Friday, February 29, 2008

2008 Friday fun 6

Duncan Edwards (October 1, 1936 - February 21, 1958) was an English footballer who played for Manchester United and the England national team. He was one of the Busby Babes, the young United team formed under manager Matt Busby in the mid 1950s, and one of eight players who died as a result of the Munich air disaster.

Born in Dudley, Edwards signed for Manchester United as a teenager and went on to become the youngest player to play in the Football League First Division and the youngest England player since the Second World War. In a professional career of less than five years he helped United to win two Football League championships and reach the semi-finals of the European Cup. Although he survived the crash of the team's aeroplane at Munich in February 1958, he died as a result of his injuries 15 days later. It has been claimed by those who saw Edwards play that, had he not died young, he would have gone on to become one of the all-time footballing greats
(Courtesy of wikipedia)
Ithought this would be an interesting post given the recent anniversary of the Munich disaster. The statue in the picture stands in the market place in Dudley and a memorial service attended by hundreds of people was held there only last week.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shake it up

There was an earthquake last night. Just after midnight Mr Nell and I woke up to a strange noise and the odd sensation of our bed shaking like a funfair ride. The pipes in the house were knocking and it took us a moment to realise what it was. Apparantly it scored 5.3 on the richter scale with the epicentre being fifty miles outside Sheffield, so bigger than our last quake but thankfully further away. The last one had an epicentre three miles from my house!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dangerous to Know - first review!

Four coffee cups and a wonderful review from the lovely Krista.Read it here
She said this, amongst other nice stuff, This story had me going from the very start. I was curious to find out what was going to happen to them and if Gemma would finally realize all she needed to do to feel better was be true to herself. I like the way Gemma figures things out even though it takes a while. I also like Jerome being so careful about things. He is a sweetie. I enjoyed this book a lot and eagerly anticipate the next one by this author.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

By Request part 2

Janet asked how I keep the books separate in my head when I'm working on simultaneous projects.
This depends on what the projects are. It's easier if they are totally different in nature. For example I'm currenty working on Animal Instincts which is romantic comedy, first person, chic lit style and All She Ever Wanted (naff title) which is third person, womens fiction, totally different style.
To give an example:
Sat - write 1k on AI and 500wds ASEW
Sun - finish chap of AI send to Jess, my cp.
Mon - think about AI and add some layers to earlier chapters.
Tue - Work on first chapter of ASEW
Fri - edit returned chapter of AI from Jess and write 500 words of AI

This was this week, slower pace than usual as I've just returned to work but you can see I move in and out of the two projects.

If the projects are similar then I separate the workload. I'll complete one chapter on project A and send it to Jess then the folowing week i'll complete a chapter of project B and so on until finished.

Keep the questions coming.

Friday, February 22, 2008

2008 Friday fun 5

Aynuk and Ayli are standing in Aynuks back garden, Aynuks next door neighbour is running up and down his back garden pretending he's riding a motorbike.
Ayli says, "whats up wi im?"
Aynuk says, "tek no notice he's saft in the yed he thinks he's in the Isle o mon in the TT rerces."
Ayli says, "but he ay got a bike yo orter tell him,"
"Bugger off." says Aynuk, "he pays me a fiver a wik to clean it."

Courtesy of Dave Clark, Shropshire

Aynuk and Ayli had had an argument and hadn't spoken to each other for over a month. One day Aynuk see's Ayli walking towards him on the opposite side of the road and being the more Forgiving calls to him, "is that yo Ayli?"
A voice comes back, "no it ay,"
Aynuk say's "well bugger yer then. This ay me neither."

