Tuesday, 31 May 2011

What a wedding!

Well folks, another weekend, another wedding! This time it was my hubby's younger brother's turn, so it was a real family occasion. My beautiful daughter was stunning as a bridesmaid, and I have to admit I shed a few tears as she walked down the aisle (major flash forward to the future moment!) The bride was radiant and the groom looked like he couldn't believe his luck! The theme for the wedding was Lego - unbelievably cool! Lego cufflinks, favours, cake topper and table centre-pieces. Awesome!
But I know what you're really interested in is...how did I embarrass myself this time?!
I would love to tell you all that I didn't, that things went without a hitch. But then I'd be lying and I wouldn't do that to you! There seemed to be a trail of mini disasters, ranging from an interesting meal out on the Friday night (let's just say that the waitress's maths left a lot to be desired) to a hotel that made Fawlty Towers seem the height of professionalism! A bridesmaid's single flower bouquet broke on route to the church, a waiter knocked over a whole stand of glasses at the marquee and one relative's car was broken into!
My personal disaster? Well, that would be my dress. Oh so pretty, nipped in at the waist and then flaring out...all was going well until I stepped outside into the wind. Suffice to say that far too many people have now seen my infamous suck-in pants! Marilyn Monroe, eat your heart out!
But for all these dramas of varying sizes, it was the most wonderful weekend. We all laughed our way through (mostly!) and none of these things ruined the day. Personally, I love it when things don't exactly go to plan - a life with incident is the best source of inspiration!
Now I have a couple of months to recover before two weddings in August...if having read this they still decide to invite me!

~ Bex ~

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Hardest Part?

Obviously, I love writing. I spend most hours of every day sitting at my computer, unleashing a stream of words from my mind through my fingertips. The majority of the time the flow comes easily. Other times, not so much. Every writer knows the agony of a brain that won't respond. When it sluggishly rebels and refuses to co-operate. Anyone who saw my home would almost immediately be able to tell whether I was suffering from writer's block. If my house is a tip, then it's a good sign the writing is going well, as then all others things get neglected. If it's tidy and sparkling clean, then you know I'm in trouble!
But, for me, that is nothing, NOTHING, compared to the nightmare that is writing a synopsis. You've spent months on your manuscript, poring over it for hours upon hours to tweak every little word to perfection. Finally, you feel that you've obsessed sufficiently. It's time for your baby to learn to fly.
But despite the fact that for the past few weeks you've barely slept, lost in your own mind, pre-occupied with your characters and their plights, now comes the really hard part. Trying to succinctly describe your novel in a page? That one page is ten times harder than the three hundred and eighty that came before it!
Is it just me? Or do other writers hate this part too? I'm envious of anyone who can easily lay out their plot in an interesting and captivating manner. Because this is the part I truly agonise over. Without a good synopsis, there's no way an agent is going to make it to my sample chapters, so I know what's at stake. Yuck, my brain hurts just thinking about it. And don't even get me started on writing the covering letter...!

~ Bex ~

Wedding Coasters

Because this week has been flanked by two family weddings, my coaster selection has a marriage theme!

And there is no better place to buy a gorgeous personalised wedding coaster than from AngelEllie. She had so many gorgeous designs, it was hard to pick from them, so I'm going to treat you to six pictures today!




I think these would make a lovely gift for the happy couple, and wish I was getting married again so I could be given one! She does more than just coasters, so why not check out her etsy shop?

You can also visit her blog and follow her on twitter.

That's all the coaster fun for now!

~ Bex ~

Monday, 23 May 2011

The Woes of Suck-In Pants & Other Embarrassing Stories

Embarrassing things happen to me. Fact. In any group of people, if someone's going to fall down in the mud - it's going to be me. I'm also clumsy - if anyone's going to break something in a shop, it's going to be me. And I'm also quite forgetful - if one person's going to forget to bring a gift to a party, it's going to be me.
I'm quite used to it now and largely have accepted this way of life. But that doesn't mean I don't sometimes dread, with sick anticipation, how my next moment of public humiliation will come about.
Not long ago, I was in France visiting the very holy and revered town of Lourdes. Women are expected to cover up to show respect. So, of course, that was the day my dress strap decided to break, allowing my bra to be visible to all! Even for me, that was bad!
I went to a family wedding this weekend. It was a lovely occasion, but the odds are never good for me that I'll make it through something like this without incidence. Fate didn't disappoint me. I had expected trouble in the form of my suck-in pants - every girl's best friend when you need to squeeze into a pretty dress...until you have to take a visit to the ladies room later in the day. Getting those babies back on after you've had a three course meal is quite a feat!
However, that wasn't to be my main drama on Saturday. That came later in the day, when I returned to my hotel room to change out of my heels and into some flat shoes. A girl has to dance, right?
I snapped the key in the lock.
The moment I turned the key, the whole thing just broke. And there was no spare. So, some of the more unfortunate members of staff had to climb up a ladder and break in through the bedroom window (which was secured to not open for safety purposes!) An hour or so later, I was able to access the room, but unable to lock it from that point on!
There was some speculation as to the cause of the key breaking. Some thought the metal was weakened from such frequent use. The manager (who was called Mr Perfect...which he was not) implied I had drunk too much and with my hoof-like hands had been too rough with his precious lock. I would like to take this opportunity to deny these allegations - I had only had one glass of champagne (at that point!) and my hands aren't anything like hooves!
Publicly, I agreed that the metal was weak. But I have another theory. I've told you all before about my freakish hands that melted a steering wheel...well could it be that I have super powers in my palms? Gonna have to keep an eye on that!

