Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Getting out there

'Digging up the Past' is now on Amazon Kindle here.

I'm sorry about the price.  I prefer setting it a lot lower, but Amazon Kindle pricing has its own ways.

I'm still waiting on Smashwords to see if it can get distributed to the other main retailers.  I'll let you know when it shows.

I now need to crack on with 'A King's Silver'.  I'm enjoying writing that.

Finally Finished

'Digging up the Past' is finished, done with and available here.

'The Forgotten Village' is now free from Smashwords here.  It has a nice new shiny cover thanks to Thomas Marlowe.

'Digging up the Past' is now going through the process of being approved by Smashwords and Amazon and will surface soon.

If you buy from Smashwords then it is slightly more money for me.  However if you prefer to buy through a different channel then it should surface in the next few weeks.  And if you prefer not to buy at all, that is really okay.  Honest.  I am just incredibly flattered than anyone reads what I have written.

The only thing I would utterly plead for - if you read 'Digging up the Past' and like it then please, please, please leave a review.  It makes a massive difference to an author.  If you could leave it on Goodreads it would make a huge difference to me.  But if you don't want to, that's really fine.  I'd rather someone enjoyed reading something I wrote without worrying than felt uncomfortable about what they feel they ought to do.

Now I had better get back to real life.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Precipice 13

My good friend and invaluable support, Thomas Marlowe, is published in the latest anthology from Write on Edge. 

Anyone interested can find it on Smashwords for any ebook format, Amazon UK in print and kindle and Amazon US also in print and kindle. 

I am so hoping I can persuade him to expand his idea, he has such great talent. 

Broken Laptop

The case has gone on my laptop.  It was 'new to me' and inexpensive so I was okay with that.  However I could do without it - I've about 5000 words left on Digging up the Past and I left it at the start of a big scene. 

One thing that was really important.  I had to clear my browsing history.  The very nice man who will be mending my laptop is connected to my husband's work.  I didn't want to try and explain that all the searches on how to kill someone were research for a novel.  I wasn't sure I would be believed.  The tags on the browser bar are bad enough.  If we met up at a work do I would probably get a funny look just on those. 

So only a few thousand words more, then I am probably going to work on 'A Quiet Halloween'.  Or perhaps 'A King's Silver'.  Or possibly 'A Shop Full of Secrets'.  That is, once I've got my laptop back. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Getting back to things

Sorry about the radio silence, I should be able to catch up soon.

btw did you know that there are all sorts of places where you can find out popular baby names for a given year.  I've been stuck for three hours because I couldn't think of a name.  Fortunately the Office of National Statistics compile lists of popular names and as I knew roughly how old he character would be I could download the spreadsheets and then use a pin.

Now all I need to do is find a surname.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Normal service will resume shortly

Apologies for radio silence, but it's been a bit tricky writing anything more involved than a shopping list for a bit.

And I'd hit a fight scene in Digging up the Past and I loathe fight scenes so I ended up trying out the start of A Quiet Halloween and I've come straight up against another fight scene #dammit

I hope to catch up with all the brilliant writing soon x

Saturday, 15 June 2013

English Disco Lovers

English Disco Lovers are a group that are hoping to reclaim the letters EDL for anti-racist, anti-fascist good people.  I believe they are trying to get their site higher up the Google list.

Their link is here

I was always more punk than disco, but I would force myself for this.  Here's their statement.  Please support if you are on facebook/twitter or just in general

http://www.edl.me/

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

An Old Elfen


This story is written as a response to a prompt from Write on the Edge and Trifecta which are writing communities who set a prompt every week to encourage people to put finger to keyboard and engage in their imagination.  I thought I would have a go, as I need an encouragement to keep writing.  Here is the prompt and the story that followed.  I hope you enjoy it.

"...of course the word 'petrichor' means the song of the stone.  I think that is a word that is underused in these times.  So much of the language of Shakespeare has been lost.  Mind you, I only met him when he was drunk..."
Elaine and Steve exchanged glances.  As the elfen lord carried on with his pedantic monologue Steve whispered, 'He's got it wrong, you know.  It means 'blood of the stone'.  I looked it up once.  It's all the same with the older elfen.  They get odder with age.  The trouble is that as the elfen get older they get more and more powerful.   They get better at controlling weather and seem to know more magic.  I'm just grateful that they get a bit more caught up in the old stories."
Elaine looked around the room.  It had radiators but no central heating.  There was a television in one corner but it was surrounded by what looked like a lattice of hawthorn twigs.  What looked like a silk cloth was neatly folded over the top of the television.  Over the fireplace was an empty frame where a mirror would normally hang and the wallpaper, while new, was a pattern that hadn't been current for fifty years or more.  "So that's why we couldn't bring in anything made of iron."
Steve nodded.  "And why we have some clothes inside out.  It's a sort of protection."
"...of course nowadays the language changes so quickly.  That is why I watch my television, through a scry glass of course, and I am quite concerned about some of the things I see.  I noticed a programme on Tinkerbell, for one serious example..."
As the old elfen droned on, Elaine looked with concern at Steve.  "But he wants us to buy what without iron!?"

