I'm Back - Briefly
Hi everyone. Sorry about this. Rather than rope my husband into updating my blog every couple of days and lose the topic entirely, I've decided it's better if I take a break from the blog until I'm better.
Basically, I had an impressive allergic reaction a week ago and am still suffering ill-effects. I'm going to be nice to myself and let myself off the hook on my self-imposed submission deadlines because... well... what am I going to do if I'm successful? Turn up to the agent's office with an inch of aqueous cream on my face? Not the best first impression.
Plan B is now to take it easy until my body has calmed down and then come back to the blog.
This might take a while because, let's be honest, I haven't had an easy winter and I think this allergy is really just a symptom of Give-Me-A-Bloody-Break-itis. So, I'm going to give the old bod a bit of a break and be a lazy oaf until conditions improve.
I'll try to put up a short blog post every week or so to keep you in the loop and I'll upload your comments every two or three days so you don't feel abandoned.
Thanks for being fabulous followers and sticking by me while I sort out my hardware glitch!
I'm Back - Briefly
From the Pen Of The Hubby:
Thank you for all your kind and encouraging comments, and also thank you for the funny and informative "I can ______, but I can't _______."
I thought that Charlie's was most amusing! I have also followed Toad's advice and that Old Janx Spirit works wonders! I had considered using a Pan-Galactic Gargle-Blaster, but then thought that might add to the problems rather than solve them.
Wifey's profile picture is misleadingly tanned; due to lighting within the room on the day, and as a descendant of very white - in fact almost blue - Scots is very sensitive to sunlight. Hence, being outside on a particulary sunny day, her skin did not take kindly to this turn of events. It decided against straight forward sun-burn and opted instead for quite a dramatic over-reaction, complete with ordnance survey map peaks and valleys.
Much antihistamine later and Wifey is merely complaining about God-awful itching, but she has been told to steer clear of direct sunshine and bright screens for a few more days - personally I feel that this is a case of Bloggers' Burn rather than sun-burn! The Screen has been modified accordingly!
Anyhoo... Wifey's thing today is:
"What do you think of the new site/blog layout? (http://rebeccawoodhead.blogspot.com) And why has no-one been brave enough to comment on that site/blog yet!?"
"If you could be a library that stocked only two kinds of book, what kind of books would you stock?"
I am your Guest Blogger for the day,
The Good Ship Brain to Bookshelf is okay, but its Rudder has fallen off.
I am here to let you know that Wifey (Rebecca to the rest of you) is doing okay, but will be away from Bloggersville for a little while longer. Don't Panic - as the most succesful book ever to come out of the publishing corporation of Ursa Minor tells us - she is being well looked after by a hoopy frood who knows where his towel is!
Thank you for all your kind comments...normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
Meanwhile...Wifey dictates "I want to know what there is that you can do, and what there is you can't do in the following format:
I can _____, but I can't _________."
Rebecca can read up-side down, but she can't do long division.
Hubby can design/draw Celtic patterns, but he can't make soda bread.
These paws aren't made for blogging, and on that note I wish you all a goodnight!
Sorry to report I have indeed entered the realms of the unwell and will not be able to post for as long as it takes to find my way back to the world of relative health. Feel free to comment on historic posts if you like.
See you soon,
I've got a follower on my new blog and it's Charlie. Well done Charlie you win... well nothing actually. Bragging rights if I'm ever famous - how's that?
2009 So Far...
Well, the calendar informs me that it is now spring - although surprisingly Britain only gets 10 days of it. I had long suspected our spring was short but 10 days?!
The calendar declares that 'Spring begins' on the 20th of March but 'British Summer Time begins' on 29th of March. I'm counting the 20th and the 29th as days of spring but really that may be optimistic. There's no indication of when on the 20th 'Spring begins.' It's hardly going to begin in the middle of the night when the daisies are asleep is it? More likely around about 7 or 8 in the morning when the bees are up, so it's not even a full day. In fact, let’s forget the 20th. If summer begins on the 29th then it can't be spring then can it? We'll forget that too. Really, spring is 8 days then. A week and a bit. Not much of a bit. Basically, it's a week isn't it?
So, your boyfriend proposes. It's the happiest day in your life and you plan to marry the following year.
'Let's make it a spring wedding' you say.
'Oh let's do that' he gushes - or something.
How likely are you to be together the following spring given there's only a week of days available to you? That's only one Saturday. If you want to get married when most people aren't at work, you have ONE DAY to do it.
