Thursday, 30 December 2010

End-of-the-year musings

I usually don't reflect on the year that has passed, but this year, I feel I need to do it. Much has happened, good things and not so good things. Overall, it was an okay year which certainly can be topped 2011.

What I'm really glad about is, that I met so many lovely author friends I keep in touch with regularly. Some, I met again, some I met for the first time.
I have sort of, finished my collection of comical short stories, that seem to have found a home, I have started a new novel, which will be finished 1st of March 2011 the latest. That is my deadline and I've learned that I stick to them usually. Well, then it needs to go through the editing-process, but I will love it, since I really love this book.

My editing-business received wonderful comments and I'm really proud to have such loyal clients who don't get tired to recommend me.

One of my close friends left me, going back to Spain, but he is blossoming there and it was the best thing he could ever do, so I'm happy for him.

Zorro has been a nightmare, but has calmed down a lot. From hopeless case to adorable again. Though I still have to watch my hands, fingers and face when dealing with him. He's also survived two GA when he had surgery, but he is healthy, big and strong and has grown and put on a lot of weight, too.

I began with piano lessons in April and was told I'm learning extremely quick and am talented, that's a formidable compliment, I think. Unfortunately, I had to put the lessons on ice for several reasons, but I will go ahead with them next year, when I have found a new teacher. I'd rather keep my old one, but she had to give her piano away. Shame, really.

Other plans for next year include to co-author a book with a dear friend, then begin with the next book that has been screaming about in my head for quite some time now. Again, literary fiction. I have the title already. Brilliant, huh?

I hope you will get into the new year safely. See you there.



Thursday, 23 December 2010

The end is in sight, sort of.

The end of my novel, that is. I'm at about 49k now and I aim at roughly 70k. It's been a long journey so far, but even if it hurt a lot of times, sitting in front of the laptop, not being able to write a single word in thirty minutes, then finish writing, a few hours later, having only written 244 words. But I'd rather write little that is brilliant, than 2440 words that are not up to my standards.

I'm very proud of this book, its uniqueness, the style and that I actually am writing it. Close to my heart, I still manage to stand back and watch the two MCs interacting. Though, I admit, there are quite a few parts where a lot of me went into it and will certainly continue to go in.

Christmas is going to be used to push it further up the word-count-ladder and I'm looking forward to it. I love the peace on those days.

Wish you all a good time, too.



Tuesday, 21 December 2010

I'm hot!

Yes, I am, but only because I have a sunburn. I went to a short trip into the sun. Very short nine-minutes-trip, to be precise. Sunbed is a great thing if you are in need of an energy boost. It's good for your immune system and even better for your soul. But never overdo it! Every now and again is fine, though.

Apparently, I was the only one who used this sunbed (bed is the wrong word here, they are those stand-in thingies) yesterday and they gave me three minutes extra. When I looked at the girl a little puzzled, she said, 'It's cold in there.' 
'And I'm going to burn my arse,' I replied.
Nevertheless, I took the coins and turned myself into the proverbial lobster. After all I'm invited to a party on New Year's Eve and don't want to scare other guests with my ghost-like looks.

Luckily, I got home without the visual effect, but in the evening, I turned red and I felt reasonably warm.
For the next days, it means fresh carrot juice to help my body with the melanin-production.

How I wished to live in a county that is always sunny....

Saturday, 18 December 2010

London covered in a dust of snow

Today, I woke up to discover it snowed like manic. Everything was covered in white, even the roads. It's freezing cold and all I'm thinking of is summer. I want summer!
Since I was little I was dragged along to winter holidays, skiing and taking long walks in the snow and that for the first sixteen years of my life. I'm done with snow, really, I am.
Though, I admit it looks pretty with the trees covered in a white dust and it's certainly brilliant for the children, I would rather have summer all year.

Now, that's not going to happen in London, is it? Well, lucky me, I'll go, skid would be the more accurate word, grocery shopping and then hide behind my laptop with a hot chocolate or two. Have some writing to do. Pretty pleased with what I've done so far. About 45k, which means 5k to go until end of this year.

These picture show the view from my windows: London in dirty-white.

Wish you all a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Stella is Italian

It means star and that's what I think I am. A star cook, in fact. No, I'm exaggerating, but I recently discovered my love for home made pizza. Yes, that's right, me, the one who loves to cook never did them myself. I hate the ones available to order or them horrible things you can purchase at the supermarket. If I eat pizza, either at an Italian restaurant or made by me. Well, I made pizza once with friends of mine, but I always fear things that contain yeast and go into the oven, since I turn anything supposed to be baked into charcoal.

Tonight, I made a wonderful pizza. It doesn't take much longer than ordering one and it's much more fun.

Dough for one tray:
200g plain flour
1 small cup of warm water
1 teasp. yeast
Pinch of salt
Drizzle of olive oil

Mix all together and knead for at least five minutes, then cover the bowl with clingfilm and put into warm place for about 30-40 minutes. Knead again a couple of times, then roll out on a floured surface. Try to get as thin as possible.

On the pizza:
Tomato puree
Some passata or tomatoes
 Cooked ham
Sliced mushrooms
Sliced onions
Chillies (you decide if mild or hot)
Cheese (I use grated Mozzarella)
Wild rocket to finish it off.
Olive oil

Of course you can put onto it whatever you like. Bake until cheese has melted and the dough looks crispy.

Buon appetito!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

A Guinness, one cider and black and no writing

I've been out yesterday. A catch up with my friend Bobby as we haven't seen each other for what seems like years. He did see the vivarium for the first time and was absolutely stunned by its size. And Zorro's size, too. He saw him when I got him, age three, two and a half years ago. And he was little.

We went to a pub near my house, which isn't too difficult, since in London, you have either a pub, a church or a betting shop every twenty metres. It was wonderful to meet up, but I actually planned to spend the night writing. Needless to say, that didn't happen. After one sexy Guinness and one cider and black, I went home and watched movies. Couldn't care less about writing.

It's Sunday, a perfect day to relax and that I will do, but tonight, I will be back at my novel otherwise I won't manage my 50k target until the 31st.

Wish you a wonderful Sunday. Take it easy.



Saturday, 11 December 2010

Name: Zorro - Occupation: lazy bugger

I don't know what went into the ugly creature that provides me with delicious food every day, but somehow, I felt she's taking the piss, to be frank. Not only did I sit here with one sun, instead of two, but her services were poorly.
When I wake up, I want to be left in peace, well, so far, she obeys by these rules. But when I've sun-bathed and are all warm and fuzzy, I get hungry. And that means I'm almost starving. I could eat her, if only she would stand still for long enough.

So there I lay, lazy butt held into the warmth, waiting for her to come and serve me. Ha! She was nowhere to be seen, nor heard. But what could I do? Well, I climbed, jumped and walked around my house. This usually gets her attention. But still: nothing. Okay, then, I'll just wait until she pops her head into my home and makes those funny noises, I thought. I've learned that when she does this, food is on its way.

She kindly appeared an eternity later. I was so angry and upset at this stage, that I simply headed for her. She just about managed to jump backwards. Ha ha ha. Got you scared there, eh? My inner grin planted itself onto my ego. She walked out of sight and I became all excited. Gosh I was so looking forward to some fresh green stuff, I held my nose right out of my house. But I had to be careful, I could fall deep and that's certainly not in my interest. All I wanted is juicy greens and some other stuff she usually brings. Did I mention she does a good job with this?

Here she comes, I thought, now almost falling from my high seat. A huge heap was placed in front of me and I tucked in as if there's no tomorrow. Aaah, gorgeous. I didn't even mind her touching me, if it wasn't for the length she always does it. Then, she left me alone. Damn time, woman!

Of course not for long. As soon as I've finished, I actually planned to laze about, maybe snooze off a little, but I needed to do my business. Sorry, peeps, but it had to be done. And it keeps her on her toes, too. Yeah, I know, I'm mean. But that's what personal slaves are for, no?

Yep. She came running to clean after me. Good girl. I sat there, proud and big-headed when she waved something at me. I closed my eyes to pretend it's not happening and when I opened them, I panicked! I couldn't see and I wanted to scream. Blindfolded! I sat still, didn't dare to move. She made crazy noises and then took the blindfold off me. Silly game, that.

All I want to do is lay down, digest the good meal and dream of an iguana-perfect world.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Another rare share - sneak peak of my WIP

As you know, I'm busy writing on my current literary fiction novel. I've decided to share another excerpt with you and I guess many know exactly what my MC just goes through. Enjoy.

Every spare moment should be used to fill the gaps with letters, words of importance forming sentences of meaning. The characters must get a personality, a life to live and talk to the reader. Writing a book is hard work, if you do it on your own, or with a partner.

As often, you have difficulties to get into the head of your protagonists, they stare back at you in silence. A most frustrating situation if you only have so few spare days. How much you wish you could sit down and begin to type, letting your fingers take over.

It is not to be compared with the so called writer's block, it is deeper. Fear of failure lets you stiffen with every try to erase the blank space in front of you. Closing your eyes, you take a deep breath. When you open them again, you type out an idea, then delete it again.

Your perfectionism is a bully. Like at school, when you were the most afraid of the older boys waiting around the corner, they would jump in your way when you approach. Anger thuds in your temples. Nothing seems good enough for you today.

When you come up with the next line, you write it again, swap it around, exchange words for others, read them aloud. They experience the same fate. 'Useless,' you say, louder than you wanted. It is as if your mind is set on automatic diversion.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

I'm a winner!

You don't believe me? Well, I hardly can believe it myself. I've entered and won the big Christmas Giveaway competition which Jenni James has done to help our friend M.M. Bennetts. So, naturally, I promoted the competition as much as I could.

I'm absolutely surprised. When I got Jenni's e-mail I couldn't believe it. I never win anything, apart from the two writing contests recently.
Hope the lottery ticket I bought will continue the lucky streak.

Wish me luck.

Oh an do pop by on Jenni's blog, she has a video of her singing Santa Baby which makes you giggle, guaranteed. She's also one to watch since she'll bring out her books, The Jane Austen Diaries, next year.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Are you German?

Dann fuehl Dich eingeladen einen Kommentar zu hinterlassen. Gefaellt Dir meine Seite?
Du kannst auch gerne auf Deutsch schreiben.

Gruesse aus London,


Saturday, 4 December 2010

Who needs presents if you have friends?

Some of you might know that I loathe Christmas. I just can't stand all the fuss that people make, the commercial side to it and the constant moaning.
What I don't understand is, why almost everyone gets so stressed out when all they need to do is sit together with their loved ones and yes, I mean it this way and spend a great few days together. When I watch the hectic ones, trying to gather all presents for members of the family they will argue with like every year, I wonder if they have forgotten what Christmas is all about.

Peace and quietness, love and happiness. But why does it have to be reduced to these days? I do have 365 days per year to tell my friends that I love them. And I do tell them, often. And I do have 365 days per year to give them a little something, something that comes from the heart, something I think is perfect for them.

I got something very special the other day. My friend, who's bought a house with her partner, and I spoke about Zorro. And everybody knows how much I love this little bugger, biting machine or not. He's my everything and I would do everything for him. So I asked her if, in case something happens to me, she would take him and look after him until he dies and she said yes. Even if I would get another one, she would look after them.
Now that's a real present to me. Friends, I mean. She has been a really good friend for almost a decade now, but this was one of the grandest present she could have made me.
I always said: I don't want any presents for my birthdays or other occasions, I've got my friends and they're the best, no need for anything else.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Christmas Markets

I love them. I admit. Nothing better than standing in the cold, wrapped up in several layers, holding a glass of mulled wine. Well, actually sipping it would be more appropriate.
There you are, huddled up with strangers and friends, everyone with one goal: warm their insides.

The Bremer Weihnachtsmarkt in North Germany is one of the most gorgeous ones and trust me, I've been to many over the decades. It's not too big, not too nick-knacky and it has a good mixture of everything, from food to decoration and loads of craft on offer, wood, china, knitting, glass, you name it.
I personally am quite partial to some Bratwurst in a bun with loads of mustard or some deep fried Brussels sprouts with garlic sauce. After that, it's time for the mulled wine with either, Amaretto, Peach or Cointreau in it. That warms the cockles, you have to trust me here.

To fight the growing hunger, or better: appetite, you need some Schmalzkuchen. It is some sort of little doughnuts, deep fried, decorated with loads if icing sugar and then eaten while hot.

So if you wonder what I've been doing for the past two you know. Oh and don't you dare to think I'm into Christmas. No, I'm not and here's the proof:

Saturday, 27 November 2010

What do you mean, you have no time?

To people who know me, it's no news that I love eating and cooking. And, if possible, I cook everything from scratch, even if I don't have much time. I am a firm believer that everyone can learn how to cook or has 30 minutes a day to do something fresh. You owe it to your body and your taste buds will jubilate.
Since I love the time in the kitchen so much, I thought I could share some easy recipes. I'm starting with my own quick version of spaghetti bolognese:

For four people you need:
  • pasta of your choice
  • 500g minced meat (pork. lamb, beef, mixed)
  • one big red onion
  • garlic
  • passata
  • button mushrooms (optional)
  • Salt and pepper/ parmesan 
Fill the kettle, then peel the onion and cut it into stripes or cubes, peel the garlic and do the same. Switch the kettle on.
Put the pan onto maximum heat with 1 tablespoon of oil..When hot, fry the meat until brown, add the onion. Stir until the onion is soft, then add the garlic. Stir for another minute.
Ad the passata until everything is covered properly. Make sure to scrape the brown bits that stick to the pan, it's all adding flavour. Add the mushrooms.
Turn the heat down so the sauce can simmer away. When the kettle is boiling, pour the water into a different pan, add a pinch of salt. When it's bubbling, add the pasta and stir from time to time.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper. You can add chili or herbs, it's down to your taste.
After about 10 minutes the pasta should be ready and so is the sauce. Drain the pasta, serve it up with a knob of butter and the sauce, then grate some parmesan over it. Enjoy!

Thirty minutes including all preparation. Now, there is really no excuse anymore to not cook from scratch. I know, I know, the passata is cheating, but it's a recipe for the lazy who want tasty.

Try it out and tell me if you liked it.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Writing and chocolate

Though I'm usually more the savory person, I admit that when I write I eat sweets and chocolate. I'm sure many do that, even without writing. The weird thing is the how.

For example: I have a tube of Smarties next to me, yes, laugh all you want, but Smarties are not only for kids. Normally, when I concentrate, I just shove the chocolate into my mouth, chew it, swallow it. I don't pay attention to the taste as much or let it slowly dissolve on my tongue. A bit dangerous, because with increase of the word-count the waistline might expand, too. Not that I'm too bothered, it's winter, I need my natural coat.

When I'm not working on my novel, I have the weird habit to eat colour-orientated. Let's say I've got a hand full of Smarties, I eat all the colours first that seem to dominate until I have two of each colour left, two yellow, two red, two blue, etc. Then I eat from yellow to blue, it has to be in this order. I can't just jump pink. I almost never break this rule.

