Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Me ... me ... on me aims

How's this for a meme?

Short term aim (6-8 weeks)
Medium term aim (6-8 months)
Long term aim (6-8 years)
  • Make a living through writing
Now ...
... What do I need to do to realise these aims???

Short term
  • Focus
  • Set priorities
  • Be disciplined
  • Aim for at least one chapter a week
  • If that's not happening, cut down on the blogging!
Medium term
  • Positive visualisation!
  • Maintain self-belief
  • Watch out for signposts - even when they crop up in unexpected locations
  • Be ruthless in banishing negative thoughts. It will happen!
Long term
  • More positive visualisation
  • Follow up every lead
  • Be open as to possibilities
  • Never ever give up!
  • Remember I'm already making a living from writing - just that at the moment it doesn't quite stretch to 4 figures per annum ...
There. Now you have a go if you fancy.
I'm not tagging anyone.
Tagging is s-o-o-o 2006, darlings.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Some bloggy stuff

Finally had time to visit you all. So much amazing activity out there!

Here are just a few of the things that grabbed my attention - all specifically re blogging:

Check out the Life of Riley - at 107, she's (presumably) the world's oldest blogger. (Thanks to Lee for this.)

Meloney Lemon for integenerational blogging - her mama and papa have joined the blogosphere.

Kateblogs re whether bloggers should have editors (!)

Fiction Bitch on some traditional blog bashing.

Lost in Translation to what might happen to you if you were blogging in Egypt.

Rashenbo for a spot-on joke (not re blogging but couldn't resist)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fair enough?

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Tomorrow is the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight - a celebration of the Fairtrade movement. Since the first Fairtrade bananas went on sale in the UK 11 years ago, there are now 200 products available that bear the movement's kitemark. More than a million developing world producers are now signed up to the scheme, which ensures that local farmers are paid above market prices and workers involved in production are paid minimum wages.

More than 5,000,000 people - farmers, workers and their families - in 58 different countries benefit.

There are critics of the scheme who claim, among other things, that farmers should diversify rather than rely on subsidised prices. There are also concerns that Nestle - one of the most boycotted companies in the world by ethical comsumers - has launched a Fairtrade certified coffee. Action Aid is also concerned that Fairtrade doesn't address the fundamental injustices in world trade systems.

However, Ian Bretman, director of the Fairtrade Foundation, says:
'It's too cynical to say that because you can't help everyone you shouldn't help anyone. The system is changing - partly because Fairtrade has encouraged many people to become more engaged with the need to reform.'

So - how much do you care about who benefits from that coffee you're drinking right now?

For further info check out Ethical Consumer.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

At last - a stand against the trafficking

You may remember I've posted before about the UK government's refusal to sign up to the European Convention against Trafficking.

Good news! They've finally agreed to sign!

It won't mean the end of the global sex trade in the UK of course, nor will it guarantee that women in this situation will be properly protected or that those exploiting them will be brought to justice.

But it's a huge and very important step. Would they have made it without the pressure brought to bear by those who cared enough to support the campaigns and make their feelings known?

According to Tim Hancock, the Campaigns Director at Amnesty International UK:

'Trafficking in people is a vicious and well organised crime which is causing untold human misery around the world and right here in the UK.

The UK signing up to the European Convention will help ensure that victims of this pernicious trade in people receive some protection when they escape or are rescued here in the UK.

It should end the uncertainty victims have faced in the past where they were not recognised as victims of crime and faced possible immigration detention and deportation.

Signing up and guaranteeing protection for these vulnerable people is the right thing for the UK to do.

Trafficking victims who receive protection may also be much better able to help the police with further enquiries and prosecutions.

We look forward to the speedy ratification of the European Convention Against Trafficking by the UK, and the implementation of all its provisions. We need to look at the detail of the government's commitment, which we hope will be more than the bare minimum required by the Convention.'

Hear, hear!

The Name Game

From the very beginning, I haven't been happy with the title of my 5th book in the Nirvana series.

