Warning - Some posts may cause choking, spitting of beverage and /or a severe giggle fit. This advice brought to you by regular reader Louisa.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Odd October

So I did it! I blogged every day of October! *faints* I could not have done it, though, without the help of six fabulous people who each came up with five subjects for me to ramble about. So a big 'thank you' to Maria, Natasha, Tami, Weesa, Mark and Dave! *glomps all*

It's been a bit manic, I'll admit. Some of the subjects were really easy to blog about. I mean, the mere mention of Viggo Mortensen unleashes a torrent of words (not to mention other stuff *shifty*), so blogging about him was a sincere pleasure (obviously my good buddy Weesa knows me too well). Other subjects were tricky. For example, when Maria asked for nuclear physics, I felt sure that I was going to stall. I managed to get something up, granted, but I am eternally grateful that the other half of Maria's suggestion was to blog about something I had no clue about, so at least I had an excuse for my insane mutterings.

Mark, of course, gave me several topics that threatened to scupper me up completely. Honestly, if you had told me last month that I would have blog posts about darts and Noel Edmonds, I would have raised my eyebrows and snorted profusely. But I cobbled them together, even if I squirmed a bit while doing so.

Tami's suggestions were more writerly inclined, and I am not in the least surprised that she gave me subjects which I'm pretty sure were designed to make me feel guilty and force me to edit my existing novel, and get cracking on my next one, The Watery Tart is a sneasky one, but I loves her, I do, I loves her. *nods*

Natasha also didn't overly surprise me when she suggested something cricket related. Some of you may remember when I first did requests last year, and Natasha asked for a blog about 'deep fine legs'. Now, even though I should really know a fair bit about cricket seeing as my husband used to be a groundsman for our local cricket club, I had no idea that 'deep fine legs' was a cricketing term. Hence, I scratched my head, pondered for a while, and ended up Taffing for the first time. I'm eternally grateful that for once in my life, my cluelessness led to something good. Youknowzitmakezsense!

Finally, my last batch of requests (from work buddy Dave) could have botched up the entire thing, no question. I really had no idea what to say when I was rambling about coke and wotsits, and Friday's X Box post was a struggle too. When it came to Cheryl Cole, I was infinitely thankful for Google images. But although Dave probably gave me the toughest subjects, he also gave me the easiest one of all. Yesterday I was able to recycle an old story of mine, which pretty much fit in perfectly with the final request of 'maids'.

Okay, so I cheated a few times, and a few more times I twisted the subject slightly to fit my needs, but on the whole I am happy with the month's work. And still slightly shocked that I completed the challenge. Post a blog every day for an entire month? No sweat! It was easy! *coughs*

Now it's time to prepare for writing a novel in November. 50,000 words in thirty days? I'll have a bluddy good try, butt!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The French Maid

Summer 1422

Dear Henri,

Maman has said that that the whole family is to visit the Loire Valley in the month of July. Papa had to be coaxed, but he agreed that it would be good of us to get away for a few days. The conflict is wearing upon his nerves and I believe that the country air will fortify him greatly.

We hope to be with you in a month or so. Send my regards to your parents.

Your friend,



Fall 1422

Dear Henri,

We have been home but a few short weeks, but already the beautiful time we spent together has become distant in my memory. The lazy days of running freely in the breeze are now just shadows upon my mind; Papa has already lost the bloom that had only just begun to appear on his careworn face. Maman fears that the conflict will soon be upon our doorstep, and Papa seems to agree.

I fear that our lives are about to become entangled in this horrid war. I sometimes hear Papa in his study talking to others; they talk in hushed voices, but their words appear loud to my ears. I fear for my family; I fear for my friends; I fear for my country. I pray that it will end soon.

Your friend,



Spring 1423

Dear Henri,

I am deeply sorry to hear about your Papa's passing. If I was with you I would hold you in my arms and embrace your grief as my own. Alas, I cannot do so. I will, however, pray for your Papa's soul and ask that The Lord take him to His bosom like He would His own child. You are, as ever, in my thoughts and prayers.

Your friend,



Winter 1423

Dear Henri,

It has been so long since I have written to you. The situation here is now dire; Papa has forbidden my brothers and I to correspond with anyone. It has been months since I was last allowed to bring my quill to paper; Papa finally relented and has allowed me to write to you, but I fear it will be a short transcript.

We are all in reasonably good health, though Maman has begun to slow a little  of late. In truth, I think that her heart is the cause of her troubles. she worries so much. I know that we live in dark times, but Maman takes it so hard. She worries for my brothers' lives, and Papa's too. I do not know if we will meet in the near future; this wretched war has closed many doors to us. I hope with all my heart that we can one day share another carefree interlude in the fields of corn, but I fear that it will be a long time before that can ever come to pass.

You remain, as ever, in my thoughts.



Spring 1424

Dear Henri,

Such a wonderful thing has happened! I have been visited by a number of dreams, each one urging me to take charge and move our country forward out of the abyss. The days have grown so dark, yet I now see that there is light if I have but the courage to proceed. Papa is very supportive, thought he thinks I am a little young. Maman has not been so agreeable, but she does not dare to go against Papa. I do not know what I can tell you, just that I know that I have work to do. Memories of our friendship sustain me through what I know will be a difficult journey. I dearly wish to visit you, but I do not know when or if that will be possible. I long to tell you of my dreams, for I think you are the only person who would understand them. My brothers doubt me, but I know that you would not be the same.

I live in hope that we will be together one day soon, there is much I have to tell you.

I remain your friend,



Late Spring 1428

My Dearest Henri,

It has been some time since I last wrote to you, but do not doubt that you have been constantly in my thoughts. I have heard great things about you; I know that you do much to help our country and I am so proud to call you my friend. I sometimes wish that this war had never come to us, for I think that our friendship may have pursued a different course to what we have traveled thus far.

But I digress; I have long since discarded the female notion of love and marriage. I know what my duty must be, and I am happy to be doing The Lord's work. I only hope that you understand that the choices I make are for the good of our country. I would not have you think ill of me, that would be the heaviest of all crosses to bear.

I do not know when I shall be able to write again, things are becoming more complicated. I have a mission to fulfill, duties to perform. I am not afraid to admit that I am scared, but I fully believe that my actions will prove to be successful. I have The Lord on my side, and His arms are there to protect me.

Do not look for my letters, for they shall be few and long in coming. Just know that you are in my heart as always, and that you are never far from my mind.




June 1429

Dearest Henri,

I have good tidings. I have met with King Charles and much has been discussed. I have managed to persuade him to raise an army. I fear I cannot tell you the details but I wanted you to know that at last things are proceeding as planned. We shall be passing through your village very soon, within the month if all goes to plan. Watch for me on the corn fields, for I shall endeavor at all costs to meet with you.

Soon to be with you,



Winter 1429

Dear Henri,

I have no time for niceties; I fear I must be blunt. All has not been well for several weeks; indeed, I fear that events have long since passed the point of no return. My convictions tell me that I am still on the right path of my destiny, but my heart quivers with fear for I know that my situation is fraught with danger. I do not see a way forward, but I must remain faithful to The Good Lord and continue onwards. I do not know my destination, but I remain convinced that The Lord will look after me.

I pray for your safety, and that of our countrymen.

Yours truly,



Winter 1430

My Dearest Henri,

I pray that this letter finds you, for I know not where you are hiding. The last few months have seen a frenzied amount of activity. Battles have been won, but many more have been lost. I do not see the way forward any more. My dreams are as vivid as ever, but they do not seem as clear as they once were. I fear that my anxiety is rendering my faith useless. How can I do God's Will if I am fearful of the consequences? I struggled for some time before I realized that my very indecisiveness was the reason that I could not understand my instructions.

