A Preview of the #AtoZChallenge

The clock is ticking. The #AtoZChallenge 2015 is imminent. And I am frantically researching my subjects, writing my blog posts, and collecting suitable images. I feel a bit flustered with it this year, because I seem to have lost a month somewhere. I mean, one minute I was congratulating myself that I could finish off my first draft of Eye of the Tiger (Redcliffe book 4) before I write my A-Z blog posts, and then all of a sudden, here we are. It starts THIS WEEK! How did that happen???

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Anyway, I have decided to write my blog posts on the theme of paranormal aspects in my novels. For the first day, on 1st April, I will allocate the letter A to Alpha werewolves. I chose this because for some strange reason, and even though I have always been a vampire lover, the Redcliffe werewolf pack have become very strong, and very forceful, characters in my Redcliffe novels series. And indeed, Eye of the Tiger (A Redcliffe Novel) promises to be the most exciting adventure with the alpha wolves yet… it is dangerous, exhilarating, violent and passionate. Got your attention yet? Excellent! Make sure you follow my author blog so you can see what I have to share on the subject of the paranormal…

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If you are interested in seeing other participants for the #AtoZChallenge, check them out on the official website. We have everything from book stuff, to cooking, to photography, to travel, and everything in-between. Happy April!

*Werewolf image found on Pinterest

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Announcing my Theme for the #AtoZChallenge 2015

Apparently I am late to the party this year. For some unknown reason, I am about a week behind everybody else this month. My brain refuses to accept that today is 27th March. It keeps insisting that the date is somewhere in the region of the 17th. Maybe I’m under stress… maybe it is ‘baby brain,’ (that’s a real, honest condition you know!). Maybe I am just so wrapped up in my fictional world down in coastal Cornwall, that I do not function very well as a regular human being while my novels are in progress…

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Whatever the reason, I completely missed the huge reveal party that many of my fellow A-Z bloggers joined in with on Monday. Have you heard about the April A-Z Blogging Challenge? I have been doing it for three years now (I think), and I find it great for networking and motivation. I love writing my blogs. I love interacting with my readers, and exploring other blogs about anything from writing, to photography, to lifestyle, cooking, business… the list is endless. My point is that blogging is a great way to widen your perspective, do some research, and just generally have a bit of educational fun.

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And so to my theme for 2015: Last year I focused on lifestyle, specifically the theme of parenthood and what it means to have a young family. This year I want to celebrate more about me, Catherine, and my personal interests. But that automatically leads into my writing, because it is a part of me. I was recently looking through old photographs, and remembering my nights as a ghost hunter, and slowly I began to devise a theme. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the paranormal world. I would seek out ghost stories in the local library, watch X-Files on television, and I wrote my university dissertation about vampires in popular culture.

I will use my author blog, Paranormal Author Catherine Green as the platform. And I will use the #AtoZChallenge to write about all things paranormal, and how they manifest in my work. You will read about magic and mysticism, animal familiars, witches, vampires, werewolves, energy, and maybe a few more obscure entities that I can procure for your entertainment and interest. See you on the blog hop!

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Just another Mother… the joys of Having it All in the 21st Century

Before I got pregnant I had all these ideas that I could have my child and carry on my life as normal. After all, that’s what other women in my social circles were doing. I knew that my mum and mother-in-law had both taken a few years off work while their children were pre-schoolers. And gradually, they returned to work when they could fit it around the demands of the school run, and all the associated responsibilities that come with children. They made it look easy.

Ah, how wrong I was, with my rose-tinted spectacles and my assertive world view of modern women! Now, four years and two children later, I feel like a Stepford wife but without the glamour. I didn’t really make it easy for myself. When I graduated from university I had been applying for jobs within the media industry. I wanted to work in broadcasting. I took the advice of my peers and career advisors, and applied for work experience and entry level jobs all around the UK. It didn’t yield the results I expected.

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Meanwhile, life plodded on, and I had to find an income fast if I wanted to live with my then-fiance (now husband), and save for our first home and our wedding. So, I did what I knew was ‘the right thing.’ I accepted a minimum wage customer service job in a call centre, and spent the next five years drifting from one admin job to another, all the while applying for any and every media industry role that looked like something I could do. My problem? I had no experience. And nobody would give me the chance to gain the experience by offering me a job.

So I gave up on that dream. I now realise that it was too vague anyway. And by the time my maternal clock starting ticking, I was still a very long way from being the financially secure, independent woman that I had been raised to aspire to. It wasn’t for lack of trying. It was circumstance. And social position. And, well, law of attraction. The more I chased something, the further away it seemed to be. When I finally realised my childhood dream of becoming a published author, I had a child. And then my world did change completely.

