Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The #Rats Turn Two

Today is the second birthday of our ratty girls, Skye and Star.

I know some people aren't fans of rats, but I assure you our girls are sweet little things. Kelly was one of those people who didn't like rats, until he got me the girls. Actually, I was surprised he did, because he'd always insisted I couldn't have rats. But he went to look at them thinking he'd put up with having rats for me, and the girls stole his heart from day one. He brought them home almost two years ago (when the girls were about 12 weeks old) and now he's as eager to pet and play with them as I am, and actually calls Skye his baby girl. Haha!

Anyway, like I said, our ratty girls are two years old today. So...

Happy birthday, Skye and Star!

#Writing Wednesday - August 31st 2016

Just in case you missed Saturday's post about it...

The eBook version of my latest release - and first attempt at a science fiction story - "Jeffrey The Orange Alien" is now officially available to buy on Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as from a few other eBook retailers (such as Barnes & Noble, the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, etc).

Those who prefer a physical book may be pleased to hear that the paperback version should become available in a few weeks time, all being well. I'll let you know when that one is available.

Regardless of your prefered format, I hope those of you who buy copies enjoy it. I would also appreciate reviews, either where you brought it, or on the book's Goodreads page, or both. Please don't feel obligated to write a review though; reviews are entirely optional... Very much appreciated, but optional.

If you do buy a copy... Thank you! If you do write a review... Thank you again!


Did you know: Smashwords recently released a new feature where you can get eMail notifications whenever your favourite Smashwords authors publish something new.

If you have an account on Smashwords, and want to subscribe to notifications about my new releases, simply go to my profile page on Smashwords, and click the button labeled "Subscribe to Author Alerts."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

#Poetry #Book: "Refractions" By #Poet And #Author Kevin Morris

"The poet may redact
The light that through his poem does refract.
But the reader will therein construe
That she believes to be true."

Light refracts causing confusion as to where it is going in the same way that poems do. What the reader thinks the poet means and what he actually does are often 2 rather different things but readers will, none the less draw their own conclusions (eroneous or otherwise).

Above is the description for Kevin Morris' latest collection of poetry, “Refractions” which is now available to purchase in the Amazon Kindle store.

To read a free sample of “Refractions”, or to buy the book, please visit (for the UK) or (for the US).

Monday, August 29, 2016

#TV Talk And #Movie Mutterings - August 2016

I didn't do one of these posts last month, because there wasn't anything new that was TV or movie related to post about. I mean, it was sort of pointless doing a post of new to me movies and TV shows when I hadn't seen anything new, don't you think? But I've got some new to me movies to post about this month, so you get a post this time.

As with the previous posts like this, I'm not posting long and detailed reviews. I'm just giving you a bit about what I thought of the movie in question. Because of this, I've linked to where you can find out more about the movie, if you want to. So, to know more than just my opinion, and how I'd rate the movie, click on the title of the movie in question, and you should go straight to a page where you can find out more.

Yes, I did say "how I'd rate the movie" in the above paragraph. I know I haven't been doing ratings, but I decided to start doing so now. No, I'm not going to go back and rate movies I've posted about in the past... That would be incredibly time consuming, not to mention boring. Anyway, I'm going to use the same rating system I'm used to using on Goodreads, because I figure it's easier to stick with one rating system, rather than risking confusion over which rating system applies this time. This means that:

One star = did not like it.
Two stars = it was okay.
Three stars = liked it.
Four stars = really liked it.
Five stars = it was amazing.

OK... So...

Maya The Bee (2014 movie):
I've seen the TV series for this one, and think it's really cute. The movie is cute too, but I wasn't quite as taken with the movie as I have been by the TV series. It felt too long. I don't know if it was just where I'm used to getting Maya's adventures in small doses, and found it difficult to adjust to such a long "episode" about her, or if it's something in how well they did with expanding the story. But, either way, it felt like they'd forced the extra length, with the result it seemed to drag in several places. So, yeah... It was a cute movie, but not as good as the TV series, in my opinion. I give this one four out of five stars.

The Good Dinosaur (2015 movie):
I've been dying to see this one ever since I learned it existed. It looked totally awesome, so I'd ended up doing the thing I always try not to do - often unsuccessfully. I'd built up high expectations for this movie. I'm pleased to report that I was not disappointed! This movie was fantastic! It had everything a good movie needs: an interesting storyline, a great cast of characters, and scenes that will have you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions so that you'll be laughing one minute and crying the next. I give this one a well deserved five out of five stars.

