Feb 28th

Grumpy Old Man

By Kenty
I'm fast turning into a grumpy old man; met up with an old friend last night for a drink at my local;after been served with my first pint of guinness that took the child behind the bar about 10 seconds to pull; she put her hand out for payment saying; is that it; while turning her face away to carry on her conversation with one of her creche friends that had been taking place before I had rudely interrupted; I remained silent and then asked my friend what he would like to drink; larger; I then have to repeat to her; larger; wot one she says while looking up to the ceiling; now all 3 of us are looking up; have I missed something; is there some kind of secret larger hidden in the ceiling; Carling cold my friend Say's; she demands payment while the pint is pouring; my change is then returned wet and stained with sticky beer; I say thank-you; she looks back confused; like I have just insulted her or spoken in a foreign language.
We find some where to sit and already I'm moaning about the state of my pint and that we will have the one then move onto the other pub up the road; I dont like going there as the music is to loud and there is always some deluded woman singing on the karaoke with her inbred family applauding every song, now I want a ciggie; I have to apologise to my friend who shakes his head saying; it;s about time I gave up; how hard it was for him giving me a day to day account of how he done it; I cut him short saying I need my ciggie now.
As I make my way out through the pub to the rear garden; the child behind the bar stares at me as if I am leaving with out paying or something; standing out side under a ripped parasol a left over from the summer that never was I am joined by 2 other adult males; while puffing and enjoying every bit of my ciggie I can't help but hear parts of there conversation; I don't want to hear it; I just want to smoke my ciggie; then one of them Say's; are you such and such from school; yes I am; do you remember me; Mick Smith; we were at the same infant school; oh yes I reply; this is a lie as I haven't got a clue who he is; I am then interrogated as to what has happened in my life; he must know every thing; like it's his divine right;he go's on; do you remember her/ him etc, they are now dead and so on; then smiling and shaking his head at me like it's some kind of miracle that we were born' go to school' then become adults and we happen to be in the same pub, my ciggie is long finished, I'm starting to get cold politely nodding my head at him while walking backwards making a retreat back into the pub.
My friend and I sink pint after pint while putting the world to right; and the plan of moving to the other pub is soon forgotten; every time I go out for a ciggie I am further interrogated by a noding' grining Mike Smith.
I arrive home late and feel like I am committing some kind of crime by having a final ciggie before I go to bed in the comfort of my own house.
Next morning I am woken by the sound of the door bell ringing; dashing down stairs in my dressing gown I open the door to find John my regular post man; his shaking his head; complaining about his work load; I see he has a parcel under his arm; could this be the vinyl records I have ordered and paid for from the Amazon; I am bursting for a pee; feeling sick with a thumping headache; I slouch on wall having to listen to John going on and on; why have I got to listen to him; why can't he just give me my parcel and go; then the phone rings; thinking I'm saved I say; sorry John, I have to answer the phone while holding my hand out to take delivery of my parcel; oh' you have to sign for it he says; while gesturing with his hand for me to answer my phone then following me into the living room; on answering the phone there is no one on the other end; hello; hello; then the line go's dead.
Johns shaking his head; saying; get a lot of them now days; call centres you know; please I'm thinking; just let me sign and give me my parcel; what gives you the right to hold it to ramson while I have to listen to your uninteresting dribble; time to be rude, I say where would you like me to sign while making my way to the front door; John falls silent; gives me my parcel and the paper to sign then leaves through the front door looking hurt; looking back at me like I have just killed a member of his family or something; I close the door and run upstairs to the toilet; ah' relief at last; the rest of the day is spent moaning about everything; like why does my toaster only toast half the bread; why has my printer decided to run out of ink; and after replacing it with new ink cartridges the dam thing decides not to work; Why! Why! yes I have turned into that grumpy old man; I admit it.


Feb 21st

Ebooks

By northisles
Hi,

Ive never done a blog before and with that in mind I shall set out why its here.

Sam Jordison at Writers workshop reviewed my manuscript and with his advice I have tidied my book as much as I can. I have consequently set up a web site to act as a portal for anyone with similar problems to leave comments and as a way of advertising the book which concerns  my struggle with Multiple Sclerosis and how it redefines life. It links to a Lulu storefront in an effort to achieve a sale or two in slow time, better £4.00 a year then nothing stuck on my PC .

The question is can anyone advise me on the best way to let people know its out there.

Looking forward to any replies/advice.

Ian
Feb 18th

Love to Wordle?

By Harry
Do you like our word cloud-y logo in the top right corner of our screen?

Of course you do! It's lovely! See what it's done to Wordsworth's least lovable poem!

And here's the extraordinary news. You can make your own. Easily. It's the work of a moment. Just head on over to the discussions tab. Scroll down to the bit about Wordles and other images. Read what it tells you there (you'll want to start with the Wordling for Simpletons). Then wordle away.

