Love’s Labours Rediscovered

Has reading books slipped down your list of priorities. Here are some ways you can start again. Or even start! There are some suggestions that Deborah Grant-Dudley makes as to why some people say they don’t like reading, and ways to discover books.

Deborah Grant-Dudley

10 ways to fit books into your life again

I often hear people say they don’t have time to read. Another way of looking at this is that they prioritise other things over reading. And of course, much of the time, they need to do that. But we can choose what we do with at least some of our time. And we can change those choices when our lives change. Otherwise, our precious time might not be working for us.

I’ve also heard people say they don’t even like reading. This tells me they haven’t enjoyed the books they’ve read in the past. Does it follow that there aren’t any books out there they would enjoy now? With millions of books available, and multiple ways to read them, that seems unlikely.

With a slight shift in mindset, you can fit books into your life again.

Here are some ways to…

View original post 1,369 more words

Memories of past winters

With this energy price crisis, I thought about when I was growing up. What sparked this was when a woman on the radio complained about her children being cold in their bedrooms when they were getting up in the morning.

Here are some of my recollections.

Nowadays, we all take central heating for granted. And a wonderful thing it is in many ways. Our homes are, or can be, heated to a temperature we are comfortable with in every room. It was not always like this.

Once, when walking past a house that had recently been built, I was told, “That house has central heating.” On enquiring how one could tell, I was told. “It has no chimneys.”

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Chimneys were an essential part of homes at that time (1950s) because the only means of heating was coal. Every room had a fireplace, including bedrooms, although fires were only lit there if someone was ill enough to have to stay in bed. A fire in the living room was commonplace. It heated that room, but others were cold.

Fires need oxygen to burn, and so they drew in air from any gaps, such as under the door, creating a draught; hence the long sausages people put at the bottom of the doors. One thing I do remember is when we had a Baxi fire put in. This was a special grate that pulled air from outside along a tube that opened under the fire. A great invention. The draught could be adjusted so the fire would burn either high or low.

Another disadvantage of having fires was that they need solid fuel. Coal was kept in either a coal bunker or a coal house. These were, of course, outside, and so occasionally someone had to go out to get the coal in. Coal scuttles were filled, of course, but the coal never lasted all evening. And the next day, someone had to go out in the cold to refill it.

Going from one room to another was always a cold experience, and bedrooms were cold. When going to bed at night, it was a rush to get into pyjamas as quickly as possible and under the blankets. Similarly, getting up in the mornings. Talking to friends from that era, they remember, as do I, getting dressed in bed.

I remember, on cold winter mornings, when there had been a frost, there were wonderful pictures on the window. Ferns, flowers, trees, all drawn by Jack Frost in the night. Sometimes the frost was on the INSIDE of the windows! Now we don’t see these pictures. Such a pity as they were beautiful, if transient.

Image by Eirena from Pixabay

Although I love my centrally heated home, I wonder if we really need to heat all our rooms in this time of economic crisis and with a soaring cost of energy. In ones we hardly ever use, perhaps we could turn off the radiators. It would save us fuel, and money, and also help the environment.

I also wonder if living in a constant warm temperature is actually good for us. We are warm, then go out into the cold. A recipe for catching colds, I think.

I didn’t intend for this to be as long as it is. I apologise. If you’ve got this far, Well Done.

If you would like to receive an exclusive, free short story by me, called The Haunted Table, simply click the link. This will take you to the page where you can download it.

Maria and Tom have bought an antique table for the old cottage they have bought. When they hear strange noises in the night that sound like crying, they worry their house is haunted, but the sounds seem to come from the table.

They set about trying to find what is causing the disturbances. The answer is stranger than either of them had thought.

(Clicking the link will add your email address to my email list, but don’t worry, you can unsubscribe immediately if you wish. Nor will you get any spam. I only send out an email each quarter, or if I have any exciting news–like a new release.)

Wild Flowers of Britain. 1. The Dandelion

Some people will refer to these plants as weeds. But what is a weed? Grass growing on your lawn is not a weed, but if it grows between your beloved flowers in the flowerbed, then it is.

In the above case, the grass is growing where you don’t want it, hence it’s a weed. So a weed is any plant growing where it’s not wanted.

I have, in the past, bought plants from garden centres and put them in my garden. Sometimes I regretted it as they wanted to take over the whole garden, even though they might be pretty. They have become weeds.

A weed is a plant growing in the wrong place.

So here are a few wild flowers, not growing in the wrong place!

The first of these is one that is often disparaged, and called a weed wherever it grows. That’s the Dandelion.

These plants are so-called from the French, ‘dent-de-lion’, meaning ‘lion’s tooth’. If you look at the leaves, you can see how this name came about. However, the French call it ‘piss-en-lit’ or ‘wee the bed.’

When I was growing up, we told each other not to pick dandelions or we’d wet the bed. There is a miniscule truth in this as the sap of the plant has diuretic properties.

I also believe that the leaves make a spicy addition to a salad, but I’ve never tried it myself.

