Tag: just for fun

Weird Things in My Kindle TBR

Weird Things in My Kindle TBR

Book hoarding. YESSS.

I’ve had a Kindle (other ereaders are also available, apparently), in one form or another, for at least eight years or so. My original Kindle, in fact, I sent to my dad when I ‘upgraded’ to a Kindle Fire. That Kindle Fire has now become a Spotify machine which crashes regularly, and the Kindle Fire that followed (which has the worst battery life imaginable and crashes regularly) has been relegated to use for YouTube workout videos, replaced by a Kindle Paperwhite. Meanwhile, Dad’s still using that that first Kindle. I kind of messed that one up.

Anyhow, I did one of those “I have so much stuff on here, what is it all?” things (of course, I know there are at least six versions of the WIP, but there is so much more on my Kindle. So much more).

Friends, do not ask this question lightly.

I thought that, other than the many copies of various versions of the WIP, that there were certain things I could expect:

  • Several Learn French books because I have good intentions, mostly never opened because I have terrible follow through.
  • A large collection of classics, because as above. Plus they’re free.
  • A very large collections of BookBub buys, because when I first found Bookbub I bought something off almost every email. Every daily email. Some were free, some weren’t. A fairly large proportion of them are unopened, and a reasonable portion of the opened ones I never finished.
  • A substantial collection of books I actually bought and read.

So, yes, I was prepared for those.

However, some things I was not prepared for.

Allow me to present:

A Tour Through the Weird Books I Thought I Needed.

 

Decorative Napkin Folding for Beginners.

“Napkins are easy to fold into ingenious shapes and add a tough of festivity to any dinner. Whether you use paper or cloth, a napkin folded into a delightful shape is a welcome way to start a meal.”

I do not know why I thought I needed this. Many years ago I did a combination of cooking and stewardessing aboard small boats, and did on occasion need to fold a napkin, although mostly my partner at the time took care of that sort of thing. This was many years before Kindle, though, and it is not an aspect of the job I miss.

However, if I ever decide to buy a dining table and have a dinner party, I will be able to fold paper or material napkins into festive shapes. Which is handy. (And, apparently, my guests “will have as much fun trying to figure out how you did it as you did in the making.” Good times.)

 

Taste: The Story of Britain Through its Cooking.

“In this involving history of the British people, Kate Colquhoun celebrates every aspect of our cuisine from Anglo-Saxon feasts and Tudor banquets, through the skinning of eels and the invention of ice cream, to Dickensian dinner-party excess and the growth of frozen food.”

To be fair, this actually sounds quite interesting, but I don’t know why I thought I’d read it. It’s one of those books I look at in a bookshop, think it sounds clever, then put it down again. The odds of me learning about the history of Britain through the medium of food are – wait. Hang on, I just realised the attraction. Okay, I won’t delete this one.

 

Don’t Throw It, Grow It!: 68 windowsill plants from kitchen scraps.

“Don’t throw out your kitchen scraps — grow them! Discover how you can transform leftover pomegranate seeds, mango pits, and dried bits of gingerroot into thriving plants. From the common carrot to the exotic cherimoya, you’ll be amazed at the gardening possibilities hidden in the foods you eat.”

Delusions of grandeur. I don’t even know what a cherimoya is. And I can’t keep actual plants from garden centres alive, so I have doubts about my ability to coax life from garden scraps. It seems that, at times, I see myself as having a domestic goddess side. I’m pretty certain this is incorrect.

 

How to Stay Sane: The School of Life, Book 6.

“There is no simple set of instructions that can guarantee sanity.”

I can’t help but feel this book is poorly named. “How to Possibly Stay a Little Sane” might fit more with that blurb. Not that I’ve read it, because apparently this was not a high priority read for me. I’d also like to know why I didn’t start with Book 1. That might have been something handy, like “How to Adult”.

 

Writing a Novel & Getting Published for Dummies.

“If you’ve always wanted to write that great novel, but never knew where to start, look no further! Taking you step by step from concept to contract, this book provides the tools you need to tell your story with skill and approach agents and publishers with confidence.”

Ahahahahahaha.