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I became the Mother. I became the Housewife. I became, to quote from one of my all-time favourite films, Shirley Valentine. It certainly is a rollercoaster ride, but I do believe things are settling down now. I am an author. That is my career choice. I have complications in fulfilling professional obligations because my children always come first. That has been a bit of an issue recently, when I felt frustrated that I am the one to arrange childcare while my husband goes out to work day after day, doing his thing and getting on with his career. Yes, it is hard. But he earns the money. He is highly educated, highly experienced, and he deserves success. So do I, but then mine is a career that will take years to build. Until then, I will enjoy my children while they are young. I am Catherine Green. Just another Mother.

*Working Girl image courtesy of Medium.com; Mad Housewife image found on Pinterest

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A Very Spiritual Solar Eclipse Experience

I cannot let the weekend pass by without sharing my experience of the amazing solar eclipse that happened on Friday. We all know about it. We all saw the media coverage, heard it on the radio, had it blasted to us across all the social networks. At first I was fairly relaxed about the whole thing. I knew it was happening on the day of the Ostara festival, where pagans and spiritual followers welcome the season of Spring, and that it was the day of the Dark Moon (or New Moon if you prefer). I didn’t really stop to contemplate the significance of this fact.

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It was only as the evening drew to a close on Thursday that it hit me. This was a Big Happening. My husband had been watching Stargazing Live on BBC2, and I saw bits of it around the book I was reading. But then I began to feel something stir deep within my belly (and no, it wasn’t gas!). It was a bubble of excitement, of some primitive sensation that cannot be expressed in words. You know what I mean. It was that feeling of anticipation, like for a long-awaited holiday or celebration. I knew that this event was Something Big. And I was excited.

The day dawned just like any other. My husband disappeared to work while we were still sleeping (I had been up twice in the night with the toddler, a good sleep as it happened). I managed to shower before the children woke up, and then we got ready for pre-school. My neighbour popped round to give us a pair of special glasses through which to view the eclipse. And that was amazing. We showed my daughter, who dutifully said, “Wow!” although I’m not sure she really understood our excitement.

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At pre-school we showed my daughter’s friends the eclipse using the special glasses, and whichever adults in the vicinity wanted to see. And then my friend and I decided to take our toddlers and the dog for a walk while we soaked in the atmosphere of this strange event. We felt the air change. We saw the shadows lengthen. It was a strange kind of daylight, where the day darkened but the traffic never ceased. A few people were watching the eclipse, while others went about their daily business as normal. For my friend and I, it was magical. We knew that this was special. We both felt changed and awed by the energy of the solar eclipse.

How did you feel? Was it magical for you, or just another Friday morning? Please, do share your experiences.

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“No, Mummy, I want the Small Crisps!” #motherhood

Earlier today I took my children to the supermarket on one of our tri-weekly visits for one or two groceries. Of course, it never quite works out that way. One overloaded shopping basket and one abused debit card are testament to that. But I had to laugh at my four year-old daughter. One of the items on my shopping list was a multipack of crisps (or potato chips to my American friends). I chose a 24-pack because it was on special offer and therefore works out more economically for a family of four who love to snack. My daughter promptly threw a tantrum in the supermarket aisle, because she wanted the smaller 6-pack of crisps. They were exactly the same brand and flavour. Sigh!

This is just one of many tantrums and quarrels I deal with on a daily basis. Ah, the joys of being a parent! I had to wrestle my toddler into her coat twice today, and each time she fought viciously in her attempts to evade me. I resorted to plonking her into the pushchair where she was (sort of) restrained, while I yanked her arms in all directions and practically sat on her legs to stop her from kicking me while I dressed her. Then came the trauma of actually fastening her into the pushchair, because she has a tendency to climb or lean forward until she falls out of places where she could do damage. Like her high chair. Or the stairs. Or the changing table. Or, well, anywhere, really.

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As I write this post I am gulping a mug of coffee that is, surprisingly, fairly warm. Perhaps this is because my daughters are elsewhere in the house, no doubt plotting some other massive tantrum because I have already uttered the dreaded phrase, “It’s nearly time for bed, children!” Both my daughters seem absolutely dead set against bedtime, no matter how long they have been awake, or how tired they really are. In fact, as I have mentioned before, my toddler simply does not believe in sleep. I mean, just this morning she was wide awake at 3am singing and shouting, and then again at 5am, where she proceeded to assist her daddy while he got ready for work.

