Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Spotlight – Life Changing Moments – Shake The Dust Off Your Feet by Sherri Matthews

Today, I am delighted and honoured to guest post at Sally Cronin’s Author Spotlight Life Changing Moments Series with ‘Shake The Dust Off Your Feet’. You never know when you’ll face a life-changing decision, nor who’ll be there to support you when you do. Huge thanks and shout out to Sally for her amazing support of bloggers and authors everywhere, and as always to you, dear friends and readers, thank you ❤

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to Cafe and Bookstore spotlight. I invited writers to share what they consider to be a defining moment in their lives that resulted in a major positive change. The current series ends on October 11th and is booked out with some wonderfully inspiring stories.

Today my guest is Sherri Matthewswho shares the moment she made the decision to give up full time work and start her life as a writer after uprooting from her life in California to Dorset with her family.

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri is a writer and photographer who blogs at A View From My Summerhouse. She contributes an Unsung Heroes column at online literary community Carrot Ranch, and is published in a diverse collection of print magazines and anthologies. In another life, Sherri lived in California for twenty years, but today she lives in England’s West Country with her family, two black kitties…

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Welcome To My World

September already and here we are. Greetings once again, dear friends, I hope you enjoyed a good summer, pandemic aside. My plans went awry then revived and I am writing, mending and walking again. Progress! Great to return to Unsung Heroes at Carrot Ranch. My post explores a personal take on lockdown, Asperger’s Syndrome and social anxiety in a different world. As always, keep safe ❤

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

‘Welcome to my World’, so said my youngest, V, when lockdown struck.

Almost six months on, I have a deeper glimpse into V’s world. But this is not a temporary world as for most of us.

For V this shall not pass. Not so much.

V was diagnosed ten years ago at eighteen with Asperger’s Syndrome (a high functioning autistic spectrum disorder – ASD). V struggles with aspects of social communication, such as reading certain social cues. Chronic anxiety, depression and the need to retreat means V is socially avoidant outside the home. Online is where V’s world exists, with friends of many years.

How can you have real friends you’ve never actually met? Such was my worry, before I started blogging. Now I know…we can and we do.  Heck, I met my husband online…but that’s another story.

Lockdown world over means confinement to our home and garden (if fortunate…

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Of Writing, Walking And A Broken Ankle

Walking, as we know, is good for us. A brisk walk a few days a week has always been my go-to form of exercise. Walking helps me. A lot. Especially the kind when I’m stirred up, stressed out and just plain stuck.

For those kind, I plug in my headphones and crank up my iPod. Although I write in silence, I process more to Kurt Cobain and The Foo Fighters than anywhere else.

But not now, because twelve days ago I broke my ankle.

Four more weeks before I can walk or drive. I wear this fracture boot day and night and hobble about on crutches. And yes, it happened when I was out walking with my husband in the middle of a field.

I’m thinking, Robocop…with Velcro?

I stopped wearing my Fitbit. What use is a ‘Weekly Report’ that only reminds you of your paltry lack of steps? Well I’ll have you know, Fitbit, you should see me when I navigate the stairs. Surely that counts for something?

What better workout could there be with a broken ankle, than Kitty zooming past me mid-stair in her newly made-up game of Dodge the Crutches?

It’s okay. I see her coming. She sleeps by me every night, long and warm and cuddly and just yesterday, I awoke with her two front paws stretched out on my leg. As if to say get better soon.

Kitty & Cherry Tree July 2020 (c) Sherri Matthews

So I forgive her anything.

But what of other news from the summerhouse?

Lockdown in late March brought a surprise heatwave and an emergence of frenetic bee activity from our bee hotel. We had the delightful privilege of observing these entertaining busy bees until they retired, worn out poor things, in June.

We’ve had Leafcutters in the past, but this year we had mostly Red Mason bees. They are solitary and vitally important as urban pollinators. Much of their habitat has been destroyed; a bee hotel provides nesting and shelter.

The Woodland Trust has some good tips for making one for your garden.

Here’s what I’ve learned: the males emerge first and wait for the females. They mate, the males die and the females get busy building nests and laying their eggs over the next couple of months.

We frequently observed several bees at a time darting in and out of various tubes, busy forming mud seals at the entrance. Sometimes they would work in this position for hours (c) Sherri Matthews

Within each tube, they create different cells separated by little walls of mud.  In each cell, they lay an egg and deposit tiny globes of pollen, brought in attached to their abdomens. This is food for the developing larvae.

For further reading, The Pollinator Garden makes the point that this isn’t so much a ‘bee hotel’ as a permanent home for these bees. I love this stuff!

(c) Sherri Matthews

They seal up each tube with mud. There, over eleven months, the eggs develop into larvae, a dormant pupa stage and then to fully formed bees the following spring.

Isn’t nature wonderful?

These solitary bees have done their work and have gone now. Thank you, bees, for all you do and the joy you bring. I can’t wait to meet the next generation next spring.

The joy of bees aside, these are strange times.

On the memoir front, an opportunity has come my way for ongoing book development as I continue to hone my pitch for my next round of literary agent submissions. It’s work and I’m ready. I’m not giving up!

Meanwhile, I’m thrilled that my non-fiction piece Behind The Mask is featured in This is Lockdown, a beautifully crafted anthology published by by M J Mallon, Author and Poet . It is an honour to feature alonside so many wonderful writers.

Thank you so much, Marje, for all your hard work putting it together. The official book launch is July 20th, but pre-order is available now.

Other writing news, I’m over at Carrot Ranch this week with my Unsung Heroes post,  The Silent Ones Who Change A Life. I would be thrilled if you joined me there.

It saddens me to sign off blogging for a while. With the easing of lockdown, uncertain times lies ahead. Covid-19 has not gone away, vigilance is key.  I am a carer and I need to get well. I miss my boys, I miss the sea, and everyday challenges mount up.

I need to focus and it isn’t easy right now!

My plan, God willin’ and the creek don’t rise (again), is to return energised, walking and raring to go in September.

Until then, I thank you all, dear friends, for your support and readership. I bid you all a happy, healthy summer. And as always, keep safe.

Love Sherri x

 

 

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Stand And Deliver

This week, I have had the honour of writing my first guest post for an ‘Unsung Heroes’ column at Carrot Ranch. Many thanks to all who have left lovely comments there, and to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, for this wonderful opportunity. My post this month features a cheery delivery driver, a customer services manager called Rob, and Adam Ant. There is a point in there somewhere… Keep safe! ❤

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

The title for this post should be ‘Drive and Deliver’. ‘Stand and Deliver’ sounds better, I think.  It also reminds me of the song by Adam Ant, conjuring up a wonderful image of him in his heyday dressed up like a highwayman, all eye-liner, lip gloss and black mask. A good look, I thought. I can’t say I wear much make-up these days. But I do wear a black mask, though not for committing any crime. Then again, if someone coughs near me again at the supermarket, I could be tempted…

The theme of highway robbery ties in nicely with our present crisis and the ‘Unsung Heroes’ story I’m priviliged to share with you today at Carrot Ranch. Thanks for letting me loose, Charli!

The story ends well, thanks not to Adam Ant, but to a man called, Rob.

It began just before lockdown, which in the UK started March…

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Dispatches From Lockdown In An English Spring

We humans are resourceful. We adjust. We have to.

My mother lives in her snug, safe home across the garden from us, but I can’t get close or hug her, because she is self-isolating, sheilded from the outside and coronovirus.

When the weather is nice, as it was last week, we sat in the garden, many feet apart, with a cup of tea.

I got us each some daffodils, a small treat from my supermarket mission. They bring us both joy as we wave to each other from our kitchen windows.

We talk every day in person, by text or What’s App. Yes, my eighty-something Mum uses What’s App and forwards funnies from her emails. Times have changed.

My husband works from home now with his office set-up in the dining room. I have worked from home, writing, for eight years now, but this is a big change for us both.

I am relieved he is here, safe.

Working from home isn’t as easy as it sounds. I used to dream of it when I worked in paid employment, but at home, it’s hard not to procrastinate, endlessly, and avoid the many distractions of family life.

