Friday, February 27, 2015

Furkid Friday - February 27th 2015

Hello humans, rodents, and other furry and feathered readers. This is Bilbo the gerbil.

It's my turn to do one of these bloggy post thingys, but the Mummy human said something about not being sure if we would have internet access today. Well, I'm not too clear on what that means - or why it might happen - if I'm honest. Although, I did manage to figure out that the "internet" has to be working for me to make this bloggy thingy work. So, I got the Mummy human to agree to let me set up a post ahead of time and set it up to publish all by itself today. If the internet thingy is working today, I'll stop by later and check for comments. If not, then I'll come and check for them when I can after it's working again.


Since I haven't got any cute photos to show you, I thought I would tell you about a great game I play with the Daddy human.

Any dogs among my readers will love this one... I taught him to play fetch!

He's really good at it, actually.

The humans give me and my rodent brothers and sisters things to chew on, and some of what we get is a regular supply of untreated wooden sticks (which the humans get in some place called "petstore" - wherever that is - to make sure they're safe for us).

The rest of our rodent gang - including my brother, Baggins - just gnaw on them happily. But I like to play for a bit first, and have discovered that if I push my stick out through the bars of the cage it falls to the floor and rolls away, and the Daddy human will chase after it and bring it back to me; which is great fun to watch.

He does it every time too... Isn't he clever?

Just goes to show, you can train your human; even if they aren't human pups any more.

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The IX

"Arden, home to a culture that has existed for thousands of years and which spans dozens of worlds. Regardless, their sophistication cannot prevent calamity at the hands of an unstoppable nemesis. Known only as the Horde, this enemy has proven relentless. They have not only stripped the outer colonies bare, but now threaten the existence of the entire Ardenese way of life.

Realizing there is nothing they can do to prevent the inevitable march toward extinction, the Ardenese governing body comes to a drastic decision. They gather together at their capital city, Rhomane, and place their remaining genetic heritage in a vast underground ark, in the care of an advanced AI construct called the Architect. Its mission? To use Rhomane’s dwindling reserves and safeguard their race by reaching out across time and space toward those who might be in a position to help reseed a devastated world at some time in the future.

Soldiers from varying eras and vastly different backgrounds find themselves snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing and transported to the far side of the galaxy. Thinking they have been granted a reprieve, their relief turns to horror when they discover they face a stark ultimatum:

Fight or die!

Despite a host of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, this group of misfits manages to turn the tide against a relentless foe, only to discover the true cost of victory might exact a price they are unwilling to pay.

If you like your science fiction fast paced and gritty, full of realistic action and dark humor in the face of overwhelming odds, then The IX is definitely the epic for you.

Fans of Julian May’s “Saga of the Pliocene Exiles,” Robert Heinlein’s “Have Space Suit, Will Travel”, and Jerry Pournelle's “Janissaries Series” will love this tale. It combines the divergent elements of the past, present, and future, and blends them together into a slick and stylish package that will leave you breathless and hungry for more.

The Must Read Science Fiction Adventure of 2015.

Sometimes, death is only the beginning of the adventure..."

Author's website:
Author page on Amazon:

Buy link for Amazon:
Buy Link for B&N:

Monday, February 23, 2015

2015 February birthdays

Since I'm scheduling this post before taking the rodent gang over to the new place, and my internet time is quite limited at the moment anyway, I decided to make today's post about a couple of birthdays that happen in February; the birthday of a family member, and the birthday of a furry friend.

It's the sixteenth birthday of our nephew, Devon (Kelly's sister's son) on Wednesday. I know he won't read this, but I figured I'd say happy birthday to him on here anyway. So... Happy birthday for Wednesday, Devon!

I also forgot to say happy birthday to Rita's kitty, Karma, at the start of the month. Though I did remember to send her a birthday package of some treats I know she absolutely adores. Karma was ten on February 5th - which you'll know if you read Rita's blog, but probably won't if you don't read it. Anyway, belated happy birthday, Karma... Hope you're enjoying your treats as much as you usually do!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Furkid Friday - February 20th 2015

Hellooo everyone!

This is Baggins the gerbil; taking a break from my current digging project to say "hi" to you all.

I LOVE to dig! My brother, Bilbo, enjoys digging too, but he tends to be more interested in constructing burrows that are pleasing to the eye, where as I dig for the pleasure of digging.

The humans say if I keep it up at the rate I'm going, I'll break the gerbil digging world record. I'm not sure what that means, but I haven't broken it yet... At least, I don't remember breaking anything... *Looks confused*

Anyway, when I'm not digging, I like to have a good nibble on whatever's to paw; even if it's just the metal bars of our cage. Never under-estimate the feel of a good bar between your teeth!

If I'm not digging, nibbling, or bouncing over to say "hi" to whichever human - or degu - comes close enough to the bars of my cage for me to know they're there, it's because I'm sleeping.

