Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - May 27th 2015

I did a better job of getting my writing time in during this past week, despite computer issues, and being busy arranging for my books to become available in print.

I'm able to do the interior files myself (now that I've figured out how to do so) and Iggy is very kindly helping me with the cover files, since doing so is impossible for me with lack of sight.

Thanks so much for helping, Iggy... I really appreciate it!

So... I'm now waiting for a stack of proof copies of my books to arrive. They will be available to buy after they're approved to be sent out in to the big wide world, which will happen once they get here, and I can get Kelly to take a look for me to make sure there aren't any issues that need fixing (there shouldn't be, but you never know). How long this will take is anyone's guess at the moment, since it depends how long the proofs take to arrive, and whether they need anything done (which would mean fixing the issue, and then ordering a new proof copy).

I'll give you details of where you can buy them once the first books become available.

For now though... Time for those writing links...

So... How many tools are in your writing toolbox?

Do you feel your story is too short? Well, here are 5 ways to stretch your word count, which should help you make it a bit longer.

Trying to decide if you should start doing author interviews? Here are 10 reasons why you should interview your fellow fiction authors. I've never interviewed another author, though I do often do author or book spotlights; especially if it's an author I like. However, I have been interviewed by several authors myself, and am generally happy to accept interview invitations from people if they ask me directly. Oh, speaking of author spotlights though... Come back on Saturday for one I'm putting up for another author.

Staying on the theme of learning about an author for the moment... This article gives some tips on writing and placing your author biographies - useful if you're not sure what to put in that "about the author" box, on the profile page of your website, etc.

Also, here's some advice on how to promote your books, but keep your friends.

Finally, always remember: keep cracking yourself open, because - while doing so may not guarantee you'll be a best seller - it will increase the chances that those who read your book will love it, and that they'll not only come back for more, but also talk to their friends about your book.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Heroika 1 - Dragon Eaters



The art of dragon killing:

Dragons have been eating humans for centuries. Now heroes throughout history stalk their legendary foe. Learn how to hunt, kill, and eat the wild dragon. Never before has revenge tasted so good. A literary feast for the bloody-minded.

In Janet Morris' anthology on the art of dragon killing, seventeen writers bring you so close to dragons you can smell their fetid breath. Tales for the bold among you.

HEROIKA 1 -- DRAGON EATERS, an anthology of heroic fiction edited by Janet Morris, features original stories by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, S. E. Lindberg, Jack William Finley, Travis Ludvigson, Tom Barczak, J. P. Wilder, Joe Bonadonna, Milton Davis, Alexandra Butcher, William Hiles, M Harold Page, Walter Rhein, Cas Peace, Beth Waggoner Patterson, Bruce Durham, and Mark Finn.



Check out this U-tube link: http://youtu.be/JbmtCQJsKIU

Grab your copy today, from Amazon.com or Amazon UK, or Amazon Canada.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Why I'm happy and sad at the same time

Yesterday was our 12th wedding anniversary.

I'm not sure how Kelly's managed to put up with me for so many years, but I'm glad he has.

We were going to celebrate by going to see the new Avengers movie before it stops showing in our nearest movie theatre, since we both want to see it; we enjoyed the first Avengers movie, so figure we've got a good chance of enjoying the second. But I'm waiting for a delivery that might have come yesterday, and couldn't take the chance of missing it. So, we just had a quiet day at home with some take-away, and will get the movie on DVD when it comes out.

Besides, I'm kind of torn between being happy that we've just celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary, and being sad because we always celebrated our anniversary and Kero's birthday as one big celebration... Until this year, of course.

You see, today would have been Kero's 11th birthday.

Kelly brought Kero for me for our first anniversary. Well, I had him late, but that was because we had to find the perfect puppy for me, and wait for him to be ready. But he was still an anniversary gift from Kelly... My gorgeous Westie boy! Though I mostly just called him "Kero" is name was actually Keroberous, which means loyal protector... And there never was a more loyal dog than my Kero.

Chance was an anniversary gift too; I got him two years later. I was supposed to have had Dakoda (Chocolate Point Siamese cat) but ended up with Chance (Oriental cat) instead. Actually, that's how come Chance got his name... Because we got him by Chance. That wasn't his official title on his GCCF papers, but it was what we called him most. Though I did use his "real" name of Silva Flame sometimes; especially for vet trips, and when he was naughty.

My boys were the best gifts anyone could have ever had, and I miss them more than words could ever express.

So, while I'm happy to be able to celebrate 12 years with my wonderful hubby - who's been through a lot with me, and put up with a lot from me - I'm also sad that my boys are no longer here to help us celebrate.

Don't get me wrong, I miss the other furry, feathered, and scaled family members we've lost too. But my boys were special to me, and I always had a closer bond with them than with any of our other babies... Especially with Kero, who would howl as if the world was ending whenever I left him to go anywhere he couldn't come.

Rest in peace my beloved boys, and know you're never far from my thoughts, and always in my heart.

Also, happy anniversary to Kelly... Thank you for giving me the gift of our boys, and for putting up with me for 12 years.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Furkid Friday: the pet section is up! (kinda LBE)

The pet section of our website is completed at last!

