Saturday, May 30, 2015

Katrina Cope

Katrina is a quiet, bordering on shy, person until relaxed with company or after a couple of her favourite reds (Yes, that is all it takes).

She resides in Queensland Australia and is a loyal friend once you pass the barrier. Her three teen/preteen boys and husband of over fifteen years treat her like a princess. Unfortunately though, this princess still has to do domestic chores. 

She holds a 2nd Dan in Taekwondo, which she likes to incorporate the experience into her stories. When she has enough time away from her writing to commit to training, she will be going for her 3rd Dan. 

From birth, she has been a very creative person and has spent many years travelling the world and observing many different personalities and cultures. Her favourite personalities have been the strange ones yet the ones under the radar also hold a place in her heart. During her last extensive travels, she spent 16 nights in a bomb shelter on a Kibbutz 8 kilometers off the Lebanese border. It was to avoid Katyusha bombs that the resident volunteers decided to name her after (she is still trying to work out why).  

PS. Do NOT try to scare her in a dark alleyway even as a joke. Just saying!

Author links:
http://katrenee11.wix.com/katrina-cope-author
https://www.facebook.com/Author.Katrina.Cope
http://www.amazon.com/Katrina-Cope/e/B00F00JF9M/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7265107.Katrina_Cope
https://twitter.com/k_copefunread

Katrina's books:

The Afterlife Series (YA Urban Fantasy)

Fledgling (Afterlife #1)
http://www.amazon.com/Fledgling-Book-Afterlife-Katrina-Cope-ebook/dp/B00XEPYDRY/

Blurb:
"The earth as we know it is changing. Each day, unknown forces are taking over the human race. Evil is growing stronger, and innocence is the victim. If
not stopped, the future of humankind is bleak. 

With current protection angels being stretched past their limits, a new wave of protection is being developed. A new breed of angel is being trained to
fight. 

Fledgling is one of them. She did not ask for this life. After living three short lives as a human, she was chosen. With a mind of an eighteen-year-old, she struggles to adapt to her new life surrounded by angelic rules.

All contact with her past life is ruled prohibited, and romance outlawed. Yet she still finds herself torn between her kind-hearted trainee friend, who has gorgeous blue wings with matching eyes, and the love of her human lives. Her human love is on the verge of either joining the angels or becoming lost to her forever. She is forbidden to intervene. 

Despite her qualms, she is passionate about saving the innocent. Will she be able to place aside her struggles in order to fulfil her passion and new life, or will she become exiled from succumbing to her temptations?"

The Sanctum Series (Preteen Spy Thriller/Sci-fi)

Jayden & the Mysterious Mountain (The Sanctum Series #1):
http://www.amazon.com/Jayden-Mysterious-Mountain-Book-Sanctum-ebook/dp/B00EYSKMF2/

Blurb:
"When a rich grandfather figure, strangely appears in the dark street, to rescue the young boy Jayden from homelessness, a life better than his dreams has come true. He is taken to a five star hotel - no, actually a school called The Sanctum, camouflaged in the mountains. The students build and operate high tech equipment, including surrogate robots all to fight against terrorism. Or are they?

By the way, you don’t want to annoy Scarlet who runs the general operations of the building. She is one cheeky AI and plays nasty if you cross her."

Scarlet's Escape (The Sanctum Series #2):
http://www.amazon.com/Scarlets-Escape-Book-2-Sanctum-ebook/dp/B00L8KYSUO/

Blurb:
"Over a year has passed since Avando rescued Jayden from homelessness. Strange things are happening within The Sanctum, and their movements to fight terrorism are continually being jeopardised. 

Secrets are discovered at Ernest State College. On the surface, they appear to be working for the good side, but what are they hiding? 

What’s up with Scarlet? Has she blown her mainframe?" 

Taylor's Plight (The Sanctum Series #3)
http://www.amazon.com/Taylors-Plight-Book-Sanctum-Series-ebook/dp/B00N6N9XFQ/

Blurb:
"THE ACTION INCREASES AS THE PLOT THICKENS. 

Taylor, the renowned bully of Jayden and his friends, has been acting peculiar. He had disappeared for a couple of days, then reappeared and went on a rampage. 

Meanwhile, Scarlet is having the fight of a lifetime. She is under attack from an experienced hacker. Will she be able to fight them off? 

Mysterious things are found at Ernest State College that have nothing to do with who Dr Ernest is tracking. Brendan, the surrogate, goes on a field trip with Hayley, Liam and Dryden. What they discover rocks Brendan’s world and significantly changes the future."

Eric & the Black Axes (The Sanctum Series #4)
http://www.amazon.com/Eric-Black-Axes-Sanctum-Series-ebook/dp/B00R5HS5PS/

Blurb:
"THE EVIL PROFESSOR WAS NOT BLUFFING. HE HAS FOUND AN ALLY. 

Will the two schools unite to fight the organisers of terrorism, or will the secrets of each school cause them to fight each other? 

What mischief will Scarlet get up to with her new toy?"

Friday, May 29, 2015

Furkid Friday - May 29th 2015

Hi humans, rodents, and anyone of any other species who happens to be reading this post.

This is Jacob the degu. It was meant to be my turn to do one of these bloggy post things last week, but the Mummy human wanted to post about the pet section her website now has, so I agreed to let her do that first.

My degu brothers and I have decided to allow the humans to pet us a little more, and to ask for cuddles a bit more often; something the humans have been trying to persuade us to agree to for some time.

