Tag Archives: blogs

Coffee, or something stronger?

Good day, dear citizens of the new world. My cup is full and there’s a socially distanced seat near the bookshelf here in our favourite coffee shop. Grab your beverage and head my way so we can catch up.

First of all, tell me all about your world. What has been happening to you over the past few weeks? I am sorry I haven’t met up for a coffee or even visited your blogs and websites. There is no valid excuse other than I didn’t feel like conversing with humans, in person or online. Do you ever feel like switching off? Maybe hibernating in a cave? Well, disconnecting is my coping mechanism. Those that know me well don’t mind and those that do…well, maybe we aren’t as close as we imagine.

My news is: the sprogs have returned to school. Apparently, the sickness and flu bugs received the same memo and were in full attendance from day one. War has commenced and our learning institutions are fighting the great fight to stay open as our invisible enemies threaten to overwhelm the system. Who will win remains to be seen. I have my money on a bottle of tequila and my bat cave door remaining shut. What’s the point of placing bets on that battle? You got to know hold off, know when to fold up, know when to walk away and know when to run. Betting against these odds is a lose/lose situation.

Would you like to hear some horror stories from the front line? Well, face masks are being worn and hands are being washed. Social distancing is adhered to during line ups and lunch times. But, someone forgot to tell these bugs to butt out during the in-between times. They love killing time in bubbles, sharing anecdotes with their oblivious asymptomatic carriers. They roller coaster up and down the stairs next to minions pushing in unison to get to classes and kick off after school with those careful kids walking cheek by jowl down the country roads. It kind of reminds me of Goldilocks and little Red Riding hood on vacation from the bears and wolves, laughing that they’ll never get caught because they are too damn clever. If only the viruses understood this winning attitude and followed the rules of carefully prescribed bubbles. The battle continues. I’ll keep you posted on progress (if I decide to come back out of my bat cave).

In other news, I managed to published my ebook, Moofy and Flo. It launched rather quietly a few weeks ago, without the pizazz of repeated sharing across social media and piggy backing off friends’ platforms. Needless to say, it fell flat on its hairy a…face! So, in the spirit of sharing, I’m attaching a pic and a link. If you feel the need to entertain your tiny sprogs with a delightful tale of friendship and frolicking fun that goes wrong, download a copy. The paperback version is on hold. I am battling with formatting and will try to get that down before the world ends. If I don’t, well..no one will care, will they?

Things don’t always go to plan when you try to help your friends. Trying is what matters in the end.

Before we end this titillating tête-à-tête, I must share a rather amusing story of what happened this weekend. It’s not funny in the hilarious sense – rather, an tale of stupidity and the loss of faith in some youths. It all went down on Saturday night at about 11.20pm. We were still up, watching some dribble on the telly, when there was a screech of brakes outside the window. Next, a swooshing with the impact sound that makes your insides go queasy. I ran to the window, trying to decipher where the sound had come from, or ended up. Nothing. So I ran to my sprog’s bedroom window where a horrible scream emanated from the front of our house. It wasn’t one of those, ‘Oh my god! Someone died!’ kind of screams. It was more of the ‘Stop him! Oh my god! Catch him!’ variation.

By the time we got downstairs and out the front door (in our pyjamas), the neighbours had already assembled around the front garden of the house adjacent to ours. We live at a road junction which has become a thorough-fair for traffic avoiding roadworks and late night speed trails. While scanning the area to see what had occurred, I noticed my neighbour’s front hedge had a gaping hole in it. The grass was smooshed down in front of it and the focus of the gathering spectators pointed to something hidden beyond that toothless green grin. Just as I was about to ask what happened, I spotted a figure climbing over the hedge and dropping like a drunk bee onto the pavement. Being the good citizen that I am, I pointed to this young fellow and asked if he was involved. The avengers raised their war cry to stop this grass seed from leaving the crime scene as his friends had done before we arrived (which explained the earlier screams). Unfortunately, the hyped up youth thought it best to run through the defense line and ended up face to face with me. We both bent forward, ready to scrum. He lunged to the right. I turned and grabbed his shirt, holding on for a mere second before releasing it. Thoughts flying throw my adrenalin-fuelled brain warned me to watch out for germs and to remember the laws of the land. He stumbled straight towards the hubble who in turn snatched and released the lad. We watched him run up the road to the harrowing sounds of rage and despair. Funny enough, no one gave chase. The joys of being an adult conscious of the limitations of our wrath. The last bumbling fool to leave the car was so drunk, he forgot his phone as he stumbled over the remnants of hedge. Halfway up the road, he staggered back to retrieve his things, then walked away without anyone batting an eyelid. So much for the avengers.