I'd settled on Depth Charge, but it just didn't feel right - even though I'm over 45,000 words in ...

The plot of this book is based on local government corruption centred on the closure of a swimming pool.

But the theme is around blood relations - as opposed to the alternative family of the Nirvana Housing Co-op.
I wanted a title that somehow reflected both these aspects.

Depth Charge ... doesn't do it, does it?

But all the others I came up with either didn't feel right or had recently been used.

In the fertile space inside my head where I've been nestling for the past couple of weeks, I came up with the answer yesterday.

So - my new book will be called ...

... The Gene Pool.

It's great! It says it all and I feel really good with it.

According to silly fluff it scores a mere 26.3% chance of being a bestseller as opposed to Depth Charge's slightly more respectable 35.9%

But I don't care - cos I likes it!

Hello World!

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It's close to 3 months since the hearing in my left ear went AWOL, followed about 3 weeks ago by the right.

For the first few days I ranted and howled and felt generally miserable.

But I can't keep that up for long.

As usual, after the self-pity faded, I retreated into a semi-dreamlike state and chilled out inside my head.

I carried on doing things even when I couldn't properly participate.
I just stopped caring so much about it.
Today, for example, I accompanied First Born to a Gifted and Talented conference.

On the bus on the way home - EUREKA!
'Speak to me!' I said to FB with my eyes tightly closed.
Yes. It was true.
My left ear had cleared!

So I'm back in the world of the privileged hearing.
Thanks for waiting.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Please drive carefully

I'm going to come clean here - I have no personal axe to grind as I never got round to learning to drive.

But ...

Research by Frank McKenna of Reading University has revealed that women drivers are far safer than men.

  • Women adopt safer following distances
  • Women take more rest breaks on long journeys
  • Men don't slow down enough at bends
  • Men commit more driving violations
  • Males are more aggressive, not just as drivers, and they're coupling that aggression with the vehicle
  • Thrill-seeking - "Males are using the vehicle as a mechanism for thrill-seeking."
  • Emotional outlet - "Stereotypes are that women are more emotional, but males are using the vehicle itself to express themselves, to let off steam."
Apparently the only area where men are better than women is in manoeuvring.

But as the author of the research says:

'Precious few people die parking.'

Monday, February 19, 2007

What's in a Name?

This is a bit of fluff - fun though.

You enter the title of your book and are told what the chances are of it being a best-seller!

(Thanks to Dave at e-luv for the link.)

So ... the results are:

Nirvana Bites 34.8%

Trading Tatiana 55.4%

De Nada Nirvana 20.1%

Me, John and a Bomb 14.6%

Depth Charge 35.9%

Which doesn't seem too bad when you hear that the Da Vinci Code scored 10.2%!

Now hear this ...




Click click

Grind grind


Creek creek

ka-boom ka-boom ka-boom

Bloody tinnitus!

Just at the point you hear almost nothing of what's going on outside your body, every sound inside gets amplified a gadzillionfold.

(Note to self: must stop grinding teeth in frustration!)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Something's up ... or down ...

... with my email. I can't seem to send/receive. So if you've emailed me recently and I haven't replied, I'm not ignoring you. I just can't hear you!!! Doh!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Have you heard the one about ...

... the author who found a copy of his book in a cardboard box outside a 2nd hand bookshop?

It gets worse ...
... it was a signed copy.

It gets worse ...
... it was signed 'To mum and dad with love.'

Conversely, there's the one about the author who attended so many book signings, she had a cheque returned from the bank as she'd signed it 'Enjoy!' followed by her signature.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Vote Bleeuugh!

Heads up! Voting is now open for the Irish Blog Awards.

Our very own Cailleach, who blogs at Barbara's Bleeuugh!, has been nominated in 2 categories - Best Blog and Best Personal Blog. (No, I don't know either why she's only nominated for 2 ...)

So - if you don't know her already, click here. Then click here to vote.

Voting ends on 16th February . So what are you waiting for?

Pic plea

The Spanish publisher of Trading Tatiana has asked for a photo of yours truly for a magazine interview they've set up.

Trouble is the photo I emailed is apparently too small. They need one at least 3 megs. (Whatever they are ...)

I've sent them one Minx did of me on a Cornish beach. No makeup and every pore visible as well as every rogue hair on me chinny chin chin ... Pardon my vanity, but it ain't exactly flattering.

G and I are both photographers - but sadly have never got to grips with digital. And I don't have a scanner so can't use any of the photos G did of me that don't make me feel like I've just crawled out from under a particularly unsavoury stone!

So ... do any of the wonderful bloggers I've met in Real Life have any photos I don't know about that could fit the bill? You'd earn my undying gratitude ....

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Eat the rich

Following a throw away comment I made about obesity being a major problem in some parts of the world while in other parts, people starve, Atyllah has done an excellent post with all the facts and figures to back up her points.

Go here. Gasp. And then decide if her solution - to wipe out the human species - is the only one.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Feeling the force ...








I'm disturbed to discover I'm beginning to see the attraction ...

Oh dear. I never anticipated that!

On the other hand, I remember a phone call from my parents when they bought their first ever washing machine.
They sat side-by-side on kitchen stools and watched the whole wash cycle.
They only did it the once.

I'm hoping the Playstation experience will be the same.
For me at any rate.
The boys are a lost cause ...

Animals on the Amazon

Can you believe it? (Well, yes, you can probably ...)

You can buy publications on Amazon (and only on Amazon) that promote illegal animal fighting.

If this sickens you, you can go here and follow the links (scroll down) to email Amazon and let them know what you think.

If enough people do this, they may pull the plug on commercial grounds - since ethics obviously don't come into it.

Thanks to the ever-vigilant Atyllah for flagging this up.

21 words

In answer to Skint's challenge ...

Who are we?

Voices in the wilderness
Howling at the moon.
I can't hear you.
I'm locked in my head.
Can you hear me?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

More techno ranting

How many passwords have you got?

I'm betting you can't count them all on the fingers of your hands ...

And we're warned not to use the same ones, aren't we?

When I was run over by a Trojan Horse last year, the scumbag harvested all mine and I had to change the lot.

And since then I've got a zillion more (approx figure).

But we're also warned not to write them down. Ever.

So how the hell are we supposed to remember them all?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cookie Monster wants to know ...

Why is a cookie called a cookie? Anyone know?

I'm talking about the web tracking techy doobry wotsit that my scans flag up as being security risks - not the American biscuit.

Although, come to that, just why is an American biscuit called a cookie? Wouldn't a bakie be a more appropriate name?

But then they have something called bakes in the Caribbean - and they're often fried ...

Friday, February 09, 2007

It all depends on how you see it ...

I don't want to blog about being deaf. I really don't ... But it just sort of takes over ...

I was thinking the other day that dealing with intermittent deafness is the ONLY thing in my life I'm pathologically unable to put a positive spin on.

And then I thought that that could be seen as positive in itself ... the fact that it's the ONLY thing ...

No. No good. Still feeling shite.

(PS Not looking for sympathy. Just offloading.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

No News is NOT Good News

I promised myself I wouldn't whinge here about being deaf, but this really gets to me ...

The one thing I regularly watch on tv is the News.

But that's ok, isn't it? Ceefax and Teletext have subtitles, don't they?

Well, huh! And huh again!

Most times you can't even access the whole agonisingly slow system.

And when you do, you get

dhng ros place, ehhereppe flgrs nh yvPdenca brayos

I kid you not. That's for real.

Are they taking the piss? I mean surely, in these days of galloping techy progress, they could come up with something better than this?

On the other hand, this is definitely good news: The Skintmeister is back in town!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Spreading the light

Given the incontrovertible evidence about global warming, it's clear that while governments need to act urgently, and so do corporations, we are all going to have to change our lifestyles if there's to be any planet left for the next generation.

Here's a small change we can all make.

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Energy efficient lightbulbs last 6 years, giving 60 watts of light from 11 watts of energy, or 75 watts of light from 14 watts of energy.

But they are more expensive to buy. Even though they would save money on bills in the long run, some people may struggle to find the initial outlay.

Well, now there's an answer!

If you are on any of the following benefits (income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit, jobseeker's allowance, attendance allowance, disability allowance, pension credit, child tax credit, working tax credit) call

0844 8000 444 and quote reference RF INSERT

They will send you 2 x 60 watt and 2 x 75 watt energy efficient bulbs - FREE! They're from Scottish Power and Eaga Partnership as part of the government strategy to reduce bills and environmental impact. There are no obligations and no strings.

So now there's no excuse ...

Incidentally, can anyone tell me why the old dinosaur energy inefficient bulbs aren't extinct yet?

Born to Dye

Iridescent chestnut ... it says on the box.

Manky old aubergine ... it says in the mirror.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

New Blogs on the Block

Delighted to add the following new blogs to my luscious links:

Justine Crow often blogged here, but now she's also to be found here at Eddy Currents.
Expect witty watery tales.

John Ahearn was the winner of the recent Skint short story competition.
Check his words at Wordcarving.

Maht is a prolific commenter on many of my fave blogs.
He's got a competition running that looks HOT at The Moon Topples.

Clare Sudbery is not new to the sphere but she is to me.
Check out Boob Pencil. Talk about proactive! I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.
(Many thanks to Fessing Author for introducing us.)

Singing for a Change

Does this appeal?

Raised Voices Political Choir are holding a one day workshop open to everyone who wants to learn and sing 'inspiring songs for change'.

Saturday 10th February 10.00am-4.00pm at Somers Town Community Centre, 150 Ossulston Street, London, NW1 (between Euston and Kings Cross).

£10 waged (£5 unwaged) - includes veggie lunch and refreshments.

Or how about this?

Shot from the Lip have organised a season of spoken word events from 28th February - 27th April featuring poets, sometimes accompanied by DJs - always accompanied by a bar - and occasional open mic sessions.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Eh? Wossat?

Until further notice, I won't be doing any of the following:

  • watching tv
  • listening to music
  • listening to the radio
  • holding conversations
  • socialising
  • chatting on the phone
  • attending the writers' group
  • walking down the road without being paranoid that I'm not picking up essential signals
  • ditto re shopping
  • responding to people who talk to me fom another room
  • ditto re those who talk behind me
  • ditto re those who mutter, murmur or mumble
I will, however, be doing plenty of the following:

  • reading
  • writing
  • blogging
  • being irritable
  • appearing to ignore people
So, what's this all about? Well, you see my Eustachian tubes never grew up, with the result that they don't drain properly, leaving me ultra vulnerable to ear infections and sustained periods of deafness. Some excellent homoeopathy a few years back worked wonders, but that last virus proved too much for me poor tubes - I have about 5% hearing right now. This could last days or weeks before it clears.

If you only know me via the blogosphere, it will be business as usual. If you know me in Real Life, you'll now understand why I seem to be giving you the cold shoulder. I simply didn't hear you ...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Dad's ditties

I commented earlier on Minx's post about Spring with a ditty my dad used to chant to us when we were kids.

Here's another I've dredged up from my childhood archive:

In days of old
When knights were bold
And paper wasn't invented,
You had to wipe your arse
On a piece of grass
And had to be contented.

That's dad for you. At 92, he still proves a worthy challenger in my sons' burping contests and, until his heart attack last year, could run faster than I can - a fact my children took great pleasure in pointing out.

So what about you? Do you know any childish ditties with content of dubious suitability for childish ears?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mystery Women in Oxford

Mystery Women are holding an event at Blackwell's bookshop in Oxford at 6.30pm on 7th February. There will be a star-studded line up including Elizabeth Corley, Ann Granger, Adrian Magson and Michelle Spring.

You can subscribe to Mystery Women's review and info-packed magazine for £18 pa (£25 overseas). (Click on the subs link on their home page.) They're also on the lookout for new reviewers. So if any of you out there would like to see your reviews in print as well as on screen, what are you waiting for?