Counting Tomatoes

September – gosh, what a year. It is only now that I’m feeling better that I realise just how ill I have been. I haven’t blogged or vlogged for a very long time!
Scary.
Somehow, and despite all advice I received at the start of the year, I carried on juggling paid work and did my best to fulfill commitments. Result? I got fatigued. But now months down the line, I’ve ended up with a diagnosis, and I’ve sort of come to terms with the fact I need to make significant changes in my lifestyle.
So, now it is the not so simple task and putting said changes into action.

1. Remembering and consistently taking my medication.
2. Adopting a ‘spoon’ lifestyle – more about that another day.
3. Initially, checking in with my better half when accepting work to stop becoming over committed.
4. And not beat myself up about my editing/writing goals – but carry on using what I call, my tomato technique.

It’s actually called the Pomodoro Technique, and it’s a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo and was super big in the 90’s, when I sort of stopped using this method when an evil ex broke my egg timer. So I was trying to recover, and feeling guilty and frustrated about the lack of work I was doing when fellow SCBWI member and picture book author Chitra Sounar challenged people to doing tomatoes on Facebook. It was just the gentle nudge I needed.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The pomodoro technique is a proven and popular time management life hack.
The main premise behind the technique is to work in blocks of time, typically 25 minutes long (called pomodoro sessions), followed by a 5 minute break. Each pomodoro session should demand your full attention on one task, every break requires you to step away from your work to rest.
The result is greatly improved productivity during focused work sessions that can be maintained through effectively managing distractions and taking regular breaks.

Cheap as chips, you don’t even have to buy a timer, you can use your phone or the many free apps on line.
Like everything there are good and bad points. Do really successful people need a timer ticking away? It’s all or nothing, you have to do your twenty five minutes to get your tick in the box.

But – this tried and tested method had meant that over the summer I have done something. No I am not at the point I wanted to be at. And some days I only managed one tomato. But I have been able to chip away at a mammoth task.
So, the glorious six weeks of the summer with my girls has helped me put things into perspective. We have had some amazing days out, squeezed into my oldest daughter work heavy schedule. I have had a massive Spring? Summer? Nearly Autumn clean. Sorted out the car and the garden. And best of all got back to looking forward.

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Baubles Book Launch

front-cover

Saturday 3rd of December was the book launch of Bridge House Publishing latest anthology. So few publishing houses are willing to invest in short stories, so I was especially delighted to be included in the ‘Baubles’ collection. The launch, held in London, and since I have just completed my Master’s degree, my lovely husband offered to take me to lunch in the city. We found a delightful pub called The Mudlarks near London Bridge and found a quiet corner. After a carb loaded meal to keep the cold out we ventured to a new part of London, Chalk Farm and off to the launch. Gill James is a fellow SCBWI member and is on the Words and Pictures team, so it was fantastic to meet a Facebook friend and colleague in the flesh.
It was a fun afternoon of networking with other authors, listening to readings and a surprising bit of marketing training from Gill’s daughter.
The Baubles anthology can be purchased:
Baubles via Amazon
If you are looking for a place to submit short stories, it is well worth taking a look at the Bridge House page: Brigde House Publishing

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DArk to DArker Shivering or Not

https://youtu.be/ayvFyy86hPc
My writing group, The Writers at Lovedean, are excited to be part of this year’s line-up of DArk to DArker Shivering or Not. Together with my daughter’s audiovisual team, A14 Productions we have created a sound box where the audience can feel what it would be like to a medium.

The talented group of writers include; Lynne Stone, Barbara McMeekin, Jackie Green, Linda Rushby, Jules Garvey Welch, David Dunford, Keith Baker, Kate Rawding, Louise Crockford, Christine Lawrence, John Palmer and myself.
This is a free event, and I hope you can come along.

Saturday 26th November, 7 pm -1 am
DArk or DArker Shivering or Not!
Coastguard Studio, 91 Clarendon Road, Southsea, PO4 0SA

A night of audio-visual performance, installations, live artists and theatre makers, all exploring the DarkFest themes. Hosted by 1000 Plateaus.
one000plateaus.com/darkordarker/
FREE (donations welcome)

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Baubles Anthology

baubles-anthology-cover
Bridge House Publishing is an independent publishing house that specialises in fiction which is a little bit different. They focus mainly on short story collections. It is run by writers for writers they do it all for love but we like to give new writers a voice.

The challenge was to write a bauble of a story.