When we were growing up, we used to call the seed heads ‘Dandelion clocks’. We blew the seeds of, counting ‘one o’clock, two o’clock etc’ until all the seeds were gone. then that was the time. We never really believed it, but it was a fun thing to do. And it helped spread the dandelion seeds.

Personally I like dandelions. They are lovely flowers, and make a bright carpet in the springtime on roadside banks.

Here is a picture of a field of dandelions in Parthenay, France, just outside the walls.

I have a vague memory of being told that during WW2, people used to make coffee from the long tap roots. It would certainly be caffeine free! Anyone who has ever tried to dig up a dandelion can testify to those roots!

Dandelions, though, have a high propensity for absorbing things around them, that includes weedkillers and pesticides, as well as heavy metals such as lead, so it is as well not to eat them from anywhere near roads, or places where herbicides and pesticides can be absorbed.

Wikipedia tells me that dandelion flowers were used to make a pale yellow dye, and the inner ribs of the leaves made a purple one.

They can self-pollinate, which is useful for them as they flower early, so they can pollinate themselves before insects are around, but their bright yellow flowers attract bees as soon as they emerge in the spring. Be careful of using herbicides on them, though, as it can harm or kill the pollinating insects.

And, of course, the Rolling Stones made a song about this flower. Here’s a link to YouTube so you can listen to it.

If you would like to join my mailing list and receive a quarterly email about what I’ve been up to, click the button below.

You will receive a free and exclusive short story by me as a thank you.

Peanut Butter Cookie Day

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a recipe for cookies, but they are peanut butter based, so I think I can get away with it! I only just found out it’s peanut butter cookie day, so I’m late in posting.

I’m afraid I don’t have a picture for this. It’s a tray bake and I’ve not made it in a while. I would have made some for this post, but I’ve found I have no peanut butter!

Peanut Fingers

Ingredients

170g SR flour

125g caster sugar

4x20ml tablespoons peanut butter

½ x5ml teaspoon salt

2 eggs

60g peanuts (roasted)

85g margarine

2x20ml tablespoons milk

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a Swiss roll tin.

Sieve the flour and salt together and add the margarine cut into pieces. Rub into the flour.

Stir in the sugar.

Beat the eggs and milk together and stir into the mixture with the peanut butter.

Spread in the tray and sprinkle over with the roasted peanuts.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes.

You can find more recipes in Viv’s Family Recipes. It is available on a number of platforms in several formats. You can get it by clicking on the title or the book cover in the side bar.

If you do decide to buy it, please leave an honest review on the platform where you bought it, and, if you are on Goodreads, there as well.

Forget what you were told in school about writing reviews. A simple comment on whether you like the book or not, and what pleased or displeased you is sufficient.

If you would like to join my mailing list and receive a quarterly email about what I’ve been up to, click the button below.

You will receive a free and exclusive short story by me as a thank you.

Herbs and Spices Day

Image by atul prajapati from Pixabay
Image by Seksak Kerdkanno from Pixabay

Today is Herbs and Spices day, so I thought I’d share a recipe for a spicy dish.

Lamb Casserole with Chilli

Ingredients

½ shoulder of lamb

1 sweet red pepper (bell pepper)

1 red chilli pepper

3 or 4 tomatoes

Salt and pepper

Method

Cut the meat from the bone and into small bite-sized pieces.

Brown in a little oil for a few minutes then put into a casserole together with the lamb bone.

Chop the tomatoes and chilli pepper, and cut the sweet pepper into rings. If you don’t like it too hot, remove the chilli seeds and use less than 1 whole chilli.

Add the tomatoes and peppers to the pan and cover with a tight-fitting lid.

Allow to simmer, watching carefully that the juices don’t boil dry. If it looks like getting too dry, add a little stock.

Cook until the lamb is tender and serve with plain boiled rice.

A tip for chopping chilli. Chillis are notorious for hanging around on your hands after chopping. Wear a pair of rubber gloves, then if you accidentally rub your eyes, you aren’t in agony for hours.

You can find more recipes in Viv’s Family Recipes. It is available on a number of platforms in several formats. You can get it by clicking on the title or the book cover in the side bar.

If you do decide to buy it, please leave an honest review on the platform where you bought it, and, if you are on Goodreads, there as well.

Forget what you were told in school about writing reviews. A simple comment on whether you like the book or not, and what pleased or displeased you is sufficient.

If you would like to join my mailing list and receive a quarterly email about what I’ve been up to, click the button below.

You will receive a free and exclusive short story by me as a thank you.

Beware What You Post on the Internet

I just read the following post in Just Publishing Advice. It is a warning to everyone who has ever posted anything online. Nothing you post has ever gone, even if you delete it.

Review of Kor’Thank, Barbarian Girl by Kent Wayne

OVERVIEW:

I enjoyed this ridiculous concept of a story. It was a fun romp through a mixture of scifi and fantasy.

