Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bloody Brilliant!

OK, that's not the most well-thought-out review Bernita will ever get on her book but it's an honest one: this book is bloody brilliant!

It's an ebook, so although I was able to read it lounging back with my feet up I couldn't read it in bed. I still read it in a single day. I couldn't stop.

If you like Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong, you'll like this. Bernita has her own take on the paranormal and her own voice, which is simple and supple with occasional jolts as a word, phrase or simile grabs you.

Lillie, her main character, is very hard on herself. I did wonder how much Bernita had modelled the character on herself! At times I felt irritated when the main characters lapsed into distrust of each other once again or Lillie made a bad decision but these are nitpicks.  I can't wait for the next book.

This was not an ARC. I bought this book with my own money and it was worth every penny. You too can buy it here.

How to write a novel

See, it's simple really!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bernita's book launch party

Bernita's book launches tomorrow and I get to read it! Yay!

If you want to join in the fun, pop over to Bitten By Books for the launch party, which starts at 12.00 Central time (6pm UK time). If you RSVP today and then join in the party tomorrow, you get a chance to win some rather nice silver jewellery and an amazon gift card.

Bernita has been getting rave reviews. I can't wait.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Ever noticed anything missing when you buy a new book? How about the whole first chapter?

Penguin published a version of Lolita with the entire first chapter missing. Admittedly it's written as a foreward by someone named John Ray but the clue that this is part of the story is in the afterword, where Nabokov writes
After doing my impersonation of suave John Ray, the character in Lolita who pens the Foreward ...

See the post where I found this over at the bedside crow.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Finding my voice

picture thanks to
I think I'm finding my writing voice and it's weird. So far I have a surreal story about a new google application, a story about a travelling shower that starts, "She didn't mind arriving wet so much as always arriving naked", and a reworking of the Sleeping Beauty that is definitely not PG.

Oh well, at least I'm writing. Does what you write ever surprise you?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Free cyberpunk books

Thanks to Richard North for sending me the link to Rudy Rucker's Ware cyberpunk novels (Software, Wetware, Freeware, and Realware). They're available free online as a single download under a Creative Commons licence.

Oh Sony ebook reader, where are you? Christmas is a long way off.

I now officially have too many books to read. That won't last long!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Writing competition

Spilling Ink Review has some competitions on offer which you have to pay to enter. The one that appeals to me is the Microfiction competition - entries have to be under 300 words. I can do that!

That one ends on 30th June, but there's a Short Story competition ending on 31st August, Flash Fiction/Prose Poetry ends 31st October and Creative Non-Fiction ends 31st January next year.

I've never entered a competition where you have to pay to enter before but I'm thinking of giving it a go. Have you ever done that?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What are you listening to?

I follow Bo's Café Life every day. It may not be obvious from today's cartoon but the speakers are writers and there are a lot of jokes about manuscripts, rejections and editors. The byline is
The writing life through the eyes of Bo, an aspiring novelist.
It always makes me smile.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Summer Solstice!

Summer solstice sunrise at Stonehenge, June 21, 2005. 

To everyone who celebrates the solstice: have a happpy day!

And if you don't celebrate the solstice, have a happy day anyway!

I can hardly believe that this is the most daylight we're going to get. It's bittersweet for me because I like the long days.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Annihilating all that's made

To a green thought in a green shade.*

We went to Claremont Landscape Garden today and wandered through the rhododendrons. We are so lucky having so much greenery so near to us.

It was just the place to have a Sunday afternoon snooze under the trees.

So we did.

*Andrew Marvell, The Garden.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Overheard at the station

A young woman walked past wearing orange trousers with the word PINK appliquéd across the seat in huge, blue letters.

A watching woman elbowed her companion and said
That's unusual.
He replied
And it wobbles.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I know it's advertising but...

...how do you fancy having a hot English guy reading you a bedtime story? Well, OK, a coffee break story but I can dream.

Carte Noire have a deal with Penguin books to try to sell more coffee and books by promoting the idea of a quality coffee break. They have Joseph Fiennes, Greg Wise, Dominic West, and Dan Stevens reading extracts from a number of different books. There really is quite a selection.

I'm currently enjoying Dominic West reading The Moment You Were Gone by Nicci Gerrard; it's a fifteen minute extract. Does anyone else want to sit back and enjoy with me?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What could be better...

...than a good book and chocolate to nibble on? I've just received a parcel from the wonderful Steph (aka maybegenius) who ran a competition a few weeks ago. I was lucky enough to be picked out of a hat (well, my name was, I didn't actually get into the hat myself) and she posted these goodies to me all the way from the States at great personal expense. (I'm not joking. International postage is dear!)

The Powerberries are chocolate-covered fruit juice pieces. They're super-delicious and they claim to be good for me because they're full of flavanol antioxidants and vitamin C. I choose to believe them. They are certainly moreish and I'm going to have to have trouble remembering that a sixth of a pack is a serving. You mean I can't count the whole pack as one serving? Oops!

Thank you so much, Steph!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Help me win a book?

Like I need more books, but still. Jjdebenedictus is having a competition to win books, and one way to win is to get five people to comment on her blog who have never commented before. So, if you've never been over to Oxygen, or never commented there, and you pop across and leave a comment mentioning that I sent you, you'll give me the chance to win one of the prizes.

Of course, you're free to enter too and you don't necessarily have to refer people. You could write a poem instead, or link to The Writer's Weigh Scale on two writer's forums or blogs.

Jjbenedictus makes the badges for McKoala and she recently produced a wonderful label for Peter Dudley's Old & Peculiar Ale. So even if you don't feel like leaving a comment, her blog is worth a visit.

