GETTING MY LIFE BACK

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Last Sunday I handed over what I fervently hope is the final version of The Shrewsbury Murders. The place was a pub called The Coach & Horses and the time was the start of Happy Hour.

No coincidence, that. After working on it all the previous week I was satisfied I’d done all I could. And boy, did I need a drink.

My editor Mike, a self-confessed pedant, asked whether I’d changed it much, or just worked through his suggestions from the first time he’d seen it. He’s a Cambridge man, and these dialogues always make me feel like the errant schoolboy who’s late with his homework.

“Well, I took nearly all your suggestions on board Mike. Particularly when you’d written things like NO VERB IN THIS SENTENCE! Or, THIS IS NOT OLD ENGLISH!

He nodded. He really did print those and several other pithy bits of advice in various parts of the MS.

“Much change in the word-count?”

“Yes: about seven thousand more.”

Silence while he swallowed, and then:

“SEVEN THOUSAND?”

This was said in disbelief, as though rather than producing something of 95,000 words I was giving him a tome a bit longer than War and Peace.

“Yes. I just wasn’t happy with some of Books 1 and 3. I’ve added to Book 2 as well.”

[TSM is divided in to three sections; each called a ‘Book’.]

“So I’ve got to read the whole thing again?”

“Well, be good if you could.”

I grasped at a straw:

“And thanks for redrafting the old English verse in Book 3; makes a big difference.”

This did little to calm him, and rapidly I caught Susie’s eye and signalled for two more.

An hour and a few beers later waters were calmer. He asked me if I’d done a blurb to help publicise it. I hadn’t, but have now. Proving I sometimes do not shrink from shameless self-promotion here it is:

     ‘The Shrewsbury Murders’ is the second novel in the Mike Ambrose trilogy that begins with ‘Project Overkill’.

     Near the end of the 10th century a famous Archbishop is finally laid to rest in Glastonbury, England. A few private possessions are buried with him. Later, when his body is being relocated to Canterbury some of these artefacts are stolen.

     In the late 16th century two friends meet in an ale house in London. They decide to embark on a journey together. As a result they make a life changing discovery, and later become bitter enemies.

     In Whitechapel, London a series of five brutal murders begins in August 1888. They are perpetrated by a murderer known as Jack the Ripper, who is never identified or caught. He is afterwards regarded as the first serial killer. Inexplicably his crimes endure in the public consciousness up to the present day.

     In Wales, following a German air raid in 1941the lives of each generation of a family line are marred by severe bouts of depression and dread. 

     In Shrewsbury in December 2011 Mike Ambrose, his partner Marcia and their close friend Claire Osbourn are hosting a Christmas party. An inexplicable occurrence at the end of it stays in Mike’s mind.

     One day they encounter Cassie, an almost penniless young woman who desperately wants to work. They believe in her and decide to help.

     Months afterwards a series of gruesome murders begins in Shrewsbury. The killer leaves a note signed ‘Jack the Ripper’. Incredibly, there are reasons to believe it may indeed be the same man.

     But that is impossible!

     Amidst the ensuing terror, happily fuelled by press, radio, and television Mike and those closest to him are themselves threatened, and have no alternative but to take matters in to their own hands.

     In doing so, they stumble on to a secret even more chilling than the murders themselves.

So there it is, and thank you for reading. It may be that Ms. J. S-C is congratulating herself on getting the world exclusive, but I doubt it. I’d still love to know whether it whets anyone’s appetite though.

But the very best thing about finishing TSM is the feeling of getting my life back. Waking up Monday morning felt like being on holiday. It still does. Once again there is time for tweets, Facebook, Tomb Raider, and best of all reading books by other people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ELUSIVE PLOT…

Don’t worry: this isn’t about me losing an allotment; it’s far more important than that. As background I’m currently at the getting my breath back stage with my new book The Shrewsbury Murders.

TSMcatalog

 

At the beginning of July I was at last satisfied with my own final edit and turned it over to a professional.

