Sunday, 30 December 2012

Interesting question

Today my son asked me how to use a comma.  He is only six and I would be incredibly proud of how precocious he was if I wasn't sure it was a stalling tactic. 

I don't know how to use a comma.  I am embarrassed to admit it, but I have some very faint ideas and have used self help books and usage, but I am not really sure.  I wasn't taught about the comma at school (that's another story) and so far I have not been in a situation where life and death hung on the matter of a comma.  I have got by, just like everyone else. 

I am pretty sure I over use commas, and usually go back over everything I write and remove about half.  I use them when I pause, when I take a breath, when I need to slow down the pace.  And at least one comma in the preceding sentence could be replaced by 'and' - and perhaps should. 

It is all a bit hypocritical of me.  I do feel that if I write a story and expect people to read it I should write it using correct grammar and spelling and in a way that makes it easy to read.  Knowing about commas and semi colons and when to use them are the sort of tools that should make a story teller's life easier.  I am a firm believer of using the tools correctly, of putting in the foundations and laying out the stall.  If you want to build a castle in the clouds, using hyphens and ellipses properly will make that foundation stronger and allow a more scintillating tower.  It's the old story of getting the basics right so that you can get wilder and more creative with the fripperies. 

Two things occur to me.  The first thing is that I need to do some research on grammar and usage.  The second thing is that I shouldn't have written this under the influence of Tia Maria. 


Thursday, 27 December 2012

Christmas Food

Rebel that I am, we had lamb for Christmas dinner, and very nice it was as well.  It has been served up twice, and is now finished.  I am not combing recipe books for desperate ways to use up leftover meat before it walks out of the fridge by itself. 

I would feel quite smug about that if I hadn't gone stupid over the veg.  I am now frantically combing recipe books for ideas on using up carrots and parsnips.

The last should be used up with sausages and peas tonight, peeled, stirred around in some oil with a few shakes of curry powder and then roasted for around 40 minutes in a hot oven. 

After that it is just how to use up the frozen sprouts.  I think I will follow the traditional route and throw them out in July.  It's what I did last year, and the year before that, and the year before that...




Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Friday, 21 December 2012

Memo to Self

What you think you need to buy in the supermarket and what you can actually carry on the bus are not necessarily the same thing.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Cats in the Bible on Amazon

I've got Cats in the Bible on Amazon as well now here

(less expensive on Smashwords.com)

I found it!

I thought I had lost it.  It is a shabby, red ring binder and it is full of the poetry I wrote when I was younger, ideas for novels, ideas for stories, scraps of folklore and myth - a magpie's bundle for a writer.  I thought it had been thrown out years ago, and I missed it.

I have always wanted to write, from when I was very tiny, and for years I thought I would never be able to.  Now I am more confident, and I can spend some of the holiday time looking over what I have done in the past and seeing what sparks are struck. 

Finding my folder is the best gift I can ever have. 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Done it!

I've published Cats in the Bible, available here

I hope people who read it enjoy it.  I have had so much pleasure and entertainment from my felonious felines over the years that is impossible not to share the stories. 


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Not sure about this

I receive mails from Amazon.  I actually look at them these days in case there has been a sale.  However the latest mail made me think.  It is an advert for a selection of notebooks and organisers to hold your passwords and log in names for the internet. 

I do keep a Google document, shared with DH, of all the account numbers of stuff like the mortgage etc but never passwords.  I do keep the log in for one site but that was because it was such a nightmare to remember.  For some reason the only log in they would accept was one I could never remember.  I had no problem with the password, just the log in.  I group passwords, so that while I have quite a few, all the shopping ones are variations on a theme, all the natter ones are on a variation of a different theme, and so on, so I usually know where to start remembering.  And I don't have trouble remembering the password to the Google account, so that isn't written down anywhere.  It is there in case of a fire, or something happening when we are away from home and the documents, or a water leak or something that means we need the account numbers but the paperwork no longer exists. 