Where do I find the strength? I dare not turn around and survey the state of my living room. My eldest daughter took it upon herself to empty her toy basket in search of her Mummy Pig toy that we lost about a week ago. Apparently, it is imperative that we find Mummy Pig today. My eyes are heavy. I am tired. I need to write. My manuscript is calling out for attention. So is my bed… and then there is the novel I started reading that is intense and deep and powerful, and I really must go and read another chapter right now… but I can’t. First, I must wrangle the children into their pyjamas, and into bed. Then tidy up the carnage in my living/dining room. And eat chocolate. It is my one solace after a long, hard day of work. That, and wine. See you later folks!

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In Honour of my Mum; my Inspiration, my Role Model: Happy Mother’s Day!

Today we celebrate Mother’s Day in the UK, and I am taking the opportunity to say a huge thank you to my mum, Karen Hargreaves. She has always been there for me, and for my brother and sister as we grew up and explored our lives and our world. She has nurtured, educated, nursed, disciplined, supported and fed us for all these years, and she still continues to do so. We all live independent lives, but we always return home on a regular basis. Home is where our mother is!

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My mother may not realise just how much she means to her children. We are not given to shows of emotion on a daily basis, although we do regularly say “I love you.” We live a distance apart, and so we cannot simply pop in and say hello every day. Regardless of this, my relationship with my mum is solid. I know that she is always there for me, no matter what. She taught me to read, and encouraged me to write and be creative as I grew older. I will always cherish the memories of our Saturday morning visits to the local library, when mum would let me loose among the stacks, and take me home again after a few hours, complete with a new pile of books to read.

I want my mum to understand that she truly is a role model for her children, and for her grandchildren. My girls dote on their Nanny. Despite living with a chronic illness that affects her daily life, mum never spares an opportunity to play with her little friends, and they love her all the more for it. Whenever we have a problem, or a challenging situation, mum is the first person we turn to for help. She always has a suggestion, or a plan, or simply the offer of a cup of tea and a cuddle.

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And it is for these simple reasons that I want to say thank you to my mum. Thank you for being my Mother. Thank you for being my Friend. Thank you for teaching me what it is to be a mother myself. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Clearing the Mind makes good Business Sense

My business is getting off to a slow start this year, but that is alright, actually. I started 2015 with high hopes for a productive year. I was full of excitement at the return of my writing Muse, a mysterious entity that seemed to desert me during pregnancy with my second child back in 2013, and remained elusive during the past eighteen months. She is still sporadic with her appearances, but she is at least helping me to continue writing the fourth novel in my Redcliffe series. And she helped me to complete another novel that I am currently showing to agents and publishers.

The difficulty I have is keeping myself focused. My mind is often childlike, in that it flits about from one activity to the next, so that I am often left quite literally running in circles (well, not literally, but you know what I mean!), and not actually achieving very much. For example, I might switch the computer on with the intention of writing a blog post to schedule. While I am there, I might just glance at a photo or image that pops up when I search for a file. And from there, I move on and on, distracting me completely from the original job. It is even worse if I connect to the internet. But then we all have that problem, what with social networks and the all-consuming email machine.

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I decided that this year I will actually complete a business plan. I had tried to do this previously, but without success. I received templates for business plans from local business mentoring companies. I found information online, through blogs and information websites. But none of them really grabbed my attention. Let’s face it, business administration is boring. There is no creativity. And when it comes to working out figures for forecasts and profit calculations, well I very quickly lose interest. I prefer to work with words, not numbers.

Anyway, I finally found a business plan that suits my mindset. I discovered the website of Leonie Dawson. She is a business woman, and very successful with that. She is a mother, so she knows where I come from, even if she doesn’t know me personally. She is a hippy, hooray! Her business plan is colourful, inspiring, and creative. It shows me that business doesn’t have to be boring and staid, which is the message I had been receiving up until this point. Apparently, you can run a vibrant business. And that is what I want to do.

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Now, I have started the business plan. I have not yet completed it, but I am almost there. I have realised that actually, there is no physical deadline. I am fortunate in that I do not need to rely on my personal financial income to support my family. My husband provides that for us. With that pressure taken off, I am free to use my time to clear my mind (when I’m not being harassed by small children). I am purposely taking my time with this business plan, because I want it to be right. This will move my career forward. This is my legacy. I need to be clear on exactly what that legacy involves. Excuse me, while I go away and meditate for a while…

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