Author Archives: Faye Avalon

Author Parties and Aching Thighs…

At the beginning of September I attended my first lunch/cocktail party given by my dream publisher. I was pretty excited and a tad nervous, too, but I was lucky to attend with a dear friend of mine who has been an author with this publisher for many years. My friend decided this was going to be a really special and memorable day for me. It was certainly that, and for more reasons than anticipated.

We took the train to London and headed to the venue close to London Bridge. We had a great lunch and I spent most of the time fan-girling and meeting authors I’d read for many years. They were all really lovely and so welcoming. Then it came time for the cocktail party held across the road at the publisher’s HQ. Since this happened to be on the 18th floor, it meant negotiating an elevator! As I’m slightly claustrophobic, this did not fill me with glee. But having gritted my teeth and made it up there, I was rewarded by the most spectacular views across London, and again made to feel very welcome by authors and staff. The whole experience was great.

Too soon it was time to leave and head back to Paddington for the journey home. Since my friend was already waiting back at the lunch venue (long story), I said my goodbyes and headed out to the bank of elevators.  Somehow I took a wrong turn and ended up walking through a small corridor and into a landing which contained access to the stairs as well as a lone elevator with no call button! Realizing my mistake, I tried to get back to the main area, but since I was a visitor and had no security card, the door had closed behind me and I couldn’t get back out. I had no choice but to start walking down the stairs.

By this time most of the building was empty and it was getting dark outside. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to get out. There was no cell phone signal so I couldn’t call anyone, no sounds except my footsteps echoing as I hurried down the stone stairs, and no sign of anybody. I was starting to panic. Breathless, I made it to the basement only to find a barred and alarmed door with a warning that it was to be opened only in an emergency. I had visions of setting off alarms. the building being evacuated, and the London Fire Brigade summoned. There was no option but to start walking back up, checking each floor along the way to see if there was any sign of life outside the locked and secured landing, and hoping to find help. By this time, I had visions of getting stuck there forever.

I made it back up to the 6th floor, heart pounding, legs shaking, lungs burning, and on checking the landing saw a huge red phone on the wall. ‘This phone will alert security’ it declared. ‘Please do not use unless in an emergency’. Well, I didn’t really have any choice, did I? Within seconds, a man answered. Sheer relief made me babble…

“Please help me,” I virtually wailed. “I’m stuck in the stairwell on the 6th floor!”

There was a slight hesitation. “Why don’t you use your security pass to get out, madam?”

“I don’t have one. I’m a visitor at a party on the 18th floor.”

Another hesitation. “Then what are you doing on the 6th floor, madam?”

I went through the whole sorry tale and several minutes later a lovely security guard arrived to free me. I almost hugged him, I was so happy to see him.

When I met up with my friend she was starting to get frantic, not knowing where I’d been. After much commisseration, a stiff drink or two, and some much needed chocolate to calm my still raw nerves, we ended up being able to laugh about it. On the train home we decided that at least the objective for the day had been met. My first author lunch/party with my dream publisher had certainly been memorable.

And I’ve still got sore and aching thigh muscles to prove it!

 

 

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Movie Magic…

I love the cinema. It’s one of my favourite ways to relax. We’ve seen some really great movies lately, such as Rocketman, Yesterday and, unexpectedly, Mary Poppins Returns. Yeah, I’m still a kid at heart. It’s not unusual to find me searching for a young ‘un to drag to the cinema to watch the latest Disney, or in the absence of an appropriate little person my mother gets the job. She’s game for anything…some of you might remember the Aquaman experience?

Anyway, last week we saw The Lion King. I’ve never gotten around to seeing the live show at the theatre (secretly preferring the screen to the stage) and I wasn’t expecting such an amazing movie. How on earth these creative artists and technicians manage to capture such magic on film has my total and utter respect. It was incredible, and it wasn’t long before I was totally absorbed in the story.

Now, I’m pretty stoic when watching movies and during the sad parts I remind myself that it’s only a movie and focus on where the cameras are placed to get the right angle for the shot, and how the actors are depicting the emotion, etc. (the writer in me, of course, and a little harp back to childhood when I dreamed of being a movie director). Yes, usually I can cope with that little tightness in the throat at the sad parts and get through it.

