When I started blogging, what seems like two-hundred years ago, my intentions were to keep it about my writing. Not let anything else slip in under the radar.

It didn’t last long.

It’s difficult not to share posts about events as you meander through life. Whether it be a rant about something that’s irked you or sharing of news, good …

… or bad.

IMG_0114

I’ve posted a number of times about our much-loved cat, Munchkin. Or, Munch to you and me. The post that Mr Google sends most readers my way is My Cat Keeps Bumping Into Things. A post about his high blood pressure, retina-popping condition, which thankfully was brought under control with medication.

Anyway, a few weeks ago Munchie’s breathing became laboured. We cat-napped him and took him to see his favourite vet. After a listen to his chest and heart and a diuretic injection, he stabilised with the help of another TWO TABLETS a day and some potassium powder to mix into his food. That added to the three other tablets and twice-daily insulin injections!

At the end of February, his breathing worsened again. Another trip to the vets where they drained fluid from around his lungs. The vets hoped that would help his breathing, but the diuretics had obviously stopped working. Munch stopped eating and drinking despite not having his insulin, which should have made him thirsty and eat like a how-many-hotdogs-can-you-eat-in-sixty-seconds contestant.

One final visit to the vets where Munch started his final nap.

Who knew that a bundle of fluff we first saw eating dried bread in a neighbour’s garden would dominate our lives for so long? He survived many years after having a cancerous lump removed from his tail. As a stray he would have died a few years back without treatment.

We did our best for him and he repaid us with his effortless glamour and barely audible squeaking. We loved him despite his habit of climbing into the litter tray and then peeing over the edge onto the floor! Or moving off the easily cleaned laminate/wood floor and onto a carpeted area when he tried to cough-up a fur-ball.

The house is quiet without him, but I’m thankful that we have many photographs and videos of him to remember his ways.

We’ll have a prolonged break from being pet slaves now. The last year or so has been dominated by the furry little fella and we need a break. Maybe one day.

Thanks for reading.

Our cat Munch


IMG_0861Do you or don’t you?

Over here in UK’land there are a couple of magazines aimed specifically at writers. I subscribe to Writers’ Forum and have been known to buy the other one imaginatively called Writing Magazine. (Give the marketing person a bonus for coming up with that title!) I think they are the main two writing magazines in the UK.

This morning, I’ve settled down to read a copy. Nothing special I hear you say. The magazine dropped through my door about five months ago. FIVE MONTHS AGO!

I’m questioning why I buy the magazine when I don’t wait to devour the content the second it hits my doormat like the six-year-old me would have done with his Christmas presents.

Let me start by saying it isn’t the magazine. I think it has good content. Sometimes the same writers are contributing each month, but as I’ve never pitched them anything I can’t really complain about that.

Their articles have given me lots of inspiration, ideas, posed questions I had never thought of before and all these things are making me a better writer. I think so at least.

So, why do I not rip open the plastic wrapping and read it from cover to cover? Why do I leave it unopened for a couple of weeks before I finally open it and thrust it into the magazine rack with the previous four issues I haven’t read yet?

Probably because I’m lazy!

Or, maybe because I’m in the editing phase of my writing. I know what I need to do and don’t need/want distracting. I’m going to have a readathon of the magazines and see if anything takes my fancy.

I will question whether to bother renewing when they next want some cash from me.

Do you read any Writing Magazines? Do you pitch ideas to any of them?

Thanks for reading. This blog and/or your writing magazine.


A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775c

I took part in the 2013 A to Z Challenge and whilst I’m NOT participating this time around I thought I’d remind you of this blogging extravaganza in case you were interested.

I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s competition, but I know that I don’t have the time to edit my book and take part again this year. I would need to have started planning my posts about six months ago to do that. :)

If you’ve never heard of this challenge then let me give you its brief:

For 26 days in April you post about a letter of the alphabet. The first post will be about the letter and the second post will be about letter B and so on. You do know your A, B Cs don’t you?

You can have a theme or not have a theme. The choice is yours. My A post was about Adverbs and the most viewed post was Understanding Trace Evidence. My overall theme was Crime Writing so a mixture of posts about writing and a blood splattering of forensics inspired posts amongst other things.

If you’re ever stuck for something to read you could check out my 2013 A to Z posts. I even created a page to keep them all neat and tidy. Shameless plugging. :)

I had a blast and met loads of new people. From those who found me during the challenge to the blogs I sought out from the official list of competitors.

A more detailed explanation is found on the official blog. You need to officially sign-up and by doing this you will get many visitors checking out the participants. It all makes sense.

So, are you taking part this year?

Let me know and I will drop by during the challenge to give you my support.

Blog Blitz EditThat community spirit and support from the A to Z Challenge is abundant in the Blog Blitz as well. This is a support concept from DL Hammons. Imagine if a couple of hundred fellow bloggers descended on your blog one day!

