Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - March 22nd 2017

Do you dream of being a published author? Or, perhaps, there's something else - writing related or otherwise - you've been putting off because you're afraid of failing, or afraid of what others will think? If so, feel the fear and do it anyway. You'll be glad you did!

Once you've got your fear under control, you need to figure out what it means to write for market, and if that's the route you're taking or not. Personally, I just write the story that wants to be written, and worry about trying to get it noticed by the right audience later. But you can - and should - do what you feel is right for you.

Anyway...

Do you write for a middle grade audience? If so, here are some common themes in middle grade fiction... Which one will be right for your story? Only you can decide that. Regardless of the theme though, here's some advice on writing the middle grade novel.

Regardless of the age range you write for, however, here's a look at effective novel intros, to help you get your story started right.

If you write fantasy, you may want to take a look at these seven tips to traversing the fantasy countryside.

Fantasy or not, while you're writing your story, remember to write like you talk. Also, make sure you get your facts right throughout your story by doing your research. But, the question of when you should conduct your research is open for discussion, and is ultimately up to you.

Next, here are five tips for writing good dialogue, which may be useful to you. It's a repost for the person who wrote the post, but I'm not sure if I posted the tips before, so figured I'd go ahead and post them... Better to have them twice than not at all, I think.

Oh, and if you're struggling with writers' block, here are six ways to transition out of writers' block.

Last, but certainly not least, if you're a published author, don't forget you need to send copies of your books to the legal deposit libraries.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A #Poem For The 2017 #Spring #Equinox

In the Northern hemisphere, the 2017 Spring (or Vernal) equinox comes on March 20 at 10:29 a.m. UTC (March 20 at 5:29 a.m. CDT). That's today... 29 minutes after the time this is scheduled to go live. Since that's the case, I thought I'd share a poem I wrote recently about Spring taking over from Winter. So, here it is:

Winter And Spring

Glad his work is done,
Winter lays down his weary head,
Content to spend the next nine months
Fast asleep in his comfortable bed.

Meanwhile, Spring is awakening,
And her energy knows no bounds.
She's ready to perform her dance,
That coaxes new life from grounds.


© 2017 ~ Victoria Zigler

Sunday, March 19, 2017

#Photos Taken With Our New Camera

My "keeper for the day experience" at drucillas park is this coming Wednesday.

Now, we can't guarantee we'll be allowed to take photos of everything. But we want to be able to take decent photos whenever taking photos is an option. I mean, if taking photos will upset the animal in question, we'll obviously avoid doing so. But we want to capture photos of as many of my animal encounter experiences as possible, as I'm sure you can understand.

Unfortunately, the camera we've had for the past several years isn't that great: we keep forgetting how to work the flash, and the lense keeps getting dirty. This means we either get blurry shots, or shots that are too dark to see anything. Remember those times it's looked like a bad day and I've said it wasn't? That was our old camera playing up.

My iPhone has a camera on it, which does take good photos. But the battery doesn't last long on it because of me needing to use voiceover all the time, and the battery life is even worse when I'm using TapTapSee to take photos (if you don't know, TapTapSee is a talking photo app for iPhones, and the only way I can take and interact with photos successfully using my phone). Not to mention, taking photos using TapTapSee is a slow process. This means that using my phone to take photos will only be an option for maybe a couple of shots (if we're lucky) and will then leave us with a phone that has no battery in it... Not the end of the world, but not ideal (especially when we're so far from home). Oh, and there's the small problem of Kelly not being very good at using my iPhone, which means him taking photos of me doing things is rather difficult to say the least, since he takes even longer than I do, due to me needing to talk him through each stage of it.

So, we did the only thing we could think to do: we brought a new camera.

In all fairness, we've been saying we could do with a new camera for some time.

Anyway, it's a Canon IXUS 285 HS Digital Compact Camera, if you're interested in knowing exactly what we got. Not the most fancy of cameras, perhaps... There were much fancier ones (with much higher price tags, of course). But much better than the old camera; Canon is usually a good make, and was one of the brands approved by my Dad, who knows a lot about photography.

So, we got it a couple of weeks ago, and have been testing it out a little to see how it works. The photos of the rodent gang I've put up since the start of March were taken with the new camera, and so were the photos I'm about to show you (the ocean photo from last week was taken with my iPhone, in case you're wondering).

Anyway... Enjoy!

(The photo above is a view of the ocean from our living room window, and was taken late afternoon on March 2nd 2017).

(The photo above is another view of the ocean from the same window, which was taken later in the evening on March 2nd 2017).

(The photo above is a night time view out of the same window, just to show we get more than just a blank dark image when taking nighttime photos with the new camera, and I believe was also taken on March 2nd 2017).

(The photo above is of the nearby church steeple, and was taken from another of our windows, this time on March 3rd 2017).

