Easter been and gone. Good Friday was a glorious day and I enjoyed a long walk along the cycle path meeting so many people blowing off the cobwebs from being stuck indoors with so much rain lately. Saturday and Sunday turned wet and windy again and I was on duty at Buckland Abbey on Monday on the welcoming door – muddy wellingtons galore, pushchairs and people shaking themselves free of rain at the entrance.  I am working on my talk for the social club in May – looking back to see where the ideas did come from for my stories -  a trip down memory lane for me as so many are triggered off by something that happened in the past. Not everything for there is a good chunk of imagination there too but there has to be a beginning.

My short story ‘The Decision’ is currently editor’s choice on the Alfiedog.short story website available for download for 0.25p.  Now and again I return to short story writing and what a challenge it is to come up with a really good one. I realise now that when I first started writing, I missed the point of what makes a true short story, a tricky genre to get right. Some of my earlier short stories were in fact ideas for a novel and so were not wasted. A short story is exactly that, tightly told and impossible to lengthen. I have just read Roald Dahl’s collection, a true expert in the genre.

First decent walk of the year yesterday with Jane. We walked on the moor where the path was a little muddy here and there.  Gorgeous views over to the Tors with a big clear sky.  About five ponies suddenly appeared from the trees in skittish mode. They were beautiful, various colours, with a grey mare bringing up the rear – she was heavily pregnant and quite fed up looking and going at a much more sedate pace. Finished off our walk at the Skylark pub feeling we had earned our fish and chips.

Watched my little 9 year old granddaughter Daisy doing her bit at a competition organised by the Rotary Club here in Tavistock.  Three children in each team from many schools in the area debating a huge variety of topics – Daisy was talking about immigration of all things.  She stood there and clearly and confidently spoke out without notes in front of about 100 people. My  heart was in my mouth willing her not to forget what she was saying. She didn’t, bless her. Beginning to wind up the new story now, pulling all the loose threads together. I will have to go through it all again to make a few adjustments to earlier chapters. Hope I’m doing the right thing for all my characters giving them the satisfactory conclusion they deserve.

The plot threads are coming together and I have an idea how things will end. Thinking about it meant my mind was too busy and it took a long time to get to sleep last night.  This morning I found myself putting on my make-up as usual and then wondering why because I have no intention of going anywhere today. Yesterday I played games all afternoon with Millie, my 3 year old granddaughter. We had a pretend birthday party for the dolls and teddies. After a rendition of Happy Birthday to You I started to blow out the ‘candles’ and got told off because it was dolly’s birthday and she had to do it.

Nearly killed the cat. I had no idea (how can it have escaped me?) that lilies are fatal to cats. Merely brushing against them can cause a terrible reaction – cats on drips the vet tells me. I don’t normally have lilies in the house but did so last weekend, putting the vase on the window ledge where Lucy likes to sit to observe the birds outside. No more lilies then. Getting on with the new story and something unexpected as happened as often does. Caught up with the characters now and desperately wanting to resolve things for them. Terrible storms at the weekend meant I was trapped indoors which was an opportunity to press on with the writing.

The birds are costing me a fortune. They adore the fat-balls and the nuts, less sure about the red berry suet tray. The problem is I park the car beside the bird feeding station and they make a mess all over it as a nice thank you to me.   On the way back into Tavistock yesterday from a trip over to Barnstable, I noticed a grassy bank full of daffodils – yes, it is early but it was a welcome sight.  Met up with my lovely writing friends in Barnstable – we are all busy with our writing and it’s always good to chat to like-minded people who understand what it is that keeps us going.  It’s often a frustrating business but we are all hooked on it. Oh, and it’s an excuse for a sticky cake and coffee too.

Post-Christmas lunch at The Duke of Cornwall hotel in Plymouth for the National Trust volunteers at Buckland Abbey where we will start the new season in February.  Potato and leek soup followed by salmon and then ice cream. Lovely to catch up with the Monday people as that’s my duty day and we are all raring to go.  Got back to my new story after a long break from it and read it from the beginning. I can’t leave these poor characters stranded so must get on with it and bring about a satisfactory ending although I have some way to go yet. It seems to have divided itself neatly into two parts and I have only just started Part Two.

Going through the edits for e-book ‘Through Thick and Thin’ formerly titled ‘Olivia’s Garden’. New title, new cover.  Got me thinking about titles and covers, some of which I have been delighted with, others not so much. The original title for ‘Village Wives’ was ‘The House at One-Mile Bridge’ but that was rejected outright because it sounded, according to the editor, like a thriller rather than a romantic novel.  The original cover for ‘Set to Music’ featured a lovely picture of Harrogate, undeniably Harrogate, but that was changed at the very last minute to a much more general one. I could never understand that.  However, I do have the artist’s sketch which I have framed. This may seem trivial and nit-picking but I feel we should not underestimate the power of the right cover choice. Are writers ever completely satisfied I wonder? Maybe not.  I’ve got a cold today which probably explains the grumpy mood. Dosed up on NIght Nurse medicine last night which knocked me out. Slept well but woke up feeling awful. It’s fine today so will have a walk later to clear my head.

Another year, another panto at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth where Gok Wan was the Fairy Gokmother! Typical panto fun and it’s wonderful to see the theatre full as usual. It gets such good support here in the south west with some great shows coming up.  Still busy with edits for the e-books but just finished ‘What Friends Are For’ which starts off in 1977 the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Year. I remember it so well and the street party we had up in Ulverston, Cumbria where everybody made such an effort with dressing up. I used this setting for the new story and it was good to be transported back to those days and that place. I loved our time in Ulverston.