Author Archives: Faye Avalon

Three Down and One to Go…

…quarters, that is. A couple of blog posts ago, I wrote about becoming a passionate planner. The system I use breaks the year down into four quarters, and it’s hard to believe we’re just about to move into the fourth and final quarter of the year. Where has the year gone?

Prior to discovering my inner planner, my writing schedule was a bit hit and miss. Basically it had become a ‘write when the spirit moves me‘ kind of deal, and to be brutally honest, the spirit didn’t move me that much at all!

Anyhoo, that’s all changed, and it’s time to start planning for quarter four. Moving into October means some of my quarter four planning will be geared up to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which takes place in November each year. NaNoWriMo challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel during the month. The aim is to let the words flow and get the bones of the story down so it can be edited and refined later.

To be clear for NaNo, I need to finish the first draft of book one of a new paranormal series by the end of September. Since book two is in first draft mode too, it means that October will largely be editing and revision, and hopefully even working on the third book of the series which is about thirty percent done. I also want to be planning my NaNo project ready to start on 1 November. Depending on how things go with the third book, I might even use the 50,000 NaNo words for this.

Before becoming a planner, I probably would have stressed out at the workload, but now I get to plan it all out using the system developed from working on the original course.

Easy, peasy (she says with her palms together, eyes up to heaven) or it should be if I stick to the plan, and manage to catch a following wind πŸ™‚

Oh, and something else I’ve discovered while working this whole planning deal. Stickers! Oh, how I love them, especially ones with pretty colourful shapes and inspirational quotes. They make a great motivator to get the words done, or any other task you want to complete. Just award yourself a sticker when the task is complete and pop it in your planner/diary. It’s simple, but for me it’s working so I’ll take it.

So, here’s to Quarter 4… Bring it on!

Back to the Future…

Way back in the day, I learned to type on an old black typewriter. Anyone else remember them? The ones with keys you had to bang on so hard to get them to work? And woe betide if you gathered some speed because if you typed too fast the keys would stick together and you’d get ink on your fingers separating them. Happy days. No, really, they were.

Typing stencils for use on the Gestetner machine was something else. Working with this duplicating machine you had to make sure you didn’t type too hard on the stencil, especially any letter with a circle (o, b, d, p, q), because the circle could disappear beneath a blob of ink and didn’t look too great when printed out – achieved via turning the handle on the side of the machine until you felt your arm would drop off! Any mistakes were corrected with this red fluid that if you sniffed too robustly could get you pretty high!

Things progressed pretty rapidly and soon we had the super-duper electric typewriters. Those things took some getting used to. By the time I had an electric model my speed had progressed and the thing seemed to run away with me. Thankfully tippex was around then and I made good use of it πŸ™‚

Technology moved on and I bought my first computer – an Amstrad 9512. I loved that machine and spent many happy hours on it. I went kicking and screaming into the modern computer age, and while it’s great having new technology which makes life easier (most of the time and when it works properly) I do hanker after those old manual typewriter days, especially the keyboards… Hearing the clackety-clack of productivity made my little heart sing.

When I saw they made old style keyboards I wondered if it was worth buying one and taking a trip down memory lane. Not really able to justify it, I put it on my wish list and kind of forgot about it. Then Amazon Prime Day happened and there it was at a nicely reduced price. Needless to say, it now adorns my desk πŸ™‚ It took a while to get used to as it’s so much smaller/narrower than a modern standard keyboard and it was a few days before I got used to having to press down harder on the keys again. It was hit and miss if the required key was obtained, and there was much mumbling of “this will have to go back” but after persevering I now love it. The clackety-clack is modified, but it’s there. Happy days are here again πŸ™‚

So I’m enjoying my trip down memory lane, although I have to admit that I’m not looking to go back to the days of tippex and carbon copies. No sirree.

On Becoming a Passionate Planner

I’ve never been a huge planner, by that I mean I don’t do much in the way of formal detailed planning. I set goals at the beginning of each week/month/year, but they’re usually quite general and loose, leaving wiggle room which I all too often take advantage of!

Back in January, feeling a bit demotivated and yes, lazy, I signed up for a planning course primarily but not exclusively aimed at writers. I wasn’t desperately excited about it, and saw it more as a necessary means to and end because I’d been backsliding quite considerably and felt I needed a kick up the proverbial. Plus, the course focused on three months at a time which felt fairly doable. Once signed up for the course, you are able to take it again every quarter if you need it.

At first, I struggled with the detail required and wondered if I’d made a huge mistake signing up. The problem stemmed from trying to do everything suggested and getting myself bogged down and frustrated. All that happened was that the rebel in me… well, rebelled.

The second quarter was a bit different and I started adapting the information to suit me. This is something that the course creator (who is absolutely excellent, by the way) stresses all the time – take what works for you and discard the rest. It still didn’t really resonate with me, and I still managed to get bogged down to the point of wanting to throw the whole thing in the air, but I’d paid in full so thought I’d better persevere.

