Stormy weather

Storm Clouds

I’m writing this post for two reasons. Firstly, as my poor blog has suddenly encountered major problems – most of my dashboard buttons have completely disappeared, I can’t access any of my media files, have problems attaching tags, saving, and the widgets in my dashboard have decided to poke out from their home, obscuring anything underneath, and I’m not even remotely clued up enough to work out what’s gone wrong. So, I’m not even sure if I can post anymore, but here goes! The second reason, is just to share with my lovely visitors.

As Britain braces itself for one of the largest storms to hit us in a few years, the St Jude’s Day storm as it’s been named, with hurricane force winds, I find myself trying to ‘batten down the hatches’. The West Country where I live, is supposed to be hit first and hardest, as the winds get funnelled up the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary, so we are watching the skies with some anxiety.

Despite this being easily the toughest year of my life, due to illness, I know I’m also a very lucky girl. Our garden, a beautiful oasis of two acres is such a delight, full of wildlife of every variety and a constantly changing palette of colours.English: Autumn Colours - Forest of Dean. Autu...

A previous owner many years ago, was an ornithologist, and his love of nature is the reason we have our beautiful pond, all our bird boxes from tiny blue tits to the huge nesting ravens and the wealth of bird and wildlife that we have. Herons, buzzards, kingfishers, wrens, pheasants, wild Mallard ducks, even a Mandarin duck that flies in from time to time, the moorhens that live and breed here all year round, Green and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, song thrushes, owls, gold finches, bull finches, the threatened tree and house sparrows, house martins, swifts and swallows, badgers, water voles, frogs, two species of dragonfly, hedgehogs, foxes, rabbits, and a host of squirrels and other creatures.

Truly a marvel for any nature freak like me.

There is nothing better than watching a cloud of butterflies on a hot summer’s day, watching the Black Darters and emerald Emperor dragonflies skit over the water, or the elusive blue flash of the exotic looking kingfisher flying along the river that runs along one side of our garden, or the Green Woodpeckers with their grown up chicks busy on the lawn ‘anting’ (prodding their beaks into the soil to gather ants).English: Adult green woodpecker feeding a juve...

But within our garden are easily a hundred trees, small specimen trees like the acers, viburnum, crab-apple and hanker-chief tree, but also huge colossal monoliths, willows, white popular, oak, elm, spruce, firs, cherry, hornbeam, rowan, maple, lime and ash. And with large trees, comes the worry of them falling in high winds!

Already we’ve had our ‘go to tree guy’, a lovely rosy cheeked chap called, Nobby, yes that is his name, come over to have a look at the trees. We have at least three which are in trouble and may not make it through tonight, one rather closer to the house than I’m happy about. We may also have in one of our ash trees, that dreaded insidious disease, Ash Die-Back, that has threatened to wipe out ash trees across the country, much like Dutch Elm disease left most of our countryside bereft of elm trees.

So, apart from turning tables over and bringing in chairs, pots and anything that could become a flying missile in the next few hours, we have also been nervously watching the trees around us, as the winds continue to build and the power lines sway wildly outside.

All this uncertainty and chaos though, has me pondering. As we all know, the glorious shades of Autumn are also the opening overture for Winter, the winding down of things, the season of stillness and dark and a time of great thrift for nature after the bountiful feast of summer. The swallows have gone, the butterflies too, though I still see the odd one sipping drunkenly from the harvest of fallen apples. But for me, though the garden is a riot of colour and I do appreciate the breath-taking beauty of Autumn woodland walks, the changing colours are just a reminder of death, each tree trying to shed its mantle just to survive the dark months to come. Tree in Winter

Yes, there is magic in every season, in the snow and hoarfrosts of Winter, the beauty of a winter’s misty dawn above the fields, but I still mourn the sun and the hum of life that comes with it.

And so, as these high wild winds batter our windows, unsettling the dogs, I find myself not worrying about any damage to us, the house, the cars, the pergola. No, I find myself thinking about those poor trees, the ones that may not survive the onslaught tonight. Each one at least two hundred years old. How many winters, how storms have they endured? How many years have they stretched and thrived in our ever-variable climate? How many changes to the countryside around them? Roads, houses, hedgerows, where once only forest and brook remained. Storm damage, Sherwood Pines - geograph.org.uk...