I submitted and was delighted to be included in the anthology. Baubles will be launched in London on 3rd of December. I am looking forward to meeting Gill James, Bridge House Editor, in person, she has worked so hard in getting the anthology together and even made a Youtube link.
Youtube video of the book : https://youtu.be/kfuaSO45P5k
If you are interested in submitting to Bridge House their website can be found here:
http://www.bridgehousepublishing.co.uk/

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Short Story Competition

https://youtu.be/ayvFyy86hPc
The Writers at Lovedean Short Story Competition
Theme: Movement

Maximum length: 1200 words

Entry fee £3 per story, with a maximum of three entries per person.

The Writers at Lovedean want to support Portsmouth MS Society. Therefore we are running a short story competition. The members have DONATED the prize money so that ALL entry fees will be donated to Portsmouth MS Society.

Closing date: 31st January 2017

Winner announced: April 2017

PRIZES
1st: £50
2nd: £35
3rd: £25

The Writers @ Lovedean Short Story Competition in support of Portsmouth MS Society

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Day of the Dead 2016

Oh, what a night! I feel so privileged to be included in this event, and working with some of Portsmouth’s greatest talent. It was an evening of laughs, thrills, scares and toe-tapping music and I loved it all.
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This year’s line-up was incredible, poets Maggie Sawkins, Sue Spiers and Lord Byro gave a fantastic look into the macabre. The thoughts of a night porter were particularly illuminating and will certainly make me think before arriving at a hotel after check in. We had stories from Tony Noon, Jacqui Pack, James Bicheno and Justin MacCormack. Which included a deal made with a demon for the secret of writing success. A gothic mix from Alan Morris added to the atmosphere of the evening.

The square tower shivered to the rhythm of songs performed by Philip Jeays, Jamie West, Gareth Rees and his friend.

Christine Lawrence buried a cat on stage, while Tom Harris cleaned up the blood. There were more stories from V H Leslie, Diana Bretherick and the evening ended when Matt Wingett turned a gun on the audience.

Best of all my husband found my perfect Christmas present from Headcase Curios.

Sunday also marked the book launch of The Day of the Dead anthology; copies can be found for Blackwells.
If you are interested in Day of the Dead, why not check out their Facebook page?
https://www.facebook.com/events/252124021849520/

Don’t forget there is more fun next week, Sunday 6th of November, 6:30 at the Square Tower, you can see the Dark Songs. https://www.wegottickets.com/event/375811

A couple of plugs for my mates, the remarkable playwright Zella Compton latest play Genghis – The Truth is on at the New Theatre Royal on Saturday 5th November, 7.30 pm.

Genghis

There is a Dark Victorian event at Blackwells on Wednesday 9th November. A panel of novelists and academics talk about the dark side of Victorian life. Local author Diana Bretherick will launch her latest novel, The Devil’s Daughters. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dark-victorians-panel-discussion-and-book-launch-tickets-28548403042?aff=es2

Matt Wingett, who gave a successful talk at my writing group earlier in the year, will be giving a lecture about the creator of Sherlock Holmes and his relationship with spiritualism. That’s at Portsmouth Temple of Spiritualism, Southsea, PO5 2BU on Friday 11th November. http://www.mattwingett.com/conan-doyle-and-his-belief-in-ghosts-a-talk/

Dr Karl Bell and Diana Bretherick will be giving a public talk on how the Victorian media created two Jacks, the demonic Spring-heeled Jack, and the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Wednesday 16th November, 7.00 pm Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/making-urban-monsters-spring-heeled-jack-and-jack-the-ripper-tickets-28512409384

The Portsmouth Writers Hub is running a workshop based on an authors’ roundtable discussion about the character of the ‘femme fatale’. Feel free to dress up for the occasion.

Featuring Diana Bretherick, Steph Broadribb aka Crime Thriller Girl, Cal Moriarty. VH Leslie and Carolyn Hughes. Thursday 24th November, 6.30 -8.30 pm Eldon building Uni of P’mouth Winston Churchill Ave PO1 2DJ.

Don’t forget The Writers at Lovedean are producing some work at Dark or Darker Shivering or Not! Coastguard Studio, 91 Clarendon Road, Southsea, PO4 0SA Saturday 26th November, 7 pm -1 am. It will be a fabulous evening of audio-visual performance, installations, live artists and theatre makers, all exploring the DarkFest themes. Hosted by 1000 Plateaus. one000plateaus.com/darkordarker/

I intend to end November at a book launch I am included in! The launch of Dark City, an anthology of scary Portsmouth stories by local authors. Wednesday 30th November, Hunter Gatherer Café, Albert Road, PO4 0JR. 7 – 9 pm

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How positive people aid success!

