Saturday, 29 September 2012

Out there

If I'm not here, I must be somewhere else.

There's a little something of mine at Flashpoints, for example.  This gorgeous site offers tiny pieces of site-specific flash fiction. A story written in and about a specific location  is left there. I wrote my story in the library and left it on the Mills and Boon stand (left). A week later it was still there. If anyone noticed they didn't say.

I read a blog recently where the writer ( sorry, but I can't remember who it was or find it now - if it was you, fess up and I'll put a link in!) ) had over 100 submissions awaiting response.

She inspired me to send more stories and poems out - I'm up to 54 so watch this space for yee-hahs or ya-boo-suckses.

I'm also on (at? in?) the Lancashire Writing Hub being interviewed about Poetry24, the daily ezine I co-edit with Martin

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

How to Plan a Holiday

I just read Fran's description of her and her husband choosing their holiday on Being Me and I couldn't help making a comparison.

Here's how this little library assistant plans her hols:

Part 1
(1) Agree dates friend is available. N.B. Friend (known as 'The Doctor' (no not that Doctor)) has very limited availability.
(2) Monday. At work, check library leave diary.
If fewer than two other people are off those dates, fill in the online leave request form and wait for a reply from the Ether. Responses are made to work email address which only I have access to and only when I am at work (Mondays and Tuesdays).
(3) If no answer by Tuesday, wait a week.
(4a) Following Monday: If The Doctor is now no longer available on these dates but leave is now granted
(4b) If The Doctor is still available but request is refused, because other branches are short on those dates
repeat from (1) above.

Part 2
(5) Start with vague idea of where we want to go - in this case Canary Isalnds.
(6) Search ALL travel companies for the highest rated accommodation in the nicest resort at a bargain basement price, having never quite grasped these rarely go hand in hand
(7) Compromise on the combination of above to find the  BEST deal. Algorithms may be needed.
(8) Hesitate - is it absolutely  the best deal?
(9) Check prices for the same deal offered by different companies. Wait while computer crashes and recovers.
(10) Do a statistical analysis of all variables with other deals to equivalent places.
(11) Study weather charts of applicable region - pay special attention to whether temperatures are Fahrenheit or Centigrade (it makes a difference!). Take account of elevation as well as latitude (remember Flagstaff)
(12) Read and discuss reviews by ALL previous visitors. Discount the best and worst. Matrices may be required.
(13) Study Google Earth satellite view from all angles - check for nearby airstrips, racetracks, nuclear power plants etc. Is the '250m from the beach' horizontal or vertical?
(14) View 1000 photos of resort / accommodation on the web. Analyse sunbed-to-tourist ratioetc
(15) Agree it really is a very good deal and go to book it, by which time it is no longer available
(16) Repeat (5) - (15) ... possibly more than once
(17) Someone gets fed up and says "Yes but we could get all inclusive in Turkey for that - here's a place that looks nice..."

But it always somehow comes together in the end, you just need an extra week off to plan it. Are YOU more like me or like Fran?

And yes - we're off to Turkey in a few weeks!

Friday, 21 September 2012

My Klingon for a horse...

If you're writing science fiction and running low on plot, it's not unheard of to dip into classic literature and... erm... borrow a story (I'm looking at you, Russell T.)

There are only so many plots, right?

Anyhoo, I was just about to go to sleep the other night when someone on Twitter started up  #SciFiShakespeare - a 'hashtag (or should that be mashtag?) game' with an irresistible combination if ever there was one.

As some of you are not on Twitter and so miss it's more fun elements, I have listed as I sometimes do here, some my favourites (some in the screen grab on the left, and some pasted below).

Do chip in with your own Shakespeare / scifi mashups in the comments below:

: My Klingon for a horse

But soft, what beast through yonder stomach breaks?

(Stolen from Spitting Images a long long time ago) To be not not to be, that is illogical Captain.

