Apricots, Reblogs and Eurovision

So I woke up today thinking that I should probably write another blog post. I’ve been down the editing wormhole these past few days, as the final MS of Hills And Valleys has come back to me, so my posts and comments have been a bit all over the place.

Then I saw that the lovely Suzie at SuzieSpeaks had reblogged one of my posts, and that it had then been picked up and reblogged a further two times, which made me really happy – thanks, everyone! The post in question was a bit of a laugh, really, about writing a completely made-up author bio. However, Kristin over at The Pursuit of Another Adventure tried my bio generator using details of her actual life and the format still worked, so maybe I’m onto something.

Earlier this week, the gorgeous girl and I made some chocolate covered dried apricots. We make these fairly often, to be honest – they’re pretty easy to make and yet taste wonderfully decadent. Each batch we make is usually gone within twenty-four hours. I had thought I might write a blog post about making them – I’m not a chef or anything, and this isn’t really a ‘food’ blog, but I thought it might be fun. So we assembled our ingredients and started to take some photos. But they were kind of boring.


Then this happened, in an attempt to liven up the shots. (That’s BB-8, in case you were wondering – apparently he quite likes chocolate)







And then we decided it would be more fun to just make them and eat them, so we did. However, here’s the recipe, just in case you’re interested:

Chocolate covered dried apricots

You will need:

A small saucepan

A metal bowl (I’ve not tried ceramic, which may also work, but I think metal conducts the heat more efficiently)

A plate or tray lined with baking paper

Some water

A bar of good quality chocolate (I use Lindt or Green & Black, whichever is on special)

Some dried apricots


Fill the saucepan to about 2cm depth with water. Put it on to boil. While you’re waiting for that to happen, break the chocolate bar into small pieces and lay them in a single layer in the metal bowl. (Try not to eat too much of it). Once the water has come to the boil, remove the saucepan from the heat and place the metal bowl on top. It should be a tight fit, so no steam can escape. Then set a timer for five minutes. Make yourself a cuppa, read emails, play with Star Wars figurines, do whatever for five minutes.

When the timer goes off, remove the metal bowl from the saucepan (carefully, as it might be quite hot). Your chocolate will be all melted and runny. Yum! Then, using a spoon, drop your dried apricots into the chocolate and coat them on both sides, then remove and place them on the baking tray. Once you’ve used up all the chocolate, put the tray of coated apricots in the fridge for about half an hour to set. Then enjoy!

I think we might make another batch of these today, as we’re all set to watch the Eurovision final tonight and snacks are an essential part of the viewing experience. Steve from Steve Says is at the final in Sweden (lucky!) and Hugh over at Hugh’s News and Views has written a post listing his predictions for the winners tonight. I’m sure Twitter will be lots of fun as well, so am looking forward to a very entertaining night.

However you choose to spend your weekend, I hope it’s a wonderful one!

In My Own Voice

Book envy? Me?

Book envy? Me?

Suzie over at Suzie Speaks wrote a great post the other day, all about blog envy. She wrote about how it’s natural to compare our work to others and that, ultimately, we just need to get over it and get on with our own work, which I thought was a great sentiment.

Her post made me consider the fact that, when I’m in the midst of writing a book, I really don’t read much at all. And I’m someone who is normally an avid reader, often having several books on the go at one time. I wondered to myself if maybe, it was book envy that stopped me reading – that to read other published work made my own feel ‘not as good.’

Most authors say that, in order to write, you need to read as well. Stephen King states that he reads every day, citing an impressive list of books read in a single year. He reads for part of the day, then writes for the other part – an easier thing, perhaps, for someone with grown children and an assured income. (not that I am envious, not at all!) I do agree with the fact that it’s helpful to have read a lot before starting to write – after all, reading teaches us much about what we like and don’t like, as well as how to structure a book, embellishing threads of plot into each page to draw the reader deeper into the story. The books we read are part of what forms our own writing, whether consciously or sub-consciously. And the worlds we inhabit during those pages are also part of what inspires us to create our own.

So then I considered that perhaps I don’t read while I’m writing because I’m too deep in my own world. Even when I’m not writing, I’m still working through the plot in my mind, characters creating ideas as I dream, the story drawing me in to a point where to enter another world, no matter how briefly, is a distraction rather than an escape. And perhaps this is closer to the truth.

I’m away from home and my current WIP at the moment and I’ve started reading again for the first time in a while, trying to disengage my writer’s eye from the story and simply inhabit the world that has been created, walking through someone else’s words. Of course there are books I read, prose that fills me with joy, characters and dialogue that simultaneously lift me and throw me into despair that I will never write like that. But I have to remember it’s because that voice belongs to someone else. I have my own voice and, as a writer, that is the voice I need to use.

So, book envy? I’d be lying if I said I’d never had it. But it comes from a place of appreciation, rather than frustration. And I also agree with another thing Suzie said – that you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished. It’s no easy thing to write a book, despite the old saying that ‘everyone has a book in them.’ Everyone has a story, certainly, but to craft words into telling that story is as complex a process as painting or composing music.

And that’s what I need to remember. 🙂