I’ve just finished planning out the third quarter and actually feel like I’ve had a breakthrough. So much so that I’m now loving it! It finally feels like I have a workable plan. One that will (hopefully) work for me. I feel like I’m in control and that’s a really great feeling. So motivated am I that I even bought myself a shiny new planner folder to record everything in, plus a pretty new hole punch, some coloured pens, a paper cutter, and some sticky notes for the Kanban board (which I have learned to love with a passion).

Here’s to July, August and September. Bring it on! Ha! I’ll let you know how it goes.

How about you? Do you have a planning system that works for you?

A Month of Celebrations…

It’s been a great month with lots happening in my little corner of paradise πŸ™‚  There have been parties, new cars, cinema trips, a wedding: it’s really good to be venturing out in the big bad world again.

It was lovely to catch up with Kit recently when we were invited, along with other members of our writing group, to celebrate one of our members’ 90th birthday. What a super time we had, too – great conversation, fabulous food, a lovely happy atmosphere – and the birthday girl, Rosemary (the beautiful lady with the silver bob), had a day to remember. She’s amazing and still very much a creative, despite some health and mobility issues. Her energy and enthusiasm has always inspired us and continues to do so. She was very keen for us all to get back to our writerly meetings, or should I say lunches which always stretch way into the early evening πŸ™‚

I had to leave the party early as I had a wedding reception in the evening. My friend’s beautiful daughter, Kelly, looked absolutely stunning when she married Alex, her handsome groom, and of course Max their fur baby was there for the photographs! It was a really happy occasion and everyone had a great time. The couple left next day for their honeymoon in Mexico.

It was also our wedding anniversary this month and we celebrated with lunch and then went to collect AJ’s new car. The showroom staff knew it was our anniversary and placed a huge red bow on the car to acknowledge the day, as well as presenting us with a bottle of champagne and a ceramic feeding bowl for Vivvy, who of course had to vet the new car to make sure she was happy to ride in it πŸ™‚

Speaking of the love of our life… it’s Vivvy’s birthday next week which will be celebrated with lots of pressies, treats, walkies, and many, many cuddles and kisses.

Hope you’re having a great spring!

Once bitten…

I love spring. It’s my favourite season. The bulbs and flowers are springing into abundant life, the light evenings are stretching out, the air has the hint of warmer days to come (a bit hit and miss at the moment here in the UK where it’s currently more like January!), and the promise of long summer months stretch before us.

As much as I love spring, it has its downside. Insects! Biting ones! Especially the sneaky little blighters encountered on walks that find their way through leggings, jeans, two pairs of socks, sturdy walking boots, and manage to bite me relentlessly despite any attempt to thwart them. Walks with Vivvy are glorious right now: primroses, daffodils, tulips, bluebells – the woods are abundant with life. And I have the bites to prove that. I’ve tried every repellent I can think of: creams, lotions, vitamin tablets, but nothing seems to deter the little devils. They love me!

The itching drives me crazy, and the only thing that seems to help is the old and trusted calamine lotion. I think I keep the makers in business single-handedly this time of year πŸ™‚ The problem with that is Vivvy loves the taste and keeps trying to lick my pink-covered legs!

Me and calamine lotion go back a long way. Born and raised by the sea, I spent long sun-filled days on the beach as a teenager in the company of my older cousin. She used to mix up this concoction of olive oil and vinegar and we’d lavish it on our skins in the hope of developing a lovely suntan. I vividly remember one time when we vastly overdid it and ended up at my grandmother’s house slathered in calamine lotion and our grandfather’s old workshirts which was all we could tolerate against our sunburnt skin. Happy days!

Sewing Memories

So, with spring in the air and the clocks going forward an hour here in the UK, we decided to start clearing/decluttering our home from the top down.

The attic was first on the list. It didn’t take long as we tend to shove everything we don’t need into the garage keeping the loft relatively free, but there were several discoveries. Mostly it was old suitcases of holiday clothes (a bikini, size 12 if you please! – was that really once mine?) and equipment like snorkels, waterproof footwear for pebbly beaches, old beach mats and towels, and broken tennis and squash rackets.

The best discovery was a small case containing a real blast from the past. Loads of dressmaking patterns! I was once a very keen sewer and loved making my own clothes. I loved choosing a pattern, then the fabric, matching the thread precisely to the material – often, if I liked the style, I’d make the outfit in different fabrics. I couldn’t get enough of dressmaking back in the day and got a real buzz from it.

Pre-marriage we were keen ballroom dancers and went every week for classes (AJ loves to remind me that he once was given an award for student with the fanciest footwork!) Every Saturday we attended the dance school’s social where we could practice what we’d learned that week as well as learn a new group dance. Heck, it was fun! During the week, I’d often make a new dress specifically to wear to the Saturday dance. Yes, I was a make-a-dress-in-a-week girl. If only I could say the same about my life as a writer – imagine being a create-a-book-in a-week author!

I even found some fabric in that case in the loft so maybe one of these days I’ll turn my hand to dressmaking again – maybe a simple strappy summer shift dress? Oh, if you look closely at the bottom of the photo you’ll see the pattern I used for my wedding dress. I can only dream of the size pattern I used for it back then *sigh*

The Promise of Spring

After a winter of rain, rain, and yet more rain here in the UK, this weekend we have had an inkling that spring just might be around the corner! Yay! My favourite time of year.

