Tuesday, 9 February 2016


Few things make you appreciate simple, everyday activities such as nipping down the road to the greengrocers, like being practically (and, I hope, temporarily) immobile, as I have been for the last few weeks and will continue to be for a while.

Me, hobbling up the greengrocers.  Oh, okay, it's not.

I won't go into detail as I don't want this post to be too much of a moan; suffice to say that it's probably a condition called PVNS in my left knee, and necessitates a leg brace, crutches, a biopsy in a month and subsequent operation that will mean another six weeks' recuperation.

The downsides?  Well, yes, they're obvious.  At first I thought 'yippee, good excuse not to do housework', and have adjusted my mindset to accept that living in a pigsty is the least of my problems, though I do manage to do a little tidying up by transporting items from room to room over my shoulder (or stuffed down my bra, if they're small enough).  Most things have to be bought and fetched for me, and I find that hard.  The worst downside is the occasional, excruciating pain.  So bad that it causes sweating and yelling ~ last time, even huge doses of morphine didn't touch it.  The other night I was watching a documentary about Guns 'N' Roses, in which Duff McKagen said that when his pancreas burst after years of rock star excess, he too had the experience of zero effect from 'enough morphine to knock out a horse' (which is what the nurse said I'd had).  The TV interviewer gasped in awe; I merely raised a world-weary eyebrow.

Me and Duff McKagen: too rock 'n' roll for morphine

Only gas and air took the edge off it for me.  The last time it happened I lay in A&E practically delirious with pain for one and a half hours until an angel appeared in the form of a wonderful doctor whose name I didn't manage to catch apart from his being called Izzy or Ezzy, whose dear sweet nurse gave me much gas and air and wiped my sweating brow; Angel Doctor drained a cupful of blood from the football that used to be my knee.  He was one of those Africans who are so black that all I could see was the whites of his eyes and his lovely smile He had the most calming, beautiful aura I've ever come across, and I felt completely safe in his hands.  I dunno, perhaps the morphine did affect me after all, but I honestly felt that I'd been sent a divine being!  I've looked him up on the health authority website but can't find him... so perhaps he really was :)

At least it's winter; it's quite nice to have an excuse to stay inside, warm and cosy!  I like to think that I'm a fairly positive and contented person, and indeed my situation does have upsides.  I haven't had a cigarette for four weeks so may have given up (though I don't want to totally give up because smoking makes you look hard and cool, and non-smokers are girly wimps), but the main bonus is reading time.  Currently, I have hours a day for one of my favourite things in the world!  I read about fifteen books over the last four weeks.  I review for Rosie Amber's Review Team and am on the panel for a historical fiction award, so I have much time to give to both, as well as some of my own choices.  The TBR list is finally getting chopped down a bit!  
Five of Rosie's review team!

No domestic chores means I have more time to write, too ~ my new novella has been sent for proofreading (details soon), and yesterday I actually wrote a six page letter in longhand, to a friend I haven't seen for a while.  You know, like people did in the olden days! 

With reference to the first paragraph, about learning how to appreciate the small stuff, back in 1982 I shared a flat with my friend Helen, and we had no fridge.  When we finally got one we felt as if we'd been given some fabulous treat.  The joy of being able to have salad, and the milk not going off, was such a novelty.  I imagine I will feel the same once I can walk once more, and I hope I never take it for granted again!  In the New Age early 90s I remember reading a book called 'Flow', one of the many self-help books that were everywhere back then ~ it was leant to me by Jane with whom I shared a house at the time.  She was a great fan of the whole New Age scene, and was always feng shui-ing the downstairs loo and sneaking off to do Shamanic drumming.  The message I took from it was that happiness is derived not from having your dreams come true but from obtaining joy via the everyday things in life.  Tis true indeed, and I still try to live by that; I often think of that fridge :)

Helen and me, 2015 (33 years on, we remain proud fridge owners)

Just one last thing and very, very important thing ~ we've been so lucky with family and friends and all their offers of help and kind messages.  Real life, online, and online friends who've become real life ones too ~ you know who you are, and THANK YOU xxxxxx

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Zodiac Files: Marilyn Chapman ~

Astrology ~ a bit of fun, a load of rubbish, or something to take seriously?