I’m going to say it; if my parents were alive, the evening would have ended differently for those fine figures of society. Given the police still needed to catch them and test them for alcohol and drugs in their system before either substance disappeared, they were savvy enough not to stick around. Forget about taking responsibility and facing your mistakes. This is 2020. If you can lie, then ultimately get away with it on a technicality, you’re in the right. Isn’t that the modus operandi of politics and leadership these days? Let’s see what unfolds in the next few weeks. I’m not holding my breath for an apology from our future selves to my poor neighbour for the damage done.

Well, my cup is empty and so is my news basket. Send me your news and updates in the comments below and I promise to reply within the next few days. I hope we will get a chance to share a drink and enjoy each other’s company again soon.

Stay well and stay safe.

Aiding the Future Silent Killers

It’s Thursday morning and the house is bubbling with activity at seven o’clock. After six months of watching the early bird rise, eat his worm and fly home before anyone stirred in our house, this feels unnatural. It’s the first day of the autumn school term and we are all a bundle of nerves.

My son has packed and repacked his school bag over the weekend, checking his school list for any bits of stationery or equipment he might have missed. The school has been adamant in its correspondence: no equipment or stationery will be given or shared with students. They must ensure they carry what they need to avoid cross contamination. I put my coffee cup down to help him. He complains again that his tummy hurts. I know it’s the worry that he might forget something and get a detention, so I go over the prepared speech he should deliver in case of he forgets or can’t find his way to one of his classes. ‘Apologise first and ask for help. If they shout, explain you are anxious and it makes it hard for you to remember directions under duress.’ He gives me a look and tells me some of the adults he deals with don’t care. They are more concerned with moving crowds and settling the younger newcomers to the school. They won’t have time to deal with him. I give him a reassuring hug but we both know he has to grow up and just deal with getting lost in the new buildings they’ve erected during lockdown.

My daughter realises that she has not packed a mask yet and starts to panic because the only clean masks we have are the material masks with funny smiles printed across the front. She refuses to take one, breaking down into hysterics when I shout from the kitchen, where I’m dealing with her brother, that it doesn’t matter. It matters to her. It matters a lot. She doesn’t want to have a funny smile etched across her face for most of the day. She doesn’t want to be the odd one out. She’s going to be a senior and even though lockdown left her out of the social loop, she still had social media to contend with and that dictates what cool and what is not in the new accessory we carry with us just to breathe easier when we step outside into society.

I rummage through the tumble dryer, hoping the batch of masks we used over the weekend have somehow hitched a ride to the other side of the laundry. Yes! I’m in luck. Two plain black masks pop out and I silently cheer. She hugs me tight and the relief in her eyes speaks volumes.

Both children have survived lockdown without meeting up with friends or going out. Limited exposure to the outside world kept them safe. And us. Being high risk meant taking the warnings seriously and playing by the government rules. Not that it made a difference to their older siblings who pandered towards the conspiracy theories that Covid-19 was contrived, to downright refusing to stay boxed up for the summer. The division in our family life has been apparent. The younger two and ourselves now refer to our grouping as the ‘core four’, excluding the older siblings who shirked the responsibilities of helping us all stay safe. As the core four, we have watched the news and prayed for some miracle that would slow the spread of the virus down so that we wouldn’t be at risk. Now that it has, the return to the outside world feels daunting.

Time is ticking away. My daughter wants to leave. She’s promised her friends she would meet up with them and walk together to school. I mutter something about social distancing and she looks at me. We both know that, as much as the schools will try to keep their bubbles and make everyone wash their hands, stagger breaks and lunch times, and change school start times, the children will still congregate. After all, that is their culture. That is what they know. It takes years to change tradition and we are only at the beginning; the pioneers of a new world.

I go over the list with her again before hugging her and letting her go. The front door closes, trapping me inside and her out. She is now free to roam. My mind goes wild with the possibilities and scenarios she’s going to have to face over the next five hours. Before I know it, it’s time for my son to leave. He looks so small and vulnerable and his bag makes him hunch over. I offer him a ride to school which he gladly accepts.

The village High Street looks like an overpopulated anthill teeming with worker ants scurrying to and fro. They are wearing blue uniforms and carry handbags and satchels. Packed pavements spit out random bodies onto the road, slowing the traffic down to a crawl. The scent of perfume, deodorant and pheromones waft in through the open car window. I shut it quickly, switching to aircon. Our eyes absorb the sights and sounds of the morning traffic and I despair. Parents, children, bicycles and pushchairs fight for dominance on the narrow pathways. No one is wearing a face mask. No one remembers the death toll rising each day through April and May. They have forgotten the long days of looking out of windows, wondering if the lone stranger spotted stalking the empty streets was a carrier or victim. Now, they mix like a deadly cocktail, swirling the moisture carried on their breath through open, unprotected mouths and noses. Each one trying to reach their final destination: the local schools and businesses.

We drive to the bottom of the hill that leads to my son’s place of education. I park on the side of the road and let out a big sigh. He is clutching the back seat, excited to get going now that he sees familiar faces. My fear and anxiety release in a tirade of commands: keep away from them; don’t touch the handrails; don’t touch your face or chew on your pen; wash your hands at break and lunch; be safe!

I watch his receding figure as it gets swallowed up in the sea of blue churning at the school gates. The government promised us safety at school, better mental heath for the children and a return to normal routine to free parents to work. Doubts dance in my tummy and burn in my chest. Why do I feel like I’ve just sent my kids to a factory where they will be converted into ticking time bombs then sent home? Am I looking at my silent killers filling the streets and standing at the corner shop with their friends? I guess time will tell.

Day Three of the, This Is Lockdown. Blog Tour.

Marjorie Mallon has compiled a collection of stories and poems that capture our days in lockdown.

Hi everyone welcome to a socially distanced tea and chat with the very talented and lovely Marjorie Mallon.  Well make yourself comfortable and enjoy…

Day Three of the, This Is Lockdown. Blog Tour.

Grumpy on a Friday

Welcome to the bat cave. The coffee pot is full, so help yourself. Please excuse the dog as she has not had her walk yet and probably thinks that if she jumps high enough into your arms, you’ll take her out! I’m a bit slow today. My arthritis has decided to flare like an alien beast in my body. Continue reading

I am the virus

I am the virus.

I need to be contained.

My venom spreads with every word I say.

I am the virus.

I wish I was contained.

The spikes are taken out of the wheels and I’m definitely not sane.

I am the virus.

You’ll wish I was contained.

I’ll make your every word the last one in this endless game.

I was the virus.

I’m all alone.

Not that I regret your number calling on my phone.

I was the virus.

I followed your decree.

Now your head sits alone on my bare knee.

I am the virus

I am the virus.

I need to be contained.

My venom spreads with every word I say.

I am the virus.

I wish I was contained.

The spikes are taken out of the wheels and I’m definitely not sane.

I am the virus.

You’ll wish I was contained.

I’ll make your every word the last one in this endless game.

I was the virus.

I’m all alone.

Not that I regret your number calling on my phone.

I was the virus.

I followed your decree.

Now your head sits alone on my bare knee.

Sacha Black’s ‘The Anatomy of Prose’ is out!

I do not like manuals, self help or how to books! Yet, here I am endorsing an author who is not only a well-established Young Adult novelist, but has also written incredibly fun, readable manuals on prose, creating heroes and building believable villains. Her name is Sacha Black and she takes no prisoners when compiling helpful advice for readers and writers.

If you’re offended by a bit of profanity then this is probably not the book or author for you. But, if you’re happy to skip the bullshit and get cracking with the nitty gritty details of empowering your prose, order your copy today.

Sacha’s ability to capture the debilitating aspects of writers’ crutch words and faults and her straight forward advice on how to strengthen your knowledge on essential elements of drawing your audience into your prose without putting you to sleep or drowning you in condensed rhetoric puts her a cut above the rest.

Here is a brief outline on what The Anatomy of Prose has to offer:

Do your sentences fail to sound the way you want? Are they lackluster, with flat characters and settings? Is your prose full of bad habits and crutches?

In The Anatomy of Prose, you’ll discover:

  • A step-by-step guide to creating descriptions that sing
  • The key to crafting character emotions that will hook a reader
  • How to harness all five senses to make your stories come alive, deepening your reader’s experience
  • Tips and tricks for balancing details at the sentence level
  • Methods for strengthening each sentence through strategic word choice, rhythm and flow
  • Dozens of literary devices, and how to utilize them to give your prose power
  • Tactics for differentiating characters in dialogue as well as making it punchy and unforgettable
  • A comprehensive prose-specific self-editing check list
  • How to embody your character’s personality at the sentence level
  • The most common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid

The Anatomy of Prose is a comprehensive writing guide that will help you create sensational sentences. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will power up your prose, eliminate line-level distractions and help you find the perfect balance of show and tell. By the end of this book, you’ll know how to strengthen your sentences to give your story, prose and characters the extra sparkle they need to capture a reader’s heart.

If you like dark humor, learning through examples and want to create perfect prose, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting sensational sentences. Read The Anatomy of Prose today and start creating kick-ass stories.

Join Sacha celebrate the launch of The Anatomy of Prose at her website and order your copy here. Don’t forget to leave a review!

#StaySafe Monday Coffee

Come and sit next to me in our Covid-free coffee house. I can reach over and give you a big hug because, in this world, we are away from the madness, away from the social distancing that has kept us imprisoned in our homes and away from the chaos of confusing instructions on what our future holds.

The news of a lift on lock down protocols has sent ripples through our world, no matter where we live. Some of us feel exasperated by the ridiculous conflicting messages of lifting a lock down when we have no cure in sight. But, on the flip side, others are questioning how we are going to keep eating, drinking and switching on the lights and heating in our caves if the economy dies? We could sit here and enjoy the chocolate cake and finger sandwiches, but even this won’t last if the world stops. First world problems compared to those living in developing countries I hear you say – or maybe not.

I was discussing this dilemma the other day. To say that we are a mixed bag of circumstances is not a strong enough statement to capture the worrying conditions of some families locked away in high rise buildings with only the graffiti on dirty walls to entertain children. The conclusion I reached was: humans will always find a way. We are the cockroaches of the earth. Bickering, name calling, finger pointing and wearing impassioned charitable cloaks to cover our self-serving natures are all part and parcel of our nature. But so is our adaptability and enduring natures. What we need is a common enemy – something or someone that will force nations to break down their feeble fences and hold hands with neighbours to battle for our freedom and survival. Will this current destructive force be enough to evolve our muted minds and make us move towards a more cohesive future with our environment? I don’t know. History votes against us. Will our current invisible enemy win? That depends on our attitudes towards authority, their guidance and whether or not we follow it without question.

Last week, during our pregnant pause awaiting the delivery of the newly born protocols on  lock down, I noticed a rise in traffic outside my house. Cars and trucks trundled past every few minutes. Residents filled the pavements leading to the forest down the road, chatting and laughing under the warm spring sun. A gentle breeze carried conversations about coping with isolation and home schooling. Joggers took to the street, sparing irritated glances at the congregated socialites littering their paths. People forgot just how dangerous it is to travel around, to meet up with each other and to socialise in close proximity.  Their lulled sense of security made me think of the invisible enemy watching them, following them back into their lives, their homes. We won’t see their mistake, not just yet. Give it a week, or two.

As we sip at our cups and wonder at mankind’s dilemma, let’s remember what the unlocking of restrictions without a cure or proper tests will release. Let’s think about the dying economy and families imprisoned in homes that can’t cope with unstable financial futures. Let’s sit here knowing that there will be no sirens to announce the tsunami of cases rising and approaching with speed in the coming weeks. Germany saw this rise  less than a week after they lifted their restrictions on lock down. Logically, this means the movement began once the whispers of change drifted on the media wind in the precluding weeks, just like my road told the tale of forgetfulness last week.

With all this in mind, I’d rather sit here, with you, sipping at my Darjeeling tea. What will you do? What choices do you have?

Stay well and stay safe. x

 

 

A Thousand Thanks

Dear readers,

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and liking my posts. We are now a thousand strong! I am so grateful.

You are all awesome!

Sending you all big hugs. Stay well and stay safe.

El x

Thank you!

The Far Away Land

THE FAR AWAY LAND

 

Strands

floating,

reaching out –

hair in a breeze,

holding onto cliffs,

their jagged angles like

shards of glass, all broken and

sprinkled with hot ice that can burn

exposed shivering fingers and toes;

where whispering winds steal my breath away.

 

 

Copyright held by ©Eloise De Sousa (2020)