It's not that we don't like being petted and cuddled; we do. But we like to be on our own four paws as much as possible, and prefer nibbles to petting.

However, we've been watching our ratty sisters getting petted and cuddled, and thought it looked kinda nice. So, we figured we'd get in on all the attention too.

Jasper and I especially have been making a huge effort to encourage the humans to give us attention.

And, you know what?

It feels really good!

We've been missing out these past couple of years with our insistance on only tolerating a little petting, and only wanting cuddles when the humans absolutely insist, or something scary or upsetting happened.

I'm glad we saw how much our ratty sisters were loving it, and realized we were missing out on something so good.

Squeak soon,
Jacob

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - May 27th 2015

I did a better job of getting my writing time in during this past week, despite computer issues, and being busy arranging for my books to become available in print.

I'm able to do the interior files myself (now that I've figured out how to do so) and Iggy is very kindly helping me with the cover files, since doing so is impossible for me with lack of sight.

Thanks so much for helping, Iggy... I really appreciate it!

So... I'm now waiting for a stack of proof copies of my books to arrive. They will be available to buy after they're approved to be sent out in to the big wide world, which will happen once they get here, and I can get Kelly to take a look for me to make sure there aren't any issues that need fixing (there shouldn't be, but you never know). How long this will take is anyone's guess at the moment, since it depends how long the proofs take to arrive, and whether they need anything done (which would mean fixing the issue, and then ordering a new proof copy).

I'll give you details of where you can buy them once the first books become available.

For now though... Time for those writing links...

So... How many tools are in your writing toolbox?

Do you feel your story is too short? Well, here are 5 ways to stretch your word count, which should help you make it a bit longer.

Trying to decide if you should start doing author interviews? Here are 10 reasons why you should interview your fellow fiction authors. I've never interviewed another author, though I do often do author or book spotlights; especially if it's an author I like. However, I have been interviewed by several authors myself, and am generally happy to accept interview invitations from people if they ask me directly. Oh, speaking of author spotlights though... Come back on Saturday for one I'm putting up for another author.

Staying on the theme of learning about an author for the moment... This article gives some tips on writing and placing your author biographies - useful if you're not sure what to put in that "about the author" box, on the profile page of your website, etc.

Also, here's some advice on how to promote your books, but keep your friends.

Finally, always remember: keep cracking yourself open, because - while doing so may not guarantee you'll be a best seller - it will increase the chances that those who read your book will love it, and that they'll not only come back for more, but also talk to their friends about your book.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Heroika 1 - Dragon Eaters



The art of dragon killing:

Dragons have been eating humans for centuries. Now heroes throughout history stalk their legendary foe. Learn how to hunt, kill, and eat the wild dragon. Never before has revenge tasted so good. A literary feast for the bloody-minded.

In Janet Morris' anthology on the art of dragon killing, seventeen writers bring you so close to dragons you can smell their fetid breath. Tales for the bold among you.

HEROIKA 1 -- DRAGON EATERS, an anthology of heroic fiction edited by Janet Morris, features original stories by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, S. E. Lindberg, Jack William Finley, Travis Ludvigson, Tom Barczak, J. P. Wilder, Joe Bonadonna, Milton Davis, Alexandra Butcher, William Hiles, M Harold Page, Walter Rhein, Cas Peace, Beth Waggoner Patterson, Bruce Durham, and Mark Finn.



Check out this U-tube link: http://youtu.be/JbmtCQJsKIU

Grab your copy today, from Amazon.com or Amazon UK, or Amazon Canada.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Why I'm happy and sad at the same time

Yesterday was our 12th wedding anniversary.

I'm not sure how Kelly's managed to put up with me for so many years, but I'm glad he has.

We were going to celebrate by going to see the new Avengers movie before it stops showing in our nearest movie theatre, since we both want to see it; we enjoyed the first Avengers movie, so figure we've got a good chance of enjoying the second. But I'm waiting for a delivery that might have come yesterday, and couldn't take the chance of missing it. So, we just had a quiet day at home with some take-away, and will get the movie on DVD when it comes out.

Besides, I'm kind of torn between being happy that we've just celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary, and being sad because we always celebrated our anniversary and Kero's birthday as one big celebration... Until this year, of course.

You see, today would have been Kero's 11th birthday.

Kelly brought Kero for me for our first anniversary. Well, I had him late, but that was because we had to find the perfect puppy for me, and wait for him to be ready. But he was still an anniversary gift from Kelly... My gorgeous Westie boy! Though I mostly just called him "Kero" is name was actually Keroberous, which means loyal protector... And there never was a more loyal dog than my Kero.

Chance was an anniversary gift too; I got him two years later. I was supposed to have had Dakoda (Chocolate Point Siamese cat) but ended up with Chance (Oriental cat) instead. Actually, that's how come Chance got his name... Because we got him by Chance. That wasn't his official title on his GCCF papers, but it was what we called him most. Though I did use his "real" name of Silva Flame sometimes; especially for vet trips, and when he was naughty.

My boys were the best gifts anyone could have ever had, and I miss them more than words could ever express.

So, while I'm happy to be able to celebrate 12 years with my wonderful hubby - who's been through a lot with me, and put up with a lot from me - I'm also sad that my boys are no longer here to help us celebrate.

Don't get me wrong, I miss the other furry, feathered, and scaled family members we've lost too. But my boys were special to me, and I always had a closer bond with them than with any of our other babies... Especially with Kero, who would howl as if the world was ending whenever I left him to go anywhere he couldn't come.

Rest in peace my beloved boys, and know you're never far from my thoughts, and always in my heart.

Also, happy anniversary to Kelly... Thank you for giving me the gift of our boys, and for putting up with me for 12 years.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Furkid Friday: the pet section is up! (kinda LBE)

The pet section of our website is completed at last!

There's not very much information on some of the pets, but all the following pets are featured:

Birds:
Squalker AKA Snowy
Rosie
Diamond
Gem
Charlie's Angel

Cats:
Third Time Lucky AKA Lucky
Samantha AKA "Katie The Kitten"
Treacle Topping Sparkles Moglyn AKA Topsi
Shadow
Tinkerbell AKA Tinkers
Sakura Avalon
Ayla Malaika
Megan Zara Rose
Myskanco Dakoda Diero AKA Koda
Myscanco Chance Silva Flame AKA Chance
Cara Crookeshanks

Degus:
Luna
Jacob
Jasper
Jenks
Joshua

Dogs:
Bella Shadow-Thorn
Castellan Keroberous AKA Kero
Jayde Bramblerose
Lucy Blackthorn

Fish:
Bill
Ben
Angel
Smash
Snatch
Bert
Kian
Katie
Comet
Seren
Nemo
Flounder
Alpha
Bravo
Alex
Cody
Blue

Gerbils:
Bilbo
Baggins

Guinea Pigs:
Gwydion

Hamsters:
Teddy
Sampson Jamie AKA Sammy
Jessica Marie AKA Jessie
Hugo De Hamsta
Hamlet De Hammie
Butterscotch Pudding AKA Butters
Mr. Sirius Black

Rabbits:
Bubbles
Samhain Magik
Little Shiloh
Stew Pot AKA Stewie

Rats:
Skye
Star

(Yes, I name fish; I name pretty much everything, so if you're surprised, you obviously haven't had time to get to know me properly yet, LOL!)

To read about any of the animals listed in this post, and to see photos of those we have photos of, check out the pet section linked to above, or - for the direct links to pages for the species in question - follow the links below:

Birds: http://www.zigler.co.uk/birdss.htm
Cats: http://www.zigler.co.uk/cats.htm
Degus: http://www.zigler.co.uk/degus.htm
Dogs: http://www.zigler.co.uk/dogss.htm
Fish: http://www.zigler.co.uk/fish.htm
Gerbils: http://www.zigler.co.uk/gerbils.htm
Guinea Pigs: http://www.zigler.co.uk/guineapigs.htm
Hamsters: http://www.zigler.co.uk/hamsterss.htm
Rabbits: http://www.zigler.co.uk/rabbits.htm
Rats: http://www.zigler.co.uk/rats.htm

If you have anything you'd like to ask about any of the pets, which I didn't cover in the write-ups about each of them, ask away. I'll answer if I can, or provide a reason why I can't if I'm unable to do so; even if that reason is that I don't remember.

***

I feel sad seeing the number of pets we ended up rehoming for one reason or another; I miss them all, and hope they understand that I did what I thought was best for them at the time, and it wasn't always my choice to make.

I miss those who have crossed the rainbow bridge too; especially my boys, Chance and Kero. Rest in peace furry, feathered, and scaled friends!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - May 20th 2015

Great news for those of you who prefer paperback books: I'm in the process of arranging for my books to be available in paperback!

It might take a while - since I have quite a long backlist to get sorted - but it's happening, thanks to a very good friend's help.

I'll give you more details on this soon though, since all I can really tell you right now is that it's happening as quickly as possible.

***

In case you missed my post about it on Thursday, I did a guest post, titled "From Idea To EBook, which was published on New Author Online last Wednesday (May 13th 2015).

I also did another guest post on the same blog, which I posted about on Sunday... The same day it went up. This one is all about writing tools I've used; from when I was a child and could still see to read the scribbled stories I wrote in pencil, to more recent writing tools.

***

In the past couple of weeks, I've not only been writing guest posts, and starting to sort things for arranging paperback versions of my books, but I've also finished the editing of "Zeena And The Dryad" and pre-released the eBook version of it via Smashwords.

That's right... The first "Zeena Dragon Fae" book is coming soon!

The official release date is June 6th 2015.

I've not made much progress with writing the second book in the series yet, because I honestly haven't had time to sit down and write it. I mean, between finishing up sorting "Zeena And The Dryad" and getting that pre-released, and starting to arrange things to get my backlist of books in print... Well, you get the idea, I'm sure.

OK... I admit it... I could have spent a bit less time reading so as to get more writing time in. But, honestly, I have read less than normal in the past couple of weeks. Besides, after spending several hours on the computer doing editing and formatting, I really need a break from sitting here. There's only so many hours a day you can sit at a computer before you've had enough. Know what I mean?

So... How about you? If you're a writer too, are you getting your writing time in? Or, are you struggling to write most days? If so, here's an article that will help you to improve your ability to concentrate; assuming that's your problem, since - for all I know - your problem might just be the one I've had in the past couple of weeks... Not enough hours in the day.

You know... When you do manage to get that writing done, it's not unusual to find yourself shouting "Help! My characters are all too similar!" If this is you, read the tips in that article.

Speaking of characters... As a reader, have you ever wondered why bad thhings happen to good characters sometimes? Or, if you're a writer, have you ever wondered if you're doing the right thing in allowing bad things to happen to your characters? Well, here's an article on Using book characters as fall guys - An author's perspective by Susan Day which might shed a little light on why it happens, and - perhaps - help you to decide if you did the right thing in allowing it to happen in your own book.

