Write for five minutes a day [see link].
Also, is Scrivener worth using?
My original reading challenge for this year (2016) was to finish 250 books and I think I read 21 or maybe 22. I’m quite happy with 22. I still love that number, though. The hugeness of 250 – the five-books-a-week of it – pleases me inordinately. However, the loveliness of reading 250 books is only fun in theory. At no point has it inspired me to actually read more than I do.
It’s a far-off adventurous challenge that I can dismiss as I knit and crochet and watch Four in a Bed on All4 as I dye yarn all night.
So this morning I had a more specific idea: I will finally make myself a reading list of the writers I have wanted to read for years but never got around to. I will read the MediaLens books I have yet to read, Chomsky, John Pilger, Naomi Klein, George Monbiot, The Racket, etc. Namely investigative and corruption-exposing books that are helpful. Helpful in what way? Um… in learning about the real world and not that proposed by the MSM. Primarily, using trusted sources for information.
Information about what? What do I want to find out?
I’m not sure. In the short term it’s how do we get to a place where the Conservative have 40% support while the state is being destroyed and public services eradicated?
On a broader theme, it’s: how to create a political movement that supports each individual in society? “From each according to his ability to each according to his needs.”
The world is facing imminent catastrophe and little seems to be said about changing behaviours and what we can do to save it. This is utterly bizarre to me. I also believe that change starts from where you are so local is where I need to focus.
My goal is to somehow see how Buddhism, capitalism, the propaganda model and Bristol all combine to demonstrate how the Green Party has failed to gain greater support. It’s quite lucky that my constituency, Bristol West, is one of the prize ones for the Green Party and one of the few in the country that have a chance at voting in a Green MP. Our leading candidate is Green MEP Molli Scot Caio so European matters will be on the list too.
Next up – the List.
The Propaganda Model
European Parliament? (to come soon)
(I also want to work on my Bristol Literature list but that’s another topic for another post)
The next meeting for Bristol Book Group Social
Time: 8pm, Thursday 19th of January 2017
Place: King William Pub. 20 King St, Bristol, Avon BS1 4EF (upstairs part)
Books: The Night Manager by John le Carré, Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes and Bad Science by Ben Goldacre. Reading all of the books is not required, pick whichever one interests you the most.
We’ll be meeting again in February, when we’ll be discussing Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene, His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet and The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller.
You can find Bristol Book Group Social on Facebook.
“Edward Hopper is surely the greatest American narrative painter. His work bears special resonance for writers and readers, and yet his paintings never tell a story so much as they invite viewers to find for themselves the untold stories within.”
So says Lawrence Block, who has invited seventeen outstanding writers to join him in an unprecedented anthology of brand-new stories: In Sunlight or In Shadow. The results are remarkable and range across all genres, wedding literary excellence to storytelling savvy.
Contributors include Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Olen Butler, Michael Connelly, Megan Abbott, Craig Ferguson, Nicholas Christopher, Jill D. Block, Joe R. Lansdale, Justin Scott, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Warren Moore, Jonathan Santlofer, Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child, and Lawrence Block himself. Even Gail Levin, Hopper’s biographer and compiler of his catalogue raisonee, appears with her own first work of fiction, providing a true account of art theft on a grand scale and told in the voice of the country preacher who perpetrated the crime.
In a beautifully produced anthology as befits such a collection of acclaimed authors, each story is illustrated with a quality full-color reproduction of the painting that inspired it.
What I thought: this collection of short stories promises a lot and delivers superbly. It’s hard to see how it could fail with such writers as King and Olen Butler amongst those chosen but it’s not only the writing. Hopper’s work is ideally suited for narrative explanation; for the befores and afters. A couple on a porch or a woman at a window. The paintings may have been left as ambiguous and undefined but these writers take up what was left unsaid.
This was one of my favourite books this year.
In Sunlight or in Shadow, edited by Lawrence Block.
I have far too many half-written book reviews unposted so I’m going to ignore them for a second and post about books for Christmas from DK. [NOT SPONSORED] They sent a list of their books to see what I thought and these are the ones I liked – and we have some of them.
Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual History, Updated Edition presents the full story of Star Wars, including all the latest additions to the saga, just in time for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. £35
Baby Touch and Feel Christmas – £3.99 Ages 0-2 We got this one for Lois. It’s very sweet: explore the sparkly world of snowflakes and Santa together with this touchy feely book.
