Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Story in The New Flesh

The New Flesh (which sounds rather like a porno site but is actually a brand new magazine of short dark fiction) have accepted Clones and are featuring it on their website today.

This story is a very short, very odd little piece about... well, um, I'm not really sure what it's about - that's half the fun. :D Suffice it to say it's science fiction, it involves a mad scientist, and it has a twist in the tail.

You can find the story online at The New Flesh and you'll see when you read it why the picture I've used here is so appropriate.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Writers' desks takes a break

In case anyone was wondering, I haven't forgotten about the writers' desks series. I just decided that the summer holidays was a good time to take a break, partly because the writers themselves are on holiday and partly because so many readers are also away, there might be fewer folk to read the posts. Do keep an eye on the site, though, because I hope to run more writers' desks in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eaten alive

Something carniverous with very sharp teeth has taken up residence in our garden. I'd been pottering about out there over the weekend, doing a bit of general tidying now that the first flush of summer is over. And what do I get for my trouble? Eleven separate insect bites, that's what. I'm one giant itch from head to toe, and I've used so much tea tree gel I should probably buy shares in the company. And still the wretched bites itch. It's not good for work, since I keep having to break off to ('scuse me) ::scratch::.

I have no idea whether our Resident Nasty Insect really is a mosquito or not (although I suspect it might be since one of our neighbours has a pond) but I do wish it would leave me alone (::scratch::) and go and bully something its own size, like a rhinoceros or something.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Busy weekend

Dave got back on Friday evening after a whole fortnight away working in South Wales. He was very tired (12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 2 weeks is enough to make anyone tired) so we decided to hang the chores and have some mindless fun over the weekend.

On Saturday we had a shopping trip into town, and then in the afternoon buzzed over to the nature centre on Pershore Road for a stomp round. I sprained my ankle last week so was hobbling round with the aid of a stick, but it was lovely to see all the animals - meerkats, otters, red pandas, a brand-new lynx enclosure etc etc - and enjoy the warm sunshine. Outside the cafe we bumped into some friends so sat down and had a cuppa (or in Dave's case, a large portion of ice cream) with them and chatted until the place was ready to close. Even on summer weekends it shuts at 4 pm which does seem a tad early; I'd been taken with a small furry toy lemur in the shop on the way in, but couldn't buy one as the shop was closed and we were all herded out to the car park by a different gate. Oh well, their loss.

The roads round Edgbaston were very busy - we hadn't realised that the Twenty20 cricket semi-finals and final were taking place at the Warwickshire ground and half the country seemed to have turned out to watch them! We made it back in one piece, though, and had Mexican for tea slumped in front of a couple of films - Igor (which was adorable) and The Iron Man, a typical Marvel plot but entertaining nonetheless.

Yesterday I got on with some much-needed decorating (finishing off fiddly bits in a couple of different rooms) while Dave put up a new light in the utility room, to replace the naked bulb which everyone and his Mum tended to bang their heads on. The result is much neater and much less dangerous!

Friday, August 14, 2009

False alarm

It must have been a temporary glitch. I've just logged in to my dashboard and there all my followed blogs are again. Phew. At least that saves me an afternoon's work trying to track them all down!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blogger eats things again

I'm most irritated to find on logging on to Blogger tonight that my entire list of blogs I'm following has disappeared. Completely. Vanished without trace. Some of them I have listed elsewhere, and it shouldn't be too difficult to track them down again. Others were more of a one-off thing and I'm not sure I know where to start looking for them.

If you know I used to follow your blog and I suddenly seem to have disappeared, please feel free to contact me and let me know your blog address. It'll be saving me a lot of scraping around in the bowels of Blogger trying to find you all individually again!

And... sorry. But Blogger has a strange appetite at times....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brideshead - and friends - revisited

Yesterday I had a lovely trip out to Solihull to meet writer friend Liz, her daughter Gail and her adorable grandson Jamie.

I'd had a rather rough weekend, with Dave away working and ructions with the next-door neighbour over the boundary fence (he's threatening to assume ownership himself...) so I was a bit frazzled to begin with. The weather didn't play ball either, being dark, damp and drizzly most of the day, so even pretty little Solihull didn't look its best.

We had a really nice time, though, chatting about this and that, catching up on news of mutual friends, and watching Jamie toddle about in the rose garden at Malvern Park. All very relaxing, and exactly what I needed after the hassles of the weekend.

Later on I watched the latest film of Brideshead Revisited on Sky Movies. I've read the book and watched and loved the old 1980s series with Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews, so I was intrigued to see how they'd managed with this adaptation. The answer is, not half bad. It lacked the sheer charm of the series, and because it was so much shorter some of the detail was lost. Matthew Goode as Charles was excellent, but I didn't rate Ben Wishaw quite as highly playing Sebastien. He seemed too much of a sullen teenager and lacked the sheer aching sadness of Andrews' performance. And my biggest criticism was that they swept the gay relationship under the carpet, hinting strongly that it was all on Sebastien's part, and that Charles was in love with Julia from the start. I'm not sure that's in keeping with the book - was it watered down for the American market, like so much these days? However, the film was a lot better than I expected, with some excellent performances from the supporting cast and a great period 'feel'. And I was amused to see that once again, Castle Howard stood in as Brideshead. Presumably the producers felt it was so synonymous with Brideshead in peoples' minds that they didn't dare film it anywhere else!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Famous last lines

The BBC website had an intriguing article yesterday on last lines of novels. First lines can be very well known, but it made the point that far fewer people can quote their favourite last lines. Why is this? Do readers simply not reach the end of a novel often enough to quote the last line? Or is it that the ending is a fuller, more rounded experience that leaves you with an overall impression rather than a single quote?

I don't know, but there were some classic endings listed in the article, including George Orwell's 1984, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

My own favourite is from Daphne du Maurier's novel The House on the Strand:

"The telephone went on ringing, and I crossed the room to answer it, but a silly thing happened as I picked up the receiver. I couldn't hold it properly; my fingers and the palm of my hand went numb, and it slipped out of my grasp and crashed to the floor."

Of course, you have to read the rest of the book to appreciate just how clever, and chilling, an ending that is...