I was always told that you never, ever, ever told anyone your password.  Not even for a chat forum.  You just didn't.  Now that there is the trend of people making 'prank' entries on facebook when it has been left logged in, and the potential for havoc that can cause, it seems more important than ever.

For me, at the moment DS is happy to just potter about on Minecraft videos.  However a few years down the line, when he is a bit more clued up, a notebook with all my log ins and passwords would be an invitation for havoc for a young lad with his eye on goodies from ebay.  He is not going to be blessed with my passwords for anything. 

I would also say that if goods are ordered in your name, to your address, using your log in and password, and there is a notebook at the side of the computer with all the details in then you are going to have a hard job proving fraud, even if they were ordered by your babysitter.  The notebook could be a recipe for disaster. 

On the other hand, neither my dad nor my elderly uncle order anything online.  Neither of them are comfortable with the internet and both of them could really use a reminder of their passwords.  Having inadvertently overheard darling father setting up telephone banking when he couldn't remember his mother's maiden name, he would need a notebook like this.  So perhaps he is the target audience.  And the advert should have come to me, as he doesn't have an Amazon account, as he never spends money online himself but gets me to spend it for him. 

I still think it is a recipe for disaster. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

High Gravity Day

Today is a High Gravity Day.  It is the sort of day when you should never pick up china.  So far I have averaged dropping about a third of everything I have picked up, or at least that is what it seems.  I have dropped cups, cardboard boxes, bags and a bottle of white spirit.  I have knocked over tubs, bowls and cups.  I am an accident magnet. 

As I am not always very focused on the present I rely on routines to get me through the day-to-day stuff.  I have a rigid routine every morning and it is now instinctive otherwise my son would never have made it to school with all the kit he needed.  As it was it took me two goes to make his sandwiches, the first lot of bread landed on the floor, butter side down!

And even when I called in quickly in the local shops I wasn't safe.  It is really embarrassing to knock over a full stand of wrapping paper in the middle of Christmas shopping rush. 

Today is the sort of day when it isn't safe for me to be in the kitchen. 

I am taking this as a sign that today is a really good day to sit at a keyboard and get some writing in.  Fingers crossed that I don't break the compu....

Saturday, 8 December 2012

I'm in trouble

I got the wrong cat litter delivered with my groceries.  Smoke, my elderly evil tabby, may not forgive me.  On the bright side, it will give her an actual reason to plot my downfall instead of just random malice 

Friday, 7 December 2012

When will I learn

Every time I go into Leeds City Museum cafe I swear never again.  Then after a few months I think, well it can't be that bad.  So I go back in - and I always regret it. 

The staff there are lovely though, just the food has been designed by a Masterchef contestant.  And it may sound wonderful with the caramelised this and glazed that, and it looks very cutting edge catering.  I just wish they did a bacon butty

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Real Life

Over the last two days I have managed six thousand words which I am quite pleased with.  Today DS is off school and the tv isn't working.  This post is one small island of sanity.  I don't really expect a high word count today. 

It also feels like snow.  I don't like to admit to artistic temperament.  I have seen it used as an excuse of bad manners or bad behaviour.  However I will own up to being useless when snow is on the way.  All I ever want to do when snow is on the way is sleeeeeeeeep.  Thank goodness I wake up once the snow starts.

Off to sort out DS again.   

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

I need to work on motivation

On Monday I was in a warm room in a happy mood and feeling fine.  I managed 500 words.  Yesterday I was in a foul mood, with a headache and the room was so cold I was sitting and typing with a duvet round me.  I managed just under 4,000 words. And some of those four thousand words were definitely in the right order.

