Friday, February 23, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Mollie The #Chinchilla Tells Tales

Hi everyone. This is Mollie the chinchilla.

My chinchilla sister, Maizie, keeps on teasing the Lilie dog. I told her to quit, but she doesn't listen. She thinks it's funny, and the Lilie dog seems to think the game is fun too. Stupid dog!

I don't!

I don't like the Lilie dog so close to the cage, and get upset when she bounces about and jumps up. The human caretakers don't really like her to do it either. But Maizie calls her and encourages her to do it when she thinks the human caretakers aren't paying attention, and sometimes even when she knows they are.

When I know they aren't paying attention, I call them over to stop it. Maizie says I'm spoiling her fun, but I don't care. I'm not having dogs jumping up at my cage... Even if I know the dog is doing it all in fun.

Maizie used to agree with me; she used to get upset when the Lilie dog was bouncing about too close to our cage, just like I still do. But somewhere along the line Maizie decided she liked the Lilie dog after all, and started what she calls playing with her, which looks more like teasing to me. She even started letting the Lilie dog give her slobbery doggy kisses through the bars of the cage! Gross!

Thankfully, both the human caretakers are on my side, and don't like the Lilie dog being near our cage. At least they have some sense. Well, in this case anyhow.

Squeak soon,
Mollie

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

#Writing Wednesday - February 21st 2018

"Jinx And The Faerie Dragons" is now available in audio - just in case you missed seeing my post about that on Sunday. You can buy it from Audible, Amazon, and iTunes; see the post I just linked to for links, as well as details about where you can buy the book in other formats if you prefer. The narrator is Andrew Pond, who you can learn more about in his recent narrator interview.

Speaking of my audiobooks: I went ahead and listed the poetry book projects on ACX. I was going to hold off a bit on listing them until all the stories were produced, but changed my mind. Anyway, I'm working with narrator Jane Hopkins on one of them, and narrator Carol Weakland on the other seven.

With all the books from my backlist in various stages of production, I have quiet moments between messages and samples from narrators, which I hope to make use of to get some actual writing done, as well as arrange for a cover to be sorted for the pet themed poetry collection I want to publish, which I've now got the final edits and formatting sorted for, so can publish once it has a cover. I know which of my cover artists I want to use for it, but have to check if he's able to do a cover for me right now... I haven't spoken to him about it yet, but plan to do so soon.

If you're dealing with any editing yourself, or are in the revision stage with your current writing project, here's a post that talks about why you should make time to write while editing and revising.

Remember: you will not use your writing time wisely if you do not plan ahead. Now, it might seem strange for someone like me who can't stick to a schedule for long to be agreeing with this. I mean, the routine I had when I did the post about my writing routine at the end of November no longer applies, as I warned in the post would probably be the case. But bear with me here. The thing is, the article makes a good point, and some kind of planning for writing time is required if you want to actually get any writing done. Whether that be planning a longterm routine that you stick to at all times, or doing what I usually end up doing and planning my writing time for each day on the day in question (based on what I want/need to get done each day, whether any of it is time sensative and what times those things need to be done at or by, and what my current sleeping schedule is). Either way, it all comes down to having some kind of plan for your writing. My longterm "plan" is pretty vague, and my schedule is unpredictable, but I still have a plan of sorts, and you should too.

So, you have your plan. Now it's time to work on that story! Come on. What are you afraid of?

Now you've established what the cause of your fear is, and hopefully managed to move past it, here are some things to consider when choosing the perfect setting for your novel (or short story, or whatever).

Regardless of setting: do your characters talk too much? The postI just linked to gives some tips on ways to avoid your book looking like a screenplay without stage directions, and will help you avoid the talking head syndrome that irritates so many readers.

Speaking of your characters, here's a post about the hero's journey and the real world. Also, don't forget that your villain needs a heart, because everyone has one, even if it's not always obvious.

Next, here are some tips to being dramatic in fiction, because most stories could benifit from at least a little drama, and sometimes a lot of it.

By the way, if you publish paperbacks via CreateSpace, and are interested in moving your books to KDP Print, here's how to do it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Random Ramblings - February 2018 Edition (LBE & FD)

When I first started blogging, things were different to how they are now, and people worried less about whether what they were blogging about would be of interest to potential followers/readers.

I feel like I should be sitting in a rocking chair, nodding sagely while saying things like, "When I was a girl, people blogged about whatever they wanted to blog about." Or, "In my day, we had to wait fifteen minutes for a photo to load on Blogger." Or maybe, "I remember when people just blogged, and there was none of this nonsense about worrying how interesting their posts were."

It's true though! Well, OK, the fifteen minutes for a photo to load might be a bit of an exageration. Not as big a one as you might think though, since I do know of times I went to make a cup of tea while a photo I wanted to post in a blog post was uploading, and still ended up sat at my desk waiting for it a while after I was done making my tea. Although, come to think of it, that one still sometimes happens now, just not as often.

My point is that when I first started blogging back in 2006, I posted about whatever I felt like posting about. If the most interesting thing I had to say was that I walked the dog and did the dishes, I posted about it. If the only thing I really did that day was take online quizzes, and I felt like sharing my results on my blog, I posted my results. If I had a random question I wanted to put out there, I posted that too. Some posts got read and commented on a lot, some didn't get commented on at all. But it didn't matter.

Somewhere along the way I started worrying about whether what I had to say was interesting to potential readers. Do people really care what my weather's like? Are people really interested in what my health is like right now? Is anyone out there actually interested in the random thoughts and questions that pop in to my head?

Apparently the answer is, "Yes."

According to comments people have made on this blog, interactions I've had when I've posted random things on Twitter and Facebook to test the waters, and the responses a couple of online friends had when they asked these questions recently, people are still just as interested in those random posts. Apparently the day to day life of others is still interesting enough that even weather reports from other parts of the country/world are worth reading.

It must be another example of the curious nature of humankind. After all, it's clear by the "what if" questions that have sparked so many inventions and story ideas over the years that humans are curious creatures. Well, that and people posting about their lives online gives us a way to be nosy without getting in trouble. Either way, people want to know what's going on in the lives of others, no matter how boring it seems to the person it's happening to.

So... Here's what's been going on in my boring life. I did mean to do one of these posts sooner, but... Well, as it is I've had to use most Tuesdays in order to get everything I wanted to post posted. This should calm down once I've managed to get the audio book production caught up, since part of it is because of book announcement posts going up, and there won't be so many of those once I'm not announcing audiobook availability almost constantly. Anyway...

The first half of January was taken up with me getting ready to go to Wales, being in Wales, and then trying to catch up on the mountain of eMails and blog posts I had waiting for me to read them when I got home. The second half of January, and most of February, have mmainly passed in a blur of exhaustion, mingled with attempts to cross as many of the "publisher tasks" as I could off my to-do list for the year, some reading, a bit of DVD watching, a couple of short writing sessions, and the day to day happenings of housework, furkid care and playtime, etc.