There's not very much information on some of the pets, but all the following pets are featured:

Birds:
Squalker AKA Snowy
Rosie
Diamond
Gem
Charlie's Angel

Cats:
Third Time Lucky AKA Lucky
Samantha AKA "Katie The Kitten"
Treacle Topping Sparkles Moglyn AKA Topsi
Shadow
Tinkerbell AKA Tinkers
Sakura Avalon
Ayla Malaika
Megan Zara Rose
Myskanco Dakoda Diero AKA Koda
Myscanco Chance Silva Flame AKA Chance
Cara Crookeshanks

Degus:
Luna
Jacob
Jasper
Jenks
Joshua

Dogs:
Bella Shadow-Thorn
Castellan Keroberous AKA Kero
Jayde Bramblerose
Lucy Blackthorn

Fish:
Bill
Ben
Angel
Smash
Snatch
Bert
Kian
Katie
Comet
Seren
Nemo
Flounder
Alpha
Bravo
Alex
Cody
Blue

Gerbils:
Bilbo
Baggins

Guinea Pigs:
Gwydion

Hamsters:
Teddy
Sampson Jamie AKA Sammy
Jessica Marie AKA Jessie
Hugo De Hamsta
Hamlet De Hammie
Butterscotch Pudding AKA Butters
Mr. Sirius Black

Rabbits:
Bubbles
Samhain Magik
Little Shiloh
Stew Pot AKA Stewie

Rats:
Skye
Star

(Yes, I name fish; I name pretty much everything, so if you're surprised, you obviously haven't had time to get to know me properly yet, LOL!)

To read about any of the animals listed in this post, and to see photos of those we have photos of, check out the pet section linked to above, or - for the direct links to pages for the species in question - follow the links below:

Birds: http://www.zigler.co.uk/birdss.htm
Cats: http://www.zigler.co.uk/cats.htm
Degus: http://www.zigler.co.uk/degus.htm
Dogs: http://www.zigler.co.uk/dogss.htm
Fish: http://www.zigler.co.uk/fish.htm
Gerbils: http://www.zigler.co.uk/gerbils.htm
Guinea Pigs: http://www.zigler.co.uk/guineapigs.htm
Hamsters: http://www.zigler.co.uk/hamsterss.htm
Rabbits: http://www.zigler.co.uk/rabbits.htm
Rats: http://www.zigler.co.uk/rats.htm

If you have anything you'd like to ask about any of the pets, which I didn't cover in the write-ups about each of them, ask away. I'll answer if I can, or provide a reason why I can't if I'm unable to do so; even if that reason is that I don't remember.

***

I feel sad seeing the number of pets we ended up rehoming for one reason or another; I miss them all, and hope they understand that I did what I thought was best for them at the time, and it wasn't always my choice to make.

I miss those who have crossed the rainbow bridge too; especially my boys, Chance and Kero. Rest in peace furry, feathered, and scaled friends!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - May 20th 2015

Great news for those of you who prefer paperback books: I'm in the process of arranging for my books to be available in paperback!

It might take a while - since I have quite a long backlist to get sorted - but it's happening, thanks to a very good friend's help.

I'll give you more details on this soon though, since all I can really tell you right now is that it's happening as quickly as possible.

***

In case you missed my post about it on Thursday, I did a guest post, titled "From Idea To EBook, which was published on New Author Online last Wednesday (May 13th 2015).

I also did another guest post on the same blog, which I posted about on Sunday... The same day it went up. This one is all about writing tools I've used; from when I was a child and could still see to read the scribbled stories I wrote in pencil, to more recent writing tools.

***

In the past couple of weeks, I've not only been writing guest posts, and starting to sort things for arranging paperback versions of my books, but I've also finished the editing of "Zeena And The Dryad" and pre-released the eBook version of it via Smashwords.

That's right... The first "Zeena Dragon Fae" book is coming soon!

The official release date is June 6th 2015.

I've not made much progress with writing the second book in the series yet, because I honestly haven't had time to sit down and write it. I mean, between finishing up sorting "Zeena And The Dryad" and getting that pre-released, and starting to arrange things to get my backlist of books in print... Well, you get the idea, I'm sure.

OK... I admit it... I could have spent a bit less time reading so as to get more writing time in. But, honestly, I have read less than normal in the past couple of weeks. Besides, after spending several hours on the computer doing editing and formatting, I really need a break from sitting here. There's only so many hours a day you can sit at a computer before you've had enough. Know what I mean?

So... How about you? If you're a writer too, are you getting your writing time in? Or, are you struggling to write most days? If so, here's an article that will help you to improve your ability to concentrate; assuming that's your problem, since - for all I know - your problem might just be the one I've had in the past couple of weeks... Not enough hours in the day.

You know... When you do manage to get that writing done, it's not unusual to find yourself shouting "Help! My characters are all too similar!" If this is you, read the tips in that article.

Speaking of characters... As a reader, have you ever wondered why bad thhings happen to good characters sometimes? Or, if you're a writer, have you ever wondered if you're doing the right thing in allowing bad things to happen to your characters? Well, here's an article on Using book characters as fall guys - An author's perspective by Susan Day which might shed a little light on why it happens, and - perhaps - help you to decide if you did the right thing in allowing it to happen in your own book.

When I share these writing links, I hope you find them interesting, and that the ones full of tips help those of you who are writers; even if you only write on your blog. I mean, the learning process with any craft never really ends, does it? With that in mind, here's an article on 9 things I've learned about being an author. Well, not me personally - though I have learned many of them - but that's what the article is called, and I think it's worth a read.

I also think this article called "writing advice that no one wants to hear" is a great one, and happen to agree with the advice she gives in it.

No matter what though, always remember... Dream big!

What's the best way to support your favourite author? Do you know? If not, read the article, and it will tell you. Plus, here are 20 easy ways a reader can help promote a book.

Finally, here are 10 tips on how to survive in a relationship with a writer - just in case you happen to be in a relationship with one, and need some survival tips! The tips can apply to friends of writers too... Oh, and - just so you know - my favourite chocolate is white chocolate, though other types are acceptable too. *wink*

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday's random mutterings: our recipes (LBE & FD)

Did you know our website has a recipes section?

Well, it does!

The recipes are mainly simple ones, but - if you're interested - the recipes currently on the site are as follows:

Bread, Cakes And Biscuits:
Cookies
Jazz's Sandwich Bread
Weetabix Loaf Cake
Welsh Cakes
Chocolate Nests
Rice Krispy Cakes
Blueberry Crumb Cupcakes
Glazed Cinnamon Buns
Chunky Monkey Vegan Cake
Bread And Butter Pudding
Rock Cakes
Home-Made Pizza
Brown Sugar & Spice Shortbread
Carrot Cake
Fruit Scones
Cheese Scones
Caroline's Lime In The Coconut Cupcakes
Raisin & Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins
Alber's Sweet Corn Muffins/Bread
Pretzels
Disappearing Pretzel Wands
Melissa's Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Halloween Biscuits
Christmas Cake
Rise 'N' Shine Banana Bread
Nut Filled Cake
Flap Jacks
Cherry Coconut Biscuits
Australian Crunch
Snow Queen Cake

Chocolates And Sweets:
Peppermint Patties
Opera Fudge (White Fudge)
Truffle Hedgehogs
Peppermint Toads Or Chocolate Frogs
Banana Ghosts
Sugar Skulls Or Mice
Candied Apple Rings
Candied Fruits Or Nuts
Coconut Ice

Drinks And Smoothies:
Cafe Especial
Purple Ginger Gulps
Sherbet Punch
Solar Tea
Orange Jubilee
Basic Lemonade
Styxie's Smoothie
Dairy Free Fruit Smoothie
Stephy's Beta Carrot-ene Smoothie
Strawberry Yogurt Shakes
Maple Milk
Rosmerta's Butterbeer
Rosmerta's Pumpkin Juice
Pumpkin Shake
Witch's Brew
Wassail - The Traditional Yuletide Hot Drink
Alternative Wassail
Banana-Nog
Non-Alcaholic Egg-Nog
Redwall Strawberry Fizz
Mint Tea
Ambrose Spike's October Ale

Jams, Butters And Syrups:
Lavender Syrup From Mrs. B's Kitchen
Simple Homemade Butter
Raspberry Jam
Apple Syrup
Vegetarian And Vegan Foundation Nutty Banana Spread
Lemon/Orange Curd
Apple Butter
Chef Meg's Pumpkin-Apple Butter
Sweet Mince Pie Filling
Butter Icing
Orange Marmalade
Meadowcream
Honey And Elderberry Syrup
All-Purpose Cashew Cream: Plain, Sour, Or Sweet

Puddings And Sweet Pies:
Plum And Apple Compote With Spiced Yogurt
Rhubarb Crumble
Banana-Yogurt Ice-Cream
Gypsy Tart
The Perfect Orange Cone Head Dessert
Baked Apple
Apple & Banana Fritters
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Fluff
Sunflash's Sweet Oat Cakes
Simple Vegetarian Raspberry Trifle
Easy Cheesecake
Basic Vanilla Custard
Basic Rice Pudding

Sauces, Dressings And Chutneys:
Tomato Sauce
Peanut Satay Sauce
Cheese Sauce
Pesto
Apple Sauce
Plum And Ginger Sauce
Sweet And Sour Sauce
Hoisin Sauce
English Mint Sauce
Pumpkin Sage Sauce
Basic White Sauce
Spiced Apple And Plum Chutney
Honey Cream Cheese
Garlic Cheese Dressing
Orange Honey Dressing
Honey And Cinnamon Glaze
Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
Runner Bean Chutney
Oriental Dressing

Various Other Recipes:
Short Crust Pastry
Spinach Quiche
Sausage, Egg And Bacon Pie
Toad In The Hole
Cream Of Whatever Soup
Hummus
Traditional Waffles
Pancakes
Trail Mix
Pumpkin "Goop"
Pumpkin Pasties
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Chestnuts
Autumn Baked Omelette
Bubble And Squeak
Cranberry Nut Roast
Deeper 'N' Ever Pie
Gorgonzola Pear Pasta
Jyagatama
AliceKay's Macaroni Salad
Birds Nest Salad
Nancy's Broccoli Casserole
Curry
Somerset Minted Egg Pie
Stir Fried Asparagus And Sugar Snap Peas

Note that some recipes come with variations or serving suggestions, which are mentioned below the recipe itself on the page it appears on.

To check out the recipes, click on the link for the recipe section above, or go directly to the page for the catagory the recipe is under, by using the following links:

Bread, Cakes And Biscuits: http://zigler.co.uk/breadcakebiscuit.htm
Chocolates And Sweets: http://zigler.co.uk/chocolatesweet.htm
Drinks And Smoothies: http://zigler.co.uk/drinksmoothie.htm
Jams, Butters And Syrups: http://zigler.co.uk/jambuttersyrup.htm
Puddings And Sweet Pies: http://zigler.co.uk/puddingsweetpie.htm
Sauces, Dressings And Chutneys: http://zigler.co.uk/saucedressingchutney.htm
Various Other Recipes: http://zigler.co.uk/variousrecipe.htm

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Guest post: writing tools

I've done another guest post on New Author Online, which went up today.

