Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Christmas

Merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate). I hope you have a great time.

My son made this Christmas version of the Dragon Tree Publishing logo. (The original version is by Helen Bennett of Eco-Geek.)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Blasted car rally

I really hate the annual car rally that comes past my front door. The snarling noise goes on for almost 11 hours and I can't get my car out unless I remembered to park it elsewhere before they start.

 This year was worse.

I left home early to be sure I could get to work at the observatory, got as far as Mirca, and found another section of road blocked for the same damn rally. This meant a detour of well over an hour through the north of the island to get to the Roque de Los Muchachos. I managed to time coming home so that Mirca was open, and parked in the village.

And then some officious oaf insisted that I wasn't allowed past the barrier to walk the 100 yards to my own house.

I couldn't believe it! I phoned my husband to tell him, and he couldn't believe it either. He came out to investigate, and nobody stopped him. So we walked home together, and nobody stopped us, thank goodness.

So I can see three possibilities.

  1. the official changed his mind in 5 minutes without telling me. 
  2. he's incredibly sexist - middle aged woman needs a man to stop her jumping out in front of a rally car or 
  3. he didn't believe I lived where I said I lived until he saw a local man come and meet me. 

Whatever, I could have bloody well done without it.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A new(ish) printer

Yay! I have a printer again. It's second hand, but it works, and I managed to install a driver so it talks to the computer. I can now get on with FINISHING THIS DANG BOOK!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cheeky Raven

I had two groups up at the observatory today. There was a pretty cold wind on the heliport at 10 am, so I cut that part a bit short. But not before one of the ravens turned up to say "Hello."

Well, I'd got some cat biscuits in the car just for him/her, and s/he ate from my hand while people took photos, which was all very nice. Then I laid the box on the car's bonnet to carry on talking. And the raven pecked a hole in it to start helping itself.

Cheeky beggar!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The importance of printouts.

I'm proof-reading. That means that the Spanish version of my children's anthology, "The Seer's Stone" has been laid out ready for printing, and I'm going through it with a fine tooth comb, looking for mistakes.

 Actually, it's the second time through. I found a worrying number of mistakes last time. Mostly (I hasten to add) stuff like extra/missing spaces, and capitalising words which would be capitalised in English, but which shouldn't be in Spanish. But still far more of them then I expected.

So I'm doing it all again. Now, for some reason, human beings catch far more mistakes on paper than a computer screen. So it's quite important that the final checks are done looking at a printout.

So naturally my printer has died. But of course!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Gatwick Bloc Hotel

I booked over the internet, and I had doubts about sleeping in a room without a window. But it was affordable and right in the airport and I didn't have a lot of time for hunting around. It was only for one night so...

Actually, I love it, and so does my son. The d├ęcor's very modern, but it isn't bland or irritating. The room's rather small, but the bed is huge (king sized) and comfy. That doesn't leave a whole lot of floor space, but then I wasn't planning on holding line dancing classes in here.

The telly is also huge. It's a flat screen fixed into the wall at the end of the bed, and you sit or sprawl on the bed to watch it.

The bedside table doubles as the desk. This would be a problem if I were planning to write a whole novel in here. But I'm writing this sitting up in bed anyway.

There's a tablet fixed in the wall by the bed to control the lights and heating/aircon. It also allows you to check out, so you don't have to queue at at reception. Very high tech. Unfortunately it doesn't include an app for a handsome young man in a loin cloth with a feather fan and a jug of mojitos, but perhaps that's in next year's upgrade.

Best of all, the lift goes down to the departures hall. This was handy for dinner because there's a gaziollion shops and eateries down there. It'll also be handy in the morning.

The only problem is that the new season of Dr Who starts in ten minutes, and there's no sofa to hide behind.

One way and another, I think we'll be back.

Night night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I  had a nightmare last night that I went to visit Herstmonceux castle, but lay down for a minute and fell asleep. I woke up in the dark, and realised that while I'd fallen asleep, everyone had left, locking up as they went. So  I yelled for someone to let me out, and got up and started feeling around. Then the ground fell away under my feet (a horrible sensation) and  I grabbed at something to slow my fall.
The door in front of me opened, and there was Martin, my cousin's husband. I'd fallen down the stairs from the attic bedroom in their house where I was staying.