I have another family wedding to attend next week...what could possibly go wrong?!

~Bex~

Friday, 20 May 2011

Coaster Time!

This post is a little late, but here are my coasters of choice this week!

How gorgeous are these designs from Hannah Turner Ceramics? I first fell in love with her work when I bought my mum one of her ceramic birds so imagine my delight when I discovered she made coasters too! These are only two of four designs, and she has cat ones as well. I'm sure I can find room for them at some point!




When you have a spare five minutes, why not pop over to her website? Her stunning ceramic birds, owls and cats are too cute to miss.

www.hannahturner.co.uk

She also has goodies for sale on the fabulous Not On The High Street website.

Hope you enjoyed my selection - come back soon for more!

~ Bex ~

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Tough Love

Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. To yourself that is. One of the books I’m currently working on has for a long time presented me with a huge mental block. The first 30k words are fine, but then I would zone out and couldn't progress. The following 20k words just weren’t doing it for me.

So I pressed delete. Hours of work gone just like that. But the weights have been lifted from my eyes, the restraints of the previous plot threads gone and now I am able to look at it with fresh eyes. The reason that section wasn’t working was because it was forced, not organic. I was trying to force my characters to be something they weren’t for the sake of a pre-determined plot line.

Now they have room to grow. I’m not entirely sure what will become of them at this point, but having written more in a day than I had in several months on this particular book, I know I’ve made the right decision.

Sometimes you just have to admit when something isn’t working and go back to the drawing board. On this occasion, at least, I’m glad I did.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Comfort Reading

Alexander McCall Smith is one of my favourite authors. With many successful series to his name, this prolific writer frequently provides the next chapter in the lives of his popular characters, so that it seems there is always a new book of his out! (I should add at this point that as my Mum is also an ardent fan, she buys the books and kindly allows me to pilfer them!)

I have just finished his latest offering – the next instalment in the Precious Ramotswe series, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, entitled The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party. Such perfect bedtime reading! By now the characters feel like old friends, so reading about their lives is familiar and comforting.


I think what I love about his books, is that they are delightfully straightforward. The fabulously well-written, and often amusing, plots are centred around good people living their lives. There’s no bombings, no horrendous evil, no unbearable horror. Yes, there are intrigues and problems to overcome, but nothing is insurmountable to these lovable characters, who face life with courage, love, strong morals and acceptance that things don’t always work out the way you expect.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my thrillers, fantasies, drama…and the darker the better. But just sometimes, it’s refreshing to put all that to one side and slip into the calmer worlds of Precious, Isabel and the folks at 44 Scotland Street. They’re food for the soul.

Roll on September when the new Isabel Dalhousie book is out – The Forgotten Affairs of Youth. Have you got it on pre-order Mum?!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

A Blogging Award!


Well, this is lovely - I've been awarded 'The Versatile Blogger Award' by Maria from Maria Divine. Considering I'm such a newbie blogger this is quite an honour - thank you Maria!

Part of accepting this award means I have to tell you seven (presumably interesting!) things about myself so here goes.

1. When I was 17 I walked from Plymouth to Lands End to raise money for charity.
2. When I was younger I wanted to be a forensic pathologist (all Patricia Cornwell's fault!).
3. If it's pink and spotty, you can't go wrong!
4. I don't believe in ironing - I don't own an iron and never plan to!
5. I was born on Easter Day and for far too many years thought Easter Eggs were all about me!
6. Once taught myself how to speak Old Norse, before realising the need to be able to say "The ghost sees the King" in a dead language probably wasn't that great! (In case you're interested that translates to "Draugrinn ser Konunginn"...)
7. When I was little, my brother dislocated my elbow while rescuing me from the crocodiles in our back garden.

Another stipulation of the award is that I pass it on to 5 newly discovered bloggers, so I have chosen:

Inner Owlet
Wise Words
James Dawson
Little Birdy Designs
Lyndsey Rose Davis

Please do have a look at all their lovely blogs and say hello!

And you should check out Maria's blog too, because it's sooo pretty :) Thanks again Maria.

~ Bex ~

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

More Coaster Love!

Well it's that time of the week again when I indulge in my obsession with coasters!

This week, check out these stunning specimens from the talented AuraofLaura. They are currently for sale in Laura's etsy shop and they are definitely on my coaster wish list!



They are made of elegant Italian stone, and the talented Laura uses pressed flowers from her own garden to finish them off! I just love them!

For more fantastic products why not drop by her etsy shop? She has lots of lovely things for sale!
http://www.etsy.com/shop/AuraofLaura?ref=seller_info

That's it for now. There'll be more next week!

~ Bex ~

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Gracie's Two Year Anniversary

Today marks two years since the madness of Crazypup descended upon us. I was so excited about getting her and she was sooo cute....but such a nightmare! In all honesty she was a lot of hard work mainly because she had spent the first eight weeks of her life in a stable. She wasn't interested in humans at all and I've had to put in a lot of effort and time with her to try and make her part of the family.



I'm happy to say it's paid off. Gracie is one of the sweetest, gentlest, funny and loyal dogs ever and I love her to bits. I call her my shadow because she is always close by to my feet wherever I am and is great company during the day while I work. Never once does she ridicule me for talking out loud as I work on dialogue!!



Those two years have flown by...here's to many more to come.

~ Bex ~

Monday, 9 May 2011

A Week of Blogging


Well, it's officially one week since I started my blog! And what a strange Blog Birthday day it's been...

Firstly I came across a little Jack Russell dog standing in the middle of the road. Its owner was quite a distance away and running frantically to try and reach her. So I pulled over in my car and ran into the road, flagging the cars down to stop until I could get the little doggy to safety. And what a cutie she was! Happy to say dog and owner were reunited and I went on my merry way, feeling relieved that all ended well.

Then I found a hedgehog, lying still on my front lawn in the hot sunshine. Having checked to see it was still breathing, I made a little box with blankets for it and picked it up, checking it for injuries. He didn't seem a happy hedgehog, but I couldn't see anything wrong with it. So I phoned the East Sussex Wildlife Rescue, who I have to say are just brilliant! They sent a wildlife ambulance (yes that is a real thing and it was very impressive!) within half an hour and took my little spiky friend away to their hospital. Apparently he was very underweight and weak, possibly a youngster so I have my fingers crossed that with some care he will be restored to health.

My dog has found all this very confusing, and I'm hoping that's the last of my animal rescuing for the foreseeable future!

On a final note...I had intended for this blog post to be about Louis de Bernieres. He's in Brighton at the moment narrating a play he wrote and I was all geared up to listen to his interview on local radio. At the moment they introduced him, my car radio signal failed. For ten minutes I heard fuzz. When the signal was restored the words, "That was Louis de Bernieres talking about Captain Correlli's Mandolin and his new play that is in Brighton..." greeted me. Argh!

A strange day indeed!

~ Bex ~

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Books or Films?

As you probably guessed, I love books. But I also love films. So often when I read a great novel I find myself thinking, “this would make a brilliant film.” But then I have to stop and rethink that – because really, how often do films actually do justice to their source material? Most of the time if I’ve loved the novel, I find the film miserably disappointing. Whether it be a diluted plot, with all the best bits chopped out, or disastrous miscasting, most of the time I feel that the filmmakers have totally missed the point and fallen massively short of my expectations.

Is it best to read the book first and at least know the complexities of both plot and character to help you navigate through the movie version? Or should you watch the film first, then head to the book? Maybe that way you can enjoy both?

Take the Harry Potter series for instance. Largely speaking, if you haven’t read the books, you’re missing out on masses of plot details because the filmmakers assume you will have read them. My hubby recently started reading the books to our daughter and is discovering quite how much the films omitted. But on the whole, he’s enjoyed the films more than I have, because he hasn’t been hugely irritated by the changes made.

One book that I loved was “Perfume” by German writer Patrick Suskind. It was so original and dark – just my cup of tea. When I heard they were making a film of it I thought they were brave, perhaps a little mad. Because I really couldn’t imagine them successfully conveying the world that Jean-Baptiste Grenouille inhabited. I went to the cinema though, desperately hoping to be proved wrong. In my opinion, I wasn’t. Not that it was a bad film, just that it lost something in translation. Perhaps it was because the reason the novel worked, despite having an unlikeable murderer as its protagonist, was the exquisite and sensory prose crafted with skill by the author.

