Memories of 2016

It’s New Years Eve and everyone is writing/blogging/tweeting their view of the past year. I thought I’d join in the fun.

So, 2016 – worse year ever?
Yes, some famous people died, but that happens every year and once it had been decided that this year is the worst, every new announcement just adds to it.
Yes, there were a few political decisions made, that the losers thought were wrong. We live in a democracy – it happens, get over it.
Yes, everyone worries what 2017 will bring – it hasn’t happened yet, enjoy today.

As you might have guessed, I am a glass half full type of person. How has 2016 been for me?

Not bad. I’ve kept healthy, bar the occasional sniffle. So has the family, apart from the removal of an appendix and a gradual loss of memory (not in the same person).

I have gained a grandchild. Molly was born at the end of January and she is the most beautiful, talented child ever born. All grandparents say that, but in this case it’s true!

Molly on Boxing Day

Molly on Boxing Day

During the early part of the year I severed all links with my childhood home. We had moved my mother to a care home near us and her house was sold. We had moved into it 50 years ago, so there was a lot of sorting out to do and memories to relive. I hope the new owners will be as happy as we were.

Back Garden, August 1988

Back Garden, August 1988







The Indian at the front is now Molly’s dad!

We have had several breaks away this year. A visit to Dorset, which included the Chalke Valley History Festival, see here and here for a report about the fun we had in the mud there. Later we went to Northumberland – read about that here and here.

Holidays now seem to be chosen with Anglo-Saxons and writing in mind, which brings me to the main point of this post.

This is the year writing took over my life.

With a trip to the Self-Publishing Conference in May and the HNA Conference in Oxford in September, I have been meeting other authors and learning about this business. I still attend the class I first signed up for in January 2013 and recently joined a Cafe Writers Group.

Most of all I have been writing. Or Editing. Or thinking about Writing. Sometimes reading. Everything else has been pushed to one side – I spend a lot of time in the 10th Century!

People say that if you write, you are a writer. I’m not sure. You are only a writer if other people agree with that opinion. Last night I got an e-mail from one of my beta readers. My first feedback. There were interesting suggestions and reports of spelling errors (that’s why I need an editor) but he said it was “a great read”. What a wonderful end to the year!

Any resolutions?

To be published – even if I have to do it myself.

Only then can I call myself “A Writer”



Happy Christmas

Christmas Eve and I’m not ready. There are still presents to be wrapped and decorating to be done. I collect greenery from the garden to decorate the dining room, so that must be done at the last moment, otherwise it will not last until Twelfth Night.

I haven’t made the mince pies yet – I have no lard to make pastry – I must go shopping for those last-minute ingredients.

Before all that I just wanted to wish all my readers a Happy Christmas. I will try to blog a bit more regularly – I have several book reviews up my sleeve – perhaps next week!

And I have a present for you, two in fact. Like the best (or worse) Christmas Presents they are “re-gifted” from previous Christmases.

One is the piece of writing that started all this off. I used to be a genealogist – still am when I get the time. I thought it would be a good idea to write a genealogy story for Christmas. I tried and failed. What was different from all that factual writing I had done? A few weeks later, in January 2013, I joined a writing class. The rest is history, or rather Historical Fiction. Six months later, I wrote my Christmas story. You can read it here.

The second is the story I posted last Christmas. Well, I hope I have acquired a few more readers in the last year!

It is a story about Byrhtnoth and his meeting in the snow with – Who? Read it and find out.

I will be back soon with a review of the past year and looking forward to what I hope will be an interesting new year.

A very happy Christmas to you and yours.

From Byrhtnoth (and The Writer)

At least the Christmas Cake is ready!

At least the Christmas Cake is ready!

I’m back!

The dust lies thick on every surface, the drooping house plants beg for water and the pile of unread newspapers has become a menace to aviation. The tumbleweed has rolled unchecked across the wastes of this blog.

Yes, I have been re-writing and I have finished – well nearly finished.

It was back in October, the 18th to be precise, that I debated whether to re-write the book, or not. The one thing I knew wouldn’t work was to make Byrhtnoth the narrator.

Guess what – he is!

I realised that I am the writer, I refused to be bullied. I would decide who is going to do what in my book. So I sat him down – he is considerably taller than me, twisted his arm – and told him to have a go.

It didn’t start well, that troublesome first chapter is still being re-written, but he soon got into the swing of it.

The first thing I discovered is that he is much stricter than me. Whole scenes were cut because they were holding up the story, conversations were truncated and my darlings were massacred all over the place.

Since he is telling the story, there is a bit more telling and less showing. Instead of someone, usually Wulfstan, watching how his friend reacts to something, Byrhtnoth tells us himself – and he isn’t always aware of how he appears to others. The book has lost something, but, I hope, gained in other ways.

I didn’t start writing from scratch. I took a few sentences at a time and changed “He” to “I”, “His” to “My” etc. I think it was this concentration on every word that helped me spot errors. It also made conversations easier to write. “I said this”, “He said that” meant less use of names to differentiate which “him” was talking.

Obviously I did not take part in NaNoWriMo; I had already started the re-write before November began, but used the end of the month as a target. I thought I wouldn’t make it, but at 5 pm last Wednesday, 30th November, I came to the end.

It had been hard. There was one Saturday, I don’t remember which, when I emerged and literally didn’t know what day it was!

There is still more to do. I must go through checking that I haven’t missed any of those “He”s and “Him”s. Then its off to the beta readers (more wanted, if anyone’s interested), and a professional edit. I have even set a date for publication – sometime next year, or the year after – you don’t think I’m going to tell anyone until it’s fixed?

Meanwhile, I have watered the plants, read the paper – the dust can wait. I might even post a few book reviews.

And did someone say Christmas is getting close?