Fantastic Four (2015 movie):
As a movie in its own right, this one is really good - not fantastic, but really good. My main complaint about it as a movie in its own right is the awful sound quality (most of the movie was so quiet I could hardly hear it, even with the TV turned up really high). However, as a Fantastic Four movie, this movie was terrible. It threw the origin story right out of the window, and made a few other mistakes as well. If you're going to make a movie based on a superhero (or group of them, as in this case) you should do your homework first. If you want to go with a new origin story, make up your own superhero. Just saying! I give this one three out of five stars.

Pan (2015 movie):
This is another movie I wasn't as impressed with as I had hoped to be. It had a few entertaining scenes, and was a reasonably good movie in its own right, but it wasn't an amazing movie. Not to mention, it didn't work at all as a Peter Pan origin story. The movie was set in World War II (1939-1945) which makes absolutely no sense for the origin story of Peter Pan, who met Wendy Darling during the Edwardian era (1901-1910). The dates just don't work! So, another movie that only gets three out of five stars.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

#SciFi #Book Release: Jeffrey The Orange Alien

Eager to see the universe, and hoping to make some new friends from far off places, Jeffrey the Zuling decides to take a trip to another planet.

With such similarities in appearance between Zulings and Earthlings, he decides to start with a visit to planet Earth. But his introductions to the planet’s native creatures don’t go quite as planned, and Jeffrey soon finds himself wondering if he should have just stayed at home on Omega Zulu 8.

Is he right? Join Jeffrey on his trip to Earth, and judge for yourself!

The above is the description for my latest story. It's called "Jeffrey The Orange Alien" and is the story that was inspired by the Story Dice session with my brother, Carl, which I posted about back in March. It's only a simple science fiction story, but I hope those who read it enjoy it.

When I decided to hold on to the story and expand on it, I made a note of my dice so as to post them when I announced the release of this story... In case anyone is curious. We were playing with five dice (you can do anything up to 10 on the Story Dice app) and my dice were: alien, blue ribbon, fire hydrent, microphone, and swimming pool. If you want to know how they all fit in to the story, you'll have to read the book.

Also, in case you're curious about the origin of the name of the planet, or the name of the creatures from it... The name of the planet Jeffrey comes from was one of the suggestions made for me by the planet name generator, and I made up the creature name based on randomly placing "ling" or "ian" after parts of the planet name (since creatures from various planets usually get called something ending in "ian" or "ing" - take the words "Martian" and "Earthling" for example) and then deciding which I liked best. Jeffrey himself also went through a couple of different shapes before I decided on the shape that worked best for this story, and even then had his appearance tweaked slightly when I liked how Jacob drew him for the cover more than my own version of him. I'd have made him an orange cone-head alien, if it had worked for the story. I nearly did anyway, but - as I already mentioned - the shape didn't work for what I wanted for the story.

This story may have started life as a piece of flash fiction, but as I took the time to tidy up the rough edges, expand on the story, and so on, it grew in length a fair bit. Now it's a few thousand words long, is ready to be set free to take its chances out in the big wide world, and today is its official release date.

You can already buy the eBook version from Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as from Barnes & Noble, the Apple iBookstore, and Kobo, and will be able to get it from a few other places Smashwords distributes to soon. That means there are plenty of options for reading it, so you'll be able to find one that works for you, regardless of your prefered method of reading eBooks.

If you prefer a physical book, don't worry! The paperback will become available as soon as it can be arranged... Hopefully very soon. Watch my Wednesday posts for an announcement of its availability.

Friday, August 26, 2016

My #Author and #Blogger #Interview With Rosie

I was interviewed today on as part of Rosie's new "Fierce Friday" segment.

If you want to read the interview, go to

Hey, when you're done reading my interview, why not check out some of Rosie's other excellent posts? Her blog is a great place to go if you need some inspirational or motivational posts.

#Furkid Friday: #Degu #Travel #Advice - The #Vet

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

This is Joshua the degu.

After my degu brother, Jacob, came home from that vet place, I - along with my other degu brother, Jenks - asked him what he thought of his trip. I thought I'd share with you what he had to say.

"I wouldn't recommend it as a travel destination," Jacob explained. "Honestly, if you can avoid going there altogether, I'd suggest you go with that option. Don't get me wrong, the results are great... Assuming it really was that vet guy who made me better, that is. I mean, I'm still not 100% certain it was to do with him. But the human caretakers insist it was, so..." Jacob trailed off, waving a paw dismissively, as if to indicate he was done with discussing the details of his recovery.

"So, you'd rate the results of the service they give you highly,?" we asked, partially out of curiosity, and partially to remind him he was meant to be reviewing his trip.

