Thought of the Day

Normally I would be heading off to grans but today my daughter is taking her little brother so I get a full days editing done.  To that end I am actually preparing this early.  As I write this you have all just had emails about my Twitter Trolls post, having got it off my chest now I feel a little calmer.

So what to write about when I have no travelling to do today.  Well given it is the Olympics it seems a good time to talk about dreams and aspirations.

Each athlete pulling on their national kit has one dream, to win an Olympic Gold, or do they?  For some it is simply the actual act of representing their country at an Olympics that is their dream.  When you think about it it is similar to our dreams as writers.  In our wildest dreams we top the best sellers list, having directors knocking on our doors to beg for the movie rights, but what we would really be happy with is simply seeing our books in print.

Like athletes we invest time and energy into our words, we may not physically run a marathon but I should imagine mentally we do the full twenty six miles plus those few extra pesky yards.  We both need a great deal of self discipline to achieve our dreams, though admittedly they have far more will power on the diet and healthy eating than some writers, myself mainly on that one.

The important thing is accepting that in order to fulfil our dreams whether is be on the track, in the pool or appearing in a bookshop, the power to make it happen lies to a great extent in our own hands.  That some form of talent is needed is true but talent only takes you so far.  The rest of the way in determined by your desire to succeed, you willingness to put in the hours required to perfect your craft, your ability to accept advice and face your failings.  You will not always succeed but it is the drive to pick your self up, dust off your ego and keep trying that will determine your eventual success or failure.

I would rather fail having given all I had than regret not trying.

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Twitter Trolls

An extra post today I have spent a day watching sport with the monster.  His favourite event today…the diving.  The British pair of Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield came fourth the worst place for any athelete to finish.  Daley put his hand up taking responsibility for the one poor dive which may have cost them a medal.  They tried their best, tom made one small error and what happened….this

While Tom Daley makes me proud to be British, trolls like this make me ashamed.  What has this troll done with his life that he thinks he has the right to comment on anyones performance?  Has he spent hours training everyday for years to be deemed worthy of representing his country?

These sportsman are not the ones earning huge wages for a few hours kicking a ball about on a weekend.  The are the ones who wear their team uniforms for pride and deserve our support, win or lose.  The trolls are the people who society could do without, they are the ones whose parents should hang their heads in shame at their offspring.

As you can tell this has wound me up just a little bit.  Trolls are cropping up wherever social media exists, Twitter, Facebook even here on WordPress, yes we should try to ignore them not give them the attention they crave but I would ask everyone who knows a troll or worse still is related to one do the rest of us a favour and knock some sense into them.  Teach them that old saying If you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DVD Review – Cranford (BBC Tv Adaptation)

While the novel sits languishing in my TBR pile the DVD was dusted off and enjoyed an outing.  First broadcast in 2007 the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford Chronicles has a star studded cast led by Dame Judy Dench and Francesca Annis.  The story seem a little bland if one were to consider it logically a village of elderly spinsters and widows going about their way of life for a year.  However, nothing could be further from the truth, Gaskell’s work reflects the careful social nuances of the age, the resistance by those who lived in villages to the technological advances of the time.  The Cranford Chronicles comprised of three novels which were combined to produce the series.

But the reason I love this series is not the reflection on social policy, the effects of industrialisation on rural communities, no it is the humour.  For those who have not seen  it I particularly recommend the scene with the cat and the lace, those who have watched it will no doubt be smiling at the recollection.

Gaskell has a flair for observing the silliness inhherant where ever groups of people co exist in small groups.  Some characters you will laugh at some you laugh with but you will laugh.  That is not to say that she does not explore the darker side of life and death, there are times in the series where you will find tear welling up others where you find your self holding your breath.  If you have not seen this series I highly recommend taking the time to sit back and enjoy a trip back to a simpler time where Gaskell will guide you on a journey through all aspects of village life.

As much as I would love to share my favourite clips I have no idea how to take them from the DVD nd the clips I could find on youtube are limited to episodes so I will share a slightly longer clip than I would have liked which opens the first series and if your appetite is wetted then you can look up the rest of the series on there.

This second clip is part of the behind the scenes extras that come on the end of the DVD for all of you who love classic adaptations it is a must watch.  I love to see how these novels and their characters are brought to life.

I hope you have enjoyed the clips. What has been your favourite adaptation? Do you prefer TV or film adaptations?

Awards Catch Up

Okay first day of Olympics didn’t go too well for team GB but I do have some awards that hae been sat around patiently awaiting my acceptance so lets get to it.

