Monday, 31 December 2012

HELLO A Classics Challenge

November's Autumn - A Classics Challenge started in January 2012. The challenge was to read and comment on seven classic books. Did I achieve this? No, but had a great time reading.

December: The final prompt: Wrap up, A Classics Challenge.

This was my list.

     1- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
     2- Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
     3- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
     4- The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
     5- Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
     6- Dracula by Bram Stoker
     7- The Time Machine by H.G Wells

I read them all apart from Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I will read it, though, as part of The Classics Club.




Thanks, Katherine. I wouldn't have enjoyed discovering the classics as much without your challenge.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

HELLO Christmas Presents

I hope you all had a good Christmas.

These are two of my favourite things.


My Hubby got them from The Literary Gift Company.

Did you receive any gifts relating to your writerly aspirations? Do tell.

Monday, 17 December 2012

HELLO Is It The End Of The World As We Know It?

Apparently, on Friday 21st December 2012, or 21/12/12, or 12/21/12 (in US), it's the END OF THE WORLD. Really? Yes. For years there's been talk of the Mayan calender coming to an end on this date. Hmm.



I read that this is the 'Stone of Sun,' which represents Aztec cosmology, and not a Mayan calender. The Mayan do have a calender that shows the significance of 21/12/12. They say it's the end of and 'age,' and the beginning of another.

Friday will be the start of winter in the northern hemisphere; the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. If we reverse the pole, in six months its the summer solstice, 21st June, the longest day. The moon will also be passing the first quarter phase, showing half its face. 





So, the Milky Way, galaxy is going to align. If it's anything like the alignment of 3rd December it should be interesting.




The sun will appear to rise through the dark path, the galactic centre, in the rotation of the Milky Way at 11.11 GMT. Oh heck, another phenomena. 11.11 OMG!

Yes, indeed. The double digits have caused a stir amongst those who believe in synchronicity, where double numbers are significant and appear frequently on digital clocks. 


I must admit, this has happens more times than I care to remember. However, I've not experienced the opening of portals that the numbers pertain to. 

In conclusion: on Friday 21st December 2012, at 11:11 GMT a portal will open in the eye of our galaxy, where we will all wake up. It was all a dream. Or there's the other thing....aliens...or something else.

Maybe we should make a cosmic wish. What do you think?

This is my End of The World from a while back.

See you on the other side. Of that date.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

HELLO Where On (Middle) Earth Have I Been?

And, what have I been doing?

Well. I'm not saying I failed NaNo, because that is a negative word. I had a lot on to fully commit to the 50,000 word target. I have a story (Thick Skinned) which I started, and I know where I have to go with it. Most importantly, as it was a priority, I entered The Wind Know My Name to the Diverse Voices competition.

The other thing that I've been busy with is knitting my mum's Christmas present. Alas, she won't get it on time and have already bought her some presents till I've finished the project.

It's a wrap with cap sleeves, made in wool blend Aran. when completed it should look like this.

I'm half-way through the pattern. It certainly keeps my lap warm whilst I'm working on it.

I also decided to return to authonomy, because the feedback I was getting for The Junk Room was very useful. There's always room for improvement.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

HELLO NaNo Inspired

Last year I won NaNo and finished my first novel The Junk Room. Whilst researching some of the items that feature in the book, I was taken back to my childhood, and recalled the annuals I was bought every Christmas.                                                                                                                                                  
I had a look on Amazon for June and recognised this one as one I'd owned. I confess I felt overwhelmed and had to buy it. When it arrived, I was transported back in time; thirty-three years. Those stories that I'd loved and forgotten came flooding back with every page I turned. Bessie Bunter featured a lot in this issue.            

It was then that I suddenly remembered the Mandy annuals, and my favourite story. I had to find out which one it was in. I googled on and off trying to find the story about a girl (whose surname I remembered was Granger), who finds out her gran is an alien. 

In the mean time, I began making notes for NaNo 2012, and I was inspired by this favourite comic story. My story is called 'Thick Skinned,' a YA book about 14 year old Al (Alfie) who believes his Nana is caught up in some alien infiltration.

Eventually, a couple of months ago, I was lucky to stumble across this blog, during a search, and found 'That's Not My Gran.' Needless to say, I bought it and loved it again.

It would have been fun to find my name written inside the front page in the: 'this book belongs to...' section.

What's inspired you?

Have you, like me, remembered a gem from your childhood that has left you feeling happy?

If you could travel back to your childhood, what one item would you bring back?

NaNo? Well, I'm not sure I'll be a winner this year. At present I'm stuck on 15329 words. I will keep plodding on, but I have work 'things' to contend with. Writerly-wise, I'm sending 'The Wind Knows my Name'  to the Francis Lincoln Diverse Voice Children's Book Award 2013 (mentioned in blog post 31/12/11), so I'm busy with that too. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

HELLO The Classics Club - The Time Machine

This is the first volume, a classic collection of H.G. Wells, from which I have started The Classics Club read. My first of fifty on the list completed is The Time Machine (a re-read). You may wish to see this related post about the book that was included in my list for A Classics Challenge.

H.G. Wells (1866-1946) was born Herbert George in Kent, England. He worked as a draper's apprentice and pupil-teacher before winning a scholarship to the Normal School of Science, under the tutelage of T.H. Huxley ('Darwin's Bulldog' - a mouthpiece for his theory of evolution).
H.G. WELLS IN 1890

 His love of books and writing stem from a childhood accident (1874), leaving him with a broken leg and bed-bound . He immersed himself in books brought to him by his father from the local library, and by which he was able to explore other worlds and lives. Later, he had access to the library of Uppark, a country house where his mother worked and the family were able to live. Here he read the classics: Plato's Republic and More's Utopia.

He took an interest in socialism through the Fabian Society and became a founder of The Science School Journal, where he brought up issues concerning literature and society. It was in this journal that the first version of The Time Machine was published under the title, The Chronic Argonauts. 

Along side Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback, H.G. Well was known as 'The Father of Science Fiction.'

The MC is known as The Time Traveller who travels in his machine into the future; a world inhabited by a contrasting race of beings. Above live the Eloi, a gentle and naive group who live amongst the ruins of the past and live on fruit. Below are the Morlocks ape-like beings who live in the dark amongst machinery that allows those above to thrive. He befriends an Eloi, Weena, and they go in search of his lost time machine. 

After travel yet further into the future, The Time Traveller return to relate his adventures to a disbelieving group of diners at his home, where the story begins.

I have read and enjoyed this book several times since I was given it as a child. One of the things I love about The Time Machine is the Victorian/sci-fi mix. We think of science fiction as as a modern idea, or something springing from the 'foo-fighters' spotted in World War ll and later UFO's, etc. Our classic writers were imaging the future including E.M. Forster who wrote a brilliant sc-fi short fiction: The Machine Stops.

This is a story about a time traveller, but it also has a message regarding society, religion, morality amongst other themes, stemming from Wells's interests socialism, eugenics and a world state. By time travelling, Wells is showing us how humans have evolved as race. And with a lot of science fiction, this one leaves you thinking 'what if?'

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

HELLO The Classics Club - The Hobbit

The Hobbit was written in 1937 by J.R.R. Tolkein and celebrated its 75th anniversary (21/09/12). Incidently, there is a Tolkien week, which runs the week containing the 22nd of September. This year it ran from the 16th and ended on 22nd; Hobbit Day, the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

J.R.R.TOLKEIN 1892 - 1973

J.R.R. (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkein was born in South Africa to British parents, and when his father; a banker, died, his mother and brother moved back to England. His mother, Mabel was a great influence; teaching him to read and write and instilling him with a love of nature and landscape. His writing influences came from George MacDonald who wrote fairy tales and fantasy and later, Andrew Lang, who also wrote fairy tales.

