Draft one of The Seagull is done!!! But I’m starting to wonder if running races are too……darn hamstring!

Goal two of my sabbatical year is officially complete. I have finished draft one of the soon-to-be-renamed Seagull and pressed the magic ‘completed’ button on wattpad. Now watch millions of people not flock to read it!!!

But it’s good to get it done. That was the point of putting the story on wattpad, really, and having a schedule to work towards did help me keep going. The link is

here

Louis, my main character, has almost passed the Morigan’s (goddess of war and death) test….all he has to do at the start of book 2 is get his mother to wake from the dead (she’s currently entombed as a stone statue), and then they’re well on their way to defeating the lord of darkness, Balor. Once they unite all of the other arguing Gods and break Balor’s spell on the humans, the earth will be saved. Sounds like they’re about as close to success as I am.

So, now what?

No proper running, that’s for sure. My legs have utterly put their foot down (pun totally intended) and had a tantrum that rivals one of my son’s!

I have a new free NHS physio and she says ‘NO’ …… back off the ten mile runs I had (prematurely, apparently) built back up to over the last month and be content with 3-4 until it’s properly better! Properly! As in no stiffness/soreness after. Its fine during, but after…..not so fine. I was telling myself it was just DOMS but she did a strength/pain test, and NO. Its not fine!!! It hurts on totally the opposite side and there’s scar tissue and evidence of strain there. So I have to back off again 😭

As an ex-scientist I know she’s right. I haven’t felt it pull again, but it’s stiff and sore. I’ve read about tissue recovery (a bit!) and I get it. Injuries take 6 weeks minimum to heal.

But the last pull I felt was Feb 25th, and it had felt MUCH BETTER!! As in 8 and 9 mile runs with no after issues!

WHY THEN?

I do partially blame stretching! When you know something’s not right, don’t listen to other people!!! No names named!

So, how do I make my brain listen this time? It looks like I am going to have to totally suck it up with this one! I am not doing a proper run any time in the next six weeks! Let alone racing. Then I have to build everything up super-carefully. Back off and accept it, brain.

How totally depressing.

It could be time to admit defeat, give up any thoughts I had of qualifying for London and then Boston marathon, and DEFINITELY being happy with my 1 hr 43 half marathon and 47 min 10k. I’m nearly 43 for goodness sake. I started running at 36. Why can’t I be happy with that?

Because my brain doesn’t work that way!!!

Looks like its back to the strength and core training basics again, with more work on my balance to help my poor hamstrings out! I have to do one legged squats once my balance is good enough to stand for 30 seconds without wobbling.

I CAN , I thought. I do chest/shoulder high kicks in Tae Kwon Do (when my legs are ok) and balance fine! But apparently not properly! I compensate for some screwy knee inward motion and my hamstrings have to do more than they should! That and glute strength are the problem as well as the hip tightness from sitting. So, whilst all the glute stuff I’ve been doing is essential, its not enough on its own! The new exercises should start to work in 6-12 weeks, then I have 4-5 months of rebuilding fitness!

So I could be ready for next April

If I don’t sabotage it doing something daft.

5-10k swim event it is then.

Don’t need much hamstring for that….theoretically

Release date for my debut novel ‘Dunn’; hamstrings seem to be on the mend; they cancelled the marathon I was going for in the autumn; and there’s a mouse loose about this house….

Finally, the estimated release date for Dunn…..dun dun, dun. Pun totally intended.

It’s the 28th July….the day after my son and I get back from our desert island turtle experience.

The blurb is now up on the Matador website here, along with an author profile and a couple of dubious photos of me on holiday. I picked one’s in which I am wearing shades in some ridiculous attempt to:

a) disguise myself so that I am totally unrecognisable to everyone except anyone who’s actually met me

b) hide the ever increasing wrinkle problem

One of the above is a joke….can you work out which?

The book cover is yet to be revealed …. They’re hopefully making the one I suggested better. Formatting is not my strong point.

So, what should I blog about now the ‘writing goals’ for my sabbatical are nearly done? The pain of completing my final draft, editing, proofreading editing, deciding to self-publish etc etc is done. I have not quite finished draft one of the Seagull, but nearly. I am a chapter or so away from the end (I have been at various back/neck/hip fixing appointments this week, so I have written nothing).

I’m enjoying the ‘lifestyle’ blog aspect, for no other reason than it gives me a nice record of what I have done. The journal style is appealing, but perhaps I should be writing posts on ‘writing process’ and my characters now too. If not on WordPress, then maybe on the blog linked to my website, which you can find here . Maybe I will do some on both.

The problem with writing is that its seriously screwed my neck/hips/back and, consequently, hamstring.