Perhaps my favourite childhood film was “The Princess Bride.” To this day I know it word for word (yes, I know, probably not something I should be broadcasting!) and love that my daughter now watches it too. A few years ago I was given the novel it was based on. And I haven’t read it yet. Not because I don’t want to – but because I’m scared if I do, it’ll tarnish my opinion of a film that never fails to warm my heart. Sigh. Maybe one day I’ll be willing to take that risk!

Maybe I should just learn to separate the books from films and view them as different products altogether, appreciating them in their own individual right. After all, I’ve managed to do that successfully with the Sookie Stackhouse books and the TV series of True Blood!

~ Bex ~

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Perspective

I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed today by all the mundane, every day tasks I need to get on top of. My list of things to do is ever increasing and not a lot seems to be getting crossed off. To be honest it was getting me down.

Then I heard that my hubby’s aunty died.

And suddenly all that I’d been stressing over seemed irrelevant.

Life is short. It’s fragile. And all too often it’s undervalued. We let the little things distract us from the big picture and so often forget to do the most important thing of all - live.

All my love and hugs to her nearest and dearest xx

Because I love coasters...

If you've got round to reading my blog from Monday you may have noticed that I love coasters. So I thought, for a bit of fun, once a week I would do a post celebrating how wonderful coasters are!

To kick things off this week, let me introduce you to the beautiful coasters from littlebirdydesigns. My fab mum-in-law gave me two of her designs for Christmas (in a dark red and dark purple) and I'm besotted with them. The ones shown below are currently for sale in littlebirdy's folksy shop and if I had a bit more spare cash at the mo I'd have already bought them!

The tiles are made of white marble with the design printed on special decal paper applied over the top. Gorgeous!

For more fantastic products why not drop by her folksy shop? She has more than just coasters!
http://www.folksy.com/shops/littlebirdydesigns

You can also follow her on twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/littlebirdyhere

Or check out her blog - http://littlebirdydesigns.blogspot.com/

Check back next week for more random coaster loving!

~ Bex ~

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Year of the Wedding

2011 truly is the year for weddings. No, I'm not talking about the Royal Wedding that's just passed, nice though it was. For me, it's earned the title because I've been invited to six of them - three are for family members and three are for friends. Obviously this gives me lots of excuses to buy pretty new dresses and go to lots of fun hen do's!

With one wedding down - and a beautiful one it was too -I have two coming up this month: my uncle is getting married and so is my brother-in-law. Both occasions mean I get to see lots of my lovely family so naturally I am very excited.

So with marriage on the mind, I was thinking about what novels there are that centre around the theme. Lots of chick lit springs to mind, but you can't think "novel" and "wedding" and not come up with the answer "Jane Austen". She has to be the queen of happy endings, something which we all secretly aspire to. Here's the thing though...I consider myself a massive Austen fan having watched every film or TV version ever made of every book. And I've watched some of them a lot. No, really. Lots. But though it shames me to admit this, the only novel I've actually read is 'Mansfield Park'.


How can I call myself a true fan when I've not read the original work?? I can't. Nor, I suspect, can I class myself as a true bookworm when I haven't read such fundamental classics. So, I have decided in this, my Year of the Wedding, I will raid my local library and make my way through all her novels and maybe even nose at some of her other works. After all, there can be no other literature more suitable to accompany me as I celebrate the joy of my loved ones.

Now that's a plan.

~ Bex ~

Monday, 2 May 2011

Welcome!

It's been a year now since I made the decision to pursue writing full time, and I have loved every minute of it.
However, in a recent moment of severe writer's block, I decided I needed more legitimate ways to procrastinate and so this blog was born!
After hours of agonising what I should write about in this momentous first entry, I thought perhaps the polite thing to do would be to introduce myself to you. So here is a list of ten random facts that may help you become better aquainted with me...

1. I can read and talk backwards.
2. Coasters are my obsession. It is my mission to cover every spare inch of my surfaces with them.
3. My dog snores and burps. One of the many reasons she earned herself the nickname Crazypup.
4. My writing drink of choice is green tea with mint. Yum.
5. Little toes give me the heebie-jeebies.
6. I'm not always on the same planet as everyone else...
7. I seem to kill plants just by looking at them.
8. Managed to once melt my steering wheel with my freakishly hot hands.
9. I listen to film soundtracks while I write.
10. When no one is watching I have great fun simulateneously spinning and lowering my office chair.

Phew! That was surprisingly hard - should have gone for five...

Anyway, hope this doesn't put you off coming back for more!

That's all for now,

~ Bex ~