Thursday, 29 March 2012

As it Happens

I should apologise on her behalf for the lack of posts from moi lately. Of course we all know it’s because I haven’t been allowed near the keyboard. She reckons I clog up the keys with my fur. What sauce.

Since she’s got herself into this sewing machine lark – between you and me and the mouse - she’s letting the writing slip. She might tell you otherwise, but that sewing machine has seen more action than her printer of late.

So far she’s made a dress, a baby’s blanket and two aprons (with a myriad of pockets – why do children need six pockets in an apron I ask you - unless of course it is to hide treats for Yours Truly?) and she’s now in the process of making a pair of trousers. She’s got a box loaded up with fabric, another box full of patterns and she can’t go to that Internet without a detour to the Remnant House.

She used to spend hours (not to mention £££) browsing on line for presents for me. Now it’s five minutes on Vet UK if I’m lucky; my powder, vitamins, chewies and food in the basket and Bob’s your uncle (or in my case the bloke round the corner). I dared complain about the lack of gift items in the parcels and yesterday something very worrying happened.

The postman arrived with a new parcel of dressmaking patterns and she showed me one which she said was for me. Who does she think I am? Barbie? Or maybe she's thinking of inventing a whole new character My Little Indy. Help! There are bathrobes with hoods, raincoats, T-shirts, jumpers and pyjamas. I have a feeling I’m going to start living a double life as a dressmaker’s dummy if I’m not careful.

Turned out nice again hasn’t it! She’s been taking me for my favourite walks down through the marshes to the beach.

Pity she can’t hold a camera straight. She took this one to show off my “clown” legs, well ha ha on her because all you see in this is the wonky horizon. And just because I have one brown leg and one white doesn't make me a clown. More sauce!

She took this one because she said it was one of her favourite things – sun twinkling on the water. And I always thought I was one of her favourite things.

Perhaps I am.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Lucky for Some!

Thanks to Patsy for tagging me with the lucky 7 meme. It’s all about the number seven – lucky for some. The tagged-one has to turn to page 77 of their current work in progress, go to line 7 and copy out the next 7 lines, sentences or paragraphs. Then 7 more people must be tagged.

Well I looked through all my works in progress and most of them don’t stretch to 77 pages – and the full horror dawned on me – I have at least twenty books “in progress” scattered around in various folders on my computer. In progress as in going nowhere, but as they are unfinished I guess they count as current.

I stumbled upon this one which happened to have enough pages! It’s written from the pov of a house husband who runs his elderly mother in law (Vi) and her mates round while his wife does her window cleaning round. So here it is, page 77, 7 lines from line 7.

She bustled into the kitchen, opened a door and took out a bottle.

“Vi,” I said. “This isn’t for making plants healthy.”

“Yes it is.”

“It’s weed killer,” I said. “And you put it in the man from the council’s tea?”

Violet suddenly became very interested in her feet. She kicked one against the other, then yelped because she’d hurt her sore toe.

I was stunned. It was only a couple of weeks since she’d killed the last two. I thought she’d got it out of her system, but apparently I was wrong.

“Vi,” I said. “Think very carefully. How often do you get this urge to kill people?”

This is another fun one to do, whether you have a book to promote or - like me - need a bit of a kick to look through those works in progress.

So now to pass the meme to 7 lucky people!

Della, Liz, Joanna, Debs, Jarmara, Linda and Suzanne - sorry if any of you have already been tagged, but your mission should you choose to accept it – page 77 of your wip, 7 lines down, 7 sentences, lines or paragraphs and pass it to 7 more. Over to you!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Can You Kindle It?

I was quite daunted the first time I put a book on Kindle. In fact it took me two solid days of faffing about to do something that really should only take a matter of minutes.

I did find various snippets of helpful advice scattered round Blogland and Caroline got me thinking that maybe I should blog about it.

I don’t know everything (far from it) but I know the basics.

I found I was stumped by daft things like whether you have to use double line spacing (you don’t).

Most formatting doesn’t transfer to Kindle and the less of it there is the better.

Use page breaks between chapters and column breaks to leave a space between a heading and the text or if you want to leave a space between blocks of text.

Step by step this is how I did it.

First get a Kindle account. You can use the same log in as for your normal Amazon account and get it all set up so it’s ready when you are. I can’t remember exactly what I had to do, but I do remember it being quite straight forward.

Most questions are answered on the Kindle site.

You will need to download a tool to convert your Word document into ebook format. I use Mobipocket creator. Kindle have their own program. These programs are free. You should also download Kindle if you don’t own a device so that you can preview your book on your computer. Be warned, it won’t look as good on the PC screen as it will on the actual Kindle.

Once you have it as you want it, save your document as “web page, filtered”.

Open up your Mobi (or whatever), open your web page document and then build. It is as simple as that, it really is. And it takes seconds to do.

Open your newly created Kindle document. You should see what your book will look like – and if you don’t like it or spot mistakes, delete it and go back to your Word document and sort out what you don’t like, then save again as web page, filtered.

But assuming you are happy with it log in to your Kindle account and get started.

Oh, a cover! Too cowardly to get into the business of getting one from elsewhere, I used photos. Fiddled with them in Photoshop and added text over the top. For The Mother of the Bride & Other Stories, I used a photo of my oldest grandson sitting on his aunty's knee at my oldest son's wedding.

Kindle takes you through it all step by step. You add your title, your blurb, contributors (you!) and your cover image.

You are asked to say whether your work is in the public domain or not. And choose the category you want your work to appear in.

You will have to choose whether to enable Digital Rights Management. This one gave me a headache, but from what I read it is best to enable DRM. This is the one thing you cannot change once you’ve published your book.

You can change just about anything else, but not the DRM status.

Upload your book. Preview it (this preview will give you a far better idea of how it will look). Save it.

Next you have to set your price. You can set it in US dollars and tick to have all other currencies set accordingly. And choose your royalty rate, 35% or 70%. There are certain conditions according to which rate you choose, but it is all explained on the Kindle site.

Finally you publish and in less than a day your book will appear on Amazon. You have a dashboard on KDP where you can access your book and change price, blurb or anything else. Changes are usually made within a few hours.

I’m not very good at explaining things, but I hope I’ve been able to help someone and if there is anything else I haven’t covered that I may be able to help with, ask in the comments and I’ll do my best.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Escape with Patsy

As well as being the most generous blogger I know when it comes to sharing news of competitions, Patsy Collins is also a talented and successful short story writer.

It is my great pleasure to welcome her here today to talk a little about her debut novel Escape to the Country and in particular about a certain canine character.

Thanks, Teresa! You and Indy already know dogs have as much character as humans (and often better ones). I know it myself. How could I not? I've had the pleasure of sharing much of my life with Jack Russells (Indy, I know they're little but they are real dogs!)

Perhaps surprisingly, I was slow to realise dogs can be proper fictional characters too. My writing tutor, June Hampson, used to talk about 'falling through the page' to where characters take on a life beyond our control. It sounded odd, but I soon saw it was true ... with human characters.

It wasn't until I wrote 'Escape to the Country' this happened with a canine. Tarragon, an English Setter, was intended as little more than someone for Leah (the main character) to talk to as she awaited rescue by Duncan a dishy tractor driver.

Tarragon hadn't read my outline so he helped rescue Leah, generally stole scenes whenever he could and insisted on huge quantities of chews and biscuits. He's so cute, I've managed to forgive him!

The Kennel Club Standard for the English Setter describes his temperament as "intensely friendly and good natured" and I hope I've shown those traits in Tarragon.

Thank you so much for visiting, Patsy - I couldn't agree more with you about dogs having better characters than some humans or the wonderful temperament of the English Setter! Good luck with the book - I’ve already fallen in love with Tarragon (don’t tell Indy) and can’t wait to read Escape to the Country.

Patsy has a Facebook page which you can visit here.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

I've Been Kindling Again!

I’ve finally finished dithering and put a dozen short stories on Kindle.

The collection is called A Friend Like Aunt Buffy & Other Stories and includes published and unpublished material.

With it coming up to Mother's Day and as she was the first person that really encouraged me with my writing, I’ve dedicated the book to my late mother – and it is somehow fitting that my lovely cover girls were both named after her in some way.

Saturday, 10 March 2012


I don’t know what to blog about – so I thought I’d post a photo that I took today instead.

What a lovely day it’s been. Warm and sunny. A perfect spring day really.

Indy enjoyed his romp round the woods.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Great Giveaway

One of my favourite blogs is An English Travel Writer and in case you've never visited, then why don't you pop over for a look. Jenny's posts are very interesting and include wonderful thought provoking photos.

And if you head over there now, Jenny is giving away a number of lovely things including chocolate! You have until 16th March.

Saturday, 3 March 2012


No, not that sort of inspired, but the answers to my last post (thank you so much for identifying my mystery plant, Jacula) has inspired me to write about the Oak.

We think ours is about 150 years old. It used to be part of a hedgerow with brambles and hawthorns. I probably used to stand in what is now our garden to pick blackberries whilst walking our dog Ben and my toddler daughter.

The builders moved in and began to hack chunks off the tree until the council stepped in and slapped a protection order on it. Thus we bought a new house with a very lop-sided and sorry looking oak tree dominating the back garden.

It stood up to the hurricane of 1987 and when we could afford it, we called in the tree surgeons to trim it back and have to get them back every 3 or 4 years. We have to get planning permission every time, but we now have a large, but nicely shaped tree.

It has been home to birds and insects.

And squirrels not to mention lichens and the like.

I do wonder what will happen if it grows as big as the Major Oak of Sherwood Forest.

Or Old Knobbley.

But that won’t be for several hundred years so I'm not losing sleep worrying about it.

A neighbour once suggested I “deal with it” by hammering copper nails into the trunk! Makes me shudder to think of it. That tree was around long before any of us and I hope it will be around long after we’ve gone, keeping its secrets and providing a home for some of our wildlife.

Here’s an interesting article about the oak, King of the Greenwood.

All I know is that I feel a sense of peace when I’m close to the tree - unless a gale is blowing. Not so peaceful then with the wind battering the branches! And not a lot of fun in autumn when it dumps its leaves, but on a hot summer day it is lovely to sit in its shade and pretend you’re not in a small garden, but somewhere peaceful and pretty… in Yorkshire perhaps, miles away from everything.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Any Ideas?

I planted this in my garden about 10 years ago and have always thought it was a climbing hydrangea.

I bought it as it was a shade lover and put it in a dark spot between the oak tree and the shed.

It has never flowered and didn’t do much at all until we moved the shed (well all right – it wasn’t so much moved as knocked down before it fell down) – then it grabbed hold of the oak tree and shot up at a rate of knots sticking itself to the trunk.

The leaves don’t look very hydrangea like to me.

Does anyone know what it is? I’m very fond of the oak tree and worried that this clinging plant might harm it. Or am I being daft? Over to you!

And as a thank you for putting up with my daft questions, here’s an RHS competition to win £1000 for your garden/plant/flower photo with additional prizes and a category for under 18s. There is an entry fee, but under 18s can enter free!

And a whole batch of competitions from the lovely Gardeners’ World Magazine.