Just something random: I tried cashew butter towards the end of January. No reason other than I hadn't, so I figured I would. I mean, I like cashews, and I like peanut butter, so why not, right? It was nice. Nothing special though. Tasted like I expected it to: like cashew flavoured peanut butter. Like I said, it was nice, but nothing special. I just thought I'd mention that I tried it, and liked it. Didn't love it, but I don't love peanut butter either, so... *Shrugs*

Anyway, I've been sleeping well most of the time - even with people keep waking me - which is nice. Well, the people keep waking me isn't, but the fact I've been getting plenty of sleep despite it is. I've not always been sleeping at the right times, but whatever. That doesn't help much with the exhaustion though. My health has never been great, and these days it seems I'm unwell more often than not. I try not to mention it much online, because I worry people will think I'm after sympathy or something. Yep. We're back to the worrying again. I'm good at worrying about things. I even worry about whether I worry too much. I'm told I really do worry too much, and also that I think too much sometimes. It's probably true, but when it takes very little for you to feel physically exhausted, but your mind's not so quick to want to rest, it's a natural course of action really. Anyway, this is just a long way of saying that I'm not well, but that's unlikely to change any time soon. I've never been totally well, just better at hiding it than I am now. But, hey, I know I'm lucky to have survived to grow up, and lucky to still be here... Even if I don't feel it sometimes... Plus, at least I didn't get that nasty virus thing that's been going around. Makes a change to be honest. Not that I'm complaining.

It's been cold here most of the time. I'm not complaining about that either. It's mainly only been a few degrees above freezing, sometimes even dipping slightly below freezing. Almost constantly in single digits, but I don't really mind the cold. We even finally got some more snow on February 5th. We woke up to it snowing. This is what we woke up to:



Here's a little snowy video clip done about the same time the photo I just shared was taken:







It was "real" snow! The kind that comes down in fluffy flakes, and settles, and can be played with! I didn't get to spend as much time out playing in it as I'd have liked though. But then, I never do get as much snow time as I'd like.

It didn't stick around for long, and there was no more snow before and after that (and that part I am complaining about). Some places not too far from us got a lot more snow than us. Like I said, we got some snow at the start of February, but the rest of the time we've just had rain, hail, and strong winds. You'd think I'd be longing for warmer weather rather than snow, but I like snow. I like storms too, so at least I've had plenty of those to enjoy. I still want more snow though. There's still time, but I'm not holding my breath. I'll just have to keep enjoying my storms, and be grateful for the snow we did get, I guess.

Even though I love a good storm, I do know they often cause a lot of damage. In fact, we were worried one had caused some damage to our roof a couple of weeks ago. It doesn't look like it though. At least, no obvious damage was visible when the landlords sent someone to check, and the rain and hail we've had since have stayed outside where they belong. It does make me wonder what the worrying bangs were that night though, since we know they came from overhead. I'm hoping it was just something like some of the junk in the attic from people who lived here in the past fell over, otherwise it means there's a problem that has yet to be spotted, which could cause trouble later.

Speaking of trouble: our heating stopped working. The boiler - which was only installed last year, as those who have been following my blog since then may remember - was saying it was on, but the heating wouldn't come on, which was weird, because the gas safety inspector had checked everything out the day before, and he said it was all fine. It was off though, and we were cold. As I said, the temperatures have only been a few degrees above freezing most of the time recently. We had to sit in the cold for several hours. It would have been longer, except the heating started working again. We didn't mention the fact it had started working again to the people who were meant to be coming to look at it, figuring it might be an idea to have it looked at anyhow, in the hopes of avoiding the issue happening again. So we waited for them to come out. Let's just say it's lucky the heating did start working again, because they still hadn't come out after 72 hours. Actually, had it not started working again, I never would have left it that long before chasing up where they were. I wanted to chase it up though, because it only seemed to be working sometimes, which we thought was strange. Anyway, we learned when we called why they didn't come out. Basically, we called two days before the 12 month warranty ran out to get them to come and fix it, so they dragged their feet so they could tell us we were no longer within the 12 months, so if we wanted them to come out it would cost us £85 plus VAT. I got rather annoyed at this, because they'd been called out in plenty of time to be here before the 12 months was up. Officially they're meant to be out within 24 hours, and they had 36 hours notice even if you work on the assumption that the warranty would end at midnight. I told them I wanted them to come out and see to it for free, since the warranty wasn't up when they were called. Then - since it's not our responsibility to pay for things like this anyhow - I told them if that couldn't happen they better call and talk to the landlords, but that I wasn't impressed that they were willing to allow a disabled person to sit in the cold for a whole weekend just so they could have an excuse to then charge for the callout. I guess that did the trick, because someone came out that afternoon, and no more was said about a bill for the callout. As it turned out though, all that was wrong was that the settings had been changed. The thing is, we had the boiler set to maintain a certain temperature, with us adjusting it using the thermastat. It had been set like that since the boiler was installed. We had no idea how to do anything else with it. It was set like that on purpose because all the fancy new digital bits in boilers and things these days means my accessability with them is limited, but turning the thermastat knob until I'm getting heat is something I can easily do. Anyway, we're guessing when the gas safety inspector guy was here he changed the settings, because it was set on timer. But since I couldn't see to check, and Kelly had no idea how to, we didn't realize. Erm... Oops! I guess it's a good thing I did persist in getting the free callout, or the landlords may not have been too happy with me. Like I said... Oops! The guy showed Kelly how to check and fix that himself in future, so hopefully we won't have anything like that be the issue again.

You know, I think heating systems and drains might have it in for us! It seems it's one or the other - often both - in every single place we've live, and often it's something small causing what seems at the time like a larger issue. *Sigh*

The council is trying to make landlords ensure they meet certain standards now. They're making them get certain things up to code, doing health and safety checks, and making them pass all the inspections to earn a special certificate if they want to continue being landlords. We had a health and safety check near the start of the month. The only issues the guy had with our place - other than the fact he noticed the window issue, which we did tell him the landlords are working on - was the need for another smoke alarm because of where they installed it when they put a new one in a few months back, and the fact he wants us to have one of our doors replaced with a fire door. So someone will likely be coming out soon to sort those things. They're supposed to, anyhow.

They're meant to sort the windows properly in a few months time too... When the weather warms up, and the winds from storms are potentially less likely to be an issue, in theory. I'm both looking forward to them sorting the windows, and dreading it. Looking forward to it because I'd like it to finally get done, and we'll save even more on heating next Winter if they get it done properly this year. Dreading it because it means more workman interruptions, which means a lot of unproductive time for me, since it's impossible for me to do anything with workmen around making a noise.

Anyway... Let's see, what else...

I've been trying to have Saturday's as my "day off" each week, but it hasn't worked too well most weeks so far. I keep ending up at least spending part of the day needing to sort things out. This is another thing that should slow down when I'm caught up on audiobook production, since nine times out of ten it's checking for things from narrators that's had me turning the computer on, and then I see other eMails I think I should just quickly see to, and then... Well, I'm sure you know how it goes.

Last Tuesday was pancake day, AKA Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Call it which you like. The end result in my house is the same: an excuse to have pancakes for dinner. Not that I need an excuse, since I love pancakes. I'm not sure I'd eat them every single day, but I certainly wouldn't complain if I had them more often than I do, and there's no way I was going to miss out on a day that actually tells me I should be eating them. So, pancakes for dinner it was. My plan was to have them all with maple syrup, because... Well, it tastes good, and I'm married to a Canadian, so it seemed right. But I had less maple syrup than I thought, and ran out before I ran out of pancakes, so I had the rest with honey. I also enjoy my pancakes with lemon and sugar, or with jam (as in jelly or fruit preserve... Whichever they call it wherever you are).

Speaking of holidays: we didn't do anything special for Valentine's Day. We rarely do. We do nice things for each other all year though, so it's no big deal. We did have take-away a few days later as a late celebration though. Like with the pancakes, we take any excuse for pizza or Chinese food in this house... Especially pizza!

Still sticking on the theme of holidays: our friends, Lorna and Andy, were unwell over Christmas, and in to the new year. But we had a present for them, and they had one for us. Neither of us wanted them to come here while they were so sick though. They weren't really feeling up to it, and they didn't want to give me anything extra to deal with, since it was a very nasty virus they had, and I was already dealing with both a chest infection and kidney infection. Actually, they were avoiding people as much as possible so as to avoid giving it to anyone. Anyway, we finally exchanged our Christmas presents on February 1st. They got us a really nice set of fancy pasta bowls. Now, if only the rest of our tableware was as nice. Haha!

OK... Well... Either nothing else has happened around here, or I'm unable to think of it right now. In my defence, Lilie is currently throwing a ball against my shin, which hurts. She's trying to tell me I've been on the computer for long enough and should go play with her. It wouldn't be so bad, except her passion for chewing toys means we have to buy her the sturdy kind meant for big dogs if we want them to last more than five minutes - and even then their days are numbered - which means the ball currently bouncing off my shin is a solid rubber one. So... Yeah... I think I'm going to end this post and go play with her. If I've forgotten to tell you anything, I can do so in another post later.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Taking the NYT By the #Book Quiz - #AmReading

Jeanie did a post a couple of weeks ago where she took the "By the book" quiz/questionnaire thing from the New York Times - you can see her post here. Not being someone who gets and reads the New York Times, I didn't know the quiz even existed, but it looked like fun, so I thought I'd do it too. So, here are my answers, using the questions Jeanie posted.

*What books are on your nightstand?

All the ones in my Kindle, since that's where my Kindle is nine times out of ten. My Kindle only moves from there if I'm using it elsewhere.

*What are you reading right now?

This will have changed by the time this post actually goes live, but at the time I'm writing it I'm reading "The Forgetting" by Sharon Cameron. For the most up to date information on whatI'm reading though, you'd be better off checking out my Goodreads profile.

*What is the last great book you read?

Once again, this answer probably won't be entirely correct by the time this post goes live, but at the time I'm writing it, the last great book I read was "The Princelings of the North" by Jemima Pett, which is an imaginative story that's part of a series where the characters are guinea pigs. If you love stories like that... Think Wind In The Willows, or Redwall... You should totally check it out!

*What do you read for solace? For escape? For sheer pleasure?

Anything and everything I can get my hands on. Fiction, non-fiction... Whatever I feel like reading at any given time.

*What are your favorite books on a favorite subject?

That depends on the subject. Give me a subject, and I'll tell you if I have favourite books on it, and what they might be.

*What are your favorite genres and which don't you particularly like?

My favourite genre is fantasy, regardless of the age it's aimed for. I'll read most genres though, including mysteries, horror, science fiction, romance,, historical... Even the odd thriller from time to time. As I said with the fantasy books: regardless of genre, I don't care about age range in the books I read, and will read children's books, young adult books, or books aimed at an adult audience. It depends how the mood takes me, if the book sounds good, and if I can get an accessable to me copy.

The only genre I usually try to stay clear of is Christian fiction. Though even that I've read a little of when it overlapped with another genre and the blurb made it sound interesting enough for me to give it a chance.

I'll also read non-fiction books sometimes, if they're on a subject that interests me. As with my fiction books, I don't really care what age range they're aimed at. I mean, some non-fiction books aimed at children can teach adults things they didn't know sometimes too.

*What book did you think was overrated or just didn't like?

There have been several books over the years I've read and then wondered why people were making such a fuss about them, or how they got so many positive reviews. One I read recently was Lord Of The Flies by William Golding. I'm sorry, but I just didn't think it was as great as people were saying, and actually found it a little disturbing, especially considering how many people were exposed to that while still in school.

*How do you like to read? Paper or electronic? Morning or Night? Where do you like to read?

I prefer either braille books or a document on my computer (such as a PDF) for non-fiction, and audiobooks or Kindle friendly eBooks for fiction. Braille books and PDFs are easier to navigate to different sections in, making them good options for me for non-fiction books, where I might need to skip back and fourth between sections (especially when using them for research). However, braille books are bulky and awkward, and the read out loud option on my computer isn't as customizable as it is on an eReader, meaning that the reading experience in itself is better with audiobooks or eBooks read on an eReader, making them better options for me for enjoying a fiction book (especially in the case of an audiobook, where an actual person will be reading it to me, rather than a computerized voice). That's not to say I never let them overlap. I mean, I do have some fiction books in braille, for example. I do have my preferences though, as I just explained.

I'll read anywhere. As a general rule though, I'll be sat in my computer chair when reading something on my computer, either on my bed or in the armchair in the livingroom when reading a braille book, on my bed when listening to an audiobook that's on CD, and either on my bed or pottering about the house doing housework while listening to books on my Kindle.

My irregular sleeping pattern makes answering the question about when I read difficult. I can say though that I always put an audiobook in the CD player to listen to when I go for a sleep, even if I have to put one on that's been listened to countless times before, since I fall asleep better listening to a story. Plus, I tend to use reading as my main go to activity if I'm awake in the night. Beyond that, I just read whenever I get a chance, and when that will be depends on my sleep schedule at the time, what else is going on in my life, etc.

*What's the best book you ever received as a gift?

I've had a lot of books brought for me over the years. One that sticks with me though is "Which Witch?" by Eva Ibotson. I loved it so much it was one of the first books I set out to replace in audio when I could no longer see to read my paperback version, and have re-read it so many times I've lost count.

*What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I was the child who'd rather sit in the corner with a book than join in with the other children, who spent break time in the library whenever I could get away with it, got excited about getting books for my birthday and Christmas, and... Well, you get the idea, I'm sure. Basically, I read as much then as I do now. In fact, I read so much when I was younger that a teacher actually quizzed me on some books after I reviewed more than she thought I should have been able to in a given time period for homework.

If you're curious: I got every answer right, and she never doubted me again. In fact, after that she started looking out for books that might interest me whenever she knew about library sales and things like that, so that I got in the habit of keeping some of my pocket money in my schoolbag to pay her back for any books she grabbed for me.

