Of books and children

I have lived in Putaruru for a whole year. Sometimes it seems like 15 minutes and sometimes it seems as if I’ve always lived here. It takes a year to ‘grow’ into a new house, you need to find out what the garden does in all four seasons, where the prevailing wind comes from, whether you are happy with your décor and how to cope with the heating and cooling.

This is a gorgeous house in summer. The trees are all in leaf and they sway in the wind and the sun streams down onto the big decks around the house. I have a swing seat and I can sit in it and drink in my view.

It has been a life-changing year in many ways. On the ‘work front’ I have graduated to an author whom people take seriously. I travelled to Europe for research, I wrote a whole book, I went through a long and detailed editing process with it and I am extremely proud of the result. The cover is evocative and haunting. It is called Rachel’s Legacy and it will be released March 1st 2016 with a major launch party planned for March 7th. And PaperPlus, a big bookstore chain here, are taking me on a nationwide signing tour. Even Harpers Australia have committed to get right behind this book. So we shall see what happens…

And of course “Blood, Wine and Chocolate” came out in March and went straight to number one on the Neilson New Zealand Adult Fiction best seller list. It sold very well, it stayed on the list for 16 consecutive weeks. And I took it to a couple of wonderful and hilarious literary festivals. LOVE speaking at festivals and there are some more planned for next year.

I signed a contract for my fourth book, Levi’s War, which will be the third, and last, in the Horowitz Chronicles. It will be a new challenge, a novel in the first person. The story is full of promise and emotion and passion and I look forward to some serious writing in the next six months.

I have launched myself on a health kick. I am on insulin, injected every night and it is levelling out my blood sugars and giving me energy I didn’t know was possible. Early next year I shall have an MRI scan and then a balloon valvotomy to open up my pulmonary valve. I shall be on the path to more years of fulfilling life than I ever expected to have. Which tends to change your outlook on life.

The other part of me that has blossomed this year has been my faith, my church life and what I know now is my ministry. I love St Paul’s in Putaruru. It’s an Anglican/Methodist co-operating parish and it hums with life and the Holy Spirit. The people are delightful and welcoming and I feel at home there. I go to a wonderful weekly Bible study and I do the newsletter for the Sunday services, I sometimes read one of the readings during the service and we have spectacular morning teas (not that I eat anything I shouldn’t).

But the greatest part of St Paul’s is the children. Through the ministry of a wonderful woman called Mary we have been allowed to help so many families. Some people in this town are doing it tough, as they are all over the country, all over the world, and often the children can suffer. They come to us every Sunday and do craft work and laugh and sing and eat! Last Saturday evening was a glorious example. It was our nativity “Messy Church.” My craft table made “Jesus rocks” nativity scenes out of painted rocks – cold glue gunning at it’s best. I was the narrator for the most wonderful, almost impromptu play. Where else would the donkey hold the star over the stable and Joseph have his face painted? Then we all feasted on ham and potatoes and peas and coleslaw, followed by mountains of Pavlova, jelly and ice-cream and huge strawberries.

This morning I helped to wrap and label shoeboxes full of gifts for our children. We will deliver them on Christmas Eve. The parish and the wider community have combined to double the number of shoeboxes we have this year, not to mention the bags overflowing with goodies.

It’s not a hand-out, it’s not charity. It is a parish caring for its own. These families, adults and children, are, as we are, part of the body of Christ.  Some of our farming families have had it tough this year and the parish is there for them too, quiet help and lots of prayer. That’s one of the wonderful things about believing in God. It brings you peace and joy like nothing else, but it also brings you a supportive church family who will be right beside you no matter what.

On Friday it is Christmas Day and two years to the day since my darling Mum passed away. I will celebrate the day with family and then, later, with good friends, and there will, no doubt, be a glass raised to her. I still miss her and I wish she could be part of all that has happened in the last 24 months, but if she was, it wouldn’t have happened. She’s there, she can see and she is happy.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and all the very best for 2016, if I don’t come back here before New Year’s Eve. I never know when the urge to blog will come upon me! It is a time of children, books, cows in the paddocks, a cat asleep on the deck rail, ham and pineapple sandwiches with cranberry sauce and love. Merry Christmas!

 

 

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A Christmas Blog

It’s nearly Christmas and my mind is awhirl with so many different emotions.