A friend of mine had a small business from home, and gave me some great advice: get up, get dressed and face the day as you would if going out to work. In other words, don’t get up and start typing in your pyjamas or you’re lost. I know this to be true.

The other problem is isolation. The key is finding a good work/play balance, but now we’re all in isolation, there is no balance. Now it’s all about keeping safe.

I had my memoir submissions to agents lined up and then coronovirus hit.  Suddenly, a strong need to check in regularly with my kids, family and friends took over, with not much time for much else. Video calls saved the day.

Ploughing through crowded streets, offices and public transport took on new danger. We started self-distancing before the lockdown.

Then came the stockpiling and suddenly going to a supermarket felt like the start of a zombie apocolypse.

A shock to the system, all of it, none of us prepared for such a scale as this. How did we go from normal life to the sight of shelves stripped bare with no bread, milk and toilet paper, never mind trying to get in a good day’s writing?

Submit? Write? Seized by lockdown brain fog, how can anyone do anything?

It helps now the stockpiling has eased with stringent measures in place. Maybe we can breathe a tiny bit easier, though great danger still exists and far from over.

But my need to write has usurped my brain fog, so excuse my ramblings if you will. I can’t let my publishing dreams slip away. I need to break through the fear and the helplessness and the missing of my loved ones and the terrible toll on too many who have lost loved ones and just be here…now…sharing something…

We are allowed outside exercise once a day in our neighbourhoods. This does not mean packing a picnic and driving twenty miles to a beauty spot, no matter how beautiful the weather.

I am blessed to live in a village which enables this, as these photos attest, but a walk along this road is not without hazard…

There’s a small farm with some fat lambs…

A few cows…

And a pony…

And a library from a kindly neighbour: ‘All Books Free’, invites the sign…

Cars travel these same roads. Other walkers too, with the same idea. Car and people-d0dging takes some planning. Some drivers force me into the hedgerows with not so much as an acknowledgment as they zoom past.

Others slow down and give me space and a friendly wave. Most of us greet one another on our daily walks, but I am paranoid about them getting too close, as some do.

People-dodging at the supermarket is a sport without a winner’s cup. My heart sank at the sight of some still huddling together in the aisles. It took me two hours just to get round the store safely, the ever-present worry of virus spread on my mind.  I don’t mean to sound paranoid, but it is exhausting.

Too many of us can’t get an online, delivery or click-and-collect service for love nor money.

Life has changed in ways we could not have imagined in mere weeks. By the hour and the day.

A young checkout man told me about a customer who, so enraged that he could buy ONLY three packs of fresh meat, threw a packet of chicken at him across the checkout.

In stark contrast, a few days ago, a note came threw our letter box. A neighbourhood volunteer group is set up in case anyone in the village needs help with shopping, posting letters or just chatting on the phone for those living alone.

Last night at 8pm, as last Thursday, we came together in the UK to clap from our front doors in gratitude for all our NHS, care and key workers, including supermarket staff and delivery drivers.

Thank you all with hearts of gratitude.

I thought it would be nice to share some photos from my early spring garden to end on a colourful and cheery note…

And Lord knows, it helps to keep a sense of humour. Thank goodness for memes!

We just need to get through this.

After all…

Stay home. Save a life. Keep well.

Love Sherri x

 

 

 

 

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A Plea From The Ranks Of Carers At Home

I write this as a plea. Our Prime Minister tells us to stop panic buying, there’s enough for all, stock up in case you need to self-isolate for 14 days, but leave some for others. Please.

Mr Johnson, I would like to tell you that if the vulture-picked supermarket shelves in my community are anything to go by, few are listening.

Every day. Getting worse.

Everyone over 70 now needs to self-isolate for 12 weeks. Teams of volunteers are setting up to help those who are most vulnerable with their shopping, I hear.  That’s great.

But I wonder what I am to do. I am a carer for my youngest, adult child who is on the autistic spectrum with social anxiety. Social isolation is not a new thing for our family. We live with it and find ways to deal with it. Now we have to find new ways, because my mother, who is vulnerable and also lives with us, is self-isolating.

