Friday, October 21, 2016

#Furkid Friday: Of #Chinchilla Birthdays, iPhones, And "Pen Time" (FD)

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

See... This is me:

I was moving closer to check out one of the flashy things our human caretakers have when the above photo was taken. The Mummy human was using a version of the flashy thing she calls "iPhone" and it kept talking, so I came to check it out. I tried nibbling it at first, but it tasted awful, so I decided to see if I could figure out how the Mummy human was making it talk. I saw she was pawing at it, so decided to try too. It worked! Every time I put my paw on it, it talked. I thought it was great, so spent some time pawing at it to make it talk to me. The Mummy human said she was trying to do something, and I wasn't helping, but I don't understand what she said she was doing, and frankly don't care, since I was having a fantastic time. The Mummy human says she's going to blame me for any unusual calls on her iPhone. I don't even know what that means, but she was laughing when she said it, so I'm not worried.

Anyway, as you may already know, I had one of those birthday things a little over a week ago. This meant an extra special treat for me... YAY! My other rodent siblings got a little something too, because the human caretakers don't like to give nibbles to one of us and not give anything to the others. For that reason, my chinchilla sister, Maizie, got to share in my extra special treat. I don't mind though, because not only am I really fond of her - she's my bestest friend in the whole world - but the human caretakers said it will be the same when Maizie gets her first ever birthday in a couple of months time. They say it's only right, since we're sharing a cage, that we both get the same. We're not going to argue, since these human caretakers give out great nibbles. Our favourites are cereal and chinchilla cookies.

If it wasn't exciting enough that I had a birthday thing and we got an extra treat because of it, we also had something fun happen a couple of weeks before my birthday, which has been happening regularly ever since. The human caretakers call it "pen time" (for reasons that will become clear when you read on).

The human caretakers got this pen thing they said was called a "rabbit run" for some reason. We didn't understand why at first, since there are no rabbits in our family. But we watched with interest as they set it up and put some fun looking toys in it. Here it is, all set up:

Then, to our delight, we were told it was just for us chinchillas. Apparently it's been set up as a playpen for us, which means it's a safe area where we can get some decent out of cage exercise while being kept away from things like wires, which would be dangerous to us. It's not nearly as tall as our cage, but it has space for us to actually run around in it, where as our cage doesn't have much running space (but makes up for it with climbing and jumping room). Plus, the playpen has toys in it that we only get to play with when we're in it, some of which are different from what we have in our cage.

Maizie was extremely eager to try it out, and happy to allow the human caretakers to pick her up and put her in there right away. Here she is inside the playpen:

I wasn't so eager, and was reluctant to leave the safety of our cage. I take longer to adjust to new things, and felt safer watching from inside our cage while Maizie checked out the new playpen; Maizie's the more inquisitive of the two of us, and she's braver too. I got up the courage to join her after she'd been in there a couple of times though:

I learned quickly that Maizie was right about pen time being fun, so here I am enjoying myself in the playpen:

So, now we have a safe - and fun - place where we can run around and play outside of our cage, which we think is great. I mean, pets and cuddles from the human caretakers are nice, and Maizie and I also enjoy sitting on the Mummy human's shoulder. But having the freedom to run around and burn off some energy like that is even better, and we love our pen time!

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

#Writing Wednesday: The #SWAuthors Battlefield #1066 Round-Up

To make sure you didn't miss anything, here's a round-up of the posts that went up on my blog over this past week to celebrate the release of stories written by myself and other Smashwords authors based around the Battle Of Hastings, and published on the battle's 950th anniversary.

October 13th: Battle Of Hastings Timeline
October 14th: My Battle Of Hastings Children's HistoricalFiction Book Release: Eadweard - A Story Of 1066
October 15th: "Norman Blood" - A HistoricalFantasy Book by Author Barbara G. Tarn
October 16th: "They Marvel at the Star" A HistoricalFiction Book by Author L J Hick
October 17th: "The Battles Of Hastings" - A SciFi Book by Author STEPH BENNION
October 18th: My Battle Of Hastings Author And Character Interviews

You may also want to check out the following:
A spotlight post by Les
A spotlight post by author Ross Harrison
A Wyrd Worlds: Battlefield 1066 post by Steph
The author questions thread on the Goodreads Smashwords Authors group
Barb's "Hastings 1066" posts
A spotlight post by author Kevin Morris
Chris The Story Reading Ape's repost of Kevin's spotlight post
Alex Butcher's "Battlefield 1066" posts

If you helped with promotion, either by putting something up on your own blog, by sharing our posts, or whatever, thank you! If you took the time to ask us questions, or do so in the time remaining before the month is out, thank you for that too! Also, if you brought copies of any of our books, or do so in the near future, thank you for that as well!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My Battle Of #Hastings #Author And #Character #Interviews

As part of our multi-author promotion for the Battle of Hastings stories written by some of us Wyrd Worlds authors, I did an author interview with Barb, which went live on Friday (October 14th 2016). You can read it at

