Catch the Moment

Feather

This isn’t going to be one of those annoying posts where someone pats themselves on the back for having some flowers in the garden and ‘the best husband in the world*’. At least, I’m hoping it isn’t. (If it is, feel free to send me a virtual slap. Or a real one if you only live up the road.)

It’s more of a follow up from last week’s blog where we looked at alternative ways to get the writing bug back in fallow periods. I was just picking blackberries in the sunshine, ready to make a crumble for the visitors who are coming later on, and it hit me that this was one of those perfect moments when everything was okay in my world. This was why:

  • The daughters have been on an adventure and I’m the world’s worst worrier when they’re travelling but they’re back safely in Brighton at last
  • There are loads of blackberries

Berries

  • And kidney beans

Beans

  • And a few really pretty sweet peas left

sweetpea

  • I’ve just passed the 50 000 word mark on my WIP after a really sticky bit, and get this – I know what’s coming next … ish …
  • My kind bloke is cleaning the kitchen floor (*sorry for the plug for him, but it’s really not my favourite job and it needed doing before the visitors saw it and realised I was a slut)

Ray kitchen

  • The grass was warm under my bare feet
  • I haven’t seen said visitors for ages; they’re going to get the full roast beef/Yorkshire pudding combo and I’m already hungry thinking about it
  • I found a white feather out there on the lawn

Of course, such bliss is fleeting – I came in and tracked grass over the newly hoovered carpet -not a good move – and then noticed I’d got blackberry stains down my front.

stain

But anyway, on this bank holiday weekend, maybe it’s time to catch the moment and then go off and write about it. I’m aiming for the 55 000 word milestone now, and there could well be blackberries in the next part.

So – what makes your own perfect inspirational writing moment? The Romaniacs, ever nosy, really want to know.

Happy holiday weekend,

Celia x

 

 

Chasing Dragonflies – Ten Top Tips

dragonflies

It’s that dragonfly time of year again – the time when there’s often a hint of autumn in the air, and the urge to buy a new pencil case and felt tips is irresistible.

Dragonfly time, for me, is when those thoughts that you want to get down on paper just keep flitting away. I’m in the middle of book number three, I’ve hit a snag and it’s time to grab some inspirations/distractions to get out of the mire. Here are my top ten ways to fire up the muse again:

1) Find someone to cuddle (see dragonfly picture – you may not want to go quite this far, especially if you’re in Sainsbury’s).

2) Get up earlier than usual, see the sunrise, make strong coffee/peppermint tea (recommend not having gin at this point, although later on it may be needed) and write something. Anything. To do list, poem, rant to newspaper, blog post, FB status with attitude, competition entry (see number 4).

Windows Photo Gallery Wallpaper

Sunrise

3) Have a huge, bubbly bath. This bath isn’t mine, sadly, but I have used it very happily. and it does the job well. Especially if a nap follows. (Also good therapy for writers’ block).

Bath

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 02.07.264) Enter a competition. It’s a great distraction, somebody’s got to win, and being short-listed gets your name out there.

 

 

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5) Meet up with friends; have a bit of a larf, some cheering hugs and some cake.

 

6) Relax, and read something that you’ve wanted to catch up with for ages. Even better if it’s funny.

H&B       P1030706

 

 

7) Go for a walk. Sea if possible, fields also acceptable.

Northumberland plus 226

2nd Somerset 012

poppies

 

8) Spend some time with a small person or two to ground you. Tip – always check with their mum first. I’m sure Catherine Miller would let you hug her babies if you ask nicely.

Babes

 

9) Make jam. (Substitute your food of choice here). Then have a party or a picnic to celebrate and eat lots.Jam

 

10) And if all else fails, open the best bottle you can find. Cheers!

car track 171

Celia x

Beer, Jane Jackson and a cracking good read

Today the Romaniacs are welcoming Jane Jackson to tell us about her latest novel Crosscurrents. There’s beer too! Do help yourselves, but the big tankard is mine. Cheese straw, anyone?   janejackson

 

Book Blurb: Santo Innis  is developing a revolutionary new engine to counter the lethal effects of high-pressure steam. His backer is Richard Vaughan, heir to Frederick Tregarron, owner of Gillyvean estate. Following the tragic deaths of his wife and baby son, Richard immersed himself in work.