This means I will also do her food shopping and thank goodness I can, but how can I when there’s nothing left on the shelves? Aware that supermarket staff are on the frontline and no doubt bombarded with complaints, I tried, nevertheless, to ask for advice.

Here’s my conversation from yesterday afternoon at a local supermarket:

Me, at checkout: ‘Sorry to ask, I don’t want to hold you up (the man in line behind me already sighing…) but do you have any advice for me, as a carer, of the best time to shop, as your shelves are bare?

Checkout Guy: ‘Oh…are they? Well, we don’t have any sanitizer or hand soap…’

‘Yes…I know that…but I’m talking about fresh meat, tinned food, toilet paper, pasta, bread…’

‘Well the shelves are stocked overnight…I can’t tell you what gets put out as I don’t do the shelves…it’s just what’s there…’

‘Yes…I understand that, but I’m trying to find out when I should do my shopping, as clearly there’s a time when everything gets cleaned out.’

‘Well, they come in early and buy everything…’

‘How early…like first thing, they queue up before you open?’

‘Yes…’

‘Can’t you put a limit on things when that happens?’

‘You’ll have to talk to my team leader,’ he sighed, clearly fed up with me. ‘She’s over there…’ He pointed to a checkout lady busy with her customer.

The man behind me glared  as I walked over to said team leader.

I explained my dilemma.

‘Nothing we can do…’ she said. ‘Head office haven’t told us to limit anything…’

‘So what do I do? Online shopping is a mess…’

‘Well that’s probably going to end anyway…sorry, it’s pot luck. Sorry…’

This isn’t what their circular email said, reassuring their customers they were doing all they could to make sure everyone had enough. The panic buyers put paid to that. Not only that, they are risking exposure by herding together as they wait for the doors to open.

And what of those who still have to work? My eldest son called in to his local supermarket for his usual shop on the way home from work yesterday. Shelves stripped bare.

He went home with a bottle of rum.

My middle son can’t get much at all with the hours he works. As part of a houseshare, he doesn’t have room for hoarding even if he wanted to (he doesn’t).

He’s getting by with cider and tinned peaches. I told him, keep the peaches in the fridge; they’re nice chilled.

Seriously…I’m worried for them. For us.

Shut Away, Calm Waters

Still, today brings a glimmer of hope as supermarkets announce item limits. About time,   because appealing to common sense and consideration towards others hasn’t worked.

Kindness does exist, though. If we don’t keep it close, we’ll sink.

My husband and I recently stayed at a hotel (necessity, not holiday). The hotel was pretty empty, but the staff there remained helpful and friendly, despite their obvious fears for their very livelihoods.

Back home, my husband emailed the manager to thank him for his help and concern (we needed an extra night).  The manager replied that on a morning rapidly sinking into chaos, my husband’s email gave him hope.

Just a little kindness. That’s all.

But I am still unsure as supermarkets have set up dedicated early morning slots before 9 am for ‘the elderly’ to shop.  How can they shop when they are self-isolating at home?

What do I do, as my family’s carer? Will I be allowed to use that slot? Will they believe me when I turn up, or think I’m trying it on? Do I need proof? Or will anybody really be enforcing this? I’ve researched online, tried calling, but can’t get through. Has this not been addressed?

Think of me tomorrow morning when I hit the shops at 8am.

And here’s the other thing: I need to keep myself healthy. Husband too. This I fear the most: who will look after us if we both get ill? Who will do our shopping? Online shopping isn’t a good option right now: the nearest slot is at least 2 weeks away and I have no assurance that my order would be delivered.

My head spins even as think of it, trying to make some sense through the writing of it. A dilemma to which I would love a solution without feeling that everytime I leave my house, I’m doing battle.

We’re in this together, world over.

We’ve got enough supplies to tide us over.

But we all know that nothing lasts forever.

Let’s hope this means coronovirus too.

 

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Still Sweet Robin Sings

The world has gone mad, my family’s needs call…

but still Sweet Robin sings.

And the blackbird too. 

Take care all, keep safe and be well…

This too shall pass.

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Book Tour With Author M J Mallon And Mr Sagittarius

Today, I am thrilled to host talented author and lovely friend, M J Mallon. I have had the good fortune of meeting Marje several times, and she is as kind and as friendly as her smile attests.

Marje is on book tour for the launch of her latest release:

Mr Sagittarius

A magical story expressed via poetry and prose with photographic images 

 

Intrigued from the moment I first saw the title and cover and read the blurb, I was hooked.  Having pre-ordered it and read through it, I can tell you it is a beautifully created work and most delightful story.

So here it is…Mr Sagittarius!

Blurb

Who Is Mr. Sagittarius?

And what is his connection to twin brothers, Harold and William?

When Harold dies, he leaves a simple memorial request

Will his sister Annette honour it?

Or, will the magic of the garden ensure that she does.

Mr. Sagittarius is a collection of poetry, prose and photographic images inspired by the botanical gardens in Cambridge. It features a variety of my photos including: trees, a robin and a dragonfly! As well as this there are several stories, and even some Halloween poems!

I doubt I would have created Mr. Sagittarius if it wasn’t for these two amazing ladies: Colleen Chesebro (for her weekly poetry challenges and Charli Mills – Carrot Ranch (flash fiction challenges.) Both ladies have been a huge source of inspiration and encouragement.

Mr. Sagittarius is a magical celebration of the natural world, a story about the circle of life, with an emphasis on the changing seasons of the year and sibling relationships.

Huge thanks to my amazing cover designer and formatter: Rachael Ritchey who has done an amazing job creating the ebook, paperback cover and graphics.

*******

Mr Sagittarius is available for Kindle
with the paperback due for
release shortly:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

*******

Contents include:

THE GOLDEN WEEPING WILLOW (story and poem plus photo of a dragonfly)

GOLDEN WILLOW TREE (poem and photo)

ROBIN: ETHEREE (poem and photo)

LIFE LESSONS FROM BUDDHA (poem)

LIFE LESSONS FROM CATS – poem – (photo image via Samantha Murdoch)

  1. FROWNING TREE (poem and photo)

RAINBOW CHILD – story – (image of Tourmaline crystal via Samantha Murdoch)

FRIENDS FOR TEA (poem)

THE CANDY CORN MONSTER (Halloween poem)

CANDYFLOSS CRITTER (Halloween poem)

MR GHOST WITH EASE (Halloween poem)

DREAMING AT HALLOWEEN (Halloween poem)

ODE TO LOVE –ETERNAL (Ghost/love poem)

LOVE TAKEN BY DEATH: DIAMANTE (poem)

GHOST: SEPTOLET (Ghost poem)

A FACE ON BARK: ETHEREE (poem)

LOLLIPOP SUNSHINE TREE (poem and photo)

FOR MR. SNOWMAN (poem)

SERENA’S CHRISTMAS BUBBLE MONSTER (humorous story and photo)

BUBBLY SNOWMAN KISSES (poem)

THAT TWINKLE IN HER EYES IS MAGIC (poem)

THE OLD MAN OF SNOW AND THE SNOW SNAKE (story)

MY HEART IS A CAVE (poem)

  1. SAGITTARIUS (story)
  2. SAGITTARIUS DIED THIS DAY IN THIS SNOW DROP GARDEN (poem/prose/photo of snow drops.)

Love (story)

I asked Marje if she would kindly share an excerpt for us, and she chose this
lovely snippet from the short story, Rainbow Child:

Aurora’s eyes gleamed with excitement. She didn’t hesitate; she pressed the nib of the pen to the paper, but no words came, not one. She frowned and tried again. But the pen drew no words forth. She knelt to the ground, dipped the nib of the pen in a puddle of a rainbow and pressed the anointed nib to the paper. At last the words flowed in a myriad of colours filling the white page with a colourful rainbow of verse.

Dear rainbow, so fine,

Your colours reversed,

Red on your inner side arc,

Double beauty, discovered.

Never leave me, dearest heart.

Parasol of light,

Rainbow of colours divine,

Warming my soul,

Sweet route to inspiration,

Hide me from pain and suffering.

Red, and yellow, blue,

Indigo and violet,

Many coloured dreams,

Such a beauty, shining joy,

Create with me, my rainbow friends.

She placed the pen down and felt an extraordinary lightness of spirit. She danced and danced, her skirt swirling around, unravelling and widening in an arc of spectacular colours as she moved. Soon, she had a curious crowd of onlookers. The shy hedgehog came out of his hiding place, followed by the birds, cats, butterflies, and even the reticent worms poked their heads out of the ground to join in with her happiness.

Such is the power of a double rainbow; it warms our hearts after the sky pours down its sadness in raindrops.

******* 

Marje’s book tour continues with more great exerpts, conversations and Q and A throughout the week.

Congratulations, Marje, it has been wonderful to host you today at The Summerhouse;
I wish you, and Mr Sagittarius, every success!

*******

Author Bio for M J Mallon

I write YA Fantasy/Paranormal novels, Horror/Ghost short stories and multi-genre flash fiction as well as micro poetry – haiku and Tanka. I share book reviews, poetry, flash fiction, photography and inspirational details of my writing journey at my lovely blog home: https://mjmallon.com/

I’m a member of two professional writing groups: The Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators  and Cambridge Writers

As well as this I run a supportive group with fellow Administrator D G Kaye on Facebook: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club

I work as a Receptionist/Event organiser for an international sixth form and live in Cambridge, England.

*******

Other Books by M J Mallon:

YA Fantasy:

The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone

Coming in 2020

YA Fantasy:

The Curse of Time Book 2 Golden Healer.

*******

Short Stories in Anthologies:

Nightmareland

Bestselling horror compilation – edited by Dan Alatorre –

“Scrabble Boy” (Short Story)

*******

Ghostly Rites Anthology 2019

“Dexter’s Creepy Caverns” (Short Story)

*******

Ghostly Writes Anthology 2018

“Ghostly Goodbye” (Short Story)

*******

Read more about M J Mallon and her other books
at her author page on Amazon.

 

 

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Happy New Valentines Day With Memoir Pitching Tips

Not quite the jaunty start to 2020 I hoped for, but at least I can wish you a Happy New Year and Valentines Day at the same time.

One reason for my absence is my self-imposed, many-weeks long assignment to study, learn and act upon the querying process for memoir submissions. I’ve included a few links for anyone in the same boat. Or out at sea, as I have been, storm or otherwise.

Before the bad weather hit last weekend, I took a walk by the sea. A literal calm before the storm in the late afternoon.

It helps process thoughts in a writerly brain such as how to write a good elevator pitch.  Razzle Dazzle: The Art and Craft of the Elevator Pitch by Ruth Harris gives some great pointers.

Hard to imagine how hard it can be to find a few good words with this view…

Nice to see life carrying on at this ‘Number 10’ by the sea. No mention of politics or the ‘B’ word here…

This surfer had the right idea…

Not so sure about these…then again, as the wind picked up…

Writing a synopsis, an approximately 500 word, chronological summary of your entire book revealing the key plot with major twists, is no easy task either. Writing the Dreaded Novel Synopsis? These Two Simple Hacks Will Help by Anne R Allen gives great advice.

The snyopsis reveals the ending, unlike the blurb which keeps us guessing.  Looking at this full moon in a clear, winter sky kept me guessing about the storm heading our way.

This starfish seemed wisftul gazing out at the horizon, wondering if the rumours were true…

I wondered, too, about the query (cover) letter. Do I have to submit my completed memoir under non-fiction guidelines, or can it go like a novel, since it’s a story, albeit true, not subject-led?

Jane Friedman’s excellent article,  The Complete Guide to Query Letters pinged into my inbox just in time…

‘This post focuses on query letters for novels, although the same advice applies to memoirists, because both novelists and memoirists are selling a story. Nonfiction book queries are addressed here.’

The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2020 is a fantastic resource, packed full of agent and publisher submission advice.

I hope this is helpful, and if anyone has any memoir submission tips, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Storm Dennis is on its way this weekend (storms didn’t used to have names, did they?), but no seaside shots this time; I’m holding out for some snow…

Happy New Valentines Day!

Love Sherri x

 

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What I Wanted To Tell You At Christmas

What I wanted to tell you at Christmas is how spectacular the illuminations at Stourhead this year.  I wanted to show you the carpet of lights twinkling down to the lake and the Pantheon lit up like a beacon in the distance with two little boats in the water…

I wanted to tell you about The Twelve Days of Christmas lighting the path in the dark and the cold and the rain.

A partridge in a pear tree…

Two calling doves…

and Three French hens.

All the rest followed with an arch as bright as day
and musical globes by the bridge red as embers …

And at the end, the church lit up and the moon above,
white and stark in the jet-black night.

I wanted to tell you for Christmas about my book.  It is finished and out for agent submission and now I wait.

And isn’t it funny? Life, I mean. Just when you think you’re on a hiding to nothing and you wonder where it’s all going to lead, something wonderful happens, something you didn’t see coming a million miles away.

Charli Mills held her Rodeo Contest at Carrot Ranch with a team of judges from her home community in Minnesota. You know, right there by Lake Superior in the snow. Lost in submissions and a crash of confidence, I didn’t think I could or would enter. But at the last minute, something wild came over me. So I did. Just one, the last: TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) with the prompt, ‘Beans’.

I wanted to tell you at Christmas that my entry placed second and oh what a thrill to see my story with the other winning entries. The validation at any time but especially this time (for me) is a huge boost. Knock-backs take their toll.

Charli writes about the push and pull of entering contests and the fears, doubts and insecurities writers face. It’s an excellent read.

Thank you, Charli, from the bottom of my heart, for your faith in me.

Then I wanted to tell you at Christmas about the three bears bearing gifts
with plenty of ‘Grrrrr’ for the season…

And another kind of bear, that is Paddington Bear(s) in greetings from Bath

I wait while enjoying the sights…

…including some parachuting Santas.

What I also wanted to tell you at Christmas is that my blogging friend, Michael S. Fedison, author of The Eye-Dancers and its sequel, The Singularity Wheel, is now offering Freelance Editing and Proofreading Services.  I’ve known Mike and his wonderful writing for years and highly recommend him.

And also to tell you that Esther Chilton (she helped me greatly with advice and edits of my memoir manuscript) has a new book on writing tips coming out soon. Not to be missed with her writing expertise as an experienced tutor and editor.

There is an excellent writing blog I have followed for a long time: Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris. Great excitement in discovering that I once lived in the same place as Anne on the Central Coast of California. I’m her neighbour from afar! Anne has great advice in her recent post, Commenting on Blogs: The Easy way for New Writers to Build Platform.

More news I wanted to tell you at Christmas is the release of Sally Cronin’s new book, Life’s Rich Tapestry -Woven in Words, a collection of verse, micro-fiction and short stories. Author D G Kaye (Debby Gies) shares her 5-Star Review in a beautiful write-up.

For all your generous sharing and support, simply to you both:
Thank you from my heart.

And to all of you who read my blog and support my writing and for your friendship
and encouragement, I can’t thank you enough.

There is so much I wanted to tell you at Christmas.
In the crazy of this world and the darkness of these days, it is hard finding answers.

Sherborne Abbey, Dorset, England

The light of hope in the lonely hours came for me through the words of a
book for our time.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,
by Charlie Mackesy

My husband gave this to me as an early Christmas present. To encourage me, he said.

When the night is darkest before dawn.

Introduced by the author as a book for anyone from eight to eighty, its message is as exquisite as it is profound. It will floor you then fix you.

‘The boy is full of questions, the mole is greedy for cake. The fox is mainly silent and wary because he’s been hurt by life…’

Simplicity in its purest form of words and illustrations, this book will, I know, crush the hardest heart. This book is a gift of hope.

‘”What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy.

“Help,” said the horse….’

Kindness, love and discovering that home isn’t always a place. And never giving up.

And that is what I wanted to tell you at Christmas.

*******

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
See you back here in 2020!

Love Sherri x

 

 

 

 

 

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