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Happy Sunday! Welcome back to the blog, I'm happy to see you. I hope you're all well and coping with the various lockdowns and so on. 

I'm on the CEV list (some odd reason that doesn't make an ounce of sense) so I'm technically shielding at the moment. I've been keeping myself busy though, been baking "proper" bread for the first time since I was 15. 3rd week in a row I've set on and made a loaf and this one looks as good as the others, so I'm really pleased with myself. 

Bookwise, you'll be pleased to hear I'm writing in full steam again. I have two new books on the go at the moment, one my other half is calling my 'life story' and a new fiction book that again features a twist in the way I'm writing it. I'm really pleased with progress so far, my plans are coming along and I really think the books will be good - I really need to get the courage together to get them published! 

Please understand why I don't want to give too much in the way of detail. I'm still in the drafting stages of the books and I don't want to tell you a lot of things about the book in case it doesn't come out the way I want it to - not only will I be disappointed, but so will you.

My other half has announced he has a new favourite "cake" that I've made recently - a chocolate orange cheesecake. Really quick and easy, but heavy on the calories so kiss goodbye to your diet for the day if you make one. 

For the base: I used chocolate digestive biscuits, but you can use whatever you prefer. mix the crushed biscuits with melted butter and mix so they become the consistency of sand. pour into the base of the tin or baking dish you're using for the cheesecake and press down to line the bottom. Put this into the fridge to chill while you sort the filling. 

For the filling: Now is the time to multi task. In a bain Marie (bowl over a pan of simmering water), melt 210grams of dark chocolate with 1 teaspoon of orange extract. In a small bowl mix 2 small tubs of plain soft cream cheese with 1 tablespoon of icing sugar - the cream cheese will go really soft. Remember - you must use the full fat version or the cheesecake won't set properly. In another bowl whisk 2 small pots (500mls in total) double cream - I used Elmlea - until stiff peaks - don't over whisk or you'll end up with butter. Take the melted chocolate off the pan and set aside. Fold the cream cheese mixture into the cream with a spatula and then add the melted chocolate and fold in until completely combined. 

Now to make the cheesecake. Grab the base from the fridge - it will have set. pour the filling over the base and spreadout evenly. Put the cheesecake into the fridge and walk away - it needs 3 hours minimum to set nicely (overnight is better still). of course if you want to try your cheesecake filling, there's bound to be some left on the spatula you can sample! Enjoy - but remember, this is a rich cheesecake and you don't need a lot of it at any one time. 

Okay, that's all from me for now - I have books to write. Whatever you're doing please stay safe, look after each other!

Take care, and as always, Keep Reading! x



Good Morning! Welcome back.

If you haven't already guessed by the title of this, it is finally snowing in London. Not just any snow either, this is the kind that settles and makes a beautiful white blanket all over, making it look like everything is ok with the world. 

Since I was a child, the one thing I have always loved to do is watch the snow come down. Even better, is when it is doing what it's doing now, the big snowflakes falling softly but thickly to the ground. 

I know, snow on the ground is all well and good until it begins to melt and then freezes, turning even the most regular paths into veritable skating rinks, and the risks of broken and bruised limbs is an ever present problem, but just for 5 minutes looks out of your windows, watch the snow fall and take in a deep breath. When the snow falls, all is right with the world, there's nothing but the calm that snowfall can bring. 

Actually, the snow here caught me by surprise. One minute I'm munching toast and making plans for my days writing, nothing in the sky but grey clouds and what looked to be the threat of rain, the next thing, I look up and there's huge snowflakes falling! The child in me squeaked and got all excited by the snow, whereas the adult in me, even one of my age (not sure I'm that old) had a minor panic moment and vowed not to go out for fear of slipping over and hurting myself. Not to mention, my snowboots are not something I have handy to wear.

Call me sappy, but I think there's something romantic about being snuggled up in the warm with your loved ones, mugs of hot chocolate (with whippy cream and marshmallows). 

Right, I have some writing to do, and a mug of coffee to make. Stay safe, stay warm, look after each other and as always, Keep Reading xx 

Good Morning! Welcome back to the blog. 