The Physio I see referred me to a magic chiropractor, who seems to have helped the hamstring by doing something horrible to my neck and back, but God I’m stiff!! Sitting/standing typing has turned me into a stiff grumbly old woman. My hamstring is improving currently, though. But they’ve cancelled the marathon I was planning for the autumn because of roadworks, so that goal is currently postponed. Hopefully next spring I can smash that London qualifying time, and possible even aim at Boston. I can do it on paper from half marathon times! Maybe…..we shall see.

There has to be a solution to the typing problem. What is it, though? Voice recognition software is seeming like a possible answer…but I’m loath to go down that route for some reason. It just doesn’t seem like writing (though writers probably said that when we moved from pens to computers).

In addition, reading and typing on the phone is a bad idea for the neck, of course, so my wattpad activity has declined dramatically. So have my reads with that, unfortunately, but I can’t keep up the momentum of commenting on lots of stories for very little (if any) gain. I will post the whole of the first draft of The Seagull up there, but I’m not sure its the right forum for a mid-grade/early teen/young adult novel (I am back to being unsure about my target audience). Everything else in the fantasy genre on there is medieval/wizardy stuff. Is it high fantasy? I don’t even know! I definitely don’t fit there. What is urban fantasy? Mine has urban elements, but I’m not sure it fits there either. Of course it could just be crap. I’ve had some positive feedback on wattpad, but a few negatives too. It is a work in progress, so very rough around the edges, but my thinking behind posting it was to get some extra usable feedback. Some of the feedback I’ve had is really helpful, but most of the negative comments were from people who really do write worse than me. And you know what they say about people in glass houses. My writing tutor has been up and down about the writing, but not the idea and lots of people were positive. Basically, it needs a lot of work. First drafts do!!! Back to the mantra good writing is rewriting….

Anyhow, I’ve wittered enough. One of my delightful cats (I have a suspect, decide which you think could be guilty of rodent torture)

brought in a mouse to play with, and it has taken up residence behind the sofa. It’s not falling for my improvised humane mouse trap, so I’d better go and shift the sofa!

Think positive …. My hamstrings are tight, but not currently injured and Dunn is now in ‘production’ …

I had a bad day the other day and wrote a very ranty post, which I have since deleted.

Whilst I still require the mixture of vodka, valium and St Lucia that I suggested then, I have decided to try to be more of the Zen, accepting, earth mother that I decided I wasn’t on Thursday.

Not!!!!

But I am feeling less annoyed with the world.

The kid has behaved better

The hamstrings are tight, but haven’t given out in short slow runs again (yet)

And, whilst no one else has bothered to read the Seagull on wattpad, I haven’t had any more patronising feedback either. I maintain (as I discussed in my deleted, ranty post) that constructive feedback can lose its impact due to throw-away (?hyphen) comments, such as ‘practice more’, but I’m just about over it on this occasion.

On a positive note, Dunn is now in production. It should be released in around 16 weeks (ish), so that’s exciting 😁

I have nearly finished draft one of The Seagull too. The word count currently sits at 54,500 so it is novel length now, with a few chapters left to go. Its a first draft, so it needs a lot of work, but the skeleton is there and a fair bit of muscle.

Unfortunately, my own skeleton/muscles are unhappy. It seems I need a break from the computer, so I am going to finish draft 1 and then focus on getting my flexibility back, because my back/hips and hamstrings are currently still pretty bad.

Had a massage yesterday, and the masseur pulled the ‘oh dear, you’re stuffed love face’ when I mentioned that my hamstring was straining recurrently, so I am currently feeling very negative about getting back to where I was and progressing with running. The physio has been positive that we can sort it, so I’m holding onto that and doing everything I’m told …. I have managed a couple of short, slow, treadmill runs without incident, but it’s really hard to be ‘grateful for every mile’ as the articles tell you to when you have to drop from 20 mile runs to 3, and drop from 7.50 min miles (I know this is a jog to a lot of the macho types that post in injury forums, but I was happy(ish) with getting to this target pace for half marathon at 42 years-old) to 10 min mile (theres nothing wrong with that pace either, its just relative to where I was, its a big drop) …. I am grateful, but still gutted. Even mild injuries suck. And I feel like it’s never going to get better, regardless of what the physio says 😭

So, its all a bit bittersweet at the moment.

The sitting-related back/hip/hamstring problems are making me positive about going back to work in September, though, because I don’t get to sit for more than 15 minutes there. So every cloud has a silver lining.

Yuck, I’m making myself want to vomit.

Also have loads of cool trips lined up for the summer. And I am grateful for those.

Croatia (Pula) with lovely husband and stroppy son at end of May/June for some snorkelling/paddle-boarding/swimming.

Going on a bonding trip to a desert island in Cape Verde off West Africa during turtle breeding season with the demon child. Lets hope we can have fun!

Staying in a Tipi in the lake district so I can swim 3.8km of lake Coniston (I am working through the swimable ones year by year, because we love it there)

Then it is our tenth anniversary, so were off to Orkney to see iron age ruins and hopefully some orcas/seals….though hopefully not orcas eating seals.

