Tag Archives: humor

The Fitness Test That Went Wrong

Earlier this week, I attended my new gym for a fitness assessment. I managed to stand on the scales (Horror!!) and endure the tape measure but within five seconds of starting the fitness part of the test, I tore a muscle in my calf. Even though I was shocked by the injury, this type of event does not surprise anyone who knows me – I am accident prone.  My mother often retells a story of when I disappeared on to the ground after a meal in a restaurant and my daughter warned her colleagues at the sports holiday resort she worked at that they would recognise me when I fell down the airplane’s steps (I actually made it to the resort but promptly took a tumble and couldn’t do any sports the entire holiday). My future daughter-in-law was warned to look after me in Spain – I fell and broke my ankle giving her a guilt complex forever.

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I have had injuries in some of the best places – a broken cheek in the Caribbean, severe leg injuries after water-skiing in Greece. I even broke my hand while working as a nurse in the Accident & Emergency department.

I once read that injury prone people are focused too much on what is coming instead of living in the present. Maybe I was trying to avoid an exposure of my level of fitness!

Oh well, the good news is that I am forced to stay put and write so my new novel should benefit.

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Copy – Blog post on Jenny Kane’s Blogsite

The following is a copy of the guest blog piece I wrote for the lovely UK author Jenny Kane. You can read about her books and hook in to lots of interesting interviews by visiting her site at http://jennykane.co.uk

Writing What I Know (or How Life Influences My Fiction Writing)

Thank you Jenny for inviting me to write a guest blog piece for your website today.

In the company of other writers and readers, we often discuss what inspires our storytelling. During November, I was with a group of four writers at a retreat in Shropshire and it was clear that each of us had in-depth knowledge and experiences that informed our writing. One focused his story on his life as an Asian child within a predominately-white British community and another was using the experiences of a relative within the mental health sector. The third writer was interested in the modern history narrative, drawing from her own memories and I enjoy writing about human strength, in particular what happen when a female character faces a threatening situation.

Silencio, my debut novel, is a suspense story set in Spain, narrated with Spanish characters, and based on real life events that took place during the mid to late 1900’s.

Writing tutors and experts instruct writers that it is best to write about something they know but most of us have not committed a crime, witnessed a murder or had a new-born baby stolen whilst in the Maternity Unit. I started writing this first full-length novel in 2011 after watching a BBC documentary on television about the Stolen Babies of Spain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJJ7Pp_Zvvs). The investigative documentary introduced me to the background behind the baby trafficking of an estimated 300,000 babies in Spain during the Franco and immediate post-Franco periods.

I am an English woman, too old to worry about childbirth, and have not experienced the loss of an infant. How did I ensure that I wrote with authority and authenticity without the value of these experiences?

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My Experiences

I am a Mum. My daughter may be in her 30’s but I remember holding her as a newly delivered baby – the colour of her skin, the warmth and smell of her body. The memory

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of the sleepless nights and leaping out of bed to run to her assistance having recognised her cry in a room full of other babies, will not be forgotten. My maternal intuition kicked in from the moment of conception, well before the morning sickness and the tickling of tiny feet inside of my womb. Even now that she is an adult, I sense when my daughter is in danger and needs my support.

My previous employment was as a midwife and nurse. Every hospital has common features and my experiences of working in various hospitals allowed me to add detail to the hospital scenes in Silencio. It doesn’t matter that a Spanish hospital is different from one in the UK because this is a work of fiction and as long as the reader believes that the place could be real, he or she will not be distracted from the story. Having had experience of Spanish health care and hospitals, I can testify that there are more similarities than differences.

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Spain is my second home and I have lived there for a number of years, speak conversational Spanish, have travelled throughout the country, and have experienced life in a Spanish community.

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However, I am English and was not brought up as a Spanish girl within a Catholic family. Not a problem, because as the saying goes I know a man who can or in this case, a young Spanish woman who was delighted to read and correct my work and give me an insight to the lives of her mother, her sisters, her fellow villagers, etc.

Mercedes, the main character in Silencio, is a journalist. I am not a journalist but I studied the subject at university many years ago, I read newspaper articles and I am lucky to know a young magazine journalist who gave me the benefit of her experience.

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Many readers have commented on the development of the love relationship and the passion between Mercedes and Orlando. Apparently, it is quite steamy and some of my daughter’s friends are shocked that Rachael’s mum ‘wrote this’. 25 years ago, I met my husband and I thought back to those early days and the excitement that a look or a brush of the fingers could stimulate. I remembered the heightened senses and the fear of commitment and tried to bring these to my writing.

Research  

During a three-year period, I researched background information for Silencio and most of it has not ended up in my novel. One of my pet hates as a reader is to read a research-led story instead of one that focuses on the characters and plot.

In addition to internet searches, books and library research, I tried to visit each of the places in my novel. I travelled on the public transport and ate in local cafes so that I absorbed the culture. This was important when writing about a country as large and diverse as Spain because the northern life is different to that of Madrid, and the society of the eastern coastal towns does not resemble that of the central plane. The clothing changes to suit the local climate and the locals socialise in different ways. Hearty foods of the north are too heavy for the warmer climates of the south. I changed a number of details after each research visit; for example, the men in a northern village play cards instead of dominos.