The slipcase for the books lights up when you press a button to illuminate the sparkling coral reef and help find Dory. It contains the Finding Dory Essential Guide and the Finding Dory Ultimate Sticker Book.
The Ultimate Peter Rabbit £14.99
This special anniversary edition celebrates 150 years since Beatrix Potter’s birth. Packed with artworks and insight from the Potter estate archives.
The ultimate garden reference book that comes in a carry-box.
LEGO fun for every day of the year. This book is packed with fun and quirky activities, such as: build your own LEGO pet; challenge your friends to make the tallest LEGO tower against the clock; and learn how to make a stop-motion LEGO movie.
LEGO Winter Wonderland Ultimate Sticker Collection – £7.99
Lots of Lego this year for Mersina but all while keeping in mind that anything Lois gets her hands on will be destroyed (or eaten). Nevertheless, this one also looks good – exploring wintery worlds and decking the halls with candy canes. I
As one mass murder after another places men on the front pages of newspapers these last few weeks, another man, on Facebook, is telling women to take up more space. Be noisier. Be loud and gross. Stand up for yourselves etc. As if these are good things because men already do them.
Apart from the obvious irony of a man telling women what to do, I wonder for what kind of woman would this be relevant?
Would it work on Serena Williams after her 19?
Ellen Degeneres and her $70 million annual salary?
Marie Curie who won two Nobel Prizes?
Steffi Graff who won 19 Grand Slams and the only one to win a Golden Slam?
Chrissie Wellington- ironman champion who wrote about using her urine to disincentivise fellow competitors from using her slipstream in races?
Would it work on Hilary Clinton? Whose number of people killed is a lot higher than the number of shares this guy got?
Would it work on Theresa May or Margaret Thatcher? Destroyer of countries, societies and individuals?
Who are these girls who need to take up more space? Who need to be loud and gross
The ones already doing full time jobs plus many other unpaid jobs and whose hours are filled with responsibilities?
The women who are leaving their homes as refugees and being the strongest survivors amongst the roughest (literal) waters?
He is not talking to empowered, strong, intelligent women or girls. He is talking to victims who if they want to be heard must rise up. He is not rallying against the structural inequalities, which see women weighed down with all the opposing forces available and still succeeding more than men. The ones who couldn’t work because they had to care for children and then had their pensions ripped away with no chance of making money to sustain themselves in the meantime.
He is not talking to the ones succeeding in making black lives matter, speaking up for the environment and the world when men seek to destroy it.
He is not speaking to the doctors and the teachers and the nurses who not only are expected to work for free but are now going to be paying the universities to let them work.
Don’t tell us to take up more space. Look at yourself and own your guilt and role in this crazy and unequal world.
Let’s look at some reality for a second?
How many mass murders have there been in the last 12 months?
How many were committed by women?
How many countries were invaded? Who invaded them? Who benefited?
Who destroyed more of the planet?
Who perpetrated more of the crimes?
Who had more road accidents?
Who caused more harm?
Who abused more?
Who helped more?
Who provided for more?
Who took care of the children?
Who took care of the dying? Of the patients? Of the babies?
Who created humanity?
It’s a sad state of affairs when most of the negatives are perpetrated by men, most of the positives are created and sustained by women, and it’s men who are telling women to be like them?
Why, for God’s sake? We don’t need more chaos, aggression and disaster. It’s time for men to become the humans they were meant to be. It’s time for them to sit down, shut up and care about things around them. Talk less, listen more, help others and repair, rebuild, and nurture.
You stand up. You acknowledge your shame and blame. We will do just fine without some guy on Facebook telling us what to do. We will be even better with fewer men on the front of newspapers.
It’s been a bit of a busy time lately and I keep trying to find time to update this blog but fail miserably. It’s usually because I’m chasing a child around, working on an editing job, or knitting or designing. The designing part has been the most surprising part to that list.
I started writing about it but then had to do something else. But here, see the following:
From a few weeks ago, when I first started writing this post
I have been preoccupied with designing a knitting pattern for the last few days. I took part in Aroha Knit (Francoise’s) #initiateknitdesign five day course and by the end came out with the beginnings of my first written pattern.
Some parts were harder than others. Finding time to knit up a swatch was a bit of a challenge when I was also running around after two little ones because daddy was away, and then translating my successful swatch design to the pattern was even more of a challenge.
What worked on a square, did not work at all on an ever-expanding shawl. From casting on 12 stitches, the pattern is worked until there are 282 on the needles. The stitches increase by one every odd row on only one side.
