Guest Post #6 Dreaming Of Another World | The Glorious Outsiders

Thank you to Chantelle for including me in her guest posts about Dreaming of Another World. Hop over to her blog via the link below to read my post and to read the previous guest posts too #corona #virus #covid19 #dreams #fears #lockdown #isolation #indie #authors

Source: Guest Post #6 Dreaming Of Another World | The Glorious Outsiders

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20th July – Release Day: This Is Lockdown #Compilation #Anthology #Writing #Authors #Lockdown #Poems #Flash #Diaries #Contributors

Happy Release Day to all the contributors in This Is Lockdown.

Help yourself to a slice of pineapple, your favourite coloured balloon, and some blueberry pancakes… I made this smiling fellow during lockdown. I had to eat him – with that smile how could I not? My tummy smiled afterwards!

It seems strange to celebrate anything during this horrendous time but… it’s important to look to the future and hope that this worldwide pandemic will ease and a solution will be found in the months ahead.

During lockdown I found it difficult to write my usual genre: YA Fantasy, so I focused instead on interviewing authors on the subject of ‘isolation’ during COVID19. I enjoyed this blog series so much, discovering so much common ground with other authors and bloggers that it seemed a good idea to take this further and to produce a book, a compilation of my diaries, poetry, flash fiction, and writings with ‘The Isolation writers,’ who live  in the UK, Ireland, Scotland, USA, Australia, Zimbabwe and Australia.

It doesn’t matter where we live, our experiences are similiar.

Here are some quotes from contributors to This Is Lockdown:

  1. ‘Isolation itself is not a problem, as an author I tend to live in other worlds anyway.’ Richard Dee. 
  2. ‘Nobody should feel they have to achieve things during this time of corona. It’s ok to just be – to stay safe, spend time with family, read and relax.’ Catherine Fearns.
  3.  What has changed? The answer is: Everything – but it took me a while to notice. Jackie Carreira
  4. We could get through this crisis better if everyone would cut each other some slack and come together. One can only hope… Sharon Marchisello
  5. I feel I’ve become like the ancients, huddled with my little family around the fire in a small circle of light.  Lynn Fraser
  6. I’m taking life at the moment with a huge dollop of perspective. – Fi Phillips
  7. If nothing else, this pandemic will have allowed us to work together in a way we might never have considered doing before. Jeannie Wycherley
  8. What’s changed for me? Nothing and everything and believe me, that’s as confusing as it sounds.  Chantelle Atkins
  9. Still, I’m just thankful that I am okay, we are all healthy, and that, in itself, is the biggest thing. Ritu Bhathal
  10. This situation easily calls forth the entire spectrum and expression of human emotion. Tracie Barton Barrett
  11. Instead, I started painting – no, not the walls, although they could do with it. I created big bright, colourful pieces of art to cheer myself up. Alice May
  12. On my walks, I spend time thinking what the world will be like after coronavirus and how it will differ from the past. Peter Gooby-Taylor
  13. Festivals are important. We meet, talk, drink, solve the world’s problems, learn and relax. Miriam Owen
  14. We greatly miss our author visits to shops, libraries and book clubs. – Ceri and Drew
  15. At time of writing, lockdown here in Italy is easing, but I am still wary of emerging into the sunlight.  Katherine Mezzacappa
  16. If it has taught me anything, it has taught me that my blogging time must be managed, as it helps me, so it must have its place. Willow Willers
  17. I
    believe
    there is a
    silver lining
    to isolation 
     –  a line from Sally Cronin’s poem.
  18. I am very much missing human engagement – talking in person, hugging a friend, and seeing a compassionate, genuine smile, not hidden behind a mask. D G Kaye
  19. Something is very wrong in this new world, (from poem) Adele Marie Park
  20. The world is quiet, a new strange calm,  (from Poem) Marian wood
  21. unknowing (the city) –  for the rains… (from Poem) Frank Prem
  22. Anxious thoughts lace my outings to The Wasteland. Sherri Matthews.
  23. Welcome to the new normal, I could be smiling right now but you cannot see it behind the mask. Beaton Mabaso
  24. We really felt that our project hit a chord and it showed what a community pulling together could achieve. It seemed to give focus in this strange and new world of lockdown. Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val. Fundraising for the NHS: #CommunityMasks4NHS
  25. We are living in strange and difficult times indeed my friends, but there comes a time when we must raise our eyes to the future, and reflect and act on what we have learned. Samantha Murdoch.
  26. As the virus bloomed, so did sales, until non essentials were forced to close. But she soon found lockdown’s silver lining in endless days communing with her own bookshelves. – quote from a piece by Anne Goodwin.
  27. Stay Safe in Your Own Personal WildernessM J Mallon

This Is Lockdown is:

An anthology and compilation of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, contributions from the ‘isolation writers,’ plus poetry written during the time of lockdown in the UK. This Is Lockdown is written from a writer’s perspective highlighting the simple pleasures of day-to-day life during such an uncertain and frightening time. It also gives a glimpse of the blogging, writing world. The book showcases several authors and their thoughts on what it is like to experience ‘isolation’ as a writer. I also discuss the handling of the pandemic and my thoughts on what might happen next. In the final part of the book I include my latest short story idea: a YA romance and various short pieces of poetry, and flash fiction inspired by the pandemic.

This Is Lockdown kindle buying Link:

Universal link: mybook.to/Thisislockdown

It is also available for free on kindle unlimited.

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08CD1MCFB?pf_rd_r=NPA6S5SQJ30A6VYX87Q5&pf_rd_p=e632fea2-678f-4848-9a97-bcecda59cb4e

Amazon US link:

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This Is Lockdown – Q and A with MJ Mallon | The Glorious Outsiders

Thank you to Chantelle Atkins for this Q and A as part of the blog tour for the forthcoming release of This Is Lockdown, an anthology of 29 authors, writers and creatives. This Is Lockdown, is a snapshot of time and includes writing, diaries, flash fiction, poetry and contributions from the ‘isolation writers’ who featured on my blog. This Is Lockdown releases on July 20th. To preorder: mybook.to/Thisislockdown

 

 

Source: This Is Lockdown – Q and A with MJ Mallon | The Glorious Outsiders

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Marian Wood: Pandemic Poetry #Poetry #COVID19 #Isolation #Writers #Contributing #Author

Welcome to Marian Wood, a contributing writer in the forthcoming collection of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, writings and poetry: This Is Lockdown with her poem and thoughts on COVID19.

This Is Lockdown will feature a wide variety of authors, writers and bloggers from UK, USA, Italy and Canada.

Poetry from Marian Wood

© Marian Wood

The world is quiet, a new strange calm,
People staying indoors, scared of coming to harm.
Cars are now just sitting on drives,
As people now lead different lives.

No longer racing for the morning bus,
Now staying at home, with lap top, no fuss.
The children are now home from school,
And mum is trying to set the rules.

Sitting working, but watching the kids,
A parent can be successful at this.
With the help of a maths app and a cool pc,
The children can be kept calm and busy.

It was March that this change came to the UK,
And now it’s here, it’s not going away.
Never before have people been told to stay at home,
I’m so glad for social media and our telephones.

Our children are growing up right now,
They will forever remember what happened and how.
The Chinese Wet Market in Wuhan,
Was that really where this all began?

The children

The children are now drawing rainbows,
All part of our memories and makes our hearts glow.
All our praises go to our NHS and keyworkers,
They are all working hard in an effort to save us.

So, everyone now please look after your families,
Stay indoors, obey lock down, care for your babies.
Maybe have a picnic in your front room,
Or make the chairs into a rocket and fly to the moon.

Trying to think of ways to pass the day,
Bringing in inventive ways for creativity and play.
Make the most of this time that’s been given to us,
It’s not going soon, this Corona virus is in no rush.

We are not sure when the lock down will end,
But on one thing you really can depend.
The NHS workers are fighting for you,
There’s not enough clapping that we can do.

For they will continue to fight to the finish,
Brave and steadfast, their care won’t diminish.
This corona virus has become our life’s big feature,
However, we need to see the bigger picture.

Our world around us

Whilst the NHS and Keyworkers are caring for us,
Our planet is loving the difference, loving the less rush.
The effects of planes, ships and of the many cars,
Earth’s destruction had gone too far.

Looking up now the sky is deep blue,
It’s beautiful, lock down was a good thing to do.
Throughout this disaster we need to see the positive,
Reflect on the good, no longer on the negative.

So, hug your children and play your games,
Home school and work, we will never live this again.
Keep your scrapbooks and write your diaries,
And look after your families, and try not to worry.

© Marian Wood

Bio:

I am a happily married, working mum to two children aged seven and nine. I write two blogs featuring my children, poetry and short stories. I’m currently working on my first novel. I have reached about 80 000 words and I’m stuck with the ending. I stopped writing it in October 2019 and now I’m struggling to get back into it.

Confidence and COVID 19 are not helping to motivate me.

I’ve learnt If you are writing a novel, don’t stop writing it until it’s finished. If you stop and take a break it might take longer. I’d have completed it if I hadn’t stopped.

For us, COVID 19 has meant isolation. My husband is being shielded so we are all shielding. It is hard not going anywhere and not seeing friends in person.

In March we were both ill and suspected that we had the virus. However, the swab test showed a negative result. This test may not be accurate, so we don’t know if we have had it, but we were ill for weeks.

Tesco are delivering our food, Morrison’s my husband’s prescriptions. I’m working for the NHS from home. It’s nice to roll out of bed and go to work in my pyjamas and I love Microsoft Teams. It’s better than coping with the school run and a stressful drive to the morning meeting. 

The environment has loved the relief from the pollution. There are positives to this awful situation. I try not to focus on the state of our economy or the mistakes made. The UK is in a sorry state right now. People are still dying daily, and I fear going to the supermarket. Despite an NHS discount, I prefer to order online where there is no NHS perk. My Amazon shopping has increased as I’m too scared to go to the shops. Plus, we are shielding.

New rules in June in the UK might change the goalposts for shielders. For me, hiding from the world is the better option. However, this is really not fair on my kids who are desperate to get out. As well as working, I am home schooling. The school sends a weekly timetable with web links and information sheets. I do my best to work through them with the children and tick off what we have done.

I work three days a week but due to home-schooling I am working six days. I am exhausted, I’m enjoying it but I’m tired. This week my nine-year-old and I have been learning about the oceans and explorers. It is an interesting subject. So, COVID 19 has brought great change to our lives. Home school, can’t go anywhere and mum no longer gets time alone. It has affected my writing as I’m more stressed and I have less time. I’m struggling to keep up with my blogs.

I’m hoping that the rate of infection in the UK keeps coming down. At the moment the figures are still high and we don’t even know if the children are going back to school in September, or whether it will be a phased return. At the moment, we can only guess.

This virus has come and messed with all our lives; I’m hoping that it is soon something in the past. Someday I hope for a vaccine. A time that we will no longer worry about it and the world will feel safe again.

Links:

www.justmuddlingthroughlife.co.uk

Www.marianwood.com

Www.facebook.com/marianwood76/

Www.twitter.com/MarianEWood

Thank you so much to Marian for being a contributing author in the forthcoming anthology and collection of diaries, short stories, flash fiction and poems: This Is Lockdown.

I am so excited how this is all taking shape!!!

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Isolation for Writers – Guest post: Miriam Owen #COV1D19 #Isolation #Bloggers #Books #Blogging

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Miriam coping with this enforced isolation?

Book blogging in the time of Covid 19

Lockdown – Week 4. In the time it took me to open a Word document to write the title of this piece and prepare to begin writing I received a message that a friend had passed away in London. They didn’t pass from Covid 19 but cancer. I had interacted with this person online 2 days previously but hadn’t seen them face to face for 6 years. Online they were looking good and sounding cheerful. Their passing hit me hard. Probably harder than it may have done normally because I had more time to think about it, read messages about them online and more time to cry. I reflected as death always makes us do. I felt strongly that life cannot be lived online only as we do not understand or portray the whole picture online.


My research also forces me to be reflective. It is indeed a requirement in my area. In wider terms I need to reflect upon how this current situation changes the way that we as readers interact with the book market. As a reader, blogger and an academic I have been reflecting upon the cancellations of hundreds of book events, book festivals and book launches. All these things that bring the reading community together. The specific context of my research is book bloggers and their interactions within the book world. I was due to travel to some of these events to observe, interview, film and study book bloggers. All these activities are now cancelled. I find myself specifically reflecting upon the role of the book blogger in these lockdown days.

Has their role changed? Do online events fulfill the same need in readers (and specifically bloggers) as live events do. Are people reading more book blogs? Does a blog tour take on more importance if there is not an actual physical book launch? I would love to hear what people think about this.


I have been a blogger for nearly 8 years now. Do I feel any different about my blogging activity under lockdown? I don’t really, not in a general way. The reviews I have promised to write remain. The desire to blog is still there. What has changed? I have had the time to do a long overdue tidy of my bookcases which has allowed me to ask myself questions as I unearth books I had forgotten about. Why didn’t I write about this or why haven’t I read that? The quiet space to read and write has changed under lockdown. My two young children are now around me all the time and need to be schooled. I am exhausted from home schooling, watching the news and being needed by my family. Bedtime is now the only time for reading (if I can stay awake) and if I am lucky I can read a few snatched pages upon waking up on weekend mornings. My writing space is now the school table, when it isn’t the breakfast, lunch and dinner table or the jigsaw puzzle space. Instead of picking and choosing what to blog about I ask myself what can I do to help in my community? I feel terrible for all the publishers and authors who have worked towards book launches at this time. I feel bad for the writers who have already spent so much time on their own and had meet ups planned as I know the planned social time is important for them. I contact some of them that I know with offers to write about their projects. I offer to organise a blog tour for a festival that I go to every year. I send books and DVDs to friends. I speak to more people in private messages to make sure they are okay. In my case all these things are interwoven with relationships which have been grown online but have been solidified in person at book events, over coffee and in face to face conversations. Everybody’s experience of blogging is different but for me I love being part of a community. Going to book events is like a renewal of vows, it enthuses me to go on blogging, reminds me why I do it, makes me feel part of something exciting and significant.


Some festivals are moving to online events. Some under their own branding whilst others are becoming involved in kind of umbrella online events where their event becomes part of something larger and less specific. Some have had offers to slot specific events into festivals which are happening (they hope) later in the year. Some authors have taken to being creative themselves and doing pieces for their own social media. You Tube seems to be useful – book illustrators seem to be flourishing in the online visual culture. Musicians too.The first few weeks I thought this is great, all this will help me through these dark days. I usually cannot get enough of the arts and really craved online events when I could not get to things because of family commitments. Now that we are in week 4 of lockdown I find it all washing over me as I drown in online events that I cannot keep up with. I am craving eye contact, the smell of new books, handshakes, group laughter, group applause, group tears and deep, important discussions where I see and feel people express themselves. I know there are people busting a gut to get things online lest they be forgotten about but to me as an individual it seems not to hit the spot somehow. Perhaps there is too much online in my life now. Work online, school online, shop online, sell online, browse online, communicate online, listen online. It is all too much and for me it does not feel like a satisfying a substitute for the real thing. The travel, the human contact or feeling the buzz that makes events so exciting is part of what inspires me to keep blogging.


I can appreciate that some people will enjoy what is happening. In academic circles I often see academics ask why do we need to go to conferences? All the introverts say we can do this online, save the planet, still get our point across and I am screaming no! I need to see people, feel their energy, enjoy learning about somewhere new, I like my dedicated conference time and space to reflect on what I am hearing. The same goes for my blogging and book time. The reading/writing community is an amazing thing in general, online and offline. In my experience with the crime fiction genre the community is positive, down to earth, well documented, well organised, supportive and adaptable. It is one of the reasons that I undertook this piece of academic research. There is passion, motivation, kindness and knowledge. Festivals are important. We meet, talk, drink, solve the world’s problems, learn and relax. I miss them like I miss an old friend because they help me to understand, get a clearer picture of what is going on and solidify something important in life. So far Covid 19 has allowed me a pause. Within that pause sits time to think about so many actions including the action of blogging. Have you been reflecting too?

Miriam Owen is a blogger and doctoral researcher in Marketing at Strathclyde University.

If you have any opinions about book blogging she would love to hear from you at miriam.owen@strath.ac.uk

Thanks to Marjorie for hosting this piece in her Covid series.
Miriam’s blogs are: nordicnoirblog.wordpress.com and walkingbassbuzz.wordpress.com

Thank you Miriam for being my guest. I am so sorry to hear the sad news about your friend. Sending my deepest condolences.

I wish that things could be different. I wish that COVID19 had never happened. I miss meeting my writing and blogging friends in person and attending festivals, particularly the Edinburgh International Festival and Book Festival. But I am so glad that I started this feature – it has been rewarding and given me a focus on something other than COVID19.

I am enjoying all of the articles submitted to me and they have all been so different!

It is by no means easy to cope with this time in our lives. We must try to be patient, whilst we keep on reading, writing and sharing our love of the written word.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

It is a joy to connect with the writing and blogging community.

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Charli Mills Flash Fiction Challenge – #Flash #Fiction #COVID #Fear #Danger

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

I stood by the platform waiting for my train, my mask tight against my face. A man jeered at me, his lips twisted in a cruel grimace. I moved back.

“I have something for you,” he smiled as he spat. I felt his wet spittle on my exposed skin. I screamed, frantically searching for a tissue to erase death from my face.

Onlookers stared, their hearts bound by fear as their masks sagged. He wiped his mouth, licking his cruel lips. Tears streamed from my eyes. I vowed to fight this virus; killers mustn’t win.

The above is my entry for Charli Mill’s flash fiction challenge – May 14, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that answers the question, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you are in absolute danger?” Go where the prompt leads!

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COVID Diaries 4th May – 6th May #Family #Diaries #COVID19 #Coronavirus #Writing #Blogging #Fashion #Guest #Features

Time to catch up on my COVID Diaries… I’ve been very busy of late finishing edits on my second book in my series The Curse of Time Book 2 Golden Healer. They are now finished and I am pleased to say I have now passed my manuscript on to Heena Rathmore Pardeshi https://crazycatwriter.com/ for a critique and proofread service.

So, let’s go back in time…

4th May

I slept badly the night before so I’m feeling tired. My eldest daughter Tasha and I still did our workout session but it was a gentle one. We both thought it would suit a granny! Which is just as well…We finished it off by doing some yoga.

I tidied my office and did some editing of the second book in my Curse of Time series. Later, my hubby and I went to the supermarket. My friend Hanna was in the queue too, so we stopped to chat to each other – following the social distancing rules – of course. You can’t exactly talk quietly due to the distance imposed, so I shouted across the queue about the fire…

What fire?

IVC is the local secondary school that my kids went to. Apparently, a skip lit and the fire spread to the roof of the performing arts block. Strange, sounds like arson to me. A friend of my daughter heard two large explosions, they thought it was an earthquake, or something. Everyone is so on edge at the moment that any loud bangs, or noises would be enough to trigger an attack of the nerves.

I wonder how the fire happened?

