Thursday, 31 May 2012

Opium for London!

Got your hopes up, eh? I'm terribly sorry, but I couldn't come up with a better title. To be fair, it's a rather suitable one because I'm mainly reporting about the roof garden and there, the poppies have begun to flower. I don't think I've ever seen one up close or even touched one, but I can now say they're really really pretty. Interesting that they come in different colours and the pale one looks a big creased. Nature is a wonderful thing.
We also have our first tomatoes and courgettes flowering and the nasturtium, too. Sun and water are the main ingredients for growing. Speaking of water, here a fun picture:
Four water cans, three tabs (on opposite sides of the garden) and I. Since the hosing ban, we can only water with watering cans and let me tell you, the about 80 boxes we have take a lot of it. So there was me, running back and forth between the tabs and the flower beds and in between the guys who put up the inflatable roof. (Fascinating how much work is involved and how long it takes.) Every now and again I poured some fluid (tea) into me, and then went ahead. My arms are certainly a few inches longer and my already flat feet are now straight, methinks.
When all was done, three hours had gone and I thought it's time for a beer. I was joined by the florist, whose flowerpots I also watered, leaving him jobless for the day. I honestly didn't know they employed a gardener and I was in full swing with my watering, so I just poured water into anything that looked dry. Erin, and I had a good laugh over a beer. A knackering, but pleasant day it was. Guess I'll sleep well tonight.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Size does matter!

Yep, I like it big. When it comes to mugs, that is. On my way to buy several items to stock up my first aid kit -- needed, but more about that later -- I went into the discount shop around the corner. Major error! Especially after I had succeeded to ditch a straight red cup at Tesco, though only 57p and perfect for the garden. (Nothing better than arriving and before moving one finger having a cuppa, right?) I'm a tea addict, love it at any time of the day and I drink plenty, too.
So, successfully leaving Tesco with band aids and scissors, I went to get a massive blue roll to clean the vivarium. That's when I stumbled over this wonderfully shaped, big black and white mug. It's not the most brilliant design, but the shape made me buy it. £1.50, by the way. As soon as I came home, I cleaned it and am now having a Lady Grey with milk and sugar as I type this post. If you could see my smile... I think I'm in love.
Maybe I'm a little bit weird, but honestly, I have a mug for every drink: the beige one and the newest addition for black tea, the red one only for fruit tea, and the blue one for coffee/hot or cold chocolate. And so you understand the measurements: they all have the capacity (roughly) of a pint!

And I needed a tea. Earlier today, my not so much fire spitting dragon jumped forward to bite me. Unlucky for me, the wall of his house was in my way and I couldn't withdraw my hand quick enough, so his teeth got caught in my flesh. First I thought he'd only scratched my thumb, then I saw that I also bled from a cut over the knuckle of my index finger. Well, I'm used to this sort of injuries and fortunately, it wasn't too deep or long (approx. 1cm). Was able to stop the bleeding shortly after and pulled  the skin on my hand together with two little band aids, so it didn't gape and let any germs in. On top I fixed a pressure bandage to still the bleeding. That's basically what they do in hospitals, too, instead of stitching. Very handy those mini band aids. But please, children, don't do this at home. I know when it's necessary to go to the A&E. Today's bite was something I could handle easily myself.
To the right you see a well chuffed iguana and a slightly battered hand. ----->

Let me tell you, had I gone to the garden instead I would've had another sun burn, but that would have healed quicker than this bite. :-) Then again, he's in mating season already and I am rather happy he's not as wild as he was last year. If he stays 'calm' like this for the next five months, I'll be a very happy Iguana owner.

Okay, here a few lovely pictures from the big boy in a much happier mood (watch the legs hanging down) and on a stroll through my flat.
Click on images to enlarge.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