So there’s no time for marathon training anyway

🍸

Chapter one of Dunn

This will appear on my website (KayJayauthor.com), just as soon as I sort it out 🙂

Prologue

When does a story start?  When the action starts?  When a life starts changing?  Or when a life is formed?  Surely a story isn’t complete without the whole picture.  A background canvas on which a life is slowly painted, building up in layers as the years add depth and character.  But you won’t care about that.  You won’t care about my whole history.  You’ll only want the juicy stuff – the dirt on Yvette Blake; my reasons for joining the Saviours.  So, let’s start with why I joined.  Let’s start with my darling wife Sophie – the mad witch who ruined my life.

 

CHAPTER ONE:  BEGINNINGS (NOVEMBER 2010)

The best thing about trying to get money out of people for charity is that they usually trust you already.  You must be a nice guy if you are working for such a noble cause and for peanuts as well, they assume.  Because you already have their trust half the battle is won.  Sure, they often walk past with no more than a ‘sorry man’ but pick the right ones and you’re home and dry.  Pick the guilty ones and they’ll sign up without a fight.  Sophie looked like one of those, and I saw her coming a mile away.

I saw her, eyes down, avoiding the sight of her short designer haircut reflected in the mirror-like windows.  I heard her, expensive heels tapping quickly along the polished pavements of the financial district.  I felt her, guilt emanating from her skinny form as she trudged through the crowds.  She seemed to emit a wave of conscience.  It shone like an aura around her tired thirty-something frame, parting the sea of investment bankers that laughed its way past the Big Issue sellers and beggars.  She was just what I’d been looking for: a target, so I plastered on a smile, switched my eyes to ‘puppy dog’ and got ready to block her path.  She didn’t notice me until it was too late.  She was too busy scrabbling in her posh handbag for a coin to appease the beggar who was following her down the street.  She handed him some change then rushed straight into my waiting smile.

“Afternoon miss, could you spare a moment?”  I pleaded.

She tried to dodge me, swerving to the left, heading for the gap between me and the office-block windows.  I sidestepped, eyelashes fluttering at maximum.

“Sorry, I’m late for a meeting,” she said, stopping but not looking up.

“Just a couple of seconds,” I entreated.  “C’mon I’m having a really bad day.”

She snorted and looked up, her big brown eyes meeting mine.  It was just for a second but that was enough.  The jacket of her grey suit bunched up as she wrapped long, thin arms around her skinny body.

I winked, hoping my eyes were sparkling.  “Thanks for stopping … bet you’re having a better day than me.”

Her shoulders relaxed a bit, and her thin lips parted to expose gleaming white teeth. “I doubt it,” she said, eyes flickering to my name badge.  “Listen, Aidan, I really do have to go, but I’ll catch you on my way home if you’re still here about six?”

“I finish at five … but I could meet you for coffee?” I stammered, cheeks burning as I anticipated her scornful rejection.

A corner of her red-lipsticked mouth creased into a smile.  “Oh … okay then,” she replied.  “There’s a Costa Coffee on Canon Street.  I’ll see you there just after six.”  And she was gone.

I watched her androgynous brown hair bobbing through the crowd, saw her long arms hanging awkwardly beside her angular body and thought how unattractive she was.  Yet I felt strangely excited about seeing her again.  I imagined her taking me out for dinner; back to some posh apartment; to bed.  I daydreamed my way through the afternoon – I didn’t sign anyone up to that week’s charity!  And all I got that night was coffee.

***

Sophie arrived a few minutes after six p.m. and perched on her seat whilst I bought the drinks.  She seemed tense, crossing and uncrossing her arms whilst she told me distractedly that she was an investment banker; that she lived alone; that she was too busy to meet at the weekend for a drink.

“Too busy doing what?”  I asked.  “Anything exciting?”

She squirmed uncomfortably in her designer suit and told me that she thought it was exciting.

I waited for her to elaborate, watching the dim lamplight reflecting in her glossy lipstick.  She slowly rotated her half-full cup, studying the eddy of cold latte that swirled against its sides.

“How about you?” she asked, changing the subject.  “What are you doing at the weekend?”

I drained my cup.  “Pub probably,” I told her.  “Maybe a club with my friend Terry.”  The last bit was a lie, but I thought it might make me sound more interesting.

She smiled and said something patronising about being young.  I told her twenty-five wasn’t young, and she said I wouldn’t say that when I got to thirty-three.

Looking back, I suppose I was hooked then.  Snagged by the smell of her expensive perfume and the immaculate makeup that failed to cover the fine lines around her eyes.  But mostly I was hooked because she ran.  If she’d caved in that night, then I’d probably have run the other way – decided that she wasn’t worth it.  But she didn’t cave in.  She reluctantly agreed to meet me sometime the following week, even more reluctantly supplied me with her mobile number and then said she had to go.