Weird, because as far as I know, that's the first time I've gone sleepwalking in my life.

Once I realised where I was, I found that what I'd grabbed earlier was the big print on the wall. Thank goodness the hook holding it to the wall held: it's heavy with sharp corners and glass. And it wouldn't have done the print any good either. In the process I'd taken the skin off the outside  of my little finger, I think from skidding along the wood-chip wallpaper. I think I've got a big bruise on my bum, but I'd need a full-length mirror to be sure, and it's not like seeing it would make any real difference. My shoulder is a bit sore too, I think from hanging on to the picture, but no worse than when I've slept in a funny position.

I've was very lucky, but  I didn't half feel shaken up, what with the nightmare and the fall.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

And we're off

I fly off in the morning. This time tomorrow, I'll be in England.

I get back on Sunday 24th.

Monday, August 11, 2014


I've managed enough baby steps that now half the stories are in the "Done" folder, along with all the shorter texts, like "About the Artists" and "Acknowledgements". So the book won't be going to the printer's while I'm away, and I'll be astonished if it goes to layout, but it is at least moving.

And now I'm busy dealing with all the little jobs I've been putting off, trying to get as many as possible done before I leave. Things like helping prepare a press release for an upcoming anthology I'm in, and shortening the straps on my sun-dresses and getting posts for scheduled for while I'm away, and paying my accountant.

Monday, August 04, 2014

A Review of "The Seer's Stone"

Janice Clark is an American children's writer, author of "The Hall of Doors" series. She's written a very nice review of "The Seer's Stone" on her blog, Tea With the Black Dragon.

I'm extra chuffed, because I really enjoy her books too.

Sunday, August 03, 2014


Yeah, I slowed right down again. Partly due to that pesky business of earning money.

So I'd better go back to work and get another baby step out of the way.

Monday, July 28, 2014


I'm finally getting on with the final touches to the Spanish version of my children's anthology of stories about La Palma's amzing sky and history. It's as though I've learned to stop being a procrastinator.

Does that make me an anti-crastinator?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Word Crimes

 There's lots I love about this video. But.

Look, I get irritated by careless writing and wilful ignorance. Most writers do. Readers aren't telepathic. If you want to communicate, don't expect your readers to puzzle their way around your bad English; make the effort to write clearly. Especially if you expect lots of readers. Which is more reasonable: one writer making an effort, or 200 readers?

Still and all, I feel that it's careless to lump in people with cerebral palsy, dyslexia or Down's syndrome (a common cause of mouth-breathing) with people who refuse to learn and still expect everyone to listen.

Which doesn't stop me loving Weird Al's big dic-tionary.

Monday, July 21, 2014

"The Spontaneous Guide" UPDATED

One thing I never mentioned about visiting the hot spring: there were three Brits there who don't speak much Spanish. So I wound up translating for them. It was only afterwards that I found that one of them, Steve Simpson, was an artist invited by the Tourist Board to visit and illustrate La Palma as part of #onthedraw. Even then, I wasn't expecting to see myself on Facebook.

I love it! Everybody I know is rolling up - cuddly, bird's nest of red hair, open mouth, waving arms - it's bang on. And one friend was kind enough to say that she likes the rapt attention of my audience. Oh, and that's Steve with the beard.

UPDATE: The drawing is not by Steve Simpson, it's by his host on the island Victor Jaubert.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Paddling in a Hot Spring.

Yay! I finally got to paddle in a hot spring.

It was probably in 1991 when my Spanish got good enough to realise that Fuencaliente means "hot spring". I got quite excited, because I'd always fancied seeing a hot spring, and maybe even a paddle in one.

So I asked around. And I found that there used to be a hot spring, and a whole spa industry around it - and it got buried by the eruption in 1677. So that was that then.

But the island council finally found the spring in 2005, by sinking boreholes down to sea-level in the approximate location, and then working towards the heat source. Of course nobody could do much with a little borehole.

But the human-sized tunnel is open at last, and I finally got to go. And I paddled in one of the pools - well, dipped my toes in anyway.