He studied English Language and Literature and graduated in 1915, and the following year married his wife Edith before joining the First World War.

The Hobbit was written for Tolkein's children many years before it was published, and was highly acclaimed to his surprise. It is a fantasy story about Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, who has been volunteered to join a band of dwarves, in a quest to raid the treasures guarded by Smaug, the dragon. The adventure takes him and his travelling companions through Mirkwood where his character is tested.

My favourite part of the story was the beginning; chapter one: An Unexpected Party, involving dwarves, food and more food.

 And then there's Gollum, 'my preciouss,' the riddles and the ring.

Talking of rings. Tolkien was a close friend of C.S. Lewis (who is on my list of fifty), and he also had a magic ring in my favourite of his Narnia chronicles; The Magician's Nephew.

I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this romp through the woods, but the different characters and challenges that Bilbo and the dwarves come across made the story enjoyable. The adventure also followed the development of Bilbo's character from the quiet hobbit who enjoys his routine at home, to that of a courageous hero.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

HELLO Boomerang!

Back to blogging, writing and new commitments elsewhere.

My time with authonomy is on hold (for now at least) as there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything that I need to do. The experience was a good one with lots of feedback to help improve my MS. There were opinions that I could take or leave, but which I took on board positively. It's a big commitment though to read and review other writers work, as well as edit/review your own.

How do things stand on the writing front? Well, The Junk Room still needs a tidy up and The Wind Knows My Name will be under my wormly inspection.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

HELLO Hello Hello

I've been away a while, but still in the electronic sphere. After 'umming' and 'arhing' about authonomy, I decided I would upload some of my completed MS- The Junk Room on to:

Authonomy (from HarperCollins) is a community for book lovers, writers and publishers to gather, and discover the best in books. There is the editors desk, where the five top ranked books, at the end of the month, are read and reviewed. Books have been signed up, so I wouldn't think this was just a pipe dream, however, it isn't a regular occurrence. Reader reviews/comments are generally beneficial in helping writers home in on their work, creating a tight and polished MS.

I joined authonomy two years ago, but hadn't got 10,000 words to upload. I'd just heard about NaNo, but it was too late in the day to join. So the following year, I aimed to do NaNo 2011 and upload some of the completed MS.  As some of you may know, I completed the MS and have recently picked it up again after letting in marinade for six months.

Well, I've done it now and have been pleased with the comments, which have been very helpful. Of course there is a lot of 'playing-the-game' going on, but I'm getting what I want from this experience.

So, I've been over there, reading books or just chapters, giving reviews, as well as continuing to edit /revise my work. I will be coming back to blogging, but like many of you out there there's still the MS to tweek, which takes up a lot of precious time.

One of the initial fun things to do, whilst setting up on authonomy, was the book cover. This is my design that I created with the help of my daughter, who sorted out the text. Just a few things I had in the house that I photographed.

Below is the pitch/blurb.

Would you read this book? (YA fiction: paranormal/supernatural/fantasy)

A locked door. An empty room. And then there's Jack...
Sam is sixteen, and three months ago her life changed: her parents died. She has to move in with her sister, Karen, in her new home, in a new town. When Karen offers her the locked junk room as her den, Sam finds it's more than just an empty white room. Instead, she discovers a jumbled world of memories; of life and death, and something in between. 

And then there's Jack... 

There are things in the house that the previous owners have kept hidden, and one thing that has an influence over those who encounter it. When Sam and her best friend, Beth, find it, a young girl, Sally, shows them the demonic effects the dark influence has over her - she's not the only one. All she wants is to get home. It's not going to be easy when people aren't what they appear to be.

Monday, 11 June 2012

HELLO A Classics Challenge

The prompt this month for A Classics Challenge is The Visual Tour. This is a journey through pictures, which illustrates a scene or description in my classics read.

This month I whizzed through The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.

The following quotes come from Chapter Three where the Time Traveller begins narrating his journey to his dinner guests.

He pushes a lever and is instantly catapulted into a whirl of confusion; hazy images, speed, and the passage of time. The sun hops across the sky and the moon spins full to new. When at last he decides to stop, the Time Traveller is flung from his machine, in a thunder clap, and  finds himself on soft ground.

'I looked around me.
 I was on what seemed to be a little lawn in a garden, 
surrounded by rhododendron bushes, 
and I noticed that their mauve and purple blossoms 
were dropping in a shower under beating of the hailstones.'

'I stood up and looked around. 
A colossal figure, 
carved apparently in some white stone, 
loomed indistinctly beyond the rhododendron
 through the hazy downpour...
It was of white marble, in shape 
something like a winged sphinx...'

'Already I saw other vast shapes - huge buildings with intricate parapets
 and tall columns, 
with a wooded hill-side dimly creeping in upon me through the lessening storm...
The great buildings about me stood out clear and distinct, 
shining with the wet thunderstorm, 
and picked out in white by the unmelted hailstones piled along their courses.'

I will be reviewing this book as part of The Classics Club.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

HELLO God Save the Queen

Today is the Queen's Diamond Jubilee: a celebration to mark sixty years since her coronation. I wasn't going to post about the Queen, however, a funny thing happened the other day with Hubby's new iPad.


After hogging the thing for hours, I was allowed to have a look at it and investigate its features. Naturally, I went to the writing facilities and was surprised at how easy it was to type on the screen. Typing on the virtual keyboard resulted in the ironic sound of an old fashioned manual typewriter.

A great feature - well I was amused by it - was the voice recognition, where I could say something and it would translate it into text on the screen. Cool! It got the odd word or two wrong, and sometimes came up with its on interpretations. It got me thinking. What if...?

... I narrated an iconic song for the iPad to translate? Of course, God Save the Queen. I only know the first verse, so I repeated it a few times with interesting results.

Please be upstanding for the national anthem.



Sorry, Your Majesty.

Needless to say, I wouldn't advice creating your novel this way. Maybe I need to learn the Queen's English.

And so, the festivities are unleashed upon the masses with street parties to last four days.


Are you celebrating? Or watching from overseas? Or working like me?

Sunday, 27 May 2012

HELLO The Classics Club

I've spotted another challenge on Katherine's blog -  November's Autumn, where I'm currently doing A Classics Challenge. This one - The Classics Club - is hosted by Jillian at A Room of One's Own. What you need to do is read a minimum of 50 classic books in 5 years. Additionally, you need to: read and write about the books on your blog (as little or as much as you want); include a completion date; list a prize you might want to award yourself at certain milestones -  if you want to.

Here's my list of 50 classics that include: 49 novels and 1 diary; 28 authors from 1300's (Divine Comedy) to 1961 (Catch-22).