I texted her the next day, but she didn’t reply.  I called her the day after, but she didn’t answer.  And I forgot.  I forgot that she was meant to be my target: some needy woman who would sign up to the charity, or better still, keep me.  I forgot that I was supposed to be in control.  She started to play on my mind and plague my thoughts.  She turned into some enigmatic goddess in my brain, and I wanted to know everything about her.  I hadn’t experienced anything like it before.  It was like a craving that niggled at me constantly, and by the following Wednesday – nine days after I had met her – I was getting desperate, so I texted her again.

I started with a nondescript message – something that I hoped would sound nonchalant: Alright Sophie?  Fancy a drink tmrw?

You would have thought that she would be grateful!  You would have thought she would have thanked her lucky stars that I was interested.  I mean, how many thirty-three-year old’s have a bloke almost ten years younger interested in them?  Not many but she didn’t reply for three days.  She didn’t reply until Saturday and then only to tell me she was busy.  It was dismissive.  It was rude.  It was addictive, so I persisted.

How about a coffee after work next Wed then?  I’m buying ☺

In New York next week sorry

Next weekend?

Not back until Sun 

She eventually agreed to meet me for a drink the following Friday but said that she had better not have a late night as she had commitments on the Saturday.

I told her that sounded intriguing, but she didn’t expand.

See you Joe’s wine bar, 6pm

Read her message.  And I couldn’t wait.

***

She wasn’t there when I arrived at six, so I ordered a small glass of red wine.

“Seven pounds please,” said the barman, looking distastefully at the crumpled tenner that I handed over.  I lifted the sparkling glass to my lips, stifling a grimace as the most expensive vinegar in Britain hit my tongue.

The barman smirked and turned to serve someone richer with a smile that hadn’t been there for me. “Good evening sir … good week on the markets?”

I slouched towards an uninviting, plastic table in the corner, placing my glass carefully in the middle before removing my coat and slumping into the seat.  And fifty minutes later, almost an hour late, Sophie arrived.

She peered through the window like an apparition, haggard and bedraggled, searching for me in the sea of suits and briefcases that filled the bar.  She spotted me and waved, but I was cross, so I ignored her.  And when she finally managed to open the door and reach me, I pretended to be surprised.

“I thought you’d forgotten,” I said, downing my wine.

“Aidan, I’m so sorry.  Thank you for waiting.”

“I was about to give up.”

She lowered herself tiredly into the egg-shaped chair and leaned back.  “Sure, sure, and who could blame you …  I’ve had an awful week.”

I rocked my glass backwards and forwards hoping that she would take the hint and buy me a refill, but she crossed her legs and studied the tip of her wet shoe.

I sighed.  “What can I get you?”

“Oh,” she looked up, “erm just a mineral water please.”

“A mineral water?”

“I don’t drink … at the moment.”

“Do you want to push the boat out and go for a J2O?”

She shook her head.  “No, I …  I’m sticking to plain things right now.”

I shrugged and headed to the bar, hoping that they took debit cards and that mine wouldn’t be declined.

She thanked me weakly when I returned, drifting off into her own world and watching the rain snake down the dark window as I made banal conversation.  Wasn’t it awful weather?  Wasn’t it dreadful about that earthquake in that country?

I told her that the charity we were collecting for that week were emergency fundraising to help with the recovery effort, hoping that she would sign up or at least offer a donation.

“Oh right,” she replied disinterestedly.  “Where was it again?”  Then she asked how my week had been for the second time.

I turned the conversation to her.  “So … how about you?”  I ventured.  “What’s this thing that takes up all of your weekends?”

She started, taken aback.  “I go to a group,” she replied hesitantly.

I waited for her to elaborate.  She didn’t, so I said: “A group?”

She nodded.

“What, a rock group?  A sewing group?  What kind of group?”

She drained her glass discreetly, a bit at a time but with obvious purpose.  “Sorry I can’t tell you the details … yet,” she replied, glancing at her watch. “Anyway – I really must go.”

“But you only just got here!”

She stood up and edged her arms into her coat, buttoning it deliberately.  “I know, but it’s eight o’clock, I really have to get going …  I’ve got a lot to do.”

I rose, perplexed.  “Okay.  Well, see you soon.”

“Sure …  I’ll text you.”  Then she turned and went, waving through the window as she passed.

I looked at my almost full glass indignantly then picked it up and downed it. The acidic contents burned my mouth, but I forced myself to swallow it, ignoring the disapproving looks of the other customers.  How dare she, I thought, stuffing my hands in my pockets and stomping across the packed bar.  How dare she show up late and leave so abruptly.  How dare she string me along like I was nothing!  Like she was doing me a favour.  I rammed my shoulder into the stiff door and pushed my way out into the night.  Well, that was it, I decided.  She could contact me.  I wasn’t going to run after her.  And I didn’t.  I held out for a fortnight, heart jumping every time I received a text.  It was never from her, but I couldn’t let her go, couldn’t bear to be nothing to her.  For two weeks the image of her pitiful, rain-soaked form kept me awake – I wanted her badly, so I gave in and sent her a text.