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Eurovision

Unless you are British you have no idea of the impact of Eurovision.  My view is, c'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre and best seen through large amounts of alcohol.

Some really good songs.  I sometimes wish we were a bit less insular with music.  Then again I choked on my gin after watching the Romanian entry.

Tom Marlowe has just sent me a note saying that some of the entries do not accurately reflect centuries of proud warrior tradition.  On the other hand I think that some of the ladies' dresses show courage worthy of the finest military tradition.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Haunting Music

This story is written as a response to a prompt from Write on the Edge and Trifecta which are writing communities who set a prompt every week to encourage people to put finger to keyboard and engage in their imagination.  I thought I would have a go, as I need an encouragement to keep writing.  Here is the prompt and the story that followed.  I hope you enjoy it.


Image from Write on Edge
DELIBERATE
1: characterized by or resulting from careful and thorough consideration <a deliberate decision>
2: characterized by awareness of the consequences<deliberate falsehood>
3: slow, unhurried, and steady as though allowing time for decision on each individual action involved <a deliberate pace>


Elaine slow, deliberate and with great care checked and rechecked her internet banking.  The money was there.  It was a lot of money and that made it a lot easier.  Cancelling a wedding with a month to go was very expensive.  Selling her late grandfather's piano was a bit of a wrench, but it was time to let go of things.  If she had been less attached to her home, her keepsakes, her things then perhaps she would have listened to the little voice warning her that her relationship was not going well.  Being forced to look at evidence of Keith's affair had been a shock and it had made her look at a lot of things in a whole new light.  She was going to sell everything and travel the world.  She was going to sell everything and go back to college.  She was going to sell everything and, well, do something to change her life around. 
She looked at Steve.  Steve Adderson was once again acting as an agent for someone else. 
"You have the money?" he asked.
Elaine nodded.  "The piano is haunted, you know." She said.  "I've heard it sometimes at night."
Steve looked out of the window and gestured to the very specialist movers.  "It's not haunted, it's enchanted." he said. 
"Can I come with you?" Elaine asked impulsively. 
Steve looked at her thoughtfully.  "I need to check something anyway."  He rummaged in his pocket.  The small, dusty button looked incongruous coming out of the pocket of such a sharp suit.  Steve lifted the lid to show the keys and placed the button on top of the upright piano.  There was a click.  He pressed the button and suddenly a pair of ghostly hands were playing a wild, Hungarian waltz.  Steve nodded and removed the button.  The hands vanished. "Still want to come?"
"So the stories about my grandfather were true?" Elaine stared at the piano as the movers started to wrap it carefully.  "I am definitely coming!"

Despite my best intentions I am getting recurring characters.  You can check out more about them on the side bar here.  I hope you enjoy this story.  

Friday, 10 May 2013

Grammar


I was reading an article about Grammar in the Guardian online here.  I found it desperately depressing.  I didn't know what half of the words meant.  I was educated during the great educational experiments of the seventies and I was never taught grammar.  In fact during my first three years of school I wasn't taught to read or write either.  I was introduced to the whole idea of nouns and verbs aged eleven when I started to learn French.  I have never quite grasped some of the grammatical terms introduced by French either.

It was quite reassuring to find that my regular sin of starting a sentence with 'and' isn't so bad.  Apparently it is okay to boldly split infinitives.  I was drilled never to start a sentence with 'however' but I learned later that actually it is quite acceptable.

My first aim when I write a story is to write something that people can enjoy, with believable characters, interesting plots and room for a reader's imagination.  When it comes to the technical side of writing my general rule of thumb is, 'can someone who has never met me understand what I have written?  Is it clear?  Are there places which are ambiguous?  Is it consistent?  I suspect that using grammar correctly will help me achieve these goals.

I picked up grammar through reading.  I write what I think sounds write, listening to the words.  If I am a writer (and I suppose I am) then I really need to learn these things properly.  It's like a decorator not knowing how to paint a wall.

I think I had better look out for some evening classes.  I am not enthused by the prospect, but I am quite determined.  Can anyone recommend any books?

Monday, 6 May 2013

A Strange Inheritance

This story is written as a response to a prompt from Write on the Edge andTrifecta which are writing communities who set a prompt every week to encourage people to put finger to keyboard and engage in their imagination.  I thought I would have a go, as I need an encouragement to keep writing.  Here is the prompt and the story that followed.  I hope you enjoy it.