Actually saving your wordles is a tiny tad more difficult but if you've got any photo software on your PC (Photoshop / Corel / anything else), then it's as easy as pie. Sweet cherry pie.

First person to send us a halfway sensible word cloud logo gets to see it replace our existing logo. Happy wordling.
Feb 16th

Whatever happened to Hilaire Belloc?

By Phil
One of my mother's greatest feats was being able to recite from memory Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tale, 'Matilda, who told lies and got burned to death'. She did so at every opportunity, which accounts for my strong moral fibre, and my nervous tic.

In this age of loose morals, surely we need a new Hilaire Belloc to warn of the dangers of sliding off the straight and narrow? Well, if no one else is keen to 'step up to the plate', for all those who witness terrible things happening in their offices, I offer the following....

Jim, who avoided teamwork and suffered the consequences

 

Jim’s approach to interaction

Drove his colleagues to distraction.

He caused them all much grief, it seems,

By never taking part in teams.

Now teamwork, as I’m sure you know

Is central to our status quo:

It’s how consultants earn their fees

With lessons from the Japanese.

But Jim just didn’t seem to care –

He shunned his team-mates everywhere.

 

When colleagues, as they often do,

Announced there’d be a drink or two

That evening at The King & Queen

(“The unofficial works canteen”

As it had wittily been named)

Jim always answered much the same:

"I’m sorry, but I’ve got a few

Outstanding tasks that I must do.”

 

Jim liked to think things through alone:

He often left his telephone

Switched off, so he could think things through.

The emails in his inbox grew

And grew, but he would only read

Those which displayed a pressing need –

And as for all the hundreds more

Which knocked upon his cyberdoor

With Jim’s name in the ‘cc:’ field,

To these ones he would never yield:

If all they said was ‘FYI’,

They were not graced with a reply.

How irresponsible, each day

To simply throw such things away!

He should send thousands every week:

It’s called the ‘C.Y.A.’ technique.

(Please don’t ask me to translate –

It might be ‘inappropriate’.)

 

His fellow workers every day

Would talk (in that supportive way

That colleagues will) behind his back

About the qualities he lacked.

It’s clear, though he will not admit it

That he is simply not committed!”

 

Well, one week things came to a head:

The Managing Director said

That teamwork was now de rigeur

And all the firm’s employees were

To go on a team seminar.

(He then departed in his car

To play golf with a colleague who,

Like him, felt he already knew

About the subject; if they’d stayed,

They knew they’d just be in the way.)

 

And so Jim and his team-mates went

To part of Wales, where they spent

Two days among the hills and trees

Engaged in such activities

As building bridges out of sticks

Or towers out of Lego bricks

(Both of which, it’s plain to see

Will boost your profits instantly -

If only you can find a way

To link them to your working day).

 

Midway through the morning’s games

I’m sorry, ‘exercises’ –  James

Was spotted walking off alone,

In conversation on his phone,

While his team on the climbing wall

Were bonding, trying not to fall.

They asked Jim why he did not climb.

He said: “It’s all a waste of time!

We’d get much more done back at work,

This seems like an excuse to shirk!”

 

This was pushing things a bit;

The MD got to hear of it.

Better off at work? I say!

If everybody thought that way

In just what sort of state would be

Our sceptre’d isle’s industry?”

 

They couldn’t let this get about,

So Jim found he’d been ‘managed out’

(Which means, for those who do not know,

They simply engineered things so

That one day Jim discovered he

Had been replaced by a PC.

They made it clear he wasn’t fired,

But knew that he would soon grow tired

Of having nothing much to do;

And so he did). And so to you,

Dear reader, must I now relay

The lesson of Jim’s darkest day:

 

 

However cut-throat work may be,

It thrives on reciprocity;

So, if you don't want to get hurt,

Pretend to be an extravert!

Feb 12th

Critiques - problems uploading material

By The WordCloud

Yikes! We've got problems at the heart of the site. People trying to post their work in the Critiques section are having real problems. If you post just 2-3,000 words from Word and avoid any clever formatting, then it SHOULD work, but the site is being a bit glitchy.

Our best brains are on the case - we have a team of geeks in an underground cavern - we are planning to snatch Bill Gates and hold him hostage until the problem is resolved - but for now, big sorries and we'll fix the problem as soon as we can.

Feb 12th

A House of Capes

By Paul
So I went to the library to return a book yesterday and parked up outside a shop, the name and custom of which has been playing so heavily on my mind that I felt compelled to share it.  The shop was called: The House of Capes.  Well that can't be right, I hear some of you say.  A house built of capes?  Surely not?  And you'd be correct.  Still others I hear cry: A shop selling only capes?  Surely not?  My friends, your amazement is justified.  It was a shop selling nothing but nothing but capes.

Which got me thinking.  Who needs a cape these days anyway?  Presumably your average superhero already has a select batch in their secret lair or under their everyday suit?  And if they needed a replacement, isn't there a bespoke tailor to whom they all turn?  How else could they be sure that their logo is correctly emblazoned on the back, or that the bullet-proofing is correctly tested?  The House of Capes surely doesn't provide such a service, does it?

So anyway, if you are a regular person looking to become a superhero, maybe give The House of Capes a call.  Equally, if you are a genuine superhero and your cape is nothing but decorative (I am probably only talking to Superman here), why not price-match your current supplier?  In the meantime, I'm off to look for other stores named The House of... to see if I can find an even more ridiculous word with which someone has completed that phrase.  A House of Cheese, anyone?
Feb 11th

To novella or not to novella

By ProtagarusRa
Imagine this: you have three and a quarter MSs to your name. The first two are complete and utter garbage; but the third, well, the third has received some mighty praise from those editors that actually take the time to read your stuff - the ones you pay. What's more, the third MS received a bit of attention from some indie publishers - but didn't progress thru to publication.

Your fourth MS - really just a quarter of the way through - has a strong central theme (your favourite theme - similar ground to your third MS) and story but seems to weaken as you shoe-horn in sub-plots.

You still think of that third MS; it was lithe, funny, had a message to tell. If only those pesky publishers agreed.

Ah, you think, solution. Maybe you should parse the third MS and dump the sub-plots from the fourth, and leave yourself with two novellas on the same theme. Question, you ponder, does that take their chances of being published from the lofty height of "almost certainly not" to the definitive "absolutely no chance" ?

?


Feb 11th

Say It With a Simile

By Phil
I know we all hate emails, but be careful: our hatred of them is producing an unfortunate side-effect. The drive to make emails succinct and to-the-point is in the process stripping all the colour out of the English language.  Of course you want to get through your 300 emails a day as quickly as possible, but wouldn’t you like just one or two of them to have a touch of the poetic, to lift your spirits a little?

So, for anyone who wants to inject a bit of colour into their emails, here are some literary role models for you to emulate….

 

From: William Shakespeare

To: Product Manager, toothpaste

Subject: Sales figures for January

 

I write, my liege, with news of some alarm.

Hereto attached, a document you’ll find,

Whose meat and substance, I am sure,

Will drain the very colour from your jowls.

In brief, we are undone: our foe gains ground,

And from our grasp has wrenched our market share.

His advertising, like a weed, at first

Has semblance of a flower, pastel-hued.

But when our docile customer leans in,

Its scent to savour, then its tendrils cruel

Break through the soil, bind their victim fast

And choke the life from our superior stems.

This tangled foliage we must strim away,

And with much haste: Cry ‘havoc!’ and conduct

A focus group; note well consumer trends,

Then conjure up the alchemy of Branding

And with its banner upward, march to war.

Thus this unweeded garden shall we till,

So it becomes our cust’mers favoured place.

There is no other course, it needs be so:

For in this age doth Marketing hold sway,

And ‘neath its yoke we mortals must obey.

 

From: Charles Dickens

To: Product Manager, toothpaste

Subject: Regional Focus Group results, Brighton

My dearest colleague,

Nothing – I repeat, sir, nothing – causes me quite so much wonder as the infinite variety of manners, humours and physical stature brought about by human evolution, so clearly in evidence in the ragged assemblage brought together in the name of research – to wit, the membership of this week’s focus group.  As our esteemed marketing manager Mr Ponsonby Pumblecrud busied himself with the many minutiae which seem to form the largest part of his employ (of the precise nature of which we lesser mortals remain in ignorance), and while in his shadow nimbly crept Mrs Dora Dilworthy the brand manager, with the demeanour of one who peeps from behind the knees of a giant, and yet in so doing sees the true meaning of things, I afforded myself the luxury of a few minutes to take in the scene before me.  Oh, how wondrous it is that the promise of free samples brings forth such a seething throng, ever eager to serve their country in return for floss and mouthwash!

My gaze alighted first upon an ill-bred looking fellow with skin like the crust of a raised game pie, engrossing himself in the task of ascertaining the precise quantity of toothpowder which would afford both his teeth and his ample toothbrush the most satisfactory brushing experience – an experience which, to judge by the similarity of his teeth to the barnacle-clad rocks which lay within view of our seaside hotel, might be somewhat new to him; he nevertheless applied himself to the goal of making the highest quality decision possible, having been entreated to do so with great aplomb by his appointed researcher: a marketing student whose own rather more geometrically precise incisors stood out above a chin like a cornfield after the burning of the corn and a neck like a fatty cut of mutton; this individual, benefiting as he doubtless did from the opportunities afforded him by one of our finest educational establishments – a soubriquet which, if one is brutally honest, appears only within the publicity material of that same institution – and subject of course to what space he had left to digest such opportunities, competing as they did with the many demands on his student time (those measuring highest on alcoholic content presumably being afforded a modicum of attention slightly in advance of those which his school and family would consider more worthy of a young gentleman of his bearing); this individual, as I say….  Sorry, I can’t remember how I started the sentence – I’ll email you again in a minute.