OK, I'm no good at staying still, so I'm off; got more digging to do if I'm going to make my daily digging goal!

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - February 18th 2015

In case you missed the announcement...

My latest book - a poetry collection called "Rodent Rhymes And Pussycat Poems" - was officially released yesterday!

It's a small collection of short poems for and about our gerbils, degus, and rats, as well as a kitten named Cara, which some of you may remember us having for a few months a little over a year ago.

If you haven't done so already - and like that sort of thing - you can grab yourself an ebook copy from places like Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and a few other ebook retailers. If you want to, that is; which I hope you do, obviously.


I spotted an interesting post about ramblings on the writer's quest the other day, so you might want to go check that out; especially if you're a writer too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rodent Rhymes And Pussycat Poems - officially released today

"A small collection of short poems, all written for some of the various pets my hubby and I have had.

The pets mentioned in this collection include 5 degus, 2 gerbils, 2 rats, and a cat. All poems are captioned with details of the pets they are about."

As you might have guessed, the above is the description of my latest book, and the book in question is a short collection of poetry. The poems are for Luna, Jacob, Jasper, Jenks, Joshua, Cara, Baggins, Bilbo, Skye, and Star.

The book is already available from Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as from some of the other ebook retailers who carry my books, and will be available from the other retailers who carry my books soon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday's random mutterings - February 16th 2015

We got the keys to the new place on Friday, during a long lunch at one of our favourite cafes with our landlords.

Almost everything is packed, and some of it is even in the new place already. Plus, I've sent my new address to everyone who I know has my old one, and made what I could - with it being the weekend - of the change of address phone calls to utility companies and such.

The official move is next week, with the phone and internet switch-over happening on February 26th, but we're taking the rodent gang over early so they have time to adjust to the new place, and can stay out of the chaos of the moving truck moving the bigger items. I'll be sleeping over there with them, because I refuse to leave them there by themselves. Luckily the people who just left the place left me a comfortable sofa to sleep on while I wait for the bed to be delivered.

I'm not going to be online much between now and when the internet gets switched over to the new place, so I've scheduled some posts for you to read while I'm gone. I mean, I'll be coming on to check e-mails from time to time, but that's about it.

I'll tell you about the move and the new place properly when we've moved in, because I don't have much time right now; I still have calls to make, and a few last minut things to get packed up to take with me when I leave with the rodent gang.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Furkid Friday - February 13th 2015

Um... Hi everyone. This is Skye.

I'm a very nervous rat, but I'm going to be brave and do this anyway; even though I already want to go and hide in one of the nests I make. Nests like this one:

Sometimes I hide because I'm afraid of something I heard, smelled, or possibly just imagined. Other times I want some peace from my sister, Star.

You see, I love my sister, but sometimes she can be a bit of a bully. She knows I'm more nervous of her, and that I'm not as big as her, nor as strong, so she takes advantage of that sometimes. The humans tell her to let me be, but she doesn't listen. She's been a bit nicer since we got our bigger cage and I can stay out of the way while she burns off some energy bouncing all over the place though. She says she's trying to toughen me up... But I don't want to be toughened up!

But try not to be too mad at her, because she isn't always mean to me; sometimes she can actually be really nice and will groom me, and share things with me, and cuddle up with me for a nap, which I love.

Like I said, I love my sister... Even though she's a bit of a bully sometimes.

Anyway, I can't take any more of this big wide world, so I have to go hide now.

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - February 11th 2015

I've not had much writing time in this past week, between packing, trying to keep up with e-mails and such, and working my way through a stack of books I was given in exchange for reviews. If you'd like to see some of those reviews, head over to my Goodreads page and click on my "read" shelf (no, you don't need to be on Goodreads to take a look; only to comment and such).

I did another author interview in this past week though. If you missed it, I posted about my author interview with Leyla Atke yesterday.

Speaking of interviews... Did you see my post about Yua's character interview on Sunday?

If you already read both interviews, I hope you enjoyed them. If you didn't, I hope you will take a few moments to give them a read, and that you then enjoy them.

Either way, don't forget - as it says at the bottom of Yua's character interview - you can still get “Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt” for 80% off at Smashwords until February 17th 2015 by entering coupon code ZG28A at checkout.

The book's Smashwords link is


Check out these great writing activities for kids - and grown-ups too; some of them look like they'd be great fun regardless of your age!

Some of them could also be used as writing prompts if you're struggling with writer's block.

There are also plenty of writing prompts and exercises - as well as various writing tips - on Writing Forward, which you may like to take a look at.


Before you go, please spare a moment to do an author friend of mine a favour. It won't cost you more than a few moments of your time, and I assure you he deserves it.

David Staniforth's book "Alloria" is a finalist in the Prize Writer Competition, and he needs your vote!