Not any more. I have accepted my fate and am once again fully willing to do my duty. My only regret is that I will not see your dear face in front of me again. My spies tell me that I am being watched. it is only a matter of time before I am betrayed. I pray for the poor soul who will one day turn me over to the madmen that control our people. I pray for myself. I pray for my army.

Most of all I pray for you, sweet Henri. I pray that you will forgive me for loving The Lord more than loving you. Do not doubt that I love you, just understand that my faith has more power over me than any mortal love could ever hope to overcome.

I know that will meet in the afterlife.




Winter 1431

Monsieur Dupres,

This package has been sent to you by request of Jehanne d'Arc. In the weeks before her capture she commissioned a local artist to paint her portrait. She walked many miles for many days before she found the location that pleased her. She asked that she be painted without her suit of armor, and that she be surrounded by golden fields. She instructed me to forward you the portrait on the event of her death, along with the enclosed note.

Take care of our Lady.


Durand Lassois


I am known as a warrior, but I am still a woman. If I lived my life again I do not doubt for one moment that I would make the same decisions. Just as I do not doubt that I would have the same regrets.

My faith and devotion will always belong to The Lord, but my heart remains in the corn fields of my youth, and my love remains with you.

Walk through our fields of gold and remember me.


Author's notes:

When Dave asked for 'maids' as his final request, I immediately thought of the story I had written several years ago. It seemed fitting that as I am about to enter a month of story writing, that my final request post should contain a story too. This particular story was inspired by some parameters set by a long-ago online writing cafe. We were given the image of the lady in the shawl (painting by Herbert Berman, of Broderick Gallery), and asked to write a story using the image, and a song of our choice, as inspiration. I used an old song by the group 'OMD' called Joan of Arc.

A little catholic girl
Who's fallen in love
A face on a page
A gift from above

She should have known better
Than to giver her heart
She should have known better
Than to ever part

Without me
Without me

I gave her everything
That I ever owned
I think she understood
But she never spoke

She shouldn't oughta try
To be that way
She shouldn't have to go there
Ever again

Without me
Without me

Now listen to us good
And listen well
Listen to us all
And everything we tell

We should have known better
Than to giver her away
We should have known better
To this very day

Without me
Without me

Now listen Joan of Arc
All you gotta do
Is say the right words
And Ill be coming through
Hold you in my arms
And take you
Right away

Now she's on her way
To another land
We never understood
Why she gave her hand

She shouldn't oughta promise
Because it's just pretend
I know she doesn't mean it
And she'll leave again

Without me
Without me
Without me
Without me

Friday, 29 October 2010

Mark 'X' for X Box

Dave's fourth request was to blog about the X Box. As someone who has never been the best at co-ordinating her hands, and who doesn't take an interest in computer games unless they have shiny gems and/or collapsing balls, this is probably the trickiest request that I have had this month. I am resisting the urge to Google search for this, because, well, I just am.

As the wife of a games lover, and the mother of A Chip Off The Old Block, I am fairly familiar with games consoles. Both my kids have a Nintendo DS and a PlayStation 2 console each, and there is a PlayStation 3 in my living room, as well as a Wii console in my son's bedroom. So when my son requested the X Box 360 for Christmas this year, I wasn't overly impressed. I mean, just how many consoles does one house need?

My son debated the virtues of owning an X Box 360, but I'm not buying it (both literally and figuratively). When I was persuaded into allowing a PS3 in the house a couple of years ago, I was told that it was the 'best console ever' and that you would never need to have anything else to satisfy your gaming needs. I argued that - as with all things - something bigger and better would come along sooner rather than later, and that the PS3 was not the be all and end all of all things. But I ended up allowing one to be purchased (though I didn't offer a penny towards it, as it happened, because as far as I'm concerned I have better things to spend my limited cash on).

The PS3 turned out not to be such a bad buy, I will grudgingly admit. Hubby, being the technical guy that he is, hooked it up to the PC and the main TV in the house, so we can do all sorts of things with it, not just play games. And we've been saved the hassle of having to purchase a Blu Ray player because there's one built in to the console. Fair enough, I stand corrected.

But the X Box 360 doesn't offer the same value for money as far as I'm concerned. Everything it does, we can already do with the PS3. My son's final argument is that there are a couple of games he would like to play that are only available in the X Box format, but I don't consider spending £200 for a console just to be able to play a handful of games good value for money. Hence I have persuaded my son that a laptop would be a much more suitable present for Christmas.*nods firmly*

So, after some heavy 'persuasion' on my part, the Smith household says 'no' to X Box, thank you very much.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

One For The Boys

Dave's third request is 'Cheryl Cole', the current darling of British TV. Cheryl found fame as part of the successful girl band Girls Aloud, though she has since had considerable success with her solo career. Perhaps she is most famous for her role as one of the judges on the X Factor though. She has certainly become far more prominent in the press since she took this role back in 2008.

But do you know what, I strongly suspect that Dave requested Ms Cole because she is one of the hottest women on the planet. I've yet to come across a man, heterosexual or otherwise, who didn't agree that she was one of the most beautiful women in the world. And she is that rare woman who doesn't often inspire jealousy or spite in other women either, for she comes across as a very genuine, very nice person. We like Cheryl in our house, though for vastly different reasons. My daughter thinks shes cool because she's a pop star and dresses 'wicked'; my son thinks she's 'hot', and I admire her for her general niceness and genuine, down to earth personality. As for my husband, he 'wouldn't say no'. *snort*

Anyway, seeing as the majority of men on the planet don't really want to read about Cheryl Cole, and would much rather look at her, I thought I'd indulge you and give you some pictures to drool over. After all, I have posted droolfests of Viggo, Jensen and other Fantasy Fellas, so it's only fair that I give the men a turn too. *nods*

So here you go, boys!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Great Big Cheese Debate

Well, it's not really a great big cheese debate, but when it comes to cheesy snacks,  most British people can be divided into the Quavers or Wotsits category. My daughter enjoys both, but if asked to choose, would go for Quavers every time. My son, on the other hand, practically comes out in hives when he is offered Quavers, but loves the cheesy goodness of Wotsits.

Most British kids are introduced to crisps via Wotsits or Quavers (or sometimes Skips, though these are not so popular, mostly because they are prawn cocktail flavoured and perhaps aren't as kind to a toddler's palate). All three snacks are not like a traditional crisp as they are soft, and they melt in the mouth. Obviously this is ideal for younger children, who usually suck their food to death rather than chew. Especially if they have hardly any teeth. Seeing a toddler in a pram with a bright orange-coloured mouth and cheesy cheeks is pretty much a daily sight in Britain.

I like both, though I prefer the taste of Wotsits. Unfortunately, they are pretty mucky to eat, and sort of stick to your teeth. It's no surprise that toddlers get covered in cheesiness - the coating seems to stick to everything. On a happier note, both Quavers and Wotsits come in at less than 100 calories per pack, so if you are a crisp lover who is trying to diet, you can still have your favourite cheesy snack every day if you wished. *nods* Lovely!

Of course, some people go a bit too far in their love for the cheesy snack. While looking for pictures for today's ramble, I came across a few peculiar images, not least the lady who filled a bathtub with Wotsits and proceeded to sit in it. Perhaps she was trying to emulate Cleopatra, but honestly, I would have stuck with the milk. If Wotsits stick to your teeth and turn your mouth orangey, I shudder to think what other places may be affected if you took a bath in them.

And on that slightly disturbing note, I shall leave you to your thoughts....

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Well here I am, about to start my last batch of requests for my blogging marathon. The last five suggestions come from Dave, a work buddy of mine, and his first topic is coke.

Now, as with a few other suggestions, I could be sneaky and blog about something completely different to what was intended, but I'm going to be good. *nods* Of course, I might be wrong in assuming that the 'coke' that Dave suggested is the soft drink, but seeing as I happen to know that he was bribed with a bottle of coke just the other week, the drink is what I'm going with. *nods again*

I could cover the tired debate of 'coke versus pepsi', but I won't. Mostly because the majority of the people that I know prefer coke, and also because I believe the answer to that question largely depends upon where in the world you live.