The Lion King had me blubbing like a baby.  I mean, tissue to the ready kind of blubbing. It’s the animals, I’ve always been a sucker. Can I just say Lassie, War Horse, and let’s not even mention Bambi. Okay, let’s mention Bambi. I think this is where my sad-animal-film-blubbing took root. My lovely dad always liked to tell people that when he took me to see the movie as a child, I cried so hard when Bambi’s mother died that he almost had to take me out of the cinema because I was setting all the other kids off with my wailing.

It’s not just films that have this effect on me though, I also cry at TV ads that involve animals. What a sucker 🙂

How about you? What gets you reaching for the tissues at the movies?

 

When is enough too much?

So this week I went shopping with a friend who wanted to buy two new bras. After trying on what seemed like the whole shop, she eventually found the perfect pairs and all was well. It was a blistering hot day and by the time we got back to her place we were both gasping for something cold to drink. We sat under the shade in her garden and I spotted several pairs of lovely lacy bras in a variety of colours drying on the washing line. Why did she need more pairs, I asked? Her reply was that she wants her bra to match her outfit. What? Needless to say, I felt woefully inadequate with just a black bra, a white bra, and a flesh-coloured bra, in my possession, but they serve me well enough.

IMG_20190723_211537_706Before I left, my friend showed me one of her ‘bra’ drawers. I counted twelve pairs, plus the five on her washing line, and the two new pairs she’d just purchased.

20190728_144159I was still pondering on this the next day as I put away some freshly-ironed clothes and realised I shouldn’t have been so quick to tease her on her bra fetish. I counted fifteen pairs of leggings. Okay, I do yoga and attend classes regularly, but fifteen? I certainly won’t be needing any more pairs anytime soon, but then I did just see this adorable pair online…and sixteen is such a nice even number, isn’t it?

How about you? Is there anything you collect to excess?

An unexpected bonus…

20190209_125341Just returned from a great few days at my mother’s on the south coast of the UK. We had the most glorious weather and it was amazing to be by the beach. Vivvy adored it and spent every opportunity to get in the water. She’s a real water baby, except when she spies the garden hosepipe to clean her off, then she runs a mile in the opposite direction.

My mum has just had a new satellite system installed for her TV, phone and internet and loves her new big TV. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to connect the internet on my laptop and spent a good hour speaking to the supply company who tried to work out why. My mum streams Netflix on her TV and that was working fine, so the engineer was stumped. They are sending a new box which should hopefully fix things, but it meant I was without the internet for four days! Can you believe it? Four days! At first I wondered how I’d survive not checking emails and looking at social media, but I have to be honest and say that I didn’t miss it at all. In fact, it was really relaxing (although it did mean I was late posting my blog this time around).

20190628_133914After lovely long days spent shopping, lunching (that’s my mum and sister-in-law in the photo), having numerous breaks for coffee and tea, visiting with family, and playing with Vivvy, it was great to come home in the evenings and relax with a game of cards with my mum (who always beats me, hands down), chat over a late night drink in the garden as the sun went down, or watch TV. In fact, I might even start having ‘internet breaks’ more often. It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time, now I think I’ll put it into effect.

How about you? Do you have regular ‘internet breaks’? If so, how long can you manage without checking in?

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Shakespeare's BirthplaceLast week, we spent a few days in leafy Warwickshire (Shakespeare Country) and, since we lived in the area about thirty five years ago, took the opportunity to visit some of our old haunts. Stratford-on-Avon, where we spent many happy hours showing visitors around Shakespeare’s town (especially his birthplace, pictured), then on to Leamington Spa, where I used to work, and a day spent in the city of Coventry which, for me, was the highlight of our trip.

Coventry is probably best known for it’s medieval cathedral, which was bombed in November 1940 and left in ruins. At the end of World War II, it was decided to build the new cathedral beside the ruins of the old one as a symbol of hope, peace and reconciliation.  Unfortunately, the photo I took is too blurry to post, but there are many great images on Google if you’d like to check them out.

20190519_125326Another reason for Coventry’s fame is the story of Lady Godiva. According to legend, she was the wife of a powerful tyrant lord who demanded high taxes from the people of Coventry. Lady Godiva asked her husband to stop this tax since she knew it was causing such hardship amongst the people she loved. He allegedly told her that he would do so if she rode naked through Coventry.

