Silent Sunday

So I’m back with Silent Sunday 🙂

Also playing around with watermarks 😀

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Podcasts

Hello everyone 🙂

So I have recently discovered podcasts (yes I’m behind the times) and because I’ve heard of happy mum happy baby podcast as I follow Giovanni (big fan) so thought that would be my first one to listen too (when cooking dinner or on the walk picking up Jess -if William is asleep) and omg it’s really good! Makes me feel I’m not all alone in this minefield of motherhood (just like when I read the book)

So my question is- what other amazing podcasts are there to discover?? Any gems?? Any for writing??

When did you discover podcasts?

I’m also going to try and find YouTube videos to subscribe to as I would like to explore different platforms (did try audiobook but kept falling asleep-plus prefer to read) and loved participating in the camp nano one 🙂

Again any good videos to watch?

Have you been tempted to make your own video or podcast? 😉

X

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Book Review- The Sweetest Thing by Cathy Woodman

Book Description (from the back)

Jennie Copeland thought she knew the recipe for a happy life: marriage to her university sweetheart, a nice house in the suburbs and three beautiful children. 

But when her husband leaves her, she is forced to find a different recipe. And she thinks she’s found just what she needs: a ramshackle house on the outskirts of the beautiful Talyton St George, a new cake-baking business, a dog, a horse, chickens…

But life in the country is not quite as idyllic as she’d hoped, and Jennie can’t help wondering whether neighbouring farmer Guy Barnes was right when he told her she wouldn’t last the year.

Or perhaps the problem is that she’s missing one vital ingredient to make her new life a success. Could Guy be the person to provide it?

Book Review-

This book was a lovely light read. Nice blend of characters (some things were obvious before they happened) but it made a nice feel good book.

I did feel some bits were rushed (the ending) and some bits went nowhere and felt was only there to drag the story out (some of the side characters -what was there point?) or was resolved very quickly (her sons issues) the main character did annoy me abit such as changing the name of the cottage when she was trying to fit in, money- (where is it coming from to support the lifestyle) as seemed brought many things on a whim without thinking and repeated about how low her savings were but adamant she didn’t need a side job to help with the baking just focused on that -but liked the ending (even if it was only a few paragraphs six months later) and wanted to know more about how her business is or how her son is….

Lovely country setting and simple ideology of living the dream

Overall 7/10

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**Author Interview- Kathleen Burkinshaw**

Hello everyone! So today we have Kathleen on the blog to talk to us about her book 🙂 I met Kathleen on an Instagram loop and so happy to have found another awesome author! Here is Kathleen!

Thank you so much for interviewing me. I’m so glad we met on Instagram 🙂

Tell us a bit about your book

Sure, I’d be happy too! The Last Cherry Blossom (TLCB) is about a young girl’s (Yuriko) life in Hiroshima during WWII. She discovers a shocking family secret right before her world is about to become a shadow of what it had been. I’m proud to say that TLCB is based on my mother’s experience surviving the atomic bomb. It is through her 12-year-old eyes that readers witness that horrific day. The novel is written with information on the culture, mindset, and daily life during WWII before the bomb was dropped-something that hasn’t been done before. I hope to not only convey the message that nuclear weapons should never be used again; but to also reveal that the children in Japan had the same love for family, fear of what could happen to them, and hopes for peace as the Allied children had.

What would say is the genre for your book

MG historical fiction. But I’ve had grades 5- college students, as well as adults read TLCB.

Where did the inspiration come from?

My mom’s childhood in Japan during WWII and surviving the atomic bombing, as well as the desire to learn more about the family members I lost to the atomic bomb. Interestingly, my writing journey didn’t really begin until my daughter came home from school very upset after discussing the end of WWII in her 7th grade history class. She had overheard some kids discussing that “cool mushroom cloud picture”, that’s when she asked me to speak to her class about the people under those clouds that day, like her Grandma.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Well, I had the title in mind for a couple years before I really worked on it as a book. 😊 At the time, I was just making notes so my daughter and her family could have the story. I was overjoyed that the publisher liked the title as well! I chose the title because the Cherry Blossom Festival is such an integral part of the Japanese culture and it was my mother’s favorite celebration. More importantly, it was the last time her entire family was together before the bombing.