I also did both a character interview and an author interview with Alex. Well, the character interview is technically Eadweard's interview. But, anyway, the interviews went live on Sunday (October 16th 2016) and you can read the post they're in by going to

Plus, don't forget, you can ask me, along with the other authors involved in "Wyrd Worlds: Battlefield 1066" questions all month. The thread for it is at

Monday, October 17, 2016

"The Battles Of Hastings" - A #SciFi #Book by #Author STEPH BENNION

The Battles Of Hastings

Who really won the Battle of Hastings? Eighteen-year-old Jane Kennedy, a twenty-first-century Chicago girl on her first field assignment, had expected a simple mission to gently ease her into the time-bending realities of her new job. Yet here she was, lying semi-conscious amidst the wounded and dying
of a particularly gruesome battle, wondering what the hell she had let herself in for. In this novella based on Jane’s memoirs, follow her strange journey through multiple realities as her fellow time travellers each realise they come from a future with a different past. Is there a rogue on the loose out to change history? The Battles Of Hastings is a romp through alternate time lines in England 1066 to mark the 950th anniversary of the invasion that shaped Britain and Europe today.

Buy it from Smashwords in multiple eBook formats, which will work on your computer, or on pretty much any eReader or tablet.

Find out more about Steph and her books by visiting her website.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

"They Marvel at the Star" A #HistoricalFiction #Book by #Author L J Hick

They Marvel at the Star
By L J Hick

Thomas is a member of the Fyrd and is recruited into Harold Godwinson's army to confront Duke William II of Normandy. He is befriended by a blond-haired man called Kauko as they march to war. Thomas has no time for lords, kings or gods of any kind but Kauko seems to have a large amount of time for Thomas. Why is Kauko so interested in the welfare of a farmer's son, and just what does he intend to do with him? As the relationship develops and the pair of them confront the stupidity and darkness of war, Thomas comes to realise that they did not meet by chance. In fact, Kauko has been preparing for this for a long time.

Buy it from Smashwords in multiple eBook formats, suitable for reading on your PC, or on just about any eReader or tablet.

Learn more about Les and his books via his Smashwords profile or his website.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

"Norman Blood" - A #HistoricalFantasy #Book by #Author Barbara G. Tarn

Norman Blood
By Barbara G. Tarn

Nineteen-year-old Robert Malet followed William the Bastard to England to claim the English throne. The battle near the small town of Hastings is the beginning of the Norman conquest of England, but also of Robert's second life.

A vampire in 12th century Europe traveling, fighting and meeting his siblings in darkness, changing names through the years when his mortal life is gone. Follow Robert Malet, Brother Geoffrey, Robert Capuchon and Mercadier through the years. History and fantasy based on medieval chronicles for a Vampires Through the Centuries novella.

Buy it from Smashwords in multiple formats that work on a variety of eReaders and other devices, as well as from Barnes & Noble, from Amazon US or UK, or from Kobo.

You can learn more about Barb and her books by going to or

Friday, October 14, 2016

Battle Of #Hastings #Children's #HistoricalFiction #Book Release: Eadweard - A Story Of 1066

It’s October 14th 1066, and King Harold’s Saxon army is about to go in to battle against Duke William’s invading Norman army. Among the ranks of the Saxons are two boys who shouldn’t be there: Eadweard, and his best friend, Cerdic.

Daydreams of becoming great war heroes had the boys convinced to disobey their Fathers and go to war, despite the possibility of punishment if they were caught. Now it’s time for the battle to begin, and Eadweard is starting to wish he’d stayed home after all. But it’s too late to turn back now, and Eadweard finds himself witnessing the events of the battle that would later be called The Battle Of Hastings, and learning how different from his imaginings the reality of war actually is.

*Note: This is a work of fiction, which is based on actual events. It tells the story of the battle between King Harold’s Saxon army and Duke William’s Norman army, which took place a short distance away from the town of Hastings on October 14th 1066, in a place now known simply as Battle. Though this is a children’s story, the recommended reading age for this book is eight years and over, since it is a story that takes place on a battlefield, and therefore contains scenes of violence that are not suitable for younger, or more sensitive, readers.

That's the description for "Eadweard - A Story Of 1066" - my first historical fiction book, which is officially released today, in honour of today being the 950th anniversary of The Battle Of Hastings.

You can already buy the eBook from Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as from a few other eBook retailers (such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, and a few others). So, regardless of your prefered method of reading eBooks, there will be a format that works for you via one of those sites.

For those who prefer a physical book... Fear not! A paperback version will become available as soon as possible in the near future; watch my Wednesday blog posts for an announcement of its availability.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Battle Of #Hastings Timeline (LBE)

Tomorrow (October 14th 2016) marks the 950th anniversary of The Battle Of Hastings.

So, while Hastings, Battle, and the surrounding areas, prepare to enjoy their anual celebrations this weekend, I thought I'd kick off the "Wyrd Worlds: Battlefield 1066" celebrations on my blog by sharing a timeline of the events around that time for those with an interest in history that are too far away to participate, or those people - near to Hastings or otherwise - who just want to learn more about the battle.

Every day from now until October 19th, my posts will follow the same theme, as I, along with some of the other Smashwords authors involved in the "Wyrd Worlds" anthologies, celebrate the anniversary of the battle in our own ways. So, if you're a fan of historical fiction, historical fantasy, and/or alternative history with a science fiction element, make sure to stop by my blog every day during this next week.


January 4th 1066
The Death of Edward the Confessor

January 6th 1066
Harold Earl of Wessex crowned King of England

April 1066
Halley's Comet

Spring 1066
Norman mission to Rome to seek Papal support for the Norman Invasion
Preparation for the Battle of Hastings

July 1066
Harold gathers the English army at the South Coast of England in Preparation for the Norman Invasion

July 1066
William prepares his fleet for the English invasion at the River Dives in Normandy

September 1066
The Vikings! Harald Hadrada, King of Norway, launches a Viking invasion

20th September 1066
The Battle of Gate Fulford - The Vikings defeat the English led by Morcar

21st September 1066
Harold marches his army from the South Coast of England to York to defend against the Viking Invasion!

September 25th 1066
The Stamford Bridge Battle - Harold defeats King Harald Hadrada and the Vikings at York

September 27th 1066
Duke William sets sail for England - The Norman Invasion begins

September 28th 1066
Duke William lands at Pevensey, on the South coast of England. The Norman Invasion

September 29th 1066
Duke William occupies Hastings, on the South coast of England

October 1st 1066
Harold , celebrating his victory over the Vikings at York, receives news of the Norman invasion
Harold marches his army back from the North of England to the South of England to defend against the Norman Invasion!

October 6th 1066
King Harold arrives in London

October 1066
The English Army prepare their defences at Senlac

Friday 13th of October 1066
Negotiations between the Normans and Saxons - William demands that King Harold either resigns his royalty in favor of William, refers it to the arbitration of the Pope or let it be determined by the issue of a single combat. King Harold declines

Saturday 14th of October 1066
The Normans and the Saxons prepare for battle - the Battle of Hastings
William Raised the Papal Standard and issued battle orders to the Norman army
Norman Foot soldiers led the way, the archers followed and finally the Norman knights on horseback.
Battle Plans - A fence and a fosse were built as a part of the Saxon defences. The men of Kent were entitled to strike first, the London men guarded King Harold. The Saxon army had no cavalry but stood in close ranks
The Norman servants, priests and clerks looked on whilst the Norman army advanced in three columns
Normans moved on to the assault, and the English defended themselves well
The Two Armies met. Each side taunted the other. The armies exchanged blows and many Normans died in the fosse (ditch).
The Battle raged for hours. A new scheme was adopted by the Norman archers. Arrows were shot in upward in the air striking the faces of the English soldiers. Many had their eyes put out and the arrows flew thicker than rain
An arrow struck Harold above his right eye, and put it out. Many other English soldiers have suffered a similar fate due to the strategy of the Norman archers.
The Saxons still continued to defend well. The Normans then adopted another strategy which deceived the Saxons
The English believed that the Normans were in retreat. The English pursued the Normans and foolishly broke their ranks.
The English were unable to compete against the knights on horseback. The Saxon barricades were broken. The living marched over heaps of the dead and many were crushed in the throng.
The wounded King Harold was killed and his body mutilated by the Normans.
Their King was dead and their Standard lost - many English soldiers fled. William had won the Battle of Hastings - he was the Conqueror
The great Battle of Hastings had raged between 9am and 3pm

Sunday 15th of October 1066
Both the Normans and the Saxons buried their dead. William the Conqueror had defeated the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings and now made ready to conquer the English
Defeat at the Battle of Hastings

October 21st 1066
The Submission of the Saxons at Dover

October 29th 1066
The Submission of the Saxons at Canterbury

December 25th 1066
Duke William is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey in London

Above taken from

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mollie the #Chinchilla Turns 1!

Today (October 12th 2016) our eldest chinchilla, Mollie, is having her very first birthday.

Yeah, I know it's gone fast. In Mollie's case, the time between when we brought her home and her birthday has gone quicker than normal anyway, because Mollie was already half way through her first year by the time we brought her home.

Still, it's hard to believe we've already had her home with us for about five and a half months!

She's not quite as reserved with us as she was when we firtst brought her home, and has shown herself to be a sweet little girl who loves attention and nibbles. Mollie does still have some issues with depression, and maybe she always will, but we never hold her bad days against her. After all, everyone's entitled to bad days, right?

Anyway... Happy birthday Mollie!

#Writing Wednesday - October 12th 2016

Firstly, a recent announcement from those who brought us PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Ideas Month)... It's going through some changes.

Secondly, here's a post by Ross Harrison about the upcoming Battle of Hastings stories, which you'll be hearing a lot about in the next week, since this coming Friday is the 950th anniversary of the battle. Ross isn't involved in the story writing this time, but he's a fellow Smashwords author, and contributed stories to Wyrd Worlds and Wyrd Worlds II, which are the science-fiction and fantasy anthologies the Smashwords group on Goodreads did in the past (some of you may remember that I was involved with Wyrd Worlds II). Oh, and... Just in case you missed my post about it yesterday... those of us involved in writing stories about the battle are answering questions all month on this thread, and I'm offering to repost the questions asked on my blog on to the thread on your behalf.

Thirdly, if you're not sure how to approach interaction on social media, just remember to CARE about your readers.


If you're an author, and if you're anything like me, your least favourite part of being an author is the marketing. Unfortunately, without the marketing getting done, nobody's going to buy the books we write, are they? So, take a look at these 11 ways to overcome marketing dread, and see if you can make your marketing plan more inviting. While you're at it, you may also like to check out these easy ways to streamline your author brand and winning strategies for your author event. Plus, with the new enhanced, and more flexible, coupon options from Smashwords, you have a bit more flexibility if part of your marketing campaigne is going to include coupons for eBooks you publish via Smashwords.

Regardless of your plans for marketing, here's a great article on how a little knowledge can go a long way when it comes to writing a story readers will love. Plus, these next couple of articles will be useful if you're writing something where you need to make sure you get your facts right about Medieval England, or know the differences between China and Japan.

As this next post explains, you need mini goals to complete your novel. This doesn't just apply to those 80 thousand words or longer ones mind you. It doesn't matter how long, or short, your writing project is, setting mini goals and rewarding yourself when you reach them can be a great way to encourage yourself to complete that story you always wanted to write. Plus, getting the rewards makes the writing process even more fun than it already is!

Finally, with the big holidays upon us, you may like to read this article on crafting seasonal stories that sell.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wyrd Worlds: Battlefield 1066 - Ask The #Authors

Some of the authors who brought you "Wyrd Worlds" and "Wyrd Worlds II" have teamed up to bring you stories of the Battle of Hastings.

Now they're also taking questions about themselves and their stories. So, if you have anything you want to ask Barb, Les, Steph, or me, pop on over to the thread on the Smashwords Authors group on Goodreads, which can be found at

Or, if you can't post on the thread for whatever reason, feel free to post your questions in the comments section below this post, and I'll post them to the thread on your behalf.

Monday, October 10, 2016

#Reading Ramblings: #Book Scents And Reading #Challenges

Do you know what I miss most about being able to read a physical book?

The scent!

Even my brother, Carl, who has never been able to read print, loves the scent of a good paperback or hardback book.

If you do too, you may appreciate this post on the scent of a book.

I might have to see if I can get me some of those book scented candles...


None of the Goodreads groups I'm on have been doing challenges lately, hence the lack of posts about them. However, I've been doing my yearly Goodreads reading challenge, of course... That just requires me to make sure I mark a book as read on Goodreads after I've finished reading it.

My 2016 reading goal was set to 216 books. If you know me, and how much I read, you probably won't be all that surprised to hear that I actually already met - and passed - my reading goal for the year. Kelly says I'm making it too easy on myself. Maybe he's right... Maybe next year I should actually challenge myself?

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Random Question: Of #Motorbikes And #Bees - Is it Just Me? It probably is!

Motorbike engines make different sounds, depending on various factors, which I think have to do with engine size and the type of bike, but don't quote me on that because I don't know much about that kind of thing.

Anyway, my question is: did you ever notice that some motorbikes, when heard from a distance, produce a droning sound very similar to that which would most likely be produced by a giant bee?

Or, is it just me? Am I alone in thinking this?

Judging by the reactions of my hubby, brother, and Dad, it's probably just me... Maybe I've finally lost it completely?

Friday, October 07, 2016

#Furkid Friday: Joshua The #Degu On Plans For Next Weekend

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

Guess what I just found out? The Mummy human says there won't be a "Furkid Friday" post next week! She says we'll be back to our usual schedule the week after, but she has something planned for that weekend, so has decided not to have us do a post next Friday, since she'll be posting something else.

On Mollie's birthday week too!

You know the worst part? It's all about some battle that happened 950 years ago! How is that more important than letting our chinchilla sister, Mollie, post about having her very first birthday? I mean, the battle happened years ago. Yeah, it's kind of interesting. But not as interesting as we are.

Sure, the Mummy human says she'll post a birthday message for Mollie on her actual birthday - which is Wednesday, by the way - and Mollie will get to do her birthday post the following Friday. But that's totally not the point, and I do not approve!

Mollie says it's perfectly fine, as long as she gets the special birthday nibble the human caretakers have promised her on her birthday, and doesn't have to wait for that. The Mummy human has promised she won't have to wait for her special nibble, so she's not complaining. I am, however, because I happen to think we should be more important than anything else... Especially things that happened so long ago even the human caretakers weren't born yet, and especially considering the human caretakers should be making even more effort than usual to make us feel special after we lost our brother, Jenks, a couple of weeks ago.

So, please don't blame us rodent types for the missing post next Friday... It's the humans' fault!

Squeak soon,

Thursday, October 06, 2016

A #Poem For #NationalPoetryDay

Today is National Poetry Day, which I'd forgotten it was supposed to be until I saw it mentioned on Twitter earlier, hence my not having a post ready for it. But, in honour of the day, I'd like to share a poem. So, just for fun, here's one I wrote based on the lost sock incident I mentioned in Sunday's blog post:

My Poor Lost Sock

Where, oh, where could my little sock be?
Oh where did my little sock go?
He went in the machine with his twin,
But where he is now, I don’t know!