This morning I actually did my yoga/meditation on the lawn, okay, I wore plenty of layers, but still. It was soooo great. I’ve had to modify my yoga practice a lot lately, thanks to bouts of dizziness that are still plaguing me, but it was amazing to have the sun on my face during practice, and of course I had my stalwart little helper doing her own version of downward facing dog (sadly one pose that is off limits for me at the moment – and it just so happens to be my favourite – *sigh*).

Yesterday, we took a walk in the woods with the sun poking its very welcome head through the trees and warming the still very muddy ground. Thanks to the rain the stream was high again (which a certain water-mad little girl thoroughly enjoyed), and there were carpets of snowdrops everywhere. We saw a few squirrels, badgers, and rabbits, all no doubt venturing out to enjoy the unexpected but extremely welcome sunshine.

This glimpse of sunshine goodness made me realise that there is still lots to be grateful for and to look forward to, despite that the world is currently in a state of such desperate turmoil. It reminded me of the importance of grabbing hold of the things we are grateful for and celebrating them when we can, keeping our focus on the good things and sending our positive energy out into the world with the hope of better times for all.

Namaste …

Crowning Glories

I love a bobble hat. No idea why, but they make me happy πŸ™‚ I have dozens, well, perhaps not dozens but I have an awful lot. My collection started relatively conservatively, with a couple of dark-coloured ones, but lately I’ve gotten much more adventurous. This is my latest acquisition – reckon people will see me coming from a mile off, but I absolutely love it!

Walking Vivvy here in the chilly UK, a good hat is an essential item to brave our winter elements. There are some really fun ones around these days, and this is next on my list (maybe I can get AJ to buy it for my as a Valentine’s gift?) What do you think? Would you wear it?

The history of the bobble hat is an interesting one. Apparently it dates as far back as the Viking era, supported by the fact that a small statue of a Norse god wearing one was discovered early in the twentieth century. Bobble hats, or pom-poms, often depicted military rank or regiment in some European nations, and it is said that sailors often wore them to stop them hitting their head on the low lying beams of a ship, especially during rough seas..

They became popular during the Depression, apparently because they were a relatively cheap way to keep heads warm. They remain an effective and economical buffer against the elements, and their growing popularity in modern times has meant that we can now access a wide array of styles and colours.

What about you? Are you a pom-pom/bobble hat lover?

Website: www.fayeavalon.com

Kindness, the greatest gift…

I hope you and yours have enjoyed a very happy, healthy, and safe festive period. It’s been another season with restrictions and cancelled/curtailed events, but I hope you managed to find some good times and reasons to celebrate even with the limitations placed on us right now.

For my December post I usually like to choose a favourite Christmas Ad shown here on British TV. As Kit said in her recent blog, the pickings have been light this year, but I did find one that spoke to me on an emotional level. I hope you enjoy it. It seems an appropriate way to round off my 2021 posts here at the Fence. Here it is:

Wishing you the happiest, healthiest, and most prosperous New Year. Let’s hope 2022 is a good one all round.

www.fayeavalon.com

Just two girls having fun…

Since AJ had to go away last week and the weather was due to be gorgeous for a couple of days (sunny, but cold) I decided to take Vivvy on a little adventure. I’d never taken her away without her beloved daddy before and did wonder if she might pine and get disoriented staying away from home for a night without AJ, but went for it anyway.

We headed to the coast which is about an hour’s drive from us. Vivvy’s not the best of travellers, but I plied her with the pet version of Rescue Remedy which seemed to keep her calm and reasonably relaxed.

Weston-super-Mare is a dog friendly town and I’d chosen a pet-friendly hotel and have to say it lived up to the description. The only place in the hotel off limits to dogs is the restaurant, but the staff set up tables in the bar for guests who wanted to keep their dogs with them during breakfast. Most people seemed to have taken up the offer because the bar was full next morning!

Vivvy loves the beach. We’d taken her to my mum’s coastal home many times but the beach there is all shingle, and this was Vivvy’s first encounter with miles of sandy seaside. She bounced around like a little lamb, so excited, then ran off to play with the other dogs, often returning to me as if to say “this is really fun and exciting, mum”. Ha!

Of course, there was the proverbial stick collecting, lying in any available pool of water, plus several deeply dug holes in the sand πŸ™‚

We were both totally pooped that night having walked the length of the beach (my fitbit clocked over 18,000 steps) and were both out for the count well before midnight. But then I was woken by a paw tapping my shoulder at 4.40am wanting the inevitable night-time trip outside. Duly wrapped up against the icy night, we headed down to reception where I apologised for them having to unlock the main doors, only to be told cheerily that it certainly wasn’t the first time that night they’d had to open the doors for four-legged residents!

After breakfast next morning we took another long walk on the beach before heading home. It turned out to be a great mini break for both us girls and I won’t hesitate to do it again. Vivvy proved once again that we can take her anywhere. She is such a good girl, well-behaved, and adaptable … even without her beloved daddy in tow πŸ™‚

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