How long did it take you to finish writing the book before the first edit? How many drafts were there in total?

Before the first edit it was about a year and a half. Let’s see, there were about 6 drafts (some of the draft changes were major and some were for minor issues) with my agent before she signed me as a client. Then I had two major ones with my publisher and a few copyedit ones(issues with punctuation, missed word, etc..) The toughest edit was figuring out how to show the passage of time, without writing the date before each chapter. I came up with the idea to use newspaper headlines in Japan at that time, since Yuriko’s Papa had a newspaper company. That took a lot more time and a bit more difficult than I had anticipated, especially since I cannot read Japanese! 😊 I supplemented with propaganda posters and radio slogans. Then once I had that I had to figure out which chapter they would fit. I had post it notes everywhere on my dining room table when making my timeline!! I wish I would have thought to take pictures of it, but I didn’t.

Are there any characters in the book based on people you know?

Yes, Yuriko is based on my mother. Although it is not a full picture of her personality. The other family members while real, I did have to form some ideas of their personality, since I never met them in person. I also changed some of the names as well. For instance, she didn’t want her real first name in TLCB and she suggested Yuriko. I have to say that it was a challenge at times picturing my mom as a child. Also, she was very picky in her first read through of the original draft copy. 😊

How did you celebrate being published? Did you have a launch party?

Well there were a few celebrations. I remember a Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference, where a key note speaker advised us to celebrate each milestone, because it is not an easy road for most of us. So when I signed with my agent, I did my version of a happy dance (since because of my disability I can’t actually dance anymore) and we went out to dinner. When I signed my publishing contract- happy dance. It was also my daughter’s birthday. We celebrated by going out to dinner and I brought the contract to my mom so she could read it. I celebrated with her at the house because she was too sick to go out at that time (we both did our own version of a happy dance and cried together). And the day TLCB launched into the world (August 2, 2016-a Tuesday) 😊, I went to my local bookstore and took my picture next to the display, you guessed it, my happy dance, and we went out to dinner. A week later I celebrated my launch at the same book store. My daughter and a local teen read from the book, many supportive friends and family, and people I didn’t know came and we celebrated with cherry blossom themed cupcakes, cookies, and home-made cherry blossom candy. I did my happy dance throughout the whole day. Okay, I’m noticing that food tends to be a common theme here… 😊

Would you care to give us an extract?

I’d love to give you one of my favorite sections that I enjoyed writing:

“The sun shone through the clouds and warmed my face. I looked around and saw people in boats rowing out to enjoy the view from the river. A breeze shook the cherry blossom branches making the petals dance…The purple and pinks of the sky made the perfect backdrop for the blossoms. A magical deep purple glow painted the sky. I wanted to hold this memory in my heart forever… I looked around the room at their happy faces realizing that even though there is so much uncertainty and fear, joyful, happy moments still existed. And I smiled.”

How do you beat writers block? Any tips?

Well, I have days when my pain gets in the way and that blocks me from being able to concentrate or write/read anything. Then there are days when it is not exactly blocked, but more of it being stuck. I usually am stuck on trying to make the first draft look like a final draft or get carried away with researching. So I get out my journal and just free form write whatever comes to mind. Or I write as if I’m writing in that character’s journal/diary and what she’d be thinking or find important to write about it in there.

Do you have any hobbies apart from writing?

I really enjoying meeting and speaking with students! When my hands allow, I liked learning to quilt, making wreaths-anything with a glue gun, reading, enjoying the ocean (don’t get to do as much as I’d like), and just being with my family. I’m quite boring….

When you write, do you consider yourself to be a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a bit of both. I have a general idea of the plot, but I don’t really outline (I probably should…). I have scenes that I’ve written that I then put in order of how I think they should go. Now, because it’s historical fiction, I do a lot of research first so in a way that helps me know the order of most of the events in my book.

Do you have any advice for fellow writers?

