Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cats at Christmas

Rufus caught a bird yesterday and we found it rather messily dead on the kitchen floor. But to make up for it, I got a lovely card from the cats today.

The envelope said: TO OUR SERVANT NO 1

In case you can't read the dialogue:

Rufus: What's all this Christmas fuss about?
Bonnie: It's a time of goodwill to all cats and their servants. (Not mice.)
Bonnie: All I see is an empty dish.

Bonnie: Didn't we get the servants a present?
Rufus: Er Yea. I left it somewhere. I know, on the floor in the kitchen.

Mouse: I don't think I like Christmas very much.

I hope you're having a wonderful Christmas time. (If you're not, then you might like to go here: http://exmoorjane.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/if-christmas-suddenly-blindsides-you.html )

Best wishes to one and all!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Merry Advent!

From Tea with the Squash God
I hope you're all coping with the run-up to Christmas! I'm behind with my present-buying and card-writing and work is slightly insane at the moment; that's what you get when everyone is stressed out and the children are over-excited.

But other than that, everything's fine! What about you?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I did it!

I thought I'd given up at one point but somehow I could never bring myself to abandon the challenge completely. I think this might be my worst story yet but I'm sure there will be salvageable ideas in it.

My poor main characters are currently exploring a distant future and I think I ought to bring them back home before I call it quits.

I grew to like some of my main characters, although the Dad (sorry, I mean Papa because he's French) was a bit of a grumpuss and I wish I knew why my very main character was shying away from any sort of relationship.

Anyway, it's done. Now I can do all those things that I've not been getting around to, like Spanish homework and Christmas shopping.

Oh, and if you want a book that is actually a good read, I'm still recommending Ice Diaries by Lexi because that book has stayed in my mind ever since I read it. I know it will be high on my re-read list when I get my Christmas present, which this year is going to be a Kindle. Yay, Kindle!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Random Penguin


Okay, now I've done it. I've included a random penguin and a crocheted chicken suit in my Nanomuddle.

I was doing so well the first eight days then I ran out of plot. It's been an uphill struggle since then and I'm getting desperate.

Oddly enough, I kind of expected this. I know that I always get to a stage where I have nothing left to write and have to pull ideas out of the air. I was hoping that inspiration would hit and that something good would arise out of the randomness, as happened to Erin Morganstern with The Night Circus.

I obviously thought about that too much because I ended up with a travelling circus in my story.

And although I'm not writing fanfiction, I'm sure my debt to Star Trek, Dr Who and Lexi Revellian is showing.

I'm also collecting characters as I go along. At this rate I'll have a cast of thousands which is not easy when you're trying to work out who should be talking in a scene.

Still, it beats worrying about what we're going to do for Christmas.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ice Diaries

Ice Diaries came out this week. It's the latest book by Lexi Revellian and I loved it. She just goes on getting better which I wouldn't have thought was possible.

Tori is stranded in an England covered up to 20m deep in snow; can she find her way south to warmer climes?

There's a great cast of characters and I was so drawn into the story that I was surprised to look up from the book and see autumn leaves instead of snow! I recommend it.

If you pop over to Lexi's website you can read the beginning of the book for free as a taster. I admit I didn't bother; after Lexi's previous books I went straight to amazon as soon as I saw it was out.

Only two problems:

1. I nearly put the book aside in the middle when it became too tense.

2. I should have been writing my Nanonovel instead of reading a whole book in two days.

Meh. It was worth it!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

On the first day of Nano

I've written 2000 words.

It always surprises me how tired I feel afterwards! I need to write 1786 words a day if I want to get to 50k by the end of November, allowing for two days off. Because I do have a life, and I've got a brilliant day of skating and Christmas treats planned thanks to where my Beloved works.

The first day or so is usually the easiest as I use up all the story I've already worked out. I wonder how long it will be till I run out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Space opera and Georgette Heyer

How can it have taken me so long to find the Vorkosigan saga?