Any idea how bloody expensive that will be? Supply and demand, my friends. By next year, you'll be a broken couple. I'm sorry, I know you've just got engaged but it's time to face facts. You said yes to a spring wedding? Seriously? In a recession? Doomed!
If any of your friends are getting married within the next few days, be kind to them: they've had a tough year.
Anyway, back to the point. It's spring and that means you took your New Year resolutions a quarter of a year ago. How many have you accomplished? Hmm? Got that manuscript out of the drawer? Dusted it off? Sent it off to an agent have you? Hmm? (I sound so like that baby off Family Guy don't I?)
My plan, for the rest of spring (i.e. between now and the end of next week) is to draw up a list of four agents to send my newly edited manuscript to - and to newly edit my manuscript sufficient to send it to them. Who's with me? Post your own writing resolutions for the rest of spring in the comment section.
Oh... and check out my posh new blog too. http://rebeccawoodhead.blogspot.com
- From Brain to Bookshelf - my personal blog, charting my journey from ideas to publication - will remain exactly what it is. I will make random notes on writing on a budget, affording hot water, eeking out rations and so on.
- It will also be the bus station for the Blog Tour - all new Guest Blog outings will depart from here.
- Whilst out-and-out spam-ads and plugs are a no-no, this blog is also the place to tell other writers/readers what you're up to as long as it's relevant to the discussion. Text links to your own work/blog in comments are perfectly acceptable. The atmosphere will remain as a kind of chilled out slippers-and-biscuits living room / sixth form common room depending on the demographic on the day.
- The new blog - my 'author' blog - is my little daydreamy projection into a future in which I am a successful novelist. It is my 'official' blog for author news etc. At the moment, my 'authoryness' is limited to guest blogs and previously published things I can dredge up from my writing past. In time, I hope it will be the place where I announce the great news of my imminent book releases and Best Seller status.
- *Bribe Alert* Early followers on the new blog have a good chance of acknowledgement in my first book, since the new blog is my showcase to potential agents and publishers that:
a/I can write and
b/ I have a potential readership.
My side of that equation is to make sure I produce decent writing. Your side, if you want to help, is to convince the people who hold the reins to the publishing world that you like what I write.
So, here it is... the formal invitation to my soon-to-be (please God) Author Site. Invite many followers. Write many comments. Earn much good publishing karma.
(The Follower thing is at the bottom on the left.)
Hope you like it.
The article will go up here once the site has archived it. You can reach the piece by clicking here: How to Sharpen Your Literary Senses
Roll up for the Mystery Tour!
Ready to book your seats on the Blog Tour bus? Tomorrow - or later tonight if Hubby finishes the graphic in time - I'm going to put up a link to the next stop on the Blog Tour. Make sure you come back then so you don't miss the bus to the next mystery location...
At once, I knew our salvation lay in books and bulbs and seeds. The garden centre would bring us – the garden and myself - new, better, stronger bees and our future would be secure. If, whilst in this seductive retail Eden, I should happen upon some essence-drenched candles or succulent, hand finished chocolate treats that would be a fortunate happenstance but my quest was to recreate the perfect bee-friendly haven to usher in a new generation of fluffy, Gloucestershire bees.
Bombs are falling. The news is full of ‘if only’s and terror. A perfumed candle flickers hopefully on the table. The weather may turn against us. Guns may end us. Chocolate melts the sharpest edges from the pictures. A new, unseen foe may be pushing up through our society like an angry spot… but I have a garden. I have a little patch of rented earth and in that earth I can plant a new world. I cannot save the people dying alone in foreign lands. I cannot mend a society full of individuals each of whom has their own demons, their own pains, their own secret resentments but I can help a bee. I can make a little, safe society whose border control is hedge and Cotswold wall. There will be no vehicle pollution – I can cross the whole land in two strides – but whole communities will live there in harmony. A rainbow of bees will call it home and I will let them. I cannot fix the world but I surrender my garden to buzz and fuzz and pollen toes.
My husband was informed that we were at the brink of a New Garden Order. He listened.
A year has passed: the new country has been built and handed over, by mutual agreement, to its democratically elected government. An alliance of bees maintains absolute harmony over roses, snapdragons, jasmine and geraniums. Huge bumble bees levitate over a lawn which is now home for many months of the year to little blue bees. They have no queen but live in their own little homes in the ground and happily share space with their golden honey bee friends in the borders. When my husband mows over their roofs, they glide out of the way of the blades without a cross word.
Peace on Earth may be a long way off but until it comes, in this little corner of Gloucestershire we are giving bees a chance.
The comments list is getting WAY too long on the last post so I know I have to put something up and since so many of you are after new content, I can no longer get away with comment replies.
Thing is, life is a hectic kitten playing a furious game with a ball of wool. The wool is mohair, so bits of it are getting on everything - it's chaos over here! That aside; I owe you new content so, inspired by Bonnie's last comment, I'm putting up some creative work I did for a competition a little while back. Hope you like it. You're welcome to deep link to it, if it helps with content you have on your own blogs or you can cut and paste but if you do please link back to the front page here and retain the bit of info at the bottom. They don't have any hold over my copyright or anything but I think it's nice for them to be acknowledged.
Hope you like. Will put more bloggy stuff up as soon as. Not forgotten you, just totally snowed under.
The blog just turned three months old! Three whole months since I made my first step into the Land of Blog and I just got my blogging birthday present of my 20th follower - Adrienne. Very nearly 7 a month. Champagne all round.
Adrienne - I tried to comment on your blog but the function doesn't seem to be working. I have a major coincidence to share with you. Let me know when it's working again and I'll post it on your blog.
Right, well the blog can stay up all night and party on American time if it wants to but I'm sleepy so I'm going to turn in. Don't let it get drunk and do anything stupid. I'll allow gatecrashers if any of your friends want to come round but if the neighbours start complaining you all have to go home.
We’re in it Together
We’re all in the same boat: it’s sinking, but we’re all in it. This is the time to give thanks to your chosen deity that you are not a banker. You were born creative and with creativity comes inventiveness and resilience.
Your laptop is your life raft. As a writer, your job is not to stand on the sinking ship complaining that the brochure said it was ‘unsinkable.’ As a writer, your job is to chart the progress of the journey. The vessel may not be heading towards its intended shoreline – it may, in fact, be going down – but it is still on an historic journey and your fingers are the ones that can tap that journey out.
Why Write in a Recession?
Why not? This is a decisive moment in history and anything you write now will be valuable. Does that mean it will make you a millionaire? Probably not but it will certainly make you more wealthy. In a recession lots of bad things happen. People lose their jobs; creditors call in debts; houses are repossessed… none of this is good news. These external factors can affect you badly and make you feel trapped and fearful but none of them should stop you writing.
The things that trap us and make us feel truly hopeless are what William Blake called “mind forg’d manacles” and these, not the external factors, will have an effect on your ability to write. If you decide to write no matter what is thrown at you then, while other people are able merely to complain about what they have lost, you will be able to create new things: books; articles; blogs... Creation in the midst of destruction: that is true wealth.
Releasing the Mind Forg’d Manacles
Well, now we’re all fired up to write, and feeling great about our creativity and place in the scheme of things, it might be time to throw in a few practical tips.
The theory’s sound but if the manacles are clamping down or the raft has sprung a leak what then?
- Forget everything. Forget the money you hope to make from your writing; forget the collapse of the global economy; forget the endless to-do lists. Simply find a space to write and commit to doing so.
- Understand that the space doesn’t have to be a location, it can be a time. Give yourself a set period of time when you will not allow yourself to be disturbed. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a room on your own or a busy coffee shop. You have to decide that this moment is your writing space and it will not be disturbed. Once you’ve done that, write. Don’t edit it or criticise it. Let it flow. Let yourself write unutterable garbage. The point is to keep the pen moving or the fingers tapping. You can edit it later.
- Know that you are doing something important. I have read many letters from writers saying that they lack support. They frequently express a lack of confidence in their work because their friends or family members mock them for thinking they can be a writer. Tune it out. You know you are a writer. That is enough. If you act as though your work is important, your mind will pick up on it and make the time and space for you to write.
Even with the best intentions, it can be hard to focus on writing when you haven’t enough money for food or heating. You need to know that this is no excuse. It is perfectly possible to be living in subsistence level poverty, scraping by on benefits and still be creative. I have had two brushes with hypothermia over this winter and we can’t afford to go food shopping more often than once every two weeks, so I’m not writing from an ivory tower myself, but I’m in a far better position than many writers and I’m sure the same is true of most of us. Anne Frank was creative. What do we have to complain about? That said, here are a few tips to make the process easier.
Writing on a Budget – Tips
- Keep your food costs down by buying in bulk. If you buy unbranded sacks of rice and pasta and store them in airtight containers, you’ll save a fortune. They keep for ages so, if you find yourself with some spare pennies one week, stock up. Also, stock up on vitamin pills for the weeks when a food group or two goes astray.
- If you’re an omnivore, buy chicken but don’t buy chicken breasts. When you buy chicken breasts, you’re paying processing and packing costs you don’t pay when buying a whole chicken. You can get 16 meals out of a chicken (see my blog for more info on this obsession of mine!) Let none of it go to waste. Make stock from scratch and you’ll have soups, stews, pasta sauces etc for the week. I don’t choose to be a vegetarian, but I strongly believe in being an ethical omnivore. I don’t buy ‘battery’ chickens or eggs however poor we get. If I can’t afford free range, I don’t buy the chicken. If you scrape together the money to buy a free range chicken and you can get 16 meals out of it (or 20 as my husband managed the other week – don’t think I’ll beat that) then the food is way cheaper than the price of some breast meat from a battery-farmed animal.
- Make friends with your freezer. If you’re on a real budget, freeze everything you can. If you make meals from the chicken as soon as you get it home and freeze them, you can live on the food from the fridge in week 1 and the food from the freezer in week 2.
‘If Shakespeare were alive today, would he complain because his television had been repossessed or his games console had been sold or his electricity had been switched off?’ Would he? Or would he pick up his pages, sit at his table, light up a candle and write?
To follow my writing journey and for more tips on writing through the recession, go to my blog:
Going nuts on editing and other writing work for a few days and I might not be able to put anything up here so, since I've gathered quite a few new followers over the last couple of days and since the original's now been archived, I'm putting Recession Expression up here for the newbies.
Got another blog gig :) I'll let you know more when I know which day it's going up. Writing-wise I'm editing, putting together post ideas for the blog tour and deciding whether or not to enter any writing competitions this month. They don't cost much but neither do they fall into the basket marked 'vital for existence' so I can't really justify the entry fees. There's a brochure downstairs for a writing course I really want to do but... *tone of resignation*...ah well.
Course de Force
So I can't afford the course? *Tone of righteous indignation* So what? If I can't afford the bloody course, I'll make my own. I'm sure if I put my mind to it and scour the library shelves enough I can find out all I need to put my own course together. I can even print out a certificate for myself at the end. Ha! Take that recession! *Blows raspberry at recession*.
A Life of Two Halves
Well, how is everyone? Life is split between bloody awful things happening in the real world and super-sparkly things happening on-line. The old brain is struggling: should it be freaking out about the super-bad things or celebrating the super-happy things? Celebrating the super-happy things feels better so I think, of the two, I'll pick that one.
IT Came to me Last Night
I watched the 'IT Crowd' last night (very funny English show about an I.T. Department buried in the basement of a large company. The noodly appendages so beloved by Pastafarians adorn the walls etc - typical of every I.T. department I've ever known.) Anyway, there was one line that cracked me up. Not sure why I found it so funny but I was giggling for ages.
Moss has a brilliant idea about showing up their 'boss' who is about to make a speech about computers - of which she knows nothing - and he is so excited about how brilliant this idea is that he warns his work mate:
"You'd best put seatbelts on your ears Roy, because I'm going to take them for the ride of their lives!" (for more go to The IT Crowd .)
I can't believe it! I won the Blog of the Day Award! Doing a little celebratory dance now.
Thanks so much to the Blog of the Day Award people and thanks also to everyone who follows, subscribes or comments on this blog as you're all part of it too.
'Will the heating last that long?' Maybe it will. A stupendous development has occurred. The price of oil went down a couple of days ago.
The Oil Tank is our Master
The oil tank (for newcomers to the blog, our rented abode is equipped with a big tank of oil for heating and hot water) has some kind of Bluetooth capacity which it uses to scare the what-nots out of us. A little plug-thingy sits in our kitchen and communicates with the tank. There are digital bars on it - like you get on a mobile phone - that show how much oil is left. Every time a bar disappears, we attempt to turn down the heat. This has resulted in a couple of 'phew - that was a close one!' brushes with hypothermia. Fortunately, the local council offices provide free thermometers for the old or impoverished to work out how far away they are from hypothermia. We picked one up. It usefully shows us the likely cause of death for either/both of us if we don't turn the thermostat up.
Hypothermia Roulette Anyone?
'Ideal' is declared to be 21 degrees C (70 F). Well, that's never going to happen, so we ignore that one. 18/65 is our goal temperature. We feel quite smug if we maintain this in the downstairs rooms (there isn't a hope in Hell of maintaining it upstairs. The upstairs temperatures are so depressing that the thermometer is banned from going upstairs. It protests that it has a 'right to roam' but we lay into it declaring that as long as it is under our roof it must abide by our laws etc, etc... it gets ugly.)
The most accessible temperature for the downstairs rooms is 15/60 - 'Discomfort and risk of respiratory illness.' I keep thinking we'll harden up and be fine at this temperature but, irritatingly, it is actually not terribly comfortable. It doesn't help that I have asthma and as soon as I start wheezing, Hubby raises an eyebrow and turns up the thermostat. Lightweight!
Generally, downstairs, we avoid getting below 12/55 - too cold - 'increased risk of heart attack and strokes in vulnerable people,' and so far we have kept the downstairs rooms above 9/50 - 'risk of hypothermia below this temperature.' Upstairs is a tundra. The bathroom hosts karaoke parties for penguins and polar bears on alternate nights (they can never meet or the QI elves would go into meltdown and Stephen Fry would have a dizzy spell.)
Anyhow, I'm babbling, and babble is the enemy of the blog format so I'll get back to the story. The price of oil plummeted so Hubby rushed to the phone. We had called a few days before and the price of a 'minimum drop' had been insanely high. We crossed our fingers. The price had dropped by £25.
'Buy! Buy!' I shouted. Hubby pointed out the money we needed was in my account, so I had to calm down, recite digits etc and, I have to say, the moment lost some of its drama.
Today, we luxuriate in heat. The thermometer has just edged into 'ideal living room temperature' and we are exchanging 'shall you turn it down or shall I?' looks of guilt. In celebration of the blog's great successes over the last week, I'm giving myself half a day - maybe more - of 'I could almost wear a tee-shirt' bliss.
'Hubby: throw another log on the thermostat - it's party time!'
The Blog I guest blogged on won the 'Blog of the Day' Award! Pop across and send Brian congratulations.
Yesterday was a sparkly day of wonder but, as I was talking at the speed of Gilmore Girls dialogue about the excitingness of it all, my husband's left eyebrow raised a fraction. He had shown approval and support and shared - in his own way - in the excitement but this eyebrow-lift marked a change of direction. I shut up.
'How much editing have you done recently?' he asked.
It was a fair question and a fair answer would have been 'not enough,' however I launched into a justification of why editing had not been my top priority. I listed the guest blog and the importance of my own blog and the whole 'getting-people-to-know-about-the-blog' thing and the importance to agents and publishers of blogs, etc, etc...
He lowered the left eyebrow. He raised the right eyebrow.
'So you're saying I have to edit? You're saying I need to send off my manuscript?' I spat.
'When did you last send off a manuscript?' he asked.
I thought back to my blog. It was back in December. The 'writers write' post taunted me from the shadows of my brain. 'Bloggers blog,' I thought hopefully. Well, bloggers may well blog but my goal is to be a writer of novels not just blogs.
So, here I am. The blog will be updated, but maybe not every day. Perhaps I could call upon my readers to chat amongst themselves for a while. Hit the comment button and play nicely in my brief absence. I have two novels to edit and a lot of stamps to buy.
When I return, it would be a lovely surprise to see a new follower or two. Think you could spread the word to the interested?
Ta muchly. Back soon.
Well, this may be my most exciting blog-related day yet! Not only did my guest blog go up on The New Author but I've just found out that my blog is the 'Editor's Choice' on BloggerTalk! Click on the link and scroll down until you get to 'BloggerTalk Featured Blog' and... that's me! BloggerTalk
I need a cup of tea and a sit down.
Exciting development newsflash: My first guest blog has gone up. Recession Expression: A Guide to Writing Through the Fear Hope you like it.
P.S. For those of you looking for the source of the previous post's madness it is http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7911645.stm
Reading University Predicts Death of Words
Researchers at the University of Reading have predicted that the words 'stick', 'bad', 'squeeze', and 'guts' have a limited shelf-life. They're on their way to extinction. They will soon be ex-words.
Your mission de jour is to use these words wherever possible, whether appropriate or not, and report back here on any injuries sustained as a consequence!
If you could only save one of them, which would it be?
Click on 'comments' and let me know.
Right - time to go and finish writing my guest blog. It goes up tomorrow! Come back then and I'll put up a link.