Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Financial Times: Obituary for Sir Terry Pratchett

"Of gods and men

WHEN he was knighted in 2009, Terry Pratchett made a sword. It was the natural accoutrement for a man who, without one, resembled an amiable wizard kitted out by a Houston department store.

With a little help from friends, he dug 80 kilos of iron ore from a convenient field and built a kiln in the back garden. Together the team forged a sword that might have bisected a snowflake, had one drifted past.

It also had a hidden ingredient. Mixed in with the smelt were bits of meteorite, the stuff of thunderbolts. By this Sir Terry put himself on a par with Blind Io, chief of his Discworld gods. Io held the monopoly of throwing bolts about, and thus effortlessly lorded it over Annoia, goddess of Things That Stick in Drawers; Bibulous, god of Wine and Things on Sticks; Errata, goddess of Misunderstandings; and Reg, god of Club Musicians.

The disc-shaped world in which these gods were worshipped—or, more often, blamed—had been created by Sir Terry in 1983, though it had possibly existed from all eternity, borne steadily through space on the backs of four giant elephants standing on an immense dim-sighted turtle. It had swum into his mind as he wrote press handouts for the Central Electricity Generating Board, and by 1987 had proved so phenomenally popular that he left the board to fend for itself. His 40 Discworld novels made him Britain’s bestselling author in the 1990s, and by this year he had sold 85m books in 37 languages: though not, to his disappointment, in Klatch or heathen Trob*.

The literati sniffed at his fantasies, but he gave as good as he got. He had no intention of writing literature, or adding to the piles already mouldering about. Instead he ornamented Discworld with Unseen University, which was never precisely Here or There, where faculty such as the Professor of Indefinite Studies had only to show up for meals, and where the Librarian was an orang-utan who, swinging through the shelves with his prehensile limbs, had reduced all existential inquiry to a craving for bananas.

Sir Terry had not been to university himself, Seen or Unseen. He had just about scraped through High Wycombe Technical High School. Astronomy was his passion, but his star-gazing was not backed up by being any good at maths. He learned instead—mostly from P.G. Wodehouse and H.G. Wells—that universes could be explored in other ways, and could be funny and dark and slyly topical, all at once.
So it was that he built the sprawling, unsewered metropolis of Ankh-Morpork and peopled its mazy alleyways with thieves, beggars, trolls, vampires, vegetarian werewolves and bemused tourists, as well as overworked wizards. People wondered how he was not overworked himself, producing two books a year. He simply loved doing it. Feature-film-makers and their bags of gold were regularly rebuffed; he was the only controller of this universe. (Just to prove it, he gave it eight colours of the spectrum, the eighth being fluorescent greenish-yellow-purple octarine, and let some characters move so fast that light stood red-faced in embarrassment.) His enormous cast of characters, once set in motion, would generally do what he wanted, give or take the odd axe malfunction.

Brandy with Tallis

Among those characters was Death. He had appeared in Sir Terry’s childhood playing chess in “The Seventh Seal” on TV, and had not changed much since. When noticed, as humans tried not to, he had sparkling blue eyes, a glowing scythe and a white horse called Binky. His gathering of souls was untidy—the good fingered, the bad spared—and his life oddly endearing, with cups of tea and curries, and a rubber duck in his bath. He spoke IN CAPITALS, like a coffin lid slamming. In 1991 a New Death appeared with no nice features, but he soon tangled with that scythe.

Knowing Death as he did, Sir Terry was taken aback when in 2007 Binky came nuzzling at his door. He was diagnosed then with a form of early-onset Alzheimer’s. As an optimist by nature, he determined to beat it; when, within a year, it had removed his power to write and type, he realised that might be too tall an order. But his anger was undiminished; and since he had always told Death what to do and where to go, he began to campaign loudly and publicly for the right to die when and how he liked. This was preferably not in a clinic in Switzerland, but in his garden, with his cat on his lap, an excellent brandy in his hand, and Thomas Tallis in the background. In the event he managed, unassisted, some of that; and also put the right-to-die debate in a useful forward gear.

Soon after his diagnosis it was rumoured, mostly in the Daily Mail, that he had found God. He thought this unlikely, since he could not even find his keys, for the existence of which he had empirical evidence. All the same, he admitted to hearing a voice that told him all was well; and to a feeling one February day, when the sunset reddened a ploughed field, that there was “an order greater than heaven”. He knew then, he thought, “where the gods come from”. But why not, like the gods and the universe he had created, from his own black-fedoraed head, and his own thunder-wielding hand?"

Taken from a post on Terry Pratchett's blog on Goodreads, which can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/8099177-financial-times-obituary?utm_medium=email&utm_source=author_blog_post_digest

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday's random mutterings - March 30th 2015


Terry Pratchett will live on in the clax, thanks to fans' programming code.


Which Roald Dahl book are you?
Matilda Your smart sensitive, and unapretiated. But your actually really cool.
Facebook quizzes & Blog quizzes by Quibblo

Works for me... And it's right up at the top of my list of favourite Roald Dahl books too! OK, so the rest are right behind it, fighting each other for the top spot. I mean, I have a lot of favourite books, and nearly all of Roald Dahl's are among them. But, if I absolutely had to pick one favourite Roald Dahl book, it would be "Matilda" for sure. Though "Matilda" would miss out on the top spot if I was forced to pick an all time favourite from any author, because "A Little Princess" by Frances Hodgson Burnett has that honour.

Anyway, both Matilda Wormwood and Sarah Crew made it on to the 25 of childhood literature's most beloved female characters - ranked by coolness list. As did Hermione Granger, and a few others who are in books I would list among my favourites.


The reading challenge for the first quarter of this year on one of the groups I'm on over on Goodreads was to read 6 to 12 books that have been on your to-read shelf for at least three months when you read them.

They don't usually put a maximum number on these, but they did this time. I can't help but wonder if it was because of my constantly reading so many more than required to complete the challenge? Funny thing is, this time I only just managed the 12, because I was reading so many books I heard about more recently. LOL!

Anyway, here are the books I read for this challenge:

1. A Horse Called September by Anne Digby ~ marked as to read on January 14th 2014; read on January 2nd 2015.
2. Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH (Rats Of NIMH, #1) by Robert C. O'Brien ~ marked as to read on January 14th 2014; read on January 10th 2015.
3. Little Women (Little Women, #1) by Louisa May Alcott ~ marked as to read on December 29th 2012; read on January 16th 2015.
4. Little Men (Little Women, #2) by Louisa May Alcott ~ marked as to read on December 29th 2012; read on January 18th 2015.
5. Jo's Boys (Little Women, #3) by Louisa May Alcott ~ marked as to read on December 29th 2012; read on January 20th 2015.
6. The Great Ghost Rescue by Eva Ibbotson ~ marked as to read on January 4th 2013; read on January 24th 2015.
7. Bleak House by Charles Dickens ~ marked as to read on January 7th 2013; read on January 28th 2015.
8. Pathfinder #6—Rise of the Runelords Chapter 6: "Spires of Xin-Shalast" by Greg A. Vaughan & James L. Sutter ~ marked as to read on April 17th 2014; read on January 30th 2015.
9. Villainous Vic (Bogamus And Friends, #2) by Nathan A. Jones ~ marked as to read on March 14th 2014; read on February 18th 2015.
10. Victorian Short Stories: Stories Of Courtship by W.S. Gilbert, Anthony Trollope, Hubert Crackanthorpe, George Egerton & Israel Zangwill ~ marked as to read on January 12th 2013; read on February 19th 2015.
11. Darkness Devouring (The Cry Of Havoc, #2) by John Hennessy ~ marked as to read on January 11th 2013; read on March 13th 2015.
12. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe ~ marked as to read on January 12th 2013; read on March 20th 2015.


Saturday was Rita's birthday. So, a very happy belated birthday wish to you, Rita!

I did say happy birthday to Rita last week, so got it in early... I just forgot to mention it on my blog with all the excitement over the attempt at seeing the eclipse, and concerns about being a robot.


Here are a couple of photos taken by Kelly on March 13th of the mist rolling in over the ocean, as seen from our living room:


While listening to the ocean the other night before going to sleep, I wondered why the waves crashed against the shore.

Now, I know the tides are to do with the moon's gravitational pull, but what I wanted to know was why the waves exist like they do. Why doesn't the ocean just move one way or the other, depending on where the moon is? Also, since the orbits of the moon and the Earth stay basically the same, why do waves vary in size and shape? Because this doesn't just depend on the weather or moon phase; the waves can be different along different parts of the beach, and water is rougher or smoother in different parts of the ocean sometimes too. I knew it had something to do with science, but I wanted the details.

When I asked him, Kelly said he didn't know. Well, actually, he told me to "look it up later, now shut up and go to sleep." But I'm taking that as an "I don't know," because I'm pretty sure he'd have told me the answer if he knew it just to get me to stop wondering about it and go to sleep (translation: he'd have told me so I'd shut up and let him go to sleep).

So, I looked it up.

Basically, waves are created by the energies in the water reacting to one another, and to the energies around them. This means that there's a combination of factors at play, including the pull of the tide, the steepness of the particular spot along the shoreline (or the ocean floor, if far out to sea), the amount of space available for the water to distribute itself, and the energies of the elements.

I can't find the links I was looking at now; I didn't keep them, and don't feel like going looking for them at the moment. But if you want it in more detail, just type "why do waves crash against the shore?" in to your favourite search engine. You'll probably get a bunch of ocean sound clips among the results, which you can either skip while you keep looking for the articles, or take some time to listen to; it's entirely up to you.


Always remember... As someone said on Twitter recently...

"Never trust an atom; they make up everything."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Furkid Friday - March 27th 2015

Hi humans, rodents, and readers of any other species.

This is Jacob the degu, and I know I'm late today, but there's been lots of what the humans call "repair work" going on in the building over the last couple of days, and today it was quite noisy here.

The Mummy human says "repair work" means that the repair humans who work for the humans who really own this place came to fix a few things they didn't have time to fix before we moved here, or hadn't noticed needed fixing until our humans pointed them out. Mostly small jobs, like fixing the latch on the cupboard where our food and stuff is kept. But also a couple of bigger jobs, like re-painting the ceiling of the bedroom now that the plaster is dry (I'm told they had to put new plaster on the ceiling after they repaired a leak in the roof before we moved here, but didn't get a chance to do the painting, because the plaster was wet). There were a few other jobs too, but I lost interest and stopped listening at this point, so I'm not sure what they were.

Anyway, for some of the things that got done, the humans opened the windows. It's been kind of cold here, but the Mummy human says it was best to take the chance with the cold than the fumes from what the repair humans were using (like the paint).

In case you were wondering - since the Mummy human tells me some of you probably are - none of the work with smelly things was being done in the room we live in, but the humans opened our windows anyway, because they thought it was safest. Like I said, it hasn't been very warm, but the Mummy human said she'd rather risk us getting cold than choking on toxic fumes. At least it wasn't raining when we needed to have the windows open though. Not that it's rained much in the past week or so - except yesterday, when it rained lots, but it was OK because we didn't need to have our windows open.

I'm told the repair humans have done most of the jobs now, which is good. One of the humans who actually own the place - one of the ones our humans call "the landlords" - came to check to make sure things were getting done and everything, which seemed to please my humans. I don't understand why this is, but humans are pleased by all sorts of things that make no sense to me, so I'm not going to try.

Anyway, we tried to carry on playing as normal, but after a while the combination of the smells, the noises, and the cold - none of which appealed to us even slightly - made us give up and go for naps. We're all OK though, and happy to be out of our beds and playing when the repair humans aren't doing their noisy and smelly jobs.

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - March 25th 2015

In case you missed yesterday's post where I announced it...

My latest book "Isabelle's Runaway Racehorse" was officially released yesterday!

