Category Archives: Books

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

Blessings

First of all, a belated happy Fourth of July to our U.S. readers. I hope you were able to enjoy a safe and sane day/evening.

This shelter-in-place has been both a struggle and a blessing. Staying home so much has been hard, being someone who likes to travel. We are not going through what some people are, and we’ve tried to help where we could. I know we’re lucky to be able to wait out this virus until they have a way to prevent it. But that doesn’t mean my head and heart aren’t a little screwed up. I have dips into depression that I have to claw my way out of. This hasn’t been easy for any of us and I’ve been trying to journal the process for me, as well as what I see happening in the world.

On the flip side, one of the ways I’ve tried to keep myself positive is finishing things on my to-do list. I wrote about the 30 year crocheted baby blanket a couple months ago. I’ve also designed and made birthday cards for the rest of 2020. I finished an art project – monthly door signs. I’ve been digitizing all our family movies that are on VHS tapes. Sorting through things in closets. Paring down.

I’ve also been completing some series. In books, I finally finished the 20 book Virgin River series by Robyn Carr. (That’s a HIGH recommend from me for any romance readers.) And, more recently, I finished the 22 movies in the Avengers series, from Iron Man (2008) through Endgame (2019). (And yes, I cried.)

I think I’ve had more contact with friends and family than ever before through video chats.

And I’ve learned that I don’t have to be go, go, going all day long. It’s okay to take a break and read for a while. To slow down on my daily walk and “smell the roses,” so to speak.

To laugh with my husband.

So there are a lot of blessings in my life. And if I can’t travel right now, so be it. What I can do is pray for the world. So I’m praying and counting my blessings.

I hope there are many blessings in your life.

Stay safe, stay healthy!

 

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Happy May – Time Flies

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Jillian here. Happy May. I hope everyone is healthy and happy in this (already!) fifth month of the year. Can you believe how fast the year is going? Sure, some days are super long, but looking back, the weeks have … Continue reading

February Fun and a Bit of Sadness

Jillian here.  I was going to get this post done on the 6th and set it to go off on the 9th like I am supposed to but since I wanted to write about what I had going on the weekend of the 7-9, I figured I’d wait until I got home and share what happened. When I got home, I posted a picture on FaceBook and then was hurt and sad and lost all motivation to post about what had been a wonderful weekend.  Back to that in a second.

Friday night, I was happy to serve as a judge for the Regional session of the National Moot Court competition. It’s hosted by my law school and since I’d already committed to a book signing on Saturday with some friends in Alabama, it made sense to volunteer to do this as well as I’d be in the area (about a 3.5 hour drive from home).

It was a great competition and seeing these law students be so passionate and competent about the fact scenario they were assigned was wonderful. The law schools are doing an excellent job teaching advocacy. When I was in law school (In the dark ages) we didn’t do moot court until our last semester. Some of these students were second year and very well-versed in how to try a case. Makes me proud of the changes in legal education.

The next day was the book signing. It was the last event I’ll be part of in RWA. My membership expires in March and I won’t be renewing. I’d have resigned but I had this event with ladies I love and treasure so I stayed for it. I hate to leave the Birmingham, Ala chapter but I can’t countenance what is going on in the national organization.

I sold some books, met some new readers, someone who used to work for me here in Pensacola who moved up there, and also some old friends. My sister-in-law and her daughter live up that way and they came to see me as well. It was lovely for them to be there and supportive and buy a copy of each book I had.

Here comes the sad part:

One of the other authors took a photo of my sis-in-law, my niece and me.  I usually don’t allow pictures of myself as I am embarrassed about my weight. I never had an issue until my second child was born and no matter what I do, I can’t seem to lose. It’s even worse since I had my hysterectomy. I beat myself up every day about it. I am hungry a lot of the time- I don’t snack- I eat my three meals – even my son says he can’t figure out the issue since I don’t eat a lot.

Against my better judgment, I posted that picture on FaceBook. A woman I’ve known since I was a little kid commented with a rose emoji at first.  Then she must’ve thought about it a minute and came back with “You’re still pretty even though you’re fluffy.”

I can’t even imagine saying that to someone. Believe me, I know I’m fat. I see myself in the mirror every day- I am always beating myself up about it. I sure don’t need her pointing it out. I was so hurt, I couldn’t even think the rest of the day. I cried off and on- silently – and even almost didn’t eat dinner- which was just grilled pork and a cob of corn. I am still sad today. I’m embarrassed enough without someone calling me out on it. I want to hide. All the time.

I’ve always been a happy person with a love of laughter. I hate that she stole my joy. I can’t get her words out of my head.  All I keep hearing is, “You’re fat but still pretty.”

Guess what? I don’t feel very pretty.