So, I for one am keeping my fingers crossed for the storms, that it doesn’t take too many of our nation’s trees, too many of our great leviathans as it did in the worst hurricanes of 1987 when even mighty thousand year old guardians fell in its wake.

Keep safe guys, and let me know how the storm has affected you.

😀 xx

Gathering storm

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Another very useful blog post here. Forget the glitzy swag, the posters, the business cards and bookmarks, the trailers and websites – WRITE THE BOOK FIRST! An oxymoron? Well, you’d be surprised how many authors fall into the trap of using their creative time on such endeavours without actually having finished or even written the book itself! Great advice from fellow fantasy author and Mistress of Blogs, Tricia Drammeh. Check it out folks! 😀

Tricia Drammeh

Which comes first? The book or the bling? I’ve been stumbling across more and more writers who construct book trailers, book-based websites, book covers, and Facebook pages LONG before the first draft of their book is complete. While it is advisable to establish an author platform before you publish, how much is too much? Does an unfinished book need a trailer? Is this a good tool to get potential readers excited about the upcoming book?

I’m sure everyone has differing opinions on this matter, but I believe it’s important to finish at least the first draft before getting too carried away with the extras. Certainly, social media, book trailers, and promotional items can wait until closer to the book launch–especially when we’re talking about your first book. When it comes to a series where you’re releasing a much-anticipated third or fourth book, you already have a fan base anxiously awaiting…

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Writing 101 – writing tips by Morgen Bailey

More invaluable advice from the ‘Queen of Blogs’ herself, maestro, Morgen Bailey. Here are some fantastic writing tips to improve and tighten that manuscript! Pull up a chair, make yourself comfy and get your pen and paper ready, you’ll need to take notes. 😀

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Tutor and Writing Guru

In the absence of a guest blog today, I thought I’d bring you the contents of my Writing 101 (tips) page, just in case you’ve not explored this site (there’s a lot to see). Regardless of how much you’ve written (for me over 400 short stories / flash fiction, a bit of poetry and seven novels), we can all still learn. Let me know (in the comments box below) what struck a cord with you and if you have any tips of your own, please add those too and I’ll include them on the Writing 101 (tips) page, credited to you of course.

Also see ExercisesIdeas and Sentence starts, and for those living in the UK, I shall be running some Northampton Writing Courses from January 2014. Anyway, on to the reason for this page…

At 5am on Wednesday 24th October 2012, I woke up to a message from my Facebook…

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Stay a while longer … please

autumn tree

The ochre shades of Autumn fall

Amongst the pearly drops of dew,

The straddling wisps of cloud rush by

As wind whispers in the willows tall.

**

The last days of summer gone

The fleeting haze of warmth and shine

The flutter of the butterflies

The humming of the bees has died.

**

Chill air blows from northern skies,

An arctic blast to catch our breath,

Trees semi-clad and leafless sigh

As the hours draw ever closer in.

**

Exotic twirls of russet fungi

Flower like balletic skirts,

Amongst the brown shades and woody tumble

That smoothers all the green I knew.

**

The pheasants shriek their lonely call

The hunter’s on the prowl,

Gunshots ring out in darkening days

Oh, the cruelty of human pride.

**

I see the beauty of the gold, the amber and the crimson hue

But how my heart aches for the shimmering sizzle

Warm grass underfoot,

Lazy hazy days of Summer azure…

**

So while the harvest fruits cascade,

The hedgerows twitch alive with life,

Winter crops planted and ordered well,

Haystacks drying in the last sunny rays…

**

I murmur to the heavens,

To the trees still bearing leaves,

To the dying Speckled Woods on the wing

Come stay a while longer … pleaseeee.

*

*

Sophie E Tallis © 2013

English: Speckled Wood butterfly - in the wood...

English: Speckled Wood butterfly – in the woods Nestling on moss among the pine needles, this butterfly looked to be at home in the 943212. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)