Saturday, 31 December 2011

Moving Blog Sites

As of tomorrow I'll be posting my stories on Wordpress as well as acting as Guest Editor for  So please continue to follow me  if you can but I will continue to provide personal updates via this page. 

Much love and all the best for 2012

Claire xx

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Kindle Klub!

My previous blog about suprises (or lack of them) has reminded me of a little bundle of joy I received last week which I must share with you.

Last week I met up with my friend and another lady we know for our annual Pre-Christmas get together.  We drink, eat takeaway and exchange gifts.  Usually we buy token gifts - something to make each other smile.  This year I was gobsmacked when the paper fell away to reveal a Kindle!  Both Kerry and Louise bought my gift this year, as a thank you for my help with Kerry's books.  I would never have expected anything in return but this was quite a suprise.  With the iPod in the foot rest (see previous blog if you haven't already) and now this, I am Miss 21st Century!  All I need now is a Smart Phone!

I've always had mixed feelings about the Kindle, being a book lover and a sucker for pretty covers I wasn't sure I could agree with the concept, but it is a cracking idea.  They're really smart, and make books interactive.  Plus I can spend less on them (especially the monthly books for my book group).  I am now open to the idea and now I actually have the Kindle in my hands, I'm really impressed.  It's state of the art technology and means I'll be spending even more money on Amazon (they should give me free shares).  I can still buy the books that make my shelves look pretty (and clever) but this handy portable little device will be accompanying me to work (along with the iPod).  I must treat myself to a bigger handbag.......

They say I can be read like a book...

All through life, my closest family members have accused me of being a crap liar - particularly when it comes to the naughty little white lies.  "I can read you like a book" my dad always says and now, after living with my boyfriend for 6 months - he says the same.  It isn't just lies but when I'm feeling on edge or worrying about something, I repress it and replace it with yet another problem - a silly one.  On Monday I was stressing about a potential expensive problem with my car but instead I told James Asda had run out of the Christmas Trees we wanted and that we weren't having a tree now.  It was an irrational, childish statement but it was simply hiding the real cause of my anxiety.  Eventually when I explained, he told me to just tell him about the real problem instead of creating new ones.

It isn't just lies I have trouble with, keeping a suprise for someone is a difficult task for me.  For the first time since leaving the family nest, I can safely say my house feels like home.  Although I share it with James and his friend - it's mine.  Well, ours.  I can put things where I want them, clean up when I'm ready to clean up and have friends round whenever I feel like it.  So this Christmas will not only be our first Christmas together (we've always found it easier to go to our own families before now) but our first Christmas in a place we can both truely call home.

We won't be hosting a family meal - we're visiting both families on Christmas Day for all that but we'll have the rest of our time off in our home and I want it to be perfect.  We can have friends round and we've got all kinds of wines, spirits and snacks to offer our guests.  I guess this is one of the reasons why I got in a state about the Christmas Tree.

Moving on from the tree saga, I have just realised how living together makes it darn hard work to hide presents from one another!  Most of mine have come from Amazon this year.  I have taken advantage of the free postage option and have spent every other day ordering stuff.  I'd have done it in one go but I do my shopping gradually instead of using up a whole month's salary in December.  James wanted a particular kind of light for the tree (which Asda  had also run out of).  In the end, the tree came from Argos and lights from Amazon.  Then I remembered the book I wanted to get him (best not mention what it is just yet) so ordered that too.

So safe in the knowledge that tree and lights are on their way, I started wrapping all the presents.  I feel like there is no element of suprise for James because he knows what I've got for him, so I've bought a few other bits of pieces.  In return, I know what I'm getting because I went to the shop and picked it out for him.  He told me he has sent it to Santa, so, while he's at work I must not look for it.  Like I would..........yes, I would.  I've had to spend many Christmas mornings pretending to be suprised because I had spent weeks rooting around mum's bedroom.  I'm still like this now - in fact, I'm at mum's house this evening and I've just been rooting through parcels. 

Anyhow, while James was at work, I decided to chill out and watch tv.  I pulled the foot rest towards me - it's one of those that you can keep things in but we never bother.  As I pulled it, the lid came up and I saw a carrier bag.  "Don't tell me he's been using this as a rubbish bin!" I say to myself and peer inside (when you live with two blokes, nothing should suprise you).  No, not rubbish, just the bag containing my iPod.  Oops.

Obviously I've taken great delight in fidgeting with the foot rest every time we sit down to watch tele together.  "Stop fidgeting!" He will say.  A wicked person has suggested I hide it!  Can you imagine the horror he would feel?  No, I can't do that to him.  I just can't believe he hid it in such a rubbish place.  What is he thinking?!  I hope he isn't reading this.

Just as James got home this afternoon, my latest Amazon order arrived.  Hooray!  It was tightly wrapped, I couldn't find the scissors (probably under the pile of baubles in the middle of the living room floor) so James gave me his keys.  I'm still not getting in this box so pass it to him.  He opens it and pulls out the lights and then horror suddenly spreads across my face.  I leap up from the sofa, snatch the box off him and look at his shocked, offended face, "what else did you see in this box?" I demand, hugging it tight, "nothing" he says.  Phew!  I'd forgotten about the book.  He rolled his eyes skywards and sighed at me.  As if!  Mr Hide It In the Foot Rest Man!  He still doesn't know I know.