First up from the immensely talented Susan Daniels.  What can I say about Susan her poetry has made me laugh, cry and occasionally do both at once if you haven’t read her please go check out her blog.  Susan has deemed me Inspiring I am always amazed when any of you wonderfully talented people award me this one. Tj also gave me the same award Tj’s Garden is a blog I only found quite recently but I love it, it is informative and even though I am slightly jealous of the weather they are having their has very inspiring posts.

Rules

Thank the person who nominated you

Tell your readers 7 things about you

Nominate 15 other blogs

The final one comes care of LifeOfBun this girl is wonderful she searches out and reviews cruelty free products and proves no animal need suffer for a girl to look good.  She is also incredibly witty and although she apologizes for her english as it is not her first language she does a far better job than some of my friends do at articulating her thoughts. The rules are more or less the same so I shall deal with one lot of facts and nominations for all then those nominated can take their pick which they would like.

So 7 things about me I decided to do something a little different and share a few things that will show you a bit about me rather than just tell you
1)

I have been known to knit and do cross stitch, when my daughter was little I knit her loads of cardies and teddys some of which I still have.

2)

I have a National Trust Membership and passport but it only has one stamp in it so far as I keep going places that they do not own

3)

I love shopping online at the Jane Austen Centre I have a mug, quill, bookmarks and keep looking with every email thinking I want that when I see new stock

4)

My favourite in my bookmark collection – no use whatsoever as it is too heavy and tears pages if you try to use it 😦

5)

I love going to the theatre and have quite diverse tastes as to what I will go see but I have never wanted to watch opera

6)

I love taking the monster on walks with me and the dogs but don’t do it as often as I should because you can guarentee if one plays up they all do so usually daddy gets dragged along for family walks

7)

My favourite flowers are roses but I never buy any for myself. I have a few different ones growing in the garden

Now for nominations, to be honest I am losing track of who I have given what to so as I have 15 pages of blogs I follow and need 15 nominations I am going to pick one at random from each page

1) M.S. Fowle

2) The View Outside

3) Neither Here nor There….

4) JessSloan

5) 50 Year Project

6) beforeiforget

7) lyndamichele

8) T. W. Dittmer

9) Robin Coyle

10) Crazy Train To Tinky Town

11) C.B. Wentworth

12) Shaven Wookiee

13) Spineless Wonders

14) Wine And Roses From Outer Space

15) Nine Writes

Please if you haven’t been nominated remember I love you all equally but I will try to keep better track in future

Weekly Round Up #7

Well it has been a strange week hopes of hitting the deadline are being swept away mainly to be honest by my toddler and his puppy who seem intent on destroying the house and mummys sanity (what little I had to start with).  Strangely I am not as upset by this as I thought I would be, I do still have 6 days if I could persuade him to behave for just a couple of days then maybe I could do it but not holding my breath.

Watched the Olympic opening ceremony last night an amazing spectacle which did us proud, sadly at the minute the cyclists aren’t doing quite so well as I type maybe coming so soon after their magnificent performance in the Tour De France.  I was disappointed not to see Duran Duran last night I misunderstood and thought the link up to Hyde Park was going to work both ways but it seems they got to see the ceremony but we didn’t see the concert I shall be searching youtube in the hope someone posted something.

For those who didn’t make it to the end here are the fireworks

And the only clip I could find for the concert

Okay back to business last weeks tasks…

1) Try to stick to the new schedule I posted yesterday

Yup managed it and so far this week it has worked well a couple of quite serious posts this week so will try to lighten things back up again

2) Keep editing if I can reach end of part two there is still  chance

Not as far through as I hoped to be this time next week you will know if I made the deadline or not

3) Try to fit in some extra reading I just started a new book I really want to get my teeth into

Managed a little but not much the book is really good but not read anything from my kindle this week I tend to read that more when out and about and as I haven’t really been anywhere this week it hasn’t had much use

4) Now monster is at home as nursery has finished work out a writing schedule around him so that I am not always sat writing till the early hours

Failed miserably infact with the heat the monster is refusing to go to bed without a fight so even late night writing has been tough through sheer exhaustion

5) Organise some of my novel research ready for wednesday posts

I have made a start, this weeks post will be continuing on the characters and next week I have one lined up on medieval torture methods including the infamous chappy chopper just for Kyle

So for the week ahead..

1) Keep following schedule by the end of next week I should have a better idea how you are all enjoying it

2) Keep editing – I know if I can find the hours to put in I can do it but it will literally be last minute if I make it

3) If weather stays nice get out and do some writing in notebooks because I have been so busy I have been working on the computer the whole time which expains why no poetry I always seem to write poetry better on paper

4) Watch lots of sport – yup I am a sports junkie when the olympics are on and believe it or not once upon a lifetime ago I was a sporty person and used to do the long jump somewhere my mum has a pic of me competing but I have no idea where sadly

5) Sort out my photos on my hard drive for use here on the blog I can’t even believe how many I have and how many I haven’t posted of places I have visited so before I go off anywhere else I need to sort out wht you have or haven’t seen.

Thoughts On Thursday – Given Pause for Thought

Thoughts on Thursday are about my experiences writing so it may be fitting that the inspiration for today’s post comes from someone I follow and their experience as a reader and actor.  First it might be helpful if you would like to pop over to Andrea’s blog and read her post The Quest for My Own Experience by clicking here.  I shall just twiddle my thumbs while I wait….

Okay your back.

Now you may be wondering why her post hit a nerves.  It is because I realised while I as a person am not, my writing is prejudice.  I do not mean that I write negatively about people with different skin colours just that when it comes to it I don’t write about them at all.

If you read my comment on her post you would have seen my first gut reaction..to defend my self by genre.  Except that doesn’t really work does it I am writing a medieval fantasy loosely based on Anglo Saxon and Arthurian legend but it is not a historical novel in that it adheres to specific time and place.  What I think unnerved me was how easily I omitted anyone other than white characters.

Many times we are told to write what we know, yet we live in a multicultural society  so why write a white only community? I have a chinese aunt and cousin, my other half’s brother is has a mixture of Caribbean and European blood (although the family don’t like admitting to the french part seems it all went downhill once they travelled over the channel).

It would have been easy to sneak away and write in a token black character or two but I would be fooling myself aswell as insulting the reader.  Instead I decided to write this post admitting to myself that as much as I hate to admit it the Colonial genes still have an influence on some level.  I went away and looked through my flash fiction most of which has not mention of how a character looks but knowing that in my head when I wrote them they were all white.  And I am not going to immediately go away and start writing a black character just to prove a point, I hope one day I will write a character that a little girl like Andrea was will read and think I want to play her, and be able to without it mattering about skin colour.

I will now I hope stop and think and broaden my horizons when I consider who and where my characters come from.  I will not write characters to fill a quota but I will stop and think is there any reason why this person is white, would it add to the story if they were not?  I can only hope one day I can write and do justice to more than one tongue and give voice to characters who jump from the page bearing no physical resemblence to me that will grab you and take you on their own journeys.

So what about you?  Is it something you have ever thought about?  Is it something you have addressed?  While it is natural to write what we know does that mean it needs to be exclusive?

WIP Wednesday – Where it all began?

As this is the first real post regarding my WIP I guess it makes sense to discuss where it all began.  Three years ago I found a facebook game I loved and in some ways it would be easy to claim that as the starting point.  But that wouldn’t be quite true.

Screenshot from my KOC account

You see the reason I enjoyed this game so much initially was I already loved the Medieval.  I was a tomboy growing up more at home climbing trees than playing for hours doing dolls hair.  Most times people play knights, and castles the only role for girls is to be the princess waiting to be rescued but then I found her…..

Boudicca!  Now to be fair she lived earlier than the medieval period generally tends to include as she died around 60 AD .

Now history in acedemic terms is not my strong point and I will not insult you my lovely readers by trying to explain in great detail her life story or the politics of the Roman Invasion at the time   For those history buffs out there or those who want to learn a great deal more from better qualified people than I  here is the first part of Battlefield Britain’s take on Boudicca’s Rebellion. http://youtu.be/8hpC44KD3O4  

If you have the time to watch it it really is a fascinating programme sadly embed was disabled so I could only provide the link.  So in simple terms Boudicca was the Queen of the Iceni tribe who led a rebellion against Roman soldiers who wished to enslave her people. The problem here is that many of the stories are as much myth as anything else as history tends to be written by the victors.  No one is actually even sure what she looks like take this composite image I found online

The centre image is from the film Warrior Queen

She was a figure that disappeared from history for many years being made popular again during the reign of Queen Victoria.  Infact it would appear that down the years it is only when a female monarch is in charge that this strong woman is remembered.

She was the isnspiration for my main chararcter Jacantha.  Women were seem as the equal of men at the very least.  They fought alongside them many being considered far more dangerous than the men.  But as in my novel being a female warrio could lead to their sex being used against them if captured,  It is reported that when Boudicca’s daughters were captured they were raped an outrage that only fuelled her hatred for the Roman invaders.

