Friday 14 August 2015

A Hopeful Pitch Wars Mentee


My name is Rosemary High and I am a hopeful, nervous, excited, can't-stop-tweaking-my-manuscript, wannabe Pitch Wars mentee. Hoorah!

My Story

The first thing you'd probably notice about me is that I'm a Brit living in Dallas. 2 years ago I met and married a Texan, and, well, here I am, y'all! 

By day, I work for a small family-owned oil company, and by night I read, write, drink tea, crochet, binge on Netflix (my current weakness is 'Chuck') and dream about all the things I'd like to achieve:

1. Be the best mum I can be (we are currently expecting our first child in February 2016 - eep!)

2. Have an agent offer me representation (my palms are sweating just thinking about that!)

3. Have my books read and enjoyed by children all over the world

4. Travel all over said world

5. Overcome my fear of sharks (I still freak myself out in the deep end of swimming pools and even, on occasion, the bath) 

6. Meet J.K. Rowling, Katherine Applegate, Mitch Albom and, oh, let's throw in Tom Hanks too (because he's awesome)

I started off adult life as a teacher in England before returning to 'big school' and achieving my Masters in Creative Writing. 

Since then I have worked on many projects, my most recent being a charity middle grade novel that I self-published to raise money for Carers Trust (a UK based charity). You can take a peek at it on Amazon (Pay Attention to Black Thread by Rosemary High). 

My Manuscript Entry

I am entering with a lower middle grade novel entitled The Woodwose. It has the quirks of a fairytale, along with a little madness, adventure, mystery, friendship, loyalty and a few spiteful squirrels. There are also some Wonkfugglets, Sprutwinkles and Fudrockers thrown in for good measure, because you can never have too many made-up creatures and fun-to-say names, right?! 

My hero is Gerald, aka, The Woodwose. Up until his tenth birthday, he was Prince Gerald of Lundell, but then the hairy midnight madness crept in, along with the inconvenient tree licking, and his parents decided it was time for him to find a nice cave to live in.

My heroine is Fidella, a secretive princess with a not-so-royal past. She seeks Gerald out in his lonely forest abode with the intent on helping him find a cure, and ends up redeeming her own dishonest story in the process.

My writing is very British. I know this because the members of my lovely Dallas critique group often pull out phrases and words that make them a) smile and b) request a translation. 

I would love to work with a Pitch Wars mentor who will bring my work out into the light and make it shine for a global audience. I am approaching this project with open ears and a heart to learn, as well as several pens ready to edit, cross-out and amend.   

I am your lump of literary clay! Sculpt me, please! 


Monday 8 June 2015

The Texas heat made me do it...

There is nothing more annoying than having to constantly push your glasses up a sweaty nose only to have them steam up in the humidity and render you blind. So I finally did it: I got contacts.

It's weird. 

I went to the Opticians on Saturday, and the first thing I said was, "I've never been to the eye doctor in America, so I have no idea how this works." They knew I'd be trouble.

I went through to the dreaded testing room where four machines with their chin and forehead rests awaited me. One of them, I knew, was the dreaded puff test. I hate that thing. It's not so much the puff itself, it's the anticipation of the puff. But I was a trooper. I stared that puff machine in the lens and took it like a pro. 

After the machines came the, "which one is better? 1 or 2? 3 or 4?" I'm not ashamed to admit that sometimes I just guess. 

They took a photo of the inside of my eyeballs which was creepy to say the least. Once I got over the fact that those veins and optic nerves were mine, I marveled at how intricately they are designed. They are so delicate, and yet, if looked after, can last a life time. The body boggles my mind. We are definitely "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). 

I had a tutorial on how to insert and remove my lenses. It's a lot more difficult than it looks! My poor attendant had to be very patient as I poked myself in the eye and apologised for my uselessness a billion times. I even managed to fold one of the lenses in half while it was still on my eyeball! To this, she said, "Erm, I'll just go and get my supervisor." No one wants to hear that, right? 

It is now day three of my relationship with lenses. I am still very aware of them, but I'm sure it's something I'll get used to. I can now remove them with less difficulty (it's all about the slide and pinch), and I'm blinking less than I did at the beginning (thankfully, because I looked like I was flirting with every living thing and inanimate object). 

Thursday 28 May 2015

Palo Duro Canyon

This past weekend was Memorial Weekend in America, a time to remember and appreciate the bravery and sacrifices of troops both past and present.

Austin and I traveled to Palo Duro Canyon on Saturday morning, a five and a half hour journey up into the pan handle of Texas. It was a long, straight and flat journey through fields and small towns, but, as I've mentioned in a previous post, there's something beautiful about the simplicity of the landscape and the openness of the sky. You really do feel like you're in a globe. 

The journey there went well until we passed through the town of Memphis and the sky decided to sit on us. The clouds were so low and black and heavy that all conversation in the car stopped, and we sat in eerie silence. As you've probably seen or experienced, the weather in Texas recently has been crazy to say the least; flash flooding, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. The sky that came upon us showed signs of all three. Without a word, Austin pressed down on the accelerator. The worst we experienced was some flash flooding and a couple of hair raising moments due to lack of visibility. We were very relieved to pass through to the other side.

When we finally arrived at Palo Duro, we were instantly in awe. After hours of flat scenery, the land suddenly dropped into the second largest canyon in America (after the Grand). The views from the top were breathtaking, and as we descended to the campsite on the canyon floor, we felt like we were descending into a John Wayne Western. Rocky outcrops, bright red soil, flowering cacti and creeks as far as the eye could see. These photographs do not do the place justice:

We set up camp in our designated spot about 15 yards from a rushing creek (as I mentioned before, we've had a lot of rain recently). Next to us, also in a tent, was a group of four college lads, and on the other side was a family in their camper van. On the other side of the road were a few impressive RVs. 

Rain and thunder was forecast, so we pitched our tent under a cluster of trees for added shelter, although we did feel snug in the bottom of the canyon. After a quick explore of the immediate area, the rain arrived, and we were ushered into one of our neighbouring RVs for a beer and chat while the storm passed. Gotta love Texas hospitality! 

Our tent withstood the rain well and was as dry as a bone inside. Thank you Coleman! 

Then the craziness happened...

It was around 8pm, and Austin and I were playing cards in the tent when we heard the panicked voices of the college lads next door. We peeked out to see that the creek had tripled in size and was continuing to grow at a rapid rate! Everyone stepped up to help as we moved their tent, our tent and the family camper van to the other side of the road. Luckily, we had no more rain that night, and the creek was back to normal width the next morning. 

During the night, Austin sat up with wide eyes as he was sure he had heard something moving outside the tent. We had fearful thoughts of bob cats, coyotes or cougars, but to be honest it was probably either the wind or a wild turkey. There are bob cats, coyotes and cougars in the canyon, but they tend to keep away from humans. 

There are many trails to explore at Palo Duro Canyon, as well as zip lining, horseback riding and much, much more. We decided to do the Lighthouse hike, a six mile round hike to the Lighthouse rock formation. 

On Sunday, the weather was glorious. We packed some water, put on our sensible shoes, slapped on the sunscreen and set off:

 The Lighthouse!

When we had climbed to the base of the Lighthouse, we enjoyed the views and spotted a herd of wild goats standing on the ridge on the far side of the canyon. We also saw lizards, blue jays, vultures, buzzards, land squirrels, wild turkeys and a rattle snake (well, two veterans walking behind us saw the rattle snake, not us, but it still counts!) 

Later that afternoon, once we'd arrived back at the camp, we ate a victorious post-hike burger, drank a ton of southern iced tea, hopped in the car and began our journey home. Yes, we traveled five and half hours for only one night, but it was totally worth it! 

My advice to anyone who lives in Texas, and even those of you that don't, is to pay Palo Duro Canyon a visit. You will not be disappointed! Plus, you can have an epic hotcake breakfast at the Ranch House Cafe diner in Canyon town, where the average age is 65+ and the waitresses know their locals by name (shout out to Larry!).   

Thursday 9 April 2015

A bald lip, a camel and a taco

I went to get my nails done last night and ended up having my top lip waxed by a tiny Vietnamese lady.

A new nail bar opened two weeks ago in Plano. I went with mother-in-law and sister-in-law as a birthday treat to have a pedicure and manicure. Their gimmick is that while you relax they will provide you with cocktails (and shots that the owner will keep trying to give you as he sips his own can of beer while painting a customers nails.) I loved it! A very friendly atmosphere, and for the rest of the month each treatment is 30% off.

So while I was sitting in my massage chair with my feet and hands in bags of liquid wax, Destiny, my manicurist, stared hard into my face and suggested that I get my eyebrows waxed. 

"They very big here," she said pointing at the offending hairs. 

I agreed, and after my nails were polished and she had massaged my back and face (seriously, they go out of their way to pamper you) Destiny led me to the back where she straightened up my eyebrows. As she was leaning over me and approving her work, her eyes slid down to focus on my top lip. 