Friday, March 17, 2017

#Furkid Friday: #Chinchilla #Photos

Um... Hi everyone. This is Mollie the chinchilla.

At the start of this month, the human caretakers took a couple of new photos of me and my chinchilla sister, Maizie, so I thought I'd post them here for you to see. There are only two of them, but here they are, anyway.

This first one is of us in our cage. I'm the one in the wooden house thing, Maizie is the one on top of it:


This one is of us in our playpen:


I hope you enjoyed seeing the photos.

Squeak soon,
Mollie

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - March 15th 2017

A fellow author created a (totally not serious) author bio generator, so I thought I'd have some fun with it and liven up my own author bio. Here it is:

Victoria Zigler was born in a barn sometime in the last century and grew up in the surrounding fields with the horses learning to juggle potatoes. She left the farm for the African wilderness where she spent several years living with a pride of lions who adopted her. Victoria now lives in an invisible spaceship in Earth's orbit with her favourite lion from the pride and a monkey who snuck aboard when nobody was looking. When not writing bestselling
novels, Victoria likes to juggle food ration packs in between games of fetch with the lion and games of chess with the monkey.

There, don't I sound more interesting? *wink*

OK, now we've had some fun, let's get serious and move on to this week's links...

If you're a writer too - published or not, exciting life or not - do you view your writing as a business or hobby? If it's the former, you may want to consider these ways to show your writing is a business. I don't have a bank account or credit card reserved for business earnings/expenses, and I don't have a fancy reader that allows people to pay me by card using my phone (my iPhone would probably die half way through the transaction anyhow, due to how quickly it uses up the battery with my need to use Voiceover, combined with the phone being several years old, and the battery being the original one from it). But I have done most of what they advise in that post (though my system of organizing my earnings and expenses is different to that of the article's author). The main point though is, if you don't view your writing as a business, neither will anyone else... Including Uncle Sam.

Whether you write for business or not, however, you may want to take a look at this post on writing speculative fiction, especially since the advice in it is valid regardless of the genre you write in: writing fiction may involve making a lot of stuff up, but that's no reason not to make things realistic.

Speaking of making things realistic, here are some ways animals enhance fiction, complete with tips on how to be sure the scenes with pets or wildlife in them make sense for the story.

Finally, always remember that it is worth it.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Just Filling You In On Recent Day To Day Life

(The above photo is the view out of one of the windows in our living room, showing the rough ocean, and large waves, on the mildly stormy morning of February 23rd 2017, while parts of the country were dealing with Storm Doris).

We've had a couple of decent storms, but the weather hasn't been as rough as it was this time last year. No more snow either, unfortunately. Well, I think it's unfortunate. Almost everyone else around here disagrees with me on that fact, however. Anyhow, I should say that in my area storms haven't been so bad. Parts of the country have had some really nasty storms. For example, Storm Doris, which hit on or around February 23rd 2017 - depending on exactly where you were in the country - caused a lot of damage in some areas. We've just been lucky in this area.

No matter the weather though, I've been making a point of going out each day. Well, OK, most days it's just going downstairs, hanging out enjoying the fresh air for a few moments, and then coming back inside. But that's still an improvement on how little I was stepping outside the door before. I even do it on busy days, of which we've had a lot recently.

Our boiler has been replaced. We were told initially we'd have a guy come for a quick visit to see if it needed repairing or replacing, and to check other heating related things (attic insulation, radiators, etc) and then it would take them a couple of hours to do the work, even if it was a replacement. Yeah, right! The initial guy was here most of the morning, and he was followed by another to verify what the first guy was saying, as well as a third to take photos before any work was done. Then a guy came to make sure the amount of insulation we have in the attic was the right amount (and would have installed more if it wasn't). After that the guy came to replace the boiler, and a job that should have taken a couple of hours turned in to a two day job, because he had to redo some of the piping for the gas lines. Then an electrician had to come, because the boiler has some electrical parts that the gas guy's not qualified to do. After that a guy came to give the boiler its official "this boiler works" certificate (I forget the actual name for it). Then the guy with the camera came back to do the "after" photos. There was anything from a day to a week between the visits from each guy, which meant that the whole thing stretched out through January and in to early February.

Of course, I couldn't do much when the guys were here, because I need the use of my ears to do most things I do, and the freedom to move about without fear of getting in their way or tripping over things to do most other things. But they had tools around, and they were making noise poking about and doing their jobs, which severely limited my ability to get things done. Not to mention, I'm not very good at being productive when waiting for people, so couldn't even get much done while waiting for the guys to arrive on the various days they were coming to do their respective jobs. I'm not complaining, since we did need a new boiler, and we could feel the benifit of better heating immediately. But it was frustrating at the time, and has put me behind my personal schedule with some things. Never mind, it's done now, which is a good thing. Erm... The boiler being done is a good thing, I mean. The not getting as much as planned done part... Not so much.