Well, we always hope there’s a secret, right? A magic formula that we just have to discover? A secret code, a hidden map, a… book for dummies?

 

I also discovered an astonishing amount of cosy mysteries, both read and not, as well as a perfectly ridiculous number of zombie books. Apparently I’ve been searching for the perfect zombie-cosy mystery crossover for quite some time.

I won’t mention the large assortment of books that I actually already own in hard copy, though…

 

Correct.

 

What about you? Have you made any mystifying finds on your Kindle (substitute ereader of choice here)?

The Phantom Tollbooth & Why I Read Past the First Chapter

The Phantom Tollbooth & Why I Read Past the First Chapter

In which I talk about a book that I can’t actually remember very well, but that I know I loved as a kid. I also blame it for why I have guilt over DNF (did not finish) books.

Well, not really. I actually thank it for teaching me to always give a book a reasonable chance, but the other way sounds more interesting.

 

 

Do you put books down unfinished? Why or why not? And what’s something that a book’s taught you? Let me know in the comments!

 

An A-Z of the Writer’s Life

An A-Z of the Writer’s Life

Don’t be ridiculous. Of course I haven’t run out of blog ideas. It’s only the end of January. This is important stuff!

Okay, important might be stretching it, but this was actually really fun. So, without further ado:

The A-Z of the Writer’s Life

(Because you always wanted to know, right?)

This is fine. This is absolutely fine…

A: Authors. That’s us. Even if we don’t feel like that’s what we are an awful lot, and need constant reassurance and regular infusions of chocolate to believe it.

B: Blogs. First because we think we should, later because it gives us an excuse to inflict our thoughts on unsuspecting internet readers.

C: Caffeine. Lots of it. Lots.

D: Drafts. So many drafts. Why are there so many? Why is there never really a final draft?

E: Editing. The word we don’t like to talk about, because there’s even more of it than there are drafts.

F: Fans. What we want. The kind that read our books, not the kind that move air around. Although in summer they’re nice, too.

G: Goals. Those things that shift a lot.

How we hope it works.

H: Headaches. Because our characters do things that we didn’t say they could do, and very rarely do what we want them to do. Also grammar, and real life interfering with our Work.

I: Insecurity. Lots of it. Will I finish this horrible draft? Will I make it less horrible? Will other people think it’s horrible? Will they think I’m horrible? Am I a horrible writer, or a horrible person, or both?

J: Jokes. Things we’re sure we tell badly, or else something that we suspect we may actually be. Not sure.

K: Kettle. Vital writer equipment. Enables us to fuel our caffeine habit, make pot noodles, and serves as a fantastic procrastination tool.

L: Laughter. Used as deflection when someone asks us how our little book is coming on. Often has a slightly desperate edge.

M: Murder. What we research more than is probably healthy, and said searches are probably why we’re on FBI watch lists.

N: Nightmares. In which we find ourselves at a writers’ conference, pitching an erotic comedy to an agent who represents only literary fiction.

Yep.

O: Oh. As in oh my god, oh help me, oh hell, oh no what have I done, and other things I can’t print here.

P: Proofreading. Because editing wasn’t enough. Editing is never enough.

Q: Quiet. What we insist we need, then get a little uneasy about when we actually get it. Is there a tap dripping? I think the fridge is coming on too often. I did not know the cat snored that loudly. Wow. All this quiet is distracting. How am I meant to work like this?

R: Research. Where we find out about interesting ways to kill people, untraceable poisons, how to dismember a body, and other titbits that don’t really help us in small talk situations.

S: Sighs. Many, and escalating as the drafts mount up.

T: Twitter. Where we ‘connect with readers’ and ‘build our audience’. Also known as hanging out with other writers, sharing bad jokes and pretending to work.

U: Unclear. Our characters’ motives, the plot, and our own memories of where we were going when we started this piece. Also our motivations for ever getting into this madness.

No, no. We just think it is. Hopefully.

V: Vague. Our behaviour when forced to leave the computer and socialise. Also known as ‘unsociable’, ‘awkward’, and sometimes ‘weird’.

W: Wikipedia. Where we fall down rabbit holes of unrelated research and emerge days later knowing the exact breeding cycle of the lesser red-spotted yak fly, but nothing more about the historical relevance of penny whistles, which is what we went in for.

