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Showing posts from December, 2007

A New Love

I got a shiny, new laptop for Christmas. I'm not bragging, I'm just thrilled to bits. It's an item I could never justify buying myself, what with a fully working PC in the house and three children to indulge. Lovely Husband thought differently though, (he probably wants the PC to himself now I think about it!) and I'm now the proud owner of a gorgeous creature that fulfills my fantasies of myself as a Carrie Bradshaw type (see left), gazing wistfully out across Manhattan before settling, cross-legged on the bed and bashing out a pithy observation about life/relationships/friendships - pink nails dancing across the keyboard. Wearing tiny pants and a vest-top. Okay, so the reality is slightly (alright very) different, but it's surprising how inspired I feel by my new gadget. We've already spent a little time together, lolling about in bed, getting to know each other, which can only be a good thing, non? Even though my mum's staying this week, I couldn't re…

Festive silliness

"All the other reindeers

used to laugh and call

him names."

To put off rushing round the shops, glassy-eyed and panic tinged (I've run out of wrapping paper - aarrrggghh) I thought I'd have a festive browsing session instead (as you do) and came across this, which made me smile - not laugh you understand. I'm far too frazzled for laughing at the moment...

"Christmas Cake Recipe

1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of brown sugar
Lemon juice
4 large eggs
Bottle of Vodka
2 cups of dried fruit

1/.. Sample the vodka to check quality.
2/.. Take a large bowl, check the vodka again.
3/.. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.
4/.. Repeat.
5/.. Turn on the electric mixer.
6/.. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
7/.. Add one teaspoon of sugar.
8/.. Beat again.
9/.. At this point it's best to make sure the vodka is shtill OK.
10/..Try another cup ... just in case
11/..Turn off the m…

Soup Strategy

Look at my new soup mug. It's as big as my head. Only £2 from the store formerly known as Marks & 'Spensive. It was to be part of a cunning new strategy for Getting On With It, which would involve keeping a flask of soup to hand (preferably tomato) for top-ups, and a plate of homemade flapjacks - for energy and being Worthy - to stop me circling the kitchen with a lustful gleam in my eyes every ten minutes, looking for sustenance. Brilliant!
And I have to say, it went quite well yesterday. (Novelty value, clearly). On a bit of a high, I thought about turning the phone off as well today, to avoid further distractions, but worried that if the school rang with Alarming News I'd be forever known as The Mum who Turned the Phone off When the School Rang with Alarming News, so that wasn't a go-er. I nearly switched the radio off, but I wanted to know who was playing in the Live Lounge on Radio One so that didn't happen, and I rather like hearing Loose Women in th…


Donna Reed, spinster librarian
"It's a Wonderful Life."

Shock horror. The dress code at work has been “relaxed.” In other words, we’re now allowed to wear jeans, so that we come across as more approachable. Jeans!!! Librarians in jeans? What the hell’s going on??
The news has divided the staff. Half (mostly, but not exclusively the younger members) are thrilled to bits and have immediately swapped their hairy skirts for boot-cut denim, while the rest of us, (me included I’m afraid), have come over all old school, tutting and mumbling about respect and keeping up appearances, which is odd considering we’re keen to try and shake off the old, fusty, po-faced, smelling-of-lavender stereotype.

I’ve now realised what my problem is, and it’s nothing to do with presenting a respectable front (or back for that matter)at all. It’s about having an excuse to Dress Up. I live in jeans when I’m not at work, and rather like picking out a smart skirt/shirt/jumper/knee-boots com…

Another distraction

This is fun:-

It almost makes me want to write a fantasy novel.
This description, under Character Description Creation, made me laugh...

"This delicate, depressed woman has stringy strawberry-blonde hair, grey-green eyes and a small tattoo. She wears a violet tank top." I want her in my novel!

Or this one...
"This man is burly, with small dark brown eyes and kinky bleach-blonde hair worn in a mohawk. He is wearing a brown sweater and seems vague." (He's probably just met the depressed woman and doesn't know what to say).

I was quite taken with the name Maudetta la Frostheim, in the Villainess Name Creator, too.

(Ok, Karen, step away from the computer. You have Christmas shopping to do and you're not even dressed. Ed.)

How old is your name?

We were discussing at work today, how much your name can date you – specifically a name from the sixties. For instance, a lightening survey of the Teens (I can’t keep calling them children - the word implies something far more smiley and wholesome) has just revealed that there isn’t a single Karen in their whole school. Nor has there been for many a long year. There’s no Barbara, Sandy, Linda, Patricia, Susan, Jane, Wendy, Anne, Pamela, Dawn, Janet, Terry or Darren either. I wonder why they haven’t stood the test of time, in the way that Victorian names have? There’s always going to be your, what my grandmother would have called ‘outlandish’ name creeping in, like Storm, Mercedes or Haribo (ok, I made that up) – but most of those sixties names are dead in the water, baby. Apparently Arthur and Enid are becoming popular again, but Lesley? Or Beverley? Kenneth, anyone? Apparently not. I did consider calling my daughter after my grandmother, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. …

Can you tell what it is yet?

These are the very same fairy lights that I...not folded exactly, because I don't think you can fold fairy lights, but arranged, shall we say, last year, so that they'd be ready to drape elegantly around the Christmas tree with minimal effort, unlike previous years. So what in hell's fiery furnace happened?? The same thing that happens every year, by the look of things. By the time I've scrambled everything out from the back of the cupboard and into the living room, it looks like we've been burgled. I've been at them for about half an hour now, and could cheerfully throw the little effers out of the window. I was sorely tempted to nip out and buy one of those collapsible affairs that I've seen advertised. You simply pull the entire thing out of a box, plug it in and step back in relaxed admiration. Luckily, common sense prevailed. We can't afford such fripperies, plus I suppose it's traditional to spend hours wrestling with the damn things u…

Good fun

If you fancy a fast, funny read coming up to Christmas (who’s got time for reading??? – Ed) I’d like to recommend Alison Penton-Harper’s new book Housewife on Top, which made me laugh out loud. Not many books have made me do that, since Adrian Mole, many moons ago. Alison was a runner-up in the Richard and Judy first novel competition a couple of years ago (inhale…I’m not jealous at all, no really I’m not…..and exhale). This is the third in the Housewife series and, in my opinion, the best and you don’t have to have read the previous two to appreciate it.
Her characters are so well-drawn, particularly best friend Leoni, that you feel like they’re in the room with you which, I'm guessing, is what good writing’s all about!

But what does it mean?

Started to feel today that my writing is about to veer off into the wilderness, which is a tad worrying. Obviously, you should know what your novel’s about before you start, that goes without saying. According to legend, you should also be able to sum up the story in a sentence and try to stay focused on it while you’re writing, to keep you on track. Not the plot, as in A meets B, C happens and it goes horribly wrong, then D turns up and everyone lives happily ever after (blimey, I wouldn’t read that story would you?), but the theme underpinning the story; the meaning you want to explore, the message you’re hoping to share, the answer to the question that compelled you to write the sodding thing in the first place, so that a conversation with a Top Agent might (in a parallel universe where you meet Top Agents face to face) go something like this:-
Top Agent - So… what’s your book about?
Writer 1 - It’s a tale of self-discovery via the medium of reality television.
Top Agent – Hmmm…

Doggy distraction

How the heck am I supposed to concentrate, when every time I turn round I see this?

She's definitely trying to tell me something!


Well, I didn’t manage 50,000 words by the end of November. Not even close. However, I did do more writing during that month than the rest of the year put together, and that was the idea really. I like a deadline, it seems to focus my attention, and I’ve proved to myself that when I put my mind to it I CAN sit down and Get On With It, which begs the question – why don’t I?
My new strategy, I’ve decided, is reverse psychology. If I tell myself I can’t do something, I immediately want to do it - for instance, if I mentally decide not to eat chocolate for a day/week, (Hah, as if!) I simply can’t think about anything else and I always give in. So, following the same principle…I’m not going to do any writing AT ALL for a week. I’m banning myself from going to the computer, from opening up the BOOK file, from re-reading my work, from doing a bit of editing and from deciding what’s going to happen next…I SIMPLY WON’T ALLOW IT.

I can feel it working already.

Word weeding

A handy tip for editing, I’ve discovered, is to use Edit, Find and highlight, at the head of my document, to hunt down and destroy those pesky adjectives and favourite words I keep bunging in. I had a distinct feeling that I’d used the word just …well, just too many times recently and, sure enough, after firing it in, I found that it cropped up – well, far too many times, same as the word, rather, another of my favourites. To check for superfluous adjectives I typed in the letters LY and was directed, like a heat-seeking missile, to an overabundance of really lovely but ultimately unnecessary adjectives. Obviously, (oops, there I go again) you have to be subjective here and not just (aarrgh) start to dig them ALL out, like weeds, but it really does help me to tighten up the old manuscript.

Does anyone else have a well-worn word they have to cut down later?

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