"Yes, I think so," Jacob said, looking thoughtful, but nodding his head in confirmation. "I guess I'd say the results of the service deserve a five stars out of five rating."

"Then, why don't you suggest it as an ideal travel destination?" we asked, confused and curious.

"Because the results are all it has going for it," Jacob explained. "The transport there and back is uncomfortable and scary, not to mention lonely, since you don't even get asked if you want a private box, or would prefer to travel with a friend."

"Or sibling," Jenks put in.

"Or sibling," Jacob agreed. "But that's not all."

"What else?" we asked.

"While the results are great, the service itself is terrible," Jacob told us. "You get pulled about, poked and prodded, and examined more thoroughly than I'd like to remember. And you don't even get asked if you want the treatments."

"That sounds dreadful," we said, cuddling close to him for comfort.

"It was," Jacob insisted. "But you know what was even worse?"

"What?" we asked, our eyes wide with fear at the news there was worse to come.

"They didn't even offer me any refreshments," Jacob complained.

"That's terrible!" Jenks and I exclaimed, truely horrified.

"I know!" Jacob wailed. "I hear they have nibbles there for dogs, but not for any other animals."

"That doesn't seem fair," we complained.

"I agree," Jacob said. "As I said, i'd give the results five stars out of five, but everything else gets only one star... And that's me being nice!"

There you go. So, that's my brothers's advice for you: if you can avoid going to the vet, great! If not, be prepared for an awful experience, even if it's one that produces good results. Oh, and - unless you're a dog - take some nibbles with you, or be prepared to go hungry.

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - August 24th 2016

Want to make something stand out in your writing? Then try using one of these seven forms of emphasis in writing. As a point though, several of those are completely useless in a document being read by a blind person, since things like bold or italic text aren't picked up by screen readers, and neither is text size. The only way for a blind person to tell if someone has used different fonts or anything in Microsoft Word is to select a piece of text (which is a fiddly job when you can't see) and check the font settings for that piece of text. I don't mind highlighting pieces of text to make them fancy looking when formatting my print internal documents, but there's no way I'm going through someone's entire document checking the font details for each individual word to see if it's got something fancy done to it to make it stand out. Just saying. Still, they're useful tips in general, so I figured I'd share them.


Need some ideas for your next writing project? How about using one of these ways to find inspiration in your memories?

It doesn't matter if you're starting a new writing project, or still collecting tips for improving a current one, either way, here are five rules for chapter one, which should help you get your story off to a great start.

You know what else helps? Reading! You don't need to read quite as much as I do (although, if you can, good for you). But you should at least be reading as much as you can. Not reading is the number one reason you aren't writing.

Finally, here are some tips on how to avoid murdering your writing career.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Of #Tips For Busy Lives, #Language Sounds, And #History #Facts

The days are just whizzing by, aren't they? Have you been busy - like most people? If so, I hope you've also made sure to have some down time... Your heart and soul needs it!

If, despite feeling like you're "busy" all the time, you need to feel like you've achieved something in your day, but just aren't feeling motivated lately, check out these 30 tips to help you feel like you've accomplished something today.

Also, just because I spotted them and they seem like good tips, here are six tips to help busy people stay healthy.


A couple of weeks ago, I spotted this on one of the blogs I follow, and thought it was interesting enough to share: Researchers Recreate How Words Sounded 8000 Years Ago. Also, if you're interested, here's a little post about how books were born.

I think these historical facts are really interesting too!

Plus, this poem is quite entertaining.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

#Roleplaying Ramblings - August 2016 Edition

Time for a roleplaying update!

I no longer have my Saturday Cthulhu By Gaslight game going on with Dad, Carl, Tory, Ollie, and Johnny. This is partially because I died, and partially because I decided to stop playing.

I admit it: it was my own fault I died. I could have tried to get away instead of trying to fight, and I could have used my luck to save myself in the final attack on me. I chose not to, because, in the interests of being realistic, and staying in character, I didn't think it was the right thing to do. We were in a confined space, where getting away would have been difficult, and meant attempting to pass either the guys we were fighting, or members of my own party in a cramped space. Plus, my character was of the type who wasn't generally quick to throw the first punch, but wasn't about to stop until the other guy wasn't getting up, or he died in the attempt of stopping him from doing so. Not to mention, a bullet fired at point blank range is rarely going to miss. So, during one of our July sessions, I let Joseph die, and didn't bother to make a new character. I have an open invitation to return at any point in the future, if I want to, though I won't be doing so any time soon. Nothing against the group, nor the gaming system. It was entirely my choice. I'd already been considering stopping when either the adventure ended, or my character was no longer playable (either because he died, or because he went insane). I'm going to have to find out from Carl what the monster they're going to be transporting in the giant wheeled fish tank type thingy is though, because I'm curious about it.