When I share these writing links, I hope you find them interesting, and that the ones full of tips help those of you who are writers; even if you only write on your blog. I mean, the learning process with any craft never really ends, does it? With that in mind, here's an article on 9 things I've learned about being an author. Well, not me personally - though I have learned many of them - but that's what the article is called, and I think it's worth a read.

I also think this article called "writing advice that no one wants to hear" is a great one, and happen to agree with the advice she gives in it.

No matter what though, always remember... Dream big!

What's the best way to support your favourite author? Do you know? If not, read the article, and it will tell you. Plus, here are 20 easy ways a reader can help promote a book.

Finally, here are 10 tips on how to survive in a relationship with a writer - just in case you happen to be in a relationship with one, and need some survival tips! The tips can apply to friends of writers too... Oh, and - just so you know - my favourite chocolate is white chocolate, though other types are acceptable too. *wink*

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday's random mutterings: our recipes (LBE & FD)

Did you know our website has a recipes section?

Well, it does!

The recipes are mainly simple ones, but - if you're interested - the recipes currently on the site are as follows:

Bread, Cakes And Biscuits:
Cookies
Jazz's Sandwich Bread
Weetabix Loaf Cake
Welsh Cakes
Chocolate Nests
Rice Krispy Cakes
Blueberry Crumb Cupcakes
Glazed Cinnamon Buns
Chunky Monkey Vegan Cake
Bread And Butter Pudding
Rock Cakes
Home-Made Pizza
Brown Sugar & Spice Shortbread
Carrot Cake
Fruit Scones
Cheese Scones
Caroline's Lime In The Coconut Cupcakes
Raisin & Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins
Alber's Sweet Corn Muffins/Bread
Pretzels
Disappearing Pretzel Wands
Melissa's Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Halloween Biscuits
Christmas Cake
Rise 'N' Shine Banana Bread
Nut Filled Cake
Flap Jacks
Cherry Coconut Biscuits
Australian Crunch
Snow Queen Cake

Chocolates And Sweets:
Peppermint Patties
Opera Fudge (White Fudge)
Truffle Hedgehogs
Peppermint Toads Or Chocolate Frogs
Banana Ghosts
Sugar Skulls Or Mice
Candied Apple Rings
Candied Fruits Or Nuts
Coconut Ice

Drinks And Smoothies:
Cafe Especial
Purple Ginger Gulps
Sherbet Punch
Solar Tea
Orange Jubilee
Basic Lemonade
Styxie's Smoothie
Dairy Free Fruit Smoothie
Stephy's Beta Carrot-ene Smoothie
Strawberry Yogurt Shakes
Maple Milk
Rosmerta's Butterbeer
Rosmerta's Pumpkin Juice
Pumpkin Shake
Witch's Brew
Wassail - The Traditional Yuletide Hot Drink
Alternative Wassail
Banana-Nog
Non-Alcaholic Egg-Nog
Redwall Strawberry Fizz
Mint Tea
Ambrose Spike's October Ale

Jams, Butters And Syrups:
Lavender Syrup From Mrs. B's Kitchen
Simple Homemade Butter
Raspberry Jam
Apple Syrup
Vegetarian And Vegan Foundation Nutty Banana Spread
Lemon/Orange Curd
Apple Butter
Chef Meg's Pumpkin-Apple Butter
Sweet Mince Pie Filling
Butter Icing
Orange Marmalade
Meadowcream
Honey And Elderberry Syrup
All-Purpose Cashew Cream: Plain, Sour, Or Sweet

Puddings And Sweet Pies:
Plum And Apple Compote With Spiced Yogurt
Rhubarb Crumble
Banana-Yogurt Ice-Cream
Gypsy Tart
The Perfect Orange Cone Head Dessert
Baked Apple
Apple & Banana Fritters
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Fluff
Sunflash's Sweet Oat Cakes
Simple Vegetarian Raspberry Trifle
Easy Cheesecake
Basic Vanilla Custard
Basic Rice Pudding

Sauces, Dressings And Chutneys:
Tomato Sauce
Peanut Satay Sauce
Cheese Sauce
Pesto
Apple Sauce
Plum And Ginger Sauce
Sweet And Sour Sauce
Hoisin Sauce
English Mint Sauce
Pumpkin Sage Sauce
Basic White Sauce
Spiced Apple And Plum Chutney
Honey Cream Cheese
Garlic Cheese Dressing
Orange Honey Dressing
Honey And Cinnamon Glaze
Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
Runner Bean Chutney
Oriental Dressing

Various Other Recipes:
Short Crust Pastry
Spinach Quiche
Sausage, Egg And Bacon Pie
Toad In The Hole
Cream Of Whatever Soup
Hummus
Traditional Waffles
Pancakes
Trail Mix
Pumpkin "Goop"
Pumpkin Pasties
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Chestnuts
Autumn Baked Omelette
Bubble And Squeak
Cranberry Nut Roast
Deeper 'N' Ever Pie
Gorgonzola Pear Pasta
Jyagatama
AliceKay's Macaroni Salad
Birds Nest Salad
Nancy's Broccoli Casserole
Curry
Somerset Minted Egg Pie
Stir Fried Asparagus And Sugar Snap Peas

Note that some recipes come with variations or serving suggestions, which are mentioned below the recipe itself on the page it appears on.

