Friday, September 30, 2016

#Furkid Friday: A #Chinchilla #Photo Shoot

Hi everyone. This is Maizie the chinchilla.

The Mummy human decided we hadn't had our photos done enough since we came to live with these human caretakers, so she decided we should have a short photo shoot. Quite frankly, we agreed we needed more photos, so we were willing to play along.

Please excuse the shots were our eyes look funny colours... It's the light catching us, not our eye colour.

Anyway...

This is me:


Here I am again, this time sitting on our gnawing block:


The human caretakers opened the cage door to get better shots. Mollie was more interested in the human caretakers themselves, but I was checking out how much of a drop there was to the ground:


The human caretakers did say I could come out if I wanted to, but I decided it looked too scary. I love coming out and climbing on the Mummy human (her shoulder is a good place to sit, for example) but I'm not so keen on the idea of running free. I keep considering it, but I'm not ready yet. Or, I wasn't when these shots were taken, anyway.

Mollie, on the other hand, isn't the least bit interested in getting freedom right now, and instead took the invitation to come out as her cue to climb on to the Mummy human's arm for some cuddle time:


She did climb on to the Mummy human's shoulder a little while later - and so did I - but the humans had put away the flashy thing by then, so they missed getting that shot. I expect they'll keep trying though.

Squeak soon,
Maizie

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - September 28th 2016

Do you enjoy historical fiction? How about historical fantasy? Or, alternative history with a science fiction element to it? If the answer to any - or all - of those is yes, would you be interested in reading some stories set in and around the Battle of Hastings? If so, you'll be pleased to know that four brand new ones are coming soon to celebrate the battle's 950th anniversary this October.

A group of Smashwords authors - Barbara G.Tarn, L J Hick, Steph Bennion, and myself - have written stories based in and around the battle, which will officially become available on October 14th 2016... Exactly 950 years after the date that this particular historical event is said to have taken place.

Most of the posts about these stories are going up next month, but the eBooks have been pre-released, and you can find details and pre-order links in this post done by one of the authors involved, if you don't want to wait until next month to learn more.

***

If you're a writer too, you may be interested in knowing just how useful Apple Notes can be. I know I find it really useful, since I can't just grab a notebook and pen/pencil to take notes, jot down ideas, etc, any more. Apple Notes is one of the most used things on my iPhone. I haven't fully gotten the hang of it yet, since using touch screen technology when you can't see is even more frustrating than doing so when you can. However, I am starting to get the hang of it, and learning how useful it can be. The article I just linked to gives you some idea of options for what you can do with it though.

Anyway...

Have you ever thought about using the seasons in your writing? It can really help to breathe life in to your story, and pull the reader in to it even more.

There are certain grammar issues that always need to be fixed. However, there are also some that are just an example of how language is changing and evolving. For more on this topic, take a look at these six answers fiction writers have for the grammar police.

Before you publish - especially if you plan to self-publish, though it can't hurt to do so if you plan to go down the traditional publishing route - take a look at these five legal terms every author should know

***

Did you always love writing, but now find yourself struggling to find the passion you once felt? Then read this post on rekindling the flame, and this one on how to stay motivated in your writing journey. Then make sure to remember you are not alone.

Looking to make a career out of your writing? Great! Before you get too carried away though, here are some writing dreams and harsh realities, which you should bear in mind if you want to have a successful writing career, but can ignore if you just write for fun.

Monday, September 26, 2016

R.I.P. Jenks

We woke up this morning to find that one of our degus, Jenks, had made that journey across the rainbow bridge during the night.

Since we were asleep when it happened, we don't know exactly what time it was. But we know it was some time between 4:00am and 9:00am,, since he was fine and playing shortly before 4:00am, and it was shortly after 9:00am we found him when we got up. He appears to have gone quietly in his sleep.

R.I.P. Jenks
March 9th 2013 - September 26th 2016.

Rest in peace little degu buddy... You will be missed, Jenksy boy!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

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

I like trying new fruits and vegetables. Be it ones I never got around to tasting in the past for whatever reason, ones I'm not sure if I've tried or not, or ones I don't remember if I liked when I tried them.

So, when the opportunity to do so presented itself, I tried a sharon fruit recently... After I Googled it to learn how exactly one goes about eating such a fruit.

Have you ever had one? If you have, what did you think of it?

For those who haven't tried a sharon fruit: it has a strange sort of taste... Sort of makes me think of a cross between a watermelon and a pear, and has the consistancy of a soft pear. Sorry, but that's the best way I can describe it.

Anyway, I thought it tasted OK. Not amazing, but OK. I mean, I didn't dislike it, but it won't be making its way in to my favourite fruits list any time soon, that's for sure.

I read somewhere online - when I was looking up what exactly one does with a sharon fruit - that adding a little lime juice to it can improve the taste. So, I tried doing that, and do agree that it improves the taste a little; makes it a bit sweeter. But still not enough to make it a new favourite fruit of mine.

I still prefer grapes, cherries, and berries of various types (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, in that order). Oh, and rhubarb too... I love rhubarb... Especially if it's made in to a crumble, although cobblers and pies are also acceptable, and so is just a bowl of sweetened stewed rhubarb (either sweetened by adding yogurt to it to take away some of the tartness to the taste, or sweetened using sugar or something... I'm not fussy).

***

There's a cafe that's technically below the front of our building, right on the seafront. We can smell the food cooking from our apartment, and have been meaning to try it out since we moved in here a little over a year and a half ago. Honestly, if I had a penny for every time I've said I'd like to try the place to see if the food's as good as it smells, I'd be rich! We never did get around to trying the place out though... Until this month.

Alittle over two weeks ago, Kelly and I finally went for lunch at the cafe. We'd hoped to actually sit at one of the outside tables, and have our lunch out in the open, literally across the road from the beach. But it was a beautiful day, and there wasn't an empty outside table in sight, despite it being a weekday after the school term had started back. Even a few of the inside tables were already occupied, as well as a couple of the comfy sofas and chairs they had for people who just wanted to sit and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, and didn't need more than a coffee table.

Anyway, it was a really nice little place. We tried out one of the sofas first, but moved to a table to eat, since there was no way I was going to be able to eat my food without a table. The sofa was more comfortable than the chair at the table, of course, but even that wasn't too bad when it came to comfort. They had it cool enough in there that it being a nice day didn't make it too hot inside, even with them cooking, but also had several fans available if needed, which is nice. We also noticed they had a couple of bowls on hand - stacked up not too far from the door - to use for water for dogs (though I think the dogs are only allowed at the outside tables). Not really something that's an issue for us these days, but still something we thought was a nice touch.

When it comes to drinks: they do a variety of hot and cold drinks, including homemade lemonade, herbal and regular teas, a couple of different kinds of coffee, and a variety of other soft drinks. Kelly had a coke as well as trying their American style coffee, which he really enjoyed, while I tried one of their herbal teas as well as their home made lemonade (which had lime and mint added to it) and I really enjoyed both.

When it comes to food: they do a variety of sandwiches, croissants, toast, and a selection of meals. Most of the meals seemed to be Indian dishes, but I'm not complaining, since they had several vegetarian options available, and I always love when a place has a good vegetarian selection. Plus, I do like Indian food. Kelly tried their cheese and tomato toastie, while I tried a dish that was a form of chickpea biryani served with salad and mango chutney, and we both enjoyed our food. They also had a variety of cakes available, so Kelly had a piece of chocolate cake, while I had a slice of carrot cake, and we really enjoyed those too.

The service was excellent too. They were friendly, didn't mind explaining to me what the different dishes contained so I could know for certain what I was ordering, and we didn't have to wait long for our food or drinks even though they were quite busy. They were also content for us to linger as long as we wanted over our food and drinks, and made no move to attempt to whisk away plates or cups until they were absolutely certain we were done with them.

Plus, unlike some people, who obviously speak differently to me than to Kelly, just because it's obvious I can't see (especially when I walk through the door using my cane) they actually spoke directly to me as if I was any other customer, which gives them extra brownie points in my book to start with, since I hate when people either speak to me differently, or won't speak directly to me.