In the meantime, the Tuesday Pathfinder game continues.

After we defeated the evil leader of the kobolds, and his loyal followers, we encouraged Sesserak the Kobold ranger to go with her family and friends when they left the area. She didn't betray us, so we let her go in peace. Although, the deal is we won't kill her and her remaining family and friends, as long as they stay away from whatever town it is we're currently working in and around, and don't show up causing trouble anywhere else we hear about. So, she's no longer in our party. I'm sure the gnomes my brother, Carl, is playing are pleased about that, since they never trusted her in the first place (not even when we saw evidence that seemed to suggest she was potentially trustworthy).

So, we're back to our original party. Well, with the addition of Rue the Little Owl, who is my ranger's animal companion. We're also gathering treasure and experience points nicely. Nobody in the party has died yet, though a couple have come close to doing so a few times. But, hey, that's normal. Plus, we met a fire drake (a sort of wyvern; only a short step down from a dragon, really) and the fact we survived that when we're only level four characters is impressive. I wonder if we'll be as lucky with the actual dragon...?

Friday, August 19, 2016

#Furkid Friday: Of #Rodent Water Bottles (FD)

Um... Hi there, everyone.

This is Mollie the chinchilla.

So, as many of you probably know, we rodent types just love to chew on things. It's fun, plus it helps to keep our teeth from getting too long (most of the time). The thing is though, we don't care if we're chewing on nibbles, chewing on toys we're allowed to chew on, or chewing on things we shouldn't.

As you probably also know, most rodent water bottles are plastic, despite the fact that the angle they have to be at means we can reach at least a piece of them through the bars of our cages most of the time. Other than one time when a gerbil ate the piece that atatched the bottle to the cage, the human caretakers have never found this to be a problem though.

Until now!

Me and Maizie decided it would be fun to chew a hole in our plastic water bottle.

Of course, then we got cross because we had no water. Well, how were we meant to know that a hole in the top of the bottle would let air in to it, and the pressure would force the drinking spout to allow the water to flow out of the bottle?

Anyway, we did this late in the day, so the human caretakers couldn't get to the petstore place before it closed that day. They can't just give us a bowl of water, because the way we - Maizie especially - bounce about, it would just end up everywhere. So, they were desperate, especially since it was a really warm night, and we chinchillas don't cope with heat too well, so need to stay hydrated and cool.

Now, our degu brothers and ratty sisters both have two water bottles. The degus have two because there are so many of them (they have two food bowls too). The rats, on the other hand, only have two because they sometimes don't like to share their water bottle with each other. So, the human caretakers did the only thing they could think of: took away one of the rat water bottles, washed it well, and gave it to us, with plans to fetch a replacement for Star and Skye in the morning.

Maizie and I had other plans, however, and chewed that water bottle during the night too.

So, the human caretakers got us a new one, which is entirely made from metal and glass.

That's cheating! How are we meant to chew that? Well, if there's a way, we'll find it...

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - August 17th 2016

What is voice - and how do I get it? If you find yourself asking that question, check out the post I just linked to.

Do you need some inspiration to help you describe things in your story? You do? Then take a look at these ways to describe furnishings, and ways to describe eating and drinking.

Also,here are five techniques to edit a novel... Just in case you could use some tips on where to start with editing. While you're editing is a good time to watch out for the curse of the mid-novel dull filler chapter.

Finally... Do you self-publish? If so, here's some recent self-publishing news you can use.

Monday, August 15, 2016

#Author: Thomai Dion

My name is Thomai Dion and I am a pharmacist, artist, author, and most importantly, a mom. My little guy is an energetic and inquisitive analytical thinker bubbling over with questions around the clock. He is also the driving force behind my educational children’s science books that are geared towards our youngest readers. I actually recall the exact moment the idea for my books all started (and being a relatively new author, it admittedly wasn’t all that long ago!).

I was playfully pretending with my toddler on our living room floor, surrounded by colorful wooden blocks and various makes and models of miniature cars. I am always thinking ahead about what topics we could explore next so naturally I began brainstorming. Thinking back on my own experiences in labs testing and recording while obtaining my doctorate, I had my "Ah ha!" moment: I would research where to find a microscope appropriate for my child's age. Before pursuing a new subject of learning though, I have a rule of thumb where we always read and talk about the topic first before diving any deeper together. Since you can use a microscope to look at things like the cells in your body, I began to look for books on cells that were geared for young children. And I looked. And looked… After much time and many product pages, the only applicable search result I was able to come across was the decision to create my own. It was then that my first book, "Think-A-Lot-Tots: The Animal Cell", was written, illustrated, edited, and self-published by the artistic, science-loving, right-brain and left-brain mom (AKA, me!). I now have 2 books out there for all to explore with 2 more coming down the pipeline. I am very excited about these as they should become available within the next several weeks!

