Tuesday, 16 October 2018

I'm now a Mum to a Teenager!

 My gorgeous redheaded first born is 13 today; officially a Teenager.
 From a tiny mop headed ginger nut, to a strapping rugby player.
 From his fascination with lights and cobwebs
 to one of the brightest and happiest students in his class.
 He is kind, thoughtful, sensitive, a grafter, supporter, a pleaser, strong, a brother, a level headed young man whose morals, beliefs and values are already firmly in place.
We are so proud of him.
Happy Birthday Parka.
Love you.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

I love a damned good Deli

So, I'm a bit mad about London at the moment thanks to completing draft 2 of my current Work in Progress (WIP).  See, I love researching for a piece of work, it's fresh and exciting and gives me a huge buzz, so, along the way, my main characters stumble across this deli in Primrose Hill called 'Melrose and Morgan', and since they live in the Chalk Farm/Camden area it becomes a bit of a hang out for them.
 Writing about this place, a deli I've never actually been too, has inspired the hell out of me, yes, a bit weird, but that's what research for a book can do, so, the husband has agreed to a trip to London just so I can see the places I've been writing about.
 The other great thing about doing this is, it means I can see and experience the places I've been writing about. I've done this with all the books/stories I've written, well, apart from New York, I haven't quite got there yet, and it allows me to correct minor things that actually can become huge things, such as distance, route and practicality.
Anyway, I am so looking forward to experiencing this place, and since I'm such a huge fan of Deli's, I think I'm in for a real treat.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

The Shop Around The Corner - "You've Got Mail"


So, last Sunday afternoon, I turned on the TV half way through 'You've Got Mail', a film I've seen a couple of times before, (and always enjoyed), and despite it being an hour in, I sat and watched it, and boy, why have I never really noticed that bookshop before?

Anyway, whether it's because I'm a bookworm, or because I love fairy lights, or because Meg Ryan looked amazing, this film, and in particular the bookshop, has gripped me, so much so, the current novel I'm editing/revising, has benefited from the inspiration and now I can't stop writing!

So, the bookshop I'm writing about isn't in New York, but London, and it isn't called 'Shop Around The Corner' but is currently known as 'The Chalk Farm Bookshop', which doesn't sound very inspiring, but believe me, the name means a lot to the characters, and who knows, I might even change it.

'The Chalk Farm Bookshop' doesn't just sell children's books either, and there's a very good reason for that too.

But the novel does follow the story of two people, who you wouldn't necessarily think should fall in love, do fall in love.
Happy Thursday folks

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Deanna Baker 1972

I can't tell you how many times I've posted about this woman - Deanna Baker, the American model/Playboy Centrefold 1972 who inspired the character of Lily Mills in my first printed novel 'A Love That Makes Life Drunk'.
I was first "introduced" to Deanna way back, about 12 or so years ago, during a trip to London with the husband. We stopped in a shop called Coco de Mer, a rather sexy boutique in Covent Garden, because I'd read I could buy Anais Nin books there. OK, I didn't buy any of the rather risqué lingerie (unlike Jefferson in A Love That Makes Life Drunk), but I did buy this cute Playboy Redheads book as it was sitting on the counter as I was about to leave.

Now, anyone who has read any of my work, or just a few blog posts, know I do love redheads, and so, hello Lily Mills, in fact, Deanna Baker occupied so much of my time back then, I think Lily actually kind of became her, and as beautiful as these photos are, I always thought it was a shame they "rubbed out" her freckles, because she did actually have freckles, not that you'd know here, but since freckles are part of being a redhead, I made sure Lily kept hers, and I also made sure Jefferson loved them as much as I did!
Anyway, it was a proper trip down memory lane when I found this book on one of my shelves today, and since I have a lot to thank her for, I thought she deserved a bit of recognition.

Deanna Baker - Playboy Denver 1970's

A Love That Makes Life Drunk - the novel - by Karen Roderick 2008

Happy Sunday

Monday, 10 September 2018

A Love That Makes Life Drunk - 10 years on

Over ten years ago, a man, well, a minor character I'd created in a previous story I'd written, nagged at me to tell his story. I resisted for months. I was a new mum and I had a lot to do...and learn, however, this gentleman refused to go unheard; this man is known as Jefferson Howie, and he has since been immortalised in my first self published novel - 'A Love That Makes Life Drunk' - a play on words from a letter Anais Nin sent to her then illicit lover, the American writer Henry Miller.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this post, is not for shameless self promotion, I gave up on that a long time ago, but because last night I picked up this book for the first time since it was published 10 years ago.
See, the book is an Erotic Romance/Erotica. The scenes are not just sexy, they are graphic, and since it's told from Jefferson's point of view, some of the language he uses is not for the faint hearted, and I think it's this that made me shelve it and leave it there for almost 10 years. I guess I felt, well, a little embarrassed, like my thoughts and feelings were now out there for everyone to read, and that felt pretty weird for a very long time. In fact, I'm still not wholly comfortable with it now, despite the amazing feedback I had from readers.
So, last night I picked it up and I haven't put it down since, not because I think it's a masterpiece, but because I can't actually believe I wrote it, and more than that, that a lot of other people also read it and loved it (well, not all!).
So, after abstaining for all these years, one thing is so obvious to me, I am still desperately in love with Jefferson Howie and Lily Mills, and if by any chance any of you do happen to come across and read it, I hope you enjoy it for what it is - a simple love story.
Happy Monday

