Writer’s journey – How did it all happen?

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This is  my writer’s blog about me and my crazy journey to becoming a half decent author.

Well how did I start writing? It was quite odd really. I used to write as a teenager. At the time I had a ginger tom cat called Chester, Mr. Popularity, everyone loved him. He liked to venture afar and we would often have to rescue him. I remember one occasion in particular, my brother and I ended up trudging through the woods, in Blackhall in Edinburgh, to pick him up from a house in the vicinity. He ended up at the most peculiar places. One time he chose to visit a house with thirteen cats!

I told you he liked company. So it seemed natural to  write about cats,  and I kept a diary. My dad was and still is one of my other great sources of inspiration.  He has travelled extensively to the Far East, and Middle East and is a wonderful raconteur.

As far as my writing is concerned the inevitable happened.  I was the typical teenager. I got distracted. I found boys, discos, parties, and my writing suffered. Somehow I didn’t pick it up again for a very long time. This is a regret. A massive regret. But what can I do? I can’t travel back in time, I don’t have a Tardis. So I just have to accept that the time is right now.  You see, I’m still this young girl at heart, just stuck in an older and maybe wiser body. I have experienced more, travelled more, lived more, so hopefully that will make me a better writer.

Several events came together to ignite my desire to write again. First of all I read a lot.  At the time I was reading Dorian Gray and it was definitely a novel that captured my imagination and set my mind free. Also my eldest daughter was studying GCSE Art and I took a sudden interest in art and photography. I’m not saying that I can paint or draw, though I wish I could. No, I enjoyed watching her artistic development and I enjoyed sharing ideas with her and encouraging her.

All of these influences helped me to write my first book, a YA fantasy set in Cambridge, which I hope to publish soon. The female protagonist in my novel is a teenage girl who paints a puzzle of art. But it is by no means a novel simply about Art. She expresses her sadness, and discovers her magical powers, through the medium of painting and well the rest you will find out when you read the book. Lets just say that an awful lot happens and I think that it will keep you entertained!  Well I hope so anyway.

Also I know this sounds crazy but my other source of inspiration was a black cat, a  throw back to Chester.  I had never seen this strange black cat before and suddenly he just started appearing in our garden. There was something different about him. He appeared  like a miniature panther, all glossy and splendid, looking for attention, with his mesmerising eyes, I fell under his spell. He liked to show off, he would disappear into thin air, climb to ridiculous heights, or chase his tail around the garden like a demented clown. He just had to play a part in this book too. Lets just say he has a subsidiary part to a main character, who is male, young and very interesting too, just like him. That was the beginning. Looking back I am amazed that from just a few initial thoughts my idea just seemed to grow and grow. Now my debut novel, is nearly ready for the final edit. How did that happen? I couldn’t be happier in fact if I had a tail, I’m sure I would be whizzing around and around chasing it with excitement!

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Merry and Magical Christmas Wishes To You

 

 

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A very Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year. Have a wonderful time. I’ll be back soon.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Just leaving you with a few cracker jokes:

What do ghosts dance to? Soul music

What do you get if you cross a snowman and a vampire? Frostbite

What kind of pants do clouds wear? Thunderwear

What do you call someone who is afraid of Santa? A Clausterphobic

What’s the most popular Christmas wine? ‘I don’t like Brussels sprouts!’

What happened to the man who stole an Advent Calendar? He got 25 days!

 

 

A Toast To Our Furry Friends at Christmas

 

 

 

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Well let’s get into the Christmas spirit by celebrating man’s best friend

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and our feline friends too.

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So many authors  love cats and dogs, and often play tribute to this friendship by creating animal characters or quoting their love of our furry friends.

“To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.”
—Aldous Huxley (author, Brave New World)

“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.'”
Rudyard Kipling (author, The Jungle Book)

“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”
—Dean Koontz (author, Whispers)

“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”
Jack London (author, The Call of The Wild)

“I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.”
—John Steinbeck (author, The Grapes of Wrath)

 

In fact some authors love dogs so much that they argue that they are heaven bound.

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“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.”
—Robert Louis Stevenson (author, Treasure Island)

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”
—Mark Twain (author, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)

“If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.”
—James Thurber (author, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)

“Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul, chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we’re the greatest hunters on earth!”
—Anne Tyler (author, The Accidental Tourist)

And these famous actresses adore dogs too!

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“Dogs never bite me. Just humans.”
—Marilyn Monroe (actress, Some Like it Hot)

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“Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses.”
—Elizabeth Taylor (actress, Cleopatra)

http://dogtime.com/25-famous-quotes-about-dogs.html

Dogs and cats are different, no doubt about it, and here’s why!

Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”
― Christopher Hitchens, The Portable Atheist: Essential readings for the Nonbeliever

Quotes about dogs on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/dogs

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but cats are a mysterious folk:

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“Cats are a mysterious kind of folk. There is more passing in their minds than we are aware of.”  

Sir Walter Scott.

“When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her?”

Michel de Montaigne, French author

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“Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.”

Robertson Davies, Playright.