When the first guy came, he said some of the pipes weren't looking too great on one of the radiators, so either those pipes would need replacing, or they'd need to replace the whole radiator. It took so long for them to say anything more about that after the boiler was done that I thought they'd forgotten about it (it was only last week they came for that). But I guess they just needed to wait for the plumber to be able to fit us in. Anyway, all he'd been told was that it wasn't working as well as it should. Well, apparently it was no wonder since there was a valve of some sort that should have been open and wasn't. Once he opened that it was working much better. He didn't end up replacing anything while he was here though. He said it's possible they could send him back to replace either the pipes or the whole thing at a later date, but since it's working fine now, they may leave it for the time being. He might have replaced it anyhow, had it been up to him, but he was only told to come and make it work better, so that's all he did. Apparently he'd get in trouble if he did more than he was meant to, and says it's better for him to risk being sent back to do more, than to risk being in trouble for doing more than his bosses wanted to pay him to do. Annoying for the people who have to have multiple visits for things that could be done in one, but understandable from his point of view.

The plumber did do one extra thing while he was here though, and took a look at our kitchen sink's hot tap, which wouldn't work. Turned out the "handle" bit you grip to turn the tap had come loose. He took that off, put it back on again, and the tap was working. So we were glad about that, since doing dishes in a sink without a working hot tap wasn't very easy (thankfully, though it had been hard to turn the tap on and off for a while, it only actually stopped working literally a couple of days before this plumber visit, so we didn't have to deal with that issue for too long). He says the "handles" of the kitchen taps may need replacing in the not-too-distant future, but at least that's all that's wrong with them, and they're fine for now. I'll mention it to the landlords when they come pick up the rent later this month though, just to make sure they're aware of that potential future issue.

Speaking of the landlords... The landlords are trying to arrange for the bathroom floor to get done, finally, which is a very good thing. It means more potential chaotic and unproductive days for me, but it needs doing, and I'll be glad when it is. They also need to sort a problem with a couple of the windows. But I'm not sure when they'll start trying to arrange that. One thing at a time though, I guess. Besides, there's been a lot going on around here as it is, so a little part of me is relieved they aren't talking about doing the windows too right now (even though I do hope they do them soon).

Another thing that happened, which I'm also pleased about, is that we also now have curtains up in our bedroom, with help from our friends, Lorna and Andy, who did that for us. I doubt they'll see this, but... Thanks very much - again - for your help with that, Lorna and Andy. Thanks especially to Andy, who actually did the work involved in putting the curtain rail and curtains up for us (with help from Kelly when it was needed).

Anyway, somehow, despite the chaos from all of that going on, we did get some things done that we'd hoped to. We got most of the shelves sorted, and a lot of our stuff organized on to them. We're down to needing a couple of shelving units, and having only about four boxes to unpack (the stuff that will go on those shelving units). In theory we'll be sorting those in the next month or so. But, hey, we got most stuff unpacked before we'd been here two years, and with all the repair work going on lately, I happen to think even that was impressive; I hadn't counted on so many workmen in and out when I decided to make unpacking and organizing contents of boxes an important priority for the start of this year, so I'm pleased with our progress in that area, even if there are other areas where I'm disappointed with how little I've achieved recently.

So, that just about covers the main points of what's been happening around here over the past couple of months.

Before I end this though, I just want to say a belated happy birthday to our nephew, Devon, who is now officially an adult, having celebrated his 18th birthday on February 25th. Also, happy belated birthday to our friend - and one of my cover artists - Jacob, who celebrated his birthday yesterday. While I'm here, I'll also say happy birthday ahead of time to my brother, Wayne, and friend, Rita, who will be celebrating their birthdays on March 15th and March 28th respectively.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

March 2017 #Vegetarian Friendly #Food Themed Thoughts (FD)

When I was making a vegetarian version of a shepherd's pie a couple of weeks ago, I found I hadn't made enough potato to give a decent layer on top of the other stuff that goes in to one. I've had this happen in the past a couple of times, and fixed the problem by adding carrot to the mashed potatoes, with good results. Except, I didn't have enough carrot either. What I did have, however, was a can of pumpkin puree. So I decided to use that to bulk up the mash for the topping. A bit of advice if you're thinking of doing the same thing... Don't! Adding pumpkin puree to mashed potatoes in general works. It makes a lovely creamy mash. But it didn't seem to work too well for the shepherd's pie. It wasn't dreadful, and I ate it. But it made the shepherd's pie taste wrong; it was like it wasn't cooked properly, even though that wasn't the case. Honestly, I don't feel that particular cooking experiment was a success, and it's one I certainly will not be repeating.