My favourite authors - in no particular order - were Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton, Hans Christian Anderson, Jill Murphy, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Monica Dickens, and Bonnie Bryant, to name but a few. My favourite Roald Dahl book remains to this day, Matilda. My favourite Beatrix Potter and Hans Christian Anderson stories are more difficult, since I love so many of them. My favourite Enid Blyton stories are difficult too, but I know I loved her Magic Wishing Chair and Faraway Tree stories a lot. With Jill Murphy it was her Worst Witch series I loved. As for Monica Dickens and Bonnie Bryant, they wrote stories about horses, and I was absolutely horse crazy, so loved their books very much, especially Monica Dickens' World's End series, and Bonnie Bryant's Pony Tails books. I still love those authors and books today, especially my favourite by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which was - and remains today - her book A Little Princess.

*You're organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

My answer to this one changes so often it will most likely have changed again between the time I'm answering the questions in this post, and the time this post goes live. If you asked me right now though, my answer would be Terry Pratchett, Michelle Paver, and Beatrix Potter. Terry Pratchett's sense of humour could come in handy to keep the mood fun and light, Michelle Paver will no doubt have plenty of wonderful stories to share with us about her travels while researching her books, and Beatrix Potter is just someone I would love to have been able to meet and talk to.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

#KidLit #Fantasy #Book - Jinx And The Faerie Dragons Now In #Audio! #FaerieDragons #Pixies


Jinx’s little sister, Ayla, has warned him time and time again that one day his mischief making will get him in to serious trouble. But Jinx isn’t interested in his sister’s warnings; not even when the trouble she warns him about is a cave full of goblins.

Like most pixies, Jinx loves to play tricks and explore. But, unlike most pixies, Jinx takes his tricks too far on a regular basis, causing chaos and taking risks that no other pixie would even consider, much to the amusement of his faerie dragon friends, Caia and Draco, and the annoyance of just about everyone else; especially Ayla. Now Jinx and his faerie dragon friends are off on a treasure hunt, and not even the threat of being captured and eaten by goblins is enough to stop them answering the call of adventure.

Previously made available in eBook and paperback, “Jinx And The Faerie Dragons" is now also available in audio, read for you by Andrew Pond.

Regardless of which format you prefer, here are the main places where you can buy the book:

Audible, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, and The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Friday, February 16, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Joshua The #Degu Checks In

Hi everyone. This is Joshua the degu.

Yeah, the Lilie dog is finally letting someone else have a turn. It's not her fault though, I suppose, since she really does usually have more to say than me and our chinchilla sisters do.

I mean, she's in to everything, goes out in the world, etc, while we like to keep to ourselves, playing on our wheels and with our other toys, watching TV, enjoying our nibbles, playing in our sand baths, and that kind of thing.

In other words, most of the time there's not much for us to say.

From my point of view, this is one of those times. So, mostly I'm just stopping by to say, "Hi," to you all, and let you know I'm doing OK. I'm still alive and squeaking.

Squeak soon,
Joshua

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

#Writing Wednesday - February 14th 2018

Despite having once read a dictionary cover to cover - well, twice if you include the time I read a Welsh-English translation dictionary - I can't spell to save my life. Well, OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, and there are some things I can spell really well. In fact, some of the things I can spell well would surprise you. But you should never rely on me to help you out with spellings. Part of this is some confusion caused by how Welsh spelling is figured out compared to English spelling, and part of it is because I've used a computer for most of my writing ever since I was about ten (about when I was switching from mostly working in Welsh to mostly working in English) and computers have spell check. If you're like me, here's an amusing post that shows how spell check can be both your best friend or worst enemy, and why you shouldn't rely completely on it. Oh, and... Yes, I'm serious about the dictionaries: I had nothing else I hadn't read available to me at the time, so... *Shrugs*

Anyway...

This is how you write a story, so get out there and cultivate those wild ideas!

While you're doing that, remember that a first draft is always a tell-all. What matters most when writing the first draft is that you get your thoughts down on paper, and make it to the end. You can worry about improving it afterwards. For now, just write.

Always remember: it may be a good story, but that doesn't mean you have to write it.

So, what makes a story memorable?

Regardless of what you feel makes a story memorable, most stories require at least a little world building. So, check out these posts on world building for some tips in that area.

No matter the kind of world your character(s) live(s) in, if there's a big focus on the elements in your story, you can make things more interesting by bearing in mind that fire is more than destruction, considering the versatility of wind, giving some thought to the tri-form element that is water, and remembering that earth can be fun.

Also, if you decide you want to step out of your comfort zone and write in a new genre, or are new to writing and trying to decide which genre to write in, you may want to check out these tips for writing in a new genre.

By the way, have you heard about the recent changes to CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing paperbacks? I'm glad to see the new features on the Kindle Direct Publishing site, but still won't be changing which of the two I use, since I don't want to lose the distribution to Amazon Canada, nor the option to have my books available on other places (especially since several of my paperback sales come through those distribution sites). As for CreateSpace getting rid of their paid services... I never used them anyhow, so I don't really care about that. Still, it's comforting to know that I'll have the option to do things like order proofs if I'm ever forced to switch to Kindle Direct Publishing, since I did think not having that option was a very bad thing, and was concerned about the possibility of being forced to switch, and not being able to order proof copies before my books went on sale. As I said though, I currently have no plans to switch any time soon.

Regardless of how you publish your books though, here's a post with some things to think about regarding the middle book in a series.

Whether what you're writing is part of a series or not though, remember to dare to experiment (if you want to succeed).

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

#Welsh #LoveSpoons AKA Dad's First #WoodCarving Project



My Dad has been trying some new crafts lately, among them wood carving. The photo at the top of this post is his first ever wood carving project, which he gave to me when I went for my visit to Wales at the start of January. It's a Welsh love spoon.

For those who don't know, here's some information on what one is, and its history:

Welsh lovespoons are hand made wooden spoons that are made from one piece of wood and designed and decorated according to the carver’s imagination.

Love Spoons in the Past
Originally made by young men during the long winter nights or by young men on long sea voyages, they were carved to express that young man’s intentions towards a particular girl. A love spoon would be given to a girl as an indication that he wished to court her. A girl may have received lovespoons from several suitors and these would be displayed on the wall of her home.

The tradition of carving lovespoons is thought to have been derived from the making of culinary spoons and the giving of a spoon became symbolic with the expression of the wish to “feed” or support the object of the prospective suitor’s desire. It was a short step to decorating such a spoon and to investing it with symbols of the suitor’s hopes and wishes. Such a spoon would then have had no practical use and would have been regarded as an ornamental gift albeit vested with meaning.

The earliest surviving lovespoon dating from around 1667 is at the National Museum of Wales at St. Fagans near Cardiff but Welsh lovespoons are known to have been made by the menfolk of Wales before this date.

The practice of making and giving lovespoons by prospective suitors was common in Wales throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries but the custom became less popular towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. There has been a revival of the custom over the last 40 or so years and many people today make love spoons on a commercial basis for customers to utilise for the commemoration of special events in their lives or in the lives of their loved ones.
~Above information taken from this Welsh love spoons site.

Monday, February 12, 2018

How Do You Politely Offer To Help A #Blind Person?

First of all, I’d like to point out one very important thing: the advice I’m giving is based on my own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. In other words, though I’ve tried to generalize, visually impaired individuals – like people in general – are different, so there is no “one size fits all” rule for dealing with them. What I’m about to say is the general rule of thumb though. At least, as far as I’ve seen.

So...

How do you politely offer to help a blind person?

The first thing you need to do is make your presence known as you approach. If you know the person’s name, greet them by name as you near. Otherwise offer some other kind of polite greeting. If it’s the latter situation, don’t be offended if they don’t immediately respond, but instead offer the greeting again, perhaps adding a query at this point as to whether they need assistance. You don’t need to initiate physical contact at this point. I mention this fact because I’ve dealt with people who felt they needed to be touching me in order to communicate with me. That’s not the case, and it actually makes me feel extremely uncomfortable when people just randomly touch my arm as part of their greeting. If you know the person, it may be a different matter, but as a general rule, coming to stand beside or in front of the person – like you would with a sighted person – is enough.

Oh, and... I mention the possibility of a lack of response because a blind person sometimes won’t immediately respond if they aren’t sure you’re talking to them. It can be embarrassing when you answer a polite greeting, only to discover it wasn’t aimed at you. Also, even worse, some people will become annoyed even though it was an honest mistake on the part of the blind person. While a sighted person can turn and look, and tell if you’re looking in their direction so might be speaking to them, a blind person can’t. Some people seem to forget that fact. I’ve personally had people become rather annoyed and rude to me when I returned their greeting when it wasn’t aimed at me. Most blind people will acknowledge the greeting on the off-chance it was aimed at them though, especially if they’re in a position where they’re hoping someone will come along and help them.

Anyway, after establishing contact, offer assistance, if you haven’t done so already. No. It’s not rude to just outright offer assistance. The person should either gratefully accept your offer, or politely refuse it.

If it’s the latter, you can ask if they’re sure once, but after that drop the subject. Then either part company at this point, or engage in small talk... Whichever you and the individual in question wishes to do. Either way, don’t push the matter. If you keep pushing the matter, that’s when you start coming off as being rude or annoying.

On the other hand, if the person does want help, your best bet is to next ask what kind of assistance they need. That will provide an opening for the person to tell you that they’re trying to get somewhere, or whatever. They may even tell you at this point exactly how you can go about offering that help.

If they don’t specify, and the help they need is in getting somewhere, whether or not the blind person would consider it more helpful for you to carry their bags or offer an arm is one of those things that really depends on the individual. Whether or not they have any sight at all may play a role in their decision too, since some people have enough sight to be able to keep the shapeless shadow that is you in sight, but not enough to navigate in unfamiliar places, or they may use a guide dog, which they can get to follow you, or whatever. Your best bet is to ask the person. Personally, I don’t like having to have my bags out of my own hands, so always travel with no more than I can manage myself, plus my cane, and – though I’d still be using my cane while walking with you – I would prefer you gave me your arm. As I said though, your best bet is to ask the blind person which they’d prefer.

If you find yourself needing to lead a blind person, here’s how to go about it:

1. Where possible, ensure everything you’re carrying is in your left hand (unless dealing with a left-handed blind person who wants to use their cane while you guide them, in which case it’s the opposite).
2. Stand to the left of the person (or right if a left-handed cane user) but one step ahead of them.
3. With your arm closest to the blind person slightly bent at the elbow, but held in a position that’s comfortable for you, inform the blind person you’re ready for them to take your arm by saying something like, “Here’s my arm.” The blind person should then grab your arm, usually holding on to your elbow. If the way they do so is uncomfortable for you for any reason, politely tell them so, and suggest how they can adjust their grip by saying something like, “Can you loosen your hold a little, please?” Or, “I’d feel more comfortable if you could hold my arm a little higher.”
4. Start walking at your normal pace. If you’re a fast walker, and are concerned this might be too fast for the person, walk a bit, and then ask if they’d like you to walk at a slower pace.

Things to bear in mind while leading a blind person:

  • Where possible, warn the person of required changes in speed, as well as stops and starts.
  • Always warn the blind person of upcoming obstacles. This is essential if the person is relying on you to be their eyes without using mobility aid, but useful for those with guide dogs and canes sometimes too, so worth doing regardless.
  • When faced with the need to walk through a space only wide enough for one person, warn the blind person that this is the case, and offer them to take your shoulder instead. The blind person should then move his or her hand from your arm to your shoulder. Once they’ve done so, continue walking at the pace you were setting before, or warn the person you will need to change the pace. Failure to warn them will likely result in some pain for you: failure to warn of an increase in speed may result in them gripping your shoulder hard in an attempt not to lose their hold, while failure to tell them of a slower pace may result in their feet or cane connecting with the backs of your feet or legs. Once it's possible to walk side by side again, inform the person of this fact, and then offer them your arm once more.
  • When dealing with steps, some blind people find it easier to hold a railing or something and make their own way down. Ask your blind charge if this is the case. If it is, guide their hand to the railing, assure them you’ll meet them at the bottom, make your own way down, wait for them to join you, and then offer your arm again. If they’d rather you continue to guide them, stay a step ahead of them (you may need to slow your walking speed to ensure you don’t get more than one step ahead of them) and warn them when you’re coming to the end of the steps.

I hope you found this post helpful and informative. If you have any further questions on the topic, don’t feel I was clear enough about something, or would like to request a similar post on another aspect of dealing with blind people, know more about how I do certain things as a blind person, or whatever, please don’t hesitate to post your questions and thoughts in the comments section of this post. I’ll be happy to answer your questions, clear up your confusion, etc. At least, I’ll be happy to try and do so.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

#Book Release: The Princelings of the North By Jemima Pett

The Princelings of the North
by Jemima Pett

Book 8 of the Princelings of the East series

genre; older middle grade mystery adventure – age 10 and upwards.

The Princelings of the North is the eighth in The Princelings of the East series. Princelings Dylan and Dougall, who live in the far northwest of an island off the northwest coast of the Realms, rescue an exiled prince, and battle against the odds to restore him to his birthright.

Irrepressible Dylan and steady Dougall are inseparable denizens of the tiny castle of Haunn, so far away from the rest of civilisation that it’s almost off the map. And maps are one of the key elements of this intricate adventure. Dylan finds a treasure map inside a bottle washed up on the shore – and he reckons he knows where X is. Instead of treasure, he finds the exiled Prince Kevin of Castle Deeping, antagonist in the Talent Seekers, bit-player in Bravo Victor, and mystery prince in Willoughby the Narrator. Kevin has had time to realise what a fool he’s been, and now wants vengeance and his castle back, which is just the sort of adventurous challenge that Dylan craves.

Lovers of the series will devour this latest adventure, but newcomers may find it best to start with the box set of books 1-3 or book 5; book 7 links to Kevin’s disappearance. This is a mystery adventure in a world not quite like ours, suitable for age 10 and upwards. The series is set to conclude with book 10.

