Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The last day of the year

It's traditional to look back over the last year on New Year's Eve - to revisit the highs and lows of the previous twelve months.

For some of you reading this post, 2014 will have been a year you'd rather forget. My wish for you is that 2015 will be a less painful time and that there will be glimmers of light in the darkness you're currently experiencing.

Others will be reading this feeling rather chuffed at all they've achieved, bouyed up by celebrations held with family and friends to mark momentous life moments.

Me? Well, I'm not going to look back. Not for long, anyway. There have been some wonderful moments and there have been some not so good moments, but on balance - I'd say it was a pretty good year.

What the turn of the year gives is an opportunity to change things that lay within my power to change. And for that reason, I'm going to look forward, not back - because there is something rather big I want to change. About myself.

I've decided I spend too much time procrastinating. Since I gave up working about eighteen months ago, I don't have a particular routine. I tend to do what I want, when I want, (within the bounds of family and school and housework etc) which isn't always very helpful; it's too easy to put off 'til tomorrow (or the day after, or the day after that) something that needs/ought to be done.

So in 2015, I'm going to make a real effort to do the things I keep saying I'll do but don't. I'm going to set myself targets for publication of Granny Rainbow 2 and StarMark. I'm going to write new material, come what may. I'm also going to ensure that my hall, stairs and landing get decorated after the insulation work we're planning is completed; redecorate my dining room once the stove is fitted; ensure we get a family holiday in the summer and meet up with friends and family I've not seen for ages, because you never know what's around the corner.

Above all, I'm going to push myself to keep DOING...not just let things happen.

There may be trouble ahead...who knows? But in the meantime, I'm going to do my best to enjoy 2015 so that I don't get to the end of it saying 'Where's the time gone?'

So as the old year dies and the new one leaps up, full of promise, I'm not going to wish you 'Happy New Year'. Instead, I'm going to wish you 'Hope, Health and Love.'

Because when you've got those, you can face anything that 2015 throws at you.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

And the words are back...

It's been busy this last month. It always is in December, with the usual Christmassy stuff to organise, church services to attend, family gatherings (which included a wedding the day after it snowed here!) and as an added extra this year, overseeing 3 blogs for an overlap of two or three weeks as well as Mr Squidge recovering from a minor op. (Incidentally, I hope that you've all had wonderful Christmasses and Father Christmas bought you everything you wanted. I got a proper Babycham glass and a rainbow hat! Which has got to be seen to be believed...and might form the basis of another blog post!)

Anyway, in all that time, I've not written a thing.

(Do Christmas cards count? I think not...)

It's not as if I've not tried; I've been struggling with a particular story challenge I'm part of at the moment - I had an idea, but it just wouldn't work right. Yesterday, there was a bit of a light bulb moment. I ditched my original idea and came at it from a different angle, used a different main character and bingo! Had a plot, an MC, a secondary character and I could still include the memory and item AND object I needed as set down in the rules...

Today, I started to write said story. It goes something like this:-

I stifled a yawn, flicked lint from my jacket, and turned to Rickam. "How many more?" I murmured.

That's as far as I got before the first interruption. *sigh* And I've not managed to write anything else since.

We drive to Yorkshire tomorrow to visit family, so there's at least three hours in the car I can use to add a bit more...

Fingers crossed.

At least the words are back.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

An Incredible Birth

BBC The Nativity

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas,

love from 
Squidge x

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The tree is up!

I know it's nearly Christmas when the tree comes in.

I'm one of those folk who like a real tree - a 'proper' fir tree, with sticky sap and prickly needles and the most gorgeous smell. We're lucky that we have a Christmas tree plantation a few miles out of town, and for many years now we've toddled along, walked round a muddy field and chosen the tree we want to take home. We've never cut the trees - always dig them up and stick them in a bucket of soil, about a week to a week-and-a-half before Christmas.

This year, we had to have a bit of help. Mr Squidge is on light duties after an op, so the man at the plantation had to do the digging for me, and in exchange for his dinner a friend came round to help get the tree into the bucket.

It was all I could do then to stop T rushing in and decorating it straightaway. I managed to persuade him to eat dinner first, but as soon as he'd swallowed the last mouthful...

I had a meeting to go to yesterday evening; it was with much trepidation that I left the kids to the task of decorating the tree. Knowing how quickly the novelty usually wears off, I wondered whether I'd come back to half a job done...but I wasn't disappointed. It was pretty much finished by the time I got back. There were only a few things left to put on, which I did, all the while resisting the urge to rearrange...

What do you reckon?

Monday, 15 December 2014

A new carol for Christmas...

Remember my recent poetry post? And that I said I sometimes put new words to old hymns and carols? Well, here's a carol I wrote back in 2011; it's being sung at church - on Christmas Day - for the first time ever! 

If you don't know the tune for the original, Jesus is Lord, follow this link... (though I'd sing it a bit quicker!) If you like my carol and would like to use it in your church, please just drop me a line to let me know. All I ask is that you credit me with the words. 