What I first thought needed to look like this:
and written up like the following pattern:
Turned out in fact to need to be written the other way around, as follows:
And then to be written with cable stitches rather than SSK and M1 stitches. The particularly surprising thing was that the cable stitches went on top of each other rather than a left-leaning diagonal pattern.
It was all rather mind-boggling and I frogged 21 times (give or take a few) but finally got there.
I have now found the final pattern I am sticking with. It’s this one here.
I originally wanted to use one light blue yarn and one sandy one but then realised I had a combination of both in the Suave sock Crushed Melon on Ice. It is 50% superwash Merino wool and 50% mulberry silk and it’s a very soft and silky combination. I used it a week ago for the Persephone crocheted shawl and it’s lovely to wear. Very soft.
The crushed melon colourway sold out very quickly but I dyed up a similar colour but brighter and more vivid: Orange in the Sky.
The pattern did great when it was first released and there have been nearly 3500 downloads. It was number one on the Hot Right Now chart for three days. A month later there have been some people who have made it and helped me sort out more problems with the pattern.
It’s been an educational experience.
I was so excited about releasing a pattern that I sent a swatch to a yarn company for a new pattern and it got accepted. I am in the process of knitting it up and writing the pattern.
A third pattern was rejected from a magazine but I had done a terrible job on knitting a swatch to show what it would look like. I’m now wondering whether to use it for my own yarn or to try to submit it elsewhere. It’s a bit of a niche pattern so I’m still thinking about it.
That’s it for the pattern business.
I have set up a Zanetto group on the Ravelry forums for any pattern support required.
Who doesn’t love CBeebies? Kids love it, and so do parents. BBC children’s programmes, like CBeebies, allow us those precious few minutes in a day to make a cuppa. And we can trust that our kids are watching quality shows.
The email was sent out by 38 Degrees campaign manager Rachel Diamond, in post since November 2015, but signed by many more. Unfortunately, Rachel, Rowan, Nat, David, Megan and the 38 Degrees team don’t seem to have watched and loved that very precious commodity they are trying to save because if they had they wouldn’t be effectively saying: ‘Mothers need a cup of tea and brave activists are fighting the corporate powers.’ They would realise that WE – the mothers / activists who can’t leave the house so are filling up the petition sites like theirs, are the ones who need to be brought on board. Who do they think the thousands who are trying to save Cbeebies are? We may sign this petition because it’s important but not the next one, or the thousand after that.
Well, if you’re listening, you patronising gits, the following is what carers / mothers / fathers know about Cbeebies:
CBeebies teaches our children. It doesn’t just distract them so we can sip and pause.
Here are some of the subjects that came up on the Cbeebies curriculum just last week.
Science: Nina and the Neurons
Arts and crafts:
Music appreciation and practice:
Nutrition (although the influence of the dairy lobby seems to be creeping in. There’s lots of eating dead animals and praising how ‘healthy’ they are, despite the UN’s warning of the devastating impact animal agriculture has on our planet, not to mention animal cruelty. The farm also shows an idealised version of how animals are grown to be used for animal needs and consumption rather than the reality.
Equality: through casting and practice, they battle against gender, race and disability discrimination.
Learning how to deal with mistakes:
The above and many other shows.
Awareness of differences in terms of physical appearance and diversity in development and abilities:
Change and addressing children’s fears:
Going to school: one of the biggest changes children will face.
Friendships: pick a show, any show.
Writing and reading:
Regular routines for children who may come from chaotic households:
Celebrating individual children:
And on and on and on and on. These are brief thoughts on only a handful of shows off the top of my head.
Note that all these shows are appropriate for under 5s!
Baby Jake, the Twirlywoos, In the Night Garden and the Teletubbies are educational and aimed at under 2s.
And on and on. I could fill so many different shows against each of these categories and then add more and more categories.
So how does the 38 degrees petition present its argument?
DON’T LET MURDOCH WIN.
BOO TO COMMERCIALS.
CUP OF TEA.
What kind of an ignorant person even wrote the patronising paragraph that I’m about to repeat?
“Who doesn’t love CBeebies? Kids love it, and so do parents. BBC children’s programmes, like CBeebies, allow us those precious few minutes in a day to make a cuppa. And we can trust that our kids are watching quality shows.”
CBeebies is sacred to those of us who know it but is only a past-time for those who would use it as a tool.
