…and back again

Years it’s been since I was last in here. But now I’m back in the world…just crawling out of my hermit stage and thinking I might even want to read a newspaper! or two, but which one is the whole problem. I think I might have solved it – the library will have copies of all and now that I’m retired I can saunter along there and browse to my head’s content. Saw/read an account of the Afghan situation by my old favourite journalist, John Pilger last week so am very glad to see him still around.

I recently moved down from Loch Lomond to Brighton, and love moving around the place with my new elderly free bus pass. I will be back with a book review…in a minute or two.


I’m splashing about in Kindle Direct Publishing, making a mess, trying to keep it light and dismissing stress – don’t think I’ve used any real swear words, yet. Doing April-poem-a-day this year sent me down this path; I sat up one sleepless night with the idea of settling the best of my old previously published poems in a book.

These poems are set in their decades, the 60s being full of childish memories and teenage troubles with a hint of the history of the time. The collection is thick with memoir but there are oddities thrown in; it’s a bit like a packed suitcase where other minds might boggle at the mix. In the 70s and 80s innocence meets up with experience and discovery, and the 90s are steeped in those nasty political upheavals. My intention was to paint a picture with old published poems so there has been a lot of dragging in and chucking out. I think these poems should live together, forever, and hope readers will feel the same.

Some of these poems were written almost thirty years ago, when I was an energetic and wild woman – impulsive. I’m a different being now and most of my recent work doesn’t blend into this picture. If I don’t allow them space in the light they might languish in a document deep in a file system forever. There’s just something about swimming in nostalgia; here I am writing thirty years ago about the previous thirty years, loving the images and characters. That carnival is well and truly over and all the songs sung, but selective memory is a fantasy in itself. The dating of these poems (in this setting) relates to the time in the poem not the time of writing, except when it does.

Of course I forgot to include the copyright notice in the first attempt, and made such a mess of the paperback process that I decided to make a few changes. It’s good to have a little space to see how a project works out before seriously advertising the product; I nipped away one and added four re-formatted poems…and changed the cover. I know poetry won’t pay the rent but the poems are better out than in, lying around like old sloths, and, I seem to be in tidying mode which, apparently, has me re-writing, re-formatting/structuring old work…and it is interesting fun. I have achieved something and think that satisfaction will be guaranteed.

…and, here is the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071NPRZP8


Finally selecting a time for a memoir escapade, so this is the first draft of Chapter 1 of what might be titled, THE WAY WE WERE…because there will be music riffling throughout.
* * * *
1975 and the livin’ was easy. We were easy riders of the storm, Cracklin’ Rosie an’ me, doin’ the hustle, the funky moped, foxes on the run, jive-talkin’ girls, on the trail of the lonesome man… ‘cause love was the drug.

We arrived at the hotel, introduced ourselves, were given keys to a room and directions to the staff quarters. The mansion on a hill looked impressive. Further inspection brought our attention to a notice stating that the building was derelict…not fit for habitation – condemned. Our room had two single beds, which we immediately pushed together for space. The walls grabbed our eyes; it had been covered in pictures of food – we were bloody starving and skint…of course there was enough in the purses for a couple of lagers down the local pub. Unpacking only the necessary: record player, the records and the radio, make-up was topped up moolighting with Leo Sayer, then we were out in a tiny coastal town in plenty of time for last orders. Rosie and me, she and I, slightly-practised non-virgins looking for adventure where the North Sea sculpts the east coast of Scotland. North Berwick, previously unmentioned in the Glaswegian vernacular.

Normally, we would have made an entrance in a strange bar, me with my fabulous red hair, Rosie and her raucous laugh, but knackered were the bodies that had hustled themselves out of Glasgow with huge suitcases and every penny we could scrape together from our last jobs. So there was no bending across pool tables or sexing it up dancing a bump in the middle of the lounge, just a languid satisfaction in a successful plan executed. In the morning we would be re-invented as chambermaids in the biggest hotel on the sea-front…and, food should be part of the deal.

Just a Pop-in

Obsession has climbed on my back, wrapped itself around my shoulders, my head – which is lost inside a huge fiction…yes, thirteen books one after another will do that to you. I’m back in True Blood land, living in Bon Temps with Sookie Stackhouse, hanging on every word, to the extent of sometimes going back a bit to re-listen because my attention had strayed to the real world…of just one of my other fantasy places. It’s a nasty addiction, this audio book trail, this reading with your eyes shut…this falling in love with the deep south accent of the same reader through the books. I’ve only escaped for a little while to skin Facebook, Twitter, and to force a scribble for WordPress. The last book is calling me so I think I might have time to make a quick cuppa after I post this before the walls close in. outside I hear the rain running foul of the wind and am glad to be imprisoned in this wee flat, in this cosy bed.