It's one for horse lovers; officially aimed at children, though - I hope - adults will enjoy it too. See yesterday's post, or the book's page on Goodreads - or your favourite ebook retailer - for the synopsis.

You can buy it from Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as from Barnes & Noble, the Apple iBook Store, Kobo, and a few other ebook retailers who carry my books.

To all who take - or, have taken - the time to buy a copy... Thank you! I hope you enjoy it!

I always appreciate any and all reviews people take the time to leave, so, thank you also if you've reviewed a book of mine after reading it; self-published authors like me need your reviews and recommendations to help spread the word about our books!

I obviously prefer good reviews, but any reviews are better than none, and I know it would be impossible for everyone who read my books to enjoy them; as much as I'd like everyone to do so.

Have you had some bad reviews on your own book(s)? If so, here's an article on wonderfully bad book reviews to make you feel better about them.

As another example for you of good reviews disguised as bad ones...

Last night I was looking at my reviews on Barnes & Noble, and happened to notice that there were a couple of low reviews on "Frank The Friendly Ogre" - which, by the way, is usually a popular book of mine; especially with it being free. So, I looked closer.

I had a 1 star review where the reviewer's comment was "This book is for 1 year olds."

Now, since "Frank The Friendly Ogre" is a book aimed at young children of picture book age, which would mean it's a book I hope parents who read ebooks to their infants and toddlers - as many do - will consider reading at bed time, I'm actually rather pleased that this person considers my book to be suitable for the audience I had in mind. So, thank you kind reviewer! *Wink*

Remember, it's not just the little kids who enjoy being read to. A recent survey from Scholastic found that older children like to be read to as well. Hey, why not? I mean, this big kid still loves to be read to!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Isabelle's Runaway Racehorse - officially released today!

"Used to being the only horse, Jet finds it difficult to accept the addition of the newest member of the family. Jealous and hurt by how the new mare is stealing the affections of his beloved owner, Isabelle, and her sister, Charlotte, he decides to run away; determined to find a place where he can be the only horse and regain the love and attention he’s always had. But Jet soon begins to miss the comfortable life he’s always known, and to wonder if running away was a good idea after all."

That's the synopsis for "Isabelle's Runaway Racehorse" - my latest book, which is officially released today.

This book was originally a story of roughly 750 words, which I wrote at the age of 10. However, after several changes to the characters and the story itself, the addition of details that - I hope - make the story come alive a bit more, and hours and hours of editing work, the final result is a story of over 4500 words! Don't worry... The original story is still in there; I just expanded on it, hopefully giving those who take the time to read it a more enjoyable reading experience. Not that my writing as a 10 year old was all that bad, but... Well, I'm sure you get the point.


You can already buy it from Smashwords, as well as from many other ebook retailers.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday's random mutterings - March 23rd 2015 (FD)

Did you know that Friday (March 20th 2015) was the Spring Equinox?

Well, you do now!

At least, it was here in the Northern hemisphere... It would have been the Autumn Equinox in the Southern hemisphere though.

If you don't know, the Equinox is the time of year when the day and night are equal in length, which happens twice a year.


Did you know that there was also a solar eclipse on the 20th of March?

Could you see it from where you were Did you try?

We should have been able to see at least a partial eclipse, so we took a flask of hot peppermint tea and the camera with us to sit out by the ocean Friday morning, hoping to grab photos.

But there was too much mist and cloud cover, so we couldn't see the sun...

Some neighbours had the same idea as we did...

(They had dogs with them, but the dogs were all over the place, so we didn't get their photo).

But the only evidence of the eclipse we could see was a slight darkening of the sky, and the sea birds going crazy...

The neighbours gave up first, then we did; or, rather, I did... I think Kelly would have given up sooner if I wasn't so stubbourn... Despite being cold...

I know Kelly had been looking longingly towards home for a while...

But when we went home; after one more attempt at a photo...

This orange cone head alien was still patiently standing out in the cold... Waiting - and hoping - for a glimpse of the eclipse...

He had the right idea, if you ask me, since he was stood a short distance from the door of a nice little tea shop, where he had easy access to a selection of very tasty cakes and pastries, and all the tea or coffee he could want!

Since the tea shop the orange cone head alien was outside of was just around the corner from our door, I asked him to give us a shout if the clouds cleared away. They did... Once it was too late to see anything... *Sigh*

Well, it was a nice outing... If a bit chilly... Despite the failed eclipse watching attempt.

For those who may be interested... The rodent gang didn't even care that there was an eclipse. In fact, as far as we can tell, they slept through it. At least, they were sleeping peacefully when we got home.

Oh... I almost forgot to mention... The camera's time is an hour ahead of the time it actually was. We never changed it last October, and since I wasn't usually bothered about the time when photos were taken, it wasn't noticed before. I didn't give it a thought until Kelly mentioned the time stamp on the first photos we took on Friday, which I know were taken an hour earlier than it says on the camera. We could probably figure out how to change the time on the camera if we looked, but since the clocks change this coming weekend, there's not much point.


In a recent Thursday thoughts blog post, Mindy McGinnis mentioned her worries about the possibility of being a robot, due to the internet constantly challenging her to prove she isn't one.

This made me worry about the possibility of being one and not knowing it. I mean, the internet does keep asking...

Even more worrying is the fact I know it's possible to bypass the annoying "please prove you're not a robot" word verification thingy sometimes, and have done so on several ocasions. Does this increase the chances of me being a robot?

I'm pretty sure I'm not one. But what if I'm programmed to think that way?


My hospital appointment to sort out my tooth was this past Thursday, and they didn't seem to find any evidence that I'm actually a robot, which is comforting, and probably decreases the chances of me being one. Unless they're supposed to make it seem that way? Hmmm...


The appointment was a waste of time, if you ask me!

Despite my having already seen my own dentist first, I had to have a consultation with the hospital's dentist, plus have new mouth x-ray's done (because, apparently, the ones the dentist do aren't clear enough). They also did a blood test, because of the reason for me being referred to the hospital in the first place.