If you'd like some recipes that are worth trying, however, check out my website's recipe section, where you'll find all sorts of recipes. Most of the recipes on my website are suitable for vegetarians, and some are even suitable for vegans.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

#Smashwords #ebookweek17 - #SALE Ends Today!

The ninth annual Smashwords Read an eBook Week promotion kicked off on Sunday March 5th 2017 - as I mentioned on Monday - and runs through to the end of today (Saturday March 11th 2017).

As I also mentioned on Monday, I've enrolled my entire Zeena Dragon Fae series in the promotion. They're 75% off, which means you can get all four books in the series for the price of one. Of course, this is exclusively on Smashwords. But since they offer a good choice of formats, and I enable all of the available ones for my books, you'll easily find a format that works for you, regardless of your eReading device of choice. In fact, if you can read this post, there'll be a way you can read my books. In other words, unless you read exclusively physical copies of books, this is a great chance to get an excellent deal.

The books in the series are as follows:

1. Zeena And The Dryad
2. Zeena And The Gryphon
3. Zeena And The Mermaid
4. Zeena And The Phoenix

Simply click on the book titles to go to their Smashwords pages. Then enter coupon code RAE75 at checkout to get any - or all - the books in the Zeena Dragon Fae series for 75% off. Yes, it is the same code for all four books.

I'm not the only author to enroll, so don't forget you can also check out what other books are on sale this week. Not everyone enables all formats though, so be sure to check format availability before you buy.

Oh, and feel free to share this post with anyone and everyone.

Remember: Sale ends March 11th 2017... That's today... So hurry if you want to get some bargain eBooks!

Friday, March 10, 2017

#Furkid Friday: Joshua The #Degu's 4th Birthday (FD)

Hi humans, rodent types, and anyone else reading this. This is Joshua the degu.

(Above photo of me taken on March 2nd 2017).

Yesterday I got to have one of those birthday things, which meant extra treats. The human caretakers gave me both oatmeal and Cheerios for breakfast, and a treat I love called "chinchilla cookies" at dinner time. I really enjoyed everything, of course. I have cereal of some sort for breakfast every day, but I got a bigger helping than usual yesterday... I don't usually get two kinds of cereal.

The only way my birthday would have been better is if my degu brothers were here to share it with me. I'd have liked my gerbil brothers to have still been next door to my cage too. I miss my degu brothers and gerbil brothers. I miss my ratty sisters too. I know my chinchilla sisters are still here, but it's not the same. I don't understand why my rodent siblings keep going away, and I don't like it one little bit. I'm still watching the human caretakers in case they're up to something, but if they are then I don't know what it could be, since they don't seem to be doing anything different with us than they always have. I'll keep watching them though... Just in case.

Squeak soon,
Joshua

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Joshua Turns Four (FD)

Today (March 9th 2017) is the fourth birthday of our remaining degu, Joshua.

Of course, it would have also been the fourth birthday of the rest of the J boys - Joshua's brothers - today, but we lost Jasper, Jenks, and Jacob last year (in June, September, and November respectively).

Joshua has now been our only degu for four months. He's doing well, but when Joshua first found himself alone, we were really worried, especially since the loss of his brothers seemed to have destroyed the trust we'd earned from him. But we've worked with him patiently over these past few months, and managed to regain a lot of that trust back. He's still reluctant to allow us to pick him up, and some days doesn't like to be touched. But he'll let us pet him some days. He also now accepts food from Kelly with only a slight hesitation, and from me without any hesitation at all (in fact, he runs to greet me at the cage door for his morning piece of cereal every day). Compared to the way he'd try to stay as far away from our hands as possible, even if we were offering food, after we lost Jasper, Jenks, and then Jacob, this is a huge improvement.

Anyway, as I said, Joshua is four years old today. So... Happy birthday degu buddy!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - March 8th 2017

If you missed my post from Monday, you may want to check it out. The 2017 Smashwords Read An eBook Week promotion is going on right now... See my post from Monday for more details.

***

Are you struggling with writers' block? If so, try these five ways to beat writers' block.

However, if you're not struggling to get your writing done, so don't need those tips right now, feel free to skip them and check out the other links I have for you this week. Alternatively, you could always take a look anyway, and bear them in mind in case you need them in future... Just a thought! Either way, here are the other links:

Should you write a prologue for your book, or would it be better to forget about having one? The choice is ultimately up to you, but here's an article on the seven deadly sins of prologues, which discusses what does and doesn't work when it comes to prologues, and will help you decide if you should write one or not.

Regardless of how you start your story, if your characters need some adventuring tips, get them to take a look at Luke Callindor's tips to adventuring. These tips will especially be useful for characters from fantasy stories. Some of them are great tips for any characters venturing out of town during their stories though, even if it's meant to be just for a short camping trip. Also, failure to follow some of Luke's advice could make for some potentially tense moments in the story... Just something for any writers reading this to bear in mind.

Anyway, do you have a character - or a group of characters - tracking another in your story? If so, here are some tips on writing tracking scenes without them becoming boring for the reader.

To hyphenate, or not to hyphenate, that is the question. Well, maybe it isn't. But if it is in your case, perhaps this post on how hyphens are the devil will help you find the answer.

Are "ing" words good or bad? You decide.

OK, that's about it for today. I'll just end today's post with a great blog post about the writer's rollercoaster.

Monday, March 06, 2017

#Smashwords #ebookweek17 - Zeena Dragon Fae Series On #SALE!

The ninth annual Smashwords Read an eBook Week promotion kicked off yesterday (Sunday March 5th 2017) and runs through to the end of the day on Saturday March 11th 2017.

I've enrolled my entire Zeena Dragon Fae series in the promotion. They're 75% off, which means you can get all four books in the series for the price of one. Of course, this is exclusively on Smashwords. But since they offer a good choice of formats, and I enable all of the available ones for my books, you'll easily find a format that works for you, regardless of your eReading device of choice. In fact, if you can read this post, there'll be a way you can read my books. In other words, unless you read exclusively physical copies of books, this is a great chance to get an excellent deal.

The books in the series are as follows:

1. Zeena And The Dryad
2. Zeena And The Gryphon
3. Zeena And The Mermaid
4. Zeena And The Phoenix

Simply click on the book titles to go to their Smashwords pages. Then enter coupon code RAE75 at checkout to get any - or all - the books in the Zeena Dragon Fae series for 75% off. Yes, it is the same code for all four books.

I'm not the only author to enroll, so don't forget you can also check out what other books are on sale this week. Some examples of authors with books in the sale can also be found by checking out this post on the Smashwords Authors group on Goodreads. Not everyone enables all formats though, so be sure to check format availability before you buy.

Oh, and feel free to share this post with anyone and everyone.

Remember: Sale ends March 11th 2017.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Tori's February 2017 #Book #Reviews (LBE)

It's time to take a look at what I read in Febuary.

As with the previous posts like this one, if you want to know more about the book, or the author, click on whichever it is you want to learn more about, and it will take you to the appropriate page on Goodreads. Clicking on my rating should take you to my actual Goodreads review for the book in question.

Don't forget: the format I've reviewed may not be the format I read. Also, please remember that I read across multiple genres and age ranges, so you should always check if a book is suitable for the intended reader, especially when children are involved. Sometimes reading the book's description on its Goodreads page will be enough for this, but other times you may need to check elsewhere to figure out the genre and/or recommended reading level.

OK... On to the reviews!

Bite Me If You Can (Argeneau #6)Bite Me If You Can by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An excellent - and often entertaining - addition to the series, which fans of vampire themed romance novels will love.

Empress Matilda of England (Legendary Women of World History, #7)Empress Matilda of England by Laurel A. Rockefeller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a well-written and well-researched book, which makes for an enjoyable and educational read for history lovers of all ages.

A Day On The PondA Day On The Pond by Kevin Roland Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A really cute and fun little story.

Super Sporty 9: The Wrath of TitanicusSuper Sporty 9: The Wrath of Titanicus by Ellie Firestone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an excellent ending to a great series, which lovers of horses and super hero stories will enjoy.

Vampires are Forever (Argeneau #8)Vampires are Forever by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another excellent addition to the series, with plenty of romance and mystery in the plot, and a great cast of characters.

Vampire, Interrupted (Argeneau #9)Vampire, Interrupted by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another excellent addition to the series. This book is a perfect example of how, while able to be read in any order, due to being complete stories in their own right, the books in the series are best read in chronological order, since they can contain spoilers for previous books in the series.

The Savage Stone Age  (Horrible Histories)The Savage Stone Age by Terry Deary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An interesting - though often disgusting - look at history, which will appeal to many children, though may not be for the squeemish or easily upset.

The Measly Middle Ages The Measly Middle Ages by Terry Deary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An interesting, though often disgusting, look at history, which will appeal to children who enjoy gory details, and have the stomach for them.

The Awesome EgyptiansThe Awesome Egyptians by Terry Deary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another interesting - and often gory - look at history, which will appeal to any young history lover who has the stomach for it. A great addition to the series, though a difficult one to fully appreciate if you're using text to speach to read the book, since some of the details are lost among images.

The Cut-throat Celts The Cut-throat Celts by Terry Deary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An interesting look at Celtic history. Like the other books I've read from this series so far, this is a great book, if you can stomach the gory details, but a frustrating one to read if you're using text to speach, since you miss parts of it due to them being displayed in what are essentially images.

The Groovy GreeksThe Groovy Greeks by Terry Deary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An interesting look at Greek history, with some Roman history thrown in; a great read for history lovers, especially if you enjoy the gory parts of history, though a more user friendly history book for the sighted than for the visually impaired.