I invited around 70 writers/bloggers to write a piece about whether or not they're typical of their sign, and how its traits affect their writing life ~ if at all...

I featured fifty-one writers and bloggers last year ~ if you would like to have a look at the list (with links), they're all HERE

Now please give a big hand for the last Zodiac Files guest ~ Capricorn writer Marilyn Chapman, who I 'met' via the blogging community on Twitter.  I need not introduce her as I have with the others, as Marilyn has kindly given all her information in the last paragraph of her piece, so I've put the links there ~ now I'll hand you straight over to her!

"Did you know that Capricorns usually marry for life? If so, please don’t tell my husband – he thinks he has served a long enough ‘sentence’ already! 

Born on Christmas Eve, on the cusp of Aquarius, I nevertheless do have many of the Capricorn’s goat-like traitsStubborn?  Yes. Fatalistic and pessimistic? Yes. Humorous? Oh, yes.  ‘My mummy’s not like yours,’ I heard my then six-year-old daughter tell her friend. ‘She jokes all the time so please don’t take her seriously.’

I’m practical but not always prudent, ambitious but not disciplined, confident and strong-willed but certainly not calm.
The traits that really give me away are a tendency to self-criticism and doubt which can sometimes lead to an onset of the blues. (I don’t like the word depression – it makes me feel well, down.)"

"When my paternal grandmother had her fortune told at a church fair she regarded it as harmless entertainment.  The fortune teller said that her elder son (my father) would ‘make his living with the pen.’  He became a successful journalist. His five-year-old brother, on the other hand seemed to have a very hazy future. He died of meningitis when he was 11 years old.

Hearing this story year later made me conscious of my own random ability to predict the future.  I still prefer to call it intuition.

I was born in the Channel Island of Guernsey and still think of it as home even though I left there when I was a young child.   I have French ancestry which might explain the fact that I hate injustice and have a fiery temper."

"I have always been moved by stories of hardship and heartache suffered by so many innocent people during World War Two.  My debut novel, Baggy Pants and Bootees, follows a young girl’s desperate search for her long lost father. Shortlisted for the Festival of Romance New Talent award in 2013 the book was published in paperback and e-book format in 2014. My second novel, a historical romance set in the Occupation of Guernsey, is complete and I am currently working on the sequel to Baggy Pants and Bootees.

I began my career as a trainee reporter on my local newspaper in Lytham St Annes and later freelanced for national newspapers and magazines. My blog, guernseygirlieblogspot.com takes a weekly look at ‘reading, writing and really amazing things’ and I’m also active on facebook and Twitter. I love doing radio interviews to promote my work but hate having my photo taken. Finally, here is my long-suffering Geminian husband on holiday in Norfolk. And yes, he does snore – just a little…."

Having lived in Norfolk for 9 years I know it well!

....and once again all those traits reveal themselves!  Thanks so much for being the final guest on The Zodiac Files, Marilyn, and we wish you well in your writing career, of course!

Last of all, I've searched my file and found that I had only two remaining Capricorn writers (the goat section took a bit of a battering in December!), so here they are!

...short story, poet and children's fiction writer Rudyard Kipling....

....and science maestro Isaac Asimov

A huge thank you to everyone who has read, contributed to, commented on, tweeted, retweeted or otherwise made this series a success :)

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Zodiac Files: Linda Hobden ~ Taurus/Gemini

Astrology ~ a bit of fun, a load of rubbish, or something to take seriously?

I invited around 70 writers/bloggers to write a piece about whether or not they're typical of their sign, and how its traits affect their writing life ~ if at all...