Same goes with those MAOAM stripes. I eat all flavours in order until I have only three of each left. Then I go for taste. My favourites will be kept until the end. Raspberry and orange if you must know.

Such a behaviour has almost autistic quality or maybe I'm just plain weird. A side note, though: I'm not eating it all in one go or even one day. This goes on for several days.

For all you chocolate and sweets lovers out there: you are not alone. And if it helps to get your manuscript finished.....

Friday, 19 November 2010

Yes, that's right, I changed my name.

Well, a few of you know that Stella has always been my nickname and Ryan, a good friend of mine, gave me his surname a while ago, so I couldn't resist taking it as a pen name. Since I finished my first book, I played with the thought of it and here we go.

Stella Deleuze

It sounds so much nicer, sophisticated even. 

Don't you think?

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Is blogging promoting?

Today, I reached a goal and that was to have forty followers by midnight. If you have a facebook or twitter account, or are part of a big community, it is not a problem to find some followers and every time I have a new one, my heart jumps a tiny bit. Especially, if the new person appears out of nowhere, because it seems I have posted about something someone found interesting.

I've said on several occasions I could easily live without blogger, twitter and facebook, for it eats a lot of time, but I now have somehow found a little love for the ability to post about what is going on in my life. Not only when it comes to writing, but also when it comes to my iguana and the mission to inform people about these wonderful creatures.

In addition to that, blogging is a great marketing-tool, since every author who aims to be published needs to do a lot of marketing and promotion herself or himself nowadays. Books don't sell if you don't get the word out there. Well, let's be honest, the majority of first time authors struggle.

Publishers and agents like to see their authors active, for the market is competitive and if you have a good crowd following you, the ones that really like what you write about, you have certainly an advantage to someone who doesn't blog at all. I personally am more inclined to buy a book from someone whose blogs I enjoy and who keeps me up to date with the process of the novel and I believe I'm not alone.
The internet offers great possibilities to promote yourself, you just need to overcome your shyness and get started. With blogging, it can be utter fun, as I have learned. So yes, it is promoting. What are you waiting for?

Friday, 5 November 2010

I wish I owned a greenhouse

I'm very proud of my big boy Zorro. He's grown so much since I got him, not only in length, but also got, well, fat. He is 17.7 inches (45cm) from snout to vent (the, well, the anus) and weighs over 7.7 pounds (over 3.5kg). A recent blood count revealed he's in tip top condition, but I need to feed more calcium.

He has developed quite an appetite. Not that he ever was a bad eater, but in the beginning, he was picky due to the change of diet from his previous owners to me.

What do I feed him? Greens mainly. Wild rocket, watercress, cress, alfalfa, bean sprouts, curly cale, coriander, basil, mint, pea shots (occasionally), spinach (rarely) as the latter don't have a good calcium phosphorus balance.

He also gets carrots and butternut squash, both grated, tomatoes, red pepper.

And fruits like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, figs, apples, pears, banana (occasionally, though he loves them), red grapes, you name it.

In addition, I dust his food with calcium powder and once per week, he gets a multivitamin syrup for children, measured down to his needs.
An iguana's diet should be as varied as possible, greens, squash and carrots should be staples and fruit be treats.

For everyone who thinks about getting an iguana I can only say: be warned, they eat you alive!

My boy eats about two full packets of wild rocket and other greens, and quite a bit of butternut squash/carrot mix. In addition to this he has his treats in form of fruits and he manages easily a whole banana and later a whole clementine.

<---that's him being annoyed and about to bite, because I rustle the package. He hates that.

If only I had a greenhouse, I had even more variety and it would be a lot cheaper. The rocket alone is £2 on a daily basis. Do the math.

But I'm glad to have him and I love to spoil him rotten. And if he is not in the fighting mood, he actually enjoys a little bit of a scrub.--------->

Saturday, 30 October 2010

To buy or not to buy an iguana in the shop?

I'm upset, I must say, I really am.

So there's this person on a reptile forum, saying he'd seen a baby green iguana in a shop that is kept in bad conditions and that he's thinking about 'rescuing' it. Then, he goes and asks us what he should do and if we could give him some information on how we experienced ones keep our animals.

My initial reaction was to tell him not buy this animal in this shop, rather to go and report this shop for buying this little one would only result in the shop getting a new one that will be held in bad condition.
I'm against buying these animals in the shop in general, since they usually don't have the animal's best interest at heart but their money and every sold animal is cash in the books. They often don't give sound advice, warn people off or even worse: give bad advice.

Now, this guy who sought advice, wouldn't listen, at all. He went onto another thread  telling another guy he should 'rescue' this little guy in the shop because he looks well after his big boy. I nearly lost it there. Today, on the original thread, he asks again, if we really don't think buying this baby iguana in the shop would be a good idea.

No, it's not!

What angers me the most is that people obviously aren't capable of using google, since putting in 'green iguana keeping' gives you 110k results in 20 seconds and there you have it: a whole wide world of information. There, you will see that iguanas become huge, up to six feet, that they require a huge set up, that they can become rather unpleasant, what food they need and how old they become.

I wonder why people are not taking more responsibility before getting such an animal that's not the average cat, but an animal that requires knowledge, patience, willingness to learn, every day and certainly it requires quite a bit of money. Vets don't come cheap. I pay about 90 pounds per month for food and electricity/water and the vet bills were over 1200 pounds in six month this year. Two years ago, I paid 1200 for my female that sadly died after surgery.

I've got mine 'rescued' from a pair that wasn't allowed to keep it after they moved house. Something I don't understand either. If I can't move in with my animal, then I don't want this flat. Would they give their child away because the landlord doesn't like children?

And he was given to them because his former owner was surprised it grew. So in his young three years, he had to go through three new owners. Poor guy. At least, I know I'm going to keep him until he dies and that's hopefully a very long time until them. He bit me several times, brought me to the A&E, is aggressive and won't let me handle him, but I love him to bits and I would never even think of giving him away.

Almost every week I see ads of people who have to re-home their animals, the rescue centres are full of big adult males, given away because they became inconvenient, aggressive, large, owner moved house or countries. It's really really sad.
I wish people would make up their mind thoroughly before getting a pet like this and inform themselves, use the possibilities given, like google, books, whatever and if they then make this decision to get one, to be aware it's a decision for this animal's life.

So if you want an iguana, think hard! Then go and take one of those poor iguanas that sit in a rescue centre and could do with a loving home. They've usually been through enough, they deserve a good life.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Are you sceptical about mediums?

Well, so it Lorraine, a friend of mine and medium herself.

She has a lot to say on this topic on her blog, interesting things, surprising things and a lot of information.

And she had even published one of her books, A Sceptical Medium, availabe in print and on smashwords.

Remember, Christmas is not too far away. :-)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

And the winner is?

Me and me again.

Unbelievable, but true. I won both contests. The strong scene and Pet's POV. I never win anything, so I'm quite flattered. Thank you to everyone who voted. You are stars.

Here are the winning entries for your entertainment and amusement. Enjoy.

Entry strong scene: 
As if she feels your stare, she lifts her head. In the dimmed light you can't make out the title, but the fact that she sits here alone on a Friday night, holding a book, makes her attractive enough.

She smiles at you. Her far too perfect lips reveal a set of white teeth. You know it's rude, but you can't hold her gaze. Ashamed, you look away, into your glass. When you take a sip, you sense her eyes scanning each inch of your body.

Another sip. It feels warm, comfortably warm. Slow, but confident footsteps on the wooden floor. You listen carefully, your grip tightens. Five, six, seven, eight. Then, they stop. The scent of flowery, expensive perfume penetrates your nostrils.

'You are waiting for someone?' she asks. Her voice surprises. It is nothing like you thought it would be. Much deeper – not displeasing, though. A faint accent gives away she is not a native. It sounds inviting. You shake your head in response to her question.

'Would you mind me sitting here?' Without waiting for an answer she lays down her book and takes a seat. Its author is no-one foreign to you.

Entry Pet's POV:
What the heck? Still sleepy, I open my eyes. Why does the sun always rise that quickly? The same as it sets. One second I dream of the high trees, next I'm thrown into reality. Brutal, I must say. And it means, that I have to leave this corner I slept in.

Not that someone forces me, but this ugly creature that provides me with some delicious tasting stuff will put it on my lower lazy hangout. I spend most of my day there, because I can overlook my territory, you see?

She doesn't know it yet, but I'm her master. Proof is that she always backs off when I head-bob at her, or leaves, just to come back with more delicious things to eat and boy, she knows what I like. A lot of crunchy greens and those little round things that pop in my mouth.

How I know it's a female? Hell, don't you understand? I'm an alpha male and if I don't take up the scent of a fine lady, who else would, eh? And there are many opportunities for she comes to see me a lot. Even when I really don't want to be disturbed.

Oh, there she comes and I see green leaves. Good job, I could eat at least two bowls of this. She makes funny noises I don't understand. Something's different. Typical. A cold draft pushes past me. No time to blink, I'm in anticipation of the food.

Gosh, this is good! I don't spare her one look. Then...Hey! No! I want to shout. Why can't she let me eat in peace? I don't like being touched, I'm ticklish. Leave me alone, I think. Not that I have high hopes. Years of experience made me learn that's not going to happen. I sigh, throw a short look towards her flesh and contemplate.

Lucky for her, I enjoy my breakfast far too much. Again, this annoying sound. Sometimes, I feel she speaks my language, but I have trouble to understand, must be a weird dialect. I answer, then she would answer, too, but still no real conversation.

Now, she dashes out of my sight. Do I care? No, she left enough so I continue to tuck in. Could've closed the door. Might mean she'll come back. Yes, here she comes, holding some orange watery treats, then puts it in front of me.

And there are some attached to her flesh. Great! She'll just take the mick again, every time I have almost one in my mouth, she'll pull away, making weird noises again, just a tad louder. Put the damn sweet things down and let me get them my own, I want to scream at her.

Imagine you would love to lick your favourite ice cream and someone would pull away, every bloody time. How would you feel? To do a little bit of justice, I've a trick, darting forwards, mouth as wide open as possible and try to bite into her flesh.

From experience I know that will piss her off, teach her a lesson, you know? On the other hand, I won't get supplement and when I like something very much, then it's supplement. And variety. Must say, she does this well.

But this constant staring. Why on earth would she stare at me for ages? I need to digest, warm up, spread my arm and legs, rest my head and doze. Something I do for most of the day. I can afford it, can't I? Having my personal slave.

There I lie, relaxed, dreaming of a fine woman for me, when the door opens again. I lift my head to see what the reason is for the disturbance. Oh dear. This giant spitting thing. That comes unexpected! There I was, sun-bathing and now it rains heavily. I squint.

Good I don't soak, it's rather nice when it's a warm shower. I wonder if I will ever have a quiet moment, day even. But that's something else I can dream of, tomorrow, maybe the day after that. The rain stops, the door closes and I'm able to have a nap. Life is hard for an iguana.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Competitions, competitions

Yes, I've entered another one.

There are only two entries, A pet's POV on the world.

Please make some time to read and vote.

And while you are there, have a look around. Suzanna has always something interesting on her blog.

Thank you,


Saturday, 23 October 2010

When authors meet

For weeks I was excited due to the fact that I would meet my friend Lorraine, founder of Authors on Show. We have worked together since May, promoting others, us and developing this site. We would only speak on skype, per video-conference and it was fantastic to meet each other.
Also, I was able to see M.M. Bennetts again, who launched the second book, Of Honest Fame. The team behind the publisher Diiarts where there, too. A bunch of lovely people, who greeted everyone personally.
My friend Fifi came along with her husband Ash Scott-Lockyer, whose short story I edited recently before it was accepted.
Molly Hopkins, author of It Happened in Paris, which is available to pre-order, joined our little get together, charming everyone's socks off.
And there where more who clearly came to hear M.M. reading a passage from the book.
What I loved the most, is that M.M. Bennetts still is a down to earth person, open to chat to everyone who likes either historical military fiction, a laugh or even better both.

It was a wonderful relaxed atmosphere, brilliant to have connected some friends who only knew each other through the internet and for M.M. a successful book launch.

All I need to ask now: when are we doing this again?

Thursday, 21 October 2010

I've made it!

Well, I'm one of the three finalists in Gary Ponzo's strong scene contest. It's 200 words of my current novel.

If you have time, go and take a look, each entry is only short. If you like mine the best, vote for it. Or send in your own for November.

Thannk you,


Sunday, 17 October 2010

I'm in pain

Why? you probably wonder. Well. It started with the idea of meeting a friend who I met on authonomy.
She's a rider who owns two horses. Silly me had the wonderful idea of going for a ride. Needless to say that I never had lessons, apart from one or two odd ones and that was about 15 years ago.
So here we go, nicely and appropriately dressed, I turned up at the station, where she picked me up. I was already super excited to sit in a Land Rover and begged her to let me drive one day. She agreed, more or less reluctantly. But honestly, I'm a good driver.

At the yard, I got introduced to 'my' horse, Chesnut, according to my friend a lovely creature that looks after its novice riders. To be fair, he did. Bless him.
When grooming and saddling was done I mounted under a lot of laughter, because I'm obviously not as bendy as I thought I'd be and off we went into the paddock in order to get a feeling again.

It's safe to say that I really had no chance to make Chesnut move, not one inch. Neither to the right nor left. He just followed my friend who had the exhausting job to run in front to get him into a trot. The steam, I will say, came more from her nostrils rather than from the horse's.
When I felt fit enough, we decided to dip into the forest. I was nervous. What happened if he jumps or balks at something? I would sail inelegantly from his back. My friend went first and Chesnut trotted after him, which was good, no?
I think he has quite a bit of humour since he preferred to walk right under the branches on the left hand side instead of walking where I could sit upright. So my job was ducking under the branches which was, taken into account I'm not familiar with sitting on a horse, quite funny. I laughed a lot and swore likewise.
Once, I got nearly swept off as the branch was a little to strong for me. I managed just about to stay in the saddle.

How it was to sit on a horse after so long? What do you mean, I would ask back, sitting? I lay one the neck of the horse most of the time.
The end of the ride was another hilarious moment and I wished there had been a camera. I hardly managed to get off him and my friend had to catch me, who slid down like a sack of potatoes.

It was great, I admit, the nature, the smells and the peace. Like a holiday. But today, two days after the ride, my muscles ache. A lot. I can't walk properly, but never mind. I will do it again.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Tail amputations on green iguanas

Recently, I saw some discussions on a forum, where a very responsible person took the animal to the vet after the young iguana broke its tail. It even turned out to be an open fracture.
It was amputated and all went well.

That's not always the case as I can say from own experience. In April this year, I saw that the tip of Zorro's tail was dying off. It seemed to be due to a hissy tail whip against some hard furniture and it needed amputation. A week after that, he whipped again and bruised the area at the remaining tip, so it died off further and needed another GA and amputation.
All went well, but it wouldn't heal. He was so aggressive that, every time he saw me, he whipped. In addition to that, the timing wasn't really good since he shed a few weeks later. He bled and the stitches came off, leaving the flesh and bone exposed.
Picture taken right after the incident, cleaned and before putting a bandage on.

