Sunday, January 27, 2013

A to Z ahead

Blogging is languishing. I'm still visiting but not commenting as much as usual.

No, I haven't joined a cult, or been abducted by aliens, or been revealed as a long-lost member of the British royal family and forced to flee from marauding paparazzi, or anything like that.

My energy is being spent on work (very intense at the moment), family (teen and pre-teen dramas), writing (still making good progress), and critiquing for a fellow writer.

And I'm thinking about this year's A to Z.

After last year, I said "never again" because it took up so much time. It was fun, but all-consuming. If I do it again, I will need to be exceptionally well-organized much further ahead of time. And, yes, it was fun, wasn't it?

No! Resist!

Then I got an idea for a theme, which I won't reveal just yet, but which I'm fleshing out to see if it will fly.

Ah, heck, looks like I'm getting suckered in again ...

A to Z details and sign up here starting on Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Things that make me happy

I thought I would counter the ranting in my last post with a few positive thoughts. Because, for all the things that irritate me, I need to remind myself that there is much that makes me happy.

Examples this week...

Passing the 60k mark last weekend on Tiamat's Nest. Overall, I reckon I'm about a month behind the target I set myself back in August, which isn't bad considering it was pretty arbitrary and I had little idea then what lay ahead. I am very happy with what I've done. I just need to wrestle those last few chapters into submission.

Getting our Canadian passports in the mail. This feels like almost as big a milestone as citizenship itself.

And this morning...

Ali and I found this little note folded and waiting for us at the top of the stairs:

Dear Mom,

I love the new kitten you got us. She is so cute and playful. I love it when she climbs up the curtains and down again. It is so funny when she plays with her toy mouse and does a leap for it when you move it. It is so nice when you put her in my bed to wake me up.

from, Matthew

How cute is that?

Monday, January 14, 2013

What irritates you Monday

Delores, at The Feathered Nest, decided to designate today as "What irritates you Monday." I don't know what sort of take-up she'll have with this, but I decided to give her some moral support.

As Delores says in her post, she could probably write a book about the things that irritate her. When it came to dump out a few ideas (and I do want to keep this a short post, honest) I realized I very nearly have written a book already on this blog. Several of these notes will therefore link to earlier posts for a fuller rant...

So here is a short list of things that irritate me

Skirting around the word "Christmas": Come on. Last month did we all enjoy days off for "the holiday season"? Or was it, ya know Christmas? Be proud to say it! When the heck did multiculturalism and respect for other people's beliefs turn into allowing everyone else except us to celebrate openly? Fuller rant here.

OK, full disclosure: I don't regard myself as a religious person. Spiritual in my own way, but not religious. All the same, I was brought up in a Christian society and I regard it as an important part of my cultural heritage, and it peeves me that the reason for all those colored lights and trees and decorations can't be named for fear of upsetting some precious individuals who are nevertheless freely pursuing their own beliefs.

Telemarketers: There is a special circle of hell reserved for these scourges of modern society. Fuller rant here.

Of course, telemarketing is just one facet of the capitalist dream of using every conceivable opportunity to turn people into cash donors. I despise advertising in general, and the way Big Money expects to turn everything in life into an advertising opportunity.

Climate change denial: Just one word to say here: Ostrich.

Paparazzi: Kind of up there with telemarketers, and yet another symptom of the sickness that makes it apparently OK to treat anyone out there as a cash opportunity.

Automated customer service centers: All I want is some help, to get a simple answer to a question. Why, then, do I have to joust with a mechanical voice spouting an endless list of options that never quite meet my needs? Worse still is when the machine at the other end pretends it can understand English. I usually resort to hitting zero repeatedly, or raising my voice and sounding as angry as possible until I get a human being on the line. Just when did it occur to big companies that they could get away with treating their paying customers with such open contempt? "Your call is valuable to us." Yeah, right.

Easy-open packaging: You know, those tear-off lids that won't tear off, perforations that won't perforate. This is one major aspect of bad design in general, which I also deplore. Fuller rant here.

I'm sure I could go on, but that's probably enough for one day. Please feel free to add your own favorite irritants in the comments. And go and say "Hi" to Delores too.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Shy Scene Syndrome

Since my progress update on December 1, I managed to bring my off-stage characters back into the fray and things got moving again. Hurray!

I've now reached the point where most of the story is fleshed out, leaving a number of gaps to go back and fill in. The word count is creeping up, just not as fast as previously, and not as steadily.

Once I have a clear image to anchor a scene to, I usually find the words flow easily. But the scenes I still have to write are proving shy and elusive. I have to tease, drag, plead, or cajole each one out into the open before I can write it. Then it all tumbles out in a rush, only to come to a screeching halt at the next scene.

It feels like one of those awkward conversations, where there's a long silence before one of you makes a start, which sparks a few exchanges then lapses into strained silence once more.

It is slow and frustrating.

I may spend days trying to find a way into a scene. Sometimes it's a question of "what happens next", sometimes I'm stuck on dialogue, or setting. Sometimes it's as simple as realizing I was trying to write it from the wrong point of view, and switching to another character's viewpoint suddenly frees the logjam.

Did I mention, it's frustrating?

Have any of you writers ever hit this kind of roadblock, and how did you get around it?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Passing Time Cover Reveal

Today is the long-awaited cover reveal for Ellie Garratt's short story collection, Passing Time.

Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre

Nine dark fiction stories that may just give you nightmares.

A man lives to regret Passing Time. A father will do anything to save his son in Expiration Date. An author finds out her worst nightmare is back in The Devil’s Song. A woman gets more than the claim fee when she takes out vampire insurance in Luna Black.

In Dining in Hell, the Death Valley Diner becomes the wrong place to stop.

A serial killer wants to add another file to his collection in The Vegas Screamer. In Eating Mr. Bone, an undertaker could meet an unfortunate end. A con man meets his first ghost in Land of the Free. And will truth finally be set free in The Letter?

Publication date: 11th February 2013

About The Author

A life-long addiction to reading science fiction and horror, meant writing was the logical outlet for Ellie Garratt’s passions. She is a reader, writer, blogger, Trekkie, and would happily die to be an extra in The Walking Dead. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online. Passing Time is her first eBook collection and contains nine previously published stories. Her science fiction collection Taking Time will be published later in the year.

Author Links


Please visit Ellie’s blog on Friday 11th January, when she will be interviewing Passing Time’s cover designer, Ida Jansson.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lizard Happiness

I know this is the time of year when people like to reflect on the year gone by, or make plans for the year to come. I like to be different, so I'm kicking off 2013 with an award instead.

I noticed it's been a while since I handed out a Blog of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so today I would like to acknowledge Mynx, of Lizard Happy.

Mynx's blog always makes me smile. A celebration of multi-colored hair, unique slices of life, and vibrant artwork. Go check it out. It's a happy and beautiful place to be.

There is nothing to do on receipt of this award, no obligations, no questions to answer, no requirement to pass it on. Just acknowledge it and display it in whatever manner you see fit.

And this award is free for anyone to hand out. If you see a truly beautiful blog, feel free to bestow this award. You do not need to be tagged first. Just grab the image, say why you are awarding it, and let the recipient know.

BTW - I do have plans, or at least hopes, for 2013, but that will be a subject for another post.
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