Friday, 25 November 2011

November, November, a Month to Remember


The month of November has been a hectic whirlwind of writing, writing - and more writing. 
 But I managed to take a little time out to go and see Will Young perform at the City Hall in Newcastle, with my 'sorta daughter', Dawn - and her daughter, Leah.

We went for dinner first, in the bar on Percy Street that used to be called The Old Orleans - but I'm darned if I can remember what's it's called now! 

 And then, two minutes walk around a couple of corners and we were there at the City Hall on Northumberland Road all set to see Mr Will Young himself!
He didn't disappoint.  The opening of the show was a novel and quirky theme:  the band came through a black panelled front door, complete with brass door knocker, one by one, until Will Young himself landed centre stage through that same door, complete with raincoat and bowler hat. 
 I liked the idea.  Great fun.  The crowd roared when that overcoat came off!

 Will interacted with the audience with excellent aplomb throughout the evening.  He sang a few old favourites, like 'Think I'd Better Leave Right Now' and a great rendition of Kate Bush's golden oldie, 'Runnin Up that Hill', but for the main part, he sang tracks from his new album, 'Echoes' including his hit single, 'Come On'.  His voice sounds glorious live.  He really does have a beautiful singing voice.  And what a performer!  He gave it his all. 

During, 'Silent Valentine', thousands of red heart confetti pieces fell from the sky over Will on stage.  It looked tremendous.  In fact, all of the lighting and effects were brilliant throughout the whole performance. 

I loved his band too.  And his backing vocalists were superb.  And at the end of the night, when the audience were shouting for more, more, more - he gave us more, more, more...  All-in-all, this was a great show.  You're a winner, Will Young!


The Roasting Hot Terry Chestnutt

Before I tell you anything else about this month's writing achievements, I just must tell you about an online writing buddy of mine - Terry Chestnutt.

It all started when we were chatting via Triond messaging and the topic of his fabulous Haiku website came up in conversation.  Needless to say, I subscribed to the site (it's free, constant readers) and mentioned to Terry that I'd written some haiku and an article about haiku and senyru poetry.  He loved my stuff and asked me if I wanted my pieces on his website.  Well, of course I said "YES!"

THEN, he offered to massively distribute my senyru article online with links to my website.  Well, of course, again I said, "YES!" And so, I think I can say that Mr Terry Chestnutt has become my PR man, don't you, constant readers ??? What a grand job he's doing for me.

Here's the link Terry sent me:
Haiku/Senyru Article for distribution

Visit Terry's (Wrath Warbone is his pen name) Examples of Haiku website at:
Examples of Haiku
where you can click down the left hand side column to find my pieces, 'Haiku by Sheila Newton' and 'Sorting Haiku from Senyru: it's Human Nature!'
Thank you Terry Chestnutt.  The following haiku are for you:

My Main Man, Mr Wrath Warbone
Thanks to you Terry
for being my PR man.

Terry, the Fruit and Nut Case
Terry's a Chestnutt
A brazil and a walnut
A plum and a peach 

Read his hilarious article, 'When I Win the Lottery' at:

You sure are a winner, Terry Chestnutt!

 Alice in Wonderland tells it like it is!
I was thrilled to have my third - yes, my third - 'about writing' article published on Flash Fiction Chronicles this month.  It's entitled 'A Wonderland of Wise Words' - but you'll have to read it to get the 'Alice' connection!  Here's the link:

A Wonderland of Wise Words

...or if you've missed the other two articles, 'Waltzing with the Word' and 'Adverb: Amigo or Adversary?' you can view all three on:

 Red Room
...that's Red ROOM not Red RUM - it's a writing site for promoting blogs and books etc - it's not a race horse!
I've been a member of Red Room for months, but never got around to writing anything on it.  Anyway, there was a blogging challenge - 'Write about the best photograph you've ever taken'.  So I did!  It's a little competition too - so who knows - I might win! It's entitled 'The Magic of the Wave Chamber'.  Here's the photo and the link:

The Magic of the Wave Chamber

Shaken and Stirred the name of the Boneshakers' new blues album.  The Boneshakers are the band I blog for, on:
  Rockin’ with the Boneshakers

 and I've just penned an Album review on North East Life Magazine Online.  Here's the link:
 Shaken and Stirred – Boneshakers’ Album Review


I'm Moonstruck to be awarded another Wikinut Star Page

I recently got my third Wikinut 'Star Page' for one in my 'Le Grand Tour de la France...' series.  I was pleased as punch.  Here's the link:

Le Grand Tour de la France - le Deuxième Jour

The third day of the series is also published on Wikinut at: 
Le Grand Tour de la France - le Troisième Jour

Tales from an Ionian Island

My epic series, telling of my week of adventures on the Greek island of Corfu, is completed.  I've given you links to COR! PHEW!, DAY ONE, DAY TWO and DAY THREE.  Here are DAYS FOUR TO SEVEN:

Tales From an Ionian Island – Day Four (Ημέρα τέσσερα)

Tales From an Ionian Island – Day Five (Ημέρα πέντε)

Tales From an Ionian Island – Day Six (Ημέρα έξι)

Tales From an Ionian Island – Day Seven - Ημέρα επτά

 I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I've enjoyed writing them,constant readers.

Red Hot Boots

I've just learned that the online publisher, Every Day Fiction is to publish my flash fiction story, Red Hot Boots sometime in the near future.  Wow!  They're a publisher I adore.  Their critiquing service is second to none. I look forward to really excellent short stories coming into my email inbox every day - so this is HUGE for me.  I'll give you the link when it's published. 


North East Life Photography

 When I pen my articles for North East Life online, I occasionally submit a photo or two into the 'Reader Photos' section for a bit of fun.  Well, the other day, Vijay, their design editor, emailed me to say they want to put one of my photographs into the next edition of North East Life Magazine.  Blimey!  And it's my photograph too - not my husband's - MINE - ALL MINE!  Taken with my trusty Coolpix camera.  He tells me the photgraph will be published sometime just before Christmas.  How's about that, then???  I'm a budding photographer! And here's the famous photo!

And last but not least ...

I'm a NaNoWriMo Winner!

In my last blog post to you all, I had decided to take up the National Novel Writing month challenge - to write 50,000 words of my novel, Lavender Cat.


Well, just so's you know - I DID IT!  Yes, I did it - penned more than 50,000 words in the month of November.  I'M A WINNER!  Read all about it.  Click on the link below:

Limbo Dancin’ to the Winning Post

So everyone's a winner on this blog post, constant readers
Talk to you again soon.  I hope your fingers are aching from click-click-clicking on all these links! 

Monday, 31 October 2011

What? No Blogging in November? It's NaNoWriMo!


National Novel Writing Month starts on November 1st and ends on November 30th.

It took a whole lot of soul searching and 'ums' and 'ahs' before I plucked up the courage to sign up and go for writing my novel 'Lavender Cat' in just a month.  WOW!  That's a whole lot of writing, methinks!  And NaNoWriMo is FREE!

I've tied up (I think!) my loose ends, sorted out my Amazon Kindle Direct Account, cancelled just about everything in sight apart from my Friday writing group.  I can't miss my writing group,constant readers!

I'm up to date with my Writers Bureau E-Course in Creative Writing too.  I'm SO near the finishing post now.

I told you, constant readers that I'd get on with my novel soon - and this is it!  This is the month where I get 'Lavender Cat' drafted and ready for editing - I hope!

So, wish me luck and Au Revoir, folks for the month of November.

Talk to you in December...when I'll tell you all about it! Phew!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Walk with Me on the Wild Side and Wander in my Winter Garden


Overnight bags packed and raring to go, we drove from North Shields to Kielder Water and Forest one rather unseasonably warm day in October.  The sky was a deep azure blue and the sun shone a watery yellow.

On the way, we stopped off at the pub for a 'quick one' and a late Red Admiral was doing it's thing on a French marigold.
The Autumn shades of the Northumberland National Park landscape were stunning as we drove up the bank of Elf Kirk viewpoint to take a look.  The green of the pines contrasted with the orange, bronze, crimson, yellow and garish gold of the deciduous oak, ash and maple.

Trees are wonderful things.
  • Trees provide shade, beauty and protection from harsh winters.
  • Trees help moderate temperature extremes and offset poor air quality. 
Do I sound like a tree-hugger?  Yes? Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say least I don't think so!


Starting at Matthew's Linn car park, we strolled the three miles there and back to the Mirage, a man-made, oh-so-natural sculpture in the trees, creating a vision of glittering starlight in the pine trees.
The walk to it, with the lake to our right and autumn foliage to our left was sublime.  We must have been feeling particularly lazy on this mild, hazy day, because we stopped to have a cuppa here there and everywhere.
Clouds in the Weir

We took a break on the new bridge that has recently received a Prime Minister's award, where reflections of the clouds above shone like snowdrifts in Bakethin Weir.
We had tea and biscuits at Patterson's Pause, where 'hewn-out-of-the-rock' picnic table and two benches overlook Kielder Water - and where reflections of the tall pines ripple and sway in the weir as it meets the lake.

Adding a Stone to Kitle Cairn
We had coffee when we stopped at Whistler Cairn and Kitle Cairn and I added a stone to each of them.
Nearing the mirage, I said, as I spied splendid toadstools holding their heads high in among the mosses, "I don't think I'm going to be so impressed by this mirage sculpture thing.  It can't possibly be as pretty as the woodland and the lake."  But I was about to be taken by surprise.


Mirage is stunning. Mirage is amazing.  As we drew toward it, we were taken aback by the shiny discs attached to the Sitka Spruce trees as they shimmered in the dark forest, lit up like a thousand stars by the sunlight and the water beyond the forest.
We took a walk up into the forest on the boardwalk that leads away from the track and in among 'Mirage'.  There's a rest area provided here; an interlocking terrace and ramp right underneath the art piece where you can sit and gaze up at this wonderful sculpture, devised and sculpted by Kisa Kawakami.  It comprises 500 shiny disks that form a three-dimensional cloud to reflect the light and is part of the Kielder Arts Programme.

Apparently, this area is well-favoured by the red squirrel, but we saw not a one.  That's so unfortunate because I'm still waiting to see my first ever red squirrel in the wild.  One of these days...
The 'Mirage' ferry jetty is just around the corner.  Perhaps one day we'll walk from Leaplish to Matthew's Linn (we've done this walk before and it's lovely, only about a mile and a half), Matthew's Linn to Mirage and back to Leaplish on the ferry.
I've never been on the Kielder ferry yet, so that would be a real treat.  The 74-seater, named 'The Osprey', would be a great way to make the return journey from a lakeside walk back to our starting point.  After all, the whole of the lakeside path spans 27 miles!


We walked back to the car at Matthew's Linn and drove to Leaplish, where we were staying overnight with our friend, Micky, in a lodge in Leaplish Waterside Park that looks for all the world like a log cabin in Switzerland!
Rabbits at Play in Leaplish Waterside Park

The Park overlooks Kielder Water and there are paths to both the North and the South shores here.  There are facilities such as the indoor heated swimmng pool and saunas; there's the cafe and the restaurant, 'The Boat Inn', where Micky, Dave and I sauntered the five minute walk that night for a slap up meal.  Then we wandered 'home' to the warm, cosy lodge to watch the rabbits at play on the grass.

Next morning, we awoke to the most wonderful birdsong.  The redwings were out in force wanting to be fed on the picnic table just outside the veranda area of the lodge.

Having breakfast, watching the redwings, starlings, blue-tits and a lone robin guzzle their seed was a super experience.

Micky tells us that a few days after we left him to it for the rest of the week, he had birds eating out of his hand - lucky duck!

Micky and I Kicking Back in Jim-Jams
Thanks, Micky, for a great time.  We loved it.  See you there in November, I hope.


As Autumn approaches, the leaves are falling from the trees in my garden in brilliant flurries of gold, red and yellow - and to mark the approach of winter, the heathers, winter violas and cyclamen are blooming in a cloud of bright colour.

I'd planted some cyclamen corms in the garden years ago - and up to this year, I was rewarded only with their mottled leaves - not a bloom in sight.  But this year - ah, I discovered a little patch of pale lilac flowers sitting proud under a wild rose bush.  I was thrilled!

Winter jasmine festoons the fences and trellises these Autumn days, bold and regal.
Winter Jasmine
Spiky Mahonia
Mahonia bristles with yellow fronds of flowers among the shiny green of its spiked leaves.

And I've been planting hundreds of spring bulbs to add to the thousands already established - including some more croci in the lawn.  Let's see what it all looks like in spring-time.  Something to look forward to during the long winter months.




In June, when I was walking in Dover along the mapped riverside trail with my sister, we ended up in a filthy, disgusting rubbish dump (well, that's Dover for you, but that's another story!).  Laying on its side, thirsty and dying in a pile of rubble, was a forlorn, abandoned rubber plant.
Well, I'm a softie for anything living and I nearly burst into tears.  What stopped me was my sister, who suddenly had a bright idea.
"Take it home," she said.  And I did.  Its roots all wrapped up in a carrier bag, I took it on the train back to Newcastle.  My little waif and stray rubber plant, with its brown, curled-up leaves has become my adopted baby.  As his dying leaves fell from his branches, new shoots appeared - and now he's a beauty.  We named him Dover (Sole) Soul  to begin with - and the named eventually morphed into what he's now called - RUBBER SOUL.  He lives with me in my writing den.


My sister, having lived in Australia for over twenty years, couldn't believe that Britain sold pineapples with the leaves attached.

"You pay a fortune for one like that in Oz," she said, "Just slice the top off and you've got yourself a pineapple palm."  So I did - and WOW! it's coming on a treat.



Well, folks, I've been busy, busy yet again - but I still haven't got around to getting back to my novel, LAVENDER CAT!

"SOON," I say, "SOON!"

Nonetheless, I've achieved some stuff since I last talked to you. Read on, constant readers.


Many moons ago, I told you that the quarterly magazine, THIS ENGLAND, had retained my article, 'GHOSTS AND GAMES OF LONG-AGO LIVERPOOL' for 'further consideration.  Well, guess what?  They emailed me last week asking me for photographs to go with the article that (quote)
"...we hope we may publish in a future publication of This England."  
Wow!  A little nearer to the winning post, methinks!


Another of my travel stories, 'LAST CAMEL STANDING' has been published online on their Valet Parking site.  Here's the link:

and if you want to read all three of my stories on the site, go to the list of contributors at:
There have been two more of my 'TALES FROM AN IONIAN ISLAND' published on Trifter, online.  Here are the links:

Day Two - Corfu Town

Tales From an Ionian Island – Day Two – (Ημέρα δυο)




Day Three - The Corfu Trai

Tales From an Ionian Island – Day Three (Ημέρα τρία)

Read and enjoy! There are four more tales to come, methinks, so watch this space, why don't you,
constant readers.


The story of our road trip to France has begun on the Wikinut site online.  I've also begun documenting our adventure on my travel blog, 'Sheila's Amazing Adventures'.  I'll give you the link when it's completed.  Here's the link to the first of my Wikinut travel pages about France:

 La Grand Tour de la France – la Commencement

I've just heard that my story, HELVETICA, won an honourable mention in the Fall 24 hour Writers' Weekly Writing Contest.  I win an annual subscription to Write Markets Report and an ebook, A-Z OF HOW TO WRITE SCIENCE FICTION, so I'm well-chuffed, constant readers.


Last, but certainly not least, a writing buddy and I have just embarked on co-writing a flash fiction stories blog.  I' really excited about this project.  It's called, LIGHTNING FLASHES, and our pseudonyms are THUNDER and STORM (I'm Storm!).  Collectively, we are THUNDERSTORM. The blog is at the first stage, with Thunder writing her first flash as we speak. Once we've got thoroughly going, there's a plan to publish a coffee table e-book of our stories.  Ooooh!
To date, you can read our home page and our 'Who, What, Why?' page at:

Oh, this writing year has been a fine and dandy one to date, constant readers. Talk to you soon. 

Wish me luck with my red squirrel sighting!!

 And in my best Bruce Forsyth voice, I'll leave you with this.