Excerpt

“It’s a map, look! A treasure map!”

Dougall looked at the scrap of paper his brother Dylan had smoothed out on their bed.

“How do you know it’s a map?”

Dylan sighed, and pointed out the lines. “There’s the outline of the island, and the rocky inlet where the boats go in, and the wiggly lines are where the creek goes into the marshes. And there’s an X for where the treasure is buried!” he finished, leaping off the bed. “Oh, why can’t we go now? It might rain tomorrow!”

“But where did you get it?” Dougall was not one to act without all the facts.

“It got washed into the tide pool down near the Ensay Burn. I fished it out. It was in a bottle. I saw it glinting green and bobbing about.  I thought it had a stick inside it, but it broke when I dropped it on the way back and I found the paper!”

“But why do you think it’s a treasure map?” Dougall had not yet caught his brother’s enthusiasm.

“It’s got an X on it, look!”

“It could mean anything, X.”

“Like what?”

Dougall thought for a bit. He wasn’t familiar with maps, except of the night sky, since he was one of the star-watching team at the castle.  He didn’t go out of the castle much, except onto the crags above to check the solar cells or the turbine flow. It was Dylan who went all over the island, running messages. He’d been most places.

“Have you been to this place?” he asked Dylan, wondering whether he really did know what he was talking about after all.

“Umm, not exactly.  It’s pretty much on the way to Tober Hold, but I usually go a bit further up the glen, and keep to the high ground.  This bit’s all wet.” He pointed to the network of lines he’d described as the creek.

“And there’s nothing there that could be marked as a cross?”

Dylan thought for a bit.  Then he looked at the map again and then at his feet. “There’s ruin on a rock. By the crossroads,” he mumbled.

Dougall looked closer at the map. “Well, nobody’s marked the roads going into and out of the cross. You might still be right. Is it the right place for the crossroads?”

It was Dylan’s turn to study the map closely. “Yes,” he concluded. He stared at it for a moment. “Why would anyone…”

“Mark a cross on a map and not the roads leading up to it?” finished Dougall, his eyes sparkling.  “How long will it take us to get there?”

© J M Pett 2018 The Princelings of the North ch 1

Buying Links
iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com.au, Amazon.in.

Raising money for the Ulva Buyout Appeal #UlvaBuyout
The little island of Ulva is just to the south of the area where Jemima has placed Castle Haunn, Dylan and Dougall’s home on the Isle of Mull.  The community of North West Mull have the opportunity to buy the island from the current landowner, and use it as a sustainable resource, securing their own futures.
Jemima invites everyone to join in her part of the fundraising effort on her JustGiving page, where you can get more details.  Anyone donating on her page will get a copy of a new novella written especially for the appeal, Dylan and the Lights of Ulva, with Jemima’s thanks.

Please help to promote this massive appeal for the small number (in the tens rather than the hundreds) of islanders.

About the Author
Jemima wrote her first book when she was eight years old. She was heavily into world-building, drawing maps, building railway timetables, and dreaming of being a champion show-jumper, until schoolwork got in the way. Then she went down the science path, writing research papers, manuals and reports, as well as editing the newsletters for her sports clubs. Forty years on she started writing stories about her guinea pigs and their adventures in a fantasy world where everything ran on strawberry juice. Eventually the Princelings of the East took shape, originally intended as a trilogy, but the characters just wouldn’t lie down.  The planned ending will now be with book ten.

Meanwhile, Jemima continues to enjoy the company of new guinea pigs in her home in Norfolk, UK. You can enjoy their blog 'George’s Guinea Pig World‘.

Connect with Jemima Pett:  
Blog, Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Smashwords.

Friday, February 09, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Lilie The #Westie's Fun #Vet Trip

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.

Yes, again. Can I help it if I have more to say than the squeaky things in cages? No, I can't! Besides, I'm cute, and everyone loves me, so I'm sure you're pleased to get to hear from me again so soon, right?

Anyway...

I got to go to that vet place again last week. It was quite an adventure!

Just me and Daddy went, which meant we could walk, because me and Daddy can manage it, but Mummy can't walk that far. I had to wear my coat though, because it was really cold that day, even with the sun shining.

There were other animals there, and I wanted to be friends with them. But then this one dog - he was one of those little Bulldog types - got too bouncy even for me. I can bounce with the best of them. Or, I thought I could. But he was just too bouncy, and I got a bit scared. OK, a lot scared. So scared I managed to get out of my coat, harness, and collar, and was running loose around the vet in a panic. I know he was a bit smaller even than me, but that's totally not the point!

Anyway, I got caught, they helped me to calm down, Daddy put my clothes back on, and I was back to being my usual happy and friendly self again... Just in time for them to be ready to see me.

I got weighed, and I weigh 9 kilos (22.5 lbs). At least, as best as they could tell, since I was a bit too excited to stay still on the weighing machine for long enough for them to be totally certain. Then they trimmed my claws, which I'm glad about, because I don't do a good job of wearing them down, and they were getting long enough to annoy me.

After that, Daddy talked to them a bit. Something about groomers... Whatever they are... And the talk I hear each time I go there about something called "flea and worming treatment" (which usually results in me being given something to eat that tastes funny, and having some wet stuff put on the back of my neck). Then we walked home.

I was glad to get home, even though that vets is always an interesting place to visit. We'd left Mummy there, and I was pleased to see she hadn't gone and gotten herself lost or injured while unsupervised. Plus, I needed a nap by this point.

Apparently I'll get to go back again in a couple of months. I'm looking forward to it, though I hope that little Bulldog isn't there... He was just too bouncy, even by my standards!

Lots of licks,
Lilie

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

#Writing Wednesday - February 7th 2018

In case you missed yesterday's post: "Goodies For Grandmother" is now available in audio, narrated by Jenny Bacon. It's available to buy from Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Purchase links are in the post I just linked to, along with links for the eBook and paperback versions, if you'd rather one of those.

I'm working with Jenny on a few more of my titles; Jenny has agreed to do the narration for four more of my stand alone stories. I'm pleased to be working with her again, because I love what she does with my books, and think she's a delight to work with in general.

I'm also pleased to once more be working with Danny Letham, James Watkins, JD Kelly, and Jerry Fischer. The first three - Danny, James, and JD - are each narrating another of my books, and Jerry is working on another two. I enjoyed working with all four of them in the past, so I was delighted when they accepted my latest offers, and look forward to seeing what they do with the books they've agreed to narrate for me this time.

Yet another of my stand alone stories is being produced by a narrator by the name of Andrew Pond. Andrew is a narrator I haven't worked with before, but I was pleased with his audition - obviously, or I wouldn't have sent him an offer - and have found him to be a delight to work with too.

It seems I've been pretty lucky with most of my narrators, since most of them are people I would willingly work with again. All those mentioned in this post come under that catagory for sure!

Anyway, as you can see - both from this post and my post from two weeks ago - I've managed to cross a few things off my list of writing goals for this year already, and am well on the way to being able to make sure I can check off another. I've even got a little actual writing done, though not as much as I'd have liked to. Still,I'm pleased with how much I did do, especially considering how much time has been spent on the "publisher tasks" in the past month.

