Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Highlights

Despite all attempts by the governments, the weather and Wirral Council, it's been a good year for me on balance.

Travel highlights were the trip to the south western states of the USA - Sedona, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon... oh, and ... erm ... Vegas. Mallorca and Turkey were enjoyable but not in the same class.

Best moments: there was much to remember this year by in the UK too and I'm still buzzing from attending the Paralympics for a couple of days including 'Thriller Thursday' where Hannah Cockcroft, Johnnie Peacock and David Weir won golds.

Despite not being a 'sporty' person, I'd say that following the Olympics and Paralympics was THE best part of the year.

Writing highlights were: My first play - 'Enola Gay' - being premiered as part of Wirral's Festival of Firsts, a couple of competition wins and coming in the top ten of the Pulp Idol novel-writing contest.

Movies: I only saw a handful of new movies but the most teary was War Horse [DVD], and the most satisfying was Skyfall [DVD]

Best purchase of the year... possibly any year ever: The iPad

Best meals of the year were in Cafe Sage, Wallasey Village and The Portrait House, Hoylake. Best buffet - The MGM champagne 'brunch' in Vegas... which I managed to stretch from 10ish to 4ish!

Favourite books: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - a quirky, poignant story about likeable characters facing a heart-breaking decision - and Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson - an unnerving tale of a woman's search for the truth when she never remembers what happened yesterday.

Worst weather: where to begin? Snowed under in Flagstaff? Horizontal deluge at the Status Quo concert in Speke? Or just the remorselessly grim grey gloom that loomed over the whole year.

There are other categories, I'm sure, but these are the main things that leap to mind at this point. Starting the new year with a few more writing credits under my belt, still in gainful employment and no bits fallen off yet. I hope 2013 finds you in fine fettle too - and I'd love YOU to share your highlights here!


Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas in Other Places

1. Christmas 1991, Israel
I was a volunteer on Kibbutz Alonim in Northern Israel. On Christmas Eve a bunch of us went to nearby Nazareth for a procession including what seemed to be a giant turkey, but on reflection, may have been a dove of peace. My Jewish boyfriend came with us to Mass at  the Basilica but was disappointed there was no buffet. 'I thought you got bread and wine!' He complained.

On Christmas Day, Christian volunteers got the day off and volunteer leader Bella made us turkey with roasties and a big salad (it's against the constitution of Israel to have any meal without salad). As you can see, we had to dance sitting down  as there wasn't much space in the volunteer house. It snowed that year (not at Christmas) so we 'borrowed' dining room trays and went sledging on them at Israel's unlikely ski resort on Mount Hermon.

2. Christmas 1992, Goa
This was only a few weeks into my first (ill-fated) attempt at a circumnavigation of the world. Goa is a largely Christian community south of Mumbai but there was nothing Christmassy about it until Christmas Eve when every householder put a paper star around their porch light. We ate prawn curry in a cafe on the beach and danced at a beach bar until about midnight - not exactly immersing myself in traditional culture - which seemed to include every local Indian family sitting silently at tables in their best clothes in the main square in silence at midnight.

3. Christmas 2008, Sydney
Four years ago I was three months into my (this time successful) circumnavigation of the world. We'd spent a few weeks campervanning in Western Australia so it was nice to be based in one place for ten days - probably the only place we'd booked before we left home. The motel owners let us into the kitchen, set up table and chairs in the street outside and invited any waifs and strays (local and visiting - I'm the one stood there with the bubbly and the santa hat, naturally) to a slap up 'bring and share' seasonal feast! We made the biggest trifle I've ever seen - I wonder if they've finished it yet?

Festive Greetings to you all!  ...and where's the most unusual place you've spent Christmas?  If you've posted about it, do leave a link in your comment.

Friday, 21 December 2012

The End is not quite 'nigh' - official

Regular readers will know I've been to (or near to) the end of the world a couple of times:

1. Ushuaia, which bills itself as such, being the southernmost city in South America (and, as someone tweeted this morning: The Mayans gave us Cocaine, Chocolate and Tobacco. We were fools to believe anything they say.)

2. Armageddo (or Har Megiddo) in Israel, which I chiefly remember for a rather racy snogging session in the underground tunnels the first time I visited.

But just a little word of warning from Death Star PR: George Lucas thinks the world will end in 2012 but what does HE know? It's not like he invented a giant planet-destroying laser or anything. Or like he has enough money to build it even if he HAD invented one...

So what would you be doing today if it really was The End?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

One Sentence Stories

Submissions are open until 24 December for a one-sentence story mini-anthology.

As the title implies, stories can be any lenght but must just be contained in one sentence.  Click on this link for one I enjoyed from by S.R Mastrantone

Sunday, 16 December 2012

More Ups and Downs

I've been busy with many things so, here's a whistle-stop catch-up of the peaks and troughs, the ups and downs, the rounds and abouts, the pluses and minuses, checks and balances, swings and sparrows... etc

Poetry 24 is now in the hands of 3... possibly 4, who can tell?... new editors. This will free up some time in the new year. If you've a poetic bone in your body, support this unique eZine by sending your news-related poems.

Conversely, I've taken on the running of the Festival of Firsts International Poetry Competition next year, and will be doing publicity for the festival, which will take up a fair bit of time between now and July.

Shrewsbury's high tech flood defences
I went to Shrewsbury, getting into the Christmas spirit (gin mostly) but worried that it might be a bit flooded, walked around Stiperstones and had a 13 course Roman banquet.

Conversely, I have lost a stone in weight - largely thanks to the MyFitnessPal which is online too, but I use the app on the iPad.

I have had another 30 or so rejections.

Conversely, hot on the heals of winning Sefton (what a raffle, that was!) I came second in the Voices Israel competition (scroll down  to the second poem... just after the one about having sex with the washing machine repair man*).

Click text (left) not image!
I STILL haven't quite finished my novel The Undead Residents Association...

Conversely part of it is already out in hard back and on Kindle as part of Pulp Idol - Firsts 2012 where the top ten finalists of the novel-writing competition have their first chapter published as a promotional tool.

Oh, and I've been on a week-long training course, of which more  anon.  Conversely that 'at risk' letter and budget talks put a question  mark over the whole library service.

I must apologise for not visiting other blogs recently - as you see,  there's been an overlap between  finishing and starting (see above) plus work on the house involving moving and sorting a LOT of stuff. Hope to be back in circulation soon.

Didn't do one this year, but here's last year's: 10 Great Gifts for Writers 

* Note to self: my washing machine needs some attention too