This science fiction series was started in the 80s. Mind you, I was a bit busy in the 80s what with having babies and all.  I still find it hard to realise that it's been available all these years and I've only just discovered it!

For those of you who haven't discovered it yet: Lois McMaster Bujold has written a series that is pure space opera in the early books, with a Georgette Heyer type romance later in the series, and some murder mysteries. All set in the future.

I love her world; I love her main character; and in the last few months I've read nine or ten of the books. I can't get enough. This is addiction at its worst but at least it's non-fattening.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


chicken suit

A lot of Nanowrimoers have friends who don't understand why they would want to do such a strange thing as to try to write a novel in a month unless there's some big prize at the end of it.

For me, it's like running a marathon. You have the professional athletes who aim to do it in less than three hours as part of their training and other people who train for months or years just to be able to say that they've run it at all.

And me? I'm the one in the chicken suit. I don't take it seriously, I'm not aiming at turning professional, so I might as well have fun along the way; but boy what a major achievement if I get 50k words written in a month.

If you're doing Nano this year, what's your reason for doing it?

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Getting ready for Nanowrimo

My word-count spreadsheet is all ready with this year's dates; the widget is up on the blog; and I've set up a folder in my Dropbox account. I've saved my link to Written? Kitten! and I've got plenty of chocolate to reward myself. Is there anything I've forgotten?

Oh yes. Plan my novel.

Well, I've got three whole weeks to do that in.


By the way, the wordcount spreadsheet is available by email if anyone wants one. It may be my greatest success of Nano.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Too cute for words!

It's the run-up to Nanowrimo and I've discovered Written? Kitten!

Previously I'd seen Write or Die but Written? Kitten! is a far better incentive. For every 100 words you type you get a new picture of a cute kitten.

I think it could make me positively verbose! Who can resist the lure of a kitten?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A discovery

I met Sarah Wynde in the comment trail over on Lexi Revellian's blog. She was explaining her views on fan fiction and sounded like someone I'd like to know, so I visited her blog. And found her self-published novels. And discovered that they are delightful.

A Gift of Ghosts is a paranormal love story written in a fresh, lively style. It's an easy read and light-hearted despite a plot that touches on drug overdose and suicide. I felt amused and entertained the whole way through. The plot builds to a crescendo and although the ending wasn't a surprise it was entirely satisfying.

I liked the gradual uncovering of the rules for the paranormal in this universe and the way that they seem to have an inner consistency, even if we don't know everything yet. The main character's struggles to make sense of her experiences of the paranormal within her scientific worldview were fun too.

There are three novels in the series. I'm about to start reading number two!

Full disclosure: I didn't pay for books one or two. I intend to buy book three!

Friday, September 21, 2012

It's slow but we'll get there

It's hard to believe that an agent would turn down a book because the main character was gay but at least the story has a happy ending: Viking (a Penguin imprint) has taken on the book and it will be published in two years time. Without 'straightening' the main characters, as the agent is supposed to have requested.

The story is here.

And on a similar note, next Sunday is Bisexual Visibility Day, at least it will be in London! People are meeting at the Mad Hatter pub, where I often meet with Nano friends. If you live near Southwark, you might want to pop along.

Whether we're straight, gay, bi, or anything else at all, we can support each other's right to be treated fairly and with respect. This picture from Richard's Facebook page says it for me:


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What to do when you're bored

A naughty insect bit me a couple of weeks ago and this weekend my leg reacted as if it had been burned, turning bright red and blistering. The picture here (not for the faint-hearted!) is of my leg after the antibiotics had started to work so it's not even at its worst. The line of black biro is where the doctor drew round the edges of the redness to see if it was still spreading.

I have to sit with my foot raised to reduce swelling and I can't go to work. I feel like I should be enjoying being able to crochet and read and surf the net with no guilt feelings and do you know what? All I want to do is to get out and move around. I'm just glad you can't die of boredom.

I'm missing cycling. I'm missing walking. Heaven help me, I'm even missing work!