From phone conversations so far he’s liking it and I’ll certainly be making the changes he’s suggesting. Mainly they cover the need to set more historical atmosphere when it takes place long in the past, especially when outside the UK. He even noticed that in one part I’ve used nineteenth century words but more in a way they’d be used now! I’m still wondering how I missed this; I need sometimes to think more about the moment and less about dogged plot advancement.

Normally I tell him everything but on this occasion left out that I radically changed the main plot almost when I was on the last page. I’m not exactly ashamed of this but it has the ring of really bad planning and I knew I’d plotted it very carefully. So what, I wondered, was the reason?

I’ll give out no spoilers I hope but the original plot centred on the replication of a notorious series of 19th century murders in modern-day Shrewsbury. Most of the original planning focused on how to do this credibly. In addition I worked at how to get suspense into the modern setting.

There’s a problem here that I’d sum up as the temptation to write the same murders twice but with different characters. First I just didn’t want to do that; second it would be short changing the reader by taking an easy way out.

To avoid it I constructed a present day plot that begins as a fresh story that gradually and only at the margins introduces the new series of murders. It has its own dynamics and slowly starts bringing the whole thing together.

It was important of course to write some credible victims.

At a party late last year I got asked quite a lot about the first book and what I was doing now.  I said I was after victims, so’s to speak, and how useful it would be to get a few real potted histories.

To my surprise and delight some volunteers emerged when word got round and I found myself chatting in turn with about half a dozen guests. They were incredibly helpful and provided a range of personal information I could never have just dreamt up, and knew I could use despite of course protecting identities. And they wanted me to use it; some of them reminding me as the night progressed!

Now I had what I was looking for I pulled together various fragments and came up with my literary victims. I did not use everything I was told because the context often did not require it. I did so once though and I’m wondering whether those concerned will recognise themselves in the composite character. I think I’m quite happy if they do as long as no-one else does either.

The flow of the book improved with my confidence that thanks to the kindness of others I could now write far more credibly.

All went well until I had only about a thousand words to go. At that point I began to feel dissatisfied with what was coming out despite it being per the plan. It wasn’t that I was struggling with what came next; more that I was reluctant to write it.

I had no idea why, so continued but with a few different scenarios. One is a lengthy river trip sequence that replaces what would just have been a house party. I liked it for what it was but still nursed this curious sense of anxiety about the planned conclusion of the book.

I got to the last chapter and wrote a couple of scraps of dialogue that rang feeble, almost as if we’d come all this way to a very predictable destination. Maybe we’d changed buses a couple of times for variety but they still had the same number on the front.

I stopped and wondered what to do. My one inflexible rule is to produce a book that I’d want to read myself. This one hit the spot for much of its length but by no means all of it.

I’m not a natural sharer on such occasions but would have happily shared this if I could think of a way. But I’d pretty much need to get someone to read the whole thing. And that wouldn’t really work either because I needed to know why I was unhappy before I could do anything about it.

I don’t have a Fortress of Solitude and wouldn’t use it if I did. Instead I put everything away and had a couple of days not touching the book itself but just mulling things over while I did other things. I walked a bit in town, stopped for coffee, chatted, all the usual stuff. At one point I remembered I’d promised to deliver the MS within a fortnight and wondered whether I’d get anywhere close. Worse still, would it get shelved?

I didn’t want to even think of that. But I determined not to get neurotic, and not to give up hope.

I was still thinking when I went to sleep two nights later. Next morning, waking very early, I felt I was on to something.  I made coffee, grabbed a pencil and wrote it all down before I had a chance to forget it. I went back to bed, couldn’t sleep, got up and started the rewrite.

The real plot isn’t about the re-enactment of the murders at all, although they are an essential component. It’s actually about the reason the original murders remain so well known and notorious after more than a century. That is far more mysterious as an enduring mystery, and what better way to discover the reason than via a present day replication?

Relief surged: the rewrite was almost a pleasure and I delivered it a week later. But I’d love to know how, when I’d been living with the thing for about two years, I missed what my own book was really about.

Comments and any shared similar experience are welcome: I’d like to hear someone say it’s happened to them too.

What I was careful not to change was descriptions based on the information my kind party victims gave me. Not forgiving oneself is one thing; letting down a whole group of new friends would be quite another.