Angry AztecsAngry Aztecs by Terry Deary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An interesting look in to the history of the Maya and Aztecs, which is perfect for any history lover who can deal with the gory bits of history, though you'll miss bits if you're using text to speach to read this book. Also, it was entertaining reading a book that was insisting the world would end four years before the date I read it... Guess they got that prediction wrong. *wink*

The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2)The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A great addition to the series, which makes for a fantastic read for those who enjoy stories about the Gods of legends, and are fans of the Percy Jackson books.

The Adventures of Rocky and the Bear Claw Club: The Legend of the Pirate Blackbear's Lost Gold Pinecone: The Threat of the Wolfkang ClanThe Adventures of Rocky and the Bear Claw Club: The Legend of the Pirate Blackbear's Lost Gold Pinecone: The Threat of the Wolfkang Clan by Steven Allan Pease
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The plot is creative, though rather slow paced, which some readers may not like. The cast of characters is excellent though. The only things that stop me giving this book five stars are the fact the ending felt a bit sudden to me (I hate cliffhanger endings, and felt like we were just getting to the real action when the ending came) and the fact the author kept jumping between past and present tense (sometimes in the same sentence). Other than those things, this was a great read.

***

Goodreads recently added a feature where you can track rereads of books.

This is a great thing for those who keep track of that sort of thing, but a bad thing for site accessability with screen readers, since clicking on the option to add the dates a book was read sometimes results in it deciding you must be wanting to mark a reread date. This means I have to save my review, check it to make sure it's only listing one set of dates, and go back in to delete the extra set of dates if it got confused and listed me as having read it twice (which you'd think it wouldn't do if the dates were identical, but it does).

Still, there is one good thing: at least this is a site update that most people are pleased to have, unlike all the "improvements" - a word I'm using very loosely - Facebook keeps making.

Friday, March 03, 2017

#Furkid Friday: Three More Ways Kero Has Influenced My #Writing

As I mentioned in the comments section of my post containing facts about my "Kero's World" books last month, Kero has had obvious influence on my writing in other ways too. So, before I return to my regular "Furkid Friday" posts, here are the other ways Kero has obviously influenced things to do with my writing:

1. Cubby the polar bear from "Cubby And The Beanstalk" was loosely based on Kero. One of Kero's nicknames was Cubby, which evolved from someone mishearing when we called him K.B. (the latter being a nickname my Mam started, thinking Keroberous was two words). Both nicknames stuck, and stayed with him his entire life. Add to that the fact he was a white dog, who reminded me of a big cuddly teddybear, especially when he needed a haircut, and you can see why Cubby was a polar bear. I'm not sure why I decided to base the bear that was the main character on Kero like that, but it felt right at the time.

2. Yua the Westie from "Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt" was based on Kero, and was my attempt at putting him in a fantasy story. He's not 100% Kero, but he has a lot of Kero's traits and behaviours. Also, he got his name in the same way: Yua is, like the name Keroberous, an alternative spelling of a name I got from a cartoon I enjoyed. I'd changed the spelling of Kero's name to how I thought it looked better, and did the same with Yua's name. I didn't make a big deal out of mentioning this though, since it's not obvious where I got the names from, even if you're familiar with the cartoon, due to my changing the spelling, and both names actually being genuine Japenese names to start with (or, at least, Americanized versions of Japenese names). Also, this is the only book of mine with a dedication to date. It's dedicated to Kero, of course; we lost Kero while I was writing it, and I dedicated it to him when I was done.

3. I sort of publish my paperback books under both Kero's name and my own; my paperback books are still published by me, under my own name as the author, but my publisher name, for the purpose of publishing my paperback books, is Keroberous Publishing, in Kero's honour. I did consider adding that to my eBooks too, but due to how many books I'd published before I started using Keroberous publishing, I decided to just leave only my own name on the eBooks, and just use Keroberous Publishing for the publisher name on the paperbacks. It's still me, either way, and it's not unusual for different formats to be published by different publishers, anyhow.

***

Want to buy your own copy of Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt? Or, perhaps you'd like a copy of Cubby And The Beanstalk?

As with all my other books, you can buy them as eBooks from Smashwords, as well as from Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, and a few other eBook retailers. Alternatively, you can buy them as paperbacks from CreateSpace, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a couple of other online retailers. They're also available to order from libraries in any format, assuming your library supports this feature, and either already carries them, or is willing to get copies.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

R.I.P. Baggins

(Above photo of Baggins the gerbil taken this afternoon).

Baggins was fine this morning. This afternoon he was a little quiet, and not his usual bouncy self, but we weren't too concerned. This evening he got worse. Then - around 8:45pm - we lost him. We suspect it was a stroke, since he seemed to suddenly lose control of his body and become weak, followed by a few seizures, and then his little heart giving out.