Then they told me it would be "7 or 8 more weeks" before I could go back for it to be sorted.

I wasn't impressed about that, and pointed out to them that I've been in pain since before Christmas, and this is ridiculous.

They replied that it was "procedure" - of course.

With some whining and complaining, I managed to get them to bring it forward by a few weeks. So, I have an appointment to get the painful tooth, plus the wisdom tooth on the same side as it pulled out on April 15th, and will then have to go back a couple of weeks later to have the other wisdom tooth out.

In the meantime, I guess I'll just have to continue to be grateful that clove oil is fantastic for toothache. *Sigh*

Friday, March 20, 2015

Furkid Friday - March 20th 2015 (FD)

Hi there everybody. This is Joshua.

I'd have thought my brother, Jasper, would have mentioned our birthday in his bloggy post thingy last week. But I guess he had other things on his mind, which made even something associated with food - which Jasper loves - slip his mind. So, I suppose I'll tell you instead.

We turned two years old on March 9th, and celebrated our birthday with pasta, peanuts, Cheerios, and cashew nuts; all of which were delicious! The Cheerios and pasta we get quite often, but the nuts were a treat because it was our birthday.

The humans also got us a wooden block thing that atatches to the side of our cage, and acts as a gnawing block and a small ledge we can sit on at the same time. It's both fun to climb on, and great to chew, so we love it!

Here it is:

And here are two of my brothers checking it out:

I think it was Jacob and Jenks in the above photo. The photo's not quite clear enough to see their nose markings though, and our nose markings are the only way to tell us apart.

Anyway, I'm not sure who came up with the idea of this birthday thing, but we think they deserve a medal... Birthdays are great! When can we have another one?

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - March 18th 2015

At the end of last week, I pre-released "Home Squeak Home" - the official release date is April 28th 2015!

I've mentioned the book before, but - in case you've forgotten - it's a book that tells the story of our gerbils adjusting after we brought them home; but from their point of view. Their names are different though, because our gerbils are called Bilbo And Baggins, and I'm not sure where I'd stand on using names so obviously from JRR Tolkien's books. I don't want to be in trouble for using them, so I decided it was better safe than sorry, and changed their names in the book to Sooty and Scamp respectively.

Anyway, if you're wondering why you have to wait so long for it... It's because "Isabelle's Runaway Racehorse" is already pre-released for the end of this month. It's due out this coming Tuesday, actually.

Are you writing your own book?

If so, bear in mind that it might be a good idea to research your book title before publishing.

Also, here are 11 tips for promoting your book - hope they help!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday's random mutterings - March 16th 2015 (LBE)

This is the view from the two windows in our living room:

Same view, different day, but only from one window this time...

The above photos were taken during late morning, and only a few days apart. These two were taken around sunset a couple of weeks later:

Like I said, we're really close to the ocean, and can go there whenever we want, plus hear it all the time. And, yes, we've been to sit down by it for a while. After all, how could we resist doing so when it's so close?


While sat down by the ocean last week, we spotted the usual seagulls, but we also spotted another type of bird, which we were unable to immediately identify, but were both curious about.

So, when we got home, we went and looked on the RSPB's website to see what it was, and discovered it was a type of bird called a Turnstone.

We didn't get photos of it though, because we didn't have the camera with us, so you'll just have to look at the RSPB's pictures if you want to see what it looks like. They also have a short clip so you can listen to one.


Everyone knows February’s main attraction is Valentine’s Day. So, I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that - in honour of Valentine’s Day - February's reading challenge on one of the groups I'm a member of on Goodreads was all about LOVE!

I waited to post it until now though, because the challenge went up late, so we were given until March 10th to complete it, instead of the usual "end of the month" finnish date.


Here are the 15 different types of love that were listed for the challenge, as well as the details for the type of book we were to read for the spacific type of love, and which book - if any - I read for it.

1. Infatuation- loving feelings towards a love object that are largely based upon fantasy and idealization (instead of experience).
Read a book that is in the fantasy genre!

*I read "Stanley Scotch And The Land Of Giants" by Kit Jenson.

2. Romantic Love- An abiding love for a partner with whom you feel passion, attraction, caring and respect.
Read any book that is in the romance genre!

*I read "Victorian Short Stories: Stories Of Courtship" by W.S. Gilbert, Anthony Trollope, Hubert Crackanthorpe, George Egerton & Israel Zangwill.

3. Eros Love- a passionate love usually involving sexual feelings for a love interest.
Read a book that you were passionate about - Old Time Favorite.

4. Companionate Love - feelings of warmth towards a friend with whom you love to spend time.
Read a book off one of your friends lists.

*I read "Burn" (Salem's Revenge, #3) by David Estes.

5. Unconditional Love - A type of affection and caring that is so strong that you feel it consistently, regardless of what that other person does.
Read a book that is written by one of your favorite authors.

*I read "London Belongs To The Alchemist" (Class Heroes, #4) by Stephen Henning.

6. Conditional Love - A love that requires specific action or conditions in order to be maintained.
Read a book that can be found in the Action/Adventure genre.

*I read "Neptune's Trident" (Astro's Adventures, #7) by Susan Day.

7. Puppy Love - A childish, innocent temporary crush on someone that you don’t know well.
Read a book with an animal or child on the cover.

*I read "Astro Is Down In The Dumps" by Susan Day.

8. Maternal Love - This term usually connotes love that is nurturing, accepting and protective. In actuality this love can also be given by a father etc.
Read a book that begins with the same letter as your mothers name. (example - my moms name is Frances (my pick is Fire Country).

9. Paternal Love - This term connotes love that involves guidance and some authority. Paternal love usually prepares a child to be ready for the outside world. Again, in reality this type of love is not gender specific.
Read a book that is in the New Adult Genre (ie coming of age).

10. Soulmate Love - This type of love is described as a love that has survived multiple life times. Not everyone believes in this concept.
Read a book that is in the romance genre, see if you can find one where they find their soulmate.

11. Spiritual/Divine Love - This type of love recognizes the Divine light in everyone and everything. Love is given to everyone as an act of loving God.
Read a book that is in the Christian/Spiritual genre.

12. Love of your country or patriotism - This is love for the place you live or the place that you were born. It is a type of loyalty and a special feeling of belonging that you attribute to that specific geographic location.
Read a book that is from an author in the country you were born.

13. Self-Love - This is a positive feeling that you have about who you are and what you deserve. It often is expressed by treating yourself well, respecting yourself, wanting yourself to be happy and expecting others to respect you too.
Read a book that will make you happy.

*I read "Flip" (Slip, #3) by David Estes.

14. Brotherly Love - This term connotes having a feeling of love for your neighbor, because all humanity is considered to be part of a larger family of human beings.
Read a book that a friend has recommended.

15. Tough Love - This term is used to describe a love that is expressed by setting boundaries for the good of the other person.
Read a book that has the word tough or love in the title.

I would have gotten more done, but the move slowed down my reading, and I got given several books in exchange for reviews, so I didn't read all the books I planned to last month. I did read some great ones... They just didn't work for this challenge.


It's Saint Patrick's Day tomorrow.

Now, I don't personally celebrate it - though I do have Irish ancestry - but I know plenty of people do. If you're one of those people... Did you know that you're celebrating the myth, not the man?

I'm not saying you shouldn't continue to celebrate it; celebrate what you like. You should know what you're celebrating though. It's always good to have all the facts before deciding anything, and I for one think deciding what holidays to celebrate is no exception.


I made this knitted cat around the start of the year:

I wasn't sure what to do with it at first, but when I mentioned it to my Mam, she said she wanted it. So, I gave it to her for Mothers' Day - along with the yellow bear I knitted at the end of last year.

Despite having knitted it a couple of months ago, it took until just before it went in the box to go to my Mam to get a photo arranged for it. I know, I know... But there has been a lot going on with the move, in my defence!


I've also made a knitted dog, but it doesn't have eyes yet, and is currently packed in a box, so won't be getting its eyes just yet. I'll get Kelly to take a photo of it when it's unpacked and has eyes.

In the meantime, I'm knitting a couple of blankets for people. They're going to be gifts, but they were requested. One is for my Mam, and she'll be having it for her birthday. The other is for my Grandma, and she'll be having it for Christmas. So, that gives me until the end of November to get them knitted, so as to give time to get them sent in time (Mam's birthday is just before Christmas). Mam's blanket is almost half done already, actually.


In other - and less cheerful - news...

Sir Terry Pratchett died last week.

He was one of my favourite authors, and it's sad to think he'll never write another book again.

Rest in peace, Terry Pratchett!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Furkid Friday - March 13th 2015

Hello all. This is Jasper.

We've had lots of storms lately... I HATE storms! They're very loud, and very scary!

The Mummy human says there's no reason to be afraid, and that she used to be until she got bigger and braver.

No reason to be afraid? Yeah, right... Whatever!

Look, I'm a degu... I'm not an idiot!

I watch TV, and I've seen TV shows that show some of the damage storms make; the humans say some aren't real, but they admit others are. I also listen to the radio, where I've also heard about damage from storms; some of it in our area.

Yet the humans say I shouldn't be afraid? Are they insane?

I will never stop being afraid of storms! I'll also never understand humans!

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - March 11th 2015

I did get a bit more writing time in during this past week, though I admit most of it was yesterday.

I hope to have something more exciting to say about my writing soon; now that the move is over. But, in the meantime...

Do you want to encourage children to read? If so, participate in March-ing books to kids and donate some books. Or, if you aren't able to donate any, just spread the word, and encourage your friends to do so.

Are you a fan of books in the Young Adult genre? If so, you might be interested in the adventures in YA publishing blog. It's full of author interviews, information about new releases in the genre, and sometimes even giveaways.

Here's an interesting post I spotted recently... It's aimed at teachers trying to encourage children to write, but the amazing cure for students that won't write contains tips that could potentially be tweaked to work for any reluctant writer; including yourself, with a bit of thought and creativity.

I've known about this one for a while, but don't remember posting about it on my blog... If you're a gamer, you should check out Paizo's website (if you haven't already). It's a good source for people who like to use the Pathfinder roleplaying system. Fantasy writers may also find it a potentially useful resource for information on some of the creatures that may appear in their books.

In honour of World Book Day, which was last week; March 5th, to be exact - and which I meant to mention in last Wednesday's post, but forgot - here are some interesting book related facts you might like to read. The same site posted these 30 interesting facts about books and 10 words every book lover should know posts. Two of the three links in this paragraph are old posts, but I figured I'd post them anyway, since I've never put them on my blog, so they may be new to you.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Monday's random mutterings - March 9th 2015

My degu buddies are two years old today.

Can you believe it?

It seems like only yesterday we were bringing them home, and now they're two years old, and more than twice the size they were then!

I still remember the day we brought them home; they practically exploded out of the top of the box they'd been put in for transportation from the petstore when we opened it. Well, Jacob, Joshua, and Jenks did, anyway. Jasper was too scared; he always was the more easily frightened and upset of all the boys, and stayed huddled in a corner of the box until I lifted him out. Poor little guy!

Anyway, they've been an entertaining addition to our family. Though, I have to admit, they can be quite a handful sometimes - well, OK, I admit it... Most of the time - and are just as stubbourn as they were as babies - if not more so - and still only do things when it suits them... So, not much different from humans, LOL!

Anyway, happy 2nd birthday, Jacob, Jasper, Jenks, and Joshua!

Speaking of Jacob...

It's also the birthday of one of my cover artists, Jacob (the one who drew Zeena the faerie dragon) on March 12th.

So, happy birthday, Jacob!

And, while we're on the subject of birthdays...

My brother, Wayne, has his birthday coming up on March 15th.

So, a very happy birthday to you too, Wayne!

Yeah, I know... A lot of birthdays this week!


Mothers' Day - or "Mothering Sunday" - is on a different date in the UK to other countries; for some reason we just have to be different.

Anyway, this year Mothers' Day here in the UK will be on March 15th... This coming Sunday.

So, happy Mothers' Day to my Mam, and to any other Mothers who read this; be you in the UK or not!


It took until Saturday morning for me to have a working phone.

Yes... Really!

I got a message from them Tuesday saying they'd left me a message on my phone's answer service. A message which, of course, I didn't get, due to the phone not working. They also asked me for another number so they could call me... Despite my having told them in the original fault report that I had no other phone; hence me contacting them via Twitter.

To cut a long story short, what followed was a few days of back and forth between me and the phone company - both by e-mail and on Twitter - with several dozen checks of the phone and its wires in between, because they kept saying it was fixed, and asking me to check it again.

Anyway, I ended up with a new number, even though I only moved about four blocks, and was told I could take my old one with me. But, to be honest, I care more about having a phone that works, than the minor inconvenience of needing to give out a new phone number. And, hey, at least they gave me another one that's simple, so easy to remember.

Plus, I got a message this morning telling me I'm going to get compensation for the time I was paying line rental for a phone I couldn't use, which makes me feel a little better about it.

So, anyway, all's well that ends well when it comes to the phone issue.


I FINALLY have an appointment to go to the hospital about my tooth!

I know... It's a miracle!

The appointment letter arrived during the move; just as well really, because I was having trouble getting hold of them to give them our change of address. I even left a message for them to get back to me, but they didn't return my call. Or, maybe they did, but took so long that the number I gave them no longer worked by the time they called? *Shrugs* I'll probably never know, and will try not to lose sleep ofer wondering about the answer to that one... I mean, I lose sleep over enough as it is, LOL!

Anyway, the appointment is for ten days from today... March 19th. I've got to be at the hospital for just after 9:00am... Good thing the hospital isn't far from where we live. Though I'll still be up really early anyway, I expect, since I sleep even worse than normal if I know I need to get up early the next morning. That's why - when I have a choice - I try to make appointments for either late in the morning, or some time in the afternoon; preferably the latter! I also like to try and avoid rush hour traffic, which won't be an option this time... Getting to the hospital in rush hour traffic is going to be fun... NOT!

Oh, well... At least I FINALLY have an appointment.


Interested in herbalism/traditional medicine?

Check out this post on some of the things peppermint can be used for.

The essential herbal blog also has interesting posts about the uses of other herbs; they do a herb of the week feature, so it's worth following them... Especially if you have an interest in herbalism/traditional medicine, or like to cook with a variety of seasonings.

And, no, they aren't paying me to promote their blog - though it would be nice if they did, LOL! I just think it's a cool site.


This has been all over the news, so you'll probably already know about it; unless you've been hiding under a rock for a little over a week... In which case: well done for getting up the courage to crawl out from under your rock!

But,anyway... In all seriousness... Because it is a serious matter.

Leonard Nimoy - Spock of Star Trek - died at the end of February.

Very sad news indeed! Though not entirely unexpected, since he's been ill for some time.

I'm pleased to be able to say that he did, at least, make it to a decent age; he was 83. Not that making it to a decent age makes it easier on those who were close to him, I suppose. But perhaps the knowledge that he led a long and full life will give them a little comfort? I hope it will...

Rest in peace, Mr Spock!

Friday, March 06, 2015

Furkid Friday - March 6th 2015

Hi humans, fellow rodent types, and anyone else reading this.

This is Jenks... One of the degu brothers.

I don't know why, but we moved to a whole other place. The humans didn't even bother to ask us if we wanted to! They just started talking about "new flat" and packing everything up. Naturally, we assumed it was one of those weird things humans do that had nothing to do with us, so we ignored it all.

We were wrong!

First stuff started to disappear, which was strange. Then the Mummy human vanished. She said something about seeing us later - so we assumed she was going for a nap or something - but morning came and she didn't come and see us. Jacob and Jasper got upset at this point; even more so when they squealed and she didn't come and check on them. But no matter how much they squealed, the Mummy human didn't come.

Joshua and I figured she'd show up eventually, but what actually happened was that a blanket was put over most of our cage, and then it got taken out in to the cold, then we were shoved in a taxi - like when we came from that "petstore" place - and bounced about a bit; which Joshua and I found annoying, because we were trying to play, and the coconut shell I was spinning kept lodging under the wheel Joshua was trying to run on. Jacob and Jasper shut up for the journey, so that was a good thing... They were too busy trying to out-stare the taxi driver, and look around at everything they could see through the parts of the cage not covered by the blanket.

I'm not sure where the taxi actually took us, but the Mummy human was there, so that pleased Jacob and Jasper. Unfortunately, we then had a long time of mine and Joshua's play time continuing to be disrupted by the cage being bumped about, because there were lots and lots of steps for the humans to take us up, and every time we thought they were done it turned out they were just resting.

When we finally got to the top - which took forever - they took the blanket off our cage, and we saw clearly that we were in a whole other room. At first it was just us and the Mummy human, but later our gerbil brothers and ratty sisters were brought in to the room too.

This "new flat" place seems nice. It's more spacious than the other place, not to mention warmer; especially now we have our tables back, so our cages are off the floor. There's a strange noise we hear all the time though. The Mummy human says it's the sound of something called "the ocean" and that we didn't notice it before because we were in the living room of the old place, and you could only just hear it from the bedroom of that place (and then only if you opened the window, the ocean was rough, and everything else was absolutely silent). We can hear it always hear though... Even with the windows closed, and our radio on.

Bilbo and Skye didn't like the whole moving thing, but the rest of us were only bothered about the fact our tables didn't come for lots of days, so our cages were down on the floor where anything could get at us.

Well, there was one time Jasper got upset. But it was because of a big storm a couple of nights after we got here... Jasper's never liked storms though, so that would have happened whether we'd been moved or not.

Anyway, even Bilbo and Skye are starting to settle down from being moved now; they were both very scared! Skye hardly came out of hiding for the first week, and Bilbo went off his food and stamped a lot. The humans were a bit worried - more about Bilbo than anything, since at least Skye was eating (though possibly only because Star was taking food down to their house for her). But now Skye is coming out to play again (as well as fetching her own food) and Bilbo is eating again.

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - March 4th 2015

I managed to sneak a bit of writing time in during the move, though not as much as I'd hoped to, and then I came back online to find a huge pile of e-mails that wanted my attention, which meant I didn't get much writing time in over the past few days either.

Not to mention all the potential writing time I've been wasting waiting for e-mail and Twitter responses from the phone company throughout most of this past week. But that's a whole other story.

Alright... I admit it... I could have gotten a bit more writing time in if I spent a bit less time reading. But, honestly, some days I really didn't want to do anything more than lay on the sofa with a book after I was done with what I needed to do that day; especially after being sat at the computer for hours waiting for replies from the phone company. Not to mention the fact a couple of the books I read were excellent, so I was eager to pick them up again after I had to put them down.

Besides, I got a couple of poems written, got the final editing phase of "Home Squeak Home" completely finnished, and made some progress with the first book in the "Zeena Dragon Fae" series. So, I do have something to show for the bits and pieces of writing and editing time I managed to fit in over the past two weeks.

I'm happy with that. If you're a writer too, are you a happy writer? I hope so! :)

Whether you are or not, and whether your writing is limited to blog posts, or status updates on Facebook and Twitter, or you're a professional author, you should check out these Daily Writing Tips; the tips may help you figure out those grey areas in your grammar, or other aspects of your writing.


I posted about this yesterday, but... Just in case you missed it...

It's read an ebook week, and some of my books are on sale on Smashwords to celebrate!

Use the coupon code RW100 at checkout to get the following books for free:
Kero Goes Walkies (Kero's World, #1) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/312873
Lonely Little Princess http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/487579
The Forgotten Angel http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/490915
Toby's New World (Toby's Tales, #1) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/229561
Witchlet (Magical Chapters Trilogy, #1) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/167766

Use the coupon code RAE75 at checkout to get the following books for 75% off their regular price:
A Magical Storm (Magical Chapters Trilogy, #3) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303746
Asha's Big Adventure http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/341799
Cubby And The Beanstalk http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/459061
Jinx And The Faerie Dragons http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/447528
The Pineapple Loving Dragon (Magical Chapters Trilogy, #2) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260695
Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/492449

Use the coupon code RAE50 at checkout to get the following books for 50% of their regular price:
Bluebell The Fairy Guide http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/204414
The Great Degu Round-Up (Degu Days Duo, #1) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/385933
Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/459076

Sale ends March 7th 2015

Don't forget: there are plenty of other authors offering their books at discount prices, so this might be your chance to find a new favourite author without breaking the bank. But, remember, you only have until Saturday!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Read an ebook week 2015 - SALE now on!

It's read an ebook week, and some of my books are on sale on Smashwords to celebrate!

Use the coupon code RW100 at checkout to get the following books for free:
Kero Goes Walkies (Kero's World, #1) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/312873
Lonely Little Princess http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/487579
The Forgotten Angel http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/490915
Toby's New World (Toby's Tales, #1) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/229561
Witchlet (Magical Chapters Trilogy, #1) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/167766

Use the coupon code RAE75 at checkout to get the following books for 75% off their regular price:
A Magical Storm (Magical Chapters Trilogy, #3) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303746
Asha's Big Adventure http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/341799
Cubby And The Beanstalk http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/459061
Jinx And The Faerie Dragons http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/447528
The Pineapple Loving Dragon (Magical Chapters Trilogy, #2) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260695
Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/492449

Use the coupon code RAE50 at checkout to get the following books for 50% of their regular price:
Bluebell The Fairy Guide http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/204414
The Great Degu Round-Up (Degu Days Duo, #1) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/385933
Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/459076

Sale ends March 7th 2015

Don't forget: there are plenty of other authors offering their books at discount prices, so this might be your chance to find a new favourite author without breaking the bank. But, remember, you only have until Saturday!

Monday, March 02, 2015

Monday's random mutterings - March 2nd 2015 (kinda LBE & FD)

We're all moved in to the new place, and hand the keys in for the old place on Wednesday, which gives us a couple more days to make sure everything's as clean as it's humanly possible to make it before the keys are handed over. Not that it was really messy, but we want to do all we can to get our deposit back, which means cleaning things that don't really need cleaning... Even though we know for a fact that our work will count for nothing, because the new owners are tearing the place apart to do some serious renovating; we heard it from their own mouths on more than one ocasion. But it's the estate agents who decide about the deposit, not the new owners, so we have to do all we can - despite the new owners insisting it's not necessary.


We were messed about a bit by the first movers we called, and wasted a lot of time back and forth with them before ending up going to someone else. To cut a long story short, the guy kept being confused as to whether I wanted him to come and get stuff to get rid of, or move stuff to a different property, and also seemed to struggle with exactly where we were. Changing companies turned out to be a good thing though, because the replacement guys were excellent, and also a lot cheaper.

We're using the money we saved on the movers to buy a tumble dryer, because we don't have one; I was using either a washing line or the airer, but we don't have a washing line (or anywhere to put one) and won't need to put the heaters on for so long here (partially because we benifit from having people living below us, and heat rises, and partially because the old place had storage heaters but the new one has proper central heating) so we'd struggle to keep up with drying laundry without a tumble dryer.

Other than Skye and Bilbo - who really didn't like the moving one bit - the rodent gang mostly did OK with the move, though they were all a little unsettled; especially when I went on ahead the night before. Jenks is all set to tell you about that on Friday though.