Writing with the Tarot

I posted a while ago about using tarot as a prompt, and that I was expanding the exercise to create a stream of characters, names, places and events/plot/situations. So now I have recently returned to the first story that came out of this project and am expanding it. I’d stopped at a thousand words, thinking that it was a short story, but as the months passed I questioned that. It had occurred to me that this may be a novel. Now I think it should be a novella, and it’s sitting somewhere around 6k. The first thousand words sets up the atmosphere of a happy home expecting a late baby, and the expectations of change hitting the mother in an unexpected way; at first she was the key figure and the major change happening to her, and everyone else in the family being satellites who would, of course, respond to what she had done…but I had left the reader to imagine that response.

I myself, even though I’d created them, was charmed by all these characters and that’s probably why I couldn’t get them out of my head. So when I was writing something else I realised that the two girls were Violet and Melody, so I changed the names and moved the pieces over and found the perfect situation to slip their story onto the already written one…and because I’d done that it was natural to continue on with yet another character from the household after that.

So, the tale appears to revolve around one morning, and the choices each character makes and how they affect the dynamics of the family and its future. I did think of killing someone but that would halt the onward progress of their choices. I’m more than half-way through the third section and faced with real action in a building site (which I know nothing about) so I’m faced with the prospect of having to go photograph some of the doings of house-building – luckily, there’s one near me… I just need to wait until the stormy weather calms down so I can go spying.

In this section there are two of the characters, the oldest daughter and her father, coming together really just to show a more stabilising unit within the unit, but during this time something unusual comes to light and perhaps we get to know what’s going on inside this pleasant man’s head…some of the time. It is a very female crowd, and he’s the only man – although, the mother is expecting their first son.

If this exercise is anything to go by, I should get a ton of work out of the whole thing: this set-up came from only the first card in a spread – there are six more to go!

Link to tarot exercise


This was supposed to be a writing day and I cannot be too surprised that I only dragged a thousand words or so into the net, but I’m not complaining. There were a lot of very interesting thoughts being pickled on the inside. I am full and brimming over with projects, and they just keep coming. Right now, the one taking over is the creation of a pack of tarot cards to use in readings in a book I’m writing about how to read the cards…so all of last night was captured by the search for the tarot people in my photographic pile, and then there was the manipulation and artistic doodling. My version of the Chariot is a dump truck grumbling along the expressway out of the city on a wet Monday morning. I can’t wait until I get to the printing and gluing together stage…I have even chosen the print for the backs.

So surprise didn’t catch me when procrastination dragged me into themes to change the look of the place here, and I found this lovely blue with the swirl on top, but it might be time to attempt sleep. I’ll be back with photographic evidence of the crafting. Meanwhile, here’s a wee link to the blog that covers the publication of an anthology of short stories including one of mine.



Tales from Elsewhere

our book

It’s launch day for the anthology, Tales from Elsewhere, which includes a story written by meeeee. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Elsewhere-Sarah-Thomas/dp/1522725628/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452170228&sr=8-1&keywords=tales+from+elsewhere

Once upon an internet writing group, actually there were two, some folk just wouldn’t be parted so we joined Facebook and set up our own group.We like the freedom to post rantings and creakings of our different gates, and have now known each other for about ten years…and some of us have met. There have been a few get-togethers but as we are spread about the UK and some a little further, not all of us can make it.

In September of 2014, thirteen of us landed in a Suffolk country garden for the weekend, and what a time we had, what with the talking and the wine, and the trampoline, and the wine, and the food, the talking, the wine, the weather…everything was completely fab. It wasn’t until much later that we talked (back online again) about a collection of work that might have sprung from notes we’d taken, or inspiration gleaned while immersed in the excitement of meeting each other, and spending time in such a beautiful place.

I was all about the table and chairs set out under the trees; that is country living for a city girl like me…even though I now reside only seven minutes walk away from Loch Lomond. My hermit life-style keeps me close to home but I do wander over to take photos of the water at least once a year. The Maid of the Loch, must be the most photographed vessel in Scotland, mostly because Ben Lomond is directly in the background.