To check out the recipes, click on the link for the recipe section above, or go directly to the page for the catagory the recipe is under, by using the following links:

Bread, Cakes And Biscuits: http://zigler.co.uk/breadcakebiscuit.htm
Chocolates And Sweets: http://zigler.co.uk/chocolatesweet.htm
Drinks And Smoothies: http://zigler.co.uk/drinksmoothie.htm
Jams, Butters And Syrups: http://zigler.co.uk/jambuttersyrup.htm
Puddings And Sweet Pies: http://zigler.co.uk/puddingsweetpie.htm
Sauces, Dressings And Chutneys: http://zigler.co.uk/saucedressingchutney.htm
Various Other Recipes: http://zigler.co.uk/variousrecipe.htm

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Guest post: writing tools

I've done another guest post on New Author Online, which went up today.

This time the topic is writing tools; from early scribbles when I still had enough sight to use a pencil, to more recent writing tools.

If you want to read the post, just go to http://newauthoronline.com/2015/05/17/writing-tools-a-guest-post-by-victoria-tori-zigler/

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Giveaway for Cheetaka, Queen of Giants

Book title: Cheetaka, Queen of Giants
Author: Gita V. Reddy
Giveaway dates: May 11 - May 19, 2015
Copies available: 3
Countries available: US and GB

"Cheetaka, Queen of Giants, is a fantasy in Giant Land.

When nine year old Tara is hurtled into Giant Land, she is not the only one amazed. The giants also are astounded to see her because they believe human beings are fictitious creatures, found in story books. Cheetaka, the greatest queen of all times, takes Tara under her care. After six centuries of peace, the Giant Lands are in turmoil. King Druaka, and his cruel son Trimo are determined to rule over all the other kingdoms. Though ancient laws forbid magic, they raise an army of magicians. They believe that Tara is a powerful magician in human form, and want to capture her. Cheetaka has to stop them and also restore Tara to her world. What follows is danger, courage, and a fascinating journey home. And yes, fun, because Tara and the boy-giant Montek become great friends.

This book was first published as an ebook in 2014.

*Giveaway is for paperback copies."

The giveaway is being run by the author via Goodreads, so... To enter the giveaway, go here: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/137743-cheetaka-queen-of-giants

Friday, May 15, 2015

Furkid Friday - May 15th 2015

Hi humans, rodents, and readers of any other species. This is Jenks the degu.

My gerbil brother, Bilbo, ate part of the clip that holds his water bottle to his cage.

The humans weren't very pleased with him; especially since he decided to do this in the middle of the night, so they knew nothing about it until there was suddenly a loud *thump* as the water bottle fell off and hit the floor.

The humans have managed to be creative and make it work - for now - but my gerbil brothers will have to have a new water bottle, because the type it is won't work with the normal wires that hold water bottles on to cages (which is what the rest of us have).

Apparently the gerbils only had that type because it came with their cage, and the Mummy human says it's stupid to have a plastic clip for something a rodent will use anyway, and she's surprised it took Bilbo so long to chew through it; says she should have either replaced it, or made sure there was a spare, long ago.

Of course, this doesn't stop them from being annoyed with Bilbo, which isn't really fair, since they admit they knew it wasn't an ideal type of water bottle clip. Yet they're annoyed with my little gerbil brother? That doesn't seem right!

Why should Bilbo get the blame for a human mistake?

It's just like how the humans are when we degus chew things; it's always our fault!

I wish the humans would learn that if they don't want us to chew things, they should either make sure they aren't chewable, or keep them out of our reach. It's really that simple!

Humans! Can't live with them, can't live without them!

Don't get me wrong... I do love my humans! They just frustrate me sometimes... *Sigh*

Anyhow, the humans say they're going to go to that petstore place to get the gerbils a new water bottle; this time one with a sturdy wire instead of a plastic clip, so they can't chew it so easily. I bet Bilbo will try and chew it anyway; it's what we rodent types do.

Squeak soon,
Jenks

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - May 13th 2015

You don't need any recognized qualifications to become a published writer; you just need to find your own writing style.

Are you feeling like life is rushing by, yet struggling to even sit down and write? Well, 'wannabe' or 'aspiring' authors, if yeez doubt yeez can write, at whatever age, please read this great post.

When I write, I try to just let the words flow as they will, and worry about writing rules later. How about you? Do you let your inner child write? Or does the adult part of you insist on taking control from the start?

Also... Is writing just a hobby to you? It isn't to me; it's much more than that to me! This is probably part of the reason why I don't usually have issues with writers' block, and am mostly good about self motivation. However, if you're a self-published writer - or, indie author, as some prefer to be called - and motivation is a problem for you, here's an article on tips for the motivation of the indie author to help you.

Or, if you're a poet with writers' block, then these tips on growing students who love poetry may help you. I know they're aimed at helping children, but they could just as easily help adults.

Of course, once you have your story - or poetry collection - figured out, you'll want to figure out your target audience. So, here are some tips on how to identify your target audience to help you with that, so you can start working on your marketing strategy.

Not having much luck with your marketing strategy? Well, here's an article on the top ten reasons why your marketing efforts fail, which may offer some answers. Officially the tips are aimed at actual businesses, but selling books is technically a business, and it doesn't hurt to bear the tips in mind.

Another thing which might help is to support your local library by donating print copies of your books. It might sound like a strange marketing strategy, but sometimes people who borrow a library book will later buy their own copy if they enjoyed it, and having your books in circulation gets people talking about them, which is a good thing.

Having visitors to your blog - or social media platform - is a good thing too. But, are you struggling to come up with new ideas for posts? This article on blog post ideas for writers: solving the "what do I blog about?" conundrum may help. As mentioned at the end of the article, there are more ideas in 101 blog post ideas for writers (part 1) and 101 blog post ideas for writers (part 2). There's also this list of 365 days of blog post ideas for authors and writers and this one with 101 fabulous blog topic ideas. Some of them would be great ideas for bloggers in general; writers or not.

Before I end this post, I just thought I'd ask... Are there any topics in the lists linked to in the above paragraph, which I haven't discussed, that you'd like to hear about from me? Or, any I've touched upon in posts or interviews, which you'd like to hear more about? Or, are there things you'd like to hear about from me that aren't mentioned on the lists at all? If so, list them in the comments section of this post; whether directly on my blog, or where it appears on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. I'd love to know what you'd like to read about.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday's random mutterings - May 11th 2015

To celebrate Spring, the quarterly reading challenge for the second quarter of 2015 - so, April 31st to June 30th 2015 - on one of the groups I'm a member of over on Goodreads was a Spring Scavenger Hunt!

All we had to do is to find and read a book for an item on the list.

These were the challenge levels:

1-3 Books: Budding Flower
4-6 Books: Patch of Clover
7-9 Books: Bright Sunflower
10-12 Books: Cherry Blossom Tree
12 + Books: Aspen Grove

This was the List:

-- Bee: A book that has yellow and black on the cover.
-- Butterfly: A book where a character goes through a metamorphosis of some type.
-- Bud: A book that has a baby or small child in it.
-- Mushroom: A book that either deals with or mentions illegal substances.
-- Ant: A book with a character(s) that are slaves, mindless drones, or working class.
-- Spiderweb: A book that "sticks" with you, or that you can't stop thinking about after you've read it.
-- Leaf: A book with a green cover.
-- Pond: A book that has a large body of water somewhere in the setting.
-- Snail: A book that moves at a snail's pace (or takes you a long time to read!).
-- A Nest: A book that focuses on family, or has a family as the main characters.
-- The Sun: A book that's warm and bright--very fun and happy.
-- Tree: A book that's at least 450 pages in length.
-- Acorn: A book that's less than 300 pages in length.
-- Bird: A book that features something that can fly. (For example, superheroes that can fly, a pilot, airplanes, etc.).
-- Flower: A book that has more than 3 different colors on the cover.
-- Cricket: A book that has some type of music mentioned in it.
-- Rain: A book that deals with depression or has a character who is depressed.
-- Clouds: A book that has dreams in it.
-- Squirrel: A book that moves at a very fast pace, or that doesn't take you long to read it.
-- Seeds: A first book in a series.

And these are the books I read, and which items of the list they were for:

-- Butterfly: Mary Anne Saves The Day (The Baby-Sitters Club, #4) by Ann M. Martin.
-- Bud:The Truth About Stacey (The Baby-Sitters Club, #3) by Ann M. Martin.
-- Mushroom: Deceived (Star Wars: The Old Republic, #2) by Paul S. Kemp.
-- Ant: Revan (Star Wars: The Old Republic, #1) by Drew Carpyshyn.
-- Spiderweb: Charlie Dead And the So-Called Zombie Apocalypse (Charlie Dead, #1) by Geoff Camphire.
-- Pond: Legacy Of Mist And Shadows (The Age Of Awakenings, #3) by Diana L. Wicker.
-- Snail: The Ix by Andrew P. Weston.
-- A Nest: Dawn And The Impossible Three (The Baby-Sitters Club, #5) by Ann M. Martin.
-- The Sun: Kristy's Big Day (The Baby-Sitters Club, #6) by Ann M. Martin.
-- Tree: The White Princess (The Cousins' War, #5) by Philippa Gregory.
-- Acorn: Claudia And The Phantom Phone Calls (The Baby-Sitters Club, #2) by Ann M. Martin.
-- Bird: The Black Fairy And The Dragonfly by Paul G. Day.
-- Cricket: Dance Of The Robin by Sue Taylor.
-- Rain: Anne by Carmen Stevens.
-- Clouds: The Dreamweaver's Journey (The Age Of Awakenings, #1) by Diana L. Wicker.
-- Squirrel: Sam Visits The Farm by Sheryl Tidlund.
-- Seeds: Kristy's Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club, #1) by Ann M. Martin.

I wasn't sure how many I'd end up doing, but managed to achieve the "Aspen Grove" level, since I did most of them. Actually, I may have done them all, but I decided not to worry about the ones where you need books with colours of certain covers; I never do those, since I can't see for myself what colour cover my book has, and don't think it's important enough to ask for help with.

That's why I'm posting this now, even though I technically haven't done every single one, and there's still more than a month and a half in which to do them; because I'm calling it quits at this point.

***

Speaking of reading challenges...

My Goodreads reading goal for 2015 was 175 books, but I increased it to 200 around the end of April, because at that point I was 51% done with the original goal. Changing it took me from 51% down to 45% at the time.

I'm now at 51% again, and still ahead of the goal, but I'm not going to increase it any more.

***

The weather's been strange.

First it's warm enough that we're glad of the breeze blowing in from the ocean, and then it's cold enough that we need to put the heating on. So, I never know from one day to the next - sometimes from one hour to the next, in fact - if I'm going to be wanting to curl up in a blanket nest, or wishing for air conditioning.

I like most types of weather - though, I admit, I prefer colder weather, since I love snow - so I don't mind really. It's just a bit frustrating when it goes from one extreme to the other in such a short amount of time, and then back again.

Oh well, at least it makes for some excellent storms for me to listen to.

The seagulls like the storms too, since bad weather tends to bring the fish to the surface of the ocean; I hear them calling excitedly to one another as they fly above the rolling waves, with their sharp eyes gazing longingly down at the water in hopes of being the first to spot a fish. I feel sorry for the fish, but fish are a better diet for the gulls than our garbage.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Furkid Friday - May 8th 2015

Hi humans, rodents, and anyone else who happens to be reading this. This is Joshua the degu.

We saw the humans come home with a new wheel a couple of weeks ago, which we thought was strange. We degus already have a wheel, after all. Although, we'll probably need a new one soon, since our attempts at all running on it together have weakened the support bar.

But, anyway, as it turned out, the new wheel was meant for our ratty sisters, Skye and Star.

The humans have been meaning to get them a wheel since they moved in to their bigger cage, but with the moving thing happening it never ended up happening... Until about two weeks ago, as I already said.

This is my ratty sister, Star, using it as a seat just after the humans put it in their cage:


Our ratty sisters didn't seem sure what to do with the wheel at first. My brothers and I offerred to go and show them, but for some reason the humans don't like the idea of us getting in each other's cages, so they said we couldn't do that.

Typical humans; tell us to be nice to each other, and when we offer to do something nice, you won't let us do it! How are we supposed to keep up with what you humans want, when you keep sending us mixed messages like that?

Anyway, my ratty sisters had to figure out how to work the wheel by themselves. I think they're figuring it out, though I still think they'd have had it all worked out quicker with our help. The humans wouldn't listen when I pointed this out though.

Squeak soon,
Joshua

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - May 6th 2015

I've made some good progress with the "Zeena Dragon Fae" books.

"Zeena And The Dryad" is now in the editing phase, and I've officially started writing "Zeena And The Gryphon" (the second book in the series). OK, so I haven't made much progress with writing it yet, but I've started.

I'm happy with that, even though I'm not quite as far along in my progress with the series as I'd hoped to be by this point in the year. Still, I'm seeing progress, and pleased with how the story that makes up the whole four book series is developing, so I'm not complaining.

Anyway... The plan is to have "Zeena And The Dryad" ready to publish some time next month.

***

I have my plot bunnies under control; they have their very own document, where they're free to multiply as much as they like, while they wait for me to pick one to work with.

How about you? Do you have your plot bunnies under control?

Once you do, and have decided which one to tackle first, you should check out these writing tips for creating your own characters, and these 5 essential story ingredients, to help you turn your plot bunny in to an amazing story!

Always remember though... Whether you're a published author, a blogger, or whatever, don't forget that when it comes to your writing, there's something very important to pay attention to before publishing: grammar - it gets your attention! OK, every step of the writing process is important - whether you're posting a short message on Facebook or Twitter, doing a quick blog post about your day, or writing a 400 page novel - but take your time with editing and proofreading; your readers will appreciate it, and be more likely to come back for more. Besides, that extra bit of editing will turn a story from a frog, in to a prince, which is most definitely something you want!

When your book is finally complete, you'll need to write a synopsis. Here are the dos and don'ts of writing a book blurb to help you out.

Also, if you plan to set up an author website - or already have an author website - here's an article on building your author platform: 8 essential elements for your website. I've got most of these on mine, though my photos aren't head shots, but show more of me than that. All I don't have is the newsletter/mailing list. I keep thinking I should sort one out, but never end up doing it.

***

I recently came across a site for a group of magazines published by a company called Cricket Media that are aimed at children of various ages. I did consider submitting something to them, since the magazines are aimed at children of various ages from toddlers up, so my stories and poems would fit in there somewhere. After some consideration though, I decided against it. I mean, if you'd asked me if I wanted to try it ten years ago - in fact, even five years ago - I would have jumped at the chance. But now... Well, now that I know I can self-publish and keep my rights to publish where I like, I'm reluctant to give up my rights to any of my work. So, though the pay isn't too bad for submitting stories or poems for children to the magazines (it's not amazing, but it's not too bad) and the guidelines are pretty simple, the fact I'd have to wait three to six months just to find out if I'm going to lose my rights to publish a certain piece elsewhere, or if they're just going to reject it, puts me off, since I know I can publish things myself more quickly, and without losing the rights to my own work. I decided I'd post about it here though, in case others are less reluctant to give it a go.

Do you self-publish too? Well, here's an article that talks about 5 self-publishing trends to know in 2015, which you may like to read.

Also, if you have a day job to go along with your writing, make sure you're aware of the hard part before you quit it, because "the gold rush is over" now. Besides, any kind of freelance job will have its periods of ups and downs, or feast and famine, where things are tough and funds are hard to come by. There's a lot of luck involved on the path to success, after all!

Of course, first you have to finnish something already!

Monday, May 04, 2015

Monday's random mutterings: special bloggerversary and royal baby edition - May 4th 2015

May the fourth be with you on this Star Wars day!

I'm reading some Star Wars novels at the moment. They're set around the same time as the computer game Kelly plays, which is set some time before the Star Wars movies; about three thousand years before, apparently.