Baggins was getting up there in years for a gerbil; he turned three in early January. But that fact doesn't make it any easier. We're still going to miss the little guy.

He was a friendly and happy little gerbil, who could have taught a lot of people some valuable lessons about not stressing over things you can't control. Even after losing his brother, Bilbo, almost a year ago, he still kept his cheerful and positive attitude.

Rest in peace, little gerbil pal... We'll miss you!

R.I.P. Baggins
January 6th 2014 - March 2nd 2017

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - March 1st 2017

For various reasons, which I won't bore you with the details of right now, I haven't made much progress with the story I'm working on, but have written several poems over the past month. Perhaps the poetry collection will be ready before the story? It's starting to look that way, anyhow. Well... I don't suppose it really matters which book is ready first, does it?

Are you a writer too? If so, here's some great advice on how to be taken seriously as a writer, and what to do if that still doesn't work.

Is your hero - or heroine - off on an adventure or quest? If not, why not? If so, where are they going, and why? Figuring that out is why people are reading your book, so make sure they have a good reason, and try to make it interesting. If you can also make it a dangerous adventure/quest, that will add to the excitement for your reader... Just saying.

Are you ready for your work to be edited? Then you may want to take a look at this post on the four different kinds of editing, so you know which it is you need to ask your chosen editor about.

Finally, if you're one of those people who enjoys crafty projects, and you're looking for a fun option for marketing, why not give these book charms a go?

Monday, February 27, 2017

#TV Talk And #Movie Mutterings - February 2017

It's time to take a look at this month's new to me movies and TV shows.

As with the previous posts like this one, just click on the titles to go to a page where you can find out more details about the movie or TV show in question; the title links will usually take you to a page on IMDB.

OK...

Super Rhino (2009 video/TV short):
I absolutely adore the "Bolt" movie (even though I can't watch it without crying) and thought Rhino was just adorable in it, so was glad to see Rhino had his own show... Even if it's a really short one. Anyway, I thought this was a really cute and entertaining little show. I give it five out of five stars.

Finding Dory (2016 movie):
I loved Dory in "Finding Nemo" so was eager to see this movie. I'm pleased to report that I was not disappointed. This was a really sweet movie, which the whole family will enjoy. I give this movie a well deserved five out of five stars.

That's all I watched this month, unless you count repeats of movies I've seen before, or reruns of shows I already know I enjoy, which I don't... This is a post for "new to me" movies and TV shows, after all. Not that I watched many repeats or reruns either, since I really didn't watch much TV in February.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

#Vegetarian Friendly #Food Themed Thoughts - #Valentines 2017 Edition (FD)

Yes, I know Valentine's Day was almost two weeks ago. We didn't do our actual celebration until the 20th though.

Well, actually, if you want to be technical, our Valentine's celebrations lasted an entire week, since Kelly brought me some chocolate to actually have on Valentine's Day, and came home with a heart shaped tub of big juicy strawberries a few days later. But I wasn't going to write a post for those. Not that I don't appreciate those things... They were really sweet (no pun intended). In fact, I almost took a photo of my tub of strawberries to put in this post. I only didn't because I got distracted by eating them, and I figured the empty tub wouldn't have the same impact without the big juicy strawberries for you to drool over. *wink*

Anyway, it's our official celebration I want to talk about in this post.

Back in January we noticed that a French cafe had opened nearby. To be honest, we have no idea when it opened. There's been a cafe of some sort there for a long while, but it's changed hands a few times, and changed names and cuisines in the process. Anyway, we noticed it's now a French cafe, and I decided I wanted to give it a try. After all, the one thing we could tell at once it did was French pastries, and I used to love the ones I had from the French market that used to set up near here when we first moved here (the French market moved to town proper, and we've never seen it when we've been in there, not even on what's considered the town's official market day). I also love the few French pastries our local bakery does... Especially their croissants.

We figured, what better time to go to a French cafe than Valentine's Day, right? Except Valentine's Day fell during half term week here (meaning schools were closed for the week) and that combined with how just about everyone eats out or orders in for Valentine's Day as a general rule - something I'm pretty sure happens worldwide - made me reluctant to go on the day itself, since it was most likely going to be quite busy. So we decided to arrange to go there for breakfast the Monday after Valentine's Day, when school was back on, and everyone else had hopefully done their celebrating, so things would be quieter, and we could enjoy a peaceful late Valentine's breakfast.

Anyway...

There were several vegetarian options on the menu, though for most of them you need to enjoy humus or spicy food. I'm not a huge fan of either, to be honest. It's not that I absolutely won't eat anything with humus in it, or that I absolutely won't eat spicy food. But I prefer milder spices, and I'm not a huge humus fan. Anyway, I did still have a few options to choose from, including being able to pick my own omelette fillings. Plus, I could have tried the spicy or humus-based meals, if I really wanted to.

