Wednesday, November 30, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - November 30th 2016

It's the last day of November. If you were doing NaNoWriMo, how did you do? Did you make it? Well, whether you did or not, what's next for you? Does your plan only go as far as wanting to write the book? Or do you have more of a plan than that? If you haven't thought beyond the writing stage, you may want to plan what's next after you write your book. Unless, of course, you were someone who just wanted to write the book and then forget about it, which would be a shame after all the work you put in to it. But, hey, it's your call, so do whichever you want to.

Also, if you didn't make it. Don't worry about it. The fact you tried is a good thing to start with, and you deserve a pat on the back just for that. Sometimes, no matter how well you do at carving out your writing time, the words just won't come. If that's what happened to you, here's what to do when the words won't come. It's too late to help you for this year's NaNoWriMo, but it's something worth considering for any time you're trying to get some writing done, regardless of when that is, so the post is still worth checking out.


Can social media really sell your books? Short answer: only if you use it right, and then not all by itself. Social media itself doesn't sell your books, but it can be a useful tool to help with marketing.

As you probably already know, people watching is another thing that can be useful for writers, because it helps you when it comes to creating characters. So, with that in mind, here are some useful people watching tips for writers. Plus, you may find these tips for writing real characters useful too.

Always remember that, while it's important to make sure your book gets some decent editing before you publish it, editing too much during the writing phase can hold you back. So save the editing for later... At least get the first draft written first. I hope that's something those of you who were doing NaNoWriMo were bearing in mind?

By the way, are you a children's author? If so, check out these tips on learning to write for kids by learning to read to them. Also, have you ever considered writing a thriller for children? If so, take a look at this post on writing thrillers for kids.

Whether you write for children, or write for adults, you've got to love the artistic freedom we now have! Same goes for any kind of artist, really: the kinds of artists who draw or paint, musicians, writers, whatever. With how things have changed we have more artistic freedom, and it makes me happy. Also, artistic freedom is one reason I self-publish... I want to be able to write what I want to write, not what someone else says I should be writing, and I want to be able to do it when I decide to. Obviously I hope my readers enjoy what I write, but I don't write something because it's what's popular right now, or because I think doing so will make me rich. Hey, I may be a dreamer, but I'm in touch with reality enough to know the chances of me getting rich are pretty low... Especially since I don't even play the lotto these days. *Wink*

Monday, November 28, 2016

#TV Talk And #Movie Mutterings - November 2016

It's time for this month's new to me movies.

If you're wondering... We got through three of the four planned movies on Halloween, so watched the fourth the following day.


As with the previous posts like this one, just click on the movie titles to go to a page where you can find out more details about the movie in question; the movie title links will usually take you to a page on IMDB.


Goosebumps (2015 movie):
I've seen some of the old Goosebumps TV episodes, and read many of the Goosebumps books - both recently and in my teens - so was eager to see the new movie. I was not disappointed. I mean, it wasn't absolutely amazing, but it was a really good movie, and I'm glad I watched it. If you're wondering: prior knowledge of the Goosebumps characters isn't essential, but it helps, and I actually think knowing something about some of the characters from R. L. Stine's books improves the enjoyment factor of this movie; you won't be quite so scared if you don't know anything about any of the monsters from the books, in my opinion... I know I was more concerned about those monsters I knew something about than those I hadn't read the books for. So, as an addition to a Goosebumps collection, it's fantastic. As a stand-alone movie, it's only pretty good. For that reason, I'm giving this movie four out of five stars.

The Last Witch Hunter (2015 movie):
I didn't expect to enjoy this one. Honestly, I was only watching it because it was Kelly's pick for one of the movies to watch for Halloween, and he got it especially for us to watch together. As it turned out though, this movie was better than I expected it to be. Kelly really enjoyed it too. It had a great plot, and enough action to keep Kelly happy, while not having so much happening that I couldn't follow what was going on. This is another movie I give four out of five stars.

Get Santa (2014 movie):
This was meant to be a comedy, but I didn't find it all that funny. Plus, they were meant to be trying to save Christmas - and kept mentioning the fact repeatedly - but I didn't feel the sense of urgency. It felt like they were saying, "Hey, we should probably save Christmas, but we have plenty of time, so no worries." I mean, they weren't saying anything of the sort... Like I said, they were constantly mentioning how important it was that they had to save Christmas... But the plot seemed to move so slowly it lost the sense of urgency movies like this usually have. I give this movie three out of five stars.

Crampus (2015 movie):
I love things with a fantasy element. I enjoy holiday movies where someone is having a bad Christmas, but then something happens to make them realize how wonderful their life actually is. I enjoy the odd comedy; holiday themed or otherwise. I enjoy some horror movies too. Unfortunately, this movie tried to be all four things at once, and failed spectacularly. Luckily, I'd heard of several other people who were disappointed with this one, so went in to it with low expecations. Even so, it didn't meet them. The movie sucked, plain and simple! I give this movie one out of five stars.

That's it, since most of my TV time this month has been spent watching old episodes of NCIS, which you already know I enjoy.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Happy Birthday To Me And You - 2016 Edition (FD)

It was my birthday two weeks ago, as many of you already knew. So, first of all, I'd like to thank those of you who sent me gifts or cards, as well as those of you who sent me birthday messages via eMail or on Facebook to wish me a happy birthday. Your birthday wishes are very much appreciated, as are the cards and gifts I got from those who sent things, of course. Yeah, I know it's taken me a couple of weeks to get to this post... I had other things I wanted to post about first. Anyway, as I said, thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes in some shape or form.

Speaking of which, here are a couple of photos of my birthday cards:

Excuse them being on top of the freezer... It was the place with the best light on that day, apparently.

Mostly I got money for my birthday, which I spent on books and movies. But I also got some NCIS DVDs (seasons one to nine of the original NCIS) and a nifty chopping board that bends to form a sort of funnel shape so you can transfer things from it to bowls or pots more easily. The scarf I'm wearing in this photo was a birthday present too...

If I have any strange expressions on my face in the above photo, it's because it was taken while I was in the process of explaining to Kelly how taking a photo with my phone works, since it apparently takes clearer pictures than our camera, but he's not familiar with how to use iPhones. He says he caught me at a good moment, so I hope that's the case.

Apparently I'm so awesome that someone arranged for fireworks for my birthday too!

OK, not really. I mean, there were fireworks... Not many, and we didn't get photos, but there were. They didn't actually have anything to do with me though. Still, I enjoyed them, and I can pretend, right?