Any suggestions on what I can do for the next day or two until I'm back on my feet again?

Monday, September 03, 2012

Mighty Hunters


Score for the last four weeks


  • one dead mouse
  • one live and apparently uninjured mouse
  • one nearly dead mouse
  • one dead mouse that he proceeded to eat in front of us
  • one dead and mangled frog, left in the middle of the otherwise spotless hall to welcome us on our return from holiday
  • one dead water rat
If we had a mouse problem these cats would solve it. As it is, I live in dread of what they'll bring home next.

But they look so cute!

Friday, August 31, 2012


Tourist reading Nuestro Diario from Guatemala

After you've finished reading, stop! If you want to remember what you were reading, that is; apparently a ten minute break after reading allows your memory to consolidate and you remember what you've read much better - even a week later.

You can read about it on PsyBlog.

I wonder if eating chocolate enhances the effect. I'm willing to test out the theory - for the benefit of science, obviously. Does anyone else want to test the chocolate theory with me?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What women have been waiting for

Do you sometimes write with a pen? Maybe not your novel, screenplay, blog post or
pornmagazine article, but perhaps a shopping list or love letter?

Up till now, women have had to struggle with heavy, clunky pens made for men's tough, calloused hands. But no longer! Say hello to the BIC for her pen, made specially for a woman's - Agh! Sorry. I can only stand so much of this drivel, even if it is me writing it.

Do go and look at the pens on amazon, though. The reviews, as always, are hysterical. And thank you to Sociological Images for drawing my attention to it. Their article has more examples (some NSFW) of unnecessary gendering in advertising.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Things to do when you're bored

1. Crochet a Happy Bunny

(Much more fun than clearing out the spare room. Or any of the other rooms where the clutter nearly reaches the ceiling!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Flash fiction competition

There's a new flash fiction contest starting in September, run by Stephen Parrish who wrote the Tavernier Stones. Word limit is 250 words; nice and short! The competition opens on 8th September and closes on 22nd September, and the picture above is the prompt.

Is anyone else thinking about going in for it?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Adding sex appeal

Given that sex in novels is currently selling so well (and if you haven't heard of  Fifty Shades of Grey  where have you been?) maybe we should all be adding sex scenes into our stories. That's assuming you write stories. It's hard to add sex to crochet although it has been done (NSFW); if your hobby is photography then the answer is obvious; if it's astronomy or quantum physics then I have no advice for you here.

It might be hard to find an angle that hasn't been tried yet. Indie Reader has an amusing (and NSFW) article on current erotic bestsellers, many of which apparently started life as Indie books.

So sex is clearly the way to go if you want to make money from writing. My problem? I just can't do it. I was going to write a spoof of Fifty Shades but when it came to it, I was cringing and laughing too much to get words on the page.

What about you?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pain relief internet-style

Yesterday My Beloved and I took our bikes for a wonderful ride in Surrey, and when we got too hot we stopped by a cricket match and bought diet Coke at their bar and sat and watched. It was an idyllic English scene.

Then we got back on our bikes. Only I had a basket on the back of mine making it top heavy, so while I was faffing about with putting stuff away the bike fell over. I was holding the bike and didn’t let go in time, so as it fell it pushed my ankle back and pulled me over and I fell on top of it. Ouch!
By evening, the scrape on my wrist was very sore. So, in the spirit of pure scientific research, I tried out pain relief as endorsed by friends on Twitter.

Test results for pain relief out of 5

Wine: 2
Chocolate: 0
Ibuprofen: 5

Either wine isn’t as good at pain relief as some people suggest, or I needed more of it. The trouble is, if I’d had any more I’d have fallen over again!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

That which cannot be named

Amigurumi kiss

The Ravellenic Games start on Friday. This knitting and crochet challenge is apparently inspired by some sporting event or other that's also starting then; the said sporting event sent a "cease and desist" order when Ravelry called their games the Ravelympics, so they renamed them. Maybe like Oxford Street Waterstones we should call them "Lord Voldesport - it which cannot be named".