The cover image also remains unchanged and is attached to this blog. The text of the letter is taken from the novel.

 

 

 

 

 

The difference between my vacuum cleaner and my book is that I WANT my vacuum cleaner to suck!

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007

Dear all,

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s been over a month and all that! I couldn’t even remember my password to get on here…but I promise I’ll sit on the naughty step later.

This week’s blog post is all about the phenomenon that is ‘The Review’. That tricky process whereby people answer the niggling questions in every indie author’s aching and caffeine overloaded head; Am I good enough to cut it? Do I make a good writer? Do I have potential? Am I getting it right?

It may or may not be news to some but, although I am generally quite a sociable and happy person, I feel like a fraud most of the time. I even felt like I was lying when I had to start completing forms declaring that I had dependents. I always feel like I’m telling fibs and I just don’t know why! I clearly have children and the state of my car is testament to that! I obtained a degree when I was twenty-six but I still hate having to produce the certificate of graduation in interviews. I worry they might scratch at the ink, hold it up to the light and then pass it under a UV ray, where they will suddenly exclaim, ‘But how? You left school with only two GCSEs!’ Out of all of my quirky, not quite fitting labels, it was publishing my debut novel, Poker Face, that felt like the biggest pork pie of them all! I still can’t look people in the eye and say it’s doing well!

I am a big analyser (or a petite analyser depending on how you want to look at it) and I’ve spent a great deal of time recently trying to work out this ‘fraud’ type aspect of my personality. I have concluded that the reason all of these things feel like a lie is because I can’t truly label myself as something until I know I have done it well. For example, in my opinion, a mum is someone who does more than just carry and give birth to a baby. The title encompasses a long term nurturing position and, until my children have become completely independent, I won’t know exactly what kind of mum I have been. All I know right now is that I desperately want to be a good one.

When it comes to the degree, I left school with only two qualifications and had to go back to college where they managed to drag another three GCSEs out of me. I later went on to do an A Level in law, which I failed (lots of tears around this time) and then had a chat with my local university. Because I was a mature student (don’t laugh, I can do mature) and had been working in a law firm for five years, they agreed to let me enrol.  I graduated three years later but I didn’t do it glowingly and I didn’t wow anyone with a string of first class essays along the way. Consequently, I ended up feeling like I wasn’t quite worthy and the qualification feels kind of alien. I’m waiting for the mother ship to come take it back!

The same can be applied to my writing. Writing 90,000 words and turning them into a book doesn’t make me feel like I can call myself an author. I need to know that my work does exactly what a book should do. I need someone to tell me ‘Jess, you’re not lying, you can write!’ (Shock horror, fancy that!) For me, reviews and ratings are the next best thing to having an agent or publisher who could give me that seal of approval my confidence really needs. My best reviews tell me that I may well be able to cut it in the big bad world of writing and publishing (note I say ‘may’ for I will never be so bold as to assume I ever will, even with my most fabarooney reviews and shiniest of stars). My most critical reviews fill my mind with dread and indecision and they are inclined to make my writing style reach for its blue and white patchwork security blanket!

I was chatting to someone the other day about how I am dreading the really crappy (technical term for a bad review) one star and the inevitable slating that will accompany it. However, people review for different reasons and individual tastes range widely. I know this, so, I have decided that I am going to approach that one star with the following analogy in mind:-

If I want to buy a new vacuum cleaner from Argos I pick three in my price range and then I check the customer reviews. They range from the five star, ‘This vacuum does exactly what you’d hope it would do and I’m very happy with my purchase,’ through to the gritty one star, ‘This might have sucked up but all of my cleaning paraphernalia is metallic red, always has been and always will be! I like red, I like metallic and I like shiny! However, this vacuum (if you can even call it a vacuum) is definitely not the metallic red vacuum illustrated in the picture IT! IS! PINK! And, to make matters worse, it isn’t even shiny…IT’S MATT! I am so not happy! More to the point I will never, I repeat NEVER, buy a vacuum from this manufacturer again. Oh, for the record, the suction was pretty good and it even managed to swallow up my metallic red duster without blocking. I am cross about this also, I loved that duster!’