How are your own writing goals going so far? Are you on track? Or are you struggling already?

If you're going through the struggle most writers do at some point right now, here are some reminders to get you through 'the struggle'. However, this next post may be more what you need if you're struggling with finding the time to write. Oh, and you're never going to have a 'normal' schedule if you're a writer, so you might as well stop trying. Above all, remember to be true to yourself.

Oh, and if you participated in STORYSTORM, here's a post storystorm post to help you figure out what's next. Speaking of which, if you participated, how did you do? Did you get your 30 story ideas?

Either way, if you can't find your voice when it comes to writing your story, here's how to write shamelessly.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

#KidLit #FairyTale #Book - Goodies For Grandmother Now In #Audio! #Fairies #Brownies



Brownies share the woods with the fairies, but – unlike the fairies – the brownies are very naughty. They love playing tricks, love stealing anything travellers happen to be carrying through the woods, and love getting people lost. So when one of them spots Ella carrying a basket of goodies, he just can’t resist trying to steal them from her. But Ella isn’t going to let him near it. Bob the brownie quickly figures out that he’ll have to come up with a sneakier plan to get his little hands on that basket of goodies.

Based on the well-known story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ but with no big bad wolf to eat Grandmother, nor woodcutter to save her, ‘Goodies For Grandmother’ tells the story of a little girl in purple, a sick Grandmother, a naughty little brownie, and a clever little fairy.

Previously only available as an eBook or paperback, "Goodies For Grandmother" is now also available as an audiobook, read for you by Jenny Bacon.

Here are the main places where you can buy the book, regardless of the format you'd prefer:

Audible, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

You can also find the book listed on Goodreads.

Monday, February 05, 2018

#Music Monday: Ronan Keating - If Tomorrow Never Comes

An old favourite of mine, in honour of the fact it's Valentine's Day in a little over a week. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Tori's January 2018 #Book #Reviews (LBE)

It's time to take a look at what I read in January.

As with the previous posts like this one, if you want to know more about the book, or the author, click on whichever it is you want to learn more about, and it will take you to the appropriate page on Goodreads. Clicking on my rating should take you to my actual Goodreads review for the book in question.

Don't forget: the format I've reviewed may not be the format I read. Also, please remember that I read across multiple genres and age ranges, so you should always check if a book is suitable for the intended reader, especially when children are involved. Sometimes reading the book's description on its Goodreads page will be enough for this, but other times you may need to check elsewhere to figure out the genre and/or recommended reading level.

OK... On to the reviews!

Warlord of the Forgotten Age (Legends of Windemere, #15)Warlord of the Forgotten Age by Charles E. Yallowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've been eagerly awaiting the final book in this series since I finished the penultimate book, and am pleased to be able to say that the book was worth waiting for. It was a well-written and gripping read, injected with just the right amounts of humour, action, and emotional scenes. The ending may not have been a "happily ever after" type ending, but I was satisfied that the fates of all the characters made sense based on past events and character actions. In short, this was a fantastic ending to a wonderful series, and I highly recommend the entire series to any fantasy lover out there who hasn't read it yet.

ArtemisArtemis by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book wasn't amazing, but it was really good. It wasn't quite what I expected, but it was different in a good way, so I really enjoyed it anyhow. It took a couple of chapters for me to really get in to it properly, but after that the plot was exciting, the characters were believable, and the worldbuilding was very well done.

The Gatekeeper (Afterlife, #1.5)The Gatekeeper by Katrina Cope
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An excellent read, which will have you eager to read the main books in the series - assuming you have yet to read them all.

Snow White's RevengeSnow White's Revenge by Casey Lane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An interesting read, with a plot that keeps you guessing, and a great cast of characters.

Swamp FamiliarsSwamp Familiars by Abigail Fero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An enjoyable quick read, which could make an ideal introduction to the books from this series.

Bogamus In Space (Bogamus And Friends, #3)Bogamus In Space by Nathan A Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is an extremely entertaining and enjoyable read, which makes a great addition to the series, as well as being a fantastic and fun read in its own right.

Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic CircleCatherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle by Heera Datta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was an interesting read, and a fascinating look in to the life of the famous author's wife, and what she may have been thinking or feeling.

Unearthed (Unearthed, #1)Unearthed by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was an awesome read, especially for someone like me who loves both science fiction and maths. It would have been a five star read for me, but for one issue: the cliffhanger ending. I absolutely hate those, and the point this book left off at had me almost screaming out loud in frustration. I need book two... NOW!

The HatThe Hat by C.S. Boyack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An entertaining plot and great characters combine to make a wonderfully weird and extremely enjoyable read.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4  (Adrian Mole, #1)The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was an enjoyable and entertaining read.

The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (Adrian Mole #2)The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was as entertaining as the first in the series; an excellent sequel.

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Personally, I don't think this book is the amazing read a lot of people seem to consider it, but can see why they might feel that way, since it has a plot that's sure to get you thinking, and will likely stay with you for a very long time. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it and think it was a good read. I did. I just didn't think it was an amazing one.

Go Set a WatchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I wasn't as impressed with this one as the first one. The writing style was annoying, with constant flashbacks and information dumps making it impossible for me to get in to the story properly. Also, for such a smart child, Scout is an incredibly stupid and naive adult, which I found disappointing and irritating.

The Call of Cthulu and Other StoriesThe Call of Cthulu and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Excellent stories, which are perfect creepy reads to enjoy on a dark and stormy evening... Or any other time, really.

Lord of the FliesLord of the Flies by William Golding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The thing I liked about this book was the message, which is - unfortunately - very true. The thing I didn't like was the way it was shown, which I found to be disturbing.

The Princelings of the North (The Princelings of the East #8)The Princelings of the North by Jemima Pett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've been looking forward to reading this book since I heard it was going to be coming out, and was not disappointed! This book is an excellent addition to this series. The plot is entertaining and exciting, while the characters are interesting and believable (yes, I know they're guinea pigs, but there's no reason a guinea pig can't be a believable character).
*NOTE: I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchanged for an honest review. This fact has in no way influenced either my opinion of the book, or the contents of my review.

Florence BlackwaterFlorence Blackwater by James Field
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another excellent addition to this series.

Friday, February 02, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Lilie The #Westie's Collar

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.

When the humans got my puppy collar, they got the next size up as well, so they could put it on me when the one I had started getting too tight. This seemed like a great idea, and is exactly what they did:


There was just one problem with the plan: the next size up of that particular type of collar was actually a little bigger than I needed, and there was no way to make it tighter. Looser, yes. But not tighter.

Now, since I was nine and a half months old, so would possibly grow a bit more - I could still grow a little even now, at alittle over ten months old - the humans figured that wasn't a big deal. Better too loose than too tight, right?

Except this collar was just a little looser than was advisable, and got in my way when I was playing with my toys.

I swear I didn't chew it on purpose!

Like I said, it was in the way when I was playing with my toys. I can't be blamed for that, can I?