There are currently 350+ members of the team. Every week or so, DL sends you an email with a couple of bloggers to visit. Doesn’t take much of your time and can really help the blogger being blitzed. Some have been to visit bloggers who are having a hard time or need a pick-me-up.

Each time we have a random blogger from the list and a blogger that has been recommended for a visit. It’s great fun and you get to meet some new bloggers.

We’re having a recruitment drive to try and get the members over 500. To check it out either click the Blog Blitz picture above or here.

Thanks for reading and have yourself a GREAT weekend :)


Pete Denton:

I don’t usually reblog anything, but for this post I’ll make an exception. Definitely a subject that needs support.

Originally posted on Working on Creative Chaos:

Before I begin, I want to say that if you or someone you know has been or is being sexually assaulted or abused, please call the confidential crisis line at 1800656HOPE. this is a national crisis number. The website for the program, RAINN can be found by clicking here.

* I will primarily be using the word survivor, as opposed to victim in reference to sexual trauma. There is a stigma with the word victim, and to me, the word Survivor has connotations of strength and empowerment that are much needed in regards to the situations I am discussing and fit, to my mind, more appropriately. It happens at any age. To any gender.*

In a recent article in the New York Times, Woody Allen’s adopted daughter said a great deal about her experiences with Woody Allen. Her letter appears to be sincere and heartfelt…as well as heart wrenching.

This…

View original 717 more words


“Well you’re never gonna get it!”

So say the Barenaked Ladies, the Canadian band famous for their catchy and clever lyrics. Definite song-tongue-twisters. A band perhaps more famous these days for their theme tune for The Big Bang Theory, but some great albums.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Anyway, this is not a post about them, or music. I came across an article on the BBC Website, which can be found here, all about the benefits of an extra hour’s sleep.

I didn’t realise that the great folk of GB’land average a measly six-and-a-half hours’ sleep a night. That is what the Sleep Council say at least. Who knew there was a Sleep Council?

I probably manage about seven hours a night so feel less like complaining about it now!

The article got me thinking. Sleep can be a driving force to our characters and how they journey through our stories. A chronic insomniac is likely to be cranky. From my many years as an insomniac hoping for a an hour or two a night, I know how lack of sleep made me the cranky mad-man from Sheffield. Character idea! :)

Add medication into the mix, your main protagonist could over-sleep, miss that important interview/appointment that changes their life story. Endless possibilities from a variety of sleep habits.

Extending your sleep pattern to more than six-and-a-half hours’ sleep is beneficial as we step back to the article:

… when the volunteers cut back from seven-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hours’ sleep a night, genes that are associated with processes like inflammation, immune response and response to stress became more active. The team also saw increases in the activity of genes associated with diabetes and risk of cancer. The reverse happened when the volunteers added an hour of sleep.

So the clear message from this experiment was that if you are getting less than seven hours’ sleep a night and can alter your sleep habits, even just a little bit, it could make you healthier. “Have a lie-in, it will do you good” – that’s the kind of health message that doesn’t come along very often.

Food for thought. Why don’t you sleep on it and see how you feel in the morning. ;)

IMG_0723

Munchie is sleeping on it. Photo was a selfie with me cropped out!

Thanks for reading.


Encouragement

27Jan14

They say that writing is a solitary craft.

Most of the time you’re working on your own unless you count the characters in your head. I’m not sure I want to go down the road of counting them as “helping” me write. Hinder more like!

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net This could be me, if I had hair, didn't wear glasses and was a few years younger!

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This could be me, if I had hair, didn’t wear glasses, lost some weight and was a few years younger!

There are some writing double acts. P.J. Tracey are a mother and daughter writing team who specialise in American Crime novels. I’ve read most of their books, and don’t notice that it’s written by two people. Their novels about the Monkeywrench team are an enjoyable series to read.

I guess they can encourage each other as they work. They are family after all, but what do you do if you don’t have a writing twin, parent or child?

You need encouragement.

There have been {many, many} times in the past when I’ve considered abandoning the dream. Wondered whether it’s all worth it.

Enter, the writing group.

SCW_members_badge

Last Saturday, the Steel City Writers met for the first time in 2014. It was good to catch up with my fellow comrades and we even welcomed a new member of the group. Another person with enthusiasm and passion about the stories she wants to tell.

I have mentioned my views on writing groups in previous posts, including one of my first posts Thinking of joining a writing group? Blogging has enabled me to *meet* many other writers who all offer encouragement and the benefit of their wisdom, trials and tribulations etc.

Sometimes you just want to sit down with like-minded folk in the knowledge that they are going through the same struggles and doubts. Books to recommend. Software to talk about. Collective encouragement helps keep me thinking about my work. Spurs me on to finish the damned thing!

It really is good to talk!

I still haven’t resumed my editing, but I feel I will soon. Their encouragement (or was it badgering?) certainly helped. :)

Who/what gives you the encouragement to keep slogging away at your computer to write your masterpiece?

Thanks for reading.


  • Odd Hours (Odd Thomas #4)Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 648 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (4 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • Sold by: Amazon UKAmazon US
  • Official Dean Koontz website

Overview

Odd Thomas lives always between two worlds.

He can see the lingering dead and knows that even in the chaos, there is order, purpose, and strange meaning that invites our understanding – but often thwarts it.

Intuition has brought Odd Thomas to the quaint town of Magic Beach on the California coast. As he waits to learn why he has been drawn here, he finds work as cook and assistant to a once-famous film actor who, at eighty, has become an eccentric with as long a list of fears as he has stories about Hollywood’s golden days.

Odd is having dreams of a red tide, vague but worrisome. By day he senses a free-floating fear in the air of the town, as if unleashed by the crashing waves. But nothing Prepares him for the hard truth of what he will discover as he comes face to face with a form of evil that will test him as never before…

My Rating: ★★★★ (4 out of 5)

My Review

This is the fourth book in the Odd Thomas series. I read this out of sequence as I read the Odd Interlude before this fourth full novel length instalment.

Don’t be a hero. Don’t make the same mistake. Odd Interlude FOLLOWS this book, Odd Hours. There. Customer service work is complete. :)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Odd Thomas is one of those characters. One of those narratives that just hits the right note for this reader. Within a few paragraphs, I’m back in familiar territory and comfort, ready to read the latest adventures of this paranormal short-order cook.

Sure, he can see things the rest of us can’t. He can also use a great turn of phrase to make you laugh in the face of adversity. The plot for this book is grand, but on a small stage. Another first person narrative bringing you into Odd’s world and it works around the storyline.

I just hope the problems that have plagued the film of the first book is sorted so I can see how this character pans out on the big screen.

This is a series I hope will run and run.

Says it all me thinks.


No. I didn’t bow to pressure from my wife and sign-up for the one-way journey to the red planet.

Just in case you were wondering.

If you have NO IDEA what I’m talking about then I’m used to that, but I posted about this project last January and the post is here for your reading pleasure.

Mars One is a project to send us humanoids on a one-way trip to Mars. This is not like being sent to the naughty corner. This is a life-changing opportunity and plenty of people have applied to have one of these as their supermarket trolley.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In fact, their mission statement reads as thus:

Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation that will establish permanent human life on Mars. Human settlement on Mars is possible today with existing technologies. Mars One’s mission plan integrates components that are well tested and readily available from industry leaders worldwide. The first footprint on Mars and lives of the crew thereon will captivate and inspire generations. It is this public interest that will help finance this human mission to Mars.

An unbelievable 202,586 people from more than 140 countries of this world applied to take the journey of new discovery. 24% of these were from America, 10% from India and Great Britain showing a healthy 4% of applications. Anything to avoid the X-Factor!

The plan is that by next year they will have six to ten teams of four volunteers to undertake the 7-year training to be ready to fly off to another world by 2023.

Wow!

At the end of December Mars One announced 1,058 people had been put through to the next phase.

I hope this works. I keep my fingers crossed until they HURT in the hope that this happens during my lifetime. I’m envious of the 1,058 people and the adventure they’re about to embark upon just to have the chance to be one of the teams.

My previous post asked Where is all the ALIEN footage? Well some of these people will get a chance to be an Alien landing on a foreign planet. I might EXPLODE with excitement.

I’ll keep you updated or you can visit the official website: http://www.mars-one.com/


One of the benefits of having your own blog is that you can help out your friends when their latest book is released.

Today sees the unveiling of THE NINE, the final book in The Mirrors of Bershan trilogy by J. Elizabeth Hill.

May I present:

THE NINE

The Mirrors of Bershan, Book 3

TheNine

Description

Civil unrest is being stirred by unseen hands in the Rianzire Empire. The Prince’s secret has been revealed; laws have been changed. Worse, a second Mirror of Bershan has gone missing. When the Emperor involves himself directly in this mystery, the results are disastrous.

After defeating the demon Aviatrez, Faylanna and Tavis return to Rianza, hoping their troubles are over. Faylanna is uneasy about the recently revealed truths of her childhood. Tavis is worried for his father, Crown Prince Keari. They find all is not well and nothing is as expected on their arrival.

Unable to ignore her problems performing magic any longer, Faylanna insists on leaving Rianza in search of a solution. Tavis’s inability to come with her is no deterrent, nor is the unborn child she carries. Faylanna leaves his side as Tavis is duty-bound to remain in the capital with his father. For the first time since meeting, they’re parted and neither expect the reaction of the magical bond they created between them.

Can Tavis fulfill his duties and survive unexpected challenges, even as he fights the constant demand from their bond to find her? Is there a solution for Faylanna to find and what will be the price if she finds one?

Available on:

Kindle             Smashwords              Kobo               Nook               Print

Haven’t tried the Mirrors of Bershan trilogy yet? Now’s the time to start. Bound, book 1, is on sale for a limited time! Just $0.99 for all electronic editions! Join Faylanna as she tries to escape her father’s hidden plans for her.

BOUND

The Mirrors of Bershan, Book 1

Bound Cover-Smaller

Description

“Doesn’t she know you can’t do real magic alone?”

Faylanna Derrion’s graduation from the Voleno Academy is marred by her father’s demand that she return to the family estate, Iondis. He refuses to accept her decision not to bind herself to another Magicia in an unbreakable partnership, insisting she must do so with his help. No one understands her need to prove she can succeed on her own.

Then her mentor and his partner are taken before her eyes by a terrible darkness, forcing her to flee, even as her father’s soldiers try to force her to go home. On her journey to find help, she meets Tavis, a farmer in search of his mother, who she can’t manage to refuse. The revelation that he’s a novice Magicia causes Faylanna to question everything she’s believed.

At the same time, a dream that’s haunted her since childhood begins to change and the unknown man in it calls to her. His words are sweet but she’s not quite willing to believe he’s anything more than a dream, until she can’t deny it.

As secrets are revealed and events unfold, will Faylanna hold to her solitary path or will she choose the one that now beckons her with new possibilities?

Available on:

Kindle             Smashwords              Kobo               Nook            Print

About the Author

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Julie Elizabeth Hill exported herself to Vancouver, British Columbia after many years of staring longingly at the map following every snowfall. For as long as she can remember, she’s been making up stories, but it wasn’t until high school that someone suggested writing them down. Since then, she’s been hopelessly in love with story crafting, often forgetting about everything else in the process. She is the author of The Mirrors of Bershan trilogy (Bound, Possession and The Nine).

Twitter: @jlizhill

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/16OrgYo

Blog: http://jelizabethhill.wordpress.com


This is a serious question.

I’m serious. Stop laughing at the back.

I saw some footage recently of some event going on in Trafalgar Square and NO-ONE was just watching. Everyone held their phone in the air recording the event. There could have been a few reasons for this:

  1. They wanted to review it later at home with their family and friends;
  2. It was going to be uploaded to YouTube in the hope of being the next video to go viral;
  3. Their arm hurt and their phone JUST HAPPENED to be in the arm requiring a stretch.

We go EVERYWHERE with our phones these days. What would be the point of having a phone and not taking it with you. Stupid statement, but when you are out in the world and something happens the instinct now is to whip out (steady) the old mobile and record it.

Last year we had the meteorite explode in the sky above Russia and within the hour, footage from the public appeared on the news channels. Breaking news now has added intensity thanks to folk with a camera on their phone.

Simon Howden

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, I repeat the title of this post: Where is all the ALIEN footage?

I want to believe. I saw that docu-soap about the FBI guy called Fox and his sidekick (who looked a lot like the actress Gillian Anderson). They chased aliens and strange happenings, we have Roswell which “allegedly” happened more than half a century ago.

There have been other phenomena since think of crop circles, alien abductions, things seen flying in the sky and countless accounts of people seeing UFOs. The seventies and eighties and even nineties continued this theme, but few people drove around with a video camera at the ready back then. Some did, but we best not go into their motives.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

EVERYONE now has a video recording device in their pocket, or their bag. A large number of these will even be in HD so once again, I repeat: Where is all the ALIEN footage?

I’m disappointed that a search of YouTube didn’t bring up dozens of “genuine” sightings. Remember, I want to believe.

When I was about nine …

Whoa. I don’t know where you think this post is heading. To my knowledge I have NOT been abducted by aliens. It might explain some things in my life, but short of being a Star Trek fan and wishing I’d been born to experience intergalactic travel that’s about it. Back to my story.

When I was about nine I saw something in the sky. A grey cylinder shape. I had not been drinking (I was NINE remember) nor had I smoked anything or been bitten by any hallucinogenic venomed beasty. I saw something in the sky and then nothing. It was gone.

If that had happened yesterday, I would be in my pocket and be recording before I’d finished blinking for the third time. I presume all the people gathered nearby would have done the same.

Are we alone? Are we the only planet orbiting a sun, with warmth, and an atmosphere able to support life?

Has every single story about supposed encounters with aliens been a hoax? (Or a US or Russian Military training exercise?) Or now we all have a smart phone do our satellites interfere with the aliens’ communications devices and they’ve had to go home until they’ve invented 8G technology?

So. Everybody. Where is all the ALIEN footage?