Picture from the Write on the Edge Website


3
Elaine stood under the cherry blossom trees folding and unfolding the message that had brought her here.  Keith had proposed to her under a tree full of cherry blossom.  It was cherry blossom time again but today it seemed colder.
A BMW pulled up a few yards away.  Elaine watched a slim man get out of the car carrying a large brown envelope.  Cherry blossom petals fell around her. 
The man looked around, saw Elaine and walked over to her.  "Hi, I'm Steve Adderson.  We emailed about meeting, I'm glad you can make it."
"Why did you contact me?" Elaine asked.  She hadn't meant to say it.  She had planned quiet dignity but the words spilled out.
"Your grandfather was Herbert Pettigrew.  He did a favour for someone who..." Steve searched for the words.  "My client takes the matter of debts of honour very seriously.  Your grandfather died before he could repay that debt.  My client felt that the debt carried on in the blood, a strange inheritance.  As you are on the cusp of marriage he thought you should see this."
Elaine barely heard the words as she stared at the envelope Steve was holding out to her.  She had suspected but she didn't want to have proof.  Her fingers felt almost numb as she opened it and pulled out the pictures.
There were a lot of pictures.  One stood out, one burned itself into her eyes.  Keith was having a quiet drink in a bar with the fair haired woman who was in all the pictures with him.  It was the least graphic of them all.  They were not physically close, they were not touching, but the love in their eyes said more than any picture taken through a bedroom window.  Cherry blossom petals fell onto the pictures.
"Wait, who sent you?" Elaine called after Steve but he had walked briskly away and climbed into the car.  Elaine leant against the cherry tree and started to cry. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

When one Door Closes...

This story is written as a response to a prompt from Write on the Edge and Trifecta which are writing communities who set a prompt every week to encourage people to put finger to keyboard and engage in their imagination.  I thought I would have a go, as I need an encouragement to keep writing.  Here is the prompt and the story that followed.  I hope you enjoy it.

Door 3: a means of access or participation : opportunity <opens new doors> <door to success>



"It's just different ways of working, that's all."
Steven Adderson looked at the man from Headquarters and wondered why he was faking polite interest.  "Really?" he said.
"Did you know that once society ladies had maids who had to dress them?  Look at this."
Steve looked at the fake advert for automated closets.  "Hmm."
"So it isn't that you've been replaced by new machines, just by a different way of working, just like them.  We have to let you go.  It's nothing personal."
The plastic phrase was the final straw.  "Thanks for this chat." Steve stood and held out his hand.  "I appreciate your time."  Five minutes later he was in the car park next to his BMW and wondering what he was going to do now.
Steve looked down at the his key fob.  He loved this car, but how long would an unemployed man be allowed to keep a three week old prestige car?  He had only had it two of those weeks but he loved it with a passion.  A motorbike drove up behind him.  Steve turned round automatically and then froze as the biker took off his helmet.
"Steven Adderson, call centre worker, do you remember me?"
Steve nodded carefully.  "I remember you, Lord Marius.  You are one of the..." Steve searched for the right words. 
"I am one of the elfen, or faerie if you must, and you provided a coveted gift for Lord Cerdig."  Lord Marius put down his helmet and pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket.  "News of your sale has travelled.  I have further requests from a number of powerful elfen Lords.  Lord Lothar requires a new variety of tea.  Lord Karum has requested that you find some wedgewood china.  Lord Laurentius has asked about your knowledge of mobile phones..."
As Lord Marius read the growing list Steve could feel his smile growing.  What was it they said?  As one door shuts another one opens.  It was time for a career change.  

Friday, 26 April 2013

Writing is educational

Writing is sometimes as educational as reading.  I've been struggling to remember what flowers when, as during the last twelve months in the UK the weather has been cold, damp and unpromising and things haven't grown as they should.  A tv show 'The Wartime Farm' struggled to reconstruct farming during WWII because, as the presenter put it, even the weeds weren't growing.  As I have been pottering around this week I have thought the flowers are doing well for the beginning of March.  However I am typing this at the end of April.

So as ever, when everything else fails I turn to google.  I found this site - English Wildflowers, a Seasonal Guide - and I had a good look round.

While I was trying to find the right plants to add to a descriptive passage in 'Digging up the Past' I found a small entry called 'Chickweed Willowherb'.  I had a bit of a look out of curiosity and I found a plant that I had known from childhood as a very common weed that was easy to pull up when weeding and that had pretty flowers.

picture by martinjohnbishop and posted on iSpot

So while I've known what this plant looks like since I was old enough to toddle, I only now know its name.  I probably won't drop it into the middle of a block of description, but I will remember it.

Interestingly enough, as I was looking for a picture for this I found a site called iSpot, which has all sorts of nature sightings and records just sent in by the public.  I found a few bits that were local to me.  So I learned even more.

It's been a good day, I love learning new things.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Exchange on a Bridge


This story is written as a response to a prompt from Write on the Edge which is a writing community who set a prompt every week to encourage people to put finger to keyboard and engage in their imagination.  I thought I would have a go, as I need an encouragement to keep writing.  Here is the prompt and the story that followed.  I hope you enjoy it.