I've featured fifty-four writers and bloggers so far ~ if you would like to have a look at the list (with links), they're all HERE

Now, there was me thinking I'd got myself another Taurus, and then I read the article from my next guest, shoe and fashion blogger Linda Hobden, and discovered that she's a Taurus/Gemini cusp who feels more like the twins than a bull!  The blog's gorgeous, a real must for shoes and fashion addicts ~ it's HERE

Tell us all about your cuspal life, Linda :)

"I was born on May 21st and depending on what horoscope guide one refers to, I am either a Taurus or a Gemini.  I have always considered myself a Gemini, but looking at the two different traits, I am definitely half and half.  Being on the cusp can be lots of fun - when reading my horoscopes I read both Taurus & Gemini and pick the prediction that I like the sound of!  So, when Terry asked the immortal question of how my zodiac traits present themselves when I write my blog, in true "cusp" style, I picked out traits from both lists."

"My Gemini side shows itself in the fact that I am nosy, chatty, communicative, sociable and I'm interested in a variety of subjects. This bodes well for me as I interview on my blog people from all walks of life from around the world - CEOs, models, photographers, fashion designers, craftspeople, authors, entrepreneurs  and others - about their careers, lives and their personal footwear and fashion tastes.  Being nosy, chatty and interested definitely helps.  In the field of communication, I love the English language (and literature)."

My Taurus side shows itself in the fact that I am stubborn and I dislike change.  I had been told for months that my blog of 4 years was no longer mobile friendly but I was too stubborn to agree to change the theme ... but after a while I did change my theme and it does look slicker and.... well, let's just say, it has been done! Other Taurus traits include being independent (I may be sociable but I do like to work on my blog independently); being loyal (I do support those who have given me hope, encouragement and help as I go on my blog journey); being dependable (if I say I will do something, I will); being reliable (I blog every week without fail and have done since 2012 - I just cannot blog without being organised in advance!); being artistic (I enjoy photography, especially macro and textures - and I like the chance of using my photos in my blog).  Unfortunately, patience is a Taurus trait that doesn't apply to my blog life especially when I experience a technical hitch or two ...in fact I display that Gemini trait of being a tad quarrelsome!  Just ask my Leo husband!"

I haven't noticed that my Taurean husband is patient, at all.... mind you, he has half his birth chart in fiery, demanding AriesA very clear insight into the two signs ~ if you would like to get to know Linda and follow her posts, she can be contacted Twitter or Facebook.

Now, famous writer time ~ I thought it best to choose one of each!

.... with Gemini chick lit writer Jane Green....

and the king of the American blockbuster beach read, Taurean Harold Robbins :)


#DavidBowie #WordlessWednesday

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Z Files: Jaye Marie ~ Taurus

Astrology ~ a bit of fun, a load of rubbish, or something to take seriously?

I invited around 70 writers/bloggers to write a piece about how typical they are of their sign, and how its traits affect their writing life ~ if at all...

I featured fifty-one writers and bloggers last year ~ if you would like to have a look at the list (with links), they're all HERE

Couldn't resist this picture!

Now, here's the sign for which I had the least contributions to this feature ~ yes, yes, I know Taurus natives tend to be sceptical about the whole thing (as proven by my Taurean husband, brother and best friend, who all threaten to disown me if I mention it!).  So I was pleased to find another ~ welcome Jaye MarieJaye is a writer of mystery and thrillers, and very supportive of other tweeters, writers and bloggers; you can find out more about her and her writer sister Anita's books on their blog HERE.

Now I'll let Jaye tell you all about being a Taurus writer:

"Saint or Sinner? 

If you read the list of attributes for the average Taurean, most of them are highly desirable, and my family would agree that I have most of them. I am practical, generous, patient and loving. Most people like me, but if they were honest, they would admit that my intense stubbornness could sometimes be a bit of a problem. I have yet to come across anyone who can make me change my mind…  I cannot do it, even when it’s for the best!"

"My sister hates the fact that I always have to be right, moving heaven and earth to achieve this. Most of the time I am right, but will go to extraordinary lengths to make things fit. Once made up, my mind is unchangeable, even by me! 

I have more heads than Worzel Gummidge and have had a go at most things. If I like the look of something and someone made it, I will have a go too. Doesn’t matter what it is either, I learned to upholster furniture that way, and found I had a talent for making those wire and gemstone bonsai trees that were all the rage once upon a time."

"I love a challenge and is one of the reasons I became a writer. Although, I did imagine in the beginning that I would write beautifully romantic, magical stories. How I have come to enjoy writing psychological thrillers is a mystery, but there are two on the shelves of Amazon, with more to follow. Maybe there is a darker side to me that I didn’t know about!

Somewhere inside me is an artistic streak, desperately trying to get out and be recognised, and although I have created some lovely things in my time, sheer perfection still eludes me."

"I have a weird sense of humour, an infectious laugh and a legendary bad temper. The passing of time has rounded off the edges a little however, as I have learned a little patience.

The down side of being a Taurean is not so desirable however, and I have to own up to possessing some of these traits too.  I can be unadventurous, secretive, frugal, possessive, opinionated and overly sentimental. Boring and lazy I would argue with, but I dislike chaos and unnecessary risks. I tend to avoid bossy people, and I am supposed to be good at making money.  

Not much sign of that as yet…"

I love this cover!

Well, you never know... at least Taureans are good at sticking at it!  You can give Jaye a big cheery hello on Twitter HERE. 

For Jaye's two Taurus writers I chose a lady who is clearly a very tenacious bull...

....HOW many books has Barbara Taylor Bradford written??!

And another lady without whom a series about writers would surely not be complete: Charlotte Bronte


Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Z Files: Jan Brigden ~ Libra

Astrology ~ a bit of fun, a load of rubbish, or something to take seriously?

I invited around 70 writers/bloggers to write a piece about how typical they are of their sign, and how its traits affect their writing life ~ if at all...

I featured fifty-one writers and bloggers last year ~ if you would like to have a look at the list (with links), they're all HERE

Today I'm delighted to introduce another lovely, romantic  Libra : the charming Jan BrigdenJan signed with well-known independent publishers Choc Lit after winning their Search for a Star competition with her first novel, As Weekends Go; well done, Jan!  She's also a proud member of romantic novelists group The Romaniacs.

Take it away, Jan!

"I’m so often told I’m a typical Libran. Born smack in the middle – not a cusp in sight. My best friend’s  a Libran too. We joke about our scales bobbing up and down to suit the mood, and how they continually play those contrasting and very familiar traits off against each other.

As in …
Sociable (I can party and interact both on and off line with the best of them) versus Hesitant (except when self-doubt and a craving for my own space pitch up, the isolation being handy when those writerly creative juices need to be flowing).

Tolerant (have you seen my easy-going & fair-minded badges?) versus Selfish (what do you mean, you want dinner? I’ve another plot hole to fix!).

Diplomatic ( I can peace-make for England) versus Fearful (I hate ill-feeling and confrontation)"

"This ‘seeing all sides of a dilemma or debate’ does help me tremendously, though, with being able to really delve beneath the layers of each of my fictional characters to obtain their private/public viewpoints and opinions.

Affectionate, gullible, sentimental, idealistic, romantic? Yep! I wear my rose-tinted glasses with pride, still cry whenever I watch Bambi, Titanic or Ghost, even though I’ve seen them a thousand times, and love a big old bear hug if I’m feeling a bit fragile."

"The main Libran characteristic I can relate to, though, is indecision. Guilty as charged, m’lud! I can weigh up the simplest of issues for days, especially when it affects other people, yet once my mind is made up, that’s it. It’s certainly hindered my writing progress at times, dithering over one paragraph for hours – tweaking and re-tweaking, instead of moving on and editing afterwards. Next minute, the old scales will dip and the words will be flowing nonstop.  I suppose this can be both a strength and a weakness (don’t ask me to pick one over the other though – we’ll be here for days!)."

It's funny how all the Librans who've appeared on here prove that this indecision thing isn't a myth!  If you would like to know more about Jan, or say a nice friendly hello, you can follow her on Twitter HERE.
She's an active user of the site and a generous tweeter:)

Two Libran writers to join Jan in her wordsmithery?  

I've chosen Truman Capote, a very sociable chap....

...and F Scott Fitzgerald, lover of all things aesthetically pleasing!



Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The Z Files: Rosie Amber ~ Leo

Astrology ~ a bit of fun, a load of rubbish, or something to take seriously?

I invited around 70 writers/bloggers to write a piece about whether or not they're typical of their sign, and how its traits affect their writing life ~ if at all...

I featured fifty-one writers and bloggers last year ~ if you would like to have a look at the list (with links), they're all HERE

My first guest of 2016 should need little introduction to many Twitter based bloggers of the book reading and writing community ~ Rosie Amber, book blogger extraordinaire and big-hearted Leo!

It is a change to be featuring Rosie rather than the other way round, so I'll let her take the stand without further ado ~ all blog links, etc, after she's had her say :)

"Oh to be a LeoBorn to Rule? Not me, but I do make a great second in command. 

Looking back it’s been both a delight and a curse in my past. I love the sun and the warmth it brings so my star falls at an ideal time of the year for me, long summer days, holidays and lazing around, that’s me, I like to bask in the warmth surveying my domain, does that make me smug or just proud?" 

"Now the jealous trait - As a child I saw an August birthday as a curse, I waited all school year for my birthday and just when I got there, everyone was away on holiday, plus when we all returned to school in September, blow me if someone had a birthday on the first day back and I was at the back of the queue all over again. 

Loyal – as I said above, believe it or not I prefer NOT to be the leader, but I pour lots of traits into making a great second in command. Here I tick off; determined, enterprising, encouraging, generous, energetic and faithful. If you’ve got me backing you up, we make a mean team. That will last until on rare occasions the temperamental Leo trait rears its ugly head. But I’m not one to get into an argument with a face to face blow out, I’ll go off and give you the silent treatment."

"Creative – So just at this point many of you will be scratching your head about me – I’m Rosie Amber the fearless leader of the “Rosie’s Book Review Team”, I’m putting myself “out there” exposing myself to the world on social media, yet I claim I’m not a leader? Firstly it’s easy isn’t it? I’m sat behind my computer, see second in command again. Secondly I put that down to my creative side which has now had time to re-emerge, into this I can push my fun and friendly side, my generosity to others that I give to book reviewing and my dramatic side. Don’t get me started on telling you a tale, we’ll be here for the rest of the morning, I can do a good recount of some great incidents.

"Energetic – Anyone who knows a bit more about me knows I’m a busy person and I can fit that expression “If you want a job done give it to a busy person” I’ll get it done, organised and sorted. When I met up with some members of the book review team last October, I had the hotel booked, the weekend planned, maps of the places we needed to go, even a print out of all the motorway services on the route for rest breaks – but we had a laugh too – I may have printed out the list of motorway services, but it sat back at home on my desk.  I may have planned a meet the author at a book swap session, but it was a bit of a one horse event and we chose coffee and an afternoon chatting instead. Although I did pull off a completely mad idea and had us all posing as “Rosie’s Angels” 

So for now I’ll leave you with my lion’s ROAR!"

Could this be Rosie?

Having been one of the members of the book review team that met up last October, I can confirm that Rosie is a warm, friendly and creative lion, very typical of the sign indeed!  She's always thinking of some new idea for the blog, such as her new video reviews on YouTube; maybe running Rosie Amber Book Awards is the most Leo trait of the lot ~ the Queen of the Jungle distributing her new year's honours!

If you would like to read the review team's opinions on all sorts of books submitted for review, have your own book reviewed (don't forget to read the guidelines) or take part in the wonderful world of Rosie Amber generally, you can follow her on Twitter HERE, and look at the rest of the blog that I haven't already linked, HERE!  

Famous Leo authors for Rosie?  I've chosen someone I know is one of her favourites...

.... the amazing JK Rowling, lion queen of fantasy fiction for all ages!

and because Rosie's a country girl at heart, I've also chosen lovely Beatrix Potter :)