Today is lovely and sunny but cold, and I am next to a south facing window.  Finger's crossed for a few thousand more words.  I would rather be productive in comfort.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Christmas Presents

I have just about finished my Christmas shopping.  This is more by accident than design.  I don't have to buy for many, so I can get the stuff in easily.  A few presents are magazine subscriptions (the gift that keeps on giving, and giving and giving and giving and it always takes four attempts to cancel any subscription).  Most of the rest of the presents are alcohol.  It is a reassuring thought that so many gifts can be taken care of by something 40% proof. 

Monday, 3 December 2012

I'll Procrastinate Later

I've just added a new box.  It is some of the works in progress.  I just have these ideas and never get around to them.  I have put them out in view (or some of them) to shame myself into getting around to doing something like actually write the bits down.

I once heard that Roald Dahl had an exercise book where he carefully noted all the ideas that he had.  I think it is an excellent idea, and at some point, when I get round to it, possibly next week, I shall set up something similar.

Something else that I could do with copying is Roald Dahl's work ethic.  He didn't even have a word processor either.  He sat down every day and worked.  Stephen King does the same.  I do agree that actually sitting down and tapping at the keyboard is the real key to success in writing.  All I need to do is start the actual tapping. 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

A different view of things

I finally cracked and got glasses.  I was getting handed all these serious medicines and I couldn't read the instructions, it's my age.  So I trotted along to Specsavers, got a nice basic pair that the Hospital Fund will cover and came home. 

Ds was supportive in his own way.  He nearly fell on the floor laughing when he saw me in my glasses. 

I finally broke out the glasses last night.  dh, dad and myself were all planning on sitting and watching something that had been recorded for about a year, which we had been promising ourselves we would watch and last night we actually did.  So I settled down with my knitting and put on the glasses.

I don't know exactly what I expected, but it was really odd.  I could see my knitting perfectly.  I could see all the tiny details on the tube of hand cream next to me.  I couldn't, however, see the tv.  Anything more than three feet away was a sort of fuzzy blur.  As evil cat was sitting some way away she looked like a sort of tabby cushion, which was a huge improvement.  It was not such an improvement not being able to see the tv.  Apparently I have excellent long distance vision for my age.  Last night it was less of a comfort than it should have been.

I spent most of last night feeling like an elderly and stern spinster, with my glasses perched on the end of my nose.  I looked down to see through them and get the detail of the knitting and over them to see the tv and the really wonderful show.  And got something of a headache.  Never mind, at least I can read the small print. 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Is this clear thinking?

I popped into our lovely chippy yesterday.  As I was waiting for my dad's fish (cooked to order - it is a brilliant chippy), they told me that someone had made a huge hole in their cellar wall, where it was exposed at the back.  They had made a massive space, taken loads of bricks away and left the poor owner with a headache.  Fortunately they didn't take anything with them.

I thought about this for a bit.  Someone must have planned it carefully, as while it was at the back of the chippy, there are houses and flats overlooking it and a big main road nearby.  If it was too quiet any noise would be overheard, but unless all was absolutely still there was a good chance of getting seen.  Then someone must have organised tools and such, and gone to a lot of physical effort to get into a shop.  I don't know much about making a hole in a wall, but it can't be that easy or houses would always be falling down.

All I could think was, if they put that much effort into a regular, non-criminal job, I bet that they would be really successful.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

I have a facebook page

Yes, I have a facebook page, and absolutely no idea what to do with it. 

I am sure it will come in useful one day

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Housework

It's surprising how much housework suddenly needs doing when you are stuck on a paragraph - even the stuff that has been ignored for ages.

It is also surprising how important it is to source exactly the right present for a birthday three months away, ebay has never been so scrutinised - yes, I am still avoiding the same paragraph.

I am going on to the reward system - if I make it to 20,000 words today, tomorrow includes a cream cake. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Smashwords!

I finally managed to work out how to get the copyright page to work nicely, and now I am on Smashwords as well!

It feels so odd, putting out the Forgotten Village again. However it is nice to get it out there, and I hope it reaches more people.  I also managed to pick up a typo - the shame of it!  I hate having typos and I hate having formatting errors and I hate grammar mistakes. 

