Friday, February 29, 2008

Tagging the dog

"Look at my lovely new collar. I'm a laydeee, you know."

We didn't realise, until we read the small print on our new doggy insurance policy last weekend, that it's illegal for your dog not to wear a collar and name tag in public. Gulp. Molly did have a lovely red collar when we rescued her four years ago, but being a (not very ladylike) creature, she soon rolled in something unmentionable and it was ruined. As she'd been chipped, we decided to let her go au naturel - a sort of doggy naturist, if you like. She's got a neck to be proud of, we reckoned. She's not too proud to show it off. It's never gonna wrinkle like...ahem...some I could mention. Plus, it would be sort of...freeing.

Anyway, once we'd been enlightened it was a case of sod that, let's get down to Dogz 'r' Us. You can be fined up to £5000 apparently.

She seems to have taken to it, anyway, and has come over all regal-looking. The only thing I'm not sure about is the colour. Call me old-fashioned (go on, I don't mind) but I've always thought pink and orange clashed somewhat. Like blue and green, which should never be seen - without something in-between. According to my gran. Or blue and green should never be seen, unless it's on a gypsy queen, depending on her mood.

Funny how these sayings stick in your mind.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just an illusion

Funny how the eyes and brain mislead you when it comes to editing. Just reading this through, I noticed a couple of grammatical errors - and I'm still not convinced I've spelt grammatical right.

I once read a book called 'Angels' by Andrea Newman and it wasn't until months later, while packing to move, that I noticed it was actually called 'Angles.' Bet you had to look twice!

Just for fun (courtesy of have a look at these words...

The white bits spell OPTICAL while the coloured parts spell ILLUSION

The black is GOOD, the white is EVIL

Teach on top, learn underneath

The opposite of love

Ooh and here's another one, that's not too difficult to understand.........


Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy Mondays

Came across an article called How to avoid author scandals on the Guardian website, which made interesting reading.

Passing off a novel as a memoir, a la James Frey, seems the height of silliness to me. Fibbers invariably get found out, even when they're not famous. Doh!

Then there's that sticky subject...plagiarism. If you are going to quote someone else's work, at least acknowledge it somewhere in your own. As for dressing up 'in character' to meet your public...actually that sounds fun.

The bit about well known authors using a pseudonym, but having their own name on the novel as well made me laugh. I understand they're trying a different genre, but I'm sure devoted readers can make up their own mind whether to try it or not. It reminded me though, that when I was eleven I had a poem published in Judy comic, (I'm still dining out on it) and I decided that if I did become a 'proper' writer, I'd use the name Sylvia Rivers. God knows why. It made me sound about ninety even then. I thought it was terribly sophisticated. Maybe I could use the name in a story and get it out of my system?

Love the term sock-puppet, by the way. I may have to wangle that into a conversation this evening.

On another note, I received an award from Faye today, for my "good writing and wicked sense of humor" which puzzled me for a minute. Then I thought, what the hell? If that lady has been reading someone else's blog instead of mine, who am I to argue? Thanks Faye! I'm going to pass it on to moondreamer for her impressively long (and interesting) posts, and Lane 'cos it's the only one she hasn't got ;o)

Oh and if you've got time, I've started another blog with yet more self-indulgent wibblings and a-wafflings here. Why the hell I don't just Get On With the Novel and stop pestering you all, I've no idea.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What a joke!

It's Sunday, and I'm being lazy. Time for some writerly humour....

Q. How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Two. One to screw it nearly all the way, and one to give it a twist at the end.

A writer comes home and finds her house has burned down.
What happened?’ she asks her badly-singed husband.“It was awful,” he says. “I was cooking dinner when the phone rang and it was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the grill was on fire. It went up in seconds. Everything’s gone. I nearly didn’t make it out and the poor hamster...”
“Hang on, hang on,” The woman says. “My agent called?”

Q. How many editors does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to change it and one to issue a rejection slip to the old bulb.

If writers write, why don't fingers finge?

Ho, ho and thrice Ho. Never let it be said that I don't have a sense of humour.

(Okay, so I don't really get that last one, but there aren't many writing jokes out there, you know. I did my best).

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Here's a nifty-looking little devil, featured in this month's Writers' Forum magazine. There's even a twirly demonstration of it's fine features.

According to the blurb, it's particularly useful if you spend hours transcribing from a dictaphone, after interviews. I don't, although I have tried talking my novel into a dictaphone before now, while out walking Molly-dog. Until I realised I was in danger of becoming known as "the nutter who stomps around talking to herself and waving her arms." Doesn't have the same ring as "the yummy mummy from number 47." (Look, I can dream, can't I?)

Apparently, you can also take notes in a special notebook covered in 'smart dots.' (I'll take any excuse to buy a new notebook, even if the dots aren't that clever.) The pen has a camera which can scan everything you write and link it to the audio, (I'm quoting verbatim, here. I don't understand this bit), and later you can point the pen at a note you've made in your dotty notebook - eg 'Ideas for Novel' - and the relevent bit of audio will be played back. Yeah? No? What? Well, it sounds good anyway. You can upload everything to your PC, of course, and the pen also has built-in calculators and dictionaries, so if you write 'DEFINE stupid,' the answer pops up on a display on the side of the pen. Along with a photo of me. It's available next month and costs about £80.

I'm often tempted by gadgets - pulled in by their glittery promises of time-saving cleverness and magical properties - but they end up lolling in drawers gathering fluff, so I'm going to resist.

Unless the Smart Pen can hoover, load the washing machine, transport teenagers about and remove pet-hair from improbable places, of course.

I thought not.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Had one of those mornings at the library, where I felt like a newbie, rather than someone who's worked there for almost eight years. (Eight years?? Let me put that another way... 8 years!! Crikey. Where did that go??)

First thing, a customer asked me to recommend a book. Something to take on holiday. Not too heavy-going.

Erm...I said, eloquently.

Now you'd think working in a library, writing a weekly book review for the local rag, plus being an avid reader and all, I could easily pluck a novel off the shelf and say with some confidence, "what about blah, blah, blah, by Thing ? It's erudite, but witty. The author has drawn heavily on her experiences of shoe-shopping in remote areas, and I think you'll be touched. "

However, the first two books that sprang to mind were already on loan.

"Not much use then," she cackled.

"What sort of thing do you like?" I ventured, breaking out in a light sweat.

"Nothing too Mills & Boony."

"Ah. Family saga?"

"What's that?"

"This..." - I show her a book with a waif in a shawl on the cover.

"Oooh no. Too depressing." (?)

"Not really."

"She's supposed to be good." Points to a Marian Keyes.

"Oh yes, she is."

"They're too thick."

Inward sigh.

"Do you like crime?"

"As long as it's not too gory."

Christ. How am I supposed to know? I haven't read them all.

"Ruth Rendell?"


"Inspector Wexford?"

"Inspector Rendell?"

"...they used to be on the telly."

"Like Diazel and Pascoe?"

"Sort of."

"I prefer watching than reading that sort of thing."

"Horror?" I said.



"Too much like 'ard work."

"Feel-good?" I said, fingering a Catherine Alliott.

"Never 'eard of 'er.

"She's good though."

"What's she like?" Fingering a Barbara Taylor Bradford.

"Haven't read anything recently, but she's very popular," I said, fingers itching to slap her.

"It's just for the journey."

"What about a travel book? Like a memoir?" Clutching at straws.

"I know!" she said, eyes lighting up. "You do magazines here don't you?"

And off she trotted, mac flapping gently. I felt sad that I hadn't managed to persuade her, yet strangely happy to see the back of her.

"Excuse me," said a scholarly looking gentleman, as I approached the enquiry desk. "Could you help me find a bibliography of fiction published in India pre-1947?"


Ever had one of those days??

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Close, but no cigar

cartoon from

Well, I've thrown in the towel. The Novel-In-Progress just ain't working. I asked my bloggy friends for Help a little while ago, and you lovely lot confirmed what I already knew in m'heart of hearts. My plot - which seemed nothing short of brilliant at the moment of conception - just didn't have legs. Well it did, but they were short, hairy little buggers, not capable of offering much in the way of support. A further thrashing out of the finer points with Lovely Husband was the final nail in the coffin. 'It just doesn't sound interesting enough,' he said thoughtfully, and I couldn't argue with that. He's never wrong, annoyingly.

Plotting is a real weakness of mine. It's frustrating. I have a vivid imagination, and I KNOW a good story when I read one, and I read a lot, but while I get lots of Ideas (thank goodness I do...otherwise I might as well give up and train as a plumber - which would actually be really useful because we've just paid a fortune to have our shower fixed. I'm sure the chap just picked a sensible figure out of the air and quarupled it. Since it was put about that plumbers are rarer than hen's teeth, round here, they've started swanking about thinking they own the planet, and they could probably afford to...not that I hold a grudge or anything)...anyway, I digress. To the point where I've forgotten what I was babbling about. Oh yes. Ideas. Plenty of 'em. Trouble is, I can't seem to sustain them. I chuck all these balls in the air, think up some clever plot twists - even work out roughly how it will all end, then somehow everything topples down, like a house of cards, and that's when I start editing and tweaking and fluffing endlessly, trying to avoid the truth, because I know it's all going to end in tears. Mine. Well, not literally. I've toughened up a lot since an agent told me the plot of my First-Ever-Novel was 'tired.' I know how it felt.

I've had a lot of feedback over the last couple of years...mostly 'cos I kept sending that damn manuscript out like a matchmaker trying to fix up a difficult friend. I can write, apparently -unless those replies were the equivalent of that oft'used breakup line "look it's not you, it's me." There's nothing wrong with m'pacing, structure, dialogue or characterisation, it would seem. But those are as nothing, without a decent plot. You might as well try and bake a cake without using butter. Or flour. (With my track record, you'll know that I already have).

Anyway. It's really hard to chuck out what you've already written, which is why I carried on worrying away at it. In the process, what's actually happened is I've wittled my first two chapters into a New Story. Yes. I have another Idea. This one, dare I say it, seems to have better legs. Long and sinewy. Lightly tanned. Toned, even. Unlike my own. Not thoroughbred racehorse, exactly. More well-bred greyhound. It might even go the distance.

I won't hold my breath though. With my luck it'll keel over the minute the gun goes off.

(I plead guilty m'lud, to a blatant overuse of analogies in this post. Please don't fine me. I've had a plumber in recently...)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Celebrity Morph


I couldn't be Catherine Zeta Jones, or...someone gorgeous. Oh no. My celebrity lookie-likey is that flipping bloke that used to be in Lost. A bloke. Charming.

Try it, though. It's fun.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My love is like a WHAT?

Saw this in the paper - a piglet with heart-shaped markings. Awww. Very appropriate for Valentine's Day, I think you'll agree.

Let's gloss over the Sunday Roast element .........

What made me giggle this morning, though, was this Poem Generator I came across, while trawling through some sites looking for a suitable rhyming word for a ditty I was composing for Lovely Husband's card (I know, that's the kind of wife I am).

My favourite is...
"I felt the urge to put my feelings in writing
Because being with you was really exciting (note the word, was)
Never shall I kiss someone else's lips
Never will we make any boring trips."

Apart from those to the kitchen, or the shops or B&Q presumably.

Closely followed by...

"All of you is what I need
I count the hours until my love is freed
This poem has come to an end
I look forward to our next event."


It prompted me to try harder, shall we say.

But I'm not a poet and I know it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


A meme, from Womag Writer.
Five ways you raise your vibrations...(keep it clean, now).

Walk through fields of sunshine with Molly-dog
Or rain. Or snow, or hail come to that. Not wind though. Especially not when it's combined with rain. Or snow. Or hail. Especially not hail.

Play my guitar (badly)
Like writing, I find it totally absorbing. One day, I may take my talents to the underground stations of Old London Town, and you can all toss pennies at me.

Books have always been like friends to me. No offence to my real friends, of course. There aren't many situations where a good book won't make me feel better (once the jealousy has worn off).

Dance to loud music
I love dancing. I used to frequent nightclubs when I was younger, and throw interesting shapes on the dance floor. Now I just throw my back out in the living-room.

Spend time with my lovely family
It always reminds me why I'm in a bad mood what the point of everything is.
Well...not always. You get my drift.

Lots of people have already done this, so I 'm going to tag Mike Sarah and Sarah *G* on the off-chance they haven't. And I don't think they have because I do read their blogs, you know.

Look forward to your answers :o)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Paws for thought

~~Molly. She's wise in mysterious ways. ~~

There's an interesting post by Johnathan Morrow about the 3 writing lessons he learned at dog obedience school, which made me wonder if my very own Molly-dog couldn't teach me a thing or two about Getting On With The Novel.

I once decided in my wisdom, to eat like a dog after reading an article stating people could easily get leaner and fitter if they would only live like more their pooches - which I took to mean eating twice a day and walking a lot, rather than menacing the postman and breaking wind at inopportune moments. (More tea vicar?) Not a bad idea, I thought, typically grasping at straws.

Unfortunately, Molly chose that particular day to eat a tub of Flora, a six-pack of scones (I can see where she was going with this - shame she hadn't mastered the use of a butter-knife) and half a cow-pat as we tromped through fields of mud, before slumping queasily on her bed and glaring at me accusingly. Needless to say, she sicked it all up later on the living-room carpet. Behind an armchair, for maximum convenience. Nothing to be learnt here, I thought, scrubbing away grimly.

On a more constructive note, I have noticed that if Molly wants me to play Throw the Sock, she drops the smelly thing in front of me until I give in and throw it. When she senses tea-time is approaching, she rests her head in my lap and looks tortured until I get up and feed her. When it's time for walkies, she nudges my hand and makes funny noises in her throat until I cry, "alright, alright, I'm coming you furry tyrant!!" In other words, when she wants something, she blooming well persists until she gets it. So I suppose the moral is get rid of the dog ...
Perseverance Pays.

Like you didn't know that already.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

How Rude!

A friend sent me this list today...I can't think why.


1. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

2. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.

3. No one expects you to run- anywhere.

4. People call at 9 PM and ask, “Did I wake you?”

5. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

6. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

7. Things you buy now won't wear out.

8. You can eat supper at 4 PM.

9. You can live without sex but not your glasses.

10. You get into heated arguments about pension plans.

11. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

12. You stop trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

13. Your eyes won't get much worse.

14. Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

15. Your joints are more accurate than the weather forecast.

16. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.

17. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size.

18. The neighbours won’t notice when you have a party.

19. You enjoy hearing about other people’s operations.

20. You can't remember who sent you this list in the first place.

(Well, I can actually and may have to strike you from my Christmas card list)

Oh, please say t'isn't so I beg thee...

(PS - I've been fiddling with m'templates, in case you hadn't noticed, and find this one rather easy on the eye. Not that I NEED to find templates that are easy on the eye, you understand, my eyesight's fine - when I've got my contacts in or my glasses on, it's just...oh forget it.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The future of books?

What do you make of this?

Amazon Kindle - YouTube

Could it be the future of books? I can't imagine replacing the 'real thing,' somehow, but that's me all over. I would never want to see the demise of the local bookshop for a start - there's been enough of that round here as it is (ooh, get me!) I'd forget to charge the battery as well, knowing me. Wouldn't be any good in the bath, either - I'd drop the bloomin' thing and, unlike a book, wouldn't be able to prop it over the radiator to dry (not that I've ever done that, you understand) - but I quite like the idea of being able to simply download a book, wherever you are, and it's no more expensive than buying them in the 'normal' way. Although there's the cost of the gadget to take into account, of course.

Say you were stuck somewhere, at an airport or in a HUGE traffic jam, for instance (happens to me quite often) and there was nothing on the radio and you wanted a read to pass the time, but didn't have anything with you, it would be useful. (Unless you'd left it at home, obviously, which I definitely would have). Looks quite easy to operate too, which is a bonus.

Plus, if it meant someone buying and reading something I'd written I wouldn't give a doo-dah if they copied it out in biro, backwards, all over their body and read it in a mirror, quite frankly. Whatever butters your parsnips.

That's funny...I seem to have somehow talked myself into thinking they're quite a good idea.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


The main character (she's single, by the way) in my booky-wook is facing a dilemma, and to this end I would like to ask you my dear, occasionally unhinged (but in a good way) readers, if you wouldn't mind answering a question for me.

If you accidentally found out that the handsome stranger you were about to "bump" into on your birthday night out, was actually a male escort hired by your two closest friends, with instructions to "flatter you to within an inch of you life," how would you feel?

Outraged? Betrayed? Amused? Panic-stricken? Thrilled and excited? Sick to your stomach? Let-down?

Would you confront them? Go along with it and have a ball? Go along with it but vow to get your own back?

Also, is this something you would EVER do for a single friend who was still seriously off men, two years after a disastrous relationship ended - assuming she's spurned all "normal" attempts at setting her up with friends and colleagues etc??

I really need you to write my book for me some feedback here, because if it doesn't make sense it needs to go, basically. (No pressure then - Ed).

So, if you've got a second, I would most 'umbly appreciate your help (I'll stop grovelling now).

It's over to you...

Ooh, and there's another lovely award going round (makes it sound like a virus) which Lane has kindly passed on to me, among others, (I feel unfairly spoilt, I must say) with instructions to pass it on to TEN other people, which is nice actually, as so many of you deserve it. Yes I'm still grovelling, but I mean it, goddamm you! So, bearing in mind lots of people have already been handed it, I'm going to pass the award of excellence to... A.Writer CallyTaylor Alis Spiral Skies Leigh Mike Maddie Sarah *G* and Poetess.
Erm, in all the excitement, with your lovely awards and everything, don't forget I need HELP over here, will you now??? Good :0)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Things that make you go hmmm...

What Karen Means
You are a seeker of knowledge, and you have learned many things in your life.
You are also a keeper of knowledge - meaning you don't spill secrets or spread gossip.
People sometimes think you're snobby or aloof, but you're just too deep in thought to pay attention to them.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.
You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

Well - I'll own the good bits. Not sure about the paranoia and jealousy though (who said that? What do you mean everyone else's blog is better than mine??)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Pigs might...cycle?

Cycling Pig

Ridiculous. Disturbing? Tasteless, even.

But strangely... cute.

(Honestly, who thinks of these things??)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Nothing better to do?

This is completely pointless but ultimately harmless - I think. I blame my brother, because he started it.

Type your name and the word 'likes' into Google, like so...(for those of you who don't understand plain English - honestly I don't mean to be patronising...)

and see what comes up. And - er - that's it really. I told you it was pointless, for heaven's sake. You can't sue me.

The idea (apparently) is to find the oddest, the most random, the most similar or the polar opposite of YOU. My search results yielded a few gems -

Karen likes gambling - not true (honest).
Karen likes her independence - true.
Karen likes watching videos, eating crisps and belly-dancing - not at the same time, I don't.
Karen likes pop music and dancing in discos - I do!! Well, I did...
Karen likes scrambled eggs, with onions and cheese - not onions, definitely not onions.
Karen likes her rock wild, hard and heavy - oo-er!
Karen likes to use Omega coconut oil in curries - I would never eat a curry, let alone cook one!

Probably the least like me is Karen likes to run half-marathons - makes me sleepy just typing it.

Most like me - Karen likes spending time with her family (well I have to say that, don't I...)
and my favourite... Karen likes banjos. ?

I suppose a lot rests on what your name is, of course :o)

Well, that's ten minutes of my life I'll never get back.