Suddenly that one star isn’t really quite so bad. Personally that’s exactly the kind of vacuum cleaner I’m looking for!

Thanks for reading and take care from me guys.

Jess 😀 x

It’s like a guest post birthday! It’s been a year now & time for another Ripple in Time promo! :-)

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007

This post is a re-post but A Ripple in Time is once again on offer and free to download to Kindle, a year on from the original post. It is still very much a recommended read.

A Ripple in Time

Dear all,

I know, I know, my schedule is so hectic, what with kid’s parties, the book signing coming up, Mr S-C (bless him being all clumsy and that) the book writing and the blog…!!! Oh no the blog! The time has come, I must hand over the wheel while I have a little breakdown, and who better to jump into the driving seat than the fabarooney Julia Hughes, @tinksaid! I’ll be back (no don’t sigh! Soooooo cheeky!) but in the meantime I can assure you, you are in very safe hands. So, now, sit back and enjoy the ride…Over to you my lovely friend, Julia.

me&tink3_(2) 

 

Thank you Jess, and don’t worry, your blog’s in safe hands, promise. And off she goes, no doubt to another children’s party or to organise Mr S-C’s Father’s Day treats. Do I sound envious? Oh to be able to turn back the clock to that very special time, when the kids thought Mummy and Daddy were the most wonderful people in the world. Mind you, I still feel that way about my parents. There have been times when I’ve longed for a boring life, but throughout it all – the major highs and the places no-one wants to go – there have been two people standing solidly behind me with words of encouragement and acts of overgenerous kindness. Among the many unexpected pleasures of writing, comes the opportunity to say a small thank you to those who support without question. So my breakthrough novel is dedicated to the best parents any child could wish for, lucky me –  I won the lottery.

I also won the lottery with Jess, who answered my plea for a beta reader. Jess’s success with her debut novel Poker Face, encouraged me to publish in paperback, as well as ebook format. A Ripple in Time will be free to download to your kindle until 18th April 2013. 

Massive thanks once again to Jess, and you can bet your life I’ll be attending her book signing at Waterstones in Hatfield later this month [and she did!] eager to pick up tips from this wonderful writer, who is also a wonderful friend.

A Ripple in Time can be obtained by clicking Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Julia

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Woo hoo! How awesome is that! I’ll definitely be fifteen minutes late for the next party downloading my copy of A Ripple in Time! Come on, writing before raving…always! Thanks so much, Julia, for your lovely post and your lovely comments too.

Seriously, congratulations on your lovely new shiny paperback! It is SO exciting! I’m sure everyone will agree, the birth of a new novel or in a new format is a very wonderful thing and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it. Go you!!!

Take care from me,

Jess 😀 x

PS beautiful pic, Julia!

Please check out Julia’s fabarooney website for more of her work and posts 🙂

Video Diaries! My very first signing event at Waterstones, Hatfield. Post re-visited :-)

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Well, readers, the time came…and went…aaaaand, despite all of the panic, tummy aches and tears, I made it to and through the 23rd June 2012. I lived to tell the tale…or should I say the video diary. Now, I must first apologise because I thought that my camera (with video facility) would be fine for the occasion but it seems, even after deleting all personal photos of our recent holiday, there was not enough room to fit the four clips that I wanted. As a consequence we used @Heather5mith’s i-phone (the wrong way up) so two of the clips are either going to show up sideways or with mega blacked out borders  – but as long as they show something, right now I don’t care! Uploading to this blog has been an absolute nightmare! I even cried!

So, here goes. The first clip is very early morning on 23rd June. The kids are having a go at their interviewing skills. PS I would just like to make it clear that I do not push my daughter in this clip, I am simply trying to keep her from YouTube! She is one determined little monkey, let me tell you!

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So, we got mega lost on the way to Hatfield. The journey should have taken us  1 hour and 15 minutes, tops. However,  even with @Heather5mith’s SatNav, Mr S-C’s built in thingy on his phone and my more caveman-like printed off ‘Route Finder Classic View’ we got lost to the tune of over one and a half hours! The upside of this was that I was so fed up that my initial reservations about the whole affair had been replaced with ‘All I want to do is get there!!!’ When we did get there the staff at Waterstones were absolutely fantastic. They grabbed a table, a snazzy table cloth, advised us on the best positions, provided a fabarooney decorated chalk board and then even grabbed us all a coffee from Nero! I love the people at Waterstones, Hatfield! I will say this more than once! I must also say that Heather’s interview technique is pretty cool and she managed an artistic reflective job, which is very clever. Let’s agree that it was a complicated, technical set up and was entirely intentional. If the BBC would like to hire @Heather5mith, she is available all day Wednesday (outside of Zumba) and most evenings (as long as it’s not a choir night).

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Towards the end of the day we went for another clip but my camera held up its little camera hands and said ‘No, sorry, I clocked off at lunch time. It’s Saturday! I don’t get paid for this!’ Diva camera alert! So we dug into @Heather5mith’s hugomungo bag and caught a bit more of the day on her phone. Neither of us knew what to say at this point but we said there would be a video diary and by Jove we were going to rise to the challenge. It WAS a challenge!!!

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We packed up at 5.30pm, feeling exhausted (I’m not sure why I was as all I’d done was sit at a table all day, answer some questions, try not to do a runner and sign stuff!) It might be the fact that by that point I had consumed two large coffees, only one small bottle of water and not much else. After a farewell to Robin (not my Robin but the fabarooney Robin at Waterstones), Laura, Chris and Maisie (If I have spelt this incorrectly please let me know and I will change it – who I didn’t get to talk to but wish I had now) we made our weary way to the car park. The box of books was reassuringly and satisfyingly lighter than when we had arrived and we loaded the car for what SHOULD HAVE BEEN an hour’s drive home! Yeah I bet you’ve worked out what happens next! A slightly more stroppy video of me is what happens next, but at least (as I am not required to look at the camera in the next clip) there is no random face pulling, singing, dancing, ear tugging, lip rolling, hair touching, arm scratching or eye avoidance going on. This is the most normal clip that exists of me! The only problem I have with it is that my nose looks big sideways on and I HATE IT!!!

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This here concludes our video diary of my very first signing at Waterstones, Hatfield, and I have enormous gratitude to everyone who works there. They are absolutely fantastic! To the manager Steve Jenner (hope he doesn’t mind me using his name) for allowing me to be there, to @Heather5mith for accompanying, standing for ages and supporting, for Mr S-C for doing the very same thing along with the occasional ‘You look well cool!’ (lies) and much needed hugs and to Julia Hughes (@tinksaid) and her wonderful sons for coming to visit us, to Mr S-C’s mum and partner for coming along to say hi and having the kids for a bit, and to my fabarooney sister for agreeing to have my two children (on top of her own three) so I could get out and about and promote my work. I also would like to thank (yes I am still going on but stay tuned because this one is probably for you) all my fantastically supportive followers on Twitter and my understanding friends because, without all of you, this would nowhere near have been the most fantastic experience of my life that it turned out to be. You are all way cool and I loves ya!

Take care from me,

Jess 😀 x

A dedication to Mr S-C! Blog post revisited :-)

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007

Dear readers,

Life is an expedition, a delicate and precious thing. Sometimes it brings joy and sometimes fear or sorrow but, whatever it brings, it’s the people who make that journey with you that this blog post is all about.

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to write, my son had just started school, my daughter was teeny and it was completely different to the legal ‘stuff’ I had dedicated my life to up until that point. I gave it a go, wrote a sci-fi that then turned into a fantasy that soon turned into a series. I then wrote a romance and finally discovered a story that I fell in love with – Poker Face. Fortunately for me my husband, Mr S-C, encouraged my passion for writing and it is that writing that has brought about this blog. Therefore, I would like to dedicate this post to him and to say a big thank you.

I met my husband (he wasn’t my husband then mind. I didn’t bump into some random young man, look at his ring finger, spot that he wore a matching version of mine and say “Hey, will you look at that! You must be my husband!”) No, seriously, we met eleven years ago when he was working somewhere that I had worked previously. My sister still worked there and so did my friends so I regularly went out with them as a group. I even attended their Christmas parties! (I’m such a gatecrasher!)