It’s been an exciting week on the writing front, requests for full MS, one of my short stories appearing in The News, and lots of support for The Writers at Lovedean writing competition. However, as delighted as I am with the input of good news, I am aware that I couldn’t have done it alone.

Since Tessa Ditner took over running Portsmouth Writing Hub, there has been a flurry of opportunities for creatives. If you suggest something to Tessa, she does her best to make your idea a reality; I believe a member made a comment about collaborating with The News, and now hub member’s stories are in print. All writers understand the thrill of seeing your words in front of an audience, but there is always behind the scenes hard graft to any printed piece of work. Portsmouth Writing Hub is a fantastic resource for artists, but you get what you put into the group. Although there is support for book launches and writers angst, it is mainly a home for positivity, a spot where creatives can discuss plans for creating art and liaising with others to make something new and awesome. You only have to look at the projects that are supported by the hub to see that, Darkfest, Day of the Dead, Dark Cities, and the Edward King Cityscape Project. These aren’t the activities of naval gazing writers lamenting how hard it is to get published; it is an energetic and vibrant mix of creatives wanting to push the boundaries of their work. My advice, don’t sit on the sidelines jump in and see where the opportunities take you!

I was delighted that Solent TV invited two members of The Writers at Lovedean into their studio to discuss our first charity short story competition. Long-time member Lynne Stone and relatively new member Jackie Green bravely stepped in front of the cameras. These two ladies are examples of what real creatives can do; they are delightful members of the group with such an inspiring ‘what can we do to help’ attitude. I know they were both terrified at the prospect of appearing live on TV, but they did a fantastic job.

You can read my story in the news here:
Short Story Punkat By Charlotte Comley in the Portsmouth News

Check out Portsmouth Writing Hub:
Portsmouth Writing Hub Facebook Page

The Short Story Competition:
The Writers @ Lovedean Short Story Competition

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Day of the Dead IV

https://youtu.be/yQM9Wq-QVrY
Due to a family emergency, I wasn’t able to perform at last year’s Day of the Dead event, and I was gutted. But I am delighted to be performing in this year’s event. If you haven’t been, I can recommend a great evening of song and spoken word. Dress up is welcome and at this year’s event, I believe there is a photo booth to have a bit of spooky fun.

Stories and songs to chill, thrill, and amuse from Hampshire’s most talented. The evening includes the launch of the Day of the Dead Anthology.

Tickets – £4 (concessions), £7 (full price):https://www.wegottickets.com/event/375714
Sun 30th October, 6-9.30pm
Square Tower, Broad Street, PO1 2JE

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The Brighton Color Run and Portsmouth MS


Yes, I know, they have used the American spelling for ‘color.’

Over twelve months ago my dearest youngest daughter announced she would like to do a colour run. However, I wasn’t going to let my daughter do it alone, so I trained hard for 12 months to be able to run the rather small distance of 5K. Twelve months later I was ready, and my daughter was no longer interested in running! Typical.

Part of being an anxious bod means that when I start something, I find it hard not to complete – so I decided I would still do it. At the same time, a dear friend of mines daughter had just been diagnosed with MS, so I did a sponsored run.

I would just like to thank all the people who sponsored me. We now have an amazing £170 to donate to Portsmouth MS Society!

Many many thanks.

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Day of the Dead iv: Shhhhh

I am wildly excited to be performing in this year’s Day of the Dead. This is the brain child of author Will Sutton, and it’s great fun. I do hope some of you will be able to come along.

Day of the Dead iv: Shhhhh
6pm Sunday 30 Oct, Square Tower, Broad St, PO1 2JE
Shhhh.

Stories to still shaky souls.
Fancy dress.
Refreshments. Costumes. Poisons. Stories.
Tickets £7: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/375714
or £4 concession: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/375715

Refreshments at the The Square Tower.
Books from Blackwell’s in Portsmouth.
Poison bottles by James Waterfield from Lawn of the Dead UK.
Costumier advice from Tony and Zoe of Head Case Curios.
Pixel Art with Kendal James of Eyecandy.

Unbeatable line-up of writers & musicians.
See you there.

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