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Mark Morriss' Slight Return

 Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge fan of The Bluetones. I've followed them since their first single, before anyone gave a shit about Slight Return, and I've seen them live so many times I really have lost count, and all these years later, I still love them, so when Mark Morriss' acoustic set came to Rugby Town, playing at the small, cool and rather brilliant 'Inside The 22', I wouldn't have missed it for anything.
He did an awesome set, an eclectic mix of Bluetones and his solo stuff, which blended brilliantly. He was his usual chatty, funny self, and we all loved it. He is a truly lovely bloke, a really entertaining guy...
                     who even had his own alcohol locker - brilliant hosts hey!                           
 He was also kind enough to let us take loads of photos and humoured us with chat and wit,
What a bloody great night.

Lovely North Berwick

This August, just as the heatwave was fading away, and I could go back outside again, our family and my parents took to the road and headed to North Berwick in Scotland; the first time I've been back to Scotland since getting married almost 16 years ago, and what an absolute treat.
 It sounds a bit stupid, but the thing I loved most about North Berwick is that is felt, and was, undoubtedly very Scottish and I loved it. The culture, the accents, even the laws! and the cold seas did not put the boys off venturing into the sea most days we were there and it didn't rain. I blame that on them being brought up in Cornwall!
The views were stunning, the splendour of Bass Rock with it's thousands of Gannet residents making it appear as though it's covered in snow, to the rugged coastline and rough seas, giving Cornwall a run for it's money.
 We hopped on the train to Edinburgh, since it would have been rude not too since it's a 35 minute journey by train, and although it was busy and just a little bit wet, the parts we did see were absolutely stunning; it is definitely a City we will re-visit, and this time we'll be better organised (an umbrella a must!)

 We were even lucky enough to be in North Berwick to experience the Sultans of Oman's bagpipes, who were absolutely brilliant, 
as well as Fringe By The Sea, an annual event.
All in all North Berwick exceeded my expectations. We had a great time, even if it was a bit chilly sometimes, and even if it did rain solid for the first two days, it's still managed to leave a print on our hearts, and a place we are already planning to go back to.

I'm going to be a Student again!

The other thing that happened during this year's heatwave, is that I was accepted onto The Open University's Masters in Creative Writing.
As I've mentioned before, I graduated with a BSc Hons in Sociology back in 1996, then I graduated from The University of Bristol in 1999 with a Diploma in Social Worker, the qualification I needed to practice Social Work.
During my twenty years as a Qualified Social Worker, I also went on to achieve my Level 3 Social Work status, and complete my Post Qualifying Award, so I'm no stranger to study, but this is the first time I'll have studied anything close to my dream - to write.
The last time I dabbled with study in this area was way back in the early 1990's when I studied English Literature and Language at A' Level, so it's fair to say I'm just a little nervous, but wildly excited and inspired.
So, what happened to my Social Work career?
All I can say is, I've had a love/hate relationship with my Profession since walking into my first job. I realised the euphoria, hope and promise I'd had whilst studying and being a practising student were so far from the reality of the role it was heart breaking. The compromise and conflict were almost unbearable, but I carried on because I wanted to help people.
I've dropped in and out of the Profession over the years mainly to have children and then proceed to look after them, which I absolutely loved, but in the last 18 months, as my health went into decline due to Endometriosis and now recently diagnosed Adenomyosis, my anxiety increased due to the pain and with it went my confidence. I resigned last September, and in my heart, I hoped it would be for good.
So, if I wasn't going to be a Social Worker, what the hell was I going to be?
Well, I've wanted to go back to study for a long time now, but money and family prevented it and I couldn't see this changing for years, and life felt too short, so I started browsing online at things I could study; completing a Masters seemed the obvious choice, but a Masters in what? Well, I toyed with Sociology because I am still very much a sociological creature, but I knew I'd struggle to use it in a career, and I definitely did not want to teach. I considered English. I love books and reading, and I'm not too bad with critical analysis and all that, but it still felt like a compromise, until the Open University advert to study an MA in Creative Writing popped up on my Instagram (they obviously know me!). I researched it, pondered for a few days, and then filled in the application. A few weeks later, after checks and all that, I was finally accepted. I start in October this year.
This is a massive thing for me - at 44 to completely change my career. I'm a creature of habit, and I do get uncomfortable outside of my comfort zone, however, I'm ready; I need to do this for me and my family.
So, when it's all done, what will I do?
Well, my aim is to always write. I love writing. I breathe it. It's my very essence, as ridiculous as that might sound, so, yes, I'm hoping to be a better writer, maybe I might even have the confidence to start sending my work out there, but outside of this, I'd like to edit - to have the skills and knowledge to help other people achieve their dreams - that sounds a bit great to me.
So, I'm almost ready to start this new chapter (urr, excuse the pun), and although I know it's going to be challenging, difficult, and sometimes I'll wish I'd never started it, I also know it's going to give me a huge boost, and God knows right now I need it.

