Only a short entry this week, for reasons that will become apparent.  It’s been a problem filled week…although the financial difficulties following the festive season have resolved themselves, which can only be good, the main problem has beenmy broadband connection.  It went down for 6 days.  I was completely bereft, which begs the question…what did I do before the internet?

The answer is, I’m sorry to say, I wrote a lot more than I’m doing at the moment.  I seem to lack discipline on a major scale.  There are just far too many distractions.  Even when I’m writing, I’m using the laptop, it’s just too easy to nip onto facebook, or just read my emails…three hours later, I find myself thinking…oh s**t!  I’ve only written a hundred words! (and that’s on a good day!)

I finally got my broadband cnnection back on Tuesday, but didn’t actually use it very much.  I had a bit of a funny turn.  I went really tired and shaky…and seemd to crash over a period of minutes  The room started spinning and I felt really sick.  Then I started with a migraine, which has left me wasted two days on!  But perversely I can’t sleep.  I’m averaging 3 hours a night.  My brain is in a complete fog.  The simplest of tasks have me befuddled!  Come on body…get your act together.

I’ve been working on the day job’s magazine all week too.  I like putting it together and writing bits for it, but by the time I get home, I’m too tired to get on with my own projects.  I’ve been struggling with the timing of my novel.  I keep changing my mind on when to actually start the story _ Chapter one had been chapter five on numerous occasions!

I’m also struggling with the introduction chapter for my main female character.  I want her to be interesting and instantly likeable, if not a little bit naive and ineffective.  I want her to become stronger and more self assured by the end of the book, but it’s a balance I’m finding difficult to achieve.  At the beginning on the story she is a complete wimp!  I don’t like her very much at all…and if I don’t like her then what chance does a reader have?

I’m visiting a friend at the weekend, who is also a fellow writer.  I’m hoping to get some feedback from her and with it a bit of clarity.

So what have I learned this week…

  • You need sleep on a regular basis…sleep is good! 😀
  • I need to be stricter with myself.  Setting deadlines is all well and good, but its useless without the discipline behind it.  I’ve decided that I’m going to have a day off tomorrow and try and get myself right physically.  Then start a fresh on Saturday.  Get organised, review my deadlines and bribe myself with a treat when each task is completed – I’m thinking coffee, chocolate and a trip to the cinema.
  • I’m limiting myself to just an hour’s facebook time.  I’m setting the alarm on my mobile phone.

Good night everyone…pleasant dreams 😀


…critique services

I’ve been critiquing for going on eight years…Gawd…has it been that long?  Yes it has!  It started as a way to improve my own skill and knowledge and eventually it became a job.  I gave up doing it for other organisations, basically because they tended to think that if you worked from home they could treat you like last week’s leftovers (I refuse to name them…because they are sloppy and their customer service stinks and I’m not giving them any publicity).  I may have left several years ago, but several of my clients came with me and I continued to critique for both friends and clients, albeit on an ‘call me if you need me’ basis.  Many times they have told me how daft I am not pushing it as full blown business…

So, I am now offering this service to new clients and I am venturing out into the ether, that is the virtual world, to get some! 😀

I have a no nonsense approach to this service, under the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid!).  I charge realistic prices and you get all the benefits.  Advice, coaching and an honest view.  I don’t make any promises I can’t keep, or wild claims to get you published.  I will get your work fit to publish…give you a quote and realistic timeframe for the work.  Full details can be found on ‘For writers…’ page, just click the tab above the header.

Any queries…just give me an email at Shadowpen@hotmail.co.uk

Do you ever get the feeling that your life is just spiralling out of control?  Well that’s been me for the last two weeks.  The day job is as hectic as ever and people…people are a real pain in the…  I feel as though I have not been able to do anything that I should, or want to be doing, for doing stuff that other people should be doing!

Then there is that added problem of not being paid in a timely fashion.  I’ve had a hell of a job chasing up money I’ve been owed since JULY!!!  I know that the world economy is causing problems for everyone…but that includes me too.  I don’t make a fortune doing what I do, but the bills don’t go away.  There is only so far the excuse of ‘the cheque is in the mail’ will go.

To top it all, I feel rotten.  I have somesort of mega chest infection and feel as if I’ll never be human again.  Yes I feel sorry for myself.  It’s self indulgent, petty, pathetic and pitiful…and I don’t care!