Still happy with the buzz of publishing again.  Need to get writing so I can get that buzz again!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Fiction overtaken by annoying facts

I just want to say that my jaw dropped when I saw this piece of news about a curse tablet.

All I can say is that I had it in the story first, and no inconvenient facts in the news are going to make me change the plot. 

(I had a really good idea about undead pirates as well, but I gave up on that one!)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Another milestone

I have my first review on Amazon - and it's a good one!  So happy!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Identity

I am really stuck at the moment - and of all things, by names. 

I know a lot of people.  I have a good memory for names (rotten memory for faces, so if I walk past you in the street without recognising you, I apologise in advance).  I went to two different large secondary schools, where I knew a lot of people, I went to Guide troops that recruited from different schools to those, I have lived in three very separate counties where I met and worked with a large variety of people, and worst of all - years ago I worked in a civil service position where I saw a lot of names. 

What if I accidentally use those names?

I will definitely never, ever use a name that I know, because that would be impolite.  Besides, it is more fun having characters that are completely your own.  But there are so many names rattling around the back of my head, I am scared that I may accidentally slip.  This is why I have written (but not yet published) a shedload of medieval style fantasy where I can loot Merovingian names - like Lothar (Merovingian name, also used by Charlemagne for one of his sons, sometimes written as Chlothar, for those interested).

I heard that the first writers of Coronation Street got inspiration for their characters from reading names from the tombstones in a graveyard.  I think I will visit a cemetery myself.  It does sound safer.  


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Finally, someone else wondering the same as me

I was watching Grimm last night, and I noticed that the hero was writing up his experiences of recent encounters.  And I could have cheered.

The hero was using the same sort of book, writing by hand etc with the same pen and ink drawings, as the ones he was consulting to get information on what to do with the latest conundrum.  Finally someone other than me has thought, where do these books of wisdom come from?  Who wrote them and why?  Why aren't people still making them?  The book was shown as still continuing so that the next hero can benefit. 

Now all we need to find out is why so many vital bits of occult wisdom are on the internet, laboriously re-typed and copied (hopefully accurately) just in the nick of time for the plot of the book or film to work.  All I seem to find is 101 uses for white vinegar. 

Friday, 18 May 2012

Gin O'Clock

I have just read, cover to cover, the Gin O'Clock book, based on the Twitter account of Elizabeth Windsor.  The (obviously fictional) twitter account of the Queen has the catch phrase 'gin o'clock!'

I have spent hours giggling, laughing out loud (literally) and reading snippets out to unsuspecting passers by.  I can't do the book justice, but I really recommend that if you are on twitter that you hook up - and buy the book.  It isn't by me, I wish I could write that well. 

Speaking of which, it will be about a week before I can write again.  Elizabeth Windsor has a very distinctive voice, that I sort of soak up like a sponge.  One text from today's twitter feed was, 'The King of Tonga thought Catherine was Cheryl Cole. Awkward.'  It's a terse writing style, because of twitter's constraints, and very pithy.  I am finding myself thinking in the same style and struggling not to write this blog entry in the same tone of type.  I can't just write things like, 'So he turned into a werewolf.  Awkward.'

I have the same problem when I read Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, and I have unofficially banned myself from them.  It is a shame as they are beautifully crafted, but I find myself typing in a copperplate tone of voice for weeks after.  This is one reason why I stick to reading a lot of non-fiction. 

So I am doing some research.  Currently I am dipping into some historical recipes.  After reading some of the more outrageous medieval ideas I am happy to stick to microwave meals!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Witch Hazel - thank you for the inspiration!

Witch Hazel - something you have asked re the Forgotten Village has helped me work a major plot development.  I was working on it before, but I really need to make sure you get the credit.  Thank you!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Reality check

I like to put descriptions of plants and the countryside into my work (such as it is at this stage!).  And you find yourself tapping away at a keyboard in coldest December trying to describe a sunny June and you think - hang on a minute, are there roses flowering in June or do they come later?