Anyway, today is also a bank holiday in the UK; this past weekend was the May Day bank holiday weekend, to be exact, since May Day - or, Beltane... Call it whichever you like - was the end of last week; last Thursday, or last Friday, depending on who you ask, and whether they consider the date to celebrate to be April 30th or May 1st.

Personally, I consider it to be May 1st, but the local annual celebrations for it are happening today, since they generally happen on the first Monday in May; the May Day bank holiday, as I already mentioned.

As part of the May Day celebrations, there's some kind of motorbike show happening in town today, and I can hear the bikes roaring past as they race along the road that seporates us from the beach. There's a bunch of other stuff happening to, but I'm too far away to hear the other stuff, and don't really feel like going to check it out. There will be Morris Dancing though; there usually is.

Anyway... That's not all that's happened this weekend to give people reason to celebrate!

The little Prince of Cambridge, George Alexander Louis, who will be 2 years old in July, became a big brother on Saturday, when his baby sister was born; I'd planned to put her name in this post, but it doesn't seem to have been announced just yet.

So, proud parents, Prince William of Wales, Duke of Cambridge (who's full name, if you're interested, is William Arthur Philip Louis) and Princess Catherine, Dutchess of Cambridge (who's full name is Catherine Elizabeth, if you'd like to know that too), now have one of each; a little prince, and a little princess.

From what I've heard, Charlotte and Alice seem to be popular choices for those making bets on the name. Personally, I think either Catherine, Elizabeth, Mary, Margret, Anne, or Victoria are quite likely to be in there somewhere, possibly even more than one of those names, and agree with those saying there's a high chance of the name Diana being in there too. Maybe they'll call her Charlotte Diana Elizabeth, or something like that? Hopefully they won't leave us wondering too much longer.

Regardless of her name though, as it happened, the little princess was born on my hubby's birthday. Yep, it was Kelly's birthday Saturday!

My first ever post was a belated happy birthday post for my hubby. Which reminds me...

Yesterday (May 3rd 2015) was my bloggerversary; I've now had this blog for 9 years. Sure, I stopped blogging publicly for a while, but I was still technically blogging, and the blog still existed, so it counts.

So...

Congratulations to the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge on their new little princess, belated Beltane blessings to all, belated happy birthday to Kelly, horray for reaching my 9th bloggerversary, and happy Star Wars May Day bank holiday to all!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Anthology to raise money for Guide Dogs - a post by Kevin Morris

I recently learned about an anthology to raise money for Guide Dogs from one of its contributors: fellow blind author, Kevin Morris.

I originally thought I would do a post with links to where you can download the anthology and make a donation. But when I told Kevin, he kindly offered to write a post to tell you all about the anthology, as well as why the Guide Dogs For The Blind Association is so important to people like him. So, since I thought his idea was better, here's what Kevin had to say...

***

I lost the majority of my vision at about 18-months-old as a consequence of a blood clot on the brain. While at a school for the visually impaired I learned to use a long white cane which greatly enhanced my ability to live and work independently. I still own a white cane (although not the same one I had as a boy)! However today I use my trusty four-legged friend, Trigger who accompanies me everywhere while my cane moulders away, forgotten on a shelf in my hall cupboard.

Trigger and my previous 3 guide dogs have enabled me to live and work independently. A cane can help the visually impaired user avoid obstacles, prevent them from falling off the edge of the kerb and, generally make getting around much safer than would be the case in the absence of a cane. However guide dogs possess the ability to avoid obstacles so the guide dog owner may not even be aware they have walked past an obstruction due to the dog having taken evasive action.

Guide dogs have the capacity to remember routes which can be extremely helpful. On occasions I have been unsure as to my location but my trusty friend has got me to my destination safe and well.

While guide dogs don’t understand that traffic is dangerous, they are taught to sit or stand at kerbs and to stop dead if a vehicle is approaching. While guide dog owners are told not to rely on the ability of their working guide dog to prevent road traffic accidents Trigger has, on several occasions prevented me from walking out in front of oncoming traffic, something which a cane can not do.

Guide dogs are not merely mobility aids. I, along with all other guide dog owners love our four legged friends. Trigger and I are together more or less constantly which builds a tremendous bond between us.

As you can see from the above, guide dogs provide invaluable assistance to their owners. The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA) is a registered charity receiving no government funding. Given the huge benefits I and other guide dog users have gained from the Association I wanted to give something back by raising money for GDBA, hence the anthology in aid of Guide Dogs was born. The book is free to download. However I and my fellow authors hope that anyone who downloads the anthology will make a contribution to GDBA. To download the anthology and make a donation to GDBA please visit the following link, http://newauthoronline.com/anthology-to-raise-money-for-guide-dogs/.

Finally I would like to thank Tori for giving me the chance to talk about the work of Guide Dogs.

Kevin

Friday, May 01, 2015

Furkid Friday - May 1st 2015

Hi humans, gerbils, and other types of readers. This is Bilbo the gerbil.

Hey, did you read the post about the release of mine and Bilbo's new ebook this past Tuesday? Baggins is super excited about it. But, now that I think about it, my brother tends to get super excited about just about everything. Still, I have to admit, having a book out is really cool!

You know what else is cool?

A while back - I forget when - the humans brought us this wooden cube toy thing with holes in the sides. We didn't really know what to do with it at first, so we just buried it for later. I've learned recently though that it's a really cool and fun toy! You can climb through the holes and come out wherever you want, and gnaw on it.

Here's a photo of me demonstrating how it works:


Pretty neat, huh?

Squeak soon,
Bilbo