X: X. Usually written large, in red, across vast swathes of manuscript while editing.

Y: Yowl. The sound the cat makes when we step on her in the dark while going to write down an amazing idea that’s just occurred to us at 3 am. Alternatively: Yelp, the sound the dogs makes, and also the sound we make when we walk into the bathroom door.

Z: Zero. The amount of regret we have about any of this. Most of the time, anyway.

 

 

So let me know, lovely people – any additions to this alphabet? Any substitutions? Tell me your thoughts!

A Dragonish Q&A with Beaufort Scales

A Dragonish Q&A with Beaufort Scales

Introducing Beaufort Scales, High Lord of the Cloverly Dragons and lover of tea, cakes and barbecues, if you haven’t met before.

Beaufort: So, what are we doing, Miriam? Lovely scone, by the way.

Miriam: Thank you, Beaufort. And we’re going to do a blog.

B: Which is neither a bog nor a log, or any combination of those?

Mm: No. It’s just an article, really, but it goes on my website instead of in a newspaper.

B: And the website is in the twitter machine?

*Mortimer sighs loudly in the background*

B: Alright, lad. No need to get sniffy. Old dragons will learn new tricks, we just take a little while to do it.

Mm: Okay. So – are you ready?

B: Fire away!

Mm: Okay, so – can you explain to the readers who the Cloverly dragons are?

B: Of course. We are a very ancient clan, and have been living in the area ever since that whole St George incident made us decide we were best to move to less populated places. I saw that, you know. High Lord Catherine was sleeping, and he just –

Typical. Making High Lord Catherine look ten times the size of that ‘knight’, rather than her true size- that of a Shetland pony.

Mm: Oh dear. Maybe we should move on…?

B: There’s a whole day devoted to him! Where’s High Lord Catherine’s day?

Mm: Well, that does seem unfair –

B: And a flag! St George’s cross! Cowardly monster. And did we take revenge? No! We just moved away and left the humans to it! Some days I’m not sure that was the right choice. Maybe we should have taken a stand against such vulgarity, then and there!

Mm, hissing: Mortimer, what do I do? He’s going to scorch the tablecloth!

Mortimer: Beaufort, sir? Would you like some more tea?

B: I – ooh. Are there more scones too?

 

…a little later…

 

Mm: So, what made you decide to, um, visit with humans again?

B: Well, that’s all down to Mortimer, really.

Mort: What?

B: Yes, lad. First that clever idea of changing our definition of treasure, then those wonderful baubles you created to enable us to actually start trading – wonderful!

Mort, spluttering: I didn’t – I never – it was meant to be all anonymous!

B: Nonsense. And then you made friends with Miriam here, and she introduced us to all her Women’s Institute friends –

Mort, faintly: I think that was called you gate crashing a meeting, not being introduced.

B: And then it became very clear that the WI needed our help when the vicar was poisoned last summer, and you were ready to help straight away.

Mort, fainter still: I really wasn’t…

Mm: Mortimer, are you alright? Your tail’s gone blue.

Mort: Am I stress-shedding again? Again? We’re not even doing anything! Just talking about it! Just talking about it upsets me!

B: Mortimer, I think you could use another cup of tea. Sit down and leave your tail alone. You’re not helping, worrying at it like that.

*Mortimer mumbles indistinctly but furiously*

B: Miriam, do you have any cream? It goes terribly well with scones, and it always seems to calm him.

Mort, indistinctly: I shall be fat and bald. Fat and bald and stressed.

 

 

…a little later again…

 

Mm: Does everyone have enough scones and tea? Okay, let’s talk about something else. Beaufort, you’ve been High Lord for centuries-

B: Ever since High Lord Catherine was slaughtered.

Mm: Um, okay, yes. What are the greatest changes you’ve seen?

B: Oh, what a terribly exciting question! It’s been wonderful. Humans are so interesting. You never rest, do you? Always something. Trains, and cars, and airplanes, and rockets. Satellites up among the stars, and people on them. People! Such clever things, you humans. But at the same time you don’t change a lot. Still fighting with each other over everything, and never looking up from all the clever things you’re doing to really appreciate everything. What else? *pauses thoughtfully* Vegetarianism. Yes. Vegetarianism in dragons. I mean, humans are always a little odd, but dragons? I consider myself very tolerant, but that is strange.

Mm: I – okay. Yes, I can see how that’s a really big change.

B: And village fetes. The standard of cake has really gone up in the last millenia.

Mm: So, the biggest changes since the days of St George are vegetarianism in dragons and cake?

B: Well. We notice the small stuff, don’t we? The big things are wonderful, but it’s the small things we really live, don’t you think?

Mm: I guess so.

B: And there’s no point dwelling on the changes that help no one. This is a positive glob, isn’t it?

Mort: Blog.

B: That’s what I said.

Mm, quickly: Absolutely.

B: Anyway, I think there’s more positive than negative. All species have their funny little scuffles and problems. But, individually, you’re all quite lovely. And you do all these things to connect to each other, like the twitter. All these little people living in the machine and chatting to each other and supporting each other. It’s wonderful!

Mort: That’s not-

Mm, talking over Mort: You’re right, Beaufort. It is kind of wonderful, isn’t it?

B: And having human friends again is a beautiful thing. It teaches an old dragon all sorts of new tricks.

*Mortimer sighs heavily and picks at his tail*

B: What else do you want to talk about?

Mm: I think that’s perfect. Unless you have anything else to say?

B: Hmm. Only that too many humans think they are very small and unimportant, and it makes them sad, or angry, and sometimes hurtful. But every one of you is beautiful and wonderful and fascinating, with the most astonishing thoughts and ideas and potential. You should all remember that, and tell each other the same every chance you get. *pause* Mortimer, do stop picking your scales. You are far too young a dragon to be having a bald tail.

Mm: Mortimer, do you want some more cream?

Mort: No.

B: Come on, lad. A scone, some cream – maybe a little something stronger?

Mort: Noo…

Mm: How about hot chocolate?

Mort: I’m not sure.

Mm: With Baileys and cream?

B: Well, I certainly want one. Come on, lad.

Mort: I guess I could.

B: There we go. Hot chocolate. Chocolate in general! That’s another wonderful advance!

Mort, whispering: He’s so enthusiastic. It hurts my head.

Mm, patting him on the back: I know. I’ll make you that hot chocolate now.

 

…and later still…

 

B: How’re you feeling, Mortimer?

Mort: Mush – much better.

B: There we are, then. Life should always be contemplated with plenty of tea and cake. And spiked hot chocolate, when necessary.

Mm: And that is a universal truth.

 

 


 

Do you have any questions for Beaufort? Ask away in the comments, or you can find him on twitter here. Well, when Mortimer lets him use the twitter machine, anyway…

 


 

If you enjoyed that little insight into the world of Beaufort, you might want to jump over here and read one of his short stories – or ask me about his others! Don’t forget that most of the short stories will be coming down from the website at the end of the month, but if you sign up to the newsletter below you’ll get a link to a new story every month (and yes, this month it’s a Beaufort story!)

 

 

James Joyce, A Cat, & The Devil

James Joyce, A Cat, & The Devil

In which I somehow turn book review time into storytime, featuring an absolutely brilliant little picture book written by James Joyce.

Well, I imagine he needed a break after Ulysses.

 

 

Do you have any strange and unusual finds you’ve come across in your bookshop travels? Books by unexpected authors? Let me know in the comments!

 

Dragon Soup

Dragon Soup

You need big pumpkins to feed hungry dragons.

Beaufort Scales, High Lord of the Cloverly dragons and aficionado of well-built barbecues, would like to offer his recommendations for the best way to cook rabbits.

Unfortunately, we seem to be missing some rabbits.

 


 

Beaufort: Mortimer, they were right here.

Mortimer: I know, I can’t quite imagine what’s happened. There were six of them, two each and two for, ah, trials.

B: Are you suggesting I might not cook the rabbits to perfection first time?

M: Ahem. Of course not. Just that we might, um, need a couple of goes to get the recipe to where the humans can follow it accurately.

