I finished fiddling with Animal Instincts. I'm sure my lovely editor will find fresh things for me to tweak when she sees it but for now it finished - phew. So now I'm sorting out things ready for Blue Remembered Heels launch party. I'll be putting up the times and dates of various happenings over the next few weeks after my holiday. I've also taken the plunge and bought my train tickets for the RNA conference and will post my form to Jan tomorrow. It was a big decision to go as money is tight this year with my reduction in days but the conference really sets me up for a new writing year. Plus, I get to see all my friends. Luckily Mr Nell is on days that weekend and I can arrange childcare for the belles. I feel quite excited now! I heard some other exciting news today on a potential project but until it's all confirmed I can't tell you anything. I know - what a tease!
This is Miss La, my youngest belle. Tomorrow she hits double figures - the big 10. I feel old all of a sudden and a bit sad that these kind of days are disappearing as the teen years get closer. (Note Pudding - the dog in her bag - he's the reason she has no clothes in her wardrobe as she's turned it into his house)
I'm still aditing Animal Instincts. I adit rather than edit. Different writers all have their own methods of drafting their novels. Some writers write out of sync and sew the scenes together after like a patchwork quilt. I can't do that, I'm a linear writer, I start at the beinning and plough through to the end. Some write much more than they will ever keep, going back after and paring down till the book is as they want it to be. I know writers who cut up to thirty thousand words this way - ouch. I write very sparingly on the first draft. The bones of the story are there and there's an indicator of the emotions and theres enough description to place the scene but I know I'll be at least 10k under when the first draft is done. That's when I adit. I go back through, foreshadowing, adding colour, light and shade. I raise the emotional stakes and get under the skin of my heroine. I look for different things on each pass through. For instance yesterday I jiggled my opening because it's niggled me all through the book that the opening picture of Clodagh and Immi wasn't quite right. I now I need to add emotion to the ending - right now the stakes need to be higher, I need to feel that Clodagh and Jack might not happen after all and what this will mean for Clodagh. I also need to foreshadow Clodagh's secret, the heartache she's been carrying all through the book. The points are there but they need colouring in, fleshing out and to be made more intense. Hopefully I'll be done before next weekend as we go away for the week for our annual holiday with our friends then.
This is a tribute to a much loved and missed Black Country Comedienne, a true star of her time and famous throughout the Black Country.
Dolly Allen was born Doris Evelyn Baugh, at Wordsley Workhouse, on 9th April, 1906, and was orphaned just 10 days later. She was adopted by William and Elizabeth Parker, who renamed her Dorothy, and she grew up at 78 Stourbridge Road, Halesowen. Her first taste of the stage came during the First World War when she sang "England's in Need of Soldiers and Sailors" in a talent competition at the Drill Hall cinema in Halesowen. Dolly's first job was, aged 13, at James Grove's button factory, and after a year she went to work at Hackett Brothers' nut and bolt works in Victoria Street.
It was here that Dolly began to hone her natural wit and humour among her work colleagues and there she met her husband Leonard Allen. They were married in 1926 at Stourbridge Register Office.
During the Second World War Dolly started to do "turns" at works parties and in 1946 she appeared at Lye Church Hall as one of Harry Hatton's "Local Discoveries". From that she began to appear at clubs and chapel groups in the Halesowen area, performing her humorous monologues. Dolly first appeared on radio in 1956, on the Manchester-based show "When You're In" with Bill Maynard. Through the 1960s and early '70s she continued to appear at clubs and shows in the Black Country, and in 1968 she won the Black Country Dialect competition at the Dudley Festival of Music and Drama. By that time she had left Hackett's and was working as a cleaner.
It was at the age of 69, in 1975, that Ray Hingley invited Dolly to join the team of the Black Country Night Out. She was an instant hit and from that came records and appearances on television and radio. The Black Country Night Out went on tour to Spain and Canada, entertaining the ex-pat Black Country communities. In the 1980s Dolly appeared as an extra in 'Crossroads' and featured in schools' programmes on English dialects. By now Dolly was firmly established as the queen of Black Country comedy, with her trademark straw hat with its turkey feather and her catchphrase of "Hello, my luvvers!", and she made many appearances in charity fund raising shows across the region. She carried on performing right up to the end of her days and she died, after a short illness, at Sandwell Hospital on 25th June, 1990. Her funeral took place at Dixon's Green Methodist Church, Dudley, followed by a brief service at Gornal Wood Crematorium, where there is a commemorative plaque to her memory.
Here's one of Dolly's jokes. Dolly - Ah wish I knew where I wuz a gonna die Stooge - Why's that then, it wo dew yer no gud. Dolly - It would, I shouldn't goo a nigh it
I think I've almost succeeded in reclaiming the house from the super giant dustbunnys. I've discovered all the things the belles had been getting away with while I finished the draft - like my youngest has once again removed all her clothes from her wardrobe and hidden them under her bed so she can turn her closet into a house for her bear factory dog - called Pudding.And my eldest appears to have entered for world's messiest room while the middle belle's been conducting chemistry experiments with the contents of the shampoo and conditioner bottles in the bathroom. So now it's time to adit, polishing up Animal Instincts so it all makes sense, removing any inconsistencies, layering in some description and some emotion and taking out all the just. so's and really's that have crept in while I wasn't looking. Wish me luck - I'm going in! Although it can't be scarier than the belles bedrooms.