You have my personal assurance that the book deserves the vote; it's an amazing read! I'm not just saying that because I know the author either... It really is a fantastic book!

So, please click here to vote in the Prize Writer Competition, and give "Alloria" by David Staniforth your vote!

You'll find "Alloria" in the Fantasy catagory.

If you voted... Thank you from both myself and David!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Interviewed by Leyla

I was interviewed by Leyla Atke of recently.

You may remember me mentioning Leyla a little over a week ago? She's the author of that very touching cat story "Charm: An Amazing Story Of A Little Black Cat" and my post about her can be found by clicking here.

Anyway, my interview with Leyla went live today (February 10th 2015) and you can read it at

Monday, February 09, 2015

Monday's random mutterings - February 9th 2015

They - whoever "they" are - say there's no such thing as a stupid question. But I disagree.

There is a stupid question, and that question is "can I ask you a question?"

"Why is it a stupid question?" I hear you ask.

Well, it's quite simple.

First of all, and most importantly, by asking that question you've answered it yourself; if you can ask whether or not you can ask me a question, then you've just proven - both to yourself, and to me - that you are, in fact, capable of asking a question. A process that could have been avoided by you simply asking the question you really want to ask in the first place.

Secondly, that question isn't an accurate vocalization of what you want to know. What you want to know is whether I'll answer a question if you ask me one. So, why not just ask "if I ask you a question, will you answer it?" I think that would make much more sense, as well as actually giving you an accurate answer to what you really want to know. Alternatively, just ask your question, and see if I answer it or not.

And that, my friends, is why I say that the stupidest question anyone can ask is "can I ask you a question?"

What do you think? Do you agree? Or do you think there's a question that's even more stupid?


So, apparently I'm not getting the replies to my comments from those of you who reply to comments on your blogs via e-mail.

I suspected as much, but it was confirmed for me this morning.

I know how to fix it with a standard Blogger account, but I've got a Gmail/Google account, which is set out differently.

Any idea how I fix it so I get the replies I'm supposed to be getting?


I spotted an article on Facebook the other day about how Iceland are to build the first temple to the Norse Gods in 1000 years, which I happen to think is really cool!

I would really love to visit it when it's finnished, though I doubt that will ever happen. I mean, I live only a few hours away from Stonehenge, and I still haven't visited that yet... Would love to, just haven't had the oppertunity.

Still, I can dream, can't I?


As you probably know, last Monday was Groundhog Day. It was also Imbolc, though you might not have known that, since I forgot to mention it in my post for last Monday, and not everyone has Facebook.

Anyway, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, and predicted six more weeks of Winter last week.

Good news for my chances of snow, but not such good news for those who appear to be getting my share of the snow as well as their own.

Actually, it did "try" to snow on Thursday. It was one of those short five minute snowfalls where you just have time to register that it's snowing, and then it stops, and if you weren't outside at just the right time, you'd never know it had happened. Luckily for me, I happened to be sticking my head out of the door to check for the "scattered snow showers" the radio said we were getting at the time, so I didn't miss it. I didn't miss the later attempt either, though that didn't last much longer, and was more like sleet than snow.

Though I really want snow, I have to admit that I do have a reason to be glad we haven't really had any to speak of.

You see, we're moving some time in the next couple of weeks.

Yes, really!

You may remember me mentioning back in November - if you were reading my blog at that time - about my landlord's death on Halloween? It doesn't really matter if you do or not, but... Well... Originally the property was to be kept by his nephews while they did some repair work on it, then sold later; once all the work on it was done, which would have taken a while, since there's quite a bit that needs doing up in the house part of the building, and a few things that need doing down in the basement apartment we live in too. They were happy for us to stay put while they did the work, so we didn't worry about it. Except they were forced in to a sale, so we were told we have to move out after all.

We'd have preferred not to have to deal with a move - especially this time of year - but what can you do? Sometimes these things can't be avoided.

So, yeah, we're moving very soon, and - despite my love of snow - we could probably do without it right about now, if I'm honest.

I'll give you the actual moving date closer, and warn you now that I could have a couple of days where I can't get online at all during the move. I'll schedule my blog posts ahead of time though, so at least you'll have those. Like I said, I'll give you the actual date of the move a bit closer, and tell you about the new place when we're in it.

But right now I have to go, because I have a lot to organize, and someone being sent by the estate agent to look at everything to see what needs repairing or replacing. I can hear him upstairs, and he'll be coming down here when he's done up there... Which could be any moment.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Character interview: Yua the Westie

Yua the West Highland White Terrier - the talking Westie based on my Kero, who's the main character of my latest book "Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt" - is being interviewed today over at Creative Barbwire.

Want to read the interview?

Thought you might!

Just click on the link below to go to the post and read the interview:

Friday, February 06, 2015

Furkid Friday - February 6th 2015

Hello humans, rats, and other furry and feathered readers!

This is Star the rat. If you're wondering, this is what I look like:

I was going to do this post last week, but that degu brother of mine, Jacob, insisted on going first, even though the Mummy human was originally going to let me go first to tell you about the amazing rat cage Skye and I got last month. She let him go first in the end - as you probably noticed, if you were reading this bloggy thing around this time last week - so I had to wait a whole extra week for my turn.

But now it's my turn, and I have some photos of me and my sister, Skye, in our new cage.

The cage was supposed to come about when that Santa Paws guy brought those toys and nibbles. At least, I'm told it was him who brought them, but we never saw him. Anyway, like I said, it was supposed to come around that time, but the one that came just after Santa Paws day was broken, and for some reason that I don't know, it took forever and ever for a replacement to come. That's why it was last month we got our new cage.

Look at all that space:

Us by our house in the new cage:

"Morning... Is it time to get up?"

"Is this my good side?"

We rats are good climbers:

Of course, I'm the best climber out of me and my sister, because I'm bigger and tougher, and she's scared of everything. The humans say I should be a bit more gentle with her, but I'm just trying to toughen her up a bit.

But, anyway, here's another photo of me. This time looking all cute sleeping in the hammock:

Usually I'm jumping and climbing about as much as possible, and when I'm sleeping I'm on the alert for sounds and smells that could mean I'm getting a nibble or some out of cage time, so I don't know how the humans managed to catch me so still like that; nor how they did it those other times they got photos of me all sleepy. Sneaky humans!

Anyway... I have things to explore, so I'll let this do. I hope you enjoyed the photos. Though how could you not? I mean, I'm in them, after all!

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - February 4th 2015

You can get “Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt” for 80% off at Smashwords until February 17th 2015 by entering coupon code ZG28A at checkout.

The book's Smashwords link is


I've been doing more work on my "Zeena Dragon Fae" books, but other than that I don't have anything more to say about my writing this week.


Struggling to get your own writing done? Read this article on "freelance writing: how to handle the distractions" for some tips on how to make sure you get that writing time in.

I posted a copy of this article with tips on dealing with writer's block some time last month, but if you're still stuck, here's another author's top ten tips on overcoming writer's block to help you.


I forgot to hit "publish" on this post, so though the time and date stamps will say it was published Wednesday morning UK time, if you looked for it and didn't see it, it was because it was in draft mode at the time you looked... Sorry about that, LOL!

Monday, February 02, 2015

Monday's random mutterings - February 2nd 2015

It's Monday again, which means that another week has gone by without my promised snow. We've had some amazing storms, which are nice to listen to. But I really would love some snow. There's still time, I guess; it's only just February. But I'm not holding my breath. I mean, I do live near the Southern coast, after all.

Anyway, today's the day the groundhog will tell us if we get six more weeks of Winter weather or not. I wonder what he'll say this year?


My tooth still hurts, and I don't see that changing all that quickly, since it was only this past week (Wednesday, to be exact) that I got a letter confirming I was on a waiting list to get it sorted.

Seriously? It took them this long to send that out? They were taking so long I thought they were going to skip that part. Apparently not!

If just that letter took this long, how long will I have to wait to be seen?

This is seriously beyond stupid! It should not take this long to sort out a problem with a tooth. And this is when I'm supposed to have been listed as a priority... I'd hate to think how long it would be taking if I wasn't!

Anyway, some days I can keep the pain under control, but other days even the maximum amount of pain relief I can risk taking isn't enough. But I guess I'll just have to put up with it a while longer. *Sigh*


Did you see my post about Leyla Atke yesterday?

I read her book "Charm: An Amazing Story Of A Little Black Cat" on Thursday, and thought it was a beautiful and touching story. I don't believe in God, personally - as those who know me will know - but I do believe in reincarnation, and it was the mention of that, combined with it being about a cat, that made me want to read the book.

The book made me think of the furbabies I've lost; especially Chance and Kero, and I think it was responsible for the theme of Jacob's furkid Friday post.

I can't believe how much I miss my boys!


OK, before I end this post, here are some links for homeschooling parents, or curious people in general; just because they looked interesting to me.

If you're wondering, I was looking at them because I felt like reading some Native American and Celtic history, and some of these were among the links that came up when I searched. The others I found with other searches that reading the original sites inspired me to make.

You see, I like doing searches for whatever topic inspires me at the time. Partly because you can learn some interesting things that way, and partly because I love how it helps to confuse the internet gods when they're trying to figure out what adverts to throw at me. They'll never have me figured out if I search for the answers to all those random questions that pop in to my head! *grins evily*

Anyway... The links... Right... Here they are:

Earth Science Enterprise:
National Geographic kids:
Native American facts for kids:
Primary homework help:
The Iron Age Celts for kids:


Oh, and speaking of random questions I do searches for "because I can" sometimes...

Because of discussions about how the internet gods are trying to tell us what we like, I started thinking about technology taking over the world, and did a search where I asked the question "what would happen if computers took over the world?" (yes, I typed those exact words in to a search engine). Mostly this just resulted in sites full of discussions about whether technology will take over the world; people mostly think it won't happen any time soon, if that's any comfort to you.

But it also came up with this entertaining - and not exactly child friendly, just so you know - article about five animals that could take over the world if they wanted to, which led me to this article about five amazing true stories about the invention of the alphabet from the same site.

They aren't the politest of articles, though compared to most of what's out there these days they're perfectly polite, and the second has nothing to do with what I asked; it was just an article from the same site, which caught my attention when I went to read the animal one. But I decided to share them anyway. If nothing else you can laugh at the insanity of the guy who wrote them, and use going to look at them as a way to confuse the internet gods.


That's all I have to say for now.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Leyla Atke

Leyla Atke is an award-winning author who lives in Denmark. Her book “Charm: An Amazing Story of a Little Black Cat” is a 2012 International Book Awards Finalist, 2012 Readers Favorite Finalist, 2014 Readers Favorite Finalist and 2014 Readers Favorite Winner.

"Charm is a tender and loving story of a small cat what is found, lost and found again under the most mysterious conditions. It will make you wonder about life, love and the existence of a higher power. It will break your heart in half and put it back together again. You will fall in love and be forever grateful that you met Charm, if only in a book.
Ask yourself: Do you believe in God? Do you believe in the existence of a higher power and the other world? Do you believe in miracles and reincarnation? Charm: An Amazing Story of a Little Black Cat is all in one story, which will make you think about these things and maybe you´ll find the answer!"

Publisher: Strategic Book Group
Pages: 40 pages.
Genre: animals, cats, miracles, reincarnation, inspirational.

“Charm: An Amazing Story of a Little Black Cat” is available on Amazon and B&N:
Amazon Kindle:
Amazon paperback:
Author website:
And from the publisher:

Facebook author page:
Facebook book page:

Friday, January 30, 2015

Furkid Friday - January 30th 2015

Hello all you humans, as well as all my furry and feathered friends who have managed to grab themselves some internet time.

This is Jacob the degu.

My ratty sister, Star, wanted to be first to do one of these Furkid Friday posts, because she wants to tell you about the new cage she and Skye got a couple of weeks ago. But after I squealed and squealed, the Mummy human agreed to let me go first instead.

You see, I thought it was only right that I went first, because Kero was my bestest buddy, and I'm sure he'd want his bestest buddy to be the first member of the rodent gang to take over the slot he did on this bloggy thing. He'd have told you himself that we were bestest buddies if he hadn't stopped doing these posts before I met him. I'd get him to tell you himself now, but I don't know where he is. The humans say he had to go away, and they tell me I'll see him again when it's my time to cross the rainbow bridge. But that doesn't mean much to me. All I know is my bestest buddy who I used to talk to through the cage bars, and sometimes even climb on when I was out of the cage, is gone, and no matter how much I look, or how many times I squeak, he doesn't come back; which is weird, because he always came running to the cage if I squeaked for him. I really miss my bestest buddy!

My degu and gerbil brothers try to make me feel better. My siblings play with me and groom me, and the gerbils - especially Bilbo - come to the cage bars to talk to me. But it's not the same. Still, I appreciate their efforts.

Anyway, I just wanted to say "hi" and start these posts off by introducing us all for anyone who doesn't know who we are.

Like I said at the start of this post, my name is Jacob, and I'm a degu. I'm one of a group of four; all of us male. My brothers are Jasper, Jenks and Joshua. We're almost two years old.

Living in a cage beside ours are two gerbil brothers. Their names are Bilbo and Baggins, and they recently celebrated their first birthday.

The other side of the gerbil cage is a cage containing the only females in our rodent gang. They're a pair of rat sisters named Skye and Star, and they're about five months old.

So, that's us, and that's it from me for now.

The humans say we're supposed to take turns doing these posts, so I'll squeak to you when it's my turn again.

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - January 28th 2015

It's time for Wednesday's writing related ramblings!

So, what's new when it comes to my writing projects?

I've finished writing a book called "Home Squeak Home" which I plan to pre-release soon; just as soon as I arrange a cover with one of my cover artists, and give it a final edit. There's no rush though, since it's not going to be officially released until April. It's a story based on the events surrounding when we got our gerbils, Bilbo and Baggins, who I've renamed "Sooty" and "Scamp" for the book, since I'm not sure where I'd stand on the use of names so obviously from "The Hobbit" and "The Lord Of The Rings" so thought it was better safe than sorry. Anyway, it tells the story of their introduction to their cage in our home after leaving the pet shop; all from their point of view. As I said, I'm hoping to be able to have it published officially in April, since I already have books pre-released to publish in February and March.