 

From: Winnie the Pooh

To: Product manager, toothpaste

Subject:  My resignation

Cottlestone, Cottlestone, Cottlestone Pie,

A fish can’t manage, and neither can I.

I’ve hated this job, so I’m saying ‘goodbye’ -

Cottlestone, Cottlestone, Cottlestone Pie,

 

Feb 10th

It has been a Fantastic Journey!

By Martyn

I am a retired Deputy Headteacher who took up writing fantasy/adventure books in late 2007 at the age of 58.
UNUSUAL FANTASY/ADVENTURE FOR ALL THE FAMILY!

I write for my own pleasure and, hopefully to give others pleasure too. Writing can be like a drug, drowning me in my fantasy world 24/7. I aim for 2000-3000 words per day in a disciplined approach that involves me in my stories; mind, body and soul.

My major influences have been Stephen King and others, but also listening to children and students in a career of 30 years in High School education.

My books are set in the 1960s at the time when I was growing up and provide nostalgia for anyone seeking memories of that era. The fantasy I write about, of course, is timeless!

The greatest pleasure a writer can have is getting a complete stranger to read their work - worth more than monetary royalties. And if that stranger is entertained and finds enjoyment for a few hours or days, then the hard work has all been worth it.

 

Where authors and readers come together!

Unusual fantasy/adventure books for all the family by MARTYN CROFT, available now!

Set in 1960s East Anglia in England, this is a series of FOUR books about two teenage boys growing up in an age when it was still possible to believe in fantastic adventures. A mixture of reality and fantasy based in a sleepy seaside town where nothing ever happens; that is until ….

Read all about these magical adventures through the eyes of best friends, Eddie and Len – from ‘The Fantastic Journey’ (available from www.arimapublishing.co.uk), with its time-travel through Europe and on to ‘Anywhere and Nowhere’ (available from www.Lulu.com), with its nostalgic glimpse of railways in the 1960s. Finally, delve into the ghost world with our two heroes in ‘The Haunting of Eddie Compton’ and ‘Heaven on Earth’ (both also available from www.Lulu.com).

Enjoy if you will! These books are suitable for grandparents and grandchildren alike, without any of the contrived situations of science fiction or most fantasy novels. See how reality can be stranger than fantasy and how fantasy is nothing more than an extension of reality.

As an alternative, why not check out the beautiful 2009 calendar of premium studio quality, with a dozen glorious pictures of some of Lincolnshire’s historic churches, dating from the 13th Century. Be the envy of all your friends with this gorgeous addition to any home or office.~~

http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=2674295
Feb 9th

When The Bone Breaks

By BrianK
As I looked out of the window a few days ago at the canopy of snow that covered my garden, elmiminating almost every distinctive feature, it occurred to me that the most important part of my novel might be in danger of disappearing beneath the thickly accumulating narrative. So I took some time to re-focus, reminding myself to look for the broken bone.

When my youngest daughter was being born I had a broken ankle and was forced to hover around the delivery room on crutches much to the annoyance of the midwife who was clearly of the old school and believed that a man had no place in a delivery room. And as for a man on crutches! Well it simply didn't bear thinking about. This unfortunate situation had come about because the brakes on my car had needed fixing and being only a struggling writer I was too poor to take it to the garage. So I was trying to do the job myself.

I had jacked the car up and taken off one of the front wheels. But as I worked, the whole thing became unstable. Realising that the car was about to topple towards me, I put my foot against the bodywork, in a futile attempt to steady it. Of course it was much too heavy to be held in place like this and simply continued to topple forwards, bending my foot backwards until, with a sickening crunch, I felt the bone crack.

It seems to me that in almost every novel there is a moment when the bone breaks, when a character’s eyes are opened, the truth becomes inescapably clear and events are changed irrevocably. Everything that happens afterwards is a direct result of that moment and though the bone may be mended, the memory of the fracture is imprinted on the character’s history.

It is with this moment that a novel generally begins in my head. The rest of the plot develops around it. This is true even if the story is light hearted and comical, even if it is a story about the birth of a child to two proud and happy parents. At some point the hero of the story must limp painfully into the kitchen, look white-faced and sheepishly at his wife, then order a taxi to take him to the hospital.


You can read Brian's regular blog at http:/www.odyllicforce.blogspot.com