I moved from Cambridge to Putaruru about a month ago. Due to a high level of organisation and an award-winning number of lists, the move went very well. Nothing was broken and between the house, a garage and three sheds, everything fitted into somewhere.

This is a sleepy little town about 30 minutes south of Cambridge. People are very friendly, kids grin and say “Kia Ora” to you as they pass you in the street. The local radio station has a great copywriting team, they tell you what to do if your tractor falls down a tomo or a cow makes a banana of your gate and I love the travel agent who voices his own ads and says, “Unfortunately Richard Branson has cornered the market on space travel, but I can book you on a train to Auckland.”

I adore the house I bought and I still can’t quite believe I live here. I have a glorious view of tall trees and paddocks and (sometimes) cows. My neighbour has chickens. The birdsong is constant and fascinating. I love the inside of the house, with all its art deco touches and big windows and light, open spaces. Chloe, my cat, is in seventh heaven. She takes a running leap and climbs tall trees. She disappears into overgrown garden and reappears with a mouse in her jaws. She sits on the rails of the decking and watches the birds for hours, telling me regularly that she could catch that bird if she could be bothered going down into the garden.

There are other cats around and she is slowly educating them to the fact that this is now her patch. Not without some strife. I had to call the on-call vet out on Sunday morning to give her antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory injection because of an impressive bite in her rear thigh. But she has assured me that the other “bloke” came off far worse.

I’ve joined my local church, the parish of St Paul’s. It is alive and dynamic and has a great ministry with local kids. Vicar Jan is wonderful and funny and the congregation are very welcoming. Last Saturday we had lots of local kids and adults for “Messy Christmas.” We did craft for an hour, then dressed the kids up for a very spontaneous Nativity play and then sat down to a ham/lamb/potatoes/peas/coleslaw/Pavlova/ice-cream/jelly feast, crowned by a chocolate fountain and lots of dipping things. I was head to toe in glitter then covered by a layer of melted chocolate.

Last night I went to a singing rehearsal and at the midnight mass on Christmas Eve I am singing with four others. We are singing three songs (none of which I had ever heard before) during Communion and all the congregational carols. This is new for me. I haven’t sung in public/church for a very long time and my voice is still a bit suspect when it gets tired. But I’ll give it a go, because that’s the kind of church St Paul’s is, everyone gives everything a go.

I’ve had family visiting to see me in my new house. Sunday my niece and two great-nieces came and yesterday another niece and two great-nephews came. It was lovely to see them and to share my house, my garden, my food and my joy with them.

Next Thursday, Christmas Day, I am off to Lake Tarawera to spend the day with my brother and all his family. I’ve never spent Christmas at this house and it will be wonderful. I am taking the chocolate fountain and all the dipping things and my great-nephews have offered their services as ‘tasters’ to make sure everything is just so.

For Christmas Day is an anniversary. Last year Mum died on Christmas Day. I am not entirely sure what the day will be like, but I will wake up in a new house and go to church with people who never knew her and then go to the Lake where I never spent Christmas with her. My mind tells me it will be fine, I talk to her every day and I feel her with me every day, so why should this day be any different? Does the passing of a year alter anything? No more ‘firsts’ without her. Next March I will launch my next book and I strongly suspect that that will be harder to do than Christmas Day. I know how much she would have loved this place, but if she were here, I would not be living here. That’s what moving on is all about. The walls of this house are covered in new art, there are new ornaments on the mantle piece and it is all mine, all my taste.

I go out on my deck every morning and I listen to the birds and (sometimes) the cows and the chickens and I breathe in the clear country air and I wonder what my characters will do today when they emerge from their pages. I feel content. I feel very blessed. I feel complete. I live here. Happy, happy days.

Merry Christmas one and all, may you have a safe and lovely holiday, and all the very best for 2015, may your dreams come true and may they be as wonderful as you knew they would be.

Love from
Julie

Presents and ebooks

I got a cool present yesterday! It practically never happens to me, so I was quite excited by it. This is a woman who got a bar of face soap and a bottle of shampoo from her mother for her 50th birthday, so you can see that when it comes to presents, I give good ones, I get very little. But my brother and sister-in-law gave me an attachment for my garden hose and a pair of gardening gloves. Yes! It means I can water my garden without drowning it. I can go round with a fine mist or a not so fine mist…excellent. My Mum gave me the free gift she got at a pre-Christmas ‘do’, ready wrapped, so she had no idea what was in it. Turns out it was hand and nail cream and a buffer, good, I can use that.

It was a long day, a hot day, plenty of time in the car (nearly five hours) and lots of Simon and Garfunkle music on the way…lovely food and time with family. The boxes we’d done for Christmas went down very well. Strawberry jam, lemon honey, tomato relish and sweets, fudge, coconut ice and rocky road and some yummy shortbread, in wedges the way Gordon Ramsey taught us on telly the other night.

So, Christmas is over for another year and we hurtle towards 2012. I am looking forward to it. We don’t usually do New Year’s Eve, we start out with great intentions but at about 10pm we look at each other and say, “See you next year.” Hard to stay up to midnight when you’re 88. That’s her, not me. I used to party when I was a youngster but one day I looked at myself in the mirror and that youngster had gone (thank goodness).

 Apparently two million people got Kindles for Christmas, and probably a fair few got other sorts of ereaders. That’s good news. At present “The Secret Keeper” is being downloaded from Amazon about forty times an hour and is nearly at 3500 for December. That seems a lot of people reading my work, which makes me gulp a little. Nearly 7600 over the three books in three and a half months. It’s funny how you get used to it, though. When my work first started being downloaded I was thrilled that ANYONE actually chose it. Now, I watch the numbers climb and think ‘yeah, this is how it feels to be an author.’ They are picking it off a ‘bookshelf’, just as I’ve always wanted them to do. I will have one, probably two, maybe three, new works up next year…I’m leaning towards the 40-50,000 word novella and lots of product up relatively quickly and the occasional long work. That seems to be a formula that works for successful ebook sellers. Between them, the writing and Lucas give my life a structure and purpose I didn’t even know it was lacking.

Enough being philosophical, time for breakfast. There will be a newspaper to read and a house to clean (we have visitors from Australia tomorrow! how posh is that?), leftovers to eat and A GARDEN TO WATER! I will be highly annoyed if it rains, I shall probably water anyway.

Hope you’re enjoying the festive season and may all your holiday dreams come true.

The day we call Christmas

And so this is Christmas…once again the Red Baron is saving Snoopy from ice on his wings, Mama is kissing Santa Claus and shopping malls everywhere have finally ceased wishing everyone ‘For Lease Navidad’.

Christmas music, some of it makes you lose the will to live, some of it is beautiful. My favourite is ‘O Holy Night’, I love the tune, closely followed by “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” I am also fond of the Fred Dagg version of “We Three Kings of Orient Are” (“One on a tractor, two in a car, one on a scooter, tooting a hooter, following yonder star”…) If you grew up with it too, it will now rattle around in your brain all day.

Our first Christmas in Cambridge, same decorations, same 18-inch-decorations-attached Christmas tree, different rooms. We spend much more time in the car, first a brunch party down the road at my brother’s place and then off to Auckland to another brother’s place for late lunch. In both places there will be excited, laughing, bright-eyed children enveloped in a sea of wrapping paper.

I could get all nostalgic but the truth is I don’t remember a great deal about the Christmases of my childhood. I do remember having a pillowcase at the end of my bed and it had an orange in the bottom of it, undoubtedly presents too, but it’s the orange I remember. I suspect I used to wake up very early. I remember Fiona Rope told me that Santa wasn’t real.   I remember not being able to finish a whole turkey leg and losing a bet. Most of my memories are as an adult watching family units, of mother/father/children, celebrating and me spending time preparing food in the kitchen and doing the dishes. And laughing, we have some very funny people in our family.

Whatever you do and whoever you are with, I hope it is a happy, safe and enjoyable day. Oh, and Happy Birthday, Jesus.

Have I told you lately how my books are selling? Allow me a little self-satisfied smile. We are closing in on a combined total of 7000 and very nearly 3000 of those are the novel. I am #1 for free Jewish fiction on Kindle and I bet I am the only Gentile on the list! Not bad for three months. I got an email from a man who wants to translate it into Hungarian for his blog, the largest Kindle blog in Hungry. Goodness. And it now has four five-star reviews. Dad’s letters are also doing very well.

Well, time to go do Christmas preparation things and put the carols on the CD player for their annual spin. If it’s still Christmas Eve for you, I hope you have a lovely one and a great day tomorrow. And as a final Christmas gift I do HEARTILY recommend this Christmas movie from the wonderful winery, Two Paddocks. If you like movies you may well recognise the casting director and winery proprietor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAt3NXgk7zA&feature=youtu.be

The River Plate and Christmas

There are some aspects of social media that I really like. If you have an experience that you enjoy and you know someone else would, you can let them know very easily. And you can follow things that capture your interest.

I follow a tweeter called RealTimeWWII, they share tweets about things that happened at this time in WWII. We’re up to late 1939. At present I’m learning about the Admiral Graf Spee, a German raider.

It started at 6.10am on December 14th when:
“British cruisers HMS Exeter, Ajax, & Achilles, hunting German ship Admiral Graf Spee in South Atlantic, have seen smoke on horizon.”
“L.T Dennis on Ajax: “Most of us were washing so we’re at action stations in shorts, half-naked. Admiral dressed in uniform jacket & pyjamas”
“Exeter signals: “I think it is a pocket battleship!” Graf Spee advancing; commander, Langsdorff, has mistaken cruisers for merchant convoy.”
“6.17AM Graf Spee has opened fire on Exeter; German ship has much more powerful guns firing 11-inch shells, compared to British 6-8 inches.”
“6.24AM All 3 cruisers now in range of Spee, but Exeter is being smashed to pieces: front gun turrets gone, bridge crew dead to splinters.”
“6.37AM HMS Exeter’s Captain, Frederick Bell: “I’m going to ram the bastard. It will be the end of us but it will sink him too”
“6.50AM Graf Spee turning to split fire, shelling Ajax & Achilles also. Shrapnel from ranging shots has swept Achilles’ control tower.”
“Lt Cdr Washbourn, on Achilles: Control tower “looks like a slaughterhouse. 1 youngster has to sit on the unpleasantness that once was a man.”
“Door jammed by splinter; medics couldn’t get in. The wounded never murmured. 1 man quietly applied a tourniquet to himself; saved his life.”
“7.20AM Graf Spee tried to turn her broadside to sink Exeter, but heavy fire from Achilles & Ajax forcing her away – German gunfire “ragged.”
“7.45AM British cruisers have moved back, short of ammo; they’re shadowing Spee as it limps SW, to take shelter in River Plate estuary.”
“11.03AM Graf Spee, to distract pursuing Ajax & Achilles, orders crew of passing UK merchant ship SS Shakespeare to lifeboats –  they refuse.”
“Damaged German raider Admiral Graf Spee has reached neutral port of Montevideo, Uruguay British cruisers Ajax & Achilles wait outside.”

Then the action moves to the next day, December 15th
“HMS Exeter, heavily damaged after yesterday’s battle, has stopped to bury her dead at sea. En route to Falkland Islands.”
“German Graf Spee in Montevideo; international law gives 24hrs for repairs before Spee must leave. UK warships waiting.”

December 16th:
“Graf Spee’s Captain Langsdorff must decide: leave port in 72 hrs & fight UK cruisers with damaged ship, or be interned.”

And 5 hours ago:
“1.30PM Berlin: Hitler & Admiral Raeder agreeing Graf Spee’s captain Langsdorff must choose to sail for pro-German Buenos Aires or sink ship.”
“The Führer closes the message to Langsdorff: “For me, the fate of the ship and its crew is as painful as to you”
“UK ships broadcasting fake radio signals to fool Graf Spee’s crew they face huge force; actually only Ajax & Achilles, 2 damaged cruisers.”

So you know the battle is coming. Maybe it’s just me, but I find that totally fascinating and a real insight into what naval war was like in WWII.

The other thing I did this morning was read some articles about Christopher Hitchens who died yesterday from cancer. He was an amazing writer and one comment I particularly like was from MP Denis McShane who was at Oxford with Hitchens. He said, “He could throw words up into the sky, they fell down in a marvellous pattern.”

Yesterday afternoon Nana T and I picked Lucas up from his last day at school for 2011 and went to a Christmas Fair, a pet shop and an ice-cream shop. The Christmas Fair was in the old Cambridge Town Hall. Nana T used to go to dances there when she was a young girl, her first comment was “I didn’t realise it was so small inside. There was a balcony up there.” It was rather beautiful to see 88 explaining to 5 what the hall used to be like. The trees were amazing and SO beautifully decorated and there were two model railways in operation and lots of lights. Lucas was absolutely transfixed. Then we went to our local pet shop and they were fantastic with him. He had a tame budgerigar on his finger and held a Sydney silky puppy and some other puppies nibbled his fingers. We saw a guinea pig asleep on top of a large black rabbit, rats and mice and birds and some fish with bulging eyes and a blue tongued lizard. Roll on next week!

Writing tips will return tomorrow, this post is quite long enough. Anyone want to take a bet on the Graf Spee surviving?

A world of decorations

 

Christmas anticipation and writing tips

With every day that passes Christmas Day gets closer. This truth is manifested in several ways. Yesterday we hung chocolate balls on the large decorated Christmas tree in Lucas’s lounge. A surprising number of strings broke between the packet and the branches, but I was ahead of that little game and tied them together again so the ball could be hung up. On Friday he gets to eat one to celebrate the end of the school year and the start of the holidays.

Two days ago he got a letter from Santa himself. And Santa said he had his present right beside him and was looking forward to delivering it. Lucas had written a list and, apparently, the ‘fairy’ had picked it up and taken it to Santa. The same Christmas fairy who sits on top of the Christmas tree? We were playing a spy game the other day (as you do) and I had to walk in his exact footprints so that the bombs didn’t go off and he took me past the “tree of the falling nuts” and, apparently, the fairy sits on top of the tree and fires nuts at spies who try to slink past.

I heard this story anecdotally so I shall generalise it for my international audience. Five year old goes to a department store and sits on Santa’s knee. Santa asks, “What do you want for Christmas?” Five year old replies solemnly, “A beyblade.” Later that day he’s in a mall and sees Santa, sits on Santa’s knee and Santa says, “What do you want for Christmas?” Five year old frowns and says a little louder, “A beyblade!” At the end of the day five year old is in a hardware store and a wandering Santa leans down and says “And what do you want for Christmas?” Five year old looks puzzled. “Why didn’t you write it down the first time?”

So that’s why Santa is deaf. Old, deaf and not terribly bright, but still Santa and he has reindeer and best of all, presents.

Yesterday we made lemon honey. It’s the easiest thing to make, you melt butter and add sugar and lemon juice & rind and eggs and cook it over a saucepan of boiling water until it thickens. We had the juiciest, sharpest lemons and the result was divine. We’ll make another batch before Christmas and add it to the ‘homemade Christmas Project.’ Oh, I just feel so…Martha Stewart (without the insider trading) and it is fun to get down and dirty in the kitchen. Next week I have Lucas all day during the week and we’ll be making sweets and biccies. We will also have a ‘crafty time’ during the day, painting, making mosaics with all the smashed china I’ve saved and paper mache etc. It is difficult to tell who has the most fun.

My little ‘Amazon’ bubble has subsided, sales have slowed, but not entirely stopped and I am slowly slipping down the rankings. That doesn’t worry me, half a dozen sales an hour is still monumentally better than I was doing on Monday and nearly 500 people will, hopefully, read the book over the coming months. If the book is any good that might start to generate word of mouth. That’s what these three books are all about, showing the general populace that I love to write. Next year I intend to start a franchise, an ongoing series of books featuring a wonderful character – just not sure who he/she is yet.

Well we are getting close to the end of the writing tips series so today I thought I would highlight a half dozen of my own, from over forty years experience:

1. Read. Read a mixture of writing, magazines, essays, poetry, fiction, non-fiction. Read good writing and great writing, but also read bad writing. Read a few pages of a book with not such great reviews and see what went wrong and what you would have done. Read a newspaper every day, keep in touch with the world and look for ideas.

2. When you’ve finished reading, or watching something on TV, think about what made it enjoyable, think about why you liked the character, or otherwise. Think about the plot holes, what was weak, what was obvious, what else could they have done?

3. Read your work out loud. Listen to the rhythm of the words. Get someone else to read it to you so you can focus 100% on listening. If it helps, set up some empty jars and label them as your characters and get them to talk to each other. This lets your imagination take over without any subconscious filtering.

