Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another paragraph accepted

Paragraph Planet have accepted my latest submission, a 75-word tale about a bicycle ride with an unexpected (and muddy!) outcome. This is another story which really, genuinely happened when I was about ten or eleven and might make you smile.

You can read the story free for one day only (at least until it appears on the archive page) tomorrow, Sunday 19th September, by following the link above.

Friday, September 17, 2010

New gay horror anthology

I keep forgetting to mention that QueeredFiction have a new collection of stories out, this time with a horror theme. The book is called Blood Fruit, contains stories by eleven new and established authors, and as with all their titles is available in both electronic and print formats.

I don't have a story in this one (couldn't get anything finished in time to submit) but if the standard of writing is anything like as high as their recent sf anthology Queer Dimensions, then it's well worth splashing out on a copy. Just follow the link above to QF's website and you'll see the book in the scroll-box in the centre of the page.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Do you forget when to stick the little blighters in and when not to? Then look no further than this snappy little number on YouTube, which is to-the-point and just repetitive enough to help you remember the rules.

Some of the images on the accompanying video are worrying, though. Especially the ones from printed newspapers. I won't go off into 'what's the world coming to' type grumbles but it does make you wonder how much use an education system is if so many people get it so wrong so much of the time...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Oooh, shiny

A few weeks back I noticed that my trusty old laptop was getting distinctly slow. I've had it for the best part of six years and it's been everywhere with me on my travels, helping me to write and stay in touch. But it didn't have a huge store of memory and the little it did have was obviously clogged.

Dave kindly offered to do a rebuild of the hard disk, to clear out any accumulated rubbish and start from scratch. The other weekend we had some spare time, so I copied any vital files and then handed it over for surgery. "I'm trashing the hard disk... NOW," Dave announced.

Thirty seconds later he added, "Um, you do have the registration number for the XP install disk, don't you?"

You can guess what happened next...

Between us we'd rendered the laptop useless. It wouldn't load XP without that wretched registration number, and it's too old to take anything more up to date. I can use Linux but my favourite word processor, WordPerfect, won't run under Linux and nor will one or two other well-loved programs. So, there was nothing else for it. We bundled into the car, drove to a huge local Tesco which has an excellent technology department, and I proceeded to buy myself a brand new laptop.

This cost less than half the original one, with about six times as much memory, a larger keyboard, an HD-standard screen, and Windows 7 preloaded. It's easier to type on, faster, sleeker, has vastly more storage and a better selection of games for when I'm bored. I wouldn't recommend trashing an old laptop to get hold of a new one, but in this case I think I've done rather well...

Sunday, September 05, 2010


Yesterday for a laugh we went to the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery to catch their T-Rex exhibition, something we've been meaning to do for weeks. We only just made it, because today is the very last day. They weren't quite stacking chairs and sweeping the floor, but it was a close run thing.

And heaps of fun. It cost £5 each to get in (most of the exhibitions are free) but there was a lot to see including several life-size animatronic models of dinosaurs - three T-Rex, an Ankylosaurus and a very dead Triceratops. Unlike most dinosaur exhibitions, which simply concentrate on the history, this one was asking a very specific question: was T-Rex a predator or a scavenger? There were a whole series of displays pointing out the differences between the two forms, both in dinosaur times and in the modern animal kingdom. Differences that included predators being fast and agile, and having strong front legs/claws to hold onto prey - none of which apply to the lumbering T-Rex with its silly little front limbs.

By the end of the exhibition we'd come to the conclusion these huge beasts were probably scavengers, and even posted our vote in the voting booth at the end. But talking about it over lunch we realised that the whole exhibition had been subtly leading us to that conclusion ('Are you sure T-rex was a predator? Are you still sure?') and that reality might well have been fuzzier. No matter, it was a fun morning out.

We also popped our heads into a different gallery to see part of the famous Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire Hoard, discovered a couple of years ago, which apparently puts even the Sutton Hoo treasure into the shade. I have yet to be convinced about that (having seen some of the Sutton Hoo artefacts in the British Museum - they are utterly stunning), but the Staffs Hoard is certainly vast, and fascinating. Almost all the pieces are military, with none of the drinking vessels and jewellery you'd expect from, say, a massive royal grave, and yet they're exquisitely made with microscopic gold filigree and finely cut garnet inlay. Which begs the obvious question - what on earth was this hoard, and why were the individual pieces scrunched up before it was buried? I expect the arguments will rage for years.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Reading positions

The Guardian's book blog had an amusing article yesterday on the positions people choose to read, especially if they're reading in bed.

The blog's author seemed to think that lying on one's side is the most common position for reading in bed, and it's certainly the one I find most comfortable. If I lie on my back my arms get tired holding the book aloft; if I roll onto my stomach I end up with neck-ache and sore elbows. Oddly, though, I always lie on my right side, never my left. This makes no sense because I'm right-handed, so lying on my left side would free up my right hand/arm for turning the pages. But I don't, and don't think I ever could.

At least I'm not like one writer friend who doesn't read in bed at all, but in the bath. I'd love to know how she stops the pages getting soggy!

How do you read in bed? Book or e-reader? Sitting or lying? And do you ever fall asleep with the book in your hand?