Read many, many books in the genre you want to write. I continue to do that, because you find new inspiration with each book you read. Join a writing organization if you can. I am a member of SCBWI and attend the regional conferences in Charlotte. You learn so much about the craft of writing, meet people who become friends, critique partners, and your supportive tribe (that is also where I won a writing award and met my agent). Also, just sit down and write. There is no perfect time, perfect sentence, or perfect draft, just write the story only you can tell. When you write with you heart you can’t go wrong.

If your book became a film- who would you pick to play the main characters?

I had the chance to meet the Japanese pop idol group 9Nine and one of the singers, Sayaka Nishiwaki, is from Hiroshima, so if she or Mana Ashida (Japanese child actress) could play Yuriko. And perhaps Papa could be played by Ken Watanabe…It’s fun to dream, anyway…..

I see you have new work in progress- care to tell us about it?

I am currently finalizing research for the sequel to TLCB. It takes place five years after the bombing once she has moved to Tokyo and is trying to deal with PTSD and finding/accepting her ‘new normal’. Also, been researching a story about Peruvian Japanese plucked from their home in Peru, brought to a US internment camp, and some were used as a hostage exchange between the US and Japan.

Lastly, where can readers find you and your book on the internet?

The Last Cherry Blossom can be found at Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes and Noble stores or online. For schools, Scholastic has it as part of their We Need Diverse Books Book Club.

Thankyou so much for chatting to us about this powerful and personal book – love the celebration of publication -would love to see pics of cherry blossom candy and cupcakes! Yum! I was fortunate enough to see the cherry blossom festival 10years ago 😀

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Fork Biccys

Hello everyone! I’m back with a recipe 😉

Thought I would share a very quick biccy recipe I saw and can’t get enough of since!

I have made a few batches and even chocolate ones 🙂 all gluten free of course and only three ingredients too!

Ingredients:

150g soft butter

50g sugar

100g plain flour

Method:

1) Mix all together – sugar and butter first or all at once doesn’t really matter (if wet then add abit more flour in till dough)

2) Put a small amount on baking sheet (optional -flatten with a fork to make an impression)

3) Put in oven at 160 for 10mins

Depending on how much extra flour you use it either comes out abit crumbly and raised (see chocolate pic) or flat and buttery (see second pic) if prefer flat and buttery then put four on a sheet as they will spread!

Have a go and play around – add coconut or coco etc for a mix!

Great for a quick sugar or snack fix and great to dunk in a cuppa! Simple recipe and fun creating own flavours 🙂

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Garden Diaries- May

Hello again!

So this month has been lots of digging and repotting 🙂

The lemon crystal cucumbers are growing nicely

Then and now!

Bad news is that my chillies and parsley died and have not grown 😦

Good news is that I brought three strawberry plants to keep our old one company 😉

But then the strawberry seeds I planted and thought did not germinate started to seed!! Swiss chard looking good!

I started digging out mini stumps along the fence

Big max is growing! Now and back at beginning :

So are the sunflowers! First pic was beginning of May and the 2nd was few days ago!

The mimulus and begonias are blooming too 🙂 nice bit of colour! Also the African Marigold 😀

I planted onion, carrot and courgettes this month

Played around with border design and finally took a pic of bee in flight! 😀

I brought a new book to go with the flower one and my gardening instagram locked me out and disappeared (can see it but can’t access it-boo) so treated myself 😉

The basil is growing well and so are the apple seeds and my many tomatoes!

2nd time trying to grow peas (1st time they were to close and clumped) so this time have spread them out 🙂

The coriander is growing 🙂

So things are starting to take shape! Also I started to plan out the veg patch (then see what done few weeks later at the end of post) 😉

He says hi every now and then 😉

I also moved the greenhouse and the herbs 🙂 Don’t worry I took this pic at 5pm they will get plenty of sun during the day till about 4ish

Repotted the lettuce

Peppers growing well – one is inside one is in the greenhouse and the other outside- all same height 😀

With help from Mattys mum we edged the border and planted two shrubs – was very hot out! I then planted half the peppers and tomatoes 😀

Forsythia and erysimum planted in the border 🙂

So busy month of gardening!