All in all, it was a very pleasant lunch out: great atmosphere, great service, and great food.

Would I go there again? Absolutely! Would I recommend it to a friend? Yes! After all, it was so good that even Kelly - who doesn't really like Indian food, and therefore was the one limited for meal options - enjoyed it enough to want to go back.

For my part, I actually said while I was there that if I could still see to write with a notebook and pen, I'd quite happily have just stayed there for the afternoon to write while they brought me drinks. In fact, if the battery lasted better, and using touch screen keyboards for long stretches of time wasn't so frustrating, I might have just done so using my phone to do the writing on. I have Apple Notes, after all... Haha!

Of course, we'll still make our regular visits to the cafe up the street from us, which also has a friendly atmosphere, and does the most amazing cheese omletts and egg baguettes. As well as the odd visit to the one by the train station that also has friendly staff, and does absolutely fantastic garlic bread. But it's nice to have another option. Especially when it's another option with both staff who will speak to me like I'm any other customer, and several vegetarian friendly meals for me to choose from.

By the way: no, that's not all those other cafes do... Those are just my favourite foods from those particular places. I just thought I'd point that out, in case you were wondering.

***

Don't forget, my website has a recipe section, which you may want to take a look at (if you haven't already done so). Most of the recipes listed there are vegetarian friendly, and several are also vegan friendly.

You may also want to check out these three simple recipes, which my friend, Dorkys, posted last month.

Friday, September 23, 2016

#Furkid Friday: Jacob The #Degu Checks In

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

This is Jacob the degu.

The human caretakers took this photo of me soon after my fur started to grow back, and my sore patches started to heal up, so I thought I'd post it. Here you go:


My fur still hasn't grown back properly, and I still have some sore patches, but I'm doing better than I was a couple of months ago, which is what matters.

Plus, not having quite as much fur was kind of a good thing with all the hot weather we had this Summer. Not that I'm pleased I lost some fur where I was sick and stressed. I'm just looking on the bright side.

Squeak soon,
Jacob

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - September 21st 2016

"Toby's New World" was put in the spotlight in a group I'm a member of for self-published authors of children's books over on Goodreads. There was a thread set up to discuss, and ask me questions about, the book, as well as an author interview thread. I copied the questions, along with the answers I gave, on to the author of the month thread on the Smashwords Authors group. There are a few things mentioned on the first two threads that weren't copied on to the third though, so you may want to have a little read of all three. Also, feel free to ask me questions yourself.

If you can, please post your question(s) on one of the threads linked to above. However, if you're a goodreads member, but you aren't on either of those groups, don't worry. I'm also accepting questions via the "ask the author" thingy on my Goodreads author page, or via direct message, from Goodreads members who aren't a member of either group.

Want to ask me something, but not on Goodreads? No problem! Just post your question in the comments section of this post, and I'll answer it anyway. There's no reason people should miss out on the chance to ask me questions just because they aren't on Goodreads, after all. That just wouldn't be fair, would it?

***

Are you failing to get as much writing done as you'd like? If so, check out these three insights into improving writing productivity.

Are you planning to include some homeschooled children - or even one homeschooled child - in your story? If you are, you should read this post about homeschooling in middle grade books first, especially if you haven't had much experience with being homeschooled yourself.

Regardless of the types of characters you have in your story, here are seven mistakes to avoid when naming your characters.

Quick tip: here's the one marketing move authors get wrong.

This is why authors need to be as accessable as possible. Bear in mind though that book promotion is not a one-size-fits-all strategy, and not everyone can do everything. Still, it's best to do as much as you can, and be as accessable as you can be.

Are you stuck for what to post, other than "please buy my book" messages, on your blog, or on social media? Then check out this post on what authors can post online (without driving away followers).

