Thursday, May 26, 2005


I am off on my hols tomorrow --the Isle of Lewis with one night either side in the Highlands. Fingers crossed we get to Culloden battlefield (it has been promised you see)

The ducklings are nearly ready to fledge. Their yellow bibs have on white and the soft grey down has turned chocolate brown. They can stay in the pen until we get back (the Animal aunts will have to cope) and then we will clip their wings and they can go into the garden.

I had a lovely lunch with Kate Walker, Anne McAllister and Anna Lucia. We spoke about books and everyone was very nice about me climbing walls vis a vis the gladiator book. It is a question of how long is a piece of string. And it is all still to play for. But their words of calm reassurance were such that I feel much calmer about the whole process.

Now all I have to do is find the bug spray and my hiking boots.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A string vest synopsis

I have dragged my old syjnopsis for TSD out, and immediately wish I hadn't. it was supposed to serve as an aide-memoire but I immediately thought what was I thinking? I should have put more in.
As far as sketches go, this is pencil light, the merest hint of a story. The sum total of the middle bit is -- he saves some people in a storm. Huh? Why did not I not write more? Why did I not write a full tow page outline to give me something to go on (generally too much ast this stage) but something concrete.
I can tell by reading the first three chapters,I had a lot more ideas. Luckily I will be able to pick up on those, but it does annoy me when I thought I had been clever and mapped out the book to find it moth eaten and currently string vest like.
So now I shall have to take the time and rewrite this. Then write the rest. I normally write my first version of the synopsis at about the end of chapter 3. It gives me something to go on. I know the characters then. I know where their motivations are heading. I know the basic outline. It is time well spent in general because the actual writing goes much quicker. Once it is done, a copy sits on my desk, becoming increasingly stained with coffee rings, tea splodges and cryptic notations. Even down to circling phrases and writing ch 7/8. It may not work for most people but it does work for me.
However, I thought maybe I had done the work last summer but no way. I shall have to put my thinking cap on again and come up with a few better twists.
Luckily the Donald Maas Breakout Workbook has a few exercises for developing plot twists, turns and layers.
This can be a good book. I can feel that in my bones. I would like to make it be the best it can be.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

One of the things I hate most about being a mother:

In particular being vomitted on by a sick child.

I end up feeling totally helpless (not to mention covered in slime and goo). The child in question is always upset and there is a massive clean operation involved.

There -- so now you know how I spent yesterday evening.

Child in question appears to be better but is under strict orders not to move anywhere without a sick bowl. Child is nearly ten and should be able to follow instructions. Child in question does not hold record for most times of vomitting on mother in a day. That is held by eldest when he was about eighteen months and had a bad earache. The record -- four times within a two hour time span.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Off the fence

For a number of reasons, I have decided to work on the other Roman romance again. I reread it and it is good in places. I supsect that if I work hard, I can get it finished before the RNA conference. The story has been rattling around in my brain for nearly a year after all.
When I reread the story, Sylvanna's motivation became much clearer. So that is good.
It also give s me a chance to use my hard won knowledge about Rome in 75 -55BCE. It is a time period I fimd really interesting as Rome was reaching the end of the Republic and struggling with the increased demands of how do you govern an Empire.
The character of Pompey fascinates me. I don't think Ceasar could have done what he did IF Pompey had not ignored the rules first. It was Pompey after he routed the pirates in 45 days who conquered most of the east where he was hailed as a living god. Coming back to Rome and returning to being a n ordinary senator must have been difficult for him. One wonders how much world history would have changed if Julia (Caesar's daughter and Pompey's most beloved wife) had not died in childbirth while Ceasar was out in Gaul.
Anyway, starting this again is a lovely excuse to get out my books on the period and dip into them again.
There is much to like about the period and I don't think its full potential has been exploited at all...
THEN, after I finish it, I will finish RS.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Two-timing manuscripts

I have a problem. It goes like this. Back in July/August 2004, I started another Roman manuscript. But I got to a certain point and abandoned it. Left it on the side of the road while I did other things. Promised it that one day I would return but not until I had heard back on the gladiator mss.
Now having revised the gladiator mss, I find it whispering to me.
At the moment, I am writing my saga. I like my saga. I know where I am going with my saga. I am fast approaching the rape. When in doubt -- put in a rape. Actually it makes sense to have it there. I know the consequences of the rape and what indeed happens afterward. If I had not done the revisions on Gh, I would be quite content to keep working on it. An agent has said to query her when it is finished. All good reasons to keep working.
But then I am getting pictures in my mind about the Tribune one. In particular, the black moment when Sylvia is sure all hope is lost and Octavian comes to the rescue. It is insidious. I suppose I ought to get that one done some more and flip back to Rose when my muse decides to go on strike again.
The other alternative is spending more and more time on the Internet...My muse can be so huffy. Thus I will reread TS and then maybe it will spur her in to some sort of action. One way or the other...

In duckling news: they are getting bigger. We have decided that it was not crows who were picking off the ducklings but a female sparrow hawk. She has taken to circling the garden, on the off chance. The ducks however are safe in their pen. There has been no more mishaps. And they no look like miniature fluffy ducks. In the next week or so, they should start getting their feathers in. Then once the primary wing feathers are in, they will have one side shortened. It is a bit like cutting finger nails. This way, they are not able to fly because they are unbalanced.
Two days ago, I went into the bee hives. Always a slightly nerve wracking experience. The smaller hive seems to be building nicely but there was some drone brood. This can be a sign of impending swarms but there appears to be lots of space in the hive with little or no honey congestion. I moved the one completely empty frame to the edge of the brood nest. The queen will not lay on the other side of honey. They appear to be starting to fill the first super.So I put a second super on, just in case. The supers are half the size of brood boxes and they sit on top of a queen excluder and are the frames that get filled with honey.
The larger colony is going great guns. They have completely filled a second super but have not sealed it yet. Unsealed honey can ferment and cause a horrid taste if taken off. It is better to wait until it is sealed. They have started to work the third super, so I put a fourth on. The question now becomes when do we take the first super off? The danger is that if they have been filling the supers with oilseed rape, after a few weeks it crystallizes and is very difficult (almost impossible) to get out. Although in past years, they seem to have concentrated more on the blossom. Equally if the weather goes bad, the bees are more likely to eat the honey. Okay I know it is their stores but we take some off, they won't starve...It is such a large colony and there is so much honey, that I am afraid I was rather bad and did not do a proper inspection of the brood nest. Basically given the amount being laid down in the supers, I don't think there is honey congestion, and if they decide to make queen cells, there is little I can do to prevent them swarming. Been there, tried and failed badly.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

regency as a galaxy far far away

I have just finished reading a Stephanie Laurens -- one of her Cynstar series. These are supposidly set during the Regency period, but are more akin to a fantasy than actual history. Yes, it is a romp and details such as the dress, and the furnishings are accurate. But some of the social mannerisms pulled me out.
Even though the heroine is unconventional, would she really go into gaming hells and would people be that polite to her? Or would she find herself in hot water much more quickly? How much did people really waltz? Would people not notice if other people disappeared for hours on end and then reemerged dishevelled? Or if one man suddenly appeared on the edges of a ball?Wouldn't someone notice? Would a single woman's family not know that she had attended several disreputable places, particularly in a ton where tongues wag? Does it really matter if the story sweeps you along? Do I want to analyse the story?
I know about Regency England and found myself quibbling about the risks that were taken, but it was enjoyable way to pass a few hours and to serve as a patlette clearing exercise once I had decided to forego any pretence that this might be how Regency London was really like and simply enjoyed the bodice ripping nature of the story. I like have always liked these sorts of historicals as well as the more serious sort..
Having read other books of hers, she obviously knows what her target audience wants and provides that. Good for her. Her writing style can be a bit jarring, but then that is me. She does a very good sensual scene. her heroes tend to be rakes with a heart of gold who only need a firm but fiesty woman to tame them. For a few hours traffic on the stage -- it is very pleasant and readable.
Yes to a certan extent it is Disneyland history but equally she does not make any great claims for it being otherwise. What history she does show is with a light touch, a flavouring. She does show the double standards of the time quite well.
This sort of book does touch on the problem of what sort of historical ficiton should one be writing? Sort that could have happened given that time's morales or the sort that simply uses the historical backdrop as a setting and really exists in a world all of its own? Or should we not question and simply enjoy the pleasure her books bring?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ducks, manuscripts and goals

The ducklings are growing. We still have six. They are eating pellets, grain and whatever grubs the compost we put in the pen turns up. I also feed them with greenery. The grown up ducks seem to adjusted to life in the pen. But they do set up a racket if they are fed later than they they think they should. Fingers firmly crossed that these ducklings survive. Now I beginning to wonder which are ducks and which are drakes. I suppose I shall have to wait until their feathers come in and I can tell by their curly tail feathers.

I checked on my manuscript, fully expecting it not to have arrived or at least not to be posted on the Royal Mail site. It was received yesterday before 9:32 am. Wow, that was quick. Now it will take a fewdays to be logged in etc. There is nothing more I can do about it. At some point, I suspect I shall hear one way or the other. But I know I did my best and tried to do what the editor asked for. So I am hoping that I have done enough for them to still see the potential.

I have restarted back to work on my saga. Now, I would like to have it finished by my youngest's birthday. Then I will write/complete my next Roman one as no matter what happens I would like to submit something else.

I saw in the Telegraph today that they are excavating the Chester amphitheatre. Apparently they have discovered the fast food stalls along with the souvenir stands -- lots of broken Samian ware. Samian ware is the reddish glazed pottery from Gaul. Depending on the time, it was made in different places in Gaul. It was aspirational but relatively cheap. some people like to think that they only every had a red glaze, but archeology in London showed green glaze pottery shards from the time that Boudicca burnt it down. In many ways that fire was an archaeologists dream. Many things lie in that particular layer of soot -- spice seeds, pottery and beads to name but a few.
As the revised mss details some of the souvenirs and hoopla surrounding gladiators, I have decided to take it as a god omen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Pictures from my garden

My youngest decided totake pictures of the garden on Sunday and here are some of the results:

The sunken garden Posted by Hello
It used to be known as the rose garden but we have many more plants than simply roses now.

The bee garden Posted by Hello

You can see the largest hive. When we first moved here, this part of the garden was completely overgrown. We discovered the path way under a mass of dirt and brambles. The bees seem to enjoy the different flowers.

The long border Posted by Hello

It is sometimes known as the peony walk. In a few weeks, it should be a mss of redpoenies. At the moment the tulips are still in bloom. The alliums are about to bloom. And the magnolia is just coming to the end of its blooming period. When we first moved here, this was mainly peonies, goldenrod and phlox. Nothing else. It now provides much more interest. The cherry tree was one of the first things we planted -- a moving gift. The magnolia was a birthday gift to my husband from me the second year we were here.

Wild garlic in bloom Posted by Hello

You can see into the dene and see the wild garlic in bloom. It does not make particularly good honey but does make good soup.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Going a few rounds with the pros

My mother has sent me an essay by James Salter sbout the former head of the University of Iowa's Writing Workshop, Frank Conroy first published in the New York Times Book Review. Interestingly for the pre-eminent creative writing programme in the US, the philosophy is not that anyone can learn to write but that writing can not be taught, it can only be practiced.
Kurt Vonnegut said when he was there -- he couldn't teach people to write but like an old golf pro, he could go a round with them and prehaps take a few strokes off their game.
I tend to agree with them. At the most basic level, one must have a need, a drive to put words on paper (or on the computer screen) Between you, your muse and the blank screen, nothing can profitably intervene during that initial getting the story down stage. You must allow your muse free reign. Play the what if game. Get to know your characters. Get arough idea of the plot. It is afterwards that you can use what you have learnt and improve your writing.
The more you know about the craft of writing and I do believe it is a craft, the more you know you can learn. Any craft, whether it is writing or woodworking, requires patience, skill and the willingness to practice. Can anyone teach tennis? I know how to play tennis. I am not very good. If I practiced, I may have been great -- who knows. But I did not possess that internal drive or desire to practice. Neither do I posses the desire to take lessons in tennis. My game will therefore never progress. With writing, it is vastly different. I love writing, reading and all that goes with it. I am better person when I write. It is not a matter of having to practice, forcing myself to be at the computer because I like doing it. It is fun to plot, to wonder what if. I am also not so arrogant to think I know everything about the vast mystery about writing. I plan to spend my whole life learning.
This is where doing a few rounds with old pros comes in. Listening to them speak, reading the books they write about writing as well the prose, holding in your mind and considering things. The novel as an art form does not sit still.
No teacher or workshop leader is ever going to turn you into a best selling novelist, a Nobel prize winner, or a gold medal winning athelete. But they can give you the tools, the inspiration and the where-with-all to dig down deep within yourself and up your game.
I love speaking to old pros and young pros, and people just starting out. Sometimes a new insight can be gained. Sometimes it is simple reassurance that perhaps I am doing something instinctively right. Then instead of stumbling about in the dark, I find the light switch and turn it on.
Go a few rounds with the pros? Yup, you betcha. My writing game still needs a few strokes taking off.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A curate's egg

The Lady Soldier has had its first review. And it was one of those ones where some parts were good and some were bad. The reviewer had antcipated reading it, and enjoyed the narrative and description. She thought these parts were exceptionally well written. But she did not like the dialogue, the heroine or the hero. She felt the heroine became a watering pot towards the end of the book and felt the hero ought to have been able to connect the dots between a woman he met briefly years before and a soldier who happened to resemble the dead woman's brother.
A review is a review is a review.
I do not understand why tears areconsidered a sign of weakness. Maybe it is because I am inclined at certain moments in my life to be teary. But it is a lesson to me. Keep the tears for me and have my characters use other physical attributions. Some people think they make for a weak character. For me, they are a great reliever of stress.
I am sorry that it did not live up to that reviewer's antcipations, but somewhere, some day someone will hopefully find it a good read and an enjoyable romp. It is interesting that despite not striking a chord with her, she did continue to read the book all the way through to the end.
Maybe things will get better.

6 little ducklings

There are still 6. The ducks as a whole seem much more contented not to have the baby bath in there. I do have to keep going out and refilling the water container.

My husband mowed one of the lawns today and so put some fresh grass clipping in. The ducks seemed grateful, rushed over and started to eat them. Ducks enjoy a bit of fresh grass.

We have also been putting in a bucket of compost which they are sifting through for bugs. My only fear with all the ducks penned in is that the garden will not have its usual going over. Ducks are very good at eating slugs and snails. As a general rule of thumb, they do leave the plants alone. Ocassionally though they have a go.

I planted out lettuce and hopefully the scarecrow will keep the maurading hen out of the vegtable patch. ne Marin seems to believe that we plant these things for her own person use. She is not fond of garlic oronions and leaves those alone, but loves green leaves.

My middle one is home from school. I had to go and pick her up. A cough and generally not feeling well. She is now stuck in bed, and despite her pleas, she is not getting up to watch television.

The revisions are happening. I feel more confident about them and keep asking myself -- how I can make things better. How can things be worse or harder to obtain? In other words, how can I increase the stakes in certain places where the stakes hve fallen a little. Once, I would have been tempted to say -- done, that's all but now I am taking my time and looking at the challenge of it. It is all about making the mss stronger. It is not a race. The suggestions have been wonderful so far. I do think it is getting stronger andI do like working on it. Does this mean that it is not ready? Probably. Some times I wonder if I have to be sick of something before it is ready to be sent out. Do I have to feel that I can do nothing more? That this story is totally finished?
In any case, the ruler trick -- to get me to focus on each line seems to help. I am catching a few missing words....Now if I can find the missing emotional tension in ch 10/11 I will be well on my way.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The vulnerability of ducklings

We lost two more ducklings yesterday. One slipped down the side of the baby bath and the other drown. The last was particularly heart-breaking as the body was still warm when I discovered it.
We now have 6 ducklings. The baby bath has been taken out of the enclosure and the hole filled in. You think you are doing the correct thing and the only thing that comes is disaster.
To make matters worse, my youngest's favourite hen,Dinosaur, finally subcumbed to old age and died. I was dealing with that when the littlest duckling became trapped in the baby bath. We buried all three in the garden.
There are many times that I feel hopeless. I should have known. I should have done something.
The one crumb of comfort my husband found in a birdbook was that pochards (a type of ducks) typically hatch broods but only 2 - 4 survive to adult hood.

I suppose this is a good lesson for the children. They know that things don't always survive. Death in the modern age seems to be so far away many times, but now they are dealing with the fact that animals die. Babies are vulnerable. Life is risky.

Fingers crossed we won't lose anymore. I am scared to start giving them names -- in case of losing them. Tips is still hanging on.

We filled in the duck pond with mostly rotted compost from the compost heap. The ducks appear to be delighted to root around and find bugs to eat.

I have just checked on the ducklings, counted 6 and brethed a sigh of relief. Each day, they survive is another victory.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Dealing with crows

We have a crow's nest. Where else but in one of the highest trees in the garden? Silly question, really.
Crows are highly intelligent creatures. They are currently tryingto figure out how to get into the netting and take more defenceless ducklings for a snack (or more likely to find their young)
We can't get up to the nest to destroy it. More's the pity. I have to think about the ducklings before I think about the crows --even if they aretrying to feed their young.
My husband has threatened to get an air gun. But then thought about it. If we get rid of this pair of crows, there are many more in the neighbourhood, waiting to take their place. What would be the point?
So we are stuck with the netting, and me running out to fill up the babybath about every hour on the hour. Hilary, the large white duck, has taken to body surfing in the bath, sending plumes of water everywhere. The water level drops. This causes danger for the smaller ducklings. Yesterday, one was nearly exhausted when it could not get out of the bath.
I also have to feed them treats such as greenary and bread. It is only for three weeks, but the constant checking is driving me insane.

In other news: I had a revision request for my gladiator romance. Rereading the mss has made me realize how much I love this mss and how much I do want to do a great job. Maybe I am wimp, but I tend to think editors don't make a suggestion unless they are pretty sure something needs to be fixed. The whole point is that they want the mss to reach its full potential as much I do. Reading over the mss I can see why the suggestions are being made. But will my fixes make it any better? I have to believe yes.

One funny note: I had used centre-point to describe a certain part of anatomy (I have no idea where I got the word from) -- the remark came back that it sounded like Tottenham Court Road tower. Not exactly the image I was aiming for....

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Ducklings when they were newly hatched Posted by Hello

This is what they looked like when they were newly hatched and the crows had not started using them as snacks.

Ducklings on 6 May 2005

Ducklings on 6 May 2005 Posted by Hello

This what they look like now.

Friday, May 06, 2005

A reader and a review

Kate Allan has sent the press release off to all the major newspapers etc. She had two emails back. One from the Mail on Sunday that said she was way too late in her timing. And the other from The Northern Echo agreeing to review the book. The Northern Echo is based in Darlington and does try to support local North East authors. But it is very good news that The Lady Soldier is going to be reviewed in a newspaper.
The publicist at Hale let Kate and I know that she had received a card from one of the competition winners from The Newcastle Journal Culture magazine's contest. The person was already finding the book a good read. I had not even realized that the books had gone out to the competition winners. As nobody I know has told me that they won TLS, I assume these are all unknown people. Wow. How to feel like a writer.
I sincerely that the person continues to find it a good read all the way through and tells other poeple about the book, maybe lending it, or maybe suggesting they get their own copy (!) Hopefully as well all this publicity will mean that it will be stocked in a few book stores in the North East.
It is all very exciting, and I am sure that the first time is special.

In sadder news: the duckling decimation continues. We have now penned them in to prevent the crows from taking them after losing 2 yesterday morning. We only had enough netting for half of the pen so my husband and sons rigged up boards and rocka to block off the uncovered half. We also stuck old cds in the trees as crows don't like shiny things.
But there was a stampede and one duckling became stuck and got crushed against the rocks. My husband has gone out and bought more netting. Now the entire duck pen is covered in netting and prevents the crows from getting in. The rocks and boards have been removed and the ducks are now free to wander in the pen. Because of the difficulties, all the ducks are in the pen.
We are down to 8 duckings but the littlest one -- Tips (so called for the white tips the duckling proudly sports) still survives.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Author's copies

The doorbell rang today. I thought -- oh no, the post has already been. What could it be in a harpic box? It was my copies of The Lady Soldier. In print. 6 shiny new copies. A profound moment. Now, I am really a writer, a published author. People will read this book who have never met me.
It is so bizarre to see the words Kate and I agonised over in type. I had a quick read through. The book is still close in ways. I had no idea what to expect. Could I read it as a book? As a writer? Detached?
Memories of when we were writing this crowded in. I can so clearly see the early mornings inDecember 2003 when I got early, switched on the computer and retrieved that day's version. I remember this time last year when we were working on the revisions for the agent. The way my arms trembled as I wrote my version of the last scene and then had Kate report that she was trembling as she revised it. The fact both our hearst were in our mouths, I hope means that it will provide some amusement for others. I am well aware that no one is as close to those characters as Kate and I.
I can also clearly recall the disappointments along the way -- the rejections, the having to revise and the awfulness of waiting to hear. Finally, the joy that we were going to be published and now the BOOK in my hands. (I suspect Kate will have to go to the PO and pick it up as it was a sign for package - so she might not get hers until the weekend.)
The whole experience is rather overwhelming.
Does it banish the crows of doubt (and I do so love Julie's phrase!) To a certain extent, but now comes the real test will someone out there love it as much as Kate and I? Will they be moved by it enough to put up a review on Amazon? Will they tell friends? Will it earn out its advance?

Tagged If I could be a....

Julie Cohen tagged me, so I am tagging Kate Hardy, Kate Allan, and Anna Lucia.
How you play: choose five statements to write about and then tag three other bloggers. I doubt I will be as lyrical as Sela or as funny as Julie but here goes:
If I could be a scientist...If I could be a farmer...If I could be a musician...If I could be a doctor...If I could be a painter...If I could be a gardener...If I could be a missionary...If I could be a chef...If I could be an architect...If I could be a linguist...If I could be a psychologist...If I could be a librarian...If I could be an athlete...If I could be a lawyer...If I could be an innkeeper...If I could be a professor...If I could be a writer...If I could be a backup dancer...If I could be a llama-rider...If I could be a bonnie pirate...If I could be a midget stripper...If I could be a proctologist...If I could be a TV-Chat Show host...If I could be an actor...If I could be a judge...If I could be a Jedi...If I could be a mob boss...If I could be a backup singer...If I could be a CEO...If I could be a movie reviewer....

If I could be a mob boss…bada bing, I’d make my muse an offer she couldn’t refuse and my characters will all behave the way I wanted them too instead of demanding a piece of da action or they would sleep with the fishes.

If I could be a psychologist….I would understand the inner turmoil and emotional conflicts of my characters and I could schedule regular appointments. Come on to my couch I would say and they would. Instead of waiting to whispers their secrets in the super market, as I am driving or worse still as I am trying to pay attention to someone else.

If I could be a chef…I could cook up exquisite stories where all the ingredients are in exactly the right proportion. Not too much suspense, a dab of danger, supcon of spice and barrel loads of emotional punch.

If I could be a gardener…I would make sure my plots grew with the minimum of weeds. The varieties known as meandering subplotus, pernacious secondus and otherus ideaus are most rampant. I would have no problem pruning my work into shape and my ideas would always bloom at the correct time.