But his world is turned upside down by the unexpected arrival at Gillyvean of Melanie Tregarron, a talented artist and Frederick’s illegitimate youngest daughter. Desperate to prove the viability of his invention, Santo persuades Richard to let him fit one at Gillyvean’s brewhouse. But when Bronnen Jewell – worried about her mother’s suffering at her father’s hands – arrives to brew the harvest beer she’s horrified, fearing loss of the income on which she depends. As the lives of these four become entwined, a shocking revelation shatters Bronnen’s world; desperate for money Santo makes a choice that costs him everything; Melanie fears she will never be free of her past; and Richard has to face his deepest fear.

 

 

crosscurrents

 

Excerpt:

Bronnen stood up. Instantly Santo was on his feet. She touched his arm lightly.

‘I have to skim the beer. The first head has a lot of bits in it and resin from the hops.’

He followed her to the fermentation vessel and watched her work. ‘You do that every three or four hours?’

She nodded. ‘Then what?’ ‘When the beer is cool enough I’ll rack it off.’ Setting down the skimmer she picked up the lantern, led him to an open doorway at the rear of the brewhouse and held it high so he could see casks lying on their sides on top of a timber framework with a gutter running down the middle. ‘When it’s piped into the barrels it carries on working and I collect the yeast to use in the next brew.’

 

Returning the lantern to the wooden staging by the mash tub she swallowed a sudden yawn and glanced away, hoping he hadn’t noticed. But he had.

‘I should go. This ’ave been a long day for you.’ She didn’t want him to leave, but couldn’t ask him to stay. He had his own work. She wiped her palms down her apron.

‘I’m glad you stopped by.’

Taking her hand he raised it to his lips. In the soft light his gaze met hers, held it. ‘Bronnen,’ he murmured and drew her closer. She knew if she resisted he would release her. But she didn’t, couldn’t. As he bent his head she raised her face to his.

His mouth touched hers and her breath stopped. His kiss was gentle, light as a butterfly. It lingered. Her lips softened, parted under his, and she tasted his sweet warmth. She rested her hands on his chest, not to push him away but to steady herself. His heart beat against her palm, hard and fast like her own. Drawing her head back she took a shaky breath. His hands slid from her shoulders to her hips as he rested his forehead against hers.

‘I never – I didn’t expect this, you.’ ‘Nor me.’

 

Tilting her chin, he gazed at her as if he was dying of thirst and she was cool water. ‘Bronnen, I – please?’ ‘Yes,’ she whispered. His mouth covered hers in a kiss that deepened from tender to passionate. As her head swam she gave herself up to the delicious sensation of his mouth on hers and the tidal wave of yearning it unleashed. Her arms slipped around his neck as his enfolded her, drawing her close. When, too soon, he lifted his mouth from hers they were both breathless.

She swayed, disoriented. ‘God, Bron, I’m –’

She pressed her fingers against his lips, shutting off the words. ‘Don’t,’ her voice was unsteady, her heart still pounding. ‘Don’t say you’re sorry. You aren’t, are you?’

‘No! Never! But I shouldn’t have – I didn’t expect –’

‘Me neither.’ Her laugh was shaky. ‘We already said this once.’ Holding her hand between his he pressed his lips to her palm. ‘I’ll go.’ His voice was rough, abrupt. ‘I don’t want to. But –’

‘I know,’ she said softly and stepped away from him. ‘I will see you again.’

His gaze was stormy and the fierceness of his expression betrayed an inner upheaval that matched her own. ‘Soon?’

Looking up at him, awed by what had happened, she reached out and lightly touched his cheek with her fingertips. ‘Yes. Soon.’

 

Now for some background information:

 

The brewhouse on a country estate was usually situated in a courtyard some distance from the main house. This ensured the family wasn’t disturbed by the heady smells and noise of necessary night time work. Two storeys high, it had a slatted lantern in the roof.