Getting back to the shopping trip with hubby. Whilst inside…

We argued down the aisles, in a feisty banter kind of way and I saw one of the local mum’s smirking at us.

Our shopping trip was so distracting. Both hubby and I bought four packs of onions, so we’ve got lots of onions to eat!

Next time I’m going on my own! Hubby’s idea of shopping consists of ample supplies of alcohol, and no treats apart from one bar of chocolate! How to survive lockdown with no crisps, nuts… Mind you, judging by our horrendous food bill perhaps we should start a starvation diet.

Oh, and I had a couple of guests in my Isolation for Writers Series:

First up was Jeannie Wycherley:

https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/03/isolation-for-writers-guest-author-jeannie-wycherley-guest-author-isolation-collaboration-thoughts-family-cov19/

And then Chantelle Atkins: https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/04/isolation-for-writers-chantelle-atkins-isolation-writers-covid19-ya-author/

5th May

It’s been a funny day. Aren’t they all? I finally cleared out my office. I am such a hoarder! I found things stuffed behind things that I didn’t even know were there. Nevertheless, it was interesting. We discovered three large bags of old photos and an airmail letter from my dad when he’d been working abroad in Swaziland. My eldest daughter Natasha has never seen an airmail letter before! What a lovely find. His writing was atrocious though. What a job I had reading it. Basically, it was to congratulate me on the birth of baby Georgina! And to send his love and well wishes to hubby’s dad who was ill at that time. Sadly, hubby’s dad passed away shortly after that letter was sent and Grandpa James never got a chance to see his new grand-daughter in person, which is especially sad as he always wanted lots of grand-children.

Also, I came across an old newspaper cutting of Tasha when she was three years old with her Grandma (my mum, who must have been about my age at that time,) at a hospice event.

How young my mum looked. Time flies by too fast.

I also found some old photos of hubby and I when we were young! That was funny, me draped all over him looking loved up… There was one of me wearing a leopard skin crop top and tight matching leggings. We were going to a fancy dress party. Memories, yes, it was a day of memories.

Other than that we did our gym session in the garden around 11am. Me, and the girls, and then we had lunch afterwards.

Hubby decided to climb up a ladder to sand the outside windows for painting. This made me very nervous as he’s so high up. He decided to wear his bike helmet for protection but at that height if he fell…

At one point, I went upstairs to pass him the sander and I saw this wasp on the window ledge. I was too frightened to tell him it was there in case he fell off the ladder. Later, I realised the wasp was dead!

Then Gina had an almighty melt down brought on by us all making so much noise whilst she’s completing her university assignments. Hubby was making this annoying sound with his sander, or yelling at me to get him something he needed. What a job I had calming her down. She said she wanted to go back to Manchester. No chance of that – no one can go anywhere. So, I suggested we sit in the car for a while. She brought her laptop and we looked at it together, with tears in her eyes. Bless her. Then hubby came out, looking at us as if we were bonkers. He asked why we were sitting in the car! I explained about the noise and he said he’d finish for the day. Thank goodness it’s quiet now. Phew, it’s just as well I used to be a therapist. Sometimes, I need to be to calm this lot down…

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. I hope it is a bit calmer…

6th May.

I had a terrible night’s sleep. Stress of yesterday? Perhaps it was also exacerbated by hubby teasing, saying that he was leaving the long ladder by our bedroom window for a thief, or Romeo to come in. I woke at 3.30am. I thought I heard someone climbing up the ladder. No doubt it was just my imagination! One of the hazards of being a writer is you always imagine the craziest things. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I crept out of bed and started blogging – as you do!

By the time hubby was up, I’d had enough, so I went back to bed and managed a couple of hours sleep before Tasha came looking for me. I didn’t join in with a keep fit, or yoga workout today, or take part in Writing Sprints. Shame. Instead, I edited some of the Curse of Time, beta read and finished a poetry collection for Sarah Northwood, Poetry for The Heart and Soul which I loved. Here is the link to her beta reading group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/877149636124566/

As well, I started working on a blog post about my daughter Georgina’s fashion/social media profile.

Which you can see here: https://mjmallon.com/2020/05/09/photography-shoot-daughter-fashion-business-student-modelling-clothes-hair-accessories-makeup-lashes/

Georgina seemed a lot more cheery today. She was all dressed up, make up on and had made excellent progress on her assignment. She even mentioned that it wasn’t as hard as she originally thought! Kids, hey… They give you such grief and then say everything is okay…

Oh, and Tasha and I sneaked out for a ride in the car. What an adventure! We didn’t go too far but it was nice to see neighbouring villages.

What have you been doing during this difficult time. Please share in the comments.

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Isolation For Writers – Alice May: Guest Post – #COVID19 #Isolation #Art #Tutorials #Writing #Resilience #Inspiring

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Alice May coping with this enforced isolation?

This is her answer:

Opening the Door of ‘The House That Sat Down’

Many thanks to Marje for giving me the opportunity to open the door on The House That Sat Down and show what is happening to one author, in a remote cottage in the middle of nowhere, on the Dorset/Hampshire border during coronavirus lockdown.