It took her days to get back to me. I was fuming by the time I received her brief message.

Next Sun 12?  Really busy at mo

That was it.  No apology, no kiss, nothing!  I waited a day before texting back.

Yeah ok.  Where? 

Sorry, Aidan.  I have other plans now, but I can do the following Fri?  I’ll take you out for dinner.  I owe you a treat I think x

It was almost pitying if a text can have a tone.  I agreed anyway, telling myself that a free meal was a free meal.  That she did owe me.  But if I’m honest I was dying to see her again – captivated by her mystery.  And she’d added a kiss, which gave me hope.

***

I arrived late for dinner at the poshest restaurant I had ever seen in my life.  It was a different world.  I felt like an imposter.  I looked like one too, in the shirt I’d dragged out of the laundry basket and ironed; the shoes I’d only worn once to a job interview.

The guy at the front saw me for what I was.  He looked me up and down then finished wiping the wine glass in his hand before asking if he could help.  I told him that I was meeting someone.  He asked what name the table was in, but I didn’t know Sophie’s surname.  He raised an eyebrow and asked if I could see her.  I couldn’t, so he led me through the restaurant, as though escorting an unruly child through a china shop.  Eventually, I saw her, huddled in a corner nursing a glass of white wine.  She unfolded herself as we approached.

“Aidan,” she said, rising stiffly from her chair and air-kissing my cheek.  “So glad you could make it.”

“Drinking today then?”

She looked at her glass, cheeks reddening.  “Yes I … felt like a drink.  What will you have?”

And, as is usually the case, alcohol helped the conversation flow.  Three or four drinks later, things were looking promising.

“Shall we get more wine?” I enquired as she sloshed the dregs of the bottle into my glass tipsily.

“Waiter,” she called.  “Same again.”

We were still drinking brandy when the last table of suits left the restaurant.  Still drinking brandy and talking about – everything – her childhood, her job, her rich indifferent daddy.  The alcohol opened a floodgate, and the deluge just kept coming.  I couldn’t get a word in.  Couldn’t ask any questions as she babbled and slurred her way through her life history.  The waiters circled our table, swooping to retrieve napkins, empty glasses, and coffee cups.  Eventually, Sophie raised an arm for the bill.  She stabbed defiantly at the numbers on the card reader and finally entered the right PIN – she was trashed.  I couldn’t let her go home on her own in that state, so I offered to accompany her.  She hesitated for a moment then agreed.

When she invited me in I thought that the ice maiden had cracked; that a couple more glasses of wine in her Regency apartment would seal the deal.  I caught a glimpse of her antique king-sized bed and thought I’d wake up in it.  But she didn’t welcome me into her bed.  She showed me into her cavernous lounge, dragged a duvet out of an old wooden chest and left me staring up at a chandelier from the sofa bed.  She didn’t even make me a cup of tea before she stumbled to her room and locked the heavy looking door with a definite click.

***

She was watching me from a ‘restored’ antique chair when I woke up.   I groaned, hangover needles piercing my temples.

“Tea?”  she asked, uncoiling her long limbs and heading for the door.

“Please … how are you doing?”

“Oh, fine considering the amount of poison I swallowed – are you suffering?”

“You could say that.”

“My group leader’s right, alcohol is evil.  I hope I didn’t embarrass you.”

“No,” I lied, “not at all … What’s this group then?”

She raised a dismissive arm.  “Oh, it’s nothing.  I’m not sure it’s really your thing, Aidan.  Sugar?”

“Three, please … how do you know it’s not my thing if you won’t tell me what it is?”

She slid through the door and craned her head back around the mahogany panels.  “Maybe I’ll tell you soon.  Maybe when I know you a bit better.”  And she withdrew her head and creaked away along the corridor, leaving me intrigued and irritated in a shaft of sunlight that shone through a gap in the velvet curtains.

Dunn is finally done … but so are my marathon plans

It’s been a while since I wrote this, predominantly because I have been moving commas around in Dunn and sulking about my mild hamstring strain!!!

So, it’s all my hips and lower back. The poor beleaguered hamstrings aren’t to blame …. They’re innocent victims of me sitting writing in a bad chair all day, then running without warming up properly etc etc. Whoops.

At least I now know the cause and my lovely husband has got us a yo-yo desk so we can alternate sit-standing. He works at home two days a week so it will help him too. I also need to stick to my strength and conditioning properly and probably reduce my speed when doing distance (15-mile run and intervals plus tempo in the same week ok. 20-mile run and the above NOT ok).