Jesus is born! (Tune ‘Jesus is Lord’ by David J Mansell)

Jesus is born! We see him in the manger
Babe’s precious head
Laid in a bed
Of wood and straw
Jesus is born!
With song we now declare it
God’s gift of love for all
To bridge heaven and earth
Jesus is born! Jesus is born!
Sing joyful alleluias for Jesus is born.

Jesus is born!
The first ‘noel’ is sounded
Heaven is rent
With angels sent
To shepherds poor
Jesus is born!
‘Go now and see the baby
Glory to God in heaven
And peace to you all’
Jesus is born! Jesus is born!
Sing joyful alleluias for Jesus is born.

Jesus is born!
Celestial news confirms it
Up in the sky
Star way up high
Tells of the birth
Jesus is born!
Three kings leave all to follow
Bringing their precious gifts
to the new baby king
Jesus is born! Jesus is born!
Sing joyful alleluias for Jesus is born.

Jesus is born!
And still God tries to reach us
Calling afresh
To men of flesh
To come to him
Jesus is born!
God’s love forgives us freely
Taking away our tears
And then setting us free
Jesus is born! Jesus is born!
Sing joyful alleluias for Jesus is born.

Katherine Hetzel 2011

The Nativity, BBC 2010

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Maybe I CAN write poetry...

I've always loved rhyming words. There's something musical about them if they're done right, and I have hung on to many of the children's picture books from when they were little because the combinations of words and pictures were my favourite bedtime books to read to them. Dr Seuss, Allan and Janet Ahlberg, Julia Donaldson...always such fun to share.

I love writing rhymes myself. I seem to have a bit of a knack for it - though it doesn't always come out brilliantly - and somehow, the mechanics of writing in rhyme feels like 'proper' poetry to me. In fact, the only time I've ever won a writing competition (and fifty quid!) was with a limerick :

A young lady who felt fashion keenly
Tried on a new-fangled bikini.
With two bits of string,
Some cloth and a ring,
The thing would've baffled Houdini!

I've also written new words to old hymns and's the chorus and first verse of a carol*, to the tune 'All Things Bright and Beautiful':

Once upon a starry night
Two thousand years ago
Shone a star especially bright
To show the way to go.

Three wise men saw it gleaming
And knew what it foretold
A Saviour come among us
As prophets told of old...

I don't really understand the rest of what's classified as poetry. I remember reading one poem in English Lit, years ago...written by Spike Milligan I think, about abortion. Put me off for life. It didn't rhyme, the subject (to a pretty naive 15 year old) was alien, and I just didn't like it. Same with other forms. I know a Haiku has a syllable pattern, but it doesn't rhyme. I looked through my daughter's GCSE poetry selection and shuddered, 'cos I didn't understand what made it poetry.

So I thought I couldn't write it. Until last week. NIBS had a Winter Warmer Poetry Workshop for their last meeting of the year, led by chaplain and published poet, Frances Ballantyne. Our focus was Christmas, and Frances shared some poetry with us before encouraging us to try our hand at a couple of exercises. One was simply to take a line from a carol and write two more after it. Another was to take a date (the eating sort, not the calendar sort!), a nut or a satsuma as one of the essentials of Christmas to inspire us. Look at a Christmas card picture, and write new words to replace the impersonal 'Seasons greetings' printed inside. All simple, fairly easy, and not a syllabic pattern in sight. (Is syllabic a real word, I wonder?)

Anyway, I found it enlightening and had my confidence boosted. So much so, I'm going to share some of what I wrote with you.

The Christmas Essential.

There was no satsuma in my stocking.
I got my shiny penny, a plastic whistle,
Chocolate coins and some weird flavoured lip balm -
but no satsuma in my stocking.
A notebook. A tiny star to hang on my tree...
but no satsuma in my stocking.
Is there a satsuma shortage?
Did Father Christmas forget?
I know I always sneak it back onto the fruitbowl
'cos I much prefer grapes...
But this Christmas
There was no satsuma in my stocking.

Whether it's good poetry or not, I have no idea. It comes from my own experiences of Christmas, the place Frances said her poetry comes from, flavoured with heart, life and faith. Maybe I'll share some faith poetry with day. For now, I'll stick to the satsuma.

* If you'd like the rest of the words to the carol, or to see others I've written, just drop me a line - I'm happy for you to sing them in your own church, providing I'm credited.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Happy Birthday, Stories for Homes!

*comes in, proudly carrying a huge cake with one ginormous candle, aflame on the top of it*

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you! 
Happy Birthday, dear Stories for Homes!
Happy Birthday to you!

*takes a deep breath and - *

Well, it's not strictly speaking the book's birthday - but it is a whole year since we published it!

And in case you missed what went on before - the book blast, the official launch, the Ivy House readings and Andover - then let me tell you all about it!

The brainchild of Sally Swingewood and Debi Alper, SfH is an anthology of short stories and poems on the theme of 'home', published to support the charity Shelter and to raise awareness of the homelessness situation in London and beyond. There are 63 short stories and poems, wrapped in a beautiful cover and every single bit of it - writing, design, editing, publicity - was done by volunteers who gave of their time and talent to produce this bestseller.