I proceed to order yet another item from Amazon and a gift for a friend in London.  I've chosen her address for the delivery to save paying more postage than necessary.  Tonight, I've realised she'll get the receipt and then she'll know how much I've spent!  I've had to text her and insist she throws it away without looking at it.  I'm so stupid! I just wasn't put on this earth to keep secrets about presents or myself.  I really am a book.  A book in a library for all the public to read...

Since writing this she's text me back - she ordered her boyfriend's present from Amazon, using his laptop.  He logged on today, and had an email confirming his order!  At least I'm not the only one who can ruin the element of suprise.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Barely a Blogger

I have to say, I'm rubbish at this blogging lark.  I have been so busy over the last year that I now face my 31st birthday thinking, "how did that happen?"

I've finally moved to Manchester but I'm still working in Garstang.  The daily commute is a grind and I can't tell you how much I spend on petrol because it makes me want to cry.  It's also preventing me from saving any money towards the proof-reading course I'm desperate to do.

I seem to have developed a knack for editing stories and various texts for people.  A skill I developed while at university.  Recently I have been able to put my skills into practice once more for my good friend Kerry Wilkinson and his debut novel Locked In (available online via iTunes and Amazon).  He's had some good press about this and now I find myself writing reviews for it (again see Amazon and iTunes and of course,  The second book has been released in digital format this week, Vigilante (, so another review is to be composed by yours truely.  It's an absolute honour to review and proof-read a friend's book although like anyone else in my situation, you do fill with dread at the prospect of the book being awful.  How on earth do you tell a friend it's rubbish?  Thankfully, it's bloody good!  Both are.

I think my current job as an Admin Assistant is fine for paying the bills but proof-reading is where my heart is.  I need to qualify so I can start freelance proof-reading.  If the work is plentiful, I'd be able to quit the 9-5.  But alas, I have no spare cash to save up for the course I want to do while spending a fortune getting to Garstang everyday.  A circle I need to break out of but it's easier said than done.  Proof-reading career is on hold.  I'll crack on with my novel instead...

Monday, 7 February 2011

So the resolution lasted all of a week!

But I have my reasons why. 

It started with my dad being ill.  Thankfully he's better now but one scare put a lot of things into perspective. Not just for me but for my whole family.  Before he was ill there was some resentment and things being taken for granted.  Now we're back to how things used to be :)

My new job is going really well, it's a doddle really and everyone is so lovely.  Got the contract to sign now so probation period is officially over.  Hooray!

I have been reading loads, so much I'm well behind on the book reviews aren't I?  In fact I'm still to sit down and concentrate on one properly but the paperbacks keeping beckoning to me.

And finally I've been working on the same short story for ages now.  Can't seem to get it right, finally seeked advice off friends but I'm still not happy with it.  I certainly don't think it's competition material or even worth submitting to a magazine or anything.  I'm quite cross with myself for producing drivel.  Think I'll start another - it involves tea. 

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Book Review

Again, this was another novella so you're getting the short version.  You're probably sick of Twilight stuff, I know I am.  I was never a big fan to begin with but I was curious about the fascination with it all so I read it.  I must say, she's clever, she has taken lots of cliches that grasp the affections of teenage girls all over the world and put them all into a story.  The good old fashioned love triangle darkened with fantasy creatures mixed with traditional values with some violence thrown in.  War, peace and love.  Yawn. 

Having finally read the Twilight saga it only seemed fair to read, what I hope is the final installment. All sagas must come to an end afterall. I can't help but feel that Stephanie Meyer only wrote this to cash in. I would have been much more gripped by Victoria's tale of woe. Imagine the pain she felt when the Cullens killed James? Imagine her dispair and then rage. It would have been fantastic to get into her mind instead of a newborn who was in the story for all of 5 minutes. I hope we see the end of this vampire phase soon.  Bring back Dracula and his blood sucking ways.  I want old fashioned monsters not contemporary creatures with ethics!!!! 

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Small Hand, Susan Hill - A Book Review

Like the novella, this review is short and sweet.  I haven't written a review in a while and this is only from the top of my head, a month after reading the book!  Let me know if it's okay, I've been both complimentary and critical.  I have also read other reviews on  Either I'm a harsh critic or simply honest - I can't decide.  The reviews on there all rave on about how good the book is etc but I couldn't help but feel the description 'chilling' was an exaggeration.  What? Anyway, read the review, read the book and make your own mind up.

I've never read Susan Hill before and chose to read this after rave reviews of her previous books - often saying she's great at writing scary stories.  This story was the complete opposite despite it being a ghost story.  It came across as friendly and paternal almost.  Although the mood of the story wasn't what I expected, I found it to be beautifully written.  As it's only a novella there are parts of the story that left question marks engraved on my mind.  I felt some parts could have been developed further but as with all short stories, they must move quickly.  Although I was disappointed it didn't give me goosebumps I still enjoyed the story as a whole.  It was predictable in places and the time the story is set isn't clear until further in.  However it makes a lovely light read when you want to pass the time of day. 
The cover was absolutely stunning but £9.99 is still rather pricey for a small hardback - thank retail for discounts!!!