Finally, have you ever considered participating in multi-author events? Whether you have or not, here are the advantages of doing multi-author promotions, as well as a great answer to why you should still write and help promote others, even though there are already so many books in the world.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Domestic Witch: Join Me for the 2nd Annual Halloween Party! #TDWHalloweenParty



The Domestic Witch: Join Me for the 2nd Annual Halloween Party!:

Halloween is one of the most exciting and fun times of the year! I love seeing what crafts, decorations, costumes, party ideas, and of course Samhain celebrations everyone is doing around the Internet community so I've decided to host a Halloween themed blog party again!...(Read more).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Of #Blogging And Online #Friends

I started my blog in May of 2006. At first I wasn't sure what to blog about, but I soon got in to this blogging thing, and had so many posts I wanted to do that I often posted more than once a day. I also met several great people, and visited their blogs daily (even if they didn't blog daily, so I often went away without a new post to read).

Fast forward to 2012, when I started feeling as though everything I'd been doing regularly was a chore, especially making sure to do my daily posts, and the daily rounds of all the blogs I was following, and was looking for "new and exciting" activities to fill my days, if you know what I mean. I started failing to show up on blogs much, and didn't post much on my own blog either. Then, in August 2012, I decided it would be easier to stop blogging all together, announcing that I wasn't enjoying blogging any more, and figuring it wasn't a big deal, since there were plenty of other ways to keep in touch with all my bloggy friends, after all. Plus, I was sure it would then free up extra time in my day for other stuff. I suppose it did, but not the stuff I'd imagined filling the time with. So it goes.

To cut a long story short: I soon missed blogging, but for various reasons decided to put my blog as private, and continue to avoid returning to the blogging community; a decision I regret now, but one I thought was a smart one at the time. Hey, we all make mistakes. Anyway, after about a year of blogging privately, I decided to make my blog public again. Except, nobody noticed. So, I made an effort to tell those people I was still in touch with that I was blogging. Except, most of them still didn't appear to notice. Seriously, some of them still ask me every time they realize a blog post that's shown up on my Facebook feed is mine, when I started blogging again, even though I've been blogging publicly again since late 2013, and actually went to the trouble of announcing it everywhere I go regularly online, as well as via eMail, a couple of years ago, and have also had my blog posts automatically posting on Twitter and Facebook that whole time.

Anyway... I lost the list of blogs I was following when I started blogging publicly again, because I changed to using my gmail address, and the profile switchover meant no more follow list. So I started going through some of my old comments to find some of my lost bloggy friends. Why I did this now, when I have a lot going on both online and offline, and didn't just leave it until things calmed down a bit, I have no idea. But, there you go. I did it, and followed everyone I could if the person: A, had a valid profile still (whether it was the old Blogger one, or the new Google type). B, had a blog linked to that profile (or had one somewhere else I could find it easily). And, C, had an option to get their posts via eMail one way or another. Unfortunately, I have to have it be all three, since I know there's no way I'll be able to avoid missing things if they don't come to my eMail. I know this for two reasons. The first reason is because I know I miss a lot of what people put on Twitter and Facebook, unless I'm spacifically directed to the posts in question, am tagged in them for some reason, they're sharing something I posted, or they're lucky enough to have their important posts show up among those I see in my feed when I go check what's new. Judging by the surprise of many people when they see my blog posts mentioned on the social media sites, I'm obviously not the only one, since even people who seem to practically live on those places often miss things their friends and family post. The second reason is because the amount of time I can spend online each day varies, and it's not always easy to remember everything I did online yesterday, but if I have eMails waiting for me that I didn't get to, they'll still be there to remind me I didn't get to those posts. Make sense?

So, if you're reading this, still blogging with the same account you used to comment here with, were a regular commenter on my blog, and I didn't reconnect with you on the blogs, it means I either missed seeing you in the comments I looked through, or you don't have an option for me to follow your posts via eMail. Either that, or I couldn't even check if I could get your posts via eMail, because your blog is private, and I either no longer have permission to view it due to the eMail change, or didn't in the first place since it was made private after I stopped blogging publicly. If any of those applies to you, sorry!

If you're still around but with a different profile, if you have the option for me to follow your blog via eMail, or add it after reading this post, and think you're someone I might want to reconnect with, please post your blog link below. Similarly, if you're someone who knows someone who used to post regularly here and has the option to have their posts delivered to your eMail, and want to either post their link below to make sure I find them, or tell them I'm blogging again, or both, I'd really appreciate that. Thanks!

Also, just so you know: since I use the new Google account thing, I show up as a "no-reply" blogger when you get eMail notifications that I've left a comment on your blog, even though I have my eMail address set to be publicly visible. Because of this, if I comment on your blog and you're one of those people who replies to comments via eMail, you'll need to have my eMail address. I've been making a point of adding it at the bottom of comments for those bloggers I'm only now starting to reconnect with, but if you don't have it, and need it in order to reply to a comment from me, you can either click on the link to eMail me on the contact page in the tabs below my blog header, or grab the address itself from my page on my website.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Room Switch

When we had the really hot weather we had this Summer, I got a sunburn while sat at my desk. We hadn't realized that would happen before, because originally it was Kelly's PC there, and when the sun was bright and he wanted to use it, he put something up at the window. That was part of why we switched places: light shining on the screen isn't a problem for me, since I can't see the screen in the first place. The problem was, one of us needed to be there, because that was the only way we could have our desks set up the way we wanted, while still not getting in each other's way. But I didn't want us covering the window... Especially on a nice day, and especially since it was only on really hot days... The sun beaming in like that was nice when we didn't have temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s.

So we decided to solve the problem by swapping the computer room and bedroom around. The computer room - now bedroom - is the smaller of the two rooms, which is why we'd done it the other way to start with. But the little room is just big enough for the actual bedroom furniture. I do mean "just" though. It means the bookshelves will have to go in what is now the computer room (when we finally get around to buying them). But that's not really a bad thing. They were only going to go in the bedroom before because it's where the stereo I use to listen to my bedtime audiobook is, and Kelly does most of his reading right before settling to sleep; them going in the bedroom was more a convenience thing than anything. But my Kindle can still be in the bedroom, along with whatever book we're in the middle of, and it won't do us any harm to have to make sure we pick our books before heading to the bedroom. Better that than me getting a sunburn every time I try to sit at my desk any time we actually have a really warm day. Not that we have weather that hot too often, but we have had several heatwaves like that over the past couple of years, so felt it was better safe than sorry... Something I was very grateful for when the hot weather returned last week.

I felt bad for Kelly when we were doing it though, since I wasn't much help. I get tired really easily, and don't have much strength or energy to start with. This meant he did almost all the work by himself, with me helping as much as I could when there was absolutely no way one person could do something alone. He managed though. He was exhausted, but he managed.

I've still got my desk near a window, where I can hear and smell the ocean, but nearby buildings stop the sun coming in so fiercely. Plus, the view from this window isn't as good. I can't see it anyway though, so... *Shrugs*

I love being able to listen to the waves sighing or roaring - depending on the weather - as well as all the other sounds that go along with living so near the sea. Doesn't matter to me if it's in the bedroom or the computer room. I can hear it perfectly clearly from every room in our apartment anyway.

The first night after we did the room switch, Kelly said he was a bit concerned he'd have Disney princesses filling his dreams, since the wall with that wallpaper on is the last thing he sees before closing his eyes if he lays a certain way. However, as yet his dreams have been free of princesses... Disney or otherwise.

Friday, September 16, 2016

#Furkid Friday: Catering To All #Rodents Needs

Hi everyone. This is Star the rat.

Winter is getting closer, the evenings are starting to get dark earlier, and the mornings are starting to get light later. As far as my sisters and I are concerned, that's a good thing; my ratty sister, Skye, and I prefer less light, and our chinchilla sisters, Mollie and Maizie, feel the same way. I'm not sure about our gerbil brother, Baggins... He seems to be happy no matter what, as long as he has water in his bottle, food in his bowl, and somewhere to dig. Our degu brothers, Jacob, Jenks, and Joshua, on the other hand, don't like when it gets dark. Jenks especially will start squealing in distress if there's no light. There's a similar issue when it comes to temperatures: the boys like - and can deal with - warmer temperatures than us girls.

Since all of our cages are in the same room, the human caretakers had to figure out a way to keep everyone happy and comfortable. This is part of why we ended up with the boys' cages in one area, and the girls cages in another.