So that's me happy for today.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Gay shoes

A Russian orthodox priest, Alexander Shumsky, says that the World Cup is a "homosexual abomination” because the players wear gay shoes.
He said: “Wearing pink or blue shoes, [the players] might as well wear women’s panties or a bra.
“The liberal ideology of globalism clearly wants to oppose Christianity with football. I’m sure of it.
“Therefore I am glad that the Russian players have failed and, by the grace of God, no longer participate in this homosexual abomination.”
Obviously this is not sour grapes because the Russian team are out. (They didn't win a single match.) Of course not.

Cue Monty Python:
I chop down trees, I eat my lunch,
I like to press wild flowers,
I put on women’s clothing,
And hang around in bars churches

Presumably, this is what Father Shumsky considers normal dress. Certainly women aren't allowed to wear it.

At this point I started worrying about my own shoes. You see, it's awfully hard to find size 43 women's trainers on La Palma, so all my trainers are men's trainers. Worn by a woman. Does this mean that they're transsexual?

I asked them if they wanted to visit the doctor, but they just stuck their tongues out at me.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Ridiculously pleased

This is from the local pizzeria. (A very good pizzeria, I might add, Il Tonello.) The sign says:
The Lemon Game
Put a coin on top of the lemon without touching it. If it stays on top for 10 seconds, you take all the coins.
As soon as the coin touches the lemon, you have to let it go.
Good luck!
And I did it, first try! It was only about 4.50€ but I was ridiculously pleased about it.
And then I had another 5 goes, and failed every time.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Short Story Competition

Fancy £200 AND having your short story collection published as an ebook and paperback?  Alfie Dog has a competition for:
The story submitted must be between 1000 and 2000 words excluding title and can be in any genre that is normally carried by Alfie Dog Fiction (see site for details). It should not contain any unnecessary profanity or blasphemy. Please note we do not carry erotica or extreme violence.

  • Open to: any writer over the age of 18 writing in the English language
  • Entry fee: Buy 5 stories by different authors from Alfie Dog fiction (you'll have to produce the Paypal transaction reference) I think this is brilliant, because  you get to read the 5 stories.
  • Closing date: midnight UK time on 30th September 2014.

See more at:

Of course, if you're going to enter, you could include me in your five authors ( ). They're only 39p (0.48€) each.

Friday, June 20, 2014

This morning

I didn't feel like getting up early this morning, but I had two groups of tourists at the Roque, so needs must. And the drive up was all sparkly with dew and early sunlight.

I finished work at 1 pm, and went up to the viewpoint right at the top in hopes of meeting my friend Carmelo, the raven for a chat. He wasn't there, but another raven was (I recognise Carmelo his ankle bracelet) so I opened up the little pot of cat food I'd brought.

And the cheeky blighter flew off with the whole thing!

Bit it was worth it for the laugh.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Alfie Dog Fiction

Yay! I have some stories up at Alfie Dog.

This site has over 1,400 stories available to download. And now they have three more.

Love Spell What do you do when your husband's losing interest? You might even be desperate enough to try a love spell from your New Age neighbour. Even though love spells don't always work the way you planned. - See more at: Just 39p!

Thrice Upon a Time Everyone knows that the prince has to rescue his princess from a tower. And of course that means that they'll fall in love and be perfectly compatible until death do us part. Yeah, right. - See more at: Just 39p!

Some Day My Prince Will Go Rapunzel finds life at the top of a tower amazingly boring. She can't wait for Prince Charming to rescue her. But princes are rare and not always charming, or even competent, and witches aren't always what they seem either. What's a princess to do? - See more at: Just 39p! 

You deserve to put your feet up with a story, don't you?

 They also have a competition for writers. You can get details here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The nexus is aglow with bio-feedback. Consciousness consists of frequencies of quantum energy. “Quantum” means a maturing of the psychic. Nothing is impossible.

If you have never experienced this fusion of the creative act, it can be difficult to vibrate.

Humankind has nothing to lose. Reality has always been electrified with dreamweavers whose hearts are baptized in inseparability. We are at a crossroads of nature and delusion.

Only a being of the solar system may discover this explosion of energy. We can no longer afford to live with bondage. Yes, it is possible to disrupt the things that can obliterate us, but not without choice on our side.

