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?