I could maybe ramble about the onset of Christmas, and the inevitable coke advert that arrives around November with a jolly-faced Santa riding on his sleigh, and the extremely annoying jingle playing in the background (why the Powers That Be decide that the festive season is the only time of year to advertise a soft drink is a bit baffling to be honest).

I suppose I could explain that I actually prefer diet coke to ordinary coke, and always have done. Not that I have been dieting for the last twenty years (although I have off an on for most of that time *shifty*), it's just that, to me, drinking ordinary coke is like drinking pure sugar. But I'm pretty sure you don't want to hear about that either.

I could even tell you that I buy half a dozen three litre bottles of diet coke every week to feed my hubby's addiction, but again, that's not very interesting either.

To be truthful, there's not an awful lot I can say about coke. I mean, it's a soft drink, and most people have heard of it, even if they do prefer pepsi. I was going to revert to to good old Google images, but there wasn't really anything interesting on there either.

And me? Do I like coke? Well yes, I've already explained that I do, albeit the diet version. But I especially prefer it with vodka. *nods firmly* And I have a feeling I may be in need of several vodka and cokes in the next few days because one or two of Dave's suggestions are tricky, very tricky.

Oh well, that's about all I can think of to say, really. And 'coke' was one of Dave's easiest topics. I'm obviously going to be doomed. *snorts*

See you tomorrow, when I shall be getting a bit cheesy with some Wotsits...

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Bearded One

Oh dear. I have to blog about Noel Edmonds. Mr Beard himself. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear.

If you are a Brit, then you should be sympathizing with me around about now (though if your name is Mark Nicholls, I'd hazard a guess that there's a smirk lurking on your face). You see, Noel Edmonds is a bit, well... a bit naff. No offence meant to Mr. Edmonds - I'm sure you're a lovely man - but even you would have to admit that part of your success in the land of TV Presenters has been due to your somewhat cheesy persona and the collection of 'family friendly' TV shows.

Let me elaborate.

My first recollection of seeing Edmonds on the TV was when I was very small (around three or four) when he presented the Saturday morning kids' show Multicoloured Swap Shop. It wasn't overly memorable, to be honest, as I can't really recall any details about this particular show. I was a Tiswas girl, you see, and much preferred the antics of the Phantom Flan Flinger. *nods* Anywho, I watched Swap Shop as much as the next kid, but the only thing that really sticks in my mind is the multitude of mulitcoloured shirts that Edmonds wore. I suspect that the show was given its name because Edmonds was desperate for someone to swap him some decent shirts, but I could be wrong.

Throughout the eighties, Edmunds was predominantly focused on presenting his teatime show Telly Addicts, which was maybe one of his better career choices. The format was simple; clips of TV past and present were shown to two teams, and a series of questions would follow. You didn't watch it for the quiz though, you watched it for the collection of gems that appeared every week that you'd thought you'd forgotten about. I think this was successful for the first couple of seasons, but it got a bit tired after that and petered a bit like a deflated balloon.

Then came the Blobby Years. I'm torn here, I really am. I can't decide whether this was the highlight of Edmonds' career, or the lowpoint. Noel's House Party was one of those Saturday night shows that the BBC cranks out every couple of years with the hope that they will lure people away from the pubs and clubs. I wouldn't call myself an avid fan of the show, but I watched it more often than not (though I suspect that this was because there was no cable at the time, and the other viewing options were limited). It was sort of like car crash TV - you didn't want to watch, but was sort of morbidly fascinated nonetheless.

Of course, the show inevitibly came to an end (but not before an entertainment park based on Crinkly Bottom - the fictional village where Noel's House Party was happening every week - had been opened). This was swiftly followed by the Wilderness years, in which Edmonds was reduced to presenting one show a year. Noel's Christmas Presents was decidedly cheesy television, albeit in a warm-hearted kind of way. Seeing poorly children whisked away to Lapland would melt the hardest of hearts. Still, I don't think Mr. Edmonds was particulary happy - going from presenting a show every week to presenting one once a year was a bit of a kick in the teeth.

Then came The Comeback. Edmonds is now presenting the Brit version of Deal or No Deal, and is doing very well I must say. Not that I actually watch the show, you understand, but it's very popular and apparently he does a good job, or the Beeb wouldn't have renewed his contract. *nods* What strikes me as funny though, is that one of TV's other big phenomena - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - is presented by none other than  Chris Tarrent, who presented the much preferred Tiswas of my youth. And you know what, I prefer Millionaire to Deal or No Deal. This ponders the question - is it the presenters that I don't like, or the show itself.

To be honest, I don't know, because I'm not overly keen on Chris Tarrent either. I'm a fussy madam, to be honest...

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Darts - Pointy, or Pointless?

Today I will be talking about darts. Not quite sure what sort of thing I'll be saying, but that's par for the course for me, so I'm not overly worried.

The thing is, I don't really see the point of darts. I mean, yes, they have a point - they are darts, so of course they have a point - but I don't really see the purpose of them. Well, not as a sport at any rate.  Darts are classed as a sport, you see, but it's one of those funny sports which don't really involve much in the way of physical activity, so I don't totally agree with it being termed as a 'sport' at all. I don't mind darts if I am playing myself, but watching a game of darts is pretty boring as far as I'm concerned. I mean, you wouldn't watch somebody playing a board game as a sport, would you? And that's how I see darts - as a game.

OK, so I'm not exactly a fan of watching any sport, but I can at least see the appeal of football or rugby, for example. Notwithstanding the high probability of observing some muscular manly thighs, there is also the thrill and/or disappointment of watching for goals (or tries, or whatever they are called in rugby). I mean, I get that. I could even go as far as to say I would probably enjoy watching a live football or rugby match at a sports venue.

Or tennis, that's another sport I quite enjoy watching. Perhaps it's those muscular thighs again, who knows? But what I do know is that watching darts gives you little to no opportunity of spotting a thigh that is muscular at all. Shocking!

Before I continue, I would like to emphatically state that I am in no way having a go at people on the larger side. I myself have always been big, and I actively speak out about people having the right to be whatever size suits them. Fat, thin, rounded, angled, whatever - we're all different, and we should embrace that difference.


Er, I'm not having a pop at lager drinkers either. Just so you know. This really isn't a serious post at all, so please don't be offended.


Anywho, what annoys me about darts is that the people who play them all appear to be beer-bellied blokes who quite possibly train by lifting several pints of lager four or five times a week. There is no physical activity as such, so why is this termed as a sport? Now I'm not suggesting that you don't need  talent to be a proficient darts player, because you do - quite obviously. I myself hit the wall more often then the dartboard. You need a good eye and a steady hand for a start (which must be hard after all those pints, let's be honest here). But honestly, it's not exactly an exciting sport, is it?

The commentators try very hard to make it appear exciting - "One hundred and eiiiiiiiigty!" - but really, they're fighting a losing battle. Then they try to seduce you into enjoying the game by speaking into the microphone in deep, hushed tones. But no, that's not working either, sorry mate.

There's just nothing exciting about it at all, and to me, sports should be exciting to watch. Seriously, you can watch with bated breath as a ski-jumper does some amazing stunt in mid-air, and you can gasp at the seemingly impossible feats that a gymnast can achieve. And you can yell encouragement or groan with dismay at the appropriate times during a football match. But what the heck do you do with darts?

"Oh, he missed. Never mind, he's got a few more darts left yet."


Maybe I'm being overly harsh. There are definitely people out there who enjoy watching darts to be sure, but me, I just don't get it.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Auror Application

Name: Ronald Bilius Weasley

Born: March 1 1980

Education: Home-schooled until aged 11, Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from aged 11-16.

