Friday, February 16, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Joshua The #Degu Checks In

Hi everyone. This is Joshua the degu.

Yeah, the Lilie dog is finally letting someone else have a turn. It's not her fault though, I suppose, since she really does usually have more to say than me and our chinchilla sisters do.

I mean, she's in to everything, goes out in the world, etc, while we like to keep to ourselves, playing on our wheels and with our other toys, watching TV, enjoying our nibbles, playing in our sand baths, and that kind of thing.

In other words, most of the time there's not much for us to say.

From my point of view, this is one of those times. So, mostly I'm just stopping by to say, "Hi," to you all, and let you know I'm doing OK. I'm still alive and squeaking.

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

#Writing Wednesday - February 14th 2018

Despite having once read a dictionary cover to cover - well, twice if you include the time I read a Welsh-English translation dictionary - I can't spell to save my life. Well, OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, and there are some things I can spell really well. In fact, some of the things I can spell well would surprise you. But you should never rely on me to help you out with spellings. Part of this is some confusion caused by how Welsh spelling is figured out compared to English spelling, and part of it is because I've used a computer for most of my writing ever since I was about ten (about when I was switching from mostly working in Welsh to mostly working in English) and computers have spell check. If you're like me, here's an amusing post that shows how spell check can be both your best friend or worst enemy, and why you shouldn't rely completely on it. Oh, and... Yes, I'm serious about the dictionaries: I had nothing else I hadn't read available to me at the time, so... *Shrugs*


This is how you write a story, so get out there and cultivate those wild ideas!

While you're doing that, remember that a first draft is always a tell-all. What matters most when writing the first draft is that you get your thoughts down on paper, and make it to the end. You can worry about improving it afterwards. For now, just write.

Always remember: it may be a good story, but that doesn't mean you have to write it.

So, what makes a story memorable?

Regardless of what you feel makes a story memorable, most stories require at least a little world building. So, check out these posts on world building for some tips in that area.

No matter the kind of world your character(s) live(s) in, if there's a big focus on the elements in your story, you can make things more interesting by bearing in mind that fire is more than destruction, considering the versatility of wind, giving some thought to the tri-form element that is water, and remembering that earth can be fun.

Also, if you decide you want to step out of your comfort zone and write in a new genre, or are new to writing and trying to decide which genre to write in, you may want to check out these tips for writing in a new genre.

By the way, have you heard about the recent changes to CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing paperbacks? I'm glad to see the new features on the Kindle Direct Publishing site, but still won't be changing which of the two I use, since I don't want to lose the distribution to Amazon Canada, nor the option to have my books available on other places (especially since several of my paperback sales come through those distribution sites). As for CreateSpace getting rid of their paid services... I never used them anyhow, so I don't really care about that. Still, it's comforting to know that I'll have the option to do things like order proofs if I'm ever forced to switch to Kindle Direct Publishing, since I did think not having that option was a very bad thing, and was concerned about the possibility of being forced to switch, and not being able to order proof copies before my books went on sale. As I said though, I currently have no plans to switch any time soon.

Regardless of how you publish your books though, here's a post with some things to think about regarding the middle book in a series.

Whether what you're writing is part of a series or not though, remember to dare to experiment (if you want to succeed).

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

#Welsh #LoveSpoons AKA Dad's First #WoodCarving Project

My Dad has been trying some new crafts lately, among them wood carving. The photo at the top of this post is his first ever wood carving project, which he gave to me when I went for my visit to Wales at the start of January. It's a Welsh love spoon.

For those who don't know, here's some information on what one is, and its history:

Welsh lovespoons are hand made wooden spoons that are made from one piece of wood and designed and decorated according to the carver’s imagination.

Love Spoons in the Past
Originally made by young men during the long winter nights or by young men on long sea voyages, they were carved to express that young man’s intentions towards a particular girl. A love spoon would be given to a girl as an indication that he wished to court her. A girl may have received lovespoons from several suitors and these would be displayed on the wall of her home.

The tradition of carving lovespoons is thought to have been derived from the making of culinary spoons and the giving of a spoon became symbolic with the expression of the wish to “feed” or support the object of the prospective suitor’s desire. It was a short step to decorating such a spoon and to investing it with symbols of the suitor’s hopes and wishes. Such a spoon would then have had no practical use and would have been regarded as an ornamental gift albeit vested with meaning.

The earliest surviving lovespoon dating from around 1667 is at the National Museum of Wales at St. Fagans near Cardiff but Welsh lovespoons are known to have been made by the menfolk of Wales before this date.

The practice of making and giving lovespoons by prospective suitors was common in Wales throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries but the custom became less popular towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. There has been a revival of the custom over the last 40 or so years and many people today make love spoons on a commercial basis for customers to utilise for the commemoration of special events in their lives or in the lives of their loved ones.
~Above information taken from this Welsh love spoons site.

Monday, February 12, 2018

How Do You Politely Offer To Help A #Blind Person?

First of all, I’d like to point out one very important thing: the advice I’m giving is based on my own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. In other words, though I’ve tried to generalize, visually impaired individuals – like people in general – are different, so there is no “one size fits all” rule for dealing with them. What I’m about to say is the general rule of thumb though. At least, as far as I’ve seen.


How do you politely offer to help a blind person?

The first thing you need to do is make your presence known as you approach. If you know the person’s name, greet them by name as you near. Otherwise offer some other kind of polite greeting. If it’s the latter situation, don’t be offended if they don’t immediately respond, but instead offer the greeting again, perhaps adding a query at this point as to whether they need assistance. You don’t need to initiate physical contact at this point. I mention this fact because I’ve dealt with people who felt they needed to be touching me in order to communicate with me. That’s not the case, and it actually makes me feel extremely uncomfortable when people just randomly touch my arm as part of their greeting. If you know the person, it may be a different matter, but as a general rule, coming to stand beside or in front of the person – like you would with a sighted person – is enough.

Oh, and... I mention the possibility of a lack of response because a blind person sometimes won’t immediately respond if they aren’t sure you’re talking to them. It can be embarrassing when you answer a polite greeting, only to discover it wasn’t aimed at you. Also, even worse, some people will become annoyed even though it was an honest mistake on the part of the blind person. While a sighted person can turn and look, and tell if you’re looking in their direction so might be speaking to them, a blind person can’t. Some people seem to forget that fact. I’ve personally had people become rather annoyed and rude to me when I returned their greeting when it wasn’t aimed at me. Most blind people will acknowledge the greeting on the off-chance it was aimed at them though, especially if they’re in a position where they’re hoping someone will come along and help them.

Anyway, after establishing contact, offer assistance, if you haven’t done so already. No. It’s not rude to just outright offer assistance. The person should either gratefully accept your offer, or politely refuse it.

If it’s the latter, you can ask if they’re sure once, but after that drop the subject. Then either part company at this point, or engage in small talk... Whichever you and the individual in question wishes to do. Either way, don’t push the matter. If you keep pushing the matter, that’s when you start coming off as being rude or annoying.

On the other hand, if the person does want help, your best bet is to next ask what kind of assistance they need. That will provide an opening for the person to tell you that they’re trying to get somewhere, or whatever. They may even tell you at this point exactly how you can go about offering that help.

If they don’t specify, and the help they need is in getting somewhere, whether or not the blind person would consider it more helpful for you to carry their bags or offer an arm is one of those things that really depends on the individual. Whether or not they have any sight at all may play a role in their decision too, since some people have enough sight to be able to keep the shapeless shadow that is you in sight, but not enough to navigate in unfamiliar places, or they may use a guide dog, which they can get to follow you, or whatever. Your best bet is to ask the person. Personally, I don’t like having to have my bags out of my own hands, so always travel with no more than I can manage myself, plus my cane, and – though I’d still be using my cane while walking with you – I would prefer you gave me your arm. As I said though, your best bet is to ask the blind person which they’d prefer.

If you find yourself needing to lead a blind person, here’s how to go about it:

1. Where possible, ensure everything you’re carrying is in your left hand (unless dealing with a left-handed blind person who wants to use their cane while you guide them, in which case it’s the opposite).
2. Stand to the left of the person (or right if a left-handed cane user) but one step ahead of them.
3. With your arm closest to the blind person slightly bent at the elbow, but held in a position that’s comfortable for you, inform the blind person you’re ready for them to take your arm by saying something like, “Here’s my arm.” The blind person should then grab your arm, usually holding on to your elbow. If the way they do so is uncomfortable for you for any reason, politely tell them so, and suggest how they can adjust their grip by saying something like, “Can you loosen your hold a little, please?” Or, “I’d feel more comfortable if you could hold my arm a little higher.”
4. Start walking at your normal pace. If you’re a fast walker, and are concerned this might be too fast for the person, walk a bit, and then ask if they’d like you to walk at a slower pace.

Things to bear in mind while leading a blind person:

  • Where possible, warn the person of required changes in speed, as well as stops and starts.
  • Always warn the blind person of upcoming obstacles. This is essential if the person is relying on you to be their eyes without using mobility aid, but useful for those with guide dogs and canes sometimes too, so worth doing regardless.
  • When faced with the need to walk through a space only wide enough for one person, warn the blind person that this is the case, and offer them to take your shoulder instead. The blind person should then move his or her hand from your arm to your shoulder. Once they’ve done so, continue walking at the pace you were setting before, or warn the person you will need to change the pace. Failure to warn them will likely result in some pain for you: failure to warn of an increase in speed may result in them gripping your shoulder hard in an attempt not to lose their hold, while failure to tell them of a slower pace may result in their feet or cane connecting with the backs of your feet or legs. Once it's possible to walk side by side again, inform the person of this fact, and then offer them your arm once more.
  • When dealing with steps, some blind people find it easier to hold a railing or something and make their own way down. Ask your blind charge if this is the case. If it is, guide their hand to the railing, assure them you’ll meet them at the bottom, make your own way down, wait for them to join you, and then offer your arm again. If they’d rather you continue to guide them, stay a step ahead of them (you may need to slow your walking speed to ensure you don’t get more than one step ahead of them) and warn them when you’re coming to the end of the steps.

I hope you found this post helpful and informative. If you have any further questions on the topic, don’t feel I was clear enough about something, or would like to request a similar post on another aspect of dealing with blind people, know more about how I do certain things as a blind person, or whatever, please don’t hesitate to post your questions and thoughts in the comments section of this post. I’ll be happy to answer your questions, clear up your confusion, etc. At least, I’ll be happy to try and do so.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

#Book Release: The Princelings of the North By Jemima Pett

The Princelings of the North
by Jemima Pett

Book 8 of the Princelings of the East series

genre; older middle grade mystery adventure – age 10 and upwards.

The Princelings of the North is the eighth in The Princelings of the East series. Princelings Dylan and Dougall, who live in the far northwest of an island off the northwest coast of the Realms, rescue an exiled prince, and battle against the odds to restore him to his birthright.

Irrepressible Dylan and steady Dougall are inseparable denizens of the tiny castle of Haunn, so far away from the rest of civilisation that it’s almost off the map. And maps are one of the key elements of this intricate adventure. Dylan finds a treasure map inside a bottle washed up on the shore – and he reckons he knows where X is. Instead of treasure, he finds the exiled Prince Kevin of Castle Deeping, antagonist in the Talent Seekers, bit-player in Bravo Victor, and mystery prince in Willoughby the Narrator. Kevin has had time to realise what a fool he’s been, and now wants vengeance and his castle back, which is just the sort of adventurous challenge that Dylan craves.

Lovers of the series will devour this latest adventure, but newcomers may find it best to start with the box set of books 1-3 or book 5; book 7 links to Kevin’s disappearance. This is a mystery adventure in a world not quite like ours, suitable for age 10 and upwards. The series is set to conclude with book 10.


“It’s a map, look! A treasure map!”

Dougall looked at the scrap of paper his brother Dylan had smoothed out on their bed.

“How do you know it’s a map?”

Dylan sighed, and pointed out the lines. “There’s the outline of the island, and the rocky inlet where the boats go in, and the wiggly lines are where the creek goes into the marshes. And there’s an X for where the treasure is buried!” he finished, leaping off the bed. “Oh, why can’t we go now? It might rain tomorrow!”

“But where did you get it?” Dougall was not one to act without all the facts.

“It got washed into the tide pool down near the Ensay Burn. I fished it out. It was in a bottle. I saw it glinting green and bobbing about.  I thought it had a stick inside it, but it broke when I dropped it on the way back and I found the paper!”

“But why do you think it’s a treasure map?” Dougall had not yet caught his brother’s enthusiasm.

“It’s got an X on it, look!”

“It could mean anything, X.”

“Like what?”

Dougall thought for a bit. He wasn’t familiar with maps, except of the night sky, since he was one of the star-watching team at the castle.  He didn’t go out of the castle much, except onto the crags above to check the solar cells or the turbine flow. It was Dylan who went all over the island, running messages. He’d been most places.

“Have you been to this place?” he asked Dylan, wondering whether he really did know what he was talking about after all.

“Umm, not exactly.  It’s pretty much on the way to Tober Hold, but I usually go a bit further up the glen, and keep to the high ground.  This bit’s all wet.” He pointed to the network of lines he’d described as the creek.

“And there’s nothing there that could be marked as a cross?”

Dylan thought for a bit.  Then he looked at the map again and then at his feet. “There’s ruin on a rock. By the crossroads,” he mumbled.

Dougall looked closer at the map. “Well, nobody’s marked the roads going into and out of the cross. You might still be right. Is it the right place for the crossroads?”

It was Dylan’s turn to study the map closely. “Yes,” he concluded. He stared at it for a moment. “Why would anyone…”

“Mark a cross on a map and not the roads leading up to it?” finished Dougall, his eyes sparkling.  “How long will it take us to get there?”

© J M Pett 2018 The Princelings of the North ch 1

Buying Links
iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords,,,,,

Raising money for the Ulva Buyout Appeal #UlvaBuyout
The little island of Ulva is just to the south of the area where Jemima has placed Castle Haunn, Dylan and Dougall’s home on the Isle of Mull.  The community of North West Mull have the opportunity to buy the island from the current landowner, and use it as a sustainable resource, securing their own futures.
Jemima invites everyone to join in her part of the fundraising effort on her JustGiving page, where you can get more details.  Anyone donating on her page will get a copy of a new novella written especially for the appeal, Dylan and the Lights of Ulva, with Jemima’s thanks.

Please help to promote this massive appeal for the small number (in the tens rather than the hundreds) of islanders.

About the Author
Jemima wrote her first book when she was eight years old. She was heavily into world-building, drawing maps, building railway timetables, and dreaming of being a champion show-jumper, until schoolwork got in the way. Then she went down the science path, writing research papers, manuals and reports, as well as editing the newsletters for her sports clubs. Forty years on she started writing stories about her guinea pigs and their adventures in a fantasy world where everything ran on strawberry juice. Eventually the Princelings of the East took shape, originally intended as a trilogy, but the characters just wouldn’t lie down.  The planned ending will now be with book ten.

Meanwhile, Jemima continues to enjoy the company of new guinea pigs in her home in Norfolk, UK. You can enjoy their blog 'George’s Guinea Pig World‘.

Connect with Jemima Pett:  
Blog, Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Smashwords.

Friday, February 09, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Lilie The #Westie's Fun #Vet Trip

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.

Yes, again. Can I help it if I have more to say than the squeaky things in cages? No, I can't! Besides, I'm cute, and everyone loves me, so I'm sure you're pleased to get to hear from me again so soon, right?


I got to go to that vet place again last week. It was quite an adventure!

Just me and Daddy went, which meant we could walk, because me and Daddy can manage it, but Mummy can't walk that far. I had to wear my coat though, because it was really cold that day, even with the sun shining.

There were other animals there, and I wanted to be friends with them. But then this one dog - he was one of those little Bulldog types - got too bouncy even for me. I can bounce with the best of them. Or, I thought I could. But he was just too bouncy, and I got a bit scared. OK, a lot scared. So scared I managed to get out of my coat, harness, and collar, and was running loose around the vet in a panic. I know he was a bit smaller even than me, but that's totally not the point!

Anyway, I got caught, they helped me to calm down, Daddy put my clothes back on, and I was back to being my usual happy and friendly self again... Just in time for them to be ready to see me.

I got weighed, and I weigh 9 kilos (22.5 lbs). At least, as best as they could tell, since I was a bit too excited to stay still on the weighing machine for long enough for them to be totally certain. Then they trimmed my claws, which I'm glad about, because I don't do a good job of wearing them down, and they were getting long enough to annoy me.

After that, Daddy talked to them a bit. Something about groomers... Whatever they are... And the talk I hear each time I go there about something called "flea and worming treatment" (which usually results in me being given something to eat that tastes funny, and having some wet stuff put on the back of my neck). Then we walked home.

I was glad to get home, even though that vets is always an interesting place to visit. We'd left Mummy there, and I was pleased to see she hadn't gone and gotten herself lost or injured while unsupervised. Plus, I needed a nap by this point.

Apparently I'll get to go back again in a couple of months. I'm looking forward to it, though I hope that little Bulldog isn't there... He was just too bouncy, even by my standards!

Lots of licks,

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

#Writing Wednesday - February 7th 2018

In case you missed yesterday's post: "Goodies For Grandmother" is now available in audio, narrated by Jenny Bacon. It's available to buy from Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Purchase links are in the post I just linked to, along with links for the eBook and paperback versions, if you'd rather one of those.

I'm working with Jenny on a few more of my titles; Jenny has agreed to do the narration for four more of my stand alone stories. I'm pleased to be working with her again, because I love what she does with my books, and think she's a delight to work with in general.

I'm also pleased to once more be working with Danny Letham, James Watkins, JD Kelly, and Jerry Fischer. The first three - Danny, James, and JD - are each narrating another of my books, and Jerry is working on another two. I enjoyed working with all four of them in the past, so I was delighted when they accepted my latest offers, and look forward to seeing what they do with the books they've agreed to narrate for me this time.

Yet another of my stand alone stories is being produced by a narrator by the name of Andrew Pond. Andrew is a narrator I haven't worked with before, but I was pleased with his audition - obviously, or I wouldn't have sent him an offer - and have found him to be a delight to work with too.

It seems I've been pretty lucky with most of my narrators, since most of them are people I would willingly work with again. All those mentioned in this post come under that catagory for sure!

Anyway, as you can see - both from this post and my post from two weeks ago - I've managed to cross a few things off my list of writing goals for this year already, and am well on the way to being able to make sure I can check off another. I've even got a little actual writing done, though not as much as I'd have liked to. Still,I'm pleased with how much I did do, especially considering how much time has been spent on the "publisher tasks" in the past month.

How are your own writing goals going so far? Are you on track? Or are you struggling already?

If you're going through the struggle most writers do at some point right now, here are some reminders to get you through 'the struggle'. However, this next post may be more what you need if you're struggling with finding the time to write. Oh, and you're never going to have a 'normal' schedule if you're a writer, so you might as well stop trying. Above all, remember to be true to yourself.

Oh, and if you participated in STORYSTORM, here's a post storystorm post to help you figure out what's next. Speaking of which, if you participated, how did you do? Did you get your 30 story ideas?

Either way, if you can't find your voice when it comes to writing your story, here's how to write shamelessly.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

#KidLit #FairyTale #Book - Goodies For Grandmother Now In #Audio! #Fairies #Brownies

Brownies share the woods with the fairies, but – unlike the fairies – the brownies are very naughty. They love playing tricks, love stealing anything travellers happen to be carrying through the woods, and love getting people lost. So when one of them spots Ella carrying a basket of goodies, he just can’t resist trying to steal them from her. But Ella isn’t going to let him near it. Bob the brownie quickly figures out that he’ll have to come up with a sneakier plan to get his little hands on that basket of goodies.

Based on the well-known story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ but with no big bad wolf to eat Grandmother, nor woodcutter to save her, ‘Goodies For Grandmother’ tells the story of a little girl in purple, a sick Grandmother, a naughty little brownie, and a clever little fairy.

Previously only available as an eBook or paperback, "Goodies For Grandmother" is now also available as an audiobook, read for you by Jenny Bacon.

Here are the main places where you can buy the book, regardless of the format you'd prefer:

Audible, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

You can also find the book listed on Goodreads.

Monday, February 05, 2018

#Music Monday: Ronan Keating - If Tomorrow Never Comes

An old favourite of mine, in honour of the fact it's Valentine's Day in a little over a week. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Tori's January 2018 #Book #Reviews (LBE)

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

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

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

OK... On to the reviews!

Warlord of the Forgotten Age (Legends of Windemere, #15)Warlord of the Forgotten Age by Charles E. Yallowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've been eagerly awaiting the final book in this series since I finished the penultimate book, and am pleased to be able to say that the book was worth waiting for. It was a well-written and gripping read, injected with just the right amounts of humour, action, and emotional scenes. The ending may not have been a "happily ever after" type ending, but I was satisfied that the fates of all the characters made sense based on past events and character actions. In short, this was a fantastic ending to a wonderful series, and I highly recommend the entire series to any fantasy lover out there who hasn't read it yet.

ArtemisArtemis by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book wasn't amazing, but it was really good. It wasn't quite what I expected, but it was different in a good way, so I really enjoyed it anyhow. It took a couple of chapters for me to really get in to it properly, but after that the plot was exciting, the characters were believable, and the worldbuilding was very well done.

The Gatekeeper (Afterlife, #1.5)The Gatekeeper by Katrina Cope
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An excellent read, which will have you eager to read the main books in the series - assuming you have yet to read them all.

Snow White's RevengeSnow White's Revenge by Casey Lane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An interesting read, with a plot that keeps you guessing, and a great cast of characters.

Swamp FamiliarsSwamp Familiars by Abigail Fero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An enjoyable quick read, which could make an ideal introduction to the books from this series.

Bogamus In Space (Bogamus And Friends, #3)Bogamus In Space by Nathan A Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is an extremely entertaining and enjoyable read, which makes a great addition to the series, as well as being a fantastic and fun read in its own right.

Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic CircleCatherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle by Heera Datta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was an interesting read, and a fascinating look in to the life of the famous author's wife, and what she may have been thinking or feeling.

Unearthed (Unearthed, #1)Unearthed by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was an awesome read, especially for someone like me who loves both science fiction and maths. It would have been a five star read for me, but for one issue: the cliffhanger ending. I absolutely hate those, and the point this book left off at had me almost screaming out loud in frustration. I need book two... NOW!

The HatThe Hat by C.S. Boyack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An entertaining plot and great characters combine to make a wonderfully weird and extremely enjoyable read.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4  (Adrian Mole, #1)The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was an enjoyable and entertaining read.

The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (Adrian Mole #2)The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was as entertaining as the first in the series; an excellent sequel.

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Personally, I don't think this book is the amazing read a lot of people seem to consider it, but can see why they might feel that way, since it has a plot that's sure to get you thinking, and will likely stay with you for a very long time. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it and think it was a good read. I did. I just didn't think it was an amazing one.

Go Set a WatchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I wasn't as impressed with this one as the first one. The writing style was annoying, with constant flashbacks and information dumps making it impossible for me to get in to the story properly. Also, for such a smart child, Scout is an incredibly stupid and naive adult, which I found disappointing and irritating.