Sadly, it appears that it would be sensible to drop out of my April marathon, and the way it’s going, I will probably have to put off doing any more marathons until next spring (I’m secretly hoping for an autumn come-back, but honestly … probably not).  The hamstring strain (very mild, which is good but frustrating) happened at the end of Jan.  I then had three weeks of quite frustratingly slower running, watched my lovely husband start our usual half-marathon without me, and then the hamstring went AGAIN when I went for a slower run on my own in the afternoon.  So I need a break.  It’s official.  I am going to have to swim for a bit and work on my strength.  No triathlons, no Tae Kwon Do and no running at all for a bit.  I’m still to determine how long of a bit, but the way I see it, there’s no point me doing frustrating slower runs and lower mileage than I need to do for what I want to do, for the hamstring to keep going again and again.  It’s pointless.  I’m going to have to stop, which totally sucks.  But it would suck more if it was a bad injury rather than a recurrent overuse niggle.  At least it gives me a positive on going back to work in September.  I don’t sit down for more than 15 minutes there, so hopefully, that will solve the problem.

So, it’s a good job there’s good news.  Dunn – the first novel that has taken me nearly 9 years to complete has been SENT.  It’s gone.  I am waiting to receive confirmation that the contracts have been received by Troubador and then the publication process will begin.

dunn1.jpg

It’s a bizarre feeling.

I’m trying not to fixate on whether I got all of the commas and b***** hyphens right.  I’m definitely not thinking about semicolons (shudder) because I’m fairly sure that anyone with a modicum of proper English grammar teaching will find some problems with it!  They taught ‘free writing’ in my day (Oh, so long ago) and so, with the watchful guidance of the technical writer husband, Dunn has been a steep learning curve.  Hopefully, I can seamlessly transfer that learning to draft two of the Seagull, which I am nearing the completion of … still uploading it onto Wattpad, but have neglected it shamelessly for two months whilst I moved commas around in Dunn.  I have nearly reached 500 reads (499, which offends my liking for whole numbers if anyone can get on there and sort that out), but it’s slowed down lots since I stopped ‘sharing’ my story and publicising it on Twitter.  I haven’t been on Twitter either.  I’ve done nothing but Dunn.

It was great to write a new chapter today.  I’m up to chapter 21 of the Seagull (name probably being changed to The Seagull and the Raven, I think) and I think that I will finish draft one by Easter.  It almost made the knackered hips, back and hamstring worth it.  Then I remembered that I can’t go for a run, so I’m back to sulking again. Never mind.  The beast from the East (as some of the delightful British press are calling the snowstorms and cold) has hit … so it’s too slippery to run outside anyway 🙂

And I’m not going in the sea for a chilly dip whilst it’s -3C out there either.  Dreaming of sun, warmer days and working legs….  I’m sure I’ve rolled these ones out a few times now, but they encapsulate what I love about living by the sea.

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So nearly there with Dunn…but have a grade 1 hamstring strain

Well, it’s been a while. I have been busy moving commas around, adding and removing hyphens, and failing to become confident with the use of semicolons. And I’m nearly there. It would feel good, but I’ve managed to strain my hamstring AGAIN.

Okay, so I’ve had 4.5 months of no issues and I’ve done some good training, but, as my son would say: come on. So unfair!

Actually, though, I totally deserve it. I should have gone for a reduced volume week, but instead I did a long tempo run, faster-than-normal intervals and then thought, I know let’s try half marathon pace into the wind, up a hill….when an idiot pulled his car out in front of me and I accelerated that’s what did it. I am so annoyed/depressed/upset, but maybe I’ve learnt my lesson. Maybe.

Still, on a positive note, I have learned quite a lot about punctuation this last month, and The Seagull is now up to 464 reads and 86 votes on wattpad. That’s encouraging. And the physio reckons I will be fine by my April marathon. I am writing this on the bus back, trying to think positive. I have got a few long runs in the bag as I was going to aim to get below my 1.43 personal best in the half marathon I always do, but that goal is going to have to go on hold. Nevermind. There will be more half marathons and if necessary, marathons. And I have cute cats. No other photos to put here at the moment, as it’s grim out, and I can’t run anyway. The cats also think it is grim out and seem to be making nests in various weird places

Never speak too soon…first proofreading edit of ‘Dunn’ done, but not a lot else

This week has been a flop on every front.

There are reasons – I have a multitude of excuses, but basically, it went pear shaped.

I have managed to get distracted by everything, but mostly….

It’s chilly, so every time I sit down to write, the lady above comes for a warm-up cuddle, knocking stuff on the floor and walking on my keyboard. I have three, but one doesn’t do laps. He just rolls around looking all cute and shouting at you for food…

Feed me I’m staaaarving….go on…. please. 

Hard life being a pet cat!

So, it’s all their fault that I’ve only managed 3400 words of ‘The Seagull’ this week. It’s got nothing to do with me procrastinating a spending too much time on wattpad and Twitter, chatting to other wannabe authors. Fun but not productive, really.