Most of my writing attention is now focussed on a series I've titled "Zeena Dragon Fae" - a four book series about a purple faerie dragon named Zeena, and her pixie friend, Saarik. Zeena is the only one of her kind to have mastered the magic for all the elements, and because of this is the only one able to free the four element fairies when their sister - AKA the fifth element fairy (the Spirit fairy) - kidnaps them out of jealousy. There's more to it than that, but I'm not telling, since I don't want to give spoilers. Plus it's a work in progress so I'm not certain of every detail myself yet. I have enough figured out that I was able to have one of my cover artists (Jacob Blackmon in this case) sort out covers though. Jacob's done three of the four for me so far. I also had him do this picture of Zeena for the top of the page for the series, which will eventually go up on my website:

That's all the news I have when it comes to my writing right now.


Whether you're a writer too, or prefer to just enjoy the work of others, check out the New (To Me) Authors blog. Chris makes it his mission in life to promote as many authors as he can, and share articles and links of interest to authors and readers alike.

If you're a writer, you may also want to head over to, where you can read articles such as Anne M. Marble's article on the art of descriptions, or Victoria Growssack's article on how to flesh out your writing with body language, and much more!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday's random mutterings: the new blog schedule

I've now had my blog public again for a little over a year. In that time I continued with the random posting I was doing while it was private. But I've decided to put a bit of structure in to my posts; especially since I blog about such a variety of topics.

I don't plan to post every day, but will be doing three regular posting slots each week:

Monday's random mutterings
As the name suggests, this will be a random selection of topics, which will include craft updates, reading and movie watching news, and various random happenings from the past week; even if it doesn't have anything more exciting than comments about how I spent most of the week - meaning the parts not taken up with writing, pet interaction and care, and various necessary tasks like eating, sleeping, and the dreaded housework - reading and knitting, the fact I'm about 16 books in to my 175 book Goodreads reading goal for this year, or how I still haven't got my snow (despite having been promised it for a month now).

Wednesday's writing related ramblings
This will be a post about my current writing projects, as well as any interesting articles I've found about writing (if any). My books are usually released on a Tuesday (unless I'm releasing them on a different day because of a date being important) and the Wednesday post won't replace the release announcements I always put up, but will give the release another mention, if there was one that week, while telling you about what else I'm working on. Of course, I expect there will be weeks where I don't tell you anything more than the fact I wrote a couple of chapters of the book that's my current work in progress, but I hope I can make them at least vaguely interesting.

Furkid Friday
Those who've followed my blog for a while will remember how I used to do these posts about what happened in the lives of the furry members of my family; often from their points of view. Well, I've decided to bring them back. They won't be the same without my Kero, but I'm sure he'd be pleased to know that his rodent family members are planning to do their best to give the animal loving readers of my blog their weekly dose of cute critters.

I mean, there will be other posts thrown in sometimes, like my book release announcements, posts for blog parties I sign up for, etc, but the three mentioned above are the planned regular posting slots.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Timelines of events in Canadian and Welsh history (LBE)

Time for a history lesson!


Canadian history timeline:

30,000–10,000 BC - Prehistoric hunters cross over into Canada from Asia.

Circa 1000 AD - Leif Ericsson leads a Viking expedition to the New World.

1451 - The Iroquois Confederacy is formed.

1496 - March 5: King Henry VII of England granted John Cabot the right to 'seek islands and countries of the heathen towards the west, east, and north' sailing under the English flag.

1497 - May 2: John Cabot embarked on his ship, the Matthew, to explore the lands across the Atlantic, hoping to find a north west passage to the Indies and China. John Cabot and his son Sebastian were the first Europeans to discover Canada, landing on the coast of Newfoundland.

1534 - Jacques Cartier discovers the Great Lakes and the the St. Lawrence River.

1603 - March 15: Samuel de Champlain set sail for Quebec from Honfleur, France following in the path of Jacques Cartier to the St Lawrence River and Tadoussac.

1605 - Samuel de Champlain establishes the first successful New France Colony at Port Royal.

1670 - The Hudson's Bay Company established.

1672 - New France expansion into Canada under Louis de Frontenac.

1755 - Expulsion of the Acadians.

1758 - French power in Canada declines as the British capture Ft. Louisburg.

1759 - Battle on the Plains of Abraham.

1763 - New France is formally ceded to Britain; Pontiac Rebellion erupts.

1778 - Captain James Cooke explores the West Coast.

1783 - Loyalist refugees begin arriving after the American Revolution.

1791 - Constitutional Act establishes Upper & Lower Canada.

1812-1814 - War of 1812: American invasion of Upper Canada in the summer of 1812 centring around the Great Lakes and the Canadian frontier.