These slats could be opened or closed to control the temperature. Just below the lantern a tank or cistern held water pumped up from the well in the yard and gravity-fed down to the copper mounted on a platform 10-12 feet above ground level. Copper sizes varied from 40 gallons in a farmhouse to upwards of 85 gallons in a large country house.

A domestic copper used for laundry was a simple U-shape.  But the bottom of a brewing copper was like a rounded W, the best shape to achieve a rolling boil of the wort, and to ensure the copper could be completely emptied via a tap. Experienced brewers – on farms and in country houses these were often women (known as ‘brewsters’) whose skills were passed down from mother to daughter  – knew that a wood fire was far quicker than coal to bring a copper full of water to the boil.

 

Beer contains only four ingredients:  water, malt, hops and yeast. It is the quality of these plus the skill of the brewster that decides the superiority of the finished product.

 

Water:   Brewsters on farms and in country houses claimed rainwater was best. If it would lather soap it would make a good brew.

 

Malt.  The best barley – a long-eared variety raised on rich soil – made the best malt which would be known by its light fragrance, mellow taste, full flavour and a thin skin that was sweet and crisp.  The barley grains were steeped in water two or three times over two to three days until they began to germinate then transferred to the perforated wood malting floor and constantly turned to air-dry them. Then they were kilned or roasted to the desired colour and ground by hand in a mill like a coffee grinder. It took skill and judgement to crush the malt to just the right consistency.  Once ground it was best used within seven to ten days. Left any longer it might absorb moisture which would affect the heat of the mash.

 

Hops:  the best were bright green in colour with a sweet slightly oily scent.  For a keeping beer a rule of thumb was a pound of hops for every bushel of malt.  Beer that was drunk soon after brewing – e.g. small beer for harvest workers – needed only half the amount of hops.

 

Yeast:  The best yeast was gathered from a strong brew when it bubbled out of cask bungholes and was collected in channels called stillions.  It was kept in cold water – changed every other day – somewhere cool. Private brewers could, if necessary, buy yeast from commercial brewers. Strong beer needed 2 pints of yeast per 40 gallons.  For small beer: 1½ pints per 40 gallons. Once a brew started it took at least two days with only a few hours’ break between various stages so the brewer needed a comfortable chair. Another necessity for brewhouse and cellar was a solid door with a strong lock and key.

 

Buy links: Ebook:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00L9CIS66/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00L9CIS66&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelthouse-21 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L9CIS66/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00L9CIS66&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelt-20&linkId=SKMOU3OLOI2V4D2Z   Paperback: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/190962439X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=190962439X&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelthouse-21 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/190962439X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=190962439X&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelt-20&linkId=A56RJWDEZCVJEC3Q

 

Author bio: Jane Jackson has been a professional writer for over thirty years, and twice shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Crosscurrents is her twenty-eighth published novel. Happily married to a Cornishman, with children and grandchildren, she has lived in Cornwall most of her life, finding inspiration for her books in the county’s magnificent scenery and fascinating history. She enjoys reading, research, long walks, baking, and visiting Cornish agricultural shows where her husband displays his collection of 28 (and counting) restored vintage rotavators.

 

Website: http://www.janejackson.net Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/JaneJacksonAuthor Twitter:  https://twitter.com/JJacksonAuthor http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/jane-jackson/

Happy Monday to Teresa Morgan

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Celia: Good morning, Teresa, and welcome to the Romaniacs’ blog – we’ve just treated ourselves to a squishy new visitors’ sofa so put your feet up and have a freshly-baked scone. Jam? Clotted cream?

Teresa: Oh scones! Nom nom nom. I put the cream on first, then the jam by the way ;-) The proper way.

Celia: I do mine the other way round but I won’t hold that against you. Right, on with the interview; I know you were as proud as Laura James, Sue Fortin and I were to be in the line-up for the Joan Hessayon Award – are there any other awards/prizes that you’d love to be up for?