The Roman’s accused the Briton’s of barbarous horrors to justify their slaughter and anyone who questions some of the graphic sexual violence this is a quote from Wikipedia ‘Tacitus says that the Britons had no interest in taking or selling prisoners, only in slaughter by gibbet, fire, or cross. Dio’s account gives more detail; that the noblest women were impaled on spikes and had their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths, “to the accompaniment of sacrifices, banquets, and wanton behaviour” in sacred places, particularly the groves of Andraste.’

This is a clip from the film Warrior Queen for those of a squeamish disposition I should warn it shows sexual violence as well as normal violence and it is a little longer than I would have liked but it also demonstrates as well the belief in magic held at the time.

 

Next week I shall discuss how the cast of other characters formed around my Queen.

 

Tuesday Travels – A Tale of Two Halves of a City

When anyone asks me where I grew up I automatically say Leeds and while that is true lately it seems a different reality.  I grew up on the outskirt of Leeds in a mining village back in the days when they still existed.  The bus journey when I was a teenager from home to the centre of the city took 55 minutes and was only undertaken on a saturday if I was lucky enough to be allowed.  I didn’t take a whole lot of photos today as it was my grans birthday and my brothers fiancee and their two boys were with us but I managed to snap off a few round the city centre as well as a few over where I grew up a few are the same shot with different effects imposed on them.  I would write more but it was so hot today I am shattered but I had a wonderful day so enjoy the pics. ps watch carefully you will catch me and a big thankyou to Tracie Louise as when I got home my card had arrived yay!!!!!!!!!!!

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Book Review – The Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

I bought this book sometime ago but unlike most of  Terry Pratchett purchases it sat unread.  The reason you may ask? Well the truth is this on one of those that although being set in the Discworld is not actually part of the Discworld series.  The Wintersmith is aimed at younger readers an introduction if you will to the series.

I have to admit the satire of the series has been softened slightly in the attempt to make it more accessible to younger readers but not by much I am glad to say.  The fact the heroine of the book is a teenage witch named Tiffany Aching may certainly help in getting younger teenage girls to pick it up but thankfully it features enough of Prachett’s tradmark humour to keep older readers amused as well.

An appearance from two of my favourites characters in the guise of Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax certainly help to tie it in a little more to the main series.  And the Wee Free Neegles are amusing and will appeal to younger male readers.

The plot is basically the entire story so spoiler alert if you don’t want to know go away now…

 

The plot is about the traditions of summer and winter, the dance which takes place between the Wintersmith and the Lady Summertime each year.  Pratchett invents a parellel for the May dance to welcome summer by having a darker version to welcome winter and into this dance our heroine stumbles unaware of the chaos that she is about to bring about.   The wintersmith becomes enamoured with the young witch who interrupts the dance and pursues her in the wish make her his own.

As with all Pratchett Discworld  books the story flies along at a terrific pace with plots, subplots and various intrigues along the way.  Because it is aimed at younger readers they are less complex than in some other books, I would actually recommend the books aimed at this market for new readers to Terry Prachett as a way of easing you in gently.

Okay scores on the doors as a YA novel 5/5 as part of the discworld 4/5 so I guess that give it an average of 4.5/5 I understand the idea of books to introduce younger readers I just think they are more than capable of diving straight in as long as the first book they pick has a character in they would love.

 

Sometimes Sunday – How Long is Dead Long Enough?

I was going to do my awards today but something is on my mind?

I have spent the morning watching Discovery Channel.  Now I am fascinated by ancient history I never questioned the value of excavations of ancient sites in order that we could learn more about how our ancestors lived and died.

But this morning for some reason it is bugging me.  While the people concerned my have no knowledge of their lineage the chances are the people who archeologists pull out of the ground have living ancestors somewhere.  And even if their bloodline died out is it still okay?

If somone went into our local graveyard and started digging up bodies buried twenty years ago we would scream in protest we would be horrified yet when it is done to bodies buried two thousand years ago we are fascinated.  I count myself as guilty in this I just never stopped to questions it before.  In my parents local churchyard they have been moving graves a couple of hundred years old.  Now in part it was a result of subsidence there the ground had dropped as coffins had decomposed.  While this may have created safety issues it would have been easy  fill the holes and replace the headstones yet some either lost their headstones or were reinterred in different parts of the churchyard.

So as the title asks how long does someone need to be dead before we stop respecting them as a person and they become a specimen?

While there is no doubt over the years we have learnt so much about the past not only from actual bodies but also the grave goods buried with them but how much more can we learn.  Even with new technology we reach a point where all new information only confirms what was already known or leads to further speculation.

I cannot say I have a fixed opinion on this at the minute.  Maybe it is time unless there is some pressing reason for investigating a particular body we should stick to excavating the buildings and leave those who have passed before to rest in peace no matter how old their graves.

What do you think?