Edited to add: You wonderful people have already won me a prize! But do feel free to pop over anyway. It's a blog worth following.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Domestic gods and goddesses

Kevin Musgrove shares his reflections about his attempts to become a domestic god over in his blog Commonplaces.

It's very funny.  I know that some of you that read this are domestic gods and goddesses. I'm one of the other sort.

And anyway, life's too short to spend on housework. So why not read Kevin's blog instead?

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Today ten people in our local area opened their gardens to the public in aid of a local hospice. For £5 we not only got to look at all the gardens we also had a cream tea. It was wonderful.

A woman I met said, "We English are good at coming out for two things, one is the trooping of the colour and the other is to look at gardens." I'm not so sure about the trooping of the colour, I've always thought that was for tourists, but gardens are another matter entirely.

I didn't like to take photos of their gardens, so these pictures are of our garden.

I enjoyed seeing what other people had planted. Now I want to get some foxgloves and some daisies. I've always loved daisies.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bionic hearing

I now have two hearing aids from our wonderful National Health Service and I can hear again! (Watch it when you're in the kitchen, kids*, Mum can hear you!) Before I only had one and it needed updating, plus my other ear had joined in the strike.

It's not that I'm deaf, not really. Without my aids I can hear cars and aeroplanes and the chink of ice in a glass; I can hear that people are talking and whether they are happy or angry. All I can't hear is what they're actually saying.

But no longer! Watch out world, here I come!

My other superpowers include eyes in the back of the head, reading, and being solar-powered. What about you?

*My kids are 24 and 26. They're still my kids.

Addictive word game

I've found this addictive new word game called KaBauble. You get tiles consisting of four letters to arrange on a grid, then you use the letters to spell out words. It's a bit like a cross between Tetris, Scrabble and Word Search, except that you can change direction as you spell out a word.

It's worth a look.

(Oh, and I cheated by taking a picture early in the day before the real competition came into the game. I ended up seventeenth!)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Do I need an ebook reader?

I've just bought Bernita's book Dark and Disorderly. I'm going to have to wait to be able to read it because it's not published yet but that's just the start of my problems. I don't have an ebook reader so I'm going to have to read it on my laptop, or rather my Beloved's huge 19" widescreen laptop that's really a "luggable", so I can't take it to bed with me. Maybe that's just as well, though. I gather the book is scary!

I wish Bernita could persuade Carina Press to go into print but that's not likely to happen. It's highlighted the problem I'm having, that there are so many good books available to read online and reading them on a laptop just isn't the same as sitting on the settee with my feet up.

One problem is that there are so many ebook readers to choose from and I don't want to end up with the equivalent of a Betamax. Then I'm not sure that my favourite authors are available in ebook format or at least not at a price that I'm willing to pay. The paperback of Tanya Huff's latest book The Enchantment Emporium cost me under a £5, but as an ebook it would cost nearly £8, partly because it's available in the US and the dollar to pound rate doesn't favour the UK at the moment.

It's all very confusing. I know some of you have ebook readers that you're very happy with so maybe you'd like to let us know how you get on with them. And if you don't have an ebook, then I'd love to know what you think too.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Look over there

Do you follow Simon C. Larter? If not you may want to pop over to his blog Constant Revisions and read a very funny post about the Blogging Cycle.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The voice thingie

You'll notice my masterful command of the English language in the post title. It can only get better.

Pacatrue has started us on a round of blog voice thingies and mine is below. For a full list of participants you can go here.

This is mine. It's a bit hissy and a bit rushed. I'll have to rely on my English accent to woo you! (Not so effective with other English people, sadly.)

[edited to add: I've just found out that I didn't have the mike plugged in. No wonder it was hissy! Here's a cleaner version. The old one is at the end in case you want to know what the original commenters heard.)

Here's the text of the story if you want to follow along:

The small shop was full of customers poking around in the mixed nuts and searching for vitamins on the long shelves. Tracy was on her own again and she was struggling to serve the long queue of customers when a young lad in a hoodie came in. He went straight to the shop’s one blind spot and soon after there was a loud crash.

Tracy sighed and ducked under the counter. The middle-aged man whose pile of body-building tubs was still only half rung up tapped his fingers loudly on the counter. A woman at the back of the line frowned into the biscuit aisle with pursed lips.

It was always like this when the manager left early. Only last week Tracy had found a young boy stuffing sugar free sweets into his pockets. The security guard had let him off with a warning and banned him from the shop but Tracy would have prosecuted him if she’d had her way. Young people today were all the same.

At the back of the shop, she found the youth bending over with his hand on the neck of an elderly woman who was lying in a heap on the floor. Tracy could feel her heart thumping. Surely not a mugging this time. She couldn’t see a knife but still. Her voice squeaked as she asked, “What do you think you’re doing?”

“She’s got a pulse,” the boy said, “I think she’s just fainted. We ought to loosen her clothing.” He flushed and moved back slightly. Not a mugger then but a rescuer and a shy one at that.

“I’ll open her collar,” Tracy said. “You call the ambulance.” Maybe there was hope for the younger generation after all.

Original version

Friday, June 04, 2010

Coming soon

Bernita has an extract of the beginning of her book on her blog and you really need to go over there and read it.

I love her clear, simple writing style and I love her unaffected modesty about getting published.

I can't wait to read the rest of her book when it's released.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Words as pictures

I thought this video was rather fun. The pace is a bit off in places but it's worth waiting it out. You may spot a friend too - although only briefly.

words from jacques khouri on Vimeo.
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