Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Image by SurFeRGiRL30
I'm planning on a nice lazy day to recover from yesterday's kick-off party, followed by watching a romantic comedy with my Beloved while answering the door to local kids seeking treats. I love seeing all their costumes and handing out sweets.

Red wine may feature too. Diets are for wimps: I just buy bigger trousers. (I mistyped "bugger trousers" and maybe that's more like it.)

I hope you have a wonderful day today, however you spend it!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday Scene

Once again I nearly forgot to post my @SatScenes photo for today.

I love London. I wish I could visit it more often.


I had a wonderful time at the Nanowrimo London kick-off party today, meeting old friends and making new ones. It's a wonderful feeling meeting people you've already chatted to on Twitter. I can't believe how great all these people are!

And now I'm completely wiped. It was worth it though.

Clocks change and hot man uncovered

I've been asked do the UK clocks go forward or backward tomorrow and what does that mean anyway? This little video gives you the answer.

(I posted it last year but I think it's worth watching again. And again.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Haunting

If you've got a blog about writing, you might want to pop over to Theresa's Halloween Haunting, where you can:

Haunt blogs, find friends and critique buddies. It’s a great way to find blogs to follow and get more followers. And a chance to WIN PRIZES!

I'm not sure I need more blogs to follow just before Nano but it sounds like fun! Maybe I'll see you over there.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nano is coming!

Portrait of a Lady Blogging, after Vermeer
Image by Mike Licht

It's not long now till I start the very reasonable and sensible challenge that is NaNoWriMo. Oi, no sniggering you lot!

I've planned my "novel" up to a point and got stuck. I've looked for a laptop to take to write-ins and got stuck. I've tried to update my touch typing skills and guess what?

Now I'm in a sort of limbo waiting for it to happen.

With any luck I'll be well enough to make the London meetup this Saturday. I'm looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones - although "old" is a comparative term here. I think I'll be the oldest person there!

If I normally comment on your blog, you may find me missing for a month. (Can you find me if I'm missing? Who knows!) Although last year I found that the more I wrote on my NaNo, the more I wrote everywhere else.

I've won most years that I've done it but not all. I have no idea if I can make it this time so I'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Like a dragon on his hoard

No mud for Rufus today. Instead, he scuffled in the rubbish bin until he had a good haul of litter and now he's using it as a bed.

There's no understanding that cat.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Good start to the day

I don't believe in bathing cats. Not unless they really, really need it.

When Rufus came in today from his morning saunter, he hesitated before jumping up on my lap. "Poor little thing," I thought, "he's probably wet." I reached down to check and his underside was indeed wet. It was more than wet: it was thick with mud; he was covered in black sludge on his sides, belly and tail.

I tried rubbing it off with the cat towel but there was just too much. Rufus was grooming himself and then vomiting up the black ooze. "That can't be good for him," I thought, so it was bath time.

I'm so glad we have a downstairs loo. You can shut the door and even a very wet and angry cat can't escape. There was hissing, there was struggling, there was climbing up my shoulders and over my back. In the end he was mostly clean and most of the cat shampoo was rinsed off.

And I'm now up and showered early and the downstairs handbasin is squeaky clean. So it's not all bad, is it?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So cute!

from Nakisha
My ACEO cards that I ordered last Thursday have arrived and they're so cute! I've propped them up on my desk as you can probably see from the picture. (The originals don't have the copyright notice but I wanted to protect Nakisha's work.)

They're just adorable and it cheers me up to have them to look at.

Monday, October 18, 2010

No more sex?

Photo by kainr
The Guardian is claiming that sex is out of fashion in literary works. Now, I agree that it's very difficult to write well about sex and I've already talked about that here, here and here.

It's not that I've got anything against writing about sex in theory, it's just that in practice it can often end up sounding rather silly. I tend to take the same view as Hilary Mantel:
If you can make your reader's imagination work, that is much more powerful than saying, he put his hand here and she put her hand there. That just makes the reader think, are these people contortionists and could I get into that position?
If, as Martin Amis claims, it's impossible for a novelist to write about real sex, then that would let me off the hook. I'm not entirely convinced though. What do you think?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Today my Beloved and I met our younger son and his fiancée and went for a pub lunch. Afterwards we went for a stroll and met some goats, who were keen to eat grass from our hands. I'm not sure why, they had plenty of it under their feet.

They weren't nearly as impressive as the goats on jjdebenedictis' blog. Who knew goats could do that? Well, I didn't.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Where to get pictures for your blog

Lexi Revellian has written a helpful post over at BookBuzzr about How to Write a Popular Writing Blog.

One thing that struck me was
Use images – a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Google images is a good resource; aim for striking images that are relevant (it doesn’t have to be in an obvious way).

I've started using Flickr for most of my images because they have a huge Creative Commons section, and that way I know I'm not violating copyright.

When you go to Flickr, you'll see a set of links across the page giving drop-down menus. You want Explore/Creative Commons. You'll then be offered a variety of licenses, you can choose any of them and click on See More. That will take you to a page of images with a Search box at the top and now you can search Creative Commons pictures for anything you like.

I know that Old Kitty takes her own pictures of Charlie every day - and very photogenic he is too! Where do you go when you want pictures for your blog?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Better than chocolate?

Picture by Nakisha
So pretty!

I'm exhausted after too much driving the last two days; yesterday I had to take my son to the sleep apnoea clinic and back, and then I had to go back today to return the apparatus they'd strapped on him. He came home the first day all wired up and they even gave us a piece of paper with a police number on it to show that it was legitimate medical equipment and he isn't a terrorist! I'm so glad we weren't stopped.

So today I've been lolling around trying to recover (CFS really sucks) and I came across these wonderful pictures on Etsy and I treated myself. I also bought two ACEO cards with dear little rabbits huddled under quilts but those have to come by post.

Picture by Nakisha
Nakisha said I can use the images on my blog, so I may be posting more of them in the future. They're just so lovely. It's a less fattening way of cheering myself up than with chocolate.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Remix is out in paperback!

When I reviewed Remix back in August, several people commented that they'd like to read it in paperback. Well now you can! You can buy it on amazon, or direct from Lexi and she'll even sign it to whoever you want for only £7.99 including p&p if you live in the UK. Just look for the widget in her right hand column.

Oh, and she's giving away free bookmarks too!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All the good ones were taken

All The Good  Ones Were Taken has a very funny post today about the etiquette of books in pubs. Do pop over and see.

Omnivorous trees

There are a lot more amazing pictures of trees eating objects over at Imagine if trees moved fast enough to eat people...

I'm thinking SF again. (I've been informed that the term "Sci Fi" is so last century. Well how was I to know? I'm so last century myself!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

How to be more creative

Photo by
Do you want to be more creative? Then pretend to be a child. In a recent study it was found that
Individuals imagining themselves as children subsequently produced more original responses
So, there you have it. Out with the finger paints and away you go!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saturday Scene

I nearly forgot to post my @SatScenes picture for this week. I've set up a separate page for these photos.

It's not exactly Narnia, is it? Dusk comes early in Surrey in October.

Do you want a spreadsheet?

A couple of years ago I offered my Nano .xls word-count spreadsheet to anyone who wanted it. I've updated it with 2010 dates and the offer is again open, so if you want a copy just email me. All you have to do is to enter your your current word count and it tells you how much behind or ahead you are.

I like to update my wordcount as often as possible; I feel encouraged to see the numbers turning green when I hit a target. Little things...

Saturday, October 09, 2010

All alone

My Beloved left at 4am today for a tennis holiday in La Manga. I was invited but oh dear me no. I didn't even like tennis when I was well enough to play it!

Anyway, like last year I was awake at 3am while he was pottering around getting ready to go. That's not a good time to be awake, I tell you.

So now, I'm all on my own. Except for my son, his fiancée, two cats and the whole of the internet.

I'll be fine as soon as I stop being grumpy from lack of sleep.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Can you help me choose a laptop?

Image thanks to ICanHazCheezburger

I'm writing this on a large (18") laptop that is really my Beloved's. When the family pc got too slow for me to use I kind of took over his machine, which is wonderful but awfully heavy.

What I'd like is a small machine that I can take into other parts of the house. I want to be able to play on my laptop in the same room as my Beloved while he's watching cricket or football. I'd like to be able to read ebooks in bed. I might even take the machine to a write-in if I'm well enough.

The 13.3" machines look good because they're mostly small and light but have full size keyboards. Two of the contenders so far are the HP DM4-1050EA which  has a 14" screen but seems lightweight and to have reasonable battery life and the Samsung Q330 Notebook PC. I don't want to spend more than I have to, seeing that I'm not earning.

Some Twitter pals (Pewari and stacy_chambers) have already made great suggestions. The MacBook looks good but a bit too pricey for me. The iPad is also wonderful but I need a real keyboard.

Do you have any thoughts on particular machines, or things to look out for, or places to buy laptops in the UK?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Tips for NaNoWriMo

StoryADayInMay was asking for tips for Nano. These are mine.
  • Get as many ideas before you start as you can. You’re allowed to plan and plot and it’s easier if you do.
  • Write every day before you surf the net or whatever you do for fun. Write 2000 words. Don’t stop even when it’s rubbish.
  • Plan the next day’s writing while you’re out walking or cooking dinner.
  • Use a spreadsheet to keep track of your word count. (I have one I can email you if you like.)
  • Go to meetups. They’re fun!
  • Have fun!
Have you got any tips? 

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A Rainy Day in Surrey

My @SatScenes photo for today.


I've just signed up for NaNoWriMo again this year. I think the main reason is that I want an excuse to meet up with everyone in London again. (If I'm up to it, which isn't certain.)

This time last year I had a huge chunk of plot sorted out but now I just have a story idea and a couple of characters. Still, when has that ever stopped anyone?

I see Polenth has signed up. Will anyone else be doing it?

Friday, October 01, 2010

The end of banned books

It's the end of banned books week and I'm left feeling a bit bemused. Most of the books that count as "banned" were challenged in schools or libraries, usually unsuccessfully. A few of the books that were challenged were required reading in schools, and I have to say that forcing a child to read a book that is too adult for him or her seems rather cruel to me. As censorship goes, this isn't very successful.

Then you have the entirely different case of Operation Dark Heart. The author collaborated closely with the US Department of the Army in writing the book but this wasn't good enough. He was summoned to meet with the US Department of Defense, after which existing copies of the book were destroyed and a new version was produced with some of the information removed. The publishers claim that this isn't censorship and I'm left wondering what they think it is. But it was in the interests of national security so that's all right then.

I wonder if there are some books that should be banned, such as books inciting hatred or telling you how to make a bomb. My guess is that with the internet nothing can stay banned or secret for long but the Operation Dark Heart case suggests that some people at least think otherwise.
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