Thursday, 2 July 2009


Painting by Georges Moquay

Have you heard of AudioBoo, the audio blogging app for the iPhone? Well, I found this a toy too great to resist. And if you go here, you can listen to “My First Boring Boo ;)”. I may live to regret this. It was written and recorded on a whim with zero pre-meditation. Which is sometimes how I like things. Grab that little idea by the scruff of the neck, twirl it around, and... whatever comes next! :)

ETA: Boo removed from the shelf on 21.9.09. Its sell-by date expired. ;)

Sunday, 24 May 2009

A Postcard from Hiati

The weather is lovely!

I have been quiet a little longer than planned. But the experiment has proven that, in the case of this novice novelist, less time online results in an increased production of fiction.

In other words, the writing is going really, really well. At the moment, I’m busy with further ‘tweaks’ of the novel I now realise will never be ‘finished’ until it is a) published, or b) shelved.

I’m not quite sure when I will return to more regular blogging, but I’ve just signed up to Twitter! And because any funny, cool, cute, or even vaguely acceptable plays on Mary are already taken ... I am using my real, full name. (I feel so brave!)

In reading news:

A novel I had been meaning to read for ages but only recently got round to is A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. It completely blew me away! It is the story of a ghost who falls in love, possessing a living body in order to be with her lover. It is unique, and beautifully written.

Continuing the spectral theme...

I am just over halfway through Katie Alender’s debut novel, Bad Girls Don’t Die. It is a gripping YA thriller, and yes, I did have to sleep with the light on after one particularly creepy moment. Katie has a gift for characterisation, and the protagonist’s scary little sister is especially well drawn.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Until the next time...

What first appeared as blog block has turned out to be something else. I suspected only a virus in my brain’s blogging mechanism and expected it soon to pass. But for the past week a debate has raged between my brain’s blogging nodes and the newly awakened single-minded centre. I’m not sure if I always had this, lying dormant, or whether it is recently grown.

Anyway, the single-minded centre has beaten the blogging nodes into submission. They did not go down without a fight, counter-attacking the single-minded centre; alas to no avail.

I have been pushed into a fully-focused-on-fiction phase. Which means I am taking a hiatus. I won’t stop reading the blogs I follow, and several more besides, but probably won’t post again for some time.

Unless something amazing happens, of course, or the blogging nodes acquire fabulous new weapons, fight back and win. :)

Monday, 16 February 2009

Blog Block

Tara Donovan, “Untitled” (Styrofoam Cups, Hot Glue) 

The title tells all. But for those two words to be a real title, a post must be written in this space. Therefore, I elaborate: I am stuck.

I know that simply isn’t good enough. However, as this post is a struggle, I am resisting the urge to delete any words; including “I am stuck”.

Having placed “I am stuck” within quotes makes me happy to have chosen those words. They express exactly how I feel.

Blog post ideas usually pop into my mind quite readily. I then write something, find an amusing or interesting picture, and... hey presto! But, since early last week, my mind seems to have chosen to spend time elsewhere. Where exactly that is, though, I'm not quite certain.

I promise next time to write a proper post. Perhaps once my mind returns from its adventure (or relaxing vacation?)... ;)

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Black Dog

In this amazing animation, “The Black Dog’s Progress” by small time inc., a series of flipbooks tell the sad story of the Black Dog. I adore this, and have watched it over and over again!

Ironically, now I have more or less recovered from cold number two, which I worked through, I feel like acting like an ill person. I want to curl up and read. When I should be ploughing forward with the novel I retired temporarily from submitting/querying and am re-writing. I had hoped to finish this re-write by early January, but not until I started did I realise how different it was to become.

I’m very pleased with the changes and excited by the story. I’m into the third and final act, and all that really remains is to bring the plot to its conclusion. Which includes lots of action. (I love action!) At this stage, I feel I should be romping through the final chapters. Yet I have slowed down. Enormously. I don’t want to, and I’m not sure why...

How contrary!

A day off might be in order.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Another Week, Another Cold...

The common cold may not be the most interesting subject for a blog post. But. I am suffering my second cold in less than two weeks. What livens up this misery is that the second cold is quite different than cold number one. This time it’s all about sneezing, irritable eyes, and a very runny nose. To keep things exciting, I road-tested an alternative remedy.

Kaloba, used by Zulus for centuries, has been known to keep people cold free -- forever! I was advised to take the brown liquid three times a day, in conjunction with vitamin C.

Well, I’ve done that for four days ... and still have a cold! Perhaps my idea of “the first sign of a cold”, at which one should immediately hit the Kaloba, is a little off kilter. In which case, I have only myself to blame. Or perhaps, nothing works. And though we live in denial and open our wallets, there really is no cure for the common cold.

And speaking of cold: We had six inches of snow yesterday. To reflect the weather, this blog is re-coloured ... almost a whiteout!

Friday, 30 January 2009

Leprechauns and Varnish

This week has completely run away with me! As though a troupe of leprechauns arrived with little rucksacks and sleeping bags, having decided to camp out on my floor. Such disruption! I have tripped over them in the dark, found their laundry heaped in the dishwasher, a bottle of Extra Old Cognac ... drained (yes, the little people do enjoy a drink), and two litres of pineapple juice have simply disappeared. (Did they mix that with the cognac? Yuck.) And I can’t even speak of the mess in the bathroom.

The leprechauns eventually moved on to pastures new, just before I took delivery of 3 hand-carved screens, which came all the way from India. How exciting! I immediately unpacked the grubby boxes on the boring beige carpet in my living room. I knew my attitude was cavalier. But dust can be vacuumed up.

Not until all 3 screens were out of their packaging and arranged with abandon around the room, did I notice that my hands were not grey with harmless dust, but dark brown and sticky with ... VARNISH. The screens had been packed before they had dried!

And the marks on the carpet could not be sucked up with the vacuum, although I tried and tried. The carpet is stained with VARNISH.

Could I have been more stupid? The answer, of course, is NO. :-/

Monday, 26 January 2009

I So Don’t Do Mysteries

Happy Lunar New Year! We are now in the Year of the Ox, and I sense a stabilising influence already.

I have not researched the significance of the Year of the Ox; the influence of which I speak is only my interpretation of information received from the telepathic highways.

A down to earth fact, however, is that Barrie Summy’s debut novel, I So Don’t Do Mysteries, is a totally fantastic read.

From the flap:

So here I am spending spring break in California with my best friend, Junie. Our chaperone is a teenager, like us. And soon I’ll get to hang out with the coolest, cutest boy in the Southwest. Life is so good.

Except I should tell you that I’m not in San Diego for fun. Even though I’m a normal person who likes normal stuff—friends, clothes, the mall—I’m supposed to be solving a mystery, one that involves a rhino heist and a crazy chief. And I have to do it because my supercop mom is counting on me. Did I mention she’s a ghost? A ghost who can make contact with only one person. Me, Sherry Holmes Baldwin. My mom is flunking out of the Academy of Spirits, and if I don’t help her, she’ll be banished to an afterlife for ghost failures.

But . . . I so don’t do mysteries.

Barrie has an energetic and catchy voice. It is infectious. And that, together with well-drawn characters, a fabulous plot, and truly great pace, kept me turning and turning the pages. Which meant I stayed awake far too late, too often!

After 30 pages, I wanted to be Sherry’s best friend. (I still do.) And here comes more praise ... I laughed out loud so many times!! This is one of the wittiest middle grade novels I've read.

I So Don’t Mysteries is fun, warm, and uplifting.

It might even have cured my cold. :)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

As Seen from Space

Though I wasn’t in Washington yesterday, shivering in the open air -- and just as I was coming to terms with how ridiculously healthy I must be, seemingly immune to the bugs and flu that, in recent weeks, have plagued almost everyone I know -- I’ve caught a nasty, stinking cold.

As a result, I’ve spent too much time today clicking through vast swathes of coverage of the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States. And I confirm that, like almost everyone on the planet, I love the Obama family. I particularly love that Michelle, Malia, and Sasha dressed in such wonderful colours. Individually, each looked great, and collectively it was a confident, contemporary palette that spoke for who they are.

But it’s always a good idea to switch the lens and view events from a different angle -- especially events of great historic significance.

Click on the photo for a bigger and better view.

Putting a sci-fi spin on the proceedings, this photograph shows how the inauguration, and the 2 million who came to hear Barack Obama speak, looked to those in space. More like swarms of bees than people.

And it left me wondering: If we are not living in a giant cosmic hologram, deep inside a black hole, then most aliens, who may have an entirely different concept to ours of scale, size, and shape, might think us an utterly insignificant race; miniature Lilliputian people of no consequence whatsoever.

Most probably, that is why they have neither landed on Earth nor taken the time to contact us. The first move will have to be made by us tiny, ant-like humans. And not until we develop an advanced global space programme, and venture into galaxies unknown, will we ever find the answer to the age-old question: Are we alone? ;)

Friday, 16 January 2009

Like fizzy water gone flat...

Was exactly how I felt earlier this week, when I began to get very uncomfortable with the new sense of warm, fuzzy calm that had engulfed me since the start of the year.

At first I enjoyed it. It was new and strange and nice. And I almost convinced myself that it was good, that I had turned some kind of corner and this was how life would be from now on. Perhaps I had matured. (Oh, no!) Or perhaps I had reached a stage of enlightenment.

By this Wednesday, however, I was decidedly bored with this plateau. I missed the old feeling of low-level panic, the stress -- the edge. Then, luckily, the exhaustion of working 7 days a week (counting writing on top of my usual job, which has been a bit slow this month, I admit) took hold. On top of that, I made a small series of faux pas.

The warm, fuzzy calm caused me to act on a few occasions without thinking enough, or properly. I made a few comments during conversations, and probably left a couple of comments on blogs, that I regretted and if possible would have liked to retract.

None of these mistakes were too big or too bad, but that does not erase them. I began to wonder: Does a lack of anxiety make us less considerate, and also less self-aware?

And, yes, I think there is danger in being too pleased with one’s lot.

Without the edge, without some anxiety, I also found my creativity and productivity suffered. Like most things, or so I’m told, it’s all about balance. To be too stressed is counter-productive to work and health, but to be too relaxed is not great either.

So I’m happy to feel under pressure again, to be a little bit anxious, and experiencing some self-doubt. :)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The Graveyard Book

At the weekend, I finished reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I spent ages with this book!

When that happens, when I seem to be in the process of reading a book forever and ever... it is because it is good, good, good!!! I am enjoying the world, the characters, the story, and the writing so much that I want to stay there as long as possible. (And I do have a penchant for restricted locations -- a graveyard is perfect -- as well as a penchant for ghosts.)

Such a book feeds me with something that is greater than the sum of its parts; it makes a difference, enriches me -- leaves its mark. And, as a novice novelist, by taking time with a book, as well as being entertained, I am learning.

The Graveyard Book has made a difference to my own writing in the last few weeks. There was a great sense of both joy and calm in the way Neil Gaiman told this story, and I learned the value of sometimes slowing things down.

Now, of course, I am addicted to his blog.

A fabulous start to the reading year!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Personality and Font

I saw this fabulous quiz on Janet Reid’s blog, and of course gave in to temptation.

Despite answering one question with: "I would ride the rollercoaster until I feel very unwell" (paraphrased), my result, nonetheless...

You are Times New Roman

Some call you timeless—others call you a snob. Either way, you’re a class act all around. Just don’t take yourself too seriously.

An interesting result! ;)

What Font Are You?