Category Archives: writing

Discover Ivy Logan

I met Ivy through the One Stop Fiction Authors’ Resource Facebook Page. She contacted me and asked me to write a guest blog for her website about writers and technology. As I was just told by crime writer Wendy H. Jones at the creative writing workshop in Elgin ‘say yes to everything,’ I said, “Yes, of course!”

I had asked Ivy to give me a week to write the article. The next morning I was still in bed when inspiration hit me and I wrote three-quarters of the text. I had wanted to finish it two days later, but my back pain stopped me from sitting behind my computer. It actually stopped me from sitting and I spent most of the day lying in bed. Yesterday, I finally got some painkillers that worked and I was able to finish my article. I enjoyed writing it.

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The article is called ‘Do writers need to be tech-savvy?’ and you can read the full article on Ivy’s blog here.  She also has another website (this one) where you can find out more about her books and the characters in it.

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Ivy is a passionate character that likes a good laugh and lives for her storytelling. As my father took his time when tucking us girls in at night to answer our questions like ‘why does the world turn?’ and ‘how can fish breathe under water?,’ Ivy’s father would mesmerize his daughters with stories of fantastical worlds and mystic creatures (bless our fathers). She has taken all that on board and is now telling stories of her own. Have a browse on her website and find out more about this new upcoming author.

Image by Anton Ponomarev from Unsplash, edited by Jacky Dahlhaus

Anton Ponomarev

Text Neck – A Writer’s Pain?

I hadn’t heard about ‘Text Neck’ until yesterday. I have been suffering a pain in my upper back, right between my shoulder blades, for four days now. It is most painful when I look down. Not only annoying in daily life but as a writer particularly so when you want to position your fingers correctly on your keyboard or text on your mobile phone. I’ve seen a chiropractor for the problem yesterday. She mentioned one of my legs is longer than the other, loosened up my wrists, and stuck her finger in my mouth ‘to clear my sinuses.’ I left with the same pain in my back. Still in agony, I managed to see the emergency doctor at my GP clinic. ‘Take some aspirin,’ she said. I did, and my pain is still there.

I was very disappointed in these health professionals. The chiropractor didn’t do anything to relieve my pain, the GP wasn’t interested in what caused it. Holistic healthcare doesn’t seem to exist anymore. So I did some research online to find out what was causing my pain and what I could do about it. That’s when I read about ‘Text Neck.’

What is Text Neck?

Text Neck is a repetitive strain injury of the ligaments and muscles in your neck and upper back that keep your head upright. It is primarily seen in young people who use their mobile phones frequently.  People have looked down to read books in the past, but using mobile phones has added to this looking down and often for a substantially more frequent and longer period at a time.

What causes Text Neck?

As we look at our mobile phones, laptops, or tablets to connect with our social media, we look down. It’s this looking down that puts extra strain on the ligaments and muscles in our neck and upper back. Our head weighs about 5-6 kgs. Some people boast of having more brains than others, but let’s not go there now. When we tip our head forward and down, the feel of our head weight increases for our tendons and muscles. The image below gives you an indication of how heavy your head can feel to them.

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The more you let your head hang down to look at your phone, the heavier it gets. Some people get neck pain, some people (like me) get upper back pain, some people get (chronic) headaches. The pain particularly happens when you put your head in the compromising position. I must admit I use my mobile a lot. I Tweet, WhatsApp, Hangout, and use Facebook on my phone. I’ve recently been looking at Instagram too. You have to ‘spread the word of your existence and your books’ as a writer, don’t you? The worst part for me is that it affects my writing on my PC as looking down on my keyboard is extremely painful.

How can you treat Text Neck?

The first thing that needs to be done is to treat the pain and inflammation. The pain is the most common reason people seek out professional help and this should be the first thing they should treat (not stick fingers in mouths to unblock sinuses). It is best to see your GP for this.

Next, your posture should be assessed and corrected. A physiotherapist seems to be the best health professional for this. They can do the physical assessment and give you muscle strengthening, posture correcting, and stretching exercises to ease the current condition, promote healing, and to prevent it from recurring.

What you can do (as a writer) at home is the following:

  • Keep your PC screen and mobile device at eye level
  • Keep your ears above your shoulders, your shoulders above your hips when you’re sitting
  • Keep both feet on a solid surface
  • Take regular breaks from your sitting position
  • Do regular exercises to stretch and strengthen your core muscles
  • Limit your time on your mobile device
  • Learn touch typing

It is also worth noting here how sitting for long periods of time affect our bodies negatively in the long run. There are multiple articles on this topic that are interesting and they are sending out a warning to all people with sitting jobs.

So, do you still want to be a writer? 😀

 

Disclaimer: I am not a health care professional (at least, not for humans) and all my information was gathered from the internet.

Sources:

https://www.spine-health.com/blog/modern-spine-ailment-text-neck

https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/how-avoid-text-neck-overuse-syndrome

http://physioworks.com.au/injuries-conditions-1/text-neck

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2014/nov/24/text-neck-how-smartphones-damaging-our-spines

https://www.spine-health.com/blog/modern-spine-ailment-text-neck

 

Banner photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Unplash, edited by Jacky Dahlhaus

Clem Onojeghuo

Fun Friday!

I had forty-five minutes to write this post before I had to run off to see a chiropractor. Yep, still back problems but higher up now. I can’t look down, which is really annoying when you’re typing. Fortunately, I can do touch typing (life saver!), but my back is still killing me. I haven’t seen a GP first as it is near impossible to get an appointment in the same week, so I’m paying the full price. Anything to get my movement back. A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!

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There is great news to tell this week. I have finished my guest blog article for Cynthia Morgan’s website. It’s my first guest blog, I’m so excited! It’s especially exciting as I have written a meeting of Charlie and Sasha, two characters from my books, before the story starts. It was so much fun to write. I didn’t realize how much I missed writing. Yes, I’ve been writing blogs and short stories, but this was different. This was writing about my babies, the characters that drew me into writing. It made me happy and I can’t wait to begin writing book 3 now.

I have also been asked to do another guest blog by Ivy Logan. She asked me to write an article about writers and technology. People have the impression I am tech-savvie, LOL! If you ask my husband, he’d give you another answer 😀 ! All he keeps saying to me is “breathe in, breathe out, now count to ten…” I do know more than the average person, I suppose, but my impatientness doesn’t help when I want to make something happen. I’ll keep you up to date where to find the article when it’s up.

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The other thing that made me smile this week was when Ivy told me she liked me to write the article because I write ‘so bold and sassy.’ I had to look up what sassy exactly means. It’s ‘lively, full of spirit, cheeky.’ I found it such a lovely compliment, it made my day. What am I saying, it made my week! Thank you, Ivy 🙂 .

I sent out, of course, some happy memes sent out this week. Here they are:

Photo of girl by Wayne Dery from Unsplash

Wayne Dery

Meeting Wendy H. Jones, Scottish crime writer

I just got back from a creative workshop in Elgin. It was organized by the Elgin Writers and the Scottish Association of Writers. The whole Meldrum Writers’ Club was invited, but unfortunately, I was the only one that attended from our group.

The morning started with a talk from Wendy H. Jones, a Scottish crime writer from Dundee. I was surprised to see her here. I knew her through the One Stop Fiction Authors’ Resource Group but had never met her in person. She was fun to listen to and had some interesting insights into marketing. The talk about marketing was the reason for me coming to the workshop and I’m glad I did as I learned some new marketing strategies from Wendy. It was also great to find out what a fun person she is.

You can get Wendy’s first book of the DI Shona McKenzie mysteries here. There are five books at the moment and the sixth one coming out soon!

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Before lunch, we had a talk from a poet (unfortunately I didn’t catch his name) and were given some insight into how to write a poem. We had to fill in the blanks in a cathartic poem and some people read out what they had written. I found it way too personal and nobody is ever going to see what I wrote. Sorry 😀 .

After lunch, we had a talk from Claire Wingfield, a writer and editor. She didn’t have any visuals with her talk and it made it unclear what she wanted us to do in the workshop part of her talk. We figured it out when others began to cite their answers. She also gave us some insight in how she edits writers’ work and this was eye opening.

All in all, I had a great time, met some lovely people, made some connections, and learned some more on the business side of writing.

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Banner photo by Thought Catalog at Unsplash

Thought Catalog

Fun Friday!

I have mixed feelings about the past week. The worst thing about it was that I did my back in. I had gone to the gym on Tuesday. Had no problem doing my exercises at the time, but on Wednesday my back was killing me. I kept getting spasms in a muscle on the left-hand side with minuscule movements. Extremely painful. I didn’t get much sleep that night. I took ibuprofen which helped a little, but it didn’t stop the spasms. I got my husband to pick up some diazepam from the pharmacy, which my GP prescribed me, which would function as a muscle relaxant. I am very happy to say it worked. I only got up twice last night 🙂 .

What were the fun things? Well, I got some feedback back from my beta-readers. Only four typos found so far. Pretty chuffed with this as I think it could have been far worse. I chatted with someone I met via Twitter. He started reading my book and said he found it a good read. Music to my ears! Last week, I forgot to mention, another author told me she revised her book after my review. I was very humbled that she took my words to heart.

I’ve also figured out how to work with Amazon Associates. I may start to earn something now. For a change.

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I’m still listening to the ‘Good Omens’ audio book. It’s too good to put away. My daughter actually began reading the book when I started listening and she’s finished already! We had to get the box with Terry Pratchett books from storage for her. She’s totally hooked on his humor now. You can get ‘Good Omens’ here.

I’m looking forward to the weekend as I’m attending a creative writing workshop in Elgin and we’re filming with AFP again. Busy, busy, busy. On top of this, I am getting some unexpected visitors from down south for lunch. I haven’t seen them for a year, so I’m looking forward to catching up. I better go make my house a bit more representable 😀 .

I’m not forgetting the memes. Here they are:

Time Management

I just got back from ‘an hour at the gym’. It’s now 11:11am. And I haven’t had my shower yet, so that’s the morning gone. I still have the grocery shopping to do, which will take another two hours. By the time I sit down to work on my cover revamp, it’s time to pick up the kids from school again. Somewhere I have to fit in the sanding and painting of the repatched dressing room ceiling as well.

My husband said this morning, “What are you going to do today?” In return, I asked him, “What are you going to do today?” He answered, “I’m going to work.” I was so jealous. I wished I could say that. I wished I could leave all this household stuff behind and spend eight hours a day five days a week working on my books.

‘Why don’t you?’ I hear you ask. Because that’s not how it works. I am a housewife. I don’t work. I have a hobby. He said so the other day.

Sigh.

Banner photo by Cliff Johnson at Unsplash
Cliff Johnson

From Russia with Love: Movie vs. Audio Book

I finished the audio book of ‘From Russia with Love’ surprisingly fast. I listened to it during my gym trips and as I go there three times per week, it was over before I realized. It appears I listen faster than I read 😀 . It was the second audio book I listened to and I must say I like it. It is not a perfect way to ‘read’ the book, as I often find myself losing concentration which makes me miss little bits here and there. With Ian Fleming’s story, I didn’t find this a problem, I didn’t miss the line of the story. I have immediately got myself a new book, Good Omens, written by the late Terry Pratchett and Neil Gayman in 1990 and I find their writing not suited for audio. Too much happening, too many references to past text. I need to get another one.

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Back to From Russia with Love. I listened to the story before I (re)watched the movie. I was surprised about the detail Fleming gives in his story. I always had the impression that his writing was ‘below average,’ that it was ‘cheap’ and ‘full of action.’ This didn’t mean there is little information in his writing. The first chapter describes one of the scenes which appears later in the movie. It’s the one where the assassin is being massaged by a pretty lady in her underwear. In the scene, no one talks. Not one word is said, but Fleming details everything. In particular, the girl’s thoughts are described, how she despises the man her hands are working on for no apparent reason. How he terrifies her without ever having said something to her. Fleming describes extremely well what sort of a man he is. After all, he is an assassin (but the girl doesn’t know this). I liked this opening of the book.

There is a lot of telling instead of showing. Every person and every scene are described. I didn’t mind this, but I guess that is partly the director in me. I suppose it helped when they made the movie. Fleming also used a lot of adverbs and adjectives. Again, I didn’t mind this, but I did notice.

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When I watched the movie, the first thing I noticed was that they didn’t follow the book. The sequences were different, scenes were added, helicopters and explosions were added. Another big difference is that SPECTRE replaced Russia as the ‘bad guys.’ I’m not sure if this was done because the relationship with Russia was precarious, but it was a surprise. I hadn’t realized when I read the book. Then again, it had been ages since I watched the movie. As the movie was made in 1963, Sean Connery is very young in the movie. So young, I almost didn’t’ recognize him 😀 . I was annoyed when I was watching him and his co-actors on the screen. I missed the information provided by Fleming in the book. The backgrounds, the character traits, the details; they were totally dismissed. The movie seemed like a very cheap copy.

My conclusion is that I preferred to read the book over watching the movie. But I guess you already knew I was going to say this 😀 .

Fun Friday!

This last week has been a great week. Not because of the weather. The weather has been dreadful. Rain, rain, and rain again. We didn’t have the basement fill with water for a change though. My husband must have fixed the leaking gutter drain properly earlier this year. The man is so incredibly handy! At the moment he is working on the basement bathroom. The plumbing for the laundry in the dressing room is ready and we’re working on the painting now. Progress!

Spent nearly all day yesterday with my son. He had an appointment with a new orthodontist. This was orthodontist #3. Fortunately, the woman agreed that my son does have a dental problem. His top and bottom teeth are not touching except for the very back molars. Orthodontist #2 didn’t see an issue with that. Orthodontist #1 acknowledged the problem but had an issue communicating. So glad we finally have someone who knows what they’re doing and can explain what needs to be done. Which is not a lot for now. Next appointment = next year.

I have been going to the gym, following instructions of my trainer, and it seems to be paying off. I’m sure I saw the outline of some biceps in the mirror. It takes a lot of time and stamina, but I’m still losing weight while gaining muscles. I must be doing something right.