I'm not taking part. I've tried taking part in a crochet challenge before and it took all the fun out of it. I'm taking wool and hooks on holiday with me and I'll probably turn out an object or two over the two weeks away, but I can't work to a schedule.

On the other hand, I have every intention of taking part in the madness that is Nanowrimo this November. Unlike crochet, I don't write much during the year and I always need something to set me off. Maybe it's because crochet is mostly mindless by comparison with writing, or maybe I just like the feel of wool between my fingers. Or perhaps I'm just lazy.

What about you? When you're writing, crafting, taking part in sport or whatever you do for fun, do you like a challenge or do you prefer to go at your own pace?

Sunday, July 01, 2012

My Beautiful Daughter(-in-Law)

I'm not biased. Really I'm not. Not one tiny bit. It was simply a wonderful wedding.

For a start, we had NO RAIN. I know I'm shouting but this summer a day without rain deserves a shout!

And my son is deeply in love with this beautiful young woman and it was a delight for us to have her become an official member of the family. (Mind you, to me she's been part of the family this last five years!)

And her mother had organised a lovely, beautiful and amazing wedding.

And now I have two sons and two daughters-in-law and I have to say that both my sons have impeccable tastes in women.

Like I said, I'm not biased. OK well maybe I am a bit. Well, yes I am a lot then! But it was still a lovely wedding.

Monday, June 25, 2012


My younger son gets married at the weekend and I finally finished the silver shrug I was making to go with my dress.

I have silver sandals and a silver bag so I also sprayed a hat silver. It's great if you don't mind the silver coming off on your hair and fingers. So I bought one on ebay. Then I saw a better one.

How many silver hats does anyone need?

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Naked Cyclists

I saw naked cyclists at Covent Garden today and I'm completely unharmed.

The ride was to publicise cycling as a means of transport but it felt much more like a statement about human nakedness. I admire the cyclists stripping off even though it was so cold for June.

Many people feel uncomfortable about nudity - I know I wouldn't want to get my kit off in public - but I'm not sure what damage it's supposed to do. I wonder what makes it such a strong taboo.

Friday, June 08, 2012


Parachute Fail
I'm sure you can think of a better caption. The comments section awaits and ReCaptcha is turned off!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

A perfect little game

A Grain of Truth game

I know that some of you like point and click games as much as I do, and A Grain of Truth is a perfect little gem of a game by the same people who made the earlier Trader of Stories game

The controls are straightforward, and if you click on the eye at the top it shows all the hot spots on each screen so you don't have to pixel-hunt.

Travel is easy by use of the map where you can immediately access any location that you've visited.

The pleasant music is set by default to "off" so you don't deafen everyone around you when you first go to the game; if only all websites were that considerate!

The puzzles are tricky but not impossible and I was never left wondering what to do for very long. Except at the very end!

It's definitely worth a look.

(Edited to add: it won't work in Internet Explorer so it's time to upgrade to Firefox or Chrome!)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Only in England

It was our street party for the Diamond Jubilee on Monday. There were races for the children, and a children's tea party, and a display of classic cars right outside our house.

Neil got me to take his photo with the Queen but as he was sloshed at the time I'll spare him a public airing of that one.

In the evening we had a barbeque with Fifties costume optional. I wore a full-skirted dress for the first half hour but after that I covered it with a thick coat and scarf, and added fingerless mitts to boot. I still wasn't warm.

Only in England could one of the evening announcers say that "the weather was kind to us" when we had rain during the day and it was freezing cold during the evening. Still, no snow, no hail, no hurricanes, so I suppose it could have been worse.

Despite the weather, we had a lot of fun. How long till the next one?

Sunday, June 03, 2012

I'm a doormat

Well, Rufus thinks I am anyway. This is the third time he's gone out, got wet, and come in and wiped himself dry on me.

Remind me someone, why do we have cats?

Better than the Queen

Yesterday, my son and daughter-in-law were driving to the shops when they passed a car coming the other way and saw the Queen inside, doing her Queenly thing. No really. We're in Epsom and she was on her way back from the races. Apparently people had been queueing for hours to see her but my son and his wife were just in the right place at the right time.

But I went one better. I met Chris Baty* and he shook my hand! He's been touring and meeting people from lots of different NaNoWriMo groups and yesterday he was at the London meetup. He came round speaking to all of us so that he could hear from us what Nano means to us. So all of us got the chance to speak to the great man.

He's delightful! He is so unassuming and he still seems amazed at the huge movement he started from such small beginnings. He can talk comfortably to a roomful of people and make each of you feel like you're the one person who matters. I really enjoyed meeting him. Much better than seeing the Queen.

*Founder of NaNoWriMo

Sunday, May 06, 2012

A Cat Story

I'm still writing a story a day and today was a cat story, about a cat not unlike Rufus. He's called Hubert and I may use him again!

All these short stories feel like small ideas that I could work on later, maybe when a competition comes up. I only seem to write when there's some outside stimulus so I need to find a way to motivate myself that doesn't involve other people.

Or maybe not. For me writing is a hobby; if I only enjoy it in company then it doesn't really matter.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Not Editing!

Yesterday I started with "It was the longest day she could remember" and got a space story. Today I wrote a story about the dangers of crocheted socks. I wonder what tomorrow's story will be.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I'm going to try to write a Story A Day In May. I've already started today and I found a story flowing out from under my fingers. It's crap, but I'm writing. Yay!

I'm not going to count weekends. You're allowed to make up your own rules so that's mine. I may not make it every day but it's fun to try. Anyone care to join me?

Monday, April 30, 2012

B is for Bomb

In India some children are learning the alphabet from a book in which "B is for Bomb" according to an article in the Guardian.

So could we be looking at: A is for Anthrax, B is for Bomb, C is for Carjacking, D is for Doom... No. It'll never catch on. They don't all make for good pictures.

I think I prefer B is for Butterfly. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Climbing Mount CatTree

It's Day Two of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week and the topic is photographing your work. I thought a caption competition might be fun (no prizes this time!) so what can you come up with?

Monday, April 23, 2012



Today is the first day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. I'm sure you can hardly wait to read all the woolly goodness!

So, here is my thought for the day about colour. Why does everyone else do it better than I do?

This post was brought to you by Day One of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week and the topic "Colour".

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Proud parent moment

Yesterday I went to the degree ceremony for my son's MSc; it's the second graduation we've been to for him and we hope to have a third in a couple of years time.

 I'm unbearably proud of him. He got two prizes as well as his degree: the money went on a new computer as his died just about the time he got the prizes.

He had CFS/ME for most of his High School years and had to take his GCSE*s at home because he was too ill to go in to school. It's wonderful to see him well and enjoying life.

 *In the UK you take your GCSEs at age 16.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dear Google

Dear Google,

I used to be one of your biggest fans. When Google first appeared I quickly caught on that it was better than AltaVista and Lycos and DogPile. My website even touted Google as "possibly the best search engine in the world." Heady days.

Then Gmail came along and I signed up straight away, lured by the carrot of "never delete anything ever again". Of course, that turned out to be a rash promise and I'm using up space quicker than it's growing but hey! Who'd have guessed it would take off so well?

But now. Now. Now the unspeakable has happened. You've changed me over to the new look Gmail against my will and there's nothing I can do. And it's missing a scroll arrow!

I know it's the fashion to get rid of the bottom arrow on the vertical scroll bar but I use it all the time. And now it's gone. RIP scrollbar arrow; you will be greatly missed.

Whatever happened to "don't be a jerk"?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Something wrong here?


Children in the UK are to be tested on their reading abilities by reading nonsense words. It's already happening; I've overheard the tests going on in school.

Meanwhile, in other news, baboons can be taught to distinguish real words from nonsense words, despite not understanding the meaning of the real words.

Am I the only one seeing something wrong in this?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...