pinhole 970, bridge © Darius Kuzmickas via Flickr
Steve Adderson, call centre worker and now dealer with the Faerie Realm stepped nervously onto the bridge.  It was the same concrete bridge it had always been, however now there was a tall man in a motorcycle helmet standing next to his dark motorbike in the centre of the bridge.
The motorcycle rider removed his helmet.  "Are you Mr Steve Adderson?" He asked. 
Steve swallowed nervously.  What had possessed him to deal with someone who described themselves as elfen?  "I'm Steve Adderson." He said, his voice almost breaking with fear.  "Are you Lord Marius?"
"I am indeed." There was a hint of impatience. "Have you brought it with you?"
Steve swallowed again.  "Yes, I have."
"And payment has cleared in your account?" Lord Marius asked.
"No  offence, but when I was first contacted I read up a bit and they mentioned fairy gold..." Steve took a deep breath.  Lord Marius was a lot taller than him, and he had a dangerous edge that went beyond the trappings of a biker.
"As a kindness, and hoping for a speedy transaction, I will share some small information." Lord Marius leant casually against the railings of the bridge.  "If you are dealing with the elfen, never take food, or drink or cash.  Cheques are usually safe enough, though nothing in any path is guaranteed.  And this treasure that you bring me, which has been bartered hard for, well, that is an illustration of elfen foolishness.  You were contacted by Lord Cerdig." Lord Marius sighed.  "He does not see a great deal of the sunlight realm.  He ventures here rarely and his influence is waning, particularly amongst the younger members of his court.  He seeks to bolster his position so he finds something that his more powerful neighbouring prince covets to buy aid and support." Lord Marius shrugged.  "However this neighbour is in the grip of a strange obsession.  It is a curse of our kind.  He is quite desperate for treasure such as you carry, no matter how odd it seems to others, he pines for it.  So Lord Cerdig offered highly for it, lest another find it first and win it from you."
"I was a bit surprised." Steve said.
"Your treasure has some value in your world, but it is not the same value as that to a desperate elfen prince, buying the heart's desire of a much needed ally." Lord Marius sighed.  "Please give it to me."
Steve hesitantly handed it over.  Lord Marius took out the object, examined it with careful fingers and then finally nodded. 
"It is exactly as described." Lord Marius said.  "Here is a bonus from Lord Cerdig, all the papers are in order."
Steve's reflexes caught the car keys that Lord Marius threw at him.  The very new BMW car keys.  And then he watched Lord Marius ride off into the mist carrying with him a package that would cost, at the best valuation, one fiftieth of the price of the second hand BMW he had been looking at longingly in the local showroom.  And some elfen was now the owner of a 1936 Rupert Bear Annual, mint condition.  He held up the keys to the growing light.  What was the car equivalent of fairy gold? 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

It's here!

I have finally finished the first installment of 'At the Sign of the White Hart' so please dip in to the story.  I would love to hear any feedback.

Just click on the tabs on the right hand side and enjoy!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Keeping busy

I will be starting a serial soon, set in the same background as 'The Forgotten Village' but not the same location.  This time it will be set in York, UK.

It's a long time since I visited York, I am embarrassed to admit, and I don't foresee many chances to visit, even though I could do with the research and I love York.  So I am googling and reading and remembering.  I've had holidays in York and loved them (if you go I recommend the Castle Museum and The Shambles) and I worked for a few weeks there, spending my lunch hours wandering around enjoying the 'feel' of the place.  York is supposed to be the most haunted city in England and the place is thick with stories and legends.  It is a very ancient place, so all the more reason for it to be over-run with boggarts and elfen.

I am being very upfront about how I am going to do this.  The plan is to have thirteen episodes, one posted every week on this blog.  These are, of course, free to read.  I shall leave them up at the end for a few weeks more.  Then I shall start another series, and when I do that I will take the first series down and publish them through Smashwords at their minimum price (currently 99c).  However you will not need to buy it, as you will be reading this for free on the blog as they are posted.

(btw Woman's Weekly used to do similar, my mother used to get the magazine and read the serialised romance and then you could get a (very cheap) book of the serial, usually three together in a binding.  They may still do)

I hope you will enjoy reading it.  After all, if an elfen and a 'normal' open a shop together, there are bound to be a few stories to be told.

First chapter up soon.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Smoke has passed away

Smoke, aka evil cat, has passed away peacefully.

She has probably trotted into heaven, curled up on St Peter's chair, refused to move, sneezed in fury, hissed and shed all over St Peter.

We were blessed with her from August 30th 1994 to April 17th 2013.  I don't know how we will do without her.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

My lion


My Lion

My little lovely tabby is looking rather sweet
The elegant and tabby tail is curled around her feet
Expressionless she looks at me with bland and secret eyes
Assured the plate of sausages was dinner in disguise

I want to read the paper but my lap is occupied
A tabby cat is dozing so I've put my read aside
And though it's really painful as the claws are sinking in
The sound of cat contentment keeps me tickling her chin

It's as if a dozen devils are fighting on the floor
And a screwed up piece of paper is tossed from paw to paw
It's thrown, bit and fought and then chased across the stairs
Then the tabby runs in panic from a fright that isn't there

My cat lies soft in sunlight and her fur is golden bright
Her eyes are slits of slumber as she turns into the light
She stretches like a lion sprawled who drowses in the heat
And dreams of Serengeti mice are twitching at her feet

My tabby's meditating and her limbs are all tucked in
Her head is nodding forward as she draws herself within
And who knows if she meditates to the fire's gentle hum
Her focus will reward her and a lion she'll become.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

I Blame the Darkwater Syndicate

Is that a footstep
In this empty house?
Is that a tap
On the second floor window?
Has my dead love
Come back

(You've got me thinking in poetry, darn it! - and thank you!)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Do you like dark short stories?

