It’s now Monday, 12 March 2018, and I’m live to answer your questions. You can ask me anything!
Go to my AMA session site to type your question 🙂
It’s now Monday, 12 March 2018, and I’m live to answer your questions. You can ask me anything!
Go to my AMA session site to type your question 🙂
I’ll be trying to focus our Writers’ Club writing exercises on grammatical issues for the foreseeing future and this week we focussed on alliteration. I thought alliteration was the repetition of the first letter of a word as the first letter of the next word. You know, Peter Parker, I saw a see-saw sitting on a see-saw, dead as a door-nail. That kind of thing. How wrong was I? (This last sentence is an Australian form of rhetoric and isn’t a question at all. But more on rhetorics next week).
It appears, according to my oh so trusted Wikipedia, that an alliteration is a special form of consonance, in which a consonant sound is repeated in another word. This consonant can be anywhere in the word. Alliteration is a special kind of consonance, in which the consonant is in the stressed syllable. So, it doesn’t have to be the first letter at all. Learned something again. Not that I used this knowledge when I wrote my short story…
It’s a fact that alliteration makes a text more pleasant to read and easier to remember. You can do it too much though, and this is called a paroemion. My short story (look; another alliteration 🙂 ), Darlene’s Delectable Dishes, certainly is a paroemion. Check it out!
I’m still going strong after twenty-one days! I lost weight, and I eat a lot better. I’m still struggling. I do. There are moments when I get incredibly hungry. I have cravings too. But I don’t give in. During these moments of temptation, I keep visualizing the body I want to have; lean and healthy. That keeps me going. It doesn’t mean I never eat when I’m hungry. What I do is, I eat a healthy snack like almonds and sunflower seeds (I must admit the latter are the cardboard version of all seeds).
This week, I’ve also begun a new yoga sequence. I had wanted to do this on Sunday, but I forgot, so I tried them out this morning. They are hard! My biggest problem is the Downward-Facing Dog (see the image for the pose. It always reminds me of Chuck from the Angry Birds movie 🙂 ). See, I have a hallux limitus. Hallux means toe and limitus refers to the range of motion. In other words; I can’t bend my big toe. It’s not the same as hallux rigidus, in which there is arthritis and the joint is painful. It’s only painful if I’ve been trying to bend it further than it can, like walking on high heels. It sucks (metaphorically, of course).
This wouldn’t be a problem if I could put my foot flat on the floor like in the image, but I also suffer from extremely short tendons. This means my ankles suffer the most from this problem. Walking uphill, in particular, is a struggle, causing cramps in my calf muscles as they are overstretched. You see my problem with this pose?
Enough whining. Here are my results for this week.
Not too much difference, apart from the near absence of shade on my belly. I do realize I should have worn the same bra in W0, oops. I also realize now that I may be holding my breath in the W3 shot (my boobs are higher). Next week, I’ll make sure I don’t.
From the side, there isn’t much difference to W2 at first glance. Have a look again at the images below and note the areas the arrows are pointing at.
The ‘apex’ of my belly has come down and is less pronounced, and the saggy bottom bit has disappeared! I’m most happy with that last item as I thought it was ugly. I hoped it was just my pants not sitting tight, but no, it really was my butt. But it’s gone now and I’m doing a happy dance 🙂 .
I stepped on the scales this morning (btw, did you realize that’s why I have a snake’s skin in my header?) and my weight was 76.2 kg (12 stone). I’m afraid I can’t do the comparison with my belt as I’m wearing pants sitting lower on my hips, giving a false reading.
My biggest struggle this week was deciding whether I want to go the keto diet route or the paleo diet route. Both have their attractions, both have their problems for me.
Going the keto diet way means no carbs. Not any. I can’t do that. They are reduced in my diet, big time, but to go without completely is impossible for me. I have a family to feed and they do want their rice and potatoes and pasta and wraps and don’t have time to prepare two separate meals types every day. I have had a look at the snacks and basically see triple bypass options, with hors d’oevres dripping with cheese and fatty meats. So that’s not going to happen.
Regarding the Paleo diet, I like the idea. Going back to your roots. But eating legumes is completely against the keto diet. They clash in that respect. Also, it means a lot of foods that my kids don’t like. I tried for my daughter to eat blueberries. Didn’t work. Not even when I put sugar on them. She just doesn’t like any berries, hot or cold (and no onions, no peppers, no egg, and my son doesn’t eat cheese or fish. They don’t leave me many options).
This means I have to go with the flow. I do my thing for breakfast and lunch, but dinners are a compromise.
Here are some of the things I’ve been eating this week:
Next weekend, we’re celebrating my father-in-law’s eightiest birthday, big party. Dieting will be hard, so wish me luck!
This morning, I came across a blog about crows and ravens in fantasy, written by Nicola on her Thoughts on Fantasy blog. It an interesting text that informs you of the black birds’ characteristics, their appearance in symbolism and mythology, as well as their occurrence in fables, poems, and literature. She also talks about the roles ravens have in fantasy stories. Check it out at Crows and Ravens in Fantasy.
When I lived in Australia with friends of my mother, an elderly couple, the man used to go outside with a tray of raw minced meat every afternoon. One day, I asked him what he was doing with it. He told me to join him. We sat on a bench in his front garden, and two Australian magpies came up to him. He fed them the minced meat. He told me that every day, the birds would come and wait for him to feed them the minced meat. You can imagine how perplexed I was, about the fact the birds ate minced meat, the fact that they knew what time the man would come out every day, and, of course, the fact that the man fed them the meat.
In the hamlet where I currently reside, live a clamor of rooks. I could’ve said a parliament of rooks, or a building of rooks, the other collective nouns for the noisy, black birds (see this webpage for more collective nouns for birds), but they really do make a clamor. They live on the other side of the hamlet and I hope they stay there. I rather prefer hearing the soft chirping of the smaller passerine birds over the noisy rooks.
The sound of corvids I like best is that of the Australian magpie. They’re bigger than the European magpie and have a very typical song. Waking up in the Australian bush and hearing this (incredibly intelligent) bird warble is magical!
This week’s story didn’t have any keywords. During our meeting last week, we discussed how we can improve our sentences. We used the article titled ‘How to write better sentences’ by Daniel David Wallace. You can’t find the article online, though. I’m afraid you’ll have to sign up to get it here. I can assure you it’s worth it as it has very interesting information. Check it out and see how it can help improve your sentence structure.
Anyway, one of the topics in the article is about verb sentences vs. noun sentences. It stresses to use strong verbs to improve action in your sentences. So we set our homework to write a story about mermaids using verb sentences. It’s called ‘Rescue‘ and can be found in the short story section of the menu. It’s a typical mermaid story, nothing special, no unexpected twists or anything, but has a lot of verbs in it. Enjoy!
I decided on many New Year resolutions for 2018. Weight loss is one of them. Have I tried this before? Yes. Many, many times. I’ve done the lemon and maple syrup diet and the Cambridge diet. I tried boot camp (twice), swimming, boxercize, fencing, Zumba, Jazzercize, hitting the gym. You name it, I’ve tried it.
Did it work? Yes, most of them. Until mother nature decided that losing weight was not what she had in mind for me and threw a spanner in the works. I got shin splints, calcified tendons, torn tendons, and even a diagnosis of being ‘exercise intolerant’ (i.e. slightly asthmatic). I’ve tried going to the gym multiple times, but after a month I just get bored with it. Likewise with the diets. After three months of starving myself, I’m just dying for a snack and go overboard.
Do I really need to lose weight? Yes, I do. My BMI (body mass index) is 32, so just into the obese range. I nearly faint due to lack of oxygen when tying my shoelaces, and my clothes are screaming at me to buy a bigger size. Most of all, I didn’t look good in any dress I wanted to wear over Christmas, so something had to be done!
This time, I’m going to do it differently. I’m doing yoga, to warm up my body for some exercise in the future, probably karate (as half of my family is doing it). Not only is yoga good for your body, but looking at Finlay Wilson’s nicely shaped body is also good for the mind 🙂 (don’t worry, the book was a Christmas present from my husband, so he’s okay with the eye candy).
I’m not doing a particular diet nor counting calories nor measuring amounts of food. I’m just going to eat less. Cutting out a lot of carbs in particular. This means not eating the potatoes/rice/noodles that go with our dinners and not having any biscuits with my tea in the afternoon. It also means I can’t have sandwiches for breakfast or lunch and have to be more creative. Variety is the spice of life, n’est-ce pas?
Every week I’ll embarrass myself and show you photos so you can see the difference. I’ll show you the first photos taken and then what I look like that week. You won’t be going ‘oh wow!’ if I show you the photos from the previous week (except for this week of course) as I’m expecting my weight loss to be a slow process. My GP once said to me, ‘It didn’t get there overnight, so don’t expect it to come off overnight.’ Wise words. So here are my results for Week 1.
I’m (still) 1.58m tall (5’2″), and at the beginning of the year, I weighted exactly 80kg (12.6 stone). I’ve never been this heavy in my life! This morning, I weighed… (drumroll): 77kg (12.1 stone)! I only began my diet last week, so I must have lost some weight in the first week of January. We were home again from our overeating expedition in Holland (visiting the family), so my diet was a lot healthier when I got back although not optimal.
Note the lesser amount of shadow on my belly. I’m trying to ‘keep my stomach in’ about the same on all the photos, so I’m not cheating. I’ll try in the future to keep my hands on my hips so you can see the ‘saddlebag’ I’ve got on my right hip. I suppose everybody is, but I hate being asymmetrical.
As you can see in the W0 photo (when you take a loupe 🙂 ), I have an indent mid-belly that is almost gone in the W1 photo. Woohoo! My belly is still sticking out way beyond my boobs, so we have a long way to go still, but we’re working on it.
Did I notice losing the weight? Yes, I did. I was able to move up to the next hole of my belt, going from a waistline of 88cm (34.6inch) to 85.5cm (33.7inch). Also, my pants are feeling slightly loser around my belly.
As mentioned, I cut out a lot of carbs from my diet. No potatoes, rice or noodles. Did I cheat? Yes, I did. I had a small handful of french fries with my dinner one day, and I did have some licorice lollies when I had a sore throat. I managed to stay away from any biscuits with my tea, though. I didn’t cut sugar out as I can’t drink my coffee without it, but that’s the only added form of sugar I’ve head. Oh, and no desserts of course. I once had some yoghurt with raspberries, but that’s it.
Here are some images of the breakfast and lunches I’ve had this week.
My breakfast for the last two days has been a berry smoothie: yoghurt, milk, rolled oats, raspberries, and blueberries. Very nice. I don’t measure or weigh anything, I just add them so I have about 250ml (8.8oz) in total. I try to fill my stomach with an amount of about the size of my fist (usually slightly more for dinner). One of the lunches with sushimi (love that stuff!) has a dollop of garlic and herb sauce on it (the light version). I’m not going fat-free. You need fats to be able to absorb certain vitamins (A, D, E, K), so I eat fat, but in the amount of a teaspoon per meal.
Have I been hungry? Yes, I have. But as my Mom always says, ‘when your tummy rumbles, it doesn’t mean you have to put something in it every time.’
Are you on a weight loss journey? Why not do it together? Let me know how you’re going and we can help each other staying strong!
I thought it might be a fun idea to introduce you to some other authors. Once a week I will pick out an author for you and direct you to their page.
This week, I felt the twang of nostalgia when I read Gregg Savage’s guest post on The Story Reading Ape’s blog. He tells his tale of how he became a writer after telling his (step)daughter Ruby a story every night. My mind was taken back to when I was prompted by my children to write. It is funny how life can take you in directions you never thought were possible 🙂
Click on the link below to read his journey to become an author.
You can find Gregg’s website full of children’s stories here.
A few weeks ago I met Colin Garrow at the foot of Bennachie (the iconic ‘hill’ of Aberdeenshire). Temperatures were freezing, but we had a pleasant walk and a hot coffee afterwards. We thought it would be a fun idea to interview each other and that’s what we did. You can find my answers to Colin’s questions on his web page. Here are Collin’s answers to my questions.
You’ve mentioned in interviews that you wrote stories when you were young. Can you remember the very first story that you wrote? If yes, what was it about?
The first one I can remember writing was intended to be a novel. It was inspired by ‘2112’ (an album by Canadian rock band, Rush), and was a sort of sci-fi/caveman-type epic. By the time I got to the fourth page, I’d run out of ideas.
Instead of studying literature, like most people think writers do, you went to drama school. What part of drama school influenced your writing the most?
The course I did was more about community drama than acting, so we learned lots of things about running workshops, working with community groups and creative arts, as well as putting on a few plays. Working with other actors helped me to see what worked on stage and what didn’t, and the different styles of theatre (Brechtian, naturalistic, physical etc) all influenced what I went on to write, though it’s more difficult to say how that happened. Basically, my writing suddenly improved, so I can only attribute it to what I learned on the course.
You have written a number of books for children. Did you tell your child/children your own bedtime stories or did you stick to the published ones at the time?
I wouldn’t want to pressurise my son to read my work, though he has read a few chapters from a couple of my books. So, no, when we went through the story-at-bedtime bit, I stuck to books we liked, progressing from the likes of, ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’, to ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks.’
In the Christie McKinnon stories, your protagonist is female. Why did you choose to write these stories from a female point of view?
The first two children’s novels I wrote had boys as the hero (though both had female sidekicks), so when I started on ‘The Hounds of Hellerby Hall’ I deliberately chose a girl (with a boy for a sidekick). It was also interesting to think about how she would react to the situations she found herself in and how she was influenced by her surroundings – changing attitudes to women etc. Nevertheless, she turned into more of a tomboy than I wanted her to be.
A lot of your stories are set in the past. This requires a lot more research (i.e. time) for writers. What exactly attracts you to write about ‘the olden days’?
Well, research is a matter of opinion – of course it’s possible to do masses of research, but I didn’t want my books to be packed with historical facts, throwing in historically-accurate descriptions just for the hell of it. I wanted just enough detail to give a sense of authenticity. With the ‘Maps of Time’ series, I read a couple of books, the best of which was, ‘Restoration London: Everyday Life in the 1660s’ by Lisa Pickard, as it has loads of info about food, money, jobs and housing. However, I think it’s easy to get bogged down in facts and I didn’t want to bore my readers, so unless I need specific information, I tend to just make it up!
As to why I write historical fiction – I think it’s that I’ve always had a fascination with the past and how amazing it would be to go back and see what it was like. So I created worlds I hoped would come over as realistic.
Most of your stories are ‘whodunnits.’ Did you ever solve a mystery yourself?
Sadly no. Actually, I’m not at all perceptive and things that’d be really obvious to anyone else tend to go over my head. The only time I can solve mysteries is if when I invent them. (Although, to be fair, since I never know how they’re going to end, I still have to solve them – does that count?)
Besides a number of novels, you have also written a number of short stories and flash fiction. Do you prefer one above another and why?
Short stories are a great way of exploring an idea, so they’re useful exercises if I want to try different writing styles, or genres. I also like them because they force the writer to be concise, throwing away longer passages that might work well if it were a novel, but interrupt the flow in a short story.
I think generally I prefer novels, since they give me something substantial to work on, whereas if a short story isn’t working, I put it aside. At the moment, I’ve got about a dozen stories I’ve started but haven’t yet found interesting enough to finish.
Where/when/how do you get your inspiration for your stories?
In the past, I’ve tried writing exercises as a way of ‘discovering’ something to write about, but now I have a very specific way of working – I come up with a title and use that as inspiration. The first Christie McKinnon book was inspired by Joan Aiken’s ‘The Wolves of Willoughby Chase’, though it was specifically the title that inspired me, because I liked the alliteration and wanted a title of my own that sounded similar, hence ‘The Hounds of Hellerby Hall’. Once I had the title, I wrote the book to discover what had happened at the Hall and why there were hounds involved.
With ‘Death on a Dirty Afternoon’ it was slightly different, because I also had a first line. In my book on writing, I’d come up with examples of first lines to show how they might be developed. One of them became the first line of the novel, so I had the title and the first line to inspire me. Other than that, it’s just a matter of writing until I get to the end.
Is there a particular issue you prefer not to write about and, if so, why?
Not sure. I probably wouldn’t write, say, a political thriller, because I don’t know enough about politics to write intelligently on the subject. However, I think it’s important for writers to grow, so I wouldn’t rule anything out.
If one of your books was chosen to put into a movie, which one would you choose and why?
It would have to be ‘The Architect’s Apprentice’, just because it would be brilliant to see the streets and houses recreated.
What is the ‘most unknown book’ you’ve read that influenced you as a person (not necessarily as a writer)?
I couldn’t tell you the title, since it’s long since vanished into the rubbish tip of my mind, but it was a book I read dozens of times as a kid. It was about a little boy whose dad is missing in Africa, so the boy builds an aeroplane out of bits of junk and flies to Africa to rescue him. It was a lovely book and I still think about it today.
What was the best advice regarding writing you ever received?
It has to be Stephen King’s words of wisdom on the two things you have to do to be a writer:
You can find all of Colin’s books here.
Check out my Writers’ Corner update 12/10/2016!
I know I said no posts for a while due to my attempt to getting my book ready for the fair, but I can’t help myself, too many interesting articles. 🙂
For example the article about what makes a leader, or the one about what it’s like to have Borderline Personality Disorder. Very interesting articles for characters in your next book.
In my Focus on Filming there is an interesting article which claims that Guardians of the Galaxy is the deadliest film of all times.
And according in my Health Herald magazine I sure hope I don’t get breast cancer after I turn 75 in the UK.
I was having a shower this morning and had this wonderful idea. I often get inspiration in the shower, not sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s just me, the sound of water and my music. No, I don’t have a waterproof radio, I just put my phone really loud on the benchtop next to the shower. Sometimes I sing along, but I get my inspiration when I’m quiet.
The idea was that I would love to see a digitalized version of ‘An American Werewolf in London.’ That would be awesome! This is a movie from 1981, so before the digital era. The graphics were amazing back then, but so much more could be done now. The movie is funny, but also has suspense, horror, romance and action. All the stuff I love in one movie! It would be a dream come true.
Just for your information, I took the following from Wikipdia:
At the 54th Academy Awards, An American Werewolf in London won the first-ever awarded Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. During the 1982 Saturn Awards, the film won for Best Horror Film and Best Make-up and nominated for Best Actress and Best Writing.
The American Film Institute nominated it for ranking on its 100 Laughs list. An Empire magazine poll of critics and readers named An American Werewolf in London as the 107th greatest film of all time in September 2008.
So, if any Twitterers in the film biz read this, please make it happen. And please put my name in the credits for the idea, would love to see my name in the credits…