“I gave my cat a bath the other day … they love it. He sat there, he enjoyed it, it was fun for me. The fur would stick on my tongue, but other than that …”

Steve Martin, Comedian

“A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays.”

 

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“A cat is more intelligent than people believe, and can be taught any crime,”
― Mark Twain.
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Alexander McCall Smith  seems to want to make his cat the main subject of any photo he appears in, and there are similarly cuddly pictures of PG Wodehouse, Barbara Pym, Robert Graves, Ruth Rendell, Margaret Atwood (with “Fluffy”) and on and on and on.
Nobel prize–winning author Ernest Hemingway’s former home in Key West,  is now open to the public as a museum, populated by as many as 60 descendants of his famous polydactyl cats. Here’s the link to find out more: http://hemingwayhome.com/
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A polydactyl Cat.

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Hemingway cats

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Hemingway cats

My favourite Goodreads Quotes about cats:

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

“One day I was counting the cats and I absent-mindedly counted myself.”
― Bobbie Anne Mason, Shiloh and other stories

A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”
Ernest Hemingway

 

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“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”
― Jean Cocteau

“Yearning for love made her feel like a cat that was always twining around ankles, meowing Pet me, pet me, look at me, love me.
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

“That’s the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.”
― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing    

Holding this soft, small living creature in my lap this way, though, and seeing how it slept with complete trust in me, I felt a warm rush in my chest. I put my hand on the cat’s chest and felt his heart beating. The pulse was faint and fast, but his heart, like mine, was ticking off the time allotted to his small body with all the restless earnestness of my own.”
― Haruki Murakami, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle

On a more serious note, please remember that cats and dogs are for life, not just for Christmas:

Meet the people who give up their Christmas Day to look after cats and dogs

Article from The Mirror: “This year the RSPCA has reported an alarming increase in animals being abandoned across England and Wales – and they expect the situation to get worse over the winter months.

With nearly 2,500 cats and dogs in care this Christmas, hundreds of RSPCA volunteers spend Christmas Day with the animals, getting in extra early to make sure the cats and dogs have a special day.

And it’s lucky that they do, because the RSPCA receives 1,140 calls on Christmas Day putting immense strain on the people who choose to spend their Christmas looking after the animals.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/meet-people-who-give-up-4783124

Links:

http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/6-famous-authors-who-wrote-with-their-cats

http://www.buzzfeed.com/harpercollins/16-famous-writers-and-their-cats-9npd

I just love Mogget and The Despicable Dog in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom Trilogy. So let’s end with a bit of fun trivia:

http://www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/The-Old-Kingdom-Trilogy-by-Garth-Nix-111096.html

Bye!

 

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Jasper and The Magpie

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Jasper really likes shiny metals…He loves that when the sun shines Electrons dance reflecting light. This makes him feel safe and calm, And helps him sleep at night. This fun and though-provoking rhyming storybook will delight anyone with a special interest and encourage readers to be more accepting of difference and unusual passions. The story will resonate particularly with children on the autism spectrum and their friends and family. This book is suitable for ages six and upwards.

Jasper and the Magpie: Enjoying Special Interests Together is a storybook written in rhyme for those  along the autism spectrum and their caregivers, but it would be an excellent book to recommend in general to  encourage acceptance of differences.  I received a copy of this story book from Netgalley, published by Jessica Kingsley Publisher, in exchange for a review.

Jasper has a very strong interest in shiny metals, in fact he even resorts to taking them out of the garbage. His family aren’t happy about him collecting what they consider to be ‘dirty litter’ and they try to replace the shiny metals with other things,  much to Jasper’s dismay, yet Jasper can’t explain why he is so upset.

This is definitely a good book for parents, siblings, and other children to read, to help them understand that yes Autistic children are different but we should do our best to understand and help, rather than hinder them. Possibly it would also be a useful tool, to use in primary schools, as an educational aid to reduce the instances of bullying. If we can educate our young people, in primary, then this should help them to be more understanding adults. This applies to all forms of ‘special educational needs’. I do know of an instance in our family when a family member was teased at primary school because they had some speech problems. If we can reduce the instances of these kind of issues that would be a welcome and positive development for all.  With this in mind I also came across a review of The Wild Book by Margartia Eagle, on the Word by Word blog which may be of interest to families with Dyslexic children:

https://clairemca.wordpress.com

The illustrator of Jasper and The Magpie, Alex Merry, has done a fabulous job. I loved the page with the steps leading up to a massive head, a large pair of shoes left waiting at the bottom, with a colourful, almost jigsaw patterned head at the top.

The accompanying words are great:

“Jasper sometimes found it hard,

To understand what had been said,

To put himself in others shoes,

Or into someone else’s head.

But those that aren’t like Jasper,

Have a problem much the same:

For how can they jump into Jasper’s unique brain.”

The emphasis here is on uniqueness which I think is good.

Overall I enjoyed Jasper and the Magpie.

My rating:

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Author information:

Dan Mayfield is a writer and a musician who has worked with people of all ages  on the autistic spectrum for over 12 years.

http://www.enderbysroom.co.uk/music.html

 

Publisher:

Jessica Kingsley:  https://www.jkp.com/