I'm quite experienced, so I didn't panic, just cleaned it thoroughly and put some sterile bandage on. It wouldn't heal properly and took ages, because due to his whipping, he managed to get the bandage off quite a few times. I changed it every three days and finally, over night, left it open and it was sealed the next day.

It's all tip top now, the vet had a look at my recent visit and he was happy with it.

First aid tip for a broken tail in a younger iguana (or even toes):
This is only first aid to prevent the tail from further damage.

You need a straw (cut into pieces to go well over the break), tissue and desinfection.

Cut the straw-pieces so that you can bend them open. Cover the animal with a towel, if necessary, put it between your legs so it can't move.

Put the tissue carefully around the break, disinfect beforehand. Bend one straw lengthwise around the tissue and do the same with the other one. Fix it with plaster into place.

Make sure there's enough tissue under the straw and so that the skin is not damaged.
I personally don't see the vet immediately when I see it can be fixed by me. I managed to safe the tail of my female which was broken and only hung on one little string. It took ages, but it grew back together, healed and was not to see anymore after that.
If you are not experienced or unsure, always seek a vet's advice.

Monday, 4 October 2010

My dragon had surgery

Today, I brought my iguana to the vet for a post-surgery check up.

Last Tuesday, he got an abscess removed from his snout, a part of his toe amputated and two tiny incisions on his forefoot. As usual, I was worried, who likes to have their pet in surgery? But he's a big and strong boy, super healthy, well, apart from the reason for the visit at the vet, and luckily quite forgiving. A few hours after he woke up, I could collect him and after an hour's journey, he was save and sound, back in his vivarium, eating straight away.
Last time I was to the vet was in May, and up to now, he has put on about two pounds, I was surprised, I must say. It seems, I'm doing everything right with his food. He loves his wild rocket and very fond of blueberries in particular. Bananas are a favourite as well, but I don't feed them too often, since they haven't the best calcium/phosphorus balance.
Have you ever seen an iguana eating a banana? It amazes me every time when I give him one. He's about 17 inches body length and he eats a banana usually quicker than I do. I mean, the whole one, in addition to his normal food, which is about a packet of wild rocket, watercress and blueberries. Some other greens or fruit and veg, of course vary.

The vet said he's doing fine, everything looks good, but I shall keep an eye on his forefoot. After eating a hell of a lot of crispy rocket, Zorro now lies lazily on his shelf, feet dangling down and dozes, not aware of the money I had to pay for him. Keeping an iguana is a damn expensive hobby, but worth every penny, if you ask me.

Sometimes, I wish to have an iguana's life, but without operations.

On the other hand, I quite like to write and that's what I'm doing tonight, with the iguana watching over me, until his lights go out.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Publication, no matter what?

I think every aspiring author fears them: rejections. On a good day, I shrug them off and tell myself it's just one person's opinion. On a bad day, I want to go and throw my manuscript into the Thames. The majority of days though, I delete the e-mail of the agent or publishing house, when it's a standard rejection.

Recently, I got one from a small publishing house that liked my premise of No Wings Attached, but thought it needs another edit and sent me some notes to see what they mean. They also suggested some serious rewrites that would tweak my storyline and MC's into a direction I'm not comfortable with. They said if I did that, they'd love to see my book again.

I had a thought about it, and though I'm absolutely thankful for their notes and will take them into account, I've decided to not rewrite to 'match' their audience better. It's not that I won't be open to rewrite scenes, certainly not, as long as it's in my comfort zone, but I have seen so many authors rewriting several times and still being rejected by the very publisher who asked for rewrites.

My theory is that if the publishing house or agent likes a book enough, even if it requires some rewrites, then they would sign the author.

No Wings Attached will receive another last edit before I send it out again, maybe rewrites even, some I scenes I might feel unhappy with, but it will stay the book it is. If it never sells, then it is not meant to be sold, I have plenty of other ideas and books.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

How to name my baby

Yes, I'm pregnant with my third child. It's 21,450 words now and will be about 70k when it's ready for the world to see it in all its beauty.

Today I want to talk about finding a book title. Everyone has a different approach to this topic. Mine is, to start writing with a working title that comes to mind first and while I write, I will find others. I remember my first book, No Wings Attached, was called Do wishes come true? beforehand. I didn't like the title so I made a list of about ten possible titles. Nothing really worked and I gave up.
One night, I woke up and the name literally jumped at me. I noted it down immediately in order to remember the next day. And No Wings Attached was born.

And you think it's funny, was actually the first name that came into my mind and I still think it's suitable. Written in second person and a sarcastic undertone. Perfectly mirrored by the title. By the way, it has a publisher's interest, but nothing is set in stone yet, so I won't tell more.

Sometimes, I have the title before I even started writing. Such a novel sits in one folder waiting to be continued. I have written one scene only, but it's going to be an interesting, again, literary fiction piece.

Parallel to my current novel I'm writing a ADHD diary, because I always wanted to write about living with ADHD.

Do you want to take a sneak peek?
From 'The ADHD diaries'

05 September 2010

I've felt weirdly down since three days now. It's a bit like living in a cloud, you get up, you eat, drink, simply function, but with no real goal. I wanted to buy fish today, since I have decided to lose weight, some serious weight. But I can't be bothered to leave the house. It's like I find a thousand excuses to not go into public. I hate getting ready, I also hate having a shower. I don't even know why. Is this because of the repetition? Or is it because I have to undress, wait for the hot water to come, then the procedure of washing the hair, rinsing it, soaping the body, shaving, towelling and then put some lotion on? I have no idea, I only know that I dread a shower. I just like the result of having good smelling hair, and to carry around the scent of whatever body butter or lotion I put on.

My third mug a tea, a bowl of fruit next to me, I'm sitting here to write down what goes through my head. Yesterday, I wrote a few friends that's I'm not feeling well, meaning my depressions or better ADHD demands its attention. Funny enough for an attention deficit disorder. It is successful, though, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this now. When I'm in this state of mind, I tend to see the world through dark-tinted glasses. Nothing motivates me, nobody can make things better, and I want to snap at everyone. I wrote xxxx an e-mail saying that I'm fed up with life and fighting. He didn't even respond. That hurts and doesn't exactly lift my mood. But it's not his responsibility to do that, I know, it still hurts and I decided to now write him until he comes to me. I'm sure this decision will be amended soon – I seem incapable of resisting.

Since I can't sit still for hours, I just got up, after writing a huge chunk for my current novel, went to the loo, made the decision to defrost something I cooked two weeks ago and stay inside. Tomorrow is another day, isn't it? I brought the mug and bowl into the kitchen, came back, sat down and remembered why I went into the kitchen: to take the container out of the freezer. Typical ADHD. It happens so often. While I'm typing I'm distracted constantly, by my iguana, the noises outside, even a little pause distracts me, since I then switch windows to see if I got an e-mail or more clicks on my websites. Sad, I know, but at least I'm writing and it flows, sort of. A million thoughts run through my head and I'm trying to channel what I want to type. I got a little carried away, hence the huge chunk I had to take out and save for later use. However, there's my goal which I have to reach by midnight and that is about 550 words I need to write for the next part of the novel.