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Character artwork

Hello everyone 🙂

I have finished the first short story for the sci fi anthology- now to edit! To celebrate I drew the main character after drawing Jess as an LoL the drawing bug came back 🙂

So I then had the idea of starting to draw all my WIP main characters 😀

So here is Rosie Marks from the sci fi story Angel of Time 🙂

Here is the character sketch from the second sci fi short story (title still to be decided and so does her name!) but I am halfway through this story but then need to type it up and edit- both need to be submitted by June 30th eek!!

I can’t wait to see my other characters on paper- somehow it makes the story come alive 😀 Plus I am enjoying getting back into drawing again 🙂

Here is the picture of Jess as an LOL doll – she loved it and it’s now on her door! We then took her old LOL doll and remade it from the drawing so we have an actual Jess LOL 😀

Who knows maybe one camp nano/nanowrimo I might offer character drawings 😉 will see…..

Do you draw your characters? What other things do you draw?

X

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Write The Story- May

Hello everyone 🙂

I haven’t participated in recent challenges but when I saw the picture for this months prompt the story jumped out onto the page 😀

Here is the link to the writers unite site to join in! https://writersuniteweb.wordpress.com/2019/05/01/write-the-story-may-2019-prompt/

The Perfect Spot

“Not much further” he said breathless

He forgot how steep this bit was and he wasn’t as young as he was the last time he walked it

Maybe I should go to the gym next week he thought but then the final destination came to view and stopped that rude idea progressing

“This is the spot” he called out to his best friend

He walked over to the rocks to rest his tired feet- all that walking and they were finally there

His best friend followed behind a few minutes later and chucked the large bag down and proceeded to light a cigarette

Taking it in he then as his feet allowed moved to the window to see the gorgeous view of the sea below- and the welcome breeze felt like a high five on his face that cooled him down to assist him in the next step of the plan

“How long have we got” his best friend asked

Glancing at his watch – it took nearly two hours to get there so not much time

“Let’s get to work” he suggested noticing a flicker of nerves in his voiceThis is the perfect spot he thought – this was where I took her on our first date and hopefully as he clasped the little box in his pocket tight

Where she will say yes!

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Mini Gluten Free Donuts

Hello everyone 🙂

How about a recipe??

Today I thought I would share the recipe I used to bake these mini donuts!

Wanted to make these for ages and now Jess wants a birthday party (next month -how is it that she will be 7!) and so I thought they would make a good addition to the party food 🙂

The first recipe I used was a disaster- the mixture was too wet (5 eggs no flour should have known) and turned out like a soufflé!

I then used similar to my normal cake ingredients but used salt and more baking powder and less amounts – was trial and error really! For half the tin I rolled up baking paper- (tip is really crunch it up and small as it will puff back up) and the other not (cut out a hole once cooled)

Here are the ingredients:

2 cups plain flour

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup butter

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

100g Chocolate

Method:

1) Mix all dry ingredients separate to all the wet

2) Roll greeseproof paper into balls (skip if want to cut them out)

3) Fill the muffin tin halfway

4) Put in oven at 200 for 9 mins then leave to cool (cut out the circle if not used the baking paper)

5) Melt chocolate and dip half of the donut in one at a time

6) Sprinkles!

And that’s it- you can use icing sugar and food colouring of choice but I wanted melted chocolate 🙂

Enjoy!!!

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Writing Resources

Hello everyone!

So I have been thinking of what resources you use when it comes to writing?

I have lots of notepads- one upstairs on my bedside cabinet for any dreams or ideas I have in the middle of the night (tried writing a few times in the dark- was fun deciphering it the next day) one downstairs (pink) for writing any scenes that come to mind and then one I take everywhere I go (mini blue) so I can write down blog ideas, good words I like, conversations and any wip ideas.

I have a few writing books to help with prompts and useful words and advice but that is it really!

I’m thinking of a binder with sections for all my WIPs and notes for them as most of them I have all handwritten then typed up!

Laptop is barely working now so saving for a new one 😦

I see some people have vision boards so have created a Pinterest one for now but will make a mini motivation one as I tend to let my confidence slip when writing so it will help for the low days!

So anything else I could do/add to the resources? What helps you? Any good tips?

X

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