Formal Qualifications: A handful of O.W.L.s.

Further Education: Dropped out of school to participate in the war against Lord Voldemort.

Hobbies: Eating; being a sidekick; pulling silly faces; providing comic relief; being the underdog; excelling at having the emotional sensitivity of a teaspoon.

How did you hear about this job? I didn't. Blimey, everyone wants to be an Auror, though, don't they? Cool.

What qualities would you bring to this position? Well, I dunno really. I guess I'm good for back up. Yeah, I'm definitely good for that. And I work well in a team; especially if it's a trio, and even better if it's Harry and Hermione. Hermione's my girlfriend, you know. It only took me seven years to ask her out, but I'm a persistent bloke, me. I suppose that's a good quality isn't it, persistence? I'm stubborn too, which is probably a good thing to be when you're chasing after dark wizards. Never give up, that's my motto. Unless there's giant spiders involved, then I would run for my life. But honestly, who wouldn't? Except maybe Hagrid, but he's half giant so he don't count.

Skills: I'm an excellent chess player. And, um, I'm, well, an excellent chess player really...

Character strengths: I'm really, really loyal. Except when I get in a stinking mood, or I'm jealous or something, but mostly I'm just loyal. And persistent, yeah, that's me. Did I tell you it took me seven years to ask my girlfriend out? And I'm fair-minded, except when I'm jealous, or in a filthy mood.

Character weaknesses: I suppose I can be a bit moody, but hey, nobodys perfect.

What experience, if any, do you have with fighting dark wizards? Well I helped Harry back in the first year at school. I didn't really fight as such, but I played a wicked game of chess. And in year two I was right there with Harry when we went to rescue my sister; it wasn't my fault that the Chamber of Secrets collapsed, was it? Just like it wasn't my fault in year three when we had to save Sirius Black. I mean, I would have helped, but with a broken leg and all, well, it was difficult. Year four was a bit quiet for me, and yeah, I was a bit of a git with Harry for a while, but I helped him in the end, didn't I? I mean, I told him about the dragons, didn't I? So I didn't actually fight any dark wizards that year, but then, nobody else did either. Only Harry. And Cedric. Well, Cedric didn't really fight at all actually, he just got killed, poor bloke. And as for Harry, we, he's Harry, isn't he? Of course he fought. I did better in year five though. Yeah, I mean, apart from the brain incident, I did pretty well. And I took part in a real battle at the end of year six. Brilliant, that was. Shame Dumbledore snuffed it.

But the best experience I had was in year seven. Technically it wasn't really year seven 'cos I dropped out of school, but me, Hermione and Harry did plenty of stuff that year. Alright, so I lost the plot a bit and buggered off for a while, but I came to my senses and went back to help. I mean, if it weren't for me, Harry would never have gotten Gryffindor's sword back, would he? And it was me who had the idea of going back to the Chamber of Secrets to get some basilisk teeth. Hermione kissed me for the first time just after that. Did I tell you it only took me seven years to get together with her? Persistent, that's me. And loyal.

References: Well, I suppose you could as McGonagall. And maybe Hagrid.

Finally, why do you wish to become an Auror? Because it's like the most wicked job that a wizard can do. Except maybe being a Quidditch player, but even though I was keeper for Gryffindor's Quidditch team for a while, I never really fancied playing for a career. Aurors are cool though. Plus Hermione's an Auror. You know, my girlfriend. I can't believe it only took me seven years to get together with her. I'm going to ask her to marry me one day. Not yet though, Maybe in another seven years or so, I like to take my time with these things.

Friday, 22 October 2010

To Casserole, Or Not To Casserole, That Is The Question...

 Mark, being the delusional bloke that he is (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) was bound to give me at least one topic suggestion that would stump me at least a little bit. But I never dreamed that of the five requests he would make of me, casseroles would be one of them (and if I'm worried about this post, I still have darts and Noel Edmunds to cover in the next few days *faints*).

I'm not a fan of casseroles, in fact I've never liked them at all. Possibly because my mother used to make them every week during the winter (along with the obligatory stew, which I also disliked), and there would inevitably be several vegetables lurking inside that would make me cringe with every forced mouthful. The thing is, I was brought up to eat everything on my plate whether I liked it or not. If I wanted 'afters', I had to eat my main meal. An odd sprout left here, a spoonful of peas left there, that was allowed, but the majority of the meal had to be consumed.

We also had set meals for certain days, depending on the season. Summers were cool because we basically lived off various salads, which I've always loved, but winter meals were a different deal. Sundays would obviously be dominated by the roast chicken dinner (which fortunately I love), Fridays would be fish of some sort (I detest fish), Mondays were ham, mashed potatoes and parsley sauce (hate ham, loathe parsley sauce), and Wednesdays were stew days (or casseroles, one or the other). Luckily the other days weren't so structured, and we had things like steak pies (yum), corned beef hash (yum yum yum), curries and pasta (yumminess all round).

Anyway, when it was casserole or stew day, I would dread sitting down to eat because I knew I would have to hold my breath so as not to smell the food, and bypass chewing as much as possible and move straight to swallowing, thus avoiding much of the tasting process. I still cringe at the memory of those times when a hint of swede or parsnip hit my taste buds and I had to stop myself from... well, you get the idea.

You may think I'm a fussy eater, but I'm actually not too bad. I like way more than I don't like. If you want to know what a fussy eater is, then you should meet my kids. My son lives off a diet of cereal, cheese spread sandwiches and chips (that's fries to those of you in the US of A). My daughter is not much better, though she will at least have ham, eggs (but only the yolk, mind you), sausages and fishcakes. Offer them real fish, and they would laugh. And meat? Uh-uh. As for vegetables, you can forget it. I do a lovely Sunday roast every week (well, actually the hubby does it now because I work every Sunday), and out of all of the meat and the trimmings, my kids have potatoes. That's it. My daughter will have a sausage on the side rather than real meat, and they'll both have the gravy, but as for the idea of giving them a proper roast dinner, I might as well talk to the wall.

Now you might think that I should follow my mother's example and tell them that they have to eat their meals whether they like them or not, but you haven't met my kids. I've tried so many times to be firm with them, and each time they have gone without food for the night, or they have literally made themselves sick after forcing a mouthful down their throats. I'm sorry, but even though I know they're manipulating me, I can't stand back and watch my kids vomit, or go hungry. Plus having my own bad food experiences in my youth makes it doubly hard to force my kids into eating stuff they don't like. 

So to answer the original question, it's definitely Not To Casserole. It's just not happening in the Smith household, no sirree.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

On Thin Ice

I really am on thin ice today (metaphorically speaking, obviously), because the subject for today's blog is 'ice skating' (my first of five requests from Mark - check out his fabulous Quiddity of Delusion blog, it's awesome *nods*) and I really have no idea what on earth I'm going to come up with.

I had the same problem with the knitting request a few days ago, but I was fortunate enough to remember that google images can be really helpful on certain occasions. I could have gone the same route today, but cheating twice in one week would be a little bit too much, even for me.

I still don't know what to say, though (which you've probably guessed by now, right?).

I've actually tried ice skating a few times, though it's been over a decade since I last had a go (actually, make that almost two decades. Erk. I'm getting old). I mastered the Wobbly Walk - you know, when you put the hired skates on and totter towards the ice - and even did so without falling flat on my face (imagine that!). I ventured onto the ice and watched enviously as my friends scooted off ahead of me, but I never managed to get past the edge of the rink. My fingers stayed attached to the side of the rink as if they had been glued to it. Of course, staying on the outer edge of the rink was a pretty stupid thing to do because the edge is full of lumps and bumps, and for a learner skater, lumps and bumps won't get you anywhere. But as I was far too much of a Scaredy Cat to leave go and have a proper attempt anyway, it didn't matter one way or another.

That's my problem with a lot of things though; I'm so worried about falling/slipping/hurting myself, that I can't relax long enough to attempt anything. I'm such a clumsy person by nature that, as a rule, I tend to avoid anything with wheels (yeah, I know ice skates don't actually have wheels, but you know what I mean).

Honestly, I go flying when I'm running for a bus - can you imagine what would happen if I donned a pair of ice skates? *rolls eyes* Nope, however much I'd like to try it again, I think it would be better all around if I stuck with my trainers...

And that's all I have to say, really. This blog post will have to be short and to the point - rather like my skating history.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Out With The Old

So I mentioned the other day that two of Weesa's topic suggestions linked heavily with my first attempt at an original novel. Today's topic - imagination - is Weesa's final suggestion, and I am going to post what was intended as a prologue for my long-neglected work (not) in progress. In the prologue for 'Soul Identity', I wanted to somehow get the reader to really visualise the set up, and also to set the tone for the entire novel. It was never meant to be longer than a single page - in fact, it was more of a forward than a prologue now that I think about it.

I had mixed feedback from my friends, both Burrowing and non- Burrowing, and I could never quite decide myself whether I liked it or not. This incarnation is pretty much what I originally wrote way back when, and although I had intended to keep it, I think I may scrap it (along with the few chapters already written) and start all over. Nevertheless, I intend to keep pieces of this and incorporate them into the story at a later point because I still like the imagery.

But what does this have to do with imagination? Well, apart from the obvious - that writing a story requires imagination somewhere along the line - the entire point of my prologue was to get readers to imagine the scene themselves. In fact, the very first word is 'imagine' - fancy that!

So here comes the soon-to-be scrapped prologue of 'Soul Identity'. I figured it deserved another airing before I laid it to rest and began working on the book from scratch again during this year's NaNoWriMo.

Soul Identity - Prologue

Imagine a soul floating on the breeze. It shivers as if it is deathly cold, fluttering wildly. It moves along the air currents, passing through clouds unnoticed; the birds that fly by on their daily journeys do not sense it. Indeed, the soul itself does not register the presence of the winged creatures. The soul continues to float through the sky seemingly aimlessly. It does not know where it will end up; it does not understand why it is traveling. It is, after all, only a soul. It has no conscious thought, it does not think for itself. The soul simply is.

Imagine a child who is hidden from the world. The Child sits in a stark, cold room and waits for her life to start. The daily existence that she lives through is nothing more than a parody of life. The Child is fed at first light and at dusk. The child knows not how the nourishment arrives at her feet, just as she knows not how the books came to be in her possession. She does not understand why she is in this place, nor does she question it.

The Child may be alone, but the Child is not ignorant. She is well-read and fluent in several languages. Indeed, the Child can speak quite proficiently, though her voice is rarely heard. The Child prefers the silence because Silence is her friend.

Silence comforts her when she is uneasy. Silence does not mock her when she is troubled; Silence wraps its arms around her and soothes away her distress. Silence warns the child when there is danger at hand, for when Silence is disturbed, the Child invariably is disturbed soon after. The Child knows this, therefore the Child respects this. Silence is her friend.

And so the Child sits in her stark, cold room and waits. She waits for Silence to abandon her, as she knows will happen soon enough. She waits for life. She waits to breathe.



Picture a village on the outskirts of a forest. Small rickety homes litter the rural landscape; broken, rundown homes screaming their poverty for all to hear. Picture the inhabitants of this village. Quiet, goodly folk who farm their land and dream of nothing more than a good meal and a safe family to return home to at the end of the day. They are a peaceful folk; there are no wars to be fought, no crimes to punish. They set their lives to the rise and fall of the Sun. When dawn breaks they set about their work without complaint, eager to toil on the land that they love. The arrival of dusk brings contentment; satisfaction that they have worked to the best of their ability. They return home to their loved ones and retire after a simple meal, intent on being well-rested for the coming day.

A simple life; but a good one.

But Darkness creeps through this quaint part of the world, hidden from sight, invisible to the innocent. It seeps into their hearts without their knowledge; once it has a grip it is hard to be free of it. Darkness seeks those who are least able to understand. It strikes into the hearts of the pure, a sharp spear of confusion. Only the strongest souls have the strength to repel its deadly tip. But even the heartiest soul has its limits.

Picture a tall and muscular man with dark hair cropped close to his skull. His piercing blue eyes are sometimes flecked with green, hinting at a cold nature. His nose is large and pocked from many beatings. He is a hard man, but a pious one. He holds his faith up like a shield, proud of his heritage. Arin is a basically decent man; he's a husband, a farmer and a friend. First and foremost he is a Guardian of the Faith. The Faith holds priority over everything, even his kin. This is typical of the time; a mans faith is a mans life. Arin is no exception.

But Arin was about to be made an exception. Darkness had found a new target, a perfect one. Arin has all the right credentials. He is devoted to his faith; he is past the innocence of youth; he is strong and courageous, prepared to fight for what he believes in. And Arin is married. Arin is wed to a beautiful young woman named Maya, and Maya is the key to it all.

Maya is with child.

Darkness smiles.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Weesa's fourth request was simply 'Viggo'. Now for those of you who wouldn't have had a clue what that was, then shame on you! *wags finger*. For those of you who have known me for longer than five minutes, please stop rolling your eyes. Yes, I know I'm slightly obsessed, and have been for a long time, but I swear I have it under control now. Honest.

For those of you who still don't know what I am talking about, I am, of course, rambling about the one and only Viggo Mortensen, who is, just as the title suggests, Viggolicious. Or Viggorgeous. Or Viggolickinggood, you decide. Viggo is pretty much any and all of the above, and has been my primary mojo for a good number of years now.

I first discovered Viggo Delight when I watched the Fellowship of the Ring back in 2002 (where he played Aragorn - you with me now?). To be honest, I took only a fleeting interest in the gorgeousness that was Viggo at first, in fact (and this makes me shudder with horror), I almost missed out completely. My daughter was only a few weeks old at the time, so any movie watching was mixed with feeding, cuddling, and praying for the baby so sleep for a little longer than ten minutes at a time. Hence, Viggo Mania almost passed me by.

Of course, 'almost' is the key word there, because quite obviously Viggo Mania did not pass me by. *coughs*

My first clear sighting of His Hotness was in a scene where you see little more than his face, but all I could think was, Hoo Boy, if his face makes my knees go weak, what the heck will I be like when I see him properly? A few moments later he had a classic Manly Aragorn Moment, where he practically throws young Frodo up the stairs (and there was much rejoicing) and practices his Menacing Glare. *fans self*

As if that wasn't enough, not long after, he whips out his sword. I was suckered, well and truly. *nods wisely*

Thankfully there were two further installments to The Lord of the Rings, including the fabulous second movie, The Two Towers, which carries almost infinite freeze frame moments. We have plenty of Hot Dirty Ranger moments, for example, where Aragorn/Viggo is suitably muddied and grubby (and frankly much hotter than when he is Kingly Aragorn After A Shave).Then we have lots of Hot Ranger With A Big Sword moments too, obviously. Not to mention the infamous Bursting Through Door Moment (I think I may have ruined my first DVD copy at this point of the movie, actually [yes, I have three copies of each of the three movies - better safe than sorry, you know *shifty*]). Alas, google images is not being very forthcoming, and my vast picture collection (over 200 pictures at last glance) is lost forever on the deceased laptop of last year. *sighs sadly*, so I can't demonstrate these various Viggolicious moments.

But it's not all about the Lord of the Rings, oh dear me, no!

Who remembers G.I. Jane? Not the best movie ever made to be sure, but with strategically placed shots of Demi Moore doing press-ups (for the boys), and Hoo Ya Master Chief close ups of Viggo in tight little shorts (for me, er, I mean the girls), it was bound to be a hit. *coughs*

All silliness aside, Mr. Mortensen is not only one of the hottest people on the planet, but seemingly a really nice bloke too. Having watched the multiple hours of extras on all three of the Lord of the Rings DVDs (well, all six really, because I have both the theatre releases and the extended versions of the trilogy, and each disc has plenty of bonus features. What do you mean, I'm overly obsessed? Don't be ridiculous!), it's plain that everyone who worked with Viggo really admired him, both for his professionalism, and his wonderfully generous nature (as well as his strong sense of fun).

Honestly, a man who is physically gorgeous, is unfailingly nice and genuine with it, has a sense of humour,  is a doting father (yup, he has a son), and is well known for choosing his partners for their personality and individualism as well as (and sometimes in spite of) their looks. what woman could fail to be a little bit in love with him?

And he paints too - and also publishes his own photography and poetry. And to top it all, he sings in Elvish (that's Elvish, as in Tolkein, not Elvis as in uh huh huh, thankyouverymuch). Honestly, what's a girl to do, other than swoon just a little bit while she tries not to drown in a puddle of drool...

Ah Viggo, I love you.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Knitting for the Unknitiated

Yup, I'm definitely clueless about today's topic suggestion, and I don't know where to even begin when it comes to rambling about it, so I decided that Google images would be my best friend today, and that I would go on a mini quest to find interesting (er, for interesting, read 'silly') pictures to fill this blog post. *nods* And on that note....

Knitting can be a very versatile hobby, apparently. It's amazing what you can do with a couple of long, pointy sticks and some soft, lengthy yarn.

You could knit yourself a disguise....

You could even disguise your tank when you want to engage in some warfare with your neighbourly knitters...

If tanks are not your preferred method of travel, perhaps you could whip up your own personal public transport option...

It's easily done, too, apparently. So easy, in fact, that even the wildlife are at it...

And don't forget, domesticated creatures are just as clever as their wilder cousins. *nods*

Though honestly, not all domesticated creatures take to it as well as others...

Perhap's Man's Best Friend was suffering some stress, clearly worrying an awful lot about something...

*lights candle*

Poor thing. Still, goes to show that knitting is for everyone, no matter what walk of life you are from. And as to what you can knit, well, I imagine the options are limitless. So, go forth and knitify! You know you want to!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

It's All About The Purple

I find it interesting that two of the five subjects that my fourth 'topic suggester' picked link really well with the first original novel that I started writing (emphasis on the 'started' there as that's about as far as I got). Among the suggestions that Weesa gave me was 'purple' and 'imagination'. Obviously I'm not going to ramble about imagination today because I need to keep that for a couple of days' time, so today it's going to be all about the Purple. *nods*

My story premise for 'Soul Identity' (the tentative name that I came up with about a century ago) was pretty simple. Everybody has something unique inside them that identifies who they truly are, and this certain something is central to how they live their lives. Everybody has this, but there are some who have a stronger version (for want of a better word), and it is these people who end up shaping the way we live.

Now, my story was fantasy based, so of course I needed legends and back story for my characters, plus I had to have the essential good vs. evil dynamic that most decent fantasy novels contain. I don't want to go into too much detail because I have a sneaksy feeling that I may end up working on the book for next month's NaNoWriMo (and be classed as a rebel for doing so), but what I found really interesting (as I mentioned above) is that Weesa picked out two of the really strong themes from 'Soul Identity'  - how mad is that?

The purple is pretty easy to explain. My main characters are related to each other, though they don't know of this until late in their childhoods. One is kept locked away by a benevolent old man, and the other is brought up by loving parents and a godmother. Although they have completely opposite experiences of childhood, they are both almost identical in looks and temperament, and recognize their kinship as soon as they eventually meet.

But where's the purple? I'm getting there...

Being fantsay based, it should come as no surprise for you to learn that these children  (both girls, named Cassiopeia and Andromeda, by the way) have a mystical history, and are, in fact, the key to saving the world (obviously!). Naturally there is legend and folklore that tells the story of the coming of two girls who will defeat the evilness of the world, and of course they will have to suffer through many obstacles and sacrifice a great deal before they can to what they're destined to do.

What do you mean, that sounds familiar? Of course it sounds familiar! All good fantasy novels have the hero/heroine venture on some sort of quest and end up having to save the world - it's the tried and tested formula. *nods*

But where's the flipping purple?!?!

Alright, alright, I'm getting to it...

Both my girls have piercing lavender eyes (is that not a shade of purple? *winks*) and are the main identifying attribute that alerts those in the know that they are the girls that were spoken of in legend. To compliment their unusual eye colouring, they both have vibrant violet hair (ooh look, another shade of purple!). Obviously this isn't the norm even in a fantasy based world, which partly explains why the one child is locked away, and why the other will be seen to go to great lengths to conceal her true colouring. It's all about the purple indeed.

It's also a pretty moralistic tale, with plenty of action, a little mystery, a pinch of magic, and a great big whack of emotional punch, because when I am not being nutty and delusional with talking cats and modern-day fairy tales set in the Kair of Diff, I actually think my true writer's voice belongs in angsty, dark and emotional story telling.

This, I hope, is what I want to bring to 'Soul Identity', and hopefully I'll be Bringing It throughout next month's WriMo challenge.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Writing Tips From An Unqualified (but enthusiastic) Writer

Moving into the second half of my October blog challenge, and it's the turn of my HPANA buddy Weesa to suggest the next block of topics. Her first prompt is 'Advice for beginner writers'.

This one makes me a bit squirmy as I don't really feel that I'm in a position to offer advice. Sure, I've been writing for around five years now, but I'm not published, and I know I could improve in a number of ways. Still, there are several things that I believe would be useful to aspiring writers out there who are just starting out.

1 - My biggest piece of advice is to read. And when I say read, I mean reads lots. Read copious amounts, really. As much as you can, in every genre possible. The more you read, the higher your vocabulary skills will be, and you will also get a good idea about what does and doesn't sell. Look for plot patterns, see how foreshadowing works, look at the pacing. Dissect as much as you can and break the novel down into sections. If you can see how things work in a published book, it will help you with the layout in your own book.

2 - After you have read a good selection of novels, pick a genre that you enjoyed the most. If you really enjoy reading fantasy, for example, chances are you will enjoy writing fantasy too. Find your comfort zone, and test the waters by writing a short story first, or even a poem. You'll soon know if the genre you've chosen is working for you. My first original novel idea was fantasy based, and I spent three years on the thing and never passed five chapters. Fantasy is my favourite genre, so I really thought it should be the genre that I should write in. Then I went through a phase where I read a bunch of chick lit novels and I decided to have a go at writing one for last year's NaNoWriMo challenge. One month and 50,000 odd words later, and I had a working novel on my hands. Sure, it needs editing and what not, but the bulk of the writing is done. Goes to show that your first genre choice may not be your genre at all, so don't despair if your first choice doesn't work for you.

3 - Have a go at writing some fanfiction. I dipped my toe in the writing pond by writing fanfiction for Harry Potter (you can find all of my Potter stories in the Fan Fun forum on HPANA under my pen name Tundiel Mehtarion). My earlier attempts are a wee bit embarrassing, but I like to leave them up because I think you can really see how much I've improved over the years, and that is something which encourages me. Fanfiction is an excellent way to hone your writing skills, and also has the added bonus of feedback when you post it online.

4 - Blog. As often as you can. This is one of those things where I am saying 'do as I say, not as I do'. My blogging habits are sporadic to say the least, but I am trying to do better. If you really want to write, then you need to get into the habit of writing daily, even if it's only a couple of hundred words. It does work, but you need to be strict. I initially blogged almost every day for the first two months, and this was the time when I wrote my chick lit novel too. Since my blogging dwindled, so did my writing in general (in fact I slipped back into my terrible habit of not doing anything at all *shifty*). The whole reason I'm writing this blog today is because I decided to challenge myself to blog every day in October, partly because it's National Blog Writing Month, but also because I want to enter the NaNoWriMo next month, and this is an excellent way to get myself back in the habit of writing daily.

I also advise you to READ as many blogs as possible, especially any that are to do with writing in general, or are published by authors. You'd be surprised at how much you can pick up just by reading a handful of decent blogs every day, There's a wealth of knowledge out there, and all we have to do is read. *nods*

5 - My final piece of advice is to have fun. Seriously, enjoy your time at the keyboard (or with your pen, if you write by hand). If you really enjoy it when you write, there's a very good chance that people will enjoy reading your work.  And channel your emotions. Sometimes I am laughing like a mad woman when I am writing, or I am sniffing back tears. These are the times when my writing is at its best, and I'm pretty sure that what I am working on is more than half decent. If it seems like a chore, then your writing will come out flat, but if you are enjoying yourself, and have your emotions engaged, then your energy should  (in theory) seep into your work.

That's about all I can think of really. As I said, I'm by no means an expert at this writing malarkey, but these five tips are usually what I tell people if they ask me for advice. Hope some of you find it helpful!

Tomorrow I shall be talking about The Purple. Indeed.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Loopy Laptops

So it's 10pm on Thursday 14th, and I need to get something ready to post automatically for tomorrow (today, whatever) because I'm working an extra shift tomorrow (er, today) and it's an all-dayer. I'm also using a different laptop than normal because  - surprise surprise - my normal laptop is kabuggered. *mutters* I'm sick and ducking tired of having laptop problems... let me recap:

Laptop numero uno, well, this baby actually lasted me a couple of years before it started going loopy. First it was the overheating thingy, which was SO annoying because it would suddenly go off anything up to four or five times a day - and usually when I was in the middle of typing something. Grr. Then the keys went kaput, and we entered the boken keboa period. Ever tried typing without the use of half a keyboard? Not good. Six months or so I struggled before I finally - FINALLY got another laptop. Ok, so it was second hand - being on the breadline kinda stuffs up even the idea of a new laptop - but I paid £100 for it and expected it to last more than a flipping week.

A week?!?!?! Right before last year's NaNoWriMo challenge started, of course, so the timing was what I like to call Tara Timing (in other words ducked up).

It was months before I could even consider another laptop, so I had to use the hubby's computer for the interim (and also my son's computer, which was awkward for many reasons, not least the fact that the PC was in his bedroom, which is in the attic, and I don't like ladders (nor small rooms]). Hubby's comp is linked to the TV - a whopping 42 incher - and the strain of typing with such a huge monitor was awful. I'm a bad typist on the best of days, but my typo rate fairly tripled.

Anyway, back in February this year, we got two shiny new laptops (the joys of contract phones, yay!). Yay! I picked the smaller of the two ( a mere 10 inch screen), so the adjustment from the big screen was strange, but I got to love my little laptop all the same. I have everything set to how I like it, all my bookmarks are there, and it doesn't cause my legs to cramp because it is so light.

You know what's coming, right?

Last month it started switching off several times a day (bugger). It DOES boot back up, but only after resetting the bios thingy about six times (apparently, even though I reset it exactly the same way every time, it only likes it when it's on the sixth reset. Yeah, it's tormenting me, I know it is).

What is it with laptops?? What is it with ME and laptops? I mean, did I do something awful to a machine in a previous life? Maybe it's revenge. I don't know, I just know that I'm bluddy peeved at the whole thing. A simple, easy to use, working laptop. It's not a lot to ask.

I think they make them these days to last six months and that's it, just to make you spend money on repairs or an upgrade. But I don't have the money for repairs or a frigging upgrade, Stupid Laptop Manufacturers!!!

I live in a tiny house, have crappy wages, usually have more money going out than I have coming in, and any money that I DO have to spare on those rare occasions goes on silly things like, you know, clothes for the kids and food for our bellies.

So you see, Stupid Laptop Manufacturers, I would like to get a book finished and PUBLISHED so that I can earn some extra cash. In order for me to do that, not only do I have to curb my procrastinating tendencies, I also need a working laptop!! I was almost too scared to start using the last remaining working laptop in the house ( I now have three gathering dust in the corner, plus the son's computer is naffed too (I think I may have done it, actually *shifty*) in case it blows up or something.

I think they're allergic to me. Or me to them.

Anyway, I have three words to say to those Stupid Laptop Manufacturers, who, despite the alleged allergy problems, I'm holding responsible for my laptop woes:

Sort it out!!!!

PS - Blogger is being a pain again with the commenting section, so the same thing goes to you, Mr. Blogger - sort it out!

(Oh, in case you thought I'd steered away from the blogging challenge, this was Tami's final suggestion - a good old-fashioned rant *nods and pokes out tongue at Stupid Laptop Mnufacturers*).

Thursday, 14 October 2010

10 Things...

Tami's asked for a list of distractions that are responsible for me not doing what I should be doing -namely writing (or editing, you decide) - for her third request, and it is probably the easiest of my blogging challenges so far.  Look no further for...

10 Things That Are Very, Very Bad For Procrastinating Princesses

1 - The Television.

I'm not a huge watcher of television, but I do have my obsessions. I'm a nut for American stuff, from Supernatural to Fringe, from House to Eureka (and a lot of stuff in between). Luckily they don't all schedule at the same time of the year, but there are usually three or four serials that I watch weekly. Not a huge distraction by all means, but a distraction nonetheless. I'm also a nut for the X Factor (American Idol is the equivalent across the pond), and as we are currently in prime X Factor season, I am fearing multiple distractions for the next two months, though thankfully it only applies for a couple of hours at the weekend, so it is workable.

2 - My Job.

I only work sixteen hours a week (barring overtime), but they are all early shifts, so tiredness is a major bane of my life. Unplanned (but totally required) naps eat up several hours a week that could be otherwise more usefully occupied.

3 - Kids.

My son doesn't take a huge amount of my time up as such, but quite a large chunk of my time is swallowed up with pointless arguments and the stress that comes with having a teenager under your roof. My daughter, although not quite nine, takes up even more time with her constant demands for attention, and her inability to understand that she is not the centre of everyones' universe.

4 - Confidence (or lack of it).

Sometimes I think to myself that what I have written is the pantsiest thing ever, and I wonder if editing it is really worth my while. Moods like this are not conductive to getting things done at all. Which leads me to...

5 - Mood Swings.

Yup, I get them a lot. My episodic depression is mostly under control now, but I still get days here and there when all I want to do is sleep, cry, or clean like a mad woman. I have no control over this and just have to go with the flow. Thankfully these days are getting more sporadic, and when I do get them, they only last a day or two at a time.

6 - Facebook.

This is a biggie. I check in several times a day just to be nosy more than anything, but if that was the only thing that distracted me, I wouldn't be worried. It's those silly games, they're a nightmare for people with an addictive nature (like me, for example). I'm talking about Bejeweled Blitz mostly, though the recent discovery of Vegas Nights (very similar to Blitz, but with the added bonus of tournaments) is proving to be as much of an obsession as those shiny gems ever were.

7 - Other Online Duties.

I moderate on the fan fiction forum over at HPANA, and though the site is pretty quiet now that the Harry Potter books are finished, there's still stuff to keep me occupied. We're currently holding our annual fanfic awards, and while I don't really have much to do at present, there will be votes to tally and posts to compose for the results. All new forum posts by members need to be skimmed on a daily basis too to make sure the rules are being followed and nobody needs spanking (or editing, as the case may be).

8 - Reading.

I read every day, and seriously don't see a time when I won't. This is a good thing mostly, but if I really get sucked in to a story, I won't put the book down until I am done. It's a nice habit, no question, but when the Reading Bug attacks me, it's not good for my Writing Mojo at all.

9 - Cleaning.