I was up at 3am last night – because toddler – and thought I would catch up with Masterchef.
I needn’t have bothered. Out of all the dishes, only two were vegetarian and all had some animal product in them (one was a dessert).
Meat and dairy feature heavily as if the warnings about cutting consumption of meat and dairy had never happened. Six years ago, the Guardian reported: UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet.
Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: “Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.”
The recommendation follows advice last year that a vegetarian diet was better for the planet from Lord Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the Labour government on the economics of climate change. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has also urged people to observe one meat-free day a week to curb carbon emissions.
I’m mentioning the Guardian article because it was so long ago. Since then the world (at least the UK) has slowly going vegan. In Bristol, vegan after vegan restaurants have been opening. The Metro paper has been constant in its support of veganism, the Huffington Post, the Telegraph, and the Guardian as well.
But Masterchef is still stuck in its planet killing ways.
Time to change!
It’s a sad state of affairs when the biggest, and most successful perhaps, call to veganism comes from trying to save the planet rather than admitting that sentient beings should have rights too. For now, they don’t. Something to think about.
Last night, I was up at 4am reading a terrible book on how to be a successful Etsy seller. It was so badly written that I tried to find the author and offer them my services but they had no obvious social presence and I think the book was not something anyone had spent too much time on. It was one in a long line of marketing books that are priced low and designed for a quick sale.
I also read one or two very well written books by people who genuinely had experience in selling and wanted to share it with others. The well-written books inspired me to share with you some things I would have told the badly-written book’s author if they’d been around. If it helps anyone then it will have been worth it.
So here they are:
The seven things I learnt from badly written books
1. With a good / professional book cover, you’ll get some readers even if your book is terrible. If your book and cover are both good then you’ll have a much better chance of keeping those readers.
2. Make sure your chapters are numbered consecutively. The chapters of the bad book went from 12 to 14 with no 13. It didn’t inspire me with confidence and it wasn’t even the worst thing about it. There were also numbered sections interspersed throughout the book and not confined to the chapters. I was very confused.
3. Website names are proper nouns so you don’t need to use ‘the’ in front of them. The Facebook or the Etsy is just wrong.
4. If you’re going to copy and use text straight from a website you’re writing about, make sure you format it so that it’s obvious it is not your writing; indent and leave space above and below, or use quotation marks at the beginning and end of the text.
5. Use specific examples rather than general talk around an issue. For example, if you’re writing to tell people about how to promote their shops on etsy, give examples and directions.
Bad example from a book that shall remain nameless – I have not skipped any content, the following is the entirety of what was written in that section. I read the whole book and there was no better advice:
“The Etsy has millions of buyers and a variety of business stores with them; therefore, you will get lots of opportunities to sell your products. You can work without prior experience because the experts in the team and online labs will help you to grow your business.”
Good example from a helpful book:
“The Etsy Blogs should be your last stop, because it is going to be important to remember what you learn there. Under the Blogs tab are links to the Etsy Blog, Etsy News Blog and the Seller Handbook.
You may wish to scan the News Blog and see what is going on, but the Seller handbook is the real reason that we are looking at this tab. The handbook contains dozens of outstanding articles for both beginning and experienced Etsians. The articles are provided by the Etsy staff. They focus on providing tips to organize your business, price goods and develop your brand.
Before I built my shop, I read all of the applicable posts in the Handbook. There is a lot of information that can help you to develop a profitable business on Etsy. There are two final pages to visit: 1) Etsy Seller Guidelines at https:// www.etsy.com/ help/ article/ 4507 2) Etsy Seller FAQs at https:// www.etsy.com/ help/ topics? ref = help_faq_suggestion”
(From – Etsy Empire by Eric Michael)
6. Make sure your first page (at least!) makes sense. Get someone else to read your work for you. There’s a lot of talk about beta readers these days, which is just a way of saying people who will give you feedback. Don’t ask family and friends unless they like your genre or style of writing. They’re bound to be biased.
But who else can you ask because for most of us, we only know and stay in touch with family and friends? Maybe ask your friends then but try to ensure they like the kind of thing you are writing about and are able to provide useful feedback. If not completely unbiased, they could at least provide a sense check on your writing.
7. Remember to provide your contact details such as your social media accounts and any website details. Don’t use URL shortcuts because they might stop working.
I hope these are helpful in some way. It would be nice to think that my 4am frustrations with books that aren’t great, weren’t for nothing.
Some other helpful tips can be found in this Book Helpline ebook.