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Friday 29 June 2012

Back to the Blog!

Updates to the blog have been lacking this week because we took an unplanned trip to Cumbria, where a certain rather special person is doing fieldwork, and wifi connections up there were sporadic at best. Nevertheless, it was a lovely trip, not least because we got to see our young geologist at work. We paid a visit to the excellent Honister Slate Mine. If you're interested in mining, or just want to see some geology up very close and personal, I highly recommend taking one of their tours. For those of you interested, here's a link to their website:
We were greeted home with a large punnet of strawberries from our friends' allotment - almost made it worth coming back! We've also seen our resident hedgehog several times, trundling around the garden investigating the bird food. Clearly he's found the locale to his liking and has moved in.
So to the writing: sales of the books are slow, clearly I'm not going to be retiring on the proceeds any time soon! Writing is a tough business. It doesn't help when 'prolific' authors turn out to have been plagiarising other writers work:
It's not a pleasant story and I'm rather naively hoping there will be some reasonable explanation for her selling other people's work as her own but sadly I doubt it.

Saturday 23 June 2012

Fun in the ... Floods

I've mentioned before that the British summer has so far been spectacular for all the wrong reasons, but as we mop up after the latest deluge, it's might be helpful to know we're not alone. Minnesota has apparently seen some of its worst flash flooding this week, but rather than let it get them down, they decided to take the opportunity to have some fun:
It's to be hoped they gave the lamp posts a wide berth.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Inventive Business Cards

When I was looking into the marketing for my work, I came up with a design for a business card. I was quietly happy with the result. It was pleasing to the eye, clear, colourful and easily recognisable by use of the Quirky Tales logo. But then today I saw the business card designs on the Mail's website. Now I'm utterly depressed by my woefully unimaginative approach.
I'm not sure about salami one, but I'd love to get my hands on one of the musical combs! So, back to the drawing board. I'm definitely going to have to up my game!

New Story

A story broke yesterday about a certain high profile working mother, married to a certain former prime minister, who had given a speech in which she attacked stay-at-home mothers, or 'yummy mummys', as she rather disparagingly called them. Whilst some of the points she made may have had some merit, it was a rather ill-considered snipe at a hard-pressed and largely voiceless sector of society.
I have to thank her, because it inspired another story for the website. The story is fiction, the characters are imaginary and in no way represent any actual person. The story is my attempt to allow the stay-at-home mum's position to be heard for once.
If you fancy a look, here's the link:
For what it's worth I've been a stay-at-home mum, I've also been a working mum, albeit part-time, so I can see both sides. As such, I'm pretty sure there is no right or wrong, just individual choice.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Forty Winks

For some reason I'm incredibly tired at the moment, so much so that it's not beyond the realms of possibility that I could nod off whilst standing in the queue in the supermarket. Maybe I need a holiday, or maybe I need to adopt the strategy employed by the seal in the photographs on the Daily Mail's website today:
Today's challenge: look at that face without smiling.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

The Boldre Wood Trilogy

Kindle Publishing will be running a promotion on Billy of Boldre Wood on June 22nd, so if you don't have a copy yet, now is a good time to take a look:

'Billy of Boldre Wood' is the first in the trilogy and serves as an introduction to both Billy and the beauty and hazards of Boldre Wood.
The second book, 'Billy and the North Oakian Alliance' is close to being published and sees Billy making a perilous crossing of the Great Lake only to become embroiled in a turbulent and, at times, violent revolution. The preparations of Book Two are almost complete and we should be ready to publish very soon.
Book Three, 'Billy and the Carinthean War' is already drafted, so the full trilogy should be available in the near future. Watch this space for further updates.

Monday 18 June 2012

English Reserve

I suspect my English reserve might be holding me back. It seems that the erotica genre is soaring in popularity at the moment, with the explicit romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey by Erika Mitchell (pen name El James) apparently flying off the shelves at an astonishing rate, earning Mrs Mitchell a small fortune in the process.
I dream of becoming a hugely successful author, as do all writers, but I'm not sure I could ever write convincingly in that particular genre. But who knows, my brand of fiction could be the next big thing!
I'm still working on the final story idea for the second anthology. Editing on the second book of the Boldre Wood Trilogy is going well, and I've had some good feedback on my story for Café ThreeZero.
I'm praying the great reading public soon decides that want they really want to read is imaginative fantasy adventure or maybe a collection of thought-provoking short stories.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Good Samaritans

The wise one and his boss came to see us this weekend, the first time they've been able to get away from home for a while as they've been waiting for appointment dates to come through. It's always great to spend some time with them and there are always plenty of giggles and much putting right of the world. One such thing the wise one's boss very much wanted to put right was a return to the closing piece of funny/ heartwarming news at the end of the nightly bulletin, as the stories covered these days are always so gloomy and depressing.
With that in mind, here's a story from the Mail's website. A gentleman had withdrawn a sizeable sum of money from his savings, tripped as he left the bank and dropped the lot, watching helplessly as it blew away on the breeze. He was rather alarmed when some young lads swooped down and started picking it up, fearing he was about to lose the lot. What followed was not at all what he expected:
Hope that's restored your faith in humanity a little. There are good stories out there, they just don't get covered on TV news!