Thomas Marlowe created the cover designs for 'The Forgotten Village' and 'Cats in the Bible'.  He has a blog and he has written a few dark short stories, a bit gothic.  His latest one is called Abandoned Beauty and I very much enjoyed it, so I am recommending to anyone who may be interested.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

I follow in the footsteps of giants

There is a story here on the BBC news website about a ring that inspired Tolkien and a curse tablet linked to it.

I love finding things like this!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Truth is stranger than fiction

I've just been doing some research.  I've been mulling over some plot lines for the next but one novel and also some short stories I have been thinking about and I looked on ebay under 'Metaphysical and New Age'.

I couldn't put half of the things on there in a novel.  It wouldn't seem plausible.  There is a magical herb starter kit.  It looks very useful, the seller seems very reputable and the sort of seller I would look for when doing business and they have great feedback.  It's just some of the 'buy one get one free' offers, and the kits and collections seem so incongruous.  It just seems so far removed from the fictional world where spells and herbs are so arcane and not found on the same site as bulk packs of toilet paper and great deals on new and used children's clothing.

Mind you, many years ago I went to Todmorden where there was a New Age Shop.  It sold guaranteed used coffin nails but we couldn't go in as the sign on the door said, 'Closed for Herb Gathering'.  That's the sort of thing I would expect if I wanted to get hold of magical incense.  Not an internet site where I can also get excellent deals on knitting yarn. It takes all the story away.

However, I admit it, I have had some great ideas spinning off the stuff I saw on ebay.  I'll just have to tone it down a bit


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Smoke is helpful


I was filling in some surveys.  I am not sure how helpful I am sometimes because I answer as honestly as I can but I don't seem to fit in any of the neat boxes.  One 'tester' came to the conclusion that I would never shop online for groceries.  I can't be doing it right.

Anyway, I plod on and do my best filling in the survey on holidays.  They want to know about the whole household.  DF would go on holiday all the time to destinations exotic, I love day trips to historical places and DH and bear would rather not leave the house, thank you so much.  It's a bit of a challenge.

Fortunately a lot of my answers were taken out of my hand as Smoke jumped on the keyboard and resisted all attempts to remove her and clung on until we had got past all the Disney pages.  I am not sure whether I will now get a brochure in the post or an injunction to keep away  I had to give her treats to get rid of her - and now she knows how to get treats out of me.

I have been trained by my cat!

Monday, 25 March 2013

DS and Homework


DS and his homework do not have a happy working relationship.  It is, however, very predictable.  Yesterday it was the time of the spellings.

Stage One - DS utterly rejects any notion that he needs to do his homework.

Stage Two - DS denounces the horror and complications of doing homework and how it is far too difficult

Stage Three - Ds announces he is far, far too exhausted to do homework.  In fact he is far too exhausted to do anything except play on the computer

Stage Four - DS bewails his fate and is incapable of finding a pencil, rubber or the Famous Grouse tin that they live in, the one that is actually eighteen inches from his face

Stage Five - DS is in far too much pain from aching leg/arm/head to do the homework or anything except play computer games

Stages One to Five usually take about half an hour.

Stage Six - DS copies out the half dozen words he is supposed to, and this typically takes less than five minutes.  In the school test he gets 100%



Today was the 'Write Five Sentences Using Capital Letters and Full Stops' Day.  As predicted there was a wailing and a gnashing of teeth.  We went through Stages One to Five quite quickly for once.  Then we had to decide the wondrous Five Sentences that DS's teacher was going to be blessed with.  I started the ball rolling and suggested that he write a sentence about the weather.  We settled on, 'The weather is very cold.'  It starts with a capital letter.  It ends with a full stop.  It is absolutely obvious.  And, really importantly, it is only five words long.  Then bear took over the inspiration.  So his lovely teacher will read that the weather is cold, weeping angels in Doctor Who send people back in time and that to do anything in Minecraft you need to start by getting some wood - all using a lot more words than I would have suggested.

Still, he is doing his homework and that's what counts.  I just hope that I spelled 'indestructible' correctly when he asked.  Memo to self, we need a spelling dictionary.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Nature Notes

A few years ago I bought one of those diaries that weren't specific to a year.  They had a date like March 15th but no day of the week or year.  The plan was that I would make notes in there of when I observed stuff in nature like the first time I really noticed the leaves turning or the first really warm day.  Then over the years I could leaf through and look at the dates and see what flowers were out and what was around, especially the wild flowers which sometimes have a shorter season.  I have absolutely no idea where that is but I may dig it out or create an electronic alternative.

I remembered that this morning as I noticed forsythia starting to bloom for the first time this morning.  Even without the diary I knew that it was around a month later than it was last year.  This time last year we were knee deep in dandelions and early blossom.  At the moment it is looking far more like January than March through my window.  Of course, this time last year many parts of the UK were under drought warnings.  Now we are all under flood warnings.

It does beg the question - if I am describing a natural scene in a temperate environment, how do I know what is going to be there?  I am currently writing about June, at the time when Wimbledon normally starts.  A huge, overgrown privet that is now tree sized is normally in bloom at this time and the scent is very distinctive when I go and fetch my father's paper.  Last year it was almost a month late as the awful wet and gloomy weather had begun.