The rodent gang and I went to the new place a bit sooner than planned, because I managed to twist my knee, and we figured I should rest it as much as possible - especially since I was getting in the way more than anything with packing up the last of the stuff from the old place. The funny thing about it is that it didn't happen on the flight of stairs from our old basement apartment to street level, nor on the three flights of stairs up to our new one. No. It happened in a place where there were three lousy steps in town. That's right... All those times I'd been up and down four flights of stairs, and nothing. I do three steps, and twist my knee... And not even my bad one either! Go figure! The stupid thing is, if people communicated properly we wouldn't even have needed to do those steps, since we only went that way because it was the quickest way to go between offices of the local council, who we needed to file some paperwork with. You see, we went to the building where those papers were dealt with when we moved in to the old place a little over three years ago, only to be told they'd moved that department to their other building half way across town a little over a year ago, but not thought to let anyone know. So, I blame the council for my twisted knee!

When we put money on the gas meter, we discovered the person who'd been here before had obviously had an unpaid bill or something, which we ended up unintentionally paying for them. So, we mentioned it to the company, and they said we'd get a refund. We're still trying to get that sorted out though. OK, it's only £10 (about $20) and that's not too bad as such. But... 1, it's our money, and not our bill. 2, it's money we could do without losing, since every penny counts during a move; just because we saved money on the moving company, it doesn't mean we have some to be throwing about paying bills for other people. And 3, that's about a week of gas, or - to put it another way - a week of hot water and heating. Mainly though I just want it back because it's my money, and they said they'd give it back, so since they said they would, then they should!

We need to get someone to come and look at the TV aerial. The end had been snipped off for some reason instead of being removed properly, and though the maintenance guy put a new piece on for us, the connection isn't very good, and the box is struggling to find and maintain signal. It's not a big deal, since we don't watch TV much anyway. But we do need to get it sorted, since the box is useless without signal, and I would like to have the option to watch TV if I want.

We also need to get a curtain rail put up in the spare room, and get a shower curtain and rail for it put up in the bathroom. We would have also needed to buy curtains for a couple of other windows, but I was talking to the people who brought the old place about needing curtains, and next thing I know they show up with a couple of pairs of curtains for us. which was very nice of them, and something we're very greatful to them for doing!

Anyway, there's also been the issue with the phone, which you may have seen mentioned in the comments section of Bilbo's post from Friday? The internet started working on the day it was meant to (Thursday) but the phone did not. I spent a couple of hours back and forth with someone from the phone company on Twitter on Friday, because I had no other way to contact them about it, and was told it would take "up to 48 hours" to sort out, or "up to 72 hours" if they were busy. So, we had no phone all weekend, and - unless things have changed between when I started this post, and when it actually gets published - we still have no phone. So, it's looking like it's back on Twitter to talk to them again in a couple of hours. *Sigh*

Other than that, the move went well.

There are a few small maintenance issues the guys need to come back and do, because they haven't had a chance (not helped by the fact they couldn't come last Wednesday as they'd have been in the way of the movers). They got almost everything done before we moved in though, and even put rails on the places there weren't any by the stairs. It was something the landlords hadn't given a thought to before, since there are walls on both sides of the stairs, but when I mentioned that I'd feel safer on the stairs if there were rails - which I mentioned when we were looking at the place originally - the landlord immediately said they'd get some arranged for me. We met the maintenance guys the Monday morning after we got the keys, and by that evening they'd put rails everywhere there were stairs and no rails (which was my statement to them when they asked where I needed rails). So, between the rails and my cane, the stairs are about as safe for me as stairs can be.

I think there are always a few minor issues that need to get sorted out when you move in to a place though, and happen to think we've been lucky with how few issues we've had to deal with; past experiences with moving have taught me that there's plenty of room for issues during a move.

The new place isn't all that far from the old one, and is actually closer to the places we go regularly. Two of our three favourite cafes (the one we used to take Kero to, and the one where we had our photo taken at the end of last year) are very close, and the post office, the fruit and veg shop, the bakery I like, and a couple of local stores are within a block or so of us (mostly under a block, though a couple of the local stores are further than a block away) and we've halfed the distance between us and both the train station and the other cafe we like. One of the closer cafes is so close we can just about see it from one of our windows (if it wasn't for the angle, we'd see it perfectly).

On top of that, we're so close to the ocean that we can see it from half of our windows, and hear it regardless of what room we're in; even with the windows closed. A fact that confused the rodent gang a lot in the first couple of days we had them here (I think they've already gotten used to it though)

This new place is a little bigger than the old place, and set out better so that it seems bigger still. I think the fact we have more light up here probably helps make the place look bigger too. That's the impression I get, anyway.

The kitchen isn't much bigger than our old one, but is organized better so seems it. The illusion of a larger kitchen is also encouraged by the fact the kitchen opens out in to what's supposed to be a living room/dining room, but for us is a living room/rodent room, which is a bit bigger than the living room we had in the old place (which served as living room, rodent room, and computer room).

Our bedroom is about the same size as our bedroom in the old place, but is more square, so seems a little bigger. The second bedroom is about twice the size of the one from the old place, so we've made it a computer room/office (the old one was more of a storage room, since it was one of those little box rooms with just about enough space to get a single bed and a dresser in, so by the time we put a few shelves and things in there it was pretty much full).

This place also has a sort of utility area just outside the bathroom for the washer and dryer. The bathroom's a tiny bit bigger than the old one, though the extra space is more because it's set out better. It also has a bigger bath, and a shower over the bath (the old one just had a bath, and one that was made for hobbits at that).

In short... Though we didn't really want/plan to move, there are many good points about us having done so.

I'm not great with measurements, so can't really tell you how big each room is. I've promised a couple of people photos once we're settled in though, so "hopefully" that will happen soon, and you can see for yourself. Though you can't compare the places well yourself, because I don't have any proper photos of the old place; you might have seen bits of it when I've shared other photos, but we never bothered to take proper photos of the place.

Despite my attempts at keeping things brief, this post is growing rapidly, and I think this has gotten long enough, so I'll let it do.

Any questions? If so, feel free to ask, and I'll either answer, or give you a good reason why I can't - or won't - answer your question.