The years spin by and now the girl is twenty, though her dreams have lost some grandeur coming true. There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty before the last revolving year is through.’

Joni Mitchell

Whatever the weather, We’ll weather the weather

Let me tell you, Spanish villas in Murcia are freezing cold! The heat flies right out of the windows and walls and seeps through the cold tiles and that lovely cool house of summer is an ice box in March.

You may think I was lucky, to spend five weeks in Spain while I was recuperating from my hip operation, but was I? We had lots of sunny days but I discovered that missing the cold February and March weather in the UK had a price.

That price was a lovely, cosy, warm house with unlimited writing time!

I can’t write outdoors in the sunshine. Laptop says ‘no’ with a black screen and I get distracted. Yes, I’ve tried a contraption that shields the screen from the sun but it flaps about in a breeze and I forgot to pack it this trip. I can ‘ dream up’ characters and stories while I’m lying back on a sun lounger though, so all is not lost!

Strolling in the sunshine with Oscar

If I’d been at home and hiding indoors from the Beast from the East, my thermostat would be keeping me at a steady warm temperature and I would be cosy whilst looking at fat snowflakes falling outside.

In Casa Margarita, on a sunny day, I watched my husband reading in the sun as I was wearing socks jumper and blanket to try to type a few hundred words. Cold is not conducive to writing. I was so glad to finish and get out into some warmth!

Will I go again? Oh yes. We had a wood burning stove to huddle around at night. We had to sit over it, mind you, or the walls stole the heat and a trip to the kitchen or bathroom was chilly. It  meant we cuddled up together too.

Next time, I’ll be prepared. Instead of buying new bikinis, I’ll be buying one of those silly but warm ‘onesies’, packing my old Ugg boots and taking a hot water bottle for when I’m writing. You can’t keep a determined writer down!

Hip hip hooray!

My hip operation went ahead In January but it hasn’t stopped me from getting out and about .

With this trusty customised NHS stick and my new cross body book bag – a delightful Christmas present-  I’ve been able to take a short walk for a pub lunch or a coffee.  More calories going in than out with that arrangement that little voice in my head nags. I know! I had better be careful or I’ll pile a few more winter pounds on and stress my new hip. 

My RAS – reticular activating system- has come into play because I’ve been seeing and empathising with fellow stick users at every turn.

I think the RAS part of our brain is astounding. My simple understanding is that it takes whatever we focus on and creates a filter for it. It then sifts through all the data it receives and presents only the pieces that are important to us at any time.

A walking aid is vital for me right now and I’m seeing all those who are similar to me and how they manage. All of this filtering happens without me noticing, of course. My RAS programs itself without me actively doing anything

When you’re pregnant, you notice other baby bumps and babies in buggies. When you want a new car,  you notice how many of a certain  model are on the road.  When was the last  time you noticed that your reticular  activating system had come into play and started pointing something out to you?

I’m sure it can help or hinder your New Year  resolutions too because it filters the world to reflect your  beliefs. If you think you are going to write rubbish, you probably will. If you believe you’re working well then you most likely will have a successful day. Your  RAS helps you to see what you want to see and in doing so, influences your actions.

It has been suggested that you can train your RAS by taking your subconscious thoughts and marrying them to your conscious thoughts and “setting your intent.” If you focus hard on your goals, your RAS will alert you to the people and opportunities that help you achieve them. This certainly takes the mystery out of ‘the law of attraction’ idea. Focus on important things and they will come to you because the RAS on your own brain seeks them out.

The brain is amazing but so is the rest of the body’s ability to heal.     Four hours after my hip op, I was walking with sticks and next day I was tested on walking up and down stairs before going home . My leg was working with a whole new ball and socket in it and it wasn’t too painful at all .

The most fascinating healing is the skin’s ability to heal itself and my scar improves every day. So….here I am in week three enjoying a writer’s and reader’s meet up in a pub in town . I’m glad I joined North East Authors and Readers.

I am excited about my current novel and, at the same time, worried that someone else  will think of my wonderful idea.  It’s both pleasure and angst being a writer and that’s why it’s so nice when a group of us meet up and understand all the fun but all of the insecurities too.

I have to say I’m grateful to our wonderful NHS and its staff and I hope it’s something we never lose. I’m blessed to be pain free and I feel for all those who haven’t got a solution to their pain.

I’m excited to be preparing for our trip to warmer climes where I will work on my novel, recuperate and discard those sticks. Next month’s  blog will come from Mazzaron in Murcia

Following in Neferteri’s Footsteps

Isn’t  it strange how  fiction can intermingle with our lives? I wonder if you have ever followed in the footsteps of a character you like?

 I have a great love of  Egyptian history  and decided that one of my characters in ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ should make a trip there.

 I had visited  most  of the places I mentioned in the novel but I’d never been to Makadi Bay. That was chosen after Internet research for a beach location.

My husband booked a December Nile cruise and Red Sea holiday for us and I thought the resort name seemed familiar but it wasn’t until we were travelling there that it dawned on me; I was following in Teri’s Moons footsteps and going to Makadi Bay!

In ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ Teri Moon decides to take an extended trip to Egypt and leave Alex,  her teenage dughter, with her older daughter, Cleo,  in the hope that they will stop sparring and start to like each other a little. The novel is mainly about Teri’s girls but her holiday adventures are a subplot.

Teri meets Greg, an archaeologist, on the plane out to Cairo and they visit the pyramids and Cairo museum together before Teri continues alone on her travels to Mount Sinai.

Extract:

Teri decided to take a beach break at Hurghada before the trip to Luxor and all its wonders. She was going to meet up with Greg again to explore Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. She checked into a luxury hotel, enjoying the air conditioning and the chance to skype her girls.  She had been delighted at how they both seemed to be comfortable in one another’s company. Even Pharos, her cat, seemed to be settled; perhaps her plan was working.

Greg had surprised her. He’d asked if she’d mind him joining her on the beach and arrived at Makadi Bay a couple of days ago. They’d had fun and relaxed and were very easy in each other’s company. But now Teri felt rather confused. They’d held hands walking along the beach last night and she knew they were getting fond of one another. Maybe too fond?

He’d told her he was forty, that was nine years her junior. Was it such a gap? That was the main thing stopping her from succumbing to a holiday romance. That, and the fact that Greg was the first man she’d looked at in that way since Mac. It must be the spell of Egypt.
Greg’s shadow stood in the way of the sun. He dropped an ice-cold lolly on her midriff.

‘Greg!’ she shrieked. He sat on the end of her lounger. Tall, tanned, long hair ruffled by the sea, who could resist him? He was thoughtful and caring too.

‘Teri, you’ve lain there long enough. When you finish that ice lolly, we should go for a dip, then a siesta.’

‘What do you mean, a siesta?’ Teri sat up.

‘A short sleep in the cool air-conditioned rooms that we’ve got. What did you think I meant?’

She was lost for words. He’d placed the beach ball firmly on her patch of sand.

Excerpt From: Bradshaw, Chrissie. “A Jarful of Moondreams.”

So, this month, I’ve followed in the footsteps of two Neferteri’s and had a fabulous time in Egypt.

It doesn’t have to be a place, though does it? You can follow in the life experiences of a character too. Don’t get me started on Bridgit Jones!  I’m sure that, if you think about it, you’d have a few of those moments. I’d love to hear them.

Henna design from a Nubian village near Aszan
Bedouin children greeting us when we stop for a break. There is a baby goat riding on the donket too. They are sharing out a bag of crisps.