And it's still selling. Still raising funds for Shelter, because there is still as much need for homes as there was this time last year - if not more.

So to celebrate one year on, we've been posting snippets of the stories on the SfH website - look in the 'News' page and you'll find loads, including one from my story, Homeland - and if you like what you read, please, buy a copy. For yourself. For your Dad. For your Great Aunt Bertha who's always got her nose stuck in a book. Every penny of the royalties goes direct to Shelter.

You won't be disappointed - and you WILL make a difference!

*blows out the candle*

Now go, spread the word. Tweet it, Share it, yell it from your roof! Today!

Monday, 8 December 2014

A Christmas Book...or two...or three!

Don't know about you, but I love getting a good book at Christmas.

In fact, as a kid, my mum used to hide the book(s) under the rest of the presents, 'cos she knew that as soon as I opened it, I'd start reading and leave everything else. I'm still a bit like that... This year, for the first time in my life, I have a to-be-read pile, although it's only two or three books high! That will keep me going through the Christmas holiday, but there's still two or three I'd like to find under the tree...

You might, if you've been reading the Scribbles for a while, remember I posted about the first book in the series? Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse. Actually, as I write this, I realise I've not actually ever read the story! I just opened the pages and drank in the pictures...

Anyway, where was I? Today, I saw that there's a new Goth Girl book. Goth Girl the sequel...Goth Girl and the Fete Worse than Death. I know that it'll be just as beautifully illustrated as the last one, and who knows? I might even read the story this time.

So that's going straight on my Christmas book list. 

I might also add Terry Pratchett's Dragons at Crumbling Castle, a selection of short stories for children.

I also fancy reading The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton - it sounds fascinating.

What about you? If you could ask for a book this Christmas, which would you choose? I might let you choose a couple if you're a real bookworm - just don't make it a whole libraries worth, or Father Christmas's sleigh won't get into the air...

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A quiet time on the Scribbles (but only for a wee while)

It's going to be quieter than usual on the Scribbles over the next couple of weeks... Reason being, I'm currently writing not one, not two - but THREE blogs! Add to that the fact that Mr Squidge has just had a minor op so I'm playing nurse, and the fact that there's a lurgy lurking - neither T or myself are feeling on top form at present.

Anyway - back to blogs.

I'm revisiting the Stories for Homes blog as the first anniversary of publication of the book fast approaches. I'll be posting snippets of some of the stories as well as reports from Shelter over the next week and a half, leading up to a Twitterfest on the 13th December. You can find out all about it here, at the SfH site.

The second blog is entirely new and will run just throughout Advent; The Advent Star. My church has organised an illuminated Advent Star to travel around the parish, and we're posting starry thoughts and pics of the star on its journey, as well as encouraging folk who aren't able to host the star to put a little starlight into their own Advent preparations. Check out this post for some starry craft ideas.

And then I've got the Scribbles...It's likely that a lot of posts will link you to SfH or the Advent Star, but I daresay there will be the odd thing writingwise or creativewise that I'll not be able to resist sharing with you all. I'm still knitting Christmas balls, for example...

Just keep popping back to see what I've been up to...

Catch you later, love Squidge x

Monday, 1 December 2014

Advent...the waiting begins

It almost feels too early to put up anything Christmassy yet... but there's one thing that always goes up on the 1st December. I'm talking Advent calendars. There are two in the Squidge house, counting down to the 25th December.

One is a traditional card one with doors, stuck up in the hall. The idea is that the kids will remember to open the door when they pick up their rucsacs and head out to school. The other is a fabric hanging I made for J's first Christmas. The card one looks much better in the early days of Advent - as you open the doors, you destroy the big picture. The hand-stitched one has fabric pictures hung on button 'baubles' and always looks better as time goes by and it fills up. Mind you, all I can think of as that happens is how much I still have to do before the big day...accompanied by the cry of 'It's got to be done before Christmas!'

As a Christian, I try to take time to reflect on what this season means - waiting for the Christ Child to come again. It's a story that, for me, never gets old in the retelling - but modern life, media expectations, social pressure and - god forbid - sometimes an unexpected spanner in the works, do their best to cover the story in tinsel and turkey and worries. Consequently, I don't always manage to make time to reflect.

This year though, I need to pay Advent a bit more attention; we (my church) are sending an Advent Star around the Parish. And guess who's organised it? Uh-huh. Y'see, the three wise men originally went on a journey and followed the star, but this year, it's the star that's travelling, being passed between homes and community groups throughout December and ending up at church in time for Christmas Eve and our celebrations of Christmas.

Our star in its first home visit yesterday evening - 'cos remember,
the church's official Advent started yesterday.

To accompany our Advent Star, we're writing a special blog with starry-themed reflections and prayers for each day. If, like me, you struggle to make much time for thinking about Advent, but still fancy a daily snippet of Adventness, then why not follow the blog? You can find it here, at

Unlike the star or the wise men, you won't need to go anywhere - but you'll maybe be a few steps further on in your own Advent journey.