I checked in the washer and the dryer too,
But no sock was there to be seen.
I checked in the basket again just in case,
But the basket is empty and clean.

Where, oh, where could my little sock be?
The poor thing is lost and alone!
If you see my poor sock, wherever he might be,
Please send my poor sock back home!

© 2016 ~ Victoria "Tori" Zigler

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

#Writing Wednesday: #Blind #Writers And #Authors

"How do blind people deal with the writing and publishing process?"

I've been asked that question - or some form of it - so many times I've lost count.

First of all, let me make one thing clear: there are as many different ways for blind writers to approach the writing process as there are for sighted writers. Now, most of the time people do take this in to account, and spacifically ask how "I" approach it, but I have had the question worded in the way I posted it above too, as if all blind writers are the same. We aren't. No writer is exactly the same, whether they can see or not.

A sighted writer may write in a notebook first, and then type it up. A blind person has the option to do something similar using a hand-held writing frame. Some sighted writers like to use an old typewriter, and worry about getting the stuff typed up later. Blind writers have the option to do the same using a perkins brailler (a very chunky braille writing machine, which looks a bit like an old typewriter, but has a lot less keys). Other sighted writers immediately go down the technology route, using phones or tablets, or simply skipping straight to using a word processor on a laptop or desktop computer. Again, the same is true of blind writers, though admittedly there are some devices that aren't accessable to the visually impaired, and special software is sometimes required to make others accessable. Like I said, it varies.

Personally, I hate the hand-held writing frames, because they're a little awkward to use, in my opinion, and most of them require you to write each character backwards. Using one of those is a last resort for me, and when I do I keep it really short. Partialy because I have to, since my writing frame is a small one (it's around the size of a credit card, though a little thicker) and partially because I find it takes so much work to write even a short note. Besides, with the need to remember the characters backwards, combined with how fiddly I find using the frame, I find anything longer than a few words is forgotten by the time I've done a few words anyway. However, there are blind writers who do use this option, some of whom will quite happily set up a larger frame and write out a full sheet of paper in this manner. Like I said though, this option isn't for me, and if I'm forced to use it, I simply take down a couple of key words that will jog my memory later. Mostly I try to avoid being forced to use this option though. To me, this is like the sticky notes some sighted writers use to remind them of key points, or make short notes to remind them later of an idea they didn't have time to work on.

Then there's the brailler. I don't really mind using the brailler, and can quite happily tap out pages and pages on it. However, I rarely do. Why? Well, for one thing, the brailler isn't very portable since it's so heavy, and mostly I figure I might as well use the PC if I'm at home and save the effort of typing up what I already "typed" on the brailler. But also because that thing is quite noisy. You know how noisy the old typewriters used to be? Well, maybe you don't, but if you don't then just ask anyone who dealt with them, and they'll tell you. Anyway, imagine several of those tapping away in unison, and you'll have some idea of the noise of the brailler. This means I can only use it at certain times, unless I want some rather upset neighbours, and since my hours are all over the place, it means I'd be limited as to when I could work on my writing projects if I made the writing on the brailler phase a regular part of my writing process. Instead, the brailler is a sort of backup option for me, which I very rarely use. There are, however, some people who prefer to do their first drafts on a brailler, much like there are still sighted writers who like to use an old typewriter, or who prefer to write their first draft by hand.

When I need to write something and am not at my computer, the option I generally go with these days is to use Apple Notes on my iPhone, which always has voice over (Apple's text to speach software) turned on. This is a relatively new addition to how I do things, since I've only had the iPhone for about a year, and it took me several months to get to grips with the touch screen keyboard, and I still don't like to use it for long writing sessions, since touch screen keyboards are annoying. Yes, I know there's the option to dictate to Apple Notes, but if you've ever tried this, you'll know it's equally frustrating, since the voice to text software doesn't always get your words right. Still, I do write short pieces - a scene here and there, or a short poem - and send them to myself via my iPhone. I don't consider it an important part of my writing process though, since mostly I know I'd get up and go to the PC if I didn't have the option to use Apple Notes... Just like I did before I had it. I know of a few sighted writers who do the same, whether they use it for just short pieces like I do, or write longer pieces.

The important tools for me are Microsoft Word and JAWS. I could use Open Office instead of Microsoft Word if I wanted to, but I'm more used to Microsoft Word, and since I have a copy, I use it. JAWS stands for "Java Access With Speach" (or something like that) and is my screen reader. It's how I know what's on my computer screen, whether I'm using Microsoft Word to work on some writing, browsing the internet, or pretending to be doing something important while really playing GMA Cards or BG Scrabble (card and scrabble games for the PC, which are designed to be accessable to the visually impaired). As long as JAWS is working, I can just type away happily, and then have JAWS tell me what I just wrote. I was taught to touch-type while I was still in school, and am a fast typist as a rule... Unless I'm working slowly because I'm thinking. Typing straight in to Microsoft Word is my prefered method of writing, both because I can write fastest that way, and because I then have the option to edit at will (something more difficult with the iPhone, and even more so when it comes to using braille). Plus, since I use the internet to publish, it means my work is already right there on the computer for me to use. I think, if I'm not mistaken, this is the prefered method of most sighted writers these days too, though they obviously don't have JAWS. I happen to know that a couple do use screen readers - cheaper ones than JAWS though - as an option for helping with proof reading their books, so what they do isn't all that different from my own method.

This brings us nicely to the publishing process...

To be honest, I haven't a clue how other blind authors deal with the publishing process. I can only tell you how I do it. In fact, I'm not even entirely sure how most of the sighted authors I know do things.

Anyway... Remember how I said JAWS lets me use the computer? Well, there are a few things it can't handle. Visual things like images, for example. When it comes to the things JAWS can't handle, I simply grab sighted help. Nine times out of ten, this sighted help is my hubby, Kelly. He acts as my eyes for things JAWS can't handle, or things off the computer (like checking out the proofs for my paperbacks) and puts up with my frustration when I get cranky about JAWS not being willing to do something I think it should do. However, things JAWS can handle, I do myself.

That's basically it. I hope this answers the questions everyone has on the subject. If not, however, feel free to ask about whatever I didn't explain about in the comments section of this post. Also, feel free to post any comments you have.

Please note that this invitation to ask questions extends to other things as well, and not just my writing and publishing methods. Don't fall in to the trap of those involved in the "How Eye See It" campaigne. You can't put on a blindfold and understand how things work for a blind person. The blindfold test is not an accurate one, since anyone trying a new method of doing something is obviously going to find it difficult, whether they're blind or not. If you want to know how I manage to do something, just ask, and I'll do my very best to answer.

Monday, October 03, 2016

#Reading Ramblings: September 2016 #Book #Reviews (LBE)

It occurred to me recently that those of you who enjoy books, but aren't on Goodreads, might like a book version of the "TV Talk and Movie Mutterings" posts I do. It also occurred to me that doing these posts would encourage me to actually put up a bit of a review for each book. I always review the ones I've been given copies of in exchange for reviews, and am pretty good about putting reviews on Smashwords for the books I have from there, but I mostly don't bother putting the Smashwords reviews anywhere else, and if I just grabbed a book randomly from Amazon, nine times out of ten I don't do more than rate it and move on. I want to change this and write at least a few words... Even if I only put the reviews on Goodreads and on here. I'm not going through all the books I didn't do more than just ratings for in the past, because there are just too many. But I'm determined to be better at putting some kind of review up from now on... At least on Goodreads... And I figure those book loving followers of my blog who aren't on Goodreads might be interested in knowing what I've been reading, as well as what I thought of the books. Mind you, people on Goodreads might also be glad of having everything in one post too, so... *Shrugs* Anyway, I'll post what I read one month at the start of the following month.

I warn you though, I read more than I watch, so these book posts will be longer than the TV and movie ones usually are; even on a month like last month, when I considered myself to be really busy and not reading as much, I generally read more than most people. I also warn you that I read across multiple genres, so these posts will contain everything from children's books to books aimed at a more adult audience; please check the book's reading level, as well as any content warnings, before reading, especially when children are involved.

I admit I cheated a little with the reviews for most of the first September books. I hadn't actually reviewed most of the books I read during the first week of September on Goodreads, but I'd put reviews on Smashwords for most of them, so I grabbed those reviews to put in this post, and added a short review just for this post for the one I didn't have either a Smashwords or Goodreads review to copy. I did start doing it properly after that though.

You can click on the book title, or author name, to learn more about one or the other. Yes, the links take you to Goodreads, but you don't have to be a member to view the book and author details.

As a point: the format that you're taken to if you click to see the book details may not actually be the format I read the book in. I often don't bother to check what format I'm marking as "want to read" or doing my review on.

OK... Here's what I read last month...

EndgameEndgame by Kate Wrath
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've loved all the other books in this series, and this one was no exception; this was an excellent ending to the series!

The Path of Water (Quests Book 1)The Path of Water by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have enjoyed the other books I've read in this series, but I enjoyed this one even more. All her previous books have given Barb the practice needed to
grow as a writer, and this is more obvious in this book than it has been in any other. Excellent worldbuilding, a colourful cast of characters, and great descriptions, all come together to make for a fantastic read.

The Path of Fire (Quests Book 2)The Path of Fire by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is another excellent example of how Barb has grown as a writer. Plus, it was interesting getting to see a few of the events from "The Path Of Water" from another point of view, followed by the chance to see what happened to a couple of the characters afterwards. An all round excellent read!

Beat The HackersBeat The Hackers by Stephanie Dagg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a great book, which makes for an exciting and enjoyable read.

My Vibrating Vertebrae: and other poemsMy Vibrating Vertebrae: and other poems by Agnes Mae Graham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A beautiful collection of poems.

More Tales of the Southern Kingdoms - volume 2More Tales of the Southern Kingdoms - volume 2 by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an excellent and well-written collection of tales, which makes for an enjoyable read, and is a wonderful addition to the series.

Oh Auntie!Oh Auntie! by Stephanie Dagg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book! It's well-written and very entertaining. The story will amuse children and adults alike, whether they're familiar with the way things work on a farm or not.

The Jack Russell Adventures (Book 1): The Pet ShopThe Jack Russell Adventures (Book 1): The Pet Shop by Jackie Small
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a really cute and entertaining story. The only reason I don't give it the full five stars is because I felt the ending was too sudden. Having also read book two, I know it continues from where this one left off, but I think it would have been better had the two books been combined.

The Jack Russell Adventures (Book 2): A New LifeThe Jack Russell Adventures (Book 2): A New Life by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An excellent - and really cute - continuation of Rocky and Rosie's story.

The Jack Russell Adventures (Book 3): Santa's Extra PresentsThe Jack Russell Adventures (Book 3): Santa's Extra Presents by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a really cute Christmas story, which will bring a smile to any animal lover's face.

Oh Grandad!Oh Grandad! by Stephanie Dagg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is an amusing and fun read.

Into the VinesInto the Vines by Caroline Clemens
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I hate writing bad reviews. I know how much work an author puts in to writing a book, and I hesitate to take away their pride in what they’ve created. Unfortunately, there are times when I feel I have to; times when only my policy of always finishing a book I start keeps me reading until the end, and I’d be lying if I gave a glowing review. This is one of those times. It’s a shame, because I think the book has some potential. Unfortunately, for it to reach that potential the author needs to do a lot more research, not to mention some serious re-writes and edits to catch inconsistancies and contradictions in the plot, unnecessary repetition in the dialogue of things mentioned in the description, issues with character behaviour that’s either not realistic for the type of character in the situation they’re in or contradicts previous behaviour, etc.

Dylan's Yuletide JourneyDylan's Yuletide Journey by Jemima Pett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a creative and entertaining story. It wasn't as festive as I expected though, and I didn't feel we had the full details of why the strawberry juice supply had run out (though we did get most of the story; I just felt some details that could have been added were left out). Still, this was a great short read.

Oh Santa!Oh Santa! by Stephanie Dagg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an amusing little story, which could make for a fun holiday read for the whole family.

BookElves Anthology, Volume 1BookElves Anthology, Volume 1 by Jemima Pett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Like with most anthologies, I found that I enjoyed some stories more than others. Also, in the case of this particular anthology, some of the stories didn't feel very festive, some felt like they could do with a few more details added to them, and some had both issues. Still, this was an entertaining collection of stories, which made for a great read.

Pig's Big SecretPig's Big Secret by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a very creative story, which is an amusing and entertaining read.

SaltSalt by Helen Laycock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The first half was a bit slow, but it picked up after that and became quite an exciting read.

Rhyming Rabbit's MischiefRhyming Rabbit's Mischief by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is another creative and entertaining story from this author, and I loved it!

Viridian System Sampler: 8 Short StoriesViridian System Sampler: 8 Short Stories by Jemima Pett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a great little collection of flash fiction stories, which are perfect to give you a taste of the world, while making you want to know more. The little explanations of how the stories came about were a nice touch too.

The Parting Glass (Mrs. Meade Mystery, #2)The Parting Glass by Elisabeth Grace Foley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a well-written and enjoyable story. It says in the description that it's perfect for fans of Miss Marple style mysteries, and I completely agree.

The Oldest Flame (Mrs. Meade Mystery, #3)The Oldest Flame by Elisabeth Grace Foley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is another enjoyable and well-written cosy mystery from this author; the perfect accompaniment to a nice cup of tea.

The Silent Hour (Mrs. Meade Mysteries #4)The Silent Hour by Elisabeth Grace Foley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another well-written and enjoyable addition to the series, which is perfect for those who enjoy a cosy mystery with their cup of tea.

The Jack Russell Adventures (Book 4): The ChallengeThe Jack Russell Adventures (Book 4): The Challenge by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is my favourite of the stories in this series so far. It's cute, it's funny, and it's well-written. Plus, it teaches a great lesson about how not everyone is good at the same things, and that's just fine.

The Jack Russell Adventures (Book 5): The PlayThe Jack Russell Adventures (Book 5): The Play by Jackie Small
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another cute and entertaining addition to the adventures of Rocky and Rosie.

The Princelings of the East (Princelings of the East, #1)The Princelings of the East by Jemima Pett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a great read, with a plot that moves at a nice pace, and a great cast of characters. I personally think it would have been great if the author had gotten more in to the animal character thing and done things like using "paw" instead of "foot" for example, but that's just a personal opinion thing, so I'm not going to count the fact she didn't against her. Anyway, this was a fun read, with lovable and sometimes entertaining characters, and an interesting plot.

The Princelings and the Pirates (Princelings of the East, #2)The Princelings and the Pirates by Jemima Pett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an excellent second book for the series. I love the characters, and the plot is exciting and interesting. Like with the first book in this series, I think it could have been even more amazing if the author had used more guinea pig terms rather than people words, such as "cavie" instead of "person" for example. However, since I know this is just something I personally think would have been a nice touch, and not doing so doesn't spoil the story in any way, I'm not going to count her not doing so against her.

The Princelings and the Lost City (Princelings of the East, #3)The Princelings and the Lost City by Jemima Pett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an excellent addition to the series, which contains both a fun and interesting plot, and an entertaining and lovable cast of characters.

CranfordCranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As others have pointed out before me in their own reviews, there is no traditional character arc to this story, and it is more like a linear series of anecdotes protagonised by the same bunch of mainly female characters. Anyway, I found it to be an enjoyable read, which was often amusing, and thought the cast of characters were interesting.

A New Beginning (Shade Break Farm Series, #1)A New Beginning by Nicole Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For the most part I thought this was a really good read. However, I think the author was in too much of a hurry to have things move ahead when it came to training the horse and having horse and girl bond, since everything happened too quickly with that; a new animal needs time to adjust, especially if it's been mistreated in the past, and a horse that's basically skin and bone (as I was led to believe this one was when it arrived) shouldn't be ridden until it's built up its strength, especially not by a teenage girl almost immediately after it arrives. Other than that though, as I said, I thought the book was really good.

Kick On! (Shade Break Farm Series Book 2)Kick On! by Nicole Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was better than the first. It's a shame several editing issues let it down, or it might have been a five star read.


Click here to view all my reviews on Goodreads. The link takes you to where you can view everything on my bookshelves on Goodreads, be it books I've read, the book I'm currently reading, or the books I've marked as to-read, and should be able to be viewed by non-Goodreads members as well as those who are on Goodreads.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Inside Our Heads (AE&D)

When I'm checking my Twitter notifications, I see the list of top ten trending items, and have gotten in the habit of checking what they are. I mean, I might as well since JAWS makes me scroll through them to get to my notifications anyway, right?

So, whild doing so on September 12th, I discovered it was National Video Games Day.

If it's some kind of holiday - well known or not - that's generally among the trending items, and I usually tell Kelly if it's a national or international day of something, as well as what it's the national or international day of. So, I told him it's National Video Games Day.

In reply, he said, "I thought that was every day; it is for me!"

Not only was his reply funny in itself, but it was made even more so by the fact those had been my exact thoughts - unvoiced at the time - on learning it was National Read A Book Day almost a week before... Every day is read a book day for me!


Me: “One of my socks is all lost and alone. If you see it, please tell it I miss it and want it to come home.”

Kelly (in a totally neutral and relaxed tone): “OK. I’ll look for it in a sec.”

I'm thinking when conversations like these are normal, it's time to be concerned for my sanity... Or, was that time ages ago? *Wink*

*Sensative readers may be pleased to know that, with the exception of a little distress for all concerned, no humans or socks were harmed - intentionally or otherwise - in the making of this post. The sock in question was later discovered in a crumpled heap of misery on the floor in the small gap between the washing machine and tumble dryer. It has since been reunited with its twin, and is no worse for wear from its ordeal.


A couple of weeks ago, we reached level five in our Pathfinder roleplaying adventure. The following is part of the conversation that took place while we were sorting out the new skills and stats for our characters, in particular while we were updating the new skills and stats for Kelly's paladin character...

Dad (GM): "OK, so what did you take?"
Kelly: "I got another channel."*
Me: "What? Like BBC Sport?"

(I appologize for my choice of channels... It was the first one that popped in to my head that we don't have).

*Note for non-roleplayers: channel is one of the healing spells certain characters can get, and is used to heal several people at once, but you're limited to how many times you can use it in a day (as in a game time day; not the same as a gaming session, or real life day) depending on how many times you've "taken" it during character creation or leveling.

Friday, September 30, 2016

#Furkid Friday: A #Chinchilla #Photo Shoot

Hi everyone. This is Maizie the chinchilla.

The Mummy human decided we hadn't had our photos done enough since we came to live with these human caretakers, so she decided we should have a short photo shoot. Quite frankly, we agreed we needed more photos, so we were willing to play along.

Please excuse the shots were our eyes look funny colours... It's the light catching us, not our eye colour.


This is me:

Here I am again, this time sitting on our gnawing block:

The human caretakers opened the cage door to get better shots. Mollie was more interested in the human caretakers themselves, but I was checking out how much of a drop there was to the ground:

The human caretakers did say I could come out if I wanted to, but I decided it looked too scary. I love coming out and climbing on the Mummy human (her shoulder is a good place to sit, for example) but I'm not so keen on the idea of running free. I keep considering it, but I'm not ready yet. Or, I wasn't when these shots were taken, anyway.

Mollie, on the other hand, isn't the least bit interested in getting freedom right now, and instead took the invitation to come out as her cue to climb on to the Mummy human's arm for some cuddle time:

She did climb on to the Mummy human's shoulder a little while later - and so did I - but the humans had put away the flashy thing by then, so they missed getting that shot. I expect they'll keep trying though.

Squeak soon,