Thursday, 31 March 2011

And the winner is....

First of all I'd like to say thank you to all my followers for being so supportive and being such wonderful people. You rock! Also a big thank you to everyone who entered my Counting to 200 competition and giveaway.


Today I have my 200th follower on Google Friend Connect in addition to my Networked Blog followers, so I'm now well and truly over the 200 mark.

I've taken a list of all the cool people who entered for the draw, and used to select the winner.

And the winner is...

Robyn Campbell of Putting Pen To Paper

Please visit her excellent blog and say hello to her. There you will find much of writerly interest to delight you. Congratulations Robyn.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Harry Potter Blogfest - Who are your mates?

The fabulous Michael, over at In Time, is hosting this fun Harry Potter blogfest. In his words:

It's quite simple. All you have to do is choose which two characters would be YOUR best mates at Hogwarts. You can use any student characters from any book.

My best friends at Hogwarts are definitely Fred and George Weasley. In fact, since they left Hogwarts we've become good friends. We have so much in common, you see. I left school in pretty much the same way they did, and I was always in trouble at school, wilfully flouting the rules for the sake of a bit of fun. Since we've been friends, of course, we've been pretty much out of control. It's because we encourage each other down that path, and the outcome is always the same. Trouble.

I never have any money these days, as I spend it all on fun tricks and jokes, but I'm happy, and with Fred and George I have many happy hours making muggles fall in a lake, or fixing their saucepans to the cooker. Laugh! Really, you should try it.

Please do check out the other entries over at In Time. There's a list of links to the other entries there.

I'm planning to visit all the other entries in the blogfest, but it may take me a couple of days to get to everyone, as life is particularly hectic at the moment, so if I haven't visited yours yet, then I'm on my way.

Don't forget, it's not too late to enter my Counting To 200 giveaway. Just make sure you're following my blog and leave a comment on the Counting To 200 post.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Book Blurb Friday

Book Blurb Friday is the idea of the fabulous Lisa Ricard Claro over at Writing In The Buff. In Lisa's words:

A "blurb" is the story summary on the back of a book (usually 150 words or less) written to entice you to read the book. Think of your visits to a bookstore or library. A book's front cover may catch your eye, but if the blurb doesn't interest you the book goes back on the shelf; if it resonates with you, you bring the book home.

The goal of this meme is to:

Write a book jacket blurb (150 words or less) so enticing that potential readers would feel compelled to buy the book.

So, here's my entry for this week's Book Blurb:


Dina is in a prison she doesn't understand. She isn't sure whether it is a physical one, or in her mind, but it seems real enough. She's been confined in this dimly lit corridor for days now. She can hit the walls with her fist but they don't move, scream but no one comes. She can tug at the door handles but they don't open. Food and water appears only when she sleeps.

To make matters worse the only view she has out of this prison is a window in one of the doors. She can see through it into a room she doesn't recognise, but there's no sign anyone can see her from the other side.

When her lover is dragged into the room at gunpoint, beaten unconscious and left tied to a chair, she knows she has little time to escape if she is to save him.

Please do visit the other entries in the Book Blurb Friday. There is a linky list showing who they all are at Writing In The Buff

Saturday, 19 March 2011

2nd Crusade Challenge - The Goldfish Bowl Teetered...

The second Crusade Challenge has now been announced by the fabulous Rachael Harrie over at Rach Writes. What she says is:

Write a flash fiction story (in any format) in 100 words or less, excluding the title. Begin the story with the words, “The goldfish bowl teetered” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional, and not part of the judging criteria), see if you can write the story in your own genre (eg if you’re a horror writer, write a horror story; a romance writer, a romance story, etc).

So, without further ado, here's my entry. I believe it counts in at 99 words:

The goldfish bowl teetered at the edge of the vortex. Five intense people watched.

“Let it go.” Said Jerry. “Who cares?”

Alice replied “No, Jerry! The water will collapse the vortex. It's our last chance to reach our friends.”

“Forget the vortex, what about the fish!” Hilary glared.

“If it goes in,” said Adam, “the glass will shatter and burst out on the other side. We may never get our friends back, but we don't want to kill them.”

Taylor interrupted them. “So, we're agreed. We have to stop it going in.”

Please do check out the other entries. There's a linky over at Rach Writes

Friday, 18 March 2011

Quote of the week - Eating is optional

"Nobody will send the bailiffs round just because I don't buy food"

I'm not telling you who said this, but I will tell you about her.

She is a close friend of ours who was invalided from the army after receiving terrible injuries in Desert Storm. She was a seargeant with a distinguished career - up to then. That was a long time ago, but she is still living out the reality of what happened every day. Abandoned by the army, her injuries, both physical and mental, make her un-employable.

She is a good person. She is one of the most generous spirited people I have ever met, and she is tireless in supporting charities that raise money for needy people. She hates owing money, and does everything in her power to pay her way, losing sleep over any debt she incurs.

She has a tiny pension from the army and that is topped up by pitifully inadequate social security. Every time she eats she has to figure out how she will pay for it, and much of the time she simply doesn't eat, because there's not enough money to pay for food, and she'd rather pay her bills. She is in debt, with no hope of paying it off. The debt was incurred paying for necessities, not for luxuries such as food.

The British Government is doing a great job of cutting back on spending. They are doing this, they say, to cut the national debt - legacy of the previous spendthrift government.

Laudable, and we all support fiscal caution, but billions are being spent on the 2012 Olympics, and millions of pounds of public money are being spent a year on ex-prime minister Blair so that he can live it up in his luxury role as... what is it he does? The government has a wine cellar that would be the envy of any connoisseur, and they are still spending a small fortune keeping it stocked. The government is spending our hard-earned money hand over fist everywhere you look.

In their wisdom our Government have reduced the social security paymets to my friend, and by doing so they have reduced her from poverty to extreme poverty. She has gone from woefully inadequate income to less.

What makes all this harder to watch is that she is normally so upbeat about it. Sometimes she gets depressed, sometimes angry, sometimes afraid, but most of the time she's cheerful - as she was when she said to me

"Nobody will send the bailiffs round just because I don't buy food"

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Counting to 200 - competition and giveaway

It seems only a moment ago I was celebrating having 50 followers, and now I'm well on my way towards the 200 mark! To celebrate that and to say thanks to all my followers I'm having a competition and give-away.

The Prize

When I reach 200 followers I'll be giving away two shiny new paperback books (Worldwide shipping included).

The first is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This delightful book is an excellent read, and I didn't want to stop reading when I got to the end.

From the Random House Press website: January 1946: writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

The second book is Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson. This is a humourous and endearing book that everyone will enjoy.

From the Persephone Books website: Miss Pettigrew is about a governess sent by an employment agency to the wrong address, where she encounters a glamorous night-club singer, Miss LaFosse. 'The sheer fun, the light-heartedness' in this wonderful 1938 book 'feels closer to a Fred Astaire film than anything else' comments the Preface-writer Henrietta Twycross-Martin, who found Miss Pettigrew for Persephone Books. The Guardian asked: 'Why has it taken more than half a century for this wonderful flight of humour to be rediscovered?' while the Daily Mail liked the book's message - 'that everyone, no matter how poor or prim or neglected, has a second chance to blossom in the world.' Maureen Lipman wrote in 'Books of the Year' in the Guardian: 'Perhaps the most pleasure has come from Persephone's enchanting reprints, particularly Miss Pettigrew, a fairy story set in 1930s London'; and she herself entertained R4 listeners with her five-part reading. And in The Shops India Knight called Miss Pettigrew 'the sweetest grown-up book in the world'.

How to Enter

Entering for this draw couldn't be simpler:
  • If you're not already following my blog, then add yourself as a follower.

  • Give this competition a shout on your blog, linking back here, and encourage your followers to come and take a look here. If you'd like to give it a shout on Twitter as well, than that would be great

  • Leave a comment on this post, telling me something quirky about yourself.

The winner will be drawn at random from all the entries as soon as I reach 200 followers.

Good luck, and happy blogging. Thank you for being such wonderful people.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Family Science Day at the Norman Lockyer Observatory

If you can make it to this event, then please do come. The Norman Lockyer Observatory is a fascinating place, and the event will be great fun for the whole family.

Family Science Day at the Norman Lockyer Observatory, Saturday 12th March 10.00 am - 4.00 pm
Enjoy planetarium shows, story telling, space-related talks, telescope tours, explore radio & satellite communications and get involved with hands on activities for all the family. An all day event with the theme of “Communication”, part of National Science & Engineering Week (

Cost: Children FREE, Adults £5.00

Contact: David Strange, 01297 680209
Sponsored by the Institute of Physics South West
Refreshments will be available on site and there is plenty of Free Car Parking.
See for maps and more.


Carol Boote (NLO) ~ “Is there Anybody There” at 11.00am
David Whitehouse (BBC Science Correspondent) ~ “The Search for Life in Space” at 2.00 pm

Planetarium Shows - at various times throughout the day

Story Telling in the Planetarium - 2 sessions in the afternoon
Professional storyteller Michael O'Leary will be weaving stories of the Moon and celestial beasts.
Suitable for young and old (and particularly 6-10yr olds) to hear Michael spin tall tales in the atmospheric planetarium under a canopy of stars.

Hands on activities - throughout the day
Have a go at some fun hands-on science experiments with students from Colyton Grammar School and members of the Institute of Physics. Make & Launch your own Rockets and enter our 'Alien' Competition too.

Telescope Tours - throughout the day
The Domes will be open and NLO volunteers will be on hand to explain how we communicate with the Stars and what we can learn from starlight.
If the sun shines there will be demonstrations of a heliograph.

Radio Room - will be manned throughout the day
The NLO Radio Group will be demonstrating Satellite and Radio communications..