I don't quite know what's happening lately, if it's the hot weather, me or just that somehow I've managed to tick God off somehow but I've had some really strange things happen in the last few days. The first was at Marks and Spencers, I paid for some things I'd got for my daughter with vouchers. Not a prob, they are the reward ones you get if you have a card and I'd got the exact amount. The woman on the till said 'we don't give change with those' and I said it was okay I had the exact amount. In passing I mentioned was it a new thing as I'd had change from them once before at another store. The next thing I knew she was giving me a lecture on how I was wrong about that. She carried on telling me how wrong I was to the point of calling out across the shopfloor as I was walking away so the whole queue could hear how wrong I was. Huh? I hadn't asked for change, I'd given her the exact amount, it was a casual remark of something I'd experienced but NO I must be either an idiot or a liar because in her 43 years at Marks she'd never known such a thing. Very odd reaction. Then today I went to take my youngest belles shoes to drop them off at the orthotic dept at my hospital something I have to do twice a year and have been doing since 2002. Today, no can do, apparantly she now has to have a GP referal and then they'll send an appt and then they'll take her shoes. In the meantime her shoes don't fit and are close to having a hole in the bottom. Why has no one written to tell us of the change? Why can't they carry on as before and just slot us into the new proceedure for her next pair of shoes? When I suggested they should write to people and let them now, I was told it would take too much time. Well duh, it's going to be fun in their dept come July/August when thousands of parents appear with shoes for the new school year and the dept won't take them. So, is it me?
It's really warm here again and my feet have suddenly ballooned to look like what my youngest says resemble 'two puffy penguins'. I'm trying to get the between book writing/editing house cleaning done but it's so warm it's difficult to keep going. I typed up an old short story that I had in longhand this weekend. Not sure what I'll do with it, it's a bit of an odd tale. I also sent out my newsletter so if you're one of my subscribers it should be in your inbox. I hold subscriber exclusive contests so if you aren't a subscriber and you want to join in - go to my website and sign up then email me and I'll send you a copy of the Spring newsletter. I'm also trying to finalise my launch party details for Blue Remembered Heels - exciting stuff!
Amanda tagged me to do this meme 1. Pick up the nearest book. 2. Open to page 123. 3. Find the fifth sentence. 4. Post the next three sentences. 5. Tag five people and post a comment to the person who tagged you once you've posted your three sentences. So here goes! My nearest book happened to be Jennifer Crusies Charlie All Night "Only on poker nights," Bill's scowl deepened. "Which I won't be going back to if you don't stop stirring up trouble on the air. He wanted me to fire you, but I told him I couldn't. Unbreakable contract." "We don't have a contract."
I tag Jessica, Lis, Liz Fenwick,Phillipa and Sally L
It's done - finally the first draft of Animal Instincts is finished. Lots to polish and adit to get it ready but for now I can let it sit for a week and mess with it later looking at it with fresh eyes!
Had a few days away at Tenbury Wells with the belles for the bank holiday. The weather could have been kinder, we had colossal thunderstorms. I didn't take my ancient compaq so I still have the last chapter to finish but I also managed to put my back out on Saturday, washing the eldest belle's hair for her. So I'm dosed up on ibuprofen in large quantities and my time sitting at the computer will be rationed. The weather is finally warming up and we were thrilled to spot a grey wagtail skimming over the river at the weekend and a stoat racing across the field. There were also some very cute fluffy yellow ducklings. Seems like spring has finally sprung!
Not a subject that you would think would be very interesting but this is the story of a local firm. (courtesy of The Black Country Bugle) James Grove and Sons Ltd. was founded in 1857 by James Grove, a qualified die-sinker who, after working in the button industry for a few years, decided that he and his wife Ann Elizabeth should set up their own button manufacturing business at the centre of Halesowen. Dress fashions at the time meant there was a great demand for this important clothing accessory, with buttons needed for almost every garment worn by men, women and children. James Grove faced stiff competition from over a hundred other button manufacturers throughout the Midlands, but he stuck to his convictions, and with his ability as a gifted craftsman he was able to produce buttons of the highest quality, made from horn and hoof, many of them compression moulded, with crests of either fancy or military insignia. From small beginnings the firm began to increase in size and a potentially huge contract to supply both sides in the American Civil War - Union and Confederates - with military buttons for tunics, etc., was realised during the period 1861-5. A move from the Birmingham Street site in the centre of Halesowen, where room for expansion was impossible, was essential, and in 1866 a site called Bloomfield was chosen on the Stourbridge Road, just outside the town, where the company has been making buttons ever since.
The last 150 years or so have not always been plain sailing, for instance the buttons supplied to for the American Civil War were never paid for, and there have been times when the company has been pushed close to the wire for one reason or another. But the fact James Grove and Sons is still a viable and important player in the Black Country's family of manufacturing industries, is testament to an immensely strong loyalty that has existed between both employers and employees over the last century and a half.
Nell is an award winning author living in the heart of the Black Country with her husband, three children, a tank of tropical fish, a crazy Cockerpoo called Teddy and whatever is left of her sanity. Welcome to her world...