This time the topic is writing tools; from early scribbles when I still had enough sight to use a pencil, to more recent writing tools.

If you want to read the post, just go to http://newauthoronline.com/2015/05/17/writing-tools-a-guest-post-by-victoria-tori-zigler/

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Giveaway for Cheetaka, Queen of Giants

Book title: Cheetaka, Queen of Giants
Author: Gita V. Reddy
Giveaway dates: May 11 - May 19, 2015
Copies available: 3
Countries available: US and GB

"Cheetaka, Queen of Giants, is a fantasy in Giant Land.

When nine year old Tara is hurtled into Giant Land, she is not the only one amazed. The giants also are astounded to see her because they believe human beings are fictitious creatures, found in story books. Cheetaka, the greatest queen of all times, takes Tara under her care. After six centuries of peace, the Giant Lands are in turmoil. King Druaka, and his cruel son Trimo are determined to rule over all the other kingdoms. Though ancient laws forbid magic, they raise an army of magicians. They believe that Tara is a powerful magician in human form, and want to capture her. Cheetaka has to stop them and also restore Tara to her world. What follows is danger, courage, and a fascinating journey home. And yes, fun, because Tara and the boy-giant Montek become great friends.

This book was first published as an ebook in 2014.

*Giveaway is for paperback copies."

The giveaway is being run by the author via Goodreads, so... To enter the giveaway, go here: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/137743-cheetaka-queen-of-giants

Friday, May 15, 2015

Furkid Friday - May 15th 2015

Hi humans, rodents, and readers of any other species. This is Jenks the degu.

My gerbil brother, Bilbo, ate part of the clip that holds his water bottle to his cage.

The humans weren't very pleased with him; especially since he decided to do this in the middle of the night, so they knew nothing about it until there was suddenly a loud *thump* as the water bottle fell off and hit the floor.

The humans have managed to be creative and make it work - for now - but my gerbil brothers will have to have a new water bottle, because the type it is won't work with the normal wires that hold water bottles on to cages (which is what the rest of us have).

Apparently the gerbils only had that type because it came with their cage, and the Mummy human says it's stupid to have a plastic clip for something a rodent will use anyway, and she's surprised it took Bilbo so long to chew through it; says she should have either replaced it, or made sure there was a spare, long ago.

Of course, this doesn't stop them from being annoyed with Bilbo, which isn't really fair, since they admit they knew it wasn't an ideal type of water bottle clip. Yet they're annoyed with my little gerbil brother? That doesn't seem right!

Why should Bilbo get the blame for a human mistake?

It's just like how the humans are when we degus chew things; it's always our fault!

I wish the humans would learn that if they don't want us to chew things, they should either make sure they aren't chewable, or keep them out of our reach. It's really that simple!

Humans! Can't live with them, can't live without them!

Don't get me wrong... I do love my humans! They just frustrate me sometimes... *Sigh*

Anyhow, the humans say they're going to go to that petstore place to get the gerbils a new water bottle; this time one with a sturdy wire instead of a plastic clip, so they can't chew it so easily. I bet Bilbo will try and chew it anyway; it's what we rodent types do.

Squeak soon,
Jenks

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - May 13th 2015

You don't need any recognized qualifications to become a published writer; you just need to find your own writing style.

Are you feeling like life is rushing by, yet struggling to even sit down and write? Well, 'wannabe' or 'aspiring' authors, if yeez doubt yeez can write, at whatever age, please read this great post.

When I write, I try to just let the words flow as they will, and worry about writing rules later. How about you? Do you let your inner child write? Or does the adult part of you insist on taking control from the start?

Also... Is writing just a hobby to you? It isn't to me; it's much more than that to me! This is probably part of the reason why I don't usually have issues with writers' block, and am mostly good about self motivation. However, if you're a self-published writer - or, indie author, as some prefer to be called - and motivation is a problem for you, here's an article on tips for the motivation of the indie author to help you.

Or, if you're a poet with writers' block, then these tips on growing students who love poetry may help you. I know they're aimed at helping children, but they could just as easily help adults.

Of course, once you have your story - or poetry collection - figured out, you'll want to figure out your target audience. So, here are some tips on how to identify your target audience to help you with that, so you can start working on your marketing strategy.

Not having much luck with your marketing strategy? Well, here's an article on the top ten reasons why your marketing efforts fail, which may offer some answers. Officially the tips are aimed at actual businesses, but selling books is technically a business, and it doesn't hurt to bear the tips in mind.

Another thing which might help is to support your local library by donating print copies of your books. It might sound like a strange marketing strategy, but sometimes people who borrow a library book will later buy their own copy if they enjoyed it, and having your books in circulation gets people talking about them, which is a good thing.

Having visitors to your blog - or social media platform - is a good thing too. But, are you struggling to come up with new ideas for posts? This article on blog post ideas for writers: solving the "what do I blog about?" conundrum may help. As mentioned at the end of the article, there are more ideas in 101 blog post ideas for writers (part 1) and 101 blog post ideas for writers (part 2). There's also this list of 365 days of blog post ideas for authors and writers and this one with 101 fabulous blog topic ideas. Some of them would be great ideas for bloggers in general; writers or not.

Before I end this post, I just thought I'd ask... Are there any topics in the lists linked to in the above paragraph, which I haven't discussed, that you'd like to hear about from me? Or, any I've touched upon in posts or interviews, which you'd like to hear more about? Or, are there things you'd like to hear about from me that aren't mentioned on the lists at all? If so, list them in the comments section of this post; whether directly on my blog, or where it appears on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. I'd love to know what you'd like to read about.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday's random mutterings - May 11th 2015

To celebrate Spring, the quarterly reading challenge for the second quarter of 2015 - so, April 31st to June 30th 2015 - on one of the groups I'm a member of over on Goodreads was a Spring Scavenger Hunt!

All we had to do is to find and read a book for an item on the list.

These were the challenge levels:

1-3 Books: Budding Flower
4-6 Books: Patch of Clover
7-9 Books: Bright Sunflower
10-12 Books: Cherry Blossom Tree
12 + Books: Aspen Grove

This was the List:

-- Bee: A book that has yellow and black on the cover.
-- Butterfly: A book where a character goes through a metamorphosis of some type.
-- Bud: A book that has a baby or small child in it.
-- Mushroom: A book that either deals with or mentions illegal substances.
-- Ant: A book with a character(s) that are slaves, mindless drones, or working class.
-- Spiderweb: A book that "sticks" with you, or that you can't stop thinking about after you've read it.
-- Leaf: A book with a green cover.
-- Pond: A book that has a large body of water somewhere in the setting.
-- Snail: A book that moves at a snail's pace (or takes you a long time to read!).
-- A Nest: A book that focuses on family, or has a family as the main characters.
-- The Sun: A book that's warm and bright--very fun and happy.
-- Tree: A book that's at least 450 pages in length.
-- Acorn: A book that's less than 300 pages in length.
-- Bird: A book that features something that can fly. (For example, superheroes that can fly, a pilot, airplanes, etc.).
-- Flower: A book that has more than 3 different colors on the cover.
-- Cricket: A book that has some type of music mentioned in it.
-- Rain: A book that deals with depression or has a character who is depressed.
-- Clouds: A book that has dreams in it.
-- Squirrel: A book that moves at a very fast pace, or that doesn't take you long to read it.
-- Seeds: A first book in a series.

And these are the books I read, and which items of the list they were for:

-- Butterfly: Mary Anne Saves The Day (The Baby-Sitters Club, #4) by Ann M. Martin.
-- Bud:The Truth About Stacey (The Baby-Sitters Club, #3) by Ann M. Martin.
-- Mushroom: Deceived (Star Wars: The Old Republic, #2) by Paul S. Kemp.
-- Ant: Revan (Star Wars: The Old Republic, #1) by Drew Carpyshyn.
-- Spiderweb: Charlie Dead And the So-Called Zombie Apocalypse (Charlie Dead, #1) by Geoff Camphire.
-- Pond: Legacy Of Mist And Shadows (The Age Of Awakenings, #3) by Diana L. Wicker.
-- Snail: The Ix by Andrew P. Weston.
-- A Nest: Dawn And The Impossible Three (The Baby-Sitters Club, #5) by Ann M. Martin.
-- The Sun: Kristy's Big Day (The Baby-Sitters Club, #6) by Ann M. Martin.
-- Tree: The White Princess (The Cousins' War, #5) by Philippa Gregory.
-- Acorn: Claudia And The Phantom Phone Calls (The Baby-Sitters Club, #2) by Ann M. Martin.
-- Bird: The Black Fairy And The Dragonfly by Paul G. Day.
-- Cricket: Dance Of The Robin by Sue Taylor.
-- Rain: Anne by Carmen Stevens.
-- Clouds: The Dreamweaver's Journey (The Age Of Awakenings, #1) by Diana L. Wicker.
-- Squirrel: Sam Visits The Farm by Sheryl Tidlund.
-- Seeds: Kristy's Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club, #1) by Ann M. Martin.

I wasn't sure how many I'd end up doing, but managed to achieve the "Aspen Grove" level, since I did most of them. Actually, I may have done them all, but I decided not to worry about the ones where you need books with colours of certain covers; I never do those, since I can't see for myself what colour cover my book has, and don't think it's important enough to ask for help with.

That's why I'm posting this now, even though I technically haven't done every single one, and there's still more than a month and a half in which to do them; because I'm calling it quits at this point.

***

Speaking of reading challenges...

My Goodreads reading goal for 2015 was 175 books, but I increased it to 200 around the end of April, because at that point I was 51% done with the original goal. Changing it took me from 51% down to 45% at the time.

I'm now at 51% again, and still ahead of the goal, but I'm not going to increase it any more.

***

The weather's been strange.

First it's warm enough that we're glad of the breeze blowing in from the ocean, and then it's cold enough that we need to put the heating on. So, I never know from one day to the next - sometimes from one hour to the next, in fact - if I'm going to be wanting to curl up in a blanket nest, or wishing for air conditioning.

I like most types of weather - though, I admit, I prefer colder weather, since I love snow - so I don't mind really. It's just a bit frustrating when it goes from one extreme to the other in such a short amount of time, and then back again.

Oh well, at least it makes for some excellent storms for me to listen to.

The seagulls like the storms too, since bad weather tends to bring the fish to the surface of the ocean; I hear them calling excitedly to one another as they fly above the rolling waves, with their sharp eyes gazing longingly down at the water in hopes of being the first to spot a fish. I feel sorry for the fish, but fish are a better diet for the gulls than our garbage.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Furkid Friday - May 8th 2015

Hi humans, rodents, and anyone else who happens to be reading this. This is Joshua the degu.

We saw the humans come home with a new wheel a couple of weeks ago, which we thought was strange. We degus already have a wheel, after all. Although, we'll probably need a new one soon, since our attempts at all running on it together have weakened the support bar.

But, anyway, as it turned out, the new wheel was meant for our ratty sisters, Skye and Star.

The humans have been meaning to get them a wheel since they moved in to their bigger cage, but with the moving thing happening it never ended up happening... Until about two weeks ago, as I already said.

This is my ratty sister, Star, using it as a seat just after the humans put it in their cage:


Our ratty sisters didn't seem sure what to do with the wheel at first. My brothers and I offerred to go and show them, but for some reason the humans don't like the idea of us getting in each other's cages, so they said we couldn't do that.

Typical humans; tell us to be nice to each other, and when we offer to do something nice, you won't let us do it! How are we supposed to keep up with what you humans want, when you keep sending us mixed messages like that?

Anyway, my ratty sisters had to figure out how to work the wheel by themselves. I think they're figuring it out, though I still think they'd have had it all worked out quicker with our help. The humans wouldn't listen when I pointed this out though.

Squeak soon,
Joshua

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - May 6th 2015

I've made some good progress with the "Zeena Dragon Fae" books.

"Zeena And The Dryad" is now in the editing phase, and I've officially started writing "Zeena And The Gryphon" (the second book in the series). OK, so I haven't made much progress with writing it yet, but I've started.

I'm happy with that, even though I'm not quite as far along in my progress with the series as I'd hoped to be by this point in the year. Still, I'm seeing progress, and pleased with how the story that makes up the whole four book series is developing, so I'm not complaining.

Anyway... The plan is to have "Zeena And The Dryad" ready to publish some time next month.

***

I have my plot bunnies under control; they have their very own document, where they're free to multiply as much as they like, while they wait for me to pick one to work with.

How about you? Do you have your plot bunnies under control?

Once you do, and have decided which one to tackle first, you should check out these writing tips for creating your own characters, and these 5 essential story ingredients, to help you turn your plot bunny in to an amazing story!

Always remember though... Whether you're a published author, a blogger, or whatever, don't forget that when it comes to your writing, there's something very important to pay attention to before publishing: grammar - it gets your attention! OK, every step of the writing process is important - whether you're posting a short message on Facebook or Twitter, doing a quick blog post about your day, or writing a 400 page novel - but take your time with editing and proofreading; your readers will appreciate it, and be more likely to come back for more. Besides, that extra bit of editing will turn a story from a frog, in to a prince, which is most definitely something you want!

When your book is finally complete, you'll need to write a synopsis. Here are the dos and don'ts of writing a book blurb to help you out.

Also, if you plan to set up an author website - or already have an author website - here's an article on building your author platform: 8 essential elements for your website. I've got most of these on mine, though my photos aren't head shots, but show more of me than that. All I don't have is the newsletter/mailing list. I keep thinking I should sort one out, but never end up doing it.

***

I recently came across a site for a group of magazines published by a company called Cricket Media that are aimed at children of various ages. I did consider submitting something to them, since the magazines are aimed at children of various ages from toddlers up, so my stories and poems would fit in there somewhere. After some consideration though, I decided against it. I mean, if you'd asked me if I wanted to try it ten years ago - in fact, even five years ago - I would have jumped at the chance. But now... Well, now that I know I can self-publish and keep my rights to publish where I like, I'm reluctant to give up my rights to any of my work. So, though the pay isn't too bad for submitting stories or poems for children to the magazines (it's not amazing, but it's not too bad) and the guidelines are pretty simple, the fact I'd have to wait three to six months just to find out if I'm going to lose my rights to publish a certain piece elsewhere, or if they're just going to reject it, puts me off, since I know I can publish things myself more quickly, and without losing the rights to my own work. I decided I'd post about it here though, in case others are less reluctant to give it a go.

Do you self-publish too? Well, here's an article that talks about 5 self-publishing trends to know in 2015, which you may like to read.

Also, if you have a day job to go along with your writing, make sure you're aware of the hard part before you quit it, because "the gold rush is over" now. Besides, any kind of freelance job will have its periods of ups and downs, or feast and famine, where things are tough and funds are hard to come by. There's a lot of luck involved on the path to success, after all!

Of course, first you have to finnish something already!

Monday, May 04, 2015

Monday's random mutterings: special bloggerversary and royal baby edition - May 4th 2015

May the fourth be with you on this Star Wars day!

I'm reading some Star Wars novels at the moment. They're set around the same time as the computer game Kelly plays, which is set some time before the Star Wars movies; about three thousand years before, apparently.

Anyway, today is also a bank holiday in the UK; this past weekend was the May Day bank holiday weekend, to be exact, since May Day - or, Beltane... Call it whichever you like - was the end of last week; last Thursday, or last Friday, depending on who you ask, and whether they consider the date to celebrate to be April 30th or May 1st.

Personally, I consider it to be May 1st, but the local annual celebrations for it are happening today, since they generally happen on the first Monday in May; the May Day bank holiday, as I already mentioned.

As part of the May Day celebrations, there's some kind of motorbike show happening in town today, and I can hear the bikes roaring past as they race along the road that seporates us from the beach. There's a bunch of other stuff happening to, but I'm too far away to hear the other stuff, and don't really feel like going to check it out. There will be Morris Dancing though; there usually is.

Anyway... That's not all that's happened this weekend to give people reason to celebrate!

The little Prince of Cambridge, George Alexander Louis, who will be 2 years old in July, became a big brother on Saturday, when his baby sister was born; I'd planned to put her name in this post, but it doesn't seem to have been announced just yet.

So, proud parents, Prince William of Wales, Duke of Cambridge (who's full name, if you're interested, is William Arthur Philip Louis) and Princess Catherine, Dutchess of Cambridge (who's full name is Catherine Elizabeth, if you'd like to know that too), now have one of each; a little prince, and a little princess.

From what I've heard, Charlotte and Alice seem to be popular choices for those making bets on the name. Personally, I think either Catherine, Elizabeth, Mary, Margret, Anne, or Victoria are quite likely to be in there somewhere, possibly even more than one of those names, and agree with those saying there's a high chance of the name Diana being in there too. Maybe they'll call her Charlotte Diana Elizabeth, or something like that? Hopefully they won't leave us wondering too much longer.

Regardless of her name though, as it happened, the little princess was born on my hubby's birthday. Yep, it was Kelly's birthday Saturday!

My first ever post was a belated happy birthday post for my hubby. Which reminds me...

Yesterday (May 3rd 2015) was my bloggerversary; I've now had this blog for 9 years. Sure, I stopped blogging publicly for a while, but I was still technically blogging, and the blog still existed, so it counts.

So...

Congratulations to the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge on their new little princess, belated Beltane blessings to all, belated happy birthday to Kelly, horray for reaching my 9th bloggerversary, and happy Star Wars May Day bank holiday to all!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Anthology to raise money for Guide Dogs - a post by Kevin Morris

I recently learned about an anthology to raise money for Guide Dogs from one of its contributors: fellow blind author, Kevin Morris.

I originally thought I would do a post with links to where you can download the anthology and make a donation. But when I told Kevin, he kindly offered to write a post to tell you all about the anthology, as well as why the Guide Dogs For The Blind Association is so important to people like him. So, since I thought his idea was better, here's what Kevin had to say...

***

I lost the majority of my vision at about 18-months-old as a consequence of a blood clot on the brain. While at a school for the visually impaired I learned to use a long white cane which greatly enhanced my ability to live and work independently. I still own a white cane (although not the same one I had as a boy)! However today I use my trusty four-legged friend, Trigger who accompanies me everywhere while my cane moulders away, forgotten on a shelf in my hall cupboard.

Trigger and my previous 3 guide dogs have enabled me to live and work independently. A cane can help the visually impaired user avoid obstacles, prevent them from falling off the edge of the kerb and, generally make getting around much safer than would be the case in the absence of a cane. However guide dogs possess the ability to avoid obstacles so the guide dog owner may not even be aware they have walked past an obstruction due to the dog having taken evasive action.

Guide dogs have the capacity to remember routes which can be extremely helpful. On occasions I have been unsure as to my location but my trusty friend has got me to my destination safe and well.

While guide dogs don’t understand that traffic is dangerous, they are taught to sit or stand at kerbs and to stop dead if a vehicle is approaching. While guide dog owners are told not to rely on the ability of their working guide dog to prevent road traffic accidents Trigger has, on several occasions prevented me from walking out in front of oncoming traffic, something which a cane can not do.

Guide dogs are not merely mobility aids. I, along with all other guide dog owners love our four legged friends. Trigger and I are together more or less constantly which builds a tremendous bond between us.

As you can see from the above, guide dogs provide invaluable assistance to their owners. The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA) is a registered charity receiving no government funding. Given the huge benefits I and other guide dog users have gained from the Association I wanted to give something back by raising money for GDBA, hence the anthology in aid of Guide Dogs was born. The book is free to download. However I and my fellow authors hope that anyone who downloads the anthology will make a contribution to GDBA. To download the anthology and make a donation to GDBA please visit the following link, http://newauthoronline.com/anthology-to-raise-money-for-guide-dogs/.

Finally I would like to thank Tori for giving me the chance to talk about the work of Guide Dogs.

Kevin

Friday, May 01, 2015

Furkid Friday - May 1st 2015

Hi humans, gerbils, and other types of readers. This is Bilbo the gerbil.

Hey, did you read the post about the release of mine and Bilbo's new ebook this past Tuesday? Baggins is super excited about it. But, now that I think about it, my brother tends to get super excited about just about everything. Still, I have to admit, having a book out is really cool!

You know what else is cool?

A while back - I forget when - the humans brought us this wooden cube toy thing with holes in the sides. We didn't really know what to do with it at first, so we just buried it for later. I've learned recently though that it's a really cool and fun toy! You can climb through the holes and come out wherever you want, and gnaw on it.

Here's a photo of me demonstrating how it works:


Pretty neat, huh?

Squeak soon,
Bilbo

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wednesday's writing related ramblings - April 29th 2015

It's been a busy week!

***

The coupons to get a discount on some of my books are still valid today, and will be for a few more days!

You can find the details of which books are on sale, as well as the coupon codes you need to use to get the discount, by reading last week's "Wednesday's writing related ramblings" post.

The coupons are only valid until May 1st 2015 though, so hurry, because that's only a few days away!

***

I did a guest post on Friday, which I posted about on Saturday.

If you missed it, you might want to go check it out... Especially if you're a fan of the "Kero's World" books, since that's what it's about.

***

As I mentioned in my post this past Sunday, I'm this week's guest author on http://ritaleechapman.com!

This means that for this week only, you can read my interview with Rita Lee Chapman on her website, because I'm her author of the week.

If you want to do so, go to http://ritaleechapman.com/guest-authors and take a look.

But, remember... The interview is only up for a few more days, and will be coming down on the weekend, so if you want to read it, then you need to do it now!

***

Did you see yesterday's post?

If you did, then you'll already know about my latest release: a book called "Home Squeak Home" that tells the story of our gerbils becoming part of our family. If you didn't, then you know about it now, because I just told you.