We were always great mates and he was always lovely, always kind, always hilariously funny (even without meaning to be) and very supportive. We have been through so many things together and on many occasions he has been my rock, my desperate logic, my shoulder to cry on, my supporter and my best friend. He has never doubted me or my abilities or judged me, because sometimes I am more than a little scared of my own shadow, and we have pretty much laughed our way through everything.

So, let me tell you a little about the man behind the name (Mr S-C). Well, he is a little bit accident prone and grew up being reassured that ‘If there were no breakers there would be no makers’ and, in his defence, he always does it with a smile 🙂 Ha ha! Let’s have a few examples:-

I have now taken to only buying plastic beakers…and not because of the children either!

When we have a dinner party guests have to bring their own wine glasses and we eat off of a combination of three different dinner sets (all now incomplete).

And there’s more 🙂

Once upon a time we went on holiday to Menorca and spent ages at the airport picking out sun glasses and flip flops because he had left his behind by accident. Being a very active person, he doesn’t like just chilling on the beach like I do, so he dragged me on a walk over the rocks. Having lived in Menorca for over seven months and visited every year until I was sixteen, I had walked these rocks a million times already. What I wanted was a blooming tan! Needless to say I was grumbling along behind him, our first ever ‘tiff’, when suddenly I heard a ripping noise (imagine a strip of Velcro being separated from another strip of Velcro) shortly followed by a “What the!” I looked up from my feet to see Mr S-C standing there holding what looked like a flip flop in each hand but, when I looked down at his feet, he still had his left one on! How could it be? Had that ripping noise been the birth of another flip flop? (I have to say I don’t think I made that noise in labour but, then again, maybe I did). I looked confused, clearly, so Mr S-C took the items in his hands and demonstrated how they fitted…TOGETHER! While I had been staring at the ground moaning his flip flop had become wedged between some rocks. Unfortunately he had kept moving, ripping the whole topside from the underside and stubbing his toe painfully in the process. His flips flops were now useless and so we turned and headed for the shop to get him some ‘jelly’ shoes, much to his disgust.

The next day wasn’t much better. He decided that we should go on a bike ride to visit a lighthouse but, only five minutes into the journey, his chain had come off, he’d opened up the cut on his stubbed toe and run over his own sun glasses, crushing them instantly. I shouldn’t laugh BUT IT WAS SO BLINKING FUNNY!

I will end on one holiday disaster that beats them all and I must just point out that these stories are all before we had children (since then they just got better!) We went to Centre Parcs and stayed in one of their hotel apartments for a week. We arrived and did what you always do when you first arrive in a hotel NO NOT THAT! My, my, readers, your imaginations are just like mine! No, after dropping our case and swimming bags, we made it out mission to check behind all doors, to include bathroom door, cooker door, bedside cabinet door, wardrobe door and some strange ‘in the middle of the wall’ type door. What made this ‘in the middle of the wall’ type door strange was that it wasn’t the front door to our apartment aaaaaand, even weirder, there was a smooth white wall behind it. I have to say I was a bit freaked out. I didn’t like this eerie thing at all. Doors leading to walls, what was the point to that?

“What do you think it is?” I whispered, feeling like we were part of some freaky horror movie ‘Blair Witch does Centre Parcs’. Mr S-C shook his head, lowered his eyebrows thoughtfully and walked away, leaving me standing there alone. I continued staring and wondering until suddenly I realised I could hear children’s voices on the other side. They were playing and chatting and I placed my hands against the smooth surface as it finally dawned on me what I was looking at. A light bulb flashed in my head and I exclaimed with relief “Oh! Of course, you know what this! This is a…” but as I turned I spotted Mr S-C running towards me, shoulder first (his way of ascertaining what a wall behind a door could mean!) “No!” I shouted but it was too late, he’d reached me already and had slammed his shoulder into the…ADJOINING DOOR! No surprise that the false wall gave in, the children started to scream and we…well…we shut the ‘in the middle of the wall’ type door, grabbed our swimming bags and bogged off to the pool to hide!

Thanks for reading guys and never forget those that travel with you because they, like my Mr S-C, are absolute gold dust.