Luckily, it seems the humans agree with me, because I didn't get in trouble.

I did get something though: a brand new collar.

As it happened, the bigger collar got broke at a time when I could still wear my old one. They'd changed me to the other one before it got too tight for me, in case I had a growth spurt or something - whatever one of those is. But there was still just about enough room for Mummy to stick a couple of fingers between my neck and the collar on the loosest setting, so she said it was OK for them to put the old one back on me until they could take me to the petstore place to get a new one. I was relieved about that, because I get really upset when I don't have a collar on. I just don't feel dressed without one.

So, off to the petstore place we went, which meant a trip to town... YAY!

Daddy picked out a new collar for me from the ones the petstore place had. It's purple, because Mummy likes purple things, and my other collars were purple. Anyway, here I am wearing it:


It fits me better than that other "big girl collar" did, but still has room to be loosened if I have one of those growth spurt things. That second part seems very important to the humans for some reason. Personally, all I care about is that I have a collar, it fits, it has my tags and bells on it (along with the little heart charm Daddy gave me) and it doesn't get in my way when I'm trying to play.

Lots of licks,
Lilie

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

#Writing Wednesday - #Poem: Candle

Candle

One candle among many; tiny flame in the dark.
Yet, when something comes to extinguish the spark,
And its flickering light is a thing of the past,
The space where it shone somehow seems vast.
Then, here on Earth, the watchers mourn,
While, up above, another star is born.

© 2018 ~ Victoria "Tori" Zigler

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

R.I.P. Grandad

My Grandad died last week.

For those who don't know, I'm talking about my Mam's Dad... My Dad's Dad died before I was born.

Anyway, my Grandad was 83 years old (he turned 83 at the start of December) and died in his sleep in the early hours of the morning of January 24th 2018.

Grandad's never been 100% healthy, and has had multiple close calls with his heart alone. So the fact he made it to 83 with how poor his health has always been is amazing. But that doesn't make it any easier.

It's good that, when the end did come, he went peacefully in his sleep, and didn't suffer in his final moments. I always think that's a nice way to go. But, when it comes right down to it, that doesn't really help much either.

I can't say I was close to my Grandad, though we had some things in common - he was a book-loving writer too. I didn't see him regularly, especially not in my adult life. But I do have some fond memories I can look back on.

My favourite is one from when I was about six. My Mam took my brother (Carl) and me up to London. We spent time with him, and got spoiled by him and his wife at the time, my Nanny Beryl (who died several years back). There were plenty of great parts about that trip, including getting our photo taken with one of the guards at Buckingham Palace. But my favourite part was sitting with Carl and Grandad while he read to us. I especially remember him reading a book called "Dogger" - I believe it's by Shirley Hughes - which was a story Carl and I both loved.

I don't have a copy of that book. But if I did, I'd read it right now in his memory.

Monday, January 29, 2018

#MondayMotivation And #Inspiration - January 2018 Edition

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible”!
~Audrey Hepburn

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
~Maya Angelou

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.
~Henry Ford

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
~Albert Einstein

Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.
~Ancient Indian Proverb

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.
~John Lennon

Sunday, January 28, 2018

January 2018 #TV Talk And #Movie Mutterings

I missed doing one of these posts in December, so let's take a look at what I watched over the past two months.

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

Don't forget: I watch things across multiple genres, as well as for different age ranges, so you should always check before viewing to make certain something is suitable for the intended audience, especially when children are involved. IMDB will usually provide this information for you, but you'll have to look elsewhere if you can't find it on the page I link to.

OK... On to the reviews!

Despicable Me (2010 movie):
For the most part this was an entertaining movie, with some really sweet scenes. There were parts I thought were stupid though. I give this movie four out of five stars.

Despicable Me 2 (2013 movie):
Not quite as good as the first movie, but still with several entertaining or touching moments. I'm being generous and rounding up here when I say I give this movie four out of five stars.

Despicable Me 3 (2017 movie):
This movie had some bad parts, some entertaining parts, and some sweet scenes. All in all, it wasn't fantastic, but was a pretty good movie. I give this movie four out of five stars.

The Last Airbender (2010 movie):
I wasn't sure what I was going to think of this one. People kept telling me I probably wouldn't enjoy it - including Kelly, who watched it before I did, and didn't enjoy it as much as he expected to - but there was a copy among the DVDs that Mam brought here, so I figured I'd watch it. I'm glad I did, because I actually really enjoyed it. It's not one I'd count among my favourites, perhaps, but I enjoyed it enough to want to give it a high rating, to be glad I watched it, and to hope they made - or will make - more (since this did spacifically state it was "book one" near the start of the movie, something Kelly agreed was the case). There's also a TV series, so I might have to see about watching that too. Anyway, I give this movie five out of five stars.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001 movie):
This was a fun movie that the whole family could enjoy, and which would appeal to those fascinated with the various myths surrounding Atlantis. It wasn't an amazing movie, but it was a really good one, and I did enjoy it. I give this movie four out of five stars.

Friday, January 26, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Lilie The #Westie's View On #Trains

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.


(The above photo was taken when I was nine and a half months old. I'm ten months old today though).

I decided something earlier this month: I DO NOT like trains!

I went with the humans to this noisy and busy place with lots of people, and we left Mummy there. I'm not sure why we left her there, but we did. I might have tried to protest, but I was so busy sniffing things and greeting people that I didn't notice she wasn't with us until we were back home and she didn't come in. I waited for her, and waited some more, but she didn't come. I did hear her voice coming from the plastic ringing thing a couple of times when Daddy played with it though.

A couple of days later, we went back to the noisy and busy place to get her again. I'm still confused about why we waited so long to go back there for her. But a lot of what humans do confuses me, and I'll probably never figure out the mystery. We got her back though... Even if she did smell of some other dog.

Anyway, about those trains...

I didn't notice them when we went to the place the first time. Daddy and I just went in a little way, the humans talked to someone, and then Daddy and I left. But when we went back for her we had to go further in to this place. I guess she wondered off from where we left her or something, because she somehow found her way on to one of those train things. At least, the humans tell me their called trains. Personally, I call them terrifying!

I love car rides. I don't mind too much when busses go past, though I wish the people in them would get out and come say, "hi," to me. Some of the big lorries do make me jump a bit, but even them I don't mind too much. But trains.... Trains are another matter all together.

Trains are even more scary than drums!

It's like someone took the biggest and most noisy busses in the world and stuck them end to end. I don't like it one bit!

I was shaking so hard Daddy thought I was having some kind of seizure or something. Honestly, I was so scared it wouldn't have surprised me if I had ended up having one! I was so relieved when it was time to leave that place.

The humans say they had talked about me riding on one of those, and are glad they decided not to have me do it considering how scared I was. I bet they're not as glad as I am! It was bad enough just being near one. I can't imagine how much more scary it would have been to ride on one.

I couldn't get away from that place fast enough, and hope I never have to go there again!

I think I'll stick to cars. Or maybe just use my paws...

Lots of licks,
Lilie