I'm by no means a clean freak, but one of my coping strategies for my recent descent into madness was housework. Dusting, polishing, vacuuming, cleaning the oven, scrubbing the bathroom.... you name it, I did it. Mostly to eat up the time (which seems to drag terribly when you are feeling down), but also because housework is incredibly mind-numbing, and therefore essential when you want to have a couple of blissful, thought-free hours

10 - Wikipedia.

I use Wiki a lot, mostly because I'm pretty clueless about a ton of stuff and often have to look things up. The problem with Wiki is that they have these lovely, lovely hyperlinks which can take you to magical places where you can find out even more (usually pointless) information. Seriously, it's like that seven degrees of separation thingy. You type in something along the lines of , ooh, I don't know, lets say Jensen Ackles for the sake of argument (*shifty*), and suddenly you are clicking on the link that takes you to the page for one of his movies. Then you come across another actor who interests you, and so you click on his shiny link too. Before you know it, you've clicked about twenty hyperlinks, and three hours later you find yourself wondering why you are reading about soap powder (or something else equally as random).

So there we have it. Ten distractions that usually make me fall off the Writing Wagon. And believe me, that's just the tip of the iceberg....

*is doomed*

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A Procrastinator's Plan

Tami is being very sneaksy with the suggestion for today's topic, because she just knows how terrible I am for not sticking to a plan and getting stuff done. I think she's definitely giving me a massive kick up the butt - which I direly need, no question - and forcing me to commit myself to a workable plan that will enable me to have my book ready to submit sometime in the next century or so. *shifty*

According to Tami ( who I usually listen to because she is a wise Watery Tart without a doubt), putting your plans out there publicly gives you accountability. Normally I would agree with this, but with me being the most lazy of writers, and with 'procrastination' as my middle name, it doesn't always work.

It definitely worked with last year's NaNoWriMo challenge. Announcing my desire to embrace the madness on my new(ish) blog page meant that I needed to keep going if I didn't want to look like a prune. I really shocked myself when I completed it, so heaven knows I probably shocked my nearest and dearest too.

However, announcing a plan of action on my Facebook page several months ago didn't work. My 'Five Month Plan' is way past its deadline, and I haven't completed all of the tasks by a long shot.

So sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't. Lets see what happens this time around....

Tara's Plan For Actually Sticking To The Plan That Will Get Her Book Published (otherwise known as Get Your Lazy Butt Into Action).

October 2010

Complete the October blogging challenge. Repeat after me: Writing daily will get you back into the right frame of mind. (Not really book related, but as a motivational tool, highly useful).

November 2010

Enter this year's NaNoWriMo. Okay, so this has nothing to do with editing and polishing my first novel either, but I'm hoping to finish the WriMo as before. With two books under my belt, it would be absolutely disgraceful if I didn't do anything with them, so hopefully this will shame me enough into doing something about it.

December 2010

Bad, bad month for doing anything remotely useful when it comes to writing and/or editing. Christmas sucks up all of my time, but in the unlikely event of finding a few spare hours, I will diligently read through both (*crosses fingers that there will be a second novel*) manuscripts and make some notes on what I like and don't like in readiness for...

January/February 2011

Yikes! 2011??? Anyway, New Year's resolutions will definitely be to work my butt off on editing and polishing Cardiffella primarily, and my goal is to spruce it up and have a readable book to send off to Burrowing buddies by mid February. In the interim, I'll work on my query and synopsis.

March/April 2011

Hopefully I will have gotten feedback from several people by mid March, and this is when I will undertake the final edits and what not in order to have a finished - ! - manuscript to send off to some select publishers that I have in mind.  First queries and sample chapters to be sent off by the end of April at the latest. *glares at self*

May 2011 will arrive at some point (obviously), and I really, really hope that I can get there with everything ticked off on my 'to do' list. Crossed fingers, toes, and anything else that might help would be appreciated, because I have a feeling that I'll need it.


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A Slag's Guide To Kairdiff

Oi oi peeps! Tami asked me to like give a virtual tour of me home city like, and I fort it was a perfect 'pportunity to get me some Taffing in at the same time. Bangin!

Oi Oi French clarts! Nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh!
I suppose the first fing people fink ov when they iz pictring Kairdiff is the castle, coz that's like probably the most famous fing in the city. It's open to the public like, fer a small fee, and you gets to like walk threw the halls and stuff, which is well wicked, and you also gets to climb onto the battlements too if you like, like, though there's tons of steps to climb, and you iz sort of knackered when you reaches the top. But issallgood coz the view iz bangin, and you can get alirrlebi of French Taunting in if you iz feeling the 'clination like, innit?

The reason we avs a hose ban in the summer like, innit
 A stone's frow from the castle is the Civic Centre, which avs Kairdiff University, the courthouses, and Kairdiff's main museum. There's like nice gardens and stuff too, wiv water features and everyfink. All this iz bang in the middle of Kairdiff, next to all the shops and stuff, so you can get in some wicked sight seeing and shopping all at once. Youknowzitmakezsense!

Shopping is bangin in Kairdiff coz we like avs a lirrlebi of everyfink all wivin spittin distance. We avs the big shopping centre ov course, wiv all the big departments stores and stuff, but then we also avs the quaint lirrle Victorian Arcades wiv weird and wonderful lirrle shops selling everyfink from vintage cloves to 'erbal remedies. And if you iz wanting sum fresh food and stuff, Kairdiff Indoor Market is well wicked coz it avs all your meat and veg as fresh as can be, plus loadsov awesum lirrle stalls that sells everyfink from books to kitchen utensils. Yup, shopping iz definitely a lush fing to do in Kairdiff.

I loves shopping I do....

If you iz wanting to relax, or just av a walk or somefink, you could visit Roath Park, which is only like fifteen minutes away from the town centre. Roath Park is well lush like, innit, coz it has bangin gardens to walk threw, a park for the sprogs to play in, and a massiv lake wiv ducks (that's ducks with a 'd', not swearing like, innit) and swans and boat rides and everyfink.

Ducking ell, where's all the ducks gone then?

Or if you likes to sowshalize and stuff, then the town centre has lots of bangin pubs and clubs you can visit; there's like one every few feet or so, which is like awesum, like, innit? I used to go clubbin all the time like, but that was yers ago.... *sighs* Nowadays I just go to me local pub.

Speaking ov, me local pub iz bangin. The Culverhouse iz about half an hour away from me 'ouse, and itz like the place you'll most likely find me on a Friday night. Me and me clart goes there most weeks if we can get sprogsitters, and sometimes we even take the sprogs wiv us if no-one is willing to be bribed.

Cheers, clart!

Back to the town clubs though, coz I was digressing a bit there, weren't I? After you've got totally pie-eyed, you iz definitely going to be wanting sum grub, and the only place to go when you are drunk in Kairdiff is our infamous Chip Alley. Caroline Street ( as itz properly called like) is basiclee a street wiv loadsov chip shops and kebab 'ouses, and on a Friday and Saturday night, iz like fullov clarts and clits lining up to buy bangin chicken-off-the-bone curry and chips, or massiv burgers and kebabs. Drunken clarts need greasy food! Youknowzitmakezsense!

Kairdiff Bay iz totally bangin
 But if you iz wanting a bit more sofisticayshun wiv your nosh, then you should probably go to Kairdiff Bay, coz that's like the posher part of Kairdiff and has nice restronts and stuff. Not to menshun the art gallery where me and me Burrow peeps had work displayed a coupla yers ago. *fondly remembers* Kairdiff Bay is also the place where they filmed the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood (I fort a bitov trivia might be ov intrest round abou yer like, innit).

Anywayz, that's like the end ov me virtual tour like, so I 'opes you liked it and stuff. If you ever visits the Kair of Diff, make shore you visit all ov these bangin places, coz you'd be mad not to! YouKNOWZitmakezsense!