Anyway... I didn't do much for my birthday. Lorna came around for a cup of tea and a chat the day before, Kelly made me a "special birthday dinner" the day after, and I had cake on my actual birthday... It was a lemon cake. But that's about it. Still, it was a pretty good birthday, as birthdays go. Or, I think so.

But I'm not the only one with a birthday in November!

Some of our family friends and online friends have birthdays during November, along with a few family members and honorary family members. I already mentioned during the second half of last month that Iggy's birthday was at the start of the month, but there were others too. I'm not going to list everyone, but among those celebrating their birthdays this month are Kelly's sister, Sherry, who celebrated her birthday this past Tuesday (November 22nd) and my Mam's Goddaughter, Shireen, who will be celebrating her 18th birthday on November 30th.

That last one makes me feel even older than having my own birthday did, since I remember caring for Shireen as a tiny baby I could hold in just one arm. Now she's about to turn 18, and is actually taller than me. How did that happen? Where did the years go? How can that little baby I remember rocking to sleep be all grown up? It seems like only yesterday her sweet little gummy smiles were making me smile, and her little hands were reaching out to try and grab at the toys atatched to the bar of her bouncer chair. Yet here she is, about to turn 18. I know that logically the years didn't zoom past in the time it took to blink. But, at times like this, it sure feels like that's what happened.


If you're a November baby too... Happy birthday to you!

Friday, November 25, 2016

#Furkid Friday: #Storms

Um... Hi everyone! This is Skye the rat.

There was a nasty storm this past weekend. The icy wind was howling like a pack of hungry wolves, the rain was falling in sheets that were more like waterfalls, there was thunder and lightning, and the ocean was so rough you could hear the waves crashing against the shore even over the sound of the storm itself. Even the sea birds decided it was too rough to be out.

We hated it!

Well, the Mummy human didn't, because she's weird and likes things like storms. She says it's sad that they cause damage and people sometimes get hurt, but she can't help enjoying listening to them. Like I said, she's weird.

But we're much smarter, so we're really scared of storms. Our brothers are especially scared of storms. Our degu brother, Joshua, huddled in his hay in a frightened ball, and our gerbil brother, Baggins, was so scared he was literally trembling from nose to tail. Even we rats huddled in our nest until the storm was over, while our chinchilla sisters decided being nocturnal was no excuse to be out of bed on such a night.

Actually, there have been a few really bad storms lately, but the one on the weekend was the worst. Or, we thought it was... It was the scariest to us, anyway.

The human caretakers say the storms can't get us in here. They say the building will keep it from coming in and hurting us. But we're not taking any chances. Especially when one of the humans who claims that's the case is also weird enough to think listening to storms is fun.

If you've got bad storms too, I hope you're managing to stay safe.

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - November 23rd 2016

OK... Back in October I said I'd tell you about the story I plan to publish around Christmas. But then stuff happened, so I never got around to talking more about it. Since there's only a little over a month until Christmas, and I'm planning to publish the story in the next few weeks, I should probably start telling you about it. So...

It's called "Ulrike's Christmas" and this is the rough blurb (which may change slightly some time between now and publication):

Ulrike knows all about the Winter Solstice celebrations of the giants, being one himself. But what he doesn't know is why the humans cut down whole trees, only to take them home to decorate. Other giants tell him to forget about it, but Ulrike is curious; he needs to know why they do it.

Finally, when he's puzzled over it so much his head is sore from all the thinking, he decides that this is the year he'll figure it out, and risks a return trip to the home of the last family he watched to look for clues, despite almost being spotted last time he was there.

That's how he meets Billy, a friendly little boy who loves stories, and is happy to tell Ulrike all about Santa Claus, as well as some holiday traditions, along with a couple of stories he knows about them. Stories which Ulrike loves, and which inspire him to add some of what Billy says are Christmas celebrations to his own this Winter, in the hopes that Santa Claus will visit him too.

Like I said, the blurb might change a little by the time the story is published in a couple of weeks time, but it won't be much different to the one in this post. Tips posted in the comments section on improvements to it are welcome, by the way.

Anyway, I'm cutting it closer than I'd planned to, but I'll have it ready in time to publish next month, since it just needs the final edits and proof reading, which should be sorted by the end of this month. That gives me time to have it published in time for anyone interested in doing so to read it this holiday season... Even if it's only just in time. Well, the eBook version will be available then, anyway, since I won't have time to have the paperback available in time for Christmas.

(There were a lot of times in the above paragraph, weren't there? Sorry about that!)


Speaking of the holiday season: are you a published author looking to sell more books? Then check out these tips on how to use the holidays to sell more books. There's no guarantees they'll get you amazing results, of course, but they may help, so it's worth a try, right?

Monday, November 21, 2016

November 2016 #Vegetarian Friendly #Food Themed Thoughts (FD)

For the past several years, when Halloween rolls around, I've cooked something involving pumpkin. Halloween to me just screams pumpkin recipes, which is kind of funny considering I was almost 19 years old the first time I ever tried pumpkin pie, and in my 20s the first time I tried cooking anything with pumpkin. Yes, seriously! I'd heard of pumpkin pie, but things like that are only available over here if you make them yourself, or know someone who can, so it was when I spent some time living in Canada that I first tasted pumpkin pie. Needless to say, the next time I tried it I had to make it myself, and since pumpkins are only readily available around Halloween, and it's only in the last couple of years we've had the option to order canned pumpkin, my pumpkin pie making, and cooking of any other pumpkin themed recipes, generally has to be done around Halloween, which sort of helps to solidify the association in my mind with pumpkin recipes and halloween.

Yeah, I know Halloween was a couple of weeks ago. Just bear with me here, OK? I couldn't do this post until after I'd done my Halloween baking for this year, and this is the first chance I'm getting to sort it. Besides, I'm pretty sure it's in time for those of you celebrating Thanksgiving this month, some of whom may want to do some pumpkin themed baking for that holiday.

Anyway, a favourite pumpkin themed recipe of mine is pasta with pumpkin sage sauce and cheese, which I've cooked at least once every year since I discovered the recipe - not always on Halloween, but always around this time of year - and which has proven to be popular with everyone I've tried it on. But I've also tried a couple of other pumpkin themed recipes (some savoury, some sweet). Plus, I've tweaked the sauce recipe a bit a couple of times. I've cooked it with and without the onion, I've substituted the nutmeg for pumpkin spice, and I've made it using completely different herbs and spices. I've also used the pumpkin sage sauce in a vegetable bake (in its original form, and with different herbs and spices in it) which worked out well too.

If you're interested, you can find most of the pumpkin themed recipes I've used on my website's recipe section, including the recipe for the above mentioned pumpkin sage sauce, and one for pumpkin pie. You won't find the variations for the sauce though, so you'll have to ask me about that if you want to know what I did.

My recipe section also has a pumpkin pasty recipe on it, but the pumpkin pasty recipe you'll find on my website is for sweet pumpkin pasties. Those are pretty good, but I decided last year that I wanted to make savoury versions. So I made pumpkin and vegetable pasties, which turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, nobody can vouch for me on this one, since Kelly was the only one around when I made them, and wasn't interested in trying them; he's often reluctant to try new recipes, especially vegetarian ones. Anyway, they consisted of potatoes, carrots, onions, peas, and pumpkin puree, cooked up and then mixed together before being wrapped up in pastry and baked until the pastry was golden brown.

This year, however, I decided to take a different approach to making a savoury pumpkin pasty; I wanted the focus to be on the pumpkin, rather than all the other veggies in it. So I decided to make some of the pumpkin sage sauce I love so much, though without the onions, and with pumpkin spice in place of the nutmeg. Then I cooked up some potatoes to mix with it, and used that mixture to make my pasties. Apparently this version sounded much more appealing to my generally strictly meat and potatoes eating hubby, because Kelly actually agreed to try these ones. Anyway, they turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself, and Kelly seemed to agree.

By the way, the pumpkin sauce - regardless of the version you're making - and both versions of the savoury pasties, can be frozen after cooking, to be defrosted and reheated. I've intentionally made extra so as to try it out, and just thought I'd mention it, in case you were wondering.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Tempests And Thoughts (kinda R/WP)

My mind is a chaotic swirl of emotions, mirroring the tempest that rages outside my window. My thoughts churn like the ocean; memories and passing thoughts crashing against the inside of my mind, much like the waves are crashing against the shore. Rain and tears fight to compete for which can flow the fastest. All the while the wind howls, and something inside of me wants to join its mournful wailing.

The frightened child buried deep inside of me had been soothed for some time by the adult that I am, and by escapes in to fictional worlds where familiar characters are ready to greet me with open arms. But tonight the fears of the child were strong enough to make themselves heard. Tonight it was the child's turn to win. Tonight I am afraid. Tonight not even my books can bring me comfort, and I can't settle down to read.

Tonight I can't forget that we live in a world where people are being attacked for the crime of not being British enough, or being the wrong kind of Americans. Tonight I can't forget that there are people living on the streets and struggling to find enough money for food, while the queen is being handed a cheque for more than three and a half million pounds to do work on one of her many palaces. Tonight I can't forget that being a disabled person still makes you a target for hatred from those who fear what is different.

My fears are not for myself. At least, not immediately, though I admit it takes little time for them to turn in that direction. But first my fears are for those I know who could be caught up in the hate crimes that Brexit and the US election seem to have caused to increase. For the friends and neighbours who may be potential targets simply for the crime of being who they are; for being different, either because of a disability like my own, because their skin is a different colour, or for some other reason we shouldn't have the right to judge them for. For those who aren't friends and neighbours, but still find themselves victims for the same reason. It is for them I fear; for them I weep.

Only then do my thoughts turn to the future in general, and I begin to wonder what it will hold for us all. Where will the horrors of today leave us tomorrow?

I reflect on how some people believe that certain ancient civilizations predicted the end of the world. Perhaps it was not the end of the world they were predicting, but the end of civilization. Perhaps they thought the hatred many humans carry in their hearts would be enough to wipe us out by now. Perhaps they were wrong. The predicted dates passed with no end of either the world or civilization in sight, after all. But, as I reflect on the events of this past year, especially recent months, and how Brexit and this year's US election have brought out the worst in many people, I have to wonder if we've taken the first steps on to the path that will make their predictions come true after all. Perhaps they weren't wrong about the end result, merely mistaken about the date.

Friday, November 18, 2016

#Furkid Friday: Star The #Rat On #Pet Cold Tolerance

Hi everyone! This is Star the rat.

The colder weather is here. Are you ready for it? Have you made yourself a cozy nest like my remaining degu brother, Joshua has? A place where you can snuggle up so snuggly someone would miss seeing you were there if they didn't look closely...

...If you haven't, you may want to think about doing so, especially if you're cold sensative.

Whether you're cold sensative or not though, don't forget to think about how well others who share your home can deal with the cold. Remember that having fur doesn't mean you can deal with really cold temperatures, just as not having it doesn't mean you can deal with really hot ones. Just something for you to think about through the cold months to come... Especially if you have furry family members in your home who may not be able to easily make their temperature preferences known.

If you're not sure what the most comfortable temperature for your furry family members is, ask your vet, or look it up. It's worth the time it will take to do so, since it's just as important to stop your furry family members from getting too cold as it is to stop them getting too hot. Some animals can get really sick if they get too cold, catching things like pneumonia... Or worse!

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to follow Joshua's example and curl up in a bed of hay. After all, we rats may be able to deal with cold better than some rodents, but we have our limits too. Even my chinchilla sisters, Mollie and Maizie, who can tolerate quite cold temperatures, have their limits. Just bear that in mind, OK?

Squeak soon,

P.S. The Mummy human says to tell you that the photos of Joshua were taken on Sunday (November 13th) - in case you're interested. Yes, he is in both photos, though you have to look closely to see him in one of them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - November 16th 2016

"Write what you know" is great writing advice, but it's also the most misunderstood writing advice. So, bear it in mind, but don't take it quite as literally as many people do... "Write what you know" can have more than one meaning, which is something the post I linked to explains in more detail.

Speaking of writing advice... If you're doing NaNoWriMo - and even if you're not - here's a post that looks at some of the terrible advice, which is disguised as essential requirements if you want to be a writer. It's a post that agrees with what I've said several times in the past about how every writer is different, and your writing routine and habits should reflect that, and be tailored to your own requirements and preferences.

Regardless of whether or not you're doing NaNoWriMo, or what your writing routine looks like... Are shiny new ideas distracting you from your current writing project? Then read this post to learn how to deal with shiny new idea syndrome. Although, whether you're being distracted by shiny ideas or not, you may be interested in reading this post that explains three trope tactics to please your readers. WARNING: that last post I just linked to contains strong language.

Do you have a cat in your story? Or, perhaps, you just own a cat and want to figure out what it's trying to tell you? If either of those applies to you, take a look at this post on understanding feline behaviour.

Are you on Goodreads? If you are, there are two possible reasons why you may be interested in this guest post about doing Goodreads giveaways. The first reason is because you may want to enter for a chance to get a copy of the book. The second is that if you're a Goodreads author, you may be interested in the instructions on how to set up your own Goodreads giveaway. Either way, check out the post. Also, whether you're on Goodreads or not, if you're interested in the work of self-published authors, or are one yourself, why not sign up for the Indie Publishing News newsletter by Plaisted Publishing. They have both a screen reader friendly version, and a general version, so you can sign up for whichever is best for you.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Some #Jokes To Brighten Your Monday (LBE + AE&D)

Here are some jokes I heard, or read, recently, taken from various sources.


Little Johnny was in class and the teacher announced that they were going to try something different to help everyone get to know each other a little better, and to help with their spelling.

She explained, "I want you to stand up and give us the occupation of your father, spell it, and say one thing he would give us all if he was here today."

The first student raised her hand to volunteer.

"Marcy," the teacher said. "You may go first."

Marcy replied, "My father is a banker. B-A-N-K-E-R and if he was here today, he would give us all a shiny new penny."

The teacher said, "Very nice, Marcy, who wants to go next?"

Kevin stood up and announced, "My father is a baker. B-A-K-E-R and if he was here today, he would give us all a freshly-baked cookie."

"Very good," the teacher told Kevin.

Jeff was next, and he said, "My father is an accountant. A-K, no wait, A-C-K, no..."

Before he could attempt to spell it once more, the teacher cut him off and told him to sit back down and to think about it for a while. When he thought he knew how to spell it, he could stand back up and try again.

Little Johnny raised his hand in excitement hoping to be acknowledged by the teacher. The teacher called on little Johnny to go next.

Johnny said, "My father is a bookie. B-O-O-K-I-E and if he was here today, he would give us all 20:1 odds Jeff will never be able to spell "accountant."


Teacher: "Little Johnny, give me a sentence using the word, 'geometry.'"

Little Johnny: "A little acorn grew and grew until it finally awoke one day and said, 'Gee, I'm a tree.'"


Q: What musical instrument is found in the bathroom?

A: A tuba toothpaste.


Q: What do you call cheese that's not yours?

A: Nacho cheese!


Q: What do elves learn in school?

A: The elf-abet.


A nursing assistant was doing a little cleaning on a quiet afternoon. She was polishing the old brass lamp that an old lady had donated to the ward in gratitude for the fine care she had received there.

One of the floor nurses and the head nurse were nearby as the lamp suddenly produced a cloud of dark smoke, from which stepped a lady dressed in nineteenth-century nurses’ uniform.

“I am Gina the Gray Lady of the Lamp,” she said. “I am so pleased with the way you have taken care of my previous owner that I will now grant you three wishes.” With a wave of her hand and a puff of smoke, the room was filled with flowers, fruit, and bottles of fine wine, proving that she did have the power to grant wishes – before any of the nurses could think otherwise.

Speaking up, the nursing assistant wished first. “I wish I were on a tropical island beach, with a single, well-built man feeding me fruit and tending to my every need.”

With a puff of smoke, she was gone.

The floor nurse went next. “I wish I were rich, retired, and spending my days in my own warm cabin at a ski resort with a well-groomed man feeding me cocoa and doughnuts.”

With another puff of smoke, the floor nurse was gone too.

“Now what is the last wish?” asked the lady.

The head nurse said, “I want those two back on the floor at the end of their lunch break.”


After many years, a prisoner is finally released.

He runs around yelling, "I'm free! I'm free!"

A little kid walks up to him and says, "So what? I'm 4."


Bernard, who is noted for his gracious manners, was awakened one morning at four forty four a.m. by his ringing telephone...

“Your dog’s barking, and it’s keeping me awake,” said an angry voice.

Bernard thanked the caller and politely asked his name and number before hanging up.

The next morning at precisely four forty four a.m., Bernard called his neighbor back...

“Good morning, Mr. Williams," he said. "I just called to say that I don’t *have* a dog.”


A Canadian psychologist is selling a video that teaches you how to test your dog’s IQ.

Here’s how it works: If you spend $12.99 for the video, your dog is smarter than you.


After a talking sheepdog gets all the sheep in the pen, he reports back to the farmer: “All 40 accounted for.”

“But I only have 36 sheep,” says the farmer.

“I know,” says the sheepdog. “But I rounded them up.”


Seeing her friend Sally wearing a new locket, Meg asks if there is a memento of some sort inside.

“Yes,” says Sally, “a lock of my husband’s hair.”

“But Larry’s still alive.”

“I know, but his hair is gone.”


In the hardware store, a clerk asked, “Can I help you find anything?”

“How about my misspent youth,” joked my husband.

The clerk shot back, “We keep that in the back, between world peace and winning lottery tickets.”


A guy stands over his tee shot for what seems an eternity: looking up, looking down, measuring the distance, figuring the wind direction and speed.

Finally, his exasperated partner says, “What’s taking so long? Hit the damn ball!”

The guy answers, “My wife is up there watching me from the clubhouse. I want to make this a perfect shot.”

“Forget it, man,” says his partner. “You’ll never hit her from here.”


There are three people applying for the same job. One is a mathematician, one a statistician, and one an accountant.

The interviewing committee first calls in the mathematician. They say “we have only one question. What is 500 plus 500?”

The mathematician, without hesitation, says “1000.”

The committee sends him out and calls in the statistician.

When the statistician comes in, they ask the same question.

The statistician ponders the question for a moment, and then answers “1000… I’m 95% confident.”

He is then also thanked for his time and sent on his way.

When the accountant enters the room, he is asked the same question: “what is 500 plus 500?”

The accountant replies, “what would you like it to be?”

They hire the accountant.


A young executive is leaving the office late one evening, when he finds the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.

“Listen,” says the CEO, “this is a very sensitive and important document here, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work for me?”

“Sure,” the young executive says.

He turns the machine on, inserts the paper, and presses the start button.

“Excellent, excellent!” says the CEO as his paper disappears inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”


Bill walks into his boss’s office one day and says, “Sir, I’ll be straight with you, I know the economy isn’t great, but I’ve got three companies after me, and I’d like to  respectfully ask for a raise.”

After a few minutes of haggling. the boss finally agrees to give him a 5% raise, and Bill happily gets up to leave.

“By the way”, asks the boss as Bill is leaving his office, “which three companies are after you?”

Bill replies, “The electric company, water company, and phone company.”

Sunday, November 13, 2016

If I Ruled The World: #Cake Laws (FD)

Me: "You can't have a party without cake... It's against the law!"

Kelly: "No, it isn't."

Me: "Well, it should be!"

Sorry, but a party without cake just feels wrong to me. I've been sulking about not getting any of my Dad's girlfriend's birthday cake on and off ever since her party back in February.

So, I decided recently that if I was in charge of the world, I'd make it illegal to have a party without cake.

The punishment for breaking this law would be to have to buy some cake - preferably your favourite type - and watch while someone else ate it, without being invited to share so much as a crumb.

Of course, I'd get first refusal on being the one to punish you by eating said cake, with a team of "cake enforcers" on hand to step in if I'm too full from punishing the last person, or if I don't like that kind of cake.

I bet people would remember to serve cake at their party after such harsh punishment. What do you think?

Friday, November 11, 2016

#Furkid Friday: "I'm Watching You!" (FD)

Hi humans, rodent types, and anyone else reading this. This is Joshua the degu.

I don't know what happened. Just a few months ago I still had all three of my brothers, and now it's just me in the cage. All three of my brothers have gone away. First Jasper, then Jenks, and now Jacob. I don't know where they went, and I don't understand why they went without me. We always went everywhere together.

Don't get me wrong, having all this space to myself, not having to fight over the best nibbles, getting to use the wheel whenever I want and for however long I want, as well as having plenty of room to stretch out and roll around in the sand bath, is great. But I really miss my brothers... Not just because the weather has turned cold and I haven't got anyone to cuddle up with either. Although, now that I think about it, cuddling up with my brothers on a cold night - or day, for that matter - was always really nice, and I do miss being able to do that.

I blame the human caretakers for my brothers being gone. I'm sure they had something to do with it. It must have been them. I mean, even though we did have fights sometimes, my brothers and I love each other very much, so I know they'd never leave me if they had a choice. Plus, the last time I saw each of my brothers, they were being removed from the cage by one of the human caretakers. That means it must have been them, right? I can't think of any other explanation, so I'm watching the human caretakers very closely, just in case they have plans to do something terrible.

For the first couple of days after Jacob disappeared, I was suspicious of everything, including food, and checked each piece out very carefully before I ate it. Not to mention, I absolutely refused to accept food directly from the paws of either of the human caretakers. I'm still suspicious, but I did take the risk and quickly grab a nibble from the Mummy human's paw a couple of times. I ran off right after grabbing it though, just in case she had any funny ideas about trying to snatch me up while I was occupied with the nibble. So far she hasn't tried anything funny, but I'm watching her carefully, just in case she's just trying to lull me in to a false sense of security or something, and prefer to help myself to nibbles from the bowl after the Mummy human has removed her paw from my cage.

I'm watching the Daddy human even more closely, and won't even go in reach of his paw, let alone accept anything he's offering me. He was the one who picked up each of my brothers and removed them from the cage, so I'm pretty sure he's the one I've got to be most careful about watching. Like I said though, I'm keeping an eye on the Mummy human too, just to be on the safe side, but it's the Daddy human I'm most suspicious of.

My gerbil brother, Baggins, who lives in the cage right beside mine, and has been all by himself ever since his brother, Bilbo, disappeared back in April, says they never tried anything funny with him after his brother disappeared. But Baggins has always been easily won over by nibbles, so it's possible they just bribed him in to trusting them with all the Cheerios and Frosted Shreddies they gave him. So his word isn't enough to convince me not to be suspicious of the human caretakers.

You hear that, human caretakers? I'm watching you!

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - November 9th 2016

Hey, are you a writer too? If so, are you writing a series? If you are, here are some tips on how to keep a series fresh. Also, whether you are actually writing a series, or you're writing a stand-alone story, here are some tips on how to hook the reader.

Need to describe water in your story? Take a look at these 58 words to describe bodies of water, and find the word that's right for the water in your tale, whether you're writing about a tiny little freshwater spring, or talking about the vast salty ocean.

You may also want to take a look at this post on two ways to use misdirection as a storyteller. It's especially useful if you write mysteries, but can be useful in other genres too.

Regardless of your genre of choice, are you a self-published author like I am? If so, help me, and other self-published authors, to improve the reputation of indies.

Self-published or not, do you want a way to check your books work in different eBook formats? Or, perhaps, you need a way to send out advanced reader copies in different formats? If so, try using Calibre. You may have heard of it already? It's been around for about ten years now, but it's usually used by readers to convert eBooks in to different formats so they'll work on other eReaders and tablets. It's a useful tool for authors too, as the article I just linked to points out. Plus, it's free, and everybody loves free stuff!

Last, but certainly not least, here are seven ways to make an author smile.

Monday, November 07, 2016

#Reading Ramblings: Canute Revisited (LBE)

You may remember my post from last month about the Canute, which is essentially a braille eReader?

Well, for those who missed seeing the responses in the comments section of that post, I wanted to share a couple of comments left by someone actually involved in the project on my post. So here they are:

Ed Rogers said...

Hi Victoria

I'm Ed from Bristol Braille, the team making the Canute. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about the Canute.

# Regarding the books it can read;

The Canute on-board software is entirely Open Sourced here:

Its not locked down to content from any specific provider and we won't be supplying content. No DRM or proprietary formats.

The Canute can natively read any PEF and BRF files. We specifically chose 40 cells wide so any formatted-for-embossing BRF file would show without having to wrap the lines. We specifically chose 9 lines (=360 cells) so that files intended for Braille paper 25 or 27 lines long would split into just three pages. Splitting pages in two would be better, but 14 lines (=560 cells) was too much of a stretch for our resources. Eventually it would be good to offer a 40x27 = 1,080 cells model, but that would certainly not be portable!

By the way, by 'we' I mean the Braillists community, not Bristol Braille. More about them below.

In effect it is a portable Braille library for existing Braille files or ones the user has created them self (using RoboBraille, Duxbury c) and others from libraries like Bookshare.

We could put automatic transcription on the Canute itself, making it accept Word, PDF, EPUB, HTML c. For now we are electing not to as we don't have the manpower to develop or support that. We are developing a plug-in to the free Calibre e-book software that automates conversion to PEF, but users are free to use any free or commercial alternative to produce the files.

Because its Open Source though, if enough people want to add it, they don't need to wait for Bristol Braille to add it. Canute testers can already reflash with their own new version of the software. Those who don't have access to a Canute prototype can run the accessible emulator on their own PC:

So yes, while non-BRF and non-PEF files will need to be transcribed on a PC first (for the time being), the Canute will work with any text file.


Ed Rogers said...

... Continued

# Regarding the price;

I agree with your view on the Canute's intended price. I will explain why it what it is, and hope you can appreciate that we are not at all ignorant of or uninterested in the ramifications of the intended price.

The fundamental point is that we have a duty to make the Canute available at the lowest possible price, due to commitments made to our community of supporters, various grant makers who have paid for the Canute to be developed, and because our mission, making Braille as affordable as possible, requires it.

The Canute mechanism allows the price of Braille cells to fall from around £40 per cell to around £2. But it is still a very complex machine. There are a thousand mving parts, for example. At the moment we have received very limited financial backing and so are restricted in our ability to prototype the hell out of the design and mass produce thousands of units at a time, the two things that would allow the price to drop by another one or two hundred pounds.

It is obviously infuriating for you or any Braille reader to be told that its not possible for the price to drop because of vague design reasons. Its the kind of thing that has made the community justifiably skeptical about all hyperbolic Braille projects, promising the world and disappearing a few years later without demonstrating much at all.

That's why we hold regular show and tell meetings with a group called the Braillists ( in Bristol, Reading and (twice) in Dublin. There is a new group soon to be set up in Worcester. In these meetings, which anyone is welcome to attend, we explain exactly where the Canute project is at, all the trials and tribulations. We also explain how the mechanism works in great detail. Those who can't attend (which is the majority, as there are 255 members, many not in the UK or Ireland) can discuss the Canute with us online (

It was thrashed out over many such meetings that the initial price of the Canute should attempt to match the retail price of the Perkins Brailler. This was just about within the limits of what Bristol Braille thought it could manage. This was decided upon after discussions about the complexity of the technology, the realities of potential user's purchasing capabilities, and the best immediate use cases for the Canute.

As we lacked (and still lack) the resources to create more than one initial model we asked them to choose the use case for us. Schools, colleges and parents came out top. The Perkins price was significant because of another decision made by the Braillists, that Bristol braille should target the Canute initially at the educational market, where Perkins are more often afforded than not.

This is how the Canute's development works (its a long read):

Neither Bristol Braille nor the Braillists groups will be sated with the initial Canute model's design or price. We want to create smaller, far cheaper and more even more featureful designs in the future. Personally I would like to make a display for under US$300 / £200, even if it isn't 360 cells. One day!

We hope that one of the most important symbolic changes the Canute will bring will be to prove that, if a tiny under-funded not for profit outfit operating out of a Hackspace in Bristol, backed by a self-organising group of two hundred odd enthusiasts, can make 360 cell refreshable Braille for half the price of 40 cell refreshable Braille sold by profit making companies who have been in the industry for decades, then anything is possible!

By the way, I'd love to be able to demonstrate the Canute Mk10 to you and some of your readers some time. If you're interested please do come join us on the forums (, where demos are arranged, or sign up to the Braillists newsletter, where demos are announced (



Firstly, I'd like to take a moment to thank Ed once again for taking the time to come and share that information.

Secondly, as I said in reply via the comments section, I'm glad to hear that will be the case when it comes to accessability of books. At least that means those who manage to save up the money for one will have plenty of available reading material.

I do understand your reasons for the price being so high, and appreciate the fact it's expensive to create the technology. I still wish it wasn't the case though. Please don't take offence at my complaints over the price tag. I complain about the cost of my screen reader all the time, but it doesn't stop me saving up to buy the updates as often as I can.

Oh, and I'd love to see a demonstration of how it works... It would be interesting, I think.

Something I'd like to add though is that: just because I understand the reasons for the price tags, doesn't mean I have to like it. I mean, I wouldn't mind quite so much if there was more help available for those of us who want to afford the technology. Some of us don't get help affording even things that are considered essential tools, let alone things that are only for pleasure once you're no longer in school. I totally agree that the price of the Canute is more reasonable than the cost of many of the things out there that are potentially useful tools for the visually impaired. I also accept that there is plenty of technology out there that costs as much and isn't as potentially useful... Some of the newer iPads and games machines cost as much, or nearly so, for example. However, that doesn't change the fact that it costs more than my rent for the month, nor the fact that I'm irritated by the insistance on calling those kinds of prices affordable.

Also, a brailler costs that much now? Seriously? When did that happen? My brailler is a limited edition red one, which was only available for a certain length of time when I was in my teens - though I see they have a raspberry "smart brailler" for sale via the RNIB, if you want to pay more than twice the price of a normal brailler to get one. Still, even if you just buy the standard brailler, and are a person or organization who doesn't have to pay VAT on things like that (which is the case via the RNIB in certain situations, and with certain products) that still means it costs more for a brailler than it cost for my computer... Even if you include the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers. I don't even know what to say to that...

Sunday, November 06, 2016

#Reading Ramblings: October 2016 #Book #Reviews (LBE)

It's time to take a look at what I read during October.

With Halloween happening at the end of the month, I intentionally focussed most of my October reading on mysteries, or books that were creepy, scary, weird, or disturbing (or potentially promised to be, based on their title and/or book description). Not every book I read fell in to one of those catagories, but most did... Just thought I'd warn you.

Anyway, like with last month's post, clicking on the book title or author name will take you to the Goodreads page for whichever it is, where you can find out more information about the book or author in question. Also, like with last month's post, the format I've reviewed may not actually be the format I read the book in, since I don't check that most of the time, so if you go to the book page, don't pay any attention to what format I've reviewed. And, finally, like with last month's post, please bear in mind that I read across multiple genres and age ranges, so you'll want to check if the book is appropriate before you read it, especially where younger readers are involved, and especially given October's main reading theme.

OK, so here's what I read last month:

The IslandThe Island by Victoria Hislop
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, there has obviously been a lot of research done to put this novel together, and it's a fascinating - though heartbreaking - glimpse in to what life must have been like for those suffering from one of the oldest diseases known to mankind before treatment was what it is today. On the other hand, there were many places where the plot seemed to drag, and the addition of the parts based in the present not only seemed pointless, but were also misleading, since they are connected to the rest of the book only by association between characters.

Fairy Tales Revisited on Silvery EarthFairy Tales Revisited on Silvery Earth by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is another well-written and enjoyable read from this author. It's an interesting - though certainly not child friendly - take on the old fairy tales, and a great addition to the series.

Mandrake's PlotMandrake's Plot by Helen Laycock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was an excellent read! It's a fun mystery story with some interesting and unusual characters, as well as a great plot.

The Secret of Platform 13The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is a magical and beautifully written read.

Whispers of Darkness (The Deadwood Hunter, #2)Whispers of Darkness by Rachel M. Raithby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was a pretty good read. However, though it was nice seeing the characters relationships developed, I found the first half of the book, which seemed to consist of nothing but that, a bit too slow, and quite frankly would have prefered more of the action I remembered from book one, and less of the intimate moments between Lexia and Linc. The second half, thankfully, was much more interesting, and almost made up for the slow start with the action and surprises the author threw at us in that half of the book.

Holocaust (The Deadwood Hunter, #3)Holocaust by Rachel M. Raithby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a pretty good ending to the trilogy.

Tales of the Peculiar (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #0.5)Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a great addition to the series. The tales are creative and kind of creepy, and the characters in them are interesting.

The Quality of SilenceThe Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For the most part, this was an intense and emotional read, with some beautiful descriptions and a great cast of characters; I especially liked Ruby. The only reason I say, "for the most part," and don't give it the full five stars, is that the way the story switches between being told by Ruby to being from her Mother's point of view at seemingly random points during chapters, made it difficult for me to get in to it properly at first. I got used to it after a while, but my enjoyment of the story would have been improved if there was more obvious warning between viewpoint changes, or the story was only told from one point of view to start with. Also, the constant flashbacks, while useful for getting to know Ruby's Mother better, were another thing that made it difficult for me to get in to the story at first.

The Horror at Camp Jellyjam  (Goosebumps, #33)The Horror at Camp Jellyjam by R.L. Stine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Not the best of the Goosebumps books, that's for sure. There are some parts that could have been done better, especially during the first half of the book, but still a pretty good - and kinda creepy - read.

How I Got My Shrunken Head (Goosebumps, #39)How I Got My Shrunken Head by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this one... It was exactly what a Goosebumps book should be: a little creepy and very weird.

A Night in Terror Tower  (Goosebumps, #27)A Night in Terror Tower by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This story combines some elements of history with the classic elements I love so much from the Goosebumps books, and the result is a frightfully interesting read. Or, perhaps, I should say, "Frightful and interesting," instead?

Thorn in RedThorn in Red by Magaly Guerrero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a fast paced story, which is perfect for those looking for a quick read, especially if you want a tale that's filled with weirdness and blood. I have to admit though, I was sometimes confused about what was going on, especially during the first half of the story. Still, things made sense by the end, and it was an overall good read.

The Goblin SquadThe Goblin Squad by Jeremy Hayes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was an entertaining fantasy read, which will appeal to children and the young at heart. I did find it a little annoying how the author kept refering to the only female character among the main characters as the "pretty friend" of the other characters, or as a "pretty little girl" as though it was essential to constantly remind us that she was a nice looking female character. But other than that, I loved this book.

Norman BloodNorman Blood by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a wonderful addition to the series, which makes for an all round good read. The plot is fascinating and moves at a nice pace, the historical facts are researched well, and the characters are interesting.

Liquorice ShoelaceLiquorice Shoelace by James Field
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is an enjoyable and thought-provoking read, which is well-written and has an interesting plot. It works well as a story in its own right, but also makes a great addition to the series.

Ghost Beach  (Goosebumps, #22)Ghost Beach by R.L. Stine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was absolutely loving this one... Until the way too sudden ending.

Return of the Mummy (Goosebumps, #23)Return of the Mummy by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A perfect addition to the Goosebumps series, and a great creepy read in general.

Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes (Goosebumps, #34)Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Loved this one! It was a creepy and fun read.

Phantom of the Auditorium (Goosebumps, #24)Phantom of the Auditorium by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was a great read; kind of creepy and quite entertaining.

Vampire Breath (Goosebumps, #49)Vampire Breath by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another great, and kinda creepy, read for fans of the Goosebumps books.

They Marvel at the StarThey Marvel at the Star by L J Hick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an excellent story, which is a great read in its own right, as well as being a pretty good account of the Battle of Hastings.

The Battles Of HastingsThe Battles Of Hastings by Steph Bennion
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was an excellent read! I thought the author's theory on how time travel might work was interesting, and enjoyed exploring the possible alternative ways the Battle of Hastings might have ended.

The Dragon's FireThe Dragon's Fire by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a beautiful story! It has lovable characters, and a great plot which will show you the value of true friendship.

The Clue in the Diary (Nancy Drew, #7)The Clue in the Diary by Carolyn Keene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a pretty good read. I enjoyed trying to figure out the clues along with Nancy Drew.

Nancy's Mysterious Letter (Nancy Drew, #8)Nancy's Mysterious Letter by Carolyn Keene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a really good read, which makes an interesting addition to the series.

Please Don't Feed the Vampire! (Give Yourself Goosebumps, #15)Please Don't Feed the Vampire! by R.L. Stine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book was both fun and frustrating. It was fun because of the many possible endings, but frustrating because of the constant back and fourth navigation once I'd made my choice each time. Plus, there were a few times when I didn't actually see what the point of making us do the navigation was, since there wasn't an actual choice to make (unless you include continuing to read or not doing so). I'll probably read the others like this, but it will be more out of curiosity because I love the Goosebumps books than anything, because I prefer the traditional Goosebumps book format.

All That Remains of MeAll That Remains of Me by H.S. Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What can I say about this book? It sounded vaguely interesting, so I grabbed it when it was being offered for review on one of the groups I'm a member of. I'm extremely glad I did! This book was more than just interesting... It was excellent! The main characters are likeable and easy to relate to, and it's wonderful to see how their relationship with one another grows throughout the story. The plot is even more interesting than it sounded from the book description, and written in such a way that it's believable. Plus, the descriptions throughout are fantastic, and the story grabs your attention from page one, holding it until the very end.
*NOTE: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. However, this fact has in no way influenced either my opinion of this book, or the contents of this review.

The Haunted School (Goosebumps, #59)The Haunted School by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was a great read, and is an excellent addition to the series.

Planet of the Lawn Gnomes (Goosebumps Most Wanted, #1)Planet of the Lawn Gnomes by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
OK, this one is weird even by Goosebumps standards... Weird in a good way though.

Son of Slappy (Goosebumps Most Wanted, #2)Son of Slappy by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is another weird addition to the series, which is a kinda creepy book. It's weird and creepy in a good way though, if you know what I mean.

How I Met My Monster (Goosebumps Most Wanted, #3)How I Met My Monster by R.L. Stine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I thought some of the scenes in this one were a bit too disturbing, even for a Goosebumps book. Most of the story was excellent, and was the good kind of scary/creepy/weird. But there were a couple of scenes that pet lovers especially may find upsetting.

Frankenstein's Dog (Goosebumps Most Wanted, #4)Frankenstein's Dog by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an excellent, and kinda scary, addition to the series.

