18 August 2013

Bye bye, Rosie

It's ring in the changes time. The Bump became Tiny Boy, who promptly killed off any plans to finish off the book and send it out. I've decided to kill off the whole thing and kick the book under the bed, at least until I start getting at least eight straight hours of sleep a night again.

The pen name is no more as well. My first few writing conferences made me realise quite how ridiculous it was to have one at this stage and how I preferred to use my own name with people I was meeting face to face. I'm taking the opportunity to jettison it and continue this blog with something which is more obviously a screen name rather than the strange dual personality Rosie Lane was becoming.

Right now I feel wonderfully free.

15 June 2012

Things I learned at Loch Melfort

1. Small boys exert a strange magnetic field . If you took one to the north pole, he would find another small boy to play with.

2. It's kind of cute when your restaurant waiter tells you that the other small boy is his brother and asks if yours will be out to play again later.

3. The sight of children running down a path to the beach can render adults in the dining room misty eyed.

4. Highland cattle are rather appealing.

5. Comfy hotel beds render your child's chances of sleeping in his own bed again minimal to say the least.

6. Local produce also renders your chances of feeding your child supermarket sausages without complaint even more minimal.

7. A tidal rock pool can be the source of hours of fascination.

8. Southern small boys find the thought of a land without KFC bizarre and horrifying.

9. When planning for hours of exploration, allow for the fact that the Highlands are steep, and that sheep need fences.

10. When planning a trip to a fish farm for book research purposes, just look out of the window. One may be closer than you think.

11. It is an unwritten law of the universe that if you are in a hotel somewhere with no light pollution and there is a telescope in the living room, the nights will be cloudy.

12. When you pack to go home, expect to find every pair of clean underpants your son brought, unworn.

Loch Melfort: lovely place and friendly people who were completely charming to writers with galloping morning sickness and small sons in tow. The Boy is desperate to go back again.

29 April 2012

Things I learned at Eastercon


Crawling out of my pit of morning sickness to post, pretty much just to let the world know that I'm still alive. Morning sickness: Best. Diet. Ever.

Coming up to Eastercon I was just mildly nauseous, so I thought, let's do this. It's all booked and paid for, you've been looking forward to it for months, and there's no way you can stiff your room mate, Mhairie Simpson, for the whole hotel bill, so pack a big bag of tummy-settling snacks and let's go.

It worked until day 3, when everything went up a gear and I became intimately acquainted with the lovely bathroom in my hotel room and spent much of the last two days in bed. This was disappointing, since I missed my chance of a ringside seat to the big kerfuffle.

Still, after two weeks of wishing for death, the words finally seem to be stringing together okay and this morning's Rice Krispies are staying put, so hopefully I'm on the downward slope now.

So, things I learned at Eastercon (which aren't to do with pregnancy and vomiting, because these things are only of interest to the poor fool suffering them):

1.  Remember who the guests of honour are. People are friendly and may ask you questions. It isn't meant as a test, but...

2.  You are possibly the only person in the hotel not to have seen Game of Thrones. When this means that you assume the giant replica Iron Throne in pride of place is a random piece of hotel sculpture, it might look like you just arrived from Mars. Resist the urge to produce your battered copy of Fevre Dream by GRR Martin. The damage is already done.

3.  There is nothing jumpier than a person on a budget staying in an expensive hotel for the first time on a special cheap convention rate, where straying from the path could bankrupt you.

4.  Just because the room service menu is in your room, does not mean you are going to be charged £17.50 for breakfast each day. Breathe.

5.  Fancy hotels may prearrange a credit limit on your bill in case you want to put extras on it. This does not mean that you are going to be charged an extra £200, only that you can put an extra £200 of services on your room bill if you want. Breathe.

6.  The minibar is one of those optional services, not a ravening beast which will creep out of the cupboard and maul your credit card while you sleep.

7.  It doesn't matter how much your husband irritates you. In a hotel room on your own, you will miss him.

8.  Ditto your children, although you're still happy that they aren't in the room with the minibar beast. It makes it easier to close your eyes in the dark. Except you think you just heard it whisper something in there.

9.  You realise that if you were a stick of rock, it would say 'daylight consultant' all the way through, because you wish you had your laser tape and computer with you so that you could calculate the Average Daylight Factor of your hotel room.

10. At a science fiction convention, you will not be alone in your stick of rockness. There will be other stick of rock people with scientific disciplines running all the way through.

11.  It's hard to stay cool when a Klingon walks in the bar.

12.  You are never short of a t-shirt to read.

13.  Attending a sci-fi panel on getting to Mars can give you at least three dystopian book scenarios in the first fifteen minutes.

14.  People might want to check for pregnant women before they ask hypothetical questions of the room, such as whether they would be willing to offer their children for body modification to allow them to colonise Mars. Specifically, they might want to check for pregnant women with sharp, pointy objects within reach. Seriously, it's like a doctor tapping below your knee with a little hammer; your hands will slam over your belly and you will start scanning the room for people who might have been brave enough to put their hands up. (I know I promised, but come on, one preggy point out of fourteen isn't bad.)

This was my second convention, and despite having to stay teetotal and a few chats with the big white telephone, it was a ton of fun. I now have to decide whether to try to get to Fantasycon in September despite the fact that I'll be dodging harpoons by then, or to cancel it on the basis that a woman going into labour in one of the panels might be more excitement than anybody wants.

21 March 2012

A Boy's visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour


The Boy was incredibly lucky last week; his school had the opportunity to go to a preview of the Harry Potter Experience at the Leavesden Studios. Our (very) small claim to fame is living within walking distance of the studios. Sadly, they are excellent neighbours and I have never seen or heard anything interesting from the outside.

When The Boy told me about his day, pretty much every other word he used was 'awesome'. So, over to you, Boy:

  • We saw  the trolley from the train, and you could eat the sweets, They had snakes to eat that moved in my mouth!
  • There were chocolate cauldrons with caramel goo inside them that you could drink, and wands that dropped bits of licorish out of the end. They tasted delicious.
  • We went into Fred and George's shop. There were actually fireworks! We saw Peruvian instant darkness powder that makes black smoke go everywhere. My friend went home covered in it. 
  • The electric shock hand worked! 
  • We met the actors that played Fred and George and they were really funny. They were jokers just like in the films.
  • There was a cinema and we thought it was going to be boring but then the wall turned out to be the screen. After the film the screen went up and there were two huge doors. Everybody gasped and didn't move. Behind the doors was the great hall, with no roof. Apparently they only used candles in the first film because they kept falling on the children's food!
  • In the tunnel I swear there was magic going on there, because there were lights on the walls and they moved around. You felt like you were walking upside down!
  • We went into a huge room with 15 golden snitches to find. Finding the snitches was a lot of fun. They were... Stop! You can't tell people where to find the golden snitches!
  • We saw Hagrid's Hut, Professor Dumbledore's office, the night bus, the Griffindor common room, the Slytherin common room, the dormitories for all the houses, the floor network and the Ministry for Magic.
  • We got to drink butterbeer! It was really nice.
  • There were wands that shot a bright light out of the end. I really, really wanted one to take home.
  • There was lots of other stuff but the absolute best thing of all was wearing the quidditch robes and riding the broomsticks! You got to see yourself  on a screen. It was awesome! 
  • I still wish our head teacher had let us get autographs from Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Ralph Fiennes. She had a load of paper and she wouldn't give it to us.

So, overall, good day out?

One of the best days of my entire life. I would recommend it to every single person in the world, and that includes people on Mars.

Thank you, Boy. The Harry Potter studio tour officially gets the nine-year-old's seal of approval. In fact, he wants me to take him again when it opens so that he can show it all to me. I think I might have to. I want to ride on a broomstick too.

15 February 2012

An exercise in the procurement of a child passport:




1. Take child to be photographed. Obtain passport renewal form. Fill in form and append previous passport and two photographs. Give it to husband to take to friend who is deemed official enough to countersign form and photographs declaring that child exists and is not part of terrorist plot. Countersignatory makes mistake in her part of the form. Application rejected.

2. Get new form. Fill in new form, including countersignatory's part so this time all she has to do is sign it. Give it to husband to take to countersignatory. On return, notice that passport and photographs are now missing from envelope and part of her signature is outside the box. Form now invalid as it refers to enclosed passport.

3. Get new form, plus form to declare a lost passport. Fill in both forms. Append two more photographs. Give them to husband to take to countersignatory. On return, notice that form is signed but photographs aren't.

4. Send husband back with photographs to get them signed. Signature is in blue ink. Application rejected.

5. Head explodes.



Duration of exercise: 2 months.


Outcomes:

1. Brain matter everywhere

2. No significant progress in long term goal of reduction in pathological need to maintain excessive levels of control in all things.

3. Still no child passport.

10 February 2012

Time to recognise the enemy within and conquer it

I'm rather embarrassed that it took me this long to work it out. I have a little bit of obsessive -compulsive disorder in me to go with the inner control freak that I accepted and embraced a long time ago. I can't tell you how much more I could have gotten done with my time if I'd realised this earlier.

It shows at work in the form of insanely complicated computer models which are far more extensive and detailed than needed. Not necessarily a bad thing, except I spend about three times as long on a job as anybody else. Still, they haven't fired me yet, so I'm going to call that a win.

Online, it shows as a determination to read all the tweets.

Like many newbie writers, I read the blog posts which tell you that you have to have an online presence; start now before you even have something to sell. You get infected with this sense of urgency, because you might be doing it wrong. It's all: Platform! Blog! Tweet! Do it now! And so the plan, devised on a computer with tick boxes and printed out and glued into a diary (because I'm that kind of scary person) includes Join Twitter. Develop an online web presence.

And there the compulsion sinks its claws in, because whenever I'm on the computer, it's nagging me that I haven't read all the tweets yet. It is a task uncompleted. I cannot tick the box and move on. I need to tick a completed box before I can move on. Seriously.

Now I'm not talking about all 200 million tweets per day, or whatever it is now, because I'm just a little bit nuts, not completely off my trolley. Just the tweets from the 270 some people that I follow. But even so, by definition it never ends. It's why I had to quit Farmville and Treasure Madness and make my facebook feed a game free zone. It's why I gave away my Playstation when gaming became more important than food or sleep.  I find I seldom tweet myself, because I'm too busy reading all the tweets. And worse, still, they're not even fun tweets, because most of my feed is from follow backs. I am paralysed into inactivity by a giant wave of I am a writer, buy my book tweets, which I don't even enjoy reading, because the compulsion to read all the tweets is there. I can't tick the box and move on. I need to tick the box.

But this morning, I feel... I don't know, awake. Objective. Looking at my twitter feed, I've noticed that one person tweets exactly every half hour to ask a random question, like 'what's the last colour you painted your toenails?' When I check their page, these questions never result in interaction, never turn into a discussion. So what's their purpose?

I like using twitter to engage with people about their lives. I want to know about the thing their kids did that made them laugh, about their new puppy, about the joke their friend told them. Really, truly, I don't want to hear about the review of someone's book that I haven't read and don't plan to. Not any more. I guess I could buy every single book promoted by every single person that followed me as a means of building their list of followers, but I'd end up in one of those smart white coats with wraparound arms.

I'm not going to quit twitter, because I like following authors whose books I've loved, and I like talking to people like Hagelrat, Mhairie Simpson and Margie McNulty, people who are happy to chat, but I think I'm going to cut right back on the other stuff. People have every right to promote their stuff on twitter, but it isn't for me.

The same as this blog is just a diary that people can read if they want rather than a writer's promotional tool filled with platform building content, my twitter needs to be social and not driven by the great god, Platform. It's the only way to stay sane and enjoy writing enough to want to carry on.

I'll never read all the tweets, but now I know the task ahead of me. I beat Farmville. I beat Treasure Madness. I can beat this. And to that end, this is what it looks like where I live this morning:





Pretty, huh? No doubt my son will be taking his sledge out when he gets home from school. Are your kids having fun in the snow? I really would like to know.

24 January 2012

Their day will come

They may be beautiful, but I firmly believe some of these flowers are waiting for the day they will grow up and become triffids.


Life of flowers (Жизнь цветов) from VOROBYOFF PRODUCTION on Vimeo.


One day, when we least expect it, they will strike, and when that happens?

The guy sure looks like plant food to me