I declare war to making love. A rant

You read correctly, I hate 'making love'. Not the act itself, that would just be silly, but the term. Making love? I'm sick to my teeth reading it in novels. What's wrong with having sex, sleeping together, fucking, etc.? No, it seems it needs to be 'making love' and for a guaranteed projectile vomiting, best to add a sweet! Seriously? We made sweet love? Gee, can you see me shuddering here?
Yesterday, I finished a book in which I had to read 'making love' and my eyes almost came out of my sockets holding back the bile. It was just there, suddenly, unexpected and without any warning. How could I've known that the author had decided to use 'making love'? Had I known, I would have skipped that section. I find if authors feel the need to use it, they should put a warning in the blurb, saying the book contains some love making. To hit me over the head just like that, isn't part of the deal!
When I then started the next book, I was actually looking forward to, and had to read 'making love' in the opening chapter, I screamed. I kid you not. It was about midnight and I screamed! I immediately hit the delete button on my Kindle. I can't take it anymore. Why do I need to be told that the couple, freshly in love 'made love'? What else would I think? That he'd rape her, perhaps? To me it's enough to read they spend the night, because it's clear they'll have sex, that's what people do who love each other, for fuck's sake. Pun most certainly intended.
It is possible to give a reader an idea on how long, how often and how intense it is, without using 'making love'. Are you sick of 'making love', yet? See how annoying that expression is? I'm overusing it on purpose so you can share my pain.
Recently, I talked to my friends Bobby, John and Piddi about it and all of them agreed that they don't want to read it in a novel, nor do they want to hear that ever from somebody about to have sex with them.
When I suggested to ask the following next time: May I insert my penis into your vagina, please?  it got me howls of laughter. You must understand, we had a few beers.
I think I could have the greatest man before me, as soon as he'd say 'I want to make love to you,' with or without the 'sweet', I'd be running as fast as my legs can carry me.
Terrible! Terrible! Just terrible!

There. I said it. And here you have some animal porn, poor guy must be hoarse:


Now go, grab your man or your woman, or both if you like and have some serious sex. It's summer. :-)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Waiting for the bratwurst to come...

YES! The summer's here. Finally. It's hot in London and there's not a single cloud in sight. Perfect weather for gardening, which means brushing up the tan (getting sunburned), have a lazy afternoon with a few beers or in my case, shandy, and come home hungry as if you haven't eaten in days. So much that I grabbed the big fat German Bratw├╝rste from my local Tesco when all I wanted was to get some mozzarella for my salad. I think I never climbed the stairs that quickly, and as soon as I came in I ripped the electric barbecue from its box and just minutes later, the Bratw├╝rste were sizzling away. In the meantime, I made the salad. 
Do you know the feeling of delicious smell having you drool? I mean I almost ate those bloody sausages raw. And why is it that we always want to barbecue when it's sunny? Or is it just me? I can eat piles of meat, vegetables and salad in the summer. No need for anything else. 
Anyway, I just wanted to share that I really enjoy the wonderful weather. Hope you have a fine weekend, too. I think I'll have to pass on the garden tomorrow, my skin will thank me for that. Time to catch up on the writing anyway.
But I'm thinking about bringing the dragon with me on Monday.That'll be interesting. He's normally so laid back, but I don't know how he'll react to the outside. Of course I'll have to have a makeshift leash since it only needs something or someone to spook him and I (nobody) wouldn't be fast enough to catch him. Don't want him to escape and jump to death. Although there might be a story in a suicidal iguana...


I'll report on the adventures of Zorro.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

About the unnecessity of prologues


Most of them, that is. I dislike those that were just added for the sake of it. Why would people do that? Prologues only have a place when they're relevant, for instance, when, in Fantasy or Science Fiction, characters of the here and now will appear in future and what they are discovering, the quarrels or change to the landscape they're in are important to the storyline which takes place either centuries or years ahead. 

Or, if it sets the scene for the whole book, referring to significant changes to the world the characters live in. That I will read with interest.

But too many times, prologues are either the back story of characters I don't even know yet, hence not really care about, or they are an excerpt of the novel, which spoils the plot for me. I want to read it and find out for myself.

In many cases, prologues can be avoided and easily interwoven in the actual book. Let me give you an example: I'm currently reading a book where the prologue shows a female dancer on the height of her career, just proposed by her long-term (extremely unlikable, arsehole) boyfriend, in a car, on the way to her parents, in a thunderstorm. They have an accident.

The actual story starts seven years later, she's not with that guy anymore and not an active dancer, but a dance teacher. The author is regularly referring to the past, to her ex, to the accident as it's the cause for her not being able to dance without pain anymore.
I keep wondering what purpose this prologue served. Those few pages could have easily been combined into two sentences of back story when we actually know more about that woman and how much dancing means to her, and the new man in her life, for that matter. If the author wrote, she danced with pain, the reader wonders why, and there she could've mentioned the accident. Simple and most effective.

