Saturday, July 31, 2010

Thank you OxyJen!

You may remember that I asked you to help me win some books, and lots of you did! Today the books arrived, all the way from Canada.

So, many thanks to Jen for the competition and for posting them to me. I'm hoping for some sunny days so I can lounge in my new garden hammock and eat chocolate and read them. (Sunshine is optional. Chocolate isn't.)

I'm not sure all the books were claimed. There may still be scope for more of you to join in and get your share of the goodies! So if you haven't been to Oxygen, why not pop over there now?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A scarcity of cats

It has to be time for some cat pictures but the cats aren't very obliging at this time of year. Rufus vanishes first thing in the morning and only reappears when it's time for dinner. He's out hunting, and despite wearing two bells managed to bring in a baby pigeon the other day. I didn't get pictures of that, I was too busy running it to the local Wildlife Sanctuary. Damn cat.

But at night, he likes to stretch out in his hammock.

He seems to feel safe there. Presumably because Bonnie keeps away from him. Whereas when he sprawls out on a chair

he's likely to get unwelcome attention from his sister.

I just hope his hunting is unsuccessful today.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Forties Club

I'm in the Forties Club* over at Clarity of Night and I'm reeling from shock. I used my real name and my story is here.

*The Forties Club is people who score 40 or more out of the 45 points Jason awards for stories.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Shoes

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies had an intriguing writing prompt over at Who Said Pixies Are Rational Creatures? We were invited to write 100 words  or less on the picture of pretty pink shoes. It was meant to be called "If a pixie's shoes could talk" but I rather went off-message. This is what I wrote:
New Shoes
So pink. So pretty. So demure. Lucy looked at her new shoes and smiled.
They reminded her of dancing class. Always at the back, never quite keeping up, and suffering the frowns and sighs of the other parents when they came to pick their children up but she'd loved it for the colours and textures of the costumes.
Now her gawkiness had gone. White lace outlined rounded calves and her hands on her satin bodice slid over curves. 
Once the surgery was over no one would ever call her "Craig" again.
Someone at WriteWords suggested that I could have submitted to EveryDay Fiction if it hadn't appeared on a blog. I'm still not getting my head round the idea of submitting stories, even though I've started doing it.

By the way, Sha'el's blog is worth a visit. It has amazing vintage photos, articles on research, and pixies. Why not take a look?

Monday, July 26, 2010


Ten of the Enid Blyton Famous Five books are to have their language updated to be easier to read for today's children, according to an article in the Guardian.
"housemistress" becoming "teacher", "awful swotter" becoming "bookworm", "mother and father" becoming "mum and dad", "school tunic" becoming "uniform" and Dick's comment that "she must be jolly lonely all by herself" being changed to "she must get lonely all by herself".
I'm torn. It's true that language changes and those translations make a lot of sense to me, yet how do you signal that the culture of the books is archaic without the language to clue you in? Or are today's kids savvy enough to understand that times were different then without the linguistic clues?

What do you think?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

don't worry be happy

Photo by Sarah G
Creative Commons
some rights reserved
After halving the frequency of my vitamin B12 injections to "see how I go" the CFS clinic has now agreed that I can go back to having them weekly. So I should start feeling human again very soon! Yay!

I got the email from a nurse at the CFS clinic yesterday letting me know so I rang my doctor's surgery immediately to tell them, and a kind nurse checked with one of the doctors and managed to fit me in for an injection straight away. I took a copy of the email down to the surgery for their files.

Later when my GP arrived at the surgery I got an annoyed phone call from her saying that I shouldn't have been given the injection based on an email. The clinic should have faxed the letter to her and she is going to tell them so. I have a nasty feeling that two kind nurses are going to be in trouble for helping me out.

I could have done without the stress but at least I got the injection!

Friday, July 23, 2010

I told you I write short

So, The Rejectionist is having this uncontest, which I heard about through a very funny post by Simon C. Larter and I felt inspired.

The idea is that you post an essay (an essay?) on your blog and then put a link in today's comments over at The Rejectionist. You have the chance to win a prize that I suspect is as crappy as any of Whirl's crap, crap, crap prizes so that's not really the point. It just looked like fun.

The only snag is, the subject is "What Form Rejection Means to Me." So far I haven't submitted any stories anywhere, except for the one competition where I wasn't even shortlisted, so my experience of form rejections is nil. It's going to be a short essay. Here goes.

What Form Rejection Means to Me

It will mean that I've submitted a story.


That has to be the shortest essay ever.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Naked women reading

A naked woman reads books (presumably aloud) to a roomful of people.

The show is called Naked Girls Reading. I found the information in the Book Trade News Digest, which you can subscribe to here and there are more details in The Globe and Mail.

All I can think of is, "Why?"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Putting my feet up

I like to read with my feet up. I read Bernita's Dark & Disorderly sitting at my "laptop" in a comfortable chair with a footstool. The "laptop" is far too large, hot and heavy to put on a lap.

The settee is another favourite place to read. And in bed.

And now, I've got a new place.

I've bought myself a garden swing with some of the money I was left by my Mum. It's fabulous. I can lie back in luxury, gently swinging, and feel the wind in my hair as I read.

It reminds me so much of sitting hiding in a tree when I was sixteen, up above the world where I felt that no one could see me. It's where I read most of The Hunger Games. (The swing, not the tree.)

Where do you like to read?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Free book, free newsletter

Tim Hallinan is now producing an interesting and amusing monthly newsletter. Some of it is about his books - he's offering his first one free in Kindle format - and some of it is about writing generally. If you're interested,then you can email him at
  and ask to be put on his mailing list. (You'll have to type out his address - the link takes you to a site where you can get your own email images. Or you can go to his website and use his contact form.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hunger Games

I've just finished the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I read it through in one gulp today as I couldn't put it down.

I think it was Sarah who recommended it and it's Evil Editor's Book Chat Book for July. I thought it would be too violent and sad for me but the characters kept me reading. It had me in tears but I didn't feel manipulated as I often do with books that have me crying. (Usually that's a big turn off for me.)

My only quarrel is with the ending, because I hate trilogies that don't tie up enough ends in each book, but I've just ordered parts two and three from the library.

What if you don't got talent?

This is a post that some time ago I saved instead of publishing. So here it is now!

I've been reading Nicola Morgan's excellent blog and now I'm depressed. She has convinced me that as well as skill, hard work, perseverance, and intelligence you also need talent to write. Now I can do hard work etc. but how do I know if I've got talent or not? I could be like the 5' 11" teenager planning to be a ballet dancer when I grow up.

I know I say I'm not aiming at being published and in a sense it's true. I do dream about it though and the thought that it may be beyond me is a harsh one.

It's no good asking you lot if I've got talent - you're my friends! It's a bit like asking my Mum who always said "lovely darling". That's great, it's what Mums are for, but it doesn't answer the question.

And a little, tiny rebellious bit of me doesn't quite believe it anyway. Brain patterns change. People can learn and grow. Or is that like telling myself that I'll be playing clarinet in the Albert Hall one day, after starting at age 55 and practising for less than an hour a day?

What do you think?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Teh contest

Simon C. Larter has a competition for a book giveaway over at Constant Revision. I'm not going in for this one but the entry form is absolutely hilarious. You might want to go and take a look!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Proud parent

Yesterday my younger son graduated from University with a Physics degree. I am unbearably proud.

The ceremony was a struggle for me to sit through, except for the part where my son went up to shake hands with Penelope Keith, but the reception was lovely. We may be back next year with any luck, as he's going on to do a Masters in Nanotechnology.

My older son got his degree in Computer Science several years ago. I didn't have a blog then, so I want to say now that I'm unbearably proud of him too!

I'll spend the next few days recovering but it was worth it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Advice please?

You may have noticed that I've got new glasses. I rather like the frames but I'm having the devil of a job getting the lenses sorted and I'd value your advice.

The reason for getting new glasses was mostly that the old ones had darkened with age*. I was also hoping to be able to read books a bit nearer to my face again!

My experience so far has not been very good. I've been offered lenses that:

  1. were so bad for distance that I couldn't use them for driving
  2. were no better or worse than my old ones 
  3. that worked if I crooked my neck right down all the time 
  4. that work at all distances, but only if I lift them up on my nose for reading. They then get smeary from my eyelashes

My dilemma is: do I go back to lenses no. 2, which aren't a very good prescription but will work, or do I get my money back, go somewhere else, and have to start all over again? I feel like I'm being fussy but I'm sure I've had better glasses than this. Help!

*Photochromic lenses do that. No one warned me.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Minions in MonkeySpace

Neil, Whirl, Jane, Robin, Polenth, John

I'm not going to say that we met up "in real life" because online relationships are real too. Charles Stross in Halting State uses the phrase MonkeySpace for the place where we can see each other and hear each other and when we hug it's tee shirt to cardigan and not simply a kind thought.

It was wonderful to hear Whirl's amazing voice. He really does sound that good all the time! Polenth entertained us with tales of a pet cockroach, Robin made sure we got the best table in the place even though it meant moving three times, and Jane kept us laughing. My Beloved (Neil) and Robin's husband (John) performed essential support and paparazzi roles.

The minions: Robin, Whirl, Jane
Polenth, Gina (me)

I had to leave early as usual (stupid CFS). I thought Jane was telling me she was legless when she said she couldn't stand up but she was simply wedged between the bench and the table. I can't guarantee no one was legless by the end of the day.

Those of you who couldn't make it: we missed you. Maybe another time?

Edited to add:
Whirl's hysterical account of the event is here.
Jane's more accurate recounting is here.
Evil Editor has posted another photo here.
And Robin has a photo here.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Last weekend my Beloved and I went to Rye for our anniversary. It's one of the English south coast Cinque Ports, although five miles or so from the sea now, and very pretty indeed.

Ancient houses.

Historic plaques.

I seem to be trying to fly but without success.

Bodiam castle.

So that's what we did at the weekend. Feel free to add your own captions!
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