Courtesy of Dave Clark, Shropshire

Ayli sees Aynuk in a railway cutting sprinting along in front of a train.
Ayli : Hey Aynuk. Why don't yer run up the bonk?
Aynuk : If I cor bayt it on the straight I cor bayt it up the bonk!

courtesy of Hugh Knight

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

By Request

A few people have asked me to blog about writing more than one book at the same time. Everyone I know who does this tackles it slightly differently. I can only talk about how I work.
The key to writing more than one project is time management. Which sounds boring and probably isn't the answer you all expected. Most people are actually working on more than one thing at once if you think about it.
Don't believe me?
Well, how many times have you been half way through book A and had a stonking idea for book B? You may not actually write anything on book B as you might be focused or be on a tight deadline for book A. So you might think, I can only write one thing at any one time.
Wrong - in your subconcious book B is slowly taking shape, the idea is growing and lurking.
Does that sound familiar?
For me, what I do when managing more than one book is time management. I have a deadline for book A so I plan a comfortable target each week that I need to fulfil in order to reach that deadline. I try and build in extra time in case of life interfering, holidays, illness etc.
I may also have book B, same process. I know how much I can write in a week and I know how fast I can go if there's a crisis.
For example if book A is a light, bright rom com my chapters tend to be around 2.5k in rough draft, then increasing to 3+k after editing. So I'll aim for one chapter a week, two if it's the only project I'm working on.
Book B might be longer chapters, deeper more intense, 5K, so again I aim for one per week.
Total per week is aprox 7.5K for two books which is only 1k and a bit per day. Not too scary - if real ife is busy I may only do 500 per day.
This is to complete my rough draft, I underwrite my books and add in layers when I edit/adit.
Edit/aditing is a whole other post.
Please ask any questions in the comments and I'l try to answer.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunny side up

Today was my first day back since my treatment to my leg. So far so good, leg is still on lol. It's just so nice to be getting my life back. Talking of my life, I've generally been doing some reorganising and hopefully I'll be making some positive changes soon.
Still no news on Charlie Darling - but I'm working on my 'big book' and started doing some tidying on Animal Instincts before I write the last few chapters. I've lots of things going into my ideas file for future stories too, so at the moment it's all good.
Isn't it amazing the difference a bit of sunshine makes?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

More sun!

It's been chilly but sunny here today. We had a drive out to collect Mr Nell's new car. The countryside looked so lovely with a crisp white frost, bright blue sky and faint mist clinging to the ground in the fields. There was even a hot air balloon floating overhead.
I finished the sixteenth chapter of Animal Instincts and sent it off to Jess in between organising all the different pick ups and drop offs for dance rehearsals and cooking dinner. Phew! The show is in four weeks, Alice in Wonderland this year and I've heaps of costumes to label and hang, elastics to stitch, Boo needs new ballet shoes and eldest needs new tapshoes. Great.
Now to find all the school stuff ready for tomorrow and Tuesday because it would be too easy if they all went back the same day.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

My daughters - the loan sharks

Boo bought two new hairbands from Claire's accessories the other day. I was a bit surprised to see eldest dd wearing one of them as Boo tends to guard her fashion items. Then I discovered she was renting her hairband out - 20p a day!

Friday, February 15, 2008

2008 Friday fun 4

I thought today we'd have a recipe. This one is taken from Marjorie Cashmore's book "A Feast of Memories: Black Country Food and Life at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century" which was published in 1986 by Westwood Press.

Groaty Pudding or Groaty Dick

0.5 lb groats 1 bay leaf (optional)
1.5 lbs shin of beef Hot water to cover
1lb leeks Salt and Pepper
2 medium sized onions

Cut the beef into bite-size pieces, slice the leeks and onions. Place all the ingredients in a stew jar or casserole dish and bake slowly for at least three hours, longer if possible. Serve with crusty bread. A thicker version of this, with more groats and less meat, was all some families could afford. It was spread on bread so that each member could have something warm and filling.

(Marjorie says that groats are oats with the husks removed but before they are ground to produce oatmeal or steamed then rolled to make rolled oats or flakes. Groats have the highest nutritional value of any cereal.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day

Everywhere you go in the blogosphere writers are posting pictures of potential heroes and generally yummy men. So, purely to play along of course, with no self interest whatsoever, here's a pic of my fantasy valentine - Bryan Adams.

(Mr Nell and I have an agreement that I can drool over Bryan so long as I make myself scarce should Linda Lusardi ever come knocking for him)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bye bye baby

My beautiful Kia Sorento left for its new home today. Sniff. At least it's one of the items on my to do list sorted. My list is growing by the minute. Tomorrow I tackle the increasing mound of paperwork I have to fill out and post.
My fish are looking so much better - the fishybiotics are like a miracle cure. I'm so relieved, I hate seeing my animals ill.
In writerly mode I'm pottering on with Animal Instincts, I can sit a little more comfortably now providing I take my breaks so I should pick up speed again in the next few weeks. The first draft is almost complete, lamentably short if I keep to my original targets but I think I'll end up with a couple of extra chapters and I know I have several scenes to add in plus some emotional layering.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Drillings and fillings.

Middle belle had a teeny tiny filling. She attempted to talk all the way through it and told the dentist that the sucker tickled. Youngest has lovely teeth but not necessarily in the right place, he assures me they wil move into position as she loses more baby teeth. She has a small jaw though so wil need a brace later. Eldest belle also had a filling as she has very soft teeth. This is inherited so not much we can do about it. She got a reprieve for another six months on the brace decision but judging by her squeamishness just for a tiny filling I'm not looking forward to it.
My GP has agreed to let me try going back to work - yay! I've promised to be good and do my exercises, take my painkillers and to use a stick if needed.
The fish are looking better after just one dose of fishybiotics - phew.
The sun is shining, the belles are rollerblading in front of the house and my lounge is still full of gorgeous flowers from my birthday.
My friend Michelle Styles - a fountain of wisdom and generally fab person - has some good words of advice for writing on her blog today. (Link is in my sidebar)

Monday, February 11, 2008


My poor little Platy died and two others have mild symptoms. The fish man says it's stress and has sold me some special fishy biotics which he assures me will cure them in three days. I hope so, I'm very fond of my fish.
This week is set to be a whirlwind of medical appointments. If all goes well I'll be starting back to work on Monday. The girls all have appointments with Georgeous George our lovely Vin Diesel lookalike dentist today so we might get eldest dd to agree to a brace. Poor thing will need about eight extractions first to make room.
My Kia is sold and going on Wednesday if all goes to plan then we will have to manage with Rosy - the new auto till we can collect the new car which will then be Mr Nell's transport.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Fishy tails

One of my Platys has been bullied by his tank mates and has fin rot so he's in an isolation bag in the main tank being treated with stress coat. Poor baby.
I had a nice quiet birthday, had a lovely visit from my three year old neice armed with some flowers she'd chosen herself. There were even some heads left on.
Then I got a really super phonecall about a writing project. I can't say anything yet as I don't know if I can go public and it's nothing definite or paid for but it is something special.
Hip is improving slowly and I'm being very virtuous about sticking to my limitations. Mainly because Mr Nell is policing me and the belles are like a choral concience.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Yep, today's my birthday and I'll be (mumble-mumble) years old. What was that? Oh, you didn't catch my age - eighteen - yep, that's what I am in my head anyway.
So, what wild excitement do I have planned for today I hear you ask?
Um, nothing. The eldest belle is off to the theatre tonight to see Stomp with her school and since my leg feels like it's going to fall off still I'm going to be at home. Feeling old.
Hopefully, we're going out for a meal with friends tomorrow, we have a pub very close to my house so if it's too much I can come home. Maybe I should be eighty eight instead?
I've had some gorgeous flowers - I LOVE flowers and some of my youngest belles favourite kind of presents (flat ones bearing the queens head) Yummy choccys from the belgian choccy shop and some glittery socks. I LOVE socks, wierd of me I know but I seriously do love socks. So it's a nice quiet day for me - but it'll be a nice one. Money, flowers, chocolate and socks - bring on a book and a glass of wine and I'm a happy bunny.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Reasons to be cheerful

I finally had a response from M&B on my request for a status update on Charlie. Hopefully I might hear something soon. Obviously I'm hoping it'll be good but I've kind of accepted that it may not be. Fingers crossed though and at least I know it hasn't been R'd and I didn't know which was my big fear after all this time.
I need to see my GP to get permission to go back to work, it looks as if it will be a staged return on restrictions but at least things are moving.
My leg still hurts but is getting better. I'm walking better although my balance is a bit iffy and I can sit on a chair for about fifteen minutes now.
I'm enjoying reading all the reports and seeing the pictures of the RNA lunch and so looking forward to hearing about the M&B 'do'. When the highlight of your week is a supervised trip to Aldi you need to live vicariously.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Getting the needle

Congratulations to the lovely Kate Hardy on winning the romance prize for Breakfast at Giovanni's. She is now the proud keeper of the Betty Neels rosebowl for this year. There is a lovely account on her blog and pictures - link is in my sidebar.

I finaly got my injections yesterday. I still feel a bit as if a horse has kicked me but already the nagging ache has gone and Mr Nell says I'm walking better. I hope the treatment lasts a full year as it was really painful - worse than when I've had my spinals. I've been told I'll be sore for a few days then I need to move the joint and see how much movement I have. I have a meeting tomorrow with occupational health so we can plan a return to work and hopefully with my new little car I can pick up my life again.

I still need to sell Baby, my darling Kia, I hate advertising cars - why does it always bring out the nutters? But that should be sorted in the next couple of weeks then we can collect the new big car for Mr Nell.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tomorrow is the big day!

Not just for me, as I'm supposed to have my injections in my hip tomorrow but also because it's the RNA's award day.
I have lots of my friends shortlisted for The Romance Prize so I can't play favourites as all the books were wonderful. I so wish I could be there to see who wins and to have a glass or two of something to help celebrate. Last year I was so nervous all I drank all day was tonic water until right at the end when the lovely Biddy insisted I had a gin. (I don't like champagne)
I'm looking forward to finally being out of pain so I can resume something like my normal life although I have been warned that I will feel worse for a few days before the treatment kicks in.

Friday, February 01, 2008

2008 Friday fun 3

Todays post concerns an extraordinary woman and one I have a personal connection to. Her name was Sister Dora. I have always been very proud to say I am a Sister Dora nurse. I trained at the Sister Dora school of nursing and still have my silver graduation pins and my little blue book containing her story that we were all given at our presentation.
I have also 'met' her ghost - but I'll save that story for another time. Here is a potted history of Walsall's own Florence Nightingale courtesy of Walsall History Museum.
Dorothy Wyndlow Pattison (1832-1878) was born at Hauxwell, Yorkshire, youngest daughter of the village rector. Dorothy wanted to join Florence Nightingale in the Crimea, but her strict father refused permission. In 1861, when nearly 30, Dorothy escaped her unhappy home life and began teaching at Little Woolston (near Newport Pagnell), where she took to visiting and nursing the poor and sick of the parish.

In September 1864, she entered the Christ Church Sisterhood, an Anglican convent at Coatham, near Middlesborough, adopting the name Sister Dora. She trained as a nurse at the Order's cottage hospital at North Ormesby.

Having no hospital, Walsall sent its many accident cases nine miles by cart to Birmingham Hospital. In 1859, the town sent the Birmingham Hospital a modest donation, which prompted the Hospital Secretary to reply, "The Hospital authorities would thank the people of Walsall to send more money and fewer patients". The insult was furiously resented. A hospital committee was formed and a small four-bed cottage hospital opened at 4 Bridge Street in 1863, in the charge of Sister Mary Jacques of the Coatham convent. The hospital was primarily an accident centre, and medical wards were not introduced until 1894.

Industrial accidents abounded in the area, which included clay pits, 13 blast furnaces, 39 collieries and 250 saddlery workshops. The hospital grew and by the end of 1864 had 14 beds. In January 1865, Sister Mary fell ill and Sister Dora replaced her on 8 January 1865. She returned north after two months, but was back permanently by November. In her first year, Sister Dora assisted in 1,156 minor operations and helped nurse 147 in-patients. The hospital was badly overcrowded and understaffed, yet the death rate among victims of serious accidents in Walsall Hospital was under 5%, compared with 6% at the big London teaching hospitals.

In 1867, the Hospital Committee converted a large house called 'The Mount', flanking Wednesbury Road, into a hospital, costing £2,000. Typical of Sister Dora's concern for local folk was her work at the Pelsall Colliery disaster in November 1872. Floodwater trapped 22 men for 5 days and eventually they died of exposure and starvation. During the week their women waited at the pit-head, Sister Dora lived among them, organising food, hot drinks, blankets and shelter for them and their children. Sister Dora did for the industrial workers of Walsall what Florence Nightingale had done for the military casualties of the Crimea. Their gratitude was expressed in June 1873, when a group of railway workers, all ex-patients, presented Sister Dora with a pony and carriage, for which the men had saved £50 from their small wages.

Smallpox, a great scourge of industrial areas, reached Walsall in February 1875. An epidemic hospital had been opened by the local Board of Guardians by 1872, but Walsall people were reluctant to go there because of its associations with the Workhouse and poor record for patient care and recovery. Sister Dora took charge so there would be more faith in the hospital. The local Medical Officer of Health later reported that only the work of the epidemic hospital under Sister Dora had kept the epidemic in check. The chaplain of the Sisterhood in Coatham objected to Sister Dora going to the epidemic hospital without informing him and so she resigned from the Order in the summer of 1875, to devote herself to the people of Walsall.

On 15 October 1875 an overloaded blast furnace exploded at the Green Lane furnaces of Jones and Son, ironfounders, and 16 men were terribly burned. As there were no spare beds, Sister Dora sent an entire ward home, scrubbed and disinfected it and prepared for casualties. Local doctors worked until four the following morning treating survivors. Three were killed outright and five were transferred to other wards. Sister Dora nursed the remaining eight hopeless cases for almost two weeks, until the last died. Due to infections from the burns victims, the old hospital had to be closed early in 1876.

Temporary premises were set up in Bridgeman Place while a new hospital was built, incorporating a specially decorated sitting room for Sister Dora. She was destined never to use it. In 1877, she discovered she had cancer and, although the new hospital opened in November 1878, she was then too ill to leave her bed to see it. After visiting Paris in July 1878, Sister Dora had gone to Birmingham, where she had collapsed. The following day she insisted: "Let me go back to Walsall, that I may die among my own people". The Hospital Committee provided a small cottage in Wednesbury Road, where Sister Dora spent her last days. She passed away on 24 December 1878.

The funeral, on 28 December, was attended by the Mayor and Corporation and clergy of every denomination, including two Bishops. The coffin was borne by 18 railwaymen to Queen Street cemetery. In silence the people of Walsall poured from their homes to pay Sister Dora a last tribute. A police cordon at the gates was powerless to stop them swarming into the cemetery to witness the burial.

A stained glass window at St. Matthew's Church in memory of Sister Dora was dedicated in 1882, and her statue on the Bridge was unveiled in October 1886, having cost £1,200, paid for by a fund which ran for seven years. The original white marble, badly affected by pollution, was replaced by the present bronze replica in 1957, and still gazes fondly down on the people of Walsall today.

Sister Dora is still much loved and revered by the Walsall people. She also lent her name to the modern day white cap still worn by some nurses - it is the Sister Dora cap. Her statue was the first in Engand to be erected to a non royal female.