Lady Godiva took him at his word, and with only her long blonde hair covering her naked body she rode through Coventry on market day. Pious and modest, Lady Godiva is said to have sent word to the townspeople that they should go inside their homes and not watch as she rode by. Because they loved her and knew she was doing it to save them hardship, they complied. Except one young tailor who couldn’t resist looking. He became known as Peeping Tom and was blinded by heaven for not adhering to Lady Godiva’s instruction.

On the plinth below the statue are words from Tennyson’s poem:

“Then she rode back
clothed on with chastity.
She took the tax away
and built herself an everlasting name” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Dog, New Tricks

Synaptogenesis…ever heard of it? I hadn’t either until recently. While listening to a podcast on my MP3 player while out walking Vivvy, I discovered that synaptogenesis is the formation of new synapses in the brain. These are connecting points that link brain cells, approximately 100 billion of them, and it’s how our brain cells communicate with each other.

Deteriorating synapses are linked to a number of neurodegenerative diseases, but research shows that there are ways to regenerate and increase our synapses. According to the podcast, one of the ways is to change up the way we carry out routine tasks. Fascinated, I tried it out on the walk by stepping over stiles with my right foot instead of the left which I normally do, walking a different direction around a group of trees, and going anti-clockwise around the lake instead of clockwise. To be honest, I hadn’t realised what a creature of habit I’d become 🙂

Well, it got me thinking about other areas of my life, especially writing. I’ve always been a writer who needs a solid block of time during which I know I won’t be disturbed in order to write anything like meaningful prose (!). But in the spirit of trying something new, I decided to give writing sprints and timed writing a go. Many writers have success with this kind of writing, but I never thought it would work for me.

Since I wanted to do it properly, I downloaded the Pomodoro app to my phone I set it for twenty-five minutes of writing, followed by a five-minute break time during which you get up and move away from the screen and do something unrelated to writing.

Well, it’s been a revelation! Not only does it seem to work for me, but my word count has soared. Okay, I know this is great for a first draft, and there’ll be some things to fix in the second draft, but hey, words on the screen are always welcome, thank you very much! As they say, you can’t fix a blank page.

So, I’m going to continue with this new way of writing and along the way fire up some new connections in my brain 🙂 It’s a win/win!

Adventures at the Movies…

I really love going to the cinema and get my fix twice a month during movie night with friends at our town hall. We see and enjoy a variety of movies ranging from romantic comedies to action adventures to the more highbrow art(y) films.

Last month, for a variety of reasons (ha!) I wanted to see Aquaman. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an available option at our local so I was happy to venture into the city (such is my fan-girldom for a certain Mr. Momoa) but none of my girls could make the dates. Not to be discouraged, I talked two of my neighbour’s little boys into coming with me. It was all set, until the oldest boy fell and hurt his leg putting him out of action (he’s currently doing very well, thank goodness, and well on the way to recovery).

Of course, I could have dragged AJ along, especially with the promise of some pick-n-mix chocolate-covered brazils to assist his long-suffering-ness, but couldn’t put him through it (he gets a kind of motion sickness watching action movies on the big screen). To be fair, he did bag me a consolation prize as you can see in the photo. 20190111_120440

So, I became resigned to going it alone with just popcorn and a fizzy drink for company. But then I was having a whinge to my mum about my forthcoming solo visit and “I’ll come with you,” she said. Now, Aquaman is not my mum’s kind of film and I felt compelled to point that out. Regardless, she was adamant she was coming with me. So, off we went. We had a lovely day in the city: shopping, having lunch, more shopping, afternoon tea and finally, with our (ahem) many purchases in tow, we headed for the cinema. We splashed out on VIP seats and settled in to watch the movie.

I knew my mum wouldn’t really be enjoying it, and checked in with her a few times, only to get a smile and a thumbs-up in respone. Satisfied she was fine, I got lost in the movie. When it ended, she asked if I’d enjoyed it. I told her I did and asked if she had enjoyed it, too. She looked decidedly mischevious as she smiled and said, “Well, it was far too noisy for me, so I turned off my hearing aid and had a little nap. Whenever I opened my eyes, I just looked at the screen. That aqua person was very easy on the eye.”

20181228_200148Gotta love my mum. She’s game for just about anything. And she was still smiling when I took this photo of her as we left the cinema foyer and I whisked her to the nearest bar for a well-deserved glass of her favourite vino before heading home.

Now, I’m counting the days before Aquaman comes to DVD 🙂