  1* Louisa May Alcott                       Little Women (1868/9)
  2* Jane Austen                               Sense and Sensibility (1811)  
  3* Jane Austen                               Pride and Prejudice (1813)
  4* Jane Austen                               Mansfield Park (1814)
  5* Jane Austen                               Emma (1816)
  6* Jane Austen                               Northanger Abbey (1818)
  7* Jane Austen                               Persuasion (1818)
  8* Anne Bronte                              Agnes Grey (1847)
  9* Anne Bronte                              The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)
10* Charlotte Bronte                        Villette (1853)
11* Charlotte Bronte                        Shirley (1849)
12* Emily Bronte                             Wuthering Heights (1847)
13* John Bunyan                              Pilgrim's Progress (1675)
14* Wilkie Collins                            Moonstone (1868)
15* Dante                                        The Divine Comedy (1308-1321) read - 2013
16* Charles Dickens                        Great Expectations (1861)
17* George Eliot                              The Mill on the Floss (1860)
18* E.M.Forster                              A Room with a View (1908)
19* Elizabeth Gaskell                       Cranford (1851-1853)
20* William Golding                         Lord of the Flies (1954) read - 2013
21* Thomas Hardy                          Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)
22* Joseph Heller                            Catch-22 (1961)
23* Aldous Huxley                           Brave New World (1932)
24* D.H.Lawrence                           Sons and Lovers (1913)
25* Harper Lee                                To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)
26* C.S.Lewis                                 The Magician's Nephew (1955)
27* C.S.Lewis                                 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
28* C.S.Lewis                                 The Horse and the Boy (1954)
29* C.S.Lewis                                 Prince Caspian (1951)
30* C.S.Lewis                                 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
31* C.S.Lewis                                 The Silver Chair (1953)
32* C.S.Lewis                                 The Last Battle (1956)
33* Gustav Meyrink                         The Golem (1914) read - 2013
34* Gustav Meyrink                         The Green Face (1916)
35* Gustav Meyrink                         The Angel of the West Window (1927)
36* George Orwell                           Animal Farm (1945) read - 2013
37* George Orwell                           Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
38* Samuel Pepys                           The Diary of Samuel Pepys (1660-1670)
39* J.D.Salinger                               The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
40* Mary Shelley                             Frankenstein (or The Modern Prometheus) (1818) read - 2013
41* Robert Louis Stevenson             Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) read - 2013
42* J.R.R.Tolkien                             The Hobbit (1937) read -2012
43* H.G.Wells                                 The Time Machine (1895) read - 2012
44* H.G.Wells                                 The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896)
45* H.G.Wells                                 The Invisible Man (1897)
46* H.G.Wells                                 The War of the Worlds (1898)
47* H.G.Wells                                 The First Men in the Moon (1901)
48* H.G.Wells                                 When the Sleeper Wakes (1910)
49* H.G.Wells                                 The Shape of Things to Come (1933)
50* Oscar Wilde                              The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) read- 2013

I should average ten classics a year (more or less).


Some of these books are rereads whilst others are ones I've always wanted to read, but never got round to. One of these is The Diary of Samuel Pepys. I love history and I'm hoping this will be extremely insightful.


I'm not sure how I'll be reading these books. Do I read in chronological order? Do I read the full set by the same author? Or just pick at random?


Before I forget. I plan to complete all this by 27th May 2017, on my 45th birthday! I'll have to treat myself to another bookcase.


                                        TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Last month I posted about editing/revising of my WIP - The Wind Knows My Name. Well, because I'd gone straight from first draft to editing, I decided I would leave it to steep awhile and let the flavour develop.


I'm now working on the first draft of last years NaNo - The Junk Room. It's been in a cupboard six months.


I read through it and surprised myself - in a good way - at what I'd written. 'Oh, yeah. That's what happens,' I was thinking, as if I'd never read it before. Had I really forgotten parts of the story? I'm not sure it's the right decision, but I'm in the process of changing it from third to first person. It's YA fiction and on reflection, Sam (Samantha) - MC - sounds better in this POV.

That's where I'm at. To be continued...

Other News? A win and a link.

Well, my name was picked out of a hat by Caroline Smailes, who was giving away e-copies of Qualities of Wood by Mary Vensel White, published by HarperCollins (digital imprint). HarperCollins is behind the online writing community - authonomy - where Mary and her book was spotted. Though I joined this site a couple of years ago, I didn't  upload any work as I hadn't written anything over the required minimum word count (10,000 words). The plan, at the time, was to do NaNo and upload it. 

                                                                            FULL CIRCLE                                                      

The hope is that the like-minded community will read my work and review it, and vice versa. Isn't that what writers require in exchange? Opinions? I'm in two minds about sharing my work on there, which is a bit daft when I've put my short stories on my blog for all to see. I guess it's because this is a novel (my first), and they tend to be precious, don't they?

What are your views on authonomy and similar sites? Have you joined any? If not, would you consider this an option?