I just about resisted to call my friend Thomas to tell him some updates. Seems I might get out of the dark phase. The fact that I'm writing is another clue. Tomorrow, I have cleaning flat on my agenda. Needs to be done. I have the habit of setting me a task, be it cooking something special, writing a short story, going to Camden or cleaning my flat, I must set a day for it, then, I'll follow it through. Okay, I admit, writing often comes unexpected and I'm glad it does. At this moment, my thoughts went stray, reminding me that I wanted to do the laundry or I will have no clean underwear for tomorrow. Will do that later. I love later. Procrastination is my most favourite friend. After typing the last four sentences, I got interrupted again, this time to put some hand cream on. They are dry. Since I've sat here for about fifteen minutes, I think about getting up and make me a pot of fruit tea. I have neglected my habits. Usually, I drink about two to three litres of tea and water every day.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Snout injuries in Iguana Iguana

If you have a particular skittish or aggressive iguana, you may pay the vet a few more visits. My big boy hasn't stopped banging his nose against the glass since he moved into his enclosure. As I explained earlier, male iguanas can become quite aggressive towards their female owners and I have a perfect example for that living with me. As soon as I come nearer, he'll change into threatening posture, he'll extent his dewlap, come running to the point I'm standing and will jump, even from a distance of 50cm in order to sink his teeth into my flesh.

Lucky for me, the glass stops him.
Unlucky for him, he has now a severe snout injury. It's swollen, and bleeding every time he jumps against the glass. And quite obviously he's in severe pain. My problem is, that I need to handle him, changing food, cleaning the vivarium, spraying, checking on him. These tasks require me going near the vivarium and often end up with him banging his nose again. A circle that does concern me.

I will need to see the vet, as I fear he has developed an abscess since some solid tissue is discharged and to check this properly, I need the vet to have a look at it.

This will cost me about £50 the least and can add up to £700 if my worries are confirmed and he needs to administer a GA to remove the tissue.

He behaves normally, is active, eats, (Bananas mainly, which I don't like, but at least the eats) and a little wild rocket if offered from hand.

Here two pictures to give you an idea of how his snout looks:
The second shows him right after he banged his snout.

Will keep you posted.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Why I started writing - a true story.

Every now and again, I think back of how I began to take writing more seriously. Despite from writing all my life, jotting down my teenage thoughts, I never really considered it a career or something ongoing. I started several books, all hand-written, later on a typewriter and ten years ago on a computer. Some pages still must be floating around somewhere.

But, the event that got me thinking, was a love letter, yes, you read right, a love letter which I wrote to a guy I was madly in love with. What a surprise, eh?

I had a lot to tell him and though we were quite close, the love wasn't mutual. He was anything, but certainly not ready for a relationship and perhaps not with me anyway.

However, one evening, I sat down at my kitchen table, lit a candle and poured me a glass of wine. An open note pad and pen in front of me, I organised what I wanted to get off my chest and began to write.

When I finished I had written ten pages in my rather awful handwriting. It basically had poured out of me and I was content with the result.

Next day at work, I handed it over to him, asking him to not open it before he's at home. Which he accepted. Later in the evening, I texted him with an apology for I thought he might be intimidated. He wasn't. He texted back saying it was brave of me to write this in the first place and second, he added, that he thought I should write books because he loved my style. It wasn't the least what I've expected as a reply.

After that, I started with short stories, full of observational humour, biting dark comedy. He read everything I gave him and demanded more. My first fan was born.

I stopped writing for a while.

Years on, I read a series of books that wouldn't let go off me when I finished and my decision was to write a novel that will captivate a reader alike. Many if possible. And I wrote my first book, as I already said in 2,5 months. Since I started it, I have been writing on a regular basis, improved, changed my style and I can't even imagine a life without writing.

I think I would never have had the confidence without that man who was the first to encourage me. Thank you, Jan. My third novel is well under its way and many short stories of different genres, too.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

To make the acquaintance of writer-friends

Recently, I spoke to one of my friends in America on skype. It's about a year ago, since we met on an online platform for writers. We instantly 'clicked' and became very good friends. Reflecting on the time I spent on this website, I am super thankful to have been there, since I met so many nice people on there, I call my friends now.

I've met the majority of them in person and, surprisingly, there was no awkwardness. Now you think authors only talk about books, don't you? Certainly, it's a topic we talk about, since it's a hobby/profession we have in common. If I meet someone who keeps reptiles I will, of course, talk about reptiles.

I never had a friend who writes, or at least I didn't know they wrote, apart from one and she never really shared anything. So to have those friends, who understand writing, and the pain and fun that comes with it, is absolutely vital for me. To exchange excerpts, critique and support when it's not going well, is something I don't want to miss anymore.

Though I don't name names, you guys, you know who you are and I love you to bits.

Thank you for being my friend.


Sunday, 22 August 2010

The waiting is over: excerpt of my new novel

Hello, you

So, if I don't fight dangerous Green Iguanas, or edit other people's manuscripts, I write. Mainly about life, because it gives me many subjects to write about. People told me that it mirrors in my books as I'm pretty observant. My new book, which I dare to call literary fiction, is different to what I've done so far, but I love a challenge and I took it when this idea forced itself onto me.

I've been asked many times what my new book is about. Well, it's difficult to explain. There are only a handful of people who read all 14,500 words I have so far and the response was overwhelming. Gosh, does this feel good.

I thought it would be okay to share an excerpt. It's not long, but should give you guys an overview what I'm working on at the moment. I do enjoy this style and genre, though it takes a little longer to write. It's worth it.


Not sure where it all came from, but reading those exchanges triggered your desire to go out and have some company. Though it's late, you know a place that is open till late in the morning. You shut down the computer and depart.
Fifteen minutes later, you arrive. When you enter, the owner looks up from the newspaper he's reading. You nod into his direction and take a seat at the bar. He pours you a scotch. Even if you don't come often, he knows your drink.
You never speak to each other. Since the one evening you drank far too many, it's not necessary. He wouldn't start a conversation, neither would you. That particular event showed you have no common ground and you ended up being frustrated about having had to explain every statement.
It's quiet in here, you think. Unusual for today. A glance around counts nine people, including you and the barman. A girl sits by herself in the corner, reading. Her red bob frames her countenance, making her strong features look like a piece of art.
As if she feels your stare, she lifts her head. In the dimmed light you can't make out the title, but the fact that she sits here alone on a Friday night, holding a book, makes her attractive enough.
She smiles at you. Her far too perfect lips reveal a set of white teeth. You know it's rude, but you can't hold her gaze. Ashamed, you look away. Your glass is not telling you any stories. When you take a sip, you sense her eyes scanning each inch of your body.
Another sip. It feels warm, comfortably warm. Slow, but confident footsteps on the wooden floor. You listen carefully, your grip tightens. Five, six, seven, eight. Then, they stop. The scent of flowery, expensive perfume penetrates your nostrils.
'You are waiting for someone?' she asks. Her voice surprises. It is nothing like you thought it would be. Much deeper – not displeasing, though. A faint accent gives away she is not a native. It sounds inviting. You shake your head in response to her question.
'Would you mind me sitting here?' Without waiting for an answer she lays down her book and takes a seat. Its author is no-one foreign to you. A well-known philosopher – your favourite one. You try to hide your excitement. This will be interesting.

Friday, 20 August 2010

This can happen if you don't pay attention

Today I got bitten (again) by my iguana. He jumped straight at my face and got me in the lip. Luckily, it's more superficial, so I will run around like I got some failed silicone injections, and it's a bit complicated to laugh and talk, since it's uncomfortable.

But I said I'll raise awareness of what can happen to even experienced iguana owners.

So that's my lip:

And here the offender :-)

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Why an iguana?

