So you have to be called Harry?/Reading

According to Jim Butcher – I’m a witch. I’d like that – I would have always liked it. My birthday is Halloween, which is the best birthdate in the universe, imho, and from my earliest memories I was always convinced I had to be a witch. after all you don’t get born at one minute past midnight on Halloween and not become a witch, do you? the Universe doesn’t work like that!  I waited and waited, sure that eventually someone would turn up and say, “You’re a wizard, Harry” long before Harry was even a glimmer in James’ and Lily’s eyes but no one ever came. there was no squashed birthday cake in my life. I mean, 31st July? what kind of magical birthday is that? some people get all the luck.

However, I MUST have some magical inclinations, as (as Butcher asserts in his books) electrical things simply die on me without me doing anything to deserve it. Granted, I do ride some of them hard, my playstation is on a lot, and my Laptop rarely gets shut right down, but they do tend to last. It’s other things, radiators, (only one working left in the house, so going into this winter with trepidation) coffee machines, laptop connectors – and who can forget the 12 keyboard kindles that went wrong almost as soon as I opened the parcel?

and today my kettle blew up. Just BLEW UP! no warning, just BANG. and I shopped today, so I’ll be boiling water in a saucepan for my tea for the next week and we all know that never tastes the same.

But, seriously – without PROPER MAGIC POWERS, it’s a bit unfair to have the latent magic blowing stuff up. come on, universe, cough up. powers please!

As for the reading section, I’ve finally started reading again, and by that I mean, NEEDING to read, rather than doing the whole cognative bullshit therapy make myself read which seem to have worked, despite my cynicism, who knew? for about a year I read for comfort, re-reading Jim Butcher, GRRM, Heinlein but couldn’t face anything not read before. then I started on Outlander which soured me from trying something new, to be honest as I gave up in disgust on book four. Last week I started on the Southern Vampire/True Blood series and I have to say, up to book 10, I was quite enjoying the journey.

Granted, Sookie wavers between Too Stupid To Live and Marysue, and she gets beaten up more often than I have sliced bread these days, but all in all, not a horrific read. the writing isn’t fabulous and the woman really really needs to step away from the thesaurus for gods sake. Book ten though “Dead in the family” is boring me rigid. Although I was sick to death of Sookie getting into PERIL at every available opportunity this book has been yak yak yak politics BORING yak yak yak so far and I wouldn’t mind having her duffed up again soon.

as to her relationships, I was surprised that she was with Eric, as the series concentrates on Sookie/Bill in the main, I dislike Book Bill with a vengeance and I hope to high heaven that Sookie doesn’t end up with him, I will be disgusted if she does. Eric (looking as he does in the series, in my mind)  is far nicer. Funny, protective and at times very sweet. The only thing that really grates on me though, is the way he calls her “My lover” e.g. “Hello, my lover.” This may be an accepted american expression, or viking, or something, but to a Brit it means one thing and one thing only: THE WEST COUNTRY. So Eric would sound like this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6SvV95u4F0

Nuff said.

Anyway, the reason I’m burbling on about reading (which will, I’m praying, take me back to WRITING) is that I’ve decided to read some of THOSE BOOKS one “should” read. Obviously read a whole bunch of ‘em already but I’m going to start with this list http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/100-novels-everyone-should-read/ and work down it. I’m starting with The Home and the World – I’ll keep you posted!

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Lucius and an Animals In Fiction Rant

I suppose I should be happy that at least I fancy blogging occasionally, even if it is only ranting.

First, Lucius. Not great news, but not lethal news either.He’s got hyperthyroidism and that means tablets for the rest of his life, probably. There is a radioactive injection which can knock it out in one hit, but I haven’t been offered that, so I’ll discus it with the vet when i go to pick up his tablets. How the hell i’m supposed to get him to eat a pill a day i have NO CLUE. He’s very savvy about Mother sticking it in his cheese/meat/egg whatever.

Also the pills are £40 a month which is a real problem, I have used the online Viovet before, so once I get the dosage sorted out I’ll research them for prices – the vets pills are horrifically marked up, the flea treatment they sold me was £27 and on Viovet was £9!!!! so, yeah. Rip off city. I know they’ve got to pay overheads and staff, but three times the price? Please justify that!

And as we are on animals (when are we not?) a short grumble about animals in fiction. SO MANY authors, including you, Diana Gabaldon, I’m looking at you!,

simply choose an animal to portray because it’s nice looking, or has a particular trait that stands out. With Gabaldon (apart from having wolves in Scotland in the Jacobite rebellion which is nonsense) it was SHEEP. Merino sheep. Perhaps she’s seen Merinos in America and thought, awww cute! (They do look like grumpy Teddy Bears wearing scarves, it’s true). BUT, they came from Spain and although they’ve been around for a while, the Spanish were hugely possessive about their animals and importation of Merinos was forbidden under pain of DEATH. So there’s no way Jamie’s sister would have had a personal flock in 1743.  There was some export internationally in the 18th century BUT these were royal beasts and the king of Spain sent them to other royalty. Not some two bit laird’s sister in Scotland!

Similarly (and I partially blame Hollywood/TV for this) so many authors love Spanish horses and they pick a famous type, such as a Andalusian and crowbar them into their books.  The Andalusian ’s history is fairly similar, they were famously guarded by the King of Spain and no animal was allowed out of the country except by his export – right up until the 1960s! So when I see the three musketeers galumphing around on them, i have a personal growl, particularly when they say how poor they are!

I was impressed by the new Poldark version though, poor Ross had some lumpy Roman nosed hunter to canter along the cliffs on and I was probably the only one who noticed the horse…. Open-mouthed smile

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No, that’s it, I’m done with Outlander/Lucius’ Health

I’m done. DONE, with Outlander. Half the way through Dragonfly in Amber and I just can’t read another word. And that infuriates me. I like to FINISH series. I even finished Dune. Yes, I did, although I was nearly sick to death by the end.

annoyedcatBut I simply can’t finish the Outlander series. It’s raising my blood pressure. There’s a WTF moment literally on every page, as Dan Brown Like, Gabaldon shoehorns a THIS IS A FACT AND I RESEARCHED IT AND YOU WILL KNOW IT TOO fact with not so gay abandon. The problem with these “facts” is that they are generally wrong—as I said in my last entry on the subject—and there’s so much wrong that I find myself checking up on every shoehorned fact just because I don’t trust her—and that doesn’t lead to restful reading. As i read mostly in bed these days, I like the experience to be restful and it ain’t, not when I’m yelling “WHAT????!!” every ten minutes.

 

Plus my lovely Kindle fire HD (thank you again G) which I love to pieces, is in constant danger of being thrown across the room. Perhaps one day I’ll get hold of second hand paperbacks and can try again when the only thing in danger will be the cats.

Talking of cats, Lucius isn’t well. I noticed a couple of weeks ago that his stomach was rumbling in the morning and stupidly I didn’t equate this with worms as I worm him regularly. He started to lose weight, and you know what it’s like with animals, it was gradual and one day I looked at him and realised how thin he’d become. I wormed him again and waited a week to see if he improved. Sadly he hasn’t so it was off to the vet today where I got a lecture on worming and flea treatment which made me feel like I should be a target on the RSPCA programme, then had to pay £130 for blood tests and worm and flea treatments. Serves me right. Evil pet owner.

So, he’ll get his results tomorrow, and they’ll know whether it’s anything medical like thyroid or diabetes or kidney or liver and in the meantime I’ll reworm him and hope for the best.

Fingers crossed, peeps, I lost Sevvie already, couldn’t bear to lose Lucius too.

2014-06-27 09.18.46

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there are no words

I know I should ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS read the pattern all the way through before starting knitting, but I never do.

I tend to knit one line at a time as the instructions go.

SO THIS!!!!!! made my jaw hit the deck. I had already knitted the first part (I’ve bolded for ease) when I got to the next part which then conflicted totally with the first part!

ARGH!

k to 11 st past first marker, bind off the next 46 st, leaving 11 st before next marker. When you bind off, work k2tog before you pass the previous stitch over, every second time, as follows: (K2 tog, k1, pass previous st over, k1, pass previous st over) until you have 11 st left on the needle before next marker.

i MEAN…. WTF?!

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and don’t get me started on Mr & Mrs Mary Sue.

I’m finding it harder and harder to read The Outlander series. Those who follow my Tweets (which, with the depression has been the only way I’m managing to cling onto communication with the outside world) will have noticed that the books have been making me grind my teeth. It is becoming a bit of a chore to read it, which is rare for me. For my sins, I’m a finisher, I’ll struggle on!

The book seems to be interspersed thusly:

1. cute verbiage between Mr & Mrs M. Sue which sometimes includes errors.

2. research errors

3. sex (I skip these so if there are errors there I don’t see ‘em)

4. some kind of peril which generally includes errors.

The actual story is JUST about dragging me along in its wake; It’s certainly not the kind of book that makes it a “can’t go to sleep yet until I get past this bit-page turner fascination type of thing. It’s all gone a bit dull as they loaf around in France attempting to change history (seriously, have they not heard of Paradoxes?)(surprises me, they seem to know EVERYTHING else from Latin to cypher breaking to eidetic memory knowledge of herbology)

But because of the catalogue of research errors** I’ve found SO FAR (I’m a quarter of the way through book 2), I find myself doubting every single fact that’s thrown up on the page. And that’s partly because the way she throws out “research” is so unsubtle that it stands out like a sore thumb and I find myself hitting the Browser button to check her facts:

Here’s a classic example, which had the steam coming out of my ears last night.

The bed itself was an oasis of warmth and comfort, equipped with goose-down quilts, huge fluffy pillows, and Jamie, faithfully putting out British Thermal Units like an electric storage heater.

The thing is, that sentence could have easily been described without the reference to 20th century technology – and Gabaldon probably thought she was being Oh So Clever and Anglophile by including a “British” referent.

But as she’s put in 20th century references to remind us that Claire is a child out of time WHY THE HELL didn’t she check her references? Granted, the internet wasn’t around when she wrote Dragonfly in Amber (I assume, don’t know the precise writing date, but heard that Outlander was written 20 years ago) but if you aren’t sure of a fact then don’t bloody put it in.

British Thermal Units, despite the name, is more of an American scale of heat. The British never fancied it for some reason and we use the Calorie as our unit. PLUS – STORAGE HEATERS???? They weren’t implemented into domestic homes until the 60s….

It’s (almost) excusable if there was no internet, although I don’t excuse it, because pre-internet editors should have caught many of these errors—I recall with grateful thanks and respect the grilling my editor at Running Press gave me over many many many of my facts in TRANSGRESSIONS. It seems to me that the editors of the Outlander series just accepted that anything Gabaldon wrote must be fact and that doesn’t say much for them. What I don’t understand though, is why these books haven’t been tidied up and re-edited?

It would certainly save me some enamel on my teeth.

I’ll TRY not to whine about the book any more. Although I can’t promise!

 

**SOME of the errors found so far.

Wolves in Scotland in 1743? Nope. The last wolf was recorded killed in 1680.
Claire compares many things to chipmunks. Where would she have seen a chipmunk?
They travel from Scotland “across the channel” in about 3 hours to France. I think she forgot an entire country was in the way!
Additionally, their friend “ferries” wines and spirits across “the channel” from Scotland. Sigh.

So many more, modern euphemisms such as “do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollars” which is more wrong than I can be bothered to say

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knitting and leeks

:D

if you caught my last blog you’ll get that reference. Have knitted two puffs this morning and for lunch there is roast chicken breast and buttered leeks. I’m quite obsessed with leeks at the moment – amazingly versatile and mean I don’t have to use onions. I use them in casseroles, have them buttered (chop leeks into inch thick slices, add a BIG dollop of butter, close the pan and simmer for an hour on a low heat), and I’ve used them in a lasagna instead of the pasta which works really well!

Bear with me, this blog–as promised–is likely to be dull: knitting, food, pets, TV, films for a while, but hoping that the mere use of the blog will spark something in my brain to get me able to open Word and have a look at the WIPs I have. I have at least 3, all of which I would really love to get cracking on, but my brain is so completely empty of writing it’s worrying. It’s like I’ve never written before, and when I do read something I’ve written I’m often baffled “did i REALLY write that? HOW?”

When they come to make a biopic of my life, this bit is going to be difficult to film. LOL.

I watched Interstellar the other day and was entirely baffled with it. Sadly, although it was 3 hours long I felt it actually rushed some moments which was ironic. It was really a film where I thought “there’s 3 hours I won’t get back.” I dare say it was hoping to be the 2001 Space Odyssey of its time but failed miserably in that respect. It was pretty much as baffling though and the robots were frankly silly–although quite useful — they would have all died pretty soon without them. Silly film and wish I hadn’t bothered with it.

Finally – if you use Dragon Cave could you breed some flamingos for me? Please?

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voices in the dark

So, here I go, pulling myself up by the fingertips, slowly up the sides of the hole I seem to have been in for many many many months. I’m making no promises as to “what I’ll do and when I’ll do it by” but as we all know, the journey starts with a single step, and if you never make that step (even if you have to make it several times…) you’ll never get to Elrond’s Gaff.

So, yeah. (imagine me making an awkward motion here, like rubbing the back of my neck or something-Disney heroes tend to do it a lot when embarrassed) depression. Yeah.

It is not nice.

If you’ve never had it, thank your lucky stars, pray to whatever being you believe in that you’ll never get it and trip happily away, keeping only to the sunny side of the street.

Never understood that phrase in reality until now.

If you have had it, well, you know where I’ve been. Or am. The jury is still out as to whether I’ve been let out or not, or whether this is merely day release for good behaviour.

Today, for the first time in – to be frank, I don’t even remember, and that’s the truth – I feel more like normal than I have for whatever time length was. If you get me. As you can probably tell, I’m not terribly coherent either, which is probably a side-effect of the depression and/or not actually speaking to anyone in real life other than about once a week. Continue reading

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Hello again!

Feeling itchy for writing and blogging; it’s still a chore  – and I’m having to force myself to do it, but there’s a deep down itch there which is pushing me online – and not just for Dragon Cave and Molehill. Castleville isn’t working for me, so I find myself at a loose end!

There was an interesting review of “I Knew Him” on Goodreads today. The reader was praiseful of the book (thank you kindly) but said some interesting things. 
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22896044-i-knew-him?from_search=true (having to put the link in full as stupid wordpress won’t open the link dialogue.)

“Did I enjoy it? Yes, definitely. It is cleverly done, it is definitely well written and at times funny. It is also kind of… shocking.

Did I like it? I’m not sure…..

…..the reason I don’t really like that book (I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to, btw) because I don’t want to be in that head-space.”

I think that’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said about my books and as an author it makes me feel so proud that I can make someone feel like that. Harry is probably the most charming protagonist I’ve written, but his head is not at all right. The reviewer makes some very valid points about eggs and omelettes.

Writing a sociopath can be enormous fun – I remember having a good deal of fun writing Harry, but I also found it draining. I don’t know if other authors get so involved in their characters but I do–and especially writing in the first person I have to–for all intents and purposes–almost become that person which probably isn’t very good for the brain!

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Who has a new book out?

Me! (Kermit waving of arms)

I’m really pleased to see this one out, and I really hope you like it, it was an idea I had in my mind for years – a reworking of Hamlet (in a way) but I couldn’t find the right angle for it for ages. First of all I was going to do the original play in the original time setting but from Horatio’s point of view but then thought, “nah, that’s just boring” as the ending was pretty well known! Once I plumped on a time setting for a new book the rest of the idea slotted into place and “I Knew Him” was born.

iknewhimhisres

It’s published by the wonderful LETHE PRESS (lethepressbooks.com) and the gorgeous cover is by Ben Baldwin, a man of talent. Check out his website. www.benbaldwin.co.uk

It’s a gay historical (big surprise) and is set in the 1920’s that rather over-nostalgic life-as-it-could-have-been idyllic idyll between the wars. The sun never set and the champagne never stopped.

Harry is at university with his friend, beautiful to his eyes and much beloved. Harry knows life’s limitations regarding his sexuality but he’s not really afraid of the future in that way. Mainly because he’s sure the future will go exactly how he wants it.

Here’s the first chapter – enjoy!

Chapter One
He walked into my study-room, and threw himself on the bed, as if he owned it. It was hard not to stare at him, so I didn’t even try not to. His shirt had pulled itself loose from his flannels, displaying a delicious portion of his midriff, and the first few dark blond hairs which led downwards to some of his nicer points.

“It’s a frightful bore,” he said. “But I suppose there’s no way around it. You’ll come, though?”

He had this habit, endearing and irritating by turns, of talking to me as if we’d been having a conversation, and I’d simply not been listening for half of it. How dare I be in a different room while he was having his portion of the discussion?

I put my pen down with deliberate effect as if to emphasise that I had actually been working, rare as that was. “If I had any idea of what you were talking about, I could say one way or the other.”

“The summer vac. of course. I’ve been summonsed home. It’s loathsome. Mother knows all too well that I wanted to take you to Paris. What does Somerset have to interest us, when there are the hidden decadencies of Paris?” He stretched out, like a cat, his arms well over his head, and more of his torso came into view. It was too much for one with as little willpower as I possess, and I threw my pen down on the table, and joined him, kneeling by the side of the bed and latching my mouth onto his skin. “Mmmmm,” he said, appreciatively. “That door’s not locked, you know.”

My tongue took a break from etching circles on his stomach. “The only chaps likely to barge in without knocking are Richardson and Gilbert. I can’t see either of those two dropping dead from shock discovering a couple of queers in my study.” I snorted with laughter at my own puerile wit, my mouth reverberating on his skin, making him laugh too. It was good to hear him laugh, it was a rare enough sound and one I never tired of hearing. “And I’m not entirely sure that decadencies is even a word.”

“Of course it is. It must be. Look it up.”

“I’m busy. You look it up.”

He leaned over and pulled my dictionary from the windowsill. There was silence for a minute or two, while pages rustled and I took outrageous—but not entirely indecent—advantage of his inattention. If I were a man more given to empathy, I might complain that he found it so easy to thumb through my copy of The Oxford Concise while I was taking such liberties with his person. But then, I was doing it mostly for my own gratification.

“If you do much more of that,” he said, his voice dusky with want, proving me wrong as usual, “then I’m not going to notice if the door does open, nor am I likely to care.” He pushed himself up along the bed and propped himself up against the bedstead, removing the temptation of his skin, to my very great annoyance.

I reapplied my arse to my study chair, and turned to look at him. “Why does your mother want you at home? I thought she couldn’t be happier when you wrote and told her you were buggering off—literally—until the autumn.”

He frowned, delicate lines forming between his dark, straight brows, and he swung his legs back over the edge of the bed. His flannels were delightfully creased, and it couldn’t have been just from our brief tumble. Somehow he never managed to stay crisp for more than a few minutes, and had been the despair of our Head of House from his first day at our Prep school. “She doesn’t say. Just how ‘jolly’ it would be if we all spent part of the holidays together. Her letter made me sound as if I were five. Really.” He came and knelt by my chair and tangled his fingers in mine. “You’ll come, though? I promise it won’t be for the whole vac. I’ll make sure we get time off for good behaviour.”

I snorted. “Good behaviour? You? Your family must have an elevated impression of you, if they think you are well behaved.”

“Oh, they do. Mostly.” He brought my hand to his lips, kissing each fingertip, his eyes closed as he seemed to be memorising each digit as he went. “A perfect little prince, that’s me.”

“You make me sick. And I’m supposed to play the part of your willing courtier, am I? God, what is there even to do in Somerset? Even when August comes you’ll not get me holding a gun, and you are nowhere near the sea. It’ll be deadly.”

“Oh, there are things,” he said, vaguely. Then after a silence-filled but passionate minute he said, in a husky tone. “What if I asked Gilbert and Richardson? If there’s all four of us, it won’t be so bad. If Gilbert takes his car at least we won’t be trapped in the slough of despond. Say yes, Harry. Please, say yes. I can’t bear the thought of being without you when we had so much planned together. Your mother is going to her family, isn’t she? You won’t be happy going to Scotland and having nothing but gillies’ knees to ogle.”

“Perhaps I have more than gillies’ knees, and more than ogling,” I said as acerbically as I could, but he was right, entirely right, damn him. Neither of us had planned to be with our families this summer.

I sighed in mock annoyance, although I knew that he knew I’d already decided to give in, and it didn’t need me to vocalise it, for his face broke into a sunny smile. “I’ll write and tell her. If she wants me, she takes you.”

“And Richardson and Gilbert. That’s a bitter pill, two bitter pills, for any mother to swallow.”

“Ouch.” He pushed himself to his feet, kissed me briefly. “You are quite the bitch, Harry, when you want to be.”

“And you love it.”

He didn’t answer that. He never did. I think he got a kick out of it, leaving me eternally uncertain.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Out in ebook now and in paperback soon. Please let me know if you enjoy it.

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Low carb chicken broth

for lunch – I’ve been making a portion a day rather than a big pot, because I’d eat more if I did that. The trouble i have is the animals all want some chicken and there’s not enough for them!

260 cal
FIVE NET CARBS

Butter, salted, 1 pat (1″ sq, 1/3″ high)
36 cals
0 carbs

Milk, 3.25%, 1 tbsp
9 cals
1 carb

tesco everyday cooking bacon 50g
140 cals
1 carb

Chicken Wing, 2 unit (yield from 1 lb ready-to-cook chicken)
50 cals
0 carbs

Celery, raw, 1 stalk, large (11″-12″ long)
10 cals
1 carbs

Garlic, 1 clove
4 cals
1 carb

Onions, small, 1 slice, thin)
10 cals
1 carb

melt butter, add onions, celery, bacon, garlic fry till soft.

top up with water season to taste add herbs as required

bring to boil, then simmer for at least half an hour (I give it an hour)

before serving, add the milk or a splosh of cream and stir in.

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