Can’t Spell.

Who can’t spell?

Me.

Call yourself a writer and you can’t spell?

Yes, I do, despite a very nasty comment by some troll who picked up one of my blunders on a forum with no spell checker. God, how I love a spell checker function.

Why can’t I spell? Because, like so many others I am dyslexic, what was once called “word blind”. It’s been the bane of my life, it stopped me from writing many, many years because I couldn’t get down on paper what was rampaging through my head. When technology and I finally got it together and I was let loose on my first word processor, all the stories and people inside my head could come flooding out.

And, oh my, did they flood.

I wrote three full length novels (very, very full length) in the space of a year. Will they ever see the light of day ?…not without a hell of a lot of editing and revising and deleting the bits which make even me wince they won’t. Although “Jabin” is a distillation from that pot. I’ll tell you more about him another time.

What is it like being dyslexic?

It’s a pain in the backside and it makes you a very easy target for all the bullies out there, one more thing for them to point their destructive finger at and mock. For me hell on earth used to be reading out loud, because there was sure to be a word I would struggle with, one where the context wasn’t giving me a clue and where my carefully learnt phonetic tools didn’t play the game…the English language is peppered with these little “got ya” gems. It was even worse in a foreign language. One particular teacher of French got her kicks from picking on me when it was a difficult passage. I can see her smug self satisficed smile even now and the gloating smirk she had when ridiculing my struggle. Not all school bullies are kids.

Words like “were”, “where”, “was”, “what” etc. all had a tendency to look the same and out of context, especially on a flash card (possibly the worse way to tell a kid to read ever), I was stumped and, because I could recognise words like “church”…its got steeples…and “aeroplane”…cos its got two wings up and down…accused of not trying with all those so called “easy” words. “Through”, “though,” “tough”,”thought”, “there”, “their”, “then” and “them” were a bloody mine field.

When it came to essay writing and every bit of homework I ever produced, they were decorated with red ink and a curt “use of dictionary if you do not know how to spell a word”.

Great advice…if you know you’ve spelled it wrong! And no matter how often you read through something, if you are dyslexic, you are unlikely to see you’ve gone wrong. I once used the same word in an essay five times, I spelled it wrong each time and each time it was different!

Today I am much better than I was, you learn loads of little tricks as life progresses and the spell checker helps, but only up to a certain point. I often know the word I want to use, but I have NO idea how it is spelled, so little idea in fact that the spell checker does its equivalent of throwing in the towel; then it is off to Roget and The Concise Oxford to see if I offer them enough clues to find it. These days I quite enjoy the search.

How does this all work with the books I write? As an Indie and now a self publishing author, I have never had the luxury of a content author, but I have a small number of wonderful beta readers who do not hesitate to tell me if I have let standards slip or have made a complete hash of the plot line…thank you, people, I love you and couldn’t manage without you.

And I have my two line editors. One is the military historian of course, whose complete inability to understand subtly or poetry in words keeps me from almost all moments of self indulgence (not all of then, I manage to slip the odd bit of romanticism by him every now and then) and the other is Dave, who finds all the nits. I feel bad asking him to do this, but he recently said it was not too bad, because he now knows all my dyslexic stumbling blocks and spot them coming. Thanks, hon. I am so grateful to you and for all you do for me.

If you want to check out Dave’s brilliant work, go and have a look my book page.

Please click follow to join me in my writing, cooking, quilting world.

 

 

Ye banks and braes

To my astonishment and enormous delight, several people have enjoyed “Mrs Lillicrop Investigates” and it is possible the story will see the light of publication in the not to distant future. More later.

It has inspired me to write another tale about my lady occult detective. It is very much work in progress, but the working title is “Mrs Lillicrop Goes to Scotland.” The cast of characters so far includes a handsome laird, a nervous wife, a difficult mother-in-law and batty sister-in-law in need of a good slap, several manifestations of a disruptive nature and a very drafty castle. Add over cooked venison, under cooked mutton, porridge, lashing of single malt and some shortbread and all the components of the occult are present.

Why Scotland I hear you cry…okay I don’t, but bear with me I’m in composition mode and its hard to turn it off. Two reasons…first,  my BFF has just up sticks from Kent and the roar of planes overhead for the tranquil beauties of Argyll and sea loch views. She tells me she is still getting used to the lack of noise, except for when the dog considers it is his duty to bark at all passing boats in case they are carrying invaders.

And second, because I fell in love with the Highlands when we visited a few years ago and I wanted to set a story there. And this is in spite of nearly being killed by a gentleman who’d had a liquid breakfast and decided to sleep it off while driving along the A96 straight at me. We left our written off car at a garage by Culloden, which some how seemed appropriate.

Even this excitement didn’t put me off and I really wanted to write something set in this beautiful land, but until now, nothing came to mind. I admit that Fara in “The Lord of the Farans Hills” is a thinly disguised Scotland, but it isn’t the real thing.

Its not just the beauties of the Scots scenery which calls to me, it is tradition and one particular tradition more than any other. More years ago than I like to remember, I married a military historian and got corrupted by The British Army. I was a little corrupted already, having been seduced by Regency Romances into reading up on the Peninsula War and falling for such characters as Johnny Kincaid, Sir John Moore and Harry Smith…there will now be a brief pause while I and the previously mentioned military historian who is reading this over my shoulder have our usual fight over what he has the audacity to call “a bunch of cocky little bastards in green jackets” and I call my beloved Rifle Brigade…hang on, there maybe hitting.

Back to Scotland…you can guess where I’m going, all those glorious regiments with their wonderful names…The Black Watch, The Gordons, The Cameronians etc etc.

Someone once asked me if I was going into battle (please god it never happens, read military history, it will make you a pacifist faster than anything else) who would I want surrounding me. Membership of my army has changed over the years, but one choice always remains, I want Highlanders in front.

Who goes on the right and left flank…go for it Macaulay!

Then out spake Spurius Lartius,—

A Ramnian proud was he:

“Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,

  And keep the bridge with thee.”

And out spake strong Herminius,—
       
  Of Titian blood was he:

“I will abide on thy left side,

  And keep the bridge with thee.”

I’d apologise for that if I had any restraint or a grain of conscience.

So who will be on the flanks or even bringing up the rear? My adored Rifles, any regiment of Sikhs or Gurkhas you care to name and the Brigade of Guards…all of them, we aren’t doing this by halves. With a Highland regiment advancing, pipes sounding, I think there would be a good chance of surviving the day.

The Highlands, the mountains and the lochs, the forests and the heather, it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and if you have never seen it, you should. Robert Burns said “My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,” and English as I am through and through, I think he might have been right.
   

Author Torture 2

Today’s author for torture is Richard Rhys Jones, author of such warm cosy reads as “Division of the Damned” and “The Sisterhood of the Serpent”.

Go here to get the full down load.

http://divisionofthedamned.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-me.html

Richard (Reggie to his mates) is one of my oldest writing buddies, so I have no conscience about throwing into my interrogation chamber.

You are marooned on a desert island and find a magic lamp. You get the traditional three wishes, but keep in mind I’m not letting you off the island, so don’t start pleading or trying to escape. You can only have one practical item, other people will not be allowed and will be taken away and dumped on an island far, far away and the wish forfeited. Smut is permitted if it makes me laugh.

Firstly, hiya Bev 😀

Right, to business. First item would have to be a computer of some sort, with solar charged batteries. It’s all very well being cast away with nothing to do, and after the first year of sunning myself in the shade, (I’m ginger, we don’t do sun), barbequing the rations I cleverly salvaged, drinking the barrels of beer I bartered for pretty seashells from some passing pirates, and generally recouping my strength, I reckon I’ll be good to start writing again.

Secondly some sort of satellite television set up, with Sky Sports etcetera.

I mean roughing it is one thing, but missing the footy, rugby or boxing..? Or even game of Thrones, Vikings and Stranger Things!!!

Hello? Seriously?

Oh come on, I’m stranded on a desert island, not cast down to the fiery depths of hell to repent my sins for all of eternity!!

Thirdly I’d need some form of tin opener. A General Purpose Machine Gun would do, with about 20,000 rounds and the necessary servicing equipment and oils.

Your library is on fire and you’re only going to be able to save three books, name them. And as your own are save on the memory stick in your dressing gown pocket, the books in question will have to be someone else’s work J

Credit will not be given for naming my books, but there may be cake.

Only three?

That’s inhuman!! Have you no soul, woman?

Okay… sorry, this could take some time, I have to go look.

First book would have to be Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft. There’s something about how he writes that really clicks with me. Long winded, over the top prose, that dallies around with its message until you’re nigh on screaming at the page, “Get bloody well on with it!” is not my style, but I like it, strangely.

The Collected works of Bernard Cornwell, (HA! See what I did there? That’s how I tricked those witless pirates out of fifty barrels of Hobgoblin Real Ale for a handful of shells. I’m as cunning as a ninja fox with a degree in Blackadder quotes, and just as red). Bernard Cornwell is my fave author, I haven’t read one bad book with his name on it, and I’ve also tried to emulate him in my plot delivery, (i.e. Have the hero practically being hung, drawn and quartered before he’s saved… I hope I haven’t spoiled any of my books for anyone there?)

Finally, The Secrets of Castle Drakon, which sadly never made it to print, but holds a wealth of cool stories from writer friends I’m glad to say I’m still in contact with.

(As I am one of those cool writers, there will be cake, possibly Coffee and Walnut, but not Battenberg because I don’t like marzipan.)

 

 You are going to be hanged in the morning, what would your last meal be if money was no object? Please don’t ask for something which will take three years to grow or six days to cook, because at 6am the trap door will open under you.

Steak and chips, fifty litres of Hobgoblin or Bombardier. At a pinch, Pedigree.

 

Pets. While I agree that a cat or a dog or a guinea pig is probably best in the modern home, what, if anything, would you house if you had the chance. Points will be given for anything extinct, but not for anything mythical, because that would be cheating.

Okay, if the food and vet bills were covered, and he/she was house trained, a sabre toothed tiger. Seriously, how cool would it be to ride into work on one of those?

“By the power of Greyskull!” I’d shout at the boss, smashing his table in two with my sword to demand a long overdue pay rise. I’m smiling right now.

 

Driving. We all do it, we all bitch about the traffic and by and large most of us drive what we can afford, not what we would like. What would you like to drive, points will be deducted for excessive petrol head indulgence, I expect more imagination from an author, but will be added for greener alternatives.

This obviously excludes a desire for a red Ferrari, because if you don’t want one of those, you need help.

A 1972 Volkswagen Beetle convertible. I know it’s daft, but I really like them. I only used the date 1972 to show around which era of VW beetle I desired. They’re quirky, understated, reliable and born out of a time of strife, I make it sound like a Tolkien character don’t I? Well, that’s my choice, and a car I hope to purchase when the kids are not sucking our finances dry 😉

I’d sooner drive a Lada than a Ferrari.

 

Now from some “either or” questions, mainly because I like picking the eithers and the ors, but also because I like to see which of the lesser of two weevils you pick. (Small Jack Aubrey joke there, indulge me, I have these moments.)

Gouda or Gorgonzola?

Gouda. I despise smelly cheese.

Star Wars or Star Trek? (Careful here, much could depend on your pick)

Star Wars, but it’s close.

Lychee or kumquat?

Lychee.

Winnie the Pooh or Paddington?

Poohbear, the dude is so wise, or backward? I could never tell if I’m honest.

Whelk or Oyster?

Whelk. Whelks in a garlic sauce is incredibly tasty, actually… regardless of the fact it looks like a plate of dog vomit and baby aliens.

Vampires or Zombies?

Vampires, another close one though.

Laver bread or Hovis?

Hovis. Laver bread is yuck, and that’s coming from a proud Welshman.

Light sabre or phaser?

Phaser. I reckon I’d fail dismally wielding a light sabre.

 

Moving on…yes, I know the laver bread one was evil…What is your favourite book title? Pick one of your own and one by someone else. Mine are

“The Tattooed Tribes” and “Amazing Maisie and the Cold Porridge Brigade.”

And no, I didn’t just make the last one up.

A very obscure author by the name of David Evans once wrote a book called, “Does God speak through cats?”. That one tickled me. There are millions of joke book titles out there, but that one is a real book dealing with the authors awakening to the spirituality of his pet… madness.

The favourite title in my sparse library of publications is, “The Chronicles of Supernatural Warfare”. What we were thinking when Paul Rudd and myself christened that baby only Cthulhu knows?

Because you have been very good and not screamed all that much, you tell me what you are currently working on and when we can expect to see it in print.

At the moment, absolute squat.

I took a promotion two years ago and that seems to have squeezed any ounce of authorly inspiration out of me. I have bursts now and then, on Division of the Damned part 2 and another that’s way off the weirdness scale in plotlines, but nothing is constant. I don’t itch to prowl the keyboards and let my story-telling soul dribble out of my fingertips like I used to, sadly.

Whatever, things are looking up, and I reckon another couple of months will see me going back to it… I hope :/

Thank you for being a victim of my interrogation parlour. I hope you had a bit of fun.

With you Bev, always you kinky mare. x

Thanks for having me.

And thank you for playing, but I will get you for the “kinky mare” remarked. xx

 

“For I am Welsh, good my countryman”

Weird and Wonderful

Not so long ago I went to see someone about my inner demons. To be honest, it was not a success, the demons had a lovely day out, released from the prison I try to keep them confined in. They raced up and down my memory paths gleefully shouting “remember this?” and it took me weeks to shove them back to where they belong.

I realise now that the best way to deal with them is to write them out. The biggest of the little buggers has been dealt with in a book I call “Jabin” which I will be re-releasing in a couple of months, but some of the lesser ones are trapped in my weird short stories.

Not all of them of course and I think I will need to write a lot more ofodd tales before I get shot of most of them.

That deals with “weird”, so what about “wonderful”. Well, wonderful is the memories I have built in the years of my marriage and of motherhood. Its been a wonder to me to see what a decent caring father can bring to the raising of decent caring kids. These memories are stuffed into “The Tattooed Tribes” ( as well as all my ecology ideals and worries) and they are also in “The Lord of the Faran Hills”, a completely new book which I will be bringing out just as soon as the beta reader and the editor stop laughing hysterics over the fluffs and typos. It is also stuffed with mercenaries, muskets and a delicious little bit of siege warfare which I spent two happy days war gaming…back to soldiers, I can help it, I have a deep seated affection for the military.

To be fair, you did already know I was a little bit around the bend, all I just did was confirms it.

Anyway, you can see some of my inner demons exposed in all their glory here

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

And here

Amazon
Amazon UK

I love wolves and I love looking at the moon.

 

Author Torture 1: Justin Lee Anderson

I thought it would be fun to interview a few fellow authors.

Actually, I thought it would be more fun to torment a few fellow authors, so welcome to the torture parlour ( its a bit like a torture chamber, but with cushions, chintz and shag pile carpets).

My first victim is Justin Lee Anderson author of the highly original and very amusing “Carpet Diem”.

HERE WE GO

You are marooned on a desert island and find a magic lamp. You get the traditional three wishes, but keep in mind I’m not letting you off the island, so don’t start pleading or trying to escape. You can only have one practical item, other people will not be allowed and will be taken away and dumped on an island far, far away and the wish forfeited. Smut is permitted if it makes me laugh.

Hmmm. What constitutes “practical”? Can I have a fully-fitted smarthouse? Because, at that point, I’m probably good. Oh, wait, I’m going to want internet. And a laptop. Will Sainsbury’s deliver?

Your library is on fire and you’re only going to be able to save three books, name them. And as your own are save on the memory stick in your dressing gown pocket, the books in question will have to be someone else’s work J

Credit will not be given for naming my books, but there may be cake.

Yikes! I think my beautiful, old leather-bound copy of Wuthering Heights has to come. After that, it’s two signed books, I think, since I can replace the rest. So Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself and the first run version of Jasper Fforde’s First Among Sequels, which was accidentally printed without footnotes (which are essential to the plot!).

You are going to be hanged in the morning, what would your last meal be if money was no object? Please don’t ask for something which will take three years to grow or six days to cook, because at 6am the trap door will open under you.

A fillet steak, with whisky-cream sauce, garlic and rosemary roast potatoes and asparagus tips. For dessert, home-made apple crumble with Luca’s ice cream. And if I’m off in the morning anyway, a bottle of Lagavulin – why die sober?

(You and I could share a last meal, Justin, although I’d swap the asparagus for mushrooms and there should be cheese after the pud.)

Pets. While I agree that a cat or a dog or a guinea pig is probably best in the modern home, what, if anything, would you house if you had the chance. Points will be given for anything extinct, but not for anything mythical, because that would be cheating.

Annoyingly, I love animals, but am horribly allergic to them. So I’d actually just love to be able to house a cat or a dog! But in the absence of an allergy cure, maybe a dolphin? They’re pretty smart, I’m sure they’d make great conversationalists. Plus, no hair on the sofa. Bonus.

Driving. We all do it, we all bitch about the traffic and by and large most of us drive what we can afford, not what we would like. What would you like to drive, points will be deducted for excessive petrol head indulgence, I expect more imagination from an author, but will be added for greener alternatives.

This obviously excludes a desire for a red Ferrari, because if you don’t want one of those, you need help.

I have always wanted a Jag. I imagine I will always want a Jag! A nice, racing green one. They’re such elegant machines. I’d also quite like a Tesla. Great looking car, but saving the world at the same time. Either one would make me very happy. Is there an electric Jag, yet?

Now from some “either” “or” questions, mainly because I like picking the eithers and the ors, but also because I like to see which of the lesser of two weevils you pick. (Small Jack Aubrey joke there, indulge me, I have these moments.)

Gouda or Gorgonzola?

Gorgonzola – especially on pizza, with spinach and walnuts.

Star Wars or Star Trek? (Careful here, much could depend on your pick)

Both, please. If I *have* to pick one, then Wars. But I resent having to pick.

Lychee or kumquat?

Flumhoo or blipblop?

 

(Ah, poor little kumquat, I fear you are not loved)

Winnie the Pooh or Paddington?

Probably Winnie the Pooh, for his philosophical insights. Plus, I hate marmalade.

Whelk or Oyster?

Never had whelk. Don’t mind oysters. Prefer mussels, if that’s all right? In garlic, white wine and cream. With fries.

Now I’m hungry.

Vampires or Zombies?

Both! Stop making me pick between things I love!

Laver bread or Hovis?

I don’t eat bread. It doesn’t agree with me. The fights go on for days.

Light sabre or phaser?

Light sabre. I’m all about the elegant.

Moving on…yes, I know the laver bread one was evil, but I did say I was into torture…book titles. Speaking for myself, book titles are the hardest part of writing, it took me six months to come up with the title of my first book, “Jabin”.

What is your favourite book title? Pick one of your own and one by someone else. Mine is

“Amazing Maisie and the Cold Porridge Brigade.”

And no, I didn’t just make that up.

Well, Carpet Diem being my only finished book so far, that’s an easy choice. Someone else’s? I like The Shadow of the Wind. Even before I read it, that title drew me in. It’s just so evocative – and I don’t even know what of!

Because you have been very good and not screamed all that much, you tell me what you are currently working on and when we can expect to see it in print.

I’m currently writing a sequel to Carpet Diem, working title: Discombobulated and Befuddled – but that will probably change – though I might keep it as an alternative title. It *should* be out by the end of the year – muse permitting. (My muse, not the band. They’re happy to let me write.)

Thank you for being a victim of my interrogation parlour. I hope you had a bit of fun.

You’re welcome. I did, thank you!

Carpet Diem is available here