A few years ago I got a diary which was not specific to a year but had a page a day and I started to make notes of when I spotted bits of wildlife and flowers.  I hoped to be able to use it as a reference, so that I could think, 'hmm, this scene is in May, are the hydrangeas out?'  I made a few entries, then lost the thing. 

However, after a selection of some of the oddest weather that I can remember, where the plants must be absolutely driven made by the inconsistent weather, I have decided just to go by the textbook entries and Wikipedia.  We have just had a May bank holiday which was colder than the preceding Christmas Day!  We have drought orders and flood warnings at the same time in some places.  At the end of March we were in a heatwave, warmer than average June temperatures and all the flowers shot up.  The honeysuckle in our garden started with flower buds.  After all the cold wind and rain (and snow not so far away!) all the flower buds are gone. 

Currently the wild garlic that has been flowering a good few weeks early along the local brook is under water after all the unseasonal rain.  I hope the plants survive, they always look so cheerful at this time of year.  And I shall be careful with my plant descriptions. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Busy morning

Life is still getting between me and the writing, but one big step has been taken.  I am now registered as self employed.

The sad truth at the moment is that I am unlikely to earn enough in the current tax year to be worth taxing, or even paying National Insurance.  However it is sort of satisfying to list myself as an Author, under occupation.  Now I need to try and live up to that!

About a Kindle

Okay, just so you know, and this is definitely not a hint to buy Lyssa Medana's stuff...

You can get free apps for your computer or smart phone here  Not only can you buy books, but there are a shedload of books that are copyright free, like Treasure Island etc which are free like these.  So you could download these apps for free on your pc/phone and then get armloads of books for free from them!

There is also a thingy called Kindle Owners Lending Library where you can borrow books for free, see here.  I think you actually need the Kindle for this, but it may be worth a go, there look to be some cracking books on it.

I didn't know about this.  I haven't got a kindle.  Yet.

Not really writer's block

I have been promising myself a really big stint on the next story (provisionally titled Digging up the Past).  I had already started it and then junked it because I was unhappy with the way it was going, but I have some really good lines to take it.

I have found that as soon as you want to start writing you start distracting yourself.  I have been putting off cleaning my oven for weeks.  Suddenly it has a huge attraction.  Because obviously I need to get that clean before I do anything...

Wrong!  I will do my thousand words regardless and work around that. 

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Pricing

Just want to say, sorry I got the pricing wrong.  It is £1.53 inclusive of VAT.  Sigh. 

It is the lowest price I can get with the pricing structure, and I think that is fair enough because it has been possible to read it online previously (although not now, Amazon have exclusive rights as per agreement).

I am just so giddy, it is an unnerving feeling, like I have just stepped out of a door and I am suddenly falling out of a skyscraper. 


I'm published!!!!

It's official, I'm selling 'The Forgotten Village' on Amazon Kindle here

I am just soooo giddy.  And thank you to whoever liked the book - OH was almost disappointed that he couldn't be the first, but just as thrilled as I am that it has been liked.

I can't keep the smile off my face, and OH is being equally giddy with me - it's brilliant.

Wheeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!

Big step taken

I have put 'The Forgotten Village' in to be published.  It is working through and should be on the virtual shelves of the self published kindle by the end of tomorrow.

I am still worried that I have put the price too high.  It was the lowest that I could do under the royalty scheme.

Now I wait and see.  And, really important bit, get on with writing the next one. 

Friday, 4 May 2012

First post!

My very first post on my own blog about writing!

I am getting ready to upload a story called 'The Forgotten Village' to Amazon Kindle, and I am so nervous.  I really enjoyed writing it.  Mind you, I enjoy writing so much I can get fun writing a shopping list!

Uploading it is the easy bit.  Writing the next big story is the harder part.  This blog is to encourage me along the way.