Love from me, Jess S-C 😀 x

Less is More! Blog post revisited :-)

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007

Dear all,

So we’ve just come back from our holiday and I had intended to write a blog post while I was away but I didn’t take my laptop and I didn’t have a pen…what can I say…the odds were stacked against me. My excuses may seem pathetic but I can assure you they’ve definitely got better with age! I’m not going to tell you that my dog has a thing for maths books, my brother thinks it’s funny to hide my calculator or I’ve had Scarlet Fever, a very rare case that lasted only 12 hours, I’m just going to tell you that I didn’t do it.

So, you’ve guessed from the title by now that this post here is a little exploration of the term ‘Less is more’. Now I’m going to attempt to link this into writing in some way (don’t tell anyone but I haven’t worked out exactly how I’m going to do that yet!) An easy assertion would be to point out that this term is used a lot as a general rule of thumb when it comes to writing. Basically, don’t waffle or you’ll bore people. I do it a lot!

So we recently went to Mallorca for a week and we booked a villa because, to be fair, although I only officially have two children my husband counts as three and we need more room! I’m not talking size wise (better make that clear or he’ll be clicking the delete button on my blog) but because he’s pretty nuts! Another perk of having a villa means that we can take lots of food with us and save on eating out. My children are hungry ALL THE TIME! We took our son out of school for a week to keep the costs down (I know!  I know! Don’t go slating me in the comments box for being an irresponsible parent!) We justified doing this because he never has time off, he works really hard and he’s doing incredibly well academically. If we went in the half term week the cost of the holiday would rocket and, well, we just wouldn’t be able to go. When we do travel abroad we get the children to use the language and we spend time explaining the culture. Travelling is a learning experience in itself. (Why am I even trying to get your approval? Anyway, we already did it so there!)

We hired a car and I drove. To save on costs we packed two booster seats rather than pay 8 Euros a day for them. I know, you’re trying to work out whether we actually took any clothes on this holiday! Well, let me tell you, one case was solely dedicated to accommodating our booster seats and food. This does mean there was less space for bikinis but, on the plus side, if we crashed on a desert island (unlikely) we’d have been popular with the other passengers! Seats AND sustenance! Go us!

So we got to our villa and spent lots of time playing in the pool and tripping it to the beach, where we took photos of me sunbathing. At this point we discovered that I’m more a moving type person when it comes to pics. My best side is whatever side is in motion and the faster I go the better! We recorded a couple of videos instead and, low and behold, I look better! Yay! I should be on the big screen! Quick someone tell Steven Spielberg!

Anyway, at the end of the holiday we returned the car with almost all of the impossible to burn amount of fuel in the tank. We’d had to pay £60 in advance for a full tank of petrol and were advised that we must return it empty! Have you ever tried or planned to go on holiday and burn a full tank of fuel in one week? That would have been like a normal working week in the UK! “So what happens if you return the car with its almost full tank of petrol then?” I hear you cry. Well, simple, they hire it out to another family and charge them £60 too! The long, short, wide and thin of it is that we were shafted, good and proper! We used very little petrol (probably about £10 worth) but paid £60 for the privilege. Next time we go away and a car hire company try to sting us I’m going to request a one bed villa for the kids, Mr S-C can sleep on the sofa and then I’ll sleep in the idling car out front, burning the fuel right down to empty! Huh see how you like that, car hire company!

So, back to my intro, this really should have an element of writing in it and, in a way, it does. Here’s the link; In Blog Post 13 Choose your weapon! Pen or laptop?:-

https://jesssturman.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/choose-your-weapon-pen-or-laptop-blog-post-revisited/

I explained that I cannot and do not write on paper. I only ever type my work straight to screen. There isn’t much left in this life that requires you to use a pen, sad I know. I never wrote a blog post while I was away because that would have required some handwriting on my part, ugh! However, I did put pen to paper once on my holiday [Shock! Disbelief!] but it wasn’t to edit my novel and it wasn’t to write a new one either. I put pen to paper to sign away £60 for £10 worth of fuel! Is it true that less is more? Well less blooming costs more, and that’s a fact!

 

Jess 😀 x

 

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