Close Encounters of the Richard III Kind

To take arms against a sea of tribbles and by opposing, end them…

And of course, not to be outdone, I came up with:
For in that sleep of Darth what dreams may come? and Don't Panic and let slip the dog of war!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Talk like a pirate day

On 19th September it be International Talk Like a Pirate Day - so don't say I didn't be warnin' you!

Avast behind! (but enough about me).

It's important you be fully briefed on the 'arr's and the 'grrr's but if you don't want to be forkin' out for dusty great tomes like How to Speak Pirate: A Treasure Chest of Seafaring Slang (which at least has a likeness of the great Cap'n Jack Sparrer gracing it's cover) wet your whistle now, for here be Talk Like a Pirate Day's official guidelines on how to actually be talkin' like a pirate:
  • Double up on all your adjectives. Pirates never speak of "a big ship", they call it a "great, grand ship!" They never say never, they say "No nay ne'er!"
  • Drop all your "g"'s when you speak and you'll get words like "rowin'", "sailin'" and "fightin'".
  • Dropping all of your "v"'s will get you words like "ne'er", "e'er" and "o'er".
  • Instead of saying "I am", sailors say, "I be". Instead of saying "You are", sailors say, "You be". Instead of saying, "They are", sailors say, "They be". Ne'er speak in anythin' but the present tense!
Me and the Cap'n at the New Brighton Pirate Muster 2011
There likewise be a whole heap of fascinatin' terminology at The Pirates Realm and at Black Bart's Pirate Glossary.
e.g. Dance the Hempen Jig : a hangin'
Jolly Roger : not what you be thinkin' you filthy-minded lubber
Loaded to the gunnells : dead drunk

And those landlubbin' university boffins have even coughed up this handy, if a bit scurvy Pirate Translator.

Go on! Unleash Your Inner Buccaneer

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Funny Submission Guidelines #1

I wish I'd started this post when I first began sending out poems and stories for publication. But here are a few little gems I've found in submission guidelines recently for your delectation - you may even want to send some of your writing to these markets ...

"Please no poetry, we don’t understand it." The Safety Pin Review (short fiction)

"750 or fewer words. Weird. Surprising. Preferably no elves." Brain Harvest

"We’re just not the best market for doom-laden go-nowhere stories which push the boundaries of the English language into new and unfortunate places." Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine

"We're not looking for poetry. Feel free to submit limericks. We won't publish them, but we might read them. Limericks are cool."  Crowded Magazine  (Who also need to be clear on this point: "No purple midgets, gay pirates, or unicorns. Actually, that's a lie. If you have a great story about a unicorn-riding purple midget battling a fleet of gay pirates, drop it in the queue. Really. We don't see enough of that kind of thing.")

And finally, two favourites from Short, Fast and Deadly:

"We're pretty sure our mothers read this page. Yours might too. We don't mind if she flinches a bit but we don't want her keeling over or anything."


"No Haiku! For the love of God. No Haiku."

Let me know if you come across any other good ones... I feel this may turn into a regular feature!

p.s. And of course, the best place to find out the best places to send your submissions to is the excellent free writer's database and submission tracker called Duotrope which I can't recommend highly enough

Sunday, 9 September 2012


Wow! I had an awe-inspiring few days at the Paralympics - having missed out on the Jubilee and the Olympics I'm so glad to have finally been able to take part in London 2012. Here's a short summary...

Me at the entrance to Olympic Park - just before my head explodes with excitement
China versus Finland goal ball - the contestants enter

At last! I've found a sport you can do mainly lying down - goal ball
Sunny parkland in the Olympic Park
Up in the gods in the Basketball Arena for wheelchair rugby - aka 'murder ball'

Spare wheels at murder ball - there are a LOT of punctures and collisions
Who the deuce is that waving her flag at wheelchair tennis?
Thursday, the Olympic Stadium. I was sitting above the finish line /medal podium
The perfect spot to cheer on the Weir-wolf - this was his victory lap
Pistorius and Oliviera... before Johnnie Peacock left them standing

Incredible atmosphere being part of this crowd - and deafening!

Leaving the stadium on Thursday - transport easy despite a zillion people leaving at once!

I wish I'd come in an outfit like this! Random people on the train

Friday. Awe-inspiring swimming. And yes, one of the guys with no arms won

Didn't get up the Orbis - wonky but iconic

'dreams' tunnel in the parkland

A bit of much needed r&r - finding out too late where the free flags came from

No celeb sightings except Tanni Grey Thomspon (by the water bottles) at 5 Live

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Off to the Paralympics

Me, Boris & Steve at the opening*
As I said in this post, I'm not sporty, don't follow sport... but I've been glued to the Olympics and even more so the Paralympics - it is literally incredible to watch these athletes, and totally humbling. One legged high jumpers, swimmers with no arms, blind long jumpers and sprinters with cerebral palsy - all demonstrate the triumph of the human spirit. I am absolutely in awe of them.

Some people are still unintentionally patronising. Comments like: 'It's nice that they have something, too' make me cringe. As Lee Pearson, the gloriously camp equestrian says: 'People used to say - 'Ahh look, that disabled person's wearing jodhpurs'... and then I'd beat them!'

A lot of people (but still too few) worry about saying the wrong thing when it comes to any minority. These games could be a political correctness minefield (and I shouldn't even say that in the context of this excellent Paralympics poem on Poetry24). But is anyone else watching Adam Hills' 'The Last Leg' after the sports on Channel 4?

I was a bit iffy about the idea of a paralympic comedy programme but am loving it - especially the 'is it ok?' section where people ask questions about paralympic sports (rules, technology etc) and disabled people in general. How do swimmers with no arms get out of the pool? Should you crouch down if you're being photographed with someone with dwarfism? Can you laugh at someone falling out of a wheelchair? (This from the US wheelchair rugby team whilst pushing each other out of their chairs in comedy ways).

I was skeptical about talk of 'inspiring a generation', too, but now I believe - and hope - that the coverage of these games will change public perceptions here and overseas. It all comes back again and again to Ludwig Guttman whose work at Stoke Mandeville Hospital's spinal injuries unit in the 1940's began the paralympic movement. What a hero!

Anyway... the most exciting thing is I'm off to London tomorrow, with tickets for goalball, swimming and athletics including the hottest events... Oscar Pistorius in the 100m versus the Brasilian who beat him so controversially in the 200m, and another gold medal bid from Dave Weir...  I'll tell you all about it at the weekend!

* 'Artist''s impression... so if I'm writing artist's and want to put quotes implying 'not much of an artist' where does the apostrophe go in relation to the quotes? Huh, huh?

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Doctor Goo

'Artist's impression' (ahem)
So Doctor Who's back with more Tardis and Time Lordery*. I haven't seen it yet, because I'm glued to the Paralympics, but I've got it taped.

It was a long time ago (and probably in a galaxy far away) but I won't forget the Scariest Ever Episode of Doctor Who - The Green Death (1973). I remember the monsters as giant worms or possibly giant slugs down a mine, but it turns out they were giant maggots that turned you luminous green and slimy if they 'got' you. Anyway, monsters + confined spaces + slimy skin = 'Mild peril?' It was a child's vision of hell.

I'm a big girl now. I've been watching the Doctor without hiding behind the sofa since I was ... oooh.... about 34, and I've learned to quite enjoy my very inventive** nightmares anyway.

So anyway, opening the curtains the other morning I found a giant slug on the outside of a first floor window. What the...? Is this the beginning of some kind of invasion? Is it the Time Lord of the Slugs who has just found out what I did to his family and has come to extract a slimy revenge?

"I'm not afraid of you and your house-climbing kind, Doctor Slug!" *runs behind sofa*


*  Not a real word

** Often quite horrific still, although recently I've dreamed several times that I have just started work in a supermarket. Can anyone tell me what this means? It's not in the dream recognition books in the library