On social media, I'm part of a fiction writing group and I've seen a lot of questions popping up lately regarding what to write, how to overcome writer's block and so on. I know I've covered something of this before, but it always worth revisiting from time to time. 

General good advice is to write about what you know. It is pointless choosing a subject to write about that you have no experience of yourself as this will only serve to do two things; firstly it will add more stress and strain to you as the writer and two, you as the writer will very quickly become disenfranchised, bored and will lose all interest in writing the piece. In short, it is not worth your time choosing to write a piece on Rocket Science unless you happen to work in that field or have a working knowledge of it. 

Of course, that being said, there would be nothing stopping you from completing courses to learn the topic that you want to write about, but think whether you want to write the subject badly enough to do that - taking a course alone is a substantial commitment of time and effort (not to mention the cost of the course), so be sure that this is something that you want to do. 

If there was to be a benefit to the whole pandemic mess it is that whilst we're subject to various lockdowns and restrictions, we have the time to study, time to write, time to try that something new that we wouldn't always find the time to do before the pandemic hit. After all, we all live busy lives, when are we meant to fit in writing/studying and so on in between holding down that full time job, and juggling goodness knows what else. 

Before you ask, I am doing the exact thing I've been talking about. Since May 2020 I've been completing some Diploma courses online. I'm 3 modules away from completing a Diploma in Genealogy, and over the Christmas break I've picked up both my Egyptology and Greek Mythology courses and I've been working on those, and I'm up to Module 4 of 10 on both. 

I can hear the sighs and the "lucky you" from here. Why did I choose those subjects? They fascinate me. I've always been interested in the subjects and sadly you don't find them covered in High School/Senior School curriculum. I'm also considering a future book that I've been planning to write for a long time time, where my main character is meant to be something of an expert in the field. How can I write a character such as that if I can't make them sound like they know what they're talking about? 

So my taking the courses that I'm completing serves a dual purpose, I'm learning something on subjects I'm already fascinated with (and gaining Diplomas to boot), and I will be able to write books featuring the new somethings that I know. 

I'm well aware that this won't work for everybody and I would urge you to find the something that works for you by trying different methods. The same can be said for overcoming the dreaded "Writer's Block". There are some that beleive that this is, in itself, fictitious, an excuse to not write, but for those who become stuck, or 'blocked' the affliction is very much a reality. 

Having gone through blocks a few times myself, I found the easiest way for me to keep going is to have a number of things on the go at once, and not all about the same subject. I use a new notebook for each new novel idea, I write in different coloured pens or even pencil and I sit in different places when I work on different things. I might write a scene or chapter for one piece and then move on and write something on another. I might find I work better on one particular piece if I'm sat on the sofa, laptop on my knee or another if I'm sat on the bed. 

This is just what I have found works for me but remember, everyone is different. I know it can be tough, hard going, but only you know what you are comfortable with. When I'm writing my blogs or book reviews for example, I'm generally sat (as I am now) on the end of the bed, using the keyboard shelf of the desk as a perch for my laptop and I have view out across the balcony to the street below so I can watch the world go by as I work (or at least hear the world go by as we're 2 stories up). 

Here's a secret no-one knows. I have a draft novel in planning that is a fantasy novel - not something I have written before. Where did my idea spring from? Well the flat I'm in at the moment happens to sit in the flight path to two airports so Airplanes are going overhead at regular intervals - I don't mind, I'm a geek who loves the physics of the whole thing (but I digress). One particular day I happened to be sitting looking out of the window and watched as two or three planes passed overhead and I thought, "does anyone else think that looking up at planes going over is like looking at the underbelly of a dragon?". The general shape of the planes, wingspan and so on. Next time you see a plane going overhead, look up and see if you can see it too. 

Try out something new for your next project. Take a notebook (or your laptop/tablet) to a different place in your home that you don't normally sit to write and just sit. Look around you. Do you see the room in a new perspective now? I changed the postion of the sofa in the living room from a side wall to the back wall and the first time I sat on it after that I was surprised by how different the room looked from that position. Sometimes, seeing a room or a view from a different position helps you to open your mind to new thoughts. Yes, the comfort of the same old, same old, is a routine we like to keep, but don't be closed off to a change. 

Ok, lecture over for today. Take care, look after each other, stay safe. As always, Keep Reading! x 

Good Morning, and a happy new year to you all. 

I don't know about you, but I'm very glad to see the back of 2020; What a pants year, grim and depressing, I'm more than read for the new start presented by 2021. 

I'm not getting into the politics of Brexit or anything else, I just plan on working on my new, fresh year and my new resolutions that I've made. 

I've spent the last few days enjoying time off my day job - not had a decent break in some time and I just need to ease my mind and rest. I have though been catching up on my diploma courses and have done a number of modules and assessments over the course of a few days. I'm working on my Egyptology and Greek Mythology diplomas in tandem as well as working on the last few modules of my Genealogy diploma, which I hope to finish in the next month. 

Are you one to keep a diary handy? I've brought one from supermarket chain Lidl for the last 3 years now and I love them. My new one is my 2nd one with positve affirmations for every week and I find it really uplifting to read them. This week's affirmation? "Do what you love and success will find you". Sounds like a plan to me. 

Whatever you did to celebrate the coming of the new year, whatever you plan on doing from today onwards, stay safe, look after each other. Don't forget, the virus that shouldn't be named, COVID-19 is still hanging on and causing enough pain and heartache of its own without us people giving it a helping hand. So please be sensible, stay safe, masks on, hands washed and socially distant. If anything, enjoy the extra personal space you have around you when you have to go shopping for groceries!

I know the whole social distance thing is a pain in the butt, but remember, this virus is affecting everybody around the world, yes some more than others, but bearing a little awkwardness and discomfort now will only benefit you and everyone around you in the long term. No pain, no gain right? 

Don't keep thinking about the here and now, think to your future and that of your family, your friends. Be as socially distant as you're told to be now and follow the guidelines strictly now and between us, as long as we all do this together, we can beat that gods forsaken virus back into the petri dish it came from. We've lost enough to the virus and it is time we took back the control we have lost to it, but we do this by doing as we're instructed and not by taking stupid risks. 

Ok, lecture over. I just want you all to be as safe and secure as possible. 

Take care, stay safe, and as always, Keep Reading! x

Hi everyone! Welcome back to my blog. 

I'm sorry it has been a long while since I gave you any new updates. Honestly? I prefer to work on this and my book reviews and so on when I'm not surrounded by cardboard boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap and so on... as I'm sure you can imagine - packing to move is not condusive to a good working enviroment.

So, after a hiatus, I'm back, and it is a lovely clear Christmas Eve morning! Makes a real change from the damp, overcast day yesterday, that's for sure. 

I was finally able to come back to London a couple of weeks ago and with good reason, as I've started a new job (day job that is). It felt fitting to me to finish my Nottingham based job while being in Nottingham and then start my new job where I was going to be. I've been at my new job for 8 days and my goodness it is busy, but with good reason. I can't say too much about it, but I'm enjoying the change of atmosphere and have been getting to know my new colleagues, albeit over Teams!

What are your plans for Christmas? This year has been an absolute downer hasn't it? COVID and lockdowns and endless months of waving at relatives through windows from the garden gate. My heart and thoughts go out to anyone whose own family has been affected by the virus.

Whatever else you're doing over the holidays, remember to stay safe and protect each other. There's been too many people flaunting the rules, not wearing masks when they should be doing, not washing their hands or giving 2 meter spaces and this has lead to the increased numbers of affected people suffering with this virus over what is meant to be a happy time of year.

I plan to keep everything low key, and quiet. I plan to relax as much as I can and enjoy the break. I have course work to do so I might be studying for a while, but I'm boring like that! Today? I'll be making a Carrot Cake - I've finally found a recipe that isn't over complicated and exactly what I need for the festive time. Of course my other half may demand another Chocolate Cake, but that will have to wait!

I will be posting up some book reviews and so on over the next couple of weeks - I have a break from my day job and so I can concentrate and bringing you all up to speed an all things books.

I'll sign off for now, and want to wish you all a very happy holiday, whatever you're doing and Cheers! to a happy, healthy 2021!

Stay safe, look after each other and as always, Keep Reading! x