Falling in Love with Bath Spa (again)

In 1993, I left my hometown of Rugby in Warwickshire, and headed down the Fosse Way with my Mum and Dad to Bath, where I'd been accepted to complete a three year degree.
I was a bit of a home bird (I still am), so leaving home was a struggle, even though it was something I knew I had to do, but more than that, I wanted to do it.
So, I made Bath my home. I studied hard and graduated in 1996 with a 2:1 BSc Hons in Sociology; but I wasn't ready to go back to Rugby, so, I rented a first floor apartment on Walcot Street West where I penned my first erotic romance novel and discovered Anais Nin's and Henry Miller's books at the local library above Waitrose. I also worked hideous shifts in a local Nursing Home, sometimes back to back, to gain essential experience so I could apply to complete what was known back then as the Diploma in Social Work, at The University of Bristol.
The rest is history I guess. After that I ended up moving to Cardiff, South Wales, got accepted into The University of Bristol, commuted for 2 years because I couldn't drive, became a Qualified Social Worker, and stayed for 7 years...at this time, Bath Spa was a very distant memory until I actually forgot it existed, until this summer, when me and the husband decided to have a random weekend away there, and I fell in love with it all over again, bringing back all those memories as to why I became the woman I am, how I learnt to write, and how that period of my life led to me eventually writing 'A Love That Makes Life Drunk'.
So, back to our weekend away, what a time we had, and I enjoyed and appreciated the beautiful architecture much more than I had when I was younger.
The other upside of going back years later, is that we can now afford a little treat, and Champagne is always my first choice, and olives of course.
I have always loved this view, I just forgot about it, lost in the chaos of life.
Our rather bijou hotel, which was OK, a little on the small, hot side, but even so, it had character...
...and a sofa you might find in Liam Gallagher's house.
Like I said, character, a little small, but still lovely.
Cheers, the first of many!
Stunning view from our hotel window.
Yep, more Champagne. I certainly didn't do this as a student.
Fine dining...
and more good times!
And my favourite pub which we quickly adopted. It also helped that it was literally next door to our hotel.
So, my trip down memory lane, turned out to be nothing of the sort, instead I discovered, or rather, re-discovered a beautiful and inspiring City I'd ridiculously forgotten about, and actually, I'm glad I did, because now I'll always remember it as a fantastic City with heaps of culture. It's definitely on our list to return again next year.

Lovely Auburn Hair

Growing up in the 1980's with auburn hair was a bit of a struggle, and back then, I hated it, and although I coped well with the piss taking and jibes, it clearly had a massive impact on how I viewed myself, because by the time I was in my 20's I was blonde, and stayed like that for years.
Then, in my early 30's, I had my first boy, Parka. He was born by Caesarean Section, due to complications, but when they showed him to me, he had the hugest mop of red hair, and I was smitten, and so, I set about growing out the blonde and going back to red, which I did rather successfully (see above).
This is my boy now; he'll be 13 years old in October, and he still has his beautiful red hair, a little lighter than mine was, but not the bright red/orange most uninformed people think of when the words "red hair" are mentioned. I hope he always keeps it.
So, time moves on, and my previously lovely auburn hair begins to grow darker with age, until I couldn't see the red at all, in fact, I'd kind of turned into a mousy brown, so, thinking I need to lighten myself up, guess what, I go blonde again, the first time in many years.
And although it certainly brightened me up, I realised I just didn't want to be blonde anymore; it was passe, it was done, and then it came to me, why the hell don't I just colour my hair my natural colour? Heavily inspired by my love of auburn haired Sindy's, there was no way I was changing my mind.
It seemed a bit weird, but as my sister is a hairdresser, she knew just what to do, and my eldest boy no longer had to be the only red head in the family, and I have to say, I will never look back, I love being red/auburn/ginger, whatever you all want to call it, it's a gorgeous rich, warm colour and although I loved my years as a blonde, I know my best times have been as a redhead.
 So, the heatwave brought sun and new hair!
 And now even my complexion looks better, after all, I was designed to be a red.
Happy Days!

I'm now a Mum to a Teenager!

 My gorgeous redheaded first born is 13 today; officially a Teenager.  From a tiny mop headed ginger nut, to a strapping rugby player...