Magnum - Dragons Are Real (2007)

Brothers Grimm tribute - Story teller's night

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Cuppa Cold Tea?

At work we are in the process of getting a new computer system.  The old software is 'read only', new data is being hand written, prescription requests are disappearing into a big black hole and patients are frustrated with our temporary 'book on the day' procedure. Staff are taking turns leaving the ship to attend training sessions for the new software and in the midst of all the chaos there is one major problem brewing, or not brewing should I say? 

The kettle in the downstairs kitchen has broken down.  For some reason it won't work.  Perhaps the fuse has blown in the plug?  No one has bothered to check because they're too busy worrying about where their next brew is coming from.  The lost prescriptions and angry patients have soon been forgotten.  All of a sudden they are no longer a problem.  The lack of brewing facilities in the downstairs kitchen is the biggest nightmare of them all and even the Assistant Practice Manager has joined in with the shrills and cries in the back office.  They can't have the kettle from upstairs because the upstairs boiler thingy isn't working.  They must switch on theirs and wait for it to warm up before they get their thirst quenching brew.  Hard times.

If we take it too seriously the pump would be the real thing!!!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Preston's Newest Book Group!

I'm sure we're all guilty of never reading enough.  The broadsheets take up all your weekend, the local rag's tittle tattle just happens to be nearby when you're on your coffee break.  The television seems comforting after a hard day at the office and all your friends are on Facebook at the same time.  STOP this madness!  It's time to read more. 

Or perhaps you read loads but from the same old genre and you need an excuse to try something new but you need some friendly encouragement?

I think all these reasons combined with missing uni is the reason I wanted to set up a book group.  My mum wants to make new friends and sometimes we just need a good excuse to get out of the house on a winter's evening.

It was easy to do, pick a place, pick a time and pick a book.  Text some friends the details and voila, book group up and running! 

We had our first meeting in December which wasn't the best time really, everyone had festive madness to contend with but a small number of us got together to talk about Susan Hill's latest novella, The Small Hand.  The first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover.  Before you slap me for being so naughty, my boyfriend saw me admiring it and told me he'd read the author's other work and said she could write some really scarey stories.  As this was a ghost story I was keen to find out more and so I chose it for our first book. 

I won't let on any details in case you plan to read it yourself but it wasn't quite what I thought it would be.  I still enjoyed it though and found Susan to be a beautiful writer. 

After discussing the book over drinks we caught up on each other's lives and went on to discuss other books.  We've all got a long list of stories we want to read and authors we want to try and genres we're yet to experience.  One member, my good friend, Christine has picked Phillip Pullman's Northern Lights.  Many people I know adore the Dark Materials collection and respect Mr Pullman himself.  I am yet to experience the 'delights' of his stories so I'm really looking forward to starting this.  First thing is first though, I must complete the Twilight Saga and read Christine's copy of the short second life of bree tanner before she thinks I've stolen it! 

Review of the books we read are to follow.

New year, new challenges

It's probably too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year - whoops I just did anyway.  Apologies, you're probably fed up with it all by now.  I know I am if I'm quite honest!

So towards the end of 2010 I finally got myself a fairly decent perm job.  Hooray!  It's been a good year all in all - graduating, getting employed again and of course the start of my book group (more on that in the next blog).  So enough reflection and more on future thoughts.

I must confess all this job hunting has proven to be quite a distraction and little writing has been done since completing my degree.  I must not fall into this trap again.  So I've every intention on re-working a short story I have drafted for a competition which I missed.  That way when another competition comes my way I'll have something ready and waiting for submission!

Reading - again I have lapsed on this so less television and more reading!

Facebook - I'm spending less and less time on this stupid website and intend on spending more time on here reading blogs and writing my own.  I didn't spend 3 years bettering myself to regress back to social networking to while away valuable time.  People need more one to one communication.  I spent yesterday catching up with my cousins, I got off my ass, dragged James with me and spent a few hours with them, in person!  Lavinia has made me promise James and I will go out to Majorca to see her.  She no longer lives in Magaluf anymore (which James would hate and to be quite honest, I've tired of).  She's living up in the mountains in a pretty idyllic Spanish village which sounds lovely. If she ends up moving to Dubai we'll just go and visit her there instead, oooh what a shame!

Blogging - as mentioned above, time for more blogging and less facebooking (repetition alert!).

MANCHESTER - I will, I will, I will, I will, I will finally move in with James.  Parting company on Sunday evenings is becoming increasingly difficult :(  The problem is money more than anything.  There is never enough of it to go round is there?  I got a bit of a shock when I got my first pay cheque on Friday, once the pension, national insurance, tax and bills have been paid you're left with very little to be getting on with.

So there you have it and lets face it, they're all pretty easy goals to obtain after what I've achieved recently.  I will also be doing the usual, trying to lose weight hopelessly, be more tidy, eat less chocolate etc.