Thursday, February 28, 2008

Introducing bookersatz

I've taken on a new project. It was my idea, triggered by something I read on a forum, but I knew I couldn't do it on my own, so I enlisted some support. A brand new book blog, bookersatz, of which I am co-editor.

The aim is to have a book blog which reflects the reading tastes of all its contributors, with reviews ranging over over a wide range of genres and forms. Novels, short stories, poetry and non-fiction, we hope to have them all eventually. Our other aim is to encourage people to discuss the books through the comments function, to make it like a mini ongoing book group. We are all busy people, we don't necessarily have time to read books at a specific time. But we can all log onto a blog, look for a book that appeals, read it and then eventually pop back and add to the discussion. Or that is the theory, anyway.

Now this is where you all come in. Anyone is welcome to contribute a short book review, ideally 200-300 words, but up to 500 if needed. We have drawn up some basic guidelines for contributors, so if you are interested just email me (there is an email link in my Blogger profile). You will get a name credit on any review published on the blog, unless you want to stay anonymous, but that name could easily be your blog name with a link to your blog if you prefer. We want to know which books you have enjoyed.

And please, please, come and add to the discussion...

Three notable things:

1. The closing deadline for the War Child anthology has been extended to 9th March, to my relief. But they are asking for more funny pieces *sigh*. I don't do funny.

2. Son 2 went back to school today, but his bus was 30 minutes late arriving...

3. Son 1 had to say goodbye to yet another therapist today. We are anticipating a few potentially difficult weeks ahead.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tempus fugit

Sometimes I wonder where the time goes. During school holidays I get quite disorientated, the days merge into each other and I come out the other end wondering what I have done with my time. The answer is usually nothing much.

Half term for son 2 is officially over, but he now has three consecutive inset days so won't actually be returning to school until Thursday. He is bored. When he is bored he is hard work. So that is where my time has gone...

Three notable things:

1. I spent a Waterstones gift voucher on Saturday on the 3 for 2 offer...

2. I still haven't managed to write anything for a War Child anthology submission and I really want to be able to send something off.

3. I have had no opportunity to study, so will need to have a catch up session when school restarts.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Another charity book

I've just realised that I forgot to tell you about this, though you may well have read about it elsewhere. Anyway, it's not too late to send in a submission, entries will close at the end of February. I think I will have a go, if I can squeeze it in when son 2 returns to school next Thursday.

A small team, led by peach, is putting together a bloggers charity book to raise funds for War Child. Full details of the project and how to submit your work can be found here.

Three notable things:

1. Spent the day filling out disability benefit forms for son 1. Yawn.

2. Son 2 is in mischievous mood.

3. A neighbour has visibly lost weight since being banned from driving...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Half term again

It's half term here this week.

So far, it has been remarkably calm.

Today I've been looking into couple of new blogging projects which I will tell you about in due course if and when they are up and running. In the meantime I am sitting here feeling very smug because my course assignment, not due until Friday, is finished. In fact, Hubby has posted it for me today.

Three notable things:

1. I've just started to read 'Over' by Margaret Forster, which I am enjoying very much.

2. Son 2 has playscheme tomorrow, but son 1 has a medical appointment so I won't really get a break.

3. Look at the wonderful widget for Disraeli Avenue at the top of my sidebar. Just think how much writing could be prompted by the 'secrets'. I've contributed to them but I'm not going to tell you which... Why don't you share a secret too?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Out now - Disraeli Avenue

I've been waiting to tell you all about this. Those of you who don't already know, that is.

There is finally a new book by Caroline Smailes. A novella titled Disraeli Avenue, a companion piece to her novel In Search of Adam which is just out in paperback. Regular visitors will know how much I loved In Search of Adam so I have been waiting eagerly for this novella to be published.

The best news of all is that you can download it here as a free ebook, all that Caroline asks is that if possible a donation be made to the small charity One in Four, which supports adults who have suffered sexual abuse or violence. It is easy to do this via the JustGiving page she has set up.

Caroline (who really is Nice Caroline, I've met her) is already well on her way to achieving her initial fundraising target. I've just got my own download of Disraeli Avenue and I'm confident that I'm going to enjoy it as much as In Search of Adam, which was my book of 2007.

So what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a great book and help a very worthwhile charity at the same time. It's a no-brainer.

Three notable things:

1. My essay is finished. It just needs to be proofread over the weekend.

2. Half term now for a week and a half...

3. I treated myself to a Michael Buble CD in Tesco today. I think it might be good music to study to.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Something different for Valentine's Day

Thanks to Kate at the Open University for this.

(video removed due to virus)

Three notable things:

1. The essay is nearly written!

2. Son 2's horseriding did not go well. In fact he didn't get anywhere near the horse.

3. Son 1 has an interesting opportunity. I hope he will take it up.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Essay stress

Apologies for the recent silence.

I'm struggling to write an essay for my OU course. I read the material, I thought I understood it but can I structure an essay from it? No. I want to have this finished by the weekend. I need to have it finished by Monday and I just can't get my head around it. Argh.

Three notable things:

1. Coffee and a good gossip with a friend yesterday.

2. Son 2 was taken horseriding for the first time at school today. Not sure how successful it was, but at least he is having the opportunity to try.

3. Screenwriting tips in The Times this week.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

London burning

Yesterday I went into London for my first tutorial of the new OU course, held at Birkbeck College. The tutorial was early afternoon, which suited me well as we take son 2 to music therapy first thing on Saturday mornings.

Being cautious about time, I arrived quite early so decided to look for somewhere to have a coffee. The nearest place was Costa Coffee in the basement of the University branch of Waterstones. I had a rather tasteless decaf Americano and made a mental note to return to browse in the shop when the tutorial was over.

The tutorial itself was good. I am unable to attend the sessions held by own tutor, but we are free to attend any and this tutor seemed easy to understand and very nice. So far, so good.

Afterwards I did indeed go back to Waterstones, it is a fascinating academic branch with lots of floors and corners, reminiscent of Foyles. You'll be pleased to hear that I left without buying anything, since I have bought so many books lately.

Back at home in the evening, I was channel hopping on the TV when I came across the news coverage of the major fire at Camden market. I've visited Camden market in the past and Hubby worked in Camden Town for years, so we were fascinated. In fact the more we watched, we realised that the fire was in exactly the spot where he used to work. It is amazing that no one was injured or killed in such a big blaze in a very popular area.

Three notable things:

1. Lots of OU work to be done in the next week before half term starts!

2. Both sons had successes last week. Hopefully the coming week will be just as good.

3. We enjoyed the episode of CSI:NY last night which was based around the virtual world Second Life.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A political interlude

I don't really follow politics that closely and certainly not American politics, but I was struck by something in the speech given yesterday by Mitt Romney on standing down from the contest to become the Republican candidate for the Presidential elections:

"Europe is facing a demographic disaster. That is the inevitable product of weakened faith in the Creator, failed families, disrespect for the sanctity of human life and eroded morality..."

(source: BBC )

So the country which embraces the death penalty, Guantanamo Bay, waterboarding and the Jerry Springer show should be showing Europe the moral way forward?

I think not.

( For the record I have been to America, I have American friends and son 2 has American Godparents. I am not anti-America, just anti certain views and practices. I think America also forgets how much Europe (and especially Britain, with the common language), has been influenced by American life and culture.)

Three notable things:

1. I went out for a lovely lunch with friends today.

2. First tutorial in London for my new course tomorrow.

3. I've done no writing at all this week...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Another meme

How can I follow my last post?

A brief interlude for another meme, I think. I was tagged by Angie for this one last week, so here goes.

Link to the person that tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

1. I am a chocoholic.

2. I dont like turning right when I am driving and will sometimes go out of my way to avoid having to do so.

3. In the last two or three years I have probably bought enough books to last until I die.

4. I have a phobia of vomit.

5. I am a lifelong learner.

6. I hate the smell of petrol, so get my husband to fill up my car.

I know a lot of people have already done this one, so I'm going to break the rules and just ask anyone who wants to have a go.

Three notable things:

1. I got my final assessment back from the OU play writing course. All was well.

2. I spent a nice morning with an old work colleague who I dont see very often.

3. I am getting very tired of having to listen to Puff the Magic Dragon at home!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Your Messages

Your Messages was published yesterday, with a wonderful launch party at the Poetry Cafe. It was so amazing to have been part of such a wonderful literary experiment and online community and to help raise money for Kids Company. (If you would like to buy the book, clicking on the title link above will take you to Amazon)

It was a pleasure to finally meet the initiators of the project and editors of the book, Sarah Salway and Lynne Rees, who were both just as lovely as I had imagined them to be. (Warning: I think I might use the adjective lovely far too much in this post, simply because everyone was.)

It was a privilege to meet some of the other 40 contributors too, including Patricia Debney, whose novel, Losing You, is in my to-be-read pile, Caroline Smailes, whose first novel, In Search of Adam, and blog I adore, Clare Grant of the Three Beautiful Things blog and Leigh, another fellow Novel Racer.

The readings were all great. I think mine went reasonably well, the glass of red wine I had just drunk helped to ease any nerves. There was such a real sense of community among the gathered writers, some of whom, like me, were being published in print for the first time. Some had travelled a long way to be there, especially lovely Gina who had come all the way from Dallas, Texas.

When I first arrived Lynne welcomed me, gave me my contributor's copy of the book and immediately asked me to sign her copy. That set the tone for the evening, with books being passed around for signatures. During the break, I commented that this almost made me feel like a real writer, at which Sarah and Caroline, with whom I was standing, said in unison you are.

I guess I am now.

Three notable things:

1. Bluechrome produced a beautifully packaged book in just two months for Your Messages. A real achievement and it is a publisher worth watching, they have some great books on their list.

2. Back down to earth today, with a Tesco trip.

3. I've been doing some research on Creative Writing Masters degrees either in the London area or by distance learning. If anyone can help by telling me about their personal experiences of such courses, please leave a comment or email me.