Category Archives: Books

August Musings

Here we are already in the middle of August. It seems unbelievable to think in a few weeks’ time we will be in the ’ember months of the year. Before you know it Christmas will be upon us again. It has already arrived in some of the stores here in the UK, and the children haven’t even returned to school yet from their summer break. But enough of that.

I missed posting last month; my apologies – major meltdown due to extreme heat! Heat that has only today started to climb back down the thermometer, and we have rain. Not a lot, admittedly. We do need plenty here as, like many countries, we are in a drought situation. Keeping the flowers and plants alive in the back garden has been hard work, but we’ve made the most of our grey water from the kitchen, about the only real exercise I’ve had, backwards and forwards several times a day. The vegetable garden and annual flowerbed at the front has, I’m sad to say, been a failure because of lack of rain; we have avoided using the hosepipe. As a consequence, we’ve written this year off on the gardening front and back, because the back garden will be given another make over.

The reason being, we have demolished our large koi pond and intend turning the area into another flowerbed. Whilst we both had a lot of pleasure from the fish, which had grown huge, it was becoming increasingly hard work for Dave to keep it going despite so-say modern filters and UV lamps and fitting a new pump each year – not cheap. We were plagued with pond weed, the water never clear. The fish loved it; we didn’t. We agreed back last October that we would run the pond down as each winter we invariably lost a fish or two. Needless to say, this past winter they all survived.

One of the koi (28lbs)

We gave the fish, some as long as 2-3 ft and weighing many lbs, to a local koi keeper so we know they would be going to a good home. Catching them was another matter. All three of us got soaked! Then
began the fun part, demolition of the pond walls. The pond was/is over 8ft deep, with half of it above ground, so we were hoping the bricks and blocks would fill that below ground level. Miscalculation. We now have to dispose of a lot of rubble. This Dave will do in the autumn when the weather is a lot cooler.

Before
After
Demolition begins

The extreme heat here has meant I have not done a lot of art. A special request for a contemporary flower painting was completed and I began working up one for my students to copy at my next workshop at the end of September. They had requested a waterfall, so waterfalls I did. Several of them. It became clear to me that each one was a little too adventurous for some of my group, but I finally came up with a much simpler version that hopefully will stretch them without any duress.

“Pastel Pastures”
“Autumn Waterfall”

Other than these efforts, I have to admit nothing has been done. Hardly any writing because my office was too hot even with a fan running. No housework other than the basics – no point with all the doors and windows open; little laundry to wash – thank goodness for kaftans to lounge about it in all day. On the plus side, we’ve spent most days and long into the evenings in the garden. Our patio is in shade from midday so it has been comfortable, and I have been able to enjoy uninterrupted reading, getting through 5 books, unusual for me in a short space of time.

We treated the month as a long holiday, being exceedingly lazy and relaxed. It was fun while it lasted; now it’s back to normality. I hope your month has been good too.

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

August!

Jillian here. Can you believe it’s already August and will be in the double digits of August tomorrow? Where is the time going?

I have completed (with my editor) edits on my newest book which will be under my other name. I hope to make a series of this one, but I am having a dickens of a time figuring out a cover plan. I used a lot of local places in the story and lots of local ghost lore with the historical buildings and areas being visited by the heroine. I don’t want a cluttered cover and am not sure about the new covers out there for cozy mysteries and so I am just at a standstill with the book. Gotta figure it out! LOL!

My mom and sister both are August babies so I actually went out shopping (!) for their gifts last week. I am not a shopper at all so this was big.

Premier league football (soccer for the USA crowd) has started back and I am cheering on the Liverpool team as I have for over 20 years.

The air conditioning has been out at my office and we are sweltering. Have had my fans going and windows open– a small breeze is always an “ahhh” moment. We have had two estimates for a new unit and waiting on a 3rd. Over $8,000.00 is what we’re looking to have to spend. UGH! But it has to be done. We’ve had some rain too so that helps cool it off. It’s decision time, though.

The best news of the month is that my husband will finish his cancer treatment this week and we can’t wait for him to ring that bell on Friday. We have kept it on the down-low on FB as he didn’t want all his extended family to tell the whole town where he is from. A small town in Alabama where he only had 18 people in his graduating class. He hates even when his sisters call to check on him so he sure didn’t want the whole town to know. 🙂 (and I’ve now told the whole blogger-verse!)

Happy August to all!

My Sweet Baboo!

Christmas in July? Well, Sort of….

Jillian here! Hope everyone is having a nice summer. It’s been wild weatherwise here. Over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with over 111 heat index every day for a couple of weeks in June, then rainstorms with thunder and lightning all day, every day (dark as night at noon) for the end of June and first six days of July. As I write this, we’re back to more normal temps of around 85-90 and only small afternoon thunderstorms.

All this heat and rain misery made me decide to start reading a book I got at Christmas – It’s called The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries and is a collection of a ton of stories set at the festive season. Lots of favorite writers have set mysteries at Christmas and this book is chock-a-block. From Agatha Christie to Peter Lovesey, to Colin Dexter, Rex Stout, O. Henry, John Mortimer, Ellery Queen, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and some new to me authors that I am digging), I am loving this set of stories. The pages are double-columned so its 640 pages is more like 1,280 pages– enough to keep me entertained for the month, I hope… Except I am almost to page 400 already and it’s only 8 days into the month. LOL

I am liking this collection of tales so much, I ordered The Big Book of Ghost Stories edited by this same gentleman. He has great taste in stories.

Here is the cover and the list of stories sorted into types. Hope you recognize some of your favorite writers, too. – I love the picture from the 1930s, don’t you?

Sorting Things

You would think with all the time we had on our hands during lockdown I would have found the inspiration to do a job that has been waiting for some considerable time: that of sorting out my study, my kitchen cupboards, my wardrobes, and several large storage boxes full of notes/manuscripts/photographs/junk. But no. Although there was ample time to do it all, during lockdown there did not seem much point.

The municipal recycling/waste site was closed, as were all the secondhand shops, on-street charity collections had ceased, and we simply hadn’t the space to store things no longer wanted. You might say I’m a bit of a hoarder; well, aren’t most of us? I mean, who else has 7 frying pans, 3 saucepans sets and 4 of china, one of which is a 72 piece? A food mixer that hasn’t been used for 5 years? Who else after being 11 years retired has business suits and skirts still hanging in the wardrobe unworn since along with fancy outfits bought for office Christmas parties? Who among us has a separate wardrobe full of clothes and shoes that have never been worn? Who else has a stack of books enough to fill a town library, read once if at all, filling every spare shelf in the house? Okay, perhaps that one doesn’t count – we are all readers and book lovers here.

So, this week, I made the decision something had to be done and soon but which to attack first? A series of small events occured which were fortuitous in setting the clean-up ball rolling. My other half ordered yet another pair of new jeans which, when delivered, transpired he had ordered the wrong size,and didn’t fit. Yes, he could have sent them back, got a refund, but they were inexpensive and the cost and hassle of reposting not worth the effort to him. The next day a charity collection bag came through the letterbox. The day after I picked up a message on social media from a local, newly opened residential care home seeking books in excellent condition for the home’s library. The following day, Dave decided to buy a new television for the lounge, not that it was necessary, he simply wanted a larger screen with a higher-quality picture. Which was fortunate, as the one in my office was playing up and hardly watchable. Bingo!

The charity bag was filled and left out for collection. A large hessian shopping bag filled to the brim with my unwanted books and delivered. A larger pile of unworn/new clothes, including the jeans, appeared on the spare bed, ready for me to take to our local St Peter’s Hospice charity shop. The office was tidied, unwanted items put either in the charity bag, recycling boxes or dustbin in order to make room for the still perfectly good television from downstairs to fit in my office. All in all, productive week which has made me feel virtuous, although the kitchen cupboards and other items will have to wait a week or so. Good job I’m not in any hurry.

Meanwhile, it has been a hard month for us in some respects: lots of memories and anniversaries, good and not so good, to get through but helped by a lovely mild week here despite being mid October. Warm enough for us to enjoy 9:00am coffee outside listening to our resident robin singing amongst plants which are still blooming, a clematis in flower for the third time this year, a thunbergia in flower which it hasn’t done all summer, the dahlias still glorious, and the sweetpeas still not giving up.

Enjoy your month, whatever it brings.

October! My Favorite!

Jillian here. October is my favorite month of the year. I’ve always loved it. When we lived in Virginia when I was in elementary school, we’d always drive up Skyline Drive in October to get pumpkins and fresh, cold apple cider—there was nothing like that fresh taste and Florida has nothing to compare with it. Not many leaves change color here—a few trees do- like maples— but most are evergreens like pine. I love the look of bare trees in the twilight of mornings or dusk as well as in the fog. Some trees here have leaves one day and are naked the next.

Why I love October: Orange is my favorite color, the smell of smoke in the air always brings back memories of fall leaf burning, pumpkins, Halloween is fun, and the new baking shows with the fall themes are delightful to watch (not so delightful for my cravings for chocolate though) 😀And it cools off a bit here—most years, it’s low 80s at beginning of the month and 70s by end of month.

Lat year, for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a story that was inspired by my great grandmother’s name and her tombstone. Weirdly, her tombstone has her names in the wrong order which is kind of wild—I can only imagine they didn’t have the money to fix it when it was made incorrectly. I’ve always loved her first name. Her name (in the correct order) was Sophronia Neal Akers Richardson. The story I wrote is a ghost story/mystery. I turned in the edits this week, so I hope to have it out soon. It will be published under my other name as my mysteries are under that name to keep them separate from the romance-driven tales.

Happy October to all. Get out and enjoy some reds, oranges, fall scents and even some ghosties!

Gnarly pumpkin I bought —so wicked looking

Behind The Name

Many writers use an alias or nom de plume, or in my case also a nom de pinceau. This initially was unintentional. I’ve never liked my real first name and had suggested I publish under different one when I secured a literary agent at the beginning of my writing career. She disagreed, saying there were very few authors with my first name and persuaded me to keep it. I was fine with that.

Some years later I took up painting but begin by not signing my work simply because I didn’t know what to sign as: My full name? My initials? Something else? People began taking an interest in my art leading to a work colleague particularly keen to buy my first bluebell painting. Anxious to see what else I had created, he searched for me on the internet. That was how I discovered there was an American artist with exactly the same name as me and, more to the point, painted in a similar style. One picture he found was indeed so much like one of my own, one could argue I had copied it. Mine was a waterside view in Hampshire, England, entitled “Solent Garden”, hers of a scene either out of her head or somewhere in America. There was only one thing for it. I had to paint using a different name. But what?

“Solent Garden” by Kit Domino

I wanted something simple, easy to sign in acrylic and something memorable, something short. I spent hours wondering, then remembered one of the main characters in my first (unpublished and hiding in the bottom draw of my desk) novel. His name was “Kit”, an abbreviation for Christopher, but also for Christine and Katherine. Perfect! (BTW my first name isn’t either of those two, in case you’re wondering.) Now I needed a surname. Looking back I could have used my own, and it would have worked but the title of that story called out to me. It was “Domino”. Voila! There was my new name.

Back to my agent. Despite numerable efforts, she was unable to find a publisher for my book notwithstanding being short-listed and runner up in a major national writing competition, so we parted ways. Undeterred, I published that novel under my new name. It seemed the obvious thing to do; that way I could keep my private and writing/artistic life separate especially where social media is concerned. It stops hackers too, and halts would-be scammers in their tracks. You’d be surprised the number of times I’ve had fake emails from Inland Revenue saying I owe thousands in unpaid taxes or am due for a large rebate, or claiming to be from my bank concerning fraudulent activity on my account — you know the type of thing. The moment I see something like that addressed as my pen-name I know it’s a scam.

Having another name also means I can, as I intend to do at some stage, write about my past, which is a novel in itself and one my agent had wanted to me write as part of offering a 3-book deal to publishers. I wouldn’t be able to do that under my real name as I need to protect people the story affected, including my family.

Having a pseudonym has many advantages so if you are considering using one, go for it. You can always change it!

Kit Domino’s website and blogs

What’s in the box?

Since my motivation has been a trifle lacking lately, I’ve decided to level up on ways to get more productive.

Writing wise, that means online sprints with my writing pals. These get me moving, but I have to admit that the sprints are sometimes all I manage and writing takes a backseat for the rest of the week. *Sigh* Not even a juicy new idea for a series has kept the old motivation levels high. While I also get inspired during online chats with my girls, especially when they all seem to be storming along with their goals, that inspiration can sometimes wane all too soon. *Double sigh*

Since I always feel better when I’m writing consistently, and apparently I’m not the only one who notices that (cue husband), I’ve been thinking/researching other ways to motivate myself.

One thing I found was Nonsense Timer Writing. Ten minutes where you just type gobbledegook. No proper words, no real sentences, no punctuation. Nothing, in fact, that makes any kind of sense. The theory is that as you type rubbish, you’ll find yourself wanting to write properly. Little ideas will pop, characters will speak, and before long you’ll want that ten minutes to be up so you can get back to the story you’re currently writing. Well, anything is worth a try.

Another technique is one hubby has come up with. Poor AJ hates it when I don’t write on a daily basis. Can’t think why? Maybe it’s because I find him things to do around the house when I’m not at the keyboard. Anyway, he came up with a reward system where he places something in a box, seals it up, and I can only open it when I’ve done my daily word count.

He’s only been doing this since the weekend but so far I’ve found a small bar of chocolate, two biscuits, and last night I opened it to find my kindle! It seems he’s going to be merciless. I dread to think what other of my ‘necessities’ he’ll hide in that box and won’t allow me access to unless I hit my word count!

Ah well, it’s working for now and I’ve typed more words in the last few days than I have in quite a while. Whatever works, right?

So, tell me. How do you find the motivation to do the things? Have you found any bizarre or interesting ways, or are you just naturally disciplined? I’d love to know.

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Book Recommendation

 I’ve been reading some really great books lately so thought I’d share with you.  Susan Wiggs is a good author and a great story teller. One of the reasons is her characters, even secondary ones, come to life. And in … Continue reading

Busy Doing… Lots

Whooo…sh! Where has the past month gone? After last month taking time to smell the roses, this month I can’t keep up with everything. Having switched on my “do something” button, I’ve found my lost mojo and am now in a spin with so much going on and am well and truly back on the novel writing track. But that’s not all! I’ve been inspired enough to delve into the paintbox once more, with a new piece in progress which is coming along well and am pleased with it so far. But not ready yet for the great reveal.  Hopefully, that will be soon. If I’m still happy with it…

I have also been getting to grips with a new writing tool on the computer whilst I write. You would think that was enough to contend with, but oh no. All my working career I found the more pressure I was under, the more I could achieve. The busier I am, the more gets done. And to prove the point, last week saw me revamping my website/blog, streaming off the gardening section into a new separate site (Kit’s Garden). Now all I have to do is keep up with it all as well as find time to sit back, enjoy the garden, and remember where and what day it is!

Ah, September, month of mellow fruitfulness and birthdays. Lots of birthdays including our daughter’s 50th. As a special card, I made one using several photos of her over the years. She adored it, as did the two grandchildren, whose birthdays are also this month, along with a dear friend’s, my twin sisters’, my sister-in-law’s. Am sure I’ve forgotten someone. Need to check. Back in a moment … Yep! My other sis-in-law’s. Boy, am I glad this month I also finally got round to setting up an online calendar and networking it across the three computers I use or I would have forgotten her. That would not have gone down well.

On top of all this, these last few weeks I’ve been figuring out and setting up a new laptop my nearest and dearest treated me to. Poor man, he was getting so annoyed at my constant grouching how slow my old lappy was. Well over 7 years old with an ailing battery, it had been a good workhorse. Lately fit only for doing online jigsaws, not that I’ve had time to do any this month.

There have been some pauses in the pace though. We’ve had lovely weather here in the UK the past few days. Enough for Dave and I to spend mornings in the garden. Taking time to read the newspapers or a book as we enjoy a coffee in the warmth of the sun. Relax a little. Do a little weeding, a bit of idea throwing for next year’s displays. Much needed respite from sitting at the desk too much.

I shan’t be at the desk for a few days next week either, as I am finally trundling off to Reading to spend time with my mother and sisters. Hurrah! It will be the first time since February I have been further than our local supermarket and I am looking forward to the drive cross country. But not as much as seeing my siblings and mother again. It’s been too long.

The four of us intend celebrating being together for the first time since last Christmas; to belatedly celebrate my mother’s 94th birthday back in March; raise a glass to mine back in April; and as I mentioned above, to celebrate my sisters’ birthdays next Monday. On Friday I am making them a birthday cake but, shhh… don’t tell them, it’s a surprise, and knowing my baking skills, it might not turn out so well. I might have to resort to buying one!

Must dash. There’s things still to do, such a shopping. The larder and fridge are bare and the freezers both half-empty as we’ve been without a car for nearly two weeks as repairs were needed. Thankfully it is now back sitting on our drive. So places to go and family to see before lockdown swings in any tighter.

Enjoy your month, whatever it brings.

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

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Oops- Missed My Day

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Jillian here. I had been thinking about what I’d blog about this month and knew the 9th was my day, of course. I got derailed as my paralegal has been out all week waiting for results from her COVID test. … Continue reading