Our cottage looks as idyllically chocolate-box perfect as it ever did – before it collapsed six years ago and needed rebuilding, that is – but that doesn’t mean that life is any easier inside for us than it is for anyone else at this challenging time. (A quick contextual update for those who have not read The House That Sat Down Trilogy, our house fell down out of the blue one day in 2014 and was painfully rebuilt over a traumatic period of time, which involved living in a tent in the garden; my husband, myself and four children. This period in my life led me to write my first award-winning novel.)

On a superficial level, the main change to my daily routine that I thought social lockdown would bring hasn’t materialised. I naively expected that ‘a bit more time at home’ would enable me to finish editing my latest book. The opposite has – in fact – proven to be the case and I am reminded that nothing is ever quite what we might expect.


Like many, I am attempting to nurture my family through their dramatically altered lives; a role which requires huge amounts of diplomacy which has never been one of my strong points. But, from a writing career perspective, I initially found myself paralysed by an overwhelming sense of loss.


My original – pre-Covid19 – schedule for April was chock full of exciting entries. There were multiple speaking events, radio interviews, literary festivals, book signings and even a trip to London to pitch my new book to publishers. It took months to set everything up, but only hours to come crashing down. My new, very empty April stretched before me and mental tumbleweed rolled around inside my brain as I found myself struggling to process the change without dissolving into tears.


With the world so very different, it seemed that the previous twelve months spent writing book 5 had been a colossal waste of time. How could that work still be relevant? I found myself unable to write at all and that worried me.


Instead, I started painting – no, not the walls, although they could do with it. I created big bright, colourful pieces of art to cheer myself up. I have always used painting as a way to express my emotions, it was a massively important part of my recovery from post-traumatic-stress after my house fell down. Recent weeks have seen a resurgence in my reliance on throwing paint around to make myself feel better.

My fabulous PR guru @jane_dean_pr suggested that I put a couple of free art tutorials on my YouTube channel (Alice May Artist https://youtu.be/p6bHYY4xPl0 ).

If I am completely honest, I think she was trying to get me to stop pestering her with questions about what I ought to do.


Nevertheless, it was a brilliant idea and has led to some exciting developments which proves that you never know when opportunity will come knocking. Uploading that first video was the start of a whole new dimension to my creative career. Three weeks and nearly twenty tutorials later, there has been a surge in the number of subscribers to my channel, countless visits to my website (www.alicemay.weebly.com) and an unanticipated increase in book sales. Plus, I’ve had some wonderful feedback via email, twitter and Facebook.


I was interviewed for an article in Good Housekeeping Magazine which was very exciting followed by a lovely chat with Louise Hanna on BBC Radio Solent, which in turn has led to me being invited to deliver paid presentations and art demonstrations on-line to social groups gathering on Zoom. Who knew that such a thing was even wanted, let alone possible?
https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/lifestyle/a31989711/art-beginners-guide/

There has even been a suggestion that I might like to start running proper art classes after lockdown is lifted, which is definitely something to think about.


My empty diary is now stuffed full of new activities; none of which I could have predicted before lockdown, but all of which I am thoroughly enjoying. Which only goes to show that you can never predict what is just around the corner.
Anything is possible.
Stay safe, stay well and stay positive.



Alice May Artist, Author, Speaker
www.alicemay.weebly.com
You Tube: Alice May Artist
Facebook: AliceMayAuthor
Twitter: @AliceMay_Author
Instagram: alicemay_author_artist

Thank you so much to Alice for being my guest. I never imagined that such a thing would happen. Poor Alice, can you imagine your house falling down with all its belongings, and memories reduced to rubble?

My goodness.

And now this COVID19. How resilient and inspiring she is. I am so glad I started this series. It has introduced me to so many amazing writers and creatives.

Stay safe and well everyone.

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Isolation for Writers – Guest Post: Ritu Bhathal #Author #Writer #Poet #Blogger #COVID19 #Coronavirus #Isolation #Thoughts #Writing #Reading

I’m so thrilled to have Ritu join me today.

Ritu and I have met on several occasions at Blogging Bashes in London and we ‘clicked’ just as much in person as we do in our lovely ‘online,’ friendship.

So welcome Sis! When Ritu knew I was offering fellow writers a chance to join the online discussion about COVID19 – this crazy world we find ourselves in, she jumped at the chance.

How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.

How is Ritu coping with this enforced isolation?

Here is Ritu’s answer:

Coronavirus.
COVID-19.
Unprecendented.
Social Distancing.
Quarantine.
Self-Isolation.
Lockdown.

These are all words we have heard countless times in the last few weeks.
What have they done?
Brought a wave of panic into your life?
Or are you someone who has taken to it rather calmly?
Well, for me, it’s been a bit like this.
When we first heard about this strange virus, schools were still open, yet I had students going off sick with mysterious illnesses for a week to ten days at a time.
Then the government called for school closures, followed by social distancing, and the UK version of Lockdown.
I say UK version because, though all non-essential businesses have been closed, we are still allowed out to exercise once a day, go shopping for food, and schools still need us teachers, but in a different capacity; as carers for the children of Keyworkers.


Once I got over the initial worry and shock of what was happening, I got excited.
This meant more time for me to get creative, when I was home. Book two has been started but had been languishing for a couple of months, as the business of daily life took its toll.
But, just because you have time, doesn’t mean you automatically switch to the creator of four thousand words a day – well, that doesn’t happen to me, anyway.
My creativity has been hit-and-miss to be honest.
I thought all this time would mean I could write, do some courses I signed up for but never got a chance to access, more promotion, lots of reading…


The reality has been quite different.


To start with, I am in school on a rota system, so I could be in for one or two days, but I don’t know more than a week in advance.
And there is the joy of having both kids and Hubby Dearest at home as well, so no time was distraction-free time either.

I sit with my laptop open on one of my home days, WIP loaded up, ready to write up a storm. Nothing comes.
I open a book to read. But I can’t get into it and put it down after a few pages.
Then I remember those courses. So, I manage another couple of modules on a creative writing course.
But no words.
After the first ten days, we were in official Easter holiday mode. Technically no different to the last few days, but I felt, mentally, that I was on a break.
I discovered online writing sprints on several Facebook groups that helped, and in a few days, I did double my wordcount.

The joy to read came back.

But then official term started again.


And I have now got online learning to do for school too, to justify us all being at home, even though we are still planning work for our children to do at home. As well as still needing to go in periodically.


Another killjoy to my writing spree.


I’m trying to be practical still have work, but I need my play too, which involves reading and writing.
So, I have taken time to re-plan and structure my WIP, and while doing that, I have got my juices flowing, again, I think.
My aim is to do school-based work in the mornings and use after lunch time to look at my creative projects, be it writing, courses or research for the WIP.
The evening is filled with family time, walks, cooking, reading, watching films and TV, and if I feel inspired, a little more writing time.
I’m under no illusions. At one point I thought I would end this period with a mainly finished first draft, but I don’t think that will happen.
I’ve had up days, days where I have felt productive in all areas of my quiet life, then there have been days where I have barely wanted to leave my bed.

Those days are the days that suck my creative well dry. The days I watch the news and the world gives me nothing to be hopeful about. The days I had that call or message to say a loved one was ill, or had passed away (twice, so far).
Still, I’m just thankful that I am okay, we are all healthy, and that, in itself, is the biggest thing.
I’ll keep trying to write, but I won’t beat myself up if nothing comes. These are crazy times. Messing with our heads.
If I can’t write my own words, I’ll read others. I’ll teach myself new things to make my words, when they do come, better.

But I won’t stop trying to write.


(Oh, and I discovered TikTok! Heaven help us all!)

Author Bio
Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her. From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/ritubhathal
And by clicking the following link, you get to my author profile on Amazon: Author.to/RituBhathal
Buying Link: myBook.to/PoeticRITUals


Buying Link: http://getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

And my review of Ritu’s book: https://mjmallon.com/2020/02/09/book-review-marriage-unarranged-ritu-bhathal-arc-review/

And my review of Poetic Rituals: https://mjmallon.com/2017/10/26/my-review-of-poetic-rituals-by-ritu-bhathal/

Social Media Profiles
Blog Website: http://www.butismileanyway.com
Author Website: http://www.ritubhathal.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RituBhathal
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ritubhathalwrites/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/butismileanyway/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RituBhathal/
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/bhathalpadhaal/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/56854412-ritu-bhathal
Mix: https://mix.com/butismileanyway
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ritusmiles
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ritu-bhathal-48941648/
Bloglovin: https://www.bloglovin.com/@ritubhathalpadhaal

Ritu has been a great blogging/author friend. Like me Ritu believes in Team Work. It’s great when writers and creative souls come together to try to help each other.

We both support each other with book launches and the like because that is what friends are for.

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Isolation for Writers – Guest post: Tracie Barton-Barrett #COV1D19 #Isolation #Writers #Grieving

Photo by Egor Kamelev from Pexels

Welcome to author and counsellor Tracie Barton-Barrett, my next guest on my new feature – isolation for writers, creatives, artists and book bloggers.

As a counselor, Tracie wanted to give back and help others during this time. So, she wrote an article/blog entitled,

“We Are All Grieving,”  https://weareallgrieving.blogspot.com/

This is her article which I am sharing here:

We’re All Grieving–Support During This Uncertain Time

Welcome to 2020. We’re living in a time where there is uncertainty (which our brain dislikes), fear, mounting death and illness, lack of supplies, 24/7 social/news, and isolation, all to fight an invisible foe.
If you wanted to create a perfect storm, we’re living it.
So, yeah, it’s OK to grieve.
We’re all grieving something now…
…the loss of a job, financial security, loss of a family member due to the virus, loss of freedom to go where you want to go, when you want to go, the loss of being at home without every single family member there, loss of that trip you were going to go on, the inability to visit a loved one in the hospital, the inability to have neighbors, friends or family over, the loss of identity or purpose. 
Or, the issues you were dealing with before all of this came crashing down.
The list goes on. Although we’re all “in the same boat,” there are different areas and points of view from that boat.

This situation easily calls forth the entire spectrum and expression of human emotion. 


It’s OK if in the middle of the day, or late at night, you suddenly feel heart-broken, overwhelmed, or frustrated, or livid, and just want a hug.  As mammals, the sense of touch is extremely important, particularly to babies.

Same holds true for adults.
–Whatever feelings come up, see if you can really unpack them and get the core of them. If you’re “angry,” try and see if you can get as specific as possible. Does it remind you of any other times in your life you’re reliving from your past? This is a perfect time to dig deeper to prevent out of control emotional eating, drinking, drug use, porn, or anything else that is used as self-medication. My concern is the number of divorces, domestic violence incidents, and suicides that could increase. 
–If possible, try to limit the amount of social media and news you allow in. The kicker is that we need to be connected and a need to belong, which social media can provide. However, it can easily suck us down rabbit holes. Personally, I continue to walk the line between being informed and getting sucked in. It’s a tight-rope walk and sometimes I fall.
Think of social media/news as a very rich, high caloric dessert.A little bit is OK; too much will make you sick.
–Try to create structure in your life. I prefer the word “rhythm” to “routine,” but whatever works for you, try to find it. Otherwise, the days will just run into each other. If you have kids, they thrive in it, even if they say they don’t. Those boundaries create safety, which is at a premium now.
I’ve found it helpful to have 3 daily intentions:· Get outside and/or walk. Reach out to someone via email, text, phone call, etc. Work on my next novel, FINDING HER SPIRIT
–If you’re a position to do it, I also encourage you to use this time to do things that you normally wouldn’t have time for. Perhaps set a bigger intention…”By the end of April, I will…”
But, DO NOT JUDGE YOURSELF if you’re not there. Or, you don’t get there. Or, you find that you need to distract yourself by binging on that show. Or, it’s 5:00pm and you haven’t done squat. That’s OK. 
–Emotional/spiritual health needs to be fostered, too. Meditation, prayer, watching masses or church services online. Reaching out to others, particularly those who are alone, is important. If we don’t find the need for connection in healthy ways, we’ll find it in unhealthy ways. Channeling your energy into making masks, organizing Zoom gatherings, community virtual food drivers, anything to help others is a way to get out of our heads. Sometimes literally just texting someone and saying you’re thinking about them is enough.  
–Staying physically healthy is also important. Our bodies are meant to move, and if we’re dormant too long, it begin to affect us emotionally. Also, if you can get outside, even better. Nature and her beauty is so healing. Kids especially benefit from it.
–If you can, find some fun.

Whatever that looks like for you. I love to sing, dance, and play piano. I also make sure to try to laugh every day, too. Fortunately, there are so many creative videos and memes out there that help. My two cats and husband are fodder, as well. 


–Take this time to learn a new skill, language, or further develop one you already have. Or, clean out that basement or junk drawer that’s been calling your name. 
Again, be gentle with yourself if the only thing you can do is get up and maybe shower. Maybe not even that. 
In the same way with grief and/or trauma, not everyone is at the same place at the same time. The trick is to stagger our moments and meltdowns, so we can be there for each other when we fall. It’s happened to me when I had a bad day, people were there for me. 
Who knows what the next normal will look like? No one really knows. We’re all co-creating this as we go along. This experience brings out what it really means to be human, as the stories of kindness, compassion, and altruism are off the charts. My heart grows in leaps and bounds. My deepest thanks to the medical community, retail workers, truckers, any delivery workers for are keeping us afloat during this time.
I picture it as we’re all walking along a path. Sometimes one of us stumbles but doesn’t fall. There will be times, however, when we really do fall. Then, we will be there to lift each other up.
From six or more feet away, of course. 😊

Tracie Barton-Barrett, MS, NCC, LPC http://www.TracieBartonBarrett.com
TBartonBarrett@gmail.com www.FaceBook.com/TBartonBarrett Author of BURIED DEEP IN OUR HEARTS

Here is the link to my novel, BURIED DEEP IN OUR HEARTS, https://www.amazon.com/Buried-Deep-Hearts-Tracie-Barton-Barrett-ebook/dp/B01EARJ59A/   

Available on Kindle, paperback and now Audible. 

Thank you so much to Tracie for being my guest and offering such invaluable advice.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.TracieBartonBarrett.com

FaceBook:  https://www.facebook.com/TBartonBarrett 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnimalsConnect

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