For me, Facebook is a tool that works perfectly; it saves me time keeping up with family and old friends, acquaintances…and, has the wonderful accessory of creating groups. Gone are the days when artists and writers were alone and crazy in their garrets – now we can do crazy and chat, moan or celebrate with others without leaving our chairs/beds. I never thought I would do the meetings thing – my son met his old sweetheart on FB and they got together again, sailed between Glasgow and Newcastle, back n forward, several times before finally settling down in Tyneside and now have a son! But, when the weekend in Suffolk was suggested, I knew that I wanted to meet at least some of the people I’d been talking to, and had supported me through feedback on my writing. So we did it, and felt as if we’d already met. Facebook works for us.

And now, after a year of throwing work up to be read by fresh eyes, it was re-worked, edited…and edited again, until just right, a story good enough for publication, polished.

We have a blog here

Determined: not deterred

3 days into the year and I’m yearning to begin, can’t wait for Tuesday – Tuesday, fool, is the day of pain! Dentist-day. Fill the house with smooth soup and pain-killers. I want two appointments a week…I must be insane, but now I’ve faced the fact that this is a fact I want it over asap. It wouldn’t be so bad but my old dentist moved away somewhere else…which is why I’m in this predicament and haven’t visited the house-of-pain for about three years! …and in that time two back teeth have had rock-slides, two built-up teeth have unbuilt themselves, and a crown has fallen out and its base is crumbling and throbbing. Oh, woe is me. What a crapper.

So, I will go to work tomorrow, and begin the ruthless new plan of no cakes or sweets or rubbish, in the first inst. Then, there will be less mashed potato or chips, or trashy meals. I won’t force exercise into my world yet – that would be a bridge too far.


There is something very satisfying about using up the Xmas leftovers; my last meal this year is plated, sitting in the microwave, waiting for my stomach to bang the gong. I am bathed, hair washed and teeth brushed, musing on last things. As always, everyone hopes the new year will bring a better life – these last hours count down empty promises…actually, that isn’t what I was going to say but I lost the thread because I’m watching Hemlock Grove while writing this. Blood n guts, vampires and werewolves mingle in my mind with cold broccoli, chicken n stuffing, and mashed potatoes. When I sit down with that steaming plate I’ll remember the mad meal-choices coming out of my kitchen to the blaring sound of Doctor Who and number-1 son’s gaze held fast to the screen. Shannon and Peter had kebab-meat in pita, Zander’s cheeseburger pizza rocked his world, and Susan could only manage a mug of broth…ahhh, Christmas in all its glory.

On the arm of the sofa beside me is a small selection of chocolate…and there’s a big bag of crisps in the kitchen cupboard – so are they the last of their kind in this flat? Oh and there is a tub of ice-cream in the freezer, a squeezy bottle of chocolate sauce in the same cupboard as the crisps…when will this end? I think about changing my shape but my head won’t let me or my body follow through with the necessary actions, yet. Maybe next year.

Next year – Tuesday, I will be forcing this body through the dentist’s door…what a way to start the year..but I will be starting a new life with my teeth in better condition. I wonder if one day I’ll be able to eat toffee again.

Fare-thee-well 2015

Thinking that I should be planning deadlines and being all resolute about what I want to achieve in the coming new year…also must go soak my hands in hot water so I can cut my fingernails and type without my nails skidding and clicking all over the place – see that ole bugger Procrastination still hanging around?

I could hook out a partly-used notebook and whisper penned promises in it, ramble until my handwriting disintegrates into a straight line, but if I started that I might actually come up with a real plan of action. Right now, I have completed all my chores, and accidentally swept others out of the way too – I kind-of cleaned the kitchen drawer, again, but left a wee heap of stuff on the counter that needs to find homes…and I scrubbed up old jewellery to be taken apart and be reborn in new pieces. But, I haven’t finished rebuilding that story or written any more on the others in that collection…or written anything other than xmas cards for weeks.

Space has been created, yes, in a passive way, in between other jobs – I’ve even hung the earrings I’ve kept on a jewellery stand, a big white owl, and it’s watching me from the re-cluttered desk…though its clutter that will soon pop off somewhere quite easily, soon. The force is with me; I feel the power winking at me…ye old gods – I was supposed to sort out the printers ages ago and haven’t done it yet but the force is forcing me to pay attention now and I’ve pinky-swore to do it tomorrow.

Whichever way I swing first, things have changed and some work has been done and the way is almost clear for me to…and then there are the tingles in my ancient teeth demanding I take them to the bloody dentist, but what a way to begin a new year! There is no dare here – it has to be done ’cause I’m at the end of the road, just like a 7 month pregnant woman, and there will be pain down every path but at least the dentist has better drugs than the local chemist. So, this means goodbye Procrastination…and don’t come back.