Back to school!

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Yay, it’s September! Actually, I’m not really celebrating as I’m missing Andy and Daisy, but I have to admit it is nice to have a bit more time to myself during the days… while Gabriel is napping, at any rate (please don’t drop your nap, little man!)

So, I have a general catch up post so you can find out how I spent my summer. A fair bit of it was spent in getting Custom Fit ready for publication, but I made sure I took plenty of days off too. Basically, if the sun shone we made an effort to go out and do something. Sometimes that was just a walk in the countryside, but we did take a few day trips down to the seaside. There are so many gorgeous beaches we can drive to in less than two hours (only about 1 hr 20 mins in the case of Weymouth), and now that Gabriel is that little bit older, longer car journeys aren’t quite such an issue. Well, so long as we set off early enough. I don’t want to do another 9:30 trip to IKEA ever again (NIGHTMARE!!!).

This last weekend was also the UK Meet, held down in Southampton for the first time. I’ve got to say I think the organisers did an absolutely smashing job. I reckon this was the best Meet yet for covering all letters of the GLBTQ+ spectrum, there were some really interesting guest speakers taken from outside the world of romance fiction (yay!), and the entertainment at the Gala dinner was top-notch–particularly Ukulele Jam. Who’d have thought a bunch of people playing “good songs moderately well on tiny toy instruments” could be so funny?! Continue reading

Yoohoo! I’m back! Major catch-up post.

Hey Peeps, I keep promising you a proper catch-up post, so here it is :)

Family

The kids are doing great. Gabriel is really starting to talk now, and he’s a delightful little boy. Seriously, he cut four teeth last week and even with all that going on, he was pretty well-behaved and sweet. Now the teething pains are over he’s an angel. Albeit one who says “Bum!” a lot…

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Daisy has been crowned the Queen of Selfies at school, and you can see why as she takes loads whenever she gets her mitts on my phone!

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Andy and I are doing fabulously too. Really happy here in our new home, and even happier that Andy will starting work in a new school in September, cutting about an hour and half off his daily commute. More time with me and the kids, yay!

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The Boom-chicka-wah-wah Bungalow

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The light at the end of the (cluttered) tunnel

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I think anyone who’s read Junk will know that decluttering is something very much on my mind. I blame my dad who’s a major hoarder (although kept under control by my mum who isn’t), and who has passed on his hoarding tendencies to all three of his daughters.

I’m actually doing much better than either of my sisters in terms of resisting clutter and object accumulation, thanks in a large part to reading the wonderful The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Yes, the Japanese lady might be quite bonkers, but a lot of what she advocates really resonates with me. I’ve been increasingly asking myself whether my possessions are actually bringing me joy, and most of the time the answer is a resounding NO!!! I’m now finding it much easier to let go of broken things I’m never really going to get fixed, and the things people have given me that I’ve felt guilty about wanting to get rid of. I really don’t need stuff around the place making me feel guilty.

I still have a long way to go as having a baby and moving house got in the way of my complete house overhaul–in particular I need to go through all my crafting stuff and my boxes of sentimental things. Mostly my old school work and Daisy’s drawings.

So, decluttering might be an ongoing process but I think it’s going pretty well. However, the area I’ve really fallen down in is my admin organisation. I’m nowhere near as bad as I was before the major konmari paperwork purge, but I’ve been feeling increasingly stressed by all the things I have to remember (house stuff, family stuff, writing stuff, etc) and not really able to rely on any of my existing organisational systems. The Pomodoro Technique has helped me get more work done in short bursts of time, and I’m loving the Trello app for organising some of my plans (sewing plans, mainly), but I still haven’t found the answer.

Until now, I think.

Thanks to a chance link in a blog post I was reading, I found my way to David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Now, I’m not generally a fan of reading “business” books as they can be so dry, but the subtitle really caught my attention: “How to achieve stress-free productivity”.

Yes! I need this. I’m pretty productive at the moment, all things considered, but as I’ve tried to work more I’ve been finding my stress levels rising. Some of you probably remember my application of the pomodoro technique before Christmas. I got two draft manuscripts written in record time, but by the end I was totally stressed out and spent the next month coming down with one illness after another. Also, I hadn’t even really considered how I was going to get those books edited and published, all of which takes huge amounts of time and energy.

Somewhere along the line I lost track of planning.

So, I’ve been reading Allen’s book and so far everything has resonated with me. There’s nothing particularly new here–you just use methods you’re probably already using to some degree–but what’s different is the strategy behind it. You make sure you capture all your ideas the moment you have them so you don’t have to rely on your short term memory, but you have to capture them in a way that you trust yourself to monitor and review. This is where I’ve been going wrong. Making notes but never looking at them again. Losing lists. Having lists in too many different places. Saving things I should be getting rid of, and so on…

So for the next couple of weeks I’m getting my admin in order, then moving house, and I’m going to worry about getting Custom Fit edited after that. Expect to see it in June. Probably.

You know what, I’m feeling more energised and happy than I have done in months. Years, perhaps. Woohoo!

Anyone else here decluttering or getting organised? Do you have any good tips or links?

Much belated blog catch up

Hey peeps, how’s things?!

I’ve missed blogging and reading all your comments, but so far 2016 has been kicking my arse and I’ve just needed a bit of time and space. Here’s a cute picture of the kids, followed by a quick recap of what’s been going on here at Myles HQ:

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Househunting:

I spent January in crazy house viewing mode, averaging 3-4 a week. Eventually found the right place at the right price. It’s a 60s bungalow with a great big main room and a decent sized garden. Also, fab retro decor. Should be moving over Easter, fingers crossed.

Illness:

The family has been hit with illness after illness. First a hideous head cold, then a stomach bug (we all got that one. Ugh!), then a nasty coughing bug, then Gabriel had an upset stomach again on Monday. I don’t think we’ve managed an entire week without one of us being ill. I’m so over winter, right now. Roll on summer!

Also, my mum has been hospitalised three times (for over 10 days each time) for a recurrent lung infection, that won’t get better until she’s had surgery. And no date set yet for the surgery, although hopefully that will be over Easter. Right about when we move house. Excellent timing. Not.

Writing:

I haven’t done any writing. What I have been doing is editing Einstein’s Peep Show, and doing all the annoying tasks self-publishing abounds with. There are blogs to write, website updates, press packs to prepare, ebook files to compile and check and recompile (that’s my least favourite), and so on. Now I need to find some time to edit Custom Fit. Here’s hoping Mum has a couple of healthy weeks ahead as I’ll need her help with childcare!

IMG_4661 (Copy)Family:

Aside from the illness and househunting stress, things have been good, honest. Daisy and Gabriel are the sweetest, loveliest kids a parent could ask for, and Andy is a rock. Not in the sullen, won’t talk or budge from in front of the computer sense, thankfully!

Gabriel is now officially a toddler as he walks everywhere rather than crawls. He’s such a sweetie, and getting faster and steadier every day.

Entertainment:

We’ve had to cancel all manner of nights out what with losing Mum’s babysitting service, and illness, but at least we’ve had some good telly to watch. Am on series 2 of Game of Thrones and just about to start series 3 of The Mentalist. Also have been watching all the Sharpe TV movies which I never saw the first time around. How did I miss them?

And I’ve been reading again too. Just finished KJ Charles’ A Seditious Affair (brilliant!) and am enjoying a complete change of pace with Amy Jo Cousins’ Off Campus (also brilliant!)

Crafting:

I’ve allowed myself to have 20 minutes a day of sewing and/or knitting (no matter how busy things are), and have managed to make lots of progress so that feels great. Funny how all those seemingly insignificant amounts of time add up quickly. I’ve posted a few times over on my sewing blog, so if you have any interest in checking out what I’ve made then please head on over. At the moment I’ve almost finished a dress for myself, and have just started knitting some socks for Gabriel :)

And I think that’s most of what’s been going on. I’m pleased to report I’m feeling happy and healthy right now, so that’s positive. I just want to stick my head in the sand about the whole moving house thing. I mean, I’m looking forward to having moved, just not being in the state of moving. Ah well, it will all be over soon enough, and then I get to do fun things like setting up a vegetable garden,because I definitely need more stuff to do…

How’s everyone else doing? Give me your news!

Big hugs,

Jo x

 

Busy writer is busy

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So, this writing challenge thing I posted about the other day is going well so far. I’m really getting back into my flow and the words are going faster than ever. Will report in more detail tomorrow, but it’s great to be getting back to work properly!

I feel like winter is really here now. We’ve had a couple of days of rain and high winds, it’s getting cold and my bathroom is needing regular bleaching for mildew (boo! Rubbish landlord won’t fix the extractor fan). But with winter comes cosying in with a good book, and snuggling up on the sofa with Andy watching telly, along with plenty of shepherd’s pie. So it’s not all bad :)

I’ve mostly been reading writing books to help me up my productivity and get better with the planning stage of writing novels. But that doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned fiction altogether. Am currently getting a delicious sneak peek into the next JL Merrow Plumber’s Mate book, not out till sometime in 2016. Having writer friends is great!

There’s also been some smashing telly on the BBC just lately. Am devouring the new Viking series, The Last KIngdom (like Game of Thrones but with a much better sense of humour and none of the fantasy bollocks), and London Spy is intriguing so far. That one features a gay MC for those who are interested in that kind of thing. Which is probably most of you reading this blog, let’s face it :)

Some of you might remember me posting a month or two back about going to look at a bungalow with the intention of buying it. Someone pipped us to the post, but it’s fallen through and it’s now back on the market, at a greatly reduced price. It’s a really interesting property on a decent size plot with plenty of potential for extending. Wish us luck *fingers crossed*

Asides from that life is ambling along much as usual. I’ve nearly finished Gabriel’s quilt and I’m starting to feel like I might just about be able to get on top of this whole writing mother of two kids and general household dogsbody thing 😛

Now I’m off to cook dinner and do the washing up. Good thing I love my family!

How’s everyone else doing? Share your news!

Big hugs,

Jo xx

 

My first dictated post!

Daisy, Jo and GabrielHi everyone! Today I am bringing you my first blog post via the medium of dictation. This is an experiment for me to see whether or not I can get used to dictating things, so that eventually I can dictate all my books in an effort to get more titles out there for you lovely readers to pick up.

At the moment I have sent an email and posted a Facebook status update, and I am going to be practising with texts. For this I am using an app on my phone which then emails the transcript to me so I can put it on the blog. It’s really fun! I do feel like a bit of a twat sitting here talking deliberately into my phone but I’m sure I’ll get over that with practice. What surprises me is how long it’s taken me to try out this technology, considering I’ve had a phone capable of it for the last couple of years. I think I was put off by listening to Andy arguing with Siri on a regular basis. She never seem to understand what he was asking her to do and it would always degenerate into Andy insulting her and her saying and her saying “Now, now”. However, this DragonDictate app seems to do a better job than Siri does at understanding what you’re asking, although it will take me a while to get the hang of punctuation, and I’m having to go through all this in Word to make sure it’s correct. That aside, I thoroughly recommend it to any of you writers out there or anyone who has any need at all of sending written words. Which, let’s face it, is nearly everyone.

So what else has been going on in my life? Yesterday I went to IKEA with my sister and braved the Christmas shopping crowds. I hadn’t realised people were Christmas shopping already, which just goes to show how out of touch I am these days. I suppose I should get organised and think about Christmas shopping myself…

Winter seems to be here at last and so I don’t want to go outside much. I have been getting on with making Gabriel’s puff quilt, however, and that’s going really well. Maybe when I finished it I’ll actually manage to finish a couple of those quilts I started for the house many many years ago. You never know, I might!

Apart from all this I have been cosying up with Andy getting into Scandi noir crime dramas. They are our latest obsession. It started with The Bridge, then we moved onto The Killing, and now I think we’re going to have to try Arne Dahl. I was excited to see the BBC have the third series of The Bridge coming on soon, but not soon enough for our liking. Our well, we’ll just have to wait a few weeks. Is anyone else out there addicted to these Scandi noir crime dramas? I just can’t get enough of them!

BoysWhoGoBump 433x650Okay, that’s the dictated part of the post done with. I’m back to typing now, not that I suppose you’ll notice any difference. The other news is that JL Merrow and I have a short paranormal anthology coming out on Thursday, called Boys Who Go Bump in the Night. Isn’t Lou Harper’s cover pretty?! I’ll be posting more about that on Thursday, so watch this space!

Right, back to formatting that final ebook file…

How’s everyone doing?

Love and hugs,

Jo x

Birthday shenanigans and babyproofing

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Hey Peeps, how’s things? I’ve been busy as not only is it half term meaning Daisy is at home every day, but it was also her tenth birthday on Tuesday. I can’t believe my little girl is now in double digits! Her favourite presents were her Elsa dress and wig. There was a definite Frozen theme to her presents and party, as she shows no signs of growing out of that particular obsession just yet, despite me trying to nudge her into Minion fever 😛

We also spent Monday at Crealy Adventure Park in Devon, and although the weather wasn’t up to much we had a really fun day. It was just about perfect for a child of Daisy’s age as there were lots of soft play and outdoor play areas, with a selection of rides that didn’t have much of a queue at all. The only ones that did were the two rollercoasters, and we were given a special pass for people with disabilities that allowed us to skip right to the front of the queue. Fantastic! I haven’t been on a rollercoaster in years and was worried they might make me feel nauseous these days, but I absolutely loved them. It’s only the really spinny things I need to steer clear of, it seems.

Gabriel’s favourite thing at Crealy was crawling around and investigating autumn leaves:

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And Daisy looked great as a pirate!

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Other than those things, I’m struggling to remember what I’ve been doing with my time. Lots of laundry, I think! I am a little more advanced in the anthology project, though, so that’s something. Also, I’ve nearly finished my new novelette, so that’s exciting. Should be able to get both those things published in November :)

Tomorrow I’ll be welcoming Liam Livings onto the blog who’ll be telling us about his new novel, the final part of the Best Friends Perfect trilogy. Hope some of you can stop by to say hello to him.

Right, I have stuff to do. Piles and piles of admin, and some more babyproofing in the living room. That boy is into everything!

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What’s everyone else up to? Please share your news!

Love and hugs,

Jo xx

 

Little and often gets things done (eventually)

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Gabriel has a new bear suit. Oh, the cuteness!

Hey Peeps, how’s things?

I’m feeling much more energetic this week. I think that’s mostly because I’ve been making the effort to force myself into exercising for half an hour first thing. I don’t particularly enjoy doing it, but always feel so much better afterwards. I’m following an 8 week plan on Fitness Blender, which is a fantastic free resource for exercises you can do at home. I’m already feeling fitter even if I can’t yet see any difference :)

And I’ve also been making myself sit down and write for an hour every day when Gabriel naps. It’s another one of those things I always feel better for afterwards, even if there are a million other chores competing for my attention (or just a nice sit down with a cup of tea and a biscuit!). The story is now at about 15k, and I think I should have it finished at around the 20k mark. Now I just need to come up with a better title than Bugger My Neighbour…

At the moment I’m also busy planning for Daisy’s 10th birthday party, which is on Tuesday in the half term. I can’t believe my (not-so-little-anymore) girl is going to hit double digits! Luckily she still wants a fun party with lots of games and Frozen-related things. I have snowflake cookies to make this weekend, but I’ve made life easier on myself by ordering a printed cake topper. Now I just have to work out how to make Gabriel a quick Olaf costume, as Daisy insists he’s a little snowman.

Okay, I’m off now. Lots of work to do while my Mum looks after my little man. I have a story to finish writing!

Hope you’re all well. Give me your news! I’d love to hear what you’re all up to.

Love and hugs,

Jo xx

Yay for feeling well again!

Daisy and Gabriel

Hello peeps, apologies for the radio silence. First I wasn’t very well, then I thought I was better, then Gabriel became ill, and then I relapsed (probably because I wasn’t getting much sleep looking after a feverish, grumpy baby).

Anyway, you’ll be pleased to hear we’re all better now, and Daisy and Andy only had a mild version of the virus. Gabriel is a bit wheezy still (bronchiolitis), but he has an inhaler if he needs it. I thought perhaps he was going downhill again yesterday as he howled for about half an hour after waking from his lap, but then later on I noticed he’d cut another tooth. He’s going for a vampire look, with his lateral top incisors coming in before the middle two. Aww, baby vampire, just in time for Halloween!

As you might imagine, I’ve managed to do the sum total of bugger all as far as writing goes, but at least I’ve managed to sort through all my photos since Gabriel was born and upload them onto Photobox, in order to create a printed album. These things seem to take so much longer in the digital age, but then again, the results are pretty spectacular. I’m really looking forward to seeing the album in the flesh. I never really get prints done anymore, so this will be really special.

I’ve also been doing a very small amount of sewing, but I’m going to write about that on my sewing blog instead of here. I’ve also been watching telly. I’ve only got one episode left to go of Lie To Me (*wibble* Why didn’t they make more? It’s fabulous!), and am in the middle of Netflix’s new series, Narcos, the story of the drug cartels in 1980s Columbia. It’s a period of history I knew very little about, and it’s absolutely fascinating. Plus lots of Spanish to listen to, which I love. I also read Edmond Manning’s new book, King John, which I LOVED! But why did you have to leave it on that note, Edmond? Curse you! I can’t wait for the next installment now!

So, not much to report. I am currently in the planning process for getting out some anthologies of short stories with my partner in crime, JL Merrow, so more on that in the near future.

And I’ll leave you with a picture of Gabriel playing with Henry Hoover:

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How’s everyone doing out there? I hope you’re all healthy and happy!

Jo x

Indian summer and a lunar eclipse

 

What a cutie!

What a cutie! Gabriel has been enjoying the sunshine in the garden this week.

Hey peeps, just a quick post from me this week as I’m still feeling ill (sore throat, tired, not sleeping properly) so am keeping computer stuff to an absolute minimum. Unfortunately that means no writing from me so far this week, but I managed a bit more last week so I’m getting there… slowly.

my topI’ve mostly been chilling out, and the gorgeous weather is helping with that. I managed to wake to see the supermoon eclipse on Sunday night, and that was magical. I’ve never seen a lunar eclipse before and it was the perfect clear and mild night. I watched it over my beautiful garden, and while the moon was red I also spotted a shooting star. Just incredible 😀

And chilling involves sewing. I did post over on my crafty blog about a top I made over the summer, so if you’re interested in that kind of thing, here’s the linkie: https://annajosews.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/simplicity-1469-nursing-top-by-megan-nielsen/

Gabriel's quilt piecesI’ve also started making a quilt for Gabriel. The colours are making me happy just by themselves! Here’s hoping it doesn’t take me as long as I took to finish Daisy’s quilt. That was literally YEARS.

Andy and I have been watching Peaky Blinders in the evenings, and have very mixed feelings about the first series. It looks incredibly cinematic and polished (too much so, sometimes) and it’s an intriguing time period and setting. If you treat it just as a bit of fun it’s quite enjoyable, but it’s so clichéd and some of the dialogue was just awful. Predictable and clunky, with 2 dimensional characters. Shame really, because it could have been so good. It could have been the British answer to Boardwalk Empire. Ah well. Maybe I’m just getting too fussy as I age. Has anyone else seen it?

I hope you enjoyed Edmond’s post on Monday. I think there’s still time to enter the giveaway too :)

Oh, and if anyone feels like voting for How to Train Your Dom in the GLBT BDSM category of The Romance Reviews Readers Choice Awards, then you can vote here: http://glbt.theromancereviews.com/viewbooks.php?bookid=15113. I think you have to be a signed up member of the site, though.

And now I’m off to lie down and read the Psycop short in the Charmed and Dangerous anthology. Ah, Vic and Jacob back again!

What have you all been up to? Anyone else see the eclipse?

Jo xx