You have no idea how many times I get this question asked. To be honest, it came as a surprise to me as well. When I was in first grade, a guy came to visit our school, and he had loads of reptiles with him. I remember the python or maybe it was a constrictor, all I recall was a huge snake and a massive tortoise. I was fascinated by the snake and how it felt to touch her.
Fast forward 18 years later:

I just separated with my boyfriend, moved out of our flat and rented a place on my own. It felt quiet and l thought I'd love to have a budgie since I grew up with tame, absolute extraordinary ones. I love birds, they seriously crack me up.

So I went into a Zoo shop to gather information about prices, cages, etc. I looked at them, smiled and turned round to see what's behind me. BANG! Believe it or not, it's exactly how it happened and I still have this scene in front of me: The second I turned I stared at a little green dragon, it stared back an blinked. That was it - I was in love.
I said, 'You're Oscar, and you are mine!'
Don't ask my why that name, it was the first thought that came to my mind when I saw this mini dino.
Green Iguana was written on the viviarium. I turned on my heels and went to ask the Shop assistent what a Green Iguana is and that I just fell for it, head over  heels. She was brilliant. First thing she said, was that they become huge and require a lot of room and knowledge, she handed me a book to read in while I was there.

Did her efforts to put me off help? No, certainly not. In her defense, I think I was lucky and so was the iguana. A lot of  shops don't care if the animals live or die, as long as they get their money for them. A sad reality. Many other people tried to talk me out of it, suggested I should get a bearded dragon. Though I love them and one day I will get a pair, I only had eyes for Oscar. And when I got her home, yes, her (it's impossible to tell the sex when they're babies just by looking at them), I promised her to look after her well  until she dies. Though I made a few mistakes, she became 15 and was the most special iguana known to mankind. She died two years ago. And I miss her a lot.

I will post my experiences on a regular basis in order to help people understand their animals, learn from my mistakes and to rise awareness for the resposibilities that come with keeping iguanas.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

How my writing changed

Recently, I sent the beginning of my current novel to a trusted friend. When I told her what I had planned, a few months back, she said straight out, she can't see this working. She loves my book No Wings Attached, but this new one, she said, is very different to that.

I agree, it is different. If you wrote comedy successful, and are a funny person in general, everybody expects you to write humour. But since I learned a lot about writing and the dos and don'ts, I have improved, let's say 100%.

My goal is, to write in as many genres as possible. And of course, I also wanted to rise with the challenges. While I jotted down a whole 2500 words in one go without paying attention to repetition, beginning of paragraphs, adverbs and the like, I now choose the words I type carefully. It pays off, I must say I'm very proud of my latest baby.

You might wonder what my friend said after she read it. Her words: I'm transfixed, your staccato style is hypnotising. I didn't expect to like it that much, can't wait to read more. Plus she said the difference between my first book and this one is clearly noticeable.

Trust me, she's not being kind, if she feels the need to rip something apart, she does. She has done so in the past.

I will continue to be square...

Monday, 9 August 2010

My new book

It's different to what I've done beforehand. As I like a challenge I'm trying to push myself a little further and test the waters of the literary fiction-genre. It's partly autobiographic, though and I love it. Though it takes me much longer to write it, it's an experience I wouldn't want to miss. I'm still at the beginning, being about 9.300 words in, and it's a long way to the 70k-mark I set myself.

Another aspect of this book is that I don't share it online on writer's platforms. I have given some excerpts to trusted people who said they were transfixed by the staccato-style and a close friend of mine who is also a published author offered to edit the book once it's finished.

If you'd like to see more of my writing in general: I've added another short story 'Lovers'. Go and have a read. Hope you like it.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Flash Fiction

Do you tend to get carried away when writing? Well, you are not alone. Though I don't have trouble to write short stories, many do. For some reason, I always end up under 1000 words. Flash Fiction contests are the best to hone your skills, and to cut the overload. You receive a 'theme' that could be a word, a sentence, a picture or something like this. It's called, which I just learned, a prompt.
A short story, though, is different to a short story.
The first is just one with a limited word count; a plot told in short if you will.
The second on the other hand is much more complicated, because every word counts, it's all about reading between the lines and crafting one of those requires a lot of expertise. 

I'm working on honing my skills on the second. It's a slow process, but rewarding.

Writing short and short stories, maybe even both as a combination is fun and good in case you get stuck with your novel. It gets the juices flowing again.

Try it out. I recommend to take part here: Flash Fiction on AOS

See you there.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Authors on Show is undergoing exciting changes!

Yes, that's right. Authors on Show has some fantastic changes upcoming.

Lorraine, who was on holidays, has come back recharged and is now discussing with the team of how to make this wonderful site for authors and readers more attractive.

I can only recommend to take a look on a regular basis since there might be something intersting for you.

Monday, 12 July 2010

The content of my fridge

Do you belong to those who don't like grocery shopping? Well I can't stand it, as almost most shopping activities, unless it's at Ikea or B&Q.

To avoid going too often, and that's difficult with a tiny fridge in a single household, I must be inventive when it comes to cooking.

What do I have in my fridge right now? And what am I going to do with it?

A red bell pepper
Fresh green beans
Baby corns
Pork loin

Great ingredients for a Thai stir fry.
Broccoli and cauliflower
Elmre 50% (single cream substitute)
A bag of grated Mozzarella

Fabulous with the potatoes, mix, put in the oven, enjoy.
An orange (for the juice)

Brilliant with olive oil and basil.
Minced meat
Red and white cabbage

For my legendary meat balls, with peas and carrots and potato-mash. And cabbage as a side dish.
My every day's use:

Tasty with rye bread.
Tons of wild rocket 
Red seedless grapes
Fresh mint
Fresh coriander

That's mainly dragon-food, I share the mint with him. (Makes a rather refreshing tea)

And other little bits and bobs. And you thought my fridge is tiny, eh?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A few words on how to self-edit your novel

New writers often make the mistake to write their book in one go and when finished, they think it's ready to be discovered by the big publishers of the world. In some cases, that might even be true. The majority though, have to learn the hard way it's not how it works. When the rejection letters pile up, they eventually realise, they might need to do a little bit more than just write.

If you don't have a trusted person to spot plot inconsistencies and other errors, there are a few tips to clean your manuscript before submitting:

First off, forget about the manuscript for a few weeks before you start with the editing-process.

  • Try to read as a reader, get the distance from the manuscript.
  • find and delete adverbs(-ly). Only use them in moderation.
  • Change as many -ing forms as possible; i.e. was standing into stood
  • If you have two people in a dialogue, get rid of all the 'he said', she said' where it's clear who's speaking.
  • Do not try to replace 'he said', 'she said' with other words for there is nothing wrong with it.
  • When one character is addressed personally, don't forget to put a comma before it.
  • i.e. 'That's what I meant, Gary.'
  • And: He turned to Gary. 'Gary, do you think it's all right?' No need to address Gary as it's clear that he's been spoken to.
  • Try to be logical; i.e. in the complete darkness he saw two figures. When it's completely dark, how can he see at all?
  • Reality check: are your characters acting realistically? Is it believable?
  • Spot repetition. Have you a habit of using the same phrases over and over? Change them.
  • Plot inconsistencies: Is your MC just falling asleep and two paragraphs later, watching telly in bed?
  • Does your scene drag? Does it feel unnecessary to 'tease' the reader for that many paragraphs? Delete the dragging part.
  • Are there scenes that don't add to the plot? Chapters even? Delete them.
  • Are there characters that don't play an important role in relation to the MC or story? Get rid of them.
  • Is there a character that is not described much, though s/he is important? Flesh it out. 

This needs some time to adapt to, but with every chapter it's going to be easier and with every book you'll become more secure if you learn these by heart.

Good luck.


Submitting your novel

Seriously? I love it. After spending so much time with my characters, after I went through all emotions they went through, I find it's time others would participate. Many say it's a story made for Hollywood and it's true. It has all a romantic comedy needs, as well as a little mystery to keep you on your toes. Yes, I love my novel!

I love the process of writing the blurb, the synopsis and the query. Often, while writing the book, I already have the blurb finished. They synopsis is a bit trickier, but I only needed three rewrites to shorten it a little.

When I did my first round of submissions, I had a different blurb and got a few rejections. I recently changed it and am certainly pleased with it. After months of not paying attention to No Wings Attached, I decided to send it out again, to publishers as well as agents. I know I've got a good story that's entertaining for both, women and men, but to be fair, not many men would admit to have enjoyed my novel.

Now how to find an adequate agent/publisher? The answer: research, research and research. Nothing worse than sending out your manuscript to the wrong person. I do understand agent's frustrations getting children's books when all they do is erotica. And you will be deflated as well, because you'll get a rejection and nobody likes getting them. Me included.

Every time I hit the send-button, a feeling of anticipation overwhelms me. Will this be the one who takes my first three chapters and reads them in one go, then asks for more? And if so, will this agent be the person who will do everything to find a good home for my baby? I always prepare myself for the decline, better to expect the bad and be positively surprised, I think.

Though I'm not that worried. The publishing-business is tough and it's all about the money, there are plenty of writers out there who have a great marketable story and when the manuscript gets just in the right hands of an agent who happens to love this kind of books, then, you're in.

It's mainly luck, apart from having a money-making product that fits into the market in a few months. The only thing you should do is write another book and keep submitting, giving up is not an option. You need to believe in yourself, if you don't, how can you expect others to believe in you?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Writing your first novel

When I wrote my first novel, No Wings Attached, I hadn't got any idea of writing at all. The only thing I knew, was, I wanted to write what I would buy and also keeps me turning the pages. I started out with a complete different story, sent it to my friend, who is a copywriter, to see what she thinks. And, boy, did she rip it apart. (Thank you, Pidi, for all the time and effort you put into that book. I love you.)

I know I said it's better to not ask a friend, but if the friend has valuable knowledge of how to write, then you'd better give it to her, or him. So, after I got her comments and suggestions back, I sat down and had a thought.
Don't ask me how I ended up with this novel, the paranormal theme which almost borders at fantasy. I don't even read fantasy, I must say. But I did and the result is a book I'm reasonable proud of: a typical romance, packed with humour. Basically a romantic comedy, sprinkled with paranormal elements.

The whole process of writing and going though the rough plot-holes took me 2.5 months. During the evening, I wrote about 2000 words, and in the day, I edited. Then I researched quite a bit as well. When I thought my book is pretty and ready for submissions, I had to learn the hard way that this wasn't the case. Nowhere near it, to be honest.

Smart as I am, I targeted the big publishers first, and Harper Collins was one of my choice. That's when I learned of authonomy. I uploaded my manuscript there and got a lot of good comments, saying that this is real movie-material. Which, I believe so myself, it is.

A few were very helpful and pointed out my mistakes. This platform is fantastic to grow from. I studied threads about writing, punctuation, dialogue attributes, dos and don'ts, and went to reseach a lot, asking my best friend, google.

I also met a person I'd call my mentor. A master of editing, and with every new knowledge I gained, I went over my manuscript for another edit. There was a time I couldn't see it anymore, for I made all the mistakes a novice would make. During my editing-process, I lost about 40k.

Nowadays, I write with more precision, using the skills I gained to start out as perfect as possible. That takes longer, I write about 500 words on a good day, but when the book is finished, I only have to go through it one more time to polish it.

In addition to that, I try to be as flexible in genres as I can. Whereas humour is the one that seems to suit me best, my current book is literary fiction and I love this challenge.

Got told I'm doing a good job there, too, which encourages me to go ahead. The writing-business means learning on a daily basis, and that means you train you brain. A very good side effect if you ask me.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Written a book, and then?

Many will agree with me: writing is the easiest part of the book.

But what comes next? As a writer, you're basically a loner, withdrawn in the world you're creating. That means, you will have a book finished that you had in your head,
every single character, the storyline, the development is close to you.
Question is, is it any good? What do others think of your writing? To get a decent feedback, you need others to give you an opinion. Best would be to not ask friends or family as they are inclined to praise the book you've worked so hard for, and they don't want to hurt your feelings.

There are several online-communities that provide the comments we need. There, we might get pointed out the holes in the plot-development, where we went wrong with the characterisation, etc. With the right advice, we're able to edit our novel until it's ready to submit to agents and publishers. Editors, nowadays, are very selective people, so are agencies.

Another new site,, gives authors and their ready-to-submit manuscripts the opportunity to showcase their story. Alongside this platform runs a blog with similar features.

But, there's more to it. This site also has a publisher, an agent, and reviewer, who answer questions from the readers, and successfully published authors are posting their experiences in publishing.

There are videos, informations and advice about writing on AOS as well.

So, I'd recommend to have a look, make suggestions and become part of something good.

Have a nice weekend, all.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

An agent's point of view

Yesterday, I attended a workshop, held by a well-known agent, former buyer of fiction at Waterstones.

Although the workshop was called 'How to get an agent/to get published', I want to concentrate on her point of view regarding submissions.
Apart from the obvious like, addressing the agent in person, especially if there are more in that agency, doing the research etc. she gave some valuable information which gave me hope.

It is preached everywhere that you manuscript has to be perfect, or in a near-perfect condition to be considered by an agency. So far so good. But what defines 'perfect'?

Surely, it should be grammar and spell-checked. Also it should be punctuated as best as you can.

One of the attendants compared the submitting process to the music industries, saying that record companies used to get demos and had to decide if the raw quality is enough to make something out of it. Surprisingly the agent agreed to have experienced this in her job as well. She even said, that sometimes she prefers the rawness of a draft, 'hearing' the author's voice, rather than the one of many editors that went over it.

There are a lot of opinions about how and when agents decide it's not for them. For instance: the manuscript has punctuation errors, clearly a weakness of the author, they will reject you. Or: the writing is in first person present tense, rejected. Not starting with a big bang, rejected.

I learned yesterday that it isn't the case. At least not for this agency. She said, that when the query letter hooks her, she wants to see the synopsis (1 page A4, double spaced, by the way), and the whole manuscript. She stated that if the synopsis intrigues her, the book doesn't need to start off with a bang, she wants to see the story unfold. Also, that if the writing is compelling, but there are some issues that are not there yet, then she writes back to the author, addressing the points of concern, encouraging the author to send the revised material.

As she works for an agency that also offers editing, she'd be prepared to help the author with a punctuation issue, of course only if the writing appeals to her and she sees the saleability.

I must say, I left this workshop being uplifted, knowing that there are agents out there, who don't expect everything to be 'perfect' and that a missing word, some misplaced commas or the 'wrong' tense doesn't put them off, as long as they see a strong story and 'hear' your voice.

How she will react to my submission though, only time will show.


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The books I wrote

I started writing last year in March. It's an enormous pleasure to disappear into another world. I literally am in the scene with my main characters, feeling like being in a movie. I laugh with them; I cry with them.
This way, I know I'll deliver.

My first novel, 'No Wings Attached', is a paranormal romance with comic elements. The second book, 'And you think it's funny', is a collection of comical short stories and I'm about to start a third one which will be literary fiction.

I am also participating in an anthology and have many idea for different genres.
Simply said: I'm full of it.

I hope you enjoy your visit and have a giggle.