I am currently relying on wikipedia.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

A Note from School

I have six working days to get a wig/coloured hairspray/facepaint sorted out for bear for Comic Relief Day. 

DS, who is six, has very clearly and firmly indicated that he would prefer face paint.  That is fine with me on one level.  On another level - I don't know how to paint his face!  I am the person who can't draw stick figures.  I cannot, absolutely cannot draw.  I have the artistic ability of evil cat.  Actually, I have less. 

So he will be going in non uniform clothes which will at least spare his good uniform white shirts from getting covered in face paint.  And I will have to work something out about face paint.  Not only will I have to work out what to do with his face and practice how to do it, but I shall also have to paint his face first thing in the morning when I am not actually conscious before 10am.  Sandwiches are done on autopilot. 

And I can pay £1 for the privilege as a 'voluntary' donation.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Read an Ebook Week

Read an Ebook Week kicks off at Smashwords.com next week - linky here.

I have registered for Cats in the Bible to be free that week, so if you haven't read the stories, then now might be a good time to pick it up.  And if you have read all I have put up so far, it is still worth looking at Smashwords.  They are a great publisher and have a really wide range of stuff.  Now is as good a time as any to pick up a free or inexpensive ebook.

Just to add, if you are new to the idea of ebooks, Smashwords is a great place to register as a first stop.  You can get apps or programmes to use on a pc or smartphone to read a book and Smashwords has books compatible with Kobo, sony, Apple and Kindle.  You can download books as text or as a pdf.  It is really, really easy to get inexpensive books to read on the device that connects to the internet.

They also make it extremely easy to give the books as gifts, though I think the recipient needs to be registered as well.  There has been a hiccup or two when I've tried it, but I am sure nothing that can't be worked out.

Spread the word - good books at Smashwords!


Do your bit for Bees


I stumbled onto this site here which is run by the Friends of the Earth, Do Your Bit for Bees.

Our bees are still there.  I saw them hovering around a week ago despite the cold.  I don't know why they are out so early as there is a shortage of flowers around, but hopefully they know what they are doing.



The thing about having a colony of bees in the chimney is that they actually don't cause any trouble.  We don't have a fire in the hearth under the chimney, and when they installed the new gas fire the smoke test was unaffected.  The bees aren't blocking fumes and presumably are unaffected.  Obviously they do benefit from the warmth which may be drifting up there, and the fact that it is on a south facing slope.  And that there is a lot of waste land around full of plants.  And some gardens around here have flowers (some don't!).  And there is farmland, and some attempts at woodland.  There is also a lot of factory/warehouse type places that have lots of buddleia growing around the edges which are heaven for bees and butterflies.  I live in a bit of a hodge podge area, and it does have its benefits.

The bees have been around for years, and have never been any bother.  They have hardly been in the house over the years.  They haven't stung anyone to my knowledge.  They keep themselves to themselves and all is fine.  I do get a bit stressed if they swarm, but that isn't common and they haven't caused any trouble then either.

I am wondering about buying some bee-friendly seeds.  They can't go in the garden.  Darling father has Views about what goes in the garden and while it does include some very bee friendly stuff, no-one had better mess with his roses.  I could scatter them on the wasteland and hope the local starlings and sparrows don't get them, and it would make it a lot prettier.  As I haven't done much to look after the bees so far perhaps I ought to make an effort.

I just wish I got some honey out of it.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Interesting thoughts

I published a novel by accident.  I had it on a site and someone asked to buy the rights. I was hugely flattered and I did consider it very seriously but decided that I would have a go at publishing myself.  So last May I had a go at Kindle - which is free and extremely easy to use.

Then I heard about Smashwords.  As a former legal secretary the formatting held less terrors for me than many, though I did use quite a few rude words.  That is how I got a free ISBN.  I think I may have sold a few books through places like sony ebooks as Smashwords distribute there, but I'm not sure.  I will find out in the fullness of time but I am concentrating on the sequel to the Forgotten Village.  It would be nice, but I'll worry later.  I also managed to pull together some cat stories, so there is also Cats in the Bible cluttering up virtual shelves.

So there I am with two titles available in online stores that are all respectable and proper and it is looking possible that I may actually be an author, all more or less by accident.  I am coming to terms with this, and that I could treat being an author as a serious business.

Now I find out that there is a possibility of me having a website for free.  As in, it would be all branded and quite stripped down, but it would be a website and I wouldn't have to pay for it.  I've had a look on Moonfruit.com and all sorts of things are possible.  It all looks easy, and straightforward and professional and I could put up free to read short stories, there is even a possibility of merchandise, though what I could put there is anyone's guess.  If I got very slick and earned enough I could upgrade to some of the paid for versions that look very nice indeed.

I am having a dither because having a website is what professional authors have.  But I am technically a professional author and I have even registered as self employed.  And it would take a lot of keeping up.  But what else am I doing?  Well, writing the sequel to the Forgotten Village...