The Call of Cthulu and Other StoriesThe Call of Cthulu and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Excellent stories, which are perfect creepy reads to enjoy on a dark and stormy evening... Or any other time, really.

Lord of the FliesLord of the Flies by William Golding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The thing I liked about this book was the message, which is - unfortunately - very true. The thing I didn't like was the way it was shown, which I found to be disturbing.

The Princelings of the North (The Princelings of the East #8)The Princelings of the North by Jemima Pett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've been looking forward to reading this book since I heard it was going to be coming out, and was not disappointed! This book is an excellent addition to this series. The plot is entertaining and exciting, while the characters are interesting and believable (yes, I know they're guinea pigs, but there's no reason a guinea pig can't be a believable character).
*NOTE: I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchanged for an honest review. This fact has in no way influenced either my opinion of the book, or the contents of my review.

Florence BlackwaterFlorence Blackwater by James Field
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another excellent addition to this series.

Friday, February 02, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Lilie The #Westie's Collar

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.

When the humans got my puppy collar, they got the next size up as well, so they could put it on me when the one I had started getting too tight. This seemed like a great idea, and is exactly what they did:

There was just one problem with the plan: the next size up of that particular type of collar was actually a little bigger than I needed, and there was no way to make it tighter. Looser, yes. But not tighter.

Now, since I was nine and a half months old, so would possibly grow a bit more - I could still grow a little even now, at alittle over ten months old - the humans figured that wasn't a big deal. Better too loose than too tight, right?

Except this collar was just a little looser than was advisable, and got in my way when I was playing with my toys.

I swear I didn't chew it on purpose!

Like I said, it was in the way when I was playing with my toys. I can't be blamed for that, can I?

Luckily, it seems the humans agree with me, because I didn't get in trouble.

I did get something though: a brand new collar.

As it happened, the bigger collar got broke at a time when I could still wear my old one. They'd changed me to the other one before it got too tight for me, in case I had a growth spurt or something - whatever one of those is. But there was still just about enough room for Mummy to stick a couple of fingers between my neck and the collar on the loosest setting, so she said it was OK for them to put the old one back on me until they could take me to the petstore place to get a new one. I was relieved about that, because I get really upset when I don't have a collar on. I just don't feel dressed without one.

So, off to the petstore place we went, which meant a trip to town... YAY!

Daddy picked out a new collar for me from the ones the petstore place had. It's purple, because Mummy likes purple things, and my other collars were purple. Anyway, here I am wearing it:

It fits me better than that other "big girl collar" did, but still has room to be loosened if I have one of those growth spurt things. That second part seems very important to the humans for some reason. Personally, all I care about is that I have a collar, it fits, it has my tags and bells on it (along with the little heart charm Daddy gave me) and it doesn't get in my way when I'm trying to play.

Lots of licks,

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

#Writing Wednesday - #Poem: Candle


One candle among many; tiny flame in the dark.
Yet, when something comes to extinguish the spark,
And its flickering light is a thing of the past,
The space where it shone somehow seems vast.
Then, here on Earth, the watchers mourn,
While, up above, another star is born.

© 2018 ~ Victoria "Tori" Zigler

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

R.I.P. Grandad

My Grandad died last week.

For those who don't know, I'm talking about my Mam's Dad... My Dad's Dad died before I was born.

Anyway, my Grandad was 83 years old (he turned 83 at the start of December) and died in his sleep in the early hours of the morning of January 24th 2018.

Grandad's never been 100% healthy, and has had multiple close calls with his heart alone. So the fact he made it to 83 with how poor his health has always been is amazing. But that doesn't make it any easier.

It's good that, when the end did come, he went peacefully in his sleep, and didn't suffer in his final moments. I always think that's a nice way to go. But, when it comes right down to it, that doesn't really help much either.

I can't say I was close to my Grandad, though we had some things in common - he was a book-loving writer too. I didn't see him regularly, especially not in my adult life. But I do have some fond memories I can look back on.

My favourite is one from when I was about six. My Mam took my brother (Carl) and me up to London. We spent time with him, and got spoiled by him and his wife at the time, my Nanny Beryl (who died several years back). There were plenty of great parts about that trip, including getting our photo taken with one of the guards at Buckingham Palace. But my favourite part was sitting with Carl and Grandad while he read to us. I especially remember him reading a book called "Dogger" - I believe it's by Shirley Hughes - which was a story Carl and I both loved.

I don't have a copy of that book. But if I did, I'd read it right now in his memory.

Monday, January 29, 2018

#MondayMotivation And #Inspiration - January 2018 Edition

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible”!
~Audrey Hepburn

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
~Maya Angelou

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.
~Henry Ford

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
~Albert Einstein

Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.
~Ancient Indian Proverb

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.
~John Lennon

Sunday, January 28, 2018

January 2018 #TV Talk And #Movie Mutterings

I missed doing one of these posts in December, so let's take a look at what I watched over the past two months.

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

Don't forget: I watch things across multiple genres, as well as for different age ranges, so you should always check before viewing to make certain something is suitable for the intended audience, especially when children are involved. IMDB will usually provide this information for you, but you'll have to look elsewhere if you can't find it on the page I link to.

OK... On to the reviews!

Despicable Me (2010 movie):
For the most part this was an entertaining movie, with some really sweet scenes. There were parts I thought were stupid though. I give this movie four out of five stars.

Despicable Me 2 (2013 movie):
Not quite as good as the first movie, but still with several entertaining or touching moments. I'm being generous and rounding up here when I say I give this movie four out of five stars.

Despicable Me 3 (2017 movie):
This movie had some bad parts, some entertaining parts, and some sweet scenes. All in all, it wasn't fantastic, but was a pretty good movie. I give this movie four out of five stars.

The Last Airbender (2010 movie):
I wasn't sure what I was going to think of this one. People kept telling me I probably wouldn't enjoy it - including Kelly, who watched it before I did, and didn't enjoy it as much as he expected to - but there was a copy among the DVDs that Mam brought here, so I figured I'd watch it. I'm glad I did, because I actually really enjoyed it. It's not one I'd count among my favourites, perhaps, but I enjoyed it enough to want to give it a high rating, to be glad I watched it, and to hope they made - or will make - more (since this did spacifically state it was "book one" near the start of the movie, something Kelly agreed was the case). There's also a TV series, so I might have to see about watching that too. Anyway, I give this movie five out of five stars.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001 movie):
This was a fun movie that the whole family could enjoy, and which would appeal to those fascinated with the various myths surrounding Atlantis. It wasn't an amazing movie, but it was a really good one, and I did enjoy it. I give this movie four out of five stars.

Friday, January 26, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Lilie The #Westie's View On #Trains

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.

(The above photo was taken when I was nine and a half months old. I'm ten months old today though).

I decided something earlier this month: I DO NOT like trains!

I went with the humans to this noisy and busy place with lots of people, and we left Mummy there. I'm not sure why we left her there, but we did. I might have tried to protest, but I was so busy sniffing things and greeting people that I didn't notice she wasn't with us until we were back home and she didn't come in. I waited for her, and waited some more, but she didn't come. I did hear her voice coming from the plastic ringing thing a couple of times when Daddy played with it though.

A couple of days later, we went back to the noisy and busy place to get her again. I'm still confused about why we waited so long to go back there for her. But a lot of what humans do confuses me, and I'll probably never figure out the mystery. We got her back though... Even if she did smell of some other dog.

Anyway, about those trains...

I didn't notice them when we went to the place the first time. Daddy and I just went in a little way, the humans talked to someone, and then Daddy and I left. But when we went back for her we had to go further in to this place. I guess she wondered off from where we left her or something, because she somehow found her way on to one of those train things. At least, the humans tell me their called trains. Personally, I call them terrifying!

I love car rides. I don't mind too much when busses go past, though I wish the people in them would get out and come say, "hi," to me. Some of the big lorries do make me jump a bit, but even them I don't mind too much. But trains.... Trains are another matter all together.

Trains are even more scary than drums!

It's like someone took the biggest and most noisy busses in the world and stuck them end to end. I don't like it one bit!

I was shaking so hard Daddy thought I was having some kind of seizure or something. Honestly, I was so scared it wouldn't have surprised me if I had ended up having one! I was so relieved when it was time to leave that place.

The humans say they had talked about me riding on one of those, and are glad they decided not to have me do it considering how scared I was. I bet they're not as glad as I am! It was bad enough just being near one. I can't imagine how much more scary it would have been to ride on one.

I couldn't get away from that place fast enough, and hope I never have to go there again!

I think I'll stick to cars. Or maybe just use my paws...

Lots of licks,

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

#Writing Wednesday - January 24th 2018

I've done a lot of writing related work during this past week, but very little actual writing, since I haven't really worked on the writing projects I actually want to be working on. It's frustrating, but the other tasks did need to be done, since they're an important part of the writing and publishing process, and it does feel good to get them out of the way. Yes, I could ignore them and just write. But then I wouldn't be sharing my stories and poems with the world like I am, and that would be sad, because stories and poems should be shared. At least, I think they should be. So I spent the past week working on the things I put in the "publisher tasks" catagory.

I got my profiles updated, and now they mention audio books instead of just eBooks and paperbacks. Then I sent the updates for my website to the person in charge of dealing with that (I do my social media accounts and blog myself, but am not personally responsible for maintaining my actual website). I also changed the links on my books' Smashwords pages so they have Amazon links in place of the CreateSpace eStore one, since - as I mentioned in previous posts - CreateSpace are no longer selling books directly from their own site. Plus, while I was on Smashwords sorting things, I updated my Smashwords interview. After that, I got more of my books set up for audio production, and even arranged who would be narrating some of them. Considering I've also written several blog posts, and managed to keep my inbox mostly under control... I even cleared it at one point... I think that counts as being a pretty productive week... Even if I still didn't spend as much time on the actual writing part as I'd hoped to.

So... All the stories I hadn't yet made available in audio are now in various stages of production, ranging from accepting auditions to heading for retail. I'll deal with setting up the project pages for my poetry books later.

Speaking of my audio books: "Cubby And The Beanstalk" is now available in audio - in case you missed that post. You can buy the audio version from Audible, Amazon, and iTunes; see the post I just linked to for links. The narrator is JD Kelly, who you can read more about in his recent narrator interview.

Like I said, it's been a pretty productive week... Even if actual writing time has been a bit thin on the ground, so to speak. I was being rather critical of myself, and struggling to feel positive about it due to not having done the thing I really wanted to do, despite the fact dealing with all the stuff took up most of my waking hours during the past week. But seeing it all written down in this post, and realizing just how much I actually did do, made me realize I actually achieved a lot. Maybe I should reward myself? Or maybe I'll just go for a nap...

You know, it's so easy to be critical of yourself and your own work. Do you find that? Is that critical voice getting in your way when it comes to coming up with story ideas? Don't worry. Just check out this post on keeping a dream journal, and using it to generate ideas. There are several other great posts among those for this year's STORYSTORM, so you may want to check those out too... Assuming you haven't already been doing so. And, hey, if you're participating in STORYSTORM 2018 and don't have as many ideas as you should have, remember that it's ok to fail.

OK, so you've got your idea(s). Good for you! Time to write! Oh, you can't concentrate? No problem. Just check out these tips to help you concentrate while writing. Better? If so, great! If not, I hope you find something that works for you.

Either way, do you want to inject some comedy in to your writing? Then read this post on the art of bantering for some tips on how to keep it fun - and entertaining - rather than hurtful. Unless insults your readers will find amusing - even if the characters don't - is what you were going for, in which case the post will be advice on what to avoid. Either way, you should consider the difference between playful banter and insults, and make sure to use the right one to get your message across, giving some consideration to the relationships between your characters when doing so.