BLURB

On a parallel Earth similar to ours, a barbarian king and an evil cheerleader switch bodies, threatening to destabilize the entire multiverse. That’s just the tip of the adolescent iceberg—in the race against time to set things right, teen genius Peter and master strategist Eun face off against a world-devouring monster.

Tons of profanity. Idiot demon-jocks. Copious psychedelics. An airborne kiss at three hundred miles per hour, dangling from the back of a mushroom-shaped mecha.

This is the high school experience you’ve always wanted. But more importantly, it’s the high school experience you so richly deserve.

STORY

Bodies switched between a barbarian leader on a parallel world and a cheerleader on Earth. Two teens who have the knowledge to switch them back. And a demi-god who appears as various things from a dog to a bicycle to a supercar to a…
The stability of the universe is at stake, and unless Peter and Eun can defeat an evil demi-god and an equally evil company, that’s the end of everything.
I don’t want to say more, except that I loved the velociraptor steeds of the barbarians. (except for a couple of occasions when Mr Wayne mentions them rearing. Since velociraptors are two-legged creatures, I found that I could not conceive of this idea,)

CHARACTERS

The characters are fun and varied. Eun is the strategist behind the operation, and Peter the scientist. I loved Kor’Thank, the barbarian leader, who found himself in the body of a teenage girl. His reaction to this was interesting. As was the reaction of Holly, the girl cheerleader who ended up in Kor’Thank’s body. But she became more nasty and evil.
The characters did change throughout the story, adapting to their circumstances—Kor’Thank for the better, and Holly for the worse. I don’t want to say more.

WRITING

The writing was good. Very few things that irritated me.

SUMMARY

I give the book 4*.
If you’ve read anything else by Mr Wayne, you will find this very different.
Although it is about teenagers, I would not recommend it for teens to read. There is much swearing and some sex.
It is a fun read.

If you would like to receive an exclusive, free short story by me, called The Haunted Table, simply click the link. This will take you to the page where you can download it.

Maria and Tom have bought an antique table for the old cottage they have bought. When they hear strange noises in the night that sound like crying, they worry their house is haunted, but the sounds seem to come from the table.

They set about trying to find what is causing the disturbances. The answer is stranger than either of them had thought.

(Clicking the link will add your email address to my email list, but don’t worry, you can unsubscribe immediately if you wish. Nor will you get any spam. I only send out an email each quarter, or if I have any exciting news–like a new release.)

First book in series, FREE

Get a free copy of the first book in 3 of my series.

Vengeance of a Slave

A story set in Roman Britain

The Wolf Pack

An epic fantasy tale

The Stones of Earth and Air

A fantasy story of mystery, adventure and danger

If you get the books, or any of them, I would greatly appreciate a comment on Amazon and/or Goodreads, or anywhere else for that matter, depending on which platform you get the book.

Reviews are most important to authors. They are the main way we get our books known. Just a simple comment on whether you liked the book or not, with a reason is enough.

Stopping Book Piracy

An important post on Story Empire that should be read by both readers and writers.

How many readers really know how long it takes to get a book published?

Readers, please read this. You write the first draft. That might take anything form a few months to years. It’s not perfect. There are many things wrong with it. There are the obvious things, like typos, of course, but lots of other things can be wrong.

Timing, for one. You might find you have your protagonist take a week to get from one point to another, but someone else only take a couple of days using the same transport.

You might find your protagonist is blond in Chapter 1, only to turn up a redhead in Chapter 20 (and she’s not been to a hairdresser!)

People’s names. Check the spelling is consistent all through. I’ve occasionally changed the name of a character (or place) during the writing. A check needs to be done to ensure all the references have the new name.

Word usage. Have you used every word with the correct meaning. (I read a book where someone ‘etched towards a rabbit’ (I assumed the author meant ‘edged’).

Do you really need that scene? Does it add anything to the story? Do you need to delete it?

These are just a few of the things that need to be checked. I could go on, but it’s get boring.

So you see, there are a number of rewrites for every book. This can take months, too, before it’s ready for publishing.

Perhaps the book then goes to critique groups or beta readers and work needs to be done on their comments. (Maybe something isn’t clear to the readers that you think is perfectly obvious because you know the story so well.)

Cover design, formatting, professional editing etc needs to be done.

All in all, there is a lot of work goes into publishing a book, and the author deserves to be paid for it. (and the musician and artist, in the case of those subjects, too.)

Read the post on Story Empire

Pirates! They are fine for stories told within the pages of the books we read. But book piracy is another story altogether. Illegal book consumption accounts for 17% of all downloaded ebooks. This is stealing. Those who download and read books for free are just as guilty of theft as those who offer the books on hundreds of illegal sites scattered across the internet.

If you’ve ever Googled the titles of your own books or your author’s name, you’ve probably found your work being offered for free on one or more of these sites.

But now that you’ve made this discovery, what can you do about it? It’s your work. You own the copywrite.

There are dragons and magic in the world if only you look for them… V.M. Sang

%d bloggers like this: