Lucky

While working on the final revisions for The Secrets of Ghosts, I found time to turn 37 (I know, I’m a multi-tasker extraordinaire).

I had a lovely birthday with a surprise trip to Edinburgh (which included delicious red wine in my favourite bar),  and a brilliant gift from my brilliant husband. Look! Aren’t they pretty!

framed book covers_small

It’s been a fantastic start to 2014 and I’m feeling very lucky. And I can’t believe my second published book is out next month. Meep!

I’ve been mulling over ideas for a ‘release day giveaway’ and will be back soon with full details. I hope you’re all having a good (or, at least, productive!) January and, as always, thanks for reading.

We have a winner!

Thank you, everyone, for entering my Liberty notebook giveaway. Honestly, I’m so grateful for your visits and comments, I wish I could send you all a gift.

My son asked if he could pick the winner, so we went old school for the draw. I wrote down the names on bits of paper, folded them up and put them in a bowl. Lovely Son picked one out:

P1010840

Goodness, Lovely Son’s nails need trimming. Whoops. Moving on…

*Congratulations Nancy Higgins!*

(Check your email!)

Organising, Planning, Dreaming

As a self-confessed stationery-addict, September means one thing and one thing only… School supplies. Yes, I realise I left school quite some time ago, but my head and my heart still demand new pens and notebooks, diaries and planners, folders and tabbed dividers.

This year, I’m feeling the urge to reorganise my entire system. Why, yes, I am putting off starting a new book… Why d’you ask?

Instead of a separate diary, planner, address book, and a stack of notebooks, I took the notion that I should have a Master Planner (One Planner To Rule Them All). This madness started when I did a piece on personal organisers for Novelicious and spent some time on the Erin Condren website. Sigh. The pretty.

However, at around £60 (half of which was shipping) I reluctantly decided an Erin Condren was not for me… But by then I was mired in research mode (I research everything I buy to a ridiculous extent. It’s another of my… Lunacies. Adorable quirks.)

My research led me to the breathtaking organisational skills of  A Bowl Full of Lemons and the impressively comprehensive planner-review site Plannerisms.

Eventually, after a few hours spent stalking Martha Stewart stationery on the Staples website, I realised that a personal organiser was the way to go. That way I could develop my own system over time and add the inserts (homemade or otherwise) that suited me best. Yes, dear reader, I needed a Filofax.

Next the question of which one. The Malden, in scrummy aqua leather, was out on account of my inability to spend over £100 on a diary cover.

filofax-domino-personal-red-hoverInstead I settled on the Filofax Domino. It’s A5 in size, opens flat and (crucially) was on sale at WHSmiths for £22.50.

It’s red, which wouldn’t be my first choice of colour, but I like the design (it reminds me of a nice Italian notebook).

I’ll post pictures of the Master Planner once it’s arrived and been customised.

I’m hoping that this all-in-one system will help me to be more organised and to feel in control of the various areas of my life, freeing up head-space for more writing and dreaming… But if it doesn’t, I will have appeased the Stationery Gods for another September.

Pretty things: Beastie Brooches

A couple of weeks ago I had a lovely day in Edinburgh with my Mum. We saw Marcus Brigstocke at the Fringe and Neil Gaiman at the Book Festival, and had a wander around the West End Craft Fair.

This brilliant craft market runs every August and is well worth a visit. Mum and I have been many times before so there were plenty of our old favourites to see plus, as always, something new to fall in love with. This year, my heart was swayed by Linda Lovatt’s Beastie Brooches.

Linda mixes copper (with a verdigris finish) with broken china, buttons and beads to create quirky pieces like this ‘Love Birds on a Cup Handle‘.

birds on cup handle

And ‘Listening to the Nightingale‘:

listening to the night

She also makes ornamental assemblages which are a wee bit bigger and more complex. I’m thinking about treating myself to one when I get my first royalty cheque!

Bookish gifts for Christmas

My favourite bookish gift is, you’ve guessed it, a good book, but here are some ideas if you need further inspiration.

These Kindle covers are stylish, practical and On Sale. What more could you want? Varieties include Wuthering Heights, The Wizard of Oz, Dracula and Alice in Wonderland. £9.95 from Red5.

I love this whimsical homage to reading by Naoko Stoop. It’s titled Oak Reading Room and is available as a print (from an original painting on wood) from Etsy.

This ampersand necklace from bookish is somehow modern, witty, and classic all at once. It comes on an 18″ gold-plated chain and costs £16.

There are lots of book locket necklaces on Etsy, including ones with actual paper inside, but I have a soft spot for this steampunk locket by TimeWatch. It costs around £20 and the locket has spaces for two tiny photos.

Bloggers are lovely – it’s official

I started reading blogs about seven years ago. When I joined an online writing forum and met lots of nice, helpful people, I began to read their blogs. I read the blogs they recommended and followed links and soon, like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, I found myself in a magical new world. Anything at all that I was interested in – craft, recycling, parenting, thrift, writing, reading, Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I could find someone who was writing about it.

I’ve made friends, been entertained and informed, learned new skills, and even gotten freelance work via blogs and blogging, but I’m still constantly amazed and thrilled by the sheer number of lovely people doing interesting, creative things, championing issues and trying to make the world a better place, or just supporting each other on t’internet.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying ‘thank you’ to one of my more recent blog discoveries. Lulastic and the Hippyshake is run by Lucy. She covers activism, parenting, recycling and re-using, and craft, and is very funny to boot. Do go and say ‘hi’.

I recently entered (and won!) a giveaway that she ran and look what arrived this morning in the post.  A beautifully wrapped parcel of goodies from a new blog friend. Thank you so much, Lucy. I can’t wait to get crafting with my new fabric, book, and glue gun, and I *love* the china. What a fabulous way to start the week!