Imagine a condensing of what could be. Soon there will be a deepening of self-actualization the likes of which the cosmos has never seen. The paradigm shift of sharing is now happening worldwide.

Who are we? Where on the great path will we be aligned?

This life is nothing short of an awakening evolution of heroic wonder. The goal of meridians is to plant the seeds of rebirth rather than desire. You and I are dreamers of the cosmos.

Throughout history, humans have been interacting with the nexus via frequencies. We are in the midst of an archetypal awakening of healing that will let us access the world itself. Our conversations with other pilgrims have led to a refining of supra-transformative consciousness.

[Those of you who have noticed that this is not my usual style of blog post might like to take a look at this web page. It is in the stochastic quantum reality of the universe that meaningful enlightenment flowers. ]

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Seer's Stone

Yay! The copies of The Seer's Stone have finally arrived! The book is now on sale from the Dragon Tree product page, and from shops in Santa Cruz and Los Cancajos.

Twelve adventures under La Palma’s amazing starry sky.

Take a journey through La Palma’s turbulent past, into its present and out into the exciting future. Chedey will tell you how his world collapsed when the Spanish conquered the Island in 1493, Althay will explain what happened when the volcano erupted, Daida shares her visit from an extraterrestrial and Leyre will take you out into space.

For children aged about 10 – 12. 148 pgs A5. 13 illustrations. 10€

More details of the book here.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

S l o w P r o g r e s s . . .

So at long last my brain's started working again (mostly) and I've found out how to punctuate dialogue in Spanish. Two pages down, 134 to go. [Sigh] At least I'm moving again. Even if I still don't have my books from the printers.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Not going too well

I got very tired and I had to stop everything non-essential for a while. The English version of my new book is taking longer than usual at the printers, because it landed in the middle of a reorganisation. Meanwhile, I'm still working on the translation. And I've just found out that I've been doing it wrong. In Spanish, you punctuate the dialogue in a completely different way. So I'm going to have to go back and do it all again. Take a deep breath and start again...

Friday, January 24, 2014

American Express gift cards : Guest Post by Hank Quense

Want an American Express gift card?  My friend Hank Quense is giving two away, and you won't need an Amex account to use them. This guest post tells you all about it.

Hank Quense

Strange Worlds Online
My Amazon page
My blog site
Self-publishing Guides
I’ve written a series of four books to demystify the self-publishing and book marketing processes.  I’ve spent a year on these Self-publishing Guides and now it’s time to get some book reviews for all four books.  I have a plan to encourage folks to write and post positive reviews for my books.  I’m calling it a Review Blitz and it will involve giveaways.  I’ll be giving away American Express Gift Cards to be awarded via a random drawing.
Here’s the deal.
Step 1) Select one of these books to read and review:
Self-publishing a Book
Marketing Plans for Self-publishing Authors
Manage Your Self-publishing Project
Business Basics for Authors
You can find out more about these books on my Amazon page or on my Strange Worlds Online website.  You can also download a brochure.
Step 2) Send me an email at telling me which book you chose and I’ll send a 100% discount coupon to download the book from Smashwords in the format you wish. (Note: this is a different email address than my usual email address)
Step 3) post your review during the week of 3/1 thru 3/7/14
Step 4) For extra credit (and rewards), write a blog and post it during the week of 3/1 thru 3/7/14.
Step 5) Send me an email at when the review is posted.  If you wrote a blog post, send me a link to the site in addition to the review posting.

Here’s how the drawing will work.
If you write a review and post it on Amazon, you’ll get entered into a contest for a $50 gift card.
If you post the review on Amazon AND Goodreads, you’ll have two entires in the $50 gift card drawing.
If you post a review on Amazon AND write a blog post about the book, you’ll get an entry into a drawing for a $100 gift card.
If you post a review on Amazon AND Goodreads AND write a blog post, you’ll get two entires in the $100 drawing.
CAUTION: posting stuff outside the week of 3/1 thru 3/7/14 will be appreciated but will not qualify you for the drawings.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

An hono(u)rable mention

I've just won an hono(u)rable mention in On The Premises' Mini-Contest #22 for micro-fiction.
I have to admit that the winning entry is much better than mine! But it's a nice start to the year.