It’s just so difficult to pick yourself up and drag yourself from under the duvet…and be thankful for what you’ve got.  But I’m going to try_


Because I’ve not had any money, we’ve been living out of the bottom of the freezer.  A friend calls it ‘random combination week’ (or in my case ‘random combination three weeks’), the phrase amused me because it’s so true.  I have mentioned my aversion to everyday cooking before, but my lack of funds has made me be much more creative in the kitchen.  I actually made soup…twice…from scratch!  It was lovely too.  Much better than shop bought stuff.  Then I discovered that chilli beef goes really well with pasta and you don’t have to drink iced coffee in the summer (I ran out of milk, so used vanilla ice-cream…it’s lovely!).  I’ve been a lot less wasteful and ‘im indoors has had to be less fussy…or starve.

The snow and ice have melted where I live, so I walked to work…my butt is now made of steel and I lost seven pounds. (But ended up with a chest infection…you win some and you lose some.)

I also found that the most unlikely people can be ever so kind and I would like to take the opportunity to thank a neighbour who lent me teabags, and milk and refused to take the money off me when I finally gots some funds…and then gave me a bottle of wine and a box of choccies for doing some shopping for her when the weather was bad and she couldn’t get out.  It made me cry.

I’ve shopped in places I would not normally shop at (snob that I am) and got some really good bargains, and utilised my freezer much more, so I’ve re-evaluated my habits and I figure I can save myself about £50 a month just on food!!!

It’s been really hard to motivate myself to do the ‘extra things’, (…the blog, the book, the ezine, the shorts, the articles, clear out the office, think of new ideas…) when you’re are just living from day to day.  It’s the stupid things that get you down and make life seem so difficult….have I enough washing powder to clean my work clothes for next week?    If I don’t put the heating on, will the electricty last long enough for me to have a shower?(we’re on a pay as you go type meter) One teabag can make us both a drink.  The dog can eat the leftovers so I can get some milk…

I let my imagination make a game out of it…how creative and resourceful can I be?  I found some pretty ingenious answers, even if I say so myself.  I even found myself enjoying the challenge…although I’ll admit, not all the time. Crying in the bath is a lonely experience I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

I know I’m not the only person having problems and there are people in the world suffering a thousand times more than I am.  I look back and I’ve just had to deal with it.  We all just do.  I’m still here.  The bills will get paid…eventually and life will go on.  I got a cheque on Friday, for some work I did in October…it will have cleared by Thursday…yay!

Light at the end of the tunnel…

So lessons I’ve learned…

  • Keep things in perspective – I’ve missed opportunities, so what – there will be others – deal with what you can when you can.
  • Prioritise – I can’t be all things to all people and neither can anyone else.  Identify what is urgent and deal with that.  You can do all the ‘want to do’s’ later when things lighten up…and they will.
  • Be kind to yourself – I had to deal with alot of sh** in the last couple of weeks, so I have been guilty of self persecution- Don’t rip yourself apart because you should have done this or that…if your dealing with alot acknowledge that you are and give yourself a break.  If someone else was having problems, you’d cut them some slack, wouldn’t you….?  So do the same for yourself.
  • Take time to reflect on what your doing – if you must blame yourself  – fine…learn from the experience, even put plans into place to stop it happening again.  Then move on.  You can’t change what has gone on before – dwelling on it is just a waste of time.
  • Use the experience in your work.  Keep a journal.  Throw it all down_ how you feel and what has made you feel that way.  Apart from getting it off your chest, which does you the world of good psychologically, you have more material for later works.  Who knows, this bad spell of mine might appear in some of my work later on.  It’s a prime example of writing about what you know.

Look after each other people! 😀

I’ve finally given in…I’ve combined both my addictions and have created the ‘a darker spirit ezine’ facebook group.  I’m on my own at the moment and it’s lonely, so please join me…

Just a reminder…deadlines for submissions for short fiction and flash fiction is 15th February.

For the first issue at least we have two competitions.  Submissions ar coming in thick and fast but we are happy to accept more…

Poetry and book reviews the deadline is 1st March.

We are also looking for articles and artwork too.

Email submissions only to shadowpen@hotmail.co.uk


a week in retrospect…

It’s that time again.  Dread grows, mould-grey and malignant in the pit of my stomach as the hours and days creep ever by.  By next week it will have  solidified into a monster of sheer panic gripping my chest…

…yes the day job’s magazine deadline is looming.  Will I have enough submissions?  Will there be enough space?  Will the team get their copy, photo’s and everything else to me, so I can get the thing out to the printers?!  will the proof readers prove their worth…will I goof big time?  Argh!

To top it off one of my team resigned…humph!  More money for the same hours…I can’t really blame her.  So we are one body short and guess who is picking up the slack!

I can’t really grumble, especially when you see what’s going on the world at the moment.  The mounting death toll and unbelievable level of suffering in Haiti is just so horrific, I can’t begin to get my head around it.  Every time I see the news I’m in floods of tears.  It just seems to be taking so long to help these people.  You just feel so helpless.  I appreciate it only has one airport and it’s infrastructre has been totally destroyed…but it’s an island, surely there are places to ‘land’ personnel and supplies.  Or am I being completely niave?

I do have to say that the people who have gone there to help, deserve the thanks and gratitude of the entire world.  Some fire-fighters from my hometown are over there at the moment.  They truly deserve the title of ‘heroes’.

I usually don’t like New Year celebrations.  I actually find them depressing, all that looking back, which is ironic as this is a retrospect! ( Ha!).  In my defence I try not to look back for more than a couple of weeks, especially if it something bad that has happened.  I try wherever I can to live in the present.  After all you can’t change the past.

This New Year was different, mainly because of the lanterns.  Ever since 1999/2000 New Year, fireworks have become a tradition.  Setting the night sky alight with brief and spectacular shooting stars…I just love fireworks.  So as Big Ben struck midnight, I stepped outside to check out the local fireworks and there they where…orange lights in the sky.  Half a dozen of them in tight formation.  Then more and more.

My other half, totally panicked, convinced that we were being invaded by aliens.  I, unfortunately, realised within a couple of seconds what they where…I let him sweat for a couple of minutes, until it became embarrassing…then I let him in on it 😀  I have to admit that I was quite disappointed that we weren’t being invaded…what does that say about me?

Of course I have to mention the lousy weather.  It snowed and then it snowed some more.  I walked to work on the Tuesday.  By the time I got there they decided to close the office and I had to walk back again!  They kept the office closed on Wednesday too, so I did a bit of writing.

I’m reviewing the first draft of the Mr Sandman novel.  There is so much of it I’m not happy about, especially my two main protagonists.  My hero is a wimp and I want to smack the heroine…hard.  She really needs to get a grip and he needs to suck it up and get on with it.  I’ve been rewriting the chapters with them in them, which has had knock on effect on the plot.  So more rewriting.  Ack!

What I’m worried about is losing the integrity of the story. I’ve a lot of work to do.

I’ve also started to review the second chapter of the Rebecca Tabern e-novel, so I’ll be posting up the redraft and the rationale in the next week, or so.

I’m supposed to be entering the Mslexia short story competition.  The deadline is the 25th January…I have pages and pages of notes…but no draft!  I just can’t seem to get the story together. Some writers can start off with a first scene and just let the story develop.  I seem to work the other way around, expecially for short stories. I’m more successful if getting a good story if I have a idea of an ending and in this case I don’t.  Not yet anyway.

I made some reviews to my personal objectives and added on some new ones.  New year resolutions and all that.  They’re mainly domestic.  I particularly want to revamp my garden.  I’ve not touched it for a couple of years, so it’s overgown and messy.  I particularly want a vegetable plot.  I don’t have a lot of space, so I’ll have to be creative.  I have a sunny wall, so I’m wondering if I can have a veg plot growing up a the wall…

Things were a little quiet over the festive season…which is how it should be.  However,  the days between Christmas and New Year have seen activity.  We have had another excellent submission of dark poetry and two offers of assistance for the steering group.

WE STILL NEED MORE!!!! Check out the details on the ‘a darker spirit’ page.

We are about to set up a message forum for the steering group, which I’m hoping will enable us to communicate easier than via email.  So despite snowy weather over, what seems to be, the whole of the Northern hemisphere, work on ‘a darker spirit’ progresses. 😀

Off note:  The ezine site is getting 60 views a week…and there’s nothing on it yet!  Just imagine what it’s going to be like when we do!!!!