Posts

To the Letter!, by Ben Jeapes

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I thought I would talk about Line of Duty . I mean, hardly anyone else is … Whether you’ve had so much exposure that you are now at risk of developing anaphylactic shock at one more mention, or whether you’ve never seen a single episode and are proud of it – don’t worry. I’ll use a light touch. Line of Duty , for all its overly-convoluted self-referential plot lines, was born out of a simple desire to do a police drama that played it absolutely straight. There is far, far, far too much sloppy police drama with a maverick detective who breaks all the rules, goes it alone, and gets results at the cost of half the cast, but that’s okay because they get the bad guys so who’s counting? A variant on this is the maverick detective who breaks all the rules, gets results, but gets into severe trouble as a consequence. Though the bad guys still go down. Both irritate me, because I expect professionals to be able to put their inner demons aside and, well, be professional. I

My struggles with grammar

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Photo by  Brett Jordan on Unsplash   For those of you who believed I was going to be writing about Jane Austen this time, I can only apologise. Yes, I am coming to the end of my six weeks ‘Writing with Austen’ course, which is proving to be most delightful. Why did I wait so long before reading Pride and Prejudice! This time though, I’m going to get a little personal, and bare my writer’s soul, or brain. You can decide which one at the end. I struggle with the art of grammar–and punctuation, but I’ll save that for another time. Two things prompted this post. Nicki Copeland’s excellent grammar tips , and the fact I am taking a ‘Grammar for writers’ course .  What I’m shocked about is how much I didn’t know! I remember learning that nouns are naming words, verbs are action words and adjectives are delightfully descriptive ones, but how did all this ‘every sentence has an object and subject’ pass me by? And then there are the ‘to be’ verbs. Am, are, is, was, were, be, being and been.

Words of Hope

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Tracy Williamson’s post last April really resonated with me. That she had to hear words of hatred, so vitriolic she lost all hope and nearly lost her life, cut me to the core. How can anyone do that to an adult, let alone a child? But it happens. We all know it happens. A good friend of mine explained why. Cortisol is nature’s built-in alarm system. It's the body’s main stress hormone and works with your brain to control mood, motivation and fear, whereas oxytocin (the happy hormone) is connected to life-affirming activities. Now, this is the interesting bit; the oxytocin is very short-lived and is removed from the bloodstream within around 5 minutes but the cortisol can hang around for hours!! I have had to heal over the years, recover from words thrust at me like knives, my child-heart alarmed and confused by my disobedience and deception. Like Tracy and many children like us, I found solace in stories and would lose myself in reading and writing them.  But don’t you find it fasc

Don't Forget Your Cutlass

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  Over the years, I’ve found myself using phrases I never thought I would. If you’d told young, carefree, twenty-something me that one day I’d be bellowing things like, “Put that gun down! What have I told you about shooting your brother?” and “Where have you hidden the babysitter’s shoes?” I would have laughed in your face.   A couple of weeks ago, rushing out of the door at 5.25 en route to dance, I found myself shouting up the stairs to my daughter, “And don’t forget your cutlass!”   Up to now, I’ve presented myself as a fairly peace-loving and balanced kind of gal. For any new ACW members, or those who have not yet interacted with me, I’d like to reassure you. Just because I’ve mentioned guns and swords already, before we even get to the solid meat of this blog, it doesn’t mean I am of a violent disposition. The gun was a Nerf gun, wielded over-enthusiastically by an eight-year-old. The cutlass – well, we’ll come back to that.   Now, very nearly a full-time writer with three

Fighting Imposter Syndrome

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Image by Prashant Sharma from Pixabay I’m a lay preacher. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received about preaching is that “you can’t preach it if you don’t live it.” This doesn’t mean that someone who preaches never sins or makes mistakes – of course not. It does mean that as a preacher, you must be completely genuine and transparent before God, and before other people. You must be authentic. If you don’t actually know or experience anything of the love of God, if your life is not rooted in the truth of his Word, if you are not actually trying to live that truth out, how can you share those treasures with other people? How would you dare? Even so, when I first began preaching, I felt like something of a fraud. Who on earth did I think I was, to be proclaiming God’s word to others, to be telling other Christians what to do and how to live? Was I better and more holy than them? Of course not! Preaching is a spiritual gift. It didn’t come naturally to me, it was

Don't give up the day job

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I find myself back “tent-making” this week. Some of you may know that I worked as an interior designer and decorator for seven years, before sensing I should lay it down at the start of 2019. I’ve been privileged to have spent most of my time writing since then, but this week I have picked up the paintbrush again in order to help out a friend. It feels odd not to be writing – not that I’ve entirely abandoned it, of course. My whiteboard in the office still shows some looming deadlines of shorter, commissioned pieces but the magnus opus no longer needs my undivided attention. In fact, said novel – resplendent in its shiny new re-write – is currently being pitched to a publisher, a testing of the waters by my agent. And the parallel is not lost on me: that I am spending time painting a lady’s house because I have finished writing my psychological thriller about an interior designer doing up a lady’s house… In this brief season of busyness, I have found precious companions via podcast

The Healing Power of Colour - by SC Skillman

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As I write this post I am still feeling uplifted by the glorious display of life-enhancing colour experienced today at Hampton Court Palace for their Spring 2021 Tulip Festival. The brilliant colours on display gave joy to all as could be seen from the tourists who were keen to pose for photos in amongst the sea of colour. It was as if they wanted to somehow identify themselves with this vibrant show of beauty. The bible is full of gardens, used as imagery, and as spiritual metaphors. A garden is used as a place of shelter and shade, and also as a place of protection. Paradise is envisaged as a garden; and Jesus is mistaken for the gardener by Mary, after he has risen from the tomb. One of my favourite verses in the bible is this from Isaiah 58: "The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."    The imagery of the tree of life is a