Teresa: You know, I’ve never really thought about this. I suppose it would be lovely to win some other romance novelist award at some point in my career, but I wouldn’t know which one.

Celia: How long have you been writing and what started you off?

Teresa: I’ve been writing since 2006, so I’m quite new to it really. I started writing fan fiction, and loved it so much I decided to have a go professionally.

Celia: What are your favourite places to write?

Teresa: I write at my PC, which is now at a desk in my cosy little lounge, in my cosy little house.

Celia: What are you reading for pleasure at the moment?

Teresa: The Hunger Games. The first one and I’m loving it. I soooo want to watch the film, but I’m the sort of person who needs to read the book first.

Celia: Me too – I couldn’t stop reading the series and then I had withdrawal symptoms for a week. Right – nosy moment coming up. Could you please tell me about a typical day in your life? Or just a random one if you prefer?

Teresa: Every day is different, because I work some days in a post office. On a Wednesday, I work at the school as a dinner lady so that breaks up my day too. Tuesdays and Thursdays are now my free days, where I don’t have to work, so I try to write as much as I can in those, plus fit a run in first thing in the morning after the kids are in school. I am trying very hard to get back into a writing routine … sometimes I feel I am failing miserably.

Celia: Do you enjoy travel, and if so, which places have inspired your writing?

Teresa: I would love to travel. So far, since the boys have been born, I’ve only ventured to Cornwall for holidays, but this does feature in my first novel, Plus One is a Lucky Number.

Celia: What is your next ambition?

Teresa: I have a ten-year plan. Writing is my ambition, and I am sort of achieving it – I have one book published! One day it would be lovely to write full time, and gain a reliable income from it.

Celia: What books influenced you to start (and continue) reading as a child?

Teresa: I remember The Hobbit being read in class, plus I was into The Black Stallion books by Walter Farley (what can I say, I was a typical girl who loved horses), however I didn’t really get into reading until the film The Interview With A Vampire, where I then devoured Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles. I’ve been stuck on wanting to read the book before I watch the film ever since.

Celia: Who are your three all time favourite authors?

Teresa: Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris and Sue Moorcroft (but there are others too).

Celia: Have you read any of the other books that were nominated for the Joan Hessayon Award yet?

Teresa: Sadly, I haven’t. But I will. Reading is another thing I’m failing with at the moment, however I’ve got into The Hunger Games, so I’m making time again! Woo hoo!

Thank you for having me over for scones, Celia!

Celia: Come back soon, Teresa; chocolate fudge cake next time, maybe?

 

Plus one is a lucky number

 

About Teresa F Morgan

 

I live in sunny Weston-super-Mare, trying to hold onto my Surrey accent where I was born and bred.

For years I persevered with boring jobs, until my two boys joined my nest. In an attempt to find something to work around them, and to ensure I never endured full time boredom again, I found writing.
I’m at my happiest baking cakes, putting proper home cooked dinners on the table (whether the kids eat them or not), reading a good romance, or sitting at my PC emptying my thoughts onto the screen.

I love writing contemporary romance, stories with a touch of escapism and creating heroes readers will fall in love with. Men who in reality, let’s face it, just don’t exist.

 

 

About Plus One is a Lucky Number

 

The wedding favour…

Sophie’s going to a wedding where the invite is strictly plus one… but with her single girl status not exactly fitting in with the bridesmaid dress code, and the best man being none other than the ex she would rather forget, Sophie needs a favour and she needs it fast!

Luckily for Sophie, her dreamy but distant co-worker Adam Reid owes their mutual friend James big time…and his gorgeousness more than fills the role of the ‘Perfect Boyfriend’!

As they take off to the sunny shores of Cornwall for the wedding weekend, it’s not long before pretence leads to passion and Sophie and Adam must decide; is their relationship real or is it all for show?

 

 

 

Blog / Website / Twitter / Facebook

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Harper Impulse

Add on Goodreads

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Who’s Your Daddy?

Listening

In honour of Fathers’ Day, here are a few random Romaniacal thoughts on the whole complicated Dad issue.