I will be putting the website up in the next few months.  As for the sequel to The Forgotten Village, it's called 'Digging up the Past' and it is what happens when a televised archaeological dig comes to a Village where werewolves and vampires have been living openly for centuries.  After all, what could go wrong?

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Smoke finally got me!


I've had plenty of cat scratches in my time.  I was first 'blessed' with a cat on 6 November 1990 and there are times you learn the hard way.

I have come to know and loathe the thin, itchy, sore scratches that meant that the cat in question didn't want to be picked up, thank you so much, not did the creature want to be stroked there, thank you so much.  I have had the network of scratches all over my chest from being used as a combination of cat bed and launching pad.

Shadow managed some serious scratches in her time.  Smudge wasn't too bad, despite his massive talons.  Up until now, however, Smoke hasn't done too much damage.  Normally she would bite and hiss.  The few scratches that ds has picked up along the way have all been hair thin (though some of those type of scratches can really sting).  Even with the untrimmed claws I have just had a bit of a puncture pattern from her habit of climbing up my north face and sleeping across my throat.  However today Smoke scored a serious hit.

I had just had a bath and my legs were bare.  Smoke jumped down, landed on my leg by accident (blind as a bat), her untrimmed claws sunk in and so for the last ten minutes I have been mopping up running blood.  I am unimpressed.  It has slowed down, obviously, or I wouldn't be typing this, but I have still managed to make a nice pile of blood soaked tissues.

Smoke is now begging, slowly and creakily, for treats.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Not enough time

There is not enough time - and I am held back because I have a tabby fighting me for the keyboard.  But how many ideas for stories are there out there!  There is a story on the BBC website here which tells of an old house where they have found a room with no windows and no doors - they only found it when they were putting in internet.

Was it for a priest during the days of the persecution of Catholics?  Possibly not, it seems a bit late though I am not an expert.  Was it for a mad wife?  A disobedient child?  Was it for forbidden treasure or was someone hoping to conjure Mephistopheles?

Sigh.  Too many stories out there to write.

Hello!

I have been known to do the ego trip of googling 'Lyssa Medana' and seeing what comes up.  It's the usual places, and I don't mind.  Publishing two unadvertised books since May last is not going to make me into an internet sensation.

I have found my pen name in some odd places, but none that I minded.  However can I just say that the stuff that I have written is likely to be at it's cheapest at Smashwords, and I get the biggest cut there.  Other places sell it at around the same price, like the Sony ebook store and Kobo, and I think Diesel.  If you are happy shopping there, that's great.

I have found stuff elsewhere slightly more expensive, and I wouldn't get a bigger cut.  If that suits you, then that's fine, but I thought it worth giving a heads up.

As far as I can tell, less than a year in, I'm not likely to get rich from writing.  And I'm okay with that as well.  I like writing.  So far my royalties probably haven't covered the cost of electric for the  computer but who knows.  Smashwords give me a really generous cut of what they get.  I am grateful that anyone has paid for my stuff.  If you are going to give me the kindness of paying for what I write, the least I can do is point you in the direction where you pay the least.

And thank you for reading my stuff.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Smoke is sulking


Smoke has always had a bad habit of standing to scratch.  She looks like a small terrier when she does that, to a chorus of 'sit down to scratch!'  She really does give the dignity and elegance of cats a bad name.

She just tried to scratch her ear with her hind leg, standing as usual, misjudged and fell over.

I laughed like a drain, so she is sitting across my throat again, leaking smells and I am hoping my touch typing survives typing around a very cross tabby.  She will forget very soon though, or rather, she will know she is sulking but can't remember why.  In some cats of nearly nineteen it could be a sign of senility, but not Smoke.  She's always been like this.  If she did go senile we would never notice.  She may have gone senile already.  She can still manage to steal from an unattended plate.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Feline fed up

If the local cats don't stop their love-in soon I am going to be reaching for a bucket of water!

(and yes, I will feel guilty when faced with a soggy moggy, but really, you couldn't write what is going on in a family show.  Cats have no shame, or volume control)

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

So much material...

One of our local museums (we are blessed here) will be having an exhibition on lucky objects.  Their promotional email said, 

'Explore popular beliefs and rituals, attitudes to risk, gambling and games of chance at this new exhibition. Unusual objects range from Ancient Egyptian amulets, lucky horse shoes and Ouija boards to lottery tickets and furry dice.'

It's a story waiting to happen, isn't it, really.  I mean, what if some of them really are magical?  what if they interact?  What if a mad scientist has finally identified the artefact that actually works but it all goes horribly wrong?  I've got to write it.  Just after the other twenty plus ideas I have cued up.  

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

I like a challenge

I have just reached a pivotal moment in Digging up the Past, a scene which the whole of the story hinges on.  I am really keen to crack on with it, there are a lot of details I need to get just right, I can barely tear myself away from it.

Of course, it is made easier to break off by the massive amount of building work they are doing in the house behind which sounds like they have knocked down more walls than are actually in the building.  Ds is also poorly and I am putting in a lot of miles as a result.  I don't begrudge ds, and I just hope that after the building work we get nice neighbours, but really, timing is everything!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Getting used to things

I am now on a 'new to me' laptop and I miss my mouse!!!!!  Sorry for the exclamation marks, there, but I really am at least five exclamation marks stressed by no mouse.  I also am finding the keyboard layout a bit of a trial.  When you use backspace as much as I do, and it moves, you are challenged.

The other interesting thing is watching the shortcuts on my toolbar grow.  Obviously I have BBC news and hotmail.  I have a few fragments to show I am trying to be a proper author and put up interesting things on facebook and twitter.  I don't actually have much to say that is worth putting on facebook and twitter but I am at least making a token effort.  There is the Amazon self publishing home page, and Smashwords (I love Smashwords) and Goodreads.  I have Wikipedia up there, as I am always looking for information - like how to make a mickey finn and whether I could get the ingredients on ebay.

But speaking of ebay, it is the shopping that is spreading slowly but surely along the toolbar. All those lovely links to cut price shopping.  I am considering hiding those as I am doing far too much shopping as it is.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Smoke has a nice fight

The vet has been.  Smoke is very thin (this is really obvious),  more or less stable (physically perhaps, not mentally) and is doing 'okay'.

After Smoke put up firm resistance to the examination, the vet declined to either get a blood sample to see how her kidneys had deteriorated or clip her claws.  Smoke's claws are a hazard to everyone at the moment, but the vet thought it would distress her too much to be held and clipped.  Just trying to get a look at her teeth had been quite a challenge.  The poor old cat didn't manage to draw blood though, she is really feeling her age.

The dosage recommendation is for a cat of 1kg.  This may be overestimating her weight.  There is nothing to her, I am scared to pick her up in case I hurt her.  This is a recent thing.  When she was younger I had no hesitation in lifting and dropping when necessary.

The vet thought that she may be around for a few months only.  I think it was this time last year that a vet first said that.  I expect I shall still be bullied by Smoke next Christmas, and possibly the Christmas after.

 Smoke is now sulking in front of the fire, feeling very sorry for herself.  Long may she continue to be a hazard. 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A New Cover!

Tom (Thomas Marlowe) has kindly designed an amazing, exactly what I want, brilliant cover for the next book.

All I need to do now is write something that lives up to it!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Bible quotes

It's amazing how you can find the Word in all sorts of contexts...

I am not sure who originally posted this, as it is in a few places on the net - but that is such a brave, or very stupid cat. 

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Getting giddy

I've not sold many books through Amazon to date - and I am very grateful to anyone who has bought one.  I put stuff up through Smashwords, and I have sold half a dozen there - and I am just as grateful.  However I have only just realised that I may have sold books elsewhere.  It has taken a few months for the penny to drop that Smashwords do distribute to places like Kobo and Sony and if some have been sold there, then they may not immediately show.  I have always been a bit rubbish at actually getting things like this.  It is not a useful character trait.

So I went on a bit of an ego trip, and I had a rummage in some of the places that Smashwords distribute to, and found that in the category of contemporary fantasy priced at 99c I am approximately (too giddy to remember the actual numbers) 250 out of 450 in 'bestselling' order.

It is a bit hard to grasp.  I mean, people out there who I don't know may have bought a book.  This is taking it out of the literary equivalent of tupperware, selling to family and friends, and into a scary place.  And I don't know how many yet I've sold.  I am guessing around six or so, which is a big deal for me, a big step out into a scary world. 

According to Smashwords refreshingly open t&cs I should be updated at the end of January.  Today is the 19th January.  I have twelve days to go.  I shall be a wreck by the end of this.  I could have it all wrong, there may be no sales (and I will be devastated now, rather than all accepting as I was before I looked), but if there is more than six it will be equally shocking - and mean that I have to be a bit more serious about my writing.

Watch this space for self indulgent stressing!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Lady Dinah's Emporium

According to the BBC someone in London is opening a cafe where you can go and get a coffee and cuddle a cat.  It is for those who cannot have pets but have a deep, deep yearning to stroke something feline.  The news story is here and it isn't even 1st April!  Apparently they are going to have segregated areas so the cats are not in the food area, due to hygiene regulations.  Two things occurred to me when I read that.  The first point was that someone has obviously never had to keep a cat out of a place that they wanted to get into.  The second thing was that the sort of person who wants to go into a cat cafe is likely to have a calm attitude to cat hair as a garnish. 

Last night DH watched, laughing helplessly, as I tried to pour a glass of diet coke while Smoke was sitting across my throat and objecting to every arm movement.  First the paw stretched out lazily in front of the bottle, then the tail wafting and shedding over the glass, it was a masterclass in how a cat can interfere with a drink.  And they want to open a cafe.

All I can say to them is, 'Good luck!  You will need it!'

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Unwelcome insight

I think that the amount of organisation in a household is inversely proportionate to the number of books on organising, decluttering, getting organised, decluttering for ever and general housewifery. 

My shelves are heaving with the things and I still can't keep track. 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year's Resolutions

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to write 5000 words per day. 

Even if my count includes blog posts I haven't got within sight of the total.  I am looking at the silver lining here - it is a great incentive to write loads tomorrow to catch up. 

As for the other resolutions, least said, soonest mended!