It must have been over 25 years ago that I first started reading his books. I rapidly became addicted to the point where I would have read his shopping list if he'd decided to publish it. Anyone who knows me at all will have realised by now that I'm talking about Stephen King, master storyteller and all-round weirdo. 

Tomorrow is his birthday. He'll be 64 so Do I still need him? Would I still feed him? (to paraphrase the song). Yes to both. I still love his books although there are some I love less than others. I can go back to my favourites time and time again, always finding something new to relish in his writing. That's all I need. 

I've never checked how many adverbs he uses, or examined his use of dialogue tags. I just get lost in the story.

I'm sure he'll have a very happy birthday. I've raised a literary glass to him by reading his latest short story "Mile 81". It isn't brilliant, but it's good enough, and when you're one of the world's top sellers - that's "good enough" in itself.

Anyway, that's my tribute over. DO you think he might feature me on his blog sometime? Probably not, he's already written "Misery". 
Have you ever noticed how love holds us all to ransom? 
We use it, abuse it, refuse it and confuse it. 
There are those we love because we ought to, those we love because we have to and 
those we love because we want to. Then there are those we love for no good reason at all.
All these loves bring obligations with them.

If you love me you'll ............. (Fill in the blank)
It may not get said -but the meaning is so often there.

Why do you let XXXXXXX say / do those things?  Because I love him / her, of course.

We are conditioned to believe that showing love involves making sacrifices.
Isn't it time we woke up and realised it doesn't have to?
How does this sound, for a change?

"Because I love you, I am going to do the things that make ME happy. That means it'll be nicer for you to be around me.
Because I love you, I'm not going to drag you off to shows you don't want to see, or parties you don't want to go to. But I'm going anyway.
Because I love you, let's share the things we both enjoy together, but maintain the freedom to enjoy other things apart.

I'm going to do all of these things for you ,,, will you do the same for me?"
It's OK to be selfish now and then.
"Once a month isn't really good enough!" 
There, I've given myself a good talking to and I'll try to do better in future. You'd think someone who writes as much as I do could find time for a teensy little blog post now and again, wouldn't you? 
My cell mate, sorry, soul mate (lol) can't understand why I'm not rich and famous yet. He blames the internet, but then he blames the internet for everything, whereas I know that it's all down to the Government. Those boys are too young and too dumb to be in charge of the country. Anyway, as I don't do politics, I'll leave that thought where I found it and get down to the nitty gritty of this post.

This is actually an advertisement, of sorts, as I am planning to release a new book soon. I'm going all "techy" and releasing a collection of poems and short stories for Kindle, as soon as I can work out the formatting and polish the last few pieces. The book is called "The Facebook Collection".

Finally, for those of you who were kind enough to listen to my first podcast, the next one will be published soon.
This has been the strangest of weeks for me. Hence an extra blog post from a reluctant blogger.

A teacher by trade, I haven't taught a class all week. It's that time of year when as a language teacher I have to conduct what we used to call the "orals" but we now call Speaking Assessments in deference to the dumbing-down of society in general.
How a little assessment changes my dear pupils! There is one lad who has been bone idle throughout the year. He's been foul-mouthed and arrogant, frequently refusing to co-operate in class. Hardly surprising then, that he turned up for his assessment having done no preparation or revision of any sort.
I have to record these assessments for the Exam Board. This scared the life out of "Mr Big".
"Don't press 'record',Miss." he begged. "I don't wanna be recorded."
"We don't have a choice,"
"But, I don't know the answers,"
"You should have thought about that, earlier. Even last night would have helped a bit."
"Can't you tell me the answers, and then record?"
"Now, what good would that do?"
"It would make me pass the test."
"No, I won't do that.It would be cheating."
He started to cry. At this point, I turned OFF the microphone and had a little chuckle. I'm not usually cruel - but some people just need a comeuppance and on this occasion I was happy to provide it. 

