Thursday, January 28, 2010

Yippee! I've been nominated for an award

I've been nominated for the BSFA (British Science Fiction Association) award for best non-fiction with “How to Burn a Chicken – Using Astronomy for Worldbuilding” (which appeared in Escape Velocity, vol 1 issue 2)

The list of nominations is at

Of course this is just a nomination. I'm not even on the shortlist. But I'm still grinning.
I just wish I knew who to thank.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I've done it again.

I have a bad habit of biting off more than I can chew. Then I find myself whirling around at warp speed nine, trying to write blogs and e-books, translate, teach, and still be a half-way decent housewife and mother.

Of course this doesn't work, because there are still only 24 hours in a day. I wind up stressed and snappy, and usually unproductive.

Over the years, I've frequently sworn that I'd stop, and do one thing at a time like a normal, sensible person. The catch is that I'm neither normal nor sensible, so that doesn't work either.

Then I tried analysing it. Do I perhaps keep myself terribly busy to avoid facing problems? Nope. Don't think so. I'm stressed, not depressed. Believe me, I've had depression, and I know the difference.

Is it cock-eyed optimism? On some level, am I think that if I really hope and believe, suddenly there'll be 100 hours in a day?

Nope. Or I'd probably believe in The Secret too.

I've finally admitted the obvious. I bite off more than I can chew because I'm greedy. I want the novel and the websites and the e-book and the clean house. I want it all, and I want it now.

And if I don't watch out, I'll give myself indigestion.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Goodbye Bloody Big Hole

We moved into this house seven years ago. The previous house went with the observatory job, so we had to leave there, even though the builders hadn't quite finished this one. So we moved in on new year's day, 2003, with my husband constantly saying, "Don't lean on the banisters, the glue's still wet."

We didn't have any heating either, which wasn't a serious problem here. All the same, it's nice to have the option, and we'd planned to have a fireplace in the corner of the living room. The only catch was that the kits we liked only had models for fitting against a flat wall. So we ordered one, and it took a while, but a year or so later, my clever husband adapted it to fit in the corner where we had the hole going through to the chimney.

This looked better than the hole on it's own, and it was great to have the fire on cold nights, but the hole was still there, clearly visible behind the fireplace. And since we had plenty of other projects to do, it stayed that way until December. Then my husband talked to a friend who's a builder, and worked out how to do it. The top photo is when he'd just put up the guides.

Then he added plank-shaped bricks, to create the shape. This was quite tricky, because they needed cutting to shape, one by one. Since he got flu in the middle, it didn't get finished by Christmas. And what with the flu, recovering from the flu, partying, and projects always taking longer than expected, it was mid January before his friend came and did the rendering. And then we had to wait for it to dry before it got painted. But at last here it is, looking very professional.

I don't think I'm going to miss the hole.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

It gets better!

My story, "The Dodo Dragon" will appear in the anthology "War of the Worlds: Frontlines" by Northern Frights publishing some time this year.

I'm going to try for 100 submissions this year. Four down, 96 to go.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Two of my stories are on the web

What a nice start to the year. "Thrice upon a Time" is at Afterburn SF and "Screamcatcher" is at Untied Shoelaces of the Mind.

Now I'd better get busy and submit a ton more.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

In Spain, the Three Kings bring the kids their presents on the morning of January 6th. And the stinking cold turned into flu at midday on the 5th. It was so bad that I decided that a) I couldn't drive safely, and therefore b) the Kings weren't getting any more help from me. I collapsed into bed with the usual aching joints and head

I wish I'd thought to take my temperature. As I got into bed that night I had a shaking fit. Not shivering, really shaking, like the time I had hypothermia years ago down a pothole. I spent the next day alternately getting up and making myself useful and having naps. And the next day, I managed to stagger to the shops for a missing present and to deliver it.

But by Friday my sore throat had got so bad that I completely lost my voice. I couldn't even croak. I had to write down notes to the family. At least that got me some sympathy, which was good because I started the day feeling as though an imp was rubbing my throat with a freshly cut chili. By evening it felt like a volcano.

This morning it was back to the imp with the chili, and I felt a little brighter. I updated the blog about La Palma, and then I wrote my son a note to get him to phone up and order a takeaway lunch. To my astonishment, I found myself writing an update to i-make-this-stuff-up. Yippee! It's the 9th, and I finally wrote some fiction.

And now, I'm going to send off a submission if it kills me.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Secret Garden

I got this book for Christmas. I read it as a kid, (back in the Jurassic) and enjoyed it, and I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying it again. I know some people get all sniffy about children's books, but I think I good children's book is far, far better than a mediocre adult one. Besides, I've got a stinking cold, and I really needed something lightweight and cheerful.

Part of the fun this time around is that it's brought back Yorkshire so vividly. I grew up in Leeds, but I haven't lived there since. After almost 30 years of talking standard English, suddenly I keep slipping into broad Yorkshire. My poor Spanish husband suddenly has to cope with words like "mither" and "wuthering".

Eh, there's nowt like a graidely book!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

La Gomera

One of my friends is spending a week on Gomera. Since it's only a ferry ride away, I couldn't resist going to see her.

The original plan was to take the 6 am ferry from La Palma to La Gomera, which arrives at about 8 am, and then take the 9pm ferry from Gomera, which would get me home for about 11pm. And then spend most of the next day recovering.

But with the new year changes to the timetable, I couldn't do it in a day. So I caught the 6 am ferry on Saturday, and got to my friend's hotel just as she was eating breakfast. We hired a car and went right around La Gomera (about 80 very wiggly kilometers) stopping off for a walk in the national park, some very bland garbanzas for lunch, and a little shopping.

By the time we got back, it was late afternoon, and we were rather tired. I returned the hire car, and we ate, and then we found a nice bar and had several beers while we talked about life, the universe and everything.

And a youngish man at the next table kept looking at us. Since my friend is younger, slimmer and better looking, I assumed he was interested in her. But no, he was looking at me! Strange, but very nice for my ego. My friend thought it was because I looked so animated. Certainly I always feel a sneaky thrill when I leave my family behind for a bit, rather like bunking off school.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

And a very happy 2010 to both my readers.

I had planned to write a review of 2009, but I haven't done it yet, partly because I'm always busy with family at this time of year, and partly because I have a stinking cold, which really slows me down.

If you've made a bunch of new year's resolutions, I strongly recommend you look at, and think again. It works a lot better to change one thing at a time. If that seems too defeatist and slow, consider this: If you make the same 20 resolutions every year for ten years and fail each time, you've fixed 0 problems. This is what most people do. If you make 1 resolution every year for ten years and succeed each time, you've fixed 10 problems. And Leo recommends fixing one thing in January, one in March, one in May, and so on. That adds up to 60 problems fixed in 10 years.


And Leo has a lot of other good advice, too.

Early tomorrow morning, I'm off on a mini-break to La Gomera, to see a friend. So I should have something to write about when I get back.