Managed a chapter and a half. Poor old Oisin’s in a bad way, but there’s a new God on the scene. In the original mythology his name is Dagda, and he has a staff that can mete out life and death. He’s using the ‘life’ end to start cars in my story.  A new ‘walk on’ character popped up too and changed a sub plot of my story … I may have to be mean and take away most of his lines, though as I think in retrospect I want it back how I thought it… planned is too strong a word. I have a loose plot, then write what comes into my head. But I think the original idea is better, so sorry tobacco-chewing Tom.

The first half of the week was a running shambles as well 😭, which always puts me in a bad frame of mind. I am currently doubting very much that I will improve my half marathon time of 1 hr 43 in February. In fact I’m thinking I may have peaked.  I failed my tempo run Tuesday after finding it fine the week before… training error alert, maybe, so I’m going to have a couple of days rest after the 18.5 mile long run this week to see if that makes a difference. That and a twenty the week after and then I’ll scale back the distance to 13 miles ish and work on speed until the half, before picking up distance again after the race. There’s a good 6 weeks between the half and full marathon this year and I feel more confident that I’m on track for the 3.50 marathon. I had a reasonable track session Thursday, despite a wheezy cough (reason for crap tempo?) and had a good chat about marathon strategy, so feel a bit better about the running now than I did. Still dubious about the half though, probably not helped by the October disaster. There are always others. 

That’s it for this week. Here’s hoping that next week is better all round.

Past the half way mark on the Seagull…. getting there with Dunn… running so far so good but v tired

I seem to all of a sudden have had students that want tutoring (the post Christmas panic) and so I have lost a day a week. But realistically I need the cash!  
Still managed a reasonable chunk of writing last week: 4.5 k words of the Seagull, taking me up to the end of chapter 16 and 37+k words. Not bad. 

I think I can finish it by the end of January/mid Feb depending on how much the second proofread of Dunn throws up.  What I have learnt from the lovely husband proofreading, is that the ‘freewriting’ approach that my teachers took in the 1980s has made my grammar and style ok (with Todd my tutor’s help of course), but I seriously need to learn some punctuation rules (hyphens and semicolons especially). 

So, there is my new mission: Make sure in draft 2 of the Seagull that I learn and apply the use of hyphens and semicolons appropriately (so the husband’s proofreading job is easier).  He also spotted a ‘technology’ issue in the plot of Dunn, which I have now rectified. He’s good 😀 I’m lucky to have a technical writer as a husband (even if he is leaving all the dishes…..)

Made it to 311 reads on wattpad now – reasonable for 2 months in, but slowing. Getting runner up in the winter solstice competition has made me think that entering non wattpad competitions may be a plan….so there’s another mission for 2018. 

I’ve also joined some author groups on Facebook, though I haven’t sorted my page out. I really have issues with Facebook and it’s layout. I just don’t find it easy to set up and it’s off putting. Fortunately, Matador will set it up for me. Twitter is sorted and I am happily tweeting bits of both novels amongst other things….all to other writers, but it’s a start.  

No website subscribers yet, so may have to rethink the structure a bit, but this week is all about proofreading and writing. Already my diary is filling with other stuff, though, so watch me fail to meet my goals:

Dunn first proofreading edit complete (husband dependent)

Chapter 17 and 18 of the Seagull drafted

Chapter 10 of the Seagull edited and up on wattpad (9 went up this week)

I think that’s probably ambitious this week, but we’ll see.

In the Seagull on wattpad, my main character, Louis the Sun God has just entered the Nothingland – Balor’s realm of the dead – with his Pixie friend Algernon.  They have to get across it to get to America and find his mother, so have to get across the dead Atlantic. Running this morning felt like running through the Nothingland in oh, so many ways!

The grey is not quite as intense as I have imagined for the Nothingland, but it’s not far off! Car headlights on at 9 am, that kind of day. Also, when Louis tries to run there, his legs are heavy. Mine were like lead this morning after my mileage increase to 37 with a 17 mile long run last week. I forget every year I do it how knackering marathon training is. A few weeks respite to focus on speed after this week until the half, then back to the long runs again. I like them in a weird way. They’re a bit of a journey, to be cliché and I feel good afterwards. Also enjoying the running club challenge. I am seriously challenged by moving up a group to the 22 mind 5k pace group, but that’s the point. 7 repeats of 500m then 300 m last Thursday was HARD. But I did it, albeit slightly slow. 

Right. Chapter 17 of the Seagull, here I come. Louis is out of the Nothingland now….but poor Oisin is in a bad way

Runner up in a wattpad competition, running through Royston Vasey and dodging nerf bullets

So… Christmas has come and gone in a hail of nerf bullets, quality streets and way too much cheese and pastry. We had friends here this year, with a boy the same age as my son. We all had a great time, but I’m exhausted. 7 am am nerfwars are not relaxing….

I now only have 8 months left of my year off and I am still not quite ready to release ‘Dunn’ on the world.  It is still in proofreading by poor beleaguered, (but free), lovely husband… he’s nearly there and I’ve done all the corrections he’s thrown at me…..then I think it needs another proofread to check. I can’t see mistakes anymore and I can’t read it again!

However the first chapter is available as a sample for anyone who subscribed to my website, which you can find here and the second chapter will come a week later.  Hopefully I will be ready to go by mid January and then over to Matador to format, is the current plan (though they haven’t sent me contracts yet).

On a very bright note, the Seagull (working title) got runner up in the Winter Solstice competition on wattpad in the ‘naturally normal’ fantasy character category,, so I am very proud of my main character, Louis. A lot more people have read it now too. I’m up to 257 when I last looked…still not tonnes, but growing steadily. Long may it last (though it probably won’t). I’m enjoying my wattpad experience a lot. Chapter 8 is now up.

Marathon training was going well until Christmas and storm Dylan got in the way, though the anniversary episodes of League of gentlemen have made me realise that my long run (16 miles now) takes me through the southern version of Royston Vasey. Go in the local co-op for local people and you’ll see what I mean (this is a local shop for local people. There’s nothing for you here)  Still, it gives me moments/photos like this

Both of which are great inspiration for various bits of writing.

So, the son and husband go back to school and work, respectively on Tuesday and then it’s back to it. Not sure the seagull is going to be quite finished by the end of January, but it won’t be far off and I’m still aiming for that goal… hopefully it will be ready to go by the spring when ‘Dunn’ is out – and the whole self publishing/agent attempt dilemma starts again. As it’s part of a duology/trilogy though, I probably want to get them all drafted before I go for it, so plenty left to do.  Pleased with months 1-4 of the sabbatical though 😁

Hmmm I did start twittering, ran enough and went for a lovely chilly seaswim…not much actual writing though

What a glorious morning  the sun is out, low in the sky and I’ve just been for a lovely short run up the cliff …beautiful. Days like this remind me that I am lucky to live where I live and have easy access to such inspiring views.

Other days, when it’s like Mordor, I guess it’s inspirational in  a different way. I’ve based the ‘purgatory’ in my second novel ‘the Seagull’ on the all consuming greyness that we get round here sometimes in winter/autumn.  I’ve called it the Nothing and  so far….So’m lucky in a different way then, but need reminding of that when I have to go and run in it….

I guess that’s true of anywhere though, but the grey days 

Well….running aside, that week was a bit of a non-starter. In terms of actual writing I achieved basically nothing.  I have started a few Twitter conversations as suggested by a graphic novelist friend of ours, but I  seem to have had various ‘things’ on this week, all fun and worth it, but I’ve only managed to write about 700 words…. that’s rubbish!!! 

Still, chapter 6 of ‘The Seagull’ is up on wattpad…reads and votes are slowly creeping up, but still…one small pigeon step at a time.  I am advertising it on my new Twitter account too, so it’s all practice for when ‘Dunn’ finally comes out next year. I’ve picked up a few twitter and wattpad followers, joined a lovely friendly twitter group called turtlewriters, and had a nice chat with an American writer who knows a lot about Irish mythology…all great, positive stuff and I’m glad I finally bit the bullet and did it. 

Other than that, I went for a lovely sunny seaswim with my new sea swimming friend. It sounds mad, but it’s such a great feeling getting in the sea, even when it is about 7 degrees and the puddles are iced over!!! I am still at the wetsuit stage and will be for this year I think, but she had already been in that morning wetsuit-free!!! Next year maybe for me 😵 

My son had his nativity play. It was jn a church this year, and much less fun than in previous years at the school. Its always marvelous to see him  perform. He had a speaking narration part this year and sang his heart out, bless him, but we are not religious and I did find the forced prayer etc difficult to swallow. He enjoyed it though and that’s the main thing. My favourite of his school plays is currently when he had the part of a singing, dancing camel though. Much more creative and fun. He’s had a good week this week. He got most improved student at the Tae Kwon Do Christmas awards. Super proud of him and thought he was going to take the trophy to bed 😀

Then Thursday was taken up going to London to see a band with my husband… great fun, totally worth it (despite the hangover) but coincided with me coming out of a two-week writing slump and feeling inspired!!! Typical. Hope the mojo revisits next week, though we are then into the Christmas run up!!!! 

Marathon training is on track at least (glossing over the duathlon I signed up for in January and have done no cycling for) and my hamstrings are….ok….bit tight on the left again, but….ok 😵. Hope it stays that way. Fifteen miles was fine last week so 16 tomorrow and then speed and a few more hills after Xmas to try to get the half marathon time down before I tackle the longer marathon runs. There’s more time between the half and full I do this year which I think is a good thing…guess I will find out (hamstrings allowing)