For a full list of available books and customer discussions, check out my Amazon author page:

You can also find my work on GoodReads and LinkedIn.

Inspired by being a mother, leveraging my clinical background, and being driven to both teach and learn at every opportunity, I have created my own educational children's science books that focus on various topics, the first of which I have engagingly tackled being biology. These books cover seemingly complicated scientific concepts that are typically thought of as being taught to "older kids" in school; however, they are purposefully geared towards babies, toddlers, and young children. I am both author and illustrator (and editor too if we want to count that as well!), and take great pride in my work.

With every title, I aim to make these as engaging as educational as possible!

My first book, “Think-A-Lot-Tots: The Animal Cell”, strives to introduce your baby, toddler, or young child to science and biology by starting with one of life's smallest building blocks: The animal cell. Curious kids, budding scientists, and future doctors, nurses, and medical professionals will be sure to enjoy all of the cell's different parts as they explore them one by one. This colorful and educational picture book will help build your child's vocabulary and kickstart early learning.

You can find this book and a preview of its pages on Amazon here (and if you do decide to check out my book, any and all feedback is hugely appreciated! It is important for me to know what my readers think and if they are enjoying my books. A review would be so helpful to receive, even if only a few words!):

My fast-following second book, “Think-A-Lot-Tots: The Neuron”, not only introduces the reader to a cell found in your body but also goes a step further by answering “What does it do and how?”. How does our body move? How do we smile, wave hello, or stomp in puddles? It is all thanks to the brain's special helper: The neuron. Dive into this picture book with your baby, toddler, or young child and discover the answers to their science and biology questions about moving and how we do it. This colorful and educational read will help build your child's vocabulary and kickstart early learning.

You can find this book and a preview of its pages on Amazon here (and similarly, any and all feedback is hugely helpful and so appreciated!):

As I say with all of my books, there is no concept too abstract or advanced for tots that think a lot!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Shattered Mirror: A Poetry Collection By #Author A. L. Butcher

Shattered Mirror - A Poetry Collection
By A. L. Butcher

A collection of short dark poems of war, politics, nature and the vagaries of life.

Grab your copy today from Smashwords, Amazon US, Amazon UK, and other Amazon stores.

Friday, August 12, 2016

#Furkid Friday: Update On Jacob The #Degu (FD)

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

This is Jenks the degu, here to give you an update on my brother, Jacob, because he's still a little sulky about having to take nasty tasting medicine, not to mention having to be put in a box by himself on two seporate occasions, just to be poked about by some guy the human caretakers say is called a "vet" and supposed to make sick animals feel better.

Jacob told the human caretakers he was feeling better and didn't need to go back to see the vet person. But they didn't listen. Instead, they stuck him back in that box - all by himself, I might add - and took him back there.

The moment the box was opened and Jacob saw the vet guy, he started yelling that he was, "All better now," and telling him that he no longer needed any medicine, and wanted to go home. He says he squealed it as loudly as he could. But, just like our human caretakers, the vet guy didn't listen, and started poking Jacob about to check him all over again, despite his loud protests.

Seriously! What is it with you humans and refusing to listen?

Anyway, as Jacob had been trying to tell the humans, his mouth wound was all healed up, he'd gained a gram where he was back to eating normally again, and his fur is starting to grow back.

See... If they'd listened to him, they could have saved the vet trip. Stupid humans!

So, anyway, Jacob now weighs 215 grams (which, for those of you who deal in pounds and ounces, is a little over eight and a half ounces) and he doesn't need to go back to the vet any time soon. Although, Jacob says he did hear something about how the human caretakers will have to get something called "antiseptic wash" from the vet guy if his fur doesn't continue to grow back, so he's really hoping it does, because he doesn't like the sound of that.

As I said, Jacob is now eating normally again. He's stopped looking for the softer food items among our nibbles, and started enjoying things like dry pasta and chinchilla cookies again. So, that's good.