Thursday 14 June 2012

Demanding Printers

The story for Café ThreeZero is finished. For now! I'm waiting now for peer reviews on it and will no doubt need to make further changes following their critiques, but at least I have something to work on now.
I bravely tackled the job of printing the second book of the trilogy yesterday. Our printer is like a bottomless pit, constantly needing to be fed with something. Yesterday was no different. It printed one page of one hundred and twenty five, then stopped, demanding replacement of the small black ink cartridge. This I duly did. Then it demanded replacement of the large black ink cartridge. I didn't have a spare, so cue a speedy trip to PC World. Odd how the traffic lights are always against you when you're in a rush! The printer was finally satisfied that all its needs had been met and got on with the job, which means today I can begin ploughing through 'Billy and the North Oakian Alliance' with my red pen, striking at any anomalies or clumsy narrative. Not my favourite aspect of writing, but it must be done.
In the meantime, for a little light relief, take a look at Coca Cola's advert on YouTube:
If it can make me smile when I've got so much editing to do it's got to be special!

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Today's Update (because I can't think of a title!)

When I left the house this morning I was stunned to see a large, orange ball of fire in the sky. After a few seconds I remembered that this was the sun and emerged, rather shakily, from my shelter down the side of the house. The summer has been a rather reluctant performer here so far this year, so it's perhaps understandable that pale, waterlogged Brits have stepped out uncertainly today, shielding their eyes against the unfamiliar sun. Still, we're told it won't last. The deluge is set to continue tomorrow and Friday.
And now to work. I finished the first draft of my story for the next Café ThreeZero collection yesterday so today I plan to do some pruning of the story, as it's rather too long as it stands. I have a few ideas for further stories for 'The QT Anthology, Unseen Stories', plus I have further editing work to do on the second of the Boldre Wood Trilogy. I think the CTZ story will take priority, simply because it's closest to completion!

Good luck and best wishes to everyone currently battling the flood water. Fingers crossed that the next two days are drier than predicted.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Knitting Art

The wise one's boss (Mum), has always been a skilled knitter. I still harbour fond memories of favourite jumpers lovingly crafted by her needles. We wore them almost to the point of destruction. She's also pretty nifty with a crochet hook. One of her colourful crocheted blankets lives in our airing cupboard, ready to spring into comforting action whenever one of us is poorly. A snuggle in that blanket almost feels like she's giving us a hug, even though she lives some distance away.
But I suspect even she might draw the line at some of the creations on display in the Telegraph gallery today. Polish artist Olek takes crochet to a whole new level, knitting garments for statues, vehicles and even an entire house. I'm not entirely sure why.
It's all clever stuff, but I reckon she could learn a thing or two about design from the wise one's boss.

Monday 11 June 2012

Oh no! I'm a Grown-up!

I'm in a really bad mood. I started out okay, fairly even, ticking along quite happily, but then I found the article on the Telegraph website about the fifty signs that you're a grown up. I read it, feeling fairly confident I'd emerge from it with the confirmation that I still have some way to go.
Damnations! Blast! *@/£$%*^&<*!!! I could tick pretty much all of them! How did this happen? Well, that's it! The laundry will be put away un-ironed, in fact, I won't even put it away! And why, oh why, did I spend all that time tidying the garden at the weekend? And what was I thinking when I organised my desk - it's so orderly I can find everything I want!
Still, I can't change a wheel. I understand the principle, but the only time I did it, the wheel nearly fell off when I drove down the road, earning me a very stern ticking off by the wise one. I resolved back then to keep away from jacks and wheel nuts for good.
Oh, and I've never held a dinner party - I can't think why anyone would. And I'm pretty sure the wise one's boss would never be so desperate as to require my advice! So that's three I can't tick. Hurrah! I'm still a partial youth!
Here's the link so you can see how you're doing. If you'll take my advice, you might want to fib a little!

Friday 8 June 2012

QT Anthologies

The second of the QT Anthologies is nearly ready. I don't know how, but I had miscounted the number of stories already in the collection. I added another story thinking that I would now be over the dreaded thirteen, only to find I only had twelve! Maths was never my strong point.
I found a story I had set aside for the collection some time ago but forgot about, so now I'm back to thirteen - it's like Groundhog Day! One more story and I'll be ready to prepare the collection for publication.
Hopefully it should be complete sometime this month - inspiration for that vital fourteenth story permitting!
Meanwhile, I'm trying to finish my story for the next Café ThreeZero collection. It's not going well. The idea is sound, but my execution of it has become rather rambling. I shall have to start again, whittling down the waffle! Sadly that is actually easier to say than do!
Further updates on the anthology to follow.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Fields of Gold

I've been absent from the blog for a few days, but I have a list of excuses! Firstly, I'm still getting to grips with Blogger's new user interface - I found the old one much more user friendly, probably because I was used to it (which won't mean a thing if you don't blog, but trust me, behind the curtains things have changed!). Secondly, I was a bit distracted by all the pageantry of the Jubilee Weekend. Thirdly, that certain rather special someone is briefly at home, so I've been making the most of some precious time with her.
Anyway, excuses out of the way, I'm almost back to normal now. More editing, more writing, more searching for funny, odd or frankly weird news stories.
One story that caught my attention is about the UK's rapeseed fields. Following a big increase in demand, not to mention price, British farmers have been growing more and more rapeseed. It's pretty enough, though I personally find the smell overpowering, and now it's attracting interest from our foreign visitors. So much so, in fact, that a Japanese company is now arranging special tours of the rapeseed fields. They've even reached an agreement with one enterprising farmer to take their customers for walks through his crop fields.
Let's hope the British summer can conjure up a little sunshine for them, because the rapeseed fields are at their most stunning against a blue sky backdrop.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Jubilee Celebrations

It's raining, it's cold, it's gloomy, and it's windy, and yet, in London and across the country, people are celebrating. Faces are painted, ornate cakes lovingly crafted, gazebos held in place with house bricks, trestle tables groan beneath the weight of party food, and a grand flotilla of boats of all shapes and sizes are making their way along the River Thames in tribute and celebration of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.
It takes an awful lot more than rotten weather to dampen British spirits.
Congratulations on your Diamond Jubilee Ma-am, and thank you.