And I read plenty of prologues like that. Redundant, in my opinion. If you need to write a prologue, do it because it would enhance the novel, needs to be there. Not because you like the word 'prologue' so much.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Writers, authors and editors -- one sack and a baseball bat

See that baseball bat? Yes? Good, because I want you to remember it. Why, you wonder? Well, let me explain...
You know when everyone tells you to leave your problems at the door when you come to the office? Yes? Right, be assured that it doesn't apply for your writing and editing, dear writers, authors and editors! For writing or editing you will need your brain. Surprised? Yes, so am I when I read things like: Running down the stairs, she pulled on her jeans.
Excuse me, but would you have the grace to explain to me how one would be able to fulfil such an impossible task, or tasks for that matter? Just asking. I've tried and tried to picture it, to no avail. How do you do that? I reckon it would result in at least some severe bruises, broken limbs or if it goes terribly wrong in a snapped neck, which, as we all know, would be a not so positive outcome. Expected, yes, wanted, no. Let alone that you normally pull on jeans as you are probably rushing to answer the door, unless you want to open in your knickers, but then there's no need to mention the jeans anyway.
Just recently I had to read a sentence like this: Walking into the kitchen, she opened the fridge.
Really? So the fridge was basically placed smack bang in the door, which, unless she's a skinny bitch and not a fat cow like me, might make it a tad difficult to access the kitchen, which then would mean she didn't even get to walk into the kitchen to open the fridge, right? And what would happen if the kitchen was several feet long and the fridge was placed at the end? Does she have extremely long arms or something long in her hand to open the fridge? Then she must be quick because walking into the kitchen takes one step only. Unless, she has a fridge connected with a mechanism that opens it the second she steps over the threshold. Can you see my problem here? No?
Okay here's another fun example: Tying her shoe laces, she ran a mile.
Gee that woman must have an extreme balance being able to tie her laces while running a mile. You could say, yes, but she hopped on one leg, but that wouldn't be running now, would it?
Or how about this little beauty? Opening the bin, she threw away the rubbish.
Wow, how smart of her. I think I never saw someone in their house throwing the rubbish onto the closed bin, unless they had more drinks than they could manage, but that's not the point.
Understand my problem now? I could merrily go on pulling examples out of my non existent hat.
Want proof? Here we go: Opening the door, she took a seat behind the wheel.
Now how would that work out? Try it out for yourself and send me a picture if you manage to do both at the same time.
And another one: Taking a sip of his coffee he mumbled, 'What a bloody idiot.'
Yeah, one could only hope he referred to himself, because taking a sip and mumbling would end up messy, with coffee generously sprayed around the kitchen. If he was in the kitchen, that is. Sipping would imply you're sucking in the fluid, how would you be able to mumble at the same time? Eh? Correct! Not possible.
Writers and authors seem to love this sort of writing and editors seem to have left their brains with their problems at the door; there's no other explanation for this sort of insult to a reader. This reader in particular.
Unless it's two things you can do together, like walking and singing, cleaning and listening to music, drinking and watching, please stop torturing me and possibly others. Every time you see such sentences in your writing, or you, editors, in authors' writing, I want you to feel hit over the head with that baseball bat, which hopefully will prompt you to rephrase as shown below.
She walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge.
She pulled on her jeans and ran down the stairs. 

Phew, that felt good. I'm glad we got that sorted!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Tip of the week: challenge yourself

By that I mean, try to improve by writing something outside your genre, experiment with point of view, use different ways to describe things, invent unconventional characters, in short: step out of your comfort zone.
I had a chat with my friend when she was in London to visit me and we spoke about character building, the way they're thinking, etc. She said she was mainly amazed on how I created the inner world of my characters and asked me how I did it, if it took me ages to build them for each character or if it came to me naturally.

At first I paused, thinking about the 'how', wondering if I purposefully build the world in their heads or not, then came to the conclusion that I don't. My characters are all very different, at least in my latest work in progress, they are distinct in looks, the way they act and react to each other. The biggest challenge is to write a complex male character, which my friend thought I did very well. When handling various characters I turn into a woman with multiple personality disorder, I slip into the roles of each of them and head hop, having discussions with myself. And believe it or not, it's rather much fun. In general, I observe people closely, the way they mimic, look at each other, touch each other. It probably helps a lot to have good male friends and I'm not afraid to ask them openly, be it about how they think, what they think, how they feel, what goes on in their heads when having sex, etc. And luckily, they give me honest answers, even though after being a little startled at first.

Since I started writing, I continuously changed the genre and topics, in short stories as well as novels, and improved my style. It was a little weird at first, but I adapted relatively soon to the new challenge.
Take the Thriller and the torture scenes, for instance. I never thought that writing graphic scene of violence can be so much fun or even the omniscient point of view, which I hated with a passion beforehand. Doing something new has taught me I can do more than comedy and romance and that I actually enjoy it. So if you are stuck with a work in progress, why not try something completely different? I can only encourage you, even if it's only a flash fiction piece.