1821 - North West Company established.

1837–1838 - Rebellions against British rule in Upper and Lower Canada.

1840 - Act of Union.

1848 - Responsible government is won, first in Nova Scotia, then in Canada.

1866 - The Fenian Raid and Battle of Ridgeway.

1867 - Dominion of Canada was formed and self-government was granted to Ontario (formerly Upper Canada), Quebec (formerly Lower Canada), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

1870 - Red River Resistance; province of Manitoba is created.

1871, 1873 - B.C. and P.E.I. join Canada.

1873 - North-West Mounted Police ( Mounties) established.

1885 - Canadian Pacific Railway Completed.

1885 - North-West Rebellion (or North-West Resistance or the Saskatchewan Rebellion.

1898 - Klondike Gold Rush.

1899 - Boer War.

1905 - The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan are created.

1914-1918 - World War I.

1916 - Women win the vote in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

1919 - The Winnipeg General Strike.

1929–1939 - The Great Depression.

1939–1945 - World War II.

1949 - Newfoundland joins Canada.

1950–1953 - Korean War.

1959 - St. Lawrence Seaway (major transportation route) officially opens.

1960 - Quiet Revolution: Rise of Quebec Separation Sentiment.

1967 - Canada’s 100th birthday; Expo 67 World’s Fair in Montréal.

1970 - October Crisis: political kidnappings, Ottawa suspends civil rights.

1970 - War Measures Act Proclaimed on Quebec.

1980 - Québec referendum on “sovereignty-association” defeated 60% to 40%.

1982 - Constitution comes home — with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

1987–1990 - Meech Lake Accord is put forward — and collapses.

1992 - Charlottetown Accord is rejected by a national referendum.

1995 - Québec referendum on sovereignty is narrowly defeated.

1999 - The new Arctic territory of Nunavut is created.

2000 - Clarity Bill outlines the terms of Québec separation.

2003 - Canada says “no” to joining the war in Iraq.

2005 - Former PM Jean Chrétien and sitting PM Paul Martin testify at the Gomery Inquiry.

2010 - Canada sets record for gold medals at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.


Welsh history timeline:

1000 BC - Hill forts built during Iron Age.

500-100 BC - Celts settled in Wales.

43 AD - Romans invaded Britain.

78 - Romans conquered Wales.

100 - Irish raiders settled southwestern Wales.

500 - Saxons invaded Wales.

516 - Battle of Mount Badon stopped the aggressive expansion of the Saxons.

784 Saxon King of Mercia, built Offa's Dyke, created boundary between England and Wales.

1040 - First Prince of Wales, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, secured borders.

1063 - English invaded; Gruffydd ap Llywelyn killed.

1066 - Normans invaded; King Harold of England killed; Marcher Lordships established on Wales' borders.

1215 - Magna Carta signed.

1276-1277 - First Welsh independence war.

1277 - Treaty of Aberconwy signed, ended war; Edward I began building castles.

1282-1283 - Second Welsh independence war.

1284 - Statute of Rhuddlan ended war; Wales incorporated into England; new counties created.

1301 - King Edward I bestowed title "Prince of Wales" upon son, Edward II.

1349 - Black Death swept across country, 40% of population died.

1400-1410 - Third war of independence led by Owain Glyndwr against England.

1402 - Laws passed prohibiting Welsh from gathering, holding office, carrying arms and living in forts.

1410 - King Henry IV supressed Welsh rebellion; the long war against England ended.

1455 - War of Roses began in England.

1485 - War of Roses ended; Henry Tudor (Henry VII) became first Welsh King of England.

1536 - Henry VIII enacted Act of Union; began dissolution of monasteries.

1563 - Bible published in Welsh language.

1642 - Civil War broke out in England.

1644 - The Battle of Montgomery was the first battle during Civil War in Wales.

1651 - Battle of Worcester ended Civil War; Charles I executed; Charles II exiled.

1750 - Industrial Age began; Wales became largest producer of iron and copper in the world.

1800 - First of great Welsh canals built.

1811 - Wales became non-conformist nation, broke with the Church of England.

1831 - Merthy Uprising sparked by workers in debt; troops brought in, more than 24 citizens died.

1839 - Rebecca Riots occurred, toll gates destroyed in protest against high fees.

1850's - Coal fields in South Wales developed.

1867 - Great Reform Act gave vote to male householders; Welsh Liberal Party formed.

1891 - U.S. passed McKinley Tariff, caused severe financial blow to Welsh industry.

1900-1903 - Strike at Penrhyn Slate Quarry longest labor dispute in history; 3000 workers walked out.

1913 - Explosion at Senghenydd's Lancaster Pit killed 439 miners.

1916 - Lloyd George first Welshman to become British prime minister.

1925 - National Party (Plaid Cymru) founded.

1934 - Explosion and fire killed 266 miners at Gresford.

1955 - Cardiff became capital of Wales.

1966 - Slag pile collapsed on school at Aberfan, 144 children and teachers killed.

1977 - National Party (Plaid Cymru) founded.

1978 - Welsh Act introduced in favor of government assembly for Wales.

1979 - Welsh Act defeated.

1984 - Year-long miner's strike virtually ended coal industry in the country.

1996 - Sea Empress grounded off Wales in heavy sea, spilled over 18 million gallons of oil.

1997 - 1997 Referendum passed, gave Wales assembly in government.

1999 - Tony Blair, British prime minister, opened Welsh national assembly (first self government in over 600 years).

2001 - Thousands of sheep tested positive for foot-and-mouth disease were slaughtered.

2004 - Fox hunting in Britain (including Wales) outlawed by British government.

2005 - Charles, Prince of Wales, married Camilla Parker Bowles.

2007 - Snow storms caused schools, businesses to close, over 500 people trapped in cars; smoking ban for all enclosed public spaces went into effect.

2008 - Last deep mine, the Tower Colliery in South Wales, closed; customs officials recovered 22 million counterfeit cigarettes in container from Dubai.

2010 - Unemployment rate in Wales higher than any other home country at 9.2%; Cheryl Gillan became first woman to hold post of Secretary of State for Wales.

2011 - Prince William of Wales married Catherine Middleton.



Saturday, January 24, 2015

Top tips for writing animals with human characteristics by Jennifer Gray

The following was originally posted on


"Jennifer Gray, author of the Atticus Cattypus Grammaticus Claw stories, which feature a loveable rogue cat based on her own pet, shares her tips for writing animal characters"


Animal characters demonstrate the full range of human characteristics. They might be kind, brave, greedy, cruel, selfish, ambitious, shy, confident, lazy, clever, hardworking, independent, fearful, resourceful or just plain silly. They may have particular attributes, like being able to talk! Just like humans, they will undoubtedly have to overcome obstacles in the course of the story. And they will probably learn a lesson or two along the way.

So how do you persuade your reader that it's perfectly acceptable for a bear to stop for a chat, normal for a toad to be hauled up before a judge, par for the course for a hamster to secretly sort out classroom crises, or a spider to write messages in its web (or for that matter for an increasingly cuddly cat to help humans catch a gang of magpies thieves), without resorting to that overused resource, "magic"?

1. Keep it real. Well, almost
What are the animal's perceived characteristics and reputation? This is a good starting point and can take you in all sorts of interesting directions. Is the animal really like that? If so, does it change? Set up conflicts for the animal to resolve. For example, what would make a cat compromise its independence – a chance of a permanent home maybe? Or you might prefer a reversal: a cat that isn't lazy but a workaholic, one that isn't a carnivore but a vegetarian. Play with stereotypes. A third alternative is to exaggerate the animal's known characteristics: the vicious feline with razor sharp claws that rips rats for a crunchy brunch.

2. Inhabit their world
Your animal character might be doing something amazing like saving the world from evil geniuses or something terrible such as plotting the downfall of humans; they might just be heading out for a picnic on the beach with the family, but at all times he or she has to be both credible and appealing to the reader. What makes them tick? What do things look like from their point of view? What are their perceptions of their surroundings, of other animals, and in particular, of humans? Get into their heads and look at the world through their eyes. Try writing a few scenes to test their voice. There's lots of comedy potential to be had in their different take on life. Atticus, for example, although he wants to go straight, will practically sell his soul for sardines. Ultimately, although they have human traits, the fact that animals come at things from a different angle is what appeals about them to readers of all ages.

3. Throw in some surprises
Challenge your character with some unexpected events or the arrival of an unwelcome visitor and see how he or she reacts. What characteristics do they display? Try giving them some unusual personality traits that you might not associate with a particular animal and see if it suits them. A marmalade-eating bear is utterly memorable.

4. Be clear how your character relates to humans
Their interface with the human world is probably the most difficult aspect of your animal character to get hold of. How do they do things? Do they communicate and, if so, how? Personally, I don't have any problem with talking animals, but it can be hard to convince. The more common formulation is that animals can talk to one another and understand humans, but humans aren't blessed with the same insight. Children are way more tuned in to the idea of animals as sentient beings than grown ups are, so letting your readers in on the secret when some of the (adult) human characters in the story don't get it is heaps of fun. Meanwhile your human characters reveal themselves by how they respond to the animal. Remember, they too can change!

5. Don't explain anything!
Whether you choose to let your animal talk to humans, like Toad and Paddington, or communicate in more subtle ways, like Humphrey, Charlotte and Atticus, you need to be clear, confident and consistent in your approach. Don't pause to explain. If it's well written, and your animal character oozes charisma, we'll buy it.