Today some of my colleagues are 'on strike', so I'm in school, catching up with paper work because my union isn't striking this time. Thanks to those who are losing a day's pay for all of us. I hope our lot will join you next time. In the mean time, I'm setting my affairs in order and starting to pack up my gear because in three weeks time I'm out of here!
What was yours?

Mine was the theatre. I loved everything about it - watching, performing, learning lines, rehearsing, the "roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd". All of that stuff was my world as a teenager. I went to a theatre club every Saturday morning and I took part in Am-Dram at every opportunity.You never really forget your first love and the joy it brought. I never did. I just put it on the backburner.

Last night, it all came back to me. One of the 'kids' who shared my teenage dreams was Andy Graham. We were close friends until we went away to college and contact kind of "fizzled out" the way it sometimes does. I took the path of studying Modern Languages and became a teacher. Andy studied drama and has pursued a career in the arts. I'm not going to tell our life stories, they're irrelevant really, it is enough to say that thanks to the miracle of Modern Technology we located each other via Friends Reunited a few years ago and renewed our connection. We met up a few times, but contact has remained mainly electronic.

For the last six years, Andy's been working on an international arts project called "The Longest Story in the World" involving children from all over the world. Yesterday, I was privileged to attend a showcase performance by children involved in the UK section of this project. I was "blown away". The children, from three different schools had worked together for just three days to produce an excellent piece of improvised drama,mime and dance under the leadership of Andy and his team of international artistes. None of the performers had any previous experience and several of them had various kinds of "special needs", but every one of them was a star last night. For me, though, the brightest star of all was Andy. The ambitious, stage struck teenager is now a modest and unassuming man determined to use his talents to make the world a better place through the arts and the younger generation. (I remember when we were the younger generation.)

"The Longest Story in the World" still has some way to go, and the project needs support in order to fund the work that they are doing in poorer countries. So here's the crunch, folks. I'm posting a link here. If you've got any spare money - contact "ai,ai" and see how you can help. I'm told even tiny donations will help. They are a charitable organisation, no-one is making big bucks out of this. (or even small ones.)
On a much more personal note, it was wonderful to see Andy in person again last night, well worth the 250 mile round trip for which my son Gareth acted as chauffeur. We must not leave it so long again, so maybe I'll take up the invitation to come to Spain soon.
I am so undisciplined when it comes to blogging, it's no wonder nobody reads it. So here's a catch up from the thrilling world of the Verse-Artiste.

1. New novel started. Working title:  "Retribution" - Supernatural / horror with adult themes.
2. Loads of new poetry - may self-publish to Kindle - maybe called "The Facebook Collection"
3. As ever, writing Flashes whenever I have a moment free, so there are quite a few that may appear on this website soon. (The jury's out at the moment, I may have to post some and ask for a vote on whether it's any good.)

4. And finally, The Bucket List (as published in May):

1. Finish writing the WIP that's been almost as dormant as this blog recently.
2. Organise the Poems, Prayers and Parodies.
3. Visit Italy again and dream some more. 
4. Catch up with all the friends I'm always promising to call.
5. Do something I've never done before - that leaves me loads of scope.
6. Visit the USA. (Specifically - Maine and Wyoming, but the latter is subject to change, I 'd probably like to see New York as well.), 

I am happy to announce some progress with these intentions, specifically:
2 - Almost done.
4 - Well, I've begun.
5 - Was sooo much fun!
I woke up in a very cheerful frame of mind today. It's 4.15pm now and I'm still cheerful. I feel unstoppable today. There must be something in the air. Oh wait - there is. I almost forgot. (She lies).There's a new book out - "Poeticising Chat" - and it's got some of my poems in it. Could this have anything to do with my good mood? I suspect it has. Writing means so much to me now that I actually allow other people to read it, instead of it being my dirty little secret! When people appreciate it, I get a real buzz. So when the Rambling Cyber Poets who had already published one volume asked me to join them for Volume Two, I was a very happy bunny indeed.

Yeah, I know poetry will never make me rich and famous, but sharing it with others certainly makes me happy. So thanks to the Rambling Poets, your acceptance quite makes up for the fact that I once offended half the congregation at my parish church by writing a poem about the choir!
(It wasn't nasty - I don't do nasty!) At least I believe God has a sense of humour. I certainly hope so, otherwise I'm stuffed.

Oh, just in case you're interested here's the link:
Well, really I should call this The Bucket List - because that's what's on my mind today. I can be a bit slow at times and I've only just come across the phrase that means a list of things you want to do before you die. I don't like dwelling on thoughts of my own mortality - but heck, we've all got a bucket list, haven't we? Even if it's not written down. So here's mine, published for the first time.

1. Finish writing the WIP that's been almost as dormant as this blog recently.
2. Organise the Poems, Prayers and Parodies.
3. Visit Italy again and dream some more. 
4. Catch up with all the friends I'm always promising to call.
5. Do something I've never done before - that leaves me loads of scope.
6. Visit the USA. (Specifically - Maine and Wyoming, but the latter is subject to change, I 'd probably like to see New York as well.), 

If I have time free, I could also bring about world peace but I suppose I should be realistic. THey have specialists for that.
Does your name, or the name you choose to use, influence the way you speak, behave or even post on the internet? I've started to wonder about this in the last week or so.

Those who know me are familiar with the WYSIWYG person that I am. (Or think I am). I always use my real name for writing and when I use a screen name on the net it's always Verse Artiste, because that's who I am. Or is it? I've done a little research.

It started off as a joke. I was a bit down in the doldrums and there was football on TV, so I escaped to one of my online haunts, a place where I am known by a lot of characters. This time was different though, because I went incognito and intent on having fun. The liberation of being unknown was great and I found that I was rapidly able to do and say things I would never do and say as 'me'. I made a couple of new friends, experimented with my photostudio skills as I played around with my avatar image and finally found myself writing stuff I didn't know I could write, I have a new story in a genre I've never written before and some new poetry. I'd never have written that particular story in my own ID. Is this why writers often use a pseudonym, to divorce the writer from the real person? Is it so a former convent girl can hide behind a mask and write something 'adult'?

I'm hanging onto the disguise, I can get a lot of mileage out of it which will help my writing. It's also useful because the lads I teach know that I write, and there's some stuff you don't want showing up on a Google search. 

I owe special thanks to two people I can't name here at the moment, who now share the secret of my alter-ego and who helped me learn so much. 
You know who you are - I love you guys! 

I think I'm a rare breed amongst women because I don't like shopping. 
Clothes are just for keeping my body warm and/or decent. Shoes do the same for my feet. I really don't care what they look like and the less I pay for them, the better.
I can get excited about buying stationery or books, but everything else leaves me stone cold, especially when money is short.
Grocery shopping is a necessary evil, but if I really want to prolong the agony all I have to do is take along my cell-mate.
Take last weekend. We were down to our last £30, with no more money due until the day after tomorrow. Any woman would realise that those circumstances restrict your choices at the supermarket. Heck, they even restrict the choice of which supermarket you go to. There was no way I could go to Sainsbury's when we have LIDL and Poundland nearby. So off we went to LIDL and the Great Debate began. 
"Shall we get some steak?"
"No, we'll have a chicken. We can't afford steak this week."
"But the steak's £4 and so's the chicken." 
"Yes, but we'll get two meals plus sandwiches from a chicken."
"Oh, OK." He runs off down the aisle and returns with chocolate biscuits and cake. "These are 'on special," he announces. I do some mental calculations, aware that he means well. I have to save £13.50 for my bus pass, or I won't be able to get to work, so disposable income is really only £16.50 - biscuits are less important than toilet rolls, bread and milk. 
Well, suffice it to say that words were exchanged several times during that trip, simply because the male brain doesn't always function in the same way as the female one. At least, once we were back home I was able to prove how unnecessary the biscuits were, by making pancakes -his favourite treat. There's always flour and eggs and milk - because I usually try and shop alone! 
Roll on next weekend - I get paid.