Category Archives: Books

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Snow, Stories, and one very Ticked-Off Cat…

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Since everyone’s probably tired of hearing about (and seeing) snow, I’ll make this quick. We had over a foot of snow. That’s crazy for us. We usually get this shadow effect from the mountains around us and don’t get the … Continue reading

Paint and Snow

Apologies for being a little late with this month’s post. I blame Word 2010. It’s been playing up, crashing for no reason, changing fonts without my blessing and goodness knows what other mischief. It seems I’m not the only one either, from what I’ve gleaned on the internet. I was just about to load my post when it crashed again, so I gave up. Never mind. I’m here now.

What a busy month January turned out for me. If someone had told me a little over 12 years ago when I began painting that I would find myself being an art tutor, I would never have believed them. Likewise, when I accepted the opportunity to teach acrylic painting to a group in my art club, I never expected how much of my time it would take. Who would have thought teaching for 2 hours every Friday afternoon for 4 weeks would take over my life entirely.

I had no idea of the abilities of those attending, and without this information, I had to structure the sessions to fit all comers.  I found out at the first session at least six had never painted before. Others were already members of the art group, but had either never used acrylics or had tried them without success. What was I going to say? What would we paint? Could I paint a half-decent picture in front of an audience? Did I know enough to fill up 8 hours.

I made copious notes, and wrote my opening dialogue out several times, so it at least sounded as if I knew what I was talking about. I then played it back using TextAloud, to check I didn’t waffle on for too long and to make sure it made sense. I had several sleepless nights pondering on everything. Worrying, not that I couldn’t pull it off, but whether my nerves and my voice would hold out. It goes croaky and quiet if I talk too much.

I need not have worried. I had a full class: 20 people. More than anticipated but I didn’t have time to give as much individual attention as I had planned to. We had laughs, we had questions, we had fun, and they came back the following week, so I must have been doing something right. But again, I spent hours working on my notes and dialogue and order of the day. And I didn’t mess up once. My thanks in all this go to my writing group (the Ivy Writers) who, over the years, have given me the confidence to read my work out aloud. A nervous, shaking wreck the first time I had to read out anything; now I have no problems doing so. It all comes with practice. A bit like painting, as I told my acrylic beginners.

The third week arrived and painting continued, but I realised I had chosen a too ambitious a painting for my class. I should have picked a much simpler piece, for them and for me. It’s not easy standing at an easel because I always sit when I’m painting. I had to paint large too, so those at the back could see, and I had to work almost sideways at the easel. If I stood in front they wouldn’t have seen anything. Another week working on my final notes, closing dialogue etc. It was all I could think about all week.

The fourth and final day dawned, heralded by 5 inches of snow, roads blocked, schools closed, as was the venue we use. Disappointment all round. I had hoped to have a photo of my entire group. Pictures of the paintings they produced, and some feedback on the entire course. At this point in time, I do not know if we can rearrange to this Friday.

I’ve enjoyed it all. Learned a lot myself. Gained confidence. Made new friends in the art group. My notes haven’t gone to waste. The art group has asked me to run the course again later this year. I will know what I’m doing. I won’t have to spend weeks working on my lessons. I have time to find a simple painting for them to work from. I know what to leave out, what to emphasise.  And out of the snow day, a new painting is emerging. Watch this space!

Kit’s Website and BlogKit’s Kitchen,  Kit’s Art  Site

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Merry New Year

Jillian here.  Sorry I missed December’s post. I was out of town and knew it was my day, but I figured I’d post some pictures when I got back. By the time I got back (after experiencing a flat tire … Continue reading

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Cracks In The Sidewalk

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This story is based on true life. The author, Bette Lee Crosby, interviewed the Grandparents extensively.  It’s an amazing story of courage, love and forgiveness.  It might not be an inspirational genre but it was for me as in the … Continue reading

Sorry and Questions about Book Series

Jillian here-  Sorry I’ve been AWOL but I am back now. I had my surgery (finally!) at the end of April and I was surprised to find that even though I felt much better after about a week, I continued to be really tired and had no energy. I also had no desire to write or do much of anything. I did go back to work part time after three weeks, but took care to leave early as I didn’t want to overdo it.

I finally started a new story last week and was very relieved that my creativity was back. Not being compelled to write was an odd feeling for me.

I read a lot while I was unmotivated to work on my own stuff and read a series called The Shades of Magic  by V. E. Schwab. The first one was very good and I inhaled it. The second one was all right, but not as great as the first. The thing ended on a cliffhanger (pet peeve for me) but I already had the third one (I got these for Mother’s Day). The third one went on way too long and pretty much could’ve been merged into book two very easily- they were each over 400 pages, but two and three could’ve been merged into one at around 550 and been a better story, I think. But perhaps the author had a three-book deal. 🙂

So, my questions are, “Do you think some series are too long? Do you think there is a tendency to pad the word count to get to three books? Do they usually get better or worse as the books go on? How do you feel about cliffhangers where the book stops in the middle of the action- not an overarching plot for the series but when the book just ends abruptly? I feel manipulated when that happens.  I like a beginning, middle and end.

Share your thoughts on book series! Happy July!

Book Review

March has not been as I planned.  I have had influenza then gastric flu for four weeks! Everything has been cancelled and today I am starting to feel “normal”.  It has left me feeling weak, vulnerable and old!! Lots of rebuilding physically and emotionally to do but Spring is blossoming so I have time.  Apologies to those bloggers who have submitted interesting posts that I intend to  comment on later.

One thing I have managed to do now I am recovering is read so I have decided to submit a book review that I think you might be interested in.  A friend recommended this book knowing I am not normally a fan of short stories.  Reader, I Married Him edited by Tracy Chevalier is a collection of twenty one stories by different writers, some I have read work by previously others unknown.  The writers took the final line of the famous book by Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre and their response to the novel is the impetus for their stories.  The result is a mix of different scenarios, countries and plots.  The short story format influences the context and action of each one.  The discipline required to present just enough information must be intense and the gaps imply must so much for the reader to consider and assume.  I have read Jane Eyre at various stages of my life from teenager through young woman and now an older woman but I am always surprised by the inner strength both Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte exhibit in their situations.  Life as a Victorian woman writer was difficult, she and her sisters first published under false male names, but through these women generations of writers and readers have triumphed.  Read this book and maybe it will inspire some you to new heights.  As always I will be interested in your comments.

During this month Peter, my husband, has been amazing despite having flu for a week and I am glad “Reader, I married him”!

I wish all of you a very Happy Easter, with chocolates treats if you want them!  Next month I hope to be back on top form.

Here is the link to the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015EXDQJO/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

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Of Books, Birthdays, New Year, and Football

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Jillian here. Happy New Year! Since last we visited, I had a book release (the weekend of Christmas which was not my choice of dates), a birthday, the passing of the old year and lots of ball games were played. … Continue reading