#IWSG – What Life Crisis?

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

My headline is not exactly the question prompt for this month’s  Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly blog post, but it’s what I have to keep saying to avoid a meltdown.

October 3 question – How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

The real questions – well, two questions.

I can’t pretend that one critical life event didn’t impact my writing. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in January 2000, my career as an equestrian journalist began to wind in; not immediately, but as I lost the ability to do the job efficiently, retirement loomed. By 2005, I had quit writing reports and by 2010, my involvement with horse shows had ended.

However, writing fiction filled some of the gaps in my life, and my debut novel, Spiral of Hooves was mainly written after I retired. My ongoing health problems do make writing every day hard, but sometimes the writing can distract from having a chronic illness– well two as I also have blood cancer, chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia (CLL).

But MS doesn’t distract from noisy step-great-grand-kids as the disease makes me sensitive to noise (as well as other things like temperature). Maybe I can use the experience for a children’s story.

As I began writing with some seriousness in my teens, there are possibly other life events of relevance. One day, I might remember.

Our current crisis is financial and could lead to a house move/down-sizing. Again, writing is a distraction, although I envisage obstacles like having no computer for some days – but not for so long as the move from Wales to the US.

NaNoWriMo might be a fail though. At least, I can scribble things down, even if MS makes my handwriting illegible – plus, I have plenty of notepads.

My muse will help me through this crisis.

Awww - Roland and Juanita.

Do you juggle major life events and writing? Or do they feed each other?

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The awesome co-hosts for the October 3 posting of the IWSG are Dolorah @ Book Lover,Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken!

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! 

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

 

 

Who Cares?

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Does anyone care if I get to Z? I’m burning myself out this April.

Does anyone care if I miss letters?  I’ve done 12 and have 14 more to do.

Who cares if the games are obscure? O is going to be tough, perhaps N even – and then there’s X and Y.

Does anyone care if I haven’t played all the games? I’ve never played on anything but a PC – Nintendo and PlayStation seem to have evaded me. Yet, many of the biggest franchises have been console games.

Do I care what happens? Well, I hate starting and leaving anything half-finished. I don’t like un-finished reads. But most of my draft novels are unfinished.

So why not my posts?

Maybe, I can just post the titles. Or be kind and give some clues – like in a puzzle game.

Except…I care and that hurts now – along with my fingers, head and more. I wish I could lie down.

Souper Blog Hop

souper blog hop

This Souper Blog Hop stirred all sorts of memories, some ‘souper’ delicious and some seriously sad.

‘Souper’ as in the soups of my childhood – mostly home-made vegetable, sometimes puréed with a hand-operated Moulinex – and then there are some favourites over the decades as I discovered more decadent tastes like Vichyssoise and Lobster Bisque, plus tasty treats like Butternut Squash soup. More on my favourite later in this post (although I am struggling with my health as I write this).

The sad refers to incidents in my childhood and early teens when I discovered the meaner side of human nature. When you’ve been bullied, you side with the victim and sympathize with them as characters in fiction – be that films or books. The problem of bullying is real and needs to be faced.

So, first, the book that made this possible: Pea Soup Disaster by Elaine Kaye. This children’s book is suitable for kids of all ages and adults as there is an excellent message about bullying behind an amusing and easy to follow story, illustrated by Danyelayers. It’s a quick four-star read and one I look forward to reading my great-grand-kids – and I look forward to more adventures of Gregory Green.

Pea Soup Disaster Cover

 BLURB: Gregory Green loves his mom’s pea soup, but when he eats it at school, all of his friends make fun of how it looks. He doesn’t think it looks like bugs, and it tastes good! Then at recess, his friends run from him, screaming, “He’s a monster!” Gregory doesn’t know why his friends are being mean until he sees his skin is green. The teasing gets worse until an unlikely friend comes to the rescue—his teddy bear, Sammy. Sammy usually only comes to life for Gregory and his family, but Sammy has an important lesson to teach Gregory and his classmates.

Available in Print:

AMAZON

Elaine Kaye

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elaine Kaye got the idea for Pea Soup Disaster from her son who loved to eat her homemade pea soup. Pea Soup Disaster is the first of many fun stories featuring Gregory Green and his teddy bear, Sammy, as part of the Gregory Green Adventure series.

Kaye has worked as a library assistant and teacher’s assistant in elementary schools in the Sunshine State. She currently lives in Florida, but she has called Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Okinawa, Japan home. She is a grandmother of three boys.

Find Elaine:

Website / Instagram / Litsy – @ElaineKaye

Goodreads / Amazon

 

Visit the other Souper Blog Hop participants:

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

 


Broccoli soup1

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

And now to my all-time favourite, first-choice on the menu soup. In fact, for many years, Broccoli & Stilton Soup has headed my soupy list. I figure that might be because I enjoyed it so much in the early days of The New Covent Garden Soup Co.

Searching for that perfect recipe was a research challenge. I confess that I have never been much of a cook beyond throwing random ingredients together. Nowadays, MS and cooking don’t go together – that’s my excuse for dropping pans and messing up the kitchen floor.

broccoli-cheese

Anyway, first stop was looking for the New Covent Garden Soup recipe. But the best that I could find was a recipe for Broccoli and Blue Cheese, which is close. But I wanted Stilton, and certainly not the mature cheddar version that seems to have become the American preference.

With a nod to Elaine Kaye’s Pea Soup Disaster, here’s an interesting soup – Broccoli, Pea and Pesto.

broccoli-pea

Undaunted, my quest continued, and I found and read various online recipes, but none quite took my fancy. Then I found a fellow traveller drawn by memories of New Covent Garden Soup Co.’s Broccoli & Stilton soup – Felicity Cloake in The Guardian.

Who? Well, Felicity Cloake is “a writer specialising in food and drink and winner of the 2011 Guild of Food Writers awards for Food Journalist of the Year and New Media of the Year. Her first recipe book, Perfect, is published by Fig Tree. She likes to think she’d try any food once – although an eyeball recently caused her to question this gung-ho gastronomic philosophy.”

Her more extensive exploration of Broccoli and Stilton soup entailed trying out various recipes, including some that I had found but not sampled. You can read her culinary journey here – https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/jan/04/how-make-perfect-broccoli-stilton-soup-cheese-shallots-stock-cream

B&Ssoup

The perfect broccoli and stilton soup. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

But for those that want the recipe now, the one that works for me – when my wife  adds her touches – here is Felicity Cloake’s recipe:

Perfect broccoli and stilton soup

(Serves 4)

2 tbsp butter
2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
800ml chicken or vegetable stock
600ml milk
800g broccoli
200g stilton, crumbled
Nutmeg, to garnish

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and add the shallots. Fry gently until soft and golden.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli stalks into smallish chunks, then add to the pan with the softened shallots, fry for a minute, then pour in the stock and milk. Bring to a simmer, then cook until the stalk is beginning to soften (how long will depend on the size). Meanwhile, cut the head into small individual florets.

Once the stalk is almost tender, add the florets to the pan along with most of the Stilton, keeping a little back for garnish. Stir well, bring to a simmer, cover then cook for about 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the florets are soft.

Allow to cool slightly, then puree until smooth. Taste and season if necessary, then divide between bowls and top with the remaining cheese and a good grating of nutmeg.

#IWSG – Surprising Myself

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

I’m tackling my monthly post for Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day in two parts, not because I have two answers but because I have two different thoughts churning through my scrambled head. On then to this month’s optional question and Part I:

September 6th Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?

(For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

If I look at my teens and early tweens, SF was the genre I escaped into in my creative life while all things ‘country/rural’ were my journalistic fare. An equestrian mystery when I retired seemed a natural progression, although a few decades late. So, no surprise there then, nor when a small press published it after my writing group was positive about the drafts of Spiral of Hooves.

However, I was surprised when the horse world ignored the novel despite my career as an equestrian journalist and event organiser. Better luck the second time around?

On the genre side, I surprised myself by attempting children’s stories – that came to nothing, so far. Plus, I just found some old poems and those surprised me. I’m still reverting to mysteries for now.

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Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting:  The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

The awesome co-hosts for the August 2 posting of the IWSG are Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure.

 

joker_quote_written_in_blood_by_meho41-d5zeey2

Joker quote written in blood by meho41 on DeviantArt meho41.deviantart.com

 

Part II – Written in Blood

Having multiple sclerosis creates challenges every day and I have been pushed to create new daily regimes, adapting to my initial surprise when diagnosed in 2000. I was learning to live with my MS symptoms, and although they can be excruciating plus debilitating, I knew other suffer worse illnesses. MS is not a death sentence. Life expectancy is normal or close to normal for most people with MS, although it is a chronic illness.

Then, on 23rd August, my doctor told me that I had some sort of blood cancer. I’m remaining positive – except when my computer glitches – as the series of blood tests since the Spring indicate its slow-growing and the oncologist will tell me more on September 18th.

However, I decided it was time for a bucket list – as long as nobody suggests skydiving; the wheelchair can do that solo. Among the list of things I must do, like going to Canada, exploring all of Idaho, arranging a Steve Hackett concert in Boise, and maxing three MMORPG avatars, is the crucial Writing Legacy.

In short, I need to get my 9+ WIPs in order, of course aiming to publish them all = another 13 years, if not 117 by the rate releasing Spiral of Hooves.

#IWSG – Confessions about quitting

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Time for the monthly post as it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day – well tomorrow is. I’m writing this a day early as I have the energy and my eyes aren’t as bad they have been – more of that below.

The starting point is what is this month’s optional question?

June 7 Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

That’s a tough one. The simple answer is that when I had a non-writing job then it was simply workload that made me quit and the urge to write down an idea that brought me back. So, in some cases that was months later and in too many cases it was years before I listened to my muse.

Then came multiple sclerosis and by then I was an equestrian journalist. Eventually, the disease forced me to quit. But there was a novel that needed writing and even though I retired as a journalist, I struggled on with the novel. Thirteen years after I was diagnosed with MS, “Spiral of Hooves” was published in December 2013. Sadly, the book is out of print but plans are afoot to re-publish and there is even a cover design by the brilliant Jonathan Temples, as the old one was designed for the original publishers.

What do you think? Does it make you want to read the novel? (Apologies that it’s a PDF link at the moment)

Rolandbook1_5x8BW290V4

The re-release of “Spiral of Hooves” was to be the re-launch of my writing career, but the damn disease disagreed. Followers on Facebook might know that I get tired and my eyes are troubling me so I’m cutting back on what I do. I’ve struggled to expand my A to Z posts into “A Brief History of Kanata” and that is ready for some beta volunteers. Anyone want an alternative history lesson?

Apologies if I hardly visit or comment anymore because that has become one solution. But am I about to quit for good or will the muse that has inspired other draft novels to help me stumble on? I must remember how to touch type as my voice is too glitched to use voice recognition software. Or is there another way not to quit?

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

The awesome co-hosts for the June 7 posting of the IWSG are JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

Reflections of 2017 #AtoZChallenge

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The 2017 Blogging from A to Z Challenge didn’t go as planned for me so apologies to my followers and to my fellow bloggers. In previous years, I have written and scheduled all or at least most of my posts by the end of March. That allows me time to write the few missing ones during the early part of April as well as time to visit the A to Z bloggers that I follow and any new ones that catch my attention.

This time things went awry. I chose my theme okay – The History of Kanata – and even got some of the posts done. But I was already a bit behind come April 1st so there was no way that I was taking Sunday, April 2nd off. Then overnight my health took a nose-dive and on Monday April 3rd I collapsed shortly after posting on Facebook, “After a terrible night when Juanita Clarke was luckily tere for me, psting is very hard as mystyping everything. So apologies for siaslence.”

My belated post, “Insecure and Invalid”, explains how I was rushed to hospital and my nights there. Suffice to say that the rest of April was a struggle just to stay on top of my own posts while still feeling poorly. At least, the 500+ emails that I came back to have been reduced to nearer 350 but they keep sneaking back into my Inbox somehow.

I also managed to reply to those people that took the trouble to comment on the posts – you know who you are so my grateful thanks.

When I did the post-event survey I said that I hadn’t visited or commented on any other posts and that answer was inaccurate – I visited two or three that dropped by my site. However, I have a lot of A to Z sites to visit as I get on top of things – if that is possible.

As far as the absence of the Linky links page was concerned I didn’t have a chance to miss it. But I did manage to post most of my daily posts on the Facebook page. That worked brilliantly, just like the Insecure Writers Facebook page does, and on a random visit, I found a fellow MS warrior which made April worthwhile.

I don’t feel my experience was a fair reflection on the team, but I would still like to give the hard-working bunch a shout out, especially founder Arlee Bird.

Time now to point you to the It’s Time to Reflect! page where you can find other A to Z Reflections.

And visit:         Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/atozchallenge/

Twitter handle: @AprilAtoZ

Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge