Wednesday, March 30, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - March 30th 2016

In case you missed my post about it on Saturday...

The eBook version of "Rhubarb The Red-Nosed Rabbit" is now available!

Easter may be over, but that's no reason not to be able to enjoy an Easter themed rabbit story!

Click on the book's title above to go to the Smashwords page for it, where you can buy it in multiple eBook formats, such as mobi (for Kindle) ePub (for Nook and some other eReaders) and html (for reading using an internet browser). Other formats are also available.

Or, you can look for it on the websites of eBook retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and Kobo, among others.

The paperback version isn't available just yet,but it will be as soon as it can be arranged.

If you grab a copy... I hope you enjoy it!

***NOTE***
Reviews are always welcomed and appreciated. Remember: reviews not only help other customers decide whether something is right for them, but they also help authors. So, if you'd like to leave reviews for any of my books - old or new - I'd be very grateful. You can do so on any of the retailers they're available from (though some of the retailers will only allow it if you've brought the book from the retailer in question) as well as on Goodreads. If you do leave reviews - or have done so in the past - then huge thanks go out to you from me.

Finally, huge thanks go out to Chris The Story Reading Ape for continuing to be his amazing self, and helping to spread the word about my book's release. My thanks also go out to fellow authors, Alex Butcher and Kevin Morris, who also helped me by posting about this release. Not forgetting, of course, the various friends, fans, and followers - both my own, and those of the people linked to in this post - who also helped me spread the word... Your help is very much appreciated!

Monday, March 28, 2016

TV talk and movie mutterings - March 2016

Time for this month's post of new to me movies and TV shows, which contains a couple from the end of February as well as those from March.

As with the similar posts from the past couple of months, I've not written very detailed reviews, but instead just given my opinion of the movie or TV show in question, so I've included links to where you can find out more about the movie or TV show, if you want to... Just click on the title of it, and you'll go right there.

So...

Van Helsing (movie):
This movie was an OK movie, and had some funny parts, but I wasn't overly fussed with it. I watched it with my brother, Carl, and our Dad, while I was in Wales, because it fit the steampunk theme of the weekend, but the only one of the three of us to really enjoy it was my Dad. It's possible this was at least partially due to the lack of audio description in a very visual movie... Which, fair play to him, my Dad did try to make up for by describing things to us during the movie... But I think, personally, that I wouldn't have been too fussed on it even if I had a complete description of every single event in the movie. Like I said though, it did have some quite amusing scenes, and was an OK movie. It just wasn't really my thing, I think.

Fairytale: Story Of The Seven Dwarves (movie):
Yes, I'm aware that the link takes you to a movie called "The 7th Dwarf" - it's the same movie. It's one of those with different titles depending on the country. I hate when they do that... It can get confusing. Anyway, I stumbled upon this one about to start accidentally, and thought I'd give it a watch... Since it was a fairy tale re-telling of sorts, and I generally enjoy those. I'm glad I did stop to watch it, because it turned out to be quite entertaining, with a large number of amusing scenes. In other words, it's a great one if you enjoy fairy tale re-tellings like I do, and want something that will make you laugh.

Journey To Dinosaur Island (movie):
Another of those with slightly different titles, depending on what country you're in. I originally only wanted to watch this one because it mentioned dinosaurs, but I ended up very glad I watched it, because it was an excellent movie; especially for those who have any interest in palaeontology and geology.

Far From The Madding Crowd (movie):
I' read the book for this one some time ago, and thought it was "OK" - not great, but not too bad. But I figured I'd check out the movie anyway. I felt the same way about the movie as the book... It's "OK" but nothing special.

The Shannara Chronicles (TV show):
I've read the books this series is based on, and been eager to watch the series since I heard it was being created, so I was hoping that the anticipation hadn't caused me to raise my hopes too much, and - more to the point - that I wouldn't be disappointed when the show was finally showing over here. Luckily, in this case I was not disappointed. The series is a little different to the books... As is usually the case when a movie or TV series is created based on a book... And isn't quite as good, in my opinion. But it's still an entertaining and enjoyable series. Yes, even without audio description.

Sanctuary (TV show):
This is one I'm only now seeing, despite it being an old one (old by today's TV standards anyway). I'm not sure what to say about it. The thing is, it seems like a great show, and yet I can't enjoy it. Why? Because it's too visual, and doesn't have audio description available for it. So, as good as the show seems to be, missing out on most of what's going on just leaves me confused and disappointed, with the result that I quickly gave up on watching it.

The Brecon Beacons with Iolo Williams (TV documentary):
This was a very interesting show, and I wouldn't mind watching an expansion on any of the things discussed in it. Not because where I was born and raised in Wales is on part of the Brecon Beacons, but because the mountains are so vast that I know the episodes of this show were only able to cover the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, and my interest in both history and the natural world make me curious about the rest. I watched this with Carl as well, and he seemed to really enjoy it too.

We also watched an interview with Sir David Attenborough, which was both interesting and entertaining, and which all of us really enjoyed (all of us being Carl, Nan, Dad, and myself, of course).

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Rhubarb The Red-Nosed Rabbit - officially released today!

"I’m sure you’ve heard all about the red-nosed reindeer that saved Christmas. But, have you ever heard the story of the red-nosed rabbit that saved Easter?

Everybunny has always teased Rhubarb because of his bright red nose, even though it’s not his fault he was born different. But when a misty night threatens to stop the Easter Bunny from making his yearly delivery of Easter eggs to the children of the world, Rhubarb’s red nose may be the only thing that can save Easter."

That's the synopsis for "Rhubarb The Red-Nosed Rabbit" - my latest book, which I've officially released today, since it's an Easter themed story, and tomorrow is Easter Sunday... As you probably already knew.

You can already buy the eBook from Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as from the retailers they distribute to, such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and Kobo, among others. So, regardless of your eReader of choice, you can get it in a format that works for you. In fact, Smashwords makes it available in formats such as html and plain text, so if you can read this post, you can read the book.

The paperback will become available as soon as it can be arranged.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Furkid Friday: red plastic ringing thing

Hellooo everyone! This is Baggins the gerbil.

The Mummy human went away somewhere for lots of days. We don't understand why she would go away and leave us, but that's what she did. She did come back though, so I suppose that counts for something. But that's not the point of this post. This post is to tell you about a strange thing that happened while she was away.

The Daddy human held out this red thing that talked in the Mummy human's voice. My ratty sister, Star, who tried to taste the thing, said it was made of plastic. Why would a plastic thing be talking in the Mummy human's voice?

As I said, my ratty sister, Star, tried to eat it. But my gerbil brother, Bilbo, and I didn't trust it so wouldn't go near it, and neither would our other ratty sister, Skye. All four of my degu brothers crowded close to listen to the Mummy human's voice though.

Maybe they were more eager because they were missing her more? I mean, we were all glad when the Mummy human came back, but the Daddy human was here handing out nibbles and attention, so we gerbils and our ratty sisters weren't too concerned about the Mummy human not being here. We might have been if she'd been gone longer, but as it was, we were more surprised she'd want to leave than anything. On the other hand, before that strange thing got held out to us all by the Daddy human, the degus had been a bit upset, and were huddled together looking sad. Hearing the Mummy human's voice from the red plastic thing seemed to make them feel better, though I can't think why.

We're still not quite sure what the red plastic thing is, but I know I've seen both of the human caretakers talking in to it sometimes, especially after it makes a ringing noise. They did this before the Mummy human went away, and have done it since.

But, to us, it's just a red plastic ringing thing, which somehow sounded like the Mummy human.

Squeak soon,
Baggins

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - March 23rd 2016

The paperback version of "Zeena And The Mermaid" (the third book in my "Zeena Dragon Fae" series) is now available from CreateSpace and Amazon, and will soon be available from Barnes & Noble too.

(Click on the book title for the CreateSpace link).

I plan to upload the files for "Rhubarb The Red-Nosed Rabbit" on the weekend (which is when the eBook version is officially released). So, all being well, that one won't be too long in becoming available in paperback too... As long as it goes through the review process without any trouble. Other than that, it's just those two we're having issues with the covers for, and one that I'm waiting for one of those before requesting the proof for, because I don't want to make book three of a series available in paperback before book two is available, if you know what I mean.

***

Writing a book of your own? Never underestimate the power of perseverance. It takes work to achieve your dream of being a published author, but it's achievable, so keep working on that book.

While you're working on it, here are some tips for writing clear dialogue, as well as some on how to subtly boost your dialogue's power with body language.

Also, remember that it's important to write about what you know, as well as who you know. However, as discussed in the post I just linked to, this doesn't actually mean that you can only write about things and people you know. In fact, in the case of the people, it's probably best not to. What it means is that you need to take the time to learn what you don't know before writing about a particular topic or type of person, otherwise your lack of knowledge will show, and it will spoil the reading experience for your readers.

While getting to know the character(s) in your story, you'll want to ask the question, "What's your motivation?" This will help you to get to know your character's reasons for doing what they do, in order to help you to make them more believable as people.

Plus, if your book is a science fiction one, and you're stuck for ideas for naming your planets, check out this planet name generator.

***

Do you want to publish your book yourself? If so, here are 12 things to consider before you start. Also, if you're going to self-publish, that means deciding which of the four main self-publishing platforms you're going to use. Personally, I use Smashwords for my eBooks, and they distribute to Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, and a few others on my behalf. For my paperbacks, on the other hand, I use CreateSpace, who distribute to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a few others on my behalf. Both platforms also make books available to be ordered by libraries too.

Of course, if you're going to be publishing your work, sooner or later you're going to want to try and sell copies of your book(s). That means you need to build up your author platform and interact with people. If you don't, you'll have nobody to try and sell your books to. Well, unless you're one of those lucky people with so many actual friends and family members lined up to buy your books - and actually doing so when you have them published - that you'll be selling piles of books without even trying. However, even then you may want to sell to other people. Besides, most people aren't that lucky, and need to work to get enough interest in their books to get sales. So, since that's the case, you'll probably want to check out these 11 tips for building a successful writer's platform.

Also... In case you don't know... It appears that, even if you're self-published and use a print on demand service, you need to send your books to The British Library (or your country's equivalent). If you're in the UK, here's how to do it.

***

Are you on Twitter? Also, are you suffering from Writers' block? If you answered yes to both of those, you may want to follow WritingPrompt.Com. They have an interesting variety of prompts they post... Some of them are bound to spark ideas. If you're not on Twitter, you can still check out their website.

Or, I suppose, if you're really struggling, you could try this online plot generator.

Speaking of story ideas... Will we ever run out of stories to tell? Have we done so already, and just don't realize it? Is a story apocolypse coming? Or, are we already in one now without knowing it? What are your thoughts on the matter?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Of Munchkin, Trumps, and time with family (FD and kinda LBE)

OK, time for a post about the rest of my trip to Wales...

The original plan, when it was decided a little over a week before I actually went to Wales that I'd be going, was for Kelly to travel with me as far as London, and then put me on the last train, before he headed back to take care of the rodent gang, since he wasn't joining me for the trip to Wales (someone needed to stay home with the rodent gang, after all). It would have meant a train up to London, a cab ride across London, and another train from London to the station closest to where my parents live. Dad was then going to pick both my brother, Carl, and me up from the station, since Carl was travelling from Norwich at the same time. Dad was then going to drop me off with my Mam, where I'd stay until some time on the Saturday (apart from a short while on the Friday afternoon, when Mam was taking me to see my other brother, Wayne, and his dog, Maya... I think she's aStaffordshire Bull Terrier crossed with a Whippet). Carl and I would then both be with Dad until some time on the Sunday - since we were going with him to the party, and the party was the Saturday evening - at which point Carl would go and spend some time with Mam, while I stayed with Dad. We would both be with Dad again Monday evening ready for Dad to be taking us both home on the Tuesday by car.

But it didn't happen like that. Not for me, anyway... Carl's journey went as planned, but mine didn't.

My Mam drove down here on the Wednesday with her English Cocker Spaniel puppy, Ebonie, and stayed here the night. Then Mam, Ebonie and I made what turned out to be a very long car journey back to Wales. It was so long because my Mam ended up getting sick early Thursday morning, so we had to make more stops along the way than we otherwise would have done; the journey back with Dad took maybe half the time. I then went to my Dad's place early on Friday because of my Mam being so sick, and Carl and I both stayed with Dad all weekend. Wayne came up to see us on the Sunday, and Carl and I spoke to Mam with our mobiles a bit, but neither Carl or I saw Mam until Tuesday morning when Dad took us to say "goodbye" as we were heading for home. As it turned out, I didn't get to meet Maya, but at least I got to see both my brothers, as well as my parents and my Nan.

So, yeah... It was a good trip for the most part, but it didn't work out quite as planned, and had parts that didn't go smoothly at all. Plus, it was a shame about Mam being sick, and me and Carl not getting to meet Maya.

Even the plans for food didn't go entirely as planned in the first couple of days.

The original plan had been for me to have some of my Mam's quiche with chips (fries) and baked beans Thursday evening. But I ended up grabbing a vegetable pasty on the way back to Mam's place, and just had the piece of quiche on its own when I woke up Friday morning. Then I had dinner at Dad's instead of Mam's on Friday, and Carl brought us all take-away from a really nice place not too far from where Dad and Nan live. Not only was the food excellent, but the portions were big enough that a large portion of chips was enough for the four of us to have a decent amount. Plus, they not only have a pretty good vegetarian selection, but can also offer a 100% guarantee that the chips aren't cooked with any meat or fish (which you can't guarantee in most chip shops). I had my share of the chips with pea fritters and curry sauce.

After that, things went more to plan with food.

On Saturday we ate party food, and Sunday Dad cooked a roast dinner that consisted of roast potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, carrot and swede mash, and sprouts (with pork for those who ate meat, which was everyone but me). Then I brought us all take-away on Monday, so we all had Indian food. Mine was a mild vegetable curry with chips. Yes, more chips. I could have had rice, but I didn't want to. I really do love my chips!

Anyway...

My Dad has this drinks machine similar to the ones coffee shops have. It's pretty cool actually. He has loads of different drinks for it (mainly types of coffee, I think) and also uses it to boil just the amount of water needed to fill a cup to make tea. I mainly drank different kinds of teas while I was there, with the odd mug of Wispa hot chocolate thrown in when I fancied some cocoa. But I also had a sample sip of a vanilla latte. I'm not really a coffee person... OK, I actually hate coffee... But Dad offered me a sip to try it, so I figured I would. It tasted a bit better than regular coffee, but I still didn't think too much of it, and plan to stick to my tea and cocoa. At least I can say I tried it though. I've also tried a cappuccino in the past, which I also thought wasn't anything special, though have to admit it tasted better than regular coffee. Not by enough to make me want to drink it on anything close to resembling a regular basis though. But, again, at least I can say I tried it.

***

Carl and Nan (Dad's Mother) often play Knock-Out Whist (also called "Trumps") when they're together. I haven't really played much cards beyond Klondike Solitaire, Go Fish, and Snap, so they taught me how to play.

I got really lucky with it, and ended up winning a lot of the games. Nan won a lot too, but Carl only won once. We all enjoyed playing it though.

Carl also introduced us to the Munchkin card game, which he has the Munchkin Accessability Kit for. We also downloaded the QR reader on to my iPhone, so that I could use it to read my own cards. But since using it is a slow process, and since Carl was showing us how to play it so it was easier if we actually knew each other's cards in this situation, Carl and I allowed others to read the bits of the cards the QR reader is needed for instead of messing about with the app. It's really cool that the option to use the app, and make the game fully accessable to the blind, is there though. So, thanks for that 64 Ounce Games!

My luck wasn't so good with this one, and I didn't win a single game. The first time, Carl, Wayne, Nan and I played, and Carl won. The second time it was Dad instead of Wayne, and Dad won. The third game I didn't play, because I went for a nap instead, and Nan won that one. Anyway, it was a fun and very amusing game. I'm not sure I'd want to play it all the time, but I would play it again, it was certainly a great one, and it was nice for a change of pace.

***

So... That was my visit to Wales.

At least, all that's worth mentioning but isn't covered in other posts, like my post about the party last week, my post about the creative writing app on Wednesday, and the movie and TV shows I plan to tell you about on Monday (when I tell you about others I watched in the past month).

I came back exhausted and not feeling too well, so spent the first week after I got back doing little more than eating, sleeping, and trying to catch up on things online. The second week wasn't much better. After that I was back to what passes for normal for me though. Luckily, I was prepared for the tiredness at least, so had plenty of posts I could fall back on for my blog while I rested and recovered, since I set up some posts before I went away for while I was away, and about a week after I got back.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

"Lost In The Labyrinth Of My Mind" by Kevin Morris is now in print

An announcement from fellow author, Kevin Morris:

I am pleased to announce that my collection of poetry, "Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind" is now available, in print from Moyhill Publishing: http://moyhill.com/lost/.

Lost can also be found, as a Kindle download here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01AF5EPVY?keywords=Lost%20in%20the%20labyrinth%20of%20my%20mind&qid=1452670393&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1.

The poems in Lost cover a wide spectrum, ranging from the humorous through to musings on nature and our place in life's rich tapestry.

Also, here's some more information on where to buy or borrow "Lost In The Labyrinth Of My Mind" - in case you want to get your hands on a copy.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A few #jokes for you (AE&D)

Little Johnny and his family were sat around the table. When dinner was served, Little Johnny immediately started eating.

"Johnny, you have to say your prayers first," his Mother scolded.

"No, I don't," replied Little Johnny.

"Yes, you do," said his Mother. "We always say prayers before eating at our house."

"I know," replied Little Johnny. "But this is Grandma's house, and she knows how to cook."

***~~~***

An old man and his friend were out for a walk in the countryside.

"Look at that group of cows," said the old man.

"Herd," said his friend.

"Heard what?" asked the old man.

"Herd of cows," replied his friend.

"Of course I've heard of cows," the old man replied irritably.

"I mean, the cows are in a herd" his friend explained patiently.

"What do I care what the cows heard?" snapped the old man.

At this point, his friend gave up.

***~~~***

A man had been contemplating the world’s population.

"It’s amazing," he told his friend. "Every time I breathe in and out someone dies."

"Have you tried mouthwash?" asked his friend.

***~~~***

“Doc, I can’t stop singing The Green, Green Grass of Home,” said the patient.

“That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome,” replied the doctor.

“Is it common? ” the patient asked.

“It’s not unusual,” the doctor said.

***~~~***

Q: How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None, that’s a hardware problem.

***~~~***

The three stages of life:

Youth: plenty of time and energy, but no money.
Adulthood: plenty of energy and money, but no time.
Old age: plenty of time and money, but no energy.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Furkid Friday - March 18th 2016

Hello humans, rodents, and anyone else reading this.

This is Bilbo the gerbil.

I don't have much to say today, but here are a few photos of me and my brother, Baggins, that were taken recently.

These ones were taken back in February...


And this one was taken about a week and a half ago...


Enjoy!

Squeak soon,
Bilbo

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

#Writing Wednesday: story dice

While I was in Wales at the end of February, my brother, Carl, introduced me to a fun - yet also useful - app for the iPhone. Which, by the way, is also available for other tablets and similar devices.

Anyway, the app wasstory dice, and I mention it in a writing post because... As it says on the app store...

Story Dice is a creative writing prompt tool to come up with ideas for plot, character, and setting. It can be used for both written and oral storytelling.

It's worth noting that, though the "dice" show up as pictograms, it works so well with Apple's voiceover software that the app is still accessable to the blind without any assistance being required from a sighted person, making this a great tool for those who can't read well (such as young children) or those who rely on screen reader technology to read what's on the screen for them (such as the visually impaired) as well.

Most importantly though, this is a potentially fun way of helping someone struggling with writers' block to get their creative juices flowing.

Carl and I used it to entertain each other by making up flash fiction on the spot, when we had an hour spare to mess around on the Sunday evening. Most of our stories weren't that great, but it was good fun.

I did make a note of one of mine though, because I was quite pleased with it - and Carl seemed to like it too - so I plan to expand on it in the future, as well as take the time to iron out the rough edges, if you know what I mean. I'm not sure if Carl plans to work with any of his in the future... I didn't ask, to be honest.

Are you thinking this isn't for you because you don't write flash fiction? Think again! For one thing, the app doesn't have to be used for flash fiction. For another thing, there are 5 smart reasons to write flash fiction, even if it's only from time to time.

Anyway...

I happen to think it's a fun and useful app, and Carl obviously thinks so too, since he recommended it to me. We also both grabbed the spooky story dice version, since it contains some "dice" that the other version doesn't.

Oh, and... If you're wondering... No. I did not get asked by anyone to tell you how totally awesome I think the app is, and I'm not being paid for it either (which is a real shame, but there you go). I'm writing this post because I want to, and telling you about how awesome the app is because it's how I feel, and I want you to know about it... Especially those of you reading this who are writers too.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Eight birthdays and one steampunk party (LBE and FD)

First, the birthdays...

There were four birthdays I know about in February: Rita's cat, Karma, turned 11 on February 5th.
My Dad's girlfriend, Cath, turned 50 on February 16th. Our nephew, Devon, turned 17 on February 25th. And, last but not least, my brother (Carl)'s girlfriend, Tory, turned 25 on February 27th.

So, a belated happy birthday to you all, Karma, Cath, Devon, and Tory.

While I'm mentioning birthdays, I'll mention the March ones too, since there has already been one of those, and will be a couple more really soon: our friend, and one of my cover artists, Jacob, had his birthday on March 12th. My brother Wayne, will turn 36 tomorrow (March 15th). My honorary niece, Emma, will turn 6 on March 18th. And my friend, Rita, will be celebrating her birthday on March 28th (I'll let her tell you how old she'll be, if she wants to share that information)

So, a belated happy birthday to Jacob, and an early happy birthday to you all, Wayne, Emma, and Rita.

Also, thanks to Rita and Karma for this great card they sent me to thank me for Karma's birthday treats:


***

My Dad's girlfriend, Cath, celebrated her 50th birthday with a steampunk fancy dress party.

Now, I'm sure at least some of you are wondering what steampunk is, so...

Steampunk is modern technology—iPads, computers, robotics, air travel—powered by steam and set in the 1800’s.

Or, to put it another way...

Steampunk is an inspired movement of creativity and imagination. With a backdrop of either Victorian England or America’s Wild West at hand, modern technologies are re-imagined and realized as elaborate works of art, fashion, and mechanics. If Jules Verne or H.G. Wells were writing their science fiction today, it would be considered “steampunk.”

If you want more information... Go here.

Anyway, the reason I mention it is because I went for a visit to Wales towards the end of February to go to the party. I'm only getting around to posting about it now, because I had some other stuff I wanted to post about first.

Anyway...

I only decided to go quite close to the party date, so my costume wasn't as good as most would have been, since limitations in time, funds, and availability of suitable items that would fit me made things difficult. I did what I could with the time, resources and funds available to me though. But, hey, that's what happens when you only give yourself just over a week to make the arrangements for a costume party, and don't already have a costume in your posession.

Anyway, the costume turned out OK, I think. I was meant to be an old style cook, since we decided it was appropriate for my... Well... Slightly rounded body shape, if you know what I mean. Also, we hoped it would be easy to get pieces that would at least make a costume of some sort.

You may have already seen the photos on Facebook. But, for those who missed them... Or who aren't on Facebook... Here they are:

First, here's my Dad with his girlfriend, Cath:


And here's my brother, Carl:


Here's me:


And here are a few shots of me and Carl together:



No. I'm not picking my nose in one of those photos... I was thinking. Carl and I didn't really know anyone beyond Dad and Cath, so we were keeping ourselves entertained with games while they were socializing, and I was thinking about my answer to the question he'd just asked me, unaware that Dad had the camera pointed in our direction. We were playing the game where you have to pick a certain amount of things you'd save or want to take with you in certain situations, but with the added complication of having to provide valid reasons for doing so, rather than just giving a list. For example, one of our questions was "if you were stranded on a desert island, and had to pick eight books to have with you, which would they be? And why, out of all the books in the world, would you pick those particular books?"

OK, back to the party and costumes...

There were loads of other photos taken while we were at the party, but I'm only sharing these ones, because they're the only ones involving me and my family. At least, the only ones I have access to, since I know we showed up in at least one of the photos taken by someone else at the party, and I dare say we showed up in others too.

Anyway...

I should have had a white apron, but I couldn't find a big enough one that I could get to me in time, so I had to make do with the blue one (my choice was blue, green, or red; I'm not 100% certain, but I would think blue would have been a more likely alternative to white than red or green in the 1800s, and Kelly, my Mam, and my Grandma all agreed with me when I asked their opinions). I also should have had a bit more of a girly outfit, if you know what I mean. But, again, I had to work with what I could find, and at least I wasn't in joggers (sweats) and a t-shirt, which is what I usually wear. ;)

I didn't have any of the gadgets or accessories, since I had neither the time or funds to arrange any that would work alongside my costume. But, hey, I was an old fashioned cook with an iPhone in my apron pocket... Which you can't see, but it is in there with the rolling pin... So I suppose that would count. It was the best I could manage on short notice at least, and Dad and Cath just appreciated that I made the effort, so it's all good, and everyone's happy enough. Although, I'm hoping if I do this again - or anything similar - I'll have the time to do a better job with the costume for it.

It was a pretty good party. Plus, I was very impressed with the selection of vegetarian friendly options available. At most parties you'll have one or two things that are vegetarian friendly, but this party had a lot. I learned later that one of Cath's best friends is vegetarian, so that may account for it. But, regardless of the reason, I was impressed. I was able to have a full plate of food, while still only having a small sample of each item. There was everything from cheese and pineapple to curried sweet potatoes and vegetable quiche. Not to mention salad items and fresh bread rolls. The only thing I was disappointed about with the food was the lack of cake. I can't help it... I think there should be cake at a party, so I was extremely disappointed that there wasn't. My Dad kind of made up for it with the Toblerone cake and raspberry pavlova he served for tea on Sunday, but I still think the food on offer at the party should have included some cake. Sorry, but I do!

OK... This post is long enough, so... I'll tell you about the rest of my trip to Wales another day... Probably next week.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Valentine's pizza and Okami (FD)

We did our Valentine's celebrations late this year. They happened after I was back from Wales. We didn't do much even then though... Just ate Pizza. Pizza Hut delivers where we are, so we had Pizza Hut pizza... I love Pizza Hut pizza!

Kelly got me a late Valentine's gift though, which is the reason I'm writing this post.

The gift was this Timber Wolf teddy:


I've named him Okami, which is Japenese for wolf (or a Japenese name that means wolf... It's one of the two... That kind of thing is a grey area when you're not familiar with more than the odd word of a language).

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Giveaway: win a #free signed print copy of "Lost In The Labyrinth Of My Mind" by K Morris - act NOW!

Fellow author, Kevin Morris, is running a contest for you to win a free signed print copy of his latest book of poetry "Lost In The Labyrinth Of My Mind" via his blog.

Here are the details:

I am offering the chance to win a print copy of my recently released collection of poetry, “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind”.

“Lost” is currently only available as a Kindle download

I am, however in the final stages of producing a print copy (the book is with the printer and should be available for sale at a cost of £11.45 by late March.

If you would like to win a free signed copy of “Lost in the Labyrinth” please answer the following question

What is the title of my first collection of poetry?

Please send your entries via email to newauthoronline (at) gmail dot com, putting “Competition” in the subject line.

Rules:

1. Only one print copy of “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind” is being offered.
2. The first person to email me with the correct answer wins a free copy of “Lost”.
3. The winner will be contacted by email with a request that they provide their full postal address so the book can be posted.
4. Your personal data will be deleted once the competition closes. It will not be shared with anyone.
If, having read “Lost” you would like to write a review, this would be very much appreciated. You are, however under absolutely no obligation to do so.
Good luck.

Kevin
The original post can be found at http://newauthoronline.com/2016/03/12/your-chance-to-win-a-free-copy-of-lost-in-the-labyrinth-of-my-mind/.

Good luck!

***~~~***

Edited on March 15th 2016 to add:
The results are in... To find out who won, go to http://newauthoronline.com/2016/03/14/results-of-the-competition-to-win-a-print-copy-of-lost-in-the-labyrinth-of-my-mind/

Friday, March 11, 2016

Furkid Friday: a very degu birthday (FD)

Hi humans, rodenty types, and anyone else reading this.

This is Jacob the degu.

My degu brothers and I had one of those birthday things two days ago.

The humans got us a new house for our birthday, since we'd eaten the other one. Well, we hadn't completely eaten it, but we'd eaten enough of it that it didn't keep us as warm and protected as it should on cold nights any more.

Anyway... They were nice and let us have the new one the day before our birthday.

Then they got out the flashy thing and took a couple of photos of us playing in our cage, so you could see us and our new house around our third birthday. So, here are the photos:



We also got extra nibbles on our actual birthday. There are always extra nibbles when we celebrate birthdays around here... It's our favourite thing about those things you humans call birthdays!

Our favourite nibbles are nuts, Cheerios, and dried pasta. We're also quite partial to a treat that's officially for chinchillas, but is fine for us to have, which is a sort of low sugar rodent cookie.

OK, I'm making myself hungry here, so I'm off to find some nibbles... If my brother, Jasper, hasn't eaten them all...

Squeak soon,
Jacob

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Degu buddies turn 3

Today is the 3rd birthday of my degus, Jacob, Jasper, Jenks, and Joshua.

I'm not sure how they got to be three years old already. But I never can get my head around how fast time seems to fly, and how the years seem to zoom by, and wonder how we got to a certain day quite often... I haven't figured out how to slow the world down yet.

Well, I did recently come up with a potential idea involving a very large - but friendly, of course - space creature and an extremely long and thick rope. Unfortunately, not only could I find neither a big enough rope, nor a large and friendly enough space creature, but I also couldn't figure out how to get said space creature to hear my request over the rest of the planet's noise, and the various radio signals that are likely bouncing about all over the place in space. So, I was forced to abandon that plan... For the time being, at least.

Anyway... Back to the degus...

However it happened, their third birthday is here. So...

Happy 3rd birthday, degu buddies!

#Writing Wednesday - March 9th 2016

In case you missed the post... Or need a reminder...

The eBook versions of some of my books are on sale until March 12th 2016 as part of Smashwords Read An eBook Week 2016.

To see which ones, and grab the links and coupon codes, go to this post. As I say in the post I just linked to... Smashwords offers such a variety of formats that if you can read this post, you can read the eBooks. Alternatively, you can grab the format that works best for your eReader of choice.

Thanks to Kevin and Chris - as well as some of their blog followers - for helping me to spread the word! :)

Also...

Don't forget: plenty of other authors have their books enrolled too, so it might be worth checking out the Read An eBook Week specials. You never know... You might just find your new favourite author!

***

As a writer, will I ever become famous? That's the big question, isn't it? Well, unfortunately, the answer is probably not. This is why I always say you should write because you love to write, and not for the hope of fame and fortune. I mean, if you get those things... Great! But don't count on them. You have to accept that you are 100% responsible for making your writing dreams come true, but also be aware that there are a lot of others trying to do the same, so you can't count on being a best-seller.

However, if you want to increase your chances of getting noticed and becoming famous, here are the 7 things writers need to create great content, 7 ways to nail your author SEO, and some tips on how to make an eBook marketing campaign. They aren't guaranteed to result in enough sales to make you rich and famous - unfortunately. But it doesn't hurt to try, right?

Author interviews can help too, so here's a post on the art and craft of author interviews to help you make the most of your interview experience... Whether you're the one being interviewed, or the one doing the interview.

Famous or not, this is the journey of a writer.

Also, here are some guidelines as to the average wordcounts you need for your genre, and you may want to be aware of these 10 publishing trends.

For the record, I happen to agree with these 4 reasons why you should never base your characters off of real people as a general rule. Although, I can understand why it would be tempting to do so... Especially with people you hate and want to put in situations where you can get revenge. I also would like to point out that there are acceptions to this rule... Just as there are acceptions to most rules when it comes to writing.

Finally... While positive reviews are always what you want to get for your books, you need to accept that mean reviews are a fact of life, and that no book is going to be loved by everyone. So, if you get some bad reviews, here's how to get over them.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Of Mother's Day, dinosaurs, Kool-Aid, dentists, and the weather (FD)

It was Mother's Day here in the UK yesterday.

So... Belated Happy Mother's Day to my Mam!

Also to Kelly's Mom, though I'm focussing on sending the wishes to my Mam, because we tend to focus on my Mam when it's Mother's Day here (usually in March, but sometimes in April) and Kelly's Mom when it's Mother's Day in the US and Canada (in May). This is because my Mam lives in the UK, and Kelly's Mom lives in Canada.

Anyway, I did wish my Mam a Happy Mother's Day on the phone and on Facebook yesterday, and also sent her a gift. But I figured I'd say it on my blog today too. And now I have.

***

These dinosaurs showed up for me at the end of January:


Iggy sent them to me when the Kool-Aid he sent me for Christmas didn't show up. It sucks, since Kool-Aid is really tricky to get hold of over here; so are many things you can get easily in the US and Canada, especially if they're food items. But it's totally not Iggy's fault it didn't show up... Stupid mailmen either lost it or stole it, I reckon. OK, most likely lost it, since stealing mail is a big no-no. However, sometimes I wonder. All I know for sure though is that Iggy sent it, but I didn't get it. I had a cheque from my Grandma go missing too. That one I know just got lost, since it had my name on it so couldn't be cashed by anyone else. Grandma had to send a replacement so we could have our Christmas money from her. If I'm really lucky, the Kool-Aid will still show up at some random point in the future. I'm not holding my breath though.

Anyway, I've named the dinosaurs Rex and Sarah. I'm sure you can easily figure out which is which. Not the most unique names, perhaps, but I like them, and that's what matters.

I've already said it to him, but... Thanks Iggy!

***

We've had some nasty storms again. Still no snow though. At least, none worth mentioning... I don't count attempts at snowing where it's no longer snow by the time it hits the ground. So, it looks like I'm got getting any snow worth mentioning this time around. Oh well, better luck next year.

Well, I did get this cool snowflake card from Rita...


Which had an extra snowflake inside...


...But that's a different kind of snow. ;)

Thanks though, Rita... It's a cool card! :)

Also, I used it to try out taking photos with TapTapSee, which is an app visually impaired people can use to take photos and have it tell them what the photos contain. I've had it on my iPhone since I got the phone, but never really played with it until now... It's really cool.

Anyway... As I was saying...

We have had some nice spells between storms. Like the days Kelly took these photos of the ocean from our windows...


...And yesterday morning when, as I said on Facebook, it was nice enough that I was "sat in a shaft of sunlight coming in at just the right angle to beam on me as I sit at my computer, while enjoying the breeze coming in through the open window from the ocean, and listening to the sounds of the ocean itself, the sea birds, and neighbours - many with young children and/or dogs - who are out enjoying themselves on the beach, with the odd interuption of the swish of a car going by." (Something I like to do whenever the weather is nice enough to have the window open... Especially since I got my new comfy computer chair, and we changed the computer room around in early February, so that I'm more comfortable when sat at my computer, and my computer is closer to the window, while Kelly's is further away from it).

Like I said though, most of the past few months we've had plenty of bad storms, where the ocean has been so rough that the roaring of the waves is the only thing you can hear over the howling wind and lashing rain, and things look more like this...


.... Or worse...

One storm that hit at the end of January, for example, while not as bad as predicted, was bad enough that I had to cancel an appointment I had with my dentist just to be on the safe side. Luckily, the appointment wasn't urgent... Just that another filling had come out, leaving me with a hole in one of my teeth. Besides, it wasn't bothering me, so I decided to just leave it be at the time, and to try again to get it sorted out at the end of February, when the weather would hopefully be better. Except I never got around to making a new appointment, and was so tired from my trip to Wales that I probably wouldn't have been up for being pulled about by a dentist anyway. I still haven't gotten around to making an appointment... I should sort that out...

Anyway... Yes... For those of you who missed me mentioning it on Facebook, and didn't get told directly... I went for a visit to Wales near the end of February. That was the "away for almost a week" I mentioned on Wednesday. I'll tell you about that another day though. In fact, I've got a couple of posts planned in which to tell you about it. Oh, and... For the record... It rained almost the entire time I was there. But, hey, of course it did... It's Wales! ;)

Sunday, March 06, 2016

#Smashwords Read An EBook Week 2016 - #eBook #Sale!

To celebrate Smashwords read an eBook week 2016, some of my books are on sale from March 6th to March 12th 2016.

The three books that are available of my "Zeena Dragon Fae" series are 75% off. That's Zeena And The Dryad, Zeena And The Gryphon, and Zeena And The Mermaid, all at just $1.25 each for one week only. That's all three books for less than the normal price of one of them!

To take advantage of the offer, simply go to their Smashwords pages - which I've made easy for you by linking them here; you only need to click on their titles - then just add them to your cart, and enter coupon code RAE75 at checkout (yes, it's the same coupon code for all three, and you can use it for all three at once; simply put it in the coupon code box for each book, and click the "apply coupon" button).

Also, Degu's Day Out, Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie, and Waves Of Broken Dreams And Other Poems, are on sale too. They're all just 99 cents for one week only!

As mentioned above... To take advantage of the offer, simply go to their Smashwords pages - which I've made easy for you by linking them here; you only need to click on their titles - then just add them to your cart, and enter coupon code RAE50 at checkout this time (yes, it's the same coupon code for all three, and you can use it for all three at once; simply put it in the coupon code box for each book, and click the "apply coupon" button).

NOTE: The coupons are exclusive to Smashwords. However, since Smashwords offers their books in multiple formats, and I take advantage of this option by allowing them to make my books available in all the formats they offer, this won't be a problem for you, since they'll have a format that works for whatever eReader you prefer to use. In fact, since they offer computer friendly formats too, if you can read this post, you can read the books.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Furkid Friday: a question for readers

Hi humans, rodents, and anyone of any other species reading this.

This is the entire rodent gang here with a question for you all.

What do you want to hear more about in our posts?

For example: is there something about any - or all - of us you want to know more about? Or, would you like to hear our thoughts on a particular subject?

Please tell us below... You might just get to see a blog post answering your question in the near future.

Squeak soon,
Baggins, Bilbo, Jacob, Jasper, Jenks, Joshua, Skye, and Star

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - March 2nd 2016

I'm still working on the fourth Zeena book. I'm not as far along with it as I'd hoped to be by this time, partially due to the fact I was away for almost a week towards the end of February, and didn't really do any work on it while I was away, but also partially because progress on it is slow in general. If you didn't notice I was away, that's OK... You weren't meant to. I'd set up some blog posts before I left, so while I was gone posts continued to appear on my blog on the days I usually would have posted, which meant I only had to catch up with comments when I got back. Well, those, and what felt like a mountain of e-mails.

Anyway...

If you're working on a book of your own right now - especially if you're currently in the re-writing or editing phases of your work - you should check out these 6 grammar mistakes even smart people make, so you can try to avoid making them yourself.

Also, which version of English do you think you should use in your book? Personally, I think you should use the version that's most familiar to you. In other words, if you're British, use British English. It's British English I use as a rule, though the odd bit of American English or Canadian English may slip in there from time to time, since I've spent so much of my life talking to people from all three places that the lines are slightly blurred for me. There are parts where I know for certain x is British English but y would be American English (where x is the word or phrase used in the UK, and y is the alternative used in the US that has the same meaning). But sometimes I'm not even certain which is which, and where the difference is a regional one, or based entirely on the fact there's often more than one way to say something.

If you want more writing tips, you could always check out this creative writing course. It's free, and seems to be worth checking out; I haven't done it myself yet, but others seem pleased with it, and I plan to check it out in the near future.

***

Are you a children's author too? If so, are some of your books available as paperbacks? If they are, would you be willing to donate some of your books to a charity for special needs children? If the answer to all three of those questions is yes, you should check out the article I just linked to, and send some books to Angie. Or, if you can't send your books to Angie for any reason, you could see if there are similar organizations near where you live, which you can send to instead. After all, encouraging any child to read is a good thing, don't you think?

Speaking of reading... Here's a simple, yet important, writing tip for you: reading is not optional if you're a writer. This is why I spend most of the time I don't use for writing devouring books by other authors, and why a large number of the books I read are aimed at children (though I do read books in quite a variety of genres, and for any age group).