We each have a fan by our cages, which is used to help control the temperature in the area of our cages (the fan for me and my sisters is on more than the boys' fan). The boys also have a lamp near their cages, which the humans put on for them as soon as it starts getting dark, so that they can have light, while we girls - over the other side of the room - can have the darker environment we're more comfortable with.

Most of the time, we're all happy with this setup. Although, there have been a few days in the past few months when the weather was so hot and sunny that even the highest setting of the fan didn't make it cool enough for us girls to be comfortable, and even the boys needed their fan on full. There were also a few times last year when the human caretakers had to set up a portable heater near the boys' cages because it got so cold (our chinchilla sisters weren't around for that happening). We're all happy with the light thing though: my degu brothers don't complain about not having enough light, and we girls are happy not having to deal with bright light all the time.

It's important to think about things like that if you have different animals sharing your home. Not all human caretakers think about it. I'm glad we're lucky enough to have human caretakers who try so hard to cater to our different needs, and do their best to keep us as comfortable and happy as possible. I'm also glad we're lucky that we don't need to start trying to store up food to survive the coming cold of Winter, which is what our wild relatives will be doing right about now.

Squeak soon,
Star

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - September 14th 2016

The paperback version of "Jeffrey The Orange Alien" is now available from CreateSpace and Amazon, and will be available from other sites (such as Barnes & Noble) soon.

(Click on the book's title above to buy it from the CreateSpace store).

I was surprised at how quickly I got the proof this time... It only took them a week to get it to me (even though they'd said two weeks when I ordered it, and the proofs do usually arrive on the day they predict, or within a day either way). Not that I'm complaining, since it means I was able to post this announcement a week earlier than I expected to.

***

When I was creating the interior file for the print edition of "Frank The Friendly Ogre" last year, I ran in to a slight problem, which was caused by the minimum page requirements for CreateSpace. You have to have a minimum of 24 pages in a book, and are only allowed to add so many blank pages. For all my other books this wasn't a problem. For Frank's story, however, it was, because it's really quite a short one. So I solved the problem by adding a dedication at the front of the book, and a short note to readers at the end of it.

"I'll go and add these on the eBook version too," I told myself, thinking that other readers may want to read those things too, and shouldn't be excluded from doing so because they read their books on eReaders, tablets, or computers.

Except, I never actually got around to updating the eBook version.

Until... Finally... About a week ago... I actually did get around to doing it. YAY!

So, those of you who read my books as eBooks should now be able to access an updated version of the story, with the dedication and note to readers added - regardless of the format you read my books in, or where you get your copies of my books.

***

If you missed when I posted about it on the weekend, here's where you can read my most recent interview.

Also... Don't forget: I'm September's author of the month, and accepting questions on just about any topic. You can follow the discussion at https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18228324-september-2016---victoria-zigler---again. Alternatively, feel free to ask me questions via my Goodreads author page, or on this post.

Monday, September 12, 2016

My #BookCovers - Part 2: #Poetry And Stand Alone #Books

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm posting the covers of my already published books, since I didn't post them when I released the books, and - to be honest - because I can. As I also mentioned yesterday, today's post will contain my poetry book covers, as well as those for my stand alone stories.

The poetry books:


The stand alone books:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

My #BookCovers - Part 1: Series #Books

Every time I publish a new book, I do a post to announce it on my blog. But, do you know what I realized the other day? I never bother adding the cover images to the posts. I have no idea why. I'm sure I did add the images to the first few books I published, but after that I just stopped doing it for some unknown reason. Maybe it was because I had my blog private for a while, and didn't see the point in posting the cover images for myself, and then just didn't start adding them to the posts again after I made my blog public again? *Shrugs* Either way, just because I can, I'm going to post the cover images on my blog now.

I've published so many books that it would be way too many for just one post though, so I'm splitting it in to two. Today's post contains the covers for all my series books. Tomorrow I'll post the ones for my stand alones and my poetry books.

The Degu Days Duo:


The Kero's World series:


The Magical Chapters Trilogy:


The Toby's Tales series:


The Zeena Dragon Fae series: