Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Caption competition

Halloween came and went then I got a tummy bug, so last week was a write-off. Inspiration has fled; I'm trying to get out invitations to my birthday party, buy Xmas presents, get ready for my winter skiing holiday, get my new glasses sorted so that I can see through them, and edit 50k words for Nanowrimo.

None out of five isn't bad. Is it?

As I'm feeling uninspired, I thought I'd turn to you folks for inspiration. How about a caption for today's photo?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Are you ready?

Nanowrimo starts tomorrow. Are your pencils all sharpened, your notebooks at the ready, your laptop battery charged, your wordcount spreadsheets updated? Do you have snacks and coffee and chocolate to hand? Most importantly of all, do you have an outline?

Actually, skip that last one. You don't need to know where your story is going when you start writing; some of us only find out what the story is by writing it.

If you get stuck, Brian Klems has some suggestions for what to write next:
If you find yourself at a loss for what to write next, come up with a way to make things worse, let the characters respond naturally to what’s happening, write a scene that fulfills a promise you made earlier in the book, or work on a scene you know readers will expect based on your genre and the story you’ve told so far. 
 (from 6 Secrets of Writing a Novel Without an Outline)

Brian Klems suggests an organic way of working that I feel comfortable with but the article also gives you a lot of things to think of all at once when trying to write and I'm not sure I can do that. While I'm thinking up stories what seems to work best for me is trying to come up with the story I most want to read. Mind you, sometimes the characters just won't co-operate (I'm going to be editing a novel this month where the main character refused to fall for the attractive woman I'd set up for her and insisted on falling for a character who was supposed to be a minor annoyance).

For anyone doing Nano this year: I'm here to cheer you on. The purple bar is calling your name, just make sure you've got enough chocolate in to fuel your writing. Oh, is it only me that runs on chocolate then?

Monday, October 28, 2013

King Rufus

We found the dog bed in a charity shop and it looked the right size for our cats so we brought it home. I rather liked the gold edging; I thought it gave the bed that throne ambiance that every cat should have.

Both cats sniffed at it then left it alone.

I wasn't going to be defeated so I had a cunning plan. I put the bed on the settee and sat on it like a cushion. Then after a while I went and cooked dinner. When I came back, Rufus had as usual taken my seat and was ensconced in the bed. I picked it up by the edges and put it on the floor and hey presto! Suddenly he can't be separated from it.

Just sometimes I think I'm cleverer than that cat.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Clocks go back

Day 252: Dreaming

If you're in the UK, don't forget the clocks go back tonight. And if you want something to cheer you up while thinking about the long, dark evenings ahead, you might want to revisit this old post.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Nearly November

Just eight days to go till the start of Nanowrimo.

I've written seven 50k stories and one of 24k during previous Nanowrimos and they all languish unedited. I think it's time to change that so this year I'm not going to be nanoing, I'm going to be editing.

It's going to be hard because, hey, 50,000 words! That's a lot of words to edit! And also I love seeing my word count going up during Nano and I won't be doing that this year. I won't get a purple bar either. So maybe I won't stay motivated but I think it's worth a try.

Nano is a huge effort and a huge achievement - well it has been for me, anyway. It feels strange to be not quite part of it this year.

I shall still go to the booze- meet-ups though.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Don't blame me if I'm fat!

Fat Cat Moe

No, this isn't about all the weight I put on on holiday! This brilliant article explains why it's just too simplistic to accuse people who are overweight of a lack of will power leading to eating too much. How do we know it's not just that? Because many species of animals that live close to humans and who are on restricted diets are also getting fatter. It's not just about intake calories versus output exercise; the reasons are much more complex than that.

Possible culprits for the growing obesity trend include:
  • Sleeplessness
  • Stress
  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Heavy metals
  • Electric lights
  • Heating
  • Air conditioning
  • Famine in previous generations
It's probably a combination of a number of these leading to growing obesity. Sadly, the conclusion isn't that we can all eat as much as we like and it won't make any difference. If only! It really is worth reading the article to get the full picture.

Oh, and that photo isn't my cat, it's from Flickr. I couldn't resist his adorable shyness about his weight. (The photographer says "he's hiding from his famousness".)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Return

So, I'm back from France after two weeks without internet and I'm still sane. Whee, gibber, gibber.

Going cold turkey didn't affect me at all. My hovercraft is full of eels.

It's fine. You just have to decide not to care that you can't check anything online, play any games, find any crochet patterns, or chat to any friends. Life without google is great. No really, you should try it. You should all try it.


I spoke more bad French in the last two weeks than I have for years and the French graciously pretended to understand me. I ate too much rich food and I don't fit my waistbands. It was great.

But now I'm back, and other than Whirl cruelly deleting my comments on his blog, what's happening round here these days?

Edited to change helicopter to hovercraft because lack of internet is more damaging than you'd think. (Thanks, Simon!)

Thursday, August 01, 2013


But only for a couple of weeks.

I'm off on my holidays to sunny Brittany; well, I hope it will be sunny anyway.

Be good while I'm away and don't make a mess in here or at least if you do then please clear up after yourselves.

See you later!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Where was I?

The way I see it is this: using Twitter is like singing in the street for all to hear, whereas Facebook is chatting with friends in a busy shopping centre where any of your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues can overhear and you might not notice them listening. Email is a private chat if you can get anyone to leave Facebook for five minutes to talk to you.

Blogger is a private work of art and my work of art has been sadly neglected lately. The blogosphere used to be a secluded community as well but many of the residents have moved to Facebook and I can't be anonymous there.

So I've been finding my community in Ravelry, where I can be fairyhedgehogg and not worry that my colleagues and neighbours will be watching what I post. Plus I can post pictures of all my crochet works of art (and disasters) and know that people will be genuinely interested.

Meanwhile, out in meatspace I've been working, and crocheting, and even writing a teeny, tiny bit. And getting a new job.

Yay, new job!
But that's a whole other post.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Spring forward

It's 2°C/36°F outside and feels colder with the wind chill. The seasonal average for Epsom is around 12°C/54°F. I don't think the temperature has been much above 5°C since Christmas but I may be wrong.

We put the clocks forward at the weekend; you know: spring forward (fall back). It doesn't feel much like spring here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Lightning Process


I've been meaning to write for a while about how I got better from ME/CFS. Those of you who have met me face to face will know that I had several really bad years with CFS; I was mostly housebound and completely unable to work. Any time I did something really tiring, like meeting friends in London, I'd pay for it with days or weeks of pain and exhaustion.

Weekly Vitamin B12 injections helped by relieving the brain fog. I also did daily meditation, as recommended by the NHS, and paced myself. I did try to gradually increase the amount I was doing but without any noticeable progress. So I resigned myself to feeling like an eighty-year old woman although I was in my mid-fifties, and to a life where the internet was my main contact with the outside world. I had my lovely family around me and I told myself that I was happy.

Then a friend sent me a press cutting about the Lightning Process and I was desperate enough to try it.

The first day of the three-day course, I set off fearfully. I had a half hour's drive to get there, which was more than I was sure I could manage. All the way there I was turning over in my mind how I'd get back. Would I be able to drive? Would I need a taxi? Or maybe find somewhere to stay near the training venue?

That afternoon after four hours or so of training, I drove back home happily. I drove to a local wool shop to get wool. I cooked dinner. I drove my son and daughter-in-law to Slimming World and back. The change was amazing.

At first I kept very quiet about it. The Lightning Process sometimes has a bad press because of people apparently making extreme claims about it and I didn't think anyone would take me seriously until I'd been better for a while. And to be honest it felt like early days and I wasn't sure how I was going to be next month or next year.

Five months after the course, I was looking for work and found a part-time job at an after-school club. I was nervous about taking it; would my energy hold up? Well, it did and I felt happier than I had in a long while. No more state benefits for me I was getting paid, and getting paid to do a job I loved.

In April it will be two years since I did the Lightning Process. I'm working, I'm cycling, I'm learning Spanish and I'm happy. At the moment I'm trying to get fit enough to go on a skiing holiday.

I think we can call that a success.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Don't give up the day job?

From Bo's Cafe Life

I've just been reading You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing and it made me think about what it's like to be a professional writer.

Scalzi has an interesting history. He's known since he was around fourteen that he wanted to write for a living because it was easy for him compared to say, maths. He's making a good living at writing but not mainly based on writing novels (or not at the time he wrote You're Not Fooling...) He's written a lot of non-fiction including articles for various publications and he's willing to take on most commissions if they pay well enough.

It clarified for me why I don't want to be a professional writer. If you're a writer you have to write whether you want to or not. Now I've done my fair share of writing for a job and quite enjoyed it. I had five years in the Civil Service mostly drafting documents, and I had regular reports to write in my last job for The Place2Be. That was fine but it's not what comes easiest to me. If I had to choose a job based on making a living at things that I'd want to do anyway, I'd choose to work with children.

And I do! (And what's even better is that we'll soon be getting a cook at our after-school club so I won't have to do the one bit of the job that I don't really care for.)

You know you're doing a job you like when you don't keep having to remind yourself "Well, at least I'm getting paid for this."

According to Scalzi, most fiction writers earn their living at something else. For him it's non-fiction writing; for me it's working with children. I'm not ready to give up my day job and I'm not sure I ever will be. What about you?

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Pictures I Found On My Phone

I was going to call this post something posh like "2012 Retrospective" but then I decided to go with honesty: these are the pictures I found on my phone. They remind me of some of the good times I had last year.

Probaby Denbies Vineyard, probably summer 2012

Bonnie enjoying the summer sun

Walking near the New Inn at Send

Rufus in his hammock

Where I work, sans children (because of issues with photographing other people's children and putting their pictures online)

Geek get-together during NaNoWriMo (note the amazing camera work and I wasn't even drunk)

Christmas Reindeer at Covent Garden

Skating at Somerset House

Flooding upriver of Hampton Court Palace

After-Christmas Cats with their new cat tree
Somewhere I also have pictures of the family over Christmas and New Year but you've been spared those. The photos of Box Hill today are still on my phone. Be grateful for small mercies!

Next week it's back to work but until then I'm enjoying the holidays. I hope you are too.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

New Year Family Fun

Here is Bonnie winning herself some gems in the Hobbit game; sadly the whole party of dwarves got eaten but she had the most gems, so she was the richest, dead dwarf of us all.
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