If I could be a doctor…I could easily heal the gaping wounds in my stories, the missing limbs I didn’t notice until someone pointed them out, and the terminally ill manuscripts….
Okay, so it is some one else's turn to play.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The trouble with Rome in today's market

In the last three days, I have three rejections from agents. Two were personal and the other a form. One agent said that she was very tempted as she loved the period, and thought it well-written BUT she already had too many clients writing in the period and was not prepared to take me on as she wasn't sure about the market. The other agent said that she thought it highly inventive but her gut reaction was that it would be difficult to place.
Agents have to not only love mss but they have to see commercial opportunities. They live and die by commission. It is not worth taking the time and trouble IF they do not see any clear cut market. So it is a matter of waiting for the last agent to reply and then resending it out to the next lot of agents. There is no point on giving up on a well written mss.
It may also be something that has to sit under the bed for awhile until the market opens up again on Rome.It could be over saturated. However, my husband is not letting the crows of doubt gather. He says -- keep sending it out as all it takes is one agent.
Once upon a time, I would have been gutted to get so many rejections, now I just think -- postage. And hopefully one day, they will be sorry to have passed me up.
I read something Julie Elizabeth Leto wrote on e-harl -- Don't write the book of your heart, write a book you can put your heart into. A subtle difference.
The annoying thing is that I thought there might be a market for this sort of book, but I guess not at the moment.
I will keep working on the saga -- something that I am enjoying more and more. It is fun to think -- I am going to have a twist here or there, and can I make this person cry. Or how can i make it worse for that person? How can hubris bring people down? And how can good people hurt each other without meaning to? It is different from a romance as the focus is different.
It is also different from writing the Romano-British mystery, although that taught me a lot about relationships.
So, it is with a deep breath that I go onwards. My eyes ever on the prize. I know my own writing is improving and that is surely something to be proud of.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Michelle Styles Posted by Hello

I am currently wrestling how to get pictures on to this blog. So this is my photo...

Now that I have some idea. I will try to get photos of something much more interesting (ie the ducklings)

Gray days

Today is gray with intermittment rain. It rained so hard at one point, the man hole cover was yet again lifted. this will result in me having to alert the council once again, just when I thought they had fixed the problem. Luckily none of the ducklings were in the stream when the water came flooding through and so they did not get swept away.
Alas though we now 12 ducklings. Neither my husband nor I are sure about where the other two went. Did the black hooded crows get them when they swooping over the garden on Sunday? Was their a rogue rat? What exactly happened? We searched for the bodies but could not find them. The remaining 12 seem to be doing fine, but the smallest one occassionally has to be rescued and helped up the sides of the stream.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Meet the ducks

I suppose I had best introduce the senior duck patrol. Unlike the hens which save Dinosaur lack personality. The ducks ooze personality.
Our first acquisitions were Bill and Hilary. It was about the time of Monica saga and it seemed somehow appropriate. Hill (all white Jemima puddle duck)turned out to be the boss, and Bill (chocolate brown with a white bib and now white head) goes quacking along. Bill turned out to be a duck rather than a drake, thus proving a friend of ours has no idea about sexing ducks.
After we had had had them for about a week, they disappeared. But we still wanted ducks. Thus I was dispatched to the poultry auction and proudly purchased three fawn Indian Runners. I returned in triumph only to discover in my absence, Bill and Hill had returned for pastures unknown. We then had 5 ducks. The Indian Runners were named George, Martha and Abigail, but I kept mixing Abigail and Martha up. One of the female Runners died and then a fox got George who had been a lame duck for awhile.
We then got Clive and the East India Company (Indigo and Sophia). Clive is bottle green with a curly tail and an exceptionally loud quack, He also have the penchant for mating. The surving female Runner took afront of this and he chased her round and round. My husband started calling him --Roger the rapist. Sigh...But now I have the younger two looking at the ducks, and saying nonchantlantly -- oh, it's okay, it's just Clive mating.
A fox got Indigo last summer and so Sophia aka the Good Mother was the one who hatched the ducklings.
They all help ensure that the garden is kept clear of slugs and snails. Their eggs are quite good for baking BUT they are a bit rich for boiled or scrambled.