The story is a semi-fictionalized account, which is told from their point of view, with some changes; one to make the book more child friendly, and the other to make sure I don't get in trouble for using names so obviously taken from JRR Tolkien's books. The first change is that it's a little boy named Matthew who brings them home, rather than an adult, and the second is that Bilbo and Baggins are called Sooty and Scamp in the story.

If you're interested in hearing more about the writing of "Home Squeak Home" - and missed seeing it when I posted about it yesterday - you might want to check out my guest post from yesterday.

Anyway, some people were able to get copies of the book early, but now everyone can grab copies. Well, everyone who wants to, that is!

***

As I mentioned at the start of the month, April is NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month).

Many poets were challenging themselves to write a poem a day to celebrate; in fact, that's the general idea, and what most poets who acknowledged NaPoWriMo actually tried to do, I believe. But I only challenged myself to do a poem a week.

I wasn't just being difficult, or trying to make my challenge stand out from the crowd or anything. I just knew a poem a day wasn't going to happen, and wanted to set myself a goal I had a chance of succeeding in completing. I mean, what's the point of setting yourself a writing goal you know you can't reach? All that does is set you up for disappointment when you don't reach the goal.

So, my challenge was to write four poems in April... I wrote seven!

***

See... I told you it's been a busy week!

In fact, it's been quite a busy month, despite the fact I'm not quite as far along with my "Zeena Dragon Fae" books as I'd hoped to be by this point in the year; they are coming along nicely though.

But, I'll tell you about that next week, and keep the writing related links I originally planned to post today to share next week too, because I think I've given you enough to check out this week, and this post is starting to get quite long.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Guest post: writing Home Squeak Home

I did a guest post on Kevin's blog today.

Kevin is a fellow blind author, who you will be hearing more about in a few days, because he'll be doing a guest post of his own on this very blog at the start of May.

But, for now, let's get back to my own guest post...

My guest post is all about how I came to write "Home Squeak Home" so sort of follows on from the guest post I did at the end of last week, which I posted about on Saturday.

To read the post, go to http://newauthoronline.com/2015/04/28/writing-home-squeak-home-a-guest-post-by-author-victoria-zigler/

Home Squeak Home - officially released today!

"Moving to a new home can be a scary experience; especially if you’re very small. That’s how it is for Sooty and Scamp; a pair of gerbils chosen by a little boy named Matthew to be the ones to leave the pet shop and their other two brothers to go home with him.

Most people agree that getting a new pet is an exciting experience for any child; or adult, for that matter. But have you ever stopped to wonder how the pet feels during this time? This is the story of two little gerbils, and how they learned to adjust after a little boy took them home. The story is based on the behaviour of a pair of real gerbils, and events are shown from their point of view."

That's the synopsis for my latest book, which is officially released today!

As I've mentioned in previous posts about this book: the gerbils in this story are our own gerbils, Bilbo and Baggins, but I changed their names for the story as I'm not sure where I'd stand on copyright with names so obviously taken from "The Hobbit" and "The Lord Of The Rings" by JRR Tolkien, and I don't want to get in trouble for using them. Better safe than sorry, right? Anyway, for the purpose of this story, Bilbo is Sooty, and Baggins is Scamp.

The book is already available from Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as from Barnes & Noble, the iBook store, and a couple of other ebook retailers who carry my books; or will be soon, if it isn't yet.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday's random mutterings - April 27th 2015

When the day is warm, but a cold breeze blows in from the ocean, the result is often mist:


Although, some people say it's not a result of the weather, but instead is a result of sea fairies, water sprites, or some type of water spirit. Nobody seems quite certain.

Either way, we took those photos about two weeks ago... I'll let you decide for yourself what caused the mist that rolled in thickly from the ocean that evening.

***

I arranged with Iggy that he'd hold on to my Christmas gift until I was moved, so there was no chance of it getting lost. As it turned out, we took a long time to move, and there would have been plenty of time for him to get it to me. But we didn't know that at the time.

Anyway, it arrived almost two weeks ago, but I forgot to get photos of it in time to post about it last week, so I'm doing so now.

Here it is:
Or, "here they are" I should say!

Of course, there had to be a lion... Iggy knows how much I love lions, and wish I could have one of my very own as a pet!

Anyway, I've named the lion "Baby" after Ayla's lion in Jean M Auel's "Earth's Children" series of books, and named the elephant "Babar" after Babar the king of the elephants, in the books and TV series of the same name (I've never read the books, but used to love watching the TV series; it was one of my favourites).

Thanks for my new animal friends, Iggy! :)

***

Around the same time, I also got this card from Rita, to thank me for remembering her birthday last month:


So, thanks to you too, Rita! :)

***

It was World Book Day on April 23rd.

Did you know?

I only realized the following morning, but since I spent a lot of Thursday reading anyway - which is normal for me - I didn't really miss out on celebrating it, and probably wouldn't have done anything different than what I did, anyway... Except maybe post a message on Twitter and Facebook mentioning it.

***

I got my appointment to go back to the dentist to have the other wisdom tooth out.

The appointment - which they told me would be in "a couple of weeks" - is for June 17th 2015.

*Sigh*

Luckily, the tooth they're taking out then isn't really bugging me as a rule, and is mostly just supposed to be coming out before it starts causing problems (like the other wisdom tooth did).

But... Seriously? That's what they call a couple of weeks?

Also... By the time this appointment rolls around, I'll have spent six months dealing with the same issue.

I'm sorry, but that's just ridiculous! It should NOT take six months to pull out three teeth!