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When you have an alter-ego, or separate identity (non-dissociate), occasionally you have to work to slip into them.
I’m sure it sounds quite silly to anyone who doesn’t have ‘another’ name that they use regularly, but this year, I have really struggled to pull ‘Talia’ out of the mothballs. More than a few people who know ‘Not-Talia’, also know ‘Talia’, and may have trouble telling them apart – except for the tiny distinction, Talia writes the books.

Talia is the hyper organised one, she is the one making phone calls starting in September (usually) so that we have the space for our Write-Ins come November. Don’t get me wrong ‘Not-Talia’ can organise too, but she’s the party planner, and there’s nothing she loves more than a good party.

But this year… it almost feels like Talia didn’t move into the forever home with us. Or perhaps she just can’t face another mid-November. At our Kick-Off (which was yesterday) I normally remember to say ‘Talia’, but yesterday it was ‘Not-Talia’. Fortunately for me, everyone who was there was familiar with both of the people who live in my head.

In less cryptic news, I found the speaker with which I fill our Write-Ins with a particularly eclectic playlist. So, Yay for that! Now I just need to scan a couple of bits and get them to the nice lady at the library who is going to put them on the Jumbotron [aka The Cube].

I hope everyone else is more ready for NaNoWriMo 2018 than I/We are. See you Thursday.

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NaNo NaNo NaNo and Other Interesting Remarks

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First of all, please just let me apologise, ever so briefly, for the title of this post. I couldn’t help myself, but I love it. Don’t read too much into it, it’s purely for my own amusement, because apparently I’m a child.

I’m all set for NaNo, I just need to find the speaker, and pick up individually wrapped lollies – because it’s not sanitary to throw unwrapped lollies across a room.

Not sure how many of you have actually read Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but I’ve recently finished it for the first time. It was so good! But unfortunately, I can’t write a proper review for it, because I watched the 2005 film before ever reading it, and as such it has coloured my perspective. It was definitely good though, and I can absolutely recommend it.

I’ve also recently subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, on a trial basis, I’m not sure yet if I’ll keep it or not. If it saves me money, I’ll most likely keep it. I guess it’s going to depend how many books I’m reading using it, versus how many I’m buying. I’ll let you know if it doesn’t work out, I hadn’t realised that it’s a library-type service, which suddenly makes a lot of sense – sometimes it’s like I’m stupid, but really what happened is that I literally didn’t think about how it worked before.

One of my dear friends, who has been named by my son – Aunty Movie Lady – [guess how she chose to spoil him when he was little] has recently had a little boy of her own, and I’m officially way behind schedule on the baby blanket I’m making for her. So that is going to be my project for the week.

I’ve bought garden fertiliser, and given all my established vegetable plants a boost, as well as the yams I planted today. I still need to go to the garden supply store (it’s only about a ten minute walk from my house – so I don’t really have an excuse), and pick up at least one more variety of vegetable to plant, a girl can’t live on beetroot, carrots, yams, and herbs alone.

I had been planning to start saving (to go back to university to finish my degree) this coming week, but I think what I’ll actually do, is get all my vegetable seeds and accoutrements so that my vegetable garden will be established – which makes for very cheap, if not quite free food – first. I’ll the my parents and their ardent green thumbs fuss about the flower garden, as long as I don’t kill all the flowers that I like to cut and bring inside, I’ll be happy.

One of many projects that I have ‘on the go’ is progress toward zero waste living, aka my inner urban hippy. In this house we aren’t vegan, and while we don’t eat a lot of meat, that has more to do with the budget than genuine vegetarian leanings. But, we do use a lot, of [cow’s] milk, we have, in recent months, nearly tripled our consumption of milk – because I’ve been making smoothies-ish to replace the meals I haven’t been eating because of Nemo (though I’m on a treatment plan now, and I’ll know in a week or so if that’s helping). Research as always is my friend, and it turns out that you can make your own nut milk, and/or oat milk; so we’ll try switching over about half of our milk consumption to homemade oat milk, as it’s cheaper to make than almond, and I find (the bought variety) just as palatable as almond. I’m also making bulk buy bags, and I’ll start doing more of my shopping in person, for one thing, and with a number of trips to a number of stores, Binn Inn (bulk supplies) for the not so speciality items, Taste Nature for the speciality items and organics (if only I could buy more organics), and Vege Boys for the produce that I can’t grow, I even have cotton, reusable produce bags. Where possible, I want to buy without extra/unnecessary packaging, and as little plastic as possible. We’ve already switched to metal straws, on the rare occasion that we use them, and I’ve bought some second hand cutlery to make up little cutlery packs so that we don’t need plastic cutlery when we are out, and I have keep cup for when I have coffee out, but I need to get another one for Beastie. We also use wax wraps instead of plastic wrap, which we no longer have. Beastie loves his two, that he always uses in his lunch. To quote from an Instagrammer (whose name I can’t remember), and The Equaliser (2014), “Progress, not perfection”, but it only works if you keep taking steps, keep making progress. I can’t compare myself to other people I know who are further along the road to zero waste living, nor to people who are only beginning, and I’ve got to make it work with/within the resources that I have, and that are within my reach. I’m going to leave it at that, or I’ll risk a rant/preaching ‘thing’ escaping.
(^^^ see I told you about my inner urban hippy.)

As a little bonus before I go, I have a couple of literary food recipes that I need to get onto, from a book I acquired using Kindle Unlimited. They are high up on my to do list, but it’s been a long while since I tried any literary foods.

That’s about it for today, hopefully I’ll see some of you in a couple of weeks for NaNo Kick-off.

Love and kisses, Zaphod… I mean Talia…

Home Truths

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Did you know that although it’s been years since I wrote my first blog post, I had put it off for years beforehand? I put it off quite easily in fact, by asking myself one simple question: What could be so interesting about my life, my thoughts? I’m just like everyone else, only boring.

The truth is that I’m alive. I’m joyously happy, endlessly miserable, at my best, at my worst. I’m a single Mum, and I rock at it, and I suck at it. Some of the reason I write is to, briefly, experience living another kind of life, a more interesting one. I mean I got unbelievably excited over a brand new vacuum cleaner! I hate cleaning. I believe in myself more than anyone else, and I’m my biggest critic, and doubter. I’ve been too thin, apparently now I’m too fat. I’m beautiful, and flawed – they aren’t mutually exclusive. A friend and I were talking about when I create my own clothing, and I showed her the flaw in a black brocade and gold satin ball gown that I gave her (as it is now much too small for me), she didn’t believe me when I told her it was there. The thing is that something that is too perfect, has no personality; or perhaps simply not enough for me. Just in case you were wondering my personality is enormous.

There are bits of myself in my fictional characters, most of those bits are things that I perceive as flaws in myself – but somehow they aren’t flaws in my characters. Whether that is because I create perfection around the flaw (even unintentionally) or not, I don’t know. Maybe it simply makes them whole – if in need of editing.

So the truth of the matter is, life. Glorious, painful, shining, noisy, colourful, messy, wonderful life; absolutely makes you and me interesting, and important, and without a doubt worth writing about!

NaNo Shock

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I received an email from NaNo ML HQ, and was horrified to realise that I’m behind schedule. I’ve now mostly caught up, but I need to do a couple of things that involve actually leaving my house – which is only an issue because the weather can’t make up it’s mind.

But I’ve had the truly horrifying realisation that, not only am I behind, I am not super sure where some of my kit is. I know where my ML kit is – with the exception of the speaker – but not my author NaNo kit – which has the planning that I had been working on before everything made it’s way into assorted boxes. And of course NaNo Prep Season has arrived!

So I suppose that If I’m going on a hunt for my notebook with important story details in it, I should really get a wriggle on and actually find the fabric I need for my birthday dress…

 

“It’s So Bad! I Love it!”

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There’s this line in the movie RED (2010), you may have noticed it in the title.
Sarah reads ‘trashy romance novels’, as a form of escapism – the hero of the novel is often a James Bond/Jason Bourne type character. Frank reads along with her, but he’s using it as a way to understand/connect with Sarah.

As we all know, I too am a fan of the bodice ripper/trashy romance novel; I don’t consider it to be high quality form of literature – but they do practice the art of story telling, if on a slightly cheaper basis.

I read Falling From Grace by Noel Cades on Thursday. And I definitely subscribe to the title of today’s blog: It’s so bad! I love it! It’s one of the most unrealistic premises, but Cades managed to suspend disbelief and build a good story anyway.
In fact (and here’s my penchant for the trashy/bodice ripper) I was only disappointed that the characters didn’t manage to cause a massive scandal, I would have loved that. It was fairly well edited, which is great and I wished I saw more of it in that genre.

So, if y’all are into terrible, trashy bodice rippers about inappropriate relationships (this one is a little bit of a double whammy), then this book is for you! I really enjoyed it and can totally recommend it.

Sweet Treat Just for You!

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I’m back already, I come bringing sweet treats – and they’re just for you all.

The recipe for my Best Ever Basic Biscuit (like a cookie, not a fluffy, bread-like treat). It’s okay plain, but I provide several flavouring options so don’t worry.

Best Ever Basic Biscuit

Makes 25

  • 125g/4.4oz butter, softened
  • 0.25C sugar
  • 1t vanilla essence (imitation or genuine – both work)
  • 3T condensed milk (optional)
  • 1.5C white flour (this works well with a gluten-free blend)
  • flavouring (measurement below)
  1. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla, and condensed milk until light, and fluffy.
  2. Sift flour (and flavouring if appropriate).
  3. Mix sifted dry ingredients into creamed mixture.
  4. Roll tablespoonsful of mixture into balls.
  5. Place on a greased oven tray and gently flatten with a floured fork.
  6. Bake at 180C/356F for 20 min.

Cardamom Biscuits: 2.5t ground cardamom

Nutmeg Biscuits: 1.5t ground nutmeg

Chocolate Chip Biscuits: 0.5C chocolate chips, or 1C chocolate chunks (and roll slightly bigger balls – resulting in fewer biscuits)

Chocolate Biscuits: 2.5T good quality, dark cocoa powder, plus a little milk – if the mixture is too dry. Alternatively, you could melt 75g-100g/2.65oz-3.5oz of high percentage dark chocolate in the condensed milk, and cream it with the butter and sugar.

 

If you are wondering how this got filled under Literally Food, I got the idea for the cardamom biscuits from The Good Witch (which is technically TV movies and a TV series, but I won’t hold that against her.)

Call it atonement if you will. I owed you for being radio silent for so long.

Updates! What’s New. And a huge Apology – with a capital ‘a’.

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Guys, you are all the absolute best! I say this because I am the absolute worst. I don’t even know how long it’s been since I last wrote a post for you, probably about as long as it’s been since I posted a podcast.

It’s all been a bit of an adjustment the last few months. I’ve moved into my forever home, which is very exciting. It’s been about three and a half months since we moved in, and we have mostly stopped unpacking – not that we have finished, we’ve reached the point where we don’t really unpack any more unless we need something that hasn’t found it’s place yet.

Beastie turned ten, and got three fish in a tank for his birthday – a collaborative effort with my parents, Mrs Teddybear, and myself. He loved it. I posted a video of him squeaking his excitement on my instagram (which I’m pretty sure a link can be found in my profile – but I’ll check).

We’ve had a pellet fire installed, in place of the open fire that was original, just in time for the coldest part of winter. It’s almost funny, because despite being the coldest part of winter, it’s behaving like spring outside. I have one of many rhododendrons in full flower, three jonquils in flower, camellias which are just getting started flowering, one tiny yellow rose (though they’ve been pruned fairly hard so I don’t expect any more until much, much later in the year).

I have a proper garden, full of flowers, and Dad built me a raised vegetable garden. If you do follow me on instagram you’ve almost certainly seen pictures of that – it has a reading bench! (Secretly, it’s also a kneeling bench for when I need to reach the middle of the structure – which is the back of the vegetable section, because my Dad knows me so well, in addition to the fact that certain plants prefer not to share their space, that he has sectioned it up for me.) I even have my herbs moved in, except for the parsley, it likes to take over. I did it myself too. I even have four fledgling strawberry plants in their own special section, and a row each of beetroot and carrot – those two are a bit experimental, it is still winter after all. But with any luck the raised bed and sunny position will keep them from freezing and they will germinate in the next couple of weeks. I even have some bok choy sprouting in a little recycled cardboard … thing inside the house.

Considering the fact that I think of myself as more of a black thumb, I’m ridiculously excited about my garden. The roses all got badly over grown, and have been pruned, and there are A LOT of weeds coming up through the white stones, and bark (depending on which individual garden). I’ve taken up composting, which will be great for when we start pulling out the excessive bulbs (most of which are starting to come up) next year after they die down.

I haven’t been doing nearly as much writing as I would like/need to. As I’ve been focusing on getting a number of projects off my bench, so to speak. Two of which are time sensitive, one is somewhat ongoing, and one I need better light (and all four of them are distinct projects). As for time sensitive, one is my party dress for my thirty-second birthday which is just over a month away, and I have made a dress form (with the gleeful help of Mrs Teddybear, and Dad – who built the frame for it which resembles the gallows from the spelling game: hangman).

I’ve been going to Stitch Kitchen sewing bees, helping with the Borrow Bags project. It’s fun, and social, and gets me out of the house once a week.

My health hasn’t been super awesome lately. I spent a night in ED, on my son’s birthday – one of very few times I was glad he wasn’t with me that week. I’ve invented a meal replacement shake/smoothie that works for me because whatever is wrong with me (and we still don’t know, even after nearly ten years) affects my appetite, some days, is nonexistent to middling. And liquid calories are better than no calories.

I’ve been reading a lot. The lack of energy from Captain Nemo (Peach has given my unknown condition a name) has left me with a lot of time on my hands. I can’t remember everything that I’ve read, though I have been relatively diligent about adding them to my Goodreads read list, so feel free to follow along. Not that my ‘To Read’ list has gotten any shorter with all the reading. In fact I’ve added books to the shelves, I even found some books that have been in boxes for years. I picked up a pretty good haul at this year’s 24 hour book sale – some of which were even research books for one of my story ideas. Ssshh it’s a secret, so I can’t tell you what it’s about yet.

But I’m super excited for NaNoWriMo this November and getting back to my Ode to Gorgeous Boy, that isn’t really poetry, it’s just poeticising a novel for descriptive purposes. I also have one book, my Vegas wedding one, that I’ve grown to hate, but I have to finish it before I can bury it. I have a lot more open stories on the board than I generally like. And I had hoped to finish at least one of them, but I haven’t had the mental energy.

In saying that, my mental health is pretty damn good. My recent stint as a hermit has more to do with saving money for my birthday bash than not wanting to go out. I want nothing more than to get out, and do things and socialise. But I go to the sewing bee when I can, and Mrs Teddybear comes most weeks.

In more ‘Author-y’ news, I have decided to stop the podcasts – which you may have noticed, if you’ve been following them. I just can’t manage it. And though, if you’ve been following along, it’s probably obvious that I’m no longer updating it; but I felt that you all deserved an explanation.

I’ve also made new friends on Twitter, if your really interested in meeting other writers on Twitter, especially if you’re a new writer, or a writer new to Twitter, the place to start is by searching up #WritersTable. It is a great group of writers, who support each other both on the writing front and holding each other up, in the face of any mental health/anxiety gremlins.

I need to post a lot more often than I have been, but every time I have picked up the laptop to write a post… the words just wouldn’t come. It was like I didn’t know what to say to you since I moved into my new home.

I have plans to write up a post with a couple of recipes, but maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Otherwise, you know as well as I do by now, I don’t post on a schedule, but as inspiration strikes. So I’ll see you in the near future with more ramblings from a writer.

 

A Rant on Bodice Rippers/Smut

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**R18 warning!

Let me begin by saying I like a good bodice ripper or smutty novella. The keyword there is good… which in this genre means:

  • Edited.
  • Not written as though the author was an over-sexed two year old.

When most people think of a bodice ripper, the first things that come to mind are Fabio, and Mills and Boon. That’s fine. It’s not great literature, but it’s not trying to be.

To anyone who reads a great many books (regardless of genre) the fact that I think anything which has been published should be edited – even if only once as is often the case with bodice rippers – will not come as a surprise.

However, I have just finished another ARC (Advanced Review Copy) in which the editor – assuming the manuscript ever saw one – should probably be fired. Which brings me to the second bullet point above. No self-respecting editor should ever allow a manuscript that appears to have been written by an over-sexed two year old go to press!

To clarify what I mean: the English language is always changing and evolving, but there are some words that, well only appear in this genre, and they aren’t words. See it’s cute when toddlers modify words so they can physically say them, but the more they listen to adults use their words properly, the more they learn how to say them properly.
So when writers of bodice rippers and smut use “words” like:

  • cunny, cuny.
  • va-jay-jay
  • meat stick, meat pop
  • kitty

I find it very difficult to take them seriously at all, never mind within the confines of the genre. Granted, the last two bullet points are actually words, but they are not words that should ever be used in reference to genitalia. Frankly, I’m not even a huge fan of the word ‘pussy’ in reference to female genitals; but I seem to be more than a little out voted on this one.

The people who are writing (and god-forbid publishing) bodice rippers and smut using the above “words”, are apparently adults. Predominantly adult women. And the next generation are learning from what is available now, I’m seeing more and more of this coming through the manuscripts that I read which are written by teenagers, who don’t know better, yet. However, there are more than a few teenagers whose manuscripts are already so much better than this – so what does that say about these so called bodice rippers?

Is this trend of using ‘not-words’ to describe genitalia a case of not growing up, or is it a case of puritanical sexual repression resulting in shame-filled acting out? Or rather, in this case writing out.

See, we know that when they use ‘not-words’ like “cunny” that they mean ‘cunt’, and are either unwilling to stand by this ‘dirty’ word. But at least it is a word. Yes, I even understand that ‘dirty’ words like: shit, fuck, and cunt; can make a piece less attractive to publishers – regardless of the context. If that is the case, and you feel yourself drawn to a ‘not-word’, or replacing the vowel with an asterisk, please, please, please, just invest in (or google) a thesaurus!

Please don’t use ‘not-words’ to describe genitalia, or sex. To do so, is disrespecting your audience. In five minutes of googling I have discovered: “The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries.”
It is quick and dirty research (not university calibre at all), but if you can’t find real words in a language of nearly 200,000 words, maybe you shouldn’t be a writer.