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Talking about muscles… I lied last week. I said there wasn’t a movie out worth seeing. How wrong was I! We went to see Wonder Woman and it was great. As I have been so incredibly busy, I haven’t been able to write a review yet, but will do soon. For the moment, have a look at those biceps of Gal Gadot. They’re almost like mine 😀 .

The best thing of all last week is, of course, that I finished editing Book 2 of the Suckers Trilogy! I finished it on Monday, but couldn’t send it out to my launch team until yesterday. Even then I had to wait till the afternoon as my son’s download that was supposed to happen overnight (some game or other) didn’t happen overnight due to an obscure reason and took up all of our bandwidth the whole morning and early afternoon.  But the Book is out the door now (not yet on Amazon!). If you’re interested in becoming part of my launch team and receive the book for free, sign up on my Suckers Trilogy website. You can actually read a preview of my first book when you click on the preview button to the top left of my page. Nifty widget, if I may say so myself.

Another fun thing that happened this week was my meeting with two brand new actors, Calum and Katy, for our shoot on the 18th of June with AFP in Belmont Film House. It was so nice meeting them and going through the script. It wasn’t my script this time, but another AFP member’s one. Couldn’t have written it better myself though. It’s going to be such fun.

I must admit I haven’t been sending a lot of memes this week. Too busy. I still found some great ones that could have been applied to certain situations 😀 .

PS: I’ve been tweeking my website look again. I hope you like it 🙂

Book Review: The Demon of Devilgate Drive, by Colin Garrow

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‘The Demon of Devilgate Drive’ is another great story by Colin Garrow. It’s my third book I’ve read by this wonderful author. This time, the protagonist is a boy, Jeff, who, together with his pal Suzi, goes looking for a school pal named Jimmy. Jimmy is often ‘missing’ from school, but this time it’s different. Jeff and Suzi seem to stay ahead of police investigations and stumble upon a dead body. But is he really dead? Did Jeff hear the dead man talk? More than one ‘mysterious’ occurrence happen to Jeff and Suzi, but together they face all kinds of danger.

I love the way Garrow describes his characters. They are so endearing. Like with ‘The Hounds of Hellerby Hall: Volume 1 (The Christie McKinnon Adventures)‘ and ‘Death on a Dirty Afternoon: Volume 1 (The Terry Bell Mysteries),’ you can immerse yourself into the story without a problem. This time, you’ll be transported back to the seventies, when children played outside until dark and nobody had a phone on them. As is Garrow’s calling card, the people in the story speak with accents which helps you with your travel to a different location. When you time travel, you may as well go some place nice 🙂 .

Even though the protagonists are children, this doesn’t by any means mean this is light reading. Your children will be biting their blankets while you read to them with a spooky voice about the things that are lurking in the dark!

Check out The Demon of Devilgate Drive

Friday Fun Day!

I hope your Friday has been as lovely as mine has been so far. It is extremely sunny here in Scotland and I was asked for a coffee by two separate neighbors 🙂 . I first caught up with Suzie, whom I haven’t seen in a while, and then with Murdo, whom I haven’t seen in even a longer while. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun. It was good to catch up and I particularly enjoyed Murdo’s garden as it is in full bloom at the moment.

I’m on a high now, but I haven’t been every day last week. As I had people around me on Saturday when we visited Granite City Comic Con and on Monday and Tuesday when I took my kids to a UK Mathematics Trust event, I crashed on Wednesday. I don’t do socializing very well. Don’t get me wrong, I love it! But I crash and burn afterward.

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I couldn’t get myself out of bed and couldn’t think of one positive thought.  I did manage to get some editing done and that made me feel a bit better about myself. I went to the gym yesterday and the fact that the dumbells didn’t feel as heavy as the time before made me feel better again. Long live exercise 😀 . Some people say you should be able to write anything on a blog, but I disagree. Who would want to know what I grumpy cow I can be? So sorry for not blogging earlier this week.

Tomorrow we’re having a structural engineer visiting. Hopefully, he’ll be able to give us advice on how to get our drive and garage happening. At the moment it’s a weed area that becomes swampy when it rains. The beech hedge flanking it on the high side of the slope is protected, but the wall it was resting on has disintegrated. On the other side, the ground slopes away to a row of trees. We need enough space to be able to turn the cars around, so it’s going to be interesting how he’s going to solve it.

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Still working on my edit. Slowly but surely I will come to the end. I am learning a tremendous amount again. So many words are different in American English. I’m glad I’m getting the hang of tenses now.  I still need to write that next grammar article for OneStopFiction.com, but I’m not sure about what. Anybody got any ideas?

I’m afraid not all the memes this week are as positive as last week, but as they’re memes they’re still funny 😀 . I love the pink unicorn. It was to celebrate my friend finding out how to make memes!