Claws! (Goosebumps: Hall Of Horrors, #1)Claws! by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This one will give you goosebumps for sure! Very sensative pet lovers may find it upsetting in places, and someone who has recently lost a pet should probably not read this book. I'm still giving it the full five stars though, because it deserves it for being one of the few Goosebumps books to actually creep me out for real. I mean, I always find the stories kinda creepy, but in this case I actually had to take a second to remind myself it was just a story... That doesn't happen often with any book.

Night of the Giant Everything (Goosebumps: Hall Of Horrors, #2)Night of the Giant Everything by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is a weird and wonderful addition to the Goosebumps stories.

The Five Masks of Dr. Screem (Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors, #3)The Five Masks of Dr. Screem by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is another well-written story, which is weird and kinda creepy, and makes a great addition to any Goosebumps book collection.

Why I Quit Zombie School (Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors, #4)Why I Quit Zombie School by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was a great read... Not one for the squeamish though.

Don't Scream! (Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors, #5)Don't Scream! by R.L. Stine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a pretty good read, but it's not one of my favourite Goosebumps books; interesting concept, but the actual story could do with some improvements, in my opinion.

The Birthday Party of No Return! (Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors, #6)The Birthday Party of No Return! by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is a great read, which alternates between being entertaining and being scary.

Dr. Maniac Will See You Now (Goosebumps Most Wanted, #5)Dr. Maniac Will See You Now by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was more crazy than creepy, but it was an entertaining and enjoyable read, so I'm not complaining.

Boo! Fore!Boo! Fore! by LB Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Like most anthologies, I enjoyed some of the stories more than others. This was a great collection as a whole though, which made a fun read for Hallowe'en.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

R.I.P. Jacob

Today we sent one of our rodent gang on his journey across the rainbow bridge.

Writing this post is difficult. But not as difficult as the choice we had to make this morning.

I planned to explain soon about how Jacob has been back and fourth to the vet a few times with the same issues, and each time we think he's getting better, but then he's suddenly a mess again, and worse than he was before. I'd actually planned to do tomorrow's Furkid Friday post all about Jacob's continued health issues. Instead I find myself writing a post about how we had to say, "Goodbye," to one of our babies today.

He was losing weight, even though he was eating. He was covered in nasty sores, which were obviously causing him pain, yet he continued to scratch and bite at himself, causing more sores. He was also depressed, and showed no interest in playing any more.

It started, as those who have been following my blog for a while may remember me mentioning a few months back, when we lost one of our gerbils, Bilbo, back in April. The gerbil and degu cages have been side by side ever since we got the gerbils, and Jacob and Bilbo used to sit with only the bars of their cages seporating them from one another, talking together. I don't care what anyone says; I don't care if you don't believe me. They were talking to one another. Bilbo would even come scrambling up to that spot if Jacob was there first and called out. They sat there for ages, and Jacob was devostated when he lost his gerbil pal. He was even more upset then than he had been when we lost our Westie, Kero, a couple of years ago, and he was depressed for a while after that too. I don't think it helped Jacob that our remaining gerbil, Baggins, was only interested in offering Jacob comfort during the first couple of weeks after Bilbo died, and afterwards showed no interest at all in him; even though Bilbo was Baggins' brother, Jacob seemed to take it harder, and struggled to get over it, even after Baggins had moved on.

Before I continue... For the benifit of new readers, I should explain that Jacob was one of a group of four degu brothers. The names of all four are: Jacob, Jasper, Jenks, and Joshua. We've had all four since they were really young, and they've never ever been apart.

At least, they hadn't until we lost Jasper a couple of months after Bilbo died. At that point Jacob got worse, and that's when the theory of it being stress related was presented. Of course, it didn't help that Jacob also bit the inside of his mouth and got an infected cut in his mouth from doing so around that time too. Still, the treatment seemed to help at first, and he started to improve. But then we lost Jenks too, and Jacob was suddenly worse than he'd ever been before.

To cut a long story short, Jacob wasn't responding to the antibiotics very well. Sure, they were clearing up infections whenever he got those, and the cut in his mouth healed, but he was getting more stressed out, so biting and scratching at himself worse than ever. There were a couple of other things they could try. But all those things would cause him even more stress, which wasn't ideal given that stress seemed to be a trigger for him. The stress was also causing him to lose a lot of weight, despite continuing to eat well. He'd lost around 80 grams (a little over three ounces) in the last three months. That's not a good thing for something as small as a degu... He weighed 130 grams (a little over five ounces) during his final weigh-in.

We didn't want to put him through more; couldn't watch him continue to suffer and get worse. So we did what we thought was best for him, and said, "Goodbye."

We'll miss him. His remaining degu brother, Joshua, will miss him especially. But, as much as it hurts to say our goodbyes, we all know it would hurt more watching him continue to suffer. So we let him go.

R.I.P. Jacob
March 9th 2013 - November 3rd 2016.

Goodbye, Jacob Buddy... We miss you already.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - November 2nd 2016

For those waiting for it: "Eadweard - A Story Of 1066" is now available in paperback via CreateSpace and Amazon, and will become available via other places CreateSpace books are distributed to (such as Barnes & Noble) some time in the very near future. You can click on the book's title in this paragraph for the CreateSpace buy link.

So... Are you an author too? If so, beware of inconsistancies in your name when publishing your books. It causes confusion, and could potentially cost you sales. Just saying.

November started yesterday, and with it NaNoWriMo. Are you participating? If so, here are some tools to get you started. If you haven't started yet, there's still time to do so... It's only November 2nd, after all. If you are participating, good luck!


Do you love music as well as writing? Well, whether you do or not, music can often help to breathe life in to a scene, or grow the relationships between characters. So, here are some ways to write about music, which you may find useful while writing your own stories.

Struggling with writers' block? Check out these writing prompts based on dialogue, and see if any of them will help get your creative juices flowing. Always remember that, you don't need an original idea, you just need to put your own unique spin on it, and write it the way only you can.

You should always use your thesaurus with caution After all, there's no point sounding smart if all it will do is confuse your readers, and spoil their enjoyment of your story... Just something for you to bear in mind.

You should also bear in mind that establishing a writing routine doesn't have to mean you write 2000 words or more every day. Every writer is different, and your personal writing routine should reflect that, whether it just has you writing down ideas, has you writing the entire first draft of a short story, or has you writing 2000 words towards whatever larger writing project you're working on.

Regardless of whether you're an author, musician, or some other kind of artist, take a look at these three ways to win an argument with your inner critic.

Last, but certainly not least, you may like to check out this post on how to become a better writer... By not writing. Again, this is something that can apply to artists, musicians, etc, as well as writers. Sometimes you just need to breathe, or explore other ways to be creative.