As I also said, the humans could have avoided the return trip to the vet if they'd only listened to Jacob. I mean, he even grabbed hold of the Mummy human's finger and put enough pressure behind his grip to tell her that he could really hurt her if he wanted to, without actually doing anything to hurt her. He did this a couple of times, but she didn't take the hint. I told him he should have bitten her, and then maybe they'd have believed him that his mouth was all better, and listened to him when he said he didn't need any more nasty tasting medicine, or another vet trip. But Jacob's not a biter, and was shocked I'd even suggest it. More fool him, I say. Had it been me, I'd have made sure it hurt. Maybe then the humans would have gotten the message. Sometimes I think Jacob is too nice to these humans for his own good. I know they feed us, provide us with toys, clean our cage, etc. But still... How else are we supposed to make them listen?

Squeak soon,

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Power Of #Chinchilla Cuddles

Mollie and Maizie are affectionate chinchillas. Maizie especially, since Mollie tends to be a bit shy and reserved a lot of the time. They almost always come bounding up to the door of their cage to greet me just on hearing me enter the living room (where all the rodent gang’s cages are). They also like to be petted and played with, and will often climb in to my arms for a cuddle (not usually a long one, but still). I was very glad of that this morning.

Today (August 11th 2016) marks two years since I lost my Kero dog. I still miss him terribly. Between the anniversary of his death, and the sad news I got from someone I consider to be a very good friend on Tuesday (which I won't share, because it's not my news to tell) I was feeling really low when I woke up from my nap in the early hours of this morning.

But then I went in to the living room.

As usual, Mollie and Maizie bounced over to greet me at their cage door the moment I walked in to the room, so I opened their cage door to give them some attention; I do that most times, to encourage them to continue with their eager greeting.

Maizie immediately climbed up on to my shoulder, where she stayed for several minutes, cuddling up to my neck while “grooming” my hair. Meanwhile, Mollie was climbing all over my other arm. They even stayed there when they realized Kelly was watching, which is the unusual part... They normally dash back in the cage when they realize they have an audience (hence the lack of photos of me cuddling them). They stayed put even when he spoke.

I think they knew I needed some critter cuddles today.

Cuddles from them don't make everything better; chinchilla cuddles can't take away the pain of losing the dog I loved - and still love - so much. But they sure helped.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - August 10th 2016

I've done some exercises as part of the 2016 KidLit Summer School that may potentially become stories (or appear in stories) in the future... Possibly. I've also written a couple of new poems, and done some work on a few stories I'm working on. But I haven't really been able to settle in to one project fully, so there's not much to report when it comes to my writing at the moment. Good thing I have "Jeffrey The Orange Alien" and "Eadweard - A Story Of 1066" scheduled for release in late August and mid October respectively, so you have something to look forward to while I mess about, and continue to flit between projects.

How about you? If you're a writer, how's your writing going? Have you been gathering story seeds? Is it going well? Or does your story need a heart transplant?

Regardless of how your current work in progress is going... Have you been considering starting up an author newsletter, but aren't sure where to start? This post on the how and why of author newsletters is a great starting point, I think. I've thought about starting an author newsletter, but it's never gotten further than a passing thought with me.

Newsletter or not, do you want some writing tips? If so, check out these six tips from a master linguist on how to be a better writer.

What kind of writing do you do? If you write dystopian stories of any kind, you might want to check out these tips for perfecting your dystopian world in five easy steps. Alternatively, if it's fantasy you write, you may want to check out this post on creating a sense of wonder in fantasy.

How about age range? Do you write for children? If yes, do you want to market your books to schools and classroom libraries? If yes, then read this post on selling to the educational market.

Regardless of the genre, or age range, you write for, if you're the kind of person who worries about whether your book is the right length, you should check out this post on how to know if your book is the right length.

Most important of all though... Don't let those rotten reviews and terrible trolls get you down!

Monday, August 08, 2016

#Photo Of July 2016's #FullMoon Plus #Stargazing Tools And Tips

The above photo of the moon over the ocean was taken from our window on July 19th 2016.

Taking photos of moons when you can't see where they are isn't easy. But, when I realized there was a full moon on a clear night, I just had to try and get a photo. Then, of course, once I finally managed to get the moon in the photo, I had to share it. So... Here it is. Enjoy!


Deanna posted last week about stargazing. It's one of the things I miss most.

How about you? Do you enjoy stargazing? Or, do you want to do some stargazing, but aren't sure where to start? Here are some stargazing basics: tools, equipment, and advice.

Also, here are EarthSky's top ten tips for super stargazers and 13 tips for stargazing from astronomers.

Plus, I'm told the Star Walk phone app is a really good one, if you want to have an app for your phone or tablet to help you identify what you're looking at.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

#Ocean #Photos From July 2016

These were taken looking out of the computer room window on July 19th 2016. As you can see, it was a beautiful day, weather wise.


Saturday, August 06, 2016

Dark Ages Royal Palace Discovered In Cornwall – In Area Closely Linked To The Legend Of King Arthur

Reblogged from The Story Reading Ape, as reblogged from TheBreakAway:

David Keys
August 5, 2016

The mysterious origins of the British archaeological site most often associated with the legend of King Arthur have just become even more mysterious.

Archaeologists have discovered the impressive remains of a probable Dark Age royal palace at Tintagel in Cornwall. It is likely that the one-metre thick
walls being unearthed are those of the main residence of the 6th century rulers of an ancient south-west British kingdom, known as Dumnonia.

Scholars have long argued about whether King Arthur actually existed or whether he was in reality a legendary character formed through the conflation of
a series of separate historical and mythological figures.

But the discovery by English Heritage-funded archaeologists of a probable Dark Age palace at Tintagel will certainly trigger debate in Arthurian studies
circles – because, in medieval tradition, Arthur was said to have been conceived at Tintagel as a result of an illicit union…

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Friday, August 05, 2016

#Furkid Friday: The #Chinchilla And The Pea (FD)

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

This is Maizie the chinchilla.

As you may already know, the weather's been all over the place over the last couple of months, but several days have been quite hot here. So, in an effort to help us keep cool on some of the hotter days, the human caretakers decided to hand out frozen peas to us rodents. They've done the same thing for the last couple of Summers, apparently. But for us chinchillas, the first time they did it this year was a whole new experience.

The human caretakers regularly hand out nibbles, so we're in the habit of taking whatever they offer. Even my chinchilla sister, Mollie, usually takes what the humans are offering now (except on her bad days). So, when the Mummy human was holding something out to me, I grabbed it without hesitation.

Imagine my surprise when the thing I grabbed was really cold, instead of the room temperature nibbles we're used to.

I jerked back in shock, as I'm sure you can understand. But the Mummy human continued to hold it out, so I went back to try again.

I was more cautious this second time, and gave it a tentative lick, then an experimental nibble. After that, I decided I liked this new nibble, and took it off to find a quiet corner of my cage to enjoy it in peace.

Mollie was much more cautious than me. This is partially because she is in general, but partially from watching my reaction too, I think. But she eventually decided she liked the frozen pea as well.

Plus, the cold nibbles helped us to keep cool, which is a good thing... Especially with all our thick fur!

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

#Writing Wednesday - August 3rd 2016

Whether you're new to writing, or have been doing it for ages, here are the things most people wish they knew when they were writing virgins; just some words of wisdom on the most important things to remember when you're a writer.

Need a little help when it comes to figuring out the genre of your story? Then take a look at these fiction genre definitions.

Regardless of your genre, check out this link if you're writing with colour, so you can avoid offending your readers by getting the facts right. I haven't included any people of colour in my books as yet - partially because most of my characters have been animals - but, when I do, I'll be sure to avoid using food to describe darker skin.

Anyway... When it comes to writing in general... Are you one of those people who struggles to get those visual details in? Then take a look at these seven ways to write bisually (without describing everything), and this post on brushing up on "Show, don't tell".

Want to inject some humour in to your writing? These 3 tips for writing humour will help you out. You may want to check out some of the other posts from that blog too, since they're currently in the fourth week of this year's Summer school - which I've been doing, as you may remember me mentioning a couple of weeks ago, around when it started - and this year's topic was heart and humour.

Oh, and, don't forget... It's possible to have allergies, asthma, and ailments in a book... Even a fantasy one. In fact, having these things may be another way to help your readers connect with your character, since plenty of real people have issues like these. I mean, I myself have asthma, though it's not as bad as many people have, nor even as bad as it was when I was younger (these days they call it "bronchial asthma" and it's generally under control even without an inhaler, unless I have a chest infection, but I used to need an inhaler several times a day, every day). On a similar theme, here's a writer's guide to serious injuries and colamities, for those who want to write a scene where your character comes close to dying, but pulls through at the last moment.

Alternatively, if you're in a slump, and not feeling motivated, you may want to try these five tips for when you're in a slump or unmotivated. They're officially aimed at bloggers, but could just as easily have been written for writers of any kind.


What is Plagiarism? If you're not sure, read the post I just linked to. The post also contains some useful links you can use if you want to make absolutely certain you aren't guilty of it, so you may want to check it out even if you do know what plagiarism is.


Want to show your support for, and potentially help out, any author, artist, or musician, friends or family members you might have? It's quite simple, actually! All you have to do is read these five tips for helping out an author... Or any artist really, and then follow the advice. Obviously, if it's for an artist or musician, rather than an author, you would substitute the word "book" for whatever other creation the person has made, be it a painting an arty person you know has done, a CD or song download by a musician you're friends with or related to, or whatever. Here are more ways to show appreciation for an author. You can also do these things if you don't really know the person, but happen to like their work. Thank you to anyone who has done any of these things for me, or who does so in the near future.

Writing reviews is one thing mentioned in those above posts, and it's something that especially helps an author... Even more so with self-published/indie authors. So, did you read a book recently that you enjoyed? Why not take a few moments to write a review for it? If you're not sure where to start, you can read these four quick ways to write a book review. Now, the post spacifically mentions writing reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, but authors appreciate reviews left anywhere. For example, if you brought a book from Smashwords or Barnes & Noble, you could leave a review there too. The author will really appreciate it. In fact... A huge thank you to those who have taken the time to review books of mine at any point in the past, or who go and do so after reading this!

Oh, and... Authors and publishers... Here are the dos and don'ts of asking for reviews.

Monday, August 01, 2016

More From #HastingsPeer On #HastingsPirateDay 2016 (FD)

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Kelly and I went to the pirate activities on the peer especially to see it now it's open again. You can see our actual pirate themed photos in yesterday's post, if you haven't already checked those out. Anyway, the above photo was taken from on the peer, from the point where I'm standing in this next photo:

I was stood by the railing near the start of the peer, very close to where there's a cafe, which we ate our lunch at. Our lunch wasn't anything fancy, just an egg and mayo sandwich for me, and a ham and mustard one for Kelly, and a fizzy drink. Still, it was nice sitting on the peer, enjoying the breeze coming in from the ocean, while eating our lunch.

The rail I was stood at when the above photos were taken wasn't too far from where the outside tables and chairs for the cafe were set up. This was the view looking back towards the street from where we were sat:

After our lunch, we took a walk to the end of the peer, and got a shot of the view out to sea, looking towards France...

Then we turned around, and took a photo looking back down the peer towards the street, before heading back...

It was quite a warm day, as you may be able to tell from the photos. Or, maybe you can't? Well, it was, anyway. So, by the time we'd walked along the peer and back, I was in need of something to cool me down. Luckily, the ice-cream cart that I hear from my window most days was there, so I had a strawberry cheesecake ice-cream from him.

I was just eating my ice-cream when our friends Lorna and Andy, and Lorna's friends Kaye and Robyn, all arrived. As long as we're remembering them the right way around, this next photo is me with Lorna and Kaye (we know one is Lorna... We know her well enough... But sorry Kaye if we got you and Robyn mixed up).

As you can see, they were dressed a bit more appropriately for pirate day than Kelly and I were. Still, we weren't the only ones not dressed up, and it was so hot there was no way I'd have wanted to wear a costume even if I'd had one to wear.

Anyway, after I was done with my ice-cream, we headed back on to the peer for some more fun.

A lot of the peer is devoted to the fairground type stuff that you get on most peers, including a Punch and Judy show, and a few games and rides. But the thing that really captured our attention was something all of us - well, all of us women anyway - were eager to go on. The carousel!

Lorna had seen that it was there the week before, and asked the guy running it if it was OK for us all to ride on it, what with us being adults, and me being of the larger persuasion. He said he saw no reason why not, so we arranged to meet up so we could ride together before Kaye and Robyn had to go home.

The guy was fantastic, and made sure to stop the carousel with one of the horses perfectly positioned to make it as easy as possible for me to get on it. Even so, since my leg was aching from all the walking, I wasn't entirely certain if I'd be able to get up on it. However, I REALLY wanted to ride on a horse rather than the sleigh (which would have been easier for me to climb on, but not quite as cool) so I was determined I was going to get on a horse. It hurt to do it, but I got up there...

Then Lorna got on a horse beside me, Kaye and Robyn got on horses in front of us, and we were off...

The guy running it made sure to stop the carousel with my horse in a good position for me to get off it. Even so, he had to help me get back off the horse, and my leg hurt so much I pretty much had to crawl up the last few stairs when I got home. But it was so totally worth it for a carousel ride!

It was a great day, though I was hot and exhausted afterwards. Not to mention, I ended up with a sunburned nose (which is still not completely healed). I also caught the sun a bit more than was comfortable on my cane arm. The other one was OK, because it was shielded by first Kelly and then Lorna while they were guiding me. But my cane arm had no human shield to protect it from the worst of the sun's rays. Still totally worth it for the carousel ride if nothing else though, so I'm not complaining in the least.