B: Ah, I see. That makes sense. It must be quite tricky, using an oven rather than just a little puff of flame.

M: Exactly.

B: So where are the rabbits?

M: Umm. Is that Gilbert? Gilbert!

Gilbert (nervously, in far too bright a voice): Hi! Hello. Ah – what’re you two up to, then?

B: Oh, we were just about to do a lovely rabbit cooking demonstration.

G (faintly): How… lovely?

M: Gilbert, we seem to be missing some rabbits. Would you know anything about that?

G: Me? No. No! Why would I know anything about it?

M: Well, there was that incident with the turkeys at Christmas.

B: Mortimer, there’s no need to accuse the lad like that. He wouldn’t steal another dragon’s dinner, would you, Gibert?

G: Umm.

M: Dammit, Gilbert! We were going to take photos and everything!

G: But they’re cute! And fluffy! And their little paws are just so, so – little! And paw-y!

M: Gilbert!

B: See here, lad, you can’t be setting people’s dinner loose like that. What’re we going to eat now?

M: What’re we going to photograph now? I promised Alice we’d do this for the WI blog!

B: I’m slightly more concerned by how long it’s been since lunch, personally.

G: I can make something.

(Silence)

B: I don’t mean to be rude, Gilbert, but you are a, a vegetarian. We’re dragons.

G: So am I!

B: Well, of course you are, lad, but, well, I think I may be a little old to become a vegetarian dragon.

M: To be fair, sir, one meal won’t make us vegetarian dragons. We’ll just be dragons that ate a vegetarian meal.

G: Yes, exactly! Besides, I don’t think there’s any getting those bunnies back. They were running pretty fast.

(Beaufort growls. Gilbert looks alarmed.)

B: Alright. But if I start craving celery for breakfast I’ll be sending you out to get it.

 

 


 

Ingredients:

1 dragon-approved pumpkin

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

1 large mild chilli, including seeds (or to taste)

Approx 1 cm ginger

Sesame oil

Turmeric

Ground cumin

Ground coriander

Whole cardamon

Soy sauce

Veggie stock (powder or liquid)

1 165mL can coconut milk (or more if you prefer a creamier soup)

3-4 lime leaves

1 lemon

Fresh coriander

 

Method:

Chop pumpkin into manageable pieces – Gilbert likes a small pumpkin that he can pull into quarters easily. Remove seeds (you can eat these while you’re cooking, if you’re as passionate about pumpkin as he is). Roughly chop (with a knife or claws) onion, garlic, chili and ginger.

Heat spices in dry saucepan – dragons have difficulties with fiddly things like measuring spoons, so just shake a generous amount of each ground spice out and add 6 or more cardamon pods. Let them heat until fragrant, then add a healthy glug of sesame oil.

Add chopped veg, give it a quick stir, then drop the pumpkin on top. Add a few shakes of soy sauce and the zest of the lemon (you can scrape it with dragon scales or a grater). Cover and cook on a low to moderate heat (this is much easier on a stove than with dragon flame, which runs terribly high to scorching), checking occasionally, until the pumpkin is so soft you can scrape it off the skin with a spoon. Remove the skin, and take the cardamon pods out at the same time (count them in and out – no one wants an unexpected cardamon pod in their teeth).

Add coconut milk, lime leaves, and enough stock to cover the veg. Cover and cook on low for 10 -15 minutes, then taste for seasoning. Remove the lime leaves before blending (blend with your claws if you want, but a stick blender tends to get it smoother). Add as much extra stock as you need to get the desired consistency, then add a healthy handful of chopped coriander and some lemon juice to taste.

Serve with lots of crusty bread, and a little creme fraiche and coriander scattered on top if you’re feeling posh. Gilbert prefers just to drink it straight from the pot with no messing around, but this may be frowned upon if you have company.

 


 

Beaufort: Well, lad. I’m not saying I could ever be a vegetarian dragon, but I see your point.

Gilbert: I’ll make you jambalaya next week. It’s got okra in it.

B: Okra? Are they hard to catch?