4. Go for a walk, with your senses. If it’s not the dead of winter take off your shoes and walk barefoot. Feel the difference between pavement and grass and describe it to yourself with unusual words. Listen to the sounds, smell what is carried by the wind and stop and smell flowers. Stick your tongue out and taste the wind. See how many words you can think of to describe green plants, look at texture and shape. Let your memory go to work, when I get a sharp prick on the soles of my feet it reminds me of Mum taking prickles out with a sewing needle – that’s an image I can use.

5. I believe very strongly in the power of the subconscious. I’m not sure how it works, but I know it does. If I’m having an issue with a plot/character/theme I ‘give’ it to my subconscious to work on overnight while I sleep. It’s amazing how many times I wake up with inspiration and a solution.

6. So…keep a notebook and pen beside the bed, on the desk, in your handbag. WRITE IT DOWN. Thoughts, dreams, questions, ideas – anything that pops into your brain during the quiet time and is there when you wake, or stop daydreaming, always, always, always write it down. This is your gold dust and it is unique to you. It is what makes you a writer.

Christmas, old and new

Christmas is coming. I know this because we’ve put up our 18 inch, artificial, already decorated Christmas tree and pinned our decorations up and surrounded some of our framed art work with tinsel. And last night we had a Christmas mince-pie. It was very sweet. I prefer them with a bit of a boozy punch, but if you don’t try, you don’t know.

Christmas has never been a huge family affair for us because our family is widespread. My eldest brother lives in Sydney and they have their family Christmas there. In my memory they have joined us twice, once years ago when their three daughters were still teenagers and once a few years ago when they brought one daughter, her husband and six month old daughter for Christmas. Of that first all-family Christmas in Rotorua I remember playing cricket on the front lawn and my darling sister-in-law playing her guitar and everyone singing, the three wives doing the dishes together and Dad waving his present in the air, it was packets of something like singlets, underpants or socks. 

My middle brother lives in Auckland and we’ve traditionally gone to his place for a BBQ Christmas Day. And my youngest brother lives in Cambridge and he has a morning brunch/lunch thing for his family and my sister-in-law’s family.

This year we have three stops to make, first at the Cambridge brunch party to drop off pressies and say “hi”, then up to Karaka to see my Aunt, my Mum’s twin sister, and then to my middle brother’s BBQ. Long day, big drive, lots of fun. We will bring the dessert component and are tossing up contenders. We now have a food processor (I FINALLY had enough Fly Buys points to get something useful!!) so the options available are larger. The Pav and fresh fruit salad is slightly ahead of the chocolate mousse or chocolate mud cake and fresh fruit salad. 

Traditions are the cornerstone of Christmas. I have always loved the story of the ham bone. A young woman cut the end off the ham bone when she baked the Christmas ham. When asked why, she said it was because her mother had done it. When her Mother was asked, she said it was because her Mother had done it. When her Grandmother was asked, she said her mother had done it because the ham was too big for the dish.  

I don’t have Lucas for the rest of the week as he is having medical tests in hospital. But I will have him fulltime over the Summer holidays. We have lots of exciting adventures planned. Yesterday we exploded the volcano and then it was on ‘fire’ and the fireman had to hose it thoroughly to put out the lava flow, it is paper mache, so you can imagine it has taken a bit of a beating!

The week before Christmas we’re going up to Karaka with Nana T, and he will get to meet Nana M, her sister. She lives on a farm with a swimming pool and mares and foals and lots of chickens and we’ll have a picnic under the trees. We will leave Nana T at the farm and go to Butterfly Creek for a while to see salt water Crocs and Alligators and Butterflies and Tarantulas etc. He is beyond excited about this and I’m hoping it will give him something to focus on with Mummy during the rather nasty three days ahead this week. 

And so yet another in our series of tips for writers. Today’s pearls of wisdom come from Esther Freud.

1 Cut out the metaphors and similes. In my first book I promised myself I wouldn’t use any and I slipped up during a sunset in chapter 11. I still blush when I come across it.

2 A story needs rhythm. Read it aloud to yourself. If it doesn’t spin a bit of magic, it’s missing something.

3 Editing is everything. Cut until you can cut no more. What is left often springs into life.

4 Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don’t let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won’t matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.

5 Don’t wait for inspiration. Discipline is the key.

6 Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you really know something, and breathe life into it, they’ll know it too.

7 Never forget, even your own rules are there to be broken.

My kind of Christmas Lights

 

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