My novel-in-progress A Life on the Line takes place in 1961 between York and Scarborough.

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Last summer I spent several weeks in the area as I surveyed the layout for detail and interviewed local people who remembered the period. In the York library, microfiche records of local press helped me to discover the products, trends and issues of that year and the library of the excellent National Railway Museum holds information and photos that add detail to the backstory.

Friends

There is a saying that goes something like this ‘be careful of what you tell a writer as you or it may end up in her next book’. None of my characters is based on a single person I know but each is a compilation of the characteristics of many people I have met. Mercedes, in Silencio, does not represent either of these two beautiful friends but she has the strength of one and the humour of the other. Without the people in my life, there would be no characters in my stories.

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It is time to finish this piece but if anyone wants to have a discussion about what influences their own writing, I would be delighted to read your comments. You can find out more information about my writing and research (including links to articles about baby trafficking and the Spanish stolen babies) at my website www.laberrynovels.org

Follow me on twitter @LABerryNovels or @writelindy

Like me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/silenciobylaberry

 

Silencio is available to purchase as a paperback through the following link or to order from any good book retailer  – ISBN 9781785890994

The EBOOK version of Silencio by LA Berry is available on all major ebook retail sites including Amazon, Ibook, Google play, Kobo, Nook – EISBN 9781785894732

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Let’s talk about the role of the mother of the bride

When Will I Come Down to Earth?

The countdown has begun and the dress fittings nearly finished. Eleven months have passed since the proposal and the day that the planning began. My daughter and her beau will speak in front of us all and I will clutch my square of soft linen, hoping that I don’t embarrass them with a sob, audible in one of the quiet moments.

Soon it will all be a lovely memory and my feet will touch the ground.

I will be sorry but also admit that I am looking forward to concentrating on book number 2.

Lessons learned are:

  1.  mother of the bride outfits can cost more than the wedding dress
  2.  you can’t convince a man that eyebrows, nails, make-up, hair, etc matter
  3.  hats don’t suit everyone and feathers coming out of one’s head can look ridiculous
  4.   money doesn’t grow on trees
  5.   the heart does swell when your child is happy

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Charlie’s Grandpa – Friday Fictioneers

 

 

 

Photo prompt©Rochelle Risoff-Fields

Photo prompt©Rochelle Risoff-Fields 

Sorry Fictioneers, this did start out as a comic piece but that dark side intervened again.

‘My Gramps lived in there.’

‘The brick place?’

‘Nope.’

‘That big white place on the hill?’

‘Nope.’

‘Where then?’

‘In there. Next to the blue one.’

‘Don’t be stupid. No one lives in a bottle.’

‘My Gramps did! Mum told me he was in there.’

‘No way. And anyway, how did he get inside?’

‘Magic.’

‘There’s no such thing!’

‘Yes there is. My mum said so.’

‘It’s impossible. I can’t even slide my finger in.’

‘No stupid. You need to be transformed.’

‘To what?’

‘Ash.’

 

http://www.rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com organises the successful Friday Fictioneers. Authors write a piece of 100 word fiction on a photo prompt and exchange comments on their work.  Come and join us and see where your imagination takes you. Thank you Rochelle for keeping this group active.

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Bake Off Recipes for the Well Padded

How did I become hooked on a programme about baking? The Great British Bake Off commanded my attention every week and woe betide anyone who dared to telephone during that special hour. I watched the contestants whip, stir, pound, and stretch their creations with single minded attention. The crazy thing is that the last cake I made was about 20 years ago and the Prince Charming was so heavy that he ended up with his head buried in the blue icing (supposed to be the sea but a rather sick looking cross between a muddy pond and a cloudy sky). Anyway, since then my constant battle with the scales has forbidden indulgences such as chocolate cakes and iced buns.

So I am making a plea; why not get the contestants to tackle some recipes for watchers of weight and the growing population who suffer from diseases such as diabetes, etc? It would give a different meaning to carrot cake and banana breads and orange muffins.

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High flight

P1010798Recently I celebrated a milestone birthday which seemed to prompt my loved ones into a competition amongst them of who could purchase me the most wayout present. When I first read this one I thought that I would be jumping out of an airplane for a skydive and my heart fell as my daughter reminded me of my fear of heights. However, this was not the situation and instead I was lifted up into the air in a wind tunnel. The instructor had me down as a troublemaker when he was unable to exit the room at the end of the briefing due to my many questions and concerns. He sounded quite shocked when he passed me my certificate at the end with a number of achieved levels ticked off and an evaluation that I was awesome. The video soundtrack is overpowered by the laughter of my family as they observed my experience and so I have settled for a still picture to show you what it was like.

A word of advice – do it if you can. What fun it was and we can’t wait to book the next trip so that the entire family can try it out.

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Two sentence horror for Halloween

Novel writing is all consuming and that explains my silence in the blog world lately. However yesterday I had a notification from someone I follow about two sentence horror and I had to respond so my friends, I am blatantly pinching their idea and starting a thread for you. My effort is below. Please post yours in my comments section. I can’t wait to read them.

When the knock came at the door, he whispered in my ear, ‘don’t answer’. I obeyed but warm fluid ran down my legs as his hand tightened on my throat.

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