Dads are a mixed bunch. They might be absent by choice, around all the time (but somehow not really there), dearly departed members of the family or all round good eggs who do nappies, wash the floor without being asked and buy flowers when it’s not even your birthday. Whichever category your dad falls into, he will have contributed in lots of ways to the person that’s reading this post, and not just in the way your hair sticks up in the mornings, your worrying tendency to miss deadlines and your passion for Toblerone.

‘Who’s your daddy?’ has come to mean a lot of different things over the years. Mostly, it’s got nothing to do with genetics – it usually means ‘Right, that’s shown you who’s boss around here,’ or ‘In your face, sucker!’ Does your dad fall into the bossy category or can you wrap him around your little finger? Would you change anything about him, or is he/was he perfect just the way he was made?

These are my top ten qualifications for a Superdad, in no particular order.

A truly great dad -

  • Reads stories, and does all the voices, even Piglet
  • Makes you laugh until your ribs ache
  • Provides huge, comforting hugs
  • Doesn’t mind looking daft in a good cause
  • Makes your mum happy (or at least doesn’t make her want to smother him in his sleep)
  • Helps with nasty homework, especially maths
  • Likes cooking, and knows where the dishwasher/sink is afterwards
  • Listens, even when you know you’re talking complete rubbish
  • Can tolerate a house full of sprawling, half asleep hungover friends
  • Loves you. Always. Whatever you do.

My own Pa managed nine out of ten. He never could get the hang of that cooking malarkey.

Hat

Gramp

Spring has well and truly sprung …

Tulips

And now we come to the part of the year when everything suddenly seems more hopeful. The sun’s shining  (at the moment)  and there are signs of buds and green stuff and blossomy bits and bobs. The birds are tweeting very loudly. The butterflies are doing whatever butterflies do – flitting and fluttering and suchlike. The windows look grubby. Oh – scratch the last one – it sneaked into the good list by mistake.

When the New Year happened I didn’t get round to any proper resolutions due to being full of cake and wine and so on,  but I’m taking the unusual step of making one now. It’s about my blog. Not the Romaniac blog – this one is fine because it’s got eight people paying attention to it. No, the blog I’m referring to is the dusty, cobwebby one with just my own name on it. It needs TLC. So my spring resolution is to post on it three times a week. Only short snippets, with maybe a picture, but enough to stop it crying and complaining about being neglected. If you get the urge to check up on this promise, it can be found on http://celiajanderson.co.uk

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I hope the photos get you in the mood for the season of birds’ nests, daffodils and hot cross buns. Over to you now.  Is the sunshine making you all motivated and bouncy? Have you got any resolutions that slipped through the net in January?

The Romaniacs would love to know …

Stones

Best Bits

Ring

 

The Romaniacs are brushing off the mince pie crumbs and thinking of a group hike today – it’s been an interesting week on the whole. The blocked sink is unbunged, thanks to the very nice man from AA home insurance (what a big pipe he’d got, but that’s another story) and the dishwasher man came today as promised. He wasn’t quite so nice, to be perfectly honest but he removed some cat fur and bits of broken wine glasses and now the washing up situation can go back to normal. Thank goodness – the others were about to go on strike and my Marigolds are in ribbons. Anyway, here are my best bits from Christmas 2013 – what were yours?

  • Surprise hit game of Christmas – an ancient Bagatelle that used to belong to Grandpa. The competitive spirit has surfaced big time. And some other games have gone up the charts here too:

BagatelleGames

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These special straws make drinking even more fun and give you that instant suave moustached look: sorry this one’s on its side but drinking has that effect on me …

Straws

And also a picture of the Silvertown Express and a collection of USA photos from the offspring were a lovely reminder of the great rail journey of the summer.

 

SilverUSA snaps

 

 

 

 

 

 

So those are my highlights, along with a lot of lovely mess, a great box set to look forward to in 2014 and some Christmas music to remind me of my dad.  The Romaniacs would love to hear about your Christmas  moments if you still have the strength to tap out a few words. Happy New Year!

Celia xxx

EpisodesMessiah

Mess