"You want me to get that too?"

Get what?! Did I have a mustache?! Quickly I told her, "Yes! If there's anything to get, please get it!"

So, there you have it. I went in for a manicure and came out with a bald lip.


Over the Easter weekend, Austin and I went camping with a couple of friends.

On our way to Joe Pool Lake, we made a pit stop at Fuel City, voted one of the best taco places in Texas. 

Fuel City is a large gas station with a taco shop attached and two carts outside that serve you the most amazing cups of corn as you wait. The tacos were indeed superb, and the added bonus is that you get to enjoy them on picnic benches next to a paddock that contains three donkeys, a foal, a zebra and a camel. I kid you not. Also, as we were sat there enjoying our food, a lady turned up with a basket full of puppies for sale. Is this not the best place in the world?! 

At Joe Pool Lake, we pitched our tents and made a camp fire. S'mores were eaten (with marshmallows the size of my fist), stories were shared (mainly about toots and peeing in bushes) and dominoes were played. It was a blast! 

We went to bed smelling of cedar wood, and snuggled down onto the hard ground (I am definitely buying an air bed next time). 

Then, oh, how it rained! Our brand new tent kept us very dry. Only the bottom corner got damp, which was where Austins jumper was (oops!). Our friends, however...

They spent the entire night covering their faces from the rain drops and trying to stay warm. The next morning, the mud was so thick we grew a few inches when we walked from one side of the site to the other. Needless to say, we did not stay for camp fire eggs.

But we will go again! We'll just wait for the April showers to pass, I think.  


The charity book is up and running!!! (Please see January 20th's post, A Charity Project for more information)

Pay Attention to Black Thread is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle form:

All royalties will go towards Carers Trust, a UK charity that supports carers of all ages:

Thank you all so much for your continued support. I'll keep you updated with how much we've raised! 

Thursday 26 March 2015

Reasons to celebrate...

Austin and I have had lots of cause for celebration recently. I've been promoted to Designer/Office Assistant at the oil company, and Austin has been promoted in his job too. We're also on the hunt for a house, my parents are flying out next month, my friends keep popping out beautiful babies, and the charity book project is near completion. Phew! Or perhaps 'woo!' would be more appropriate. I'll combine them: Phewoo! I've just invented a new exclamation. I have no idea how you'd pronounce it, but I'd better copyright that bad boy. Anyway, I digress...

So, I move out of reception and into my new office on Monday. They're giving it a good clean for me as I type. There are even rumours of a brand spanking new desk! 

I'll be in charge of the monthly newsletter, any in-house advertising, office supplies, web maintenance .etc. Now, I have no idea how to do most of these things...shh!...but they have faith in me. I'm currently doing an online course for Corel Draw, which I love. My first job at work using this software was to create a 'bad battery' label for my boss's bad battery disposal box. He told me to have fun with it, so I did:

I'm excited to delve into creating labels for our company's products. Fun times ahead!

On the house front, we are looking for a house to restore, which may be daunting for some, but is turning out to be like Christmas morning for me. I'm one of those people that would go into a dog shelter and pick out the pooch with one leg, three eyes and a wonky tail. I love the idea of taking something that's broken and bringing it back to life. Jesus led the way with that one. I'll keep you posted with the progress. Once we have a house chosen, I'm sure I'll bombard you with photographs of the process, don't you worry!

As I mentioned, Mum and Dad are flying out next month. They will be staying for just over two weeks, and one weekend Austin and I will join them somewhere new, probably Washington DC. It will be my first time out of Texas since moving here. Finally I get to see more of the States! Again, you will be bombarded with photos. 

Now to the babies. At Uni, I lived with three girls: Gem, Shell and Lisa. Between last October and now, they have each popped out a sproglet. Jackson, Jordan and now, as of today, Scarlett. Congratulations to all three of you! Now I guess it's my turn to step up to the plate...

Finally, the charity book, Pay Attention to Black Thread. It's nearly ready!!! I've just finished proofing the final copy. The publishing date, although not set in stone just yet, is very close. You may remember me mentioning it a few posts ago. It's a middle grade book about a young carer, and all royalties will go to Carers Trust in the UK:

Here's a sneak peek at the front cover, inspired by Renee Bel-Momodu (a young carer aged 11) and created by Katie Hopmann:

The book will be available to order on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle form. I'll keep you posted!

To complete the celebration, you can't go wrong with a good old Pixar mini-movie (slightly random, but I had to get this animation in here somehow!). I discovered this one the other day and thought you might enjoy it -

Partly Cloudy:

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Some comical highlights...

Our friends from England left last Thursday *sniff sniff*. I hate goodbyes. I always think I'm going to be fine on the journey to the airport, but then it gets to the point where you actually have to part ways and this wave of emotion suddenly rushes up and I end up blubbing. Not big heaving sobs (they come a little later when I've watched an episode of Parenthood that just tips me over the edge) but those bit fat tears that fall really slowly and land with a plop. I've decided that I am allergic to departure gates and that I should avoid them at all costs unless I'm going on holiday.

Despite the weather (snow, sun, freezing rain, scattered showers, rain, snow, rain, cloud, rain, sun, rain, rain, sun, repeat) we had a wonderful two weeks with our friends.

Here are three comical highlights:

  • Taking Lucy and Rex for their date night at Medieval Times ( I dropped them off at the door, first checking to see that they got in with no problems. The ticket man at the front greeted us with a fake but enthusiastic English accent. When Rex spoke, said ticket man obviously thought Rex was challenging him to a fake accent duel, and said "I can do five accents, Sir!" Rex stated back, "No, I'm actually from England" and the ticket man quickly retracted his challenge. 

  • Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Archie, who is 18 months old, lapped the show up from start to finish. With snack pot in hand, he mimicked the whip snapping with his hand, offered to share his snack with the 'moo moos', said 'Uh-oh' rather loudly during the national anthem, waved at the guitar playing cowboy ("Geetar! Geetar!") and kissed the horses. 

  • Taking Archie to Chuckee Cheese. Now, I'd heard of this place from various films and American TV shows, but this was my first time inside. It's basically an arcade for children where the aim is to win as many Chuckee Cheese tickets as you can to claim a prize. Archie, being so tiny, was not interested in this at all. All he wanted to do was sit in a car ride next to a plastic Chuckee Cheese and spin the steering wheel like a madman, while Kensely, my lovely baby niece, poked his face. So the task fell to Lucy and I to win those golden tickets. We played and played, while also searching the machines for forgotten tickets that other kids had left behind (you'd be surprised how many there were! Amateurs!). 75 tickets later we managed to trade them in for a paper airplane (which Archie ripped within seconds) and a few Christmas Chuckee Cheese stickers. The success was small, but the fun was large. My favourite moment was when Mr. Cheese himself came out, danced for the kids and threw handfuls of tickets out for them to catch. I am not ashamed to admit that I grabbed some 'on behalf of Archie'. 

Lucy, Rex and Archie, we love you, miss you and can't wait to see you again soon! Thanks for giving us two glorious weeks of fun! 

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Wine and Paint Parties

I had the best girls night last night.

Our wonderful friends Lucy and Rex are visiting from England at the moment in this glorious Texas winter weather (I'm being sarcastic - there's enough water on the ground to drown a whale). Their equally wonderful, if not more so, son Archie is here with them too. 

Last night Lucy and I decided to go on a date, so we booked ourselves into a Wine and Paint party.

The experience is exactly what it says on the tin - you paint and drink wine. Now this could be a dangerous combination. Picture paint and wine sloshing around, then chuck in some crab dip and crackers for good measure, and you've got yourself a fiasco. Or the next Turner prize. 

Lucy and I, however, were pretty tame and gentile with our wine and art evening, mainly because a) I was driving, and b) we were concentrating so much on our artwork that we forgot to sip. 

Wine and Paint Parties and other similar events (Painting with a Twist, Sip 'n' Doodle) are held in various places around the Dallas area. We ventured into Uptown to Max's Wine Dive (slogan, 'Fried chicken and champagne?...why the hell not?!'). It was a great environment, with about 20 budding painters/wine drinkers settled at easels. 

We created an impressionists view of the Dallas skyline, complete with Van Gogh inspired stars and reflections in the Trinity river. Our teacher guided us through the process smoothly, with the end result that we all had our own version of the scene (apart from one girl who decided that a forest would be much more fun to paint). 

The best part about it was seeing everyone's styles and personalities coming through in their paintings. We sent these 'who-painted-what' pictures to Austin and Rex part way through the process, and they both guessed correctly! 



At the end everyone had a little nose at the various attempts. The guy siting behind us had chosen his own very bright colour combinations and had created a masterpiece worthy of  his first grade self (his words, not mine). He grinned and told us that a lot of passion had gone into his creation, and we both agreed. He had definitely been using his paintbrushes with gusto.  

Here are our finished products alongside the original:

And here's a link to Wine and Paint Parties if you fancy a unique night out in Dallas: (Check out Groupon for some great deals)