 


 

Do you eat much veggie food? What’s your favourite easy recipe, veggie or not? Feel free to share in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Reading, Zombies & Penguins

Christmas Reading, Zombies & Penguins

In which I reveal that my tastes in movies are rather similar to my tastes in books, and talk about the Christmas books I didn’t read, as well as the not-very-Christmassy one I did.

I also forget to wish you Happy New Year, after spending all of last week’s video trying not to.

So, umm, Happy New Year?

 

 

What did you read and watch over Christmas? Do you have any books or movies you go back to every year? Let me know in the comments!

 

The Writer’s 12 Days of Christmas

The Writer’s 12 Days of Christmas

They’ve got their thinking caps on, right? RIGHT? Sigh. Fine.

The last blog post before Christmas, and I have no idea how we got here so quickly. I hope you’ve been looking after yourself, and aren’t feeling too stressed about the day itself. It’s only a day, remember. I wish you a wonderful one, whether you’re celebrating or not – let me know what you’re up to in the comments!

Anyhow, last year I may have got a little ahead of myself and decided that I could actually write poetry. Not poetry poetry. You know. Rhymes. The Night Before Christmas, to be exact.

And there might have been, as Bill Nighy so delightfully says on Love Actually, an extra syllable shoe-horned in there (or several), but it was fun.

Fun enough that I decided to try it again, this time with The 12 Days of Christmas (largely because it’s one of the few Christmas songs I can kind of remember, and it didn’t seem too complicated).

And somehow, the SO allowed himself to be volunteered to sing it.

So – enjoy!

 

 


The Writer’s 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Frightful insecurity.

On the second day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Two chosen ones
And frightful insecurity.

On the third day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Three bad boys,
Two chosen ones,
And frightful insecurity.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Four tangled plots,
Three bad boys,
Two chosen ones,
And frightful insecurity.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Five comma splices,
Four tangled plots,
Three bad boys,
Two chosen ones,
And frightful insecurity.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Six epic typos,
Five comma splices,
Four tangled plots,
Three bad boys,
Two chosen ones,
And frightful insecurity.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Seven tenses shifting,
Six epic typos,
Five comma splices,
Four tangled plots,
Three bad boys,
Two chosen ones,
And frightful insecurity.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Eight tropes a-troping,
Seven tenses shifting,
Six epic typos,
Five comma splices,
Four tangled plots,
Three bad boys,
Two chosen ones,
And frightful insecurity.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Nine cliches clashing,
Eight tropes a-troping,
Seven tenses shifting,
Six epic typos,
Five comma splices,
Four tangled plots,
Three bad boys,
Two chosen ones,
And frightful insecurity.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Ten spellcheck failings,
Nine cliches clashing,
Eight tropes a-troping,
Seven tenses shifting,
Six epic typos,
Five comma splices,
Four tangled plots,
Three bad boys,
Two chosen ones,
And frightful insecurity.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Eleven viewpoints jumping,
Ten spellcheck failings,
Nine cliches clashing,
Eight tropes a-troping,
Seven tenses shifting,
Six epic typos,
Five comma splices,
Four tangled plots,
Three bad boys,
Two chosen ones,
And frightful insecurity.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My writing gave to me,
Twelve grammar crashes,
Eleven viewpoints jumping,
Ten spellcheck failings,
Nine cliches clashing,
Eight tropes a-troping,
Seven tenses shifting,
Six epic typos,
Five comma splices,
Four tangled plots,
Three bad boys,
Two chosen ones,
And frightful insecurity.

 

And there we have it. Huge thank you to the SO for lending his voice – you’re a star and very, very good at humouring me. 🙂

 

 

What’s your favourite Christmas song/poem? Let me know in the comments! (Bonus points for a link to you singing it somewhere…)

 

Bookshelves, a Book Haul, & a Grumpy Cat

Bookshelves, a Book Haul, & a Grumpy Cat

I recorded this video the day after we got back from Denmark, and just before I started packing, which explains the needy cat and the general disorganisation of the whole thing.

Or that’s my excuse, anyway.

Anyhow, watch on to see me mourn the fact that I’m going to have to have to downsize my bookshelves, show off a very small bookhaul, and deal with a needy cat.

 

 

Do you go bookshop hunting when you’re travelling? What was your latest bookhaul? Let me know below!