I almost got pancakes, but in the end I ended up deciding on an omelette. I had an omelette with kale and mushrooms, as well as an almond croissant and a lemon-filled French macaroon, and some mint tea (not a very French breakfast drink, perhaps, but it was what I wanted). I'd never had a kale and mushroom omelette before. Actually, unless it was in something and I'm forgetting, I'm pretty sure I've never had kale before in general. Anyway, the food was really good. Not amazing, but certainly enjoyable.

Kelly had what they called a French breakfast, but was closer to the English breakfast in my opinion (it consisted of eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, beans, toast, and I think mushrooms too) as well as a vanilla latte. His toast was cooked more than he'd have liked, plus it was stone cold when it got to the table, though the latter of those seemed to bother me more than it did him. Also, the eggs weren't really to his liking, though that might just be a personal preference thing. Other than that though, he really enjoyed his breakfast too. Like me, however, he thought it was really good, but not amazing.

Our only real issue with the place was the cost. The portion sizes were smaller than we're used to, which we're not complaining about, since many countries do smaller portion sizes than the US, Canada, and the UK do. But we were paying at least twice the cost for those smaller portions than we usually pay elsewhere for twice the food, making for a rather expensive breakfast. We didn't mind too much, since it was a special Valentine's meal. But it does make us reluctant to consider making this a cafe we'd visit regularly.

So, would we go again? Yes. But only very rarely, due to the high cost of eating there.

If you're interested: If I was to rate the place, I'd give it four out of five stars.

Friday, February 24, 2017

#Furkid Friday: 6 Facts About My #Degu's Day Out #Book

Throughout February, in place of my usual "Furkid Friday" posts, I'll be sharing some facts about certain animal stories my furry family members have inspired. You may already know these facts, but I thought I'd share them, just in case you don't and are interested. I hope you enjoy these posts.

This week it's the turn of my stand-alone story, Degu's Day Out.

1. The story is based on a time when one of our degus escaped from his cage, after we neglected to double-check the latch on the cage door, and we were alerted to the fact by our Westie, Kero (who we still had at the time of the escape, but not at the time of the story's publication). If you're really curious... It was Jasper who inspired the story.

2. The dog in the story is loosely based on our West Highland White Terrier, Kero, but was given a name randomly chosen by my hubby, since I didn't want to use Kero's name in the book.

3. The book was almost turned in to a third book for my "Degu Days Duo" series. But I didn't want to change that in to a trilogy, since I'd been promoting it as a duology for so long, so I made Degu's Day Out a stand-alone story instead, and reduced the number of degus in it to just two, since I didn't feel I needed to include all four when it wasn't officially about my boys.

4. The main degu in the story, Oscar, is named after the littermate of Luna (the female degu we adopted a couple of years ago). He was never part of our family, having been rehomed elsewhere. But it was the first name that sprang to mind when I wanted a name for a male degu other than those I'd already used with my boys. Neither Luna nor Oscar survived to see the book's publication.

5. Though the story is based on actual events, the house Oscar explores in it doesn't exist. At least, not to my knowledge. When I decided to completely fictionalize the story, I also completely changed the description of the rooms he explores, so they no longer resemble my home in any way.

6. As I mentioned in my post about my other degu books a couple of weeks ago, to date, Degu's Day Out is the best selling of all of my books.

***

Want to buy your own copy of Degu's Day Out? Or, any of my other books, for that matter.

You can buy all of my books as eBooks from Smashwords, as well as from Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, and a few other eBook retailers. Alternatively, you can buy them as paperbacks from CreateSpace, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a couple of other online retailers. They're also available to order from libraries in any format, assuming your library supports this feature, and either already carries them, or is willing to get copies.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - February 22nd 2017

In case you missed my posts for Saturday and Tuesday...

Saarik the pixie was interviewed on Lisa Burton Radio. You can click here to read Saarik's interview.

Also, I was interviewed on Coffee With Architects Of Worlds Afar, and you can click here to read my interview.

***

Are you a writer too? Or, perhaps, you just want to be one? Regardless of which applies to you, here's a fun little post on writing a first draft - what it's really like.

No matter what stage you're at in your current writing project, here are seven tips to putting vehicles in fiction, in case your characters want to use more than just their own feet - or wings, or whatever - to get around.

Last, but certainly not least, make sure you're writing with a purpose... Regardless of what that purpose might be.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My #Author #Interview At Coffee With Architects Of Worlds Afar

I participated in another author interview recently. This time it was with Jessica over at Coffee With Architects Of Worlds Afar.

The interview went live yesterday. So, if you want to learn a little more about me and my writing habits, and see how I answered the questions in the "would you rather" part of the interview, simply click here to read my latest interview.