A Visit to Stonehenge

Even though it’s not far from neck of the woods, I’ve only just got round to visiting Stonehenge.

It helps that we’ve joined English Heritage as it’s not cheap to visit the stones. Understandable I suppose, given that it is one of the most famous sites on the planet and they have got a rather good visitors centre. Inside is a 360 display of the stones, plus an exhibition on their history and artefacts found at the site.

There’s been many a story inspired by these great, ancient stones and the burial mound covered landscape that surrounds them. I shall let the pictures speak for themselves.

Who else has been to this magnificent place? What were your thoughts?

 

Liked that? Try these…

 

Visiting Alice Liddells Grave

20160618_093834

Any fan of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ will know that its eponymous heroine is based on a real person. Alice Liddell was the fourth child in the Liddell family. They were friends with Charles Dodgson AKA Lewis Carroll and it was on a boating trip that he whipped up the tale of Alice and the White Rabbit which Alice encouraged him to write down. ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ were born.

Alice lived most of her life in and around Lyndhurst in the New Forest. And it’s handily not that far away from where I live. It seemed only right that after photographing Lewis Carroll’s final resting place, I should do the same for Alice herself.

20160618_093750

You can find her around the back of the rather grand St Micheal and All Angels. A handy sign points the way. On the headstone, Alice is referred to as ‘Mrs Reginald Hargreaves’, which does jar, but put that down to the times in which she lived.

20160618_093758

The grave itself has a rather lovely white stone memorial. It contrasts with the very apt red and white rose bushes planted inside.

 

If you’re ever passing through, I would definitely recommend stopping by to  see this charming site.

 

Try these next…

 

Lewis Carrolls Grave, Guildford
Jane Austen’s Grave, Winchester
Take Five Books

Have you got a Colouring Book?

Image of colouring pencils

Adult colouring books are all the rage. And by ‘adult’ I mean they’re more complicated than ones for the kids, not that they’ve got er, ‘adult’ subject matter (maybe yours do, I’m not judging). You can’t walk into a book shop without falling over a table full of them, swoops and curls of black and white, sometimes with a hint of gold to look extra classy.

They seemed to appear as therapy for a range of mental health issues, including simple stress relief. The market for them has certainly exploded over the past couple of years, so there’s definitely a lot of people doing them.

I’ve got an Alice in Wonderland one (‘natch) that I’m working on.

As a child, colouring books were stressful, as my overwhelming perfectionism did away with any ‘fun’ I might have had. Now, older and wiser, I just go with whatever pencil comes out of the box.

Anyone else out there got the colouring book bug?

Where's the oddest place you've done it

Write I mean!

On trains and buses, boats and rooftops, beaches, balconies and the bottom of the sea, we writers will do it anywhere (get your minds out of the gutter please!) I’m sure you know what it’s like to have the Muse (or just the need to flex those writing muscles) strike at an unexpected moment.

Personally, the oddest place I’ve done it was a department store. Working 9-5, you can only re-arrange the cushions and lights and mirrors so many times before you start to feel a bit zombified. In the long periods between customers (because no-one buys lights on a Wednesday afternoon), I used scraps of paper we kept for customer notes to scribble out a ghost story set in, yes, a department store.

So, where’s the oddest place you’ve done your writing?

Related reads
How to Earn 700 Self-Publishing! 700 Simoleons that is
5 Ways to Wordsmith your Writing
Get Paid to do your own Writers Retreat

4 Roadblocks to your Writing – And 4 ways to Steamroll them!

Image of steamroller


For every writing problem you have, there is an answer.

Not necessarily an easy answer that involves lamps and Genies but an answer nevertheless.

Here are 4 common roadblocks that stop you from writing – and 4 ways to steamroll them flat.

1) I don’t have time to write

When I was younger, there was a TV show about a boy with a watch who could stop time. I think everyone would kill for one of those, writer or not.

You’re allowed to have a busy life, a job, a family, kids, pets and all sorts of other commitments. You’re allowed to have days when you don’t write. Don’t feel bad about them.

But –

the fact remains that your book/short story/poem/screenplay isn’t going to write itself. So you’re going to have to make time. That might mean making a few little sacrifices; you wake up a bit earlier, you write in your lunch break or skip an evening TV show for a couple of hours of writing instead. If you don’t drive on your commute, you could fit in a few words then. Or even keep a notepad in the toilet – multi-tasking to the extreme!

2) I’m just not inspired

You can’t write without inspiration right? Well…actually, you can. People who write for a living don’t have a choice. It may sound mercenary but if you have to, you’ll find something to write about.

If you’re stuck on a scene, skip it and move on. Try editing something you’ve already written. Or go and write something completely different to keep your mind active until you’re ready to go back to your WiP. Blog posts are good!

Physical activity can also get the creative juices flowing. A simple walk can work wonders for the old noggin. A trip to the Library is even better. Grab a book to find your inspiration.

3) I’m not sure my writing is any good

Join the club, we’ve got jackets.

Every writer ever, in the history of writing, has doubted their work or their writing abilities. And not just once either. It’s completely natural. And it may be that what you’re writing on isn’t going to work out.

Step back. Let your work breathe. When you return to it, give it a the once over and, if you decide to scrap it, don’t chuck it entirely. Keep a copy so that if nothing else you can cannibalise it for ‘parts’.

You also need to remind yourself why you writeWhy do these characters dance through your through your head and onto paper? Because they need to. Because you need to. You may not be the next Charles Dickens (I know I’m not), but you will always have to write. 

4) I keep getting distrac-oh a butterfly!

The internet is a wonderful and terrible place. So are Netflix and Instagram  and all the other distractions of the digital age. When you turn on your computer to write, you open up world of procrastination right at your fingertips. I know this. I’ve already been distracted six times in the last paragraph.

Hmm…what was I saying?

You can try swapping your laptop for a pen and paper. But if you’re anything like me, you type faster than you can write anyway. Then you’ll need to get serious and unplug the internet. You can do this literally or by using handy apps from Chrome or Microsoft. Use them to block the Internet on your computer for as long as you need to get things done.
Or try a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, with or without music, to help you focus.

And hide the TV.


 

What are your top tips to get past major writing difficulties?

Related reads
The Perils of On-demand TV
Write Every Day
Writer’s Block? Move it!
Get Paid to do your own Writers Retreat

Music to write to – Badlands by Halsey

A random YouTube mix brought US singer Halsey into my life by way of the video for New Americana. After viewing and listening to a number of her other tracks, I was impressed enough to buy her album ‘Badlands’.

I haven’t enjoyed an album so much in a long time. In fact my only complaint is that it’s too short and left me wanting more. There were no duff tracks, just lyrical pop gems in my opinion. I liked the strong Feminist streak through the album and the songs that dealt with mental illness that Halsey herself has experience of. My highlights are ‘Ghost’ an upbeat but melancholy search for love and ‘Haunting’ which pleads with a lover to stay, even if the relationship is over. ‘Control’ brings up questions of mental health and inner turmoil in disturbing fashion. I can imagine listening to this when writing something with well-defined female characters, perhaps in the Young Adult arena.

If you give it a listen, tell me what you think.

Raised in the fantasy way

R2-D2 toy

I grew up surrounded by fantasy and sci-fi. Maybe that’s why it’s what I love to write now.  Bedtime stories were The Hobbit, Wind in the Willows, Roald Dahl. Daytime video viewing was Star Wars, Willow, Labyrinth and all the Disney films. It’s still seen as odd if you’re into fantasy and happen to be female. People assume you aren’t into it for the ‘right’ reasons, whatever they are. Sexist bollocks of course!

Anyway, all this leads to the fact I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens last week. I went with my boyfriend, who’s decently into fantasy but didn’t grow up with Star Wars like I did. We had the toys, the books, the games, you name it. I was the one at the screening with the Star Wars T-shirt! They’ll be no spoilers, but suffice to say both I and the boyfriend loved it. It brought back the feeling of watching the original films, with the added bonus of being on a very big (IMAX) screen that practicaly swallowed me into the story.

What did you think of the film?  And are you a fantasy fanatic?

Related reads

An Open Fan Letter to Sir Terry Pratchett
A Froud and a Henson? A Match Made in Puppet Heaven
Harry Potter Studio Tour

I Bought the Final Discworld Novel

Well, I had to didn’t I?

The final Discworld novel. After this, there will be no more. I knew this day would come eventually, but it shouldn’t have come so damn soon.

The Sheperd's Crown by Terry Pratchett The Sheperd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

I’ve started reading it and it’s just as good as I expected albeit tinged with bittersweetness in every word. One day I shall have every Terry Pratchett book on my bookshelf, saved as my tribute to him. For now I’ll just savour this last adventure.

Have you read the book yet?

Related reads
An Open Fan Letter to Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett Goodies

5 Inspiring Things to do in London

London

We’ve visited London quite a bit and so we’ve done most of the usual touristy things. Here are five different and interesting things to do in London. Maybe they’ll give you some ideas if you’re planning a visit or are a local!

  1. The British Library is offering behind-the-scenes tours this summer. I’ve never been that far into the building so I’m very excited about this one. It’s not too pricey either at £10 each for adults. I’m hoping they’ll let me take photos so I can share the experience on here.
  2. I’m hoping for some macabre inspiration from the Hunterian Museum. Attached to The Royal College of Surgeons, this free museum houses all manner of weird and wonderful things. Usually in jars.
  3. Next up a tour of the London Underground, £20 each for a two-hour tour (plus you have to pay for your tube travel). My boyfriend and I share a fascination for underground spaces like tunnels, caves and mines so we’re both intrigued by this one. The chance to view a disused platform should be a highlight – who knows what could be down there?
  4. On to Dennis Sever’s House, a rather unique bit of history. Dennis lived in the house from 1979 to 1999 and refurbished the place room by room. Each one is set up as if the family Huguenot silk-weavers who lived there have just stepped out.
  5. Lastly, you can’t go to London without taking in a show, but musicals aren’t my thing. Instead we’re going to see The Woman in Black. I can highly recommend the book if you’re a fan of ghost stories and, though different, the Daniel Radcliffe film was suitably moody. The reviews of the stage version are superb and it’s been going for twenty-five years so they must be doing something right!

I’d love to hear any other recommendations. Do you have an inspiring place in London or an activity there you’ve loved?

Related reads

Exploring Highgate Cemetery
Discover Literature – The British Library Online

Who are Your Writing Pals?

I have two writing pals on my desk; Catbutt and Grandad.

image

Catbutt was a gift who is also a handy paperweight. I call him Catbutt as he has a hefty posterior.

image

Grandad is actually a vicar troll but his cross fell of a while back. I gave him to my Grandfather (also a vicar) for Christmas when I was a child. After he died, it seemed right the troll should come home with me and be named Grandad.

image

These two guys are always there when I write, like good luck charms, helping me to get my creative on!

Do you have any writing pals? Post a picture if you want!