Speaking of your characters: here are some ways you can choose a name for your characters, as well as some tips on describing your characters' physical appearance. Rachel has several other posts about creating characters and character development, so you may like to check those out.

Are you writing a series of books? Or, perhaps, you've already written one? Either way, check out this post for some tips on promoting a book series.

Whether it's a series or not though, here are some tips on figuring out your idea's potential marketability.

When the day comes that you reach the turning point you weren't expecting - and, yes, I do mean "when" not "if" - only you can decide how to go on. What will you choose? Whatever you choose, write the kind of content you enjoy reading whenever you can.

Finally, here are seven tips to being an indie author - in case you're planning on going that route when publishing your book, but new to the world of self-publishing.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My Visit To Wales - January 2018 (LBE & FD)

The dog in the photo above is Alexis-Hope (Lexi for short). Lexi is my Mam's Golden Retriever x Labrador puppy, who you may remember me mentioning a few months back. She'll be seven months old next week, but the photo was taken during my visit to Wales near the start of January, so she hadn't long turned six months when it was taken. Lexi is a very cuddly dog. She actually does this cute thing where she puts her front paws around you and gives you a hug, and we're never sure whether to be annoyed at her for jumping up, or pleased she's so loving. Anyway, I'm not sure how well you can tell, but it's me she's sitting on in the photo. Apparently I was in her spot. Haha! As I said, the photo was taken during my visit to Wales, which happened over the first weekend in January (I travelled there on January 5th 2018, and travelled home on January 8th 2018).

My Nan (Dad's Mother) was celebrating her 90th birthday (her birthday was on January 8th) and my Dad arranged for several of us to go out for dinner with her the Saturday before her birthday. For most of us, this meant a fair bit of travelling. The guests were my Nan's friends Caryl and Andrew, my Dad, my Mam, my brother Wayne, my brother Carl, Carl's girlfriend Tory, me, my cousin Shane, Shane's wife Donna, Shane and Donna's three youngest children, my Uncle Phillip (Dad's big brother) and my Auntie Bev (Uncle Phillip's wife). Oh, and Nan herself, of course. Kelly had been invited too, but stayed home with the furkids. The only ones who live near my Nan these days are Caryl and Andrew, my Mam, my Dad, and my brother Wayne. The rest of us had at least a few hours of travelling to do to get there.

For me this meant spending most of Friday January 5th on trains. Actually, if you want to be entirely accurate, I rode in two taxis, two trains, and my Mam's car. Then I did it all in reverse on Monday January 8th to come back home.

I love trains, but hated the journey. I tire easily, so it was a really long day for me anyhow, and I wasn't feeling well, so that didn't help. On top of that, I was doing it all by myself. I did book assistance, but the assistance isn't always reliable, and some of my experiences showed that.

On the way there, the first couple of people I dealt with had no idea I was coming, despite the fact they should have been notified, and seemed confused as to what they were meant to do with me. Well, the guards, anyhow. The ticket guy at the station near home was great, and did the job the guard should have done. Then the first guy who seemed to know I was coming - the fourth station worker I'd dealt with - sat in the driver's seat of those cart things they have, doing nothing while the taxi driver did his job for him, and only dealt with me when he had no choice. That trip ended in some confusion when they forgot where I was sat, and three guards were running around outside the train trying to decide where they'd find me, while passangers inside the train were helping me get off it (since we had no idea about the guard situation outside, and it appeared I'd been forgotten). At an end of the line stop, I could have waited for the guard to remember me. But the train never stops long at the smaller stations - of which the one nearest Mam is one - so not being remembered would have meant going further along the line, and then trying to organize being grabbed from the next station while on a train. Not surprisingly, that didn't appeal to me, so I was glad of the help from fellow passangers. Not that I'd have been entirely happy to have been left on the train either way.

Speaking of which... The journey home was worse. It started out great, with the guard expecting me and being helpful. But then I was left sat on the train for more than 15 minutes at my destination station. It's lucky it was the end of the line, because nobody offered to help at all - not even any of my fellow passangers. I was still sat there waiting when the guy came through the train to clean up, and he had to go find me a helper. Then my taxi driver had to do all the work again, except this time they not only didn't seem to know I was coming, but also didn't seem to be listening to what I wanted/needed of them. The taxi driver essentially ended up just leaving me in front of one of the station staff to make him do something, because he'd already been away from his cab longer than he should have been (officially they aren't meant to be out of sight of the car, but he broke the rule to help me get assistance; I tipped him well for it). The member of staff from the station didn't seem to know what to do with me, so sat me on a chair and fetched someone higher up, with the result that I only just got on my train in time before it left (there had been a bit of a delay with the first train in general, but my being left on that one, and the messing about to try and get help to get on the next, meant it was a really good thing I'd allowed much more time than should have been needed to get across London). The good thing is, I got an upgrade to 1st class out of it for that train. The bad thing is, it made the journey even more stressful than it already was, so I was beyond relieved when I was reunited with Kelly and Lilie at the station near where we live. I was also absolutely exhausted, but that's another story.

On top of all that, it was a good thing I make a habit of using my cane, so don't rely on others to actually watch where I'm walking for me, because most of the people "helping" me had no idea at all how to deal with a blind person. It seems like people in wheelchairs is something they can manage. Well, just about, anyhow, though they aren't as reliable as they should be with helping people in wheelchairs either. But give them a blind passanger and they haven't a clue. If anyone from any of the British Rail services is reading this, I suggest you get some training in for your workers... Just saying.

The worst part about all of this is how my experience wasn't actually all that bad. I mean, I did get the help from the station staff... Eventually. There have been times when people haven't even gotten that much. My brother, Carl, for example - also blind - has had times when he's had to somehow get himself off the train, and then stand there looking sad and lost until someone notices and helps him get where he needs to go. He's also had to take later trains, because they told him to sit somewhere and they'd fetch him when his train arrived, only to forget about him, and come for him more than an hour later... Long after his train has come and gone.

Anyway, add to that storms that threatened to have trains end up being cancelled right before I was leaving, icy conditions that had some trains being cancelled while I was there, plus the fatal accident and rail worker strikes that were causing many trains to be cancelled the day I came home, and you have a journey that I really didn't enjoy, even though trains were involved, and I did get some uninterupted reading time while on said trains.

At least the time spent with the family was more enjoyable than the journey.

I spent the weekend staying with Mam and Lexi at their place. We didn't do anything really exciting, just sort of hung out. We did consider checking out a cafe my Dad had found not too far from where Mam lives, which apparently has an excellent selection of vegetarian and vegan friendly items. But neither of us were feeling 100%, and we were both tired, so we didn't bother. I'm sure Lexi liked it that we only left for the things my Dad had arranged for us all to do together.

We all went out for the meal on the Saturday night. We'd pre-ordered our meals, because the place was closing for renovation the day after our meal, and they asked if we'd do that so they could make sure they had things we enjoyed available, especially since some of us had spacific dietary requirements (me being a vegetarian, and Auntie Bev needing a gluton-free diet, for example). Dad had secretly ordered what Nan usually gets for her, since the meal was supposed to be a total surprise for her, which it was (though us all being there was an even bigger surprise). I won't tell you what everyone had, because I can't remember it all, and there were too many of us to list it all. But my meal consisted of crispy vegetable bites with a spiced maple dip, followed by herb battered halloumi with chips (fries) and peas, ending with a dessert of cherry pie and custard. Halloumi is a type of Greek cheese, by the way... In case you don't know and are interested. I think I'm spelling it right. Anyhow, dinner was really good, and we had a great time. I think my Dad took some photos, but I don't have copies. I'll post them at a later date if I'm right about them existing.

The following day I finally met Maya. Maya is Wayne's Staffordshire Terrier x Wippet. She's going to be three years old in a few months, and this is the first time I've met her. She's certainly an energetic dog. Sorry, I don't have a photo of her... Didn't think about it until it was too late.

After that we went to Nan and Dad's house for a buffet and to do some photos. I know Dad took several, but I don't have his photos yet. I do have some that were taken with my Mam's phone though, so can share those with you. Photos were being taken with Dad's camera and Mam's phone at the same time, so some will be the same - or near enough - but I'll share any different ones with you at a later date. In the meantime, here are the photos I have:

The below photo is Carl, me, Wayne, and Shane, stood behind my Dad and my Uncle Phillip.

Here's Carl with his girlfriend, Tory:

Here's Mam and Wayne:

Me with my Dad:

And here's Nan:

Oh, and... Yes, the "Tori" and "Tory" thing did cause some confusion. It didn't help that there were three different ways people were telling us apart. One was the way Carl always uses, which is to call me Tors and her Tory, one was my Mam's way, which was to call me Victoria and her Tory, and the other was my Dad's way, which was to mention the letter we end our name with, since she ends hers with a "y" instead of the "i" that I use. Confused? Yeah... Don't feel bad... We often were too! Mostly we just answered if we thought they might mean us, and hoped for the best. Haha!

Anyway, that was my trip. It was nice... Other than the issues during the journeys... But I was glad to come home, especially since I still wasn't feeling too well. Plus, I'd missed Kelly and the furkids. I'm glad to have helped make Nan's 90th birthday such a special one for her though.

Monday, January 22, 2018

#Kidsmudkitchens In The UK Via @kidsmudkitchens

Mud Kitchens: Inspiring Outdoor Play With Kids

We all know dirt is good, fun and messy and our little monsters love being outside in all weathers cooking up potions and pies!

So we designed our mud kitchens with this in mind. All our kitchens come with a broad range of accessories that are all included in the price.

For more details, or to order a mud kitchen for your little mud monsters, check out their website at, follow Donna Portman on Twitter @kidsmudkitchens, or like their Facebook page.

Your little mud monsters will love exploring the safe, sturdy mud kitchens in all weathers. Made from reclaimed treated timber it will give them years of play.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

#KidLit #FairyTale #Book - Cubby And The Beanstalk Now In #Audio!

When Cubby’s Mother tells him to take their old goat to market and sell her so they can buy food, Cubby ends up trading the goat for a bag of magic wishing beans. His Mother is furious, and in her rage throws the beans outside and sends Cubby to bed. You may think that was the end, but you’d be wrong! In fact, it’s just the beginning!

Loosely based on the stories of ‘Jack And The Beanstalk’ and ‘The Magic Cooking Pot’, this is the story of a hungry little polar bear and his journey up the beanstalk to the home of the magical giant skybears.

"Cubby And The Beanstalk" is now available as an audiobook, read for you by JD Kelly. The previously published eBook and paperback editions are still available for those who prefer those, of course.

Regardless of your prefered format, here are the main places where you can buy the book:

Audible, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Friday, January 19, 2018

#Furkid Friday: Maizie The #Chinchilla Turns 2 (FD)

Hi everyone. This is Maizie the chinchilla.

I had one of those birthday things. It was this past Saturday (January 13th).

I'm now two years old. That's my age in human years, of course. Chinchillas don't age the same way as humans, so I'm older in chinchilla years. But we won't get in to that right now.

I'm glad the Mummy human was home before my birthday happened. I don't like that she left, but I would have hated it even more if she was gone when it was my birthday.

I had oatmeal and raisins for my birthday, which I thought was great! I had to share them with Mollie, but I didn't mind that, because I love my adopted chinchilla sister. Mollie and I also got to spend the day watching NCIS, which was great! We love that show!

The human caretakers tried to get a birthday photo of me, but I didn't feel like having my photo taken, so kept hiding when they pointed the flashy thing at me. Mollie and I really aren't fans of that flashy thing. Eventually they gave up and let me enjoy my nibbles and NCIS in peace.

Squeak soon,